Category Archives: Just Me

Taking The Plunge or My Shift in Publishing

It’s official, I am taking the plunge. I am moving out of the self-publishing game and under the umbrella of a small publisher.

Yes, it’s true. Just a few years ago I was very hyped and excited about the self-publishing trend. While I didn’t necessarily believe that the big print publishing industry was doomed, I believed that it was definitely in decline and would shrink to a more manageable size.

I realize now I was looking at the world through the rose-colored glasses of ignorance. I had just barely published my own first book and, with a bit of marketing knowledge, believed I could make things happen. I was jazzed.

And I was naive.

Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think self-publishing is a waste or that you’re crap if you’re not picked up by one of the big five mega-publishers. Far from it. There are a whole lot of indie writers who are fantastic with or without a big (or even small) publisher. For me, though, two years of self-reflection have helped me to see things on a much broader and much grayer scale.

I’ve had some shitty things happen over the last couple years. From working a job I was very unhappy at to being unemployed, these events have made me really stop and think about what I want. At one point I thought it would be great to help other writers get a leg up and establish themselves. I flirted with the idea of starting my own small press. Of course, I know NOTHING about doing that. Fortunately, before I got too well into it, I had a realization. I asked myself the cliche question often asked in job interviews, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about 10?”

The only answer I came up with was that it wasn’t running a publishing company. It was writing. And while, sure, I didn’t necessarily have to keep doing it that long, I felt like if I established relationships with writers that I would feel like I was abandoning them by leaving at some point in the future. In my opinion, if you are attaching your name to a publisher, you should be able to expect that they intend to be around for the long haul.

Another thing I’ve realized is that I’m not an overly outgoing person. I mean, I obviously knew that. Rather, I realized that in order for me to succeed at being a self-published author I would have to be very outgoing. I would have to sell myself. And while I may be pretty good at talking and “selling” I cannot sell myself. It’s just not in my nature.

So, when a friend announced that he was picked up by the small publisher Creativia, I started to seriously take a look.

I’ve known Patrick Hodges for a little while now from our writing critique group. He’s a pretty good writer and a genuinely nice guy. It took some time before I felt comfortable, but eventually, I asked him a few questions about how Creativia was working out. Patrick’s science fantasy novel Pawns hadn’t even come out yet, but the company had decided to represent his two previous middle-grade fiction books as well.

My biggest issue was what they did for him, I wanted to make sure that if I’m giving up a huge part of my royalties, that I’m getting something for it. While we did not get into specific numbers or details, our discussion served to further my curiosity and interest. I ended up having an email conversation with Miika Hannila that encouraged me a little more.

To be honest, my biggest fear was that I knew very little about the company and did not want to have the banner of a vanity press on my writing resume. It did not take me long to discover that Creativia is not a vanity press. This boosted my interest even more.

But I was worried about giving up my “self-publisher” freedom and royalty rights. Eventually, I came to the realization that I wasn’t really selling any books. So a percent of zero is still zero. If Creativia can help me sell a few books, then that’s more than I would have sold before.

The more important part of working with a small publisher like Creativia, is it will free up more time for me to actually write. I won’t have to do quite as much marketing on my own. Not that I won’t have to do any, no publisher does it ALL for you—the days of writers just writing are really, actually dead and gone.

Creativia and I ended up partnering together for the entire Scarlet series. All three books. What worked out well for me was the fact that in getting ready for the sequel to Scarlet Angel, I getting ready to release a new cover for that first book in my trilogy. (That’s my new cover right there above. Smexy, ain’t it?)

So, as of just a few days ago, my new cover for Scarlet Angel was released under the Creativia banner. Even better, I’m—hopefully—just a few days away from sending them my draft of the sequel. Even better, I’ve just finished my first plot-run at the final book in the series.

I still believe in self-publishing. Now, I just also believe in small publishing, and maybe even a little in the big publishing.

The idea of being a professional, living-living-off-my-writing author feels a little different now. I feel a little bit of a weight off my shoulders like I’ve got a little bit of help in this journey. And that feels nice.

 

You can find Scarlet Angel on Amazon here.

 

I am the Sneezasaurus Rex, coo coo Ahh-CHOO

Screw allergies.

When I go to the doctor and they ask “Do you have any allergies?”, I have to clamp my mouth shut. In my head, I scream, “YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I HAVE ALLERGIES, I SNEEZE MY GODDAMNED HEAD OFF BECAUSE OF DUST AND OLIVE TREE POLLEN!”

But I don’t say that because they’re not asking about the kind of those allergies.  Those are, however, the allergies that I do have and the allergies I’m talking about today.

For most people, allergies are an annoyance, they hit a person with some sinus congestion and a sprinkling of sneezes throughout the day. Stuffy with a chance of sneezy. Not for me. For me, when the allergy-storm hits bad I am literally incapacitated for at least 24 hours. I recently posted an amusing gif of Chris Pratt’s character from TV Show Parks & Recreation sneezing repeatedly with the comment “Me, literally.” And I meant literally.

See, when my allergies hit, they come on like a motherfucking Katrina-level hurricane. I’ve had days where I went through multiple boxes of tissues and/or multiple rolls of toilet paper. Blood vessels burst. Skin is chafed well beyond raw. My nose bleeds from inside and from out. And the next day, when the sneezing is 80% done? My nose begins to heal like a sensitive, scab-covered sore.  

That’s when the pressure starts. Sometimes, I sneeze so much during an active attack that I don’t have time for real pressure to build up. But when the sneezing is done? It’s eye-throbbing, spike-in-the-skull-with-a-hammer, give-me-the-electric-drill kind of irritating pain that Motrin, Tylenol and Aleve COMBINED can’t even scratch.

Sure, I can take allergy medicine, and I do. But sometimes the Claritin, Flonase and Sudafed cocktail is completely useless. Or, at least, it feels useless. Drugged up like that and still having triple-sneezing fits every two minutes feels useless.

While I’m SOOOO not an anti-drug person, I’m pretty damn sure taking all that shit at once is not good for me, but what choice do I have? I take it all in an effort to stay productive, so I can walk out the door and drive to work without worrying if I’m going to have a massive sneezing fit that makes me wreck my car.

On one hand, it feels a little silly ranting about sneezing allergies. It feels a little silly worrying that a sneeze could make me have an accident with my car. But I’ve had sneezing fits that last for multiple minutes, and I’m not exaggerating, Sneezing fits with my eyes closed and my head uncontrollably bobbing up and down like a fast-repeating automatic shotgun.

I know this post has nothing to do with SF or Fantasy or anything else. It’s just a rant. It’s just my way of letting out a bit of frustration without shoving a red-hot poker into my sinuses in the hopes of searing them into silence.  

Time Wounds All Heals

“Time.”

“Time wounds all heals.“

For those who don’t know, that’s a quote from Farscape, one of my most-favoritest shows ever. The main character, John Crichton, says it to a multi-dimensional time-traveling being, nicknamed Einstein, right in the middle of figuring out that he could theoretically use wormholes to travel to, not just different places in space, but to different times and realities. John, of course, is being a bit flippant, but Einstein’s point is that traveling through time/space/dimensions, is VERY dangerous, a lesson John learns quite well.

Of course, here in the real world, time is not quite so fragile. It is,  however, still quite dangerous, if not in a different way. For example: What if you wanted to write a book. Well, one would think you would just plop your ass down and write, right? Ah, but time is never that simple. Sometimes you’ll sit and time will move very quickly, shooting minutes past you before you can get a few words down. Other times you get lucky and you get to shoot the words down faster than the minutes come. And SOMEtimes, time slips by you without you even sitting down to write.

Some people might think I’m talking about writer’s block or being lazy. No. Writer’s block is when you don’t know what the hell to write. And laziness? That’s what keeps me from chopping down the 28-inch tall weeds in my backyard (not EVEN kidding). No, I’m talking about how there is often just not enough time to get in the writing I want to do. Well, not enough time to get the writing in AND do everything else I want. In this, I think Time is a bit of a fickle bitch.

Time likes to grant you its boons just when you are not able to use them. A while ago, I was unemployed and going through a rough patch. My mind was in no place to write. I suppose it was a form of depression, though not necessarily the clinical kind, if that is even the way to look at it. Predictably, this is when Time decided to grant me plenty of hours with which to write.

On the other hand, When I get back into writing and the words can seem to flow like a steady stream of water from the faucet with good water pressure, Time comes along and says Nah-ah-ah… It even waggles its finger in my face for emphasis. See, now that I’m in a good emotional and creative place to write, I’ve also got a regular job, plenty of housework to do, taxes, book covers, video games and companionship responsibilities (Read doing things with the wife and kids when they’re willing. Don’t mistake, these are not responsibilities in the sense that I don’t want to do them. They are things that I need to do for me and the health of these relationships.). THAT is when Time flips me the bird and yanks all the bonus minutes away.

Yes, of course I could sacrifice some of my video game time for writing, and I have somewhat. But godsdammit, I need that time for my mental stability! If I don’t kill a few zombies every week someone’s going to get hurt in the real world, dammit!

The truth is, I suppose I’m looking a gift-horse in the mouth and whining a bit. I’ve got a job that mostly pays the bills and all the people in my household are relatively healthy and well fed. Maybe I just need to get a little creative. I’ve got a few days of PTO built up. Maybe I could take a day to stay home and write?

Aw, who am I kidding? I’d probably just go for a few extra headshots on those zombies.

