10 years

Hey there, friends and fans! I hope life is flowing smoothly as schools are let out and summer heats us up. Things are going fantastic in some aspects on my end. Recently I worked with a local craft retailer and now my book (https://amzn.to/2KLRvsY ) is available in a real brick-and-mortar store in my hometown! The store, Between Friends, is located on Main Street in Tazewell, Va., so, if you’re ever in town and want to pick up a signed copy of my book, make your way there!! Of course, if you’re interested in a signed copy and don’t have the means to go to the store, reach out to me!

This year is something of a monumental one for me. Not only do I have my first print work available for purchase, but this year marks the 10 year anniversary of my high school graduation. Specifically Sunday, June 9, I had officially been out of high school for ten years. And it has been quite a whirlwind decade. I went from being a high school kid with dreams of published works, to being able to say my book is for sale in a local retailer, for one. For another, I went from thinking I knew something of the world, to being more than willing to admit there are still tons of things I would love to learn. But, most importantly, I’ve found the love of my life, I’ve learned countless life lessons, and I have an idea of just who I want to be when all is said and done.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching in my day and I’ve tried a lot of different career paths in the last ten years, and I’ve landed right where I am. In high school I was very stubborn and had little on mind besides my writing. Ideas and inspirations for teaching and other jobs would come into my mind and I would close the door on them. I wanted nothing more than my novels. By all means, that is still something I want for myself. The idea of being able to support my lifestyle and my family solely with my writing still brings a tear to my eye, but it has taken some focusing to really figure out the specifics. I find myself desiring to teach, to live an awesome life, and to enjoy every waking moment I have available to me. But it took some navigating to figure out.

I went for multiple jobs, in multiple places, and I still find myself returning to the desire that is deep-rooted in my heart. With each venture that I try, I find myself drawn more to teaching and to writing, and I remind myself time and time again of the days all those years ago when those were my dreams. I am one step closer to achieving those dreams each and every day, and in times of doubt that is what I try to look at. Basically what I’m getting at is I’ve fought tooth and nail – with the outside world as well as myself – to become the man I’ve wanted to be. I’ve considered my dreams and my destiny and everything else, and it always brings me back here. I may not have achieved my total dream yet, but I’m on the way. Ten years after I left high school behind, I’m almost where I imagined I would be.

So my message to all new graduates, or to those old ones who may have lost sight of their goal; don’t give up. Don’t put your dreams aside. Chase them until you can’t anymore. Nothing is too fantastic, too far-fetched. Nothing is impossible. You may have just been turned out in the “real world,” but that doesn’t mean you should hesitate for even one second to make it your own. We’re given a purpose on this earth. It may take some of us a while to reach it, or even to figure it out, but at the end of the day it’s there. You’ve just got to go for it.

Apply for that job you don’t think,you’re qualified for. Reach for the goal you don’t think is quite withing reach. Take the leap, even if you’re not sure where you’ll land. Even if you don’t reach your goal right away, you’ll be closer than you were. No one should live a live that doesn’t make them happy. Some of us may have to struggle to get there, but it’s worth it. After all, if we never felt pain or strain, how would we recognize peace when we finally reach it? Put aside the worries, doubts, old days, and old things that hold us back and keep us from making our dreams a reality. Whatever you’re going through just make sure you have a goal in mind. No matter how great or small that goal may seem, go for it. Don’t give up. If you feel like it’s your destiny, your purpose, your heart and soul’s desire – chances are it is. And it could be exactly what you’re made for.

No obstacle or dream is too big. What do you want to do no that you’ve put the old days behind you? Feel free to reach out and share!

An Incredible and Humbling Experience

Hey there friends and fans. I hope you are all doing well and that your craft and passion is going smoothly. My own work has been up and down as usual, leading me to feel a bit of self doubt and woe, made all the much worse by the fact that I have graduated college for the second time and still find myself having trouble getting full-time employment. But I digress.

