Red was cruising blogs in the Green Room one afternoon and had to stop to ask Michael Williams where he got his boots. It had been a while since she had had some time to just talk to him. She decided they had best sit down and discuss Snowed In and some of his interesting takes on the wide world of writing novels…and Muses.
M3: You have an interesting look at writing and your persona, so give M3 Readers the agent’s version of yourself.
MW: Michael Williams is an author, writer, editor, and web page designer who writes under the pen name MJ Logan. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering, programming and former remodeling company owner. “Until you get your hands dirty, you haven’t lived,” says Michael.
M3: Before we get our hands dirty, is there someone you would like to thank?
MW: I thank my wife Margaret for putting up with me and my writing and being tolerant when it was time to start a new career. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be making it as a writer/author right now. I also have to thank Miss Walniakowski who drummed prepositions, sentence structure and a bunch of other things into us way back in high school. It was also nice that she wore short skirts…
M3: Ah, but did she wear boots? Wait. Do not answer that. How about this instead? How did you break into publishing?
MW: I started writing non-fiction in 1989 or 1990. I submitted a white paper for an electronics industry trade magazine. When they surprised me by publishing it, I started to write other things and began submitting letters and articles to local newspapers. Many of which were published. I didn’t get paid for any of that, but it was fun. Later, when I started writing fiction I discovered a passion for words I could not have imagined existed.
M3: A true path of discovery. Any advice for those budding writers?
MW: Write until your fingers hurt. Then write some more. Keep writing. When the muse is working overtime, don’t let it go. When you can’t write, read. Accept criticism as a chance to improve your writing, not as a personal attack. If you don’t know what is wrong with your work, you’ll never get the chance to improve it. And every so often, take out those first works and read them to remember where you came from.
M3: Excellent advice. What do you have brewing at the moment?
MW: I have three books I am currently writing. One is a post-apocalypse future in which nearly all of mankind is destroyed. This has turned into a much bigger project than I expected. Currently it is huge and keeps getting bigger. I am also writing a fantasy romance with dragons and princesses and heroes and… Then another book about young girl who is attacked and struggles to find a normal life until Mr. Right comes along…
M3: Egad! That is a lot to have on your plate at once. How do you find the time?
MW: I write all day, every day. Someone recently asked me how I manage to put out 20,000 words a week and I told them―I just don’t stop writing. I write articles. I work on my novels. I write my blog posts. Then, I write for fun. I wrote the first draft of Snowed In in about seven hours on a Saturday. It started out at 7,500 words. You get an idea and just keep going until it is written.
M3: Dedication is the word which comes to mind. Or perhaps obsession. Do you ever go on hiatus?
MW: I don’t understand this? Do I stop writing? Yes. I go to bed every night, and that is my hiatus. I write on my vacations, on weekends and trips to visit my family. I keep writing because I have to. Sometimes I am obsessed by it. I wrote 1.4 million words in two months once. It cost me 30-40 pounds (not that it hurt me), and I worked at it 20-22 hours per day. It was awful, terrible and I’ll never let anyone read it. On occasion I get blocked, and sometimes that is frustrating, so I go on vacation and write.
M3: I think we should get you a Webster’s subscription, Mike. With uber-worker as your norm, has the economic state changed the industry?
MW: It has made it harder for a freelance writer to find work. However, I’ve been managing to keep busy. It has also created many people who need work and have turned to writing, but don’t know the difference between an adverb and an adjective. I think that makes it more difficult for everyone who makes freelance writing a career.
M3: The watering down of the soup, as it were. Do you have a bone to pick out of it with the industry?
MW: About the only thing I’d gripe about is how hard it is to get noticed by traditional print publishers. The whole process is mind numbing. Query letters. Literary agents. The waiting and waiting and not even knowing if your work is being read or dropped in a giant shredder without a glance. Until you attain the almost god-like status of someone like King, you could have the greatest book ever written and who will ever know or care?
M3: Which is the writer’s Catch 22. Especially because of it, do you think the industry views self-published material as inferior?
MW: Yes. How can they help not thinking that? I’d say about 25 percent of self-published material is absolute rubbish. Another 25 percent is okay, but needs someone to poke the writer in the chest and say, “You need a very good, very patient editor.” There’s another 25 percent that is quite good, somewhat polished and is actually worth more than the $1.99 or $2.99 you pay for it. Sitting on top of the heap is the stuff that ought to be hardcovers on bookstores shelves at 20 or 30 bucks a copy, and yet the author struggles to sell it at two or three dollars.
M3: I would have to agree with the mix. What are your feelings toward your colleagues?
MW: I network with such an eclectic bunch of people it is amazing. Some of them are just nuts. Others are very cool people. A few can be quite annoying. I keep meeting people from amazing places I didn’t know existed, like Tasmania. Tasmania? Really? Bloggers, crafters, writers, authors and people who created their own publishing company. I love my network and the people in it.
M3: Sounds like a virtual game of office! So, should the M3 Readers care at all about your day job?
MW: Writing is my day job. As Marg says, I’ve turned nothing into something. When the economy ruined my day job as a remodeling company owner, I had to do something. I lucked into a couple of writing gigs, sold some work and the next thing I knew I was writing full time. So yeah, I hope everyone cares that this is my day job.
M3: In that case, let’s talk about Snowed In. What makes it so close to your heart?
MW: In my mind, the characters are so real. I can hear Julie’s voice, and Jake’s accent is burned into my mind. Here’s the gentle giant thrust into the role of hero, and he does it magnificently while remaining human to the core. In the end, he wins Julie’s heart and that, I think, makes this story close to my heart because he does it right.
M3: That authenticity is what makes it so readable. Tell the M3 Readers what makes Snowed In different from all of the others on the shelf.
MW: You won’t find many stories where there male hero has to remove the girl’s clothes and does so with the most honorable intentions. In the end, he lives up to that ethic and I think that is hard to find these days. Romance has become erotica, and erotica has turned into porn. Snowed In gives readers something fresh without being puritanical. Jake’s a man with very real feelings, and I hope readers see that.
M3: I think truly they will. Let’s have some fun. Tell me a secret, which you know I will keep in the strictest confidence…
MW: <laugh> When I write, I have no idea how good whatever I am writing is. I need someone, anyone, even the dog, to tell me it’s good or it’s bad. I use “-ing” verbs in places should not, then have to rewrite. I had a crush on Miss Walniakowski when I was a Junior and it had nothing to do with diagramming sentences.
M3: Mum is the word. Pretend you are an ad agent. Give me a slogan of 15 words or less to give the M3 Readers. Convince them they must have a copy of Snowed In.
MW: Snowed In is an interesting read if you like truly human heroes with integrity.
Darling M3 Readers,
Please take a few moments to check out Michael Williams and his new title, Snowed In. Visit Mike’s website to read his blogs and learn more about the author and his book. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on Snowed In.
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