Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author Interview Series - Garry Graves

Please welcome Garry Graves to So, Write!  Garry is the first non-fiction author to appear in this series.  His book is about something we need more of in this world, character.  Here's what Garry had to say about his book.

Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing? 
[Garry] I’m a businessman, educator and now writer of nonfiction (Personal Development and Biography), and soon fiction with a Sherlock Holmes-esque style, under a penname. Was motivated by a favorite professor who thought that businessmen; particularly business owners, should be proficient in prose when describing the intricacies of business financials, pro-forma’s, and all business details in communications with bankers, venture capitalists and potential stock owners. He was right...the concept stuck with me. My business writing (some say it to be fiction, hehe), was recognized by some who thought it worthy to a point of parting with their monies relative to my venture at the time.

In 2005, after 30 years of meeting all kinds and types of business scoundrels, as well as angels, someone suggested it might be helpful to read a book reminding everyone of the effects of decision-making. In 2010 I self-published: ‘Character Happens! The 5 Most Important—But Fleeting Virtues.’ (
Prior to Character Happens!, my only previous published work were articles in trade and industry magazines.

What is Character Happens about?
[Garry] The book has five stories and/or chapters. Each story discusses a selected virtue (my choice), of the many that are known. Each story focuses on an individual member of a group of six people who are golf buddies. The stories are written around a golf storyline employing an event on the golf course with the chapter-focused individual’s personal life. Here is my descriptive information on Amazon’s ebook page.

[Garry is interested in feedback on his Amazon description.  You can leave any in the comments]

How did you come up with the idea for Character Happens?
[Garry] Being a business consultant, business owner, salesman and part time community college instructor, I’ve always had what I thought to be a nice blend of first-hand business experience coupled with formal business knowledge. After thirty years in business; observing, studying successful ventures, and questioning the failed become acutely aware of what successful businesses employ with their workers their processes and their customers. Simply, it’s the ‘character’ of an organization that drives most to success. Many times this organizational character comes from ‘one’ individual...with little credit, as it should be, given to the nuances of their product/service, the marketplace or the economy. I wanted to speak out about my observations juxtaposing decision-making and business success and failures. I thought a book might be the perfect vehicle.

BTW, I like to think of the book as my way of ‘paying it forward,’ to those (businesspeople, individuals, those just starting out), who think of themselves as character challenged, as well. hehe.

What makes Character Happens different or special compared to the other titles in this genre?
[Garry] Candidly, I blister at ‘self-help’ tripe. Character Happens!, offers five stories about how individuals ‘might’ better their lives should they make decisions outside their own self-interest. The book is not prescriptive like Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but more like Bennett’s, The Book of Virtues, whereby story offerings are given without any life-directions or assertions about ‘how to’ do this or that.

The book’s storyline, at times, is terse, sharp, damning, condescending and critical of individuals and/or their actions. It is also loving, caring, compelling and a teaching kind of way. Readers will notice immediately that Character Happens!, is not your typical read relative to the concept of character. It’s from a war-worn businessman who has observed some beautiful AND horrendous decision’s coming from a myriad (gender, age, religiosity, education, ethnicity), of human beings. The book has no religious bent and professes none. It offers no methodology, other than to think deeper, considering all ramifications of your decision.

What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?
[Garry] The books five featured characters, one featured in each chapter, vary in gender, age, religious background and socio-economic strata, with the only binding variable being that they play golf.

The book was written considering all these variables - thinking readership might reflect a similar makeup and further the books distribution. Besides, my consideration of character-trait variance (age, gender, etc), reflects a greater segment or randomness of the population, which makes the stories more compelling. IMO.

Target audience: Males and Females - 15 to 75 years. All Golfers - 15 to 75 years. Personal Development Readers (People who like to improve their lives) - 15+ years. Businesspeople both male and female.

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?  The most rewarding?
[Garry] Realizing that my eyes (and knowledge), only, will not serve as a proper edit of my work. You need other writers or professional editors to study your manuscript. Friends and family will not do, you need others help in making your manuscript the best it can be.

Thinking I’m a smart guy...I edited Character Happens!, myself. It has numerous grammatical errors; miss-spelled words, missing words, spacing errors and other appearance needs. That is why the book is being revised this spring. The text will be edited throughout with all corrections made. The subtitle will be changed to further drive a missing demographic to my book. The books color will change from red to yellow. The pic on the cover will change from an angel to a 1700’s era couple setting on a rock, on a golf course, speaking with a youngster.

Most rewarding? Being in control of the entire publishing process.

Where can we buy your book?
[Garry] Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and others.

BTW, I just uploaded my second book, a biography of a WWII veteran who crashed the beaches of Omaha. Check it out.

Thanks Garry!  I so agree on the editing advice.  The more eyes the better.  Good luck with Character Happens and your new WWII book.


  1. Garry, when it comes to editing, I can't recommend the Chicago Manual of Style enough. Lots of good stuff in there and a good review of the basics.

  2. Nice interview. I use CMOS religiously, as most editors will refer to that anyway when going through your m/s. I agree about being in control of the entire process, but editing should be left to the professionals. Being so close to your own m/s makes it impossible to be objective, to see even the simplest of errors. It is lots of work, but in the end, it's a product you can be proud of if you know you did your very best.

    Congratulations on the book, Garry.

  3. Here's my reference's: Strunk and White, Writer's Digest-Grammar Desk Reference, The Writer's Little Helper (Smith), Grammatically Correct (Stilman), Between the Lines (Morrell), APA Publication Manual. Still...

    Thanks for CMOS source, but thinking the professional hire-out is better solution.

    Still interested in what readers think of: 1) the yellow book cover over the red one already on Amazon and 2) my books description, also on Amz's book page. Link provided in post text.

    Thanks Everyone. --gg

  4. Your book sounds interesting. To answer the questions:
    The description is fine except it says "There is plenty of teaching moments" and I think it should be There are plenty...?
    I like the yellow cover much better, but then I don't like anything to do with angels, demons or paranormals. I don't see what the red cover has to do with the book topic.
    As for editing, have at least 3 people read it and look for mistakes. One person will never find them all. There are many things people just don't agree on these days as far as punctuation, etc. Some people are using single quotes instead of double quotes for example, and they're using commas instead of semicolons. I don't think you have to be as worried about that as about spelling and correct use of tenses.

  5. Thanks Mickey, your comments are indeed helpful. And, you are right about the 'is' 'are' error.
    Right again, the book's cover color has nothing to do with the topic, I was just referencing color to distinguish the two books, red is the first version of the book, yellow being the revised one. Also changed the subtitle, did you notice?
    Interestingly, I used the ellipse plentifully in the text, hoping to communicate a more dramatic pause in its reading. (silly idea)
    Regarding the single quotes...(silly again), I use single to 'distinguish' a word or phrase and use double when a character actually says something. Is that right? Acceptable?
    You would think spelling would be caught by the software, but know (sp). I'm real guilty of omitting words...seems my brain is outrunning my typing. This is just a silly, careless mistake.
    Thanks again for your advice. --gg


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