Do You Have Angst?: 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

You Never Know Unless You Try

Many see New Years as a reset button.  The start of every year is an excuse to shed the past and start anew.  This belief is so prevalent that people make resolutions committing themselves to their goals.  Losing weight, writing books, finishing college, getting better jobs, and setting goals for better dreams.

My parents always taught me that, no matter what, you have to try.  Trying isn't easy, it’s not comfortable.  You have to want something enough to step outside your personal comfort bubble.  You have to come to terms that you will fail.  Your body may not be able to handle an Iron Man triathlon no matter how much you train.  You may ask the cute girl (or boy) to hang out only to be told no over and over again.  You may write something, sculpt something, compose something, or paint something so awful that burning it still won’t remove that mess from your memory.  But if you don’t try, will it ever happen?

I believe in trying.  I've been called short, slow, chubby, old and balding (jerks), and lots of other things.  But in spite of labels, guess what has happened?  I ran two marathons.  I've climbed 3 mountains over 14,000 feet tall.  I've written a novel, almost two!  I've been married for 20 years!  I have two amazing kids who try, and succeed.  I have some of the most incredible and loyal friends in the world.  How?  Because I tried.

I've never been a fast runner, but I always keep going.  I’m far from the healthiest guy in the world, but I set a goal and climbed those mountains.  I can tell a good story, but my writing is atrocious and takes a team of people, and I call on them all the time.  My marriage can be a roller coaster  but I don’t give up.  I've known my oldest friend for 34 years, and we still talk every week.  My youngest friend is 23, and I look forward to that day when we've known each other 34 years and can say the same thing about her (I’ll be 75, yikes!)  Why?  Because I tried.  I put effort into everything important to me.

I get asked all the time, how did I write a novel?  Nobody wants to hear the simple truth that I sat down and just wrote it.  Sure, I had to outline, and rewrite, and take breaks, and re-commit myself to finishing what I set out to do over and over again.  I had to take time away from my life, my family, my friends, my other goals.  Everything you choose to do requires sacrifice.  But I did it, and in the end I wrote something that people have been kind enough to read – some of them even like it.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions because I live my dreams.  Not the lottery dreams of fake fortune and temporary flash.  I’m talking about those goals that become a part of your life.  As my High School Marching Band director used to say, “Ask the cute girl to the dance.”  Make new friends by asking.  Set almost-realistic goals and live them.  Lose that weight and enjoy being healthy.  Climb that mountain.  Write that book.  Fail, a lot.  We learn by failing.  Find a way to buy your house.  Earn that million dollars if that’s what makes you feel successful.  It’s all possible, but only if you try!

I believe in trying, because if you don’t try, it will never happen.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oops, I may have accidentally written two books…

So…I may have written two books by accident.  Funny story, really.  I was about 120,000 words into the sequel with the realization that to fit everything I want into Buried in Angst I would need to add at least another 60,000 words!  (In perspective, Angst is roughly 125,000 words.)  That's not unheard of.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is 175,000ish, so it could work.  The problem is that the story felt squished, like I was trying to fit in too much.  I had promised myself more character development, and more details about events from Angst that readers had asked about - and those things were getting set aside for more story story story.

I was speaking with a friend who made the obvious suggestion that maybe these were actually two different books.  It took awhile for that to sink in because I was so locked into how the 2nd book ends that I just couldn't see past that to split the book in half.  After sitting on this idea for several weeks, it finally hit me that she was right.

I've been so determined to make Angst 2 better and bigger and more than the first, that I lost sight of some things that are important to me about my writing.  It's my goal to make my novels fun, compelling with a few twists and surprises, while keeping the story an easy read.  Trying to throw in too much was taking away from this.

This means (!!!!!!) that I'm almost done with the rough draft for book 2.  I'm in the process of reworking a few things, but after some brainstorming I'm happier than ever with how the book is going to wrap up.  (I gave my wife a hint of the ending, and it literally gave her goosebumps.  Mwa ha ha.)  I'm also excited to share that I'm also about 1/3rd done with book 3 already!  Pretty sure this is the best oops I've made since my son (just kidding).

Since this revelation I've been sharing chapters with my alpha team almost every week, and the feedback has been all positive!  Over the next two months I'll be announcing the completion of each milestone, alpha, beta, edits, and release date.  Unless I am slapped upside the head by another epiphany (please no) Buried in Angst will be 64 chapters (of awesome fun).  The alpha team has all chapters through 45, and of the 19 remaining only 5 need to be written.  If the universe doesn't hate me too much the rough draft will be done before the end of the year.

Once I flesh things out per their suggestions I'll then share with the beta team.  The beta team gets a full manuscript, and often has a different perspective than the alpha team.  I'll make further changes based on their recommendations before a final edit and release.  While that seems like a lot, Angst 2 is now closer than ever!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cookies don’t give me Angst!

ConX was a fun convention.  It was a reminder that attending conventions isn't just about book sales.  I had the pleasure of meeting several people who review books - and recently got an awesome review by @CapeRust on geek-life - be sure to check it out here

I also got two great surprises!  The first was Angst cookies!  This was one of the coolest ideas ever from my good friend Allie.  Not only does she rock the chain mail bikini at shows, but she had custom Angst cookies made in celebration of my second official appearance!  The cookies were clever and awesome and tasty!  If you live in the area be sure to check out the company Allie coordinated with to make the cookies -

The other cool surprise was Cristi in costume!  Another secret plan from Allie to have my good friend Cristi and her boyfriend show up.  It was great to see them both, but unbeknownst to me Allie had a costume waiting for Cristi - so she could help promote Angst too.

Gorgeous women in costume and delicious cookies!  I would call that a successful show!

Finally, as always we got to meet a lot of great people at ConX - be sure to check out the pictures of people posing with The Princess!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adapting to change

I just now finished a month long project to help promote my fantasy novel Angst at an upcoming Science Fiction and Fantasy convention - ConX.  My good friend Allie had the idea of making pop tab / chainmail bracelets for a gift bag the convention is giving out.  The idea was excellent, especially since it ties in with the costume she wears at the shows.  There was no knowing how long it would take.

Each bracelet took a minimum of 10 minutes to make, and the con required at least 200 bracelets.  In addition I tied an Angst bookmark to each.  If you add in the time washing the pop tabs, clipping off or bending pointy ends, and sorting out the bad ones - this project took about 40 hours.  I'm more than a little grateful my wife and daughter helped as much as they could stand: if it weren't for them I wouldn't have time to write this post.

The time spent on projects like these makes me question my sanity…well, maybe it's not that bad, but I do question the value of a time sink like this one.  I loved writing Angst.  It was like working out - I didn't always look forward to it, but I always felt good about it when I was done.  While I can't say I enjoyed spending 40 hours making bracelets, I do believe it will make for a fun con.  But, it really makes me question how I spend my time and what I get out of it.

When I wrote Angst, I was mostly driven by ego.  I was frustrated with most aspects of my life and I needed to accomplish something.  I self-published because I wanted the instant gratification brought from actually completing a novel.  That was almost 2 years ago, and life changes a lot.  My family has changed - my daughter started High School and my son is 1,200 miles away at college now.  Relationships change.  The world continues to change.  With all of this and more I find that my ego has changed too.  When I started writing the sequel to Angst, I wrote simply to fill the void.  Writing itself can be fulfilling - I always feel great after I've hammered out a few pages, especially if I like them.  But it has been uninspired, and while I enjoy what I've written it hasn't been the same as writing Angst.

Now that the dust of summer has settled and my time is once again becoming my own, I've begun to reassess.  I've been looking at all of the ways I have spent my time doing over the last several years.  Some have been fulfilling while others make me smack my forehead and say "what in the world was I thinking", which means change.  It's hard to spend less time and focus, or even walk away from those things you've spent a lot of time on, whether it be relationships, jobs, passions, hobbies… each of these things has a personal value to you that only you can measure.  But if you don't adapt to the changes around you, you will never achieve your goals.

There are some things in my life I need to spend less time doing, but writing isn't one of them.  As much as I loved writing Angst, I feel that maybe I wrote it for the wrong reasons and because of this the results were different than I expected.  My original drive to "climb a mountain because it is there" has passed, my frustrations with life have calmed, and they haven't made Angst a movie yet so the path to riches and fame seems a bit longer ;) .

Maybe there is a little bit of ego left pushing me forward, but now it's more than that.  I'm driven by a desire to see the story told (and it's going to be a hell of a story) but more importantly I'm inspired by everyone who has read Angst and enjoys it.  Whether it is a tweet thanking me for writing Angst, a review on Amazon saying the book made them laugh out loud, or a blog post where I can really tell the reader understood what I was trying to say…  It's fulfilling in a way I hadn't expected and I'm quickly coming to realize what truly drives me to write.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Signing at Con X Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention – September 14th – 16th in Kansas City

In two short weeks I’ll be participating in the 1st Con X Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Kansas City from September 14th through 16th.  This is my second show, and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and showcasing my first fantasy novel Angst.  This is going to be more than just a book signing, check out some of the fun things planned for this show:

  • Wield the full size replica fantasy sword of Chryslaenor, the giant sword from Angst!
  • Purchase a signed copy of Angst with the new cover!
  • Free poster for the first 100 people who purchase a copy of Angst!
  • My friend Allie has once again agreed to be my spokesmodel for Angst at ConX! 
  • 200 attendees at the show will receive a chain-mail bracelet and an Angst bookmark in their ConX gift bag!

ConX looks to be a lot of fun with a great lineup of guests – be sure to check out their site to see who is coming!  For only $20 you can meet them, and me!  I can’t wait to see you there!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The End is More Important than the Beginning

When I first wrote Angst, I was in a panic about chapter one.  I was seriously considering seeking out an agent or a publisher, and knew how crucial that first chapter could be to selling my novel.  It wasn't until long after I had released my fantasy novel as self-published did I realize that I can't really remember the beginnings of most books I've read.  Just the opposite, it's always how the book ends that sticks with me.  It's the ending that made me hate putting down great stories, the ones that left me longing to know what happens to the characters next - that's what stood out.  

The Belgariad by David Eddings is a great example and one of my all-time favorite series.  Every book ending made me want more, and when the first series was over I was saddened.  I loved the characters, and was hungry to know what happened next.  After reading Eddings' books several more times I was awarded with his sequel series The Malloreon.  It was similar to The Belgariad like Shakespeare's Henry IV part one is similar to part two - they are practically the same story but I didn't complain; I considered it a gift.  If the book ending is good enough, I'll pick up the sequel.  If the series is good enough, I'll read it again.

The last dozen chapters of my first fantasy novel, Angst, was a flurry of furious writing.  I was so caught up in the events of the story that I couldn't stop.  I knew the ending, but I wanted to know how they got there - so I kept going.  I also knew that, while there could be a sequel, there didn't have to be.  Angst could stand alone, even though I included several things that would lead into more books.

A good stand alone novel wraps up all of those loose threads and provides you with a sense of completion.  You've been with the heroes throughout the story, and should reap the rewards a good novel provides.  When reading a series, the plot threads and amazing characters should make you hunger for more.  Throw in a cliffhanger and you should be desperate for the next novel.  The last book in the series should be so satisfying, that the hours you spent on the journey are worth it.

As I approach the end of Buried in Angst, I find myself being more cautious (for now).  This is the second book, but not the last, which changes my goals in how the story ends.  I want to wrap up this novel in a way that everyone feels a sense of completion after reading it.  At the same time I have to continue growing the world of Ehrde and the challenges Angst and his friends will face.  My intent is not closure, but that the end of this book will pull readers into the third, while providing story arcs that will entertain until the last.

Oh, and for the record, there will be a final book.  Like The Belgariad, Angst has an ending, and I know what it is.  It will be fun, and exciting, and, I hope, make you hungry for more.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Why it is time for the Dark Knight series to end!

Most films series are doomed after the sequel.  Superman and Superman II were amazing, Superman III wasn't.  Batman and Batman Returns were great films too, but then they added nipples to the costume and it all went to hell.  Maybe it wasn't just the nipples… Hollywood's constant drive for bigger, better, more tends to push aside the original inspiration that made the first films so incredible, in favor of easy cliché storytelling and big budget effects.  (Of course, then there is Green Lantern which crammed all three films into one.)

Christopher Nolan has done an amazing job with this current run of Bat-films.  The stories are smart, the acting is great, and he has really delivered a darker Batman that many fans wanted to see.  I'm glad he's done.  Nolan has announced, quite emphatically, that he is not making any more Batman films.  Often, this is a director or actor's best bargaining chip for more money.  I think, and I hope, that this isn't the case.

There is something to be said about knowing when to stop.  The series has been amazing, and if the 3rd movie is anywhere near as good as the first two - he's done something that we rarely get from movieland.  I think it is honorable to finish when things are good.  Look at Star Wars.  While I never hated I, II and III - critics and fans have vilified Lucas for these films.  Nolan could keep going, make more great movies, or he could slip up, add nipples to the costume, and it's game over.

Just like every comic book artist has a vision for what a character should look like, I want to see what other film makers can do with Batman.  Tim Burton provided us great Batman movies in the 80s/90s that were completely different than Nolan's Batman.  We know there will be more Batman films, and I want to see what someone else does.

It's harrowing writing a sequel.  A lot of writers hate their work.  Yeah, well, I don't.  I'm fond of Angst, I think it's fun.  I want the sequel to be better, which I've found to be a daunting task.  I seriously considered not writing more Angst novels for the same reasons I am wary about Hollywood sequels, but I always had a vision in mind of how to continue the adventure.

I think that's what makes it work.  Writers and producers and directors that milk a franchise for every dime often lose sight of their original intent and end up tarnishing the series.  This is why I believe that Nolan will give us an amazing finale to the Dark Knight series, and this is why I'm going to keep writing Angst - until I'm done.

Monday, May 28, 2012

ConQuestKC was a success!

I feel like a wrung out sponge, and while I officially declare this Nap Day my brain is in go mode after attending my first Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention ConQuestKC, so I really need to share.  I had a blast!  The show was a lot of fun to attend.  I had the opportunity to meet some great people, interact with talented writers, and sell some books.  My attendance at ConQuestKC will encompass several posts.  Today I'm going to share my enthusiasm in regards to the fun aspects of the show.  I will also post about the prep work that went into making the show successful for me, and finally I will post my thoughts for anyone who is considering participating in similar shows and the business side of attending.

A sincere thank you to everyone who organized ConQuestKC, and kept it running smoothly.  It's like a special-effects laden movie; you only notice if the special effects are bad.  The fates were against the organizers.  The Sheraton is under heavy construction so parking was limited, the lobby almost inaccessible, and getting from the dealer room to the meeting rooms where panels were hosted was a trek.  The show, for me anyway, still went incredibly smooth.  It could have been a disaster and I barely noticed the inconveniences.

A special shout-out to Kat Donavan and her partner in crime, Nick "McKay" Seddon.  Kat was amazing at organizing the panels and keeping everyone on task; I'm already looking forward to next year.  I had the pleasure of participating in several panels with McKay; he is both knowledgeable of all things geek and he kept the topics fun and positive.

I'm sure Allie is already tired of my gratitude, but at least half the books I sold were because of her braving the costume and inviting people into the booth.  As she would say, she totally rocked the chain mail costume I made, and the other costumes she brought to the Con!  It takes more than hotness to inspire the buzz she created.  A traditional 'booth babe' can draw the eye, but it takes an intelligent, confident and well-spoken person like Allie to really inspire that great a reaction.  Those who had the pleasure to meet Allie can understand why she is one of my best friends, and I couldn't have done the show without her!

My lovely wife and editor, who is also the most patient and understanding woman on Earth, did an awesome job of keeping me on task as I prepared for ConQuestKC over the last several months.  She also covered the booth and answered questions throughout the Con as I attended panels and Allie posed with attendees.  Thanks Angie!

I met some great people at ConQuestKC, and we were fortunate enough to be neighbors with some of the coolest people at the Con!  Chamber of Champions is an online hobby game store based in central Iowa.  It was a pleasure meeting Diane, Scott, Mac and Keegan.  You definitely need to follow them if you use Facebook or Twitter, and keep an eye out for their website which is under construction but will be open for business soon!

I had the pleasure of getting to meet and host panels with several talented authors, including Dennis Young, author of Secret Fire; Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of The Worker Prince; Tori St. Claire, author of Stripped; and Ursula Vernon, author and illustrator of Digger.  Needless to say I walked away with more books than I have time to read, and I'm looking forward to hiding away with them once I'm done with my Buried in Angst.

If ConQuestKC was to be measured solely on the people I met, I can't imagine attending a more successful show!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Find your Angst at the ConQuestKC Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

I’m too excited for this coming weekend’s convention!  Below is my schedule for booth time and a list of panels I’ll be participating in.   Be sure to stop by and visit if you’re at the Con!

ConQuestKC is this coming Memorial Day Weekend -- May 25-27, 2012. Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, Kansas City, MO  You can learn more about the show on their site 

Friday                   05-25-12
12:00 Dealer room opens
5:00   Benton Room B  Star Wars: The Saga Continues: Movies, TV, Books, Games, oh my!  The Star Wars universe continues to expand with new books, video games, and movie re-releases.  Not to mention the Clone Wars cartoon and the in the works TV Series!
6:00  Dealer room closes
6:00  Benton Room B  Cancelled before their time: A Discussion on the favorite TV shows that could have used another season or five as well as theories on where the plotlines would have taken us.

Saturday              05-26-12
10:00 Dealer room opens
5:00  Atlanta Ballroom The Campbell Conference  -- Some authors are ditching the print industry all together and making a nice living off of the self publishing and novella trade for ebook.  We'll talk about the different writing styles of the two markets and why one might be more for you than another.
6:00  Dealer room closes

Sunday                 05-27-12
10:00     Dealer room opens
11:00     Benton Room B  Star Trek: The saga continues. New movies, books, video games. Why is star trek the voyage that keeps on going?
2:00       Northrup Room  Family Friendly and Hopeful:  Yesterday's SciFi  - Relive the good old days of Lost in Space, Star Trek, and Stargate, where the good guys always won and the heroes never died.  Can this style of Scifi survive in the world today, or is the failing of a show like Terra Nova a sign that the lighter side of the genre is dead?
4:00       Dealer Room Closes 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Inspiration from Fantasy Art

I love art, but I’ve never had an eye for it.  I tell people it is because I’m red-green color blind (the same excuse I use for the clothes I wear) but the truth is I could be completely blind for much of it.  For example, show me modern art and often I just don’t get it.  Throw around terms, or styles, or periods, and you may as well be talking in programming code.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire the artist, and that they are expressing themselves, but often my little-art-brain just doesn’t get it.

Thankfully, there is fantasy art.  Amazing people can take the type of stuff that I enjoy writing and visualize it enough to paint it, or draw it, or medium-of-your-choice-it.  This blows my mind because I can’t draw a meaningful curved line if my life depended on it.  Give me a ruler, and I’ll make you a box.  That’s all I’ve got.

Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at the Spectrum Fantastic Art show in Kansas City with my wife and daughter.  This wasn’t a typical fantasy show with writers and and costumed fans, throw in some talented local artists and voila you have a fun weekend.  This was about art, and some amazing people that express their love of everything fantasy through their art.

First, I’m glad I didn’t come prepared to buy anything.  There were original pieces being sold for over $20K.  Angie and I had a fun conversation of how amazing it would be to decorate an entire house with paintings from this show.  Everything was on display, including traditional fantasy, commercial, and erotica (according to my 13 yo daughter, there were too many boobs).

Second, it was inspiring.  I’ve been told many times that you are supposed to read A LOT in your genre.  I don’t.  The last thing I want to do is accidentally steal or borrow from someone else’s work.  There have been plenty of occasions that I’ve said, “Damn, I would write something like that!”  So I’m careful when I read and see things, but this show was full of what-if inspirations.  “I could do this in the next Angst novel!” came to mind multiple times.  It wasn’t about stealing artist’s ideas and fitting them into my stories, their art became triggers for ideas that will grow into their own.  I’m excited.

Finally, I got to meet people.  A Twitter friend, Eric Wieringa kindly asked me to visit his booth.  It was a pleasure to meet Eric and see his amazing work.

The highlight of my weekend was seeing old friends Jeff Miracola and his lovely and talented wife Silvia Acevedo .  Jeff’s work with Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, and his children’s book Monster Isle  is both highly acclaimed and well known.  Everything Silvia has accomplished is equally impressive, and the biography on her site doesn’t even scratch the surface of what she has done.  To say it was a treat to see them both is an understatement, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.  I brought them a copy of Angst, and then we had a good laugh over how ‘excited’ they were to receive it.  It was good fun, and Jeff provided some great advice for the fantasy show, ConQuestKC, I get to participate in next week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

KC Comic Book and Gaming Stores: ConQuestKC Pre-show Promotion

My friend Allie and I had a lot of fun Saturday driving around Kansas City and visiting with local Comic Book and Gaming store owners!  I had hoped that some of the stores would be willing to hang posters I had printed promoting my participation in ConQuestKC.  The results of these visits were even better than I could have expected.

Soon, several of the stores will be stocking Angst, and I’m excited to announce that A to Z Comics in Blue Springs, MO has copies on their shelves now!  A number of stores have offered to host book signings as well over the summer.

Not only was it a pleasure to meet everyone, but I’m both touched, and excited at the response.

Below you will find a list of some awesome stores in the Kansas City area.  These are great places to do business, and I highly encourage everyone to stop by and check out their stores!

A to Z Comics
1300 SW Us Highway 40
Blue Springs, MO 64015

TableTop Game & Hobby
6990 West 105th Street
Overland Park, KS  66212

31st Century Games
2113 East 151st Street
Olathe, KS  66062

B Bop Comics South
5336 West 95th Street
Prairie Village, KS 66207

Big City Comix and Games 
12317 State Line Road
Kansas City, MO 64145

Elite Comics
11842 Quivira Rd
Overland Park, KS 66210

Pulp Fiction
1100 Southeast Blue Parkway
Lee's Summit, MO 64063

Saturday, April 28, 2012

1st Book Signing at Fantasy and Science Fiction Convention

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be attending my first Science Fiction and Fantasy convention over Memorial Day weekend – ConQuest.  I’m really looking forward to participate, and I’m coming prepared.  I didn’t want to just bring a big pile of books, so I have a few things planned.  Booth visitors will be able to:

  • Pose with a full size replica fantasy sword of Chryslaenor, the giant sword from Angst (sorry, no lightning…this time)
  • Purchase a signed copy of Angst with the new cover
  • Purchase a digitally signed copy of Angst ebook for your Kindle or Nook
  • Sneak peek at the upcoming sequel: Buried in Angst

Best of all, my good friend Allie has agreed to be my spokesmodel for Angst at ConQuest! I’m smart enough to realize that, while I’m fun to talk to, she is a lot more fun to look at when visiting the Angst booth!

Please be sure to stop by the show, say hi, and pick up your copy of Angst!  ConQuest 43 takes place May 25-27, 2012 at Sheraton Crown Center in Kansas City, MO.  You can find out more about attending ConQuest here:

Be sure to visit next week, and I’ll share some of the work that has gone into preparing for Conquest!