Thursday, November 26, 2015

SOMETIMES I GET ASKED STUFF… PART 31

I know it’s been some time since I last posted one of these, but we’re finally back for a 31st installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… and I'm thankful for your patience (see what I did there?) I know I’ve said it before, but thank you for the continued questions. I love answering them. Please, keep ‘em coming. Hopefully, I won’t take so long to get the next batch answered and posted.

You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... here.

Q: What are you reading?

I recently finished Breaking Creed by Alex Kava and Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop. Both highly recommended. Up next is The Crossing by Michael Connelly.

Q: Do you get caught up in research? Before beginning the book? While writing the book? Or after the book is finished in preparation for a edit?

Sometimes. There's usually a bit of research before I start, but I'm always running across ideas or events in the writing that leads to more research. I enjoy research. It can be fun.

Q. What does it mean to you to "go pro" as a writer? What are the criteria to consider oneself a professional writer?

I guess the easiest criteria for defining professional writer is did I get paid? If the answer is yes, congratulations, you’re a professional writer. However, I’ve mentioned many times, both in this column and in interviews, that the measure of success is different for everyone. Did your book or story get published? That counts too, regardless of money. Did someone read your story? That could count as well.

Q. How does a writer make the step from amateur to pro?

I wrote for a few years before I ever saw a dime for my efforts. Technically, I became a pro when that first paid work arrived, but a lot happened before that moment that is professional grade work, I think, but I was still considered an amateur because I had not made any money. Like so many other things in life, your mileage may vary.

Q: How many books have you written? How many published?

Good question. I really don't have a solid answer (and I'm not home to count at the moment). The last time I counted (for a similar question in an interview) I was approaching 100 stories written for publication (some held up with the publishers, but written). The published number is definitely in the double digits (that's counting novels, anthologies, magazines, comic books, and ebooks).

Q: Imagine that you just realized that your plot could take a different route than you originally thought or planned. Both paths can lead to the same conclusion. Both are exciting and interesting. Do you stick with your plan? Take the detour and commit to that direction? Or write both then decide which is best for the story?

This happens more often than most readers might imagine. At least for me. More often than not, I take the detour because it usually happens organically and so feels more real to the characters and situations. I've had some of the best parts of a story come about because the character wanted to go left instead of right like I wanted him or her to go. Following the character(s) has led me to some interesting places. The best example of this is in the Nightbeat: Night Stories ebook/audio book anthology from Radio Archives. I didn't realize the actual identity of the villain until the hero of the story did. I had originally planned it to be someone else, but the characters kept getting int he way, which led to a more interesting story, I think.

Q: Authors often cross talents with television writers. ... Have you ever thought about writing a television series? What kind of series would it be?

I would love to write for TV. I think it would be a lot of fun. The closest I've come so far is writing an episode of two fan series: Starship Farragut's "Conspiracy of Innocence" and I kibitzed on the script for Star Trek Continues "Pilgrim of Eternity." It was exciting to watch the episodes once they were done.

Watch Starship Farragut: Conspiracy of Innocence here.

Watch Star Trek Continues: Pilgrim of Eternity here.

Q: I'm writing a novel can you tell me who to send it to when I'm done, I'm new at this?

Sadly, there's no easy answer for that. It depends on many factors like what type of horror, length of book, age of your target audience, that sort of thing. All publishers look for various different types of stories. Best bet is to google horror novel publishers and check their submission guidelines to see which publisher is looking for the type of story you're telling. Best of luck with your novel.

Q: How do you feel about reviews and sales success? Do you pitch reviewer blogs? Do you pay for reviews?

I love reviews. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad review (although we all prefer the good ones) it feels great to know that not only did someone buy and read something I wrote, but that he or she was moved to write about it. That’s huge. I try to return the favor and review books that I read as well. I don’t pitch reviewer blogs on a regular basis, but I have seen some who are offering to do interviews and have contacted them in regard to that. I never pay for reviews.

Q: What is your favorite Holiday-themed Horror movie?

JAWS

It’s true. It’s set on the 4th of July weekend.

Q: Do you think The Fantastic Four is a concept relatable to today's audience?

Yes. Absolutely. The Fantastic Four are explorers, adventurers. The FF is more of a science fiction and fantasy story than it is a super hero story. Not to say they can’t be both.

Q: What is one of your most prized comic book possessions?

Many, many years ago, when I was just starting college, I worked on a fanzine where we were hoping to add comic professional interviews. This is pre-internet, mind you, so that meant mailing letters. I sent out many letters and only received 2 replies. The first was a no, because our audience wasn't large enough and the 2nd was a reply from John Byrne where he hand wrote the answers to the questions I had asked. That original is one of my prized possessions as I am a die-hard Byrne fan.

Q: How much does it generally cost to rent a booth at the Cons? (Average price/ballpark figure.)

It depends. Vendor tables vary from con to con. So do artist Alley tables. As a guest, sometimes you get a free table, sometimes not. Sadly, there is no standard. The only way to know for sure is to contact the convention and see what they say.

Q: What ONE published work of yours has yet to find an audience? Meaning, what's that one book that you poured everything into and you think came out great, but just hasn't sold or stirred up interest among readers?

My Earthstrike Agenda novel never quite clicked with audiences. Maybe it’s because I don't do a lot of outer space sci fi. Not sure why it never found an audience. I like the story. I also love how the cover turned out.

Q: You should still be drawing, Bobby Nash, illustrating a story of yours at least every now and then! Who are your primary artistic influences?

Thanks, man, but I barely have the time to write, much less draw. I grew up studying the art of guys like George Perez, John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, Paul Smith, Marshal Rogers, and the like.

I love drawing and do the occasional convention sketch when I can.

Q: What ONE project do you consider your finest work to date?

This is one of those questions where the answer changes from day to day, but in terms of prose, it’s probably Alexandra Holzer's Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt novel I wrote for Raven's Head Press.

Ask me next week and I might have a different answer.

Q: Of all the books you've written, which one are you MOST proud of, and why?

This is another one of those questions, like the one above, that might have a different answer on different days of the week. My go to answer here is usually Evil Ways because it was my first published novel and even though that was not the best publishing experience of my life, it did result in a published novel in my hand and that really helped me get other writing work that led me here. So, yeah, Evil Ways gets the nod here. At least today.

Q: Often it takes me half a day to actually get to writing. Do you plow right in to writing, or do you take care of all the email, DM, marketing, phone calls, etc. stuff first?

I wish I could just plow in, but I don’t. I check email, social media, and the like before I get started. Once I get started, I generally write for a decent stretch unless there is an interruption.

Q: Are you a word counter? Do you check periodically to see how many words you've written? Do you think about novella length vs novel length, vs historical or high fantasy genre standard word counts? Do you think about word counts while writing, or do you think about it after the story is down on paper?

Great question. I generally start a story knowing how many words I have to play with for that story so there’s generally not a lot of surprises there. I do check my word count at the end of the day when I step away from the computer as a measuring stick for the day’s productivity. I found that helps keep me on track.

Q: Are you a reader of your own work? Do you go back and read something you wrote just for the pure fun of it?

Not often, no. Mostly out of time constraints, but also because I’ve read each story numerous times before it goes to print. Comic books that I've written are sometimes the exception.

Q: Research ... How much do you do? Where do you search? How much of the research that you find do you use?

I do research often. Google is usually a good starting place, but whenever I can find a person with first hand knowledge that I can talk to, that's the best. I do a good amount of pulp stories for various anthologies and most of those are set in the past so i fins myself researching various things to fit those time periods. Tghings like, when were binoculars invented? When was the first seaplane tested? How much did a cab ride cost in 1950? Things like that.

Q: DO you have a pre-writing ritual? A prayer? Meditation? A cup of strong coffee? Maybe ... chocolate?

Not really. Maybe I should start one.

Q: Do you write in your sleep? I'm not talking about dreaming, I'm talking about actually developing sentences and perfecting the turn of a phrase. Do you find yourself doing this ... and do you manage to remember and use those great sentences when you wake? 

I do, actually. Usually, it's in those moments as I'm just starting to drift off to sleep. Sometimes I even remember it, but it never seems to be as good as it was in my head. One day I would love to perfect the art of sleep writing.

Q: Are you an early writer or a late writer? I find myself writing early in the day, and researching or simply surfing the web later in the day.

When I was writing full time, I would spend the afternoon doing media and other odds 'n ends then write at night into the wee hours of the mornings. Now that I've got a day job again, I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I much prefer the way it was before, but I need more money than writing was bringing in.

Q: What's the best excuse you ever came up with NOT TO MARKET?

Can't think of a single reason. I've marketed everything I've worked on, whether it was royalty pay or a flat fee. I still promote books I worked on where I'll never see another penny because I'm proud of the work I've done on them.

Q: What do you eat at your desk for energy ... and how do you keep your keyboard clean?

I rarely eat at the desk. I find myself not actually eating and I hate to waste food. What's this clean keyboard you speak of? HA!

Q: Have you ever been inspired by someone close to you - spouse, child, friend, business associate - so much that they became part of a book you were writing?

Sure. Sometimes that happens. I won't say who though. That's our little in-joke.

Q: How deeply do you plan your characters? Before you write, do they already have a full background? Do you know their upbringing? Their preferences in food or cars? Do you already know how they'll react to the situations your story will present?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For main characters, I know a good bit going in, but there are things I learn along the way. With secondary characters, I learn a lot more as I go along.

Q: Can you post the first sentence of your current work in progress?

Richard Henry Benson was a private man in a very public profession.

Q: Coffee or Tea? And do your characters have the same refreshment preferences you have? For that matter, do you characters have the same preferences as you in other things, too?

Tea. I never developed a taste for coffee. Love how it smells, but I just can’t stand the taste. I also drink way too much Mt. Dew. Seriously, they should sponsor me. There is a little bit of me in all of the characters I write so sometimes a character may share my appetites and tastes.

Q: What is your favorite comic book based movie?

For the longest time I would have said Superman, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier now holds the top spot. I love this movie.

Q: What is your favorite superhero horror movie?

Blade. Or Blade II.

Thanksgiving at the Earth's Core
Q: Where did your newest character come from? Is he/she a collection of people you know? A specific person in your life? Or did they come to you complete and whole?

I recently “met” a character while driving home from the day job. The opening few chapters of a novel just fell into place for me and set up this new character, his family, his job, and his reason for being where he is when the story starts. I love it when that happens, but I have no idea where it comes from.

I do, on occasion, create characters that are a mash-up of two or more people I know. These are usually secondary characters.

Q: How many ideas are too many? Have you ever found yourself trying to fit too many concepts into one book? Do you go with it? Split it into several books? Or simply trash the superfluous ideas?

If there’s one constant I’ve found with being a writer, it’s that the ideas never stop coming. I have more notes, ideas, and plots jotted down than I can ever actually write. Sometimes, two ideas fit together and become a better story for it. I’ll keep taking all the ideas I can get and store them away until I need them.

Q: Since it’s Thanksgiving, what writerly thing are you thankful for this year?

I am thankful that there are publishers, editors, readers, and convention organizers out there who like what I do so I can continue to do it. I remember the days when I was trying to get any publisher’s attention so I know how lucky I am that writing gigs come my way. It took a lot of work to get here and there’s still a lot of work ahead of me, but I am thankful to be where I am right now as a writer.

Q: As November comes to a close and we are all looking at the end of 2015, will you reach your writerly goals for the year?

Not quite.

This year has really challenged my writing time between family issues, medical issues, and day job issues so I’ve fallen behind. I am working to catch back up and am making headway, but I had hoped to be further along than I am right now. I still have a month to go to get caught up though so we’ll see what happens.

And I think that is a good place to stop for 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 bobby@bobbynash.com 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 bobby@bobbynash.com and I'll happily add you to the list.

If you’d like to check out my work, you can find my books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, and more.

Thanks for listening to me ramble. Let’s do it again soon.

For those in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving.
Stay safe and have fun.

Happy Reading.

Bobby

2 comments:

Frank Dirscherl said...

Glad to hear you've got a day job again. While it means you're a bit behind with your writing, it means more financial security, so that's a good thing and something to feel blessed with, especially at this time of year.

Bobby Nash said...

Thanks, Frank. Went back in September 2014. Sadly, due to the company I work for being bought by a large corporation, we might be laid off at the end of February 2016. We're kind of in a holding pattern at the moment.

Bobby

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