I’ve already started seeing messages, so tonight, and today I say farewell back.
Who do I want to become?
In May my sister left Calgary to go onto greener pastures. With her and a few friends leaving, I had to weigh my own future.
I concluded that I had no good reason to stay in Calgary. I don’t want to downplay how good this city has been to me, so let me elaborate.
The first time I lived in Calgary I was still living with my dad, and I watched him suffer here. Calgary was not for him, and this city can be cruel to the people that don’t belong here. It coloured my first experience here. In 2009 when I came back broken, stinging from failure and having to start all over again.
Man, what a difference a decade makes. I’m all grown up, or something. First and foremost, I refused to let my dreams die. I didn’t quit, I didn’t succumb to bitterness, I kept grinding. I got back on my feet and kept writing. As of this blog there are three books out courtesy of Mirror World Publishing and my first book published by me is due soon.
I kept interviewing people. If you go back on this blog there are some amazing interviews with people like Simon Rose, Liana Kerzner, and many other amazing people. Getting the opportunity to interview Robert J. Sawyer led to my current podcast being a thing. Just Joshing has surpassed all expectations. Accomplishment wise, two Aurora Finals and a win is impressive. I’ve been featured in OnSpec because of the podcast. I have sponsors and people that believe in me. That is a hell of an achievement.
Beyond my aspirations, there was a lot of personal reparations. I was saved when I came back to Calgary. Still to this day a profound memory, showing up at the church at minus ten weather to take a dunk in the water. Going through that changes you. God is there and continues to be amazing.
I’ve fallen in love here. A woman named Gisel was able to open my heart in ways I never imagined. She opened the door to discover things about my heart I never thought would be possible. It has served me well since, and it’s been important in my development.
I can’t forget about my teeth. The one thing Calgary taught me is that I don’t have to carry my scars with me. I confronted my demons, and became someone different. Someone I could be proud of.
Someone that needs to keep growing.
So I’m leaving. When you read this, I’ll probably be on that jet plane. Not sure when I’ll be back again. But I need to thank the city and the people in it. I can’t name you all. There are too many people that believe in me and I cannot do you all justice. But here are a few:
Adam Dreece – Thanks for everything. Meeting you was awesome. Caleigh Cassidy – We still got to do a metal show sometime. Cory McConnachie – Love you bud. Thanks for having my back. Kayseas Redsky – Love you. Great to meet you. Lance Buan – Can’t think of a collaborator I’d rather have. Randy McCharles – Thanks for helping me into the writing community. Shelniel Bostic – I love how our friendship has grown. Suzy Vadori – There might not be anyone I believe in more.
There are so many more. Thank you to anyone I missed. And I know I missed a lot of you.
But I did have one last thing to say. I’ve moved quite a few times. One thing I’ve learned is that nothing stays the same. Relationships evolve, and time will make this no different. Life goes in every direction possible. But I do know, right here, right now, that I am grateful.
What’s next? I have no idea, and I love it. Life is change. I’m embracing it.
There’s a little spoiler about Just Joshing 300 I have to say. I have two amazing conversations with Calvin Jim and Jessica Renwick live at When Words Collide. I like talking to Calvin, and I’m looking forward to a full conversation with Jessica down the road. But what makes me really excited about this, is the last ten minutes.
I’m going to say it. I believe in you.
No really, I do.
Not just because of what you do, but because of how you changed me. This podcast has been a journey, and honestly, each and every one of you has made me better. Let’s go back to the beginning shall we?
Most things that happen well within my life are things I do not plan. Rather, they kind of come from the aether after I have the vaguest of ideas what I’m doing. I finally got a smartphone. I have been doing interviews by memorizing them and writing them down before handing them to the people interviewed to make sure I misquoted them. It was fun, but it was a lot of work.
Now I’d have the opportunity to record and transcribe. A lot easier to do. My first interview at When Words Collide where I’m debuting this? Robert J. Sawyer.
We have a pretty good back and forth. But what I remember the most is after. Rob met up with someone who asked him what he was doing, and he mentioned that he was being interviewed for a podcast. In my head, something clicked.
I could do a podcast. And so the journey began.
How many people say their first interview recorded was Robert J. Sawyer?
This has been the biggest perk of the whole journey. That all said, there are some key people I want to bring up in this. Very early on in the show I’ve met some amazing people who made a huge impact on my life. Also, some of these people have become great friends.
