My Q&A with ‘Contemporary Authors’

It’s nice when I’m reminded in small but important (to me) ways that I’m a published author.

Not long ago I was contacted by Contemporary Authors, an annual directory (print and online) that lists information about 120,000 writers in all genres. I was informed that I’ll be listed in a future edition.

In addition to checking my listing, they asked me a few questions.

Q. What first got you interested in writing?

A. I liked books growing up. I admired writers and authors, and wanted to be one from a young age but spent a lot of years thinking it was not a viable career option.

Q. Who or what particularly influences your work?

A. As an author, I like nonfiction, history, biography, a good sports story. A few of my favorite authors are Laura Hillenbrand, Rick Bragg and Roland Lazenby.

Q. Describe your writing process.

A. I do my best writing in the morning, spending a half day or so making progress on a manuscript. I try to write a clean, high-quality first draft to cut down on rewriting. My editing process is largely focused on trimming.

Q. What is the most surprising thing you have learned as a writer?

A. That I was able to navigate all the steps needed to be published by a major publisher.

Q. Which of your books is your favorite and why?

A. Only one is published–THE LONGEST SHOT–but another one is on the way, due out from St. Martin’s Press in September 2014 to coincide with the Ryder Cup. Like children, I love them equally.

Q. What kind of effect do you hope your books will have?

A. I’m more than satisfied when readers say it was a good story that was well told.

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Rick Bragg: How to Grovel

RickBragg
Rick Bragg.

This afternoon I saw my wife reading Southern Living. “Hey, can I see that when you’re done?” I asked. Not because I wanted to read about porches and gardens, easy bedroom upgrades, or the South’s hottest food towns. (Actually, I might take a peek at the food towns.) No, I wanted to read Rick Bragg’s Southern Journal, on the last page.

I love Rick Bragg. The former New York Times reporter wrote a series of memoirs about his family and growing up poor in Alabama and Georgia. Bragg is a wonderful storyteller. Read his books, if you haven’t already.

In his May 2013 Southern Living essay, Bragg tackled groveling. He got help.

“A few months ago, I asked readers for advice on how to grovel,” he began. “The alternative–to do right in the first place–I rejected from self-awareness.”

Bragg shared some of the advice in the column. It was good. A woman named Susan told Bragg not to worry about groveling. As Bragg noted, Susan seemed to imply that he shouldn’t expect too much of himself, “being a man.”

There was plenty more, including a funny anecdote about Bragg’s dog (Woody Bo) eating his favorite shirt. He spilled crab soup on the shirt during a trip to Louisiana and dropped it on the bedroom floor when he returned home.

I was impressed by the groveling advice offered by David of North Carolina. He gave Bragg a a three-point plan:

1. Grovel often. It’s expected. 2. Admit you’re wrong. It’s quicker. 3. Don’t worry about being sincere. They know.

By the way, asking for reader input is a shrewd strategy for generating essays, columns and blogs. So be like Rick. And, if you’re a man, grovel often, and unashamedly.