As many of you may know or have remembered, this weekend brought one of the things I most look forward to in the year; the Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium. I first started attending the symposium four years ago and quickly fell in love with it. The opportunities provided by this convention are almost endless. A large portion of the Appalachian Heritage Writers Guild are present every year. These individuals are all successful authors, many of whom have a good portion of publications under their belts. The symposium consists of two days worth of workshops where these authors are asked to present and teach about an element of the craft, a specific genre or something of the sort (publication, editing, etc…always something that will be helpful to other authors). Each year there is one, at least slightly more famous, author who is asked to be the keynote speaker.

My personal experience with this symposium is that it is wonderful. Each year I have left the events feeling more confident in my work, my abilities and my future as a writer. In fact, some of you may remember that it was the symposium itself that led me to creating this very blog. How’s that for awesome? Anyway, this year’s experience was one that stood apart from my three previous ones for a number of reasons. Lately I have been a bit worried that my work isn’t quite up to par, that I haven’t accomplished anything, that I haven’t done anything positive or made anything of myself. I now realize that is because I haven’t done it all yet. My list of accomplishments (please forgive me here, I’m not trying to boast. I’m merely trying to show you all that accomplishments aren’t just huge goals or obstacles to overcome) is fairly large. As a student I was managing editor of a literary journal for two years and head news writer for a newspaper for one, because people had confidence in my writing. I have completed two of the three (or four) novels in my Maverip series. I have met the love of my life and gotten engaged. The list goes on and on.

I came to this realization because of the symposium. This year was particularly unique for me for a couple of reasons. One; I was asked to present a workshop. Me. The guy who feels like he’s a failure at least half the time. Members of the committee asked me if I would lend my expertise in the field of the supernatural to do a panel on Zombies and the Un-Dead in relation to Appalachian Literature. I humbly accepted and worked hard on a presentation that I may discuss later this week.

It was a success. People from all walks of life- at least one of whom was not the least bit interested in the topic until hearing me speak on it- attended and raved about the workshop. I had a number of people tell me how great it was and how much I made them think. One even thanked me for the ideas I had given her. On the second day I had people who had been unable to attend my workshop approaching me throughout the entire day telling me they’d heard such wonderful things that they wished they’d prioritized better. This made me feel like I was doing something right. I was beyond humbled to have these successful authors suddenly become my peers, while others became my temporary students. And the feeling that I was absolutely blessed only grew as I got the compliments I’ve mentioned. But one experience remains.

This year’s keynote speaker was the author Jeffery Deaver. For those of you who don’t know, Deaver is the author of the book The Bone Collector (and many more). I was able to get this genius’s autograph, speak to him face to face and even take a selfie with him. But the true humbling and mystifying part was that I got to be in a book signing with him. By that I don’t just mean that I fanboy’d and got his signature (which I did, obviously), but I was actually sitting at my own table, with some of my work in front of me, being asked for MY autograph. I literally signed my work while an international bestselling author was one table over signing his own. I’ve never felt anything like that.

I told you all of this because I was trying to make a point. I wasn’t trying to brag or exalt myself, I do promise that. My point here is this; We can’t let ourselves get down about things. No, I’m not a Nobel Prize winner yet. Not am I on the New York Times bestseller list. But I am an author. I am a good author (at least based on what I’m told). I have completed works, and even self-published some pieces on Amazon. Too often do we allow ourselves to believe that we haven’t done anything with our lives in one way or another. We are our own worst critic, and if we aren’t careful that experience can ruin us. If we wake up every day and tell ourselves that we are failures and haven’t or won’t achieve anything then we are setting ourselves ip for failure. We have to look at the things we have done, set minor goals and proceed. We are strong and we can do whatever we intend, whatever we dream. Don’t forget that. Stand strong, believe in yourself and try hard!

Support A Good Cause!!