I have to start with Vanessa Cardui. Vanessa is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. She has a very beautiful voice, but is also an incredibly sharp, sincere, tough and very giving person. I remember meeting her for the first time for the podcast. We ended up going downtoan to this little cafe on 8th and 6th in Calgary, all the while she walked and talked with me through Kensington as we sought a place. I’ve had the pleasure to be in her life off and on throughout the years, but this first conversation was a big leap of faith, and I thank Vanessa for doing so.
Suzy Vadori I met at my second when words collide. She was having a good time and getting into all kinds of mischief as we all do on the second night of the conference. Suzy is someone I treasure. I admire her drive so much. She’s a great writer, and has a great future in front of her. But for all that, she’s one of the very few people I have no doubts at all.
We have to mention a legendary individual as well. GW Renshaw is one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met. Sharp as a blade, but also just one of the kindest, gentlest men I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with. We ended up chattting one When Words Collide all night. Just a fun conversation.
But I can’t help but mention my chat with Adam Dreece. Adam is an amazing human being. This conversation is still memorable to me just because this was the genesis to a great friendship. Adam is one of the few that I can go to, and he’s done a lot of amazing things. I can’t wait until he makes the plunge with his next series. As is, I feel for me, this conversation was life changing.
The show’s quality improved with some key suggestions here and there as well. John Fleming was the one that recommended I cut back the intros to something less than two minutes. For the most part, I keep to his advice. Listen to any episode post episode 100 and you will hear it.
Also, I ditched the music as well. I think this show is best bare bones. I’ve dabbled with the idea here and there to make a jingle. But for now, I like the raw tone.
It’s amazing what a lack of budget at the beginning forced. Necessity does indeed make the mother of invention. I don’t have the money to rent a studio space, and while it’s now possible for me to reserve quieter rooms (thank you Calgary Public Library) the show’s atmosphere is different with each and every episode. The most common background is Skype as a lot of my guests are abroad, but there are a few memorable ones I’m putting below. Episode 40 involved me and Brendon doing an interview while I was being driven to Winnipeg airport. It’s probably my favorite of the early interviews and I encourage a listen.
The other is a recent chat I had with Konn Lavery. It’s amazing how lettling in little bits of chaos makes the conversation feel that much realer. In this case, you can hear us literally go from a diner to a cafe and all the steps in between, including the dead air. It feels realer this way, and maybe just maybe even when I can regularly do a studio that I won’t. This made this show genuine, and I don’t want to lose that.
I feel I can say that without the podcast, I’m not sure I would have fixed the teeth as fast as I did. I probably still did it a bit too late to be honest, but where I wanted to go with the show required me to make changes. I’m still a work in progress, but it definitely was something that I’ve improved and it’s amazing to think about where I was as a person, then.
What Success Feels Like
So yeah, throughout this journey I’ve been rewarded time and time again. It’s as though I’m meant to do this. This podcast one the 2018 Aurora for best fan related work, and is a finalist this year once again. Even if I don’t win, this has far and away grown beyond my wildest dreams.
It was appropriate that I found out about my victory at episode 198 when I was about to air this. Liz hadn’t known she was going to win, and it was an interesting chat, as Liz and I reversed roles for the purpose of this interview. I was the one that was asked questions and I was the one that answered. I couldn’t think of a better episode to air my results than this one. Both of us deserved it. Liz is great.
What I’ve learned
This has been my journey. Ultimately the guest may be why people come to listen, but the only reason the show has lasted as long as it has is me. I have now 300 episodes in the rear view and about 30 more to use going forward. But it’s all my journey. It’s about where I have been and where I’m going.
I started as a guy willing to do anything to get interviews. In order to do that I had to learn to open myself to the world. Everyone is different, and unique, and that meant that in order to get the people I want to, I have to get people to come aboard. I needed to open up, even if I disagreed. I welcomed everybody and everything. I have interviewed not just writers, but comedieans, comic book creative teams, musicians, politicians, rock bands, and more.
Thank you all. But I want you to know that I believe in you. Not becauseo f just who you are, but who you made me. Someone more open, someone willing to learn, and work with others to succeed.
I’ve learned not just to be motivated but inspired. I’m always looking forward to listening to the next story, because it changes mine. I’ve learned so much, and I couldn’t thank you enough for being there for me.
You’re awesome. I’m looking forward to where your story goes from here. I want you to know, I am rooting for you. I am your fan. I see how amazing you are. Thanks for making me a better person. Here’s to 300 more.
If you listen to my podcast with any regularity, you will find that my interviews are often conversations more so than question and answer type deals. There are reasons for that. I thought today because I don’t do craft too much on my blog, that I’d give an insight with how I approach interviews and what exactly I’m seeking when I do a podcast.
I started doing interviews at a site called comicbloc back in 2003. I had seen some of my favorite writers in comics such as Dirk Manning and others break into the industry and thought it would be a good path to start with. I figured that big name artists and creators would not be interested in chatting with me, so I made an emphasis on focusing my time with independent creators and publishers. Years later, I realize that my path hasn’t diverged as much as I thought it would, but I digress.
When you start doing interviews, questions and answers are a great start the ice breaking process. Questions to me are like small talk. It’s a way to find commonality with the interviewee. Generally I don’t know people very well the first time I meet them and have to figure out the ways to chip at the exteriors people have.
On a written platform, these kinds of interviews have a ton of merit. For one thing interviews are snapshots of the person you are engaging with. People want a sense of who the person or their project is on the other side of the process.
From a purposes of media, the big advantage is time. There are what, maybe two thousand words max you can do on a page like this? How many minutes does someone have reading an article from a mobile phone while they are on the train to work? Questions and answers really condense a topic into a very manageable kind of bite. Even on a podcast, if an interview is only about fifteen minutes, this works quite well. Questions and answers are great small talk, and in that kind of time, small talk works.
If this is the kind of interview you do, there are challenges with those limitations.
If you are going to do an interview like this, you need to figure out the story you want to tell. Interviews are storytelling as well, and you need to pick your angle. For one thing, how many questions do authors get about their appearance or genre or about a famous story they did. One of the biggest compliments I have received from my guests on my podcasts is that this isn’t a standard interview. I don’t ask the same questions anyone else does. I have a specific focus when I engage with the people I’m talking to. So my questions have to deal with that focus.
This lesson didn’t come quickly to me. I remember especially with my first few interviews that my questions were very generic. And that’s fine for a beginning. At some point though, you do need to ask yourself what you want to know about the person you are dealing with. Having that kind of planned out makes the questions that come to you easier.
Coming at someone with that kind of agenda may seem disingenuous, but the truth is very often you go in blind. It’s easier to engage with a subject if they have an idea of what they are talking about. Gradually I became more comfortable with the questions I was asking. This process took a few years.
I did it this way for years, even when I started doing interviews on my blog. Until I met Simon Rose.
Simon is an amazing children’s writer and publishes some outstanding books for that genre. I remember coming into the interview with about a page or so of questions. I threw those out of the window immediately after we started chatting. Simon was such an engaging individual on his own, that I realized that the questions I would ask him would get in the way. So I didn’t. I just did a back and forth conversation with him, which turned out quite well.
After interviewing Simon, I threw away the concept of questions. Don’t get me wrong, I still use them from time to time. Like I said, questions are like small talk. They are great to break the tension and get to know someone enough to engage in a conversation. But once you are through the ice, you need to have substance in the conversation. I am a big fan of Rolling Stone interviews with people. There is a real sense of a conversation being told in the magazine and I dig that. It feels realer, is more engaging, and it’s a better soundbyte.
I said above that questions and answers for about 15 minutes is engaging. If you’re good at them, you can do a half hour. After that though, I start to disengage. Maybe it’s because my attention span isn’t what it used to be, but I think it has more to do with the fact that questions and answers don’t sound real after a while. No one tlaks that way in real life. We engage in more of a back and forth and we improvise as we interact. That’s the real experience in enjoying someone’s company, and that’s the experience I try to accomplish on my podcast.
Most of the time it works. I have scared a number of guests when I say not to worry about questions beforehand. I don’t worry about what we are talking about. I have a couple of icebreakers but by and large, I really don’t have a gameplan, with a few exceptions.
The big advantage to my approach is that it feels organic. It’s more like how people talk, and it comes across much more genuine. Questions with this approach are used to continute the momentum of the conversation, but not drive it. This kind of interview really lets people see who the person is.
This approach does have a couple of flaws. The first one you can overcome, the second…not so much. The first one is that if you don’t have a goal with the conversation the chat will go everywhere. My goal with my podcast is to showcase who the person is. That is far more important to me than anything else going on. Because that is the goal, the interviews work. I’m not interested in making someone look bad, and it gives the person the freedom to talk about whatever they want to. If the goal is specific, the road to getting there doesn’t matter.
What does matter however, is if the person is comfortable enough to engage you on this level. Some people aren’t. And no matter how you try to find openings, they will only go so far. You have to accept that.
If I know I’m dealing with a guest like this, I develop a set course we start with. I find that some people are very guarded (rightfully so in some cases), but are open to back and forth on certain topics. Those interviews do require a little more care, and is maybe the middle of the road with the style I enjoy than question and answers.
Finally, I’ve learned to improvise. Every person you are talking to is different. Some people can laugh, some are intense. What everyone has in common is that everyone has a story. Your job as the person doing the interview is to find it. You ask questions, you engage, you talk. Their response tells you everything you need to to get a story.
It’s why I love my podcast. Every week there’s another story being told.
So did you enjoy the Sparkle Sparkle? I hope so. I’m really proud of the shirt and I’m really thankful for how it all turned out. Kayla Lynn did a fantastic job and once again, you should check her out at @abstractazure . She’s bad ass.
But we’re not going to talk about T-Shirts today. (After inserting the random Redbubble link here for your viewing pleasure. Go on. This will still be here.) I want to talk about why I made it and where it’s going to go from here.
About three years ago I attended my first IFWA meeting. IFWA stands for the Imaginative Fiction Writer’s Association in Calgary, where every month on the first thursday of the month they meet up and do business and have authors read works and be critiqued. It was an interesting process, and being eager and crazy I volunteered to have my story read for the following month.
Only I hadn’t written a story yet. I really had to rush to get something in. In my desperation, an idea formed in my mind about a man named Johnny and his daemon named Stevie Y. As the story developed this world came to me in regards to the cloud today. Today lots of people store information on the cloud. What would it be tomorrow? A conversation with Ron Friedman on my podcast gave me the thought that the digital cloud today would become the archeology of the world tomorrow. We live in a unique time where everything is seen and recorded from start to end. Whole lives could be watched and recorded by future generations to come.
I love that idea, but I also wanted to add some love to video games. I love classic video games. Final Fantasy VII, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, and double dragon was the entertainment I grew up on. So what if I could take this archeology concept and present the book in a way that felt like a video game? The Matrix meets Indiana Jones or some such. Ideas trickled in my head and I wrote a very rough draft to be read the following month.
To my surprise, people liked it. I had the crowd laughing at one scene in particular involving a count to five and a gun to the head. It made me think that I was on to something.
So I kept going. I had a simple, crazy, kooky story that flew out of my head. wrote it. I had a lot of input from people ranging from my sister to Sarah Johnston and others that gave little suggestions to carve the story the way it needed to go. This story was incredibly fun to write as well, as the first draft was cobbled together in six weeks. The next draft took longer, and the following draft took longer. After that, I thought it would be ready and presented the story to who was then a friend. She encouraged me and initially edited the process. I owe a tremendous debt to that individual. Hopefully someday I will get that opportunity to repay it.
It was then that the real work started to happen. I found an amazing editor in Ellen Michelle and an amazing cover designer in Lance Buan. Ellen won me over with her passion. Ellen is an incredible professional and is a very top notch editor. She is someone whom I would work with again anytime, anyplace. She made me better. I know she made me better when she took one of my favorite scenes in the book and not only made it better, but solved a problem in a future book at the same time.
I also finally got the chance to work with Lance Buan. Lance is one of the most talented individuals I’ve ever had the chance to work with. He is just an incredible, as you will see at the bottom here. I was very lucky to get the chance to work with someone this gifted. I am blown away by the cover and can’t wait to show you more, as he designed the interior as well.
Lastly, I want to give a special thank you to Adam Dreece. Adam has been a mentor and friend and he’s been gracious with both his time and latitude. He was the original model for the villain in the story. Obviously the Adam in the Cloud Diver is much different than Adam Dreece the man, but if it wasn’t for Adam tweeting about Mr. Biggleworth, I never would have come up with the kind of villain Johnny needed in Book one. So Adam, thanks for your kindness.
It’s nearly ready to come out.
Here’s the cover.
Look for the Cloud Diver to be available on all digital platforms everywhere in October. I can’t wait for all to see this. I’m really proud of this.
This book is about me. I have no problems being regarded as a podcaster. But I wanted to prove that I could put together an amazing book for everyone to enjoy. I feel like I accomplished that here.
So I promised I wouldn’t kill the unicorn. I wanted to. I really did. I had a very fun, and relatively painless way to kill it, but then I got pleading eyes and I froze. Dang it.
Flashback for a sec. Why did I put a unicorn in a novel? My sister requested it. I had written the first few chapters of a novel for an IFWA meeting. I did it ass backward. I came up with the idea of the story before writing it. Getting it approved before it was done. But it was a good idea.
I look at the Cloud – digital cloud to be specific (hyphens are not dead here ladies and gentlemen!) as a new possible way to explore history. We always look at our history as bits and pieces and add our stories to the story. Maybe Tutankhamen was a dick. I have no idea. But based on the bits and pieces you could make Tutankhamen a monster. Then again, with the same puzzle pieces it’s possible that you could make the kid pharaoh a hero. History is fluid.
