Do People Still Smoke?

A few years ago I took a 10 day trip to Europe with my daughter. It was my first real vacation in probably a decade, so I went all out with it, or at least as all out as I could afford at the time. Ten days spread out over stops in Rome, Florence, Milan, and finishing up in Zurich, Switzerland, making sure to see as many historically significant tourist traps as possible along the way.

It was an awesome trip, and I’d jump at the chance to go back and do it all again. But, despite the overload of cool foreign culture, food, and sights, there was also a dark underbelly over there that, quite frankly, caught me by surprise. Especially in Italy, where….

Nearly. Everyone. Smokes.

I didn’t pick up on it at first. I’d see packs of Italian dudes standing outside restaurants or cabbies at the corner, all of them with cigarettes in their hand. But I’d grown up seeing the same thing as a kid. It wasn’t unusual.

It didn’t hit me until we went to the train station in Rome, and walked into a literal wall of second-hand smoke. The station itself is just a huge room with train tracks, platforms, and ticket booths, and the far end (where the trains come in) is open to the outside. But even all that space and (questionably?) fresh air couldn’t keep clouds of cigarette smoke from following us around. I’m pretty sure 90% of the people in that building were taking a drag. Want to feel like you’ve failed as a parent? Take your then-eleven-year-old daughter to a run-down river barge casino, sit her in between two chain-smoking, leather-skinned old ladies, and you’ll probably feel about a quarter as bad as I did that day.

Full disclosure, I hate smoking. Always have. Never touched a cigarette in my life and I never will. In fact, hate might not be a strong enough word, so let’s use loathe instead. Growing up here in the US, though, smoking was a pervasive little bitch. You couldn’t go to a restaurant as a kid in the 80s without worrying how close you might be to the smoking section. Bars and clubs in the 90s were a mine field of pretentious 20-somethings with a pack in one hand and a lighter in the other, although we always somehow managed to fight through that toxic mix of tobacco and cologne/perfume thanks to the mask of alcohol and the lure of the other sex. It wasn’t until you got a whiff of your clothes the next morning that you fully realized the price you paid.

But somewhere in the 2000s everything slowly started to change. New rules and regulations crept up in every corner of society, pushing smoking farther and farther out to the fringes. I don’t know a restaurant in town that has a smoking section anymore, and I think city ordinances have banned smoking almost everywhere else. I remember some uproar at the time, but that died away real fast. I doubt there are any organized movements to “Get Smoking Back” in our eateries and grocery stores and Montessori schools, and if there are, well…

[Quick note – visited San Antonio for the weekend and noticed some people smoking in a few restaurants, so the no smoking ordinances there might not be as tough as in Dallas, but even so I didn’t see a TON of people doing it.]

The point I’m trying to make here is that somewhere along the way, smoking receded into the background for me. There were slowly-dwindling smoking sections at work, and some people with their arm hanging out the window during rush hour, and that was about the only time I saw someone holding a cigarette. A despicable practice that had surrounded me all the way into my twenties and early thirties suddenly faded away so effectively that I didn’t even think about it anymore.

But that Europe trip (literally) blew it all back into my face. It was such a stark contrast to American life that it rattled me. And ever since then I feel even more aware of how out of place smoking seems to be here in the US. I saw a few women standing outside the main door of an office building earlier this week, finishing off their cigarettes before walking in, and I asked myself the same thing I always do these days when I see someone smoking…

Why?

At this point, it’s clear that the cons MASSIVELY outweigh the pros. You increase your chances of cancer, you destroy your lungs, you stain your teeth, you STINK.

(seriously, smokers REEK and they seem to be the last ones to realize that…)

And you spend a small fortune just to buy cigarettes these days. But it’s still happening, albeit in smaller and smaller pockets. So I guess my question at this point is “Why are you still doing it?” Why still smoke? Why even go to the trouble in this day and age? Is it the high? Or is it the desire to be a contrarian? There’s nothing wrong with either answer, I guess. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that there might be a plausible explanation for something so detrimental.

