3 Days, 3 Cities, 3 Wonderful Launches!

A huge thanks to everyone who turned out for our launch events last weekend! It was fantastic to see everyone and celebrate the book. Also, thank you to everyone who purchased copies of Awakening. We hope you enjoy the read!

Launch at the Warehouse.

It all started in Corsicana at the Warehouse Living Arts Center.

At the Dallas launch.

The next day, it was Zeus Comics in Dallas.


At the Houston launch.

And to wrap up the Texas launch events, we met up with the Houston contingent at Spaghetti Western.

A huge thanks to our three awesome hosts!

Also hugs and thanks to Dad, who provided all the printed promotional material. If you need anything printed, check out the Copy Center. He’s also got a few of the hard copies on sale at the store, in case you’re in Corsicana and you’d like to drop by and pick one up.

We are now working to set up our New York City launch event.

NYC Comic Con

New York City Comic Con was a fascinating and incredible experience. It was my sister’s first time to go to a comic-related convention, and it was certainly eye-opening.

NYC Comic Con 2016

Baltimore & Jennifer at NYC Comic Con 2016.

There were cosplayers. (Harley Quinn was especially popular this year.)

There were booths.

There were thousands of people crowded into the Jacob Javits Center for the four-day convention.

It was overwhelming but interesting. We met with several indie authors. We talked up Children of the Solstice but also to found out about their writing processes and their books. Good indie authors that we are, we even purchased a few of the books. Since we plan to exhibit at conventions, attending the Comic Con was great to be able to figure out what might work best for us.

Jennifer, Alex Sanchez, and Baltimore at NYC Comic Con.

Jennifer and Baltimore flank Alex Sanchez, the artist responsible for the cover image and the character sketches, during NYC Comic Con 2016.

One of the highlights of the Comic Con was meeting up with the artist who created the cover art and character sketches, Alex Sanchez. He was gracious and signed the posters we had made of the cover. If you haven’t checked out his work before, you can do that here: http://ironhed577.deviantart.com.

If you haven’t had the chance to go to a Comic Convention, I urge you to check out a local con near you. You might get to meet a creator you’ve admired, or see Wonder Woman or Thor or Pikachu! It’s also a great way to meet indie authors and artists – you can even get a special commission of your favorite character, like I did!

Juggling life and writing

Writing a book is a lot like climbing a mountain. Going up Mt. Kilimanjaro with my brother in September 2006, we learned the art of “pole, pole,” which is Swahili for “slowly, slowly.” Pole is pronounced something like “poe-lay.”

Reaching the Roof of Africa meant mostly just putting one foot in front of the other until we reached Uhuru Peak.


Writing a book is kind of the literary equivalent. You write it (and re-write it and edit it and sweat over it and obsess over it) one word at a time. And you keep at it until you get to the finish line. Along the way, there are milestones, each with its own mix of emotions.

  • Completing a draft (major cause for celebrations, six of them – one for each draft).
  • Sending the draft out to editors, beta readers, the formatter, reviewers (exhilaration mingled with sheer relief and debilitating fear).

From the outside looking in, and vice-versa

People think it’s pretty cool that we’ve co-written a superhero book and it’s almost ready for publication. When I talk to them, they even manage to make it sound glamorous. Like we’ve accomplished something on par with being invited to consult for the president. (Although to us, it feels that heady, and we think it’s pretty freakin’ cool, too.)

They see the results. They don’t see the daily grind. And I do mean grind. The kind of procrastinating grind where you absolutely would rather clean your toilet with your very own toothbrush, then brush your teeth with that selfsame implement, than sit down with the laptop and write One. Single. More. Sentence.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of fun involved in making up stories. It’s fun to learn the craft. Fun to talk with other writers. Fun to brainstorm ideas and turn those ideas into living, breathing stories. It can even be fun to edit and polish and fine tune stories. Fun to collaborate and turn OK into great. But it’s not like that every day. Some days it feels like a hobby and some days it feels like an unpaying part-time job. Or penance. Take your pick. All that really matters, though, is doing what’s required that day, no matter how it feels. Pole, pole. Eventually, we’ll get there. Nothing very glamorous in the execution of it. (In fact, a lot of days it’s anything but pretty – remember what I said about the toothbrush?)

It’s all about time

One of the most common questions we get when people find out Baltimore & I are up to is where we find the time to write.

I’m not sure what my brother tells people, but I usually give one of several answers, depending on who’s asking and my mood:

  • I’m not married, so I have more control over my free time.
  • You watch TV when you get home from work. I write.
  • You FaceBook. I write.
  • You have kids, and I’m a morning person. I write before you can get your kids to school.
  • You go out with your friends. I give up my social life 5 or 6 nights of 7 so I can write.

All of which are factually true, but incomplete answers. Sometimes I tell the full truth.

You find time for what’s important to you.

My work on Awakening takes about two hours a day, and has from the beginning. At the outset, it was roughly 90 minutes for writing and 30 minutes for talking and collaborating with my brother each day. Now, the writing is done for Awakening (thank the heavens) and I devote most of my time to marketing activities, such as this newsletter. (Although we do have Books 2 & 3 waiting in the wings, so creative writing will come back into my life soon.)

Progress every day

We all have the same 24 hours. Sure, we all need Z’s. And we need to earn money to fund our lives. But we need to spend our free time in a way that enriches us. For me, that means writing and scuba diving.

Sometimes that’s easy, especially the scuba part.

But not always. We need to keep at the book work even when life deals us more lemons than a Florida citrus grove. Last week, I alluded to us having gotten through a tough week. Let me tell you what’s gone on for us in the last 2 weeks or so, and we still managed to put our time in on Awakening and marketing for the book, because we made time for what matters to us.

  • Baltimore had his appendix out. He’s recovering nicely, by the way, but the doctor told him not to laugh for a week so he wouldn’t compromise the healing process.
  • My 13-year-old cat went to the vet for dehydration and came home with a special low-protein diet for stressed kidneys. I didn’t even know prescription food existed for pets. It’s a whole new world for us. We’re working through fluid treatment, which involves daily needles. It ain’t fun for either of us, and she’s starting to run from me. It’s only been a week. I’m not sure how much more of this I – or Possum – can take.
  • My AC went out on a day when Houston had a heat index of 102. It was a very warm week in the Pallanich household.
  • My mobile phone service has been on the fritz since I switched from Cricket to T-Mobile several months ago. I’m in the heart of Houston but can’t get 4G service at home. Garbles and dropped calls and “I can’t hear you” are the new norm, along with huge levels of agitation. What should take 5 minutes to discuss now takes 10 or 20 minutes and requires multiple phone calls and significant swearing. Skype, you say? Yes, would make sense to try that, except my T-Mobile mifi hotspot makes Skyping a bit tricky. It also sometimes means download speeds that rival the old dial-up modem days, but barely.

Two of these are merely daily annoyances. That life-threatening part my brother went through was super scary. And worrying about Possum is taking an emotional toll. But, to get a bit philosophical about things, if we didn’t have these problems, we’d have other ones.

In the end, those problems are part of the landscape of the mountain of book writing we’ve been climbing.

Pole, pole. We’ll get there.

– Jennifer

Main stage inspiration, Part 2

For the last two weeks, I’ve been writing about the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, in August. (If you missed either write-up, click here and here to read them online.) This is the final part of the event recap. The whole event gave off a happy, can-do energy. There were superheroes. In capes. In fact, a bunch of us dressed up in superhero costumes and headed out on The Hero’s Journey (which was a plenty fun scavenger hunt.) But there were serious parts to. Up on stage, speakers talked about life-changing moments, and what they do to make the world a better place.

