Archives For Personal

For information about my life, what I’m working on, and how the business side of things is doing.

Recent Developments

October 12, 2014 — 84 Comments

Hello friends,

You may have noticed a lack of posts. Don’t worry, I’m not dead.

If anything, I’m writing – a lot!

Here are some recent developments I’m psyched to share with you.

Pool of Echoes

Pool of Echoes is about to be released. It is now in the process of formatting, proofreading, and some basic marketing preparation.

It is a story that does some things I haven’t seen anywhere else, yet still has familiar elements that fans of science fiction and psychological thrillers are certain to enjoy.

Marketing

In another post, I talked about getting a marketing degree. Unlike many authors who have a phobia of promoting themselves, I intend to be the opposite.

Writing is what I’m really committed to, and when you commit to something, it makes sense to ensure that your activities are as valuable as possible – to yourself and others. To suggest otherwise is to cheapen your time, life, and mission.

Though to be honest, I’m just barely starting to get a handle on what I’m doing.

I may in the future write some posts about the different things I’m doing to promote the books. If you’re interested in spreading the word about what you do, you may find it useful. If not, you’re welcome to skip it.

To synthesize everything I’ve learned into a few short sentences, it’s this: Write what really excites you, then position your work where it is easy to find, and make sure you have a way to remain in contact with people who like what you do. Repeat – the more often you can do this without sacrificing quality, the better.

Working

Austin is a challenging place to live, especially if you’ve started in the city unemployed and without any network in place. I’ve managed to change both of those things, thanks to my faith and the Three Legs of Trust.

As a commitment to my writing career, I’ve decided that not a single month will go by where my expenses exceed my income. Sometimes that means 60+ hours a week between multiple jobs. So be it. Doing this may seem like a tough thing to do, but I’ve managed to pull it off for the last 5 months without too much problems. It also has helped me to earn enough money to release more than one book a year. Great news, as that means I’ll be able to put out enough books to – within a few months/years – drop back to 40 hours/week or less. Like a normal person.

From there, it isn’t unreasonable to expect 2-8 completed works a year, depending on how many worthy ideas I find, and how improved the writing process gets. About 75% or so will be novels while the remaining 25% will likely be screenplays.

Marketing 2.0

Ultimately, the activities that are going to work best will have two big features:

1. It will be effective in earning income and creating more freedom to live well and continue writing indefinitely. (this usually will mean book sales, publishing advances, or screenplay options)

2. It will be enjoyable for both myself and others.

Here are some thoughts on different methods:

Blogging

Ask any how-to book on how to succeed in writing, and you will get the following advice: Start a blog, write 3-5X a week, and guest post to build your audience. Then, after 6 months or so, you’ll have a platform of people who will be interested when you have something to offer.

I’ve noticed that for this to work, it’s best to have something valuable and useful to say, 3-5x a week, and even more for guest posting elsewhere.

For a lot of people, this has worked really well. For me? I just don’t have something incredibly useful to say 3-5X a week, every week.

Plus, this takes time to do, time that could just as easily be spent writing more books – something I know you really want if you’re on this site. Why would I delay giving you what you want in order to do something I’m not naturally good at, when I don’t have much time to spare as it is?

I am interested in blogging on specific things, like a production diaries and a reporting of interesting things I find during the research process. Perhaps as sales improve, freeing up more time, I’ll be able to do more of this.

Audio and Video

Big secret here.

When I write, I’m basically writing down a movie that I’m seeing in my head. At least on good days.

Audio takes very little budget, but works best when you have guests to interview and interface with.

Video, on the other hand, can be done solo or with guests. You can do interviews, short narratives, how-to’s, screen-captures, and other forms of content. While it takes more resources to do well, I believe my mind works in a way best-suited for this type of content. Doing this will likely be just as rewarding as the writing process.

PR, Radio, and TV Interviews

I’m open to them, though I think a publicist would be tremendously helpful if I’m seeking to do this consistently and well.

Blog Tours

Heard they’re not that effective, but willing to try them out.

Series

There’s Emotionally Bulletproof, and another one in the works! I’m really excited about what you’ll get to read in the near future.

Audiobooks

The groundwork is being laid for producing audiobooks of all my works. I don’t have a publicized deadline, but it is super important to me. Audio is one of the best ways for me to read, and I know that a lot of people feel the same way for many different reasons.

Advertising

To see if it works, I’ll do it. It seems to be working for a lot of writers. If it works, I’ll keep doing it. If it doesn’t, I’ll try again later with a different release.

Guest Articles

I want to have more recent posts, even if I don’t post very often, before really leaning into this. The big reason for using this form of promotion is mainly to make friends in the new media and add value to them as much as possible.

Book Signings

They aren’t a great way to leverage your time unless you have a large platform already. If you’re last name is Rowling, or Patterson, or King, or Dekker, then do it. If not, your sales will likely be in the single digits unless you promote hard for 4+ hours on end. This is based on multiple personal experiences. There may be exceptions if you cross-promote with other authors, or create an event with unique appeal. Otherwise, it isn’t a sustainable way to make a living and write, especially if your energy diminishes from being really social – the definition of introversion. With your tank on empty from promoting all day, where is the energy to write more? Add a multi-city tour, and you’ve just added time off work and travel expenses as dual costs that have to be surpassed in order for the event to succeed.

Book Publishing Events and Conferences

Completely new to this, but looking forward to seeing how other authors use these in order to improve their connections and contribute as panelists on specific topics. There is one coming up near the end of the month in my home city.

Compiled Short Stories With a Variety of Genre Authors

Sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t know how to get something like that started, but I think that with the right group of people it could be really great. While I’m not really accustomed to short-form storytelling, I’d push through that knowledge gap in order to participate in the right compilation.

Short Story Submission

Despite searching through Writers’ Market, and some thorough online research, I don’t know a lot of authors doing what I do (best described as Christian-inspired fiction with elements of action, thriller, and sci-fi mixed in), and with the few magazines I have found, it doesn’t look like there’s enough readership and/or financial incentive to justify the work that goes into that type of work so far. Given, if I’m inspired to write a short story, and I later find that such a platform is the best vehicle for it, I’ll gladly put it there to attract readership to my other books and to help the magazine broaden its reader base. Until then, not really feeling it.

If you know of any good Christian Fiction, or Magazines open to the type of work I do, let me know. It would be an honor to contribute to something people love.

That’s all folks!

My next post will likely be about Pool of Echoes being released, so look forward to that. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to sending more great work your way.

Anyone can Serve

April 22, 2014 — 81 Comments

Confession: For the longest time, I thought I disliked serving people.

The reality was that I love serving people, but hate being imposed upon.

I recently had the pleasure of doing outreach with my church in an assisted living home. After some songs, Bible verses, and a short message, we chatted with the people who lived there. One of them, an obese diabetic in a wheelchair, mentioned that she did Mass in a room down the hall every 2nd Sunday, and said it would be great if we could come.

Years of guilt-tripping has taught me to recognize an imposition so I can escape it before I am asked. So that’s what I did. I was one of the first to leave, and drove out of there a bit faster than I should have.

Imagine her surprise next week when she saw me there!

So I helped with communion, handing out the wine and the bread. Most of the attendees could hardly move, and needed help just getting around.

And the woman who led mass? She has no legs.

I don’t mean she can’t use her legs – below the middle of her thighs are thick, round stumps – then nothing but air.

So this woman cannot move around. She’s stuck in an assisted living home. She’s old and at least 300 lbs – not winning any beauty contests there. Plus, she has no legs.

Despite that, she had one of the most cheerful spirits out of anyone I had ever met.

Possibly it’s because she knows that no matter where she is in life, she can always do something that makes a difference.

If she can, so can you.

Mynephew1 by Copo on sxc.huSome things are too awesome not to share.

This is the first of a (hopefully) many-part series that will send some goodwill towards anybody who’s doing really cool stuff.

Blackbeard V. Al Capone

No, it’s not a supreme court case, though I’d watch that.

This is the epic rap battles of history. When I told a friend about this, he slapped his own face in shock “You’ve just now found out about this!”

Maybe I’m not the only one.

Disclaimer: it is PG-13, I’d say, mainly because of language. But incredibly hilarious for anyone who knows basic info about historical figures.

My only complaint? They use too many fictional characters in their other ones.

-1 for legitimacy.

An Injection of Heavy Metal

I mostly gave up heavy metal because the lyrics were too depressing to dwell on over a long time. Occasionally I’ll get my fix through ‘metal’ versions of non-metal songs.

The chef in that kitchen is Eric Calderone. Aside from being a great shredding guitarist, he seems to have a cool sense of humor. If he put a collection on Spotify, his stuff would probably get spread around like the flu in early spring.

 

What about you guys? Any awesome stuff you’ve seen on the net?

In case this even needs to be said, anything worse than an R rating will disappear. I appreciate freedom of speech, but this website is run by a dictator with boundaries (me), and I won’t have any of that.

2-bed, 1.5 bath, lovely view if you can do a handstand.

Fear can come from out of nowhere.

Last month I got a letter from my landlord – one of these big impersonal companies that has many apartment complexes. For all I know, the person who owns it all might not even be from Texas, or the U.S.

In the letter, it said that I can choose my rent price.

The problem? All their options were at least $50 per month more than what I was currently paying.

Fear struck.

Fear? Why now? I’ve moved eight times since 2008. Multiple states, and at least 3 countries. Why would I be scared of a simple move now?

In the middle of my freaking out, I took this opportunity to apply what was written in this previous post.

Get more information to understand the problem –

– and get moving.

Austin is a bubble of craziness in America. It’s one of the few real estate markets in the U.S. that continues to ignore the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC – the housing market keeps going up, up, up. Even after the recession, Austin’s population grows faster than contractors can build. How was I going to keep prices low, and have a story completely different than the one being told for me?

