Frequently Asked Questions
Following are the answers to the most Frequently Asked
Questions, straight from Yvonne. Please check here before
emailing Yvonne. She tries her best to keep up with email,
but sometimes falls behind. Please be patient.
Will you read my unpublished story/excerpt/outline/novel/article?
Answer: This is the Most FAQ, so it takes a FIRST PLACE answer... which is no. Actually, in big red BLINKING letters: I'm sorry, but I can't earn a living while I'm reading other people's stuff. Please don't mail or email me material, thinking I'll read it anyway. It won't happen.
Will you donate a story to my small press or on-line magazine?
Answer: Sorry, the answer again is no. I support the small press and appreciate how it's a learning ground for new writers. But nowadays webzines go up in a weekend, and they disappear just as quickly. Many get little or no editing and because of that, are a poor showcase for a writer's work. Be that as it may, in the past I've sold stories for copies and/or no payment at all, but I can't go into a grocery store and offer the cashier a contributor's copy of a magazine in exchange for a loaf of bread. Nor can I give the electric company or the IRS an Internet URL and tell them that reading the story posted there is payment to them for my electric or tax bill. I have bills to pay, so I can't give work away for free. A final note if you're one of those writers who has a tendency to keep giving your work away for contrib copies or miserable pay rates like 1/4 cent a word: If the editors out there know you'll write for free or next to nothing, why should they pay you pro rates?
Will you write a story for my new project on spec-- to be paid on publication, or for a cut of the royalties after publication?
Answer: No. And no. And no. See the answer to that second question up there? Substitute "contract" where it says "contributor's copy" and "internet url" and you'll understand. I have a full dozen stories in my file that I've yet to see a dime from in return for my work and just such payment terms, and more that were written for projects that disappeared like smoke in the wind. There's a lesson to be learned here, and consider me taught.
How did you get into the realm of writing media tie-in novels such as your Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, Elektra, Ultraviolet and other media tie-in novels?
Answer: This part of my career started with an offer by Bantam Books to have me novelize the film Species. At the time they were looking for a writer for this, my editor was pleased with my first novel, AfterAge-- hence, the offer. Sometime later I was offered the chance to novelize a graphic comic series, Aliens: Music of the Spears, a bit later after that, the movie Species II. Ultimately I was contacted by the editor of the Buffy book series and asked if I was interested. At other times I was recommended by friends. After awhile it becomes, I think, a matter of editors liking a writer's work and knowing that the writer writes well, is willing to work hard and revise where necessary, and will complete the project on time.
Who were your major influences as a writer, and why?
Answer: A number of great writers influenced me while I was "growing up" as a writer (and I'm still growing, still have a lot to learn), but the most prominent of these was Robert McCammon. In fact, it was his vampire book, THEY THIRST, that made me want to try my hand at writing. As to why... well, that's an interesting thing to think about. Rick's writing was so alive to me, the characters like real people, that they stayed in my head for days after I'd finished one of his books. Also, every time I read a portion of his work I felt energized and I found myself wanting to do the same thing-- create characters that people would cheer for and cry for, remember well beyond the time when they closed the book and put it back on the shelf.
Where can I buy your out-of-print books?
Answer: Most of my out-of-print books, as well as a number of Buffy items, can be found in the Store.
May I send you a book to autograph?
Answer: Absolutely! Check the Contact Me page for instructions regarding where to send it and return postage. Be sure I can read your writing well enough to spell your name correctly.
Would you send me an autographed photograph, bookplate, or bookmark?
Answer: No, but I'll sign ones that you send me and I'll send them back (provided you follow the postage instructions on the Contact Me page). However, please note that I will sign ONE bookplate, not a pile of blank bookplates. Don't ask if you can be the exception or send them anyway.
Well, since you won't read my stuff, what's the best advice you can give me about how to write?
Answer: What I've always said about this: The best thing you can do for yourself as far as your own work is to read it out loud. Put it aside for awhile, then close the door to your room and have at it as though you were living the story. This is how you catch grammar errors, things that don't make sense, awkwardly constructed text, and sentences long enough to make you suffocate. Also, there are an infinite number of places on the Internet to get advice. Start with Writers.com, and also check out The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Writers Beware and go from there.
Learn the difference between its and it's! There are very few things that will mark your manuscript as sloppy and amateurish as using these words-- or more specifically, the apostrophe-- improperly. There is a simple difference between "its" and "it's": "its" is possessive, and "it's" means it is. Take the time to learn where an apostrophe belongs. It's just shameful that I see these errors not only on manuscripts, but on web sites all over the Internet-- self-made and professional. We, as writers, can and should do better. I've found apostrophe errors in professionally produced multi-thousand dollar promotional advertising brochures and recently emailed a college English Department because their website had the same kind of error. Okay, end of lecture... whew!
I am an unpublished writer and I don't know how to find an agent or get published. Can you recommend me to your agent or help me find a publisher?
Answer: Nope. You have to do this yourself. There's isn't any magical thing that someone else can do for you. Buy yourself the most current edition of Writer's Market. You'll spend about thirty bucks on it, and if you're serious about writing, it'll be the best investment you ever make. It'll teach you etiquette, format, and the general know-how of the business. You can also find lots of markets by searching the Internet. When you do get an agent, make him work for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make your agent show you copies of submission letters. Before you say this seems like too much trouble or you don't want to "bother" your agent, just remember: It's only your career on the line... and a bad or lazy agent can take it right into the dump.
I've had my short stories appear in a number of on- and off-line publications, but haven't been able to get any agents interested. How did you get your first break, and can you recommend anyone who works in the horror genre who might be interested in a "first time" author?
Answer: Short stories sales are great, but what's more likely to impress an agent is a skillfully crafted and completed novel. The work will speak for itself-- I can't stress this enough. As you're submitting your work to agents, remember that they're human just like editors: one might hate it... but another might like it and know just where to sell it. As for my "first big break"... there was none. Check out the bibliography and you'll see eleven years between my first story sale and the publication of my first novel. I spent that time writing and writing and writing and it took me nearly as long to find an agent as it did to write that first book. An unpublished novelist is just like an unpublished short story writer, so go up one question and read the answer there. In that marvelous book you'll also find info about agents, what they read (and what they don't), where to send it, and whether they're accepting new clients.
What if I send you my idea, you write the book for it, and we split the money?
Answer: Even ignoring the fact that this would mean I did all the work and you got half the money, I already have more ideas of my own than I'll ever be able to develop into stories and novels-- I just won't live long enough. Besides, I wouldn't touch someone else's idea even if I was wearing a biohazard suit.
May I write a sequel to your novel? [OR] May I co-write a sequel to your novel with you?
Answer: Alas, no. While I'm flattered that some folks want to do this, I already have ideas for the sequels to most of the novels I've written that qualify for one. Some are even fully outlined, and I hope to get to each and every one someday. But thank you-- I'm flattered that people like my writing so much and are affected so strongly by my characters.
Will you read my published story/novel/article?
Answer: Sorry, but probably no. I am literally hundreds of books behind in my own reading and I have hardly any free time for such pleasures any more.
Did you do your own web site, and will you do mine?
Answer: I designed my original website but my days of doing that have fallen to lack of time. Frankly, I'd rather write, which explains why I've gone to a Blogger template to keep the main page up to date. Besides, there are lots of folks out there who have far surpassed me in design skills. I can, however, give you a great price on hosting your site and providing email. See the Webette page for contact info and a list of my clients.
What ever happened to Babylon 5: River of Souls?
Answer: This is the project that broke my heart, so be warned that you aren't going to find the usual Darke Palace happy attitude here. If you still care to know what happened, you'll find the answer here. But forgive and forget-- I still love that show!
How long have you been writing?
Answer: Since about 1982, longer than most folks realize.
How did you get started?
Answer: I sold my first story to THE HORROR SHOW in 1984. I found them in that year's edition of what was then the Fiction Writer's Market. I even got paid for it... $1.50!
What belt do you have in martial arts and where do you train?
Revised - Answer: I don't do much in the way of martial arts anymore, but my last belt was High Blue, with three stripes on it, the last of which was earned in my last class in September 2002. I also hold a Green Glove in Savate (French kickboxing), a White Ring Rank in Thai Boxing (i.e., baby), and am ranked as a Level 3 Beginning Student (again, baby) in Kali by the Martial Arts Research System. I trained at the world renowned Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts in Chicago, and you can see me in action by checking around on the Photo Page.
Photo by the incomparably talented Dolly Nickel. The text and photo on this page ar copyright © by Yvonne Navarro. No reprinting, "borrowing," or use in any form whatsoever without prior written permission.