  • Caroline Webb, author of How to Have a Good Day (find it here on Amazon), says tiny tweaks in how you already live can vastly improve your life. Batching tasks like email instead of multitasking and doing some email here there and everywhere while trying to do other things simultaneously, for instance, can give us more time in our day. Our brains filter everything, flagging as most important those things which match up to our aims, attitudes and assumptions. Why is she a superhero? She has shown us that being intentional about our starting point – resetting our filter to truly focus on our aims – can help us achieve them by allowing us to notice all the synchronicities and opportunities that can aid us along the way.
  • Pete Adeney, aka Mr Money Mustache, believes any money you spend that doesn’t make you happier is a waste. As he puts it, most people “suck at money.” Getting rich enough to retire only takes about 10 or 11 years – he and his wife retired at age 30. The catch, of course, is saving at least two-thirds of your take-home pay. And he’s a bit hard core about it. Ditch the car and use a bike. Ditch the fancy gadgets. Stop shopping at Whole Foods. Avoid convenience and comfort. He’s a superhero not just because he’s living the dream of an early, care-free retirement, but because he’s teaching thousands how to achieve “financial freedom through badassity.” Find out more at http://www.mrmoneymustache.com.
  • Zach Anner, born with cerebral palsy, learned early on he couldn’t do things by himself. A natural comedian, he found he had a much better life when he surrounded himself with people who were concerned with where he was heading and not where he was. He recently released a memoir, If At Birth You Don’t Succeed, and regularly posts videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/ZachAnner. He’s a superhero because he spreads the message that no one should allow limitations to derail their dreams. What will you chase?
  • Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, founder of The Flourishing Center in NYC, believes in harnessing the power of positive psychology. If you’re living a reality that doesn’t serve you, it’s time to change your thoughts. She’s a superhero because she knows humans are meant to flourish, and she helps them find ways to do that.
  • At age 24, Emily McDowell was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It didn’t just change her life, it changed her relationship with all her friends. Suddenly, when she most needed their support, they didn’t know what to say. Later, as a survivor, she found that her new role was as a “cancer translator,” telling others how to help others stricken with cancer. But they still may not know what to say. In fact, there are many times in life when it’s hard to know just what to say. She saw that the greeting card industry simply didn’t make cards for real problems, that they didn’t make cards that spoke to people. She created a line of greeting cards for the lives we live. She’s a superhero because she’s helping people say what they want to say.
  • The Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams wrote Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace and, more recently Radical Dharma, which explores racial injustice as a barrier to collective awakening. For years, she practiced meditation, but it didn’t still the helplessness she felt in the face of injustice. Part of her transformation was in learning that she had to stop fighting the pressure. When things go wrong, she says, your attention should not be on how to fix the problem but how to center yourself and be present, allowing the next step will show up on its own. She’s a superhero because she knows that how we feel is not our fault, but it is our responsibility.

What superpower will you use to change the world around you?

– Jennifer

Main Stage Inspiration Part 1

Last week I wrote about the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, in August. (If you missed it, click here.) For a week, Portland was chock-full of superheroes. Everyone I met was, in a word, awesome. But there were plenty of awesome and inspiring people I didn’t get to meet. Instead, I had a front row seat while they were up on stage.

  • Jonathan Fields, father of The Good Life Project, researched extensively into what contributes to a good life. It boiled down to what he called “The 5 Be’s.” Be intentional about the way you spend your short time on this earth. Be open to possibility. Be kind. Be yourself. Be still to cultivate awareness. Why is he a superhero? Inspiration aside, he’s just given everyone a roadmap to forming their own good lives. The book is available for pre-order through 18 October at www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401948413. For more on the project, go to http://www.goodlifeproject.com.
  • Michelle Poler, who created the 100 Days of Fear project and documented her results on You-Tube, found that embracing the unknown is like a blind-date with destiny. Maybe it’s a dud, but it could be mind-blowing. Rather than “What’s the worst that could happen?” she now asks, “What’s the best that could happen?” Typically, she says, the greater the discomfort and fear, the greater the reward. Over 100 days, she let a tarantula crawl over her arm, posed nude for an art class, went sky diving and sang karaoke. Is she still afraid? Yes, but now she’s more afraid of not acting. Why is she a superhero? She tapped into her inner strength and showed it’s possible to change the size of your comfort zone. To learn more, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dbNRGiqaaM or http://100dayswithoutfear.com. One great aspect of her documentation is the Emoji-meter, which measures her feelings ahead of, during, and after doing some activity she had feared. Her Day 100 fear, do a TedX speech, led to the following Emoji-Meter: emojimeter
  • Leah Hynes and Nazrin Murphie found that deep connections are a powerful currency. There are a few ways to start connecting with others. First, treat strangers as friends you haven’t met yet. Second, don’t over think it – just act. Third, show up and be there. Why are they superheroes? They build community, which is a fundamental human need. For more info, go to http://theconnectioneffect.net.
  • Chelsea Dinsmore, widowed about a year ago when her husband, Live Your Legend creator Scott Dinsmore, was killed during a rock slide while they were climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, found that happiness is a decision. Faced with the loss, she had two choices: retreat into endless grief, or grieve but choose happiness and dedicate the year to growth. She’s pretty sure she has already faced the worst thing she will ever have to face. There’s tremendous power in believing that. Why is she a superhero? She didn’t let one loss lead to another. She knows that how you do anything is how you do everything. She has taken up the mantle at Live Your Legend, and she has chosen happiness. For more info, go to http://liveyourlegend.net/we-are-so-much-stronger.
  • Amy Jo Martin, author of Renegades Write The Rules and founder of the Why Not Now podcast, wants to see a world dominated by positive interactions. And she’s a superhero because she spreads the gospel of kindness.

All of these superheroes are working to inspire the world to be a better place. How will you inspire the world around you?

– Jennifer