Friday, August 18, 2017


And we're back for the 43rd installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… I am honored to get questions sent to me as well as share answers to questions from writers groups. Please, keep 'em coming.

You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... here.

Q: What is your style of writing? fiction, non-fiction , or something else!!!

I write fiction across multiple genres.

Q: tell me about one of your biggest professional disappointments to-date, but also what, if anything, positive that you got get from it.

I've had my share of "this close" stories. I was "this close" to
working on... The last year or so has seen a good deal of disappointments in regard to projects being cancelled or publishers vanishing/going under/not paying/etc. Even though the Edgar Rice Burroughs' At The Earth's Core graphic novel continues to sell well, the Pellucidar graphic novel adaptations were cancelled while we were working on book 2, Ghost Gal went on indefinite hiatus and off sale when our publisher passed away, Pro Se cancelled their Signature Series line, which I am part of with two titles: Freelancer (originally a recurring series of one shots) and Crimson Moon (which was originally intended to be a trilogy), Domino Lady: Threesome was cancelled, the Snow books were stalled at the publisher, anthologies sitting ready, but unpublished for years, a decade in some cases, etc, etc, etc. Each one of those stung, but I know it's part of the business.

The positive takeaway has me focusing on more novel work and original projects. After a struggle, I regained the rights to Snow and am releasing those 
myself through BEN Books. So far that has been a positive, although they could be selling better. The cancellations did open up my schedule, though not in a way I wanted it to happen. Will Ghost Gal come back for a second novel? Hard to say. I hope so. I love the characters.The characters from the Pro Se line are mine so I may try them on my own down the road. The Pellucidar license has gone to another publisher so that project is dead. I am honored to have been part of ERB's legacy, even if for a short time and working with Jamie Chase was a dream collaboration. Domino Lady: Threesome is being repackaged as a trade by Moonstone instead of releasing the issues individually so that is a positive. At least they will be released.

And I keep writing.

Click Read More... to see more.
Q: How do you write a character who is a genius, when you yourself are not? I'm afraid I would write the equivalent of a dumb person's idea of a genius.

Yikes. That is a tough one. I would read and listen to books by actual geniuses and see how they talk and approach things. Maybe read some genius characters in comics like Reed Richards, etc. to see how they work. Then I'd toss all that in a blender and make something up and hope it sounded plausible.

Q: Which part of the book is usually the hardest for you to write?

I tend to get bogged down in the middle. That's usually where I slow down.

Q: What is a word you know you tend to overuse?


Q: When was the last time you were bored writing? Why do you think that was?
I don't recall ever being bored with writing. There are some days where I just don't feel like writing though.

Q: Is there any part of your work-in-progress you're worried will be confusing for readers?

Not really. I like to think my readers are pretty savvy and I try to make sure everything makes sense. Hopefully, if I do my job right, it will.
Q: How often do you stop while writing ... to eat meals ... to rethink a scene ... to research ... to check email or check Facebook ... to rest your eyes? How many times do you stop the word machine on an average writing day?

I don't have a specific number of times. I usually eat before I start or have lunch with me while writing. Bathroom breaks happen as needed. Facebook/social media/email happens on occasion because it's just too easy to switch over and check it. Rethinking, research, etc. happens as needed. Of course, once you're on the internet, you want to check Facebook. It's a vicious cycle.

Q: What are you writing today?

Oddly enough, on the day I received this question, most of my writing had been on press releases, media posts, website updates, things like that. All necessary, but also kept me away from adding words to the current novel in process. On the day I'm posting this column, I'm working on pitches for a publisher and I hope to add a chapter to the novel later.

Q: What was the first novel or fan fiction you ever written?

My first novel was the early draft of what was later reworked and rewritten and became my 3rd released novel, EarthstrikeAgenda. It more than doubled in size on the rewrite and I added a lot, but the core story remained the same from original draft to finished draft.

Q: Ok I have a finished book. How do I submit it to a publisher? Do I send it in email, snail mail? Do I send it with out the illustrator, or do I include her work?

First off, congratulations. All publishers have different submission requirements. Go to the publisher's website and see what their guidelines are and follow them. If they say no email manuscripts, then don't email them your MS. This is your first test to show you can follow directions. Good luck.

