Oh look, an award that exists only to sucker you into participating in a blog hop! Thanks to Mary Ann Nicholson for tagging me, because I am a HUGE fan of anything that distracts me from writing. So, ten questions. Let’s rock.

1) When did you decide to become an actual for real, sweat-pants-wearing, coffee-drinking, dirty-kitchen-inhabiting writer?

I kinda sorta realized I wanted to be a for real writer about ten years ago. (I’m 37 now. Shut up.) I’d always been good at writing essays in high school and college, and I worked as a newspaper reporter in my early 20s, which was great experience for meeting deadlines, but wasn’t the kind of writing I wanted to do. I moved onto really terrible plotless “literary” short stories because I guess I wanted to sound like a pretentious jackass? Finally, after my first daughter was born, I realized I should, you know, write the kind of thing I actually might want to read. And I’ve been doing that ever since.

2) What genre(s) do you write and why are you drawn to that?

I grew up reading epic fantasy. David Eddings, Melanie Rawn, Barbara Hambly, Tad Williams, and so on. So clearly my background is fantasy. The simple answer for why I’m drawn to it is, it’s what I love, and every idea I come up with has some sort of weird element to it. Although, I recently realized I wasn’t necessarily writing fantasy, per se, but speculative fiction. Basically, a story set in the real world with some off-the-wall (as my father-in-law calls it) stuff thrown into the mix. (Ugh, I suck at answering questions like this. Next!)

3) In fifty words or less, what is your current project about?

Think a YA version of The Bourne Identity meets The Long Kiss Goodnight meets Hanna meets some yet-to-be-determined speculative stuff. (I’m terrible at explaining my ideas before I’ve actually written the book.)

4) On an average day, what’s your writing routine?

Writing routine? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, that kills me. *sigh* I’m a stay-at-home dad. My 5yo is in kindergarten, but my 2yo is still home with me. I write when I can. Sometimes it’s 300 words throughout a day, sometimes it’s 3,000. Every day is different, which is fine. It has to be. But, when I’m on a deadline (say like Pitch Wars) I can get stuff done super fast.

5) Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Die-hard pantser. I try to plot ahead, and sometimes I come up with stuff. But most of the time I get too bogged down in what-if ideas. I worry too much about the concept rather than just keeping focus on the characters and letting them dictate the direction of the story. I would love to get better at plotting, though, because pantsing a first draft often means the next draft needs a lot of revising. But, my stories flow best as I write them, not as I plan them. I do think that all the lessons I learn from each book (structuring, pacing, character motivations, etc.) inform how I write the next book, so I’m more aware of why I should or shouldn’t do something as I write the next project, and am willing to stop and fix it if my gut is telling me something’s off. Because usually, if your gut’s making noise, something’s not right.

6) Who is your favorite character you’ve ever written and how would you describe them?

Frau Eich, an older German woman who plays a small role in THE GOLEM INITIATIVE. She’s absolutely sincere, more than a little bit nuts, and just as likely to stab you with a kitchen knife as hug you. I’ve had Germans tell me I totally captured their mother or grandmother in her personality, which to me is the greatest compliment.

7) What’s the most egregious writing cliche you’re guilty of committing?

My characters look at everything. Or nod. Or sigh. There’s a lot of directional exhalation. I’m breaking myself of the habit, though, I swear!

8) What’s the greatest word in the English language?

Here’s the thing: We all know what the greatest, most versatile word in the English language is. But I’m going to be professional, and not actually write it here, since I’d rather not offend some of my audience until my first book is published. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT WORD I’M TALKING ABOUT. I KNOW YOU DO. AND IT’S A GREAT FUCKING WORD.

9) What do you do on days when you just. can’t. write.

I stare at the computer. I rewrite sentences that don’t need rewriting. I wander around the house. I eat something. I go for a drive. Honestly, I write in spurts, so I take lots of breaks between putting the words down. But some days? I just don’t write. And you know what? That’s alright. I know, I know. Everyone says you’re supposed to write every day. But sometimes, life gets in the way. I’ve got a family, and other things that need doing. Other jobs get the weekend off, so I see no reason why taking a day or two off from writing is a bad thing. It’s a good way to recharge.

10) Which book do you wish you’d written and why?

WINTER’S TALE, by Mark Helprin. It’s an absolutely beautiful fantasy. The prose is stunning, evocative, and fully immersive, and the story is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It is, hands down, my favorite book ever, and even though I know I’d probably catch consumption and die, it makes me want to live in its version of New York every time I read it.

Alright, so now I’ve got to nominate some other writer friends to play along:

Jill Corddry
Eva Gibson

Plus, I get to come up with my own 10 questions for them to answer! So:

1) Do you listen to music when you write?
2) Do you have a story you want to write, but feel like you’re not quite ready to write?
3) What, in your mind, equates success as a writer? Or, how will you know when you’ve “made it”?
4) Do you talk about writing with non-writers, or do you keep quiet about it?
5) Name one writer, living or dead, you’d want to hang out with, and why.
6) How long does it take you to write a first draft of a novel?
7) Do you wear pants while you write?
8) Where do you write?
9) Do you let other people read your stuff as you write it, or wait until you have a readable draft before seeking outside opinion?
10) What’s your favorite booze?