Name: Martin McConnell
Book(s) Title: Finish the Damn Book!
What made you want to become a writer?
That’s a hard question. I’ve been telling little stories and writing them down since I was a kid. In college, I tried writing a couple of nonfiction books, but never finished any of them. Same story with several novels I’ve tried to write. When I finished drafting my first novel, I realized two things: I finished one, and I can do it again. Stressful working conditions and not being physically where I wanted to be pushed me over the edge, which caused me to quit my job and start freelancing in addition to writing books. I had 3 novel first drafts and 3 published novellas that year. The novellas are now out of print. New publisher, and they closed shop.
Million dollar question, are you working on another book?
Oh always. I have a ghost story that I’m pitching to agents right now, and I’m working on adapting my novella series into a novel to put out as an indie, as well as some Kindle short-story projects. These days it’s impossible for me not to be working on a creative writing project. I feel horrible if I don’t get in my writing and editing time every day.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
The Viral Spark series is out of print, and I have 5 novels on my computer in various editing stages, as well as dozens of short stories and flash pieces, which are mostly experimental.
What do you think about the ebook revolution?
I think it’s great. Other’s might disagree, but I want not only to inspire writers with works like Finish the Damn Book, but also to inspire people to read more. Anything that accomplishes that task is awesome. I’m a fan of audiobooks, blogs (especially storytelling blogs), and creative social media posts. Whatever gets people reading, I’m all for it. I’m also fascinated by this emerging trend in Japan where people tell stories via text message. We need to get something like that going over here.
Do you still write? If so, what does your typical day look like?
I live two lives at the moment. When I’m in civilization I usually head somewhere I can focus to write, as soon as possible after waking up. Afternoons are for winding down, remembering to eat, social media, and sometimes playing Kerbal Space Program. When I’m in the woods, I try to work on my homestead before it gets too hot, building structures and pasture, prepping the site for animals and a garden, etc. Then I travel 45 minutes to a coffee shop to get some words in.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
Yes! Well, I don’t have a typewriter yet, but more and more I’m drawn to them. I have a plan to drag it to a public park with a stack of paper and turn off my phone. It would also work better at my homestead until I get the electricity thing taken care of. I like the loud clacking keys. I do most of my noveling and blog posts on the laptop, but I do all of my brainstorming with a fountain pen and a notebook. The Visconti is for storytelling, and my Monteverde is for journalling or signing things.
Do you write Alone or in public?
I’m a little weird as a writer in the fact that I can write almost anywhere. When I’m in public though, I get paranoid that people are watching me, so I need to look busy. In turn, I end up staying busy, and hammering away at the keys for hours. Pretending to work is the best way to kick off some killer focus. Other times I have to shut the world off and hide in a dark room, especially when I’m tired.
What has your experience been like as an Indie Author? Bruises, Highlights, and lessons?
Mostly learning about the publishing industry, and I’ve learned a lot. One of those lessons was how bad I am at marketing. I suck at it, so trying to pull off the indie author thing is super hard work. I also realize the importance of an awesome cover. Finish the Damn Book! was kind of a fluke in that I did it myself. I spotted my pen laying on a notebook, got inspired, and found my Sony a5000. I had some artists pitching ideas at me, but ended up going with my own. Still, a great artist can make a book shine, and my cover artist for the Viral Spark novel has come up with some great artwork. The same is true with a solid editor, even if it’s a little expensive.
What is your book about?
Finish the Damn Book! started off as a rant-style blog post in response to seeing a bunch of otherwise good writers throw in the towel with a host of excuses. When someone gives up on their book, they are missing an opportunity, and some of these people are much more talented than I. I had to learn by doing, with no formal training. Half a million words later, and I have people praising my work, which is pretty awesome. That little rant post was stuffed away on my hard drive, and the next day I drafted the whole book in one long sitting. I was pretty hungry when I finished. I wanted to show anyone dreaming of writing a book that they, like me, could drop all the excuses and finish their book. And if I was going to promote fast drafting, I had to put my money where my mouth was. That’s what FTDB is all about. It’s a step-by-step guide to finding your motivation, laying muse traps all over your writing room, and finishing that project you started on. A finished novel might be the greatest accomplishment of your life.
What has been the best compliment?
Probably the book review by S.J. Penner. I got some kind of DM on twitter one day, asking if I could recommend some good material for new writers, websites or books or otherwise. I chuckled, not knowing if the DM was automated, and asked if my book was on her list. She aparently already had a copy on her Kindle, and a few weeks later, a five star review popped up that almost brought me to tears. Just being listed with the other great authors on her recommended reading list warms my heart.
Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
First of all, I love every single one of you. Thanks so much for reading, even if it’s only my stories on WattPad. Keep reading, because it’s good for the soul, and stories are just as important as nonfiction or informative articles. If you’re a writer, keep writing. Write everyday, until your hands cramp and the doctor tells you to reduce the coffee intake. And then write some more. You make time for what you love to do. People often say, “I’d like to read more” or “I wish I could write a book.” You can! Be who you want to be, chase your dreams, and drive your own plot, because as the main character in your own story, you are the only person who can.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
Anyone who needs a boost of motivation needs to read Finish the Damn Book! The experience is akin to punching writer’s block in the mouth, and attracting an angry muse that will lace your coffee with octane booster. Sounds like I have a fat head, doesn’t it? But I assure you, I wouldn’t put so much praise behind that book if it wasn’t for all the emails I get from other writers, musicians, and artists, telling me how much it helped them develop a new outlook on motivation, and how it boosted theirs.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Drafting. There is nothing more exhilerating than crafting a brand new story, inventing new monsters, and making stuff up about fictional universes. Brainstorming would come in as a close second, but actually jotting the story down, and committing idea to paper, uninhibited, that’s pure magic. In my head, stories are in pieces, but as they travel through my fingers, they coalesce into a story plot, characters become real, and the world around them deepens. It’s like a dream being transformed into reality.
What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?
My first finished novel was a historical fiction. The trilogy I wrote before a publisher came along for Viral Spark was near-future/thrillery. VS was hard sci-fi. My current novel pitch is in horror. I tell people that I write speculative fiction, and that pretty well covers all the bases, and now this nonfiction motivation book. I tried sticking to one genre, but I really can’t. I like to dabble with everything, but the story has to give the reader something to think about, whether it’s wondering if this new monster is real, or if a certain techno-gadget that could have unintended consequences. I’m a philosophy nut, so I like painting perplexing problems that can be discussed long after “The End.”
Amazon Author Page Link: https://www.amazon.com/Martin-McConnell/e/B01G4WLOXE/
Twitter Handle: @spottedgeckgo
Facebook Page Link: https://www.facebook.com/writefarmlive/
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