Do You Have Angst?: September 2015

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