Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Glenn Trust - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Glenn Trust. He writes Thriller and Suspense novels including the Bestselling Hunters Series.

Author Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense

Website: Glenn Trust / Sweat Equity Books
Twitter: @GlennTrust
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
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Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
A native of the south, Glenn Trust was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1951, the first of five children.

His father's work as a salesman filled his early years with moves from the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Georgia to Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Petersburg, Virginia and Baltimore, until finally returning to the Atlanta area in 1965. From then on, he remained a Georgian, going to school and growing up in the Atlanta area.

Varied work and life experiences have given him an appreciation for the virtues and faults of people at all levels of society.

He says about his work, "For the record, I love people, the humanity that populates the world. People are infinitely interesting, all of them. I may not like certain individuals and I may hate the things they do, but as a group, I am fascinated by people.

"I do work at trying to understand human strengths and frailties, and try above all else in writing to bring life and reality to the characters in my stories. The white hats the heroes wear are intentionally spotted and grayed by their own demons and struggles. The bad guys are not always misunderstood Robin Hoods. Sometimes they are just truly bad with no possibility of social redemption.

"In the end, the stories are fiction, about fictional people. I believe that through fiction, some of the greatest truths may be discussed and discovered about our humanity, or the lack of it.

"Finally, like real people, the characters I try to paint are not completely good and rarely completely evil. Like most of us, they lie somewhere in between."

To date, Glenn Trust has authored eight novels including The Hunters series of mystery/suspense thrillers and the Blue Eyes mystery/romance series featuring the exploits of Alice Trent, a woman making her way in a difficult world.

The work he considers his most important is Dying Embers, a novel about friendship, coming of age and overcoming the societal failings of the past. It is set during the turbulent days of the 1960's in the south during desegregation, a time that he personally experienced.

Lightning in the Clouds, a collection of short stories dealing with "end of life" events was published in February 2015. Others are planned.

While writing is his passion, he is also an avid RVer, walker, guitar player and reader, he resides with his wife in Nevada where they make the most of every opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy this beautiful world.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Fire and Blood. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thank you, James, and thanks for having me on the HBS Spotlight. Happy to share that with you. The next book coming is titled “Blue Water Horizon”, working title, of course, as they seem to change during the editing process sometimes. It’s the third book in the Blue Eyes Series, a bit lesser known than The Hunters, but building a following. I won’t mention where it is set because I will be running a little contest with my Email followers to guess where the book’s story takes place.

The series follows the travels and life of Alice Trent, a young woman living just outside of the law. Alone in the world at an early age, Alice had to learn to survive. Her background is spotted and perhaps a bit shady, but she is a good person at heart, making her way the best way she can. Never a part of the mainstream “normal” society, Alice wants to be like the rest of the world, friends, family, work, never looking over her shoulder, but life has taken her down a different path.

Actually, I’m glad you asked about the next book because others have asked how I came up with a central character who is a woman. I suppose some think it a bit strange that a man would write about a woman, especially since The Hunters is focused on a male law enforcement character, George Mackey.

The short answer is I was a police officer in the Metro Atlanta area from 1977 to 1987, DeKalb County to be exact. Among other experiences, I frequently encountered women who were victims of abuse, physical, psychological, economic - it took many forms. I became aware that many had been thrust into very hard circumstances at a young age through no fault of their own and for any number of reasons - family origins, education, abuse, other reasons. I wanted a strong female character who overcomes and rises out of and above her victimization. Alice is that character. She is a survivor and a good person who sees beyond her own problems while struggling to find the “normal life” that she sees others living around her.

And because Alice is on the run, I get to take her to different locations and settings, something I am limited in with the Hunters Series regional set in the south and Georgia. I like being able to move her around and explore different geographic areas in the stories.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Honestly, I am a stumbling fool when it comes to social media. I have worked hard on Twitter and Facebook since I decided to become an independent author, but I am constantly learning. My following built over time simply through consistent activity, following, tweeting, etc. I had no idea what I was doing but knew that I had to get my name and work out there somehow. Social Media is marketing, and I think some authors think it will be a huge sales driver. It’s not.

