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The Day My Life Turned Upside Down

It is kind of strange how you can be just moving through life and then something happens that just completely throws everything out of whack, changes everything in one instant, and makes you reevaluate everything – and I mean everything – in your life. That happened in my life on May 15.

On May 14, everything was normal. My wife Johanna was at work, selling shoes at CHAMPS. I took our son Ash to a carnival in the parking lot of the mall and made sure to send Johanna lots of cute pictures of Ash as he was riding rides and enjoying all the carnival games. I had finally started writing for 411mania again and my Alternate Takes columns were starting to take form for the first time since I stopped writing last year to get my Stephen King dollar baby book written and published.

I was getting ready to start the second draft of my new fiction novel Fallen Star and hoped to have it done by the summer.

Things were “normal.”

Then…

GoFundMe Medical Assistance

Johanna had left early Sunday morning for a funeral in Houston. I stayed home with Ash and we went to Best Buy, where I got him a flash drive for his tablet. When we got back home, there was a police car in front of our apartment. The police officer asked if my name was on a white Cobalt, and when I said it was, she asked if I have a young child. When I pointed out Ash to her and she informed me that Johanna had been in a car accident outside a town called Junction, Texas. She got me on the phone with a state trooper who only told me that she was alive but that was all.

I got no further news.

I called the hospital in Junction and found out that she was there. They said she had a punctured lung but they were able to inflate it. They were sending her to San Antonio to a trauma center there because they didn’t have what was necessary to treat her in Junction. They also said her feet were “really messed up.”

I got Ash in our van and started to drive to San Antonio. I had no idea what was happening. Finally, we stopped at a gas station (which ironically, I learned that Johanna had stopped at before her wreck when I looked at our bank statement) and I got hold of the San Antonio hospital. The nurses wouldn’t tell me anything but then the doctor got on the phone and had to tell me because he needed my permission to operate because Johanna was unconscious. He said that she lacerated both ankles. Chance for infection, which could mean amputation. Lacerated elbow and no blood circulation to her hand.

I told them to do anything they needed to help her.

The injuries were worse than I imagined.

GoFundMe Medical Assistance

Johanna almost tore her heel off of her right foot. It needed a flap and we found out over two months later that she also severed her Achilles’ tendon. She tore a lot of skin off her left leg and had to have a skin graft taken from her thigh to create the flap to cover it. The graft seems to have taken well, but she will need plastic surgery in the future if it is to ever look normal again. She broke her tibula and fibula on that leg as well.

She didn’t just lacerate her elbow – she severed the artery in it and dislocated the elbow, causing three breaks. They fixed the artery and got the blood flowing again. Because of the loss of blood, she has nerve damage in that arm and it only heals at a few millimeters a month. They fixed the break, but the elbow is pretty disfigured right now and also might need plastic surgery to regain a normal look again in the future.

Johanna also had some discoloration in the lobes heading to her brain. No one knows what that means, but what we do know is there was memory loss. She has no memory of leaving for her trip. I slept in her hospital room and was there 24 hours a day for almost a full month, outside of leaving each night once for food in the cafeteria. She was unconscious for four days and didn’t respond to anything. She woke up and was in and out for another week. She was awake normally after that but was weak and tired. I took care of her. I hand fed her. I made sure she had everything she needed while I was there.

When the school season ended, I had to leave to get Ash enrolled in summer camp (which was made free thanks to a grant by the YMCA due to our accident). He had been without me or his mom for a month and that wasn’t good for a six-year-old. Johanna and I decided that it was best for me to return home to take care of him while her mom stayed with her in San Antonio. Here is the kicker – Johanna doesn’t remember me being there at all – feeding her, taking care of her, talking to her. She has no memory of the first month after the accident.

My dad had a brilliant idea of starting a GoFundMe campaign to help us. We got nowhere near what we will need to make it through this, but received more than I could have hoped from friends and family who reached out. I also received money from people directly to help me eat while I was at the hospital and received money both from Johanna’s work and her old sorority in the form of donations. A friend of Johanna’s ran an Avon fundraiser for us and the dollar movie theater in Norman donated a percentage of their weekend snack bar sales to us. We received so much help and it is something we will work to pay back all our lives.

GoFundMe Medical Assistance

Here we are – 15 surgeries, two months in the hospital and another month in a skilled nursing center later. Johanna is still not back home yet, but I have been home with Ash since June. We are hoping to get her back to Midland by the end of next week or the start of the week after that, but at a rehab center here because she still can’t walk and is only at the start of her rehabilitation stages. We have a long way to go.

