Cliff Ball [cliff1974]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
From what I can remember, my parents bought me the whole "Little House on the Prairie" series as my first set of books to read on my own when I was 7 or 8. I don't remember how I began writing, but I do remember being in 5th grade and enjoying writing little short stories for our assignments when the teacher asked us. I wasn't really serious about writing until 8th or 9th grade, when I tried to write near novel sized stories without having much expertise with doing it. My English teachers were always the first, and they complimented me on my writing, even if wasn't all that good at the time.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My favorite genre is science fiction. You can go to http://cliffball.webs.com for my personal website and find links to where you can my blog and learn about what I write on my blogs, which is http://cliff1974.wordpress.com. Also follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/cliff_ball
I currently have six novels:
Out of Time - a science fiction time travel novel
Don't Mess With Earth - alternate history
The Usurper - a political thriller.
Times of Trouble an End Times novel
New Frontier - alt history
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I don't know if I have a creative process. I usually come up with an idea and start writing until I've exhausted the story idea.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
The basic ingredients are plot obviously, along with a beginning, middle, end. There should be a climax, a protagonist, an antagonist, and you have to show and not tell.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I use 3rd person.
What well known writers do you admire most?
I admire Harry Turtledove, S.M. Stirling, Eric Flint, Jules Verne, HG Welles, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins(Left Behind Series).
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
A character has to be near to true life, otherwise I don't think anyone would believe it. In order to create characters, I pay attention to the people around me and try to create basic characters from the people I know or see.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Unfortunately, I'm not
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Deep down, I write for myself. When I write, I feel like I've accomplished something.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Sometimes it can be. If you're mad at something or someone, you can use that to make an antagonist who everyone can hate. If you are unsure about yourself, you can make a character that way or make the main character that way.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Sometimes. It helps a lot when I haven't been too detailed and they think it needs more detail or characterization.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I won 3rd for a short story contest when I was in high school through Creative Writing class. Since then, I've tried the Star Trek New Worlds contests and the Writer's of the Future contest, but haven't gotten anywhere with those. I recently submitted my new self-published novel to the Writer's Digest Contest for self-published books.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I usually do. When I haven't, my story suffers from it.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think I have, but it needs some tweaking.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I don't usually set goals or schedules on my writing, unless I have to write something for a college class.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I do a combo of all the above. I used to have only a typewriter, so I started out writing on paper, correct it, add some pages, and then type it up. I've tried writing it out on paper now that we're in the computer age, but, I found it's just easier to type my stories on Word and correct as I go.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I frequent Facebook, Myspace, Goodreads, and a bunch of other social networking sites that also involve other authors and writers, so that I can share info about my stories.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I'm an Indie author, so I'm doing this myself. When I get more experience and am able to write novels that are 80,000+ words, then I'll send in to traditional publishers.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on an expanded and longer version of Don't Mess With Earth, that I'm giving a new title. Another WIP I'm working on, involves an alternate history where a different President is elected in 1976, has NASA continue with the moon missions. This time, a Moon Base and a Mars Base are established before 1990. The Russians get it into their heads that they want to do something bigger, so they build an interstellar starship. So they do, only for it to go completely wrong outside of the solar system. A hundred years later, the Russians and the US go on a joint interstellar exploration mission, where they come across this long-lost Russian starship....
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Well, read them, see if they make sense to you years later. If they don't, then try to re-write the stuff you wrote, and then see if anyone would be willing to read your writings.