Indie Author of the Month – Mick Williams

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well. I have not blogged myself for a while due to all the guest posts I was lucky enough to receive for the pandemic collection. More on that another day! I’ve also neglected to highlight any indie authors lately too, but I’m putting that right today with a special interview. Mick Williams is an author I’ve followed for some time on social media and recently I had the pleasure of reading his latest book, Final Clearance. Mick must be the most versatile author I have come across, with romantic comedies, mysteries, action and adventure and more all under his belt. He is well worth checking out for that reason alone. You are sure to find something that appeals to you. Here he tells us all about his new book, (a dark comedy about a serial killer with a heart) his writing process, proudest moments and what to expect from him next! Enjoy!

1. You seem to be a very versatile author – what genres have you written in so far?

I think I’ve covered most of them! Some of my books seem to be a combination of genres, which makes it difficult to categorise, so it’s probably easier to say that I haven’t tackled historical drama, auto-biography or, as my sister would say, witty-woo stories!! Everything else is probably in at least one of my books. Every one of them has a sprinkle of romance, tons of action and humour and a strong female character.

2. Is there any genre you wouldn’t consider trying and if so, why not?

Yep – witty woo. My Mum reads my books and I’d never dare show my face if she read something overly racy in one of them. I think I’m still her little angel. All of my books have at least a sprinkling of romance in them, and some of my characters might get sexy ideas, but I tend to steer away from being graphic with that stuff and let the readers use their imagination. They probably have a much better time that way, anyway.

3. What comes to you first, the characters or the plot?

This has worked both ways (and a few others, too). For A Reason to Grieve, I had the Doris character in mind from the get-go and wanted to work her into the story. She’s still one of my favourite characters. The Old Farts Club is based on a group of men I saw sitting in a fast-food restaurant one morning: a group of military veterans ranging from men well into their sixties, to a forty-something. They had to have a story (Exodus) and have now become their own series! Location is also something that gives me ideas. The forest in Whatever it Takes is here in Kentucky and loads of the scenes in Exodus came from a trip to Jamaica.

4. Do you imagine what audience would like your book before or after you write it?

Honestly, neither! Writing in different genres is probably holding me back, in that I’m not able to promote myself in one particular area, but all of my books have plenty of action, twists, comedy and a touch of romance. I’d like to think that the people that read my books now come to expect that but, truthfully, I write what comes to mind and hope that people like it.

5. Where did the idea for Final Clearance come from?

I got tired of reading ‘write what you know’ and finally considered what I know! I’ve worked and trained in retail and customer service for decades and thought about that. Then, I saw a video of an obnoxious woman berating and insulting a store worker who, fearing for her job, just stood there and took the abuse. Chances are that the same meeting in a bar or a car park would have resulted in the woman getting a bloody nose! Brody takes it a step further (well, a few steps!) but it served to set him up as a conflicted good guy who can’t stand bad guys and resolves to do something about it. Going back to question three, I bought a sofa in a store like Brody’s, and the location for the end of the book is about a mile from where I live.

6. How did you come up with a complex character like Brody Coulson?

Bit by bit! I didn’t want a stereotypical ‘nice guy turned evil’ kind of character. Brody is just a regular man working a job he doesn’t enjoy, whose patience runs out and he impulsively does something bad. To balance his bad deeds, I needed him to be a caring soul too, which is where Javier and Anita come in. I’d like to think we’re all trying to ‘do our part’ for the people around us, and I thought it would be fun to have a character that would do that – only to extremes. How would he justify murder, and how would he go from killing someone to going home to babysit a ten-year old?

7. What is the hardest part of writing a book for you?

Finding the time – I don’t know how you do it! I still work a full-time job and have a family, so it’s a hard balancing act to accommodate everything. The only way I manage it is to create time and write when I can, which is not conducive to continuity!! There are times I have to re-read what I’ve previously written before I can get going again. I also go back and forth between completely outlining a story and just writing to see what happens, and I spend way too much time procrastinating and trying to decide what to do! I think (or at least hope) that I’ve managed to get my stories told either way with some degree of success.

8. What is the easiest part of writing a book?

The Words. Once I manage to sit and write, the words normally come easily. Some days I can hammer out a couple of chapters and actually have them make sense.

9. What methods do you employ to market your books?

Not enough. Marketing is my downfall. Every time I complete another book, I tell myself that this will be the one I promote properly – blog tours, interviews, signings (at least in the ‘old world’), ad campaigns, emails. Then, I sit down and write the next one instead. Book number eight is with my publisher as I type this, and I’ve just released Final Clearance, and it seems as if I’m releasing them into the ether since, if I don’t let people know they’re there, no one is going to read them. It’s a frustrating vicious circle, and the part of this whole writing malarky that I don’t particularly enjoy. I have an author website (www.mickwilliamsauthor.com) which my much more talented son takes care of. I intend to start a blog on it to give readers something new to look at, and I promise I’ll get to it. After this. Or the next thing! I also have a Facebook page (also Mick Williams author) which I don’t interact with anywhere often as I should, and I also have an Instagram page which has the wrong name on it! I’ve given up with Twitter since, in the few months I had it, it got hacked four times.

