Wednesday, July 25, 2012

J.T. Sather from the hip.

What led you to writing?

I have always been a story teller.  My friends throughout the years have always enjoyed the ridiculous tales of my youth over a beer and a camp fire.  It might seem like fiction to most, but the things I’ve seen and done are 100% true.  More than twice I’ve heard “Dude, you should write a book!”

I’ve been a construction worker my whole life, but the past several years have been mighty slim as far as finding work goes.  Last December I found myself in jail for 45 days because I had a multitude of traffic fines I simply could not afford to pay. After about a week of playing cards with my fellow meatheads, I decided it might be time to put some thoughts on paper.  By the time I got out, it had taken on a life of its own.  The work scene had not improved at all and once again I had nothing but time on my hands.

The more I wrote, the more I had to.  It became a way for me to face the many demons that were haunting me, taunting me.  As the chapters led on, I found the book taking on an entirely different form.  All of the sudden this string of deep-rooted philosophy came pouring out of me. It became a major healing process for me, and I hope it does the same for anyone who reads it.  It’s not your typical “oh woe is me” type of crap.  It almost makes me feel as if I’ve seen the light, so to speak.  A light bulb suddenly lit in my head, and everything became crystal clear. 

Has your experience thus far been all you expected?

My experience thus far has been me and my laptop, well since I’ve left my cell mates  I’ve just recently found book junkies through a friend and have learned a ton.  I still don’t know where this is going to lead, but I’m exited for the journey.  If you set your expectations low, it’s hard to get disappointed.  I would love to make a career out of it, though; I’ve had my fill of construction.

Poor editing seems to be a big issue in the Indie scene. What is your take on the subject?
Without a doubt a major issue.  When I finished my book (or so I had thought) I published it on Lulu.  It was in a place available for purchase, but only if I knew you and drew you a detailed roadmap to find it.  Otherwise, it was on the bottom shelf behind the really cheap whisky that nobody ever drank... or saw.  There were too many errors for Lulu to distribute it
I had a really spectacular review from a friend of mine who bought and read it.  I told him “Tony, when you finish reading it I want you to go to Lulu and write a review.  Make it an honest one, don’t blow smoke up my ass!  If you’re not honest, I’ll never improve.” Well, he did just that.  What he wrote as a review almost made me cry.  I didn’t realize that my thoughts, convictions, and words could move someone like that.  Two days later a very respected member of bj (Book Junkies) and author himself read the review that Tony had written and sent me a personal message.  “JT, your reviewer has found a path to your soul through your words.  I must have this book!”  I sent him a link and he bought it immediately.  I think it was two or three days later that he had finished it.  When he wrote his review, he had nothing but wonderful things to say about it.  One statement he made was “I think this book would be useful almost anywhere in the world.” That statement right there about blew my damn head off.  “Anywhere in the world?”  It wasn’t supposed to be such a self help kinda motivational thing, but I guess it turned into that.
He only had one criticism.  He said I needed to fix a lot of misspellings, punctuation, etc, etc..  OK, I thought.  I know I checked it a couple of times before I put it up there, but it had been a month so I supposed I could check it again.
Dear God!!!  I must have had 200 terribly stupid mistakes by the end of chapter two!  I was mortified.  I spent nearly two weeks fixing it, and by the time I felt I had done all I could, I hired a pro to do it again.  It will be republished again this week, with all things as proper as can be.  My editor sent me an email a couple of days ago and said “Your punctuation is a disaster!  No worries, it’ll be done in a day or two.”  Mind you, this was after I thought I had fixed everything.  It’s a good thing I didn’t trust myself!  When you think your done, kids, hire a pro to make sure of it!  Our job is to think, their job is to make sure what we thought makes sense!  If you try to do both, you’ll just end up wasting valuable creative time.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?

I’ve only been here for a short while, so I haven’t seen much.  One thing I have noticed is some bickering over silly subjects that really don’t deserve conversation.  If someone on a site is reprimanded for not adhering to the rules, it’s up to them to consult with an administrator and rectify the situation.  For some reason there seems to be some Big Brother syndrome going around out there that makes authors argue on behalf of someone else who isn’t even arguing the point!  

We’re all big kids here.  If you cannot handle a little discipline at this age, then it’s time to go to bed... with no supper.  I find no reason for it.

I’ve said it before.  There are no two people on the planet that think exactly alike.  Whatever the subject may be, there is bound to be a difference in the style and message that each individual author portrays.  You will either have a fan based on your personality, or you won’t.
Take any two authors in the world, give them a made up tittle for a book, and tell each of them to write a story to go with it.  There is no way in hell you will have anything close to the same plot!  It is why I say no author is in competition with another.  We are in competition with ourselves.  Strive to be better than yourself with each word you write, and don’t worry about what that guy wrote.

The social media is…
…a way to touch those who you never would otherwise.  It’s a fine way to connect with those you know and once knew, but beyond that it’s an avenue to reach people from across the globe that previously would have never heard your voice.  It’s truly an amazing thing.  I’ve shared stories and insights with people all over the globe and to my amazement, it turns out, their...people.  Who would’ve thought?

Share some information about your work with us:

The prelude seems to be a bit off setting for some, poignant as it is.  The book does start out a little harsh, as it should given the subject matter. the title is “How to Survive When the Bottom Drops Out”.  It opens with how to deal with financial issues, housing issues, and a general how to get by on nothing mentality, but then it starts to take a turn to a deeper sense of oneself and self worth.  Once you’ve found a place to live, and figured out numerous other aspects of surviving on little to nothing,, it’s time to learn how to enjoy life.  There’s no point to being here if you cannot enjoy the time you have left.  Life is far to short my friends.  Especially when your pocket is empty.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
“Why don’t you get a real job?”  I’ve been surrounded by negativity and naysayers for the last six months since I started this project.  By people that have refused to even read what it is that I’ve got down.  “You’re not a writer, you’re not a this, you’re not a that!” is all I’ve heard from the people I used to call friends.  If you have no faith in me, then piss off.  I don’t need you, or anyone that looks like you.
I’m the guy that had his own contracting company for the last 20 years.  I’ve made some pretty filthy amounts of money doing what I know how to do.  Problem now is, what I know how to do isn’t being done.  Probably not for another five years, so here I sit, broke as a joke.
What they fail to remember is, I am a “succeeder”.  Whatever I have done over the decades past, I have done better than most around me.  It’s just the way I’m wired.  If I’m going to write, then you can bet your ass I’m going to do it right.

How will you deal with negative reviews?
Take it with a grain.  I only have five reviews so far, and they are all extremely positive.  I haven’t gotten a bad one yet, but I’m sure I will, there’s no way to avoid it.  The best you can do is take it as constructive criticism and learn from it.  Even if it sounds mean-spirited.  I had a good friend of mine years ago on a job site.  He was our acting supervisor at the time.  One day the general super started bitching him out about this is behind schedule, and that was done wrong and blah, blah, blah.
My friend JW took two steps back; looked that loudmouth asshole right in the eye and just calmly said while shaking his head “Can’t hurt me.”  That guy was dumbfounded.  He spent a moment in silence until he finally looked at JW and with his face all scrunched up he said “What?”  JW said, “I don’t give a shit what your problems are, pal.  If you don’t like what we’re doing, then fire us.  Whatever you do, you can’t hurt me.  I’m a big boy, I’m pretty sure I’ll find something else to do.  Now do you wanna calm down and discuss these issues like adults, or should we pack up our shit and leave?”
You could hear the vinager evaporate from his piss.  He slumped his shoulders and said matter of meekly “You know there’s no one else that can get this done.  Let’s go in my office and get things straightened out.”
I know damn well whatever I do, I’m doing it to the best of my ability.  Constructive criticism is something I crave.  If some one simply wants to be an ass when they write a horrible review, then I just have one thing to say to them.   Can’t hurt me.  Thanks JW, that’s gotten me through some stupid crap.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I honestly don’t and I have no idea!!  I think in my entire life I’ve read five books, and I kinda remember three.  In the last twenty three years or more (excluding the last three) I’ve worked 60 to 100 hour a week.  You can probably see why I’m sick of construction.  Whenever I had off time I was partying like a rock star.  Whenever I was married I spent my off time with my family.  I really never had time to read.

Define “Indie Writer” and defend or attack their position in the book market.
Perhaps someone who thinks they can do everything themself.  You can’t.  Either you’re an author, an editor, a publicist, a marketing strategist, or a book binder.  Odds are you’re not all of the above.  In order to succeed, you have to recognize not only your strengths, but you have to be willing to acknowledge you shortcomings and own the presence of mind to delegate what needs to be done to the proper entities.  If you try to swallow the entire pill in one gulp, you’re bound to choke.

What other projects are you currently working on?
Getting book one out is my main focus.  I have already finished number two, but my market guy told me to hide it.  Book one has to be in the public view first, generate some buzz, and get the audience to recognize me as a brand.  Once that has been established, then I’m allowed to toss out number two, because (hopefully) the public will be hungry for the next thing I wrote.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
After reading my first book, I imagine nothing!

If you could team up with any Indie author, (no fair if I let you choose from one of the big names), who would you choose, and what would be the subject matter of the book?
As I really haven’t read anything in years, I have no idea!  If I can stay in your world and actually afford to eat, then I’ll start.

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
My very best friend in the known universe, Paul Beegle.  From 2000 miles away, he has been my biggest supporter from day one.  He not only read it one chapter at a time (as I wrote them) but he designed my cover.  As a novice photographer, he took the photo, designed the lettering, and posted up my first lulu book.  It wasn’t his fault everything inside was littered with spelling mistakes! hahaha.  It was his first cover design ever and it is brilliant.

Why do you write?
It started out as a release valve when I was in a position that I had no other.  Now, six mnths later, it has become a mad passion.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
My book on the best sellers list! lmfao

I want to thank JT for stopping in and sharing a piece of his mind. As promised, tomorrow is all about me again. Anthologies and my Camp NaNoWriMo project for August. I am also very excited to announce that Friday I have the distinct pleasure of being able to feature Dana Fredsti. Did I mention she swung a sword in the Bruce Campbell classic, Army of Darkness?

1 comment:

  1. Great interview Todd and JT. I can relate to much that was described here. People scoffed at me too when I said I wanted to pursue a writing career. I am so glad for social networking. It has given me the support to keep going and write that next book. There are pitfalls and I have had a couple of public pity parties, but what doesn't kill ya makes you a stronger writer. You can't hurt me. Have to remember JT and his attitude from now on. I will put your inspirational book on my TBR list. Thanks again guys.