Today begins an exciting *virtual* journey with this awesome organization called RWISA, a division of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. During this journey, we will be visiting nineteen blogs over the course of six days. Get ready cause we’re gonna be busy!!!
I hope you’ll join us on this exciting blog hop, celebrating some incredible authors and their books.
For my day of the tour, I have the pleasure of shining the light on Author, Jeff Haws. Today, we get to know the man behind the name and the writer behind the book. Enjoy…
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing in one form or another for the better part of 20 years. Most of that was short-form writing through journalism, though. I’ve been writing fiction for about a year, not counting the terrible short story I wrote when I was 17.
How many books have you authored? Please give us up to 3 titles?
I’ve published one novel (“Killing the Immortals”) and one novella (“Tomorrow’s News Today”), with two short stories completed and set to be published this winter/spring. I just reached 80,000 words on my next novel, and I should have a draft completed within the next few weeks. If things go according to plan, I hope to have it published sometime in late summer.
Do you have a writing schedule?
Sort of. My main goal is to carve out about an hour every day in order to write about 1,000 words, though that can be challenging with a full-time job and a life to live. Still, I’m able to do it 95% of the time. It’s amazing how you can find time to do the things you love if you’re determined to do so. I feel like I’m at my best early in the morning, so that’s when I prefer to write, around 7 a.m. before my wife wakes up. But I write a lot in the evenings too, simply because it’s harder to find time in the mornings.
You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?
I hope it’s because I don’t suck at writing. Oh, you want something more specific? Well, I suspect being a sports writer for 20 years has taught me a lot about the way people talk, and the human condition, along with how to write stories that transport people to a particular place and time. I love the craft of writing, of flowing it from one paragraph to another, of finding that rhythm that carries the reader through a scene or a small vignette. Fiction and non-fiction aren’t all that different if performed in a way that respects the craft.
Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?
I don’t know a lot of lifelong sports journalists who have transitioned into dark, suspenseful fiction. Mike Lupica has written sports-related fiction. Mitch Albom has been very successful with more uplifting, somewhat sappy (in my most humble opinion) novels. But I can’t think of anyone who’s taken quite this same path to being an author in my genres. The unique aspect to sports writing is that it requires you to have the structure of news writing with the entertainment value of feature writing. You have to be able to talk to people and get them to talk to you; you have to understand their cadence and rhythms in order to weave their words into your story. All that informs my writing.
If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?
Dead or alive? George Orwell would be my first choice. I love his approach to a story, and the incredible influence he still has. Also, I like to write short fiction alongside my novels, and he had one of the most impactful short novels in American history with “Animal Farm.” If it has to be someone I could actually talk to, probably Hugh Howey. Terrific author who made the indie path – pretty much exactly what I’m doing now – work for him and has been really successful. It’d be interesting to talk to him about how to make that happen.
Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?
I don’t know that I’d necessarily die hard, going down with some proverbial indie ship along the way. But, as of today, I’ve yet to see a compelling business or creative argument for going through a publisher. It all seems to be, “You’re only a real author if you go through a publisher!” or something of the sort. That, of course, is nonsense.
As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Probably in much the same place I am now, finding time for writing whenever I can around my full-time job and the rest of my life. I’ll hopefully have 5-6 novels published, and will have compiled together a short story collection or two. Hopefully, I’ll be making somewhat steady income from those books by that time, and will have attracted a small but loyal following.
What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?
I guess Twitter has been the most effective for me because I’m most familiar with it, and it gives me the ability to really interact with readers and other authors on a personal/real-time basis.
Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?
Stan R. Mitchell. He’s also a former journalist, and he’s a former Marine who applies a lot of the lessons from both to his writing. He’s great at crafting a scene, and he’s one of the most determined individuals I’ve ever met. He’s written several books, and they’re all well received.
What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?
Commit to writing every day you possibly can, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. You’ll be glad you did.
Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?
It’s not for me, but I wouldn’t want to judge their process. Maybe they’re very successful and have a lot more time than I do. Maybe they have a team of editors who are able to work through their books quickly and efficiently. Maybe they’re obsessive writers who pour out 4,000-5,000 words per day, so they can complete a novel-length book every 3-4 weeks. Maybe they’re just a fountain of ideas, and most of them are really intriguing. So … maybe. Maybe not. I wouldn’t judge them harshly or proudly based purely upon how often they’re publishing.
If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?
I mean, I think the answer should obviously be no. Any piece of writing that has my name on it has the opportunity to kill my reputation. It might take 5, 10, 20 books to build a reputation for quality work that people enjoy reading, but it might take only 1 book to destroy that reputation. In order to have loyal readers, those readers have to be able to trust that, when they pick up a book with your name on it, they’ll have a book that you put everything into making the best you can. There’s really no downside to delaying in that situation. Readers might have some momentary disappointment but, in the end, they’ll respect your attention to quality and detail. And they’ll get a better book to read once you do put it out.
In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”
Compelling characters I can relate to. A story that earns its plot twists, and doesn’t force anything. A writer who gets out of the way, and lets his characters drive the narrative.
If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?
If that review is just placed up on Amazon or wherever, that’s tough, as I don’t think it’s a good idea to respond to reviews. That just sends you down a slippery path, and it can be easy to come across as defensive, which does nothing to help you. I’d think long and hard before responding to anyone there directly.
Assuming I wouldn’t respond directly, the first thing I’d do is a quick bit of research to see if this reviewer has credibility. If they review fairly regularly and seem to have a good eye for quality, I’d know it’s worth taking seriously. So the second thing I’d do is review my book again, and reach out to my beta readers to see if they’d be willing to run through another read of it. One of the advantages of being an indie author is you do have the opportunity to make edits and re-publish if you find issues that need to be resolved. It obviously won’t help you with already published hard copies, but people who have the Kindle version can download the updated version for free, and future printings will use the new file.
On the other hand, if it were just someone telling me there were issues via email or Twitter or whatever, I’d thank them and ask them to be specific. That would allow me to check out those specific instances and decide if I agreed with them or not. And, if so, I’d have the opportunity to correct it and upload the new version.
Why I write every day (and why it matters)
- Connection to the story
When I’m writing, I consider myself to be the only witness to this world that’s unspooling before me. It’s a privilege to be the one person with insight into these characters and their story; I get to be the conduit through which their story is told to the world. When I was writing sporadically, though, it felt like I was dipping in and out too infrequently, and had a difficult time understanding characters’ motivations, or having a feel for what they’d do in a particular situation. It felt more like I was driving the story than the story was driving me.
I’m working a regular 8:30-to-5-ish job while also trying to write novels that don’t suck. So if I’m going to write every day, that means carving out an hour even on the five nights a week I’m working most of the day. And I also have a wife who I’d like not to be a writing widow. Weekends are easy, but it takes discipline to make it happen all week. And that discipline is great to instill in yourself. The fact that I can do it and still look forward to the next writing session, still enjoy the process, shows that this is something I want to keep doing.
With any artistic endeavor, it’s important to have a bit of a routine that helps you settle in and feel comfortable with the process. Put together your writing space that you enjoy being in. Find a comfortable chair. Get a desk that has the look and feel you want. Put it somewhere where you can close the door to signal “This is writing time” both to yourself and whoever you might live with. It’s work. It’s creative and fun, but it’s work. Remember that.
I appreciate you stopping by today. Please help me support this fab author, as well as all the other authors we are celebrating this week.
Until next time…………Happy Reading & Reviewing!!