About John McGuire

Writer of comics and novels. In 2006 his first short story "The God That Failed" was published by Terminus Media in their debut comic Evolution Book 1. Since that time he has had stories published in Terminus Media's Evolution Book 2 and Evolution Special, Kenzer and Company's The Knights of the Dinner Table, and Four J Publishing's The Burner #3. Currently he is eagerly awaiting the digital publishing of his first creator-owned comic The Gilded Age #1 to be published online as well as his first novel The Dark That Follows later this year.

Kickstart the Comic – Sorghum & Spear – Book One

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

This week is one I’ve been looking forward to for a little while.

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Sorghum & Spear Book One

From Greene County Creative

Dedren Snead – Writer/Creator

Timothy Geathers – Art Director

Welinthon Nommo – Exterior Art and Concept Design

Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, April 17, 2017, at 7:00 PM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

When I first started researching this project, I imagined my mighty warrior goddess, Namazzi, holding a spear high to inspire her people as they charged into battle. As I created the mythos of the Eternal Realm and the first arc began to take shape, I wanted to relate my world with something that was symbolic to much of the story; something analogous but not obvious.

I liked the idea that sorghum is an ancient and powerful thing that originated from Africa; a gift that was shared with the world. The ability of sorghum to not just survive outside of its homelands but to thrive in other cultures and civilizations, eventually becoming an integral part of their legacies unveiled a mystical attribute I saw not just of this indigenous crop, but of the indigenous people it represented as well.

The “recipe” of Sorghum & Spear is that every character in our tale is growing and blossoming into something new.

The Story:

Sorghum & Spear is a fantasy saga that follows a group of amazing young girls who are called upon in a time of war to become the last line of defense against the SPORA; a pantheon of demons bent on destroying their people and conquering the Eternal Realm.

John’s Thoughts:

I first heard about Sorghum & Spear about 4 months ago when the creator, Dedren Snead, sat in on a Terminus Media writing afternoon. He had all these beautiful images of these powerful African women holding swords and bows and weird staffs with skulls adorning the tops. There’s magic and there are demons.

I don’t remember if I peppered him with tons of questions or just waited until he gave out little bits and pieces of information. Either way, I was hooked on the idea. Of course, then he broke the news to me that an actual comic book I could buy off of him right then and there did not actually exist… yet. He’d been building up to it, hoping to release a Kickstarter in the Spring of 2017 and… well, look what time it is.

The Rewards:

This Kickstarter is for the first issue of the comic book. In addition to some of the more standard reward levels (screen savers, pdfs and print copies of the book, as well as an 11×17 Glossy art poster), this Kickstarter has a couple of interesting ties to its origins with one level getting you 50 Heirloom Sorghum Stalk seeds and another providing you with a Namakula Wrist Bracelet showing you have contributed to Project Have Hope (who provides sustainable support and economic freedom to women in Uganda by offering their handcrafted jewelry on their behalf).

At some of the higher levels, there is also the opportunity to have your likeness drawn into the book as an “official Marduri villager”. And for those wanting a little bit more information about the world itself, at the $75 level you can get a 22-page print copy of Marlannah’s Hand Journal… really allowing you to immerse yourself in the world and the upcoming storylines.

Do you dare read the book?

The Verdict:

I was a day one contributor. It’s my hope that not only does this Kickstarter fund, but that it drives Dedren and Timothy and Welinthon and everyone else over there at Greene County Creative to put out more issues and, dare I say it, that Animated Series he’s teasing.

***

For more information on Sorghum & Spear – Book One, check out their Facebook Page here.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Kickstart the Comic – Delilah Blast #1

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

After a few light weeks, I’m ready to see what might be available.

***

Delilah Blast #1

From Evoluzione Publishing

Marcel Dupree – Writer/Publisher

Joel Cotejar -Artist

Ramon Burge – Colorist

Marco “ETDollman” Della Verde – Letters/Production/Edits

Kickstarter campaign ends on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 9:52 AM EDT.

 

The Pitch:

I came up with Delilah Blast in 2010 after listening to a Do Something by Britney Spears and Science by System of a Down. Once the idea was sparked, I spent a lot of time to develop the character because I felt like at the time there was a huge lack of strong female characters that depended mainly on their wits. After I mapped out the story, I wanted to make it all ages because at the time there weren’t many all ageas comics besides Tony Titans and Billy Batson and Power of Shazaam.

I met Joel on Digital Webbing, he agreed with my feelings. The 2 of us talked and spent time crafting a world that has elements of steampunk, 50’s scifi and post apocalyptic genres.

The Story:

Science runs the world and the Earth is governed by the E.S.A, the Earth’s Science Association. Everyone is allowed to join the organization on their sixteenth birthday, but unfortunately for Deliah Blast she oversleeps, missing the entrance exams and putting her dream in jeopardy. However, when another opportunity to achieve her dream presents itself, Delilah is more than willing and ready to take it, even if it means going to a dangerous alien planet to retrieve obscure technology that could change the world and Earth forever.

Artwork from Delilah Blast by Joel Cotejar

John’s Thoughts:

I’m constantly lamenting the fact that there aren’t enough people wanting to put all-ages comic books out there. I recall a Heroes Con a couple of years ago where I had to tell various parents with their younger kids that my table just didn’t have anything “age appropriate” for them. And while I’m sure they appreciated my honesty, I came away from that con wanting to find a way to do a comic for those fans.

Sadly, I haven’t managed to do that just yet, but it seems that Marcel Dupree and Joel Cotejar decided to take matters in their own hands!

The Rewards:

This Kickstarter is for the first issue of the comic book. As such, there are the standard pdf version of the comic as well as the physical copy for those more tactile inclined. T-shirts, wallpaper, and trading cards also make an appearance with each increase.

One of the things that I really like is as you go up the Rewards ladder, there includes an “Ultimate Edition” where you not only get the regular issue and backup story, but you also get to see the scripts and layouts. As someone who likes to see how the sausage is made, this often allows the reader in on some of the things which don’t make it to the page.

As you continue up the path, a couple of options stuck out to me, at $90 you get some Delilah Blast goggles – always a cool idea for Steampunk related cosplay. But the big one, the breakout, might be the $100 Best Friend level, where in addition to physical and digital versions (audio as well!), you get a “hand made Tikki Plushy”. That is a little bit of genius.

A plush toy of this guy. How cool is that? Artwork from Delilah Blast by Joel Cotejar

The Verdict:

These guys seem to be doing something to not only reach out to the younger comic readers, but also have some clever ways to potentially push their product down the line. And this is a great chance to get in on the ground floor!

***

For more information on Delilah Blast #1, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Ode to Azaleas

Sometimes we forget that our parents were once teenagers as well. Everything always seems like it could only ever happen to you personally… but we all struggle with the same things.

***

Ode to Azaleas

By: Mickey McGuire

February is supposed to be the month for lovers. Even though this is now March, I wrote this as a special tribute to all those young couples out there grappling with the intricacies of modern relationships. However complicated the relationship is, it still boils down to that famous line in the movie Notting Hill by Julia Roberts to Hugh Grant:

“I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.”

By the beginning of seventh grade, I was a towering 5′ 10” with a size 11 foot. In a classroom of boys who were at most five foot nothing, I had virtually no prospects for any of those boys I had grown up with showing any romantic interest whatsoever… unless they wanted to stand on a stool to give me my first kiss.

Sometime during the fall of that school year, a new boy moved into our community and joined our class. He was ruggedly handsome for a seventh grader, blond with blue eyes, soft-spoken, and TALL- probably six foot. I cannot pinpoint in my memory when I realized he was interested in me. I had a peculiar feeling before Christmas break he was actually staring at me and smiling once in a while. All that break I was giddy with excitement of the remote possibility there was a boy who actually liked ME, not the other girls in the class.

Once we returned to school after break, it was obvious the interest was a reality- we were a “couple.” My first real crush would last all of the remainder of seventh and all of eighth grade. The definition of being a “couple” was quite different in 1969- 1970 than it is today. Our relationship consisted of looks, smiles, occasional hand-holding, sitting near each other, and passing notes. Even putting his arm around my shoulders on the bus was met with stern looks from our teacher.

One spring morning I walked into class to my desk and found a gift so unexpected that I still tear up thinking about the sweetness of the gesture. There on my desk lay a huge bouquet of the most beautiful pink and white variegated azaleas, still dewy and fresh from just being picked from his mother’s bushes. Thinking back on that moment, I realized then I might be special- worthy of his attention as well as others with bouquets and promises and happiness and romance.

I did not marry my first crush. He wasn’t even the boy who would give me my first kiss behind the piano at our eighth-grade dance. His father left his family for a younger woman sometime during eighth grade. After that, he just wasn’t the same. Of the four children, I think he suffered the most from the desertion and added responsibility being the oldest. He would eventually drop out of school, get in trouble with the law related to drugs, and wander aimlessly from one relative or part-time job to another. Occasionally, our paths would cross throughout my high school years; we would date a few times, and then he would disappear again.

I have thought of him often and wondered if he found happiness. Through the grapevine, I heard a few years ago he attended his grandmother’s funeral in our hometown. He had married and had five children as well as a whole slew of grandchildren. I was happy for him- such fond memories of our summer afternoons together in my living room listening to 45s on my stereo- “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” “Layla,” the Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Chad and Jeremy-a sweet boy who would eventually figure things out- always kind, polite, nonjudgmental, never a mean word.

Yes, he eventually did kiss me right there dancing to those 45s.

I wished him well then and now. I wonder if that 14-year-old boy knew how special his gift would be that spring morning- a bouquet of dew-filled azaleas for his 13-year-old sweetheart. That morning she understood sweetness and spontaneity between a boy and girl and a promise of potential happiness in the future.

That giant of a girl would find her mate years later in college, have three children and a happy life. But that morning, the gift of those azaleas would be her first and most special memory of young love- that simple gift of flowers representative of innocence, simplicity, tenderness, and acceptance.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji, Part 2

Last week I started conversing with Nimesh about how he got his start in comics and got some insight on exactly how he sees his job of coloring in regards to telling a great story. This week we get into his work on The Gilded Age #3.

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Do you have a favorite thing to color (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

I do believe my colors works very well with SciFi, but I personally prefer History periods like Medieval, Western, SteamPunk. But this genre is a bit tricky, so me coloring this, the editors need to want clean shiny colors over muted muddy colors. My least favorite, I think, is working on a book where you don’t have any chance to be creative, to work on a book where, let’s say everything is established and all you need to do is to copy what’s been done.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

This one is a hard one. I do believe that today you can do whatever you want (well, in the past too, but now it’s more “easier”), so I will say the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world is Yourself. You are your own obstacle I guess.

If you could go back ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I think I needed to go a little more back and say “Internet”. In the future there will be this thing called Internet and provide everyone with more chances to do what they want.”

But if I had to go 10 years back I would say that the time I’m wasting learning 3D as a shortcut for not drawing is a complete waste of time. GO LEARN/IMPROVE ON DRAWING instead.

What is your worst habit?

Wondering off on social media. Dammit, that thing will get you!

Goals? One year from now? Five years from now?

My main goal is to make the Comic book industry my main profession. I’ve been working with Indies and I’ve been blessed with the money that it’s coming from this. Also I’ve been learning a lot. My goal for one year from now is to have a bigger client Rolodex that keeps me busy. And from 5 years from now I want to have worked for at least one book on Zenescope and Dynamite and I want to have clients enough to make me give up my regular job and just do comics.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

You did the coloring for The Gilded Age Issue 3 which has a dream sequence to start things off. It’s one of my favorite things in the issue, and I love how you really mixed in some of those darker greens and the red eyes following/chasing Hanna only to wash it away with the knight shows up. How did you land on that color scheme not only throughout that scene, but then contrast it against the rest of the issue.

I’m glad to hear that you like it, I also love that sequence and I do use that sequence as portfolio piece.

After reading the script and looking at the pages I noticed how this 3 pages contrast even artistically. For page one and 2 I wanted to showcase Hanna’s horror and the first thing that came to my mind was Nightmare on Elm Street. I went to see some scenes of the movie and I noticed that when Nancy (the girl from the movie) was dreaming and thus entering the Freddy realm things looked ugly, cold and disgusting. With the third page where the knight shows up I noticed that the artist made this shiny look to it and the first thing that came to my mind was a classical Disney Prince charming thing.

So I tried to translate this 2 feeling (the horror/disgust and the Prince that saves the day) in to colors. I believed the green on Hanna trying to escape would bring that disgust looking feel and it would contrast beautifully with the red glow of the monster while the next bright blue tints page would shine of readers face and evoke that prince charming saving her.

This was a unique scene on the book so I had to be very careful on my color choices because I couldn’t do it again in the book or the effect would be invalidated. So I’m extremely pleased to know that you felt that.

Did you have any favorite pieces within the issue you thought came together exactly the way you had envisioned?

Oh, yes, Page 5, Flashback scene. The muted colors worked very well in there in my opinion.

Also, page 10, that last panel, it’s so beautiful. The Artist drew it so well and with the colors laid down I do believe the reader feels Vanessa’s loneliness at that moment. It is a dramatic panel that I still today look at and feel the sadness.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a Project for Wayward Raven Media called Balloon World and I already have lined up to start coloring O Lusitano the first Portuguese superhero and 2 more projects that I can’t name yet due to NDA’s.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

If you guys could check out the Western themed comics that I’m creating that would be awesome I guess.

😛

I´m making it available in WebComics format on nimprod.com and you can read it for free (shameless promotion, I know).

I’m currently spending all my free time on coloring comics and practicing drawing as I’m going to draw my comic later on too but sometimes I take a break and watch some movies, TV shows and read Comics. Westworld is definitely a must watch, are any of you watching it?

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

Best place to see my stuff probably is my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nimeshmorarjiart/ where I post Works in Progress, process, and final pieces.

***

Nimesh also provided a little Bio:

My name is Nimesh.
I’m from Portugal and I’m a self-taught ComicBook Colorist. Currently I’m working in a freelance basis.

