Writer’s BLAH

I’ve written before that I don’t believe in Writer’s Block. I still don’t; haven’t changed my mind on that one. If you want to read those thoughts, go here.

But this isn’t about an actual “block,” but a BLAH. It’s when you just don’t feel like writing.

Now, if you’re like me (or the way I usually am), you’re sitting there saying “suck it up and deal with it. LOTS of people don’t want to go to work and they have to do so anyway. Put on your big boy pants and write.” Yep, if you—as a writer—came to me and said you didn’t “feel” like writing, that’s how I’d respond.

BUT…what do you DO when that happens, and WHY does it happen?

This is a predicament that’s recently happened to me. And—as I’m writing this post now I think it’s improving…so I’m not sure I have the answer what to do, but maybe can talk about some of the WHY.

One reason a writer might not feel like writing is STRESS. Sometimes the stresses of daily life: bills, jobs, family, relationships, etc. Stress has the ability to run up your blood pressure, cause headaches, get pimples, shorten tempers, and a whole host of other things. When the writer is stressed, sometimes writing is the last thing on his mind.

Another reason a writer might not feel like writing is depression. When I was a young buck, the whole idea of depression just didn’t make any sense to me. I would always think if someone was “depressed,” they could just cry it out and then get better. I didn’t get that depression was more than just being sad. Having now had personal experience with depression, knowing people who have genuinely battled it, I have a different understanding. If you’re depressed, it isn’t that you can’t write, or can’t have creative thoughts (ie., “writers block”), it’s that you just don’t feel like doing it. Of course, when you’re depressed, you don’t feel like doing much of anything. Except maybe sleep.

A final reason a writer might not feel like writing is health. You might want to argue that the first two reasons fall under this heading, and so it’s all just one thing…maybe. I wouldn’t argue too hard with you, but I think it’s different enough to talk about. Obviously, if you’ve got pneumonia, you’re not going to feel like penning haiku. If you have arthritis in your hands, it might actually hurt you to write…and thus you don’t feel like being in pain. But it might be even something different. I recently discovered that my B12 is low… “far lower than normal,” my doc said, and proceeded to immediately stick me with a needle. But found out that a deficiency of B12 can cause a whole host of scary things, among those are weakness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and thinking, and memory loss.

Which completely explained to me why I’d been so tired and didn’t feel like doing anything. It wasn’t “old age,” or “writer’s block,” but it was a health thing.

So, I’m not back to 100%, but I’m a bit better and at least glad I know what’s going on so that I can tackle it!

Thanks for reading, y’all.

 

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Looking Ahead at 2016

Okay, I know this is about 14 days behind…but hopefully we’re all looking forward to a great year. I know I am, even if this post isn’t out the first week of January.

I’m still filling in the calendar for convention appearances this year, but so far I’m slated for these shows:

March 20th: Daytona Beach Comic Convention. This one day show is close to the beach, to the Daytona race track, and is on the campus at Embry Riddle. If you like comics, THIS is the show to attend. The last two shows I did here had more comic dealers than any of the “biggers” shows I attended all last year! I’ll be there, so come see me!

April 30-May 1: Lebanon MEGA Con. In Lebanon, Missouri, this is not only the debut of a new annual convention, but it’ll be my first ever appearance in the Show Me state! There’s also a bunch of wrestling guests slated to show up as well as comic artist Val Mayerik! So, for all my Missouri peeps, come out and see me! Lots of fun to be had.

May 26-29: MegaCon in Orlando, FL. This will be my sixth MegaCon, probably the show I’ve done more than any other single show except CoastCon in Biloxi, MS. The first time I did MegaCon was in 1998, then not again until 2012…and every year since. I notice their guest list isn’t updated, but I’ll be back in Artist Alley this year, hopefully beside my pals Barry and Jenny Gregory (maybe Thomas Florimonte?) and Wes Locher. It’s a four day show this year, so make your plans now!

Aug 5-7: WizardWorld Orlando. Yep. You read that right. WizardWorld is coming to Orlando this year…and I’m excited. You already know that I’ve done several Wizard shows and my thoughts on this extremely professionally run show! This is a great thing for Orlando. I expect this guest list to continue to grow—I mean, who doesn’t want to come to Orlando, right?

Nov 20: Clermont (FL) Comic Con. Not sure how long this one has been going, but I heard great things about the ’15 version of it, and so I’m very happy to have been added to the guest list for the ’16 show. All of you central Florida folks who want to avoid the mega shows should check out this one! I’ll see you there!

Creatively, there are a couple of projects that are moving forward that I’m pretty excited about. The first—and we’re planning for it to be available by MegaCon in May, is TINY, a re-telling of the Thumbelina fairy tale by me and newcomer artist Deonna Herrold. Check out some of her fantastic work here. Also, here’s a sneak peek at one of her pages. I’ll be posting more as we get closer. I gotta say this: it’s looking GREAT!

