Hello everyone! Please welcome the fabulous JB Sanders who’s kindly stopped by the Tea House today to answer some questions on writing, movies, and more!
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
In some ways, the total control I have over my story. It’s mine, I decide what happens, and that feels like a special kind of freedom. I also enjoy telling stories, making up worlds and situations, and the feeling of creating something new.
Do you ever lose your creative groove? If so, how do you get it back?
Oh man, I sure have lost it. In fact, I’m just getting out of a pretty dry spell. That’s the reason the 4th Glen & Tyler book is taking so long. I’m not 100% sure what I did to pull out of that dive, but I think it had to do with consuming other stuff — reading, watching TV, watching movies. There came a point where I was watching or reading something, and thought “what would Tyler do to get out of that?” That happened enough times, I got enough build up of “what ifs?”, that I was burning to get back to writing.
Are you a plotter, pantser, or both?
I am a total panster. I fly by the seat of my pants a lot. In fact, the way I get past any kind of persistent writers block, in general, is to write the scenes that amuse me. Screw chronology! Then the work comes when I figure out a way to stitch together those scenes into a coherent book. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes I have to toss scenes entirely. But they’re seldom wasted — I don’t press the delete button, I cut them out of the manuscript, and paste them into my “unused” file. I’ve actually resurrected a scene I didn’t use in the first book (Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure) and used it in the second book (Glen & Tyler’s Scottish Troubles). It worked!
Is there a genre you’d like to write that you haven’t already written? (i.e. Historical, Science Fiction, Horror)
I actually thought that I would write my first book, and it would be either scifi or fantasy. I have about 1/3 of a young adult scifi book already written — though I’ll go back and change it pretty significantly. Back then I wasn’t as courageous in my writing, and it was kind of a typical YA novel, with no male/male romance at all. Bleh! I also have an urban fantasy mystery novel I’m working on that might be what I switch to after the Glen & Tyler train pulls into the station.
The interaction between Glen and Tyler is the best — they’re so much fun to write! The banter is awesome, but so is the sort of fourth wall breaking they do. There’s a scene in Scottish Troubles where they realize (sorry for the SPOILERS) that there’s a Russian mob causing them trouble, and Tyler goes “Didn’t we do Russian crime gangs already?” — of course, Glen replies “No, that was Ukrainians, totally different.” It’s the characters being kind of self-aware of the story they’re in, only in a sly way that the readers can get (or not, doesn’t matter). One of my readers said it was “interestingly self-aware”, which is a pretty cool way to sum it up. It’s partly because Glen and Tyler see themselves as almost like a couple of guys, sitting on the couch, playing this all like a giant video game — not so much like real life. It lets them say and do things they probably wouldn’t, otherwise.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by social media? How do you find the right balance between writing and your online presence?
I do get a little overwhelmed, though I guess I don’t update nearly as often as other authors, so that makes the load a little easier to bear. One really great piece of advice I read was this: put like 75% of your work into writing, and 25% into marketing (which includes the social media stuff). That is, until you get to your third book, then make it more like 60% marketing and 40% writing. There’s something about the 3rd book in a series which helps the sales of all the books just take off that much more. So although I regularly engage with the social media stuff, and try to do other things to promote my books, I understand that it’s an important part of getting the word out, nearly as important as the writing is in the first place.
That said, I’d probably still be writing, published or not.
What’s been the most difficult part of your journey with your writing?
That last mile of the marathon is a killer. Writing a book takes a long time, but for me the part I struggle with the most is getting the final manuscript. That things I mentioned where I have to tie together all those cool scenes I wrote easily? Yeah, that’s a lot of work. And there’s my Editing Circle, which is a bunch of friends and family who comb through my books and find the errors, problems, and shortcomings. Cleaning that stuff up is seldom fun (sometimes, mind you, but not most of the time).
A large portion of writers can’t function without coffee. Are you one of them?
I have to have my big mug of coffee in the morning, but for real serious writing jags later in the day, I need my tea. I’ve become something of a tea snob, too, (which I’m sure will come up in a book soon) so I have to have loose tea, steeped only 5 minutes (depending on the leaf, of course), and served with just a dab of honey.
If you could only watch three movies the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Clue. Princess Bride. Fifth Element. That’s off the top of my head — I think if I was really restricted to just three movies, I might want to pick an intricate film that I could find something new in every time I watch it. So I might say one of the Miyazaki movies, like “Spirited Away”. Anyway, about those first three. Clue is just damned funny, and I’m a huge mystery fan (especially the Drawing Room British Mystery), so I get all the inside references and sly digs at the conventions. Like “the butler did it”. And of course, Tim Curry.
Princess Bride is something I can practically quote every line — it’s just so funny!
Fifth Element is very tongue-in-cheek scifi action flick. Plus the music is great!
I’m banging away on the 4th Glen & Tyler book — High Seas Hijinks. It’s coming along, but I had a dry spell during it, so it’s morphed a little from what I pictured originally. I’ve also had to chuck out a few scenes that didn’t work — which is always a painful process. I’ve also been working on that previously mentioned paranormal mystery romance book. Which will be humorous, of course, because I can’t seem to write any other way.
Where to find JB:
JB’s book at Smashwords: