Dragon Con 2014 is one week away! Are you going? Are you excited? We are! John McGuire, J Edward Neill and I, along with Robert Jeffrey II, will be attending this year’s event. Here are some official blurbs about where you can find us:
Amanda is a Dragon Con 2014 Art Show Participant. You can see her Fantasy paintings in the Main Gallery of the Art Show, in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Selected artworks will be available to purchase as prints in the Art Show Print Shop.
Saturday, August 30th Amanda will be leading a panel on the Basics of Digital Painting in the Hyatt, room Hanover G. You can download the full schedule here:
Like her Facebook Page, or let her know you’re attending via the Event below, for more details leading up to this year’s convention.
Author of The Dark that Follows and creator of The Guilded Age comic, John McGuire will be attending Dragon Con this year. John and Tessera guest blogger, Robert Jeffrey II, will be at the Terminus panel at 8 p.m. on Saturday Aug 30th. In addition, they will be around the Terminus Media table (please see the guide for the exact location) at various times throughout the weekend, so if you have a minute or two stop by and say hey.
The Guilded Age
J Edward Neill
Author of the Tyrants of the Dead series and co-author of the upcoming serial novel Hollow Empire will be pit-stopping at Dragon Con. He’ll have free bookmarks, car magnets, and free books to dish out. He hasn’t been to D-Con since 1995, during which he stepped on Glenn Danzig’s foot, saved his friend from drowning in a bathtub of vomit, and cruised the open streets while searching for bottles of Captain Morgan.
I attended my first Science Fiction & Fantasy convention, Dragon Con, back in the 1990’s. It felt like an endless maze of art, comics, books, jewelry, games, etc. If you brought a wad of cash with you it was the best weekend ever. They first opened their doors in 1987 and for several years it was called Dragon Con and Atlanta Comics Expo. In 1996 they became merely Dragon Con. The Atlanta summer convention has grown and swelled, especially so in recent years. In some ways this is great, it means the convention is doing well but it’s also frustrating when the dealer room is so cramped you can’t reach the booths. That’s what happened last year. Still, it’s one of my favorite yearly events and it has everything.
Some people attend just for the Cosplay, while others are there for their favorite fan track. There are parties and performances, gaming rooms, photo ops with the stars, television/film panels, publisher booths, comics and toys, dealers selling everything under the sun and so much more. Love Star Wars, LOTR, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Anime, Steampunk, Horror? They’ve got you covered.
And yes, there’s a lot of leather. Leather costumes, leather armor, leather corsets, leather accessories and more.
I love all of those things, but what I look forward to most are the educational opportunities and of course, the Art Show. I know. How boring, right? Learning at a SciFi/Fantasy convention?? Yes. Conventions are a great resource for writers, artists and comic creators. First you have the face-to-face networking with others in the field, including editors. Second, you have workshops and panels. I’ve attended a few of the writer/editor/publishing panels. They are top notch. You’re learning from successful, well-known individuals in their fields. The same is true of the Art Show Programming. This year I’m giving a panel on the Basics of Digital Painting in Photoshop. Anyone who’s ever been curious about how to get stared using Adobe Photoshop to paint will have the opportunity to see it in action. I think that beats reading it in a book any day. Here are some other great panels at this year’s convention:
Making Art into a Career
Panel of pro artists debate the nitty gritty of the business of art. Not for the faint of heart, real world advice will be given on how to make it!
Anatomy In Action
How the human figure looks with muscles contracting during action. Live models, suitably dressed, demonstrating &
holding poses. Bring your sketchbook.
The Art of Prepainting, the Unseen Hours Before the Brush Hits the Canvas
For fans and artists alike, join Michael C. Hayes for a glimpse into the work that occurs prior to the actual painting of a narrative illustration.
Open Studio for Art Show Artists
Workshop focuses on the importance of classical figure drawing. Draw from a live model. Bring your own supplies. Sign up with Michael Budzisz-Art Show.
That’s just a taste of the amazing panels scheduled for Dragon Con 2014. You’ve paid for the weekend, if you’re a writer or artist shouldn’t you also take advantage of furthering your career?
You can download the full 2014 Art Show Programming below. Oh, and don’t mind the fact that they have me down as Amanda Makepiece. It’s an easy mistake to make!
No, sadly, I didn’t go this year. Or last year. Or any year. I have yet to go. Mostly due to the fact that I’m on the east coast and it’s waaay across the map.
One day perhaps…
But what I was thinking about was that we all know that it isn’t the Comic Book Convention anymore. It is an Entertainment Convention. It is a TV and Movie Convention. It is a place to see and be seen Convention. And then it is a Comic Book Convention.
Now the bigger companies still have a strong foothold, though that seems to be as much due to the fact that they have their movies and tv shows themselves going on – drawing attention back to the comics. And pretty much every major announcement happens at this convention for Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc.
But is there too much Noise for the Signal?
On Saturday night I went to www.BleedingCool.com and promptly opened every article that even kinda appealed to me. After having to reboot the tablet because I had opened too many windows I had to wonder again about the smaller companies bothering with announcing anything at all. Heck, I know a couple of people who had panels that I never saw any press about – not because they weren’t good panels, but because they’ve been drowned out by the volume of other news stories.
So I have to ask: if you aren’t DC or Marvel, why are you bothering with big announcements there? Why not pick a con a few weeks earlier or a few weeks later where you are the big talk of the comic book world. I mean how am I supposed to get excited about your newest book when I didn’t even get a chance to check out the trailer for the newest <insert hot fall movie here>?
Years ago (20 some-odd) the 3rd largest comic company was Valiant Comics. They did Solar, X-O Manowar, Turok, etc. But just as they were really hitting big they came down to Atlanta and basically had their own convention here. They gave away all sorts of freebies, had various creators run panels pitching their books, and made themselves approachable to their fans.
Why do I mention some convention 20 years ago? Because if you are Image or Dynamite or Dark Horse – you could do the same thing with a Denver Comic Con or a Heroes Con. Make that your coming out party for the summer. And do it year after year – set the precedence and then follow through so that in 3 years time people associate you with that city’s con. People who love your comics will go to that con to bask in the glory of YOUR THING. You get to control the message of your books and you do it during a time when maybe everyone else is holding off until San Diego to make that “cool” announcement.
Yeah, maybe you don’t get the volume of eyes of SDCC, but if I’m looking for your post and can’t find it, how many people are just going to randomly stumble over it?
I don’t know, just a random thought I had this past week.
Here he is, my re-imagined Dragon’s Egg for Dragon Con, all done up in his beautiful frame. This was a test run of shots I took on my iPhone. When he hangs in the show you’ll see below the egg, the title, number and signature. I’m taking print no. 1 from a limited run of 15 to the 2014 Dragon Con Art Show. There will be 10, 4×5 inch open edition prints in the show’s Print Shop. The 8×10 inch limited editions are available now in my Etsy shop and if you’re quick, they are on sale for a few more days!
I’m going to have quite a few large artworks at Dragon Con this year, but there will be a selection of smaller works too like this little guy. There will be a range of artworks in a range of prices. As the event draws closer I will have some detail information on what I’m taking on my website – amandamakepeace.com.
At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog post talking about my goals for the year. We’re just over half way through 2014, so I thought it would be a good time to check in on this year’s goals and note any other happy writing things.
Comics – This was a big section of the blog mentioning future issues of Gilded Age, Tiger Style, and Entropy. Sadly there has been little to no movement on these (not my fault, I promise!). Some of it has to do with funding, some to artist timing, and others to the grand thing that is life. I still have some hopes to see a Gilded Age #2 at some point in the Fall, and that Entropy #1 could get underway as well.
This is going to have to fall under the old “fingers crossed” bit.
Novels – The White Effect – It is my goal to have this book out this year. I believe that will still happen, though again, the year is speeding by. As soon as I finish my current project, this will become my all-consuming focus. I’ve been looking for editors for this tale, so I should have one lined up by the time I’m done with the 3rd draft.
Hollow Empire – Life has intruded on this one more than anything else on this list. I still need a last editor eye on my portion of it, but that had to be delayed while I was out of work (not expecting that one – hard to pay for editing when you have no job). Now that I am returned to the path of the employed, this is getting done and soon.
That’s a whole lot of incomplete. So what things have I been doing, if not the above?
Edge of the World – The current Work In Progress. This is what I’m happiest about. I just passed the 1/2 point in the novel and I’m very much digging the story. I’m liking it so much that I keep finding new things and avenues to explore within the world. New characters have made themselves known and demand to have some page time. And I’ve experienced that magic moment when you write something and then have it tie into something else you weren’t entirely expecting… like magic.
Blogging – Still haven’t missed a week. This is on track for 27 weeks (now 28).
Website -I have a website now. And while I didn’t do the heavy lifting (a heap of thanks to Tanya Woods for that), I have been trying to keep it updated. This should have been on the list, but wasn’t, but I’ll count it as a win.
4 Shorts to online magazines – I haven’t submitted anything, but I did complete a short story (Piece by Piece) and posted it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords (and at the latter 2 it is completely free – and you can also find it here and here for download). So another positive step forward.
Kindle Worlds Novella – When I capped off the Jan 1 blog, I said there probably will be something that pops up that wasn’t even on my radar back in January. This Veronica Mars novella was definitely one of those. With my lovely wife as co-writer, we got this out there at the end of April. So that was another one in the win column.
The Dark That Follows – Lastly, my debut novel finally exists in PRINT (here)! Another one that should have been on the list. Regardless, this was a cool day.
So that’s it, as far as I can tell. 6 months in and the one thing I’ve really learned is that I need to get my butt in gear. There’s plenty of time left to do what I set out to do, but that time is going to speed by if I’m not careful.
Tonight I’m reminded of one of my favorite literary quotes:
“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”
“White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
I leave it to you to find the source of this gem.
No, I’m not dead. Not just yet.
I’ve been working on this one for so long, it hurts in a very real, physical sense. I was a young man in my twenties when I wrote Dark Moon Daughter‘s first chapter. I was fresh, full of hope, bright-eyed, sun-shiny, and so forth. And now I’m a bitter, black-hearted old man. Ok. That’s probably overkill. But it’s true; seeing both sides of the coin is enlightening. It’s hard to write about darkness, shadows, and bone-crushing defeat until you’ve experienced a bit firsthand…and stood up stronger afterward.
And so, without further ado, I present:
Click me. Buy me. Read me. Love me.
I loved and sometimes hated every moment of writing Dark Moon Daughter. Yes, seriously. An adventure, it was, and not always easy. I climbed mountains tall and snowy…and wandered caverns dark and deep. Writing and editing this one felt like a relationship with an onery, passionate woman, and now I’m happy to let her soar free as a falcon. As of today, the Kindle version is on sale for a mere $6.99. In a few days, the softcover version will be out on Amazon (and for those who live near enough, via me directly). Also, for the first five people willing to post an Amazon review (any amount of stars) I will hand over a signed softcover edition. I’ll even pay shipping if needed. You know where to reach me.
A little background on Dark Moon Daughter:
– At only about half as long as Down the Dark Path, she’s more in the realm of traditional fantasy novels. For those terrified of my first epic’s staggering word-count, fear not. DMD is shorter and focuses primarily on three characters instead of six
– The front cover is a painting hanging on my living room wall. Eileen Herron, a supremely talented sculptor and painter, braved an unedited copy of the book to prepare for the painting. Eileen also drew up the sketches in this post, each a dead ringer for the image of Andelusia…and the Ur
– I began writing Dark Moon Daughter in 2003. I was miserable after the Chicago Cubs blew a 3-1 series lead over the Florida Marlins, and thus decided the only way to recover was to write a supremely dark, gut-wrenching novel. Weird, eh?
– While a spiritual sequel to Down the Dark Path, ‘Daughter does not require the reader to know DDP through and through. But without a doubt, the third and final book in the series, Nether Kingdom, will demand a reading of Dark Moon Daughter. It’s almost like a mini two-part series rather than a trilogy, but ‘trilogy’ sounds better, so that’s what I’m calling the three books combined
– Dark Moon Daughter is definitely the least dark entry in the series. I like to think of her as a gateway drug. Inject a little Andelusia, Grimwain, and Ur into your veins, and you’ll be unable to resist coming back for more
A simple Eileen Herron sketch and an accidental preview of the Ur, who will haunt the pages of Nether Kingdom aplenty…
Supporters of fantasy, lovers of the night, eaters of words, I hope you’ll snag Dark Moon Daughter soon and give her a spin. She’s quite a catch.
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3 is happening now and Jon Schindehette‘s ArtOrder Booth is decorated with 300 tiny paintings available to purchase. My 3×3 inch oil painting, Phoenix and the Unicorn, is one of them. Do you see him?
SFAL is going on all weekend. If you’re going be sure to stop by Booth #718. If you’re not going you can still enjoy the view as seen in Jon’s photos below.
Don’t forget, if you’re attending Spectrum Fantastic Art Live this weekend you can see (and purchase) my tiny oil painting, Phoenix and the Unicorn. You’ll find my painting and many others at Jon Schindehette’s ArtOrder Booth – #718.
This weekend (Saturday) I will be at Challenges Comic Store in Decatur, Georgia from 10 till 4(ish). It’s Free Comic Book Day, so there are plenty of goodies to be had, and some of the other Terminus Media guys will be there with the latest issues of their series (as will I with hard copies of The Gilded Age and Terminus Team-up #2 which I wrote).
So come on out, check out the various things going on (Magic Grand Prix Trial for Atlanta will be there as well). Stop by the table and we can chat.
A strange thing happened to me on the way to work this morning. Normally along my route I pass any number of police cars. I’m not sure whether this is due as much to the recent (months ago) change in speed or if it is just good “hunting ground” for all manner of traffic violators. Regardless, I passed one of the 2 today (it is 11 miles to work and I have passed as many as 5 in my trips to and from work so I know better than to speed) and suddenly found myself being pulled over.
And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it could have been for. When he actually got behind me I was at a dead stop… in my old car I’d been pulled over for a faulty taillight, so maybe…
Expired tags. That’s why he pulled me over.
Except, had I the money, I would have bet him tons of money that my tags were not expired (my birthday is in January, so this would be 2 1/2 months overdue). I could see, in my mind’s eye, me placing the new decal onto my plate. No doubt in my mind.
Of course, I might have been in a different kind of trouble had I broached that aspect with him. Still he double checked, and as the ticket in my hand states: Expired Tag.
How in the world did this happen? My wife and I are pretty good about dealing with the various bills that come with the not-so-fun aspects of being an adult. And in this case it’ll cost me probably a couple of hundred dollars to “learn this lesson”.
Not the best way to start your day.
The thing is, there are so many distractions in my (everyone’s lives) that something as “small” as making sure I have the right decal on my car slipped through the cracks. We got so caught up in LIFE that we allowed this mistake to happen.
When I’m reading books or comics or watching movies the big bold moments are the things that we all remember and all come back to, but sometimes it is the smaller things, the subtle things that make the bigger difference in a scene.
One of my favorite moments in all of the Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies is a moment where he has made up his mind to tell Lois that he’s Superman (of course, in this second, I can’t recall if it is Superman 1 or 2, but that doesn’t matter as much). She has her back turned to him and he takes off his glasses, stands up straighter, and that awkward Clark Kent is suddenly gone and in his place is Kal-El. But it is only for a couple of beats before he chickens out, puts the glasses back on and BAM, there’s Clark again.
It’s probably the only moment in the Superman mythos where I bought into the idea that Superman could hide in plain sight right beside Lois and her not realize Clark and Kal were the same being.
And it was one small moment.
What if I had gone to work thirty minutes earlier? Would the cop still have been there? Would he have noticed my tag from his position on the side of the road or would it have been blocked by another car? Could I have gone a whole year without paying, maybe not realizing it until it was time to deal with taxes next year (or possibly when I got my 2016 Decal and saw that I only had a 2014 one on my car)?
Not trying to over analyze via the Butterfly Effect or anything. Really this is going to make this month tighter on the wallet than the wife and I would have liked, but in the grand scheme of things my life isn’t going to be fundamentally changed by this thing.
I’m a little scattered today/tonight, dealing with the aftermath of my little moment. Hence this blog feels a little scattered, and yet there is a connection in there somewhere. At least I think there is.
And I know that tomorrow is going to have some other little moment that I may not even notice, but it’ll be there. But what does it take? When do the little things become the big things? How can you tell?
I’m not even sure what answer I’m looking for. Maybe I’m not writing the right question?
I’m 7-years old. The kid across from me has issued a challenge to me. We’re both to submit to the Sissy Test. We take our erasers and rub the skin on the back of our hands. Back and forth until the skin is raw. The first one to be in too much pain is the loser.
I’m 38-years old typing this blog and take a look at the mark on my left hand. The tattoo of my own making. It is the second reward for winning the Sissy Test.
I’m 7-years old and my mother is whipping me for being stupid enough to scar myself. This is my first reward.
In my defense, the act of rubbing the skin with the eraser never actually hurt. Once the other kid bailed I kept going for a little bit longer, surprised by the lack of pain. It wasn’t until one of the kids surrounding us told me to spit on it.
Then the pain came.
It’s a strange thing, the past. The person you were and the person you currently are never get to meet. There is a younger version of you who has made every decision in your life. Every decision that may still affect you now. The so-called dominoes of our lives.
I’m 18-years old. In front of me is my acceptance letter to the Georgia Institute of Technology to study Computer Science.
I’m 19-years old and after 3 quarters at Ga. Tech I’m finally given authorization to change my major to Civil Engineering. Somewhere in my brain I have decided that my true goal is to design a bridge.
Prior to this, Civil Engineering was pretty much an industry that I picked out of thin air. Really. I’m still not sure why exactly that major was the one I went with.
I’m 38-years old and I have designed plenty of roads and highways and interstates, but I have never designed a bridge.
I’m 24-years old and I have to decide which offer to choose. What job will be my first to set my course by? Maybe this will be a situation where this is the company I’m with until I retire many years from now.
I end up making my choice mostly on the basis of starting salary.
These aren’t decisions that I worry about so much. I genuinely like my day job (90% of the time), which makes me one of the lucky ones. But it doesn’t change the fact that a guy, fresh out of high school, made a major life decision for me. Then again, a fresh out of college guy is choosing where I’m going to go to work. I’m wondering if either were even qualified to make such huge choices…
One of my best friends in the world shared a video with me yesterday from a camping trip a group of us took in 1996. Maybe that’s why my brain has become transfixed with these images of the past. Some key moments, others I just want to dwell in for a little while. I watch and see this 20-year old me with his friends, talking about nothing , but we all seem happy to be there in that moment together.
