This month’s membership spotlight is on Special Events Coordinator, webmaster and author extraordinaire, Douglas Owen. Doug is a man of many hats, lending his expertise to the WCYR, benefiting the writers in our community.
Tell Us About Yourself
Do you have another job besides writing?
Oh God! Yes. Several. Support Tech (for WCYR and BNS), content editor, line editor, publisher, advertiser, salesman, councillor, husband, chief, caregiver, pet nanny, wrangler of cats, grass cutter, dish washer, cleaner, tree cutter, and about a thousand other things big and small. So many things I’m spinning in place trying to cut it down but realizing the list keeps growing. Oh, and person with little to no sleep. From the time I get up in the morning to feed the three (yes, three) little furry monsters who inhabit our home I’m the one serving. Monster Sam is our big tabby who loves to eat. Stalker Charlette is the little calico cuddle bug, and Hidden Heidi is our English grey rescue. Demanding as they are, the wife needs her morning coffee before I commute to the office just before 7 AM. So you can see how life is a little crazy for me.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
I wanted something to write about for my two weeks of NaNoWriMo, so I created the outline of The Hordes. The work released and the next book, The Family, needed to be written. I completed that in 2017. The Mother, the next book in the series, was drafted in NaNoWriMo 2018, and since has been put aside as a “not to publish” because I’m not happy with it. I’ll re-draft it in this year’s NaNoWriMo.
My latest release, The Family, is the second book of the Broken World series. It’s a tongue in cheek work about the zombie apocalypse in Canada. But really, are they truly zombies? The movie 28 Days Later used zombies, where the people were not dead but infected with a rage. In my work they are dead come back to life, or walking corpses, as the main character would say.
A lot of things inspired me to write the work. Being a fan of The Walking Dead helped. But then again, I watch it and wonder who charged all the batteries or put stabilizer in the gas tanks. Silly little things like that. Putting the words down is driven by my need to complete the work within a short period of time because I want to get back to editing for my publishing company. And I don’t want to release my book until it has gone through at least six rewrites from constructive critiques. That’s a lot of work away from publishing.
It means I need to be concise and perfect in my own work. Hopefully so perfect there are no errors. And if there are, address them right away.
Why do you write?
I don’t know. What I do know is writing has opened up a whole new world for me. Going from just a person to being an author, and now publisher, makes people take more notice of you (like I really want that). They tend to gravitate to you (but I’m a recovering germ-o-phobe). Really I don’t like people that much so tend to stay silent in the shadows (actually studying characters).
Years ago I played D&D. Creating background stories for my characters was second nature to me. Later I became involved in theater, and finally music. Writing, I guess, was the grown-up way to go. Heck, I could still be under the stairs rolling dice with the rest of them but I’m not. Now I take that outlook and roll it into something that actually makes money (not a lot but some).
Now, I write to get it off my chest. The last flash story dealt with my mother and I taking dad to a retirement home because she could no longer care for his growing needs. Something that hit me hard. Emotions are great for writing. And you really need to get them out there in order to move on with your life.
So I guess I write for me. Though I’m surprised my wife lets me.
What other types of artistic talents do you have?
I play nine musical instruments. Yes, I can read music (does that count as another language). The band I played in used to call me “lips” because I could make the trumpet screech (forcing notes beyond the range of the instrument).
Something a lot of people don’t know is I can sing. Not sure how good, but it did land me in the lead role of Bye Bye Birdie back in 1982. Yes, I played the part Dick Van Dyke made famous. Some real big shoes to fill, I tell you.
All About Business
What would you tell aspiring young writers about the publishing business?
Get ready to bleed. Sorry, all I can really say.
Writing and Critique Groups and Professional Organizations
What brought you to the WCYR?
I did a radio interview with Katherine Sword after my second book hit the press. We talked about a number of things and she mentioned the WCYR. This is how I was introduced to it. From the first time I came in the doors it was home. The reason for that is Jim took me under his wing. Together, we spent many a hours and days talking about writing and the art of selling books at multiple sales events.
The Process of Writing
What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I’m a dreamer. Most of my time writing involves me putting my mind’s eye into the characters going on the page. It helps me with the POV so I can keep people working on the same thing all the time. But then again, I write a lot of Sci-Fi and fantasy. Guess that will help.
Are you a disciplined writer?
Yes, very disciplined. That is why I usually win NaNoWriMo with at least one work written.
Looking back, it has something to do with me not being able to write as much as I want to. Working as a publisher and editor takes much of my time away, so I need to concentrate on the work at hand. That is, putting my thoughts to words.
When I start writing on November 1st, my goal is to push out as many words as possible. The average I write is 8,500 words. You can imagine that’s a lot of work for the first day but I want to get a good head start. You see, I only have two weeks to write my personal stuff. Once it is done, time to go back to editing. With eight to ten thousand words a day, I can usually get at least one first draft done, but not always. So if you see me in December looking glassy eyed and out of it, you know why.
The World of Publishing
Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
You really want to know what’s in the hopper for me? Are you sure? Well, okay, here they are:
- Broken World:
- The Mother (last attempt thrown out – it was garbage)
- Zero-G Series:
- Rowlinson Inc
- The God Drive
- Pressed Against the Deck
- Wings Series:
- New Wings
- Blood Cells
- The Awakening of Gregory
- Assassin of Tomorrow
- New Beginning
- China Girl
- I Time Travel
- Joshua 47
These are the ones I have a partial or full outline on, just need the time. This, of course, does not include the short story series I do called Inside My Mind. Volume III will be out in a few years.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
On Reading and Ideas
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
Yes. I read like a demon. From Z is for Zachariah to The Hardy Boys mysteries to the Black Beauty series. It was strange not to see my nose in a book. At the age of fourteen, I read Battlefield Earth – all 1,074 pages of it – in less than a week.
Reading has always been a pleasure. Lose yourself in the pages of a good book and your imagination can run free. The Lord of the Rings went down in less than a month. I became a feature in our library. Second hand book stores made a fortune off me. Heck, I fell in love with Sci-Fi because of my grandmother. Her collection, sadly, disappeared shortly after her death. Stories from the early years of the genre, including the mini-readers Fantastic Stories. Really miss them.
Thank you to Doug for sharing his insights and adventures in the worlds of writing and publishing. We look forward to reading his next book.