The Song of Your Life Part 2

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I wrote a blog a while back about how a song can lock you into a moment and become etched in your mind (part one is here). I decided to take a walk down memory lane for another batch.

***

1992-1994 – Nirvana’s Nevermind Album

On three separate occasions, this CD was playing in my car when I got into a fender bender during the above years. Now, in fairness, this is when I was aged 16-18, so the odds of being a little distracted here or there while driving is a bit higher being a teenager. Still, those 3 times were the only times I had any incidents while driving. Now all of these were straight-up fender taps, I was stopped and hit the gas just enough to get going, and the car in front of me had decided not to move. We got out of our cars, surveyed the damage (there was none) and all three people said “don’t worry about it”, and we went about our business.

But I realized that Nevermind was on while I was driving, which I thought was a bit of an odd coincidence, so I instituted a moratorium on playing that album in my car for at least 4 or 5 years.

You can never be too safe.

The kicker was that Chad Shonk was in the car with me for at least 2 of the accidents (I can’t remember if he was there for the third or not), but I never thought to ban Chad from riding with me!

Image by jodeng from Pixabay

1995-1999 – Van Halen – Right Now

My parents moved away to Virginia right after my senior year of high school, and since I was destined to attend Georgia Tech, I would only be visiting during the various quarter breaks. From downtown Atlanta to my parent’s new house was approximately 8 hours of driving. For those who have never done the trip, it is a lot of trees broken up by the occasional interstate exit. As time went on, I had gotten pretty efficient about my stops, which I tried to limit to one just north of Charlotte. I would fill up on gas, use the bathroom, and grab food all at the same exit in the hopes of shaving a little bit of time off the trip itself.

The other key to this trip was my cd player. With a single disc player mounted under my dash, I kept my big book of CDs on the seat beside me and when one was done, I moved onto the next one becoming very proficient in the art of changing them using only one hand.

No matter what mix of albums I was going through, I always had to grab my double-disc of Van Halen’s Right Now, Right Here Live album. Something about that entire “concert” put me in the right mood for my solitary journey, and something about the title song has always made me think about how we need to take a little time to reflect on where we are in the moment. 8 hour trips let you do that all too well, and so it was the perfect companion song for that.

1992 – Ministry – N.W.O.

What I like to refer to as my musical awakening happened when Lollapalooza came to Atlanta. Obviously, I’d been listening to Nirvana, but the wide array of Grunge and Alternative music which was bursting on the scene was still a little out of my grasp. So when my Kroger co-worker invited me to go to the concert with her, I jumped at the opportunity to do something new and different.

The trip itself occurred prior to having cell phones with GPS to get you to the correct place, so we only had a brief set of instructions… and being 16, we completely missed our exit and continued on until we were well south of the city. This all meant we showed up later and missed most of Pearl Jam’s set. However, we settled in on the lawn and proceeded to listen to The Jesus and Mary Chain, Soundgarden, and Ice Cube.

The sun was beginning to set when Ministry hit the stage. And I must admit, I’m not 100% on what song they opened the set with (though the internet tells me they opened with N.W.O. a fair bit, so it’s a safe guess), I do remember what occurred in those next seconds. I’d never been to a metal concert at this point, so when the entire lawn morphed into a gigantic mosh pit, I was a bit concerned. Rebecca wasn’t and jumped right in while I stood off to the side holding our stuff.

Ever since, N.W.O. conjures that same image of thousands of screaming fans just going nuts… and painted the blueprint for many, many concert nights to follow.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – I’m the Problem

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

I’m the problem.

I’m supposed to be out there, trying new things.

Sampling the comic books that are worth sampling.

And I do.

Sometimes.

***

Except there is Comixology.

Did you know that pretty much any comic book that you buy in print for $3.99 is very shortly thereafter going to be about $1.99 for the digital copy? Oh, I don’t know the exact timeline on such things. You see, $1.99 is still far too much for me to pay for that thing I want to read. So I wait for better sales. Hey maybe when it gets down to $0.99 an issue, THEN I’ll give your book a try.

What’s that? You are about to package the first 6 issues together in a trade and offer it for $3.99? Well, that sounds like a deal.

***

Your new independent comic is coming out through Image or Ahoy or Aftermath or Boom or…

So you need those early issue sales, right? I mean, if I want to REALLY help you out I should get my local comic book shop to order me a copy of issues 1 through however many you are going to print. That’s where you are going to make your money and show the big wigs that your comic is the one they should bet on to go far.

Because the way comics work for as long as I can remember, is that you have to have good orders on Issue 1 so that when you get to the dip that happens with issues 2 and 3 and 4… you can survive the fall. Survive that for long enough to get to issue 6 and the 1st trade. Which might buy you another 6 issues.

Might.

***

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Except there is waiting for the Trade.

Because I don’t know if you really are going to make it. I have a couple of long boxes full of the NEXT BIG THING that sputtered out. Plus, I don’t know how you are going to tell your story. What if you really want me to read it over the course of 1 sitting… why would I get those individual issues when I can have them on my shelf as a trade? If I want to potentially read them all together, it would be nuts to buy them in any other format.

Right?

***

It is the best time to be a creator. You can do anything right now. You can build new worlds. You can show us what is inside your mind. There are no limitations.

That’s what is happening out there. Kickstarters are firing up at an awesome clip. People offering their ideas to a world and you don’t need any of the other companies. You can be your own company. You get to effectively do a pre-order of your comic. Hey, buy my issue one and hopefully, I raise just enough to find issue 2 and slowly this thing will grow to the point where they can continue forever.

I even got in on the Kickstarter (and now Indiegogo thing) with Gilded Age.

So all I need to do is help you on this issue 1 and HOPE you come out with an issue 2. But without my support, you may not even get that much. Well, sign me up!

***

Except, maybe I should only get your digital stuff at first. Or, maybe I’ll WAIT FOR THE TRADE… something even more suspect that the more traditional way we get our comics at the store.

***

But I’m the problem. I have the core books I want to read. Those Batman or Flash or Avengers comics (Walking Dead, RIP). You know, those books that will definitely, absolutely make it to a trade. But then I see something like The Wrong Earth (from Ahoy Comics), it about superheroes in parallel worlds and Tom Peyer was a great writer on the 90s Legion of Superhero books. This is a comic I need to support.

And I say – “I want that in a trade format.”

What is wrong with me?

***

I’ve convinced myself that it is two things:

Space & Money

***

The Space issue. My house is only sooooo big. The life of a part-time author doesn’t pay enough to do that add-on basement. So I think about whether adding another longbox a year is the way to go, or… perhaps, the better way is to make use of bookshelves for the comics?

Again, I don’t know if that solves any kind of problems or not.

***

You see, the price of comics continues to rise. When I was 16 and had a job at Kroger making $4.25 an hour, I could buy an infinite number of comics at $1.00 each.

And I did.

I probably got 90% of what Marvel offered at the time. The longboxes upstairs share that reality very well. Today, even though I don’t make $4.25 an hour, I probably spend double on comics for a quarter the titles. As things move to $3.99 and then $4.99, I’ve found that I stick with what I like and I try the occasional thing… once in a while. So the way I can try more and stretch my dollars is to find the sales and the trades instead of the brand new stuff the moment it comes out.

I’ve convinced myself that maybe supporting things a little bit is better than not supporting things at all.

I don’t know if that is true or not.

Burn Out

I was at work the other day feeling a bit stressed out. We have any number of project milestones upcoming and then, to top things off, a project I’d hoped was put away for good instead decided to play Zombie and rise up again to send my entire week out of whack. I walked back from the break room to get some water and started chuckling to myself.

Now, luckily, no one was around to hear me snap and go insane in that moment. No, it wasn’t sudden madness. It was a bit of clarity. I’ve noticed that when the days are approaching when vacation is actually on the horizon, but still a little bit too far away to properly begin a countdown. For me, it was about 2 weeks prior to the vacation I’m on as you read this post.

The beach. The pool. A good book (or two). Headphones.

Hopefully, this is all going to restore my sanity, just a little bit.

See you back in the real world next week.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

How to Make Me

Sometimes the best way to inspire yourself is to look back at the archives of this very site and see what you’ve written before. I’ve done that over the last couple of years, doing repost blogs since there are likely more than a few people who might not have ever seen some of my earliest tales of fun and woe. But sometimes it is also worth it to take a look back at what others were doing and then steal the idea and make it your own.

So as I was doing so, I glanced in the “Drafts” folder for Tessera and found something that Chad Shonk (who wrote for this site many years ago) wrote up, but never actually published. The idea of “How to Make a Me” where he posted these images of things that he felt contributed to who he was at the time of the blog post (or would have been at the time of the blog post). I like this idea of trying to Frankenstein’s Monster myself

 

Comics

Comics are the great, singular passion for me. I couldn’t quit them if I tried. And while much of my collection is focused on the superheroes, that doesn’t mean my love doesn’t extend to the independents. If you have a compelling story, I’m in.

Blast from the past: Comics Are My Time Machine

Music

I’ve written about my love affair with Pearl Jam, but like so many people, music has been the time machine of my life. A song can signify a period that I might have long since forgotten. The nostalgia for those old memories and feelings are a great drug.

Blast from the past: I Like To Swim… Into the Mosh…

Movies

I joke that had I not seen Jaws, I would have gone into Marine Biology. But with my family getting HBO when I was around 10 years old, watching movies was just one of those things I always did. And rewatching your favorites give me a certain level of comfort.

Blast from the Past – My Top Ten Horror Movies

Sports

A long time I wrote about how my two main teams had only delivered one World Title while I’d been a fan (and that was probably one of the years I hadn’t paid as much attention to the Braves). If you aren’t a Lakers/Yankees/Patriots fan, it can be a bit of slim pickings. Of course, with the Braves winning the World Series last year, I finally got to experience that ultimate joy as a fan.

Blast from the Past – Finally!!! Atlanta Braves Win!!!

Books

Jack London was the first author I really recognized from name alone. Call of the Wild was one of the few books, as a young kid, that I’d read and reread. Over the years I’m not sure I’ve found anyone to replace him at the top of my pantheon.

Blast from the Past – Books That Changed Me – Part 2

Poker

Courtney and I play poker. We strategize. We watch Youtube videos. It is one of our great bonding pieces of our relationship. And it is one of those things we can always get better in through practice.

 

Pets

I’ve had cats my whole life. Something about pets overall helps fill in the pieces of your soul. But these two knuckleheads are the best I’ve ever had. And while Westley passed away last year, Inigo has been a rock since.

Blast from the Past – COVID Through the Eyes of a Cat

 

***

Of course, there are other pieces of me not reflected here (family, the beach trips, the travels), but these all consist of the bigger things.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Getting Scolded

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Tonight, I was scolded by both my wife and my cat. My wife gave me the “John!” phrase with a side-eye to round out the effect. And all I had to do was use that old favorite “That’s what she said.”

(Really, as cheesy as it is, it works in almost any situation.)

<That’s what she said.>

My cat scolded me for any number of reasons but the biggest was that I hadn’t opened a window for him to start looking at the birds and squirrels who roam in our side yard. In fairness to him, he likes to chatter at me for any number of things. Sometimes it is because I’m up too late and he feels like it is time for bed. Other times it is because I haven’t moved quickly enough to feed him. Lastly, he is a stickler for ensuring that both my wife and myself take breaks throughout the day. If we’ve worked too diligently on the 9 to 5 jobs, he’ll let us know it is time to get up and move (and maybe give him a treat or two).

All of this had me thinking and reflecting on how easy it is to scold ourselves for our “lack of progress”. So many times we set goals and then lament when we don’t reach them. Or we decide to compare our output against someone else when that is never very constructive.

But, more importantly we don’t celebrate our accomplishments. We don’t take the time to stop and look at what we’ve done up to this moment.

It applies in my own life all the time and probably even more so in my writing life. Two weeks ago Issue 1 of In Our Dreams Awake funded on Kickstarter, and I think I allowed myself a whole 5 minutes before I started thinking about the next step, what else I needed to do, etc.

Honestly, it probably wasn’t until I was at the table for Free Comic Book Day that I was able to recognize (at least a little bit) that slowly and surely, I’m creating more and more works. Whether they are comic related or novel related, my table was full of things which contained words I wrote. Pages and pages of words that have somehow seen the light of day so that other people can also read them.

Does that mean I want to rest on my laurels and not push to do more, to write more or simply create more? Does that mean that I can’t identify errors I made in the Kickstarter campaign? Does it mean that everything will go smoothly the next project I sink my teeth into?

Of course not, but…

But… if we are never happy with where we currently are once in a while, then we’re setting ourselves up to be unhappy.

So, maybe instead of scolding ourselves all the time, we allow for a small celebration. A look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. And maybe, just maybe, take a second to enjoy the ride.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Why I Can’t Bring Myself to do Commissioned Art

“Can you paint a portrait of me, but as a sexy, armor-wearing warrior queen? And thirty lbs. lighter?”

No. And you mean forty-five lbs.

“Can you paint my dog? He’s really cute. Look how his tongue hangs out the left side of his mouth. I really want to capture him in a painting.”

No. Your dog isn’t cute. Also, you have no money.

“Can you paint a lovely little orange barn with a giant Florida Gators logo on the side?”

Instead of that, can I paint a giant dark tower with a logo of a massive alligator demon devouring the souls of the innocent?

“Can I wait until you finish painting my commission to pay you anything?”

No. Go download something free off the web.

Ashes for Ande – A commissioned piece. Never got paid, so I kept it.

I know why artists do commissions.

At least…I think I do.

For artists who have a strong foothold in the industry, who sell every single painting they create, and who can demand a high commission fee, doing custom-to-client work can be lucrative.

For everyone else, not so much.

In the past, I’ve entertained commission work. The orange barn with the Gators logo? Yeah, that was a real commission I did. I spent a ton of time and materials in an effort to make it perfect. I delivered, and the buyer paid me as promised. Only trouble was – I lost money on the sale. I invested far more time than I could ever hope to recoup. And more than the money, I lost self-respect.

I paint demons. Towers. Dark trees. Mysterious women.

Not college football logos on cheesy barns.

In my humble experience, I find more reasons to turn down work than to accept it.

Oh, you want examples?

Last year I painted a huge wood panel piece for a buddy of mine. I quoted him my fee, spent most of two full nights sharpening the image, and delivered earlier than promised. Now, I love this guy like a brother. But here we sit, six months later, and he still hasn’t paid. I’m not willing to lose a friend over the issue, and so I don’t mention the money anymore. Though I do feel a little pain whenever I see the panel hanging on his living room wall.

No, I’m not bitter.

If anything, he helped me.

I’ll explain.

When I sit down late at night, a fresh canvas before me, a glass of scotch in hand, and my paintbrush whirling, I’m in my element. I’m right where I want to be. Whatever I’m about to create will bring me great enjoyment. It could be something grand – a giant mural of skulls. Or something simple – a swirly drip-painted tree. It doesn’t matter. I’ll love it because it’s mine. No one told me to do it. No one cares whether or not I succeed.

But…

If I’m creating the piece for a commission sale, none of this is true.

I’ll feel pressure to make it ‘perfect’ as if perfection is something that exists in art. I’ll feel hurried. I won’t feel like a creator anymore, but rather like a business. It’ll become work instead of pleasure. Rather than savor every moment, I’ll want the process to end as quickly as possible.

I’ll hate it.

I want to paint this…

…not this.

What’s weird is..

Even though I’ll strive to make the commission look fantastic, I won’t do my absolute best work. My creative engine will go idle, and my brush won’t move with the kind of freedom to which I’m accustomed. That’s just the way it goes. With freedom comes passion. With rigid expectation comes pain.

Not a week goes by without at least one person requesting some kind of work from me. “Draw me a tattoo?” they’ll ask. “Paint a forest scene for my wife’s bathroom.” “Paint my portrait, only not exactly like me. Make me look better.”

Some people want me to do this work for free. Or at rock bottom cost. Or they want to wait until I’m done to decide whether or not they’ll pay.

To a degree, I understand these approaches. Art is a luxury to most people. More important things exist, like utility bills, car payments, and food on the table.

The solution feels simple.

Don’t do it. No commissions…ever. No worrying about other people’s ideas, needs, and wants. Make art a meditative, peaceful thing, a creative avalanche instead of a business goal. Separation from commission angst means not worrying about whether or not I’ll get paid. It means growing my skill organically, not forcing myself into styles I either haven’t yet mastered or have little interest in studying. It means painting at a self-chosen pace, not hustling to push something out the door I never wanted to do in the first place. And it means a friendly but firm “No” to everyone who asks the question, and then peace of mind afterward.

Commissioned J Edward art

 

Non-commissioned J Edward art

Is it a bad idea to say, “No commissions! Ever!” Yeah. Maybe. I’m probably eliminating a segment of the population who might otherwise be interested in my style.

Am I going to lose sleep over it? No.

I’d rather be broke and free than wealthy and enslaved.

This philosophy applies to much more than art.

It’s life, man.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Alex Lugo

 

As we go through this month with the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter going on (don’t forget to check it out), I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the letterer and the person who is going to make sure the comic actually is formatted correctly to get printed: Alex Lugo.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I have been creating and working on comics since about the late nineties and early 2000’s part-time, mostly in the independent comics scene. So, for about the last 25 years as time allows.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

I’ve loved comics since I was about 4 years old and it’s been a dream that I have been fortunate enough to be able to accomplish.  The magic of the stories, the great characters, and being around creative people are what keep me coming back to comics.

 

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

My favorite creators of all time are Jack Kirby and Frank Frazetta.  Those two guys are juggernauts in the comics/fantasy fields.  For me, it wasn’t even about their incredible output, but their amazing creativity that brought forth so many amazing characters and art pieces.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

It’s definitely my 10pm to 2am work.  In the daytime, I have a full-time job, and I am also a full-time dad and husband as well.  But when everyone goes to sleep, I become my alter ego and jump into the comics fray.

 

How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

I think my process of making comics comes from learning about some of the great 60’s creators: Kirby, Ditko, Lee, etc…I try to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I don’t sit around waiting for inspiration, I go get it and dive into the project. Comics is a commercial art medium, so it needs to keep moving forward, so my process has come from that position.  I do research, interview my collaborators, come up with mock-ups, etc…anything I have to do to keep the process going.

 

Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Well, I try to touch base with my collaborators/clients and really get into what they are thinking or what they need me to do.  I try to capture their vision if I can or offer them something they haven’t thought about to help and improve their story. I think of us as partners who rely on each other to make the best comic that we can. In order to break the ice, I like to get them on the phone, hear their voices, and let them hear mine.  This way we know we are real people, not just words in an email so that the project becomes as real as possible and we all have a stake in it.

 

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Really my biggest obstacles are time and daily life.  I don’t have a lot of time to create, and the daily routine of life threatens to derail the creative endeavors.  It’s tough just to have one job, but I have several jobs at one time.  So once everyone goes to sleep, it’s really morning for me again.  I grab a cup of coffee, play something in the background, and hit the computer or drawing board or whatever to get things moving.

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love the indie comics community! It’s filled with some of the most talented people I have ever met.  They are some of the bravest people I have met as well.  They have chosen to deviate from mainstream comics to put out their own books and show the world their artistic soul.  That takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that.  There is no hiding behind known characters or big companies.

 

What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

I would say (1) make sure it’s your passion and you love it, and (2) make sure that you have a plan for financial return, or if you don’t, you’re ok with that.  Comics can be a lot of fun, but they can also be tough.

 

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

Not really, I think my go to will always be superheroes, but I have done fantasy, sci-fi, new age, etc..

 

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

Listen with open ears and an open heart to critics, but don’t let their words discourage you from working in comics.  Don’t let the person reviewing your work destroy your soul.  If they are good at what they do, they will enlighten and encourage you to keep going. Also, learn when to walk away from things and start fresh instead of beating dead horses.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I am working on a couple of projects through my comic company 10 Worlds Studio, one superhero, and one paranormal, but nothing to announce just yet.  I did letter a comic series that was picked up by Heavy Metal called Mark of Kings, so I am excited about that for sure.  I also love Lord of the Rings, and I am a huge fan of Golden Age comics characters.

 

Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

You can visit my Instagram page at alexanderlugo_10ws or my website, www.alexlugoart.com.

***

Alex Lugo is a first-generation Cuban-American artist hailing from Portland, Or, growing up in Inglewood, CA, and now residing in the outer reaches of Los Angeles County. He has worked in the fields of comics, storyboards, and design.  After reading All Star Comics 58 in a Portland barbershop, he was pretty much hooked on comic books and continues to work on them, and dream about them to this day.  Besides working on comics, Alex loves spending time with his family, traveling, studying the paranormal, and watching films with his son.  His work has been featured on TV, films, comics, and other mediums.

***

I want to thank Alex Lugo for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. And don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter!

 

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – COVID Through the Eyes of a Cat

I’m feeling a little melancholy over Westley tonight and as I was going through older blogs, I came across this one written in the early days of the pandemic (and it made me smile a little bit), so I thought this might be a nice one to share again after now a little over 3 months without one of my cats.

***

I wonder if my cats think that I’ve lost my wits (and writing the following blog only cements that idea).

Over the weekend, we visited with the in-laws and my step-father in-law mentioned that our cats didn’t like him. I replied, they slept with you while you napped in the chair! He shook this statement off, so I ended it with “Well, they like us!”

Overall, though, both Westley and Inigo are very friendly cats. Now over ten years old, they are the type who will initially hide when guests come over but shortly thereafter are in the middle of the room demanding some level of attention from the trespassers.

When it comes to my wife and me, it goes to another level. Most nights when I sit at the computer I am offered company by one of them. Sometimes they tag team, allowing a brief respite from entertaining the big guy for a little while. My wife has worked from home for over two years now, so I think they’ve gotten used to her being here. Typically they hang out upstairs (where her desk sits) trying to find a sunbeam in one of the bedrooms.

During this pandemic, I’m now home pretty much all the time. And on top of this fact, I don’t bore very easily. My problem has always been that there is never enough time to do everything I’d like to do. I want to write and read and play games and watch movies and tv and have time with the wife and… so being at home isn’t the prison sentence more extroverted people are dealing with.

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

But the cats clearly don’t know what to do because I’m here all the time. I’ve been working from home for two months now, and the pair of them have adapted to my being home treating it as a now foregone conclusion that I am always home with them. The old world is shattered and this new one is all there is/was/ever will be. If I leave to go outside for a walk I am scolded by Westley upon my return. A series of meows which signify “How dare you leave this house!?! I did not give you permission for such things!” Days meld together so that every day must be the weekend in their eyes.

I can only imagine that they think I am just changing the time from when I normally sit at the desk from night-time to literally all day. I wonder if they wonder whether I still have a day job. Will there still be food in their bowl in the morning? Is he ever going to get up and give me more treats? Can’t he see I’ve been good all day? Heck, he’s been here all day!

Yet, even after spending all that time during the day, I’m sitting here typing up this blog, and Westley is resting on the desk beside me. Inigo visited me a little while ago before going into the bedroom with my wife and curling up on the bed.

Now I can only imagine what they’ll think when it is time for me to go back into the office on a regular basis.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Everyday – Part 10

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 is here.

 

January 30

 

And when you turned to me and smiled,

It took my breath away

And I have never had such a feeling

Such a feeling of complete and utter love,

As I do tonight.

Chris de Burgh, Lady in Red

February 28

 

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.

Plato

March 31

There is greatness in doing something you hate for the sake of someone you love.

Shmuley Boteach

 

April 30

 

When you trip over love, it is easy to get up. But when you fall in love, it is impossible to stand again.

Albert Einstein

 

 

May 29

 

You will always be my greatest adventure…

Up

June 30

 

You’re my best friend because I wouldn’t dare to be this weird with anyone else.

Anonymous

 

 

July 31

 

When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.

Maya Angelou

 

August 31

 

Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

September 1

 

Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.

Juno

 

 

October 15

 

If I had to choose between loving you and breathing. I would use my last breath to say I love you.

Anonymous

November 30

 

To get the full value of joy

You must have someone to divide it with.

Mark Twain

 

 

December 6

 

We’re all a little weird and, life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

Dr. Seuss

 

***

Hug your loves, hold on tight, this crazy world is always trying to throw you off.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 5

You work long enough, you’re going to have weird interactions with your jobs, your fellow co-workers, or just strange days that you might not always be able to explain. I’ve written about a handful of my own here, here, here. and here but a couple of others have invaded my brain recently.

Not Charlotte’s Web

During the course of most of my days, you can find me at my desk deciding the fate of everyone who has ever taken I-285 and wondered why all the exits are closed (or at least that’s what I tell people I do). So my interaction with any kind of wildlife is pretty limited to birds or squirrels that I might see on my drive to work. Occasionally we might have a safety moment where they talk about the snakes you might encounter in the field. Now, I wouldn’t say I ever completely tune that stuff out, but maybe I don’t give it my full attention (as again, it doesn’t affect me).

However, there was an evening when the wildlife decided to take a stroll within the office walls. I think a couple of us were working a little late, and I was close to being done for the night, but probably had another half-hour or so to go. That’s when I spotted it.

A rather large spider had come into my cubicle. Now, I’m pretty sure there is some kind of deal that this spider was violating by being there, but I was more taken by the size of the damn thing. Let’s just say that it was the type of thing that couldn’t be allowed to live. It was very much a me or it type of scenario. Even James stopped by and let out a “damn, that’s a big spider.” I took my shoe (which I had taken off to try to be as comfortable as I could while still working) and effectively threw/slammed it down on the spider.

It didn’t kill it.

In fact, the damn thing decided that it was going to start coming after me. James and I evacuated the area as fast as we could. If it wanted to be the owner of the cubicle, I’d just have to start looking for a new job…

Home Movies

I started dating my now wife in high school, which meant that she had to take many a barb thrown at her by my friends. Most were good-natured, but one was irrefutable. Whenever Courtney and her friend Robin ran into each other, whether it was at school or the mall, they would start talking to each other. Their voices would begin to get a little higher pitched and faster as the conversation continued, until it reached a crescendo where we were convinced they were no longer speaking any human language, but were, in fact, speaking Dolphin. It was a true transformation, and I only wish that Atlanta would have had its aquarium back then. Who knows what scientific achievements might have been unlocked.

However, I’d never seen (or heard) such things since those days… until I hit my career years.

There were two ladies in the office that, while they didn’t get to a dolphin level pitch, their banter reminded me of something I’d heard before. That excitement in their voices seemed familiar and yet not. And then I was up late one night, watching Adult Swim, when a little show called Home Movies came on, and two of the characters began talking in the same excited tones. It was nearly identical.

So they forever became Walter and Perry in my mind for the rest of my time with the company (and if you’ve never seen Home Movies, you can find all the episodes on HBO Max, check it out… I miss that show).

 

Second and Third and Fourth Opinions

In a previous blog, I mentioned a co-worker we nicknamed Floody due to his inability to find long enough pants. However, there were other things he did that baffled some of my friends. Their all-time favorite was when he would call you over to ask you an engineering problem. This sort of thing certainly happens all the time. You need a second set of eyes on something, or you just never have encountered the problem before, or whatever your reason. Now, when you do this, if the person you are asking doesn’t completely seem to know or maybe stammers their way through the answer, I think you are well in your rights to seek out someone else to make sure you are on the right path.

That said, if the person isn’t hedging their bets, but instead walk you through the reasoning why they designed a similar situation a certain way, you’d do well to not only listen, but to take that to heart. And even if you aren’t 100% sold, you should definitely not go immediately to another engineer, in front of the first person, and ask them the exact same question.

Might be a little demeaning.

And the thing was, Floody did this constantly, to the point that it made you not want to engage with his questions in the first place… or maybe only give him a short answer so that you can move on and he can go to a source he trusted more than you.

I believe James even told him one time, “Hey, why are you asking me, when you are just going to go ask Carl as soon as I get done telling you the answer.”

Why indeed.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 4

You work long enough, you’re going to have weird interactions with your jobs, your fellow co-workers, or just strange days that you might not always be able to explain. I’ve written about a handful of my own here, here, and here but a couple of others have invaded my brain recently.

This Man Is Losing His Mind!

As you get older in whatever industry you have chosen, eventually the company will start to hire people that are not only younger than you are, but they may be a completely different generation than you are. What’s weird is I’m not even sure exactly when it happens, but one day you look up and realize everyone is at least a decade (if not more) than you are. And it is definitely a situation that you have to wrap your brain around. However, one of my co-workers didn’t quite seem able to do that.

It started innocently enough where Thomas (who I believe is in his early 30s) begins chatting with our summer intern. I’m not sure what question Thomas asked that sent him into a spiral, but I’d like to think it was about a movie. The Intern stared at him with no recognition in his eyes. Thomas couldn’t understand how there might be someone who had not only not seen Movie X, but also didn’t know what it was at all. As we were heading to lunch, Thomas began peppering him with more questions.

This went on for the entire drive to the restaurant… then through lunch… then on the way back, and I’m not convinced Thomas did any work the rest of the afternoon. The questions only stopped long enough for Thomas to exclaim one of the following phrases:

“How young are you?”

“How do you not know X thing?”

“What is going on?”

Shaken to his core… I’m not sure if Thomas ever recovered.

Don’t Worry, I Have A Connection

We all know that guy or gal who has access to the stuff we might enjoy in the privacy of our own home. You know the type of thing I’m talking about, it’s been compared to the mana of the gods many times in my household, and everyone I know prefers it to many other… things. So what happens when your source dries up, and you are suddenly lost in a world.

Where are you going to get your Mountain Dew Live Wire?

Now, for those of you who don’t know what Live Wire is, Mountain Dew came out with a flavor of their soda that was orange flavored. My brother introduced it to me while we were on a beach vacation, and sometimes I wish the sweet nectar had never passed my lips. It was everything good about Mountain Dew, only better.

There was a problem though. I live in Georgia, and for whatever reason, Pepsi has decided not to distribute the greatest drink of all time in my state. So the only time I could get it was when we traveled to the Carolinas or were in Florida. I’d buy out the gas station of their 20 oz. bottles to stock up for the next couple of months. But, inevitably, I’d run out again and need my fix.

Then Gary started working with me. I’m not sure why, but he had taken a job in Atlanta, but actually lived near the Georgia/Tennessee border. So he made the commute every day. And somehow we began talking about soda. I mentioned Live Wire and the frustration of not having it in Georgia. Gary nodded, and eventually, we went back to work.

A few days later Gary comes up to me and tells me he has something in his trunk for me. Kinda odd, but I’m a curious sort. But when he opened it up there were about 10 2-liter bottles of Live Wire waiting for me. For the next few months, he became my source, carrying the precious stuff across state lines.

It was kind of a Smokey and the Bandit situation. “They’re thirsty in Atlanta, and there is Live Wire in Tennessee.” OK, maybe it doesn’t match up exactly.

Every Damn Day

I’ve always struggled with my weight (like so many people). I’m waiting for that Easy button to come along and solve all my problems. But years ago, I decided to give this diet thing a go in the form of Atkins. For those not aware of this diet, it basically is a low carb, high fat style of diet. Now, I don’t claim much in the way of my Irish heritage (I don’t drink), but I do love potatoes in pretty much any form, so this style of eating was going to be a huge adjustment. Bread, beans, and all the good stuff I liked were a no-go.

However, I found out that one of the foods which were on the list was pork rinds. This was great because I loved pork rinds. They would be my replacement for chips. It was perfect.

On that first day, my buddy James saw me eating chicken salad with pork rinds (acting as crackers). I smiled and said, “I get to eat pork rinds every day!”

Flash forward about six weeks later. I’ve lost some weight but eating the same things every day was beginning to wear on me. I started not looking forward to my lunches as much. And James stopped by, “So, how’re are the pork rinds going?”

I looked at the bag, then back at him. “I get to eat pork rinds every day… every… damn… day.”

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Twelve Angry Men or Maybe It’s Jury Time Again

One of my co-workers mentioned that he was going to have to report for Jury Duty this week, and that realization prompted another of my co-workers to tell him that all he needed to do to ensure that he wouldn’t have to serve was to say he was an engineer. Apparently, by saying such a simple thing, the lawyers don’t want you to be on their juries and you can hopefully only have to deal with a half-a-day of jury duty and not have to return to work (not that anyone has ever done that before… never).

However, I know that doesn’t work as I’ve served on two juries during my life. One was while I was still in college. Technically, you can ask for a waiver to get out of doing it if you are in school, but for some reason that probably would make less sense now than it would have back in the 90s, I was told I couldn’t get out of it. So I sat in a civil trial where one vehicle had impacted another one. The person at fault was probably in his mid-30s, a businessman of some sort while the victim was a late teenage kid. We listened to the arguments, deliberated, tried to ask a question about something, and were told by the judge that “we had all the information we required already” (which felt like an odd thing to say). In the end, we awarded some money to the kid which I know was less than a grand. I’m positive his side was not happy with such a small amount.

I learned that when you were on the jury, everyone took it very seriously. I mean, you see it on television and in the movies where there are people who just want to be anywhere other than that room. They have someplace to be and this process has gone on for far too long. But that wasn’t the case during this one. We also avoided any real arguments. I guess you might say that the process was rather… boring.

And boring isn’t really very exciting to put up on the big screen.

Which actually increased my faith in the system.

The second time was when I was an engineer (so much for that story), maybe a decade ago. It was a criminal case where the cops tracked the suspect back to his house where he and two others were arrested. The trio had been caught breaking into cars in a Wal-Mart parking lot by their security cameras. The other two had already been found guilty in other trials, so our Defendant was finally getting his day in court. Again, we deliberated. We watched the footage multiple times. There we no arguments here, but the words “Innocent until proven guilty” truly weighed on each of our minds.

You see, the thing that our guy had going for him that his two friends didn’t was he was wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. His friends wore a Raiders jersey and the other wore some kind of graphic tee. Even though the somewhat grainy security footage, those two were easy to pick out, but our Defendant… you couldn’t tell if it was him. In fact, it was very possible that they could have arrested someone who happened to be at the wrong party at the wrong time.

So we said “Not Guilty” even while acknowledging that it was very likely he did, in fact, commit the crime. As we were dismissed, the Prosecution’s lawyers (county’s lawyers?) were waiting at the bottom of the escalators to see if any of us would share our thoughts with them. It was at this point they told us that the Defendant had been arrested on similar charges twice in the past.

“Would that knowledge have made any difference in your verdict?”

All of us answered yes.

When I got home, my wife wanted to know what happened, what the case was about, and any of the details I could provide her.

The only thing I could think of was, “Well, we let the bad guy go free. Yea, Justice!”

But really, I learned that if you are going to be caught doing something very illegal, make sure to wear very plain clothes and not the jersey of your favorite sports team… that’s probably going to make it way too easy for a jury to convict you.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Eight Years and Counting

 

Where last week I took a second to look at my writing releases and set goals for this upcoming year, I also like to take a minute to take a look back that this thing I do on a weekly basis and highlight those blogs that I’m particularly proud of, or maybe had a big impact on me, or just ones that I like that I think should get a second look (or a first look in many cases).

Love’s Labour’s Liabilities – Postscript

I always like learning about how other people’s Kickstarters have gone. Normally you can glean one or two things that they did that either you can “steal” for your next campaign or avoid. Sometimes you can get a better idea of why they made the decisions they made.

That’s what this blog post was all about, looking at our second RPG Zine’s Kickstarter and talking about why we made the decisions we made, and whether they may or may not be the best decisions (and what we might do in the future).

A Love Renewed?

I love Spider-Man. I grew up on the character. I have hundreds (if not thousands) of comics where he is featured. I’ve read through the good (great) stories and some of the worst and continued with my guy.

And then one day, I had to stop.

And then, many, many years later, I read Spider-Man again (only it wasn’t Peter Parker… and it wasn’t Miles Morales).

Karnivool, My Pandemic Band

With the world gone mad, I turned to music to help get me through the rough times. That same music will keep me company late into the nights where I’m writing. Sometimes you can find a band that just speaks to you in a way that you hadn’t felt in a long time. Their songs become a part of you so quickly that before you realize it, you’ve listened to their albums multiple times over the course of a day… every day of the week.

Westley

All my life I’ve found connections with my pets, each of them special in their own way. But this last November, my little cat passed over the Rainbow Bridge, and I had to write down everything I could about him so that in the years to come, if I’ve let some little piece of our history slip into the recesses of my mind, this post will pull it all back.

As I say at the beginning of the piece, “I want to remember it all. I need to remember it all.”

 

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Turn the Page on 2021

The problem with this writing gig is that almost all of it happens behind the scenes. It becomes a topic of conversation from time to time:

“What are you currently working on?”

Yet, it’s not always one or two or three things, but a bunch of projects that you might be trying to take across the finish line. Each of them at various stages of completion. Some are maybe very close to the end and others feel like they are never going to get out there at all. It can be frustrating to not have things come out, to not have a release of anything that you can point at, and have that physical thing to point back to in order to show everyone that you’re actually working on “things”.

This last year follows 2020 where I had a handful of releases and in comparison, it looks quite… non-existent. Then again, going through my year, I had completely forgotten about a couple of these, so maybe I was more productive than I thought?

Love’s Labour’s Liabilities

So after the pain and suffering of putting out a RPG Zine, somehow Egg convinced Lee and me to give it another try with all the things we’d learned on the first one. The biggest of those was to have the whole thing completed before the Kickstarter ever started. It was nice to have something that could be not only put out into the world immediately after the campaign ended, but it also acted as a bit of a make-good for those people who had supported our first Zine’s Kickstarter and had to wait over a year for it to be finished (we gave those original backers a free PDF copy of the new Zine).

I wrote a Postscript about the Zine here.

 

M.S. Wordsmith Interview

It’s always an honor to have someone actually want to interview me about the writing I do. I had the opportunity to talk a little bit with the good folks over at M.S. Wordsmith back in March.

You can find the interview here.

 

Blog Posts

Unlike 2020 where I broke my continuous blog streak (on accident), I managed to get a blog out every week. One of the things I have been doing (probably once a month or so) is to repost some of the older blogs from the first couple of years of writing on Tessera. The first benefit is to have content on those weeks where maybe I’m not entirely sure what I should be blogging about. The second benefit is that I’m able to shed a light on some of those writings that I really liked and many people have never seen.

 

Not a lot of things going out there into the world. But that’s partially because of the whole “behind the scenes” stuff I mentioned above.

 

Looking Forward

 

As we are just into 2022, my goals are all in front of me…

In Our Dreams Awake

I journey back into the realm of comics with a story I co-created with Egg Embry that has sought to see the light of day for over a decade. We’re putting the final touches on the book and the Kickstarter page in the hopes of launching the first issue toward the end of this month.

 

S.O.U.L. Mate

A novel I’ve been working on for far too long. I spent much of the last year finishing up the first draft, editing, and then realizing I needed about 5 additional chapters to help flesh out characters, plot points, etc. I’m nearly there and believe (maybe naively) that I can have this one finished up and released later this year.

 

Short Stories

A recommitment to try and find a home for a few of my shorts. I’m going to redouble my efforts to submit them, while also finishing up a few others that I’ve been working on over this last year. My hope would be that a couple do see the light of day this year.

 

The Untold Series

The one thing I’ve really done wrong from a writing point of view (ok, not the only thing) is that I don’t have any series. I have 2 standalone and even S.O.U.L. Mate is a standalone (so I don’t learn no matter how much I say I will). However, I’ve been working on a series, and I have big plans for it. I have 2 full novels written, with the hopes of 4 more (not this year) and a series of 12 novellas to also expand the world(s) I’m creating. I don’t think I’ll be releasing anything from this series this year, but I hope to set myself up for multiple releases next year.

 

***

Some years I have a ton of stuff to focus on and other years it is a bit more streamlined, but I know if I keep at it, good things are coming.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Let Me Sleep, It’s Christmas Time

I find myself listening to A Perfect Circle at some way too late part of the night (morning) staring at a blank screen. Maynard can’t help me out here, though. The icon flashes at me, mocking me with my lack of inspiration.

This is a problem.

That 5 weeks or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a tidal wave of events and responsibilities. It is the slowest and fastest month of the year. I feel like at times everything blurs together and before you know it I am in the car traveling to family (which is obviously great, but they don’t live very close…). Then I blink again and it is all over. I’ve somehow made it through another December of crazy to that magically week where I’m lucky enough to take off from the day job in order to reorient myself a little bit before we get to do it all again with the new year.

During this month, my wife stretches herself even thinner than I do (heck more than many people I know). She is a machine when it comes to giving her time to others, but also just in the day-to-day things that normally come up, she’s always got everything planned out. But the calendar begins to fill up with each new event. And it begins to stress her out. How can she fit this friend in or that obligation into the month where apparently EVERYTHING happens. To reduce that stress, products like CBD Oil can come really handy.

Her being stressed out stresses me out, but…

She was talking to someone over the course of the month and said something that nearly made me choke on whatever I might have been drinking at the time. She said something to the effect that she loved this time of the year because of the whirlwind of activities. That seeing all these friends and coworkers made it great. And even the other obligations didn’t dissuade her of those thoughts.

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

I could scarcely believe that this was the same woman speaking these words into existence. And while I gave her a ton of grief over those statements, I sometimes forget that just because we all might be stressed out doesn’t mean we aren’t having a good time. She is definitely more extroverted than me, so she needs that activity, whereas I would be happy with just a non-stop series of “Bed to Couch” days.

This brings me to this week. I have to make sure to enjoy the week, the calm moments. I’ve been adding things to the To-Do list for the past six weeks (“oh, I’ll handle that during the week between Christmas and New Year). If I’m not careful, it will all begin to blur as well, and I’ll get the not so much fun version of Time Travel to the future where I’m sitting at my desk at work again on January 3, 2022, wondering where all the free time went.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

A Love For Everyday – 8

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

 

January 4

 

One frequently only finds out how really beautiful a woman is, until after considerable acquaintance with her.

Mark Twain

 

February 7

 

If I could have just one wish,

I would wish to wake up everyday

To the sound of your breath on my neck,

The warmth of your lips on my cheek,

The touch of your fingers on my skin,

And the feel of your heart beating with mine…

Knowing that I could never find that feeling

With anyone other than you.

Courtney Kutchta, If I Could Have One Wish

 

March 2

Never look for a good face,

It will turn old one day.

Never look for a good skin,

It will wrinkle one day.

Never look for a hot body,

It will change one day.

Never look for nice hair,

It will turn white one day.

Instead, look for a loyal heart that will love you everyday.

Anonymous

 

April 7

 

I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 

 

May 24

 

You are my best friend, my human diary, and my other half. You mean the world to me and I love you.

Anonymous

 

June 13

 

Sometimes I think I made him up. Like I reached through the ether, through the haze, and tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Hey. Please, come wake me up.”

Dakota Skye

 

 

July 6

 

I wish I was a radio song, the one that you turned up

Pearl Jam, Wishlist

 

August 5

 

Know that love is truly timeless.

Mary M. Ricksen

September 2

 

A kiss blown

Is a kiss wasted,

The only real kiss,

Is a kiss tasted.

Anonymous

 

 

October 4

 

The luckiest man in the world is he who finds true love.

Dracula

 

November 28

 

And suddenly all the love songs were about you.

Anonymous

 

 

December 16

 

My heart is, and always will be, yours.

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

 

 

 

 

 

Westley

Westley at age 8. Sitting at the window.

I want to remember it all. I need to remember it all.

I told him in some of our many quiet moments that when he passed over it would break me. It wasn’t a glib comment. It wasn’t trying to make it seem like our bond was more than what it was. It was simply the truth.

Today… I’m broken. Fractured in a way that I can barely comprehend. It washes over me in waves where I’m fine, and then suddenly I’m wailing because a moment has hit me where he was normally with me. I reread what I’ve written here and break down repeatedly.

So I need to share his story. I need everyone to know who he was and what he meant to us.

I’ve said it to multiple people but he was my cat for 12 years, and it wasn’t enough time. I know that when we lost our first cat Cleo, we only had 8 years with her, and I felt cheated. I heard about other people having 10 or 12 or 15 years with their pets, and I was jealous. But I understand that it is never enough time.

It’s crazy that these little furry critters can make such an impact on our hearts and our lives. It shouldn’t be possible. When Cleo passed away, the house was too quiet. For those next 3 or 4 days, my wife and I couldn’t be in different rooms from each other. It was just too much to deal with. We’d follow each other from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen and back again. Just being in some connection with each other made it a tiny bit more bearable.

Our house wasn’t a home without her.

Westley and Inigo in their white blanket. 7 weeks old.

It was a week or so when we got the boys (Westley and Inigo). I wasn’t even sure that enough time had passed to honor Cleo, but it was an adoption day so we said what I’m sure so many people have said in the past: “We’ll just go to look.” Inigo sold it for the two of them in the little kitten audition (Westley was too busy napping). After having a girl cat for 8 years we were opening our home to two orange little boys named Goblet and Cauldron who quickly became Inigo and Westley (named after the characters from The Princess Bride). We brought them home…

And they healed our hearts.

They showed us a level of love from the very beginning that I didn’t know was entirely possible. And Westley bonded with me almost immediately. He would lay next to me on the couch or climb onto my shoulders or snuggle in my arm at night (after giving my nose a few licks).

I told him and anyone who asked about him that I don’t know if a cat has ever loved me as much as he did. Every day he always wanted to be with me. He’d curl up in my arms while I was writing at the computer. So many words from my novels are the result of the two of us working late nights.

Me, Westley, and Inigo. The boys are about 1 year old.

He was a leaper. While Inigo is more of a low to the ground cat, Westley loved to get as high as he could in the house, jumping from countertop to the top of the refrigerator and to the tops of our Chester Drawers. Even as he got older and wasn’t always sure he still could make a jump up to a table, I’d say to him “I believe in you.” and he’d try one more time and make it.

When he drank from his water bowl (or pretty much anytime he drank from anything) he’d shake one front paw and then another as if he’d gotten them wet (he hadn’t). The first time I noticed it, I laughed out loud.

Early on though, he had a big problem with his not wanting to always use a litter box. We tried everything, even hiring a Cat Behavrioist in order to try and fix the problem. We added about 7 litter boxes to the house. We replaced the floors in the house (partially due to him and partially due to wanting new floors). We scolded him. Yelled.

I’d tell him that if we could just fix his peeing problem he’d be the perfect cat.

And then my wife figured out that she could praise him when he used the litter box. Bribe him with treats. And it worked like a charm. He would even wait until one of us was near a litter box before actually doing his business, to make sure we saw. And he even would attempt a fake-out from time to time, walk into the box and then immediately get out – to which we told him that wasn’t going to work!

Courtney and Westley in his first snow.

But he was always my perfect cat no matter what.

We had conversations over the years with me asking him how his day went and him telling me all about the birds and squirrels he watched from the windows. I remember my dad being in town one day and watching the two of us go back and forth. He looked at me and said “You two really did just have a full conversation, didn’t you.” But that was how it would always go.

He and his brother fought once in a while, but mostly they loved each other. We’ve begun to go through our pictures (something else I love my wife for doing over the years because I’m terrible about remembering to do it), and there are so many pictures where the two of them are curled up together in a blanket or on the bed. Or laying on either my wife or myself. We even have a short video where Inigo is holding Westley down because he needed to clean his head (earning the common joke/question in our house of “Why is his head so dirty?”).

As the years passed, he started climbing directly into my arms while we watched tv, activating his purring immediately, and then burying his head into my shoulder as he slept. Those moments I treasured each and every time it happened.

Westley curled up in my arms while Inigo looks on.

He loved to give out love nips, which sometimes hurt enough that we had to scold him. Courtney finally settled on telling him “Be sweet… you know be sweet” when the impending bite was coming, and he took that to heart would halt his attack. At least for a second or two.

He groomed me. I’d never had a cat do that, but he’d wait until I got out of the shower and then with my hair still wet he’d lick the water from my hair. Sometimes he’d even use his paws to “hold” my head in place while he did it. I joked that he was going to lick me bald (luckily that joke didn’t come true).

Whenever I went to the restroom, no matter where he was in the house, he’d come running and paw at the door until I let him in. Sometimes he’d just take a look at me and then leave as if to say “I’m just checking on you, Dad.” Other times he’d hang out and want head rubs. However, I had to be careful because if I wasn’t paying attention he would go for a love nip on the side of my butt.

We did what my mom called “shotgunning” where I’d open my mouth wide to breathe and he’d nearly stick his whole nose in there to get a whiff. I don’t even know when that started, but it was a fixture between us until his very last week.

He loved milk… which I realize isn’t strange for a cat, but I swear, he could be upstairs, asleep, and if I fixed myself a glass, he was suddenly in the kitchen meowing at me. It was magic.

He loved to be brushed as he reached adulthood. It was something I tried one day, not knowing if he’d like it and he nearly fell off the desk, he was so into it. I could even bribe him with just the idea of the brush. I’d bring it out and he’d immediately come running. The purr would be so loud that anyone on a conference call could likely hear it.

Westley helping with the Gilded Age Kickstarter fulfillment.

He even roleplayed with me. My group plays online most Saturday nights, and while he might make an appearance on camera (when I used one), mostly he’d voice his opinion on how the game was progressing (which I’d like to think the other players appreciated his feedback). Some nights he’d purr loud enough for them to hear through the microphone.

He loved to lay on my wife’s laptop while she worked. It would be sitting in the docking station closed, while she did her day job or any of her charitable activities. Though, we both believe that he might have caused one of the laptops to overheat doing this.

He loved to be warm. Whether it was sitting behind the TV on the DirecTV box or in the garage during the summer or just upstairs during the winter months (our upstairs is about 5 degrees warmer than the downstairs).

He would sometimes wait for us to come home by sitting at the front windows. I’d start walking toward the door and see that little face waiting for me, and I’d grin. No matter how bad a day I might be having, at that moment he was able to wash it all away.

I’m thankful that my wife has been able to work at home over the last four to five years. It meant that she could spend time with the cats all day, every day. She would tell Westley all about her frustrations and triumphs. Then, over the last year, while we were all dealing with Covid, I was blessed with the ability to work from home. This meant that my time with both of the little boys was nearly 24 hours a day. Some afternoons I would take a little break and Westley would come and lay on my chest while I lay on the bed. I’d rub him and feel the purring through my whole body.

My snuggle buddy.

He was never afraid… I don’t know how that was possible, but it is true. He was our greeter when people came over to the house. Where Inigo was a bit of a fraidy cat, Westley would come right up to the guest and check them out, sometimes talking to them immediately and sometimes just wanting some rubs.

As time went on, he had some medical issues. He had kidney stones at one point that required vet visits and eventually had us switch the boys’ food to science diet in order to ensure it didn’t happen again. Later he developed pancreatitis, which made him not want to eat. But we had the medicine on hand for it and had it down to a science to get him back to normal.

In fact, this last week, that’s what we thought we were dealing with again. And where his personality would dip during those first days, it came back on day 4 and the morning of day 5 – which normally meant we were on the mend. I spent Tuesday night with him upstairs (where he liked to be when he didn’t feel well), and rubbed and talked to him about how he needed to get better and start eating again. I told him we had more adventures to go on. I told him I loved him and that he was a good boy and that he was my best friend.

I didn’t know it, but I was telling him goodbye.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. At some point after we came home from a bite to eat, his breathing had changed to extremely fast… too fast. We got worried and called our vet who Facetimed with us. She said we should take him to the 24-hour vet.

That’s when the fear really crept in. I told him again I loved him, and that he needed to fight this. But I also pulled him close and said “I know I’m being selfish, so if you can’t fight anymore, if you need to rest, it’s going to be ok. We love you.”

Those are really the last words I got to say to him. He stayed overnight at the 24-hour vet and then my wife transferred him to our vet that next morning with the idea that they’d figure out the breathing problem and we’d have a game plan on how to get him healthy again.

Westley in mid-yawn.

But his little body couldn’t take it. He had fought to be with us for as long as he could, but he couldn’t do anymore. He started having seizures and they had to perform CPR on him. And finally, Dr. Carson, who we had told her if she needed to make a decision for him before we got there that we trusted her to do what was best for our friend, she had to make the ultimate choice to spare him from the pain he was surely going through.

I regret that we weren’t there with him with he passed over. I’m sure he was scared, and I’d vowed that if I could, I’d be there for my animals no matter how painful. So I’m incredibly sorry that we couldn’t hold him in those final moments.

But I also don’t know that I could have made the decision to put him down very easily because of what I’m going through right now. Which would have been extremely selfish on my part.

I think he knew that, so his last act of kindness was to spare us from that choice by passing on.

Like I said, he was always so brave. I wish I could be more like him in that.

I know I’m forgetting things that I need to put down somewhere because it isn’t enough. None of this is enough to convey the bond I had with my friend.

I’m someone who loves with my whole heart. Which I believe is a good thing most of the time. When I’m with you, I’m all in. I believe that means my people know they can’t count on me when the bad times come. But it also comes at a price. Which means I don’t know how to harden my heart at all. Which means I can’t protect myself at all.

Westley found a hangout spot ontop of the refrigerator, in a water bottle box.

I’m raw and exposed right now.

That’s what I’m dealing with right now, the pit in my heart is there and I don’t have a way to combat it at all.

I also know that when I see others who have suffered the loss of a pet, I want to reach out and say something, but I’m not sure I do a great job with that. I want to hug them and let them cry as much as they want and try to just be there for them. I wish I knew the words to say, but there really aren’t words for that kind of loss.

To know the level of unconditional love from a pet is amazing, but to have one like Westley was a true gift that I know could never be replaced. He was my companion. My Partner in Crime. My late-night buddy. And the best friend a man could ever ask for. I consider myself lucky that he chose me for his human.

In these days since his passing, my wife and I and Inigo are pretty much inseparable. We lean on each other for support, and I cannot explain how much I appreciate my wife in all of this. She is the one person who gets me utterly and completely and shares my pain in a way that only can strengthen our bond.

For Inigo, he is doing his best to take care of his two humans. He is either sleeping with one of us or during the day hours, is normally nearby for scratches and rubs, or to lay against one of us trying to make us feel better. It saddens me to think about what he may or may not understand about the change which has occurred. He was with his brother technically longer than any one else (we got them when they were 6 weeks old) and he’s never known being an only cat. But he is also a very, very good boy, and I know that he will do everything he can to help us get through this tough time.

Westley and Inigo taking care of each other in an office chair (or maybe trying to claim the whole chair).

***

If you have a pet, go and hug them and shower them with kisses. Tell them that you love them and that they are a good boy or good girl. For Westley and all the other pets who have touched our lives and made the days and night fuller than they were before they came into being. Hug them tight and cherish your moments with them because there are never enough.

***

I’ve written just over 3000 words, and it has been the easiest and hardest writing I’ve ever done because it is easy to write about someone you loved with your entire soul. But it is hard because I know I need to do this to help heal just a little bit, and I know I’m leaving moments out. There also is a bit of finality to this writing, as if by finishing this post, I’m ready to accept things.

But I don’t want to accept any of it. I want my friend back. I want more time. I want more memories.

So I want to end it this the same way that I ended my post on Facebook because it sums up my little boy and my feelings for him.

In our quiet moments, I shared my hopes and dreams and fears. He never judged, but instead stayed with me and listened to his Human with a soft purr to let me know he was listening. I made sure to tell him over and over, through the years, that I loved him and that he was a good boy.

In fact, he was the best boy.

I’m going to miss you, buddy. I know Cleo and Fi are welcoming you across the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again, I love you, Westley.

Me with my boys.

***

Westley McGuire was the greatest little buddy I could have ever asked for. He helped make the long nights of writing not quite so lonely. I will forever be grateful to have had him as my pet and me as his human.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: He’ll See Me On The Flipside

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 won.

Office-pink-erasers

****

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.

time_travel

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.

Thru-Truss-Bridge-drawing

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.”

“Read it.”

On a Pale Horse

****

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.”

“Write it.”

****

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.

It’s a new world.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The Van Gogh Experience

Van Gogh – Stary Night Over The Rhone

This past weekend my wife and I headed out to Atlanta to see the Van Hogh Immersive Experience. Prior to going, I could say that I might have known a couple of his paintings (Stary Night obviously being the big one) and maybe knew two things about him (he died young and cut off his ear for some reason). So you could say this was definitely something we were both walking into a bit blind.

The first portion of the exhibit showed many of his paintings along with information about what inspiration he might have drawn from when he was painting. And while the paintings themselves varied from the more mundane subjects (bedrooms and flowers and the countryside), it was still an amazing accomplishment (a true feat of brilliance by one man). Here was someone who did the majority of his oil paintings and artwork in the final two years of his life. To have a creative output of that level is beyond my understanding, but I could definitely appreciate everything I saw and read about a man who seemed to be so troubled by his own brain that perhaps through his painting he was exorcising the demons within himself?

The main portion is in a very large room where his works are projected on all four walls and the floor. The move to music, telling a story of a man’s passion for capturing the beauty he saw within the world. The images move and flow, they warp and change from darkness to light, from self-portraits to a wheatfield where a murder of crows fly into the night. The music they chose to accompany it is remorseful at times before morphing to match the images we can see.

This is the Immersive Experience. To be able to live within his works, even if only for a little bit of time. To be able to peer inside his head in order to gain a small understanding of what he was trying to say to the rest of the world. Sitting there on the floor with my back against the wall, the rest of the world was only what Van Gogh chose to paint. Reality was a series of short and long brush strokes. Life was a collage of images drawn by someone who had no choice but to bear his soul on the canvas.

Van Gogh – Wheatfield with Crows

Finally, we had a VR experience where we could see the world around him for ourselves. They had a digital recreation with frames suspended in the air where the painting would take shape. The idea that perhaps, for a second, we might be able to see the beauty he saw in the world and understand why he was moved to paint it.

Yet, as we left the rooms and ventured back to our own reality, the thing that resonated with me the most wasn’t the paintings. Instead it was the various quotes they had from his numerous letters which struck home with me. He wrote so many letters where he bared his soul in a different way than he could do in his art. Those words hit me in a way I wouldn’t have expected. There was clarity to each thought.

Sometimes because it was a beautiful thought:

“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

“There is peace even in the storm.”

 

To tragic:

“I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.”

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.”

 

However, two stood out and really hit home. The first because I’ve recently begun to resurrect a project about Dreams so it felt as if Van Gogh was talking about it directly:

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

 

And the second because it is something that I need to remember whenever doubt enters into my mind, for it is a singular truth like no other:

Choose to push through the doubts, the adversity, the days when you don’t want to do anything, the days when you can’t do anything, the days where the blankness of the page is so intimidating that you nearly cry…

“… then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Silence the doubts.

***

To find out more about the Van Gogh Immersive Experience by going to their website.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Dead Don’t Die

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

I have a problem throwing things away. If I’m completely honest, it’s not that I don’t recognize that I don’t currently need “The Thing”, but it is more of the false idea that I will need it at some point. This means if I throw it out, I’m going to hate myself six months, six years, or six decades from now.

But these ideas take up valuable space in our home… in our lives.

I returned to the Office for the first time in 14 months this week. It was and is a surreal experience. I’m lucky that my job of designing roads meant I had the opportunity to work from home, and for that, I am very grateful. However, even if at first I wasn’t sure how or if it was going to work, I believe I not only did a good job day in and day out, I grew to appreciate the lack of “lost time”. You know the Lost time:

The commute. The running out for lunch. The needing to get up hours early so that you are in the office by a certain time. Staying later because a task has to get done.

I think I was nearly as efficient from home as I was the office, but sadly, all things must come to an end. Which brings me to my point: when I returned to the office I took a little bit of time to go through these pieces of paper that littered my office. Oh, they were filed away for the most part or placed in very organized stacks, but it occurred to me that it had been 14 months since I’d laid a finger on any of it. 14 months after I was convinced I needed to have that particular piece of paper for all time sitting on my bookshelf.

Pretty much an actual picture from my office desk.

I hadn’t needed any of it.

I thought hard about it, but at no time during this last year did I miss any of it. At no time was I sitting at my home setup thinking – “crap, I need to run by the office to grab that folder”. Everything I needed I brought with me, and those things I really needed were online anyway.

So, it makes me think that I’d convinced myself of a reality that didn’t really exist in any form. I mean, if I didn’t need that stuff, then what else might I have kept that I don’t need? I threw out a couple of armfuls of things and felt a little better, a little more organized at work. And now I’m starting to think about some items at the house and perhaps, maybe, I don’t need those items anymore either?

It doesn’t mean it isn’t a scary thought for me. It doesn’t mean that I’ll get down to the magical 10 items and live the no material possessions lifestyle. But it might mean that I can get rid of some of these scraps of paper and printouts and videotapes (VHS!) and…

Well, you get the picture.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reboot

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Normally I take the week between Christmas and New Years’ off and use it to recharge/reboot for the coming year. I take the time to figure out what my goals, both in life and from a writing perspective should be. Formulate a plan and then see how much of it I end up accomplishing. Some years are better than others, to be sure.

However, as this is being published, I will be elsewhere, enjoying my last few moments at a beach. Trying to summon the willpower to leave an island paradise to return again to the real world. I’m hopeful that this retreat will allow me to also have a nice reset on the year and be able to start the next quarter of the year as we make it into summer. I already updated the whiteboard behind me with a list of things that need to be looked at. I have prepared my spreadsheets for what pieces I want to focus on.

I have big plans, but those plans require hard work.

But for now, I’ll rest a little while longer.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love Renewed?

Many years ago I was betrayed by a comic storyline.

***

When I first started reading comics, Spider-Man was easily my favorite character. Of course, I’d watched his cartoon, could sing the theme song, but reading his monthly adventures connected me to the character in a real way. And much like any kind of entertainment that we absorb in our youth, it becomes “THE” best version of things. You hear it all the time no matter what the generation, they all believe that their music or their movies or their tv or their books or, yes, their comics were the best. That if things just had ended there, it would have been fine, because clearly, it was the pinnacle of the art form.

So, when I read Spider-Man it was literally only a few months later that he was married (to Mary Jane). This was around ’87 or ’88, so never mind that he’d been single for 25ish years up to that point. No, for me it was him and MJ against the world.

I actually laughed over the years at reading various articles about Superman and Lois. It seemed time and time again a new writer lamented that the two had married. That somehow they couldn’t tell the stories they wanted to tell because they were married. Which seemed ludicrous to me.

You see, in Superman’s case there had been 50+ years of him being single. Goofy stories, serious stories, stories where he contorted around a plot that Lois was about to figure out he was Superman… etc. But he’d only been married for less than 10 years and they were already out of ideas? How was that even possible?

But then I began hearing similar things about Spider-Man.

***

I read somewhere that as a writer of a comic (or probably anything you are a temporary custodian for), your job is to leave the “toy box” with more toys than when you got there. It means that you leave the story greater than when you found it.

***

The grumblings were always there. They even launched a whole storyline now referred to as The Clone Saga in an effort to have a single Spider-Man again.

It didn’t stick and eventually, we returned to Peter and MJ as a married couple.

***

Then came One More Day.

Setting aside the actual storyline, the end result was a comic book going forward where Spider-Man and Mary Jane weren’t married… heck, they weren’t together.

It didn’t make sense to me. You had 25 years to tell your single Spidey stories. And at that point, he’d been married as long as he’d been single. They were returning the character to a version from their youths by taking away the version from my youth.

***

I’m one of those people who never quits on a comic (or nearly so). I’ll suffer through some bad artwork and worse storylines for certain comics (Avengers and Flash come to mind). You read a comic and you’re in until they cancel the book. That’s how it works in my head. These characters are my characters.

I’m invested.

***

I stopped reading Spider-Man comics at that moment.

I didn’t go online and complain. I didn’t raise a fuss on some social networks (though I’m sure some of my friends were tired of me talking about it). I figured the only way for me to show my true disapproval was to stop buying the comic. They wouldn’t have my $10 every month.

Chad Shonk (of many articles on this site) told me that it wasn’t right, me not reading Spider-Man.

He wasn’t wrong.

***

Life moves along. The seasons change. More comics are printed and read.

And still, I didn’t buy the comic.

I’d get my fill of Spidey in his guest spots here and there, but I knew very little about what was going on in his book. Considering for 20 years, I’d had a subscription to at least one of his books, there was a true gap.

***

A couple of months ago I enrolled in Comixology Unlimited (think Netflix for comics and you’re pretty close). A couple of weeks ago I noticed one storyline was sitting there to be read: Superior Spider-Man. A story of Doctor Octopus switching bodies with Peter Parker and becoming a better version. The storyline lasted over 30 issues.

I think it took me only a couple of days to get through them.

And weirdly, because it wasn’t my Peter Parker, it allowed me to enjoy the book for what it was – a villain learning how to be a hero. You see, I’m a sucker for the redemption storyline in any medium. And while I understood eventually the real Peter Parker would return and prevail, I enjoyed the ride.

***

Maybe it’s a rationalization. Maybe I’ve given up on my stances from over 13 years ago. Maybe I believe that the amount of money Marvel is getting from me through Comixology is small enough not to matter.

I’m not sure what more I may or may not read. I certainly have plenty of comics to read in my to-be-read pile as is.

Still, it was nice to have a reunion with an old friend. To be able to check in with him and see how he was doing after all this time.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Car Shopping Blues

Me learning our SUV had been “Totaled”

You think you have so much time. You plan out your trips. You plan out your years ahead. You mark your special occasions where the odometer crossing 50k, 100k, 150k…

And then it’s over. You didn’t even have time to prepare yourself for needing to shop for a new car.

***

That’s where I am this week after the unfortunate news that my wife’s Honda CR-V had some structural damage from a fender bender and the insurance company made the decision to “total” the car out. Suddenly we are a 1 car family.

***

I ran out of gas during my very first test drive.

Seriously, I ran out of gas with my mom in the passenger seat and the salesman in the back. We’d gotten maybe half a mile or so from the dealership when it started sputtering a little bit. I tried to compensate, I mean, clearly, it was my fault that the car was making these weird noises, right? I distinctly remember my mom saying “Just drive. You know how to drive, just drive.”

It wasn’t until the salesman leaned over the seat that he realized the fundamental truth: a car needs gas to run (or at least it did back in those days).

***

Cars are weird. I never have been a “car guy”. I know little more than how to start my car everyday and somedays I struggle to do even that. This is probably a stain on my family since my grandparents owned a junkyard for 40 years or so and worked on and around cars constantly. My dad built his first car.

But I’ve always viewed my cars as a way to get from point A to point B. I have no idea if it has a Z27 1/2 engine in there or not. Does it have 4 wheels? Can it get me where I need to go? OK then!

I can nod along when other people start talking about engine size or horsepower or some classic car, but it is all a defense mechanism. Mostly I want until the conversation turns to sports again where I might be able to contribute to the conversation.

***

Now comes the stressful part. The search to find just the right fit. Too many miles? Too much money?

My current favorite: Find a great-looking deal on a dealer’s site. Write down all the information. Find out when you get to the dealership that particular car is actually at their other location, 40 miles away.

Ugh!

We’re already tired of looking and it’s only been 4 days. We just want to be done, but I’m also obsessed with finding that “perfect” one. You know the car that falls right in the sweet spot of price and miles and accessories and everything else. The one you do a legit double-take on, then ask yourself (out loud) “what’s wrong with this car”

The unicorn of cars.

***

I’m obviously being a bit glib above, but I do think there is something to a car being a part of a family. You make memories in it the same as anywhere else. I live outside of Atlanta, Georgia, which means that many times I feel like I’m living in my car on the weekends (pre-pandemic) running errand after errand.

I traveled back and forth from Richmond, VA to Atlanta, GA during my years at Georgia Tech during the various week breaks. I’d have a stack of CDs sitting in the passenger seat and rotate through them while I made the 8-hour trip. I’ve turned up Pantera as loud as I could, screaming along with the lyrics, that one time I decided to wake up early and get on the road. All to try and stay awake at 11 in the morning. I eventually found a rest stop and napped for about an hour.

So many post-concerts where my shirt was soaked through, trying to figure out the best way not to have it seep into the seats (and never remembering to bring a towel or something for the next show).

***

I held hands for the first time with my future wife while driving back from a Braves game.

***

There are the big memories, but there are all the other memories where we just take it for granted. With this vehicle, I really thought we had 3 more years before we’d need to start going car shopping. With Courtney working from home, assuming some regular maintenance, there was no reason to think that would need to be a pipe dream.

Instead, last week Courtney had to clean her out, turn over the keys, and leave her behind. We only hope that maybe they can use some of her parts in other cars so that she might live on. She served us well. Was a great old gal, and we’ll miss her.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love For Everyday – 7

Check out Egg, Lee, and John’s Kickstarter until the end of this week as a part of ZineQuest 3!

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

 

January 6

 

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.

Leo Tolstoy

 

February 1

 

And when one of them meets with his other half,

The actual half of himself,

Whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort,

The pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy.

Plato, The Symposium

 

March 4

 

A great marriage is not when the “perfect couple” comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.

Dave Meurer

 

April 6

 

There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.

Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

 

May 7

 

People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. That’s the good stuff. Then we get to chose who we let into our weird little worlds… but the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other. That’s the whole deal. That’s what intimacy is about.

Good Will Hunting

 

June 3

 

You don’t get to choose. You just fall in love. And you get this person who is all wrong and all right at the same time. And you know you love them so much except sometimes they just drive you completely insane and no one can explain it. And the reason it’s so confusing is because it’s love. But if love didn’t have any challenges, what would be the point?

Party of Five

 

July 1

 

Relationships don’t work the way they do on television and in the movies:

Will they, won’t they, and then they finally do and they’re happy forever – gimme a break.

Nine out of ten of them end because they weren’t right for each other to begin with, and half the ones that get married get divorced, anyway. And I’m telling you right now, through all this stuff, I have not become a cynic, I haven’t.

Yes, I do happen to believe that love is mainly about pushing chocolate-covered candies and, you know, in some cultures, a chicken. You can call me a sucker, I don’t care, ‘cause I do… believe in it.

Bottom line… is the couples that are truly right for each other wade through the same crap as everybody else, but, the big difference is, they don’t let it take ‘em down.

Scrubs

 

August 2

 

Age does not protect you from love, but love to some extent protects you from age.

Jeanne Moreau

 

September 12

 

We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other one wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.

But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 earthly reason for my existence.

I love you very much.

Johnny Cash

 

October 2

 

I am longing to be with you, and by the sea where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

 

November 15

 

Don’t you understand? You mean more to me than anything in this whole world.

Peter Pan

 

December 10

 

Morning without you is a dwindled dawn.

Emily Dickinson

 

***

Squeeze those you love tight this weekend (and on every other day as well)!

***

And if you play Dungeons and Dragons 5e, make sure to check out our Zine focusing on all things Love and Loss currently on Kickstarter!

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

My Life as a College DJ

Image by Michi S from Pixabay

Spinning the black circles. Finding those up and coming bands. Flipping through 30+ years of vinyl to find those forgotten secrets.

I did all of that during my brief time as a DJ at 91.1 WREK at Georgia Tech my freshman year.

The thing is, it’s not like it was even on my radar. That wasn’t something a random college student would do. While I was finding new bands to like/love and music was a passion of sorts, it wasn’t something I’d ever given any thought to. In fact, had my roommate and another friend not found out about the open sign-ups, I would have never had the chance to even bother.

The actual radio station back then (and I’m assuming now, but I don’t know) was right beside the Basketball arena, which meant it was about a ten-minute walk from my dorms. I’m not sure what a college radio station was supposed to look like, but this one didn’t disappoint. A couch that likely was considered used in the late 70s adorned the common area. A beat-up soda machine sat off to the side. Rumor had it if you pressed two of the very worn buttons at the same time when you were making your selection, a can of beer would instead descend from inside. Inside the actual booth where we played music was big enough for a couple of people to sit, with a large desk-like apparatus that held the cd player, the record player, and assorted other buttons and dials. Just behind that was a larger room filled from top to bottom with all the vinyl you could possibly want.

 

From https://www.wrek.org/gallery/historic-wrek-gallery/

So the deal was (I think this is right) 2 or 3-hour shifts where you marked which CDs or vinyl you’d played during your session (think of an old-school notecard inside your library books and it was the same thing). They divided the newer bands they wanted you to play at least once a day. In addition, for an hour you had to play one reggae song and one rap song. Finally, once an hour you could play anything you wanted from the back.

Now here’s the thing about college radio music – a lot of it SUCKS. I legitimately played songs that sounded as if people didn’t have drums but instead had pots and pans they were playing on. And I’m being completely serious. So what happened was you’d find a handful of bands that you liked enough to play during one of your sets, and you just prayed the person working before you hadn’t already played them (because then they were off-limits for the rest of the day). The other thing you discovered were the longer songs. Something maybe 7 to 8 minutes in case you needed to run over to the restroom.

Finally, during your sessions, you’d peruse the back area where there were tons of bands that no one has ever heard of. Oh, they had some things you would know… they had Faith No More’s Epic and The Police Synchronicity, but you had to be very careful with which track you chose.

***

Since I’m a big Police fan, when I found the album sitting back there I decided that I’d delve into one of the more obscure tracks to play. I put it on as my “song of choice” for the hour and within thirty seconds the phone rang and someone growled – “turn that off!” I was so nervous that I’d broken some unwritten rule that I did stop the song in mid-chorus and swapped it with some garage band’s terrible pot banging. The next day when I went to look for that album (thinking that I just chose the wrong song)… it had magically disappeared.

If you worked at the radio station there was an opportunity to sign up to be on the guest lists for various clubs around the city and nearby towns. Which was extremely cool considering I didn’t have a ton of disposable income, to begin with. The problem for a newbie like me was the sign-ups were in order of seniority. So I signed up for a few things here and there that an older DJ then sniped from me. In the 5 months of working there, I managed to get on 1 guest list: Helmet at the 40 Watt in Athens. Considering they were one of my favorite bands at the time, I was just praying no one would snipe my passes, but sure enough, I and a friend got to go.

https://www.wrek.org/gallery/historic-wrek-gallery/ I believe that’s the same couch from my memories.

***

One other thing the radio station did was broadcast the college baseball games. As spring approached, multiple afternoon shifts would butt up directly to the games. Normally, there was a DJ who would cover that shift which mostly meant making sure the initial setup worked and then being on hand for any issues during the game. Except on that one day when the end of my shift approached and the DJ still hadn’t shown up. The clock turned 5 and the baseball guys called in, saying they were ready for the hand-off… and me… the guy who was nervous about screwing something up in the first place, suddenly had to explain to them that the regular guy wasn’t there, and they’d need to walk me through things.

I don’t remember any specifics, but I know I had to go mess with the main “machine” (my brain fails me what it was called), something I didn’t interact with AT ALL. The clock was ticking, I’m cursing the DJ for being late, and I’m sure the broadcasters were wondering if the game was going to make the air.

It did. After about 1/2 an hour the late DJ showed up, thanked me, and then I left hoping to never have to do that again.

***

It is only now, looking back, that I wish I’d stuck with it for a little while longer. After summer, my friends kinda petered out on it, and since that was half the reason to do it… and I was going to be co-oping in the winter quarter anyway (which meant I wouldn’t have time to do it), I stopped signing up for shifts. Before too long it had become a weird thing that I’d done… something neat to put on my resume for a little while as “hobbies” or something interesting about me.

Mostly though, I wish I’d come up with my radio voice back then.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

New Year’s Resolutions and the Easy Button

A new year and a chance to start over fresh. Make your resolutions on how to be a better you. I know many times this has become the moment to set forth on a new diet. Try to get some of those unwanted pounds off, get into better shape, and maybe eat a little better.

As I’m walking or avoiding the snack foods or any various desserts that may cross my path, I can’t help but wonder how technology and science have failed us. And I’m not even talking about the mystical, magical Diet Pill that actually works and just melts away the excess weight… no. I mean, there have to be some other ways for this to work out. There have to be some ways that science fiction might actually predict science and make all our resolutions thing of the past.

So here are a couple of ideas for how this might work… the Easy Button way to get into shape:

Is it impossible to create a machine that allows someone to temporarily gain control of our bodies? Whether our minds just go into a blissful state or maybe it is a true mind swap. The overweight or out of shape person swaps out of their bodies for maybe an hour a day to allow our trainers the time to whip those same bodies into shape (for a nice fee of course). Of course, an hour a day would show some level of improvement, but if you are really serious, then might I suggest our month-long vacation plan? While you get to live it up with a perfect body, our trainers will take your flabby form and put it through all sorts of exercises. These trainers are used to eating right, living right, and will do for your body what you could only dream about. In the meantime, you will be taken to a resort where for those same days you get to live the way you’ve always wanted, in a specimen of a body.

At the end of the month, you swap minds back, and now you get to have that Hollywood/movie star physique for once in your life… and if you manage to slip up, well, we can always do it again next year!

It’s a win-win!

***

Though, thinking about it, swapping minds is probably a dangerous idea since you would never be sure what someone might do with your face, your fingerprints. You’d effectively be living a different life for that time so there is no end to the trouble your body might get into. Would you need to put a freeze on your accounts? What happens if they die in your body? What happens if you die in theirs? Hmmm… this may take a little more thought.

***

Ok, what about this idea:

Matter cannot be destroyed only transferred, right? What if that was applied to all of those with a little extra weight to give? Say I could give someone a pound of my fat for a fee. It could even be set up on an official exchange where you might get paid a hundred dollars to take a pound from someone. Now you have people who are trainers, who again are used to keeping a low fat percentage and allow them to make a little more money. In fact, technically anyone could suddenly make a few extra bucks if they were willing to exercise and do the dieting for you. You pay your money, they get the weight, and your resolution is a little easier to achieve?

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

***

Of course, I could see that one allowing for crazy excesses. I could see people getting into debt and the only way they can pay things off is through taking the weight which would/could mess their own systems up beyond anything they might normally be able to adjust to. I mean, it’s one thing to maybe put on a few pounds in a week, maybe 5-10 pounds in a month. But what if you had to take 20-30 pounds in a matter of minutes. The shock alone…

***

Or maybe, just maybe, I could take another walk around the neighborhood…

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Once Upon A Time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

It’s the only way to go forward.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love For Everyday – 6

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

 

January 10

If I could save time in a bottle

The first thing that I’d like to do

Is to save every day

‘Til eternity passes away

Just to spend them with you

Jim Croce, Time In A Bottle

 

February 6

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

Before Sunrise

March 14

 

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

Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

 

April 8

 

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

The Adjustment Bureau

 

May 12

 

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

George Carlin

 

June 8

 

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

George Orwell, 1984

 

 

July 5

 

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

Charles Dickens

 

August 20

 

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

And if there be anything good and pure in me,

It will be proved by my always loving you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

September 11

 

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

Albert Einstein

 

October 1

 

The best things in life make you sweaty.

Edgar Allen Poe

 

November 7

 

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.

Plato

December 3

 

Nobody really thinks it will work, do they?

You just described every great success story.

Say Anything

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Comics Are My Time Machine

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

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

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

Comics.

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

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

They called to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Every Day – 5

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

 

January 7

 

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

Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

 

February 8

 

Sometimes your nearness takes my breath away;

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

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

Robert Sexton

 

March 3

 

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

Anonymous

 

April 2

 

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

I choose love.

Johnny Cash

 

May 13

 

Love isn’t an act, it’s a whole life.

Brian Moore

 

June 2

 

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

Mark Twain

 

July 9

 

August 14

 

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

Veronica Mars

September 8

 

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

Charles Dickens

 

October 3

 

When a girl is in love,

You can see it in her smile.

When a guy is in love,

You can see it in his eyes.

Anonymous

 

November 2

 

This is true love-

You think this happens every day?

The Princess Bride

 

 

December 3

 

 

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com