I would like to thank my good friend Superphoenix (http://superphoenix.wordpress.com/) for this honor :)
11 random facts about me
1. My wife and I are paranormal nuts and plan on buying some equipment and conducting our own investigations.
2. I didn’t start writing until I was 54 years old. Until then, I had written no fiction whatsoever.
3. I was married July 14, 2012. The third time is a charm. She is my best friend, and the love of my life.
5. My father’s adoptive family have their roots in Germany. However, in the United States, the entire population of the family can be traced to three men – a father and two sons. They settled in Western Pennsylvania in the mid-17th century. They had to leave Germany because they had poached on a count’s land, and when caught, one of the count’s dogs was killed in the ensuing pursuit.
6. I will see Australia one day.
7. Genealogy is another of my passions, and I have traced one branch of my family to 1595. Three of these family members were brothers, and they were in a militia unit that participated in The Battle of Lake Erie, in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry soundly drubbed the English Navy, and turned the tide of the War of 1812. Their father had also been in the militia – during the Revolutionary War.
8. When I retire, I’m going to write full time, along with editing professionally.
9. I’ve either lived or worked for extended periods of time in Washington, D.C., MIssissippi, Massachusetts, Louisiana, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, California, Alaska, New York, Indiana, Ohio, and Japan.
10. My favorite author of all time is Dean Koontz.
11. I’ve been riding trail bikes and motorcycles since I was 11 years old, have owned four street bikes, and will one day own a Harley.
My answers to the 11 questions:
1. What is the first thing you heard and saw when you woke up in the morning today?
Our cat Chirp. It’s Sunday, and he was on the bed, in my face, and telling me that I had slept long enough.
2. What is the one location that means for you-heaven on earth?
About 20 miles from my house is a little coastal community called Folly Beach. It has a pier that goes out into the ocean 1,200 feet. My wife and I were married on the end of the pier, and it’s our favorite place to spend an afternoon or evening, watching folks fish and frolic on the beach, the gulls wheel and squall, and occasionally catching a glimpse of a dolphin.
3. Of all the movies that you have seen, name a villain that you would rather have saved and why?
Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, the leader of the rogue military squadron in “The Rock”. Hummel had led countless black ops in Viet Nam and other conflicts, and had seen his troops killed and buried – or counted as missing in action – with their families receiving not so much as a thank you for their loved one’s service. He and his mercenaries took hostages in Alcatraz and pointed missiles at San Francisco to call attention to these atrocities, and wanted only an acknowledgement for the sacrifice of brave men. He ended up dying for his beliefs – and the injustices remained. It bothers me most because although the story was fiction, its basis is probably true.
4. One fine day, you get up and decide you want to get a tattoo done. What would it be and on which part of your body would you get it done?
I actually did this, when I turned 50. I was studying karate, and got a tattoo of two long, sinuous dragons, their bodies wrapped around my biceps, their heads toward one another, and the yin yang symbol above them.
5. Which song aptly describes the current scene in your life? Please share with us the first two lines here.
“Back in Black”, by AC/DC. It’s a long story, but three years ago, I experienced a rebirth, and now feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life. The first two lines are:
Back in black, I hit the sack
I’ve been too long, I’m glad to be back
6. If you were approached to be part of a remake of an action movie – which movie would you choose and which character would you like to play?
I’d love to be Indiana Jones in a remake of any of Harrison Ford’s movies. They were all a mixture of adventure, travel, and delving into dark secrets while touching on history and foreign customs and beliefs. That’s an ideal combination for me.
7. If you had a chance to rewrite the fate of Romeo and Juliet, how would you end the book?
You know, I don’t think I’d change a thing. That play teaches some very valuable life lessons. Juliet’s decision to kill herself teaches that occasionally it’s best to sacrifice yourself instead of accepting circumstances with which you simply can’t agree. And Romeo shows us a dedication and love for Juliet that few of us – if any – have the good fortune to attain. Their decisions are a great example of pure love.
