I get questions...
I want one of your books - where can I buy one?
All of my books are available on Amazon and in a few retail locations around Dayton, Ohio. And they're all available for bookstores to order, so if you want a book in your local bookstore, ask them to order copies. Some of my titles are local bookstores, including Jay and Mary's Books in Troy and New and Olde Pages in Englewood. Just call ahead to make sure they have what you need. I also have copies of all of my in-print books in stock, but very few of the older versions. If you would like a signed copy, please Contact Me and we'll work out the details.
I See you have several fiction titles - should I read them in any particular order?
I'd read them in the order they were published: Black Bird, Ghost, 9/11, then the Frank Harper series. While the books are not really a series, there are some characters that reappear. Keep an eye out for Doris the waitress--she's all over the place.
I see some of your characters reappear in other books. Is there a guide or FAQ for who appears in which books?
Nothing yet, but I might work up something in the future. I'm inspired by this AMAZING guide to Stephen King's books and characters--it was created by Gillian over at TessieGirl and charts every book and character in a whole batch of Stephen King books, not including the Dark Tower series.
It really does a nice job of showing the interconnectedness of King's fictional world, something he was doing a long time before Joss Whedon did something similar with his "Whedonverse" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse.
How can I read a sample?
Kindle offers short samples of many of the books they sell, including mine. Navigate to the page for the book you're interested in and click on "send me a sample."
Why are your ebooks only available on Kindle?
I exclusively release my ebooks through Amazon and the Kindle Direct Platform to take advantage of the benefits of their program, which include enhanced marketing, exclusive free days, Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners Lending Library. My books are not available on iTunes or Nook at the present time, but if that ever changes, I'll post something on my website.
What are you reading?
People often ask me what I'm reading and what I've enjoyed in the past. Here's my TOP 25 books. I was inspired by Richard Branson's 2017 Must-Read List:
Footfall – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The Stand - Stephen King
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Dead Zone - Stephen King
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
The Shining - Stephen King
The Singularity is Near - Ray Kurzweil
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
Misery - Stephen King
The Collected Short Stories - Edgar Allen Poe
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Hunt for Red October - Tom Clancy
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
The Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe
Dracula - Bram Stoker
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
Talisman - Stephen King and Peter Straub
Get Shorty - Elmore Leonard
At the Mountains of Madness - H.P. Lovecraft
Sweet covers - who does them for you?
Most of my covers were created by my awesome sister, Pamela Schwartz.
How did you become a writer?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. Honestly, I can't think of a time when I wasn't jotting down story ideas. I graduated from college with a major in English and a minor in Psychology, which (hopefully) helps my grammar and character development, respectively. I wrote my first book in 1993 and tried to self-publish it, only to have the publishing firm close down and keep my money. Yeesh.
Years later, I decided to try again, and I released my first book, Black Bird, in 2003. In 2010, I decided to devote more time to writing, and it's since become a full-time job. Besides writing several long-running newspaper columns for local papers here in Dayton, I've written and published eight books, including four works of fiction and four collections of my newspaper stories and essays.
Where do you get your story ideas?
I have no idea. I try to follow the advice from Stephen King, outlined in his book "On Writing:" be open to ideas when they come, let your mind know you're open to new ideas, and ALWAYS write the down--you never know when they'll come in handy.
Do you have any authors you admire?
As for admiring authors, I have to say I'm inspired by anyone who can make a living writing. It's hard out there...for an author! A few of my favorites:
Stephen King - what can I say? He's the master. I used to practice "how to write" by hand-copying lines from his best short story, "Battleground." His book "On Writing" has become the cornerstone of my writing system. Hearing him talk about his writing style and system was incredibly helpful, and his advice about training your mind to offer up bits of random inventiveness changed my world.
I need advice on running my writing business--do you recommend anyone?
On the Writing Business side, there's no one better out there right now than Joanna Penn. If you want to learn the business side of being a writer, including how to write, publish and market your books, check out her website.
Her blog pages are like a checklist of MUST DOs before I ever get close to sending something out into the world.
I also recommend her "Business for Authors" and "How to Market a Book." They are among those truly rare books for authors - useful and to-the-point.
FAQs on Specific Books
The 9/11 Machine
"The 9/11 Machine" is my exploration of alternate histories and my attempt to answer one question--if you knew ahead of time that the tragic events of 9/11 were going to take place, could you do anything about it? Could you prevent the tragedy, or alter the outcome? If you warned people, would anyone believe you--or would you be implicated in the event after it happened?
I wanted to explore the idea of a man who lost his family in the disaster--but a man, among all the others who lost people on that day, who could actually do something about it. Dr. Ellis is obsessed with trying to alter the past and change the future.
My favorite parts of the book are his multiple attempts to stop the event, sometimes for the worse. But he keeps trying, over and over, to find the right way to intervene. The book starts out at an interesting place--he's remembering one of his versions of 9/11, which, in his timeline, was much worse than "ours." It was a difficult book to put down on paper--it took me nearly six years to research and write.
Tipp Talk Books of Newspaper Columns
The four collections of newspaper articles grew out of complete laziness on my part--my parents asked me to send them all of my columns for a particular year, and it seemed easier to put them in a book than go back and print them out one by one!
I worked with my sister to develop the covers for the four collections, which summarize life in a small town, using photos from the area. She put little white borders around all the photos to make them look like Polaroids. They look great. I'm working on my fifth and final compilation--in 2014, I decided to get back to writing fiction full time and "hung up my spurs" when it came to newspaper columns.