Author Spotlight: Victor Rook

Today’s Author Spotlight is: Victor Rook

 – A PBS award-winning documentarian, a local writer with a strong sense of gallows humor, and a wildlife activist.

 


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vicheadsuitReaders, let’s welcome to my blog Victor, a PBS award-winning documentarian, a local writer with a strong sense of gallows humor, and a wildlife activist. He’s agreed to visit and share with us today some dreams, some advice, and some reading recommendations.

Victor, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I would like to have a giant anaconda as a pet. I could feed nasty people to it and make money off the live-cam streams of their crushing demise.

But, in truth (or in addition), I’d love to have a dog. Dogs are love covered in fur.

I’m not sure whether to dub you vicious or sweet after that. Let’s move on, shall we?

What do you write and how did you get started?

I have written memoir, fiction, horror, poetry, and more…a little bit of everything. Even a craft book! Which could be my problem, since successful authors often stick to one genre and profit off a series of books.

My start was fairly unusual. One night I decided to write a funny story about how every time I visited my mother and sister, they would talk to me for five minutes then ignore me for their dogs the rest of the time. It was only about three pages, and it was the first time I had attempted to write anything since college. My degree was in Mechanical Engineering, so you can imagine there wasn’t much creative writing going on at school.

3dmusingssmAfter my mother passed away in 2008, I began writing short, true stories about things that happened in my life. I compiled those memories and moments from childhood to adulthood into a book and titled it Musings of a Dysfunctional Life. I don’t think I’m personally dysfunctional, but my family surely was.

It’s a book that I feel many people can relate to. I was fully honest about everything, including family abuse. And boy was it cathartic. All those negative memories dissipated after they were put into words on a computer screen. Interspersed with those poignant moments are funny, everyday happenings I remember. Like the satanic twin babies in the checkout line (*shivers*), or how easily I become entranced in the “As seen on TV” aisles of pharmacy stores.

3Dgoodtimessm

Next, I wrote a full-length novel titled In Search of Good Times. It’s about a man who believes the sitcom families from Good Times and All in the Family are real and goes on a road trip to find them. It took me three years to write, and it’s one of my favorites. If you like road-trip books where the main character meets interesting people along the way, this book is for you.

3DpeoplesmMy next book, People Who Need to Die, which is my best seller, is a series of satirical short horror stories where people are allowed to kill bad people in the year 2021. Bad drivers, spammers, horrible bosses, litterbugs, and mean neighbors are just a few of the many targets.

I was inspired after seeing how awful people behave in stores on Black Friday. In one short, “Black Friday Revenge,” a father, whose son was trampled to death at a mall on Black Friday, transforms an abandoned warehouse into what looks like a big-box store. He lures unsuspecting shoppers to it the following Black Friday and makes them play shopping games to survive.

Poetry Pizza, a series of easy-to-read rhyming poems, and Dollar Store Crafts & Recipes round out my other books.

Wow! You’ve definitely written a wide variety of stuff! Not penning yourself in as a this-genre or that-genre writer definitely has allowed you to follow your muse.

What do you like to read?

This may come as a shock, but I am not an avid reader. But when I do, I enjoy short stories. Since I am also a filmmaker, I feel guilty when I am not creating something myself. I am currently working on a documentary about bald eagles, which also includes writing the script narration.

In this day and age, quick reads are pretty popular. Good luck with your bald eagle documentary.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

I would say focus groups that read your material for feedback. Every time I do that I seem to get mixed opinions. Some will love something, when others won’t. Because people like certain genres, and what I write may not appeal to them for that reason, I never get a clear grasp if something is working or not. So I have to go with my gut. Truthfully, though, it’s when honesty shows in your writing that I believe it also becomes more accepted and enjoyed.

Knowing what advice to listen to is hard when everyone speaks with the same authority. I keep thinking of starting up a group — but only of people who write my genre. And then I remember that I don’t have enough time for everything I’m already doing.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can’t pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Oxford comma, baby. I don’t like seeing the second to the last item in a list get less respect than the items that precede it. George, Tim, Tom and Doug. Poor Tom. I just can’t let Tom down without a comma to go around.

I hear ya! (Confession: I had to fight not to correct that sentence…)

Shameless self-promotion.

All of the above. Plus:

Victor Rook’s nature film, Beyond the Garden Gate, won two Telly awards and aired on PBS. He also helps other authors with book cover design, interior formatting, editing, and publishing.

You can find him at http://victorrook.com

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Poetry Challenge: Part 2

Another week of poetry for #OctPoWriMo

I hope you can find a piece to enjoy.

When Creatives Dream

We all want a sign
that it’s our time to shine
We dream what we dream
polish it to a gleam
Through toil and strife,
cut excess with a knife
To make–like a wine,
we work hard to refine
And then–oh our hearts–
to the world, we’ll impart
We’ll reach out and pine
Yet our luck must align
To find the right one–
An audience we’ll stun.”

My Precious

My Precious Busy days, busy lives Rushing here, rushing there After work, after chores that's when my treasure's found My precious, rare, spare time.
Busy days, busy lives

Rushing here, rushing there

After work, after chores

that’s when my treasure’s found

My precious, rare, spare time.


Hope

“Hope, like a river, ebbs and flows.
One dark day, a vicious act,
can somehow shrink it all away.

But the seed is hard to lose.
One kind word, a glimpse of hope
is all it takes to make it grow.

Shun the cruel and plant some hope,
At home, at school, at work, in life.”


It Calls

The sky is dark as the rain falls down. My bed it calls, so safe and sound. Too bad my book must wait again, For my day is not yet done

“The sky is dark as the rain falls down.

My bed it calls, so safe and sound.

Too bad my book must wait again,

For my day is not yet done.”


Word Sharer

“There once was a woman nerd

who wanted to share her words

she wrote them all down

then showed them around

and hoped she’d find her fan herd”

Waiting For Rejection…Or Selection!

As Writers, We Spend A Lot of Time Waiting

Tomorrow, after weeks and weeks, the mentees for PitchWars 2018 will be announced. I didn’t enter this year, but I have many friends who did. (Best of luck!)

Meanwhile, in the next week or so, I’ll find out if my panel submissions from last month, for World Fantasy Con, appealed to the schedule coordination team.

And sometime, in the short term future, I’ll hear back from the agent who requested my full (manuscript) a couple months ago.

You know? As a writer, I’ve pretty much always got at least one project going, or at least projects I could be working on. Even when I’m not in the middle of one story, I’m either planning my next story, editing my old ones, or beta-reading for my critique partners. So, you’d think with all this activity, I wouldn’t notice how much time I spend waiting.

Half in terror, half in hope. Will I be found worthy?

And, the strange part is, I’m a little bit scared either way.

It makes sense to fear rejection.

Rejection hurts.

Your work, that you’ve poured your hopes and dreams into for months or years has been measured, weighed, and found wanting.

It’s easy to blame:

  • your query
  • your writing
  • your plotting
  • your incorrect read on the actual tastes of the mentor/agent/Editor/etc you submitted to
  • or — you know — maybe it’s just the market

It can feel like you’re never going to find someone to believe in you–who can actually take you to that next level, careerwise.

For those panels I submitted? There are famous authors, professional editors of publishing houses, and quality agents on their panels.

  • What makes me feel that I’m qualified to talk as if I were an actual professional?
  • I didn’t know who to submit with me
    • maybe they won’t put my panel suggestions on the schedule because they don’t know who else to put on the panel
    • they’d rather not have a ‘panel’ turn into a lecture/Q&A session with a no name.

For those of you querying agents, I know your fears.

  • Silence
  • Form rejection letters
  • Requests from agents that leave the industry before responding
  • Rejected R&Rs (revise and resubmit letters)

But. There’s another side to our fears.

What If I *Am* Selected?

For those of you PitchWars hopefuls — the ones still clinging to hope — I know your fears.

  • What if you ARE selected and you can’t measure up?
  • Why you, when you see so many other talented writers that didn’t get selected?
  • What if you work as hard as you can, do everything you’re asked, and the agents still ignore you?

The mentor saw something in you, saw something they knew how to fix in your manuscript, and either way, your story will improve and you’ll have learned so much!

If you get an agent, I know those fears, too.

  • What if the agent can’t find a publisher?
  • What if you’ve chosen a bad agent who neglects you?
  • What if your agent doesn’t ‘get’ your story and tries to change it into something else?
  • What if your agent leaves the industry and you’re dumped back into the cold-query piles?

And for me? With those panels potentially at the end of the month?

  • What if I get up there and talk over all the experienced panelists?
    • (I know me. I wish I’d be tongue-tied, but I tend to babble when nervous)
  • What if I *am* the only panelist?
  • What if I can’t gather my thoughts and sound like a fool?
  • What if there are belligerent panelists who antagonize me?

It’s easy to make lists of fears. But eventually, most of them boil down to one thing, and one thing only:

Facing Impostor Syndrome

Getting to the next stage in our writing careers is a great recipe for Impostor Syndrome. And the only way past that is to fake-it-til-you-make-it.

Prepare as hard as you can, do your homework, and try your best.

And in the meantime, finish editing that thing you were working on.


Thanks for reading and wish me luck!

I’m wishing all of you the BEST of luck, with your PitchWars or agent or publisher queries and submissions.

P.S. Let me know I’m not alone in these fears, that I’m not just projecting my fears on the rest of you.

Blogger Achievement Unlocked

Today is a momentous day for me:

I just hit 500 followers!

I (literally) couldn’t have done it without you!

Let me know who you are!

Introduce yourselves and answer the important question: if you could have any pet in the world (with no allergies or issues feeding them) what would it be?

Author Spotlight: Doc Coleman

Today’s Author Spotlight is: Doc Coleman

 – A local steampunk writer, author of The Perils of Prague and The Shining Cog

 


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Readers, let’s welcome to my blog Doc, the gentleman adventurer. He’s agreed to visit and share with us today some dreams, some advice, and some reading recommendations.

Doc, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

My cats may hate me for saying this, but I’d love to have a fire lizard, from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. Then again, they might get along with the cats. But it would be so cool to have a micro dragon who can fetch stuff and carry messages?

I have to admit to having wanted one when I was a teen, who didn’t?

What do you write and how did you get started?

I got started out of peer pressure. I knew Tee Morris back in his days at the renaissance festival. Every few years we’d run into each other and catch up. About ten years ago, I ran into him again and found out that he’d become an author and a podcaster. He introduced me to a bunch of podcast novelists online and in real life. When you hang out with podcast novelists the two most frequent questions you get asked are “What’s your podcast?” and “What are you writing?” I got tired of answering “nothing”, and I decided that you don’t get better at things you don’t do, so I started writing. I started off writing a tech blog, and after a few months, I started writing fiction for the Every Photo Tells… podcast. I was quite shocked when I submitted my first story and they accepted it. That same year, I did a guest spot on the Galley Table podcast and ended up becoming a regular member of the crew.

Being on Galley Table got me interested in doing NaNoWriMo, but for that, I needed a writing project. The Perils of Prague was a Steampunk adventure that evolved out of a Halloween costume, and it worked great for a first NaNo project. The words just flowed out of me. Since then I’ve tried writing YA and Science Fiction, but the Steampunk just comes so easily. I’ll get back to my YA trilogy and my Sci-Fi stories eventually, but for now, I’m having a lot of fun playing in my Steampunk world. I’ve got no problem being known as a Steampunk author, but I won’t stay that way forever.

I know these feelings. Being asked “what do you do” by creatives has a completely different vibe than from the rest of the world. NaNoWriMo was the trigger that got my first story out of me, and I usually use it these days to kickstart new novels — it’s great for getting through the initial slough.

What do you like to read?

The temptation is to say “everything”, but that’s not really true. I don’t really read modern romances. I find them too formulaic. But I like the old romances where it is less about boy meets girl and more about high ideals. I read tons of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and Steampunk, of course. I also enjoy Mysteries and old-fashioned Adventure stories. And a good comedy now and then certainly clears the palate. While I’m not really into Horror, I have read some stuff from that genre written by people I know. And I do find that some horrific elements will creep into my stories. The genre just never really excited me.

I can see how all of these genres contribute toward your writing style. Plus, a little extra…bombast.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Avoid adverbs. This is the most ridiculous piece of advice, but people keep spreading it. We only get eight parts of speech. I’m supposed to write with one of them tied behind my back? I don’t write to show off, I write to create interesting stories. When I do that, I’m going to fully use the tools at my disposal. Why would I eliminate an entire part of speech?

And the same goes for this whole thing about pretending that the verb “to be” doesn’t exist. Sometimes you need the passive voice. Or past participles.

So true. It seems that people take suggestions and try to globally apply them as if it were a formula that could guarantee quality.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

When in doubt, blow something up. We put our characters through hell. They live in chaos when almost nothing goes right. And when things actually start going well, they don’t know what to do next.

And bingo, writer’s block.

When you get stuck like that, you can try to wallow through with it and find something for your characters to do to get moving again, or you can blow something up. Something explodes, something crashes, someone walks in and tries to kill them. Now your characters know what to do. They don’t have time to think, they react. And they’re moving again. The story is moving again. Everything is fun again. And it makes for a great adventure.

I love adventure.

My own writing could use a little more ‘just do it’ and a little less ‘thinking time’. I’ll do my best to learn from your example.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

You can find all of my published works at my Amazon Author page. All of them are available for Kindle, but the only things currently in print are The Way of the Gun, A Bushido Western Anthology; The Perils of Prague, and The Shining Cog and Other Steampunk Tales.

The Perils of Prague is a rollicking Steampunk Comedy Adventure! Or is that a Comedy Steampunk Adventure? Or an Adventure Steampunk Comedy? Anyway, it is good, it is fun, and it is funny. Don’t take my word for it, read the reviews. Or better yet, read the sample on Amazon.

Or, if you just want to get a taste for my writing, Take a look at The Shining Cog and Other Steampunk Tales. Six stories in three different Steampunk worlds. I think you’ll love it. Enjoy the Adventure!

The Perils of Prague (The Adventures of Crackle & Bang) (Volume 1)