Do You Have Angst?: July 2013

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.)