Throughout my publishing journey, I’ve met a lot of interesting people. Of them, Tim Greaton is one of the most fascinating. Even though we only met this past year, I feel as though I’ve known him for ages and ages. I’m proud to call him my friend. Tim was kind enough to interview me (and by extension David) on one of his blogs, Tim Greaton Forum.
This time, I offered to turn the tables on him. A brave undertaking on my part, I assure you, but here goes.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Thanks Tim for visiting with all of us today.
Tim Greaton: Lynn, the pleasure is all mine. What you forgot to mention—during your very kind introduction—is why you have met so many people and have made so many friends during your book marketing efforts. I’d like to spill the beans and tell everyone here it’s because you, yourself, are a genuinely good-hearted and helpful person. You deserve every friend you’ve met, and I for one am thankful to have stumbled across your path.
And, yes, if it sounds like I’m angling for gentle questions, you’re right.
Lynn Hallbrooks: It’s not going to work, you know.
Tim Greaton: I know but I had to try. Probably should have brought some Maine apples, huh?
Lynn Hallbrooks: Maybe if you brought some chocolate with coconut? I’m still glad to have you here. Where are my manners? Please sit. I’m sure it is a bit warmer here in Texas than in Maine. Coffee, Tea…Cocoa?
Tim Greaton: Thanks, Lynn, but I prefer not to hydrate before cyber-flights.
Lynn Hallbrooks: As you may have noticed, I try to help others on their journey before, during, and after self-publishing, so I’d like to focus mainly on those topics.
Tim Greaton: As one of your flock of followers, I somehow knew you would.
Lynn Hallbrooks: How did you get started in this wonderful world of writing?
Tim Greaton: I know there are some writers who have drifted accidentally into the profession, and there are others who were inspired by certain books or stories. In my case…well, it was my crappy childhood that drove me straight into the arms of my local library. To say my parents had a disastrous relationship would be an understatement. My parents hated each other, but poverty and the responsibility of raising six children kept them together. Unfortunately, that also meant their children became inadvertent pawns in their domestic war. I won’t say much else except that from as early as I can remember, I prayed that things would change, that somehow my brothers, sisters and I might somehow be magically transported to a normal life. It wasn’t to be. I survived fourteen years in the midst of that battlefield, and I’m only sitting here today because several thousand authors were kind enough to pave me a fictional path to adulthood. I couldn't run away…but I was able to escape into books.
So, to answer your question—finally—is that I write because I owe it to all those authors who provided me with shelter those many years ago. I know how important fiction can be, so for me it is not just a calling, but the highest calling. If I can shine a light or even a distraction into the life of someone who is struggling, then I feel I have made it. I’ve succeeded.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Thank you for sharing that intimate glimpse into your life, with us. If that is truly your criteria for success, then I think you have succeeded quite well. Personally, I've witnessed you taking on various story challenges and coming up with contest-winning results. Not to mention making me laugh, cry, or both. Speaking of which, how did you and your muse get on such good writing terms?
Tim Greaton: That might be the easiest question of the day, Lynn. I never seek the help of a muse. Writing for me has always been a need. I knew from the time I was a little boy that I would grow up to write novels, but that meant I had to spend a lot of time practicing. And I did. From the time I was about seven I have been writing something nearly every day. Even when I was having a bad day (and some of those childhood days were really bad), I still used to write. Today, I type over a hundred words a minute, and story-building is as instinctive to me as carpentry might be to an old-time contractor or as medicine might be to an experienced doctor. And the imagination I used to escape into books is now an invaluable asset. Today, I get just as lost writing a story as I do when reading one. It’s the same process, after all, just reversed.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Do you have a writing ritual?
Tim Greaton: I really don’t. The late Jack Bickham, a wonderful writing professor from the University of Oklahoma and a famous author in his own right, used to say, “The key to creativity is action.” Writers write, which means they sit in their chairs and produce words, preferably a certain number of them each day. For me, it’s exactly like that. When I need to write something, I sit in front of my keyboard and begin. For stories, I usually have only a loose idea that develops as I write. For novels, these days, I usually develop some form of an outline first, which can save a lot of rewriting later. I write at least four hours each weekday, during which times I am strictly writing, not making calls, not networking. On the days I can find time to write for even longer stretches, I feel fortunate.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Do you have a promoting/networking ritual?
Tim Greaton: I have been developing one. These days, I do most of my writing in the morning and early-afternoons. By evening, usually after dinner, I settle down to at least three or four hours of networking, writing reviews, and doing other marketing endeavors like blog interviews and short story contest entries (which I do for exposure, though winning occasionally is always fun).
Lynn Hallbrooks: Tim, I’ve noticed that your family helps you with the mechanics of publishing your books. Can you explain what that experience is like?
