Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Writing Journey And Lessons Learned

My guest is debut suspense author, Stephen Tremp.

I always enjoy learning about different authors’ journey to publication. We all learn lessons along the way of any career choice. When we apply them, it increases our chances at being successful. No matter what career we’ve chosen, it always involves the ambition succeed, a willingness to work hard, and self-discipline to stay on the course we’ve chosen and make the necessary changes for success. The journey is rarely an easy road to travel but it is worth the time and effort involved.

I didn't always want to be a writer.

From my childhood through teen years I wanted to be an artist. I could draw and paint just about anything; still shots of an old barn back dropped against a harvested field or actions scenes of heroes and villains locked in mortal combat. A lady friend wanted to write children’s stories and mentioned I would be an excellent illustrator. It was only after reading her drafts a transformation began inside of me. I decided what I really wanted to do was write. My journey began. Poems, short stories, and finally a novel that soon turned into the Breakthrough trilogy.

As I began writing every day, I hit the proverbial Writers Block. "Writers Block is when the voices in your head stop talking to you". I found two techniques helpful to overcome this obstacle.

First, I run “What if …” scenarios though my mind. These two words have inspired writers and poets to pen masterpieces that are now considered literary classics. I have taken this same premise and developed a trilogy. What if there has been a breakthrough in some of these scientific theoretical theories (what physicists believe may be true but cannot be verified in the lab). What if the discovery has been stolen and used to kill innocent people. What if a hero needs to rise up and put an end to technology gone too far before he is killed?

Also, here's a little exercise I do too. I ask myself a question, "What would I be if I could be anything other than a writer?" I would be a tour guide at a reknown museum like the New York Metropolitan, the Louvre Museum in Paris, or the British Museum. I would love to talk to people all day about art, history, and culture.

Okay, now what can I do with this?

There have been great books and movies with a museum as a setting. Dan Brown's Angels and Demons begins and ends in a museum. The Thomas Crown affair with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo was a very good movie about a rich and successful playboy who amuses himself by stealing artwork. Loved Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller.
So now the gerbil in my head is once again running inside the wheel and I'm thinking again. I can sit down and begin writing something, even if its just a chapter.

As with all authors, I've had my disasters and thrills.  One of my thrills was last year at Mission Viejo Reader’s Festival (Mission Viejo, CA), I had the pleasure of meeting readers, signing my books and I met some very interesting people. Later in the day, Dean Koontz was to speak. I was there, not just to hear him speak, but to meet him afterwards, have him sign a book, give him a copy of Breakthrough, and take a picture with him. I was four for four, hitting for the cycle. This is definitely one of the high lights of my young writing career.

I don’t know if he will keep my book, let alone read it. I would imagine he receives manuscripts and books every day in the mail from his fans. But who knows, maybe after one of his 80-100 hour workweeks, spending time with his family, and taking care of business, he’ll find time to read and enjoy Breakthrough.

I've learn a lot in my writer's journey and one of the most important things is having the support of your family. I would like to thank my wife and family for supporting me during these past three years of researching, writing, and promoting BREAKTHROUGH. Often, all they see of me is the back of my head as I’m writing. But I always allow them to interrupt. I never tell them, “I’m busy.” I’ll take a few moments, answer a question, solve a problem, or ask them to let me find a breaking point, and then they can have my undivided attention.
  • What have you learned in your writing journey? Or if you're not a writer, in your career's journey?
Sia, thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger. And thanks to everyone stopping by. It’s been a pleasure meeting you all.

Breakthrough blurb:

A scientific breakthrough of such magnitude it could radically alter the future of humanity—for better or worse—is in the wrong hands~ * ~ * ~

The Information Age is moving at breakneck speed. Breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming part of our everyday life.

A group of graduate students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has stolen a breakthrough in opening and stabilizing Einstein-Rosen Bridges, commonly known as wormholes., that allows them to instantly transport people from one location to another. Their goal is to assassinate any powerful politician and executive controlling the world’s banking system that would use this technology for their own greedy gain rather than the advancement of mankind.

In south Orange County, California, young Chase Manhattan, part of a new breed of modern-day discovery seekers, seeks to leave behind his life of danger and adventure and settle down as an associate professor of physics at University of California-Irvine. He also desires to build a lasting relationship with a beautiful woman he has not seen since high school.

His idyllic plan is postponed when he soon uncovers the diabolical scheme on the other side of the country. He realizes he is the one person who can prevent more murders from happening and either control or destroy the technology. Once the M.I.T. group understands Chase and his friends have the ability and motivation to not only take the technology from them, but also thwart more killings, Chase finds himself in their crosshairs, the top-of-the-list target on their assassination agenda.

As the death toll mounts, Chase and his friends must battle this group of misled zealots from M.I.T. on both coasts and in cyberspace in a thrilling, desperate race to determine the outcome of this monumental, once in a millenium discovery that will drastically change life as we know it—for better or worse. You can purchase Breakthrough as soft bound or e-book here

Stephen has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. He is currently completing his doctorate program in business administration.

Stephen spent over ten years in consumer finance for some of the largest companies in the industry, holding numerous management positions. After many years of writing short stories and poems, Stephen has taken the last two years to fulfill his lifelong passion: write and publish Breakthrough.

He has four more suspense thrillers to follow.


~Sia McKye~ said...


I lost power around 10pm last night and the internet. I just NOW got back on line.

Stephen, welcome to Over Coffee. I do have some Baileys to add to your coffee if you like.

VA said...

Excellent, Sia. Top mine off.

Having met many a brass rat who thinks they rule the world, the megalomaniac status of MIT isn't the far-fetched. Plus, physics is always fun.

What have I learned? Life is persistence. The ability to be the hamster that can find a way through the maze, backtrack, jump walls, whatever it takes to get where you want to go.

Best of luck with the PR for Breakthrough, off to ferret around for the excerpt.

Laura Eno said...

Great post, Stephen, and best of luck with Breakthrough! The premise is awesome!

Mason Canyon said...

Enjoyed your post Stephen. It's interesting to learn you thought about being a book illustrator first. You didn't mention if you did the illustrations for your friend or not. Best of luck with BREAKTHROUGH.

Sia, sorry to hear about your power. Hope all is well. Another great interview.

Thoughts in Progress

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, I thought it was Pinky and the Brain who wanted to rule the world, lol!

I agree, persistence is an important lesson to learn.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thanks Mason.

As for the internet, one of the less than lovely aspects of living beyond the back 40, lol! Our tower always seems to develope hic-ups.

Stephen Tremp said...

Sia, thanks for having me over today. Great lead in. As you stated, the journey is rarely an easy road to travel. But with ambition, willingness to work, and disciple, a writer can help fulfill their dreams and better position themselves to be successful.

Another analogy I use is navigating unchartered waters. Unforseen dangers lurk in places we least suspect. But if we can manager our ways through these storms, calm seas and blue skies await to reward the overcomer who perserveres.

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

It’s interesting to hear how you made the transition over to writer.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Post is up on the right day, Sia - that's what matters.
Cool that you got to meet Koontz. Yeah, I imagine he has a whole library full of books given to him over the years. But you never know, he just might pull your book off the shelf one day!

Stephen Tremp said...

VA, "Having met many a brass rat who thinks they rule the world, the megalomaniac status of MIT isn't the far-fetched."

That's great! These six MIT grad students are just that. They are talented. They're much smarter than most people. Make no mistake about that. They are like the new brat pack with brains, resources, and a cocky arrogance that allows them to take risks most people wuld not. And I agree, physics is fun.

Laura, thanks for the support. I have to admit the premise is pretty darn cool. That's why I took a couple years off to write it.

Mason, art is still my second love and I do sketch scenes while writing. It helps to visulaize fight scenes and such. And I never did any illustrations, although I am planning a childrens series to teach kids about science and have a lot of fun doing it too. I may illustrate this.

Holly, thanks. I always like to ask people what they did before they started writing.

Carol Kilgore said...

I really enjoyed learning all this about you.

Helen Ginger said...

I like your What If? technique. That's easy to do and it clearly works.

The cover for Breakthrough is very eye-catching. Did you have a say or a hand in it?


N. R. Williams said...

You seem to have tackled a difficult balancing act between writing, promoting and family. Good luck with Breakthrough and really cool about Koontz.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I like your ideas for getting rid of writer’s block. The methods seem like they can get the WIP moving again as well provide material for new story ideas.

Stephen Tremp said...

Alex, Koontz and I are bout in south Orange County so who knows. Maybe we'll bump into each other at a Starbucks. Or I can send a wormhole his way and force him to read Breakthrough.

Carol, thanks for stopping by.

Helen, my nephew designed the cover. I'll ask him about making a 60 second trailer too as he does exceptional work.

N.R., Whew! Its a tough balancing act to say the least. But one must be adept and fluent in these areas or you can easily be sideswiped and never see it coming.

Ann Best said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Best said...

Thanks, Sia, for guesting Stephen. (I removed the comment above because I made a couple of stupid errors; I have a bad cold that's fogging my brain!!)

Stephen: "What if" is probably the best technique to use with any subject we're writing about. And thanks for your recent comments on my blog. It so happens that I've recently come into some extra money, quite a bit, and can now buy some of the books by bloggers I've been wanting to read. And I love thrillers. And so....I'm heading back to that stunning book cover on your blog!! I love all kinds of thrillers.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Sia, you asked such insightful questions. Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting. It means a lot to a lonely soul.

Stephen, it was great to learn more about you. Your books sounds like it will be riveting. Rats, the phone rang, and I have a blood run to make, Roland

Conda V. Douglas said...

Sia and Stephen, always enjoy both your blogs, great to see you together in one!

Stephen Tremp said...

Jane, this is a great way to get new material. My "Junkyard" is full of spare parts from using this exercise.

Ann, thanks for your interest. I'm confident you won't be disappointed.

Roland, good luck with that blood run. Hmmm .... I'm getting an idea for a new story line.

Conda, its great to team up with other bloggers. Sia has a geat blog. I need to do this more often.

Lynda Young said...

It's amazing how many writers are also artists in some form. I guess it's because writing is such a visual exercise. The book sounds great :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Ann, Oh, I hope you're feeling better soon. there is some nasty, nasty stuff going around. No worries on using the *trashcan* that's what it's there for, lolol!

I'm firmly in the *what if...* camp. It's helped me out of some tight spots or found a hole in the wall I hit.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Roland, it was my pleasure. I like finding blogs I haven't read. I learn a lot that way. I just wish I had more time to peruse more blogs.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Conda, it's great to see you. I enjoyed your last post and read it going, amen sister.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephen, wormholes can be dangerous, lolol!

Your nephew does good work. Do let me know when you have your trailer. It will be fun to see his imagination at work.

You mentioned you're considering an illustrated book of science for young ones. Is this a text book for elementary kids you're thinking of or a book of fun shorts around science?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. good to meet you and catch up on some more of Stephen's background to his Breakthrough. Talented chap?!

Great that you've made the decision to write and get on with it .. while you've obviously got a great family relationship .. which is wonderful - supportive and loving.

Love these kind of stories .. and will get the book in the near future .. keeps tempting me in! I'm just not sure I want to read it as an ebook .. something will pan out shortly .. great to be here Sia .. and thank you both for an excellent post .. Hilary

Clarissa Draper said...

Those are great ways to break out of writer's block. I hope that Dean reads your book. Wouldn't that just make your day!? Great interview.


Susanne Drazic said...

Great interview. I hope Dean Koontz reads your book.

Stephen Tremp said...

Lynda, I've noticed the same thing, writing and art seem to be twin gifts. Not sure why. But it does help to be able to skectch certain scenes I am writing.

Sia, I'm working through a series of fun shorts. I get asked often if I'm writing a science or physics txt book. Not sure why as I'm a fiction writer only. I don't think I have the abilitites to write a text book.

Hilary, thanks for your support. I can see from your blogs you are a very intelligent person and I'm sure you'll enjoy Breakthrough. Its well researched and presented in latman's terms (of which I am one).

Clarissa, that would be a real hoot if Dean read my book. Maybe stop by my blog and leave a comment too LOL!

Slamdunk said...

Nicely done. That will make a great update post if you hear that Mr. Kootnz does read some of your work.

Terry Stonecrop said...

I popped by from Stephen's blog to read this post. Good advice and so cool you met Koonz, Stephen.

Sia, you have a lovely blog. And I love a sense of humor and a woman who raises hell as well as horses! The cowboy in black didn't hurt my eyes none, either:)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lolol, yah, he didn't hurt mine either. I'm glad you stopped by Terry. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephen, it's been a pleasure having you visit with us Over Coffee. I wish you the very best with your new novel.

It was also lovely to meet new ones that have stopped by. I hope to get around and say hi as I can.

Stephen Tremp said...

Susanne, thanks for stopping by.

Slamdunk, I hope Dean reads my book too. What a hoot that would be.

Terry, meeting Dean was real cool. He's a real affable guy who takes time to meet his fans and spend a minute or two talking with them.

Sia, thanks for having me. Its been a pleasure guest posting and hopefully we can do it again!

arlee bird said...

I really enjoy getting these wonderful insights gain from the experience of others.

Similar to what was said here, I've learned that there is always a network of support available to me succeed in what I'm trying to do. Hopefully, it starts with family and friends, but it also extends to business assoiciates, customers, fans, and even other bloggers. It's out there and it's up to me to locate it and take advantage of the help they can give me, while never losing sight that there is some give and take involved.

Good informational post.

Tossing It Out