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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Author Interview: William M Cooper

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 86th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the water-walking, knowledge-building, William M Cooper, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
William:  No, not really. I generally write spontaneously, when I’m moved with a logical concept or feeling about something I’ve witnessed. I don’t’ count myself a pen-for-hire or a pen-for-profit type writer who forces themselves to brainstorm and manufacture ideas so they can create their next product. I’m not in it for the money or the glory; I strictly write what comes naturally from within my heart based off of my concerns or victories. Sometimes, when someone complements my writing it energizes me to write and my mind will open up simply based off of a kind word from another.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
William:  When I was in junior high/middle school, I told my librarian that I was on a quest to read books and she recommended JRR Tolkien and O’Henry of which I truly liked. I read some more classics and westerns and then one day I looked at my bible that I had never read and said to myself, “There on my shelf is the king of all books and I’ve not yet read it.”  So, I made a vow to myself that I should and 9 months later I finished it. I’ve since read it seventeen more times, for it is truly fascinating. And to be quite fair with my religious readings, I’ve read and studied many world religions and find the bible still my favorite book of all books I’ve ever read. I’ve also enjoyed reading tech manuals on the ‘how to’ subjects. Weird as that sounds, I find it thrilling to read books on how to build houses, log cabins, wiring, gardening and many others things. I find that knowledge builds my vocabulary and expands my mind and helps me step into the world in a much broader vision of it, because I understand how it works.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
William:  Love, duty, respect, ethics, self-sacrifice, nobility, chivalry, charity, kindness, tenderness, compassion, mercy, commitment and morality.

Paul:  What is a typical day for you?
William:  Wake up. Brush my teeth. Go to work. Come home and make an easy road kill menu for dinner. Check my emails. Read something interesting. Do some research. Journal my findings. Go to bed.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why? 
William:  My book has so many different settings due to its multitude of short stories and story poems with so many characters that it would be like picking from your children one you loved more than the other. With that said, I do often refer to the poem, The Fisherman and the Weaver because it poetically teaches the act of human compassion and brotherly love and being active to make another person’s life better. You can actually hear this poem recited in my book trailer that is found on my author’s web page.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
William:  When the publisher says they will perform the task of editing your book, that does not mean that they will literally edit it for mistakes, but that they will edit it to paginate within their publishing software. I strongly recommend that those writers who need editing services shop for it with an outside source and not use their publisher for this. Have your manuscript error free and ready for transposing before you contact anyone in the book publishing business.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
William:  Sacrifice! You can’t achieve a thing pursuing entertainment. You’ll have to turn the TV off and turn your word processor on. Time writing should never conflict with time spent with family, friends and visitors. Always have time for people and make your own personal jollies and hobbies be laid at time’s altar, but not people for they are precious and your priorities should reflect that. If you are writing and your kids want to play…go play; the computer can wait. There is no rule that says you have to write or that you have to pump out a book every six months. Treat writing as a hobby and your family as the most important aspect of your life, then no one will resent you and your writings will be anointed with the love you displayed towards the people you are responsible for. You write to bless people, so bless them first by being a physical blessing to them through your devotion of attention and service which they deserve and need.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
William:  That I walk on water. That I’m some kind of disconnected academic who’s never wore his back out working himself in the ground to earn his stripes. I’m an everyday working Joe like most of my readers and I’m proud of it. I understand what being raised in poverty is like. I understand what being out of work is like. I know what it is to struggle to make ends meet and to budget your finances down to the last penny. I’ve been there with you performing some of the most frightening and dangerous jobs imaginable, in every season. I’m nothing special and I wasn’t born with money or opportunity or even a brilliant mind on my side, I’ve had to work hard for everything I don’t have and when I write, I write with the full anticipation of going to work the next day.

