Do You Have Angst?: 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Angst 3 progress - thanks to my Alpha Team!

If you don’t read anything else in this blog post, the synopsis is that the rough draft for Drowning in Angst is done and in the hands of my amazing editor, Danielle Fine! Whew!

Back in September, I sent Dani an email saying that Angst 3 would be done and ready for her to edit in Mid-October. In that time I started a cool new day job, went on vacation with my wife (it’s been 14 years since the last one!), and waited for feedback from the Alpha team! The wait was worth it!
If you follow any of my older posts, you are familiar with my Alpha team.

The Alpha team is a well trained group of hardened mercenaries who live in the shadows to deliver justice in an unjust world and...oh, wait, that’s the other group! This Alpha team is a group of my closest friends who take their time to read, edit, and critique my drunken mess of chapters as I deliver them in painfully short bursts. It’s a significant commitment. They get the entirety of my novels over the course of 12-15 months, and throughout that time I often make changes that requires re-reads. They are patient, thoughtful, and provide amazing feedback!

I actually sent the completed rough to my Alpha team at the end of October, days before going on vacation. Everyone on the team has busy lives, and not everyone lives in Kansas City. Usually I receive feedback via email or over lunch, but my dear friend, Becky, was going to be visiting from Wisconsin toward the end of November. It was a rare opportunity to get the whole team in one room to discuss the book at length, so we waited. It was so worth it!

The gathering was originally planned to be a LAN party, so everyone was a few drinks into the day and nothing was held back – which is exactly what I wanted. After pointing out some of the more obvious flaws, and some things that weren’t so obvious, we discussed the ending. I wrote the original ending for Drowning in Angst over 3 years ago, and was pretty set on it until I came up with an idea weeks before this gathering.

It was one of my favorite moments working on this book. Everyone was convinced to go with the original ending. I left to use the restroom, and the conversation got busy. They were talking over each other, arguing the options, and by the time I got back they had collectively changed their opinion to go with the revised ending. Not only was I excited they had come to the same conclusion I did without my prompting, I was moved by the fact that they were so vested in the story that the conversation had become so passionate.

I’ll never be able to say thanks enough, and would like to introduce my team. Becky, Matt, Angie, Cristi, Mike and Marina. Great friends, an amazing Alpha team, and my novels wouldn't be nearly as good without them.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Archon 38 in St. Louis is only 1 Week Away!

In only one week we will be attending our last Science Fiction and Fantasy convention of the year - and we can't wait! This will be our first time at Archon in St. Louis and I can already tell it's going to be an awesome con!

I'll be on two panels at Archon 38. You can find me here, at these times:

Saturday 1:30PM Marquette A: What Makes a "Good" Comic
Sunday 12:20PM Marquette A: Marvel vs DC - Movies and Television

Please visit us at bookseller's row and:

  • Meet Cristi - Gorgeous and incredible Angst spokesmodel
  • Take a picture with Chryslaenor, full size replica of the giant sword from Angst 
  • Purchase signed copies of Angst and Buried in Angst
  • Get a free poster of Cristi with your purchase
  • Sign up to win an Angst T-shirt

I'll be at my table while the dealer's room is open:
Friday 4-8
Saturday 10-6
Sunday 10-2

Archon 38 will be held at:
October 3 - 5, 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton Collinsville
1000 Eastport Plaza Dr
Collinsville, IL 62234
(618) 345-2800

You can learn more on their website:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It’s getting to the good part!

It’s kind of funny, but some of the stuff I’m editing right now at the end of Drowning in Angst, I wrote so long ago I was still putting a double-space after periods. I don’t remember when I stopped doing that, but it may have been three years?

Sometimes writing goes it's own direction and this part of the story expanded far beyond what I had imagined. So, I'm amazed that it is still ending up mostly where I wanted. If I were a better writer, a more experienced writer, I’m sure things would come together more neatly. I have a love-hate relationship with writing from an outline. Who wants to stopper the fresh flow of ideas? So, usually, I don’t. When it feels right, I’ll sometimes write a character or an event into one book with the hope that I can use them later. More madness than science, but so far I’ve been lucky.

Lately, I’ve been really lucky. The rollercoaster of my upcoming third Angst novel, Drowning in Angst, could have been a disaster. There were a lot of loose ends from Buried in Angst I needed to tie up, some I needed to tie off, and new threads I needed to add. About two-thirds of my way through book 3, I was in a panic. My book was like holding the end of a horse’s tail, with strands going everywhere.

That’s when I fell back on the outline. I stopped writing and gave myself time to think. I mapped out where each storyline needed to end, and how it was supposed to get there. Then, I started writing again, and everything fell into place. Heck, with only five chapters left, things are still falling into place! This is definitely the fun part and I’m having a great time, not only with my recent rush of progress, but finding out what happens. The crystal ball (or memndus stone, in my case) isn’t always so very clear.

