Do You Have Angst?: 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I had some Angst in 2015

2015 was a year of incredible highs and terrible lows. It’s been a galactic roller coaster...hey, look, it’s the beautiful Milky Way...hey, look, it’s molten lava in the center of the earth. Ugh. Life threw a lot of extremes at me, and is every reason why I have angst.

The first half of the year was amazing. Just amazing. After a lot of hard work I published Drowning in Angst, my third fantasy novel. I feel like it’s my Empire Strikes Back. If it’s not the best book in the series, I’d like to think it’s close. It’s been well received, meaning I haven’t gotten any hate mail. That’s a good sign.

A lot of great things happened personally that I will always remember. My friend, Marina, got married. Not only did I get to throw her a wedding shower, but I got to sit where family would as she walked down the aisle. I was very touched. I also got to celebrate her 25th birthday with some good friends on a lake trip that I’ll always remember.

This fall, I officiated a wedding for my friends Ashley and Travis. I’ve never done that before and couldn’t be more flattered to be included in something so important. How often do you get the opportunity to help friends take that step? It was glorious.

Every year I think about cutting back on conventions, and every year I’m surprised by how much fun we have. Not only is Cristi a beautiful spokesmodel, a huge help with critiquing my novels, we also have the best adventures at cons! This year, our friends Marina and Mayra both rocked some scalemail armor at ConQuesT in Kansas City. The three of them made that weekend amazing! Not only were they beautiful, not only did they help sell books, but more importantly, we had fun! A friend from work recently asked if Marina was one of my muses. She wasn’t sure if that was the right word, but I was. From here forward I will refer to Cristi, Marina, and Mayra as my muses. All of them are inspiring.

As great as the first half of the year was, the second half was rough. A friend lost her daughter to suicide. My wife and I were close to both of them, and the word tragic doesn’t cover it. I’ve never experienced grief before, and I really never wish to experience it again. I know I will. I think about this every day, and my heart goes out to her family even if it doesn’t make it better. More recently, my mom had a double mastectomy. She’s been battling cancer on and off since I was in college. She’s a fighter, and she’s doing better, but nobody wants to see their parents vulnerable to age or sickness. The good news is that she is just finishing up her final surgery this weekend, and all seems good.

I’ve learned a lot from this year. The most important thing is, don’t hesitate to tell someone you love them. Ever! Not for a second! They may not be here tomorrow for some stupid reason. Tell them, even if it is awkward or weird or is hard. They need to know, and you probably need to tell them. It goes beyond this. Tell people you appreciate them. I fear that we live in a world of hate, it needs all the love we can pour into it. All of it.

Also, don’t stop trying. While I didn’t learn this for the first time this year, my belief has been reaffirmed. Facebook kindly reminded me that I published Angst five years ago. That’s a long time in media years. I can’t imagine how many books and movies and articles and comics have been produced since then. In the short attention span theater of our time, Angst could be long forgotten. But, just the opposite is happening. New readers are still discovering it, relating to it, and enjoying it. Five years after publishing Angst, I received my first handwritten letter thanking me for writing it. Maybe Angst is not going to be forgotten, maybe it’s just getting started! It just proves to me that whether you are five or ninety-five, follow those dreams and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Life is way too short for what ifs.

This year has been a journey of ups and downs. I’m still reeling a bit from the bad times, and making sense of the good. I think it’s good to take a moment and look back on this. Not to dwell or wish something had gone differently, but to remember what it all was. Appreciate the good, learn from the bad, respect that life happens without my input, and then shake it off. Now it’s time to move forward. 2016 is going to be a great year, I’m going to make it so.

Thank you for being a part of my year, and I hope the only Angst in your New Year, is mine! ;)

Friday, November 20, 2015

How Daniel Craig made me feel better about my writing

When I am on the downhill ride of a novel, that part where the ideas tumble out so fast I almost can’t type enough words per minute to keep up, in the back of my head, I remember thinking, “I’m going to keep this momentum going.” At this point of the creative journey, I wake up in the morning and write, I’ll hide at a coffee shop after work and write more, then go home to eat dinner with my family before writing even more after everyone goes to bed. It’s like a sickness. It’s glorious.

When I’m done writing a novel, I’m spent. So much so that I just want to walk away and never look at it again. I love what I've accomplished, but I already ran that marathon and I’m ready for a well-deserved break. Of course, it’s not that easy. The next steps are beta team critiques, editing, cover design, more editing, and lots of marketing. That makes me want to walk away even more.

Months later, when I’ve gotten back in the habit of showing up to work on time, finally fixed that leaky sink, and actually returned to the gym more than 2 days in a row, I start kicking myself, hard. What happened to that momentum? Where did my amazing writing habits go? How is it that life took back over with such a firm grip? Yes, I needed to lose those 10 pounds, and paint the house, and remind my friends I’m alive, and go to that school function, oh yeah, and don’t forget leveling up to 100 and taking the hot office manager to lunch…

The reasons are valid at first, but procrastination eventually takes over. (Taking the hot office manager to lunch is not procrastination, that’s important, but the other stuff is questionable!) I may kick myself, but I still find excuses not to write. The guilt starts seeping in. One of my beta team members will offhandedly comment that I must be getting close to done with the next book by now. Or, a cautious reader will politely ask how the next book is coming. Or, I get the dreaded amazing review that excitedly teases future books. That kind of encouragement is just about everything I could ask for, but I worry that the next novel won’t be as good. So, I beat myself to write words that only trickle out. And then, today, I finally realized...Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig is an amazing James Bond. I haven’t seen Spectre yet, but I’ve enjoyed all of the Bond movies he’s been in. I mean, Skyfall, right? In spite of the accolades and excitement surrounding their release, when he’s finished a Bond movie, he’s done. I mean, really done. You can google plenty of interviews where he states he’s not making another one. He’ll blast the Bond character (most recently as a misogynist) and state he’s never coming back. But, never say never again (see what I did there?). The man gets exhausted. He puts everything he can into doing an amazing job and the last thing he wants to do is dive back in again. He doesn’t even want to think about it...and that explains a lot. Pierce Brosnan summed it up well in an interview with Hitfix, “By the time you finish making a Bond movie, you don't want to hear the name, see the name or have anything to do with it because you just want to go to ground.”

