A Love for Everyday – Part 16

Seven 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 six 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.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

Part 14 is here.

Part 15 is here.

 

 

January 27

It’s like, it’s not even real to me. It’s like my life isn’t even real to me unless you’re there and you’re in it and I’m sharing it with you.

Gilmore Girls

 

February 13

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

Agatha Christie

 

March 12

You’re my favorite reason to lose sleep.

Anonymous

April 10

When you think you’re not happy with your life, always think someone is happy simply because you exist.

Anna Kendrick

May 17

Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

 

June 24

There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Vincent Van Gogh

 

July 29

I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

 

August 26

Loving you is like breathing – so effortless, so natural. And so essential to life.

Anonymous

September 24

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The loves, the dreamers, and me.

Kermit the Frog

 

October 30

But our love was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we

Of many far wiser than we

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

Edgar Allan Poe

 

November 10

There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.

Martin Luther

 

December 11

One love

One blood

One life

You got to do what you should

One life

With each other

Sisters

Brothers

One life

But we’re not the same

We get to

Carry each other

Carry each other

One… life

U2, One

 

***

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 8

Image by piviso from Pixabay

She Knows Where You Live

During 2020, I was lucky enough to have the type of job where I could work from home. However, the job wanted to make sure we still felt some level of connection with the rest of our coworkers even if we weren’t seeing them regularly. So we ended up with Zoom call happy hours where we would chat… it was actually nice. However, what always cracked me up was one of my coworkers would normally ask a question about where someone lived and from that appeared to hack into the government database to discover all sorts of things about you that you didn’t think was out there.

It became a running joke for any new employees to warn them that if they gave her any information, she’d have their addresses within the hour.

 

I’m Having a Problem With My Computer

We once had a Temp employee who was helping us out on a series of deadlines wih the goal of hiring them on full time if things worked out. At that particular job, I was the one who they designated to help them out on any problems they might have with our network/computers/jobs/etc. I didn’t mind doing that at all (I’ve come to realize over the years I really like helping the junior engineers, so in some ways this was one of the steps down that path). After a couple of weeks of the Temp working on any number of projects, they came over to me and said there was a problem with their computer… it was crawling.

I walked over to their desk and saw it was really slow. Like slower than I’d ever seen any of our machines run. I start doing some digging and I realize what the problem is – the computer is out of storage.

Then I dig further.

The Temp had been saving all the files they’d worked on to their computer as an extra level of backup in case something went wrong. Now, I can understand some things you might want to do that with… and maybe they’d had a nightmare scenario at a previous job which caused this behavior… but this was above and beyond. It was as if ANY file they touched at all got backed up to their computer.

After a conversation about the companies’ backup procedure, we managed to get the machine cleaned up enough… for like a week. And that became a weekly routine of trying to explain that not everything needed to go on their computer.

Every week.

Owen Wilson

At the various holiday parties and monthly lunch and learns, there are moments which hit you out of the blue. I can’t recall what we were having lunch for in particular, but a series of stories were being shared. At the end of one of them, one of the engineers made what can only be referred to as an “Owen Wilson WOW” sound. At that point, I started paying attention to her reactions and sure enough Owen Wilson Wow made multiple appearances. With the best moment being during a meeting where some rather uninspiring thing was being shown for the group and I heard a “Wow” from two rows behind me and nearly lost it right then and there.

It has now entered my own lexicon throughout my daily life. Anytime anything deserves a Wow… Owen Wilson gets his kickback.

 

***

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 Song of Your Life III

In the movie, Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke is on a book tour where he is talking about his next project: this idea of a song transporting you back in time. How it grabs you and can make you remember things you’d forgotten – all of it locked within a song.

I feel the same way, where the music moment can transport you back to those memories you might not always have right at your fingertips. Things you thought had been lost are now crystal clear once again.

***

Image by Mollyroselee from Pixabay

Def Leppard – Hysteria

One of the first albums I ever owned, I nearly wore out the cassette tape as it would play behind me while I shot baskets throughout so many afternoons. But more than anything it transports me back to a particular summer where I’m maybe 12 or 13 at my grandparents’ house in south Georgia. My sister and I would normally spend two weeks with them every summer and hand out with our cousin. The thing was that south Georgia heat is nothing to play with. We’re talking 100 degrees easily during most afternoons, and in the area I’m talking about, it was probably closer to scrubland than woods sometimes (so not as much shade to potentially keep you cool). We tried to stick to the indoors as much as possible, but even back then the adults were always wondering why we weren’t outside playing (I wondered if adults didn’t feel heat in the same way, but now, as an adult, I know it’s certainly not the case). So I took a basketball out to the weathered and battered goal and turned on Def Leppard and cooked in the heat.

Good times…

***

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain

When you are a poor high school student, you really depend on tape trading with your friends in order to experience anything more than what your own feeble funds might allow you to purchase. One of those tapes was a copy of Use Your Illusion 1 (and 2 as well) which Chad Shonk had made a copy of for me. I devoured that tape over the course of many weeks before I finally decided to just go and get the CD. Imagine my surprise when this song Novemeber Rain came pouring through my stero… a song I did not recognize at all. I popped back on the tape, fast forwarded to where the song appeared and got a weird gabled version of the song that was abruptly shortened as well. So it was that one of the bands greatest songs finally managed to be appreciated by me… months after the album had been out.

***

Korn – Blind

Right after I graduated from high school, my parents moved the family up to Richmond, Virginia, leaving their oldest in behind in Georgia to begin college at GA Tech in the fall. It was a great summer as for many weeks I pretty much was by myself. My dad would be down about every other week, but otherwise I was on my own (luckily for them, I was anything but a wild kid – I wouldn’t have known how to throw a party even if I’d wanted to). Just before the end of summer, the movers came and packed up all our worldly items and off we went to Richmond, where I think I technically lived for about two weeks.

It was there I discovered a record shop a couple of miles away from the new house. Every couple of days I would pop up there to see if they had anything of interest. And one day they had these sampler tapes from a band named KORN. Free means go ahead and grab one just in case. I got home, popped it into the stero, and was blown away by what I heard. Suddenly, a random trip to the store had introduced me (and my friends shortly thereafter) to not only a brand new band but the beginnings of a whole new music (Nu Metal).

***

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 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

I normally like to take this first blog of the new year and do both a look back and look forward on the various projects I have been working on. However, 2023 was an odd year in that I’ve been working on things, but overall it has probably been one of my least productive years in some time with no good milestones of releases to kind of mark my personal progress. It’s likely to a lack of discipline to sit my butt behind the keyboard and do the work, mixed with some shiny object syndrome, and some real life events that made it where many nights I just wanted to veg out rather than be productive.

So, with that thought I think a better use of my time would be to look forward to 2024 and see what possibilities lie in front of me:

In Our Dreams Awake

In 2022, Egg Embry and I launched a Kickstarter for the first issue of In Our Dreams Awake. Due to various reasons (some hinted at above), we weren’t able to get to the second issue Kickstarter within the 2023 calendar year. However, issue 2 is complete and ready to be unleashed into the world during the first quarter of the year. In a perfect world, I’d like to see all four issues get their Kickstarter runs while still allowing for maybe a final shorter Kickstarter in 2025 for the trade. I’ve never run more than one crowdfunding campaign in a year, so this may be easier said than done. Still, it would be nice to bring a story to a close after nearly two decades.

 

The Crossing

In 2020, Robert Jeffrey, Sean Hill, myself, and 133art came together to tell a story which was a sort of love-letter to the Dimension hopping stories of science fiction (think Sliders or Exiles). Then the pandemic happened. Then Sean Hill got himself famous with Marvel work. And the project kind of got back-burnered. After some discussions late in 2023, we have new pages and are looking to potentially having a path to wrapping up the first story in what (hopefully) could be a much larger sandbox. Assuming things go well, I could see us having a Kickstarter for this during the second quarter of 2024.

