Friday, November 30, 2018


And we're back for the 46th installment of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff… WOW. 47 of these things. Who woulda thunk it? You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... hereIt's been quite a while since the last time I did one of these so let's dive right in, shall we?

Q: "To be a writer you must write everyday." Agree? Disagree? Just Don't Care?

It would be great to write every day. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Like any job, you need a day off every once in a while. I try to write every day, but sometimes I am not able to do that. This past week, for example, I wrote very little. This week, I'm writing more.

Q: How was your holiday weekend? Did you stuff yourself with turkey? ;) Did you get some writing done?

The Thanksgiving holiday was okay. I usually use it as a chance to catch up on movies I haven't seen. A little writing was accomplished, though not nearly enough. Family matters kept me occupied.

Q: If you had the choice for your novel to be a commercial success or a literary success which would you prefer?

Commercial. I still have bills to pay and a hankering to eat every now and again.

Click for more.

Q: Do you feel/think you're utilizing social media to the fullest in furthering and enhancing your career? If not, then why not? If so, then how's that working out for you?

Great question. I think social media has the potential to reach a large audience. I think the social media platforms themselves are the biggest obstacle to social media reaching that audience with their weird algorithms determining who sees what content and when as well as trying to get their users to pony up extra cash for their “friends” to see their posts. I do sometimes see a marked uptick in sales when I post about a book sale or, especially with my Bobby’s Big BoxO’ Books promotion so something is working. I think it could be better though.

Q: Who is one of your favorite literature characters and why do you love them?

Captain America. No matter the situation, Steve Rogers stands up for what's right and looks out for the little guy. He never gives up and never gives in, even when the entire world tells him he should. Captain America is the living personification of The American Dream, not The American Reality. I think we could all aspire to that.

Q: Who is your favorite super hero and why?

When I was a kid, it was Spider-man all the way. As I get older, it's a toss up between Captain America and Thor. As for why, see my answer to the previous question. Like Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor put their all on the line to do what is right, even when it means risking everything they hold dear.

Q: How do you feel about minor religious content in literary arts, such as C.S. Lewis' works 'The Narnia Series'?

In all honesty, I've never really given it a second thought. Or a first one, for that matter. I read the book when I was a kid and enjoyed the adventure. That was all that mattered to me.

Q:  What stops you dead in your tracks when writing? Loud noises? A ringing phone? Barking dogs or crying cats? What gets your head right out of the story?

Interruptions. Most things, music, dogs, cars, etc. fades into the background, but a ringing phone, a knock at the door, someone just walking into the office and starts talking (a possibility when you don't live alone), things like that.

Q:  How do you stay focused when other, really exciting things are playing at the corners of your thoughts?

You have to learn how to tune them out and keep working, which is far easier said than done, I know.

Q:  Do you write short stories? Create short story collections to sell? Or submit short stories to compilations of many different authors? What would you say are the pros and cons of these ways of writing and publishing?

Yes, though not as much as I used to do them. Early in my career, short stories were a great way to break in at a publisher and to play in different genres while I was building my brand. It also helped me build my resume. That's the upside. The downside is that there is very little money to be made in anthologies because any profit is split between many hands. I am currently working through my back list and releasing some shorter pieces like the recent Shadowson the Horizon book I released.

Q:  What have you experienced lately that might be just too weird for words?

Every time I drive up 85 North into North Carolina, I get a big laugh out of the giant peach shaped water tower. This has become widely known as the "peach butt" for various reasons.

Q:  How do you pull inspiration from places or events that just plain don't inspire you?

I often wonder how my character would fare if he or she ended up there. Other times, it inspires an idea. Driving through Arkansas right after the floods a few years back provided the backdrop fr my story for the Zombies Vs. Robots anthology. I was hired a few days before the trip and had no idea what to write. Seeing the flooded out area and tiny towns that were little more than an intersection with 4 buildings gave me an ideal starting point for my story because they were so unappealing.

Q: If you were to interpret your own book, which one would it be and what would you have to say about it?

Evil Ways is probably the most "me" of any of the books I've written. When I was writing this novel, I was just getting started and did not know what I was doing. I did a lot of things in that novel that I was later told were no-no's. One friend told me that he could hear my voice reading the book to him as he read it. I'll take that compliment.

Q: How does your protagonist change from the beginning to the end of the story?

In Snow Falls, Abraham Snow goes from being a guy who would rather be any place else, but starts to feel like he’s truly home by the end of the story.

Q:  Can you phrase your story's premise as question? (E.g., Will the heroine survive the Hunger Games?)?

Can former agent Abraham Snow return to civilian life or will his final unsolved case haunt him? Find out in Snow Falls.

Q: Your thoughts on anthologies. Do they help authors reach a wider audience? Do they sell?

