I always love taking the opportunity to meet other writers…
“I live in Rome, Georgia with my wife and daughter. I work as a computer programmer for an eCommerce company. I began writing horror stories because it was what I loved to read. Since reading more diversely, I realized that I no longer loved only one genre, but many different genres. I’ve stopped trying to label myself and fit within the confines of any one category. Therefore, I write stories that I find fascinating and fun. I just hope readers will find entertainment in the various books I write.“
Q: How do you feel about promotion?
A: I love the idea of promotion. However, I, personally, do not love promotion because I’m not very good at it. That’s why I’ve hired a PR guy. I think that promotion is extremely important now that there are so many different books available to readers. How else can a new author stand out in the crowd when everyone else is also vying for a reader’s attention?
Q: What would you consider a failure as a writer?
A: My answers could make for a lengthy list! I’d say the biggest failure that comes to mind right now is: the inability to learn from one’s mistakes, which, technically, can apply to most anything. I think it really applies to writing, though. As a writer, you need to have a thick skin in order to accept criticism, but that’s only the beginning. Once you receive that criticism, you should analyze it, learn from it. That feedback can help you strengthen your weaknesses if you address it. Unfortunately, too many authors let negative feedback hurt them emotionally and that’s where it stops. Once you take something personally, it’s a slippery slope to reacting in an equally negative way to offset that negative feeling. Remember that you are a professional. Learn from your mistakes, fix them, and move on with the intention of trying not repeat them. Now, if you ask me this question tomorrow, or five minutes from now, I might have a completely different answer.
Q: Do star-ratings really matter when you are trying to sell a book?
A: Hmm. Good question! I’m split on my answer; I want to say Yes and No. When I hear star-ratings, I think Amazon because, to me, they’re synonymous with that system, although, I know they didn’t invent it. I think that, initially, the star-rating system was a good idea. Everyone was on the honor-system and made honest reviews based on their experience with a product. Negative reviews were valuable in letting potential customers avoid the same pitfalls previous customers had to deal with. Positive reviews could alert others to superior products and/or service. All seemed right in the world. However, as the system trudged along happily, someone got wise that others were gaming that system, using it to bash their competitors or, worse yet, fabricating false reviews that would benefit them, and those people alerted the rest of us. How could some dishonest people abuse the system like that, taking something we all had faith in only to pervert it to earn a buck? Well, that question is easy to answer: the world isn’t a fair place. Maybe I sound cynical; I am, to a degree. Call it wisdom or whatever you want. I’ve been around the block enough to know the score.
Q: How do you personally cope with bad reviews?
A: This is by far the simplest question for me to answer. I ignore bad reviews. Well, that’s not entirely true, provided it’s a constructive bad review. As I said before, if the reader is telling you something, you’d do well to listen and change what you’re doing if there’s sense in doing so. If it’s a negative review without any constructive advice (i.e., the reviewer is just being mean), I ignore it and continue on my way. Just remember the quote: “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” That sums up reviews, I think. And, if you do happen to receive a particularly nasty review, for God’s sake, don’t respond! That only makes you look like a self-centered ass.
Q: Do you believe that the publishing world is overcrowded?
A: Are you kidding? Why, hell yes it’s overcrowded! It should consist of just my stories! Okay, that was obviously me being facetious. I wouldn’t say, necessarily, that the publishing world is overcrowded. Instead, I’d say that the world of books has grown exponentially with the introduction of self-publishing as we know it today. Now, anyone can publish whatever they want; and, boy, have they! I think readers have a harder time searching for good books among the mountain of choices that’s out there; and it just keeps getting bigger. Coupled with nefarious authors who are abusing the rating system just to earn a buck, the process of finding a talented writer is even more difficult. But, on the flip-side of that, more and more talented writers can publish their books directly to readers, bypassing the gatekeepers of old who only squashed those writers’ dreams and denied the readers a chance to enjoy some truly fantastic stories. If anything, the amount of competition should fuel every writers’ desire to produce the absolutely best work (s)he can.
Q: What would make you put down a book straight away?
A: A sure-fire way to make me put a book down right away would be glaring, colossal spelling and/or grammatical errors. If I find plenty of those on the first page, then I can rest assured that the writer most likely doesn’t know what (s)he is doing. Therefore, I won’t bother wasting my time proceeding any further. Also, in a similar vein (although, I won’t necessarily stop reading the book), it bugs me to no end when I encounter common idioms and/or phrases that are used incorrectly. For instance, a writer might say, “The hell with that!” when it should read, “To hell with that!” Moreover, I commonly hear people say, “safety deposit boxes”, which is actually “safe-deposit boxes”. Of course, these are probably petty things that annoy me and don’t bother most other people. But still, they grate on my nerves like nails across a chalkboard. Writers are supposed to be wordsmiths and perpetuating these kinds of mistakes bothers me. And, I don’t mean to come across a grammar-Nazi; no one likes a know-at-all who points out others’ mistakes, so I try to keep these annoyances to myself. Well, until now, anyway.
Q: Personality or writing talent; which draws you to a writer?
A: Definitely writing talent, because, in the end, it’s always about the writing. However, to keep me coming back for more, the writer should have a friendly personality. Some readers don’t care one bit about the writer behind the stories, but I’m not one of those readers. Since I also write, I like to know something about the person creating what I read; I like to have something in common with that person. For instance, there is an up-and-coming author (traditionally published) who is an amazing writer. I read his first anthology when he gave it away on Amazon and was blown away by his storytelling. I decided to follow his blog posts. Unfortunately, this guy’s notoriety went to his head and he started boasted about how great of a writer he was. Needless to say, I stopped following him and reading any of his work. He might be a great storyteller, but once you become full of yourself and make it public, at least in my opinion, that is the kiss of death. I can’t read anything of his now without thinking of his over-sized ego. I think a good trait for a writer is to be humble. We all put our pants on one leg at a time, people. It’s not like we’re solving the secrets of the Universe.
Q: Are you a writer who is affected by writers block at all? How do you cope with it?
A: Ah, the question of writer’s block; I was wondering when this would come up. Honestly, I don’t really have a problem with writer’s block, at least, not in the traditional sense of the term. I mean, I’ve had plenty of obstacles crop up while writing a story that’s left me stymied, but I haven’t let it stop me from writing and I haven’t experienced the inability to write anything because the words simply wouldn’t come. If I’m working on a story and I hit a wall in the plot, I stop working on that story and start working on another (I’ve got plenty of stories in various stages because of this). While working on the latter story, my mind is off wondering how to circumnavigate the wall I encountered in the other. Eventually, I’ll hit a wall in the second story, leaving me an opportunity to return to the first with a fresh perspective. Typically, this is when I see a way around that first obstacle. If not, well, I begin writing a third story and the process continues. Hence, the reason I have so many stories in various stages. Also, I’ll admit that I keep an “idea file” handy. Mine is a Word document that is over a hundred pages long and more than sixty-thousand words long (at last count). It contains all of the story ideas I’ve had since I’ve started writing. When I’m at a loss for what to write next, I open it and sift through my chicken-scratching until something piques my interest. I’ll turn the idea over in my head until I feel enthusiastic about pursuing it. Once I’m motivated, I start writing. By doing this, I find that I’m always working on something. And, by working on something, I mean anything book related. It doesn’t matter if I’m designing book covers or thinking of quirks some characters might have in some distant story on the horizon, I’m usually thinking of something that will make its way into one of my stories. And, if I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. I’m through with trying to force myself to sit and write when I’m not motivated. That used to work for me when I was younger, but as I get older, it’s counter-productive. I think during those down-times it’s just my creative mind’s way of recharging. During those times I am usually doing something entirely different, like learning math.
Q: Is your family supportive of your work?
A: Sure. Although, they simply view it as a hobby. I mean, my day job is what pays the bills and provides for us. Now, should that change, I’m sure they would be even more enthusiastic about my writing. My wife is an English Professor, so she’s always willing to support my writing endeavors. Also, in my family, we tend to nurture any expression through art. I’d also like to give a shout out to my wife for her contribution to my work. She’s my first beta-reader. Ninety-eight percent of the time, she is the first person, other than me, who gets to read one of my stories, which means she gets to point out some of my really horrendous mistakes. Hopefully, readers will read my work with wonder and awe, but little do they know that what they’ve read, in its initial stages, was an ugly duckling. I owe a lot to my wife for helping me transform my work so it is presentable to the public. She’s the only one who has actually seen my writing at its absolute worst.
Q: If you could go back and tell your 21 year old self any piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Buy a ton of Apple stock! [Laughs] Geez, where do I start? I actually got a chance to entertain answers to this question while writing The Old Royal. There’s so many things I could do differently (or better) knowing what I know today. I guess the biggest would be to persuade myself to start reading and writing sooner since I didn’t start either until I was well into my thirties. I didn’t know what I had been missing until I sat down with a truly good book one day during my lunch break at work. I’m a little bit of ashamed to admit that, until then, I hated reading and/or writing. Most authors, it seems, say that they have been writing from a very early age. I can’t make that claim. I think writing is a great form for expressing one’s self about dealing with worldly situations. The more you read and write, the better you get at it. Also, improved writing skills come in handy in daily life, too.
J.R. McLemore’s latest book is called “The Old Royal”.
Anthony Jessup is a daydreamer who works at a dead-end help desk job. His greatest fantasy is to become a famous novelist like his idol, Roger Kurrey. However, Anthony’s stories receive more rejections than accolades from editors.
When Anthony receives an old Royal typewriter as a birthday gift, he soon learns that the typewriter is more than meets the eye. Armed with the ability to alter the past, Anthony realizes that he can fulfill his dreams. But, to do so comes at a cost.
If you could change the past, would you? If so, at what cost?
Get your copy right now!
Find out more about J.R at his official website and on the links below!
- Self-Publishing Update: My first day of official promotion (mradamsliterary.com)
- What Does It Take to be a Writer? (wordninjagirl.com)
- Vewy Vewy Scary (bluemonkeywriting.wordpress.com)
- Why do writers write? Over 100 published authors told Author’s Promoter why (prweb.com)
- A Few Thoughts on The Difficulties of Being a Writer Today (bobmust.wordpress.com)
- McLemore Means Magic: Nick Wale Meets J.R. (nickwale.org)
- Beta Reading (krgreen.co.uk)
- An author and the milestone of considering yourself a writer (crimsonleague.com)