Q: Am I the only one who hates seeing their main characters go through any type of pain? Physical, emotional, mental ect... I know they're not "REAL" but they're still apart of me. Does anyone have a problem with this as well? And if so, how do you keep writing?

I love my characters, but I also put them through hell. That usually makes them stronger.

Q: Favorite Michael Crichton book? Other than Jurassic Park, of course!


Q: Who is your favorite television dad? Mine is Andy Taylor.

It's a tossup between Mile's O'Brien and Al Bundy. For different reasons, of course.

Q: Chrome vs FireFox. Which one do YOU like better?


Q: What is the funniest accusation you have ever heard about yourself?

I've been accused more than once of being intimidating. Who knew?

Q: Best Halloween TV episodes ever (not including the Simpsons or Roseanne) ... GO!

Some favorites of mine: Quantum Leap "Boogeyman", Married… with Children “Take my wife, please”, Buffy The Vampire Slayer “Halloween”, Castle “Vampire Weekend”, MacGyver “Halloween Knights”, and How I Met Your Mother, “Slutty Pumpkin” are the first to come to mind.

Q: What scripted TV moment or scene emotionally affected you the most?

Hard to break it down to just one. Here's the first few that popped into my head.
Receiving news of Henry Blake's death on M*A*S*H. (The finale has several as well with the final farewells).
Young Thomas Magnum saluting at his father's funeral in "Home From The Sea" (Magnum treading water episode).
Captain Picard’s “Let’s make sure history never forgets the name… Enterprise” moment.
The 9th Doctor's "Just this once... Everybody lives!" moment.
The get together after Charlie Skinner's funeral on The Newsroom. There are some moments in there. 
Oh, and how could I forget the end of TNG's Best of Both Worlds part 1. "Mr. Worf... Fire." My heart was in my throat until the next season started.

There are more. I'm a sucker for a good inspirational speech.

Q: Rock and Roll ______________ ?

Never forgets.

Q: You finish your latest novel, but you're WAY over the word count. WAY OVER. How do you get it back to the side your editor wants? What are your techniques for serious trimming on your work?

The first thing I look for are any side trips or character moments that, while can be great, don't necessarily advance the plot. After that, it's looking for extraneous words, adverbs, and tags that can be cut.

Q: Outside of New Pulp publications, what current books, comics, movies, TV shows, etc. do you think exemplify the spirit of pulp?

Gotham, Arrow (especially season 1), and Person of Interest are the first to come to mind. Several comic books have a pulp flavor. Atomic Blonde is pure pulp.

Q: If you had to choose the best horror film of all time what would you choose and why would you choose it?

JAWS because it scared the hell out of me.

Q: who was the President when you were born?

Richard Nixon

Q: On average, what time you usually go to bed and get back up?

I generally go to bed around 2 or 3 a.m. and get up around 10 or 10:30 a.m. I'm definitely a night owl. It’s going on 1 a.m. as I type this.

Q: Has a comic book or graphic novel ever helped you navigate a personal loss, trauma, or setback? Which one? How? Sound off below.

Not by the content, per se, but being able to lose myself in the story, even if only in short bursts, helped calm everything down in my heart and my head so the healing process could begin. 

At least until someone started yelling at me for reading a comic when they didn't think I should be. That part mostly happened when I was younger.

Q: Which version of The Joker is your favorite?

This seems like a great opportunity to share this, which is one of my favorite things ever. 

Q: Who is your favorite Spider-Man villain? He has a lot to choose from.

I liked the Fly as his enemy, although he's not seen so much these days. Later, I was enamored of the mystery of the Hobgoblin and his secret identity.

Q: I'm sure I've asked this before: What movie(s) made you leave the theater - or at least think about it - you hated it so much?

I've only walked out on one movie and that was Cloverfield. I walked across the hall and threw up. I decided I did not need to go back and watch the rest.

Q: What SF/F movie has the most shocking/surprising death of a major character?

Wash in Serenity was a big shock. Captain Dallas in Alien got me as well. Coulson in The Avengers, although, in true comic book fashion, that one didn’t stick.

Q: What situation, book/author, or person turned you into a writer?