Tim Greaton: I’m very fortunate to be close with most of my brothers and sisters. My youngest sister is often one of my beta readers. She’s very intuitive and has been instrumental in smoothing out some pretty rough scenes in many of my books, and honestly I’m not sure if I could have finished my five-year YA opus “Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” without her help. I wrote so many versions of that book (maybe as many as fifty) that today she has a difficult time remembering which version we ultimately published. One of my brothers is actually the owner of Focus House Publishing. He works with other authors, too, but spends an inordinate amount of time and money keeping my career on track. Finally, my older sister often arranges ARC reviews, media events, and even pushed me out into the networking world originally. If I remember correctly she was actually central to you and I meeting, Lynn.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Can you explain why you chose to brand yourself as “Maine’s Other Author” TM?
Tim Greaton: First, I should say that my brother or maybe his publicist is responsible for that legally trademarked phrase, which came literally from having people refer to me that way. Stephen King first, me second. Though I often joke that he might someday be “Maine’s Other Author,” the truth is I’m honored to be compared with him at all.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Tim Greaton: I’d refer every writer back to my comments from Jack Bickham. Writers write. Sit down in your seat and do it, a lot of it. From practice comes instinct, ability, style and—most importantly—work product. You can’t sell a book you haven’t written. And if your first, second and third books aren't selling…write a fourth, and another and another until you hit your stride and find your audience. I believe that most successful novelists have either written at least sixteen novels (many of which have likely never been published) or have spent a minimum of ten thousand hours honing their writing craft. If a writer has done one or the other, they are definitely ready for prime time. If not, sit down in your seat and write.
Lynn Hallbrooks: What advice do you have for those just starting out in the independent author world?
Tim Greaton: I’m not sure I have any answers above and beyond what most of the other indie and small-pub novelists already know, but it seems to me that building a network marketing platform and exploring every chance to get your name out can only be good. I really don’t understand why writers have usernames different than the ones on their books. It only makes sense that if your usernames match your books, every post you make is free advertising. I also encourage all authors to be friendly, helpful and non-opinionated at all times. If you’re constantly espousing liberal or religious points of view, how many conservatives or atheists do you think will be reading your books? Of course, we all have opinions, but I harken back to an imagined time of gentlemen and gentlewomen who kept their opinions to themselves unless sharing among friends. Besides the world is nicer with less bickering. :)
Lynn Hallbrooks: Just for fun, let’s say you have the combined talents of three authors when you write your next book. Which three authors would you pick?
Tim Greaton: I think I’d like to have Danielle Steele’s ability to appeal to romance readers, because there are a ton, ton, ton of them (you know who you are). I’d also want to throw in a good dollop of Shakespeare, which would make for some incredible newspaper reviews. Finally, I’d want JK Rowling’s ability to gather a few hundred million book buyers at midnight for my next book release.
Lynn Hallbrooks: So, what would that book be like?
Tim Greaton: It would be about a Witch and a Wizard (Rowling) flying off in a two-seat Cessna to someplace tropical and romantic (Steele). En route, a boy on a flying vacuum cleaner (Greaton) would knock on the window and snatch the witch away, forcing the Wizard and his Cessna to pursue. The witch would fall in love with her captor (Steele again), but the Wizard would trick the boy into playing an aerial game of chess (Rowling) with live birds and flying pigs (I’ll take credit here). And, ultimately, the boy would tumble to the ground with a gruesome splat (too late to add in Stephen King?) In her grief, the Witch would hurl herself and the vacuum cleaner straight into a mountainside (Mr. Shakespeare, of course).
I’ll probably also run the plane out of fuel and send the wizard to his death so I can call this can’t-miss masterpiece “A Midsummer’s Crash.”
Lynn Hallbrooks: Thank you so very much for being with us today. Can you please give the audience a list of your books and where they might be able to find them?
Tim Greaton: Lynn, I really enjoyed spending time with you and your readers, and I hope we can do it again soon.
“The Santa Shop (The Santa Conspiracy)” - Christmas through the eyes of suicide (30 five-star reviews).
“Under-Heaven” - Pain doesn't end at death, at least not for nine-year-old Nate (7 five-star reviews). See the amazing theater-like book preview here.
“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End (The Zachary Pill Series)” - Magic won't save you...but monsters might (9 five-star reviews).
“Bones in the Tree” - A chick-lit dating catastrophe in Maine (4 five-star reviews).
“Ancestor - Book 1” - A 1600's colonial terror wants to come back now.
“Ancestor - Book 2” - Friends stand against an evil too powerful to defeat.
“The Shaft & Two Other Stories” - Dark tales to leave you shivering.
“Dustin Jeckle & Mr. Hydel” - A modern twist on a classic tale.
“For the Deposit & Two Other Stories” - Tales of murder and mayhem.
“The Pheesching Sector - a 6,000-word sci-fi story” - A suicide mission at the edge of space.
My titles can be purchased at:
You can also see them on my blog.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Thank you Tim and have a safe cyber-flight. Watch out for flying vacuum cleaners and pigs.
Tim Greaton waves good-bye just as he disappears behind a vibrant flash of multi-color beams.
I'm sure that Tim is going back to type up another wonderful story to share with the reading public. As for me, I'll be looking forward to his next adventure. I hope you will too.
Have a great one!
co-author and PR person to David McKoy
co-owners of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC