Upcoming Events

Through November, I’ve signed up for several events where you can come out and see me, grab a book, and talk a while.

Here is the current list of events.

pennedcon2017In late September, I’ll be attending PennedCon in St. Louis. The dates are Sept. 29th-30th. This is the 4th year of PennedCon and has over 150 signing authors. It’s a huge Con and the largest authors only event I’ll attend. It’s aim is to bring “authors and readers together for charity.” I’m looking forward to it. If you’re interested in going, I still have maybe 4 free tickets to give away. Just let me know!

On Saturday October 14th, I’ll be at the 9th annual St. Charles City-County Library’s Local Author Open House. The time is from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Last year they had over 100 authors, so I expect this year to be the same. It sounds interesting and it’s free to attend. If you can make it, come on out!

StLouisIndie-300x216Finally, on November 3rd-4th, I’ll be at the St. Louis Indie Book Fair. This year it’s being held at the Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis, MO. I did this last year and was one of the first book selling events I attended as an author. We didn’t have much traffic last year, but I outsold almost everyone else so it holds a special place for me.

I do hope you get a chance to make it out to one of these. I’d love to meet new readers. A lot of my larger events are in St. Louis because it’s the closest large city to where I live and I gotta keep cost considerations in line. I may add a couple more shows between now and then. Follow me on Facebook to stay updated. Thanks!

Eclipse Comic Con Recap

This past weekend (Aug. 10th-20th) I participated in the Eclipse Comic Con on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Tied in to the upcoming solar eclipse that crosses the United States on Aug. 21st with the point of longest duration just minutes from Carbondale, this event had a lot going for it.

Eclipse ComicConI’ve not done too many local events since I released my first book. I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in art and blues festivals out at Blue Sky Vineyards in Makanda, IL but this was my first big local event and I wasn’t disappointed.

I was set up next to another local author, Amy Hale, who I’ve met at Contamination in St. Louis in 2016. However I hadn’t really gotten to know her until now. We had a blast all weekend as we engaged new readers and got to talk with each other about our books and our journeys as writers. Her and her husband John are good people and I can’t wait to meet up with them at Penned Con in St. Louis.

The Con itself was larger than I expected. There were comic vendors, memorabilia booths, and I think five to six authors selling books or comics. We even participated in a panel on writing during the Sunday session. Authors Amy Hale, Kenny Sills, Cathy Jackson, Todd Black, myself and moderator author Brian Morris spoke about writing paths and fielded questions from the audience.

File_000 (3)

My setup at the Eclipse Comic Con. My friend and cover artist Dan Brown was a few booths away working for our local comic shop and snapped the pic for me.

I knew going into the event I needed to sell 10 books to cover the cost of my table. I had that done within the first 2 hour of the event! That kind of early success calmed my nerves and helped me to enjoy the event quite a bit. Sales on the first day were more than expected, though on Sunday they cooled quite a bit. I’m ok with that since I was able to cover my costs and get my books in the hands of readers from all over the country as visitors to the region for the eclipse were in high attendance at the show. Because I live 15 minutes from the campus of SIU, I didn’t have hotel or travel costs making this Con a no brainer for me.

I heard by the end of the Con that organizers were fairly certain they’d be doing the event again next year. I certainly hope so. As a reasonably priced event with lots of potential growth, I’d easily add it to the list of events I plan on attending next year. Even without the eclipse drawing visitors to the region, I think the area can support such a Con.

 

Giving Back

Advice from other writers is always something to take carefully. We all have our way of doing things and we all come to success in our own way (I’m still trying to find mine!)

I enjoy encouraging other writers or would-be writers. I know what it’s like to dream of being a writer. I know how it felt when I started and I was clueless to much of the process. I know what it’s like to fret because no one knows who I am or has read my work. It sucks.

I’ve had several writers extend a hand or helpful words of wisdom and that’s been awesome.

Whenever I get the chance to help someone else out I jump on it. Who knows where the next major talent is? In this world of indie publishing where the market is oversaturated with works from misguided “writers” to super-talented authors, I want to encourage and lift up those that need a voice, that need an audience because they’re so talented and others need to know.

Have you heard of Aaron Hamilton, Thomas Gunther, Pamela Morris, Ray Wenck, Brent Harris, or Christa Yelich-Koth? Maybe, but it’s more likely you haven’t. They’re all super talented authors of scifi and/or horror (Or in Ray’s case, thrillers). I love sharing these types of writers with others because we can all use a hand once in a while. We may write by ourselves, but we need a team to share the word about our work.

One of the things I enjoy most about selling at Cons is meeting new authors/writers that are unsure what to do with their work or how to get started. I am as transparent as possible. Indie publishing is not a guarded secret, though many who haven’t tried it are as lost as I was when I started. I share my experience with anyone that asks, encouraging them to work hard at their craft and what pitfalls to watch out for. Not that I have “best-selling author” advice, but I’m more than willing to share my experience in hopes that it will inspire them to take their own journey.

Their voice, like those of the authors listed above, might be what we need next.

