Do You Have Angst?: 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Came In Like a Wrecking Ball

Holy crap what happened to 2013! There I was working hard to complete the rough draft of Buried in Angst and BAM my creative energies are suddenly focused on cheap, er, thoughtful Christmas presents. (Someone tell my why it’s a faux pas to give pictures of yourself every year? I even sign them, and my parents just roll their eyes.)

2013 has been an amazing year! I completed and released Buried in Angst, and some people don’t hate it! Cristi became my official spokesmodel and totally rocked it! We went to 3 times as many conventions as I did in 2012. Angst made it into the Amazon top 100 Fantasy Books for a weekend. Yeah, a few things got accomplished and I feel pretty good about the year…but let’s do it again, this time with feeling!

2014 has all the signs of bigger, better, more! I’m deep, deep into Drowning in Angst (more than 5 pages, I promise) and am confident it will be done and released in 2014.  The main story is mostly written, but I’m taking my time to mold the various plotlines so they remain big without weighing themselves down. Most important, I’m having a lot of fun with the story and I hope you will too!

Cristi has agreed to hang with me for another year as we revisit some of the cons we went to last year and branch out to new ones. Our schedule starts at Visioncon in Branson, MO the weekend of February 28th! I should also have a new costume ready for her as long as she, and my lovely, thoughtful, and forgiving wife approve.

And to start 2014 off right, I’ll be announcing a new contest in several weeks. If you participated in my last contest, you know I make it easy to win something – so check back here, or sign up for my newsletter for the announcement.

Thanks to everyone for a fantastic year, and I hope you have an angst free holiday season!

(Oh, and regarding the ‘Wrecking Ball’ title, I was going to follow up my I Don’t Hate Twilight post with a Why I Don’t Hate Miley Cyrus post, but my wife said no.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Don't Hate Twilight

I had to step away from writing for a couple of weeks because of the day job and am just now shaking off some stress and a few very late nights. The air is pretty sweet now that my head is above water, and I'm looking forward to getting my groove back on. Feeling things out, I hopped onto the Amazon pages for my fantasy novels Angst and Buried in Angst. I was excited to see several new reviews, all 4 and 5 stars. It's enough to keep a writer writing.

The story was different on Goodreads, however. I received a 1 star review from a nice woman who just couldn't get into my book. I also found Angst is on a book list of Terrible Books!!! (I'll get to that in a minute.) I have to admit, after these last few weeks the 1 star was a kick when I didn't need it.

I know, I know… "just let it roll off", "ignore the reviews", "look at the people who do like your books". In response, I first wrote a blog post that was a rant that my 2 years of hard work was worth more than 1 star. My 2nd unpublished post was all the snarky comments I've ever wanted to leave to negative reviewers (some are actually kinda funny).  My 3rd post was about how reviews should require you finish the book. Then I calmed myself.

The thing is, the lady who posted that review actually messaged me on Twitter, and she was really nice! This wasn't the bitter comic book store guy from up the street who put me on the Terrible Book list…she genuinely tried to read my book and just couldn't get into it. So after fighting back my ego with some vodka and turning down my rant-dial to 2 (there is no 1 or 0), I tried to figure out what I could learn from this.

A click later and I find my 1 star reviewer is a huge fan of vampire romance novels.  Twilight urban fantasy type books filled with guys better looking than Angst and characters with lots of, well, angst. I've never read one of these; I'm sure they are very entertaining for their audience, and that's exactly what this is all about.

I admire Stephenie Meyer a lot. She has entertained millions with her books and more with the movies based on her novels. I actually saw Twilight in the theater opening weekend (it was a sneak attack by my wife, I didn't have a clue) and being one of four men in the theater (all with bags over our heads) and twice the age of the average audience member - I knew this wasn't going to be for me. Between my groans of pain and the noisy squeals of delight for Robert Pattinson, I honestly thought that Stephenie was a genius. Not only has Miss Meyer found her audience, she has given them exactly what they want. What more could a writer ask for?

So, I have to thank the nice Twitter lady who gave Angst a try even though it wasn't really her thing. I also need to redouble my efforts on seeking out my audience and not someone else's so I can continue giving them what they want.

Oh, and as for that Terrible Books list on Goodreads. My lovely wife pointed out that I'm in very good company. ;)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Love Sequels!

I totally nerd-out when I find out one of my favorite books or movies is going to reproduce into a series, but not everyone feels the same. Recently Angry Nerd on Wired ranted about Pixar being a sell-out because of producing more sequels than new content.  While I do want to see new stories as much as anyone, I don't completely agree.

Whether writing, reading, or watching, I invest myself in characters. The best books I've read leave me feeling like I'm going to miss old friends when they are done. I care about the characters and want to know what happens next in their lives. The first story is often about character origins, world building and rule making. It's important, but when done well always leaves me wanting for more. A good sequel can provide the meat and potatoes to that origin story. Superman II - The Dark Knight - X2 X-Men United - are all great examples of films that were better than the first. Sometimes sequels can fix what was broken. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and The Wolverine both come to mind as films that outshine their predecessors. I didn't hate Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and I didn't love X-Men Origins: Wolverine - but the sequels blew them away.

Do they ever need to end? Recently, Kevin Feige of Marvel Comics has stated that Iron Man movies will continue to be a thing.  "I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th." While that may seem like a large number, since 1966 there have been 8 batman films. There are now 23 James Bond films to date and Skyfall is considered one of the best (a successful sequel title according to angry nerd). I believe it heavily depends on quality, a willing audience, or both. David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean series comprised 10 books that included the same main characters, and I loved all of them. While I haven't read them in years, it looks like Piers Anthony is now up to 38 Xanth books!

I get antsy with my writing, excited to share more Angst but at the same time I really look forward to wrapping it up so I can tackle other stories. I have no intent to stop until this series is done, or rush through to finish it - but there this other idea I have for Angst that I may need to tackle one day. I think would be a lot of fun if everyone hasn't suffered burnout by then.

New stories versus sequels, which do you prefer? As for Pixar, they have my permission to stop what they are doing and get busy with Incredibles 2!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I think I made a mistake

I've got 8,000 Twitter followers now and it's easy to lose people in the mob. I follow those with similar interests, they follow me back, and some of them even try Angst. I actually try to pick out people from the automated messages, try to make friends, but I've lost some along the way. Since each follower is important to me, I try to know who they are. It's not easy. I attempt to participate in Twitter conversations, or comment on tweets, but honestly, I'm bad at it. Or, I'm too careful, you can't see facial expressions in a tweet, or an instant message, or a text message - and I'd hate for anyone to take what I say the wrong way. Maybe that's cowardice, but I've learned that 1000 compliments can be lost in one off remark.

For the most part, I don't base characters on people. Those who know me will poke fun at that and all I can say is write what you know. I do a lot of 'head-nods' to friends. "A mane of hair", "A reader", and "foot stomp" all come from something or someone even if those characters aren't truly based on the individual. I only do this when it works, and as a way to show my appreciation. Most of the time it works really well, and Rose is a great example of that.

I may have made a mistake with another character. I get caught up in my own clever sometimes and in the storm lost one of my long-time Twitter followers. I received a tweet after the first book asking if their name could be included in the sequel. 

I thought the idea was genius, so much so that I included a handful of Twitter friends’ names in Buried in Angst. The characters weren't based on them, I don't know any of them close enough to do that, but I wanted to thank those that stuck with me through the long gap between Angst and Buried in Angst. I wanted to thank the people that really supported me in spite of not even knowing who I am. I couldn't include everyone, but I tried including a handful, and so I used names.

Several thought it was coincidence, or surreal. I received a few thanks, but one person I lost completely as a follower. Maybe it's because I used the name for a "bad guy", which is not at all what I thought of them. It's also possible they hated the sequel and ran away screaming (trust me, I worried about that for everyone). More than likely, it has nothing to do with me and their life doesn't revolve around my two books. (Which I find hard to believe, who isn't checking every day for news of Drowning in Angst or Angst the Movie?)

If I did, in any way, offend that person - my sincere apologies.

I felt the idea was fun and inclusive, but, as my wife will contend, I'm not a mind reader. It's impossible to know how someone will take something, even something they ask for. While, stubbornly, I still think this is a fun idea, I doubt I'll be naming characters after people any time soon (not unless they promise no hate!) Writing takes a lot of my time, all of my brain, much of my soul - and it should all be for fun. The last thing I ever want to do is offend or upset.


The good news is, this was a misunderstanding on my behalf. When Buried in Angst was released, I received a message they had purchased it and were going to read it right away. Months later they hadn't said anything about seeing their name, and it was unique enough they would have noticed. When I noticed that they no longer followed me on Twitter, I feared the worse.

Since writing this blog post, we have emailed and they just haven't had time to read. (Which falls into the category "More than likely, it has nothing to do with me and their life doesn't revolve around my two books." Still hard for me to fathom, lol.) They also mentioned having no issue with being a "bad guy".

That said, I think this is a fun idea but if I were ever to choose to do this in the future, I would ask first.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Angst: Officially a Best Seller!

I do a LOT of marketing for my fantasy novels Angst and Buried in Angst, probably more than I should. I enjoy that side of it, and it makes me feel like I'm doing something when not writing. Lately I've been looking for ways to promote Angst outside of conventions. I love them, but they are expensive and I'm pretty sure I've eaten up all Cristi's vacation days (both away from work, and away from her boyfriend!)

That said, I don't always feel like I've even come close to finding my audience. The cons are great, Twitter and Facebook work well, but nothing has truly pushed Angst over the edge or even near it - everything has been slow and steady. Not a complaint, just admission that I'm still figuring this out.

Over the last month I tried advertising my books on several sites. It's been interesting, and with varying degrees of success. I'm not going to call out the ones that didn't work, because it just as easily could have been my lack of research into the genres they normally promote. The worst had 750,000 Facebook followers and cost me $50; I was sure it would generate crazy sales and was grossly disappointed. Until this weekend, the best was - they were kind enough to include me in their newsletter and I felt it was definitely successful.