I get that habits are hard to break. I’m in my 40s now and I STILL eat cereal for desert (I can’t quit you Multi-Grain Cheerios!). And I get that some people only do it irregularly these days, like with a beer, or after a short jog. But I’m such a rational/pragmatic/structured kind of guy that it would be extremely difficult for me to do something that destructive in the face of overwhelming evidence, so I have trouble seeing how other people can do it. Now that I think about it, though, sugar is kind of in the same category. Large amounts of sugar slowly destroy our bodies over time, too, but we’re even less aware of how much we ingest of that every day. Seriously, go check the foods you eat (or drink) on a regular basis and be prepared for some serious sticker shock. In fact, I should do a second post on the crazy amounts of sugar that goes into our bodies, so maybe I’ll table this discussion for now…

I also have a secondary question, though, and that is, why is it so popular in Italy? I told my daughter while we were over there that Italians must not have gotten the memo that smoking isn’t cool anymore. Is it a lack of awareness and education? Does Italy not have a Surgeon-General, or giant billboards of diseased lungs? Once we got to Switzerland, the percentage of smokers dropped significantly. Probably about the same as what you see in the US if I had to guess, although I was only in the touristy areas. Maybe it’s a localized or cultural thing.

For some reason I have no problem imagining a pack of Russians standing around on a cold street corner, lighting up cheap cigarettes and lamenting being ruled by a guy named Putin. And I’m pretty sure I read an article not that long ago about how smoking is pretty pervasive in China. Both are large countries, with huge populations, and at least some level of technical and medical awareness, so it’s not like they don’t have access to the same information we do. Maybe those countries don’t have the same cultural bias against it that seems to have taken root here.

Maybe we were fortunate enough to have a number of really small, gung-ho, anti-smoking groups that quickly ballooned their message so loudly that city and county and state leaders just couldn’t ignore it anymore. If that’s the case, then bravo to those people. It couldn’t have been easy to root out something that a huge percentage of the population did on a regular basis. I’ve seen Mad Men, I know how bad it was.

So for you anti-smoking campaigners, I present you with a [/slowclap]. You’ve saved lives, you’ve lessened my irritation, and you’ve made the world a better place. Now go treat yourselves to an Italian vacation!

P.S. Before I go, I have to ask two more questions. First, what happened to all the former smokers? Did they quit? Do they just smoke at home? I’m genuinely curious about that.

And secondly… Am I being completely condescending to people who still smoke?

Coming Soon – Feb 2016 Edition

I had a different blog post planned for today, the first in a series of epic rants about how people are dumb and how they don’t have to be. But that post isn’t quite ready for publication just yet. So while I tweak and massage my rage-filled meltdown essay, I’m going to cheat this afternoon and put out a nice, easy Coming Soon post to tide you guys over for the week. Plenty of goodness to talk about, though, so don’t get your pitchforks in a pickle.

Audiobook news

First things first… The Descent – Rise of Cithria Book 2 is now available as an audiobook! It’s again narrated by Kevin Clay, who is an amazing voice actor, and he proves it once again on this book, handling 20+ characters with ease and grace. If you loved the first book (and I know a LOT of you did because you told me all about it) make sure to get the followup. And if you haven’t listened to the first book, go grab that one too!

Click here to get book 2 on Audible.com!

Also, don’t forget that the first book in the Tales of the Lore Valley series, The Wind Riders, is also available on audible.com, narrated by Joel Froomkin. Get started on my epic pulp fantasy series while it’s still young!

Rise of Cithria Book 5

Finishing up our newest Cithria book, The Exodus, is still an ongoing process. If I had to guess, we’re looking at a release date sometime this summer, although knowing us and our limited time these days with all these babies going ’round, I’d say that’s an optimistic guess. We’re past the halfway point, but there’s still a lot of work to do, including edits, polishing, formatting, etc. I’d be surprised if we don’t have copies at the Comic Con in September/October, though.

If you just so happen to be inclined to get yourself involved in finishing the next book, then I do have some good news for ya. We can use some help with the cover, specifically what it should be. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know we put a lot of work into those spectacular covers, and we want to make sure we make this one just as iconic as the rest. We still have a few weeks before we start working on that, however, so we might do something fun this time and round up some suggestions from readers. I’ll post something a bit more official on that later, but if you have some early ideas you want to throw out, post them in the comments below!

Also, to help tide people over from their Cithria withdrawals, Alistair and I are writing some short stories set in the Cithria universe that we hope to release sometime in the VERY NEAR FUTURE. I can’t say when, exactly, or how, as we need to figure out a lot of the publishing logistics, but I’m pretty sure at least one of the stories will get released online, on this very site, in a chapter-by-chapter basis before getting packaged up as an actual book/ebook/zine. Alistair’s story is still a work-in-progress, but mine should be done within a couple weeks, so look for that story, Nightmare, to appear sometime in March.

Dallas Comic Con/Fan Expo Dallas

We were not at the February Comic Con, a first for our little group of authors. But, as of now, our plan is to be at the show in Dallas this June. There are some complications regarding the due date of a certain baby boy, but we’ll do our best to work around that, and we’ll hope and pray that he’s born either sometime before or after that particular weekend. Assuming there aren’t any major layout changes, I’m also hoping we’ll be in the same spot as last year, which means it’ll be REALLY HARD to miss us. We’ll have a little bit of new stuff, including Tales of the Lore Valley, and some short stories, along with some artwork, so be sure to drop by and check that out. Or, just drop by and say hi. Or just leave us food and money. Whatever. We’re not picky.

Half Price Books

I’ve been taking part in some events at the Half Price Books in Frisco, near Stonebriar Mall, and with several more appearances on the docket, that particular store has become something of a home base for myself, Demethius Jackson, and Jan Sikes. We’ll continue to do some signings, readings, and workshops over the course of the year at that location, so if you’re in the area make sure to keep an eye out for times when one or all of us will be at the store. The workshops will actually be creative writing workshops, hosted by published authors, so if you’ve ever wanted to get into writing, and based on how many people I meet who tell me THAT VERY EXACT THING, then these workshops will be exactly what you need. I don’t have dates or official details on those just yet, but I’ll post them as things get finalized.

Also, we’d love to make all this work HPB is doing amount to something, so be sure to hit the store even when we aren’t there, buy some stuff, and tell them your favorite local authors sent you! Hopefully they’ll know you’re talking about me…

That’s all for now. Check back next week for more random goodness!

Comic Camaraderie Redux

Some of you may have noticed (maybe not some. Maybe a few… or just me) that we weren’t at the Sci-Fi Expo this past weekend. We made that decision a while back, due to Patrick’s baby being due right around that time. Little did we know she’d be born a month early and we probably could have made the show, but I’m kinda glad we took the weekend off. I saw my daughter dance, I caught showings of Deadpool (awesome) and Hail, Ceaser! (okay) and I had a nice Valentine’s Day dinner with my wife. We made the most of playing hookey.

I say it that way because we’ve been at every Dallas/Irving show since the beginning of 2013, so it’s weird to not be there and know other people are. Especially when this is the show that somehow makes national news (thanks Stardust!). We’ll be back for the big one in May/June in downtown Dallas, but since my own child is due around that time, it’s looking like that might be the only show we do all year. No Comicpalooza in Houston, nothing in Austin or San Antonio or Oklahoma, and probably not even the smaller ones here in town. Babies have a way of monopolizing your time, and we don’t have a ton of new releases ready, anyway. I’ll do a Coming Soon post in the next couple weeks, to highlight what we’re all working on (and by all, I mean my writing buddies from www.the4threalm.com) and what may be coming out in the near future (hint – CITHRIA SHORT STORIES!!!) but in the meantime, most of us are bunkering down and doing some child-rearing while mixing in a bit of writing here and there.

However, in honor of the Sci-Fi Expo (or Dallas Comic Con or Fan Days or whatever the hell it’s called these days) that we unfortunately missed, I wanted to repost something Patrick wrote a few years back. It’s a great little article about Comic Cons in general, and how they always engender some fantastic times, simply because we’re all there to have fun, and to let our inner geek out. I always like going back to this post after a good show, so I thought I’d throw it out there again, just in case we have a new reader somewhere.

Enjoy!

******************************

Comic Camaraderie
Patrick Underhill

Reposted from – http://the4threalm.com/2013/05/20/comic-camaraderie/

Kris Kramer, Alistair McIntyre and myself just had a very successful weekend at the Dallas Comic Con. Not successful in that we’re all now super famous and can quit our day jobs, but we all left feeling incredibly positive about the whole thing. But I don’t want to write about our personal experiences at the Con, I want to write about what really happens there.

Every time there’s one of these big comic book conventions, various late night talk shows or radio programs always try to make fun of the nerds that dress up and pretend to be the characters they love. Now, I’m not bashing that, because they’re usually pretty funny; but they miss the point of why these people do it. They don’t do it to feel like they’re a super hero, they genuinely do it to entertain other people. Most of them take great joy in it.

When you see a whole family dressed up like the Super-family (and I mean they went all-out on the costumes) and having to stop every five feet so someone else can take their picture, they’re doing that for other people. They’re trying to get to another booth to check out the vendor’s wares, but they happily indulge every stranger that comes up to them. Another little girl, that couldn’t be more than four and dressed like Supergirl, was striking her pose as soon as someone got their phone out. I’m sure they like the attention, but they also know that most everybody there actually appreciates their efforts.

There’s a sense of happy camaraderie at these things that I don’t think you can find at any other kind of convention. Political conventions are often tainted with angry extremists from either side, and seem to be brought together only to stand against the other side. Literary conventions get split into groups, and there’s always a few folks there that think their tastes are somehow more refined than yours. But comic book conventions are a different breed. Even the Star Wars and Star Trek fans get along. The steampunk cosplayers seem to have no problems at all with the zombie crowds. It’s a menagerie of classes co-existing on a level unheard of by any sociologist out there.

I mean that, you’ve got literature fans of every genre that don’t look down their nose at you if you happen to like dragons and magic over Tom Clancy. And right behind them comes someone that wouldn’t even read a free book. There goes a big buff dude in a Call of Duty t-shirt beside a scrawny kid with a pair of hobbit feet. What’s this, the Picard supporter is having a good-natured debate with a Kirk man? And a hot chick is smiling at every awkward dude there?!

It’s all about where they are. It’s the comic book convention. You’re going to see some folks that haven’t left their house in a while, and right by those is the soldier having a good time with his family before he ships out in a month. But they’re all drawn together by their love of worlds that exist apart from our own. Worlds of heroes, where the good guy always wins. Worlds where every woman is beautiful and every man backs his words with action. And everyone gets along because they walk down the aisles and can see that there’s room enough, even in a convention center packed with people, for everyone’s beliefs. And the angriest guy there is the one that wore an eyepatch because Nathan Fillion canceled due to pinkeye. And even he seemed to be having fun.

Random Thoughts – Feb 2016

Every once in a while I’m going to cheat and put out a blog post of random thoughts. Mostly just little blips or questions that pop into my head as I live my writer-liscious life. This is my way of writing a blog post without actually putting in any real effort or expending unnecessary brain power. None of this stuff is worthy of a regular post, but I’m pretty convinced that someone out there in internetland will find at least one of these things interesting.

Side note… are we done trying to come up with goofy names for the internet that make us sound both witty and crotchety? Internetland, webernet, The Internets, Triple-dub, etc. It’s like we’re stubborn old men refusing to embrace a new technology while also struggling to say a name that’s actually really easy to remember. I cringe when people I respect try to pull this off. It sounds forced, and it’s NEVER funny.

Unless they’re doing it ironically, like I was. Then it’s mildly passable as a joke.

…Consider that your first (of three) Random Thought (© copyright 2016 all right reserved).

