Hi, folks! Today, we’re hosting a quick Q&A with Jelterow McKinnie Jr, the author of The 51st and 52nd States. Click here to check out Jelterow’s books on Amazon, or read on to find out more.
Hi, Jelterow! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work.
Hello, Dane! Thanks for having me on the site! I’m a writer hailing from Port Saint Lucie, Florida, located in The States. I have an amazing wife, three wonderful daughters and one grandson (so far) – God has truly been good to me! I enjoy playing chess and reading scripture.
Which gives you more satisfaction – to write a first draft, or to finish the last round of editing?
Writing the first draft is much more satisfying to me. You know when you get to writing something that the process is write, re-write, write, re-write, and it just goes on and on until you finally wrestle yourself into submission and say this is it – this is the last re-write. That’s the roughest part of it to me and probably to most writers I suppose – the story is never finished, there’s always something else in the back of your mind that you want to tell the reader. That first draft sort of locks you into a story and the amount of re-writing can decrease, unless you decide against the whole thing. I’ve had that occur a couple of times. But, at the end of the day – the first rough draft is a wonderful thing to me.
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
I don’t have any one source of inspiration – so I thank God for every story because He allows me to see something and get these crazy ideas about how that could make a funny story and then the writing starts and we’re off to the races to complete the first rough draft. For instance, I heard a sermon about using your imagination to strengthen your faith and determination to get your prayers answered by Kenneth Copeland and the idea for writing Jairus was born. On another occasion, I was watching the evening news and the reporter was talking about how the migration of people around the globe was for economic purposes and then I said to myself a poor person in France is still a poor person when they move to Italy. In fact, they’re even poorer initially because they don’t have anything at all, and that’s when the idea for writing The 51st and 52nd States dawned on me. It’s amazing – the ideas just surface at various times. However, they are always rooted in something I’ve seen, witnessed, heard, or dreamed about – so to date, every story is in one way or another a form of something the good Lord has allowed me to either experience or be made aware of in some form or fashion.
Pick a random piece of writing that you worked on ages ago and that never saw the light of day. Now tell us about it!
Okay – this is a social fiction work; it’s about a society that eliminates people if they are a burden to society. There’s a professor who’s the main character and he’s teaching a class about the benefits of the society that they’ve been blessed to live in. There are students in his class who’ve suffered the heavy burden of being in such a society – for example, one student lost a brother to the society; he was diagnosed with special needs and various handicaps and as such he was eliminated, put to death, by the society. In fact, the society had an agency like the IRS here in the States except this agency didn’t focus on taxation; instead, they focused on making sure that you were not being a burden on the society by using resources beyond the norm. I think I called the agency something like the Limits of Freedom and the Enforcement Board and the two worked to eliminate (aka kill) any burdensome people from the society. The story progresses with the professor attempting to subtly brainwash the students into appreciating the society as it is. Then, one day, he gets a knock on his door and (you guessed it) is informed that he himself has come up short in his annual review by the Enforcement Board – he’s in violation of the Limits of Freedom and informed that he’s going to be sleeping with the fishes. At this point the story takes on its action elements and the professor ends up joining with a militant group determined to bring about an end to the Limits of Freedom and the Enforcement Board. That was a while ago, I was working on that back around the turn of the century. Oh my, that was a blast from the past!
Do you have a writing routine? If so, can you tell us about it?
Yes, I do. I write the story in the form of outlines. First, I write the major things that I want to happen to tell the story. Then I go back and add more details to the major points of the story. I do this until I have the story and the ideas that I want to convey all written down. Then I add the characters and detail them as needed to tell the story and move the story along. So I end up writing sections of the story under each portion of the outline. Then I move all of the portions over into a new file together to make the story and that’s the completion of the first rough draft. From there, I work on adding other things that have come to my mind during the process and making the reading as enjoyable for the reader as possible. All through the process I pray and thank the Lord for his guidance and direction and favour with the reader. I keep revising and revising and praying and praying until finally I win the wrestling match with myself and conclude that the first rough draft of the story is finished!
What was the last book that you read and what did you think of it?
Star Wars Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno. It was a fun book – I enjoyed it. It showed you the internal battle between Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker – Darth Vader’s battle to emerge as his own person, finally defeating Anakin Skywalker. Vader is sulking and remorseful about his decision to join the Dark Side. Then, ironically, a Jedi helps him to overcome his feelings of remorse about his decision and to joyfully embrace his decision to become a dark lord; that’s when Darth Vader becomes Darth Vader!
Who are some of your favourite unsigned and indie authors?
Trista Russell (author of A Fly on the Wall and many other great books) is one, she writes a book that has several endings depending on the decisions that the reader makes for the main character. The reader can choose to accept or reject the offers like a Choose Your Own Adventure. I was amazed by the amount of time she put into writing the story (it takes what seems like forever with just a regular story) and I can only imagine the time it takes to do all of those different decisions and then blending all those different decisions back into one main story. She’s an amazing author!
Michael Gainer (author of Dumb As Me and many other great books) is another favourite. He does very well in the word of mouth advertising arena and I had the pleasure of meeting him a while back at a community fundraiser for single mothers – he’s a wonderful author and he does a good job of giving the reader a view of the situation from a man’s perspective.
What’s the best bit of writing advice that you’ve ever received?
To keep writing and don’t stop – writers write! It sounds simple, but at times it can be difficult to keep going and that’s when I call to mind that writers write. What do you do when you finish one story? Start writing another one.
Do you work with a publisher? What does the publishing process look like to you?
Praise the Lord, in Jesus’ name – Amazon has a wonderful and simple to use platform for self publishers. You can bring an ebook or now a print copy of your book to market for under $10 dollars – which is great for consumers and authors! The process is straightforward: you upload your manuscript, you design or upload your cover, you select your market, set your price, and you’re done – within 72 hours or less your book is live and the world is reading it!
How do you get the word out about your work?
Praise the good Lord I pray and believe that people are telling other people about the book and that wonderful people such as you take time and interview me for various sites. That’s the bulk of the marketing plan at the moment. I also do promotions and advertising on Amazon Kindle as well as having a presence on Twitter, Goodreads and other such social media sites.
Big thanks to Jelterow McKinnie Jr. for stopping by SocialBookshelves.com. Be sure to click here to check out his books on Amazon or to follow SocialBookshelves.com on Facebook and Twitter for further updates. I’ll see you soon!