1. Many people say that authors can’t or don’t do well with more than one genre. You have devotionals, sports nonfiction, a fantasy series, and now a romance. What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write these different types of books?
I have heard that said, but I simply refuse to believe it is not possible. I like to read a variety of genres so why can’t I write in a wide variety of genres? I guess you can say I have a variety of interest and experiences that I want to write about. As a Christian who has been in the ministry, I am qualified to write devotionals. As a very successful basketball coach for over 20 years, my experiences have made my basketball coaching books very successful. I have always enjoyed fantasy so I had to write a fantasy series. And my latest release is a Christian romance story. But in that book, I use both my ministry and basketball coaching experience to craft a story about God’s love and forgiveness.
2. What do you say to the charge that men can’t write romances that women will like, and how will you tempt people who don’t care for sports to read your sports-themed stories?
As far as men writing romance books that women want to read, I think Nicholas Sparks has proven that men can indeed write very successful romances. My book, Desires of the Heart, is much more than a sports story. It is primarily a romance between two people, one who is a coach, who both have need to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration. As far as the background sports story that is happening throughout the novel, I believe that there are a number of women who also enjoy sports. Besides, it might also draw in some male readers as well. As a side note, the story of the basketball team is very closely based on a basketball team and season that I coached. So it is very realistic.
3. Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
At the current time, I am working for Rush Enterprises as a corporate trainer. This puts me on the road at least three nights every week. As hard as it has been to be away from my family almost half of every week, it has been great for my writing career. I have at least three nights a week that I can devote to writing, not to mention airport and flying time.
For most my adult life, I was a high school varsity basketball coach. And I might do that again. I love the thrill of molding a team into a unit.
As much as possible, I am involved in my church. At this point, because my job has me gone throughout the week, I am unable to get involved with midweek ministries. However, I am very active in my home group and even while I am on the road, I try to encourage the people in my group by praying for them and sending them emails.
4. Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction.
As strange as this might sound, what I usually do for fun and personal satisfaction is reading and writing. I do enjoy a good movie now and then. Because of my work schedule keeping me out of town the first part of every week, on most Fridays, I enjoy going to my son’s school and eating lunch with him. He just turned 10. It’s a special time we get to just “hang out”.
5. Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?
I recently started using a proofreader for my novels. My first novel, The Center Circle, had some real proofreading issues so after that, I needed to get another pair of eyes to read my book. This person also serves as a beta reader. In the future, I would like to get a couple of more beta readers though. I know it would help if I stick to one genre.
- 6. Since you have several books out, tell us what you think works for promotion. What are your thoughts on ebooks versus print books and different ways to let people know about you and your books?
I will be the first to tell you that I am no marketing expert. I’ve read all the books on marketing and though most have some really good points, I have found that there are no sure fire ways of grabbing readers attention. I have made it a habit to advertise via twitter as I schedule tweets every day with various hashtags. But I have discovered that it takes a long time and hundreds of tweets per hashtag to get in the position to be noticed by twitter people who are searching that hashtag. And the more focused the hashtag is, the easier it is to get into that top tweet category. I’ve been relatively successful in my basketball coaching series because it is not a large market. As result, my coaching books go in and out of the top 10 all the time in Amazon basketball coaching books. But again, that is a much smaller market than, say, romance.
I personally would rather read ebooks than paperback books . And I believe that is the wave of the future. The reason I like it so much is that I always have a plethora of books with me when I travel. They are all on my kindle fire. And if for some reason I don’t have my kindle with me, I always have my phone and the kindle app. However, there is something to be said about holding a paperback book in your hand. And slowly most all of my books are also being converted to paperback.
- 7. You wrote a blog post called “How To Survive the Worst Day of Your Life” that got an unusual number of views compared to your blog in general. Why do you think that one had a greater-than-normal response? What feedback have you gotten on your blog that particularly encouraged you or gave you food for thought?
I have not been a very consistent blogger and as a result, had very few followers. But strangely a few weeks ago, I started getting emails saying I had new followers. So I looked at my blog stats and saw that I had almost a thousand hits that day and it was only the middle of the afternoon. Keep in mind that the most hits I had seen in my history was 176. I then saw that the vast majority of those hits were on a post I had written over a year ago entitled, How to Survive the Worst Day of Your Life and it was written looking at Christ and His last few days leading into the crucifixion. It was taken from the devotional I had written following the life of Christ, entitled 10 Minutes to Better Living: Daily Applications from the Life of Christ.