I don't recall if there was any one book or one writer that made me think "I shall become a writer." It was more a case of many different things and influences that started me on the road to wanting to create stories and that then moved me toward writing and art. Once I had the creating bug, I was hooked.

Q: Is technology a great asset or hindrance to your writing? Do you use software and/or online writing tools? Are you a down and dirty straight up writer without the help of more than a decent 
keyboard and word doc program?

Technology is a wonderful thing... when it works. I write on a laptop (I have two of them). I write in MS WORD, which isn't fancy, but it gets the job done. I have notes in my head and jotted down, but when it's writing time, I simply sit down and start. Getting the story down is my first goal. I can tweak and rewrite, add and subtract on the next pass.

Q: For those of you with laptop computers, do you find it better or less productive to take it someplace other than your usually working place to write? Do different environments distract or inspire you?

Absolutely. I love taking my laptop outside or to the library or a restaurant, or sometimes just to another room in the house. I find the change of scenery a definite plus.

Q: How much writing do you plan to accomplish before the summer is over? Are you on track?

Ideally, I would like to get about 130,000 words written by the end of September. It probably won't happen, but I'll get a good way there. I seem to stay in a perpetual state of being behind. I'm not really, but I'm also not ahead, which is where I would like to be. I still write deadline to deadline. It would be nice to have a book done early so I was a project or two ahead, but I doubt I'll ever truly be that focused and planned out.

Q: Are you joining the summer NANO? I'm thinking of doing it. maybe I can get back on track.

I don't have any plans to do NANO. It's not that I don't appreciate what NANO offers people or the help it provides, but I already do something similar to NANO all year long, not just during specific times.

Q: When did you start writing? Like, how old were you. And how old are you now?

I was 11 or 12 when I wrote my first story, I think. That was a long time ago. I started getting semi-serious about writing around 13 or 14. I sold my first story in 1992 at age 21. My first professional comic book project was in 2000 when I was 29. My first novel came out in 2005 when I was 34. I turned 46 this week (August 14th).

Q: Is writing your hobby or paying your bills?

Depends on who you ask. The IRS and I sometimes disagree on what constitutes a job. In all seriousness, right now, writing is paying the bills. It's tight, but there is money coming in for my writing. Could it be better? Oh, sure. I could always use more sales.

Q: What time of day is more productive for you to write?

I write best in the mid-morning/afternoon and later at night. I used to stay up all night and write then go to sleep when the sun came up, but I can't do that anymore because of things I have to do during the day.

Q: What is the best was to get a publisher, editors. does have any helpful hints on how to get everything started. I have so many ideas just don't know where to start at?

Q: In regards to publishers, are they easy to find/contact? Secondly, is it best to write a small outline of a book first, or just write your story and submit a draft, or will the publisher decide that?

I'll answer both of those together. Most publishers post their needs on their websites along with their requirements and what they are and are not looking for in terms of work. I can't think of any publishers that are looking for ideas, though. Publishers want manuscripts so you'll have to write something then submit it. Unless you're already established and a known commodity like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, you might be able to pitch an idea. Otherwise, you have to pitch a finished novel or possibly a synopsis and sample chapters.

Reading the publisher's submission guidelines is a good place to start.

Q: If you *had* to cut one scene from your story right now, what would it be and why?

I'm still pretty early in on my current project (a few chapters in) so I don't have anything to cut yet. Usually, when cuts happen, it's character bits that don't really move the story along. If I have to lose something , that's usually where I start. I can always reuse that character bit later, especially if working on a series where I will write the character again.

Q: What was your character's last expressed thought?

“Now, what shall we do with you?”

Q: What was the last line of dialogue you wrote?

“Now, what shall we do with you?”

Q: What is the setting for your current scene?

I'm working on the Nightveil novel based on the AC Comics character for Pro Se Productions. The current scene I'm writing takes place at the beach.

Q: Do you think self-publishing seem to be less official in the eyes of the readers?

I don't think readers care. They want a good story and experience. If we give them that, I think they will enjoy it no matter how it is published.

Q: Have you put yourself into any of your characters?

There's a little piece of me in all of my characters, but there have been two instances where characters were basically me, or at least an idealized version of me (less fat, in better shape, better looking, that sort of thing). In EVIL WAYS, I gave the two brothers who are my protagonists the same personalities of my brother and myself so Harold Palmer "acts" and "sounds" like me. 

The 2nd is a comic book character named Jack Hughes. Jack is the partner of a character called Night Glider. Jack's origin came about when I decided that if Night Glider were made into a TV show, they would give him a partner so I decided to beat them to the punch and created a partner for him, one based on me. Jack was a former cop turned private detective. Together, Samuel Knight (Night Glider) and Jack Hughes worked for the Malice and Mace Detective Agency (Did I mention I was a kid when I created these? I thought it was clever at age 14) Nothing much happened with these characters outside of a strip in the local newspaper magazine, but I still think of Jack Hughes every now and again. Like any good character, I suspect he'll show up again.

Q: What overall tone are you striving for in your story?

In my current WIP, I'm striving for a fun, exciting adventure. Fun is the main tone I'm after.

Q: What about your story's climax are you most excited about writing?

I love the final conflict and seeing the bad guy get his or her comeuppance.

Q: How do you manage tension in your story? Do you let it escalate then pull back, or go for the slow burn then let fly? Are you calculated about how often tension pushes the story? Or is it all a roller coaster ride from beginning to end?

I write a lot of thrillers so tension is very important. My books tend to move quickly so I'm probably the roller coaster ride, but there is also calculated moments of tension for the characters, the story, and sometimes for the reader. There are tricks I can use to speed up and slow down the reader or the story. Those come in handy.

Q: Do you write every day, seven days a week? Or do you take weekends off to regenerate?

I try to write every day, or at least do some writing related work every day. I plan days off when I make plans or if I am sick or if The Defenders premieres on Netflix like it does this weekend. I recently lost a week and a half between battling a sinus infection and transporting my parents back and forth to doctor visits and errands. Sometimes real life takes priority over writing.

Q: Replace one word in movie title with barbecue

Smokey and the Barbecue
Barbecue and the Bandit

Q: Chapter's title! Do you use them in your story? I find that giving a title to the chapters is a very powerful instrument to catch a reader! 

I don't use chapter titles often. The pulp anthologies I've worked on, especially earlier in my career, had chapter titles because the original pulps did that. Once I realized I didn't need to title the chapters, I stopped.

Q: As far as the writing is concerned, what's been hard for you.

Making a living as a writer.

Q: What's the biggest hoax you have fallen for?

That being a published author meant making great money. I blame movies and TV. All authors in movies or on TV are rich.

Q: Why don't the GOP help the common man, instead of making themselves RICHER!?

There are some questions to which even I don't know the answer.

Q: I am a new author, do u think it's best to sell book on amazon or in person

Why not both? Don't limit yourself to just one avenue for your books. Sell through Amazon because that has world-wide reach, but also sell through your website, through signing events, conferences, anywhere you can sell books, try it. They may not all work, but some may surprise you. The one thing to remember, no matter what methods you use to sell your books, as the author, you will have to promote your work. That's how people will find your work. Amazon has a great reach, but your book is just one of millions and it is easy to get lost in the sea of titles on Amazon. It is up to you, as the author, to get the word out about your book so potential readers/purchasers can find it. 

Q: Have you done a little 'free-book/chapters' promo that influenced your book sales later? If you had, was it through your author website, your publishers site or via Amazon?

Most of my titles on Amazon have the option to read a sample chapter. Some publishers do that, others don't. Personally, I like the previews. I also share sneak peeks through social media, my website, and Patreon (patrons get a bigger peek). Does it help? Maybe. I don't have hard data one way or the other, but I do know that people notice because I get asked questions about the work in progress because I talked about it on social media.

Q: How will your protagonist's job affect the plot?

A protagonist's job can be a big factor in how he or she enters a story or how the character approaches certain situations. In Evil Ways and the upcoming Evil Intent, FBI Agent Palmer gets pulled into the story as a result of something that happens connected with his job. Without his work, he might not have been where he was when the story started. Same with the characters of John Bartlett and Benjamin West in Deadly Games! Their jobs were integral to the plot. In Snow Falls, we see Abraham Snow working undercover when his true identity is discovered and he is shot and left for dead. That moment is the defining moment that kicks off the series. While it is not important to each book's A plot, it is very important to the over-arching story line as he can't let the person or persons responsible get away with it.

