Sunday, January 26, 2014


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, and they have 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.

Check out past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, Part 8 here, Part 9 here, Part 10 here, Part 11 here, Part 12 here, Part 13 here, and Part 14 here.

There's a lot of questions this time around so let's dive right in, shall we?

Q: Via Facebook: I'd like to summon all of my comic-creator pals to this thread. Post the cover of your very first published comic work, along with the release date. Let's be old and decrepit together.

Here's the first professional comic I wrote:
Demonslayer: Vengeance #1
Published by Avatar Press
Released 2001

Q: Are you currently working on a writing project?

Oh, I'm always working on something. I'm in the middle of the first (of a series if all goes as planned) Ghost Gal novel for Raven's Head Press. I'm also doing edits on a screenplay (due next week), preparing a graphic novel for press, and doing prep work on the Honey West/Domino Lady novel for Moonstone Books. Plus, there are always assorted odds and ends to which I need to attend. Whew. It’s busy, but I like it. Busy is good, right?

Q: In what time period is your story set, and why did you choose it?

I’m all over the map with time periods. I write for a few publishers who handle pulp fiction and media tie-ins. In those instances, the time period is set by the publishers so I write 1920’s - 1960’s on a fairly regular basis. For my novels, Evil Ways, Deadly Games!, and their upcoming sequels, I set things in the present, which is a nice change of pace from the period pieces I write.

Q: What takes you out of the writing mood? What sound drags you away from a blooming manuscript? What situation call pull you right out of your writing fantasy world?

Interruptions and distractions. When someone walks in and starts talking to me, it pulls me right out of things. I can listen to music while writing, but not the TV. The TV will draw my attention and no writing will be accomplished. The internet is another distraction that can suck up a lot of time, especially Facebook and Twitter. I love them both, but they can be a big time suck.

Q: Been to the movies this past year? What is your favorite book to film of 2013?

I didn’t get out to the movies as often as I would have liked in 2013. Of the handful of movies I saw in the theater, Thor: The Dark World was probably my favorite. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would most likely be my second favorite of the year.

Q: What’s your favorite George Clooney movie?

O' Brother Where Art Thou followed by The Peacemaker. The Ocean's 11 movies are also great fun and I enjoy From Dusk Till Dawn. I especially love the ZZ Top theme song for the movie. The video features George Clooney and Salma Hayek too. Watch it here.

Q: What one thing will you do differently this year that will most improve your author success?

Better marketing. Getting my books in front of readers is very important. Also, I need to have better time management so I can get everything done on deadline.

Q: Have you ever changed the end of a book? Did you do it because of a publisher or critique partner's suggestion? Did you do it because your own instinct told you to it should be different?

A little of both. Changes have been made because of editor and/or publisher suggestions. I also have changed the endings because the ending I had originally planned wither didn’t work or the characters took things in a slightly different direction. In my story for Nightbeat: Night Stories, the ending changed because of some dialogue a character said. I realized that I had the villain all wrong in my head. This revelation made the story so much better so I went back through the story to plant the seeds of the reveal only to discover, to my great joy, that they were already there. I love it when the story comes alive that way.

You can learn more about Radio Archives’ Nightbeat: Night Stories here.

Q: What new resources will you add to your author arsenal this year?

I’m excited to work with some editors and publishers for the first time this year. On the tool side of things, I am in dire need of a new computer and hope to make that happen in 2014.

Q: What’s your Favorite Stevie Nicks Song?

Stop Dragging My Heart Around (with Tom Petty). Listen to it here.

Q: There are so many looooong songs in Classic Rock - What's your favorite? 

I love a good long song. I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Credence Clearwater Revival is definitely one of my favorites. 10 minutes and 55 seconds of pure bliss. Give it a listen here.

Q: Does your antagonist own any pets?

Met this guy back in 2010
Not really. I haven’t written any pets recently, especially for the villains. I should probably rectify that soon.

Q: What’s your Favorite Stevie Wonder Song?

Oh, so many so I'll go with the first one that popped into my head-- Superstition. Listen to it here.

Q: Who is your favorite Doctor Who Villain?

Look! Up in the sky!
Doctor Who has some great looking villains. I really like the clockwork men from "The Girl In The Fireplace." Freaky looking villains. Other favorites are Daleks, Sontarans, and the Weeping Angels.

Q: Who's Your Favorite Superman?

Ooh. That’s a tough one. There have been some really good portrayals of te Man of Steel over the years. For the look: Christopher Reeve. For Clark Kent: George Reeves. For the voice: Tim Daly. How's that for cheating an answer?  :)

Oh, and then I visited Metropolis and met the guy in the picture on the left.

Q: How many of my writer peeps out there have ever read the book "On Writing" by Stephen King?

I've read some of it. What I read was pretty good. I am not a big fan of “how to write” books as a general rule. So much of writing is learning as you go, but some can be helpful.

Q: What’s your Favorite Sylvester Stallone Movie?

Another tough one. Rocky is my go to answer here because it's such a powerful movie. Other favorites for me are First Blood, Demolition Man, and Tango and Cash. Yes. I like Tango and Cash.

Q: Do you write the same kind of work that you love to read? If not, what do you write instead?

Sure. I don’t stick to writing or reading just one genre. Variety being the spice of life and all, I write stories that I will enjoy and hope that there is an audience that will enjoy them as well. If I’m not having fun writing it, they probably won’t have fun reading it.

Q: How does your antagonist act when he's angry?

In Evil Ways, people die when my antagonist gets angry.
In Deadly Games!, people die when my antagonist gets angry.
In Earthstrike Agenda, people die when my antagonist gets angry.
In the upcoming Domino Lady: Money Shot, people die when my antagonist gets angry.
In the upcoming Evil Intent, things explode and people die when my antagonist gets angry.

I’m sensing a theme here.

Q: Which Cardassian would you enjoy having a dinner conversation with?

I love the Cardassians. They are one of my favorite Star Trek baddies. Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat is cool, but I’m not sure I would like dining with the character. Dinner with Andrew Robinson’s Garak would be awesome. I met him at a convention once. Nice guy.

Q: Any one character or story which your jazzed about going into final draft? I know sometimes writing nobs along.

Right not my focus is on Ghost Gal and Operation: Silver Moon with Honey West/Domino Lady and a couple of screenplay gig in the wings that I can’t quite talk about yet.

Q: What was the first/earliest book you remember loving?

I loved reading Encyclopedia Brown mysteries when I was a kid.

Q: What is your favorite Harrison Ford movie?

WOW. This is a tough one. Harrison Ford is probably my favorite actor. I probably own more movies starring Harrison Ford than anyone else.

I'd have to go with Raiders of the Lost Ark on this one.
Other favorites include the Star Wars movies, the Indiana Jones movies, The Fugitive, Witness, Presumed Innocent, and Clear and Present Danger.

Q: When you have pain in the butt obligations, do your experiences of those somehow show up in your writing? Does your character get frustrated? The sky grow stormy? The story get angsty when you have to do things you don't want to do? Things that change your comfortable routine?

Oh, yes. Personal issues are perfect fodder for stories. I’ve used my own experiences before and will no doubt do so again. In Evil Ways, for example, it rains almost throughout the entire novel. At the time I was working on the first draft it was raining a lot and that mood infected my writing and added an extra layer to the story.

letter in novel sample
Q: How does your antagonist act when he's sad?

When the antagonist in Evil Ways gets sad, people die.

Q: What are some options for displaying a long letter in a novel? (5 paragraphs)  Do I use another font, indent or what? Do I use quotation marks?

Whenever I display a letter in a prose story, I add an extra indention to it on both sides, making it skinnier so it stands apart from the rest of the text. Here’s a sample of how I used this format in my Earthstrike Agenda novel.

Q: Who is your favorite Tarzan?

My Tarzan is Ron Ely. He was the first Tarzan I was aware of. That Tarzan yell was pretty amazing. In comics form, it’s hard to argue with Joe Kubert’s version.

Q: What’s your favorite Antoine Fuqua movie?

Training Day. Amazing film.

Q: What’s your favorite movie version of a Batman super-villain?

Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, Mark Hamill as The Joker in Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker, Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins, Michelle Pfeifer's Catwoman in Batman Returns are favorites. Really, all of the Catwomen have been great. Well, I haven't seen the Halle Berry Catwoman so I can't speak to that one, but I hear things. :)

There’s also something special about all of the villains working together in the Batman ’66 movie. They are all so good together.

Q: Favorite TV theme song?

I had a similar question last time. Theme songs are becoming a lost art as so many shows no longer do them. Here are some of my favorites over the years: Magnum p.i., Airwolf, Matt Houston, MacGyver, Highlander, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Battlestar Galactica (2nd series), Buffy, Babylon 5, Six Million Dollar Man, Hawaii Five-0, and Married... With Children. There’s probably more I’ve forgotten to mention.

Jeez. I think I watch too much TV.  :)

Q: What's your dream project?

I would love to write The Fantastic Four one of these days.

Q: How do you stand on the use of 'Suddenly'? I read somewhere recently that it shouldn't be used. Any thoughts to this?

I use the words I need to use when I need to use them to fit the story… unless the editor tells me otherwise.

Q: Do you track your daily word count? If so, what is your daily word count goal?

I shoot for 1,500 - 2,000 words a day. This is just fiction. I don’t count the words typed for this Q&A session, for example. I only count the number of words I write of a story. If I counted everything I typed all day my number would be significantly higher, but it’s only the words typed for the story that goes to print.

Q: Which actor would play the lead character in your current work in progress?

I don’t usually cast my characters for their film roles, mainly because I don’t want to get stuck thinking that Evil Ways’ Harold Palmer has to look like Brad Pitt, for example. I’d be over the moon if a studio optioned one of my books for film though. That would be interesting.

Q: If your current work in progress book was made into a movie ... who would you want to direct it?

Good question. Much like the “what actor?” question above, I’ve never actually thought about this before. I really don’t know. Evil Ways or Deadly Games! would need a director who understands suspense. Lance Star: Sky Ranger would need a director who gets the big action pieces. Earthstrike Agenda would need someone with an eye for suspense and action. I'll have to give this one some thought.

