Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
The Forever Saga: Flash is the first installment of my new science fiction adventure series. It follows Vietnam War hero Brian Renney and his grown son, Jason, as powerful enemies from Brian's past seek to eliminate him and his family for reasons unknown. While Brian struggles with war wounds, isolation, and anxiety, Jason attempts to make sense of his irritable father while trying to maintain a promising athletic career and chasing Alessa, the love of his life. With the world in danger and their family fraying at the edges, Brian and Jason find an unlikely ally in the coming conflict.
Do you have a favorite character?
There's a little bit of me in every character in Flash, but I'll go with Jason's friend, Slava. He's the outspoken, button-pushing jokester whose rough edges make him all the more endearing. We all want that friend who says the true stuff we wouldn't dare to, and drives us crazy in all the right ways. Slava is always good for a laugh, but there's a depth to him that will be explored in Flash and the rest of The Forever Saga.
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Jason Renney, without a doubt. Initially, Brian was intended to be the main focus of The Forever Saga, but there grew a father-son dynamic that I couldn't ignore. Jason represents a coming-of-age quality, the love story, and the theme of overcoming adversity. As a result, Brian and Jason became the co-protagonists of Flash - and I can't wait to tell the rest their story in future books.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
When I first completed Flash back in 2007, I sent out multiple query packages to agents and publishers. Even though I got a request for the first 50 pages of my novel, multiple rejections and feedback proved to me that the novel wasn't ready at that time. My writing journey has been marked by trial and error with both seeking a major book deal, and self-publishing. Right now, I'm releasing Flash as an indie title, but my ultimate goal is to get a major publishing deal.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Above all, be a person worth telling others about. At the end of the day, you're promoting who you are, whether it's a book or a status update about your overcooked breakfast (that you ate anyway because HUNGER). What we do isn't as important as who we become. In other words, you might write the best novel ever, but it will be hampered if the experience leaves you arrogant, bitter, burned out, or all of the above.
Instead, be patient. Take your time. Develop your voice. Enrich your life, and I promise, it will enrich your writing. Do all this to have fun during the process, and don't be in such a rush. Lastly, self-publish right. Get a great illustrator who can provide a cover that will stand out from the pack. Hire an editor (or two, or ten) to comb through your manuscript and remove the typos that would cause readers to roll their eyes. Connect with professionals who can help you along. If you can't afford them, launch a Kickstarter campaign and raise funds to pay them with (that's what I did). If your vision is clear enough, people will respond.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Most of what I just wrote in the previous question! Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint - but I treated it as a 100-meter dash. I thought I could outrun the problems that drag down authors, but I was wrong. I got pooped out. I've thought of quitting. But at the end of the day, Flash was too important a story to give up on. To honor the progress I'd already made, I committed to enjoying the journey and doing my writing justice.
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I'm proudest of my marriage to my wife, Shelley. She's my best friend and biggest fan as a writer; Flash doesn't get finished if not for her. So I make a point to have time with her and enjoy life together.
I grew up loving hockey and video games - two things that heavily influence The Forever Saga. I run an annual 24-hr video game fundraiser to benefit Children's Hospital Los Angeles, raising over $9,000 the past 3 years.
Aside from that, Pinterest can take over my life with DIY home projects - I can't walk 5 feet at home without running into a table or chair that wasn't restored, repainted, or reclaimed in some way.
Lastly and most important, I lead high school/young guys through my church. I learn so much from them, and serving makes my life so much more balanced and lively.
Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – Dogs or Cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea?
Dogs or cats? Dogs - if we're not careful, cats will take over, and I can't allow that to happen.
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, because it's the Barbie doll of the ice cream world - you can accessorize it. Whip cream, caramel, sprinkles, M & M's…they all make vanilla look good.
Coffee or Tea? Tea. The only time I tried to like coffee was during my high school job. Straight black brew. Couldn't do it. So I added enough cream and sugar to make it essentially hot chocolate. I called myself "The Nervous Squirrel" during morning shifts.
What kinds of marketing are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
The bulk of my marketing involves reviews and interviews, and connecting on social media: it lets me express myself creatively, and it promotes my writing. They really go hand-in-hand. Readers - feel free to Comment, Like, Follow, Tweet, Pin, Post, and Share with me!
Official Site: www.theforeversaga.com
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
First off, the Flash audiobook is available now on Audible.com, narrated by Chris A. Ciulla. 93 characters speak in my novel, and Chris nailed their voices, and the narrative. Can't recommend the audiobook enough.
Readers can also find Flash in e-book at iBooks/iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.