Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Author Spotlight Shines On: James L. Hatch

It's my pleasure to introduce multi-published author, James.L. Hatch

  • Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer James.


I am a retired military officer, systems/software engineer and company
president. Life without work ushered in a plethora of new activities, but my need to write came long before retirement. The events of 9/11/01 got me started. Writing was a way to vent rage and to try to understand the hatred that led to the murder of almost 3,000 people. That first novel written eventually became Kill Zone, my seventh novel published (Eternal Press). By the time I retired for a third time, I was already driven to write. Being away from work provided the time I needed to hone my skill. “Show vs. Tell”, proper point of view and correct punctuation were not high on the list for technical writing, but became vital as I learned what I needed to do to get published. As I wrote more, I got better. I have one short story and seven novels published, and just completed another paranormal comedy called The Training Bra


I know what you mean about technical stuff, I didn't know what double spacing was once. You don't want to know what I did to create what I thought it was. lol
.

  • James, I know you write different genres like myself but do you have a certain theme or trademark to your stories?

Only recently have I considered writing with a theme. I began writing contemporary fiction after 9/11, but soon switched to Sci-Fi. I have been a Sci-Fi fan all my life, so that was a natural change. After completing a trilogy of Sci-Fi novels (The Judge, Infinity Quest, The Empress of Tridon), I wanted to try a romantic-action-thriller. All the authors’ groups I belonged to were romance groups, so that seemed natural too. I wrote Aftermath Horizon at the time, a novel that began as the last chapter of Kill Zone, subsequently became the short story, “The Final Experiment”, and finally turned into a full-length novel. The Aftermath Horizon heroine was a spunky sixteen-year-old girl with a dash of witty humor. I fell in love with the way she interacted with the world, and that led to my first paranormal comedy, The Substitute. I have now completed the “Miss Havana” trilogy (The Substitute, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana!, The Training Bra) but am not sure if I should leave the Miss Havana character for another genre. I have a concept for an outrageous follow-on novel called The Trophy Wife that could be drop dead funny. My theme could become humor; my trademark could become “Miss Havana.”

  • Do you have an agent and how important do you think having an agent is in the publication world?

Agents are harder to attract than publishers. I have tried to publish with Tor, but that requires an agent. After I wrote my first few novels, I tried to find an agent. I got as many rejections from agents as I did originally from publishers. I have just about given up on finding one. In fact, I’m not sure an agent is needed in the age of e-books and social media. The publishers I have worked with (xoxopublishing.com, Solstice Publishing and Eternal Press) have all been fantastic. They have produced great book covers and their editors have helped me develop greater writing skill. I have no experience with an agent, but my publishers are interested in my personal development as an author, and in teaching me how to promote my work.

That's fantastic that the publishers are so invested in their authors small or large.

  • How do your stories come to life, from fiction or fantasy?

All of my stories come to me in dreams—the plots and the characters. I work interactively with that. Once the idea comes to me, I write in the daytime and refine the plot at night while I sleep. I have had near-real dreams all my life, always in color, but only since I retired have taken advantage of them.

My dreams freak me the hell out sometimes, putting that to paper would be nuts. But I think that would make you a visual writer like myself.

  • Are you a ‘go with the flow’ writer or do you have structure?

Mostly, I go with the flow. The characters take on a life of their own as the work develops. My comedy is so character driven I laugh out loud while writing. I can hardly believe what the characters say and how they say it. I am a personable guy, but I don’t think I’m as funny in person as the characters are in my books. Only twice have I had to make a flow chart of the sequences in my books. Once was for the Orient Express-like death of Miss Havana in The Substitute and once for the maturation of Shelly in Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana!

I'm guilty of laughing out loud while writing, my family give me that look as to say, "O-kay"

  • Have you always wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?

I have had a lifetime of careers in computer science and meteorology (my Ph.D. is in meteorology—numerical weather prediction). Writing for fun did not occur to me until I retired for the third time. Now I write for fun. I love it.

