Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Wanted: 1,000 Star Wars Fans and Friends

I don’t even know how to start this, really, so here’s what’s going on: Remember that sort-of-funny little story about my wife’s car conking out? Well, as it turns out, we have absolutely NOT reached the day where we can laugh about it, because as I sit here, staying up late unable to sleep, there are two possibilities. Either Jenn’s car is shot beyond repair, or it can be fixed – for an amount surpassing that of one of our monthly mortgage payments.

I realize in the life-encompassing gigantic picture of things, this matters exactly squat, but in the here-and-now small picture of things, it sucks awfully hard, especially coming on the heels of Jenn unable to work for two weeks because she had pneumonia.

Even though I’ve been building a pretty decent freelance career which I love, the truth is we’ve been playing a pretty hardscrabble game of catch-up ever since I lost my job last March, and seeing 2010 off to such a largely cruddy start in terms of things I can’t control – say, pneumonia and timing chains – is exceedingly disheartening.

I thought quite awhile about whether or not to write this post, because you know, in the face of all that can go wrong in a world and a life, our current struggles seem insignificant in comparison to so many others. But as a friend of mine put it when I was venting and simultaneously wrestling with this notion of feeling guilty about venting, “Yes, they’re relatively small problems. But that doesn’t mean they’re not real.” And you know what? It’s more important to me to try and do what’s necessary to take care of my home and family than to worry about whether or not someone on the internet thinks I’m whiny.

The super-frustrating thing is how relatively little it would take to set things on track. And here’s what I’ve realized: If I could somehow sell just a thousand copies of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years through Lulu – print or download(PDF download = Just Five Bucks),   it doesn’t matter – it would go an awfully long way toward making things a lot more OK than they are at the moment.

I mean, one thousand, right? Heck, even reaching out to people in just the United States, all I’d have to do would be to convince 20 people per state – less than TWO DOZEN people in each; less than ONE PERSON for every THREE COUNTIES in the country! – there are my 1,000 Star Wars fans right freaking there. And I know there are more than a couple outside these borders.

And yes, I know that some people prefer Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and I’m insanely grateful for every one of those distributed sales, too, but they bring in a significant chunk less than the Lulu direct sales, and at any rate, those take a few months to get reported anyway, while Lulu pays out monthly. And to be perfectly honest, things are desperate now and looking for a boost in April just doesn’t spark my hopes at the moment. (In fact, if you really don’t want to deal with Lulu and would settle for an electronic version of the book – I don’t have many physical copies on hand right now – shoot me an email and I’ll sell you the PDF directly.)

I am, of course, fully aware that this makes me sound like a chump, because I know damn well that a thousand is no small number – unless you’re talking about the internet.

My hope is this: Many of my awesomely supportive friends and acquaintances have, well, other friends and acquaintances, who, I’d bet, also know still more people. There is, in fact, no people shortage. And from the miracles of generosity I’ve seen accomplished online,and with the sheer numbers of people all willing to do something small that adds up to something heart-shatteringly incredible, I know that the right Tweet or ReTweet, the casual Facebook mention, the quick blog link or post in the right corners of the web are all it takes to just make amazing things happen.

To my fellow first-generation Star Wars fans, parents, and former kids of the 1980s who have already bought the book, you remain incredibly fantastic and endlessly encouraging  people, and I humbly hope you’ll continue spreading the word about it somehow.

I’m not asking for amazing – I’d just like to be able to tell my wife that everything is fine, and I’d really, really like to believe it myself.

January 27, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs | , , , , | 5 Comments

Writing, the holidays, and “Collect All 21!”

Without a doubt, this has been an interesting and adventurous and challenging and rewarding year in all sorts of ways, from relaunching “Collect All 21!” to Penguicon to the Towpath Marathon.

And, oh yeah, there was that thing where I was thrown headfirst into my freelance writing career.

“Roller coaster” doesn’t even begin to describe this ride.

I’m lucky to have a supportive and loving wife whose full-time job provides us health insurance and a measure of stability. Lucky to have the friends and contacts and encouragment to prevent full-on panic from day one.

There are, to be sure, fantastic pluses. I cannot possibly overstate how much I love working from home, and how much I’m enjoying the variety of editing and writing projects and assignments I’ve been offered. If this was only about the work, hell yes it would be totally worth it.

But it’s not just about the work: It’s about seemingly endless uncertainty, unpredictable pay schedules, the constant search for more projects, and the wrestling with budgets and tax puzzles. It’s about finding joy in earning just enough to no longer qualify for unemployment but still wincing at a monthly bill calendar that doesn’t care whether I get paid next Tuesday or in six weeks.

Still, I remain optimistic that by the time the one-year anniversary of my job cut rolls around in late March, I will be able to look back on it as far more of a promising beginning than a harrowing ending.

That said, it has not been an easy lifestyle adjustment, and with work slowing down as 2009 closes, Jenn and I are far more budget-conscious this holiday season than we have ever been in our 13 years of marriage.

What I’m hoping for this month, then, is to get a little holiday support for “Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years.”

I have 27 copies sitting here in my office, and I would desperately love to send them all off to good homes for the holidays, so here’s the deal: Shipping for a nickel.

For $15 – that’s cover price plus five pennies – per book, I’ll sign and cover shipping for “Collect All 21!” anyplace in the U.S. (With apologies to international buyers: I’m ridiculously thankful to everyone in the seven other countries who has purchased my book, but I can’t ship overseas for less than $12 – but if you’re interested in one of these signed copies at that shipping cost, by all means get in touch!)

All you need to do is drop me an email at booth (at) – there shouldn’t be any problems at this point getting these sent out in plenty of time for the holidays.

And if I do manage to ship out all 27 of those copies, I’ll keep taking orders for signed copies at the nickel shipping rate through Dec. 24, although obviously I’ll have to place my own new order, and those won’t be mailed out in time for Christmas. (Think of it as commemorating the 32nd anniversary of Kenner’s famous Early Bird offer for Star Wars action figures in 1977.)

And hey, if you’re buying (or hoping to receive) a netbook or one of the several electronic book readers out there this year – well, “Collect All 21!” comes in a PDF format, too, which I’ll happily send your way for just $5. (I’ll admit up front that I don’t know the specifics about which readers handle PDFs best and which might require file conversion, or how that conversion will look on each reader.)

If you’d prefer to order regular unsigned copies through Lulu or Amazon or Barnes & Noble, that support is also greatly appreciated, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the read.

I have no illusions that my independently-sold books will ever replace a full-time salary, but I am hopeful that these sales can at least cover a bill or two, or be responsibly set aside for taxes (yet another golly-gee-this-is-fun facet of the freelancer’s life).

I’ve gotten encouragement from far-flung corners and surprising voices since updating the book in April, and I am deeply grateful and appreciative to every person who has bought it, blogged about it, reviewed it on Amazon or Goodreads or Lulu shared it with friends and family or just dropped me a note to say it sounded kind of neat.

If you’re one of those people who has purchased or recommended “Collect All 21!”, heartfelt thanks one more time from my little corner of Ohio, and if you know a Star Wars fan, or another former 1980s kid, or just a generally geeky type, I appreciate your spreading the word, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter or your blog or wherever.

I’d walk through carbonite for every one of you.

December 1, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, running, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And now for something completely different: Star Wars. And baby birds.

The new “Collect All 21!” front and back covers have finally replaced the outdated versions that were hanging around on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, despite the fact that they’ve been shipping the revised edition for almost a couple months now. It took a little prodding – and a couple frustrating days where there were no cover images at all except the customer-submitted pics I posted out of desperation – but it’s fixed now, and that makes me happy. (Not as happy as say, if a few dozen orders were to be placed tomorrow – but happy nonetheless.)

And don’t forget: I’ll be at the Akron-Canton Comic Con this weekend with a nice supply of books on-hand, and they’ll be cheaper than ordering online!

