Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Michael Allen

Michael Allen is my guest today.

Hi, Michael! I’d be fascinated to know more about you.
Hello, Susan. Thanks.
Tell us about your books and give us a short synopsis of each one.

My first book was by contract with John Gordon Burke Publishing. I wrote it in 2001 and it was about new urbanism, the way they design cities around the pedestrian.  The most famous case of this would be Seaside, Florida where The Truman Show was filmed starring Jim Carrey. That book has yet to make it to print, but it was my first attempt at getting into this rodeo.

As a ghostwriter, I have been hired to write about twenty books ranging from a Sci Fi about altering space and time to a Christian Novel about two sisters who learn to fight demons in the spiritual world.  Further works have included writing a book for an NFL football player who was hurt in the 2006 season as well as the story of a lady who was discriminated against at her job, one of America’s largest corporations.  I always seem to find the most interesting projects and it’s been a great way for me to cut my teeth.

Despite all the work that I do for others, I have managed to publish two books of my own. One is called A Danger to Society, which is a true crime comedy about a man who becomes the victim of a case of mistaken identity. The other is a children’s book called When You Miss Me, a heartwarming message for children who are missing a parent for one reason or another.

What are your writing goals?
I have plenty of aspirations including getting one of my screenplays on the big screen.  My first screenplay was written in 2005, I believe, when I was trying to get an internship at Walt Disney Studios.  I have since written a screenplay that spoofs a top crime investigation television series.  But a few years ago, I was contacted by a producer who wanted me to write a screenplay about an assassin who falls in love with his mark’s daughter.  Then another producer approached me about his screenplay idea that tells the story of a neglected boy who finds a friend in the most awkward of situations.
Patiently waiting, I would love to see any of those works on the big screen.  I want to continue to write novels though.  There is nothing like getting behind the wheel of a story and taking it down roads that explore human depth and understanding, how humorous of a story I can pitch my characters and how interesting I can make their lives.  I have a daughter series of books that I would eventually like to complete.  Each story stands alone and deals with the bond between a father and a daughter, they just do it in such radically different ways.
However, the next novel I put out will be about a man who gets stabbed and gets arrested for it.  It’s a true story, but the setting is going to be in a town that doesn’t exist and the characters in the story are not going to actually exist.  I don’t want to venture anywhere near a defamation of character lawsuit.  So, I’ll keep it in the fiction category although every detail of the story is as true as it gets.
What is your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

I have taken the beginning of a story or an idea for a story and just started with absolutely no clue which way it was going to go.  When the light bulb comes on, that’s when I am most rewarded.  It’s as if I get to be the reader who enjoys the discovery having no idea what the story was about.  At that point, I just can’t wait to finish it and get it in someone’s hand for them to enjoy.
Tell us about your latest release, Michael.
When You Miss Me is a children’s book I just put out for children who are missing a parent.  When parents go through separation or divorce, the child gets passed back and forth between them.  That means there are moments when they miss a parent so much, it can be a very unbearable time.
Not only children of separation and divorce, but children in military families miss their parents as well. When a loved one is off serving their country far away from home, it can be a tough time for a child.  The message is universal and all children can appreciate it.
I wrote the book originally for my daughter when she was younger. I drew the illustrations myself and wrote her a little message.  When I saw her reaction to the book, I knew I had come up with a great idea.  Recently, it dawned on me that it might be beneficial to release the book so other children in similar circumstances could learn the message as well.
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

When You Miss Me is out in print and on Kindle at 

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others?
My first book was challenging because it seemed like such an undertaking.  I added sentence after sentence, then paragraph after paragraph until I looked back and realized I wasn’t making any sense.
I wanted to be a writer so bad that I just started writing, without a story. I forced the words and it never amounted to anything.  Then one day, a great story finally hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the easiest thing to do to put it into words and I’ve been doing that ever since. 
The difference is that now I have plenty of stories going through my mind.  I know what makes a good story and I know how to tell one now. Some gate opened up somewhere and, knock on wood, it keeps flowing with newer and greater ideas than ones I’ve had previously. But now I know what my stories are about and I love writing them with that same sense of discovery the way readers do as they turn page after page.
We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?
My online promotion efforts change with each book just like my offline promotion efforts change.  For A Danger to Society, I built a website and started promoting it on my profile.  That was before the era of Myspace, now Facebook and Twitter rule the information highway.
So, I’ve adapted over the years.  For When You Miss Me, I’m contacting organizations about fundraising ideas.  If my book fits with their message, I’ll contact them and tell them about the opportunity to raise funds by displaying my book on their site.  I also write articles and publish them where readers love to find new content.  I keep the range of topics within the scope of the book so that within a few articles, you know whether or not you want to read it.
Offline, I set up book signings for A Danger to Society and I did some special radio spots.  But with When You Miss Me, I’m going to be doing a whole lot more than that.  I will be doing book signings and library readings. I have a few special visits that I’m going to make along the way to certain types of stores where my book might fit the theme of the store even though it’s not particularly a bookstore.  I will even be giving out bookmarks in bookstores so that readers have a chance to notice my book.
One thing is for sure and I have said this before, book promotion isn’t about doing one simple thing.  It’s about doing at least a few things a day to catch the reader’s attention.  Each little bit counts.  It’s like starting your beach off with a few grains of sand.  Add to it every day and soon, your readers will be playing volleyball there.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?     

I have an Author’s Page on Amazon.  Plus, I have my own book page too that talks about my books and links directly to their specific pages where anyone can learn more about them. As I schedule events, I’ll be sure to keep both of those pages updated.
Thank you Susan!  I appreciated stopping by and being given the chance to talk about my work.  I hope we can do it again sometime when I have something new for your readers to enjoy!

Absolutely. Keep in touch, Michael, and continued success!