“Right now “Kick” has 65 reviews on Amazon, and a 4.7 star rating out of 5. When I first published, I’d hoped people would like the book, but I never expected the reaction I’ve gotten. I had a top 500 Hall of Fame Vine Voice reviewer say it was “one of the more entertaining and unique books” he’d read that year. Another Vine Voice reviewer also gave me a great review, and multiple reviewers made statements requesting a sequel. Over on Goodreads, I have a 4.3 rating (43 ratings/16 reviews), which is pretty good for Goodreads. I’m hugely flattered.” John L. Monk
I know I’ve whetted your appetite for this for far too long! Here it is folks,
John L. Monk rocks the house with our very first Loganesque interview.
*cue music as John enters*
So John, are you as stoked about this interview as I am?
John: Uh huh…
I’ll take that as a WAHOO!
I know you want to talk about your book Kick and we’ll get to that in a minute, but first relax man, have a seat, a drink, and tell us a little about your real life self. What cooks your noodle? Aka, what do like to do for fun, maybe tell us if you live in any special place, treehouse…what have you.
John: If I had to describe my hypothetical perfect day, it’d be coffee at 8:30am, reading 10 or so 5 star reviews on Amazon, going “wow” at the 300 or so purchases since last night, then opening my email to find notes from my author friends asking me “what’s your secret?!” Then I’d sit down and do some writing—and it’d all flow out of me like water! My wife would make me breakfast at some point (in a perfect world…), she’d feed the dogs, she’d walk the dogs, she’d yell into the room at some point, “hey you got 10 more 5 star reviews!” to which I’d reply, “Uh, yeah…kinda late, huh? Pssht…” Around Noon-thirty I’d take a nap, then wake up for more coffee and a few more emails, then I’d write some more, then play some video games, then maybe grill something outside. In other words, everything I do on Saturday, minus the reviews, sales, wife-made breakfast, and Noon-thirty nap. Man I’m boring, huh?
So what you are saying is that you want my life? *blinks*
We love your book Kick! But let me ask you a bit about your writing process. Yes, we want to know all about that too because lots of writers out there are just starting this gig and need to know what it takes. So, give us some info about how you come up with your ideas.
John: I get my best ideas usually right before I fall asleep. Then I have to get up, go downstairs and write them down or I absolutely will forget them. When I’m writing, I don’t normally get new ideas about plot changes. I just write out the events of the story as best I can (it’s usually awful), and occasionally I have little flashes of creativity that turn “awful” into “possibly fixable.” Generally, I re-read my chapters as a way of kick-starting my daily writing session, and I tweak it a little here and there, shape it. When I’m done with the first draft of the entire manuscript, I re-read it about 50000 times and cut/chop it into something hopefully better. My general philosophy is that every scene has to be interesting. If it’s not, I either fix it or nix it.
Kick-starting…? Get it? Had to point out that little pun to our readers…with a blow horn.
How do you get pumped for writing?
John: I’m very rarely pumped for writing. When I am, it’s usually after a really good movie or TV show like “Justified” where the writing is simply incredible. Good books do the same thing, but obviously they’re more of a time sink (and yet, you must dedicate time to reading good books if you want to succeed). I’m usually pumped when I first start something—the words come flying out of me. This is one of the reasons why some people have described “Kick” as episodic. It’s basically three consecutive “adventures” by the same character. Very easy to write because I got to write “something new” each time.
That’s actually quite a neat idea! An episodic market maybe?
Editing. What are a few must do’s for a writer in this portion of the craft?
John: I’m currently reading a book called “It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences” by June Casagrande. It’s dense, meticulous reading, but it’s absolutely brilliant. Before that, I read “How not to write a novel” by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. Before that, it was another book on grammar that Stephen King recommended. Before that it was a book on self-editing. I have a bunch of links on my blog to various sites that talk about editing. Whatever a writer can do to make sure their work is perfectly polished, they should. Can we break the rules? Sure, but it’s good to know the rules so that any breaking is our idea. Before I submit the sequel to “Kick” for professional editing (a must), I will re-read Casagrande’s book again, just to shore up my basics.
I think you summed that up quite nicely.
Okay, Kick it is! Go: (tell us about your awesome book!)
