You can find out more about Pitch Wars and what the point of the program is right HERE.
Before I continue, real quick bit since I noticed an influx of folks following me after the mentors were announced: hi, hello – I’m Angel. I write. I’m loud. I give a damn.
Cool? We’re done with the formalities.
That said, why the hell did I toss my name into this hat?
I don’t like pretending I’m anywhere near the word “successful” when it comes to writing. If you know me, you’ve heard me say that I’m more of a professional reject and an amateur success. I also don’t like the false pretenses that run wild in the publishing community because I feel it hurts new writers – myself included – in their endeavors. Choosing to chase a dream like being published is hard and I think there are a lot of things that can make it harder, especially when we don’t talk about them.
What I do like is helping people. I like talking shop and being honest and wishing folks well in their endeavors. I like feeling professional jealousy and working in parallel or in competition with peers or those above me.
In my short time writing with a goal, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have writers who have helped me at nearly every step without anything asked of me. In my mind, doing what they did for me is the best way to show my appreciation and that’s ultimately why I chose to put Pitch Wars onto my plate. We’re fortunate enough to work in a world where there is always opportunity to uplift each other and watch each other accomplish great things.
So I’m thrilled at the idea of paying it forward and I am so excited to see what the next few months bring. Best of luck to all the Pitch Wars applicants. Don’t overthink it and don’t overdo it. You put in the work and the work will be noticed.
A while back I wrote a little piece about treating my writing like project management (heavily informed by my own project management experience (Six Sigma and Agile Lean, yo).
That said, I think it’s still an important part of the way I treat my work – to break out the major milestones and try to parse out the work in a way that makes it very “readable” to me.
So, in the spirit of that article, I wanted to talk about something else that I’ve started to implement into my workstyle from my own corporate life – walking the talk.
You can have as many rules, guidelines, metrics, and roadmaps anyone can ever ask for (and nobody really asks for these) but none of it will EVER give you a whiff of satisfaction if you don’t execute in a meaningful way. Execution in a meaningful way doesn’t mean just doing the work too. Anyone can do the work but not many will apply principles to future work until it becomes standard operating procedure; until the principle begins dictating how you plan and execute.
An example to place this mess into a nice little pen: I started a podcast. This is nothing unique. There are a billion sources of advice on how to start and execute a project like this and at the end of the day, it’s super easy to follow every step and “launch”. Unfortunately, my brain does not work like that. If I follow a recipe I will deviate and I will inevitably stall out. I need to step back and consider how I learn and how I execute before I commit to action in meaningful way.
This meant taking a step back and finding a path towards the goal. That goal wasn’t merely to launch. That goal was to launch with a volume of prepared content ready, a process defined, and a meaningful first year goal already set. This also meant learning and I needed time to learn, so I did. I tried video blogging out. I played around with audio/video software and attempted other methods of how I approached subject matter. I also listened/watched a TON of content. I read articles on hardware and best options for exposure. I considered what I enjoyed and what I felt I can do. I acknowledged trends and thought about what I wasn’t seeing or hearing. I wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel but if I wanted to do this, I needed to do it right—for me.
There is a danger in going all in like this, even with proper planning and solution analysis: overthinking.
Once you’ve collected data points and start really working, you can easily find yourself in that loop of doubt that casts its ugly shadow when you’re trying to implement any new idea. When it comes to creative endeavors like writing or even a podcast, a lot of that doubt comes from wondering whether an audience will respond or if others will agree with your intent. This is an obstacle with any stakeholder driven project and can place you at odds with yourself (or others) while leaving the work in limbo—not a fun result.
What do you do in those cases? Well, you stick to your guns. My favorite part of taking my corporate brain and running a creative project through it is not having to worry about the hindrances of executive level hard stops, budget constraints that weren’t already defined, and ultimately, needing to give a flying fuck about anyone else. The last part is most important: you’re in a special place where the stakeholders (as loosely defined as they are) aren’t important in the short-term decision-making process. This is art, man, the only person you should answer to is you. If it flops, then your stakeholder(s) and audience have given you feedback. It’s learning for the next endeavor (when it’s time to get there, not like, right then. Stay on target).
Back on track. You plan, you study, you experiment, you fail, you plan some more, and then you execute. None of this should be new to you but it’s something we don’t normally externalize. We also never necessarily think about post-execution, or a control phase of sorts. You may launch and be effectively “done” but there is always room for improvement. You patch, you refine, and you examine efforts. You see where the wall is weak and derive next actions from there. You keep moving because you’re a shark and there’s not much room for stopping in this kiddie pool. You walk the fucking talk. You approach your endeavors in this way and win or lose you accomplish.
