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.

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, there was a guy who knew what he wanted to do but didn’t know how to go about doing it.

You see, he wanted to be a writer… and really what he wanted to be was a comic book writer. Those funny books had enticed him since he was ten years old. He would talk about ideas for comics with his friends, sometimes even writing up rough outlines for the ideas, but nothing ever came from any of them. Those dreams of youth began to fade as he entered the workforce. He was 24 years old and if it hadn’t happened by that point, then it was never going to happen.

Yet, the universe must work in strange ways because one day a friend introduced him to a fellow aspiring writer and that new friend introduced him to another and another until there was a group of six of them meeting in the back of a comic book store. Now, they didn’t think about writing comics in those first few moments. It’s not like they were literally staring at them for multiple hours every Sunday afternoon or anything (they really were). Instead, they brainstormed movie ideas and when the time came for someone to take the first stab at writing an episode of a tv show (Smallville – which I talked about here in the early days of this blog), this guy threw his hand up to write it.

And reality slammed into him. All those various bits and pieces of stories and comic ideas were little more than bits and pieces. Aside from a couple of assignments in high school, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever actually finished one of these stories before in his life. Plus, he didn’t know the first thing about writing a screenplay and barely could work his way through the software in those first hours.

Fear crept in and stayed a while. The blank page stared back at him, that blasted cursor slowly appearing and then disappearing, attempting to mock him or perhaps intimidate him further. It need not have bothered, as he was sure he’d bit off far more than he ever could have. But there were other people who were looking for the first draft, so he wrote and wrote and wrote. And when they read it, they liked it.

The days went by and he tried his hand at other pieces, other ideas. At the time they were still focused on movies or tv shows, but at some point, someone suggested doing a comic book. In an hour he wrote his story for the anthology (The God That Failed). And then when the pages came in from the artist, his mind was blown. Each one became something more and more magical. Holding the printed version of the anthology in his hands, that 10-year old yelled and cheered. For a moment, he had accomplished something.

That moment, that high, is fleeting in a way for the writer. Because there was now no excuses other than the ones he made for himself. He brainstormed other ideas that would fit into an eight-page format. He collaborated with friends on an impossibly crazy comic book series lasting 60 issues in some cases. The comic world only needed to let him get a big toe in and he’d be able to wow them.

But comics are like that. They depend on a team of people. They can be slow to happen. They can be just like Lucy with the football. The guy has a list of projects which were destined to happen over the years, yet somehow got derailed. He’d learn to temper his excitement for things because he didn’t want the lows of the disappointment each time. More and more everything felt like a “that’s great… if it happens”.

Somehow during all of this, he decided to try his hand at prose. Suddenly unemployed, he had time on his hands. Within four months he’d written the first draft of the book which would be published a few years later (The Dark That Follows). One book turned into a second (Hollow Empire). And all the while he continued working on comics (The Gilded Age) and (The Crossing). Until finally he released another book in 2020 (The Echo Effect).

***

What’s the point of the above? Is it persevere and you get everything you want? Is it hard work pays off? Is it be too stubborn to quit?

As I look forward to 2021, I have found that with every story that gets written, every novel I write, every comic which sees the daylight… I am more hungry than I was before. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a struggle for time or money or effort or finding the right people to work with. It means that there is so much more to create and develop. There are so many blank pages who mock me that I must populate them with strings of words until they beg for that same mercy and find me lacking any.

What’s the point? The point it is time to begin the next story, the next comic, the next idea…

It’s the only way to go forward.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

You Haven’t Seen It – Karate Kid Part III

As Cobra Kai fever grips my house (I think my wife has watched the first 2 seasons around 4 times now since we discovered the show on Netflix), we decided to take a nostalgic trip with the movies as well. Now, we’ve seen the first two movies many, many times, but still decided to watch the first movie again before we even watched one episode of Cobra Kai. And just last week, with the announcement of certain Part 2 characters showing up, we went ahead and watched the second movie. So that only left some small piece of the saga to catch up with: Part 3 (and maybe The Next Karate Kid at some point, maybe).

Now, to be fair, this was not Courtney’s first time ever seeing Part 3; however, watching the movie with her this time around it might as well been her first time watching it. There was plenty of stuff she didn’t remember about it. In addition, we ended up watching it in two settings because… well, it isn’t the greatest movie. But more than that, the… well, I wouldn’t call them plot holes, but there are just lots of coincidences required to make the movie go the way the bad guys want it to go.

And speaking of bad-guys…

John – I love how Terry Silva is basically a cartoon villain.

Courtney – I know… it’s just over the top. He was talking about dumping toxic waste earlier.

John – He could be the bad-guy for Captain Planet!

The thing is, Mike Barnes is this badass karate champion who they enlist to beat up Daniel, and he just owns Daniel. He’s a solid villain if Part 2 never happens.

John – I don’t understand how this guy… Daniel never lands a punch really. I mean, he’s only a few months removed from fighting for his life in Okinawa.

Courtney – And they never call the cops? Really?

John – Think about all the stuff that has to fall into place for Terry Silva’s evil plan to work. Mr. Miyagi has to refuse to train Daniel. Daniel has to seek out Terry. Then he has to not leave in the middle of the training. Then at the end, when he’s decided to quit, Terry and his evil band have to be waiting for Daniel at the dojo.

Courtney – I just… it’s a lot to believe, right?

So we watched it in two parts, and the second part is a little better. But then you get to the tournament…

Courtney – Wait, Daniel only has to land one point and he wins the whole tournament?

John – Yep.

Which, that was always my biggest problem with the movie. One of the best things about Part 1 was the tournament. Learning how things worked. Watching Daniel and Johnny on their collision course. But with this movie, we only really have the end of the semi-finals and then the championship match. So you remove the best stuff with some crazy new rule that says a defending champion only has to fight one fight? How in the world does that make sense on any planet. We’ve all heard of byes, but to get a bye through, what, maybe 6-8 rounds? You take no wear and tear?

Just makes no sense.

John – Final thoughts on Part 3?

Courtney – I think watching the first half of this one… hurt me. It kind of took something away from the first two (this one being so bad). But as we talked about the characters and how they acted. Basically, the need to have some depth and it created a conflict between our leads that we’d not seen. But over-the-top characters… wow. If you are Mr. Miyagi you justified the previous tournament because he was being bullied, but now you won’t even though Daniel is getting bullied because… reasons? I thought the bonsai tree story was a little over the top (even if it gave us a nice little moment between them at the end).

***

I somehow don’t think this movie is going to enter the replay list for her… Cobra Kai season 3 though…

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Turn the Page on 2020

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Finally.

It has been the fastest, longest year that there has ever been. Obviously, the world has experienced a year unlike any in over a hundred years. I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had any direct loss in my family or friends from the virus, but I know a number of people who have been affected by this. To say it derailed any plans everyone might have had for 2020 would be the understatement of the century. When it came to writing, I must admit that from around March to June, that took a backseat to just… wrapping my head around the new normal. It’s like I would sit down to start working on something and my mind would become occupied with the real world and the escapism just disappeared.

Weirdly, one of the things I found to give me a form of peace was Soduku. Somehow working my way through those puzzles helped to soothe me. I also rewatched Firefly in those early weeks, treating it as if it was only coming on one time a week (on Friday night).  Just anything to get by.

On the positive side, it was writing the Comic Book, the Crossing Issue 2, that snapped me out of my initial haze. And it became something of a better second half of the year. As I approach these last few days of 2020, I’m only a few chapters from finishing the draft on a new novel.

So let’s recap:

The Echo Effect is released!

This is my second full-length novel that I’ve released. It was a long time coming (years since I wrote the first words), but I believe that in the time between The Dark That Follows and this that my writing skills have improved by leaps and bounds. In addition, I released it for the first couple of weeks for only $0.99 for the Kindle version, something I’d not ever really done before. And I dipped my toe in the water of advertising and promotions for this release and saw some successes and know much more for the next time.

The Crossing Issue 1 is released!

Not only did we run a Kickstarter as the world began to be gripped by COVID-19, but it was also fulfilled this year. Any release of something I helped to create is such an awesome moment, but with every page completed, I got to see it come to life in a way that few ever really understand.

Love’s Labour’s Liberated RPG Zine is released!

While it was over a year late (not good), we managed to get it to those backers finally. I’m proud of my first work in the RPG side of things, being able to help create ideas that hopefully will be used by others in their games is a very cool feeling. However, the big thing I learned from this project was the importance of having the item done. Too many Kickstarter projects seem to drag on and on and that only creates a potential problem with those who contribute money to them. If you or I am going to go back to these people over and over, we have to be considerate of them.

Tales from Vigilante City is released!

While short stories are often considered the step-child compared to novels, there is something great about being able to get in and tell a smaller story. Something that doesn’t take months (or years, hopefully) to write. Something that can be read and absorbed over a smaller frame of time. “Anonymous” was my contribution to this more grim and gritty, street-level collection of super-hero stories. I like to think of it as a story that could have been told in an issue of Detective Comics.

What else:

I published a blog for 51 out of 52 weeks this year!

Sadly, my streak of like 7 years was accidentally broken when I forgot to hit submit on a blog post and then didn’t realize it until the following week. This year, without the ability to go to conventions and write about that, meant that there were more than a couple of late Tuesday nights where I had to find some inspiration for the week’s blog. In the new year, I’m hoping that as vaccines become available, perhaps some convention reports will actually happen.

SOULmate is 95% finished.

I have about 2 and 1/2 chapters left to write. A sci-fi novel with a twist for me, it is written entirely in first person. Which is working writing muscles that many times I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. This first draft will need a heavy edit to be sure (my tenses are switching between present and past all the time). But, the biggest thing is always getting that first draft onto the page. After that, it becomes more about streamlining the story, adding pieces here and there, editing other pieces to smooth it all out.

Hollow Empire EP 9 is finished.

It needs an edit and a cover and then it is ready for prime time. I may hold it until I can get another Episode completed, but that was another big accomplishment this year. I would love to do a couple of these a year as I love playing in the world and love the characters that Jeremy and I created.

Shorts

I have a pair of short stories that I’m shopping around to various magazines and websites. Which means rejection, but I believe in the stories. I have no doubt they will eventually find the right home.

***

Looking at the above, that’s a fair amount of “stuff” to have done in the past year. When you are in the thick of things, it is sometimes hard to tell where you are in the process, but these milestones always afford a nice way to look back and really take stock. For those of you who have been with me on this journey, I appreciate it.

Now let’s put a sword through 2020’s heart and move on to a better time!

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love For Everyday – 6

 

Four years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. The past three years, I’ve shared a few from the book around the holidays.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

 

January 10

If I could save time in a bottle

The first thing that I’d like to do

Is to save every day

‘Til eternity passes away

Just to spend them with you

Jim Croce, Time In A Bottle

 

February 6

If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed, but… who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.

Before Sunrise

March 14

 

It has made me better loving you… it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, or desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.

Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

 

April 8

 

All I have are the choices I make, and I choose her, come what may.

The Adjustment Bureau

 

May 12

 

Sex without love has its place, and it’s pretty cool, but when you have it hand in hand with deep commitment and respect and caring, it’s 9,000 times better.

George Carlin

 

June 8

 

If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.

George Orwell, 1984

 

 

July 5

 

Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.

Charles Dickens

 

August 20

 

But if I am worthy of it you will always love me;

And if there be anything good and pure in me,

It will be proved by my always loving you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

September 11

 

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.

Albert Einstein

 

October 1

 

The best things in life make you sweaty.

Edgar Allen Poe

 

November 7

 

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.

Plato

December 3

 

Nobody really thinks it will work, do they?

You just described every great success story.

Say Anything

***

I hope this holiday is a good one no matter where you are or who you might share it with.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Comics Are My Time Machine

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

There is a scene in the movie Before Sunset, where Ethan Hawke is talking about this idea of a song being able to transport you back to a particular moment in time. That in a way, the song is a time machine because it allows you to experience something from long ago almost as if it is happening in that moment. A bridge between two times.

It is a wonderful idea that I’ve seen mentioned in other places since, and while I agree that music can do that for me as well (and may be a future blog if I remember), I have another way to track time within my own life:

Comics.