As a writer, I like anthologies for being able to play in genres I don't typically write or to allow secondary characters from my novels to have some time in the spotlight. As a young writer, I used anthologies to help build my resume. They are also good ways to get several writers involved in a charity by donating a short story to a book where all sales go to the charity.

As a reader, anthologies are a nice way to read new writers or writers I'm unfamiliar with. Themed anthologies allow me to read (and write) stories in certain settings or certain genres like a Bigfoot anthology or a steampunk horror anthology. That can also be fun.

As far as sales go, in my experience, anthologies are not a sustainable business model to make money on. If there are 10 writers in a book, each dollar of profit is split between the 10 writers plus the editor, publisher, designer, production team, cover artist, etc.

Q:  In your opinion, what is the most important HABIT a writer should have?

Writing. I try to keep myself in the habit of writing often.

Q: What do you write inside your book when someone asks you to sign it.

It depends on the book, the person, what we've talked about. I don't have specific things for each book. Some want it personalized. Some don't. I always ask before signing.

Q: How many "Ideas" do you have sitting aside and waiting for their turn? Those cool thoughts that come when you're in the middle of something else?

Oh, so many. I've lost count. More than I will probably ever get around to writing.

Q: What's your preference for writing: laptop or desk top?

I'm good with either. It used to be desktop, but it's been years since I had one that I'm used to the laptop. 

Q:  How long SHOULD it take to write a novel? I'm looking for an actual timeframe to aim for not an "as much time as your faerie heart deems is right" kind of answer here.

It depends on how fast you write/type, how well you have your story planned out, how many days/hours a week you can write, how long you want your novel to be (an 80K novel might take less time than a 120K novel, for example), things like that. It takes different times for different people. There's no right or wrong answer. It takes what it takes until it is done.

Q: How do you find time to write?

You'll never find time. You have to make time.

Q: What inspire you to write?

I have a few inspirations that helps me keep writing. First off, I love telling stories. I love creating and getting to know my characters. Once I know them, they won't leave me alone so even when I'm not writing, the stories are still being created in my head.  

I have goals that I want to reach as a writer. In aiming to reach those goals, I'm inspired to stay on course. It's not always easy, but I try.

Deadlines are also inspiring. There's nothing like writing under the pressure of "oh, crap! I don't want to be late!" Sometimes, that abject terror is the most motivating thing in my arsenal. 

Q: To all of my writer friends, how many of you struggle not to double space at the end of a sentence?  After 45 years of doing things this way, I have been told not to do so.  What are your thoughts?

I adapted to one space fairly quick. All it took was my editor telling me to stop or else. Since I would like to continue working, I stopped.

Q:  I have procrastinated long enough. The problem remains where do I begin?

Just start writing and get into your groove. Get started. It may not be anything you can use, but start writing and you will find your story. Oh, and trust me, there will be more procrastinating ahead. It happens to all of us.

Q:  Do you use Grammarly when writing? What’s your thoughts about it?

I've not used Grammarly. Sorry.
Q:  What do you regard as a virtue?


Q:  I'm not good at writing scenes that transition or build a story without action. I get bored with them! How do you get through it?

I sometimes have that same problem. For me, I go to the character and get in the head of my POV character so I get a little deeper than the dialogue. I also use that as a good chance to practice a good back and forth between two characters. I think of it like putting 2 cool characters in a car or elevator and seeing what they talk about. That helps me keep it interesting for me while getting through the transition.

Q: Is editor a must? Why is editor needed when a writer writes and rechecks his own works thoroughly? Did Shakespeare, Charles Dickens also went to editors? Or "editor" is only for the beginners? What does an editor edit or correct? Spelling, grammatical mistakes? Or even the story? Is editor a God who never makes mistakes and corrects everyone???  :-/

Yes. Editors are important. They look at the work objectively and catch things that we, the writer, might miss or don't see because we know how we meant it to be when we wrote it. As an example, there are a few spots in the way this question was presented (I pasted it as is) that could use some editor’s attention.

Q: Hey, can a writer come up a fake place (City and State) name or do you have to use a real City and state when writing your story? Just wondering.

Sure. Make up your own city. I would avoid creating a state, but that's just me. I created the town of Sommersville, Georgia in Sommersville County. I have revisited this fictional town a few times and plan to use it more.

Q:  Which of your projects became your biggest accomplishments so far?

Evil Ways is probably the biggest accomplishment for me because it not only proved that I could write a novel, but it also was my first published novel, which was a big accomplishment for me. I spend several years trying to find a publisher for it before someone bit. Even though my experience with said publisher wasn't the best, I had a book in hand and I used it as an ice breaker to talk to other publishers, which helped me get more work published. Yes, Evil Ways has been good to me.

Q: How long did you take to write your first full size novel?