8. Remember your first love… name one trait (physical) of that person that still makes your brain get all fuddled up.
I don’t have to remember her. It’s going to sound odd, but my wife is my first love. And it’s her eyes. They’re a beautiful shade of brown, and dance with a light that makes the rest of the world go away.
9. Imagine yourself to be suddenly in possession of the key to this treasure trove – a cross between Scrooge’s money bin and Genie’s treasure cave — what will be the very first thing that you will buy with that money/gold?
The first thing would be mundane. – pay off all my bills and debts. The next one wouldn’t be – a brand new Mustang Cobra for me and an SUV of her choice for my wife.
10. You have foreknowledge that your city is about to be attacked by aliens in the next one hour. What’s your action plan?
The same as if anyone invades. I’ll go straight to a gun shop, buy four semi-automatic assault rifles, four 9mm pistols, and an ample supply of ammo for all. By then it’ll be time to rock ‘n roll…
11. In times when troubled thoughts invade your peace of mind, what do you do to soothe yourself?
Only a few miles from our place is a city park with a large lake. It has several good fishing holes, but there’s one in particular that’s my favorite. It’s right next to a marsh with a large population of cranes, egrets, and ducks, and has shade trees that house squirrels and song birds. There’s typically little in the way of traffic nearby, and it’s relatively secluded. It’s there I go to think and reflect (with a fishing pole, of course.)
Now, my Liebster Award nominees
Virginia Lori Jennings
Lorraine Jean Bush
Tim (T.W.) Dittmer
And my 11 questions to these fine folks:
1. What’s the one thing you like most about being an author?
2. What’s the one thing you like least about being an author?
3. You’ve just won a sweepstakes, and the prize is an all-expenses-paid vacation to any destination you choose. Where are you headed, and why?
4. You get a phone call from an author who wants to collaborate with you in the writing of a novel. Who do you want to be on the phone?
5. What’s the one thing that you want to accomplish before you die?
6. What’s the one happy memory that stands out from your childhood?
7. Which one person has been the biggest influence on your life?
8. What’s the best decision you ever made in your life?
9. What’s the worst decision you ever made in your life?
10. What is the best book you ever read and why?
11. You’ve been asked to play a monster in a horror movie. Which one would you want to play?
Of course, the rules are that each of you prepare a post listing 11 random facts about yourself, answers to my 11 questions, then pass on the award to 11 of your pals. Get to it :)
First of all, let me state a disclaimer to my headline above. What I’m about to say has absolutely NOTHING to do with any of the friends and acquaintances I’ve made on my blog, Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter. The writers, reviewers, and bloggers I’ve come upon are jovial, gracious, and forthright to a man – or woman.
However. I’ve become increasingly aware of a stigma out there on the web. One that’s attached to me – or any other traditionally published writer. That awareness has been growing, and today, when I read one final article about the Amazon review removal debacle, I’d finally had enough.
To anyone who thinks I have the same privileges and standing as Stephen King or Dean Koontz, forget it! See, about every post I’ve read on the review subject has been headed by the words “Indie author” in some fashion – as though the whole thing doesn’t affect every swingin’ writer out there. You kidding?
Now, I’ll say this. As a writer that’s backed by a small (and yes, Greyhart is small) press, I do enjoy a few things. Okay. I get a few books to hand out to friends. I get some extra muscle in regards to marketing and so on. But let me tell you something. I (and I can speak for my fellow writers at Greyhart too) have been working my big bulbous butt off to get a foothold for my book. Mr. King can afford to lose 50 reviews – hell, he can loose 500 and not worry about it. Me? Hell no!
See, it’s like this. Despite whatever advantages (either read or perceived) traditional authors enjoy, success – at least from a monetary standpoint – comes down to one thing. Selling books. And good, honest, subjective reviews are an integral part of that success. Removing any of them detracts from potential sales – period.
So, let’s do this. Let’s forget about all the monikers, shall we. We’re writers, pure and simple. And anything Amazon – or any other big book seller – does affects us all, including the removal of reviews. Whatever is wrong up in the magic kingdom of Amazonia needs to be addressed – by all writers.
Click on the cover to get it on Amazon!
TR: Good morning, Travis, and thanks for coming.