Comics are truly my time machine. Much in the same way that a song can take you back to an earlier time in your life, so too, do I see comics performing that task for me.

I remember distinctly the four comics which set me on the path towards readership, fandom, and loss of a closet in my current home (which my wife laments). $10 in my pocket for purposes of snack, drink, and possibly a magazine became a 10 year old looking over the newsstand rack in amazement. Before that moment, I don’t think I really knew “about” comic books or understood them for what they were. Weirdly I owned 2 comics prior to this (an issue of Transformers and an issue of Fantastic Four). To this day I’m not sure why I decided to get those four comics. Why I didn’t grab a Sports Illustrated or maybe even saved the money for a rainy day.

They called to me.

After that, it was over for me. I was hooked completely. In those early days every stray quarter, nickel, dime, and penny was scrapped and saved in order to have enough to buy a couple of books when I rode my bike up to the local convenience store. With no concept of shipping dates or even that comics came in weekly, I would go as many times a week during the summer as I could think of and return with at least one new comic no matter if I had left it on the shelf four times previous.

Now they exist as artifacts of different times. A reminder of what my life might have been when a particular issue or comic came out.

The afternoon I stopped by Chad’s house with my comics and neither he nor Egg would talk to me until I read the latest issue of The Flash so that we could discuss in great detail. This was during Mark Waid’s epic run.

Finding comraderi with a co-worker through a shared love of Moon Knight… even if he loved the original series and loathed the 90s one that was my introduction to the character (and therefore has a special place in my heart).

Those Saturday afternoons (with Egg) that I spent going to used bookstores looking to rummage around in various dollar bins and after seeing a copy of an issue of Firestorm randomly within remembered that I kind of dug that character back when he was on the Challenge of the Superfriends cartoon. Suddenly, I had a goal to get his complete run (and even more reason to visit all those shops).

Being able to hand my dad a stack of Legion comics or The Great Darkness Saga trade so that he could see how his favorite characters from when he was a kid were doing.

Randomly finding out about Valiant Comics being in our backyard (at Dark Adventure Con) and even though I knew very, very little about them or their books traveling to a local con where the number 3 comic company decided to come and roll out some special posters and comics. It made me a fan of those creators and those characters to this very day.

It doesn’t need to be a specific book (though, each of those stories has a particular comic that sparks the memory), but I think the reason I still love to collect and read these stories is because it connects me to myself. A different version of myself throughout 30+ years of reading about these various characters. I may seem silly to those on the outside, but they have become as much of a part of me as anything else has.

Now I find myself trying to create my own comics. There’s a hope I could leave others with a little more than they started with. A chance to expand how and what they perceive comics to be.
For older readers, a return to glimpse that young person who first clutched those comics in their hands and read and reread them on a daily basis.

A true connection to the past and a promise of the future.

***

By the way, The Crossing is now available for sale here!
***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Worlds Upon Worlds

The Crossing deals directly with parallel worlds where all that we’re limited by is what crazy idea Robert, Sean, or myself can come up with. I’ve said before that it is truly our love-letter to shows like Sliders and… well, really anything that deals with a world not quite your own one. I just got done with the second issue script which has my mind going a million different directions on what other worlds we can visit, which ones help to tell the story we want to tell, and what aspects of them might just be cool to draw!

This year has kind of felt like we are in the wrong timeline, but writing the script has me mulling over parallel worlds in television and movies. Those stories can only show us our own flaws and the paths not taken. Sometimes because we knew that wasn’t the way to go and other times because we felt like we had no other choice. Those worlds give us a glimpse into what might have been, but can just as easily become true horror stories for the heroes.

Rick and Morty – Rick Potion No. 9

“Cronenberg World”

The thing that gets me about this episode is not even that Rick would screw things up to the point that everyone on the planet would become Cronenberg style creatures, but that his solution isn’t to find a way to fix them (at least after a couple of tries). No, he’s willing to just write the whole damn world off and start fresh on another Earth where his and Morty’s doppelgangers had recently died.

That’s both a hardcore and extremely practical way of looking at parallel worlds.

Fringe

The show that started as a pseudo-X-Files, but then evolved into something much, much more. Even as they hinted at the possibility of another Earth, it wasn’t until they showed the airships on Earth 2 (I can’t recall exactly what they called it) that it was truly revealed for all to see. At that point, it became a story about how the characters interact with this new world and how they interact with their doppelgangers.

Star Trek – Mirror, Mirror

If I strain my brain about this, I have to assume that this might be the very first thing I saw that dealt with a parallel world. The ideas presented here might not feel as groundbreaking today when viewed through a modern-day lens, but when it premiered and even more importantly to a young kid watching the rerun of it many decades later, it introduced an earworm of a concept that I still can’t get enough of.

 

Yesterday

I’m a long-time fan of the idea of changing one thing in a world and seeing what happens. You can take the most minor things and have it butterfly effect into something huge or you can take an idea that is already huge given our musical history – What if the Beatles never existed.

Not only does this movie do just that, it does it in a way that makes me smile at the craziness of such a world while also feeling for our hero who has finally found a way to get out of obscurity and the guilt he carries because he knows that he has just become a cover artist.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Wish

Normally you wouldn’t immediately jump to a wish being granted suddenly causing everything to go sideways… unless you’ve played Dungeons and Dragons… in which case you are assured of that very thing happening. This Buffy episode got to take liberties with our well-known characters and flip the script with them so that some were now vampires, others were hardened warriors suddenly without a Scooby Gang to keep them grounded, and has one of the best moments where bad things happen to the very person who caused the world to change (to the point that when I was first watching I was like “well how the heck are we getting back to our world?”).

***
There are so many more worlds that have caught my imagination over the years. My hope is that with The Crossing, some of the cool ideas we have can inspire others to view our world in a little different way.
By the way, The Crossing is now available for sale here!
***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Every Day – 5

 

Four years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. The past three years, I’ve shared a few from the book around the holidays.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

 

January 7

 

I see you everywhere, in the stars, in the river; to me you’re everything that exists; the reality of everything.

Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

 

February 8

 

Sometimes your nearness takes my breath away;

And all the things I want to say can find no voice.

Then, in silence, I can only hope my eyes will speak my heart.

Robert Sexton

 

March 3

 

Every girl needs a guy best friend to help her laugh when she thinks she’ll never smile again.

Anonymous

 

April 2

 

All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…

I choose love.

Johnny Cash

 

May 13

 

Love isn’t an act, it’s a whole life.

Brian Moore

 

June 2

 

There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.

Mark Twain

 

July 9

 

August 14

 

Faith. You give it to the people you love, but the people who really deserve it are the ones who come through even when you don’t love them enough.

Veronica Mars

September 8

 

Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.

Charles Dickens

 

October 3

 

When a girl is in love,

You can see it in her smile.

When a guy is in love,

You can see it in his eyes.

Anonymous

 

November 2

 

This is true love-

You think this happens every day?

The Princess Bride

 

 

December 3

 

 

***

Here’s to showing your thanks for the loves in your life.

***

John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

November Roundup

This week has been beyond busy. Multiple long days for the day job and a reminder that working from home and having something due means that you pretty much are always working. So the blog is coming a couple of days late this week.

Anyway, I thought I’d use this time to do a quick round-up. This last month has been a little busy on the creative side as well.

The Echo Effect

Released at the end of September, but we’ll include it here since it was a couple of years in the making. I tried a strategy of releasing it for $0.99 and doing some paid promotion and now I really just need to sit down and see how successful it really was. Up until about a week ago I was still getting a good number of page reads, but those have finally petered out. Again, that could be as simple as me not really posting anything about the book in a couple of weeks.

You can purchase The Echo Effect here!

The Crossing

While the Kickstarter funded right as the pandemic was hitting the US, Sean Hill has been diligently working on the pages and finished up the last one a few weeks ago which means the backers are beginning to get their shipments! I don’t have a copy just yet in my hands, but it’ll never get old to have that finished product to turn over, flip through, etc.

You can purchase the comic here!

Tales from Vigilante City

I have a short story in this new anthology based on a more street-level superhero RPG. My story (“Anonymous”) was about a henchman deciding to get his one last score. I ordered a copy of the book to have for my shelf and it came late last week. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else wrote about.

You can purchase the book here!

Chat and Spin

Finally, I appeared on a UK radio show for a quick interview about my novels. I’ve never done a live interview like that, but it was a lot of fun. Afterward, they invited me to come back sometime in the new year, so I must have done something right!

You can listen to my interview here!

***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Chat and Spin – Radio Interview

I never know what it is I’m doing in this whole marketing of oneself. It is a labyrinth of trying various things that mostly seem not to entirely work. Or you half fall into an opportunity and it works out better than you could have thought. Which, I guess, means that you must keep yourself open to any and all opportunities as they come along… without knowing where they may or may not lead.

As it so happens, I had the opportunity present itself this past Friday night via the good folks over at Chat and Spin Radio. From their website:

“We are a 24 hour, not for profit Internet radio station broadcasting over 7 years, covering the UK National & International audience. Giving you MORE MUSIC and MORE VARIETY. 

We Broadcast National, throughout the UK & Internationally to many listeners per week. We interview Book Authors / Bands / Singers / Charities / Businesses / Groups. If you would like FREE PUBLICITY and to come on our station for an interview, then please contact us for more information.”

I found out about them through a somewhat random posting in one of the many Facebook groups I’m a part of where they said they were looking for authors to interview, an email back and forth, and before I knew it I was scheduled for last Friday.

Prior to the actual live interview, they had me come on via Skype and I chatted with Ron Clark (Station Owner). He walked me through the interview and basically prescreened the questions on me, which I believe helped as once we actually got on air, I felt pretty comfortable in doing it. Afterward, I spoke a bit more with both Ron and Ian Johnson (co-owner and advertising manager). And potentially, I should be able to get back on for another interview sometime in January.

So while I don’t know what will come out of the chat, I am grateful for any and all opportunities that may come my way.

***

If you’d like to take a listen to the interview, it’s about 6 or 7 minutes beginning around the 47-minute mark at the following link: Chat and Spin

***

And if you are an author, artist, or any other type of creative, reach out to the guys over at Chat and Spin for a potential interview yourself!

***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Free Short Story – And I Feel Fine

In honor of everyone’s favorite month of scares and strange… and only a couple of days late, I present:

 

 

* * *

And I Feel Fine

 John McGuire

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 11, 2019.

 

Huh… I guess the Mayans were right after all.

That was my first thought when the end times came. You might have expected screams or crying or begging… basically any of the five stages of grief. But no, that’s not how I work. I’m too worried about ancient prophecies coming true rather than the immediate need to extract myself from the situation.

Typical.

Oh, sorry. I should probably be a little more official in how I do this. I mean, I activated this recorder for a reason right? My grandmother always said that when you cut corners you only hurt yourself. Or was it when you skip steps you bounce… no, that’s not it either. Damn, can’t remember. I guess it doesn’t much matter.

Still, always better to be official.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 12, 2019.

 

Seven years after the big one. Though, you might say that’s a bit of a misnomer. Really, I should say seven years after the first one. That would be much more accurate.

So why am I so calm?

It’s a question I ask myself all the time, honestly. I should be a screaming mess, running around, panicking… or whatever it is a person is supposed to be doing. This, if you think about it, is the strangest thing you could possibly even think. I’m saying I should act normal… when the world hasn’t acted normal in quite some time.

Either way, once you lived through a dozen or so cataclysmic events in your lifetime, what’s the difference? Wait, what am I saying? You probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

I guess.

I mean, I’m not yawning about it, but if it is my time… well, what the hell am I supposed to do about it?

I remember that first morning after it happened. Heaps of clothes on the ground, cell phones lying on top of the piles, drinks and food once being enjoyed now serving only the scavengers and ants. News spread fast, and all over the world it was the same scenario. People had just up and disappeared.

Nothing brings out some religious nuts like a good mystery so we heard lots of claims about how God had finally had enough with us screwing up the Earth. That he had taken his faithful up to Heaven and abandoned the sinners.

Maybe that was what happened. The rest of us poor schmucks biding our time until the absolute end.

I always thought it strange that things got back to normal so quickly after that. Don’t get me wrong, there were still tons of things we had to deal with. Family members lost and gone and all of that. But it was a shared grief. Everyone knew at least one person who disappeared…

It bound us together.

And when you think about it, percentage wise, there weren’t a lot of people taken. Then you had that scientist make the claim that it was spontaneous combustion. Had all sorts of charts and graphs to back up his theories. Like anything else, you can get scientists to say anything if you pay them enough. And I gotta believe the governments of the world didn’t need some kind of religious fervor let loose… hence the combustion theory. I didn’t buy it, but it seemed to calm a lot of people down.

People just want to believe.

I was never a big one on the Bible, but I have wondered, how many people survived the flood? I remember that he brought two of every animal, but he also brought his family.

Is that right?

Well, it couldn’t have been all that many. We may be getting down to that number here shortly. Assuming we haven’t already reached it.

To be honest, I’m not even sure who this message is for. For all I know the amount of humans left in the world could be down to a few dozen. And I think that I read somewhere that you’d need a minimum number of potential breeders to be able to restart the human race. Something about genetics and inbreeding.

What really sucks… ok, what really sucks more is that you know it is coming, but there is nothing you can possibly do to stop it.

And folks thought Global Warming was bad. Oh no, we’ll be dead in hundreds of years.

I’d kill for Global Warming. I could do it in my sleep.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 13, 2019.

 

It was a zombie uprising last year, and I have to say, putting down Johnny in front of his mother may have been one of the least happy days I’ve ever had. Man, did that woman have a set of pipes on her. My ears still ring sometimes when I’m getting ready to go to sleep. For most people they get the ear ringing from loud music, me, I get it from the unholy screams of a woman whose son you just killed.

For a second time.

Whoever is out there listening to me blather on about all sorts of horrible things… I just want to say that I don’t mean to be so callous. I really don’t. Mostly I blame others and that seems to get me through the days.

Dreams of alcohol get me through the nights.

The thing they don’t teach you in school is how to be all right with it all. We study history, but what is history? Just a series of horrible events, and then we answer questions about dates. But, we never learn what it really means. Those people who died in the Black Plague, we know the numbers, but what about the survivors? When they thought the world was ending, did a bunch just take a knife to their throats and end it all? Those that didn’t, how did they find the internal stamina to keep going on?

This is the stuff that keeps me awake at night.

I need a drink.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 14, 2019.

 

The worst part is the waiting.

Or maybe the worst part is the loneliness?

I mean you really can’t trust anyone these days. I get a knock on the door, hoping it is the pizza delivery order I put in a decade ago. Maybe the guy just got lost? But no, it’s some random scavengers.

Oh, they tell you they’re nice, but sure enough, it is just more of the same crap. They’re trying to take your stuff, or they want to infect you, or whatever.

Hey! It’s not as if it’s my fault Dad was a nutbag who not only stocked his shelter, but had a shelter to begin with. What did you expect? They had to have bomb drills when he was in elementary school. Duck and cover or some such shit. Like any of that would save you from the mushroom cloud shape filling up the horizon. But it was something for them to do, and I have to think doing something is better than doing nothing. My grandfather raised him with plenty of stories about the Soviets, which would be enough to make any kid a little nuts.

So he went out of his way to ensure that this place, this bunker, was full of everything you would need to survive whatever came. Food stores, a way to replenish the water supply through extra deep wells, exercise equipment, all sorts of entertainment, and just about anything else you could think of. He didn’t know if he would need to be down there for a year or ten, so he prepared.

I want you to know something; I did my best to save everyone I could. I invited the good ones in, and I invited the bad ones in.

No matter what, I learned that people end up as bad ones most of the time.

Except for Ian.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 15, 2019.

 

You know I am making up these dates, right? I have no way of knowing what the real date is. This camera says May 15, 2019 on the little display, but how do I know it hasn’t been reset or rebooted? There aren’t any new patches to update the damn thing, that’s for sure.

They say that in a nuclear Armageddon the only survivors would be cockroaches. I think that statement is wrong and sells us short. The real answer is always cockroaches and humans will find a way to survive. Though I suppose, at this point, humans are effectively cockroaches.

So maybe the original statement works.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 18, 2019.

 

I buried Ian six days ago.

One week. That’s how long it has been. One week. I don’t know how to go on.

My constant, my love. My…

I’m sorry, I can’t… not today.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 19, 2019.

 

This must be cabin fever kicking in. Heh. I’m actually surprised that it took this long.

Ok.

Let’s try this again.

Deep breath.

I buried Ian eight days ago.

I don’t know what I’m doing here anymore.

This was not how it was supposed to be. My family had the shelter since back during the Cold War when everyone either had a bomb shelter or hoped those old videos about crouching under a desk were going to be enough.

They should have called those old things ‘Better get ready to kiss your ass goodbye!’

It was a lark, a goof. We used it as a teenaged clubhouse.

Back when I was nine one of the houses in the neighborhood went on sale and somehow, one of the teenagers managed to get in the locked house. And then he told a friend, who told their brother, who told me, and soon enough we had a fully functioning house to hang out in. It was the perfect place to just get away from everyone else.

You know, just how every little kid needs their own house to really reflect on the rigors of elementary school.

Anyway.

It made us think we were older than we really were. And yeah, the older guys hated that us youngsters where always there, but they couldn’t kick us out because then we would have told on them and poof the whole thing would have been gone.

Mutually assured destruction.

Of course, no matter what there is always some dumbass in the neighborhood. Some kid or pair of kids who think they know better or think they are cooler than they really are. Yeah, we had those kids in our neighborhood. We had those two idiots. You want to know what they did?

They were playing in the house without anyone there. No supervision whatsoever. These two first graders who decided they were above it all.

Yeah, mistake number one. Not like they murdered someone. Very forgivable.

But then the dumbasses made sure that whatever it was they were doing in the house occurred in full view of the front kitchen window. Suddenly every person out for a walk in the neighborhood could look in as they passed the For Sale house and see one the neighborhood kids in the window.

You can guess how that turned out. Locks were changed, windows sealed up, and the clubhouse became a distant memory.

But it was a fun two months.

That’s what the bomb shelter was supposed to be. I mean, sure we were teenagers and no one knew we were going to be down there… uhm… mixing it up.

We’ll I don’t want to get graphic about it. A lady never talks.

So yeah, that’s why we’re down here when the shit went down the first time. When things went sideways…

All five of us.

Wait. Stop.

It just occurred to me, every one of those horror movies begin with the five teenagers and then one by one they end up dying or getting killed or…

Having to kill one of their own.

Yeah, life can be funny. But mostly it has a really sick sense of humor.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 20, 2019.

 

Jimmy and his mom arrived in those early days. This was after the people disappeared, of course. This was just the next thing.

We were too scared to venture out. Too scared about what the broadcasters were saying. Then one by one, they disappeared from our screens. But we had the internet to tell us about the chaos. And it told us more than we wanted to know. It told us about the fallout in Russia, that New York had sunk into the ocean, the fact that one of the missiles diverted to the North Pole… the heat from the bomb caused glaciers to melt. The ocean rose…

We’d sent out emails, to family, to friends, trying to let them know we were somewhere safe. I wanted to go get my dad, but he told me not to bother. Both he and Mom worked downtown, and the city had taken the worst of it. Still, he thought there were a couple of places where they’d be safe enough. Maybe even make it to us if things got any better.

So I stayed put.

But Jimmy and his mother came because of the emails. And it was good. Ian and him had lived across the street from each other since they were five, but I think his mom never liked Ian. And when you start to get that cabin fever after a couple of months. When the fear kicks in and every moment of every day is full of worry.

Well, that’s when those little whispers begin to get the best of you.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 21, 2019.

 

It was Jimmy’s mom who let the new guy in. He’d begun pounding on the door and would not stop. She screamed at him to go away, and when he didn’t move she opened the hatch and let the bastard in.

Yeah, it only takes one idiot to ruin it for everyone else.

He wasn’t right in the head. The radiation or the solar winds or whatever it was that week swept across the nation and gotten its hooks into him. He’d turned like most people do when they have nothing left to live for. He’d become a creature even if he wasn’t actually infected with anything. Whatever it was, it was enough.

Somehow, Jimmy stepped in the way, got bit. Infected. The disease transmitted itself to him.

If it is any conciliation, and I’m not one hundred percent sure there is, he did it to save his mom.

Ian put them both down. Because even if Jimmy tried to save his mom, she still got the sickness too.

We burned the bodies in the incinerator, and then hoped that we weren’t infected too.

 

End log.

 

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 22, 2019.

 

Someone decided we needed to go out. I’m not naming names, but it was Rick.

Have I mentioned Rick up to this point? Sorry. Rick was the fifth member of our little group. The odd man out. The one who secretly hoped he could use the friend zone as his way in with Kelly or me if we broke up with Daniel or Ian.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rick. Just not in that way. He used to spend the night at my house. Heck, he spent more time at my house than he did at his own most days. Not that I blame him. His parents were real pieces of work. His dad was constantly on his case about college and his grades. Never mind he had the highest grades in the school twice over. I remember asking him how far ahead of the second place person he was, and he told me that he could have skipped his last semester of senior year, gotten zeroes in every class and still been our school’s valedictorian.

So, pretty smart.

But it can be a bit lonely in this place, as I am beginning to find out. And now I feel bad for Rick. At least we had someone to cuddle with at night. Someone who we loved was right there with us. That personal connection is a huge thing when you are not sure what tomorrow is going to end up bringing to you.

Cabin fever though, it’s a real thing. I was beginning to wonder if it was the last stage of the Earth trying to kill us.

Rick wanted to go out. To see if he could find any survivors. To see if anything of the old world still remained. Maybe it was the cabin fever. Maybe it was that he needed to know what happened outside our four walls. Mostly I think that he needed to either find someone for himself or die trying.

I begged him to stay put. We all told him that there was nothing left for any of us. That the world out there was the past and we just needed to deal. But he wasn’t listening anymore. He waited until we were asleep and left.

I…

God…

Sorry, I don’t mean to break down on you like this. I’m supposed to be giving an account, but I never realized how much I would miss him. It’s been three years since he walked out the door. I really do hope he found someone else out there. That he is with the love of his life doing all sorts of naughty things that you are supposed to do when the world ends.

That’s what I hope for him.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 23, 2019.

 

Kelly and Daniel. I wanted to say a little bit about them, but I’m not entirely sure how to frame it. They were Ian and my friends.

Well our couple friends.

You know the kind that you can do everything together and not get bored. But you never are on your own with one of them. Ian called it playing two on two defense. That’s the only way it could work. Otherwise, it becomes one of them bitching about the other, and you’re stuck in the middle.

I mean, how many times can you tell me about some horrible slight Daniel has done to you and me telling you to break up with him and you not doing it has to happen before I stop hanging out with you altogether?

We had reached that point before the world went to shit. And after two years’ worth of it, the whole time Kelly wanted out of the relationship. I mean, you’re stuck with this guy you now hate. You could see it with the two of them after about six months. They no longer cuddled at night. Soon he was sleeping on one side of the bunker and her on the other.

I thought that might be the opening for Rick to make his move out of the friend zone, but it wasn’t. Thought Daniel might have killed him if he had tried, so I didn’t push it.

But when it was just the four of us… it got to be too much.

I wish I knew when it really turned. What was the last step that pushed them over the edge? Was it this idea of their not being anyone else out there for them? Was it Ian and me, still happy, not sharing in their misery?

I wish I knew. I might have been able to stop what had happened.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 28, 2019.

 

I awoke to Kelly standing over Daniel with the knife in her hand. He was gurgling on his own blood, and she had the spray all over the front of her shirt. Her eyes were glazed over, like someone who couldn’t see anything anymore.

And that smile…

Her smile.

I sometimes see it when I dream.

Ian did his best to approach her. He talked to her in that calming voice he has. A voice that would say everything was going to be all right if only she would give him the knife.

For a second, maybe not even that long, I saw something in her eyes. The glaze melted away, and she saw the knife, and she saw Daniel, and the smile didn’t leave her face.

