George Blake

The Sun Sets in the West is about a man who sets out to fix the world as best he can with what he knows best. He attempts to avenge the love of his life and in the process improves the life of others around him. Jeff Thurman was born at a time when ideology hid a lot of ills in the world. A nuclear accident when no one knew there could be such a thing (at, least, not in the public citizenry’s view of the world). Also, many of the wrongs we know about today but are more aware of: Abuse, child trafficking, etc. But it also enlightens the readers about what is good and can be good in the world and brings hope for the future.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write/create it?

The Sun Sets in the West is about a man who sets out to fix the world as best he can with what he knows best. He attempts to avenge the love of his life and in the process improves the life of others around him. Jeff Thurman was born at a time when ideology hid a lot of ills in the world. A nuclear accident when no one knew there could be such a thing (at, least, not in the public citizenry’s view of the world). Also, many of the wrongs we know about today but are more aware of: Abuse, child trafficking, etc. But it also enlightens the readers about what is good and can be good in the world and brings hope for the future.

It is set in Southern California where I was born and grew up. I noticed most U.S. novels are written with East Coast / New England settings. Probably because most Publishing Agents only believe that East Coast writers and East Coast settings are worthy of consideration. I wanted a Western style with a unique perspective of what life was like starting with the Cold War era. I wanted to describe what I enjoyed about the area I grew up in and the things I experienced through Jeff.

Many writers write stories that involve pieces of their own lives. This was partly a therapeutic manuscript. While I only mildly experienced abuse in my life (I’ll explain in a minute), some around me experienced much more. I grew up in what I thought was an average American family. My Father was the anchor of the family. He was our emotional support and guide. My Mother: not so much. We lived a low-to-middle-income family existence as many others did.

I have been married and divorced twice. Both times by women who were abused by their fathers. Both could not bare children because their mothers were given DES (Diethylstilbestrol) to prevent miscarriages which resulted in female reproductive cancers. My second wife was also Bipolar, leading to the divorce as she would not do what was needed to try and correct the issue. The first one hid everything from me until the end, and we divorced after she was having an affair. I ended up later learning about more about abuse and the signs indicating it. My own mother and her family had been abused by her own father which resulted in her cold, unemotional demeanor. I started examining the various other families that I had grown up with in my neighborhood and found evidence of it, especially after my friends had grown and talked about it. It is reported that 1-in-4 women are abused in childhood. I suspect it is even higher.

Jeff is the synthesis of my hopes for the future. To avenge those who have been wronged. To bring about change slowly with the technology available today. To be hope for the hopeless.

Share your personal publishing story. Did you choose self or traditional? How did you go from book manuscript draft to finished book available for purchase?

My writing journey started in 2007 with a “story board” on paper, then using PowerPoint. I created a multitude of slides that I could insert / add/ delete / move to come up with a final flow. I then expounded upon each slide and started writing my chapters. Once I wrote them out, I then started to print them and review them. When I had a completed “Rough Draft,” I sent them to different friends to get their opinion and suggestions.

After I finished writing the story, I attempted to contact over 100 publishing agents and sent excerpts from the story. Most responded with the usual “Not Interested” and some sort of explanation. Some did not even bother to respond. That led to option Number 2: Self-Publishing.

The completed manuscript was finished in 2013. At that time, I was in work transition and was not financially able to complete the book. I sat on it until 2021 during the pandemic. During that time, self-publishing improved while the number of cover artists, proofreaders, etc. increased and became less expensive. So, this was an opportune time to publish. I then re-read the manuscript, again enlisted friends and family to review it, and made the final edits.

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

Well, I don’t write (books) for a living. I am an Electronics Engineer, so writing was very infrequent and sporadic. I am a late riser-night owl, so most of my writing was done in the evenings and weekends when I wasn’t working or had other duties to perform. When I did write, it was when I had formulated something to write or fill in what was already down in rough draft. If I was finished with a thought or chapter I would go back, re-read it again, and then consider if I had the idea down fully.

How do you name your characters (if fiction or names changed for nonfiction)?

