You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... here.
Q: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Sadly, none. Unless trips to conventions count. Maybe I should look into taking a trip like that. Could be fun.
Q: What is the first book that made you cry?
To Kill A Mockingbird, I think. Although, I will admit, the movie gets me more than the book.
Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
There are publishers out there who will try to take advantage of authors and ask for fees from the author. That is not how publishing works. The money should flow from the publisher to the author, not the other way around. Same with agents. Money is made when books sell. That goes for writers, publishers, and agents. http://pred-ed.com is a good resource for looking into publishers, agents, etc. They are currently revising their information, but it will give you an idea of praises and complaints against publishers.
Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A little of both. I get a thrill out of writing, but after a lengthy writing sprint, I'm a bit tired, but mentally and physically (ow, my aching back!).
Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Submitting work to publishers before it's ready. I've been guilty of that. I think all writers have. Our excitement sometimes gets the best of us and we either send it off or self-publish a story before it's ready.
|Exhausted author is exhausted.|
Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Beats me. I've met writers with huge egos and others with no egos. Not sure if either was helped. Sure, having the ego boosts your confidence, but you have to be careful not to go too far or it could backfire. Maybe a little ego helps.
Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?
Q: Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Ha! I guess so. Never been asked this one before. There are times when I just get to a point where I don't want to read this right now. I guess that counts as reader's block.
Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Maybe. It would depend on the situation. If I were to write a romance or erotica novel or any genre outside the norm for me, I might be persuaded to use a pen name. I even have a few picked out just in case, but as of this writing, I have never been published under a pseudonym.
Q: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
There's an old Stan Lee quote that I like to use. "Never give the readers what they think they want." It's like on TV. When Castle and Beckett or
|This was made for me. I like it.|
Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
|Creative friends are awesome.|
Sure. Why not? That writer would have to find a writing style that works for him or her, but it's doable.
Q: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I won't name names as that could be a lengthy list and I don't want to accidentally leave anyone out, but one of the best things to come out of
|Creative friends are awesome.|
|Creative friends are awesome.|
Q: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
A lot of my stories, even though they are with different publishers, are part of the same universe. I want each story on its own to be stand-alone so you get an ending, but I also pepper seeds for other stories, use the same secondary characters in different books, have them be in the same town, etc. The Snow series is a series, but each book is a stand-alone with ongoing plotlines there as well. The A plot is solved. The B plot can continue. Plus, I like throwing in Easter Eggs. Snow
grew up and went to high school in Sommersville, GA. Evil Ways, Deadly Games!, and the upcoming Evil Intent and Sheriff Myers series all take place in Sommersville so there are ties. Will the characters ever cross over? Maybe. There are no plans at this tie, but it could happen easily enough.
Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Be smarter with your schedule. Stay focused. Don't get distracted.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I paid all my bills this month off a check earned from writing. As far as splurging, I sometimes treat myself to a job well done with a book or some trinket I've been eyeing. Rewards are good, even when you have to give them to yourself.
Q: What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Q: What did you do with your first advance?
I think I was able to afford a fast food meal and a trip to the movies.
Q: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Oddly enough, on TV. An episode of M*A*S*H featured the doctors saving a suspected terrorist. A Korean soldier and his people came to collect her, interrogate her, and then kill her. The doctors tried and failed to sneak her out of camp. The soldiers pulled their guns on Hawkeye as
he took a step forward. He lost and knew it and in a fit of anger, he called the soldier, "You son of a bitch!" While it doesn't seem like much today, this was the first time I had ever heard such language said on TV. It was shocking to my young ears at the time, but I understood that there was meaning behind not only the words, but how they were delivered.
Q: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
I'm not sure. I don't subscribe to any myself, but in the past I have picked up various writing magazines. They can be quite helpful.
Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit
No idea. It would have to be a stubborn animal, whatever it was.
Q: How many hours a day do you write?
It varies from day to day.
Q: How do you select the names of your characters?
There's a lot of give and take in creating names for characters. Usually, they bounce through one or two iterations before I settle on the perfect name to fit the character.
Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I probably shouldn't, but I do. I take the good with the bad and thank everyone who took time to write a review.
Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I place little Easter Eggs in there from time to time. Nothing that not catching will detract from the story.
Q: What was your hardest scene to write?
Writing my first killer stalking the murdering someone scene in Evil Ways. It was rough. I was afraid of what the readers, or more importantly, my mother, would think. I stressed myself out a bit there.
Q: Do you Google yourself?
From time to time. That's how I find reviews or articles on websites about my books. I then share those links.
Q: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I already give up sleep, wealth, and a personal life. Isn't that enough? Ha! Ha!
Q: What are your favorite literary journals?
I wish I had a good answer. I don't really have time to read literary journals. Sorry.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Finding time to get all of my work done.
Q: Does your family support your career as a writer?
They do. They don't always understand it, but after all these years, they do offer moral support.
Q: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would have started taking writing serious sooner.
Q: What proportion do thrillers represent of your overall reading? As a writer, do you read more non-fiction or genre fiction?
I love thrillers. Many of the novels I read are thrillers or genre fiction. I don't read a lot of non-fiction.
Q: Which recent event would you love to include in your next novel and why?
The Interstate 85 bridge collapse in Atlanta, Georgia is mentioned in the upcoming Snow Drive, which takes place after repairs are completed. FYI: the bridge reopened yesterday.
Q: Some writers love inserting highly specific brand names and editors often pull those out. What works and when? Is it advertising or is are these an instant indicator of one’s personal wealth or whims.
You do run the risk of getting into trouble for using a brand name. You just have to be careful. I like to air on the side of caution, plus, why give a big corporation free advertising?
Q: Telling the story right, how accurate must thrillers be to stay plausible, and yet include imaginative tech or devices not in existence today?
I try to keep my thrillers plausible. Smart phones have certainly made
Q: How's the weather? Outside my office window is a cornucopia of rain, snow, sunshine, and cloudy conditions. It often shows up in my writing that day. Does the weather direct your daily writing and sometimes rain on your characters?
