Back in the saddle…

As promised, something more lengthy than my quick announcement this week.

First, in case you missed the post: Threshold will be out this year.

Hang on, let me say that again:

Threshold will be out this year.

After a number of struggles, I’ve succeeded in this endeavor. That success bleeds further than simply releasing a book. This has been an exercise in life and existence more than it ever was about the writing, and I was wholly foolish to think it was anything so small. In the time between starting the manuscript and now, I:

  • bought a house
  • got married
  • had a summer reception
  • turned 40

And those are milestones; I am still a human being who has a day job, helps around the house, and tries to have some downtime here and there. Between all these different facets of myself – really, different personas – I got burnt out trying to fit in time for them all.

I was doing too much with too little, and it started to corrode everything. This exacerbated personal struggles I already deal with regularly, which I’m sure you can imagine didn’t help things. In the end, all of it just became more weight when I saw the new deadline approach, knowing I was not going to meet it.

I’m not telling you all this to make excuses for why it’s taken so long to get the next book out. I’m telling you this because it’s important.

You are whole. You are you.

Even when you are struggling – especially when you are struggling. You don’t need to be all of these things for everyone if they are going to break you. You need to carve out the time for you to repair your soul, your confidence, and your energy. You need to understand that it is not only okay that you do that, but it is imperative that you do it.

The world is shifting, and those shifts are creating more stress and pressure than before. We are unfairly comparing ourselves to people we don’t know, in circumstances we don’t have, and beating ourselves up over unfair expectations.

Stop it.

You are you. No one else has to deal with what you do when you do. No one else is in your head. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. They aren’t you.

Instead, look to the world for inspiration, ideas, and assistance. How is everyone else handling their struggle? Can you find a tool in there to help you with yours? Great! Use it. But don’t compare yourself to other people’s talent, or how well people handle their stress. They aren’t you, and they have their own struggles.

I’m slogging through it all myself. I have so many ideas all the time that it’s honestly a weight all itself knowing that I will never be able to write them all. Some stories will die with me. That’s a horrifying notion, but I can’t think about that. I certainly can’t let it consume me. Am I willing to sacrifice my friends and family, events and adventures, so I can try to use every waking moment to empty my head? No. I’m at least realistic enough to know that is a devil’s errand. I have to accept my limitations.

I’m not done writing. I’m getting ready to release my fourth novel – an accomplishment some never get to see. I’m getting better at it, too. I can feel it; I can see it. But writing isn’t the only thing I want to do with my time on this earth. There are a ton of things I want to do, and only one me I can do them with.

So, I’m learning to accept my limitations, and I’m going to turn that understanding into a strength. I’m going to be better for having this knowledge.

I think we all need the grace to be kinder to ourselves; living is hard enough as it is.

 

Raise some Hell…

One week – actually less than – until Motor City Nightmares.

This is the first time I will be attending this show, so I am very excited and completely unprepared for the event. Ok, not completely. I will be preparing for this show in the same fashion I do other shows. I should be fine.

What I am not certain how to deal with is the fact that Clive Barker will be there.

Hellraiser. Lord of Illusions. Nightbreed/Cabal. Imajica.

Holy crap! I am going to be shilling my books while Clive Barker is doing his thing? Maybe this will be good practice for a couple weeks from now, when I will be up to my eyeballs with horror writers who are likely more experienced (and more talented) than me.

Can’t know till you try though, right?

So I am super excited and looking very forward to being surrounded by horror fans and aficionados. I love hanging out with readers in general, but horror fans? These are my people.

And not just because I write in the genre – this has always been my home. I grew up reading the greats – and some not so greats. Saturday afternoons I was glued to the television for the Monster Double-Feature. Elvira, The Ghoul, and Count Scary helped me sharpen my wit and my inappropriate sense of humor.

I’m interested to see who I meet and what their interests are. Horror as a genre is wide and varied. It is its own culture and has its own sub-groupings. I’m still trying to figure out wherein I belong as an author, but I know who I am as a fan. And I am happy to say that I would like me as a writer, even if I weren’t me. But I am hoping that some of the other folks at Motor City Nightmares are interested in what I have to offer as well.

Delays, Waylays, and ‘Bout-times…

We are officially one week from my first event of the year (Blood Bash!). I’m excited because this gets the ball rolling on something different. This year, I am trying a few new things: new events, new tricks, and new formulas. Every year is a new experiment in trying to get myself out there, but this year is going to be more focused. We’ll see if it works.

As always, keep an eye on the Events page; I’ll update it as new events are confirmed.

But the real reason this post exists is for me to own up on a promise I made. Sure, that promise was mostly to myself, but as I said it out loud at least a few times, I should probably brace anyone else who had their hopes up:

Threshold will not release on February 14. It is delayed and I hope to get it into readers’ hands before much longer, but currently, it is behind schedule.

Why has it been delayed? In short, life has its own schedule, whatever plans we have in mind. In long, there have been some drastic changes in work and life schedules around Lockwood Manor. Due to these changes, we are working through some difficulties regarding the work-life-work balance for Bailey and myself. So, as we seek equilibrium with these new adjustments, Threshold is delayed in receiving a thoroughly polished edit. Without one, it remains hidden from the light of day.

And while that is sad news for me, there is some good news. Life, in all of its strangeness, is a cornucopia of opportunity – a rainbow that signals the end of the ugly downpour we’ve been dealing with.

Bailey’s precariously balanced schedule is shifting, and after some long thinks and some deep breathing exercises, she has decided to push toward her dream of being a full-time editor. While there are definite nerves about such an endeavor, this is a truly exciting step for both of us.

So, if you or someone you know is looking for editing services, may I highly recommend Just Ducky Editing? She comes with excellent references and a wealth of knowledge regarding the written word, AND you’d be supporting a blossoming entrepreneur.

Got words that need polish? Reach out to Bailey via her website.

More news about Threshold soon… I can’t wait to reveal this cover.

When I grow up…

…I want to be a Book Slapper.Slapper

Source: gargoylesstandingonsuperheroes

On one side, it’s because as a member of the audience, I want to see the movie I deserve to see. On another, authors should not be asked to endorse a film they are not proud of. On a third, we could heal the rift between book lovers and movie lovers. You know how to stop every “the book is better than the movie” argument? You make the movie a reasonable adaptation based on the source material.

One of my favorite books that has ever been adapted is Stardust. It is one of few adaptations whose changes differ from the source, but do not change the story. It’s a charming story that I truly love (enough to incorporate in my wedding ceremony) and while I love the movie for different reasons than I love the book, I adore them both for the story that exists there, one both the movie and the book eloquently drive home.

Another is The Princess Bride, which wildly differs in many ways between book and film. However, I believe the key successes in this adaptation are William Goldman’s screenplay – the author adapted his own book to film – and Rob Reiner’s clear love of bringing this film to life. It’s a legacy piece that continues to withstand obsolescence.

This is what I see as key to adaptation, and why I think Book Slapping should be a highly regarded position in the film studio. These are people who, above all else, support the story’s heart and the intent so that it can be passed on to a wider audience. This is not an argument for 10-hour versions of your favorite stories so we can make sure every little detail is included (that’s probably more of a lobbying position – and you’re looking at a limited series then, right?). This is a position that works as a liaison between the studio and the author; a person who figures out what the actual story is, and ensures that when the film is finished, that story is intact.

Yes, this is a long-winded introduction to how frustrated I am with the Hollywood adaptation machine. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy movies. I do, and there are a number of movies I enjoy in spite of being bad adaptations, and still more I didn’t even know where books before I sat down to write out this rant.

And I will continue to see them because I continue to get excited about them. I get excited when books I like get adapted. It means exposure, it means a wider audience, it means a chance for the things I love to become more of the things I love. But instead, it usually means that I get frustrated over the changes – pointless changes, usually – that take away from the story that I came to see play out on screen.

Think about all the books you’ve read that have been adapted. How many were good movies? How many were faithful adaptations? How many were as good as the book? Better?

I’ve heard the conversation plenty of times: someone says “the book was better than the movie” and someone else always says “well, duh” or something similar. Why have we accepted that this is the way things are? Why are we not holding the entertainment industry to a higher standard?

“Fool me once,” the adage goes, but how many times can we be fooled? I’m sure I’m not done. I will be tricked again. Or, I will find out a movie was a book first and finish the book to find how different it was from its source material.

I wish I had an answer or some kind of solution. I don’t. All I can do is continue to demand better of Hollywood for authors and fans alike:

If you want to adapt a story, adapt it. Do it well. If you want to tell your own story, do that instead. Quit taking other people’s stories and changing them how you see fit. It plays on the fan’s desires for a good adaptation; that’s disingenuous. Be better. Do better.

…at least until someone hires me as a Book Slapper.

Another Big Goodbye…

We lost another legend this week. By the time I get this out, Stan Lee will already be looking down on us all from the Rainbow Bridge, standing proud and admiring the world he has left in his wake.

And even though I am sad that he is gone (because really, for a minute there, I thought he might be immortal), I can’t be that sad. You see, Stan planned ahead; he left us in good hands. His legacy is intact. He won’t ever be completely gone.

See, it started a long time ago. Stan, along with a bunch of other greats – Steve Ditko, John Romita, Jack Kirby – started telling stories that infected the minds of a generation. That infection spread, and not only did the comics spawn into cartoons, and later movies, but it did something else – it got into our imaginations. The legacy that Stan helped create is a keystone for so many creative people today. They’ve come out of the woodwork to celebrate his life through stories about how he inspired them all.

For me, Stan Lee was the guy behind Spider-Man, and Spidey was integral to my upbringing and the shaping of who I am. Spidey was a nobody who was given a gift, and he rose to the occasion without fail – even when the odds are against him. In the Sunday comics, on Saturday morning cartoons, and once (sometimes twice!) monthly at the comic shop, I watched a nerd accept Great Power and Great Responsibility and imagined how great it would be if such a gift was bestowed unto me.

