Thursday, March 3, 2016


We’re back for a 34th installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… another super-sized edition. In addition to questions from fans and readers, I've also pulled questions from writing groups/blogs/facebook as well. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating-- thank you for the continued questions. Please, keep ‘em coming. I absolutely love answering them. Yes, even the silly ones from time to time.

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

Okay, let's dive in, shall we?

Q: How much should writers pay to be published?

Nothing. If a publisher is interested in publishing a writer’s work, then the publisher pays the writer. If any publisher or agent asks for upfront money from you, it’s probably a scam and you should run far, far away. Money always flows to the creator, not from the creator to the publisher... unless you’re buying discounted books for a signing or convention appearance. I do that so I have books on hand when I meet potential new readers.

Q: Name a phrase that you often hear people use that you absolutely hate.

“Six of one, a half dozen of the other.” My Dad loves saying this one. I absolutely cringe when I hear it. Also, any sentence that begins with the words “When BAE...”

Q: We all have dry periods, but have you ever had a long dry period when ideas flowed freely, but life refused to permit you actually sit down in seclusion and WRITE? What's your coping practice for those times?

Life is constantly getting in the way of my writing time. I had a three day weekend this past weekend and had plans to write. Life had other plans and the writing time was very limited as a result. I just try to get back on track as quickly as possible. Life happens and will continue to throw roadblocks in my path. I just have to be able to swerve around them. Not always an easy feat.

Q: How do you prepare to write? Get your notes, review all your ideas, then begin at the beginning? Or are you a plow right in kind of writer who can start anywhere in the book and build around an event to create the whole story?

Writing time for me is precious and few these days so when I'm able to sit down and write I do just that, dive right in. I try to keep my notes, plot points, characters, etc. at the bottom of my manuscript so I don't have to open multiple files and search for what I need. This has become quite the time saver for me.

Q: When do you go dark? Turn off the email and the phone? Lock your door? Squirrel food near your computer and hunker down for the duration? Do you do this in the beginning, the challenging middle, or the all-important end of the book you're writing?

When I'm quickly approaching deadline or when a story just grabs hold of me and will not let go until I written it all down. Those moments don’t happen as often as I think they should, but when they do, it’s magic.

QFavorite all-time episode of The X-Files (old or new)...and why?

The episode with the green bugs in the forest (I forget the title) always stands out to me. The Flukeman episode actually made me throw up the first time around. I also liked the Arctic circle episode that's clearly inspired by The Thing. The one thing all of these episodes have in common is that they were terrifying, my favorite kind of X-Files episode.

Q: Do you believe in aliens? Are they here? If so, why? If not, what are UFOs?

I want to believe, but I'll need to see proof first and so far that proof has eluded me. Unidentified Flying Object could be anything. Not just alien in nature. Still, I need to see proof.

Q: Do you consciously, intentionally plan and place symbolism in your writing?... If yes, please state your method for doing so. Do you feel you sub-consciously place symbolism in your writing?

Not really. It is not something I plan for so if it happens, it comes out of the story organically as opposed to me trying to force symbolism on the reader. Subconsciously, who knows? Maybe. I've never really given it a lot of thought until now.

Q: Do readers ever infer that there is symbolism in your writing
where you had not intended it to be? If so, what is your feeling about this type of inference? (Humorous? annoying? etc.?)

Yes. They do. I had a very interesting conversation several years back with a woman who read my novel, Evil Ways and wanted to discuss the "allegorical story I'd hidden inside my mystery/thriller novel" (that's how she phrased it). I listened as she told me what she had seen, some of which took some wild leaps in logic, I thought. Suffice it to say, she'd built this truth up in her head so much that not only did she not believe me when I told her that I had not intentionally put any of that in there, but that if she took that away from it, great-- no, she then argued with me about, eventually stating that I didn't truly understand. It was a surreal moment. I am glad she bought, read, and obviously got something out of the novel though.

Q: Do you feel that the great writers of classics consciously, intentionally planned and placed symbols in their writing? ... Do you feel that they placed it there sub-consciously?

I'm sure some did. Others probably not. There are many great writers who have used allegory and symbolism to tell absolutely fantastic stories with big morality plays built in. I am in awe of the writers who can do that and do it well. I, however, am not one of them... at least not consciously.

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was 11 or 12 the first time I got the itch, but that was to write and draw comic books. I thought of myself mostly as an artist. It would be a few years before other artists started asking me to write stories for them to draw. At that point, I really went into it with more focus. I was around 18 or 19 at the time, I think.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

The time it takes varies depending on if it’s something I’m writing to then shop around or if I’m given a deadline by a publisher. I once wrote a novel in 3 months. Others get started and stopped over the span of years.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Good question. Sadly, I don’t really have a good answer. I’m sure I do things that might seem quirky to others, but they seem quite normal to me. I’ll have to think on this one.

Q: How do books get published?

It takes a lot of hard work and also a good bit of luck. First, you write the book, then shop it around to either an agent or publisher (if you have an agent, he or she takes it to publishers for
consideration). If the publisher likes the book, they assign it to an editor who then sends notes back to you, the writer. Changes are made and then it goes back for another round of edits. Once the book goes into production and has a cover, has been formatted, etc., a galley proof is sent to the writer for one last pass. Once that happens, it goes into the publishing que. Then you wait and do some pre-marketing and start working on another book. Once the book releases, that’s when your marketing plans kicks into high gear.

That’s a very basic, generic way it happens. Some publishers may have extra steps.

Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Wherever I can find them. Ideas spring up from some of the strangest places. Wherever it is they come from, I try to catch them and get them locked away and ready for when I can work on them.

Q: When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote several unpublished pieces as a teenager. My first published work was in 1992. I was 21. In 2000, at the age of 29, I was hired to work on Demonslayer, a comic book for Avatar Press. That was my first steady, professional comics work. In 2005, at the age of 34, my novel, Evil Ways was
published. I turn 45 later this year and I’m still plugging away.

Q: What does your family think of your writing?

They like it, I think. Both of my parents have read my work. My brother has not and I don’t know of any aunts, uncles, or grandparents who did either. At least none who told me they did, although some were kind enough to buy a book in the early days. My parents are proud, although it took them quite a number of years to fully understand how serious I was about pursuing writing as a career. They have, in the intervening years, been great cheerleaders for my work though. My Dad, in particular, is always handing out my business cards to people in the hopes they will buy a book or two.

Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

The first thing I learned was that I could finish a novel. That was very important. Writing a novel is long, hard, lonely work at times and it is so easy to lose focus and set it aside. Finishing was a milestone. I also learned a lot about dead bodies, forensics, and the FBI while working on Evil Ways and the upcoming Evil Intent.

Q: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Have fun with what you write and finish it. Those two things are very important. You can always go back and tweak the story once you’re done to make it better, but finishing is a very important milestone you need to hit. That sense of accomplishment is very healthy.

Q: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I get the occasional email sent to or comment on, but most of my interaction with readers happens on social media or at conventions. 99.99999% of my interactions have been great. There will always be one or two people who will push your buttons. That’s just a fact of life. I love talking with readers, whether they’ve read one of my books or if they are thinking about it. I’m also a reader so I like sharing cool books I’ve enjoyed with other readers as well. I’m pretty open. I won’t talk politics or religion because those conversations rarely go well and there are a few personal things I don’t discuss publicly, but aside from that, I’ll talk about pretty much anything.

Q: Do you like to create books for adults?

Sure. My thriller novels like Evil Ways or Deadly Games! are generally more adult oriented, as is the Hollis P.I. anthology, but for the most part, I try to write something that can be read by someone 13 and up. There are some exceptions, obviously.

Q: What do you think makes a good story?

As a reader, I want to be entertained by a story. I want it to make some semblance of sense, especially if there is a mystery element. As a writer, I try to keep those things in mind and play fair with the readers. If there is a reveal, it can’t just come out of left field. I need to make sure there are clues to back it up.

Q: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

There was a short time where I wanted to be a scientist. I assume this is because of all the cool fictional scientists I saw on TV. Eventually, I discovered it was more fun for me to write about fictional scientists than to become one myself.

Q: Why do you write the kinds of books you do?

Because I enjoy them. It’s really that simple. I write the kinds of stories I would enjoy reading.

Q: Do any of the books you write come from your own childhood?

Not really. There are bits and pieces of my life that makes its way into every story I write, but usually those are small details, feelings, or a memory. Nothing too autobiographical though.

Q: Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer?

I wouldn’t call it easy. It is a lot of work. Some parts of it come pretty easily to me. It can be lonely as I’m alone when I write, but I’m so busy writing that I don’t notice there’s no one else about.

Q: Why don’t you illustrate your own books?

Because I want them to sell. (laughs) In all seriousness, I don’t think my artwork is up to professional standards.

Q: Do you try to write without expressing your own opinions?

Sure. Not all of the characters in my stories can share my opinions. They each have their own views. I try not to write with an agenda or to push any agendas or opinions on my readers.

Q: How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you have written?

I just shrug it off and move on. Not every story is right for everyone. Some will like what I’ve written. Some won’t. It’s just a fact of life and the nature of the business. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion whether I agree with it or not.

Q: When you begin writing a book, do you know what the ending will be?

Most of the time, yes. There are times where the story takes on a life of its own or the characters take me places that cause a shift in the ending. I love when those moments happen.

Q: Did you have any goals for your first novel when you wrote it — to get published, or just to finish, etc.?

I just wanted to see if I could write and finish a story. Then, once I did that, I decided to see if I could do it again.

Q: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?

The number of hours spent per day varies. I work a day job and have family and friends so there are not always set hours available for me. I do all of my drafts on the computer, although I like doing an editing pass on paper.

Q: Do you write every single day?

I try to, but no. I miss days here and there.

Q: Ballpoint, uniball or fountain pen?

Ballpoint, although I use Sharpies more than anything else.

Q: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events?

Absolutely. I love attending writing events. I do them every chance I get.

Q: What’s the worst job you’ve had?

Burger King. I was there way too long.

Q: Are you planning to adapt any of your stories to the screen?

I would love to. If any producers out there are interested, hit me up.

Q: What’s more important: characters or plot?

Characters. I always start with the characters. If you know your characters, they will guide you through how they will handle the plot. Each character will handle obstacles in a different way. Knowing that helps the story feel true.

Q: How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?

I’ll let you know if I ever start to make a living at it.

Q: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write the genres I enjoy. Balancing then isn’t really difficult. I’ve been able to keep them separate with little difficulty.

Q: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I’m not sure. My Mom read a bit when I was a kid and I got a few
books from her, but it sort of just developed on its own. I discovered Spider-man on TV and found out there were comic books featuring Spider-man so I picked them up. I just looked for books that interested me. The storytelling aspect sprang from the imagination. I was an only child until I was 8 ½ so I played by myself most of the time so imagination helped me fill in the world around me. I would use the TV shows I watched as a basis so I would play Star Trek, Batman, Buck Rogers, Six Million Dollar Man, CHiPS (when you're riding your bicycle), things like that. Instead of just reenacting an episode I watched, I would come up with new plots and go from there. Eventually that led to writing.

Sean Taylor, Tommy Hancock,
Bobby Nash, and Mike Gordon.
Q: What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

Storytelling is a primal human function. When we were living in caves and just discovering fire, we drew on the walls to tell our stories. I’m honored to be one of those people putting forth stories to be read and shared. Now, it’s debatable whether my pulpy tales will hold any cultural significance in the grand scheme of things, but if I entertain at least one reader then I’ve done my job. That’s enough for me.

Q: What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I had a reader tell me once that my stories were “an easy read” and he meant that as a compliment. I liked that. I don’t want reading one of my stories to feel like work. I want the readers to relax and enjoy the journey.

James R. Tuck, Bobby Nash,
and Van Allen Plexico
Q: What's the hardest part of writing?  

Planting my butt in the chair and getting started. Once I get started, I quickly get into a rhythm. It’s just getting there that trips me up.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love being part of the writing community. Telling stories and meeting other storytellers. It is one of my favorite things.

Q: Are there misconceptions people have about your books?

I do find that a lot of people have misconceptions about Domino Lady, mostly based on the titles associated with the stories. Moonstone Books likes using euphemism titles like Sex As A Weapon, Money Shot, Threesome, and so on. There are many who won’t look behind the title and assume they know what the books are about based on that.

Q: What day jobs have you held?  Have any of them impacted your writing?

I worked a few fast food jobs over the years. I believe I mentioned Burger King above. I worked there several years during high school and college. I have worked a few production/warehouse jobs, did a short stint working part time for a local comic book shop, was a planner, a buyer, worked on special
projects, and now I enter contracts. Some of the characters I've written have had these same jobs in their past.

Q: How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

As long as the story is good, I don’t mind the medium it is delivered or what publisher it comes from. My personal preference is to read paper books because I read and write on the computer all the time now so I have trouble reading ebooks without my brain slipping into work mode and proofreading instead of reading for the sheer pleasure of it. I don’t think most readers care who publishes the book they are reading. They just want it to be good and affordable.

Q: What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

Reading is not going anywhere so neither will writing. Will the delivery method for getting stories to readers change? Maybe. Probably. Will paper books go away? I doubt it.

Q: What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Hopefully, the cover is the first thing that does that. Beyond that, I’ve worked hard trying to build my brand so that readers will pick up my books because they’ve enjoyed others I’ve written. It’s an ongoing process.

Q: What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

Social media is a first step for promotion, not only of my work, but of myself. I also do interviews, podcasts, things like this column, conventions, appearances, and whatever I can to showcase the work. Promotion takes time so I had to learn how to juggle it and writing.

Q: What is your role in the writing community?

I am one writer in a sea of millions, but I try to be as friendly and supportive of other writers as possible. I support or share their news when I can, point
out writing or promotion opportunities, things like that. Sometimes all it takes is being friendly and introducing myself to another writer at a convention.

Q: What do you like to read in your free time?

I do. Sadly, there is less and less free time these days than I would like, but I make it a point to do a little reading every day.

Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 

I took a creative writing class at the University of Georgia’s Continuing Education Program while I was writing Evil Ways. Harriette Austin was the instructor and I learned so much from Harriette in terms of storytelling, but also in building a community and interacting with writers and readers. Having to read our work aloud was terrifying to me at first, but in the long run it helped break me of my shyness and allows me to do conventions, panels, and things like that.

Side note to that story. In my class was a lady named Sandra. Sandra is a wonderful woman and became a dear friend. She noticed my shyness at reading aloud – I would hold the papers up in front of my face while reading so no one could see me – so she developed a plan. Sandra would sit next to me and when it was my turn to read, she would reach over and push my arms down so I had to make eye contact with the others in the class. After a while, it was easier just to keep the paper on the table. Again, this helped a lot in breaking my shyness.

If you ever meet me at a convention or event, you’ll notice I’m no longer shy.

Q: Do you see writing as a career? 

Absolutely. It just doesn’t pay like a career yet. I still have a way to go, but I do treat it like a job because that is what it is.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

I’m sure I can find some nit-picky detail in each story I’ve written that I would do differently now. I try not to dwell on it though and look toward the next story.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

It’s a challenge not to repeat myself. There are certain types of scenes I find myself writing the same way and certain phrases I repeat often. It’s a challenge to find new ways to tell those actions.

Q: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

I don’t “have to” travel, but I do a lot of conventions and many require travel. I love doing conventions and would do more, but travel is expensive and for most conventions, I have to pay my own travel and hotel. That keeps me closer to home. It has been too long since I did a con on the West Coast or New York. I would love to do more shows outside the South where I love.

Q: Who designs your covers? 

The publishers generally take care of the covers. I did design the covers for Evil Ways, Deadly Games!, EarthStrike Agenda, Samaritan, and Frontier and had fun doing that.

Q: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? 

There’s a dogfight in the climax of my first Lance Star: Sky Ranger story that still thrills me to this day. I also wrote another aerial combat scene in the opening of the upcoming Lance Star: Sky Ranger novel that has gotten some positive feedback the few times I’ve shared it. That novel should be out later this year.

Q: What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

I’m pretty easy to find. Hit me up at any of the following and say hello.

Q: How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

A lot of times I go with my gut instincts when it comes to naming characters, especially the main characters. Some never change from the initial idea like Evil Ways Harold Palmer and others that change numerous times like Abraham Snow in Snow Falls. I changed his first name multiple times until I settled on Abraham. The second runner up was Archer so that name shifted to Snow’s grandfather, where it fit that character better.

Q: What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

The accomplishment scale is a sliding one. Once upon a time, it would have been “finish a novel.” Then it was “get published.” I won some awards for my work, which ranks high up on my list of accomplishments. All of those things are great accomplishments, but I think the best is that I have been accepted into the writing community as a peer. That means a lot when New York Times Bestselling authors look at you as a peer, one of the group. I love that. It took me a long time to get here and I don’t want to take it for granted, but it’s a great feeling.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully, I will still be writing and being published, perhaps making a living with my writing. I would love to have that nifty New York Times Bestselling Author tag in front of my name too. That would be cool.

Q: What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Write and have fun with it. If you want to write as a career, then make sure you treat it like a job because that is what it is. It’s a great job, but still a job.

Q: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes. I do read reviews. Fortunately, most have been positive, but I have had one or two bad reviews. They happen. I thank everyone for taking the time to leave a review and that’ usually it. I do not argue with bad reviews or anything.
That’s just madness. There was one instance where a reader emailed me through my site to express his displeasure with a story so I responded to that and we had a nice, civil dialogue that resulted in him checking out something else I’d written and us become friends. That is a rare exception though.

Q: What is your best marketing tip?

Make sure your marketing consists of more than “Buy my book” postings on social media. People ignore those posts like the plague. Find a way to engage readers and potential readers without trying to hard sell them.

Q: What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

I don’t enjoy the production, design, and layout part of putting a book together. That’s why I don’t self publish often.

Q: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

There are topics I have no desire to write about so I don’t. There's no hard and fast rule or list of topics I consider off limits.

Q: Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Sex scenes are tough. How explicit should I get? How flowery? Should we just say it happened and then move on or go into details? And then there’s the fear that my mother will read it. That’s a whole other level of difficulty.

Q: Do you write naked?

No, but there was that one time I got a great burst of inspiration and an idea while I was taking a shower. I hoped out of the shower and ran to the office with nothing but a towel and started writing to get it down while it was fresh in my mind. I ended up sitting there for hours as the words just flowed out of me. Thankfully, I lived alone at the time so there wasn't any embarrassment or anything. At least not until now that I've shared this story publicly. I'm guessing this is far more information than most of you expect when you read this feature, huh?

Q: What is the biggest lie you've ever told?

“Sure. I would love to.”

Q: Have you ever been in trouble with the police?

Nope. Just the occasional speeding ticket.

Q: Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?


Q: Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

I asked myself, What Would Abraham Snow Do? and went from there.  HA! HA! HA!

Q: Do you drink? Smoke? 


Q: What is your biggest fear?

Snakes. Hate ‘em. I had a traumatic experience when I was younger. I’m like Indiana Jones, except without the hat, whip, physique, or charm.  hee, hee…

Q: What do you want your tombstone to say?

Here lies Bobby Nash. Man, that motherfucker could write!
Okay, that’s silly, but I don’t know. I really have never thought about it before.

Q: If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Super speed might be pretty cool.

Q: What secret talents do you have?

If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret, now would it?

Q: Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?

I would love to visit London.

Q: What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I mentioned the New York Times Bestseller thing, didn’t I?

Q: Do you have any scars? What are they from?

I have a scar that runs down my left leg from just under my butt down to my ankle. It has faded in places over time, but is still there. I was attacked by a dog as a child (oddly enough, that has happened twice). I got away and ran from the dog. I leapt over a chain link fence to get away. In mid-leap, the dog clamped down on my shoe and threw me off balance. I fell and the sharp points at the top of the fence (this was the late 70s/early 80s before they bent them over) cut into my leg. It was a wee bit painful, but did not require stitches.

I also had a scar on my right arm. My brother broke a plate. He was a little kid and was afraid of getting in trouble so he hid the broken plate in the garbage. When I lifted the bag out of the can, the knife-shaped shard came out of the bag and stabbed me right in the bicep. That one required stitches.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?

I loved G.I. Joe and Star Wars figures. My favorite was Destro. I used to devise deathtraps for them. I turned an empty caulk gun into a trap where the ceiling was closing in. Sadly, I went one click too many and Destro exploded into several pieces. Whoops.

Q: Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

Yes. I dream. Sometimes those dreams become stories.

I’ve had recurring dreams over the years that involve people I’ve never met and places I’ve never been. Imagine my surprise when I went on a trip to a place I’d never been before and saw a very familiar site, one of the locations from my dreams. I couldn’t explain it then. I still can’t explain it today.

Q: You've been kidnapped. Which of your characters would you call upon to rescue you?

Do you mean from our own novels? If so, I'd pick Abraham Snow and his friends from Snow Falls and the soon-to-be-published Snow Storm. Snow and his crew would get me back home safe and sound. If not my characters, then maybe Ryder Creed and Maggie O'Dell from Alex Kava's novels. Or Harry Bosch.

Q: What obscure, goofy, or bizarre comic characters are your favorites?

Off the top of my head: The Fly, Ms. Mystic, The Interman, and Bulletgirl (she's a recent favorite as I've been writing the character in a story with Domino Lady)

Q: All authors, no matter how they're published, need good editing. Do you self edit? Use beta readers? Or hire a professional editor before submitting or self publishing?

I do a round of self edits before it goes to the editor assigned by my publishers. 

Q: What 4 words would you say to your 17 year old self if you could?

You Should Be Writing.

Q: Do you feel book trailers help as a marketing tool?

I suppose. I’ve never had one for my novels, but Jamie Chase made a great one for our graphic novel adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At The Earth’s Core. It’s great fun, but I can’t say for certain whether the trailer convinced anyone to buy a copy of the book or not. Watch it below and I’ll let you be the judge of that. If you feel the urge to purchase the book, please follow this link and then let me know the trailer swayed you.

Q: City mouse, Suburb Mouse, or country mouse?

Country Mouse for where I live.
City Mouse for where I work.

Q: Do you want others to see your working papers, or do you hope your heirs will burn them all and wipe your hard drives after you pass?

That's a good question. I never really thought about it until a month ago when a college library talked to me at a convention about donating my papers after I pass on.

Q: Do you read your online reviews: Amazon, Goodreads, bloggers, and so on? Or do you avoid them like a simile to be avoided? Do good ones delight you? Do bad ones get you down?

I do read them and I share them to my social media, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. I also take the time to thank the reviewers for their time and for reading my work.

Q: Yes, sure, you're a writer, and many good writers eschew adjectives. But if you had to prepend one and only one, which
would it be? A Canadian writer? A feminist writer? An ambitious writer? An entertaining writer? A literary writer? A reclusive writer? Why that choice?

A successful writer. I know the term successful means different things to different people, but for me, I would like to be able to live off of my writing and be able to devote all of my working attention to the business of writing as opposed to splitting it between writing and a non-creative day job.

Q: What's your favorite question for folks to ask you during conventions?

"Did you draw this?" I get this one all the time when people look at my comic work, even though I tell them that I wrote all the books on the table.

Q: How do you find paying work as a writer?

