Episode 04 – Lon Varnadore – Junker Blues

Lon has been writing for several years and has written several fantastic books, but he struggles to catch fire and launch his career to the heights he’s like. He loves to write and has been working on figuring out his voice and genre.

Lon writes sci-fi, horror and fantasy books, all genres he enjoys to read. Hear about why he writes such diverse genres and what his plans are for the future.

Free Story:

Lon has offered a free origin story for his Junker Blues: Mars – get it here.

Author Profile:

You can find Lon on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Lon-Varnadore/e/B002UIICLO

Lon’s Books:

Check out Lon’s latest books:

Update:

[update] – Lon is really making things happen lately. Here is a short video showing the magazine he recently appeared in.

Watch on YouTube:

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen 1:46
Hey lon, Hey, how are you? I’m good. How about yourself? Good. It’s been a while. It has your you live over what San Francisco area I believe?

Lon 1:59
No, no, no, California. I live in Southern California and Long Beach.

Stephen 2:04
Oh, nice. I lived in Escondido for a while. Okay, awesome. Nice. So, okay, I appreciate you taking a bit of time on this, like talking to other authors and we’ve met so that’s always a good thing to just do this. Okay, we’ll just get right into it. Tell us a little bit about yourself first, who you are and what you like to do other than writing.

Lon 2:33
Okay, uh, names lawn Varna door or lawn he Varna door. Both both. I use both his names. So I mean, I have born in California raised here. Most of my life. I had a very brief stint on the East Coast for a few years. But California had been live 90% of my life. I love to read love to do reading love to play Dungeons and Dragons because I’m a gigantic nerd. I have because of the whole thing with quarantine, I’ve fallen down several YouTube holes. So um, and I also just recently moved so I’ve also, you know, I’m finding that I need to unpack more. And I’m, I’m even more of a procrastinator than i that i thought possible.

Stephen 3:47
Funny how those things like, point out the worst parts of yourself that you don’t need to admit. Yeah, so so in d&d, what’s your favorite character type to play?

Lon 3:57
Ah, I I love the first first character I ever played was a ranger. I just I’ve always loved that character and that character class. But I do love playing the wizard. The really smart guy, you know, who’s carrying around the book and sits in the back and through spells. Like you guys go handle the difficult stuff. I’ll be over here throwing fireballs, you’ll be fine.

Stephen 4:27
I always like to play characters that have some sort of like, problem or, oh, yeah, whatever. And I played a giant character once and made myself afraid of the dark. And little did I know that the DM had. The very first thing was we get attacked and we have to run through tunnels without lights. So I held up the whole group and we almost got stuck in a cave in. My one friend was ready to kill me. He’s like, why do you do this? I’m like, It’s fun. It’s telling stories and Exactly, no

Lon 5:01
i and i love i love giving, like, prompt like, like you give a problem to the character. It’s not just oh, well, I’m a great heroic, blah, blah. No, that’s, that’s silly. It’s boring. It gets really boring really quickly. So

Stephen 5:19
I played a thief that he was a better fighter than a thief. I burned the whole hotel down once because I insisted on exploring at night and I tripped out the window and fell right onto some guards. And so yeah, that’s bad for thief. Yeah, yeah. So you grew up California, like dandy, you’re a nerd. What brought you into writing? Why did you want to start writing?

Lon 5:45
I’m just something that was always instilled in me, even as a young kid was reading. Um, at first I was just completely against, it’s like, oh, my parents wanted me to read. I don’t want to read. I want to do it. Can’t you just like, or, at first, it was something like, well, I don’t want to learn how to play this game. Could you tell me how to do it? Read the instructions yourself. But I don’t wanna So, um, but I started reading I actually started reading. Because in like high school, they make make you do like a 15 minute in English, like a 15 minute reading break. Like at the beginning of the beginning of the class, it’s like, Alright, for 15 minutes, you’re reading silently. And it’s like, oh, shit, I gotta find something. Um, and so my parents are just like, they are voracious readers and read all kinds of thrillers and mysteries and stuff like that. And I got one of these books, and it was the cat who books series. You’ve heard of that?

Stephen 7:01
Actually, I haven’t.

Lon 7:03
Um, it’s a series of books written by a woman named Lillian Jackson Browne. I,

Stephen 7:09
okay, I recognize her name.

Lon 7:11
Yeah. But the the thing is, it’s a series of books, stories of series of mysteries. I couldn’t sort of cozy mysteries. Because it’s a newspaper reporter who solves these different crimes. And always the, that one piece of information that one clue that leads to everything is solved by either cocoa or Yum, yum, one of his two Siamese cats.

Stephen 7:40
That’s great. Yeah. And it’s, it’s, and the thing is, is I started I, I tore through the book, and is and the thing is, is my parents had maybe 15 of them, and just tore through all of those. And then started to read like other short story collections that I’d gotten from that I’ve been getting collecting over over time. And then I just really fell in love with science fiction, fantasy, more science fiction at first. And then I was actually 20 before I actually started, but for actually read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings for the first time. And then afterwards, it was like, and love just left and became a giant fantasy nerd. I think that’s cool that you didn’t care to read. And you found that book that sparked it, and then it opened it up everything. Yeah. And that’s so important with the different books that are out there, trying different things, reading different things, especially for kids. And I say that, because I’ve been writing middle grade. So part of it is always you want to make sure you’re writing something or presenting something to the kids that they’re interested in that they want to read. And yeah, kids have so much interest in various things. Yeah, we settled down I think a little bit more as we get to be adults.

Lon 9:07
Yeah, at a certain at a certain age to kind of like find your, your your niche and just sort of continue in that vein, right.

Stephen 9:17
So So what’s the last couple of really good books you’ve read that you remember and enjoyed? Oh,

Lon 9:27
the US started the the Chris spotlight, there’s this Chris Fox series, which is this very sci fi like science fantasy type of thing. And it starts with tech major. And I’m on the second book, and he’s written like, seven or nine of them. Cuz the dude’s a machine. He’s just and he just like, you know, every year he would turn out a book every few every like three weeks or almost felt like, I’m so like tech major, and I can’t. I can’t remember the moment what the second one is. But I’m also reading a recursion by Blake crouch.

Stephen 10:14
Oh, and Jay recommended that one. Yeah.

Lon 10:17
And the thing is, that’s just a trippy book.

Stephen 10:21
Really? I’d love to check that out.

Lon 10:24
Yeah, it’s it’s about memory. And it’s really cool. So I recommend.

Stephen 10:31
I always, I mean, I’ve heard the name a couple times. I’m a computer programmer, too. So recursion in computer programs when a function calls itself over and over. I’m just like, so are there parts of the book that go back and repeat again? And keep going? Well, quite. Yeah. I’ll have to check that out. Because I’ve gotten turned on the blade crowds a little bit myself.

Lon 10:56
I discovered him I’ve heard from various podcasts and friends about him. And then I heard the interview with with Jay. And so I I started actually with his pines, the Wayward Pines trilogy. Okay, and the first one was really good. The second two, were just sort of like I it was more of a I know, I thought they were good. They kept my interest, but the first one was the best of breed.

Stephen 11:28
And obviously, he’s gotten better since then. It’s Yeah, he’s gotten a lot better since then. Something we all try for?

Lon 11:35
Oh, yeah. No, it’s like you always strive to make better better books every single time.

Stephen 11:40
Right. Okay, so, go from there. When did you start writing? And what was that like? And then what was the first book or two that you came out with,

Lon 11:50
um, I, for someone who at first didn’t like to read, I did like to sort of, like, create stories in my head and just write silly write strange things. I always remember in different English classes, loving the story prompts that you could get, right? And especially in like high school, and, like in high school, that’s when it was sort of like, I love doing those, those prompts. And I would do them like, and I The thing is, like, everyone else would be like, it’d be, it’d be like half a page, that’d be like four or five pages. Um, but I started with more something like a science fiction bend to things. Obviously, that’s what was reading. And then after Lord of the Rings, and I got into the whole fantasy thing, I started writing a lot more fantasy oriented stuff. But, and I knew that I wanted to do site like I wanted to be a writer. That was my, my thing. By the time I got first one into college, I was a political science major. Oh, cool. And then I realized that, no, this is not what I want to do. I want to do something else.

Stephen 13:06
So what you’re saying is, if anything’s gonna turn someone into a very dedicated writer, it’s being a political science major. Exactly.

Lon 13:18
So after I was asked to leave the first college that I went to, um, it was one of those like, Hey, everyone gets a two point, you know, it’s like, Hey, everyone passes their first quarter, right? No, no, no. I went to Cal Poly Pomona for a very long time and did not get ever going to point out,

Stephen 13:44
we want to give you the opportunity to go somewhere else.

Lon 13:48
Yes, exactly. I think it’d be better for you to explore educational opportunities elsewhere. All right. But, um, so I, but I mean, I mean, I actually have a master’s degree now. So that’s great. College became a little bit better for me easier.

Stephen 14:10
That’s kind of an analogy to writing, right?

Lon 14:13
Basically, um, but the first actual, like, real attempt I made at writing was a book called mostly human, which is a science fiction novel. With a little bit of a, like a noir twist in it. It’s about this clone detective who’s searching for a serial killer. And worked on that for years and years to try it. You know, it’s like, it’s one of those like, I started it. I started it in 1998. No, no, no, no. 2000 2008 That’s right. 2008 is when I say started it. And I basically said, Okay, I’m doing this and I pushed publish on Amazon in November of 2016. Wow, no. 1515

Stephen 15:16
there’s still seven years.

Lon 15:18
Yep. So it’s been. And the thing is that specific book has been through many, many, many changes and revisions. And I actually just released a new cover expanded all kinds of, you know, with with many different things than the original book.

Stephen 15:41
So I assume, during those seven years, you weren’t writing like 100 words a day and continuing and then boom, you’re done. I assume you wrote you rewrote, you learned? You changed. You read? You got feedback? Yeah. What was that like? For you? It

Lon 15:56
was, it was a very difficult process. It was. And also there were just there were there were days, weeks, where it’s just, I should be working on something else. Because it’s like, I’ve, because I had a full manuscript of it. But the thing is, there was that part of me that kept going, maybe one more revision, maybe one more. And so it goes through it, and I try to work on it, to try to change it. And then, you know, I get to try, I’d say, okay, set it down, I’m done with this, I’m gonna go off, I’m gonna write a different thing. And, you know, I would start four or five different projects, all of them would sort of implode, or I get 2030 pages into it or something. And then just, you know, it would die. But eventually, it was more more than anything. The reason I hit Publish is, it was forcing me to, okay, you got this. You need to publish it. And then then, I’ve been hearing about the Amazon and the whole self publishing thing for a number of years. The thing is, is the one of the one downside I will tell any indie writer is if you come from a the academic type of MFA background, they are the at least my a lot of people at my school were anti indie. And still are to, to an extent they’re Sora, their little anti indie, indie author. And for a number of years, I just I listened to them. And I wasn’t looking at the actual data. I wasn’t looking at actual like, article, I was looking at the articles going, but there’s all these success stories. Yeah. But you know, if you’re an indie publisher, you’re basically you know, it’s a vanity. It’s vanity publishing. I’m like, all right, well, I won’t do that. So, and I just kept pursuing, like, actual publishing, like an actual, like traditional publishing deal, and kept getting rejected and kept getting rejected and kept getting rejected. So and then,

Stephen 18:14
oh, sorry, go ahead.

Lon 18:16
And then like I said, this, and finally, just 2015 is like, and

Stephen 18:22
so do you think if you hadn’t been in that environment, with the feelings of negativity towards India, do you think you might have published sooner? And do you think that? How do you think that affected where you are now? Do you think it may have actually helped because you kept pushing harder? Or do you think it hurts you some? What are your thoughts on all that? Looking back? Three, four years later?

Lon 18:45
Looking back on it, I mean, it I wasn’t, I wasn’t part of the Kindle Gold Rush. And I could have been, but I mean, who knows? Like, it’s very possible that I could have still put it up in when it first when the, you know, the the first big thing of Kindle was going on and gotten $0. So I mean, it’s, it’s more of a, um, I did, I felt as though I did learn things. And just, I also understand, when I see myself going in that direction, where I was of just revision after like, I need to, like focus on this one scene, I need to do this. And it just, there’s a difference between like tightening up a scene and going, Okay, this is just me. I’m simply trying to avoid actual work and avoid actually doing something. Right.

Stephen 19:49
So, so then you publish the first one, and since then, three or four years, what have you done with that book with any other books?

Lon 19:58
Oh, well, I published it, I pulled it down to try to get the published actually found an agent’s talk to the lead agent about it. She said take it down and put another 20,000 words into it. Because it was 80,000. And she wanted, okay, it needs to be at least 100,000 from for me to get to meet, even sell it. So I did, and then send it to her. And she says, I’m sorry, it’s a great book, but we don’t want it. Alright. Thanks. So I tried a few more times. But at the same time, I was still writing other series and working on other these other series and ideas that I had. I’ve got a very bad sci fi, military sci fi series of shorts. I’ve got some paranormal, like urban fantasy type things. And a weird West story that’s and the problem is, these were all like shorts, these were all like little story starts like a serial story. That got to a point and then I just stopped. And it was just and the thing is, is I never went back to them. And so like, and then also helped me figure out that I actually discovered that I actually have ADHD. And well, and the thing is, is it helped and I’m actually I’ve, since I’ve been on the meds for it, the focus has been a lot better. To the point of I have, I was able to relaunch mostly human like to like a month and a half two months ago. And then just today, the I the pre order was filled for the this other series that I’m starting called junk blues Mark called Junker blues. The first one is junk for blues, Mars. And currently, I’m working on the second for mostly human and for jungle blues.

Stephen 22:27
Okay, so a couple questions with all of that you tried traditional? Have you given up on that and want to just focus indie or do you still think maybe sometime you might try traditional again?

Lon 22:42
I am I’ve thought about it. And there’s There are stories that I sort of have in my head that I could think if I were to try for a traditional deal, I could use one of these stories and try that way. I’m not opposed to being like some type of hybrid indie Indian having a traditional contract with something like I’d be I’d be fine with that. But it’s, it’s definitely a it’s getting my name and being a published by one of the the top the top, like the big top five or even any of the Vanities. Or sorry, not definitely not Vandy, sorry. Smaller press. That’s what I say. Very sorry. That is, Oh, God, I feel bad now. I’m the smaller presses. The I, I would still like to try that I would still like to get a deal with any type of small press big or small. But at the moment, I’m much I’m a little bit more focused on like, on indie, and trying to create income through that.

Stephen 24:02
Okay, so you mentioned a couple different genres, different types of books you wrote. And what’s pushed a lot if you listen to podcasts, websites, training, and all that is pick a pick a series of a genre, and write a whole series in that genre and then write another series in that genre. You did completely different. Do I feel that was a different matter?

Lon 24:29
It was, it was an interesting experience. Um, it was I I’m curious if I could try and if I might actually be able to do something like that again, because as I said, what I was trying for was a cereal. I was trying for cereals, I was doing like 2030 4050 pages of 30 to 50 pages of a trunk of a story, every month or every month. For something, that’s what I was trying for are striving for, to build up a story that would eventually get like, you know, at the end of season one and be like, the big thick will all in all in one compassing type of story at the end. And I with everything that I’ve learned and learned through the years, I’m curious if I could do something like that again. But I also think that I would do something a little bit different with it, I wouldn’t necessarily put it on Amazon, I would probably do it to a Patreon page, which I have, which I haven’t done anything with for a long time. So

Stephen 25:51
that’s interesting, you mentioned that because I’m doing kind of the same thing. I’ve got an I, I have a series start, that I’ve been working on. But I wanted to do a serial posted to my website, a chapter a week. And so I made it the young version of the characters in the series, the main series, so that I haven’t seen much with that, but I haven’t really promoted it a whole lot yet. So I’d be interested to follow up with you later, to see if you’ve done any more. So just keep that in mind. Like a couple months a year down the road or something. So, so for the future, over the next year to five years, what do you see your self doing with your writing and your writing career?

Lon 26:37
Ah, well, I mean, if we’re dreaming big, um, I love to have multiple series out. I’ve I’ve got about seven different story ideas sort of thrown onto a whiteboard now and kind of looking at when to work on those and, and work on them get covers made start writing and plotting and working on all those. And working on audio books for everything, actual print books for everything. Um, and I mean, it’d be cool if, if somehow, you know, Amazon and Netflix gave me a streaming series. That’d be awesome.

Stephen 27:34
That’d be great. Okay, so let’s let me look here. Um, any other thoughts? Or a question? I didn’t ask that you were wanting to maybe say something about words of wisdom to other authors.

Lon 27:53
Right. I mean, you don’t have to write every day. poke at your story every day. And don’t and don’t. Don’t let revision and editing, just consuming once. Once it has gotten to a point, send it out. Even if it’s, even if it’s bad, you can work on it again, you can edit it again. There’s always the edit button again.

Stephen 28:24
Right. And don’t don’t stop, don’t give up on that. Great coming from somebody who’s been doing this for 12 years now. And it’s still at it. I think that’s very important. A lot of people, you know, spend six months writing one story, put it out, and then like one person buys it, it’s their mother. And then they kind of give up. You know, just gotta keep doing it. Yeah, thanks. Yeah. Okay, so long. Tell us again, a little bit what your author names are where to find you online.

Lon 29:04
Okay. I’m named Lon barndoor. LNVARNAD. Oh, R e. Or lawn e lawn space e Varner door. A. You can find me on Amazon. I’m on Kobo Barnes and Noble iTunes iBooks. I’m everywhere. The sort of the series that I that just dropped today is at the moment, Kindle k you only and that’s Junker blues, Mars.

Stephen 29:42
And have you used Kindle unlimited in the past?

Lon 29:45
I have. Um, I have discovered very little. For me personally, I’ve I’ve I haven’t seen much return from from K you

Stephen 30:00
So you’re more of the wide.

Lon 30:03
I’m much more of a wide but I but I wanted to do an experiment of just doing these, like the first three of these of the of the jungle Blue Series are going into k U. And once I’m done with all three, I want to see maybe how it goes and another 90 days posts to see how how it does. And if not, I’m pulling it out and going wide. So Got

Stephen 30:27
it? Well, that would be interesting, too. One of the things I’d like to do is, when I talk to an author follow up with them, like I said, six months to a year later. So that’d be a great thing to check in. How are things going with that? Because that’s a huge thing with authors. Should I do Kindle unlimited and nothing else? Or should I go wide? And where would that and it changes because new avenues are opening all the time, digital keeps adding and other strive keeps adding. And so there’s all sorts of changes constantly. So there’ll be something be very curious to find out more about from your perspective and how things went for you. All right. Well, I appreciate the moment to talk to you. I look forward to seeing more in the future. And hopefully we’re running to each other if we ever have events again. All right, exactly. Yeah, that’d be great. We’re just a question. Were you going to go to New Orleans? In the fall?

Lon 31:23
Uh, no. I mean, I, I hope I hope it happens. But no, I’m but I am hoping to do the Boston one.

Stephen 31:33
Oh, I have to check. I’m not even up on that one. After

Lon 31:37
they announced at the very end of the of the summit.

Stephen 31:40
Oh, okay. Yeah, I haven’t checked up. I’m behind on podcasts and everything. So, okay, cool. Well, maybe I’ll get to see you then, man. Maybe. Thanks a lot. I appreciate the time. Appreciate it. Talk to you later. Bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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