Today’s Interview is with …..

James McHarg.  I had the pleasure of having an interview with James McHarg,  an up and coming new Author.  We worked together for several years and our days usually started out with coffee in his office chatting on a vast array of subjects.  When he retired, he was greatly missed.

One of the things I found out about him during one of our many morning conversations,  is that he loved to write and planned on pursuing this skill upon his retirement.  Well, he did exactly that.  He published his first novella which was a thriller titled Incoming Call and it was released world-wide in the fall of 2015.  Following that, his second suspense novella, Sins of the Past came out in May 2016.  Both wonderful reads I might add.

I admire him very much.  Most people have dreams that they never fulfill and live the rest of their lives with regrets.  We learn from people like Jim so I thought it would be  a great opportunity to ask him a few questions about his experiences and share with everyone.

So without further adieu, I give you my Interview with James McHarg.

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always had an interest in writing and penned a couple of short stories when I was in my twenties, mostly just for fun. At the time, being a shy person, I didn’t dare consider publication. Life went by, and, preoccupied with all that goes along with it, I didn’t pick writing up again until I retired.

  1. Where do your ideas come from?

I’m fascinated by ordinary people who find themselves plunged into extraordinary circumstances. For that reason, my story ideas tend to spring from every day events. From there, my imagination conjures up an unusual twist, putting the unfortunate protagonist in situations that would threaten the sanity of most people. The real thrill for me comes from creating that seemingly real person and discovering how he or she reacts to the surreal stuff I throw at them.

  1. What genre are your books and would you consider any others?

So far, I’ve written stories in the horror, thriller, mystery, and sci-fi / fantasy genres. For my next project, I want to pursue the mystery / suspense genre further through a planned sequel (a full-length novel) to my most recent novella release, Sins of the Past.

  1. How long does it take you to write a book?

The short answer is: Longer than it should. The longer answer: Between sports and recreational activities, limited keyboarding skills, a propensity to be easily distracted, and interruptions by life in general, I somehow manage to put words to the page … well, not as often as I’d like. To use a specific example, Incoming Call is a 78-page novella, and it took about 18 months to finally decide I had a marketable manuscript (draft 6 being the final version). By the way, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist.

  1. What type of research do you do for your books?

I can sum that up in 2 words: The Internet. I’m always substantiating my facts by searching the web for encyclopedic data, watching instructional videos, using map sites such as Google Earth to verify location information, and even viewing images to help with scene / character / structures and buildings descriptions. For example, the scene where Maggie enters the church in Incoming Call – I viewed many photos of old churches, which provided the inspiration for me to write that particular description.

  1. When developing your characters, do you base them on anyone you know or are they fictional?

I’d have to say a mashup of both. I often pull bits and pieces from real characters I’ve met in my lifetime and then add my own subtle nuances and quirks to make the characters both as believable and as interesting as possible. Of course, resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. (My lawyer made me say that.)

  1. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I learned that writing is not as easy as it seems, that it takes a great deal of patience – which, by the way, I never thought I had – and that my wife is the best editor, promoter, and all-around supporter / ego booster a writer (and husband) could ever hope for.

  1. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

When I first began this writing hobby, I decided to take a course to learn more about the craft. The best piece of advice I can offer, I’d have to borrow from the writing instructor: Read. Read as much and as many different genres and authors you can get your hands and eyes on. And don’t just read, view each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter through the eyes of a writer. It takes longer for me to get through a book because quite often I find my mind wandering to whatever writing project I’m involved in at the time.

Having said that, take what you’ve gleaned from your reading experiences, and simply use your own voice to adapt these learnings to what suits your writing style and personality.

  1. What do you think makes a good story?

For me, it’s definitely the characters. If readers don’t relate to, or care about, the people in the book, why would they care what happens to them?

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block?

Um… Can I come back to the question later? Maybe after I take a walk to clear my head, distract my brain with some TV sports, do a little reading, or grab a snack.

Bonus Questions:

If you could have lunch with a famous author, who would that be and what would be your most important question you would want to ask them.

I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen King. I think having lunch with him would be an informative and fascinating experience (maybe even a little spooky). I’ve always been in awe of his ability to write so prolifically. I suppose I would ask what his secret is to finding the time to craft so many great stories throughout his lifetime? If I could also ask him one bonus question, I’d like to know if he still gets the same charge from writing today that he did forty years ago?

