Ronald Paxton is the author of over forty short stories, two of which have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net awards. He has also written five novels. “Winter Songs” and “Deep Water” are currently available on Amazon, and “Broken” will be published in April 2014. “Haven” and “Soul Man” are pending publication.
Mr. Paxton grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the setting for most of his stories He and his wife and their Siamese cat live in Newport News, Virginia.
1. What got you into writing? I retired from the corporate world in 2007 and suddenly found that I had the time and mental energy to pursue something creative. Since I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, I began working on some short stories. My first story was accepted for publication in December 2008.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? When I’m working on a novel or a short story I write every day. I edit my work carefully as I write, so anything over a thousand words is a good day for me. I’m used to getting up early, so I normally write in the morning and afternoon.
3. Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it? I haven’t really experienced writer’s block and hope I never do! I recently finished my fifth novel and am currently thinking about my next project. My process is to let my mind free associate potential titles and story ideas. I also will create a cast of characters and build a story around them. I get some of my best ideas when I’m out for a morning walk or sleeping at night.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I don’t have a big story board or rigid outline that I use. I create a short synopsis and use it as a loose guide and checklist for the development of the book’s narrative and the introduction of my characters. I don’t try to force the story or the people in it to fit the synopsis. Once I start writing the story takes on a life of its own, and I can’t always predict what my characters will do next!
5. What was the publishing process like for you. any advice for aspiring authors? It took me about eighteen months to find a publisher for my first short story. After that it went more easily, although I still received my share of rejection letters. I had almost lost hope that I would ever see my novels published until I received an e-mail acceptance for “Winter Songs” from World Castle Publishing in July 2012. I cried when I read it.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Actually holding the book in my hand and seeing my name on the cover. It’s still an amazing feeling.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? “Broken” is the sequel to “Deep Water” and the second book in the Salem Matthews series. It’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and centers around the kidnapping of five year old Monday Matthews. “Soul Man,” which I just completed, continues the story of Salem Matthews and his family. Anyone who likes family drama/suspense with elements of mystery and romance will enjoy these books.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love to read, of course. In addition to fiction, I also enjoy non-fiction, particularly southern history. I also like listening to music (classic rock ), walking, and keeping my cat company.
9. Any advice on building a fan base? Do as much as you can and then do some more because you can never do enough. As far as I can tell there is no magic answer, so spread your efforts. I have a website, blog, Facebook page, Pinterest account, and Linkedin account. I also belong to a number of author groups. Although it sometimes feels like work, it’s important to be active and visible on social media. Occasional giveaways and free days can be useful in raising your profile and garnering reviews. What doesn’t work? Submitting press releases to various media outlets and donating a copy of my book to the local library has done nothing for my sales. Your results may vary.
10. What is the hardest thing about writing? The hardest thing about writing is writing. Writers are notorious procrastinators. It’s very easy to spend the day on Facebook, Twitter, and a number of other social media sites as the author tries to build his brand and increase his visibility, all the while hoping to attract friends, readers, and reviewers, or at least a few Likes. When I’m writing I force social media to take a back seat. I set weekly and monthly word count goals to help me stay on task.