I hope when I meet new writers seeking advice they seek additional voices. The more information they can gather, the better informed they’ll be and maybe, just maybe, they’ll break through and be the next major indie sensation. Or maybe not. They may simply be fulfilling a lifelong goal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Reality Bites Book Awards: Final Round

The Reality Bites Book Awards has come to its final round and I’m still in it! I’m in the category for favorite “SciFi Author,” a category I was nominated in because of my book The Selection.

If you have a Facebook account, would you please consider adding your vote? My fans, friends, and family have been awesome in their support in getting me this far. One more week of voting, can you get me to the finish line?

It’s been overwhelming seeing all the help I’ve received. I’ve started nicknaming my amazing support team “The Nuge Brigade” because it sounds pretty cool and they’re encouragement has been awesome!

If you can spare a moment, please add your vote through the link below. I humbly thank you for your help.

Reality Bites Book Awards: Final Round – SciFi Author (If for some reason the link only takes you to the Event page, scroll down until you see the “SciFi Author category”)

Thank you again for the massive amount of support. It’s because of you I am where I am.

10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing

When I started this writing journey, I was naive to the complexities of it all. I guess in it’s most basic state, writing is just me and the words on the screen or paper. It’s when I started sharing those words that things changed. Here are ten things I learned since I started (in no particular order).


Editing is your best friend. I didn’t understand the serious need for revision and editing. I knew those things were important, but as I progress in my career, it’s abundantly clear how vital good editing is to my work. And I can’t do it on my own.

Sometimes the first draft is hard to finish. The moment I start revising parts of the first draft before it’s finished, I bog myself down and the pace of my writing slows to a crawl. That’s not good. I need to get that draft out, warts and all, as quickly as possible so I can jump in and fix it after it’s done.

I’ll never please everyone with my work. As much as I love what I write, not everyone will see it that way. It’s ok. Art is never universally accepted. There will be some who it doesn’t work for and that’s fine.

articulated-male-818202_960_720Writing is not a solitary endeavor. Contrary to popular belief, writing is not an individual act. Sure, the writer creates and physically writes the story on their own. However, to make it work, we need other sets of eyes to help us tighten our prose. And once that’s done and you want to share it with the world, you need others to spread the love. It takes a team of dedicated individuals to make that happen. I find it best not to piss off those that can help.

Family and friends don’t always support you. I gotta start by saying I have a tremendous amount of support from a lot of my family and friends. They might not agree with the subject of my stories, but they’re super supportive of my work. Then there are those that can care less. Yeah I spent a ton of time working on perfecting my stories, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Just because they are family or friends doesn’t mean they’ll automatically help or buy the book or leave a review. And thats ok. They are under no obligation to do so. If they sell Mary Kay cosmetics does that mean I have to buy them? No. Same with my writing. It’s cool.

Rejection isn’t personal. Let me restate that: rejection isn’t personal. It’s not an indictment of you as an individual. For whatever reason, the story didn’t work for that person. Cool. Move on. Try someone else. Revisit your story to see where the holes are. Send it out again. And again. And again. Maybe try a different market. Whatever the case, remember rejection isn’t personal.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You hear so many uplifting stories about people leaving their day jobs to become full-time authors. I would love to have that kind of financial success from my writing. However, unless your book goes viral and everyone under the sun suddenly wants to read it, this takes time and patience. Lots of it. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. If you have a passion for your craft and continually seek to improve, your chances of this happening are better, but not guaranteed.

work-1627703_960_720Everybody has advice. Take it at your own peril. Many people mean well, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Maybe they do. Talk to fifty different authors and you’ll get fifty different answers. Sift through this massive trove of opinions carefully. Try different things, but always be wary of the advice given. How to find the best and most trustworthy advice? I don’t have an answer. I take in a lot of suggestions and sometimes I’ll try them, sometimes not. It’s a personal thing I guess. Just be careful with what “rules” you follow given to you by others.

Self publishing is easy, getting noticed is not. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was to get my stories uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It literally was a click or two and *poof* done. That’s it. But that’s also why indie authors are slammed by critics and readers. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I spent a lot of time revising and editing my first collection of stories to leave the best impression I could with potential readers. I still had a few errors in my work. Then when it came to earning eyes on my stories, that was (and still is) a difficult process. I’m basically asking someone to use their hard earned cash to buy a book from an author they don’t know and invest their time with me. That’s a big ask. I better deliver with my work or they won’t come back.

You will have to sacrifice if you want to succeed. When I started writing, I played a lot of video games. One day I came to the realization that the time spent playing games on the Xbox was time spent not writing. How could I hope to grow as a writer and create new work if I spent my time playing games? I stopped cold turkey. I didn’t join my friends on our weekly game night anymore. I didn’t spend hours on a Saturday morning hunting achievements. Instead, I used that time to write more and read more. I’ve whittled down my gaming to two mobile games, that’s it. I miss those gaming sessions, but if I wanted to be serious about my craft, I had to make concessions somewhere.


There you have it, my ten things learned since I started as a writer. As you start your journey or are knee deep in it, how do these compare to your experiences?

Feel free to like, share, and comment. Thanks!