Q: What is the worst thing your antagonist has ever done to someone - and why?

That one is tough to answer without giving away spoilers. Let’s just say that the antagonists in Evil Ways and Deadly Games! are pretty brutal when they need to be. Both of them have killed before and probably will again. It’s the how that is unique to each of them.

Q: I was wondering if you would be willing to share some advice concerning an unpublished author looking to get started. Submit short stories? Or is it too ambitious to submit a novel right out of the gate? 

There really is no right or wrong answer here. Short stories are a good way to get your work out because you can do them faster than a novel and hopefully find a home for them and start building a fan base. However, if you don't want to write short stories then it's best to do the novel you want to write and see what happens. My best advice is to decide what the best career path is for you and plan accordingly. Tailor your work goals to take you in the direction you want to go.

Good luck.

Q: I was interested in purchasing some of your work--do I do so through your website?

I do indeed. There are links at and to my work. I've written novels, short stories, audio adventures, and comic books. Most are still available for purchase. I have a small selection of books here that I can sell direct at cover price plus shipping, autographed for free, of course. If you see a book you'd like that doesn't have the "Buy Now" button, let me know. If I have it on hand, I can ship it.

Q: I heard 1,000 words a day is minimum to complete a novel within a decent timeframe--do you agree?

1,000 words a day is good, but if you can only squeeze in 500 a day, that's fine too. 500 single spaced words is approximately 1 page on 8 1/2 x 11 size manuscript. How many words you can do a day all depends on you. Even if you only write 100 words a day, you are still making progress. I wouldn't stress over the daily word count while you're writing because some days you will soar past it and other days you will fall short. It happens.

When you're done for the day, then check your word count and see how you did if you want to keep track. All your publisher and readers care about is the finish product so whatever method works best for you to tell that story is the best way to go. Every writer is different. Set goals that work best for your schedule. If you only have an hour a day to write, then whatever you can do in that hour is what you can do.

Q: I find I write totally different in the early morning than in the afternoon, and then even different in the evening and late at night (different meaning context, emotional levels, basic dynamics of the experience differing throughout the day). Is this the same for you, or are you able to carry the same mood or setting across the day into night? Sometimes I work on three different stories/books in the space of a day because of my changing experience-just wondering about your dynamics.

It varies for me, but I can usually stay in the same story no matter the time of the day I work on it. Of course, like you, I'm always juggling more than one thing at a time so if I need to, I can switch over to something else.

Q: Have you ever used a pen name? If so, why?

I've contemplated using a pen name before, but have not done so. Maybe one day. Who knows? Pen names are often used when a writer is known for writing one type of story and wants to move into another genre. Publishers more so than readers (I think) feel that readers who like Stephen King’s horror novels won’t like a non-horror novel by him. So he chooses a pen name. I’ve not had cause to write under a pen name, although as I type this I wonder if those who know my pulp work won’t read my thrillers because they think I can only do pulp stories.

Hmmm… Something to think on.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on pen names. Do you follow authors into different genres or do you think a writer should stick to only one type of story? Post your thoughts below in the comments section.

Q: Why do all of our favorite sci fi characters have to die?

That's writing 101. As a writer, you want to create compelling characters that the reader will connect with… and then you put those characters through hell for the enjoyment of the reader. As a writer, I want to make my audience feel for the characters and then, once they do, I twist the knife.

Q: Do you ever work on more than one project at a time?  Or do you find it slows down completion time for both?

I'm always juggling multiple projects. Plus, you never know when edits, galleys, or artwork is going to come in on other projects in production already so there are always a few irons in the fire. Plus, while writing one story, I might already be researching and plotting the next. Sometimes it slows down things, but other times it helps me do more per day.

Q: Some writers are purists and stick with poetry, or fiction prose, or experimental ... but have any of you ever attempted to write a screen play? 100 double-spaced pages of simple, clean dialogue taken from your full manuscript and meant to convey the power of your story? Have you ever taken that challenge?

I have. I wrote a screenplay for a fan film series called Starship Farragut. I met them at a convention where we sat across the aisle from one another. After a weekend of hearing their episodes playing, I felt I knew the characters and talked to them about trying my hand at a screenplay for them. It will be released in a few short months. I’ve seen the rough cut of the film and it’s pretty cool.

I also wrote a screenplay for a short film that was recently picked up for production. I met with the producer and director last week. That one will happen later this year.

I plan to do more as well.

Q: Does Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) really bring new readers out, or does it make existing readers scramble for comics and cheap people just drop by and grab a book, never to be seen again. Opinions?

I see a lot of people come in for the freebies who won't step foot back in a comic shop until the next FCBD. That said, however, I'm sure there are some new readers picked up. At least I hope so. I've been fortunate to be part of FCBD celebrations that make it an event where not only can potential new fans meet creators and cosplayers, but it becomes a meet-n-greet for existing fans and readers. Cultivating a community of locals with similar interests is also a good thing, I'd say.

You can find my books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, and more.

Bobby and friends
at FCBD 2013
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...

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