- Guest Author -
Today I feature a novelist from Crane Hill, Alabama, USA - James M. Copeland. Welcome, James ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I wrote poetry until everyone around me gagged! The funny thing about it was…I was the only one who knew what the pieces meant. This was before I learned that you should make yourself clear as to what you’re writing. I still enjoyed my poetry. I have been published in 4 books along with all the other people who had more money than they had brains. I did put a collection of my good ones into a leather bound book which I did myself and gave to some of my friends, and my mom of course!
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
All of the above took place in the year 1990. I did purchase my first computer then with the intention of writing a full length manuscript. It took me four days to turn the darn thing on!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
There is a self-satisfaction in completing something that is accepted by someone else. I now have 4 fiction, mysteries published and are available at Barns and Noble, Create Space and Amazon.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Getting your work accepted by the media after it is completed. I have had at least 400 rejection letters, but I’m still trying. I have at least ten out there right now. I have five more mystery novels that create a series. The first two are out there, I’m waiting for acceptance for the last five.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I’ve been a vacuum cleaner salesman, a sewing machine salesman, and a meat market cutting room manager in my youth. I can fly a helicopter, and a fixed wing aircraft. I have license for the latter. Then I became serious and took a position with a national food service organization and went on into management with them for a twenty year career. After that I changed over from food to restaurant equipment. I managed a sales force for 9 years, then, opened my own store in Branson, Missouri for ten years. I sold that business and moved to Smith Lake in Alabama where I built a house. I have been writing every day since.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I would have to say my first published book, called Bottom Bones.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I have two books going, one, Blindsided, and the other The Vessel. Both are near finished.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My surroundings! I have a panoramic view of the lake right out my office window. I can see the convergence of three different creeks. The water in front of me is over 200 feet deep and a great fishing location. The other thing that generates all these manuscripts is the multiple factors of my life. The things I names before about my employment have kept me going. There is history in everything I’ve done. I have already published one book about the caves that I worked in for 5 years. It’s called Death…Underground! I lived it. I wrote another manuscript about the world of helicopters and war called, Avenging Cycles. No ones picked up on it yet. The main character is all over Iran, Israel, and Vietnam teaching others to fly helicopters.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Mostly mystery’s, I will have to say there is a hint of romance in them. At least in the next to last one published there’s romance and is titled Emmy Lou Emerald. It is about a young Jewish girl who loves the jewelry business and specifically diamonds. She becomes a gemologist, gets invited to visit a diamond mine and while there she falls in love with the owners son. Then the whole family is murdered and she inherits the mine.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Yes! Don’t give up! Tell yourself every time you sit down to write that your are going to do great things and even if it takes a great deal of time, you’re not going to give up…because some of it is good!
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
No! I suffer because of not having enough time to write. There are only so many hours in the day and I like using all of them.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
My schedule is from 8 am till noon, then lunch and a short break then, back to writing. 5 O’clock is my deadline.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
For sure, my office, my desk and computer.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Completing a story.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I would have to say, Michael Connelly. My style is most like his and I love to read his mysteries. I have met him and buy every book of his that I can.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
“I bought your book and I enjoyed reading it. When is the next one coming out?”
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I gave them an autographed copy and they never read it.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Most assuredly, I kept a journal for those years I was a manager. Every sale’s rep I coached had something to say or do that was exciting, or at least entertaining. I kept the action in my notes, then, used it to satisfy my needs as a novelist.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
My wife! Along with other things, I enjoy visiting with good friends, carrying on a conversation that is enlightening for each of us. I also love to work with my hands. Just yesterday and today I recovered the runners on my two boat trailers. I have a pontoon and a fishing boat, boat house on the water but sometimes they have to be taken out of the water and cleaned up. I almost finished the job of carpeting the runners today. All the runners on the pontoon trailer had to be replaced with new wood. That was a chore and fun to see the results.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I have tried to have them edited, but people just don’t want to cooperate. They want to correct my voice, which may not fit the grammar they grew up with. People talk different and I let them in my novels. My wife is an English major and does real well with the comas etc. I generally go over my work at least ten times, sometimes more. After I’m completely finished with all the corrections I print the manuscript and sit by myself and read the book out loud to myself. Amazing how many problems I can correct that way.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
I sleep well, rise early, say around 6 have coffee and fruit with my wife and discuss any and everything under the sun. Sometimes we hash and re-hash one of the books I’m writing or re-writing and she gives me ideas on how to make the changes. Then we have breakfast, here, or go somewhere. We then start our day, me writing, or working on a project such as I mentioned before. It’s bath time, then dinner and a good movie and to bed for a couple of chapters of a good book.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My wife! We enjoy one another’s company!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
You don’t want me to go there!!!!!
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
We have our house up for sale, we have already purchased a new 38 ft RV and we are going to travel, go to book signings, conferences and have a high ole time.
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
There is no way I could answer that!
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Yes I do, however, I would never tell anyone who I was. I also use my escapades of yore in some of my novels.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes, of course, but I think I understand it. If you haven’t cleaned up your work, learned your craft why would you expect anyone else to want to see it?
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I think I enjoyed the beginning of my character Detective Frank Hawthorn. He is a wealth of activity. I see at least ten or twelve more messes he can get into and out of. He’s really a great guy. You will have to get to know him.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
The self-satisfaction of knowing that my work is good. Time will prove it to be, as long as I keep honing my craft.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
They should know the characters, their up’s and down’s, their quirks, their great traits and the not so good ones. Everyone has some kind of hang-up they would rather not tell about. My characters do, but the information is always followed with something good about them that overshadow the hang-up.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
LOT & LOTS! There is never too much thought for that very important function. It’s the story that’s going to tell the potential reader what’s inside. The blurb helps, but the cover in its entirety will tell the story that opens the first page. Then…your craft had better do it’s thing or they will lay it back on the shelf.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
For my work to be accepted and approved!
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I have thoughts that make their presence known everyday. I have been studying the marketing concept for 8 years and I do see the possibilities coming before me. One thing I might say about that is you have to take advantage of elements of value as they come before you. The ole saying, “Good fortune only knocks once.” I think you need to be prepared to answer that knock, do something about what ever it is that knocks. Study the effects of what you will do and make a decision. If you don’t do something, how can you succeed?
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Clancy's comment: Thanks, James. Keep at it.