Can you give us a brief overview of yourself and your featured book?
I am a retired oil company executive born and raised in rural Louisiana. I’ve been living in western North Carolina since retiring and moving here from Dallas about ten years ago.
My book is titled In Search of the Yellow Dog. First let me say, there are no canines in this book – the reader will learn quickly what the yellow dog is and who is searching for it (and who doesn’t want it found).
A brief overview: Randall Oliver is a lawyer semi-retired from a Dallas practice now living in the rural Louisiana community where he grew up. His only active client is his former father-in-law dying of cancer but wanting to drill his last wildcat oil well in an environmentally sensitive Louisiana swamp. Life is peaceful in the little town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, and that suits Randall Oliver just fine. He keeps his legal skills sharp mostly by helping his family and childhood friends with their legal matters, but is happy to take on one final project for his former father-in-law, dying oil wildcatter Buck Townsend. It's hardly the routine affair he expected. Within weeks, Randall finds himself neck-deep in a quagmire of environmental politics. His opponents, including his own brother James, are more than willing to use dirty pool and strong-arm tactics in an attempt to halt the drilling in the swamp near Bogalusa. It's nothing Randall hasn't encountered before, so he forges on in the face of both negative political ads and physical threats. He's made a promise to Buck, and refuses to bow down to the bullying of their adversaries...though his resolve is seriously tested when eco-terrorists strike the project, and his fiancée, Deena, is attacked by armed gunmen. Driven by a relentless determination to protect Deena and complete this final project for his dying friend, Randall pushes onward through a morass of political cupidity, family crises, and repeated attacks to pick apart the tangled threads of a conspiracy seemingly designed to destroy everything he loves. What he discovers isn't quite what he expected...and it almost gets him killed.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes, I submitter queries to 26 agents and got only one nibble and after I sent her the additional items she requested even that possibility evaporated – that’s when I went the self-publishing route.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
No, I haven’t joined any groups – I’m basically a loner. I will mention that for my current work in progress I have submitted my manuscript to four ‘beta readers’ and have gotten some great feedback from them. Incidentally, that work in progress is a prequel to In Search of the Yellow Dog.
What authors have influenced your style?
I’ve read mysteries and science fiction ever since I can remember – I guess the greatest recent influences would be Dick Francis, Ross MacDonald and James Lee Burke.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, I used Floyd Largent for In Search of the Yellow Dog. Right now he has started editing the prequel which has been tentatively titled, The Treasure of Money Hill.
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve learned when an idea strikes you at three a.m., you’d better get to the computer right away or that idea is going to vanish!
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I’ve published on Smashwords and the book is available through their various marketing outlets. Hard copies of the book are available at a couple of independent bookstores that have agreed to carry it: Bayou Booksellers in Hammond, Louisiana and Malaprops Bookstore and Café in Asheville, North Carolina.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have a Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/InSearchoftheYellowDog and I am just starting my own website: http://bluetiger41.wordpress.com/ which was set up for me by my granddaughter.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Not really – being retired has numerous advantages and having sufficient time to devote to writing a new work and promoting my existing ones is perhaps the greatest of those advantages.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Just to paraphrase the shoe company, “Just do it!” I had wanted to write this novel for some time – I checked “how to” websites and bought a couple of books, but in the final analysis it just took me sitting down in front of the computer and letting the story write itself.
What’s next for you?
As I mentioned above my next book, The Treasure of Money Hill, is with my editor and I expect it to be published this summer. I’m currently working on a book; I don’t even have a working title yet, set in rural Louisiana in the 1930s and 1940s, following friends, three boys and two girls, coming of age as World War II looms.
Thanks for this opportunity to express myself to your readers.