Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Mark Geatches!
What is the name of your book? Who is the publisher?
Tamar & PJ: One Giant Adventure
World Castle Publishing
My two-novel series Zammi the Liberator: America’s Second Revolution has just been accepted by a publisher!
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.
My path to publishing was probably typical of most first-time authors. It was long, hard, and filled with rejection. Come to think of it, it remains the same for published authors as well.
I began writing my first novel while swinging in a backyard hammock after work and on Sundays. It was literally the first work of fiction I had ever attempted to write. I had no storyline or theme in mind. I just sat there, popped open a cold beer, and began to write. The story came quickly.
When it was complete months later I had the basis of a pretty good book. I also found that I had the technical writing skill of a possum. I did some research and came across ICL. One course later it was verified. I had come to them with the writing skill of a possum, albeit an eager one.
I left that course with everything I needed to develop on my own. I edited, revised, and re-edited Tamar & PJ four more times until it was ready to submit to publishers. I purposely sought out small publishing houses rather than agents or big houses and after many rejections, Karen at World Castle Publishing picked up my book. It took about one year of submitting to finally get a contract.
How long have you been writing?
From the time I began my book to publication was about eight years.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
If I had to choose one I’d say Fantasy.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing off and on since I was in 1st grade. I have a box full of stories dated way back to my childhood.
What ICL courses have your taken?
Writing for Children and Teenagers
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
As I mentioned previously, my early writing was not good at all. It was strange because I had done a great deal of reading and I knew what I thought were well written books and what were not. But for some reason that reading experience didn’t translate to the page as I wrote. I look back on my first couple drafts and can hardly believe how bad it really was. When I came to that realization I did something about it. I took that ICL course, I took it seriously, and it changed my writing and my path as an author. It gave me the knowledge that allowed me to transform my novel into something that eventually got picked up. You can’t really ask for more than that.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where and when?
No. The earlier assignments didn’t lend themselves to publication and my writing skill didn’t either. I considered revising some of the later assignments but decided to move forward with new material instead.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
I do. When you get writer’s block—stop and drink an ice-cold beer. No, that’s not it. Stop, jump back a bit in your story, and edit. I go back to a previous chapter or section and by the time I get caught up I usually find that I can just push right through that tough spot as if it never existed.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
This is a good question. I’d go back to the very beginning to tell myself how difficult this industry is. Even though I went into it with my eyes wide open, it is much harder to break into than I thought. Even after having a book published it seems like starting over again trying to promote it.
Right now I’m trying to peddle a YA dystopian series to agents and once again it’s like starting from scratch.
I’d give myself some perspective as to the odds of success and then the continuing odds against you to obtain real commercial success. They are very tough odds.
I’d also caution myself as to the increased beer consumption and commensurate expense incurred by a full-time writer. Delicious but onerous.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
Your course gave me the necessary fundamentals to write well. As I stated earlier, I had no idea how bad my writing was when I began. It was literally laughable. Cindy Savage was my teacher. She was supportive of my ambition without being overly optimistic. Both of those qualities were necessary. It was just enough praise to keep me going, and just the right amount of caution to keep me grounded. My last assignment enabled me to bring my fledgling book, Tamar & PJ, into the course work. The work Cindy and I did together in those last weeks was invaluable.
Make up a question you want to answer and then answer it here!
This is an easy one.
What is your favorite beer and why is it so important to creativity?
Miller Lite is my favorite maintenance beer, thank you for asking. It is a crisp and delightfully refreshing pick-me-up after a long morning of writing. It is also undoubtedly the best tasting light beer on the market.
For a more contemplative brew I prefer nearly any lager on the market. They are rich and flavorful without being overly dramatic.
Regarding creativity and beer, sometimes I’ll break for a frosty mug and several hours later realize I hadn’t written another word. So I’d have to say it’s not great for creativity.
Once again Mark thank you for that insightful question. You seem remarkably bright. How is it that your book is not a best seller?
Mark enjoys many things in life. Beer is one of them. (who would have thought) Writing is another. He would love it for every person who reads this interview to buy twelve copies of his book. If you’d like to know why, read this blog post:
It gives examples of the multitudinous uses for my book. You can find other pertinent information about Mark’s writing at his website, markgeatches.com. You may have to wait in line though. With two to three visitors per month, it’s hard for the hosting service to keep up with demand.