There are still months to go before release and plenty of work to be done. The alpha team doesn’t have all the chapters, and their replies will require some editing. And I’ve asked my incredibly smart and talented editor Danielle Fine to pencil me in for mid to late October, which will require even more editing. (She’s a ruthless tyrant! Er, I mean, a wonderful and nice editor.) But the good news is, it’s coming, and I can’t wait to share.

Now, what the heck am I going to do in book four?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

They Made Shows For Me This Fall!

Until December 17th hits, there aren’t a lot of movies I’m geeked out about. Fortunately my nerd needs are still going to be met! It looks like television is going to turn me into a couch potato! (Which doesn’t actually require much prodding.) There is more to be excited about this fall than I remember.

Doctor Who – I’ll admit, I’m a closet Whovian. This is worthy of its own blog post, but somehow I can relate to an older man who goes on adventures with attractive companions. (Did I ever mention one of my favorite nicknames is Medic? Coincidence? Hmmm…) As of this blog post, there have been two episodes in the new season with Peter Capaldi. My family saw the first in the theatre and were taken aback by some of it – I was especially wary of the insults thrown back and forth between Clara and The Doctor. It felt a bit forced in “Deep Breath,” but totally worked in the second. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.

Agents of SHIELD – The general consensus from my circle is that the show started out interesting, got a little boring, then ended strong. I really like how it tied into Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and couldn’t be more impressed that Marvel TV shows and films are in the same universe. Agents of SHIELD could really be great this season (and I’m really curious how Agent Carter will fit in) Kudos to ABC for giving it a second season. For all the times I’ve complained about my favorite shows getting cancelled, I’ll watch this just to support future nerd tv. Premiere: 9/23 ABC

The Flash – was really my first comic book hero to the point that he inspired me to become a runner when I was young. (While two marathons is a lot of inspiration, I wasn’t nearly as fast.) The original TV series came out when I was in college, and though a bit cheesy it was a lot of fun. Not only does this Flash look fun, special effects in the previews are fantastic. I’m pleased they are bringing back the original Flash John Wesley Shipp as Barry’s dad. My only issue is the costume. I’m hoping it gets destroyed in the first few episodes. Premiere: 10/7 CW

Arrow – My wife and I binge-watched most of the 46 episodes, which is a LOT of television for me. (A LOT!) It’s a little thick on the drama, but that’s more of an observation than a complaint. They do a great job of telling two stories simultaneously with the flashbacks to his past. Arrow is also gritty enough that it’s not cheesy. No boxing glove or chimney sweep arrows thank you! Premiere: 10/8 CW

Gotham – If I have any reservations about this list, it’s for Gotham. First of all, it’s on FOX, which tends to be the kiss of death for many nerd shows. (Firefly, Almost Human, etc.) So I’m wary to even invest the time. I also watch the Batman movies, and read the Batman comic books, because of Batman, who isn’t the focus of this series. That said, Smallville worked, but it was focused on Clark Kent, so we’ll see. I like the look of the show, the casting for the ‘bad guys’ is well done, and there is a lot they can do with the cast of characters they’ve already introduced in the preview. Premiere: 9/22 FOX

Constantine – DC and Marvel have both been struggling to figure out how to introduce their magic themed comics into the mainstream. I guess it’s easier to believe in super powers than magic? Or maybe just both at the same time? Marvel will be making the attempt with a Dr. Strange film, but I give props to DC for getting there first with Constantine. Based on the Vertigo comic Hellblazer, it was first made into a movie starring Keanu Reaves back in 2005. This time around he won’t smoke (broadcasting restrictions), and he’s not bisexual like the comics, because a morally questionable anti-hero battling demons would be a bad role model if he smoked and liked boys. Huh. Hopefully they don’t change too much because the preview does look pretty cool. Premiere: 10/24 NBC

DC has really stepped up their game with television, and they are wise to continue pursuing this. My only gripe is about continuity. I’m sure it has more to do with contracts than storytelling, but I hate that they can’t tie all of their movies and television shows into the same universe like Marvel. There is no reason that Arrow and Flash from television couldn’t show up in the Batman v Superman Justice League movie. I don’t know about you, but that’s some of the stuff that I geek out over.
What shows am I missing? I’m sure there are more than a few…what are you looking forward to this fall?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moments Count

I had a very frustrating weekend. If you read my last blog post you will understand why. I was upset with the time, effort and money spent to attend the con. That expressed itself in everything I did Saturday and Sunday. We went out to 6th street in Austin, and I was about as obnoxious as I get. I vented my frustration to other writers at the con who were willing to listen. I was irritable on the 11+ hour drive home and I’m pretty sure I was upset at everyone in my life for something, or more likely nothing. This isn’t usually how I am, but it happens when the universe conspires against me. Damn universe.

