Saturday, August 24, 2013


"I'm the Ghost with the Most, Babe."
Part 8? WOW. I am stunned and humbled. Thanks so much for all of the great questions and for stopping by to read the answers. I hope they've been helpful. Please, keep sending those questions along. I love 'em. If this keeps up, I might have to give this feature its own tab in the header above.

One of the perks of being a writer is getting to meet some of the most interesting people. Whether it is at conventions, store signings, through the Earth Station One podcast, writer’s groups, on social media, and sometimes just from people I run into on when I venture out of the cave I call my office, I get asked questions. Sometimes they are about writing or what I’m working on. Other times they’re out of left field. I thought it would be interesting to share some of them along with a few answers. Regardless of where they come from, here’s a few of the latest.
Don't worry. I got this one, Superman.

Check out Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, and Part 7 here.

Let's get started, shall we?

Q: What's your Favorite Michael Keaton Movie?

Beetlejuice. Followed closely by Batman, I think.

Q: Are you on Pinterest?

A fun con panel. Talkin' comic books.
I am. I don't post as often as I should, but my Pinterest page can be found at

Q: Who is your favorite Superman bad guy?

That’s a tough one. It’s probably either Brainiac or Darkseid.

Q: What methods do you use to promote your books?

I post wherever I can. Social media, podcasts, my website [] along with forums, message boards, and wherever talking about books is allowed. I also do convention, visit stores, and have a mailing list. It’s a start. I’m open to suggestions. If you’ve got
A guilty pleasure movie.
good promotional ideas, send them along.

Q: How does one go about finding a good Beta reader?

Usually, my beta reader is someone I know that I know will be honest with his or her critique. I don't use a site or service though.

Q: Do you edit as you write? Or are you the kind of writer who needs to get the first draft down before doing any editing?

A little of both. At the beginning of each day, I’ll read over the previous chapter I wrote and may make an edit or two at that time. After I’m finished, I give the story another edit.

I love setting up at cons.
Q: Are Facebook Author pages worth it or not? I can't decide whether to create one or not.

I have one. You can find it here. I have people who follow it that aren't on my friend list on my personal page. Please stop by and give it a "Like!"

Q: You do conventions. Do you do a lot of business (sell books) at conventions?  How or where do you find conventions to attend?

Selling at cons is hit or miss. At some cons you sell well while at others, not so much. It's a real toss up, but overall I think attending conventions is worth it. I make sure I hand out postcards, business cards, etc. and usually see a sales spike the week after a con. For me, cons are part of my marketing and promotion plan. I love meeting fans, other creators, and vendors. I also love doing panels.

Hearing "Stuck in the middle with
you" still reminds me of this scene.
Do a search for conventions (plus your area) and see what's there. The bigger shows are a bit harder to get on as a guest. See what the requirements are and pick the ones that work best for you and try it out. You just have to make sure the travel, table (sometimes), and hotel expenses are worth it to you.

Q: Your Favorite Michael Madsen Movie?

Hard to beat Madsen’s turn in Reservoir Dogs.

My co-writer.
Q: Are you a "healthy" author? Go to the gym regularly or take daily walks? Eat healthy snacks while you write? Drink green tea and water all day? Take workshops and classes periodically to improve your craft?

Not nearly as much as I should. I take walks, but when I get busy working I keep pushing it off to do later, which never seems to get there. I need to improve my time management in this area. I also need to lose some weight.

Q: Your Favorite Elmore Leonard Novel?

I have to admit that I've not read nearly enough of them, which I'm slowly correcting. Raylan is next on my list as I love Justified. I have enjoyed Karen Sisko's story as well.

Q: Do you use bookmarks when you read? If so, what do you use--a traditional bookmark, Post-its, anything near by? If not, how do you note where you left off in a book?

I just grab whatever’s handy. Usually, it’s one of the leftover promotional postcards from one of my books. Those things are all over the place around here.

Great advice.
Q: Do you keep track of your word count each day? Just wondered what you average.

I generally average between 1,000 and 2,000 per day on fiction. That doesn't count things like press releases, emails, blog posts, updates to All Pulp, ESO, my various websites (here, here, here, here, and here), etc. which I also do on an almost daily basis. If I counted those, the number would no doubt double.

Q: Where do you go for relief? Writing can be stressful and terribly demanding. What is you favorite place to get a breath of fresh air? A movie? The Park? Under the bed? Into the refrigerator?
I am long overdue for a trip.

I sometimes just have to get out of the house. Even just going out for a walk or a drive helps. I love the beach, very relaxing, but I don’t live close to one so I don’t get there very often.

Q: Your Favorite Mickey Rourke Movie?

I really liked The Wrestler with Sin City a close second. Favorite guilty pleasure movie: Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man.

Q: Do you like variant covers?

Morgan Freeman
I don't generally buy variant covers on my comics. If there are variants, I pick the one I like best. I don’t buy every single variant. Some readers do and that’s okay. It’s their prerogative and their money. I think giving readers a choice between two covers is okay. Some publishers take it too far though with 10 or more variants per issue. They aren’t going away though. Bottom line: if you don’t like variant covers, you don’t have to buy them.

