* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
Author interview no.366: Sean Byerley (revisited)
Back in May 2012, I interviewed author Sean Byerley for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the three hundred and sixty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author Sean Byerley. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Sean. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Sean: Sure. I’m currently based in Southern California. I started writing books because, in my opinion, and hopefully other people’s too, it was, and is, something I do well. My first book, It’s Not Too Late To Learn Computers: An Easy Reference Guide came about first because, when I was growing up people always told me, “you should be a writer” or “you should write a book”. So, I did.
Morgen: :) My father said I’d make a good teacher (coincidentally when I took three hours to show him how to send and receive emails). Part of my writing make-up is spent running my writing groups and instructional podcasts so he wasn’t far off. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Sean: I’ve written in several genres: How-to, self-help, a children’s book, and Fiction. I’ve considered writing a mystery novel. I’ve also considered writing (and illustrating) a book on how to draw.
Morgen: Mystery’s very popular (and I’ve always wanted to draw :)). What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Sean: As far as my novels, I don’t write under a pseudonym.
As of the time of this interview, I have written four books to date:
It’s Not Too Late To Learn Computers: An Easy Reference Guide, which is one of my best sellers. It is written in a plain and easy to understand Q & A format that reads like I’m speaking directly to the reader. I wrote it with not only the computer novice in mind, but also for senior citizens who might know nothing about computers. It’s also in large print, so people, don’t have to strain their eyes. It includes questions on the basic how to’s of the computer itself: such as “How do you turn this thing on?” “What is a tower?” “What is a hard drive?” “What is RAM?”, and many, many more. It also has fun illustrations. Available in softcover and e-book from Authorhouse.com and Amazon.com.
My second book: Johnny Can-Do: A Disabled Boy’s Courage is a full color children’s book with telling the story of a boy named Johnny, who is a very intelligent, but a little lacking in self-confidence because he gets teased about his disability. It has excellent painted artwork by artist Ruben Gerard.
I wrote it to give confidence to those who might be having trouble dealing with a disability to try and instil some confidence. It was also meant to teach tolerance to those who aren’t disabled. Available from Authorhouse and Amazon.
My third book, The Relationship Chronicles, Volume 1: Sexy and Smart, Too was meant to be a fun read. It is mostly fiction. It is based loosely on some of my own experiences, but I get the feeling people think that people might think that it is a book of stories about the girlfriends I’ve had or something. It is not. It is meant to show how relationships (including friendships, romantic relationships, workplace friendships have changed from the 20th century to the 21st. Men, for example, can still be straight, heterosexual men (the so-called “alpha-male”), but they can be and are more understanding and helpful than they were in say, the 1950’s. They aren’t afraid to, for example, help with the housework, express their feelings, etc. Women can be “tough”, or in positions of power and not be a “witch”. Click on the links below to have a look:
Also included at the end of each chapter are tips to help those who need it. Again, it’s not all about romantic relationships. Friendships are relationships, too. Anyway, this makes the book part fiction / part self-help. Available in hardcover, softcover, and e-book at AuthorHouse and Amazon.
My fourth, and latest book, Coping, Health, and Problem Solving: An Easy Reference Guide, is a guide on how to survive the stresses of the 21st century. From tips on how to deal with things such as depression and anxiety, problem solving skills, health and fitness tips, tips when going for that new job, time and money management, topics you will deal with when raising your children, etc. Available in hardcover, softcover, and e-book at AuthorHouse and Amazon.
Morgen: My mum’s always vowed not to have a computer (and has resisted, and probably will, she’s 80) so ‘where do you turn it on?’ would be ideal for her (although she’s a very smart woman). Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Sean: Yes, one or two come to mind. I just keeping trying something new. I’m a very positive person, if some avenue of advertising doesn’t work, I try something else.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Sean: No, I don’t have an agent. It’s kind of difficult to say whether they are vital to an author’s success, since I’ve never had one.
Morgen: That’s true, especially in these days of self-publishing. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Sean: Most of my books are available as e-books. I do like reading e-books to a certain degree, but given the choice between the two, I would go for a book that I could hold in my hand.
Morgen: Most people still would. I have both, and love both, but one for home and one for away so really there’s no reason why both can’t live happily side-by-side. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Sean: Most of it I do myself. Some of it is by word of mouth.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Sean: I don’t know about the actors, but I do think that two of my books: Johnny Can-Do: A Disabled Boy’s Courage and The Relationship Chronicles, Volume 1: Sexy and Smart, Too, would make great movies.
Morgen: :) Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Sean: I had a lot of say into all of them. The right cover is very important. It has to catch the person’s eye on the shelf. It is difficult sometimes to anticipate, though, what the “right” cover is.
