Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Troy Blackford - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on young Author Troy Blackford. He is the author of a paranormal action adventure novel and numerious short stories. Troy is also a Editorial Consultant working with Author Anthony J. Rapino.

Author Genre: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Short Stories

Website: Troy Blackford - Journey to Death at Lifespeed
Twitter: @TBlackford3
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: A 28-year old writer living in the Twin Cities, Troy Blackford has a number of short stories published. His novella 'Critical Incident' is available on the Kindle, and its two sequels will be out by soon.

His recently released novel is a paranormal action adventure called 'THROUGH THE WOODS' on Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

Check out some of his short stories in various publications (both online and in print) on his site listed above.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

I understand you have two stories in the works. Can you give us a timeline when we can expect to get our hands on them with a little tease about their plot?

Certainly! The first of the two novellas, the 'Critical Incident' sequel 'Emergent Pattern,' releases on December 28th, which isn't that far away now. The third and final book of that trilogy of novellas will be out by the end of March or in April.

'Emergent Pattern' picks up where 'Critical Incident' left off, sort of dealing with the repercussions of encroaching the wrath of a global crime syndicate. The final book, I can vaguely tease, is about 'going to the source' of the problem to stop it once and for all.

You have a large Social media audience (29K twitter followers). Is that your main marketing focus? How did you build your list of followers? Do you feel they will buy your books or are they in it for the relationship only or both?

I began focusing on my twitter audience because I constantly think of short, usually stupid things to say. Twitter seemed like a great venue for that kind of thought. I do of course mention quite frequently that I have books and stories, and give links to my site - but I also just chat with lots of people and whine about stuff as it happens. I try not to think of it as a marketing tool, but as a way to connect to people. I've met a great deal of my current close friends on there. I don't have much time for 'real life' relationships outside of my family and work, so I appreciate having a 'virtual sea' of like-minded people to commiserate with.

Do you do any traditional marketing like book signings, interviews and personal appearances? Do you have an agent or are you doing this solo?

I am at a phase in my writing career where I am very much just trying to get off the ground, hone my craft, and get to a decent level of skill. I have sent a few people signed books when they request it, but haven't had a chance to participate in a more formal book signing as of yet. This marks my second interview, so that's picking up!

And as for the agent - my plan right now is to get a few more stories published in journals and then try to get an agent to help me put out a collection and the next novels I plan to write.

What kind of support groups do you have? Do you belong to a writer’s group in which you are active? You can give credit here to a mentor.

I occasionally will send my stories to writing friends, such as the inimitable Anthony Rapino, who gives feedback and advice, but that is the exception more than the rule. They simply don't have the time. I have never been a part of a writing group, either. I just keep my head down and keep writing/rewriting/editing, and for that reason I probably keep making mistakes I would not make if I were doing this in a more 'connected' way.

In creating the ebook version of your book, how much did you do yourself? What kind of outsourcing have you used to bring your book to market?

All of it: The photography, the layout, the editing. I got burned in the past by letting myself be talked into working with self-styled editors for chunks of cash for hasty work, and I really think that for the beginning writer, there is tremendous value in making the commitment to learning to edit your own material to at least a passable degree.

The short stories a writer might hope to place with publications, for example, are usually self-edited. I've been dabbling in photo editing software for years, and back when I made music (long, long ago) I actually used to make an 'album cover' for every single song I wrote. So that's old hat, even though I'm not particularly good at it. And the layout and formatting type of things are what I do at my job, so that comes pretty naturally to me as well.

When you receive a Troy Blackford book, you are getting a book made in all parts by the man himself!

Now that you have started down that creative writer’s path, what lessons have you learned that you could pass on to new authors when they start?

Take the advice of your betters at face value! One thing I heard was 'When you finish a first draft of a novel, stick it in a drawer for a few months until you have a fresh take on it before rewriting.' I wrote four books before I had the courage to do this, and once I had, I felt like a fool for not doing this before. Another bit of advice is to really focus on short stories early on so that you can develop your skills before making writing novel after novel your priority.

Experts say short stories are a good path to being a successful author when you are getting started. What has been your experience? What is the most difficult problem you have had to overcome? What would you have liked to known when you started that you didn’t know?

That's exactly the truth! My first stories that people responded well to were the shorts and not the novels. The first novels are more like learning opportunities for you as a writer than they are likely to be examples of your best work.

I would say the most difficult problem I've had to overcome is the fact that, for schedule reasons among others, I do most of my writing on my bus commute to work each weekday. The problem is that there are frequently one or two loud, rude passengers disrupting the environment. I know I can't expect complete silence, but I've had to deal with fights breaking out, kids punching my monitor on accident when they meant to punch their friend, and the like - all while trying to write!

What I had wished I had known when I started? How much I loved this! I would have been doing it far earlier!

While doing my research, I noticed you had a love for cats and music. Do you find they are an escape from writing when you get to a bump in the road?

Quite the opposite - they are an inspiration to my writing. My first book was inspired by a funny look from my cat, leading me to the ideas that ultimately led to 'Through the Woods,' though the first two books on the subject of cats were 'Under the Wall' and 'Out the Door.' Not very good books, but 'Through the Woods' is basically a ret-conned 'prequel' of those two, previously unrelated books. The two cats in my life make me feel good when I'm not feeling all that great, and in that sense they definitely help me with the writing too.

And music is not only the closest thing to an 'office door' I have, closing out the noisy world on the bus or at home, but also another major source of inspiration. I find that that the progressive force of music, whether a Beethoven piano sonata or a song by Depeche Mode, helps keep me focused on moving forward with my work in progress.

Author's Book List
Through the Woods
Ben, fresh out of college, is starting his first week of work at a top secret governmental agency that lies deep in the protected woods in the north of the country. He can only pick up bits and pieces about the fantastical things that go on at 'the Agency,' but he quickly realizes that the team's current assignment might be biting off more than they can chew.

The experiment that his team is spending the most time on also has the most potential to go wrong, though only Ben seems to see it at first. What begins as a mundane procedural testing of some seemingly-ordinary house cats quickly flies out of control - for reasons that even the most veteran of the Agency researchers can scarcely believe.
Amazon Buy Page
Critical Incident
A wave of inexplicable vandalism from the city's homeless sweeps the town - but the more the local police force tug on the thread of what might be behind this strangely coordinated effort, the more their understanding of events unravels.

Soon, a group of officers are swept into a dark and deadly underground world of murder and medical supplies, chemicals and corruption, confusion and confectioner's gel. A head-scratching mystery quickly becomes a heart-pounding action thrill ride filled with twists, turns, and maybe even a Pez dispenser supercomputer or two.

With lives in the balance, what will be the outcome of the city's most 'CRITICAL INCIDENT' to date?

First, strange markings appear all over town, marks that turn out to be made by homeless people working in exchange for food. Then, women all over the city begin to disappear. Next, supplies are reported missing. Then, corpses start being found.

What is going on?

The more they look for answers, the more two officers of the city's police force begin finding fresh, murderous questions. Swiftly, their search leads to a deadly, 'CRITICAL INCIDENT.'
Book Trailer: Critical Incident
Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner. Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. Been following Troy's tweets for a few weeks-- one of the few who can actually elicit a response from me. Writing the book title down. Not my usual genre. Perfect. Thanks for sharing.