Category Archives: Inspirational

A Great Weekend

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There’s so much good to say about this past weekend it’s hard to know where to begin. First and foremost, a huge shout-out to Zack James, Nick Papworth, and all the staff at ETSU-Con for organizing such a good show. You guys did a spectacular job, and I hope you will have me back as a guest again. The event was well-organized, well-attended, and an all-around good time. Everyone involved in putting it together should be proud of what you accomplished. The university should be grateful to have such amazing students capable of running a convention of this scope. Considering that this was only the second year of the event and the first for most of you running it, I’m excited to see what you accomplish in the future.

I also want to give a nod to my fellow guests, who I would highly recommend to any convention organizer. Charles Martinet, you are a first class gentleman, and it was an honor to share a stage with you. Thank you so much for your kindness, professionalism, and advice. Hopefully, our paths will cross again down the road. Robert Axelrod, thank you as well for your kindness. My only real regret of the weekend was not getting to spend more time talking with you. Martha Harms, it was a privilege to share your first ever con appearance with you. You have such a great and positive attitude. I wish you all the success in the world for your career. Aki Glancy, you have a bright future as well, and it was a pleasure to spend the weekend across from you in the dealers’ room.

I’m grateful for this weekend and the time I got to share with Tracy. She really made it special and enjoyed her first con experience. It’s a breath of fresh air to share my career with someone who gets that I have to step into the spotlight and doesn’t attempt to sabotage that. I’m grateful to have a lady like her in my life at last. She accepts me as I am without reservation and allows me to be me.

Stay tuned, folks. There are so many good things happening right now I can’t keep up myself. The dwarven invasion is underway, and great things are just around the corner.

An Old T-Shirt Made My Day

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When I first arrived at the dealers’ room at Con Nooga, I was greeted by one of my earliest readers who was wearing a Brotherhood of Dwarves t-shirt. First starting out, I sold those shirts along with the books as a way of generating additional income at festivals and conventions. There aren’t many of them left in the world. I only have two or three myself. Seeing one in public brought back a rush of memories and emotions that are hard to put into words, but I’m going to try.

I’ve written many times about my hesitancy to begin writing the series, so I won’t cover that again here, but when I made the decision to self-publish, I did so with full confidence that one day I would find my audience and be successful in the endeavor. The t-shirts were part of a larger strategy and were pretty popular, mostly because of their elegant simplicity. They definitely helped make shows less draining financially and increased visibility at many of those early events. In fact, the t-shirts are a big reason why John Rhys-Davies insisted on giving me publicity photos.

I had wanted to give him a copy of book one, but he had refused the gift and demanded a trade. He wouldn’t accept something for free, so he gave me an autographed picture of Gimli in exchange for the book. Later, his business manager (or girlfriend or both) came to my booth to thank me again. When she saw the shirts, she said he would love one and wanted to buy it. This time, I insisted that I would not take any money and gave her the shirt. A few minutes later, a furious (in a somewhat playful manner) John Rhys-Davies approached my booth and demanded that I accept something. We argued for a few minutes (an epic battle between Scottish and Welsh stubbornness) until he asked if I had a camera. My good friend Tilman Goins was in the next booth over and chimed in that he had one. Mr. Davies ordered us to follow him to his table, where he posed for the publicity photos of him reading Brotherhood. Those pictures sold a lot of books for me in the early days.

Because of my marriage falling apart and the implosion of the economy, I never got to do a second run of those shirts. When I finally was able to publish Red Sky at Dawn, I tried doing shirts for that book, but they just didn’t have the same appeal. Looking back, I wish I’d done another run of Brotherhood shirts instead of Red Sky, and I remember vividly wrestling with which one I should do. During this time period, sales for Red Sky were sluggish, very sluggish, because too much time had passed between the release of each book. Three years is too long to let readers cool off, and I constantly felt like I was starting from scratch at each event I attended. Finally, after three years of muddling through, I conceded that I’d gone as far as I could go as a self-published author and began seeking a larger press for book three and the series.

I’m grateful to be with Seventh Star, and today, the series is poised to explode (Stay tuned folks.  Exciting news is just around the corner). Moving to SSP was the single best decision of my entire career, and every day I am grateful to be a member of such an amazing team. But part of me still feels the bitter sting of my failure to succeed on my own. I poured so much of myself into those early years and came up short, and no amount of spin can change that basic fact. Although I accomplished some good things, my foray into self-publishing ultimately failed, not from lack of effort but from a combination of bad decisions, bad luck, and bad circumstances. No matter what level of success I may ultimately reach, I will always bear the scars of that failure.

But when I saw that beautiful t-shirt last weekend, my heart skipped a beat, and I was reminded of a time when my oldest son was still a baby and I was full of optimism. I remembered why I chose to dive head first into the publishing world and endure the criticisms and trials and setbacks and humiliations and triumphs and everything else the last nine years have brought my way. The Brotherhood of Dwarves is a damn good book that deserves to be on the market. The series as a whole, as I envisioned it back then and have since brought to life, is epic, and deserves to have an audience. Seeing that t-shirt reminded me of the things that are truly important. Whatever the future may hold, I will never forget the people who took a chance on an unknown author with an “ugly” book. I will never forget the people who encouraged me on my darkest days and nurtured me through my leanest years. You are my friends and family, and I am blessed and grateful to have you in my corner.

I’m D.A. Adams, and I’ve just begun to kick ass.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

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One of the lessons I try to teach is the importance of taking risks. Not everyone has the courage to step off the ledge into the great unknown, but if not for the people who do, we would never progress forward as a species or a society. Part of taking the risk is exposing yourself to failure, and as a man who has endured my fair share of failures, I can avow that the sting of falling short is palpable. In this society, we tend only to celebrate and acknowledge success, and we have developed this sensibility that prosperity is solely the result of hard work. When someone fails, society at large tends to blame the person for not working hard enough or not having the mettle to succeed.

But failure is a natural facet of risk. Plenty of people have started businesses or written books or performed music, working just as hard if not harder than those with success, and still failed. Maybe the timing wasn’t right, maybe they mistook the market, maybe they just never got their break. But two things I have learned in my life: hard work does not guarantee success, and failure is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Personally, I would rather endure a thousand failures than live with the knowledge that I didn’t have the courage to try. We as a society need to shift our thinking back to valuing efforts and attempts as much as we value success.

I’ve made the decision to leave education. It’s a risk, I’m aware. Instead of a guaranteed monthly salary, I will be forging ahead into the unknown of freelance pay. Instead of a benefits package, I will have to provide my own insurance and retirement. I understand those risks. The other night on Facebook, someone with good intentions questioned my decision. How will I provide for my sons?  How will I survive? She worried that I would regret the decision. On one level, I understand those sentiments. At my age and having been through as much as I have, I grasp the value of safety and security. I get that some people need the stability of a salary and cannot fathom the concept of living without a guaranteed income for the future. I get that.  I honestly do.

But despite the stability education affords (although that is dwindling daily under the business model), I find myself suffocating from the bureaucracy. Each and every day, the escalating problems within the system kill a piece of my soul. When I weigh the safety of a stable income against the toll it takes on my person, I no longer find it worth the sacrifices. I would rather risk absolute failure than continue down this path. There is so much more to life than a monthly income and job security, and with whatever time I have left on this planet, I intend to use my greatest gifts to the fullest extent I can.

For those who maybe worry about me, please know, I would not make this leap if I did not believe I could survive. There are mechanisms at work behind the scenes that I’m not yet at liberty to discuss, but please believe that this spring and summer are shaping up to be quite an exciting time. For the first time in a long time, I have real hope that my writing is about to become financially lucrative. While nothing is set in stone and there is still tremendous risk involved, I believe that the time is now. If I stay put out of fear of failure or insecurity about income, I will miss my window and wither away into a broken husk of a man.

So with that in mind, I’m stepping off the ledge, trusting that everything I’ve spent the last ten plus years building is about to come to fruition. I accept the risks, understand the gamble, and know that I may not succeed. But then again, I just might. Because the other side of taking a risk is that it offers an opportunity for a reward. It’s not that I write for money or fame or any of that nonsense. I don’t. I write because I must, because it’s the only thing that makes me feel whole when my children are absent, because people seem to like my characters and stories. I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life giving back in the form of teaching. Now, I’m moving forward solely on my creativity and writing, and I accept the risks involved.