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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 9

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Saturday, 16 February 2013
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Do you buy a book by the cover?

Absolutely. There’s an old saying about first impressions being the most important. You know, you’ve got to make a good first impression because you don’t get a second chance. That is so very true when it comes to the cover of the book. Humans are very visual beings. Let’s say you’re in the bookstore walking passed shelves full of books. The first thing you see is the cover and the design. You don’t really notice the title or the author’s name first. You see the cover design. I go for the book that I think has a unique cover or the cover really stands out. You could take the same manuscript and put them side-by-side on a shelf but have one cover that is just black and white and the other that has a nice, flashy, eye-catching design and nine out of ten people are immediately going to go to the one with the nicely designed cover.

 

As an author it’s real important to have a well-designed and appealing cover. Not ever cover has to be flashy but it has to be able to grab the readers’ attention. Otherwise, they’re just going to pass right over it in favor of one that catches their eye. As an author, you’ve got one shot to make that first impression. You’ve got to have a really good cover designer, and I do believe that I have one. They’ve got to be able to incorporate some elements of the book and make it visually appealing. For Conversations on the Bench, I originally wanted the cover to just have the black and white picture of a long bench as the focal point. Well, with the test audience, that cover didn’t go over well at all, so I let the graphic designer have carte blanche with it. He came up with the cover that is on the book, and it was much more favorably received by the test audience. So, I learned a very valuable lesson about the importance of the cover design, and my vision isn’t necessarily what connects with the readers.

 

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 8

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Thursday, 14 February 2013
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Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I don’t really have a set time or place when I do my writing, unlike most authors that I know or that I’ve talked to. When I feel in the mood or when I have something on my mind, I’ll write. It could be three in the morning and I’ll wake up and have something in my head that I want to get on paper, so I’ll get up and start writing. I might write for an hour or so then have to step away from it. Of course, I don’t write full time. I have my various business interests that require a good deal of my attention, and time is at a premium, so I’ve got to squeeze in some writing outside of business. I like writing late at night, that way there aren’t many interruptions. During the day, it’s real tough to carve out time from business and then find a place where I can’t be bothered for a time. So, the ‘when’ in the question is anytime of the day or night but I do prefer to write late at night into the early morning hours so there’s not many interruptions.

As for where I prefer to do my writing, I like writing in my office or at my desk or the home office. It’s a bit of a double edged sword. I like writing late at night which generally means I’m at home. Well, home isn’t necessarily the best place for getting work done. You always find something at home to sidetrack you and you’ve got too many comforts there. Sometimes, I’ll actually stay late at the office, and I’ve been known to be found asleep on the sofa in my office or in the lounge when my secretary and folks get to work in the morning. I guess they just carry on all around me, but they understand that I can keep some very strange hours.

I also really like writing while I’m riding in the car. I can’t do it if I’m driving but on longer trips when I have a driver, it gives me a chance to sit back and relax and focus. Oddly enough, Murder at the Ocean Forest was started in the back of a limo on a trip from Miami up to Orlando. I got the outline done then started writing the first chapter.

I’ve also been known to write on the train. It’s nice having your own sleeper car and some privacy so you can organize your thoughts and do a little work uninterrupted. Train travel isn’t really in style anymore, but I thoroughly enjoy it and on long hauls it gives you ample time to get some work done with few interruptions or business getting involved.

And I’ve also been known to take short trips to a bed and breakfast or a hotel to relax and do a little writing. Sometimes a change of environment can really help in the writing department. You never know when or where I’m going to show up or when a particular place where I’ve been working is going to show up in a book.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 5

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Thursday, 07 February 2013
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How long does it take you to write a book?

It can take me anywhere from six weeks to seven or eight months to write a book. If I just sit all day every day, I could turn out a manuscript in four to six weeks. Unfortunately, the mind doesn’t permit me to sit and write that long. I’ll generally have the creative inspiration in bursts of maybe an hour or two then in need to take a break. I might come back after a break and realize that I’m not in the zone anymore, so I’ll have to put it aside. I have to be in a certain mindset before I can sit down and write. When I’m in the right mind, it just comes naturally. If I’m not in the writing mode, it feels like I’m forcing it, and I don’t think that lends itself to my best work. Thus, why it may take me seven or eight months to write a manuscript. I might not have the inspiration for several days for a week, but when I get it I might have it for weeks on end. And, of course, I get sidetracked with business from time to time and that takes me away from my ability to sit down and write.

