The Comicon and Convention Survival Guide

I’m taking a very quick break from writing “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” to put together ” The Comicon and Convention Survival Guide”.

Having just returned from a series of conventions and comicons, I’ve seen the best and worst of people’s behavior and with the exponential growth of conventions across the country, the issues are going to get worse if attendees aren’t aware of the general rules.  I felt the time was right to release a guide highlighting the written and unwritten rules and etiquette of attending a convention to ensure everyone attending gets the most out of their experience. Conventions are a time to have fun and make memories.  If everyone is on the same page as to the expectations of their behavior and what they can expect from others, the experience will be that much more enjoyable.

I expect to be finished by the end of October. 


What You Don’t Know About Me

They say the best way to lose or alienate friends and business associates is to discuss sex, religion and politics. And this was before the internet came along.  
Some of the most heated discussions I see online are related to at least one of the three topics.  These topics divide us, they cause us to sometimes see things in black and white and people can get extremely defensive and belligerent when discussing them.
While there have been times in the past where I have discussed such items, these days I make a conscious effort to avoid doing so.  My online presence is ultimately a sales tool to encourage people to buy my books, come to my seminars and maintain interest in my career. If I go off on political rants against the left or the right, or slam certain religions, I immediately alienate half of my audience.  I’m certainly not neutral in many of these topics, but they hold little value to my career and openly discussing them is counterproductive.  I won’t change people’s minds as much as they won’t change mine. 
My friends and family know my stances and that is all that matters.  My personal beliefs are just that. MY beliefs. I don’t need validation from others to maintain these beliefs and won’t suddenly change them because someone does not approve.  I research everything I post and don’t forward random meme’s with half-truths and fallacies.  While there is a significant amount of information about me available online, you will find very little about my political ideals and religious beliefs. Although these are part of my personality, they are not part of my online persona. My career is not in religion or politics, so I don’t feel discussing it in public is beneficial to my career path.   Do certain people and groups in politics or religion make me insane? Certainly. Do I have my own opinions and gripes? Without a doubt.  I just make my voice heard in other ways. 
If you are a creator, be warned that discussing these topics openly in public can be extremely divisive among your audience.  

Yours guardedly,


Patience Is A Virtue

Craig and John Russo

Outside of Star Wars figures, one of my favorite things to collect is old books. My office is full of them.  I have first editions and turn of the 19th century hard cover poetry books.   I feel nothing captures a snapshot in time better than a book.  Many have inscriptions in the front dedicated to long deceased friends and loved ones.  

One of my most treasured books, is not 200 years old.  It’s not even fifty years old.  It is a first edition paperback of John Russo’s Return of the Living Dead.  John is the screenwriter of George A. Romero’s seminal classic 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead.  Return of the Living Dead is the sequel that takes place shortly after the events in the movie.  Yes, I know Dawn of the Dead is the movie sequel to Night of the Living Dead, but this is John Russo’s literary version and is completely different from the movie with the same name.  

Still with me?

Okay, good.  So why is a creased and worn book about zombies so important to me?  I was seven when I got the book. My Grandad gave it to me with the strict instructions to hide it under my bed so my parents wouldn’t find out. The cover was of a rotting zombie and I must have read it a hundred times. I brought it with me when I moved to the US in 93 and it has stayed on my bookshelf.  

This past weekend and after 33 years, I was finally able to get it signed by Mr. John Russo himself.  Adding to the moment, Mr. Russo stated that he had never seen this particular edition before and was surprised that I wanted it personalized. The financial value matters little to me as I never plan to sell it.  What it represents is far more valuable.   It was what turned me onto the zombie genre and thus started my writing career.  Finally being able to meet Mr. Russo and thankg him for the inspiration was a wonderful moment in my career.

This is testament that patience pays off. Sometimes good things can just take a little while to come to fruition.

Yours, happily


Talk Less, Do More

Talk is cheap and these days you can buy a lot of it for a dollar and still have change left over for a soda. Every time I log into Facebook, my feed is inundated with meme’s and comments from people posting about how much they could change the world. However, beyond talking about it, so few of them actually do anything about it.   They just spend their time posting about what they could do instead of simply just doing it.

The internet and social media especially, has become a soapbox for people to highlight grand problems, but at the same time, offering few solutions if any.  Maybe the call to arms is for other people to step up.  Who knows?  What is clear to me, however, is the world is firmly divided by the do’s and the do not’s. There is also a correlation between talk and action. I’ve noticed that those who talk less generally tend to do more and when they do talk there’s a reason and it’s not just to hear their own voice.

This divide is not just limited to political and social ideals.  Creativity is burdened by the same grandstanders.  How many great projects have fallen by the wayside because the creator just talked about doing it and never actually did it? Imagine if Charles Dickens’ motto had been “what if” or “I could”. How about Shakespeare?  Where would the literary world be if they had just sat around talking about what they could achieve instead of sitting down and doing it?  How about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg? Would movies be where they are today if they had just chatted about the ideas they had instead of grabbing a camera and showing the world what they were capable of? 