I randomly assign names and try to stay away from traditionally-used ones. I had not seen “Jeff” used often or at all, so that is my main character. ‘Mabus’ was suggested by a friend for his mentor and companion. I see the character, Mabus, as a Morgan Freeman type of person. I am not sure how the name ‘Mabus’ came about now that you mention it. I just went with it and decided to see how it would be accepted. Thurman / Manther was similar to “Thevenin”, a Theorem in electronics. It popped into my head and stayed.

What is the most difficult part of your creative process?

I would say the “filler.”The writing that goes in the story between major events. What some might call the “blah blah” parts. It is easy to come up with the major components to the story. Writing the additional dialogue is more difficult. Discussions between characters, trivial things like what was written on a characters T-shirt, etc.

How do you come up with your illustrations/images/graphics?

Easy: farm it out. I had an idea for the cover, the only real illustration. I then started looking on the internet and ‘Googled’, or at stock photo sites such as ‘’ and just started to enter in search terms. Then, I approached individuals to perform the actual creation. They then worked with the concept until we had the image I wanted for the book.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written and set aside? What are your plans for them?

I have no completed books left to work on. If this one works out I have an idea for the next one. But that is all it is at this point: an idea. No specific plans for it…yet. We’ll see how the first one sells.

What do you do for book marketing? Describe your plan, how it is working, and what you want to add or change to that plan, if anything.

I once worked in Sales and Marketing and have learned to watch what people / companies do that works and doesn’t work for them. There is no “Fool-Proof” way. My story is not a Sci-Fi that fits any norms today. It isn’t like a video game. It isn’t Anime. It doesn’t take place in space. It is a down-to-earth Sci-Fi that mixes drama-mystery-murder at the human level. If you publish with Amazon / KDP, then they want you to advertise through them. If you publish through with Apple, they want your money. Every publisher will publish, but they also want you to advertise through them and be captive. Use what they offer IF they have good statistics. Also use OUTSIDE advertising and use what you know about in your field of expertise. For example: I am an Amateur (Ham) Radio operator. We have a go-to web site called QRZ.COM for logging (recording / verifying) our contacts. Almost every Ham uses this site. Millions. They advertise and it isn’t all that expensive. That will reach a lot of people. No one advertises books. I use that site. These are people who: 1. Enjoy the same hobby as I do; 2. Are nerds like me; 3. Probably will enjoy Sci-Fi; and 4. Are older and have memories of the Cold War days.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

First, don’t pay for someone to review your book UNLESS you really know someone reads them. I get offers all the time from paid reviewers and sites. If you Google them, you find out quickly if they are followed by the masses or not. I have found that the best reviews are often everyday people. I have had a few reviews from leaders of blog sites that groups follow. Try to get a book to the leader of a hobby group you attend, or exercise group, book club, book circle, etc. Look at ‘’. Find local book clubs and ask if you can do a reading for them. Good news travels fast. Offer some books to the local public library. Ask if they will set up a feature table with your book.

Yes, I think CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is a good thing. It tells you that someone actually reads your work(s) and they offer you an opinion from their perspective you may not have thought about. Sometimes people catch errors, such as spelling, grammar, etc. They may question what you wrote because they read into it something that you hadn’t thought about and may want to clarify or modify on your next revision.

Bad reviews: you have to take away from it the constructive stuff and throw out the destructive stuff. If you write something political from the Left side, people on the Right will attack you and vice versa. Sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt. Have a tough skin. If you get a lot of bad reviews, then you have to start asking if you wrote it for the wrong group of people, the marketing is wrong, etc.

I was once told: “Don’t have Pride of Authorship”. I used to write customer proposals, company specifications, standards, policies and procedures. Everyone had an opportunity to comment. That doesn’t mean don’t be proud of your work. You put the effort into it. You own it. It means don’t get upset during a draft if you get comments. It won’t be perfect the first round, or second round. Everyone has an opinion, and it can always stand to be revised. If you have passed it around for review and everyone agrees it is a good work, then publish it and let the chips fall where they may. Not everyone is a Hemmingway. Not every book is a million seller. A book about ‘Lemons’ is only going to net you people who like Lemon Merengue Pie, Martinis and Lemonade.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

