Monday, June 30, 2014

An Interview with Author Terry Pellman

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Terry. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing:

I first became interested in writing as a junior at Houston High School. Our English teacher went on maternity leave, and our long-term substitute teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story. I wrote a tale of three college men who claimed a tiny island off the coast of Florida for a summer and declared it to be an independent nation. But every time there was a high tide, their small nation was under water. It was titled “The Republic of the High Tide.”

During my years at Urbana University, I dabbled in short story writing, and continued to do so throughout my early years of my marriage.

I finally decided to write a novel, and composed The House on Weston Road. It is the story of a middle-aged farm laborer who struggles to forget the trials his family had endured. He filled all his time by working or reading so that he never had time to think and remember.

Next, I wrote a novel about a group of domestic terrorists who wanted to break the nation apart. But that novel, as well as Weston Road, was written on old software called Leading Edge Word Processor. When I finally had the time to try to do something with these books, I found that the technology of the Leading Edge software was no longer compatible with anything. I had to actually re-write both books into Microsoft Word.

As I neared retirement, I began to consider taking any available avenue to get Weston Road published. I was in very poor health, and had been warned by my doctor that I may never see old age. So I had Weston Road published by PublishAmerica, followed by a collection of short stories titled Phobia Dreams: Wistful Stories and Eclectic Tales.

I did find some success in the field of writing short stories. I have been a two – time Finalist and the 2008 Third Place Winner of the Dayton Daily News Short Story Contest.

My second novel named Averton was a salvage project of the second book I had been forced to re-type. To be candid about one type of frustration a writer can face, I have found that Averton stirred little interest among the reading public. At the same time, it was selected for a positive review in a Publishers Weekly special section on self-published books. It has also been purchased by libraries, garnered me three radio interviews around the nation, and has generated contact by one movie producer and an agent based in the San Francisco area.

My fourth work, Looking Toward Eden has just been released. This was my first venture into self-publication of e-books. In addition, it is now available in paperback on Amazon due to the fact that so many people asked me to have it put into printed form.

The story takes place in the year 2017 when fifteen states decide to break away from the United States of America, and form a heartland nation more closely devoted to the original Constitution. I have also completed a sequel titled Eden’s Dawn.

I have a begun to find enjoyment in helping young writers, usually the grandchildren of a friend or relative. Regardless of how far I go in the field of fiction, I will always be pleased that I allowed myself to spend time on such a worthwhile pursuit.

In many circles PublishAmerica doesn’t have a very favorable reputation. Why did you decide to publish through them, and will/would you do so again?

As I mentioned earlier, I was going through some difficult health issues. Fortunately, I was able to recover, but at the time (2001) I felt an urgency to become published in the face of an uncertain future. Although that was only twelve years ago, it was another era in regard to publishing options.

For all practical purposes, there was publication by conventional publishers, be they small presses or one of the conglomerates, or self-publishing as an option. PublishAmerica offered a way to place a book on the market without the expenses to have a book set up by a self-publisher. Of course, the cost per copy was high, and there was quickly a stigma attached.

That was before the day of the opportunities presented by such entities as CreateSpace. E-books then did not provide the market and potential that we see today. Overall, I knew what I was getting into, and faced with the same circumstances at that same point in time, I would without question make the same decision to publish with PublishAmerica.

Where do your ideas for novels and stories come from?

Actually, this is one of my favorite questions to answer, whether addressing a group or in a private conversation. The fact is that there is no trend to how I come up with story ideas.
For example, my novel The House on Weston Road had its origin in a location. When I was a teenager, I worked for an uncle baling hay on a farm he leased. It was located on a narrow gravel road, and at the time there was only one somewhat forbidding brick house back a long lane.

I always wondered who could have lived in such a remote dwelling, and wondered what their lives may have been like. Although I was not a writer at the time, I remained fascinated about that rutted and rough gravel road. Later in life, I decided to create my own inhabitants of that isolated home. Ironically, I later became friends with a woman who lived there for part of her childhood.

As for my novel Averton, the story was a convergence of my long-held curiosity about extremist political movements and my fondness for a summer campground near where I went to high school. I imagined a militia-style group obtaining the camp and its rugged terrain to use as a training ground for its members

On the other hand, seeing a red and white checked tablecloth gave me an idea for a story of a scoundrel of a man, an irresponsible womanizer. The tablecloth served as nothing more than part of the description of a dreary apartment in which one of his girlfriends lived.

For one of my paranormal stories, I actually combined the setting of my own bachelor party (an overnight campout) with a rather supernatural experience actually experienced by some of my closest friends.

Of course for my latest novels, Looking Toward Eden and Eden’s Dawn, my own intense interest in politics and current events made the book flow more quickly and easily than any I had written before.

What kind of novels do you like to read and is that taste reflected in other forms of media entertainment, such as movies, television, video games, and/or radio?

I must confess that I do not read much fiction, out of concern that I will find it distracting to my own writing. It may be unfounded, but I always have this concern that my own storylines could be influenced by the ideas of others. However, when I do read fiction it is often of a nature of international or governmental intrigue. I particularly like stories by Brad Thor or the late Vince Flynn. I have found some non-fiction that I have really enjoyed, most recently being After Visiting Friends, the true story of a man who exhaustively researched the true events surrounding his father’s death.

I recently read Lone Survivor, the first-hand account of harrowing combat by a Navy Seal in Afghanistan. I am now reading Coming of Age in Mississippi, the story of a young black woman in the segregated South.

As for other forms of entertainment, I am probably not aware of the extent to which my styles of reading relate to them. I very much enjoy the movies, and some of my favorites are Casablanca, From Here to Eternity, Shawshank Redemption, the original Longest Yard, Blue Velvet and all of the Godfather films. As for music, I like nearly everything from Andrew Lloyd Webber to Eddie Vedder. I am yet to discover video games.

Here’s an off the wall question: What are your views on de-extinction, which is when scientists obtain the DNA from preserved extinct animals such as the Wooly Mammoth or the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), or the Passenger Pigeon? Although not possible yet, is it worth science striving for the knowledge and ability to revive extinct species where viable tissue/DNA is available?

I see no major downside to de-extinction research, as long as I don’t end up as a snack as in Jurassic Park. There is the potential for us to find remedies for undesirable mutations and to improve methods for organs to be grown in the lab. It may also provide clues as to God’s sense of humor, as illustrated by the existence of the duck-billed platypus and Dennis Rodman.

When you sit down to write a novel, do you have a particular person or audience in mind?

When I began writing full-length books, I had very general audiences in mind. However, my latest two books are very political in nature, and appeal mainly to those who are politically conservative.

As for the characters in the story, I do have general characteristics in mind. One little trick that I have found to be quite helpful is to get on a stock photo sites such as Shutterstock and pick out images of people who I feel match my imagined characters. I find that this helps me to bring the character to life as I look at the image, and it even helps me to come up with personality traits and imagined life experiences.

What influences you to decide to read a novel? Has this impacted your writing or writing style, and thoughts on cover design?

There are three things that will quickly get my attention: political intrigue, humorous content or the outdoors. I am finding that I often put humor or the outdoors in my stories, except for the Eden novels, which are overwhelmingly political. Including my own interests increases the fun of writing.

I like for a cover to simply grab my attention. It can be something subtle, as was the case when I bought Barbara Lewinksky’s Lake News from the shelf. Now my wife reads most of her books.
Covers with abstract art seem to be a turn-off. I want the cover to give me a bit of a hint as to contents and theme.

As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, Terry, is there anything you’d like to add or say to the readers of Up Around the Corner?

I often hear people say that they have a book inside them. My advice is always the same: Get it out!

Thanks, Terry Pellman for taking the time for the interview.

