About John McGuire

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

When Fandom Attacks

I want to start with the simplest of questions:

At what point is the “Thing” no longer your “Thing”?

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Not this Thing… well actually, maybe this Thing

Fandom has reached the point where the next generation has caught up. They are already exerting pressure on the accepted way “things are”. When do we relax our grip on it and let someone else insert their own views/ideas/stories?

***

Did you know that eye-witness account only go so far with the police? The thought is if you asked six different people, who saw the same crime being committed, to describe it you’d come away with six slightly different versions of the same event. Sure, the big things would be the same, but the minor details – maybe something as simple as the color of a shirt would differ.

Why is that? They all saw the same thing. Why isn’t there a consensus on what happened?

***

We are all colored by every little thing we’ve experienced in our lives. Both obvious and not so obvious. Which means everything we consume gets put through a particular unique filter. Hence why we can all love a movie/show/book/album/piece of art, but not love the exact same particulars. It means we are shaped again and again so that those minor differences really become the most important things.

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***

However, there is always a place we agree – the crime was that he broke into the car. Whether that was with his arm, a tire iron, crowbar, rock, or whatever.

Yet, on a long enough timeline those things are bound to blur.

***

Comics, books, movies, tv shows…

Fandom.

This new generation has absorbed what they thought important and focused on that. This pisses other fans off. The more the version deviates from the “CORE” things/values/ideas… the more we rebel. The more we are likely to exclaim, “That’s not this thing that I love!”

The scary piece is we probably are both correct and both flat out wrong about the piece of fandom. As the time ticks by there may be less and less opportunity to say “This isn’t right” and move towards “This isn’t my preferred version”.

Take the Hobbit movies. I personally really like them. Could watch them over and over (and do every time I see the Smaug scene is about to start).

I hated the book (and wrote about that very thing here). One could make the argument that I am literally the last person who should provide an opinion on that piece of literature or anything which might be derived from its pages.

And yet…

***

Batman V Superman

Batman doesn’t use guns.

But he does in the Burton movie. His Batwing is firing them directly at the Joker.

Superman doesn’t kill.

But he has… maybe the better thing to say is that Superman tries extremely hard to not take a life.

Because it isn’t never.

Here’s the thing, there is a group of fans who are absorbing these new movies and deciding what the hero does or does not do. They’ve seen the love story in the Hobbit and embrace that as now a proper part of the legend. They realize that Superman will kill as a last resort. Batman could use a gun.

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These are the New Truths. Should we rage against them? Should we fight the good fight? Or should we possibly take a step back and reevaluate why we hold our particular truths so sacred.

Maybe we could just roll with these new punches?

***

On a long enough timeline, the details begin to blur. Will these stories end up a part of some elaborate telephone game where eventually the only thing which remains is Superman has an “S” on his chest? That Smaug is the dragon they are going to kill?

Maybe that’s why we’re gripping so hard right now?

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the Comic- The Gilded Age 2

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Two years is a long time to wait between these posts. The last one was back in March, 2014 where I talked about the origin story of the Gilded Age comic book. So I had hoped to tell this story before now.

Sometimes these things take more time than you realize.

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Here it is, with the character who inspired the setting. Strange to think that without Silas Gideon, the Gilded Age wouldn’t exist, but moreso that this concept has become something bigger (in my mind at least) than that one character. In fact, the main character for the Gilded Age right now is really Hannah (from the 1st issue).

This story is really the tale of 3 characters – Silas Gideon, the war veteran who has seen better days, but still has a need to put food on the table, Keturah, the gypsy who has fallen for her costar, but only manages to learn bits and pieces about him, and Oscar Grant, a man who wants to be KNOWN.

We all suffer in obscurity at times. We wake up, do our jobs, go home, and then do it all over again. If we were to die, our friends and family would certainly suffer, but the world at large would continue spinning the same as it always had. However, when a celebrity dies, we all take some measure of notice. We stop and it is a shared grief stretching far from our circle. Strangers who have never met share the same emotions.

That’s what being KNOWN means. If you pass from this world you leave behind something to note you were there in the first place. Immortality.

And yet, most of us push ourselves to be better than we are. Sometimes that comes in the form of losing weight, or playing cards, or shooting baskets, but we practice these things because we need to have successes.

Now take that to the far edge of things. What if you were the absolute BEST at something? What if everyone who heard your name knew that one undeniable fact?

And what if you wanted the title?

***

The thing about this comic, though, is that I wasn’t sure if it would see the light of day. The thing they don’t always tell you about Indy Comics is that the money is not a river forever flowing thick and strong… no, it is more like a trickle here or there. Other expenses take precedence while paying projects you thought were going to sustain the growth suddenly dry up to near nothingness.

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Much like when in your own household, and you get laid off… the belt has to tighten. Projects that were green-lit suddenly must be put in a holding pattern in hopes that things will be a little better in the new year.

So it was with Gilded Age 2.

The sad thing was pencils had been completed, as had 18 of the 22 pages of inks. Which meant that we were down to the colors and letters, typically not the place you want to come to a complete stop.

But that’s what we had to do.

***

The other thing they don’t tell you about… well, about most things honestly… is that when you come to a complete stop and then the stream begins flowing again, you can’t jump back into action at full speed. There is a slow build up.

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In GA #2’s case it had been over a year of it sitting on a hard drive. Terminus wasn’t even sure what pages they had, what pages they still needed, etc. Add to that the idea of getting the same colorist and hoping he’d have a break in his schedule in order to keep some level of continuity between issue 1 and issue 2.

It meant multiple communications from all parties. Tracking down the right files, and when a couple of those went missing, getting updated versions from the artist. Anything to get the damn thing back up and running.

***

A comic doesn’t exist until it does exist.

What I mean by that is before you see a printed (or complete digital version) of a comic book it just isn’t anything more than an idea. And idea that a writer wrote down, an artist adapted into pictures, an inker refined, a colorist painted the world, and the letterer fit the words onto the page such that everything flows.

But until it is done, every piece is just a piece of something which might be great, might be awesome. The creators don’t really know.

And that’s the lesson of this comic… it’s not a done deal until it fully exists. Don’t assume anything, and don’t take that fact for granted. I know I still struggle with that at times. Just accept those pages the artist sends as really f-ing cool trailers for a movie you HOPE comes to town.

***

But also, when it does sit in your hands… celebrate!

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

Book Review – The Dagger and the Coin Series

This is what happens when you are waiting for a new Game of Thrones novel. You expand the search a little bit.

Here’s the thing: I love the Fantasy genre. When I began reading, the second series I read was Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. Not long after that I dove into Dragonlance novels and Forgotten Realms novels… However, I stayed away from the giants of their craft – Brooks, Jordan, Eddings, etc. For some reason I didn’t want to make that leap into some world I had no connection to (unlike all the D&D related books where I at least had some passing interest in those worlds having played in my fair share of campaigns). Those others though, I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

Years passed and I read other things, lamenting that I’d love to read some good fantasy at some point. Then came the TV show for Game of Thrones… and it was over. My self-imposed drought finally ended. I devoured the five books over the course of maybe two months (it might not have even been that long).

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And then I got to experience (and still am) the waiting (I guess this is karma for “knowing what’s going to happen”).

So the call went out again… what could I possibly fill the years with?

Miraculously, it was answered when my buddy Egg couldn’t stop raving about this fantasy series he’d been reading.

“You don’t understand, one of the main characters is a Banker. And it completely works. Like I could see Banker now being a D&D class… that’s how much this works.”

Honestly, I’m not sure if he said anything else about the series other than talk about how this author made banking cool.

Not knowing where else to possibly turn, and maybe because Book 1 went on sale, I bought it and-

Wait… that’s not entirely true. I went to Daniel Abraham’s website and decided to read one of his shorts in order to get an idea of his style (see if I liked it or not). So I read “The Cambist and Lord Iron“.

I’m not kidding about this – go and read that story right away. It’s one of those stories that I’ve reread because I loved it so much. And it effectively has a banker in it as well. And the man knows how to write bankers.

THEN I downloaded The Dragon’s Path. And devoured it. And grabbed the next one and the next one… until I reached a point in January where I’d read all 4 of the released books… and had to wait a whole 2 months until the last book in the series came out.

 

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He gets it.

 

But we’re past all of that (and I realize I’ve not told you anything about the series yet).

Thousands of years ago Dragons ruled everything. And they created the races of men of specific purposes. Some were bred larger, stronger, with tusks or claws, to be their foot soldiers. Others were graceful and slight, but with higher intelligence so that they might create works of greatness. Regardless of your station, if you were human, you were a slave.

And then an uprising happened – the dragons disappeared… died out… leaving their charges to fend for themselves. Great empires rose and fell, connected by the old Dragon Roads of Jade. Countries attack each other almost seasonally, trading in more pomp and circumstance than actual real battle.

And that’s where our story innocently picks up…

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With a ward of the Bank sent out in disguise to smuggle all their Bank’s wealth away prior to the combat.

With a grizzled mercenary captain who happens to be in the wrong city at the wrong time.

A noble from a lower house who is teased and picked on by the rest of the men in his regiment.

Very humble beginnings, with no guess that this place and this time will set in motion events that have been dormant for thousands of years. That there is a change coming to the land, a new magic unknown to almost everyone, and an ancient sect waiting to be discovered.

I really don’t want to give anything more away than that as Abraham does an excellent job of making seemingly unconnected things come together. Bits and pieces of world building that appears to be just that and nothing more turn out to have a purpose I wasn’t expecting.

More than that, though, is how not only the POV characters are portrayed, but the “secondary” characters as well. By being able to view them through different eyes we get a glimpse of not only how the POV characters might see them, but also how the other secondary and tertiary characters view them. And just like the greater world building ties together, so too, does the interactions between everyone.

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I’m not sure how those other Fantasy books do it. How do they deliver the stakes? Do they tell you up front and explain that if X and Y aren’t accomplished, then the end of everything will happen? Because with The Dagger and the Coin series it isn’t known what we’re fighting for (big EPIC picture-wise) until the 3rd book. And I think that is a benefit of the series. Again, looking back I see how the pieces fit together, but Abraham allowed me to get immersed in the world, in his characters, the LITTLE moments, before he revealed the true STAKES for the characters.

Well worth checking out and for you, there will be no more waiting as the series is done. Though, a little irony that I’m saddened by that aspect. What can I say, I grew to love the characters and want to know what they’ll do next.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

The Agonizing Art of Writing Book Blurbs – Challenge Accepted

In the late moments of the day, when the wife and the cats have settled into sleep, I sometimes find myself struggling to come up with the next week’s blog (in between editing one novel and trying to finish up a novella at the moment).

Leave it to Mr. Neill to help a Guildmate out. He wrote a bunch of 1-sentence blurbs for each of his books, and then challenged anyone who happened to read his post to do the same for their own works. As this is a skill I certainly could use work on…

Well, Challenge Accepted…

The Dark That Follows by John R McGuire

 The Dark That Follows – A fortune teller comes to realize that his latest customer no longer has any future left.

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Hollow Empire – Twenty years after the Great Lichy Plague wiped out fifty percent of the population, the next generation struggles to find their way in this dark and desolate land.

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Beyond the Gate – A country surrounded by an oppressive Fog, where nightmares and monsters live, these are the stories of the Ruddermouths, the Sky Captains, and of the children of the festivals.

Machina Obscurum

Machina Obscurum – Dark tales of death, betrayal, and the end of all things.

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There’s Something About Mac – When Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie’s younger biological sister goes missing, it is up to Mac to track down the missing teen.

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Piece by Piece – Jason Mill’s fortune reading becomes an exercise in the Butterfly Effect as he examines a myriad of possible futures for his latest client.

The Guilded Age

Gilded Age #1 – Hannah Lancaster leaps at the opportunity to help the Branning Troupe’s Stage Magician, only to discover that his latest trick might be played on her.

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Gilded Age #2 – When you are known as the Fastest Gun, there will always be those who want to challenge for the crown.

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Tiger Style #1 – A kid with a Robin Hood complex discovers that he’s targeted the wrong “Rich” men, and these are willing to do anything in their power to reclaim a mystical artifact.

Terminus Team-up #2 – Amber Fox’s journey to the Gilded Age takes a detour through time as her companion seeks to understand how era’s end.

That definitely used a few different writing muscles. If you like any of these, click the pic and head to Amazon to pick up your copy today!

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

You Have Permission To Fail

Something I’m always amazed by is both how little and how much people pay attention to the worlds that their stories take place in. That both makes sense and totally makes no sense.

What do I mean by that?

You can tell when an author is more in love with her world than with the actual characters propagating it. When they’ve clearly spent hours and hours on the connections of the history of the world rather than getting to the story they want to tell.

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In fact, it is the type of thing that can completely paralyze a potential author. Especially if you are a plotter and outline things. In order to have that road map, you might convince yourself the only way to truly understand where things could possibly go is by chasing that rabbit hole all the way back in the timeline. Instead of knowing only your lead characters, you need to know who their parents are and by extension who their grandparents were.