I was in Home Depot a few weeks back looking at Home Depot-ish stuff, and had to make use of the restroom facilities. As I go to wash my hands (more on this later) I notice that one of the sinks was broken. I couldn’t help but think “I’m standing in Home Depot. They sell at least a hundred different faucets here. I was JUST looking at some of them three minutes ago. Why is this one broken????” Is there any store in the world, outside of Lowe’s that has LESS of an excuse to have anything not working? Can Randy over in plumbing fixtures not grab a new faucet and swap it out real quick? Or maybe cut down some PVC and replace the pipes? Is it a plumbing thing? The other sinks worked just fine, so I’m assuming this was just a massive PR disaster for Home Depot instead. Good thing I’m the only person who knows about this.

Another ‘side note’ (©)… Randy is a quintessential Home Depot name. It’s a thing. I can totally imagine a Home Depot employee with a questionable haircut and a name tag that says Randy. Or Midge. That’s also in play. Not so much Lowe’s, though. I can’t really explain why. I think it’s the blue color scheme. But yeah, when I think Randy, I think Home Depot. Either that or Randy Meisner from the Eagles.

(RIP Glenn Frey!)

Let’s get this out of the way right up front. I have a day job. I’m not a super-world-famous author making seven figures a year from book sales. Or even six figures a year. Or even… well, we’ll get to how much I make from writing in a future post (foreshadowing!!!) but for now, the point I’m trying to make is that during typical work/business hours, I can be found at an actual place of employment in the Dallas area. I may not enjoy it as much as I do writing, but it pays the bills and keeps all the animals in my house eating food that’s probably FAR above their station in life.

I bring this up (my job, not the animals) because I need to vent about said place of employment. Vent about what, you ask? Well, let’s just say that we’re sticking with a bathroom theme today and there are certain men at my PoE (place of employment…) who DON’T WASH THEIR HANDS AFTER USING THE BATHROOM!

That’s right, you sickos. You’re disgusting, and I know who you are. Rest assured I’m giving you dirty looks and pinching my nose as I walk behind you. And I’m avoiding every doorknob you touch. And if you ever try to shake my hand when I see you out in the halls or in a meeting room, I will be declining your gesture with a firm look of repugnant horror. I might even out you to everyone in the vicinity by sniffing my nose and asking “sink broken, bro?”

How does an adult in a professional work environment not learn to wash their hands after using the restroom? What kind of societal failure leads to that simple lack of civil courtesy? Is that the TRUE sign of the apocalypse??? People just not giving a damn about personal hygiene?

Another side note… Speaking of Apocalypse, I’m not super exicted about the upcoming X-Men movie. I liked First Class, and Days of Future Past wasn’t bad. But for whatever reason, I can’t get excited for this one. And I even REALLY LIKE the new direction these movies are going, especially after X-Men: The Last Stand ruined the original franchise and made me unexplainably angry for about four months in 2006.

Man, that’s a whole other post, too…

Anyway. I like Apocalypse as a villain. I think he’s got great potential, but I’m just not feeling it this time around. There’s a ton of comic book movies I’m excited to see this year (top of the list is Civil War!!!) but Apocalypse isn’t really one of them. We’ll see. Hopefully I’m wrong, because I’ve always kinda liked the X-Men, as evidenced by the X-Men script I wrote to ‘fix’ everything that went wrong with The Last Stand (another post).

Anyway, that’s all for my first Random Thoughts post. It wasn’t quite the ‘ insane stream-of-consciousness rambling’ I thought it might be, which is good, because that’s yet another post I’m saving for the future!

(SO. MUCH. FORESHADOWING!)

Free Books!

Not everyone may know this but I happen to have a number of free books available for download on amazon.com. Three, to be exact. If you enjoy free books, and you’d be weird if you didn’t, then DEFINITELY go to amazon RIGHT NOW and DOWNLOAD some BOOKS!!! And then maybe check out the rest of the series…

Writer’s Herpes (formerly the Blah Blah Blah Trick to Writing a Blockbuster Novel)

(Blah blah blah.)

