Friday, January 3, 2014



I had hoped to get this posted a couple days ago, but got busy doing other stuff and fell behind in updating it. I hope your 2013 ended on a high note and that 2014 is a great one for you. And now, on with the questions...

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, and Part 13 here.

Q: What’s the best thing you wrote this year?

That’s a tough one. Not to mention very subjective. I liked several things I wrote this year, although most won’t see print until 2014. Of the work I wrote this year that was published this year, I’d put my novel, Fight Card: Barefoot Bones for Fight Card Books up for that honor.

You cab learn more about Fight Card: Barefoot Bones here.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing the Ghost Gal novel at the moment. I’m also doing layout and design work on the Operation: Silver Moon graphic novel, which will have its own dedicated website soon. There are other things as well, plots to type up and send off for approvals, galleys to check, websites to update, and podcasts to record. I never seem to run out of things to keep me busy. Ha! Ha!

Q: What is your antagonist's political leaning?

I should start by pointing out that of all the topics out there, the one I like discussing the least is politics. I don’t belong to any political party, which usually is enough to start an argument with some folks. My characters, on the other hand, sometimes do
have opinions. In the upcoming Evil Intent, Donnie Lehmann is our antagonist. He is very much political, but when he doesn’t agree with things, he blows stuff up. As you can imagine, he has a few issues with the US government or it would be arather boring novel,  huh? Look for Evil Intent in 2014 from BEN Books.

Q: How did you finish the novel? I mean starting is easy, but ending is not.

You're absolutely right. Finishing is tough. I started to slow down around the halfway point. You just have to know where the story is going and work to get there. Aim for small goals, a chapter at a time, and with each goal reached you're that much closer to the end.

Best of luck with your writing.

Q: What’s your Favorite Steve Buscemi Movie?

There is something fun about Con Air. He owns that role. I also love him as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs and in Armageddon.

Q: What’s your Favorite Cuba Gooding, Jr. Movie?

Not a movie, but I loved his two appearances on MacGyver. A Few Good Men and Jerry Maguire are good flicks too.

Q: How many characters should your story have?

As few or as many as are necessary to tell the story. Since not all stories are the same, some may need more characters than others. I take it on a case by case basis.

Q: What does your antagonist fear?

In Deadly Games!, Darrin Morehouse fears losing. He’s a master manipulator and games player. Sometimes those games turn deadly, but no matter what game he’s playing,
Darrin Morehouse doesn’t like to lose. He’s kind of like Captain Kirk that way. HA! HA!

Q: What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

I generally avoid things like resolutions, but my plan for 2014 is to write more, sell more work to publishers and readers, and hopefully have a better year than 2013. I want to keep having fun as a writer, do more screenplays, and see if I can do a little more with this acting thing too. That's been more fun than I originally thought it would be.

Q: What is your favorite Captain Janeway quote?

“Dismissed. That's a Starfleet expression for ‘Get out.’”

Q: What are your favorite Starfleet uniforms from any Star Trek series/movie?

I love the movie uniforms that debuted with Wrath of Khan. I also love the uniforms that debuted in First Contact and were also used after that on DS9. Those are my favorites.

Q: What do other people like best about your antagonist?

The antagonist in Evil Ways is very likeable. I can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the reveal for those who haven’t read it yet.

Q: How do you decide a novel’s name?

A novel’s title is very important. There’s no right or wrong way to come up with a title. Sometimes I go into the story with a title already in place. That’ happened with my novel, Earthstrike Agenda. I had the title first and then crafted a story around the title.

Other times, the title comes to me while writing, as was the case with Evil Ways. There is a scene in the novel where one of the characters, a singer, is in a bar and gets pulled up on stage to sing with the house band. He does three classic rock songs. I turned my radio to a classic rock station and the next three songs they played were the ones I had him perform. One of those songs was Evil Ways. I realized that might make a good title and I added it to the list of possible titles for the novel. I started calling it Evil Ways as a placeholder title, but the name stuck and I ended up using it as my title. That then helped with the title for the upcoming second Harold Palmer thriller called Evil Intent.

There are also times when the title is the last thing you come up with. My Deadly Games! novel was originally called Games! I was in talks with a publisher about the novel and it was
suggested that Games! wasn’t a strong enough title so I added the Deadly part. The publisher also didn’t like the exclamation point at the end of the title, but I stuck to my guns on that one. I really liked the added punch it added. Even though that publisher did not end up publishing the novel, the change to the title remained.

Lance Star
Q: How do you create your characters?

This is one of those questions that is very difficult to answer because it changes from character to character. Some characters come to me fully formed, as if they were a real person. Others, I have to piece together as I go. People watching is a great way to learn how people talk, act, dress, and interact with one another. Go out to a mall or a theater and just watch people. That is a good starting point. Once I find a voice for my characters, I can hear them talk to me. Once I get to know the characters, they will tell me what they will or will not do. Once a character feels real to you as the writer, that character will feel real to the reader as well.

Q: At every stage in novel is the twist necessary? I mean, are too many twists necessary?
The twist...

Not really. Some novels have twists. Some don’t. The best advise I can give you is to write the story you want to tell. Don’t go into the writing process trying to write to what you think will sell or what you think a publisher will want. That way lies madness. Write the story you want to tell. You can worry about selling it later.

Q: What do I do after finishing the novel? I mean, do the publishing house print it in one go?

These days there are many different options open to writers. There are all manner of publishers from the large New York publishers to medium sized publishers, small press, and even self publishing. It is up to you to decide which route is the best one for you as a writer and for your novel. Research potential publishers and agents. A good resource is the Preditors and Editors website, which you can find at

Q: Can you read my story?

No. I’m sorry, but I can’t.

Q: Why not?

It’s nothing personal. Over the years, many writers have been sued because they read something and then, years later, wrote something similar. It isn’t that those writers stole the idea or anything like that, but sometimes things stick in the back of your mind. Years later, the writer may get a story idea and not even remember reading your story. To protect ourselves, most professional writers don't read stories for this reason, especially from people we don’t know personally.

Q: What was your favorite film of 2013?

Between tight deadlines and even tighter finances, I didn’t see a whole lot of movies this year. Of the ones I did see, my favorite is Thor: The Dark World.

Q: Which movies are you looking forward to this year?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier tops my list. The new Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit looks interesting. Plus, Guardians of The Galaxy.

Q: Before we get to Happy NEW Year, let's talk about the OLD Year. Hit me with your highlights.

This was probably my best writing year in terms of picking up work from publishers. Most of that work will hit shelves in 2014. I've met some wonderful new people at cons, on-line, through the Earth Station One podcast, and in my assorted travels. I also filmed my first speaking role in a movie (Fat Chance) and had a nice small featured extra part in an upcoming TV pilot and was an extra in a couple movies too. More on those in 2014. I also got to visit the Starship Farragut Studios, which have rebuilt the sets from the original Star Trek series (I also got to see a rough cut of the episode I wrote for Starship Farragut called “Conspiracy of Innocence” that will premiere on-line in 2014). That was a magical experience.

While there are certainly things that did not go so well for me in 2013, I’m trying to focus on the positive. This question really brought it home to me how fortunate I have been because as I started writing the answer I kept thinking of new things to add.

Happy New Year!

Q: How are YOU celebrating this New Year's Eve?

No plans. I generally just stay at home on New Year’s Eve, which is what I did this year. It was a very exciting time. I was watching an episode of Arrow on DVD as the clock struck midnight. I do lead a madcap lifestyle, don’t I?

Q: What is your personal theme song?

I've never really thought about it before, but two themes I like that would make for a cool personal theme song are the themes to Magnum p.i. and Matt Houston. I quite often find myself hearing one of those tunes in my head. I considered Airwolf for this, but I always equate the end of that theme with a plane being blown up. HA! HA! It's great to listen to when writing Lance Star: Sky Ranger.

If you’re asking about an actual song, Aerosmith’s Dream On is a good one because as a writer I’m always putting that into practice.

Q: It's a NEW YEAR, and that means new experiences and skills are on the horizon. What new writerly thing do you plan to master in 2014?

I need to get better about avoiding the interruptions and distractions that plagued me often in 2013. Writing and typing faster would be nice too.

I also have several open projects that I really need to finish up this year. Lots of work ahead of me.

Q: Your life sounds such a drag..... always as if you write under presure…..

I write under deadlines. While it's true that can sometimes cause pressure, I absolutely love what I do. I feel very blessed to be as busy as I am. I do take on too many things at times, but that's my fault. I don't look on being a writer as a drag at all. I just have to get better about scheduling time off for myself.

I post what I’m working on across my various social media pages, which is where this question came from in response to me posting this: “One short piece of writing on my plate today is completed. Going to spend a few hours working on Ghost Gal. Later, I have a new ESO podcast to post to and a new "Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff..." for tomorrow. Whew.”

I certainly hope my posts don’t convey that I am not happy as a writer. Far from it. I have worked for several years to reach this stage. I still have a long way to go to get to where I ultimately wish to be, but I wouldn’t trade this journey I’ve been on for anything.

Q: What can [readers] do to help others find your books?

First off, thank you for asking that. It is always a great thrill to see someone talking about my book or sharing my website. I do see that happen from time to time. Certainly, word of mouth is a great thing. If you like my work, this website, the Earth Station One podcast, or any of the other things I’m involved with, please tell your friends who might also find them of interest.

Another good way is to leave reviews of my books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and places like that. The more reviews a book gets, the higher it goes in the ranking so the more people see it. Reviews are a wonderful gift you can give a writer. Plus, it costs you nothing. Speaking of which, you can find my books on Amazon at my Amazon Author Page, which you can find 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.



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