It's warm with a good chance of rain here today. Weather can play an important role. Evil Ways is set in autumn as the temperature begins to drop and it's been raining a lot. Mostly, this happened because it was cold and rainy when I started writing Evil Ways and it fit the mood of the story.
Q: We writers love words! What is your favorite word or phrase in the English language?
Good question. I wish I had a good answer. I'm not sure I have a favorite word or phrase.
Q: A question for both plotters and pantsers ... It has always been your intention to kill off your main character at the end of the book, it was the point of the whole story. But that guy just won't die! Do you win this battle?
It depends on the story. Sometimes I win and kill off the character. Other times, the character convinces me he or she is worth saving. I go with whichever scenario best serves
Q: What's your favorite opening line from your own work?
Abraham Snow knew he was about to die and the thought of it pissed him off to no end.
--opening line from Snow Falls.
Q: What important thing have you forgotten to do when deep in the writing trenches?
Eat. I've had a few writing sprints where I get so into the zone I forget to do anything else. You don't realize you're hungry until you realize you haven't stopped for food in hours.
Q: Your current writing problem: Is it a craft issue or an emotional issue?
Neither. It's a time issue, as in, I don't have enough time to get everything done.
|Another day in the writing mine.|
Q: How do you mine ideas? Wait for it to come, work on the baddie and let hero react or let him stumble around?
A little of each. Sometimes, if I'm just not sure what to write, I'll just have a character start to do something, maybe walk down the street or something like that. I follow that character and see what kind of
trouble he or she gets into and then see how it impacts the main character(s) in the story. If it does, great. If not, I save it for another time.
Q: As a genre reader, what's that one book you're supposed to love, but just don't or can't?
I really hate these kind of questions. I would rather talk about what I like instead of focusing on what I don't, but since you asked... I've tried a few times with Dune, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings. Try as I might, I just can't get into them.
Q: Ever just go off on a crazy write and type something that has nothing to do
with any other project you're currently writing?
Sometimes, though not as often as I used to do it. There is something freeing about doing a free writing exercise. Just start writing and see where the story or character takes you. I've started some stories by just following a character and seeing where they lead me and use that to kickstart my story.
Q: What cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage best describes your current work in progress? Sweet like Rum and Coke? Spicy like a Bloody Mary? Tangy like a Margarita?
I am not a drinker so I have zero context to put my current WIP, Snow Drive, into. Snow Drive is race themed so maybe a beer works. I wish I had a better answer for you. I did make Evil Ways shotglasses once upon a time. I still have a few left.
Q: So, what is standard rate for a new writer for 600 word article, etc?
Depends on the publisher. Being new or experienced often doesn't enter into it. Most publishers offer either payment per word or a set fee for
stories and/or articles. Some pay based on royalties or hits for on-line articles.
Q: Are there websites or email lists to use that provide weekly or monthly leads?
www.duotrope.com (not free) and www.ralan.com (free) are two that spring to mind.
Q: Do you do freelance writing as a job? I was doing corporate blog pieces for a while, but I didn't get paid that much. Wondering what else is out there.
My job is writing novels, short stories, and comic books. Money is sporadic, at best.
Q: Are you a member of national writing groups?
I'm a member of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) and International Thriller Writers (ITW).
Q: If you could have one more season of a TV show, which would it be?
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Runner up: Leverage.
Q: Tell us about the traits that make your current main character great.
Abraham Snow is the kind of guy you want to be friends with. He's likable,
charming, and has a good sense of humor. He's also loyal to his friends and with his skills, he's exactly the guy you would call if you found yourself in trouble.
Q: How many times a day do you look up from your keyboard and think ... THIS IS THE ONE! THIS IS THE BOOK TO REACH THE TOP SELLER LIST! THIS IS THE BOOK TO TOUCH EVERYONE!
I can't say I've ever had that thought. Sure, I hope it does well, but I try not to get my hopes up too high.
I read a lot. I read comics, novels, and short stories along many different genres, even if it happens to be a genre I'm writing. I used to not read the same genre as I wrote, but that eventually stopped. On my current to read stack is Savage Dragon Archives vol. 8 by Erik Larsen (comic books), Field of Graves by J.T. Ellison (novel), The Demands Book Two: B-Sides by Drew Geraci (novel), Mars One by Jonathan Maberry (novel), and Star Trek: Section 31 “Control” by David Mack (novel). I
pick up whichever mood strikes me at the time.
Q: Did your parents buy your comics when you were a kid, or did you get your own?
I asked for what I wanted. If it was up to my parents to pick out comics for me God only knows what I would have ended up reading. My parents were not a big fan of comics and would have been just as happy for me to not read them, which made me want to read them even more.
Q: Which do you prefer: Novels or Novellas?
I don't have a preference in terms of reading them. Not all stories need to be 100,000 words so a novella can be a welcome change from a lengthy novel. On the other hand, sometimes I read a novella so fast I'm ready for more.
Q: Saturday morning cartoon you couldn't wait to watch as a kid?
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
Q: What music do you listen to while writing?
Sometimes I will play the radio, other times a CD. Usually, I write in silence.
Q: What are your favorite mysteries?
I prefer mystery/thrillers. Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell and Ryder Creed novels, and J.T. Ellison's Jackson Taylor novels all fit the bill nicely.
Q: Behind all the bad special effects, the strange episode structure,
the “British-ness” of Doctor Who what was it that caught your imagination? What turned you into a Doctor Who fan? I'm looking to hear from fans of the show BEFORE the current incarnation. What made you a Whovian when Whovian wasn't cool?
I enjoy the adventure of it. Doctor Who always had interesting monsters and a lot of that was due to the low budget. They had to get inventive. My favorite episodes revolved around the Doctor in space. My first exposure to the show was Tom Baker's 4th Doctor on PBS Saturday nights when they played Doctor Who as movies. As a kid, I didn't care that the special effects were "bad" or the sets were cardboard. The adventure sucked me in and kept me enthralled.
The same happened with new Doctor Who. I was a little late to the
party, but some friends suggested I give it a try and I'm glad I did. I love it. Great show.
Q: What's the real skinny on "show don't tell"? How do you approach this in your work?
I show as much as I can. Sometimes, if I need to speed things along, tell works, but I use tell sparingly. The real trick is knowing when to use tell. When in doubt, showing the action is always a solid course of action with writing.
Q: What's your goalpost of *insane* monetary success? Note: I mean "never have to worry again" success. I know we'd all just like to eat and stuff.
Knowing that if I want to buy something, a book, movie, tablet, etc., that I can without worrying. Just being able to have a nice house (preferably beach adjacent) and be able to pay all my bills and be comfortable. That would be cool.
Q: What are your tricks for finding writing time when life gets super busy?
When life gets too hectic, I work in writing time where I can. Sometimes that means typing a few paragraphs on my phone in an email to myself while waiting on my dad to finish up with his doctor. If that's not an option, I work through scenes in my head and that helps when I sit down to write because the story is better formed.
Q: We all create our characters based on real life people we know,
or a combination of folks in our lives. How many times has a version of your mom or dad shown up in a manuscript?
In Evil Ways, the parents of characters Harold and Franklin Palmer are based on my parents. Franklin is also based on my brother. The parents are mentioned only, but not seen. Franklin gets a lot more story time. I wrote a book that's long out of print now called Fantastix, adapting a comic book script I also wrote based on characters the publisher owned. In the comic, there's one panel where we meet some characters who will be looking for our heroes. In the story, they don't find them before the story ends. In the novel, we spend more time with them and see what they are up to during the story. Those characters are based on my parents. The only place to get this is on my Patreon page since it's out of print.
|Let me show you what I mean.|
Q: How many books have you written? How many in the same genre? How many do you plan to write? How many are published?
I really don't know. Between novels, comic books, anthologies, collections, and graphic novels, the number is somewhere north of 100, but I don't have an exact number. I really should count them one day. Almost everything written since 2000 has been published or is in the queue to be published. I have been fortunate enough to work in multiple genres. I bounce around a bit and I don't actually have a stopping point in mind. I'll write until I can't.
Q: Unplanned things come into our WIPs without warning, even if you're a serious plotter. What unplanned event vastly improved one of your books?
|Sometimes you just have to ask...|
What would Al Bundy do?
I have a novel in process that I reached a point where I felt we needed to step away from our protagonists for a moment and look somewhere else. I wasn't exactly sure where though so I just started writing. I introduced a character and a situation and then a second character and wrote a really good chapter, never knowing how any of it fit. If it did, great. If not, I would pull it and move on. I went back to the protagonists without seeing how it fit. Two chapters later, it all slammed into place how both characters fit into the story as if they had been planned from the beginning. In fact, one of the characters had even been mentioned in an earlier chapter, though not by name as I
hadn't come up with a name yet. Suddenly, the novel had a bit more depth than before and this revelation amps up the peril for one character later. I love it when that happens. Now all I have to do is finish the darn thing.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I realized I couldn't draw for a living. Once I learned that hard truth, I focused on writing and we were off. I was a teenager at the time, 18 or 19, I guess.
Q: Politics ... How do you write them into your stories to impact the plot? And do you draw similarities between your storyline and the real world (past or present) political events?
I am not a big fan of talking politics in real life, but I do tend to favor stories that have political characters in them. Odd, I know. I do not use my stories as a means of pushing any political party or agenda. I don't belong to any particular political party either. I prefer to vote based on a person's record, not along arbitrary party lines, but that's just me. Your mileage may vary. That said, characters have to be fleshed out and that
means politics. I have a fictional President of the United States in some of my stories (Freelancer: The Travel Sanction and the upcoming Evil Intent, Blood Shot, and a few others it's too early to mention). I use him a few times (my extended literary universe), although only one of those stories is currently published. The rest are coming. Politics is important in those stories so I don't shy away from it. I also wrote a 1930's political thriller, Domino Lady "Money Shot" that was pitched to me by the publisher as being a political thriller so politics had to play a part.
Q: These days, it seems publishers are dropping like fleas from a collar. Where do you go to list your books? (I myself use Amazon,
Smashwords, Sea to Sky, the soon-to-open Inside Romance, and a dash of PayHip).
In the past year, I have run into this issue a few times, far more than I care to admit. When I have a say in where the books are placed, I use Amazon (expanded distribution gets it into Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Kobo, iTunes, etc) and Smashwords (multiple platforms) to start. This gets it to the major retail spaces. Then, I look into other venues that stock my particular genre.
Q: Writers in the midst of a series: Do you ever get to a point where
Yeah. My last couple of novels have been dedicated toward groups of people.
Q: Writing is a disciplined task, but what do you do when the muse doesn't want to be corralled? Write something else? Play with the Muse and see where it takes you? Do something else altogether, like maybe knit?
Well, I'm not much for knitting, but there are times when the muse simply doesn't want to cooperate. On those days, I try to work on something else or, deadlines permitting, I take the day off to rest and recharge, read a book, watch a movie, mow the lawn, or just go for a drive. All of these have helped me in the past. Writing is such a solitary job. I sit alone in a room all day long. Sometimes a change of scenery helps kickstart my creativity.
Q: Do you think vampire and werewolf stories are over used?
As long as the story is good, I don't think it matters. Zombie stories were considered done and overused until The Walking Dead came along. Super-Heroes were starting to wane in popularity and then Robert Downey Jr. put on a suit of armor.
Q: I have a few pesky questions if you guys don't mind helping me with...
Q: Is it 911 or 9-1-1?
I prefer 911. I would use 9-1-1 if a character was telling someone to dial 911 for an emergency.
Q: If you refer to a pro football team can you name it in your work?
