Interview with the founder of the Unofficial Smashwords forum.
We're here today at the Indie Authors Unite virtual office. Here, if you want it we have it. A huge mahogany desk, bookcases full of Indie books, even a couple of mascot Jack Russell's. Today we're having a chat with author and founder of the unofficial Smashwords forum. Ted Summerfield.
Hi Samantha, thanks for inviting me. And thanks for giving me the questions in advance of the interview. It gives an old man like me some time to think.
You don’t look that old in your picture on your blog, Ted.
Well, that picture is a lie, like many things on the Internet. I’m around 60. Honest.
How long have you been writing, and when did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing most of my life, but it’s only the last 24 years I’ve been paid for my writing. I started writing in Grade 6. I saw a cute girl and wrote her a note. I can’t remember what was in the note, but I know it worked because she went out with me. We were good friends throughout school. I was always getting in trouble for writing notes.
Did you write stories throughout your school days?
Yes, but it wasn’t until grade 11 when I met a brilliant and beautiful woman that I really started to write more often, with more passion, and with more knowledge of myself.
Did you think you would become a writer?
No. I wanted to be an air traffic controller when I was 10, and a lawyer when I was 16. I studied law for a couple of years, but got bored.
Is your writing ability a gift, or did you have professional training?
It’s all training, but my writing courses have been for the ear, not the eye. I have a degree in broadcast journalism and have taken several courses in storytelling.
One of your books, Final Decree - A Dead Dog Divorce, was that cathartic for you?
Yes, most definitely. Much of Final Decree is based upon my divorce, including my wife killing my dog, and writing the book finally allowed me to release all the anger in me from her killing my dog.
You’ve written other fiction stories, children's picture books, and puzzle books. What are you working on now?
I’ve just published, Joint Effort. It’s a fictional account of one man’s career in the drug business, from high school to the group becoming one of the largest producers of pot in BC. Presently, I’m working on another picture coloring book for children. This one is about a butterfly.
How did you come up with the idea for your latest children’s book?
I was watching a cat watching a bird, and wondered if the cat ever wished it were a bird. How the cat I was watching turned into the butterfly in my book I'll leave to head shrinks.
Did you ever self-publish any of your previous work and who does your editing?
No. I just wrote for myself, and later for the woman I was dating. It wasn’t until long after I retired that I started thinking more seriously about writing. A far as editing goes, I have a couple of friends from my days in the news business. They look the stuff over and give me suggestions.
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Keep your readers attention. Don’t babble. Abraham Lincoln said: "He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I ever met." But I believe Gene Fowler (1890-1960) said it best: "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."
You started the Smashwords Forum recently. Why?
I looked at various forums and there were posts wondering why Smash words didn’t have its own forum, possible reasons why Smashwords didn’t have one, but that’s all there was; just talk and talk. I simply decided to do it and started the forum.
Do you have a definite goal or goals for the Smashwords Forum?
No, not really. Although I did start the Smashwords Forum, I’m not the dictator of the site. I hope the forum will grow to become what its members want.
The last time I visited your forum you were looking for moderators. Have you filled those positions or are you still seeking moderators?
Still looking. James Wilde volunteered to be a moderator, hi James, but any member can PM or email me about helping moderate the forum.
Would you like your Smashwords Forum to become the official forum for Smashwords?
That’s up to Mark and his bunch to decide. There’s a lot I’d love to do with the forum to help promote authors and their works, which would be much easier if there was an affiliation between Smashwords and my forum.
Where do you find the time to write, market your e-books, and manage a forum?
Well, Samantha, I could ask you the same question. I look at everything you do, then I look at everything I do and I’m thankful I’m retired and don’t have to try and keep up with you.
Thank you, I do stay busy these days and since you’re probably tired of my dogs sitting your lap, I’ll ask you one more question and let you go. When you write, is there a message or a moral to your stories?
All stories, not just mine, entertain, inform, or educate. If I can get one of those in a book then I’m happy, two and I’m ecstatic. If I get all three in, then the reader is probably drunk.
Thanks for reading you can find more about Ted on his blog and at our website IAU.
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