Thursday, April 14, 2016


Go ahead. Ask me anything.
We’re back for a 35th installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… another super-sized edition thanks to all of the amazing questions. 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: What books have had the greatest impact in making you who you are today?

Snowbound Six and HanSolo's Revenge are the earliest novels I remember reading and EncyclopediaBrown sparked my interest in detective/crime fiction. It was Spider-man who got me into reading comic books and the Fantastic Four that kept me there.

Q: Of all the books you've ever read, which one influenced your writing the most and why?

WOW. Great question. Sadly, I don't think I have an answer that's as good as the question. Every book I've read has influenced me in one way or another (see my answer to the previous question) and I pick up things from all of them. I can't point back to any one book in particular though that stands out above the pack. I'll have to think on this one a bit. Such a cop out answer, I know.

Q: Character Driven, or Story Driven? Which is your writing style?

I can and do write both, but I always start with characters.

Q: Do you think comic books from Marvel and DC Comics need to align their stories with the films and TV shows to survive?

No. The comics and the movies/TV are different things. Sure, there should be some similarities. Captain America should be recognizable in both the movies, the comics, and the novels. 

Q: Why do you write? What drive you to write?

I am constantly coming up with stories in my head. I write to clear them out and make room for more to grow there. I enjoy crafting tales and building a world of characters and situations I created.

Q: What is a piece of terrible writing advice that you don't follow?

Only write in one genre.

Q:  Are you ever really finished with writing a book? Do you look back and think "Maybe I should have had this character do that, or moved the plot that way instead of the way it went?" Or, are you the kind of writer who is finished when you type "THE END" ?

I can always find something after a novel has been sent off that I wish I could change or would have done differently. Once the publisher has the book, it's pretty much too late to change anything though, especially to make major changes. I have had to learn that when it's done, it's done and go on to the next project.

Q: How do you approach the business side of writing?

I try to treat my writing as a business. I think I have a lot left to learn in this aspect of the business though. There are many non-writing bits that have to be done. Keeping up with incoming and outgoing moneys, tracking progress on open projects, keeping track of deadlines, following up on emails, phone calls, interview requests, convention appearance requests, etc., marketing, PR, and trying to line up future writing gigs are all things that take time out of the day. They aren't technically writing, but are an important part of the writing business.

Q: What are your current writing goals? Daily, Weekly, Other?

My writing goals are based on deadlines and open projects. When I wrote full time, I set daily word goals for myself. A little harder for me to do that these days.

Q: Why do you use this particular goal?

It's something that works for me. At least it has been. I need to find a way that helps me accomplish more.

Q: How is it working for you?

It gets the job done. I do think there's a better system because I always seem to be behind the eight ball.

Q: The last video game you played is the world you live in. What is it?

Pac Man. It's been a log time since I played a video game.

Q: As a creator, is it better to set up at the big cons, the smaller cons, or both?

Both. I like to mix it up. I quite often do better at small shows not only in sales, but in people just stopping by to take a look at what's on my table. That's an opportunity to introduce myself and my work. At big shows, not everyone stops.

Q: We all work different jobs and have differing views on how the world works. If you could share one thing from the work you do that could benefit someone else, what would it be?

I meet a lot of people from different walks of life at conventions, signings, and other appearances. No matter how different, diverse, unique, or whatever buzzword we're using at the moment, there is always one thing, at least one thing, that everyone has in common. They're at that event. I think that is fantastic and gives me hope that our geeky interests can be the foundation, the common ground, on which we grow together. 

Q: The Experts Say To start your story at the inciting event. Is this a piece of advice you follow? Why/why not.

It all depends on the story. I write a lot of stories and not all of them need to start at an inciting incident. Every story/plot/character is different so you can't use one blanket "you must do this" piece of advice out of hand. Stories are not one size fits all and they shouldn't be.

Q: Do you tell people (aside from other writers) that you're an author? What reaction do you get?

Yes I do, although I usually refer to myself a writer more than I do an author. I am proud of my job. The reaction I get is usually, "oh, that's cool!" followed by either "but what's your real job?" or "I have an idea for a novel..."

Q: Do you, or have you ever, written in the first person? Do you prefer it over third person narrative?

In comic book writing, I use first person for narration all the time. For prose, I prefer 3rd person, primarily because I like to follow multiple characters. I was tempted to write Snow Falls and the upcoming Snow Storm in first person and even started that way, but then decided to switch back to 3rd person.

Q: Imagine your book is being made into a major motion picture. Who would play your main character?

