Reavis Wortham interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Jun 27, 2016 1:17:10 PM
Reavis Wortham interview with David Alan Binder
His bio from his website: Award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for the fictional setting for The Rock Hole.He was born in Paris, Texas, but lived in Dallas. “We grew up in the city and went to school there, but every Friday evening my parents put us in the car and made the 120-mile drive to Chicota, where we truly lived at my grandparents’ place in the country until Sunday evening, when we came back to the city. Our true home was that little farm in Lamar County.” He attended Eastfield Junior College and graduated with a B.S in Industry and Technology from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M, Commerce). Upon graduation, he began a teaching career in Garland, Texas. He received a Master’s in Education from E.T.S.U. and after ten years in the classroom, Reavis took the job as Communications Specialist for the GISD and remained in that department until he retired as Director of Communications in 2011.
He is the author of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. Humor editor and frequent contributor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine, he writes on everything from fishing to deer hunting. In addition to several other magazines, his work has appeared in American Cowboy and Texas Sporting Journal.
Since 1988, Reavis has written a self-syndicated weekly outdoor column for numerous Texas newspapers including: The Paris News, The Mt. Pleasant Tribune, The Frisco Enterprise, The Celina Record, The Jefferson Jimplecute, Country World News, The White Rocker, The Pittsburg Gazette, The Bryan Eagle, The McKinney Star, and The Rockport Pilot.
Dozens of his articles have appeared in the following magazines: Texas Fish and Game, Humor Editor, Camping Editor, Young Outdoors Section, Texas Sportsman, Western Angler, Central Texas Outdoors, Striper-mania Magazine, American Cowboy, Vintage Trucks, and Texas Outdoor Journal.
His photography is published in: Garland, Its Premiere Century by Michael Hayslip, The First Day of School by Harry Wong, and Destination DFW, 1993 by Living Partners, Ltd., Ray Baker.
An award-winning writer and photographer, Reavis has been recognized for his unique style of outdoor journalism. In 2002, he received First Place in the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) in the Magazine Humor category for “Shooting Squirrels in a Barrel.” He also took second place in that same competition for a magazine article entitled, “Totally Retro: Hunting with the Longbow.” Additionally Reavis is a past president of the Texas Outdoor Writer's Association (TOWA), and has been recognized numerous times by TOWA for his work in both magazines and newspapers. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Writers' League of Texas.
Check out my website at: www.reaviszwortham.com
My blog appears on the 16th of each month at: http://algonquinredux.com/
I am Humor Editor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine and my column appears monthly and you can read older columns at: http://fishgame.com/
Poisoned Pen Press: http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/?s=reavis+z+wortham&cat=104&x=29&y=23
I write a weekly self-syndicated newspaper column for The Paris News, Country World magazine, and The Rockport Pilot.
1. How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)?
I’ve had to deal with this for 60 years. Reavis is not Reevis, it rhymes with Crevice, and that ain’t crevasse. Crevice = Reavis. Sigh
2. Where are you currently living (at least the state or if outside US then Country)?
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
That there are literally tens of thousands of writers and potential authors out there trying to make it. Due to the sheer volume of self and traditionally published books out there, I have to write well and in a memorable way. With that in mind, the prose absolutely has to be outstanding and the characters as real as anyone you’ve ever known. In addition, the story must be compelling and interesting enough to keep today’s reader’s attention from page one to the end.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
Dialogue and attention to realism. I write about Texas and as a fourth generation Texan I can assure you that we speak with distinctive pacing as well as using expressions specific to our region. Remember, Texas is a gigantic state with five different geographical regions. Each region has specific ways of speaking and they identify the area. For example, folks in northeast Texas will say, “We got some rain yesterday,” whereas a rancher in west Texas over 500 miles away says, “We got some moisture yesterday.”
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
From the time I first wanted to write, there were Vanity Presses in this country. They’ve evolved into independent self-publishing companies. I never wanted to self-publish, because I wanted to concentrate on the creative aspect of this business instead of hauling books around and selling them myself.
