Thursday, November 30, 2017

What Are You Thankful For, Writer?

As we head into a holiday season that ranks high on the thankfulness meter, let's take this next Writer Roundtable to be thankful. What or whom are you most thankful for this year as a writer?

Lucy Blue: The space and agency to keep doing it. I might not be making big bucks, but I can write whatever I want however I want, and I have as much power to compete in the marketplace as I have energy and will to keep trying. So yeah, very grateful.

Derrick Ferguson: This past year I came into contact with so many people who have enjoyed my stories and even been influenced and excited enough by them to write their own stories and create their own characters. This past year has shown me that something I've heard most of my life is true; you never know how your actions will influence the actions of others and in turn how they will continue to influence others. This past year has shown me a lot about the spiritual side of writing, something I think I got away from for a while there. Thankfully, I'm getting it back.

J.H. Glaze: My full time writing gig.

Rory Hayfield-Husbands: The feedback I've got from members of my writing group and friends. Without them I would have been more unsure of my own skills but with their encouragement I'm starting to realise what I can do to fix problems.

Gordon Dymowski: The fact that I'm stretching myself in terms of what I write (both length and subject matter) and that I'm actually finding myself enjoying the process more.

Michael Woods: My team and my friends.

Martheus Wade: To be able to have the opportunity to write on a national level one more time.

Bobby Nash: This has not been an easy year, either personally or professionally, but especially on a personal level so being thankful hasn't been as easy as in the past. That said, I am thankful that my Dad's knee replacement went well and he is on the mend. I am thankful that I am here to help take care of him in the wake of my mom's passing and his surgery. It's not easy at times, but I am thankful that I can be here for him and my brother. I am tired but thankful to be here where I am needed.

Matt Hiebert: Spellchekker.

Scott McCullar: This year, I am thankful for the chance to revive my THRILL SEEKER COMICS series with the release of the archive collecting my very first stories. I am thankful for those Kickstarter supporters who contributed to the campaign and who helped successfully make a dream project come true. I just received the books fresh from the printer and they will be going out this next week in the mail to readers and fans. I appreciate the support from family, friends, and readers. I am also thankful for Erik Burnham for being my editor and encouraging me along the way. As a writer, I am also thankful this year that this revival sparked the chance for me to return to writing and drawing after an absence. I’m currently writing and illustrating new comic book stories and webstrips that will debut in the New Year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nugget #112 -- Doc Savage and Oprah Agree

Well-crafted visceral storytelling can reach every kind
of reader, from the Oprah book club zombie to the Doc
Savage collector. After all, even literary readers enjoy
a little gut clench with their cerebral exercise.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

[Link] Story plots: 7 tips to be more original

Clichéd story plots weaken an otherwise good story, a story where characters and settings are vivid. To tell a story that feels original and inventive, it’s key to learn plot clichés to avoid. Yet many original stories do use common tropes. The key is to make famous story types and scenarios your own:

1: Know common plot clichés within your genre

In story plots, clichés are frustrating because they’ve been hollowed out of their dramatic impact through overuse. Dragons that go on rampages overpopulate fantasy worlds. Women in distress who need men to save them overpopulate romance novels.

Here are a few more common plot clichés:

  • The chosen one: A character has been selected for a task but there’s no backstory or explanation why only this person in particular is capable
  • It was all a dream: Strange things happen but turn out to be dreams (often solving plot complications a little too conveniently for the author)
  • Representative of another culture gives clueless protagonist profound wisdom: Another example of a common plot cliché, especially in books from earlier times that either romanticized indigenous people or portrayed them as savages (this example courtesy of Strange Horizons)
  • In each of these examples, there is either a cop-out or an overused trope (a ‘trope’ is a literary device that occurs across multiple novels by various authors).

In the first example, there is nothing to explain what is so special about ‘the chosen one’. J.K. Rowling avoids the cliché of ‘the chosen one’ in Harry Potter by giving Harry a past link to the villain that explains exactly why it is he in particular who must fulfill the challenge.

In the ‘it was all a dream’ plot, there is always a risk of a cop-out. The revelation that characters have been dreaming can seem too trite or tidy an explanation for bizarre or puzzling events.

The third example is a plot point rather than an entire story idea. But it tells something valuable about being original: It’s better (for creative as well as political reasons) not to simply repeat received, dominant ideas. Stereotypes are the footmen of unoriginal stories and dangerous politics. The ‘exotic’ foreigner (or indigenous other) is likely to be just as full of flaws and folly as a protagonist.

Read the full article:

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The 9th book in The Pampered Pets Mystery Series is now available!

The Pampered Pets Mysteries, Book 9 
Don't wait to get your paws on it! 

"Such a cute series!" - Polished Nails and Puppy Dog Tales blog

Lights! Camera! Murder!

A star-studded fundraiser to help provide service dogs for wounded warriors sets tongues wagging...about Caro Lamont, pet therapist to the stars.

Caro's ex-husband Geoffrey is spreading rumors about her competence and snuggling up to the biggest stars, including Purple - the temperamental diva, who's the lynchpin of the celebrity line-up. All too soon, Caro is losing clients, her reputation, and patience with Geoffrey's shenanigans.

More trouble is unleashed when the high-strung headliner is found dead and Geoffrey was seen leaving her hotel room. With a potential killer on the loose, Caro is hounded by questions about who had reason to want Purple out of the picture. Though all the evidence points to her ex, Caro believes the police are on the wrong trail.