It ain’t easy. As a freelancer, working assignments for publishers, I found that being easy to work with, able to meet deadlines, a promoter of the work, and a good storyteller will get you hired. Granted, you still have to cross that hurdle of being hired the first time or twelve and there is no one clear path to making that happen, I’m afraid.

Q: Do you write book reviews? Do you review only books you've chosen to purchase and enjoyed? Or do you do reviews as favors for other authors?

I do leave reviews for books I've read. I will do reviews for friends books as well, but I do not do reviews for books unless I have read them.

Q: What is the difference between novels and short stories and do readers care?

Certainly, size is a factor as categorized based on word count as well as a publisher's guidelines. Do reader's care? Some do. Some don't. It all depends on the reader's preferences. Here are some handy charts. You'll notice some slight variations so your mileage may vary.

Q:  The number of words it takes to tell the story well is the guideline in the real deal (re: novels vs. short story).

This is only true if you are self-publishing. When you work for publishers, if they tell you a story has to be 5,000 words, then 5,000 words is what you get so you have to make it work. That's as real world as it gets. Especially if you want to keep working for publishers.

Q: How do you handle writing internal monologues?

In prose, I prefer the italics method. Having the internal thoughts of the POV character in italics allows them to pop into the narrative almost like they would in real life without a lot of extra words to buoy them. Here's an example from Pro Se Productions’ Pro Se Single Shot Signature line- From the Pen of Bobby Nash title Freelancer: The Traveler Sanction.

                 "Are you Mandy?" she asked again.
                 With great effort, the girl nodded.  Every movement seemed to spark a jolt of pain.
                 They really did a number on her, Lance thought.  She barely resembles the photograph her            father gave me.
                 The Secretary of Defense had warned Lance that his daughter was something of a                         “spitfire” who did not take well to being given orders.

In comics, I use captions to allow the POV character's thoughts to be shared while action happens around him or her. It works pretty well. Here are some example s from At The Earth's Core, I Am Googol: The Great Invasion, and Lance Star: Sky Ranger "One Shot!".

Q: With multi-author anthos flying like crazy these days, what as been your best experience participating in one? Has contribution or curation opened doors, enabled new relationships or paid really well? Who have you really loved working with on an anthology project?

The best anthologies in terms of sales that I've worked on have been the ones that came with a built in audience. A high point for me, personally, was writing stories for 2 Green Hornet anthologies for Moonstone (Casefiles and Still At Large) because a majority of the people I mentioned it to had some idea who those characters are. Zombies Vs. Robots: No Man's Land for IDW was the same. It came with a built in audience. Writing for anthologies has opened a few doors. If I had not written a Domino Lady story for the Sex As
A Weapon anthology, I might not be writing the character today, but I did and DL and I spend a lot of time together. Some anthologies pay better than others, obviously. I won't go into specifics publicly, but those that pay more than a royalty split get moved to the top of my to do list. Just like the pay, some editors have been easier to deal with than others, but overall, my experience with anthologies has been wonderful. I have met some terrific creators using the ice breaker of us being in the same anthology together. Anthologies have allowed me to test the waters with publishers I've not worked with previously and they also allow me to play in genres that are not my normal playground.

Q: How many WIPs have you abandoned in your life? Ambitious first chapters that fizzle by the third? Great ideas that never gelled? Concepts that crumbled before you got to the keyboard? So many ideas, so little time!

I don't know an exact number off the top of my head, but I know that some aren't permanently abandoned as I am currently dusting off some projects I was well into I had to set aside to work on others and giving them a polish so I can get back to work on them and get them completed. On the other hand, there are folders full of
Van Allen Plexico, Bobby Nash,
James Palmer, and John Hartness.
notes, aborted opening chapters, and the like. Those may never see the light of day or I may come back and cannibalize them for parts.

Q: The Experts Say Write What You Know. Is this good advice? If so, how do you do it when none of us know what it's like to have extra human abilities?

It is both good and bad advice. It's bad because I have never murdered anyone, but I do so all the time in my novels. Imagination can fill in a lot of the blanks. It's good advice because you can add in the parts of your life that you do know to lend a feel of authenticity to the story and/or characters. I don't know what it's like to be Spider-man so I can make all of that up, but I do understand what it's like to work a dead-end job and be broke when the rent's due like Peter Parker.

Van Allen Plexico, Andrea Judy,
Sean Taylor, Bobby, Barry Reese.
Q: Do you spend time A) helping new writers, B) surrounding yourself with writers that are accomplished, or C) alone, focused, and uninterrupted?

Depending on the day, it could easily be all of the above.  I made a decision early on in my career to help out anyone by answering any questions they had. I have never regretted that decision. I work a lot of conventions and conferences so I have developed friendships with many accomplished writing professionals. Those relationships are precious to me and it is nice to have friends who understand what I'm going through when I need to vent or might have good advice when I need it most. I do most of my actual writing alone, locked away in my office.

Q: How can writing to the trends help or hurt a writer?

If you’re quick and good, you can capitalize on trends, but for the most part, publishing works on a 6 – 12 month turnaround, sometimes more. There are exceptions, of course, but if you write to a hot trend, it might not be so hit by the time your book comes out. Some trends last longer than others. Personally, I am surprised that the zombie craze has lasted this long.

Q: I know you've written the character so who was your favorite Green Hornet?

Van Williams all the way.

Q: What drives your writing most? Inspiration? Desperation? Deadlines? The challenge of accomplishing your goal?

This is kind of a cop out answer, I think, but I'd go with all of the above. Some days I'm inspired to create something. Other times, deadlines and desperation fuel me. Deadlines are a great motivator. I wrote my first novel as a challenge, just to see if I could do it and finish it. Now, I challenge myself to improve and to tell the best story I can each time.

Q: On the big screen, small screen, and even comic book pages part of what makes Superheroes fun is watching them in action. Is it necessary to include that in your (superhero) novel and if so is it possible to do it on the same level as the other mediums listed above?

Superheroes, by their very nature, are generally doing something "super" so you have to show that in your novel. If you were writing a Spider-man novel, for example, you could (and should) have him
swinging through New York City, being acrobatic, and fighting super-villains. These are things Spider-man does so he should do them in your novel as well. The biggest difference is you have to paint those action scenes with words. It's trickier, but doable.

Q: When writing a team of Protagonists how do I keep from head hopping?

Sometimes I don't. I have been known to change POV when I start a new chapter. Another way to do it is to have a break between paragraphs with either a blank space or ### and then start the next with a new POV. Your mileage may vary. I try very hard not to have multiple POVs in the same chapter or section though. That can get confusing.

Q: How can I identify when I'm doing it in the first place?

If you know what multiple characters are thinking in the same chapter or section, then you're having multiple Points of View. In comic books, this works pretty easily, but in a novel it is a little easier to stick to one POV at a time. Like so many other things involved in writing, a lot of it gut feeling. You have to do what works best for your story.

Q: What's your favorite way to start writing each day? Review yesterday's words? Do a little edit on past chapters? Plow right in and drive the story forward? Start as the sun rises? Start when the sun sets? Write in bites and rushes?

These days, when I kidnap a few precious moments where I can write, I just plow right in and get as much down as I can. When I was writing full time I had a schedule, which was nice.

Q: What do you LOVE to do APART from writing books? (Plotting and research for books does not count, LOL)

I like to read, go to the movies, watch TV, go for hikes/walks, shoot pool (badly), grab a meal with friends, normal stuff like that. I collect comic books, although I buy far fewer than I used to. I also love to go looking for old books, browsing the stacks for hidden treasures. 

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 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. If you’d like to check out my work, you can find my books at AmazonBarnes and NobleGoodreadsSmashwords, and more. To all those who have picked up books and/or left reviews, THANK YOU! You're all wonderful and I appreciate each and every review posted.

Thanks for listening to me ramble.

Let’s do it again soon.


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