With my delivery job, I had visited nearly every apartment complex in a 5 mile radius – many times. Combine that with my past experience being a Realtor, and my business education, and I was someone who could actually do something. Maybe it wouldn’t be much, but it might be enough.

I visited several apartment complexes and got quotes. Most of them were higher than what I was paying. Then I found two – both were closer to town.

One was over 100 sq feet less than what I currently had.

The other?  superior in every way. I got on the waiting list for this one and then attempted to renegotiate with my landlord.

The landlord had an assistant who had zero business experience. You could see it in the way he carried himself. He was four to five rungs down in this big, plastic ladder.

I remembered the whole time to keep my cool, be polite, avoid ultimatums. I even offered to pay multiple months of rent in advance as leverage.

He pulled market pricing excuses (which were hard to cross reference, where did he get this info?) then looked at this big 3-ring binder filled with Excel spreadsheets. Then he countered to raise my rent a hundred dollars higher than the increased price their letter started with.

Bad negotiating.

You could say I ‘lost’. Sometimes a system is structured so you end up ‘negotiating’ with someone who doesn’t have the ‘authority’ to do anything. So many people are ‘just doing their job’ in a compartmentalized existence for faceless brand symbols pursuing false idols, leaving real human beings exposed to the damage left behind…but I digress.

By getting on a waiting list earlier, and not waiting until the last minute – I had options baby!

I signed a lease yesterday with one that will actually cost around 40 dollars LESS per month than what I’m already paying. It’s closer to town, is in a gated community, and has larger square footage. Combine that with the 50$ price increase I would have paid, I saved around 800$, including moving expenses.

Lucky? Maybe. But if I hadn’t reached out for more information, and if I hadn’t continued to take small steps forward, no amount of luck in the world would have made a difference.

So I lost the negotiation, but beat the victim mentality and got what I wanted. A way to keep costs down and continue to build momentum in a place I enjoy living.

Have you had any victories against the victim mentality? I’d love to know. I’d even feature you in a blog post if your story is (A: true) and (B: awesome). Until then, leave a synopsis of what happened in the comments…

Rant on emotions – they may mess with your plans…yet they may be the only reason why you have plans at all.

Continue Reading...

What does fear do to your decision-making process? It slows it down. Here’s two simple things you can do to get moving again…

Continue Reading...

The Victim Mentality

March 27, 2013 — 78 Comments

Rant on the victim mentality, how it affects our lives, and what I’m trying to do about it.

Continue Reading...

Sometimes you have down moments. Here I am ranting about one of my own. Don’t worry, it has a happy ending.

Continue Reading...

TV interview, Website, a Third Book, and More

Continue Reading...

V-Day

February 14, 2011 — 34 Comments

Calligraphy from the 15th century...brought to you by the letter 'V'!

I know it was the 12th, but I celebrated Valentines day last Saturday night.

Least favorite holiday of the year. Still, I had a good time.

I was visiting the church of a friend, and spent the weekend staying with his family. There were two church services, a park outreach, singing in a nursing home, and a fancy Valentine’s dinner celebration all in one day.

Keep in mind, I rarely make it through one church service, let alone two. When you add several outreach ministries on the back end, anyone can be made to feel stressed by the end of that day. The social atmosphere of church usually wears me down. Hopefully I will have more days like this to push through and increase my social stamina.

Anyway, on to the celebration. There was Italian food, and violins playing concertos. It felt like something out of Pride and Prejudice – the atmosphere can make any man feel like a gentleman. The evening was followed by my friend, his brother, his Pastor father, and me all playing a cover of “Surfin’ U.S.A.”.

Don’t even ask.

The crowd loved it though, and it was a great way to start playing the guitar again after a year of letting the callouses deteriorate from my fingertips. Other acts followed: stand-up comedy, covers of love songs by a talented pianist, and finally, the highlight of the evening, the affirmations.

In one calculated move, the Richardson Texas church took the one thing I disliked about Valentine’s day and made it my favorite part. After this post, you are sure to feel the same.

One by one, people stood up and publicly thanked the individuals who have showed them love at different points in their lives. This was symbolized by a short speech, and an exchange of roses and chocolate.

The usual suspects had their time in the spotlight. The happily married couples, significant others, and boyfriends/girlfriends had plenty of opportunities to make single people feel jealous, and painfully aware of their own lack of relationship. The expressions of love exchanged on that night lightened the atmosphere and gave me great appreciation for the group of people gathered there.

Brothers and sisters, guitarists and soundmen, mothers and sons, and friends of one another all had their chance to show how much love and respect they had for their close friendships.

The affirmations took a long time to wrap up, and we left the church after 10:30 p.m.

Even though we stayed at ‘church’ from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., I went to bed feeling less worn out than I normally do after three hours of traditional church worship services.

Valentines day is a great day to be alive.