Tuesday, March 1, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with R. Lawson, author of The CIA International Thriller Series

R. Lawson is a retired vascular surgeon and served as a captain in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon. With over 120 academic works under his belt, he moved into the fiction genre and began writing thrillers with a focus on terrorism, cyber spying, national security and more.

He hopes that you enjoy his CIA International Intrigue series featuring Biff Roberts, veteran CIA agent, as he travels the globe thwarting threats to the United States and its allies.

His latest books are Existential Threats and The Carrington Prophecy, Book 4 & 5 in The CIA International Thriller series.
For More Information
About the Books:

Title: Existential Threats (Book 4 of The CIA International Thriller Series)
Author: R. Lawson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 345
Genre:  Thriller/Espionage
The CIA's incoming Director of Counter Terrorism, Biff Roberts, is inheriting a multitude of challenges. For starters, there is the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. Added to that, the Middle East has become enmeshed in a surge of radical religious extremism ranging from fanatical Muslims of the Islamic State to the Taliban, groups who commit unspeakable atrocities using violence to pursue their atavistic goals. Syria’s civil war could result in Assad's weapons of mass destruction getting into the hands of the splintered groups of Islamic Jihadists fighting there. This radical ideology has now spilled over into Africa with furious intensity.

And as if these international problems were not enough imminent threats to confront, Iranian mullahs have issued an Islamic death warrant fatwa on Biff, and those hoping to see it through are chasing him to the ends of the Earth.

Things move closer to home when CIA intelligence discovers that Iran has dispatched Mahmoud Abu Javari, the notorious IED bomb maker to the U.S.  Biff now faces a Homeland threat of 9/11 proportions and has to thwart a bomb plot in San Francisco without knowing the target or timing for the planned act of terror.

For More Information

  • Existential Threats is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Title: The Carrington Prophecy (Book 5 of The CIA International Thriller Series)
Author: R. Lawson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 298
Genre:  Thriller/Espionage
Biff Roberts, the CIA's counterterrorism director, receives actionable intelligence that a rogue regime is planning a sneak attack with the goal of exploding a nuclear device above the United States, triggering an unnatural Carrington Event.
The cosmic storm of the Carrington Event’s electromagnetic pulse waves released by the explosion would cripple all electronic systems and power grids in the U.S., leaving the homeland defenseless and vulnerable to conventional warfare.
With North Korea looking to be the most likely suspect, Biff is tasked to intervene and prevent this attack without triggering a global world war. Collaborating with NIS, the South Korean Intelligence Service, Biff and his team work to thwart the impending disaster, while also leaving the CIA with plausible deniability.

For More Information

  • The Carrington Prophecy is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I research technical data thoroughly for accuracy and read a collection of books that touch on the themes that will appear in my novels. Google & Bing have eliminated many research trips to the library!

On getting started: I don't outline my novels. I formulate my ideas, plots, subplots ahead of time and just start writing and keep writing until I have a rough first draft. I never worry about mistakes at this point as I plan to correct them with revisions.

Once the first draft is complete, then I revise it multiple times until I'm satisfied with the results - content, pace, plausibility, etc. My object is to take the reader to places they've never been with convincing characters who are embroiled in a conflict they must overcome, playing against the odds and a threatening villain. 

Some of my friends tell me it's like screenwriting with scenes portraying action, reaction, more action. I really don't know how I come up with some of this stuff, but the method I described above allows me to get a book out in 8 or 9 months.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I started 3.5 years ago in search of an agent and big six publisher when I was introduced to Amazon's White Glove Program, which has been a great program. I have published five novels via White Glove and enjoy working with the team there. So, I am self-published with some help.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

Via Amazon’s White Glove Program, all of the formatting and artwork is done for me, which is a huge perk and they are a pleasure to work with.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

I used Amazon’s pricing analysis tools to see where a sweet spot was for my ebook and to determine which price points would have the best conversion rates.

For print on demand, I set a comparable price to other novels in my genre. However, because my printed novels’ dimensions are larger than standard size, the price sometimes has to be a little higher to cover the additional costs of printing.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

I always want to shoot for timeframes where you tend to see lots of activity – holidays, spring break, etc. But, to be honest, it never quite works out that way, so it is more of a random event. The novels get published when they are complete with editing and layout.

How did you choose your cover?

Amazon White Glove has been a big asset in this part of the process as well. I describe to them what I am looking for and they come back with ideas and images.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

As I mentioned above, I write first draft quickly and then revise and revise, maybe a dozen times as I go along. I then hire a professional editor for a final line edit and then a professional proofreader to catch anything we may have missed.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book? 

I have not done any swag, but like that angle for marketing! I use the tag “Intelligent Thrillers" with all of my novels as I hope my readers will learn something new in each novel, not just be entertained. Maybe that is something I could incorporate into any swag.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I do not have book trailers for any of my novels, but am intrigued by the idea and will look into it.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I have read that give-aways work, but I do not have any stats one way or the other. I am open to providing excerpts and free copies as a means to get more sales.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

Before release: Paid pre-promotion, word of mouth among friends and relatives and promotion on personal channels – i.e. my website/blog, Twitter and Facebook.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

I would say the same three above, but do more paid publicity/advertsing.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?

I wish I had done more, but I am learning more tactics every day and hope to get better each time I release a new novel. I had a “Coming Soon” post on my website and I sent an email blast to friends.

I defititely have room for improvement and am always looking for new ideas!

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I have published five novels in my CIA International Thriller Series so far and have another two on tap. I have decent reviews, but not a large number of them. My goal is to build my following to 40K and achieve ebook best seller status.

In a perfect world, I'd like to sell the series or see them developed into screen plays.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

Besides being entertained & "thrilled" by the adventures, I want readers to learn something interesting along the way. I would love it for a reader to think, “I didn't know that…” /“I never knew that..." This is a slightly different approach to the genre, but I think it will appeal to a significant number of folks if I can get the promotion and publicity pieces pulled together.

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