Mark Barie’s debut novel, “War Calls, Love Cries” is about a farm boy from upstate New York whose dreams are shattered when the Civil War erupts. The book won a 2019 Gold Medal in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards and was a Finalist in the 2019 Eric Hoffer Award for Historical Fiction.
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I am a native of upstate New York with a master’s degree in business and then some. I am now a full-time resident of Sebring, Florida, having retired from owning a number of consulting companies over my 30+ year career as a business person.
What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
My wife, who is an expert genealogist, came into the living room one day and announced that my great great grandfather fought in the Civil War. When I found a three-year diary of a man who served in the same regiment, the idea for the book was born. It was my first attempt at historical fiction and I had a blast writing it. I have previously authored two biographies and co-authored two local history books and frankly was tired of footnotes. Historical fiction requires you to be accurate but not to document every single thing.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
The biggest challenge with authoring a book is the marketing, but I feel that I have an advantage over most authors in that I have an extensive background in business. My marketing thus far has consisted of speaking events, Facebook, and author page, and A growing email list.
What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
The biggest success thus far has been the FAPA gold medal for Historical Fiction and being a finalist in the Eric Hoffer competition, a very prestigious honor. For me those awards were important because it meant that someone other than my friends and family thought the book was good. I needed that affirmation.
What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
You may not believe this but I very rarely read fiction. Instead I read history books. Tons of them. I’ve already decided what my third fourth and fifth novels will be about…All with the theme of love and war… My current one just finished but still being edited takes place during the American revolutionary war. My third one, being outlined, takes place during the war of 1812. And unfortunately, mankind has given me plenty of wars to write about.
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
I do not write every single day but I do something every single day to further my career as an author. I either write, or do some research or do marketing. Every single day. It is a good habit to get into.
What are your interests outside of writing?
I play the guitar, I have a couple of dozen bonsai pots on my lanai, I do some woodworking with a mini lathe. (I’m Trying to make a chess set… So far, I have murdered 7 pawns.)
I also have four adult children three grandchildren and an absolutely marvelous wife and all of them keep me very busy.
Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
I have written and published a series of columns on writing tips for first time authors.
Number one: finish the book you’re working on. The combination of marriage, kids, a job, and the normal pressures of day-to-day life impede if not stop entirely an author’s progress on his or her first book. Nothing can or will happen until you finish the book.
Second, find a publisher. If you insist on a traditional publisher versus a hybrid publisher, (where you will pay for a portion of the publisher’s professional services but receive a significantly higher royalty), it may be a long wait. Most new authors are reduced to finding an agent who may or may not be able to find a traditional publisher. Consider a hybrid publisher.
Edit your book. So many authors refuse to pay a professional editor preferring to do it themselves or calling their friend the English teacher. More often than not this is a mistake. Even the best editor will miss the occasional typo. Amateurs will miss too many mistakes and the result will be that both the publisher and the reader will be turned off.
Market your book. Speaking in public, social media, direct mail, advertising, Book Fairs, and a good Email List are the necessary evils of most authors. Many times, such endeavors are so far removed from the authors comfort zone, that little or nothing is done in this regard. But marketing is our first and most important job.
Get rid of the self-doubt. Too many authors are intimidated if not openly frightened by the apparent success of their fellow authors, the myriad of rules that new authors are instructed to follow, and the seemingly impossible task of getting their book noticed when anywhere from 600,000 to 1,000,000 new books are published each year in the United States. That fact alone has silenced the pen of too many authors. The answer to this challenge, not unlike any other challenge in life, is the same. Welcome adversity, practice patience, be persistent, work smart not hard, and along the way help other authors. And remember, each time you fail, you are that much closer to your next success.