I was going to take one of several naps yesterday when I discovered on Facebook that someone I knew from High School took their life over the weekend. I was not close to this person, he wasn’t a long lost brother, but from everything I knew and remembered, he was a good man. When he friended me on Facebook this last year, he had a few nice things to say in passing about my writing. That would sum up our relationship, it was always friendly, polite, and in passing.

This isn’t a blog post about him, other than to say my heart goes out to his family and friends. What else do you say? They are the ones affected by his decision. I’ve been surrounded by people with depression most of my life, and I’ve seen what it drives them to do. A cousin who lived with my family attempted suicide. I’ve known others who have been successful at it. But, I’ll never understand.

I also bear no judgment for him and the decision that he has made. It’s not my job to judge, nor is it a job I want. It's the easiest thing in the world to go on about what people should have or shouldn't have done. I just know that my universe kicks me in the balls once and awhile, I don't even want to imagine what his did to him.

This blog post is simply a reminder to me that once and awhile I need to forgive the universe and its constant transgressions. This week I’ll visit my parents like I try to do, I’ll see a movie with my wife, I’ll spend some time with my daughter, and will call my son at college. This weekend, when I see my friends, I’ll hug them like I mean it. Because next week someone may decide to move, or they may become sick, or do something I won’t understand – and I’ve already forgotten what I was upset about in the car.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Armadillocon 36 - Lessons Learned

My air conditioner went out for about 15 minutes during my drive home from Armadillocon in Austin, TX. I had been driving for about an hour, the weather was every hot and sticky analogy you can come up with and I was stuck in traffic at 2:30pm on a Sunday. Cursing didn’t help. Since the air conditioner was blowing out hot steam, I turned it off, rolled down the windows, and sweat off several pounds. On a whim and a prayer I turned the air back on. It was freezing cold and stayed that way. The drive home was long but not uncomfortable, and I listened to an entire audiobook, which was fun. I finally arrived at 1:30am Monday morning. This pretty much sums up Armadillocon.

When I choose to go to a convention, I try to research so I can prepare and know what to expect. Most indie authors are wary to divulge con sales, only sharing “I sold a lot” or “I didn’t do well” because who really knows how many you should be selling? The first con I participated in I sold 15 books and another writer posted later he sold none. In comparison, I guess I did well, but were sales great? The only feedback I could get about Armadillocon was from another author who said it was pretentious. I smiled and nodded politely because that really didn’t tell me how many books to bring. I should have listened closer.

For posterity, I’m going to briefly share what Armadillocon is, and what it isn’t. Armadillocon is a literary convention where writers gather to discuss their craft. Established authors talk on subjects like ‘Overhauling a Character’, ‘Perfecting Your Locations’, and ‘Literary Archives’. If you are learning to write, seeking advice, looking for input, or get a lot out of the steps other writers go through to produce a finished work – this is the con you should attend. This is a networking convention. If you feel like you can advance your writing career by meeting published authors, and maybe even a publisher, go to Armadillocon.

This isn’t why I typically go to conventions. My goal is to find my audience, connect with them on a personal level, and have fun with friends while doing it. I’ve gone to enough conventions that I can take a relatively accurate guess at attendance based on the number of books sold. Based on my equation, I’m pretty sure nobody attended this con, which is a first for me.

I did have some fun this weekend with my dear friends Cristi and Brandon. We enjoyed some of the best people watching Austin has to offer on 6th street. I also traded books with our neighbor Christy King and look forward to reading her novel Talia. My heart goes out to the writer who was visiting from Germany and had purchased a table with the same goal and results as the rest of us.

My request to Armadillocon, don’t have a dealer room – or at the very least don’t sell tables to authors. 3 authors I spoke with said they would probably never get a table at another Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. I think I talked them out of that.

My advice to new writers who are learning and getting established: if you are in the area, definitely attend Armadillocon. There are a lot of learned hosts with great knowledge and strong opinions, they have plenty to share. When you are done listening, go home, put away any notes you took at the con, and write the story you want to write in the way that works for you – because that’s truly where your best work will come from.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Armadillocon 36 - We're Going To Texas!

In a few short days we will be participating in our first ArmadilloCon 36 in Austin, TX Friday, July 25th through Thursday, July 27th.  I'm really looking forward to attending this con for the first time! It's always fun to meet people, spend time with friends, and stand next to Cristi while she gets all the attention! ;)

I feel very fortunate that they have invited me to participate on panels and do a reading. If you are attending the con, please stop by so you can point and laugh as I fumble awkwardly and pretend to know what I'm talking about. You can find me here, at these times:

Friday 6:00PM Conference Center: Required Fantasy - Fantasy has been around since biblical times. Have you read the most important books in the genre?
Friday 9:00PM Conference Center: The Doctor Who Number Game - Debating the finale, renumbering the doctors and thoughts on Peter Capaldi.
Friday 11:00PM Room D: TV Shows You Should Be Watching - There are some very good science fiction and fantasy shows out there. Do you need to update your recorder?
Saturday 10:00AM Room D: Elemental Magic - What is elemental magic and which stories use it best?
Saturday 2:00PM Southpark D: Reading

We are bringing our party to Armadillocon! Please visit us in the dealer room and you will be able to:

  • Meet Cristi - Gorgeous Angst spokesmodel and amazing person
  • Pose with Chryslaenor, full size replica of the giant sword from Angst 
  • Purchase signed copies of Angst and Buried in Angst
  • Get a free poster of Cristi with your purchase
  • Sign up to win an Angst T-shirt

The dealers room will be open:
Friday 2-7
Saturday 10-6
Sunday 11-4

ArmadilloCon 36 will be held at:
Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark
4140 Governors Row
Austin TX US 78744

You can learn more on their website:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

That Escalated Quickly…

Being asked for an interview is one of the highest forms of flattery. For a brief moment, it makes you feel like someone wants to hear what you have to say. Besides being an ego-driven platform, it’s also a great way to promote what you are doing. People who watch or read your interview get an idea of who you are; it’s a great medium to make a connection with your audience or frighten them away forever.

In April I received an invitation from Richy Emmans to participate in an interview for an online show he was creating. He hadn’t made any shows yet, but what he wanted to do sounded fun, like a late night talk show. His plan was to interview various guests he had met online while interjecting his own humor. I liked the idea, so I agreed.

Richy conducted the interview several weeks later, and I genuinely enjoyed the conversation, though, at times, it felt like the conversation drifted. Richy brought up marriage and sex a little more often than even I would have. I didn’t really mind, but if you’ve read my fantasy novels, you know that there isn’t any sex in them. (I don’t have an issue with discussing sex, or even writing about it, but I’ve never found an appropriate place for it in my books, so I didn’t always understand why the discussion went that way.) I did my best to steer the conversation back to writing and mid-life crisis. After an hour and a half, he had more than a few sound bites to work with.

Another two weeks passed and I received a direct message on Twitter stating that the video was up and had been posted to You Tube. I clicked the link that brought me to a video called “Sex and Angst”. I was surprised at the title, and even more surprised with some of the contents. Roughly, (whew, and some of it was rough) the video was broken into six segments. It started with a monologue by Richy about how boring it is to have sex with your wife. To say my jaw dropped is an understatement, and I kept my fingers crossed that my wife hadn’t seen it yet! In between sections of interview, he had more monologue that we’ll just call edgy. My interview, between the monologue sections, was split between discussing Angst and those awkward conversations about sex.

I was at a loss, so shared it with friends. Those my age said, “That dude will do some damage. yeeeeouch…. I actually like the interview, it's too bad because during the interview he had good questions and was receptive.”  I asked some younger friends, who also enjoy raunchy humor, and received the same response

Richy had thoughtfully asked for feedback. Rather than a knee-jerk reaction, I tried to provide what I feel many artists actually want – a critique. I sent him a polite email, sharing concerns my friends had and what my expectations originally were. I highlighted those parts of the interview that I liked, and pointed out that this was an opportunity to make jokes about getting older! It’s not that the other stuff wasn’t funny, it just didn’t fit the subject matter – so I mentioned that. I did ask him to take it down, and if he was going to rework it I requested to see the end result before releasing it into the wild.

Richy did take down the show, and within a few days’ time, replaced it with an interview that is a lot of fun. Not only does it highlight more about my writing, but the new monologues he included within the interview are great!

There are a few things I walked away with from this. For future interviews, I’ll do a little more homework about the host, the medium, and the target audience. While Richy didn’t have any episodes posted yet, I could have asked more questions about his process and I could have asked to see it privately before release. Along those same lines, I emailed this blog post for his review before sharing it publicly.

The other has to do with critiques and feedback. Richy was awesome about the feedback I provided; it’s the same feedback I’m always looking for. I’ve blogged about reviews before, but there are a lot of craptacular ones out there. There is a huge difference between, “It’s the dumbest book I’ve ever read” and, “The first book was funnier” or, “Needs more character development”. (Those have been critiques directed to me, and I’m very receptive to the good suggestions.)

My sincere thanks to Richy, both for the interview, and for graciously taking my suggestions. Be sure to check out all of his shows here (fair warning, some of these are NSFW)

And please watch the interview Midlife Angst

The Richy Show - Episode 2 - Midlife Angst by therichyshow

Friday, May 16, 2014

I just got asked when Angst 3 will be ready?