Should be okay unless they are the focus of your novel, then I would suggest creating a new team.
Q: When you talk about gears (cars) Park Reverse, is that is upper case? Jack put the car in reverse before I shut my door.
No. Not uppercase.
Q: For the words 'too' and 'also' is the a comma before them... Jack said he wanted to go, too.
Yes. Comma after.
Q: How would you write a montage in a novel? You know, that bit in a movie where they cut together a lot of clips of something happening, often with music. It's a good way to show something progressing (e.g. skills or character development) without having to show it all. It’s very effective at moving the story along. In a book,
I’m guessing it would be a paragraph or more of telling, rather than showing? If your story has a definite narrator (first or third person), this would be fairly straightforward – they can just summarize the events. But what about for a third-person limited point of view?
In the instance where I did this, I used the character's POV to show and tell what was going on. In my case, I started with the character's exhaustion and built from there as he explained his days and the intensity of his training.
Q: When you create a world, do you feel The need to create cities and countries that are not really relevant to your plot, just for you to know more about the world?
For the most part, no. That said, sometimes characters might mention a place (I've always dream of visiting...) so I have to have a general idea of it.
Q: I've never attempted to write a sex scene or included anything even remotely sexual in anything I've tried to write. Are there certain subjects or scenes you've never tried writing about or otherwise struggle with if you have attempted it?
I'm always torn on how detailed or graphic to get when writing sex scenes or when writing murder scenes. There are some subjects I avoid for various reasons, but that's not to say I might not attempt them for certain projects if the story demanded it. Never say never, I guess.
Q: When one of your main characters is based on a real person, is it okay to give the character the same physical features or
characteristics if the name is changed? My character also has the same occupation, but of course family life, and specifics have been changed. I was wondering about liability issues. There are also a couple of characters I put in there briefly who are real people, but it was just because my main characters patronized their establishments. Nothing disparaging or negative was said, it was all positive. Thanks in advance for any insight given.
Should not be a problem if you are using them as a starting point. Once you get to know the Character, he or she will begin to take on a life of their own and move beyond the person you used as a template. I have used many people I know as the starting point for characters. By the time the character is fully formed, the resemblance to the real person is negligible.
Q: How do you find the motivation to continue when you read what you've written and totally hate it? If you hate it, will the reader necessarily hate it? Or am I just my own worst critic? I think my writing is trash. Dry, flavorless trash.
I believe all writers face this type of crisis at one time or another. We tend to be our own worst critic and all we see are the flaws. Step away
from it then come back to it later and look at it with fresh eyes or find a beta reader who will give you honest feedback. That distance will help you look at it more clearly. Then, if there are issues that need to be changed or revised, you will see them. If you feel there is a story problem, then there probably is one. Trust your gut.
Q: Can you share a happy, funny, or super success story from your writing career so far?
How about one of each?
Happy-- The day I opened the box that held the comp copies of my first novel. You couldn't wipe the smile off my face for weeks.
Funny-- I went to the bank and the teller read my name then looked up at me and asked, "any relation to the author?" Made my day.
|But I'm supposed to be writing today.|
Super success-- There have been a few successes along the way, certainly. The first time I was published, the time I won an award for my writing, the time I paid a bill with a royalty check, or any time a publisher or venue reaches out to me to be part of a project or event instead of me begging them to let me be part of it. All of those I count as successes, but super success takes that one step beyond, I think.
I was in Target one day ready to check out when this woman walked up to me and said, "You look familiar. How do I know you?" I was
|Free Comic Book Day sketching|
Q: Novel writers - how do you organize your information regarding timezones, characters, places, etc? I just made an entire notebook marked off into different sections for each but I'm wondering what other ways people use?
I keep notes. I don't use a fancy writing program, just simple WORD so notes help me keep things straight.
Q: Who's the best band you've seen live?
Q: Writers, what's your sort-of end-game in your writing career? What do you have to achieve for you to say, okay, I can die now? :)
You know, I've never considered that. You've given me something to
think about. I don’t know if I have an end game at this point. Certainly, there are still a good number of goals I want to reach, but I don’t know where the end lies yet.
Q: What's your favorite magical weapon from literature, movies, comics, animation, etc.? Not sci-fi but fantasy.
He-Man's sword is the first thing that springs to mind.
Q: What was the first Convention you attended?
Atlanta Fantasy Fair 1989.
Q: Authors: Agent or self publish - why?
There are other options. I work for publishers without an agent and I self-publish on occasion. I do not have an agent, though I have tried a few times. I’ve learned that it’s easier to find a publisher to publish my work than to find an agent who thinks they can find me a publisher. Sad, but true. Maybe one day.
Q: Why, based on the above answer, would you want to find an agent?
Publishers come in all different shapes and sizes. Larger publishers were once the only game in town. They require an agent to get your work to them. My agent search was to see if I could get my work in a larger publishing house. One of my goals is to make a living as a writer. Writing for small press, while great, has a drawback, and that drawback comes in the form of sales. Money trickles in through small press. With larger press, there’s more distribution options and therefore hopefully more opportunities for sales. I just want to see if any of them think my work is good enough for a top 5 publisher. So far the answer to that has been “no” so I keep trying.
Q: Did you choose your genre, or did your genre choose you?
I choose my genres. So far, I have been lucky not to become pigeonholed into just one genre.
Q: What are you writing and who is the target reader audience? Young people? Older people? Men? Women? Kids? Who will your story speak to?
My SNOW Series of novellas are action/thrillers so my target audience
is 16 and up, though realistically, most of my audience to this point has been 30 and up. I try to write to appeal to men and women, but my readership on this has been fairly split, but skewing a bit more toward male readers. I'm always looking to expand the readership though. Any ideas?
Q: What or who encourages you and drives you to continue writing better and better?
I keep going because I love what I do, I love telling stories, and I want to get better and see how far I can take it. It isn't always easy and there
are times when I want to throw in the towel, but I always find a way back into the fold to keep on writing. I am lucky to have a fan base of readers. They help motivate me as well. I want to give them the best story I can.
Q: When you need to write that super emotional scene, how do you prepare?
I try to put myself into the mindset of the character and I use my own experiences as a starting point. I have been happy, sad, etc. I start there and see where the characters take me.
Q: How much time do you take to rest between first and second drafts?
I know this sounds like a cop out answer, but it all depends on deadlines. If I'm on a tight deadline or I know there's other work behind it that needs to be done, sometimes I go right from first draft to second. Other times, I give it a day or two.
Q: Did you grow up in a "Reading Household"?
When I was a kid, my Mom was a reader. Then, as things happen, she didn't read much. Once they retired, both of my parents became voracious readers and read all the time now.
Q: What's the worst movie you ever saw in a theater?
Cloverfield. It's the only movie I have ever walked out on in the middle. I walked across the hall and threw up from the shaky cam work. I was so
dizzy and headachy that I didn't bother going back in to see the rest. Green Hornet was pretty awful and made me want to vomit, but for different reasons.
Q: Are novellas the new novels?
Several publishers I work for are asking for more novella length work these days so it's possible. Part of that is to keep prices down. Another reason is the rise of ebook sales, which means people just want a good story without worrying how many pages the story runs.
Q: Which fast food restaurant has the best fries?
Q: Who are your favorite Sci Fi characters?
These are the first 5 that popped into my head-- Miles O'Brien, Leonard "Bones" McCoy, The Doctor, Wedge Antilles, Benjamin Sisko. I am a sucker for secondary characters and Sisko’s just a badass.
Q: Do you feel the world has been saturated by writers? Like there is way more supply than there could ever be demand? Do you think it is hopeless to write? That success in writing means you were one of the lucky one percent? I sure do. Writing seems so hopeless to me. Even content creation with niche blogging seems lackluster nowadays. So much stuff competition in everything. So many books screaming READ ME, barely read by 10 people each. So many amazing books forever lost. So many best sellers that should have
been worst sellers. To me, writing feels... dead. Not a living I can trust to earn. I lament the craft. I wish I were born 50 years ago when people used to read good hard copies.
There are a lot of writers and a lot of books out there, largely thanks in part to print on demand technologies. Sure, some are better than others, but I don’t want to debate quality. I do not think it I hopeless to write, obviously. I write because I love it. Am I happy when my books sell well? Of course, but selling books is only part of what I do. I love writing. I love creating characters, stories, new worlds, and whatnot. I love it. It helps me feel alive. I’m sorry that writing seems dead to you. I really am. Perhaps, what you can do is step away from
writing and reading for a little while. Take a month or two off, recharge those creative juices then take another look at writing and see if you still feel the same way. If you do, there’s nothing wrong with that. It may just mean it’s time to switch gears and try another creative endeavor. Nothing wrong with that at all. On the other hand, you might come back motivated and with a new appreciation of writing. Good luck.
Q: Do you watch films and break down plot points and scene changes?
Sometimes. I try not to, but sometimes I can't help it.
Q: When writing your first draft, are you careful and specific with punctuation and grammar, or are you just getting it down for later tweaks and corrections?
A little of both. I try to be as correct as I can on the first draft, but mostly I just want to get the story down. I always go back and tweak later.
Q: What are your favorite research resources?
Google is my friend. I often visit websites for certain locations/areas, especially
if I cannot go there myself. I like to visit real places when I can to get a better feel for what it's like to be in that place, or a place like the one I'm writing about.
Q: do you ever get tired of writing, rewriting, editing, and writing once again?
Yes. Sometimes writing becomes work and that means I feel like doing anything but writing, but it's still a job I love so there's that. Now, if only I could get it to pay better.
Q: Tell me about something you might have done if you didn't have the job/career/pastime you have now. I would have been an electric bassplayer in a band.
I really don't have a good answer for you. Probably working some dead end job while being miserable.
Q: How would you answer an Interview Question like this? “What single word would you use to describe yourself so I don’t walk out of here and forget you?”
First off, I hate questions like this. Not that you shared it, but when doing an interview for employment, hiring managers and/or interviewers often pull out these type of questions and those that begin with "Tell me a time when you..." because there is no answer that ever paints the prospective employee in a good light. That said, to answer your question, the word I would use is... prolific.
Why, prolific? I've discovered that it's a word that a lot of people don't know the definition of or don't know how to use it, but they’ve heard the word.
Q: What do you look for in sports coverage? Do you like just the scores, or large features? Do you like emotional stories or bloopers? Are you cool with politics and sports intertwining, or are you a only-the-game-results type? Or do you not even like sports at all?
I fall into the not a sports fan category. I don't mind sports if I'm there
watching in person, but I don't care for it on TV. Oddly enough, I love sports-themed movies. Yeah. I know. I'm weird.
Q: What two fictional characters would you most like to see together on a cross country road trip?
Good question. The first two that come to mind are Raylan Givens and Harry Bosch. If we're talking my characters, then I'd say Harold Palmer and Abraham Snow, which could very well happen one of these days as they do exist in the same universe. Hmmm…
Q: Old TV shows. Anybody still miss Deadwood? The Sopranos? What's your favorite old tv show?
If I have to just pick one: M*A*S*H.
If not, I'd also add Magnum p.i., Justified, The Newsroom, Deadwood, The Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, Person of Interest, and Leverage top the list.
Q: What non-writerly thing do you do that makes you happy and
refreshes your point of view?
Going to the movies, out to dinner with friends, hanging out with other creative people, walking around bookstores, things like that.
Q: Who is your favorite contemporary author, and why?
Michael Connelly is my current favorite. He's held the top spot for a while now because his novels are consistently good reads. I also love seeing Harry Bosch on my TV. If you've not read any of his work, I highly recommend it.
Q: What is the last sentence you wrote on your current work in progress?
“You kidding? This man can drive anything with wheels,” Snow said. “And a few things without.”
--from Snow Drive, book 3 is the Snow series.
Q: Are you a fast writer (able to write a book every month or two,) or are you a slower writer (writing books once a year or two)?
I'm a pretty fast writer once I get started.
Q: Where did your most recent really good writing idea come from? The news? Overheard conversations? Nature? A documentary, film, or book?
From a comment a friend made. He said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." It's a great line and good advice for writers to work together to promote their books and their friends books as well. The next day, an idea for a sci fi story came to me and that was still jangling around my brain so I am using 'The Rising Tide' as the name for the book and the ship inside the book. Now all I have to do is get it on my schedule and written.
Q: To me, writing is about creating an experience in someone else. What is it to you?
It's that and more. Writing is about creating for me. Whether it's creating a myth or a fantasy, creating a narrative or a call to action, or just creating a fun adventure, I really love the creative aspect of writing.
Q: Why is your story worth a person trading their time/money? What do they get from it?
Well, I hope they are entertained by it. That is my first goal as an author is to give my readers a good story that they can enjoy.
Q: How much recounting of book 1 should be in book 2's opening chapter (or any chapter)?
There will definitely need to be some recounting if there's information from book 1 that is relevant to book 2. You can work it into the narrative or do an info dump, although I prefer the former. Always remember that book 2 could be the first one a reader picks up. They may not start with #1 if #2 is new. I always assume each book is someone's first and go from there.
Q: I write only a page a day to complete a fiction. Should I force myself to write more pages?
Only of you want to write more pages. If you're happy doing one page a day then that's fine. Unless you're working on deadlines from a publisher, write the way that works best for you. If you have deadlines, then you have to do whatever it takes to meet those deadlines.
A multi-part Q and A conversation:
Q: So, I'm about to pay you $5 for your story...what am I going to get for it? That $5 might have cost me a half an hour at work. Plus I'm going to "spend" time reading the story. How are you making sure i'm getting my money and time's worth? Assume I'm your perfect, target audience.
You're going to get a professionally written story that I believe you will find entertaining.
Q: Ok. Now give me $5 for what you just wrote down. Would that be enough for you? I want an hour of your life, maybe four hours. Is it a good trade for "You're going to get a professionally written story that I believe you will find entertaining"?
Well, you have to read the solicitation copy and see if it sounds like a story that interests you. If so, you can either read some sample pages or plunk down your money.
I sense you're looking for a specific type of answer here and I don't think I'm going to give you the answer you're seeking. Your $5 buys you a story. My goal is to make that an entertaining story. Beyond that, what are you looking for in that story?
If you get more out of it than an entertaining story, that's a bonus. I'm not trying to change the world with my stories. I'm just trying to entertain. Now, not all writers feel that way and that;s okay. There are as many different types of writers and stories as there are readers. You have to find a writer who speaks to you and what you want out of a story.
Q: I'm not looking for anything specific. I'm trying to figure out how to get writers to consider what they're promising their readers, to make them get their heads out of their asses, LOL. Writers are a self-absorbed bunch, so I'm just trying to get people to really think about the promises and the VALUE they're providing their readers. So it's about the reader, not the writer. "Entertainment"--what does that mean in terms of what you're selling? literally, what makes your story worth the reader's time/money?
That's why we put back cover copy on books, so the reader knows in a
general sense what this story is about. That teases the reader. A blurb also teases the reader. If the reader likes what she reads there, then she may buy the book and enjoy it. I don't want to tell my readers what I want them to feel or take away from any particular book. I am there to entertain. If the reader likes what they read in the solicitation copy or the back cover copy, then it is up to them to pay their money or not. That's the only way I know how to explain it. My job is to write a story I enjoy, my publisher enjoys and thinks is sellable/marketable, and that the readers will hopefully enjoy. That's how it works for me. Other's mileage may vary.
I write for a living. I don't say that to brag, but to explain where I'm coming from in terms of what I do as a writer. As a professional writer, I am hired by a publisher to
do a job. My first duty is to fulfill my obligation to said publisher within the boundaries the publisher gives me. In most cases, I absolutely no say in the solicitation copy, back cover copy, blurbs, or pretty much anything except the words that are in the story. The publisher is my first audience. The reader is my second audience. I don't always have the option to make promises to the reader to get them to buy a book. That happens at the publisher level. Sometimes I get input, but most of the time I do not.
Q: I just want writers to think about their readers.
I can't speak for any writer but myself, but the reader is generally
forefront in the planning and execution of my work. In the middle, as I'm writing the story, not so much. The reader is especially important after the book is at the publisher and ready to be released.
I think it should start with me. I write the type of story I like to read. No one wants to get stuck writing the type of stories they hate if you get pigeonholed into that genre/type. I've seen it happen. So, I start with me as a reader (standing in for other readers like me) and then figure it out as me the author.
Q: Are you ever in the middle of writing a book and felt like finishing the current work later and start a new work?
All the time.
Q: Do you listen to music when you write?
Sometimes, but not often. When I lived alone I listened to music more. I don't like writing with earphones on.
Q: What's your biggest issue in your current WIP(work in progress)? Mine is narrowing it down, there are so many good stories in the world I am creating. What about you?
Research is slowing down my writing, but the research is necessary. I want to make sure I represent the sport and fanbase of it well.
Q: I read something last night which said that writing in the "present tense" is a no-no. Is this true?
Absolutely not. It might be a no-no at that publisher, but each publisher has their own rules. Most tend to favor past tense, but nothing says they can't be present tense. Just remember, present tense is hard. If you’re going to use it, use it correctly.
Q: Can you describe your Book or short story in one sentence?
FBI Agent Harold Palmer came to Sommersville looking for rest and seeing his brother, not getting tangled up with a killer. -Evil Ways by Bobby Nash
Q: Favorite DC Comics villains?
Toyman (the Superman animated version is my personal favorite incarnation), Deathstroke (he's still a villain, right?), Deadshot (especially when written by Gail Simone), and Silver Banshee top the list.
