|photo credit: Tim Burdick|
Today I am proud to introduce you to John Howell, an author of #suspense novels whom I met via Linda G. Hill’s blog. John’s blog is a source of entertainment and inspiration which I visit regularly. You just have to read his “Ten Things not to do…” series. He made me laugh even though I do not visit coffee shops nor am I a fan of American Football. And I just have put his books on my reading list.
His John Cannon trilogy sounds thrilling, and John has just asked for Beta readers for the third part “Our Justice” before it goes to professional editing.
But enough of the introduction. Here is John Howell on writing, secret sins and advice for apprentice writers:
“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?
Well, gee one paragraph is a lot. I could do it in one word. The word? “Writer.” Okay I will give a little more since most of the readers of your blog would give me a big “duh” should I try and cope out. I was born in Detroit and learned early that a good story went a long way is staying alive. I went to work after college and finally wrapped up the professional life in 2012. I decided that I would work hard to become a writer and spent many late nights while working to try and become one. I finished one book which was so bad I now use the manuscript as a door stop. Once retired I was free to write full time which has produced four books. Two are published and the other two being prepared. I realize I must start another book soon since I have this story running around in my head. All this is the backstory to the fact that I describe myself as a simple person who loves to tell stories.
A fun fact about you?
I think the fact that I used to do community theater in Connecticut and always hoped to be discovered by a big Broadway producer is pretty fun. I played many roles, and my most favorite was Humphry Bogart in Play it Again Sam. Since Woody Allen already made the movie I was hoping for a reprise on Broadway. It didn’t happen, but I certainly had fun with the role.
What made you write in the first place?
Since a little before high school, I found writing helped keep me from paying too much attention to factors around me which were not wholly positive. I would write my feelings in a notebook which never left my person. Once the notebook was full, I would destroy it so that no one could find it. I would have died had anyone read what I had included. My father died when I was ten years old, and there were some issues that I needed to resolve. Once I started writing my feelings, I noticed them becoming less important. I did manage to save a couple of notebooks which after reading I am grateful to whoever made the suggestion to work out problems this way. To this day, I can say my writing still keeps me from ignoring the less than positive aspects of life.
Which Author has influenced you and why?
I have, to say the author that influenced me the most was Kurt Vonnegut. I have had a very personal relationship with Kurt to the degree that I have been in awe of the way he crafted a story. He used historical situations as a backdrop to the prose as well as humor to make his points. His first major hit Slaughterhouse Five was the story of his protagonist surviving the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. Kurt, himself was a prisoner of war and survived such a situation. He did not tell his story as a memoir but rather build his experience into the story in a way his readers would be interested. His book caused a generation of kids to think about the evil of war and yet was a great piece of fiction. His ability to be inclusive is why I admire him so much
What is your favorite book?
My favorite book is On the Beach by Neville Shute. It was one of the first books I read where the story did not have a happy ending and was pretty much responsible for waking up an interest in me for writing realistic fiction. I have yet to read a book that had the same impact on me personally. I may have been young and impressionable, but it still stands out like a divining moment book wise.
Your writing ritual (if you have one)?
My ritual consists of writing one thousand words on my novel WIP a day before I do anything else. I used to start writing in the afternoon after I had finished my e-mails and home duties without a goal. I changed about two years ago when it became apparent that there are too many distractions in the afternoon, so I finish my daily goal before moving on to other things. I can usually produce a novel in about 90 to 100 day
Your secret “sin” when you write?
I have two sins. The first is I need rock music playing while I write. I used to plug CDs into my computer but have changed to IHeart Radio, Bluetooth, and a kick butt speaker. In this way, I don’t have to stop writing to fiddle with music. My second sin is a bowl of hard candies on my desk. I use these as little rewards throughout my writing day. I used to drink cups of coffee for the same purpose but finally figured out it was not the best way to remain calm and write on
Do you suffer from writers block and if, what do you do against it?
I don’t have writer’s block because I don’t think it is a real condition. I think we all get stale or have a problem with a story but believe writer’s block is an excuse we writer’s come up with when we just don’t know how to get out of the current situation. We also use it when the writing experience becomes unpleasant, or we develop a case of crisis of confidence. I use these times to write short stories. I become refreshed as it is as if I’m using a different part of my brain for a while. I write three short stories a week which is usually published on my blog on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. That tells you how many times I’m a little lost on what I’m working.
Your advice for apprentice writers?
My advice is to write your story to completion before showing any part of it to anyone. When novice writers start passing their work in progress around to get critiques, they are almost guaranteeing failure. All our work sucks at the beginning and the only way to help that is to keep writing to learn how to craft a good story.I am a proponent of critique groups but only give work that I have finished up for critique. I always learn new things but at least, the work is done, and there is no danger that I will become discouraged and give up. I use short stories for this purpose. I remember once asking for advice on an opening chapter of a novel I had written. Of course, the person didn’t like it because it was not how they would have written it. I ignored the critique and finished the book my way. Had I listened I would have stopped. I think continuing to write no matter what is the most important thing a novice can do.”
John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well as a daily blog. His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold. His second, His Revenge is just being launched and is available on Amazon and KDP Select.
John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of South Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets.
John’s Books on
|permission by John Howell|
Blurb “My GRL”
|permission by John Howell|