I hope Craig comes back for another Bond film, they are a lot of fun. He has all of my respect whether he chooses to or not, but I get why he wouldn't. I’ve read interviews with Joss Whedon where he discusses how exhausting it is to do a movie like Avengers. At the end of Age of Ultron, he was just as done as Craig is with Bond. I think before deciding to tackle another big project like that, you have to rest, maybe even heal. You need time to remember what you love about that world and the characters in it. You have to remember why it was fun. Now, I get my problem.

No, writing one of my novels is not on the same scale as creating a tentpole blockbuster...yet ;) I, unfortunately, don’t have the same budget. Unfortunately. I also don’t walk away from my life to focus exclusively on my writing, I can’t. But I do pour everything I have into them, to the point of exhaustion. There are nights I have literally written myself to tears. And now that some people enjoy reading them, it’s that much more important to me that the story is the best I can make it. So, when I’m done, I’m exhausted, and want to walk away.

What I need to remember is... that’s okay. Sure, every writer will tell you that to become good you need to write every day. I’ve told plenty of people that myself; it’s solid advice. But, I think it’s just as important to love writing, to love your characters, and to believe in your story. I have a hard time doing that when I’m exhausted, but over time I remember again why I write, why I’m telling this story and what I love about the characters I write about.

For me, that love is coming back, and it’s about damn time. I’ve written roughly 30% of Angst 4, and have plenty of outline for the rest. More importantly, I’ve started making notes at night, I’m getting giggles throughout the day about what I’m going to write in the evening, I’m getting excited again. I love that. And, the good news is that my excuses are almost gone. The house is just about taped back together, my daughter’s marching band season is over, and the gym can go fuck itself! (I still need to make those lunch plans, though). It’s time, and this is the good part, because I can’t wait to share my next story!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Angst Team Profile: Cristi

There is a lot to be said about best friends. They are there when no one else is. They are the ones who ask what’s wrong because they sense it, not because you complain. They are the ones you party with, but can also have a serious conversation with. You can talk about farting, and bad sex, and insecurities, and doctor visits, and family issues, and money, and everything that you won’t talk about at work. You can argue and get over it. You can be socially awkward to the point of passing out from embarrassment, you can make dumb mistakes, and they don’t judge, they just help you through it. I have one of those friends, and her name is Cristi.

I met Cristi at our day job. The minute she started, I was like, whoa - she’s gorgeous! I wanted to introduce myself, but we were in different departments. She worked call center and I was a systems administrator fixing servers. A junior tech had called me in for help with her computer. I wasn’t supposed to, but in spite of the potential that I would be yelled at, I jumped at the chance. When he told me the problem, I immediately dismissed him to find the notes I had already sent on fixing the issue. I could have walked him through the problem, but I wanted that window to introduce myself. It was a total dick move, and an excellent decision.

You see, Cristi has a personality that is genuine. I could immediately tell that she wasn’t fake, she was amazing. Our relationship took off from that first support call. I invited her to my softball team where we both excelled at playing bad and getting drunk together. Not long after we mostly enjoyed a float trip together and the adventures continued from there. I totally helped her land her boyfriend, Brandon! (Okay, that’s really an exaggeration as I was a pain in the ass.) Needless to say we hit it off and in many ways it feels like we are just getting started!

Cristi is amazing on so many levels. Like her boyfriend, Brandon, she loves animals. Her passion goes beyond the sappy love of a cute animal pic (though, there is some of that too) she has also donated her time to support animal shelters, as well as fostering pets in need. I can also say that she loves people too, especially when they don’t talk to her. (I highly recommend not talking to her in the morning. Shhh.)

She’s not just a pretty face. (Okay, she’s strikingly pretty, but that’s stating the obvious!) I really respect how hard she works. That may sound silly, but she’s the type of person that is always early to work and often staying late. She taught herself that, which makes it even more impressive! Cristi put herself through college and I watched her quickly work her way up from call center agent to being an insurance underwriter in an incredibly complicated field. There are a lot of brains, hard work, and common sense behind her fun loving attitude. It’s why I respect her opinion so much and appreciate her input on my life, and my writing.

Cristi is not a nerd. Just the opposite, she has very little interest in fantasy or science fiction or superheroes or, well, you get the idea. In spite of this, not only has she read my first book multiple times, she has critiqued and contributed to Buried in Angst and Drowning in Angst. Even beyond that, Cristi volunteers her time to be my spokesmodel at conventions. Let me emphasize that she volunteers to help promote my book by rocking the chainmail bikini. I couldn’t possibly afford the modeling she does, and nor does she ever ask for recompense. It always blows people away that she’s beautiful, approachable, but is also involved. I’ve sold a lot of books because of her efforts. But more important, we’ve connected with a lot of people. And, we have fun. We get drunk at cons like professionals. We not only enjoy the adventure, we try to be a part of it!

We are an interesting pair that make a lot of heads turn, and it cracks us up. We go out to a nice dinner and the 20 year age difference brings us great looks of surprise. She’s a head taller, I’m short and pudgy, so she’s obviously not my daughter. We have great chemistry, like close friends do. I don’t know how many times we’ve been asked if we are something else. It makes me feel bad for those asking, for what they are missing in their lives. You see, we are something else, Cristi and I are a great team!

I tease her that I’m her “backup”. If her parents, or besties, or boyfriend, can’t be there for whatever reason, I can often fill in the blank. At the same time, she supports me without question. Cristi is amazing! I couldn’t ask for a better friend, or a better teammate. She has been a force in making my books what they are, and an influence in making my life better, and I’m eternally grateful!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Come visit us at Archon 39 in St. Louis!

After a great time last year, we had to come back for more! Archon will be our last Science Fiction and Fantasy convention of the year - so be sure to stop by and join us for the fun!

I'll be participating in five panels, and moderating two:
Fri 3:00p Salon 4 Star Trek: Past, Present, and Future
Sat 3:00p Illini A Marvel Cinematic Universe (M)
Sat 4:00p Cahokian DC and Marvel TV Shows: Who Does What Better?
Sat 6:00p Illini B DC Movies: Can They Catch Up?
Sun 12:00p Mississippian Marketing for the Self-Published Author (M)

Please visit us at bookseller's row and:

  • See Cristi, gorgeous and amazing Angst spokesmodel, on Saturday!
  • Pick up your copy of the 3rd Angst novel: Drowning in Angst!
  • Get a free poster of Cristi with your purchase!
  • Sign up for our newsletter and you could win an Angst T-shirt!

You can find us at table 17 while the dealer's room is open:
Friday: 4-8
Saturday: 10-6
Sunday: 10-2

Archon 39 will be hosted at:
Gateway Convention Center
One Gateway Drive, Collinsville, IL
October 2nd-4th

Be sure to check out their website for details!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Success vs. Accomplishment

I’m not what some would call a successful writer. This is not a complaint, merely a realization. I haven’t sold 100,000 books, they haven’t made Angst The Motion Picture, I haven’t been interviewed on a late night talk show. (Yet.) Hell, since 2005 I’ve only completed three books when many of my indie peers pump out 2-3 books a year. (For which I have all the respect in the world for them. Amazing!) A lot of people would find this discouraging. Some would even throw in the towel.

This summer I was on a panel at a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention where a successful indie author literally scoffed at my lack of success. I didn’t record the panel, and I was probably drinking, so I’m paraphrasing. But basically, he said if an indie writer wasn’t making the same level of effort he did and making at least 30K a year then their self-publishing was nothing more than vanity press. He was very much about taking small business classes at community colleges or you are wasting your time. If you are in it for the money (and I’m sure most are to some extent), he wasn’t wrong. Or was he?

Every once and awhile when I do get frustrated and discouraged about my writing, and I do, something happens. I get a reminder to keep going and to believe in what I’m writing. This weekend, I received two. The first was from a Twitter friend in Australia, who I hope to meet one day. He first messaged me awhile back when he was unable to find a copy of Angst at any local bookstore. The fact that he went to look for it, at multiple stores, is touching. He went so far as to purchase a signed copy from me to have it shipped halfway around the world. He messaged me tonight about how excited he was to receive my third novel Drowning in Angst. I couldn’t be more flattered.

Over the weekend, something unexpected happened that still hasn’t completely sunk in. Let me start by saying I’ve been rebuilding my house. (I swear, sometimes it feels like this place has been attacked by the seven plagues.) The most recent plague has been siding dry rot, the eighth plague. Last weekend, I ordered a delivery of building materials. The delivery man mentioned something about our local Renaissance Festival (which is amazing, by the way!) Ever the salesman, I brought up my fantasy novel, Angst. He actually remembered me from Planet Comicon and had a picture of Cristi in costume on his phone. That was bad ass! So, I tipped him with a signed copy of Angst. Today, I received a letter from him. He loved the first novel, has already read the second, Buried in Angst, and ordered the third.

It was the first handwritten letter I have ever received about my novels. In this day of e-everything, who sends a letter? It takes an effort, it’s inconvenient, and it’s incredibly thoughtful. It was a “faith in humanity restored” sort of moment. He related to the book, totally got what I was trying to write, and said some nice things about me personally. I think about the few times I’ve gone out of my way to compliment someone like this and can’t help but appreciate the significance.

If success is measured in money, then please, don’t come to me for advice. I have, however, accomplished a lot in my life. I’ve run two, pretty slow, 26 mile marathons. I’ve climbed up two 14,000 foot mountains. I’ve been married 22 years (an accomplishment in this day and age). I’ve got two amazing kids who have grown up to be amazing young adults. I’ve marched in Thee University of Wisconsin Marching Band, honestly, as challenging as any of these if not moreso. I’ve written over 400,000 words that quite a few people have actually enjoyed. No, I’m not successful, but I feel accomplished, and it feels pretty good.

When you get down about your sales, about the lack of money you’re making, or even about those few bad reviews - remember why you’re doing this. Sometimes it’s not about success. Sometimes it’s about passion. Sometimes it’s about believing in yourself and the story you have to tell. Sometimes, it’s about your goals, and not theirs. So go out there and do what you believe in, and at the end of the day, enjoy what you have accomplished.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Is the Shot Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Whew! I mean really, whew! Yesterday was rough! I worked a half day in the morning for my day job before spending six hours with my dad and sister waiting for Mom to come out of surgery. I got home and played some Heroes of the Storm with my old friend (and beta-reader) Matt, for his birthday. Before we could finish, my wife got home from her workout and my daughter got home from work just as I got an emergency call from my job that took almost 3 hours to resolve. Yesterday was a lot. I could easily say the shot glass was half empty, or worse. It may have been broken and shattered, with tiny little pieces of glass everywhere.

