Thoughts About Writing: On Seeking Feedback

BookhouseA few early Sunday thoughts with an eye toward writers.

First: “be careful what you ask for.” If you ask for a critique and you’re lucky enough to get one, treat it for what it is: another person’s opinion. The goal should be to improve your craft, so while you may not agree with the person’s feedback, there is a reason why they had it. Sure, maybe they’re a troll, but that’s easy enough to spot much of the time.

Second: “don’t take criticism as a personal attack, even when it is.” I come from a unique perspective since I honed my narrative voice in film critique before I seriously plied my trade as a fiction writer. My critiques have improved in the same way as my writing, an attempt to equally praise and point out needful improvements.

A writer wears many hats, but long after the idea, research, plotting, writing, editing, polishing and marketing, someone is going to read your work and your mind will be naked before them. It takes a lot to put yourself out there, and in today’s social media, people associate the author with the work – YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. Your fan base will not just remember your work but also you and how you acted, so unless you can elevate character assassination to an art form, be warm, be generous, and be humble.

And remember: thou art mortal…even while we play God with our pens.


My Panels for May 22-25, 2015 Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas

SpookyAuthorImageMay 22-25, 2015: Writer guest (confirmed) at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas. I’ll be on the following panels if you’re in any way entertained by what I do and so inclined to attend:

  • Friday, May 22 at 11:30AM – The Storytelling of Star Wars (Panel, PG, 1 hour) Panel Rm 03 – 350B
  • Saturday, May 23 at 2:30PM – No-Holds-Barred Critique Workshop (Workshop, PG-13, 3 hours) Panel Rm 21 – 352A
  • Monday, May 25 at 1:00PM – Must-Watch TV: The Best of Fantasy and Horror on Television (Panel, PG-13, 1 hour) Panel Rm 05 – 350C


Realistic Edible Fake Blood: My Tweaked Recipe

FakeBloodFakeOwYou can buy fake blood, but it usually isn’t edible. For a character cosplay I’ve been working on for conventions, I wanted a sophisticated, dapper, vampire-about-town…walking about with a wine glass filled with his preferred drink of choice. To look good up close, you need something dark red but not fake looking, thick and sticky like it’s just starting to clot, and believably cloudy. And hey, shouldn’t it be delicious?

Starting with three recipes I pulled from online, none of them gave me exactly the effect I was looking for. The chocolate-flavored ones seem to yield the best consistency (and taste), where one drop will hang on to the end of your finger forever, shiny and full of life.

Realistic Edible Fake Blood, Dark

  • Yield: 1/2 cup


  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1-1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 20 drops red gel food coloring
  • 1 drop blue gel food coloring


  1. In a glass mixing bowl, add the 1/2 cup light corn syrup.
  2. Add the 20 gel drops of red and 1 of blue (do NOT use too much blue). Mix until blended; looking good already!
  3. A little at a time, add in equal amounts of cocoa powder and corn starch. These provide consistency, cloudiness, and flavor. Allow time to mix these in; the longer you stir, the better it looks up close. Watch for clumps and crush them in!
  4. Pour into a sealed container and store in fridge until needed.

Notes: I tried using regular pancake syrup as a base and chocolate syrup instead of powder, but the cloudiness doesn’t look as good. The color is only slightly off in artificial lighting but great in sunlight; that may be due to the brand of food coloring I’m using. I’ll try a few different ones in the future to see if it makes a difference.


Guest Appearance: Comicpalooza 2015, May 22-25

I’ll be running a few panels (and running around in general) at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas at Comicpalooza 2015, May 22-25. Panels, cosplay, roleplaying, celebrities, and all that kind of stuff. Plan to come on out and say “Howdy!”