Q: Favorite Legion of Super-Heroes villain?
I've not read a lot of Legion stories so the only ones I know are Darkseid and The Time Trapper.
Q: What's just the right number of members for a super-team? The number of manageable characters, in other words.
It depends on the needs of the story.
Q: Who was it who helped you have the faith to begin writing? What they that person do to encourage you?
There were a few who helped me out a lot.
Wilma Clark was an English teacher in high school. She caught me drawing/writing comics in class one day. Instead of scolding me for it, she asked to read it and then encouraged me to continue... so long as I continued doing well in her class. She also recruited me to the school newspaper that she oversaw. I eventually became editor-in-chief and learned a lot of valuable lessons about design and layout that still serve me well today. One of my biggest regrets is that she passed away before I became a published writer and I never got to thank her for the encouragement she gave me. I think she would have been proud.
Harriette Austin was a great cheerleader, friend, and the closest thing I had to a writing mentor. I took her creative writing class at UGA's non-credit adult education center. I learned a lot about writing, but also about reading and talking to groups, a skill that still serves me well to this day. Harriette was a community organizer. She brought many of her students together outside the classroom into social events, shared book events, and even a writer's conference. We lost Harriette last year, but I was thankful to have known her and cal her my friend.
Sandra Gentry was also very helpful with that as well. She refused to let me hide behind my paper to read and forced me to look at the rest of the room. Sandra and her husband Ralph remain good friends of mine to this day.
Jeff Austin also gave me some good advice that helped me move my writing in a direction that helped me a great deal with some well-timed advice that I took to heart. He also remains a good friend today and you should really buy some of the comics Jeff has worked on.
Q. Who was it who helped you keep going when you felt like stopping and just "settling" into some other plan? What did that person do to keep you going?
I mentioned quitting once to my mother, just an offhand comment. She reminded me how much work I had put in and how far I had gotten and that she would hate to see me throw that away. I have friends who are also creators that I talk to when the stress of things gets to me. I won't name names here, but talking with someone who shares the same job and same job stresses helps.
Q: When you write dialogue in a book does it always go into quotation marks?
In a novel or short story, yes. Dialogue is always in quotes. If I have the point of view character thinking something, then that is in italics without quotation marks. If you're writing first person, the thoughts are part of the narration, but dialogue should still be in quotes. If you've come up with something else that works, by all means, feel free to experiment or talk to your publisher/editor for his or her take. Never be afraid to try something new. It may or may not work, but regardless, you'll have learned something.
Q: Why do comic book writers think that the fans what politics in their comics? Comic books are meant to help us find an escape, not just echo what's going on outside of them.
Sometimes writers write stories that resonate with current issues. This is certainly not anything new to comics. During the Nixon years, Captain America faced the Secret Empire, an terrorist organization led by the President of the United States. Ronald Reagan appears in Legends, enforcing regulations to keep super-heroes off the streets. There are certainly other examples as well. Some stories are more overtly political
than others. I am not a fan of real-world politics myself, but I have used crooked politicians in my Domino Lady stories because they fit the character's history.
Q: All great Writers are also readers. What should folks read so they can become a better writer and be able too tell the difference between great writing and spurious dreck?
Read everything. One reader's spurious dreck can be another's great writing, and vice versa. Read books that appeal to you as a reader. Don't read a book because you feel you need to because it's popular. Read what you
like. Also, write what you like. I can't guarantee publishers will like it or not, but if you write what you are passionate about, you will probably find an audience.
Q: Star Trek / optimistic future SF: the impossible daydreams of our hippie parents that has played itself out or an idea that is needed more than ever?
I personally love optimistic futures. I know they are not in favor these days and haven't really been in favor for a while now, but I love the idea of Star Trek's future. I love that humanity continues on, grows, matures, and creates a new Federation with their neighbors. I wish we could see a little more of that thinking here in the real world. As a writer, I like to write an optimistic future, although I'm not always given
the chance depending on the publisher's wants and/or needs. I do have an idea for a future-based story or two. Just have to get them in the schedule and find them a home.
Q: Why is every darn thing being called "pulp" when we now it just isn't so?
Ah, the dreaded "what is pulp?" question. The question itself isn't really a bad one, but I've been on numerous panels at conventions and on-line discussions on this very topic. Pulp is really, at it's core, two things. Pulp refers to the paper the pulps were printed on, that pulpy cheap paper.
Anything printed on that paper back in the day was pulp. Genre did not matter. There were romance pulps, western pulps, train pulps, etc. Pulp has also come to mean a style of writing that is used to tell a pulp tale. That gets into a gray area when deciding what is or is not pulp. Pulp is not a genre into itself. Pulp crosses genres. What is pulp? Good question. There are those who have written up definitive definitions of
|New Pulp or not New Pulp?|
That is the question.
So, what is pulp, you ask? Here's my take on it and it's not meant to be a joke, even though it sounds like a joke answer--
Pulp is like porn. I may not be able to fully define it, but by golly, I know it when I see it.
Q: What makes you FEEL like an author? A great review? Messages from readers? Pats on the back from other authors?
A little of each of those things and just doing the work, sitting down and creating something. Knowing that a reader was moved by my work enough to write a review or track me down at a convention or signing to tell me they liked my book is one of the great perks that comes from being a writer. It's humbling and exciting and one of the best feelings int he world. There's also a lot to be said from just seeing my work in print, on store shelves, and in reader's hands. There have been a few instances where I've seen people reading my books and it always gives me a little jolt.
Q: What is in your author’s email signature?
Writer @ Large
Q: What's your instinctive signal that the story is really finished ... that it's time to type "The End?"
I just know. I go into my stories with an ending in mind that I aim for while writing. Of course, as we all know, sometimes the characters don't cooperate and they take us in new directions we were not anticipating. I generally know we've reached the end when they tell me. Or if I have a certain word limit set by my publisher, I have to angle the end to happen within that word limit.
