Gem City Comic Con Wrap-Up

Gem City Con Wrap-UpThis past weekend, I had the pleasure of being a guest at my very first comic show—Gem City Comic Con (GCCC). Mind you, I’ve been going to comic shows since around 1990, but this was my first time on the other side of the table.

I had an absolute blast!

A lot of friendly people stopped by my table to learn more about The Scary Tales, and I even got to meet with a few fans who’d already read some of the series. I sold way more books than I thought I would, and spread the word far and wide about my upcoming Wicked Apple Book Launch on June 4th at Eudora Brewing Company.

The main organizer of the show, Jesse Noble (a fellow Wright State University employee, by the way), did an incredible job of running the event, which is now in its TENTH YEAR.

GCCC has certainly grown over the years. It was once housed in the Student Union at Wright State, but now fills up the Nutter Center next door. Though it has expanded in size, the show has stayed rooted as a warm, local community event where everyone’s super friendly and very outgoing. Every single one of the other guests with whom I spoke praised GCCC as an ideal comic show.

And speaking of the other guests, I had some fantastic neighbors this weekend! On my left was Victor Dandridge of Vantage:Inhouse Productions. Rarely have I seen a creator who is so incredibly outgoing and personable. It was a pleasure watching him connect with fans, explain his work, and make folks laugh.

On my right was the super-talented artist Rodney Fyke out of Cincinnati, Ohio. He had a lot of awesome art for sale–fun stuff with a great sense of artistry and humor. If you ever flip the light switch in my living room, you’ll see one of his totally cool LEGO Batman lightswitch covers gracing the wall! He and his partner Tina were so kind to me over the weekend. Tina especially gave this first-timer a lot of great advice about other events and made sure to introduce me to all the right people. Rodney and Tina, thanks for being such caring neighbors! I really appreciate it!

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . .

It’s time to announce the winner of last week’s special giveaway for the first signed paperback copy of THAT WICKED APPLE, due to be released in paperback at the end of April.

And the winner is:

Amy Baker!

Amy, I’ll contact you directly via email with details!

New to the list but didn’t win this week? Fear not! I give out prizes, such as signed paperbacks and free ebooks, every month. You’re bound to win something eventually!

In fact, I’ll be sending out an email to the list later this week and will raffle off a free ebook from The Scary Tales series. So, if you haven’t yet subscribed, now’s your chance! Simply enter your name and email in the form below, wait for the confirmation email, and click the link therein.

Name: E-mail:


THANKS so much for your support!

If you didn’t make it to Gem City Comic Con this past weekend, put it on your calendar for next year. You won’t want to miss it!

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This Is My Design: The Virtue of Writing 1,000 Words Daily

Darker PagesI get a lot of questions about my daily writing habits. In a nutshell, I wake up early (about an hour before my daughter), feed our pets, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sit at my computer. If I’m being disciplined, I ignore social media and read the day’s Writer’s Almanac poem for a bit of inspiration. Then I read the last few paragraphs of what I wrote yesterday and make a few line edits. That gets me back into the story. Then I write for about 1,000 words.

This is my design.

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Hannibal episodes lately. I couldn’t resist.

All serial killer thrill pop culture references aside, that’s it in a nutshell. I write 1,000 words. It takes about an hour, depending on how the words are flowing and whether or not my cat yaks on the floor. Plus, it’s easy to track on the running word count feature in Word. For me, 1,000 words is an ideal amount, because:

It’s achievable.
It keeps me at my computer and gives me a goal to shoot for that I can reasonably achieve every day. It’s an hour that I can give each day and still be a good dad, worker, and friend.

It keeps me from going too far.
Even if I’m in the middle of a scene that I’m absolutely enjoying, I’ll still stop when I hit the 1,000-word mark. Why? Because I’ll be excited to start right there again tomorrow. Like Kenny Rogers said, you gotta know when to walk away—and know when to run. Except you always count your words while you’re sitting at the table.

Side type: if possible, always stop writing each day mid-scene. It’s much easier to pick up where you left off than to start a new scene.

It’s sustainable.
I’m fairly confident that I could write 1,000 words a day and never run out of things to say. In the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve never walked away drained of story. With the limits of time and energy that I currently have, I can write 1,000 words in perpetuity without draining whatever creative reserves I keep in my demented little brain.

Some authors do more than 1,000 words and some do less. Maybe 1,000 words works for you. Maybe more or less is better. Play around with it and see what works for you. This is your design.

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Some Writer-ish Things I’ve Learned from Dogs with Jobs

Darker PagesLately, my daughter and I have been watching episodes of Dogs with Jobs on Netflix, a charming show that profiles canines who have jobs—everything from sheepherders to arson dogs, actors to surrogate moms for baby cheetahs. The show’s always good for a few laughs and occasionally some tears.

Just as dogs can perform a number of jobs in human society, they also have a variety of lessons to teach us. Here are a few tidbits I’ve learned from watching the show (and from having a few dogs) that apply to writing.

1) Treat yourself.

To say that these dogs are enthusiastic workers is an understatement. But why are they so happy to be doing their labors? Because they get treats, that’s why. In almost every profile we’ve watched, the main motivation for the dogs is a treat. Likewise, be sure to give yourself little rewards, too, be it for hitting your daily word count, submitting a story for publication, or doing some form of marketing. Treat yourself to a cup of coffee, a new book, a dog biscuit, or peeing on a tree. Whatever works!

2) Your job is your identity.

These dogs don’t just do their jobs. They are their jobs. Whether it’s a companion animal in a nursing home or a disaster rescue specialist, the job is part of who they are. So don’t just write. Be a writer. Writing isn’t just something you do. It’s who you are. At your most basic core level, be a writer. We write because we’re not being true to ourselves if we don’t.

For your characters, think about how their job shapes them, what it says about them, and how it affects their day-to-day lives.

3) Game your writing.

Whether they’re chasing geese off a golf course or sniffing out drugs at the Mexican border, these dogs are always wagging their tails. Why? Because for them, work isn’t work. It’s a game. These furry guys are busting their asses but they’re also enjoying themselves. So, try approaching your writing in the same playful spirit. Yes, yes, I know . . . writing is hard work. But you know what? Sex can be hard work, too, but it’s also oodles of fun (unless you’re doing something very wrong).

In summary, write like a dog, treat yourself, be a writer, be playful when you write, and shake your tail while you’re having sex.

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Why I Write

Darker PagesMany books and websites are devoted to explaining how, when, and what authors write, but it seems like I haven’t seen all that much about why the hell we do this thing. Why do we—grown adults, mind you—spend several hours a week shut off from our loved ones making up stories?

We could be devoting that creative energy to painting pictures to share with the world. We could be in rock bands, jamming into the wee hours. We could be walking, drinking, running, living, loving, dancing, cooking, clapping, or any number of other activities.

And yet, we write. Why?

I write because I’m a dad.

Before my daughter was born, I mostly wrote poetry. Shortly after becoming a dad, I suddenly had stories to tell. I’m not sure what the connection is, but I’m grateful for it. Maybe being a dad caused me to put down the roots necessary to spawn a novel. Maybe I wanted to create some kind of legacy for my daughter. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to ramble on…

I write because I’m an anxious asshole otherwise.

By nature, I tend toward anxiousness. My brain is like a wild dog. Given free reign, it’ll wander into the most horrible notions and nightmarish scenarios. But when I’m working on a story (and I’m always working on a story, every day), my mind chews on those characters instead of me. So, I think about terrible things that can happen to my characters, instead of me. Sucks to be them. Yay me.

I write because I’m good at it.

As early as high school, I knew I had a knack for writing. Be it an essay written after donating blood and downing a beer or an exercise in metaphors, I was good at wrasslin’ words.

I write because I have a story to tell.

The thing is, I suck at telling stories. I can tell a joke. I can toss out a one-liner. But telling a good story—like out loud? Not my strong point. It’s something I’m working on, though. But I enjoy telling a story in print. Writing it out gives me the time to massage the story into something more coherent and (hopefully) entertaining.

I write because I read.

When I was a wee boy, I used to leave the Enon Mound Library most every week with a ginormous stack of books. I’d spend hours immersed in the adventures of the Hardy Boys or struggling through one of Sherlock Holmes’ cases. I loved losing myself between those pages, imagining everything happening between the lines. The thought that I can do that for someone else—that I can provide a similar experience for other readers—is frankly mind-blowing. It humbles and delights me.

I write because it’s easy.

Yeah, I said it. Writing comes easy to me. I don’t struggle through writer’s block. I don’t beg and plead with my muse. I don’t brood for days and days about my characters. I’m not saying that I don’t work at it. Oh, hell. I work my ass off. I work hard at writing, but it isn’t hard work.

I write because I like to make blank pages darker.

Yeah, that’s kinda my tagline. I figure if I mention it often enough, it’ll catch on.

I write because I like to make people laugh.

During my day job, the absolute best part of my day is when I email something to someone, and they email me back to tell me that my words made them laugh out loud. I take great joy in bringing a smile to someone’s face through the written word. I figure it’s easy in-person. You can use inflection and funny faces and sometimes sound effects. But to make some smile—nay, laugh—just through a bunch of neatly arranged letters? That’s bad ass.

I write because it’s hard.

I love epic roadtrips, long hikes, big ideas, and heart attack-inducing workouts. I’m naturally attracted to tasks of great scale, almost superhuman achievement. And really, writing a novel is just such a thing. It takes about an hour to write a thousand words. If you figure a novel to be around 50,000 words, that’s 50 hours—over two days—sitting and typing, not even including rewrites and revisions and final edits. Think about the sheer will it takes to do that. It’s epic in every sense of the word.

I write because it’s fun.

I genuinely enjoy creating new characters and putting them in exciting—often dreadful—situations. They always surprise me in the end. The story never goes quite like I expect it to. I create the characters, but in many ways they create the story. And it’s a blast to discover it with them.

So, those are some of the reasons I write. The list above is not all-inclusive, and I expect I’ll eventually do a sequel post to this one someday soon, listing still more reasons. Thank you for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Oh, and I guess that brings me to one last reason . . .

I write because of you.

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