Meet My Publishers

LeRue Press
For authors we provide complete publishing services whether you have already published a book or are just starting out. For businesses, we offer commercial printing and business support services whether you're a one man show or a large corporation. Publisher of Force Ten: Doubling the Penny. Visit the LeRue website.

Moonshine Cove Publishing
publishes books, both fiction and nonfiction, that people want to read, books that beckon you to take them from the shelf and start reading. We are a small independent publisher based in the Appalachian foothills region of South Carolina. Publisher of Force Ten: Doubling the Penny. Visit the Moonshine Cove Publishing website.

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Get to know me a bit better through the frequently asked questions listed below. Is there a question you’d like to ask? Send me an email at mark@markshaff.com with your questions, comments or feedback.

What is your writing process?

I just write. I don’t outline or storyboard. For me the process is “organic.” You like that word? Now I do create a time line so that I can keep dates and the ages of my characters straight. My process is like riding a wave; I ride that sucker for as long as I can. When it peters out I drop down on my board and paddle back out. For me that means going back to the beginning, reading, making changes and then take off on the next wave.

Where do you write?

I have an office at home, small and private. I like to be surrounded by my stuff and have it in close proximity. Stephen King has a great book: On Writing.

Do you write on a schedule?

Yes and No. When I am in a good groove I try and write everyday. Depending on my day job that can, at times, be an issue. The other thing is I HAVE to write in the morning, if I don’t start before 10 or 11, no writing that day. It’s a brain thing. Mine, at least the writing/creative part shuts down about lunchtime. I also don’t have a word limit. I know that there is a school of thought that says try and write 5000 words a day. Me, I write until I run out of stuff to write about.

What is the biggest mistake you think aspiring authors make?

Believing that their manuscript is publish-ready. I’m talking about when you, the writer, are done with it and perhaps someone you know has helped you edit it, but before you have sought outside help.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Editor, Editor, Editor!! I need to qualify this though. In order for the editing process to work, for you, as the writer, to get the biggest bang for you buck, you MUST find an editor that your writing, your personality, and your end goals gel with. Do not assume that an editor is an editor is an editor. NOT TRUE!!

How do you develop your characters?

Write what you know. I base my characters on versions and personality traits of people I know. For example I might pull from several people I know to build a personality for one character. I also do the alter-ego thing—where I attribute traits to my characters that I imagine people (sometimes myself) have.

What is the most important thing that you as a writer try to do for your reader?

In a word: TRUST. You have to learn to trust your reader. Paint in broad strokes and let the reader provide the intricate detail. There is a fine line between guiding your reader and dragging them around by the nose. One works the other is guaranteed to get your book tossed.

What is your goal as a writer?

I want to be a best selling author. But more than that I want to:

  1. Produce successive best selling work.
  2. Sell 10s of thousands of copies

iii. Pack book signings.

  1. Schedule speaking engagements.
  2. Make enough money to quit my day job.

Not asking too much? Ya think?

How do you select the names of your characters?

For me picking character names is all about how they sound, if the names roles of the tongue, that’s important. Also does the name sound “cool?”

Do you hide “gems” in your books that are only for a few people?

YES! For me it is one of the great joys of writing when I can put something in my book that only a very people will get. It is how I pay back all those who support my writing.

What are the hardest scenes to write?

Sex. If I was writing erotica/romance I think that I would be fine, but when you are writing in a genre where sex is NOT the focal point these scenes require a lot of finesse it’s harder. It’s what you DON’T say that is important. I also have to be aware when a scene as a lot of swear words, especially the “F” word. My editor says that when you use strong language it “has to mean something.” If it doesn’t there is probably a better word.

What is the best way to market your books?

Now that is the million-dollar question. I don’t know. But this is the avenue that my team and I have chosen. The key to marketing is to put together a team of professionals to help. You CAN’T DO IT ALONE!

Where do you find your story lines?

I find story lines all around me. Just listen to the news. Everyday there are numerous events that could be expounded on in terms of creating a work of fiction. I like to write in real-time and use current political and social situations in the creation of my story lines. It’s that, “you can’t make this stuff up.”

On average, how long does it take you to write a book?

This is a loaded question. The writing is the easy part. The harder part is taking a book I’ve written and progressing to the level where it publish-ready. So to answer the question: I can write a workable draft in 6-12 months. However, the process of getting it publish-ready is dependent on factors and time-lines that are largely outside of my control. My experience is that once I have my working draft, I’m looking a least one-year (probably more) before the book is ready for publishing.

Who is your publisher? Would you recommend them?

LeRue Press. Jan, Lenore and Kathy, these ladies are great, professional, interested and above all patient. They are a family run business and take a personal interest in their clients. As a small press, they don’t make any money unless I go out and sell books. It is a big leap of faith and trust for us all. My first publisher was in South Carolina, and they did a great job with Redemption Road. When the second novel, Force Ten: Doubling the Penny was ready, I was fortunate to find (and be found) by a local publisher. I can’t tell how great it is to be able to have face-to-face conversations.

How did you find a publisher?

After trying to get an agent and spending over a year, trying to get my first novel, Redemption Road conventionally published, I submitted to several small/boutique press firms. For my second novel, Force Ten: Doubling the Penny, I also went with a small press, but a larger more sophisticated firm than my first novel.

Who designed your website?

Troy Arnold of Social Digita is the design, branding, marketing and programming wizard behind the scenes. Social Digita specializes in small to medium business branding, social media, website and collateral media design. If you don’t know what you need he and his team can advise you in all aspects of your business. Give him a call at (775) 378-5694. I highly recommend him.