In my 3rd year coloring professionally, I’ve worked with publishers, such as Terminus Media, WayWard Raven, and Arcana. Titles that I’ve worked on includes: Carlton Harvey’s Soul of Suw, James B. Emmett’s The Committee, and Chuck Amadori’s Pale Dark.

With a background in illustration, I’m aware of how color can impact a story and my vision is to help creators bring dimension to their worlds. 

***

I want to thank Nimesh for taking the time to answer my questions. And I definitely appreciate his contributions to helping bring The Gilded Age to life.

And make sure to check out his Western Comic at nimprod.com.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji, Part 1

As a writer of comic books the first question people like to ask (after “so you draw the comics”) are – how in the world does that actually work? So many times those same people are completely taken aback by how many hands and fingers touch a comic book page before it becomes something they can see. Even then, it is a bit of magic.

I, personally, think one of the unsung heroes of the industry are the colorists. I’ve been fortunate to work with a couple of good ones in regards to The Gilded Age. So I reached out the colorist on the 3rd issue, Nimesh Morarji, to see if I could get a better handle on just what made him tick.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I would say I’ve created art as long as I remember. As a toddler we all do art I guess :P. But professionally I’ve been working in comic since 2013.

At what point did you sit down and decide to become a colorist? Have you had any formal training?

I’ve been wanting to develop my own comic book since around 2005. It’s a western themed book where Women take the lead in a shared universe. My ability to draw at that time was very limited as I gave up drawing a long time ago. So around 2005 I was trying to develop my comic using 3D software like Poser, and I learned a bit of modeling on Maya and 3DS Max, but the results never satisfied me. It always looked very stiff from what I wanted to do. Then after some frustrating years of learning Max and Maya, I started to look other options.

Digital Painting was starting to be a thing and lots of artist were posting stuff about it. I fell in love with what they were doing, so I started to learn that. Comics started doing digital coloring as a norm and comics were my true passion. I believed that with what I learned with digital painting could help me focus on digital coloring, I could always get some gigs and with that money I could hire artists do draw my comic, and I could color it.

It sounded like a perfect plan in 2010, After this amazing *cof* cof* cof plan set up, I saw a DC comic book colorist making some online course available with opportunity to One on One while we were doing the classes, so I decided to invest on that.

What’s the first thing you colored?

The first thing I colored professionally? I think it was The Almighties from Actuality Press.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I think Movies, TV Shows and books inspire me, I like to be entertained so I love to entertain as well. Favorite Artists in coloring are Marte Gracia and Justin Ponsor. I love the way they use bright saturated colors and make them look “real” with great use of lighting and the ability to tell the stories with colors. I will never forget how Gracia did a shock scene in ALL NEW X-MEN by showing the characters in black and white. I loved it.

I think it’s safe to say that Alex Sollazzo, Gracia, and Ponsor are my influences.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do?

My daily life is extremely busy to be honest. I gave up a lot of things in my life to work on this. Since I was a kid (we are talking on the 80´s here, and yeah I’m old)I dreamed working in the comic book industry, but here in Portugal there isn’t such industry. So, at one point I shifted to the movie industry but my family never believed that the entertainment industry would fit me as they wanted me to carry on the family business (being a commercial person or economist and stuff like that) so they pressured me to not pursue what I wanted.

I caved in and did what they wanted.

After living unhappy all my life doing things I didn’t care for or liked, I turned my back to everything to start over and do stuff that I wanted, so now with 3 years of professional career I’m betting all my chips on this and so far I can’t complain.

I do have a day job while I’m moving up on my career as a Comic Book colorist and coloring/working in this industry is what I want to do.

Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

To Market/Promote myself I usually post my stuff (as projects allows) on social media, DevianArt and such.

What’s your process like when you are preparing to color a comic? How do you make sure that you are enhancing the artwork?

I don’t believe that the colorist job is to enhance the artwork, I do believe that the colorist job is to help tell the story with colors. Creating a mood in a panel, making the reader feel the shock that the characters are feeling or making the reader feel the fear of the scene happening. This is what I believe the colorist is there for: to help tell the story.

My process usually is, read the script and take some notes of important dramatic things happening on the story then I do research. I go online and try to see some still images of movies or tv shows that tried to convey that drama, what they did, how they did, and I analyze all that. I like to color when I have all pages ready cause this way I can lay down colors on those important moments to help me set the mood of the book and create a guide line for the rest.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

How do you work? Music? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I prefer watching streams. I know, it’s odd. watching people work while working, lol. But yeah, I love to hear other artists talk about their experiences in life of art and that motivates me to work instead of wasting my time going on Facebook and such.

(to be honest, you will find me more on social media when I’m at my regular day job rather than when I’m working on comics :P)

What have you worked on previously?

On comics? I started on a webcomic dedicated to Marvel’s character called NOVA, and then I worked on the Almighties. After that I met Chuck Amadori online and it led me to work with Isle Squared Comics on a couple of titles and later they helped me develop my Western comics. Wayward Raven Media got me for 3 of their titles (currently finishing on one of it) and Terminus Media. Along all this I worked on 2 or 3 titles for Portuguese comics. I’m currently coloring the First Portuguese super Hero title (I believe it’s issue 5) and did some work for Arcana Anthology as well.

It’s been 3 crazy years going from my regular job to sitting on the computer and coloring comics in my free time.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

I try to avoid doing the same over and over again and on coloring its hard because even though there are millions of colors not all of them work well together. But I guess there are Blue/Orange colors that I keep doing most of the time, but I try to do more.

***

This is only the first part of my conversation with Nimesh. Check out Part 2 next week.

***

Nimesh also provided a little Bio:

My name is Nimesh.
I’m from Portugal and I’m a self-taught ComicBook Colorist. Currently I’m working in a freelance basis.

In my 3rd year coloring professionally, I’ve worked with publishers, such as Terminus Media, WayWard Raven, and Arcana. Titles that I’ve worked on includes: Carlton Harvey’s Soul of Suw, James B. Emmett’s The Committee, and Chuck Amadori’s Pale Dark.

With a background in illustration, I’m aware of how color can impact a story and my vision is to help creators bring dimension to their worlds. 

***

I want to thank Nimesh for taking the time to answer my questions. And I definitely appreciate his contributions to helping bring The Gilded Age to life.

And make sure to check out his Western Comic at nimprod.com.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

You Got Time Travel Mixed With My Steampunk!

This past week, Terminus Media debuted digital copies of their Team Up books: Terminus Team-Up #1 and #2.

Yours truly wrote the second issue.

Pencils – Shamus Beyale, Inks – Rich Perrotta, Colors – Ann Siri

From Amazon:

Terminus Team Up shows us the continuing adventures of Amber Fox, a woman who is tasked with recovering all manner of strange and powerful objects across space and time. And while she appears in this issue…

This story is not necessarily about her.

Nor is it about Lucas Knight, the inventor/scientist from The Gilded Age.

This comic is about beginnings and endings…

***

You can download it from Amazon here.

And don’t forget about issue #1, by our own Robert Jeffrey II, here.

 

Kickstart the Comic – Vessels #2: The Traitor and the Bear

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

The great thing about these Kickstarter projects is that many times even if you missed issue #1, they make it very easy to catch up.

***

Vessel #2: The Traitor and the Bear

From Card Shark Comics

Dave Cook – Creator/Writer/Publisher

Rafael Desquitado Jr. – Artist

Dennis Lehmann – Colors

Micah Myers – Letters

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 8:19 AM EST.

The Pitch:

Vessels is the brainchild of comic writer and multi award-winning video game critic Dave Cook AKA Car Shark Comics, and is a love letter to RPG gaming – most notably the From Software series Dark Souls.

It stars Wake, a gifted warrior with the ability to enter the realm of dreams and bend it to her will. She and her comrades G’Dala (a skilled mage) and Marillon (a master thief with a motor mouth – like Deadpool!) and tank-class D’Saahl set off to halt the imminent death of their world.

However, the laws of reality are breaking down as the Veil seeps into the waking world. Logic, physics and time are becoming convoluted, with weird and deadly effects, such as the giant teddy above which falls from the sky in issue #2.

The Story:

Our hero – a legendary warrior named Wake – and her companions G’Dala and Marillon must travel the land to halt the decay of reality itself, and unravel the mystery of the Vessels – five bloodthirsty knights hell-bent on stopping Wake from completing her goal.

John’s Thoughts:

One thing the regular comics scene doesn’t do very much of is fantasy based comics. I’m finding that sub-genre is certainly finding its footing through Kickstarter related projects. Vessels looks as if it is following a bit into Dark Tower territory with the idea of a more fantasy world suddenly coming into contact with very strange objects (see: a giant teddy bear). A world in transition with our heroes trying to save the day… or at the very least trying to let the world that they know hold on for a little bit more. And of course the enemies who will do everything in their power to ensure there will be no happy endings.

One other nice thing is you get a little sampler of the first four pages of Vessels #2 linked on the Kickstarter page.

The Rewards:

This is the Kickstarter for the second issue of the comic book. However, they make it very easy for you to immediately catch up with the series by offering reward levels containing pdfs or physical copies of Vessels #1 & #2. In addition, there are opportunities to get some prints… one of which is the excellent throwback to the 8-bit era showing our heroes as old-school video game characters. Lastly there is the opportunity to also sample a couple of their other series: Bust and Comichaus as add-ons to your Vessels orders.

The Verdict:

I love the opportunity to see how others world build (or maybe in this case it is world destroy). Fantasy settings offer all sorts of opportunities to shake up the genre and make sure you leave the readers guessing at what your next move might or might not be. Again, having a giant teddy bear drop out of the sky ensures this reader that things are going to be different from what you think.

And that is a very good thing. I look forward to reading it.

***

For more information on Vessels #2 and Card Shark Comics, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Behind the Artist – Interview with La’Vata O’Neal

Doing this comic book thing as a writer who can barely draw stick figures means I have to lean on the artists who work with me. There is a level of trust that must exist when you hand over your finely crafted words for them to work their magic. So far, I’ve been very lucky in this regard on all the various comic related things I’ve done, but that is especially true with the Gilded Age.

I was happy when I reached out to La’Vata O’Neal (who has done the cover for the Gilded Age Graphic Novel… more on that later…) and she agreed to an interview.

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working in comics since Mr. Tony Cade decided to pick me up to do some work for him.

(Tony Cade is the Editor-in-Chief over at Terminus Media.)

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist? Have you had any formal training? What’s the first thing you drew?

When I was little I was interested in shapes and figures, still am of course, anything that isn’t a number or word! Though, I’m interested in writing due to its creative nature as well.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I didn’t have an early influence back then because it’s really like an old love. It’s the serenity of it, though now I’m greatly inspired by many artists now, deceased or living. I’m particularly fond of old paintings because of the way they were able to capture a story in one image. They spoke with such power with just one image.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

I sketch daily and paint weekly, it’s like my fingers are possessed-

I’m joking!

I do sketch daily though to keep the creative flow. Whatever I produce in sketches I try to share and it keeps me relevant. I post to facebook, tumblr, and Instagram as the best way to market myself. At some point during the week though I’m always interested in learning new creative ways of doing art, so I’m usually reading up on some art form or for example how to do animation, etc. But At the moment I’m juggling a 9 to 5 job on top of the freelance business.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

I love both to be honest; traditional is more expensive so the digital helps keep the budget down-but both, all day every day if I could! My process is a longer explanation, but a lot of it derives from traditional practices.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I love to work while listening to music and if not music then an audible book.

What have you worked on previously?

I worked on a mobile game app, doing character design and illustration.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in you art? In regards to comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

Let’s see, reoccurring themes…Fantasy mostly, I’m most drawn to that I believe. But realistically, I’m drawn to anything that’s fiction as long as the story is good! As for putting my own spin on characters, it’s something I reserve for others to do at the moment.

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)?

My favorite thing to draw are fantasy characters, they’re interesting in their own way because they’re so dynamic and otherworldly. But as long as character has enough character they’re interesting to me.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I would say keeping afloat, isn’t that always the case though. It’s rough being freelance if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you could go back ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Wow…hm…I know exactly what I would say and it has everything to do with being more exposed to the art world. The more exposure the more you’ll understand.

What is your worst habit?

My worst habit…daydreaming, maybe? Lol

Goals? One year from now?

Let’s see, one year from now I look to be employed by a studio and not just doing freelance, I’d like to try being under some other artists so I can learn more.

For the Gilded Age, you worked on the cover to the trade (which is amazing by the way). I know we went back and forth with some ideas about how to present the characters, but it seemed like the tarot card idea just worked not only on a story level, but visually just nailed it. After we figured out that direction, how long did you work on those pieces – fine tuning them?

It might have taken me around 30 total hours to complete the cover. It was a very pleasant experience working on the Gilded Age trade cover!

Have you worked on any Steampunk style images before?

I have not actually but trying something new is always a learning experience and it can also be fun!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my own project which still needs time to develop but it’s in the works, so keep an eye out! 😉

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

Well that depends if people really want to know! I like being the mysterious type.

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

www.leonealart.com

***

I want to thank La’Vata for not only taking the time to answer my questions, but for being such an amazing artist. The cover for the Gilded Age Trade is ridiculous in every (great) way!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Not Like This

There’s a scene in the first Matrix where Cypher reveals himself to be a double agent, and in the process begins to unplug those who are in the Matrix… killing them. Switch knows it’s coming and can only mutter under her breath…

“Not like this. Not like this.”

***

I felt the same way watching the Super Bowl over the weekend. To see one of the teams you cheer for jump out to such a lead on the hated Patriots (come on, you’re tired of them unless you are from the New England area), and then to understand the avalanche is coming your way and there is very little that will deter it. Little by little the 28-3 lead slips away until I was left in stunned silence at the final outcome.

***

Being a fan of sports teams not named: New England or LA Lakers or NY Yankees, I don’t know what seeing the championships look like. I am an Atlanta fan and a Miami Dolphins fan for pretty much as long as I remember, which really means that in 30+ years I’ve only had the experience 1 time of one of “my teams”, the 1995 Atlanta Braves, winning the World Series…

And, if I’m honest, given that I had just finished my freshman year of college, I didn’t get to “enjoy” it. That year I probably watched or heard less than 5 games… just too many other distractions, I guess. I remember driving back from a non-sports watching buddy’s apartment and hearing on the radio that the Braves had closed the World Series out.