6 months. I then spent the next 5 years tinkering with it and trying to find a home for it. This was the end result.

Q:  I am now looking for your opinion on the use of profanity. I have a character that is described as not being able to complete a sentence without using profanity. To me to keep him in character he uses the f word when he talks. Should I keep it in or take it out? To clarify he uses it 7 times in a 65000 word novel.

Leave it in. If the character talks that way, then the character talks that way. Profanity is a tool. Using it or not should be based on the story, the character, and/or the publisher.

Q: Should Your Character Swear?

As I mentioned above, I think it’s okay to have your characters swear, but it’s not something you should do just because you can. Is there a reason for the swearing? If so, then by all means, use it? If not, then you may not need it. Words have power. Using a swear word like “fuck” for example once in a story at the right moment is infinitely more powerful than if you use the word several dozen times. It’s all about using words to move the story and characters along.

Q:  Are you a happy writer? Do you find joy in all (or at least most) of the elements of being an author? Do you smile at the keyboard every time you face it?

I love writing. I do know if I can say I'm always a happy writer though, but I try.

Q:  What's your best technique for keeping track of things, especially if you write series books, or books that cover vast amounts of time? Do you use spread sheets? Notebooks loaded with details? Editing notes on a word doc? Post-it notes on a wall? What works best for you?

I keep notes and character info in a word doc. When writing, I put them in the manuscript, at the bottom so they are easily accessible as I'm writing. I also add to them and then save those changes to the master sheet.

Q:  How many "Ideas" do you have sitting aside and waiting for their turn? Those cool thoughts that come when you're in the middle of something else?

I've lost count and the list continues to grow. I got the idea for a 3 book (minimum) series idea and have no idea when I can even think about getting to it.

Q:  In your opinion, what is the most important HABIT a writer should have?


Q: What cliches do you think are overused?

All of them. That’s why they are clichés and should be avoided as much as possible. I will say, however, that there are times and places where a cliché can be useful. You can also use them in humorous ways to great effect. Some people speak in clichés. It’s just who they are. A character can be written that way too and another character can point it out.

Q:  What is your favorite way to connect with other authors? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Critique Groups? Writer groups and organizations?

All of the above. I love talking with other writers no matter the setting.

Q:  Who was the most recent minor character you introduced?

Bobby O'Neill in Snow Trapped. He's a local, small time crook who gets hired by a crew to help with a break in. Almost immediately, he became more interesting than originally conceived and his role expanded.

Q:  What's a risk you're taking with your current story?

Snow Trapped is a bit of a departure from previous entries in the series. I want each story to do well and stand on their own, but they also have to prop up the over-arching story line for the series. It's a bit of a juggling match as this is one of the over-arching story lines taking center stage, but still having to kind of stand on its own.

Q:  Which of your characters lies the most?

The narrator. I kid. I kid. In Snow Trapped, which was my current WIP when this was asked, there are characters playing things close to the vest and telling lies to keep their enemy off their trail and heading in the wrong direction. Useful misdirection in stories can be fun, but sometimes tricky to write. I have to keep the lies and the truth straight.

Q:  At this point in your writing career, what do you know well enough to actually teach? Things you research? Things about writing? Things about Publishing? Things about the industry?

I occasionally teach a how to class on making comic books, starting with the plot and characters through the pitch, artwork, and various stages through completion. I also discuss publishing options. I also do a glass I call "So, you've written a novel. Now what?" that has been pretty popular. We discuss publishing options, marketing, and other odds 'n ends about getting your book in t he hands of readers. There are a lot of options to choose from.

Q:  Do you tell your co workers about your Other Life, or keep it a secret?

When I have a day job, I've never kept it a secret.

Q:  Marvel just handed you control of five of their comics to write/draw/whatever for the next five years. What do you pick?

Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America, Spider-Woman, and She-Hulk.

Q: DC  just handed you control of five of their comics to write/draw/whatever for the next five years. What do you pick?

Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Nightwing, and Blackhawk

Q: What is your favorite character you created?
Favorite pulp character I created: Rick Ruby (co-created with my buddy, Sean Taylor). We actually won a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Character in 2013 for his creation.

Favorite non-pulp character I created: Abraham Snow.

Q:  When you first started did you get an agent or self published? I have 13 books and want to get them out.

When I started, I did neither of those things. I started out doing work for hire for publishers, getting assignments and pitching. Eventually, I found publishers willing to publish me. 

It wasn't until years later that I self-published anything. When I started, self-publishing was looked down on. Not like today, where it is a bit more well received.

I have never had an agent. I have looked and inquired several times, but have had no luck finding an agent willing to represent me or my work.  One agent even told me my work was unsellable, despite the fact that I was nearing 100 published stories at the time. I still keep the agent watch going as I need an agent to approach certain publishers, but I don't bank my career on having one.