Even if her sleuthing puts her in the doghouse with Detective Judd Malone, Caro must dig up the truth before the real killer gets away with murder.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nugget #111 -- Writers Are Anythings Writing Anybodies

The good news is that you don’t have to be White, Black, 
Latino, Asian, Male, Female, Gay, Straight, Trans, etc. 
to write a greater diversity of characters. You can be an 
anything and still write an anybody. Why? Because 
you’re a writer. It’s the nature of what you do. Period.

By Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic from Windsor, Canada
(This morning we caught a rainbow...) [CC BY 2.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

[Link] Dialogue: 4 Ways it Goes Wrong

by Darcy Pattison

Dialogue is an essential part of fiction, the way an author shows a character through what s/he says. And it’s so easy to get it wrong. Here are some ways dialogue goes wrong and what to do about it.

Trivial. When characters talk to each other, the reader doesn’t need to listen to the trivial, or unimportant, things we all say to each other. We ask about the weather, chat about the inconsequential details of our days, or just generally avoid talking about anything of substance. That type of dialogue clogs your storytelling and drags down the pace. Cut the trivial and only leave the meat of the discussion.

Read the full article:

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Newest Hits Stores in December! Golden Amazon from Moonstone Books!

My newest hits stores soon. Have you ordered your copy? I'm thrilled to be sharing this volume to bring to the public some of the last work from the late Howard Hopkins, pulpster extraordinaire.

(W) Sean Taylor, Howard Hopkins
(CA) Jason Schaufele

The Golden Amazon is truly a wild character in the field of hero pulp, as not only is she one of the few female leads, but she literally is waiting for the time when she can rule the world! She is a fierce ruthless warrior who does not brook fools, and is constantly fighting the battle within of her two personalities. She has great abilities, but does not understand where they came from, nor can she trust her memories of where she came from.   The great author Howard Hopkins was a master of pulp fiction, and we are proud to have unearthed new stories all about The Golden Amazon!

In Shops: Dec 27, 2017
SRP: $11.95

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Pro Se Productions, known for both cutting-edge modern fiction and harkening back to classic genres, announces the release of its military-themed anthology -- PULP AT WAR!

War is frightening and often ugly. But heroes are forged on the battlefield. Action and adventure are not simply stories, but the very words men and women fighting for their beliefs, their countries, or just to stay alive live by every single day. Bullets flying and bombs blasting, PULP AT WAR takes one of the most popular genres of action tales, the war story, and through the pens of J. Walt Layne, Rob Mancebo, and Teel James Glenn, brings it to two-fisted, kill or be killed life.

PULP AT WAR. From Pro Se Productions.

Featuring a stunning cover by Larry Nadolsky and logo design and print formatting by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, PULP AT WAR is available now on Amazon at for 9.99.

This action-packed collection is also available on Kindle formatted by Marina and lo Iacono for $2.99 at  It is also available on Kindle Unlimited and KU Members get to read it for Free!

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Six-Gun Terrors Volume 3: The Slithering Terror

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the third volume in author Fred Adams Jr.’s weird western series, SIX-GUN TERRORS – The Slithering Terror.

When a plague of rattlesnakes descends on parts of the frontier, striking terror in the hearts of local farmers and ranchers, General Sherman, representing the federal government, once again seeks out the services of his two most reliable scouts, cow-punchers Durken and McFee. Content with their current occupation working for cattle baron Homer Eldridge, the ex-Union scouts are reluctant to answer the General’s summons. Such past missions have led them straight into encounters for the supernatural in truly horrific ways.

This new assignment is no different, as the two must lead a cavalry company into the heart of Indian Territory seemingly infested with poisonous reptiles. Their primary goal: discover the reason for this plague and whether it is merely nature gone wild or something a great deal more sinister.

“This is one of the most original weird western series on the market today,” says Airship 27 Productions Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “The bizarre adventures of Durken and McFee are really creepy good fun, giving us a nice dose of traditional western melodrama with the proper infusion of blood-curdling horror.”

Author Fred Adams Jr. once again blends authentic western action with gut-wrenching horror as he weaves a twisted, nightmarish tale of slithering terror that will keep readers up late at night. Artist Art Cooper provides the interior illustrations with Ted Hammond creating the beautiful horrific cover in the classic pulp vein. This is another great chapter in a weird western series quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Available from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Friday, November 17, 2017


For Immediate Release

Pro Se Productions Presents the First Episode of the Future of Digital Storytelling - THE PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK.

Each week, a new 'episode' of one of four rotating series will be released as a digital ebook for your reading pleasure. From Espionage to Supernatural, From Crime To Suspense, each week readers can find what they need in the PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK.

“PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is a marriage of prose storytelling with a model that has worked for decades, first in radio, then in tv and even in comic books.  Regularly scheduled ‘episodes’ of stories released once a week, spotlighting four different series.  Ebooks allow for publishers to do so many unique things, and Pro Se intends to take full advantage of that, setting up our own network of sorts with scheduled ‘programming’ that will appeal to fans of all types and create an excitement for all the stories to come.  We are very excited to kick this concept off with PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK and have so much more to come.”

The first episode of the PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK is HARRIDAN.  A successful internet news reporter, the adventurous and somewhat antisocial Harridan, finds herself returning home to Memphis, Tennessee. Left there by parents she never knew with the enigmatic Aunt Belle LaForge, Harridan grew up with a particular gift, curse, or problem, depending on her viewpoint. Harridan, from the day she started puberty, attracted odd types of people. And happenings. And events. All of the occult nature, and all things most others do not believe. Now, as an adult, Harridan is a purveyor of news that most outlets won’t cover, and still she can’t escape the strangeness that seems to follow her around…or the monsters trying to kill her.

Shopping in one of Memphis' most unique shops, Harridan's latest story stumbles through the door - in handcuffs. Helping a friend's nephew quickly spirals into something dark and sinister as Harridan uncovers a plot that not only threatens human lives, but also may mean the summoning of something hellish. Author John A. McColley brings this unique purveyor of paranormal news, created by Tommy Hancock, to life in her first adventure as the premiere episode of the PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK. Journey to a Memphis that is hidden in its own shadows and secrets in HARRIDAN: SACRIFICIAL LAMB.

Featuring a fantastic cover as well as digital formatting and logo design by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, HARRIDAN: SACRIFICIAL LAMB is available for only $1.49 at  The PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK is also on Kindle Unlimited, meaning members can get each episode for free.

For interviews with the author or creator, contact Kristi King-Morgan at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Thursday, November 16, 2017

[Link] The Women of Men's Adventure

by Paul Bishop

The paperback original men’s adventure and western series of the seventies and eighties provided a fertile proving ground for dozens of authors—some of whom wrote hundreds of books in the near uncountable number of series which proliferated during the time period. The huge majority of the writers of these action-oriented, violence dripping, sex-soaked series filled with lone wolf vigilantes, elite military teams, shoot first cops, lusty international spies, billionaire adventurers, and the many other variations had one thing in common—they were males. While they weren’t necessarily as hairy-chested, muscular, or quick-triggered as their fictional creations, they were certainly toiling in the traditionally male written, testosterone filled, genre.

While the low rent end of Hemmingway Street was customarily male, there were a surprising number of women writers who embraced the macho guidelines of the genre—matching their male counterparts bullet for bullet, violence for violence, and sexual kink for sexual fetish. They infiltrated the genre seamlessly, proven by the fact no men’s adventure series reader ever stopped reading the latest installment, outraged because, “Hey! This was written by a broad!”

Fortunately, a number of women writers who braved the world of men’s action-adventure paperback series were willing to share their experiences…

Read the full article:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Nugget #110 -- Viva la Storylution!

Most every great piece of fiction that 
has helped to create change in the world 
has been an aftereffect of the story the
writer wanted to tell. It began with 
story, not with revolution.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

[Link] Writing Dialogue: 50 Things Your Characters Can Do WHILE They Talk

by Bryn Donovan

In the wonderful movie Warrior, a science teacher who moonlights as a fighter talks with his wife late at night while he repairs his girls’ dollhouse furniture. This is a brilliant action that tells you so much about the kind of guy he is, and it makes their conversation about bad financial news all the more compelling.

In fiction, giving your characters something to do while they talk can also add more depth or interest to the conversation. Additionally, it opens up new ways for them to express themselves through movement and body gestures. If someone’s having an argument while he unloads the dishwasher, he might bang the pots and pans around. If she’s jogging with a friend who tells her something shocking, she might stop in her tracks.

If all the conversations in your story consist of people sitting and looking at one another, you might want to mix it up. Here are a bunch of things your characters could be doing while they’re talking. In some cases, maybe only one person is doing the action, while in other cases, both or all of the characters may be doing it.

Some actions may underscore the conversation, and others may provide an ironic contrast to it. I made most of these things pretty normal and everyday, but some of them are more unusual. The list will probably make you think of a lot more things that could work for your characters or your story.

Read the full article:

Sunday, November 12, 2017



She was one of America’s greatest heroes in its darkest days… She is now the world’s most powerful and alluring sorceress…. And She is working her magic in prose in the debut of her first digest novel-NIGHTVEIL: THE QUIET GIRLS!

By arrangement with AC Comics and Nightveil Media, Pro Se Productions brings Nightveil- and the AC Comics Universe- to life in prose! One of the longest lasting independent comic innovators, AC Comics breathed new life into super hero tales by reaching into the Past to blast into the Future! Now Pro Se Productions ushers in a new chapter with its AC COMICS Imprint, debuting with NIGHTVEIL!

“This,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “has been a long time coming and, now that this first digest novel is here, there is so much more ahead, not just for Nightveil but for nearly the entire AC Comics pantheon.  Bill Black and everyone at AC that we’ve worked with on this have not only been phenomenal, but they add a whole new energy to what we do, in a very positive way.  And Barry, the architect really of this relationship between companies, was the perfect and only choice to pen the first work of many to come.  Fan favorite characters. New adventures in prose. This is what Pro Se is all about!”

A mystery spanning decades rears its head in the modern day, plunging Nightveil on a globetrotting adventure that poses a threat not only to her immortal soul but to all life on planet Earth! Will her magic be enough to save the world again? Find out in NIGHTVEIL: THE QUIET GIRLS by award-winning author Barry Reese! From Pro Se Productions.

Featuring a stunning cover by John Nadeau, a Blue Bulleteer interior image by Bill Black, logo design by AC Comics, and print formatting by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, NIGHTVEIL: THE QUIET GIRLS is available now at Amazon at and Pro Se’s own store at for 9.99.

The first entry in the Pro Se/AC Comics collaboration is also available as an Ebook designed and formatted by lo Iacono and Marina and available for only $2.99 for the Kindle at The ebook is also available for free via Kindle Unlimited for members.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook

Saturday, November 11, 2017

New Release! Return To Easa

Death Is Not Predictable.

By J. L. Mulvihill

Death is losing its hold in the land of Authora. As the dead rise and sleepers awake, the weaving of webs begins and the lines blur between the two worlds as memories fade from one to another. Elsie Lind is slowly remembering and regaining her past, but in doing so, she has become an outlaw and now the most coveted woman in Authora. As word of her return spreads throughout the land, a change has come and not even the dead will rest. The Spider Witch, now free of her prison, will not be deterred from her plans. She will stop at nothing to secure Elsie as a means to her own power. But, who else seeks the benefit of the heir to the throne of Easa? A benefit such as being able to control the dragons could make grand plans more than possible. What evil awaits? What plans have been set in motion?

Who will Return to Easa?

Friday, November 10, 2017


Airship 27 Productions is proud to present the 10th Volume in its best-selling mystery anthology series, Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective.

According to the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, while battling his arch foe, Prof. Moriarty, was lost in the Falls at Reichenback and presumed dead, though his body was never recovered. Upon his return to London four years later, Holmes informs Dr. Watson that he had been traveling Europe and the Far East under the disguise of a Norwegian named Sigerson. Now, in a novella-length adventure, I.A. Watson delves deeper into those missing years, revealing who it was that accompanied the Great Detective during those missing years.

This is one of four brand new stories that fill this 10th volume of Airship 27 Productions’ best selling series. Writers Aaron Smith and Greg Hatcher offer up their own unique tales; among these a clever burglar who robs from the rich while they attend a theater performance and in another, Holmes and Watson come to the aid of former Baker Street Irregular accused of murder.

“I’d like to believe the reason this series is so popular with our readers is because we are devoted to only doing Conan Doyle style mysteries,” says Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor, Ron Fortier. “Over the years there have been lots of wild and crazy Sherlock Holmes stories pitting him against all manner of fanciful monsters, aliens and who knows what else. Whereas loyal Holmes fans, for the most part, cherish the old style adventures as Doyle wrote them; a mystery with all the clues narrated by Dr. Watson and in the finale solved by the Great Detective. This is what our readers want and this is what we are dedicated to bringing them. Old fashion tales.”

Once again three of the finest New Pulp writers breathe life into Conan Doyle’s classic characters and spin exciting, suspenseful tales of mystery and intrigue. As ever award-winning Art Director Rob Davis provides the beautiful interior illustrations and Graham Hill delivers a truly marvelous cover painting of Holmes at rest in his 221 B sanctum. So, dear readers, sit back, pour yourselves a brandy and prepare to enjoy a truly wonderful collection of stories starring the one and only Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective.


Available now from Amazon in both paperback and soon on Kindle.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My City or Your City -- Choosing and Creating Your Setting

Time for a new Writers Roundtable. This time we're going to talk about setting, in particular choosing a city for your setting in genre works. I've gathered input from horror, action, comic book, romance, etc. writers for this one because each slices this topic a bit differently.

Two special notes about this one: 

1. I do believe this is our largest roundtable yet. (So stick with it, as there's a lot of good stuff in it.)

2. We'd like to issue a special welcome to comics scribe extraordinaire Brian Augustyn for his first appearance here on the blog.  

Now, on to the fun and roundtabling...

Do you prefer to use existing cities and landmarks or create your own for your genre fiction? Why?

Scott McCullar: I actually prefer creating my own city for fictional comics – especially those in fictional realms with superheroes in costume and pulp action mystery men. I like the freedom of creating thrilling locations of my own to serve my story’s needs and to allow it to populate in the imagination of readers and myself.

I credit DC Comics with my interest because of their fictional locales such as Gotham City, Metropolis, Star City, and more. As well as characters like Dick Tracy and “The City” where he protects or The Spirit’s Central City.

Bobby Nash: Most of the time, I use what's already there, especially when setting a story in a major city like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, places like that. There's a lot of latitude in using an existing major city. With smaller towns, I created one of my own for my novel Evil Ways with Sommersville, Georgia. I revisited Sommersville again in Deadly Games! and a recent book in my Snow series revealed that the title character and is friends grew up there as well. For 2018, I am planning a return visit to Sommersville, not only in Evil Intent, but in a series of stories led by Sommersville Sheriff Tom Myers. Sometimes creating your own place pays off.

Danielle Procter Piper: If my characters are in a large city, I prefer to use one that exists because everyone already has some idea of the place, so I don't have to spend much time describing it. When my characters are in New York City, everybody has a preconceived notion about the place even if they've never been there. I have one from Boston, and even if you don't know much about Boston, you know it's a large American city, old, historic, with seedy areas, and near water. It's like animals--if a character rides a horse, you should already have a preconceived notion about horses even if you've never seen one in person. If I'm writing sci-fi and invent a creature that serves a horse-like function, then I have to spend more time describing it and developing behavior for it so you know what I'm talking about. New York and Boston are familiar animals. In my first published book I have characters interacting just outside the fictional town of Snakebite, Montana. You needn't know much about Snakebite, but just the name implies it's probably dry, dusty, small, and somewhat unpleasant. So, small towns are easy to make up and craft to better fit your story. In my New York, some aspects of the City have been altered to suit my desires, but I do look up streets and landmarks to give the stories I write that are set there some adding a pinch of truth to lies makes them more believable. I simply try to make my small, fictional towns seem believable by basing them on personal experiences with small towns.

Michelle Brundage Weston: I prefer to create my own cities and landmarks. It makes it much easier to write action. I'm working on an urban fantasy pulp right now that takes place in NOLA and it's hell to write. Having to make sure your characters are going in the right direction on a one-way street is another layer of research.