Sometimes I’ll write myself in a bind. You know, I’ll be writing and take the story in a direction I hadn’t anticipated then I have to step back and figure out where I go from there. Sometimes I’ll readily know how to adjust the story for the unexpected change, and sometimes I won’t know right away. I might need to think about it and let it play out in my mind before I can sit back down and start up again. Writing is a real fluid situation. Changes come up and that impacts the timetable. Overall, I think the average for me would be in the six month range, and remember I’m writing in addition to overseeing my various enterprises and charitable endeavors.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 4

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Tuesday, 05 February 2013
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Do you have any unique talents?

I’m not sure that I have any unique talents, but I enjoy writing and I happen to think I’m pretty good at it. When it comes to writing, I try to really paint the picture of each scene for the reader. I want the readers to be able to immerse themselves in the book and feel like they’re really there, and I want them to really feel like the characters are real people. I think I excel at painting that picture for the reader with some really good descriptions of the people and places. Other writers will tell a story but be weak on character development and we might get a once sentence description of the place. I go over the top with descriptions—characters’ mannerisms, the sights and sounds around them, what they’re wearing, colors, the other people around them. By the time I’m done, there’s not much left to the imagination regarding the characters. You get to know them in most cases and get a feel for what they’re like, what they’re thinking, what they might do, and so on.

Some people like this and some people don’t. If you’re looking for a quick read where you can paint the picture in your own mind the way you want it, my books probably aren’t for you. I’m going to tell you how I as the writer, the storyteller, envision the scene and the people. With my writing, you’ve got to have the time to commit to sitting down and immersing yourself in the book. You have to be willing to stay focused on the task at hand while you’re reading, particularly my mystery novels. A lot of the clues that I give and the keys to figuring out the mystery are very subtle, so you’ve got to pay attention. If anyone that reads any of my books says there wasn’t enough description or they didn’t feel like they connected with characters or places, they either didn’t read the book or weren’t paying attention.

I get a lot of criticism for my lengthy descriptions and attention to detail. Mainstream writers have gotten to the point where they’re writing on about a fifth grade reading level to accommodate the masses. I’ve been encouraged by a lot of folks to lighten up my books when it comes to how I develop the characters and the scenes, but I’m really very proud of my ability to use words to paint the picture for my readers. I don’t take it personally if some people find my work a couple levels above their reading comprehension or their preferred level of leisure reading, but I’m not about to change my approach and my style and basically dumb down my work to sell a couple more books. In business there’s always this great debate between quality vs. quantity. I prefer to sell a quality product, and I think I accomplish that.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 2

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Thursday, 31 January 2013
in Digger Cartwright

What can we expect from you in the future?

The future holds a lot of really exciting things. My new book that is coming out in late spring is Conversations on the Bench, which is an inspirational or motivational book. Some people will find it more of one than the other, but this is a book that was inspired by actual events involving a couple of friends of mine. It was really an opportunity for me to step out of the box, step out of my comfort zone in writing and try something different. I’m so used to creating my own characters and places that it was a bit of an adjustment to write about real people and places, but I did it. I’m not sure there’s going to be another book like this, but I’ll keep that option open.

Later in 2013, I’ll be releasing Gems & Jewels Book II: The Restoration. It’s more of a drama with an element of mystery and centers around a wealthy family in the gold, diamond, and precious stones mining as well as the jewelry business. It’s sort of a modern-day Dynasty, Dallas or Falcon Crest. It’s got all the money, power, sex, greed and excess that were characteristic of those shows. It’s going to be a series, so I’m pretty excited about that.

I plan on continuing to write predominantly mystery novels. With Murder at the Ocean Forest, The Versailles Conspiracy, and The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance, I’ve got a lot of characters that I can work with and revisit for sequels or series, particularly with the latter two. I suspect there will be a couple of sequels to those. Then I’ve got a couple of interesting plans on the drawing board. I’ve got a hard-boiled detective story that I’m developing and a couple of political thrillers. I’ve got a futuristic book in the planning stages. It’s one of these what-if prognostications set about twenty years from now.