Another Comic Project

I look at everyone who is doing independent comic books and notice that they have multiple projects going at various stages of completion. And while I have that in some ways (see the above), I also need to look towards the future and not just 2024. It is all fine and well  if I have 3 issues of In Our Dreams Awake come out and maybe two issues of Crossing this year, but what then? Do I kill any momentum I might have gathered during 2024 and 2025 becomes a waiting for the artwork to get done type of year? Or could I start the wheels turning this year so that when Dreams is done, I’m immediately ready to launch the next project into the world?

So that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out in this last week. Some of it depends a great deal on whether I’m successful with Dreams and the Crossing. If those fail or even just squeek by… it could change the entire equation. But if you are going to take a leap of faith, I could see worse things to do. I have two projects that would make a decent follow-up, so the only question is which one to attack first.

 

S.O.U.L. Mate

I swear this is my white whale. I have a full draft of this one. I have done a first pass of edits. But it is still missing something. It’s nothing big, the overall skeleton is there, but I think there are a few places within the draft where things need to be punched up and/or elaborated on (fleshed out). Editing is the least fun part of things sometimes just due to the time investment on my side. If you think about it, when you read for pleasure a 300 page book can take days/weeks of reading (according to how fast you read). With editing, I’m having to reread the work but with an eye for where the weaknesses in the manuscript might be and then make the edits. An hour of editing might get me through 1 chapter. And if I’m editing, then I’m not writing anything else… very much a push-pull effort on my time.

The other thing is when this thing is ready to get released into the world, I want it to actually do more than any of my previous works. Now I’m not delusional, but I’d also like it to do more than pizza money. I really need to have my marketing strategy down pat when I put this one out (really that goes for everything though).

Image by G.C. from Pixabay

Untold Series

I jump around genres. That’s a path to failure. So I’ve been working on a series of books (and novellas and short stories) to try and get a proper release that will take hold and maybe grow the audience with each release. This won’t be ready for release this year. At this point I have 2 1/2 of the novels done in what I see as a 6ish book series. I have notes filling up pages of notebooks. I have worlds being created and destroyed. But this big push for this one is consistantcy in writing on the series so that perhaps 2025 might see the release of Book 1. No matter, if I make more and more progress on this insanity, I will be extremely happy.

 

Hollow Empire

Mr. Neill and myself wrote a serialized story set in a world where the Black Plague event happened twenty years eariler and the world was still picking itself back up from getting punched in the teeth. We did 6 episodes and collected that as a full-length novel (Season 1). In the years since, I’ve wanted to go back to this story, but have always back-burnered this in favor of something else. However, Jeremy has written 2 additional novellas in the world in the meantime.

It is like an itch I need to get at… I have one novella ready to go, but need to finish the next two before I do any releasing. Regardless, more work on this is needed this year.

Short Stories

At some point this year I wondered about both my published and unpublished short stories. I have a few building up in my folders, so I started putting them all in a Scriviner file to see where I was in a potential Anthology. I was pleasantly suprised to see I had about 40,000 words over around 10ish shorts. And I have about 4 other stories that would be really good fits in there that are in progress. This is another “make progress” as I wouldn’t want to try and put it out this year but maybe in 2025…

***

So that’s a look toward my writing future. I’m optimistic that come this time next year a whole bunch of these items will have a big checkmark beside them. Fingers crossed.

***

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 15

Seven 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 six 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.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

Part 14 is here.

 

 

January 25

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Dr. Seuss

 

February 12

You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.

E. M. Forster, A Room With A View

 

March 29

Time is

Too slow for those who wait

Too swift for those who fear

Too long for those who grieve,

Too short for those who rejoice;

But for those who Love,

Time is not.

Henry Van Dyke, Music And Other Poems

April 22

If anything happened to you, I’d be so destroyed they’d have to strap me to a bed and feed me through a tube. After five or six years, I might be capable of taking care of Rex. In the interim, you should assign a guardian.

Janet Evanovich, Fearless Fourteen

May 16

Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.

Katherine Hepburn, Me: Stories Of My Life

 

June 17

Whenever you are confronted with an Opponent. Conquer him with love.

Mahatma Gandhi

 

July 11

One day spent with someone you love can change everything.

Mitch Albom, For One More Day

 

August 10

You don’t marry the person you can live with…

You marry the person you can’t live without.

Anonymous

September 25

What greater gift than the love of a cat.

Charles Dickens

 

October 28

Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.

Vertigo

 

November 9

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

Carl Sagan, Contact

 

December 7

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.

Roy Croft

 

***

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 14

Seven 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 six 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.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

Part 13 is here.

 

January 9

What I really want to do with my life – what I want to do for a living –  is I want to be with your daughter.

I’m good at it.

Say Anything

 

February 27

Doubt thou the stars are fire;

Doubt the sun doth move;

Doubt truth to be a liar:

but never doubt I love.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

March 30

 

The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.

Henry Miller

April 20

 

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.

Jorge Luis Borges

May 15

You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won’t tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired.

You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you didn’t even have a name for.

Richard Siken

 

June 10

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

Judy Garland

 

July 25

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.

Charlotte’s Web

 

August 15

 

But love doesn’t make sense! You can’t logic your way into or out of it. Love is totally nonsensical. But we have to keep doing it or else we’re lost, and love is dead and humanity should pack it in.

Because love is the best thing we do.

How I Met Your Mother

September 13

That’s when you know for sure somebody loves you. They figure out what you need and they give it to you – without you asking.

Adriana Trigiani, Very Valentine

 

October 27

My only nightmare is waking up in a world where you’re not mine.

Anonymous

 

November 14

With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day, so you can see what you meant to me.

Jarod Kintz, This Is The Best Book I’ve Ever Written, And It Still Sucks

 

December 5

Woman is sacred; the woman one loves is holy.

Alexandre Dumas, The Count Of Monte Cristo

 

***

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

10 Years Later – Part Two

We’re now on the other side of 10 Years worth of posts. A time where I’m hoping that I can push myself to write more on the various projects I have going. Though sometimes the amount of bandwidth feels too much. Like too much time is spent doing everything but the writing.

I think it is a good thing to reflect back on what I’ve done and accomplished through my posts. Highlight a handful of others that might have gotten lost in the shuffle over the years. So many words…

Stan Lee

Without Stan Lee I might not be a writer. His work on those early Marvel comics helped to pave my way into the fandom I have today. Though all the collecting and reading, it was comics that I wanted to write more than anything else. So without him, I’m not sure I would have gotten even half as far as I have.

30 Years Ago

I’d completely forgot about this blog post. But it is the origin story for Courtney and me. And while I don’t know every thought going on in 17 year old John’s mind, I remember enough of it to put it out there for everyone to read.

I’m The Problem

Egg Embry and I have a joke about how the two or three comics he is currently collecting is the only thing staving off armageddon for the comic book industry. And every other week there is an article out there discussing why comics are not doing as well as they used to do. Or why can’t they get more fans. Or what things could they do to improve things. I read these articles and try to take in everything I can, even if I literally have zero power to do anything more than what I am doing.

Except I had this thought, maybe I am the problem. Maybe you can pin it all at my feet. Maybe I’m the bad guy?

 

The Darkest Timeline

Weirdly, I’m writing this particular blog post in the hours after another Atlanta Braves postseason loss. Another year where they should have won more games in the post season. Career years for many of the players… I don’t get the feeling very often, but I really thought this was going to be the year. Other teams manage to do it, and yet…

(Note to self – this post was prior to the 2021 season where we did win it all, so while it is dark, it isn’t as dark as it had been.)

 

To Become A Super-Villain

Written during the shelter in place for Covid, the lack of interaction with anyone other than Courtney started me thinking that this could be her villain origin story. So this one is more of a list of things for us to avoid.

Westley

I merely clicked on the link to the one, and I started tearing up again. A reminder of the hole this little guy left in my heart. But I am especially proud of this piece because it is raw. It is as much as I could think of in those days after he was gone. The words flowed because I had to make sure I remembered everything I could… that if I did that then I could feel like others could understand how that little cat filled my life in a way I didn’t know was possible.

 

***

I hate leaving on this down note, but the last one is likely the most important thing I’ve ever written on this site for what he meant to me. So go hug your pets. Give them treats and kisses and snuggles and enjoy every moment you have with them.

***

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

 

 

10 Years Later – Part One

In 5 days it will have been 10 years since I posted my first blog to this website. At the time there were four of us doing our best to create some content, potentially help raise some awareness about the projects we were working on, and maybe even assist each other in an “the tide raises all boats” sort of way. Over the course of ten years there have been just over 2100 posts made by the various creators. Which is crazy to think about considering it feels like a bit of a fever dream that we actually followed through on doing this.

For me, I don’t know if this ever really moved the needle much for any of my comics or books. Maybe one or two, here or there, over the years, but as time went on I came to realize the true benefit was simply ensuring I sat down at some point during the week (many times very late into Wednesday morning) and actually write something. Writing is repetition. Writing is routine. And on Tessera Guild I managed to do that in spades.

Looking at the stats, I have over 570 posts since that first blog went out all those years ago. Up until last year (I think), I hadn’t missed a week, though in the past couple of years I have done some reposts every so often of older blogs to try and get newer eyes on them.

So in the spirit of looking back, I wanted to highlight a handful of blogs that I am especially proud of:

I Should Have Paid More Attention to C. Thomas Howell

C. Thomas Howell was in a movie called The Hitcher, which was about the bad things that can happen to you when you pick up a hitchhiker. This particular post is about the time I decided to give someone a lift. If it isn’t the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, it is top 10 at the very least.

He’ll See Me On the Flipside

I wrote this as a sort of therapy for myself. A way to try and make sense of who I am and how I’ve gotten to the life I had. It hops back and forth throughout my life, sometimes connecting bits and pieces and sometimes not. But it is a quick look at how to build a me.

(As a side note about this one… there is a moment in the Watchmen comic where Dr. Manhattan’s conciousness bounces around showing how he is living simulaneously throughout the points of his life. And while I have read Watchmen, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I saw those comic pages again and then remembered this blog. An unintentional homage, I guess.)

So What’s He Going To Buy With All That Gold?

While I’ve shared other short stories on this site, this one was wholely written for the blog. I’m not 100% on how I managed it, but I think I wrote it over two nights after watching The Hobbit for about the 10th time. It is one of those questions I’ve not really seen asked or answered… we just expect Dragons to have treasure.

Creatures Big and Small

I’ve always been an animal person. I was the kid that pretty much could tame to most vicious animal. That love and caring has carried over into my adult life. And while I wouldn’t trade my time with the animals for anything, I still tear up reflecting on the ones who are gone.

New Myths and Legends

The old gods and goddesses demanded worship from their followers. They gained power as the people fell in line, but over the years those old ones have faded away. However, I think I’ve discovered a new goddess who we all have begun to let control our lives…

My Musical Love Affair: Pearl Jam

If there is something I’ve written about more than anything else other than comics it might be Pearl Jam. They are MY band. In a way, they are the true soundtrack to my life as I’ve grown from a teenager listening in my bedroom to the adult writing this post… they are a sort of constant.

Not Like This

My reflections on the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl in the aftermath of disaster. Nuff said.

***

10 years is a long time, but rather than miss out on some key posts, I’ll have part two 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

Old Man Shouts at Cloud

As I get older, I think I’m experiencing more stupidity in the world around me. Maybe its just the stuff which didn’t bother me when I was younger now gets me for some reason. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but the following things have become an annoyance which is only growing everytime I encounter it. Maybe it is because I design roads every day, but I’m going to lose my mind.

Not Going the Speed Limit (at least)

Look, I live in the Atlanta subburbs. Everyone drives crazy. I once had relatives come down from New York and complain about our drivers. We have a Perimeter around the city which I believe acts as a qualifier for the Indianapolis 500.

So why is it when I’m driving home from work I somehow find myself behind a person who is going at least 5-10 MPH below the posted speed limit?

I’m more than willing to overlook it if I see you’re going slow because you are lost or just not sure what street you are supposed to turn down next. Because, as some point, you’d turn off the road I’m on. But that never happens. No, we pass street after street and their speed remains the same (SLOW) as it has been the whole time I’ve been behind them. For the 3 mile stretch of roadway where this seems to ALWAYS happen, I just can’t figure it out. It’s at least once a week, if not more.

Just drive the speed limit… you’re killing me (albeit slowly, but still).

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Random Stopping for Sideroad Cars to Enter Traffic

Let me qualify this by saying, if traffic is thick and the person in front of me slows down to allow a person from a sideroad or driveway to join in the fun – I have no problem with that.

What I have a problem with is the people who randomly stop (or nearly stop) for the car on the sideroad or driveway. There is no one in front of them slowing the flow of traffic. No, this is them, for SOME REASON, thinking “the person behind me will know I’m going to out of the blue nearly come to a complete stop for no good reason”.

This is a more recent problem, but over the last few months I have encountered it a dozen times. I’m not sure what people are thinking, but I’m fully sure I’m going to get into an accident because of this foolishness (and it will end up being me who gets the ticket for Following Too Close, even though I leave a ton of room most of the time).

U-Turns Are Apparently Just a Thing You Can Do Whenever

Contrary to the title of this section, it isn’t true. When you are sitting at a red light, you can’t just make a random U-turn on Red.

THAT’S NOT A THING!

I get that you don’t want to wait for the light to change and give you the green arrow (of protection). I don’t like waiting either. But it is very likely you are going to hit someone (probably me) because you can’t be bothered to follow the rules of the road.

Can You Please Pull Up While We Cook Your Food

OK. This one is roadway adjacent. I have never understood the rationale of fast food drivethru windows who ask you to pull up instead of waiting at the window when there is no one else in line behind you. What sense could it possibly make to then have to run the food out to me. I could have sat there at the window and saved you the hassle. And hey, if someone does come… that’s when you ask me to pull up. But if everything is clear, there is literaly no reason to waste all our time with such a dumb ask.

***

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

30 Years Ago

It all began on July 24, 1993. I went on my first date with Courtney Becker (at the time). We went over to my buddies’ house to swim in his pool. Probably not the best plan overall since what would happen if it rained? Why not go with something more tried and true (dinner and a movie)?

Fear.

If we rewind the clock just a little bit…

Courtney and I met at Kroger. I’d been working their for a couple of months at that point.

***

The only reason I chose Kroger in the first place was to get my dad off my case. You see, after I’d hit 16, I had jumped to get my driver’s license, but I didn’t have a car. At best I could run errands for my parents… maybe use it to go out with a friend. But the months rolled by and I had little to no desire to get a job.

It seemed like a drag.

But, it was going to have to happen. However, I was smart. I decided I’d just go up to the closest grocery store, get the application, bring it home, and buy myself a week or so. At some point they might call. At some point, I might have to go to another place and fill out an application. This was going to take some time to happen.

It took an hour for it to happen. I went in for the application, the manager was there and interviewed me, and suddenly I have 20+ hours a week.

So laziness led me to Kroger. Had I been a little more of a go-getter, then perhaps we would have never met.

Lazy for the win!

***

I actually wasn’t there for her first day of work. When I did meet her she was dating another guy (they’d started on the same day), so I didn’t think anything of it. But as time went on, we became friends. She’d invite a bunch of us over to her house to watch the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs (this was back when it was a unicorn of sorts for the team to be good). Another boyfriend at some point in there, but I wasn’t angling or anything. I was happy to have a friend.

***

I went on one date prior to the faithful July 24 date. To say I lacked self-confidence would have been an understatement. When I was asked by my parents why I didn’t ask out any of the girls, my answer was a bunch of rambling gibberish.

The truth was Fear.

Fear of rejection.

People make the joke, “what’s the worst that could happen? She says no?”

They act like it is no big deal to hear someone say NO. And they aren’t entirely wrong. Yes, being rejected wouldn’t feel good, but that wasn’t where the Fear came from. It was the thought of them laughing at the prospect. What if they not only rejected me… they then went and told everyone who would listen that John McGuire had tried to ask them out.

What an idiot.

What a nerd.

***

With all those thoughts swarming around my head, I thought it better to pine away in silence with any of the girls in school I might have liked.

Time went on. A year had passed. And a group of us went to Six Flags (escorted by my mom). I don’t remember anything special particularly happening on that day. I’m sure Courtney and I rode some rides together, but she rode rides with other people too.

***

I’m oblivious.

Still am.

***

We got home and my mom said “That girl likes you.”

What? Not a chance of that. You see, my mom wasn’t the one who lived in my head. She wasn’t the one who thought they were ugly. She wasn’t the one who felt socially awkward. She wasn’t the one who wasn’t sure there was a person out there for them. Maybe come college. Maybe.

But she persisted. “That girl likes you.”

***

Kroger intervined again. Ashley in the floral department pulled me aside one day and told me straight out “Courtney likes you. She wants you to ask her out.”

Now this… this felt like enough information to go on. Maybe she did like me? Maybe she would say yes?

But there was a problem.

Our work hours.

Every week they would post the work times, and typically I’d have 3 days (nights) off and 4 days on. Courtney was the same. So when I went to find that magical night where both off… a week went by. And Ashley came back, because apparently she thought I didn’t understand. “What’s taking you so long?”

So I had to just hope the next week’s assignments would grant that rare concurrance of both schedules being open. And as luck would finally have it, somehow neither of us worked Saturday night.

***

I wish I could remember how I actually asked her out. We talked on the phone a fair amount, so it was probably during one of those conversations.

***

The last detail was to figure out what to do. My friend, Lee, must have seen how nervous I was with the entire prospect, so he offered his pool and other people there so that there would be a little less pressure.

I jumped at the chance.

And I asked her out.

Image by Nos Nguyen from Pixabay

***

The strange thing was the Fear was still there. Even though I knew she liked me. Even though I knew she’d say yes. The Fear tried to worm its way into my brain and convince me that wasn’t going to be the case. That somehow everyone had misread the situation, and my nightmare of rejection was right around the corner.

***

She said yes. We went on our first date 30 years ago. We’ve grown up together. She is my best friend.

***

And I’m still amazed that she said yes 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

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 7

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Everything I know or think is wrong.

One of the younger guys at the day job is writing a manifesto. Well, not actually, but he honestly should. He has tons of thoughts and opinions on things that don’t really affect anything in the real world, but for him they are not in any level of gray. This are black and white issues and you are a fool for thinking otherwise.

Chicken Nuggets is for children.

I heard this one about a year ago and it both blew my mind and made a level of sense. If you think about it, chicken nuggets are one of those staple foods for the pickiest of eaters (kids under 10). My own nephews will refuse many, many things, but nuggets are not included in that bunch. And there is something fundamentally childish about their size. Basically small enough where you shouldn’t have to cut them up for the child.

These are food items that might take each and every one of us on a little trup back to when we were kids. Maybe, perhaps… is that why we’ve been choosing to eat nuggets over tenders?

Twizzlers are the worst candy EVER.

I was told this last week when asked what my personal favorite candy is. The look of disgust which reflected back at me was unexpected and honestly, unwarranted.

Listen, I get it if you don’t like licorice. I don’t like the taste of the stuff, but Twizzlers is just processed strawberry goodness. How can that ever be wrong? This is one of those where I will dig my heels in and not budge on my love for this one.

Besides, the man didn’t know the difference between a Milky Way and a Snickers. I’m not sure his vote truly counts here.

A frequent sight

Hey, There’s a Leak

My last office had a nasty habit of leaking after particularly hard rainstorms. The ceiling is made up of tiles, and so the telltale signs were extremely easy to notice. My office mate and I would put a trash can under the most likely drip spot and go about our day (after informing the powers that be of the problem). They would then call out the roof guys (I’m not sure specifically what the “roof guys” actually did to the roof). I know they walked around on the rocks up them and we could hear every step.

Inevitably they would come down and say it wasn’t a roof issue, it was an air conditioning issue.

Which feels weird because it leaked after it rained on the roof… but OK. The A/C people were called in. They would go through the pipes and stick their heads through our ceiling for a day before informing everyone that it couldn’t be an A/C issue. It had to be a Roof issue.

And like Groundhog Day, this cycle continued about every other month for the better part of twoish years that I was in that particular office.

***

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 Should Have Paid More Attention to C. Thomas Howell

I feel like somewhere in the midst of what you’ll read below is a horror movie waiting to find its way to the screen. Having lived it, I may be too close to the source material.

Either that or shown as a thing you should NEVER EVER DO.

***

The year was either 1997 or 1998. Now a Junior in college, I had driven up to the Georgia Tech Student Center to pick up my mail and was on my way back to my car (and then my dorm room) when I heard a woman’s voice call out to me from the dark Atlanta summer night.

“Excuse me, sir? I was wondering if I could ask a favor of you?”

I turned around and saw an older woman, maybe late forties, but most likely in her early fifties. Regardless of her actual age, she was someone who had that look where life had never really cut her a true break. Through cigarettes and alcohol she might be able to numb the pain of existence, but she was destined to be one who, from cradle to grave, would work until her fingers became little more than nubs. Stick thin, her leathery flesh hung off her bones.

I felt sad for her immediately.

“Can I help you with something?”

She moved a little closer to me and nodded, fully emerging into the parking lot’s light. “I hope so. You see, I’m supposed to go and get my younger son from the baby sitter. And my older son was supposed to give me a ride, but he’s not in his dorm room. I can’t seem to get a hold of him.” She glanced down at the watch on her wrist. “And the sitter is done at nine and it’s already eight-thirty.”

I didn’t immediately respond, even though I could tell where this was going. When you live in downtown Atlanta, you get used to people coming up and asking you for spare change or various other favors. In my first year living downtown, I probably (read: definitely) ended up giving too much money to the random homeless who crossed my path. But that bit of humanity had been stamped out by the bank account of a college student living a few years on his own.

I braced myself for the question.

“She’s only a couple of miles down the road. If you could give me a lift,  I’d be forever grateful.”

Now my mind and mouth normally do things in agreement. Mostly the mouth waits until the brain has finished its various calculations or what-have-you and then when it gets the proper instructions it spits out the correct sequence of words.

Not this time.

“Uh, yea, I guess I could do that.”

Immediately my brain rebelled. Why had I said that? I don’t want to give her a ride. What the hell am I thinking?

Her face lit up, and I was suddenly glad that I had said yes. This would be my good deed for the year. Heck, for the century possibly.

“I’m right over here.”

As I moved over towards my 1990 red Pontiac Sunbird, I didn’t notice her wave to another person. Another beaten down by life person, but male. Same tanned leathery skin… in his late forties, early fifties as well. He wasn’t rail thin like his wife, but there was only the slightest beginning of a beer belly hiding under his shirt.

“This young man is  going to take us to the sitter’s.”

Now this is the point I should have said something like “no” or even “hey I’ve got something else I need to get to that I just remembered”, because now the numbers were not in my favor. With just her in the car she’d be in the passenger seat beside me. I’m 6’5″ 275 lbs and all of 21-22 years old. I could take on the world with the side benefit that being that size, no one typically bothered me in the first place.

Yet, with him along for the ride that meant someone would be in the back seat.

Behind me.

Where I couldn’t see what he was doing. Not a good idea.

I think my brain was on strike that night because it only barely fazed me. My southern hospitality was going to get me killed. And there is even a saying for a situation like this. Don’t pick up hitchhikers. I mean that is the number one thing right up there with “Don’t take candy from strangers.”

What is wrong with me? My parents taught me better than this!

Sure enough she moved into the front passenger seat, and he sat in the back, straddling the middle so that I could see him in the rear view. But not really see what he was doing back there. I turned out onto North Avenue going West. My eyes darted from her to my rear view mirror to see him and then back to her. I barely remember the road, driving on instinct.

urban-legend-killer-backseat

“So, where is it I’m taking you?”

The woman answered quickly. “It’s only a couple of miles up the road.”

“Actually, we don’t need to go to the sitter’s. She’s taking the baby back to the house.” The smoker voice from the back jarred  me to the core. What the hell? Now I’m taking them home?

“Oh, then just continue on North.”

Again, I should have found a way to get them out of the car. But I was stuck taking them home. Somewhere my screams wouldn’t be heard by anyone.

I’ve been in three fights in my entire life. Two of them were won pretty quickly. The other was a losing battle, one of the few times where the other kid had been a little older and a little stronger. Mostly I observed what my grandfather had always told me: I better not ever start a fight, but I damn well better finish one that someone else started.

Those thoughts drifted into my mind while I tried to determine my best course of action. If they had a knife or something similar I might be able to put a hurt on one or both of them… if she had the blade. If he had the weapon, then I was going to need something of my own. But what else was there? A passing car’s lights illuminated the interior of the car and my eyes flashed to the keys dangling from the ignition. Rough edges of a weapon. It wasn’t much, but it might be better than naked fists.

Still I tried to think things through. I figured as long as I don’t do anything to set them off, or show that I know I am in trouble, it has to be in their best interest to wait until I get them to wherever their true destination was. Otherwise they might risk the chance that I drive the car off the road and try something now.

They made idle chat with me. A decade later, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about. I’m pretty sure that the most that escaped my lips was Yes, No, or I don’t know. I was too busy putting that math side of my brain to work trying to analyze the angles of this situation I’d gotten myself into. Plus it was hard to hear what either of them were saying due to my heart echoing throughout my body.

We drove and drove and drove, more and more minutes piling up on the odometer. Now I’ve taken North Avenue east many times on my journeys to hang out with friends, but I had never gone this far west on the road. Everything had long since become unfamiliar and I kept waiting for them to say something, to have me turn off, but more time passed and nothing. I had no idea how far we needed to go before I got them “home”, but I kept on, sure that terrible things awaited me.

Finally at some point we turned off North and then worked our way onto some of the more back roads.

For those unfamiliar with the layout of Atlanta, if you are in downtown and you drive more than about 20 minutes in any direction you will run into an interstate. Worst case you’ll hit the perimeter I-285. This is a road that loops around the city, encircling it.

Base Map 285

Yet, we had driven far enough and still I didn’t see a sign for the highway, nothing. Somehow I was in the backwoods of Georgia while still being in the city. It was as if they had managed to take me to a part of town where street lights were only a suggestion and not required. Long stretches went by with only my Sunbird’s headlights to show that the world outside the car even still existed. And I was driving these two random people up these roads I didn’t know existed.  And these roads were the type where I don’t even know how there was nothing on them. Very few houses. No restaurants or gas stations. It was like I’d crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Nothing made sense in my head. My heart pounded in my chest, threatening to explode.

dark road

What was I supposed to do? Call their bluff? Point out, ever so nicely, that I had only agreed to take one of them “a couple of miles” to their younger son?

I spotted a small cluster of lights in the distance. As we got closer I could see it was a convenience store, and then the night took a turn.

“Do you think we could stop up here? I need to get some cigarettes.” The way the man said the words and the paranoia in my brain combined to make me wonder whether it was a question or an order. So I pulled over.

“Would you like anything? A drink or something?”

Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do, let you get me a drink and somehow put a drug into it and then I’m missing a kidney or I’m dead or something.

I locked eyes with him in the rear view mirror. “No, thank you.”

The man exited the car, and I held my breath that the woman would follow. I slid my hand very casually so that it was resting on the gear shift.

They both get out of the car and I’m gunning it.

She didn’t budge. “Hey honey, get me a pack of smokes too while you’re in there.”

They were just playing with me now. I know it.

He returned a few minutes later and I wondered if the old guy had gone in and robbed the store (sometimes I still wonder this). They might already be ready to kill and eat me, but there was no telling how far they might go.

Hmm.

We journeyed for a bit longer. Again, I would say the exact amount, but I lost track. I think I’d been gone from Georgia Tech about 40 minutes by this point.

They both pointed out a side road to turn down… it was dirt. “Ours is the one on the end.”

Of course it is. Where else would you live but off a dirt road within the Atlanta city limits.

I stared out into the darkness, but couldn’t really find the beginnings of a structure to know where I might be going or for how far. My car’s shocks protested the pot holes and each bump caused my two passengers to shift in their seats. We began to climb a fairly steep hill, and when we finally came over the crest I caught site of their double-wide home.

This thing might have been nice looking once upon a time, but now, through either the elements, or lack of caring about what the shit-hole looked like, it could only remind me of something that should be condemned. Various bits of junk littered the yard and every redneck stereotype crept into my thoughts.

“Home.” My voice may have cracked with the hope that this was the end of our voyage. My own fight or flight on high alert.

The old man shifted in the backseat. “I just feel awful about making you drive all this way. I have some money in the house. If you could wait a minute I’ll run in and grab it for you.”

I shook my head. “That’s OK. I’m just glad I could get the two of you home.”

Liar! Just get the hell out of the car and let me go!

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Have a good night.”

They seemed to pause at that. And to this day I’m not sure about what they were thinking. Maybe this whole thing was just them trying to get home without needing to take the bus. Maybe they really had a son at Tech who they’d come to see. Maybe they had a younger son who they needed to get to, but then the sitter decided to bring him home instead of waiting for them to arrive.

Or maybe they had been planning on killing me the whole damn time.

Until I told them to have a good night. And that was the point they had a change of heart.

The two of them got out of the car, but before the wife could shut the door the man held it open and stuck his head back into the car.

Just gun it!

“You know how to get back?”

I nodded in the darkness even if he couldn’t see my action. “I’ll figure it out.”

“Alright. Take care.”

And with that he shut the door and I turned my car around and headed back to the paved streets. It was only then that I saw a sign for I-285. I may have taken it to just get my bearings (I honestly don’t remember). My body began shaking, the adrenaline pumping through my system for the better portion of an hour finally began to wear off. In a daze, I somehow managed to guide my car back to more familiar streets and then back to the dorm.

Somehow still alive.

I may not have slept well that night… or the next few.

So there you have it, The Stupidest thing I have ever done. My last good deed, ever.

Food Advice for April 1st

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

It’s come around again for me. No matter how hard I try to make the date change, it lurks in the shadows, waiting for me to not pay enough attention. It knows that as soon as I let my guard drop, that will be the true end of me. So I must remain diligent or else fall prey to the terribleness of April Fools’ Day.

You know, the day where every site likes to try and run some article to convince you of that horrible thing you’d hoped would never come true has, in fact, now come true. Or maybe you’d just like to read a little about an upcoming movie or comic… yet, can you be sure of any information you receive on that day?

Nay, I say!

Instead, I’d like to honor my least favorite day of the year by talking about the thing that feels like April Fools Day every day of the year.

***

Garlic Mashed Potatoes are not fancy.

I don’t know where you get off thinking that adding a little bit of garlic suddenly makes them a dish to feed to kings and dignitaries. I don’t care what the cooking shows have told you. They aren’t improved by such additions. Instead, the garlic actually takes away from the perfection of the dish.

The beauty is in the simpleness of the dish. Heck, the simpleness of the food itself.

It’s Potatoes that are mashed, with butter and milk and maybe salt. That’s pretty much it.

It’s a basic dish. Potatoes are basic.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

And that’s OK.

This was never supposed to be a dish served at the five star resturants. You know, those places where the amount of food on the dish is quarter sized? Where the food is so fancy, you don’t know which fork to use to eat?

Mashed Potatoes are supposed to be served as a way to try and take up every spare inch of your plate. It should be a question of what might fall to the floor, that’s the amount of mashed you need. It is comfort food. It is pure goodness.

Stop trying to make it something it isn’t.

Please.

***

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 13

Six 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 five 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.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

Part 12 is here.

 

January 8

 

One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.