I wish we had recorded more of that evening. Even if utter nonsense flowed from our mouths, even if the jokes told were not fit for mixed company, every second reminds me of a time before responsibilities of life crept in. Before friends moved away to pursue their own dreams.
Years later it seems like I’m chasing the weekends, wondering when I might find the time to see a friend, talk on the phone, or just hang out. Some of the people on the video I haven’t talked to face to face in a long time, and it makes me sad. But there is another part of me that is happy to know, to see that time when we were all together. That we have that shared experience with one another, and while memories may fade through time, bits and pieces of that weekend will always bind us.
Time moves fast and it moves slow. It’s like it has a mind of its own. I could say that the last 18 years have passed by in the blink of an eye, but that would be a lie. The memories which make us who we are get compiled day by day. And yet, we put things on a calendar to look forward to them and then forget to enjoy them when we are there, in that moment.
I acknowledge this and I am still guilty as I pen a portion of this blog on scrap pieces of paper at work. I’m counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until it is time to go home.
I’m 11-years old and my new friend Lee has pushed a weird novel across a cluster of desks.
“Read this”, he says.
“I don’t read books.”
I’m 38-years old and tell my wife that all I’d really like to do this weekend is read.
I’m 34-years old and the company that I work for has just informed me I’ve been laid off. I stifle the tears while I’m speaking with my boss. Not only would crying be “unmanly”, but probably not the most professional. Though I’m not sure why that would matter in the moment, I try my best to exude a calmness. The peaceful exterior lasts until I make it outside of the building and am alone. I dial the numbers and then breakdown when my wife answers the phone.
I’m 34-years old and I’m talking to my wife about story idea 100476.
“You should just write it. You’ve got the time.”
“But I don’t know anything about it other than what I’ve told you.”
I’m 20-years old in the video and see that the girl beside me is the woman who will become my wife in a few years time. I may not remember every thought he had, but I remember knowing that this was the girl I would marry. She was the one.
I’m 34-years old and the words pour out of me onto the computer screen filling the white with the black ants under each keystroke. The house is dark and quiet and the words continue to flow.
I’m 17-years old and the girl I’ve worked with for over a year at Kroger has agreed to go out with me. I’m nervous beyond belief.
I’m 37-years old and my wife’s hand is resting in mine, both our fingers ready to click the publish button on my first book.
This week’s blog was going to be a convention report on Anachrocon, the steampunk con I went to over the weekend. The same con where I was to sit in as a speaker on my first panels ever. I could talk about how the panels went (really well, I actually got invited to sit in on another one, but had to decline due to day job commitments). Or talk about the people I met and talked to. Or even about the other guys and gals on the panels I sat in on.
Yes, it was all planned out and would be the easiest blog post of all time. The words would flow like… well like wine or water or soda or whatever you might drink.
Then this happened…
Apparently a book bag sitting in the back seat is too much of an inviting target for some people… though they left the comic box also sitting back there. I was annoyed, mostly because I felt put out because my day at the con was now over. Suddenly I get to deal with some real world problems as opposed to trying to have conversations with people. However, what they got was a couple of comics, a Square card reader, some pens for signing comics, and some laptop power cords (though the laptop was not inside the book bag). As I thought about it more it seemed that the bag probably was worth more than anything within it.
Today it occurred to me that there was one other item in the bag which I had forgotten about. There would be no reason to contact the officer to add this thing to the police report, but it is priceless to me.
I had placed my notebook in the bag before I left the house.
My notebook that I use to jot down any number of wild and crazy ideas. The notebook that houses many a random line of dialogue that I might overhear as I got about my life. When inspiration strikes, it gets written down in that notebook.
And it is gone.
On Sunday, while I was talking on one of the panels, a question arose from the crowd asking about ideas and what you do with them, how do you ensure that you don’t forget that random idea at either 3 in the morning or 1 in the afternoon. I talked about writing it on scratch paper and then compiling all of them at the end of the week.
This is a what my wife has to deal with taking over the desk every week.
But I also mentioned the notebook. I never know when a moment of inspiration might strike me. Half the time I hear some scenario on the radio and I take it one step further and suddenly an idea appears. And I have to write them down. Far too many of those moments get lost in the Ether way too much during the course of a day. And while I didn’t have the notebook with me at all times, it traveled with me just enough to get some decent stuff.
Luckily I tend to be one of those people who constantly hits the save button, and the best way to do this with those scraps of paper is to put it into the notebook or type it into the computer. So probably about 1/2 of the notebook exists on my computer in half-finished ideas.
But there are still some of them that are now lost forever.
Now I’m saying that any of them are Steven King/ JK Rowling ideas which will cause me to start a book empire, but there are things in there that my brain came up with… no one else could have invented those words in just that way. And you/me/whomever never knows exactly what might or might not work. Maybe some of them need a little more seasoning.
But they are mine, and now…
Not this type of Lost.
I wish I had some kind of nice ribbon to put on top of this story, and maybe one day someone will return it to me (I believe it has my address/email/phone number inside it). I’m not holding my breath exactly, but I will hope a little bit for that day where I’ll hold it in my hands like I’m Indiana Jones just before the Rock Trap is triggered. My fingers will tingle and I’ll be able to, for a moment at least, travel backwards in time to see what a younger version of me wrote down.
This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) I will be at Anachrocon in Atlanta, Georgia. While I’m still unsure whether I’ll have a table, in theory I will be participating in a couple of panels talking about collaborating with artists in order to make a comic book (that should be on Sunday, though I am not sure of the time).
Regardless, if you are at the con, come find me and we’ll chat about all sorts of things I’m sure. And if you are trying to find me you can always hunt me down @JohnR_McGuire on Twitter.
I don’t feel like writing. Not this, not anything. Sometimes it happens. There isn’t one part of me that wants to be in front of this keyboard. My eyes hurt; I’m tired. I just got my daughter down for a nap: we’ll see how long that lasts. I’m just not feeling it right now and the monitor of my laptop is staring at me like an asshole I want to punch in its stupid face.
I am writing to fulfill my obligation to my friends/guildmates and nothing more.
As I type this sentence I have no idea what the next one is going to be. I started working on a post about the time I worked for Quentin Tarantino and about his recent controversy but it’s not done and it’s not going to be done today. I’ll do it next week. Man, I don’t want to be writing right now at the moment.
(I didn’t like the internal ‘write’/’right’ rhyme.)
So, because I don’t want to write, I will write.
Come on. Words words words. Mary had a little lamb. Little lamb. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. Soylent Green is people. Darkness. Imprisoning me. All that I see. Absolute horror. I cannot live. I cannot die. Trapped in myself. Body my holding cell. Yeah-uh!
(Editor’s Note from the future: There does end up being a point to this. So bear with me.)
Let’s see. Come on…
That Super Bowl sucked, didn’t it? I was about 50-50 on who was going to win and despite my hatred of the Broncos (any fellow Browns fan will understand) I sort of wanted Peyton Manning to get another ring. Apparently, he didn’t want to. Holy cow. Any sporting event is boring if one of the teams doesn’t bother to show up. I bet even some Seahawks fans were somewhat disappointed. That was plain awful.
The game being yesterday did stir up some frustration for me. Geeks have spent their whole life defending what they love, protesting that they shouldn’t be looked down up on and shit on for loving comic books or video games or science-fiction. And we’ve pretty much won that war. If the geeks have not inherited the Earth, we sure as hell, for better or worse, inherited popular entertainment.
But there’s a trend amongst geekdom that is such hypocritical nonsense. It’s okay to dislike sports. It’s okay to not watch sports. It’s okay to say “I don’t watch sports” when someone brings it up. But there are so many who cannot WAIT to tell you how much they hate sports and how stupid the people who like them are. They cannot WAIT to tell you what they’re doing instead of watching the Super Bowl. They cannot WAIT to make sure you know they are only watching it for the commercials. They cannot WAIT to Tweet about the fucking Puppy Bowl. They cannot WAIT to make their “Go Sports! Kick that ball through the hoop for a goal!” jokes that are hacky and lame.
So a group whose entire plight (and I use that term relatively. this is largely a group of privledged white boys and girls) was being derided for liking the things they like are now using any occasion to deride the things other people like. Part of me gets it. I was picked on by jocks in high school, too. But guess what? That jock who beat me up? I’m damn sure he went and saw The Avengers. Your teenage years are a fucked up time and I’m way too old to worry about how people acted towards me when we were kids. I was a dick as a kid. So were you. Ask the other three members of this site if I was a perfect person, a beacon of kindness and friendship and caring, when I was sixteen. They would laugh in your face. We were all fuckwads in high school. We were just all different types of fuckwads.
Like sports. Don’t like sports. Fine. But you are a damn hypocrite when the first thing you do on Super Bowl Sunday is run to your Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and tell EVERYONE how dumb they are for liking sports. Bite me. You are traitors to the principles of geek culture, nerdy little Fidel Castros, overthrowing a dictator only to become dictators yourselves. (Okay that’s real dumb and hyperbolic but hypocrisy is something that infuriates me. Especially in myself. It’s part of me like it’s part of everybody.)
Inclusion works both ways. Other people can enjoy what they want to enjoy and it doesn’t affect you one iota. Let it be. Don’t watch the game, but don’t make fun of people who do. You are no longer geeks. You are hipsters. That’s what hipsters do. Do you really want to be a hipster? While you’re at it, stop watching shows you know you hate just so you can hate on them more accurately. I stopped watching “Heroes” midway through the second season and never looked back, not even ironically. Don’t like “Game of Thrones”? Just dandy. Don’t tune in every week just so you can tell me what you hate about it. That makes you a giant dick.
(The funny thing is so many of them absolutely love MMA and UFC and fill up my Twitter stream every Saturday with accounts of thugs beating the shit out of each other for their enjoyment. And then turn around and complain that everyone is talking about football on Sundays. MMA’s a sport, idiots. YOU LIKE SPORTS.)
I’ll end this dumb rant with a Tweet I sent out a few days ago that is my final word:
“I enjoy both the Super Bowl and the Oscars, but am neither a date rapist nor a homosexual.”
We’ve taken a rejection of ‘us and them’ and turned it into ‘them and us’.
I’m this close to turning in my geek card. Traitors.
So, speaking of Oscars, Phil Hoffman died. Fucking tragedy. Really. I was devastated. Had to leave the house and walk around the block to dry my tears (although it was raining and it didn’t do much good). He was easily one of the two or three best actors working in film today. He wasn’t even 50. Just a shame.
Quick note: several people yesterday claimed the opinion of “He was using heroin. Fuck him. He should know better. I mean, he has kids!”. Chemical dependency is not a choice, not something people can be reasoned out of. I am lucky enough to have never gone through it, except for maybe caffeine, but have been touched by friends who have and I tell you it’s not something you can chalk up to a “bad life decision”. Addiction never leaves you and can come back to destroy you at any moment. It is a constant battle.
You never beat addiction; the best case scenario is that you play it to a draw.
My favorite Phil Hoffman performance, and I think every one is worth watching, is as Phil the Nurse in Magnolia. In a film chock full of crazy, conflicted, selfish, distraught, sad characters, Phil is a beacon of good and love. He radiates caring in a way I’ve never seen on screen. His quest to find a dying man’s estranged son is pure selflessness and the way Hoffman portrays it is heartbreakingly genuine and beautiful. I know Tom Cruise got all the attention (and nominations) for that film but the true masterstroke in P.T. Anderson’s epic of anxiety and helplessness is Hoffman’s nurse, who Anderson named “Phil” because he knew exactly who he would be casting in the role.
If I were to hold a Phillip Seymour Hoffman memorial film festival, I would watch the following:
Magnolia The Talented Mr. Ripley Synecdoche, New York Charlie Wilson’s War Capote
and Almost Famous, where he plays the legendary Lester Bangs and steals every moment he is on screen.
And nearly every other film that he made. Although I thought that DeNiro one was pretty bad. And Savages was garbage.
Rest in Peace, Phil. A peace it seems you had a hard time finding in life. I didn’t know you, so I can’t mourn like your family and friends. I can only mourn the passing of a legend and bemoan the fact that there won’t be any more Phillip Seymour Hoffman performances (after the last Hunger Games comes out). A damn, damn shame.
So I didn’t want to write anything and here I am coming up on 1500 words.
Hey! Maybe I found a point.
A writer should write every day. If it’s ten words or three thousand, you should put something down. If it’s nonsense or if it’s gold. If it’s a useless blog post or the final touches on your masterpiece. I truly did not want to sit down and do this. I had nothing to say. I still don’t, really. But I did it anyway. I typed and typed and typed and typed.
I forced my brain to expel letters, form words, construct sentences, build paragraphs, express thoughts. It didn’t matter about what: I rambled about the Super Bowl and a dead movie star. But I got it down, got through it. Broke through that wall.
And you know what?
I think now I’m going to be able to get some work done on Chapter 6 of my book.
I wouldn’t have said that an hour ago. All I wanted to do today was sit my fat ass in front of the TV and see if that new “Black Sails” show is any good, catch up on “Brooklyn Nine Nine”, and maybe dive into the new Blu-ray of my favorite silent film, FW Murnau’s Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans.
But now my fingers are limber. My brain is a little more awake. I realize I am capable of forming thoughts today. Maybe not great ones, but one doesn’t need greatness to work on a first draft. You only need the will and the time.
So I guess this post will go down under the category of ‘writing advice’, although in sort of a meta way. This has been a document of me writing myself out of my not-wanting-to-write mood. When the last thing you want to do in the world is write, get writing.
I promise I’ll be back next week with an actual post. Most likely that piece about Quentin Tarantino: the man, the filmmaker, and the lightning rod.
Now, onto Chapter Six.
Shit. The baby’s waking up.
Chapter Six will have to wait until the afternoon nap.
PS – If you don’t understand the title of this post, look it up. It was the first thought I had when I learned about the passing of Mr. Hoffman.
Long ago, I made myself learn to juggle. I was nine, and my uncle dropped a musty old book titled Learn How to Juggle in One Day into my lap. I remember it well. During a hot summer day, when I should’ve been out playing baseball, creeping through the cornfields, or tormenting the cute girls down the street, I sat in my grandma’s room from dawn ’til dusk, three tennis balls in hand, bumbling and stumbling my way through learning a new skill.
And sure enough, I learned in one day. Juggling was a useless skill, to be certain, but hell, I’d put my mind to the millstone and figured it out. I was proud of myself. I’d managed to shut out a thousand distractions and learn something neat-o. “Wow!” I remember thinking. “I’ll do this every day, and before I know it I’ll be a master of everything!”
Here’s a little game for you: I want you to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and daydream. It shouldn’t take long. I’m merely asking you to imagine what your life would be like if every single day you could do whatever you wanted. No shackles. No job. No kids. No debt. Your time is yours. You spend it however you want. Think about it. Climb down to the bottom of your desire. What would you do? What would you teach yourself? If you’re up to it, add your daydream to the comments section. I’m interested, as ever.
I’m nothing if not a daydreamer. A hundred times a day, I float through the scenario above. One the hardest parts about this whole writing epic novels thing is the lack of utter freedom. There’s a juggling act to be done, every day, every hour, every waking moment. You know what I’m talking about. We all juggle our lives, and we’re dealing with waaaaaay more than three little tennis balls. We’ve jobs, kids, families, and friends. We’ve lives to live. We’ve unexpected hurdles to jump, and of course we’re all waging war with the inevitability of time and the fact that it’s not in unlimited supply. I suppose if we were vampires, immortal and invincible, we might eventually accomplish every last one of our dreams. But we’re not. We’ve a small window in which to kick life’s ass.
I try to fight the good fight. Before I dare sit down in the darkness to write, I raise my kid, crush my day job, sweat and bleed in the gym, sleep my six, and (big shocker) waste hours every weekend watching football. Hell, it’s not like I can shove everything aside and live in a bubble. Life’s routines consume me, and before I know it, months…even years slip through my fingers. It’s a giant m F’er of a carnival act. Looking back at every day I’ve lived, it’s a miracle I’ve managed to write as much as I have. A million and a half words, dozens of outlines, short stories, blogs, social media posts…how in the hell? Forget what I’ve done. What about writers who churn out dozens of novels? It doesn’t feel possible. Maybe I’m daydreaming even now. If life’s a circus, I’m the clown.
And so my challenge to you (and to myself) in 2014: find more time for ourselves. Turn off the tv, order Chinese delivery, put the kids to bed early, and tell our significant others, “Don’t wait up.” If we can get after our dreams 5% harder than we did last year, we’ll love ourselves more for it. I’m not telling us to shove life aside. Far from it. I’m asking us to carve off the fat, slap distraction in the face, and make sweet love to whatever project is sacred to us.
Yeah. What HE said.
So don’t be the clown; be the ringmaster. Work. Sacrifice. Get after it. One day, reap the rewards.
New Years is supposed to be that time of year for looking forward, setting goals for oneself, and then taking measure in those things from the previous year. So I’m doing that for my writing career. My hope is that the things I write below all come to fruition plus some other things that I might not possibly even know. There were a couple of surprises from 2013…
First a look back at 2013 with the major accomplishments. This marks the end of Year 1 of my mental 5-year plan to take over the world.
February/March – Made it through the first round of cut-offs in the Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Contest last February with The White Effect. I actually entered this contest with The Dark That Follows the previous year, but didn’t get out of the pitch stage (I found out about the contest the night before it was due, not a lot of time to revise and really think about every detail). This time I knew it was coming and really worked on the pitch to the point where something must have clicked as I made it to the 5000 word submission round. And while I did not make it past that point, I learned a little bit about how things work (or didn’t work) in that beginning.
May – The Gilded Age #1 – First full length comic book I wrote and created debuted at Free Comic Book Day. Prior to this my comic work was limited to anthologies, but with this I feel like I’m moving up a step (8 pages to 22 pages!). What started as a bit of inspiration based off a pin-up by an artist (who I never actually got to work with) morphed into this concept of doing a series of complete stories about the various members of a Steampunk era carnival. I’m extremely proud of this comic and cannot wait until the next couple of issues come out. And though I might be a bit biased, I really feel like each issue is better than the previous one (available at Amazon and Comics Plus).
June – Tiger Style #1 – Technically written before Gilded Age, but comics is, at times, a slow moving field, and this book came out at Heroes Con in Charlotte. Up until this convention I had only traveled to cons as a spectator (there is little need for a table when you don’t have wares), but for that Saturday and Sunday I was on the other side of the table (technically I had done Dragon Con as a creator a number of years ago (back in the Dark Ages), so we’ll call this my Modern Age debut!).
June – Hired an editor for The Dark That Follows. In order to get the manuscript ready for publishing, I shelled out some funds and hired Will Flannigan to help me in that final process. It’s been a learning experience on my end to see the various things that someone outside my circle notices after reading through things. It is a weird position to be in as technically I have the final word on whether or not I agree with one of his suggestions, but I probably did about 95% of the recommended tweaks, changes, expansions, and I’m positive that the work is better for it.
June – Began the serialized novel, Hollow Empire, with J. Edward Neill. This idea formed from a conversation over cards one night where I was talking about a podcast I had been listening to and how they wrote serial novels (Self Publishing Podcast). A couple of days later I had an email waiting for me from Mr. Neill, which basically said: “I’m down with doing something if you are.” Through the next couple of weeks we fired emails back and forth about a potential setting and how exactly we were going to try and conquer this strange format (the goal is to release it in Episodes, like little novellas, on a bi-weekly basis before eventually collecting the 6 parts into a book – Season 1). Writing Hollow Empire has made me a better writer because I have had to turn in something to Mr. Neill pretty much every 3 weeks. I’ve learned as much on this project as maybe my other two novels combined.
July – Finished the 2nd draft of The White Effect, my sci-fi novel. Not only am I excited about that book (and getting it finished up in 2014, but more on that below), but it is the longest work of mine to date (90,000+ words) (nothing compared to the esteemed J. Edward Neill, but he’s crazy with his epic fantasy word counts!). Probably the single biggest thing about this project was that I proved to myself that I could finish another book.
October – Terminus Team-up #2 debuts at New York Comic Con. My 3rd comic of the year is still only available in print (that should change in the new year). It is an attempt at trying to tell a story combining a Terminus Media character into the world of The Gilded Age. So I structured it the same (a complete story in 1 issue). It’s a cool book with some heart in there (and dinosaurs… and flying carpets… and clockwork men… and adventures… escapes… true love…). An example of what happens when I convince myself that I cannot possibly write a story given certain parameters… and then go on to find that story in the deep crevasses of my mind.
October – This here site: TesseraGuild.com. It launched during that month and I’ve managed a blog every week since. Another idea pushed to fruition by Mr. Neill, I believe he chose his Guild wisely with Amanda and Chad (and hopefully me too). I think we are still discovering what this site can be and in the coming months I believe we will only get better.
December – Finished the first draft of Hollow Empire. Technically, I’m in the process of writing the last thousand words on my portion of the first draft (got a little distracted by The Dark That Follows being released)… While there is still editing to be done, I’m extremely happy with the stories we’ve managed to read. This is one of the biggest surprises of the year as this thing didn’t exist at all before June.
December – Finished scripting duties for a CDC project (actually my second batch of scripts). Can’t say much more about it until it debuts (hopefully next year sometime, fingers crossed). Once it does, I will definitely blog a little about the experience.
December – Publishing The Dark That Follows with all the nervousness that such an endeavor entails. When I pressed publish it ended a portion of my life that began 3 1/2 years ago when I was laid off from work for 4 months. After pitching the barest of ideas to my wife over dinner one night: “What if there was a fortune teller who could really see the future? And then what if someone came in who he saw was going to die? What would he do?” – she said “You should write it; you’ve got the time”. So I did. I finished the 1st draft the night before I began at my new job, and as per my last post, pushed Publish on December, 23, 2013 (it too is available at Amazon… maybe you need something to read during this winter?).
Since then it has gone through beta readers, wife readings, personal editing, and outside editing. I’m sure it is not perfect (nothing ever is), but I am proud of my work on the book.
I think that’s the majority of it. So long 2013.
Hello 2014. Goals for the year:
Publish Issue 2 & 3 of The Gilded Age. I’m hopeful for more than that, but given the speed of things and the money involved, I’d rather be a little conservative in my estimate here. Issue 2 is being inked right now, and Issue 3’s script is needing 1 more pass after going over editing comments.
Publish Issue 2 of Tiger Style. I believe this one is all but done. Maybe we might get issue #3 as well, Arena Comics?
Publish Issue 1 of Entropy. This is a comic book from myself and Robert Jeffrey II about what happens at the edge of the universe after the wars and the plagues and all the other bad stuff has happened. What do you do when all you can trust is yourself and your ship? Kinda a Mad Max in space is what we’re going for. I’m so excited about this comic. I think that Robert and I have created a world that has so much potential.
Finish Scripts for Issues 4 & 5 of The Gilded Age – The first set of stories ends with issue 5 and the eventual goal is to collect them all into a graphic novel and then publish them and get them distributed through Diamond. I’m of the opinion that in the comic book process things cannot afford to wait on the writer. He (or she) should never be the thing holding up the penciler. So, I need to make sure to have the last 2 in the bank ready to go when they are called upon.
Finish 3rd Draft of The White Effect. I’m hopeful for a few more beta reader comments. I’m targeting late February for the next draft.
Hire an editor for The White Effect.
Publish The White Effect. This is something that is more than doable, barring something strange happening, it will happen.
Hire an editor for Hollow Empire.
Publish Hollow Empire. Again, this is going to happen. Saying that aloud is crazy as that would mean I would be publishing 2 books this year.
Begin Hollow Empire Season 2. I’m not sure how Season 1 is going to go from editing to getting out there, but I know the story of the world is far from over. Even if it was just getting those first drafts done, that would be a major accomplishment.
Finish 1st Draft of The Edge of the World. This is one that my wife has been after me to write for about 2 years now. The story about a young woman, her missing uncle, and the secret of what lies at the end of the Earth. I have it fully outlined and is just waiting for a block of time to get it on the computer. I’m going to try to start this one very soon.
Finish at least 4 short stories and send them off to various online magazines. I have a folder on my computer filled to the brim with about 20 story ideas. Some are just a title and a couple of sentences, some have a couple of thousand words written in them, and still others are not sure what they are going to be when they grow up. Regardless, I want to take my shot with a few of them as they each burn a tiny hole in my brain telling me to finish them.
Continue blogging for a full 52 weeks. My goal is to not miss a week. We shall see how that goes.
So there it is, the plan for 2014. I can’t wait to see what things I accomplished when I check back in at the end of the year. There may (probably will be) something that isn’t anywhere in my brain right now, and that is even more exciting.
Wizard World Nashville was a blast! My friend and I attended all three days and without a doubt, the highlight of the weekend was the Bruce Campbell panel. Below are the photographs I managed to take over the weekend. I say managed, because there was so much to see it was impossible to photograph everything. We attended two celebrity panels (Bruce Campbell and Stan Lee), a few art/writing panels, and did a lot of shopping and talking to other artists. I also had my first Bison burger while in Nashville!
Even a week and a half later I’m still recovering and reflecting from my experience over those (very) long four days. I went up as part of Terminus Media‘s 3-man team. Our goals were to sell some comics, do an interview with the kind folks at Comic Con, and just begin to get the word out about our books. In the coming weeks, I’ll get a little more into Terminus and our books, but for this post I wanted to share a handful of moments/stories from the convention (or just from those four days).
When you are passionate about something in the “Geek Culture” you want everyone else to know it. Maybe you love dropping obscure knowledge or quoting the movie/tv show/book/comic/whatever on some unsuspecting person. But the biggest thing, is that much like a Superhero, it is your solemn duty to stamp out any perceived ignorance about your LOVE. This means that you must constantly be vigilant for anyone who might take this LOVE’s name in vain. I mean Heaven help those who might get something wrong about that thing you LOVE.
So the comic book that I’m currently working on… the thing which has sprung forth from my little brain is The Gilded Age. Now this is a Steampunk book (at least according to me… the creator). That is an important piece of information. I’m at the table and this guy comes up dressed in a Steampunk inspired costume and the following conversation happens once I give him my 30 second spiel about The Gilded Age and he begins to flip through the comic.
Me – So I want to build things through the characters… from their eyes before I throw you in the deep end with dates and everything.
Him – Well that’s not really Steampunk. You know, that’s what people want, they want all of that information and then they’ll want even more from you.
Me – Well I guess that’s what I like about the genre is that it is open to various ways of telling a story.
Him – Yeah… no, people want it all at once. That’s what Steampunk is about. <pause> What’s your Point of Divergence?
Me – Sorry?
Him – Where the timeline breaks off?
Me – Oh, well, I haven’t gotten into it, but it has more to do with DaVinci and his inventions than something like Babbage.
Him – Hmm. <takes a moment to flip through the issue again> This isn’t Steampunk. This is really Arcane Punk.
Me – Ok.
Him – Do you know what <some art related criticism> is?
Me – No, sorry, I’m not sure what that is.
Him – Of course you don’t. You’re just an artist. But it is done wrong in this book.
Me – Well, actually I’m not the artist. I’m the writer.
Him – Oh.
During the whole conversation I’m alternating in my head between channeling Samuel Jackson and just smiling. It took some self-control, but I kept smiling.
He bought a copy though.
After the con was done we had to head back to Atlanta so we got to the airport way early… like your Dad gets to the airport early (three hours early). I’m fine with it even if we had to abandon our booth a couple of hours early, but I’d rather have a moment to grab a little food and rest.
Of course, the flight was delayed 15 minutes to start. We finally get boarded and then promptly sit on the tarmac for another 30 minutes. It was at this point I found out/remembered that Airtran may possibly have the least about of leg room of ALL TIME.
A little about me: I’m 6′ 5″ tall which means that I have long legs. Now I have come to grips on the fact that the world is built for much smaller people (on the way up I somehow lucked into an exit row seat – glorious leg room!). However, I’m ready to say right now that sitting on the runway for that long amounts to a form of torture and by the Geneva Convention I think I have a case against the airline.
Really. Kissing your knees is not a fun way to spend the evening.
Phones have not been invented yet
We get to the hotel to check in. Go up to the front desk and give the concierge our names, but alas the room is not under Tony or my name. Mark (head of Terminus) had reserved the rooms for us. No problem. We get Mark on the phone in an effort to get all of this resolved.
Tony – I’ve got him on the phone. He can give you all the correct information.
Concierge – No! I can’t take that phone. I can’t do anything over the phone.
Tony – But he’s right here. He can tell you.
Concierge – No, I can’t do it over the phone. What he will have to do is FAX me his information.
At this point Tony and I turn to each other, dumbfounded.
What year is this? FAX? 1993?
Do they still have dial-up modems?
Do dinosaurs still walk the Earth?
Tony – Can he email it to you?
Concierge – Yes.
So wait… he knows what email is, but he can’t take the EXACT same information over the PHONE? In case you were wondering that would be where a person SPEAKS to another person. It’s like texting, but Ma’ Bell thought it up about 100+ years ago!
But he can take it through a FAX which uses the PHONE LINE. Good lord!
Our Booth Location
Terminus was situated just across from the Intel gaming area which actually was a blessing in disguise as we weren’t cramped up in regular aisles. Instead there was plenty of room in front of us.
It also meant that we had a front row (figuratively speaking) to the Starcraft Tournament they were running. Now the last time I played Starcraft was over a decade ago. I liked the game, but my Xbox 360 pushed it out, and I haven’t really thought about it until the con. Where they played.
On the big screens.
For hours on end.
Never-ending battles of Terrans vs. Zerg vs. Protoss.
Feature matches on the big screens.
At night I would dream of those units moving back and forth across the screen. My brain slowly trying to figure out which board might give an advantage to a certain army.
It may have been too much.
Since I’ve gotten home though I do feel like something is missing in my life. And that old game has begun calling my name.
Excuse me while I download the latest version for my machine…
I’m in Nashville for the Wizard World Comic Con, not to sell my art, just to have a nice weekend away and of course to see Bruce Campbell. Hopefully, I won’t lose anyone at this Con–it has happened in the past. 😉 Next week I’ll be sharing the madness and mayhem via photographs. See you then!