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.

NES Games Left Off The Classic

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

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

nes-classic

NES Classic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pro-wrestling-star-man

Pro Wrestling

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

There is a storyline mode… kinda.

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

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

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

r-b-i-baseball-usa

R.B.I. Baseball

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

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

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

dragon_warrior

Dragon Warrior

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

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

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

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

I need to answer No.

metal-gear-nes-_

Metal Gear

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artwork from Grinidon by Erwin Arroza

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Grinidon: A Fantasy Graphic Novel Vol 2

from Grinidon

J. Miles Dunn – Writer, Publisher

Erwin Arroza – Artist

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

 

The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

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

Artwork from Grinidon by Erwin Arroza

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

Artwork from Grinidon by Erwin Arroza

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

The Rewards:

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

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

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

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

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

The Verdict:

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

 

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

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

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Black Mirror, Season 3 Review

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

black-mirror-netflix

So I watched and reviewed the first 2 seasons here.

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

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

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

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

EP 1 – Nosedive

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

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

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

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

EP 2 – Playtest

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

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

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

What are you REALLY scared of?

laptop-camera

EP 3 – Shut Up and Dance

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

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

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

EP 4 – San Junipero

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

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

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

EP 5 – Men Against Fire

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

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

aggression

EP 6 – Hated in the Nation

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

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

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

Are there any punishments for the haters?

 

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

Answer the Universe

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

Miami_Dolphins_2013

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

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

(I know he slipped at least once…)

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

Improve upon last year’s team.

Win the division.

Get a first round Bye.

Be the overall #1 seed in the playoffs.

Win your conference.

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

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

target-bullseye

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

Maybe setting too many goals?

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

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

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

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

yes

I want to say YES to myself.

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

And it’s OK.

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

There’s nothing wrong with striving for more.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Resolutions, 2017

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

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

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

Writing Dark

The Look Back – 2016

The White Effect

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

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

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

The Edge of the World

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

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

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

S.O.U.L. Mate

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

Where the hell did the year go?

The Dark That Follows 2

No update on this one.

The Crossing Comic

No update on this one.

Mystery Comic

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

Blogging

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

Mystery Book

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

Short Stories

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

blue-five

The Look Ahead – 2017

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

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

The White Effect

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

Edge of the World

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

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft.

That seems realistic.

The Gilded Age

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

We shall see.

Short stories

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

Veronica Mars Novella 2

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

blogging-image

Blogging

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

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

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

 

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

 

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Ultimate Wish List

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

omegasupreme

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

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

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

brewsters_millions

3D Printer

$3-8,000

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

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

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

avengers-4

Avengers 4

$6,000

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

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

wsop-logo

Entry into the World Series of Poker Main Event

$10,000

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

However…

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

 

Superbowl Tickets

$6,200

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

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

And maybe cheering on the Dolphins?

R2-D2 Moving Frig

$8,000

Because sometimes the real refrigerator is too far away.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

Change Out The Calendar

new-years-day-2017

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

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

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

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

father-time-and-baby-1909

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

california-highway

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Kickstart the Character – Creation Process of Kaiya Blackmoore

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

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

Yrisa's Nightmare.

Yrisa’s Nightmare.

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

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

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

***

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

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

Would they be a gang? Or…

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

But then…

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

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

Sully:

A noble who was going to marry a noble woman.

He was cursed at their engagement by a thief.

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

Celltar:

Cursed a noble at his engagement party.

Tried to use a spell to marry a noble woman.

Kaiya:

First groom was cursed, and they did not marry.

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

Rats in the Street. Featuring Wererats.

Rats in the Street. Featuring Wererats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now done, we sent it off and waited…

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

kaiya-blackmoore

From the City of Brass Character Entry for Kaiya Blackmoore

***

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

Maybe…

***

Kickstarter information:

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

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

sunken-temple

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

My Mother: The Horse Diver

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

***

My Mother: The Horse Diver

By: Mickey McGuire

 

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

horse-diving

 

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

 

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

***

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

Sadly, There Is No Easy Button For You

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

no-junk-mail

“Click here to sell more books today!”

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

But they have it figured out. Right?

easy-button

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

It eludes me.

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

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

***

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

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

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

<Slaps head.>

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

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

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

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

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

***

wall-crack

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

I’m stubborn.

This is my gift. This is my curse.

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Thanks for Gilmore Girls

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

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

gilmore-girls-summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

babbling-gilmore

***

So with it being Thanksgiving week –

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

1 – “Luke. The Town’s Luke.”

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

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

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

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

3 – More bits of random goodness.

“Copper Boom.”

“Monkey, monkey… underpants.”

I need more.

3-gilmore-women

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

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

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

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

5 – New Episodes

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

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

To find out what happens next.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Kickstart the Comic – Quest for the Last Tree

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

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

***

quest-for-the-last-tree1

Cover to Issue #0 by Noor Rahman

Quest for the Last Tree

from Conflux Comix

David Seropian – Writer, Letterer, Publisher

Noor Rahman – Artist, Graphic Designer

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

 

 

 

 

The Pitch:

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

The Story:

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

John’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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Covers for Issue #1 & #2 by Noor Rahman

The Rewards:

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

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

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

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

The Verdict:

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

This is a obvious “Yes” for me.

***

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the Comic – Anatomy of a Panel

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One panel.

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

gildedage0204_pencils-panel-1

 

The Gilded Age

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

Issue #2

Page 4 – Panel 1&2

The Team

Pencils – Sheldon Mitchell

Inks – Rich Perotta

Colors – Tom Chu

Letters – Khari Sampson

Concept

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

So what do we see?

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

The Script

Page 4 Panel 1

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

Narration – Greece, 1881

Page 4 Panel 2

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

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

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

gildedage0204_lettered-panel-1

 

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

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

“Does it bother you anymore?”

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

***

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

10 Ways Not To Sell Books

Don’t…

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

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

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

Start that all over again.

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

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

3 – Not have some kind of series of books.

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

4 – Genre hop.

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

Editing

5 – Bother to edit.

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

6 – Post only to Amazon.

Why? Why would you potentially limit your exposure?

7 – Post your eBook EVERYWHERE.

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

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

8 – Spend too much time and money on advertising.

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

books-messy

9 – Print too many copies of their book.

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

10 – Think that you have all the answers…

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

joker-all-apart-of-the-plan

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

***

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

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

I’m still learning. Still making those mistakes.

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

(That’s probably #11 right there.)

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Could My Brain Be Evil?

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

I love horror movies.

***

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

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

Sheer horror.

***

tmnt-kraang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

candle

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

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

inside-out-guilt

Guilt – From Inside Out’s cutting room floor

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

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

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

***

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

 

Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me

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

 

You can do multiple drafts.

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

magic

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

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

Instead we have this amazing thing called the backspace.

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

 

(Almost) Never show anyone your first draft.

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

Writing Dark

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

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

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

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

 

Their way isn’t your way.

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

Dreams Road Sign

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

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

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

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

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

 

There is no such thing as having time to write.

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

time slipping away

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

Guess what – welcome to life.

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

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

I chose to write.

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

Tapping Into My Inner Harley Quinn

By Rebecca J. Bozarth

 

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

d-con1

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

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

reb-1

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

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

reb-2

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

reb-harley-1

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

reb-harley-2

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

 

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

reb-harley-3

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

***

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

Three Years Later

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

 

Story Telling – Micro Bursts

writing

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

 

Creatures Big and Small

FIona Cropped 1

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

 

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

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

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

 

Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Over-used Words

Editing

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

 

New Myths and Legends

real-underground

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

 

My Musical Love Affair

pearl jam

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

 

Sequels That Never Were – The Crow

the crow fire

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

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

 

Dragoncon 2016 – The Bad

Dragon Con 2016

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

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

***

John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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

Where the “Ways Cross”

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

***

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

railroad-crossing

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

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

alligator

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

map_of_waycross_ga

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

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

Thirties a blur as a raised three children.

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

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

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

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

***

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

Horror Movies That I Don’t Like

October has come again, and again my goal of watching a bunch of horror movies hasn’t quite managed to happen just yet. Luckily we’re at the beginning of the month, so I have a little more time to go about checking some things off my list.

Prior to beginning this post I looked around at plenty of blogs who list their Top 10, Top 30, even Top 100 horror movies. As much as I’d like to be able to have an opinion on each and every one of them, I couldn’t even begin to figure out if Let the Right One In should be above or below 28 Days Later. Or where Jaws might belong on my Top Horror Movie List.

Of course, horror movies are a subjective as any other genre. And there are a handful that I just don’t get the praise for. These movies get slotted high up in the rankings while other movies, ones I find much more deserving, languish below.

high-tension

High Tension

With each of these movies I have on here, there are definite “good” portions. I understand that. High Tension was a movie that I borrowed from a friend after he praised it. I only wish he’d told me to turn off the dvd at about the 45 – 60 minute mark, because the beginning of the movie more than lives up to the name. You have all manner of scares to keep you on the edge of your seat. You have a couple of heroines to cheer for – I really wanted them to get out.

And then the TWIST happens. I had to rewind the movie at first. It didn’t actually work within the framework of the movie. Then after I finished it (annoyed the whole time) I actually tried to see what the commentary might say about why they made this BIG choice (forgive me not giving the specifics, but I’d hate to ruin things for someone who has this still on their list). Nothing. Which leaves me to imagine that the act of having a solid, scary film wasn’t quite enough for them… and it will forever leaving me scratching my head.

Oh, what could have been.

the_texas_chain_saw_massacre_1974_theatrical_poster

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I can dislike a movie while still recognizing its place among the keystones of the genre. And I fully understand that, for better or worse according to who’s talking about the movies, without Texas Chainsaw Massacre there would have been no slasher renaissance of the 80s.

Here’s my problem: it’s boring.

That’s it. It goes on for far too long. The screaming goes on for too long. The dinner scene, while creepy, just goes on for to long.

I truly think that I saw this at the wrong time. By the point I got around to seeing this movie I was a horror movie veteran many times over. So any of the tricks that might have been invented within this particular framework was old hand. I’d been jaded by too much a of good thing, I guess.

Still, it’s not a good thing when by the end of the movie I’m hoping that no one survives, is it?

descent-final-poster

The Descent

Tight, enclosed spaces. Yep, that’s scary.

Complete and utter darkness. Yep, scary.

Creepy monsters in the dark. Yep, scary.

I definitely get why people might like this movie. It has plenty of hot buttons to push. Add in a storyline that is constantly threatening to bubble over, and you just know this one is ending in a blood-bath.

Yet…

This is going to sound odd when talking about horror movies, but I still need the characters to actually act like people. Instead some of them just became speed bumps on the way to the big confrontation at the end which wanted to tell us that people are the problem sometimes, not monsters.

But this isn’t The Walking Dead… and I just didn’t buy it.

And then was there a “false ending” thrown in for no real point? Just no thank you.

friday-the-13th-1980-poster

Friday the 13th

In the same category as Chainsaw Massacre, my problem with the very first Friday is that it has become more a trivia answer than a movie you’d want to watch. Jason doesn’t do the killing in this one, it’s his mother. Kevin Bacon gets killed in it. People have sex and then they die.

OK, but is it a good movie? Is it one that you’d watch again randomly at home?

No is the correct answer to that question.

In fact, we could make the argument that the Friday movies really are the ugly step-sister of the slasher sub-genre. It had become such a joke by the end that not only did Jason “go to Hell”, but he also hung out in “Space”.

Space… need I say more? Who the hell was going to see these movies?

***

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.

 

At the End of it All

We’re in the process of catching up on The Walking Dead’s sister show: Fear the Walking Dead. I’m not going to discuss the merits of the spin off. Likely many people checked it out in the first season and found certain aspects of it not to their liking. Personally I feel like the second part of Season 2 has become to really hit it’s stride.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

No, I want to focus on one of the core ideas Fear deals with that the main show certainly hits on from time to time, but given the “newness” of the zombie apocalypse, there are still things the main characters are trying to figure out. In an episode of Fear, the main group has the decision on whether they should help two people, one clearly injured. They could bring them both aboard and worst case make things a little more comfortable for the dying man.

Some try to maintain their old humanity by helping them, others on the ship are more concerned about their family’s safety. Ultimately the decision is made for them. Yet there is still the quandary:

If you were trying to survive in an apocalyptic situation, do you help strangers?

wait-254130_1280

Not to flat out steal from my Guildmate who writes the head scratching style of questioning books, J Edward Neill, but it’s a piece of the zombie outbreak question that is sometimes glossed over. From a horror movie sort of view, the answer becomes obvious: DON’T. Clearly everyone is out to get you and letting them have some kind of real and true access to you will only allow them to get more opportunities to kill you.

In the tv show/movies it is shown as a life or death equation. What isn’t always explicitly said, but clearly implied is that this decision affects you nearly as much as the person you want to help/leave behind. You may have to live with the consequences of inviting someone along with you if they end up doing bad things.

Court and I talked about it for a while as to what we would choose and came to a different question: What would members of my family do (I have not talked it out with them, this is just a straight out guess)?

My Dad – He’s too logical. Too protective of his family. In fact, I think he’d have to really dig in his heels with other members of my family in order ensure that no random element would be let into our group.

My Mom – She’d understand all the logic my dad would throw around. Heck, her head would probably agree with his decision, but I can’t foresee a situation where she wouldn’t at least try and help another person.

My Sister (Courtney) – Perhaps even more than my mom, my sister would want to help as many people as she could… at first. The one thing that would change that is if things went sideways and one of her family was put in danger. Assuming that like a tv show things could still work out, I could see such an incident ensuring no one else would get any assistance.

My Brother in law (Bill) – He has a big heart. He loves helping people in the real world. However… I think all that gets thrown out the window in favor of the group/family. No messing around, no-nonsense. Let’s get to wherever it is we’re going and that be that.

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My Brother (Mark) – Probably the one I’m most unsure on. I lean towards thinking he’d move on past the strangers for the sake of his group, but a small piece of me can’t help but think that perhaps he’d try to give them some assistance… possibly food/water.

My Sister in law (Meagan) – On the other hand, she’s going to want to help other people. Maybe even to the point that the very thought of NOT helping would cause her distress. She might be the one who leaving someone behind would weigh on the most.

My Mother in Law – Someone who has effectively adopted her next door neighbors  would be hard-pressed to turn away others, I think. Talking it out with my wife, she thought that her mom would then feel guilt about all the other ones out there that she couldn’t get to.

My Father in Law – Before he passed away, I think I would have put him in the move on column, but at his wake I got to meet many of the people in the AA program who he helped try to get their lives back on the right track. Strangers who he felt compelled to help because he was in the same situation. In this case fiction has to mirror reality.

My Step Father in Law – A former cop and a former locksmith, he’s definitely someone I want on “my team” when the end comes. As we search the wasteland for signs of food and water, those locked places would open their treasures up to us. He’s one that I lean towards helping strangers, but it would have to be the right place and the right time as his background in law enforcement could very well help him spot those trying to do us ill.

My Brother in law (Nathan) – A lot like my dad, I think Nathan wouldn’t entertain the possibility of something endangering his loved ones. And these Strangers, they are a variable in the equation that might not sit quite right.

My Sister in law (Mandy) – I don’t think she’d invite the Strangers to come along, but instead falls into the category of wanting to help where she could through extra food/clothing/etc. But when we break camp, you need to go in a different direction.

My wife (Courtney) – I think we’re to the point where she’s watched too much Walking Dead to totally trust the random strangers. If something seems too good to be true type thing.

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It would weigh on her, though.

And me? I think I’d have to think of my group/family at first, but after sleepless nights trying to weigh whether that was even the right decision, we’d eventually come upon someone(s) where the guilt would force me to let them in.

I can only hope that these are good people I’m letting in.

***

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.

So Little Time… for Time Travel TV Shows

I love TV Shows. Much like I love movies and novels, I want to see a good story develop. Doesn’t matter the format whether it is in a podcast or some old book. As I told Chad the other night, I don’t know if this is still the new Golden Age of TV, but’s it feels like it gets better an better every year.

However, I normally don’t jump into a new show with my whole body. No, I’ve been burned far too many times where I’ve invested in a story line and characters and by about episode 5 or 6 the networks have made a decision not to order an additional half season (Flashfoward, Terra Nova, Journeyman, Brimstone just to name a few). Or maybe they get through that first season, but then don’t get another season.

Those are the shows I can do without at this point. Last year I waited on Lucifer, to see if it got renewed or not. So it sat on my DVR until finally they announced it was coming back this season. It was only at that point that I started watching (by the way if you tried it out but decided that the first couple of episodes weren’t your thing – it genuinely improves with every episode – I was pleasantly surprised). I realize that this is counter productive in a way, as if everyone did this then nothing would make it, but I feel like my one vote of viewership isn’t going to tip these particular scales.

This season, someone must have downloaded another piece of my brain, because no less than 4 shows have to do with Time Travel, and now I’m wondering if my rule of waiting on the shows may have to be reevaluated given my love for such things. I knew about two of them, and had added them to my list:

frequency tv

Frequency (CW)

October 5 at 9:00 PM

Look, the movie was amazing. This idea that a son could talk to his father some twenty years earlier, and throughout the movie they suddenly realize that the case the son is working on (he’s a cop) is the same killer who murdered his mom years ago.

I don’t want to say anymore, but it is worth watching.

This is a remake of the movie, switching the son for a daughter, and from the long trailer I saw, it seems like the Butterfly Effect is in full… effect. If this show is half as good as the movie…

Like I said, this was already getting the full add to the DVR.

2016-0801-Timeless

Timeless (NBC)

October 3 at 10:00 PM

This appears to be more along the lines of agents working to fix time because someone else is screwing things up for all of history. If you’ve seen the trailer, it looks like much of the pilot is centered around the Hindenburg Crash. I’m hopeful that this one has some legs, as being on NBC means that it’s going to have the potential for more eyes, but the last time I watched a time travel show on NBC it was Journeyman, which was AMAZING, and lasted all of 1 season.

Fool me once? Who am I kidding, I’ll be watching this one from the word go.

The other two are mid-season replacements:

Time-After-Time

Time After Time (ABC)

Sundays at 9 PM

Apparently this is based on the movie/novel about H.G. Wells (yes, the author of the Time Machine) who is chasing Jack the Ripper through time.

I must admit, this is one of those movies that I keep meaning to watch and have just never gotten around to doing so. It’s one of those, that whenever I see it on tv it’s always half-over.

What I do know is that this is a Kevin Williamson tv show, so it goes on the list of one to at least give a try.

Making-History-FOX-TV-series-key-art-logo-740x416

Making History (FOX)

Sundays at 8:30 PM

A comedy, about time travel… hmm, I’m not entirely sure how this one is going to work. Basically, a teacher/professor has a time machine that he uses every week to go back to the 1700s where he has a girlfriend and apparently the British haven’t been kicked to the curb just yet. I watched the trailer for the show and thought there is a possibility for some funny stuff, so this gets a…

I’m at least checking out the pilot when it comes on. It looks like it may be paired with Last Man on Earth, which can only help.

 

***

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.

Dragoncon 2016 – The Good and Other Thoughts

Last week I talked a lot about the bad stuff that went down at Dragon Con this year. These are obviously not crazy problems, and I completely understand that. More it was as much about having that moment where you just say “this is going to be one of those weekends” and it happened to be this particular one.

That said, I do have some thoughts about the convention below that occurred to me as I was waiting in the fabulous Line Ride(s).

south-park-line-ride

But first, The Good

On Saturday we saw the Legends of Tomorrow panel where I got to see a man dance like he might have been Michael Jackson in a previous life. Considering he plays Hawkman, a character whose whole gimmick is reincarnation, it was somewhat fitting. I discovered that the man who plays Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) might actually be Vandal Savage in real life (or more to the point, just frickin’ owns the role!). I realized that the cast realized they might have a drinking game on their hands with the number of times Kendra (Hawkgirl) says “But I was a barista only 3 weeks ago!” Something Robert had brought up the day before (that I hadn’t really noticed).

legendsheader

Oh, and the complaint about not getting the line in quick enough from last week? Apparently that was not a problem for this panel as we got moving 15 minutes before the panel started and were seated by the time things got started.

Maybe it is a hotel thing?

I sat in a number of writing panels where I either learned something or it helped to reinforce some things I knew, but haven’t yet put into proper practice. I like to think of those panels as a nice way to get recharged for the rest of the year. You have all these people who just want to get their ideas out there, tell their stories, and hope someone enjoys them.

It’s refreshing.

Even on Sunday, we had no problems getting into the vendor’s room, and the extra floor really helped to let things breathe a little bit more. That’s probably the single best thing from the convention expanding into the America’s Mart buildings these last couple of years.

Like I said before, while it might have started out rough, we came home on Sunday with smiles on our faces, already looking forward to next year.

The OTHER

I do have a couple of thoughts about Dragon Con and where it might need to go eventually. Again, I’ve been going to Dragon Con virtually every year since 1993. And I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but during those moments when you can’t move due to the sheer amount of bodies in a building, where you can’t get into a panel without having to wait an hour plus in a line, and where there is even discussion about what a Fire Marshall might require.. it might be that Dragon Con is TOO BIG.

Dragon Con 2016

I’m not sure of the attendance numbers, I do feel that Dragon Con has gotten bigger and bigger over the last 4 or 5 years. When it gets unpleasant for people to be there, that’s not really the goal, is it?

Maybe they should consider a couple of things:

Capping attendance. Not sure if that is through only having pre-sale 4 day passes or something. I know they want to be able to serve everyone who wants to come, but enough is enough.

Or maybe this Con needs to move to a bigger venue. Yes, we all love that it’s in the hotels. It means that when you are sore and tired (and have a room), you can go upstairs and take a rest. But one of the things hotels create are choke-points. The sky bridges are natural choke points. Everyone is in costume, and it’s awesome, but I can’t move from one building to another because there is no flow. So many times it becomes salmon swimming upstream.

This year we were lucky to not have rain most of the weekend. When it rains no one walks the streets and the hotels cannot handle it. It becomes a complete mess.

Now used to be, before the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game didn’t exist, I thought “Hey, move to the World Congress Center, we’d have the space and everything would be in ONE BUILDING (effectively)”. Currently the Con is now in 6 buildings over like 5-6 blocks.

SIX BUILDINGS!

Come on. That is far too many.

Now that the football game exists, I don’t think being over there would be the best idea. We’d be on top of the football tailgaters. And while I love the looks on the people from out-of-town as they gawk at the cosplayers, we’d just be over crowed somewhere else.

So my solution, assuming the World Congress Center would work otherwise, is to move the date of Dragon Con. It’s not unprecedented. Used to be it was in mid-July. If you moved it, you’d be asking people to take that Monday off (instead of having the built-in holiday), but I’m not sure that would really be the issue. Monday is kind of hit or miss most years (we normally use that day to recover, but maybe we’re in the minority). Find that weekend where you are the only BIG THING in town.

Now maybe that would mean a slight dip in attendance, but I’m saying that may not be a bad thing. If there were 5-10% fewer people there… just something to think about.

And there is another benefit, more hotels available for the con goers. You wouldn’t be competing with the football people for rooms. Heck, could it be possible the prices might drop slightly (probably not, but I can dream).

Note, this is not me dreaming of the “good old days”, just trying to make it a little better before it becomes too big (an odd statement to be sure).

Again, maybe I’m just being grumpy. It’s always possible.

***

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.

Dragoncon 2016 – The Bad

This year I think I’m playing the Grumpy Old Man.

That’s how I felt on Friday of Dragon Con. The little things adding up to just annoy and bother me. I’d like to think it was just a combination of things, but regardless of the individual pieces there was still enough there to last me until about 4:30 on Saturday. Luckily it all turned around shortly after that, and I was left with a positive taste in my mouth after the weekend was done.

But let’s start from the beginning…

Actually, let’s start about two week’s earlier, because that’s when I tweaked my ankle, aggravating an old Achilles strain. Come Dragon Con, it was still hurting. Good thing I wasn’t going to have to do much walking or anything!

But, I digress…

Friday morning we gathered the last of what we’d need for the trip to downtown Atlanta for the day. I had a couple of copies of my books and comics just in case (in case of exactly what, who knows, but I need to have them on hand more than I normally do). I go to the drawer in our desk where every other year I’ve placed the postcards Dragon Con mails out (effectively your ticket).

Not there.

I checked another drawer and then another and then another. At some point I could only say, “I’m starting to panic here, Courtney.”

After another 30 minutes of looking with no luck, I checked the web to see what the procedure was, and while it wasn’t on the FAQ, it was on a Reddit thread from like two years ago (just present your Driver’s Licence and you’re good to go). So we drive down, find a parking spot, and then go over to Registration… where they can’t find that we’ve paid.

Eh?

So now we have to go to the far side of the room where it seems one of the places didn’t turn in their registration forms last year. We don’t have a receipt because we’ve never needed to have a receipt. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe we didn’t preregister last year…

A minute later we have our badges and it is off to the Vendor’s hall.

Except, we get stopped about 8 people from being able to get in. It seems that they were already experiencing, at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, capacity issues and don’t want the Fire Marshall to shut them down, so we have to wait. Now this isn’t a big deal except that the Vendor’s room has been open for only 1 1/2 hours and they are having this issue. On Friday.

We make the pack not to bother to come this way on Saturday as I could only imagine how long the line to get in might have been.

30 minutes later we get in, do a quick walk through of one floor of the vendor’s room, before we have to go upstairs to the CDC Panel that I’m actually a part of (second time I’ve been on any kind of Dragon Con panel!). The panel was focused on the motion comic web series I helped write KABI Chronicles (check out all 7 episodes!).

(I plan on doing a full post about that whole experience soon.)

As to the panel, other than wishing more people had turned out, it went well enough. And afterwards we did another pass of the vendor’s room before heading out to eat.

All these people coming to Atlanta during Labor Day Weekend!

Now, here’s the thing. In Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, you have tens of thousands of people descending on downtown due to Dragon Con, the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Football game, AC-DC had played on Thursday night, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. So normally getting into a restaurant can be a bit of a pain. But not this night. Somewhere, the convention gods smiled down on us and said that Hooters would get us seated in about 15 minutes.

And then 45 minutes later we had to inform a manager type person that we still hadn’t gotten our food.

Why didn’t we tell the waitress? Oh, that could be because she’d disappeared for most of that time. And then, after the manager offered us free deserts to smooth things over, she tried to charge us for those as well!

That was enough for us, so Court and headed home, where I began to realize that I wished we’d actually had a room downtown so that I didn’t have to make that 40 minute drive again.

Saturday started fine, but nearly the last straw was trying to get into the Flash/Arrow panel. We decided not to try to play the epic game of “where does this line actually begin” but instead just wait until those people got inside, and then if there was room we’d go in (not wanting to screw anyone over here).

Dragon Con 2016

The problem is that Dragon Con puts these panels 30 minutes apart. But instead of loading the room as soon as the previous one is cleared, they waited until 5 minutes before the panel’s start time to start letting people in. By minute 20 of the panel people in that line still hadn’t finished entering.

What the fuck!?!

Had I actually been in the line and missed a third of the panel because of incompetence, I might have lost it on someone. As it was, we opted to go and check out something else for a little while.

Oh, and to the lady who was taking her time walking in the line… not hobbled or anything, just acting like she’s got all the time in the world – you’re not only holding up the rest of the line, but you are going to see a panel featuring stars from the FLASH, not slow-poke Magoo! Pick up the pace!

Then things took a turn for the better…

But that is a story for next week.

***

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 This Blog Looks Like Now Will Shock You!

Good things take a while. Bad things arrive instantly wherever they are not wanted.

Projects drag on for much longer than you ever thought possible. And I have the patience of… well, something with a lot of patience. There is a fine line between patience and stubbornness. Most times, I’m not sure I understand the difference. Either way, I do my best to remain upbeat about the little hiccups. I try not to worry about the medium-sized issues which tend to pop up every now and again regardless of the project you might actually be working on right then and there.

But when it all goes sideways. When Lucy pulls that damn football out from under you just as you prepare to strike the goal.

lucy-football

That’s the moments that make you wonder if the Thing is ever going to actually happen.

I worry about what other people think. Not in the way you’re probably thinking. More in the writing itself. I wonder if people have it in the back of their minds that “oh, it’s nice he’s doing that comic book thing. Oh, that’s good he did that novel thing. But…”

And the “But” could be any number of things, but in my mind what the “But” signifies is that age old question so many writers tend to want to worry about – Am I a real writer?

Said with the same emphasis Pinocchio might have used when he asked if he was a real boy.

pinochio

You see, to my friends and family I wonder if they view this as a Hobby? Dreaded word that is. That maybe I’m just staying up until 2 in the morning because I got nothing better to do. That maybe I’m kidding myself in this pursuit.

So I want to have those moments where there is something tangible. Even if they might not “get” what I’m doing with the various comics, when I hold up a copy of the book there is something tactile they can see. And maybe they don’t have any idea of the work that went into it, but it is there.

Now, some/most/all of this might just be in my head. Stephen King said that (at least I think it was him) if you got paid for something you wrote and it was enough to pay for a utility bill – that’s it. You’re a “Real Writer”.

And I have managed to do that. Multiple times.

Yet doubt is there.

And then the doubt kicks into overtime when a couple of things don’t go my way. Earlier this year I sent a pitch and sample chapter(s) to an assortment of agents who represent Science Fiction for my novel The White Effect. Nothing, no takers. Earlier this month I entered a contest #Pitchwars with the same novel and got the same result (as in, I didn’t get anywhere with it).

Yesterday I found out I wasn’t accepted into the DC Comic Workshop.

Now, I understand… in my head, that these things are long shots. That the good things take time to happen.

But… it gets hard. Lucy needs to let me hit that ball from time to time.

dragoncon

Then maybe it is fitting that this week, along with Robert Jeffrey, I’ll be participating in my second ever Dragon Con Panel to talk about a project that at multiple times I was 100% sure was never going to see the light of day. Because that’s just how these things go. Sometimes it is good to be wrong.

The panel (4 PM on Friday) is going to discuss the KABI Chronicles, a motion comic Terminus Media did for the Centers for Disease Control (yes, THAT CDC), to create a series of stories that could both entertain as well as teach teenagers and young twenty-somethings about STIs and HIV. Something that we started working on 5 years ago. Something that went from 3 episodes to 7 episodes. Something that was delayed and then restarted and then delayed and then…

Something that I helped to write. Something I helped to create.

And now it is out there.

Nice timing…

***

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.

Letters to You

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

I found a letter I wrote over twenty years ago mixed in with my various electronic files I thought enough of to try and keep them for the pack rat in me (at least the digital versions of these things don’t cost as much space these days). What’s interesting is how that 17 year old was so angry at how things were turning out. You see, I think the lie that we all like to hear is that as you get older it gets easier, but as time goes on I’m not sure that’s the truth of it. I think we’ve just had more experiences that we no longer react as extreme to some of the bad things.

old-letters

Maybe.

And of course, when you’re 17 the “bad stuff” is not always as bad as you think it is. But even that’s unfair to say. If something is affecting you negatively it doesn’t matter how big or small the “thing”might be… right?

In the letter though, is a line that stuck out to me more than anything else: “Maybe one day someone will find this, and understand me a little more than before.”

That line is a bit ominous. Anger, sadness, teen angst… I read it and I’m not sure I understand that person, but I remember those same feelings.

You see, when you get to be a junior in high school, that’s when it is all supposed to change. You can drive by that point so there is a fair amount of freedom you’ve never had before. And with that are potential dates… and yet none of that had happened by the end of April. It’s my own fault for inaction mixed with a crippling sense of “what if she says no”. And I’m fairly sure I missed any number of signs that might have come my way… oblivious to the flirting. Always looking for the explanation where the girl in question was just being nice and there was nothing more than that.

anger

Junior year was supposed to be “the year”. But it had started with some body blows to the old self-confidence and then shifted to ensure that confidence would be diminished later in the late fall. After playing 2 years of high school basketball, it came time for Varsity try-outs, and I just wasn’t good enough. I’d be lying if I said it was a complete shock. I was never a starter on the Freshman or JV teams, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was still a kick to the gut. I remember later that year talking to some others in my classes and one of the guys mentioned that I should have went out for varsity as I was a shoo-in to make the team.

Yeah, not so much.

The second “big bad” was getting pink eye and having to wear those dorky/nerdy glasses again over my contacts. Glasses had always been that thing growing up that made me see myself as ugly – so when it was that I got contact lenses it immediately took my confidence from a negative 100 to around a solid 0. Suddenly to go backwards for the better part of a month… just a nightmare.

My week days were a mixture of working at Kroger from the time I left school until 9 or 9:30 at night. I’d eat dinner, do any homework I had left, and then maybe watch some TV or play video games or listen to music in my room. On my off days I’d roleplay with friends or play basketball.

This version of me in the letter… he lays awake at night and seriously wonders if there is someone out there for him. He’s a dreamer who wishes he was a realist. Maybe he’s read too many fantasy stories where the guy gets the girl. I’m not sure. And again, at this point in April High School is closer to being completely over than it is to starting. Of course, the problem is he’s in the midst of it. He’s too close to acknowledge something like that.

board-Welcome to the future

He’s made it almost to the finish line. I want to find someway to reach through and let him know that while Junior year sucked, Senior year will more than make up for it. That he only has a few more weeks of school and then summer vacation will begin. I want to mention that the girl he’s been waiting for is someone he already knows. That he is still 3 months, almost to the day, from going out with her.

That he needs to take a moment and just be patient. It is going to get better. No lie…

***

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.

Again and Again

Wake up. Look at the alarm clock. Decide begrudgingly to not hit the snooze alarm (again). Stumble out of bed, somehow weaving through your house to find clothes for the new day. At some point decide not to call in sick to work so as to take a hooky day.

Go out to lunch, bring my lunch?

Tackle Task 1 on the To Do List or tackle Task 747 (the Goddess must be appeased!)

Take the interstate home? Take the back roads?

Go to the gym?

Watch TV when I get home? Write? Play a game? Go to bed?

Start all over again.

***

alarm-clock

This is your life through your eyes. This is your world, shaped by your decisions and desires.

Time and decisions and more time and less time…

***

Why does the Old Guy speak his mind so readily when the rest of us struggle to say what we actually mean? Could it be he doesn’t have the time left in front of him to pussy-foot around or spare your feelings? Could it be he has shit to do, and more than anything else, you are actually killing him very slowly?

***

More than money, more than love, more than hate, more than anything – Time is that thing you, me, everyone just doesn’t have enough of. Even if we had more of it, what good would it do me? I still perceive the world through these same eyes. Through the colored lens of my own experiences and memories. I might chose to do something different the next time a similar situation comes up, but only because I know more about what the outcomes are.

***

Maybe that’s why time travel fascinates me so much. Those long forgotten decisions shaping today. What would it be like to take a glimpse at some event from our past as an outside bystander? What would we see that we couldn’t see in the moment?

But so many of the books and movies and tv shows (because they need to sell you on the storyline) make it where they are going to change things that went wrong. Or maybe they are going to right something and save lives.

Or they are probably going to try and kill Hitler at some point.

Probably.

***

Today as I left the gym I saw the front desk girl talking with some guy, and she was clearly into the guy. And maybe, maybe he knows. Maybe they are already dating. Or maybe they’re still in that dance where she’s putting out the signals, and he’s hoping she’s into him, but he doesn’t want to put himself out there?

But the point is, as the outsider, I could see some aspect of what’s going on. I was the time traveler of their moment that is already gone as I type these words.

If I was the Old Guy, I might have gone up to them and said, “Look, she likes you. You like her. Get together and see what happens.

(Well if I were the Old Guy and also very ballsy.)

***

book-school

School is starting/has started/or is about to start for kids everywhere. And much like the graduation signs in the Spring, this time of year has me looking back to my own high school days. Days when I was completely clueless about everything and everyone. How I was convinced no girl would ever want to go out with me.

The standard types of things.

But it makes me wonder, if I could go back in time to those moments and just observe. And see if the world was actually the way I perceived it, or maybe it wasn’t quite as big and scary. Maybe things were much more apparent than even I was seeing, but I lacked the 4th dimensional view of things.

This isn’t that old standard of “if I only knew then, what I know now”. This is more being able to actually get outside of yourself for a little while. Take in your surroundings. Understand why the events are happening.

Because…

Those days where going to school meant that you somehow had to force yourself through the door. Force yourself to smile when all you might have wanted to do was scream. Maybe the highlight of your days were in 5 minute doses, talking with the few friends who seemed to instinctively understand… IT.

***

They say that those who do not know their history are destined to repeat it.

They also say that history repeats itself.

But I like Mark Twain’s quote:

history rhymes

 

Never the exact same, but enough of the same sounds to maybe let us understand things a bit better?

***

High School never ends…

We still have to do things we don’t want to do. And there will be days that you can’t get out bed. But… just maybe we can hear that old song in a new way?

Maybe we can find a way to make that new rhyme…

***

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’ve Got the Touch!

Transformers the Movie turned 30 years old on Monday. I want to write something about the Transformers to celebrate that idea. But then I realized that I’ve already written a bunch of things about the Transformers already:

Transformers-movieposter-west

How when the movie originally came out, I couldn’t go during opening weekend. And it disappeared from our theater before the next weekend (stupid small town theater!).

Or how issue #4 of the comic was the first comic I ever bought.

Or how Michael Bay won’t get me to watch another of his movies, even if they have Dinobots in them!

Or even discussing the proper way to “play transformers” (and no, they don’t play “Friends”).

The thing about Transformers is that it kind of replaced Star Wars for me after Jedi had come and gone. Maybe there was some aspect of the engineer in me wanting to come out as I transformed certain characters from car to robot and back to car again. But when there was really no other outlet to interact with Star Wars anymore (remember, this is still the better part of a decade before the Zahn books even show up).

This was crazy space battles. And crazy Earth battles. And planets which could destroy other planets (granted it wasn’t a laser beam from a Death Star, but by being eaten by Unicron).

Good and evil fighting things out until the end of everything.

But here’s the thing, without the movie I would have still loved the show. Heck, it took years for me to even see the movie. However, there was something about the idea there could even be a theatrical release of a children’s cartoon. GI Joe didn’t manage that. He Man did, but it was a live action. The less we talk about that, the better things will be for all of us.

My show got a movie. Not only that, but it advanced the storyline. Characters lived and died and underwent complete changes. After the movie, I remember the GI Joe TV movie where some things changed, and we got Surpentor. Or the Thundercats “movie” where they introduced other villains and other survivors for the characters to interact with.

And maybe all those things were in the works for a long time previous. To my 10 year old self, it meant that Transformers was pushing the envelop in story-telling. That thing we all kind of take for granted from television today: serialization.

dinobots

But it didn’t just start with the movie, the show had done some of that kind of thing before. Obviously it was to sell toys, but they’d introduce the Dinobots, then many episodes later there would be two more Dinobots, and then maybe they got their own episode. The characters might not change at all from episode to episode, but the world was definitely getting a little bigger than it had been before.

When one season ended and the next began, so it meant we’d be seeing newer Transformers. We’d have new favorites to cheer for and against.

What the movie really did was super-charge things. Where the transition from season 1 to season 2 might have meant less screen time for your old favorites, they were still there. After the movie, the slate had been cleared for a whole new generation of Autobots and Decepticons to continue fighting this never-ending war. Again the world got bigger (suddenly we had a whole universe to fight over rather than simply remaining on Earth).

Death had come to the Transformers.

Generation 1 Box Art 2 1280 x 1024

It was a big deal to me. As big a deal as Vader’s revelation to Luke at the end of Empire. Optimus Prime was dead (and again, realize I had to have friends describe exactly what happened since I couldn’t see the movie. It would be like trying to dissect the Zapruder Film with only someone else’s word to let you know exactly what had happened). Someone else was the leader (who the heck does this Rodimus Prime think he is anyway?). Starscream was gone (and thought dead as well – say it ain’t so!).

Lil’ John McGuire’s world was sufficiently rocked by all of this. And then I bought the soundtrack, and Stan Bush rocked me a little more.

Now, I have to admit, I haven’t seen the movie in a long time. I have no doubt it won’t necessarily hold up to my standards today. It is sitting over there on the shelf… and my nephew is coming to town this weekend. I wonder what he’d think of 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!

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.

Alaska-Part 3

Forgive my indulgence in the trip for one more week. I write these blogs for myself as much as anyone else so as to not forget some of the little things. Memory has a way of distorting or disappearing when we least expect it to.

“Paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” – Jack London

For our purposes, the digital screen is a good enough stand-in for paper in the 21st century.

Anyway, Parts 1 & 2 and now for part 3, also known as the DVD Extra Bits.

Day 0 (Seattle) – My wife is a morning person while I am the exact opposite of her. So she awoke bright and early on our first morning in Seattle and decided to go on a little walk, maybe get to see that quite part of the city when very few people are milling around. Like almost every other morning person I know, she also thought that this would be a good time to get that first cup of coffee out in the city known for that very beverage. So she walked down one street for a couple of blocks… no Starbucks. Turned down another street… no Starbucks. Then another one, with the same amount of luck.

When she later replayed the story for me I could only think that she’d fallen into the Twilight Zone or some weird Bermuda-Seattle Triangle where no coffee can be served lest some horrible fate might befall the city.

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” – John Muir

sea lions

Day 3 (Juneau) – When we arrived at our first “stop” on the tour boat, we were treated to a baby humpback testing its limits – slapping its tail again and again against the surface of the water. The whole time the mom was close enough if she was needed, but mostly seemed content to let him “do his thing”.

The whales weren’t the only things we saw though. There is a whole sea lion area nearby, and the captain took us out to see those guys. For some reason it never occurred to me why they might have gotten the name sea “lion”. When we approached the little island, it was readily apparent. They growl.

Day All of them (At Sea) – Mostly due to wanting to avoid any craziness with motion sickness, we were in a middle room, no windows, not too much around us, etc. But I think no matter what, there is only so long you can stay in your room when you aren’t asleep, so you have to find your spots on the ship. Those quiet places where you can watch the ocean and land drift by you while you relax a little bit (it is a vacation after all). Courtney ended up discovering the quiet spot at the bow of the ship in the lounge area. Plenty of chairs, plenty of windows, and aside from the dance classes or the later night activities, it mostly stayed silent.

Day 4 (Skagway) – One of the things I mentally tried to think of when we went on this trip was what animals might we encounter. However, the two goats in Canada were not even a blip on my list. As our bus pulled into Caribou Crossing for lunch and to see the sled dogs, I saw that just up on the hill behind the “town” was two white specks. Pulling out my binoculars, I was surprised to see two mountain goats hanging out on the side of the mountain. Quickly snapping a couple of pictures, I pointed them out to Courtney.

Fast forward to an hour or so later as we are leaving the area. I take a second to glance back to see if they’re still up there. Sure enough they are. Not only that, they haven’t moved from their spots.

At all.

Hmm…

Yeah, they were fakes. Not sure why they needed to get my hopes up (not huge hopes, these are goats we’re talking about here), but they definitely “got me”.

skagway

Day 4 (Skagway) – I’d say that Skagway had the look of what I thought Alaska was going to be. Much more mountainous, snow caps, rainy and a little cold. We also saw these odd-looking things above the road we were taking. A pole with a bit of red on one end. However, the tour guide was quick to inform us of the true use of such things. You see, in the winter, they still need to have use of the roads. Snow plows have to go out and clear as best they can. But, with all the snow, the road can get a little (a lot) obscured, so in an effort to keep you “on the road” you best stay on the good side of “the red”.

