Master Grief: Essay on the Bygone Bureau

So I finally finished this essay about my Master Chief armor, my epic break-up last year and my reasons for getting the costume made. Kevin over at the Bygone Bureau liked it, worked on the piece with me, and published it yesterday morning.

The results were incredible.

Entitled Master Grief, the essay has since been mentioned on Kotaku, Geekosystem, Neatorama, The Daily What, Rip Ten, CNET, Digital Trends and was featured on the front page of Reddit pretty much all afternoon with over 1200 votes.

Update: It's now appeared on Geekology, Device Mag, Ubergizmo, Buzzfeed, G4, Geekologie, Brides Magazine, Shortlist, DVice, the front page of Yahoo and the official website for Halo. Unreal.

At the end of the day, the essay was scoped out 105,000 times. I'm not sure how many of those individual people actually read it, or what the count is like right now, but man, what a crazy number.

I'd like to thank everyone who tweeted about the article, up-voted it on Reddit (both strangers and friends), shared it on Facebook and took the time to read my countless rough drafts, especially Mikey, Chris, Allie, Allison, Jess, McG and Tim for their invaluable notes. And of course, huge thank you to Kevin for giving me an outlet to share my story.

If you haven't read it yet, take a look at it here.

One Year Later: Five Things I Learned About Self Publishing

Getting attractive ladies to read your book, helps!

Well, its been a full year since Textual Healing came out, my senior capstone project turned novel. Over the course of that year I learned a lot about the self publishing process. It was incredibly frustrating and cost me a hell of a lot of money, but in the end, I think it was all worth it, despite the rising anger in my chest every time I think of the self publisher I used.

When it came out, Textual Healing received a lot of nice press. Tons of book bloggers wrote about it and said glowing things. I even saw some print press, which is a really hard thing to get when it comes to a self published book. It has an average 4 star review on Goodreads, with nearly 70 ratings. It even sold enough copies to recoup nearly half of what I spent getting the book published in the first place.

All in all, a success as far as I'm concerned.

However, as more and more of my friends and folks I've met through the Internets talk about self publishing, I find myself concerned. Because really, while I'm happy with the result of my silly book, I know a lot of people would be epically disappointed if they had my results.

So, I've written this little list of key things I've learned about the process, to hopefully help folks that decide to do something similar. Because it is hard, it is frustrating, and ya'll need to be prepared.

1. Have Low Expectations: You're psyched. Your first book is coming out. You're daydreaming about watching your Amazon rankings shoot up into the stratosphere, making best of lists, signing movies deals, and...

Yeah... please stop doing that. Please.

Yes, there are lots of awesome success stories when it comes to self publishing, but those are rare considering the sheer number of books that get churned out from these publishers. Don't count on your book getting a ton of press, popping up in bookstores across the country or making you a ton of money. Press won't want it, your self publishing company can't get it in bookstores and even if your book does sell a thousand copies, you'll probably just barely recoup your expenses.

If you are doing this for the money, you're already #doingitwrong.

Me, I went in with pretty low expectations regarding my book. I was lucky. My silly book did get a lot of press, but really, most of that only happened because of Geekadelphia, my existing relationships with bloggers and my own toilsome marketing tactics (a podcast that failed, Goodreads giveaways that I spent lots of money on, etc) for the title.

If you go in with low expectations, everything great that happens, whether it is a press hit or a kind review on Amazon, will only feel 100% more fantastic. There is nothing wrong with daydreaming, but stay realistic.


2. Book Bloggers Seldom Review Self Published Books: Yes yes. You've written the next Great American Novel or whatever. You're like Paul Giamatti in Sideways. Great book, no one wants it. So you go ahead and make things happen yourself, thinking everyone will want to read it.

Eh, not so much.

I took this review policy screenshot from Well Read Wife, a book blogger I ADORE working with when it comes to promoting Quirk titles. She doesn't accept self-published books, and really, I can't blame her. I've seen my fair share of self published author pitch emails sent to Geekadelphia, poorly written press releases, etc. It hurts, knowing that these folks are putting their baby out there without proper support (that's why you get a publicist), and book bloggers simply don't have the time to read through all that (to borrow an editorial term) slush. They have tons of quality stuff heading their way on a weekly basis. (more…)

The Cute, Poetic Birdhouses on Pine Street

I love my walk to work.

Sometimes I cut through Rittenhouse Square. Other days I zig-zag through the tiny hidden side streets in Midtown Village and Old City. And I almost always stroll through Washington Square Park as I get closer to the office.

But lately, I've been wandering down Pine Street every single day, because of these strange, cute birdhouses that are currently dotting the way. I've been seeing them for... hm. You know, I don't even know anymore, maybe weeks now. It took me a while to finally take some pictures of them, but here they are.

The fact that they are hanging there isn't the only odd part about them though. The last few seem to have bits of sad poetry scrawled across.

I loved you
and bled
in a way
that still
belongs to me.

I've uploaded the rest of the birdhouse pictures to my Flickr page, there are quite a few of them. And if any of you Philly friends know anything about these, let me know!

Halloween 2011 in Philadelphia [Photos]

As any of my friends can tell you, I take Halloween pretty seriously. Just look at that serious expression, as Alex and I dish out the trophy for best mustache.

Ever since I moved to Philadelphia and found myself living on my own, I've thrown some sort of Halloween bash, whether it was for my birthday or the actual holiday. This past weekend's Halloween celebrations were quite possibly the best yet, and I managed to keep my "stay out late and stop being an old man" promise that I made to myself.

Look at all these people. Over 100 folks came to the Tattooed Mom bash!

For the parties, I brought my Lieutenant Arcot "Thorny" Ramathorn costume out of retirement (I wore it for my 25th birthday), and had myself a lovely time with great friends. Scope out some snaps below, or just browse through on my Flickr page. I've also uploaded a video of DJ MUSTARD playing some remixed Zelda. Dude, I love you.

Big thank you to Alex Hillman, the Indy Hall crew, Whipped Bakeshop, NextFab Studios and Rob from Tattooed Mom for making our annual Geekadelphia / Indy Hall Halloween celebration such a success. (more…)

A Bucket List For The Last Year Of My 20's

Well, I turned 29 this week. I celebrated appropriately. I spent a weekend in Atlantic City with my best friend, had a bros' night at Gunners Run in Northern Liberties on my actual birthday (Tim and I are still haunted by the fllet mignon sandwich we had there), and I plan to spend this weekend partying Halloween style, thanks to the traditional Geekadelphia & Indy Hall bash at Tattooed Mom (over 120+ people are coming!) and my pal Jay with his annual costumed celebration at his apartment.

At work (where we had a fancy hat party), two of my coworkers asked me how I was planning to enjoy the last year of my 20's. I hadn't quite thought of it that way. I'd mostly been stressing about hitting 30, but not how I'd actually spend my final year.

So, here's a little list I've made for myself. Hopefully I stick to it.

1. Make One More Epic Costume: I'm concerned that my obsession with awesome costumes (shared with Geekadelphia co-founder / eternal BFF Tim Quirino) may seem a little more ridiculous once I'm in my 30's. When people find out that my biggest adult purchase was a full suit of Master Chief armor, I get laughs and nods of understanding, mostly due to the backstory of my heinous ex.

But what about when I'm 30? Admitting that my next biggest adult purchase is going to be a replica Rocketeer outfit, might not be met with the same sort of good humored approval.

Oh, and yeah. The next costume is going to be the Rocketeer. As a kid, I was obsessed with that movie. It'll be expensive, but I'll find a way to make it work.

2. Mosh and/or Skank One Last Time: My buddy Chris Schmidt invites me to concerts just about every other day, pressuring me via gchat to check out this band or that. He knows me quite well. These are all bands I know and love, but I'm a big fan of getting into bed at 10:30pm.

This is a point of mockery in my circle of friends (Allie & Jay, I saw that), so I think I'll try and work on that.

I'm going to try to make it a point to actually go to one of these shows with him, and tear it up in the pit, whether its a rock concert or a ska show. Most people would be worried, but luckily, Schmidt has arms the size of legs. I'll be fine.

Note: Google searching for the term "skank" has unpleasant results.