Bill and I met at a writer group – Finish, Polish, Publish – in Cleveland. He has written most of his life, but has had a web development career.
Bill talks about his book and working with his daughter. We discuss the group also.
All right, bill. Welcome to today’s. Discovered wordsmith.
Good to have you on how you doing. I’m doing great.
[00:00:25] Bill: It’s a pleasure to be here. I’ve been listening to your podcast and really enjoying them. Oh, thanks. Great. I’m glad. Pretty
[00:00:30] Stephen: inspirational. Oh, that was the whole idea. That’s what I wanted to get out of it. I hope, and now you’re up in the Cleveland area, so we’re not too far apart.
So you’ve enjoying the weather today. Oh, definitely.
[00:00:41] Bill: Sure, sure. Beats last few days.
[00:00:43] Stephen: Yes. I was just gonna say it’s a lot nicer today. I got the window open, just a little. Last couple I had to close mine cuz there were trucks going by, so oh yeah. Yeah. That’s always a problem, but all right I know you a little bit.
We’re in one of the same groups in Cleveland, we meet once a month with Dave van horn published Polish repeat or no published Polish. Something I keep getting them confused, publish, polishing, get the damn thing done. Yeah. That’s basically it. Yeah. But why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about you some of the hobbies and things you like to do in your life other than writing.
[00:01:18] Bill: Okay. I’m all born and raised in Cleveland area. Moved away for quite a while. Never expected to come back, came back due to family matters, met my wife. Pretty much stayed. In my spare time there’s a few things that I like to do. I like everybody else you have on your podcast.
I like to hike, but I also like to kayak a lot. Nice. And more, more just recreationally than going crazy. I have a daughter who’s a sea kayaker trains in sea. Kay. I don’t do that. Quite to that level. The other kind of interesting thing I do is I’ve been a photographer for a lot of years.
Slipped into this weird little niche of stereo photography. Oh, cool. So I’m doing primarily stereo stills. I belong to local group national group as part of a national group. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s harder than regular. Photography cuz you have two cameras that are always not going off at the same time.
And two, two ways for things to go wrong, at least every time. I ha one of my daughters is an artist. In fact will talk about her when we get into the meat of things. But we do painting parties. That’s kind of part of the way we’ve paid her way through Cleveland Institute of. Wow. So we do a lot of painting parties.
My wife is the MC I’m the photographer. And they’re just a blast to do. We do ’em on the kind of the valley scene railroad among other places, as well as the people’s homes and clubs. Oh, cool. We always say, if you can paint, if you can paint a picture on a moving train, you can do it anywhere.
[00:02:56] Stephen: And my stuff normally looks like it was painted on a moving train. So side fit right in . It, it actually improves a little bit with a couple glasses of wine, so
[00:03:04] Bill: That’s another one of our famous things the more wine you drink, the better
[00:03:07] Stephen: you’re painting. Yeah. And it looks better even if it doesn’t really look better.
exactly. All right. Why did you wanna start writing?
[00:03:18] Bill: Oh boy, I’ve written all my life. I did actually grow up in a, kind of a challenging household and writing at that time was just my way of dealing. The issues that I had to face, I don’t wanna go into a lot of details there. But I started writing and actually I liked a lot of stuff and I went to my teachers and here’s the stuff I do.
And I got a lot of criticism back then and, or good critiques rather. It’s a better way of putting it. I did try to continue writing fiction in college. There’s a few pieces there that I’m afraid that if I ever do actually get famous, they’re gonna come back to haunt me. Somebody will bring out this one.
I submitted to a contest and I’ll be just terminally embarrassed about it. Part of what I did is I think I figured I had to start writing politically. I had to have a message in my stories. And I do have messages in my stories but when you write it directly like that, they come out to be crap basically.
So didn’t do a lot. But what I did do is I ended up in my, between my third and fourth year, I went to university of Virginia. So we don’t have seniors and juniors. So between the third and fourth year I started working for the school paper and discovered I really loved it. I became a writer and photographer.
Primarily a writer for that. And I continued doing that through the end of the year. And I ended up working as a reporter or again, a reporter photographer for about 10 years after I got out of school. And that was, yeah, the best times in my life. Those that was so much such a fun job to do.
Didn’t pay well. And when I did meet my wife we thought we started talking. getting married and all that stuff. And it’s like now I can’t survive on $10,000 a year. But I I mostly worked for smaller papers. I did work for the I did some stringing for the beacon journal.
Some of my best work was actually done in New Mexico. I worked for this Coreen chief. It’s this weird, bizarre, beautiful little town in the middle of New Mexico in central New Mexico, right out to the rear grand. Full of just fantastic characters. And I worked there for a couple years and I, that was some of the best work I did.
I worked around here as well and a little bit in DC after I graduated from college. Nice.
[00:05:32] Stephen: Okay. Go ahead. I was gonna say I’ve heard multiple authors not the younger ones the more experienced authors that they started with doing some journalism, some newspapers and magazines or things, which is not as easy for the younger ones.
They can’t help that, but it seems to be a good, even if you wanna write fiction, it seems to be a good jumping off point to get you writing, to get you practicing. Definitely that.
[00:05:58] Bill: And also the, just the people you meet and the things and the things you do. Yeah. I don’t know that I’ve included a lot of it in any of my writing so far.
Specific things, but just the whole genre of people and the kinds of people I met, influenced me. I think for me, the lesson to pass on to the younger writers is you wanna write that world class USA today bestselling novel. You wanna compete with Stephen King and Patterson and Rowling and all those, but sometimes.
[00:06:28] Stephen: That’s not the first thing you do. You have to do other things that actually contribute and help you to get to that point. And it’s not always a direct straight path. I think everybody kind, I think forgets that sometimes. Just kinda the lesson to pass on, so we’re gonna talk about, oh, sorry, go ahead.
[00:06:46] Bill: me just I’ll finish just real quickly. Yeah. I’ve written even through most of my adult life Some I liked it, but I never quite got into it. I you’re raising a family and working as a web developer, web designer a graphic designer, although things taken off a lot of your time.
So I, I didn’t spend a lot of time writing until I got, until my kids were grown. And like I said, one of my daughters is an artist. She’s the one who actually came to me and said, Hey let’s do writing prompt. Let’s create a monthly prompt. I’ll paint a picture or I’ll do something already.
And you write a story about it. And that’s where actually a lot of the stories in this book came from nice. But she’s the one who got me back into it and I discovered I really missed it and I really loved it.
[00:07:36] Stephen: So writing has been a part of your life, but it hasn’t been a full time focus for all of your.
[00:07:42] Bill: But I, it’s going to be my next career when I can finally, when I can finally retire from what I’m doing. Nice.
[00:07:48] Stephen: Okay. The book we’re gonna talk about is songs of a befuddled muse. Tell us a bit about that book.
[00:07:56] Bill: Okay. It’s book of 13 12 short stories and one, no Villa. As I say, a lot of them came from the writing prompts per se, but it’s not like they’re stupid.
Writing prompt stories like you get in a high school classroom. I, it just became a jumping point. Okay. Here’s an interesting thought. Let’s take this somewhere completely different than nobody would ever imagine. And then we started getting a whole lot more creative and less specific about the prompts.
It turns out I was the one who, who wrote more than she painted because she was in the middle of art school and trying to graduate . So it’s 13 stories. It’s a benefit and a problem. It doesn’t really fit into any genre per se. There’s some sci-fi stories in there. The two stories that are part of the same series the one story, and then the Nobel after it.
And I hope to be a future series or time travel stories. Some of them are one of my favorites is a clown Noar story. A circus clown. Who’s also a PI and he has to solve the murder of his
[00:08:58] Stephen: friend and mentor. Does he wear the nose while he is investigating? don’t give it away.
That’s have to be that way. Yeah.
[00:09:07] Bill: You’ll find it out, but it just takes it and puts it in and he’s very serious about what he does. His job is to make the kids laugh and the bad guys. No it’s okay. And that was, that’s such a fun story to write, and there’s a ghost story in there.
There’s a few other types of paranormal type stories and some that are, I’m almost unclassifiable. Okay. They’re not really para paranormal. They’re just whatever came to my mind at the time. And that it’s a benefit in that. I love the stories and I think it’s a really FA fascinating, interesting book.
It makes it a little harder to sell because I can’t find all the keywords I need on On Amazon
[00:09:51] Stephen: yet. Yeah. I was going to ask about that, cuz it seems multiple genres. So do you have intentions to write books in a specific genre? Or do you wanna write whole stories, books in all these multiple genres?
[00:10:04] Bill: No the book I’m working on now is something that, and it is, like I said I was, I’ve been writing all my life. I started this probably. Dunno 10, 15 years ago. I love the story. It’s an interesting, but it is it crosses its own genre. I don’t know. I don’t know how much I should give away.
It’s it is a written in the style of a fantasy and epic fantasy, another world type fantasy. But there’s no real fantasy per se. Okay. The wizards are all face .
[00:10:34] Stephen: Okay.
[00:10:35] Bill: And. They’ve created this world. That is just very strange.
[00:10:41] Stephen: And that’s coming up. Do you have any time frame when you might?
[00:10:45] Bill: I hope to get the first one done.
Oh, I don’t know. 20, 23 sometime. And I’m pretty sure it’s gonna take at least one more to finish the story possibly to okay. All right. We’ve got 50, 60,000 words in it already. Fair number, which would have to be removed at some.
[00:11:04] Stephen: So the songs of a befuddle muse multiple genres, multiple stories, and written of from prompts with you and your daughter, do you think prompts
[00:11:14] Bill: But again I, I.
I don’t wanna say it’s just I had a prompt that I had to do a prompt up. It became things. Okay. Let’s, I’d create the prompt. One of ’em was based off a statue that my daughter and I both loved when we were in, in Paris.
[00:11:32] Stephen: Okay. So do you think you like you’ve liked writing, do you think without doing that, you would’ve still gotten back into writing and pushed yourself to get books?
[00:11:43] Bill: I think I would’ve, but this just pushed me into. And it just became fun. I’ll tell you I’ll mention one thing. When I was a reporter, I loved the reporting and I loved when the article was done, but I hated the writing it was a really painful process. Especially back in those days when it was all on type.
Now I love writing. I just, I really enjoy the time that I can spend doing it. It’s not enough time that I could spend doing it, but. I really like doing it and I enjoy coming up with these characters.
[00:12:16] Stephen: Okay. The book, the stories, would you say there’s some other books or authors out there that are similar.
So anyone listening that likes those others would say, oh yeah, I might like that.
[00:12:28] Bill: I want to be Ted Chang when I grow up. Okay. Yeah. He’s the guy who wrote the story that became the movie arrival. Yeah, that’s from a book called stories of your life and it is a jaw droppingly, fantastic book in my mind.
It’s the kind of thing that, again, he’s, he crosses genres in there as well. Now there’s one about I, if I remember correctly ancient Babylon and in the newer book, there’s another about the ancient Arab world which is a time travel story. So apparently he likes that and I like time travel too.
So that I like that idea. I take a little, I love Ray Bradberry, he’s done a lot of stuff where, again it’s sci-fi and fantasy and just weird fiction and speculative fiction. All in the same book. And that’s what I grew up on. And I even take a little bit from Arthur C. Clark, cuz a couple of the stories in this book are just short, funny stories just for one or two gag slash points.
And then some of them are much longer pieces, so it’s a mixture of all those things. And I’d like to pull all of that in. Okay. Yeah. All right. If I can compare myself to greats, Ray Bradbury, Ted Chang Arthur, C Clark among others, then you’re happy. yeah. If I get put in that, that that genre or that, that company.
[00:13:50] Stephen: Got it. And so the book is independently published, correct? It’s independently published. Yes. And we’ve both gotten some help from Dave getting things by, let’s just a shout out to the group. Again, I’ll put links in the show notes. What type of feedback are you getting from readers?
[00:14:05] Bill: I’ve got five review or let’s see, six stars or six sets of stars and five reviews.
All of them. You. Four four fives and one four. Okay. I’ve given it to a lot of people. I’m getting a lot of reviews. People saying how much they liked it, including people who’ve passed it on to other friends. And then they report back to me that their friends like it. So people who do read it do like it it’s just, it’s got interesting characters.
It goes in a whole bunch of different fun directions,
[00:14:38] Stephen: but now they just aren’t enough of them out there yet. Got it. We talked a bit about the different genres. Have you had any feedback on someone saying I really liked the sci-fi stuff and not the paranormal or anything along those lines.
[00:14:51] Bill: given me anything quite that specific.
[00:14:53] Stephen: That’s good. They’ll
[00:14:54] Bill: name the stories that they like. But they’re not saying you shouldn’t have concluded this kind of story
[00:15:00] Stephen: in there. And that’s typical people usually like a couple in a couple less in there. So yeah.
That’s typical. If you had a choice now, this is a interesting mix of genres. But let’s say your next book, which is one story. If you had a choice to take a story, one of your stories, would you rather ha turn it into a movie or a TV show? I wouldn’t refuse either. Okay. But that’s a good answer.
[00:15:27] Bill: I, I was thinking about that in terms of this book most of them would make a TV show. But the one pair of stories could actually become a movie. Heck if the next book goes really well the whole like five seasons, like the game of Thrones, I’d be really happy with that.
[00:15:45] Stephen: And you don’t even have to finish the series before the TV show runs out. Obviously
[00:15:49] Bill: I don’t think he’s ever gonna finish the series, unfortunately, cuz. I loved those books long before it was popular to love those books that I’ve been reading George R. Martin for a long
[00:15:58] Stephen: time. If he never gets to finish on Brandon, Sanderson can step in and finish those too.
So I’m sure you wouldn’t mind . Where is your book available?
[00:16:08] Bill: It’s available on on Amazon right now. OK. It’s available as print on demand. And I was a little surprised. I thought most people would buy the Kindle version. Because I’m a fairly big Kindle reader. But it’s available is a more people bought the print on demand than the Kindle version it’s available for Kindle and is available for Kindle unlimited.
Okay. And one of the things I did I don’t know that it’s paid off or not, but I, each of the stories is available separately as a Kindle book or a Kindle. Okay. And I did that mostly as a way of trying to find some way of advertising them and getting
[00:16:46] Stephen: different genres. So in, in any given month how many of those individual stories are people getting as opposed to the whole book?
Okay. So not necessarily working.
[00:16:58] Bill: It may be working and the people see that, and then they say I the whole book is $2 more. Let me just do that or I can get it all on Kindle unlimited. So
[00:17:06] Stephen: Which is actually yeah the point . Yeah. The whole point was to just be able to, okay.
[00:17:12] Bill: Time travel stores, I can put in time, travel time, travel, romance, time, travel historical alternate history, things like that.
[00:17:21] Stephen: And you’re in Kindle unlimited. Do you get page views and reads through that? Pretty good. And do you have any plans once it’s out of there putting it wide or you just go keep it unlimited?
Sorry. I’m not sure why I would wanna make that choice unless I can make a lot more money selling them with if, cause I think if it’s in Kindle unlimited, I have a, is it, is that where unlimited in. The
price? No, if you’re kind to unlimited and people could check it out using kind, you’re not allowed to go elsewhere.
So I was just wondering if your page views start, oh yeah. Diminishing. If you go out to Barnes and noble or apple or anything
[00:18:02] Bill: right now, I want readers this whole book. I’m not planning on making a lot of money on this book, which is fortunate that I didn’t plan for that. So far Really, I want to develop a readership people who were looking for the next book.
Okay. I’ll do whatever it takes to get more people to read. Okay, good. At the moment I don’t, Amazon’s responsible for what? 75? 80%. Yeah. Huge. I do wanna make whether I record it or whether somebody else records it, I really would love to make an audio.
[00:18:36] Stephen: Okay, that’d be cool to hear if that affects your other sales or anything too.
That’d be good. So do you have a website?
[00:18:44] Bill: There is befuddled muse.com is a website for the book cone corral.com is my personal one. And they’ll lead you to a couple other photographic sites and so forth that I have.
[00:18:55] Stephen: Okay. Some of your other interests, interwoven.
[00:19:00] Bill: A little bit. Okay. The Beuse is about this book and it has my bio and my daughter’s bio.
Now we talked a little bit about her. One of the things I wanted to mention if you’ll see on the back of this model, and I know that the people are listening, can’t see what I’m showing, but there’s tattoos. My daughter among other things is tattoo artists. Nice. And each of the individual books has just one tattoo on her that represents that story.
And then the start of every chapter has one of her tattoos, one of her drawings. So not only did she play a part in getting me started on this, she played a part in making this a really beautiful visual.
[00:19:41] Stephen: And this will go up on YouTube so people can take a look at it. And anyone listening that hasn’t seen it on YouTube it’s over there, links it, links on.
[00:19:50] Bill: they go see the book in Amazon hint, bunch, nudge, win quick. You’ll see
[00:19:54] Stephen: the tattoos there. We’ll have links too. So you mentioned Arthur, C Clark and Asimov, and those guys do you have any other favorite books and authors?
[00:20:04] Bill: Are you familiar with Mary do or Russell from the Cleveland area?
[00:20:08] Stephen: I am not also
[00:20:08] Bill: She’s written, what’s probably one of my most favorite books ever. It’s called the Sparrow. Okay. And then children of God was the second book in that series. And then she’s written. Those were our first two books and they’re sci-fi the other books are no they tend to be a little bit like mine and they go and slightly mixed different genres beautiful, wonderful writer. Yeah, I’m sure there, it’s almost whoever I’m reading now is my favorite writer. But yeah, I could come up with a lot Martin is fantastic as well.
[00:20:42] Stephen: All right. And up in Cleveland, I know most of the bookstores, but do you have a favorite bookstore that you like to go to?
[00:20:48] Bill: I’m I this is embarrassing for me because I have in the past loved bookstores back in the old days before Amazon I had a number of bookstores in different places that I lived, that I would I was a regular Dennison there, but there aren’t any that I know of here in, in Soland. I go to borders sometimes, but mostly I probably buy my, my, myself, I buy from Amazon and I love audible.
Yeah. I’m a huge audio book listener.
[00:21:16] Stephen: Okay, good. All right. Before we finish up the first half year with your book and move on to author stuff if somebody came saw you on the street or whatever, and said, so why should I get your book and read it? What would you tell him?
[00:21:30] Bill: It’s fun.
It’s interesting. It’s got some really cool stories in it. You’ll enjoy it. Okay.
[00:21:37] Stephen: Nice, great bill. Thanks for uh, sharing all that. It’s my pleasure.