Hi! I'm an Amazon best selling independent author. I've written and published three full-length fiction novels, with a fourth scheduled for release this summer. Also, I make a mean martini. Go on, ask me anything.

Brandon Zenner
Jul 17, 2018

In 2014, I published my first novel, The Experiment of Dreams. This summer, my fourth novel, Butcher Rising, will be released. I've been fortunate enough to make it on Amazon's bestseller list on several occasions. I organize everything from marketing, to editors, to cover design, to book launch. It's exhausting . . . 

My genres of choice range from psychological thrillers, crime, and dystopian. Currently, I'm working on the third installment of my post-apocalyptic series, The After War. Below are my book covers: 

On top of writing, I have almost two decades of experience bartending in a busy Irish bar (no, I'm not Irish myself). So go on, ask me about bar fights and drunkards . . . or how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. 

I'm active on most social media, so check out whatever you like. I'd love to see you there. If you sign up for my email list here: email list, you will receive my sci-fi short story, Helix Illuminated, for free!

My Website

My Blog

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn

Twitter

My Amazon Page

I'm here for you, so don't be shy. Ask me anything!

All the best, 

Brandon Zenner

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Is writing a novel a full time job? Typically, how long did it take you to write your novels? Is that when you learned to make a mean martini haha?
Jul 19, 9:55AM EDT0

Hello, 

Writing novels certainly can be a full time job, but I also work at a bar, where I've been bartending for over sixteen years. That's also where I learned to make a mean martini ... also, I drink them myself. 

Each book took a different amount of time. The After War took the longest. It was the first manuscript I wrote, yet the third published. It took me years. The Experiment of Dreams, my first published book, took about two years, from start to finish. Whisky Devils took about a year, and Butcher Rising took two years. However, I probably could have been done with Butcher Rising earlier, but I put the initial rough draft aside, and worked on a few other things (such as updating my kitchen, and building my wife a hair salon, which is now up and running). For future publications, I plan on a book a year, if everything goes well. One full season for the rough draft, two seasons for revisions, editing, and time spent away (which is crucial, so I can return with a fresh perspective), and then a season for preparation and release.

Thanks for the question!

Jul 19, 12:55PM EDT0
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a novelist? what are some tips for novice novelists?
Jul 19, 4:40AM EDT0

Hello, 

For me, it's not necessarily a rewarding feeling, but rather more of a calm, focused exhilaration that I feel while writing a rough draft that keeps me going. When the story is just flowing, coming out, the feeling is remarkable. The closest thing I can compare it to is watching a movie in your thoughts. Being able to create worlds, people, interactions, catastrophes, love, and death, is perhaps the most rewarding aspect. 

For a new writer, the first tip that comes to mind is to not stop. That sounds silly, but they have to understand that there is a 90% chance their first book won’t make any waves. Probably not even a ripple. They have to continue despite feeling despaired. 

The second tip, which I can’t stress enough, is to hire an editor. Or several. I'm a member of a few Facebook author groups, and I see it all the time, where a writer states that they are not hiring an editor. Sometimes they don’t think they need it. Or perhaps they don't have the funds, which is understandable. But most of the time it’s fear that they're not good enough anyway, so what's the point of hiring an editor? To them I say this: what's the point of releasing your book to the world, if you don’t have enough faith in it to make sure it's readable? One or two typos are ok, but more than likely, the book will be riddled with small problems. It's normal. Every book gets edited, and for good reason. Readers will see and call out problems in the book. More than likely, they'll stop reading after the second awkward sentence, and then write a scalding review. 

Thanks for the question!

Jul 19, 12:49PM EDT0
How much work entails to promote your books?
Jul 19, 1:19AM EDT0

Thanks for your question!

Hi there, 

Promoting and marketing are the hardest parts of writing a book, and the aspect that most independent authors struggle with, including myself. I've tried just about everything out there, from blog tours, to direct marketing, to large-scale giveaways. Some have been successful; many have not. 

At all times, I have several ads running through Amazon, which target specific readers. There are a few different ways that Amazon marketing works. You can choose a campaign that targets specific genres, or you can use your own keywords. The second choice seems to work the best for me. The problem is that to have an impactful marketing campaign, the more keywords you have the better, ranging into a few hundred per campaign. I use software called KDP Rocket, which formulates large lists of keywords based on a search. So, if I search for 'dystopian' I'll get dozens, if not hundreds of closely related keywords, like 'dystopian action,' etc., as well as a list of top selling authors and books in that genre. After I do several relevant searches, I export the data into Excel, then cut and paste each keyword into Amazon's marketing program. It's not a difficult process, but it's time consuming. 

I've used a few more expensive methods to reach large markets, such as NetGalley and BookBub. NetGalley offers your book for free to its extensive list of subscribers, many of whom are book store owners, librarians, bloggers, and avid readers. It is a well-known company, and just about every book out there from major publishing houses use their services. For me, I've had varying success. It will get a few, if not a dozen or more reviews on Amazon, but that is about it. They have varying levels of services, and the last time I used them I went all out, and purchased a large campaign. I was not happy with the results. All in all, they are expensive, and the ROI (return on investment) was not worth it. 

Now BookBub, they are amazing. What they do is email out a list of discount and bargain ebooks to their subscribers, which range in the millions. They are very restrictive of who they choose, and select less than 20% of submitted books. I have been fortunate that they have selected one of my novels several times, and on the day of my promotion I gave away anywhere between 20,000 - 40,000 copies of my ebook, for each campaign. What you get in return is a large spike in sales after the promotion, since your information is now active in the system, a large number of reviews, and tons exposure. They are a coveted company for every author and publisher. The problem is that they are so selective. 

It should be noted that both NetGalley and BookBub are completely free for readers to utilize, and offer great books either largely discounted or free. I subscribe to BookBub, and have purchased many books because of them. You can also follow specific authors, and if any of their books are on sale, you'll recieve a notification. 

Thanks for the question!

 

Jul 19, 11:25AM EDT0
When are you releasing the third installment of your post-apocalyptic series, The After War?
Jul 18, 3:27PM EDT0

Hello, 

Simple answer: after I write it ... Ha!

The second installment, Butcher Rising, is on pre-order now. I'm taking the rest of the summer off to spend time with my family, promote the new release, and help my wife out with her hair salon that she just opened (she's an amazing hairdresser, and owns a beautiful, edgy salon). 

My writing schedule as of now is to focus on new material in the winter, editing and proofing in the spring, and release in the summer. So I hope to have it out next summer or fall, if all goes well.

Thanks for your question!

Jul 18, 10:42PM EDT0
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Jul 18, 12:46PM EDT0

Hello, 

This is a good question. The first answer that comes to mind is simple: good storytelling. But that's something of a bad answer, so I'll try to go in-depth a bit. 

For me, I really like my characters to have their own voice. When I write, I might have something of a plan mapped out, but I'm something of a pantser. What that means is that I go by the seat of my pants when I write. The opposite of a pantser is a planner. George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame is also a pantser. So when I start to write my rough draft, it's almost like I'm not writing it at all, but letting my characters tell the tale. It's like watching a movie play out in my head (a really, really long movie, that goes on for months). It's actually quite an awesome feeling. I try not to restrict what my characters say and do as the story goes on, and that method seems to work for me, and lets the story flow as it should. This method doesn't work for everyone. Just look at Ken Follett. That guy plans his books out to the T, and his finished results are amazing. Great storytelling. 

Another aspect of good writing that I feel is important is to have your own voice, but don't think that the laws of grammar are beneath you. They are important, and will convey the story so that the reader can follow and enjoy. 

Lastly, have an editor ... or two ... or three. Do not skip this step. In the end, the prose must be as polished and perfect as possible. 

There are more elements of good writing that I can expand upon, feel free to ask another in-depth question.