And it doesn’t only happen in the fantasy or science fiction stories, but can be just as much of a problem in stories set during modern times.

The thing is, you need to know a little of this stuff entering into a story, but when you try to do all the extra, one of two things are happening:

You’re procrastinating on doing the actual writing. It’s not that you need to figure out the line of succession for the President of Earth in your world (heck, you might need that information), but by focusing on that type of… stuff, you ensure no progress will be made on the story. Instead of letting people know how far along in the process, you tell them, “I’m still doing research.”

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Or, perhaps, it is that you actually do need to have the information, but you don’t know how you are going to apply it to the story you want to tell.

The secret is, the best way to build might not be from having the constellations figured out or trying to figure out what the President had for breakfast two weeks ago.

I like to think of myself as an outliner. I love the idea of calling myself an outliner at least. But what it really means is that I have a very general idea of what the book/comic/story is all about and start jotting something down in order to begin to massage it into something worth bothering with. And slowly, over the course of months sometimes, the thing begins to become… something.

The question I always have to remind myself of is whether or not I’m delaying because of true and honest reasons or because I’d rather be screwing around than doing the hard part (you know, typing the pretty words into the computer). Am I such a slave to having everything in its correct sequence and if that doesn’t happen there is just no point?

No, what you need to do is bring a little Pantsing into your life. You’re too rigid, not willing to see where it all goes. So, start small. Figure out one little thing about the town where your main character is from. Or a couple of the people she is going to interact with.

And then go and write about it.

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Remember, it’s fine. And even though you are putting words up on the screen (or in your notebook) that may not always make sense, it’s my opinion that you are allowing your brain to almost subconsciously tell you what you really want to write about.

Every writer has had that moment where certain pieces of a story somehow start to tie together in a way that you never had planned out from the beginning. A thread appears, then another, and then another until you see how it could all fit together. So you go back and add a paragraph four chapters earlier to help grow the thread… until it gets to the point where a potential reader would never even know the difference of what started in the manuscript and what was added latter.

That’s a little of the “magic” of writing.

But behind that is the need to allow yourself to possibly write absolute dreck. Because sometimes who the town’s mayor is actually very important. And sometimes what he had for breakfast could make or break your story.

However, even with all those things being true… these words on the screen can be changed and tweaked and deleted and added and refined until you are happy with them. Write a hundred words you hate. Hit the backspace key and watch your problems disappear.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

My Musical Love Affair: Pearl Jam

Prior to 1992, my musical tastes could have gone a few different ways. The small collection of cds that I happen to be cultivating was an eclectic mix of many different genres. Among the first 3 cds I ever had were Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation, Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison, and Wilson Phillips’ Wilson Phillips. Add to that the handful of tapes I’d bought (Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Def Leppard’s Hysteria, and a pair of “tape singles” featuring Poison’s “Unskinny Bop” and Faith No More’s “Epic”) and it didn’t necessarily tell a complete tale of “this guy is going to be into this type of music”.

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Growing up, my sister and I were somehow convinced, even with MTV, that the radio only had one station. And it only played the Oldies.

Seriously. If every time you got into the car with your parents the station NEVER CHANGED, you might think there was nothing else.

It got so bad that during the summer the Beach Boys put out “Kokomo”, my sister would call the station to try and get them to put on Madonna and when that failed, she’d opt for “Kokomo” (which they would play because it was the Beach Boys).

Fall of 1992 that changed. Chad Shonk for some reason or another brought over a cd to play while we got ready for another night of D&D. And from what little I heard, I didn’t think much of whatever it was. The next morning (or more like around Noon), when everyone staggered out to their cars in order to go home, Chad forgot to grab the cd.

It sat in my player for about a week, never spinning… until Chad requested his property back. So I thought, “I should probably listen to this band for free since he seems to like them.” So I sat on the edge of my bed, powered up my stereo, and clicked play…

I don’t want to do the cliche’ thing of saying that listen changed my life. It’s not like I suddenly went out and bought a guitar and started a band and made it big because of that night. That said, it might be the first album I’d ever heard that I immediately liked on the first listen.

That weekend I returned it to Chad and promptly bought myself a copy of Pearl Jam’s Ten.

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In that following year it was a mad scramble to find whatever we could that Pearl Jam had done. Back in the days prior to the internet telling us the complete discography of every band, we had to go to the “cool” record shops and dig through the bootlegs they might have. I paid $20 for a taped concert just to get 1 song I’d never heard before (turns out it was a Who song). But every couple of weekends the search would begin anew.

A year later, I purchased Vs. on the day it came out (the first time I’d ever done that). I did it again with Vitalogy. I went to the midnight release of No Code and Yield. Each time I have a slight fear before I press play on the new album. I worry that this will be the point they lose me. I worry that they will become another band that I “liked”. I worry I’ll become one of those fans who, disappointed with the “new stuff” goes on and on about how they used to be good… or whatever happened to those guys or even worse “I wish they’d stopped X albums ago”.

Yet, it hasn’t happened yet. Sure I like some songs more than others, but overall they have yet to disappoint.

In those early days, if I had to chose my side in the Pearl Jam vs. Nirvana grunge war, there was no question where my allegiance was going. I bought Rolling Stones with them on the cover, scanned MTV for any word or bit of news about the band. When Cobain committed suicide my first thought was whether Eddie Vedder would be next (and selfishly thinking about all the songs I would never get to hear if that happened).

While in college I discovered that I could download some of their concerts… so I did. So many concerts (dozens)

I’ve written about my first real concert with them (at the Fox Theater in Atlanta) here. Not only is it my favorite concert of all time, it still is the concert I judge all others by.

I’m lucky too that my wife loves them too. That she’s seen them with me every time I’ve seen them. When they were boycotting Ticketmaster, Courtney and I drove up to Charlotte, NC to see them and then drove home after the concert. 10 years later we did something similar in Columbia, SC, with me somehow finding my way home through blurry eyes. She was the one who scolded me when my Fan Club membership accidentally lapsed and we had to get tickets for the 2000 show like “normal” people.

Look, I make no claim to be Pearl Jam’s biggest fan or anything like that. From reading blogs breaking down every song in their catalog, to reading about the concert exchanges online from various traders… I haven’t reached that level of obsession. I’ve never followed them around on tour (nor have I ever seen more than 1 show on any of their tours).

I do have a spreadsheet showing every concert I’ve been to and the set lists laid out so that I know which songs I have heard in concert and which songs I still need to hear (“Oceans” and “Breath” are two I have never seen from the Ten era that I’d love to be played). Also on this spreadsheet is every song they’ve ever put out in an effort to make sure I have all their songs.

I take offense when I read on a forum about how the show I happened to go to wasn’t as good as the one in X place. That the set list wasn’t as “cool”, or that it was too “paint by numbers”, or even that the crowd “wasn’t as into it”.

So there is a bit of an obsession.

And I believe in fandom. Heck, I read comic books and watch TV shows and go to conventions that are only based on fandom. I believe that while we can LIKE a great many bands, we can only LOVE a select few. Pearl Jam is at the top of that mountain for me.

I love the fact that songs which meant one thing to me in my teens might mean something different to me now.

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In a couple of days I will be seeing them again, for the 9th time (I can’t count Lollapalooza 1992, we only saw 2 songs and it was about a month before Chad brought Ten over), having again drive to Columbia, SC from the suburbs of Atlanta (I still don’t quite understand why Atlanta gets skipped on these southern tours every other time). I don’t have any expectations as this will be the first show I’ve seen not on the heels of an album release. In theory, that could allow them to play almost any song in their arsenal. You see, Pearl Jam is not a band with a locked in set list. It varies night to night, and while there are staples that will be played, it also means some of the more obscure stuff might sneak in there. Maybe a song you haven’t thought about in years. So, yeah, I’m excited. I want the crowd to be into it. I want the band to be into it.

I want the evening to last forever.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

What if We’re Wrong – Batman V Superman

What if all this has just been shouting in the wind? What if all our complaints about Man of Steel are flat out meaningless? What if we’re the ones in the wrong.

Every so often, DC comics likes to shake things up with their universe. This started with Crisis on Infinite Earths where they rebooted the universe and started over with nearly every character such that their adventures in the past 30, 40, or 50 years just didn’t matter to the current crop of stories being told.

One of the characters that needed to have this done was Superman. You see, he’d gotten too powerful over the years to the point that they were inventing new Kryptonite colors in an effort to keep telling new stories. I mean, what do you do to a character that can move planets? But with the reboot, they had an opportunity to scale back on those powers and make him someone who might be able to get hurt once in a while.

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FYI – Batman really didn’t get this treatment. Yeah, some stories were kind of glossed over (the more science fiction ones of the 50s) and whether Joe Chill was the one who killed his parents. Overall, they didn’t mess with him too much. He was getting darker due to the stories being told about him.

Years later they would reboot again with the New 52. And again it’s Superman who gets a complete reboot. De-aged, no longer married, lower power level… while Batman… well, his history is pretty much intact.

***

Batman Begins is really the natural evolution of where we had been with the Batman character and where he is in the process of going. And while the Nolan movies are uber-realistic (and dark), they were merely following in the footsteps of Batman 66 to Batman 89.

You see, Batman doesn’t require reboots in the comics because he is adaptable.

Superman requires reboots because he is not.

Superman is the boy scout. Big blue. He’s going to save us. But change who he is? Have him question something and everyone loses their minds. You see there are rules to Superman. Fundamental things that you cannot change. He is supposed to bring hope to those he saves. To those who watch or read his exploits.

Hope.

Only, what if he doesn’t have to be in this particular box we’ve set up for him? What if he could be angry at the world for not taking care of itself? What if he was tired of the constant struggle? What if you could present Superman in a way that had never been seen before? Would it be alright to do that?

superman kills

Is that even Superman at that point?

Man of Steel – That’s the attempt. There’s no humor in that movie. There’s no joy. It is dark and depressing until he finally ends things the only way he knows he can – by killing the bad guy.

Then comes the complaints, many by people who have actually written Superman stories.

Superman wouldn’t do that.

Superman would have found a way around it.

Superman doesn’t kill.

Yet, here was Superman who did just that. And this Superman, this version, has been seen by more people than probably have ever read an issue of the comic.

Superman used to not be able to fly… he leaps over buildings in a single bound… he jumped, no flying involved.

Kryptonite was introduced on the radio show… but no one would try to argue that wasn’t a great thing to introduce.

Things can change, right?

Why can’t he kill? I’m not talking like the Punisher, but when there is no other way out. When the threat is too great. When it will save hundreds of thousands of lives. When is it OK? Can it ever be OK for Superman to take a life?

Maybe we’re wrong. We’ve railed against Man of Steel and the darkness for 4 years now. All of us convinced that this version of Superman is not the right one to portray.

Superman V Batman made $166 million in its opening weekend. Maybe this is the version we get now. Maybe this character resonates with the non-comic book guys and gals more than big blue. Maybe it’s OK that this is happening. It may not be your Superman, but which version of the character was yours to begin with?

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The goofy Silver Age version?

The original version from the 30s?

The Smallville TV show version?

The Christopher Reeves version?

The one that wears his red trunks?

The one that can move the sun?

The one that kills, but only when there is no other option?

Maybe we’re the ones who are wrong. Just dinosaurs, seeing the comet about to crash into the Earth, and paying it no mind?

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

Marking Time with Movies

Like everything else in my life, I have milestones, road signs, stops, ups and downs, and everything else in between. These moments become fixed in my mind whether I want them to or not.

But there is another thing that can happen. Through the movies we watch. The best movies have a story. And I don’t mean the plot of the movie. I mean they tell a story from your own life, offering a snapshot of what things might have been occurring around the time you watched the film.

Sometimes I think that aspect can get lost in the newest spectacle which comes down the pipe from Hollywood. We rush to see these things on opening weekend that we’ll forget details of in the weeks and months that follow.

But when you can connect them to something else. Some event… they will always be there to illuminate that memory.

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Star Wars – At the Drive Through – When I was about 3 or 4 years old.

I like to think of this as my first memory. It could be that I don’t know the exact dates involved here. I have others from around this time, so it is entirely possible that it chronologically falls later than I think. What I do know is that this is the very first “movie experience” I have. It’s no surprise then that like every other kid I fell in love with the movies.

The thing is, I don’t have specifics. Oh I remember little things, but over the course of 30+ years and multiple viewings of the movie I’m no longer sure what is my memory of this event and what might just be a memory of the movie itself.

Still, that opening scene… I can hear that through the speaker perched on the driver side window.

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Transformers the Movie – At home

Consider something you are ultimately passionate about. Some toy or comic book or tv show or novel or whatever. Now find out that they are making a movie about that very thing… you’d be excited. You’re friends would be excited. I mean, you talk about the show ALL THE TIME.

ALL THE TIME.

And then the day begins to approach. Yet, for some reason your mom is unable to take you to the movies opening weekend. You, being the kid, actually take it fairly well (I have no memory of complaining… I’m sure I did). Promises of seeing it the following weekend accepted, you go to school on Monday to hear your best friends talking about these characters you’ve never seen. Plus, this being a time before you even understand there is such a thing as spoilers… well, they tell you the biggest news: Optimus Prime is dead, killed by Megatron.

You have your Princess Bride moment, “You mean Megatron wins?”

On and on it goes, bits and pieces of the movie suddenly etched in your mind without having viewed the damn thing.

But it didn’t matter. You were going to see it in 5 days… 4… 3… 2… 1… and on Friday you hurried home to look at the movie times on Saturday…

And couldn’t find the movie listed. See, you live in small town USA where movies come and go in a week’s time.

Disappointment. That’s what it felt like. And you watched the new episodes where they referenced some of the stuff in the movies and you figured it out, but still… you missed out…

Until finally it came on tv, broken into 5 parts (to be shown in place of the regular episodes). And you finally connected all the dots.

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Clerks/Mallrats – Dorm Room

While it was Chad Shonk who first showed me his copy of Clerks, it wasn’t until my college roommate and I made a bootleg copy of Clerks and Mallrats onto one VHS tape that it became an anthem of sorts for those long days in the middle of the year. Those days where we weren’t going anywhere. We didn’t have any homework to do (or we just weren’t going to do it right then). So we’d pop it in and listen more than watch as we sat at our desks surfing the internet, playing video games, or just talking.

All those quotable scenes flying in the background helped the two of us bond in a way that we might not have if we hadn’t found the appropriate common language.

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Ghostbusters II and Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Home… and the beach

For two summers I saw these two movies every day at least once each. My sister and I watched our younger brother (2 or 3 at the time) during the summer months while my mom slept (she worked nights). Now when you are babysitting a small child with your mom trying to squeeze in 6 hours of sleep it is a lot like Fight Club.

Rule 1 – Don’t let Mark wake up Mom.

Rule 2 – Don’t let Mark wake up MOM!

Most days we could find plenty of things to keep him occupied, whether it was hanging out with me in the basement playing video games (he just held the other controller while I played)… but the all-time fix to a fussy toddler was those two movies (again bootlegged on the same tape). One played right into the other. And while he’d normally fall asleep on the couch at some point during the 3 plus hours of cinematic offerings, neither my sister or I dared to change the tape… Mark had a 6th sense about such things.

roger rabbit

However, in the last year there is a slight caveat to Who Framed Roger Rabbit for me. While at the beach with my nephew, he asked to watch a movie with me (he was 7) and we chose Roger Rabbit. Even though he had seen the movie before, it was like he was watching for the first time.

And when the Judge is revealed as a Toon… his mouth literally fell open. Just perfect.

That image will stick with me now… and so the movies change my perception one more time.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Fools Get Their Own Day?

April Fools’ Day

Ugh.

To quote Gollum – “We hates it!”

gollum

This guy gets it.

 

Here’s the deal. Yes, you’re going to get me. Whatever plans you’ve drawn up and schemed for the past 12 months. It’s going to work. Whatever test you think that you have gotten me on… I am Charlie Brown trying to kick the ball and you are forever pulling it out of my reach.

Congratulations! You win!

Your prize? Oh, someone else’s humiliation. My embarrassment.

So “Yea!” for this “holiday”. Yea, for people dog-piling on to make everyone else feel less clever.

How is this foolishness encouraged? Why?

scott pilgrim

A few years ago, my Mother-in-law called saying that she was on her way to Florida to visit with some friends because her husband had left her (my wife’s Step Father). And it wasn’t an immediate thing where she said, “Awww, just kidding!” No, she milked it. And my wife tried to work through it a little bit. Trying to figure out the details while in complete shock about the whole thing.

Then the punch in the gut happened.

“April Fools!”

To which I said (after I recovered from the “what just happened moments”), “Well, that was awful brave of you. What if we had went off on him and said he was a horrible person and we never liked him? That could have really backfired.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that anyone will have learned their lessons. I just know it. And that’s just one example of many (that I’m not going to get into right now).

Did you know that the night before I repeat a mantra reminding me what April 1 will bring? I set constant reminders. I end up not visiting any blogs or news sites for the day lest I fall for the latest attempt to make me read an entire article.

Again, congratulations! You made me waste time from my day.

Aren’t you clever?

april-fool

It’s like being told that there are tacks on the floor and we’ve misplaced your shoes… and it’s really dark. So I tip-toe through this hellish day just hoping beyond hope that people don’t look directly at me. That they forget about me and run their prank train on someone else. Just leave me be for 24 hours.

I prefer it when the day lands on a Saturday or Sunday, then I can retreat to my house and not leave for the entirety of the day. I force the pizza delivery guy to hand me the things I’ve ordered and then leave as quickly as possible.

It’s like no one has ever read Peter and the Wolf or something.

<Speaking of old tales… I read that it may/probably/could have originated with Chaucer. So in 1392 he mentioned something that I would rue to this day.>

<700+ years is a long con if ever there was.>

<Well played, Mr. Chaucer.>

And no, this isn’t going to be one of those posts that is so meta that I’ve somehow made it a trick that I hate the day, but at the end I’ll reveal I’m the biggest prankster EVA! And then you’ll feel foolish.

No. That is not going to happen. Instead I invite you to share in my hate. Embrace it with me.

And if you need to get a hold of me, best do it by 12:00 on March 31, because I’ll be in 24 hour lock down for the next day. And no matter what you tell me I won’t believe you. The truth won’t save you on that day.

But let’s be honest, I’ll forget the date and you’ll get me again and dance in the streets…

And I will fume for another year.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

This Weekend – SC Comicon in Greenville, SC – Meet Robert Jeffrey II & John McGuire

This coming weekend, both Robert Jeffrey II and John McGuire will be at the Terminus Media table at the South Carolina Comic Con, at the TD Convention Center, in Greenville, S.C. on April 2-3!

We will manning Table 129 in Artists Alley, so come and stop by, have a chat, maybe pick up a comic or 2.

Stop by to pick up new issues of The Gilded Age #2, Route 3 #3, Terminus Team Up #1 & #2, and a certain Glyph Comics Award nominated series recently released as a graphic novel!!

Head to http://sccomicon.com/ for more information!

 

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Taking a stab at the DC Movies

There was a time… not all that too long ago where if you were to ask which of the Big 2 comic companies made the best movies, the answer would have been DC comics and it wouldn’t have even been close.

We no longer live in that time, but now we are on the verge of a true beginning of sorts from DC. Their cinematic universe truly begins this week. So now seems as good a time to rank the old movies. Note, I have only included those movies I’ve actually seen (so no Jonah Hex, Steel, or Catwoman… though, if I had to hazard a guess on where those might end up…)

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15. Batman and Robin – No doubt, just awful. I didn’t see this in the theater, and word of mouth spread pretty quickly on this one. And so I avoided the suck for so long… until one night I’m in my apartment with nothing to do and guess what’s coming on? I knew and I still watched it, trying to convince myself that there was NO WAY it was as bad as everyone made out. That worst case I could find some redeeming quality to it. Somewhere.

No. There is none. NONE.

14. Supergirl – I have seen it, but damn if I remember very much about it. I remember it being cheesy and… that’s pretty much it. Given that we never got another Supergirl movie I might not have been the only one.

13. Superman Returns – So Superman goes out into space for 5 years and only now comes back so that he can effectively redo his very first movie except that he has fathered an illegitimate child with Lois Lane? And Lex is doing a land grab? Again?

12. Superman IV – The Quest for Peace. Is that Ducky from Pretty in Pink? Oh, Lex, Lex, Lex… what happened? Oh Clark, what happened?  Has the Nuclear Man ever appeared in the comics? Yeah, I think that says it all.

11. Superman III – Why didn’t they use Red Kryptonite? Just why? I enjoyed seeing a mean Superman, but when you get right down to it, he’s really just having a Nic-fit, right?

But hey, Richard Pryor is in it. And I love Richard Pryor.

10. Batman Forever – It doesn’t hold up, I know that much. The Riddler, while way over the top (tell us something we don’t already know) is actually fine, but Two-Face… dear lord. Ugh. I don’t know who Tommy Lee Jones is playing, but that is not Two-Face.

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9. Green Lantern – I love Ryan Renolds. I love Green Lantern (not like I love the Flash, but I have been collecting a Green Lantern comic since the early 90s). So this should have been a slam dunk, no doubter. And I enjoyed the movie, but I also know that it isn’t the greatest movie either. But I don’t know what exactly to fix… it seems like there is a lot. I just can’t see it.

8. Man of Steel – A lot of my thinking on this movie will/may be changed this weekend. There are tons of things I have problems with in this movie. Pa Kent’s death, the 45 minutes of disaster porn at the end, the fact that there is very little joy in the movie. Probably the only thing I don’t have a problem with is the ending. No, Superman doesn’t kill, but I’m not entirely convinced he’s Superman just yet. I think he’s still Clark Kent playing dress up trying to figure out how he fits into this world.

7. Batman Returns – Let’s forget about the Penguin storyline. No, really. If it was just Catwoman and Batman we’d put it on repeat and never leave the house. That’s how good their scenes are (and how good Michelle Pfeiffer was). Sadly it does have the Penguin and so it doesn’t end up higher on the list.

6. Superman – The glasses. It may be the dumbest thing in comics. I can’t explain it to my non-comic book friends and family. I just shrug and shake my head. Yet, Reeves made me believe that a man could wear glasses and no one would know. There is a scene (I think it is in this movie… it may be Superman II) where he’s about to tell Lois that he’s Superman. He takes off the glasses, stands up straighter, and projects his voice… and then thinks better of himself. By the time Lois has turned around he’s back to the nerdy Clark Kent and Superman is long gone. It’s a powerful moment that Reeves pulls off that not many could have. And if that was all this movie did, it would be enough to be this high, but this movie also gives us “Otisburg”… and I will forever love it for that.

otisburg

It’s an itty bitty place.

 

5. The Dark Knight Rises – Yes, I know. Your Batman would never retire. Your Batman wouldn’t mope and cry over the loss of a woman. I get it, and I got over it. Not a perfect movie, but it wrapped up the Nolan movies in a pretty satisfying way. Bane, Catwoman, Talia al Ghul (another one I didn’t think would show up on the big screen). Flaws and warts and Joseph Gordon Levitt.

4. Batman Begins – Tell me a Batman story I’ve never seen on screen before. Show me a version of his origin story that doesn’t begin and end in Crime Alley with pearls scattering onto the ground. This is my first “grown-up” superhero movie. It is grim and gritty, but more than that it is the journey from the Batman we know and love and that little kid in the alleyway (at least until Gotham, I guess). And it introduced everyone to Ra’s al Ghul. What more needs to be said?

3. Batman – I didn’t collect Batman comics in the 80s, so my 2 biggest exposures to Batman was the old live-action tv show and Super Friends (and I guess his occassional appearance on Scooby doo). I didn’t know anything about Frank Miller and his ground-breaking update of the Bat. So when I say that Tim Burton blew me away, I’m trying not to undersell it.

Oh, and Michael Keaton is still my Batman.

2. Superman II – For over twenty years this was my favorite superhero movie. It’s cheesy, I know. And I don’t care (though I’m still not sure why they thought Superman needed new and weirder powers). This movie gave us our first super powered fight. But what seals it for me is how he wins. After all the chaos and destruction, it isn’t through brute force that Superman saves the day… no, he does it by outwitting his enemies (even the great Lex Luthor). This was no naive kid from Kansas, but a hero worthy of watching.

 

i believe in harvey dent

1. The Dark Knight – And it wasn’t even close. Not only a great Batman movie, but a great movie. Period. Nolan had updated the Batman myth in Begins, but here he provides us with not only the most worthy of adversaries, but a character who I wasn’t sure would ever get a fair shake outside of the animated series in Harvey Dent. They gave us the true fall into insanity the character deserved.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts from a 12 Year Old Me

As time goes on there are moments you’d like to go back to. Maybe you’d want to just relive them. Maybe you’d want to talk to your younger self and inform them of things to come. Let them know that while there are going to be some chaotic times coming for them, to just hang in there. There are many things I would like to share with my younger self. A version of me in Middle School, having recently moved back to the Atlanta suburbs. Dealing with being in another new school and trying to figure out how this was going to go. I wouldn’t mind talking to him and giving him a glimpse of some things to come (nothing that would mess up the time stream, don’t worry).

Things we all would like to say to our younger selves.

mother is watching

Yet the other day, as I was digging through my email I found something my mother sent me… from that younger version of me. I’m think this is his way of having a little visit with me.

“Ten Guidelines I Would Like to Live By.”

1 – Make the best grades I can.

One of the things I took pride in was being good in school. Up until Middle School the only B I’d ever gotten was in Penmanship (and that was quickly corrected after my step-father spoke with the teacher). This striving came to a head in college when I had made a couple of D’s one quarter and proceeded to doubt my abilities to even make it. Luckily my dad understood exactly what I needed to hear and instead of disappointment from him, I got encouragement.

