Why did you decide to become a writer?
It’s more a matter of writing decided to embrace me, I think. As far back as upper elementary school, I was composing little ditties and couplets. By junior high school, I was writing multi-stanza poems and short-short stories. By about 10th grade, I was fully on fire with poetry and stories, had a couple of things published at the school, and even attempted (but never completed) a novel. By my senior year, I’d won some cash prizes in a regional writers conference and had a first place winning poem published on the front page of my hometown newspaper. So, I guess you can say, I’ve “always” been a writer.
Do you have authors who inspired you to write? If so, whom?
My dad was a writer. He wrote novels and plays (never published or produced), along with short stories and poetry. Some of his stories and poems were published and/or placed in contests. He and my mom were always very supportive of my creative writing. My older brother was also a big writer, having completed a novel while he was still in high school. He’s gone on to publish numerous non-fiction books and several novels, along with hundreds of articles in professional journals.
Also, a friend of my parents – the famous novelist Walker Percy – lived nearby and he was (for a while) a member of the local writers’ group that my dad was involved with.
What genre(s) do you write and what made you choose it (them)?
Another tough question, because I think of my fiction work as being mostly “hybrid.” After I retired from my full-time library job, I shifted from non-fiction books, poetry, reviews, and articles… and felt led to try my hand at long fiction. I made a conscious decision to write fiction for the broader market that includes what people consider “romance” — though there are so many sub-genres and hybrid-genres within “romance” that it’s less of a category than a phenomenon. All that said, my fiction has romantic elements, along with humor, and usually an action sequence. Some titles have been suspense and some have been what people call “contemporary.” I have at least one ghost story and two of my novels have elements of science fiction. Several have been under the broader tag of humor — some of which are straight-out “screwball” comedy, while others are not quite that far out.
What kinds of classes, workshops, organizations, groups helped you learn the craft of writing?
I’ve never taken a writing class, other than the English courses in high school and college… in which there were always compositions and research papers to complete.
I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2007, I think. In 2010 I joined the Chick Lit Writers of the World Chapter… which later was re-named Contemporary Romance Writers.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how often do you meet?
No. In the instances – earlier in my writing career – in which I shared poetry with other poets, I found that I put a lot more into my feedback about their poetry than they ever did about mine. [To put it one way, I was giving a dollar’s worth of effort and receiving back only a dime’s worth.] And, too often, I found some of their comments to be way less than helpful — at times even dismissive.
Tell us about your first break into print experience.
I mentioned, above, the poem on the front page of the local paper. Prior to that I guess my first time “in print” was during 10th grade when the faculty sponsor of the creative writing anthology selected my short-short story to run in that year’s issue. I was ecstatic, of course.
After high school, I was on the staff of a college newspaper and saw my byline a lot. Later I was a full-time photo-journalist for a small-town daily and got many more bylines for articles and photos. After that, I moved to a small-town weekly where there many more bylines. In the military, I worked on three different base newspapers. As a librarian, my articles and reviews appeared in professional publications.
My first real BOOK was a non-fiction work co-authored with my brother in 1988. It was released by one of the top three publishers of resources for libraries and librarians (at that time). We co-authored another book with them in 1991.
My first novel – The Overnighter’s Secrets – was released in May 2012 by Astraea Press (since re-named Clean Reads).
What’s one tip you’d share with other writers?
Since I found this trait in my own early writing years, I assume it’s pretty common: the tendency to think of one’s first drafts as “ready” (and perhaps even “perfect” — ha). I feel confident in saying a first draft is almost never ready to go anywhere. Be willing to revise, re-draft, and re-think scenes. If something’s not working in your story, be willing to cut it — maybe it will find a home later, in another work. Always proofread… then proofread again. Try to find an insightful, honest beta reader whose own writing is of high quality and whose feedback you trust. LISTEN to what she/he says about your work. That doesn’t mean you have to adopt every single suggestion they make, but if they tell you Chapter Three bogs down horribly and loses the interest of the reader… they’re probably on to something. Re-do Chapter Three.
Please share your most recent book title and the opening line. (Please include a buy link.)
My most recent is Not Easy Being Android, released by TouchPoint Romance on Feb. 16, 2018 This is a good example of the hybrid genres I discussed above. It’s got romantic elements, along with a bit of a detective plot, some “sci-fi,” and an action scene.
It actually begins with a teaser scene, but here’s the first line of Chapter 1:
If the caller had not quickly mentioned my former faculty advisor, I would’ve hung up because I rarely converse with people from numbers I don’t recognize.
Buy link: https://tinyurl.com/NEBAndroid
Besides 15 fiction titles, Salter has published non-fiction monographs, articles, reviews, and 120 poems... and has won 40 writing awards. As a newspaper photo-journalist, he published some 250 bylined articles or photos.
Before working 30 years in librarianship, he was a decorated USAF veteran. Salter is the married father of two and grandfather of six.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ AuthorJLSalter
Blog: https://fourfoxesonehound. wordpress.com/
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.