We’re back for a 32nd installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… the holiday edition. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating-- thank you for the continued questions. I love answering them. Please, keep ‘em coming.
You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... here
Q: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself when you first started writing, what advice would you give?
I would tell younger me to make a plan and focus. I feel that my focus gets hazy from time to time and I get off track. Plus, I've had a bit if heartache by working on projects or working with publishers/collaborators that I probably would have been better off not doing. Then again, I learned some valuable lessons from those times so maybe skipping them wouldn't be the best thing. I don't know. I imagine there's a story there, huh?
Q: Have you ever written a Holiday book?
Not really. I have set stories during holidays, but I've not written anything that is specifically geared toward any particular holiday. I did have an idea involving Santa Claus once. Never got beyond thinking about it though.
Q: What are you READING? Is it similar, or completely different from your current work in progress?
I just finished Paul Bishop's Lie Catchers
and I'm now reading The
Crossing by Michael Connelly. Both are crime thrillers and I do write in that genre
Q: How often do you go to the library, and/or a book store?
I don't get to the library as much as I used to, but that's mostly a result of my day job's hours. I do visit bookstores quite regularly.
Q: When did you KNOW you wanted to be an author?
I was in the 6th grade when the urge to write first hit me. Back then it was writing comic book stories (which I still enjoy doing today). In high school I dabbled with writing prose and then later dove in head first.
Q: What are the top five must read New Pulp characters or books?
If we’re talking new creations:
Derrick Ferguson's Dillon
Barry Reese's The Peregrine (formerly The Rook)
Gary Phillips' Hollis, p.i.
Van Allen Plexico's Blackthorn on Mars
Lance Star: Sky Ranger (I may be biased on this one)
If we’re talking about pre-existing characters:
Domino Lady (again, I may be a little biased here)
Secret Agent X
Honorable mention to Sherlock Holmes who is used often in New Pulp.
I'll have stories featuring Lance Star: Sky Ranger, The Avenger, Domino Lady, Secret Agent X, and Sherlock Holmes in 2016.
Q: Do any of your characters cook or bake?
Some of my characters cook from time to time, but I find that a good many of them talk more about their lack of culinary skill. Ha! Ha!
Q: What inspired you to write your first novel?
In all honesty, I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to see if I could tell a story from beginning to end and actually finish it. I did and then I decided to do it again.
Q: Are there messages in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Sometimes I have morals or a point to make that I slide into a story, but it’s usually a result of a character’s actions or something to that nature. I have never started a book because I had a specific message I wanted to get out and used the novel to do it. There are great writers who do that sort of thing beautifully. I am not one of them. I see my job as entertaining so my first priority is to write an entertaining story and hope readers like it. If there is a message/moral to the story, that is in there because it worked in context of the story.
Q: Does this ever happen to you? I have a full week, loaded with errands, houseguests, visits by the furnace inspector and cooking
galore ... and all I want to do is WRITE! The ideas are crazy rampant and I'm sitting at the computer long into the night. I need a nap! How do you cope with weeks like this?
When days/weeks like this happen, and they do, believe me, I work in writing time when I can. Sometimes that means just jotting down notes when real life gets in the way of writing time.
Q: If you had carte blanche to create a superteam for DC and one for Marvel based on their existing stable of characters, who would you want to write or draw for your teams?
Just off the top of my head...
DC-- I would pull together a team of characters that would work well in the Bird's of Prey/Suicide Squad style stories, especially the early ones where Oracle pulled together a group for a mission ala Mission: Impossible. Not sure who I would have behind the scenes in the Oracle role as DC doesn't really have a character in play at present that works in that type of role for me. Would love to dust off King Faraday and have him recruit players on an as needed basis. I'd love to keep Black Canary as the on the ground team lead with a rotating roster featuring characters like Katana, Huntress, and others.
Marvel-- With the Fantastic Four out of play, Reed Richards leads a team of explorers from the Future Foundation on a scavenger hunt around the world in an effort to clean up the various bits of alien, mystical, and down right dangerous tech that is scattered across the globe after years of skirmishes and battles in the skies over Earth. They would seek out anything that seems remotely out of the ordinary to investigate and stop if necessary.
I've often thought teaming up She-Hulk and Spider-Woman as private investigators for hire would be a good series idea. One's a lawyer, the other a p.i. Seems a perfect fit to me.
Q: When do you KNOW it's The End? Are you always sure the story is complete and finished when you type those two little words?
I generally have a good idea of the end of a story when I start. I don't always end up exactly there, but I'm usually close. That helps me know when to wrap it up. Often, publishers set word limit restrictions so that also helps me know when to start wrapping things up.
Q: Do your dreams play a role in your writing?
Sometimes. I have had dreams that have kicked off story ideas. One of Pro Se Productions
in 2016 started out as a dream. There are other times when scenes or sticky plot points work themselves out in my subconscious through dreams and sometimes daydreams.
my upcoming Signature series e-books from
Q: What's your favorite Christmas story?
There’s a lot to be said for the first Christmas story as we follow Mary and Joseph, shepherds, and wise men into Bethlehem to witness a miracle. It’s a powerful tale. Oh, and then there’s Die Hard.
Q: If Santa gave writerly gifts, and you were small enough to sit on his lap, what would you be asking for this year?
Time. Writing time would be one of those things I never seem to have enough of these days. I wouldn't mind a “New York Times Bestselling Author” tag before my name either, if y’know, we’re being greedy.
Q: Were you good at English in high school?
Some would say I’m not so good at it now. Ha! Ha! I did okay in school. I was a solid A/B student as I recall.
Q: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
You saw the “New York Times Bestselling Author” answer above, right? (laughs) I joke about it often, but this is honestly a goal, one of many. I would love to be able to make a living with my writing. Sadly, I’m not there yet so there’s still work to do to make that happen.