Madness.

I don’t blame Ian for what he did. She went at me with the knife, and he stopped her. He stopped her the only way he knew how.

When it was finished, we clutched each other, just the two of us in this place.

I don’t know what terrified me more… Kelly’s actions or Ian and I being there by ourselves.

 

End log.

 

 

Begin log. Sarah Knotts. May 29, 2019.

 

I’m at the end of things now.

The food has nearly run out. It was a good run. I can’t complain about that. Ian really did me right on that accord. Almost makes me…

No, I told myself that I would be strong about this. I’ve collected every spare bit of whatever I have around here. I don’t know if I’ll need it. Maybe the problem with being a pack rat is that even now, of all times, I can’t let the old shit go. My bags are packed. I’m ready to step outside, for whatever that is worth. I may not last five minutes out there. There’s actually no way to know what a person might encounter out there. It literally could be anything.

Anything.

That’s a difficult thing to prepare for. What was it last year? It all runs together these days. Plague I think. Some unknown horror left behind by the CDC or some terrorist organization?

It makes a girl wonder if maybe the Earth is trying to tell us something. Dad had an old stereo, which actually could play albums. Yes, even long after the days of cds and then mp3s he loved that thing. More than that, he’d go out and get these great comedy records.

Pryor, Murphy, and Carlin.

George Carlin had a whole routine about maybe the Earth invented AIDS in order to wipe the humans out. Now, I’m pretty sure he was joking with that one, being a comedian and all. Then again, when you have one extinction level event and you survive… maybe he was onto something. Maybe, just maybe, the world is tired of us and now wants to weed out the undeserving.

So what do you call it when you’ve survived five of them?

The air may be on fire out there. There could be an asteroid streaking towards us right now, and I wouldn’t know. I’d be stuck in this fucking box, staring at the empty shelves, dingy furniture mocking me from the corner, the entire world would incinerate, and you know what…

I’d probably survive that as well.

Only the strongest survive? I got news for you; I’m not all that strong.

Or maybe I don’t care about surviving anymore.

 

End log.

 

***

I Feel Fine appears in the Machina Obscurum Anthology and can be found here.

***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

New Release – Tales from Vigilante City

Anthologies are a great smorgasbord of being able to get a wide breadth of stories that you might not have normally been exposed to. In addition, there may be an author or two whose story grabs the reader in a way that they want to seek other writings from them. For me, I just like a good short story. Something that can be consumed entirely in one sitting. Something that can ask a question or look at an event in a different way than a novel ever could. With novels, you have time. The writer can spin four or five different storylines and double that many characters over the course of three hundred pages. Short stories aren’t allowed those luxuries. You have to really focus in and cut through the noise.

I’m honored that my short story, “Anonymous”, has found a home in the Tales from Vigilante City Short Fiction Collection (which you can find here).

Vigilante City is the main city of the “gritty, street-level, superhero game set in the near future”, Survive This!! Vigilante City from Bloat Games. If it wasn’t apparent by the name, this is more on your Batman style of crime-fighter and less of the Green Lantern types (although the game allows you to tailor it to whatever style you want).

For my short story, I knew I wanted to submit something, but I didn’t have anything in the hopper that really fit into this genre. Weird that as much as I love comics, I tend not to write them in a prose format. And I was stumped with what to write. Was there a hero doing… something? Could I maybe write about a speedster? I love the Flash, but even that didn’t go anywhere.

Sometimes, though, you just need to let your subconscious mind work things out for you.

I’m not exactly sure why I started thinking less about the hero and more about the villains… but I do remember that I effectively wrote the story in the twenty-minute commute I had, literally speaking it out to an empty car in the hopes that I wouldn’t forget my idea before I could write it down. I wrote the first draft that night and finished it up only a couple of days later.

This is what I came up with: what if I wrote about a henchman instead of the big bad villain. What if this henchman has been doing this gig for long enough that he’s finally got that “one big score”? How would his story end?

Image by Allen_Henderson from Pixabay

***

“Anonymous” by John McGuire

“In Vigilante City, there are opportunities to be found whether you are on the right side of the law or the wrong side. However, the glitz and glamour of being the villain captured on the evening news isn’t all it is cracked up to be. And for one anonymous henchman, he has a plan to get his last score.”

***

In addition, I’m joined by some talented writers in the collection:

“I’m Not a Superhero” by Clare L. Deming

“BANG-BANG” by Egg Embry (hey, he writes for Tessera too!)

“The Icy Death of Dr. Furious” by Christopher Robin Negelein

“Marshwalk” by ‘Aerzyk’ Thomas Parent

“Midnight Ace and The Atomic Engine” by James M. Spahn

***

I just want to thank the guys and gals over at Bloat Games again. It’s very cool to get to play a bit in this kind of world! And remember, you can purchase it here!

***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Seven Years and Counting

I totally forgot about the anniversary of this site and this blog last week. As I was sitting here, thinking about what I might blog on tonight, I went looking through my old posts to see if anything needed to be followed up on, and saw that very first one was posted on 10/16/13.

I think I read somewhere that after 7 years all the cells in your body have died and new cells have taken their place… so in a way, you are a completely new person. After 7 years of blogging and writing (more importantly) I feel that to some level and then not so much on other levels. Sometimes the words for the blog come very easy and I get three or four written and put in the bank. Other times I’m reminded that the single most horrific thing in the world is a blank computer screen staring back at you. It’s hard to overcome.

Either way, I like to use these anniversary posts to look back at my posts over the last year and highlight a couple I thought were good… maybe you missed them, maybe you read them, but either way, I like them.

 

The Darkest Timeline?

Weirdly, this one feels very timely as my Atlanta Braves just lost in Game 7 of the NLCS. I’m not sure that it is a complete disaster, but after being up 3 games to 1, it doesn’t feel great. This was my attempt to try and excise some sports demons. If I say it aloud I can take any lingering power it might still have over me and the team… right?

Now, where does this weekend’s game belong on this list?

 

Parallels

I’ve always been fascinated by other paths we might have taken. Movies like Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run are right in my wheelhouse as they both ask and answer all those questions. So when it came time to dip my feet into the Science Fiction world, I knew that the book I wrote would deal with the same kind of ideas. Because, at their core, our decisions are certainly a way to  define us. They create our memories, which in turn inform every decision we make thereafter.

To Become A Supervillain

My feeble attempt to document some of the things we might need to avoid during the pandemic for fear that all this isolation might lead to my wife becoming a supervillain. There are common signs that we should all make ourselves familiar with, lest we be in the presence of the next BIG BAD! A big part of me thinking I should go back to this at some point and flesh these out a little more… maybe even like a miniature survival guide (How Not To Become A Supervillain!).

 

COVID Through the Eyes of a Cat

As I write this, Westley is laying on one of my arms not feeling all that great (his pancreatitis has flared up again, so the fun of giving a cat multiple pills multiple times a day will continue in this house for a couple of weeks! Still, this post is about how my two cats are thinking about their Humans being home all the time.

 

***

Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $2.99 for the remainder of October! Check it out here!
***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Interview with Richard A Knaak

I’ve written about Richard A. Knaak a couple of years ago when his Rex Draconis novels had a RPG Kickstarter running. In it, I talked about Knaak being one of those authors whose work really pulled me in and fleshed out worlds I’d either already invested in (Dragonlance) or he invented (The Dragonrealm series). Well, he has a new Kickstarter going on right now to help fund his newest work/world: Rogues Gallery.

I read in an interview with you that you initially broke into writing by driving up to TSR and just asking to speak to an editor. Which kind of blew my mind. That seems like a very big step to take. What made you think that approach might work for you?

I was young, naive, and very stubborn. It was only around an hour and a half away, but I thought I’d give it a try. Wouldn’t work these days, but I caught them at just the right moment. In a sense, though, it goes with what I often say.  You usually have to make your own breaks.

Before that trip, had you been pursuing more of a  traditional path prior to that? Submitting to agents and editors and crossing your fingers?

Yes, although mostly I submitted to publishers on my own since it’s often hard to get a GOOD agent without a sale. I’d almost sold a book on my own but could not get the ending to the satisfaction of the editor. Sadly, that novel was lost later. with both the paper copies and disks accidentally thrown out during a move.

What’s a typical writing day for you? Do you strive for a certain number of words or hours? Do you have any habits or techniques that allow you to juggle the various projects your working on?

I tend to have multiple writing sessions, most often in the afternoon and evening. I don’t have a set amount of words, but I seem fairly consistent. No real techniques, although a temporary change of scenery between writing sessions is helpful.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work?

Writing is my life.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

I’ll take notes and I likely have a very rough outlines, but nothing is written in stone. I’ll try to write a short paragraph or two about a chapter unless I’ve gotten to the point where I know what must happen. I generally know the basic climax. There is some flying by the seat of my pants, too.

Are there subjects or themes you find yourself coming back to again and again in your writing?

Redemption is a big one. Many of my characters have something in their background that confronts them in the present. It can be a really big problem, too. Also, characters who don’t start out to be a hero, but just do what must be done regardless of the consequences to themselves.

You’ve just launched a new Kickstarter for your next series. What is Rogues Gallery about?

Rogues Gallery concerns an alternate Chicago around 1930, where the sort of costumed adventurers and villains of the pulp era abound. However, the city’s protector, the Legionary, is missing. When it becomes clear that he is not likely returning soon, chaos overwhelms Chicago as various villains act. The police try their best but are failing. However, as the turmoil grows, conflict arises among the various rogues as their differing reasons for becoming who they are come into play. In fact, those reasons may be the only hope that the city has as the thus-far fruitless search for the Legionary continues.

We’ll also explore some of those reasons behind the rogues emerging in general, such as the aftermath of the Great War.

It seems that Rogues Gallery allows you to write in a genre that you haven’t dealt with much with your other novels (other than the Black City Saint series). What about the idea of that pulp era made you want to write this novel?

Well, in addition to having grown up in the Chicago area where Prohibition was something I heard about a lot, I’m a big fan of the Shadow, among other pulp characters.

Have you found it Is easier or harder to write a book that is somewhat set in the real world?

Well, there’s more research, but I enjoy it because it helps make the story feel more real while still giving you an adventure.

What is the plan with Rogues Gallery? Is this a standalone book, or do you have plans to release sequels down the road? How much do you already have mapped out?

This is designed to stand on its own, but I have ideas beyond it and, if the Kickstarter goes well, one of the stretch goals would likely lead toward a sequel. I know where I would go with the story if that happens.

You’re obviously a very successful writer, with many novels to your name over the years, so why go the Kickstarter route? Is there something specific about it that caused you to go this way?

This is a novel that is a little harder for publishers to pin down, as I learned even from Black City Saint. It also allows me to schedule it in a different way so that I can get it done as it needs to be. I will be doing the audiobook in concert with Hydra Publications, so, one aspect will be more traditional.

Your world of Rex Draconis was featured in a Kickstarter last year allowing backers to play in the world you’d devised. Is there any chance of being able to play an RPG set in the Rogues Gallery world?

Actually, the novels were a combination of an independent support setup and later publication through Hydra. The RPG material went through a very successful Kickstarter. I’ve actually had someone ask me about doing something with Rogues Gallery, so, yes, there may be some RPG alongside it. We’ll see.

Where can someone find out more about you?

I have a website, but I haven’t had the patience for it due to personal matters. I’ll get it up and running again soon. The best place to find me is on Facebook on my pro page at: https://www.facebook.com/richardallenknaak

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I want to thank Richard for taking the time to talk to me and answer my questions. Make sure to check out Rogues Gallery on Kickstarter!

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Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $2.99 for the remainder of October! Check it out here!
***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Last Day for Echo Effect at $0.99!

The Echo Effect is only $0.99 for one more day.

A quick reminder that the price of The Echo Effect will go up to $2.99 after midnight.

And for those who may be on the fence…

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approached the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path.

The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, mixing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

Want to read a little more? Here’s a preview.

 

Interview with Wishful Thinking’s Jack Raines

A little while back I ran across a comic on Kickstarter that just spoke to me: Wishful Thinking. The story was about a ex-Genie who becomes a wish consultant. That Kickstarter went on to fund, and now Wishful Thinking is back with their second issue on Kickstarter.