I started this blog a few weeks back with good intentions and a promise that I would write something (almost) every week. I made that promise because it’s extremely important for people in this line of work to show some consistency and motivation and a desire to be good at this by working on it EVERY DAY. I may not blog every day, but that’s exactly how often I need to write to make sure I’m adding to my overall word count, making progress on my half-dozen or so in-progress books, and allowing myself to constantly learn and grow as a writer. It’s like any job. If you want to be good at it, you have to do it a lot.

(Blah blah blah blah blah.)

That’s why I write every day and I blog every week. Unfortunately for most authors, there are some days – and weeks – where you got nothing. Absolutely nothing. Twiddling your fingers, browsing on the internet, staring at a blank page (HEY!) nothing. And even worse, this happens A LOT. Sometimes it’s writer’s block. Sometimes it’s laziness. Sometimes it’s procrastination. Whatever you call it, it’s keeping you from being productive.

(Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.)

And even worse, when you accept this lack of writing, it turns into a disease that you just can’t shake. Like herpes. In fact, let’s call this Writer’s Herpes, just to make it sound appropriately ominous (NOTE: this is NOT the ‘sticking your quill in some dodgy ink’ kind of herpes*). One day of slacking off turns into DAYS of slacking off. You start to find any excuse you can for not writing, usually under the pretense that you don’t have the inspiration today to write fantastic prose, ignoring the fact that most writers spend 364ish days a year unable to write fantastic prose (hello, good editing!).

(Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.)

So what do you do when Writer’s Herpse threatens to strike?

Well, that’s when you use the Blah Blah Blah trick.

(Okay, enough blahs)

Step 1 – sit down in your writing area and take hold of your writing utensils.
Step 2 – write.
Step 3 – if you’re sitting in your writing area, wracking your brain for some insightful prose to ingrain into the human lexicon for all of history, and nothing’s coming…

DON’T GIVE UP!

No, you go to:
Step 4 – suck it up and write some words down on that paper/blank screen/papyrus/sheepskin. Even if those words are crap. Even if it’s a meaningless, stream-of-conscious jumble of gibberish (look for this in an upcoming post). Even if it’s just…

wait for it…

Blah blah blah.

The very act of typing, no matter what you type, sometimes starts your brain juices flowing, and gets you thinking about some aspect of the story you’re trying to write. And even better, writing down a procession of crap is INFINITELY BETTER than writing NOTHING AT ALL. It does something extremely important in the writing world. It gets you to actually WRITE!

Even though I call it the blah blah blah trick, I typically don’t write those actual words. I have done it a few times, but what I usually end up doing instead is writing some other scene or some background details, or just general notes on the characters or the location or the event happening in the book. Maybe I’ll spend some time thinking about the sequel (there’s usually one coming with my books). It’s all ‘Writing’ in one fashion or another, and even if it isn’t actively getting me closer to finishing my book, it’s at least keeping me somewhat productive during my ‘writing time’.

And it does something else that’s REALLY SUPER IMPORTANT. It keeps me from relying on the old excuses of “writer’s block” or “I’ll do it after I finish this” or “I just don’t have it today. I’ll write tomorrow, instead.” Once you start letting excuses like that take hold, they don’t let go. They spread, and itch, and probably seriously affect your love life.

Writer’s Herpes.

So don’t get herpes. Write some crap instead.

(Blah.)

*thanks to Alistair McIntyre for his always-opportune jokes about venereal diseases. Keep ’em coming, buddy!

What is Pulp Fantasy?

I’ve spent a lot of time lately working on book 6 of Tales of the Lore Valley, (along with plotting out books 7, 8, and 9 and starting up a brand new storyline… details to come) so I’ve had this idea rattling around in my head for a little while now.