Johanna’s boss said maybe I should write a book about this entire ordeal. I like the idea, but in a different way. I don’t think I have it in me to write a non-fiction memoir about this entire incident and don’t think anyone would really want to read it anyway. However, I have been working in my mind on the second book in my now titled Steve Samson Chronicles, of which Fallen Star is the first book in the series, and I think I will implement this incident into the main storyline and that could give me a chance to really purge myself of all the feelings that have built up inside since I almost lost the only woman I love.

But, that means it is time that I reevaluate my writing career. I need to get to the point where I am writing my books, but with all these new medical bills, I am worried I won’t find that time. That is unacceptable. I will have Fallen Star finished and published before the end of this year and I will have the new book underway by the time that NANOWRIMO kicks up again in November. Last year’s NANOWRIMO really pumped up my creative juices.

But this means finding more economical uses of my writing time, finding some better writing clients, and probably stepping out of my comfort zone of entertainment and sports writing and finding clients in more serious topics to make the money I need to afford my time writing novels.

I’ll also have a short story ready to go in the next two months.

When May 14 ended, I was just coasting along. Writing for 411mania again, getting ready to proof Fallen Star, and just doing what I do every day of the week. By May 16, everything in my life was turned upside down and nothing that was important on Saturday mattered anymore. Things are improving and we will have Johanna back home soon. Until then, it is time that I really started working on what I plan to do for the rest of my life.

It’s time to get to work.

Another New Year Is Here, 2016 Edition

by Shawn S. Lealos 1 Comment

Happy New Year’s.

Well, 2015 was an interesting year.

New Year

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We moved to Texas. Not just Texas, but West Texas, miles from anything fun and interesting. It wasn’t something we really expected or wanted, but it was because my wife was able to get a promotion at her job by accepting the move. It is supposed to be temporary until something comes open back home, but we are making due.

While she was here settling in, and I was still back home in Oklahoma, I actually finally published my first book – the Stephen King dollar babies book, Dollar Deal. It was a big deal and I had been working on it for a few years now.

Sales have been very slow as it languishes in the midst of hundreds of thousands of other books on Amazon, but it has sold some which means there are people out there who have bought my book. That is a cool feeling, at least. It even has positive reviews on Amazon, which is cool. Nothing yet over at Goodreads, but I am patient.

So, what does 2016 hold for me?

Well, I guess it is time to start talking about New Year’s Resolutions, but I am not big on those anymore. I never follow through with them. I think the problem is that I always make resolutions that I don’t have complete control over. So, lets go with some that I can control.

1.

I started writing a new book last year during NaNoWriMo. It was my second time to enter and my first time to come out of November as a winner. 50,057 words for my next novel, Fallen Star.

See, the slow sales of my non-fiction book about the Stephen King dollar babies made me re-think my non-fiction book about the history of comic book movies. I put a lot of work into the Stephen King book and the comic book movies book would be even more work. So, with the idea of a year’s worth of work maybe delivering the same slow sales, I decided to move back into what I originally loved doing and what I actually wanted to do when I went to college a lifetime ago.

Fiction.

fallenstarcover2

Coming Soon

So, Fallen Star is a mystery novel that takes place in a world where superheroes are real. My hero is Steve Samson, a detective who is not a superhero and deals with regular crimes on the streets while the superheroes remain busy with the major threats. I have a plan for a series of books that will, eventually, lead into a trilogy where I actually delve into the heroes that I gradually introduce in this series.

So, I finish this book (I am about four chapters from the end) and then go back and re-write it (because first drafts are almost always crap, and the real writing takes place after the story is laid out on the page). Then, I will write the next one in the series. Get the first one edited and then start the third one. Once I get the first three done, I will start a release schedule and continue writing, working on building my platform and getting my name out there.

That is my first resolution this year. Keep writing, working, and pressing to make my mark.

2.

Get healthier. Yeah, this is a big one, but I am not going to pigeonhole myself with what I am going to do and then beat myself up for failing. I will just say “get healthier” and then do it.

3.

Get my business under control. I have to do a lot of freelance writing right now to make ends meet. My Stephen King dollar babies book didn’t do enough to allow me to focus on my book writing full time. As a result, I will do even more freelance writing and finally start to get things under control financially. Money don’t buy happiness, but a lack of money can do a lot to cause a lot of unhappiness. It’s time to proactively fix things so I can write more for my career than for others.

4.

See more movies. I lost my membership to the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle when they pulled out one of the rules that said me moving to Texas made me ineligible for the group, even though it is only temporary. That cost me the end-of-year screeners, plus there are no press screenings in West Texas. That meant that I missed out on a TON of 2015’s best movies.

It is time I found a way to rectify that situation, one way or the other.

5.

Last year, I also said that I would write more on this blog, and then never did until my Stephen King dollar babies book was out. I don’t want to promise that again this year and not follow through on it. As a result, I won’t say it, but I hope I will.

With that said, it is New Year’s Eve and they say that, what you are doing on New Year’s Eve will define your next year. Well, I was in the middle of writing a huge freelance assignment, so it looks like 2016 will be lots of work for me.

Let’s just hope that its work that will lead to some big things down the line.

Happy New Year.

Dollar Deal is Now Part of Kindle Unlimited

The website Through the Black Hole has published both a review of Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers as well as an interview with me about my Dollar Baby film, writing the book, and much more. Check out the Dollar Deal review here and the interview with me here.

Also, don’t miss out on the contest I am running to name the lead character in my new novel series. Prizes include a trade paperback copy of Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers, credit in the first book of my new series, and a free trade paperback copy of that book as well. Find more info about the book series and the contest here.

Now, for some new news.

Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers is now part of the Kindle Unlimited program. That means that anyone who has Kindle Unlimited can read the eBook as part of their subscription for free. It is also available now for Amazon Prime members to check out and borrow. Hopefully, this will bring more new eyes to the book and help increase its visibility on Amazon.

If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can now read my book and have nothing to lose. Also, make sure to leave a review and let everyone know what you think of the book. Good, bad or ugly, all reviews help, with the good helping to recommend the book and the bad helping me become an even better writer over time.

To check out, borrow or buy Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers, just click on the image of the book below.

Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers

Contest: Name My New Character

I mentioned that I had a pair of announcements coming up, but things have stalled a bit on one of them. I was considering an appearance at the Permian Basin Horror Fest last weekend, but chose not to attend after all. Another big announcement is on hold until further notice, but it could be a monster announcement if everything goes right.

Yeah, I know I’m not giving much information there, but there is a good reason for it. Trust me, if this comes to pass, I will be screaming the news from the mountain tops.

Well, here is the second announcement that I was planning on giving. I have chosen to move away from non-fiction novel writing for now, for various reasons, and have begun work on my first fiction novel. I am re-tooling an old mystery novel I was writing for a fiction writing class at OU and have set it up in a new world that I am building to turn this into an actual series.

I have already started to write the book, and I plan to put in the time to finish the first draft in full during NaNoWriMo in November. With that said, I thought it might be fun to have a contest here on my website.

Here is the idea for the world for my novel series: Superheroes are real and my hero is a police detective who works to solve murders that are often overlooked in a world where super villains are more dangerous, but the little people need protected too. The superheroes are really just background color for the series, although they will play into story lines in smaller, amusing ways. A good description would be Lucas Davenport in the world of the Dresden Files (but with super humans instead of mystical characters). I also want to keep the murders based in the human world, so this is not going to go in the direction of Powers, where the police are investigating superhuman crimes.

Here is the contest: I am looking to name my lead character – the detective. I would like to bring the readers into this and see if someone has a perfect name for a police detective in the world of superheroes. The person who comes up with the best name will get a free trade paperback copy of my Stephen King book, Dollar Deal, as well as their name listed in the acknowledgements of the first novel in this new series and a free copy of that first novel when it is published.

Use the comment section below to give your ideas and make sure I have a way to contact you if I choose your name for my new hero.

I’ll be keeping you guys updated as I work through this first novel and look forward to seeing the final result.

**

On a secondary note, there is a Dollar Baby Film Festival coming up in Minneapolis, Minnesota this month. I won’t be there, and my movie is not showing there, but there are some great ones screening. The event is Crypticon and it takes place on Oct. 23 through Oct. 25. I am sending three books to the organizer, Tony Northrup, to give away at the event.

Movies from filmmakers profiled in Dollar Deal include Doveed Linder (Strawberry Spring) and Warren Ray (Maxwell Edison). The other movies are adaptations of Deliver Glass, Suffer the Little Children, Beachworld, Cain, The Man Who Loved Flowers, Night Surf, and Love Never Dies).

Also, Tony interviewed me recently about Dollar Deal (if you haven’t bought a copy yet, buy it here from Amazon, and remember to leave a review on Amazon after you read it to help me promote my book). The interview, and Tony’s review of my book, will show up on the website Through the Black Hole later this week.

contest

Stephen King Dollar Babies eBook Going Amazon Exclusive

I teased on Facebook a couple of weeks back that I had some big announcements coming up. Well, the first one is ready to unveil and it has to do with the warning that I gave to non-Kindle users to get the eBook if they hadn’t yet.