A second project that’s going to happen is one with my pal and artist extraordinaire, Dean Zachary. I’m sure most of you comic folks know who Dean is already—which is why I’m so excited to be working with him. No art for this one—that I can show you—just yet. But you’ll have to trust me on this one…WOW!

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Happy New Year 2016, or 2015 that was

When I was fifteen, the year 2000 seemed like such a long way off, the kind of date I’d see in a science fiction or comic book that I’d read and enjoy. Heck, I remember writing something around that time for a silly high school assignment in which I predicted my rock band would be on it’s fifteenth world tour by 2015. At times, it still feels like 2016 should be in the “future.”

But alas, that time is now and we’d better be embracing it!

2015 was a good year for me. I still get to teach students how to write comic books at the university level, something I would not have even thought possible twenty years ago. Heck, many of my own writing professors in college have zero respect for comics. That’s changing—which is a good thing. And here’s the other thing about my class: to my knowledge, mine is the only comic writing class offered as part of a degree program at a university. Yes, you can “study” comics (often taught by “studiers” of comics and not by “makers” of) in quite a few universities and you can study sequential art…but none offer writing!

You can take writing classes from many excellent professionals at libraries, online, part of continuing education, etc., and while those are cool, they aren’t part of a degree program at a university.

So, yeah…I think it’s pretty cool.

I did quite a few comic shows in 2015 and had a blast at them (most of them). I’m lining up several again for 2016 and must say, I’m enjoying the convention circuit again. I’ll keep you all posted on those.

WordPress tells me my top posts for 2015 weren’t all necessarily written in 2015…which is kinda cool…I think. WordPress tells me it means that my writing has “staying power.”

They are:

1: The Origin of Hotty Toddy (October 26, 2011)

2: The Pros and Cons of Digital Comics (January 23, 2015)

3: Anatomy of a Yawn (Oct 29, 2008)

4: 25 (April 28, 2015)

5: Write a Love Letter to Your Artist(April 18, 2013)

I think it’s funny that the Hotty Toddy post still gets views. I also noticed that most of the views come during football season. The 2008 post surprises me most—it’s one that didn’t take a long time to write nor did I consider it that much. I originally wrote it as a column when I was a newspaper editor and was just looking for content for that demographic.

Thank you all for continuing to read my ramblings and I hope your 2016 is a great one!

 

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Daytona Beach Comic Con

Sunday will be my last show for 2015 as I’ll be a comic guest at the Daytona Beach Comic Con in—of all places—Daytona Beach, Florida! And hey all you north of Florida…yeah, it’s still not “jacket” weather here yet, some come on down!

If you’ve got an hour to kill—which I know MANY of you do during your commutes—pop on over to the Riley and Kimmy Show and listen to me and Patrick chat it up for a bit. We talk a little of everything comic related; writing, conventions, comics moving from the periodical (or floppy) format to trades/graphic novels, access/distribution, my time as editor for Marvel/Malibu…and even get to talk about my current day job: teaching creative writing students how to write comics (yes, it’s a cool job. No, you can’t have it!). So give it a listen and show some love to the Riley and Kimmy Show!

The Daytona Beach Comic Con made the news, too: http://buff.ly/1Qj8JYt

In other news…well, 2015 is rapidly coming to an end. Man but they fly by faster and faster, don’t they. Dunno if I’ll talk much about them before the new year—probably not—but I’m real excited about a couple of projects that I’m hoping will see light of day in 2016! So, stay tuned here and I’ll be showing some art soon, too!

Lots of bad news around the world these days. Let’s try to remember that and everyone make and effort to be a little nicer to others. Here’s my challenge to you: think of that person in your circle who is diametrically OPPOSITE of you (politics, religion, whatever)…and make it a point to BE NICE to them regardless of whether they’re a jerk to you or not. Hey, SOMEbody has to start it, right?

So, this is where I’ll be Sunday: http://daytonabeachcomicconvention.com/

Drop by and say hi. Perfect time to pick up some books from me—they make GREAT Christmas presents. I’ll even sign them—for FREE! (just don’t tell Neal Adams!)

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015

I haven’t seen as many of those countdown to Thanksgiving posts on FB this year as I’ve seen in years past, but I decided to do my own list of thankfuls this year. So, I’m thankful for…

*the USA. Despite all my “serious issues” with our government, it’s still the best nation on the planet (why else would thousands give their lives trying to get here?) and I’m glad I’m here and not somewhere else.

*my job. In this day and age there are a lot of people still out of work.

*my boss. A boss can make all the difference in your job; a good boss can make a bad job tolerable and a bad boss can make a good job miserable. I’m fortunate to currently have a good one!

*a roof over my head. With all the hubbub surrounding the refugees, regardless of your stance, I’m thankful that I have a home with a roof over my head, unlike many of them.

*my nuclear family. As of this writing, BJ and I have been married for 25 years and we’ve produced two wonderful kids, both of whom I’m very proud!

*my extended family. So blessed to have the dad, mom and sister that I do. And all the aunts, uncles and cousins to go with them. I’m proud to call them all “family!”

*YOU. You come here and read my blog…and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you take the time to read this when you could be doing something else—even if it’s just Candy Crush!

*my faith. Yeah, many with my faith are under constant scrutiny (and even attack—though many who do would deny they do so!), I’m still thankful for a loving God who can accept a screw-up like me.

So…what are YOU thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Kickstarter reflection (or, part 4)

Did you miss me? I missed me. As I tell my students and writers conference attendees, there’s no real good reason for not writing. And while I don’t really consider this blog my “writing,” it is part of my writing process, something which helps keep my creative juices going.

Well, that…and reading. Reading a lot.

But it seems one thing or another has kept me from writing here. One of those things, I think, was wrapping up the Kickstarter segments. For pure transparency, I was a bit bummed we didn’t make it…and then afterwards, Joe had to move on to other projects, which effectively kills Citizens as is. That said, I DO have good news on other projects fronts, and I hope to be talking about two of them very soon!

But even though I finished the posts, I wanted to actually reflect a little on the campaign.

One of the telling things about running a Kickstarter campaign is that it becomes very clear where the “support” comes from. While you can get anonymous donors (I had a couple), most support and then get on board to help the campaigners get the word out. The supporters of Citizens did just that. There were some who I felt went above and beyond trying to help me and Joe make our goal—I saw multiple posts from them telling people to go check it out. Of course, I’m incredibly thankful for those people!

I think the biggest surprise to me from the entire thing was the overwhelming lack of support from the Christian community. Most of you here know that about me. I don’t blog a lot about my faith…I try to live it more than talk about it—though sometimes I do. Of course, you know too, that I fail a lot on “being” a Christian. I guess that’s just part of my path. But after my “religious conversion,” I tried to immerse myself in the “Christian creative community.” As a new believer, I wanted to be a part of it. I bought books, comics, movies, and music that I didn’t know existed. Most of it really bad, but I wanted to support it so that I could see it improve. Sad to learn it’s a one way street.

Will I do another kickstarter? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I will. In fact, I’m already thinking of them. One KEY factor is that the art is going to have to be mostly done so that the delivery date is closer. That, and I’m going to push harder for earlier pledges. So if you pledged to Citizens, I’ll be coming to you again asking you to support the next one. If the project looks interesting to you, I’ll ask that you pledge early–because it helps generate heat on the KS campaign.

Okay…now back to writing…and grading. Lots of grading.

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Kickstarter part 3, Wizard World Ft. Lauderdale

I’ve just come off of two back to back Wizard World Comic Cons (Nashville and Ft. Lauderdale) and am still battling some sort of Con Crud. Ugh. No fevers, just sore throat and coughing. Seems to be far worse in the a.m.

Wizard World Comic Con in Ft. Lauderdale was fun…but seemed to be light on attendees; not much foot traffic. Not sure if there was something else competing for folks or not. The Wizard crew was as efficient as ever and I got to chat with some cool folks including attempting to start some “charge for autograph” trouble with Neal Adams…but he didn’t take the bait! Haha Shared my spot (and hotel room) with the talented Joe Badon and had a blast doing so! Also got to meet Joel Adams in the flesh–I worked with him VERY briefly back during my Marvel/Ultraverse days.

But figured I’d get back to the Kickstarter thread and finish it up. The nervous feeling never went away, not during the entire process. I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough, even though I was emailing folks, posting updates to social media, getting on podcasts, etc. But that’s exactly what I did after finishing up the video—hit “launch” and I began to send out emails and contact bloggers and podcasters to see if they were interested in featuring the book.

Now that the campaign is over, I think I probably started contacting the bloggers and podcasters too late. I think the emails were fine because most of those were very personal and I didn’t really want to suddenly become a spammer with “I’m ABOUT to launch” one…followed by the “I’ve launched so please go support.” I dunno, maybe I should have. KS tells you that the most successful campaigns are those that reach 30% or greater during the first few days. We only reached about 20%.

No one pledged for the original art from Kyle Hotz or Joie Simmons, either, which surprised me. I think, though, that maybe not HAVING the art hurt. When I try one again, I’ll be sure to try to get the art.

In the end, we quoted too high a print run and for too many prints. Very few folks actually pledged to get the prints—which is news to be as I thought those would be popular, particularly based on what seems to be popular at the comic shows. I probably should have build the campaign around a much smaller print run (100 vs 500) and knocked out the prints…or reduced them.

I’m not done with Kickstarter, though, as I think it is a good tool for creators. Not sure what project will be next, but I’m actually kind of anxious for it. Citizens won’t be immediately relaunched as Joe has personal projects to attend to…so not sure what the future holds for the book. I really wanted it to be a full length graphic novel and not a shorter work…but that might not be in the works for it.

Okay, this is a little shorter than normal because I’m headed back to bed (writing this in the pm hours). Thanks for reading, y’all!

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