This past September, J.O. and I hosted our tenth annual All-Iowa Writers’ Conference. Over the years, we have had the chance to meet many wonderful authors. We would like to share with you some information about and advice from authors who have attended our conference and authors we hope will be able to attend in the future.
If you have a favorite author you would like to see showcased, please pass their name on to us. And feel free to reach out to your favorite author and let them know you’d like to see them in our Author’s Corner!
Please tell our readers a little about yourself and how you become an author.
I’m a fifth-generation Iowan from Lake Park in Dickinson County. I graduated from Morningside College in Sioux City. I’ve spent my entire career writing for a living, first as a newspaper reporter and then in marketing. I became an author because I viewed writing a book as the ultimate for a hard-core writer. Having control over a world of characters appealed to me. My wife and I now live in West Des Moines.
Please tell us about your books and list the titles.
I have written a series of five books so far. All feature the same characters — Tom Kingman, a shoot-from-the-him newspaper reporter and Hillary Reed, a buttoned-up prosecutor. The books build on one and other and are all set in Western Iowa, primarily in and around Sioux City. The books have three main elements: the mystery, Tom and Hillary’s developing relationship, and an element of religious exploration.
#1 Officer Involved set in Sioux City
#2 Paper Trail set in Omaha/Council Bluffs
#3 Avenging Angel set in Sioux City
#4 Tipsy House set in Okoboji
#5 Traffic set in rural Woodbury County
Where are they available to purchase?
All are available on Amazon in print and e-book and at Sioux City Gifts in Sioux City.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write the kind of books that you like to read, whether that’s romance, mystery, literary fiction, non-fiction or whatever.
Do a little research in the form or reading really good books in your genre.
Do a chapter-by-chapter outline that includes the purpose of the chapter, setting, and point of view. During the outlining process, you can do the research you need to and make sure all the plotlines are working together.
Once you have your outline, just do it. Write it through. Don’t worry a lot about getting it perfect on the first draft. Just crank through it. FINISH THE BOOK.
Then edit. Over and over. Find some friends who will be critical and have them read the manuscript when you think it’s close to done. Make sure you ask people who you can trust to be honest with you.
Only write a book if it will give you pleasure/joy to do so. The odds of you making money on this are very long.
Invest in a professional cover designer. People do judge the book by its cover. Amateurish covers make people think the entire book is amateurish.
Work on the copy on the back of the book to make it intriguing. Do NOT summarize the plot on the back but set up the big questions/discoveries/dangers.
Make sure your first chapter starts off with a bang. High energy, or at least high interest. The first chapters are SUPER critical to keeping your reader. Most people will give you one chapter to hook them.
What is your current writing project?
I am currently working on Book 6 in the series, Ornament. I have it outlined and a couple of chapters written.
Please tell us about your publishing journey. Are you self-published or are you traditionally published?
My journey is long and winding. I first wrote my first book, Officer Involved, back in the late 1990s. Back then traditional publishing was the only way to go. What a pain. I gave up. Then in 2014 or so, with the rise of self-publishing, I pulled my book out, updated it, and self-published. Self-publishing puts you in complete control of your book, but it also forces you to find/pay for people to help you edit it, design the cover, etc. I enjoy the control and use freelance artists and typesetters to do the production, then publish via Amazon KDP.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Nobody should write a book with dreams of big profit. That’s almost like winning the lotto. Write because you enjoy writing and you want to share it with others