10. Where do your ideas usually come from?

Everywhere. I have too many ideas and too little time. As I mentioned earlier, a location can be enough to give me an idea, or an overheard conversation. I read Wired magazine and generally get a few ideas out of every one of those. The most unusual event to give me a solid idea was a dream. I once woke at around three in the morning, fresh from a dream, and jotted down almost the entire plot for Callie’s Eyes – I even had her name and her family. If that could happen once every few months, I’d be able to retire and just write!

11. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so, how do you tackle it?

Not writer’s block, as such, but I do sometimes reach a point in a scene where I’m not sure where to go next. When this happens, I either save my progress so far and attempt a different scene that I can add later or, if the sun is shining, I’ll go for a walk and mull it over. That’s helped me a few times. And back when I was young and healthy, way back, I’ve gone to the gym and done the same thing. It’s weird how stepping aside to do something else will let my mind wander and get me back to where I need to be.

12. Are you inspired by any particular books, films or TV shows?

To my detriment, yes. I’ve watched plenty of TV where something will happen that triggers an idea that I want to write RIGHT NOW, and I have to fight the urge and just make a note that I may get back to in the future (although it never seems to burn as bright by then). Reading books, to me, is writer homework. I love to read, and it’s another time sapping habit that takes away from the writing time. I’ve read Stephen King’s books since I was a teenager, and love all but one of his stories (I tried and tried to get into Delores Claiborne), but I find that, when I sit to write, his voice is still in my head and I end up writing in his style. I don’t realise it until I read back what I’ve written, and it’s glaringly obvious and I have to go back and rewrite it!

13. What are you working on next?

Two things at the moment, both sequels. My best reviewed book is A Reason to Grieve. It was my first story and I love the characters. I didn’t write it with a view to making it a series, but the characters have never left me so I’m about halfway through A Reason to Breathe, which picks up a few months after the first book ended. One of these days, I’m hoping to add a third, A Reason to Leave, to round out the story and give the characters some closure.

I’m also a few thousand words into the next Old Farts Club story. The first, Exodus, was well received and the second, Dark Target, is with my publisher right now awaiting edits. The third will be another stand-alone story with the same group of characters, and I have a vague outline for number four in that series that I keep dipping into. As I said – not enough time!

14. Do you have a favourite character from your books, if so who and why?

I’ve already mentioned Doris from A Reason to Grieve. As much as I love her, I think all the characters in that book are likeable; probably why I’m going back to them. The banter between them still makes me smile.

The same can be said for the guys in The Old Farts Club. I think that, by the time I reach the end of a book, I get to love all my characters. It’s like they’re my children, but I’m sharing them with the world – if that’s not too weird!

Callie from Callie’s Eyes is a lovely person, and I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cory and Ashley in Whatever it Takes. Hope and Charlie from Hope’s Game are two characters that really intrigue me, and that book was left with an open ending that will be revisited in the future. And Paul and Sabrina from A Guy Walks into a Bar also fascinate me, so much so that I have an idea for A Girl Walks into a Bar which will bring them back against some old adversaries. Again, I just enjoy the chemistry they share, it’s infectious and a lot of fun.

And then there are Brody and Javier from Final Clearance – they’re like my new-borns! They’re only a few months old, so they’re still dear to me. That being said, I THINK their story is told. But, you never know.

15. What’s been your proudest writing moment so far?

I’m fortunate to have a few.

Collaborating with my dear friend, Craig Ostrouchow, on a book (Hope’s Game) and releasing something I’m very proud of that did justice to a vision he created.

Winning the Imadjinn Best Thriller Novel award for Exodus- my first award, that sits by my laptop to remind me that I really can do this!

And every time I open the box of a set of new books. The thrill of seeing months of work formed into an actual book that other people can read never gets old.

If my answers have intrigued you, please stop by on Facebook, or at my website http://www.mickwilliamsauthor.com and say hello! If you mention this interview, I’ll be honoured to send you a free e-book version of either A Reason to Grieve or Callie’s Eyes.

For news and incredibly infrequent and non-rambling emails (see above answer on marketing!) sign up on the contact page, it really would be lovely to hear from you.

And thank you, Chantelle, for giving me this opportunity – it’s been fun!

A huge thank you to Mick Williams for agreeing to the interview! His links are below if you are interested in his books and as he mentioned above, if you contact him and mention reading this interview, he’ll send you a free ebook!

https://mickwilliamsauthor.com/index.php/about/

https://www.facebook.com/mickwilliamsauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/13254873.Mick_Williams

The Temptation to Do Nothing

No one ever said that being an indie author would be easy. It’s not. It’s hard work and I made my peace with that a long time ago. I never expected to sell thousands or even hundreds of books. I’ve always reminded myself that to sell anything at all is a massive achievement, and I still believe that.

Over the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had a bumpy ride, full of highs and lows, expectations and dreams, disappointments and achievements. Again, I remind myself when I feel thwarted, or dispirited, to look back and see how far I have come. And it works. Mostly. I do sell books every month. I have never had a month without sales since I started in 2013.

Every now and then though, I feel the need to stop, take stock of what’s going on, what’s bothering me or making me anxious, and do nothing. I don’t mean stop writing. I could never do that. If there is one thing I am certain of it’s that I will never ever stop writing and releasing books. I’m desperately addicted to writing, it’s who I am, it saves me on a daily basis, makes life worth living, fulfills me in so many ways, and allows me to release what is inside of me. I love it, and if you follow this blog, you will know that.

It’s trying to sell books that I often consider quitting. Trying to sell books is stressful. Without money, it’s almost impossible. I feel I have worked really hard over the years to build my author platform. Building up this blog, my facebook author page, Instagram, newsletters, you name it. Writing articles for Authors Publish and more. There is nothing I have not tried. Nothing free anyway.

And I guess, to some extent it works. I get sales every month. Some months are better than others and I can never work out how or why. No one ever said that selling books was easy either.

I’ve seen so many indie authors quit over the years. Announce they are closing their blog or their Facebook page, that it’s too hard and they can’t justify the time and effort anymore. I get that totally. But that will never be me, not while I still have so many books lined up to write.

Selling books is hard if you are naturally an introvert. You’re drawing attention to yourself. You’re saying, hey look at me! Look over here! Buy my books! You’re sending out free copies with your newsletter. You’re offering people ARC copies of upcoming releases. You’re contacting reviewers and bloggers for help. You’re messaging friends and relatives to see if they’re interested. You’re setting up street teams and asking for help. Introverts do not like asking for help. Introverts will do everything themselves and then cry about it. There’s a martyr inside every one of us, I swear.

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It makes us uncomfortable. And then come the rejections. Of course, you’re used to rejection if you’re a writer. You’ve got the scars from endless rejections from agents and publishers. You put on your big girl pants and went solo. Became an indie. Fab stuff. Only now there’s no one to help you, you have to force yourself to be brave, day in, day out. Put on a big professional sunny convincing smile when really you just want to climb under your duvet and hide.

I’ve had a lot of disappointments lately. I’m not going to go into them, because I really don’t want this to be a pity party. I hate it when authors moan on social media about being an author and not getting sales. I don’t want to be that person. This isn’t really about sales either. This is about being tired.

I’m tired of doing everything I can only to have it not make an impact. I’m tired of giving away free books that people don’t then review. I’m tired of the expense of sending out paperbacks that people don’t then review. I’m tired of asking and hoping and suggesting that people share my posts, comment, read or review. I’m tired of feeling like I am wasting my time. I’m tired of sharing my books on Twitter and Facebook when I know there is no point. Every time my finger hovers over the share button I’m so tempted to do nothing. And every now and again I let it win and I go with the temptation to do nothing and I hide away I write my books and my blogs and my poems and I hide away from sharing and trying to sell.

Maybe it does me some good every now and then to have a little retreat from the business of selling and just focus on the writing. I am so tempted to do that again right now. But then I feel guilty about my books, and I so want people to read them, I don’t want to quit or be a quitter. Maybe I just need a rest. A chance to refuel and come back stronger.

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Because if you don’t try, you can’t fail. There’s nothing to lose. But if you do try, and try and try, then you have to deal with the inevitable disappointments. It’s tempting not to try, believe me. And I’ve been here before. I didn’t try to publish my books until I was in my mid-thirties. All those years I wasted because I was too afraid of failure to even try. I got over that somehow, and I’ve moved on. But there it is again, the urge to do nothing. If my books don’t sell, it’s because I’m not trying and that’s easier to deal with.

But then I got thinking and I remembered a quote from a song that I once decided would look good on my gravestone. This is the full quote;

Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut,
Not everyone was born to be a king,
Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury,
But everyone can raise their glass and sing.
Well I haven’t always been a perfect person,
Well I haven’t done what mum and dad had dreamed,
But on the day I die, I’ll say at least I fucking tried.
That’s the only eulogy I need,
That’s the only eulogy I need.

(Eulogy, by Frank Turner)

It struck a chord with me the first time I heard it, and I laughed and joked that I’d have those words on my headstone. At least I fucking tried…

Some days that doesn’t feel like enough.

Other days, calmer days, sunnier days, it really, really does.

Because it’s pretty fucking brave to keep trying.

It would be so much easier to quit. And I’m going to have those days. I’m always going to have those days. I’m going to wallow in it some days. I’m going to cry about it on others. I’m going to seethe and fret and grumble and moan. Mostly to myself. I’m always going to have days where self-doubt gets it claws into me and won’t let go. I’m going to hear those voices in my head that have been with me for so long…you’re rubbish, you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re a joke…

But that’s okay. That’s being human. Deep inside, we all want attention, we want validation, we want to know what we’re doing is worthwhile and appreciated, and when we don’t quite get that, we turn on ourselves pretty viciously.

But I suppose the thing is to let those days run their course, as they will do, again and again, but then come out of the other side and just keep going. Just keep doing it anyway. Because at least you can say you gave it your best. So for now at least, for me, it’s business as usual. The temptation to do nothing has not won.

My 2017 Writing Goals Vs The Reality

This is becoming a bit of an end of the year tradition for me now. Having outlined my goals for the year ahead, as that year draws to end, how did I do? How much did I achieve? Time to have a look at the goals I set myself at the start of 2017 and examine the reality!

  1. Finish the first draft of my current work-in-progress A Song For Bill Robinson (literally days away from this now!) – Yes! I achieved this and a lot more. A year ago this gritty YA novel was days away from the completion of the very first draft. Right now, at the end of 2017, I have completed four drafts of this book, penned a sequel and started a third! This novel has become a trilogy! I’m still really enjoying it and I plan to get the whole trilogy written before I think about releasing the first book.
  2. Leave that aside, and go back to Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature for a final draft read-through on the laptop, followed by a final read through on my Kindle – A year later, this particular book is still not done. A final draft became another draft, and then another and another. It went back to beta readers and I made several changes. A few weeks ago I thought I was finished but decided I really needed to cut the word count down. A decision was made to cut out an entire character and just days ago I finished this edit! I have now sent it back to my Kindle for another read on there, to pick up typos and make another list of things to cut out. One more draft should do it!
  3. Find a cover for Elliot Pie! Which is going to involve a lot of thinking and research and approaching various people as I really, really need to get this right- Not achieved, obviously, as the book is not ready, and I will be sending this one off to potential publishers just in case. In the meantime, I have been thinking about covers and will need to start doing some research soon.
  4. Devise a promotional plan for releasing Elliot Pie, which will involve online and real life launches, promotional material and so on – Also not achieved as the book still not ready!
  5. Release Elliot Pie!! – Another one sadly not achieved, BUT I did release The Tree Of Rebels instead!
  6. Go back to The Tree Of Rebels and rewrite it until I am happy – Achieved! Weirdly, The Tree Of Rebels and Elliot Pie swapped places, with The Tree Of Rebels being ready for release first.
  7. During this time, I suspect I will delve into a second and possibly third draft of A Song For Bill Robinson. I don’t think it will be ignored for an entire year!- Achieved! I actually managed four drafts, plus a sequel and a third started!
  8. Early in the new year, follow up on the initial contact I have made with two schools through my Chasing Driftwood Writing Group business, and arrange to go in and speak to them about my project proposal- Achieved! I have one school on board and have had several meetings with them. I also decided to turn my business into a Community Interest Company. Once I get this through I can apply for the funding for the school project and many others!
  9. If they are on board, I then need to secure funding for the project!- sort of achieved! I have a school on board, but just waiting for my CIC to come through so we can get onto funding applications. (Though I have already secured a small amount of funding for another project!)
  10. In March I will run my first adult workshop under Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. Having done various workshops now for Dorset Writers Network I am ready to take the plunge on my own and run a workshop on building your author platform- Achieved! This went really well and I put on another workshop myself in the summer.
  11. At this workshop I will be introducing my ideas and plans for a Dorset Pop-Up Book Shop, where indie authors can come along and sell their paperbacks in a pop-up shop, hopefully, to be welcomed into libraries, literary events and so on- Achieved! The Pop-Up Book Shop is in progress and will be one of the projects I hope to get funding for once my CIC is in place.
  12. At some point in 2017, I hope The Tree Of Rebels will finally be fit for purpose and I will then be planning another detailed promotional event and releasing it! Fingers crossed!- Achieved! I released The Tree Of Rebels in August 2017 and to date it was my most successful release, with a three-month launch plan and a Facebook release day event, among other things.

I achieved 8 out of the 12 things on my list, and I actually achieved a hell of a lot more than I had set out to! Although a year in indie publishing is always a bumpy ride, with things going wrong (Pronoun shutting down!) and things going right (lots of writing done!) it’s actually really helpful to sit down like this to examine the reality. It just shows that the best-laid plans can change dramatically. It does me good to list my achievements and anything not achieved on this list will be top of the 2018 Writing Goals list which will be my blog post next week!

What about you? Did you set any particular goals for 2017 and if you did, how well did you do?