Sorry it’s been a bit since my last post, folks. It’s been five kinds of crazy at my house with the holidays, an upcoming birthday, and a pending book release. BUT, I’ve got fellow author and Stephen King fan, David Beers to keep you company until next week. David is a coffee fanatic, a dog lover, and well, you’ll just have to read more, including his advice to aspiring indies, and a bit about his writing process.
David is also the author of the thriller, DEAD RELIGION.
What’s the book about? Here’s the blurb:
A psychological thriller unlike anything you’ve ever read.
A hotel explodes in Mexico City, killing thousands.
All evidence points to one American citizen, Alex Valdez.
The FBI wants him, or at the least, to understand what happened in Mexico before the government down there can.
Agent James Allison travels to Mexico to find Valdez, or find out about him.
What he can’t know, what the FBI doesn’t understand, is Valdez’s past.
Alex Valdez’s parents gave him a blood-rite to unleash an ancient Aztec ‘God’–this rite led a small boy to a haunted man. One that doesn’t know whether this ‘God’ exists, and if It does, is It a demon? A man that cannot tell reality from dreams with a wife who has seen her husband commit atrocities to his own body.
Dead Religion follows both Alex Valdez in the last days before the hotel’s collapse and James Allison as he searches for the truth behind the fall. Valdez believes he knows how to stop the Demon, and James only understands he wants to make it home alive to see his brother.
In a world where miracles and Gods have been pushed to a past age, Dead Religion walks the fine line between insanity and reality, in which Agent Allison must uncover the facts of the terrific loss of life in Mexico City before the same torments find their way into his own life.
I used to deliver pizza. I was pretty good at it, too. I mean, it’s not that hard, but if I’m not going to brag, who is, right? Anyways, so I’m delivering pizza while I’m in college, and my boss has been in the pizza industry like six years. He’s supposed to graduate from college this year, and I ask him, what are you going to do after college? We’re all supposed to go out and conquer the world right after college, so this guy has to have some kind of plan.
He looked at me like I was delusional.
“I’m a writer, man.”
Those four words changed my life more so than anything else ever spoken to me.
I’d always written, since I was twelve participating in online-wrestling forums in which you acted out your character. I wrote because it came naturally. Never once, in the entirety of my nineteen years did I think that writing could be a career though, until a Pizza Sage said those four words to me.
So what did I do? I went home and wrote a short story and immediately understood that I was the greatest writer to ever touch a keyboard. I brought it to the Pizza Sage and he told me what anyone could have told me–it was horrible. I might be dumb, probably am, but I’m also tenacious.
I spent the next seven years writing almost every day. My first novel grew to the length of 40,000 words, then I threw it away. My second novel grew to 140,000 words. I didn’t throw it away, but it was rejected about 50 times by agents. My next novel ended up at around 55,000 words, which I showed to a few friends and shelved. Then I wrote Dead Religion, which is the only reason I have an author page at Amazon.
I have had four short stories published, paid and unpaid. ‘Effects May Vary’ won an award that was voted on by readers, which was pretty cool.
I’m currently getting my Masters in Business at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business. I’m doing this in order to not deliver pizzas but still keep the lights on. I have a girlfriend who will soon be my fiancé, and after ten years, I imagine she’s ready for that title.
When did you decide to become an indie author?
People say patience is a virtue. I’m not sure that’s true. I might be one of the most impatient people I know—and I think that led me to going independent. I started reading about Hocking and Konrath, and thought, hell, I can do that. I had sent out my first novel to fifty-something agents, and received nothing but rejection slips back. I never looked at that as a reflection of my worth as a writer, and I didn’t want to wait on the publishing industry to get my books out to my fans, so I decided on my fourth novel that I was going to publish this no matter what.
Any advice to new indie authors?
First, learn how to write. I wrote three novels and countless short stories before I decided I was ready to really be paid for what I was doing. I’ve had a lot of feedback on Dead Religion, but none of it has been—this guy can’t write a lick. That doesn’t mean all the feedback is positive, but at least I know the words are strung together in the right way. Don’t rush to publication, rush to perfection of the craft. I literally time every hour I write and have an excel spreadsheet that tracks how many hours I’ve put in. My goal: 10,000 hours.
Second, learn how to market long before you put your book out. This is where I went wrong. I thought, well, I read Amanda Hocking’s post on how she did, so I should be good to go—millionaire in no time. What a joke. I spend twenty minutes each day reading on the industry (not to mention the four books I’ve read on independent publishing marketing—and the Masters in Business Administration I have in marketing) because I need to know what ideas others are having and what isn’t working. I then spend at least forty minutes each day contacting/conversing with people (fans, bloggers, authors, etc.) trying to get my name out there. Learn how to do this, learn how to talk to people, and know where the industry is heading so you can be there when that next big thing drops.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Music has influenced probably 80% of anything I’ve ever written.
I’ve heard Hotel California a hundred thousand times, at least. A couple years ago, the line you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave started sticking in my head. I got the idea of this guy who had experienced something horrible in a hotel as a child, and it had ruined his entire life. As an older man he had to go back to the hotel to face whatever was there.