Q: Some writers describe themselves as planners, while others plunge right in to the writing. Would you consider yourself a planner or a plunger? Do you work from any kind of a plan?
I’ve never heard it called “planner or plunger?” before. I’ve always heard “pantser or plotter?” Either way, I fall somewhere in the middle.
I’ve gotten variations on this question often and it’s probably the most often repeated question in this column. I have a plan/plot when I start. It’s usually pretty loose, but I know the high points I have to hit to get the story where I need/want it to go. I also leave myself a good deal of wigggle room for the characters to take us in interesting directions. So, while there is a plan, like combat, the plan does not always survive contact with the enemy, in this case the characters. If the characters don’t like the plan, it will either have to change or will feel forced because it will be.
Q: What is your favorite technique for getting yourself out of a
Okay, in all seriousness, I don't really have a specific technique for getting out of jams like this. Getting bogged down in details is a good way for me to run into that particular corner. Usually, I just decide it’s time to move on and so I do, which helps me bypass those particular traps. Other times, the characters will provide me an out, which is almost always to the betterment of the story I’m trying to tell.
An example: In my novel, DEADLY GAMES!
, there is a section where our protagonists are being hunted and chased through the woods. I had intended for them to stay in the woods a certain amount of time, but it started to feel repetitive in the writing so I just decided that they were near the edge of the woods and escaped out onto the road where other problems were waiting for them. Making that decision to get the story moving earlier than planned actually made it more interesting in the long run.
Q: Show, don't tell. What does it mean to you?
As a writer, we should see the action happening instead of telling the reader it happened. I can tell you that Detective John Bartlett in DEADLY GAMES!
is a man of action, a badass if you will. Or, I can show you the character in action so you can see through his actions that he is indeed something of a badass.
Q: What are your top 3 TV shows of the year?
Person of Interest, Supergirl, The Flash. That's the first 3 that popped into my head. Rounding out the top 5, not that you asked, would be Justified (which ended this year) and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Q: What do you do to get book reviews?
I ask. It’s really as simple as that. I ask readers, to leave comments and reviews at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. What I don’t do is pay for reviews. It’s just a bad idea.
Q: Of all the characters you've created, which one taught you the most about yourself?
I don't know if I have a specific one character that has done that, but I have, shall we say, had some characters work through certain issues that were lifted from my life. Sometimes having my characters deal with these issues is a pretty cathartic thing. Plus, it's cheaper than therapy. Plus, let’s just say that I’ve taken out my frustrations on some real life irritating people against their proxy in a book. Done that a couple times.
Q: What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
This is a great question and one of those things where I have dropped the ball. Several stories I’ve done are certainly intended as the start of a series, but I’ve gotten off schedule in getting the series flying. EVIL WAYS
and the upcoming EVIL INTENT
(coming 2016) are the beginning of a series featuring FBI Special Agent Harold Palmer. ALEXANDRA HOLZER’S GHOST GAL
is also a series. Book 1: The Wild Hunt
is out now and book 2: A Haunting We Will Go… will be available in 2016. SNOW FALLS
and SNOW STORM (also coming 2016) are the tart of multiple adventures featuring Abraham Snow. Detective John Bartlett and reporter Benjamin West from DEADLY GAMES!
are set to return in DEADLY FREELANCER
(out now) and CRIMSON MOON (coming 2016) will run multiple volumes. Also, THE RUBY FILES
Vol. 2 will be out in 2016 (that’s looking to a busy year, isn’t it?)
DEALS! (aiming for late 2016, early 2017). A couple of entries in my Pro Se Press Signature Series ebooks will continue on should sales warrant them;
There are two series that have continued. DOMINO LADY
has had multiple stories by me and there are new comic and prose stories coming with the character in 2016. LANCE STAR: SKY RANGER
has 4 volumes in print, plus a few comic stories. In 2016, the Lance Star: Sky Ranger novel, “Cold Snap” will premiere to coincide with the character’s 10th anniversary in print. There will aso be a collection of my tales and a collection of the comics coming in 2016 as well. (Man, when will I sleep in 2016?)
So, yeah, series are great. I’m making great strides toward getting those back on track in the new year.
Q: Not really a question, but I got this little quiz a while back, but have just now gotten around to filling it out. Seemed like a perfect addition to Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff…
26 THINGS ABOUT ME.
A- Age: 44
B- Biggest fear: a toss up between snakes and heights
C- Current time: 9:30 am on Christmas Eve
D- Drink you last had: Mt. Dew
E- Every day starts with: a damned alarm clock (sounds like a rooster crowing)
F- Favorite song: See me, Feel me… by The Who (ask me tomorrow, you might get a different answer)
G- Ghosts, are they real: In real life: maybe. In fiction: you betcha.
H- Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
I- In love with: the sound of my own voice, according to some.
J- Jealous of: no one I can think of off the top of my head.
K- Killed someone?: Only in fiction, I swear!
L- Last time you cried?: The day my mother told me she had Cancer.
M- Middle name: Edward
N- Number of siblings: 1
O- One wish: To have “New York Times Bestselling Author” in front of my name. Greedy, I know.
P- Person you last called: My brother
Q- Question you're always asked: You wrote these?
R- Reason to smile: friends and family.
S- Song last sang: Tom Petty’s “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” in the car on the way to work this morning.
T- Time you woke up: 4:30 a.m. (damn sinuses)
U- Underwear color: white
V- Vacation destination: the beach (I am long overdue)
W- Worst habit: Not saying “no” to things when I should.
X- X-Rays you've had: a few (not sure of an exact number)
Y- Your favorite food: pizza
Z- Zodiac sign: Leo
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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Thanks for listening to me ramble. Let’s do it again soon.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!