Brian Augustyn: In comics, the tradition has been to use fictional stand-ins for real cities; Metropolis is Manhattan (above 42nd Street) and Gotham is Manhattan (below 42nd St.), Central City is Chicago, etc. At Marvel, even though they use New York, it was so stylized as to be effectively fictional. The benefits of this is that the creators are free to decide how the city looks, works, feels, etc -- we can even utterly destroy the city, without readers wondering why it doesn't reflect the fact that thr real counterpart city wasn't vaporized when the big summer crossover allowed the aliens to zap Portland to dust. Or at least to have the freedom we have to affect a fictional locale.

Aaron Smith: For big cities, I almost always use real ones. For small towns, I almost always make up my own, or, in the case of one series of novels, thinly disguise real towns from the area I grew up in, so that based on the names and descriptions, readers who happen to be from the same area will likely be able to figure out what towns I'm using.

David Ellis: I've mostly created my own settings. Mostly the self-created settings were so that I didn't have to be beholden to whatever an existing setting did or didn't have, but that's changed in more recent years as I've gotten more into doing research. That research (even if it's brief and not particularly extensive) will often uncover neat tidbits that I wouldn't have thought to include otherwise, so even if I'm dealing with a self-created setting, I'll pick one or more real-life analogs and work in details from that.

Bill Craig: I love South Florida because there is such diversity in each of the cities. Miami has a particular flavor that is far different than the zaniness of Key West. Tampa also has its own flavor and energy. Scorpion Cay, while my own creation, fits right into the south Florida mystique.

Tuttle E. Tejas: I love the romance in names, in imagery that city-names evoke. Eric Pete always makes up his cities/landmarks so he can write them to order--but he seldom names the city. It steals all the romance out of it.

Perry Constantine: I tend to use existing cities and landmarks but I've also created my own. It all depends on the kind of story being told.

Hilaire Barch: I've written both and done a hybrid of sorts in some pieces. I've created towns (urban fantasy, sci-fi, and a WIP Western romance), but had to decide where they were located on a real map, b/c geography played a part in plot construction. I've built entire fictitious worlds (sci-fi) with megalithic cities where anything goes, and I've used real places(sci-fi).

Ryan Cummins: To me it depends on the cities importance to the story. I have written several stories from different genres without ever mentioning the name or location of the city. I believe the cities relevance to my story can be just as impactful, if not more, visually as it can be narratively. Obviously, in a novel, this wouldn't be the case but as far as comic books go I don't much think it matters whether real or fictional.

Edward Ainsworth: I have always used existing settings. In the great tradition of Urban Fantasy, using an existing city with either a previously unknown element hiding underneath or utilizing Contrastive Banality, it can bring out something really interesting in the structure of the real place - a layer you don't always see when you walk through it.

Tobias Christopher: Nine times out of 10 I'll use my hometown of Indianapolis, mostly because I rarely see stories set in Indiana, and I feel like there's a fair amount to work with here.

PJ Lozito: I have to use real locations. I could never make up interesting, realistic geography. Also, it's good to put myself under the constraints of reality. I even consulted with a real pilot about flight time in a real city.

Robert Freese: I prefer my own city so I'm not locked into an existing geography. As the story evolves, if I need a subway or park with a Ferris wheel or whatever, I create it. I tend to not give my cities names, so readers from everywhere can decide for themselves if it's N.Y., L.A., Atlanta or Bumfuk.

Bertram Gibbs: I have used both in my stories, but prefer using existing locations. The geography and landscape is already set, which the readers recognize, versus create and map out a spot. In that, I have to build points of reference and follow them, which could change, based on the angle the characters see them from.

Don Mancha: I like making my own cities and peppering them with stuff from all over the world. Cause I'm a control freak.

Alex Washoe: Depends on the story. I've written real locations and made up ones. I tend to use some version of Seattle in a lot of my stories -- either openly or thinly disguised -- just because it's here and I know it well. But I'm currently researching Wyoming.

James P. Nettles III: I use real, large cities, mostly out of a love of destroying LA, but they give a good reference. I make up the small towns, lest I convince someone their neighbor is a creature of the night. For my heavier sci-fi and some thrillers, they are purely fictional.

Mark Halegua: I have a couple of characters set in various parts of NY city. Red Badge is set in a mid-country small city. The setting for the two unnamed characters was important since one of them, Kurt Kinnison, is a Pan Am security/Private (?) detective. The other, I won't name for the moment, is also a writer and lives in Manhattan. I like both since I'm able to get a feel for both locations in the 30s. Red Badge came before either of these two, and I felt a need to place him in a setting that, other than the general location of mid country, wouldn't be associated with any current city./ I even named it Central City - generic enough (yes, I know that's where Barry Allen Flash works, but not for a few years).

What are the advantages of using existing locations? The disadvantages?

Brian Augustyn: When I write prose, much of which is hard-boiled crime fiction, I prefer to use actual settings, largely because such use adds to the verisimilitude that keeps a suspense story immediate and realistic. I think that in a story about an advertising executive being wrongly stalked by an assassin, the reader may be yanked out of the story when it's mentioned that heads to Liberty station to catch a train out of New Holland, the Big Orange. A few writers have pulled that off, most notably Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) whose 87th Precinct cop-mysteries were set in a fictional Manhattan known as Isola. HE made it work.

