| by Winter Lawrence |
When I first started writing, I joined a writers’ group to share my work with other aspiring authors. These early critique sessions were awesome and they helped improve my writing habits and skills immensely, so if the opportunity ever presents itself, I say go and give it a try! They’re a great tool for novice writers and it’s a good way to meet other like-minded-creative types. Writers’ groups also allow for some great collaboration. Personally, I haven’t tried my hand with a writing partner yet, but I know a lot of folks who love tag teaming, which I find fascinating, so I reached out to one of my writing buddies, who along with her writing partner, Charles Breakfield, have been wildly successful!
Rox, thanks for sparing some of your valuable time to sit and chat with us today! I know writing keeps you super busy, and I know you’re also always traveling to present at writers’ conferences and that you host podcasts and interviews. You are a busy bee and an inspiration to us all!
(A) Winter, I think we are all busy on our author journey. I get inspired by all the folks I speak to and always learn something wonderful from other authors and readers. The Writing Community is a great place.
(Q) Okay, so to start, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into writing and what your first published story was about?
(A) Winter, what a fun question. To be honest, Charles and I first wrote technical manuals and training classes as a part of our jobs with a technical manufacturer. As I was completing my Masters, I started writing technology white papers. I hooked Charles into doing a couple as well, and then we got a contract to do a couple of tech manuals with advances. They are published, but technology how-to books are stale shortly after they are published. Charles said, “Enough is enough.”
A few months later, I brought him the beginning of “The Enigma Factor.” This fictional story has a technology foundation with a basic problem: the identity theft of a young man who is being chased by two groups; evil cyber thugs, and the moral high round cyber champions. Oh yeah, and there is a beautiful encryptionist, world travel, and a white tiger inside this one. We decided to rework this first book and released the 2nd edition in September of 2019. Though the 1st edition is award-winning we feel the updated release is even better now that our writing has improved. Practice does help for any activity.
(Q) Let’s talk partners, because it seems like a scary endeavor for people who haven’t tried it before. What led you down the “partner path” and do you have any advice for writers who are looking for one?
(A) Charles and I work in technology. Charles is a security and unified communications guru; folks bring him in when a customer is really mad and in need of a reality check. I am more of an applications and customer experience technologist. When we taught partner-and-customer workshops, we balanced the workload well. The same is true in our writing, especially when we are working on various characters, we can bring balanced perspectives.
Advice…don’t think you will always be right or wrong as you write with someone else. Each writer has something to bring to the pages of storytelling. Find a balance. Try a short story first before tackling a novel or keep the assignments very separate. We try very hard to make the final product feel like one voice is telling the story.
(Q) Can you share with us a little bit about your “partner” process? Do you guys always swap out chapters or do you have a different system in place for each project?
(A) When we begin a story, our rough outline defines the technology problem we want to tell about. Each of us picks a chapter, and then we do, in fact, share them as they merge together into the story. Reviewing, tweaking, and shaping the story until it reaches a point where Charles’s wife does the first round of formal editing.
We have our patent pending method of writing called “Literary Ping-Pong.” This uses a highly refined mathematical algorithm that bats ideas back and forth to make the story better. It seems to work as we are embarking on book 12.
(Q) I have “The Enigma Gamers – A CATS Tale,” but can you tell us about The Enigma Series and how it all came to fruition? And while you’re at it, would you mind sharing which in the series is your favorite and why?
(A) The Enigma Series was started truly to highlight a technology problem and resolve it in a given story. The Enigma Machine was used by the Germans during WWII to send battle plans in an encrypted format to the troops. With Charles’s deep passion and understanding of World War II history, we developed a backstory of the beginnings of the R-Group, our cyber champions, who captured a copy of the Enigma Machine as Poland was overrun in 1939. These three brave men delivered one Enigma Machine to the last plane leaving for England and took their copy to Switzerland as the basis for their information dynasty within the family business of the R-Group. Escaping the Nazis gave them the high moral ground of good versus evil which continues to the current day stories we create.
After completing the first book, “The Enigma Factor,” the follow-on books in the series just poured out of our minds onto the hard drives of our respective computers. We were producing nearly two books a year. Keep in mind we each have our full-time jobs in the technology industry as well, which is demanding, to say the least. This background also makes us disciplined and with no shortage of fodder for additional stories. Though we wrote the stories as a series and bring characters in and out of the bigger picture, unless we kill them, each book is to be enjoyed in total. We also wrote them to be thoroughly enjoyed on their own, with just enough background to not leave the reader wondering.
“The Enigma Gamers – A CATS Tale” is a bit of a split in the series, where our reviewers wanted to hear more about the story of this wonderful couple Julie and Juan. CATS is defined as Cyber Assassin Technology Services, which is their business leveraging talented feet-on-the-street ex-military staff to deal with some of the tougher bad guys threatening the safety of businesses and people around the world. “The Enigma Dragon – A CATS Tale” continues with a focus on those characters and their problem-solving skills as they rise to the threats.
Favorite one? That is really tough. It would be like saying I have a favorite child. Each of the stories are fun and I like them all. But like children, when they tick me off they have to go into time out. What I really enjoy is them becoming audiobooks with our amazing voice actor, Derek Shoales. He captures the heart of our stories with his ability to keep accents straight. Heck, I find when we listen to the chapters as we are proofing them, how much we liked writing the stories. Derek is up for several awards and ready to work on the next book for us in between his other clients.
(Q) You are a prolific writer, with a whopping ten books under your belt. Can you share with the reader how you manage your “writing” time? Also, do you have any helpful writing tips for people who want to try their hand at becoming an author?
(A) Thanks, Winter, and its true what we often hear from other writers, write what you know. For us it’s the high-tech world and there is no shortage of fodder for the technology foundation of our stories. Layering on some travel, outlandish characters, a bit of romance, intrigue, mystery, pathos, and splashes of humor is like a standard day at the office. We each have dedicated writing time and we do focus. These days we need to market more than we write, but it is essential. We weren’t aware of that when we started out, but we have learned how important social media is to getting the word out.
For those who want to write, practice. Put it out for reviews by others and be prepared for some criticism. I still cry with a poor review and sometimes people just wake up mean. I am far better with constructive comments over personal bashing. These days with the anonymity of the Internet, people can be cruel and mean in their reviews. Charles deals with it differently; the reviewer trolls, as he calls them, get put into the next story and get whacked.
Write for yourself first as you get your story out, fiction or non-fiction. Have someone review it who is not family. Family will almost always be kind as they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Do-overs are acceptable, and it’s why we revised The Enigma Factor.
After ten books we learned a great deal. Book 11, “The Enigma Beyond (Who Won the AI Wars)” is due out in January 2020. The audiobook for “The Enigma Source” is due out in September 2019. And we have been fleshing out the backstories of the characters in our series with short stories. I am trying to convince Charles that a short story book would be great for our fans, but he’s not convinced. We have won some short story awards and are entered into lots of places. We’ll see. Oh, and Book 12, with the working title of “The Enigma Combat,” is in its early stages as well. We are looking for that movie deal too.
Rox, thank you so much for participating in my Author Spotlight! Your wit and awesome writing advice made me laugh out loud so many times and I loved to learn that Charles’s wife is your editor, that you put your books in time-out, and that Charles kills off your reviewer trolls (I’m borrowing both ideas from here on in!).
Readers, Rox and Charles have a ton of great giveaways, contests, and upcoming events that you can check out at https://enigmabookseries.com/. When you’re there, be sure to sign up for their monthly email newsletter and download a free coloring book focused on the series, or a sample chapter of one of the books. Currently, Rox and Charles are busy working on a short story that they plan to give out in the near future.
Here’s a list of some other cool things coming down the pike for the duo…
Contests & Giveaways:
We have a sign-up contest right now for new email list members to receive one of 5 wine glass charms featuring the new book cover of The Enigma Factor which we are sending out. Next month it is a t-shirt giveaway, and the month after that Charles thinks we should give away gold bullion bricks but I keep telling him we should do crypto-currency wallets stuffed with Bitcoins like we wrote about in The Enigma Source. Readers will just have to stay plugged into our email to find out what’s next.
Our contest for characters to be added to The Enigma Beyond was a hit with fans as we introduced our reluctant hero, evil scientist, and fem fatale to the world. Follow us on Facebook (@TheEnigmaSeries), Twitter (@EnigmaSeries), Instagram (EnigmaBookSeries), and Pinterest (TheEnigmaSeries). We love comments and reviews from readers.
We will be at the Pecan Fest Heritage Days in Seguin, Texas, October 26, and giving away a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner, loaded up with a few Ebooks, We look forward to seeing you there in the square. Upcoming events and activities can be found on our website. It’s always changing, so visit often.
Winter, this has been so much fun chatting together and sharing with your followers. Thank you for your efforts to make this happen. I look forward to reading your newest book and doing a review if you will permit me.
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Exclusive Winter’s Wonderland Audiobook Giveaway:
The authors have five audiobooks to give away in exchange for reviews, but these copies are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be sure to email her soon to try your luck! Here's how...
Step 1: Email Rox at Authors@EnigmaSeries.com
Step 2: In your subject line, write “Free Audiobook Giveaway!”
Step 3: In your email, send over your name and email address.
Step 4: Sit back, relax, and wait to hear back from Rox. She'll reach out with a code so you can download the audiobook!
I know; it's that easy, so good luck!
P.S. The target audiobook is for “The Enigma Beyond,” but if you prefer another book in the series, Rox is always up for a good negotiation!
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Breakfield (Charles), is a 25+ year technology expert in security, networking, voice and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. He’s also a fan of wine tastings, wine-making, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.
Burkey (Rox), a 25+ year applied technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments for customers all over the world with a focus on optimized customer experiences. She writes white papers and documents, with a marked preference for fiction.
Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, young and experienced adults, and bring a fresh new view to technology possibilities today https://www.EnigmaBookSeries.com.
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Book Website: www.EnigmaSeries.com
The award-winning series with links to many fun things.
Rox’s Website: www.RoxBurkey.com
Here Rox provides her point of view on various issues and review books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Rox’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/roxanneburkey/
Charles’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesbreakfield/