How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I wrote for my high school newspaper and later the college newspaper, The Technician. Earned a degree in English and continued to write part-time after college. Since the mid-eighties I’ve written a humorous boating column called Hard Aground. Still do. Couple of years ago I began writing full time. I make less now than I did selling toilet paper but I started at the bottom there and worked my way up, too.
I don’t know that I received a call so much as a nudge. Was in the audience at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference several years ago. I’d just been laid off from my job at IBM. Al Gansky mentioned something about writing for God. That seemed like a good gig. I figured God wasn’t going out of business and wouldn’t fire me. Turns out God doesn’t pay writers a lot of money. But there’s a clause in my contract that says I’ll get my rewards later so I’m banking on that bonus.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I write adult fiction and non-fiction, Teen / Tween and Middle Grade books. I also write devotions and columns. If it has words I’m all over it. As far as adult genres, I write romantic comedy. My characters are disturbed — but then so are most my friends and All my family members. Currently my agent is pitching Bahama Breeze, a tan and sandy love story. She also has Dixie Chicken, another love story that involves Civil War reenactors in denial, professional golfers in recovery, Tea Party patriots, civil rights leaders, mafia hit men and a cadaver dog. I’m working on the second book in the Caribbean Chronicles, Dead Calm, Bone Dry. This is a teeen/tween middle grade read. It follows on the success of The Curse of Captain LaFoote. Finally, my agent is pitching a straight middle grade book called, The Hill Top Ghost Ranch Mystery.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
On my novels, I try to write 1000 new words a day. I write on my own work from 7:30 to 11:30, grab lunch and begin work on my freelance and ghost writing. That usually takes me until nap time. Afterwards, I grab a cup of coffee and finish up that’s days quota. I polish as I write so I spend a lot of time going back, editing what I wrote the day before. This allows me to build up momentum for the new words. But I’m also a little obsessive compulsive. I can’t just leave something alone until I fix it. I can usually finish an 80,000 novel in six months. But lately, given all my work with Christian Devotions Ministries and the teaching at writers conferences, it’s taking longer.
You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
The Curse of Captain LaFoote is a pirate tale awash in buried treasure, romance and dead men's bones. The truth is, this book and the ones that follow in the Caribbean Chronicle series are love stories. For Ricky Bradshaw, the hero of the book, the story is a quest to find his father, soul mate, and purpose in life. For guys, finding their father and gaining his approval is huge. Of course finding love is pretty high up there, too.
Here’s the book’s premise:
If you drowned and the sea spit you out, thrusting you back into an age of pirates, buried treasure and beauty beyond belief… would you stay?
Ricky Bradshaw has never sailed the Caribbean Sea, searched for buried treasure or battled pirates on the deck of a Spanish Galleon. He’s never fallen through the floor of Davy Jones’ locker, befriended a witch doctor or watched an old fisherman morph into a porpoise. All Ricky knows is his lonely life with his widowed mom in a tiny apartment overlooking a marina on the Chesapeake Bay.
But all that changes on a snowy Christmas Eve when Ricky’s apartment building burns down and he falls into the chilly waters while trying to save barnacle, a mangy mutt with shrimp breath. Suddenly Ricky finds himself confronted by his neighbor, a young woman in a pink bathrobe who jumped to her death in order to escape the flames. She offers him a choice: go with her to a wonderful afterlife where snowflakes taste like candy or return to the dreary old world he knows. Ricky picks the past and awakes on a raft in the middle of the sea where there is surprising beauty on every island, danger around every corner and great honor and glory ahead of him… if only Ricky can summon the courage to survive the curse of Captain LaFoote.
So it’s a pirate fantasy love story. One of the great things about the book is that Ricky suffers from epilepsy and I get to weave a little of that into the book, too. Early in the story I needed a reason for Ricky to fall into the water. I did the same thing years ago. Jumped into the Neuse River in February while holding an outboard motor. So I knew how Ricky would react to the shock of cold water. I also knew Ricky would surface and be okay if I didn’t give him another wound.