2 – Be more considerate of other peoples feelings.* (apparently I put the asterisk there, probably denoting a level of importance)

I try to do this. I think I’m more successful than not, but I know there are things I could do to ensure no one thinks I take them for granted (friends, family, co-workers). Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in my own world.

3 – Try my best at doing everything.*

Another one that I still strive for. I think it is something I would like to have in my writing… always getting better, always trying to learn…

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4 – Respect elders

That’s one of those from my own parents and grandparents and Aunt and Uncle. It was ingrained at an early age. Something as simple as saying “yes sir” or “yes ma’am”.

5 – Keep organized

Well, you can’t win them all can you…

Actually I am pretty well organized. Following my lovely bride’s example, I worship the Goddess of the To Do List. The thing that eludes me is organizing my time in the most efficient manner. So many distractions (so many more than the 12 year old me could imagine).

6 – Do not vandalize

A very odd one. I’d love to know why this was on the list at all. Not like I did any vandalizing in my youth, and I’m happy to say, as far as I can recall, I’ve never defaced anyone else’s property.

7 – Do not steal

My younger self wouldn’t count Napster as stealing would he? I mean everyone was doing it. How else was a struggling college student going to keep up with all the new music? But I never bothered with Metallica (I had their stuff already).

8 – Do not lie to elders

Tied directly into number 4 above. Again, I think I’m winning this one so far.

9 – Respect other people’s ideas

But what if they are really dumb?

I mean, really dumb? Then it’s OK, right?

As a writer, working with other writers, not only do you need a tough skin to handle criticism, I think you also have to be open to other ideas about your work. You need to be able to use the parts that make the most sense and those that you don’t believe apply… don’t use. But always remember each little note, as painful as they can be, is only going to make you better.

10 -Set goals and keep them

100 times this. I struggle with this, as I think most people do. And I think it is important to do this, but I also think you have to be careful to set realistic goals. Push for things you can control, but don’t beat yourself up about the stuff you can’t. And celebrate your victories, because sometimes they come in bunches, but sometimes it takes a while for the next one to get here.

***

With all of this, I would like to think, even with my failings, that I’ve made my 12 year old self proud. Just need to shore up some of those I’ve fallen a little short on.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Convention Update – Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo 2016

This past weekend was the second annual (assuming we haven’t all killed the Expo organizer yet after 2 years) Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo. Probably the biggest thing that sets this little (though already more than doubled the number of vendors from year 1 to year 2) convention apart is the cost: FREE. You see, it is set up near the food court of one of the malls (North DeKalb Mall, just outside of Atlanta) and so anyone who wants to can take a stroll through the tables and maybe spend a little cash or just keep on walking. And while you certainly can’t beat the price, over the course of the weekend there were tons (I mean, I don’t have an exact number for you… let’s just go with tons) of people who had come for some shopping or the movie theater and found this weird little event going on right in front of them.

And while those random walk-ups may or may not bother to really read any of Terminus’s comics, it was still a chance to expose them to us, to some of the other indy comic guys from the Atlanta (and beyond) area, and to some of the novelists, costume people… all sorts of people really. People who might have tolled over their wares for years.

Now if you read my report from last year (go ahead, I’ll wait) you’ll see that I had very low expectations and then was pleasantly surprised throughout the weekend by the foot traffic we got. So this year I had hopes, expectations about the number of comics we might be able to sell. Of course we had a couple of new issues we debuted at the Expo (and that didn’t hurt):

Route 3 #3

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Gilded Age #2

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But that wasn’t all as we also had a rebranded cover of Terminus Team-up #1 (the comic featuring Terminus’s Amber Fox – a cross between Doctor Who and Laura Croft). In the past, for whatever reason issue #1 of that comic didn’t sell and therefore issue #2 didn’t sell (I mean, who is going to buy only issue 2… it’s all or nothing most of the time)… The new cover turned that around. So many times we had people grab the whole series (Team-up, Gilded Age, or Route 3) all in one purchase. And just that very fact meant that instead of only selling one comic to a potential customer you are easily selling 2 or 3.

Business Aside – I learned something more important than anything else I’ve mentioned in this post. You know how when you get gas there is always a $XX.X9.99 amount to it? Or when you go shopping in general and things are priced $10.99 instead of just saying $11.00. For someone with OCD I could see that possibly driving them nuts (or maybe soothing them, I guess, according to how their particualr OCD works). But the business people all swear by it… people get fooled and buy the item even though there is really no good difference between the price and something one cent more.

That also works just because… math, I guess. We had a sign which said: 1 comic for $4 and 5 comics for $20.

I’ll wait while you determine how much better that $20 deal is.

Got it?

Yeah, its the same amount. Obviously.

Actually, maybe not so obviously. So many people (not quite the tons of earlier… perhaps a different large number) ended up seeing that and buying 5 comics from us… I guess in order to get the “Deal”.

Note – we didn’t put the sign up that way to try and trick anyone. It was only after the other guys had put it there that I pointed out the difference (or the lack of difference between the prices). Still, it was a strange thing to think that maybe those $X.99 guys and gals might have been onto something this whole time.

End aside.

Atlanta Expo-1

Me and Robert Jeffrey II talking about our Funny Books.

 

So aside from meeting people and having a decent set-up, Terminus also was able to have a panel where we not only talked about our comics, but also we had someone from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to discuss some of our motion comic footage we’ve been doing for them. This was the project that seemed to really interest people as they started asking questions about the project, about the focus groups, and even about what things they might want to see (one thing I definitely think we’d do if we get to do more episodes). And a member of Shadeaux Media sat in to briefly touched on the Video Game they are developing (using Amber Fox as the star). Plus, if you click on the above link it will take you to their Facebook Page where you can see a little bit of the digital world

I’m not going to lie, shaking hands and… well, shaking hands and talking to people all weekend – you’d think that wouldn’t tire a guy out, but it certainly does. But I’m glad to have done it, and fingers crossed I’ll be there next year, ready to go!

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

This Weekend – The Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo

This coming weekend, both Robert Jeffrey II and John McGuire will be manning the Terminus Media booth at the Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo.

Located inside North Dekalb Mall, the best part is that it is absolutely FREE to attend (FREE? Yes, FREE!). So swing by and maybe chat us up, take a look at a couple of new premieres:

Route 3 #3 and Gilded Age #2 will both be available for purchase at the Expo.

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And if you come on Sunday, be sure to check out the Terminus Media panel from 2:00 to 2:50.

New Myths and Legends

In ancient times we made up stories about the gods and goddesses in order to explain the craziness of the world we lived in. Instead of science we had myth in order to understand the phenomenon we encounter every day. From those stories the legends that were the gods began to take shape. Our very thoughts brought them to life.

Yet as time went on the need for these pantheon of beings more powerful than ourselves went away. They were replaced by our modern religions until now they are taught in schools for their stories. They are called myths and we chuckle that we might have been so primitive enough in our reasoning to think that was how the world worked.

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What people don’t realize… what I didn’t realize until this last year or so, is that there are new gods being created every day. And while they don’t have the coolness of names like Zeus or Set, I’m sure somewhere the Selfie god is enjoying the creation of more duck lips (that’s how he knows you truly love him – it’s like a secret language). The Social Media goddess is one of many faces, all of them engaged with someone else in an attempt to make as many friends as possible and “win” the internet. And let’s not forget about the modern-day David and Goliath, cousin gods forever locked in a deadly combat: Windows and Apple. One forgetful and moody, and the other smug and full of itself and its power.

However, I did not come to talk about those, but about another one I have learned about. I know my wife is one of her high priestesses as she invokes her name every day and most days she does so many times over.

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The Bucket List, one of her favorites

 

The Great To Do List.

She will guilt you until you have appeased her. Don’t add something just to be able to cross it off, for this will anger her in ways you cannot possibly fathom. And as your lists grow and diminish, you will find it has a heart beat of its own. In your hands, notebook, laptop, tablet, phone, whatever is something to which you much feed, else you will surely be crushed under its weight.

You will know her by her appearance. Bullet points lining a page becomes the Mona Lisa in the hands of one of her worshipers. Forget understanding why the item needs to be completed, the only thing that matters is doing the latest task.

And the guilt at not doing your fair share of the list? Unbearable. You will toss in your bed at night, unable to greet the sweet release of sleep as every item weighs down on you like a stone pressed to your chest.

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In order to stave off the insanity, you will begin to add more and more mundane tasks to the List. Cleaning up the kitchen suddenly gets broken into different appliances, because why only mark off ONE thing when I can mark off FOUR.

Need to call a friend, better write it down. Remember, if you don’t do it now then you will have only yourself to blame when she extracts her vengeance on you. The pit in your stomach, that’s her. Always watching, always demanding of more and more in tribute.

And you will claim to no longer need such things. You will delete the files and throw out her stationary (post-it notes), but she will linger, trying to explain how great and wonderful she can make you if only you’d mark one thing off today. Just one thing.

Perhaps you need to get a blog done? Better finish it before your deadline. Better to let the world know of her existence than suffer for one more day under her watchful eye.

And now that you are done, strike the item from the list.

That’s a good boy.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Over-used Words

I’m in the process of editing right now. It is honestly my least favorite part of the writing process. Mostly because the act of that first draft is very freeing, if you allow it to be. I’m not one who needs every line and every word to be in its right place during the initial stages. I’m more than willing to just put it all on the page and hope for the best.

Now that’s not to say I don’t have a game plan or outline, but it means I allow myself to make mistakes. I don’t really self-edit as I go along. Really the only thing I will do is fix something’s spelling… and that is mostly so I don’t have to bother doing it later.

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So I finish up the draft and much celebrating is done because you should be celebrating writing 90,000 words or 60,000 words or a million words or, hell, 2 words.

But…

It also means that there is a lot of fixing needing to be done on the second pass. Though, to be honest, while it’s time consuming, I don’t mind that pass too much since most of it is manipulating words and phrases, deleting things which no longer belong, or adding things in to foreshadow something later in the book. In fact, this is “writing” more than “editing”.

This is not where I’m at with The White Effect. No, I’m at that next pass where I need to start making sure the stupid stuff isn’t screwing me up. The, gulp, grammar stuff. You know, all that crap they went on and on in English class and you spent the entire hour doodling in your notebook? Yeah, that.

Sigh.

Not only that, but it is also the point where

Luckily (or at least I think it is lucky), I have begun to figure out my crutch words and phrases. So that 3rd pass is really about systematically eliminating all those “bad” words. A true Seek and Destroy style mission using your word finder and the delete key a far amount (note, this doesn’t always apply to dialogue – people do not speak “correctly”).

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Adverbs – Anything that ends in “ly” is fair game for elimination. However, as with all of these words or phrases, I do a reread of the paragraph and see if it really warrants extinction. Sadly (hey, there’s that “ly”), adverbs most of the time don’t add as much as we think they do.

For example: “The girl ran quickly.”

Well, how else might she run? Typically if I wanted to imply that she was really pouring it on I’d opt for something like: “The girl sprinted.”

That – This is my absolute favorite one to get rid of. Most of the time the word “that” can be eliminated. Flat out. Read your sentence with “that” and then read it again without “that”… no difference (I’d say 75-80% of the time).

Nodded, Smiled, Laughed, Sighed, Shrugged, Shook, and Grinned – These are really more like placeholders for me on that first pass. I can’t always think of great things for someone to do, so I slot these in initially, and it is on this pass I begin to alter them into something a little… classier maybe. “She grinned.” vs. “She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.”

I just need something different that 1000 instances of “grinned” and “nodded”.

Just – I probably use this more in my dialogue than in my prose, but it does sneak in there as well. Another word to be deleted.

He said aloud – Another placeholder, waiting to grow up and become something better.

Cliches – These vary from project to project, and I’m not going to claim to find them all, but most of the time I try to avoid them: Needle in a haystack, grasping at straws, get out of dodge, and fast and furious have managed to infiltrate my prose on more than one occasion.

That’s just some of them. I have a word document full of them.

The best thing is that each project I’ve managed to eliminate some of my tendencies. The bad thing is that sometimes exposes a new one.

That’s all for today, back to hunting.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Down with the Sickness

I’m sick. Have been for the last couple of days. One of those flu/cold things which makes it hard to focus on more than watching the tv. I stumble from bedroom to living room couch and then back again. Today I even out slept the cats (that’s a first).

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So this blog is probably as much a result of fevered dreams during a sleepless night and a nap filled day.

This particular version has expressed itself in a sore throat such that I have to hesitate before that first swallow after waking up. I have the slight fever. Less on the cough (though it is somewhat there) and lucky not to deal with the hot and cold sweats.

And in the midst of the painful swallowing and the coughing and general yucky feeling I’m also making that mental list in my head for how I can use this in a future story/novel/moment. The frustrations at the pain of doing a task you end up doing a ton throughout the day. Waking up about every 90 minutes because your mouth is too dry to not try and drink something… only to experience the pain again.

I think I need to rewrite my brain or something. Not every little thing needs to be some form of defacto research, right? I can just have an experience (good or bad) and actually just live that instead of analyzing it for something else, correct? I wonder if other writers have these moments where they view their lives as a series of moments, and the pick and poke at each until they can mine some truth for their future art. They always say you should write what you know, so I guess it only makes sense. Even if most of the time you don’t have to acknowledge it in the moment.

***

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Videos vs. Transcripts vs. Podcasts (or “Get off my lawn” because clearly “sick John” is a 76 year old man)

I listen to a fair amount of podcasts throughout the day, but one thing I actually completely don’t understand is this:

People today have shorter attention spans, right? We flip through the channels and Youtube videos can’t be longer than 5 minutes or we get bored.

<Though we also can sit down and over the course of a weekend Binge watch some new show from Netflix.>

But here’s the thing I don’t understand… why spend 10 minutes watching something that you could read in 5 minutes?

Why watch a podcast rather than just listen to it? Assuming you have a commute of any sort (or that you go on walks or whatever) you can certainly listen to a podcast easier than watch it. Yet there are tons of people who watch these videos and skip all the time saving things.

How much free time do you people have?

***

From being sick, I have manged to clear off a TON of TV I had saved on the old DVR. I’m convinced that the DVR is both the greatest invention ever and the worst invention ever. Because back in the old days you had to actually be present at your house to watch a show. Even when we were dealing with VCR tapes and recording things, you still had to plan things out a little bit. Now? Now I can record things on the possibility I’d like to watch them. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll end up recording a show for its 1st season, but not actually start watching until I hear whether it has been picked up for a second season.

But, even that isn’t a fail safe. And it seems like just as soon as I clear off these shows, I end up adding new ones. And so the DVR is always about 80% full no matter how much TV we end up watching.

So maybe it has just added to the idea that I’m accomplishing something (watching tv shows) while also being about the least productive I could be?

***

Anyway, I’m running a bit out of steam, needing to go to sleep at some point in order to hopefully show up for work tomorrow.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Black Mirror Review

I’m always looking for the Twilight Zone. Not the actual place, no, I wouldn’t survive there for very long. I’m talking about a show which captures my imagination in a way the original show did the first time I saw it on my tv when I was a kid. The idea there was someone who could ask these weird and strange questions, or present dilemmas I couldn’t have imagined, or even just watch the characters try to figure out how to save themselves from the nightmare worlds they were trapped in…

And while not every episode was a home run, the ones that were (and they had more than their fair share)… classic is the only word which does them justice.

So, I’m always hoping. Always on the lookout. Whether it is the Outer Limits, Monsters, Tales from the Darkside, the updated versions of the Twilight Zone… I’m going to give them a try.

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Black Mirror is one of those I gave a try… and I almost didn’t get to realize what a good show it was/is… but since it is only 7 episodes at this point (though more are on the way according to Netflix). Now, this will be a mixed review. Mostly I wanted to give the impression I had while watching or the impression I was left with. I’m going to do my very best not to spoil anything, as I’d like you to experience it the way I do.

EP 1- The National Anthem

As I’ve told everyone who I talk about this show with… skip this episode (or at the very least, wait until you’ve watched the other 6 episodes). I’ve looked around online and it has its fans, but I do not count myself as one of them. And the reason is quite simple:

It isn’t realistic.

And this is coming from someone who will buy into a lot if you convince me your world requires/needs/whatever it. And this just didn’t do it.

The very basic plot is that the Princess of the Royal Family (this is England after all) has been kidnapped and won’t be returned unless the Prime Minister does something… unseemly with an animal. And the question throughout the episode becomes one of how do they get the Princess back, and also, what happens if they don’t.

I live in the U.S. Maybe that’s why I didn’t buy the conversations, but I remember watching the episode thinking – “This just would never happen.”

EP 2 – Fifteen Million Merits

So after such a thrilling start to things, I might have given up. But something told me to press on. Surely a show that I’d heard such good things about would redem itself. And we get to a good start with the 2nd episode. Take all our (well not mine, but yours perhaps) love for the reality tv shows, the American Idols and Kardasians and all manner of Real Housewives, and then make that the only thing anyone ever aspires to. Set it in a future where you gain funds by exercising (it seems like a man-made power with money being the reward). When you get enough, you can pay to try out for those shows.

And maybe, just maybe your life of being a living battery might end and you could be famous!

Why not? We’re all doing it. We’re all wanting things to be a little (a lot) better. It’s just all in how you define “better”.

EP 3 – The Entire History of You

This is the reason to watch the show. It is my favorite episode, and it is based on the most basic idea:

What if everything we saw was recorded? And then we could review those recordings whenever we wanted? And then we could let other people see our memories. What if there was never a forgotten moment again?

It’s one of those ideas I wish I’d written. So simple in how it works, but then so dark how things can be twisted. How two people can watch the exact same thing and come away with two very different impressions of a moment. That happens every day. It’s no fun to go to a movie or concert by yourself, you need someone else to share in your experience… in your excitement. And even then we disagree on various things about those events.

Or maybe it is interactions with others. I can only imagine replaying moments with friends while in high school. Did that girl like me? Really? Let’s check the tape.

EP 4 – Be Right Back

Loss. The best stories are defined by growth and loss. Can you survive something bad happening to you? How does it change things (i.e. YOU) in the aftermath? And can you pick up the pieces later… become a better version of you?

My second favorite episode is one where LOSS is at the very center of everything. Can you be ok when someone has to leave you? Can the hole be filled by someone else?

And should it?

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EP 5 – White Bear

Terror. That feeling of the unknown. Where am I? Who am I? What’s happening?

That’s this episode in the first 5 minutes.

It’s something out of our nightmares. Some mixture of the Running Man mixed with a heavy dose of deja vu.

But FEAR. Who can you trust? How did you get there? Where are you going to run to? Where are you supposed to hide?

And why won’t anyone help?

EP 6 – The Waldo Moment

Every election season we are, in the immortal words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, choosing between a Giant Douche and a Shit Sandwich. And we long for a real choice. Or at the very least someone to shake up the status quo for even the briefest of moments. This thing we do is supposed to be VERY IMPORTANT (notice the capitals?), but instead more people end up caring about American Idol’s victor than who won the real world election.

So shake it up with the most absurd idea ever: let a cartoon character into the debate. If it really is as silly and stupid as we say it is, then won’t such a character merely raise the level of discourse?

This episode is all of those things: absurd, strange, intriguing, stupid, and somehow more realistic to me than EP 1 (see, I really didn’t like that 1st episode).

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EP 7 – White Christmas

Two men, the edge of the world, snowstorm coming down outside their window. And Christmas morning. Nothing to do but talk about the moments and ideas which led you to being in this little piece of Hell.

In some ways this one feels like the most Twilight Zone of the entire group. Yes, the technology still plays a large part in the twists and turns, but this one deals so much with loneliness. Being alone even while surrounded by so many people. And if you go back and watch those old Twilight Zones, you’ll see that same theme time and time again.

Am I alone?

I’m unsure of myself.

I’m unsure of my place in the world.

Help me.

 

Black Mirror… a dark reflection of yourself? Or maybe just the same old reflection you’ve been avoiding eye contact over all these years…

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I passed by the magical/terrible 40 year mark this past weekend. The point in your life you are surely supposed to question all your decisions and really hold onto your regrets until they eat you up from the inside.

Right?

Oh, and buy a sports car, and go nuts in about 1 million other cliché ways.

Sadly, that sounds like a lot of work, and I don’t want to do all of that.

Instead I thought I’d provide some nuggets of information (whether you wanted it or not). A peering into some of the events, 40 of them, that put me in front of this computer typing at this exact moment on this exact night.

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1 – From around the age 7 to the age of 11 I was sick every year on my birthday. For a while there I dreaded the day.

2 – At some point growing up my Mom baked me a strawberry birthday cake. 30 some years later and my wife still wonders if I might want to have a different cake this year (the answer is always NO).

3 – By the time I was in the 8th grade, I’d moved 6 times that I was old enough to really remember. I thought this was a ton of times… and it probably was, but when the teacher asked the class who had moved the most I raised my hand and said 6 thinking I’d “win”. Sadly, there was another person in the class who’d moved over 10 times (I’m guessing it was some sort of military family). That actually bummed me out (losing, not that they’d moved so much).

4 – One of my biggest What If moments will always be not making the 8th grade basketball team. At the time I didn’t understand it, and if I’m being really honest, I still don’t understand it. I still don’t know how it happened as I know I was one of the top 12 or so players in my class. There was some kind of weird point system the coach used over the course of the week tryouts and on Thursday morning I was in 1st place, and by Friday I wasn’t in the top 14. Thursday afternoon’s tryouts went poorly IF you were only looking at points scored. If you looked at blocks and rebounds (I played center), then even if I slipped in the standings a little, it shouldn’t have been by so much. Not making the team crushed me. And I think that not making the team put me at a disadvantage going into high school tryouts the next year (if only by having the extra practice time/game time).

5 – My parents had me when they were 19 years old. They had my brother 11 years after me. In between they divorced and then remarried about 10 years later. It is because of this that I believe Love never truly dies between people. It can be lost, but it is always there… waiting to be rediscovered.

6 – I started reading comics almost 30 years ago. I now own just under 10,000 comics. I don’t think I had any clue of what stories lay ahead of me when I walked into that convenience store and bought those first copies.

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7 – The only reason I ever worked at Kroger was to get my parents off my back about getting an after-school job. It was literally the first and only place I went to. I had the interview that day and started the following week.

8 – Once I became a cashier at Kroger, I was often stuck on the Express Lane. And yes, I hated when people who had 50 items tried to check out through my lane (read the damn sign!).

9 – I met my wife while working at Kroger. Yes, we are high school sweethearts (awww).

10 – I was one of two baggers to win the bagging challenge at our Kroger and got paid to go participate in the district competition.

11 – I don’t drink alcohol (though I had a taste of some over the weekend… and by taste I literally mean 2 swallows). While some of my circle of friends did drink, my future wife couldn’t because of medicines she took, and other friends were effectively “Straight Edge” (and therefore didn’t do drugs or alcohol). So it really was a reverse sort of peer pressure that caused the decision.

12 – I had/have a Kermit the Frog hand puppet. Senior year of high school I brought it out in Computer Science class. The words “John, put the frog away.” might have been heard for the first time ever at Parkview High.

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13 – In all of high school I only skipped class 1 time and only had detention 1 time. I was/am definitely a rule follower.

14 – I was a Jehovah’s Witness for much of my pre-college life. I have gone around at 9 in the morning on a Saturday and knocked on doors. I also didn’t want to be awake if that’s any consolation.

15 – When I started college I tried to keep my high school “after school job” at Kroger. However, they wouldn’t allow me to have 2 to 3 weeks off to get settled in. So I was “forced” to quit. Not really sure why I thought keeping that job was a good idea at the time since it would have required me driving back and forth from school.

16 – I was a DJ in college for my freshman year. But I don’t mean in the club. I worked a couple of shifts at the Ga Tech radio station where I learned that lots of the stuff we played was not very good. But the ones I liked, those got played every chance I could.

17 – I maintain I was screwed out of housing my senior year at Georgia Tech. When you co-op, you’re not taking classes and so are a little out of sorts with campus life. This is less noticeable during the winter months (I co-op’d Winter and Summer quarters), but during summer it truly hits home. In an attempt to be aware of the due dates for the various payments needed for classes and housing, I called at the beginning of summer to find out the due dates. Wrote them down in my planner. And when the time came, called up to pay for school… and was told I’d missed the deadline by a week or so. I wrote down what they’d told me. Tried to be responsible, and still got hosed.

18 – I have had the distinct pleasure of walking in on college roommates while they were… being intimate with their girlfriends… twice.

19 – My landlord (after the Georgia Tech housing SNAFU) actually became my boss about 1 1/2 years after I moved in. He was a civil engineer as well.

20 – I am not good with tools. And while I can follow instructions when putting things together, there was a long time that I didn’t know what a Phillips Head screwdriver was (why don’t they just call it “the not flat one”?).

21 – I know absolutely nothing about cars either. Another one of those “guy” things where I just have to smile and nod and hope no one sees through my half-hearted smile and asks me a question about it.

22 – However, I do love sports. I can bond with my fellow guys over football, baseball, or basketball. But never soccer.

23 – My one fear is probably heights. Luckily it is the one I don’t have to test all that often.

24 – I think I have a mild form of OCD. If I misplace something, I cannot focus on anything else until I find it. I can’t do anything else, and I certainly can’t go to sleep.

25 – The old saying that nothing good happens after midnight is wrong. I believe that nothing good happens before noon.

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26 – I saw Limp Bizkit open for Korn prior to their big breakthrough. I’m still unsure at what moment it became uncool to listen to them. It still feels like one week they were cool(ish) and the next everyone had sworn they’d never liked them in the first place.

27 – I like a myriad of different music. If you were to search my iPod you’d find Slayer, Bryan Adams, Pearl Jam, Boys II Men, and the Misfits among many others. Though if I had to pick the music I listen to the most would either be Grunge or Nu Metal.