Come to find out the title of the article was the exact name of a sermon that Rick Warren was going to preach that Sunday, but due to his pneumonia and then the sudden tragedy of his son’s death, passed the sermon off to one of his associate pastors. But with that title in mind, people all over the nation started googling it and my blog was number two on that google search. All in all over the next two days, almost 3000 people viewed my blog and several bought the ebook devotional, 10 Minutes to Better Living.
Now I know exactly how powerful a relevant blog post can be. The real challenge is writing those relevant blog posts at the time they are going to be viewed the most.
8. Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.
I put my heart and soul into my newest book, Desires of the Heart. Eric and Lacey became very real people to me and from what I have heard from a few others who have read their story, they agree. There were times in the writing process that I would go to bed almost grieving for what they were going through and other times rejoicing for them. That’s how real they were to me.
In a way this book is multi-faceted. At its heart is the romance between Eric and Lacey. One reader even described it as such a sweet romance. But of course, their romance takes twists and turns along the way and I really feel that the reader will be drawn into each character’s struggles.
It is also a story of God’s love and forgiveness. Eric has been running from a tragedy in his life for five years and hopes that finally getting a head basketball coach position in a small Texas town will get him to forget his past. On the other hand, Lacey is running from the guilt of a decision she made a few years earlier as well as fighting her Christian upbringing. I won’t give away any of the story, but let it suffice to say that God steps into their lives to show His love, forgiveness, and restoration.
And then there is the basketball team’s and the town of Miller’s subplot. Actually, each book in this series is going to be based out of the fictional town of Miller, Texas and will have as subplot, Miller making itself into a great community again. Of course, at the forefront of the story will be a romance taking place inside the community. As for Desires of the Heart, the basketball subplot ironically enough is about as realistic as you can get. I know that many people might find it unlikely that a team that had only won two games the previous year and a total of four in the past three years can in one year, can completely turn it around in one year and go several rounds in the playoffs. It sounds like something only reserved for the movies. However, it really happened to me as I went to a small Texas town to coach their basketball team. Every aspect of the Miller Mustangs rise in this story is directly related to my real life experience as a basketball coach.
9. What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose evangelistic, character-building, educational, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
The message of my writing varies from book to book. The devotional I mentioned earlier is primarily written to bring the life and teachings of Christ to life to us today in a very practical way. My fantasy series is mainly for entertainment with a message of the importance of using the Armor of God in our lives. The Making of Miller series will vary by book, but will always focus on God’s love for His children.
- 10. Tell us one place you visited or person you met, that made a big impression on you, and why.
This past December, while I was in the middle of writing Desires of the Heart, I had the great privilege of sitting down for lunch with Christian Romance author, Staci Stallings. I was able to talk to her to glean ideas of what works in a romance novel. Oh, yeah, I also one time had the privilege of meeting a lesser known author (ha ha), John Grisham.
11. Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.
One of these days, I really want to visit Europe. But when I do go, I want to spend a month there. Scotland, Ireland, etc. One place I have always wanted to visit and in a way plays an integral part in my fantasy series is Stonehenge.
12. What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?
In a way, I find the worst trouble I had in writing as kind of humorous. I was in the middle of writing the first in my fantasy series. This book is written in first person and I had to get the main character out of the way so something else could happen that he was not a part of. In writing the chapter where he was out of the way, he met a girl that was originally supposed to be there as a minor character for that chapter only. However, she basically told me, the author, that I would not just use her for only one chapter. She demanded more print time. I had to then figure out how to keep her in the story while not changing the main plot. That was a bit of a challenge. But I am glad I did as she has become one of my favorite characters I have written. But I think Lacey, from Desires of the Heart, might have overtaken her.
13. What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!
It’s kind of sad, but I have several “next” projects that I am working on or will shortly be working on. I have another basketball coaching book I want to have out by the first of September. I have the third book in my fantasy trilogy I need to get out before this year is done. And I have a goal of writing the next book in The Making of Miller Romance series by Valentines of 2014. And I am currently writing a project designed to be used by church small groups about prayer. So, yes, I have a lot on my plate.
Connect with Steve at his site: http://stevebiddison.wordpress.com/romance-novels/
Or buy his book Desires of the Heart here: http://www.amazon.com/Desires-Heart-Making-Miller-ebook/dp/B00CHXJ7WU/ (Notice that it’s a series, folks. There will be more!)
Thank you, Steve!