Starting today, my book, Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers will no longer be available through Kobo, iBooks and other digital retailers. Instead, the eBook version will now be exclusively sold for the Amazon Kindle. For at least the next two days, it will still be available on the Nook, but that will end soon as well.

This doesn’t exclude people without a Kindle, as Amazon has a free app to read books online and through other devices. The Dollar Deal eBook just won’t be sold anywhere but through Amazon from now on.

This does not effect the trade paperback version of the book, which will still be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through the Dollar Deal website. Remember, buying the book directly from me will include a free autograph inside the book.

Also, with the holiday season around the corner, I am temporarily lowering the prices of the trade paperback and eBook for those who might be in a crunch financially. The trade paperback will cost $15 now (a $5 discount) – although Amazon and Barnes & Noble have yet to update the price. The Kindle edition now only costs $7.99 – that price is in effect immediately.

Also, I would like to request that people who buy a copy please leave a review on the Amazon sales page because that is how Amazon determines which books to promote more on their site. Good, bad or ugly – every review of my book helps get it into more people’s hands.

Next Monday, I will have the second big announcement and it involves my next book. Also, I am in talks to host another Stephen King Dollar Baby Film Festival, which I will announce when the plans are officially in place.

Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers

 

New Interview Online, Plus Hints About Future

New Interview Online, Plus Hints About Future

There is a new interview I did with the Oklahoma based newspaper The Oklahoma Gazette about the Stephen King Dollar Deal book. That article ended up as a great read, as the journalist reached out to In the Deathroom director Damon Vinyard as well as getting a quote from Stephen King himself. That was very cool. Here is the quote from King, and a link to the actual article:

“It’s just an effort to give a little back. Plus, I get copies of the films, which are usually interesting and sometimes quite brilliant. In a way, it’s like being a baseball scout in the minor leagues,” King said in a statement to Oklahoma Gazette.

With that out of the way, there are also a few Stephen King fan sites that have reviews of the book coming up, so that is pretty exciting.

Now, looking into the future.

If you are someone who reads on the Nook, Kobo, or iBooks, you might want to get Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers soon because there is a chance that I strike a deal that takes it off those platforms by the end of September. I will let you guys know more by that time.

As always, the book is also available in trade paperback and you can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through my website (and I’ll autograph any copies bought directly from me).

Next up, I am considering attending a horror festival in Odessa, Texas, but I am not sure yet if that is something I will do. I will let you guys know more closer to the end of September.

On a different note, I am in talks to possibly have another Stephen King Dollar Baby Film Festival, this one in West Texas in Midland, Texas. That should start to possibly form in the very near future, so if you live in Texas, keep your eyes out for that.

Finally, I have a pretty big announcement on my next book coming up at the start of October. I know this blog post has been a giant tease, but I hope that everything I mentioned here comes to fruition.

Thanks to everyone for all your support and I will be back soon with some more concrete news.

New Article About Dollar Deal Book in Oklahoma Gazette

This is a fantastic story about my Dollar Deal book at the Oklahoma Gazette. They also spoke to In the Deathroom director Damon Vinyard and even got a quote from Stephen King himself. Click here to head over to read the article.

“It’s just an effort to give a little back. Plus, I get copies of the films, which are usually interesting and sometimes quite brilliant. In a way, it’s like being a baseball scout in the minor leagues,” King said in a statement to Oklahoma Gazette.

Looking Back at Galacticon

I wanted to wait to write this blog post because I was very disappointed when I returned home from the Stephen King Dollar Baby festival at Galacticon. I am glad I waited, because I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus or rage about things that went wrong. Instead, here is a level look at the weekend that went wrong.

The Stephen King Dollar Baby film festival at Galacticon in Seattle was in the works for over a year. I met one of the organizers in Houston, which was both the last time that I hosted a dollar baby festival and the last Galacticon event. I put together a great number of Dollar Baby films and they also asked me to host another festival that they could make some money off of, this one with films by Dollar Baby filmmakers. I did my part.

In exchange, they paid my airfare, put me up in a nice hotel and gave me a table with the other invited guests.

I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening online, but maybe I should have. I got on the plane to head to Seattle and when I was at my layover in Los Angeles, my phone rang. I was informed that the convention could no longer afford my hotel room and they wondered if I could room with the organizer who put the convention together or pay for the room myself and let them “pay me back later” for it. I’m not stupid, so I agreed to room with someone else.

What I didn’t know until after I arrived was that the new room was not in the nice hotel with the rest of the invited guests but was in a small, roadside motel in a bad neighborhood. I bit my tongue because I then got online and saw what was happening and I knew that it wasn’t the fault of the man I was dealing with over the last year.

