Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Author Wayne Thomas Batson unveils his new series and reveals his writing secrets

By Merrie Destefano

Have you ever wished you could ask one of your favorite authors to reveal some of their writing tips? If so, today’s your lucky day! 

We’ve got an interview with Wayne Thomas Batson, best-selling author of the Door Within trilogy, Isle of Swords, Isle of Fire, The Berinfell Prophecies, Sword in the Stars, The Errant King, and Ghost.

Today also happens to be the release day of DREAMTREADERS, the first book in his new series. One of the things we’re requesting is if you want to purchase his book, please consider buying it today on Amazon.

Here’s some info from Wayne about The Blitz, a contest he’s running on his blog here: www.enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com.
Here's the Amazon link for Dreamtreaders: http://is.gd/gONxPf

And now, for that author interview, where Wayne accidentally…I mean, on purpose…reveals all his writing secrets including how he came up with the concept for his new series, PLUS tips for writing Middle Grade stories.

RSM: I love the concept for Dreamtreaders! I also read the sample chapters online and it looks fantastic. How did you come up with the idea for this series and how long did it take you to write the first book?

WAYNE: Thank you kindly, Merrie. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the sample chapter. The idea for the Dreamtreaders Series came from a little video I happened upon while surfing. The subject was Dream Science. I’ve always had vivid dreams, so I thought the video was pretty compelling. I had heard of Lucid Dreaming before, but not with the kind of detail presented in the video. Within minutes of watching the video, the entire plot of Dreamtreaders Book 1 popped into my head. I started thinking: What if there was a greater purpose for dreams? What if there was more danger involved with dreams than we ever thought possible? It was really kind of on a whim that I wrote up a brief proposal. I really didn’t think anything would come off it, but Thomas Nelson / Harper Collins loved the concept right away.

The first book took me about 3 months to write. I already had an outline, so I shot through pretty quickly. Thankfully, I had great editors like Steele Filipek and Amy Kerr to help me bring the story up to its full potential.

RSM: What do you think is the difference between writing for a Middle Grade audience, versus either a Young Adult or an Adult audience? What tips would you recommend for our blog readers who want to write for Middle Grade?

WAYNE: For me, there’s not much difference between Middle Grade / Young Adult readers. You can’t underestimate either. Kids are incredibly perceptive. You really need to honor that in your stories. Writing for adults is a whole different ballgame. Adults like the thrills, adventure, and creativity just as much as YA readers, but adults demand a level of sophistication that is different. You need to weave in layers of inference so that adults can figure things out on their own. You need to be more subtle too. If you have themes you are interested in, go for it, but hint at it, don’t drown them. 

Tips for Middle Grade Readers:

1) Make sure you HOOK them early. I mean first sentence, first paragraph, first page, first chapter. Make sure you have some very cool unusual events going on right away. While kids are perceptive, they also are kind of quick to assess the interest level of the material. If it’s a yawner up front, they will drop it like rotten tuna sandwich.

2) Don’t forget the power of humor. Middle Grade books can be so heavy handed. Dogs dying, people getting diseases, concentration camps, government takeovers, dystopia! EEK, run! You’ve got to lighten up here and there. I teach middle school, and my students literally ask me sometimes: “Why are these books so depressing?” Not my books, mind. I always lighten the mood with humor. It really helps.

RSM: Those are great tips! Thanks, Wayne. I’ve always found outlining for one book hard enough. How do you outline for a series?

WAYNE: When outlining for a series, you need to use broad strokes. In other words, capture the headlines of each book. What are the major things you expect to happen in each book? How can you have a beginning, middle, and legit end for each story while maintaining a “greater story” for the series? Once you have the broad strokes, you can then paint in the details when you approach each book for a manuscript pass.

RSM: I think it's great that you're working with Thomas Nelson again, this time on the Dreamtreaders series—TN is an amazing publishing house! But I've noticed you also have some self-published projects. Some are short stories, like The Blackwood, and some are full length novels, like The Tide of Unmaking (co-authored by Christopher Hopper) and Ghost. How and when do you decide to self-publish projects?

WAYNE: There are several variables that I consider to determine the direction of publishing: traditional path or self publishing. 1) Is there publisher interest?  2) If yes, then what are the terms? Is the royalty /advance good enough?  3) Is the concept I have in mind appropriate for one of the publisher’s age categories?

If all the answers to the above are yes, then I might go traditional. If any of the answers are no, then I’ll likely self pub. Another deal breaker with traditional publishing is creative control. If the publisher won’t allow me to take the story where it needs to go, then I might do it myself. My Dark Sea series, for example, deals with themes TN didn’t want to touch, so I went somewhere else.  Then, the market changed and ebooks put such a dent in print sales that I ended up getting back the rights. I plan to completely repackage and self-publish the seven book Dark Sea Annals series.

I like to keep a foot in every market possible. Diversification isn’t just for stock portfolios. Print publishers still rule a huge market. Why not be a part of it? 

RSM: I completely agree about diversification. In fact, most authors I know are doing both traditional and self-publishing. Is Spearhead Books your own imprint? Can you tell me a little about the decision to create that publishing company and what your goals are?

WAYNE: Spearhead Books is a joint project from The Miller Brothers, Christopher Hopper, and me. We aren’t a publisher per se, but we are creating a brand for Christian readers to be able to trust. With self-publishing growing like it is, we wanted to create a one-stop shop for trustworthy, positive fiction. 

RSM: It sounds like an awesome joint project and our blog readers can check out Spearhead Books HERE. You have an impressive selection of books! Thank you very much for answering all of my questions, Wayne! 

WAYNE: You’re welcome. Always good to connect, Merrie. Thank you for the opportunity.

If you want to learn more about Wayne’s books, check out: Enter The Door Within, Heed the Prophecies, and Sword in the Stars.

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