Well I'm impressed.

  • What groups are you affiliated with and how have they helped you through your journey of publication?

I belong to about forty Yahoo authors’ groups. Most are for romance writers, but some are for fantasy and Sci-Fi. I also belong to several groups on Facebook. The Yahoo groups have been essential, especially the information located in the “Files” section of many groups. Some groups post “how to write” information in their files section. Those posts are invaluable for a new writer.

I absolutely agree, there is an abundant amount of information and help out there and much easier to access with the Internet.

  • How much marketing do you involve yourself in and with the mass consumption of social media, does this play a part in your marketing choice?

Marketing is more difficult than writing. Between novels, I spend most of my time marketing; while I’m writing and editing, less so. I am active in many Yahoo authors’ groups, blogs and on Facebook. I maintain my own blog (http://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/) and do what I can to attract people to it. I participate in contests and offer my books as prizes. I have attended one book fair and intend to do another in April. The local newspaper gave me almost a full-page spread a couple of months back. I also do speaking engagements at libraries and schools. I am trying to arrange a book signing at a local book store. Like I said, marketing is hard. Fortunately, I enjoy people. If it didn’t take so darn much time, marketing would be fun.

Preaching to the choir there, James. It's fun but time consuming for someone who is time poor such as myself.

  • Here’s a random one for you. If you could be one animal, which would it be and why?

Probably a domestic house cat. Cats like mine are spoiled. I could live with that.

  • What would you say is your inspiration to write in general and scene based?

At this point, my inspiration is humor, but the paranormal comedy series also address some social issues. For example, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! discusses female slavery, piracy domestic violence and a few other dicey issues, but does so like a saw blade, with serious material interspersed with lots of humor. The Substitute is just for laughs, as is The Training Bra, but both parody portions of our culture. For example, Miss Havana endures training by the four horsemen of the apocalypse in The Training Bra. The horsemen are “Stupid”, “Macho”, “Scourge” and “Sin.” Wherever she goes, she finds Stupid got there first, especially in Washington D.C. You get the picture.

  • With your titles and covers, did you get much of a say in this matter and how important is it to you to have input?

No one has ever suggested I change any book title. Covers are another thing. In some cases, the publisher has produced the cover with little input from me. In others, I have produced almost the entire book cover. The publishers I work with have accepted suggested changes most of the time, although I have sometimes asked an artist friend to tweak the result.

You've got to love having artistic friends.

  • Do you have any tips for other aspiring writers or authors out there?

Yes. To answer this question, I re-posted twenty-three writing tips on my blog at (http://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/). I will keep them there in case anyone wants to read them. I originally prepared the tips for a writer’s blog I posted on last month. All tips are real, and all represent errors editors have dinged me on in the past.

  • So, I think we’ve gotten to know you a little now. How’s about we step it up a notch. Are you panicking? Lol. Do you have any dirty little secrets or confessions you’d like to share with us- what’s on the blog stays on the blog, right guys. (wink)

I have a great life with no secrets at all. I fish. I write. I work in my yard. I ball room dance. I kayak. I take care of up to nine grandkids when needed. I enjoy red wine watching the sunset over the lake behind my home (many are posted as Facebook photos at https://www.facebook.com/). I have been incredibly lucky during my life and am thankful for having survived to this point daily. Being as old as I am isn’t all bad.

I can't wait for grandkids and retirement, ahhhh

  • Where’s your favourite place to write?

In my office overlooking the lake. It is extremely peaceful there.

  • Tell us of your releases- where and when can we buy them?

My books can be purchased from Solstice Publishing (The Substitute, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana!), xoxopublishing.com (The Judge, Infinity Quest, The Empress of Tridon, The Final Experiment) and Eternal Press (Kill Zone) as well as Amazon and other e-book outlets. Buy links are provide on my web site athttp://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/.

  • In one word, how would you best describe yourself?

Determined.

  • Now that we’re all friends, tell us your most embarrassing moment?

Our group had finished a three margarita dinner before drifting into the shoe department at Macy’s. For some reason Howard, my buddy and dance instructor, and I wondered if those little nylon footie things could actually stretch over our heads. I admit, at two margaritas, I probably wouldn’t have tried it … but I did. After a little effort, we both looked like terrorists or robbers. The shoe department people were laughing their heads off, but security wasn’t in on the fun. We were escorted out of the store, leaving our wives with all those shoes. Of course, they HAD to purchase some, just for spite.

You know when I said earlier what happens when i laugh? I just abruptly cracked up while they were watching 'Top gear' and I got the look.

  • Do you have any upcoming signings or author appearances you would like to share?

My next big milestone will be the release of The Training Bra, the third novel in the Miss Havana series. The book is so funny it will make readers light-headed.

  • Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

Like many authors, writing is the joy of my life … especially the comedy. Success as an author, however, if based on sales alone, could be a long way off. It takes time, lots of time, to get your name and product “out there.” To new authors I would say: Don’t be discouraged, and don’t expect a payday anytime soon. Those who make lots of money are few and far between, but if you write for the joy of writing, never stop.

I give that advice all the time, thank you James for joining us today and if you would like to find out more about James and his books go to his site: http://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/



21 comments:

Sally Christie said...

Oh, what a well thought out interview! Both of you should come back for another bow.

I like people, I just don't go out of my way to hang out with them. :) Marketing is a never ending cycle and I am very thankful for the computer buffer that comes between us.

Could I be a shy writer?

So, you don't really outline and you like your view of the lake.

I want to know, James, besides the view, what is your favorite writing tool? Computer, pen, notebooks, dry erase boards, snack food, coffee, what does your writing perch with a view include?

Good job Kerri!
Sally

Karlene Blakemore-Mowle said...

I agree with Sally- excellent interview guys! James so great to hear about you and your writing- what a lovely guy!
What a brave guy- he handled our Kerri very well!!!!!

Sweet said...

Absolutely loved this. Thanks for taking the time James and Kerri. Will be heading over to James blog now to check it out.

BLCSDina said...

What a terrific interview! James, love the tux! You look so sophisticated! The Training Bra sounds interesting-whatever inspired that title-LOL! Good luck on Havana, The Sub, and now the Training Bra! Dina Rae

Kerri Williams said...

Oooh good question Sally, do tell James

Kerri Williams said...

Not many can handle me can they Karly, hubby deserves an award ;)

Kerri Williams said...

That's what I love about these interviews etc, other readers find you just by popping onto a link.
Thanks sweet

Kerri Williams said...

Gotta say James, I love the tux too- very James Bond lol

sashagirl said...

James,
interesting post. Three careers? Wow. Yes, write because you love it and, perhaps, the money will follow. Not always. But I believe writers are born to write. You have to love it. Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Linda Hays-Gibbs said...

Love the interview! Lots of great advice. I love comedies so can't wait to read your books any copies offered for prizes anywhere I can try and win one

Kerri Williams said...

I'm very sorry everyone who has taken the time to visit and learn more about James, I'm not sure what has happened to him.
I have emailed him but haven't received a reply.
I want to thank you all and hope you will come back for the next interview because your support means a lot to us authors.

Kez

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Kerri and James,
Very intersting post.
I love the bit about marketing James. It does take up a lot of time.
Really enjoy this post.

Suzanne :)

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Sally:

First, thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. I'm sorry for the delay in responding. I don't get to a hot spot every day because I'm on vacation in the Colorado mountains. Second, my favorite writing tool is the computer. The keyboard is like an extension of my brain. Thoughts go directly to the screen. I can't imagine how difficult writing must have been in the old days before the laptop. I mean, even now, while I'm sitting here at 9,600 feet and surrounded by stunning beauty, I can whip out my laptop at a hot spot and communicate with you. I LOVE this technology.

I am one of the luckiest writers in the world because my normal "writing perch" has almost a 180 degree view of Lake Belton, and the shore is close enough to hit with a rock. Fort Hood is across the lake, so the view is unobstructed with any other homes. It is peaceful. It is a wonderful place to write.

Sincerely,
James

James L. Hatch said...

Hello Karlene!

I want to thank you personally for stopping by Kerri's blog and for your comment. I appreciate it more than you know. Also, I want to apologize for my late response. I'm vacationing in the Colorado mountains, and don't get to an Internet spot every day. You are right, Kerri's questions were the most thorough I've ever encountered. I was flattered she invited me to be on her blog.

Thanks again,
James

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Sweet.

Thanks for stopping by. It was a pleasure being invited to Kerri's blog. I really appreciate your support and comment. Sorry for my delay in responding (Colorado mountain vacation with limited Internet access). I hope you enjoy the entries at http://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/ as well.

Sincerely,
James

James L. Hatch said...

Hi BlCSDina:

Ah, yes, the title, "The Training Bra." It's funny how these things come about. In every case of titles for my books, the title comes to me before I know the details of the story. This particular title was meant to signify the re-development of Miss Havana's spirit. At the end of "Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana!" there is a confrontation between Miss Havana and God that gives her a second chance at living. That's what "The Training Bra" is about -- second chances. The novel traces the development of Miss Havana's spirit in the body of an eleven-year-old girl until her untimely death, and that's where the fun begins (again). Miss Havana re-encounters Lucifer, her daughter ... and finally, God. The story will water your eyes with laughter.

Thanks for asking,
James

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Kerri:

The tux. Yes, that was a fluke. My neighbor took that picture last year. My wife and I had been to a formal ball the night before, and my neighbor had just purchased her new backdrop. She wanted to test the backdrop with film and asked us to re-dress for a shooting. The shoot took about five minutes, but the pictures were great. They were also the last ones my neighbor took with a film camera. It is GOOD to have friends who are professional photographers. They can make you look much better than you do in real life!

Sincerely,
James

James L. Hatch said...

To Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

Yes, three careers: military, Lockheed-Martin and then president of a software company. Like you said, though, writing comes from within. You have to love it or you're just wasting your time. Very few make it big time. I admire all who do, but will continue writing even if I don't. It is relaxing. It makes me feel whole.

Thanks for your comment. It is so very true.

James

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Linda Hays-Gibbs:

Please drop my your email address at jhatch6@hot.rr.com. I'll make sure I notify you personally the next time there is a contest. Just put "Miss Havana" in the title.

Thank you for stopping by Kerri's blog. I was flattered to be asked to blog here. I am delighted you like comedy. It is my favorite genre. I wish I could find more of it myself.

Sincerely,
James L. Hatch

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Suzanne:

I think I've let Kerri down a little by being out of pocket the first few days the blog ran. I hope you will forgive me. Every comment on a blog is important, and I normally answer them with greater speed. I am on vacation in Colorado now, and don't have ready access to the Internet. It is interesting you bring up marketing. In fact, being responsive to blogs is part of that. If someone takes the time to comment on a blog you have written, it is essential the blogger take the time to respond. It's common courtesy. Marketing is hard, as you point out. Even more so than writing. I will be trying a few new things this year. The most important is releasing the next book ("The Training Bra"). According to the many blogs I've read, releasing your next novel is one of the most important ways to keep your name out there. I also want to try a "Who is Miss Havana" contest. My book covers don't show her face, but I have been collecting imagery that could be "her". It might be fun to let readers vote on the image they think best portray's her, and then try to secure permission from the individual in the photo for permission to use her face on "The Trophy Wife" novel (I'm pretty sure I will write that next).

Thank you again for stopping by ... and please accept my apologies again for a delinquent reply.

James

Kerri Williams said...

It's been a pleasure to have you here James and we are all jealous of you vacation!
Thank you for your stopping by to answer those questions it means a lot to them and to me. I wish you all the best in your sales and hope to catch up again soon.
Kez