What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Honestly, it’s bulldogs. I own two, Frankie and Otto. Otto weighs in at 65-70 pounds, and Frankie seems to hold steady at 55. They relate to my writing, in that they’re usually in my lap as I write. Otto always, Frankie less so. I have what’s called a chair-and-a-half with an ottoman. He usually takes up that half and leans his head against my shoulder as I write. When she joins in, she’s usually on the ottoman with her head across my legs.
It would feel odd if they weren’t there at this point. I require quiet when I write, and they’re good for that… unless the squirrel runs by on the fence. Then we take a quick break, freshen up the coffee and get back to it.
What do you think are the elements of a good story?
There are so many things that matter. For today, I’m going to have to focus on one. It’s that your characters have to drive the plot. They have to have some kind of skin in the game.
I come across stories where the character’s duty is to guard something, protect something, etc. Noble tasks, no doubt, but these characters aren’t driving the plot. They’re standing around, waiting for someone else to drive the plot. Beyond a paycheck, or a sense of honor, they don’t have skin in the game.
What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?
I’m fairly sure others are answering some of these same questions, so I’m going to try to be different. Perfection is the enemy of completion. We all want to be perfect, yet you cannot find a book without a few typos, questionable sentences, or odd grammar. This includes the big publishing houses.
As an author, we rely upon critique groups, beta readers, editors, and sometimes all of them. Eventually, an author has to get a product to market. If you don’t get a product to market, you’re kind of defeating your own purpose.
Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?
The logical part of my brain says a bit of both. However, my experience with fellow authors is they are my best resource and some of my biggest fans. As an example, for every copy of Extra Innings you sell, I could look at it as a copy of The Enhanced League that I didn’t sell. That just isn’t the case.
Most people who read one of our baseball stories are likely to read both of them. Over the years, you’ve appeared on my blog, I’ve read and loved Extra Innings. I’ve been over here multiple times, and you’ve read The Enhanced League yourself.
You’re here for me when I have a new book to promote, and I will always be there if you need help spreading the word.
What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?
My blog, Entertaining Stories, has always been my best tool. I get to be myself there, and have more words to play with than Twitter or Facebook. I can change the appearance from time to time, just to keep it looking fresh.
Trickling out bits of ongoing projects tends to whet readers’ interest. This can be me talking about individual plot points, or the fictional versions from my writing cabin.
My blog auto-feeds to most of the popular social media sites. I used to be more active on social media, but it seems to have really tailed off as far as a promotional too.
What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?
It really isn’t fair, but nothing comes first all the time. Many of my stories begin with a fully developed vignette. These can come from dreams, daydreams, but I prefer to blame my Muse.
I’ve had great characters show up in search of a plot. I currently have an outline going that involves more of some things I want to address in fiction. It needs characters, and an undertone of plot before I can start it.
What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)
My most important tool is an Apple iPad Pro, the big one. I have the Smart Keyboard for it, and it’s about the same as a laptop. I frequently use the split-screen option when I build my Lisa Burton Radio interviews. I also like the continuous updating to the cloud. No more remembering to save my work. I’m filling this interview out with it right now.
Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?
I don’t know what I am, to tell the truth. I’m going to say outliner, but not exactly. I storyboard my tales. I have four or five storyboards in the works at any given time. If an idea haunts me, I use an app to start a board. I make an index card, add some visuals, and leave it alone. When more comes to me, I add to it.
Then I move the cards around to look something like a plot, but they aren’t the detailed outlines others use. My index cards are road markers for the story. I free write between the cards and it seems to work.
Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?
Define a genre. Yes and no. I write speculative fiction, but don’t stick to one specific sub-genre. My books cover science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal. They all require a suspension of disbelief, and I tend to orbit around them with my stories. It gives me a lot of room to change things up, and still remain true to the kind of stories I like.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
We have a camper and enjoy getting out on long weekends. If the season doesn’t lend itself to that, we enjoy what we call date night. This might involve dinner, or a movie, but some time away from the internet for sure. I take my iPad on camping trips, but aside from the word processor, almost everything else isn’t an option.
I’ve been known to hack out a chapter under the awning with a cup of coffee, and a bulldog companion. It won’t upload to the cloud until I get home, but that’s okay. A bit of fresh air, some incredible views, and maybe a wild blackberry dessert is good for authors too.
About C.S. Boyak:
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Find C.S.’s Books:
Everything is available through my Amazon Author Page. https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY
Connect with C.S. Boyack:
The best place to find me is at my blog, Entertaining Stories. I am present on various social media too. Here are the links to everything.