You really should know …

A.M. Schultz.

Why?

Because the dude rocks big time.

Seriously, he lifts me up when I’m down, makes me laugh when I frown (forgive the rhyme), and is packing some serious talent underneath that “aw-shucks, I’m just doing what I do and hope it turns out good” demeanor.

He doesn’t know it yet, but he is.

Just check out his bio:

A.M. Schultz is a student, pseudo-scholar, writer, closet-nerd, and philosophy junkie. Predicted to become either a college professor, a full-time author, a part-time Buddhist, a selective pescatarian or a total recluse, he enjoys sporadic fits of writing in between meditation sessions, kickboxing workouts, Greek yogurt/sushi indulgences, drooling over the works of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, scribbling in his Moleskine notebooks, preparing to battle the dreaded GRE, underachieving and spontaneously traveling across the eastern United States in search of high adventure and low-country cuisine.

I’ll say it again, this guy is a talent powerhouse.

Take a look at the cover for his upcoming debut novel RING GIRL:

Photobucket

I mean, really? OMG! I want that cover. And he has more covers over on his site, including the ones he’s done for me.

But let’s fast forward to the nitty gritty — ’cause I’m a nosey type — and hear what the man behind the myth has to say for himself.

I know you’re still writing your book RING GIRL, but, if you had to, what’s one word you’d use to describe it as it stands right now.

Kinetic. This thing is a ball of energy and it is pressing forward. There is a fire under my ass to get it done, but there is also a fire under the story’s ass. It’s not taking “no” for an answer. I can’t promise that it’s going to be great, or that people will remember this story thirty years from now, but barring some major catastrophe, it’s coming. It will be available for readers around the world in January… so yeah, kinetic.

Your biggest challenge as a writer?

My lifelong habit of being my own worst enemy. Any time I have tried to write, be it fiction or non-fiction, I have succeeded. After a while, the challenge was gone. Now, I hop on the internet and see thousands upon thousands of other writers and wonder how the hell I’m going to line-jump thousands of people who might be just as good or better than me, and it’s horrifying. When I trust myself, though, and stop trying to enslave myself to the trends of the market, I do well. It’s just a matter of making that happen.

Your greatest joy as a writer?

When someone reads my stuff and makes a point of telling me it was good. A lot of my fiction was role-playing on-line with a small community of other writers, and quite frequently, I would hear that “if he’s on, nobody touches that guy.” A writer once called me his “Zen Master.” It’s not the ego stroke, per se, but the fact that people would go out of their way to say something like that in regards to my writing. It’s fueled me to become better, and it’s what has brought me to the table. I want to write things that play to people’s emotions, to their intellects, to their souls. If I make a few bucks, pay a couple bills, buy a new Polo shirt, whatever; if 100 people go out of their way to tell me my writing inspired them or entertained them, it’s all the same.

What’s that ONE thing you need in order to write?

PASSION. Confidence, inspiration, time, all of that are nice, but if you are writing flaccid prose, it’s going to show. If you are pouring passion on the page, people will be able to tell. You don’t even have to be a “great” writer – make people feel what you are feeling, and you’re golden!

You pop open your laptop, bring up the Blank Page, sit back, fingers ready to type … and then what? How does your process begin?

It’s usually not that formulaic. I rarely sit down with the intention to write. I always check my e-mail, my social networks, my Alexa ranking, a few other pages, etc. Then, I’ll do some pre-writing, maybe slam a cool 300-400 words out on something innocuous before I attempt to build upon one of my “serious” works. This has been working well because it gets me in the mood to write. Writing foreplay, I guess…

What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve ever received? And it doesn’t have to be writing related.

There is a quote attributed to Socrates (the philosopher, not my pug): the unexamined life is not worth living. I’m a hardass towards myself, and throughout my adult life, I have never been comfortable or content if I wasn’t pushing myself. For a few years, this was working a billion hours a week. Then, it was living in the gym, going to shows all across the East Coast every weekend while toggling school and work. Now, it’s writing. Not only am I writing the book, but I am promoting this book, and supporting a network of other authors I want to see succeed. It’s pressure, but as long as I remember to look inside myself and remember why I’m doing all of this, then it’s entirely worth it.

And what’s the best advice you can give someone who’s struggling to put their words on the page?

DON’T THINK. Ray Bradbury posted this above his desk, and it seemed to work for him. For me, “thinking” involves worrying about trends, or trying to make your story fit somewhere it doesn’t; trying to fit elements into your story that don’t belong. Write from the heart, from the soul, but don’t worry about what other people will think while you are writing.

In addition to your talent as a writer, you also design kick ass book covers. What inspired you to throw your hat into that ring?

