125,000+ Sales, 1,400+ Amazon Reviews, Amazon Debut Bestseller Selection: Prime Reading, Motion Picture Rights: AEI. “Archaeologist Leah Andrews stumbles upon something inexplicable in south-western New Mexico: inside a dark cavern lies an undiscovered, Native American cliff dwelling abandoned for 800 years. While twisting through one of the narrow underground passageways, Leah’s flashlight illuminates the remains of a violent massacre. Ancient human remains—all slaughtered in a long-ago massacre—cover the cavern floor, along with a number of brilliantly colored, granite crystals. The rare crystals are native to only one place on earth: a frozen mountain range in central Antarctica. Could Native Americans have traveled to the frozen continent of Antarctica 800 years prior to the first known human exploration? If so how? And why? There’s only one person who can get Leah to those mountains in Antarctica: her estranged husband and climbing guide Jack Hobson. At their destination they make a stunning discovery that will change history and science forever. But Leah’s team is far from the only interested party. As her secret makes its way to the highest levels of government, a race to seize the Russian-claimed Antarctic territory brings the world to the brink of nuclear conflict.”
Today Kevin Tinto has returned to ItsWriteNow.com for a second time to chat about what has changed around his book ICE since he was last here in August 2016, when his fervent goal was to get to 1,000 reviews of Ice in the Kindle store (at that time he was at 600). Kevin, thanks for coming back to chat again with me. Since the last time you and I caught up you’ve seen a great amount of progress with ICE and I’m very excited to get into this with you. But to catch anyone up who isn’t familiar with ICE, can you take us through where this book started.
The ideas for ICE came about after living in New Mexico for a couple of years, and visiting the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings. These Indians lived peacefully for tens of thousands of years on the mesas and forest floor. Yet, for a period of only a few hundred years, forced themselves into some of the most dangerous cliff dwellings on the planet. After a couple of hundred years, they were abandoned.
I haven’t been to the Anasazi dwellings but they must have really evoked a strong response in you to really start working on the ideas behind this book. Did you layer visiting these cliffs with experiences with other experiences in your life to build up the plot? And can you elaborate a little on these adventures?
All the ones that didn’t kill me… There were plenty of ‘experiences’ where I wasn’t sure which way it was gonna go. That includes high altitude mountaineering, flying as pilot in command of aircraft, jumping out of airplanes more times than my Mom would like to remember, travel all over the planet, studies of cliff dwellings in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and more.
With all of that action in your own life I can see how ICE has become so action-packed. Was it important to temper some of this action with research?
Sure. Thank goodness for the Internet! Within the internet, Youtube is gold, because it can put you right into a situation that makes great copy, but crashing a DC-3 isn’t on the top of your first person To-Do list. Hop on a motorcycle, plane, bike and hit the road. Nothing brings a scene more alive than having the author experience it first person.
That is a neat idea. I really hope another author decides to take that on! So when you’re watching these videos can you see your characters in these positions? Actually, a better question is what kinds of people do you think your characters are if they are doing these kinds of things?
I dream up characters that are interesting to me. I might love them, hate them, have a love/hate thing, etc. Characters ARE NOT plot tools used to move a story along. Readers have NO INTEREST in your AMAZINGLY ORIGINAL SERIAL KILLER PLOT! They are only interested in characters that reach off the page and into their heart on the first page. If your book does not start out with two characters in conflict and engaged in dialogue, then chances are you’re sunk in the Kindle world. Readers will yawn, and roll on to the next book in the queue.
No-one is doing much yawning when they are reading your books! Your story has a strong enough emotional connection between the characters along with enough action that it would really translate into a great movie. Who would you pick to cast as the main characters?
Yeah. Good one. I’d have to go for The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman, playing Jack Hobson. Angelina Jolie is a natural for Leah. Hard edged, would bite a tomato can in half if it served her, but needing to take a fall in order to find out what’s really important.
Solid choices. It sounds like a winning team to me. Now, would you have a cast party with the characters in your book if they could come to life?
Oh sure. Are you kidding? You’ve got a billionaire like Al Paulson with a Gulfstream V fueled and ready to go; unlimited funds and no rev-limiter on fun… What a crew.
I’m afraid that’s a little out of my budget for today, but when I find that billionaire it’s something we can totally work with :). You mentioned earlier it is important to have strong characters who have deep connections to the other characters. Is that character connection the most important thing you wanted to say in your book, or was it something else?
ICE had to have a basis in reality. Sure, it’s fiction, but it must be anchored in reality. To that end, there’s not a lot that goes on in ICE, that I haven’t done myself. While it does ‘touch’ science fiction, I wanted readers to wrap their minds around something that has real possibilities. It is amazing how many readers send me notes, thanking me for giving them real lessons in Anasazi history, New Mexico history and geography. A climb on Mt. Everest that seemed so real, they had to open a bottle of oxygen just to keep from passing out, along with the characters. I also made a statement, as an author, that the most important part of any fiction are the characters…by a light-year. If readers love characters, they’d be happy if they hung out with them in a virtual bar for 200 pages, shoulder to shoulder as they snark on the other pub-goers, and each other.
I have to ask, what did you find the most rewarding thing about writing this book?
I’ve out-sold just about every traditionally published book on the planet… If you want to have an off-the-chain bestseller, don’t waste your time with the traditional publishers and especially agents. Several identifiers come to mind…but I think ‘clueless’ hits the mark. If your manuscript has game, it will blow up into a bestseller as an indie way before a publisher even gets out of bed. If you’ve got a great book and it’s not selling, chances are it will come down to the following: Price: Set your price at $0.99 (Sorry, you’re not Steven King yet.) Kindle Unlimited: GET-YOUR-BOOK-ON-KINDLE-UNLIMITED. This is where you will make a fortune. Because KU pays based on the number of pages read, I make about $2.50 per book read cover to cover on Kindle Unlimited. I’m well past 10,000,000 pages on KU. Your book is priced at 0.99 cents. Excellent. Now, you’re gonna promote the hell out of it on the Kindle fan blogs, etc. Price ranges from FREE-$100 to promote. You get 5 days to promote FREE with Kindle Unlimited, (each quarter). Promote ALL FIVE DAYS! This will give you REVIEWS and KINDLE UNLIMITED members will pick it up. Scan down on https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/ and find your promotional partners. The best? E-Reader News, Book Bub, etc. I did a FREE promotion with Bookbub, (FREE) on December 19th, and busted out 70,000 Kindle copies and KU in two days.
I think that your results say it all. If you have a quality product and promote it well self-publishing is awesome! What are you top self-publishing tips?
Create Space is where to start. It’s an Amazon publishing company, and they will turn your manuscript into something right out of a publishing house for $199.00. For a cheap cover, use Fiverr.com. I spent $5.00 on my cover.
That is a pretty awesome cover for $5.00. Now with that track record, you are a full time writer correct?
I’ve always been a writer. As a full-time author, I simply now have permission to hangout at Starbucks all day, doing exactly what I want to do. If you love working in a cube for someone with an IQ 2 points below Neanderthal, I’d recommend working with traditional publishers. Even if published, you’ll never escape the cube. As an Indie writer? The world is your oyster, kids. Get that Ferrari brochure and start picking out colors.
*Laughs* Apart from the ability to get yourself that Ferrari, why do you write?
When you can bust out a novel that has readers exhausted after reading for 24-hours straight, then you know you’ve got a rare gift. I have a sense of the roller coaster ride I’m sending readers on. I know that when they hit that first big drop, it’s not stopping at ground level, I’ll send it right to the gates of Hell, if I think that will get everyone in the train screaming.
How of the rollercoaster ride do you know about before you start writing? Or does the track emerge as you go?
You have to have an endgame. That said, the endgame may change and all the rest? I never know what’s gonna happen until I sit down at the keyboard.
What happens when you sit down at the keyboard? Do you have any techniques to get you there?
For someone getting started, I think it’s critical to have a set number of words, and write EVERYDAY. For me, somedays I write a lot, others I get caught up on the research, or I circle back to the already-published novel, like ICE, and do the promotional work.
Do you run into writer’s block when you’re writing and how do you handle it?
Sit down at the keyboard, get a huge latte. If I’m not sure what’s happening, I just pick a scene I know should be in the book, or a character and just rip on it. Sure, the first couple paragraphs might be junk, but in a few minutes, you can’t stop. Never, Never, try to see to the end of the trail by standing at a high point and look over a million miles of trees. That will drive you insane. Get down in the forest. Aim for one tree, and head for it. Manuscripts are like ground-game football. It’s a game of inches, in the mud.
And when you are in the mud does it make it easier to edit? Do you edit yourself?
I edit a lot myself. Ed Stackler is my content editor. Ed is a master thriller editor, and you CANNOT WRITE A BESTSELLER without a master editor. I’m not talking about copy edit. Someone who is invested in your story, loves it, and knows how to make it better. You are DEAD without a master editor…
What words do you think really makes your work suffer either before editing?
I think Stephen King has it exactly right here: “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” Once your manuscript is ‘finished’, first thing, go through and unload all those, seemingly, incredibly, wonderfully, important adverbs.
And the final question for this section of the interview, What’s currently in your writing queue?
ICE GENESIS, the next in the ICE series. I’ve planned three working this storyline. ICE, ICE GENESIS, ICE REVELATION.
Just before I let you go I have a batch of random, hopefully thought provoking questions that allow me to poke at your grey matter. Let’s start with the first one: Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
If the subject is hobbies that can kill you…yes, I’m a whiz.
What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
Pacific. I live on it, I fish, scuba dive, free dive and spearfish in it nearly everyday in the summer.
If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
It’s already out there, by the millions. They go by names like; Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, Hygiea, Euphrosyne, Interamnia. They are planet killing asteroids, that strike the earth around every 60 million years, and wipe out all life. We’ve had five of those already since the beginning of life on this planet, and we’re overdue for number six.
Are you introvert or extrovert?
I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, to mostly just keep my mouth shut.
What is your favourite quote?
“The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.” Navy SEALS.
If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write the national anthem?
Continuing on the music theme, what is your favourite song or music to work by?
Generally, I put one song on repeat. I crank up the headphones until the rest of the world is just a white blur and zoom; I’m in another universe with Jack and Leah. The music can vary from AC/DC, Puddle of Mud, Megadeth, Eric Clapton, etc. No disco….
Disco doesn’t seem to match your writing style. Have you ever danced in the rain?
Not yet. I’m still waiting to get caught in the middle of an out-of-control wildfire, and have the hand of God throw down at gusher. We’ll all be moon-walkin during that one.
Are you left or right handed?
How are the colours in rainbows made?
I’m always focusing my GPS on the end of the rainbow for the pot of gold. I miss the colors every time.
What color socks are you wearing?
What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?
Anyone that has those big hunks of chocolate. Like a shot of Meth, just as I’m blowing up the next chapter. Perfecto.
That is some impressive chocolate! What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Felicity Gibbins. It’s a classic brit name, but the first time I heard it, I was sure she’d been named after some character in Chitty-chitty Bang, Bang.
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Don’t be that guy/girl. No direction in life, no focus, afraid to try anything new, goes with the sheep, thinks drinking a bottle of wine a night and watching Netflix is having made it. Get the hell off the couch, slacker, and get it done.
Solid advice right there. Finally, we’re just about at the end of today’s action packed interview. Is there anything that you think I missed?
Think we covered it. Remember authors, here are the keys to success: Write a great manuscript where your characters are the plot. No one cares about that cure for cancer sitting in the Amazon jungle…at least in fiction. Get an editor who is your coach, loves your work, has a track record. Publish using Create Space and Kindle. Price at 0.99. Promote, Promote, Promote. You LOVE you LIVE for Kindle Unlimited.
Kevin thanks for the coming back and reminding our readers about ICE. And I can’t wait until your book has another 1,000 reviews and 10,000 more sales!
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