How long have you been writing for and how much of that time have you spent writing fiction?
I started writing fiction when I was 12 years old and bored with the Hardy Boys, but it took twenty years and my wife’s encouragement to get me to start submitting my work for publication.
What’s the average word count for the books you write and how long does it take you to write your average book?
In my Spirits of the Earth trilogy, each book is about 120K. In the Captain Quasar trilogy, they’re closer to 80K. BackTracker is my longest novel at 150K. I can draft a book in about three months, but then it takes another three months to polish it up and make it readable.
What is your writing routine (Do you have a daily word count goal? Do you write whenever the spirit moves you?)
I aim for 1K a day when I’m drafting a new project. When I”m revising and editing, I’m happy to get through 5-10 pages a day.
How much do you research for a book before you start writing?
I usually research as I go. If I don’t know something or want to know more about something, I look it up while I’m writing.
What do you find most difficult about writing a book?
Giving myself the freedom to make mistakes. I’m a recovering perfectionist.
Which of your books are you most proud of and why?
BackTracker — with all the time travel and alternate realities, it was a challenge to keep everything straight. But now I can look at it like a finished 10,000 piece puzzle and smile.
Which of your books was the most difficult to write and why?
BackTracker — all the time-jumping and parallel worlds made it tough to maintain a coherent plot, but somehow I managed.
Which self-publishing platform do you like the most and why?
KDP is the easiest and has a nice-looking interface, but I also make my books widely available via Draft2Digital, which is clunkier.
Would you publish with a traditional publisher if they contacted you? Why?
I still submit my work to small presses. Aethon Books has published two of my trilogies (Spirits of the Earth & Captain Quasar), and Montag Press is publishing the Interdimensionals trilogy I’m currently working on. Traditional publishers do a better job of marketing my stuff than I can, since I’m unwilling to spend anything on ads and such.
How many unfinished or unpublished works do you have?
20 short stories I’m in the process of submitting to various publications, and a couple novels I plan to self-publish: a GrimFarce and a sequel to Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective. Then there are four sequels in my Dome City Investigations series that I haven’t started yet. And a sequel to BackTracker at some point. Maybe a Coyote Cal novel someday. I might be forgetting something…
Do you prefer creating stand-alone books or series?
Series — once I know the characters, I usually like them enough to get them into some more trouble.
What does success as a writer look like for you?
I’d like to say making a living at it, but I read somewhere that on average, most professional writers make only $10K a year. So, not enough to live on. For me, success means starting a project, finishing that project, and being proud enough of the final product to either have a small press publish it or publish it myself.
Writing can be a lonely job. Do you take any special steps to ensure you remain part of the world?
Teaching helps. Working with middle-school kids, their parents, and my coworkers gives me a daily dose of reality. It balances out the fantasy that dominates my free time.
Constantly sitting and writing can be physically debilitating. How do you take care of yourself, physically?
I try to exercise 45 minutes a day. We have a treadmill and some free weights in the basement. I like to mountain bike and kayak — getting out in God’s creation. Shoveling the driveway is good exercise during the winter.
Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?
I try not to. If you believe the good ones, then you have to believe the bad ones. So, I figure my books are somewhere in between. But 4 stars always make me happy.
Do you have a favourite author? A favourite book?
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis is one of my favorites. The Princess Bride by William Goldman is another. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card rounds out my top three.
What advice would you give to a new author?
Write a lot. Remember that a messy first draft is always better than a head full of ideas. At least you have something to work with. Revise, revise, revise, edit, edit, edit. Get your work in front of people, and learn from the feedback. Never give up, never surrender!