It was nice, but I didn’t get the buzz I assume everyone else gets from their team winning.

Last week, last week I was sure the Falcons would win. I’m never sure about anything in sports. I’m the guy who thinks a 30 point lead isn’t quite enough. I’m the one who calls for no shenanigans when there is a punt or kickoff in football because I just want a clean sequence. I never trash talk.

But I really felt good about the game going into it.

***

My wife apparently jumped past the Denial stage as she got up from the couch, walked around the side, slammed something to the ground, and had a few choice words for the universe.

***

Having one foot in the more nerdy endeavors my whole life causes some odd things when you mix being a fan of sports. So many times, regardless of what the “Big Game” might be, I get to hear (or read) people wondering if something is happening? Was there some kind of SportBall event going on? That they don’t understand it and don’t care (and I think some genuinely hate the fact that it exists, but I assume most are doing it in good old fun).

In the moments after the Super Bowl, I was suddenly envious of their lack of passion for sports. That they would never allow themselves to get so wrapped up in a “little game” to have it affect their emotional well-being. Was there a freedom to be had without such distractions?

Was that the better way to live?

***

Sunday night… I couldn’t sleep well. My brain trying to “Fix” the universe so that what I had just witnessed would have been the sports induced nightmare. I considered writing this blog at 3 in the morning. My wife and I ranted and raved laying there in the bed, still not sure how that ending even happened.

The bad guys won?

Why did you read me this thing for?

 

So silly. Silly to get caught up in something like this.

***

And yet… what’s the clichés?

Hope springs eternal.

There’s always next year.

I’ve got it…

Pitchers and Catchers report in 2 weeks.

Yeah, that’s the one.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

AP World History And Waffles

There are times when I think about what my friends and I got away with in high school. And then there are some of my mother’s stories about her students. This might be my favorite.

***

AP World History and Waffles

By: Mickey McGuire

I became a RN in 1978 at the age of twenty-one- my first major career path. By the time I reached my forties, I had practiced nursing more than twenty years, a major portion in the pediatric/neonatal field. Needless to say, I was burned out with the profession by then and had been contemplating a career change for some time.

The direction to take- the next fork in my life path- manifested itself in a dream. Never underestimate the power of dreams. Sometimes when you simply put the intent out there, the universe answers. In the dream, I saw myself as a social studies teacher in front of a classroom. When I woke up, it was crystal clear what I needed to do. I spent the next three years as a forty- something nerd getting my B. A. degree in history and social sciences.

My first job was teaching high school government to seniors and world history to sophomores later my preps would include several electives as well. By my fifth year of teaching, I was assigned an AP World History course, the most difficult to teach and prepare. I was determined to teach it perfectly and give these students their best chance for passing the AP exam. This teaching  intensity proved to ultimately be my undoing, and the reason this story is logged into those hysterical teaching days never forgotten by me or any of the teachers on my hall.

***

“Those words- AP and waffles- are two words that you probably would not expect to see in the same sentence. I know that I’ve been remiss in my blog writing, but as Millie explained in her blog, we’ve been BUSY!! (Millie is my best friend and reading specialist at our school. There was a time we both wrote education blogs.)

So, I have to tell you the story that happened just today. This week has been horrendous- so much to do- absolute brain overload. All teachers know that saturation point; your brain cannot deal with one more detail (Grades due next week, recommendations, meetings, parent conferences, daily schedule changes, writing a curriculum audit, planning a mock trial for my Practical Law classes, and actually teaching). I planned my lesson for AP World History 6th period, wrote and structured my notes, copied two readings for a group activity to conclude with, and was ready to go when they arrived. They all filed in, talking and chattering away, and reluctant to settle down.

I said my famous line:  “Today is a day I am not in the mood for any crap!”

Instant silence!

Wow, relieved, I began. A few minutes into the warm-up, I heard the first “beep.”

I looked around, told him/her to turn off their watch, and continued. I explained the pros and cons of the design of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan by a map. I launched into the stages of Spanish conquest. Suddenly again, I heard another “beep.”

I turned around and said to turn off that phone or watch, please. The kids sat there with blank looks on their faces, and no one offered any explanation. I plowed on, completely in the zone- asking questions, students answering correctly, everything great.

“Beep.”

I ignored it this time.

Finished with notes, I distributed the readings and gave instructions. Everyone was reading, making notes, and preparing to report on their findings on the treatment of Native Americans in Latin America.

“Beep.”

I could not figure out where that noise was coming from!

Now here I must mention that I let the kids eat in class anyway. They are always munching on cookies or sandwiches. I don’t pay attention to what they’re eating. As I’m sitting at my desk getting ready for the next stage of the group activity, one of the students comes to me and puts a waffle and syrup on my desk!!!

“There’s your waffle, Mrs. McGuire,” he said.

Now I’m generally fairly observant of my surroundings, but I have to say, I was oblivious to the waffle-making going on. As I finally looked closely toward the back of the room, what did I see but a waffle station! I had missed all the tell-tale signs: the waffle iron, the Bisquick mix, cooking oil, syrup, as well as the uncharacteristic, consistent silence during the lesson. I also missed the waffles being passed around as each one finished cooking. I also missed smelling the waffles cooking and the sweet smell of syrup. Thank goodness, this was the AP students and waffle-making, not sex or drugs in the back of the room!

Oh, by the way, it was a perfect waffle!”

***

Teaching proved to be the hardest job I ever had but also the most rewarding. Unfortunately, I did not realize that perhaps going through the mood swings of menopause and herding teenagers might just be too much for even the most sane. After eight years, I decided to leave the teaching profession before I was completely sucked dry emotionally.

People ask me even now why would I give up the salary of nursing for the pitiful pay our educators earn in this country. My response stands: I had the wonderful opportunity to realize two dreams in my life, being both a nurse and a teacher.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Why Collaborate?

Every day that I keep at this – the writing, the editing, the story-telling – I’m hopefully getting a little better. But much like an athlete who trains by themselves, eventually they must turn to others in order to truly gauge how good they are, where their deficiencies might lie, and what things they can do to simply improve overall. They say you can never improve unless you are playing with people who are better than you are.

It’s not that much different on the writing side. Except that writing lends itself more to the solo aspect. You could go days or weeks or months without any feedback on the next project you’re writing. The only comfort you gain is knowing the story is progressing. That, too, can be just as maddening.

I think it is why I not only like to collaborate, but I seem to seek out such opportunities whenever I can.

During the earliest days of Terminus Media, when it was just a group of 5-6 guys trying to figure the whole “writing” thing out. Times where we might not even know what we did not know. Every week was a new potential project, every week was a new idea presented by someone at the table, and we did our best to foster that sharing. You could see where other people were having problems, and hopefully, not make the same mistakes on your own work (you inevitably did, of course).

I started to learn how to accept (constructive) criticism by sharing my words with others. I learned that the best way to learn was to DO the work. If there was a project that needed something written, the following week was spent figuring out how to actually write a short film script, or a TV script, or a comic script.

One week I had no idea and the next, knowledge replaced the nothingness.

Years later, Mr. Neill and I were talking about a serialized possibility. Here we both were trying to finish novels or start new ones, but there was something about getting our heads together and seeing what could happen.

Hollow Empire happened.

The biggest benefit, unseen by me (and probably cursed by Jeremy later) was editing. You effectively add a partner in this realm as well. Hopefully their strengths can fix your weaknesses and vice versa. Perhaps you are a little too sparse in your descriptions and your partner too sparse on the dialogue – now’s the perfect opportunity to learn from each other.

In those first drafts, which Jeremy edited to the bone, my prose got a little tighter. When I got new chapters in from him, it forced me to push to get better. I wanted him to be excited when my emails came rolling in. We all need to be pushed. Having a partner, someone you are accountable to, means that when you aren’t hitting your deadlines then you’re letting someone else down. Building the world through these characters in a way that makes the whole work really about those characters more than about the “Big Events” which may be going on around them.

Getting better with every keystroke.

In the last couple of years, I’ve worked with Robert Jeffrey on a pair of projects. Each of us bringing some ideas to the table and we settled on one idea from each list: The Crossing & Entropy.

The thing is that with another head there, you obviously have double the potential ideas. However, you are really forced to push your own ego aside… for the betterment of the story. When it is only you, it means a singular vision, but it also means you’re pretty much confined to whatever the old brain comes up with. With another person contributing ideas, you have more opportunities to find the best idea. You’re no longer insular… BUT you have to be willing to allow the other person to have that idea. If you are the type of writer who can’t deal with writing “someone else’s story” then you might as well stay a solo act.

To live in someone else’s world where much of the original idea was someone else’s, but you could still be a cog in the machine and help it get further than it could have done on their own. The ability to make something better than one person simply through the ideas being shared and passed back.

But the best part is being able to lean on someone else to help carry a bit of the workload. And when Writer’s Block threatens to show up, you simply give your co-writer a call or email. That way they can talk you off the ledge, getting you back to work all the sooner.

The dirty secret about all of this, whether it is short stories, novels, comics, film, or whatever… it doesn’t have to be such a lonely pursuit. You DON’T HAVE to go it alone. You can help your fellow creators, and they can help you as well.

Hopefully each learning a little bit more through the experience.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

NES Games Left Off The Classic

Every year there is the IT toy/thing. Most years I am far too out of it to even know what the THING could be. However, given that I do occasionally partake in that odd thing we call video gaming, I knew what at least one of the THINGS were going to be this year:

nes-classic

NES Classic.

I gave it a go when Amazon first put them up on their website, and like most people I could never get through as every other person on the planet apparently wanted one of these consoles. I did my one attempt and figured I’d pick one up in February after the craze died down and the supply caught up with the demand.

Yet, I’m lucky in the friends I have. In particular, my old college roommate is a machine when it comes to getting these sold out items in a way that makes my head spin. So imagine my surprise when he had a gift for me this Christmas.

In the days before I had an original Nintendo, I often would hope for rain when hanging out with my buddy who lived down the street, as that would finally allow me to play these video games everyone else was talking about. Of course, scrolling through this set of games, those old memories flooded back. Various codes, long since buried to time, popped into my head again. Later when I was in college someone on the hall had a Nintendo which still worked (some decade later) and many rounds of RBI Baseball or Tecmo Bowl were played into the late hours.

After I busted open the Classic, well, we might have had to bust out some Tecmo Bowl action that night. You know, for old time’s sake.

Scrolling through the 30 titles, I’d say a quarter were ones I’d never played before (a couple I hadn’t the first clue as to what exactly they were).

It’s kind of like getting a greatest hits record from a band, only to find out they might have missed a couple of obvious choices, and maybe some of the ones included… meh.

The following isn’t to say I’m unsatisfied with the product. I’m certainly not privy to possible legal reasons a game was or wasn’t chosen. But I do think if they ever released more games for it (not sure how that could happen since it doesn’t appear to be expandable), these would shoot to the top of my own “Want List”:

pro-wrestling-star-man

Pro Wrestling

You’re not going to find Hulk Hogan or Sting or Ric Flair in this Pro Wrestling game. No, you’ll have to make due with such characters as King Slender, Giant Panther, Kin Corn Karn, Starman, The Amazon, and a couple of others. Here’s the thing, the game shouldn’t be very good. And at times it does turn a bit into a button smasher. But it has a couple of things going for it:

There is a storyline mode… kinda.

I’m not talking about the current WWE games with your ability to map a course to Wrestlemania. This is defeating 4 or 5 opponents in a row to get your first title, and then needing to defend it 2x against every wrestler in the game. Only then could you square off against the Great Puma in a match where your title and his title were up for grabs.

During this gauntlet, my friend and I would trade off on matches (if only to make sure our fingers didn’t break off!).

But the other reason is that this is a 2 player game, which the Classic only has 6 of (meaning simultaneous play), helping to fill that much-needed gap.

r-b-i-baseball-usa

R.B.I. Baseball

Listen, if you want to spend way too much time and effort on a baseball game, you can get all the MLB 2k16/17/whatever you want. For me, too many nights were spent in my dorm neighbor’s room learning how to strike him out. Adjusting the speeds, steering those late inning pitchers as they labor through the last of the line up.

Unlike Tecmo Bowl, there was no “just play the Raiders” type of glitch in this game (or at least not one we knew about). No, this was just about picking your team (if it was represented) and dueling it out with another person.

A slight caveat to this game, I’ve never actually played the one player version of the game. Since I didn’t own it, I only played against other humans (normally in some elaborate tournament set-up for a bunch of people on the hall).

dragon_warrior

Dragon Warrior

Technically this slot on the Classic is fill admirably (Final Fantasy isn’t a slouch at all, nor are the Zelda games), but in this expansion pack I’m building, there is always room for one more RPG game. Selfishly (well, these are all selfish choices) I’d want to see this game again because I never got to beat the original even though I owned it, worked my way all the way to the very end, and even confronted the last boss (Dragonlord).

You see, when you reach him there is enough time before the big fight for a conversation. In it, Dragonlord offers to split the world with you so that you both rule. Now, I know I’ve been fighting this whole game to save my people from this terrible tragedy. I ALWAYS wear the White Hat…

Yet for some reason I agreed to it. The screen fades to black, everything goes red, and that’s the end of the game.

Considering what a pain it had been to get to him in the first place, I needed to take a break from all the game for a while, and never made it back to answer No.

I need to answer No.

metal-gear-nes-_

Metal Gear

I don’t know much about the actual story of the game. I’m pretty sure you’re a guy, Solid Snake, who needs to blow up a base because the fate of the world is at stake. You needed to be cautious. You needed to sneak around. You needed to be COVERT.

You see, this was a game where you had to take your time dealing with the various levels. This was really the first game where it forced you to play differently than you’ve possibly played before. Brute force wouldn’t get you very far.