Q: What does your protagonist want more than anything and how is that influencing the main plot goal?

Abraham Snow wants to catch the person who shot him and left him for dead. That act ended Snow's career. His obsession with closing this last case has kept him from getting on with his life. He can't let it go.

Q: Do you know what will be the last thing readers "see" at the end of your story?

Most of the time, I have a good idea of the ending when I start. That said, the ending can sometimes change based on what the characters do in the course of the story. I have changed an ending or twelve because the characters decided to do things differently than I had originally planned.

Q: I don't believe in writer's block, but I do believe in fear that can paralyze the fingers. What are your tricks to get over the blank page and get the ball rolling on those rare occasions when you're uncertain or concerned about the project at hand?

I don't either. Whenever I don't know what to do next or the blank screen is mocking me, I simply start writing. It doesn't matter what it's about. I just pick a character and start following him or her on their way. It may not be anything to do with the project at hand, but it usually frees up the clutter and gets my writing motor running so I can get back to the project I am

supposed to be working on.

Q: Are you a thesaurus junkie? Do you sweat over every word choice, then change it again anyway?

Not really. I have a thesaurus on the shelf next to my desk and I've used it a time or two, but I don't sweat over every word, especially not in the first draft. That's when my goal is to simply get the story down.

Q: How much do you read? Some authors read a book a month while writing, others don't read at all (aside from research) while writing. Where does your reading habit fall?

I try to read a little something every day.

Q: Fanfiction: liberating exercise or waste of time?

Do you enjoy writing fan fiction? Then it is not a waste of time. You can learn your craft writing fan fiction. As long as you understand that you can't sell it or make any kind of profit off of it, but do it for practice, sure, fan fic is fine and dandy. No writing is a waste of time if it makes you a better writer.

Q: You have a great idea for a story but the subject matter is something of which you know very little. How do you overcome the doubts of making the story and characters plausible, especially when you feel other writers having the direct experience you lack stand a greater chance to write the story successfully and with

unquestionable credibility?

Research. Start with on-line research. Then, with that as your base, reach out to those who have experience and see if they are interested in talking to you.

Q: Have you ever considered adapting your story into a comic/webcomic/graphic novel?

I've done that the other way, mostly. Adapted a comic into prose. I wrote a comic book called Fantastix. The publisher then asked for it to be adapted into novel form, which I did. I have turned some comic scripts into short stories.

Q: Do you think the moon landing was faked?


Q: As writers, sometimes it's a combination of weather, health or family issues, and our surroundings that drives us ahead or stalls us a bit. Aside from completely closing yourself off from the real
world, how do you control your environment and influences enough to stay on track with a story?

Not as well as I'd like. Currently, I am caring for two ailing parents and a brother. While none of them are completely dependent on me, there are a lot of interruptions during my day for various things plus cooking, cleaning, running to the store, etc. I have to schedule my writing time around those things. I'd like to say I have it under control, but that would be a lie. My productivity has declined noticeably. I just have to figure out how to work around the chaotic schedule.

Q: What prose novels have you reread several times?

Snowbound Six by Richard Martin Stern, Airframe by Michael Crichton, Vendetta (a Star Trek novel) by Peter David, Body Bags by Christopher Golden, and I'm sure there are others I'm blanking on at the moment. These are the first that came to mind.

Q: I'm curious - how big is your book collection? Include your e-books as well. 

Counting comics, easily around 2000. Without comics, 600 or 700, I'd guess.

Q: Would you promote another writer's work to your network?

I do it all the time.

Q: If your life was described by one song what would it be?

Dream on.

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

Also, please sign up for my mailing list. Drop me an email at and I'll happily add you to the list.

If you’d like to check out my work, you can find my books at AmazonBarnes and NobleGoodreadsSmashwordsBooks-A-Million, BEN BooksPatreon, and more.

Thanks for listening to me ramble. Let’s do it again soon.

Happy reading!


No comments: