Jak Phoenix 2 & The Journey of Life

With the release of my novel, Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception just around the corner, I found myself doing some reflecting on the events that have passed since I finished the first book. Since you’re reading this, you’ve probably realized I am now going to share them with you.

Life

It took me longer than I’d planned to get this far with Jak Phoenix 2, but I promise you it wasn’t purely to do with laziness. Writing this book was an exercise in determination.

I started writing the sequel in January 2010 and the process was punctuated with an assortment of life-related interruptions. Some bad, some good and some great! I also took a break soon after starting it to write the short story, Jak Phoenix: Paid in Full. (You can download that free at the Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Smashwords and iTunes/iBookstore.)

But, aside from trying to keep up with my hobbies of guitar playing and film-watching, I actually had some important stuff happen.

I married my lovely wife in October of 2010, so needless to say, a large chunk of the year was designated to the planning and stressing over our James Bond themed wedding. Yeah, that’s right. A James Bond themed wedding. She’s that cool.

I also spent most of 2011 doing a full, tear-the-walls-down renovation on our basement. I did this primarily alone, so that was a great way to absorb all of my free time.

Oh yeah, and after working at my full time job, I’m taking night courses. From time to time I try (not that hard) to maintain some sort of social relationships. I know many people are far more busy, but I just wanted to lay out my excuses up front.

In the end, I finally finished it. And it feels good.

About the Book

With Jak Phoenix 2, I had some different goals in mind than on the first novel. I wanted to keep the humor and action at a level as high as the first book, but I wanted to keep the story grounded in a smaller galactic region. In Jak Phoenix 1, they were flying all over the galaxy. I wanted to see how Jak might react with some restrictions on not only his movements, but his actions.

I also made it a goal to ensure the villain was not as clear. In the first novel, the villain was as big as a planet, but this time I wanted to create a story where things weren’t so easily figured out. Fewer villains wearing black hats, as they say. I wanted more twists and turns, and a stronger sense of mystery.

I also wanted to put the characters through more emotionally difficult situations and experiment with creating a rising level of dramatic intrigue. Don’t worry, Jak is still a lazy smart ass, but maybe he is a man who can be beaten … or hurt … or deceived. What happens when his selfishness starts to affect the people around him?

In the end, it’s still a simple pulp space opera story meant to supply you with big spills, thrills and chills, and a heavy helping of humour. But, by the end you’ll see something more sinister might be brewing in the Azore’s Crown galaxy.

Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception - Space Adventure eBook

New Interview with Author Robert Capko!

robert capkoIt is my pleasure to speak today with independent author Robert Capko. I’ve communicated with Robert quite a bit over the last year or so but this is the first time I decided to put him on the spot for an interview. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it…

MW: Your military experience obviously adds a lot of realism to your writing. Tell us a bit about your background in the military.

RC: Thank you for asking, Matt.  I served in the Air Force in the time period leading up to Desert Storm.   It was then that I first learned of the Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) and their mission to rescue downed pilots behind enemy lines.  I was fascinated by their ability to both fight and save lives.  I knew immediately that I wanted to write novels about them.  From there I spent a tremendous amount of time learning as much as I could about PJs and what they do.  I have been privileged to meet many of them and to tour their training  facilities.  They are truly unsung heroes

What aspects of that career stuck with you?

I met a lot of really wonderful people and many of them remain great friends to this day.  I am proud of serving my country and through my writing I want to honor others who are serving or have served, and are keeping us safe and free.

Were there any specific experiences in the military that found their way into your book, Say Goodbye?
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I draw mostly upon my experience of the way members of the military interact with one another and the atmosphere in which they operate.  Keeping in mind I write fiction, not training manuals, I strive to capture the essence of military life.

I wanted my writing to contrast with other action/adventure novels wherein everything worked flawlessly and the mission and leadership are perfectly logical.  I strive for a more accurate portrayal of life in the military.  Our troops face challenges daily, and, unfortunately, many of those challenges come from places other than just the enemy.  I bring that frame of reference to Say Goodbye.

Why did you decide to take the leap and write a novel?

I’m not sure I would describe it as a leap.  It was never a question of should I or shouldn’t I write.  I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was in middle school.  I started writing several novels and dreamed about writing many more.   Say Goodbye just happens to be the first one that made it onto the bookstore shelves.  I wish it had been a leap, but it was more like a multi-year ultra-marathon.

How are you friends and colleagues from the military responding to your work?

They love it and they are pushing me to write more.  Many of them are invaluable resources and keep me on track and true to the spirit.

Who else do you think your book would appeal to?

Say Goodbye has garnered a surprising number of female fans for what, at first glance, might appear to be purely a “guy book.”  I have received emails and positive reviews from men and women, some who are veterans, or spouses of veterans, and some who have never had any contact with military life.

Anyone who enjoys a good story about people who are devoted to each other and the challenges they face and how they must sometimes make impossible choices will enjoy Say Goodbye.  My goal was to get your heart racing as you turn the pages.  Send me a message and let me know if I have succeed.  I would love to hear from you.

Are there any of your own personal traits in your main character, John Paxton?

Of course there are! 🙂 But I think there is a little John Paxton in all of us.

When is the sequel to Say Goodbye due?

The Long Road Home will be out soon.  I’m putting the final touches on the manuscript, then I have to send it off to the Beta readers and then off to editing.  I can’t wait because I am very excited about it.

Can you give us a secret plot point from the second John Paxton book?

In The Long Road Home, Pararescueman John Paxton goes back to face an enemy that seeks him with a deadly vengeance.  What he discovers is an enemy more ruthless and clever than he has ever faced before.

What challenges have you come across in your writing journey?

Finding the time to write without interruption was always a challenge.     I spent a lot of time in the middle of the night at the computer writing,  knowing that I would have to be at work early in the morning.  It is also a particularly lonely process.  You write and write and wonder if anyone will like what you have written.  A writer must press on even though they crave feedback.  Believing in yourself is key.

Where can people find you online?

Like my Facebook Fan Page at:  http://www.facebook.com/robertjcapkofanpage
I was even excited to learn that “John Paxton” has found his way into the Urban Dictionary.
Say Goodbye is available in paperback and the eBook format of your choice.

An Interview with Author Mark Chisnell (2011)

In 2011 I had the opportunity to speak with professional racing sailor and author, Mark Chisnell. He has written some well respected works and to say he is interesting is an understatement. Here’s a bit of that interview…

You can read the full interview at http://jakphoenix.com/2011/02/26/an-interview-with-author-mark-chisnell/

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MW: Hi Mark. Can you tell us about yourself?

MC: I was brought up on the east coast of England, close to both the sea and an inland network of lakes called the Norfolk Broads, so boats were everywhere. I started racing sailing dinghies, got a degree in physics and philosophy and then worked in a factory for a summer to buy a ticket to Australia, with a vague plan to see some stuff and write a book.

By the time I got home I’d published some travel stories in the New Zealand Herald and the South China Morning Post, and I’d broken into the professional sailing circuit via the British America’s Cup team that was racing in Australia at the time. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between those two things – writing and pro sailboat racing – ever since.

Give us a rundown on your book, The Defector.

The Defector began as an idea from my philosophy classes – the Prisoner’s Dilemma is a Games Theory concept that was dreamed up by the RAND corporation, the people who brought us the MAD theory (Mutually Assured Destruction) during the Cold War. I wanted to make it more personal than that, and had in mind a game played for life and death stakes, involving a love triangle. The basic idea immediately makes it a genre book, a thriller, and I went for a classic chase story. The psychotic drug smuggler, Janac forces the hero, Martin Cormac to make a succession of escalating, nightmare choices in his struggle to get free.

It took me about three years to get from the idea to a story with characters and a plot, and to get a first draft down on paper. It took another four years to rewrite it and find a publisher. Random House brought it out (called The Delivery) in 1996 in the UK. Then it was republished as The Defector by Harper Collins in New Zealand and Australia – I was living down there for a while for a sailing competition…

Read the full article with info about the sequel to The Defector over at JakPhoenix.com

An Interview with Independent Author W. A. Patterson

future useless scifi sci-fi ebook coverIn early 2011 my new “Checking in with Other Authors” series was going well so I sat down for another one with independent author W. A. Patterson who wrote a book called Future Useless. Enjoy a taste of that interview below…

The full article can be found at http://jakphoenix.com/2011/01/27/an-interview-with-author-w-a-patterson/

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Since the first two interviews I posted on the site were well received, I’ve decided to continue and speak with some other great independent authors. W. A. Patterson recently sent me his novel, Future Useless, and it caught my eye, so I asked him a few questions about it. Here’s what he had to say:

MW: Tell us about your novel, Future Useless.