I used to read a lot of print books when I was growing up. Since I have written so much for companies, I prefer the audio books. There is something about actors bringing a story to life. I love the old radio programs: The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, etc. I can play an audio book on a long trip and enjoy it, stop it when I want to.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

Easy: GATEWAY by Frederick Pohl. It is a fascinating book to read. One chapter is his past, the next chapter his present. You don’t understand how they connect until the last few chapters. Great writing. Another is TOUCH THE STARS: EMERGENCE by Carl Martin and John Dalmas. I also enjoyed THE SHACK by William P. Young. I didn’t like the movie. I preferred the book. I rediscovered the Edgar Rice Burrough’s series JOHN CARTER OF MARS after watching the Disney movie. I like old serial books.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I am (hoping) that Book Agents are going away. They are stuck-up, only handle a particular genre and style, only represent one Publisher. And, when they get that ONE real money-maker, drop the rest of their prospects. They are tied to only one source of income. They are from a by-gone age. I am also not a fan of book give aways to get people to read a book. ‘Bookbub’ and others don’t enthrall me. I don’t mind giving a few away to well placed audiences. Giving books away for days, weeks or a month on-end is costly for the self-published writer.

One thing I DON’T see that every self-publisher should do: write or transcribe into a foreign language. You are missing a HUGE opportunity if you don’t. English is a preferred business language to cross borders for commerce. However, people will always read for pleasure in their own tongue. I plan to transcribe my book into Latin-American Spanish. That will cover Mexico, Central America, South America and be tolerable in Spain, Portugal, etc. It can be very expensive, so be sure you have a firm selling base in English first. Or, do what I am doing: if you know someone in both English and a foreign language, such as an immigrant that is fluent in English, pay them to translate it for you.

Now that you have published a book/new book, what would you do differently this time?

I honestly don’t know. When I started writing The Sun Sets in the West times were a little different. As I said: cost was higher, services were fewer, distribution not as diverse. I think I would still do it the same way.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
  1. Don’t think you are going to have instant money. Everyone starts out selling slowly. Even writers like John Grisham knew that their next book could be a flop. Take your time, be methodical in everything you do.
  2. I would suggest you can really only do ONE thing well. Stick to the story. Don’t try to do everything yourself until AFTER you have published. Even then, farm out the other work. There will be plenty of other things to do once you actually publish: Editing to fit the Publisher’s format, pricing, etc. Remember: What you don’t pay for, you have to do yourself. Get the book into print, then worry about a web site. See how your initial sales go. It will be slow at first unless you are writing the next ‘Star Wars’ serial. Look for savings. I have used ‘FIVERR.COM’ very well.
  3. COPYRIGHT. Pay the fee. It at least offers you some protection under the law. Don’t use the Writer’s Guild of America. They don’t protect you legally. Do not send your manuscript to someone in a foreign country until you have done so. Do not send it to someone you know unless you truly know them well and have your best interests at heart. And even then: hesitate. Most countries (China) do not care about U.S. laws and will allow their people to copy and distribute your work. At least if it is under Copywrite you have some recourse. If you contract a service, only use domestic providers. You may have to send them parts / all of your work, so protect it.
George’s Bio

George Raymond Blake was enthralled as a boy by reading novels and serialized stories such as Analog, Omni, and others. Mr. Blake took an interest in science and engineering when he was nine years old, examining old machines and manmade technology to see what made them work, often repairing the machines and, ultimately, re-configuring and re-designing them.

Growing up in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, he was afforded the opportunity to be mentored by engineers, scientists, and technicians from top aerospace companies at the peak of the Cold War. Choosing to work in various trades, he became a senior project engineer and product manager for major industrial firms, traveling to eight countries and over a thousand cities worldwide, always striving to study, create and invent. Mr. Blake obtained a U.S. Patent and authored and presented papers at lectures for technical trade conferences. He also served as an instructor to military and civilian personnel.

With an associate’s degree in electronics and communications technology—while currently attending Arizona State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering— George Raymond Blake possesses a general-class license in amateur radio (W6BDD). He played trumpet for a band, orchestra and he sang in a choir. Besides writing this uniquely blended tale of love, science, and adventure, the author aims to own and drive a recreational vehicle to see the U.S.A. always to head West to where the sun sets.

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