Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Jody Rawley

Today's interview is with science fiction author Jody Rawley. 

1.    When did you first start writing?
Maybe 30 years ago?

2.   What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid? 
Hard science fiction, right now, and I am self-published on Kindle.

3.   What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
I read non-fiction growing up (still do), and as I look back now for earliest examples of fiction, I remember I really liked The Three Investigators series.

4.  What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I outline extensively and puzzle out stories on a computer using various techniques. I use Dramatica, and a checklist. A start to finish process would be: read, read, stack notes, ask questions, ponder, make more notes, set it all aside and write very quickly (very badly), write to the end (often I write the end first), then begin the real work, the re-write.

5.   What's your editing process?
I have found the best plan is let the work sit until I forget it. I read it, make corrections, then let a friend read it. I have the computer read it back to me (text to speech). I let it sit longer, then ultimately the best technique is for me to read it aloud and sometimes record that. I have three excellent editing friends who approve every manuscript. Before publication I read it backwards to check for spelling then hire a commercial, “professional” editor (or two or three).

6.   Any favorite apps / software / technology for writing?
I use Word on a MacBook Pro.

7.  Any favorite apps / software / websites for marketing and promotion?
No apps or software. I tried several marketing approaches. The best is the publication site.

8.   What did you find most / least useful in learning to write?
-most helpful was my scientific, academic approach, which involves much reading, combined with experience gained through trying,
- least helpful was random criticism, which I actively sought, naively believing every readers’ advice was valuable. It took me years to realize not all advice should be followed.

9.  Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
Usually a question. I wonder if something is possible and I research.

10.  When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
I’ve only this year begun anything like a routine. For many months now I’ve been writing more or less 9 to 5 with most of my time going to research.

11. Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Any specific rituals?
I “throw down” the entire manuscript then “polish” that into a first draft. I go over that with a checklist that consists of two, three-ring binders of pages torn form magazines, articles, notes on advice, and typed highlights from how-to-write books. I seek readers at that stage.

12. Where do you feel most inspired to write?
I am almost afraid to confess this, but, when I am driving (I use a voice recorder). Don’t try it.

13.  Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
I used to jot notes or write pages wherever I happened to be. I wrote two books standing (I hope to get back to that). Right now I have a small desk by a kitchen, a chair in a living room, and a backyard deck, which I like best but heat, rain, and mosquitoes chase me indoors. For a serious edit I like to visit someplace new.

14. Do you listen to music while you write?
Music distracts me.

15.  Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
My struggle is juggling too many ideas. I don’t remember having writer’s block. I get lazy though, especially re-writing and editing.

16. Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
Before I wrote I had (I think), about 35 minimum-wage-or-under jobs. Experience must surely have influenced, maybe helped my writing in some way, but I only miss a couple of them, photographer, videographer, and independent film. My “real,” (salary), full-time jobs (broadcast master control and pharmacy technician), most definitely hindered my writing (stopped me for years at a time).

17.  How do you make the time to write?
Years ago it was done in the gaps, waiting in line, commutes, evenings, now that my schedule is my own, the trick is to escape the demands of friends and family who say, “Jody doesn’t have anything to do, he can run that errand.”

18. How much research do you do? What kind?
Research is mostly what I do. In the book I am writing now I can spend days or weeks researching to write a page. Books, periodicals, newspapers, travel, interviews, e-mails, have all been necessary, but more and more (and more), I’m online. Google Earth is a huge help.

19.  How much marketing do you do? Which platforms are you most active on? 
I am not on any social media unless you count Goodreads and I am not very active there. I started out “big,” buying promotion, buying ads, and pouring money into AdWords, then I systematically tracked investments. Nothing broke even (AdWords lost the most money). Back in 2002 when I sold print copies of my first book, personal sales at bookstores sold 10 copies per day. I liked that. I read about other writer’s experiences with social media sales and though some enjoy it and some find success, the process seems too time consuming for me.

20.  What's the most fun aspect of marketing? The most challenging?
Definitely the most fun was personal sales. Authors hate signings because so many customers want to talk about their own writing (usually memoirs or poetry). I loved meeting people and hearing about what they were writing. The most challenging aspect of marketing is finding readers in this culture where so few people read.

21.   What project are you working on now?
A Civil War novel titled, Blue, Gray, Green.

22.   What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?
From pure curiosity I used to like everything. Everything now though is research oriented so I am partway through a few 19th century histories. For fiction: when my current novel swerved into Western territory I stacked a dozen classic Westerns to see what that genre was all about. To my surprise it appears to be about romance, a genre I don’t usually read. A few minutes ago a friend sent me a link to a romance novel by Angela Quarles (pen name). It’s a steampunk work with the greatest steampunk title I’ve ever seen – I’ll have to read that.


Jody Rawley publishes on Kindle. He writes in Richmond,
and various places in Virginia, in Florida, and during extensive visits in NC, SC, and GA. He studied political science (for 4 years), and British literature, and holds degrees in philosophy, communications, and theology.

Shackleton Crater

In the fourteenth year of a new century, the fate of an embattled earth is in the hands of men marooned at the
South Pole… in Shackleton Crater. If you think this is a one-hundredth anniversary retelling of the famous 1914 British expedition to Antarctica you are correct. If you think you already know how this story goes and how it ends you are off by a quarter of a million miles.

Originally published in A Slaughter Of Ornithes, Shackleton Crater has been re-released as a stand-alone e-book.

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