I get this question a lot so you would think I would be better prepared for it.
I've never really given it a lot of thought. I have, on occasion, saw an actor and thought, "Oh, Gil Gerard might be a good choice for Snow's dad in Snow Falls or Eliza Dushku might make a good Freelancer, but they're passing thoughts otherwise I fear I would start writing the character to for that actor and that would be a disservice to the characters, I think.

Q. How often do you actually read? (Not wish you read, or would like to have readers think you read, but actually, truly read.) How often do you read a book, as opposed to smaller options like newspapers or magazines?

I read something every day. I don't get to read as much as I used to because if the responsibilities of being an adult and all that, but I read novels, comic books, and short stories on a fairly regular basis. I also read for work, but that uses a different part of the brain. I still enjoy getting lost in a good book.

Q. Where and how do you do most of your reading? Do you set aside time for a long read before bed, for example? Or do you snag the time available with an e-book while taking a kid to the dentist or on a break from a day job?

I read on my lunch break, in the bathroom, or whenever I can snag some free time. I work it in where I can.

Q. What percentage of your reading is printed books? What percentage is using digital formats? Do find having options like digital give you more opportunities to indulge in reading?

Most of my reading for pleasure is printed books. This is mainly because the bulk of my reading/writing for work purposes is digital so even when I read an ebook for fun, my brain slips into editor mode out of habit. I don't have a problem with ebooks, but I prefer paper.

Q: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

The most difficult part of writing for me is getting started. Not the start of the story, as that part actually flows pretty easily. No, for me, the most difficult thing is sitting down at the computer and starting to write. Once I'm in the flow, it's all good, but getting there can be a challenge at times.

Q: What kinds of advice about writing/publishing do you get asked to provide the most?

These are the ones I get the most-- can you read my story? can you pass my story to your publisher? what publisher should I submit my story to? and will you share my kickstarter? Usually, these are from people I don't personally know so most of the time my answer has to be no.

Q: On his Podcast, a writer called agents basically useless for modern fully Indy authors. Thoughts?

It all depends on what your goals are as a writer. If you want to be an indy author, then he's right. An agent is not necessary. If you just want to write a novel, get it published and out to the masses, then an agent is not as necessary. However, if your goal is to work for
one of the Big 5 publishers then an agent is very necessary. If your goal is to write a star Trek novel, then an agent is very much necessary. It all depends on what works best for each writer.  I always get a little irritated when I see these bold declarations made. What works for one writer might not work for another writer because we all have different goals so we have different paths to take to reach them.

Q: Do you ever discover yourself deep in the personality and psyche of one of your characters?

Sure. Sometimes I recognize things that are totally me in my characters. Only once, did I intentionally pattern a character's behavior patterns and attitudes on myself. The rest have just sort of happened.

Q: Where do you write? Is it a different place from where you do other things like paying bills, marketing, social networking, online shopping, etc.?

I have a desk in my office and have written at the library, book store, and in restaurants, but I love to write outside on the porch when the weather's nice. Of course, living in Georgia, that is a limited window between the pollen storms and the high heat and humidity of summer. It is not uncommon to turn off the heat in the morning and have the air conditioning running by noon on the same day around here.

Q: Do you have slow writing doldrums and fast writing spurts in the course of writing the same book? Do you try to smooth out the writing speed, or just roll with the muse?

Sure. It happens. Usually, the first bit of a story flows out of me, but when I hit that middle point, I start to slow down and get a wandering eye to other stories. If there's no pressing deadline, I roll with it and then come back to the story refreshed. If it is a tight deadline, you soldier on.

Q: What's your favorite part of being a writer? The variety of things you can write? The ability to tell stories that make people think, or smile, or wonder, or rage? Or is it the simple pleasure of finishing a story and knowing it all came from your imagination?

This is one of those answers that may change from time to time because there are many things about being a writer that I love. I get immense joy out of knowing that the stories are out there, that they are being read and hopefully enjoyed. Writing them is fun, but sending them out into the wild is an incredible feeling that's part anxiousness, excitement, and dread.

Q: Have you ever written a book so far out of your comfort zone that it still sits in a silent file or drawer? A book in a genre or stylistic attempt you're unsure whether you want anyone to know you wrote it?

I have attempted it before, but I usually dip my toe into those waters with a short story. Sometimes it works and I get to write a fun western story. Other times it doesn't and I end up with a fantasy tale that falls flat and never gets published.

Q: Do you blend your superhero tales with other genres such as: pulp; steampunk; scifi; etc?

Sure. Why not? Nothing fits squarely into one genre so I don't force it. I like crime thrillers so almost everything I write has a crime thriller element to it. A sci fi crime thriller? Sure. Why not. A steampunk crime thriller? I'm intrigued. A pulpy crime thriller? Oh, yeah. I'm already all over that.

Q: Who is your all-time favorite author, and what have you learned from their writing?

It's hard to pick just one, but I learn a lot about writing from reading other authors' work. Every author is different and seeing how others handle certain types of actions helps me learn and see what works and what doesn't.

Q: If you could start at the very beginning again ... would you choose to be a writer?

Yes. I think I would.

Q: What do you write between major projects? Blogs? Short stories? Articles? Plays?

Could be anything. I write novels, short stories, comic books, blog posts, this column, reviews, whatever. There's always plenty of writing to do as well as writing-related work that has to be done as well.

Q: Let's talk about characters ... How much time do you spend mentally developing a character before adding it to your book?

It varies. Some characters I get to know faster than others so I play it by ear. Also, I learn bits and pieces about characters in the writing process as well.

Q: How do you find time to write when the real world takes over for a while?

It's not easy. I try to sneak away for some time when I can. If not, I work around it. Family is important so I don't want to miss out on it as well.

Q: Do you address or explore religion and/or spirituality in your writing?

Sometimes, although I've not done so to this point as the main theme of any of my stories. Spirituality does play a part in the lives of some of my characters though. It helps shape that character. FBI Agent Harold Palmer in Evil Ways and the upcoming Evil Intent is Christian. It is mentioned in the story, but I don't beat the reader over the head with it. It does, however, help form the way Agent Palmer handles certain situations.

Q: Do you use politics as a vehicle in your writing?

Much like religion, politics happens in terms of the characters and comes into play when necessary. The one instance where politics was at the heart of the story was my novel, Domino Lady "Money Shot". The publisher asked for a political thriller so politics was very heavy in the foreground of that one. Politics do play a part in other stories, but sometimes to a lesser degree. I have created a fictional president who has appeared in Freelancer, Evil Ways, and the in progress Bloodshot novel. I also have an idea for another novel after where he would appear. I need more time to write.

Q: Are you worried about cannon burnout? Will all these slated Superhero projects have a negative effect on what you do as a book author?

Not at all. The fact of the matter is that the movies don't seem to have much of an impact on book sales one way or the other, at least not to a noticeable degree. Sales on Superman or Batman will probably not rise or fall because of the movie. I suspect the same will hold true for Captain America. Fans who like to read super hero fiction will continue to read super hero fiction as long as it entertains them.

Q: Who is a character, fiction or non-fiction, that you wish you could meet?

Domino Lady (who I actually did meet once, at the first Pulp Ark convention, but can't find the photo - grrr...) or Captain America. I also met Lance Star: Sky Ranger once at Dragon Con.

Q: Do you read the same genres you write?

Yes. I write and read what I enjoy. Sometimes, I won't read a police thriller if I'm in the middle of writing one so I don't unconsciously swipe something.

Q: What is the most surprising thing a character has ever led you to write?

Ooh, good question. Following my characters always takes me someplace interesting. Following the killer in Evil Ways took me down some dark paths that really made the character much more evil than I had originally intended, but it made the character stronger and the novel better. In my story in the Nightbeat: Night Stories anthology/audio, I followed one character who started out as a good guy and that character ended up being the villain of the piece by the end of the story. Luckily, it all made sense and worked.
It's amazing where those pesky characters can take you, isn't it?

Q: What were you like at school?

I was socially awkward and shy for the most part. I got good grades and my nose was usually “stuck in a book” or I was writing or drawing so I heard terms like “nerd” and “geek” often. Unfortunately, this was back when it was not considered cool to be either of those things.

Q: Were you good at English [in school]?

More or less, but sometimes good English skills and creative writing don’t match up.

Q: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

One of my goals is to hit the New York Times Best Seller list. I’d also love to make a living as a writer. Both are goals I strive toward, but they are not my only goals.

Q: When did you decide to become a writer?

About two minutes after the realization set in that I would never make it as a comic book artist.

Q: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Straight to the computer.

Q: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I prefer hardbacks and paperbacks, but I don’t mind ebooks on occasion.

Q: What book/s are you reading at present?

I just started reading The Demands, the first novel by my buddy, Drew Geraci. Comic fans might recognize Drew as an inker of many titles over the years. The Demands is his first novel and I’m really enjoying it so far. As of when I typed this, I’m about 40 pages into it. you should check it out.

Q: What are you working on at the minute?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a story for Moonstone’s upcoming Domino Lady anthology. In my story, Domino Lady teams up with the Woman in Red to catch a killer.

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, a big THANK YOU! You are all wonderful and I appreciate each and
every review posted. Thanks for reading the book and for taking the time to write.

The... (what's my line?)
Thanks for listening to me ramble.

Let’s do it again soon.


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