Author Steve Taylor Reveals The Story Behind The Book

This interview is with a new author called Steve Taylor. Let me share his Amazon biography with you all. He says it better than I do:

Steve Taylor was raised on a farm in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. He is a 1960 graduate of The Citadel with a degree in civil engineering, and he served six years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force with service in Vietnam. Following a long flying career, he retired as an international airline captain. Taylor has been a solo ocean sailor and holds a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license. He has owned and operated a commercial construction company and is a Coastal Master Naturalist. In addition to flying over most of the world, Taylor has lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Okinawa. He has five grown children. With his wife, Nancy, he currently splits his time between Atlanta and Charleston.

His book is called “Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age”

The stories in “Wheels Up” are not made up. They are the real deal, true antics of a jet age pilot in the high-octane environment of the cockpit. Some will give you pause and make you think, some will knock the wind out of you, and some will make you throw your head back and laugh. No one is spared his (or her) just deserts, least of all the self-deprecating author in this tale of high jinks in the air, on land and at sea, complete with high tension and low humor, near collisions and happy landings.

From Citadel cadet to Delta captain, Taylor takes readers into a world few have seen. It’s both humorous and heartfelt – fast, fun and true.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

I have always been a storyteller, but I soon learned that there was a difference between telling and writing. My challenge was to achieve the same humor and entertainment from reading my work as listening to me.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

It was a thrill to capture the true essence of the tale on paper for all eternity.

Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.

The book is loosely connected with flying airplanes. My previous editor smoothed many aviation terms that the general public would not understand. This can also be said about sailing, and military terms. An example of this was in my description of the braid on a senior officers hat. I referred to it as scrambled eggs and insisted that this was a common understanding. My editor did not buy it and had to qualify the scrambled eggs. So yes, there are some references here that may be new to some readers.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.

There is no mention of Native Americans, feminists or hemophiliacs.
Really, I don’t understand the question.

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book? 

I had a book giveaway on good reads. The first two reviews were five stars and then a woman from Hawaii wrote in that she thought I was mean. I was shocked–me! Fun-loving, full of energy, perhaps a little immature at times, but not mean. She said she always had misgivings about those who played practical jokes.
Two stars.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject, that isn’t so?

There are some people that still think flying is dangerous. It actually is safer on an airplane than not on an airplane. It is common to hear, “have a safe flight.” How many people say have a safe car ride or safe layover, but they are more dangerous.

What inspires you?

Every since I was a boy I needed a project. Building and inventing, making a knife, learning to fly, designing a house, creating a company, single-handed sailing, writing a book; I am not happy unless I have a project.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

Counting my military service, I have had 35 years of professional flying. I have owned and operated and commercial construction company. I have been a farmer, and I have been a single-handed oceangoing sailor with a US Coast Guard captains license. But my most significant endeavor was raising four teenage children as a single parent for seven years. Today, I am healthy, still busy and do pretty much whatever l like. Compared, to many, it’s a nice place to be. To be honest, a great deal of my present situation is pure luck. I have always pushed close to the edge and was never afraid of risk. Having said that, I do have a circuit breaker that stops me from going over the edge.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

My background is in engineering. Most of my life I considered myself strong in this area and weak in verbal aptitude. I have been an avid reader all my life, however, I felt unqualified when I began this book. I went back and reread James Harriot (all creatures great and small) because I felt his style was similar to what I was trying to do. The other authors that I remember fondly: Victor Hugo, Mark Twain and Winston Churchhill. I am currently reading a Jack Higgins book. I also enjoy reading books by Brad Taylor, my son. What all of these authors have in common is accuracy. I am a stickler for accuracy.

What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

Probably the most useful is my wife. She is a verbal person and has guided me constantly. I read a couple of books about writing. I found them boring and uninspiring. I actually learned more by doing then by instruction.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

At my age, with reduced stamina and energy, anything I do would falls into the category of part time–sometimes naps are more important.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

My book is printed in both hardcover and trade paperback. In October it will come out as an e-book. All forms have their place. Airline pilots now have an e-reader with them all the time, so the e-book was necessary.

What do you think is the future of reading and writing?

Reading and writing will be with us forever. Although technology and gadgets of the modern day are useful, they will never replace reading and writing. Reading stretches the mind, it is soothing and by far more satisfying than other forms of media. An experiment to prove this point would be how well you sleep after reading as compared to watching TV.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

I did not go through the painful process of looking for an agent. I formed a relationship with a small local publisher that had a good reputation. Unfortunately this publisher fell into some misfortune and I was forced to leave.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

My book is about true stories that have been told for years because of their entertainment value. They show a unique inside view of the airline crew-member.

How do you find or make time to write?

Like I said earlier, at this time of my life I do pretty much what I want. This writing became a project and so I focused on it.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?

I am not sure about this logic or intuition thing, but I do believe that writing should either convey a thought or an emotion, or it should not be done. I have little understanding about writing for the sake of writing. My process is to have a story that I wish to put on paper in such a way as to entertain to the same degree as telling the story.

What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I have created a website, Facebook, and a blog. I have had a book giveaway on Goodreads. I sent ARCs to independent bookstores and I have written many places for reviews. All of this has taken so much time that I have not finished editing my new book. I do not believe that I am good at this marketing and at times I find it frustrating. I had difficulty with Amazon’s vendor website and still cannot navigate through the Goodreads website. I am not very good about keeping up my Facebook or blog.

What projects are you working on at the present?

My new book is finished but needs some more editing. It too is a book of true stories albeit different stories from a different time. These are stories about growing up as a sometimes troubled and hyperactive kid, but the jokes are still there.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have a certain expertise in construction, flying, sailing and as a South Carolina Lowcountry naturalist. Believing it is best to write about what you know, I have a fiction story in mind that uses my knowledge in these areas.
The story involves a struggling commercial contractor that is conflicted because of the ample opportunity for dishonesty in the business. A twin-engine Beach crashes on a small Hummock out in the vast expanse of Saltwater marsh. It contains a dead gangster, $12 million in cash, and 20 pounds of cocaine. It remains undiscovered until our contractor, who is also a Marsh Hen hunter, stumbles across it on a seven foot new moon tide. The saga eventually involves killer drug dealers, the IRS, The FBI, and the contractors wife and children.

“Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age” is available now from Amazon

wheels up cover

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“The Summoner” with Fantasy Author Randy Massey

Welcome, Randy Massey!

This interview is rather interesting. Randy Massey is an author with a style of writing that really encapsulates what it means to write fantasy. His new book is the first part of a series. It’s called “The Summoner.” Read this interview and then go over and check out the new book. I think you will find yourself pre-ordering a copy. You can’t help but love the honest answers Randy gives.

randy massey

Q) Thank you for taking part in this interview, Randy. Can I start by asking what inspires you?
I would have to say God, family, life.
Q) How do you find “inspiration” and where does it live?
Inspiration is all around us. Whether in high joy or deep sorrow it is there for those who have eyes to see!
Q) When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
It started soon after I read The Hobbit at age 10.
Q) How does a cover present itself? Where do those ideas come from?
Since most judge a book by its cover it needs to be functional in capturing the eyes of the beholders. As for the ideas for this kind of cover they should grow out of the imagination of the author and his/her story.
Q) What is the greatest writing aide a writer can have?
Deep commitment and determination, a never give up attitude.
Q) How did you find your writing style?
That developed over time as I read a wide variety of books. I always found myself drawn back to the world of fantasy. As to “style” I consider myself a planner more than a pantser.

“Inspiration is all around us. Whether in high joy or deep sorrow it is there for those who have eyes to see!”

Q) Can you define success, Randy? How do you feel about success?
Success is really a state of mind, being willing to accept whatever life gives you. Don’t’ like what you do or where you are? Then you are responsible to make changes!
Q) Many writers refer to a “writers heaven.” Let me ask you this, Randy. What is a “writers” heaven?
For me it would be a career as an author without having to work a “regular” job! After that, a movie or two from my writings would be on top of the list!

“Commitment and determination, a never give up attitude.”

Q) How often have you read another writers book and said “I can do better than that” to yourself?
(Laughs) Probably more often than I would admit!
Q) Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Stick to it, because the going will get tough!
Q) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?
Most of my writing comes in spurts. Sometimes it’s a daily thing, other times a week or more will go by before I pound the keys again!
Q) How do you, personally, begin a novel?
Formulate a plan, conceptualize the story, develop main and minor characters, put a schematic on paper, draw a map (if needed), lay out chapter thoughts and outlines, then begin writing.
Q) Why is it a crime to use a cliché in a novel? We all use clichés in talking with people, so why the big no-no when writing?
Readers see them all the time. They need something new, refreshing. Often they just get old and stale “cliché’s”.
Q) How do you know when a chapter is “just” right?
For me, it should end in such a way that the reader is mad at you cause he/she can’t just stop there! They have to read into the next chapter to find out what happens next!
Q) Do you feel supported as a writer?
I personally have found that most authors are selfish and self-serving (me included). So, no, not a whole lot of true support given, at least not from very many of the authors I have met online.
Q) Do you think it’s important to be expressive when writing dialogue?
Yes. I try to write in such a way that the words draw the reader in to the conversation !
Q) How do you think your new book will be received by readers?
As every writer does: well-loved and looking for more from the author!

You can pre-order your copy of the first part of “The Legends of Arth” today. If you love Lord of the Rings you will love…

The Summoner

the summoner new cover

World’s Apart With Author Andrea Baker

Nightmare’s are just dreams aren’t they?

They can’t hurt you, not really…

Leah’s can.

They’re trying to tell her the truth, and won’t stop until she understands.

Nineteen year old Leah struggles to cope with normal life after the recent loss of her mother.

Her heart-broken father decides to uproot them to Little Virginia for a fresh start, so they can bury the past behind them.

At once Leah is captivated by the castle ruins near her new doorstep, and whilst exploring she comes across a mysterious stranger.

Recurring nightmares long thought dead reawaken, and new strains appear in her relationship with her father.

But as Leah attempts to piece together the connection between them, she will find herself thrown into dark and dangerous worlds beyond her wildest dreams…

 

Andrea Baker has written stories and poems all her life, although most of them no longer exist. After graduating from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in Economics and Marketing, she convinced herself to stop making these stories up, believing it to be something a “grown-up” should not do.

Since then she has spent most of her career working on major programmes within the public sector. Of all the ideas that continued to occur to her, Worlds Apart has been the most insistent, refusing to go away.

This interview is the second part of a new blog tour featuring Andrea. You can find the first book in the “World’s Apart” series here.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of writing this book was knowing where to stop in the story. It is part of a series, and it was a struggle to know when to stop Book One, having given readers enough of a story to feel that something has happened, without giving too much away about what happens next.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Finally allowing myself to write it, and let my imagination run free. For many years I’d stopped myself dwelling on my ideas, and imagining what happened in those stories, so finally allowing myself to focus on this story, and let it run, was liberating.

Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.

There are a few. Although not science fiction, there is the concept of multiple realities. There are three worlds, all duplicates of one another. Earth is one of the three. The Savant (Vi, Sansi and Gelaf) are the ancient ones, the original beings sent to oversee the world that was created and keep evil at bay. Seraph are the guardians that work on behalf of the Savant on the worlds that are created. They take the place of people who are taken too soon, so occupy that body for the duration of the Guardianship. They age slowly, but naturally, and in most circumstances simply become friends with the person they are responsible for, with the individual never knowing the truth. Shear Seraph are pure, created initially from relationships that occurred between humans and the Savant, something that is now forbidden. Shear bloodlines must be kept pure and therefore it is forbidden for them to have relationships with other non-Shear Seraph or humans. Harbingers are evil creatures, terrifyingly fast and vicious, and are the agents of Nilameth, the first woman to spurn and disobey the rules of the worlds.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?

There is a tendency to think that paranormal is all about Vampires, Werewolves and Magic, which just isn’t true. Paranormal is essentially edge of reality, so the world you are writing lives and breathes with “normal” earth rules alongside it.

What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?

There is a misconception that fantasy is easy to write – after all, everything is made up. If anything, the reverse is true. What we create as authors of fantasy has to be believable and work; consistency and timelines are essential. So, we have to decide whether gravity exists, how beings can travel dimensions, what the lands, languages and inhabitants are like before we can begin with the story itself.

What inspires you?

This is going to sound so corny, but my family. Not just my daughter and husband, although they do their fair share, but my parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and my late grandparents. They have all experienced so much, both the good and the heartbreak, the way they have fought and struggled through what life has thrown at them while maintaining a close, loving family. They are my daily inspiration.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

Hard work, determination, and the love and support of people around me. The world is full of people that think they are owed something out of life – that just doesn’t happen. You have to make your own opportunities and work at it every single day.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

My favourite authors are quite varied, there’s the classics, such as Shakespeare (I think I’m still the only person in my groups of friends that enjoys reading him), Arthur Conan Doyle, the Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen, etc. Then there is the authors who influenced me and my choices of books as a child – C S Lewis, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Enid Blyton – their stories captured my heart and imagination, and I’d spend hours playing with the characters when much younger, and making up more stories in my head. Lately one of my favourite authors has been Nora Roberts. She introduced me to paranormal fiction, so I guess you could say she is to blame!

What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

The most useful thing any writer can do is read, read, and squeeze more reading in. Don’t limit yourself to a single genre either, because by reading a huge variety of books you get to understand good characterisation, poor scene setting and so on, and subconsciously it will influence and improve your own work. The most destructive thing I have tried to do in my writing is correct grammatical and spelling errors as I go along. I have to let the creative side of my mind run free, and type what comes, otherwise the story dries up.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part time writer. I work full time and have a family, so writing comes third on my list I’m afraid. That means it can be difficult – sometimes I’m just so exhausted either physically or mentally, that I cannot write for days.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’m a part qualified accountant and have worked and qualified as a programme and change manager, I’ve also had a Saturday job in a store that no longer exists, and worked as a passenger services assistant at Birmingham International Airport when on vacation from University. I now run my own business offering consultation, service delivery and problem solving to other organisations. I guess I’d say that they have influenced my work in terms of exposure to many different types of personality and character, including behaviour traits, and knowing the people that I really just don’t like. Those all find their way into my characters somewhere along the line.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

Firstly, try to visit Kenilworth – the castle, town, Leah’s home and the Abbey are all real, so you can explore them for yourselves and see if they meet the descriptions I’ve created in your mind. If you can’t do it in person, look on the Internet, on the English Heritage site, and you will find the castle there.

You can also contact me directly through my website (www.AndreaBakerAuthor.com) or on facebook if you have questions. I love to hear from readers and people interested in the series.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I have mixed feelings to be honest. Anything that encourages people to read is fantastic, and I personally possess both a tablet with reading software and an ereader, and find them invaluable when travelling. But, nothing compares to the feel and smell of a new book, and I will always for that reason buy my favourite authors, or books I’ve discovered online, in physical format too.

In terms of publishing, the industry has become a bit of a school playground really, with bully-boy antics between some of the larger players, and scam and con artists moving into the micro-publishing market. I’ve fallen victim to some of this myself, and it makes me mad to be honest, as these people are generally the middle men between the source of the product (the author) and the buyer (the reader). I find it really annoying that the “big boys” tie bookshops into only selling what they print, so as a reader, what I can find in my local bookshop is being dictated to me, and in some cases the bookshop can’t, or won’t, even order an item off the prescribed list in for me. This is one of the reasons (other than convenience and cost) that I believe that the online market has boomed. However, because of poor editing and quality, the ebook market has a bad image, especially if a book is self published.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

The whole industry reminds me a little of what happened in the music industry a decade or so ago – people claimed it would die, and that downloads would be the death of successful music – but the industry had to change, and now is as strong as ever. Personally I think the publishing industry should stop trying to strong arm each other into doing what one company thinks, and allow the world to adapt and change. The end result will be better for readers and authors alike, with more choice, and more affordable products for the reader, recognition for the author, and the industry will then still be profitable for the business. Once the bully boy tactics have stopped, and people realise that change is here to stay and adapt their practices to suit the new way of working, then things will improve again. I can’t see a time when people no longer wish to read, even with the immediacy of visuals or gaming, but I do worry that the author is being forgotten in the equation.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

Like most authors, I have my fair share of rejection letters in my files, but I was fortunate in winning a competition to be published. There used to be an online community where authors could publish their first chapters, and the community could read and give constructive criticism. Each month the publisher that ran the site would select a number of the first chapters uploaded each month, and at the end of the month put them up for a vote. The winner would get a contract.

My novel was finished in 2011, and submitted, finally being published on my sister’s birthday (a complete coincidence) in October 2012.
That story sounds like a dream come true, but unfortunately the publisher was one of the many independents that have sprung up over the last few years. Unbeknown to me at the time of signing the contract, the lack of communication, accusations of theft against authors, and subsequent failure to pay any royalties were just a few of the experiences we had, and at the point I signed they had over 80 authors on their books, so were by no means a small house. They have now gone into liquidation, still without paying many of their authors, so my experience was, to say the least, bittersweet.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

To quote a reviewer, “I’ve never come across a story with these unique beings and events”. Being set in a real town, with real locations, but with a storyline and characters that have not been seen before makes it ideal for anyone that loves fantasy and paranormal, but wants something a little different to dragons, elves, witches, werewolves and vampires!

How do you find or make time to write?

It’s a discipline, which sometimes I don’t have the willpower to stick to! I try to write something at least twice a week – I’d love to say daily but at the moment that just isn’t feasible. Having said that, I do record voice notes for myself using my smartphone, so if a song on the radio, or something that is said in the office triggers an idea, I can record it and use it in the future.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.

Intuition is my master – I write in a very visual way. The ideas are often stimulated by music, so I will try to record the track that gave me that idea. As I start to piece together the ideas, I create a playlist of those tracks, and listen to it while writing. My ideas come to me in images, and it is almost as though I am watching a film in my mind as it unfolds, and the biggest difficulty I have then is keeping up with the images in my mind! I’m not saying it is the perfect formula, but for me it works so well that I can put myself straight back into a scene simply by moving to a specific track in the playlist. Having said that, there has been the odd occasion when it has backfired on me when people happen to have a specific track as their chosen phone ring…

What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I try to maintain a presence both in terms of my webpage, facebook pages (I have a profile as an author and pages for my books), twitter and through my blog, however keeping those active is quite hard when I already have so little time to write. Just recently I engaged a company to manage the promoting side of things for me, as my biggest difficulty was finding the right contacts. Novel Ideas, and Nick himself, have been a godsend for me in terms of putting me in touch with radio interviews, blog tours, interviews, etc., and given me a platform within which I can work and concentrate my efforts.

What is your role in the writing community?

I am a learner, and an active member of a small community called The Alliance of Worldbuilders. We originally came together through the Harper Collins website, Authonomy, which brings authors together to discuss and promote work. As a group of fantasy authors we bonded, and became friends as well as fellow authors, to such an extent that at one stage we almost broke their servers with the size of our threads! We now use other methods of keeping in touch, and we are fortunate in that many of us have now been published in one way or another. The support, advice and friendship from people who understand the “I woke up with an idea at 4am and wrote 5 thousand words before leaving for work” mentality, has been invaluable. I really don’t think I would have got this far without them. We suffered a tragic loss at the start of the year, when one of our members died very unexpectedly, and the grief we all felt, despite being in different corners of the world, was almost tangible. It brought us even closer together, and we are shortly going to publish an anthology in memory of those we have lost, and hope to release one annually to raise funds for charity.

There are those out there that think they are better than others because they’ve been published. My point of view is different, I have been fortunate, but still have a lot to learn. If I can help others on their own journey then I’m happy to talk and offer my own experience for their reflection, but I’m no expert.

What do you like to read in your free time?

Anything and everything depending upon my mood. As I’ve already said, my tastes are wide ranging and somewhat eclectic, but you’ll rarely find me without a book on the go, whether it is physical, or audio so I can listen to it in the car or gym, or on my phone or tablet.

What projects are you working on at the present?

Book Two of Worlds Apart is well under way, and I have the remainder of the story planned as well. They are my current work in progress items.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I would love to write crime, and I have an idea mapped out that may develop fully in that way in the future, but before that I have another book to write. It is based upon the childhood of my late grandfather, and will be named after him, who grew up in inner city Birmingham just before and during the war, including being evacuated to a place not far from where I used to live. It is hard to write, however, as I still miss him very much.
I am also working on a journal that has very personal meaning to me, regarding something that I experienced a few years ago, that changed my life for many reasons. Over a period of seven years, I had seven operations, and a diagnosis of malignant melanoma, as well as a pre-cancerous condition, that left me in a state of constant panic and fear that I wouldn’t live to see my daughter grow up – the dedication to my daughter and family in the front of Leah was written during that time. Then, on 2nd November 2012, I was called to see a different surgeon for a complete review of my case. At that appointment I was told that it was all false – none of the operations had been necessary, and the diagnoses were incorrect, the whole thing was a pack of lies and money-making racket. The journal has become important in terms of working through the fear, anger, despair and hatred of those lost years and the doctor I trusted. Whether I will ever be brave enough to put it forward for publication will be another matter, but writing is the only way I know of dealing with it and getting it out of my system before it is the cause of something else.

“LEAH” IS NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

 

leah cover