Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Blizzard of 2009

If life serves up snowstorms – stay home and write. I know most of you had great expectations for to visit with family and friends this Christmas. Then Oklahoma weather swept in. I hope you were either already at your destination or your company had just arrived when the blizzard hit. First the Turner Turnpike closed, then all the rest, including the Creek. So much for “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” The good news is if you can’t go anywhere, and no one can get to you, write. That’s what I’m doing. Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interview with Matt Jones

It’s truly a pleasure to interview Matt Jones. Matt’s my critique partner, so I know first hand he’s one gentle and talented person. Taking on the role of president at WIN for 2010 was probably the furthest thing from his mind at the start of 2009, but Matt never turns his back on a need. Matt, congratulations on your position as our new WIN president.

Thanks, Bill. I’m looking forward to it.

With your family responsibilities, your own business, writing, and the leadership role for WIN in 2010, how will you find any time for relaxing?

I think my best bet is to take a break every chance I get, even if it’s just a minute at a time.

I suppose that works when you’re younger. But at sixty-seven, I need my naps. What does the 2010 WIN year look like, and where do you see yourself needing the most help?

Fortunately for me, our current president Gina Conroy has done an excellent job scheduling speakers for next year already. We have a line up of wonderful writers and speakers coming in, and I’m looking forward to booking some guests of my own.

I’m sure I’ll need quite a bit of help as standing in the president’s spot in a group of aspiring and experienced authors is no small thing. One of the things I truly would like everyone in WIN’s help with is devising creative ways to make WIN more advantageous for everyone. The encouragement and shared expertise among the group’s members is exemplary, but I can see a real need for finding a way to meet our members’ needs in practical ways that get people more involved with each other and each other’s writing.

So Matt, what does that look like? Are you thinking of a change in meeting format or a way to develop a mentoring program for inexperienced writers? Can you let us in on your plans?

I don’t have any plans to change up the meeting format. That’s not necessarily my goal. Nor is it my goal to “set up” a mentoring program. My hope is to rather encourage a natural growth within the group. I would love to see WIN become a place where novices can rely on the more experienced to pass along their skills in the craft of writing and where the experienced writers are given the opportunity to share the expertise they’ve acquired in their years of practice.

On the topic of meeting formats, I have to say I can see the potential in holding mini workshops and mini contests for anyone who’d like to join in. I have some ideas, but I’m keeping them under my hat for now.

In April on Denise Stewart’s blog, you wrote a piece telling us your perspective on romance. In it you said, “She (Tracy) loves for me to have a plan that I’ve thought of in advance specifically catered to her.” That was great advice for every married man. Do you have any other suggestions for the male members of WIN and ACFW?

Know thy wife. This pertains to all things romance…and writing.

After forty-four years of marriage, I’d have to agree with you. Managing your time and your relationships must be a priority for you. Can you share some incites on the pros and cons of both you and Tracy working out of your home with three small children to care for?

One of the greatest pros of working from home is getting to be more involved in my wife and children’s lives. Being at home of course means flexible hours when I need them. I get to be creative and artistic for a living, a blessing to me even if it means that finances have to be juggled a lot more often! Having Tracy at home, too, allows us to collaborate on design projects, which is a huge help for me. It also helps Tracy that I can be at home with the kids if she needs to go out.

On the cons side, working at home means that I have to be at home with the kids if my wife needs to go out.

I know Tracy is your #1 fan. She writes non-fiction, and you’re her biggest fan as well. Will you give us some incite on her work?

My wife is easily one of the most gifted communicators/speakers/ministers I know. She also has an extremely keen mind for finances and financial planning. Right now, her writing is centered on practical financial planning, creating a budgeting system that is simple and effective for all different types of incomes and financial lifestyles. She’s so conversational and funny and easy to read, I actually really enjoy the chapters she’s written so far. And I don’t even like “budgeting.”

I guess opposites do attract. But there is an area you both share in common – an entrepreneurial spirit. Your new company is Bookbrander. Describe the advantages your customers have by coming to Bookbrander, and not your competition.

The concept behind BookBrander, which is a collaboration between my design company (Jones House Creative) and Buzz Rocket Media here in Tulsa, is truly unique to other manuscript and book marketing services in that it uses video teasers and thematic websites, custom designed to each book, to connect with potential readers and fans in ways that elicit an immediate emotional connection to the story. We design a custom video and website SPECIFICALLY themed around the book to create a Hollywood-styled experience that people will remember. Music and imagery are extremely powerful tools for conveying the message and story of books because of their long-lasting impact. People can remember every bit of a thirty or sixty second video long after they’ve thrown away a flyer or left a book signing.

I wish you success. What advice do you have for the unpublished author who has never marketed themselves?

Whatever you do to market your work, DO IT WELL. First impressions are priceless. Every aspiring author and every published author has poured their guts, heart, soul, blood, time, money, date nights, first born children, etc into their books. They have worked to make themselves experts and professionals at writing. They have made their books, hopefully, the absolute best they can. But then, when it comes to sharing their work with their potential fans, they make such a bad initial impression that it’s difficult for anyone to take them seriously. Every bit of marketing material, from websites to business cards, needs to be done WELL. You wouldn’t wear your sweats and ratty T-Shirt into a job interview, so why would you let your website – literally your face as seen by the world – look anything less than amazing?

There is a wealth of good advice in your response, yet so many of us are afraid to step out and actively market. But on a personal level, many in WIN may not know this, but you and I are critique partners. Writing an Old Testament trilogy is quite an undertaking, but you’re doing a great job. Tell us about your concept. What will each book cover?

Absolutely. My trilogy’s working title is The Mightiest of Men. The crux of my story hinges on the day that David, the son of Jesse, is anointed to be king of Israel and the ensuing chain of events that affects the lives of everyone he comes in contact with. My stories center around a band of warriors who unite with David. By following him, they become his Gibborim, his Mighty Men, and thus become the legendary heroes of the golden age in Israel.

The first book, Shield, focuses on Josheb Baashebeth, the chief of all David’s Gibborim. Josheb, a warrior in King Saul’s army, receives a divine calling to become a guardian for David during the first days of his flight from Saul. In choosing to become an outlaw with David, Josheb makes the choice to lay down his life and follow David, knowing that it will probably mean his own death in the end.

The second book, Sword, focuses more on the life of El`azar, the second member of “The Three,” the top three commanders of David’s Gibborim. This portion of the story spends time telling the tale of David’s years spent as a mercenary to the Philistines. The story leads up to the point that David becomes king of Judah.

The third and final book, tentatively entitled Throne, deals with how David’s men deal with the complexities of his life after he becomes king. The central figure in this book is Benaiah, the son of the Levite priest Jehoiada. The story leads up to the time of David’s death and Solomon’s ascension to the throne.

Believe me, Matt, you're a talented writer, and I’m enjoying your incites on my writing as well. Thanks for taking your time to share your projects and thoughts on 2010 with me and your WIN friends. I’m looking forward to 2010.