Do You Have Angst?: July 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Aging Loudly

It’s time I admit the worst kept secret on the internet, I’m aging poorly. I’m wrinkling like a washed shirt that was hung to dry but should have been pressed. I’m fat like those clickbait ads you see on crappy websites telling you about this one, little, secret… My thinning hair would be perfect for a Bosley commercial. To make it worse, it now takes me longer to recover from exercise and booze. It all adds up to the simple fact that I let myself get older...but I don’t regret it for a second.

I remember in high school thinking that I never wanted to get pudgy like my dad. I may have even said this out loud. (Sorry Dad!) My father was never really overweight, he never “exercised” in the traditional sense, but it certainly wasn’t because the word lazy is in his lexicon. He was just really focused on his company, managing the house, and being a great father and husband. At the time, I ran 15 miles a day and looked like the beanstalk Jack climbed. (Uh, a really short beanstalk.) Now, here I am, one ‘kid’ starting college, the other starting Law School, I have a full time job and spend the rest of my time writing. (That’s two full time jobs.) Working out sounds like a great idea, of course, but then so does Starbucks. Needless to say, I look up to my father a lot. I’m still learning from him, and 30 years later, I think I get it.

I recently had the pleasure of spending the weekend on a lake trip with some great friends. This is the second year we’ve all pitched in on a nice house using Airbnb, and I’m already looking forward to next year! I’m truly grateful for being included since a lot of these friends are in their 20s and my wife and I aren’t. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spending time with all of them, and some are amongst my closest friends, but my wife and I are far in the lead when it comes to the aging contest. Other than a little gentle teasing, nobody cares, I certainly don’t. In my wife’s words, “I’m glad you found your tribe.”

I posted pictures of the lake trip to Facebook and one of my friends was less than happy with how they looked in several pictures. To say they are working rigorous hours to meet their career goals is an understatement. That means it’s nearly impossible to take that casual 5 mile run after a ten hour work day, or spend the weekend preparing healthy meals when that’s your study time. When you actually decide to do something, goals can be unforgiving.

I used to really kick myself over this, and still do to a lesser extent, but I really shouldn’t. When I’m not at work, I’ve been focused like a laser on my books. I let the grass grow a little long around the house (sorry neighbors), I walk a couple days a week instead of a full workout regimen, but I’m writing like my life depends on it. The thing is, I really embrace my goals, and if I spread myself too thin, I won’t meet any of them.

I may have been the oldest, chubbiest, oldest person at that lake trip. I definitely looked worse than anyone else in a swimsuit. (Woof, don’t ask me about my swimsuit...and no more pictures standing next to Cristi’s fiance, Brandon. Jerk. ;) ) But I didn’t let any of that get in the way of my fun. And I excelled at having fun! If I could go back five years and choose between my life’s passion of writing novels, or trying to look like Hugh Jackman to impress a bunch of hot 20 somethings, I’d choose the writing. Had I looked like Hugh, the trip wouldn’t have been any different, but I would have had regrets for not following through with what I really wanted out of life. Once again, my dad was right about working hard on the things that are most important, though I’m pretty sure the words he used were, “Have you mowed the lawn yet?”

So, maybe I’m not aging poorly, I think instead I’m aging loudly. I may have more wrinkles, I may not be the shape I’d like to be, but good luck finding someone who lives life more than I do! I’m in my mid 40s, but rather that dreaming that something might happen, I’m fighting for those dreams. That fight includes sacrifice, commitment, and sometimes cake, and vodka. I’m good with that.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Angst 2nd Edition Release Announcement

After 5 years, I’ve decided to go back and re-release my first fantasy novel, “Angst”. Like many artists, I really felt that the book needed to be what I originally envisioned. I’ve revised the story to make sure the plot threads lined up more neatly, changed several character names, added cgi special effects of never before seen creatures and converted it to 3D.

Okay, hopefully that gave you a chuckle, starting at the point where I refer to myself as an artist. That said, I did make some minor changes. My wife edited the first edition of “Angst” and did an amazing job, twice. She’s a professional writer of four published books and numerous magazine articles. Angie worked hard to clean up my messes. I’ve only ever received one complaint about grammar, and that was from an editor looking for business. (Something about dangling modified something or others...hey, stop it, I’m an artist!)

When I completed my second novel, “Buried in Angst,” Angie was working on ”The Star Trek Craft Book” and didn’t have time to spare for editing. Buried took me too long to write; I was getting asked weekly about the sequel and didn’t want to lose more of my audience by making them wait longer while Angie edited, so I hired Danielle Fine. What a great decision. Writers and editors look at things very differently, and something about not being my wife made Dani a little less forgiving of my grammar. She also didn’t fill in blanks in the story where my wife might leap to conclusions because she knows me.

With this in mind, I wanted grammar and punctuation in “Angst” to be consistent with my other novels. Dani not only did a fine job of straightening that out, but she also made several developmental recommendations as well. I’ve learned a lot about writing in five years, and after giving “Angst” a full read through with her advice, I did flesh out a few paragraphs and cleaned up some dialogue. Again, no story changes.

I was incredibly wary about making any changes to “Angst.” Some have told me that my writing has improved, I know it has definitely changed, but there is something about the rawness of what I wrote that I really like. For my longtime readers, please don’t fret. There are no story changes at all, and unfortunately no cgi or 3D, but “Angst” should read a little cleaner now. At the least, if you haven’t read “Angst” since it came out, and take the time to reread the updated version, you’ll probably say, “This is even better than I remember.” Ha!

Of course, that’s not the only change made with this revised edition. In my ignorance, I never acquired a signed contract for the old cover, and it’s too late to go back and request one. I did like the cover for “Angst,” but the artist politely declined working on future book covers. Also, I love the cover for “Drowning in Angst” so much I wanted that artist to create art for my other books. So for legal reasons, consistency, and some amazing art, “Angst” has shiny new cover!

As I’m close to wrapping up the fourth novel, “Burning with Angst,” and slowly rounding the bend on this five-book series, I thought this was a fitting way to celebrate five years of Angst. I hope you enjoy it!

Angst can be purchased at the sites below:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Photo Shoot with My Muses

This 4th of July was a fun adventure! I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with my muses, and it was a blast!

I've done several photo shoots in the past with Cristi, both for day-to-day promotional images and for a poster we give away with book purchases at conventions. Every time she gets a new costume, we plan a shoot. She has always done an amazing job, and we have a great time.

Over the last several years, Cristi has recruited her friends Marina and Mayra to join us at conventions. (Something about being half naked with other people who are half naked make con appearances a little easier.) We've attended three cons together, two in Kansas City and one in Branson. Their beauty always draws a crowd, but more than that, they are also fun and friendly which makes them all approachable. A friend at work refers to them as my muses, and I would have to agree.

I'm attending Worldcon for the first time in August, and I really wanted a poster featuring all three muses. Not only will Cristi and Mayra be attending Worldcon with me, they have some great, new scale mail costumes provided by Amanda Lynn Chainmaille.

The 4th of July may seem like an odd date to choose for a photo shoot, but it ended up being the best idea ever. Not only was the date free for everyone, but it was also Marina's birthday - and what a great way to celebrate!

We took pictures for about three hours. I have to give them a lot of credit; what they make look easy is actually quite a bit of work. Standing under hot lights in awkward positions holding up heavy weapons takes commitment. I also have to thank Marina's husband, Brandon, for helping direct everyone. He had some great ideas that turned into fantastic pics!

When we were finished, Cristi and Marina wanted a picture climbing a tree in my backyard. As they were climbing, my neighbors, who I barely know, came out to watch. I called out, "It doesn't have to be weird." My neighbor replied, "No, not at all. What would be weird about half naked women in 6” heels climbing your tree?" These are obviously new neighbors.

The end result is some great memories and a lot of fantastic pictures to share throughout the year. Please check out the albums on my Facebook page to see some behind-the-scenes photos as well as some of the final shots!