This isn’t a bitch and whine post (well, maybe it is a little) but I’m actually grateful if not a little harried. There are two ways to look at that mess of a day. If the shot glass were half empty, I could start by bitching about my mom having fucking cancer! She’s 72 and shouldn’t have to deal with breast cancer at this point in her life, she should be on a beach getting served something with rum in it by a gorgeous young man who winks at her. She deserves that! I could complain about having to wait for 6 hours, about 3 hours longer than projected, in a cold waiting room at the hospital with uncomfortable chairs and poor communication. I could bitch about my gaming time with Matt being cut short by work (on his birthday), and barely getting to chat with my wife and daughter. I didn’t get to work on my fourth fantasy novel, nor any other projects that are weighing on me a lot these days. Yeah, it was that kind of day, a half empty shot glass kind of day, and I had every right to go to bed bitter. But, I actually felt pretty good.

Mom faced a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery like a champ. She’s been a cancer survivor once, and at 72 is going to do it again. (Moral of the story: don’t smoke, kids.) It was tough seeing her after surgery, but Mom is tough as nails and we had to talk her into accepting pain meds because she’s “got a high tolerance for pain.” I got to spend the better part of the day with my dad and sister. I was there for them as much as I was for my mom. Waiting was tense, my mom isn’t young, and it was easy to worry. But my family was there. We all have a pretty twisted sense of humor, so a few laughs helped us pass the time. (Thanks Crap Taxidermy!) I got to spend some time gaming with one of my oldest friends on his birthday, and it was a great reprieve from an otherwise stressful day. My wife and daughter had good days, they are safe and healthy. I helped resolve the work emergency, and I’d like to think much faster than if I hadn’t been there. (I even received some nice kudos.)

Is it half full or half empty? Often, I think it’s about outlook. It’s about my attitude. That’s not always the case. Some things aren’t surmountable. My friend losing her daughter to suicide last month? You don’t get over that, not completely. Cancer? Fuck cancer and stay away from my mom! (And everyone else while you’re at it!) But today, I’ll look at the bright side. Mom survived. My time was spent well with people I love. Crises were averted. My shot glass is full, probably of something tasty, and I’m going to drink deep. I deserve it!

I would be remiss not to share some links:

Please educate yourself on breast cancer, it affects 1 in 8 women. is a great place to start! There are a lot of organizations to donate to like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Also, this week is National Suicide Prevention Week! #StopSuicide #CelebrateSara

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Underinspired and Getting Through It

I’ve been underinspired over the last month, and if you read my last blog post you’ll understand why. After that weekend, I haven’t felt like doing much. (Someone please come mow my lawn.) My son was in town for a few weeks, visiting before college started up, and the timing of his visit couldn’t have be better. I’ve a great need these days to tell friends and family how much I love them. His visit was the perfect excuse to hide, at first, but it became more than that.

My kids (though, at 21 and 18 they aren’t really kids) are busy. My son is starting his senior year of college and prepping for Law School. My daughter began her senior year of High School and is making plans for college. They have jobs, friends, clubs and are always on the go. It’s hard to be a lump on the couch when you’re caught up in that tornado. I’m not really good at being a lump anyway.

I’ve been walking in the mornings, not because I want to, but because I know I should. I’ve been putting in the hours at the day job, keeping ‘busy’ enough to avoid most things social. My house needs painting (like over the last 10 years) so I’m doing something about that. I’ve even been writing; some nights I’ve produced a surprising amount of words. They don’t go together very well, it’s nothing my beta team or editor will see (in this form, anyway.) But I’m writing.

I’ve been doing all this stuff without the excitement or passion that normally drives me. The passion for life that I see right now in my kids. I typically run, I don’t walk. I never avoid social. My writing is usually filled with brand new words I create, hacked together turns of phrase that sometimes work, and very thorough descriptions of beautiful women. These days I’m throwing up a lot of dialog because, for whatever reason, it comes easy. I’m not hitting my goals. I’m not particularly proud of myself. I’m to the moon and back from being inspired. But I’m doing it, and I feel like it’s slowly getting better. (Though, not always the writing.)

Today I went into hiding for another reason - for me. I took a David day to clean out the cobwebs. I did some book stuff (like marketing) that I’ve been avoiding. I’m writing this blog post, and next I’m going to work on book four. I’m going to plan out what I’m writing over the next week, and then I’m actually going to write. The baby steps over the last month have finally built up to something, even if that something took it’s sweet time.

It doesn’t take a death or a tragedy to trigger underinspired. Personally, I find there are plenty of things that can get me down, many that probably shouldn’t. I believe the most important thing you can do is keep going, even if you aren’t doing, whatever it is you want to do, very well. The easiest thing in the world to do is to not walk, to not show up, to not write. Yeah, walking really isn’t running, but it’s so much better than lying on the couch. (I keep telling myself that.) A little progress is better than none, so I’ll keep writing poorly until it gets better. And when I do get inspired, I’ll review those words and make them shine. Eventually. So go out there and do and, eventually, you’ll get back to where you should be.

I need to add a quick note about my last blog post and share about someone who is doing. My friend, who lost her daughter to suicide a month ago, has been speaking out about it on her blog. A great example was a recent post about the ripple effect of suicide and how many lives it touches. I couldn’t be more grateful for the post. It helped me relate to the distance and numbness I was wading through. I’ve never lost anyone that I’ve been close to, and as far as I’m concerned I never really need to grieve again. It was only a glimpse of what my friend and her family are going through. I can understand how easy it would be for her to give up, but instead she is speaking out about suicide and how she is affected by it. The posts aren’t an easy read, but I encourage you to visit her blog and share her message Thank you.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sometimes there aren’t the right words

Thursday night I received a call from an old friend who lost her sixteen year old daughter to suicide. I don’t completely have the words I need for everything that is going through my mind, but I’m also a writer. I need this outlet to express myself and start taping up the hole in my heart so I can be strong if I’m called on. Right now I don’t seem to have enough tape.