Jack was kind enough to take a few minutes and let me pester him with questions.

At what point did you sit down and think “I want to be a comic writer?”?
When I was a senior in high school I finally got my license. It was during the same year I learned my small southern town had a comic shop! I hadn’t read a comic in years, at the time I was more interested in manga just cause it was more available online at the time. So when I stepped into my LCS for the first time I was greeted with a wealth of cape comics (superhero comics are my FAVORITE), most notably Mark Waid’s Daredevil, Scott Snyders Batman, and Matt Fractions Hawkeye. Their ability to weave imagery with narrative made it hard to put those books down. When I learned Scott Snyder would be in Charolette for HeroesCon I just had to go.
There I met so many creators both professional and independent that were more welcoming than I could believe. Everyone was so down to Earth and there to showcase/talk about what they loved. It was then I learned that anyone could be in this business, and that’s when I started practicing turning my story ideas into comic form.
I’m a big fan of all those comics, too! And Mark Waid’s run on The Flash is by far and away my favorite run on the character. Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite writer/artist or creator?
Scott Snyder has been both my favorite creator and biggest inspiration. Everything connects in these wild stories he puts out in such a complete way, all while being a total class act with his readers!
How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?
It’s hard, especially now that I’ve started working 3rd shift and going to school. My biggest key to success is writing down a list of things to do each day. I try to go for 4 things max, and plan my week accordingly. I have a white board next to my desk for this purpose. If it’s been written down I get a sense of satisfaction from crossing it out, and it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Doubt I could do what I do without a calendar of some sorts!
I do much the same thing with my to do tasks, but sadly the thing that probably is the hardest to figure out is promotion. It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?
Social media is tough for me. I’m moreso a lurker than anything else so it’s been a challenge getting myself out there. So far my biggest success social media-wise has been on Instagram, but even then it’s hard to fight against the algorithm to get the word out there. My mailing list has been the best and my most favorite way to connect with readers. It feels more personal which allows me to write more about what these projects mean to me as well as what I’m up to.
What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?
Little of column A and a little of column B. Often my story can change depending on how the pages look. I like leaving character appearance to the artist’s discretion. I’ll write about their personality and demeanor, then it’ll be up to Trigo to handle the rest. When seeing how he frames each panel and designs these characters I find new avenues to take the story. So even if I am a few issues ahead I usually end up rewriting it by the time we get there.  The collaboration between my crew (Carlos, Ester, and Justin) makes writing fresh and exciting!

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 1

I love the idea of Wishful Thinking! What inspired you to write Wishful Thinking?
Thank you! I was introduced to urban fantasy through The Dresden Files. It’s really fun to think of how fantasy creatures would interact with our society. I knew that I wanted my story to be under the same genre, but didn’t know the specifics.
I then began thinking about what I wanted to write about. What kind of feeling did I want to convey? During the time of Wishful Thinkings’ inception, I was around 23, working as a custodian, and not having a solid idea of how I wanted to tackle my goals. I didn’t have much of a grasp on myself either, so the thing I wanted to write about most was identity. It was something everyone struggles with, and I wanted to personify that conflict through comic form.
Around that time I caught wind of a 6-page story contest. The top 3 would get looked at by an editor from some indie publisher (it’s been too long I can’t remember!). I’m not entirely sure what I was looking at when I came up with this, but I remember thinking of how if a djinn was a human it’d be Jim. Why would a genie need a human name? Well, I guess if he wasn’t a genie anymore. What would he do if he wasn’t a genie? Probably the only thing he knows how to do, help with wishes. When I told my buddy this he gave me the name for Jim’s business, Wishful Thinking, and the rest was history.
What’s been the reaction to the book?
So far I’ve heard nothing but compliments!  This project has been in development for 3 years, and seeing that work pay off in the form of satisfied readers has been a blessing. It makes all the stress worth it lemme tell ya! This issue dives more into the fantasy side of things and is a bit of a bigger story than the first one. Very curious on how it’ll be received!
Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?
Definitely identity, as it’s still something I’m figuring out.  It’s a thing everyone must go through on their own, and can only be found with complete honesty of one’s self. I think Wishful Thinking and my webcomic, Spectre Protector (illustrated by Sarah Burgess) talk of different methods of searching for that identity.
You ran your first Kickstarter for issue #1 and funded. I’m interested in the idea that you weren’t using the Kickstarter to fund the comic but instead used it to “introduce” yourself to the greater comic community. Do you feel like you succeeded in that goal?
Yes, I believe it did a good job. It definitely exceeded my expectations for my first Kickstarter! I tried to play it as safe as possible so that I can just get used to running a campaign.
I intend to carry that energy through future Kickstarters. In my opinion, it’s only to fair to fund as much of the book myself before going to Kickstarter. I want you to know this is a story I believe is worth telling! It also helps speed up the fulfillment process which is a plus.

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 2

I’ve found that the difference between having the book done or still waiting on the book to finish after the Kickstarter can be stressful, so I’m going to try and have any future issues done before then. Now that you’ve just launched your second issue on Kickstarter, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? Something that afterward you “wished” you knew?
The biggest thing I learned was the process of shipping these books out. I haven’t heard any complaints about damages or packages that never showed up so I’m glad all was well on that front. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but now that I’ve done it once I feel more comfortable with all that’s involved in shipping, and now that I know all the steps I can better plan out how to go about them without any need for stressful crunch time.
What’s the overall plan with Wishful Thinking? Do you have an overall target for the number of issues?
I’m shooting for 7 issues, each one being roughly 32-36 pages long. I have other stories to tell in this world, and if it continues to gain support I wouldn’t mind diving into that. For now though 7 issues is the plan!
Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Carlos Trigo, the artist on Wishful Thinking.
He’s been amazing throughout the whole process! I tend to give my artists a lot of space in the design department (the only character I’ve been picky on is Jim), and he’s given new light to each character he touches. For instance, the bank teller in this story doesn’t have a name. I just refer to her as Teller given that she’s just a side character. Actually, she used to be a he until Carlos suggested otherwise. After seeing what he’s done with the teller and how her personality comes alive in the panels I was inspired to write her a bigger role in the next issue! His experience has helped greatly when it came to refining how I structure my panels. I feel with each new issue I grow a bit more as a writer thanks to his, Ester, and Justins collaborative efforts.
If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?
Honestly, I don’t have anything to tell 16-year-old Jack. Maybe ask if we can switch places? All he had to do was play video games and go to school. No bills no nothin…lucky dog.
Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?
Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for them now, but I do really love fighting games. That community has the same vibe as comics. I ran an online tournament with a friend called Bapmasters and met so many cool people! That lead me to go to Chicago to see a tournament live, it was an amazing experience. I’m not too good at them (yet) but I love figuring them out.
Other than that I’m into the gym and hiking. Both are great ways to clear my head. I would recommend either of them to anyone going through a tough time right now. I promise getting your body moving will provide some excellent mental results! Especially when you see physical improvements.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Where’s the best place to find out more about Wishful Thinking and maybe any other projects you have in the pipeline?
The best place would be my email list! During campaign times I try to post once a week. Non-campaign times every other week. That’s if you want to see progress on my work. If you just want to chat with me feel free to find me on twitter @mysticmike8 or instagram @zach_brains.
I have a webcomic that’s free to read titled Spectre Protector. It’s about a ghost named Vera accidentally becoming the superpowers to a high schooler named Liam. Link is below!
Jack Raines is a comic book writer based in Greenville SC. When he’s not writing stories such as Wishful Thinking or Spectre Protector, you can find him writing mile-long notes trying to understand networking.
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Thanks again, Jack! You can check out Jack Raines latest Kickstarter for Wishful Thinking #2 right here!

Variant Cover by artists Ted Brandt (@ten_bandits) and Ro Stein(RoStein404)

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Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $0.99 for the first week! Check it out here!
***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

New Release: The Echo Effect

The Echo Effect is released today! And for this release week, it is only $0.99!

 

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approached the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path.

The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, mixing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

Want to read a little more? Here’s a preview.

 

 

***

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Parallels…

I was thinking about what I’m really doing when I’m writing a story. Obviously I’m putting pieces of a larger narrative together in what will hopefully be not only coherent, but also readable. But really I’m trying to do something else with the stories… I’m trying to answer a question for myself.

Why am I here?

What is my purpose?

What if I could change a decision I made long ago?

If I knew something terrible was going to happen, would I try to stop it… even if that meant putting myself through pain and heartache?

How much free will do we really have?

The big questions, the ones that philosophers have been asking in a much better fashion than I could ever try to do. They are trying to form an answer and so am I. My hope is that as I proceed I manage to gain those moments of discovery about the story but also about myself.

***

What if?

We all play this game in some way or another. We are caught in an endless thought experiment of what would happen if I had handled a situation differently. What if I had asked that person out? What if I’d gone to college in a different state? What if my parents never divorced? What if I never moved? Switched jobs? Fought for a relationship?

What type of person would I be if some of those things changed? Are we determined by our environment or are we predestined to act a certain way? What about the persons whose lives were are impacting? How do their lives change without us in them?

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

***

I think from the very first time I watched Groundhog Day, I was fascinated by a movie where so many of my questions were trying to be answered by the film. Where by the end of the film, Bill Murray has changed how he perceives the world and his place within it. He’s made himself a better version of what he was.

When I watched something like Mr. Destiny (look it up), we get to see a parallel world where Jim Belousi hit the big home run and his life changed completely.

He changed completely.  And not for the better. He learns that his old life is just fine for him.

When I watch It’s a Wonderful Life, we live Jimmy Stewart’s pain and joy only to see his life spiral out of control because of his good heart. As much as anything, the world around him is less for his absence.

***

Do you ever wake up to go about your day and feel something is off? It’s never anything you can put your finger on – something is just different. Your house, your car, the world?

Yourself?

Have your friends ever commented about an event as if you were there (when you clearly were not)? And then get mad at you when you say as much? Even going so far as to recruit others to inform you that you had indeed been there, whether you remember it or not.

<And since I don’t drink, that can’t be my excuse.>

Placed your keys in one place only to find them in another place later that day?

What if everyone else was wrong? What if you had fallen, passed through the fabric between parallel worlds? Could that happen?

What is the difference between some level of madness and a truth that is more insane than fiction?

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What happens if you could relive your life?

What happens when the people you love no longer know who you are?

Who are you when you have memories of so many other versions of yourself?

I’ll be releasing The Echo Effect on September 30, 2020. It’s my attempt to answer that question of What If. It’s my attempt to see if things are really better in a different life. It’s my attempt to try and understand my own effect on the people around me.

I’m hoping you’ll join me on the ride.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Dark That Follows on Sale for $0.99

In celebration of my upcoming novel release, I thought it was probably past time for a sale on my very first novel: The Dark That Follows. So for a limited time (roughly a week), the price will be only $0.99 over at Amazon. If you’ve never read it before, now’s your chance. And if you have read it and liked it, maybe mention it to a friend so that they can get a copy while it is on sale.

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A disgraced former cop who possesses the ability to see the future…
A college student whose life has become entangled in black magic…
A girlfriend who is no longer sure who to trust…
And a vision of the future, which shows only the darkness of the void…

With a touch, Jason Mills’ mind is flooded with images of what may come. Am I going to fall in love… am I going to be rich… am I going to get that promotion…

Until the reading that shows him absolute nothingness.

Drawn into a web of secret societies, Black Masses, and beings of immense power, Jason races to determine the truth behind his visions in order to save the future from being wiped out completely.

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To purchase the ebook for $0.99 beginning at noon today (Sept. 16, 2020), just go to this link.

And thank you for checking out the book.

 

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Free Short Story – Piece By Piece

From the world of The Dark That Follows comes a short story featuring the main character, Jason Mills.

For those not familiar with The Dark That Follows, it’s the story of a Fortune Teller who can really see the future. He has a client come in and when he peers into what is going to happen to him, he finds nothing but darkness. Through the course of the book, he finds out there are larger forces at work trying to bring about the end of the world.

