Please welcome Stephen Geez to my blog. Hello, Stephen, nice to have you here this morning. Shall we have a chat? Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.
I’m Stephen Geez, author of novels in various genres, the GeezWriter How-to series for authors, oodles of scripts for television and other media, a collection of 54 mini-memoir essays, and the book I’m touting today, Comes This Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez. I’m also the founder and publisher at Fresh Ink Group where I do cover design; editing; web development; trailer and video production; audiobook production; and international publishing of hard, soft, and eBooks.
Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
During grad school I started establishing non-profits and setting up multi-million-dollar outreach programs for at-risk populations. I excelled at this for seven years but got too creatively itchy, so I transitioned into being a TV producer and eventually executive producer while also composing and producing music for television as a keyboard player. On the side, I wrote a short story (now lost), then wrote my first novel, Dance of the Lights. I set up Fresh Ink (not yet Group, LLC) to manage my literary contracts. Frustrated with traditional publishing’s lack of say-so and low payouts, I transitioned to Fresh Ink Group as a full publisher and media-production company. By then I had three novels already published, so when I got the rights back, I took them to FIG, which encouraged me to write more. Writing for print was always a side thing for me. It seems to have become that again, as I spend my non-FIG time composing music, intending to record an album of my own. A car wreck in November fractured both hands in twelve places, and both hands now have permanent damage, but I’m learning to play again with a thumb that won’t bend and a little finger that won’t fit next to the other fingers. I’m making it work. Watch for that album next year!
How difficult was it writing your first book?
Well, not at all. One of my B.A.s is English Language & Literature (Michigan), so I’ve long studied the art. I did make some mistakes with POV in my first few books, but my new agent explained some things I was missing, and I went on to study POV quite a bit (and wrote a how-to on it!), so I’m feeling good about my skills there now. “First book” sort of assumes the first of many similar, but in my case every new book project (except a series) is intentionally written in a very different style than I’ve used before. That’s the fun for me, developing a new voice and new methods. That means some have been more difficult than others, depending on what I was stretching into.
Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
Not give up, no. I’m tenacious and would rather find five readers who get what I’m saying than a thousand who really don’t. With me it’s more of interests shifting. The only writing I’m doing right now is scripts, blurbs, etc. for FIG-author projects, focusing mostly on composing music. However, I have an out-of-print series that I’m editing and updating, so I’m still working on my own novels. I’m really thinking about ramping up FIG’s video production (had a meeting about equipment today) and maybe exploring short-fiction videos for YouTube and other outlets. I would script those myself or work on scripts with Beem Weeks, FIG’s chief video producer.
Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
For “supportive,” there are many, but I’ll narrow it to Beem here at FIG. He’s the only one I trust to run my stories by. If the word is “encouraging,” I’d say the occasional fan note or posted review where the reader really got what I was doing and appreciated it. I’ve never had a bad review. I could cite a bunch of examples but check out Peacekeeper’s review of my Papala Skies. How could a review like that NOT encourage an author?
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
My biggest guiding principle has been using stories or essays to “say something.” There’s nothing wrong with a rip-roarer about catching the bad guy or exacting revenge or escaping the beast, but my stories all try to say something I consider important about human nature, life, values, relationships, and more. Of course, that means it’s mostly what I prefer to read—any genre but make a point with nuance and style.
What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?
I’ve thought about this my whole life, and I’ve collected (but really need to write down) a couple of dozen examples of life-altering advice for which I will always be grateful. Most relevant to being an author: I was at Michigan doing a B.A. in psych but also taking extra lit classes because I was there were world-class experts were at my disposal. The head of the English Department approached me and said he normally doesn’t sponsor students unless someone really impresses him, and would I like him to be my sponsor—the staffer in charge of guiding my academic path. I thanked him but said I’m not planning an English concentration. Disappointed, he urged me to do both. Well, that’s 154 credits in eight semesters instead of 132, a buttload of work. His advice: “It’s worth the extra work because there is nothing, no career, no path you follow that will not be more successful if you are also an excellent communicator.” I did the double B.A. and an M.A. Everything I’ve done, even the public-service years, were aided by my writing and communication skills. The biggest irony? I retired from agency TV production and wound up running a publishing company where I also write books. Go figure.