Jul 18, 10:36PM EDT0
Did you find it more challenging to write the first book of your post-apocalyptic series, or to write the subsequent novels?
Jul 18, 1:10AM EDT0

Hi Mark, 

I guess that would depend on your definition of challenging. Both presented different challenges, on different scales. The first book, titles The After War, took me a long time to write. It was actually the first book I wrote a rough draft for, over eight years ago. The fist draft wasn't what I wanted, so feeling a bit depressed, I put it aside, and wrote what would become my first published novel, The Experiment of Dreams. While The Experiment was being edited, I sat down and wrote a completely new rough draft of The After War from scratch. At the time, it was title Chaos. It turned out way better the second time around. I was initially loathing to prospect of writing a second rough draft from scratch, but honestly, it was one of the most pleasurable experiences of my writing career. I missed the characters, and seeing them come to life as I envisioned was awesome. While The After War was being edited, I wrote the rough draft of my second published novel, Whiskey Devils. That book is pretty short, about 180 pages, so I went back and forth from The After War and Whiskey Devils, working on one while the other got edited or proofread. Whiskey Devils was finished first, and then I focused strictly on The After War. It's a much longer book, just short of 500 pages, so it took awhile. It's also something of my baby, since I had the initial concept way before any of my other novels, back when I was sixteen.

Now, the sequel, Butcher Rising, was stressful because I had to live up to the potential of The After War, and make a story that the readers will like. I hope they like it. It hasn't been released yet, only on pre-order. I gave out some complementary copies to my readers just last week, so we'll see. It was difficult navigating how the story should pick up after the first book finished. I struggled with that a lot, until one night, when right before I fell asleep, I had a clear concept of how the book should begin, and the way the story should unfold. It isn't necessarily a strict continuation of events, but rather follows the footsteps of the bad guys in the first book, whereas The After War followed the good guys. In the end, I made it so that the reader can start with either book and not be lost—although I recommend that they read The After War first. 

So to answer your question, the first book was difficult because it took years—decades—to properly tell the story. The second book was difficult because I wanted the reader to feel they are still in the world of The After War, and like the continuation of event. 

In short: they were both challenging, but for different reasons. 

Thanks for the question; it was a good one, and made me think.

Jul 18, 10:24PM EDT0
When you began writing, was there a certain message or theme you wanted to communicate?
Jul 17, 11:02PM EDT0

Hi there, 

It's interesting that you are asking about when I first began writing, compared to now. 

Besides from conveying the story, plot, and character development, I can’t say that there is a specific message or theme that I wanted to communicate. For my first novel, The Experiment of Dreams, I had an underlying notion toward water throughout the book. I would describe things as flowing, or symbolic of currents, rivers, streams, etc. I'm not sure why ... I just liked for there to be an elemental background, and water was the right fit for a man slowly going insane. That is something I still do in my books, have descriptions and synonyms symbolic of earth's elements. Again, it’s not because I want to convey a certain message, but it is an underlying theme.

Thanks for the question! 

 

Last edited @ Jul 18, 4:28PM EDT.
Jul 18, 4:27PM EDT0
How do you think psychological thrillers' literature will continue to evolve?
Jul 17, 7:35PM EDT0

Hello, 

I hope that psychological thrillers will continue to evolve much like science fiction—always trying to be one step ahead of the reader. Of course it's different when the story is not scientific, but my point remains the same that future best selling psychological thrillers will have to be fresh, new concepts. 

For my novel, The Experiment of Dreams, I developed a new technology called Lucy—a machine that can record dreams in extreme detail. I have plans for future novels, with new technology blending into the storyline to make the psychological aspect something that is new and never before seen. I think that atleast for myself, that will keep my novels evolving along with my readers.

Thanks for the question!

Jul 17, 8:38PM EDT0
What attracted you to the dystopian genre as a storyteller?
Jul 17, 6:18PM EDT0

Hello, 

Well, I've always been interested in history, especially in warfare like World War II, so setting a dystopian background is kind of like telling the story of a future that has not yet happened. For The After War series, I got the initial idea when I was sixteen. It was just a portion of the final story, and it took years to develop. I had already plotted out the rough draft when I read books like The Stand, The Road, and the more science fiction set dystopian novel, Wool. It was like a shinning moment, realizing that other people like this genre too. 

What I like about a dystopian environment is that it makes me have to think hard, and try to put myself in the shoes of my characters, and decipher how I would react if I were them, in the same situation. 

