Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jeff Edwards - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Jeff Edwards. He is the award-winning author of Adventure and Military novels.

Author Genre: Adventure, Military

Website: Jeff Edwards
Author's Blog: The View From the Deck Plate
Twitter: @navythriller
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Jeff Edwards is a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, and an Anti-Submarine Warfare Specialist. His naval career spanned more than two decades and half the globe - from chasing Soviet nuclear attack submarines during the Cold War, to launching cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf.

Collectively, his novels have won the Admiral Nimitz Award for Outstanding Naval Fiction, the Reader’s Choice Award, the Clive Cussler Grandmaster Award for Adventure Writing, the Military Writers Society of America’s Gold Medal for Navy Fiction, and the American Author Medal.

He lives in California, where he consults for the Department of Defense. His first novel, Torpedo, (re-released as Sea of Shadows) has been optioned by film producer Paul L. Sandberg (The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum).

His most recent naval thriller, Sword of Shiva, was recently selected for the Independent Publishers of America Silver Medal for Military/Wartime Fiction.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’ve just finished the first draft of ‘Angel City Blues,’ which is the second David Stalin novel. It’s a sci-fi detective story, set about 50 years in the future, in a darkly dystopian version of Los Angeles. We’re still several months away from release, as it has to go through the editing process, and we need to gather feedback from advance readers. You asked for a teaser, so here goes... A wealthy young woman vanishes from her high-security apartment without leaving a single strand of DNA behind. No trace of the victim’s disappearance is recorded on any of the building’s many cameras or security sensors. Her apartment’s memory cores have been erased beyond any hope of recovery. To find the missing woman, Private Detective David Stalin must unravel a crime with no apparent motive, no imaginable means, and no conceivable opportunity. The truth, when he finds it, will blur the lines between pleasure and pain. Between fantasy and reality. Between life and death…

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

Social media can be a powerful tool for reaching out to readers, but people don’t log on to Twitter, or Goodreads, or Facebook to have marketing pitches shoved in their faces. I’ve built my following by engaging with people (and groups) who interest me. I read what they have to say, react to it, and toss in a few ideas of my own. The result is a series of entertaining and thought-provoking dialogues, instead of a calculated advertising scheme. If you connect with people instead of touting your novels like a carnival barker, a surprisingly large percentage of them will eventually decide to give one of your books a try. Some of those people will go on to read everything you write.

Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Between book signings and speaking engagements, I used to do as many as fifty author events a year. For a while, I also did a lot of radio interviews and a few television interviews. In my case, it turned out to be a lot of work for relatively little return. These days, I concentrate on blogging, social media, and writing new books. My next appearance will probably be the book launch for ‘Angel City Blues,’ a few months from now. If readers want to connect with me, they can visit my website at , and click on the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of the page.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

First, thanks for the compliment. I take branding very seriously. I like for each series of books to have a signature look that links them all together, while maintaining enough latitude to let each book stand out as an individual creation. When I’m designing the covers myself (as I sometimes do), I start out with the signature elements first. When I work with another designer, I start by having a conversation about what the signature elements should be. There may be a better way to go about it, but so far this method has resulted in covers that I’m proud to have on my books. I consult with a trusted group of readers during the development process, seeking feedback and ideas. (By trusted, I mean people who are capable of looking you in the eye, and telling you that your kids are ugly. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know that it exists.)

Besides the American Author’s Association, International Thriller Writers and Military Writer’s Society of America, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I think the three organizations you mentioned are about the extent of my affiliations/support groups. I don’t generally rely on them for marketing or publishing help, but they’re all excellent sources of critique and support during the writing process. I used to belong to a writers’ group called North County Scribblers, and the members were extremely helpful and a lot of fun to work with. But the long drive in end-of-day traffic was just too draining for me, so I ended up leaving the group. It was a strong group with fairly stable membership, so I’m sure they’re still in business.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, getting the book to your readers and the relationship with your readers and fans?

I don’t believe that eBooks have affected my writing, but they’ve certainly impacted my relationship with readers. Several of the electronic formats allow readers to highlight text, share passages, and leave comments which can be seen by other readers. This gives me something of an inside view of what some of my readers like (and don’t like) about my work, and provides me with clues regarding where I should try to improve in the future. Now that I think about it, eBooks might be having more of an impact on my writing than I realized. Hmmm…

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

At any given time, I’m usually offering one free eBook on my website as an enticement to new readers. So far, the results have been excellent. Based on reader feedback, it seems like most of people who download the free book go on to read other books from my lineup. I’ve also given away a few print editions via GoodReads, with similar results. Overall, the strategy has worked nicely for me. I’ve gained some loyal readers, and picked up some excellent reviews in the process.