What I wanted was a publisher that handled everything from editing, to art, to printing and distribution.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
At this writing I’m with Poisoned Pen Press out of Scottsdale, Arizona. They print the Red River mystery series. I also just signed on with Kensington Publishing to produce the upcoming Sonny Hawke thriller series.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I think print books will always be around. There was a scare for a few years, but I was never worried. A significant number of readers are tactile and prefer to hold a real book.
EBooks, though, sell well and though I’ve only just cracked the electronic market, I know writers who say at least 40% of their sales are now electronic. There’s nothing wrong with them, except my brain refuses to retain anything I’ve read on an electronic device.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
There’s one rule that I live by in Life and in writing. Never, ever, ever give up. If you polish your craft, work hard, write every day, and refuse to allow rejection slips to get you down, you’ll get published.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
Finding an agent is a Catch-22. Most want experience and published authors, and for the most part, it’s hard to break into the business without an agent.
I found my “starter agent” through a website called Predators and Editors. It’s full of information for the beginning writer, but you have to do your research. It was several months before I found someone who would take me. They were a small agency, but they landed a contract with Poisoned Pen Press after two or three more months. The truth was that PPP, doesn’t require an agent, and if I’d stayed at it, I might have found them on my own.
Unfortunately, that agent and I parted ways after my second novel, Burrows, was published. Through contacts in the writing world, I found my current agent who has served me well.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
From personal experience, I suggest that people new to the business attend writer’s conferences. There you can meet authors, editors, and publishers that can lead you through the wilderness. There are dozens of conferences around the country such as Sleuthfest, Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Romantic Times, Magna cum Murder, Killer Nashville, and Thrillerfest, to name only a few.
My second suggestion is that new authors not get caught in the dangerous loop of writer’s groups. I don’t mean those are bad, they’re great, but some people get caught in the loop of writing only for their group and not breaking out to get published.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
That I can write whole novels without an outline. Some authors outline up to 35-40,000 words. I simply put words on paper and watch what my characters do. Some people think it’s scary, others think I’m nuts, but it works for me.
11. How many books have you written?
To date I have five novels out and one to be released in November, 2016. They are, in order, The Rock Hole, Burrows, The Right Side of Wrong, Vengeance is Mine, Dark Places, and the upcoming Unraveled.
12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
a. Write every day. Every day. Let me make myself clear. Write every day. My personal goal is 1,000 words per manuscript and I’m working on an average of three books at the same time. The third is usually simmering on the back burner, but it progresses each day.
b. Then read. Read every day. Reading feeds the writing side of the brain. Did I mention that you should read every day?
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
I don’t consciously add twists. As I said, I don’t outline and only plan the occasional plot point. I learned to write by producing a humor newspaper column for years. With that, you have to write the unexpected, so for an obvious good twist, look in a different direction that most people expect.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
The Voice. That’s a hard thing to explain to new writes, but look at your favorite authors. You read them because of their story of course, but it’s the Voice that captures you and won’t let go.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Social media is the workhorse. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t use them to flog people into reading my work, that comes later. My FB page features the Old Timey Word or Phrase of the Day. These are words that are fading from use and remind my followers of days past. I also throw in Influential Books each week, books that impacted me as a writer. My Red River books are set in the 1960s, and we often remember those days through photos and recollections.
Twitter is obviously a condensed version of the FB feeds, but with over 11,000 followers at this writing, and I average about a hundred new followers per day, it gets my name out there on a daily basis.
Then about one a week, or every two weeks, I’ll throw in some writing news, either through publishing dates, cover reveals, reviews, or mentions.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I’d start by attending those conferences I mentioned above. As in all things, a lot happens after you meet people in the business. Go to as many as you can afford. I forgot to mention, once you’re there, hang around the bar. I spend hours there, networking and visiting with friends. You’ll find the bars are where you learn the most, and where things happen.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
I mentioned that one earlier. Never, ever, ever give up.
18. Anything else you would like to say?
Write, edit, write, polish, read, write, edit, polish and never give up.
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