There is a difference between marketing and sales. I have explained it to others this way. A car manufacturer advertises on television. There is no expectation that everyone who sees the ad will buy a car, or that particular car, but the car manufacturer’s name becomes part of the common social experience. Some of the people who see the ad will eventually buy a car, and some of those will buy that manufacturers car. If it is a good car, they will recommend it to others and so on.

For me, social media is marketing. I don’t see many sales from any particular set of Facebook posts or Twitter tweets, but I want as many people as possible to know about my work. When they are ready to read a book, hopefully, some of them will think of me. I work hard to put out a quality product in my books, so that hopefully, readers will recommend them to others.

As far as a book launch, I have to admit, I am terrible at that. I have never actually done an official book launch. I might send a few Twitter and Facebook messages but generally, I get a book out and move on to the next while I let social media activity build a buzz around the new book. By the time I have finished with editing and agonizing over a book, I am always eager to get to the next project. So, I guess I’m not a very good example for book launching.

Fortunately, as the reader audience has grown there always seems to be a spike in downloads as fans are waiting for the next book. I say it at the end of every book, and I mean it, I am truly grateful for those who take time out of their reading experience to read my books. There are a lot of choices out there among authors and to have people choose mine is humbling for an old redneck from Georgia, and that’s the truth.

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?

I haven’t yet, but there is a group here in Las Vegas that wants me to schedule one with them. I will probably do it in the next couple of months, once I get “Blue Water Horizon” put to bed. The best way to track what I am doing is to subscribe to my Email Group at http://glenntrust.com/?page_id=843.

They can also subscribe to my Blog at my website http://glenntrust.com/?page_id=153.
I do give advance information about what’s coming up to those who have become part of the email group. For now, I am also giving a free Kindle edition of one of my books to those who join the Email Group and will continue to do so, unless it becomes cost prohibitive.

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?

Thanks. I appreciate that. Covers were something new to me, and I have had to learn a lot over the years. I actually design and produce all of my covers. For me, Cover Design has become part of the artistic process in writing the book. I usually get into the book, see where the story takes me, what key themes there are, where the drama, conflict, tension, etc. will be in the story and try to incorporate that in the cover.

I suppose my covers are a reflection of my personal tastes. I am not a big fan overly artsy, fantasy-style covers and artwork. I like photographic images. I have purchased the rights to use some, and others are images I have taken myself with my trusty Nikon D40. I try to keep the books real to life and want the covers to do the same. The cover to ‘Sanctioned Murder’, was probably the most difficult for me. ‘Eyes of the Predator’ was a simple cover in concept but required the most time to complete as it was my first.

Branding, as you mention, is important. I do try to stand out from the crowd, sometimes more successfully than others, but in the end, they are my creation.

I have never yet involved readers in cover creation. I guess I’m stingy about the creative process, and as I said, for me, covers are part of that process. I don’t mind editing, and I have circulated some covers ahead of time to associates to get their input, but in the end, I want the cover to reflect the story that I have put my heart…and sweat…into writing.

You have written a short story collection called Lightning in the Clouds. Can you tell us if it had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

Thanks for asking about the short stories. ‘Lightning in the Clouds’ was one of my favorite projects. I have always been a fan of the short story format. Short works of Bradbury and Hemingway are among my favorites. In fact, a long time ago, when I was a young police officer, I wrote short stories on an old Olivetti-Underwood typewriter… double carbons…send in off with a self-addressed envelope to get the manuscript back. Almost had one published by a national magazine, but I was young…not overly smart…and had a young family to take care of so I decided to augment my small police officer salary with as many part-time jobs as I could work. My active writing fell by the wayside, and so did the short stories.

‘Lightning in the Clouds’ was written solely because the stories were inside and needed to come out, not so readers could sample, although if they do, great. There are plenty more stories floating around in my head, and I will probably put out another collection in the next couple of years, in between novels. Writing short stories gives me time to recharge the batteries after a long project. The format by nature is compact and requires more conciseness than a major novel.

I did dedicate the collection to a friend who passed away after a battle with cancer. His fight and acceptance of what was happening were an inspiration to me.

Don’t know that there has been a great impact on sales of my novels. There have probably been a few readers of the collection of stories who went out and picked up one of the novels, but I haven’t seen any swing one way or the other.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called Hunters Series. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

There has been some impact on sales, not huge but steady I think. Putting the series together started as a marketing idea to allow readers who may have read my books to gift them to others around the holidays at a reduced price. I kept the collection out there because there are some who like the format, not having to wait for the next book, or having to go out and find it and download it.

So, mostly, it’s about reader/customer satisfaction. That’s a big topic with me. As much as I am passionate about writing and work hard to create a unique and thrilling, sad, happy, tearful, joyful thought-provoking experience for readers, it is always about them, the readers. Without them, I could not write. With them, we can share the adventure and thrill of writing from our separate but parallel experience in a book.

I like providing some benefit to readers, where I can afford it, as a way of showing appreciation for them. In addition to art, writing is a business, if you want to continue writing that is, and reader/customer satisfaction is critical. May sound a bit Pollyannaish, but it’s true.

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?

That’s a tough one. Honestly, sometimes it is painful to know you are handing out books for free when you just spent months writing and fine-tuning a story. One of the Hunters books may have four to six months of work in them, a thousand hours of creative labor. In short, it galls just to give it away as if it has no worth.

But the other side of that is that when I started as a new writer, completely unknown, free promotions helped me build awareness among readers…marketing again. And sales do go up for a brief time after a promotion like that. I think free promotions and others promotions are an important part of a marketing plan, especially for new authors.

I did participate in one other giveaway, on a book marketing website. It was time-consuming and had little to no effect on sales, so I stopped those types of promotions.

The other form of successful promotion I use is to discount books for a period of time. I do this either through Amazon as a Countdown Deal, or on my own and mark a book down in price for a period of time. These have been very successful and allow me to focus on what I should be doing with most of my time – writing.

I am running a couple of free promotions this month and it will probably be the last time these particular books are ever promoted as free, so that should tell you where I, and probably most authors, stand on free promotions. They are a necessary evil, but we do like to eat and at some point we have to charge a reasonable price for the work we produce, or we have to find something else to do. It’s a fine balance.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

I do have an Email subscriber list. As I mentioned, readers can subscribe at http://glenntrust.com/?page_id=843.
This is one of those topics for which I am probably not the best person to give advice. My efforts in this area are fairly minimal. I [ut a blurb at the end of every book and have had readers contact me or subscribe from there. I also have a Signup button on my Author Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Glenn-Trust/138826146274201
that will take people to the Email subscription link. I should probably do more, but I always get distracted by that pesky writing thing…next story floating around inside that is waiting for its turn to come out.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. 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?

Again, thanks. I enjoy blogging but have to be careful it doesn’t interfere with the creative writing that is my love. Sometimes it is tempting to spend more time blogging than I should. My primary goal in blogging and maintaining a website is to stay in touch with readers. Don’t mean to be repetitive, but it really is all about them.

As far as time, it is an issue. The simple way to put it is that I work…every day. If you’ve read some of my blog posts for writers you have noticed that my primary advice is to stop making excuses and write. A serious writer who wants to take up the profession of letters as their lifework must accept that it is a job, like any other passion…carpentry, flying jets, being an astronaut, designing bridges…whatever the life passion you must commit to it and then do it.