And yes, it was frustrating at times when an enemy spotted you just before killing you. It was also sometimes a pain in the ass to reach the other side of a seemingly simple board. Oh, and it helped to know where some of the special equipment was located.

Something about the idea of altering your play style. I think that’s worth another look or two.

Plus, it feels like a proper predecessor to the alarms of the police in the Grand Theft Auto series (with less stealing cars and more saving the world).

 

Honorable mentions: Spy Hunter, Paperboy, Castlevania III, Blades of Steel, and Rygar.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Kickstart the Comic – Grinidon: A Fantasy Graphic Novel Vol 2

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

There are hidden gems running around out there, they only need to be uncovered and enjoyed!

Artwork from Grinidon by Erwin Arroza

***

Grinidon: A Fantasy Graphic Novel Vol 2

from Grinidon

J. Miles Dunn – Writer, Publisher

Erwin Arroza – Artist

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 5:21 PM EST.

 

The Pitch:

Before beginning Volume 1, J. Miles Dunn spent more than twenty-years developing the story and characters of Grinidon. He wanted to create a world with depth and history to make the experience as rich and authentic as possible. Each character and faction has their own story and motivation, and as you read the series, you continuously discover new and interesting things to explore.

The Story:

Carnasus, the capital of the southern kingdom, lies in wait of its destruction. They know they cannot defeat the northern army that marches to destroy them, so if they do not find some way to prevent this attack from happening, these will be the final days of their long and bitter war.

In secret, and against the wishes of the city’s Regent, a disgraced knight has been tasked to lead a group of companions to assassinate the king of their advancing rival.

Artwork from Grinidon by Erwin Arroza

Meanwhile, far away to the north at the camp of Carnasus’ enemy, Prince Demetrius prepares the army for the arrival of his father – and begins a countdown to his own end, as well.

Artwork from Grinidon by Erwin Arroza

John’s Thoughts:

Sometimes the best part about missing out on the very first Kickstarter they did for Volume 1 is that you don’t have to wait to get some piece(s) of the story (assuming you’re looking at a digital version of the book). So it is with Grinidon.

More than that, what’s amazing is how Erwin Arroza manages to do so much with light and shadows in the preview pages. Every image conveys some level of importance with no panel out of place or unnecessary. It doesn’t matter if he’s showing us a storm on top of a mountain, or a fleet of ships with the sun at their backs. This world is immense. There is heart and soul in every shot.

From Dunn’s own backstory, TWENTY YEARS working on this story, I’m fully expecting an epic tale where the story pushes at every boundary a comic has to offer. To have the fortitude to not give up his dream at some point along the way (20!), it helps those of us struggling with getting our own projects out there something to aspire to.

The Rewards:

Whether you supported the first volume or are showing up only now, there are an assortment of potential reward levels to either scratch your digital or physical itches. At some of the higher dollar levels, $250 and up, you also have the opportunity to get your likeness used as a recurring character. Definitely a cool idea for those looking to possibly spend a little more in order to have this book see the light of day.

Scrolling down you get to see various images they are providing as 11×17 prints. Everything from the book’s logo to Volume One’s cover to an alternate print (“by popular demand”).

Something I really like is that among all of the other images from the comic, of t-shirts, and extremely cool acrylics, is a couple of pictures showing how your physical copy will be shipped. I don’t know if that type thing would sway anyone, but it is certainly a nice final touch. And it shows a level of detail that you might not always find with other Kickstarters.

One last bit of information… “Beginning now through February 14th, we are accepting submissions from our fans to create an alternate cover for Volume 1 of our series!”

While it might not directly impact the Kickstarter, I believe it could be another way of spreading the word in these last few days. And if you are an artist, it could be a way to help yourself out with a bit of exposure and potential art credit.

The Verdict:

These guys clearly know what they are doing as they’ve past their original goal of $8,000 with 5 days left to go. I’m excited to contribute to the project and can’t wait to read these two volumes!

 

***

For more information on Grinidon: A Fantasy Graphic Novel Vol. 2, check out their website here.

For the full information on the Fan Art Competition, check out their Facebook Page here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Black Mirror, Season 3 Review

Last year I sat down and watched this show that’d I’d somehow read about on some random blog somewhere (that internet rabbit hole again). The key phrase for me mentioned “Modern Day Twilight Zone” – at which point I said “I’ll be the judge of that blasphemy.”

black-mirror-netflix

So I watched and reviewed the first 2 seasons here.

For those not in the know, Black Mirror is an anthology show. Each episode stands alone to tell a story about how our technology or something perhaps not too far from our grasp affects people.

That phrase Modern Day Twilight Zone was closer to the truth than not. In fact, I only had 2 problems with the show: Episode One wasn’t a favorite & that there was only SEVEN total episodes to even partake. You see, those lovable Brits sometimes do “seasons” where you only get a couple of episodes of the THING you love. They get in and get out before you even know what hit you.

As an American, only having SEVEN episodes was a bit maddening. Were there going to be anymore? Why not do more? Is everyone across the pond lazy when it comes to their TV!?!

Netflix then is my savor. They got Charlie Booker to reach into the dark recesses of his mind to provide us with SIX more trips beyond the Mirror.

EP 1 – Nosedive

How many Facebook friends do you have? Twitter followers? Instagram? Tumblr?

What if your entire world was based on not only who your “Friends” might be, but how everyone rated you? This is the question before us in Nosedive. You see, if your rating (from 1 to 5) is high enough, then there are no doors not open to you. Let it slip and it might mean not qualifying for that loan, not getting into the best restaurants, and possibly not allowing you to even work a job.

The best part about the concept behind this episode is how it applies in virtually all aspects of your life. When you were High School the “pecking order” certainly existed. Who you hung out with, who you talked to, and maybe who you made fun of would slot you into your clique. For better or worse.

And like all of us who want to be liked, who want to have a better life… maybe we have to put on a face which isn’t exactly the one our true self would recognize. What would you do in order to get in with the “cool kids”.

EP 2 – Playtest

Black Mirror hasn’t really done horror… it might be horrific situations the characters get shoved into, but not the typical scary movie style. Well, at least they haven’t until this episode.

Playtest is about virtual reality. It’s about a game that digs into your brain to find the exact things which scare YOU. Hate spiders? Then you’re going to deal with spiders. Don’t like being alone? Get used to it.

And if that was all this episode had going for it, that would have worked. But you have to dig a little deeper than that. Past the arachnophobia or acrophobia and into the depths of your soul. What is that thing you won’t tell anyone else? What is the one bit you don’t want to dwell on.

What are you REALLY scared of?

laptop-camera

EP 3 – Shut Up and Dance

The fact that this episode follows Playtest is appropriate as it, too, deals in fear. Yet, this is about being exposed for something very real. We’ve read the articles about people hacking into our laptops and gaining control of our cameras there in order to watch us when we’re vulnerable.

Let’s say that happened to you, and being a teenaged boy, you might have been using the internet to… expand your knowledge of the female form… well, that might be something you wouldn’t want everyone in school seeing. And unlike American Pie, this isn’t a comedy where everyone is just going to think it is funny.

Given the chance to ensure the genie stays in the bottle, how far would you be willing to go?

EP 4 – San Junipero

You’re going to guess at this one and only be partially right. Set in the 1980s, our lead character seems to be out of place, visiting… on vacation in a different time. She’s getting married in a few weeks and needs to experience something (anything) before that day comes.

Unlike so many of the other episodes, even the somewhat sweet “Be Right Back” from the 2nd season, this really is more about what we could do with technology to help those people who need release the most. But really strip away all of that and it is about a girl who falls for another girl.

It is sweet. But the performances by the two leads (Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis) will have you believing and hoping for them to find a way to be together.

EP 5 – Men Against Fire

Warfare pushes technology forward more than almost anything else. And when there is a new technology developed outside of the war machine, they try to find a military use for it. Heads Up Display isn’t a new idea. Watch Iron Man to see it put to some of the best use. However, if it was a neural link? If the display was in your head? How much more effective of a soldier might you be if you could use tech to see where your enemies were inside a house with infrared vision?

What could possibly go wrong with such technology when you are fighting a war for the very future of the human race?

aggression

EP 6 – Hated in the Nation

A perfect bookend to this season. After “Nosedive” dealt with attempting to garner popularity, this episode looks at the other end of things. And given how the internet loves to hate things almost as much as it loves Cat videos, what happens when a serial killer suddenly is using the “most hated person” on the internet to determine who their next victim is.

If you go to the comments section of ANY article on the web, odds are high you will find some level of hate bestowed on either the original writing or perhaps the manner in which someone has said they liked the original thing. It’s not a simple “You’re wrong”, but more of a “Burn in hell, nazi!”

How do you stop people from hating? Can we be nicer online? Or does the invisibility of the process make any ideas of being better people a pipe dream?

Are there any punishments for the haters?

 

Black Mirror, Season 3… in our rush to conquer the future, we might be providing the very method of our downfall.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Answer the Universe

This past weekend the NFL regular season came to a close, and for the first time since 2008, the Miami Dolphins have made the playoffs (apparently “next year” was this year). Aside from being happy to actually have someone to seriously cheer for this coming weekend, it got me a little reflective. I’ve watched nearly a decade worth of games where my team might have been in the mix only to fall short or, and this is more likely, they haven’t been in the mix at all.

Miami_Dolphins_2013

That’s a lot of football. Actually that’s a lot of mediocre football.

Strange then that I suddenly am thinking of all that “bad” time to be a fan when this is the time to enjoy the ride we’re currently on. I think back to J Edward Neill‘s post from last Fall where he swore off the NFL in order to regain the most precious of commodities: TIME.

(I know he slipped at least once…)

Every team comes into the season with a list of things they want to accomplish. It may start with:

Improve upon last year’s team.

Win the division.

Get a first round Bye.

Be the overall #1 seed in the playoffs.

Win your conference.

And at the top of the list is win the Superbowl.

That’s not to say that they actually are able to even compete for such an honor, but it is still there. Heck, there are a bunch of the above which are probably above and beyond a team’s LEGITIMATE goals. The key is that they still write them down. And it isn’t because they want to set themselves up for failure if things don’t go their way. No. They do it so that there is something to aspire to.

target-bullseye

Last week I put up my annual look back/look ahead blog post. Here’s the thing, that post is like 98% for me, 1% for my family (in case they might be wondering what it was I actually do during these late nights), and maybe 1% for anyone else reading the blog. I use it in order to get a grip on what the previous year might have had in store for me (or not). The look ahead is about setting goals for myself.

Maybe setting too many goals?

That’s fundamentally OK to do. If the NFL teams only set their goal on getting 1 more win next year, well that’s probably doable, but then what? You get that additional win and stop? Or do you shoot for the moon on the off-chance you can actually get there?

This is what I’m trying to get to. This is the type of work output, the type of word count I need to get to in order to have the level of success I want to have. So you get a list of things which either seem like they haven’t been accomplished or there are just too many things on the LIST to possibly get done.

There is some truth to that. Like so many other people I have various levels of responsibilities in work and life. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time. Then again, maybe I just didn’t use all that free time as wisely as I could/should.

Regardless, I want to say YES to things. Can I write the 1st draft to this novel? Yes! Can I edit this 2nd draft of a different novel? Yes! Can I write this comic script? Yes!

yes

I want to say YES to myself.

Think about the whole idea of Resolutions in conjunction with the birth of a new year. Right now if I were to do a search on New Year’s Resolutions I bet I’d get a ton of blog hits where it was describing potential goals or perhaps telling you how to accomplish your proposed goals. But also think you’d find some people who want to mock the very idea of the goals. They might consider it a waste of time to even bother. “Everyone puts all this nonsense out there and within a week or a month or 6 months it will all revert back to who you were before the pledge.” Yet, I’d say we’re all doing it on some level even if we don’t say it aloud or write it down. There is something you want to accomplish this year, right? You may not want to call it a Resolution, but it probably is.

And it’s OK.

The kicker to all of this is that sometimes you set the bar impossibly high and you get there. Sometimes the ball bounces your way. So put it out there. Put it into the universe! Have 50 projects. Have a plan.

There’s nothing wrong with striving for more.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Resolutions, 2017

It’s gone… just like that. 2016. That bitch of a year that saw so many artists and creatives who touched our lives through various mediums pass on… it’s really only a couple of days left now. And it comes to me that I need to write my look back and then look forward for the new year.

And what I’ve learned is that the old saying “best laid plans” and all of that doesn’t always mean that you actually hit all the goals or even enough of the goals to feel like the year might have been a success.

But I feel like I’ve been creative. I feel like I’ve pushed some projects forward, but the madness of not quite getting to where you want to be, what you wanted to have produced is there as well. I can only blame myself for (most of) the things I haven’t managed to finish. So there while be boxes unchecked for this past year which will slide to 2017.

Writing Dark

The Look Back – 2016

The White Effect

The goal was to send it out. To try to find someone who might take a second or third look. Maybe, possibly, perhaps find a crack in the business.

I spent most of the beginning of the year sending out queries to various agents, and when that failed, looked to contests that might get me in front of editors. The ones who responded decided to pass.

That’s a little bit of a dagger. Death by a thousand cuts as it were. I was mentally prepared for that, but I’m not sure I was emotionally prepared for it.

The Edge of the World

Nope. Didn’t finish a second draft. Didn’t hire an editor. Didn’t do anything…

But I am in a different place with it than a year ago. I want to send it out. I want to see if maybe this one is the one.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

S.O.U.L. Mate

About 1/3 of the way through the first draft. This is both my big accomplishment and also another failure as I wanted to be done with it as well.

Where the hell did the year go?

The Dark That Follows 2

No update on this one.

The Crossing Comic

No update on this one.

Mystery Comic

Never got off the ground. Such is the way of these things…

Blogging

This is still on-time, every week. I’m not the machine that Mr. Neill is, but my hope is always that I make myself an asset for Tessera Guild.

Mystery Book

I did write a book this year. It was a present for my wife, and it took the majority of December to pull it off, but I got it done. I’m proud of that.