Friday, September 9th, Kindle Books and Tips promoted Angst on their site. I had read good things about them on KBoards. I watched sales on Amazon throughout the day like checking score for the longest football game ever. They were slow in the morning and I figured I had just thrown away allowance for a weeks worth of Starbucks. By noon I had broken my daily sales record for Angst and was pretty excited.

If you understand ranking on Amazon, you know a hell of a lot more than most people. Angst typically fluctuates between 60k - 100k. The start of September was slow like I am on a Monday morning and I had started in the 300s! When my daily sales record broke at noon Angst reached 40K then went back to the 300s. I really wanted to call someone and tell them to fix their stuff. How do you go from a 300,000 ranking, to 40,000, back to 300,000. I took this as a sign to stop watching the pot of water; it would boil on its own.

By dinner, everything had corrected itself and Angst ranked high enough that I had to glance at the top 100 books. It's a thing. It's a total pride and ego thing, and I know that so shush, I was curious. Angst and Buried in Angst are categorized under Epic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery in the Amazon top 100 list. Those found at the bottom of the top 100 in Sword and Sorcery were ranked at about 3,000, and 4,000 in Epic (whomever wants to compete with George RR Martin please raise your hand.) Needless to say, Angst wasn't even close to the top 100 and there was no way it would happen  - which is why I kept checking.

That evening, after watching my daughter's marching band do an amazing first show of the season, I checked the score once again. People kept buying books, and to keep a long story from getting longer by 1am Angst was ranked 99th in Epic Fantasy on Amazon! (It was pretty noisy in my office for a few minutes.)  I was beside myself, posted everywhere, and after calming down went to bed thinking that for a brief moment Angst was a best seller. That's pretty awesome. I eventually woke up Saturday morning and was amazed to find that Angst had reached the mid-80s in the top 100 for both Epic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery.

It felt good, amazing even, a little taste of what could be. Some days I feel like I work hard for every book sold, and, for a moment, this was like winning the lottery. While sales continued throughout the weekend, they are finally settling back to normal. What a fun ride! The timing of this was perfect: I have a little extra stride to my step and flair to my pen.

With all of this said, I have to shoutout Kindle Books and Tips - be sure to check them out! And to my newest readers, I hope you enjoy my Angst!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bringing some Angst to Minneapolis Metacon

We are bringing the party up north for our final convention of 2013! To wrap up our con season, we have a little extra fun planned for Metacon! If you are attending, be sure to stop by the booth and...

  • Meet Angst spokesmodel Cristi on Saturday and Sunday!
  • Wield the full size replica fantasy sword Chryslaenor, the giant sword from the Angst novels!
  • Get your free Angst bookmark, we will be giving them away all weekend!
  • Purchased an autographed copy of Angst - the first 50 people who purchase a copy will receive a chainmail bracelet and a poster!
  • Sign up for a free daily T-Shirt drawing!

I will also be hosting a panel on being an indie writer at 10:00am Sunday in Panel Room 2

Be sure to come by and see us at Metacon!

Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
1300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 30th - September 1st
Program Guide

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When I'm not writing I do a little of this..

I know I'm supposed to write every day, and when someone asks me about how to write a book that's the advice I give them. The truth is, it doesn't happen. There are days my muse is whispering sweet somethings in the ear of another (bitch). It happens, but that doesn't mean I stop.

Writing should be about 95% of what a writer does, it should always be warm and sunny for my birthday, snow should melt the day after Christmas. You get the idea. Being an indie writer means that the other 95% of my time is also spent marketing, brainstorming, and making every grassroots effort I can plant to find my audience and keep them around.

In addition to my daily writing session which I never miss ever ever, except for maybe yesterday, I do something to promote my books almost every day. Whether it's finding my audience on Twitter, writing a blog post, looking for new venues to promote through, or planning for a con - it doesn't stop after the last page.

I did some writing last weekend, but not much. (Insert guilt pang here.) On the other hand, I started working on my revised Chryslaenor sword prop (Mark III ...heh) for conventions. The current one is a little beat up, and I've gotten teased enough about my 'surfboard' and 'pizza flipper' to change up the design a little. No, this isn't writing, but believe it or not it's good marketing. There have been a lot of pictures taken with the last sword and it's fun!

We will be attending Metacon in Minneapolis at the end of the month, and I'll have some cool new signage for the convention.  (Thanks to great advice from fellow indie writer Daniel C. Nielsen - be sure to check out his blog here: ) I will also have a LOT of Cristi bookmarks to hand out.  All marketing materials I've put together this month.

Two weeks ago I created a mailing list for a newsletter. (The template I made looks pretty cool, I look forward to using it!) If you enjoy Angst and want to keep up with my book releases, please sign up! I call it a monthly newsletter, but honestly I'll only be sending it out if I have relevant book release news or something else incredibly cool comes up. Be sure to sign up here!

Finally, I've also been testing the waters with advertising through various newsletters and ebook websites. Nothing too crazy, but I've been wondering about other ways of finding readers without bribing Oprah or running a full page ad in the New York Times. (I offered $5.00 and they said no! Where's the love?) The best results I've had so far is with - great looking email newsletter, definitely not spammy, and they throw in a nice personal note to help you promote.

The time I have to spend as an indie writer isn't always spent writing, even if it's supposed to be. I do believe the best way to build and keep an audience is to write a lot of books, but between the day job, family, and naps - when writing just isn't going to happen, I feel that a little time promoting Angst every day is time well spent.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I need to tell you about my muse

In spite of having written only two fantasy novels (okay, 250,000 words is not only), I get asked why I write? What makes me do it?  Or even…How do I write? It's a big question that always surprises me. I consider myself green enough that I'm not sure I'm even budding yet. I'm far from the 500 books that Isaac Asimov wrote. (I know, right?) or the mere 12 books J.K. Rowling has penned :). Maybe I'm asked because I'm accessible. I always do my best to answer.

How to write is pretty simple. Sit down and do it. I hate telling people that. I feel like I'm giving up the magic trick, that the rabbit was actually behind my back. No matter how much flourish and courtesy I can inject into that answer, books happen when I take the time to write. They do not happen when I spend time marketing, playing video games, eating cake, flirting with girls, watching movies, or surfing the web. Sure I hit roadblocks, I take time out to outline, I run out of rum (I come across all sorts of problems) but it doesn't happen if you don't put words on paper.

Why I write? What makes me do it? That's a bit more complicated. (Not quiet Carlos Danger complicated, but there have been moments...) This is hard to admit, but I have a muse. Every day I'm shocked at how supportive she is, and how insatiable she is. Most days I'm amazed that my muse ever noticed me, but she did. It will probably not be a surprise, but she is Kate Upton gorgeous, with the grace of Anne Hathaway and unabashed like Rihanna. Oh yeah, she's all of that and more. Beautiful and bright like my friend Cristi, while loving and lovely and patient as a long summer day like my wife. I can't image anyone being more encouraging or supportive than my muse.

My muse is well read, and appreciates all things geek. He's chubby, like me, with unflattering glasses and sometimes gets winded walking up too many stairs. She works IT, spends too much time on Twitter and Facebook, is socially awkward and gets along well with everyone. She is a student of medicine, of history, of philosophy. He makes bad cosplay armor out of duct tape and is an entrepreneur at heart. She takes karate and teaches. He goes to college. She plays Magic: The Gathering and is in the band. She acts, directs, and produces. He works security and has a busy kid.

Sometimes my muse has been the day job, that often convinces me I was meant for something more. Or John and Ray who have made supportive comments to me on Twitter for years, and were the first two to read and review Buried in Angst! (Yeah, my muse has a mustache). The other day my muse was Virat, a med student in North Carolina who posted a review to Amazon.

My muse has been my wife, who tells me how proud she is of me then gives me an afternoon to hide. My muse has been my oldest friend Matt, who is on the alpha team and asks for more chapters all the time. A few minutes ago, my muse was the thoughtful person who posted to my blog to tell me they enjoyed my books and wanted to know when the next one is coming out. (Really, that's what made me write this post.) I've actually been asked what does it mean to be my muse? It means you want more.

I truly believe that every writer needs a muse, I know I couldn't write without each and every one. Whether you are a young writer or old, you have to find your muse - embrace and revel in every moment they inspire until you reach the dregs. Then, take a deep breath, and find another - inspiration is out there. My first book, Angst, was truly inspired by my life and experiences. Every book after that has been inspired by people excited about Angst and wanting for more. If you've read Angst, read Buried in Angst, and now find yourself here, guess who you have become.

So yeah, people ask me why I write? I write because of my muse.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Epic OSFest 6 in Omaha

Angie and I had the pleasure of spending July 26th-28th with some amazing people in Omaha, NE at OSFest 6. I have to shoutout everyone who put this con together and volunteered to make it happen - we both had a great time.

Matt McKeever thoughtfully invited me to participate in several panels, including a Fan Match Game based on the original game show, a fun discourse about the Philosophy of Trek, and, my favorite, the trial of JJ Abrams. If you aren't familiar with Match Game, be sure to check it out on You Tube - then imagine it with questions about Sci-Fi shows and movies!

Philosophy professor Natasha Mohr, Guest of Honor Keith R.A. DeCandido, Matt McKeever and I had a lively discussion in the Philosophy of Trek panel. We spent quite a bit of time discussing the JJ Abrams movies Star Trek and Into Darkness. It seems I spent quite a bit of time defending Mr. Abrams this weekend, because he was also put on trial.

JJ Abrams was on trial for ruining Star Trek. Matt McKeever and Matthew Rotundo were the prosecutors, there were two Klingon judges, the audience was the jury, and I was counsel for defense. The trial had me a little nervous in that Mr. McKeever is an actual attorney and very well versed in Star Trek. I'm a Trek fan with a little rust in my memory - so I prepared. I think I made the biggest impact when I paraphrased Kirk's speech from Return to Tomorrow, "Risk is our business". In a final attempt to convince everyone that a little change was okay, I yanked off my original series Captain Kirk shirt to reveal my new Captain Kirk shirt from the movies. While my ruse got some laughs, it unfortunately wasn't enough to sway the audience. Matt and Matthew won the trial, and JJ Abrams was sentenced to making Star Wars movies!

I would be amiss if I didn't thank everyone who picked up copies of my fantasy novels Angst and Buried in Angst at OSFest. I was especially flattered that so many who gave Angst a try at Demicon and ConQuesT enjoyed it enough to grab a copy of the sequel! I received a lot of encouragement this weekend to keep going, and I will!

Finally, pictures! I probably took more pictures at this convention than the others this year, there were so many amazing costumes. Lots of Klingons, I loved the barbarian horde, and plenty of cool steampunk. You will be missing out if you don't check out the pics on Google+ or Facebook!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Reviews: To Ask Or Not To Ask

An old friend from high school sent me a nice message on Facebook saying how much he loved my first fantasy novel Angst. My reaction was, of course, gratitude. I haven’t been in touch with him since High School, I didn't know he had purchased it and was happily surprised. The support means everything, both reading it and letting me know how much he enjoyed it. I really couldn't ask for anything more, but I did anyway.

It’s a funny thing promoting your novels as an indie author. You've got Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Friends and hope. Twitter makes it personal, and readers will let me know they bought a copy, then follow up weeks later with questions or to tell me how much they enjoyed it. It’s what I love about Twitter. Social media can be a lot more than shouting out to a crowd “HEY BUY MY STUFF!” Authors actually want feedback. Hearing that someone loved Angst or Buried in Angst means I did it right and makes me want to write more. Being told that it could be better and the reasons why is invaluable. I get it all from Twitter, and am glad I got on board.

Facebook is mostly about people I know and people I knew. I haven’t found the magic of leveraging Facebook for Angst other than sharing con pics. Maybe if I worked the day job less and social media'd more I would do better. That’s what made the shoutout so cool. While this wasn't the first time, it has surprised me how many friends have read my books and never said a word. People I’m close to, who I genuinely love, and I get crickets. It’s the kind of stuff that used to make me wonder “wow, was it that bad?”

Maybe this is the reason I don’t hear from them, I may ask for something, and like I said, I did. Rather than Goodreads or Amazon. I haven't really done that before, so it makes me ask, was I wrong?
leaving this nice man alone, one who took the time to read my stuff and share his thoughts, I pushed. I asked him to spread the word, to tell his friends, and maybe even make a comment on

Some would say that, under no circumstances can you ask someone you know to write a review of your stuff on Amazon or Goodreads because it’s biased. I say bunk for two reasons. My friend reviews don’t seem to be affecting the curve. I currently have 20+ reviews on both sites and only 3 or 4 are posted by friends. Of those reviews, some are actually 4 stars which is the current average. The other reason, I wouldn't hesitate to go to my friends for advice on what to purchase – their insight is just as valuable as anyone. I think there is a huge difference between saying “go post a five star review” as opposed to “spread the word and let people know what you think.”

Others might say it’s tacky to actually ask for something that isn’t freely offered. He’s already ‘shouted out’
that he loves the book, how much further does he have to go, well, other than maybe buying the 2nd. ;) I’d buy into this, maybe it is a little uncouth. It’s sort of like a friend saying “You look good in that shirt.” And you replying, “Damn, you’re right, I do look good. Please tell everyone in the room how amazing I look.” Yeah, I guess a little tacky.

On the other hand, what I do takes a lot. I think all writers work incredibly hard to provide great entertainment. For me, it has literally taken years of effort to produce my two novels, a team of dedicated and honest friends willing to critique, and throw in more than a few dollars for art and editing. Angst isn't a write and release project, it’s a production that takes time and money.

I truly believe that it won’t happen if you don’t ask. If everyone who has enjoyed my books, from closest friend to unknown reader halfway around the globe knew how important those reviews could be – most wouldn't hesitate to post something. I’ll never be that guy that sends a message begging for a five star review or annoying my audience with badgering messages to review my stuff right now or die – but I may be that guy who sends the occasional friendly reminder that what they say counts. Maybe I can live with being a little tacky.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Angst! Now with more map!

As in indie author who produces a book every 15-20 years (okay, really, it wasn't that long) I was surprised to find a learning curve between the ebook creation of Angst and Buried in Angst. Within the 2 year spread, things had changed. E-ink readers have become tablets which tend to be hungry for better cover and interior graphics. Amazon now has a tool for converting the standard epub file to their own format, a huge improvement over what I did for Angst. By request, I had also done something kind of cool for Buried in Angst, I included a map of Ehrde. All of this was an excellent reason to go back and update Angst.

After the flurry of finishing, releasing, and marketing Buried in Angst, I took the month of June to recuperate by cleaning up Angst. If you had purchased Angst from Amazon prior to the update, you may have received an email from Amazon stating that significant editorial changes had been made. Nothing in the story changed other than maybe a typo or two. I added breaks between scenes within chapters. And, mostly for fun, I added the map. I then rolled these changes out to Barnes and Nobles, Kobo, iTunes, and others so they would all be consistent.

I figured, why stop there. I also added a map to the print version. I'm obviously not a cartographer, but at the very least it provides a hint of where in Ehrde things are happening. The print version also includes numbers on the spine. It's a little thing, but I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to buy a book in a series and actually had to research to figure out which one to start with. I thought it'd be nice to take the rocket science out of this and put the numbers 1 and 2 on the spine.

Finally, I was asked for large print versions of Angst and Buried in Angst at Demicon. I'll blame my own thoughtlessness for not doing this from the beginning and am very grateful someone pointed it out.

Now that the house is clean, I'll get back to writing! Drowning in Angst is coming! (Not near as cool as Winter is Coming.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Man of Steel - Man of Angst

Before you start reading, please note that there are some spoilers in this - one of the reasons I waited so long before posting.

Everyone loves "Man of Steel", and everyone hates "Man of Steel", for completely different reasons. After seeing this movie twice, I actually scoured reviews to find the explanation I was looking for about the ending. My conclusion is that I now completely understand why Warner Bros. stuck to producing Batman movies all these years.

I tell people at conventions that Angst is about middle aged people trying to be heroes and it is funny - their response is always, "Oh, that's different." When I say, "but it's got a dark side," their eyes light up like I just let them peek in the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. I'm good with that, I believe in 'writing to your audience' and right now the world seems to relate to and enjoy things that are dark.

Batman is the dark. Want to sell more movie tickets, make him darker. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely fanboy over Nolan's run of the Batman movies. Were they a risk? Hell no. People revel in the fact that Batman is broken, they can relate to hardship and strife and the longing to right wrongs. Superman isn't dark at all, just the opposite, he's perfect - and who can relate to that?

"Superman" and "Superman II" were made for a different time, if you haven't seen them please do, they are just awesome films. Skip ahead to "Superman Returns". Had this actually been released in 1983 and been called "Superman III" it would be remembered as the perfect follow-up to I and II. I enjoyed Superman Returns for that very reason, it was totally the Superman I grew up with. The music I remember, the magic of Superman, the over-the-top evil of Lex Luthor with a little 'comic book' thrown in. "Superman Returns" fed my nostalgia, but unfortunately it didn't bring anything new to the party.

My younger friend Holly made a great point that there really has been no Superman movie for this generation. "Man of Steel" does this well. The first third of "Man of Steel" is a fantastic sci-fi film that takes place on Krypton and it was my son's favorite part. I have no issues with any of it, this take on Krypton was fun and Russell Crowe was amazing as Jor-El - throughout the entire film. Zod was introduced as a military savior instead of a power hungry despot, and I really enjoyed Michael Shannon's performance.

The second third of the movie was about Superman's struggles growing up. A brooding orphan finding his place in the world, not perfect thus more relateable to us. In some iterations of Superman comics, as well as "Superman I", Pa Kent died of a heart attack - something Superman could do nothing about. In "Man of Steel" he died protecting Superman's secret. I think that this is a solid update to the story, making Kal-El more 'the alien' instead of 'one of us with lots of powers'. I didn't like how Pa Kent died, but I understood the change and it didn't feel it ruined the movie. I also liked Lois Lane, played well by Amy Adams throughout this act. It makes complete sense to me that a good reporter would track him down.

The final Act was all Zack Snyder, and this was everything I expected, and hoped for from him. Robot space ships, bad guys, Metropolis - Superman beat up EVERYTHING! Was it too much? Was it sensory overload? Yes. But, if I had the money and held those reigns I would have done the same damn thing. Nobody wants to go to a Superman movie and see him hold back. He didn't. My Superman would have dragged Zod out into space, or over the ocean, or into the desert just to save lives and keep the city safe. Snyder's Superman fought in the heart of Metropolis and laid waste to everything. This also didn't ruin the movie for me, it was intense and was the Superman battle many fanboys and girls have always wanted to see.

Up to this point, I was fine. I'm not a critic, I'm a critic's nightmare - I'm easily entertained by bad sequels with mediocre special effects. I look for escape in movies not meaning. "Man of Steel" updated the story in some ways I didn't enjoy but could live with. There were plenty of plot holes (as my son pointed out, why terraform Earth?) but eh, summer blockbuster. That's when IT happened.

Superman killed Zod. Nope. I remember saying that out loud in the theatre. Nope. That's not Superman. Not mine, and not anybody else's. Fuck! This has been so hard to explain to people who don't get it, and I don't know what bothers me more, the fact that they made a Superman movie where he kills the bad guy, or the fact that so many think it's okay.

"The 'S' stands for hope." Um, "hope" doesn't fly around breaking bad guys' necks. "Look, it's Lex Luthor" 'snap', "Hi, I'm Metallo" 'snap', "Braniac will destroy you all" 'snap', "Wait, stop, it's just grafitti" 'snap', "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to check out Lois' butt" 'snap'. Where does it stop? Snyder, Goyer, and Nolan just loosed the great, relateable, murderer of justice!

If given that power, so many people would use it to kill. We can relate to that, right? But that's what makes Superman significant. He can, but he doesn't. Superman isn't someone you think you can become. With enough money and time and a really bad day at work I could be Batman (shh, I am Batman.) Superman is someone we can only strive to be. Friends have been harassing me all week about my post-"Man of Steel" nerd-rage, and I'm sure it seems over the top, but this was my hero. The S doesn't mean hope, it means hero. When Superman kills, all of that is stripped away.

Yeah, they put him in the no-win scenario, but you can't tell me there isn't a writer clever enough in all of Hollywood that couldn't have come up with something better. It would have been so easy to fix - a little remorse and a promise to the general that he would never kill again could have fixed it. Nope. Instead he destroyed a satellite instead. Huh. Maybe the trinity (Snyder, Goyer, and Nolan) thought this would be just the thing to spark controversy. It really worked, but it didn't. It may work to bring in $$, but this version of Superman has lost the higher ground.

I still believe in Superman. I still believe that the difference between superheroes and the bad guys is that the superheroes don't kill. Sure, I'll buy that the 'S' means hope. What I don't believe is that Superman kills. I'm not sure who that dude was at the end of "Man of Steel", but he wasn't Superman.

I'm not the only one...

"Someone Should Probably Tell New Superman People Live In Buildings" - The Superficial

'Man of Steel' Divides Comics Community - MTV Splashpage

What 'Man of Steel' gets wrong about Superman (hint: that ending) - Entertainment Weekly


As a side note, it was awesome that The Kansas City Star did a full page review titled "Man of Angst" by David Frese. (Seriously, how perfect was it to get that text from Allie while wearing my Superman cape waiting in line for the movie! My in-laws showed up soon after with a copy!)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

ConQuesT44 was all that and more!

If I could bottle up ConQuesT and take a sip every Monday, my weeks would be filled with dragons, lasers, aliens, and everything else fantastical that makes me happy. The con was that good for all the right reasons - a great staff, solid programming, fun room parties, and amazing guests. Last year, ConQuesT 43 was my 1st science fiction and fantasy convention with my fantasy novel Angst, so it was significant to me that I released the sequel, Buried in Angst, at ConQuesT 44. Best of all, they let me throw a party!

Friday at ConQuesT is always a little slow until we hit the room parties, which seemed especially good this year. I have to admit it was pretty cool seeing George RR Martin sitting around talking with people. It's also great seeing friends I met at last year's convention, and making new ones as well. I wrapped up festivities at 3:30am. A harsh reminder that I can drink like I'm young, but I don't recover like I'm young.

Saturday was really the day. My first panel was at the excruciatingly early hour of 10am (I'm somehow
reminded of college) and we discussed the fun topic of digital comics. I was mostly recovered by my 2nd panel at 3pm to discuss proper etiquette when traveling and promoting your book. My friend Holly attended, and laughed openly at me when the Guest of Honor, Patrick Rothfuss highly advised that authors never drink at cons. (He's a pretty amazing speaker by the way, he had everyone in stitches during the panel on writing humor.) It was worth a facepalm, but I admittedly go to cons to have fun, make friends, and have fun.

So, the coolest thing ever. I'm always mentioning on my blog about how amazing Cristi is, but I need to throw out some props to her equally awesome boyfriend Brandon. My lovely wife Angie attended the show for the first time to promote her Star Trek Craft book. For weeks she had been teasing me that since Cristi is my "booth babe" Brandon should be hers. What a perfect opportunity for a surprise, and Brandon was game.

I loaned Brandon one of my Captain Kirk shirts and we all followed him into the dealer room. The look on Angie's face was priceless, and Brandon made it great fun posing with her and with the book. Later on Facebook, Angie's friend Michael summed it up well "Lt. Biceps, please report for babe duty."

Everyone wonders why I have Angst, and a great example is the cake. For weeks I've been teasingly shouting out on Twitter and Facebook that we will have cake at the book release party. "Come for prizes, come for a dramatic reading, come for cake!" Yeah…so the party is from 6pm to 8pm, it's 5:45 and I'm frantically situating chairs and tables around the room. My kids are almost passed out from blowing up balloons. I'm receiving texts asking for directions 15 minutes late because we are in the basement. Suddenly it hits me, the cake isn't here yet. Yeah, panic. Why did I have to make such a big deal of the stoopid cake? I leave the room at 5:55 with the amazing Kat Donovan to find manager #1. Manager #1 brought me to Manager#2. (We aren't exactly moving at warp.) They tell me 'we will look into it' which sounds a LOT to me like 'we are slipping into our ninja costumes and sneaking out the back never to be seen or heard from again'. As politely as I could, I urged and pleaded and willed them to find it before rushing back to my party, now late.  I arrived 10 minutes late to my own party and am greeted by my wife who says, "thanks for texting me back". Bzzzzt…my phone buzzes in my pocket and it is her text. Yeah, sometimes I have

After shaking off the last minute scramble, and replying to my wife's text : I enjoyed the party. Honestly, it was great. I didn't do a head count, but the room was full of family, friends, convention guests, Angst supporters - I was more than a little touched. I promised a dramatic reading, and on a whim turned Chapters 33 and 35 into a script (the chapters upon which the cover is based.) I volunteered friends, my son (who hated me a little), Kat volunteered Nick Seddon (who was absolutely amazing), and without practice we read. The chapters may not have been perfect, way too much narration, but everyone in the room had a good laugh. From my friend Matt reading Crloc in his best bad guy impression, to Nick throwing water in his own face because his character was sweating - it really went perfectly. I can't thank them all enough, and after we finished, the cake was delivered. (It was damn good too!)

We finished up our evening celebrating at room parties, wrapping it up at 1:30am. I should mention that anything said, not said, or not remembered at these parties should completely be blamed on the Klingons and their blood wine.

Sincere thanks to everyone involved in putting ConQuesT together. A special thanks to Kat for the room party, and Nick for the reading. My Angst team consisted of Angie, James, Joanne, Holly, Brandon and Cristi - you guys are the best. I've said it before, but I absolutely couldn't do these without Cristi - she brings the awesome! I've also got to shout out that Holly was quite awesome for showing up in her Rose costume! Finally, I really do appreciate everyone who showed up at the release party; it really meant a lot. What an adventure…now it's time to write!

If you want to see more pictures, be sure to check them out on Facebook or Google+ !

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Buried in Angst is now available for purchase!

I'm very excited to announce that my second fantasy novel Buried in Angst is now available for purchase in print and for your e-reader.  There are a few stragglers who haven't released it quite yet, so I will be updating as it becomes available on the remaining sites.

Below is the definitive list of links where you can purchase Buried in Angst!

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Print

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon UK Print

Barnes & Noble


Google Play




I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, May 20, 2013

ConQuesT Buried in Angst book release weekend!!! (Did someone say party?)

It's hard to believe a year has passed since my first Science Fiction & Fantasy convention! In 2012 I was looking for another way to share Angst beyond the awesomeness of Twitter and Facebook. I wanted to meet and spend time with people who were into the stuff I love and am writing about. I knew that going to conventions was the best way, and I couldn't have been more fortunate to find one of the great cons in my own home town. ConQuesT was the perfect start to my con adventures!

For all the fun I've had this year at other conventions, ConQuesT holds a special place in my heart. It seems only fitting that the release of my second fantasy novel, Buried in Angst, happens at ConQuesT 44! So we are going to celebrate by throwing a party!  Saturday night starting at 6pm in the Monarch room of CoCo Key in Kansas City! (9103 E 39th St S, Kansas City, MO 64133 by the stadium)

  • Every 15 minutes we will be giving away a prize - including shirts, books, and posters!
  • Cristi will be there looking amazing in costume and signing posters!
  • Get your picture taken with Cristi and the giant sword Chryslaenor!
  • Cake! (What else can you say, cake is awesome!)
  • Dramatic Reading of the chapter that the book cover is based on!
  • Be one of the first to purchase a copy of Buried in Angst!

The book release party Saturday night is going to be fun, and I can't even put into words how excited I am! (Sometimes, there just aren't enough explanation marks!) I hope you can stop by, but if you can't we will do our best to share pictures and highlights on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

But wait, there's more (insert cheesy grin here.) I'm moderating and attending a bunch of panels at ConQuest, and I'm looking forward to all of them. The topics are fun, and the conversation won't get boring so please drop in and have your say:

Panels - Times - Events - Rooms
Friday 4:00pm Star Trek Into Darkness Review (Imperial) - Moderating…hell yeah!
Friday 8:00pm Dark/Funny in SciFi/Fantasy (Monarch) - Moderating

Saturday 10:00am Digital Comics and the Future of Comics (Imperial)
Saturday 3:00pm Books on Tour (Embassy)
Saturday 6:00pm - 8:00ish Angst Party (Monarch)

Sunday 10:00am Theme'd for Your Pleasure Podcast (Monarch)
Sunday 1:00pm Writing Humor (Embassy) - Moderating

My friend, and official Angst artist, Heather Uebel has been creating some amazing, I mean, absolutely insanely incredibly amazing art that I can use for promotional purposes. If you are looking for an artist, you can't go wrong hiring her! (More about Heather in a future post, I promise!) Heather created this incredible image of Chryslaenor, exactly where it was left at the end of Angst, and just as I imagine it in the first chapter of Buried in Angst. What else could I do but throw it on this ultra-cool Angst T-shirt. This T-Shirt was designed for ConQuesT. You could win this shirt at the party. If you don't win, don't fret, because we will also be selling it for $15.

I also need to let everyone know my wife, the lovely Angie Pedersen, will be at ConQuesT promoting her new book The Star Trek Craft Book: Make it So. (She will be in the dealer room, and teaching a class on several of the crafts found in the book. Be sure to stop by and check out her awesome book from Simon and Schuster - she has a limited supply so don't wait!

Finally, a shoutout to everyone who makes ConQuesT happen, especially Kat Donovan! I truly am grateful for the opportunity to promote my novels at this convention, thank you!

Can't wait to see everyone there!