28 – I love music for the lyrics more than the instruments. While everyone else is trying to figure out the beat or the chords or whatever, I’m trying to figure out what the meaning of the song is supposed to be conveying.

29 – I love stage magic. I love the idea that someone is trying to show you something which you know is not true and yet you want to be true. And I hate the fact that when you know how the trick is done, a piece of that hope is dashed.

30 – I’m not always the best friend I could be. I don’t always pick up the phone to call someone else, but instead wait for them to call me.

31 – However, I’d like to think that when the shit hits the fan, I’m the person you want beside you. At least, I hope that’s true.

32 – In the last year I have fallen back in love with watching wrestling. I blame my nephew.

33 – I started wearing glasses in the 3rd grade. However, in those first weeks I would forget them at home and my Step Father would have to bring them to me. After I finished writing “I will not forget my glasses at home any more.” about 500 times, I stopped leaving them behind.

34 – After my senior year of high school my parents moved to Richmond, Virginia. But since I was going to go to Georgia Tech and the house wasn’t sold, I effectively lived by myself for much of that summer.

35 – I am a Professional Engineer, which means that I have the ability to actually stamp plans saying they are good to be constructed. However, I have only stamped 1 set of plans so far (and I’ve had my stamp for about 10 years now).

36 – Before I started dating the girl who would eventually become my wife, I’d never been on a real date with a girl before.

37 – When I was in 4th and 5th grade I had a Rat Tail. I still maintain it made me cool.

38 – I am a sap. Give me a tear-jerker scene or anything with an animal dying and I will lose it (no, those aren’t tears, I just have dust in my eyes).

39 – I once saw The New Kids on the Block with a friend. No, we were not being ironic. He had an extra ticket, for some reason, and I said I’d go (must have hit my head). I remember the squealing of the teenage girls more than any of the music they played.

40 – My all-time favorite concert was Pearl Jam at the Fox Theater April 3, 1994 (the one they broadcast). Sadly, I didn’t get to see those whole show as we left when the house lights came on not realizing they were going to play one more song that way. Since then I stay a little longer than I probably should at shows to ensure such a thing never happens again.

41 – Turning 40 isn’t as scary as people make it out to be… so far.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrity Journal Entries

After writing the Weird Journal Prompts post, it occurred to me that what we all like to do more than generate our own Journals is to read the journals of others. It’s in movies and tv and books. How better to be able to really see into someone’s thought patterns than to read those thoughts they put down… something they only want to be able to share with this book. Something, I’d guess, to mark their exact feelings at the time they wrote it so they could look back fondly (or perhaps not so fondly) in a month/year/decade from now.

But I’ve done that one better. I’ve discovered, not unlike Indiana Jones, and unearthed some people’s journal entries that I think we all would like to read. Each have their own prompts to help them unpack some of that emotional baggage they’re carrying around.

 

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To think, a week ago I wanted to go to Tosche Station for some power converters.

From the Journal of Luke Skywalker

What kind of day are you having?

Awesome day! Even better week all things considered. I mean, I rescued a princess, she kissed me (on the cheek, but still… Han didn’t get a kiss), blew up the Empire’s Space Station – suck it Evil Empire!

I got a medal from the Rebellion!

Oh, and I learned how to use a laser sword and something called the Force.

What is your relationship like with various members of your family?

Well, my Aunt and Uncle are dead. And my father was betrayed by Darth Vader. So not great.

Who is someone you miss?

Ben. I know I only knew him a short amount of time, but it was like he was always watching over me.

What do you wish for?

If only I could get another kiss from the Princess…

 

Peter Gibbons - Office Space

I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.

From the Journal of Peter Gibbons

What kind of day are you having?

Apparently I missed some memo about the TPS reports. So for the rest of the day I had one boss after another come and bug me about it. I messed up. It’s alright.

Sigh.

I hate my job.

What keeps you up at night worrying?

That Bill Lumbergh will end up making me work on the weekend. Every… damn… time.

That, or him banging my girlfriend.

Who is someone you miss?

I wouldn’t say I was missing them.

What do you wish for?

A million dollars. If I had a million dollars, I ‘d do absolutely nothing.

 

mcfly

I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are going to love it.

From the Journal of Marty “Calvin Klein” McFly

What kind of day are you having?

It’s been heavy. My mother is in love with me, my father is a loser who has no chance with her, and if I don’t find a way to make sure these two end up together I’ll cease to exist at all!

And did I mention I’m stuck in the past with my only way home is hopping to channel a lightning bolt into the Delorean.

So, yeah, not the greatest day.

What is your relationship like with various members of your family?

Aside from my mother wanting to make out with me at every chance she gets? Oh, it’s just peachy.

What keeps you up at night worrying?

Honestly, when you realize that you may disappear randomly because you screwed up time… well, it’s hard to focus on much else.

Who is someone you miss?

Ah, Jennifer. Though, when I think of her it’s almost like she has two different faces. Weird, right?

What do you wish for?

For Doc not to get killed by the Libyans… but I have an idea on how to stop that.

 

reynolds_malcolm_4422

Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill’em right back.

From the Journal of Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds

What kind of day are you having?

Ship just about ran out of gas a while back. Had to take on some new passengers, but that led to complications.

You know, it probably ain’t best for me to spell out any of my specific misbehavings. What, with the Alliance and all.

Just a random Tuesday for me and the crew. A good day.

What is your relationship like with various members of your family?

My crew’s all the family I need. I take care of them, and they… well, sometimes they end up almost getting me killed.

Now, wives… wives are a different story. And a much longer one than I have time for.

What keeps you up at night worrying?

Are we going to have enough to get to the next port? Is the Alliance going to seize my ship? Is Jane going to try and take the ship over from me? Will Kaylee be able to keep us up in the sky?

Who is someone you miss?

Never had a mind to be missing anyone much at all. Figured a long time ago, you miss someone that fiercely, you ought to make sure they never leave your side.

What do you wish for?

To keep flying. That’s enough for me.

 

 

Hodor

Hodor!

From the Journal of Hodor

What kind of day are you having?

Hodor.

What is your relationship like with various members of your family?

Hodor.

What keeps you up at night worrying?

Hodor.

Who is someone you miss?

Hodor.

What do you wish for?

Hodor.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Classic Movies – Let It Ride

“You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.”

In light of the fervor from the billion dollar lottery last week, there’s been tons of talk on the radio, on tv, at my office about winning all that money. Strategies to try and game the system in some way or another. And then the sheer amount of money we’re talking about is something I really can’t even mentally comprehend.

Of course, I’m not greedy. I’d take even a very small portion of that overall amount of money. I mean I could figure out a way to make due with only a couple hundred thousand dollars…

And whenever I find myself thinking that way, I recall a movie which ran on HBO day in and day out for probably a couple of months in the late 80s/early 90s: Let it Ride (spoilers for a 25 year old movie).

let it ride

Basically (and this is mostly from memory), Richard Dreyfuss plays a down on his luck guy who probably (definitely) has a gambling problem. Of course, if he won more than he lost, it probably wouldn’t be a “problem”, but sadly he’s not what you’d call a winner. And his wife has had enough of it all. So in an effort to repair what may be left of his marriage he decides to stop cold-turkey and sit down with his wife.

Things get a little sideways almost immediately when a friend of his brings him a tape of someone discussing the fix being in at the local racetrack. Using this knowledge to his advantage, he places a bet, and for once actually wins.

Of course, you can’t give an alcoholic just one drink, and sure enough he can’t stop with one bet.

“You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.”

And that’s the thing, he can’t lose. Not today. Whether it is his luck finally turning around or some kind of divine intervention or just one of those days… he keeps “Letting it ride”, and each time he gets more and more money turning that intial bet into over $100,000.

That’s enough for him. There’s no reason to keep going. I mean that will set him up for a long while (it being a few years salary for him already). And he rushes home to find his wife passed out on the couch… drunk. Seems like addiction isn’t just on him.

But this is the part of the movie I always remember more than anything else. He sits down and takes a piece of paper and starts writing out his winnings on the day… and then figures out the things he can do to help his marriage. Things like buying a new washer and dryer, or maybe a newish car… really any number of things. All those things we all have to do to keep our houses up, our cars up, or just live our lives.

He subtracts it from his winnings and realizes it equals out to ZERO.

All that luck on the day, and really, when it is all said and done… he’s got nothing. Yeah, some debts are paid off, but really… why bother? What’s the point of it all? He has this money he thought would make it up to his wife for all the shit he’s put her through over the years. But it might as well not exist because on paper he’s still got nothing.

calculator-424564_1280

So he decides to head back to the track to make one last bet.

No, this movie doesn’t necessary go into the Jaws realm for me when it comes to Richard Dreyfuss. It’s not in the What About Bob? category either.

However.

I think there is an odd lesson to be taken from the movie. It sounds strange, but that one line comes back to me:

“You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.”

When we don’t try, when we don’t bother, when we don’t actually go and test ourselves… and leave ourselves a little exposed in the process… we could be missing out on a success. When we don’t ask the girl out for fear of what her reaction is going to be. When we don’t go after the job we really want because it might take a little more work. When we don’t put our “stuff” out into the world for both criticism and praise.

leap of faith

Just a little Leap of Faith…

How will you ever know?

“You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.”

For me, I think I’ve been putting off submitting to agents for those exact reasons. Oh, I have good excuses, and some are very valid, but underlining them all is this weird thing where I’m asking for the approval from complete and utter strangers. The gatekeepers will decide if my query is good enough to read a few pages. And if those are good enough to read the rest of the book.

It’s so much easier just to not do it. Don’t press that SEND button. Don’t bother with such things. You’re good where you are, right?

“You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.”

Exactly. So let’s find out.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 8 (29-33)

For the first 7 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7.

29. Comic That Totally Blew My Mind

The Guilded Age

The Guilded Age

The Gilded Age

Yes, it is a cheat. I don’t care. While I had stories printed up prior to this one, they were not done with the intention of only being an issue 1. Those were self-contained little beasts. Get in, tell the story, and get out. My short story.

Gilded Age is my novel.

Through completing that first script, and then needing to do an issue 2 (issue 2, what’s that?), and #3 and #4… all pointing towards a view to collect them into a trade paperback. It tells me I can do it again and again and again if I persevere long enough. If I’m just too damn stubborn, then maybe… just maybe.

(And of course it didn’t hurt that Sheldon Mitchell, Rich Perrotta, Tom Chu, and Khari J. Sampson  did such excellent work bringing it to life.)

 

30. Favorite Comic Book Couple

I love Peter Parker and Mary Jane.

Wally West and Linda Park.

Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

But those are romantic couples, and I think the spirit of this one goes more to the team-ups which make comic books great. So in that spirit my choice is:

guardians_of_the_galaxy_groot_and_rocket_raccoon-wallpaper-640x960

Rocket and Groot

When the two of them appeared on the cover of a book I was considering getting, I rolled my eyes. Seriously? A f#$@#$#ing raccoon and a big tree? What is this crap? They pay people to write this stuff?

Etc. Etc.

4 issues later I realized how wrong I was.

And everyone else found out the same thing when they saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I betting there were a lot of “A raccoon? Ugh.” before walking out of the theater with a “Rocket and Groot ruled!”

Yes. Yes they do. Welcome to the club.

 

31. A Comic You Plan on Reading

invader zim comic

Invader Zim

If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching the cartoon, you owe it to yourself to do so. The story of an alien trying to take over the earth along with his idiotic sidekick – GIR, he finds that he must enlist in school and suffer as all kids must do.

I reread the above and realize I didn’t do the best pitch, so here it goes again:

Zim is a jerk.

GIR loves taquitos.

Dib is an f-up who is trying to expose Zim as an alien.

Ok. That’s probably confusing.

3rd time is a charm:

It’s awesome.

And now there is a comic.

Nuff said.

 

32. A Comic You Thought You’d Hate But Ended Up Loving

watchmen-cover

Watchmen

An odd choice to appear on this one, I know. Typically this would show up under Favorite Comic, Favorite Writer, Best Comic of All Time, Best Twist, and so on.

However, I didn’t read Watchmen right away when it came out (I would have been about 10). In fact, I was 23 or 24 before sitting down to read it. You know that thing where one person tells you something is great, and then you read someone else loves that thing… but instead of thinking “awesome, something new to love” you think “I’ll be damned if I’m going to like that THING.” Don’t know why it triggered that way.

So I avoided it for as long as I can. But at some point if you like comics you should probably read the damn book.

And of course I loved it. It’s great. It holds up really well to the passing of time. And if you view it for when it actually came out… wow. Just wow.

Obviously nothing new here to say about the book. Just happy to have been wrong in this case.

 

33. An Ongoing Series You Wish Was Still Being Published

Sometimes when we talk about series that we miss, we’re really talking about missing the way a series “used to be”. The comic may actually exist in some form or fashion, but it no longer lines up with what we had hoped for. So for this one I have a particular version of a comic (as it has come back in a few different iterations):

new warriors 1

The New Warriors (original team)

This was my favorite comic for as long as it existed. There was about a year or so during college where the only two comics I could afford to collect consistently were The Flash and The New Warriors. I don’t know if it was the Teen Titans feel in some ways and yet that idea they were not sidekicks by any means. Maybe it was the fact that the whole thing opened with Night Thrasher holding a powerless Richard Rider (Nova to you and me) and dropped him from the roof in an effort to restart his powers (and he wasn’t sure it was going to work). Maybe it was Speedball, a throw-away character suddenly given a voice. Firestar, one of my favorites from the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon.