There are some really exciting storylines in the works. I just wish I had the time to write them all and get them done faster, but I’m just plugging along one manuscript at a time. One thing is for sure, I don’t plan on going away. I love what I’m doing, and I plan on continuing to write for a long time.    

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 1

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Tuesday, 29 January 2013
in Digger Cartwright

Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

The publishing world is tough to break into for new authors. If you’re going the traditional route, there are a few things you need to be aware of. First, you have to have a good product to promote. If your book is just mediocre, you’re dead in the water. There are too many other people out there writing to pass off a mediocre book. Writing a really good book takes time, patience and dedication. If you’re just throwing your thoughts together and trying to get something done quickly, you’re wasting your time. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to get a manuscript where you need it to be so that you can successfully market it. Second, you have to find an agent willing to represent you. That’s like finding a needle in a haystack. There are a lot fewer literary agents than there are budding authors, and they’re getting swamped with query letters, proposals, and manuscripts. You’ve got to be both good and lucky to get an agent. Third, you’ve got to get it sold to a publishing house and they’ve got to be able to market it and so on and so forth.

The reality is that very few authors had their first manuscript picked up by an agent or a publishing house. The one that launches their career may be the second or third manuscript. Anyone can sit down and write one book. It may take a while and it may not be good, but just about anyone can do it. Very few people are actually going to sit down and write the second book. They’ll get discouraged that they couldn’t do anything with the first one and give it up. So, you’ve got a much smaller pool of competing authors once you’ve written the second book. Even fewer of those people will go on to write a third book then a fourth book. With each book written, you move higher and higher up the hierarchy of writers. That’s what really separates the wheat from the chaffe—the ability to write multiple books. They have to be good, of course, otherwise it’s just a waste of time.

If you don’t want to go the traditional route, you can try self-publishing your book. Of course, that comes with its own set of challenges that you have to be ready for. You don’t have the marketing power, budget, editorial staff, or distribution that the traditional publishing houses have, so you’re competing with the big names without the benefits they have in terms of name recognition, resources, etc. that comes from being published via traditional means. Thus, you’ve got to work even harder, be more creative, and more dedicated. You’ve got to make sure your manuscript is perfect before it’s available for sale. You’ve got to make sure it’s edited correctly. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got an eye-catching cover. However, I’d point out that more and more people are going the self-publishing route. There are even some big name authors that are going that route themselves. Despite the obvious drawbacks, there are some benefits. When you self-publish, you maintain control of pretty much all aspects of your work. You’re not subrogating any rights or responsibilities to anyone else, and you’ve generally got a higher profit margin.

My advice for people wanting to write a book is that you need to set realistic expectations for yourself. I don’t want to discourage anyone. I just want to be honest with them and want them to be honest with themselves. Very few writers make it. Very few people have the will power and the stamina to go the distance and write the second and third books. But listen, if you have a passion for writing and you’re committed to it, go for it. Work hard, keep disciplined, and be the best you can. If you’ve got to take some writing classes, so be it. Do what you have to do if you’re really committed to it. Writing is a lot like getting a puppy. A lot of people think it’s fun and cool to have a little creature around for the first few months, but the luster wears off when the dog starts tearing up the furniture or going to the bathroom on the floor or when you’ve got to get up early on a Saturday and take the dog out to the bathroom or for a walk, particularly if it’s cold out. You know what I mean? Much like having a pet, writing is a big commitment. Don’t do it if you’re easily discouraged or if you don’t have the time and staying power to stick with it through the rejections and criticism.

And don’t forget the criticism. There will be a lot of criticism along the way. You won’t be able to please everyone, so you’ll have to get some thick skin. Some people are going to like it, and some people are going to hate it. It’s hard taking the criticism when you’ve put your heart and soul into something, but you better get used to it. Even the biggest names have lots of critics. Just pull up their books on Amazon and look at the reviews. They’re not all five star.   

 

 

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