Friday, November 16, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Author Kate Aaron last week tagged me in her blog post, which means she passed a series of questions to me that I'm supposed to answer on my blog, and then tag other writers who do the same on their blog.

Slip on over to Kate's blog for a few minutes, peruse her answers, then come on back here and see what I have to say about my next work (I shift gears quite a bit from my horror and thriller work for this one).

And now, on to the next big thing!

What is the title of your next book?
Still working on that, although the tentative title is CHOICES.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's hard to pinpoint one event or idea. Over the years I've come to realize the natural results of many choices I've made over my lifetime. Some turned out okay, others were bad choices that still have an effect not only on me, but my entire family. Unfortunately, I think many of us make more bad choices than good along the way. It was that theme I wanted to explore.

What genre does you book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, that's a though one. For my main character, Joey Reagan, I see John Stamos, although he'd need to be about 25 years younger. His sister, Amy Martin, would be played by Sarah Lancaster and his would-be girlfriend, Jessica, I think would be played by Zooey Deschanel (with a different color hair – you'll have to read the book to learn what color). As for the father, Jack, I think I'd like to see Gene Hackman play that role – not necessarily because he fits, but I can't think of a better actor.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
(Okay, I'm cheating on this and using two sentences). A series of bad choices cost Jack his family and career, and left his kids growing up alone. Years later he and his son, Joey, are faced with a chance to put aside a lifetime of hurt – can they overcome their past, or will they each make another bad decision with life-long, maybe even eternal, consequences?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your novel?
About six years. Okay, maybe not quite that long, but it was a good long time between the beginning and the finish. I started the novel several years back, got a couple of thousand words into it, then put it aside. Once I came back to it and decided to finish, it was really about a month of writing time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
“The Christmas Box” by Richard Paul Evans or perhaps Donna VanLeire's series of Christmas novels (“The Christmas Promise,” “The Christmas Hope,” and a few others).

Who or what inspired you to write your book?
Oh boy, I hope you have some time on your hands.

Three separate events, separated by 17 years.

The first happened when I was a young reporter, way back in the dark ages (1989, I believe), three local homeless men died in a fire. The three had taken shelter in a vacant building on a particularly cold winter night, built a small fire to stay warm and some time during the night while they slept it went out of control and burned the building down. I was the reporter who drew the assignment of spending a couple of days out on the streets, talking with various homeless people, local shop owners who may have known them, trying to figure out who these guys were, what they were like, what led to this end. Turns out one of them had plenty of money in the bank – he wasn't rich, but he had close to $40,000 there. You could buy some small houses in that city for that amount of money back in those days. His family said he just got tired of life one day and left, and had been living on the streets for years.

The second event happened in 2006. I was group publisher of some newspapers and various other publications, making good money for the company, when I was asked to do a couple of things I found unethical, which I couldn't do. Pretty soon the firm I worked for decided it was time to “change things up” and “go a different direction.” My job, along with a few others, was eliminated. Up to that point I had been paid reasonably well, but I was the sole bread-winner for a family of seven and it didn't take long for us to find ourselves in pretty bad shape. For two years I did a combination of part-time work, freelance writing, selling some fiction here and there, taking a job for a small weekly publisher who ended up stiffing me on quite a bit of pay, all the while flirting with losing our rental home. Even after I found a decent job and moved to a new place, we struggled with – and to a degree continue to struggle with – some of the repercussions of those two years. True confession time here: There were times during that period when I just didn't care, I didn't see any end. I worked and worried and did what I had to do to keep my family fed and under a roof, but for me, personally, if no one else was involved I would have just walked away and ended up homeless. I came to a point where I understood what that gentlemen from years ago must have felt – sometimes, it's just easier to walk away, even if that literally means living on the street. I think readers will see some of that in CHOICES.

The final part of the “inspiration” came when I read “The Christmas Promise” by Donna VanLiere. As a writer and editor I have a terrible, awful tendency to sometimes read work by someone else and say “oh heck, I could do that,” or think “that's not really all that good.”

I don't know Ms. VanLiere and have no reason to think she would ever read my blog, but if she does I hope she'll forgive me for this next statement. When I read “The Christmas Promise” my first thought was “Eh, kinda nice, but a best-seller? No way.”

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but I kept thinking it was too simple, maybe too much of a formula. Then I decided to write my own Christmas novel and found out it wasn't so simple. I went back and read “The Christmas Promise” again, and a third time, and realized Ms. VanLiere had done a really wonderful job of building a novel, of setting various plots in motion and bringing them together later in the work. I read her novel a fourth time, then drew upon those other two events in my life and ended up with CHOICES, although it's a bit darker than some holiday novels.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Wow, I've already gone on way too long. Hopefully by now you're ready to read! It'll be available on soon – sometime between Thanksgiving and Dec. 1. You can sign up and follow my blog for more details, or sign up for my e-mail alert list by sending an e-mail to Put “reader alert” in the subject line. I won't give out the address, or spam you – I'll just send out the occassional e-mail when I've got new work available.

Now it's my turn to get tagging. Carry on following the hop by checking out the authors below to find The Next Big Thing! (I'm supposed to have five writers, but it seems most of the ones I know have already been tagged, except for one writer who, ahem, seems to have misplaced his blog – if you'd like to be one, I can still add you!)

J. Heather Leigh
Stephen Mark Rainey
Michelle Garren Flye
A.J. Brown

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