Short Stories

I continued to work on a handful of shorts, but didn’t get any of them to the finished point. Sigh.

blue-five

The Look Ahead – 2017

So in light of a year where not as much writing was done as should have/could have been… what’s the plan for 2017? Do I pull back a bit on the expectations? Do I try to set things up as being more realistic?

Nah. I need to push. I need to push myself.

The White Effect

Hire editor. Get published this year. Enough is enough. Time to polish this one and put it out there.

Edge of the World

Draft 2. Query Letters. It no one bites, find some other options. Worst case… hire editor. Get published by end of the year.

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft.

That seems realistic.

The Gilded Age

There is talk of a Kickstarter to help with the print costs in the Spring. Talk about maddening… this project shouldn’t have taken as long as it has. Could it be? Can it be? Done?

We shall see.

Short stories

See under blogging, but I need to finish up the few I have which are very close.

Veronica Mars Novella 2

Got delayed and pushed back. We’re soooo close at this point. So close. It will be published.

blogging-image

Blogging

Obviously I want to continue to not miss a week. The best thing about Tessera is that it provides me with an absolute reason to sit my butt in the chair and get the work done. It puts me on a schedule. Yes, the hope is that someone likes what I blog about and maybe checks out a book, but it’s as much for me as it is for anyone else.

This year I’d like to push it a little more. Find a way to have some regular columns. Maybe try to do a Kickstart the Comic once a month. Maybe a Behind the Comic every month.

I’d like to get some of my fiction writing on here. There is no reason not to possibly serialize something for Tessera. Maybe I just need to set my mind to it.

 

As per normal, I’m probably biting off more than I can chew, but… but… you never know. Maybe this is the year that I hit all my goals and some.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Ultimate Wish List

When I was a kid the Christmas Catalogs were the end all be all of what might be available for the holiday season. I’d spend hours flipping through the pages, looking at the various Transformers I could never deem to actually ask for. I mean it was one thing to ask for multiple $5 or $10 or even a $20 toy, but I want to say that this:

omegasupreme

Cost over $100 easy. Didn’t matter that it might have been the coolest thing EVER.

Now that I’m older we call flipping through the catalogs Black Friday ads or at this point just going to Amazon.com and seeing if anything strikes my fancy. And sure, these days if I really wanted that $100 toy it wouldn’t break the bank. So like everything else we must aim a little higher. If money were no object… maybe a Brewster’s Millions situation or say I won the lottery tomorrow, but maybe it wasn’t a lottery win where I could buy an island, just enough to get some higher end toys and see how the “other half” lives.

(Note, this is about “stuff” not experiences. Yes, I’d love to travel with my sudden imaginary wealth. This isn’t about that.)

brewsters_millions

3D Printer

$3-8,000

Years ago CD Burners were this mythical thing. Having the ability to copy someone’s cd directly instead of saving it on a tape? Having that extra space for easily transferring files back and forth. These were the pipe dreams of a younger day. But I spent about $200 on a cd burner while I was in college because no one else had one on the hall. And it got used to make copies of anything and everything.

This item though… what would I actually do with one? Probably dick around with it. Maybe make miniatures. Maybe make game pieces. I’m sure I could figure out something once I actually had it.

That’s not the point of the list. I don’t have to have an actual purpose designed for it.

avengers-4

Avengers 4

$6,000

For the uneducated, this is the Silver Age debut of Captain America. After spending two decades trapped in ice, a fledgling team of Avengers finds and revives him. What you might think of as the “core” team really comes to fruition in this issue. An idea that a lost relic from another age of comics could not only come back, but eventually be the heart and soul of that team…

While I own just over 10,000 comics, I’ve been in the process of trying to collect a full run of the Avengers books. The oldest issue I have is #9, and the bulk of my run really begins in the 130s and up. This would really be a true linchpin of any collection.

wsop-logo

Entry into the World Series of Poker Main Event

$10,000

We (my wife and I) play poker once a week at a restaurant. I have no illusions that this makes me anything other than someone who likes the game enough to play every week.

However…

There are stories all the time about some person no one ever heard of before suddenly has a nice run in the tournament. I’m thinking “I could be some person”.

 

Superbowl Tickets

$6,200

I know I discounted experiences above, but this is one of those that I could never justify the money other than within this blog. Vacations, even to exotic places, can still happen in my real life.

Mostly this is about experiencing the atmosphere, seeing a game the whole world is watching…

And maybe cheering on the Dolphins?

R2-D2 Moving Frig

$8,000

Because sometimes the real refrigerator is too far away.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Change Out The Calendar

new-years-day-2017

When I was younger I did the same thing every New Year’s Eve. As the clock began its approach to midnight, I’d start to get melancholy about what the previous year was leaving behind. I felt like I had to internally verbalize them. I would walk through every major accomplishment for myself and anything that had captured my attention in the world that year (to various degrees as when you are 8 or 9 you don’t really know much about the “goings-on” of world politics).

In this I was able to say my goodbyes, somewhat convinced that if I didn’t do this that the people and places and events might not mean as much to me in the future. Imprinting some aspect of those memories deep within the well of my brain’s knowledge. That somehow I was beginning to see Time with a capital “T” as this freight train rolling along and most of us its passengers for as long as it will have us.

So while many people were looking toward the future with hope and joy and just that tingling sensation because “This year is the year!” I was this kid who fretted and worried that because the calendar had changed it meant everything before no longer mattered in the same way it had only a few minutes before. That somehow the tether was broken and nothing could get it back.

Change is worrisome no matter if you are 6 or 60.

father-time-and-baby-1909

Those images of the Old Man and the New Baby troubled me. Everyone was ready to discard the old man. He’d had his life in the sun, but he was past his prime. It was time to embrace the new.

I always felt bad for that old-timer. Just by virtue of not being shiny and new it meant that his day in the sun was long since passed? Somehow that couldn’t be fair. He should be honored for what he gave, what he accomplished, and that meant taking a small amount of time to recount those things – if only to myself, well then I was going to show the proper respect to the passing of another great man.

I continued doing this for a long time during my teens. Year after year of saying this weird form of prayer by cataloging exactly what had come before. For me this was entirely about the past and not the future. Anyways, my future was marked by the end of the school year, something which didn’t occur until June.

Something changed in my twenties though. I don’t remember doing the mantra much during that decade. Maybe I did it once or twice, but that’s a complete guess. And I’m not entirely sure why it happened (or more to the point, didn’t happen). Perhaps it was because I was out and about many of those midnights with friends and the distraction was enough to  keep me from focusing on that negative of the calendar turnover. Maybe when you are on your own the world looks a bit different. Maybe because I was in a different school which didn’t have a clock measuring the days before I was gone (unlike high school).

My habit returned in my thirties, not every year, but enough that I notice them. Days long gone suddenly have a meaning that I wasn’t expecting.  You start creeping to the tipping point where you are closer to death and birth and again Time wants to crush you. It wants to figure you out, make you its bitch… if you’ll let it.

I think they really kicked in during what my wife and I called the black year (even if that year was stretched out over about 18 months). Multiple deaths with grandparents on both sides passing, our first pet as a couple dying (after 7+ years), and both of us getting laid off from our jobs (though, thankfully not at the same time).

When it came time to say my mantra during those years it was with a bit of hope and disgust. Finally, I wanted to kick that Old Man out on his ass. I wanted to forget everything about the bad and good of the previous year. As if not doing the mantra would make it so that these things would not have happened. The mantra was to look forward at potential possibilities.

2016 has been noted for the many celebrity deaths where the people were, in some cases, icons of their industry. I think for many of us this might be the first time we’ve ever had that happen to people who were a part of our lives through their music or their work on the various large and smaller screens. People we “grew up with” are now gone from the world. A true reminder of our own mortality.

california-highway

In the next couple of weeks it’ll be time to say goodbye to 2016. And while for most it will be done with a middle finger, I think I’m going to let myself take those moments again. Speak my mantra, and try to really record what I saw and what I felt leave us throughout the year. Not in an effort to hang on to the past, but in order to truly move on to a new path.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Kickstart the Character – Creation Process of Kaiya Blackmoore

It’s not just my fellow guildmate, Egg Embry, who has dabbled his toes into the Roleplaying Kickstarters. I have kicked in for a couple, here and there. Sometimes it was because of the game, sometimes because of the creators, and sometimes just because.

However, it wasn’t until Egg presented me with a fairly unique Christmas present last year that I ever got to participate in the creation side of the process. As he alluded to in his post “Kickstarter Reward Level: Vanity Press – Yrisa’s Nightmare and Rats in the Street“, myself, Egg, and our friend Leland all had the opportunity to come up with a trio of characters that would appear in Yrisa’s Nightmare.

Yrisa's Nightmare.

Yrisa’s Nightmare.

One of the things you tend to do when you roleplay, no matter the system, is create characters. Obviously you create the ones you are going to actually play, and then after you get them going you think of about 100 more that might be cool to play. I have folders upstairs of all the characters I’ve ever played in a game, but lost to time are the others who might have had backstories or perhaps some were just a collection of stats, never to see the light of day past some random afternoon or evening.

I like to think that this bit of daydreaming has come in handy for writing fiction. Novels normally have need of tons of characters – each the hero of their own stories. Perhaps some of those lazy Sunday D&D characters have gone onto a second life within some story without me even realizing it.

This was a little different, as this would be a character who needed to “fit” into the world Lucas Curell had created. And while it wasn’t stated anywhere that the three characters needed to be tied to each other, we felt like it might act as a cool Easter Egg for anyone reading the adventure.

***

Egg actually had his character, Celltar Drumthunder, mocked up by the time Leland and I came onboard. Here was a good-looking guy who travels from town to town playing his music wherever he can find a tavern with attentive patrons (or at least the kind who might part with some hard-earned coin). Of course, he repays their kindness by allowing them to invite him into their homes where he generally takes their most valuable of possessions. Through some form of magic, the people only realize it is gone, and not that Celltar might have taken it.

It was Leland who thought “I think it would be neat to brainstorm a connection between them, then make the character. If they blend together, it would add story.”

Would they be a gang? Or…

“One could be a bounty hunter looking for someone who is stealing these heirlooms.”

But then…

“Or maybe the lost love who is still under the spell.”

There was Kaiya right there. I took the lead on her character. Then a little later the thought of a Wererat was mentioned who would become “Sully” took shape (who Leland wrote up). And it was really there that the connection made some sense and how they tied together made some level of sense. The key points and connections were:

Sully:

A noble who was going to marry a noble woman.

He was cursed at their engagement by a thief.

Possibly mention he’s hiding from his ex-bride.

Celltar:

Cursed a noble at his engagement party.

Tried to use a spell to marry a noble woman.

Kaiya:

First groom was cursed, and they did not marry.

Almost wed to a bard who put a spell on her.

Rats in the Street. Featuring Wererats.

Rats in the Street. Featuring Wererats.

Now there was some concern that these types of connections might not work for Lucas. Perhaps it might be too overt. Maybe it just couldn’t fit in the world he was trying to craft. Heck, maybe we were trying too hard to put our own spin on these characters and doing the “group thing” was not a great idea. Still, we decided to work them up.

Worst case, we thought, we could use these characters for something else on our own.

The great thing about working with others on any kind of story/character/fiction is that you have someone to bounce ideas off of. People who can see something slightly different from you are able to do. And last, but not least, is that you have built-in editors to help make sure you’re not misspelling every other word. What followed was a series of back and forths among the three of us as we worked up a first draft, then a second, and then a final draft in a format Lucas was looking for.

Appearance – This is not only their physical appearance, but also trying to convey some level of insight into their actions. Sully might have been a “lost soul”, but he still held himself in a “regal manner”.

Personality – I’d say this one probably ties most to the actual roleplaying of the character by the Game Master. Celltar was “certain that the world owes him”. “Lazy, liar, and showman.”

Goals – These felt like something which would boil our characters down to their basic instincts. What did they want to do? And maybe how would they get there? To transform into someone they always wished to be. To restore themselves. To get through life as easy as possible.

Hobby – This was as simple as “drinking” or losing themselves in research.

In Yroden (where we lay our tale) – Here was our thoughts on how and why the character might be in Yroden (and thus how they might tie into the actual adventure). This was really the crux of the character and really would determine whether or not the character(s) would end up being used.

Now done, we sent it off and waited…

When Lucas responded he said he loved the interplay between them, but had a twist in mind for using them. Kaiya would actually appear in Yrisa’s Nightmare where the other two would get referenced. However, Sully and Celltar would get their proper appearance in the companion adventure Rats in the Street – especially since that one featured a gang of wererats.

kaiya-blackmoore

From the City of Brass Character Entry for Kaiya Blackmoore

***

And that, as they say, was that. The characters appeared in their respective stories, and my own hope is that some Game Master out there has not only spotted the connection, but worked it into his own story. Maybe Kaiya is out there helping fight wererats alongside some adventurers. Maybe Celltar has finally found the wrong person to charm. Maybe Sully has found a cure after all.

Maybe…

***

Kickstarter information:

Yrisa’s Nightmare, an RPG adventure for Pathfinder and 5e by Ember Design Studios
Raised $2,680 starting November 13th, 2015

If getting a NPC into an adventure is on your Christmas 2016 wish list, Ember Design Studios is running another Kickstarter and is offering two options to get your sailor NPC into the mix (see the 6th update on the Kickstarter). Sunken Temple, an RPG adventure for 5e, Pathfinder, & WOIN by Ember Design Studios
Raised to-date (this Kickstarter is still going at the time of this writing) $5,431 starting November 18th, 2016

sunken-temple

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

My Mother: The Horse Diver

Another month, and a little more insight to my own family’s past. I only wish that I had an actual picture of my grandmother to show along with the following…

***

My Mother: The Horse Diver

By: Mickey McGuire

 

My mother was the best cook who ever lived. I also knew her to be the most critical person whom I have ever known, and, in her later years, one of the most fearful and paranoid. On her good days, she liked to laugh and joke. She loved to fish- both salt and fresh water; she was the first to drop her line and the last to leave. She wrote short stories, poetry, and a book about life in the Okefenokee Swamp.