How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I’m continually experimenting with strategies for managing story threads and timelines. I’ve used flowcharts, mind maps, spreadsheets, and everything else I could think of. My most successful tool to-date has been a series of linked tables that I created for myself in MS Word. They allow me to track times/dates, time zones, shifts in POV, plot points/critical actions, and key points of exposition. It’s sort of an overgrown outline, with lots of side notes to myself, and color-coding for ease of understanding.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing interesting information to readers about our military. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

I have a lot of fun with the blog. I don’t follow any particular posting schedule. When something catches my attention, or pisses me off, or tickles my funny bone, it usually turns into a blog entry. I tend to write about collective heroism, and the real heroes who make a difference in our world. In many cases, the stories are about military personnel, but not always by any means. Some of my best blog posts are about people who have never worn the uniform, and probably never will. I try to focus on the kind of heroes who don’t usually attract the media spotlight, or capture the attention of the public. I mean school teachers, police officers, bus drivers, nurses, firefighters, helpful neighbors, and anyone who rises to the challenge of making our lives safer, or doing their part to build a better world and a brighter future. (If you know someone who fits the bill, drop me a line, and I’ll do my best to bring his/her story to light.)

Congratulations on Sea of Shadows being optioned by film producer Paul L. Sandberg. (see more about Sea of Shadows below) What a great honor. Is there any timetable for production? How did you solicit the book for selection?

We don’t have a timeline for Sea of Shadows yet. One of my other novels, Dome City Blues, has also been optioned by Paul Sandberg, and it’s actually closer to a green light than Sea of Shadows is. I didn’t actually do anything to solicit the producer’s interest. My (then) agent was pitching Paul on a project by a different author, and Dome City Blues got mentioned. A few days later, Paul read the book and called to offer an option contract. I apologize for the cloak-and-dagger answer, but I’ve been asked not to say more. I promise you, when the time comes, I’ll be singing from the rooftops.

Author's Book List
Sword of Shiva

Three Tibetan rebels attack a train carrying Chinese soldiers into the Tibet Autonomous Region. The rebels escape across the Himalayas into India, unaware that the son of China’s First Vice-Premier lays maimed and dying among the burning wreckage of the train.

As an escalating series of retaliations drive China and India toward outright war, hostilities spill over into the sea, and the Bay of Bengal becomes a crucible of naval warfare.

The president of the United States orders a U.S. Navy strike group into the area as a stabilizing force, but the situation between the two nations has already deteriorated beyond any hope of peaceful resolution.

With Asia hovering on the brink of annihilation, a small force of U.S. warships must defeat the Chinese Navy to preempt the coming firestorm.

The fuse has already been lit…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - KOBO
Dome City Blues
Los Angeles: 2063 David Stalin was one of the best detectives in the business, running head-to-head with data-jackers, organ thieves, and the tech-enhanced gangs who ruled the shadowy streets of Los Angeles. He could do no wrong, until what seemed like an easy case got out of control, and left his wife dead among the abandoned ruins of old LA. After four years of self-imposed retirement, David suddenly finds himself back on the job, struggling to unravel a crime far worse than murder. This time, he’s not the hunter. As he’s about to discover, the past isn’t finished with him yet.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - KOBO
Sea of Shadows
OUT GUNNED… OUT MANEUVERED… OUT THOUGHT… THE ONLY WAY TO SURVIVE IS TO CHANGE THE RULES. A minor accident at a German nuclear power plant, a Biological Warfare attack on the British Embassy in Washington, DC, and a secret arms deal combine to drive a trusted NATO Ally into an illegal alliance with a rogue Middle Eastern state. With the world hovering on the brink of war, a handful of U.S. Navy warships must track down and destroy a wolfpack of state-of-the-art submarines. Their enemy is skilled in deception, and incredibly lethal. Out-gunned, out-maneuvered, and out-thought, the U.S. Navy crews must throw the rulebook out the window, and become every bit as devious and deadly as their enemy. If they fail, the consequences are unthinkable…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - KOBO
The Seventh Angel

A military revolt in southeastern Russia puts a former hard-line Soviet leader in command of a ballistic missile submarine and its arsenal of nuclear weapons. His goal: re-ignite the communist revolution, and recapture the might and glory of the fallen Soviet Union. Without warning, Russia, Japan, and the United States become hostages in a scheme of international nuclear blackmail. When the warheads start falling and people begin dying, no one can pretend that it’s a bluff.

As the earth rushes toward extinction, a lone U.S. Navy warship must penetrate the Siberian ice pack to destroy the submarine before it can destroy the world.

It may already be too late.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - KOBO
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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