I’ve never been given such power (it’s probably for the best). But what I failed to realize was what Stan was really showing me in those stories. Whether it’s Peter Parker, or Steve Rogers, or the Richards Family, when you discard the costumes and let go of the powers for a moment, what you have is a set of powers that any of us can wield:

Love, courage, kindness, tenacity.

Spidey never gives up. Cap never backs down. Johnny and Sue always have each other’s backs. All this time, I was reading comics to escape, and Stan was teaching me – and teaching his apprentices to teach us – that I had my own strengths. That I could be something more than I was, if I wanted to be. If I was willing to face adversity and keep getting up when things knocked me down. If I was willing to be one of the good guys.

It’s not as easy as the comics make it look. Somedays, I don’t want to face the adversity at all. But I do it. I get back into the thick of it and I try to make the world better, whenever and however I can. It’s hard sometimes but I’m still trying. I’m trying to be one of the good guys.

And no, Stan doesn’t get all of the credit, but he’s inspired a lot of people who have inspired me, so he gets a solid mention in my life’s acknowledgements.

Here’s to The Man: his absence will be noticed, but so will his influence.

I’ll wrap this up with a couple of awesome quotes from Stan himself:

“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.” – from The Washington Post, July 23, 2010

“If we don’t blow ourselves up, the future will be wonderful.” – from an interview with Steve Aoki, Neon Future Sessions

“Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” – from Cyberspacers

Excelsior!

stan

By the time you read this…

…to quote the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. It’s nothing alarming, but it is an attention-getter, isn’t it?

Then again, maybe it is alarming – if your understanding of the world is based on certain elements of the universe behaving just-so. In that case, you probably shouldn’t have based your status quo on me. That was bad form. But I digress…

By the time you read this, I’ll have ventured forward on one of the last great adventures any being can have. By my calculation, there are only two or three great adventures left in this lifetime – lots of lesser adventures to be sure, and all completely worthwhile – but this is an adventure long overdue.

And even though I’m running out of great adventures, I’m a long way from the end. In fact, this is a brand new… chapter? Book? Whatever your analogy, today is the day that new part begins.

Today is the day that I say “I do” to my first-thing-every-morning, my last-thing-every-night, my ever-vigilant editor… my pretty-much-everything.

Today is the first day of possibly the best chapter of my life. Maybe because it’s no longer my life, but our life, officially. And no, this isn’t where we stop being solitary entities and become one of those congealed couples that cannot separate from one another. She has her solo missions, and I have my own. But we have many more together – because we like each other and want to have these adventures together. It’s part of the reason for the whole marriage thing getting done.

Anyway, sometime in your running around today – maybe even right now because it’ll be easiest, do me a favor:

Take three seconds out of your day, raise a glass, and wish us luck. It’s not that we need it, but I really want this to be an amazing adventure, so I’ll take all the luck we can get.

Thanks.

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Photo by Watership Photography

Blooded and Bashed…

This past weekend, I participated in an event that was a number of firsts, even as I was starting to consider myself a “regular” as this event game…

  • This was my first convention as an author. I’ve been to other events where I wasn’t sure how books would be received, but never an actual convention. Fun fact: this won’t be my last convention this year, either. 😉
  • This was my first horror convention ever. Shocking as it might sound, I’ve never actually made it to a horror convention before.
  • This was the first convention I’ve attended on my own turf. Certainly not my first local event, but I’ll tell you: it’s nice to hear other people complain about the morning commute for once. Short drives could grow on me.

So what is Blood Bash? It’s an annual horror convention organized by the awesome people at MeggaXP that brings together fans, films, filmmakers, vendors, and a bunch of costumed (and plain-clothes) crazies for a day of celebrating the genre. In short: it’s a day of bloody good fun! (get it?)

The biggest difference between ALL of my previous shows and this one? Tone. Most of the time, people will walk by my table, take one look at my books and say, “That’s creepy.” They said it just as much at Blood Bash, but it was with more excitement than revulsion. It was a pleasant change.

Not that I’m opposed to bringing out such reactions in people. It’s amusing. It’s definitely what I signed up for when I decided I was going to write horror. But sometimes, it’s nice to be appreciated instead of just feared, you know? I definitely was not feared at Blood Bash.

There was a surprising number of authors roaming the convention – on both sides of the tables – including plenty of folks from the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.

But here’s the thing about a horror convention – or at least my take on this one:

I have honestly never been surrounded by such a great group of people in my life. Everyone was nice, friendly, courteous, and just having a great time. There were smiles and laughter aplenty. More than I’ve experienced at any other function, and easily matching any other convention I’ve been to.

Horror fans are the best fans, if I can be so bold (and I can).

Seriously. The people who put on Blood Bash have so much passion for this stuff. All of the folks were appreciative of each other, regardless of your function at the convention. Whether you were an attendee, or a vendor, or an artist, or a volunteer, the energy in the room was delightfully positive and, long a day as it was, it was a good time right up until the end.

You can definitely expect to see me at next year’s Blood Bash. You may see me at other horror conventions, but I hesitate… this experience set a pretty high bar. I might be a little disappointed trying to compare this experience to another.

Besides, it’s not every day you get to feed your bookmark to a shark wandering the aisles…

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