Today I am happy to have author D.R. Shoultz on my blog.
Hello D.R. Can you describe yourself in a few sentences.
I grew up in a small, Midwestern town, the son of a self-employed home builder. I was a better than average student and an athlete in high school, but quickly became a small fish in a big pond at college. After graduating with degrees in education and mathematics, I spent 32 years in corporate America where I traveled the world and uprooted my wife, son and daughter eight times. Shortly after retirement, I lost my beautiful wife of 33 years in a traffic accident. I spent the next several years finding myself. After a long-distance relationship, I married Claudia in 2012, who not only became my wife, she became my writing partner and editor. We live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with our rescue dog, Milo. Our interests include reading, writing, hiking with Milo, golfing, drinking wine at sunset, and spending time with friends and family.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in 2009 following retiring from a long career in sales and marketing at IBM. At 57, I was widowed, retired, and living alone with my dog. Friends and family got me through this dark period of my life, but I needed an avocation to give purpose to the final trimester of my life. Writing filled that need.
What genres do you write in? Who is your audience?
My novels are fiction, mostly action and suspense. Melting Sand and Cyber One are the first two books in a series featuring Miles Stevens, a CIA agent from the year 2050. Miles and his CIA partners work for the Department of Historic Intervention (DHI) and their charter is to travel back in time to prevent worldwide disasters. In the first novel, Miles is sent back to prevent the Middle East War of 2027. In the second, his mission is to thwart an epic cyberattack in the year 2020 that’s destined to cripple the U.S., killing thousands.
My other two novels are Better Late Than Ever and Corrupt Connection. The former is about Phil Greenfield, a 60-year-old divorced businessman who moves to a futuristic retirement community in Florida and discovers the misguided and dangerous obsession of its residents to reclaim their youth. The latter is about a 48-year-old businessman, Sam Stone, who attempts to fend off a deadly Mexican drug cartel which has targeted his PhD girlfriend and the company where they’re employed. These books are directed at adult readers of suspense novels.
I have also self-published a collection of short stories, It Goes On, which is suited to adults and young adults. Two of my short stories in this collection have won writing competition awards.
How do you come up with the ideas for your writing?
I tend to select familiar subjects, or I select topics that give me a lot of fictional freedom. As an example, I’m currently working on a 100-page novella, Most Men, about a 63-year-old retiree who finds himself bored with retirement before becoming entangled in a Ponzi scheme that upends his life. I’m not involved in any Ponzi schemes, but I am a 63-year-old retiree.
I usually have an inventory of ideas for stories and novels that come to me over time. Friends and acquaintances are always making suggestions, some of which are actually pretty good. I jot all these ideas down in a Word file for future reference.
Tell us about your writing process. How do you fuel your writing?
After coming up with the story and main characters, I write the opening paragraphs. I try to foreshadow and tease in the opening. The short (usually less than 500 words) opening must reveal enough to inform readers where the story is headed, but hold back enough to leave them curious. Sometimes I utilize misdirection, traveling for a short while down one path before veering off.
Next, I outline the novel—as much as I have in my head. This outline is a series of chronological events with short descriptions. I maintain the outline in a separate Word document and fill it in as I get new ideas and as the novel evolves. The outline process helps with continuity and ensures I don’t lose passing thoughts.
What’s the best part of being a writer?
I like the freedom of writing. Being a self-published writer, I don’t have deadlines. My only writing deadlines are self-induced. As an example, I like to post several blogs a month, so if I go longer than a week, I make a point to crank one out right away.
What is your favorite scene in your book?
One of my favorites is the opening scene in Better Late Than Ever where Phil Greenfield is driving from Richmond, Virginia to his new retirement home at The Glades in Central Florida. Phil is a combination of several people I’ve known. In the opening chapter, I patch them all together into Phil. It was fun, and a lot of the descriptions are borderline real.
I have several favorite short stories, but I think A Christmas Found is my best. I am most proud of the reviews I’ve received for my short story collection, It Goes On, and specifically for this story.
How do you market your books? Do you use social media?
I admittedly spend insufficient time marketing my writing. I’ve participated in book signings, provided press releases to local papers, and offered giveaways on Goodreads and Amazon. I have found no single activity significantly moves the needle on book sales.
My social media focus is using Twitter and Goodreads to drive traffic to my blog. I have a blog at DRShoultz.blogspot.com that I call Thoughts, Stories and Novels. The title reflects my approach to writing. I post to my blog whatever thoughts come to me during the week. The posts are my view of everyday events, but tend to be edgy, or at times, tongue in cheek. My objective is to build a readership by providing a window into my world. I write at least one short story every month or so and post them to give my blog more content. I also feature excerpts or chapters from my novels, but do this less often.
Who or what encouraged (or still encourages) you in your writing?
Positive feedback and complementary reviews from readers encourage me the most. Like most writers, I look to readers as the best source of constructive criticism. Also, I’ve been fortunate to receive contest recognition for several of my short stories. The most recent was an honorable mention from Writer’s Digest, one of the larger writing competitions. While I know I have a long way to go to consider myself successful, this type of feedback gives me confidence that I am capable of producing quality work.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Utilize beta readers and peer groups for feedback before you publish. The more eyes the better, especially on your early edits. Editing is the hardest and most important part of writing.
Enter writing contests, those with a good reputation. The professional feedback is valuable, and you build your skills by focusing more on submissions to competition.
In closing, is there anything else you’d like to share?
I don’t make a living writing, not yet, anyway. What profit I do make from my Amazon book sales, I donate to local animal shelters, one of my passions. My largest motivation is to someday make a meaningful difference with my writing.
That sounds great. Thanks for being here today, D.R., and all the best with your books.
Connect with D.R. Shoultz: