Welcome to Wannabe Writer Wednesday! This week’s interview is with author Mark L. Anderson.
I grew up in Indiana, attended high school and college in Ohio, and have lived the last 40 years in Illinois. Since retiring from teaching in 2007, I’ve found time to get serious about that writing dream. My first novel BLACK WOLF LODGE was published in 2010, and I currently have two short stories, “Hobo Willie” and “Pinewood Farm” available as Kindle editions. Most weekday mornings, after that first cup of coffee, I am usually at work on my MacBook, realizing that chasing that writing dream is an ongoing thing–one that seems to become more exciting with each passing day!
1. Tell us a little about your current work in process.
My second novel, The Bet, is in the editing/revision stage. It began with last year’s NaNoWriMo, something I’d never attempted previously but found very worthwhile. The story is based loosely on an experience I shared with a college friend many years ago when, on a whim one night, after several beers, we decided to hitch-hike to a football game in Florida during Christmas vacation. It’s been lots of fun writing, and I’m actually making progress and on schedule to have it published by summer’s end.
2. What’s your day job?
I am a retired teacher, so my “day job” usually consists of the usual chores around the house that my wife gladly leaves for me (dishwasher detail, change the bedding every Thursday, cook and have something for her to eat on days she works, watching the grandsons a few times during the week, etc.)
3. When do you find time to write?
During the fall and winter months, I write for two hours, two or three days, on weekday mornings. I prefer to write between 8 and 10 a.m. and sometimes late at night. In the summer, here at our cottage in Michigan, I shoot for writing something every weekday—even if it’s just updating my blogs or working on my current project. Of course, when there’s company (and there often is!), all of that’s out the window until they’ve left and the cottage is all mine once again.
4. When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that figure into what you are doing now?
When I was five, I wanted to be a big league baseball player (I think I still do!) and it wasn’t too long after that, in grade school, when I discovered some pretty neat sports stories that I devoured voraciously (Chip Hilton series, in particular). From those early readings, I became enamored with words and the stories themselves—full of characters, problems to solve, and happy resolutions. The hero saves the day once again, by getting the big hit, sinking the winning free throw with no time left on the clock, or crossing the goal line just in time to clinch the state football championship! Because of those wonderful childhood reading memories, I am inclined to write some of my own stories for that very age group…in the future.
5. Tell us about the moment when you decided you wanted (needed?) to be a writer.
I don’t really remember the moment when the bug to be a writer bit me. There were many of them along the way. Playing the card game Authors with my aunt one summer when I was about 7 or 8 really piqued my interest in famous writers and how they were able to do what they did. Reading classes through my school years when I read such neat stories as Where the Red Fern Grows, Huckleberry Finn, and The Incredible Journey all provided some kind of “trigger” to set my desire to write into motion. Of course, having taught language arts and reading/literature for nearly 35 years, I was immersed in the world of stories, authors, and the written word in all forms.
6. What is your biggest challenge as a writer?
Discipline—or lack of it! It’s so easy to say that I’m going to write each day for a certain amount of time, yet I often let the distractions (Facebook, e-mail, Blogs, reading) get in the way and steer me off course. Before I know it, another morning has been frittered away and the big guilt feeling sets in. I’ve gotten better this past year, but it’s something I have to focus on daily.
7. How do you talk yourself into writing when you’re feeling discouraged?
Fortunately, there haven’t been too many times when I’ve felt discouraged. Unmotivated, yes, and then it’s simply a matter of either walking away from it for that day or just diving in and getting something down. With Scrivener, it’s easy to do brainstorming or planning with the index cards even if the actual writing is not coming out.
8. Do you ever give yourself writing ultimatums? (i.e. “If I don’t get my novel published by the time I’m 35, then it’s time to quit writing.”)
Yes, in fact just this morning I said that I have until the end of August to have this novel completed and ready to publish on Amazon because it’s been long enough already! Plus, there are some other short stories I want to finish and publish soon, and I can’t do a good job on them until the novel is wrapped and out of here.
9. Have you considered self-publishing, or are you hell-bent on traditional publishing (or a little of both?) What are your thoughts on this?
Self-publishing is really the only thing I’ve considered –and done—thus far. Ideally, there would be nothing better than to have an agent out there working for me, getting me book deals, but I know that the chances of that are, well… And since this writing thing is more of a hobby than a life-or-death “publish-or-perish” job, I can afford to go the self-pub route. Besides, I’ve learned so much on how this works during the past few months. I’m a bit weak on the marketing aspect, but that will take time, I think. My two short stories (“Hobo Willie” and “Pinewood Farm”) are sitting there on Amazon, and three months ago I would never have known how to even begin to get them there. Thanks to Scrivener and some excellent tutorials, the stories got there in April and actually sold!
10. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I hope I’m working on my next in a long string of books. God willing and the creek don’t rise (courtesy of John Wayne), I’ll be healthy and here in our cottage by the lake trying to bring my story to a workable conclusion (again!).
11. What is one question you wish I would have asked you? (I may use your question in future interviews.)
What kinds of things do you read now? Who is your favorite author(s)? What’s the one book that has inspired you more than any other? (I know that’s more than one question, but each seems important.)
12. Where can we find you? Do you have a blog or other writer’s platform?
I have a couple of blogs:
You may contact me at email@example.com.
- NaNoWriMo and Me (magazinetheory.wordpress.com)
- Are Indie-Authors Becoming the Whores of Social Media? (paddysdaddy.wordpress.com)
- Good writers (cristianmihai.net)
- Wannabe Writer. (imheatherolivia.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month (annelongmire.wordpress.com)
- “Writing” time (creativecesspool.wordpress.com)
- Writer’s Journal; Memoir, Camp NaNoWriMo, and Writing Space (1writeplace.com)