It’s Been A Long Time

I missed this place…the sights, the smells. The Swoaps. I probably should have cleaned up though.

But I have to say, it’s kinda nice to be missed.

As writers, we pray that our words touch someone, impact them in some way. We hope the things we write matter to someone outside of ourselves. That’s the point, right? To give something to someone and affect them. Right?

I walked away from this whole writing thing a year ago, not because I dissatisfied or disillusioned, but because I ran out of things to say. For my second book, Come Hell or High Water, I finished the third or fourth draft (yes, it is actually finished) and hit a roadblock: it felt broken to me and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I didn’t feel like I had what it took to tell that story—at least not the right way. I put it down, put it away. I was loving blogging but hating the responsibility of it: life was a pesky, persistent thing then and when writing became a chore instead of a joy, I didn’t want it anymore. And I didn’t know what to talk about. Every article online tells you an author should have a reason for their blog, something they are trying to say or achieve or provide—something coherent that would bring people back again and again. I had villains and DMFRH and How We Broke DisneyWorld and the Swoaps—oooh the Swoaps, my favorites! But my blog seemed like a hodge podge of random thoughts without discipline.

So I stopped.

I moved on. I focused on helping people. I was good. Until you dragged me back into this freak show.

OK so that’s Bruce Banner’s line from the Avengers (had to see if you’re paying attention) but it’s not entirely untrue. I did move on. Like far. While I was away, I moved my family from the lush grayness of Seattle to the sunny clusterfuck that is Florida (sorry my Florida friends but you know I’m right). 3509 thrilling miles with The Boy, the Honey Badger, the Wife, the niece (I think I introduced her as the Fox but we renamed her to Skipper—she loves it!), and the Damn Dog—2 cars (1 of which lost a part in every state), a 26-foot Penske truck (that I crashed at a gas station), and a trailer (that actually came off of and got stuck under the truck 1 mile from my return spot). Talk about fantastic.

But I did focus on helping people. Kinda. Ok no, I didn’t. Instead, I quit my job, started my own consulting firm (a firm of one—holla!), and watched my wife launch her own travel agency. We have one kid who has to get homeschooled now since the state of Florida cannot calculate a GPA that low (guess who?), another who is allergic to college, and a third who wants to do her schoolwork while jumping on a trampoline with roller skates on. It’s been an interesting year to say the least.

Until you dragged me back into this freakshow.

A couple of things happened: my father-in-law let me know that he’d been reading my blog and was missing it and its connection to me. I’d often said that if you wanted to understand me, read the things I’ve written (I’m horribly honest). I didn’t think someone actually would. But he did and his words poked my heart. Then we had the Season 5 finale of The Walking Dead. Stay with me, it’s gonna make sense in a second: I wrote a Facebook post recapping my reactions to the finale—with spoilers—and not only did I love writing it, it had a little bit of virality (that’s a word now, dammit). I mean it was like pink eye in the daycare viral (and yes, I know pink eye is a bacterial infection–let it ride, Nurse Ratchet) but still, I got enjoyment and so did the readers. One of the comments was, “I can read anything he writes!” Anything? Huh…I’d never considered that people were reading the blog for whatever the hell I was gonna say, not because I was focusing on villains or breaking Disney or cussing about my kid. It really didn’t matter what I wrote…hadn’t thought about that before.

So fine, I’m back, bitches! What? Too soon? Ok, I’m just back. And we’ll see how it goes. I still have that villainy goodness—you know Avengers 2 comes out next week and Ultron seems ripe for a review. I still have the Boy—DMFRH is the gift that keeps on giving. I still have my books—for all you Heaven Falls fans, not only am I determined to release Come Hell or High Water this year, but the Honey Badger actually gave me both the central conflict and the overall theme for the 3rd book. Right now, Damned If I Do, seems like a fitting title. And I have whatever else comes to mind: I want to talk about those Unsung Other Dudes like John Oates and the guy from Wham! and the dude who used to host American Idol back in Season One. I’ll talk about The Walking Dead because…it’s The Walking Dead and it’s amazing! Whatever comes to mind is a topic we can explore.

In short, I’m sorry I left you (without a dope beat to step to). Seriously, I’m really sorry I left without saying goodbye. That won’t happen again. Hang with me and I’ll hang with you and we can have some fun. Deal?


8 thoughts on “It’s Been A Long Time

  1. Hi Chris
    My name’s Joe & I live in Sheffield, England. In 2013 I was fortunate to stumble across “The Road To Hell” in a small book shop in a small country village called Bakewell. Several years before that (2007), my sister asked me for her birthday, she’d like me to create and design a comic book/graphic novel for her (I had just graduated from doing art at college). She didn’t want anything epically long, just an example of my art work she could keep.
    Unfortunatly my sister didn’t get her presant that year (well she got chocolate instead), but not because I gave up on the idea, but because the more I thought about this character I was designing, the more I wanted to put more of a back story behind him. At first I was going to go for a Fantastic Four rip off, but the more I got into the project, the more I realized I wanted to do something a little darker & more personal. I decided to go for a human/angel/demon hybrid story instead. This was during a rough period in my life where things weren’t going well. I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster & wanted to channel my thoughts & frustrations on to paper. Long story short, my novel is still not finished & I’m still trying different ideas out. For me this is more of a personal obsession, a hobby that I like to stop & start when ever I feel like & had no pressure in finishing. It’s not the sort of thing I feel I could financially profit from, but it keeps my creative ideas flowing, so I don’t lose that spark I had when I was at Art college.
    There were times when I needed to step back from the novel & leave it for a while, but something would come out of nowhere & pull me back in. It’s like a ninja from the “Clan of Inspereation” would follow me around in the shadows & when the time was right, he spring out & swipe me with one of his swords of ideas. The Road To Hell was one of those swords.
    I was so captivated by the way I could easily visualize the descriptions of the surroundings/places like the cities of Heaven & of the characters & when they changed forms. I also love the fact you decided to cover an already well known story of the war in Heaven & put your own creativity & twists into it. It has given me a fresh outlook of how I can continue to work on my novel. I can totally relate to you taking some time off it, but I’m so glad you’ve decided to come back & not only strive to finish the 2nd book, but have an idea of a 3rd. Keep up the good work & I hope to be able purchase Come Hell Or High Water some time in the near future.

    • Joe, you are my hero! Seriously.

      About a year ago, I met with the ladies at Duolit to help me figure out how to brand myself, my books and my blog. The outcome of that meeting was to build a blogging schedule (look how well that turned out) and to set up a second blog (now called Fall From Grace) that I could use to speak directly to the readers of The Road to Hell. The thing was, we didn’t know who those readers were. I had no idea who was buying the book.

      Now I do.

      Your words affect me in a way that, as a writer, I am embarrassed to be unable to describe. They both motivate me and encourage me to move forward. It isn’t the Clan of Inspiration; I get chased by the Harpies of Confirmation, constantly dogging my heels and telling me I’m on the right path. Thanks for being a Harpy–and I mean that in as nice a way as I possibly can.

      I hope you keep working on your novel as well. I envy graphic novelists: to me you are complete artists, able to weave a literary and visual story that is immediate accessible to all. Do your thing, Joe. Make it real. You never know who’s waiting to touched by what you have to offer. But someone is. Someone needs it. Someone is across an ocean from you, passing through a small bookstore in a small town, hoping to be inspired by your story. Give it to them. And if there is anything I can do to help, let me know. Seriously.

      • Wow, thank you so much for replying! This rates 100 out of 10 on my Holy Shit meter. Trust me you’re the hero in this. I proudly keep my copy of The Road To Hell next to my other faveorite author’s works such as H.P. Lovecraft, Steven King, Terry Pratchet & Dan Brown. Anything fact or fiction that has Fantasy, Myth, Horror, Sci-Fi or has a Conspiracy Theory revolving around it, I am obsessed with. I also (if it isn’t painfully obvious by now) love comic books/graphic novels (Marvel, DC, Top Cow). I’ve also been getting into manga & animie the past couple of years aswell (Dragon Ball Z, Death Note, Bleach, One Piece etc, still discovering that whole genre). Hell, I still love Pokemon (the whole elemental powers thing still gets me excited as it did when I was 5). I’m thankful I still managed to keep the 5 year old me inside & able to bring him out when I’m writing (no matter how offen the world has tried to force me to grow up). If he gets excited at what I’m writing, I feel I’ve done something right (even though what I write is way more explicit that what a 5 year old should be reading).

        It’s actually been a while since I’ve done any real art work towards the novel. I’ve done an odd sketch here & there, but the past year or so I’ve really been more focused on the writing of the story. Like I said, I’m still adding & changing ideas around, but I feel recently I’ve have had a break through as far as a solid foundation for the first 3 parts of what I hope will be a continuing saga (well it won’t go on forever, but I feel there’s more ideas out there I still haven’t thought of yet). Once I feel confident that it’s complete, I could send you a draft if you’re interested, although the speed I write, armageddon may beat me to it (hope you can wait that long lol).

        One thing I wanted to ask is there any authors or any perticular source material you can suggest that is/was a good insperation for you? I’ve read some of your blogs & I know you like similar stuff to what I like (comics, start wars etc). I also read about your experiences which inspired you to write (like witnessing the shooting), I can only imagine going through something like that. But is there anything you can suggest that I might find useful for ideas or insperation?

      • Well, as inspiration goes, I strongly recommend NOT standing next to someone when they get shot. But the truth is, inspiration comes from all sources and I encourage you to use all of your senses when finding ideas. For The Road to Hell, I listened to the 8 Mile soundtrack to get a feel for the pulse of the story, the pace that I wanted to move in. I also wrote it as a screenplay first because I see everything as a movie in my head.

        I was influenced largely by the same things you were–Spiderman and X-Men comics, Star Wars and Alien and Godzilla movies, Saturday morning cartoons. Stephen King, Michael Crichton, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison sit on my night table. But I was also impacted by the nightly news and my parents’ divorce and who shot JR. As an author, I wanted to be equal parts Toni Morrison and Elmore Leonard. I’m neither…but that was what I was shooting for. I wanted my stories to have the visual impact of Star Wars with the heart and soul of Gone With the Wind. I’m not there yet…but that is the goal. In terms of what I define as success, Stephen King and JK Rowling truly represent the pinnacle. I’m nowhere near them but it’s a nice thing to aspire to.

        Here’s the thing: as writers we are the collection of our experiences, the world around us, and whatever it is we’re trying to say. Our role is to separate the wheat from the chaff of everything we see and hear and taste and touch and use what matters to help us tell the stories we’re meant to tell. All of us are reading King and Rowling; all of us are trying to be as visually impactful as Spielberg and Lucas; each one of us wants our stories to resonate with someone. Your story has to be uniquely yours: it has to be birthed from who you are, where you’ve been, and what you want to say. When I set out to write The Road to Hell, I meant to write Pillars of the Earth–a big, weighty tome–but that wasn’t what would come out. Come Hell or High Water was supposed to be Beloved with angels but that isn’t how it went.

        Write your story, the one that is still driving you this far. Write that one. If it’s a demon-angel hybrid with Pokemon-style elemental powers hunting down pagan demigods, so be it. Write it. Get that one shitty draft out (because the first one is always shitty) and do it quickly. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be good. It doesn’t have to be. You can fix whatever you want once the draft is down. What you’ll get is a sense of the characters and the world they inhabit. You’ll learn their speech patterns, their rhythms, what makes them angry and what makes them smile. What scares them. And you’ll get an idea of who you are as a author and what you’re really trying to say.

        And of course I’ll read it. But let’s try to beat that apocalypse though.

  2. Thank you for the feed back, this is insperation in itself. As I’m writing this, it’s 2:30am here in the UK & I’m watching The Blair Witch project, trying to absorb the whole fear of the unknown element & the expressions of terror & panic the characters portay lol. I’ll be moving on to some X-Files episodes next (who needs sleep on a Saturday night anyways?)

    I have plenty of experiences in my life where I can draw different raw emotions. I’ve even faced my own mortality at one point (not to go into too much detail), not a point in my life I like to dwell upon, but when I need it, I can go back to that moment & take from it the negative feelings I felt then & turn them into something positive. Yeah, I have set out for my story to be similar to things that I have read or seen or played. For instance, I decided the character to have both good & bad sides, being heavily influenced at the time by certian video games (The Suffering & it’s sequel The Ties That Bind, also Infamous 1 & 2) where the story & the character’s appearence & abilities are affected by the actions & morals you choose. It’s something we all can relate to, have to deal with the dual sides of our personalities & I really wanted to expand on that with my character & put elements of other things I’ve experienced in life into it.

    You mentioned music aswell. I LOVE 90’s (& 80’s) Hip Hop & Rap music. I enjoy other genres aswell, but 90’s Hip Hop is my faveorite. Nas, Rakim, Wu Tang, B.I.G., Pac…I could go on. 8 Mile was a very influencial movie for me, because it introduced to me a lot of Hip Hop acts such as Mobb Deep & Naughty By Nature. Even before Youtube was around, I was tracking down the instrumentals they used in the battles, like Showbiz & A.G., Onyx & O.C. or the background songs that didn’t make either of the soundtracks for the movie, such as South Central Cartel’s Gang Stories. Heavy Metal is another faveorite genre of mine, especially when writing horror. Hearing Korn or Rob Zombie gives me the atmosphere I need to get that dark zone inside my head. I also have a game on my old PS2, called Music 3000, where I can create my own music using over 1300 samples. With it, I’ve been able to create my own atmospheric music for my novel, which helps inspire me to write.

    I’m so glad I’ve been able to hear from you personally. I feel really motivated to get this project going again. I have other responsibilities & career paths as well, like I said, this is only a personal hobby/obsession. But the fact I’ve been able to talk to someone who has managed to get their work pubished (& hopefully will gain more success & popularity as time goes on) is an incredible feeling & I feel I can ammount to fianlly completing this first part of this on going saga of mine. Who knows? Maybe it could actually lead to something, but for now (short to mid term future wise) it’s just a obsessive hobby.

    I might be busy these next couple of weeks or so, but I’ll be looking forward to any new info regarding the new book or any other news you have & when I can, I’ll send you another comment/reply. Keep at it Chris, even if you feel you need another break from it for a while. Just remember, you’ve already sold one copy of Come Hell Or High Water as far as I’m concerned.

      • I’ve been busy (but aren’t we all?) Released a new book, working towards a PhD, attacked by a monkey in India – the usual. Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave me much time for movies. You should write a blog post bringing me up to date on all the recent comic book movies.

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