Questions for Spartagus.

I'm trying to be a writer (you may have heard mention of this fact a couple thousand times already...lets just pretend this is the first time) and writers need an audience and an ability to connect with them. So, I'm gonna try something different in the blog this time.

I struggle to talk about myself in any meaningful way to strangers. I don't know you and you don't know me so, for the most part we are strangers. I show up on Twitter and tweet some mundane fact about myself:

"I like cheese!"

or, find myself chiming in about movies, cracking wise or ruminating about the size of the universe.The bulk of what I "talk" about is in short, sharp blasts on Twitter and that's lead me to wonder how much of a connection I'm making to the people I interact with through the myriad of social forums. I'm not the most social of animals since I do not find myself in the least bit "special" or "interesting" so find it hard to fathom when/if someone else does. Klout tells me I have measurable impact on those that read my tweets but I'm not entirely sure about that, barring one or two exceptions. (You know who you are!)

The world of writing and writers is one of support and mutual appreciation, for the most part, and I think I'm a part of that but I find my pragmatic self wondering if I'm wasting time with strangers or building genuine friendships, valuable contacts and fans or is it all just a weird smokescreen.

So, I'm going to open up here...on this blog. Ask me anything you want. Is there anything you want to know? (I can't imagine there is but now is your chance)

I will try to give you honest answers (I may lie occasionally to protect the innocent). And don't be scared about offending me or any of that nonsense, I'm thick-skinned and I have a knife...I can look after myself.

And let me finish by asking this: What are you looking for from Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr et al? Are you looking for friends? Contacts? People to buy your book? A mix of everything?

Ok. Now I sit back and see what happens...


  1. What kind of writing do you do? What books do you read? What is your favorite pizza?

    As far as social networking, I'm looking for a supportive group of folks who can encourage and critically critique writing that I'm working on. As an unpublished author and beginning book reviewer, I'm also hoping to get my name out there (branding-wise).

    And finding friends to BS with is always a plus!

  2. Tricia - I write in several genres but have only managed to finish one book which was a thriller/mystery. I have other stuff that would fit into the sci-fi and fantasy genres and I'm interested in trying on other hats to see what fits.

    I love comics and read them whenever I can. I enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy stuff. Ray Bradbury is a fave (love the Martian Chronicles) and I recently finished the Game of Thrones stuff by George R.R. Martin. I enjoy some mainstream thriller/drama/mystery stories by folks like Crichton, Patterson and Grisham. And I still enjoy Sherlock Holmes, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Dead Zone. Sometimes I'll get into medical thrillers, sometimes fantasy stories, it all depends on my mood really. Gimme interesting characters and I'll give almost anything a try.

    Pizza? Hmmm, the basic sausage and cheese layout is fine with me. I'm not entirely picky though and as long as there's no mushrooms I can enjoy most.

    Thanks for the questions Tricia. I think what has impressed me most about the writers I've come into contact with is the support structure they offer one another. I wish you continued good luck with your writing and getting your name out there. :0)

  3. Hello Gareth!

    The different social networks can be used for different reasons, obviously, and I have all of them differentiated. I mean, I use Facebook for talking with my friends, I use Tuenti (a Spanish social site) to be in touch with my students, I use Twitter to meet people who I can be friends with and help me with my dream of becoming a writer, and I use GoodReads to be updated with my readings :D

    And, yes, it also impressed me so much when I discovered that the many authors I met in Twitter were supporting each other so much. Moreover, they are encouraging me and helping me to become a good writer. So in a way, apart from making friends, we are also making a contact list of possible people who can help you for your purposes (but obviously in a good way).

    You like cheese?? I LOVE CHEESE!!! Have you ever read anything by Tess Gerritsen or John Connolly?? Good thriller books. What do you miss the most from Scotland?


  4. Hi Cinta!

    My Facebook page is mainly populated by family, friends and work colleagues and they're all sick of hearing about my book. So, I also try to keep Facebook and Twitter differentiated, although there is a certain amount of crossover. Facebook is a powerful social tool but, I really don't want to annoy those who usually give me the strongest support.

    Twitter is great for picking up tidbits of information, links, exchanging ideas and little blasts of encouragement. Having conversations is a bit more cumbersome though.

    Yes, I do like cheese! Although not nearly as much as my wife who may or may not be a member of the mouse family.

    I think I read a Gerritsen book a while back but I couldn't tell you which one. I currently have a John Connolly book on my "to read" pile - The Unquiet. My wife has read a bunch of his stuff. I don't think I have. (My memory can be terrible sometimes!)

    And what do I miss most from Scotland? Well apart from the obvious stuff like family and friends, I miss the weather. I've joked about it before, but I do enjoy the milder climate, the sea air and the breezes. Sure it rains a bit...but that's what they invented waterproof clothing for. :0)

    I also miss some of the food: proper fish & chips; delicious scones, cakes and bread; a bigger selection of potato chip flavors!! I'm fortunate to be able to grab some UK food over here but its expensive and in short supply.

    Thanks for stopping by Cinta. I'll be sure to check out Tess Gerritsen again - I do enjoy a good medical thriller - and I hope you fulfill your dreams of becoming a writer.

  5. Thanks a lot for your kind response!! And thanks for the support too!! :D

  6. How did you come up with the name Spartagus? I love the helmet and mystery behind it.

  7. Hello Catherine.

    Hmm, where to start? I guess with Gus.

    For some reason dudes, guys, fellas and blokes never enjoy calling each other by their real names. It's a sign of weakness or something. Anyway, somehow, a couple of my friends (and lets not forget some family too) decided I resembled a Gorilla known as Gus. If not physically then temperamentally. And so Gus was born. That Christmas my witty parents got me a stuffed Gorilla (I still have him) and a pair of gorilla slippers...I hasten to add at this point I was in my late teens and not...eight.

    So Gus it was.

    I moved to the States where no-one knew me but everyone struggled with my name. Garth, Grrrth, was like being addressed by a Klingon convention. So the guys at work, finding out I was both Scottish and a fan of Star Trek, dubbed me Scotty. Now some people think my real name is Scot. Oh well.

    And now to the world of social media. Coming up with my online persona. I'm a movie fan. I love the scene in Spartacus where each man stands and announces "I'm Spartacus!"...a little tweak and I could announce: "I'm Spartagus". I thought people would maybe think I was spelling it wrong so I then thought about another play on words. I enjoyed 300 (love the story about the Battle of Thermopylae and Frank Miller's graphic novel) and saw a way to play on that ID with the Spartan aspect. Found me a Spartan helmet and that was it...SpartaGus was born.

    It wasn't earned in battle...or bequeathed me by a dying warrior. Sadly it was self-appointed and not half as mysterious as I've made it seem...

    I really do have a wee knife though.

    I keep it in my sock for emergencies.

    Thanks for dropping by the blog. I'm very glad to have bumped into you out in Twitterworld and look forward to many more Tweets.

  8. Hello SpartaGus!! You have made me laugh since that first tweet long ago and I'm so thankful we bumped into each other on Twitter. You enriched my blog with your wit and character and you put a smile on my face every day.

    I am currently immersed in your thriller/mystery, MONSTERS and am drawn to your characters. I'm not finished yet, so without any spoilers, can you tell me why you chose the disease which is inflicted upon Doyle? You describe this in such detail, which fascinates me. Great job.

    From social media, I hope to gain a following that might consider me worthy of spending their money on my book one fine day when I become published. In the interim, I enjoy boosting the confidence of writers because I know firsthand how daunting a task it can be at times. There are so many highs and lows to this biz and multidimensions, it can make your head spin. That we are all here for each other is fabutastic and very necessary!!

    So enjoyed this post. The cheese and your wife may or may not be part of the mouse family! Genius!! Bless her for putting up with you! I bet you keep her sides hurting from laughter.

  9. Hello Valerie!!

    I chose the disease that afflicts Doyle for a few reasons. In the grand tradition of detectives I needed mine to stand out from the pack. Making him big and ugly does that...(so I guess Tom Cruise won't be playing him in the movie version)...but of course it had to be more than that. There is a long history of "Monsters" and creatures in literature, used to express the darker emotions and thoughts of men (and women): Mr. Hyde; The Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein and then there are characters that turn it around to make people look at themselves and their prejudices, The Hunchback & The Elephant Man for example. In the movie of the Elephant Man, John Merrick says: "I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!" and that resonates deeply with me.

    Then a few years ago I saw a documentary about a woman who had a version of the same disease but it only affected her lower half. From the waist up she looked perfectly normal (if a bit skinny) but from the waist down her legs were horribly enlarged, thicker even than her waist.

    So, I had my metaphor and a disease and I fused it to a character that I really like. Sure he gets down and feels sorry for himself but its his struggle to keep his world manageable that makes him interesting to me.

    I make no bones about the fact that there is probably a lot of me in Doyle. I don't have his problems or his intelligence but I totally relate to him.

    I hope that answers your question.

    Thanks for stopping by my little blog. You can always count on me as a follower and I will definitely spend money on your book when it comes out. I've said it before but it bears saying again: you immediately befriended me, let me write all over your nice blog, pointed me in the direction of other very nice people and have put your money where your mouth is by picking up my book and reading it. I'm very grateful to you and I wish you the greatest success with your writing. You totally deserve it.

  10. All this was very interesting. It's nice to learn what makes each person unique.

    My question: if you could write one (and only one) book, what elements would we, your readers, find in it?

    What do I expect from social media? Since writing keeps me busy, and contracts supply the glue that adheres my backside to the desk chair, my socializing face to face has been severely cut back. At times, it can get very lonely, surrounded by a make-believe world. It's nice to connect with others, and online is a great way to do it. Plus, you don't have to get all dolled up before you visit. :-)

    I'd love to reach as many readers as possible, and would hope they'd become fans of my books. I've worked a long, long time to reach this point in my life, and I'd love to see the payoff in reader enthusiasm.

    And thanks for the much needed support this evening! I was really feeling down.

  11. Hi K.D. (or do you prefer Kathaleen?)

    If I could write only one story, I'm sure it would be like a good Scottish Stew - lots of different elements all thrown together. I've written everything from the macabre to the fantastical, and all points in between, so would not hesitate to have spaceships arriving in a magical forest to stop the marriage of two vampire spys.

    Ok, maybe not.

    I concentrate on building strong characters and I think that's something you would definitely see in my Single Story Extravaganza! I enjoy character interplay, more than descriptive passages, and I revel in looking deep into a character's psyche to find the "truth". Normally this sort of thing propels my stories.

    I can fully understand your feelings of loneliness as a writer. It is a solitary art, necessary for the writer to find their own voice but, sometimes, its nice to listen to someone else.

    The writing community appears to be one built from a point of mutual understanding and it's been a pleasant surprise for me as a relative newcomer to the social media world.

    Thanks for spending a little time over on this silly little blog. Don't hesitate to holler at me on Twitter and don't give up on it never know who you might bump into or what they might say.

  12. Hmmmm. I don't know what question to ask. I'll answer yours first and by the time I'm done with that maybe I'll have a question for you.

    What I want from social networking is just that - a network. To physically meet so many people in the field of writing would require me to attend a lot of conventions. I don't know how else would be possible to achieve the same end. It's just a much more efficient way to meet people I consider kindreds. I'm supporting others in my own small way and I am presenting the *real me* even if the name I use is a pseudonym.

    If a conversation starts on Twitter and we have more to say to each other than a few tweets, we usually move it to emails.

    Just as I have different levels of friendship in the real world, there are similar levels in the online world but with online it rarely moves beyond simple networking. Every once in a while I've met other bloggers or tweeters, that if we lived nearby, we'd probably become real-life friends too.

    Everyone is at different stages in their writing careers and as much as I love making a connection that could really benefit me, I also love being that connection to someone else. I guess this sums up best what it is I enjoy about social networking.

    So okay, I did come up with a question for you. It's the same one you asked of us. What do you want from online social networking? Well, two, I guess. The other question is Does What you get equal what you want?

  13. Hi Madison.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    To answer your question(s) well, I would say I wanted to broaden both my contact and knowledge base in the writing world. Forums and Critique groups are good for peer to peer stuff, picking up pointers and buffing the old WIP for an assault on the publishing world. What I like about Twitter is that both newbies and old heads, authors and publishers, editors and agents all inhabit the same space and it's possible to get a wider view of the publishing scene. I agree with you about it being a much more efficient way to "bump" into people in the business and pick up information as I go.

    What has definitely surprised me is how supportive writers as a group seem to be of each other. Of course, there are the continual word-wars about trad publishing versus indie publishing but as a whole, the group seems to be very supportive. I would say that's been my biggest eye opener, as far as "what I get" from the social networking compared to what I expected. I even think if I vanished one day in a puff of blue smoke a couple of people might even notice...and maybe even send out a search party...maybe not, but that has definitely been the biggest surprise to me.

    I feel I've learned a lot in a very short space of time and its up to me to try and put that stuff into my writing. I am wary of listening to too much and losing my own voice but at the same time it's clear to me that to be taken seriously as a writer, by my peers or by a future agent, I have to put in the hard work and cross my fingers.

    And that is something I've always believed...LUCK plays a huge part in anything you do. To achieve your goals you have to work hard, but at the same time you need a little help, a nudge, a push, a door opened for you...a little luck along the way. You make your own luck by being in the right place at the right time but it's still luck. Call it Serendipity...or Karma...either way, without it I doubt I will get where I want to in writing.

    I hope that long, rambling response answered your question Madison. Thanks again for stopping by my wee blog.

  14. (Rubs hands gleefully) Hi SpartaGus! Been buried in NaNoWriMo. Missed you! goes. The question that has been burning the minds of everyone:

    What type of cheese? ;)

    Miss you hon. :D

  15. Hi Maureen!

    Thanks for stopping by and poking my lifeless body with a sharp stick. As you can see, I'm still alive and if you give me just a few more minutes I'll get up off the ground and do something productive.

    So as not to distract the inimitable Zencherry from her NaNoWriMo too much, here is the soothing answer to the burning question:

    Scottish Cheddar of course.

    Nothing fancy. Just a block of sharp, orange, cheesy goodness. Thank you. Now since Scottish cheddar is unavailable to me over here in the States I have found a worthy stand-in in the form of Wisconsin Extra-sharp cheddar...also orange, also good.

    I am no connoisseur, I leave the Brie, the Stilton, and other diabolical cheeses to other members of my family to try. My dad has been known to partake of a cheese platter from time to time, sampling the wares and washing it down with a syrupy glass of Port, or a glass (or three) of wine.

    I hope that answers your question and allows you to concentrate fully on your NaNoWriMo project!

    And do not fear, I will catch up with you again somewhere in Twitterland...and the mayhem can continue. Until then, good luck with your writing, your blogging and any other mischief you get involved with. It has been my incredible good fortune to bump into some great people over on Twitter and you @zencherry are one of the very best.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  16. Oooo now sharp cheddar be the best of the best. I'm with you on this one though I've not had the fortune of having Scottish Cheddar to turn up on my plate. (Makes notes) It sounds delicious!

    I once found myself in France w/delicious cheeses stacked in artistic arrays of yumminess behind a shop's window. Alas. The pockets had only lint and with my continued staring: Now drool.

    One of these days. (Shakes fist to the heavens and cries out in Marlon Brando voice) One of these DAYS! (Hey...I sound too much like a man there...) *clears throat* That's better.

    And as for the last little bitty bit you's YOU who are the awesomeness of the Twitterverse and beyond ond ond ond. (Hey, dig my echo effects?)

    Amazing how long I can go on when not constrained by a 140 char limit, no?

    So...I'll shut up now. (Hugs)

  17. Ok Gus here ...The question....
    Write a Book that YOU love but the sale's of the book is ... let's say not good..or write a book that you HATE(really hate)and Hit the Amazon Bestseller List...or any other list?
    I'm here (twitter)for the fun of it and to meet people like you (writers who wrote the Books that i read)
    i like this post Gus

  18. Hi Staury -

    This one is easy. I've already experimented with it you see.

    I wrote a book - Monsters, which I really love. It took me forever to get it done and it's the first novel I ever FINISHED. I threw it up on Kindle and I sold a few copies but I haven't made any kind of money from sales. I'm happy with that though because there was never any expectation.

    Now, don't get me wrong if I wrote something I liked and it was a huge hit I'd gladly take everyone's money for it and pile it up on the floor and lie in it giggling like a fool. That's not the primary reason I write though.

    I have to wrote for myself though. I couldn't write a Twilight because I find those characters detestable. There's no pride in being mediocre. If I'm going to be successful, I'm going to do it writing stuff I enjoy so that when I sell it to people, such as you, I can honestly say I tried hard to make it the best I could.

    I hoe that answers your question. If it doesn't I'm sure you'll find me on Twitter and get the answer out of me.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  19. LOL ...Ok Gus i will find you and i will get the answer because you left something out ... read my question again...


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