Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Author profile - with - Hugh Howey

Join me in welcoming Hugh Howey, author of the Silo book series to The Book News Journal author profile.  

1 - When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was 12, but it took me twenty years before I started completing anything. I finished my first manuscript in 2009 at the age of 34. And I’ve been grinding out stories ever since.

2 - Do you read much?  If yes, have you always loved reading?

Avidly. And yeah, I’ve loved reading since I learned with picture books.

3 -  Who’s your favorite author?  What’s your favorite book?

I don’t know that I have a favorite author. I read such a wide variety of works. But five of my favorite novels are all from Neal Stephenson, so he has to be right up there. My favorite book right now might be LEXICON by Max Barry.

4 - What writers have influenced you the most?

Recently, it’s been other self-published authors who have influenced me the most. Annie Bellet convinced me to start producing audiobooks, which has been a huge boost for me. Matthew Mather has been a good friend and a source of sound advice. Jason Gurley has been an inspiration. The authors who have blazed trails for me and become my friends are the ones who influence me the most.

5 - Do you have a favorite fictional character?  Either from a book or movie or a tv show?

Han Solo from Star Wars, without question. When I worked as a yacht captain, I felt like I was Han. I was forever having to bang on things to get them working, and I felt like a decent-hearted pirate at sea. A ruffian.

6 - What are you working on right now?  Can you tell us something about it?

I’m working on a piece of fan fiction set in the world of Kurt Vonnegut. It’s the first thing I’ve written about being at the World Trade Center on 9/11. It’s been very difficult to write, but also cathartic.

7 - Is there anything in particular that you do to get in the mood to write, or to get in the ‘zone’?  Any particular pre-writing routines? 

Not really. I read the paper, eat a bowl of cereal, and force myself to sit and write. I don’t think you can wait for inspiration. You have to write until you become inspired.

8 - Where do you do your writing?

At home, either at my desk or on the sofa. I write on a laptop, which means I can write anywhere. My dog is usually nearby.

9 - How do you approach your writing?  i.e. - Do you do outlines?  Character bios?  Etc.?

I spend a lot of time thinking about my story and my characters, and then I just start writing. I might make some notes in another document, but not a heavy outline, just ideas about key scenes or conversations.

10 - Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. It’s all about practice, which means sitting down and doing the actual writing. In order to get in the habit of finishing a work and revising it to publication, try writing shorter pieces. Don’t start off and try to finish a marathon. Begin with a few 5Ks.

11 - Are you a morning person or evening person?  Day or night?

I do my writing in the morning and my business stuff at night. I think better in the morning.

12 - Do you have any pets?

Oh yeah, my dog is my constant companion. I would be a mess without her.

13 - What’s your favorite ‘I need a break from writing’ activity?

A hike on the beach with my dog. This is where I unwind. I also enjoy meals with my wife, whether we go out somewhere or order a pizza in.

14 - How do you approach writing sex scenes?  They can range from mild to wild.  Where are you on the mild to wild meter?

I’ve been mild thus far. I hope to step it up.

15 - Do you write in one genre?  Or more than one?

I’m all over the place. I write horror, fiction, science fiction, young adult, and post-apocalyptic. I also write in varying lengths, from short stories to novels. I enjoy it all.

16 - Are you self-published or with a publishing house?

Both. I self-publish first, but publishers have picked up several of my books afterward. This is how I prefer it. I go straight to the reader. If a publisher wants to get involved afterward, that’s awesome. Meanwhile, the books are spreading like wildfire, and readers aren’t having to wait.

17 - What are your thoughts on getting a literary agent?

If you can find a good one, they are awesome to have. They really can expand your reach. I’m incredibly lucky to be with Kristin Nelson, who I think is one of the smartest people working in publishing today.

18 - What about marketing?  How do you approach that area?

I don’t like marketing. What I do is interact with my existing readers. I just make myself available to them. Readers learn about good books through other readers, not directly from authors. This is the way it should be. Besides, I’ve never been comfortable asking anyone to read my stuff.

19 - What about beta readers?  Do you use them?  How many do you have?  Where do you find them?

I do. I send out manuscripts to half a dozen readers and take their feedback into account before I publish. This is an invaluable resource. I’m very lucky in that I have dozens of people begging to participate in exchange for getting an early look at my work and a say in the creation process.

20 - What’s your favorite food?

Pepperoni pizza.

21 - What’s your favorite color?

Green.

22 - Is there a particular website or facebook page or blog that you, as a writer, find very helpful?

Absolutely. That would be the Writers’ CafĂ© at KBoards.

23 - What’s your favorite time of the year?

Fall. I like the coming of cooler weather.

24 - What’s your most recent book about?  And where can people buy it?

My most recent release was DUST, which is the third and final chapter in the series that began with WOOL. It’s available online at most distributors. A few brave independent bookstores might be carrying it.

25 - As a writer, what do you feel is your strongest gift or talent or skill that you have, that helps you the most as a writer?

Dedication. The ability to get up every single day, year after year, and spend hours writing is the most important skill a writer can possess. Reading as much as possible is a close second to this ability. Because if you can’t put the hours into the writing, nothing else matters.

26 - Please share some of your links with us - facebook author page, website, where people can find your books –

My website: www.hughhowey.com

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cover reveal of Paulyanna with Paul Douglas Lovell

I am very grateful to Jacqueline for hosting my cover reveal on their page today.  I’m delighted to be sharing my cover with you and to tell you a little about how it came into being.  My first priority was to publish a good quality read of a standard equal to that of the big publishing houses. This meant that after paying for a professional editor to achieve my aim. I hadn’t the funds to splash out on a graphic designer so had to go it alone. And here it is…



OK, so why this cover for Paulyanna: International Rent-boy?

I chose this cover firstly because, out of all my attempts, it really was my personal favourite. I simply liked the colours. It was also created organically and without much outside influence, meaning I didn’t blatantly copy any other book.

I allowed the layout, colour scheme and font to develop as I went along. Trial and error – and this was made up of many errors. A bit like myself and therefore a very apt choice.

What does the cover tell us about your book?

I am not glossy or over-produced. I’m simple, perhaps a touch plain, therefore so is my story. I think it truthfully reflects the content.

Symbolically I am one among many and ALMOST like every other rent-boy, only red.

What were you trying to achieve with this cover?

I wanted to grab attention, draw the eye to my book. I think it is also more special if the author creates their own cover; it inserts an additional personal touch, a nice completion to the whole creative process. I am no designer and these things are taste preference anyway. I am aware that some people simply don’t like green.  

Was is it easy to design?

To design, yes. To lay out and implement my ideas, no. But that turned out to be a good thing since, as I said, this cover developed more out of the things I couldn’t do, Mistakes I thought looked OK and then played around with.

I used a basic drawing program that was very limited, sometimes insufficient. I searched online and used another program when mine fell short.  http://www160.lunapic.com/editor/

How many other cover designs did you discard on the way?

Nine. I got right into the designing process and could have continued on and on. My first was terrible and I got a bit better along the way. The only image I kept throughout was the royalty free clip art of the lone figure. 

I’m not even entirely sure if I did get better. I enthused about all of my covers, but always seemed to like the latest one more than the previous. I get bored easily so perhaps it was the new and the different I liked. 

Did you ask for other people’s opinions and was that helpful – or confusing?

I did ask for opinions which was VERY confusing. Online you don’t know if the person you’re asking is colour blind, abstract-minded or a top-notch graphic designer.

Working for two hours on a design to get the response “I don’t like green” is not helpful, especially when another comes back saying “Oh green, how lovely”.

I found it better to create a straightforward photo poll with my shortlist. A poll with the simple option to click your favourite, leaving no room for discussion.

Having been through the process, what tips can you pass on about designing a cover?
Scroll a book site, see what sticks out or appeals to you and start from there.  Chances are your product will morph into one of your own making and not be particularly like anything you initially spied. Keep it simple whenever possible and try to consider the content at all times; it is amazing how quickly you can get carried away.


Finally, tell us about Paulyanna: International Rent-boy in 100 words.

A quick decision that steered me down a rather dodgy path.

Without added glamour and grit, this is the tale of a 1990s British rent-boy. Risk and danger mixes with fun and thrills in my twelve-year career as a male prostitute.

A precarious existence on the streets of London and Los Angeles boulevards.

May not have been pretty but I had the audacity to succeed. This is not an erotic tale, more an intimate portrayal of day-to-day life as viewed from my quirky perspective. What goes on behind a glassy-eyed smile.

A road-book adventure in search of happiness.

You can find out more regarding Paulyanna: International Rent-boy by visiting my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PwrPuffGzr.  Again I would like to thank my host and also you the reader, so thanks.