Monday, June 29, 2015

Taking a stance Value 1: Equality

Humans are not the same… and that’s a good thing.

In our heterogeneous existence, some of us are taller, shorter, skinnier, darker, more robust, fluffy, and hundreds of beautiful differences that help make us wonderfully different. But as humans go, there’s something that should be completely and unwaveringly homogeneous: our rights to equal treatment.

It’s 2015 and although I can accept that cars don’t fly, it’s a bit disconcerting to see that equality is an issue that we are still tackling.

Equality means for us to live and respect each other and coexist on common ground. Although we may have different skills and abilities, no one should be entitled to anything more than another person.

That laws actually exist to promote inequality is simply not good enough for these times.

We’re better than that.

The hand of justice must be level and fair.

Women deserve equal treatment and equal pay. I said equal, not preferential.

That’s an important thing to highlight. A lot of people insist feminists are working towards an inverted misogyny and I’m actually certain that some people would want that.

I don’t.

Many people don’t.

It’s about fairness and to balance out the scales while eliminating favoritism. That’s why I sometimes debate if I should say I’m equalitarian or something like that since to me I believe the topic of equality transcends gender and race, religion and orientation, caste and age.

Equality also applies to friends of ours who have a gay orientation. To me it’s insane that we allow laws to exist that allow companies to fire someone for their gender. Hell, even the military has at least taken baby steps to somewhat evolve in their handling of the topic at least accepting that the don’t ask don’t tell policy needed revamping and still does, by the way.

Gay, transgender or bisexual people deserve the same rights as anyone because in the end, they’re human; we are all human. I’m not saying you have to agree with them or their outlook on life. I’m saying that as humans, they don’t deserve an asterisk in their existence or conditional treatment.

The same with “minorities”. I put the word in quotes because to me it’s become a misnomer. Black people, Asians, Hispanics and other ethnicities make up a massive part of the US population and the world population in general. Treating anyone differently because of race is just silly. I’d say it’s childish except children don’t discriminate until they are taught to do so. There’s no logical reason to tolerate inequality or promote it either.

The field should be level. Rights should be equal. Our differences should be embraced and celebrated rather than feared or ostracized.

People deserve to have their rights as people and not have them encroached upon because we’re not mature enough to practice tolerance.

It’s 2015.

We’ve landed on the moon.

We’re exploring outer space.

We have found cures to countless diseases.

We’ve made computers we can carry in our pockets that allow us to connect to the world at large.

I think that tolerance and defending equal rights is not too much to ask for. 

I guess what I'm saying is, keep the flying cars... we don't need them a fraction as much as we do harmony. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking a stance: an introduction

Values shouldn’t be something that change easily. They should be solid, based on information and your most honest thoughts. In the quest to please everyone, sometimes people forget what they believe in.

People can say a couple of things about me but anyone who knows me, knows my values have been the same for decades and I’m not of a mind to change values on a whim or to please someone, anyone.

I think we deserve to treat ourselves better than that, which is why I’ll be writing ten posts about 10 values I promote with my work AND my actions.

Opinions are welcome, even discerning ones because I love heterogeneity and because I believe that just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Method to Madness: Be a tease

Some books are nice, others are highly enjoyable and others you simply can’t let go of. That last type of book causes you to stay up late and lie to yourself constantly each time you tell yourself you will only read one more page.

When a book is good, there’s no such thing as just one more page. You don’t just want to read more, you need to.

Ok, so what’s the trick?

Be a tease.

Be a terrible tease.

Leave people needing to learn what will happen next.

And one of the best places to tease is at the very end of a chapter.

The beginning of a chapter is also vital, mind you. It’s what gets readers interested, but that last sentence in a chapter? THAT’S where you get someone hooked.

That’s where people fall in love with you and hate you at the same time. When I finish a chapter, I go all out with that last sentence and it’s for two reasons: to have readers want to read more and getting me to NEED to write more.

Think of that person you liked and you couldn’t wait to see again. Think of advertising and how effective it is at making you want more.


Hold out.

Give just enough.

And when you’re certain you have their attention…

Tease some more. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Demons for dinner

Although many of us have the intention of being good people, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a darker side to us. In most societies we are taught to omit, bury or drown our demons.

“If it’s bad, it must be rectified.”

It’s a common sentiment although for me, one that is risky. If we continuously bury our feelings and thoughts, eventually the reservoir may reach its limit or to put it another way: there’s only so much you can sweep under the rug.

I’m not saying to embrace your inner super villain, by the way. I’m just saying it might be beneficial to take a good look at your demons so you can understand them.

My experience is that the more I understand these demons, the more in control I can be. By better comprehending that darker side, I can grow from it and consciously choose how to act.

Morality as defined in plenty of religious contexts is often driven by fear or in the search of a reward. If you sin, you will be punished, so be good… or else.

When you take the time to understand these flaws, those sources of anger, frustration, fear and other negative emotions, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to freely choose your actions. You cease to act based on fear and you aren’t a slave to those demons.

By understanding your darkness, you can shine brighter. So by all means, invite those demons over. Chat with them. Don’t judge. Talk. Understand.

The more you do, the brighter you will shine. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Writing helped me quit smoking

There’s a big reason why some of my characters smoke cigarettes: so I don’t.

From age 16 til I was 26 I smoked cigarettes. It never was due to addiction, meaning I was never a pack a day smoker. I just enjoyed smoking… for however dumb and retarded a habit it was for me.

It took 3 attempts for me to finally be able to quit. The last time I actually did quit (the others were failed attempts), I had 3 solid motivations to stop:

  1.        I was getting colds that lasted 3 months or more.
  2.        I almost drowned while surfing when I got caught by a set inside.
  3.        My wife was highly allergic to smoke.

If you’re wondering, no one asked me to quit. It wasn’t imposed and I just saw clearly when it was time to stop. Mind you, I made this decision at a point in my life when I could get free cigarettes by the carton because I worked on the advertising account of one of the major tobacco companies.

I should also clarify: I never smoked because of peer pressure or to please anyone. If that had been the case, I would have tried plenty of other drugs, which I never did because I was never interested. Trust me, on more than one occasion I had to firmly say thank you but NO thank you.

I smoked out of curiosity and eventually I grew to really enjoy cigarettes and still fondly remember sharing a cigarette or three over good conversation.

Luckily, I realized it wasn’t worth it and I quit.

I’ve been asked more than once about why a character in my book smokes so much.

Liam Dalrey is a vampire who is ashen colored, is several hundred years old and smokes incessantly.

The reason for this is far from noble: he smokes so I don’t.

You see, to cope with any desire to smoke, he takes one for team Estrada, which is why he’s so special in my life. Thanks to him, I don’t need to smoke. Plus, he smokes also because he’s a vampire. Unlike humans, he won’t get throat, mouth or lung cancer. He won’t get yellow fingers nails or month long colds. Between that and being captured in my stories, he can live forever…. And at the same time, he helps me live a little longer and a little healthier as well, which isn't half bad for a writer who has a lot on his mind.

Here's to living healthy with whatever help we need.

Peace, love, and maki rolls. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nepal is still happening

The death toll in Nepal after the earthquakes was staggering. Thousands of people have been found dead and many more may pass way due to the conditions and the challenges present at the top of the world. I am reminded of Chile, of Japan, of Indonesia and China, of India, of Haiti and even Katrina.

In their hour of need, we are facing social issues in various countries over several areas of interest. There are conflicts in Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Venezuela, Sudan, Syria and beyond. There has been civil unrest in Maryland and plenty of other places. I’m not saying that Nepal deserves preferential treatment, but I am saying that maybe we can help ourselves by helping each other and reaching out to those in need.

Kathmandu is a grim reminder of how vulnerable and defenseless we are when nature decides to highlight how much of an advantage she has. Those other places I mentioned are a reminder of how delicate peace can be as well.

On one side of the world, we are fighting against each other while halfway across the world, people are fighting to survive. In the entire world, we’re being offered an opportunity to give our best and to pull together. So maybe it’s time to ask ourselves how we can get that done and all survive and thrive in harmony regardless of what life throws us.


If you'd like to donate to the Nepal Relief, click here for the cause I supported. Cheers

Monday, June 15, 2015

My version of a get well card

So a friend of mine has a friend who almost died. He got leptospirosis which is a disease you get from coming into contact with rat urine, which can happen more commonly than you know. He was at the verge of death and I mean it when I say this, kidney failure, lung failure, affected organs and a very bad prognosis. Someway, somehow he pulled through and is doing a great recovery. That said, my friend in question wanted to get him my book as a get well present and he asked me if I could make a dedication using black humor. I decided against the dedication in the book being made with such humor and wrote it very honestly…. And I also wrote this piece for him because I wanted something written for him and offering my full take on black humor, because why not? I thought some of you might get a kick out of the most random get well note I’ve ever written.



NEWS REPORT: Pissing rat found dead in an alley

The rat in question, Mighty Mick, was last seen alive exiting a local Puerto Rico brewery. Eyewitnesses report that the suspect was indeed under the influence of alcohol, at least 4 types of rat poison amphetamines and a belly full of government cheese.

A local rat snuff film dealer, the latest enterprise in his rodentgraphic empire included a new burgeoning golden shower series that went ratinum in the Adult Rodent industry. Puerto Rico government officials declined to comment on the situation, insisting this was an isolated incident.

The suspect in question was also under investigation for 5 cases of statutory rape and suspected mice pornography.

“I’m happy he’s dead,” said a resident iguana who lives near the scene of the crime who wished to remain nameless. “He was a dirty rat and was always trying to give laced cheese to younglings of all kinds. A rat that gives an even worse name to rats.”

Further investigation yielded information that his line of golden shower rat films had landed him a large publishing deal and the night in question was “all about celebrating what we worked so hard to piss away.”

Investigating reporters questioned local security personnel of the brewery who confessed that “there was a large party of rats mixed with other vermin, drinking and doing drugs.”

Mick, aged 38 months was reported to whip out his “cheese grinder” to make it rain on a batch of local beers that remained soiled. The company in question is being investigated by the authorities and at least 8 sanitary violations have been reported, 4 specifically from the Mick Shower Incident as this crime is being referred to.

Mick was found at the scene of the crime covered in Krazy Glue, with two broken paws and a discharged M80 firework halfway up his rectum. The apparent cause of death was anally ingested smoke intoxication.

Local residents are less than cooperative and only one report indicates the presence of an adult human, mid-thirties, bearded that responds to the name “Rafa”. There were also two additional objects of note at the crime scene: a mint condition edition of Only Human, a work by local author J.D. Estrada and a spray painted message on the wall that reads:

Get well soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Raelity and Draem

Dreams have a way of getting things backwards sometimes. So does Reality.

This is the reason why 
I switch some letters around in the description for the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore Raelity and Draem. It is an intentional switch for several reasons including the ones stated above. I honestly do enjoy anagrams, shuffling letters around and being silly with names and words. The thing is that what I do with Raelity and Draem is none of those. It’s an intentional mistake in my attempt to create something memorable. 

I think it’s nice so many people have mentioned it and told me there's a typo. I’d actually love for kids to correct me as well, because they’d be completely right to do so. Why did the silly author write those two words wrong? Those are easy!

The honest truth is that, when talking about the Lucid, Draem and all the other dream worlds are loopy and loony. They’re a little crazy and a lot sweet because in life, sometimes you have to live mistakes and what is a mistake for someone is the proper definition for someone else. Btw, does that mean that there are several worlds within the Lucid which we will be exploring? Why yes… Draem is just one of the countries within the Lucid and part of my wish with the Daydreams is to have people draw the maps of each world, to write in requests and to have a blast. But that's a wish for the future. 

So here’s to roaming through Raelity, dear friends. After all, life is just a draem. :D

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Monday, June 8, 2015

Method to Madness, Bloghop Edition: Why I write

Recently a very lovely friend of mine wrote a wonderful post on why she writes and invited me to bloghop it up to give my answer to said question. So before we get into my answer, some words about your bloghop sponsor.

Larysia Woropay is a Canadian gamer, writer and like many of us, has a day job. She is insightful and her videos with the incomparable Walking Casino are reminiscent of Mystery Science Theater 3000 but with video games. Trust me, the banter is often hilarious and it’s nice to share a slice of Canadia, especially for a guy from the Caribbean. Apart from a talented writer and a funny gal, she also happens to be an extremely friendly human, open to discussions, conversations and all sorts of life enriching banter. Oh and she can probably kick your ass at the gym. She is currently in the final steps of bringing forth to reality her first book Lucidity and being a fan of dreams myself, I can’t wait to get my read on in the world she brings forth. Instead of offering spoilers, click here for her reasons on what she writes. It is an intriguing read and offers quite the unique perspective at the power of words and will invite you to look twice at heating and AC vents for the rest of your life.

By all means, also check her blog and keep an eye out; that above paragraph doesn’t do her justice though I’ll do my best in trying to answer the question of this particular blog hop.

Why do I write?

The short answer today is that I have to. For some time I wondered if I could be a writer. Then I really wanted to be a writer. Then I needed to publish a book and now I’m this maelstrom of ideas and once in a while I select a few to ground, polish and share with the world. I mention this because I know PLENTY of people who say they have a great idea for a book… the thing is that they leave it at that. They don’t tie an anchor to it. They don’t ground it, plant it, water it, prune it and enjoy its fruits. After I wrote, edited, formatted and published Only Human, I saw that it was possible and like I said at the start of this paragraph, I write because I have to.

What began as a curiosity became a desire and is nowadays a relentless need. Does that sound melodramatic? Of course. I told you I liked to write, right? The thing is that every writer has their driver. Some people want to create an epic story. Others want to touch someone’s life. Others desire to have impact. I can relate to all three except that when I begin a project, there's NO guarantees as to how it will end. Sure, I can have plot points, a story arc and an idea of where I’m going, but during the course of writing, special and wonderful things happen. Unexpected things pop up. Connections link and random bits of information cease to be arbitrary and become pivotal.

Only Human took me 7 years to write. That’s highschool, plus an extra year. That’s longer than some master’s degrees and PHDs. That’s one hell of an itch and I scratched it until I bled out a story. It began harmless enough, vampire kidnaps human to save the world. As basic an archetype as you can get. People have mentioned the first two chapters echo Underworld and the Matrix. This was intentional. What happens later is when things start to get interesting. For several chapters, Nathaniel Runnels is wondering where this is going and as the writer, so was I. I had no idea that this book would take me to where it has. It’s invited me to analyze humanity in all its aspects, it’s been a stage to challenge age old rules of the genre and to gender swap wherever and whenever I feel the need. It’s been my way to show just how much I question the reality I live while creating my own version. It’s me writing at my most agnostic in a fictional setting.

There is nothing else I do in my life that has allowed me such freedom of expression, of personal growth and of creative liberty as that book and my writing in general. Working in advertising and communications, quite often what ends up labeled as your work has several filters before it is published. It's part of the process and works in a corporate setting. My writing is me at my purest, at my most demanding at my most challenging. Although I want people to enjoy, I also want people to think, to question, to wonder, to explore.

On the other hand, I’ve been asked why I publish poetry, after all, poetry doesn’t sell. My answer is again simple but complex: I write poetry, because I have to. For the longest time I’d stopped writing poetry and two years ago, at the invitation of another great friend, I began to write again. What began as an occasional poem has become quite the stream of thought and I’ve already published two poetry collections, with a third one nearby and a fourth one in Spanish nearing completion, plus several other projects being worked on in tandem, exclusively in poetry. I’ve been able to explore my feelings and take painful negatives and turn them into positives. I’ve been able to become an emotional alchemist and say what I feel under the blanket of metaphor. I’ve been able to heal and know myself through my words.

On this blog I’ve written over 200 blog posts with plenty more to come. It has allowed me to connect to several people and share my opinion in a forum of respect and comprehension. I’ve had the honor of meeting people from around the world and who have been generous enough not only to read my words but to offer comments of gratitude, support or to establish dialogue. I’ve had people thank me for something I’ve written and tell me it was the first time they’d been able to love themselves in a long time. There's no way I can express my gratitude for such a comment except that I'm happy I was able to help.

All of this thanks to words. My words. Our words.

And that’s why I write. To connect. As soon as I hit publish or put out a book, those words cease to have exclusive rights to me. As soon as someone reads a poem, a book, a story, a post or a novel, we’re connecting and part of me wants more of that.

Even as a kid I enjoyed giving a good story and for the longest time in college I would go on these long rants to make people laugh and entertain them. Then when I was in my mid-twenties, a great friend invited me to collaborate on a blog that ran for 9 years. That blog changed my life because it showed me that I could resonate with someone from India as much as I could from someone who lived on the same block as me. For those 9 years, my therapy was to spew forth anger filled rants that slowly helped me hone my craft. What began as little bitch fits became more intricate and complicated and eventually, my desire to connect overshadowed my desire to vent. Writing on that blog convinced me I could put out a book and gave me some lifelong friends.

I also know the value of a well written letter. It can make someone’s day, it can bring them to tears and it can touch their lives. Words… just words on paper.

I am moved by words. I am touched by words. I am defined by words. I am better with words.

That’s why I write.

As this is a bloghop, we can’t leave out some interesting new people for you to connect with.

I give you three options then:

Katie M. is an extremely lovely librarian who has been kind enough to read my work. Being surrounded by books, it was a surprise my book resonated. But the more I read her blog, the more I understand. Living in Wisconsin, having such open, loving and tolerant thoughts might come as a surprise to many people. But if you get to know Katie, the love she has for writing, the love she has for a good book and her genuine interest in making a positive impact, it’s refreshing to know my words made sense. Her blog includes honest musings of a person who is bombarded with words and is always asking for more. She has incredible potential even if she writes it off. So expect references to books, to TV series, movies and to all things geeky, because she is a wonderful geek and goes to show that some of my favorite people in this world are in fact fellow geeks who have found common ground in what I have to say as well as what they have to share.

Maricel Jiménez is a fellow Puerto Rican author who has written one novel that has to do with pixies and fairies. A lovely lass, the joie de vivre and spark in her is undeniable. She embraces her inner child and offers up some genuine musings on her blog, showing that love for fantasy does not hinder one’s abilities to think critically and invite people to review things they thought they knew their full opinion on. At the Puerto Rico Comic Con I saw her interact with readers and she was another of those people for whom it is easy to root for. So if you’ve ever wondered what a Fairy Godfather has to say when things get dicey, best get on this ride. :D By all means, check out her book The Adventures of Pixie Piper.

Colin Rutherford knows a thing or million about dragons. His passion is borderline obsession and to boot, he’s a hell of a nice guy with a compelling book series that has dragons and plenty of them. Colin also manages the blog for a real life fictitious dragon and that’s what’s wonderful. It’s not every day you get to talk to a real life fictitious dragon :D much less read a full on series about them. So it begs the simple question… what are you waiting for? :D Get your read on with C.J. Rutherford and his Tales of the Neverwar.

So that’s my blog hop, including three brilliant up and coming writers in three stages of their careers, even if they don’t know it.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Maxwell Challenge

What some may call one of my hardest sales is what I call the Maxwell Challenge. Having a variety of genres and writing books, I’ve been fortunate enough to engage in some very fascinating conversations with some lovely people. Last year I had an awesome conversation with a like-minded reader that shared his views on religions, theologies and various concepts. It was rewarding because it allowed me to engage with that person on topics I don’t usually engage in.

For this year, I had the Maxwell Challenge. A very smart writer who came by my booth and engaged me in conversation for quite a long time. How long? Well it took a full water bottle to muscle through because by this time on Sunday, my voice was pretty shot and I needed all the help I could get. Still, it was an interesting experience because you could tell just how passionate he is about writing and reading. He browsed my book and carefully read it only slightly opening the paperback to not crease the spine. I found that lovely and curious because he wasn’t the only one. People who checked out my work were very careful with the spines and didn’t want to put damage on it, something I’m grateful for because it shows respect and appreciation for other people and the work.

Back to Maxwell though.

During our conversation, he shared his views on style, what he likes and what he perceived from my writing. It was a very interesting chat because I’d never gone that in depth in writing style and he read a bit and got a decent gauge on what the book is on. It was curious as well because as he read, he made remarks of breaking the 4th wall, dropping the mask, etc. He was fully looking at my work through his eyes and that was fascinating, until he shared a line that REALLY struck a chord (I’ll be paraphrasing):

“My writing is more visual… yours is kinetic. You want people to feel what you write whereas I want people to clearly and perfectly see what I’m describing.”

I really loved that line and it hit home because I definitely want people to feel what I write. I’m very kinetic and be it on purpose or a passing comment, I took it as a huge compliment because that’s the type of writing I love. I love feeling what I read. I love shivers down my spine. I love experiencing texture and sensations.

It was awesome to engage on such a writer level of conversation and I’m very grateful for his input and feedback and I’ll admit two things: 1. I’m curious as to what Maxwell thinks of my book and if it kept his attention. And 2. I wonder what his book will be like when he finally releases it. Here’s hoping I don’t have to hurry much for either.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I get by with a little help of my frands

I’ll come out and say it, although I love people reading me and interested in my work, for some reason it feels weird to talk about fans. The term fan is a bit weird even if it’s applicable because, well I’m just as much a fan of people and their enthusiasm. It is infectious and pushes me to better things and somehow it feels as if the term fan takes away from a parallel relationship between reader and writer.

In that sense, they’re friends because they motivate and encourage and do little things that many people wouldn’t think matter and which really make all the difference. So I guess I have frands. And boy, I have some awesome frands.

I have frands who write me on Facebook and keep in touch. I have frands on all types of social media platforms who ask about me, my wife and my family. People who don’t need to go even remotely above and beyond and who surprise me at every step of the turn. Frands who send me pictures of my book by the pool or near the beach. Frands who take selfies with my books and send them to me.

So dear frands, thanks for always doing more than you know to fuel the fire to write, to create, to connect and to give the best of me.

Peace, love and maki rolls.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My inbox is open

If there’s something I really enjoy from events like the PRCC and book signing events, it’s the amount of writers I get to meet. People of all ages come up to me and want to talk writing, and I love that. Poets, short story writers, novelists, and of all ages and genders.

At these events I also give out my business card like there’s no tomorrow and openly tell people to write me and that I’ll write them back. Many people think I’m just saying that though others have found out I mean what I say. For writing advice, for tips, for thoughts I do my best to be as objective as possible because I know how much I would have liked someone to read what I had to say when I was younger.

It’s amazing how many writers are out there and just need a push. Some aren’t sure what to do, others are wondering if what they wrote is good enough, others still are nagged by self-doubt and to all of them I say, slay those dragons, connect, ask and if you think I can help you then by all means, write. What have you got to lose?

At your service

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Human Moments at the 2015 Puerto Rico Comic Con

Throughout the 3 days of the 2015 PRCC, I was able to enjoy a wide variety of very human and very wonderful moments. As far as comparing the experience from this year and last, I can definitely say it was very different and exciting for several other reasons. 

Last year’s first day was the complete unknown. This time around I was wondering how it would go. It was a Friday, school was still in and I wondered how many people would go. The reply was that 7,000 faithful PRCC fans came to visit. Among those fans, it turns out I had some readers who were eager to visit. To have people look for your booth as one of their top hits, well that’s a nice surprise and I was able to see many of the people I got to get to know during the last year. It was a lovely experience especially since some visited me all three days. Some people might mind, I was just excited that I was worth enough of their time for the visit. It was a lovely detail during the weekend because a friendly face can really put you on a roll. 

I’m still asked by people if I get tired of saying the descriptive of my works. My only answer is that only my voice gets tired. Seeing the reaction of people when you tell them a premise is always an interesting experience on its own. It’s a wonderful compliment to hear people say, wow that’s different and interesting.

This year it was different; by having four available books people were surprised I’d done so much in one year even though some were bummed that Book 2 is not ready yet (just a little patience, my friends. It’s WELL on its way). If I’d tried to guess what any one person would have preferred I would have guessed wrong ALL the weekend and I love that. I love that my variety was a welcome experience for people and when I told them I’d done everything they were like, but when? I could only smile and say thanks clearly seeing that those lunch dates with a notebook paid off.

I also saw plenty less impulse buyers and much more book lovers. That was also a huge compliment because they didn’t just let me waffle on. They asked, they browsed, they read and they reacted. I really don’t want to sound like a kid, but seeing someone read my work and smile or react, well that does fill me with plenty of joy. In one case, one reader actually read most of Dark Strands right there. She browsed my other works but that’s what resonated. A book of poetry… at a Comic Con. Just try to imagine how much I’m smiling at that sentence.

I’m quite a different type of exhibitor. Sure, I do have a Comic Concept, but most of my material is book material and people were often surprised by my selection, and often pleasantly so. Another reaction that always gets a smile from me is when people pick up Only Human and go “Damn, it’s heavy.” The other reaction that gets a chuckle is when people ask how long it took. They hear 7 years and their eyes pop open.

Then there’s reactions that make me choke up. On more than one occasion people told me they were proud for my accomplishments. They nodded in approval and told me to keep going. That we need more of this. That we need to show that we’re capable of anything. That it’s good to see people who bring good news. To hear that from a stranger that owes me nothing, to have a parent buy something and later return to thank me for doing what I’m doing, well I don’t know how to react to that except with the best attempt at a “thanks” as I can muster. These people don’t know me, but they recognize on several occasions how much effort is put into each project.

One funny experience was a lovely woman who bought Dark Strands. She said it was quite short and I told her I understood, though I put in a lot of effort into the entire collection and pushed myself as much as I have in poetry to create something special and different. The next day she came by and told my wife I was a hell of a writer and she bought two Blanc Comics. Knowing someone thinks enough of my work to read an entire poetry collection and come by the next day for more of my work is just so wonderful. And it happened on more than one occasion.

One young boy actually came by every single day to my booth and he was blown away by the Blanc Comics until his Mom not only yielded, but bought one for herself. I gave them two free copies of my handmade daydreams as I did for the cosplayers who participated in the giveaway.

There were actually quite a few friends whom I hadn’t seen in years and I told them what I’d been up to the last couple of years. I got some oldschool high fives and some strong hugs for my effort.

When some artists came by my booth and saw the Blanc Comics, I was complimented for the variety in my panels and format and that it was a fantastic idea. And these were high quality artists with PLENTY of years of experience under their wing. And they were pumped for my work.

I also saw one reader who luckily took a copy of Only Human. I say luckily, because I’d never seen someone pick one of my books and smell the pages. It was such a lovely and different experience to see someone experience and enjoy the feel of my books. On more than one occasion people basically caressed the books they wanted to buy and to me that was also a huge compliment, it meant that the presentation did the stories and words justice.

On one occasion, someone asked for my autograph. No book, no nothing, just my autograph. On another occasion a young man asked me to sign his laptop. One reader who’d actually bought my book in a bookstore, brought it so I could sign it. And she bought a marker so I could sign the book on the outside… another first. I even saw a fan from last year with my book covered in contact paper to protect the book. Another person who brought me the book to sign had some areas where she’d put post-its to mark the book… and yes, I stole a glance and saw one of the rawest scenes I’ve ever written well into the book. To see that a scene I wrote merited a post-it… I’m still smiling.

So when someone asks me why I was so smiley in all the pictures, those are just some of the moments that filled me with joy, with energy, with more belief in my work and with a sense of gratitude that I’m still processing. It’s been an intense year though it’s had plenty of good bits to it and a lot of it has come courtesy of people who were kind enough to get to know me and my work a little more. 

So here’s to plenty more human moments.