Our history is going to be a bit different. We’re recorded now day in and day out. Our history, our stories, are live and moving forward. Instead of pieces, we’ll have a whole tapestry. Our choices will be on live display for all to see and judge. What kind of people will we be remembered as? That was half of the equation of the Cloud Diver.
The other half is that I love video games. Games like Final Fantasy VII and XIII, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and Ocarina of TIme, and Personas 3 and 5. There are other games I reference here too, but those are the fundamental stories I loved playing through. I loved the worlds created and the experiences they left in my mind. I wondered if I could make a novel that had those elements together.
Think the Matrix meeting Indiana Jones.
I had this cowardly main character in my head and I had started a pretty funny story. And then, my sister came to me one day and asked me. “Could you put a unicorn in the novel?”
I thought about it for five seconds and grinned. Absolutely. In fact, I could add things that made the unicorn seem normal. This door opened, I nodded, already plotting the unicorn’s impending demise.
“You can’t kill it!” My sister declared, seeing through my plan.
I was aghast and tried to explain my motivations were not just for purely evil purposes, but my sister pouted and pleaded that I couldn’t. And she has that look that disarmed me. Fine, I finally conceded. I wouldn’t kill the unicorn.
I mentioned the unicorn to Virginia Stark, and she started sending me signatures with unicorns farting rainbows, and then the door fully opened. I had a unicorn that literally talked out of its ass in rainbows and wingdings.
I thought it was fun, but I had no idea how much of an impact it would have, when I saw how depressed people were of Trump’s election. Deciding to change the mood, I asked Facebook to name my unicorn that farts rainbows.
You know this is something special when the thread is dozens of comments long. When writers come to you in person with lists. There was something to this phenomenon. When the unicorn was named Roy G. Biv (Thank you Destiny Caverley and Robert J. Sawyer) I had something.
I wrote a very good novel. But with unicorns in my head it was only a matter of time before this imagination of mine spilled into reality. I had finished watching a great youtube series called Lady Bits, when Liana Kerzner played a character named Princess Sparklemuffin. The drunken stupor Princess Sparklemuffin found herself into at the end of the skit made me reconsider how I approached Christmas at the day job.
Christmas at the day job tends to be stressful. Long, hard physical hours of being in a perpetual meat grinder until the day before Christmas. You just tend to snap at points throughout the grind. So much pressure to get so much done. I realized that this place tended to operate like a drunken hot mess. I looked at the stress and said two magic words.
It’s amazing what happens when you face an obstacle with something this defiant. It’s not in your face defiant, but it’s far more subtle. It’s the refusal to surrender my joy to my stress. I refused last christmas to be stressed out, taking impending struggles with those two words. It’s surprising how much you can shrug off with that little sparkle of joy inside you.
In light of the impending release of the Cloud Diver, I wanted to make a T-Shirt to commemorate this journey. Not killing the unicorn had opened me to a possible way of coping with my stress in a healthy way I never would have considered before. And maybe, just maybe it’ll help you.
I contacted the amazing Kayla Lynn who captured the spirit of my novel with something really fun. Kayla is a creative Graphic Designer with a gift for t-shirts. Look her up at @abtract_azure.
The shirt is available Monday. In the meantime, here’s a preview of Roy G. Biv and maybe a taste of things to come.
There’s so much still to do. I still got the first bit of content to upload. I got my first bonus podcast and I got my first blog all that needs to be up there. Are my tiers right? Did I put something up there that I couldn’t deliver? What if no one cares? What if everyone sees me fuck up?
I’m terrified right now. My heart is beating. I can hear the world a little louder right now. I can see colours a little more vividly. I notice the dirt on my computer (need to dust it) and I’m just kind of heeby jeebying and jittery around wondering just what I forgot.
Probably a lot. It doesn’t matter though. I’m hyped. I’m pumped. And my adrenaline is on a ten.
I wrote the previous stuff above about a week ago. I’m nervous and excited for this new chapter in my life to begin. It’s started and it’s been…quiet.
It takes audacity to think you’re worth money. The challenge is making people believe it. It’s one thing to ask for help. When I did my GoFundMe weeks and months ago, I got a lot of help, a lot of shares, and a lot of support. But this is a little different.
People have to invest and dive in. And to do that, I have to put content there all the time. This is now an investment of my time and my worth. I have to believe in it.
But I also need a plan.
So from this moment onward that taking this step is a new frontier. I have to plan and build accordingly.
