Frequently Asked Questions
Many are good questions. Some of the other questions…well…I don’t know.
Click on a question to see the answer, click again to close.
How did you get started writing?
Writing is something you just have to want to do. I just happened to be a kid that liked to write stories in school. So much so that my first grade teacher would yell at me for writing a story instead of doing my arithmetic.
When I was in junior high, I wanted to write a sci-fi novel about a machine that comes from outer space and kills people. I did not know how to get started so a teacher told me the best way was to just plunge in and write and see what I come up with. I wrote about three chapters and gave up.
After I graduated from USM, I wrote plays as a kind of hobby. I even took a course in writing kids’ stories from the Institute of Children’s Literature in West Redding, Connecticut. I never published a children’s book but I learned a few valuable lessons.
One is that publishers don’t exactly want manuscripts that readers want. They want the stuff that they THINK readers will want. (And in the case of children’s books, it has to be age appropriate. When I was a kid I wanted books like How to Make Bombs and Dynamite but fortunately for the world, no publisher would release a book like that).
Bottom line – if you don’t play by a publisher’s rules, you will get a thumbs down.
I got a manuscript. Can you help me get published?
I doubt if for two reasons. One is I will not likely have the time and two is I will probably teach you all the wrong things. What will work for me may not work for you.
I published through Infinity, a POD. I paid them a fee and they got me an ISBN code and I order my books from them.
It is very hard to make money that way but I like the freedom of writing what I want and being able to say what I want.
Your best move now is to get a proofreader – either a published author or a teacher of English Grammar. She will point out for you typos you made and flaws in the logic of your plot that you do not see.
I promise she will find something not right with your work. So be patient. It will take you a while to learn what you are doing . I know it did me.
What should I do to become an author?
When young people ask me this I say the best thing to do is stay in school and study all your subjects. For obvious reasons, you have to become an expert at literature and grammar but that is not enough.
You have to do well in all your subjects – everything.
Writing is a business and you will need the skills you learn in math class to make money.
If the money you spend on transportation and advertising is more than what you make in profit, you have to be aware of it. If your royalty checks are not appropriate for your amount of sales you need to be able to find out.
“But,” you say, “I don’t have to be good at all my subjects to be a writer…I mean I don’t have to be good in subjects like history…” Wrong! History helps you understand what an author was thinking when you are studying his works. For example, my knowledge of history helped me understand that H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds was a satire of British colonialism at the time he lived. George Orwell’s 1984, was a parody of Stalinist Russia.
And for goodness sakes read! Your research into how authors form plots and develop characters will do you a lot of good. Stephen King’s On Writing is a great place to start.
Are you an Astrologer?
Oh come on! People have really asked me that. If you really have to ask me that I really can not help you. I am a former geologist. (What else can you expect? I am a Virgo!)
Do you believe in UFO’s?
Well…yeah. I have seen one. Unidentified Flying Object. But “Object” does not always mean “Alien Space Ship.”
Through the years I have read about crashes at Roswell, dead alien bodies at military bases, the Zeta Reticuli exchange program, alien abductions, and inventions of high tech devices from UFO technology.
All these things imply the existence of beings thousands of billions of miles from earth, with a life span of tens of thousands of years, and capable of building a craft with enough fuel to accelerate to near light speed and still more to slow down when they reach earth.
I find that a bit far fetched.
Most cases of alien abductions I have heard about are reported from people having experiences similar to sleep disorders and who describe things similar to things we see in movies and TV shows. Lots of these are “recovered memories” found via hypnosis. But if the conscious mind can have a lively imagination, why not the sub-conscious?
Personally, I have had terrifying dreams of being in Civil War battles. But I doubt these are real memories of me being with Lee at Gettysburg.
The only real credible abduction story I have heard of is Charles Hickson’s experience in Pascagoula, Mississippi. But I do not know how to explain it.
Do you offer your books for charity fund raisers?
Absolutely! For the past couple of years, I have enjoyed donating books to silent auctions to help children with severe medical problems, battered women, and food drives. If you have any ideas of charities I can help feel free to contact me through this site.
I would like to send my book to (a famous movie star) and maybe he can make a film out of my story. Do you think this is a good idea?
No. Try to remember that famous people often have a staff to open their fan mail. So if you request something more than an autographed picture, they will likely throw your letter in the trash can and that would be the end of it. Actors act. They do not produce movies.
If you think your story is marketable enough for a movie, search the internet for a screenwriter and check her credentials. How many of her works actually got to the silver
screen? Is she willing to have a written contract with you concerning pay, copyright pay and so forth?
The process might take years. Some motion pictures go through about 100 rewrites of the screenplay before the company films it.
I entered a poem into a poetry writing contest on the internet. I made it to the first round of the selection committee. Am I a good writer?
Probably. But not for that reason. If my terminology is correct, this is a “stone soup” scam. You will “win” because everybody does. But win what?
What they will do is print your poem with the poems of other contestants in a fancy book and will charge you for a copy to show your friends. And that is how far it goes.
Nobody outside the circle will hear of you. No English professor will teach your poem. And you will not make any money.
A good rule of thumb is to stay away from all writing contests. Especially those who charge an entry fee.
I would like to name a star after my mother. Can I do that?
No. Only the International Astronomical Union can give stars and planets names that would be recognized by scientists and academia. I know there is a star registry scheme where they will take your money, send you a certificate and send it to the copyright office who will file it away. And nothing more.
The International Astronomical Union would not be involved with this goofy scam. Hey! Would you really want to pay somebody just to type your name on a piece of paper, put it in a file folder and stuff it in a filing cabinet?
Do you think the moon landing was a hoax?
No. The Apollo astronauts landed on the moon. A number of people have put together the idea the lunar landing was staged much like the fake Mars landing in the movie Capricorn One. They offer a lot of evidence of chicanery, (multiple shadow directions, lighting in photographs, etc.), that does not hold water.
Just about all these things can be explained by someone with some basic knowledge of photography or high school science.
For example I heard one guy say the moon’s temperature would have been hot enough to melt the film in the astronauts’ camera. Baloney!! I once worked in a store and picked up pizzas in aluminum pie pans that came out of a 540 degree oven, with my bare fingertips, and not get burned! Why? Aluminum foil is a poor conductor of heat. Can we not expect even less conductivity from the vacuum of space around the moon? Plus the astronauts’ camera had material that reflected sunlight.
So far I have found no evidence that could convince me the lunar landing was faked.
Do you think we could go backwards in time?
I don’t think we can go BACKWARD in time but maybe we could go FORWARD into the past. Bit of a distinction. Let us say you ride a bicycle in a circle. You will eventually get to the point you started from but you are still moving forward.
In a somewhat similar way in a higher dimension, you might be able to ride a rocket ship through a loop in space-time and get back to the time you started from. But ship time is still moving forward.
Most scientists I have read that support this idea tend to think you might get back to your starting time but not earlier. So you can not go back in time and see the French Revolution.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Hmm. When I was in fifth grade I read Star Trek paperback books and saw how similar or different they were from the TV episodes. (Some of the episodes from the TV series made the great book stories appear a bit silly).
About this time I started reading Isaac Asimov who had great novels like Fantastic Voyage and wild short stories in Boys Life. As I grew older I read Robert Heinlein and H.G. Wells, Lester del Rey and Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Of course I have read authors who wrote about contemporary social issues – George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Mark Twain, who did his own commentary with humor.
William Faulkner and Eudora Welty made great works about the tough times of the South.
In recent years I have read Ty Drago and Anne Inez McCaffrey. Ms. McCaffrey was one of the reasons I had a female officer on the starship in Chronosia. She was annoyed at old sci-fi movies with “hub-cap bra” women whose only function was to ask the starship captain stupid questions so he can explain things to her, (not really to her but to the audience). I wanted an intelligent lady so as a kind of salute to Miss Anne, I introduced the character Wilma Colson.
Within the past year or so I have enjoyed Roland Mann who wrote Buying Time, an interesting novel about time travel from a Christian perspective.
Are you working on a sequel?
Yes. I am writing Chronosia II – The Fugitives but be patient. I am often busy and it is hard to find time to write.