We were fortunate enough to recently interview Chris Mason, author of the “In the Box” series of books.
The “In the Box” series is a range of guides to free online resources (free educational resources, apps, music and video games (see the full list below)).
Chris’ books are aimed at anyone who wants to save money and time. You can count us in!
Thanks Chris for this great interview!
What first motivated you to write?
My name is Chris Mason and for the last 20 years I have been a house husband raising three kids with special needs. During this time I received my Bachelors in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. Due to the fact that all my children went to an online charter school, I had to find ways to save money and found many free resources through the internet. In fact I still think it is funny when I first asked my daughter’s teachers for resources that could help her when she first entered the world of online schooling, I only received 3 websites. I thought 3 websites from 6 teachers was a sad state of affairs, so Tutor in a Box was born. That was years ago now. My eldest daughter was in sixth grade then, now she is a sophomore in college.
My other books were born out of two things that happened at the same time. First, my family had to give up cable to save money but my kids still wanted to see the then popular That’s so Raven. Second, my mother came up with Mason Day to teach my kids that they did not need a lot of money to give someone a nice gift. Mason Day was when a person was assigned a family member and had to make them something, spending only 20 dollars. My thought was “Oh my God”. I had no artistic skills like my daughters’ and could not build things like my son, but I did have impressive research skills. So the “In the Box” series of books was born
What is your latest book about?
As stated earlier the story behind my latest eBook Tutor in a Box would fall under the quote necessity is the mother of invention. You see my children all attend a virtual charter school. When my first child started I asked all the teachers if they could help me help my children by providing online resources my kids could use. The response I received was rather shocking. Out of the six teachers I asked I was emailed only 3 links to educational websites. I thought to myself these are teachers at an online school and this is the best they can do. So I started to keep a list of websites that my kids used often or that I used to help them and just kept adding to it. I also noticed that many parents were lost when it came to where to go on the internet to get good educational information. I observed this one day as I sat at my local It’s a Grind and watched 7 parents in a group. All of them with computers trying their best to solve some Algebra II problems so they could then break those problems down and teach them to their children. They all looked frustrated and confused and a bit angry. So I thought why not take this list of mine that have compiled for the last six years and turn it into a book so others could benefit as much as I did. That is exactly what I did. That is the quick story of how Tutor in a Box come to being. The “In the Box” series of books are a set of reference guides to the best free resources on the internet in a particular area. The series currently includes:
- Tutor in a Box – A guide to free educational resources.
- Book Store in a Box – A guide to free print and audio books.
- Arcade in a Box – A guide to free video games.
- Video store in a Box – A guide to free Television and Movies.
- Record Store – A guide to free music
- Entrepreneur in a Box – A guide to the best ways to make money on the internet.
- App Store in a Box – A guide to the best free applications for mobile devices.
What technology helps you to write?
I use word and my laptop to write
Describe your writing schedule
I currently live on an 18 wheeler that goes cross country so I write when I can. This depends on thing like how bumpy the roads are. Whether I have internet and if I am in the mood.
When did you realise that readers were taking you seriously?
I don’t know and actually that’s okay I hope my writing helps people but I write for myself.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
The greatest joy of writing for me is the journey. Other writers know what I mean. You start with an idea and you watch it grow and change along the way. Just like a Bonsai tree grows and takes shape. As the author you prune off what is not needed and guide this idea till it takes its final shape as a book. I also get buzz when someone says my writing was able to help them in some way.
What do you do to publicise your books?
I mainly advertise through radio.
Do you write first and edit later, or do you perfect your writing as you go along?
I write first and edit second.
Do you outsource your formatting or do you do it yourself?
Yes I do. Since I publish through Smashwords it’s a must if you wish to keep your sanity.
What has been the best achievement in your writing career?
I haven’t got there yet ask me in a year.
What advice would you give to authors who are struggling to find enough time to write?
If you are serious and passionate about writing set a small amount of time aside. For me it was 11PM to midnight. Treat this time as non-negotiable and keep writing and eventually the book will be done.
What are your writing goals?
Right now my goal is just to get noticed.
Have you ever thought of writing fiction?
Yes I have thought about fiction and have a story in the works but my nonfiction comes first and I have outlines for 3 more books.
What do want people to learn from reading your work?
When it comes to the “In the Box” series of books it is how to save money and time with all the free resources on the internet.
Have you ever had any particularly good and / or particularly bad reviews? How did you feel upon reading them? Did you learn anything?
I have both good and bad reviews. I try not to let them affect me and remember everyone is entitled to their opinion.
What’s next for Chris?
I am currently writing “Production Studio in a Box: The Guide to making DVDs, CDs, Websites and other Media at Low or No Cost”.
Where can people buy your books?
Connect with Chris…
Chris has also been interviewed on Smashwords: Read Chris’ Interview