Born and raised in West Michigan, author Verwayne Greenhoe spent the last seven years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After freezing his keister off, he and his wife moved to Florida in late 2021 to spend more time writing and less time shivering. Author of multiple stories, genres, & formats including 28 Audible books & counting, Greenhoe spends his free time working in his backyard, plotting on where his next story will go.
INTERVIEW WITH VERWAYNE
Can you tell us a little about your background?
Raised on a small dairy farm in west central Michigan, the oldest of six kids, I enjoyed working with the cattle and other animals. I learned to drive a tractor at eight, and was hauling hay and straw in from the fields.
I graduated from high school and went to a small local community college before going to the University of Michigan, where I got a Bachelor’s in Biology and Psychology. I was one of the very first medics/paramedics in Michigan in early 1973.
After several years of that, I spend two years working in the psych ward of one of Michigan’s several prisons. THAT was a learning situation.
I got my nursing license and worked twenty-seven years in the Emergency Room before retiring.
How did you get started as an author?
Working on the farm with my father and grandfather, both of whom were notorious story tellers. I would spend many summer nights after the chores were done, listening to them tell tall tales of things that never happened, and they fascinated me! I began writing at seven. My first story was a total rip-off of the movie, “Bambi,” but I fabricated my wild tales in the fashion I had heard them told at the feet of my dad and grandpa as I got older.
Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?
My latest complete story was also based on my childhood. While my father was a loving man, my mother was not. Due to head injuries she sustained as a teen, mom was never right. She spent more time screaming at her children than she did anything else. While she was an equal opportunity abuser, mom had a thing for me in particular. She would beat me (not discipline… she BEAT me) nearly every day of my youth. Sixty years later, I still bear the visible scars of her beatings.
“I Hate My Mother” is the story of how I came to forgive her and then learned to forgive myself. It was a personal nightmare reliving those days, but by the time I was done, I found the peace I had been seeking all of my life.
How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?
Writing comes to me as easy as breathing. It is medicine for my mind. The signature line of my email account reads:
Writing is the only thing that I don’t feel I should be doing something else when I do it.
I will sit down in the morning and work on whatever project I was thinking about in my sleep. Most days, I will get 300 to 1500 words done in the morning and another 300 to 1500 in the evening.
I keep a list of possible story ideas in my email drafts, and a quick look shows me I have at least seventy-five stories I could write. Since Amazon came out with their Vella platform, I have been using it versus finishing a story and then uploading it.
Vella allows writers to serialize their stories in 600-5000 word episodes. I have found the best method is to upload at least three to five new episodes every week. I currently have five Vella projects in motion – two active and the other three are at least once every seven to ten days. Doing this allows me to avoid the dreaded *writer’s block.* Sometimes, you can be stymied on one project, but my brain is always ready to go on a different project.
Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?
“I Hate My Mother” presented an unusual problem for me. I’ve worked as a medic, and I saw a lot of horrific stuff with no problems, but emotionally reliving the hatred, filthy language, emotional beat downs, and the physical injuries caused me to have terrible nightmares which did not stop until that story was done.
How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?
I model my characters after people I know. If I am basing it on my nephew, *Jim,* that character will look like Jim, act like Jim, and react like Jim. My *bad man* characters are based on men I met while working on the prison. I do the same thing with my female characters. The story plots are based on things I read about, things I witnessed, or things that came to me in a dream.
Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?
Most of my stories are based on things I know about and have experienced, thus requiring very little research. But…
I am currently writing a Vella project about the Singularity, the concept that humans and computers will become a single type unit. I did tons of research, but could not find much valid information… until I tried the ChatGPT bots.
After I learned to properly talk to them and ask the right questions, my bot (I named it George!) spat out mountains of information I wasn’t finding anywhere else. In a single one hour chat with George, he gave me over 6500 words of information of how a Singularity unit could go rogue and, after lecturing me about me using any information he was giving me could be “evil,” he began to spit out how a human could cause this to happen.
This Vella is going to be a challenge, but once the foundation of the story is laid in, George and I have it covered.