Stephen Hawking

 

February 11

 

What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

 

March 8

 

The very essence of romance is uncertainty.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance Of Being Earnest And Other Plays

 

April 9

 

And I guess I realized at that moment that I really did love her. Because there was nothing to gain, and that didn’t matter.

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

May 5

 

My heart, it feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. NO demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.

Stardust

 

June 7

 

I want you. All of you. Your flaws. Your mistakes. Your imperfections. I want you, and only you.

Anonymous

July 10

 

A true relationship is two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other.

Anonymous

 

August 4

 

Love and hope can conquer hate.

Barack Obama

 

September 7

 

Give a man a ball, he will be happy for a day.

Give a man a woman, he’ll be happy for a night.

Give a man a woman who loves football, he will be happy for life!

Anonymous

 

October 7

 

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.

Og Mandino

November 5

 

And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.

Kiersten White, The Chaos Of Stars

 

December 4

 

You’re my everything. Everything else is just… everything else.

Anonymous

 

***

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

Being an Advocate for Yourself

… Because you can’t count on other people doing it for you.

This idea has come up recently in my life. The idea that sometimes just showing up and doing good work may not be enough to get what you believe you deserve (or have earned). The mere fact that you’ve written a comic or a novel or short story or screen play or whatever doesn’t guarentee anything at all. There are other aspects that you have to be able to do, to help grow your potential fanbase, to help more and more readers find your wares.

But this isn’t about the marketing parts of being an independent writer. This isn’t about trying to do a mailing list every month or bi-weekly or weekly (which I am the worst at doing). This isn’t about the ads you need to run in order to drive people to your books.

It isn’t even about writing more books.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Except, maybe it is about all of those things. I gotta admit, I’m not entirely sure of exactly what it consists of.

I struggle with it. The thought of needing to pitch myself to every person I meet. Cold opening somehow letting people know that I write is not in my DNA currently. I do much better with a wingman/wingwoman who can do the whole “Did you know John writes?” Then I can launch into a conversation about it and we’re off to the races.

To be able to have a confidence that not only are your ideas and words good enough for their money, but also that they are good enough for their time. I’m not writing to get rich (though I wouldn’t turn it down, to be sure). I write because something in me makes me want to spill my thoughts onto the page. My hope is that someone else will read something of mine and come away with it having left an impression on them.

So how do I manage to be that advocate for myself? How do I find that spot in random interactions? How do I make sure that someone is willing to take a chance on a short story? A Kickstarter?

How do you prove your worth to those who have no idea who you are? How do you prove your worth to those who do know you?

No one else is going to do it for you. And I’m not sure anyone can really teach you what you need to do. My hope is that I get better at it with practice (at conventions, in online conversations, in random interactions).

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Maybe this is one of those take a small step forward every now and then and soon enough, you’ll have come a long way?

I certainly hope so.

***

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

Another Year Around the Sun

I’ll be celebrating another birthday early next week. Another trip around the sun as they say. I’ll be 47 which feels like one of those ages that is insane for me to process. It’s not one of the bigger ones… 18…21…25…30…40..50..60… but for some reason it feels like one of those ages a younger version of me wouldn’t even understand. Not that I’m a wild child and “never expected to make it this far”, but more in the idea of how did I get to be 47? It sometimes feels like it was only yesterday that I was back in college, wondering when that portion of my life was going to end so that I could move on to that next stage of things.

***

My first memory is when I was 4ish. I remember seeing Star Wars at a drive in theater. I remember the moment the movie started and the space battle and the Star Destroyer that ate up the majority of the screen.

And I don’t know if that is the truth.

***

At some point it switches, right? Early on in life, we are in a hurry to get older, because through getting older we obtain a greater freedom. You get older and you get to stay up late. Stay home by yourself. Learn to drive. Go to college. Get a job. Get married.

And so on.

Sometime in there you need to start enjoying the current status you have obtained. Somewhere in there you need to make sure that you aren’t still living for the weekend. That you are happy with the life you have chosen (or perhaps the life that chose you). It means taking a little time to make sure you appreciate where you were, with those little dreams and big dreams and everything else in between. From that very first memory you have all the way to the next time you lay your head down to sleep. Every little moment has led you to this place. This moment in time. This mental state. For good or bad, we are what our experiences are.

***

You see, the movie certainly could have been playing a drive in theater in 1979. But there is another part of me who wonders if my mind constructed this memory from pieces of a dream. But then I remind myself that I would have to had seen it on the big screen back then. And I know I saw Empire Strikes Back (twice in the theater) and knew what it was. Knew what had happened before.

But I never can truly know, right?

***

We can never know where our path is going to go. Sometimes you need a kick in the ass to actually get moving on your dreams.

***

About 13 years ago, I was laid off.

I had dabbled with ideas for short stories. Dabbled with ideas for things that might make a cool novel. I’d even written some short comic stories.

I’m not sure if it would have become much more than that had I not been laid off. If my wife hadn’t told me to “just write it already”.

***

Star Wars, like so many others, has become a part of my life. My history. My lexicon. I remember the Special Editions and taking my future wife to see the movies for the “first time”. The moment in the theater with my friends as the opening scroll of the Prequels began and we all cheered.

***

Did that all happen because its my first memory? Or was I destined to fall in love with those movies?

Did the words I’ve written happen because I was laid off? Or would I have always found my way to writing?

I hope that I would have found my way to where I was writing in some capacity, but I was already in my 30s at that point and hadn’t pulled the trigger. So what makes me think that I would have changed my path.

But I grabbed the opportunity.

***

So I take another pass around the sun. Some memories as fresh as when they were made and others buried somewhere deep in my subconcious, waiting for the moment to come back to the surface to remind me of a lesson I need to learn, straighten out my current path, or just give me a smile on a rough 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

Why Are There So Many Crazies On The Road?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

My day job is being a Road Designer. I often joke that it really is to close ramps on I-285 (which is the perimeter around Atlanta) so that people continualy drive in circles, never to be able to get off the roadway. The thing is that I sometimes get excited about stupid engineering things on roads which my wife torments me about all the time. Mostly it is me looking at something and wondering why they did X or Y thing.

Roundabouts as far as the eye can see

My wife started working for a company based out of Indiana a couple of years ago, and as those things go, she had to take a trip up north. When she returned she had a bit of trivia for me:

“Where are there more roundabouts than anywhere else in the United States?”

“I have no idea.”

“Carmel, Indiana.”

So I looked at Google Earth, searching for these endless roundabouts. Because the way she tells it, you drive from one roundabout into another one to the point she actually said she felt a little car sick from the motion.

I can’t find anything.

Well, I can find some. Here or there, but nothing like she is describing. In my mind there are a few more than normal, but nothing that would get you in the record books.

But she continues with this story for the next year and a half. Until this past December when we decide to go up for the Holiday Party. Now, again, she is trying to prep me for the insanity we are about to experience. I half feel like my head will explode when we finally get there.

Yet, from the airport to the hotel… nothing. From the hotel to the resturant… nothing. A different way back to the hotel… nothing.

I’m pretty sure my wife is gaslighting me now. Until I talk to one of her coworkers the following day, and they point us to the right direction.

And she was right. There was roundabout after roundabout. There were double lane. There were single lane. There were ones that looked like infinity symbols.

And everyone seemed to know what they were doing. In fact, the only times that there was an issue was a random stop sign in the middle of the downtown area. That one had every driver confused as we sat there waiting for someone to make the first move. Apparently they are much better with Yield Signs than Stop Signs.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A form of Road Rage, I guess

I find as I have gotten older, the one thing that sets me off are people not driving the speed limit. Now, I’m not talking about speeding. I could care less about you going too fast on a road (within reason). No, I’m talking about all the people who are in front of me on my drive home and won’t drive 45 mph. They go 35 or maybe tease me with a 40.

The thing is, if you have your hazards on… go as slow as you need. But that’s not what is happening. These are the regular streets where these people likely drive every day. If it only happened once in a while, I might not think anything about it, but it happens multiple times in a week. And I fume.