For me, that means I am up early, coffee’d up, treadmill, workout, shower sh** and shaved. I then sit down and…work. I don’t hesitate. I dive into whatever project that is on the agenda. I work all day, at least five days a week, sometimes more, as I did when I gave my time to an employer, except now I give it to me, and my readers. As I have said in some of my Blog posts, I don’t overdramatize creative writing, turn it into some self-indulgent drama, I believe in just doing it. So I dive in with gusto every day, and I love it.

Some days go better than others; some days are more productive, but there are not days when I shake my head and say, gee it’s just not coming today. When it doesn’t come, I just work harder until the log jam breaks and makes up for the slow creative times.

There is a time for social media, blogging, marketing, managing your writing business and creative writing. Every writer has to decide what the time commitment balance is for those activities, but if you aren’t giving yourself enough time in the day and putting in effort, you won’t be able to fit everything in that is necessary. In short, there is no secret or magic bullet. You must work if you want to write.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

First point on this, I never pay for reviews. I know some have in the past, and I think that has hurt all of us as independent authors. Paid reviews damage the credibility of the independent writer – reader relationship, so for any new authors out there…do not do it.

A few times I have asked for editorial reviews from book reviewers, there a couple out there on Eyes of the Predator and Dying Embers. In those cases, I sent free copies of the books in exchange for an honest review, nothing more.

In general, I rely on readers to provide reviews. People on my Email list are given the opportunity to become part of the “launch team” by receiving an early free copy of the book for an honest review. Sometimes they review a book, sometimes they do not. I give away more books than I receive reviews. Not much I can do about that. Reviews are critical to getting new readers to stop in their browsing and examine your work for more than a tenth of a second.

I do try to remind readers that reviews are essential. If you have a favorite author, any author, not just me, the best single thing a reader can do that author is to write a review and if you like the book, a positive review. The one thing that does have a demonstrable impact on sales is quality reviews. So, if you want to keep your author writing, take the time to give an honest review.

As a final note, I would like to mention that of all the books I have written my personal favorite is ‘Dying Embers’. It takes place in the south at about the time I was in high school. Not part of the interview and won’t into detail here, but if there is a work of mine that is important, I would say ‘Dying Embers’ is it.

Author's Book List
Fire and Blood - The Redemption - The Hunters Book 5
Redemption has a high price. Sometimes, it can only be paid in blood. Haunted by the ghosts of his past, George Mackey faces the demons of the present as he and Sharon Price struggle to keep their relationship and love intact. The saga that began in ‘Eyes of the Predator’ comes full circle, reuniting Mackey with Lyn and Clay, the characters that were at the center of events in the first book of The Hunters Series.

Enlisted by Cy Purcell to find them and thwart the kidnapping and murders of Clay and Lyn, George embarks on a hunt that calls into play all of his investigative skills and experience. His dedication and sacrifice take him down paths few others would tread.

‘Fire and Blood’ is a suspense thriller that contrasts the darkness of the human experience with the inherent goodness and light in most of humanity. Along the way, George and the other the lost souls of the story face their demons and find their redemption.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Blood Reckoning - The Pickham County War - The Hunters Book 4
It had to come to this. One wanted blood. The other wanted an ending. Both wanted a Reckoning. George Mackey and 'The Hunters' take on the return of Roy Budroe's spreading crime empire and rural Pickham County is caught in the middle, rocked by a bloody war between the two sides. Along the way, Mackey must face his demons from the past and risk losing everything, including the woman he loves.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Criminal Enterprise - Black Water Murder - The Hunters Book 3
Hidden away in the black water swamps of southern Georgia a criminal enterprise is spreading its tentacles, leaving blood, bodies and pain in its path. An alliance with a Caribbean cartel gives the southern mobsters the international reach they require for expansion and export of their terrible merchandise. Nothing will stand in their path, except The Hunters.