Morgen: Everything’s a matter of opinion, isn’t it. I’ve had people love (5*) and hate my work (1*, never read me again) so you just have to go with what you love and believe in. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Sean: I have been told that the next thing that people would like to see from me is a mystery novel.
Morgen: As long as you’d enjoy writing it. If your heart’s not in it, it’ll likely show. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Sean: No, not every day. I do have my share of days dealing with writer’s block, though.
Morgen: Oh dear, but you write different things so that must help. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Sean: I get an idea or ideas and start writing, then I plot out my chapters, then I write a little more – and re-arrange if necessary.
Morgen: And the characters will certainly help rearrange. :) Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Sean: Depends on the character – the character of Johnny in my children’s book is based on myself and my own experiences with my own disability, so I know for a fact it’s believable. For the characters in The Relationship Chronicles: Sexy and Smart, Too, I just created various people of different ages and personalities, who were at different points in their lives who had pithy things to say. For example, with the characters Paige and Amber, sisters who had just lost their mother – I know that is believable because everyone knows what it is like to lose a loved one.
Morgen: That’s very true. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Sean: I first write down what I have in my head and then once I have the idea down on paper (or stored in computer), then I edit, and edit, and edit.
Morgen: That’s the key, isn’t it, to get it down in the first place. First drafts don’t have to be great but you can’t edit a blank page so that’s a major hurdle done. Do you have to do much research?
Sean: That depends on the book I am writing.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Sean: First and second person is my favorite. I like speaking directly to the reader -- but I have done all three.
Morgen: Second’s my favourite and not many people have written it so it’s always great to meet another author who has. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Sean: My favorite aspect is the point when people tell me they like my work, or I tell them I wrote a book, and their eyes widen with happiness and surprise. My least favorite aspect is the solitary aspect to writing.
Morgen: That’s a shame. I love being on my own but then I have my dog so I’m not lonely. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Sean: Two things: 1. Every story has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. 2. You’ll never accomplish your writing goals if you don’t try.
Morgen: Exactly. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Sean: “Always look for the positives.”
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Sean: I like collecting comic books. I’ve been doing it off and on for almost 30 years. I also like drawing, exercising, going to movies, and listening to music. I’m also very computer savvy.
Morgen: Are there any books that you find useful?
Sean: A thesaurus.
Morgen: :) Simple but essential. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Sean: Yes, I am currently a member on Facebook, Twitter (@seanpbyerley) and Linkedin. They can be very valuable if you can get a good following.
Morgen: Which take a while to build (I’ve learned that). Where can we find out about you and your work?
Sean: My current website is http://seanbyerley.weebly.com, where you can purchase my books and read my blog. You can also go to Authorhouse.com. I also have listings on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Sean: Yes. In addition to being a writer of books / novels, I am also a budding songwriter, and my public Facebook profile is here.
Morgen: Oh, great. Maybe you’d like to do me a guest piece on songwriting? :) Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Sean: What is the best way for a self-published writer like myself, to get his books published by a major publishing house?
Morgen: I’d say keep doing what you’re doing and you may get picked up (it worked for Amanda Hocking). Apart from the time (and expense if you’re going the postal route) there’s no harm in submitting to everyone out of the Writers’ Market (or Writers’ Handbook / Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook in the UK) or you could do what John Locke and Joe Konrath have done and put everything out as eBooks and do really well that way (and inexpensively). The key is to try everything and not give up. :) Thank you, Sean.
I then invited Sean to include an extract of his writing…
The Relationship Chronicles: Sexy and Smart, Too – excerpt # 1
She makes it about another ten feet when another customer tries to stop her. This time, she doesn’t even give him the chance to ask. “Sir, I need to go to lunch, excuse me.”
“Humph!” he says loudly. “Well, I never…!”
As she walks away, a smile comes to her face as she thinks, “Well, maybe you should!” “You’d be a lot happier!”
The Relationship Chronicles: Sexy and Smart, Too – excerpt # 2
It’s a Thursday afternoon. Adam is at work when his friend, Toni [short for Antonia], a beautiful blue-eyed blonde of 24, comes up to him.
“Now, where were we, Toni?”
“We were talking about being with the wrong person” Toni reminded him.
“Right.” Is there something wrong with me?” Adam asked.
“No Adam, you just haven’t found the right person yet.”
“It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen,” she said to him.
“What makes you so sure it’s supposed to happen?”
“Because I know you’re a great catch.”
“If you know that, how come you haven’t caught me yet?”
Sean Byerley is a college educated native Southern Californian who has been writing in one form or another most of his life and has a degree in Business.
Sean likes to try and find the positive in almost everything.
He has lived with a physical disability all of his life, but he is determined not to let that stop him from living life and he hopes to inspire others with his positive outlook.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.