Piece by Piece focuses on something a little less “end of the world”. Jason is approached by a client who wants to find an inheritance left to him… he just isn’t sure where it is. It’s a use of the Future Sight power I’d not seen really before. If you’d like to check it out for free, you can find it on the Tessera Site here.

 

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

 

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Where To Begin and Where To End

Over this past week, I was with family on our annual beach trip. It’s a great time for everyone to get together, see the nephews, and just enjoy each other’s company around the pool or beach or both. During the course of the trip, my dad and I talked about various things, everything from life to politics to religion to movies to comics and anything in-between. It was in those conversations that we came to talk about movies over the last few years that really resonated with us. He’s a big sci-fi guy and much of my love for the genre comes directly from him. One of the movies we talked about I thought was interesting from a writer’s point of view:

Passengers (2016)

If you missed it (spoilers to follow), it tells the story of Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) after he finds himself awakened from a hibernation sleep on board a colony ship about 90 years too soon. Much of the first part of the movie is about how he deals with being completely isolated (there’s no way to get back to sleep). After more than a year alone, he decides to wake someone else up, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie proceeds as a love story (and according to wiki it is an “American science fiction romance”) where they fall in love… and yet we know eventually this big lie will drive them apart once Aurora finds out Jim woke her up (as opposed to the “malfunction” he leads her to believe).

When I watched it a couple of years ago, I enjoyed it, but it was also one of those movies that felt like it could use something else to help push it from a decent movie to a good or maybe even great movie. I remembered reading something in a blog or a post or something where the person reviewing the film posited one change:

What if we started with Aurora’s awakening instead?

You suddenly get a very different movie. One that might be a bit more on the thriller… or possibly even the horror side of things. You see, when you are with Jim from the beginning, he’s our POV. We understand his growing loneliness, so when he makes that decision to wake Aurora up, while we know it is wrong, we get it.

But if she’s our POV, now he’s this weird guy who may or may not be on the up and up. It lends a bit of creepiness to the movie.

Check out this Youtube video for more detail on this idea/theory.

Because as much as I would like to see that version of the movie, the idea alone really got me thinking about beginnings and stories. It’s potentially a very strange thing to rearrange a story and completely change it’s meaning… or is it? Techniques like Flashbacks or Flashforwards or limiting our POV to one character for a story are just some of the ways that an author can try and get the reader to feel a certain way. Maybe they want you to be sympathetic to a character, so they show you bits and pieces of their history so you are drawn to them. But just as easily they could eliminate those very things and suddenly we have 180 degrees of difference in our opinions.

Think about another Chris Pratt movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. The very beginning of that movie shows Peter Quill as a young boy with a mother who is dying of cancer. It shows us how important she is to him, true, but it also helps to ground us with the character. Because most of the early part of the movie, he is a fairly arrogant d-bag. Without that first scene, we might not like him as much because we wouldn’t know why he was the way he was (can’t let people in because they’ll die on you).

Context is key.

This makes me think about how I structure my own work too. In something like Hollow Empire, I began Vadim’s story with comedy. I wanted to convey that this is someone who didn’t want to take things seriously. He is very fly by the seat of his pants type of character. But I also knew that overall his story in Season One was not going to be a pleasant one and that the humor early on would hopefully help the reader sympathize with him as things get worse and worse.

And even in my upcoming book, The Echo Effect, I have an opening section of the story that accomplishes a couple of things for me. One, it sets up my main character, but it also sets up the world that he’s living in (and it also introduces a secondary character that is extremely important to the overall story). When those things change for him, it needs to be jarring for the reader because it is jarring for the character. And while I could have not included this first section and instead jumped to the “something’s gone wrong”, I think it is stronger for the reader to be able to see that indeed, “something is wrong”.

Hopefully, when people read it, they will feel the same way!

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To read the first chapter of The Echo Effect, sign up for John’s Mailing list.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Push

Sometimes we need that little something extra to get us through the hard times. For so many of us that’s what this year has been. It is both the slowest year I’ve ever been through and weirdly at other times it has gone by in a flash.

Now we’re into the back half, and almost to the back third. All those things each and every one of us said we were going to get done over the course of this year way back in January… we’ll, we’re running out of time. And in these last 4 months we can’t feel like we have to do every single thing on the list. That’s probably not the way to handle things. Aside from being impossible to fit in 12 months into 4, we have to allow for the craziness to be there still.

I’m going to release a book in a few weeks… one that the first draft was done almost 6 years ago. I have taken multiple passes on it. It’s the second solo thing I,be written and while I’m very happy to put it out into the world there is something that is strange about releasing anything.

there is a fear that no one will like it.

Hence the Push.

I was going to release this back in April… that was The plan. Then the world went nuts and now I have to have a new plan. And that’s good. I have to keep moving forward. And it is time for people to see this latest thing.

Sometimes we need to push and sometimes we get pushed… but we have to strive to improve and to move on with what is important to us.
At least, that’s what I believe.

 

So I get to be excited and scared and everything else. And maybe that won’t always be the case but for now it is.

In the coming weeks, I’ll have stories about writing the book, things I learned, and just general thoughts on everything. I’m looking forward to sharing all of that with you.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Comics Today

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about how I was a part of the problem when it came to potential problems in the comic industry. I listed a myriad of ways that I consume my comics, but what it boiled down to was that the act of buying single issues of 30 comics a month has long gone the way of the dodo for me. -(see this blog post for more on that I’m the Problem).

In light of the recent layoffs at DC Comics (and across the greater businesses that own them), so many people want to point out the problems with the industry right now. They are ready to pin the problem on one or two reasons… which is really simplistic when you think about it. In almost any other company, when there are layoffs, it typically is due to many things. In fact, many times it might even have less to do with what is happening in the here and now and go back to something that was set into motion months (or years) previous.

The thing is, I don’t have any great insight either… not really. I’ve done a handful of independent comics. I know a couple of people who have done work for Marvel and DC. At the end of the day, I’m a reader and consumer of the product. And just like last year when the realization hit me that I might be (a part of) the problem, someone else posted something that made me start thinking about the current titles I get month in and month out.

The question was simple – if Marvel and DC had to reboot everything and you had very little information on what was going on with the relaunch aside from the titles, what comics are you almost certainly still going to read.

It made me think for a minute as there are comics over the years that I have loved in the moment, or maybe I collected for 200 issues, or maybe the title just keeps getting canceled on me every so often, but I still like to support it. There are those comics I like a lot, but maybe don’t read anymore because the creative team changed at some point and my interest waned. There are certain spots where a comic got relaunched and I used that as my jumping-off point.

What comics would I stick by no matter what in this weird/strange dystopian world?

Avengers

This is the comic for me. It was my first favorite comic beating out Spider-Man and Transformers. I’ve always collected it save for about six months right after I started college when I trimmed my comic buying down to one singular comic during that time (more on that in a minute). Avengers is the comic that I currently have a full run from issue 190 until today (500+ issues there) and I have my oldest comic of my collection – Avengers #9

Good storylines or bad ones, I’m all-in with Avengers.

The Flash

This is my DC title. While my collection doesn’t go back as far as my Avengers one, I also have a complete run of the Wally West Flash. If you watched Justice League Animated Series, he was your Flash. The idea that he is a guy who “just” runs fast always has cracked me up. He is so much more than that. He is the heartbeat of the DC Universe in my mind. He has the second-best rogues gallery of anyone in that universe (Batman gets the automatic nod for first place). The stories told about him are about Hope and love and family which sometimes is hard to get from comic books. Even now with Barry Allen having returned to the prime Flash role, I love the book.

It also doesn’t hurt that two of my favorite writers, Mark Waid and Geoff Johns have epic runs on the book.

The New Warriors

This would be with the caveat that it would have to be some version of the original team. This was a 90s comic through and through and yet I loved these mismatched characters. You might even argue that the one character with the most name recognition outside of comics, Firestar, was someone, who up till that point, had been underused and underdeveloped. The whole teenagers banding together to prove something to the world and to themselves was excellent.

This was the one comic that I never stopped buying. It’s also the one comic that after that initial 75 issue run has been brought back multiple times to little fanfare. I’m not sure if it just doesn’t have that same magic or if it was a product of its time and that doesn’t work anymore or what.

 

Those three are my absolutes, but there are also that next level of comics that I would think long and hard about – The Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Legion of the Super-Heroes, Aquaman, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

So maybe there is hope for me and the industry at large. It’s got problems, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond repair. We just have to remember why we fell in love with it in the first place.

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Coming this September – The Echo Effect

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approaches the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path. The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, missing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

***

The Echo Effect is a science fiction novel about a man who must contend with his own changing memories to determine what life he will choose before he loses his grip on everything.

 

The Echo Effect

Coming soon…

To read the first chapter of The Echo Effect, sign up for John’s Mailing list.

 

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Horror… Songs?

Like most people (I think), I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. My feed will fill up with the most stupid, crazy, weird stories that will cause blood to stream from my eyes and ears. And yet, occasionally, there will be some random link to something that is beyond a bit of genius. Today that was Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy who took famous songs and turned them into horror book covers. Each of them got my creative juices flowing, so I thought I’d share a few and what I thought the book could be.

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Every Breath You Take – The Police

By now everyone knows that this song is not a love song, but instead was always a song about obsession. Of course, that didn’t stop people from having it as “their song”. So when I look at the cover, the way that he’s laid out the lyrics in the bottom left are very much a mantra of someone who has completely lost themselves in this other person. This novel is a study of a young woman who has become enamored with a man who she works with or perhaps lives in a nearby apartment. She’s constantly finding excuses to be at the same places he frequents, in a hope to just strike up a simple conversation with this guy. She knows that she’s right for him even as she watches a string of women come and go. If only he’d turn and “see you belong to me”.

Of course, the reason these other women are constantly leaving (disappearing) is that she’s making sure there is no chance for them to truly connect with anyone but her. She hides the bodies and eventually does get that one moment with him… and she’s not going to ever let him go.

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Lady In Red – Chris de Burgh

Speaking of “their song”, Lady in Red is my wife and my song. We danced to it a Homecoming and then again many years later at our wedding. Yet, this cover has me seeing the song differently now…

As a serial killer, Daniel has very specific tastes. He only deserves the best. He cannot end up with just any person, what sport would that be? No, it has to be someone very special that he analyzes and then slowly brings them to the point that they are almost chasing him. Only when he can do that does the deaths mean anything.

So, when he sees Sandra at the club, she “shined so bright” and for once he saw someone who could maybe be his true love. All the death had led him to her. The only question was whether he could control his base urges and truly become a new man for her.

Or did he have to?

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young

It’s not Jessica’s fault that she is different. Just like it wasn’t her fault that bus t-boned her car a year ago. The doctors said that it was a miracle she survived at all. Now she just wants to go back to her old life. Move on.

Yet, she gets these cravings every now and then. Hunger pangs that aren’t satisfied with anything she ends up eating. Fruit and vegetables now make her sick and at best raw meat only causes the pain to subside for a day or so. No, there’s something else now at work inside her. And now, “when the leading man appears” she finds that the urges are too much to take.

But she doesn’t have to kill him. She only needs to “take a piece of me with you”.

Artwork by Brazillian Graphic Designer Butcher Billy

Maneater – Hall and Oates

I feel like this could be the sequel to Everytime You Go Away. That same creature of the night, Jessica, has continued her nightly escapades, but now she’s managed to attract the wrong attention in the form of the FBI who have now dubbed her the “Maneater”. Now she has to stay one step ahead of them all the while feeding the beast within her, for if this is her under control, what happens if she truly loses control?

***

I wonder what other pop songs might make good horror books? I feel like Duran Duran’s Union of the Snake could be something. Tears for Fears Everyone Wants to Rule the World. INXS Devil Inside seems a no brainer.

Got any good ones?

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The New Late Night TV… Youtube

I try to do the majority of my writing at night. I really, truly do. But sometimes the internet rabbit hole calls and off I descend into that level of madness.

I’ve mentioned on here that since the virus, some of my evening time feels like it needs to just be unwinding time. The kind of not worried about anything type of time. It’s that time of night to normally turn on the tv and watch reruns of The Office or Friends or Futurama or maybe a movie you’ve seen 100 times (Office Space, I’m looking at you). And while I certainly do that, for some reason, I’ve turned to Youtube videos to help me decompress.

Very Gary Comics

Gary is a comic book dealer. He posts videos about collections he’s found “in the wild” (as he calls them). He does unboxing videos where he shows us all the graded comics. Occasionally, he does posts where he sees if his wife can name comic book characters (she hits about 40%).

I’ve utterly fascinated by it.

I read comics. I’m not a collector in the sense of having my comics sealed up so that they can’t be reread. But there is something about the genuine joy he has for doing it that has me intrigued. Maybe it is because I don’t dwell on that side of the comic aisle, so everything is very new and fresh. Or maybe it’s just a new way of looking at the industry I’ve loved for so long. And while I may not be a collector in this sense, it has always been cool to find out one of the comics upstairs is worth $100 or $200 or whatever.

Had comic conventions actually been a thing this year, I have no doubt I would have bought my first graded book by this point.

Owen Likes Comics

This is like watching the History Channel for comic stories and creators. Owen takes a story-arc and in about fifteen or twenty minutes really breaks down some of the background behind it. Ever wonder about the time that Superman died… he’s got a video for that. Want to know about the Spider-Man Clone Saga… yep, got that covered.

Again, I think there is a passion there that he’s really bringing forth. Clearly he takes his time to cut these videos together, finding older interviews and clips to splice in. Sometimes, I know a bit of the story and he fills in that little extra. Other times, I’ve no idea what I’m about to get into.

Every time I’m interested.

Cracking the Cryptic

I keep meaning to tell my dad about this one.

I like playing Sudoku. It’s a nice way to do a quick(ish) puzzle game where I’m going to engage my brain and also see if I can figure this next one out.

These guys who solve these Sudoku… well this is next level. As my wife said,  “So regular Sudoku wasn’t enough?”

Apparently not.

What ends up happening is I watch a little bit, solve a little bit… get stuck, go back to them, they show me some technique and then I go try to solve the damn puzzle in about 3 times as long as they solved it.

I’m a nerd… whatever, it’s relaxing.

 

Tolarian Community College

It’s not what you think. I’m not learning Math or Science at this place. No…

It’s about Magic the Gathering.

The thing is, Magic is probably my favorite game of all time. I honestly wish I still was going to tournaments and playing… some of my best memories are with my friends, playing this game until 3 in the morning. I love the artwork. I love the strategy. I love finding the one play to win a game out of nowhere.

The Professor (the host) feels that love for the game. He talks about decks. He talks about formats. He talks about the new sets. He scolds Wizards of the Coast for bad decisions. And if you are a new player, he has tons of videos for you as well… to help get you into the game.

It is a true resource on the web.

***

There are some others that pop up on my feed here and there, but those are my current go to. What are yours?

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

How To Get Published Panels

I was looking at my list of blogs I’d sketched out back in December. I don’t normally do that, but sometimes it’s not so easy to figure out what a particular week’s blog may end up being about. So I decided to plan some out. I glanced at it today and realized that there were supposed to be a few convention reviews on there, but seeing as conventions have all pretty much been canceled, that’s not going to happen

But then I realized that even not going to a convention, there are similar things that I’ve heard at the How to Get Published In Comics style panels over the years.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been reading comics since I was 11. I started writing adventures of some of my own characters around this very same time in a blue notebook that I still have. Yeah, they were highly influenced by the Marvel comics I read at the time, and looking back there is very little in the way of story. More of this guy fights this guy and then stuff happens.

But wanting to write comics has been in my blood since back then. In high school, I wrote up an Image Comics style pitch and full script (even if I didn’t know what that was supposed to really be) for a character called Knightmare (see, he was a Knight, but also would deal with supernatural things… things that go bump in the “Night” – I’m so clever). Another time I entered a Wizard Magazine contest to write a Captain America story… I never even got a rejection letter for that one.

It all seemed like this nebulous idea. How do you get into comics? How do you break-in, especially when you can’t even draw stick figures? So when I really started going to conventions, I pretty much would always go to the panels that talked about Breaking In. Finally! Here was the secret formula for getting my big toe in the door. Yet, they typically didn’t have that “How to guide” that I was hoping for.

Heck, one of them once said (I can’t remember which writer said it) “The joke in the industry is that once someone breaks into comics, they close that door so no one else can get in the same way.

Most of them seemed to be summed up in a couple of sentences:

  • Time is the hardest thing to come by.
  • You learn by doing it.
  • Finish the dang thing.

And then? Who knows? Some people got in because they lived in New York. Some got in because they knew someone. And one writer got in because he worked in a coffee shop and a comic writer was one of his customers and they hit it off.

None of these things are very helpful (well, the first three are helpful in getting better).

Other panels at times were much more South Parkian:

  • Draw something
  • ???
  • Profit

There was a lot fo talk (in some of the Indy comic panels as well) where they brought up social media, but even that wasn’t overly helpful:

  • It’s important.
  • You need to do it.
  • Just do it.
  • It’s important.

All of these suffer from the same problem: there is never much in the way of details. Like what exactly are we supposed to be doing? One person mentions Twitter and then three others say they never use it. One person mentions Instagram and 2 others say you need to be an artist for that to work. Others say Facebook and then a bunch mention that is only for “real” friends.

Where are the examples? The helpful guides? What are the steps that you took? What are the postings you did that made ripples? What times did you post where it was better than other times?

Of course, then they shrug and say “just keep at it” and you’ll see!

Details are what is lacking. We speak in generalities about things that aren’t ethereal, plucked from when the world was new. Give me a step by step. What did you do?

And yes, not everything is going to work for everyone, but there is a roadmap you could at least give people, even if the edges are filled in completely and the scale is wrong.

A couple of Dragon Cons ago there was a panel on publishing through one of the Indy comics. In it, I learned that the best way to get an Indy book is to work for Marvel and DC first.

Blink… blink…

So get into the places that NO ONE can tell me how to get into, just so I can potentially work with one of the Indies? How does that make sense?

Here’s the thing, I don’t know the answers. I know there are things I should have done (probably), but who knows? Really, who knows? So my own answers based on nothing but feeling a little better about my own efforts:

  • Write something.
  • Finish that something.
  • Say f-it and figure out a way to publish it yourself.

At this point, with Kickstarter, you can potentially do it. Save money to hire an artist if you are a writer. If you are an artist, maybe befriend one of us writers to have an extra set of eyes. But put it out there. You sitting on your product isn’t going to do anything for you. And it is hard to push the publish button. It’s hard to be out there in front of people potentially having them hate what you’re doing. But it’s better than the alternative of not doing something.

As to dreams of writing for the Big 2… yeah, maybe, but at the very least I’m doing something. That’s a start.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Four More Comics You Should be Reading

I recently sent out the call to my mailing list to help me fill in some additional gaps in my reading lists during this time of staying home as much as we can. I got a couple of good ideas, but it also occurred to me that I haven’t talked about the comics I’ve been reading over the last few months.

Letter 44

 

From Oni Press, this comic is based on the idea that a new President of the United States has just assumed the office, and his predecessor has left him a letter detailing that an alien object has been spotted in the Asteroid Belt. In addition, there is a group of astronauts on their way to study the object/ship/whatever it is. That was enough to get me to pick up the book, but what I wasn’t expecting is that while you spend time with those brave souls who are clearly on a one-way mission to hopefully keep humanity safe… this book is a political maze as well where the current President suddenly has to face the reality that so many things he ran on no longer can be the focus. He has to struggle with whether or not to keep this great secret, and potentially deal with a former President who thinks he’s still running things.

I’ve read the first 2 trades so far and will be ordering the other 4 here very shortly.

 

Spider-Man: Life Story

 

Spider-Man is my favorite character in all of comics. This particular six-issue limited series is a love-letter to all the ages of the character. We follow a Peter Parker who ages in real-time with each issue focusing on a different decade of his life. Suddenly, instead of having him either a teenager or a twenty-something, we can see him grow old which creates a version of the character that is so true to his core it made me wish we’d hung out in each decade for a little while longer. As is the story acts as something of a “Greatest Hits Album” for the character by leaning in on some of the most iconic stories told throughout his history.

It was a fun telling/retelling of those moments that I devoured in the course of a couple of hours one Saturday afternoon and reminded me why I love this character so much.

 

Die

 

If you grew up in the 80s, you probably remember the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon where a group of kids get sucked into a fantasy world and are forced to fight the evil denizens in the hopes of finding a way home. Die basically takes that premise, doesn’t show you exactly how they get back, and then flashes forward by 20 years to tell the story of these very damaged individuals who find themselves sucked back into that fantasy world they’d thought (hoped) they’d left behind. Reading it, I was reminded of those conversations I had as a kid about what would we do if something like that happened to us. But I’m pretty sure my 13-year-old self wouldn’t have ever imagined anything quite so dark.

Regardless, I’m invested in the characters and the world. I just received the second trade and will probably bust it open this weekend.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes – The Great Darkness Saga

 

One of the cool things, when I was first starting to get into comics, was finding out my dad had been a comic reader growing up. His favorite series was the Legion of Super-Heroes, and on car rides, he would tell me the various stories he remembered of this group of teens who protected the future of the DC Universe. It wasn’t until the reboot of the 90s that I really got into the comic, but I immediately understood the appeal.

This particular story collects the Legions’ first encounter with Darkseid. The trade is a bit of a sprawling beast because of the various little bits and pieces which built over the course of a year, you really get a chance to learn about the characters prior to the massive battle(s) that are just on the horizon. I did wonder what it would have been like to have been reading these comics month in and month out without having any foreknowledge about who may be on the horizon. As it was, this was a great snapshot of those early 80s Legionnaires.

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Kickstarters and Good Intentions

Art by Larry Elmore

At the beginning of last year, I was body-snatched and convinced that doing something for the Kickstarter Zine promotion was a good idea by Egg Embry (of this very site among many others). Actually, it was an opportunity to dip my toe into the Roleplaying world that I’ve often thought about over the years. In fact, if you go all the way back to high school, the very first thing I ever submitted to anything was to Dragon Magazine, which was THE Dungeons and Dragons magazine. I read it every month. Anytime my parents happened by a bookstore, I’d search for the latest issue and read and reread them until the covers fell off (literally in some cases).

For those who may not know, Dragon would contain articles about the game. Sometimes this came in the form of how-to-play certain situations that might make an appearance in the game. Other times it was additional weapons or spells that your character might be able to gain access to in your own campaign.

It was in that vein that I decided to make one of my senior independent study class’s goals to write and submit an article to Dragon Magazine.

Now, that class was the biggest blow-off class (I’ll need a whole other post to talk about the goings-on in that class over the course of a year) and a perfect thing for my senior year. But this was something I was passionate about. I spent time crafting my article, which focused on a series of magic spells inspired by one of my characters. Without getting too much in the weeds, I thought the spells had promise and offered a different way to play the game.

Sadly, I received a rejection piece as my response (which I still have upstairs somewhere). And while I wasn’t crushed or anything, I was disappointed. It certainly felt like the ability to get anything potentially published was beyond a longshot.

(Later, after a few years passed, I stumbled upon the file and realized immediately why it had been rejected. There just wasn’t enough meat.)

Which brings me to last year’s Kickstarter: Love’s Labour Liberated. It was a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused Zine around the idea of Chivalry and Enchantment… Love would guide us.

They say that every campaign you run, you should look to learn from. They also say (whoever “they” might be) that it is easier to learn from your failures than your successes. When I ran the Gilded Age Kickstarter, I was definitely learning on the fly. But overall, I was happy with the way the campaign went. The bigger problems came in dealing with the printers and the end of the year holidays. With Liberated, there were a number of things I’ve learned:

Have a clear assignment of roles and duties in regard to the project.

With comics, I’m the writer. I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. With the Zine, we had 3 writers and once the other 2 had called “dibs” on a couple of things, I was left wondering how best to contribute to the Zine. We all kinda had a “we’ll figure it out as we go along”, but I believe that only caused us to delay things needing to be done.

Have milestones set up for the project even as you are crafting the Kickstarter.

We had our big due date for sending the finished product out (about 5 months), but we didn’t sit down and break down exactly how long we might need for a particular task. This meant that there wasn’t much in the way of check-ins by any of us… which led to the approaching deadline and not nearly enough done on things.

Just because you have time, doesn’t mean you have all the time.

This ties into the above. I think we all thought that 5 months was more than enough time to get everything done. Heck, between the 3 of us, that will be extra time. Maybe we’ll get this thing done early. Yeah, about that.

Communication is key.

Not saying that anyone should look to be late in delivering their projects, but I think Egg has done a decent job of keeping the backers updated. We’ve had a couple of hiccups here and there, but generally the backers get an update every 2 weeks. Sadly, for a long while, most of the updates were “we’re working on it, but we’re behind”.

This is more a personal one, but I think I want to have the Thing completely done before doing my next Kickstarter. There is a stress level that builds the later things go, and I know that with Gilded Age, that part wasn’t as much a concern. The only thing I had left to do was the overall layout and get the book printed. For my next comic Kickstarter, I’m going to basically send to the printers as soon as the thing ends. No delays!

We’re in the process of finishing the Liberated Zine project up. Last week we sent out an artless draft – basically all the meat of the new “stuff”, but not prettied up. This past weekend I mocked up the Zine and would legitimately say we’re 95% done. And I’m very proud of the work we all put into it. I think it will be a good representation of our work.

It just took a bit longer than we would have liked.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: The Biggest Fish: Smallville

Work is extra hectic this week. But I also have been thinking about old stories again and how nothing is ever wasted when you are a writer. Every little piece that you sit down and put on the screen (or in a notebook or on a scrap piece of paper) can potentially help you with the next story. It can help you develop your voice. Or in the case of the script below, be one of the first things that you actually finished that wasn’t a short story.

That’s a major milestone for a writer because there are so many reasons not to complete something. There’s life stuff which will interfere, but just as readily there is the Fear of putting your stuff out there in the world. Once you do that, others can now actually see what you’re doing. And while you may think that what you’re writing is alright, you just never know for sure.

I feel lucky that so many years ago I fell into a group that wanted to help each other. They created a space that allowed me to take the lead on something and see if I had it in me to finish it.

***

At some point, the following tale has become my own Big Fish story. Or perhaps it just has that sort of potential. I can only relay the events as they are currently in my mind… somewhat dulled by the time and distance from the original events. What you do with this information is completely up to you.

Garrison_Big_Fish

I cast my mind back to sometime in 2002 where I had joined up with a group of like-minded aspiring writers in the back of the Dragon’s Horde comic shop in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I like to think of this time as the beginning of Phase 1 of my writing career (Phase 2 came in 2010). The beginning of working with others on various projects, and the beginning of having someone read something I had put to paper (up to this point writing was this distant thing in the back of my mind, but I either lacked the willpower or the knowledge to even know where to begin).

Anyway, one of the group members (we called ourselves WriteClub… possibly not the most clever of names, but it got the point across) told us he had a connection through his sister that could walk a potential script into the Smallville offices. We just needed a script.

Smallville-Logo

Of course, the first question after “How exactly is this going to work?” and “Really? No BS?” was how were we going to do this? There were 6 of us in our little group and this could be something we all focused on. A true collaboration. So we sat around one Sunday and talked about the show, and if we were going to do a script what plot points should we hit? I want to say after that one afternoon we had a rough outline and plot points, but it may have been a couple of meetings before that happened. And I don’t remember all the specifics of those meetings, but I do recall the FUN of it all. This was our chance, no matter how small, and we were all ready to give it a shot. No idea was off-limits at first, and then we slowly began to circle around the true idea… the one that would serve as our story for this script.

That story was roughly as follows:

Green Arrow would make his first appearance on the show. (What nerve we had to even think this way. I mean not only were we going to immediately get this script sold, but we’d also be the first to really bring in a non-Superman hero. Like no one in their writer’s room had thought of that.)

Green_Arrow_Vol_5_logo

He would meet/come into contact with Chloe (she was the sorta Lois character before Lois showed up on the TV Show) and there would be some definite sparks that would fly between the two of them. (While I think this is a fairly obvious thing to do, I actually still like the idea of trying to introduce another person into the Lana/Clark/Chloe triangle. And there would be someone else for Chloe to add to the Wall of Weird.)

He would need something from Lex. And to get that something would require breaking into Lex’s home. (I believe this was one of those things that would initially bring our heroes into conflict as suddenly Clark is really stuck between possibly covering up a misdeed of Lex or letting a thief get away with something that could hurt his friend… a pseudo gray area for the Man of Steel).

And in the end, Green Arrow would get the heck out of town with some aspect of the information he was after (courtesy of Chloe), but with the feel as if he could be back.

Again there was more to it than that, but this was the basics as we settled on them. Now the only question was: Who wanted to bang out this script?

And the table went silent. I’m not sure if it was because none of us really had a clue what we were doing and didn’t want to be called out on it or what, but for whatever reason I found myself saying the words: “I’ll do it.”

Looking back, this was a huge step for me. What in the world was I thinking? What if they hated it? What if I was exposed as a fraud? Hell, I barely understood the way a script was supposed to be formatted at this point. And still, I raised my hand and volunteered. I rushed home with Final Draft ready to be installed on my computer and began to type, my fingers a blur as the ideas and the dialogue flowed from me. I did my best to develop scenes and made sure to hit all the high points. By the end of the night (probably more likely very early in the morning), I had the roughest of rough drafts finished. A masterpiece of American Television waiting to be unleashed upon Hollywood.

It was 29 pages.

Now, what I did not know at the time was that in script terms for movies and TV 1 page equals (roughly) 1 minute of filming. Smallville had a running time without commercials of around 42 minutes. Which meant I should have something around 42 pages.

And I had 29.

No problem, though. I was excited to have that much written up. And when I found out about the discrepancy, well that was why I was a part of the group. We tossed more ideas around and I believe we got the script up towards 40 pages (I might be wrong on this, but as I said above, this is my Big Fish and it weighs…). But we weren’t done. We did a table read. We brought in a couple of females to read the women’s lines to help make sure nothing was too out of whack. And at the end of that follow-up meeting, I took the notes and compiled that final version.

We sent it off to the sister.

Add_submission

And waited.

And waited.

And then heard back from her that she read it and really liked it! It was on its way as she’d pass it along to her contacts over at Warner Bros.

And then nothing. Nothing came of it. In my mind, I constructed an elaborate Twilight Zone-style scenario where the script was on the desk of the man (or woman) who was the final arbiter, and somehow it had fallen behind the desk, just out of sight. Because that was the only reason our phones had not been ringing off the hook (back when phones did that and didn’t just vibrate in your pant’s pocket).

Months passed and the script became almost an urban legend in the group. We’d mention it in passing like someone who had taken a grainy picture of Bigfoot or Loch Ness. The thought was occasionally passed around that we might be able to resubmit via another connection (we may or may not have done that, I can’t remember). I took the last printed copy and stored it away for safe-keeping. Eventually, like most legends, it slipped completely from our consciousness.

Fast forward to October 20, 2004. I settled in to watch Smallville for the evening as the episode “Run” appeared. It was to feature a non-Superman hero: The Flash.

For those of you that don’t know my two favorite superheroes are Spiderman and The Flash… but I’ll talk about that in another post. So to say I was glued to my seat would be an accurate statement.

This version of the Flash flirts with Chloe, steals something from Lex, which causes him to come into conflict with Clark.

Watching the episode was a bit surreal. Little things here and there seemed familiar, big things seemed close…

And when I was done I felt a warmness spread throughout me. We were on the right track with our script.  This episode felt so much like ours that it only reinforced that thought in my mind. The next day I talked to one of the group. His first words were:

“I liked the episode of Smallville you wrote, John.”

Now do I know if anyone in the Warner Bros’ offices actually ever saw our script? No. Heck, I’m 100% (well more like 99.999 – with a lot more 9s, but we’ll round up) that they did not. I’m not accusing anyone of anything unsorted.

I just think we tapped into that common Idea Space that is out there, that so many creative people seem to be able to harness. That same reason that multiple movies come out about the same subject (of course the other reason for that is because the studio sees an opportunity to beat an opponent at the same game, but I digress).

This was an example of that. That’s how close it was/felt to what we had done. That’s how close we were to getting a shot at the big leagues.

But above everything else, that project gave me some measure of confidence in my abilities. Writing that script in the first place and then watching as the others read it I felt like a team with others, but more than anything I felt like I could be one of the heavy hitters for that team. My future in writing was going to be big and bright.

I mean, I’d written an episode of Smallville after all.

 

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Opening Novel Lines

You’re supposed to make a splash with your opening line. You’re supposed to grab the reader and never let go for the rest of the time they have your story in their hands. Everything rests in only a few words.

Whatever you do, don’t screw it up.

That’s a ton of pressure for a writer to put on their opening line. I mean not everything can be The Dark Tower.

 

The movie Throw Momma From the Train focuses much of the writer’s block on that idea of not being able to nail the opening line. That if he could just do that, maybe the whole damn thing would flow.

I’m no Steven King (or Billy Crystal), but I thought it might be interesting to look at my own first lines.

The Dark That Follows

Office building. Elevator. Sam from accounts payable. Sip of water. Far office. Jim the terrible boss. New office. Handsome guy. Blush. Smile. Sandwich. Phone call. Tears. Screaming.

Marilyn.

A cheat of sorts as the main character is a fortune teller (who can actually see the future) and these are the fragments of his initial reading. While I like what I was going for, the idea of something quick, little flashes of information that Jason Mills was getting, it doesn’t ultimately grab you in a way I actually think the next line might:

“Are you sure that this isn’t going to hurt?”

That asks a question and makes the reader wonder and hopefully keep reading to find out what the hell is going on. Again, I remind myself that this is my first novel and the important thing is that it exists at all. Maybe I could have taken another year and finally hit upon the perfect opening line, but they say perfect is the enemy of done.

Hollow Empire

The splintering door shattered Vadim’s peaceful sleep.

This is actually the first story within Hollow Empire (which is a Dark Fantasy set in a post-black plague). Within Hollow Empire follows four characters (two written by me and two written by Jeremy Neill). So should there be more weight with this line? Should there be something epic to set off the entire world rather than someone awakening from sleep? There is action happening, so it is an improvement from The Dark That Follows, but again I’m left wondering if the 3rd line might be a better beginning line:

“You slept with my wife!”

And I Feel Fine (printed in the Machina Obscurum Anthology)

Huh… I guess the Mayans were right after all.

I actually really like this opening line. Considering the story is a post-apocalyptic story it fits the narrator’s voice perfectly. Someone who has developed a somewhat dark sense of humor about her development of being one of the few (maybe only) survivor of the end times. This does a decent job of giving you a taste of the voice who’ll be leading you on your journey.

 

Til the Last Candle Flickers (printed in the Machina Obscurum Anthology)

Dave Simms wished the world would just end already.

Another one I like a lot. And yes, both my contributions to the anthology were apocalypse stories… what can I say, I have fears and sometimes the best way to face them is to put them onto the page where maybe they can no longer do you any harm. Maybe. Still, with this one it establishes that our main character either has a problem with the world or is simply impatient for things to end.

 

The Echo Effect (forthcoming NEW novel)

The shadow of Olympus Mons stretched beyond Lieutenant Aaron Anders’s sight.

Only a couple of people have even seen this beginning. And while it may not grab the reader in the same way that prophesizing the end of the world might, I want to set the stage with this line. I need the reader to know that we aren’t on Earth and instead are starting on Mars. And while the book itself isn’t necessary about Mars, this mission Aaron Anders is on, will help determine his path throughout the rest of the book. Mars is his beginning.

This is just a tease, obviously. In the coming weeks, I’ll be announcing a release date for this one, so stay tuned for that.

***

I’m still learning, still trying to figure out the best line to start things off. And even if the first line isn’t an all-time classic, my hope is that as you read, you;ll still be forced into turning the pages and devouring the words. That the story becomes something you can’t put down for very long.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com