I’ve known this friend and her daughter for seven years. There was a period of time during our friendship that we were inseparable. We were both struggling with parts of our lives, and were there for each other. We were so close, and had such chemistry, that people who didn’t know us would often ask if we were dating. An odd question to be asked by a stranger, but I’m sure the age difference and the hot chick / stubby dude combination made them wonder. It was always a joke between us because we were never romantic, just close. One time, we were standing in line at a haunted house, talking with another couple. The man asked, “How old are you?” My friend answered, “29”. He then turned to me and asked, “And you?” I was 40 at the time. The man then concluded, “29…40…that can work.” I teased her about that for years.

Her daughter would often spend the night. She was several years younger than our own daughter, so they were sometimes great friends, and sometimes reluctant friends in a sisterly sort of way. My wife and I adored her. She was bright and always full of energy. I fondly remember many nights watching old Star Trek episodes. She would often sit next to me, something my teenagers were much too old to do, so it was pretty wonderful. When she discovered that we had a mini trampoline, she would jump on it while watching shows until we got tired. One day while driving her to my house for a sleepover, she proclaimed there was a monster in the car and it was in the front seat. I teased that the monster had to be in the back seat. The mock argument went on for some time, and that became our nickname for each other, monster.

As it happens sometimes, my friend and I fell out of touch. We began working for different companies and saw less of each other. She found the right guy, fell in love and got married. It became harder to spend time together. There were some hurt feelings in the parting, I’m certain on both sides, and it’s more complicated and boring than I care to go into. But as time heals most wounds, earlier this year we met for drinks. One thing led to another and the company I work for hired her on. It’s been great seeing her every day again, a touch of what things used to be when we were close, and I’m happy to have her back in my life. Before I left work Thursday, we went for a brief walk, much of our conversation was about her daughter and how fast she was growing up.

My friend called Thursday night to tell me she had found her daughter after getting home from work. Understandably, her mind was all over the place and she was worried about taking time off after just getting hired. We fortunately work for an amazing company with great people, and I hope that I made it clear to her that she had nothing to worry about. My wife, who was standing there listening, said that I explained myself well, that I was strong for her, but to me it’s a bit of a blur. I had to muster up some of that strength and courage I write about to choke down the sobs. Writing about it is much easier than actually doing it.

I rarely cry to the point that I’ve wondered if my tear ducts had dried out long ago. It’s not because I’m a man, or a sociopath, I just don’t. I didn’t. I guess now I do. I’ve been heartsick over the last 24 hours, and the tears seem to stop only when I become exhausted. Losing someone, and the mourning process, is possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.

I also feel like the most selfish person in the world right now. What has happened isn’t about me, it’s about my friend and her family. We haven’t been close for years, not like we were. That young woman who died wasn’t my daughter. But she was a part of our lives. It hit so close to home. I was always very fond of her, and that never changed. If it hurts me this much for me, I can’t even begin to fathom what her family is going through, what my friend is going through.

My heart goes out to them, and especially to her. I will do everything I can to be there when asked. To my friend, and her family, I can only say this. Your daughter was an amazing person and my family couldn’t be more grateful for the time we got to spend with her. Thank you for letting her be a part of our lives, and a part of mine.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Angst Team Profile: Brandon

Over the next year I’m going to occasionally shout out people who are a part of my team on this blog. Writing is rarely done alone. It takes a team of supporters who are there for you in many ways. Some read and critique, some shoutout and share what you’ve accomplished, some show up to the party and help with the heavy lifting.

This blog post is to recognize my good friend, Brandon. Before I start, something you need to understand is how very different we are. I’m a nerd and a half, he isn’t. Brandon loves sportsball in all of its flavors and I went to games because I was in the band. I love video games, he may have heard people talking about them once. He has fitness down to a science, and I struggle to pick up the fork filled with cake. To say we are different is an understatement.

I met Brandon during my last day job where I did IT and he provides telecom support – so we were sort of on the same team. He mostly kept to himself, but was easy to get along with from the beginning. I think where we initially clicked was our sense of humor. That’s different too, but in a way that we’ve had more than our share of good laughs. Brandon is also a voracious reader, and while he has no interest in fantasy he purchased a copy of Angst soon after meeting me just to be supportive – because that’s the kind of person he is. Of the things we have in common, the most important is Cristi.

Cristi, my incredible, beautiful, best friend, book team member and spokesmodel is also Brandon’s girlfriend. When they first met, at the same company I worked for, it didn’t take long for Cristi to ask what I know about him. (I mean, who in the world would be interested in a 6’2” weight lifter with a great sense of humor?) So, being the helper that I am, I told her all he did is work out, go to church, and he was hung like my little pinky. (Which is still a joke, because how in the world would I know?) Cristi is a very direct person, so she soon asked about these things. He rolled with my joke like a professional stuntman, and despite my “help”, they’ve been dating for 3 years. You’ve rarely met a couple so perfect, not only do they get each other, they look amazing together. (Damn them both ;) )

Brandon is a beast, but he’s not the type of weightlifter that makes you feel bad for not being one. It doesn’t come naturally, he works hard at it, and I admire the hell out of what he has accomplished. He’s also the first person to offer advice and guidance in the most gentle way possible. (During a recent round of advice, he politely suggested “lowering my caloric intake” rather than saying “quit boozing and eating so much cake fatty”.) This is where I feel like we’ve really got something in common. Unfortunately, not the amazing body and dedication to fitness (which I find akin to piano playing, I’d love to play incredibly well without taking lessons. I’d love to be built like a superhero without exercising.) I mean that we are both committed to our goals, we both have a passion for something that means a lot to us. I’ve given similar, positive advice to young writers in the same way he helps friends. It’s a goal of mine to be as good at writing as he is at fitness.