What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
Perceptive, literary readers. Being able to discern that the entire tale is allegory, recognizing the metaphors, appreciating the cool finesse in my POV techniques—these are my people. I can spot them in their reviews. They get it. If slasher-stalking-teens stories are your thing, I’m happy you read and enjoy and find what you like, but you’re not likely drawn to my writing. If I wrote a slasher-teens story, I’d wind up making it literary and bury all kinds of meaning in there.
Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
At FIG we work with freelancers and stock imagery for covers, but our staff digital artist, Anik, always impresses me with his work, so I kept it in-house, him on art, me on titles and layout. The concept is based on the eponymous short story in the collection. A depressed old woman returns to the scene of her childhood happiness to commit suicide. The boy she liked back then had taught her that when you’re trying to cross the stream (or wade upstream—a metaphor), sometimes you’re going to lose your footing. You either panic and flail and drown, or you accept that it’s time to float and learn to make floating work for you. I’ve had to choose “float” many times in my life, as have all of you. So, I asked Anik to paint ME (name is on my shirt in case you’re not clear who that is) floating in an electric stream (not too literal) flowing into the distance. Anik painted the covers for your blogger’s When Angels Fly and Sammy: Hero at Age Five. With a resource like that and my own design abilities, why go anywhere else
What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?
Decades ago, I published the first two books in my The Fixer series, but my contract got sold to a different publisher before I finished the third book. Since then, that name has been co-opted by other books and a movie, so I’m updating them as Rich Mr. Fixx, shooting for year’s end on both releases. Fixx is Sean, a young filthy-rich socially awkward guy who lost his family and was raised by his late father’s Jamaican biz partner. Friend Foster runs their biz empires where Sean is so low-key nobody realizes the kind of money he has. Friend Marcie travels around with him checking on ways he has invested in helping people, while looking for more opportunities to make wrongs right. Thing is, the mystery of his family is related to a history of latent mystical powers that he can’t control, which leads to some very cool situations. I’m not ready to excerpt the new versions, but I’ll reveal first time ever (gasp!) the covers, which were painted by Anik and titled by me. Subscribe to our newsletter on the home page of FreshInkGroup.com for updates on their release, and to see the eventual trailers and other media associated with this project.
Any last words before we wrap things up?
I really appreciate Mary allowing me to spend this time with you. Support those indie authors you enjoy, and always leave reviews and spread the word. We could all use a little encouragement. Also, when the challenges are too deep, the current too strong, don’t be afraid to let go and float.
Prepare to think as you explore these wildly disparate literary short stories by author, composer, and producer Stephen Geez. Avoiding any single genre, this collection showcases Geez’s storytelling from southern gothic to contemporary drama to coming-of-age, humor, sci-fi, and fantasy—all finessed to say something about who we are and what we seek. Some of these have been passed around enough to need a shot of penicillin, others so virgin they have never known the seductive gaze of a reader’s eyes. So when life’s currents get to pulling too hard, don’t fight it, just open the book and discover nineteen new ways of going with the flow, because NOW more than ever Comes this Time to Float.
Stephen Geez grew up in the Detroit suburbs during the American-auto domination. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. He retired from scripting/producing television and composing/producing television music, then expanded his small literary management firm into indie-publisher and multi-media company Fresh Ink Group. Now he works from a deck overlooking the lake in north Alabama, helping other writers share their compelling narratives with the world.
Contact Stephn Geez: https://freshinkgroup.com/contact-fig/
Website with Embedded WordPress Blog: https://stephengeez.com/
Fresh Ink Group Pages: https://freshinkgroup.com/author/stephengeez/
Geez’s Writers Website: https://geezwriter.com/
Author Services Website: https://GeezandWeeks.com/
Facebook: Gary Stephen Geez