I am an ex-journalist who retired after 39 years of battling deadlines to venture into the world of science fiction. I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I spend time reading, writing and enjoying my role as Grandpa. Seers of Verde: The Legend Fulfilled is my debut novel, published in March, 2016. Return of the Earthers was released in November, 2016. — M.L. Williams
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
MW: My most recent work is "Cornfield Chronicles," a non-fiction collection of short stories about my adventures growing up on an Iowa farm. In 29 short stories, I saunter down memory lane to revisit the farm where I grew up. Some of the tales are humorous, some are sweet and a few are nostalgic.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
MW: Like everyone else, finding a respectable block of time to write. Trying to ignore all the distractions life can throw at you.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
MW: Actually coming up with names of characters and places, such as other worlds or countries. It is interesting when I'm writing and need a minor character to interact with the main character and come to a halt because I can't think of a name. I usually pull up Google translate and find words in a different language that may describe the new character.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
MW: That's a tough question. Probably wouldn't hurt to give up a couple of bad habits that take up valuable time. They will only be revealed either through torture or a couple of beers.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
MW: I learned to be better organized. Take notes on the characters I was using for later references. Double check names of characters and places so there is no duplication or accusation of copying from someone else.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
MW: Right now, I am working on two projects. One is based on the creation story of a New Mexico Pueblo people and its effect on the world's history. The other is my fun project, an adult sci-fi action adventure, where I letting my ID loose. If I publish that work, it will probably just be an ebook under a pen name.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
MW: Once in a while I will peek at a review. I am learning to appreciate the good one, learn from those that offer legitimate criticisms and ignore the others. If you don't believe in what you're writing no matter what anyone else says, you shouldn't be writing. The worst review I got was from a troll. It actually made me laugh and shook me out of a funk.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
MW: The only secrets I hide are the names of characters. I have based many characters on friends and family and created jumbled versions of their names. It's interesting when they read the story and don't recognize themselves or their spouses or friends.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
MW: I have made quite a few friends with other authors through signing events, workshops and meetings. I try to pick their brains for advice and, if possible, read their work. My main inspiration to start writing fiction came when I attended a reading with three local authors. One has become a good friend.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
MW: Develop better work habits and make time to write.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
MW: These may not be traps per se, but marketing and offers from so-called hybrid publishers are hard to navigate. One of the hardest things is trying to figure out what to do with your book once you're done writing.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
MW: That's the $10,000 question. I've had pretty good luck on social media -- mainly FB -- for my nonfiction book. My sci-fi set does OK at signings and is selling better through digital platforms. I have a publisher who has taken over the digital versions and have seen a nice increase in sales.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
MW: Guess this counts as my childhood. One of my brothers gave me the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in junior high. I fell in love with the story. A little later on, I read Slaughter House Five during my freshman year in college and was intrigued by his imagination and sarcasm.
Website -- https://mlwilliamsbooks.com