Brent Nielsen: Author, Centurion, Spear Carrier
Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 3:00PM
Diane in Member Spotlights & Resources

Member Spotlight Interview by Minion Heather Webb.

Heather: Centurions as characters!  Tell us how you came up with that idea.Brent Nielsen

Bent: I got the idea to write a story about a pair of brothers joining and fighting in the Roman Legions as a small boy of eight or nine but wrote my first ‘saga’ of ten chapters, THE GREEN KNIGHT, shortly after reading THE HOBBIT in fifth Grade.

Since that time, someone convinced me to write the newsletter for the rugby team or motorcycle groups I have belonged to, or projects for the US Army. A few years ago, I became enamored with Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories “Tales of Long ago” and converted them into plays, and then did the same thing for P.G. Wodehouse’s ‘Pighooey!’

Do you participate in any online groups or organizations?

In addition to Pitch University, I occasionally contribute to a Facebook page called Absolute Write, a group made up of mostly self-published authors who want to discuss the latest trends in writing and marketing.

Professionally speaking, I belong to several historical groups devoted to everything ‘Roman’.

It sounds like you’re an avid researcher and active in the writing community. How did you discover Pitch-University?

I joined Pitch U while searching through an agent website. The website was bogus, but Pitch U and Writer’s Digest absolutely were not.

The alpha-male oriented should be my target audience. Unfortunately, we can be rough on even the most experienced members, not a place for the thin-skinned authors who are proposing a fictional story to obsessive-compulsive, detail freaks.

I found Pitch U to be much more nurturing and friendly; like having a bowl of Campbell’s soup with June Lockhart. Ouch! Did I just date myself?

We’re so glad you find PitchU a warm, friendly place. We love our writers! Can you tell us a little bit about how PitchU has helped you in your quest to become a better writer?

With improved typing skills, increased speed and more than two fingers, a ‘wordiness’ crept into my prose. Pitch U reintroduced ‘brevity’ to my writing. On occasion, I see a similar affliction in other members. I would like to believe I returned the favor.

My first book was self-published. I sent a query for the completed sequel to the Charles Viney Agency in England; the same agency representing Ben Kane. I have yet to receive a response, but Pitch U definitely refreshed my sales skills! These tonics serve me well as practice for the big sale, when that happens.

I love your optimism. Do you think pitching is different from querying?

I believe pitching is a very different skill from query writing, albeit with the same goal. When pitching individual book sales, I have just seconds to sell the idea, an interest in the story. It is the query that ultimately sells the book, but the pitch is the ‘hook’. The best pitch is in the title. Title is 90% of what sells me on unfamiliar authors.

Either I continue talking and the buyer reads the back of the book and takes my card to order …or he/she shrugs a shoulder, ‘not my thing,’ and walks away. For books two and three, my pitch and query are interchangeable because the original characters are now older Centurions and in Gaul.

Will you be attending any conferences this year?

I might attend a writers conference if it were held in Atlanta or even more locally, but I travel quite a bit with work already so out of state conference attendance would have to remain coincidental.

Do you have a motto?

I suppose my motto would be Brevi venderes! Simple sells!


Thanks for being a part of Pitch-University, Brent. We hope to see you in the forums soon.

Brent is a native of the California Bay Area. He joined the army after graduating from San Jose State University in 1979. After ten years in service in the military, he divided his time between rugby, motorcycles, construction, teaching, theater, and raising kids in Columbus Georgia.

Now that life no longer interferes with his writing plans, he intends to make FIRST SPEAR into a historical fiction series, chronicling the lives of Centurions mentioned in Caesar’s commentaries.


by Heather Webb

Heather is a historical fiction writer, but dabbles occasionally in YA. When she’s not writing by the glow of her coffee pot light, she’s chasing her gremlins, ogling kitchen gadgets, sampling wine, or on an airplane to her next destination. Her “real” job is the Executive Director of New England Virtual High School, an online school for teens.

After discovering Pitch U, Heather became hooked to its invaluable columns and wonderfully supportive staff.  When asked to become part of the team, she was thrilled! This is THE PLACE to be. You can also find her on the web at her BLOG for writing tips, recipes, and pop culture rants or follow her on Twitter.

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