Today I have the pleasure to welcome Indie author Robert to my site, following the successful conclusion of the fund-raising Indies Unite for Joshua, initiated by our mutual friend Eden Baylee and supported by many fellow indie authors and artists all over the world. Both Robert and I have donated to this worthy cause, and we are delighted with the outcome, with the total donations over $10K, surpassing its original goal.
Robert, can you please tell us something unique about yourself?
Travelling the road to my current status of working from home as a fiction author/small business owner has been quite the journey.
I had to have quite an assortment of jobs throughout my working career in order to finally figure out that I was meant to be a novelist and independent small business owner. I’ve flipped burgers (You want fries with that?); worked as a office clerk at a major chemical plant ($5.50 per hour when minimum wage was $4.15 wasn’t too bad for a high school student); worked as a tour operations assistant at a birding tour/travel agency (You’d be amazed on how much people will pay to see a specific bird in wild); I’ve been a banker; a human resources administrator at a 24/7 customer service call center with 800 employees; an obituaries coordinator / funeral home advertising sales rep at the local newspaper; and now I’m enjoying the self-employed life as a novelist and small business owner.
My work schedule changes from one day to the next and makes it hard to fit in social events sometimes, but it keeps things very diverse and interesting. One day I may be putting together PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and various documents for a small business client, then I’ll be transcribing for another, and the next day I may be driving a hearse for a local funeral home. Heck, one day last week I did some transcribing, put together a PowerPoint presentation, and assisted a funeral director with a “house call” all in the same evening. The next day I drove a hearse in the morning for a funeral home, did some bookkeeping in the afternoon for my business, and drove a limousine for a graduation that evening.
Whoa, that does sound a very diverse and hectic schedule to me
I never know what my day is going to be like. It certainly makes things interesting. Sometimes it can be very hectic, but then there are times where I have a week (or even two) with barely any work at all. Those are the days I try to get as much writing (and leisure time) in as I can.
Who, living or dead, do you most admire?
The person I most admire is my mother. She is the hardest working and adaptable person I have ever known. You see Mom never graduated from high school and still managed to enjoy a career, a successful career in banking and even attempted restaurant ownership with my dad at one point. Unfortunately, the restaurant failed after two years and both my parents ended up unemployed for a while. That didn’t stop Mom, though. She took a part-time job at a mall department store for minimum wage and then eventually got back into banking for several years… until the owners sold out to a national bank and everyone in that branch lost their jobs. So, it was either transfer to another city or hit the unemployment line again. Mom didn’t want to move, so she drew unemployment (again) and applied for work at a temp agency. She landing a temp job in the administrative office of a major company in the oil and gas industry and impressed her employer enough for them to create a position for her and offer her a permanent full-time job. She’s been with the company for almost 15 years now and will be retiring in the next few years. She is also now a real estate investor with plans to utilize that business for income when she retires.
I could probably write a book just about Mom. She has had a lot of ups and downs, but she has always pulled through and come out even better in the end.
Yes, I think it’s a great idea to write a book about your mum’s life.
Mom would kill me if I actually did that! However, I could always sneak her in as a character in a future book and she would never know the difference. Okay, she probably would, but I would just deny it and claim it as mere coincidence.
On that note, can you please tell us what inspired you to write your latest book?
When I decided to write Pursuit of a Dream I was in between jobs. I had always wanted to write a novel and figured I would take advantage of the extra time on my hands with my unemployment and finally work towards accomplishing the task of completing and publishing my first novel. Writing for a living is my (and many other authors’) ultimate dream, which is kind of what influenced the content of my first book. My own dream of becoming a published author with the goal of writing full-time is similar to Caleb Lockhardt’s dream of living his dream of becoming a professional stock car driver and competing in the upper ranks of NASCAR. So, with my own dreams, ambitions, and love of auto racing, Victory Lane: The Chronicles was born, with Pursuit of a Dream becoming the first of three planned books.
Gosh, that sounds familiar You’re right – many authors dream of making a full-time career out of writing, but not that many actually do.
While writing fulltime would be the ultimate dream job for me, I think I would be just as content with having a handful of people enjoying my stories. I try not to focus on royalties and sales. Instead, my love of crafting stories is what keeps me writing. Nothing more, nothing less.
Tell us about your favourite book/author and if they influence your writing, and how?
My favorite book is On Writing by Stephen King and is the main reason I decided to seriously start focussing on writing in the first place. I enjoyed learning more about my favorite author and how he became successful in the industry. He has some very entertaining stories from his childhood and I love his no B.S. approach to giving advice on writing. I recommend that every serious author read this book.
That’s cool! I have read On Writing too, and found it quite inspiring!
I’ll probably read it again soon just for another boost of inspiration.
Do you have a routine for writing? How long does it take you to complete your current book?
Pursuit of a Dream took me about two years to complete, which totalled 488 pages in print and about 155,000 words. I don’t have any set routine for writing, although I usually write in the late afternoon or late in the evening. I am, however, trying to be a bit more disciplined in my writing schedule. So far, it’s pretty sporadic.
While Pursuit of a Dream took over two years to complete (including eBook conversion), my goal is to have my next book tentatively titled The Devil’s Nightmare completed this year. I began writing my first horror/mystery on January 1 of this year as part of a #WIP500 challenge that my friend Cara Michaels organized. The #WIP500 challenge is to write at least 500 words every day with a total year-end goal of 183,000 words. While I haven’t been completely faithful to the 500 word-per-day aspect of the challenge, it has definitely kept me on track with my writing. So far, I have managed to craft over 82,000 words in the first draft of my WIP, which will probably be end up around the 100,000 mark when I’m finished.
Well done, Robert. Keep it up!
Thanks, Junying! After I finish The Devil’s Nightmare I plan on beginning the first draft of Book 2 in Victory Lane: The Chronicles, hopefully by the end of the summer.
What do you do when you’re not writing? What’s your favourite pastime?
I was born a gamer. When I’m not writing or trying to pay the bills with work, I’m usually kicking back in front of my television playing video games on my Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 with my friends online. I also have a collection of vintage video games including a 30-year-old Intellivision video game system that still works. When feeling old school, I’ll hook up the old Intellivision and play some of my childhood favorites... and then quickly realize that the games seemed a lot easier when I was a kid (not to mention laugh at the dated graphics).
I can just about picture that, although I don’t play games myself. Bet it’s fun!
While I enjoy storming the battlefield like a crazed lunatic, I particularly like the games that are more slow-paced and have a well-written story. The mindless shooters are fun, but the games that have more of a cinematic feel (and where my decisions can affect the outcome of the story) are the games I enjoy the most.
Do you use Social Media for promoting your work and communicating with other writers? What’s your take on it?
I mainly use Twitter to promote my work and communicate with other writers. I have made a lot of friends on Twitter and enjoy helping others promote their work also. I think social media is a decent way to advertise as long as you are careful with how you do it. I know several authors who have been quite successful by using social media to promote their books. On that note, no one wants to see only “Buy my book” tweets filling their stream, so I do my best to limit those types of tweets to maybe one per hour (and usually no more than about eight to ten per day. I’m a very sociable person, so I actually do make a point to socialize with my peers on Twitter.
I have learned so much from other writers that I have met on Twitter and have actually built some great friendships with many of them. I also found a couple of my current gaming buddies (who also happen to be writers) on Twitter. I use Facebook and Google Plus too, but if you want to chat with me on a social media platform, your best bet is to hook up with me on Twitter.
Oh yes, Twitter I know exactly what you mean about some people ‘spamming’ twitter with products they want to promote. I must admit that my chosen ‘vice’ is Facebook, where I spend far too much time, socialising, with occasional promo, I hasten to add
Ha ha! When the subject comes up I like to joke with people that I am a member of Twitter Addicts Anonymous. We meet every Tuesday evening… on Twitter.
Do your characters talk to you?
I tend to talk to myself… oh, wait. Did I say that out loud? Seriously, though, I think my characters do “talk” to me in a sense, but not in the creepy “The Dark Half” kind of way. When I’m in the zone and crafting a scene in my WIP I pretty much let my characters take over. I’m not a micro managing type of writer that outlines every detail of the story and forces my characters to do exactly what I planned for them to do and say. Besides, when I try that, I end up losing that battle anyway. Instead, I like to let my characters roam free and see where they end up taking the scene. I find it very enjoyable to start writing and have absolutely no idea what is going to happen (within reason, of course). This sometimes ends up with me having to pull the reins back and do some rewriting, but that’s half the fun.
As someone who regularly conducts ‘conversations’ with her characters, I know where you’re coming from .
Only other authors truly appreciate it when we talk about conversing with our characters. The rest of our peers give us weird looks and try to keep their distance.
Have you ever used people you know as a character?
Definitely! I think most of my characters have a little bit of me in them, but I have a few characters that are modelled after people that I have known in my life. My favorite characters are the ones that are loosely based on people that I particularly don’t like. I wouldn’t call them enemies per se, but let’s just say I would not go out of my way to save them in an ‘end of the world’ scenario.
If you could go anywhere in the world to write your book where would it be?
Wow! That’s a great question. I watched a documentary once on the Travel Channel about people who purchased beautiful luxury suites on a private cruise ship that travelled around the world, and I thought, “I would love to be able to live like that.” So, if I could go anywhere in the world to write, I think I would probably want to write from the deck of one of those private cruise ship suites. I think that would be the perfect writer’s den.
Wow, that definitely fits in with my own ultimate dream location! Robert, you’re giving me ideas
Great! When we both have our luxury floating suites we can then share drinks with all the other authors living on the ship after a successful day of writing (and social media bar hopping).
Finally a challenge: describe your latest novel within 140 characters, as in a tweet.
Pursuit of a Dream is a wholesome family story about a boy’s dream of becoming a professional race car driver.
Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is author of Victory Lane: The Chronicles. The first book in the trilogy, Pursuit of a Dream, was published by AuthorHouse in 2004; the revised e-Book edition was released for the Kindle on September 10, 2011 and is now available on Nook and in other formats.
Pruneda operates an administrative support business from home and has also worked as an obituaries coordinator and advertising sales consultant at the local newspaper in his home town.
Pruneda has recently taken up writing fiction again and is currently working on a horror/mystery tentatively titled The Devil’s Nightmare. He is very active in social media, mainly via Twitter, and enjoys connecting with other writers and helping to promote their work.
Pursue your dreams… and never look back!