Q: I'm curious-- How many times have you been in the newspaper?
A few. My local and surrounding area papers have written articles on me or about my writing over the years. I also used to do comic strips and articles for their monthly Keeping Up With Kids magazine insert. That ran 12 issues a year for 12 years. That ups the number quite considerably.
Q: Fiction writers develop a lot of characters. Of all your characters, which one are you most connected to, most fond of, the one that makes you smile or cringe? Of all your "children," who is your favorite?
I love my characters, even the ones created to be hated. There's a small part of me in all of them, I suspect. Hard not to leave a little bit of me in there, I suppose. I really connected with FBI Agent Harold Palmer (Evil Ways) because of his relationship with his brother, which I based off my relationship with my brother. I am also connecting with Abraham Snow in my new Snow series because there's a part of him that's like me, only, you know, cooler. Snow's grandfather, Archer Snow is also one I'm close to and readers seem to love him too. He's mentioned in every review or anytime someone talks to me about the books. Oddly enough, Archer is my ideal version of a grandfather, nothing at all like the one I had in real life with whom I did not have the best of relationships.
|Not actual cover|
Q: We all set writing projects aside sometimes. My question is, what is the longest period of time one of your writing projects waited for a revisit and possible completion?
I started a novel about 10 or 15 years ago that I keep setting aside for other projects. I will finish the darn thing eventually. Evil Intent, the long-delayed (I'm sorry!) sequel to Evil Ways has also been in a holding pattern for 11 years. 8 of those were because of my bad contract and not wanting that publisher to have any claim to a second book. It's also on my list to be completed this year. The long-delayed (I'm sorry!) Lance Star: Sky Ranger novel has also been pushed aside in the same way. I need to get them finished.
Q: What makes a back cover blurb effective?
The back cover copy is important because it is the 2nd look a person has at the book to decide if he or she wants to pick it up. In a bookstore, a potential customer sees the cover, it grabs their attention. The reader picks it up, turns it over, and reads the back cover. If that grabs them, they might open it up and read a few lines. In on-line sales, the same is true, except that information is all on the screen.
Q: For the changing, highly Kindle-driven market, is back-cover copy as important as it used to be?
Absolutely. It may not be on the back cover in this scenario, but that information is still relevant and helpful to the reader so it becomes part of the description on the page.
Q: What advice do you have to those writers asked to help create back cover copy or self-publishers looking to improve their blurbs?
Look at the type of books you like to read. Look at how those publishers handle back cover copy and blurbs. Use that as your starting base. Remember, tease the readers so they want to buy the book. Don't spoil your secrets or get bogged down in details on back cover copy. Just give it the pitch. Blurbs may or may not help. I don't have any real data there. If the reader trusts the opinion of the person giving the blurb, then it probably helps.
Q: I'm sure a lot of you have a daily routine/weekly schedule for working on your art. What works best for you? How do you motivate yourself to stick with it?
I try to write every day. Some days I write more than others and there are times where I take a day off. I work in shift, a block in the morning and a block in the evening. Deadlines helps determine my work schedule. I also have parents that need some extra help these days so
there are days I can’t work the day block because I am running one or both of them somewhere. I have to juggle the writing schedule around things like that. In my office, I have a white board on the wall with open projects and notes so I can keep it straight at a glance. I also have an Excel spreadsheet that keeps track of open projects, deadlines, date I turned in a draft, edits back to me, edits back to publisher, galleys, release dates, etc. I like the spreadsheet, but I do not update it as often as I should.
I’ve said this before and people assume I’m joking, but deadlines are great motivators. Knowing what has to get done and when it needs to be done helps keep me motivated.
Q: How do you juggle multiple projects without losing momentum on one of
them? I have some ideas for short stories in my head right now, but since I'm working on my project, I'm worried that working on those short story ideas will kill the momentum I've got going with it.
I always have multiple projects going. When writing, I often hit a point where I am done for the day on one of them, but can step into the other and feel fresh and write more. Keeping good notes helps keep details straight, but I'm fortunate that I remember what's going on once I'm back into a story. As I mentioned above, I have a whiteboard in my office and an Excel spreadsheet that helps me keep track of deadlines.
Since you're a Doctor Who fan:
|Doctor Who 50th Anniversary panel.|
Sarah Jane Smith, Martha Jones, Leela,
Q: Who are your 3 least favorite Doctor Who companions?
Peri, Teegan, Mel.
Q: Which Doctor Who villain(s) are the most underused?
Until recently, the Zygons.
Q: Do you prefer the "on earth" or "in space" Doctor Who stories?
I like a mix of both, but we tend to spend way too much time on Earth so I would love more stories set in space or on other worlds. One of my favorites is “Ark in Space” with Tom Baker's 4th Doctor. I loved seeing the Doctor and Sarah Jane in an adventure on a space station.
Q: What are your 3 least favorite Doctor Who episodes (stories)?
These are the first 3 that came to mind: Fear Her, Ghost Light, The Rings of Akhaten
Q: What are your 3 favorite Doctor Who episodes (stories)?
These are the first 3 that came to mind: Gridlock, City of Death, Silence in the Library. Blink gets honorable mention for being damned good, but slight on the Doctor barely being in it.
Q: Anything Missing In Your Life That You Still Want To Do?
Yes. Lots. My bucket list is lengthy.
Q: Are you happy and or satisfied with your life? #NoRegrets
Nope, but I'm working on it.
Q: Tell me one thing (big or small) that's making your life better now.
Community. I feel blessed to be part of this creative community that has welcomed me. I've made lifelong friends as a result.
Q: What is the main reason you cannot write like Stephen King?
Because I'm too busy writing like Bobby Nash to try to write like Mr. King.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer them in a future installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff...
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If you’d like to check out my work, you can find my books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, Books-A-Million, BEN Books, Patreon, and more.
Thanks for listening to me ramble. Let’s do it again soon.