Born: January 21, 1986.
In school, starting in kindergarten, I excelled at reading and writing. As I got older, history and science became my strong points. My sophomore year in high school, my algebra grade was 110 out of 100 (not a typo). Unfortunately, I was pushed too hard to perform well. When it came time for college, I was completely burnt-out on school, joining the workforce instead. College isn't for everyone, but that's not a message I'm proud to spread. If you have the opportunity, you need to take advantage of any education you can get.
I've worked in manufacturing, housekeeping, security, bars/clubs, and spent about four years total "finding myself." That translates to being a bum.
My childhood was mostly good. Lower middle class, never abused, Eagle Scout by age 15. There is always dark moments in everyone's life, though: drugs, gang violence, money troubles, prison terms, hospital stays. I won't go into details for privacy's sake, but I've had my experiences.
Full name: Edmund Easley Winston IV
My father (EEW III) worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, drove trucks, and was even a racecar driver.
My grandfather (EEW II) also worked for the railroad, and built racecars.
My great grandfather (EEW SR.) was a Texas Ranger. I've grown up hearing stories of the men he arrested, and the famous Rangers he worked with. He knew the men who shot Bonnie and Clyde, and the famous Ranger who stopped an entire riot by himself.
I've personally traced my family lineage back to the Revolutionary War. Patrick Henry's mother was a Winston. His best friend and cousin was Judge Edmund Winston. That's where my name originated.
Judge Winston became the executor of Henry's estate when he died, and married Henry's wife as well. Henry's wife was a cousin of Martha Washington, making me obscurely related to the First President.
I'm currently working a day job to pay bills while trying to get my writing off the ground. I have way too many hobbies. I've been in sports memorabilia for over 20 years. I collect books (focusing on signed copies), movies, video games, gold, silver, and gems. I've built guitars, set stones in jewelry, and I smoke cigars. I wrote my first book in high school and passed it around campus. It was received well. It was a collection of observational humor that, when I look at now, isn't funny at all. I've dabbled in photography, which resulted in putting another embarrassing book out there.
My writing process usually involves not being able to sleep at night, and scribbling down all my ideas before I forget them. I do forget most, though. Below are the steps I follow.
First step: Outline
I write a basic idea of the story and major plot points, then go back over it and expand on certain ideas that i feel need to be covered in the most detail. It's usually just a brief summary that takes up a page or two. This covers the Setting of the story as well. I usually have an idea for a title by the time the outline is done, but the title can show itself at any time throughout the writing process.
Second Step: Characters/Towns/and anything else that needs an original name.
Then I figure out who the main characters will be, and develope a backstory. Then I name the town or anything else that might need to be given a name early on. As for supporting characters, i usually create a list of 20 or so names to draw from when I need to introduce someone new. I like to drop subtle references to different things in these character names. For example, I'm a big watch collector and used two of my favorite brands as character names. I like to name some characters after some of my favorite authors as well. I've also dropped a few Doctor Who references. For others that are not important, there are hundreds of name generators out there online.
Third Step: QUESTIONS
This is probably the most important step in my writing process. After I have the basic idea for the story, I write down as many questions about it as possible. These are all the questions that need to be answered in the story. I.E.: Where does the story begin? What is the significance of a certain object/building/person? What happens to trigger the conflict? HOW does it trigger the conflict? etc... More questions are added throughout the actual writing until I feel that I've covered all my bases.
"How" is the key question. Every time something happens in the story, I ask myself how it happened. Even if I don't explain it in the book, I have an explanation written down somewhere. (In most cases)
I then rearrange the questions into a linear timeline, and answer them. I incorporate the answers into the story as I write. Usually, one question = one chapter.
Fourth Step: Start Writing
Everyone does this part differently. Some authors write and write, then rearrange everything and separate it into chapters. I write linear, because I've already rearranged the questions. I write each chapter in its own document (for the next step), and keep writing everyday until the story is done. My initial goals are usually 40 chapters at 2,500 words each and total 65,000 words, but the final product is always different. My first two books were half that in word and chapter counts (With Black Hands being 32,000 words and 20 chapters, and The Cold Dead at 38,000 words and 31 chapters). The third book has already surpassed them both, and isn't even close to being finished.
Fifth Step: Expand Details
Every chapter has been written, and are in separate documents. This makes editing and formatting a lot easier for me and my editor. Now I go back to the very beginning and add more thorough descriptions of things that I feel need more detail (Step Three helps out a lot here, too). This is also the point where major cuts are made to unimportant things, or new scenes are added to explain things I skipped, and grammar and typos are corrected.
Sixth Step: Review
Now I go through and check for consistency errors and do basic editing. Sometimes step five changes the direction of certain subplots or other details, and step six corrects or clarifies them.
Repeat Steps Five and Six. Every time I do either, the book undergoes major changes. This is basically my way of making a 2nd, 3rd, or 78th draft. I keep repeating until I'm happy with the results.
Eighth Step: Editing:
After the individual chapters are finished, I share the files with my good friend Jacob S. Limon. He reads the story, and edits any errors I may have missed. Then repeats. He'll also repeat Step Three, at which point, I repeat Five and Six again. Once all the errors are corrected and questions are answered, the files are put into one document, and the Manuscript is born. Then, repeat five and six again.
Ninth Step: Formatting for Self Publishing
The manuscript is then duplicated so there are 4 versions of it. One will be kept as the original, one formatted for submission as Hardcover, another as paperback, and the last as an ebook. Title pages, ISBNs, and Copyrights are added, as well as any other requirements from the publisher, special acknowledgments, and disclaimers if necessary. Formatting is critical. It takes a lot of work if you've never done it before, and it's just as important as editing. Study up on what the publisher requires, and learn your software the best you can.
I do most of the art myself, Black Hands actually has my hand-print on the cover. Its very important to keep being productive throughout the process, but writer's block is real. If I get to a point where words are refusing to come out onto the page. I take a break. If I already have a title, I imagine how the cover should look. I like to use symbols that are featured in the story, and try to bring them to life. Photoshop skills are helpful, but not necessary. I personally use GIMP photo editing software. I try to use all my own images (which is where my photography hobby comes in handy), due to copyright issues, but if you invest in the right Adobe software, that won't be an issue. I also use stock image websites for inspiration, and they are also a good source for purchasing images to use. Don't skimp on the back cover, either. The Cold Dead's back cover took the same amount of work as the front cover, and to me, is even more important.