Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Possibly one of the most awkward questions ever. I tend to be sarcastic and want to answer, “Tell us about yourself,” with a quote from Steve Martin’s “The Jerk,” “I grew up a poor black child.” It’s not true, but it’s funny, at least so I think.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is See. Spot. Run. A Playbook for Getting More Earned Media Faster. The inspiration for the book comes from all the communications professionals I’ve worked with and the clients we’ve served. It’s intended to demystify media relations and help people, at all levels, understand the art and science behind what communications professionals do to get those coveted interviews and cover stories. The playbook also provides easy to use templates that I hope with inspire creative thinking around communications, message development, and planning.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Unusual writing habits? Me? No. In truth, I do some pretty nutty things. I think one of the most unusual habits I have is how I transition my notes to the structure on the page. I go through painstaking efforts to outline what I want to discuss by hand, you have to get the right pen, then I start the process of writing. Well, what usually happens is I get so excited about an idea spurred on by the outline that I go off on a tangent and forget about the outline until I come to a point in the writing where suddenly things don’t make sense. These days I’ve started writing my free flow tangent ideas to the side so that I can follow a uniform structure and then add in the new bits of genius, as appropriate, once the outline items are complete.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
So many great authors, so many great books. I’m a bit of a classical fan if you can call it that when it comes to books. I have tremendous respect for Hemingway and his writing process. Fitzgerald remains my favorite because of his passion and ability to immerse you in a place and time. In the more modern era, I’m a huge fan of Val McDermid, The Wire in the Blood series is breathtaking. I’m reading a book on the history of ethnic cleansing in America by a wonderful writer Patrick Phillips. What I am enjoying about his work is his keen ability to wrap a compelling story around historical facts that make you just want to keep turning the pages on a topic that is pretty gruesome.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a couple of screenplays. One of them, Corked, is about a woman who loses everything and is forced to move to Texas and restore a winery to save her inheritance. It’s funny. The other is a more serious topic focusing on an African American woman stranded in a sundown town who is forced to fight her way to freedom.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
This is a great question. There are so many sites out there promising to promote your book and deliver book sales. I don’t know that there is any single answer. I think it comes down to the time you invest in whatever site you choose and your own efforts to spread the word about your work and why it is of value to readers.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Keep writing. Keep revising. Don’t be afraid of the harsh criticism. If people take the time to criticize your work you must be on to something.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t take it personally, this is a business. For someone who is pouring their heart and soul into everything they create and expecting people to love it, you do tend to take the rejection, criticism and “we’ve decided to pass,” comments personally. At the end of the day an agent I worked with made it clear, “Don’t take it personally, this is a business, I have to be able to sell what you produce and right now, they aren’t buy’n.”
What are you reading now?
Right now I have three or four books going. I’m most focused on Blood at the Root, the Patrick Phillips book and a fun one that I bought for my niece, but tickled me so much when I read it that I decided to keep it called Tweets from Jesus.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Writing is hard! I’m working on the two scripts, I also have feedback I haven’t quite dug into on a novel. My editor didn’t love it and I’m a little embarrassed by how bad it really is, so I need to get over that, open it up and dig back in. I’m also looking at how I can expand on some of the concepts in See. Spot. Run. areas where I can go into greater detail and provide more useful tools for communicators. Perhaps a section on communications during mergers and acquisitions due to all the ongoing consolidation in the marketplace.
What is your favorite book of all time?
The Great Gatsby!
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