How do you develop your plots and your characters?
I've been a seat of my pants sort of writer since I started. It starts with a kernel of an idea and I write that bit. Once I have it down, it tends to grow and other idea emerge.
If they don't, I'll start to ask "what if?" and see where that takes me. One of my favorite things to do to entice the muses is driving. Thirty minutes to an hour, especially later in the evening towards sundown, will often let me find the answer to the ultimate question, "What's next?"
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I don't have critique partners, per se, but since I write most of my novels as serials on my blog, my readers are pretty good at critiquing the stories as they are being created.
Over the last couple of years I've made friends with some bloggers and a few of my more loyal readers. They often volunteer to be beta readers. It is an important step in the process and they always make some good observations.
Who is your favorite author?
I would have to say, more than anyone, Elmore Leonard. I've read fourteen of his forty-four novels and learned something from each one.
Stephen King writes about the importance of reading for authors in On Writing, and I didn't fully understand what he meant until I started to read Leonard. There were times when the dialogue stopped me dead in my tracks.
It wasn't what they said, but how the characters interacted. I learned that sometimes it is a good idea for one character to ask a question and the other to answer something entirely different. It is how we talk. Sometimes two people know each other well enough to dig beneath the surface of what is said and get at what is meant. That was huge for me.
When in the day/night do you write?
As a rule I tend to write everyday from around eight in the evening until ten. I've been doing this since Jan 2010. I write every day and sometimes, just to get out of the house, I like to go to Iowa City and write at the Hamburg Inn No. 2, or one of the bars.
Writing in public is amazing for me. I have a blue tooth keyboard for my iPad and will sit down and start banging out story. It seems that the simple act of tuning out all the noise gets me into a zone where I can produce at an accelerated rate.
A typical day for me at home is 500 – 1500 words. If I'm writing in public, 3000 is not uncommon.
You might ask, "Why not do it everyday?"
The simple answer to that is the cost of gas to drive the 60 mile round trip on a daily basis, not to mention food, ect., makes it beyond my means at present. When the day comes that I'm a little better off financially, then I will do just that.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
I'm constantly surprised by the way ideas come to me while I'm in the act of writing. I know a lot of writers methodically plan out their books and then write to the outline. Admittedly, I did some planning for the start of one book and it worked great, but that isn't how I usually do it. The point is, I'm often surprised by thoughts that occur as a character is coming alive on the page.
She might start out as a feisty Asian woman with a checkered past in law enforcement and then I see a glimpse into her softer side, or that she has a sense of humor, or who knows what, but it is always an aspect I love about the character that shows up unexpected.
What book are you reading now?
I like to give indie authors a chance and start dozens of books per week, hoping to find one that is readable. I have an online friend who is wonderful and I gave their book a try earlier today. The story seemed interesting and the writing was decent, but there was added information in every paragraph between parenthesis. This is okay two or three times in a novel, but the frequency was so annoying I stopped.
Most indie writers leave me cold with their style, the editing (or lack thereof), or their bland listing of events, but when I find one I love, I tell everyone.
Unicorn Western, by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truent, is one such book. It replays many of our favorite themes from the great Sergio Leone "Spaghetti Westerns". Their stories are chuck full of fantastic references, brilliant humor, and page turning intrigue that make me want the next installment long before it comes out.
The world of the indie author isn't that different than that of the traditional published author, the only difference is that nobody stops the indie from getting published if their work has problems. This isn't a bad thing.
I would say my second novel is better than my first, and each subsequent one had shown improvement. I do hire an excellent editor, which makes a huge difference, but that doesn't mean I won't accidentally include ch 41 twice in book 2.
Of course, that is the beauty of self-publishing, when a horrific mistake like that happens, I can fix it right away.
I love being an indie. I love telling people about indie's who tell a great story. And I love it that you gave me a chance to be on your blog. Thanks!
Jan 1, 1955
Henry Wood is suffering greatly from a festive night of saying goodbye to 1954. His world is one of black and white, right and wrong, but his life is about to change and there will forever be shades of grey. An average detective, with a passion for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Henry is about to be hired by a beautiful woman, to find her father and his journal. It seems simple enough, but when a second woman appears, wanting his services, to find the same journal, he suspects he might be in over his head. He’s right. They are the least of his problems. The local mafia boss, Tommy ‘The Knife’, wants the journal too. As long as it is missing, he is vulnerable, and the other bosses smell blood in the water.
Who can Henry trust? Henry has a mysterious benefactor that he has never met, but seems to have his best interest at heart. Will Henry take the help that is offered? Does he have a choice?
Perception will be released May 21st.
Time and Again will be FREE on Amazon May 21-23 in conjunction with the new release.
Brian D. Meeks is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Economics. He is the author of the Henry Wood Detective Series and has also written a book about the 1986-87 Iowa Hawkeyes Men's basketball team titled Two Decades and Counting: the Streak, the Wins, the Hawkeyes Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble."
He lives and writes in Eastern Iowa.