She tried to be a good mother- nurturer to me she was not. In all fairness though, I saw her warm and fuzzy side as a grandmother to my children. Although our relationship was complicated at best, I never doubted her desire to see me succeed at a level which surpassed hers.

On the days her demons rose to the surface, she drank vodka- sometimes a weekend binge a month, other times many months would pass without any drinking. The realization of her drinking for the day assaulted my nose and sensibilities as soon as I opened the door in the afternoon after school- Momma asleep/passed out in the bed and the rest of the house a cold vacuum where sadness and pain lived.

I never saw her take a leisurely walk or do any form of formal exercise. Does pulling a wagon with fishing equipment count? She smoked two packs of Kent cigarettes a day, ate fried Southern food on a regular basis, drank off and on her whole life, and still lived to be 79.

That was the mother I knew. Married already for twenty years, my parents adopted me in their forties. I was the baby who would surely fill that void in my mother’s life.

***

But there was another person I never knew. Families have their share of stories and legends, and my mother had a crazy one- she was a horse diver in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the summer of 1933 when she was seventeen. At that time, the diving show on the Atlantic City Steel Pier had been in existence since 1928. The horse diving show had been the creation of William “Doc” Carver in the 1880s. Originally a traveling diving show, it had become the primary attraction of many carnival acts on the Boardwalk.

 

horse-diving

 

This was a show not for the faint of heart or spirit. A pretty girl sat on the back of a huge horse and dove 40-60 feet into a 12 foot pool. That depth was just enough for the horse to reach the bottom of the tank and push-off to swim to the surface. Different horses dove four times a day, seven days a week for the price of a one dollar admission to see this remarkable feat- definitely meeting the criteria of an extreme sport by the standards of that time. Divers made $50- $125 per week, a fortune compared to the normal $15 per week in a department store.

How would a seventeen year old girl from Waycross, Georgia, ever be a horse diver in Atlantic City, New Jersey, you might ask? That summer my mother had gone to stay with her older brother and his wife in New Jersey, a place where my uncle had found better job opportunities as a welder in the shipyards. My mother’s cousin Marie was already a temporary diver for the show. The star diver Sonora Webster Carver- also a Waycross girl- had been blinded on one of the dives in 1931, and, according to her autobiography, had needed rehabilitation and time to learn Braille. So the summer of 1933 could have very well been a period of transition where many different divers were used in the shows. According to Sonora’s sister Arnette French in the autobiography A Girl and Five Brave Horses, “If you rounded all the riders up, we’d fill Convention Hall- we were the stars of the Boardwalk.”

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

According to Momma and Sonora Carver’s autobiography, you had “to keep your head tucked to one side, so that when the horse raised his head as he jumped up at the bottom of the pool, you wouldn’t get smacked in the face.” That would have been the least of my worries. How would you have the nerve to jump on the back of that gigantic animal and then jump off a stand 40-60 feet in the air into 12 feet of water? What about being thrown off or kicked in the head under water? There were documented bloody noses, black eyes, broken cheekbones, collarbones, and teeth. Amazingly, no diver fatalities ever occurred. Sonora Carver’s blindness was the worst of the injuries, and she continued to dive despite her blindness for many years.

***

How does one person meet adversity and thrive despite it while another is haunted by her/his demons?  How did my mother evolve from having this courageous spirit and complete recklessness of youth to being beaten down from the disappointments in her life? If she could be a horse diver, she could have accomplished anything. I do believe life is about choices and consequences. She could have taken that job with Western Union and had her own career. She could have moved to a big city. She could have divorced my father. She chose to stay in the marriage, to live in the small town, and be a housewife. The life she chose would eventually lead to her becoming my mother, all the good and the bad of it. She was the mother I was supposed to have. I am who I am because of it.

I wish we could have had a different relationship… but we did not.

Instead of thinking about what might have been, I love to think about my mother dressed in that sequined bathing suit, waiting for that nearly one ton animal to reach the top of the ramp- her red hair flying- fearless and carefree- her future ahead with so much promise.

 

Credits: Carver, Sonora. A Girl and Five Brave Horses. Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2016.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Sadly, There Is No Easy Button For You

Spam has taken on a new meaning for me ever since I decided to publish The Dark That Follows and start writing a weekly blog. Then again, spam has probably morphed over time regardless to what I’ve done. It just seems I’m paying attention to some of it more than I might have been in the past.

no-junk-mail

“Click here to sell more books today!”

“Learn how to drive more traffic to your blog!”

“The only way to write 10k words in a minute!”

“Make her excited-” erm… OK, maybe not that one. But you get the point.

According to when and where I actually come across these potential articles/blog posts/click-bait/random something else all determines as to if I’ll actually click on them. Yes, many times I stumble across them while I’m in the midst of some other internet rabbit hole, but most of the time I search these damn things out.

Why?

I mean, I’m not dumb. I get what they are doing. However, I also am in this weird place whereby I want to learn the secrets they supposedly have to share. I keep thinking that while I might not be Shakespeare or Twain or insert your favorite author here in talent level, there are literally hundreds of authors who have figured all of this out while not… well, they try, but…

OK, let’s face it. A lot of them aren’t very good at actually stringing two words together. Ask them to put more than four or five in a row with punctuation? Well, that’s the end of that idea.

But they have it figured out. Right?

easy-button

They’ve found the magical EASY BUTTON! So I click on their link and read and try to find that nugget of information which will blow my mind. That knowledge where just prior to it I was only a monkey and now afterwards I am able to use tools and make a fire. This is the type of stuff I’m looking for.

It eludes me.

I do everything wrong. Or in the wrong order. Or I’m impatient. Or I’m too patient. I don’t have enough time to write. I have too much time to write. I goof off. I don’t goof off. I should reach out to more people. How do you reach out to more people? Get involved with a group. I did that, nothing’s changed.

My mind becomes a barren wasteland full of left over billboards which say the above… dotting the horizon with their mocking attempts to “HELP” me.

***

A side story – When I applied to go to Georgia Tech there was a little spot on the form where you could put a Major or you could put Undecided. Now when I filled this out, I was in the midst of thinking I wanted to be a computer programmer. As such, during my senior year in high school I took a Computer Programming class. I’m pretty sure I was doing well in the class (well enough), and the last thing I wanted to do was put Undecided. That might make it seem like I didn’t have my shit together (I was 18… of course I didn’t have my shit together). So I put Computer Science down.

Fast forward to my first quarter at Tech. I’ve long since given up the idea of going into computers. By the end of the year I just didn’t feel like I “got it”. It was hard to explain, but I figured out I wanted to go into Civil Engineering.

And that’s when I found out that because Civil Engineering was “Full” I couldn’t transfer in. However, I could have done so if I had been Undecided.

<Slaps head.>

So I went and talked to the head of the department during the Fall. He told me to come back during Winter Quarter. So I went during Winter Quarter… still no openings. Come Spring I was beginning to wonder if I needed to escalate this foolishness. Maybe reach out to someone else (not sure who I was going to reach out to, but something needed to be done!).

I knew the classes I needed to take. Nothing prevented me from taking them. As long as there was an opening in them, you could enroll in pretty much any class. When I went to talk to the new head of the department he gave me more of the same song and dance.

<I wonder if this was the same game the insurance companies do when they immediately deny anything you apply for thinking that most will stop there?>

At that point I’d had enough of the run around. I remember shaking his hand, thanking him for his time, and letting him know that I would see him that Summer to have the same conversation. Furthermore, I knew the classes I needed to take to become a Civil Engineer, and that was the path I was going to head down. So whether he let me in then or in a year I was going to get in.

He blinked. Asked me if I was telling the truth about my classes that quarter (I was). There was a pause, and then he asked to see my form to transfer into the School of Civil Engineering.

***

wall-crack

I wrote the above to remind myself that this writing gig is just the same.

I’m stubborn.

This is my gift. This is my curse.

I will bang my head against that wall until the wall collapses.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Giving Thanks for Gilmore Girls

Let’s face it, I am not the demographic CW (then the WB) had in mind when they launched this little New England drama about a mother and her teenaged daughter in the Fall of 2000. I imagine that they cast their net for a slightly different group consisting of the other 50% of the population and hoped for the best.

Yet somehow I am not only a fan of the Gilmore Girls, but I have been since almost the very beginning and up until the very end.

gilmore-girls-summer

Normally that might have been the end of my relationship with the show. However, something else happened. My wife bought the first couple of seasons. I’d come home from work, and they’d be running almost non-stop (well that and Veronica Mars) in a weird/obsessed fandom. And so while the show was over and done, it still was a part of my life. Without even realizing it, we’d watch 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5) episodes in a night. Episodes we saw when they originally aired. Then later, episodes we’d seen once or twice (or three or four…).

I’m not sure how it is in your house. Maybe you play music in the background while you cook dinner or clean up or play games on your phone or even nap. In college, my roommate and I had Clerks and Mallrats running non-stop as the soundtrack to many a late night Duke Nukem playing.

For my wife Gilmore Girls playing in the background is her music.

When she wakes up far too early, but can’t (chooses not to) go back to sleep in the bedroom, she puts it on. As a result I can only imagine half of her dreams exist within Star’s Hollow.

When Netflix got ahold of the show, the dvds were no longer needed.

Then the news came about a revival. We’d done the Kickstarter for Veronica Mars for the movie, and honestly if they’d needed a Kickstarter for the Gilmore Girls Netflix show, we would have ponied up for that as well. Since that wasn’t necessary, we’ve instead been on countdown ever since they told us the premiere date. And this Friday evening the two of us will be in the midst of the episodes. And for someone who doesn’t stay up late very often, I can foresee a very late night to make sure we watch them all.

And I fully expect to wake up the next day to that familiar “Lalalala” echoing through the house.

***

When fellow Guildmate, Chad Shonk, was on his movie festival tour with Dakota Skye, a movie from a teenage girl’s point of view, he often was asked how he could write for such a character. His reply was that anyone who knew him, also knew that deep down he was a teenage girl.

While I don’t think I’m a teenage girl, it certainly isn’t a bad thing to try and tap into some of that.

Here’s the thing about Gilmore Girls… it’s just a well-written show. The dialogue, carries a rhythm of its own. There is a music as Lorelei and Rory move through their lives, but when it really comes to life is when the two of them are verbally sparing. The rest of us may not understand every piece of the shorthand (and longhand), but they wield words with a dexterity only matched in an Aaron Sorkin production.

Considering anything Sorkin writes makes me want to break my fingers as it is nearly impossible to attempt to duplicate… this is high praise from me.

babbling-gilmore

***

So with it being Thanksgiving week –

Things to be Thankful for with the return of Gilmore Girls:

1 – “Luke. The Town’s Luke.”

He’s the character we (at least in my house) wanted Lorelei to get together with. The Sam and Diane of the show who if they could only get their shit together at the same time everything would just work out.

With Star’s Hollow being a collection of crazies (eccentrics), he’s probably the only grounding force within town limits… something which causes all sorts of great moments throughout the show. Yet, he’s sucked in regardless.

2 – Rapid paced dialogue that dizzies the rest of the cast.

I’m hopeful that it won’t feel like we’ve taken a break from our Girls. That they’ll just flow right into it with no hiccups, as if they never left our sides in the first place.

3 – More bits of random goodness.

“Copper Boom.”

“Monkey, monkey… underpants.”

I need more.

3-gilmore-women

4 – Seeing how the three Gilmore women deal with the huge absence in the room.

When Edward Herrmann passed away a couple of years ago, I was both saddened by his loss, but happy that one of his final testament existed within this show. As Lorelei’s father and Rory’s grandfather, he exuded an affection for both that were as different as the sun and the moon, but I never doubted its existence (even if Lorelei might have).

The return of the show has a very big hole in it with his passing. I have no doubt it will be addressed with love and care and probably a little humor when appropriate.

I also think that it might get a little “dusty” in my house the first time it is referenced.

5 – New Episodes

As I alluded to above, we’ve seen all the episodes, multiple times. Season have been watched and rewatched in order. Random (to an outsider) episode paths have been followed. Lesser favorites skipped only to be found on a future watch (and wondering why it was on the skip list in the first place).

Finally, we’ll get to see a bit more of where their lives went after they departed from the air. Does my own ideas match what they’ll end up showing? The unknown story still lies ahead of us… and isn’t that why we watch these shows?

To find out what happens next.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Kickstart the Comic – Quest for the Last Tree

Every couple of weeks I journey to my local comic book store, pick up an ever-growing stack of comics, rinse and repeat. I have to keep reminding myself as an independent comic writer, that there are others struggling to get their voices and stories heard. Many of them have turned to Kickstarter to do that. So I am challenging myself to keep a look out for any comic books that catch my eye.

Plus, should I ever run a Kickstarter for The Gilded Age, maybe I can see what worked or what didn’t work and apply those lessons.

***

quest-for-the-last-tree1

Cover to Issue #0 by Noor Rahman

Quest for the Last Tree

from Conflux Comix

David Seropian – Writer, Letterer, Publisher

Noor Rahman – Artist, Graphic Designer

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 12:14 AM EST.

 

 

 

 

The Pitch:

QUEST FOR THE LAST TREE issues #1 and #2 introduce a unique pair of heroes: Lucine and Asterion. She’s a teenage warrior priestess who shines with light. He’s a very hungry minotaur who lurks in the shadows. Together, they’re a “beauty & the beast” team like nothing you’ve seen before!

The Story:

A thousand years from now, Earth is shrouded in eternal darkness: an endless winter’s night. In this post-apocalyptic future where science and sorcery meet, a girl named Lucine grows up in a hidden monastery, home to a sisterhood of women dedicated to the service of the goddess Gaia. Trained from childhood to become a warrior priestess, Lucine comes of age and travels to a far off village to take her first lover. There she falls for the wolfishly handsome Moki, who seems to be kind – but in this savage world, can any man be trusted?

John’s Thoughts:

Egg Embry and I always lament that there aren’t more fantasy comics out there. Growing up on the Dungeons and Dragons cartoons and then the various Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms books… it was always a little odd that the genre didn’t cross over into the comic book format more often. So here’s a ready to read fantasy style story, so we’re part of the way there.