...Good question :)
Last week I released the first 16 chapters of my 3rd Angst novel into the wild. The alpha team is hopefully enjoying them now, and on the verge of hating where I left the story. Mwa ha ha! I've actually written 2/3rds of Drowning in Angst, and am working on filling in that all important middle part. You know, the story.
Minor spoiler if you haven’t read my 2nd fantasy novel Buried in Angst...but if you have, you probably remember that I left a few, tiny cliffhangers at the end. *Ahem* While they really pushed the series in the direction I wanted, they have made the 3rd installment a challenge.
More than ever, I really feel the need to be careful. I introduced a lot at the end of book 2 and could easily dive too deep into those stories. I don't want to dilute the main story of Angst and his friends, so I'm taking my time to be careful. It's tricky, and more time consuming than I expected.
It's really important to me that my fantasy novels are fun and easy to read, but remain interesting enough to hold your attention. That sort of balance becomes precarious when you have multiple dangling plot threads. Those threads could easily live on their own, but I really feel that each of them needs to feed into the main story to remain relevant. <Insert deep sigh> While I’m having fun, it's not nearly as easy as I thought it would be.
The important thing is I feel really good about what I've written so far. (If I didn't, I’d start over.) The beginning, and ending, of each book is clear in my head as if I just watched it in the theater. (Wouldn't that be nice!) While the path may be a little bumpy, I really do know where I’m headed...most of the time.
Aside from personal tragedy or Yellowstone blowing up (what could possibly go wrong?), Drowning in Angst will be released in 2014. My goal is to have it done by the end of the summer, and if it's not I promise to let you know!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wow...just...Demicon 25

Insecure David (yeah, he's in there somewhere) has a nagging concern. At what point and time do I wear out my welcome? Do I go to the same cons repeatedly, or do I visit them every other year so they don't suffer David burnout? The only real measure I have for this is book sales. (Well, and spitting. When people spit on me, that's a bad sign.) Cons really aren't about book sales; I consider selling books a bonus to the rest of the adventure. But if I only sold five or ten books, I'd have to wonder if it would be wise to give everyone a break. And after a great Demicon 24, I would never have expected to sell more.

Cristi and I arrived Friday with plenty of time to get checked in and set up the booth without a last minute rush. Fridays are typically slow, which allowed time to meet our neighbors. This was good because the dealer room is about the size of my first apartment and we were going to be spending 3 very close days with them. I've mentioned before that cons are really about making friends. Our neighbor Ashley Schonberg was pretty fantastic. Check out her cool blog and then buy her cool stuff.

Friday night Cristi and I got to meet up with some old friends from High School. (And yes, the three of us are old; Cristi is not.) It was great of them to come out and visit. We had just enough time to get caught up, take some pics, and do a little baby holding. I also learned about their involvement in Bikers Against Child Abuse. From the mission statement: "We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in --any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle." Personally, I think that's awesome! Please visit their site to find more: or if you're in Iowa here is a link to the local chapter:

This was the 1st time I had the pleasure of sitting on panels at Demicon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Friday night I hosted a panel comparing the Marvel and DC approaches to motion pictures and television. Saturday I hosted a panel to discuss Star Wars movie news and speculate on Disney's influence. I also sat on a panel Saturday night with author Dennis Green on Finding Time to Write. Be sure to visit Dennis' site to learn more about his writing.  All of the panels were well attended and inspired some lively discussions. I received several compliments, and I didn't even hear anyone snore! (I also got to wear my Superman cape for my superhero panel. Win!)

Room parties at Demicon are superb. We were up late into the night, enjoying both costumes and the good company. Fortunately nobody recorded me singing "Happy" in the karaoke room, but I have to share this video of our friend Joe singing "Stars" from Les Misérables. Before picking up the mic, he mentioned never having sung this song before, but that it was one of his favorites. While I assume everyone is a better singer than me, I never expected his Broadway voice. I promise, it's worth a few minutes to listen.

My sincere thanks to everyone who makes Demicon happen and allowing me to participate. I really appreciate the great spot in the dealer room too! I also need to thanks Amanda Alexander for coordinating the panels and including me in the fun! Finally, to all of our friends, you're awesome - we can't wait to see you next year!

I also have to thank my partner in crime. Those who spent time with Cristi at Demicon know she is much more than a pretty face.  (Though she is definitely that, too!) I couldn't ask for better support. She rocks the costume, is always great help, has fantastic suggestions, and is so much fun. I really couldn't do cons without her, nor would I want to. Thanks Shiny!

Oh, and about those book sales. I sold more books than last year. I will now throw those theories and insecurities out the window and just continue showing up to the party - especially if the party is Demicon!

If you'd like to see all of the fun pictures, you can view them on Facebook or Google+

Monday, April 28, 2014

Celebrating 25 years of DemiCon

DemiCon will be celebrating its Silver Anniversary May 2nd - 4th, 2014 in Des Moines, IA. I'm really excited to return to this awesome con. Great people, well organized, amazing room parties - it's a lot of fun. Even better, this year I get to participate in panels!

Friday from 6pm-7pm in the Nebraska room I'll be hosting Superheroes On Parade: Movies, Television, straight to DVD, and soon Netflix. Marvel and DC are battling it out on the big and little screens. Come discuss what works, what doesn't, what's coming...and what's up with Flash's new costume?