I'm not limiting myself to dystopian, but I find it fascinating, and makes for great story telling. Writing fiction, in general, is like being able to watch a great movie play out in my thoughts, and have zero restrictions.

Thanks for the question!

 

Jul 17, 8:33PM EDT0
How do you strike a balance between world building and grounding the story in character development?
Jul 17, 4:18PM EDT0

Hi there, 

Good question. It can vary from story to story, but at the font and center of most of my books are the people and characters. I try to let them tell the story and describe the feel of the world through dialogue and actions. Although, I admit, I am guilty of over explaining scenes once in a while.

Although many of my towns and cities are fictional, most are based on real locations, at least in part. And many towns and cities are completely real. I am fortunate to have done a good amount of traveling, and destinations are important in my stories. I also think it makes the reader relate more to my stories when I explain locations that they have either been to or know about. The dry and colorful deserts of the southwest; the lush mountains of Montana; the congested thoroughfare of the east coast. In my book, The Experiment of Dreams, I have several scenes set in Paris, and I used this paragraph below to illustrate the main characters emotions at seeing. hearing, and smelling the heart of the city as he exited a cab:

The driver stopped the car before the hotel and spoke to Iain Marcus, who happened to speak fluent French, and got out to retrieve their luggage from the trunk. The sounds of the city flooded in: the mumble of words and laughter coming from the nearby bistros along the sidewalk; the cars speeding by on the rond-point; horns blaring; music emanating from somewhere, everywhere. It was indecipherable to Ben, a jumble of noise as thick as soup, and yet beautiful and poetic. He stepped out of the taxi and into the heart of Paris. The air was alive, electric, as smooth and delicious as the fluidity of the French language itself.

I always liked this description. It gives a feeling of the city through the senses of the character. In this example, I let the character explain the world, instead of me just telling the reader. 

Thanks for your question!

Jul 17, 8:26PM EDT0

How do you feel about Cyberpunk stories? Have you considered making a story like that?

Jul 17, 3:14PM EDT0

Hello, 

Although I haven't read much (or any) cyberpunk, I do vey much enjoy a lot of cyberpunk movies and shows. I just recently watched the new Blade runner, and it's excellent. And just this past winter, the series Altered Carbon came out on Netflix. It was awesome. 

I can't say for sure whether I will or will not ever write a cyberpunk novel, but at the moment I don't have any plans for it. The closest thing I have written to cyberpunk is my short story, Helix Illuminated, which is about a futuristic hacker. It was published in a Princeton run newspaper a few years back, and now I use it for my email list. If you sign up, you get it for free: Click here to sign up -I have been planning on developing it further in segments, but I haven't put anything else out yet. Maybe it will become a novel. 

Thanks for the question!

Jul 17, 8:13PM EDT0
How many more books are you planning for your After Wars series? Did you always have in mind to write a saga?
Jul 17, 6:42AM EDT0

Hello,

When I first started The After War, I had no idea where it would take me. It was a book that I got the idea for at sixteen, and began writing several times in my twenties. Once the story became more ironed out in my thoughts, and I had written and re-written a rough draft, I realized that I had a potential series on my hands. I left the ending somewhat open to the idea of a continuation, and about a year after it was released, I decided to write the second book. 

Right now, I think one more book will end the series. So three books in total. However, I can see future novels taking place in the same world as The After War. In fact, if you look at all of my books closely, there are subtle similarities. Certain characters and objects reappear. I can see writing another dystopian novel with a brand new set of characters and plot. I have an idea for one already. 

Thanks for the question!

Jul 17, 10:57AM EDT0
What does it take to be considered a best-selling independent author? How many books have you sold so far? Where is the secret to your success?
Jul 17, 6:34AM EDT0

Hello, 

To be considered best selling you have sell a certain amount of books in a time frame to make your book rise in the charts. Each and every book genre will have varying degrees of competition, so a best selling author in romance would have to sell a different number than science fiction. I've made it to the bestseller charts three or four times, that I know of. It's the same as being a New York Times bestseller, whereas once you make it on the charts you can use it for marketing purposes forever. 

