Before I write a fiction book, my first thought is, do I even want to do this? As we all know, even writing a two-page essay is plenty of work. Firmly and convicting I decide to myself, yes I really want to do this!
The first thing I come up with is an idea - a topic. I'm sure many authors have their own approach, but I'll share my approach with you. I think about this topic for a few weeks and dream about the many ideas ... how can I start this story? What are some of the conflicts, relationships, and adventures that will provoke the reader to want more. Is there an antagonist and a protagonist? The ending is also something that I struggle with mentally - I normally don't decide that until I've written most of the story. Do I want this to be a happy ending or a sad ending? Personally, I don't like cliffhangers. I try my best to write three different endings and then select the best one that flows with the entire story.
The characters that I build in my story are people that I take great pride in creating. My mind leads me to people I've known from the past. The personalities, the appearances, and the behaviors. I put a twist in some of my characters visualizing their actions and what might happen based on their impulses. At fifty-six years of age I have so many memorable experiences that I take full advantage of my knowledge and apply it to the story.
When and where is this story taking place? This is important so that I can describe a setting or maybe music in the background. In my newest book, I picked the 1980s and the place is Gervais High School, simply because that's where I graduated from - I know the area well. This makes it easy to write about places where characters hang out.
I try to outline my chapters ahead of time, although it seems like I always change the titles or add new chapters along the way based on flow. While in this writing process I get frustrated at times because I discover that I've written something in the first chapter that doesn't pan out with what I wrote in the fourth chapter. Naturally, I go back and rewrite for accuracy on context.
The frustrations and tiring work of writing a book is something I detach from the enjoyment of creativity and the passion of telling a story and sending a positive message to the readers. The sacrifice is worth giving to the audience.
After the first year of writing this book, I start seeing my characters come to life when I'm sleeping at night. In my new book, Carlos (a poor Hispanic kid) and Liz ( a wealthy White girl) are high-school sweethearts experiencing many things during their senior year, conflicts, new challenges, and new friendships. Not everyone accepts interracial couples. Dirk is the bully and the antagonist that can't stand to see a Hispanic kid with one of his own kind. As the senior year is coming to an end, Carlos is faced with a major decision. Will he bypass a college scholarship to play football for a chance at signing a major contract to play professional football? This could bring his family out of poverty.
My thoughts went to Liz's character and how she deals with this. Carlos would be giving up an education for big money in the Canadian Football League. Liz would rather Carlos play college football - she has her reasons.
As I develop the scenarios in my mind day after day, my head is numb from thinking and writing. Sometimes I'll take a couple of days off to rest my brain - that helps a lot. As I arrive at completing the first draft after two years of work, I see a light at the end of a tunnel. It's quite relieving to finally be done with my main idea of a story.
The not-so-fun work begins. Paragraph transitions, grammar errors, correct spelling, and rewrites. This process is called editing. I have about five grammar-reference books that I use. It's amazing how many times I will read the story I wrote for editing purposes - on the average, about twenty times - we're talking over 250 pages. I print the manuscript out - much easier than sitting at the computer editing. My wife, Loni, is my reader and editing partner. It's so important to have a different set of eyes. I encourage anyone that writes a book to get a reader.
The book cover is another piece that is crucial. I want the cover to catch someone's attention and to fit what the story is about. I pick the photos and I write the text for the back or front of the cover. My son, Jake, studied computer graphics at the University of Oregon. He designs all my book covers. My son, Matt, does a great job with photography - he provides the photo for the front cover.
It takes dedication, persistence, and hard work. I lay down a set of objectives and one goal. The most important object is, write every day even if it's for one hour a day. Use Microsoft Word (or word processor that publisher requires) and get a flash drive to save the progress you've made. Find a comfortable seat and stretch a lot - sitting is not good for the back. Get plenty of rest. Look away from the screen periodically to prevent eye strain - maybe look out of the window for a few minutes. There's more objectives, but I won't list all of them. My one goal is to see the finished paperback book that I wrote - many people will not have the same feeling as the author. The author knows what it took to put this product into the competitive market.
When I feel the manuscript is clean, I then submit it to my publisher. We start the publishing process which is another challenge and adventure - I won't talk too much about this. It involves a contract that the publishing company has the author sign - must read carefully. The manuscript is received from the publisher in a PDF file. It is sent back and forth with revisions from the author until both sides are happy. Once approved, the cover and manuscript are sent to the printing plant for setup and print. After a few days the book is available for online sells through Amazon or any book stores. The author can order a shipment of books for signings and appearances.
Keep in mind that every author publishes a different way. Some authors may even have an agent or a publicist to help with marketing - I can't really afford one right now. But maybe some day I will get an offer for nation-wide distribution - still working on that part. So when someone wants to know about publishing, well, that's a tough one to answer because there are many ways.
My fourth and newest book is called, Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II - sports fiction. It took me roughly two years to write this story - I feel passionate about the subject. This uplifting story sends a positive message and will keep you going chapter after chapter. Release month is June 2015.
I'm holding a book signing on Saturday, June 20, 2015, 11:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. in Keizer, Oregon, at Big Town Hero. It will be an informal book signing ... drop by and purchase my new book when it's convenient for you. I look forward to meeting you.
My goal is to someday make it to the best seller list - God willing. What I stand for as an author, is to deliver clean reading material for pleasure to everyone out there of all ages.
Thank you for taking the time,