John: Kick is a vigilante story with a supernatural twist. It’s about Dan, a guy who commits suicide in college, who’s able to come back into the world of the living by possessing the bodies of bad people. He pops up in their body, in full control, and basically lives his life the way he pleases. He eats at restaurants, reads novels, goes to the movies, goes fishing, and when he’s not too busy, he helps people in need. After about 3 weeks, he’ll start to get kicked (kind of like a sneeze, without the tissues). Before he’s kicked completely out of the body, he makes sure his “ride” can’t hurt anyone. It’s a little like Dexter meets Quantum Leap.
If your book had a broadcast alert how would it finish? Beeeeeeep, beeeeep, beeeep, warning this book:
John: This book will make you hungry. I’m actually not kidding. The main character doesn’t have any friends, so he tends to focus on food for enjoyment. People always say, “enjoy the little things.” But for Dan, all he has is the little things.
Ok, now that I LIKE!
Any R rated parts of your book?
John: There’s bad language, but mostly by others, and not the main character. There’s gruesome murder and sexually suggestive (and dark) material, but nothing explicitly X-rated. I’m not into the “blow by blow” analysis, if you follow me…
Got it. Your answer is nearly R rated for my blog…if you follow me.
When I googled your book, it did come up first. However, there was another similar named book below it. Tell me, have you contacted them and asked them to change it?
John: Nope. There’s a book called “Kick” about a soccer player. That’s two different kinds of Kicks, which is allowed under the Geneva Convention. If it becomes an issue one day, I’ll deal with it then.
Let us know when you do! I have a new video camera.
What’s next? Besides being poised for stardom, I’d love to know what else we should expect to come our way.
John: Sometime in October I’ll be published in an anthology called “For Whom The Bell Trolls”. Other than that, I’m working on a sequel to “Kick”. I’m trying to limit any short story writing and/or excessive blogging until I’m done with the first draft, because it’s easy to get sidetracked.
Lady Gaga calls her fans “Little Monsters”, can we start calling your fans “Little Monksters”?
John: It’s funny, I had a blog post that talked about that. I wanted to call my fans “Lava Demons” but everyone thought “Monkeys” made more sense. I still like Lava Demons…just saying.
Monkeys it is!
Where is your blog?
Where can we buy your book?
Where can we show up unexpectedly with our luggage?
John: The airport! Hah, wasn’t that a clever answer? That’s the kind of clever you can expect if you buy my book. Except in my book, everything is even more clever. But to answer your question (less cleverly): I live in Virginia.
I think you monkeys know how to do your own stalking so…now you have a reference and state!
Thanks again, John! I know I enjoyed having you and wish you luck. Let us know when the second one comes out so we can question you again, even harder 😉
So that’s all, people. Check out John’s book and stay tuned as I hunt (cough) search out my next author to put on my trophy wall!
One of my first in depth declinations, I was told that my story was depressing and why would I think they’d want to publish that type of thing in their magazine?
This press is known for dark stories, but I suppose I had gone beyond dark and horror into the realm of sad.
But sad stories need love too!
The truth was I’d received about 20 rejections for “Vile” and a few others after my very first submission “Ever-after” was accepted right away…
Thinking it was all easy street after, euphoric, I told my family and friends, since this was the first piece outside of a competition to be published but then only later to be really REALLY unable to land much of anything else for a long-long while.
Then came “Snowed”, my first story in _UNHINGED_ . I wrote it and posted it in a small hothouse where we all reviewed eachother’s work and submitted. A writer on there, who I respected but who also hadn’t much to say about my stories, read this one and commented along the lines of “I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what happened!”
Being my first short story over 5000 words and hearing that someone “couldn’t stop reading” I suddenly knew what was more important than denials and lectures about depression, this exactly: People have to not want to stop reading.
SOOOOoooo you are thinking.. I submitted it and got right in?
And you would be right! Jussstt kidding.
I tried thriller since it’s a mix of horror/thriller and they decided thriller didn’t quite fit their magazine but the guy said to me “Hey btw, we all read it here and were on the edge of our seats.”
Again. That’s important. And even then I knew it. I knew that stringing a reader along would be far more important than publications even if I felt like my skin was pealing back a bit at the rawness of it all.
Though it still stung, I packed my baby away and have been editing the story off and on for about five years…until this debut that is ;)D
Readers are most important.
AND SO (drum roll please)
..with the release of my very first self-publication (a very special shout out to the people that helped below) (raises-glass) here is to the readers!
May we put them on the edge of their seats forever!
GET IT HERE FOR FREE >>>> UNHINGED NEW RELEASE
A very special thanks to a few people who helped make this possible!
Mike Coombes for helping me get started on my shorts and believing in me back in our hothouse days where I wrote most of these!
Alianne Donnelly for the cover and moral support of yet another side project!
Kimberly Grenfell for some super ninja edits!
J Matthew McKern for ARC and my first five stars!
And Jim Adams for a review I will NEVER forget that kicked me off with inspiration and a goal to make the next one even better!
“It is our wits that make us men.” Braveheart
I was supposed to get on here and rant about characterizations, or even tell one of my stories since I have a good one.. but.
I’m in one of those moods again.
When I started this whole gig I didn’t call myself a writer. Even after being published the few times, I only dabbled. The label “Author” brings to mind the likes of Stephen King and not yours truly so I stuck with mumbling, “I write sometimes, yeah, sorta, no big deal.” And I still do.
Often times, I look in the mirror and ask myself questions. What? I get the best advice from that chatterbox on the other side. She is smarmy but talks long enough that eventually she says something of value.
My question: Why do I do this?
If I am a barely there writerish person who is not serious about it all then why put the pen to pad?
My mirror gal sat up a little straighter, dipped her quill a few times and said, Why not?
Now don’t get all soft on me. I’m not one of those people who gets all emotional about my writing (sniff). But if I were… Here is what I would say.
(Blurry story time with music)
The younger Logan walks into a bar. She spots a muscular mail man across the room.. Wait, nope, that’s the other blog. (backspace backspace backspace) Ok this Logan, the younger version who’s penned a few stories. She doesn’t think much of them, but her drunken Aunt raves about her talent and offers to pose for her cover.
Let’s look at the list so far: One slasher story, one guy murdering prostitutes after having them pretend to be his dead wife, and oh yes, the druggies who abducted a little girl, and the druggies who are stuck in a cabin, a few other stories that are even weirder, more druggies. (titters and shoves old pages beneath her keyboard)
She’d posted one of these onto an old site Logan prowled in her early writing debut. Checked back every once in a while for reviews… or that is to say every three seconds until comments popped up.
DING! She got one on the hook! Hurrah and the comments go:
“Hey there, Logan. Loved this, so interesting blah blah blah”
Her reply: “Thanks! Hermperderb I’m so flattered, omgerd.”
And then he said this: “Its three am here in Bagdad…”
And then, right then, it dawned on me—not at all. I answered back some kind of “ok thanks” and moved on never knowing how that one review planted a little seed in my barely writerish mind.
Over the years I’ve spoken about this art to people from all over the world, even having to use a translator a few times. And it all didn’t hit me until recently.
When I put a story onto the page, and it goes from here (taps my head) and through my hands onto the keyboard, it fills up the empty space on that little blinky white page, and it floats away from me into the universe.
It looks so ordinary. I look so ordinary. Just me and my fingers tapping away like a fat little pigeon (Mama from the train reference there).
And it’s alive.
“Every man dies, not every man truly lives.” Braveheart
It stretches its little legs and runs. Sometimes a little closer to home than I’d like but no matter the story makes its own way in the world.
So this dude overseas, tired, hungry, maybe even in a bad mood and for one moment, just one single teeny bit of time, maybe just maybe, I could give him an escape. My story lit his place on the other side of the planet. Glowing like a beacon, Read me!
What if I could make him smile or cheer on my hero? What if I could make him intrigued so that his stress and cares melted.. even for a while, away.
What about a gal fresh off a divorce, funeral, tax appointment right around my block? What if one of my jokes made her giggle at my silly character or shake her head ruefully at their argument? What about the guy who had stroke or put his dog to sleep? What if he clicked on my story next and thought my character had such an uplifting outlook, a fighting spirit, that against all odds he or she could really put it to this thing called life and so, so could he.
I found out my words were like a handshake. They stretched like a long arm across the continent, the seas, and firmly pressed into the palms of a perfect stranger.
They said “How you doin?” Ok for real though some of our stories are more like twerking in their kitchen, but either way it’s you. YOU! Not here. THERE! And them. For a while. That reader is all yours.
If you reach them in the sick ward, in the throes of anxiety, depression, joy, exhaustion, hyper, young, old, white, black, green, and pink.
You. Are. Part. of their world. For a short time…
That’s not just writing folks.
That’s freaking Braveheart.