Tag Archive: Update


I recently reviewed Tony Bertauski’s “Annihilation of Foreverland” and “Foreverland is Dead”.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him online and this is the result of that interview.

Ten Questions: An Interview with Tony Bertauski

Does the hidden pinky finger have an R on it?
(If you don’t understand this reference, please see Tony Bertauski’s Facebook Author Page)

I’ll be there in 5 minutes.
I don’t remember if I put an R on that finger or not.
(Is that my first question?)

Nope.  Just a freebie.

What is self-publishing like?

…and don’t worry, you have as much time as you have…

Oops. Let me find my glasses. At 46, my eyes went bad.
 

Oh, please.

Self-pubbing. I’m lucky I got into writing when I did. Traditional publishing is a tough market to crack. I’ve never aspired, and still don’t, to be a full time writer. I have stories to tell. And the more I write, the more stories I find.

I love to have complete control of the story, interacting with fans and being involved with the cover. Once I put it all together, I upload to various outlets (Amazon, BN, etc) and announce through various outlets. I’ve also learned how to market it so that more people will see it. It’s a wonderful “hobby” that works like a side job. A side job I love.

By the way, an interesting blog post is making the rounds titled “Why indie writers suck“. So there’s some debate.

 

People who think Indie writers suck are generally unsuccessful Indie writers…(And that [blog] is from a pretentious snob hiding behind a nazi monocle, I mean, moniker who, has his/her/its own blog (a common form of indie writing))

 

How old were you when you wrote your first ‘thing’ and what was it?

Mmm…good question.

I didn’t write much of anything when I was young. I read a lot of sci-fi but never thought about writing. However, back in the day we passed notes in school (smart phones were still futuristic thoughts) and I had a friend that wrote concise notes that were hilarious. I remember wanting to write like that.

I attempted to write a couple books/stories when I was in my early 20s but, like most starts, they barely got started before I quit. I completed two novel-length stories when I was in my early 30s. They’ll never see the light of day. The story that got me hooked was The Discovery of Socket Greeny. I started writing it for my son when he was little, something he would read. It didn’t work. I think I rewrote that story a dozen times before it was good enough to get out.

I’ve gotten better since then.

And my son still hates to read.

 

What book has inspired you most in your writing?

Dune. I was captivated by a universe that existed in Frank Herbert’s mind that contained philosophy, politics and relationships that didn’t really exist. I wanted to create my own worlds, and I wanted to share them with others, wanted to connect with people the way I did with Herbert. Now, although I’m not a horror buff, Stephen King has been a large influence. I don’t like his endings (I’m a big ending guy, want the twist) but his style is so fluid, so visceral and comical. I rarely read his stuff without feeling like I’m in that room with that character. That, I believe, has been very inspiring.

 

What one work/series would you most like to see made into a movie? (and just to sneak another freebie in: who would you want to see play the major roles?)

Damn good question. A second to gather my thoughts.
 

…no worries…

The Discovery of Socket Greeny would be the first one because that character is so close to my heart. Socket played by…drawing a blank. I’ll come back to that before we’re done. The Foreverland series would be second with Jeff Bridges playing the Director. Claus would be third with Jeff Daniels as Nicholas Santa and Jim Carrey (so cliche but have to) as Jack.
 

Ok, throw Socket Greeny in there when you have an answer…

 

Do you write by hand, or straight to “screen”?

I write rough outlines by hand on a legal pad. It’s basically sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and letting the story unfold. That might be half an hour to hour. Then I prop the pad up and type, sometimes not even looking at it once I’ve got it. However, even if I have to rewrite a scene I’ll go to the legal pad.

 

Aahhh. so there’s no Royal or Remington lurking in your past? (another freebie)

I learned on one and glad they’re dead.
 

I shouldn’t laugh, so did I…

 

What is the most important element of writing a story (as opposed to the craft of writing)?

I’m not a great writer. By that I mean I don’t know the rules of grammar and I don’t care. I’m interested in the story. For me, the most important element is the twist. As a reader, I become engaged when I don’t exactly know what’s coming. It doesn’t have to be a big bang surprise, but keep it from being predictable. Keep it original. And if I read that last page with a WHOA!–well, then…we have a winner.

 

When developing characters, how do you know when you have the “right name”?

I spend a lot of time on the names. There are times I’ll look up the origin of the word to match the personality. For instance, Cyn in Foreverland is Dead is short for Cindy. However, it sounds like “Sin”. That’s not an accident. So much of the time the names have hidden meanings. Socket was a fluke. I wrote that for my son so it was a fun name but then it became integral to the story. Broak was a name that had great significance in the Socket story. There have also been times where I finish the rough draft and do a find and replace because the name isn’t feeling right.

 

How much time do you spend writing on a daily basis? If you don’t write every day, what is your regular writing schedule like? (more freebies)

Socket Greeny character would be someone like Josh Harnett or Liam Hemsworth, but since they were both in Hunger Games it seems too cliche now so I’ll go with the kid in The Walking Dead, Chandler Riggs.
 

Nice.

My day job is an educator and all the ancillary things that go with it. I’m also a father and a husband. I was just chatting with an author friend about this. Writing is solitary endeavor much of the time and can isolate my wife. (My kids are older so they’re not around as much.) I’m careful about when I get focused because I always remember something from Stephen King’s autobiography. He used to write at a giant oak desk in the middle of the room. Now it’s smaller and in the corner so there’s room for life. I write mostly on weekends and in the mornings. If I’m on break between semesters, I’ll put in a lot of time. If my wife is gone for the weekend, I’ll probably put in six hours daily. I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if I was a full time writer. It’d be a job. Right now it’s an escape.

 

What has been your most memorable encounter with a reader(s)?

There have been many but the most recent was a review of Socket Greeny from a mother that bought the books for her reluctantly reading son. Her gratitude was moving. I try to write from a place that has meaning and when it connects with a reader I am grateful.. There are elements of Zen (a practice I’ve been involved with for the last 20 some years) that underlies my stories. Even now, I’m working on a romance novel but wasn’t satisfied with the outline until the characters where sufficiently suffering and find ways to transform. That plus sex.
 

That’s funny: sufficiently suffering.. plus sex.

 

Last question: Who is your favorite cartoon superhero? (villain?)

It would have to be Frank Miller’s Batman. He was very human. However, I find great affinity for a despicable villain you can’t quite hate. For instance, Heath Ledger’s Joker was masterful. I loved him and hated him. I strive for that element in my villains. At the very end of Socket Greeny, Pike’s role as super evil, super villain is questioned…just what side is he on?

 

See, that was easy…

Painless.
And fun.
Thanks for chat.
 

Thank you for letting me pester yo
*you

I like yo better.

Road Trip Tough Mudder Austin, TX  Last Gasp

I’ve met a lot of new people in the past couple of months. (If chatting you up on Facebook is meeting, otherwise it’s the same old crew and no one new.)  It’s also been a long time since I’ve posted about Tough Mudder in Austin.

There really hasn’t been anything to talk about.  Working out is grueling when you have to do it  yourself and you miss dinner, and you have to do 16 loads of laundry that consist of five items. (Dear god, how do socks get that smelly so quickly)

The whole fundraising thing continues to elude me.  I’ve created a site, and I’ve let people know about it.  I’m not one of those people who chase you down and insist you buy my girl scout cookies. I don’t think girl scouts belong in cookies. I think they belong in a white wine sauce over saffron rice.  That’s just me though.  I’m not chasing anyone down to contribute to my charity, either. Here’s a link to my initial blog post.  Do what you want to do.

It’s exactly 2 weeks until the big day.  I believe I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.  This is all about mental tenacity, and I have tenacity in spades.  What I do not have is a buddy to run around in the mud with me.  I have unsuccessfully attempted to lure, shame and bribe some people to join me, none of them are having it.  Most have suggested that I a) up my meds; b) reacquaint myself with a psychiatrist. Whatever. I’ll be the one having fun in the sun.  I even have a personal Facebook photographer. (Oh, you guys have no idea…)

I am having serious fashion stress over this, I must admit.  You see pictures on the Tough Mudder website, of buff young things in stretch pants and tank tops…and that is soooo….not me.  I want to be practical about this, I want to do this..right. I’m thinking boots and utes, and a short sleeve over long sleeve shirt. A bandana to keep the hair in such a state I will not have to shave my head later, and a couple of things stuffed in cargo pockets (that’s why they’re called cargo pockets by the way) for just in case. Goggles for jumping into the water, and a rag for wiping the crap off my face.

The more I think about this, the more amped I get. It can’t get here too soon. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

When I run I have a tendency to write in my head.  Most of my book reviews have started on a run (including this one) and have been smoothed, and folded and pressed into what I actually want to say later when I have a delete key handy.  In December we got 36 inches of snow and I observed that running outside was over until March.  Shortly after that we got another 24 inches, and then another 18, followed by one pitiful little 8 inch storm.  Pathetic really, but it did manage to cover all the ice that at one time had been snow, then melt, then ice, more snow, more ice, more melt…you get the idea. It wasn’t until March that the roads were clear enough to run on.

In the meantime, I joined a gym, ran on the treadmill and read, used the stationary cycles and read. I read on the bus, I read on the train. I read in the car on the way to Maine.  Since December, I’ve read close to 50 books.  Don’t misunderstand, some weren’t very long (Where the Wild Things Are), and some weren’t very taxing (Artemis Fowl and just about everything). There’s no good place to start reviewing.  I’m in the process of finishing the fourth and final book in a series which I’m not going to try and review without having reviewed the others.

To some extent I kind of felt like writing reviews was pointless, but I’ve met some new people and some early “listeners” (readers read books, they don’t read me), have pointed out that maybe more people are interested than I know.   Frankly, I like to write them.  I have a couple of rules that come from  a previous life.  They go like this, you can’t do any book justice in fewer than 200 words and if you can’t say it in 500 words, it shouldn’t be said.  Try not to get involved in spoilers, no one comes away happy.

There are notable exceptions.  The review of the Lucky Charms box being one.

Most of my reviews are posted as links on GoodReads, I am not sure if you can see them as I have my profile set to cloaking shield. You might click around over there if you’re interested.  So, having said that, I have some books I’ve almost finished, and I also have some social commitments that I have to address, and in between I’m going to squeeze in book reviews.

Oh. The other thing I usually post are Road Trip stories, and I have a Road Trip coming up at the end of this month…