TL: Morning, Thomas. Thank you for the invite.
TR: So, let’s get this party started. How old were you when you wrote your first piece?
TL: I was 37.
TR: What was it, and in what genre?
TR: So The Nightlife is your first book…good for you! What made you write it?
TL: At a very early age I developed a love of all things strange and macabre: horror-fantasy-sci/fi books and films. I became an avid reader of Steven King, Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, and many many more authors. I read everything I could get my hands on in these authors, they couldn’t publish enough material to keep me going. It was many years later, while reading an urban fantasy novel, that inspiration struck.
I thought to myself, why aren’t there novels that have this, that, and the other thing? Why can’t I find novels with a particular/peculiar blending of genres and elements? Maybe I should write those novels.
Once the idea hit, it sunk in deep to the core, to a place where I could not remove it without ripping out an integral part of my soul. I became convinced-obsessed with the idea that I could write novels that I myself would wish to read. Perhaps that’s a strange idea, perhaps it’s even foolish, but regardless, I started writing. I haven’t stopped since.
If it were up to me, if my wife and children and life did not throw me an intervention throughout the day and night, I would write 16+ hours per day. Like that catchy little ditty from the Rolling Stones, “If you start me up, if you start me up I never stop.”
TR: I’ve read some other cross-genre works. It’s a great idea. What have you written since then?
TL: I have a Young Adult Paranormal Suspense novel of about 80,000 words that will be published by the end of October, and two-three more novels in the Nightlife Series that will finish editing and rewrites by the end of this year–hopefully.
TR: Sounds like you’re going to be a busy boy. What was the inspiration for your current book?
TL: I wanted to combine several elements of horror/romance/urban-fantasy vampire novels to create a unique blend that is distinctly my own. I have spent some volunteer time helping addicts, so I also found my writing moving into areas of addiction. The Nightlife Series delves into some of the negative effects of drug addiction. It’s loaded with all the gritty “nightlife” components you could ever want: escorts, strippers, pimps, nightclubs, and prostitution.
In a way, I am able to live very vicariously through these dark romantic fantasy novels. My characters get to do all the things that propriety dictates I should not do. It’s my way of creating my own personal escape into a dark, decadent, dangerous place.
TR: I get you. Escape is one of the many benefits of being able to create a world, isn’t it? So, tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.
TL: “The Nightlife New York” is currently available 100% FREE at both Amazon: www.amazon.com/The-Nightlife-York-Series-ebook/dp/B0090P1MIU/ and Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/217404
Vampires, strippers, escorts, night clubs, gangs, pimps and corrupt cops, the Nightlife of New York is never boring.
Is she a beautiful blond guardian angel as he imagined, or something else entirely? When Michelle saves Aaron‘s life she shares the benefits of her blood––after getting him shot accidentally. He awakes a changed man, living in a purgatory of eternal night, never to see the sunrise again.
Michelle drags him through a hardcore learning curve of vampiric slavery. Forced to adapt to servitude, he is subject to her authority of compulsion. She orders him around like a puppet on a string, a dog on a very short leash. First things first, he must learn to feed properly without creating bloodslaves––humans addicted to the powerful drug-like effect of their venomous bite.
And then she puts him to work–a male escort in the sex trade–same as Michelle. Aaron walks a tightrope of strictly controlled feeding regiments and intensely erotic sexual adventures while catering to the neurotic control-freak tendencies of his new master. It’s do or die, Michelle vows to eliminate him if he proves too difficult to control. Amidst all these shocking and degrading adjustments, Aaron finds he’s falling in love.
Can he maintain her rules and keep a sliver of his humanity intact? Innocence is a luxury few can afford in the decadent nightlife of New York. In a world where sex, blood, and power over women is so readily accessible, Aaron struggles against the predatory instincts deeply rooted in his new psyche. He must find his way quickly, practicing rigid self-control, or risk the consequences of Michelle’s wrath.
TR: Sounds fantastic. In fact, I’ve already picked the book up from Amazon, and can’t wait to read it. Is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?