Hey guys, I just wanted to give you all a reminder about UpLive. The site has been up and running strong since Sunday and has gotten a lot of positive feedback, but there are countless people out there who could use the type of inspirational messages we are trying to send. It’s going to take all of us working together to get it going strong and spread far and wide, so please make the effort. Go to the site, read the posts, share it with everyone you know. Share this post if you don’t want to do that. Just make sure that you help spread the message. There might be someone out there whose life really could be saved by the type of inspiration this site can give. It only takes a second to share, so come on guys, help us all out. In the meantime, whether you draw inspiration from it or not, I hope you will take the time to read the posts and appreciate the feeling behind them and the talent of those who have written them. If you like them, let the writers know. Feel free to comment and share. This is more for the public and those who need it than it is for us, either way. We don’t need gratification. We just want to help those who need it or could use it. Anyway, I hope you all had a great Memorial Day and a great first half of the week! The link to UpLive is below, please share and enjoy.

http://www.uplivedaily.com/

New Channel, Big Sale, Free Story!

Hello friends and fans! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and great start to your Memorial Day.I am working very diligently to find ways to bring you all the sort of advice and inspiration that you enjoy with this blog, and here are some ways that I have thought of. First off, I have finished reading the first book for my book club and I’m very excited to post my commentary video on Tuesday! I sincerely hope you will all join in on the fun and take part in the discussion. In the meantime I have decided to do a few things to help my work become more available to everyone who is interested. First off; my work “The Reaper and Other Tales” is now 50% off! That’s right, my bestselling work, a collection of short stories and poems spanning over three years worth of work is now available for half price! In addition to that, I have decided to put up another piece of my work here, for you all to have and (hopefully) enjoy! The story I’m posting here is one that was inspired by the big snow storms we had here in Southwest Virginia back in February.

Also, don’t forget about the new site, UpLive, that is now up and running. My first contribution to the site will be posted on Thursday, so don’t forget! The writers contributing to this site are some very talented people, and I am honored to work alongside them. Please share the site with everyone who could use a little pick me up or some inspiration. Here is that link;
http://www.uplivedaily.com/

I hope you will all take part in my book club and share it with everyone you know, also. This can really be a huge thing if we all pitch in and join the discussion! That link is here;
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC57mZlzf3sIL_rayJsxbFZQ

As for the sale I have begun, I hope you all enjoy the work and share it as well. If you do (or particularly don’t) enjoy the work, please give it a review. That is very important with this type of work. Here is the link to that book;
http://www.amazon.com/Reaper-other-tales-Damean-Mathews-ebook/dp/B00FSJX8DE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432567429&sr=8-1&keywords=The+reaper+and+other+tales

And finally, at long last, here is the story that I have decided to share with you all. Please feel free to comment on the work and give me any and all feedback on the blog and any of my efforts that you would like. Without further ado, here is the story entitled “The Last Survivor”.

The Last Survivor

Ice covers everything. Pain fills my body as the debilitating cold pierces all five layers I’m wearing, but I can’t stop. The cold is bitter, wind blowing in my face, drying my lips beyond repair. The frigid air chills and solidifies the blood that seeps from my cracked mouth. I close my eyes as I stumble on, feeling the sharp ice that has already formed over their bare, moist surfaces.

Opening them again, I see the bridge, my final destination and the stone river below it. There are no cars moving, their inhabitants long dead; murdered or frozen. The winter set in days ago, all forecasts seeing no end to the arctic freeze. I’m the last survivor of my group, possibly the last on earth. And I feel so alone. The railing of the bridge is coated in ice. I can barely climb on. Stripping off two coats, I prepare myself. The river below is frozen solid, the water still and unyielding.

The wind pierces my skin now as I lean forward, letting the frigid air swallow me up. Almost 1,000 feet below, the river rises up to meet me as the arctic air does its work. The ice takes my body as its own, I cannot move, can’t even blink away my nearly painless fate as one final thought crawls through my rapidly slowing brain. At least it will be fast…

The last survivor watches from his glass prison as the woman plunges downward. She lands ten yards from his ship, frozen in its place on the water, her body shattering into a million pieces as he feeds the last log onto the guttering fire. He can’t help but wonder, as his last few minutes of life are devoured by the flame, how long it will take for his own end to find him.

Big Things!

Greetings friends and fans! I know, I know, absences of late have been dreadful, but what can I say? School and work have been taking a great deal of my free time, and what they haven’t consumed I’ve been spending working on a number of things ranging from my three jobs, NaNoWriMo, and wedding planning with my fiancee. That’s right. My fiancee. That’s number one on the list of big things that has happened to me recently. I asked my girlfriend of two years to marry me, and she said yes! It was a beautiful thing, ladies and gentlemen, and I am a better man for it. Engaged life is great, too. We have already locked down a number of our plans, and we just got engaged on October 13th. Our theme, guest list (for the most part), colors, venue, date, menu and wedding party are all pretty solid already. I can’t wait!

Number two in the list of awesome things I have to tell you guys is the most recent and the one that may not excite any of you (although I sincerely hope you’ll all check it out). I have started my very own vlog series, to give everyone a glimpse inside the life of a college author (don’t you just love it when they use the title in the work itself…) and to show my friends and fans who I really am. Too long have I remained just a voice in the black and white, a light in the darkness (at least to me), now I want people to really see me for me!! So here’s your chance;
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2EU_YW9qBDfFWAB01Nc6wA
Finally, the very exciting and next to oldest news; I have been asked to be a presenter at the 2015 Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Symposium at SWCC! The Appalachian Heritage Writers Guild reached out to me and asked me to do a presentation relating zombie, the undead and horror fiction to the Appalachian region. They literally told me that they feel I am successful enough in my genre that I am fully ready and capable to teach it to others! The feelings that gave me! I couldn’t describe if I tried! I was elated and honored and touched and moved and excited and scared…and so many other things! Anyway, more information on all of these things is to come, but in the meantime you have the link to my Youtube channel so please subscribe and view and interact all you wish! In case anyone might be interested in attending the symposium this summer, here is the link to that information; https://appheritagewritersym.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading and being a part of this, guys. I really hope you all participate and stay in touch!

New ways to broadcast yourself!

One of the most important things to any up and coming author or artist of any sort is finding an audience, reaching your audience, getting your name and work out there. However you want to phrase it, that’s the issue. In honesty, it shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it is, given today’s society and technology, etc. But that’s really where the problem comes into play. Not only are there a plethora of people in the world today, there is an untold number that want to be artists and writers and all manner of things. Unfortunately, however, there are so many ways and places one can be placed online or advertised online that it is easy for others to overlook them, and in turn overlook their own opportunity and so forth. I want to share a little bit of information that I have found somewhat helpful in the last few days especially; blogging having your work advertised on other sites makes an unequivocal difference. One of the best things to do on blog sites, actually is to network and share. Which is where I think we could all help each other here. We need to share each other’s work and blogs and everything that we can. This will help each and every one of us to reach a new network of people, and if those people are asked to do the same, soon we will be in the presence of audiences we never could have reached on our own!

Recently I have submitted my work for display on two very important and high-traffic literature sites in the hopes that it will help spread my name, and so far it’s worked fairly well. I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. Goodreads.com and Authorsden.com are great places to advertise your work.

Another thing that is immensely helpful, as I’ve said, is blogging. Ask other bloggers to share your work and your sites and give you reviews. If you have shares, reviews and a fan base, others will be attracted to your work. I really want to help everyone here, so I’m going to extend the first invitation. If any of you would like me to share your blog, a portion of your work, or even just mention your name anywhere in my own network, please let me know. All I ask is that the favor be returned. Share my blog, my website, my name, anything and everything you can in your network and we will share the links with one another so we can see how many people see it. This can seriously start a chain reaction if we treat it right and can lead to a great number of us getting in the market in a great way. One of the biggest things we absolutely have to remember is that we are indeed a team, and teamwork is sometimes exactly what it takes to move mountains.