I guess that a writer could avoid naming the city and simply allude to it without being specific, ("The off-duty cop turned down the street where the beloved ancient ballpark lay. He remembered with a smile how he came here as a kid to cheer on his team; lovable losers back then; a subject for ages to a mythic curse put on the little bandbox, supposedly by the Bambino himself. Several world Series wins lately had busted that myth to bits...") but ultimately you work too hard I think to justify the ability to write about a corrupt politician in a mythical Boston.

Tobias Christopher: Disadvantage: Not being able to accurately put into words the visuals that I see. Advantage: Being able to actually cause massive property damage without actually Michael Baying the hell out of it.

Edward Ainsworth: The disadvantages of using real places, is that if you're using a big City, like London, or Birmingham, Manchester of Canterbury, they're massive sprawling things that change regularly (London less so, to be honest). The advantage is that they're ready-made with a rich cultural history. I'm not going to pretend that I can make something like Bas-Lag with my own stories straight up, so having London to draw on makes it fun and also gives you a greater sense of realism to work with.

Don Mancha: The main advantage of an existing location is that it exists. The layout of the location and its culture are already established. Since you don't have to work on setting you can point your attention to other parts of your story.

This could be disadvantageous if you make a mistake geographically or culturally, and a local calls you out for it.

Scott McCullar: I think the advantage of using a real locale is that there is a built-in familiarity and it could be researched and both the history and the details of that real place add to the realism of a fictional story feeling “more realistic” as if it could possibly take place right here. A disadvantage may be that all that I wrote above could, in fact, play just the opposite in the type of a story one would want to tell.

I think about all the times I’ve seen in movies the White House or Eiffel Tower blow up. Or count the many many many times that the Golden Gate Bridge is or is almost destroyed during some climatic event – whether it is with the X-Men, Planet of the Apes, James Bond, Superman, mega-earthquake, Godzilla or some other alien or underwater giant space creature break the structure.

I guess that is supposed to shock an audience that there is danger in our reality.

Bobby Nash: Existing locations means there are people who will know them and will tell you when/if you get any details wrong. That was why I created Sommersville instead of using the existing city of Winder in Evil Ways. Winder did not have all of the locales I needed for my story so I created a new town where I could populate it as I saw fit for the needs of my story. I did not want the disadvantage of adding things to an existing town that weren't there and being called out for it. It was simpler to create my own. In the long run, it has paid off as I have revisited Sommersvile a few times now.

Bertram Gibbs: As said, the advantage is the readers will be familiar with the location. There are few disadvantages for me and the story.

Michelle Brundage Weston: The advantages: you already have a map. The disadvantages: you already have a map. Also, timing is critical. If your characters only have one hour to make it across town, they could be screwed depending on the city. In MB's made-up city, I don't have to worry how long it will take them.

Tuttle E. Tejas: Advantages of real cities: People who have never been to either, will have definite and geometrically opposed ideas between Honolulu and Detroit. Cities like Baltimore or New Orleans are characters of themselves and will (with minimum research for the non-resident) inspire/shape the story.

Disadvantages: You have to write around the city e.g. If you have Hero Man move from point a to point b in 20 minutes, in L.A. on a Friday, at 16:45 on the 405 the fans will call BS.

Hilaire Barch: The problem with real places is that you might include details that don't exist by the time the book hits print. Maybe you don't get it quite right and someone will wonder. With real places, it's better to merely drop a few details unless you are intimately familiar with the location.

Aaron Smith: The advantage to using existing cities is that readers will already have a sense of what they look/feel like. The disadvantage is that research has to be done!

Bill Craig: The advantages of using existing locations is that it can make people feel that they are part of the story, because much of the time, they may have been to a particular place and it brings those memories of their own experiences there. The disadvantage is if you get a detail wrong, you will get called on it every time, and "artistic license" is not something a reader will let you get by with.

Perry Constantine: The advantage of using an existing location is thanks to Google Maps, you can easily reference locations, streets, landmarks, etc. Of course, the downside is that if you personally haven't spent a lot of time there, you may not quite be aware of the little things locals might know. For example, if your character is using public transit and you choose a route you found on Google Maps, locals might scoff about how that's actually not a convenient route. You also might miss out on the personality of the city or not know about certain neighborhoods.

Danielle Procter Piper: Existing locations are great because there's less thought put into them--just research if necessary to get things right. I see no disadvantages because if you're writing fiction, people expect you to enhance or embellish things at least a little. I guess the only disadvantage could be over-use of a location. New York City falls into that category. that's precisely why I have another fictional character operate out of Boston.

What are the advantages of creating your own locations? The disadvantages?

Robert Freese: The downfall to using my own city is sloppy writing. You can write in too much convenient stuff for your characters and then you run the risk of losing your reader. Using recognizable landmarks, for me, is exploitable for cheap thrills; zombies in the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland, psychos living in the Statue of Liberty, whatever. That's fun.

Danielle Procter Piper: When I create my own locations, I can have as much fun with them as I like, so long as they remain believable enough that they don't disrupt the story. The disadvantage is that I must sometimes create maps so travel times and such seem realistic--an issue I believe they're having more and more with the Game Of Thrones TV show at the moment. Just glad I'm also an artist!

Bill Craig: Scorpion Cay is my own creation and I have been asked many times where it is located. My thought is that it is near Duck Key and can only be reached by a special ferry that runs between the two islands several times a day. The big disadvantage is that after 12 books in the Decker P.I. series, people want to actually go see Scorpion Cay.

