Visit with R. Scott Mackey author of the Ray Courage Mystery Series
At your website you mention your timetable for Courage Lies Beneath and that you are starting book five in the series. Do you overlap writing on a new book with editing and production of the last book?
Since releasing Courage Matters a year ago I’ve had two books in some form of writing/editing stage, while the already released books are getting my marketing and promotional attention. Courage Lies Beneath just finished the Beta Reader stage and has been sent off to my editor. That followed a first draft and three revisions on my part. I’m starting to outline the as-yet-untitled fifth book in the series, with the goal of releasing it in early 2016. I’m hoping the success of Courage Resurrected will keep building a big market for these upcoming books.
Since you write mysteries… do you start with the method of the death, the proof that gets the murderer caught, or maybe with the victim first? How do you construct the puzzle portion?
With Courage Resurrected, I started with a big “what if.” What if Ray’s wife didn’t die 13 years before? From there I ask myself a series of questions: Why didn’t she die? How could that be possible? Why would she not contact her husband? And so on.
When did you get to the point that you called yourself a writer out loud?
Back in 1995, when my non-fiction book “Barbary Baseball” was purchased by McFarland Publishing. My first novel, a YA mystery was purchased two years after that. After a hiatus to raise kids, coach sports teams, and teach college, I’ve returned to writing. The Indie route is perfect for me because I feel more control of the process from book concept, through cover design, and marketing.
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What does a successful writing career mean to you?
At this stage in my career, I don’t care a lot about the money. For me, success is that I’m writing quality books that readers enjoy. Reader feedback–whether that’s in reviews on Amazon and other website or e-mails to me–is the most gratifying thing to me. It’s how I measure whether I’m a successful writer or not. The response to the first three books –Courage Begins, Courage Matters, and Courage Resurrected–has exceeded my expectations. That’s gratifying.
Do you have a writing routine?
I try to write everyday in my office, starting right after breakfast. When I’m in full-on manuscript writing mode I give myself a daily word count goal so that meet my self-defined deadline for completing the first draft.
Do you give yourself word count, chapter, or page goals for your projects?
My novels run about 65,000 to 70,000 words. With some of the concepts I have for upcoming books in the Ray Courage series, this might go up a bit closer to 75,000 words or more.
What was the hardest scene to write in Courage Resurrected?
The Prologue. It’s told from Ray’s wife’s perspective thirteen years before the events in the first chapter start. It was difficult because I needed to give away just enough to set the stage for the book without giving away too much so that the reader could put things together right away. I think I found the right balance.
Name some of your favorite books about writing:
Stephen King’s “On Writing.” It’s both a writing memoir and a how to.
Do you read your reviews? Why or why not…
I absolutely read my reviews. They let me know if I’m hitting the mark with my writing or not. Some reviews you have to take with a grain of salt, but usually certain themes and threads emerge about what worked or didn’t in a book.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard/been given about writing?
Going back to Stephen King’s writing book: just write.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard/been given about book marketing?
When I started Indie publishing with the release of Courage Matters, I had no idea at all about how to market my books. I’d say the best advice I’ve heard is the importance of building your e-mail list so that you can have direct contact with your readers and not have to rely on a third-party (Facebook, Amazon, and so on) to reach them.
I see you run some of your own contests and you have a mailing list at your website. How pleased are you with these marketing programs. How much time to you spend on them?
I try to automate as much of that as I can by using Rafflecopter for my contests along with websites that will promote my contests and giveaways to multiple promo sites. Even so, I spend a lot of time on marketing. My background is in marketing and PR so I don’t mind doing it. I do mind that it cuts into my writing time.
Do you have a written business plan for your series / writing career? If so, how often to you update or revise it?
I have a plan to produce 2-3 novels a year, but it’s not written down. As I’ve learned the Indie publishing business in the last 14 months or so I’ve evolved my thinking, especially as it comes to marketing. I have a written six-month marketing plan (through the end of 2015). It’s a living document and I tweak it every week as I find out what works, what doesn’t, and as new opportunities arise.
How do you divide your time per book:
_15_% research, _25_ % writing, _20_% editing, _40_% marketing
About the Book
Ray Courage’s wife Pam died thirteen years before in a car accident. Or did she? Ray’s world is turned upside down when he receives a series of e-mails from someone claiming to be his dead wife, accusing him of attempting to kill her and vowing revenge. Ray sets out to find the identity of the e-mailer only to discover the circumstances of his wife’s apparent death appear to be all but accidental.
Soon Police Detective Carla Thurber comes to suspect Ray of killing his wife, and of a subsequent murder of Pam’s confidant. Meanwhile, a murderous predator who does not want the facts of Pam’s death to surface aims to stop Ray. In the greatest challenge of his life, Ray must outrun the police and elude those who are out to kill him as he seeks the truth about his wife’s death.
About the Author
Scott Mackey lives in Northern California, where he writes both fiction and non-fiction. His first book, Barbary Baseball, achieved critical acclaim from baseball historians for its quality research and writing. He followed that with two young adult novels. His popular Ray Courage Mystery Series includes Courage Begins, Courage Matters, and Courage Resurrected. The fourth book in the series, Courage Lies Beneath, is scheduled for release later in 2015.
Scott’s career arc has included stints as a corporate communications manager, college professor, copywriter, bartender, and youth sports coach. In addition to obsessing over punctuation and grammar, he cares about his family (including his dog and cat), the San Francisco Giants, and his rather sad golf game.