“In 1944 a beautiful woman who was a full time social worker and a part-time movie actress, and her classical guitarist husband adopted an abandoned eight year old little boy named Billy. Nothing unusual there at all… except that the couple were Mexican and the little boy was white. This would prove to be the first inter-racial adoption in California in an era when it was regarded as a ‘social taboo’ and even illegal in some states.
After being taught to play guitar by his father, this same little white boy would grow up, and together with three of his teenage Mexican friends would form the first inter-racial band in the history of ‘Rock and Roll.’ ‘Los Nomadas’ (or The Nomads). They were a controversial group from the very start. The group’s drummer Jose ‘J.D.’ Moreno would often comment prior to a show as a humorous prayer, “”One For All…. All For One…. And Don’t Let Them Kill The White Kid.”” While said in jest, there was an ever-present grain of truth in his levity.
This was just the beginning for a quiet unassuming musician who, content to stay in the shadows and raise a family, would play guitar and arrange music for some of the biggest names in the music business. Elvis Presley would give him the nickname ‘The Fixer,’ for his ability to salvage musical arrangements that would have otherwise been mediocre at best. Among his closest friends would be Rick Nelson and Del Shannon with both friendships ending in heartbreaking disaster.
This is the true story of the man who quietly lived through fifty years of rock and roll while also leaving his innovative mark in the world of Country Music…. When you hear lush violin sections playing on modern country music records… this is the man who championed their use at a time when it was considered a violation of tradition and out of the question to do so.
This is also the story of a young man who once produced big band recordings for a California governor and then created an international incident by making fun of a viscous Dominican dictator who put him on a hit list…. A tyrannical dictator who was himself assassinated several years later…
It’s also a heartwarming story of the man that married a girl he had only known for three days and is still married to after more than fifty years. So, grab your easy chair, settle back and read the story of a remarkable life’s journey made by a remarkable man who indeed has earned the right to be called ‘Legendary.’ And a man I am proud to call ‘Mi Amigo.’
Armand Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico”
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
(Actually have been asked this one) What prompted you to write your book so late in life.
For three years my wife and my extended Mexican family were after me to put the story of Mom & Dad on paper. They also kept after me to finish it at times when I would slack off.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Most of the writing of my Biography was done at four in the morning when the rest of the world was still asleep. There were times that my family would remind me of something that had happened that I had totally forgotten about. For instance, my wife remembered the evening right after we were married when I introduced her to Bobby Darin and Sandra. Her and Sandy were both about 8 months pregnant. It was a funny incident that is included in the book.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Having only written this one book, never had occasion to run out of things to say. Re-living Memories was about the best barrier to writer’s block that I can think of.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Be honest with yourself. Nobody is perfectly positive, so don’t be afraid to talk about your negative side… We all have one.
What are your current/future projects?
Enjoying my retirement. Financially stable due to marrying a very smart woman who handled our money. Cashing some nice checks from the use of my old music in movies and television.
Waiting to see the result of negotiations between my agent and various movie producers. If it doesn’t happen… no matter. The book was the main thing.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
You write ‘What you know.’ And nobody knew more about my life and career than I do, with maybe the exception of my wife.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
There will always be a future for those with imagination and the desire to put that to work for them.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I was offered a deal by a MAJOR book publisher, included an advance which I turned down. The first time one of their editors said, “You shouldn’t say that,” I walked away. Since I knew people at Xlibris Publishing and it was no financial hardship, I went with self-publishing instead. Every word, every mistake in grammar, etc is mine. As one reviewer has said, “It’s like sitting down to have a conversation over a cold beer with the writer.” My wife contributed her memories in ‘MINNIE’S MEMOS’ to start every chapter with. This idea was frowned upon by the original people, but having complete control made if entirely feasible to do so.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
No. The entire book cover was designed by Armand Hidalgo from Mexico City, who also wrote the synopsis.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I have renewed friendships with some old ‘compadres’ from the music business who thought I had passed away. After the book was written, there was a suggestion to me to compile an album of music from the book. The album “Zane Ashton; The Lost Tapes” is being sold internationally on the internet by I-Tunes and many more distributors. Have been asked to compile two more albums, but that is still up in the air.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
When the internet merchants starting picking it up… word of mouth resulted in great sales. Friends telling friends, telling friends etc.” I really didn’t care if the book sold or not…. just having the finished paperback in hand was reward enough. The rest is gravy….
