Interview with Author Todd Card

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Todd: Thank you for allowing me to be part of your blog. It’s my honor to be part of what you do! I am a fiction (horror) writer living in the highly affluent city of Carmel, IN. Just north of Indianapolis, IN. My roots stretch back to the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. I was born in the town of Wise, VA in 1969. This is also the same town where George C. Scott and his family are from, as well as the town on which I based my first novel — Hell Cometh. His tremendous body of work can be found here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_C._Scott  For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. Scott and his career. I was born dead, after a twenty-six hour-long delivery for my poor mother. After almost eight minutes of revival efforts, I sprang to life. I was, what was called back in those days, a “Blue Baby”. This was to be the beginning of my struggles through life. Immediately I was diagnosed with severe upper motor neuron damage, as a result of the delivery. Upper motor neuron lesions occur in conditions affecting motor neurons in the brain or spinal cord such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and cerebral palsy.

I was four years old when I opened the door of our tiny mobile home in Woodway, VA (which is in Southwest Virginia) and met my father for the first time. He had just returned from Vietnam, and that’s when the beatings and other forms of abuse started. Until then, life was wonderful. I’m forty-two years old and the only time I can remember of my entire life, without pain, was before that day. I had a great four years… It was just my mother and I for a while, and I can remember being out with her from time-to-time and she would start crying. I would ask her why she was crying and she would tell me she was worried my father wouldn’t return from “the war”. I would smile, give her a hug and tell her not to worry. If he didn’t come home, I would marry her when I grew up. I was only four and didn’t know any better, plus it always made her smile and stop crying. I don’t know if my mother really didn’t know this man before she married him or war really changed him that much, but later, as I aged, I could never imagine her marrying such a monstrous human.

By the time I turned thirty I had moved more than thirty-seven times in my life that I can remember. We could never live in the same place for very long and I had a great deal of trouble in school, due to the lack of socialization, multiple relocations, and the secret of abuse at home. I had no idea how to make friends, because we were always moving. When people started asking questions, it was time to move! I was even forced to transfer my senior year of high school. What would have been my last year, with a few good friends, was turned upside down with learning how to fit in again. Many of the bones in my body had been broken before I turned thirteen and most healed without the assistance of a physician. My right upper arm and shoulder joint have been detached from each other for so long now, I have learned to live with it as being a normal part of life. People are astounded to this day, when they see ex-rays of that region of my body, and notice how many breaks my collar bone alone (on both sides) has sustained over the years. All healed in secret and without the assistance of a doctor.

When I was very young, after moving around for a while, we settled in Florida for a bit. There were several moves within the state of Florida too, of course. At one point, because a wonderful and caring teacher reported she had noticed many bruises during the school year, a doctor was called in to investigate. This also happened to be the same teacher who discovered I am a 9th/10th level Dyslexic. The doctor suspected I was suffering from childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and insisted on testing. In those days, abuse was something not as easily suspected as it is today, I guess. For the brief amount of time I was a student of Mrs. Sigmand’s first grade class in Winter Haven, FL… She took the time to try to help me as much as she could. My mother was helpless to do anything. I saw my father sling her across the different rooms of many different places about as many times as I was slung myself. She knew to keep her mouth shut, or else. By that time, I had also learned the same lesson.

Back then the only way to test for this disease, was to take a bone marrow sample from my right hip. Also, there was no way to administer anesthesia due to it’s affecting the overall results. Four people, including members of my family and hospital staff had to hold me down as the doctor drilled through the skin, muscle and then bone my hip to extract the marrow. I was awake for the entire event. My father, who was the reason this was happening in the first place, passed out while watching the procedure and was wheeled out of the operating room with me later. The memory is seared into my brain as if it happened just yesterday. After my stay in the hospital was over and the dust died down, we moved from Florida back to Southwest Virginia. This was to be where I would spend the vast majority of my childhood, but still moving from house to house and school to school.

I left home in my early teens to escape the horrific abuse of a cheating father who eventually beat my mother to death. After many years of abuse and his openly garish cheating, my mother was in the midst of an attempt to leave him, when he beat her to death as she sat defenseless in her wheelchair — suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. This happened around my twenty-sixth birthday, when she was only forty-six years old. As things stand now, I currently live in the one place I have remained the longest in my entire life. I’ve been here, in the same house, for twelve years. A house I bought and paid for myself.

I am simply a high school graduate. I tried a community college for a bit, but it didn’t last. Luckily I have always had the drive and determination to be self-sufficient. I’ve had to put my self-respect on the back burner, so to speak, to ensure my family has always been cared for. Over the years of varying job titles, I have had two (what I would call) major employment advantages. Both met with layoffs in the end, due to economic downturns. The first, I worked for GE Gas Turbine in Greenville, SC. At that time, I had a house and two new cars with plenty of money in the bank. Seven hundred and fifty of us lost our jobs just before Christmas during the early 1990’s and I was one of them. Having little experience with recovering from a situation such as this, I eventually lost everything. The second and most recent of major company I worked for was a telecommunications corporation in Carmel, IN. With that job, I ended up working my way from the bottom to a custom office in the executive wing of the company, answering directly to the President of the company. Unfortunately the economy turned sour again, and the entire company went under. I was making a lot of money, had a tremendous perks package, and was treated wonderfully during my time as an executive. Having lost everything in the 90’s once, I could easily see the writing on the wall long before this company went under this time. I prepared myself by eliminating all my debt as quickly as possible, locked in some savings and payed cash for everything — including my family cars. I was one of the very last to leave the company when the President came into my office with tears in his eyes and told me it was time to go, May the fifth 2005. I have worked for myself ever since, living debt free and now writing full time successfully.

I also come from a long line of proud Native Americans. My ancestors are Hudson Mohawk, Chickamauga Cherokee (the eastern woodland band and of Cherokee), and Chickasaw and I have struggled against the racist stigma of my heritage during my early life as well as current misconceptions of my racial makeup. Most people have Hollywood misconceptions about what an American Indian is supposed to look like. We come in all kinds of shapes and colors. Usually I hear, “Funny! You don’t look like an Indian. You look more Mexican to me!” to which I reply, “Why don’t you explain to me what my people are supposed to look like? Since you are such an authority on the subject!” During my lifetime, I’ve had this conversation a lot, and my daughter just told me someone asked her about me on her school bus this past Friday. They asked her if I was a Mexican. Not that any of it really matters, just clearing up the subject in case anyone is interested. But my appearance and strong mountain accent has limited my ability to mingle with most over the years. Most pass judgment just based on my appearance without ever getting to know me. Others assume, when hearing me speak, I’m lacking in intelligence, which is serious error in judgment on their behalf. Our family name, Card, comes from a slave owner many generations back in time. My people were bought and sold along side African Americans when this country was first founded as well. It’s a long, but very interesting story. This is a key reason why I chose to represent one of the main characters in my first novel, as an American Indian.

My life has given me a wealth of experiences as well as interactions with various characters who have enriched my creative horror writing skills and stories tremendously. I currently suffer from a broken neck and back and highly aggressive degenerative disk and vertebrae disorder. As a result, I cannot feel the majority of the left side of my body. My left hand is completely numb, but I have trained it for the task of writing. So, I guess you could say… Life has been an uphill battle for me. Life, being stranger than fiction, has blessed me with more than enough story outlines to last for the next sixteen years, which have already been written and approved by my publishing house. Soon, I will have a massive body of literature on the market to join with my first book, published in May 2011.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Todd: The murder of my mother and the fact that my father married the woman he was cheating with less than three months after her death. The issue of him never being brought to justice for her killing, has created a tremendous level of rage within me that I have been forced to manage, as well as all those years of abuse I suffered at his hands. I studied the martial arts for many years, thinking I would learn to control my fury through focus and discipline. I was successful to a degree, but I never truly appeased my anger burning within me. I achieved multiple levels of the black belt rank in several different styles of the fighting, however never truly exercised my demons. My number one goal in life and more importantly as a father and husband has been to NEVER lift a finger to continue the chain of suffering I endured as a child.