Teamed together as part of the governor's Office of Special Investigations,George Mackey, Sharon Price and Andy Barnes go undercover to break up the crime syndicate. Supported by pilot Johnny Rincefield and rookie sheriff, Jake Beery, the hunt takes them to the black water of the Okefenokee Swamp and a deadly confrontation with an unlikely suspect.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Sanctioned Murder - The Hunters Book 2
The string of bloody bodies scattered across the Georgia landscape seem to have nothing in common. From different neighborhoods, different levels of society and with different political philosophies, the victims have only one connection. They are all on a list. The question is, why and whose list is it?

Brought together by the list, "The Hunters" unite, once again, and work to unravel the conspiracy behind the murders. George Mackey, Sharon Price and Bob Shaklee are joined by Andrew Barnes and Perry Boyd of the elite Atlanta Homicide Division in a hunt that takes them from inner-city Atlanta to the swamps of south Georgia.

The story's gripping conclusion explodes in the revelation of the conspirators' identities. The one task left for the Hunters is to confront and take down the killing team, if they can.

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Barnes and Noble

Eyes of the Predator - The Pickham County Murders - The Hunters Book 1
Eyes scanning, searching, the predator looks like...us. He could be anyone and within hours a backwater south Georgia county will be rocked by two seemingly unrelated murders that signal the arrival of a serial killer in the rural southland.

Hunting the killer and preventing the next brutal murder falls to a plainspoken country deputy and two agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). It is a race against time to save the next victim and the chase leads north from the swamps along the Florida line to the foothills of the Appalachians.

GBI agents Bob Shaklee and Sharon Price know that Deputy George Mackey is a natural hunter and if anyone can find the sadistic killer, Mackey can. But Mackey, haunted by his own demons can only wonder if he will be late again. It is his greatest fear.

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Barnes and Noble

Dying Embers
Were you there? Many of us were.The embers of hate and bigotry had not died. Smoldering beneath the ashes of a hundred years, they glowed dim but hot, waiting to be fanned into flaming life. Set in the 1960’s during the time of school desegregation, ‘Dying Embers’ is a story of love, hate, terrible tragedy and immense courage. It is a story of growing up.

Six young people cling to their friendship while the war of racial bigotry rages around them. They mature and learn life’s lessons as the society and culture in which they live is painfully remolded. Their world is a world of contradiction. Good people with bad ideas born out of tradition are forced to make choices that will alter their universe, sending it spinning in directions they had never imagined. They are forced to confront those whose hatred was born out of ignorance and self-loathing.

A young man who had never known friendship learns it in an uncommon way from an unlikely source. Together, they learn that the bonds of friendship have no color.

Maturing can be a difficult process for the young. For the traditions and culture of an entire society, it can be, it was, excruciatingly painful.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Lightning in the Clouds - Journey and Passage
It is always there, the lightning, sometimes hovering over our heads flashing in the clouds…sometimes distant, below the horizon. But it is always there. No one escapes, and when it calls...we will go.

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Barnes and Noble

A Desert View - Blue Eyes Book 2
Whatever happened to Alice?

She is back, working on her new life, trying to be like everyone else…normal. But normal for Alice is very different from most. Friends, work, love…her life…are all tainted by her past and the hard years of her youth. Strong and resilient, Alice is in Las Vegas now, hoping and working for that new life. But then circumstances take her down old familiar paths and the little voice inside reminds her of what she truly is…a survivor.

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Barnes and Noble

An Empty Tree - Blue Eyes Book 1
Her blue eyes were luminous. They saved her life...for a while.

An odyssey begins and so does the saga of Alice Trent. Along the a mystery unravels that will lead inexorably towards a fateful meeting. The paths of the travelers move randomly and relentlessly towards a single point of life and death. The twists and turns along the way leave you wondering who are the "good guys and bad guys". The final encounter leaves no doubt that things are not always as they appear.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

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

1 comment:

  1. Great interview for a really great author....Once you read one of the books, the others are a necessity. Anxiously waiting to see what happens to Alice, one of my all-time favorite characters.