“I could” is the arch enemy of creativity. “I could” is the punch to the stomach that will stop any project or idea dead in its tracks or kill it before it can even get off the ground.   The only way to create and change the world is to turn an “I could” into an “I am”.  An “I am” is someone who is taking the next step to bring their visions to life. An “I am” is writing or painting.  They are making movies and performing on Broadway. Everyone you see on television or reading poetry at a coffee shop is an “I am”. Everyone you see at a polling station voting is an “I am”. They are the people who left “I could” in the dust and took strides to show the world they are not happy to sit back and watch it pass by. 

Everyone has the power to create and be an “I am”.  People from all walks of life have released books, made movies or written poetry.  However, there is a very clear line drawn between those who create and those who sit around talking about how much they could create. They are nothing more than dreamers and dreamers alone are not able to change the world.  While the romance of dreamers is a bright and colorful world where everyone holds hands and sings as one, the reality is dreaming alone achieves nothing.  It is actions that make a change.  

Being called a creator is something you earn and as creators, we can only live up to that title if we get up out of our seats and take action.  It is too easy to take the passive route and talk about what we can do. 

Don’t just be a dreamer. Be a creator.  If you want to change the world through a political movement or write a book or make a movie, stop talking about it and do it.  Don’t fill the world with more hot air.  Global warming is bad enough as it is.



Energy Leeches

There are 3,700 hours in five months.  What would you do with five whole months?  What would you do that could change the world?  Would you write a book or make a movie?  Would you paint a picture or work for a charity or travel the world and learn about other cultures?  How about spending it doing things you don’t enjoy and spending the time complaining about it? No?  That doesn’t sound appealing does it?  Then why do so many people do it?

There is a cartoon currently doing the rounds on the internet.  It is of a man in the 1930’s and a caption saying “In eighty years you will have a device that will fit in the palm of your hand and it will contain every piece of knowledge known to man”.  Beneath it adds “And you will use it to look at pictures of kittens and argue with strangers”.   Truer words have never been spoken.  There is a plague spreading across the internet and it’s getting worse.  It is stifling creativity and generating a huge cloud of negativity.  I am talking about forums and comments.  

The internet has opened a whole world of information and any interest we have, there is a community for us to interact with.  We should be networking with like-minded people and expanding our interests. We should be growing and learning. We should be teaching and collaborating.  But many of us are not.  In fact, quite the opposite is happening. 

I consider myself well-read and with very diverse interests.  To expand my interests and knowledge, I am online a lot.  I read websites, I’m a member of countless forums and chat rooms and everywhere I go, I have noticed the same thing.  People reading stories they know they won’t like and spending five, ten, fifteen minutes or more writing about how much they hated the article and arguing with anyone who disagrees.  These people are typically called trolls, but I don’t think it’s a fitting description.  I have a new word for this craze.  I call it leeching.  These people suck the joy, energy and creativity out of a room. A conversation can be civil and productive and as soon as a leech enters the room, they suck the energy out.  People are at each other’s throats and the direction of the conversation gets derailed.

My favorite is the comment that starts “who cares?”  Well, obviously you cared enough to read the article and then take the time to post about much you don’t care.  The author then launches into a tirade against anyone who disagrees.  Cheap shots are taken, people’s feelings are hurt and the negativity leaves the room into the non-cyber world. How many times have you logged off from a website irritated about something that happened online? How many angry drivers have just had an angry online encounter?  The repercussion of these actions don’t end with the close of a window, they can have serious real world implications.  I mention my numerous interests because I see this issue across the board. It isn’t located to a specific genre or topic.  The spread of negative energy has reached epic proportions.

So why did I start this article with 3,700 hours?  If you spend thirty minutes a day online complaining and reading things you don’t enjoy, that’s 185 hours a year.  Residential internet is about to turn twenty years old. Over twenty years that’s five months spent under a negative cloud.  It adds up quickly doesn’t it?   We are all gifted with a finite number of minutes in life.  We should spend them with our friends, our families and our loved ones.  We should make snow angels and watch the sun set.   I don’t understand spending time doing something you know you won’t enjoy. 

So what can you do to stop leeching?  If you find yourself online, gravitate towards articles and sites you know will interest you.  You will have a very different online experience if you seek out articles that put you in a good mood.  If you find yourself wanting to write something negative or critical, wait for an hour to see if you still feel the same way.  Most online rants and complaints are purely reactionary to the emotions felt at the time.   Take a deep breath and step away. Chances are, in an hour you won’t feel the same way and the need to post will have dissipated.   If you do decide to post something negative online, keep in mind that posted comments are getting harder and harder to delete with backups and archives being implemented.  Many websites and forums are now requiring a valid Facebook login to hold you accountable for your comments. It is more important than ever to make each word count.  Be certain that every word you post online represents who you are as a person and what you stand for. The world is watching.