Variant covers is not just comic books. Novels and DVDs do it as well, although not to the degree of comics, but I have seen novels with multiple cover images depending on where they are released.

Q: If you were going to have an audio recording made of your work, who would you want to have do the voice-over?

Doesn't everything sound better when read by Morgan Freeman?

Q: What "go-to" phrases in scripted entertainment do you think have become so hackneyed that it's time to call for a moratorium?

“Let’s do this” and “That's what we do” are the first that come to mind. I admit, I am guilty of using one of them.

Q: At what point in you life did you realize that you wanted to be an author? Did it change your life direction?

I started out wanting to draw comic books and started writing stories so I would have something to draw. I then started writing more and drawing less as work started to open up for me. Then, one day I decided to write a novel and from there everything changed.

Q: While writing a story have you ever gotten a good ways in and figured out that it just wasn't working and had to start over? How do you look at a situation like that, disappointing or good lesson?

It happens. One of the worst feelings is to have to cut several thousand words from your manuscript. Every cut hurts, but I have to look at making the finished story the best it can be and if those words need to go then they need to go. Doesn’t stop me from crying over them though (HA! HA!). I cut quite a bit from Earthstrike Agenda, for example, that focused on how
Art: Douglas Klauba
they got to that point. It read more like a history lesson than a novel and it slowed down the narrative so it had to go. Evil Ways went the opposite route. I felt the opening wasn’t strong enough to hook readers so I wrote a new opening after I was finished. So, the first thing you read in Evil Ways was the last thing I wrote. The new opening starts out (literally) with a bang and gave me a way to plant seeds for Evil Intent, which I hope to have finished by the end of the year (crosses fingers).

Sometimes the characters will dictate changes as well. If I’ve done my job well, the characters will become real to me, taking on a life of their own. In that case, sometimes the characters will then inform me that I am not writing them correctly and I have to cut parts that don’t work. This happened to me in the story I wrote for Radio Archive’s Nightbeat: Night Stories. I was almost finished with the story when I realized that the villain of the story wasn’t who I thought it was so I had to go back to the beginning to make sure it still made

And sometimes you just get a really good idea for the story; perhaps some twist or plot point that makes the whole story better. Then you have to go back and do rewrites to accommodate that change. There is a point in Deadly Games! where one character says something that makes a small, almost throwaway piece of another character’s back story become so much more important than originally intended. It added depth to both characters and increased tension in the scene, but did not change the overall story.

Q: What is your favorite television series finale episode?

One of my all-time favorite shows.
Great question. It’s hard to nail down one favorite, but using the criteria of one I rewatch more than any other, I’ll go with M*A*S*H’s finale, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” which is one I can watch time and again. I admit, the last 30 minutes still chokes me up to this day.

Here are a few other series finales that really worked for me.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine-- It’s no secret that DS9 is my favorite of the Star Trek series as a whole. The finale had everything I wanted, but it’s not really a standalone episode you can just sit down and watch. You really have to have watched the previous 9 or 10
episodes, which are fantastic. We even get a happy ending… before we get the sad one.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- TNG, on the other hand, offered up a nice little movie for their finale that can be watched on its own and features some of Trek’s finest tropes like time travel, alternate realities, and Picard and Q facing off against one another. This is a fun one. It also ends happily, sending the crew off to big screen adventures.

Babylon 5-- Another one that’s hard to watch solo because it requires so much knowledge of what has come before it, but it is a bittersweet and touching hour of television that lets us say goodbye to characters we’d grown to love over the previous 5 years.

ST:DS9-- my favorite Star Trek series.
Cheers-- This one was a big deal when it aired and I was a fan of the show. It ended on a rather low key scene that told us that come the next morning, Cheers would once again be open for business.

Stargate: Atlantis-- Like Cheers and TNG, Atlantis ended its run with the promise that tomorrow the characters would continue on to a new adventure. It was a fun, action-packed hour of TV. At the time, Atlantis was planning to go on to movies until MGM’s financial issues derailed that plan.

Stargate Atlantis
Newhart-- This one makes a lot of people’s list for the same reason it does mine. I didn’t see it coming. Sadly, I don’t remember much of the actual episode, but the final shot, that surprise ending that none of us saw coming, really stuck with me.

Magnum p.i.-- This show actually had two series finales. The first one saw the title character die and walk off into the afterlife before the network decided to bring the show back for one more shortened season. The finale there ended with the characters heading off in new directions and was a nice send off to these characters we loved.

The Leverage cast
More recently, I thought Leverage wrapped up their series quite nicely, even though I would have much rather had them go on for another season or two.

Geez, putting this list together made me realize that I watch a lot of TV.

ESO's Favorite Series Finales
The ESO podcast did an episode discussing our favorite series finales. If you’re interested, check out Earth Station One episode 106 (released way back on April 11, 2012 - might be time to revisit this topic) here.

And I think that is a good place to finish this round of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… Do you have any questions you’d like me to answer? Post them here as a comment or send them along to and I’ll answer them in a future installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff...

Also, please sign up for my mailing list. Drop me an email at and I'll happily add you to the list.

Let's do this again real soon.


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