I lost myself in art, my original passion, to cope with life as I knew it. I used to draw for hours when I was a child. Paint, then sculpt, as I progressed with art classes in high school and met another teacher who took the time to care. Mrs. Davidson would let me work on art projects during my ‘study hall’ period in her art room so I could express myself and have two art classes a day. One with an instructor and one unsupervised, giving me the freedom to be alone with my creative nature. She would go have her lunch while I listened to the radio and concentrated on something other than my horrible life for a while. Those were my favorite times of the day. I guess she knew I needed the outlet, even back then. Her art class was my only safe haven. Eventually, I trusted her enough to tell her what was happening at home. She took me to the office, my parents where called to school, and we all talked about it. When the principle stepped out to get the form necessary to record the incident, my father took that time to let me know if I continued to talk, terrible things would happen. We talked further and I dropped it. My one and only chance… I was too scared. He waited a while, and then one day when I least suspected it, he came for me. I ended up being beaten so badly that he punctured my right lung. I missed another couple of weeks of school, because of the flu. I had the flu a lot back then. Most my age, in those days (the 80’s), wore a denim jacket to look cool. I wore mine year round even in the stifling heat and humidity of a high school with no air-conditioning during the early and late summer months, to hide new bruises and burns. To this day I am forced to hide within my own mind from violence that no longer exists, but the pain is always there. Unrelenting and always present…

Eventually, while living in Indiana, I started my own family and I taught myself to airbrush. I got so good, I was custom painting cars, commissioned to do paintings for local wealthy socialites, motorcycles and more. Eventually, I was recognized as ‘artist of the moth’ by the Thomas Kinkade Zionsville Gallery, just north of Indianapolis, IN. My work was featured and displayed for an entire month in their Castleton Mall location as a result of my achievement. I continued with my multimedia and custom art pieces until my back and neck degenerative disorder progressed to the point I could no longer hold the brush. So, I returned to writing for a release. Writing has been the most cathartic way I have found to deal with these emotions. The tremendous level of physical, sexual, and metal abuse I sustained during my childhood as well as my father’s four failed attempts to murder me (and make each look like an accident) in my youth have given me the drive to succeed in spite him and my physical setbacks.

Currently, I spend an average of seventeen hours a day, or more, working (writing, which to me is not work, again it’s my passion) with a seething focus for success. To me, success will be my highest level of revenge against the odds that have been stacked against me since birth. I started writing shortly after my mother’s death (her name was Sandy and she was a saint), working on outlines and storing my work as a personal way of dealing with my pain while painting. Outbursts of blinding rage on paper, to protect those around me would do and then I would simply store them away. I took this technique from Abraham Lincoln, as I have always considered him to be a tremendous leader and levelheaded icon of history.

Recently a close friend discovered my tormented musings and insisted he work with me to publish these stories. He, the owner the micropublishing house, 8 Publishing, chose Hell Cometh as my first novel to be brought to the public eye. Hell Cometh has sold around the world, sold out of stock four times within its first three months of being listed on Amazon.com, and when converted to Kindle format about a month ago, has been download so many times, we have all just blown away. I’m incredibly pleased to say, I have been well received as an author so far! Now each book is another step forward. Another personal triumph against the odds! Another piece of proof, that doctor back in 1969 didn’t spend those first eight minutes of my arrival into this world in vain. It’s kind of ironic that Hell Cometh is book about the dead returning to life, written by someone who’s actually been there. A zombie, of sorts, writing about zombies.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Todd: I feel the worst struggles writers face is finding their niche audience. For most, developing a story, editing it, rewriting it, proofing it, reediting it, rewriting it again, and then doing all that all over again until your story is just right before even getting to the market is hard enough. Writing is a filtering process. There are very few people who are skilled enough to put their thoughts on paper (or digitally) without the need for thorough filtering, so for most, writing itself can be quite daunting. I fall within that group. Once one has written or created a piece of work, in which they find a tremendous sense of pride, the next step is finding their niche audience. And then marketing to them. Unless you are lucky enough to be picked up by a major publisher so they can do all that for you, but the odds of that are stacked against most these days.

With the decline of traditional publishing, saying this can be an uphill battle is a massive understatement. Almost impossible! I’m not trying to be discouraging to new writers; I’m simply trying to be honest… Writing is hard! The average new author may experience some moderate sales at first, but those sales and then the continued marketing of their work is entirely up to them (in most cases). I will say from experience, it’s almost impossible to write, market, sustain personal relationships with your readers, and grow while staying creative. The process can be an enormous undertaking.

The self-publishing market has also inundated the readers market with writers who are hoping to ‘strike it rich’ with that one great novel. These works have hit the market without a fantastic amount of proofing and editing — in some cases, never applied. This will put most prospective readers off of trying your work and unfortunately others. Because you are a new writer and no one knows anything about you. People don’t have a lot of time today. So, they don’t want to spend it on something, unless they know it’s good, or at the very least, worth their while. That is what you have to prove to them. That you are worth their time!

Finding those who will read you, love you, talk about you, support you by spreading the word of your talent far and wide, and thirst for more of your work while doing so, is a dwindling dream. New writers need a lot of credible friends and support. This is not an impossible dream; otherwise I would not work as hard as I do to reach those readers. I would not spend seventeen (plus) hours a day on average working the way I do, if I didn’t believe in that dream. That dream is the most important thing most writers have a hard time keeping close to them. The hardest thing they have to fight for, but it is worth it in the end.

If nothing else, it’s worth it to produce an actual, tangible, manifestation of your dream that just one person can pick up and read! It’s a GLORIOUS sensation to hold your first book! It was for me, in many ways, like holding one of my children for the first time. If just one person loves your dream, you have succeeded as a writer! But that one person has to be someone other than you! And then, one must duplicate that process hundreds of thousands of times to live the dream of being a ‘highly’-successful writer. The dream of becoming that polished jewel in the literary field, drawing more to your work, which creates an insatiable desire to write more and more for the craft itself, instead of the love of money. A rare jewel indeed… Clear as mud, huh?

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Todd: My books are unrestrained. Graphic. Not for the timid reader. Life has never pulled its punches with me, and so… I pull no punches with my work. My books will never have a sense of boring-chore-management for my readers. My work is not for young readers! Not for tweens or even teens for that matter. This is hard hitting stuff and for most, traumatizing. So, I would not advise anyone under the age of eighteen read my work.

My writing is born from intense, excruciating, bone-rattling pain and people should understand this. If you can’t handle it, stay away from my work. Do not buy my books! I would love to have a massive readership base, but I am looking for those to share in my pain. I am looking for those who have known the agony of life and can relate to real horror. For the vast majority of the public, this is not the norm. My niche audience consists of those who understand how hard life can be, and are looking for the escapism of exploring the suffering of others through fiction.

Now, that said, there is an underlying theme to my stories as well. There is a hidden message about life, which lurks beneath the thick layers of terror and devastation on each page of every one of my books. I have earned my Doctorate in life. I have every right to teach those who want to learn, as much as they can, from my work. Each new book will be an effort to educate anyone who wants to learn about the pain of life through my University of Horror. There are subtle secrets within my work, however… My fiction is pulled from the pages of fact. From life… There is a wondrous beauty in life, in the human animal, which comes to exist, if one gives my work a chance.

I have learned you cannot have good without bad. You cannot have light without the darkness and visa versa. You cannot have lies without the truth. You cannot have pain without pleasure. The Yin and Yang of reality… The balance of Karma… The male and female aspects of the spirit, the God and Goddess within us all… I attempt to teach a universal truth, as I see it, with my books. My niche audience must be tough enough to digest this material and move forward with a deep desire to be tougher. They need to understand; the sweetest lessons in life can sometimes only come from swallowing the bitterest medicine available. My books are full of this medicine of truth despite the fact it comes from fiction. This is the best way I can describe what I do. My work. Again… Clear as mud, huh?

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Todd: There will be a prequel to Hell Cometh as well as another final installment in the three-part series. They will come ‘down the road’ and will be a surprise gift for my readers. Gifts for those following my work, to say thank you. I will also have an eight part series, that’s just been approved by my publisher. I’m beginning to think, they want to keep me around for a while! As far as others, we shall see.

Bec: Where do your favorite snacks hide? Fridge or the cabinet?

Todd: Nature

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Todd: Basically, my publisher and I are working to bring the mass of my past sixteen years of private writing to life. Several outlines have been selected to release in a certain order going forward through the end of 2013. By the end of 2013 it’s our intention to have six of my novels on the market.

That said; one has gained a tremendous amount of attention from my publisher’s eye. All of my story ideas come from dreams. I get up and I write as fast as I can in an effort to capture as many details as possible. The essence of my dream at its most impactful moment… To protect for later expansion and growth as that essence becomes a full-blown novel. A month ago, I was blessed with a fantastic dream, which I captured immediately. I wrote the story outline (in great detail) and submitted it to my publisher the following morning. I can’t give away any content or even the working title at this point, but I assure you… This is nothing anyone has ever seen before in a horror story. It’s epic on the scale of Hell Cometh, but told in a more serene fashion. It will have an incredible amount of intensity that will flow from the first page to the last and is of an intense adult nature. One of my dreams, Roundtree, was moved back from its original completion deadline in order to give this new dream top priority. And I am fighting my publisher ‘tooth and nail’ to keep it that way. If they had their way, they would move me to 100% effort on that novel alone, but that is not what we agreed upon for my immediate future, months ago.

I have been working on three novels simultaneously and don’t want to break the sequence of how I have arranged my life for this effort. So, as things stand, for now… My next novel is Cheating the Dead and it will launch summer 2012, the novel to follow will be HIDEOUS for the end of 2012. This latest dream will be my first project of 2013, to be followed by Roundtree. Cheating the Dead will be the only zombie novel of these, because the other story ideas break away from that sub-genre. Also, the market for zombie novels has become a greatly saturated lately. So, I will offer one more, which takes place in the city of my current residence. I have the full support of the Mayor of Carmel for this project, which makes me quite happy.

Bec: If you could change the shape of one object, what would it be? Why?

Todd: I would, if I could, change the way the human brain is designed to bring about global enlightenment. Why? I know a certain degree of hostility (up to this point) has been necessary for basic human survival. Most neuroscientists (I’ve found) believe that hostility is controlled by the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hypothalamus, thalamus, and paraquaductal gray matter. We no longer need that, in my opinion. We need more cooperation with each other. We are destroying our only planet in this solar system on which we can survive and yet we fight. About EVERYTHNIG!!! I believe we need a time of peace. Humans need a chill pill! We need global cooperation for the purpose of survival, for future generations to inhabit this planet. I have children and I don’t want them to inherit a war torn, resource ravaged, unsustainable planet with a bleak future at best. We should work together, not apart, if we are to solve our problems. I believe there are many contributing factors to war, and some examples are, the quest for dwindling resources, the competition for power on a global stage, territorial disputes, and even religion are major contributing factors to many nations not working together. Really there are too many factors to list! But, most people would NEVER consider throwing out organized religion, or walking away from territory lines, or just allow one county to outperform them when it comes to weaponry or financial power. As long as we have so many things to fight about, we are gonna keep on fighting. We are never going to wake up, as the dominant species of this planet, and become peaceful with each other. So, I would change the way the human brain is designed with a primary focus on those geographical locations with relation to aggression. Basically the only way we are going to truly have peace, is for the whole damn planet to get a lobotomy (of sorts).

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Todd: The absence of all color — Black.

Bec: If you had to rename something, what would it be, and what would you change the name to?

Todd: Penis. I find the name of a male’s organ, designed for intercourse, completely flaccid. Vagina!!! Now there’s a regal sounding name! I think that is one of the reasons young men seek them as much as they do. Because they sound so fantastic! Vaaagggiiieeennnaaahhh!!! Now there’s a word that really sparks interest! What is that?! I WANT SOME!!! I must have that! Where can I get some, right now?! Penis? Non-impressive. Flat. Blah…

I have always liked the name Caligula, which actually translates to “little soldier’s boot” but the ruler was known by some sources for his focus upon cruelty, extravagance, and sexual perversity, presenting him as an insane tyrant. Pretty much what will happen when any man allows his penis to take over, would you not agree, Tiger? I would rename the Penis as, Caligulus! I think that sounds better. It has a sound, which rolls off the tongue (pardon the pun) and works with clitoris well. Which to me, smacks of cooperation between the male and female genitalia and this is what we all truly want in the first place. It has some kick! Like a little soldier’s boot! Little more umph! Caligulus… Yeah… that works for me.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Todd: I am a person who is completely driven by music. I have always had to have it and MUST have it while writing. In many ways, it influences my creativity. If I can’t find the right music for what I am writing, I have a ‘White/Pink Noise’ app on my Mac that I will use. Pink, being my favorite of the two.

Bec: Apples or oranges?

Todd: Mangos. Sorry, I dislike apples and oranges equally.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Todd: I like to read fiction only, but I also enjoy the research aspect of writing tremendously. I write fiction (horror) exclusively.

Bec: Curtain or blinds?

Todd: Curtains! It’s too hard to roll around in blinds when things get out of hand. And, they are helpful with stains. You can get hurt with blinds.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Todd: No. I have never had more friends than when I became a writer. Also, I live in the worlds I create. I am God of all I conceive and I find tremendous satisfaction and company in the characters I create. So, I always find company in both the real and imaginary worlds. Both truly fulfilling and brimming with friends!

However, I actually suffer from Agoraphobia. I avoid social occasions like the plague and hate leaving my home unless I absolutely have to. I won’t even mow my yard if the neighbors are out. Unless, I can dress like a zombie while I do it! Most, if not all of my friends are on social networking sites. I have very few people, who I allow into my physical presence these days. Conventions are very hard for me. Usually I am heavily medicated anyway because of my aggressively degenerative disk and vertebrae disease, so I take advantage of this during conventions and maybe have a drink or two to get me through. It’s the truth, might as well admit it. But, I am not lonely at all.

Bec: What’s your favorite day of the week? Why?

Todd: Saturday. Because I have no distractions and I can write all day and night without bother. I look forward to this day with great anticipation each week. Sundays depress the hell out of me. They are the worst, because I know Monday is coming. It’s kind of like the day before your execution as far as I am concerned.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Todd: Any and all helpful information I feel I have available to give as a published writer! How to do as much as I did, and am. What to avoid. Who to ask for what. What company will help you with this, and stay away from those that don’t. I would try my level best to help anyone I could become even more successful than I. I feel it is my responsibility in this world to help my fellow man (or woman) without judgment. Karma will see to it that the playing field is level later. Lift them up as much as I can and celebrate their dream.

At the moment, however, I must disclose that I can’t do that. I have two much work on my plate. So, I do not review other writer’s work. I will do general written interviews, like this one, but no audio or face-to-face interviews, unless it’s about my work and the reviewer has read my work. If you haven’t read Hell Cometh or one of my new ones in the future, don’t ask. That’s my new rule.

But, one day, I plan on giving back as much as I can to this craft by helping those who want it through an online writers organization. Not a local writer’s group! The plans are already in the works.

I also want to state and be very specific about this: I have attended local ‘writer’s groups’ in the past, searching for guidance. Eager to learn… But found them to be dens of celebration for those who have succeeded. They were monthly gatherings of worship and praise for the ones who have made it, without even a scrap of knowledge to be passed down to those like me, who had just joined. The unpublished. They were nothing more than a monthly ego-fest for the published and pretty much a self-introduction moment by each newcomer. It repulsed me to no end! As a matter of fact, I found those authors who were running things to be pompous snobs hiding behind a friendly smile, loads of ego-gluttony, and their own  ‘good-ole boy’ click within the groups.

For example, this is something that happened to me and I will NEVER forget it. At one of these groups, on my second visit, I announced I had secured two tables for the up and coming Days of the Dead convention held last year in Indianapolis, IN. My book wasn’t even in print, yet I believed in myself so much that I had tables secured for this nearing convention. The ‘leader’ of this group literally (I’ll call him Mr. Fancypants from here on out) laughed out loud, pretended to know all that there is to know about the event’s organizers and stated, “I hope you didn’t spend any of your money on those tables! The Days of the Dead convention organizers are NOTORIOUS for taking everyone’s money and then never showing up. Then when you try to get your money back, there is no way to make them pay!” He made me the laughing-stock of the meeting at that point. That was my last meeting with this or any other local writers group.

Time moved to the weekend when Days of the Dead came to town. Last year was their first year I might add. So, where Mr. Fancypants came up with his BS to shame me in that moment, is beyond me… But, I spent hundreds of dollars of my own money on my stock to sell at this convention. I sold out of my ENTIRE inventory of books during the event and the organizers treated me like a king! Not only did I make my money back on the tables, books, food, gas, props, etc. I made a nice profit too! SUCCESS!!! This is what comes from believing in yourself! Your dream!

On the last day of the event, this very same (now he’s calling himself) ‘critically acclaimed horror writer’ (when my first book alone has more word count than everything he’s yet to release combined) came running through the event, popping in here and there, looking around and even had the guts to come to my table. Didn’t buy a book, by the way… Even after I had bought his and gone WAY out of my way to do so for him. But that’s all part of being in that group I guess, instant sales from the new people. That’s all trivial now, I suppose, but yet another reason for staying clear of these groups. After the Days of the Dead convention left town, with a HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL horror turnout — I may add, Mr. Fancypants let the group know he approved of them and recommended them for future convention opportunities.

Guess who’s going to be at this year’s Days of the Dead event in Indianapolis, IN??? YEP!!! You guessed it!!! Mr. Fancypants himself!!! Selling his books right there when he all but called the Days of the Dead organizers flim-flaming thieves! There is another member of this same group who’s even gone so far as to create his own convention. Even named the event after himself too! Hold’s the “convention” in his church’s basement, last I heard. It keeps growing each year, but talk about the balls on these people!!!

AVOID THIS ELEMENT IF YOU WISH TO GROW!!! At the time, this group was poorly run and doing real damage to newcomers. They are still in existence and seem to be getting their act together, from what I know. I have only retained contact with one of its members who I find to be a wonderful person and a genuinely fantastic author. I hope to not offend him with the release of this, but I could care less what any of the rest of them think. They certainly didn’t care when they laughed at me. And all, of them laughed… Except for this one special writer with whom I remain in contact. I was watching. I took notice. The other group self-destructed completely.

I will never do that to anyone! If and when that time comes for me, I will do my best to help any way I can. To reach out to every person and share in their dream. To help them realize the taste of success and push them for more. I would share with a beginning writer… Trust in yourself! Your dream! Stay clear of groups that stagnate, criticize, and alienate you. Stay clear of writers like Mr. Fancypants! There are plenty of these collectives out there and they are dangerous to your dream. They will pull you in and use you, if you let them. You NEED that drive! That determination! That support. If you find a group that gives you that, then more power to you! I however, failed miserably in my efforts. But, I succeeded with my publication and my convention and proved Mr. Fancypants didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the Days of the Dead folks. They ROCK!!! I wish him well with his booth this year… And even though I have taken my turn to demonstrate his lack of tact as a leader and shameless treatment of me as a new writer (at that time), I hold no grudges and bid him peace.

Find a writer who’s been there. Made more mistakes than successes and learn from them. Work with them, if they have time. But, grow as your own force. Be careful to not monopolize their time, because if they are a successful writer, every second is precious to them.

Become your own writer! Realize your own dream no matter what it takes. And know you can do it! If anyone else has done it before you, you are as good — if not better — than they are (or were)! When someone tells you, you can’t… That’s when you pull up your sleeves and prove to them, you can!

Bec: What’s your favorite type of food (Mexican, Italian…etc.)

Todd: Sushi-Sashimi

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Todd: Success comes slowly for some. We can’t all be J.K.Rowling or Stephanie Meyers. I will also go one step further. Don’t be a hater. Those people are successful for a reason. They found their ‘niche audience’ and knew how to write for them. They worked hard and deserve their success, just as much as you will yours.

Bec: If you could change one bad thing in the world to something good, what would it be, and how would you change it?

Todd: I want to be selfish here. I know the world needs a lot of help and I’m truly sorry for that. But, I would give anything to have my mother back. I would have done everything I could to get her out of that house, before my father killed her. I would keep her close, so she could see her grandchildren be born and grow up. I would do all I could to take care of her. A word of advise… Take care of those you love. You never know when the world will take them away from you, or you from them.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Todd: Yes! To me, there is no greater treasure in this world than a friend. But, knowing someone else who knows what you are going through, because they are going through the same thing? Yes! This is a craft. It is as old as cave paintings and hieroglyphics. I am proud to be a writer! I am completely addicted to the art of writing. To create! The gift and blessing of pure creation from naught is mine and I adore it. It’s a mighty gift! To know other’s who share in that gift, who are cut from the same cloth, who are walking the same steps, even if it is in a different direction is a wonderful thing.

I’ll say it again, stay clear of writers groups that stagnate, criticize, and alienate you. Stay clear of writers like Mr. Fancypants and his cronies! You won’t find anything there but disappointment.

Bec: Letters or numbers?

Todd: Numbers. Everything is based on numbers. Numbers rule our universe. Letters are a wonderful luxury.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Todd: Stephen King’s — On Writing. Because every time I read it, I learn something different, something more about the craft I love, taught to me, exclusively by my literary hero. I’ve read it over eleven times now. And will continue to read it over and over again, until the day I die.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Todd: Stephen King, as I just mentioned. He’s one of the few authors I have the least amount of trouble reading because of my dyslexia. His writing style is easy for me and I love his ideas. I connect with him to the point we even have the same life path; I recently learned.

I will do a comparison between my personal hero, Stephen King and other writers I am finding these days.

Stephen king writes large amounts of words. Even after a large amount of editing, trimming, changes, rewrites. The man is prolific! It takes me a while to get through one of his books. There is a lot there to digest! His content, although at times can be a little boring, still comes to an awesome end for me, one way or another. Same thing with J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. They aren’t trying to fool people into thinking they are putting out loads of content. They actually are! Even with my severe dyslexia, I read all of them. I read all the time. I read for hours at a time, every day. I rarely watch TV or just sit, unless I’m reading. Right now, I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Have been, since before all this business down in Florida with Mr. Zimmerman. But, even in today’s new and magical age compared to the time of Scout, Jem and Dill, things ain’t changed much I recon.

Now, I have read other authors work in two days from beginning to end. Even with them having a large page count! I-read-their-novel-in-two-days-in-my-spare-time! There are several reasons for this. It’s painfully clear to me that, in these cases, some have barely written a novella but use simple publishing tricks to have a large page count. These are, large font sizes, PLENTY OF KERNING, and loads pristine unprinted paper. Maybe even a few funny little images, like flying crows thrown in to separate sections or even paragraphs! Tons of empty space as far as the eye can see! Easy for a dyslexic or even an almost blind man to read in two days! Shame, shame… That’s cheating! And, sooner or later your readers will figure that out. This is one of the problems that I am finding, which complicates things for new writers trying to get started.

Mr. Stephen King is responsible for leveling entire swaths of forests for his dreams. This is not a good thing for our environment, but he, Mrs. Meyer, and J.K. Rolling all give you more than your money’s worth! BIG BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!!!! Not a lot of fluff and a little bit of stuff like some other writers who shall remain nameless. Readers are smart! They know when they are being cheated and they won’t come back for more.

When my publisher printed Hell Cometh we used every stinking bit of real estate on every stinking page. And, the font is small (sorry). No kerning tricks here!!! I want to be the next Stephen King. I’ll be honest… I said it! I’ll admit it! Not pulling any punches here!

But, he didn’t get there by cheating people with short stories and novellas blown up to look like novels! He also didn’t start calling himself a ‘critically acclaimed horror writer’ or let one of his crony buddies in his little monthly writers group do it for him or make a statement on a blog site like “…he is the next Stephen King!” so he could take license to do it himself while advertising (again, this is where you can get into trouble with writer’s groups and having writer’s as friends, as I mentioned before. Some will help you cheat the public eye, if you are willing to help them in return. Then it turns into that ‘good-ole boy’s club’ and those lead to nothing but trouble eventually…) Can you tell I have a bad taste in my mouth from trying to join writers groups??? You, as a new writer, should decide to have more integrity than that and stand on that foundation. Make it a benchmark for your achievement and never deviate from it.

Stephen King did it all the hard way. Just like I’m going to do it! I write each day as if, I am Stephen King. But using my dreams — instead of his, because I have no idea what Stephen King’s personal dreams and aspirations truly are. My biggest dream is to be where he is now… Eventually. He’s done it… He proved it can be done! Now, I want to duplicate that! I use Mr. Stephen King (and any other highly successful writers) as my models for success as a writer.

This is what I call, “training with my Master”. Studying their writing style… Techniques… Quirks… So I can become a better writer. I read the classics so I can become a better writer. They are classics for a reason, you know. “Training with my Master” is a phrase I use from my old Do Jo days. If I’m going to be successful, I know I have to earn it. If you haven’t read his (King’s) book — On Writing, I highly suggest it. You will gain a new understanding on one of America’s favorite authors of all time. I salute the hell out of the man. No one should ever be compared to him prematurely. Personally, I find that a bit tacky and offensive to someone who in my eyes, a living legend. Even when he’s a little bit boring, I know something cool is just around the corner. I’m a die-hard King fan. Salem’s Lot, being my second favorite of them all.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Todd: I think you have asked a number of interesting questions and there is always way more to someone than what can be summed up in a brief interview, so we could really go on for ever if you want. I’ll just thank you for the opportunity.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future projects!

Todd: Thank you! It’s truly been my pleasure. I wish you all the same as well.

 

 ©Rebecca Besser & Todd Card, 2012. All rights reserved.

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