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It’s hard working, having a baby, seeing family and friends, and trying to write. I have to work it in more, I know, but blurbs of 140 characters or less is often the best I can do.

This blog will get more attention soon, but in the meantime, follow me on Twitter @NeoMyers for just a taste.

EAB

An “Afterword” for TITAN

New edition features an “Afterword” not included in the first edition.

The great thing about self-publishing your work is it’s in your control. You make the editorial decisions. You help design the art and make final decisions on its direction. And you go at your own pace (although laziness can intrude from time to time).

The not-so-great part about self-publishing is, at least at the outset, not knowing what the hell you are doing. I use Amazon publishing, which is a great service. But you can lose some important details. For instance, as those of you who bought the first edition of TITAN know, the book just starts. There are no title or copyright pages. I assumed that information would get layered into my book by Amazon’s service. I was wrong.

That said, I love my book and I’m proud of it. I’m more interested in the story anyway. However, in addition to missing some “niceties” that other books have, it’s a thick brick tome. I’m pretty sure you could knock someone out with that book with a good hit to the dome (that is not an endorsement of doing so, mind you…). Therefore, I reformatted the story down from 499 pages to 308 pages, including a new “afterword,” and added a new matte cover that looks and feels great.

But because I’m not a George Lucasinian shill, I will not make you buy a new edition of the same book just to see the new bells and whistles and read my new afterword. Nope, you can read it right here for free. Suffice it to say, if you haven’t read TITAN, I wouldn’t recommend reading the afterword until you do as there are some spoilers.

Here you go:

Let me tell you a secret.

Writers have egos.

There. Now you know. Mull that for a moment. And since writers have egos they also have agendas. The work has to mean something, even if it’s a novel about a superhero. Hell, especially if it’s about a superhero—how else could you relate to someone with super strength and metal in his bones that fights monsters?

Connecting the hero’s story with her personal journey is why Buffy the Vampire Slayer was so good. Joss Whedon wanted to deconstruct the stereotypical blonde female victim, so he made her the thing that monsters would fear instead. Moreover, the threats and villains she faced were usually representative of the personal turmoil that she was having in any given episode.

I have a few agendas with Titan, but one stands above the others. Eric Steele’s sister, Sarah, is based upon my real sister. Sarah was very real. She was handicapped, just like the Sarah in the story. The real Sarah also passed away. She left a mark on all of us. But when I think about my sister, as a person, I dwell on her unfulfilled promise. I think about the life she might have led if things had gone differently. It was a waste of a beautiful person.

In the world I created, I needed to give Sarah a purpose and meaning the real one didn’t get to have. She was supposed to be a superhero. Sarah became the motivation driving Eric Steele like Batman’s murdered parents or Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben. Beyond that, the suffering she endured wasn’t without meaning; she fought to survive so she could give her brother the ancient power that she couldn’t use. Sarah is the critical link throughout the story. By the end, Eric realizes that he must commit to Titan because Sarah can’t.

We all have particular family dynamics, but I don’t think I’m the only person whose older sibling loomed large. I inherited a chip on my shoulder to succeed and do all of the things Sarah could not. When I was a younger man, I resented that. But it was short-sighted. If it had not been for the real Sarah I might not be a writer.

Sarah’s condition was such that we were often homebound, so I learned to play by myself and developed a big imagination. I invented worlds and characters in my mind and acted out detailed scenarios. I used to build the bridge of the Enterprise, from Star Trek, in my bedroom out of dining room chairs and TV trays. Broken tree branches and sticks became exotic alien weaponry or guns. The interior of my house was a giant spacecraft (think: Death Star) from which the Millennium Falcon needed to destroy and escape. Sarah was sometimes an alien life form the Enterprise needed to research (and usually blow up).

So often, superheroes are driven by the death of a parent or parental figure, but I thought there was more value in showing how a family copes with the loss of a child and a sister. Eric Steele’s parents’ roles in this are just as valid as his. Similar to my own experiences, Sarah’s death reverberated through each family member. The circumstances around her death and what disabled her for life forced everyone in the family to make certain decisions that continue to affect them in the present like the mystery around how Tim Steele lost his powers. Some of this was revealed and there’s more to come.

My other agendas are petty by comparison. As much as I had a great idea for a superhero with a badass name with liquid metal in his bones that can forge armor, weapons, and objects through sheer will, what I really wanted to do was name his mild-mannered alter ego “Eric.” And he’s a superhero so he either needed alliteration in his name, à la Peter Parker or Clark Kent, or he needed one of those names that was *wink* *wink* some statement about his hero identity. I went with the latter because alliteration is harder with “e” and because “Eric Steele” just sounds cool.

I’m telling you this because my name is also “Eric.” Of course, the decision to name my main character with the same first name invites criticism. But I gladly accept it because my reasons for doing so go beyond ego. Nomenclature of fictional characters is due for a shake-up. For one, I like my name. I don’t meet enough Erics. It’s a good, solid name. Two, and most important, I’m tired of “John Hero.” How many people are named “John” anyway? Going just off of action movies, everyone’s name is John.

I want to be clear about this because I don’t want people confusing my fictional character’s thoughts, feelings, family and friends, or events in his life as though they are my own. Like any writer, my characters are all drawn out of my characteristics and a combination of various people I know. Writers really do write what they know. And sure, I think it would be cool to have the kind of superpowers that Eric Steele has, but I certainly wouldn’t want to get them the same way or go through what he does. Really, though, Erics draw the short straw in fiction. They’re either villains, bullies, jerks, or weirdoes, wimps, or just some peripheral character with no lines. Eric Cartman, from South Park, while hilarious, is pure evil; Eric Foreman, from That 70s Show, is a wimp; and Erik Lehnsherr or Magneto, as he is more commonly known in X-Men, is a villain often trying to murder the human race. Those are just three examples. There are a couple of exceptions to this: Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid and Coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights. Now there’s another: Eric Steele.

On another track, Eric Steele and Titan are also shorter than average at 5 feet, 5 inches. So am I. In fact, I gave Titan an extra inch on me—I’m only 5’4. As much as I wanted to fight the good fight on behalf of Erics, I also wanted to stand up for the little guy (pardon the pun). Why can’t a superhero be “short?” In fact, the Wolverine of the comics is only 5’3, but he’s portrayed in the X-Men films (to date) by Hugh Jackman who is 6’2. Why couldn’t, say, Charlie Day (of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame) be Wolverine? He’s still taller at 5’7, but it would be closer. Well, in my story Titan is 5’5 and that’s OK; he still has an iron-fisted punch.

Another peccadillo of mine in the superhero genre has to do with the learning curve that its heroes endure (or don’t). I enjoy jumping into superhero fights and romance and intrigue as much as the next person, but it would seem to me that if someone all of a sudden possessed the powers of a spider, for example, it would take more than a 2 minute montage to become proficient in their use. I aspired to show how Titan’s character and powers grew iteratively. By the end of the book, Titan has accepted who he is, but he has not mastered Titan’s power. Committing to his superhero persona and conquering his first challenge were the first steps. Now he must learn what being Titan really means, where he fits in the world, and how to hone his abilities to be an effective hero.

A good artist should let his work stand on its own without explanation (…he said after explaining several things). He should write for himself above all else. But I felt that I should justify some of my creative decisions—not apologize for them, mind you—and clarify important influences on the work. Most importantly, I want my readers to know that Titan is like an iceberg; the book is just the tip above the water, but there is an extensive mass beneath the surface supporting the story.

…and the stories to come…

I hope you enjoyed it.

Web: http://www.TheTitanSaga.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NeoMyers
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TITANSuperhero
Email: eabauthor@gmail.com

Why, “Hello!” It’s been awhile…

If I haven’t noted it before, I try to write as much as possible, but it’s still not my primary focus despite wanting that.

Over the past few months, I’ve moved, adopted kittens (Darla and Drusilla – take a moment and enjoy those names), and changed jobs. I had already neglected the blog before that, so I won’t offer too many excuses. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

The good news is that I’m through the tumult of change and my employment change offers (I hope!) the opportunity for a better work/life balance than I had before. This means my excuses for not writing are diminished and you’ll be able to call out my bullshit more prominently if you so choose.

Influences

Avengers' Height Chart

I’ve explored inspiration for particular stories, characters, and situations. Titan was inspired by a nugget of an idea born from the character/technology of “T-1000” from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It expanded from there. But that’s an idea.

There is a broader effect that acts on us as we create.

Influences.

Everything we have experienced throughout our lives is rattling around in our brains. It makes us cautious when we sense familiar danger. We perk up when we smell a favored food no matter who’s making it. And we enjoy new stories similar to tales we enjoyed long ago.

If it isn’t immediately evident, I am influenced by the superhero myth. I have my favorites (*ahem* Batman *ahem*). But I’m strongly influenced by the notion of the superhero, which is that one person receives great power and uses it to combat evil. I always use Spider-Man as the best example of this.

Meek, kind, and intelligent Peter Parker is bullied, maligned, and ignored — a boy without power. His good-hearted, responsible Uncle Ben raised Peter and treated him like his own son. Ben instilled in Peter the principle that power is a responsibility. When Peter is bitten by the spider, which gives him super abilities the power goes to his head. Uncle Ben is killed as a result of Peter’s inaction. From that day forward, Peter Parker uses his power to help people who have none and confront individuals that abuse theirs.

In the real world, I think we’re used to people actively seeking power for their own selfish purposes. They keep it despite the costs personally and at large. Furthermore, we’re accustomed to people of privilege having power or individuals with physical prowess be it attractiveness, athletic, ability, or both. It’s a rare thing when you find someone who has power and it’s used selflessly or, even rarer, freely gives it up.

I think often about the first American President George Washington with regards to power. He knew why we fought the War of Independence and knew the King’s arbitrary rule well. When Washington’s second term was over, he did not seek reelection. Washington could have been reelected until he died, but he was making a point—this new republic could only work if individuals elected to power freely gave it up when their time was over. Think about the politicians we have now. I can’t see very many of them giving up their power.

I am drawn to superheroes because they use power selflessly (for the most part). They’re also pretty cool. But it’s the use of power that influences me. I’m comparatively short and not especially physical, so the idea of the powerless gaining power is attractive.

Most superheroes are tall, broad chested, and heavily muscled or, in the case of women tall, long-legged, large breasted, and thin. In Titan, the hero is 5’5. I’m not looking to deconstruct the superhero myth, but I wanted to expand it to include people who don’t fit the type.

And, of course, my own physical dimensions bias me. I know how my height is a punch line. I know that I am overlooked (…pun) and underestimated purely because of it. Spider-Man is considered a short superhero, but he’s still 5’10. And yes, I know that Wolverine is short (he’s 5’3 – Titan is taller!), but Hugh Jackman, who portrays him in movies (see X-Men: Days of Future’s Past this summer!), is 6’2 so I’m going to go ahead and not count him.

On another track, I am also disillusioned by “regular” people getting superpowers and being expert with them five minutes later. I like big superhero fights and romance and all that, too, but I think it means more when it’s earned. I prefer what I call the Breaking Bad method of story telling. Walter White became a drug kingpin over the course of 5 seasons; it didn’t happen over night or through a fun, quick montage set to “You’re the Best Around.” We watched every painstaking detail and decision, which led him along the way. That’s called “story,” and if it’s done right it’s better than a superhero fight any day…

…well, most fights. The end battle in The Avengers was pretty amazing.

Although, Robert Downey Jr. calling out the guy playing Galaga was pretty good, too.

I published a book. Now what?

I published my book Titan almost two weeks ago and it has been a nerve-wracking, exciting, and confusing time. I did not publish in the traditional sense (of course, what is “traditional” anymore?) and so it’s left me feeling both proud and confused.

On the one hand, I published a book. Holy cow. I recognize that simply creating a long-form work and putting it out there for consumption is great. I try to humble and appreciative. My go-to line has consistently been, “I’m not Stephen King. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

On the other hand, I want my book to sell and I want people to read it. This is the internet, so it’s hard to be genuine without someone questioning your motives—but I’ll try. I am not in this to make money or be famous. I want people to read my work and like it enough that they want to read more. I recognize that money and fame have a role in that process, but they’re in support of the primary goal—they’re not the main goals.

Frankly, I am at a loss for what to do to publicize the book. I’ve created a Facebook page to centralize information and communications about the book, but I’m finding that it isn’t converting interest into sales. I’m beginning to understand why Facebook’s having “gone public” wasn’t received positively—there are genuine questions about the effectiveness of its ads.

I’ve also used Twitter to make some announcements and share information. The problem is, I follow quite a few authors on Twitter and the ones that constantly pepper my feed with schmaltzy ads for their book(s) annoy me. I don’t want to be “that guy.” Twitter is a tool, but it can be misused and I’ve seen more authors misuse it than use it well. I think author Ksenia Anske (@kseniaanske) uses Twitter very effectively—she treats the platform as a dialogue with readers and fellow authors, only occasionally referencing particular books for sale.  Plus, she tweets about stuff other than books, which makes her a well-rounded “follow.”

Independent of my self-publishing efforts, I am working with a Publishing Consultant on a pitch letter and proposal for my book for “traditional” publishers and agents. I want the book to get the widest possible distribution; if that’s what I have to do, then I’ll go that route.

There isn’t a roadmap to follow. I wish there was.

If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life… maybe

I wrote a book called Titan. It’s about a superhero that I created. I am working on publishing it. No matter what, it will be published. I’m using Amazon’s “Createspace” solution for self-publishing and I have commissioned an illustrator to design my character and a book cover. However, I am also working with a publishing consultant to sell my book in the more “traditional” way.

I have to draft two documents for the consultant to help me polish and, ultimately, submit to publishers and maybe agents. The first is a pitch letter (query letter is another name for it) and the second is a proposal, which is supposed to be a more in depth description of my book. Kind of like a book report. The pitch should be no more than one page—short, concise, and to the point. The proposal, on the other hand, should be longer somewhere around 5 pages.

It’s a grind. I loved writing Titan and I love thinking about it, but I finished the first draft years ago (how many, I don’t remember anymore, but it was at least three). I’ve revised the book. I’ve edited it. I worked with a line editor to polish it. I want to move on. I’m writing another book right now, but I’ve set it aside to work on the proposal. It’s tough. I want people to read what I’ve written—that’s really the goal for me. I want people to read it and like it and, hopefully, want to read more. This has never been about money for me.

However, publishing a book is a transaction. There is a business side to it. I can tell you right now that I don’t like it. I think my goal now is to not only write something people like, but to do it well enough that I don’t have to keep justifying the work. They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I love writing. But I’m tired of moving backwards or sideways. This proposal is a real chore and I can’t wait to finish the first draft. Writing about my writing is not as much fun as it might seem to be.

I wanted a better, pithier “premiere” blog post, but this proposal is rough and I had to get that off of my chest. I hope it gives me the chance to put my work in front of a wider audience.