How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?
Writer’s block is a very rare thing for me, but there are days when I just can’t get started. Those days are rare, but I have learned to get up, go outside and work in the yard. My body might be busy, but my brain is perking and fighting with itself, and when my next possible writing slot comes available, I am on it. The longest it has ever sidelined me with “block” is six days… the longest two months of my life! LOL.
Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?
As mentioned above, I have my sci-fi Vella story, “Trouble in The Singularity” started with about ~3000 words. It is cooking as I work to explain how the error that occurs in 2035 will affect this Singularity unit to go rogue in 2089.
I also have a steady Vella titled , “Dealing With Grief.” As a medic and then an ER nurse, I have seen more than my share of grief, up close and personal.
Another Vella project is titled, “How I Keep Smiling in A World That Isn’t.” My dad always called me his kid that was always looking in the horse manure for the pony. (There’s a joke that goes with that name!) With all the horse manure life throws at me, I still keep smiling because there is nothing I can gain by crying about it.
I have another dystopian political Vella titled, “The American Storm.” Oddly enough, the man running a site that took over when Matt Drudge sold his site picked it up. I got a Twitter message from him a few weeks back that he had started reading the story, and had linked it on his site. Depending on what device you use, it is in the middle column at the bottom or the very bottom if using a cell phone. Check it out at Rantingly dot com.
One of my other Vella projects I sat aside when “I Hate My Mother” took off is titled, “A Knock On The Door.” It is a series of Twilight Zone type stories that have the phrase, “There was a knock on the door” in them some place. That line is from the 1948 “flash fiction” story, “Knock” by Fredric Brown. That entire story read: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” I found it intriguing, and I am about to pick that Vella up and run with it again until something big hits me again.
Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?
Angela Hoy published my first paperback at her company, Book Locker dot com. I was new to the game, and I wanted to see how a pro did it. Angela is the definition of pro, and while I do my publishing right now, Angela is still friends with me on FB.
Since then, my association with a publishing group has been the Fresh Ink Group at Freshinkgroup dot com. Stephen Geez and Beem Weeks, the two men who run the place are both extremely professional, and I consider them both friends. They have been beyond helpful to me in my efforts, and I can not thank them enough.
How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?
LOL. Writing is like breathing to me. Consider it like a cocaine habit gone good. If I am not feeling good, I write. If I am upset or angry about something, I write. If I am happy, I write.
You get the idea.
Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?
I rarely write for a message, but I have written a story on child abuse that was not based on my physical abuse, but on the abuse I had seen as a medic and working in the ER. Child and spousal abuse is rampant, and growing every day.
How do you market your book and connect with readers?
I do my best to be a modern day PT Barnum, “This way to the egress!” on Twitter and FB. I develop a series of tweets that promote the same story, but spelled out differently. On my computer, I have at least thirty different tweets promoting my better-selling stories. Twitter is the best so far because I have found that if you aren’t paying FB to promote your material, they throw shade on it.
The Fresh Ink Group made a nice video trailer for “I Hate My Mother,” and it has been helpful in drawing attention to the story. I include my email in every story, and it is remarkable how many emails I get about various stories.
Can you share any advice for aspiring authors on how to get published?
Keep at it. Don’t stop. Bounce your material off people who have the courage to tell you, “This sucks! Fix it!” If all your beta readers tell you is “This is great!” find new beta readers.
The odds of getting a professional contract are two: Little and none. I think most people would be more likely to win a few million dollars in the lottery than getting a professional contract. It’s nice to dream about, but the reality of the situation is to find a reliable company to help you edit your material and then get it to the market.
The two companies I listed above, FreshInkGroup dot com and Book Locker dot com, are the two companies I would recommend to my friends. Neither company knows I am saying this, but there are dozens and dozens of companies that will promise you the moon, but will deliver nothing but the stuff I used to scoop out of the gutters in the dairy barn. I know the people behind both companies well enough to tell people I trust them.
Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?
