Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Michael Deyhim, Author of The Omnitrek Series, a Scifi series that just released its first three books.
Hi, Please introduce yourself and tell us about what it is that you do.
Currently, I am a Business Analyst with GEICO, the best insurance company out there. I graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology back in 2011.
My dream is to transition to a full-time author. I always envision making it to number one. Whether it is book-length, series length, sales, I want to reach the top. It has taken me a long time to find that inspiration. Still, it is what not only keeps me writing but also the fortitude to hold off publishing 3 books for my new series so they could launch together (a marketing technique I had done some research on). It is having the mindset and being in the position to be able to write. It helps knowing I have written good books and to leave the release and marketing plans to people who know more than me. A big shout out to my sister, Deanna, for doing everything but the writing as I like to think of it. It still boggles my mind how many little things there are that go into publishing a book. For example, take keywords. You only have so many. Do you pick popular keywords or keywords that separate the book out more? What categories do you put the book into on Amazon? How do you format chapter headings? As a writer, my main focus is to write and write well.
Please tell us more about your journey.
I have always enjoyed reading. Growing up, my mom read me several stories like Lord of the Rings. I then started reading on my own and have had a number of favorite classics over the years; Ender's Game, Dune, and the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. Writing something is a challenge, but writing something good seemed impossible when I first started. It is not a joke to say that I have read over one hundred million words and have written over three million words before publishing The Omnitrek Series. Next to my desk, where I write, is my first unpublished manuscript. It is terrible. Complete and utter trash. But it is also the inspiration that writing is a skill like any other and that the only way to get better is to practice. I have practiced for years and years and now feel much more confident in my writing ability.
A good example is writing speed. If I am flat out writing and not rethinking character actions, I can write about 2,000 words per hour. That used to be far lower and the quality far beneath what I can achieve at that speed now.
And the best thing is, there is always room to improve. That is one of the big challenges of being a professional author. There is no scoreboard like in sports or a final competition. That is why I aim to reach number one in every metric that matters to me. Very hard? absolutely. Impossible? No. I have to have confidence in myself to believe I can do this. If I don't believe in myself, no one else will.
Please tell us about your new series.
The Omnitrek series is something I am incredibly proud of. It is set in the far future in a Virtual Reality (VR) setting. The company, Omnitrek, has developed large scale interactive VR and wants to test it. The idea is to use the technology as a type of retirement home for people to extend their lifespans by living the remainder of their time out in VR. Omnitrek's solution: set up a competition in generated environments so that the players push the setting in every conceivable way to see if it is stable. Each book follows one season of the Game, with the environment changing and modifying between books. The main character at the start of the series is Eric Serpens. Each book covers a whole season and ends with the last player, aka the winner.
One of the big highlights of this first protagonist, Erik, is how I like to have him and other players try to outmaneuver their opponents. That is probably the biggest challenge I had while writing and the main area that slows me down. I try to follow my personal rule of Ten to One. It means if I'm reading something, and it takes me a tenth of a time to think of a better solution than the character, then that character is doing something wrong. I can excuse poor decisions in the heat of the moment, but if someone has a day to think over a decision and I can come up with something better in an hour, then that is an issue to me.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
Never giving up and writing! I can't say this enough. The only way to get better at writing is to write. There will be mountains of trash, but just push through the pain and embarrassment and write some more. When I doubted my skills, I wrote. If I thought something was poorly written, just write some more. There are two main traps for authors. The first one is that they want to write something perfect. I always liked the quote, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good'. The only way to get past this initial block is to write. I like to think back to my time doing wrestling in high school when the coach made us all do death sprints at the end of practice and shout, “Pain is weakness leaving the body!” Well, the pain you feel when writing something terrible is the weakness of poor writing, leaving your body.
The second big challenge is the lack of inspiration. This tends to happen after the first book or after a short burst of writing. People get burned out, or they make money and lose motivation to write. This is not a bad thing, but it also means that these people won't stick around as authors. It has taken me years to be able to say I want to be number one. It is not about just saying that, but believing it in my very soul and every fiber of my being. When I wake up, I think about my current book plot. When I make myself a meal, I think about how I can translate that into my writing. When my mom sends me a funny joke, I think about how to include a joke (if it's good) in what I write. It is more than a single-minded focus; it is an obsession.
For people just starting out, I recommend three things. A computer with a big and high definition monitor to easily see your word document, a quiet area to work with water, and finally, just writing and not looking back.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
I take a lot of inspiration from my personal life and the things I see around me every day. One thing that sneaks into my writing is how much people sigh. Other authors like to include tummy rumbles and biting lips; I have sighs. My sister, who does all the publishing work and gets to do the developmental edits, checked the first book in The Omnitrek Series. She called out the 43 times I had people sighing. That is around two sighs per chapter. It is one of the things I try to keep a lookout for in order not to overdo it.
Fantastic! So tell us, how can people find out more about you?
Thank you so much for giving us your precious time. We wish you all the best for your journey ahead.