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
William:  I decided to go with self-publishing after I had tried it the other way first. I’m a perfectionist and I wasn’t personally pleased with the quality of work publishers had done in the past (like the editing comment I made). Being frustrated with the real thing, I decided that the only way I was going to get the job done right, was to do it myself.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
William:  Most of the time, all the information comes to me all at once, because I am moved to write, I don’t force it. So, a story could brew in my mind for years as fragments and then all of a sudden connect and come out whole and complete based off of something I witness or hear. I then scrutinize it and edit it to make sure it sounds correct. This process can be very tedious and timely as well. I remember one poem that I wrote that came out just perfect and in perfect order. Nothing needed to be rearranged to harmonize the events, yet; it still took me a year of studying every word to make sure I was pleased with the logic of it. My latest book took me twenty fives years to write because of how slow I am with scrutinizing myself.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
William:  Editing is a necessary evil which few like to do, but professionalism forces us to admit it still must be done. I edit my work and then when I’m ready to publish it, I’ll hire a third party to go over it. Once that is done, I’ll go over it a few more times because not only am I looking for correct spelling and punctuation, but how the words flow. The only way you get the blade sharp is to keep going over it until you feel you can spare no more loss of metal to have a razor edge of perfection. Editing must be done by the writer because it is your story or research and you must be the one who is pleased by it, first. If you lean fully on someone else to edit your material, you risk them inserting themselves in it and divorcing you from your own ideas. And how authentic would your writings be if you had no concern over your own processes, words and final outcome?  To be genuine with my writings, I must stay personally connected to it and in charge of and responsible for its quality and message. Writing is a legacy and mustn’t be treated frivolously. To edit, you must lose your pride and admit when something doesn’t work well and then be resolved to remove it. Like when the blade is sharpened, the ax head gets smaller, but the cut truer. Likewise, the job of the writer is to reach the reader with words that does a proficient job of cutting across their imaginations so that reading is fun, not confusing and inspiring.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
William:  That depends solely upon the story and its settings. Because of the many books and videos available to us all, most authors have a great deal of exposure to someone else’s research. Like a treasure trove of information, lots of research falls into our laps quite innocently just because we are exposed to the many intellectual endeavors of others. However, when I adapted a 6  page short story, (The Good-Hearted Burglar) into a 129 paged feature length spec script, I had to do a great deal of research so that the story that was now quite exhaustive would seem real.  I researched the customs, sir names, slang, coinage, vehicles in use at that time, and so on and so forth. Nothing was left for second guessing and the story and its characters appeared to be literally taken out of the news headlines of the day. Some people cannot tell my fiction short stories from real life as was the case one day when a lady contacted me wanting to know if the short story, Miracle Lake truly happened.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
William:  Coop’s Corner Collection: Inspirational Stories and Poems was published and officially released in November 2012. It is currently being exhibited along with other authors belonging to our publishers entourage at all the major global book fairs. The book contains 15 short stories and 25 story poems. Though entertaining, there is a great deal of wisdom and inspirational lessons to encourage its readers that they can rise above the circumstances of life and be noble creatures.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
William:  As corny as this sounds, someone complemented me one day after reading one of my short stories. The lady continued on saying that I should take the next step and get published…so I did. We should never underestimate the use of sincere and kind words. As a wise teacher will praise their young and inexperienced students for their efforts and artwork that is obviously far from being a Blue Boy, but they know that kind words of praise energizes their students to care about their performance. Is it not but a light task to say something nice?  Indeed, and just one kind word was all I needed to follow through with this project and get the book published.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
William:  By all means, yes. I am one of the lucky writers who isn’t limited to just one genre, but can actually move between them all. Inside my book you will find many examples of this. Just to prove this, one short story, The Good-Hearted Burglar won Top Ten Action Feature in The Movie Deal Screenwriter’s Competition in Chicago, IL. The first poem in the book, Lisa Moo Moo Marie was adapted into a song and can be requested for airplay on any country, folk or mix radio station and is currently playing all over the globe especially through internet radio and’s airplay channels. It can also be downloaded from itunes and most other music retailers. So, in one book we have short stories, poetry, movie scripts and music which is a total of 4 genres!  If you classify some of the short stories or story poems as parables, then that would be 5 genres.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
William:  I wrote a fiction story that I converted/adapted into a spec script called, “The Institution”. Either genre you have a fairly spooky thriller story. I wrote it after my experiences working in the State School dealing with mentally retarded and mentally disturbed individuals. I was moved by all the brokenness and death I saw there. It’s one thing to know so much and to have so much hands-on experience, but to use those experiences based off the misery of others seemed to straddle the fence between creativeness and exploitation. Although the story is completely fictional, it still was fertilized by the environment that impacted my heart when I worked among the most vulnerable of our society.

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
William:  In all honesty, I frown on most competitions, because I know that there is a secret agenda to promote authors and their works that reject and contradict traditional family values. Most competitions are purposefully and biasly geared towards rewarding writers for their ideologically progressive, politically correct, global termed, going green, amoral, dark sided content, while bypassing those who write with traditional family values. I doubt very seriously if Charles Dickens, Herman Melville or Lew Wallace could ever win a book competition currently being offered today. It

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
William:  A great deal actually. I don’t read books on marketing though, because I have already planned my strategies and am committed to it. I’m quite creative and even more so in your face about it. I did try online web advertising but found it useless. For example: I found a really good offer for 6 million impression for one thousand dollars, but only received 1,400 hits on my web page. To me this was a disaster and I should had known better. My favorite method of advertising is one-on-one hard copy samples from my book. Page 1 is a Press Release on some really nice color paper with vegetation on the left side. Page 2 is an autographed sample poem also on color paper. Page 3 is a copy of the Cowboy Ten Commandments on some nice colored scroll paper. Page 4 contains the poem in bookmarker form and there are 4 bookmarkers on that page. I do that so people have the option to share the poem with their friends. They get 4 for the price of one copy and at the bottom of the poem is the title of the book. Lastly, pages 5 through 11, contains one sample story from my book. A nice gift to receive and printed on nice color paper that is worth keeping and some of it worth framing. In doings so, I’m creating an advertising legacy where the items are so exquisite that they won’t be tossed in the trash but may very well find themselves on the wall or in a scrap book.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
William:  My favorite aspect of writing is when someone tells me they just read my book and liked it. The least favorite part of my writing life is not hearing from readers who I was hoping to inspire. Writing for me is solely based off the hope that I’m positively impacting other’s lives and convincing them not to give up hope?  Writing is a hand-in-glove relationship where like a plant needing water to keep from withering, I need feedback to know that my time was not wasted and that what I did will live on in the hearts of others.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

William:  Keep in mind I’m single and don’t have much family, so I can afford to market my book. I like going into businesses and giving employees my samples. They are always glad to get something for free. Recently, I’ve spent my time working on getting my newly released song (that came from my book) copyrighted, listed with and BMI and also making sure it’s a go on web sites. I had to update my web page with this new information and I track airplay for the song and respond to my new fans as quickly as possible with a message of thanks and useful links.

Paul:  Thanks, William, that was most enlightening. I wish you every success for the future.

About William M Cooper: William M. Cooper is a native Texan. He has attended such schools as Andersonville Theological Seminary, Howard Payne University, Texas A & M University, Palo Alto College and Del Mar College and half a dozen trade schools. Cooper copyrighted his first collection in 1988 and has close to a dozen more since. With several books under his belt, he has now professionally produced his first music single. Cooper's writings are purpose-driven with messages that will inspire greatness in its readers.

William's Blog: Unknown
William on Twitter: @Unknown
William on Facebook: Unknown
William's latest book: Coop's Corner Collection (Amazon)

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