Monday

Kindle Author Interview: Richard S. Freeland

Richard Freeland, author of Equinox: Six Declinations, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Equinox: Six Declinations?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: I’ve slowly accumulated a stable of short stories, and published a few on on-line ezines like Fool-Motley (now defunct) and Dark Fire, but haven’t really tried to do much with them. I finally figured that I’m not getting any younger, so I’d best put them out there, and see what develops.

I don’t have the time or the patience to fool with sending stories out to the print magazines, so thought an ebook anthology would be a better way to go.

There are six stories in Equinox: Six Declinations, ranging from horror to traditional quest fantasy to suspense.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: In several ways. Sometimes a character will appear full-blown in my mind. When this happens, the writing really goes fast. Other times I’ll work on character development during the writing process itself.

I’ve tried using checklists and such to develop characters (fill in physical and cultural info, etc.), but that doesn’t really work for me, so I developed a weird technique where I write an “interview” with my character. Sometimes I’ll conduct the interview myself, but I’m just as likely to pretend to be Mark Twain or some other persona. I use the interview method to develop backstory and flesh out a character’s personality.

You can really get a stream-of-consciousness thing going. It’s not as dry and one-dimensional as the checklist method, and a lot more dynamic—and fun, because you’re basically creating another story.

On the other hand, I don’t work enough on developing secondary characters. Maybe a quick sketch, and flesh them out in the re-writes.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: That’s a good question, and one I need to think about more now that I’m trying to market this thing. I write the kind of story that I want to read, so maybe folks like me? I’ve done a little research, and most horror readers are young males or middle aged males, I believe. But I’ve been known to mix genres, so I’ll have to study on it.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: I think anybody who gets the writing bug was first infected by the reading germ. My dad loved books and a good story, and he turned me on to reading at an early age. He loved Edgar Rice Burroughs, Zane Grey, Luke Short, and a host of other writers. He had all the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars books, and some really old dime paperbacks from before WWII, and I read most of them as a boy, and they all influenced me.

I never tried writing, though, till I was an adult. I played around with short stories some, finished a few, accumulated some rejections, and started a novel, which has been a work in progress for more years than I want to think about. But it’s almost finished (about draft 5, I think), and I hope to have it on Kindle soon. It’s called Seed, and you can preview the first 2 chapters on my website at www.dragonlyre.com.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: First, an idea—and where they come from sometimes I don’t even know. “Equinox” (the lead story in my book), came to me pretty much full-blown; the idea for “The Last Angel” came from an exercise I did, kind of a doodling thing on the word processor where I gave myself an hour to write snippets of stories as they popped into my mind. Wound up with about 12 short paragraphs, some of them really outlandish.

I filed that exercise away and when I needed an idea a few years later, I came back to it. And the seed that sprouted into “The Last Angel” was in there.

From there it’s just a matter of gestation, of fantasizing and letting the sub-conscious stew a bit while the story develops. At some point I’ll start doing research, and using what I dig up to flesh out and mold the story. I may write an outline, but sometimes not. I wrote an extensive outline for Seed, but it’s an epic novel. I did one for “The Last Angel,” but not for the other short stories in the anthology.

Then it’s write and rewrite till it feels right. And I’ll file it away for a bit, come back to it later. You’d be surprised what jumps out at you when you re-read your story after a month or so.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: Edgar Rice Burroughs, of course. A co-worker gave me a dog-eared copy of The Key-lock Man, by Louis L’Amour, and I was hooked. I’ve read all of his, and have them all. He’s my huge western influence. On the horror side there’s Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry. Thrillers and suspense—John Sandford; Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; Randy Wayne White; C.J. Box. Adventure—Ken Follett; James Rollins; Clive Cussler. And I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Classics—Mark Twain.

These are my writing heroes. The plateau they’ve reached may elude me, but they give me something to aspire to.

One thing that impressed me was the big-name authors who graciously responded to emails I sent them asking questions. Jonathan Maberry was one, Lincoln Child another. Both answered promptly, were down to earth and helpful. I think many name writers would do the same.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: Ken Follett’s World Without End.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: So far, I haven’t done much. If I’d known better, I’d have started marketing months before the release of the book. I’ve been working on a web site, and on a social media presence through Twitter and Facebook. Sent emails to all my friends and family with a discount coupon to buy the book from Smashwords.

I’m looking at getting a print run of bookmarks with my book cover shown along with some info about the book. I’d use these as inserts in correspondence, or giveaways. I’ll have to think on it—my marketing budget is basically zero.

I just picked up John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, and I’m trying to pan the gold from that. Plus I’m researching ebook marketing on the Web, and collecting url’s from blogs, forums, and sites that might review the book.

There’s a lot to do, and it can be overwhelming at times. Once all the research is done, I’ll set up a marketing calendar and approach it a little every day.

Hopefully, word-of-mouth will kick in. Knock on wood…

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: The majority of ebooks are sold on Amazon, I believe. And their pricing structure makes it even more appealing. Getting the hang of formatting can be a pain, but once you’ve got it down, subsequent books should be a piece of cake.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

RICHARD S. FREELAND: Start marketing your book well before your release date. Then study everything you can about how to format your manuscript for the Kindle.

Amazon’s instructions can be confusing. I found better instructions from various sites on the internet, and from the ebook How to Publish an Ebook on a Budget, by Stephanie Zia.

Best thing to do is just jump into it. I formatted Equinox: Six Declinations for Kindle and Smashwords (which use similar but different processes) in under two days, starting from knowing nothing to the finished process, including several botched attempts. But if you don’t want to fool with it, there are folks out there who’ll do it for you for a fee.

Once you upload to Amazon, it takes about a week for your book to be set up for placement on the Kindle Store. Be patient—and keep on marketing.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard S. Freeland is a licensed landscape architect, a garden writer, a fair singer/songwriter, and a family man. He loves to travel and hike with his wife Martha, play a little tennis when his bum knees let him, make and sip a great margarita, play on the water with boats, and go on adventures with his two boys.

Visit his website, find him on facebook, and follow him on twitter.



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