Review: “Twilight Madhouse Vol. 1”

OK, so let me start with the obvious. Yes, this is the anthology with my story Achievement Unlocked. I have not read the stories until the book was released like everyone else. I will not include my thoughts on my story below (Umm…it rocks!) but what follows are my impressions of the rest of the stories.

Review: Twilight Madhouse Vol. 1

This is a new horror anthology from Schreyer Ink Publishing. (This review and it’s format is based off their post about reviewing anthologies by the way).

1st Story: “Cracked Reflection” by Joanna Michal Hoyt

I gotta be honest, this was my least favorite story of the bunch. There was a ton of description and the setting was evident, but I couldn’t get into it. The story takes place between 1916 and 1919. As the editor notes in the introduction, it was “a time when madness was thought by some to be an illness of the mind, and by others to be a religious affliction. Who is mad her? Who is sane?” I might be the mad one for not enjoying it like I hoped.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

2nd Story: “The Decent Thing” by Dex Fernandez

This is a slightly disturbing future tale. At first I thought the story was about animals (I know, sometimes I can be slow to catch on!) but as I read, I was caught up in the dark tale. Such a sad state of affairs and hopefully not a future we will see.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

3rd Story: “The Eryxian Talisman” by Cameron Smith

I loved this one! And it does feature an animal for reelz! Cameron Smith weaves an excellent tale of shape shifting with a twist. I can’t but help feeling sorry for poor Maggie as she seeks a new life. Cool story!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

Twilight4th Story: “Achievement Unlocked” by yours truly

I’m not gonna give an opinion, just a brief synopsis. It’s a story about a gamer who gets bored with video games and decides to try something more. It’s one of the shorter pieces in the bunch.

Rating: NA (I gotta be fair)

 

5th Story: “Pick Your Poison” by Colin Douglas

Such terrible choices we have to make at times. This tale explores the choice a mother must make and the consequences of the decision. Not an easy one to read because of the content, but a well written and entertaining story.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

6th Story: “POE 103” by Ken Goldman

An awesome ode to Edgar Allan Poe written with style and attention to detail. I loved the feeling of this story. It evoked Poe through the language and frequent quotes. It explores what happens when someone spends their life studying a great figure of literature. Awesome story I cannot recommend enough!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

7th Story: “Death to the Diddlers” by Karin Fuller

Wow. Talk about making someone squirm! This was a quick tale, maybe just a bit longer than “Achievement Unlocked” but it was powerful and slightly disturbing. Nice twist in the story too.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

8th Story: “Spectrum” by D.R. Perry

I genuinely felt sorry for the girl in this story. She had it bad. It made me think about how many people really have situations like hers. I wanted to help her so much.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

9th Story: “The Other Side of Night” by Max Shepherd

Umm…so, yeah. This story. Really, really well written. It features two siblings; a sister and brother, and explores a difficult circumstance. I thought it was an excellent examination of loss and the havoc it wreaks on the mind.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

10th Story: “The Werewolf, the Vampire, the Demon, and the Girl” by L.J. McLeod

Rounding out the anthology is this story featuring a werewolf, vampire, demon, and a girl on Halloween night. It’s an entertaining read as the three monsters stalk the same prey. Fun way to end the collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Overall, I was impressed by the varied collection of stories presented here. Obviously I knew my story and had a special connection to it, but read within the whole as part of this overall compilation I saw the theme of madness running from story to story. I was exposed to other authors I hadn’t yet read but look forward to more from them.

Look for more from Schreyer Ink Publishing as they look to release at least two more volumes in the “Twilight Madness” series. You can get this anthology here.

“Self to Younger Self, Come in!”

Have you ever thought about what you’d tell your younger self if you could? Or if your younger self would even listen?

I have.

I’d tell my younger self not to be afraid. Risks are the ultimate double edged sword. If it pans out, you have the opportunity to achieve something great. If it flops, there’s a possibility of physical or mental pain.

There were so many times when I was younger that I’d not do something out of fear. Opportunities would present themselves but instead of taking that risk, I’d shrink from it and who knows what awesome things I missed out on.

That’s funny to say as a former skateboarder too. The entire act of skateboarding is a giant risk. In order to improve or learn new tricks I had to risk injury. Though I skated for well over a decade, my progress stagnated and I never became a great skater, just an ok one. Most of that I attribute to my younger self worrying about failure in a physical sense and not pushing myself harder. I was afraid of the negative consequences of the risk.

JayanddDoug

Me (on the right) and my friend Doug.

Heck, I barely made the connection with a girl who would later turn out to be my wife of over twenty years now and the mother of our son. I knew my wife when I was in high school and I worked with her at a local fast food restaurant. I knew she liked me but I was afraid to talk to her, afraid of possible rejection. That was a risk too high for me. If it wasn’t for my friend Doug having break the same time as her one fateful day, who knows what might have happened? Without any urging from me, he got her phone number and gave it to me, telling me she wanted me to call. I did. We set up our first date and over twenty four years later, we’re still together. But I might have missed it entirely because I was too afraid to say anything.

Fear is tough to overcome. But if we risk it, if we just try, we might end up with something amazing. Or we might not, but the point is to try. Failure is not the end, but another beginning. My younger self didn’t understand that. I like to think I do now.