Saturday from 6pm-7pm come to the Nebraska room and discuss Disney's Star Wars: Jedi or Jar Jar? Disney has already made changes regarding the extended universe, and plans on releasing Star Wars movies every year! Does Disney wield enough Force to become a Jedi? Join us on the dark side as we discuss rumors, official announcements, and our new hope for the future.

Also on Saturday I'll be joining Dennis Green to share how we go about Finding Time to Write from 7pm-8pm in the Missouri room.

As always, I have a few things planned for this con! Visit us in the dealer room and you will be able to:

  • Meet Cristi - gorgeous Angst spokesmodel, alpha reader, and amazing person
  • Pose with the brand new, full size replica fantasy sword Chryslaenor, the giant sword from Angst 
  • Purchase signed copies of Angst and Buried in Angst
  • Get a free poster of Cristi with your purchase
  • Sign up to win an Angst T-shirt

The Dealers Room will be open:
Friday:  2 pm - 6 pm
Saturday:  10 am - 6 pm
Sunday:  10 am - 2 pm

DemiCon 25 will be held at:
Holiday Inn Northwest
4800 Merle Hay Road
Des Moines, Iowa  50322

Be sure to visit their site for more information:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How I Deal With Writer's Block

Some days my writing comes naturally, flocking like the salmon of Capistrano, ebb and flow as smoothly as – well, you get the idea. It’s like I’m on this path and can run freely, walk and enjoy the view, or even stop to smell the roses.
When I struggle with my writing, it’s like that path becomes a tunnel. There’s a light at the end, but some weeks those tunnels are long, muddy, and that light seems far away. This is where I’ve been at for the last several weeks and that tunnel was pretty dark and cold and lonely (Where the hell were you by the way! Oh, wait…Twitter.)
With every book I write, I find there are more than a few periods of internal conflict where the story is trying to break free but doesn’t quite make it to my keyboard. When it finally happens, it’s like the world is sighing, but until it does – I’m still stuck.
These are the things I do to get through my tunnel and back to enjoying the view. Some things I do are probably obvious, but I’m hoping that by sharing, one or more ideas will help you. Maybe you’ll even share with me what you do. I’m always open to more ideas!

  • Go for a walk: Honestly, I get more story telling done when I walk than I ever do typing on a keyboard.
  • Drink booze: Yup, I said that. There is this zone between 2 drinks and 6 when I can play darts and write creatively. (It’s that same zone others drink themselves into so they can laugh at my jokes.)
  • Ask your characters: I was pacing in my man cave because I was totally stumped what two of my characters were going to do, so I asked them. No, they don’t actually answer, no voices in my head that I’m willing to talk about. But it makes a lot of sense to try and get in your character’s head and answer that simple question, “If this happened, what would you do?”
  • Clean and organize: My wife has to love this part. Sometimes, to clear my mind, I have to clear the mess.
  • Music: I’ve said this before, I love movie scores. They are inspiring without distracting lyrics. (Depending on the soundtrack, my car rides are often very exciting!) This goes very well with walking.
  • People watching: Not to be a creeper, but stalking, er, I mean watching groups of people is fascinating. You can learn a lot a by watching them interact, especially if you can fit some of them into your story.
  • Punch my way through it like Superman fighting a horde of alien invaders! Really, sometimes I'll stay up to 2am just to fight through a chapter, beating out the idea and writing roughshod the entire time to clean it up later.
  • Exercise and eating vegetables: Does absolutely nothing for creativity, avoid at all cost!

Writer’s block can be bad, and days when writing is slow can be incredibly frustrating. I like the saying “You’ve got to take the good with the bad” but for me it tends to be you’ve got to get through the bad in order to get to the good. When I get lost in that tunnel I have to remind myself what I tell friends at the end of their bad days. “It’s good you got that out of the way so you can move onto something better.”

Now that I've shared, it's your turn. What do you do when you are in the tunnel?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Visioncon 2014 in Branson MO was Awesome!

I had concerns this year about going to Visioncon this year. The venue moved from Springfield, MO to Branson due to the old hotel shutting down, and some who attend last year announced they wouldn't be able to make it. I was also worried about the weather. Basically, we've been at war with ice elementals and white walkers for months and another attack was imminent. (The forecasters thought we'd get 12" of snow in Kansas City.)

I arrived at 11:00 Friday and spent an hour scrambling to get checked in and set up my table before noon. By the time I dropped luggage off in my room, a line had formed for registration. In spite of the oncoming storm, and the new location, people showed up. Visioncon has some faithful attendees, and for good reason. This con is run very well and the staff is exceptional, great to work with, and well prepared. My sincere thanks to them for putting together such a great convention. I should also mention that the Raddison in Branson was a great place to host Visioncon. Nice rooms and a friendly staff. Next time I visit Branson, I'll stay there.

Cristi and Brandon arrived Friday evening and were, as always, awesome! I couldn't do cons without their help. Needless to say, Cristi rocked the new costume. I'm pretty sure more people are coming to visit her than me these days, I think they just tend to buy the books by accident.

One of my favorite things about Visioncon from last year was the costumes, and this year didn't disappoint. While there are always a few duct tape warriors whose crafting talents are still better than mine ;) you can tell that everyone goes all out for Visioncon. So many great costumes, and some that look like they came right out of Hollywood. From Game of Thrones and superheroes to Doctor Who and Star Trek, you'll find a great representation of all genres at Visioncon.

Saturday night was just an awesome time! Hanging out with some new friends, we made the rounds - starting at the always amazing Mojo room party and ending with some dancing. (Okay, let’s be honest, everyone else was dancing while I sorta stood still, smiled, and rocked back and forth. I'm pretty sure I rocked in time to the music. I think.)

Sunday was the return of the scramble. Shortly after I got back from my very, very important Starbucks run, it began to sleet. We packed up and got out of there fast so we could spend the next five hours driving slow (the trip down took me about three.) Quite a few cars ended up in the ditch, and I was glad to make it home without incident.

If you haven't been to this one, I highly recommend you put Visioncon on your list of cons to visit. I know we will be back in 2015!

You can see pics I took on Facebook or Google+

You can also see pictures from the official Visioncon photographers Just Shoot Me (great people!) on their Facebook page:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Look Forward - Could This Be My Future?

Facebook recently produced a feature that compiles highlights of images and posts users have made since joining into a video montage called A Look Back. If you use Facebook, and haven’t watched your video, it can be created by going here: Personally, I found my video to be touching. Some of my friends’ videos, maybe not so much.  Fortunately in those cases, a recently added feature allows you to edit your video, removing some of the less desirable images.

This gave me a fun idea. What if you could Look Forward? Since that feature isn’t available (yet), I had to make the video myself, and came up with my own collection of daydreams and what-ifs, including some events that probably will happen, some that could happen, and a few that are highly unlikely (to be very optimistic.)
Being both color-blind and artistically challenged, you’ll be able to spot the edited photos pretty quick. A good example is the before and after of the J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon picture at the San Diego Comicon. (Hey, I think they’d make a pretty good Angst movie, don’t you?) I stretched out the table, the background, and even made myself a name badge! (Insert nerd snort here.)

Needless to say, most of the pictures were adjusted in some way. The image of me holding a baby was actually a recreation. That's me looking old today, but the baby is my son James from 20 years ago.

I also cheated a little; most of the pictures in the original Facebook version don’t include titles. I included some to help the pictures make sense to those who don’t know me. At times it’s a little bit of a challenge to read all of my “future posts” without pausing the video, but I hope that if you do, you find them to be fun.

A lot of thanks to Angie, Joanne, James, Cristi and Brandon! By now they’ve got to be more than a little warn out from my requests to “come take a look at this one” or “what do you think of this picture”! I also have to thank Facebook for the Look Back video; it was well done and much appreciated. Finally, a shoutout to Gage Skidmore for letting me hack up his great picture of Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams. You can find Gage’s great work on Flickr here, and his Facebook page here.

A direct link to the video can be found here! If you like it be sure to share with your friends!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cons and Costumes

About two years ago I sought a way to promote my first fantasy novel Angst in some way other than Twitter.  I really wanted to meet people who loved fantasy and science fiction as much as I do. My goal wasn’t just to find customers, I wanted to actually make friends and create a discourse where people who read my books felt included. I wanted, and still want, everyone to feel like they can say hi, ask questions, and be a part of this thing I’m trying to do.

I discovered ConQuesT, a long running and well respected Science Fiction and Fantasy convention here in Kansas City, and purchased a dealer table. I hadn’t been to a con since high school and didn’t have a clue what to expect. I assumed there would be other indie writers there, and was concerned I’d be lost in the crowd. I wanted to do more than bring a stack of books.

I came across a picture of Mandy in her Red Sonja costume from Comicon, and shared it with my friend Allie. Allie has been very supportive of my writing and was excited about wearing a costume, especially if it covered a bit more. Using pop can tab technology I crafted my first creation, a “chain mail” skirt and top. While the skirt wasn’t comfortable, and impossible to sit in, it was light, shiny, and looked great. (As did she!) Everyone loved the whole package, Allie in her costume, her personality, and we gave away a poster of her in the costume with every purchase. I sold books, made friends, and haven’t gotten off the ride yet!

After a year of cons Allie retired (hey, it’s a lot of work being famous!) Fortunately I was saved from going to cons alone by my dear friend Cristi. Cristi is on my alpha team for critiquing the book and knows all about Angst, and Buried in Angst. She’s also gorgeous, and fun! So I got to work on a second costume last year that utilized aluminum scales. It was a great year, we went to even more conventions, sold a lot of books, and had an awesome time. I’m excited that Cristi has agreed to come back to cons with me again in 2014!

I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I made her wear the same old costume without anything cool to change into! So in December I started my new project. I wanted to go back to pop can tabs. I like working with them, they look great, and I had learned a lot from Allie’s original costume.

Creating the costume is a labor of love. I’ve had no formal training in sewing, tailoring, or any related
skill, just ideas, patience, and a very helpful wife. After a month and a half of late nights and pin pricked thumbs, I finally finished a new chain mail costume for Cristi. Let me tell you that Cristi didn’t exactly have the easy job. Not only was she incredibly patient with me and my constant requests to try on the costume as I was making it, she’s also been working out every week to look as amazing as she does. Cristi's boyfriend, Brandon, put her on a weight lifting program that has even looking even better than last year. My thanks to them both.

The end result is awesome, and fun! Cristi will be appearing with me at conventions throughout 2014, and both last year’s poster, and the new poster below, will be available with every book purchase made at cons.  To see if we are coming to a science fiction and fantasy convention near you, be sure to check out the current list here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

We have winners!

My sincere thank you for all of the shoutouts helping me promote Angst and my contest over the last several weeks. Below you will find a list of everyone who will be receiving a T-Shirt. In addition, I'll be sending out copies of Angst and Buried in Angst to two people below.

Paige Cowling
Susan Lee Burton
Mary Lowery
Paul Martin
Karen Y Bynum
Jim Arrowood
Candi Doss Lutjen
Cheri Holt
Jacci Bradley
Rick Drescher

I need your address and your shirt size for a standard mens t-shirt. Please message me on Twitter or Facebook, or email me at angst(dot)novels at . Thanks again, and if you want to be informed of more contests, I have a newsletter specifically for contests and book release news - feel free to sign up here .

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Random Acts of T-Shirts – A Contest

I ran a contest that I didn’t tell anyone about, and it’s time to share. Much like my character Angst I get a little down sometimes, because, you know, life and that that whole “this isn’t what you were meant to do” thing. It sucks, and I think everyone goes through it, doesn’t matter the age.

Once and awhile I get a muse, or a new friend, or a miracle wrapped in a human body that takes the time to message me on twitter to tell me how much they loved Angst and Buried in Angst.  Sometimes they will post a review to Amazon or Goodreads, sometimes it’s just a well timed thank you for writing the books. I don’t know if I can actually put into words how much this means. But, for a brief second, let me try.

How many times have you had a bad waiter, or received poor service, or could just tell that the person behind the counter didn’t care. It bothered you so much that you were going to write the manager, the president of the company, or maybe the local newspaper…and didn’t. Now, flip that upside down and how many times have you gotten just amazing service, that person that genuinely cared, the right smile at the right time. It deserved more than a good tip and you were going to call or email or write someone but didn’t. Not to be a pessimist, but I think a lot of people make more of an effort to complain than compliment. That’s how significant those messages are.

I’ve always felt those few complaints and compliments represent a much greater force, the unheard from group that by exhaustion or meekness doesn’t speak their heart. This is exactly the reason that one thousandth of one percent who takes the time to do what I’m bad at doing, on either side of the fence, is so significant. Those few who do it for no gain or reason other than to share their genuine opinion inspire me in ways I can’t explain. And I’m so very grateful.

I’m fortunate that this happens several times throughout a month. So, to say thanks, every quarter I put the names in a hat and draw one. I offer the ‘winner’ a T-Shirt. It’s a little thing, and maybe even silly, but I just have to thank them for how much they mean to me. Now, honestly, everyone who has purchased my books and enjoys them deserves a T-Shirt. Heck, if I could buy everyone a house I would. I often joke with my friends that my marketing budget is Twitter (you know, because it’s free.) But if readers make the effort I feel like I have to do something. So, if you happen to be one of those who have received a message asking for your shirt size, I swear I’m not being creepy, it’s just my way of saying thank you! (If I asked for the size of any other article of clothing, I apologize, probably the rum. Probably.)

This month, I get to say thank you to even more people! Due to some miscommunication with my amazing T-Shirt printer, I’m certain on my part (again, I blame the rum), I have a handful of extras. Sounds like a good excuse for a contest!

Tell people about your Angst! Tweet, Facebook, or Google+ the message “I've got Angst and love it, do you?” Let me know by sharing a link here and that’s considered an entry (if you can’t share a link just reply to this post and let me know what you did). I have 10 shirts that I will gladly ship out in late February, and will randomly draw names from a hat. (A top hat, because top hats are cool.)

This contest goes from now through February 1st, 2014. I’ll ship to any country the cheapest way possible, heh, and if I don’t have your shirt size in stock I’ll order it. (It’ll take me a few extra weeks.) In addition, I’ll do a random drawing, two people will receive a signed copy of Angst and Buried in Angst.

If you have any questions, please message me here or on Twitter. One entry per person, and good luck to those who participate. Whether or not you put your name in the hat, thank you very much for reading my books. I’m just getting started, and we are going to have a lot of fun!