I’ve always had trouble marketing the Lore Valley series. It has a distinctive style and pace, which I’ve kept for each of the first three books, and which I intend to keep for however more books I end up doing. Each book is short, falling more into the novella size, and highly episodic. I consider each set of three books to be something like a TV season, telling a ‘chapter’ within a much larger overarching story. Ostensibly, it’s about a world being invaded by a mysterious enemy, but the individual stories touch on much more than that. Air pirates, destiny and fate, friendship and loyalty, the power (and tyranny) of magic.

In the past, at shows or just talking to people, I’d call it sword and sorcery. That always seemed to fit, but I found that description lacking and unsatisfying. It didn’t quite capture the style and tone of the books, especially when they’re fast-paced, character-driven stories that usually end with plot-derived cliffhangers. They have a serial, pulpy style to them, like the old pulp fiction serials of the past. Well, that gave me an idea.

Pulp fantasy!

Now, this term is already out there in some limited usage, mostly as a description of certain types of fantasy books, a lot of them already included in the – you guessed it – sword and sorcery genre. Here’s a post from Grognardia that lays this out in detail. What I intend to do, however, is usurp that term the same way my buddy Demethius Jackson has cornered the market on self-help fantasy. Go ahead, Google “self help fantasy” and see who comes up first!

So, long story short, what you’re about to see is an author embarking on a new marketing campaign. I’m not totally sure how I’ll make this happen, but feel free to watch the magic as I fumble through this extraordinary (and tedious) adventure! I’ll start with the book descriptions and keywords, and then work my up to blog posts (like this one!) and conversations all over the web. When you ask me at a show or signing what the books are about, I’ll absolutely include the phrase in my discussion of it with you, possibly more than once. Over time you’ll get so sick of it that you’ll buy my books just to burn them in a pagan ritual condemning me to some unnamed pit of pagan hell.

That’s when I’ll know I’ve done my job.

P.S. For what it’s worth, feel free to buy as many of my books as needed for pagan rituals. If said rituals involve dancing naked in the woods, I might even do a book signing beforehand!

A New (Hope) Home

Yes, I finally have my own website. I’m still fully involved with the4threalm.com but I decided it was time to get my name out there along with the overall brand, and also sell some of my other books. Most of my posts here will feed into the4threalm.com and the Facebook page, so no worries on missing out on anything important or hilarious or just plain insightful. But I encourage readers to sign up for my regular newsletter and keep a look out for regular (hopefully weekly) posts and updates.

Setting a Goal

Writers are some of the best procrastinators I know. For some, it’s writer’s block. For others, it’s XBox. For me, it’s mostly the latter. But regardless your vice, there are definitely times when it’s hard to sit down and crank out a few thousand garbled words and turn it into something coherent and above a fourth-grade reading level.

Writers are certainly motivated enough to WANT to write, but making it happen is hard.

The key is consistency.

That’s the end goal of this blog. I’m setting a goal this year to write a thousand words (1,000!!!) a day. That’s not hard for me. I’m usually pretty good about cranking out the word count. Just take a look at the number of books I’ve published over the last few years. (Seriously, go look!) But after cranking out three books in the fall, I’ve been lazying-it-up these last couple months since then and I need to get back on track. Thanks to my wife’s obviously-working fertility organs, I’ve got about five books to get finished by this summer before a new baby short-circuits my progress, and none of these books are going to magically write themselves… I think. So I’m resuming my daily word count quota AND I’m including some word-smithing gymnastics by doing some weekly blogging. Writers need to write, so a fully formed (well, mostly) blog each week (again… mostly) will only help my writing skills.

I’ve avoided this exercise for a while. I’m not a huge fan of blogging, and I’m not good at it, either. I have trouble writing meaningful, thoughtful essays on stuff that’s happening in the world, mostly because I struggle to find a point to my ramblings. But I recognize the need for it, and I don’t mind imparting some hard-earned words of wisdom on my fans (I’m looking at BOTH of you!) and my fellow writers. So I implore anyone who reads this blog to help me stay on target. Don’t let me slack on writing or blogging and I’ll pay you back by making sure you get some quality content at some undetermined point in the future.

(Oh, and this blog counts as a meaningful post.)

Write on!