After all of that, you end up with a shiny new project you write a bunch of articles to get people to check out.
My next novella PULL & PRAY goes on sale July 30th, 2018 but you can preorder NOW.
Angel Luis Colón is the Anthony and Derringer Award-nominated author of PULL & PRAY (July 2018), NO HAPPY ENDINGS, the BLACKY JAGUAR series of novellas, and the collection MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES). His fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He currently hosts a podcast called the bastard title where he and other creatives talk shop and other nonsense.
His debut novel, HELL CHOSE ME, is due for release in 2019 from Down & Out Books.
30 writers. 2 beloved mainstays of the crime community. 1 victim. An AWESOME cause.
A few months ago I got an FB message from Dan & Kate Malmon – I screamed “YES” at my scream before I finished reading what they sent (and promptly realized I’d need to type a response, but that’s neither here nor there).
I’ll explain a little better. A scant three years ago I was hitting up a family wedding in a town called Roseville near the Twin Cities. Hearing I’d be around, these two absolutely wonderful, generous, and uber-nerdy (a great thing) souls contacted me to say they literally lived right there.
We went out for tots and I’ve loved them since.
Obviously, I’d drop everything to kill one of them on paper.
That said, my story is not the best in this collection BY FAR. I mean, look at this god damn list:
Hector Acosta, Eric Beetner, Dana Cameron, Sarah M. Chen, Matthew Clemens, Angel Colón, Hilary Davidson, Cory Funk, Danny Gardner, Paul J. Garth, Rob Hart, Ed Kurtz, Steve W. Lauden, Russel McLean, Jeff Macfee, Erin Mitchell, Erica Ruth Neubauer, Brad Parks, Thomas Pluck, Bryon Quertermous, Todd Robinson, Jeff Shelby, Nathan Singer, Josh Stallings, Jay Stringer, R.D. Sullivan, Bryan VanMeter, Holly West and Dave White.
Seriously, this is totally worth your time. Bonus? Proceeds go to the MS Society (speaking of which, if you feel the need to give them money straight up; click HERE).
MS sucks and if takes killing a Dan Malmon to help rid the world of it, hey, I’ll kill a Dan Malmon.
Oh, uh, sure, ON PAPER. I should add that in case “accidents” happen.
So, a little fun for the three of ya’ll reading. Back on Augist 31st, the Malmons invaded Manhattan! We threw a surprise Noir at The Bar to celebrate and since I take advice from some of the best at heart (thanks, Johnny Shaw) I wrote a short piece just for the event. I wanted to class things up and read a eulogy to the dearly, 30-time departed Dan Malmon.
Since a lot of you weren’t there (shame), here’s Dan’s eulogy. The poor, poor bastard.
While I’m glad we’re here to celebrate the life and many, many deaths of Dan Malmon. I think I should take some time to clear the air and admit my complicity in his 100% actual, untimely, yet unsurprising death a few weeks ago – even if he is currently tweeting about comics, use your fucking imagination.
I don’t think I need to get into the details regarding that awful Tuesday afternoon where Dan was discovered face-down in a ball pit at a Chuck E Cheese in Little Laos by a group of fourth grade students on a field trip—the medical examiner would say he somehow drowned—or that he was found wearing only a Chuck Knoblauch Yankees jersey that was two sizes too small.
It’s difficult, but I have to confess to how Dan was led into that shallow ball pit. About how he was dressed in that baseball jersey. I have to talk about the hunger I helped start in him; that insatiable appetite so many treated so lightly.
I am of course, talking about the Kit Kat problem.
I shouldn’t have mailed Dan those off-market Japanese Kit Kats. It was a joke, I figured, there’d be no way he’d even eat the damn things—they were sweet potato-flavored for fuck’s sake but eat them he did. Then he asked for any leads on online orders—seemed innocent enough—but apparently it wasn’t bringing him the satisfaction he craved after being exposed to so many flavors added in factories that clearly did not follow guidelines meant to protect humans and/or livestock.
I remember seeing him a few weeks before everything went sour. Dan was up to his ears in debt with the Laotian mob—who were selling him white chocolate Kit Kats dipped in cheap colored stevia; a common black market tactic. He was jittery. Kept asking me if I could ‘give him a break’. I didn’t know what else to do but give him a few dollars and the URL for a Japanese site that shipped to the states.
He did not accept the hug I offered, though. I felt like that was a good sign, that maybe he was down in the dumps but not enough to accept the physical embrace he so very much despised.
Everything after that is hearsay, but Dan may have fallen into a spiral of refined sugars, palm oil, and whey powder. He was getting heavily involved in the dodge ball gambling scene based out of a downtown YWCA in order to get access to their vending machines.