The person who was responsible for the main Battlestar Galactica guests had screwed up and ended up cancelling many of the guests from the new Battlestar show. Fans revolted, and although there were no refunds coming for the guests, many chose not to come and others warned people not to attend the event at all.

The guy who screwed up was fired and the guy I was working with busted his butt to make sure that the convention still went off as good as it could be. Many cancelled guests were invited back and some of them agreed to come. Sadly, one cast member named Aaron Douglas chose to have a pub run and convinced fans to skip the convention and come hang out with him for charity. Nice for the cause, but he screwed over all the vendors and the cast members who did show up. The guy I worked with made sure the convention was going strong and then collapsed, spending the next two days in the hospital.

So, I went to the first day of the convention, set up my booth and then spoke to the programming coordinator. She told me that she was informed the Dollar Baby film festival was cancelled. She then made a snide comment that I was really more of an exhibitor and not a true guest, but I got my table anyway. What I didn’t get was the Dollar Baby festival listed in the program, which meant it was dead in the water.

By the second day, I was moved from the portion of the convention with the rest of the guests to a table with the vendors, which might have been better for my placement if there had been any fans actually showing up. By the third day, I was ready to leave.

I sold three books, and the coolest part is that one of them was to Star Trek actor J.G. Hertzler, who gave me his card and was super cool talking to about the entire Dollar Baby process. I also met another indie author named EA Channon, who gave me some great advice about what can lead to success at conventions as a vendor.

I also shared as bus with some fantastic people, including the cast of Land of the Lost, Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, and Philip Paley. They were just the best people, and I am now known to them forever more as the “Crack Whore Motel Guy.”

A photo posted by Shawn Lealos (@sslealos) on

So, it was a bad experience and was very disappointing. But, there were positives to take from it and I am ready for the next experience. Keep your eyes out if you live in West Texas (specifically Midland and Odessa) for a possible next appearance for me with the Dollar Deal book.

Don’t think I am burying Galacticon. I just want Stephen King fans in Seattle who might have been interested in seeing the Dollar Baby films to know why that opportunity was squandered. Hopefully, I can make it up to you one day in the future.

That’s about it for now, but keep your eyes out here for some big news about the Stephen King Dollar Deal book coming at the end of September.

If you haven’t grabbed it yet, Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers is available on Amazon.com.

Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers

Dollar Baby Festival at Galacticon Postponed for 1 Day

The Stephen King Dollar Baby Film Festival at Galacticon 4 tonight has been postponed until Friday for reasons beyond our control.

I will let everyone know when the festival will be when I get into Seattle tonight, or tomorrow morning at the latest. I will still be at the Galacticon convention for the entire weekend with a table to talk to fans, sell my book, and sign autographs.

Stop by my table and you might actually get to see one of the Dollar Baby films as well…

Dollar Baby Festival at Galacticon Postponed for 1 Day

Dollar Deal is Officially On Sale!

Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers is officially available for purchase. It is still not up yet at Barnes & Noble for the Nook for unknown technical reasons, but there is a support ticket in and I am waiting for a response.

Also, for anyone interested, I will be starting a new series of blog posts over at shawnlealos.net that will trace my writing of the book and how I went about publishing it, down to the last detail.

Plus, this site is about to get really busy. Now that the book is on sale, expect a lot of additions to the site about each of the Dollar Baby filmmakers, including videos that they shot outside of the Dollar Babies, news and updates on their careers, and more. I will also start adding some Dollar Baby filmmakers not included in the book so you can learn about even more.

There was a story in the Yukon (Oklahoma) Review today about the book, but it doesn’t appear to be on their site. If you live in Yukon (which happens to be where I graduated high school at), check out the July 29 edition.

Also, there have been some photos online of people who have received the book already:

Mikhail Tank (Willa, My Pretty Pony) appears to be the first person to receive one:

Dollar Deal is Officially On Sale!

After that was Stephen King fan, Abel Vannay, from the Facebook fan group All Things King.

Dollar Deal is Officially On Sale!

Up next was James Cox (Grey Matter), who loved his lucky number 13 (his chapter number)

Dollar Deal is Officially On Sale!

And then, after all those, I finally got my first copies, which I will be taking to Galacticon 4 in Seattle this weekend to sell:

Dollar Deal is Officially On Sale!

Speaking of Galacticon 4 – Follow me on Instagram and I will lead everyone on my trip there for the Stephen King Dollar Baby Film Festival and more.

And, remember, here is where you can buy Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers:

Amazon.com – Paperback

Amazon.com – Kindle

KOBO

SMASHWORDS

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK

iBOOK (on iTunes)