Questions Frequently Asked

Why are you so darn unusual?
I’m just being myself! Exactly what about me is unusual? Besides believing that watermelons are poison. And my irrational fear of bungees.

If a vampire bites a werewolf in the middle of a full mooned night how does he get the fur out of his mouth?
There are many answers. Maybe werewolves are cooler and a vampire wouldn’t have a chance of actually biting one during the height of lycanthropic power at the full moon. Maybe when a werewolf shifts back to human form, any severed appendages, fur, etc. reverts back to human form as well. So the fur might disappear completely or, at worst, turn into a mouthful of human hair when the wolf resumes his non-furry shape. I think the answer we’ll go with, however, is that most of fiction feels that vampires have retractable fangs, so the vamp could just push a button or whatever they do and make his fangs go back up inside, leaving the no-longer-impaled-on-the-fangs werewolf fur to fall freely from his mouth.

If a rock is there (points) and another is there (points), how long would it take for a fish to jump?
We’ll turn to D&D for this answer. Assuming the fish wants to jump from rock to rock, he’ll probably need a Fly spell. Once cast, if the rocks each occupy a five foot square with five squares separating them, and the fish has a flying speed of thirty feet, it will take one round, or six seconds, for the fish to “jump” from rock to rock.

When is the next book coming out?
Well, the first book has to come out first. Haha! I am hoping to get a fairly standard contract for a series. They’ll sign me on for probably three books, with the possibility of an expansion of the series to maybe five or seven books. They’ll probably also be willing to buy spinoffs or additional series. In the main series, one book per year will be released. I believe I will have to write two books per year if I want to make a living doing this (unless, of course, I get mega-huge for some reason. I don’t really want that, though.). So I guess the answer is: One book per year from the main series, with another book that is either a stand alone spinoff book (like a non-main character getting his own novel to tell backstory, for example) or a second series (hello steampunk series!).

Where do you get all your ideas from?

Satan! Just kidding!

It sounds silly, but I get them everywhere. Not in the oh-that-idea-is-genius-I’m-gonna-steal-it way, but in that I think the world is a wonderful place, full of inspiration. If you are thinking about things around you and really looking at them, it doesn’t take long to start wondering “what if” about them. “Hmmm, I like that tree over there. Is pretty. What if little tiny people lived there? What kind of people would they be? What do they do in the winter?” Stuff like that. I guess it amounts to a lot of daydreaming. Only like 1% of the ideas I come up with in a day are usable. The rest just amuses me.

I should also mention that I think to be a creative person, you have to do creative things, really exercise your creative muscle. If you were a body builder, you wouldn’t just exercise your leg and expect the rest of the body to look good. So if you want your creative muscle to work, you need to pay attention to all parts of it. That’s why I write, bake, take pictures, sew, etc. It helps me flex that creative muscle all over the place. Once you start doing a variety of creative things, it comes naturally most of the time. Then you are able to work with inspiration when it hits and turn it into something.

I have a really great idea for a book. If I tell you about it, can you write it for me?

And we’ll split 50/50, right?

No, I can’t. And wouldn’t if I could. Ideas are the easy part. Writing it is the hard, frustrating, work-intense part. I am happy when people contribute ideas for what I’m working on, but that is still my project. I don’t think I could write someone else’s project. I just wouldn’t “feel it,” if that makes sense, and wouldn’t be able to do it. I have so many ideas of my own, I think I’d rather spend my time working on them. I think the best person to write a book from your ideas is you. You are the one who has visualized it perfectly, and knows what the characters are thinking, and how you want the audience to feel when they finish that last page. I only know that stuff about my own work, so I wouldn’t do your stuff justice.

How do/did you research your novel(s)?
I’m currently writing in the genre of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Fantasy. In December of 2008, I was tired of reading Fantasy, which had always been my go-to when I didn’t have a particular book in mind. I wanted a book with some romance in it, but without the love story being the whole plot. Between suggestions on my blog and looking through reviews on Amazon, I found Urban Fantasy. I spent the next then months or so reading almost nothing but these books. I warned Bert early on that I was just going to read the whole genre, both because I liked it and because I needed to figure it out. During that time, I sifted through the good and the bad and figured out what I feel are the elements that must be included in this genre and what it is about them that makes people keep buying them. You have to admit people are still crazy for werewolf/vampire/modern magic stories. Anyway, after that time, I eased up on reading UF and started my own book in November 2009. I consider the time spent getting a feel for the genre to be my first step in research. After that, everything was done through the internet or my trusty old imagination.

I think it my research for later books will be much better. For one, I’ll be more experienced and bold. Maybe I’ll know who to call when I have a question about x, y, and z. Also, the more books you write, the more you get paid. I hear the typical first time author can expect about $5000 for their first book. That sounds like a lot of money to be handed in advance in one glorious lump sum. It’s not, when you consider what that money has to be used for. $5000 isn’t much for a year’s worth of work, or even six months’ work. It has to be used for self promotion (like plane tickets to go to signings, convention fees, hotels, and the big one, designing and running a website), printing and mailing costs when you are corresponding with your publisher, and also, we like to eat once in a while. The money would also be used for research purposes – getting reference books, going to museums, etc. As the advances get bigger and the royalties start pouring in, I think more money could be used on research. Suppose I wrote a series about Australia. I’ve never been there, so the first book or two would have to be about what I could learn online. After I had more money, maybe I could actually go there, and my books would be better after that because of the first hand experience.

I didn’t do much fact checking for this book. I would say I was influenced by many things – all the UF books I read, D&D, and even my preference of werewolves over vampires in fiction. If you’re new to writing, they say, “Stick to what you know.” That’s what I did.

What’s the age range you are targeting?
My target audience is smart and/or educated women between the ages of 25 and 35 who have a history of reading Fantasy. That’s what most Urban Fantasy is aiming for, I think. There’s a very popular part of UF that’s for young adults, but that’s not what I’m writing.

Where can I buy your book(s) (assuming you don’t get picked up by a big publisher and they are available in B&N, Amazon, etc.)?
I don’t know about this one yet, since I haven’t been picked up by someone. Because I would like this to be my job, my first choice would be to go with a big publisher and be on shelves in every major physical and virtual bookstore. Failing that, I would go with a e-publisher. The royalties are a higher percentage, but you sell fewer copies than if you had a printed book. E-books are big right now. If that didn’t work, then I would try to find a small publisher. If I find an agent first, I probably will not have to go past option one or two.

Any tips for aspiring authors?
Advice #1 I think the biggest tip would be to write, any time you get the chance, even if it’s just for ten minutes. There are tons of fancy organizational programs out there that will help you plot out your story. There are workshops and conferences and services you can buy that will offer tips and critique your work. There are online writers’ groups made of your peers who are trying to make it. And NONE of them is a substitute for actually sitting down and writing. All of those things can be helpful, but they aren’t necessary, and I think a lot of people make it seem like they are a crucial part of the job.

Advice # 2 would be to read. Read books that are like what you want to write. And then read ones that aren’t. Reading a story that is complete will help you get a feel for how to pace a novel, how to structure it, and to see how characters interact. In the end, you have to decide what does and does not need to go into your story to get it told. It helps if you have an example or two to go by.

Advice #3 is not to let anyone tell you your style. Things like moleskin journals and fountain pens in a Borders cafe, critique groups, and Dragon software work for a lot of people. Not for me. In the end, being a writer means writing things, so follow your own style to get that word count.

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