You like free books, right?
Well I’ve got some more free books to hand out today. About a year ago, I had a Q and A with one of my blog friends, Billy Coffey who was working hard at publishing his first book, Snow Day. The book is finally in print, and Billy stands as the first blogger I’ve had the pleasure of featuring twice on my blog.
To say that Billy is a first time author is a complete misnomer, since his blog posts all read like meticulously crafted mini-novels. His blog is always charming and insightful in a simple and down to earth tone. Billy’s like the one guy in the room full of loudmouths who speaks the least and with the quietest voice, but when he speaks, it always counts. To have a complete novel from Billy feels like a hardbound, two-hundred page string of blog posts about a seemingly ordinary day when school is cancelled due to the weather, but ends up being much more significant in the life on one man. Fiction lovers just can’t go wrong.
I’ve got a few questions for Billy about the book and his advice to aspiring authors, and then you can win a free copy of his book just by commenting or tweeting this post!
Billy, it’s been a while since we last heard from you on my blog. What have you been up to?
I have been delivering mail for one thousand college kids (emphasis on kids), helping with third and first grade homework, cheering on the Yankees as they pursue yet another World Series title, and finishing another novel.
Those first grade spelling lists can be tough…Snow Day could be about any number of things. I could imagine a mischievous band of ragamuffins on an adventure to recover the mystical…well, why don’t you just tell us what it’s about?
Snow Day is about a man named Peter Boyd, who at Christmastime is facing the very real possibility of losing the factory job that provides for his family. He wakes one morning to find a snowstorm has hit his small town. That would usually be more nuisance than anything else, but added to the stress of unemployment, it’s more than Peter can bear. He feels as though the layers of his life are being stripped away, so he decides to take the day off. It’s a snow day, like the ones he had when he was a boy in school.
The book details that one day in Peter’s life when the storm that has been raging within him meets the storm raging around him. Peter spends time with the family, friends, and strangers in his town who are facing their own storms. Each of them will offer a piece to the puzzle of why we all must sometimes suffer loss, and each of them will show Peter that those layers of his life that are being stripped away are in fact revealing a dignity and a meaning underneath that his job could never provide.
Actually, that sounds quite a bit better than what I had imagined. You’ve got a unique writing voice that’s attracted you a solid following of readers. How would you describe your voice?
It’s a cross between Gomer Pyle and Frasier Crane. I can be flowery and deep when necessary, but I do it by saying things like “ain’t” a lot.
How did you discover what it means to write like Billy Coffey? How have you honed your craft to make Snow Day the best piece of writing it can be?
I think the only way writers can find their own unique voice is to write, and then write more, and then after that to write again. In that regard it’s just like everything else—the more you practice, the better you get. But in another way it’s frustrating because you realize nothing you write will ever come out precisely the way you want.
How do you think I will feel when I read your book? Is this an up-all-night-with-the-girlfriends-cry-a-thon, or perhaps will I get so fired up, that I’ll want to drop kick a poodle? Or maybe there is some other reaction to your book that I can’t even think of…
Hopefully both. There are a couple chapters that may make you weep like an eighth grader at a Justin Bieber concert and some that might get you into trouble with the SPCA, but for the most part I think it’s a very calm book. Things are moving so fast nowadays. I wanted to write a book that would allow readers to just sit still for a little while and exhale.
What do your kids think of your book? Or your wife?
If this book has done one thing, it’s cemented my hero status with my family. To them, I’m now a strange combination of John Wayne and Yoda. Both of the kids took the book to Show and Tell. They didn’t take me, though.
Maybe if you actually dressed like Yoda and John Wayne. Just start saying things like, “Pilgrim, out here, due process a bullet is…” Or not. Anway, what’s next for you?
I’ve turned in my second novel and am waiting for the final okay. It’s called Paper Angels, and it’ll be published in November of next year. Once that’s accepted, I’ll start book three.
Now that you’ve actually been published, what would you say to aspiring writers who don’t know how to get a book from their head to print?
Write every day. Doesn’t matter what it is or how good it is, just write every day. There are so many great books out there about the craft and the process of submitting to publishers and agents. Read them all. And read everything else, too. Anything you can get your hands on.
Pay attention. To everything. Because there are stories everywhere, and all you have to do is pull them out of the air.
And when you reach the point when you’re ready to start submitting your manuscript, always follow this one rule — try one more time. I received so many rejections. I’m the king of rejections. But if you always try one more time, you won’t fail.
All you have to do to be entered to win one of a couple of free copies of Snow Day is tweet this post, or leave a comment right here. Could be about anything, snow days, your favorite kind of fiction, anything at all! Winners will be chosen randomly this weekend. You can also order Snow Day right here.