Joe is such a charismatic guy! He is super sweet and it’s really hard to believe that anyone would reject anything that he ever wrote!!! AND LOOK AT THAT FACE!! Giggles! Anyway I am totally being silly because Joe and I have that kind of repport. If we ever met in person we would probably run around acting like silly little kids and our significant others would tell us to act our age! LM(Uhhhhh)O!!! I hope you enjoy this weeks installment of Nerd Girl Official’s Indy Author Talk!
♥ Gladys #XOXOtheNerdGirl #NerdGirlOfficial
PS ~ Just to show you how silly Joe is! Here is his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!!
*****First is Not the Worst*****
There’s something special about first experiences. No! This is not erotica so get your mind out of the gutter. Although, since my wife and I met when I was a freshman in high school and “waited” for marriage I could go there. Nah.
The first time I went hunting I spent the night in a little trailer that smelled like natural gas and I was certain I would die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. It was a powerful experience because now I spend those cool fall mornings writing or chasing Thing One and Thing Two.
My first trip on the annual vacation with my wife’s family was something special. I slept on a springy pullout couch (and yes, twelve years later the same couch is still there) where the drip of coffee and conversation of evil morning people had me up at 7:00 am. Unacceptable for an eighteen-year-old.
For some reason the first time I saw anyone but an adult flip pancakes has influenced me (when my wife was on bed rest with our second I became an expert…hint: add a little vanilla). One of my colleagues in wood shop worked at Perkins and he was darn good at making pancakes. The wild boar bacon was a little gamey though.
Okay. Now I’m going to be serious.
In August of 2007 I was plagued with post Harry Potter depression (The Deathly Hallows had released in July) and disappointed that despite several close calls I had not landed a teaching job. My younger sister, Annie, and I had been talking about and unsuccessfully predicting the plot line of Harry Potter for years and we found ourselves in a strange new world where nothing sounded appealing and even sour patch kids didn’t taste quite as good. It was then that she uttered perhaps the five most influential words my brain has ever registered: you should write a book.
Me? Write a book? Hold on I need to back track. This was the first time I had ever considered writing anything for fun. But about six months prior was the first time I remember anyone complimenting me on my writing ability. It was my final portfolio for the college of education. And beside the grade (an A of course!) were the words: you write very well.
The first book series I was addicted to combined with a compliment about my writing and the encouragement of my younger sister led me to writing down something for fun. Fun you ask? YES! You can write for fun. So I started writing and six months later I had the first draft of a novel. It. Was. Exciting. And I was immediately addicted.
So with a manuscript in hand I was ready to join my hero J.K. Rowling on the book shelf (Roper would be close by…). But before I sent out my work I decided to join a critique group. I loved my first critique group and still work with some of the original members. In fact, three of us have been making a pilgrimage to the Midwest Writers Workshop since 2009. During my first workshop I met a literary agent who requested the full manuscript. I was sold on my future as an author. She would love it. Three months later I received a large envelope in the mail from her. It was a rejection. But she had done something I have never heard of before or since…she critiqued my first chapter, showed me my common mistakes, and gave me a personalized note that kept me motivated during those difficult first years of rejection after rejection.
Soon the kind and even positive rejections weren’t enough. I love this but…. Your concept is brilliant but…. You are a great writer but….
Still addicted to the written word I began writing short stories. It was fun. I wrote things that made my skin crawl and within months I received my first acceptance from SJ Davis at Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing (I love her, just getting that out in the open now). It was so much fun seeing my work in print and being befriended by the publishers and many of the authors who wrote for CHBB (oh my heart, Sarah Jayne Carr).
With energy renewed from a handful of short story acceptances I overhauled my first novel and began submitting it widely. In love with the atmosphere of CHBB (and the book covers, omg!) I sent it there too. It was scary. I had only sent it to literary agents before and my list was dwindling after years of rejections. So I looked to independent publishers and hoped I could negotiate for myself.
The offer came from SJ Davis and I (trying not to wet myself) signed with CHBB. The Hunter Awakens has been out for just over a month and I am happy to say, it has garnered lots of love from readers.
My first written labor of love ended up being my debut novel. And my first literary family has been nothing short of spectacular. Thank you Nerd Girl for my first Indy Author Talk. You all rock!
*****Q&A with Joe*****
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
My inspiration was really a love for reading which began with Harry Potter. When the series ended and my sister (as chronicled above) told me to write, I felt compelled to give it a try, hoping that my stories could develop readers as Rowling did for me. As far as the book goes, I began with the setting. I grew up on an old farm much like the one in The Hunter Awakens. The characters and story grew from the world I imagined.
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
By far the author with the most influence has been J.K. Rowling. A close second would be Joseph Delaney, author of The Last Apprentice series. The first book I ever loved was actually The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas which my senior English teacher forced me to read. Thanks Mr. Annen.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
My main character, Ethan, took over the story as soon as I had the setting. Destry, his younger sister is much like my younger sister who I dedicated the book to. Hellish Mel is like my wife…okay just kidding, hon. All of my character (except for Mel who tried to take over book 2) were in the story from the start and as stated above, they grew from the world I had created for them. I think every character has shades of the author and the authors experience and from somewhere deep within they are waiting and ready to tell their stories.
Q. What motivates you to write?
I became addicted as soon as I started The Hunter Awakens in 2007. I was not a writer before, but then again, I had never written anything just for fun either. It felt more romantic when I first started. I guess it is like infatuation/lust when you start dating. Eventually it wears off and then love carries you forward even when it seems like a lot of work.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
For me the most difficult part is discipline and writing every day. I teach full time, coach track in the spring, and have two young boys at home so when I sit down to write at night I am always hoping for the energy to carry me through. I wish I could wake up early and write but I hate mornings and I would probably just drool on my keyboard.
Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes. It was a great skeleton but the words were not very good. I was making lots of beginner mistakes early on in regards to point of view and plot structure. But I also learned that if I just write fast and furious I can churn out a first draft in about six months and then worry about fixing it later. You can’t fix a story that hasn’t been written!
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. My childhood. Bits of conversation I overhear. One of my favorite games is to take situations where I am really happy and imagine someone completely miserable in the same place. I am also cautious so anytime I feel uneasy I try to figure out why and this can generate sinister ideas.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
I have immense support from my family. I don’t think any of them ever imagined me as a writer but then again I was never a reader until I discovered Harry Potter. My wife is my biggest fan and my first editor (she’s tough). My parents, sisters, and in-laws have all encouraged me over the years. I am blessed. Occasionally, my boys might want me to quit typing and instead play cars.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Do fall in love with your story and characters. Do not fall in love with your words. Some of them will need to be murdered and others changed to make your characters real and your story compelling. Give up the romantic idea that your words are perfect because you wrote them in a state of writer ecstasy. If readers are noticing your words, you have failed.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I slowly digest nonfiction while I am reading fiction. My current nonfiction book is How to Write Horror Fiction by William F. Nolan (out of print but available in used books). For fiction I am currently reading Book Twelve in The Last Apprentice Series titled I Am Alice. I highly recommend Joseph Delaney’s work. He is a master of pacing suspense.
*****Connect with J.R. Roper*****
Website and Blog: http://joerroper.com
*****The Hunter Awakens: Book One of the Morus Chronicles*****
Available on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TheHunterAwakens
Available on ibooks: http://smarturl.it/HunterAwakensibooks
Available on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/455706
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