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You can purchase James’ books at the following links:

Incoming Call 

Amazon (Kindle & Paperback) – https://www.amazon.ca/Incoming-Call-James-McHarg-ebook/dp/B01C68VXL8/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1465847258&sr=1-1

 Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/incoming-call-james-mcharg/1123520245?ean=9781329655973#productInfoTabs

 Sins of the Past

 Kobo (The Kobo eBook can also be found on Chapters – Indigo) – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/sins-of-the-past-14

 Barnes & Noble (Nook Books) – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/sins-of-the-past-james-mcharg/1123783988?ean=2940153224695

 iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1112662104

 

 

To Blog Or Not To Blog – Is That The Question?

blogA couple of weeks have gone by since I made a serious effort to get my blog up and running.  I went through theme after theme trying to find the perfect one that just felt right.  Not understanding all the concepts, I turned to the wonderful people in some of the blogging communities I joined and asked questions as well as YouTube and the Internet.  Slowly I began to  understood a little more and blogging took on a whole new meaning to me.  I am by no means an expert and I still have a long ways to go, but I thought I would share a few things I have discovered in my journey.

  1. Blogging takes a lot of work.  It isn’t a matter of just setting up a page and writing in it every once in a while.  You have to interact with people and interact often.  Most important is to get your name out there.
  2. When I first started, I joined every blogging community I could find on Facebook.  I am not sure this was a smart thing to do because I soon became lost. Too many comments to comment on,  not remembering who I liked or followed.  I spent more time clicking peoples blogs only to discover I already followed them. I would have been smarter to maybe join one for beginners and work on that, then as I got more confident and experienced, join others.
  3. First thing I did was get my blog on every social media site I could find, Pinterest, Stumble etc. – not sure that was a smart thing to do  because I didn’t and still don’t understand how some of them work.  I think I would have been wiser to look into each site and fully learn how they work so I could interact properly.  These sites all have great benefits but if you don’t understand them, they are useless.
  4. Having a niche is very important.  Without one you are just  blogging for the sake of blogging.  If you are going to want people to follow you, you need to have something worthwhile for them to read and something interesting that makes them come back for more.
  5. Adsense isn’t going to make you lots of money.   Everyone wants to make money on their blog, well maybe not everyone but most, and I don’t expect to get rich with mine but I thought some pocket change would be nice.  So far with Adsense I have made a whopping 3 cents. – Yahooooo – am living the dream.
  6. There are a lot of great people out there.  Yes, there are.  Wonderful, helpful people who will answer questions and go out of their way to make sure you understand.
  7. You can like, follow and share all you want, if you don’t have good content on your blog, it will not go anywhere.   You have to walk the walk.  If people like or follow you, you have to make sure you like and follow them.
  8. If you are going to blog seriously, have a game plan.  Just don’t go into blogging without thinking it over or making a schedule.  Because I work full time and only do my blogging in the evenings and weekends, it is important that I have a plan.  I didn’t at first but realize now just how important it is.  Take some time to organize yourself so you know what nights (or days) you are going to do what.
  9. When ideas hit you, write them down.  There have been so many times I have been sitting on the bus or even sitting at work and an idea for a blog article will pop in my head and by the time I get home I have forgotten what it was or can’t find the words anymore for what I want to say.  I now make a point of writing it down or if I am on the bus, use my notebook feature on my cell phone.
  10. Don’t be afraid.  For years I never really wrote anything because I thought it sounded stupid, I didn’t think I was any good or I thought no one would want to read my rantings.  Now I wish I had started writing years ago.

So after making these discoveries, I have stepped back, taken a good look at my blog and made some changes.  Not sure it will help but I am bound and determined to make a go of it.

What has blogging done for me?  Well for one thing it has given me confidence.  Confidence to know that I have something worthwhile to say and people will listen.  It has improved my writing and allowed me the freedom to say what I feel and feel what I say.  It has given me courage to not be afraid to put words to paper or words to computer screen in this case.

Blogging is fun and it is also a lot of work.  Don’t give up – there are a lot of success stories out there and those are the ones that keep me going.

Happy Blogging to all you wonderful people out there.