What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
My recently released book of daily affirmations for single mothers is titled “Everyday Single Mom – Life and Dating Inspirations.” It contains one inspiration per page for every day of the year… with a daily dose of soulful spirituality, tips to raise your kids with care, advice on romance and relationships, keys to unlock your creativity, encouragement to manifest your destiny, a bit of poetry and the essence of love. It’s 400 pages long (to include the 365 one-page inspirations for every day of the year), and its retail price is $20.99.
Tell us something about yourself.
After being a straight-A student to get my master’s degree in electrical engineering, I moved out to Los Angeles and helped an aerospace corporation design satellite antennas for three years. At that point, after being in the film “Get Shorty,” I decided to make a leap of faith towards my passions and aspirations in life… and started writing screenplays. Since leaving engineering in 1995, I’ve now written 10 screenplays, but an agent told me that publishing a book was far easier than selling a screenplay so I wrote “Everyday Single Mom,” met an author who referred me to her publisher, submitted the book proposal and received a book contract a month later. Nowadays, my days are packed with playing percussion in a gospel group, writing another book of daily affirmations and promoting “Everyday Single Mom.” It truly feels superb to be manifesting my destiny on a moment-to-moment basis!
What inspired you to write this book?
First of all, I was raised by one of the best single moms around (and “Everyday Single Mom” is dedicated to her), but also, a single mother asked what I was writing about two years ago and suggested I write a book for women like her – single moms – which was the inspiration necessary to proceed forward. It’s been an honor to write something so uplifting that women have even had tears of joy when I’ve read to them their birthday’s one-page inspiration. The response has been truly fabulous.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
As I mentioned before, I met an author for Tate Publishing, and she told me that they will read unagented submissions. Being that I didn’t have an agent, it seemed like the perfect opportunity because over the years of trying to get an agent for my books and screenplays, I’ve had little luck with sending out query letters. Fortunately, Tate Publishing liked my book proposal for “Everyday Single Mom” and sent me a contract a month after my submission. They have an excellent distributor in Ingram, and my book is available in all major bookstores as well as on Amazon and my publisher-hosted website.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I got started writing when I was an electrical engineer. It started off as writing emails back-and-forth with an old college chum, and we thought our emails would make a great book. Soon, I found a creative outlet that I was passionate about doing… so after helping my company win a billion dollar satellite contract and not receiving much of a raise, I decided that since I was young, single and without children, it was the perfect time to make the leap of faith necessary to hone my craft full-time and pursue my dreams and aspirations. That whole journey started back in 1993, and it’s one with no regrets.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Actually, the writing part of it is relatively easy to me… it’s the finding someone to represent you or to release your writing that is the hard part. While the blank page is often daunting, the blank contact list is even more frustrating. And even after you finish writing, you still have to go out and let the world know that your book or screenplay exists… so the selling is actually the hardest part of writing.
How do you do research for your books?
For “Everyday Single Mom,” I spoke with my single mother at length and truly listened to her responses. Also though, as a single male 41 year old, I meet quite a few single moms and pay attention to what they have to say. Whenever someone said something that helped the book along, I remembered it and wrote it into the manuscript at a later time. Truly, a lot of my research comes from living a robust life… as you should write what you know… so the more you play a part in the game of life, the more material you have to write from. Sometimes, writing feels like being an uncover cop in you’re paying attention to everything people say and do and taking notes when the moment is appropriate. Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, “You have to live life in order to express it,” and I truly feel that that is completely accurate when it comes to any creative pursuit.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
I learned to be much more compassionate towards all the single mothers I encounter. I’ve become much more understanding towards the problems they face and try to help in any way I can.
What are you reading now?
The current book I’m reading is titled: “Guerilla Publicity” by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, and Jill Lublin. It’s helping me to become a savvier seller of “Everyday Single Mom” and a better promoter of all my creative endeavors.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I think the science fiction series called “DUNE” was what truly helped me want to become an author myself; thus, I love Frank Herbert’s work… and then the fine job his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have done to carry the series along. Whenever a new DUNE book comes out, I always go to the bookstore and purchase it in hardcover. However, I also love Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and its sequel “Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.” I think I’ve read ZAMM over a dozen times and learn something new each time I do.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
With the successful response I’ve received from the daily affirmation format of “Everyday Single Mom,” I’ve decided to keep writing books of daily inspirations. This time along, I’m expanding my audience by writing a book of daily ideas for thrifty living. What I do is handwrite all the one-page inspirations into a day journal (so the length of the page keeps me concise) and then transcribe them into a Word file for later submission to the publisher. There’s something very romantic about handwriting a book, like I did for “Everyday Single Mom,” and it encourages writing by candlelit with some good music to help inspire the inspirations contained within.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
When I met the authors for the DUNE series, I asked them to help me get an agent, and they politely told me to keep writing… that I’d eventually write something that a publisher did like. In other words, a writer writes…. and you need to ask yourself: “Am I a writer or am I just writing?” Being an author takes lots of networking, promotion, shaking hands, meeting people, making contacts… not just writing. There are many hats you have to wear… so make sure to wear them well!
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I’ve been on TV once and radio over 20 times since “Everyday Single Mom” got released in December of 2009. I also receive PR leads 4 times a day from various sources, and I hand out business cards with my book and website often. I always keep a good supply of business cards on me, and if I see a TV news truck waiting to do a live report, I go stop and introduce myself. You have to promote your product, and the media is an excellent source of free publicity (as compared with advertising that you pay for yourself). Never give up, people will respect the fact that you’ve published a book… and many opportunities may arise because of it.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Readers can go to my website – briankshell.tatepublishing.net – to read excerpts of “Everyday Single Mom,” see my live TV interview here in Detroit, read my bio, see photos of me and the cover art which took me a week to draw. It’s a book for one and all… not just single moms… so if you’re in need of a daily dose of positive inspiration, think about giving “Everyday Single Mom” a try.