Oh, my! I love to write murder stories! As a medic, I was at more murder scenes than I can remember! I also have written two romance stories that have done very well, with the last one, “Finding Myself Again,” doing exceptionally well. When asked about the disparity between the two genres, I tell people, romance can lead to murder, so it’s only natural!
I have written stories about handling grief based on personal experiences. I did a story about growing up with my father (Things My Father Taught Me – Lessons In Life) as a role model. I’ve written a children’s story based on my grandson, (Johnny Robot – Space Alien), and several other genres.
My plans include a series of romance stories to be posted on the Vella platform, tentatively titled, “Midlife Romances – The Series.” I have the template Vella uses set up, but I’ve had a few things going on in my personal life that have slowed the actually writing of those stories. I expect by early April, I will have multiple episodes posted, with others to follow steadily.
Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?
I wrote this several years ago for this same question:
Someone recently asked who had ‘influenced’ my writing style. From youth on up, I’d say it was Truman Capote, Dorothy Parker, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, and Stephen King. Capote and King taught me story arcs, Hemingway and Wolfe taught me color, while Parker taught me humor.
Can you share any experiences you have had with book clubs or other reader groups?
I had an unpleasant experience with one group that I have since washed from my memory. Their goals were much different from mine. Since then, I found the FreshInkGroup, and I am happy and grateful with and for everything they have done for me and all of my author friends. Check them out at the dot com site of the same name.
How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?
I always tell people, “You can’t hurt my feelings because I have already looked in the mirror this morning.”
I have gotten a few bad ratings that bothered me until I realized what I had done. When I attempted to make a few minor changes to about a dozen stories, I uploaded the wrong version of the story. Those first/second drafts got some sharply worded comments, but they taught me something. I deserved them because I made a dreadful mistake.
If you write multiple stories as I have done, put each one in a separate folder. Once you are done with the story, delete every other copy of the story after you are done. Keep only the final copy and upload the document, cover, and anything else related to that story to a place like Dropbox dot com to make sure a computer crash doesn’t make it go bye-bye.
Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?
I have done several book signings that were good and one that was bad. It happens. Keep doing them. I have a small one in my local library this weekend.
Avoid the places that promise you to “reach thirteen gazillion readers” in a week or less! There are one or two good ones, but there are thousands of bad ones. Find a group of like-minded authors and work with them to promote each other. My promotion of my friend’s cop/murder story does not hurt my sales of my romance story.
Stick with a group that stands behind you and supports you. It can be a rough and tumble situation. Find solace with a group that supports you. You support your friends, and your friends will support YOU!
Can you talk about any challenges you faced during the publishing process?
If you are a self-publishing author, and there are thousands of you out there, the big problem I have found is making an eye-catching cover. My partner that used to make my covers died of Covid in September 2020. If you are in a group, as I mentioned above, there will always be someone who can make a nice cover without taking your first two years of earnings.
How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?
I’m retired. Writing keeps my mind perking and happy. I have a wonderful wife who understands the two to three hours a day I spend at my desk writing makes me much easier to deal with later in the day!
I WANT to write daily, but I understand I owe her a fair portion of my time. No one lives forever, and you need to remember the time you spend talking and laughing with your loved ones is always more profitable than any time you spend writing. My wife improves my life and worth living. Every single day, I am thankful for her being with me.
ABOUT FINDING MYSELF AGAIN
A Lonely Man Finds Love Again
After forty-seven years of a great relationship, courtship, and marriage, the author found himself alone. His wife had struggled with a rough fight with dementia. Suddenly, she took a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse, leaving him alone for the first time in his adult life. He was sixty-four at the time but felt more like he was forty physically and ninety-five emotionally.
For over a year, he had tried to go forward with his life, but when he was alone at night, his heart’s emptiness reminded him that he needed someone to fill the ache inside him.
Loneliness is a killer, and he was dying from grief. He was dying inside because he had never been alone in his life. He told himself that he would be alright, but he wasn’t and was fading fast.
Then he found Heather. They were two souls drifting in a sea of loneliness and grief that found one another amid a building storm. Is she the one that can pull him out of an escalating depression?