WAP: Future Useless is the story of Carl Gussman-  hospital Janitor from the 20th century- stranded in the 30th century and beyond. He’s an “artifact,” and phobic about the nanotechnology needed for an everyday life in the future. He lacks the education, money, family and friends needed to survive on his own in the future.  In effect he is useless in the future.

Instead of accepting this and moving to a colony where religious beliefs make it easier to live a simple life, Carl spends years working to make the universe work for him.

Carl eventually disappears, but after a century, Lissa- the historian that revived him – gets access to his secret journals and starts to find out more about man she thought she knew, and discovers some scary things about him.

Once she’s finished, Lissa fights between feeling pushed to find Carl, and her fear of just what he’s been out doing in the universe for over a century.

Tell us a bit about your main character, Carl.

Carl Gussman is mostly my father and a bit of a few other older men I know who grew up in the 30’s and 40’s. They represent and part and mind-set of the American identity that has been lost in the last few decades.  Carl is a man that grew up in a world where a man had no limits, except those he set for himself.  These men (and women, of course) never ran into a problem they would not overcome because they were raised to expect problems to be overcome and not road blocks to all progress.  Carl mirrors this and is kind of the savant of his generation. He’s got this lifetime of experience and the patience and duplicity to use it as he sees fit…

Read the full interview at JakPhoenix.com

An Interview with Author Brian S. Pratt

In January of 2011, I had the honor of speaking with independent author Brian S. Pratt, who was kind enough to answer a few questions. We spoke about his stories, his success and publishing in general. For those of you who don’t know him, he is probably the most successful independent author ever, with thousands upon thousands of books sold without the help of a major publisher. If you’re an author or a fantasy reader, enjoy the interview below!

The full interview can be found at http://jakphoenix.com/2011/01/22/an-interview-with-brian-s-pratt/

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MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself:

BSP: I’m just a regular guy whose imagination tends to run amuck now and again. I am a veteran (Air Force), drove taxi, managed a Pizza Hut and even taught teens to drive for a couple years. Nothing in my history would indicate here’s a guy who is going to write a bunch of books. Of course, anyone who knew me from when I was 12 until now would know that a book is never far from my hand. I read all the time, less so now that I’m writing.  I live in the country and prefer peace and quiet.

Could you give us a quick overview of the Morcyth Saga?

It’s seven books long, never been edited, written in the present tense, and has sold well over 50,000 copies. A rather unbelievable achievement given that I hadn’t a clue what I was doing when I started. Had I known then what I know now, I never would have written it in present tense. Some people just can’t get over that.

The Morcyth Saga is about a teen who is into role playing and likes to read fantasy novels. He goes for a job, ends up in another world where magic works, and then discovers that his experiences from role playing and reading are going to come in rather handy. The way I figured it…

Read the full interview at Jakphoenix.com

An Interview with Fantasy Author Tracy Falbe

tracy falbe rys chronicles ebook paperback ipad ibooksAbout a year ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Tracy Falbe for our first interview in my ‘Checking in With Other Authors’ series. She is an outstanding independent fantasy author with a massive body of work, still growing faster than I can even keep track of. Her work is of the highest quality and her presentation of everything from the novels to her website is downright gorgeous. If you are a fantasy fan, please check out one of her novels in the links below…

Here is some of the the original interview from 2011. You can check out the original post in its entirety right here http://jakphoenix.com/2011/02/10/an-interview-with-fantasy-author-tracy-falbe/

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MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

TF: I grew up in rural Michigan which exposed me to nothing exciting. I can’t remember a time when I did not entertain myself with adventuresome daydreams. I was always a princess leading the rebels while dangling over lava pits when I was a little girl. And I always knew that I wanted to write novels when I grew up. When I was in grade school I would draw pictures, write stories on the pictures and then staple them together. I’m a natural born publisher.

After growing up in Michigan I spent most of my adult life in Nevada and Northern California. I earned a journalism degree from California State University, Chico. It’s a good degree for someone who wants to be a writer. Then in 2009 I moved back to Michigan. Living in the Midwest is weird after being out West for so long. I call it rustbelt living. The traffic is light and you can always get a parking space. I sometimes feel like I’m in the witness protection program.