I don’t know exactly why, but I just know I looked forward to it every month.

So that’s it, with a couple of extra thrown in, and it only took a year to get through. 🙂

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Weird Journal Prompts

So I was randomly searching the internet for things like the average temperature of Alaska and how many werewolves does it take to call it a pack, when I stumbled across something called The Five Minute Journal. It’s one of those ideas so obvious that it bums me out that someone else thought of it first. This is exactly the sort of thing which people love to do in the New Year. We like to reflect upon what has come before. We like to record out thoughts, in the moment, so that we can see how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go… but this takes it a step further… it prompts you for the answers.

old books

What are you grateful for?

What could you have done better?

And I thought, that’s nice and all… and more power to you if you have one (and the discipline to keep it up throughout the year).

But…

I think that not everyone is so happy and upbeat about things. And the bad thing about those prompts is they expect you to actually have a measure of self-improvement over the long haul. So I wanted to help those who might not fit into that box. Give them a few prompts to help them record their daily thoughts.

Journal Prompts for the Apathetic

Quote: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein

Why do I bother?

What would make today less of a grind than the previous day?

Daily Depressions: I am…

3 Horrible things that happened today.

How could things have gone worse?

 

Journal Prompts for Nightmares

Quote: “Sleep. Those little slices of Death. How I loathe them.” – Edgar Allan Poe

What unnamed HORROR visited me last night?

What device/pill/supplement can I take to stay awake throughout the day?

Daily Fear: I am…

3 Things to try and dream about.

What will I actually dream about?

nightmare

Pleasant dreams of babies and puppies and kittens… Not these kind with babies eating puppies and kittens…

 

Journal Prompts for Winning Your Marriage

Quote: “Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else.” – Vince Limbardi

3 Things you’ve already seen your spouse do wrong today.

How will I prove I’m the best today?

Daily bit of awesome…

3 Things I corrected my spouse on today.

What other ways was I right today?

 

Journal Prompts for Procrastinators

 

p-journal-A5-Rule

I’ll write something tomorrow…


***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Resolutions, 2016

Time again for my look ahead/look back. It’s where I like to sit down and judge what I managed to do, what things didn’t get done, and then push onto next year.

I have so many things that I would like to do. So many ideas for books and stories and comics. Most of the time I’m not fighting time or money, but fighting my own brain. Trying to get focused can be the biggest problem of them all.

[Of course having more time and money wouldn’t hurt. :)]

writing

 

So first, the look back at 2015:

The Edge of the World – Finish the 1st draft. Finish a 2nd draft. Get to Beta Readers. Possibly get an editor by end of year.

Yeah, if 2015 taught me anything it taught me that a story will take as many words, as many pages, and as many hours as it wants. My desires and schedules will be damned in this process. I wrote about it a bit here, but the big thing was that I thought I was closer to the end than I really was, so not finishing the 1st draft until November was difficult.

[The always fun thing of “When are you going to be finished with that book?”… “Soon.”]

That said, I did end up doing a partial edit on about 2/3 of the book. I wouldn’t call it a 2.0 edit, but it might be 1.25 or 1.5.

Regardless I am extremely proud of having finished another draft of another novel. I know that these things don’t just appear overnight but take tons of “butt in chair” time. So I’ll give myself an A.

The White Effect – Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

This has begun, but that’s about all I can say at this point. Work in progress type of thing. We’ll call this one “Incomplete”.

Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Novella II – We have the outline, I just need to put some words on the page now. It is 3rd on the list for a reason though.

Finished the 1st draft. Waiting on the co-writer’s edits/thoughts. This gets a solid B.

Hollow Empire II – Begin those discussions in the next couple of weeks. Begin outlines, drafts, and maybe, just maybe get it out by end of year? Maybe it could be a Fall release every year?

No movement on Hollow Empire. I was busy with Edge of the World, and he was busy with… not sleeping and writing 1 billion words this year. So, yeah, it might be time to start bugging Mr. Neill again. I get an F on this one.

The Dark That Follows Sequel – Originally I wasn’t going to try to fit this in this year, but I have an idea for this and a third book, so I’m hopeful to have a 1st draft done.

Wow… I had this on the list? Whoa. Yeah, this didn’t happen. A big ole’ F for that one. Talk about eyes bigger than my stomach!

Unstuck – A series of novellas I would like to get done about people who are outliers in the timestream… abandoned by their own timelines. Each one would be about 25k words, and right now I have 3 of them roughed out. My guess is having one done by end of the year is a resonable goal (though I could easily see it getting squeezed out by the above).

I knew this was on the list… not started, but lots of notes being gathered. And it got pushed back because of another project (see below). So I’ll say I get a D minus for this one (but with a legit excuse).

S.O.U.L. Mate – Something that did not exist in any portion of my mind last January. A full outline has been written. The damn thing came in a blur over the course of a day. Fully formed. Beginning/middle/end… just like that. And that really caused the Unstuck stories to get slid back on my schedule.

Work has commenced on it.

Shorts – 4 more shorts, to be finished. Online magazine submissions (get on it McGuire!). Start that train a moving.

3 shorts written. Two of which are in a short story collection: Machina Obscurum (you should check it out!).

Machina Front Cover

I have started the online magazine submissions. No success yet, but it is in progress. I’ll call this a solid B (unless I can write one more short in the next couple of days!).

Comics

Gilded Age – It is my hope to have issues 2, 3, & 4 out this year. Of course, that was my hope for this last year. Either way, I will be finishing up the scripts for 3 & 4 in the next couple of weeks.

I am Jack’s broken record. The issues aren’t out.

Boo!!!

However, I did finish issue 3 and 4. Issue 2 and 3 have been drawn, inked, and colored (they merely need the words added to their pages and they will be all but done). Issue 2 even has a cover.

So I’m going to give myself an A for getting my part done, and continue to cross my fingers about the last issue.

Tiger Style – Issue 2?

I must admit, this is completely out of my hands at this point. I may be 100 before this comes out (sad Panda).

The Crossing – A comic I’m co-writing with Robert Jeffrey II… if we can secure an artist, then I think we can get something going. I don’t want to put an absolute number on issues or scripts or anything. If this is solid this year I’d be happy.

No real movement, but lots of good work done on the first issue due to Oni Press’s open submissions. So a little bit of movement, but I believe we can make something happen in 2016 if we push it hard enough. Sadly I need to give me a C on this one.

Blogging – Let’s keep it going for another 52 weeks.

And with this post I made it! A++++!

Mystery Short Film

I mentioned this one during the Halfway Blog Post. A pleasant surprise, and perhaps a little bit more work set in that world coming up in 2016. Again, one of those things I had no idea was coming, but am so happy it did!

keep-calm-and-welcome-to-year-4

Goals for 2016

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft. Hire editor.

A big piece of next year. One thing that should help is that it isn’t nearly as long as Edge ended up being.

The Dark That Follows 2

It’s well past time to write the sequel. 1st draft of that to be done.

The Crossing Comic

I think having an updated pitch and sample script shopped out there is probably the goal for this year.

The White Effect

To send out query letters. To investigate publishing options.

I can’t control whether or not an agent or editor might take me on. But I can control getting this into some people’s hands to increase the chance of such a thing happening.

The Edge of the World

Finish 2nd draft. Hire Editor. Get cover done.

Right now I’m leaning towards self-publishing this one, but that may change as the year goes on (if things break one way or another).

Mystery Comic

The Mystery Comic is based on the Mystery Short Film above. My goal on this is to get that first issue done, and then cross my fingers that more will be asked of me.

calvin and hobbes-resolutions

Really I just want to be Calvin, I already have two orange cats.

 

Short Stories

Write 4 more shorts. And really set up a system for getting them out into the world (submissions, etc.). Plus these can provide a nice break from the longer formatted things.

Blogging

As ever, I want to continue to put out a weekly blog. Not miss a week. Keep the streak alive. In hopes of achieving this I’m going to try to have a couple in the bank at any time as there are those Tuesday nights when inspiration has been a bit lacking.

I want to add like 4 more things to this list. My writing To-Do is a long string of plans and hopes and dreams. I just have to put butt in the chair.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Grab Bag: December Edition

I’m still in a bit of a movie high after watching The Force Awakens. My brain is scrambled by thoughts and ideas about where the next movie(s) will end up going. The comic books that I suddenly feel like I should jump back into after spending much of the year in silent protest at them rebooting the old continuity.

So given the jumbled state of my brain, and the fact that Christmas is literally right around the corner, I figured it was alright to turn this one into more of a Grab Bag than anything else.

***

In dealing with all the emojis and reflecting on everyone’s abundant use of shorthand for virtually everything else, I am convinced that we’ve become so advanced in our communication skills that we’ve completed the circle started by the Egyptians so very long ago. They used hieroglyphics to tell their stories, and now we’ve increasingly decided to do the very same.

And this isn’t a commentary from a “you kids, get off my lawn” type thing, but more of a curious nature: if we were to look a few hundred years in the future will they wonder why we seemed to abandon our normal written language?

Or will they be able to read what we have set down at all?

Someone needs to develop that Rosetta Stone for the 21st Century quick!

***

language-758589_1280

Language is a weird and dangerous and sticky and annoying and about a million other things. It should be a living and breathing thing were words should be allowed to evolve from older meanings and new words get let into the lexicon.

But if I have to read one more internet meme where someone is telling me that “irregardless” is not a word and doesn’t mean what you think it means… I might just lose it.

Look, it is all fine and good that you want to hold those old traditions close, but if we were to let “irregardless” into the Real Word Club it wouldn’t be the end of western civilization. There are plenty of words in English language that follow weird rules or seem to not make sense:

Underwhelmed

Inflammable

Literally

Let’s allow somethings to happen and stop telling me how to use or not use the words.

***

Inspired by one of the million car commercials where the guy gets a new car as a gift and then keeps reliving the same day…

If you could Groundhog Day one day over and over which day in your life would you pick? (I just know I’m not going to go driving everyday… that novelty will wear off soon enough).

What’s funny is that I think the day to choose for this is a day where you have very little pre-planned. It would allow flexibility to actually be able to do anything you wanted on that day.

***

time_travel

 

And then to (apparently) further steal from my Guild-Mate’s question books:

If you could relive one day, but the changes you made would ripple back through the present, what day would you pick?

This gets a lot into the whole What If questions that we all deal with and that I’ve written about before. And it could be a very small thing as opposed to some earth-shattering ideal or issue which came up. Sometimes thing/days/changes hinge on the barest of moments… and sometimes we are wrong about what those moments would be in the first place.

***

Went to a friend’s 40th birthday party over the weekend. Realized how strange and wonderful that I still have so many connections and friendships with people from middle school and high school. These are the people who know most (if not all of my baggage), who are a part of my stories and vice versa, and sometimes I think when we are able to get together and catch up, all the years disappear and we’re 14 again sitting in someone’s basement arguing about some video game or playing D&D or talking comics or whatever.

And sometimes I think those are the best trips to the past we can ask for.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Comic Challenge, Part 7 (25-28)

For the first 6 in this series, check out: 1 & 2 & & 4 & 5 & 6.

25. Comic Book City/Universe You Wished You Lived In

This is a head scratcher as I actually think most of them would be absolutely terrible to live in. I mean, yeah, it would be cool to see Superman streak overhead while living in Metropolis or see the Avengers Tower in New York, but I also think seeing them means that some villain (with little regard for life) will be stumbling into view shortly – and nobody wants that, right?

And if you go outside the superhero comics – do you really want to live in the Walking Dead universe? Again, interesting to have thought experiments on how to survive the zombie apocalypse, but I don’t think I need to live through it.

So I think I’m flipping this one on its ear and choosing the absolute last city I’d want to live in:

gotham-city

Gotham

That thing I said about villains around every corner – true. Plus you have various mob style gangs running around the city trying to kill some mythical “Bat” while shooting things up themselves. Occasionally they’ll need to seal themselves off because of a Contagion or an Earthquake “Event”.

Oh, and don’t forget some psycho-clown looking guy forever trying to combine items in order to cause you to grin to death.

No thanks.

 

26. Favorite Comic Book Artist

Mark Bagley

I think Bagley might get the least respect of most artists I read. Because he is a constant. Month in and month out there is going to be a comic drawn by him. And that is something to be commended in a time where doing 12 issues a year is not really possible for most anymore.

Thunderbolts_Vol_1_9

But the reason his name always jumps to the top of my list is he is the first artist I remember verbally saying I really liked his work.

Yeah, I liked the Image guys, but it was reading one of Bagley’s New Warrior’s comics that I realized I liked his style. And then when this new artist took over on Amazing Spider-Man I commented “I really like this guy’s work… I wonder who it is.”

 

27. Most Annoying Character

Lobo_DC

Lobo

Everyone has their favorites. And I know tons of people who have nothing but love for this character. And I get that he’s a reaction to the edgier comics. That he’s poking fun at them at.

I just don’t like “The Main Man”.

And what’s weird is because his presence pulls me out of whatever comic I’m reading. He’s just too much. I know it’s crazy to put it that way.

You can deal with men flying or radioactive spiders or clown psychos, but Lobo is where you draw the line?

Yes. Yes, it is.

 

28. Worst Villain

2657747-mojo_annihilators_earthfall_1

Mojo

I literally cringe every time I see him mentioned in a comic. I dry heave whenever he graces my pages. And a little bile rises to the top of my throat when I realize he is going to be the villain of the month for my most recent purchase.

He should have been a one-off villain. The sort who is the result of a dare lost by the comic creators during some drunken festival. And yet he somehow appears time and time again to ruin whatever it is I’m about to read. I get it, you run a tv station in another universe and created the X-Babies (seriously, look it up), and you… just… suck!

Arghhh!

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the End of the World…

Monday. Another small step in an effort to blanket the electronic devices of young and old was released for consumption. 9 authors contributing a variety of short tales or excerpts from their own worlds appeared in a collection called:

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows (Get it on your Kindle right now!)

Machina Front Cover

In which, I have three pieces of the overall collection. Two shorts and an excerpt from my very first novel The Dark That Follows.

You can get it here. For FREE! (Our gift to you.)

As I’ve only read one of the other stories in the book, I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of tales they’ve managed to spin.

Mine?

Well, I like to consider the two stories I’ve submitted: Til the Last Candle Flickers & And I Feel Fine as 2 parts of my Apocalyptic Trilogy. They are siblings of a sort to be sure (not the actual characters) in the themes of love and loss at the end of everything. And yet they represent very different things about that end. They are Alpha and Omega.

candle-579580_1920

Till the Last Candle Flickers came about from the idea of Preppers. You know, those guys and gals who are so sure we are on our way to some kind of apocalypse that their hobby is to be as prepared as possible. In some ways I think they have to be spiritual ancestors of those Cold War survivors with their fallout shelters.

But with this short I wanted to look at what can happen on the front end to someone who is so sure that all of our world will be gone soon. How would other people treat him? Do you close yourself off to everyone just so that you don’t have to lose them when it goes down?

How long can you go on like that?

Comet

And I Feel Fine is the other end of things. The Bad Things have come and gone and then more Bad Things have taken their place. And when it seems like there is no good left for you… when the world is surely trying to kill you on a daily basis… maybe that is the time to ensure there is a record left. A small snippet of how things were in those days, so that if there are survivors they might know a little bit more about this generation of people.

I call these two pieces of a trilogy, which would beg the question: “where’s the 3rd piece?”

Good question. I don’t know. I have ideas about it, but these two demanded to be written down. The words flowed in a way that let me know I was onto something worth finishing.

Hopefully you feel the same when you read them.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Sleep, Perchance…

Alarm off. A slow glance at the clock. The time flickers a thought in my head.

That can’t be right. Close my eyes again as if the sheer act of doing so will change what they witnessed. A slow peek before I’m careening out of bed. A mad scramble of clothes and contacts and “did I shower last night?” and deodorant and shaving and finding a shirt and…

Dragon Clock

It’s already past the countdown clock moment. Now it becomes the beginnings of a true decision. Formulas scream through my brain.

How long is the trip?

When is it too late?

Damn… missed class again…

***

Many years ago Chad told me that he preferred nightmares to pleasant dreams. The very concept made little sense to me at the time.

“Why?”

“Because when I wake up from a “great” dream, I’m back in the real world where things are inevitably worse than the worlds I had just visited. But with a nightmare, I have absolute and utter relief, because my waking life is so much better then any nightmare.

“Suddenly I’m happy to be awake!”

***

I struggle to fall asleep. Not stay asleep… oh, no. That is well taken care of. I tend to stay up too late and want more than my allotted eight hours the next day.

***

Henry Rollins said that you either sleep or you don’t – but you can’t catch up.

***

I respectfully disagree with that sentiment.

***

Your body knows when enough is enough. When you’ve pushed yourself. When you have burned that candle down to nothing but a pool of wax and a long-forgotten wick.

That’s when you need to let yourself catch up.

candle-579580_1920

***

Tonight, I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay up, looking down the internet rabbit hole – wondering where it will take me. I wonder if ancient scholars had the same feeling reading the same obscure text.

Sadly I’m reading about football or baseball or something else not quite so grand.

My nightly ritual where I put it off as long as possible. One more minute. Five more. Let me just finish this article. Where is that link going to take me? What about this video on something from 1 year ago. Five years ago. 100 years ago.

Yeah, I could wait until the next day, but then the information couldn’t swim through my head waiting to greet me in my dreams.

I need to know RIGHT NOW!

***

Reality vs. Dreams? What is the difference really? What if the world ceased to exist when we closed our eyes? And then the very act of opening them created a whole new world?

city in the sky

***

In dreams we are the creator, not always in control, true, but building.

Yet, I have to wonder. Is that actually a truth or just something I believe without real proof?

If that was true, why would I set the clock to a point where I’m late for class? Why torture myself when it is nothing but mental 1s and 0s of my own personal Matrix? What good does it do my body to send that familiar rush of fear and anxiety through my body?

***

What if it were the opposite? What if we are only the creators when we are awake? What if when we shut our eyes that was the real world(s)? That’s why we don’t have control over it. That’s why we can’t get off the railroaded path provided to us.

As strange as that reality might be where physics no longer works the way you think it should. Where people you’ve not seen in years suddenly have different personalities than you are used to. Your wife recognizes you, but she’s different and the same and…

***

We have to follow Alice down that damn rabbit hole no matter what.

***

Another friend in high school once commented that he woke up early (most weekends) because he was afraid of missing something. Better to be awake for whatever exciting/important/whatever thing than to not be.

As if the world ceased to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

The world continues to exist when we shut our eyes.

***

Doesn’t it?

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Sometimes I Know… Sometimes I Don’t

Why do I even bother watching sports? That was the question I posed to myself this past Sunday. It is the question I think every person who has ever been a fan of some team activity has asked themselves. Why do I even bother?

Miami_Dolphins_2013

I mean, I’m a nerdy guy, into nerdy things. My Dad isn’t really a kick back and watch football type guy. Somehow I managed to claim that part of “being a guy” (whereas I don’t know anything about a car’s engine or how to build something with my hands or why you need a Phillips Head screwdriver). I gravitated towards it, and now…

Ugh…

It seems like every year MY TEAMS are the ones who cannot quite “get over the hump”. We (because it is always “we” even if “I” only sit on my couch yelling at the TV) scuffle and struggle to gain some small measure of mediocrity and then fall on our faces any way. And all the while those teams whom you hate… well, they are having the season of seasons.

This is where those of you reading it begin to go through the mental Rolodex of your own teams. You haven’t won anything in 20 years, 50 years… over 100 years. And I hear you.

But I’m lamenting me right now. 🙂

Braves

In Poker there is something players try to call on: “One Time”. It is their own personal plea to the “Poker gods” to either help better their own hand or keep their opponent from beating them. However, the key to this, so the superstition goes, is that you only get ONE “one time” during a tournament. So you better pick your spot, as you’ll be swiftly punished for not obeying the rules.

Well that thought colors my watching baseball, basketball, and football. And time and time again I’m considering calling for my team’s “one time” to dig deep and find a way to pull it out. But the small bit of magic you wished for your own team was wasted in week 2. Yet, those other guys (your rivals, i.e. the “bad guys”), they rely on their skills until the absolute last second. Never wasting the magic until ever other option has been extinguished.

So instead I suffer defeat after defeat while other fans continue to find ways to celebrate their team’s successes. I hold onto the one Championship I can claim (1995 Atlanta Braves), but also lament that may be the one season I watched the least amount of the team. The one year I did not live and die with every pitch. In my defense I was still figuring out this whole college/co-op thing, but a true fan would have made time. We won and I was happy, but didn’t get that… well, what I have to believe is an all-consuming, unrelenting joy from the victory. I’m pretty sure I still don’t know what feeling I should have gotten, but it doesn’t taste the same… of that I’m sure.

At the end of every season there is one fan base ecstatic and 31 others who think “well, maybe next year”. But as we’re fond of saying in my house:

When do I get to see the god-damn sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

I complain and bitch and threaten to break things and wonder if someone is cheating and can’t understand how the ref missed another call and of course they want the other team to win and why is my team always being picked to lose in the big games and do we need a new coach and do we need a new quarterback (the answer to those is almost always YES unless you cheer for about one of 5 teams – across all sports).

When? Just let me know… when?

Maybe next year…

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

Creatures Big and Small

Some days I don’t know what to write about. Those are the days (nights) where I struggle with words, getting lost in the muck and mire, and trying to determine a subject to fashion some kind of thoughts around. Those are not my favorite evenings. I pound my head against the wall looking for any glimmer of inspiration.

I wish I had that problem tonight.

***

There’s a story told about me when I was little. Somewhere in that 2-5 range. My grandparents owned a junkyard. It was this crazy, magical, weird place I would see for a week at Christmas and maybe a couple of weeks during the summer. And they owned a lot of dogs. I’m not sure if it was to help protect their land or because they liked dogs or maybe a mixture of the two. Regardless, there was at least 4 or 5 at any given time outside. Most, if not all of them were tied off to something (a tree, a car, their dog house). So they had some amount of rope to move around, but certainly did not have free reign of the yard (sadly).

Some of the dogs were friendlier than others, but even the not-so-nice ones you could maneuver around like they were barking land mines, knowing that if you stuck to the proper path, their slack wouldn’t let them get to you.

One of these dogs was either named or nicknamed “Satan”. And it wasn’t because everyone in my family was a big fan of a certain Dark Lord. No, the dog apparently had earned his name through pure meanness. So you didn’t hang around to pet Satan. You walked around him as quickly as possible and hoped the chain would hold for one more day.

One day everyone was outside and I decided it would be a good idea to pet the “doggie” – and for the briefest of moments time stopped for everyone there. They had no idea what Satan was going to do. And I’m sure if he wanted to I could have ended up a rag-doll, tossed back and forth within its jaws, before Dad or anyone else could have gotten to me.

But none of those things happened. Instead Satan decided to let me pet it. To love on it a little bit. When Dad eased over to try and retrieve me, Satan growled at him, but had no problem with the little one.

Cleo Tree

***

Around 9 or 10 Mom brought home a Calico cat, Muffin, who my 4 or 5 year old sister decided needed to live in her purse or drawers or something else traumatic. So the cat did what any sane person might have done and hid behind the washer and dryer. When I came home, it was left to me to coax the little kitten out from behind its hiding space.

Muffin slept in my room most nights after that.

***

When a ferret adopted our family (no, really, it came to our house and set up shop even with two outdoor cats prowling the grounds), I was the first to garner its trust. It ended up eating directly from my hands that first night.

***

I bond with my animals. I talk to them, confide in them. When I started writing comics late into the night, Cleo would sit beside me at the desk – monitoring my progress. Being my little muse.

Later Westley and Inigo took over those chores, ensuring these blog posts and the comic scripts and the novels and the short stories and everything else in between would have some stamp of feline approval (or at least that’s what I tell myself).

Westley & Inigo Window

Inigo & Westley

 

***

Over this past weekend, I was working at the computer when I heard a commotion outside our house. We have an outdoor cat, Fiona, who resides just on the other side of the front door. Sometimes other neighborhood cats will sneak over and try to steal some of her food, and they throw down (except for “Marvin” the possum, who sometimes makes an appearance – he is more than welcome to graze).

I didn’t immediately move, typically waiting for that next level of “fighting” before trying to save the day. The next sound told me it was a little more than a scuffle, so I went over to the front, and turned on the outside lights. As I opened the door I expected to scare off one of those enemy cats. Yet, instead of something small, a “dog” fled the scene… and it looked like it was carrying something in its mouth.

I hurried to put on shoes, grab a flashlight. I tried to find Fiona in the bushes. I went down to the lake area behind some of our neighbor’s houses… trying to find any sign of her or the beast who might have had her. The whole time trying to get the image of it possibly carrying something from my mind. My wife joined the fruitless search.

Nothing.

The next morning it was more of the same. We walked through the woods around the lake. We sent out word to our neighborhood board.

Nothing.

***

This story doesn’t appear to have a happy ending.

***

I get that outdoor animals don’t live as long as their indoor counterparts (and we tried to bring her inside – it didn’t work with the two boys already here). And I know that this was a possibility. That she could be hurt or injured, but she was a happier little girl outside than she had been during those inside days).

FIona Cropped 1

Fiona

 

And I know there are bigger things happening in the world (directly to my family, in fact)… but, in the little slice of life I live in… in this moment… I have lost a furry friend.

And it makes me sad.

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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