Thursday, September 12, 2013


You want to know what?
Believe it or not, people ask me questions. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I do try to answer them as best I can. One of the perks of being a writer is getting to meet some of the most interesting people. Whether it is at conventions, store signings, through the Earth Station One podcast, writer’s groups, on social media, and sometimes just from people I run into on when I venture out of the cave I call my office, I get asked questions. Sometimes they are about writing or what I’m working on. Other times they’re out of left field. I thought it would be interesting to share some of them along with a few answers. Regardless of where they come from, here’s a few of the latest.

Check out Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, and Part 8 here.

Q: Do you ever use anything other than “said” or “asked” tags on your dialogue. If so, why?

I use “said” most of the time, but if I really need a portion of dialogue to stand out, then I use a different word because as readers we've learned to block out the word "said". When I use another word, it's noticed and draws extra attention to that particular piece of dialogue.

One of my pet peeves is when someone sets these hard and fast rules such as “never use any tag other than said” because not all writers are the same. Also, and this is the most important part-- not all editors and publishers are the same. As a writer, this is both good and bad. I have editors that have admonished me for using only said tags while others have asked why I don’t just use said. I write to tell the best story I can then make changes if requested by the editor/publisher.

Coming 2014
Q: What are your thoughts/opinions on collaborating with other writers?

I don’t often collaborate with other writers on the actual writing part of a project, but there have been exceptions. Mike Gordon and I co-wrote the upcoming Strong Will graphic novel. We plotted it together then I wrote the script from our notes, then we went over it together to polish it. It worked out really well for us. Sean Taylor and I created The Ruby Files characters and world together, each adding bits and pieces. Once we had that pulled together, we made sure it all worked together and fit like puzzle pieces before giving it the final polish that we were both happy with. From there, that went to the publisher and then out to the writers who wrote stories for the anthology. Sean and I then wrote our own individual stories. That also worked pretty well.

Q: What are your thoughts/opinions about uncharted territory you'd like to see sci-fi, pulp fiction or horror venture into?

Good question. I look for well-written, entertaining stories. I think there are still plenty of stories left to tell and I hope I come up with a few of them. Not every story has to break new ground, however. I think you can tell a really good pulp detective story without reinventing the genre.

I love adventure stories. I would love to see more action-packed adventures come our way.

Q: What's something from your real life that's found its way into your work-in-progress?

There was a lot of me in Evil Ways, including one of the characters having my personality and the other having my brother’s personality. There’s always a little something from real life that makes it into the stories, even if it’s just a small detail like one character mentioning that he worked for a pressure gauge manufacturer, which I did once upon a time. I’ve also written stories about a few different writers, something with which I have some small experience.

 Q: How old were you when you received the call to write?

Good question. I started writing comic book stories when I was around 11 or 12, I think. I didn't really get serious about it until a couple years later. I was in my late 20's when I decided to write my first novel. Once I sold Evil Ways to a publisher in 2004, I was hooked and have been writing almost non-stop since. I absolutely love it.

Q: Have you ever received an amazing slam of inspiration at the most inappropriate time or place? During a business meeting? While babysitting? While cooking? Driving? Giving a presentation? While giving special attention to your significant other?

Coming 2014
I think that’s when I get most of them. Inspiration always seems to strike at the most inopportune moments. That’s why I always try to have a notepad handy to jot down notes, although I can generally remember most of it later, at least the broad strokes.

Q: Where was your protagonist born?

In the novel I’m working on called “Snow Falls,” the main character, Abraham Snow was born in Atlanta, Georgia. After being away for years, he returns to Atlanta in this story.

Q: When is a pulp story not a pulp story?

When the story slows down and has multiple subplots that don't tie in to the main plot, lots of character introspection, or time spent doing things not integral to the story.

Q: I'm ready to ePublish my first and the thought of promoting my own book scares me spitless. Are there secrets to making this process easier?

No secrets, I'm afraid. You just have to get out thee and beat the bushes. One thing I've discovered, however, if that if all you post on social media is "buy my book" posts, people will start to ignore you. Mix in some posts about your writing goals, your writing day, accomplishments, etc. Let the readers get to know you as well as your books.

Promotion is a tricky beast. You don’t want to pester potential readers, but you also have to get the word out. It is so easy to get lost in the sea of posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I try to get the word out to newspapers, magazines, TV, podcasts, webzines, newsletters, and even this column. It’s time consuming, but a necessary part of the job.

Q: I have a question for you about going to cons. How has that experience been for you?

I love working the convention circuit. Not only is it great to get out and meet people, but it is also part of my marketing/promotion plan and I get to show off my work to hundreds, if not thousands of potential new readers. They are also great for networking and meeting creative people, some of which you might end up working with down the road. I’ve also made some wonderful friends who I met through attending conventions.

Just because I love Katee
That’s the positive side. The downside is that conventions are expensive to attend, even more so sometimes if you’re working the convention. Some shows charge for the table and you’re almost always paying your own travel and hotel. There are exceptions, and when it happens it is glorious, but it’s generally the exception, not the rule. If you’re going as a vendor or potential guest, weigh the costs and make sure you understand that there is a good chance you will not make enough money to cover those costs. It happens. There are no guarantees when it comes to selling merchandise at a convention. Some shows you’ll sell. Some you won’t. When I first started working cons, I was very focused on how much money I needed to make to cover my costs that I wasn’t enjoying the experience. Once I stopped making that my main concern, I started to enjoy myself more, which actually led to increased sales.

Bottom line, the conventions are a ton of fun, but they are still work. They are expensive and they are exhausting. And I love every minute of it.

Q: About how much of any one book do you take with you to a con?

I have a lot of titles so I can't afford to have too many copies of each on hand. Bear in mind that I have to buy all of the books I take to conventions and book signings, which can get pretty darn expensive. I usually take about 3 or 4 of each title. I don't always have the money to restock everything so I don't always have everything on the table.

The edition I own
Q: So...what's the best book you've read so far this year?

Zero Cool by John Lange (Michael Crichton) from Hard Case Crime. This book did not come out this year, but I’m way behind on my stack of books to read.

Q: What is the biggest, most unavoidable distraction that takes you from your writing? How do you attempt to control that distraction?

Family interruptions. There seems to be this assumption on their part that I can just start and stop at any time. When you stop, it’s often hard to get back into that groove. I’ve explained this until I am blue in the face, but it hasn’t really clicked. I don’t think there is much of a solution so I deal with it.

New edition
Q: What's your sweet spot for writing? A specific season? A time of day? The weekend? Over night? When do you find that your writing simply flows?

I love the fall, when it’s not too hot and not too cold. I can take the laptop outside and write for hours on the back porch. Sadly, I live in Georgia, where fall lasts about a week.

Q: Research. How much do you do and what are your favorite resources?

It varies. A lot of my research is for the pulp stories I write, which are usually period pieces. I have to see what was developed or invented and when. “When were helicopters in use?” that sort of thing. For my modern day novels, I’ve talked with FBI agents, police officers, reporters, lawyers, etc. to get background for characters. Google can also be your friend.

Q: Is your protagonist married or in a relationship?

I kind of cover the whole spectrum. In Evil Ways, Harold Palmer is married. In Deadly Games!, John Bartlett is not (although he used to be), and Benjamin West is in a relationship.

Q: Does your protagonist have any children?

In Evil Ways, Harold Palmer has a daughter, age 4.

Q: What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?
On Fat Chance set

As a kid, I wanted to draw. I started writing comic book scripts so I would have something to draw. When other artists started asking me to write stories for them to draw, I knew I was on to something. Once I focused on writing, I was able to get work.

Q: What was the most difficult thing about breaking into the comic book industry?

Finding someone to give me a chance. It’s a catch-22. No one wants to be the first one to hire you. When you have a published book in your hands, it is a little easier to talk to a publisher or editor.

Q: What do you think about indie publishing?

I love indie publishing. I think that is where the biggest chances are being taken in terms of storytelling, content, and exploring genres that mainstream publishing doesn’t necessarily focus on. I believe that indie publishing is where popular trends find their footing. For example, look at all of the new pulp, or pulp-inspired, work being published today. It was indie publishers that got that wave rolling.

Q: How do you make your own work stand out?

With my work, I try to look for a new angle from which to approach the material. There are tropes you have to work within, obviously, but wherever I can, I look for a different way to look at a plot. I write with my own voice. So far it has worked for me.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to create their first comic book or graphic novel?

If your goal is to write, draw, letter, color, edit, publish, etc. for a living, to make it your career, then you have to treat it like a job. That means the occasional sleepless night to meet deadlines. It can also mean having to miss out of social activities or seeing negative reviews on line. Keeping that level of professionalism isn’t easy, but it’s a great skill to learn. Sure, it’s a job we love, but it’s still a job. That means putting your butt in the seat even when you might not feel like writing.

Coming 2014
Q: What fresh hell are you conjuring? New stories, new sales, new whatevers. Share.

Writing. Lots and lots of writing. Three stories to finish this month I can't elaborate on as yet. Just announced is the new Ghost Gal series I'll be writing for Raven's Head Press, which I'm pretty excited about and will start on in October, right after I finish the Honey West/Domino Lady novel for Moonstone. Oh, and I just finished shooting a comedy/horror movie called Fat Chance, which will be out next year. My first acting gig as a main character with lines. WOOT! There's other stuff in the pipeline as well, but those are the biggies. As always, is the place to keep up with my projects.

Coming 2014
And I think that is a good place to finish this round of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… Do you have any questions you’d like me to answer? Post them here as a comment or send them along to and I’ll answer them in a future installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff...

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David Wilde said...

Glad to inspire with questions. Very cool of you to share these experiences for budding writers and con-goers.

BobbyNash said...

It's my pleasure, David. I'm just glad folks are enjoying them. It's actually become the most read thing on the site, which is cool.

Thanks for the questions.
Please, keep 'em coming.