Today I appear to live an ordinary life. I have a husband, kids, dog, and cat. When I’m not writing, I enjoy growing food, bicycling, swimming, boating, and watching depressing documentaries. I read a lot of nonfiction, especially history, economics, spirituality, current affairs, and environmental subjects. Unlike most people I meet, I write novels and sell them on the internet, and I love doing it.

Could you give us a rundown on The Rys Chronicles?

I’m the type of reader and writer who likes characters that are not purely good. Character flaws are interesting….

Check out the full interview at Jakphoenix.com

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Fantasy readers can sample the first novel Union of Renegades by downloading a free copy from her website www.braveluck.com. Paperbacks available too.

All my fantasy novels are also widely available at major online retailers.

Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/939

Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Union-Renegades-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B003UES7U8/

Barnes & Noble Nook http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Union-of-Renegades/Tracy-Falbe/e/2940000720509/

Google Ebooks http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=ifNnT44l-KIC&dq

Apple iBooks http://itunes.apple.com/en/book/union-renegades-the-rys-chronicles/id365801314?mt=11

An interview with Mike Dion of BookBarista.com

Here I am interviewing Mike dion of BookBarista.com. Originally from JakPhoenix.com at the link below: 

An interview with Mike Dion of BookBarista.com.

Today, you’ll find something a little different on Jakphoenix.com. Matt Williams, author of Jak Phoenix, decided to sit down (in front of a computer) with Mike Dion, a fellow author who has just started the new site, ‘Book Barista,’ at www.bookbarista.com. You may find value in his site as either an author or a reader. Here’s the interview…

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MW: Mike, give us a quick overview on what your site is all about.

MD: Hi, Matt. First I’d like to thank you for taking the time to interview me about BookBarista. It’s a pleasure to be discussing it with you. Basically the site is for authors (commercial or indie), book sellers (new or used), those selling book related items (ie eReaders), and those who offer book related services (ie editing). It’s a place that offers free advertising to book folks. Also it’s not owned by any large corporation so folks can post links to places like Amazon, Smashwords, or an independent bookstore. It’s for everyone, not just one segment of the book world. So the opportunity to sell books can increase as visitors see more options to acquire a book from many places. By the way we don’t take a cut of the sale. We are just an advertising site.

Why did you decide to start Book Barista?

Since the book market is changing so fast with the introduction of the eReader and the acceleration in self-publishing it is clear that there is a lack of advertising for many authors out there; commercial and indie alike. We wanted to create a place where everyone can post their book and even up the playing field a bit. Authors of all types are hungry and they need a place to show off. BookBarista gives that to them.

Being an independent author yourself, where do you see the publishing industry going in the next while?

I see traditional publishers teaming up with online venues such as Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. These companies have created some powerful platforms. BUT publishing companies (the ones with a lot of revenue) can still team up amongst themselves and create their own sites by following an Amazon type model. But the future of publishing is going to be online. I think that is a given. Print books will be around for a long time, especially used books. But the leaner model will take place online. Just look at the way of the VHS, DVD, and old telephones. New technology has taken over across the globe. It’s inevitable that this will happen with publishing as well.

What are you planning for the future with http://www.bookbarista.com?

The near future has us going for traffic and site users. Without users we won’t go anywhere. We need dedication. We need to build a community. Further ahead we have a few plans. But we need to keep our eye on the here and the now.

Obviously you are a fan of literature. What are you reading right now?

Reading is difficult right now. I am working on my books, this site, remodeling my kitchen on a shoestring budget, working my regular job, and taking care of my wife and kids. The last book I read was a Tom Clancy novel a bit ago, Rainbow Six. I was late in getting into his novels. But he has built quite the book empire.

Do you have a favorite author?

You bet! Robert E. Howard. He was a pulp fiction author of the 30’s. He wrote the original Conan books. But he also wrote a ton of other great books and created some incredible worlds and characters beyond Conan. His writing is rich and full of life. He was a great talent.

Where can people follow you online?

For BookBarista we have a blog on the site and we also have a twitter account – BookBarista is the twitter name. As a writer I write under the pen-name, Dodge Winston. The site for my writing is at http://www.dodgewinston.com

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I hope folks give BookBarista a shot and stick with it. It’s a new site so we are all learning what works best. I’m always open for suggestions. I can be reached at contact@bookbarista.com

Thanks for your time, Mike.

Thanks for having me, Matt. Wishing you success!

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Head on over to http://www.bookbarista.com/. Then check back next week for another interview. This time with one of the most successful independent authors, Brian S. Pratt!

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