Keep building sponsors
Keep sharing the podcast
Keep doing shows
Step One: Keep Building My Sponsors
Words and Pictures has been great so far. On the podcast I had just given away my first graphic novel over the air. You can listen to the podcast here and see who won. But I want more sponsors and am contacting more people for the release. I’ve had some interests but we’ll see about more stuff in the future.
Step Two: Keep Sharing the Podcast
I’ve had some interesting places to advertise the podcast and the patreon in the next couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing people’s faces when they read some stuff in the next few weeks. I’m hoping it draws eyes on attention.
Step Three: Keep Releasing New Podcasts
Pretty self explanatory I think. I keep releasing two episodes a week. I’m nearly at two hundred and forty episodes right now and very close to the benchmark of episode 250.
Step Four: Release Books
Alice Zero is being worked on GIMP as we speak. I’m really hoping to be able to say something in the next week or so.
That’s a simple four point plan and I’m hoping it works. It’s something I want to get the job done right on. It’s going to be a challenge, it’s going to be a mountain to climb, and a challenge I think. But once it starts, it will hopefully keep going.
So I’m going to talk about my Patreon on Thursday, but today I’m talking about gratitude. I have learned in my life the importance of thank you. A long time ago I realized that I couldn’t do everything in this life on my own. I remember when I was working in Arizona and getting up early to look for a car to hitchhike into the next town. I remember one time walking by Trappers, one of my favorite restaurants at the time. One of the owners said hi to me, and asked how I was doing. I said good, and then was invited inside to eat. I told her that I couldn’t afford it – I couldn’t. I just had started this job, and I had been unemployed for about six weeks. She insisted.
I didn’t realize just how much people had helped me there until that moment. I still for a long time looked at my time there through a dark lens. Even now, there are still undeniably some dark spots there. But I can look back and see all the people who were there. I learned then that I couldn’t do this on my own.
No one can.
People step into your life and help you, and you need to be aware of this. I can think of my GoFundMe page. A friend of mine suggested I do this for my teeth, and I did. The results were unexpected, on many fronts. For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to focus on the good. I had a lot of people share my posts, and help. I am grateful for all that experience.
And it’s experience I want to dwell on here. Gratitude isn’t just saying thank you, it is a way of experience. When you go through hard times in your life, reacting to pain is a normal course of action. It’s easy to be angry when things go awry. Again, totally the standard course of operation.
But flip that. Take a bad moment in your life. Take where that leads you. Didn’t get that job you wanted? Maybe it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Maybe something better will come along.
Thank you doesn’t just show your appreciation. Thank you can protect you, can change you and heal you. This Thursday I”m going to be doing the safety meeting of my day job. I’m saying thank you in front of the audience. Some of those people don’t like me. Some have never spoken to me. But if it wasn’t for all of them, the ones that helped, the ones that don’t, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in. That alone deserves a thank you.
I may be overly thankful, but I rather that than not be thankful at all. Being thankful has helped me deal with things that have happened for me.
Thank you is powerful. Thank you gives you the ability to rewire your brain in a way that you can look at a hurt and learn from it and heal. Use it to change your perspective.
Finally, I just want to take a moment and thank God. My life has been a magical experience so far, and I know it’s only starting. Thank you God for making this journey possible.
First thing’s first, my latest column at First Comics News is live. In it, I talk about a comic series I really enjoyed last year called Portalbound. You can read about it here. Once you’re done, come back. I’ll be waiting.
Since I’ve been doing my part time schedule, I’ve been doing nothing but work towards my goals. This week in particular felt like culmination of a few different things.
My Patreon page is ready to go. I handed in my novel to an editor. I’ve written a short story, I started writing a limited comic book series. My collaborator right now is busting my butt (in a great way) to make the ideas the best they can be. I got another graphic novel nearly done, and my first book is just about ready to be released.
Those are things I’m publishing myself. As far as being published by others, so far, I have one thing that will be published in a magazine. I have a novel I can’t wait to get back to next month that I feel might be worth going for a big five deal, but I also got a short story I want to submit somewhere. All in all, things are moving.
As for the podcast itself, the YouTube library has improved. There are currently one hundred thirteen episodes you can listen to right now. More are to come.
I’ve done more interviews with more diverse people than writers. The show is evolving into more of an arts show than just a literary one. Not that the literary episodes are going away. I feel this is a natural evolution of the show. Art, inspirational stuff, health and well being are all things I’m into, and you’ll see more stuff over the course of the coming weeks and months. Writing is still going to be a thing, but it’s not going to be the only thing the podcast is going forward on.
Speaking of the podcast – and this whole journey in general – when I made this decision back in October last year, one of the challenges I had to face was how was i going to increase my podcast audience. The numbers are definitely up compared to where I was a year ago at that point in time, but I wanted more. Fortunately, as I was thinking about this I had the opportunity to interview the Octavia Book Bindery company (Thanks to Chris Carolan for the recommendation) the conversation I had with Robert Angus after our podcast made me consider a lot of things, sponsorship being one of the key things.
Sponsorship is the topic here. Once that conversation happened, I began the pursuit of sponsors. I found a local sponsor that I thought would fit what i’m doing right now.
Words and Pictures is a comic shop located in Calgary Alberta. Their address is #6 – 2610 Center Street N.E. and their facebook page is located right here. They specialize in two areas in the medium. The first of these is back issues. Words and Pictures has an incredible selection of silver age comic back issues ranging from classic issues of Showcase, the Flash, Green Lantern, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World runs to more modern books like Fatale, Thief of Thieves, Walking Dead and more.
The second thing Words and Pictures specializes in is Graphic Novels. Words in Pictures has one of the most diverse and incredible graphic novel selections in the city, and one of the better ones I’ve seen in comic shops I’ve been to. Starting in March, by listening to the podcast, you’ll have the opportunity to acquire amazing graphic novels. Stay tuned.
Now I know this sounds like a commercial (guilty as charged) but at the same token, this is a start, and other sponsors will be joining Words and Pictures soon enough. I’m really excited about this partnership and others, and where the podcast might grow.
I have a sponsor. Cool right?
I got a lot more I want to talk about and a lot more I want to accomplish. But I’m really proud of the start so far this year. I’m nervous, I’m scared, and I feel jubilation. The best is yet to come.
I know, I know. Not the entry I was expecting to write tonight. I was hoping to write about Alice Zero here. (Counting to Zero is still going to happen at some point.) And I thought that I was going to have at least that short story out the door by now.
Nope. Not at all.
So let’s preface this particular blog with the four rules. I had four rules that I pretty much subscribe to. Show up, do your shit, don’t quit and the rest is rain. Four very simple, compact rules. Then I won the Aurora last year and discovered a fifth rule. The fifth rule is the title of this blog.
But before we talk about that, let’s be a white rabbit for a second, late on all the stuff he promised.
Nor did I expect to be writing something until my blog is done. With my novel about to go off to an editor, and I’m a million things behind schedule and so far this year hasn’t gone to plan at all.
But it’s not like I haven’t sat back and done nothing. Well, the first week I did nothing. I worked a lot of hours at the day job during Christmas. I thought it was an okay idea to rest. I still feel I got a long way to go on that one, but I did some relaxing. I’ve already got more reading done than I accomplished last year, and I got some stuff published already.
Week two I started to get podcast interviews and more sponsors. I can say I got some cool sponsors coming my way. Stay tuned. Also, I started doing interviews. Doing a podcast in itself it’s about chasing people. I’ve had some cool yeses come my way so far this year and following up has been fun. And the conversations I’ve already had have been incredible.
Still, it doesn’t change that I’m a little behind. I still have a patreon to plan and a book to finish coding and so on and so forth and I just needed to pause and breathe for a moment. I mean sure, I’m a little behind. But doesn’t everything take longer than you expect it to? I feel like I’m not wasting any real time. I’m not wasting time writing about it, I’m not wasting time working on my short stories.
So, upon thinking about what I’ve already done in the first month of the year, I can’t say I’m fully happy with myself. That said, I don’t think I failed. As long as I keep moving forward, I think I’m going back to the right way.
It’s why I haven’t mentioned a final date for the release of Alice Zero or the Cloud Diver. I want them done.
Still, I feel the time tick tick ticking away. It’s important that I keep going. It’s important that I keep working on the things I’m working on. I’m really proud of the tiny book Mackenzie and I created. I’m really stoked with what Lance is doing with the Cloud Diver. It’s sexy. It really is. I’m looking forward to a week of experimentation with ebooks.
But when will it be done? I hope by tomorrow, but it may be another week. Or another. It will not be by the end of February. That will mean I’m too far behind. But I’m doing this, day by day. I’m on the road to freedom.
The fifth rule applies here. I can succeed at this, and will succeed at this, as long as I show up and believe I can do this stuff. I will let whatever momentum come my way, come my way. I won’t try to stop it, I won’t feel like I don’t deserve it. I won’t worry about the hows when these doors open to me, I will worry instead of just walking through them.
That’s it. Get out of your own way when good things happen to you. Just enjoy the moment. Don’t worry about fair, unfair, or deserve or undeserve or any other kind of excuse you run into when you do this. Just go for it. The opportunity is in front of you. Take it.
So now, I’m back to work. Talk either about Alice Zero or my Patreon next week. Until then, stay inspired.