I tried writing that novel, and it was absolutely horrible. I didn’t want to write another haunted hotel story—it’s been so many times and I, honestly, have nothing new to give to it. I deleted what I wrote and started over.
What came was Dead Religion, and if you read the book, there’s no doubt that line from The Eagles is strung throughout the underpinnings of the novel.
What do you think readers will appreciate most about your book?
I had a woman write me a letter after reading Dead Religion, and she said she would never have read the book if she knew how scary it was going to be. I know the book is scary, hell, I got chills writing it. What surprised me though was she said the characters made her cry, that she fell in love with them so. THAT’S WHAT I WANTED. I can terrify you, but I wanted my readers to feel for the characters so deeply that when the necessary evil happens to them, the reader cares deeply. That’s what I think people will appreciate, that by the end of this book, you’re connected with the people like you’ve known them your whole life.
Tell us a bit about your writing process.
God, I used to be such a horrible writer. I’m no Hemingway, but I’m a long way away from where I started. I attribute this to my long time editor and the process that I force myself to use now.
I used to type 2-4,000 words per day. I would slam through pages like a Wall Street trader in the 1980’s would a bag of cocaine. The problem was they were horrid. Like gag in your mouth bad. To make matters worse, I edited with as much attention to detail as an ape would. Things just didn’t work out well for my first three novels.
I had some luck with publishing short stories, but I attribute that to the low word count—it’s hard to mess up that bad when you’re only writing 2-3,000 words total.
So what I did was make myself slllllooowwww down. I now write each chapter, vomiting out words like I used to. Then I rewrite the whole chapter by hand, and then type that into the word processor. This isn’t enough though: that’s how bad my first draft is. I then print out the chapter, and edit it by hand, placing those edits back in. I do this for every chapter.
Then, when I’m finished with the novel, I read it aloud—putting in corrections where the word choice reads odd, etc.
It’s a long process, no doubt, but I know it makes for a much better book.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King is number one on this list. I’ve read 95% of his work (I have to stay away from Cujo—I can’t stand when bad things happen to animals), and he’s by far the best story teller I’ve ever come across.
Walter Isaacson: I read a lot of biographies. Isaacson does a great job of bringing life to his subjects, so that you feel you know them by the end of it.
Robert Pirsig: He’s only written two books, but Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is something everyone should read and take to heart.
George Martin: Before A Game of Thrones was crushing it on television, it was crushing it in hardback. Simply put, there is not another fantasy series that can compare to this one.
Ernest Hemingway: No explanation necessary.
Can you tell us a little about your next project?
I’m excited about this. I’ve written thirty thousand words, deleted them all and had to start over to make sure I get this thing right. It’s a lot more philosophical than Dead Religion was, but going to be plenty of horror and thrills in it too.
It takes place about fifteen years from now when world economies have collapsed. There’s struggle going on in the US for the eradication of a freedom movement, and in the midst of this, our ‘creators’ show up. An alien race with much different plans than either of the two groups struggling for control. At its core, the book is about control, why people want it, and what some will do stop get it and prevent it. To me, the subject is terrifying and my goal is to be able to take that terror and transfer it to the readers. It should be out sometime this summer/this fall.
And now for the non-bookish stuff:
Vanilla or chocolate?
Chocolate. ALL DAY.
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King
Cats or dogs?
Life time dog lover, but I’m being converted to cats slowly.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Mountains of coffee.
Early riser or dirty stay-up-all-nighter?
Either or. However, I’m either waking up at like 5 AM, or I’m staying up later than everyone else. I have to have some alone time one way or the other.
Not so secret fetish?
Besides my fetish of Stephen King? Nothing.
Food you like the most? The least?
I’m a fan of pizza.
I’m not a fan of oatmeal. At all.
Terminator 2. Don’t judge.
Book recommendation (other than your own, also give reason why you recommend the book):
George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The most phenominal series I’ve ever read. Martin is a genius who should be celebrated with statues in every city. READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T, BUY IT BEFORE MY BOOK. You’ll thank me later.
Favorite television show?
The Sopranos. I gotta thing for mobsters.
Word from the dictionary that gives you the giggles?
I don’t laugh. I’m the terminator.
Strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Non-sexually? Probably milk from a cow—just a weird concept if you ask me.
Most bizarre thing you’ve ever worn? Are there photos?
Woman’s bikini. Unfortunately, yes.
The thing that scares you the most?
Losing my grandparents. They raised me and life isn’t forever.
What weapon would you choose in the zombie apocalypse?
Some kind of high powered automatic weapon. Something that Rambo would use. Seems like that would be safest.
If you were a cartoon character, who would you be and why?
Easy. Wolverine. Can’t kill him, he has great one liners, and calls people ‘bub’ without looking like a moron.
What spell should have been invented at Hogwarts? (create your own spell)
Indie best seller spell.
What scares you?
Cruelty inside humans. I think we all struggle with this and some people succumb to it. I think that is where much of the fiction I write comes from.
Where to find out more about David and his book: