We are excited to introduce a new feature here at Writer’s Living: Writer’s Drive. The aim is to give you helpful insight, tips, and inspiration straight from other writers — in their own words through an interview. The writers we will feature will be diverse, but they all have one thing in common: They have something to share with you to help you along the way to getting more income, satisfaction, and success in your writing career.
First up is J.F. Penn, action-adventure thriller author and blogger.
Penn: The most unexpected thing was how it changed my life. That first book was on career change, a non-fiction book written out of my own necessity to change my career. I would never have thought it would free me up creatively to write fiction and also prove the catalyst for my journey online as a blogger and then as a professional speaker.
WL: What was the toughest or most difficult part of transitioning from writing nonfiction to your first novel?
Penn: There are so many new things to learn when you write fiction. From how to structure a scene, to dialogue, character development, plot and so much else you take for granted that you know as a reader. But the writing of fiction is much harder than you envisage. The story comes fast in your head but the words on the page are much slower.
WL: What is one thing you’d do differently in your writing career?
Penn: I wish I had started in my twenties when I felt the urge, instead of deciding it was frivolous and that I should focus on my business career. I’ve wanted to write a novel since I read “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco. I should have been writing all this time but it took me until the age of 35 to write my first novel. For anyone reading who is still waiting, just get on with it!
WL: What is the biggest mistake you made early in your writing career?
Penn: Printing several thousand of my first non-fiction book when I knew nothing about marketing and didn’t have a distribution deal. I didn’t know about print-on-demand at the time, so I thought having print books was my own avenue to sell. Most of them ended up in the landfill. The desire to save other people that financial and emotional pain was the catalyst for me to start my blog for writers http://www.TheCreativePenn.com
WL: What is the biggest mistake you see new writers making?
Penn: I don’t think there are any mistakes in writing itself, but sometimes people publish too early without considering a quality end product. It’s critical to use professional editing as well as design services for your book cover. These two things will ensure you provide a better experience for the reader, plus you’ll sell more books and your reputation as a writer will be safe.
WL: What are two ways new writers can use their words to earn income?
Penn: I love getting sales checks from Amazon and they come every month! I make more money from my fiction than from my non-fiction so definitely writing more books will lead to income.
I also now have a business based on my site, TheCreativePenn.com. It is based on having a blog with a lot of content which brings people to the site. Then I have multimedia courses that people can purchase on writing, publishing and book marketing, as well as international speaking events. Basically, my business income is entirely based on my writing and I am now a full-time author-entrepreneur, so earning income from your words is entirely possible. It just takes some time.
WL: Please tell us about Pentecost. How long did it take you to write it and what has been the response?
Penn: Here’s the back blurb for Pentecost, a fast-paced action-adventure thriller:
A power kept secret for 2000 years. A brotherhood broken by murder. A woman who stands to lose everything.
Forged in the fire and blood of martyrs, the Pentecost stones have been handed down through generations of Keepers who kept their power and locations secret.
The Keepers are being murdered, the stones stolen by those who would use them for evil in a world transformed by religious fundamentalism. Oxford University psychologist Morgan Sierra is forced into the search when her sister and niece are held hostage. She is joined by Jake Timber from the mysterious ARKANE, a secret British government agency.
From ancient sites in Spain, Italy and Israel to the far reaches of Iran and Tunisia, Morgan and Jake must track down the stones through the myths of the early church in a race against time before a new Pentecost is summoned, this time powered by the fires of evil.
Pentecost took about a year to write as I was working full-time. It has now sold over 35,000 copies and has a lot of great reviews, so I’m happy with it!
Prophecy, the second in the ARKANE series is also available now.
The prophecy in Revelation declares that a quarter of the world must die and now a shadowy organization has the ability to fulfill these words. Can one woman stop the abomination before it’s too late?
From the catacombs of Paris to the skeletal ossuaries of Sicily and the Czech Republic, Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber must find the Devil’s Bible and stop the curse being released into the world before one in four are destroyed in the coming holocaust.
Because in just seven days, the final curse will be spoken and the prophecy will be fulfilled.
WL: How can people get your books?
I am currently publishing in ebook only, although that may change in the future. You can get the books on Amazon Kindle and very soon on all the other ebook stores.
WL: What’s next for you?
I’m writing the third ARKANE book right now. It’s called Exodus and centers around the hunt for the Ark of the Covenant as the Middle East counts down to a holy war.
I’m also working on some new ProWriter courses on book marketing with New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons, so they will be out soon as well.
Thanks for having me!
J.F.Penn is the author of Pentecost and Prophecy in the ARKANE series. You can find Joanna at http://www.JFPenn.com : Ancient mystery, modern thrill. Connect with Joanna on twitter @thecreativepenn or at her site for writers: http://www.TheCreativePenn.com Helping you write, publish and market your book.