A friend suggested that I let my lead have epilepsy. She said when she has episode she sort of zones out: like daydreaming except she can’t stop it. She also said she knows when it’s about to happen. That she smells something like burning wires. So I gave Ricky epilepsy and finished the story.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized the book had a larger purpose. I met another woman at a writer’s conference whose son has epilepsy. During the conference, her son suffered a seizure — the first one he’d ever had without his mother present. The look on her face that morning convinced me that Ricky Bradshaw could be a champion for those suffering from epilepsy.
It’s not cancer or heart disease but over three million Americans live with epilepsy. If the sale of this book can raise awareness, then the book has done its job. For each book sold, the publisher and I will donate “a few pieces of eight” — half a sandy dollar — to the foundation’s Heroes Among Us program. Our goal is to raise ten thousand dollars in honor of Ricky Bradshaw. I’d like to present them with a portion of those funds later this month at the Walk For Epilepsy in Washington D.C.
The book is available at http://CaptainLaFoote.com/ via Amazon. Or just search “LaFoote” and you’ll pull it up. It should be in the Barnes and Noble system, too. I doubt you’ll find it in bookstores yet.
What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
That courage costs. Near the end of the book Ricky has the chance to go back to his old life. We get to do the same thing, go back to our old way of doing things. But Christ calls us to repent and move on. Ricky faces that choice. Either way he’ll pay a steep price, as will we.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?
My wife wishes I’d give up and get a job with a regular paycheck. But I’ve done that and found there’s no security there, either. I don’t really think about giving up. What I do think is that this is a tough business because of the solitude, of the way we don’t get daily feedback from our employer or customers. I have a pretty idea of when an article or scene is well written but there isn’t any affirmation so it’s a lonely journey. This is why faith in God is key. If you’re not sure He’s in the calling and craft then I think you’ll spend a lot of time looking over your shoulder wondering if you should be doing something else.
He’s given me a gift and it’s my job to develop it to the best of my ability.
Who’s inspired you the most?
I know I’m supposed to list people who pump me up and push me to be better, but honestly, I’ve had more people tell me to quit than keep going. So in that sense, I’d have to say God has inspired me the most. He’s the one who, when I’m down, sends me a verse of encouragement or a promise. ‘Course, I’m also hard headed so sometimes he sends road blocks that force me to stop and pick a different route.
Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
First one that offered a contract got the book. I like to produce, not dicker. My agent wanted to hold out for other offers. In hindsight, she was probably right. We had a few houses show interest after I signed. But it’s just one book and there’ll be others after this one so you pick and move on. God can work all things for the good so I trust this will work out for the best.
As to relaxing, I wish I could, but the marketing part of selling a book is the real work. Lining up the blog stops (like this one), media appearances, radio interviews, reviews, endorsements, and all that is a job. Plus, I still have other books to write. I haven’t had a vacation in two years and don’t see one on the horizon.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
I like sailing, surfing, walking in the woods and sitting on the beach when it’s hot. I hate the cold. Takes me until June to thaw out. Each day I put on the armor of God and when I get to the breastplate I say: Lord, place your breastplate across my chest that my heart may be pure and my dreams secure — my dreams of sailing around the Caribbean, surfing reef breaks and writing a best selling novel. Maybe one day He’ll give me that dream.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
I’d also like to put a shout out to moms and dads with kids. We’re holding our first DevoFest Creative Arts Conference this June 17,18,19 at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest North Carolina. This is a media arts event for kids ages 7-17. Conference fee is $85. We’ve got a great faculty, some of the top names in writing. For adults, if you bring your kid you get to attend for free. Helping kids become better writers is a passion of mine, so please, visit http://www.devofest.com/ and sign them up!
Thank you, Eddie, for visiting my blog!
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