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
Amazon and Barnes and Noble have been the most profitable for me.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
Autobiography and music. It was the only field I’m really qualified to write in. There will be no second book.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
Carry a small hand sized cassette recorder to record spontaneous ideas.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
No… just wrote until the end of the story… no point in going beyond that.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
The inter-racial aspects I think have had some surprising results. My actor friend Esai Morales said that he wonders “Why Hollywood doesn’t tell stories like this, because they do happen. And the world has to accept the fact that there are Latino benefactors in the world as well.”
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
I really don’t know. Armand Hidalgo designed an eye-catching cover with a few special effects. I and my family were happy with it so I haven’t given it a second thought.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Have had somewhat disappointing experiences with the media in the past. Mainly when I was younger and things about me were distorted by the press. So I have not bothered at all with them.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
A review of any kind can either bolster your confidence or have the opposite effect. So I don’t read reviews. My wife does and has seen a few nice ones like the London Times in 2015. But I honestly don’t care either way…
My philosophy is that ‘What doesn’t kill you…. will piss you off because it tried to.”
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
I fly solo on this one… and paying for reviews is like the old record business promotion by payola that is so distasteful.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
Everybody gathers a certain amount of enemies over their lifetime. My advantage is that I have ‘Outlived most of those sons-a-bitches.’
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
Did have one lady ask me to autograph five copies at one time for her. After the first one she said, “Could you please print the others so they are legible.” So I did….
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
As I said… I fly solo… and don’t worry about the rest… life is too short to add more burdens…
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
That some of the people in my life, including family members will be upset with my having written the truth…
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
Only one book.
What is the intended audience for you book?
Anybody interested in truth being stranger than fiction…
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
It is a great cure for insomnia….
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
There are people of EVERY color in the world who are magnificent human beings and I was fortunate to be adopted by two of them
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
Facebook has been a tremendous boon to me, since many of my friends there knew the book was coming before it was done..
What makes a good story, why?
Truth… because you can build on it and never have to remember a lie…
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
The title of my book, “Carry Your Own Guitar,’ comes from a personal experience in my life. Sweet and simple…
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Never read them… don’t care…
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
Recording with my friends in The Wrecking Crew has influenced my music more that anything. And being one of the founding members gives me great pride in the success we achieved together. Separately, we were good musicians. Together… we were unstoppable..
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
The death of my mother… for reason I won’t go into.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
Maybe some old Mexican family recipes….
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?
No… but have had inspirations for a song come that way…
Do you have any characters you would like to introduce in other books or a combination of characters from multiple books you would like to write about in one book?
My first book is the last one…
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Real life all the way…. From my closest boyhood friend Rick Nelson… to sharing the demons in my life with my soul brother Del Shannon… who helping me beat the whiskey…
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I am not qualified to answer that one… I write the way I talk and nothing more.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
Meeting a beautiful girl on a Friday afternoon and marrying the next Tuesday. As of now we are at our 56th wedding anniversary. She made the difference in success or failure in my career… Nobody does it alone.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
Actually making more money on Ebooks, if you get the right percentage from your publisher. I get ninety percent of gross, and that’s sufficient.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
Labor of love…
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
I have college educated daughters who proof read my manuscript. But only as concerns spelling because mine leaves a lot to be desire.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
I love having total control over the memories of my life. And nobody telling me NOT to write something.
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
No more books in the future.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration came from my wife and my family who insisted I write it all down before I ‘Shuffle off to Buffalo.’
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
No book will stand out unless it is of interest to a particular kind of reader. The cover on my tells you right away, “This is about music and muscians.”
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
Armand Hidalgo, old friend and award winning photographer from Mexico designed my cover. Clean, uncluttered, and simple. He also wrote the synopsis on the back cover.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Typing. I hate the keyboard… it wants to pick fights with me every so often…