Panic at the Death Star

Rogue One. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard every complaint about it. About Darth Vader’s rapid mobility decline from Rogue One to A New Hope. About the not-quite-perfect human CGI characters. About the over-intensity in Rogue One vs. the somewhat prosaic style of A New Hope.There’s even an article out there about Hollywood’s speciesism problem.

I’m not going to argue the merits of these criticisms because, sure, they all actually make sense. Yes, Vader’s fighting style in A New Hope was a little geriatric. Yes, the battle scenes in Rogue One were far more intense than A New Hope. Yes, it was easy to tell the CGI characters were CGI. And, yes, humans are the primary heroes in scifi movies. On Earth. With the only KNOWN intelligent species.

My point here, is this:

PEOPLE! CHILL!

Look, filmmaking was VERY different in 1979. Blockbuster action scenes were not as dynamic and costly as they are today. In part, this is because films were not economic movers in quite the same sense they are now. Now, some movies have larger budgets than some countries. Rogue One itself has generated $925.4 million as of January 13, 2017, a cash-flow larger than the annual GDP of 21 nations, according to the United Nations. And, Rogue One had a budget of almost $200 Million, that’s still larger than a few small countries.

My point here is, accept Episode IV for what it was made as and accept Rogue One for what it was made as. It’s called fiction and fantasy for a reason, you have to be willing to overlook some things. Yes, now that Rogue One is out, you do have to overlook a few more things in A New Hope than before. And, of course, Rogue One was not perfect. But, come on, people… Relax and enjoy the story. It does not need to by hyper over-analyzed and picked apart until it’s not enjoyable anymore.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Destroyer
Ph: Film Frame
©Lucasfilm LFL 2016

I mean, for Pete’s sake, Star Wars has ALWAYS had a shit ton of holes. Maybe this is because it was conceived at a time when computer networks were an extreme rarity and cyber security (or lack of) was not even a hacker’s wet dream yet. So, it’s only natural that the entire franchise’s universe seems to NOT have things that we might take for granted now, as well as basic technologies that we can expect in the near future.

 

So let it the fuck go. Sit your ass down with some Raisinets, a loyalty cup full of soda and an overpriced back of half-stale popcorn and enjoy the damn movie.

 

What If Aliens Are Really…

alien-face-grey-so-long-ago-so-clear-hounslow-london-peter-crawfordAs a kid, I was always interested with the idea of The Greys. You know, those aliens with the triangular head, big-ass bug eyes and skin more pale and grey than a 500-year-old vampire? It’s really no wonder. I was a fairly avid reader of OMNI magazine. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure which one came first. I think part of my fascination was fostered when I read Whitley Streiber’s Communion, his “non-fiction” account of being abducted by Greys.

Anyway, I had developed an idea, a bit
of a theory (or a hypothesis, really) about the Greys, about who they were and where they came from. Now, it’s not something I’m a
true believer in, more like a wouldn’t it be really fucked up if…

But, as I grew up, that idea was kind of sidelined. Later, in my mid-20s, I read the first few books in Zacharia Sitchin’s series on ancient astronauts. Now, again, I wasn’t an ardent believer and nor was I looking for any kind of truth. I thought the idea was interesting, and still is to some extent. But I don’t necessarily believe that there were ancient astronauts on the Earth. In the same respect, though, I don’t NOT believe it either. I just think we have no idea and/or evidence. (As a person who tries to adhere to science as much as possible, I generally only believe something if there is ample evidence, but I also keep my mind open to things that are possible even if unlikely.)

the-12th-planet-book-i-9780939680887_hrFor those who don’t know, Sitchin’s belief, VERY much boiled down and simplified is this: Most of the ancient deities, gods and goddesses, were in fact aliens from another planet that orbits at the extreme limits of our solar system who came here to create a bio-engineered slave society by mixing their DNA with pre-human hominids. However, due to an ethical rift within their society, actual, reproducing humans were created. Over the next several thousand years, humans revolted against our alien overlords, forcing them to abandon the Earth (and pretty much removing any trace of themselves).

Whew. That’s a lot to take in. And sounds more than a little cray-cray. But, Sitchin makes some interesting, if not entirely anecdotal, points. Most of his points are quite easily explainable otherwise, but he makes them anyway.

Anyway, my hypothesis kind of goes the other direction: What if The Greys, are actually futuristic human descendants who have discovered time travel. But, after destroying the Earth’s environment for so long that they have physically evolved to look very different and can no longer procreate. So, they’ve come back to study their genetic ancestors to see if they can re-engineer themselves to have children again. That’s why all the probing.

Personally, I think my hypothesis is a little more crazy than Sitchin’s. Mostly because of the time travel aspect.

So there you have it, one of my craziest, weirdest thoughts… Out in the open. Do you have a weird thought or theory?

SpecMisc on Twitter

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Friend's kid is doing a ukelalie version of system of a Down's Chop Suey! And it's awesome.

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