Could You Tell Us About Yourself ?
I am a retired aerospace engineer. And a software engineer, and a mechanical engineer, and an electrical engineer, and a rocket scientist. I have had a lot of experiences in engineering of aircraft, I was an officer in Army intelligence, I put together teams to set the human-powered speed record, to build an autonomous off-road vehicle for DARPA, I have flown and crashed hang gliders, and have had a variety of adventures that I am drawing on in my fiction books. I grew up in New England, but now live in Southern California.
What made you write your book (s) ?
I also was a newspaper columnist, wrote for a creative hobby magazine, and wrote a lot of non-fiction. I have had the interest in writing fiction and have been an avid reader of science fiction, so I am now writing novels. The rise in the ability to self-publish has changed the world of writing and made it easier to publish in many forms.
What is the first book you remember reading ?
Dick and Jane. I guess you must mean novels. I also read Hardy Boys books.
What’s your favourite book ?
I read a lot of science fiction of the classics: Heinlein, Azimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Bradbury.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Robert Heinlein. His works span the sci-fi genre. I read Starship Troopers (the book is quite different from the horrible movie) and enlisted in the Army because of that book, at a time when nobody was.
How many hours a day do you write?
Average 4 hrs/day 7 days. At times, much more intense.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I am willing to spend the time, even write material that never gets published if I can improve it by re-writing
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I write, obviously, like an engineer. So, I am learning to motivate the reader’s emotions now.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
Do something else! Let the book settle before re-reading it.
Do you listen to music while you wrote your book (s) ?
Yes, classic rock, but I have to avoid talking, which conflicts with thinking about the writing, so only recorded music, not radio, avoiding rap.
Where do you get your idea (s) for your book (s) ?
Became interested in the contradictions in time travel books and movies. I started writing and realized I was contradicting myself, so I had to throw it out and developed the Johnson Theory of Time Travel, which I think is original in my book series, FutureView. The first book in the series is FutureView Startup. Other writing is based on my personal experiences. I have seen death. I have been in death-defying situations. I have worked 20 different jobs, 5 different careers, lived in 20 different locations.
What is / was your writing process like?
I have written a lot of computer software, so I have to be organized. I start with a theme story, then a description of scenes, then an outline by chapter. Then write, watching word count as a goal per day. I use Microsoft Word, though I was impressed by Scrivener, I found it too complex to jump in. I write one chapter per file, then merge files later into one file.
Do you try more to be original or rather give readers what they want?
If you want someone to read your book, you have to know what readers expect: specific genre, book length, troupes, story arc, etc. For this book series, the book is a techno-thriller, hard sci-fi, time travel genre, which is not a mainstream genre, and I am driven to being original.
How did you publish your (first) book ?
I followed Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula course, but basically everyone is best starting as an exclusive on Amazon, with most sales ebooks and Kindle Unlimited page-reads. I published a paperback at Ingram-Spark.
What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Because the book is hard sci-fi, I had to create some initial calculations, and timing calculations to prevent contradicting my theory of time travel and the capability of the time machine. I had to create some cheat notes and post them on my bulletin board to maintain consistency. Details are skipped over until writing, when, at some time, I stop and research a location on Google Maps, or search a topic, and dig up references to other works to make sure I got it right, exact quotes, etc. I printed out some important web pages needed for technical accuracy.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I create the overall plot and separate subplots, such as romantic elements and write out a descriptive paragraph. That allows me to insert the subplot elements and character development in the story. I wrote up separate descriptions of the characters and elements that had to be consistent: phrases, background history, clothing, car he/she drives, etc.
Then I write out each scene in a descriptive paragraph, decide on the sequence, and create an outline. The outline makes it easy to decide on chapter breaks, with a major change in location, time, point of view, or, in this series, with a change in history.
Due to the complexity of the time changes in this book, I also created a spreadsheet (Excel) to track character development, technology development, and to track foreshadowing, clues, and development of subplots. It makes it a lot easier to find where I need to change things if the plot has to change during editing. This also helped in later books in the series, to introduce elements and backstories without a big info-dump on new readers.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book (s) ?
Everyone in the business will tell you that writing as an art is one thing, and self-publishing and promotion, as a business, is totally different but a necessary. It is difficult to become a regular internet buzz, while managing the statistics of publishing is easier. Of course every author wants to stay writing!
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
I had ideas for how the book ends, but it required the convergence of a lot of elements and the timing had to be adjusted many times to make it work.
How did you come up with the title for your book (s) ?
The title was developed before the plot. It just had to represent the genre and let the reader know instantly what the book was about.
Would you and your main character get along?
As characters developed, I drew a lot from people I know, and from myself!
Which of the characters in your book (s) do you relate to the most and why?
There’s a little of me in each of the male characters, both good and bad. I have been a little of each. A lot of my personal experience is in their backstories.
What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?
Totally re-written, because I didn’t lay out the capabilities of the time machine consistently. After I did, it affected how the plot advanced. One problem other novels about time travel have, is that a powerful machine makes it hard for the characters to have to struggle. It’s like writing for Superman comics. If Superman can do everything, why does he even have to struggle?
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
The book is for readers interested in a techno-thriller. At times the reader has to understand what is changing in revised timelines or history. It is all explained, but may require thinking about it. There are some things that are hidden clues. It is not a typical time-travel story, which are often historical stories.
What did you edit out of your book (s) ?
I included a detailed poker game in the first chapter, and even tested it in Las Vegas. I thought it was really clever. But criticism from reviewers made me take it all out.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The final scene was the convergence of a lot of things. I had to go back and change the setup of a number of elements so that the final scene could happen.
How long did it take for you to write a book ?
This book took 9 months, but it required developing the time machine theory.
What do you hope your readers take away from your book (s) ?
The second book in the series, FutureView-Saving the Future picks up on a number of elements that turned out to provide more plot expansion.
There is also a secret in this first book, unrelated to the plot. I will be promoting a contest in 2023 for people that find the secret. It is related to time travel.
What was the hardest part of writing your book (s) ?
Making sure it was all consistent. Also, being sure that the character couldn’t see a simpler solution to his/her problem, making their actions realistic.
Did you get some negative feedback on your book ? and if so how do you deal with that ?
Yes. I solicited Beta reviews, had a very demanding editor that even fact-checked. I talked through the plot at the 20 Books author conference, and tried to make fixes based on comments. If the reviewer made a wrong assumption, I felt it was still important to improve the clarity of actions.
How did you feel when you first published your book (s) ? Scared ? Excited ? Nervous?
Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book ?
The book is available on Kindle on Amazon. The paperback is available through Ingram-Spark, so most book stores will order it through Ingram.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
The second book in the series is in edit. It expands on greater capabilities suggested in the first book, and adds a new character to the primary FutureView team. The second book takes place in the same timeframe as the first book (something you can only do in a time machine story!), so there are a lot of hints available to readers of the first book.
After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers?
Learn about writing and self-publishing before even starting. There are a lot of resources: podcasts, books, Youtube videos, paid courses, and internet resources.
What are common traps for aspiring writers and have you faced any of them ?
I have offered to beta-read other authors, and be sure you know where you are going before starting, accept the idea that a lot may have to be thrown out. Everything will take longer. And, you are not as good as you think you are!
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, except for people who were never interested in the book and shouldn’t have been reviewing it. I am also interested in reviewers who didn’t understand something, as it means the item needs to be presented better.
Michael Limeski Media Links