The Write Stuff Interview!

I will be a guest speaker at the Write Stuff Conference in Allentown, Pennsylvania the weekend of March 12.  (EDIT:  Because of the virus, this has been postponed.)

The three lectures I will be giving are:

How the Law Really Works

The Biggest Mistakes Made by New Authors

What Editors Look For

To help promote the conference, they interviewed me and I’ll share it with you here!

Question: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from rejections?

Michael: Never take it personally. You can’t please everyone, and a story that one editor hates may be loved by another. As an editor myself, I have had to reject stories that were great simply because I didn’t have enough room for all the great stories I received OR perhaps I already had another great story with the same theme. So understand that rejection is part of the business and it may have nothing whatsoever to do with how good the story is. You have to expect it. Otherwise, you’re like a prize fighter getting into the ring and going “Hey, I didn’t know someone would be hitting me back!” (However, if you get lots of rejections from everyone, maybe the story needs more work or maybe you should start a new one. Don’t expect every single story to sell.)

Q: Share the strangest source of inspiration for your writing that you can remember. 

M: I heard someone say that Congress was full of bloodsuckers, and I thought “Now, wouldn’t that be interesting?” The idea that vampires can look you in the eye and convince you to do anything was appealing because what politician wouldn’t die for that power? I began a story about a vampire running for Congress, realized it needed to be bigger, rewrote it a few times, added a few assassinations and conspiracy theories and lots of action, and it eventually became my novel “Bloodsuckers: A Vampire Runs for President.” Bottom line: Inspiration can come from anywhere. Just pay attention and always say “What if…?”

Q: Who is your favorite main character you’ve ever created and why? 

M: I created a black female lead character for a story taking place in the 1890s. I wanted to have a fine adventure yet also deal with the issues of discrimination, but in a fun way (if that makes sense). Not being either black or a female, I had to be careful that I wasn’t being either stereotypical or patronizing, so I had black female friends read it and they loved it, which pleased me greatly. So because it was that challenge and I met it, she’s my favorite! Plus she’s a fun, strong character who is in way over her head but never gives up. I like those kinds of “reluctant hero” characters.

Q: What advice can you give beginning authors in establishing their brand and media presence?

M: Sell yourself, not your books. Make yourself into an interesting person with interesting things to say so that people go “I like the way that person writes, and I’ll bet their books are interesting as well.” Don’t start a Facebook page for your book, start it for yourself. And don’t make every post about buying your book. Also, promote other writers and they will reciprocate. We’re not in competition! (Oh, and when you do write, write well! If your posts are full of misspellings and grammatical errors, no one will want to read your book. Seriously, I’ve seen this…)

Q: What projects are coming up next for you?

M: As I write this in December 2019, my alternate history Beatles anthology “Across the Universe” is about to be released, and I’m anxious to see how that goes over. A second nonfiction book about the music of the Monkees comes out early in 2020, and some of my older novels with a small publisher are in the process of being reissued with new covers and a few changes (including a brand new short story in one of the anthologies), so that’s keeping me busy, especially since we’re trying to have the audio books released at the same time. I’m currently recording my own audio book of my nonfiction humor book “How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative.” And, of course, I keep my blogs updated as often as possible. In my spare time, I am a lawyer.

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