What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? God, the internet. Don’t you sometimes sit back and wonder how we ever got along without it? I mean, I started out with a manual typewriter and I stuffed more than my share of self-addressed stamped envelopes. That seems like the dark ages now. Email for sending out queries? Oh, and how about when you’re writing at 2 in the morning and you need to know the capital of Wyoming (it’s Cheyenne. I just saved you ten seconds of research) for a scene? Back in the day, we’d have to stop everything and scramble for an encyclopedia or worse, run to the public library. It still blows my mind how much has changed. But as tools go, there’s something new every day. With the social networks, you can reach more and more readers all the time. Sites just for readers – Goodreads, for example – are a great resource. There are services such as fiverr.com, which presents a huge variety of ways to promote your work for cheap. You can automate everything with ifttt.com and there’s all kinds of software that will physically yank your internet connection and not give it back until you’ve written for an hour or two. I used that one myself for a while. Very helpful when you need discipline, and who doesn’t from time to time? Also, Evernote. Keep track of your ideas, your editing notes, correspondence with agents and publishers … Of all the cool stuff out there, Evernote is probably the handiest of them all for a writer.
What contributes to making a writer successful? Talent first, of course. But perseverance is right up there, too. You have to wonder how many potentially great authors threw in the towel after their second, or tenth, or fiftieth rejection letter. That ego-busting hell is a fire we all must walk through. Anybody who overcomes the tidal wave of rejection earns any success he or she gets, in my view. You need a thick skin to thrive as an author, especially today when everybody and their cousin Lou is doing it. A talent for self-promotion is key, as well. Although, I like to think that if your work is up to snuff, some of that promotion will come naturally.
Do you have any advice for writers? The only advice I ever give on the matter is to keep writing. Write every day no matter what. Got the sniffles? Tough. Grab some tissues and sit down to write. There’s a “Walking Dead” marathon on AMC? Too bad. Have someone record it and go write instead. And so on. Sometimes I think the best time to write is when you really don’t feel like it, same as working out, same as anything that requires discipline. It’s important that you keep writing even if the rejection letters have been coming fast and furious. If someone tells you what a heartbreaking craft it is and tries to steer you away, write twice as much that night. It’s amazing how quickly you can get into a groove where NOT writing would feel unnatural. Write like you’re on fire through the first draft. You’ll have a chance to pretty it up later, during the many, many, many rounds of edits and revisions.
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? No. Well, yes. Maybe just this one thing. And that is that if there’s any one thing cooler than hanging out with other writers, it’s hanging out with readers. Some of the best conversations I ever have involve books, my own or those written by others. When you start talking with an avid reader, it doesn’t matter if he or she is a perfect stranger. When you start yammering on about plot twists, characters and climax, it gets lively. I love that. Every now and then, some reader writes me out of the blue to say he enjoyed one of my books. They always seem to do it timidly, as if its an intrusion. It never is. I had this woman contact me late at night once to complain about a character I’d killed off. We ended up talking it over into the wee hours and we became friends. It’s just the coolest thing when people come together to talk about books. It sounds like some sort of lame library slogan, but it’s utterly true.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I ride a dual sport motorcycle (which means I can ride on the road or in the woods) named El Mechon. Some of the best story ideas I’ve had came while I was plowing through the puckerbrush on that beast. When a plot gets knotted up and I can’t figure out how to shake it loose, I go for a long ride. It works almost every time. It’s so fun getting a “eureka!” moment while you’re rumbling down a trail at 20 mph. You get so excited, it freaks out the birds and squirrels.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? You know, I spent most of my childhood writing stories and then immediately resigning them to a trunk. I mean a literal trunk that was never opened by anyone but me. For the first few years of writing, I don’t think I showed a single person one of my stories. I always wanted to, of course. When you write something that really pops, what you want more than anything is to share it. When that day comes, it’s remarkable. It’s at once exhilaration and terrifying, but mostly the former. I think the grandest moments for me came with my first published novel, “The Pink Room.” Just holding that book in my hand was amazing and sort of unreal. At my first book signing, there was a line of people winding all the way out the door of a little mom and pop bookstore. One by one, they’d come up to me and say, “I just started your book. I’m on chapter three.” In weeks to come, I’d hear from people who had finished the book. Talk about nerve wracking. They always seem to pause before revealing whether they loved it or hated it. Those silent moments are brutal, but of course, it’s also part of the fun.
Jack Carnegie has developed a head for numbers – a true savant who was just an average teenager a day before. Jack Deacon builds things, from self-propelled drones to goggles that can see through walls.
Jack Van Slyke awakes with an ability to speak a half dozen languages.Jack Gordon discovers he is a master of the martial arts, just when he needs it most.
All over the country, young men are finding that they have special skills, areas of expertise that appeared out of nowhere. They’re confused. Baffled. Maybe even dangerous.
And they’re all named Jack.
After experiencing adventures on their own, the Jacks will come together in the deserts of Arizona. There, they will set out on the quest to find out what has happened, becoming a multi-talented task force with not a single clue why.
But answers are coming – chilling revelations about their own minds and about new terrors that imperil the world. Together the Jacks will have to make a decision: drift apart and return to being careless teenagers? Or band together and fight a rising evil that threatens not just the Jacks, but the world.
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Genre – YA / Thriller
Rating – PG
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