Q: What is the easiest way to get books out?

I guess that depends on what you consider easy. Publishing is not easy. If you're expecting it to be easy, you might want to start running away now. I love publishing, but it will break your heart, believe me.

If you self publish, you have to do everything or pay for everything to be done. That's money out of pocket you may not recoup and time spent not writing. Know that going in. 

Small and mid-size press will handle production and whatnot, but our sales may not be huge.  You give up some control (cover, edits, etc), but you can work on your next book while this one is in production.

Large press, like small, takes care of the production side and they have larger distribution models. They are slow and can take up to 2 years after buying your book to put it out. 

There are advantages to each and there are downsides also. Research your options fully. Oh, and no matter what route you take, 99% of the marketing and promoting of your book(s) will be done by you. Start thinking up plans as soon as you can. Publishers often ask what your marketing plan for the book is before they will consider publishing it.

I hope that helps.

Q:  How long has it taken you to write your books?

It varies. I wrote a full-length novel once in 3 months that the publisher released as Print on Demand and pulled a couple of months later because he wasn't happy with the sales numbers. The book was never released again so all that hard work through the holidays, no less, was for naught. I will never do that again.

Q:  Of all the character traits and personality twists you gave the main character in your current work in progress ... what trait or twist are you enjoying the most?

I love that Abraham Snow can still be governed by his passions and instincts, even when intellectually, he knows better. Snow has a habit of running headlong into danger without thinking and those nearest and dearest to him are beginning to worry.

Q:  What are you usually sipping while you write? Coffee? Tea? Water? Whiskey? Beer? Mead?

Water, tea, or Mt. Dew.

Q:  Where are you on your current work in progress? Start? Middle? Close to the end? Editing?

I am early in the writing phase of a new project. Can't say much else at this time.

Q:  What's the first thing you do when you complete a project? 
Think about the marketing? Take a break? Move on to another project? Do the author Happy Dance for a moment, then keep going?

Breathe a deep sigh of relief then get back to work. If deadlines allow, I take a day off. If not, on to the next project.

Q:  What do you do in addition to writing during your "writing time?" Research? Develop timelines? Daydream dialog? Develop background for characters? What eats into your actual writing time? 

Figuring out who the characters are. Sometimes, getting to know my characters takes me down interesting rabbit holes. Plotting can do this too.

Q:  How do your characters come into being? Can you visualize them? Hear their voices? Understand their distinct personalities? Or do they just charge in without an appointment?

It varies. They don't start to feel real to me until I can hear them talking in my head. Once I have that voice, I listen and pick up bits and pieces along the way.

Q:  What's the best character name you ever came up with? And why is it the best of all your characters?

Of the names used, probably Abraham Snow. I like it. Of those not used, one day Ms. Arizona Smith and I will tell a story together. I didn't come up with the name. I actually met a woman with that name and told her I would use it in a story one day. Perhaps, she would be a good foil for Snow. Hmmm...

Q:  What is the best book title you ever saw? 

Tough one. The first that popped into my head was Kill Me Again by Paul Bishop. The title grabbed me.

Q:  When you write, can you mentally see your readers? Do you know what they're looking for? Are you serving your fans? Or ... do you write for YOU?

I don't ignore the readers, but they are not my first audience. I wrote the story for me first then worry about the audience.

Q:  Do you know how you will end a book before you start writing it?

I usually have an idea of the ending or a working ending. They have been known to change though.

Q: Have you or will you ever write a series? Why or why not?

I love revisiting characters and putting them into new adventures. 

At present, I have a few series going, although some have moved more slowly than others. The Snow novella series is up to book 4, with the next two scheduled for 2019. Evil Ways and Deadly Games! are both getting sequels in 2019 (Evil Intent and Deadly Deals!), new adventures with the characters. The Ruby Files and Lance Star: Sky Ranger are pulp adventures series that I have been a part of over the years. I am also planning a couple of novella series for Sheriff Tom Myers (from Evil Ways, Deadly Games!, and the upcoming Evil Intent) and The Freelancer (from The Traveler Sanction) for 2019 and beyond as well as Snow Series 2.

Q:  Got a question primarily for the writers who are working on a series; how do you know when the series is successful or not?

Good question. With my SNOW series, I'm waiting until the 6 novellas in Series 1 are completed. Then, I will look at it, check sales, and determine if I want to continue. The creative part of me is eager for Series 2, but the business part of me has to look at other factors. My others series are being looked at and I have a plan in place for 2019. All I have to do now is figure out how to make it all work.

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. If you've read something I wrote and have an opinion on it, please take a moment and leave a review. They can be as simple as "I liked it" or "A good read" but they help a lot.

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

Happy reading!


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