Speed Dating for Readers
Peanut Butter Cups vs. Netflix
You’re going to enjoy the wit of today’s author. Meet Scott Abel who has a day job in government; no easy task these days. His first book, published through Black Opal Books appears to be one of those books all ages will enjoy. Let’s see how he got started in this crazy busy. Talk to us, Scott.
I’m on a mission, and maybe you can help. In between my job as a motivational speaker and my non-stop duties at home with a wife and two kids, juggling time to write and binge-watching the best Netflix has to offer, I’m constantly searching for the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Yes, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups are heavenly, and a slice of chocolate and peanut butter pie is delectably delightful, but I know something better still awaits. So, if you have discovered any evidence of where such an exquisite confection may be found, please let me know and I will include it in my next novel.
So your first book is titled Sunrise. Give us the skinny on the story.
“Eighteen-year old Parker Austin, big brother and high school quarterback, dreams of glory on the football field. But a tragic shooting shatters Parker’s world. In a span of sixty seconds, a mass tragedy wreaks havoc upon his life, family, and community. Although hailed a hero, Parker is horror-struck to discover that an incident from his past was the motive for the killings and that he was the intended target. When someone threatens to get the one that got away, Parker finds himself hunted.
Help comes from an unexpected source–an angel named Marie. A spunky, impulsive guardian, Marie is dedicated to saving Parker at all costs, but will her love be enough to save him when the darkness comes for him? When Marie is confronted by a sinister nemesis who covets Parker’s soul, a desperate struggle is waged over Parker’s fate. With time running out, she must face her growing, but secret affections for Parker that she can no longer ignore, affections that will force her to make the ultimate decision–sacrifice herself and all that she believes, or lose him to the darkness forever.”
What inspired you to write this story? Is this typical?
I’ve always been drawn to the supernatural, especially Angel-Demon conflict. But the true inspiration that sparked my writing was Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight novels. My wife and I watched the first Twilight film when it released just to see what all the buzz was about. After the credits rolled, I turned to her and remarked with incredible naivety that if that was a best-selling novel, then I could do the same thing–write a novel that a publisher would want to put into the market. Little did I know how arduous the journey to becoming a published author really is. After multiple drafts and re-writes and countless mistakes, here I am. Thanks, Stephanie.
How do you make time to write? Do you have a routine?
With a full-time job and two kids at home, time is a precious commodity. I sneak in some writing whenever I can, squeezing minutes here and there from swim practices and dance lessons, lunch breaks at work, and quiet evenings in hotel rooms when I travel. But I prefer to do my writing early in the morning, when pitch black tints the windows before sunrise and the house is still quiet except for my Keurig machine and the pecking of keys on my laptop.
Which authors influenced you? Why?
I have a small list of preferred authors: Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, Ted Dekker, and Billy Coffey. However, my hands-down, all-time favorite is Dean Koontz. His descriptive prose is unmatched by any author and his ability to explore the depth and range of the human psyche cannot be found anywhere else in modern literature.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo–and it’s not even close. Intelligent, cunning, merciful and compassionate–yet also diabolical and ruthless in his pursuit of righteous revenge. One part James Bond, one part Jason Bourne, he’s the personification of cool.
Trails of Success
Like all good surprises I met J.C. Fields at a marketing workshop I taught for writers. I love how he jumped right in to experience this crazy world of being an author. Then I discovered J.C. started his writing career naming the inter-mural basketball team in his junior high home room as Splitter’s Splutters. Ms. Splitter was not amused. His next venture in writing occurred in high school where his first short story was awarded an A for story and a C- for punctuation. Writing became a passion during college, but after graduation, a particularly drastic downturn in the financial situation of the country smothered the passion. With recession at hand and a newly earned degree in Psychology from Missouri State University, he joined a sales and marketing company which enabled him to travel extensively throughout the United States, France, and Spain.
In 2006, he joined an on-line writing blog where the main character of his Sean Kruger series was born. He is now an award-winning author. With his continued success, J.C. now has published three novels: The Fugitive’s Trail (2015), The Assassin’s Trail (2016), and The Impostor’s Trail (2017) which are available on Amazon.com, with audio versions available on Audible.com. He lives in Southwest Missouri with his wife and their rescue cat, Asia. Visit his website at www.jcfieldsbooks.com. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcfieldsbooks
Q: What inspired you to write your latest novel? Is this typical?
A: My third novel, The Impostor’s Trail, is an expansion of a short story written in 2014. The story was written while developing the main protagonist of my Trail series; FBI Agent Sean Kruger. The short story was titled, The Forgotten Brother Affair. It is about two brothers, one a psychopath and the other a sad individual who only wants his brother to care about him. Part one of the novel is the short story, part two occurs six years later. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but my beta reader indicated she felt it is the strongest of my three novels. The Impostor’s Trail will be released July 25, 2017, as an eBook and paperback. It will be produced as an Audible.com book sometime in October.
Is this typical? No, this is the first time I have taken one of my short stories and expanded it into a full-length novel.
Q: How do you make the time to write?
A: With a full-time day job, it is challenging to find quality time to concentrate on writing. When I am in the middle of a first draft I am up around 4 a.m. banging on the keyboard until at least 7 a.m. most days. I don’t write well at night, so I don’t. Weekends find me up early with a cup of coffee on my desk. I get a lot accomplished before anyone else starts to stir. It takes a year for me to write a novel. There is the first draft, as many re-writes as needed, review by an editor, another re-write, and then a review by my line editor and beta reader before the final re-write.
For me finding time to write is simple. All you have to do, as I tell a beginning author friend of mine who struggles to find time to write, is put butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
Q: What advice would you give to writers and readers?
A: There are two pieces of advice I would share with beginning authors. First, join a critique group. You will grow faster as an author if you listen to others and pay attention. Second, I would say never stop trying to improve your writing. Find ways to make it tighter and cleaner. Look for unnecessary words you habitually use and eliminate them from your work. I hate the words that and had, I have not completely eliminated them, but I am trying.
Q: Which authors influenced you and why?
A: As a young boy, my mother used to take me to our neighborhood library. I can still remember scanning the shelves for books by authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, and Richard Matheson. Along with my mother, who infected me with the love of books, these gifted writers helped transport my younger self to far-away worlds where anything was possible. Probably where my love of Star Trek comes from, but I still prefer to read over watching television.
Over time I started reading authors like Frederick Forsythe, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, John Sanford, Craig Johnson, and many others. My novels have roots in this rite of passage between science fiction and suspense. While traveling extensively over the years, I read constantly. I believe this influenced my writing more than any other phase of my life.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/J.C.-Fields/e/B00X3GGIYU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Writing for the President?
Several years ago Nancy Sartor and I met up in Nashville, Tennessee. She had invited me to participate in a panel for new authors at Killer Nashville and of course I jumped at the chance. But the reward turned out to be getting to know this interesting lady who didn’t give up on writing. I want you to meet her.
Welcome Nancy! We meet again. This is something we never discussed at Killer Nashville so tell me, why do you write?
I write because I can’t stop. My mother said when I learned a new word as a toddler, I would crawl into my playpen (imagine a kid who would crawl into a playpen!) and practice the word until I got it right. I was fifteen when I won a chance to compete in a Belmont College writing contest. Didn’t win, but I did learn how to balance a teacup on my knee. When I first began writing, a seasoned author said, “If you can quit, do. This business will wear you out and break your heart.” I quit. For two years, I didn’t write a thing that wasn’t business. But I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t me. I went back to writing. The seasoned writer said, “Well, hell. I’m afraid you’re a writer.”
Yes, you are certainly a writer. So tease me a little about this new book of yours.
BLESSED CURSE Six children with psychic connections. A mountain on the edge of the rational world. Two women who stretch across time and space to save an unwanted innocent. http://amzn.to/2qA53Nr
Interesting. I’m curious. Do you have any heroes in your life?
I have many. My husband who has battered his way into the classical music field as a composer and conductor. If you think our business is tough, you should try his. My daughter, who despite rheumatoid arthritis raised three children, and runs her life with the efficiency of an electronic clock. My mother, who lived in a time when women could not be what they wanted and still managed to open doors for herself.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the past who would it be and why?
God. I have about four million questions to ask him. It would be a long dinner.
What are some of your favorite things?
Soft summer evenings bobbing in the pool, sipping wine and solving the world’s problems with my husband. Seashores anywhere. Mountain mornings. Enriching conversations with interesting people. People, because they’re all interesting if you’re a writer. The sweet weight of a baby in my arms.
That sounded pretty romantic. Do you have a writing tip or advice for us?
Write the first draft. Just write it. Don’t edit. Don’t second guess. Don’t go back and back and back and back. Write it from the first paragraph to the end. Then go back and edit, edit, edit, second guess, work it over, make it sing. But first, write the first draft. It will suck, and that’s how a first draft should be. Trust yourself. I spent years in critique groups accepting advice from all sorts of well-meaning folks. I tore up and rewrote chapters that were better before I began than when I ended. Not dissing critique groups. They are invaluable, but you must be able to separate the good advice from the bad. You must trust yourself enough to make the novel your own.
What person influenced you the most?
My husband. When I would have quit, he was still in his study composing. When I was certain I’d never achieve publication, he gained publication through networking and perseverance. When I was frustrated, he praised my work and exhorted me to keep trying.
Who is your favorite superhero and why?
I don’t have a favorite. They’re all delightful cardboard people who do amazing things that stand the light of day only because we all want to accept them.
If you suddenly found yourself on the run what message would you leave behind for loved ones?
Wait to hear from me.
Besides being a writer what would be your dream job?
A speech writer for the President of the United States.
Speech writer for the president! Wow. So now I’m curious as to the further stories you’re going to weave. But for now tell us a little something about what led you to this new story?
Many years ago, Dave and I visited Rugby, Tennessee, a tiny town on the edge of the Big South Fork Recreational area that was established amid great fanfare in the late 1800s. I was fascinated at the incredibly sophisticated houses and buildings the English settlers left behind when they fled back to England in the early 1900s. Because I had been involved in saving one of the buildings, I was also fascinated by the dogged determination of those working preserve the town and its history. Rugby has its own ghosts, more than one, but that was not the story that crept into my mind on long drive home. Jorie came first with a name I don’t think I had ever heard before. Took a while before she explained that it was short for Marjorie and her middle name was Morningstar because her mother had an odd sense of humor. Morningstar didn’t make it into the final version because it didn’t fit the tone, but I got a good laugh from it. Logan came next, but he arrived as a Rodney. Rodneys don’t elicit the same image of hunkdom that Logans do, so Rodney had to go and make room for Logan. Bit by bit, the story wove itself together as stories do.
Want more Nancy Sartor? Try this!
Thank you for letting me pick your brain. I hope to touch base with you again this year at Killer Nashville. Let’s make this a habit. And a lesson to everyone; you never know who you’ll meet at a writing conference. Don’t be shy about going and interacting with creative people.