It’s not really a big deal, but it is like they are stealing my life from me. I could be home a whole 20 seconds earlier. I could be at the resturant with friends. But no, I’m forced to crawl behind you because you can’t be bothered to look at the speed limit.

The One Question I Always Get

I feel like most people, when they tell someone what they do for a living have some standard questions they get over and over. I feel like medical professionals are immediately asked about something that might be ailing the person. A lawyer normally is solicited for advise about something.

When you are a glamerous Civil Enginer who designs roads, you always get some form of the following:

“Oh, so you design roads? Do you know what’s going on at the corner of Random Road and State Route 999?”

Everytime.

It never fails.

And I have to let them know that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of ongoing roadway projects and I work on about a dozen or so in the course of a year. So, no, I have NO IDEA what you are refering to, nor do I know why they have closed 7 lanes and aren’t working for the last month. Not a clue.

Save for one time. One time I was talking to a friend’s mom, and she hit me up with The Question… and I actually knew the project. I had worked on it. For once I was actually able to answer nearly all the questions someone had.

It was a minor miracle.

***

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

 

Nine Years In

 

As we turn the page on 2022, I like to take a minute and highlight some of the posts that I’m either especially proud of, posts I think deserve a second look, or just ones that struck me as worth highlighting.

Physical and Digital Copies Still Available! https://john-mcguire.square.site/

Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

Last year Egg Embry and I launched a Kickstarter for out comic book In Our Dreams Awake. While it was a bit more of a struggle to get across the $$ finish line we’d set, we managed to get it done and out. As we are preparing to at least do a Kickstarter launch for issue 2 this year, this was a comic project over 15 years in the making, with lots of twists and turns. It became that project I was sure would never see the light of day, and now we’re nearly 1/2 through the story. The post linked above takes you down that road with us.

 

Getting Scolded

One of the things I can struggle with as a writer (and a person) is not taking the time to appreciate my victories. Most of the time it is simply easier to focus on our failures instead. Focus on all the little things we haven’t done. Lament the list of things we should be doing. So I wrote this as a reminder to myself to celebrate how far I’ve come (even if I have a lot more to go).

 

Gen Con 2022 Recap – Part Two

There is a Part One which I also think is worth reading, but Part Two has some details on both the best game of the convention and the worst game at the convention… all within hours of each other.

 

The Reason Why – The Echo Effect

One of the things this blog is supposed to do is highlight my works (prose and comics) to those who might stumble upon it. However, I’m the first to admit I’m not the best at marketing myself. This year I decided to lean into an idea of telling those potential readers the reason why I wrote the stories. Sometimes it was where the idea came from or perhaps just an incident which ended up in a tale. But I liked taking a few minutes over the course of two months laying out my “Why”.

***

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 – Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club

This is a week of rest. A week to recover from not only the last month and a half but from the last year as well. And it is also a time to reflect back on everything. This marks the end of my ninth year writing a blog (nearly every week, I think I’ve missed 1 over all that time and that was not planned, life just got me). So with that, I thought I’d go back to nearly the very beginning for a Christmas-ish repost about how the relationship between my sister and I changed for the better due to time spent together watching a not-very-Christmasy movie: The Breakfast Club.

***

I mostly recall fighting with my sister as we grew up.

Oh, sure, there were those times where we hung out and acted civilized to one another. Obviously, we loved each other, but more times than not my memories are of her chasing me around the house with a knife (this happened on more than one occasion) or me throwing a bouncy ball at her and her friends (“just leave me alone!”). Fights over whose night it was to do the dishes, and somehow her twisting things so that it was miraculously my night more times than not (you would think that I would have marked it on the calendar, but I didn’t). Heck, fights over trying to get her to “play Transformers right” (“No, they aren’t going to play friends!”).

dinobots

These guys don’t want to be friends. They are dinosaurs! This isn’t the Land Before Time!

So when I went away for college (or actually more to the point, my parents moved from Georgia up to Richmond, Virginia… the joke being that since I didn’t go far enough away to school, they needed to put some distance between us), I did not expect that to change very much. That first quarter I’m not sure how much, if at all, we really talked on the phone. I was trying to get accustomed to a whole new experience, living on my own, etc. And she was in the process of starting high school in a brand new school, in a state she had lived a total of about 3 months. Sufficed to say, we were busy.

Then Christmas Break was upon me, and I made the trek northward, not exactly sure how that would be (I lived in that house a total of 2 weeks before moving into the dorm, so it wasn’t like I was going “home”… I was going to the house where my family resided – a huge difference). My sister’s room was over the garage, which really meant that she had the largest room in the house. At the opposite end of the top floor from the parents, she could pretty much listen to music as loud as she wanted, stay up as late as she cared to, and so on. Somehow, during one of those first nights I decided (or maybe she suggested it) hanging out with her up there. After some talking, she popped in The Breakfast Club for us to watch.

breakfastclub

And we bonded.

Thus began a tradition we maintained for probably 6-8 years. Every quarter break I would return home and at some point we would sit down, normally around midnight, and watch that movie.

We expanded to various other 80’s movies Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Princess Bride, Adventures in Babysitting, The Goonies,  insert your favorite, we probably watched it. But not Ghostbusters 2 or Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I love both of those movies  but those are two we watched with my brother far too many times over the course of about 3 summers when he was 2 to about 5, so we had that one memorized. We recorded both of those from HBO on one VHS tape and in an effort to make sure he didn’t disturb our mother (who worked nights) would put that tape in and he’d sit content as could be. It got to the point that we were so sick of watching those two that my sister tore the name tag/tape off of it and he still knew which one it was.

S-VHS-cassette-tape

But I digress.

Those movies somehow became a part of us and our relationship. A chance to finally connect over common interests, which had eluded us for so very long when we were younger. Maybe we saw something within that one movie that spoke to each of us. Her just starting high school and me just starting college. That awkwardness of not knowing what the future will hold. Worried about how others perceived each of us. How those characters on the screen summed up much of each of us.

Perhaps it also was this place where our differences could be represented within these characters. The beautiful thing about that movie is that every single one of us is not just one aspect of the nerd or the criminal or the jock or the basket case or the princess, but made up of multiple ones. As they became friends on screen, I’d like to think that my sister and I became friends beyond just being family. That we could see our differences and embraced those things which formally put us at odds.  In those moments, I think we felt like it was us against the rest of them (whomever “them” may be on any particular day). Not quite kids, not yet adults, at times feeling like outsiders to the greater world.

It seems weird that this movie, which came out when I was 9 and my sister was 4 has come to mean so much to our relationship. A movie that when it is on TV I’ll end up watching, wading through commercials (even though I own the DVD).

Or how the lines still creep into my everyday talk (for better or worse):

bull and horns

“You mess with the bull, you get the horns.”

“Don’t talk, don’t talk, you’ll make it crawl back up.” (I use this one far more than I probably should)

“Impossible sir, they’re in Johnson’s underpants.”

Nothing wrong with having a little John Hughes dialogue running through my brain.

So thank you, Breakfast Club, for showing me how to get along with my sister and her with me.

***

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 12

Six 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 five 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.

Part 10 is here.

Part 11 is here.

January 5

 

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

 

February 10

 

There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness.

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

March 7

 

Never stop doing little things for others. Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart.

Anonymous

 

April 5

 

When I am with you, we stay up all night.

When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for those two insomnias!

And the difference between them.

Jalaluddin Rumi

 

May 2

 

I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me.

Steve Maraboli, Life, The Truth, And Being Free

June 6

 

It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.

Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

 

July 8

 

I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems And A Song Of Despair

 

August 3

 

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Anonymous

 

September 6

 

When you kiss me my whole world vanishes.

Anonymous

 

October 6

 

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.

Albert Einstein

 

November 4

 

I love you more than any word can say. I love you more than every action I take. I’ll be right here loving your till the end.

Anonymous

December 2

 

Love has given me wings so I must fly.

A Knight’s Tale

 

***

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

Reflections on Christmas Past

The Truth Hurts

My roommate in college had a great story from the holidays. He’d gotten a gift, a large box, not too heavy, but there was definitely some weight to it. He was young (probably 8 to 10 years old I believe), so while his spidey sense was there in regards to what the shape of the box might contain, this one didn’t trip any alarms. Finally, it was time, and he dove into this gift, tearing the wrapping paper asunder, he popped his fingers under the gaps in the box and ripped the tape… only to reveal clothes. Clothes, clothes, and more clothes. So he turned to the person the gift was from, and spoke (in a voice as loud as he could make it given his youth):

“Clothes AREN’T gifts!”

 

A Cruel Trick

Growing up a Jehovah’s Witness meant that a part of my family didn’t celebrate Christmas, but, because my parents were divorced, I still got gifts from my Aunt, Uncle, and grandparents. Which meant, I was making my own list of all the items I could never afford. And for much of my youth, that meant Transformers figures. You see, back in the day, they had two different-sized figures. The smaller ones (like Bubblebee) were around $5 or $6 (if I’m remembering correctly). They were just the right amount that maybe, just maybe, if your parents were in a good enough mood on your visit to Wal-Mart, you could convince them to spring for a new one. The other group was the larger ones. This would have been the Megatrons and the Optimus Prime sized figures and I have no idea how much they cost, but it seemed like they were in the $30s.

Something that expensive was definitely out of my reach.

So I would make out a list (after scanning through the Sears Catalogue) of all the Transformers I wanted so that when I was asked by my dad, I would have them ready to pass along to my relatives. And I was very reasonable, normally only asking for one or two of the more expensive figures (OK, maybe like five or six of them, but still), knowing that if I put a few different names on there, the better the chance they would have to find them in Albany. And then I waited until the promised day. The packages were ready to get opened, and I could only imagine which toys I’d actually gotten. I opened that first one and saw a smaller package… hey, no big deal. A Transformer is a Transformer.

Except, it didn’t have a Transformer label. It had a Go-Bot label. For those not in the know, the Go-Bots were like knock-offs of Transformers. They were a little cheaper in price and generally all the same size. And they “transformed” which I’m assuming a bunch of out-of-the-loop adults took to mean they were Transformers.

A cruel trick from the rival toy companies.

Image by Pawel Grzegorz from Pixabay

You’ll Never Guess

As I said above, my mother’s side of the family were Witnesses, which meant Christmas wasn’t observed (nor were birthdays, ugh), but we did do a sort of “Gift Day” over the years where we exchanged presents, but we didn’t do any of the other stuff. There were no stockings or trees or decorations or any of that stuff. Sometimes Gift Day occurred in January, other times it was more convenient to have it on December 25th.

After I went off to college, it was the longest time I was away from home. I flew up for Thanksgiving, and then come December, it was time for Winter Break. Maybe a week or so before it was time to drive up to Richmond, I get a call from my sister.

“You’ll never guess what is sitting in our living room right now.”

After playing 20 questions, I still didn’t have a clue, so my sister blurted it out.

“A Christmas Tree.”

I thought for sure that she was making a joke. Figured that she’d have a good laugh once I walked in the front door and saw nothing out the of the ordinary. But when I arrived at the house, I walked into the Living Room and sure enough, a huge tree, covered in ornaments and decorations and anything else you could think of. Even with the foreknowledge, I was floored by this.

(And there has been one up every year since.)

***

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 6

Even though these last couple of years have introduced the Work From Home model of hybrid life to me, I still spend a ton of time in the office, which means 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. here, and here.

I Wouldn’t Say He Had a Poker Face.

Many years ago, a couple of co-workers and myself, made it a nearly daily ritual of going somewhere for lunch. It was a good way to get out of the office, and a better way to spend time than staring at the computer screen at our desks. However, it turns out that even with a plethora of options near the office, you will eventually run out of new places to eat. And the repetitions may or may not start to wear on you. I think in our rotation we had Wendys, Mellow Mushroom, and Chick fil la.
However, it turned out that on one particular day, none of us could determine where we wanted to eat (much like many married couples). I suggested that old standby of Chick Fil A, and my friend James made a face like I’d offered him the worst/grossest thing he’d ever heard.
From that day onward, anytime he gave us that particular look, we referred to it as the “Chick Fil A Face”.

Clean, Old Fashion Hate

In Civil Engineering there have been two dominant programs that we use for drafting: Microstation and Autocad. Typically (in Georgia), Microstation is used for roadway projects and Autocad is used for site design projects. This really means that because you don’t have a choice once you’ve chosen your path, you also must hate the other program with a passion. No matter what is presented to you, you have no choice but to hate the program, the person running the program, and potentially any offspring they might have.
Or in the terms of Nick Miller (from the tv show New Girl), “I will teach my kids to hate his kids, and I expect him to do the same.”
For me, it wasn’t quite so clear. See my first two years on the job I pretty much used both programs every day. Sometimes in the morning I would be working on one type of project and then in the afternoon, a completely different type. I had to retrain my brain to use both because they do some things very backward. In one, you double-click to do something in the other program you only right-click. For the most part, I can see the benefits of both but am much savvier in Microstation.
But one of my co-workers couldn’t accept that. You see, he used both and there was a clear winner in his mind: Autocad. And no amount of discussion was going to change his mind. I believe I wore him down over time until he finally gave his line in the sand:
“Autocad is better because you can print directly to the plotter from the program, while in Microstation, you have to create a pdf first.”
Now, this was news to me, as I had been printing directly to the plotter from Microstation since the first day I started working. But he didn’t believe me. Until I brought in some plot drivers I’d used at a different company and demonstrated it. There was silence for a moment, I think his brain must have been spinning to try and figure a way to save face or something. Instead, he went another way.
“Yeah, well… Microstation still sucks.”

Image by Tiny Tribes from Pixabay

Children Work Here
This one is a very recent entry in my career as one of my coworkers has plenty of theories about life that he likes to share with the rest of us. I have told him he should write them down, but I doubt he’ll take me up on it, so I’ve decided to record this one for the future generations!
We were having lunch one day when the discussion of wings and spice and heat came up. I volunteered that I wasn’t really a spicy wing guy as I don’t find much pleasure in trying to kill myself with my food (at least not in that way), and would rather enjoy my meal (and not suffer the consequences later). In the process, I made my mistake. I admitted that I probably liked boneless wings better than the real thing.
Had I been in Buffalo, I would have never said such a thing, but I thought I was safe here in Georgia. However, he looked at me, with a smirk, and said “Boneless wings are for children.”
I didn’t have a response, and when I thought about it, they are basically chicken nuggets which my nephew pretty much only eats. So, after some dilberation, I think he may be correct.
Of course, I’m not going to stop eating them because I’m an adult… and I’ll do whatever I want! 🙂

***

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 11

Six 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 five 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.

Part 10 is here.

 

January 3

 

Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs;

The ones who accept you for who you are.

The ones who would do anything to see you smile

And who love you no matter what.

Natavia, Who Wants That Perfect Love Story Anyway

 

February 9

 

Romance is thinking about your significant other, when you should be thinking of something else.

Nicholas Sparks

March 6

 

Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being.

Rumi

 

April 4

 

I sustain myself with the love of family.

Maya Angelou

 

May 1

 

To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow- this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

 

June 5

 

For he would be thinking of love

Till the stars had run away

And the shadows eaten the moon.

W. B. Yeats, Selected Poems and Four Plays

July 2

 

If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy.

Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.

Bob Marley, Guitar Chord Songbook – Bob Marley

 

August 1

 

I’d rather have bad times with you, than good times with someone else.

I’d rather be beside you in a storm, than safe and warm by myself.

I’d rather have hard tomes together, than to have it easy apart.

I’d rather have the one who holds my heart.

Anonymous

 

September 5

 

I always say that there is no greater act of courage than to be the one who kisses first.

Mad About You

October 5

 

Live, and be happy, and make others so.

Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein

 

November 3

 

But I love your feet only because they walked upon the earth and upon the wind and upon the waters, until they found me.

Pablo Neruda

 

December 1

 

Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight, someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight.

Linda Ronstadt

 

***

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 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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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