Yes, apparently Alaska has all sorts of way to kill you!

skagway-avalanche

Day 6 (Ketchican) – Quick note. When the tour guide tells you to meet the van at the “Rainfall Gauge”, this is what they mean:

rainfall

 

***

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.

 

 

Alaska – Part 2

For Part 1, click here.

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were cruising away from Juneau onto their next port of call with a mind full of dancing humpback whales and bald eagles everywhere.

Day 4 (Skagway) – This was the longest day at any port. Took a tour bus into the Yukon which meant going through the Canadian Border Patrol at Fraser, Canada. Now I say Fraser and you think “town” (well, maybe you think Cheers or even his spinoff), but what you should envision is about 3-4 houses, a border patrol building, and the train station where you can ride the train back into Skagway (which is what we did). Apparently you should not run to the bathroom on the bus when you are about to go through the passport check, the Canadians and Americans don’t seem to like this very much (luckily I did not have to experience any issues like that).

But we were warned both coming and going. And here I thought we were all hugs and kisses with our friends to the north.

In the Yukon (this is back in the 19th Century), listen I understand that there was a gold rush and all, but they had to institute a rule (the Canadian government did this) that in order to pass by the border to look for gold you had to have 1 TON of supplies with you (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilkoot_Pass) because people just didn’t realize they had a good chance of just out-and-out dying. You know, no big deal.

I actually have a picture of the full list…

Supplies

Sorry for the glare at the top.

 

The train ride back was very cool, but there is only 10 ft of “road” up there, so you really are on the edge of the cliff. Literally. The rail line was finished right after the gold rush was basically over, so it ended up not doing much good. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Pass_and_Yukon_Route) We also went to Carcross and Caribou Crossing in Canada which were effectively glorified touristy places, but definitely had that whole “in the middle of nowhere vibe going on. Even got to pet some sled dog puppies which was cool. I thought about the myriad of ways I could possibly stick one of those dogs under my jacket and get him back to the ship. And name him Buck.

Sadly, I did not go through with my plans.

Day 5 (Glacier Bay) – Woke up to a huge sheet of ice. It is amazing how big it is, how far it used to be only 100 years ago (noted from the explorers maps from that time). We hung out for over an hour taking pictures and just experiencing being there.

Gacier Bay

This along with portions of Skagway were what my mind had built up as Alaska, not the rainforests (how naive of me).

The rest of this day was really spent hanging out with my parents. It was effectively an “at sea” day, so you really have make sure to fit in Breakfast, 2nd Breakfast, Lunch, snack, dinner, and some late night 4th meal. It’s hard work.

Day 6 (Ketchican) – The rain capital of North America or something like that (I thought that’s what I read or heard). The town is right next to the port, and again is somewhat contained by roads that don’t lead to other places. We did a rainforest sanctuary and totem pole excursion, which helped to answer the age-old question:

Does a bear s$#@ in the woods?

The answer is yes, by the way. And they apparently like to do their business on the trail paths as well. You know, just to let you know they were out there (I did not take any pictures of those piles… you can use your imagination).

We didn’t see any of the black bears, but we were told by our tour guide that “they were more curious this year than normal”, which I’m not 100% on, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear those words… ever.

Probably the highlight of this trip was when we got to see a bald eagle as up close as you could ask for (like 2 feet away) because he has an injured wing and is a permanent resident of their sanctuary. He just hung out, very much the superstar, probably thinking about freedom and how he’s so glad that the turkey didn’t get to be our national bird.

eagle

 

Day 7 (Victoria, British Columbia) – Very beautiful. From what the tour guide told us it effectively has a Mediterranean climate. Approximately 10 days of winter a year, but only about 10 days of summer as well. Sadly, we arrived at 6 PM and only had 5+ hours before the boat left, so while we opted for the city tour bus there was only so much time to see what we might have wanted to see (the bus tour is the way to go, but after 6 PM they don’t do the get on/get off aspect they do during the day). There is a castle in the middle of town (like in the middle of the neighborhoods) (https://thecastle.ca/).

And the history of that castle was crazy in that after it was build the Dad died and the children didn’t want to pay the land taxes on the place, so they tried to sell it, but NO ONE wanted to buy it. So they came up with a scheme where they’d put all the resident’s names in a hat and the winner would “get” the castle. And that person didn’t want it either.

At some point the City of Victoria bought it.

It was cold on the tour bus… might have been the coldest we’d been on the entire trip (temps were high 50s/low 60s for everywhere). By the way, packing for this kind of trip is not the easiest. You need a jacket or two (but not FIVE like my wife), but there were days that a hoodie was all I really needed. However, the reason Victoria was the coldest had less to do with the temperature and more to do with the fact we were on a double-decker bus, on the top-level, and it had rained earlier that day.

My wife opted not to sit in a wet seat and put her coat down. A few minutes into the drive she was freezing, but waited almost 30 minutes to put on the jacket due to not wanting to stand up while we were in motion.

Of all the times not to bring the heavy jacket…

victoria

Parliament Building

 

Day 8 (Seattle) – Back to Seattle, get off the boat, taxi to the airport (since the subway station was a hike from the Port). Got to the airport legitimately 4 1/2 hours early. One of the things we kept reading was if the ship gets in before noon then DO NOT book a ticket home earlier than noon… that’s a kind of stress no one wants or needs in their lives. Of course, being in the airport for that long was a bit longer than I might have wanted, but I’d rather that than end up running through the airport because the ship was delayed by storms or something. Plus, it kind of worked out as our flight ended up being 30 minutes shorter than the estimated arrival time (gotta love those tailwinds).

Home by midnight.

Day 9 (Georgia) – Veg all day. Laundry all day. One thing you realize about packing for this long of a trip, you start to run out of clothes, and then when you get home it takes all day to clean everything. And you’re a little jet lagged. And you realize your dad had it right all those years when he took 2 weeks off for vacation. The first for the actual vacation and the second week to recover from said vacation.

I don’t have that kind of time, so I took one extra day (Monday being Memorial Day and all), and did my best to get into work for a shortened Wednesday to Friday week.

Thus ends our trip. Most of the time on vacation I’m always amazed at how quick the time went, but this trip wasn’t like that. Maybe I managed to stay “in the moment” more than a normal vacation. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense. Regardless, I felt like I experienced it, and it was the exact correct length.

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John McGuire

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

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

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

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

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