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Thomas S. Flowers Discusses Dwelling & Writing

Thriller author Thomas S. Flowers just released a new book called Dwelling. The book is part of a series called The Subdue Series, book two is titled Emerging. Dwelling released on December 8, 2015 and Emerging will follow right after, releasing on December 15th. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the book and his writing process. The post below contains more details about his latest release. 

What is your process for plotting out your novel?
A: I’ve been called “traditional.” And maybe I am. I’ll let you be the judge. I start any story with a simple/basic notion of what I want to write. I start first with the characters, who are they. I don’t normally write anything down in great detail at this stage, it’s more of a brainstorming exercise. I typically jot a few notes down, especially if I’m doing research. Once I’ve got an idea of where or who I’m going to be talking about, I jump in. I start writing longhand. I believe longhand helps keep the creative flow moving without the tedious stop and edit of typing. Unless you’re disciplined enough, which I am not, typing can be a distraction to the stream of consciousness. 

My editing process starts when I begin typing. Not everything gets transferred. As part of the editing process, I considering this to be my second draft. After that, I go through the story again with a third edit. And sometimes even a forth. After this, I find it’s beneficial to have an extra pair of eyes. I have a list of trusted “beta readers” who have helped me in the past. From here, as my betas return my story (betas do not proofread or edit, they simply read and jot notes for you, corrections or thoughts on the story itself, nothing more), I take in what they thought and see if changes need to be made. 

After this, it’s off to the publisher…and comes the hardest part. Waiting. You have to wait. You cannot sneak your story out there. You need to be patient. And it’s bloody hard. Sitting on a story you want to share with the world is the hardest thing, I think, for a writer to do. But if you want a quality story and if you want it “out there” the right way, you have to wait. After the publisher gets back with me regarding accepting a new book, depending on your publisher, you are assigned an editor, the editor reads and makes corrections and discusses the book and said corrections with you. After a couple rounds of this, it’s off to the proof reader for final corrections and to ensure proper formatting. And I’m not even mentioning the marketing team and cover design team, etc. etc. Needless-to-say, a lot goes in to publishing a book. 

Consider my own upcoming releases, both Dwelling and Emerging were started last year around this time. I finished my half of the process sometime in May, I think. I shopped it around. Was eventually picked up by Limitless Publishing. And went through their publishing process, which took a couple months, which isn’t bad. I’ve heard some publishers take a year to get your books out there. 

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
A: While I am really good at developing a schedule, sometimes I find it difficult keeping to it, keeping up with all the things we have to do other than writing. As a small beans writer, we have to take an active role in everything, from production to promotion and everything in-between whilst also keeping our day-to-day job. And there is the cross-promotion stuff we need to keep up with too and it’s horrible when we cannot support everyone. We are a community, but in the end, we have to pick and choose what or who we can help support.

Do you write in one genre or multiple genres? Why?
A: I typically work in the horror/thriller genre, but you’ll see literary fiction and historical as well, and sometimes I’ll adapt, depending on the story, cosmic Lovecraftian horror mixed with a dash of dark science fiction. Overall, I’d say my sum genre is dark fiction.

What was your path to publication like?
A: Tedious…! Hmm…let’s see. I first started out self-publishing. I thought that’d be okay. Less costs. More profit for the stories I was selling. Unfortunately, there are aspects in the publishing world I am not very good at. I’m horrible at editing. I can read and read and re-read and re-read again, but I’ll miss a bunch of mistakes. I’m not very good with formatting. And I’m also not very good at marketing, or at least developing the tools necessary for marketing. 

After self-publishing, I decided I needed to get with a publisher. A friend of mine had just joined up with Booktrope. My first book was already out, but they accepted self-pub works, so I thought, “Why not?” I submitted the book. They picked it up. But getting my book through Booktrope’s system, which is a mix of traditional/self-hybrid, was precarious, especially due to a lack of leadership within the imprint I was assigned. Getting a quality book out with BT requires putting together a good hard working team. Needless-to-say, I had some issues putting together a team that wanted to actually put in any kind of effort. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say I was kinda burnt out with BT. 

When I finished writing my second book, I knew I didn’t really want to go the BT route again. I would if I had too, but I wanted to see if I go get into traditional small press first. I began shopping my book around. No big secret there, you just have to use the magically search engine known as Google with certain parameters.  I had a huge list, emailing both agent and publishing houses direct. I got a TON of rejections. 

I had a few bites, but for whatever reasons non-disclosed here, they just weren’t a great fit for me or my story. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon Limitless Publishing, LLC. To be honest, I was a little hesitant. Judging based on their website, it seemed that they only really worked with romance, or romance thriller, or fantasy romance thrillers. While love certainly exists in Dwelling, it’s not my subject matter. But, I went ahead and submitted, based on the fact that they are open to almost everything, including dark fiction/thrillers. I think it was a month later, maybe two, when I heard back from Limitless, requesting a full manuscript for review. A month later, I was signed up with Limitless. 

They loved the book and wanted to help get it out in the world. While still being a small beans author, I still have to play a very active role in the promotional life of my work, but being signed on with LP has helped ease a lot of that stress as well as the editing/formatting aspect. I’m not gushing over LP, they are sincerely a fabulous publishing house to work with. I’m very blessed to have stumbled upon them.

What advice do you have for someone who dreams of writing and having a book published?
A: Hey, I’m small beans too, but if there was one piece of advice I could give to some up and comer it would be to never give up. I know that sounds cheesy or like a standard line everyone says, but it’s true. It breaks my heart when I see someone truly excited about their story, whatever it may be, and then through the process of getting the work out there, they become bummed out and end up giving up on the whole thing altogether. 

Publishing is a tedious business that puts a lot of strain and stress on the author, more so if they’re going it alone. Like most things in life, or as those spiritualist meta-thinkers say, no one is an island. We need a community. The same could be said about writing. Even if you really like to self-pub, that’s okay too, but you need a base. You need to make connections. Build a circle of fellow authors and cross-promote each other. You can share advice or just talk things though. It helps, trust me.

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