Honestly? I followed Mr. Jonathan Winn on the Twitter, he RT’d me a couple of times, and I visited his Amazon page. Read the blurb for MARTUK… THE HOLY, thought it sounded awesome, but then thought “wow, that cover is gonna hurt his sales big time.” So, I messaged him, said I was willing to give book cover designs a whirl, and here we are now.

I had messed around with graphic design for about a decade before that and figured I might as well strengthen my presence as much as possible. Now, the hard thing is getting people to hire me for work. 😉

When beginning work on designing a cover, how do you begin? What’s that first step?

I usually have a very rough idea of what I want to do, and the cover never turns out the way I intend. Tons of trial-and-error. “CUSS” actually came to me while I was lying down one day, thought big, blocky letters across a black-and-white background would look cool, and forty-five minutes later, I had perhaps my coolest looking cover thus far. It’s basically improv.

Five years from now, where are you and what are you doing?

Ideally, I’m sitting in my condo in Hilton Head, South Carolina sixteen weeks a year.
Realistically, I’m finished with graduate school, working as a college professor, and selling enough copies of my books/doing enough book covers to handle a few bills per month. I’m curious to see what the landscape of the publishing industry looks like in five years, and I expect that quality self-published authors will continue to see a major spike in sales.

Mark my words, kids. Five years from now, we’ll still be talking about A.M. Schultz. This guy rocks seven ways to Sunday and back again.

And his pug Socrates ain’t too bad either. :^)

I’m a wannabe who doesn’t work hard

… or so says Author (notice the capital A?) Sue Grafton.

In a recent interview this is what Miss Grafton had to say about those who decide to self-publish:

Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.

When just barely pressed, Miss Grafton continued her thoughts on the efforts of these unwashed masses not good enough for Big, Fat Publishing Contracts (or, as she calls them, “wannabe”s):

Obviously, I’m not talking about the rare few writers who manage to break out. The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception. The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth. The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time. I see way too many writers who complete one novel and start looking for the fame and fortune they’re sure they’re entitled to. To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.

In some ways she has a point. Not all self-pubbed work is good. But not all traditionally published work is good either. Apples and oranges, you know.

Her comments still hock me off.

Now, if you’re already aware of the firestorm of indignation rolling through the indie and self-pubbing world regarding Traditional Publishing’s latest Foot in Mouth when it comes to us self-pubbers, what I’m about to say will seem familiar at best and redundant at worst.

Regardless, I’m saying it anyway.

How dare she. Seriously. How. Dare. She.

You know, I just published my third book today. Yeah, BFD, right? Well, to me it is. Maybe not to Queen Sue, but to me it is. And it should be.

I worked my ass off. I wrote all day and then late into the night. I even wrote as the sun came up knowing full well that another full day of writing lay ahead. I edited, I shaped, I cut and rewrote. I trimmed and hemmed and polished that baby ’till she f’ing shined. And I did this knowing that not one single person would probably buy this book the first week. Or the second week. Or ever.

But I did it anyway because I love it and I had a great story to tell.

And listen, Sue, I’ve done the research on ancient Uruk. I can tell you — as best one can based on what little has been discovered of their civilization — what money they used, what writing they had, how their houses were constructed, how twisted their religious beliefs were, and how their days were structured. I could even draw you a fucking map of the city, so don’t you dare tell me I don’t do my research. Is any of this info in my books? No, not really. Is it important I know it?

Hell. Yes.

But you know what, Miss Grafton? I do all of this without complaint and without prompting. Without an Editor looking over my shoulder or a Publishing House guiding me with a schedule. I do all of this — and still plan to, by the way — without a big advance propping up my bank account and a legion of fans ready to snap up whatever drivel and tripe I sling on the shelf.

And you can’t say that, now, can you, Sue.

At the end of the day, though, I, a simple wannabe who doesn’t work hard and can’t take rejection, have something you’ll never have:

I can publish any fucking thing I want.

I can be brave and creative, ballsy and controversial, amazing and incredible and unforgettable and breathtaking in ways your Publisher will never allow you to be. I can kill Judas with a kiss and walk with a Jesus modern-day Christians wouldn’t recognize. I can drive my narrative forward with a gruesome sacrifice of a child or an anonymous soldier, an ancient Elder or a deliciously evil Old Crone. I can create Seers and Magis, Spirits and Immortals in ways your focus grouped bestsellers simply can’t.

Unlike you, I’m not driven by fear.

I’m driven by freedom.

And that, Miss Grafton, is why this talentless hack who doesn’t work hard self-publishes.

Chatty Cathy strikes again …

So, Day Two of the blog and another post?

Looks like someone is procrastinating. That WIP will NOT be pleased.

But, seriously, I wanted to share with you a recent interview I did with the fantastic Carl Purdon. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s unique, and you actually learn a bit more about me … if that’s what floats your boat.

Check it out and let me know what you think in the Comments below. :^)