The dude also has a big heart. Not only being there for friends, but he has a special need to help animals. Brandon and Cristi have adopted pets, fostered puppies, and donated to animal charities. Recently my wife and I were driving back from a lake trip, and they were close behind. We struck a deer on the way home. Considering the damage done, I had assumed the poor beast was dead. They pulled over to check on us, and then let us know that the doe was still alive and we needed to do something about it. I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly, but thanks to their guidance we called a ranger station to take care of things. It’s callous, but I wouldn’t have thought of that, and should have. Just an example of something I admire about my friend.

Throughout my life, my closest friends have been women, and sometimes their boyfriends end up with a David allergy. (I’m pretty sure it’s because of my amazing body and incredible hair…oh, wait, that’s Brandon.) Cristi and I travel to cons throughout the year, and rather than getting upset at this, he supports what we are trying to do. Brandon has also been to many cons, taking on the thankless job of watching the booth when we are pretending to be famous, or grabbing food for us. In addition, he has shouted out my books on Twitter and Facebook countless times. He has also been invaluable at Cristi's photo shoots, directing many of her poses while I take pictures.

I know this blog post will embarrass him, but I would be remiss in not acknowledging how important he has been in helping me accomplish what I’m trying to do. Sometimes you need more than a reader, or an editor. Sometimes you need a friend, and he’s become a great one, and that’s why I consider him a part of my team. Happy Birthday, Brandon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A SoonerCon Adventure!

I don’t know of a time when I didn’t have to work really, really hard for something I wanted. I’m not sure if I just do it wrong or if the universe is conspiring against me. (It is, actually, documented fact). I won’t roll over and say, “Thank you sir, may I have another?” I’m too stoopid to figure out the right way to do things. All I can do is dig in my heels and work harder.

Before I explain, let me start out by saying that SoonerCon was an overwhelming success. It was the first time Cristi and I attended, and I couldn’t be happier, in spite of some challenges that we faced (which had nothing to do with the con.)

On Thursday evening, I drove the five hours from Kansas City to Oklahoma City. If you’ve ever driven the route, it’s very scenic, all of the grass fields you would ever want to see. It actually went pretty quickly, thanks to the audiobook of Jim Butcher’s fifth novel Death Masks (I’m loving his work!), and I arrived in time to set up my table. I was a little worried when I found myself at the inside corner of the back of the room, but as I said, it was my first time attending so not surprising. I crashed hard and fast after a long day, which was good because the convention went from 10am – 7pm on Friday.

I admit, I was a little irritated about the 10am start time on a Friday. At most cons I go to, there typically aren’t a lot of con goers that take Friday off work to walk the floors and attend panels. I wasn’t irritated for long, however, maybe five, ten minutes tops. For a con that boasts 1,500 or so attendance, a surprising number showed up Friday, and it was, hands down, the best Friday I’ve ever had at a con for book sales. I was floored. Everyone I spoke with was gracious, welcoming, and happy to listen to me talk about my midlife crisis. I couldn’t be more grateful.

After the con, I had a really nice dinner with Carl, a friend that I’ve known for several years, exclusively from cons. Just an example of one of the things I love most about cons, meeting great people and making new friends. One new friend I made at this con was Wes Bowen, who had the table next to me, and turned out to be one of the best neighbors I could hope for. I highly encourage you to check out his stuff. Good people!
Everything was going smoothly until Friday night, when it seemed the universe again had other ideas about my plans. Cristi wasn’t available to drive down with me, and had a flight scheduled to arrive at 11pm which, of course, had a layover in Dallas because that’s on the way to Oklahoma City. :/ Her flight was delayed so I called Fucking American Airlines (new name) to ask if they could hold her connecting flight to OKC. I was monitoring times on my laptop while on hold, for 15 minutes, when the flight went from On Time to Cancelled. Fuuuuuuuuu!

When someone finally answered from FuAA, I asked why the flight was cancelled and was told weather. I then asked when the next flight would be, and the attendant didn’t know. I told her how disappointed I was, and she hung up on me. She hung up! It was 9pm, and I wouldn’t consider ditching Cristi, so I hopped in my car and headed to Dallas.

She messaged me on the way, worried about her flight being cancelled. I replied ‘omw’. She said, “No, I’m not in Oklahoma, I’m in Texas.” I answered, “Yup. I’ll be there in two and a half hours. Get your luggage, and I’ll pick you up.” Cristi attempted to get her luggage, but the hate-filled FnAA employee in Dallas told her it was already on its way to Oklahoma and would get there when it got there. Cristi threw in the towel, found a bar, and I drove.

Needless to say, when I arrived at midnight, Cristi was in great spirits. I’m glad we didn’t get pulled over, because even though I wasn’t drinking, I probably would have gotten a DUI just from sitting next to her! I couldn’t blame her, and I was totally jealous. Our usual Friday night con plan is to hit room parties, and I’m glad one of us got to relax. She deserved it!

We arrived back at the hotel at 3:30am and I passed out at 4ish. I woke up before my alarm, giving me enough time to find coffee and be con-ready at 10am. I spent the rest of the day meeting some amazing people, being impressed by loads of costumes, and selling even more books. I even bumped into the special guest, Robert Picardo, in the hotel lobby. I gave him a surprised, “Hi!” and he politely said hi back. I could immediately tell he was pretty cool, and from the pics I’ve seen he was an awesome Guest of Honor.  After the vendor room closed, Cristi and I both power-napped, grabbed dinner, and wandered the halls for awhile. Room parties were sparse, but that’s probably for the best because I didn’t mind the sleep.