So there is your challenge, fans. Tell me you want me to boost or promote you in my own network, and do the same for me and we will both reach a broad new fan base. In addition to promoting you, I’m going to go further and commit that anyone who shares my work and I see it or get a link for it, etc. you will receive a free copy of my next publication, just because. Here is the link to my Author’s Den profile for your own viewing and to give you all an idea of what to put in your own.
http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?id=183154

Just to refresh your memory. The ways to reach new audiences;
1) Broadcast! Talk about and share your links and work anywhere you can
2) Author’s/Artist’s profiles; there are a number of web sites that exist only to help promote the starving artist- use them!
3) Coordinate; Help each other, advertise for each other, promote each other. Become a family and work together for the better of everyone
4) Blog; Share your work on your blog, share your blog on other sites, and especially reach to bloggers (particularly professional bloggers who a lot of people listen to)
5) HAVE CONFIDENCE AND FAITH! You have to believe in yourself and your work in order for someone else to do the same. Be proud of your work, it’s who you are. If you love it, others will too. Just share it and spread it and help spread that of your peers and let them do the same for you and let the fear of inadequacy or failure or whatever it is you’re afraid of melt away.

As always, thanks for reading and comments are very welcome. Please share my work and allow me to share yours, it really can change a huge number of lives.

Influence In Life

As some of you may know, last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium for the third year in a row. It was, again, one of the most fun, incredible and informative experiences of my life. In the last three years I have met a number of people who are incredibly happy and successful in the field that is my very dream. I am proud to call some of the highly esteemed members of the Appalachian Heritage Writers Guild very dear friends, and I am pleased to say that my own writing has drastically improved in respect of these symposiums, as has my drive to get my voice out there for the world to experience. I guess every writer feels that way at some point, but the long and short of it is that we do indeed have a story to tell, and we do have our own unique voice in which to tell it, so it makes sense that we do everything in our power to have it be heard. That may not seem important to some, but it is very important. Our voice is our life, is ourselves in essence and it deserves to be heard. Furthermore, the world deserves to hear it.  That is one of the best ways to look at it, I’ve found. We write because the words are in us, and the world deserves to hear what we have to say. Through the symposium I have heard very inspirational messages and have gained some very helpful tips, like starting this blog, for one. This year was no different. I read a story that is very much unlike anything I typically write and reveal, and the audience really seemed to enjoy it. I think that the story, which stemmed from a creative writing class taught by one of my favorite professors and most helpful mentor, Dr. Scalia, is something that I can pursue further, perhaps even turning it into a novel one day. Over the course of the last few days I have also found inspiration for number of other works, some older, one new, and I think that I will be working on them shortly. I hope to be able to place quotes and samples from these works either here, on Twitter, or on Facebook. I hope that you are all interested in these works and that you find this intriguing enough to check out my stuff that is on Amazon. As always, I welcome contact, suggestions and comments. Please feel free to get involved. This blog is intended to be interactive and helpful, after all. I want everyone to have both an insight into my life and work and to know they have someone to go to for any questions they may have about writing. 

Keeping Yourself Motivated

Everyone has that one (or more) thing that motivates them like no other. It might be something as complex as running for 5 miles in the morning, or it might be little more than a breath of wind through the leaves of a tree, but no matter what it is, it’s yours. This motivation is something that God instilled in you for a reason, remember that first. Secondly the thing that is really crucial is to figure out exactly what gives you that undying motivation that will allow you to write the next great masterpiece or paint the Sistine Chapel. It might be easy to find at times, but at others it might seem like you’ll never find it, and in these times the urge to give up may be great. Don’t. No matter what, if writing is really your passion you absolutely can NOT give up. Honestly that’s the case with any passion. Particularly one that others might not understand and ones that may not always just spill out effortlessly. However, it would be helpful in times of hardships to remember the times when it does pour out like water, but that’s another story altogether. You have to just sit down and get that motivation- even if it’s just from a memory of the thing that gives you that great inspiration. Not meaning to sound like a preacher here, but it really is the inspiration that moves us all. Yes, you’ll hear people say that if you’re a real writer you’ll write no matter what, and I’m not saying that isn’t true. That isn’t to say, however, that everyone doesn’t have that thing or those things that places the inspiration in your head and heart, it merely means that you can’t use a lack of inspiration as an excuse. Because some people do. There are those out there who use that as a crutch, saying that “I would write, but the motivation and inspiration aren’t there”. That’s shit. If you’re really passionate about something you’ll do it, plain and simple. Yes, it might be hard if you’re not feeling particularly motivated or inspired, but I find that, honestly if you push yourself just a little and get the ball rolling your own work can become the motivation you need to continue. You might look at that statement in regards to the rest of this post and say “well then what’s the point of all this”. The point is that yes, the path we as authors have chosen can be very hard, but it doesn’t mean we can give up. Inspiration can come at the drop of a hat one day and take hours to find on another, but the point is that we have work to do. Our voices deserve to be heard, do they not? We have a story inside of us that wants to be told so why should we place such a simplistic excuse on letting it out? You may also notice that I’ve used the words Inspiration and Motivation here somewhat fluidly and interchangeably despite their technical differences. That’s because, in my case at least, once I’m inspired I’m motivated and vice versa, therefore I think of the two as fairly synonymous. Inspiration or Motivation, whatever you prefer to call it, can leave a serious hole in your intentions when they aren’t there, I won’t pretend that they don’t. But you can’t let that control you or your work. It’s about you and what you want, what you know is best. You have to set out and take the initiative, and very often you’ll find that it leads to a determination that is just as helpful. We all have our little things that help us get started, and they can be very diverse even within ourselves. For instance, one thing that helps me get going- and actually helped me set the real path for my Maverip series- is a good powerful thunderstorm. Anything powerful and God given can give me that feeling at times. Another thing you might find is that your inspiration might change. This is completely natural. The work within you has a mind of its own, your characters often have very real voices, and just as much as our tastes change, so do theirs. What made them present themselves today might not tomorrow. It’s completely normal and actually very interesting in my opinion. So don’t fret if that is the case. That’s about it for this post. The main things to remember are that inspiration and motivation are very important to a writer, but you can’t use them as a crutch or an excuse. When they are there, it’s important not to waste them, and when you have an idea that is nagging to get out it’s important to listen. That might be the subject of my next post. As always, if anyone has any thoughts or comments, feel free to leave them, and if you have any suggestions feel free to contact me with them. 

The Busy Life of a College Author

I must first sincerely apologize for my ridiculously extended absence. I have had such a busy time with school, work and moving into a new apartment that it all consumed me and prevented me from being able to post here. However, with over 50 hours of education observation to do, I was able to write a great deal last semester and am now on Chapter 21 of Maverip II. In addition to this I was published once more in Jimson Weed- this time after submitting a prologue to one of my latest inspirations!! What I hope to do with this post is open the doors again to everything that I started and hopefully be able to keep them open. I feel I have failed you all and myself for a while, but with a little luck and even more determination I know I can continue to help aspiring authors get the motivation it takes to get their work out there. I mean, if one slacker from the Appalachian Mountains can get almost a dozen publications under his belt, then anyone can. I would love to be able to get feedback on what sort of things you all want to hear about, also, so I once more invite you all to contact me so I know what sort of posts would be the most helpful to get my voice out to as many people as possible. I ask you all to invite everyone you know to read my blog, visit my sites and if they feel so inclined, purchase my work. I wish you all the best of luck in your writing and remind you to look for my posts again!!