You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... here.
I recently finished Breaking Creed by Alex Kava and Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop. Both highly recommended. Up next is The Crossing by Michael Connelly.
Q: Do you get caught up in research? Before beginning the book? While writing the book? Or after the book is finished in preparation for a edit?
Sometimes. There's usually a bit of research before I start, but I'm always running across ideas or events in the writing that leads to more research. I enjoy research. It can be fun.
I guess the easiest criteria for defining professional writer is did I get paid? If the answer is yes, congratulations, you’re a professional writer. However, I’ve mentioned many times, both in this column and in interviews, that the measure of success is different for everyone. Did your book or story get published? That counts too, regardless of money. Did someone read your story? That could count as well.
Q. How does a writer make the step from amateur to pro?
Q: How many books have you written? How many published?
Good question. I really don't have a solid answer (and I'm not home to count at the moment). The last time I counted (for a similar question in an interview) I was approaching 100 stories written for publication (some held up with the publishers, but written). The published number is definitely in the double digits (that's counting novels, anthologies, magazines, comic books, and ebooks).
This happens more often than most readers might imagine. At least for me. More often than not, I take the detour because it usually happens organically and so feels more real to the characters and situations. I've had some of the best parts of a story come about because the character wanted to go left instead of right like I wanted him or her to go. Following the character(s) has led me to some interesting places. The best example of this is in the Nightbeat: Night Stories ebook/audio book anthology from Radio Archives. I didn't realize the actual identity of the villain until the hero of the story did. I had originally planned it to be someone else, but the characters kept getting int he way, which led to a more interesting story, I think.
Q: Authors often cross talents with television writers. ... Have you ever thought about writing a television series? What kind of series would it be?
I would love to write for TV. I think it would be a lot of fun. The closest I've come so far is writing an episode of two fan series: Starship Farragut's "Conspiracy of Innocence" and I kibitzed on the script for Star Trek Continues "Pilgrim of Eternity." It was exciting to watch the episodes once they were done.
Watch Starship Farragut: Conspiracy of Innocence here.
Watch Star Trek Continues: Pilgrim of Eternity here.
Sadly, there's no easy answer for that. It depends on many factors like what type of horror, length of book, age of your target audience, that sort of thing. All publishers look for various different types of stories. Best bet is to google horror novel publishers and check their submission guidelines to see which publisher is looking for the type of story you're telling. Best of luck with your novel.
Q: How do you feel about reviews and sales success? Do you pitch reviewer blogs? Do you pay for reviews?
Q: What is your favorite Holiday-themed Horror movie?
Q: Do you think The Fantastic Four is a concept relatable to today's audience?
Yes. Absolutely. The Fantastic Four are explorers, adventurers. The FF is more of a science fiction and fantasy story than it is a super hero story. Not to say they can’t be both.
Q: What is one of your most prized comic book possessions?
Q: How much does it generally cost to rent a booth at the Cons? (Average price/ballpark figure.)
Q: What ONE published work of yours has yet to find an audience? Meaning, what's that one book that you poured everything into and you think came out great, but just hasn't sold or stirred up interest among readers?
My Earthstrike Agenda novel never quite clicked with audiences. Maybe it’s because I don't do a lot of outer space sci fi. Not sure why it never found an audience. I like the story. I also love how the cover turned out.
Thanks, man, but I barely have the time to write, much less draw. I grew up studying the art of guys like George Perez, John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, Paul Smith, Marshal Rogers, and the like.
I love drawing and do the occasional convention sketch when I can.
Q: What ONE project do you consider your finest work to date?
Alexandra Holzer's Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt novel I wrote for Raven's Head Press.
Ask me next week and I might have a different answer.
Q: Of all the books you've written, which one are you MOST proud of, and why?
This is another one of those questions, like the one above, that might have a different answer on different days of the week. My go to answer here is usually Evil Ways because it was my first published novel and even though that was not the best publishing experience of my life, it did result in a published novel in my hand and that really helped me get other writing work that led me here. So, yeah, Evil Ways gets the nod here. At least today.
I wish I could just plow in, but I don’t. I check email, social media, and the like before I get started. Once I get started, I generally write for a decent stretch unless there is an interruption.
Q: Are you a word counter? Do you check periodically to see how many words you've written? Do you think about novella length vs novel length, vs historical or high fantasy genre standard word counts? Do you think about word counts while writing, or do you think about it after the story is down on paper?
Q: Are you a reader of your own work? Do you go back and read something you wrote just for the pure fun of it?
Not often, no. Mostly out of time constraints, but also because I’ve read each story numerous times before it goes to print. Comic books that I've written are sometimes the exception.
I do research often. Google is usually a good starting place, but whenever I can find a person with first hand knowledge that I can talk to, that's the best. I do a good amount of pulp stories for various anthologies and most of those are set in the past so i fins myself researching various things to fit those time periods. Tghings like, when were binoculars invented? When was the first seaplane tested? How much did a cab ride cost in 1950? Things like that.
Q: DO you have a pre-writing ritual? A prayer? Meditation? A cup of strong coffee? Maybe ... chocolate?
Not really. Maybe I should start one.
Q: Do you write in your sleep? I'm not talking about dreaming, I'm talking about actually developing sentences and perfecting the turn of a phrase. Do you find yourself doing this ... and do you manage to remember and use those great sentences when you wake?
I do, actually. Usually, it's in those moments as I'm just starting to drift off to sleep. Sometimes I even remember it, but it never seems to be as good as it was in my head. One day I would love to perfect the art of sleep writing.
When I was writing full time, I would spend the afternoon doing media and other odds 'n ends then write at night into the wee hours of the mornings. Now that I've got a day job again, I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I much prefer the way it was before, but I need more money than writing was bringing in.
Can't think of a single reason. I've marketed everything I've worked on, whether it was royalty pay or a flat fee. I still promote books I worked on where I'll never see another penny because I'm proud of the work I've done on them.
Q: What do you eat at your desk for energy ... and how do you keep your keyboard clean?
I rarely eat at the desk. I find myself not actually eating and I hate to waste food. What's this clean keyboard you speak of? HA!
Sure. Sometimes that happens. I won't say who though. That's our little in-joke.
Q: How deeply do you plan your characters? Before you write, do they already have a full background? Do you know their upbringing? Their preferences in food or cars? Do you already know how they'll react to the situations your story will present?
Q: Can you post the first sentence of your current work in progress?
Richard Henry Benson was a private man in a very public profession.
Q: Coffee or Tea? And do your characters have the same refreshment preferences you have? For that matter, do you characters have the same preferences as you in other things, too?
Q: What is your favorite comic book based movie?
Q: What is your favorite superhero horror movie?
Blade. Or Blade II.
|Thanksgiving at the Earth's Core|
I recently “met” a character while driving home from the day job. The opening few chapters of a novel just fell into place for me and set up this new character, his family, his job, and his reason for being where he is when the story starts. I love it when that happens, but I have no idea where it comes from.
I do, on occasion, create characters that are a mash-up of two or more people I know. These are usually secondary characters.
If there’s one constant I’ve found with being a writer, it’s that the ideas never stop coming. I have more notes, ideas, and plots jotted down than I can ever actually write. Sometimes, two ideas fit together and become a better story for it. I’ll keep taking all the ideas I can get and store them away until I need them.
Q: Since it’s Thanksgiving, what writerly thing are you thankful for this year?
Q: As November comes to a close and we are all looking at the end of 2015, will you reach your writerly goals for the year?
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll happily add you to the list.
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Thanks for listening to me ramble. Let’s do it again soon.
For those in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving.
Stay safe and have fun.