April 27, 2013

Interview with Stephen Brayton

Posted in Interviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:00 am by Christine Rice

Stephen BraytonStephen L. Brayton owns and operates Brayton’s Black Belt Academy in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He is a Fifth Degree Black Belt and certified instructor in The American Taekwondo Association.

He began writing as a child; his first short story concerned a true incident about his reactions to discipline. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was a photographer for the yearbook. For a Mass Media class, he wrote and edited a video project.

In college, he began a personal journal for a writing class; said journal is ongoing. He was also a reporter for the college newspaper.

During his early twenties, while working for a Kewanee, Illinois radio station, he wrote a fantasy-based story and a trilogy for a comic book.

He has written numerous short stories – both horror and mystery.

His first novel, Night Shadows (Feb. 2011), concerns a Des Moines homicide investigator teaming up with a federal agent to battle creatures from another dimension. His second book, Beta (Oct. 2011), was the debut of Mallory Petersen and her search for a kidnapped girl. In August 2012, the second Mallory Petersen book, Alpha, was published. This time she investigates the murder of her boyfriend.

Christine: How long have you been a writer?

Stephen: Well, I can’t claim I was a writer right from the womb, but soon afterward. ‘Soon’ being a relative term, of course. I loved books from an early age, and one day I thought that with all of the books I’d read, mysteries and science fiction and horror, I’d like try my hand at writing some stories. I created a character called Sam P. Petersen who lived in the Quad Cities (where I spent my early years) and worked for the East Moline Police Department. I wrote short stories featuring him. Those were my first attempts at short story writing and character profiling. From the time I started talking about writing, my parents encouraged me to continue creating stories. I wrote during college and became serious in the late-90s.

Christine: What have you published recently?

Stephen: Well, my last book, Alpha, was published in August of 2012, but my most recent publication has been the first part of a serialized short story called “White Belt Weapons” in Taekwondo Times magazine. The March issue published an interview with me as a ‘Person of Interest,’ and the May issue began what I hope to be a long-term relationship with them on short stories.

Christine: Are you solely a writer or do you have multiple occupations?

Stephen: I’m a Fifth Degree Black Belt and own and operate a taekwondo club in Oskaloosa; plus, I have a full-time job. I have to find time to write during the slow hours or days off.

Christine: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?

Stephen: Depends on the day. My schedule is never the same from week to week. I could work weekends or nine nights in a row. Usually, I’m on the graveyard shift from 11-7; sleep until the middle of the afternoon; class on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; back to work at 11. During the night, I have plenty of time to write. On days off or afternoons, I may head outside to write or fish or visit family. I wish I could tell you I was an international spy in a different locale every day… At least the travel part sounds fun.

Christine: What is the title of your most recently published novel and a description of it?

AlphaStephen: Alpha is about Mallory Petersen, a Fourth Degree Black Belt in taekwondo and private investigator in Des Moines, Iowa. Usually her cases involve the oddballs of society, but every now and then she takes on a serious investigation. In this book, she’s relating a story to her current boyfriend about her involvement in the investigation of the murder of her previous boyfriend. Along with that case, she’s also searching for a missing woman.

Christine: What are your favorite characters that you have created? Tell us about them.

Stephen: Of course I’m in love with Mallory. Six feet tall, blonde, blue eyes, drop dead gorgeous, excellent martial artist and instructor, strong, independent, quirky sense of humor, and a romantic.

I know an author is supposed to know almost everything about all the characters, but I’m still discovering things about Mallory’s office manager Darren. Currently, he doesn’t have a last name. That issue will be solved in the next book. He’s enigmatic, quiet, loyal, and always seems to know where Mallory is and what she’s doing. This drives her crazy sometimes.

Christine: Where can we find your novels?

Stephen: Alphawww.amazon.com/Alpha-Stephen-L-Brayton/dp/1610091159
Beta (Mallory’s introduction. Ebook only) – www.amazon.com/Beta-Mallory-Petersen-Mystery-ebook/dp/B005UHEWPC
Night Shadows (eBook only) – www.amazon.com/Night-Shadows-ebook/dp/B004O0VD1M

Christine: Who are your favorite authors?

Stephen: Ellery Queen – I think I’ve read almost every one of his mysteries.
Erle Stanley Garnder – Ditto.
H. P. Lovecraft – The master.
Clark A. Smith – A close second to Lovecraft.
Elaine Viets – She helps inspire my humorous creativity.
Sparkle Abbey – Who doesn’t like dog and cat mysteries?
Robert Pobi – A true genius with words.
Frank Kane, Carter Brown, Day Keene, (and others in the same genre) – Pulp fiction mysteries. I really enjoy the flavor of these stories.

Christine: Where can we find you on the Web?

Stephen: Website – www.stephenbrayton.com
Blog – www.stephenbrayton.wordpress.com
Book Review Blog – www.braytonsbookbuzz.wordpress.com
I’m also on Facebook and Twitter (@SLBrayton).

January 7, 2013

Books Update

Posted in Books, Editing, Personal, Publishing, Reading, Self-Publishing, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:20 pm by Christine Rice

Hello everyone,

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting mostly reviews and interviews for the past couple of months. And you are right. Since mid-October I haven’t posted about my books, namely my works-in-progress. Back in early September, I pretty much stopped writing in my works-in-progress due to publishing one of them (Freelance Writing Guide) and having a blog tour. I have no regrets, of course, because I was ecstatic about publishing a book I had been working on for eight months, and the blog tour was an absolutely great experience.

During the blog tour, I got my first client project in which I edited and formatted a novel. In case you didn’t know, I wear a few different hats in the publishing industry, including freelance writing, editing, and formatting in addition to being an author. A part of my freelance writing business is writing book reviews, which I post here for you all. Additionally, many of the books I review are free kindle books, so I hope I have helped you choose some great reads for cheap.

Shortly after my first client, I got another client, and many more, and I’ve been doing client projects ever since. My time is spent on client projects, reading and reviewing, blogging, networking, and also my health. In addition to being a writer, I am a health-conscious person, because I know without my health, I am nothing. So I work on being healthy, and becoming healthier, each day, in addition to my career.

I haven’t resumed working on my works-in-progress, besides updating Freedom from Fat with posts from my health blog, but I am 100% interested in finishing my works-in-progress and plan to do so in the future. I just cannot promise when that will be. Right now my interests lie in my health and growing my freelance business, and since I move through life naturally based on how it flows, I go with the flow.

I am certain that someday I will return to my works-in-progress, because I love writing and publishing books. It makes me so happy to get my thoughts and experiences in a permanent state that can be enjoyed for years to come. For now, I will go with the flow, and I will resume working on my works-in-progress once the flow returns to that part of my life.

I just wanted to reassure you all that I will be publishing the books I was working on, and I will keep posting on this blog.

Thanks for your kindness and support,

Christine

December 23, 2012

Review of “Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success”

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:28 pm by Christine Rice

Secrets to Ebook Publishing SuccessSecrets to Ebook Publishing Success by Mark Coker is a thorough self-help manual about how to succeed as an ebook author. It is a good book for a soon-to-be-published author, but it is also helpful for an author who has already published a book, or several books for that matter.

This book covers a lot of information, which is pleasing since it is free. You usually can’t go wrong with free, and this book is no exception. It emphasizes the importance of writing a well-written and edited book with a great title and cover design. It talks about the value of connecting well with your readers, distributing your ebook to as many online retailers as you can, giving your book away for free, developing your author platform, maximizing “virality,” and studying bestsellers in your genre. It covers the most popular cycles or trends of ebook sales, how to deal with negative reviews, and how to set an appropriate ebook price. It goes into adequate detail about twenty-eight “secrets” to having a successful ebook; plus, there are additional chapters of other helpful information.

I have published four ebooks myself, and even though I have heard of most of the tips Coker provides – because of my five years of publishing experience – it is a well-written book with lots of insights that would help aspiring authors, new authors, and authors who don’t have much experience with editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, and networking, and anyone who is looking to learn a new tip or two to improve their ebook’s sales.

To get your own free ebook copy of Mark Coker’s Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, check out the following links at Amazon and Smashwords. Cheers to being a successful author!

July 31, 2012

The Month of July

Posted in Books, Editing, Publishing, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:35 pm by Christine Rice

Recap time! July was an excellent month for me, especially with working on my manuscripts. I edited a whole book (Freelance Writing Guide), wrote 15,800 words in Chronicles of a Troubled Girl, and wrote 2,700 words in Freedom from Fat. On top of that, I published 22 blog posts (between my two blogs), was interviewed by a book cover designer, edited two of my colleague’s articles, published five book reviews, participated in a Goodreads Giveaway and mailed out two copies of My Not-So-Ordinary Life to two winners, read four books, and contributed to a writer’s blog post. I also got my very own, really nice office chair after working hard as a writer for over 14 months. I still felt – and feel – privileged to have this chair.

August is going to be really busy, I can already tell, because I plan to do the final edit of Freelance Writing Guide and publish it, which also means that I’ll be sending out copies to my blog tour participants. Organizing a blog tour is like communicating with 20+ colleagues through email – it’s quite fun and keeps me busy! I will also be reading and reviewing three books, and posting to my blogs to keep you all updated :), as well as my other daily duties.

I hope you will all have a good month and stick around to see what’s happening next!

July 1, 2012

A Busy Month – June 2012

Posted in Books, Publishing, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:04 am by Christine Rice

Since the beginning of the year, June was my busiest month. I went through a couple of months where my activity declined, but now it is in top speed. I’ve been reviewing books and networking a lot, but I’ve also been working on my manuscripts a lot too. And don’t forget about blog posts! This is what I accomplished last month:

  • Published 16 blog posts (between two blogs).
  • Published 10 book reviews.
  • Edited twice for a colleague.
  • Sold some books.
  • Completed the first draft of Freelance Writing Guide.
  • Unburied Freedom from Fat from 2010.
  • Wrote a total of 40,600 words in three manuscripts.

I am doing it all for my readers and for my pure enjoyment of writing. I hope you each find your passion and follow where it leads. Mine leads to happiness :)

March 16, 2012

Reflection and gratitude

Posted in Books, Personal, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:22 am by Christine Rice

I can tell it’s been a while since I’ve last written, when I don’t know what to say. I get involved in the actions of the day and forget what matters most – being grateful for what I have. It is important to reflect on what I do and what I feel, so that I can see the movement of my life and heart, rather than remain trapped in the whirlwind of activity. In other words, I have been busy, and have forgotten to stop and reflect and show gratitude for my readers.

Let’s reminisce since my last update…I had an event for my books on Smashwords last week, published a guest post on my friend’s blog this week, edited a friend’s article today, and in between it all I’ve been reading (200 pages) for an upcoming book review, and writing (5,000 words total) in my works-in-progress. Now that I’ve written it down, I can see I’ve been accomplishing, and progressing with my writing; but in the act of living, and the realization of the tasks I need to do to accomplish my goals, it is hard to see that I’m getting…anywhere!

I keep records and charts of everything, and even so, it seems like I’m not getting far. But I am. I can only do so much in one day. Today, for example, I read 25 pages for my upcoming book review, edited a friend’s article, got the shopping list and coupons ready for tomorrow, and cleaned the bathroom top to bottom. I also kept up with my published books, business records, and forum discussions, and messaged a good friend.

I want to let you know that I am grateful for all of you, and I would like to show it by publishing this post on reflection and gratitude.