Speaking of Star Wars, I got a nice surprise in the mail today: My friend Samantha who works at  Positively Cleveland sent me a Fanboys DVD. I finally saw the movie earlier this month since it never made it to a Northeast Ohio theatre (funny, of course, since, oh, it’s about a bunch of guys from Ohio and, oh, the writer is from Ohio and grew up here, and oh, the town’s name, “Shandal,” is a none-too-subtle anagram of Ashland, which is all of an hour from here). I enjoyed the movie more than I was prepared to: It really never reached its full potential for either greatness or suckitude, but being a first-generation fan, I was probably a little more forgiving of its flaws, and I’m looking forward to watching the extras and listening to the commentary track.

Finally, here’s your daily baby robin update – and looking at their development, I fully expect to find the nest empty any day now:

Quit touching me! Mom, Theodores pinching! Im tellllllling!!!!

"Quit touching me!" "Mom, Theodore's pinching!" "I'm tellllllling!!!!"

June 25, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, photos, science fiction, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Support Independent Publishing This Weekend!

There are five good reasons to shop this weekend: From today through May 25, grab the discount code off the front page for five bucks off an order of $25 or more (before shipping costs – I already checked for you!).

So, let’s see, to hit that magical $25 plateau (and then knock it down to twenty), you could order:

Two fun-filled nostalgia-packed 1970s-and-80s-flashbacking copies of “Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years,”


One “Collect All 21!” plus one alternate reality/love and friendship/phantom train story in the form of “Crossing Decembers,” a novel of “well-written weirdness,”


go for the Magnificently Bargainic DRM-free electronic download editions of both books (just a virtual five-spot each!) plus a print copy of Adam Besenyodi’s superb “Deus Ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Fan.”

I mean, you really can’t lose here. There’s a lot of good stuff on Lulu. Wil Wheaton has distributed his last two works through the site – and as it happens, he just did an intervew about it with The Washington Times; Julian Dibbell’s “My Tiny Life” is there, too, as is the big ol’ prank “Atlanta Nights,” which has a great backstory.

Don’t be afraid! Visit Lulu! Buy stuff! And have a great weekend!

May 22, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Fiction, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A day worth saving like an old proof-of-purchase

I had a hard time getting myself to sit at the computer this morning, since I spent an awfully humongous chunk of yesterday parked in this very chair and obsessively clicking and revisiting sites in wonderment and gratitude, and I’d like to spend some time with Jenn before she has to go to work, but …

Yesterday ROCKED.

Both Rebelscum and TheForce.Net posted stories about the new Collect All 21! revised edition, and Rebelscum added the info to its Jedi Journals database. I also added a fresh plug in the R’scum forums, which got some attention from fellow Star Wars fans – particularly the always-awesome Vintage Collecting gang.

Then stuff started happening:

For starters, the first few advance copies I ordered arrived in the mail, and They. Look. Sweet.

And then I got some print and download orders through Lulu;  and then at least a couple orders went through on Amazon (A reminder: I’m unsure about Amazon’s practice of updating the POD source files, as mentioned in the note at the bottom of my announcement post.). And then traffic to the blog started spiking, relatively speaking. My little Cornfield Meet cracked the Top 100 (No. 78 – woohoo!) of WordPress’ Growing Blogs list for the day.

All this was encouraging and steadying and humbling and adrenaline-inducing, and it was, I admit, difficult to re-focus for a short freelance assignment I was working on, but I managed to get it done amidst the constant clicking and refreshing.

By day’s end, Collect All 21! had its best sales day ever; I got a couple requests for signed copies once I get a good supply of books here at home (including one from Australia!); I’m working on lining up a podcast interview about the book; and I received an invitation to attend and sign at a convention.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not replacing a full-time salary with these boosts, and I’m still pushing hard for every freelance assignment I can get – I had a very promising phone call this morning – but to everyone who’s visiting, subscribing, ordering, downloading, emailing or sharing the link love, this space is woefully inadequate for expressing what your support means.

Thank you.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Collect All 21!” – New, improved, and stays crunchier in milk!


Reviews, excerpts, podcast readings and more “Collect All 21!” information here.

Order it from Lulu, or from Amazon, or from Barnes & Noble.

Okay: The milk thing I made up.

But I am psyched about announcing two awfully cool changes to the book! First, the most obvious:


This is the new kick-ass cover by Kirk Demarais, creator of the awesomely time-stealing Secret Fun Spot, artist behind this inspired cinematic family portrait series at last year’s Crazy4Cult show in Los Angeles, and author of Life of the Party: A Visual History of the S.S. Adams Company, Makers of Pranks and Magic for 100 Years. (His book’s currently unavailable, but Kirk’s been running a fun retrospective this month of old pre-packaged gags. Have fun. Don’t get sneezing powder on your hands.)

I found Kirk’s blog awhile back and took about three seconds to get totally sucked in. Realizing we probably had some common interests, I sent him an electronic version of Collect All 21! and asked if he’d consider doing the cover of a revised edition. As you can see, he stuck to my original concept – not being artistically inclined at all, I was giddy when Kirk said he liked the homage to Kenner’s old Star Wars Proofs of Purchase, because I at least felt like my idea was good, even if my execution was a bit clumsy – but made the final cover totally his own, upping the old-school feel with the black backdrop, the textual echoes in the title, and the twin silver bar graphics. And I love the subtle nod to the CMYK offset printing process used in packaging, with the tiny slivers of magenta and cyan around the blue-and-white logo.

I told Kirk all this in a probably way-too-hyper email after he showed me the reworking, but this is his well-deserved public thanks: This. Is. AMAZING!

You have to look inside the book for the second Collect All 21! upgrade: It’s a new foreword written by David Morgan-Mar, of whom I’ve been a fan for several years now.

When I went looking for an independent voice to add an opening to my book, I wanted to find a fellow first-generation fan with a little, you know, Geek Cred. So, let’s see: David’s the creator of “Irregular Webcomic” – the hugely hysterical multi-layered comic which introduced me to his work – and the Star Wars prequel/roleplaying mashup webcomic “Darths & Droids.” He also writes and playtests GURPS roleplaying games, and for fun he’s done stuff like design computer programming languages for orangutans and evil necromancers. He’s got a Ph.D. in astrophysics, too.

So I sent him an email, and after getting a positive response, a PDF of the book. In return, David sent me an incredibly nice note about just plowing through Collect All 21! in sheer enjoyment. Within a week, he’d crafted a foreword that had me grinning for days and left me stunned at the wonder of living in a world where I can type to a guy I’ve never met, and who’s literally on the other side of the planet, and we can share similar experiences about growing up in the original Golden Age of Star Wars. (That goes for Kirk, too, by the way, minus the “other side of the planet” stuff, although we’re still several states apart.)

You’ll also notice that I tweaked the back cover slightly to match it up with Kirk’s design and incorporate a quote from David’s foreword.

I’m excited about sort of re-launching the book and reaching people who’ve either held off on buying or who haven’t heard about it lately because, well, I haven’t been talking it up much for the past few months. (Want to pass the word along? Here’s a PDF press release.)

Big, huge, massively supercolossal thanks to Kirk and David – and to everyone who’s supported me by reading and buying Collect All 21! since last July!

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, Games, geek, Ohio, Science, science fiction, Web/Tech, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan

I’ve been meaning to blog this all week, so hopefully I’m making up for my lateness (“I don’t feel tardy”) by putting it here now on Friday, where it will likely take up the top spot for a couple days while I’m traveling.

Deus ex Comica

Adam’s book is finally here.

I picked up my copy earlier this week, and seeing this thing in print after spending most of the last year watching it come to life (and even helping a little bit) is nothing short of fan-freaking-tastic.

I was never as into comic books as Adam was, but reading this collection of flashbacks and insights and pure love for the medium is just plain fun, and yes, this is a completely biased recommendation, but whether you – “or someone you love,” as they say on TV – are an avid comic fan or haven’t picked up an issue in decades even though you scarfed them up as a kid, you should read this book. I mean, Tom DeFalco wrote the foreword, for the love o’Pete.

I also owe Adam for this project providing me some inspiration regarding “Collect All 21,” but that’s for another post.

Now, go read “Deus ex Comica’s” intro and the first chapter at – it’ll be on Amazon soon, but seriously, why wait?

April 3, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Fiction, geek, Ohio, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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