TL: Anything anywhere can spark an idea. Movies, novels, music, real-life experiences. It all gets weaved together as the muse takes on a life of its own, driving me to write. There are numerous scenarios in my novels that I have personally witnessed or experienced or read about. Now every time I watch a fantasy-horror-sci-fi-paranormal film or TV series, I automatically go into creative mode. My mind sparks off ideas left and right. At the same time I evaluate the plots, dialogue and characters of whatever I’m watching. It kinda changes the whole experience of just watching a movie for entertainment.
Macabre flights of fancy in film are research and development material for my writing.
TR: What made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?
TL: As soon as I heard of the platforms for Independent publishing of eBooks via Amazon KDP and Smashwords, I knew I would never bother to wait for a traditional Agent/Publisher deal to come along. From that moment forward I focused on writing and publishing. I never bothered to waste my time and energy on query letters and useless emails to dozens of inundated Agents/Publishers. They need me about as much as I need them.
I’m now such a control freak over every word that goes into a novel, every detail of editing and the cover art, I can’t imagine how I’d ever be able to accommodate a publisher and Agent telling me what to do. I truly enjoy my freedom. I write in any genre I please–Young Adult–Paranormal Romance–Urban Fantasy–Science Fiction.
I have done some editing for an author who is publishing a sci-fi erotic novel through an Agent/Publisher relationship. It boggles my mind how much control she gives them over her manuscript. I couldn’t do it.
TR: I know. It’s a tough situation, letting someone else play with your baby. If you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?
TL: Well, each element of the platform serves a specific purpose, your blog, website, and the various social media outlets for connecting with people. For me, twitter is the most important thing going for connecting with potential readers, creating future fans of my Nightlife Series. I spend way way too much time on twitter. But I am also making new connections daily, expanding my readership and fanbase. I equate it to an investment of time. That’s what I keep telling my wife ;)
I’m doing the same thing as you on twitter. Hard to find that balance, isn’t it? What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
I think that right out the gate it’s vital to have two key components, especially as an Indie publisher with nothing backing you. You must have a good-looking cover that fits your genre, and you must have a well edited, entertaining and engaging read.
If you’re missing one of those two components, the platform and promotions and all that will be in vain. Unknown authors are judged by their covers and the chapter or two of preview that’s available through Amazon. You better look good and have a novel that grabs the reader, pulls them in and doesn’t let go.
I did not use an editor when I published my first edition of “The Nightlife New York”, didn’t have one. I have since made enough connections and relationships in online social media and communities to acquire a good editor, and I wish I had done so prior to publishing. My second edition is uploaded and fully edited, but there’s about 1500 downloads floating around out there of my earlier unedited version.
TR: So what’s coming up from you?
TL: I have the next three Nightlife Series novels written, and I’m working on rewrites and edits now. I have a near future dark utopia Sci-fi novel set in 2064 that I need to rewrite. I have ideas plotted out for four more Nightlife Series novels, and another Young Adult novel focused on some very strange unintended consequences of identity theft.
I also have a novel series planned that involves the modern day practice of Wicca, Voodoo, and Candomblé. The first novel of the series is written but needs rewritten and edited. It’s basically a battle of good vs. evil using the modern practice of witchcraft, and will involve many supernatural elements.
In a nutshell: I have the next two years of writing-editing-publishing already planned out.
TR: Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck to you, Travis.
TL: Thanks, Thomas. And thank you so very much for extending your offer of an interview. Is Indie authors need all the exposure we can get to combat obscurity.
There you go, folks. A man with a definite plan. Below are some other goodies about “The Nightlife” series, and contact info for Travis. You can pick up your copy of the first installment of “Nightlife” today. Go get one!
Tuesday, my interview will be with my good pal D.G. (Dawn Torrens). Be there!
The Nightlife Series:
I The Nightlife: New York
II The Nightlife: Las Vegas November 2012
III The Nightlife: Paris December 2012
The Nightlife: BLOODSLAVE December 2012
IV The Nightlife: London May 2013
V The Nightlife: Moscow July 2013
Young Adult novels by Travis Luedke (TW Luedke)
T Shepherd October 2012
BOGUS April 2013