I had one “Holy Crap” moment that I have to share. If you follow my blog, you know I go to quite a few cons. We see a lot of amazing costumes, and a lot of beautiful people wearing them. When I see a gorgeous woman that really stands out, I’ll lean over to Cristi and say, in my smarmiest voice, “Have I told you, I’m a famous author?” It’s one of my favorite “indie-author pick-up lines”, and totally meant to be a joke, so she made it into a shirt for me. Anyway, I was on the elevator with a bunch of con attendees, wearing the “famous author” t-shirt, and someone asked if it’s true. I said, “I’m not famous, but I am an author promoting my book series.” The person asked, “What series?” I replied, “The Angst fantasy series.” As if on cue, everyone on the elevator nodded and smiled, indicating they recognized the books. I felt like I was being punked! I couldn’t believe the reaction, but they genuinely knew who I was. I was terribly flattered, and humbled.

Sunday was more great stuff of book sales, nice people, a few costumes, and heading home. One woman, who kindly purchased the first book, said that next year she may cosplay as Cristi and ask me to sign her. Did I mention this was an awesome convention? That was never on my bucket list, but it is now.

This con was one of the best for book sales, and I made new friends, and I had fun. As always, though, I also had to work really hard for it. There are probably better ways to write, to con, to live, but I haven’t found the guidebook yet. So, until someone says, “Why didn't you just click this button? That’s all you had to do this entire time!” I’m just going to keep plowing through the challenges the universe keeps throwing at me until I get what I want. I hope you’ll continue to join me in the adventure!

Be sure to check out the rest of the SoonerCon pics on my Facebook page here!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Drowning in Angst book release party and more at ConQuesT!

You're officially invited to the red carpet grand premiere of the greatest Drowning in Angst book release party ever!

  ConQuesT is hosting another great convention in Kansas City over Memorial Day weekend. This year's guests includes George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson. There are over 200 events scheduled throughout the weekend, including the Drowning in Angst room party!
ConQuesT has graciously provided me with a room to celebrate the release of my third fantasy novel. Join us Saturday night May 23rd at 8pm in the Andy Kirk A/B room at the downtown Marriott. We have a lot planned, including:

  • Prizes and more prizes! T-shirts - Books - Posters - More!
  • Get your picture taken with the Angst models!
  • Wield the giant sword Chryslaenor!
  • Enjoy the not-too-dramatic reading from Drowning in Angst!
  • Be one of the first to pick up your signed copy of Drowning in Angst!

Memorial Day weekend is going to be a lot of fun. In addition to the room party, I will also be participating, or moderating, in the following panels:

Saturday 10:00 AM     Room: Julia Lee A/B
Superhero Overload: Comic Books are taking over Television and Hollywood!
The Flash, Arrow, SHIELD, and Constantine were just the start! Are you ready for Supergirl, Teen Titans, Atom, Daredevil and The Defenders? Hold onto your seats as we discuss this new era of superhero television. Panelists will also discuss the current Hollywood trend of "shared universe" film franchises. What worked, what didn't, and what is coming next!

Saturday 1:00 PM     Room: Lester Young A
Evil indie authors: Are indie authors the bane of the publishing industry, or are they generating some healthy competition? Is it quality versus quantity? Are indie books all bad, or do you find diamonds in that rough? Join us for a fun debate as we discuss the pros and cons of the effect indie authors are having on the publishing industry.

Saturday 4:00 PM     Room: Lester Young A
Booze in Spaaaaaaaace..... Humanity has left the earth and traveled to far reaches of the universe. What does this mean for the tasty beverages we enjoy? How do you make tequila without agave, beer without grain, wine without grapes? Panelists will explore the evolution of booze once we enter that final frontier.

Sunday 10:00 AM     Room: Jay McShann B
Define your hero: A young man or woman with exceptional potential held back by circumstances out of their control until they meet an old mentor who sends them on a path to become a hero. It's an honored discourse told time and time again. Why does it still work? Who breaks the mold? What about the anti-hero? Join us as we discuss the cornerstone of fantasy and science-fiction novels.

Sunday 1:00 PM Room     Jay McShann B
Authors (and Readers) Behaving Badly: We'll discuss the Do’s and Do Nots for author/reader interactions. Also known as when to speak up and when to shut up.

I hope you will be able to join us!
ConQuesT 46 The Adventure Begins HERE!
May 22-24, 2015
KC Downtown
Register at

Friday, April 24, 2015

Drowning in Angst is now available for purchase!

I'm excited to announce that my third fantasy novel Drowning in Angst is now available for purchase! You can order print and ebook versions from the list below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


Barnes & Noble


Google Play


Friday, April 10, 2015

Book 3 is ready...and it's weird

My 21 year old son texted me from college that he likes the taste of White Russians. So many thoughts rushed through my brain.Me too! I hope he's being safe! Try it with rum instead of vodka! OMG he's really 21! All within those five seconds, I concluded that I'm glad he shared. As a parent, I always want to be available to discuss anything. My second thought is, it was weird. Not that he's enjoying a drink, he's certainly old enough. There's just something hanging out there about my own son being a grown man.

I started my son project 21 years ago, and my daughter project 17 years ago. I’ve had a lot of time to prep for the empty nest. I’m proud of them both and can’t wait to see how life unfolds for them. I can only imagine good things. That said, nothing readies you for them being out there. You do your best to prepare them, but you can’t stand by them the entire time and defend against the haters, cheer them on when they succeed, or just tell them how much you love them when they may need to hear it.