The kicker (forgive the pun) is that they have the first seven (7!) pages of issue #1 to try out. This is a wonderful idea, as so many times the backers don’t always know exactly what to expect from the actual story being presented. Here the preview shows much of Lucine’s backstory, from being raised in the monastery to receiving her Mark of Sisterhood.

The thing is, you can have a great story, but if the artwork doesn’t feel right or just doesn’t match, then it doesn’t much matter.

Lucky then that Noor Rahman is extremely skilled in the art department. And showing me those pages only helps to reinforce that aspect.

But who am I kidding here? You had me at a girl and her Minotaur.

quest-for-the-last-tree2

Covers for Issue #1 & #2 by Noor Rahman

The Rewards:

From the small amount of research that I did, it appears earlier this year issue #1 came out, so with the $5 first level (normally a “Thank You” level) you not only get the Thank You, but also a PDF of that issue. At $10 you get digital versions of both issues. Print versions of both appear at the $25 level.

One interesting idea mixed into their rewards is the Kickstarter exclusive issue #0, which is a fancy way to give us a combo print copy of the first 2 issues, an all-new cover, and 8 additional pages of concept art. I know many people who back projects love things that are exclusive, as it let’s them feel even more a part of the process (and let’s the creators provide them with something that is fairly unique to that particular moment in time as another kind of thanks). This seems like a slam-dunk idea here. It shows up in the $50 level.

Looking over their unlocked stretch goals, they include a pdf of issue #0 for everyone at the $10 level and up and signed print copies.

The only locked stretch goal is to Meet the Makers (available to those backers of $100 or more), which allows offers a 30-minute video conference with at least one of the creators (and possibly both).

The Verdict:

I only wish I’d found this one a few days earlier as we are closing in on the last day. Lucky for me, they are above their original goal of $6,050 and on their way to funded.

This is a obvious “Yes” for me.

***

For more information on Quest for the Last Tree, check out their website here.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Behind the Comic – Anatomy of a Panel

behindthemusic-thumb-3

One panel.

How much can we cram into one panel? It’s one moment of a story. Yet, in a medium where you might only have 5-6 of them on a page, and then perhaps only 20-24 pages total… there’s not a lot of room to waste. Every panel has to have a purpose within the story.

gildedage0204_pencils-panel-1

 

The Gilded Age

At a time where the Industrial Revolution collides with the twilight of magic, the vaudevillian Branning Troupe, made up of actors and carnival folk, moves throughout Europe performing its acts. And each member has their own desires and secrets…

Issue #2

Page 4 – Panel 1&2

The Team

Pencils – Sheldon Mitchell

Inks – Rich Perotta

Colors – Tom Chu

Letters – Khari Sampson

Concept

A slight cheat, but as you can see, these two panels are really pieces of each other. Much like on TV or at the movies where I wanted to try to emulate that idea of transferring from a previous moment to this moment… here and now. Then we pull out to see this man: Silas Gideon. As much as anything else, and even though we see him on the first 3 pages, this is our real introduction to the man for whom this story is about.

So what do we see?

A gun, empty glasses, a mechanical arm, a long face, and scars… lots and lots of scars. This is a man who, as the previous pages would show, has been through wars. More than that, this is a man who is weary. Perhaps someone who has to find a bit of sanctuary inside the bottom of a glass. Someone who knows the way of the gun and is tired of it.

The Script

Page 4 Panel 1

Inset panel.  Close-up on Silas’s eye.  Now.  He is older (forty-something), so the years of service, battle, have aged him.  There is an intensity that occupies his face… his “being”.

Narration – Greece, 1881

Page 4 Panel 2

Pull back and see that he’s staring at his own reflection in a dirty old mirror (the kind that would sit on top of a dresser), the edges of which have already turned a milky white.  He should have his fair share of scaring along his chest, old bullet wounds, knife slashes, and other untold ones.

Here you can see what I wrote. These were the things I was trying to convey to the artist. I try to explain something more than just the image that I have in my own mind to the artist. My hope is to give them a glimpse of what I’m thinking. Technically I could have said “Close-up on Silas’s eye.” and that would have probably been enough. However, I need to add more (for my sake as much as anything). Talk about the battles. Talk about the intensity.

In panel 2, I’m trying to convey more about what is around him because panel 1 is about him (why I coupled these two panels together here). I spent most of my time with the scaring, because I believe, more than anything, this scarring is just an external image of what he is internally fighting for every day.

gildedage0204_lettered-panel-1

 

The dialogue that was included in the image above is not in the script. Actually, it is in the script, but was listed under Panel 3. The letterer shifted it to this panel which is an interesting choice. Sometimes they’ll do that so as to fit my words on a page, but Khari Sampson is adept at reading the script, seeing the images, and acting as a final eye on the project. Here the shift adds to that little bit extra to a panel that might have been needing just a little bit more.

It’s spoken by someone off-stage (someone we’ll meet in the very next panel, in fact).

“Does it bother you anymore?”

What? Life? Death? All of it? That’s our question. That is a heavy line for a man who might not know what answer to give.

***

Comics at their core are collaborative. They must be. You take an idea, give it shape with words, the artist turns those words into a visual, the colorist blending colors in and out of the shapes, and the letterer finding a way to fit sometimes way too many words into the space of one panel.

Every piece needing to work in conjunction so as to build a story.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

10 Ways Not To Sell Books

Don’t…

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1 – Think that by putting out one book, your work is all over.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but the work doesn’t end when you write “The End” on your manuscript. And it doesn’t end when you press publish on the Amazon dashboard.

No, now you have to figure out how to get people to actually download/buy the damn thing. How to convince them to actually read the book. And then get them to leave a Review.

Start that all over again.

2 – Randomly put out one book, and then nothing else for over a year.

If someone takes the time to read one of your works, finish it, and like it – then you need to be able to point them into another direction: another book. Having only one thing in your catalog puts far too much pressure on that title to over perform.

3 – Not have some kind of series of books.

Having more than one book in a series means that if you hook someone with book 1, you’re going to make a sale of book 2 and 3 and so on.

4 – Genre hop.

This ties in with the above. When you hop around genre’s you may get to tell all sorts of stories, but it may make it where your books can’t help each other. What if you have done a romance and then a science fiction and then an epic fantasy? The amount of cross-over readers for those three genres are going to be small.

Editing

5 – Bother to edit.

Odds are you aren’t coming up with pure gold spun from your fingertips. You’ll need to hone and refine those words on the screen. Follow that up with some outside help. Another set of eyes will go a long way to reducing any number of dumb mistakes (and there will be plenty).

6 – Post only to Amazon.

Why? Why would you potentially limit your exposure?

7 – Post your eBook EVERYWHERE.

Why? Why wouldn’t you go exclusive with Amazon? Do you not like money?

Everyone with an opinion has one on this: do you go WIDE or NARROW. Long term going WIDE means you’ll potentially get more eyes on your stuff. People who don’t go to Amazon for their reading experiences. Short term (and medium term), going exclusive with Amazon may mean more eyes up front = more potential money sooner.

8 – Spend too much time and money on advertising.

There is this thought that the single best bit of advertising you can and should do for your book is to write the next book in the series. So every moment you delay, is a potential reader possibly not finding you.

books-messy

9 – Print too many copies of their book.

Having your book in print is an amazing thing. As much as I appreciate how eBooks have changed the landscape, there is something amazing about holding your own book in your hands. Still, you should be realistic on your sales. And maybe you should order in the 10s as opposed to the 100s.

10 – Think that you have all the answers…

Because no one has any idea what the “Right” way to do any of this. For every person with a terrible concept, cover, lack of edits, etc. holding them back – others are chugging right along having only spent about five bucks on a cover and no editing whatsoever.

joker-all-apart-of-the-plan

There is a very fine line between doing something stupid and having it all be “a part of the plan”. There is a finer line between experimentation and making a mistake. Whatever you do, make sure you have a reason for doing it. That way, even if you’re wrong, you can at least know why you went down that particular path.

***

Full disclosure – I have done some (much), if not nearly everything on the above list. I have done them willingly. No one had to twist my arm to ensure it would happen. I have my own excuses. Some legitimate. Some probably (definitely) not so legitimate. I’ve genre hopped. I’ve had way too long go between books. I’ve published only on Amazon and then gone wide with something else. I’ve tried some advertising and no advertising.

Luckily (for my readers), I have had editing done. That one is/was/will be a deal breaker for me.

I’m still learning. Still making those mistakes.

I’m mostly waiting for the EASY BUTTON, myself. That’ll make this whole process that much easier.

(That’s probably #11 right there.)

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Could My Brain Be Evil?

The month of October is the absolute perfect time for that favorite pastime of mine: watching horror movies. I love the bad ones that everyone else hates and somehow only takes a couple of friends mocking it to make it seem all the better. I love the classics that everyone agree on as being the best of the best. New, old, black and white monster movies to slasher flicks to haunted house stories…

I love horror movies.

***

October is also a different kind of month for me. It is that last month which promises to be productive for writing before the hectic natures of November and December appear to rip every last bit of free time from me until the new year. Much like when you were in school and you had two weeks to turn in that report, but you decided to put things off day after day, because there was always a little more time there… before you know it, the thing is due and you’re up until four in the morning, blurred vision, just trying to get something on the page.

That’s how it is with my various projects.  And no matter how much I have accomplished over the last 9+ months, it’s never as much as I would like to have accomplished. I come up with plans and calendars and self-imposed deadlines, and still I feel like I’m always rolling that damn boulder up the hill.

Sheer horror.

***

tmnt-kraang

That’s when it hit me. Maybe my brain is evil?

That is the only conclusion you could possibly come to in all of this. We’ve been told throughout cinema how we can get so focused on the results that we rush headlong without actually doing all the little pieces of work. I mean, I’ve watched The Fly. I’ve read Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’ve read a Superman comic with Lex Luthor. You can think you’re taking a good turn before you realize it has all been a lie from the very beginning.

Maybe that guy upstairs, rattling around in my skull, is both the architect of my salvation and also the cause of all my sorrow? He plays both the angel and devil on my shoulders. I just don’t realize that they are one in the same.

If this was a courtroom drama, I would go ahead and present my case (so that’s what I’m going to do).

1 – He conspires against me as I sleep. I know that now. There is a plan I’m not privy to where he has detailed the entire downfall of my writing career. And before you think that maybe I’m just being paranoid (his fault again), let’s look at the evidence:

2 – He loves a blank page. Every time I go to start a new project he likes to linger on that first, completely clean page. Subtle little thoughts of what could appear there managed to fight off those first instincts, but that is only because of the larger plan he has awaiting me.

3 – He makes sure that I forget my good ideas, even when I write down the most obscure titles. I’m pretty sure that the title of this blog doesn’t match my original intent (but I’ll show him!).

candle

4 – He’s the one that makes me think the last thing I wrote is no good. Ideas of “scrap the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch” run across my brain like the stocks at the bottom of all the news channels. Every line I write can’t be the worst thing he’s ever read, it’s just not possible (right?).

5 – He is the master of distractions. Oh, he knows every sports team that is playing and when they are going to be on TV. Or every internet site that we “probably” should check out – for “research” purposes. Time is just a con game for him, and he is damn good a manipulating it.

inside-out-guilt

Guilt – From Inside Out’s cutting room floor

6 – He’s best friends with Guilt. Together they form a powerful duo that will not only cause you to stay up too late staring at the screen, hoping for inspiration (who, as I understand it, is just outside the front door – if only I’d let her in).

7 – He’s into torture. At 2 in the morning, when the barest trickle of something which very well might be readable, starts to show up – that’s when the yawns come. That’s when I need to go to sleep.

8 – He invites the Beast to visit. Writer’s block. Knowing he could step in and save the day, but it is too much fun for him to watch me drown over and over.

***

It must be the same reasoning that causes me to like all of those horror movies. My Brain loves a good tale of woe and scares. Luckily for me, I’m onto him now. Maybe I can throw him off guard, stay a little bit ahead of him, and when these last couple of months start-up I can set a new momentum. Force him to play catch-up for once.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me

I’ve squirreled away bits and pieces of information. The type of things you wish you didn’t have to learn the “hard way”. Various little lessons. There is still tons more to learn, but this is where I’m at today.

 

You can do multiple drafts.

I’m pretty sure that unless you have sat down and actually written something that this whole process is like stage magic. You know in your heart of hearts there is a logical explanation on how these books get written, but damned if you can’t see through the trick.

magic

And then when you start writing… well, it isn’t very good. Sure the idea might be fine, but those two sentences you put together over there – yeah, those are garbage. Soon enough you may believe your whole approach is terrible. Why are you even bothering? I mean, haven’t you read X author? Her stuff is amazing! I bet the genius just falls from her brain into the computer like that.

But like the magician, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t always going to be magic in the first draft. Luckily the first draft is just that. It means you can go back and correct it. These aren’t the days of the typewriter and trying to use white-out in order to clear up your mistakes.

Instead we have this amazing thing called the backspace.

You can change and update and tweak and fine-tune for as long as you want.

 

(Almost) Never show anyone your first draft.

Seriously. I’m not kidding. Really there shouldn’t be a parenthesis in this section because even my wife doesn’t get to read the 1st draft (she probably does read something closer to a 1.5 draft). I suppose if you have a writing partner, and they are the ones effectively doing the 2nd draft then maybe it might be… it’s still a terrible idea.

Writing Dark

Let me spare you from what will happen (almost) 100% of the time:

The person reading doesn’t understand that this is the first draft (it’s the magic trick bit from above – no one has told them the secret), so every bit of the feedback you may get is going to be about spelling errors or grammar related things. They are going to talk about the plot holes (which you know about and will fix in that crazy Draft 2) you can drive a truck through.

But 95% of what you get isn’t going to help you very much. In fact, I’d argue that it will only discourage you no matter how nice they are about it.

I’ve done it one time ever and will never do it again.

 

Their way isn’t your way.

When you read blogs or articles or books or hear people talk about their craft… I always think I must be doing it wrong. They write 5000 words a day. They write 1 million words in a year. They write up-teen (an official number, honest) of books in the last couple of years.

Dreams Road Sign

I mean who could be happy with their own output when everyone else is doing it so much better, so much more efficient, and more effective than I could ever attempt to do it?

What’s the point of bothering at all? If it takes me a year to write a book. If I have two books that still need to be properly edited. If no agent wants my stuff?

That’s the mess going on in my head most days. That’s the shit I have to make sure to force back down into the dark recesses of my mind or it will paralyze me.

Look, it is great to have goals, but they have to be realistic. And they may only work for YOU. If you can only write 100 words in a day, it just means that you will take a little longer to get to 1000 words than the guy who writes 5000 words a day.

Just gotta keep repeating that to myself. Remind me that I’m still on track… not your track, but my track.

 

There is no such thing as having time to write.

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit over the past few months. Sometimes lamenting not having enough time in the day (again, let’s move to Mars where we’d get an extra 4 hours a day!). In a bit of synchronicity, Gail Simone (@GailSimone), writer of Wonder Woman and Red Sonja and Birds of Prey (among tons of other things), talked on Twitter this week about an encounter with a woman who commented that “she’d love to write, but who has the time?”

time slipping away

Every day is a struggle with the writing thing. Whether it is due to an abundance of distractions or life or just general laziness, it becomes this thing that I block time out for and then never get quite as much done as I would have liked to. But I’m learning, every day. Sometimes it is a technique, sometimes it is a breakthrough on how to write a bit of dialogue, and sometimes it is staying up way to late in order to finish this week’s blog.

Guess what – welcome to life.

People have things to do. We all have commitments. All that stuff above is my own set of excuses. What it really means is I have to make a choice about where I spend my time.

Do I put my butt in the chair and go to work or do I allow that time to be co-oped by some other activity? Because it is up to me most of the time. Life is about choices.

I chose to write.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

By Rebecca J. Bozarth

 

Cosplay….if you’ve ever attended any sort of Con, you’ve heard this word.  If you know what it is, you most likely have your opinions on it and especially on those who throw themselves into the cosplay world.   What is cosplay?  Basically they took the words “costume” and “play” and turned it into a subgenre.  Folks who like to dress as specific characters that inspire them in some way, or make others laugh.  One of my favorite forms of cosplay is when someone takes two different characters and meshes them into one well-combined antithesis.  This photo I took at Dragoncon last year is one of my favorite examples.

d-con1

I’ve never really thought of myself as one of “those people,” someone who spend copious amounts of time crafting and putting together the perfect recreation.  But recently, I’ve decided to look at things in a new way, and change a lot of who I am.

In Atlanta, which is where I live, every Labor Day, close to 80,000 people descend on our already crowded streets to participate in Dragoncon.  Dragoncon is the second largest sci-fi convention in the US.  Every fan boy/girl can pay $80 for four days of hot sweaty geekiness.  During this time, you will be crowded into a hotel room – if you were so lucky to win that lottery.  Walk the hot Atlanta streets with wings hitting you in the face and swords poking into every orifice of your being.  Wait in line for hours to possibly make it into a room that is holding a panel of your favorite tv show.  Eat overpriced bad food.  Take in a drum circle.  Then party all night to roughly six am if you’re so inclined, get a couple of hours of sleep, and wake up to do it all over again the next day.  It is four days of geeky magic and I absolutely love it.

reb-1

This year, I did things a little differently.  I actually cosplayed.  Now, I love to dress up for Halloween and have done so since birth, but I have never cosplayed before.  I belong to Metro Atlanta Geeks, and was going to be attending the con with my fellow MAG friends.  They cosplay and love it.

The last couple of months have been about doing things different from my norm, so I decided I’m going all in and have the full Dragoncon cosplay experience.

reb-2

I’m blonde, and one of the major deciding factors for me with Halloween costumes is choosing a “blonde” character.  I HATE wearing wigs and refuse to do so.  So this past Halloween, I wanted to be Harley Quinn before the movie came out.  Of course there are many versions of Harley.  I’m a gamer, so when I saw the Harley from Arkham costume, I ordered it.  Some context about me, I’d been working on my weight for the past year, and though I had lost a lot at this point, when I got the costume, it was not enough.  So plan b.  Harley harlequin costume I found online that looked larger.  It came – same problem.  Plan c – purchase items and put together Harley from Suicide Squad.  This worked.  I found the shirt, chose a sexy skirt instead of her little red and blue hot pants, and no costume I wear is complete without my hooker boots.  Cool Halloween costume overall.  Sprayed the hair red and blue, made the “Goodnight” bat – the whole nine.  But it wasn’t perfect.

reb-harley-1

So skip ahead – Dragon Con.  Still working out almost daily.  I’m in process of moving to a new apartment (week before Dragon Con cause that’s smart) and I found my old costumes.  Not thinking they would fit, I tried them on – both fit perfectly!  I was very excited.  So I decided to ramp up my Halloween Suicide Squad Harley and get the hot pants and Puddin’ choker.  I was ready.  Each night, I would be a different Harley.

reb-harley-2

I arrived on Thursday night – which actually turns out to be one of the best Dragoncon nights.  Everyone is over the top excited and it’s not over crowded.  I had purchased a R2D2 dress from Amazon and handcrafted an R2D2 headpiece.  That’s the beauty of it – if you can build it save your money for other fun!  So I drew my headpiece on very heavy card stock I had left over from art school, wove a ribbon through it, and wa-la I had Thursday night’s costume covered.

 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were my Harley costumes.  Friday: Arkham Harley, Saturday: Suicide Squad, and Sunday: Sexy Harlequin Harley.   For each, I had my hair in pigtails, two nights with the black and red, and Suicide Squad with the blue and red.  I whitened my face, put on heavy dark black eye makeup, and of course, blood-red lipstick.  It was surreal.  People were coming up (guys mostly) and asking to take pictures – of me!  I posed with a million Jokers it seemed.  Deadpools seemed to really like me – we’ll look past the whole different franchise thing….  The best was the little kids that wanted to pose with me.  Adorable!  I have never experienced something like that before in my life.  It was fantastic.  I got to be a sexy villain and pose like I was a celebrity.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had that much fun.  Walking along the Atlanta streets decked out, swinging my “Goodnight” bat.  For a moment, you really are your character.  Thankfully, there were no store windows with any shiny purses that caught my eye!

reb-harley-3

And yes, cosplay world, you won.  You got me.  Though I made fun of many of you who took it so seriously in the past, I am now addicted, and already trying to decide what blonde sexy characters I’m going to create for next Dragoncon.  I’ll keep ya posted!

***

Rebecca J. Bozarth is a the owner of Fotografia Film & Design in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a web and graphic designer and photographer. She’s an artist, gamer, and film nerd, and loves fantasy, scoff, and horror.

Three Years Later

This week marks my 157th blog since Tessera Guild started. Which really means that somehow, through late nights and odd bits of inspiration, I’ve somehow managed to write another 52 posts. Some of them might have received some attention and some slipped under the radar. So as I’ve done the past two years, I’d like to take the time to maybe shine a spotlight on a few posts.

 

Story Telling – Micro Bursts

writing

Part writing exercise (gotta work out, right?), part challenge to myself, and perhaps part trying to get the brain waves pushing in the correct direction, this blog has maybe the most “stories” of any blog I’ve ever done before or since. Of course, since they are only 2 sentences each, I really had to write a bunch of them all at once.

 

Creatures Big and Small

FIona Cropped 1

Not a blog I’d hoped to write. When we lost our outdoor cat, Fiona, it felt like it was time to pay tribute to some of my pets I’ve had since I could barely walk. It’s my hope that when Fiona crossed over, there were a few other cats and dogs who could help take care of her on the other side.

 

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

birthday-cake-380178_1280

They say turning 40 is scary. Of course, “They” are always saying stuff like that to scare us. 30 was scary. 40 was scary. 50 will be scary.

But I thought this would be a good time to give as much information about myself in as short of time as possible… hence the list.

 

Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Over-used Words

Editing

A writing blog about editing. Even though I only have a handful of things out there, I forget that I’ve actually made great strides from when I started. And this blog belongs in that grouping where I can let myself know I have come a long way. And it also is a reminder that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

 

New Myths and Legends

real-underground

In the old days, people told stories and created gods in order to explain the explainable within their universe. So if you wondered why the sun moved through the sky, obviously Apollo is up there on his chariot pulling it along. These days we have new issues pressing us on all sides, and this article was my attempt to explain exactly who or what we now appear to worship.

 

My Musical Love Affair

pearl jam

There are moments in your life that you don’t know are coming, but will have a great impact upon how you suddenly view the world. This can happen with movies, tv, books, or in this case with a forgotten cd left at my house for a couple of days. Up until this album and this band, music was something to sing along to on car trips. Afterwards it became an obsession.

 

Sequels That Never Were – The Crow

the crow fire

Sometimes I like to remind myself that the best way to show off my writing is through actually writing a short story for the blog. The problem is that most of the time shorts aren’t something I can just put out there in an evening. I’d like to go over it and tweak and revise before I put it out into the world.

However, sometimes you have something you’ve been sitting on for a little while… and that makes it easier.

 

Dragoncon 2016 – The Bad

Dragon Con 2016

This is only a month old, but it was one of those posts that got clicked on more than I’d have expected. The follow up to this one focused on the good and didn’t have nearly the reach. I guess it makes some level of sense though, people like reading negative things (I know I do). And this was me bitching about Dragon Con.

***

Again, there are others that I am proud of, bits and pieces scattered throughout the year. You just never know what might strike you just right…

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Where the “Ways Cross”

For so many of us, we wonder about our lives, constantly looking to our pasts and the past of our family. Anything to glean some knowledge about our potential future. Today, I’m excited to take a look back with my mother as she gazes back.

***

I grew up in the Deep South in a railroad town forty miles north of the Georgia/Florida line- Waycross, a small town with a population less than twenty thousand. Peculiar name, but, originally, it was called “Old Nine” and then “Tebeauville” until 1935 when the leaders of the community decided to change the name to reflect more of the town’s true identity. This sleepy town was the “cross-way” of the railroad lines traveling through the state of Georgia, and, at the time of the name change, these group of business men thought a new name was needed to identify the junction of the existing Savannah railroad line and the new rail line which connected Brunswick and Albany. Legend has it that they toyed with the idea of Eastcross and Northcross, but finally settled on Waycross, probably over breakfast at the local diner. Waycross is also the point of intersection of five major highways in southeast Georgia, and it is the only town with direct access to the beginning of the Okefenokee Swamp, its claim to fame.

railroad-crossing

I lived the quintessential Southern life. To me, growing up Southern meant drinking sweet tea the color of the Satilla River, sitting on the front porch watching it rain during a thunderstorm, and then smashing the air pockets in the dirt road with my bare feet after the downpour was over. Summer started June 1st after school ended the last day of May, and shoes were forgotten until school resumed the last week in August. Even now I can outlast any of the tenderfoots in my family on hot beach sand. Nights meant mosquitoes, fireflies, air so thick you could cut it with a knife, trying to sleep with a window fan and praying for any breeze-however faint- and the sound of the trains over at the Rice Yard. I spent many days in July shelling peas and butter beans out of our garden in big tin dishpans on my lap. Once that last bean spilled out of its shell into the pan, it was hallelujah until the next round was picked.

Although I was the only child of a critical mother and an angry father, for the most part, my childhood was sweet and kind. I raced grasshoppers with the neighbors, caught dragonflies off the clothesline, and caught tadpoles out of the ditches with my cousin Robert. My Aunt Lucille would actually let him keep his tadpoles in a pan on their back porch, and we would watch them grow into frogs and hop away. I had the same best friend throughout childhood and teenage years, including crushes on boys and many nights with her at her aunt’s skating rink. I learned how to fish in the swamp ditches with a cane pole at about three and could throw a child’s rod and reel at about four. Our vacations every year consisted of a week fishing at Harriet’s Bluff in Kingsland, Georgia, a fish camp on Crooked River, and Saturday day trips to fish off the salt water pier at Fernandina Beach. ( I can still out fish anyone in our family.) On Labor Day weekend, we drove to the Smoky Mountains to visit my father’s oldest brother at his cabin.  I had an Aunt Dot, that aunt who loved to laugh and have a good time- also the aunt who introduced me to flying, the symphony, and the finer things in life. We weren’t rich, but we always had good food and nice clothes. My parents expected me to always do my best, and the measure of character according to my Daddy was whether that man was willing to work.

alligator

Although I have lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than twenty years now, I still think of Georgia as my true home. Just the mention of “Southernness” and living in Waycross evokes deep feelings of nostalgia. When someone teases me about my Southern accent, I just smile- they never knew what they missed. I will always be a swamp girl.

map_of_waycross_ga

When I think about it, where the “Ways Cross” is a metaphor for my life, as it is for humans trying to navigate this shaky path of life. We all face forks in the road, a new path which has to be embraced, a change in our circumstances. In my own life, each decade had its share of upheavals and stability:

My tumultuous twenties as I figured out relationships, marriage, and motherhood.

Thirties a blur as a raised three children.

Forties when I completely flipped and went back to school for another degree and changed careers.

And now fifties where there has been much reflection and floundering as I figured out my identity apart from being a wife and mother.

This upcoming January I will experience my 60th year on this earth-sobering to say the least. Funny thing is, if you talk to ANY sixty year old person, they do not see themselves as an old person. We still feel the same on the inside; it is only when we look in the mirror we realize Old Man Time continued to march on.

So as the big 6-0 fast approaches, here I am again at another junction where the “Ways Cross.” What do I do with the rest of my life? I know I am much wiser than that seventeen year old who left for the big city of Atlanta to attend nursing school in 1974- the first fork in the road. It is my hope with this blog I will entertain some of you youngsters with stories about my life and the people in it- some funny, some sad, and some completely absurd- as I came to each crossing and navigated through. Other blogs will be reflections concerning life and my ponderings as I face the future me.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.