I'm not sure on the exact number of books I've sold. About 90% of my sales are ebooks. Following several large marketing events, where I gave away giant sums of my ebooks to gain exposure (all together, over the years, I've given away something in the realm of 100,000 copies), I've sold several hundred ebooks in the day or two following. Big spikes like that are how I got onto the bestseller list.

I think the best thing an independent author can do to be successful is be active in marketing and be present with their readers. Do blogs, email lists, write Facebook posts. That sort of thing. However, even more important than marketing, is to simply keep on writing. New material is the key to getting new readers and keeping your old ones. It's crucial to not give up just because the first book didn't become a best seller over night, or even after a year. It usually takes many books before an author gets recognition. 

Thanks for the question!

Jul 17, 10:50AM EDT0
Why do you think dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres have gained so much popularity in the last decade?
Jul 17, 6:26AM EDT0

Hi there, 

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure, but I have a few guesses. I think post-apocalyptic books have always been popular. If you take a look back, books like The Stand or The Road have been well received. The end of the world as we know it is a real possibility, so I think people are intrigued on how it might go down.

The current political state in the US is also a factor. We saw 1984 jump to number one on Amazon right after the last election. This helped shed light on other books in the same or similar genres.

Thanks for the question! 

Jul 17, 10:32AM EDT0
How do you make a mean martini? Can you share the recipe?
Jul 16, 5:15PM EDT0

Hello, 

Funny you should ask! I just happen to be drinking one right now. Seriously. 

Okay, let's talk martini. 

This is by far the one drink that my customers tell me they can't make for themselves. And it's one of the easiest. So let's start with ingredients and tools, and I'll share a few bartender tricks along the way. I'm going to cut out specific measurements, because I think it only confuses things. 

You will need:

1) Martini glass (preferably with a stem. I'll explain later).

2) Gin or vodka

3) Dry vermouth

4) Olive, twist, and/or olive juice (if you like it dirty)

5) Ice

6) Shaker and strainer, or just a sixteen ounce glass

7) Straw, or something round to stir. 

Now, take your martini glass and fill it to the brim with ice. Top with water and set aside. We use club soda at the bar, because it melts the ice quicker and chills the glass faster. You can use either; water will just take longer. I don't recommend freezing your glass, because the condensation can water down the drink. 

Add ice to the rim of the shaker glass, and pour in about a tablespoon of vermouth. Just a splash. Now use the strainer and dump out all of the vermouth. You just want it to coat the cubes. Too much vermouth is way overpowering, and makes most people who have had a martini made this way think they don't want vermouth in their drink at all. I suggest you add just a little. All it does is cut the sharpness of the alcohol. 

Now that we have our vermouth covered ice, pour the alcohol of choice to the top of the ice. Nine times out of ten, eyeing it out this way will pour right to the rim of a traditional six to seven ounce martini glass. Like I said, dont bother measuring things out exactly. I've never done that once, and I've made thousands and thousands of martinis. But if you really want to, add about five ounces.

Now for the stirring. Have you ever seen one of these weird spoons behind a bar:

It's swirled so that you can stir the martini without chipping the ice. However, it was invented well before the plastic straw. A round straw will stir your cocktail perfectly. 

Stir until you see condensation on the outside of the shaker glass. Then stir for another minute or so. Do NOT shake. I repeat: DO - NOT - SHAKE. James Bond was wrong. Shaking oxidizes the alcohol, called bruising, and will affect the flavor. Vodka doesn't get as impacted as gin or whiskey does, so you can get away with it, but I still suggest you stir instead of shake. 

Now dump the ice out of the martini glass, strain, and garnish. If you are going to use a twist, actually twist the lemon rind inside the glass prior to pouring the alcohol, so the oils spray the interior. 

Variations:

Pour about an ounce of olive juice for a dirty martini. I like it with just a splash. In this case, you can skip the vermouth. The olive juice will overpower it. 

Add a cocktail onion for a garnish and you have what is called a Gibson. These are rare these days. I've made about four in my sixteen plus year’s bartending. 

In my experience, vodka has been and still is more popular than gin, although gin was the original spirit. By about twenty to one. Dirty and straight, dry (which means no or little vermouth) are about equal in popularity. 

The real key, and what I think most people do wrong at home, is not have the patience to chill their glass and stir the alcohol thoroughly. Cold, cold, cold, cold — cold, is key. Which brings me back to the stem on the martini glass: it's so you don't touch the sides with your fingers and warm the drink. 

Thanks for the question! I think I'll have another drink …

 

Jul 16, 8:42PM EDT0
What challenges have you faced as an author and how did you over come them?
Jul 13, 8:11AM EDT0

Hello, 

There are many challenges, but I think the one that is always the most pressing is finding the time to write. I know that may not seem like a challenge, but writing a book takes a significant amount of time and discipline. Then once you throw in working another job, raising a child, having to mow the lawn once a week ... you get it. And once I start on a project I dont like be away from it for anything longer than a day or two, so the story remains fresh in my mind

From the start, even well before I made any money at all from my books, I decided to treat it like any other job, and dedicate a specific allotment of time per day or week toward it. Many writers like to have a word count minimum for the day. I tried that once or twice, but I found it better to have a time allowance. Luckily, my wife has always supported this idea, and treats my time in the office similarly to me being off to work. And now that my daughter is in school, my schedule has to coincide with hers. I like to start early, 5-6 am, and finish around 12:00. Then I work out or go for a run, which gives me time to digest the writing I have just completed and where I would like it to go the next day. This part is critical. Being alone, doing something like running, is sort of like a meditation session, where I get to come up with ideas. I used to make model ships too, which also allotted me time to think about my projects, but as of now, I dont have the time …

This is one of many challenges, and I would be happy to expand on anything if you would like to ask another question. 

Thanks for the question!

 

Jul 16, 8:10PM EDT0
Where do you get inspiration for your books? What do you think is the reason behind the endearment readers have towards your books?
Jul 13, 7:26AM EDT0

Hi, 

Inspiration comes from so many sources that it's hard to pinpoint. Back when I was sixteen, I used to go to a park with my friends after school. I got the initial idea for a story then, which, fast-forward over twenty years, became The After War. I still go to that park every now and again, and I find that walking the trails is a good way to clear my mind. When I was writing the rough draft for The After War, I would go for a run right after I finished writing for the day, and it would help me out with the next chapters to come. Meditation was also an important aspect of my life then, and it helped me clear my thoughts and focus on the story.

The initial idea behind Whiskey Devils came to me when I was in my early twenties, taking a month long road trip with my friends. I clearly saw my two main characters, Evan Powers and Nick Grady, and the bond they shared. The story still took years to fully develop, but the seed was planted just from simply gazing out the window as we drove across the US. 

The Experiment of Dreams, my first published novel, came to me as a dream. I was finishing the rough draft for The After War, and needed to take a long break. In the meantime, I started typing out what I thought was going to be a short story. The plot started taking off on its own, and several months later, I was publishing my first novel. 

I look for inspiration in everyday occurances. A lot of the time, with smaller nuances, what inspires me is also what causes endearment with the reader.

Let me explain. 

For example, right after I had my daughter, when she was just a baby, my wife and I went to my parent’s house for dinner. My wife was gently swaying, rocking my daughter, and my mom said something about how after all the years, the feeling of rocking a baby comes back in a flash. It's something that never goes away. She sees a baby, and the feeling of swaying reassuringly comes to her like an inherent feeling. That struck me. I knew then that at some point in one of my books, a mother would mention how the feeling of rocking a child overwhelmed her. It's such a basic human trait and one that many people can relate to.

So, as a partial answer to why many readers feel endearment toward my books, is that at the heart of my stories are the people. The character. They are front and center. I try to make them as realistic as possible, and when I write their stories, I let them come fully to life and dictate their own speech. I don’t force dialogue, but rather let it flow naturally.

Thanks for the question! 

Jul 14, 2:26PM EDT0
Publishing has proven a challenge for many rising authors, what would your advice be for those thinking of giving up?
Jul 13, 6:58AM EDT0

Hello, 

This is perhaps the most cliché piece of advice I’m going to give, but it's also the truth—just keep on writing. I know that sounds way easier than it is. It's intimidating when you view publishing a book from start to finish as a whole; envision all of the things that need to get accomplished before it's ready for publication. It's dizzying. The best way to approach it is one day at a time, and focus on what needs to be done at that moment, not two months from now. Writing and publishing is a slow process. 

I made a big mistake when I published my first novel, by releasing it prematurely. It was a huge learning curve for me, and the book needed a more professional cover, a properly formatted file, and a quick final proofread. I did things way wrong at first. I distinctly remember getting home from my bartending job around four AM, and giving my one month year old daughter her late night bottle. I was stressed out, and sat on the couch with her as she drank (and then she also threw up on my, I recall ...), and deeply considering throwing in the towel and giving up writing. But then I had a change of heart, and used my daughter for inspiration. I had to continue writing for her. For her future. I finished my next book, Whiskey Devils, while she was still an infant. I wrote it during her nap times, and then dedicated the book to her. 

Writing and publishing is hard ... stressful ... all to easy to give up. But you have to suck it up and just continue writing. This isn't a perfect quote, but I remember reading Stephen King's novel, On Writing, right before I wrote my first manuscript. I had been putting off writing for years. His line was something like this: "Just sit down and write ..." That's not exactly it, but basically he was saying to get out of your own head, and sit at the computer and write. Stop making excuses. Stop worrying about the first line, or the first paragraph. Don't think about the future or the past. Just keep going. After reading that book, I wrote my first manuscript. It was terrible. I could have easily given up, but I decided to move on. I put that book aside, and I wrote another manuscript, which would become my first novel, The Experiment of Dreams. Later, I returned to my first, terrible manuscript, and rewrote it from scratch. That book became The After War, and is currently selling better than the rest. I could have given up when that first five hundred-page manuscript turned out poorly, but I didn't, and people are really enjoying that book. 

Thanks for the question!

Jul 14, 12:23PM EDT0

What do you enjoy more, bartending or writing? If you were to give up one, which one would you walk away from and why?

Jul 13, 2:00AM EDT0

Hello, 

Although it seems strange to most people when that hear this, I've made something of a career out of bartending. I've been doing it for a long time, and it took years to climb the ranks from waiter, to floor manager, to bar-back, to full time bartender. The job has paid for two houses, countless vacations, and a retirement account. That being said, on a deeper level, writing is much more satisfying. 

Since my bartending job is only at night, it has offered me the opportunity to write during the mornings and day, when my mind is at its peak. It has also offered me the opportunity to spend more quality time with my daughter, and it works well with my wifes schedule. On days that we both work, I have my daughter during the day, and my wife takes over at night. 

However, getting back to your question, bartending nightshifts takes its toll on my mind and body after all these years. It's a fast paced job and more physical than most people realize. Plus, I don’t get to bed until well after four AM. So, in short, one day I plan on giving up bartending. Maybe a few years from now. 

Thanks for the question!

Jul 14, 11:58AM EDT0

Were your books a hit from the moment you released them or was there a point you wondered if you were wasting your time writing? How did you move from a little-known author to a best seller in Amazon?

Jul 12, 11:41PM EDT0

Hello, 

My first book was definitely not a hit right when it came out. It took a long time to make it on the bestseller list, and even that is a fleeting occurrence. It's constantly a struggle, and I did contemplate giving up many times right after I put out my first book. The key is to continue pushing yourself. It sounds obvious, but it's true. Going the independent route, it's almost impossible to be successful with only one book out. You have to keep writing, over and over, and keep putting material out there. The times I made it onto the bestseller list were usually after a big promotion, such as using BookBub, who are highly selective, and don't promote just anyone. I've been fortunate for them to have selected one of my books on several occasions, and they help remarkable. I've done some free promotions, giving away free copies of my ebook to gain exposure, and they distributed over 40,000 copies of my book. Within hours. They have helped a lot with my success.

Thanks for the question!

Jul 13, 2:22PM EDT0
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