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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Awesome Authors: Frank Cole

I've recently become part of the new group blog, Man Cave Authors.

Although I've featured most of the Man Cavers in my Awesome Authors series, there is one notable exception. 

Frank Cole is the author of the popular Hashbrown Winters series for grade school children.  With three Hashbrown books published, he's about to break new ground with a second series geared for older kids. 

His next book The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter is being released this March, and I'm sure it's going to be a success.

Let's find out more about this awesome author now.  Please welcome Frank L. Cole!

Frank, you're already well-known for the Hashbrown Winters series. Your new book, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, is being released in March.  How does it feel to have four books under you belt?

It's really hard to believe I have 4 books published when 2 years ago I had come to the conclusion I may never get published. Everything happened so fast and it just boggles my mind.

Can you tell us a little about The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter?

The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter is a little older than my Hashbrown Winters series and has a lot more action. Here's a very short synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Amber Rawson has a passion for archaeology, with a particular talent for deciphering ancient codes.

So when Dorothy Holcomb, Amber’s beloved archaeology instructor, is kidnapped by a shadowy organization called The Architects, Amber is determined to unravel the mystery. With the help of her sarcastic friend, Trendon, and a slew of other strange clues and peculiar characters, Amber embarks on the hunt for the Tebah Stick; a Biblical artifact capable of global destruction.

That's it in a nutshell. This is probably my favorite book I've written so far and if I had to compare it to something, I'd say it's a little bit Goonies meets Indiana Jones, but definitely not as cool as those two movies. Because, come on, is there anything cooler than Goonies and Indiana Jones?

What made you branch out from your already successful Hashbrown Winters series?

The Guardians was one of those stories that snapped me awake one night and wouldn't let me rest until I finished it. I seriously wrote the whole book in a month.

So, to answer your question, I had to write the story for my family's sanity. There's only so long my wife can take of me clacking away at the computer while my kids run around the house, eating cereal off the floor.

Don't get me wrong, I love Hashbrown, Snow Cone, Whiz, and all the gang and those stories gnawed on my brain as well. I do plan on writing a couple more of his tales in the future, but I wanted to write something bigger and test the waters.

Can you describe your writing process? 

It really depends on when the fever hits. I can play around with ideas and dabble with dialogue and various scenes for stories on any given night and not really accomplish much.

But when a story takes root and I can see all the possibilities unraveling in my head, I seriously become a man possessed. Generally, I try to brain dump as much information as possible down on the page during one sitting without care for grammar, or scene development, or description. Whatever's flowing is what I type.

Then, after a few "brain dump" sessions, I'll go back and try to decipher everything. Some of it stays, but a lot of it is pushed into a miscellaneous junk file from where I can pull stuff from later. My sister calls me a "bleeder". Meaning, I write, edit, write, edit, write, edit until something comes together out of the madness.

What are some challenges you faced on your road to publication?

I think I've been rejected well over 100 times from agents, publishers, family members, strangers.  You name it and they've rejected me. Granted, most of my rejections came from the first novel I wrote called The Gothian Box, which deserved every single rejection it received and then some.

Probably the biggest challenge I've faced with publication is marketing my books after they're in print. That's a tough obstacle involving a ton of time and energy. How does one spread the word to the masses with only a facebook account and a blog? That, my friend, is the million dollar question and I wish I had the answer.

What have you learned about the publishing industry that you didn't know before you got your contract?

Hmmm. I think I've learned there are literally thousands of people trying to get something published and most of them are quality writers with really great ideas. It's intimidating.

I've also learned for most people in the industry (myself included) writing an awesome story is only the beginning. Marketing your project, putting it in people's hands, presenting yourself in as many places possible is the very next step.

You've done a lot of book signings.  What's one memory that stands out from them?

I got yelled at by a 90 year old man who told me kids shouldn't take time to read my garbage. It was my first Costco book signing and the man wanted to know what I was sampling. I handed him a pencil and he broke a tooth on it. (Okay, that last part of him eating the pencil is not true.)

Probably one of my coolest memories happened when I helped out at a Brandon Mull signing. While directing the line, a couple of kids recognized me from presenting at their school and had their mom take a picture of me and sign their books. Yeah, that was cool.

You were recently on ABC4 Good Things Utah.  What was going through your mind before and after the interview?

I was beyond nervous and had less than 24 hours to prepare for it. ABC4 called me on Monday afternoon and I was interviewed the next day. I actually mimicked throwing up in front of the live studio audience, just to ice my nerves. That was good for a laugh.

Afterwards though, I realized it wasn't so bad. I just have to be myself and let things play out the way they're going to play.

[Editor's Note: Vomit is often funny.  The interview was great, and you can watch it at Frank's blog by clicking here.]

What are your future plans?

Always writing. I've almost finished the outline for the second book in the Guardians series and I have some pretty decent ideas for another Hashbrown book as well.

Plus, I just recently finished a first draft of a new teen horror novel. You add that with the constant need to get out to schools and signings and my schedule's pretty full. Oh well, I love it!

Thanks for stopping by, Frank! It was great getting to know more about you, and best of luck with your next book.

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