Perry Constantine: The advantages of creating your own location is that you have no limitations. You want a gothic skyline? Go for it. You want tons of bridges? No problem. You want mountains within walking distance? Nothing stopping you. The disadvantage is you have no limitations and it can be difficult to keep track of stuff you've already established.

Hilaire Barch: In fictional places, you have to paint a more detailed picture unless the setting simply isn't important to the story.

Aaron Smith: The advantage to using fictional towns is that you can mold the place to be whatever you want it to be. The only disadvantage I've ever encountered was when I put a lot of work into creating a small town in Illinois only to later discover that there was already a town of that name but on the opposite end of the state. No big deal, really, I just had to change the name.

Tuttle E. Tejas: Advantages of creating your own locations: You want mountains, oceans, rivers, and deserts (oh, my) all in the same city? You got it.

Disadvantages? You have to use a light touch or go all-in and create a map. Same with a sense of place -- either lightly, hang the barest frame of place or wrap your character up in it, a la Elric or Phèdre nó Delaunay. Of course, both those characters are fantasy--where I think it is easier. But then Richard Stark did well with made-up locations in his contemporary crime stories, too.

David Ellis: If I'm writing stories about a real city or location, I like to use existing landmarks, street names, whatever I can use to convey the setting. I used to be a lot more vague with that sort of thing, but it led to uninteresting setting descriptions. Once I discovered that Google Maps/Earth existed, that really helped engage my imagination and helped with the research. Even so, I'm fine with completely made-up environments; it just means I have to describe them as if they were real places. So the advantages of existing locations is that there's existing reference material and neat details to draw from; the disadvantage is that the setting becomes lifeless without that reference material.

Michelle Brundage Weston: Creating your own locations gives you the freedom to put whatever you need wherever you need it. Unfortunately, you will have to create a lot of things. With action, location and such matters. With other genres, you might be able to get away with it.

David Herring: I have struggled with this issue in my own writing ad nauseam.

On one hand, using a real-life city adds more of a cultural and personal touch to your story. It also is instantly recognizable to the reader and better helps them connect to the setting.

On the other hand, creating a fictional city grants the author vast creative freedom to come up with there own cultural sandbox.

The best solution I've found is what I call "meeting myself in the middle." What that means is, from a variety of factors I came up with a real-world region (or state) of the country I wanted my city based in. Next, I picked out a small (or ghost) town and reimagined it as a fictional major metropolis.

As the godfather himself, Stan Lee once stated. The reason all the Marvel heroes are from New York is that he was born and raised in New York and he knows New York. He's just writing what he knows. While it sounds so simple and cliche, it really is the best thing a writer can do because it will instantly give your story credibility.

Bertram Gibbs: You can set up the moods within the location. A bustling cityscape versus a small town. The people who populate each has a certain way of thinking. Small towns would be more laid-back, while cities are more rushed. So, the mood/tempo of the cities/locations can and should be used in describing the characters and their motivations.

Bobby Nash: I can add or take away whatever I need for my fictional town. Need a rock quarry? No problem. Need a river? No problem. It helps. The downside is that I have to keep up with all of it because it's not a real place I can simply revisit. I have to keep track of what is there and what isn't. In Evil Ways, one of the things I mentioned was how the area was changing as new development was moving into the area. When we pick up with Evil Intent and the Sheriff Myers series, a few years have passed and we can see those changes. Sommersville is growing and changing, not always for the better.

Tobias Christopher: Advantage: Sky's the limit on creating your own world. I mean, imagine a world where there's a video store on every corner and zero Starbucks. Disadvantage: Depending on the realism level of the story, you probably couldn't have hidden mechas hidden throughout the town in weird locations.

Don Mancha: When you make your own location it's up to you to create everything. Which is excellent if you don't want to be held down by the restraints of reality.

The big problem though is that you literally have to create everything. That takes time, and an understanding of the impact of setting on the story, which takes hard work.

Edward Ainsworth: Creating your own locations are fabulous, but, sometimes when you're going for something like UF, then the locating being real allows you to create layers on top. Whereas something brand new, like say trying to build a Gotham, is much more fluid and it is easier for readers to get lost unless you build up a really vivid, well thought out, structured city. And while we're all good writers and stuff, city planning ain't something we're great at I'd imagine.

Sytse Algera: I prefer real locations, especially when the artist is great at the detailed stuff. A disadvantage is that the artist must be able to pull it off. I only did contemporary thrillers here in Europe so far. Our series is now known for the cities we use, and we use the fact in advertising.

Scott McCullar: I may be jumping ahead to your next question, but I like to think that a “make believe” city or imaginary location is a character in the story unto itself. It can be a far far away planet but somewhere close to home… an island where dinosaurs still live, a city where your crimefighter protects its citizens, or whatever it needs to be to serve the purpose of the imaginary story.

How much does your location, whether existing or created, become a character in its own right in your fiction?

Michelle Brundage Weston: It can be a character. Lord of the Rings is a good example. With action/pulp, however, the focus is more on the action. I do try to ramp up the "ooh shiny" with the more exotic type locations. (As in, the bayou outside of NOLA would be more of a character...)

Bertram Gibbs: I like using New York. To me, the city is a character all its own and the individuals who inhabit it are the city's subconscious.

Bobby Nash: Sommersville absolutely has a feel of its own that makes it just as important as any other character in the book. The town and county has its own unique feel, it's own rhythm that will hopefully make it feel different from other fictional locations. The same is true of existing locations. Los Angeles needs to feel like Los Angeles, Atlanta has to feel like Atlanta, that sort of thing.

Brian Augustyn: Many writers like to feature their cities as characters, Chandler's LA, Parker's Boston, Paretsky's Chicago, etc. al, and a real city works better, plays more intimately and believable. That works for me as well.

Hilaire Barch: For most of my stories, the setting is quite often simply where things happen, but I have read plenty of stories where the place is as much a part of the story as the characters. If you want it to be, you have to breathe as much life into it as any of your characters.

Scott McCullar: Yes, Gotham City is as much a character as is Batman.

For me, I have a few fictional locations in my THRILL SEEKER COMICS universe with the stories that I tell. While it is a globetrotting world these characters travel around, I do have a “base of operations” for my main characters that serves as home port. The most prominent center of my fictional stories take place in a thrilling location called St. François de Port and is located on the Mississippi River between Memphis and New Orleans where Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana all touch on the map. The real location of Yazoo City would be just to the east. My fictional city in the Deep South is where my pulp character Yellow Jacket: Man of Mystery™ lurks when not on the run or gallivanting around on a mission or case.

I really wanted to write a story about a character from the South. Hardly any comic book heroes were from there that I was reading in mainstream comics.

I developed a rich history for St. François de Port that ties into true history with the founding by the French in 1719 and later falling into the hands of the Spanish and Hernando de Soto exploring. There are bluffs and Native American tribes and a pyramid there that were lost. Later a Spanish Fort. As time went by, it was a major site of a Civil War battle. Riverboat pirates and the road to a Texarkana town called Deadman’s Gulch where I can tell Westerns. I could go on and on, but I do have a rich history of this city that I will explore in future stories.

One thing I like about my fictional city is that I can blend Memphis and New Orleans to a certain degree in my location. A rich history where both blues and jazz prosper. It is a riverboat city. A religious city. An ancient city. A modern metropolis now. To the north are the cotton fields and Delta. BBQ. Juke Joints. To the south are the swamps filled with alligators and voodoo spirits.

It can be whatever I need it to be.

Yeah, I love fictional cities.

Danielle Procter Piper: I won't call the locations in my stories characters, but let's use cooking terms to describe them. My main characters are the meat of my stories, so the location would be the cooking vessel., possibly even some of the flavoring because they do help define the layout of a story, and can influence the characters the same way we form assumptions about people from New York City in general versus people from Los Angeles in general. So, the pot, the heat source, maybe even some of the spices, but my stories are meat-driven with lesser characters being the veggies and sauce. Does that make sense? Sometimes the container the food is cooked in or the way it's cooked is integral to the finished dish, but it's the taste, the texture, and even the nutritional value that make a meal worth returning to.

Robert Freese: In my one novel, I made the movie theater, not necessarily the city it was in, a major character in the story. Readers told me it was upsetting when it burned down at the climax. I think because I created a kind of theater that existed years ago, readers had a connection to it, and it became a real place within the story.

Bill Craig: Key West and Tampa both are major characters in the Marlow mysteries and the Rebeka McCabe mysteries. They are not only the backdrop, but they provide a rich texture to the story, just as San Diego does in my Mitch Cooper series.

Richard Laswell: Much of my fiction is based on very specific locations, a house, a cabin, a spaceship, etc. I rarely write locations more than background unless it is needed.

Tuttle E. Tejas: How much does location become a character in it's own right? Boston is probably Spenser's closest friend in Robert B. Parker's novels. The same is true of Kerney's New Mexico in Michael McGarrity's novels. Cynosure is both lover and antagonist to John Gaunt in Grimjack. My own character only feels safe in his own city and I do my best to give Houston a voice equal to my protag--without writing a travelogue.

I didn't give RJS for Green Arrow until Mike Grell moved him from Star City (or wherever the hell he was) to Seattle.

Don Mancha: The bulk of my most recent story takes place in a basement, it's walls are gradually covered in newspaper clippings and research by the main character. The basement hasn't changed structurally but aesthetically it's taking on the traits of the person living in it. And that's all a good setting is, an expression of the people that live within it.

Tobias Christopher: Depends on the story. Omega Guardians, for example, the old Union Station in Downtown Indy was starting to become a character in itself until it was demolished towards the end of Season 2.

Aaron Smith: The extent to which the location becomes a character in its own right varies widely depending on the nature of the story. Sometimes it's just convenient to place the story there, while other times it feels as if the story couldn't be set anywhere else and still have the same soul.

Edward Ainsworth: London is, very, very much it's own character. Always has been and always will be. Be it as an entity of its own expression, or with an element of humanity embedded within it. Smaller Cities that I've used, like Cambridge, or Canterbury, have their own charm and vibe and that infects stories on multiple levels.

David Ellis: It's a matter of how the setting interacts with the characters. New York City is a character in a lot of superhero fiction because dense skyscrapers make for great backgrounds (Spider-Man, in particular, uses them for locomotion in a unique way that makes his life more difficult when he's away from them). All the details that make New York a character in real life can show up in a superhero story and enhance the setting.  I've also created entirely made-up worlds for my own fiction or roleplaying games, and the way the characters interact with the setting and vice verse make for a symbiosis between the two.

Perry Constantine: It depends on the story, really. In some of my series, the books jump from location to location, so it's really only there for window dressing. But in other series where a firmly established city is used as the main setting, then it definitely becomes a character in its own right. Chicago and Osaka are both huge influences on the Luther Cross and Kyoko Nakamura series.