I guess I’m in the reeds. I’m sorry for enabling Dan to follow such a dark path. For giving him the address of that Chuck E Cheese after hearing the guy who does the voice of the animatronic bear had a line on cough syrup-flavored Kit Kats without confirmation. It’s a damn shame and I’ll always be sort of sorry for that.
That said, I intend to honor Dan’s final wishes—as detailed in the strange, broken English-riddled note found conspicuously next to his body that instructed us to cremate him without question and to leave any and all of his valuable belongings in front of the Chuck E Cheese he was found in. We are also, and I add this was a stipulation that was firmly requested to be read out loud tonight, we are also VERY MUCH CERTAIN THIS UNTIMELY AND ACCIDENTAL DEATH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE KIND, GENEROUS Mr. Keophoxai (“K-op-A-sigh”), WHO IS NOT AT ALL CONNECTED WITH THE LAOTIAN MAFIA, black market candy scene, animatronic voice over artist union. He is only a DJ at Jizzney Land Gentleman’s Club and he was working a double shift the night of Dan’s death who he actually did not really know at all when he thought about it.
So, thanks for coming out tonight and thanks to the readers. We burn the body tomorrow. It’s BYOB, by the way. Also, bring some extra cash. We’ll be collecting to help pay off Dan’s dodge ball debt.
Click all the links above. Go read. Be a better person.
Waiting on a delayed plane and a late connecting flight, so hey, I’ve got time.
The very last thing I did before leaving my second Bouchercon was shake Walter Mosely’s hand and thank him for being him.
My hands didn’t quit trembling until I had to pay my cabbie outside Louis Armstrong International.
This year’s Bouchercon – Christ – this was something. Given a little time to decompress and allow my shredded throat to not make noise – a motherfucking feat, I know – I still can’t peg this feeling.
I saw people I hold in high regard be recognized, I shared conversation with wonderful NEW people, and I talked shop in front of a willing audience of friends and strangers then signed pages with my name printed in bold letters on them – while one of my writing heroes sat next to me doing the same and at an obvious greater frequency (thanks, alphabetical order).
I sat on a set of dirty steps on Decatur Street and watched the New Orleans sun get mean while I drank coffee with just the right amount of chicory, walked the streets and shared my last beignet in town with some fella on a corner dressed as Darth Vader and dancing to Gary Glitter music.
I shared one of the better meals of my life as a guest of one of the most gracious and generous hosts I’ve ever seen and took every opportunity to show off pictures of my kids to the interested and equally uninterested.
It’s sappy, but yeah, I’m feeling all the feels right now. To live a life where I never felt like I was in the right place and to have a history where I did everything to belong outside of embracing what made me weird, loud, off-kilter – shit, what an amazing feeling to finally, FINALLY feel like I’m home and I only had to be myself. IT’s pretty fucking heavy.
Now I have to wait another year to pick up where we left off.
Big thanks to Ro Cuzon for the jambalaya and having me over to his beautiful home, to Jon and Ruth Jordan, Judy Bobalik, and Erin Mitchell for putting together an awesome program, and super big thanks to Kate Malmon for being an awesome panel mod!
Slán abhaile, we’ll raise our glasses again very soon.
So I finally finished the first draft to BLACKY JAGUAR AGAINST THE COOL CLUX CULT!!!, the follow up to my wildly acknowledged novella, THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR.
Only took about a year to write a fucking novella (among a ton of other projects, thankfully).
This was a tough one. Not because of any fears regarding expectations. I try not to think about how folks take the work once it’s pubbed and read. If they like it, great; if not, there’s not much I can do – them’s the breaks.
So why did this take so long?
Well, I probably chose a pretty terrible time to write a semi-satirical homage to movies like Walking Tall and Billy Jack in the modern American South while 99% of the racial insanity has been going on. It’s a tricky balance. There’s more characters here, more viewpoints, more opportunities to completely fuck things up.
But that’s the goal. Blacky works in juxtaposition with serious subjects. In Fury, we had the sex trade. In this one; social movements, exploiters of said social movements, and what comes when said causes become tainted. It’s slightly heady, but there are plenty of beatings and cursing.
Mind you, this is still a first draft, but I’m happy with it. I’m looking forward to folks meeting Broderick Kimbo, Erica Ramos, and Neil Clancy. They’re interesting characters and all have similar motivations.
Hopefully, I’ll nail the landing.
And hopefully, we’ll have more news about release soon – well, as soon as I mail Ron Earl the goddamn finished manuscript.
Extra also: I’ll hopefully have some more news about my upcoming novella, NO HAPPY ENDINGS, soon too!