I was doing a little bit of internet surfing early one morning this past weekend, taking a stroll down memory lane of old bookmarks I had stockpiled over the year, all of them related to my writing journey so far. I came across one that elicited a bitter-sweet smile, then I thought to myself..."you should post this on your own blog." I haven't posted in a while and this would be a good way to illustrate the struggles inherent in the publishing industry. So, why not?
Back in 2012 I was scheduled to have my first piece of writing published by Open Heart Publishing. It was a short story entitled "Itinerary" and it was slotted to be included in the publishers 4th volume of shorts An Honest Lie by various writers. Unfortunately, Open Heart bit the dust before the book saw the light of day. However, ahead of the doomed book release one of its editors...Eric W. Trant...wrote an introduction piece about me that ran on Open Hearts blog, as well as his own. That piece is what I stumbled across this weekend, and what follows was lifted directly from Eric's 2012 post.
Maybe I'll get to do it again someday...for real. :)
Please say Hello to first-time Author DL Hammons! His debut short story, "Itinerary", will be published in Open Heart Publishing's An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables. He comes to us through, well, let me let him tell you how he found Open Heart Publishing.
Donna Hole [a blogging friend], who is one of the authors included in this anthology, had one of her stories included in a previous volume of An Honest Lie and when she was spreading the news about that book she suggested that [writers] who were looking for ways to get their writing out there, submit to Open Heart. I took her up on the suggestion and here I am.
Well, I for one am very happy you found us. Donna came through us the same way, via me, so there is definitely something to be said for networking as an upcoming author. Can you tell us about your blogs?
I've maintained a writers blog since 2009 and its addrress is: http://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com/
My Twitter account is: DL_H
I've held off establishing a Facebook Author page until I was actually published, so that is on the horizon shortly.
Outstanding. You have over a thousand followers on your blog, which is a lot of support from your online community. How about at home? Do your friends and family support your writing?
Everyone in my family, including my extended family, is totally behind all of my writing pursuits. I bounce plot idea's off my wife before I write word one, then she's my number one critique partner while I'm writing. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law, both avid readers, are next in line for critiques. The entire family has devoted long car rides taking turns reading my novel out loud to catch needed edits. I've developed and practiced my elevator pitch for hours with my daughter. My family is behind me 110%!
Wow. You're a lucky man to have so many devoted family members. Two questions: 1) Can you give us your elevator pitch for said novel? 2) What have you learned most about hearing someone else read your story aloud?
1) Elevator pitch: I like to compare my novel - FALLEN KNIGHT - to a hybrid between David Baldacci’s The Camel Club and a adult version of The Goonies. It revolves around small group of tight-knit friend’s quest to find the person responsible for beating one of their own into a coma. Teaming up with a female private investigator they are soon drawn into a murderous plan involving a copy-cat Columbine attack and a bio-terrorist threat targeting our nation’s capital. In over their heads they come to doubt themselves, their purpose, and most importantly, their safety, but there is one thing they will never doubt...each other.
2) Having someone else read your writing aloud to you really helps spot those area's that are clunky, needing more work to smooth out the flow. Even though you've gone over your manuscript a hundred times, they stick out like a sore thumb when read aloud. It's also great way to pick up on plot details that need more context.
Love the pitch for Fallen Knight! How about you personally? Tell us about how you grew up.
I was raised a military brat. Sandwiched between an older and younger brother with one other younger sister, both of our parents were in the Navy. Mom became stay-at-home when us kids started coming along, and we all found our own ways to deal with the constant moves and adapting to new environments that life in the military demands. Space was always an issue with military housing, but whenever the possibility arose I always had my own room because I kept my space the neatest. My wife now wonders whatever happened to that trait!
Sounds like you traveled quite a bit as a child. Where was your favorite place to live (as a child), and why?
This was a tough choice. We lived in Sheboygan Wisconsin to be near my Mom's family when my dad was in Vietnam, and I have very special memories from our time there. But I'm going to choose Havelock, North Carolina, for a couple reasons. First, we were stationed there for my entire four years of high school, so it has a special place in my heart. The second reason is that I just really loved the diversity of North Carolina. In thirty minutes and I could be laying on the beach catching rays, or a couple of hours in the other direction I could be hiking in the mountains.
Sounds like quite an adventurous and noble childhood. Let's talk about your writing style, now. Which is more important: That you make the reader see your viewpoint, or that you make the reader see theirs?
A combination of both. I hope that my writing elicits feelings within the reader that mirror the ones in me when I wrote it, but I'm constantly amazed at the depths some readers can see. The sub-conscious evels at play I wasn't even aware of when I write that their unique life experiences allow them access to.
That's an acute observation. I find that readers often see things in my writing that I never consciously intended. Part of being a writer is self-discovery. Which is more important: Writing without constraint, or within the confines of a publisher's guidelines?
They are equally important. We cannot grow as writers and improve our craft if we're constrained by whatever borders that exists. However, a publisher knows their market, their targeted readers, and what bodies of work will serve them best. Not staying within a publisher's guidelines is detrimental to them both, and ultimately the writer.
Well, I'll conclude on that remark -- which every writer should make note of -- and say THANK YOU to DL Hammons for taking the time to answer my questions. I have known him for quites some time in the blogosphere, and now through OHP. I know readers are as anxious as I am to read his debut story "Itinerary", in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables.
BIO: D.L. enjoys taking a break from writing technical journals and procedure manuals for his regular job and crafting an occasional short story or novel. Son of a military family, he grew up across the southeast and ultimately graduated with a Business degree from Louisiana State University. After a stint working in the big city (Atlanta), he packed up his family and settled in central Arkansas to be closer to family. His love for writing was seeded in high school where he wrote both news and feature articles for the school paper, but it wasn’t until his children began heading off to college that he found the time to resurrect his passion for prose. Although his novels fall mostly into the Mystery/Suspense vein, his short stories run the entire gamut of genres. Itinerary is his first published work.
WRiTE CLUB 2016 is just around the corner, which means I'm starting to get my ducks in a row. It also means I need some help. One of the most challenging aspects of the contest is narrowing down all of the entries (171 last year) to just the top 30. That’s where I need help. In order to go about this is a fair and unbiased manner – I create a central repository (via Dropbox) where all of the submissions are stored as they roll in, then have a selection committee of a dozen judges read all of those entries and vote for their favorites, which I then use to select the top 30.
Before you raise your hand to volunteer, I want to fully explain what you would be getting into. This is a big commitment! First you must be open to installing and using Dropbox (a free file sharing program that I will provide complete instructions on how to use). Then once the entries start pouring in (Feb. 1) you will have until March 4th to read what could be 200+ entries, each one approximately 500 words long -- which equates to the length of a small book – and select 30 of what you believe are the best ones.
Most importantly – you cannot be a WRiTE CLUB contestant if you do this.
Additionally, we will be holding a pair of twitter-parties where all of the judges will be on twitter at the same time – making observations about some of the entries we’ve read so far. We’ll be doing this in an effort to raise interest in the contest and build excitement.
So, what do you say? Interested in helping shape how the competition plays out – without officially participating? If so, leave a comment below (be sure to include your email address), and I will be in touch by the end of the week.
Thank you in advance.