You an find Terry Pellman's works a number of places, including Amazon. Here is a page to all of his works there: Terry Pellman on Amazon

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What I Learned While Writing Soul Forge

Today I am over at Blotting Away, the website of author Julian Saheed, talking about what I learned while writing Soul Forge.

If you have a moment and an interest, please click on over.

Link: Guest Author – Terry W. Ervin II on the experience of writing Soul Forge


Friday, June 27, 2014

Helping Me as an Author

I’ve recently come across online articles offering suggestions for readers to support authors whose works they enjoy reading.

What I’ll hope to do with this short article is to offer suggestions (requests) that would assist me as an author, helping to ensure that the future novels I write will find both publication and readers. After those four points, I’ll briefly explain why readers doing any or all of the suggestions is important.

Four Things Readers can Do, and Why:

1.    Buy my books. While that’s an obvious one, each sale makes a difference. Sales make the book profitable to the publisher. It affects online rankings (at Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Audible, etc.) and also the stocking habits of brick and mortar book stores. This offers opportunities for potential readers to come across one or more of my works, where they otherwise wouldn’t have. If it’s not seen then, in essence, it doesn’t exist.

2.    Buy my books for gifts. If a reader enjoys my works, sharing them through gifts (to someone who the gift-giver believes is a good match), further accomplishes #1 above, while introducing my works to another reader. Plus, I think books make good gifts.

3.    Post reviews. Reviews can be posted at online vendors (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc.) and places readers hang out (Goodreads, forums, Facebook groups, etc.). Potential readers expect the author and the publisher to say positive things. A reader saying something positive carries far more weight. And a large number of reviews builds confidence of potential readers that the reviewed work just might be genuinely a good read.

4.    Online social media support. Liking, and sharing on Facebook, joining Flankers (an online group created by readers and fans of the First Civilization’s Legacy Series), sign up/follow my blog (Up Around the Corner), and comment on occasion if something is of interest, clicking of helpful for positive reviews on Amazon, and more.

At Flankers a variety of fun things come up in discussion and I usually mention things related to my writing there first. At my blog, I write about a wide variety of things, from writing related to what I find interesting and humorous, usually having nothing to do with writing and my published works.

What I suggested/requested above does take a little time. Some suggestions are nothing more than a one-time effort, while others might be both fun and interesting to participate in on occasion.

This is why reader efforts are important:

First, publishing is a business. My publisher, Gryphonwood Press, invests time and financial resources to publish my novels. There is a lot of competition out there, and if my novels fail to sell, it would make sense for Gryphonwood to go with another author for upcoming slots in the publication schedule. Publishers have to make a profit to remain in business.

Second, while I have a core of readers who enjoy what I write, it takes time to write a novel. A lot of time. Outlining, researching, writing the first draft, revising, editing, revising, re-reading and revising, research again. Revise and edit. Send out to beta readers. Revise. Send to publisher (and hope it’s accepted). Then work with an editor. Revise and edit, and finally proof the galley. Then there’s proofing the audiobook versions before they’re released.

Plus, there’s working with the artist, and doing what I can to help market those novels already published, and pave the way for new novels through online social networking stuff such as FB, blogs and forums, writing articles and doing interviews, attending signing events and presentations, among other things.

All of that takes time and, for me as an author, there has to be a return on investment of that time. I’m not talking about vast monetary riches, and tens of thousands of avid, rabid readers. But there’s only so much time in the day, and time spent writing means time that cannot be spent elsewhere—with family, friends, on other jobs and other activities. Ask my turtles.

This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ or ‘poor overworked author’ sort of thing. I figured that I might as well be straight forward about this, especially as many readers of my novels and stories may not realize what they can do to help me out as an author (and other authors), and why it’d make a difference.

All I ask is that you consider doing one, two or all. Whatever you’re comfortable with. Maybe you already have.

And please know: Your efforts have been and will continue to be very much appreciated.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Article: Characters of Faith in Fiction posted at Notes from the Writing Chair

Over at Notes from the Writing Chair, I have an article that discusses characters of faith in works of fiction, including purpose, benefits and consequences.

If you have a moment, click on over at take a look:

Link: Guest Post: Characters of Faith in Fiction

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Five Strategies for Self-Editing

If you have a moment and an interest, click on over to The Five Year Project and check out my article on editing. The suggestions are handy both for writing fiction and nonfiction.

Link: Five Strategies for Self-Editing

Monday, June 23, 2014

Soul Forge is Now Available

Soul Forge is now available via Amazon and Smashwords.

Below are the links. I'll post updates when it becomes available, including B&N/Nook, Kobo, iTunes, etc.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some Stumbling Blocks Writing a Sequel after a Decade

I began researching and writing Relic Tech well over a decade ago, teaching myself how to write a novel as I went

I kept a lot of notes on space travel and how to categorize the ships based upon technology, which affects how fast they move, combined with how effectively they can condense space, for calculating for interstellar travel times, time dilation, etc.

One thing I didn't do is catalogue the various weapon types mounted upon the various ships. My memory still retains the general idea, but I'm determined to remain consistent, so that means searching through Relic Tech, as I write the first draft of the sequel (working title: Relic Rescue), and jotting down the information.

Searching key words in Relic Tech makes it easy--far easier than it would be otherwise, and knowing that I was consistent back so many years ago gives me confidence as I move forward.

Another frustration is a website that I thought was pretty neat. It went off line about 4 years ago. The website showed the night sky, which you could pan across using your mouse--simulating the night sky rotating past, and locate exo-planets From there, just click on identifying circle for specifics--name of the star, distance from Earth in light years, etc. More details could be found elsewhere on the internet, but that website just made it easier to make sure I was setting up the travel distances between colonies and outposts more accurate.

If anyone knows of a similar website, post a comment or email me a link!

Anyway, moving forward, just hitting a few speed bumps.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Soul Forge: Full Cover Reveal

Here we go, the full cover:

Okay, maybe not as dramatic as I've shown hints through a banner and bookmark based upon the cover art.

One final thing that will be added is an author blurb.

Very much looking forward to Soul Forge's release (ebook on June 24th, print edition to follow shortly thereafter).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Steven Brust Quote

"All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what's cool." --Steven Brust, Author of the Vlad Taltos Series.

Makes sense to me. With that in mind, it's my hope that what I write is determined to be cool.

In any case, I think what Steven Brust writes is pretty darn cool.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Words of Fiction in Print: 633,600 and Counting

Once Soul Forge reaches print (in less than two weeks), I will have 633,600 words of fiction in print, counting 4 novels and 13 works of short fiction.

I'm shooting for 1 million words before the end of 2016, which means 3 more novels.

Those novels are already planned. They just need to be written, with sufficient quality to merit publication.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Soul Forge's Slated Release Date

Gryphonwood Press has slated Soul Forge's official release date: June 24, 2014

More news and information to follow, including the full cover reveal...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes Fame) Briefly Returned to Doing a Comic Strip

You never hear much about the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, and you never see his cartoon characters or images on novelty items (Calendars, Coffee Mugs, etc.). You can still get copies of the comic strip series which ended in 1995, and they rerun them online, but that's about it.

I came across a blog telling of Bill Watterson temporarily stepping out of reclusive retirement to ink three days of comics for Pearls Before Swine.

You can learn about it here, along with links to the three comic strips, on the blog of Pearl Before Swine's cartoonist, Stephan Pastis.

Link: Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did

I particularly liked the 2nd comic strip with the spaceships. Reminded me of Spaceman Spiff.

I miss those days.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Soul Forge's Upcoming Release: Here's a Visual Hint


Soul Forge, the third novel in the First Civilization's Legacy Series, will be released later this month!

More information on the novel and details on the exact release date will follow as things fall into place. Until then, here's a visual hint of the forthcoming cover and what to expect: