Maurice: Both. I full-time write AND have two other full-time jobs. I have a B.S. in Biology.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
Maurice: Well, to be fair, this is a process that has taken a lot of time to evolve. A learn as we went thing, since at one point the imbalance almost cost me family. Don’t get me wrong, my wife knew that I was a writer from the beginning (this was pretty clear while we were dating when I’d put off or cancel dates because I was on (self-imposed at the time) deadline). Also complicating matters was that I have bipolar disorder with hypomania, which went undiagnosed for the first decade of our marriage. It’s the hypomania that was the big problem as I would pile up huge amounts of work and then spend my life moving at a thousand miles an hour wrapping up everything to hit my deadlines. And I always hit my deadlines. In the beginning, I’d try to bring my wife (who isn’t a reader) into the process by reading my work out loud to her (she enjoyed being read to). However, this proved a short lived experiment as I tended to draw a lot from real life to a point where it made her uncomfortable. Ironically, she recently went through a writing workshop with me and wrote a poignant piece that drew incredibly on her real life, so she gets that piece of it now. Also, we had kids pretty early into our marriage. I believed two things: I wasn’t going to get as much work as I would have liked done and kids wouldn’t understand the closed door of “daddy’s working”. The reality was that I produced more words than I ever had before, just in shorter chunks as I was blogging up to six times a day (thousand plus word pieces typically). And the kids amused each other all I had to do was be in the room. If my wife was home and I was sequestered away writing, I had an open-door policy where anyone could interrupt to chat with me. These strategies were okay, but far from perfect. There came a tipping point where I had to either change how I did things or lose everything. So I reprioritized my life around my family rather than the writing. Ironically, I ended up producing more this way. My family got the “best” slice of my time rather than my leftovers. My writing schedule was shaped around them and their hours. So I wrote either before they got up or after they went to bed or while I was at work (more on this later). On weekends, my wife would take the boys on “adventures” so that I could have Saturday afternoons to write. [Also, real money started coming in for my efforts. This alleviated much of the tension.] This strategy I call “Bring Them on Board.” Meaning, there was a family meeting where I wanted their input on how best to carve out my time with them to accommodate my writing. They came up with that schedule. This strategy has continued to evolve and broaden. My wife in a lot of ways has become my business manager. She tracks the money (who owes me what and how much) and I run potential jobs/events by her so she can ask the question “is what [I am] being paid worth the time spent away from family?” We use Google calendar as a diagnostic tool to measure the state of my hypomania (all my deadlines and meetings are calandered and color coordinated so when my schedule vomits the rainbow, we can see that I’m ramping up). She also helps me throw my writing convention, Mo*Con. As far as a day job goes, when I have one (and I currently do as a middle school teacher…ironically, this happened because the school so loved me as a sub when I was shadowing my kids through school) I do most of my writing there. It started when I worked for two and a half years in a sales job (my first 9-5 gig). My manager and I came to an agreement that I would use my breaks and lunch to write. So I’d plan my writing the night before then hit the ground running during those times. Basically, I learned to do writing “sprints.” It so changed my method and output, I’ve kept it up ever since. My oldest son sometimes “agents” me, negotiating my appearance fees since it involves them taking me away from him. My youngest often claims that he’s giving me space to write, which is usually code for “I’ll be playing video games.” But I would go to their schools to do talks or run workshops/residencies or substitute teach to spend more time together. I would work them into projects (my middle grade detective novel series is basically a chronicle of my kids’ antics in school). I recently worked my youngest’s videogame playing into a story as we played games together and called it “research.” And, when possible, the family goes to cons with me (me and the boys did a “guys road trip” to one of my speaking engagements and my wife went on a cruise with me where I was teaching. Again, nothing like her enjoying cruise life to relieve tensions and for her to encourage me to write more so we can do that again).
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Maurice: Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Maurice: These days, jazz. Bitches Brew (Miles Davis) is getting me through my space opera.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Maurice: 6 months
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Maurice: I write longhand.
How many books have you written?
Maurice: Twenty. Have 12 published.
What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?
Maurice: People. My neighbors in community mostly.
What have you found to be the best marketing practices for your books to the black community?
Maurice: Working in the community
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
Maurice: A play for the Indiana Repertory Theater, work for Dungeon & Dragons, a Black Panther short story. Unfadeable, my second middle grade book. Sweep of Stars, book one of my Afrofuturist space trilogy.
Thank you Maurice, for your time. How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Greetings and Salutations! The John F. Allen Author Online Store is Officially Open!
Effective immediately and just in time for the holidays, anyone interested in purchasing books from me directly, can use the NEW John F. Allen Author Online Store to do so!
The Online Store allows you to choose from any of my titles, get them with personalized signatures and mailed directly to your door! Credit card transactions are processed through PayPal and fulfilled by me personally. Payment, postage, and label printing are all automated.
This site sells physical book ONLY. Should you desire to purchase an eBook, please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo at the links provided below. Simply click the eBook provider of your choice.
COMING SOON: Author exclusive products! Stay tuned to my Facebook page for details!
Books make TERRIFIC holiday gifts and Fantastic stocking stuffers!
The NEW Online Store will make personalized book mailings easier and much more efficient.
With the Holiday Season just around the corner, I thought I’d share some Popular Holiday Gifts Ideas for that special author on your list!
1. BUY THEIR BOOKS!
It might seem obvious, but just purchasing an author’s book(s) is a gift in and of itself. It helps to compensate them for their hard work. Look for their latest releases and snatch them up. Continuous compensation for their compositions keeps authors composing! And, as an added bonus, give their books out as gifts to others during the holiday season. Books ALWAYS make EXCELLENT stocking stuffers!
2. CHECK THEIR EVENTS!
So, checking an author’s Events Calendar is a good way to see where they’re scheduled to appear, and you can go meet them and get your picture taken with them while giving them gift number one on this list! Visit the author’s website or the publisher’s website and you should find an Events Calendar there. I mean, who wouldn’t like to have a SIGNED COPY of their book, right?
3. GIVE THEM LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Do a Google search or if you’re already on your favorite social media platform, seek them out and give your favorite author a follow/like! It won’t cost you a dime and the more followers/likes an author has, the more traffic they’re likely to get to their social media platforms, which translates into more potential buyers of their books! Plus, following your favorite authors helps you develop a relationship with them and interact on their posts. This could even net you exclusive bonus content that other folks won’t get. So, follow them on Facebook and/or like their author page, follow them on Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest. And while you’re at it, be sure to subscribe to their blog, newsletter and their Amazon Profile. This is the gift that keeps on giving for sure!
4. HYPE THEM UP!
Now that you’re following them on social media, share their tweets, Facebook posts, etc. In fact, why not tweet or post your reaction to their book(s)? If their latest novel was a must read, then SPREAD THE WORD! Encourage your fellow readers to go out and pick up their copy. And, if you’re feeling uber generous, go all out and support their Kickstarter/Go Fund Me, etc.
5. POST REVIEWS!
When you read an author’s book, they really would appreciate it if you let them know what your thoughts on it was. This is helpful for various reasons including: general feedback for improvement, knowing what you liked about their work. Knowing what their readers think of their work can be rewarding. The best places to leave reviews are on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Also, your review doesn’t have to be like the ones written by professionals, and it doesn’t have to contain a great amount of details either. Just be honest and let them know what your genuine thoughts are. Mention what you liked, how those things made you feel and if it triggered any memories or stirred any thoughts. When other visitors to Amazon and/or Goodreads see the reviews an author has, it often helps them to decide on purchasing the author’s work for themselves.
Regardless of what gift you decide to give, just be sure to give from the heart. Every little bit helps and the author on your list will truly appreciate the effort. Spreading a little holiday cheer with a good review and helping to share the love, because SHARING IS CARING!