Before I begin with the topic I’m blogging about today, I thought I’d post some of the chaos and mayhem I’ve been a part of since 2019 began. First off, my column at First Comics is back up and running. You can click here to read the latest buzz. Not only that, but my friend the Great Colleen Anderson had me do a guest blog on how my career has pretty much gone, and how I started a podcast and what I learned from it. Read it here, if you’d like to learn about happy accidents.
I’ve talked about self worth in the past. I’m not covering what I have before. Instead, I’m going to look at it from the point of view of products. In short, what you offer.
I don’t focus on that enough. Part of the reason is that my podcast tends to focus a lot about my guests and who they are. Having a clear sense of who you are is important. If you don’t know who you are, you don’t really have an idea of what you can offer. That’s not quite the same thing as talking about what you really do offer, and that is what I want to tackle here.
I’ve had a lot of different opportunities come my way since I won the Aurora. I’ve got a lot of cool guests I otherwise wouldn’t have as a result, that noteriety has allowed me to hit one of my bucket lists goals as an author and get into a science fiction magazine. I got three books out, and my fourth and fifth are going to launch soon, including my first novel.
What is that worth?
I actually had to put a number to that recently. I had an unexpected request for something that made me think about it in detail. What do I offer? How much do I believe that is worth? What will I really get for it? If there is a topic that screams imposter syndrome, it would be this one. Writers and artists in general dismiss their own work (me included) because it’s something on some levels we take for granted.
We know on some level it’s good. We may not have a way to quantify that good thing, but we know we’ve created something from nothing with a book, or added signal to the noise with a new podcast. That time you’ve spent working on it has got to count for something right?
I had to believe that when I started the podcast. I have to believe that when I write something. I have to believe in me.
There is nothing like a pay check for something you create. Nothing. Your work, your effort being rewarded in a quantifiable way that can put food on the table or pay a bill or your rent (or much. much more). There is nothing like it. If you’re even half serious about this, this is why you do this. Because on some level, you want to be appreciated for it, and you want to see yourself rewarded. It takes a certain kind of audacity to want that and make it happen.
And you know what? You need that kind of ego. A little megalomania is a necessity when you are going to sell your product, and to a lesser extent, yourself. It’s healthy. You need that self worth and value and you need to project that to your clients and readers that you can do the job required.
That does take a little chutzpah. But I don’t care who you are in any field. You have to believe in yourself to do the task in front of you. That confidence translates, even if you have no real idea what you are doing.
Could you imagine what a working union could do if their workers believed they were worth every penny and more that a company would pay for? That faith would move mountains, and probably inspire places for more profit.
As I get farther along with another book coming out (more on that next blog) I become more and more comfortable with who I am and what I do offer to publishers and more. As a writer and a podcaster, I know what I can do. I know what that’s worth. And I won’t budge.
That also takes some stones. A friend that I had coffee with a while ago was appalled at the idea of people asking them to do work they make a living with for free or for exposure. They refuse. I came out of that coffee with even more respect for this person than when I walked in. They model for a living, and for all their beauty, know their worth. You can see it in how they carry themselves. That refusal to sell themselves short adds something to them.
But this will happen all the time. People will ask you to do things and offer exposure as a payment. Very rarely is it worth it. I was looking to get on a podcast not too long ago to keep growing my brand, but they insisted that I sponsor the podcast in order to do this. Now this may work for them on some level, I have no idea, but the reality is I don’t feel I should be paying for a commercial.
Is there any situation where exposure pays? Some for sure, but the reality is that if they have the kind of platform that people are looking at, you can bet that they can pay for it.
You cannot sell yourself short with anybody or anything. You can’t seem uncompromising either, so to steal from an old friend, you need to figure out where your resentment meter is. The resentment meter works like this. Ask yourself a question when you hear an offer. Would you resent doing the job for the amount being done? If the answer is yes, then you shouldn’t do the job, you’ll resent it.
Simple right? So you calculate the proper amount in your head where you won’t resent any of the headaches and possible problems you can foresee. If that amount is reached, you can put your resentment aside. Always start higher than what you’d do the work for. That way if you get it, great, but if not, you can negotiate. But never ever deviate from whatever that baseline is. Ever.
Selling yourself short is probably the greatest sin artists do. Artists are not as respected as a lot of other talents. Every bit of value you get for yourself you have to fight for. You are worth whatever you set in your mind. So always aim high and to go higher.
Remember what you offer. If they really care, they will meet what you are worth.
That’ll do it.
Here’s a podcast to listen to. I’ll be back in a week to count to zero.