I started my Angst project 5 years ago, and released the second book in 2013. I remember finishing Angst and thinking, “I did it!” I remember finishing Buried in Angst with a profound sense of relief, thinking, “It’s done!” Drowning in Angst is different. While there are two more books left in the series that I wish I could write tomorrow, this one ties together a lot of ideas I’ve had since the beginning. It’s pretty big in scope, but I think it’s still rooted in fun. As silly as it may sound, I’ve cried and laughed several times at things that happen in Drowning in Angst. I can only hope it shows how vested I am in this story.

Releasing this third novel is like watching one of your kids leave, and knowing they will only come back to visit. You do everything you can, pouring your heart and mind and will and experience into every thought and argument. You raise them the best you can, you hope for the very best, but at the end of the day you either worry yourself silly or say ‘fuck it, fingers crossed.’

This is how I feel about finishing Drowning in Angst. Please don’t misunderstand, I love it and I’m so excited to share. But it’s also a little weird, to me, that it’s time to set it free.

Drowning in Angst, the third novel in the Angst series of fantasy novels will be available April 24, 2015.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Drowning in Angst Book Cover and Blurb

The five elements are at war and Ehrde is their battlefield. The only one who can possibly protect the inhabitants, is a hero bonded to a foci, a weapon of unimaginable power. Unfortunately, the hero is having a little problem.

Bonding with the giant sword saved Angst’s life, but didn’t make it easier. All of the great power that comes with wielding a foci is now out of control. Angst just wanted to be a hero, a knight of Unsel, but his mid-life crisis has created a trail of destruction, including the death of Water’s beloved.
Now, to save Rose, Angst and his friends must cross the ocean where Water is most powerful. But how can he keep them safe when the very sword that makes him a hero doesn’t work right?

Drowning in Angst is the third fantasy novel in David J. Pedersen’s Angst series. Join Angst and his friends as they continue…

A Midlife Crisis in Medieval Times

Coming Soon!

Monday, February 2, 2015

99 Designs and Me: Creating a new cover for Drowning in Angst

It’s kind of a funny story. The cover for my first fantasy novel, Angst, was created by Chevsy, a Serbian artist I found on Deviant Art. He was great to work with, and very patient. Very. There was a little communication barrier, I don’t speak art, and needless to say his English was far better than my Serbian. I sent him way too much information and ended up with a solid cover featuring everything you see, and Thor. Instead of Angst, the cover featured a blond haired hero with flowing locks. To no fault of the artist, I tried several times to request a middle-age man, which I guess does not translate well. In a last ditch effort, I had my wife photograph the back of my head…and it ended up on the cover. At that point, I threw in the towel and gave new cannon fodder to everyone who says my novels are autobiographical. (They aren’t. Really. I have no giant magical sword.)

I’m sure it’s a common frustration with indie writers, and probably all writers in general. What you write isn’t always what everyone else pictures. When Chevsy was too busy to create the cover for my second novel, Buried in Angst, I went back to Deviant Art and had the pleasure of working with Joshua Calloway. He is incredibly professional, efficient, and does amazing work. Check it out, and contact him for a great cover!

I wanted something different for the cover of my upcoming fantasy novel, Drowning in Angst. I feel like I missed the mark with the first two. Chevsy and Josh both did great. It really isn’t them, it’s me. Being indie means you do all of that grass-roots stuff. Finding various artists that do great work within your budget. You want Jeff Miracola work at a high school art student price. So, I don’t always get what I want based on my descriptions.

A couple of fellow indie writers had recommended 99 Designs to me. I liked how both of their covers turned out, so I visited the site. 99 Designs hosts a contest on your behalf. You provide a thorough description of what you are looking for, and the prize package amount. There are two rounds to the contest, and you end up with a new cover within a week. I really liked the idea and tried the $500 package.

It started out pretty rough with very few entries. By request, I asked 99 Designs to make the contest private, so the artists couldn’t see each other’s work. This generated a little more interest, but not as much as I had hoped. The last 24 hours of the first phase was exciting with some very solid entries. When round one was over, I invited friends to vote the covers and provide anonymous comments. Their feedback was very helpful and five of the covers made it into round two. I spent the rest of the week requesting tweaks, and tomorrow I’ll make the announcement to the designers.

The end result: I love the cover for Drowning in Angst! It’s different than my first two novels, and I hope the artist will work with me on more covers in the future. The other four artists did amazing work, and one really stood out – a definite favorite in the poll I ran – but it would have required rebranding everything with new logos. That said, I’m not disappointed even a little, and I'll be sharing the cover soon!

99 Designs was great to work with. Their website has a very intuitive interface, and the process is easy to follow. I emailed them early on, whining about the lack of entries, and they were more than willing to help. I would do business with them again, but probably not in the way you would think.
After starting this process, I was researching how to involve more designers when I came across some articles about the evil of spec work. While there is a great advantage for me to receive multiple design concepts, only one person will get paid for their work. When this sunk in (I’m slow sometimes) it weighed on me throughout the contest. It changed my perspective on changes I would ask for. When I stopped being interested in a design, I stopped asking for changes because I didn’t want the artist to spend their (unpaid) time working on it. I still like the idea of receiving multiple submissions, it’s been a great experience, but I think there is a better way.

In the future, I will hire the designer I’m going to contract through 99 Designs instead of using a contest. Below are the five finalists’ profiles. (Some of them do not have their designs up yet.) They’ve all been excellent to work with. If you use 99 Designs for a contest, I encourage you to invite each of them. You can also hire them directly through 99 Designs without the contest. Please check out their links below:

Ddialethe  Catoz  El art  wwinn69  Jason Moser