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.

***

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

***

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

 

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – COVID Through the Eyes of a Cat

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love for Everyday – Part 10

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

Part 8 is here.

Part 9 is here.

 

January 30

 

And when you turned to me and smiled,

It took my breath away

And I have never had such a feeling

Such a feeling of complete and utter love,

As I do tonight.

Chris de Burgh, Lady in Red

February 28

 

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

Plato

March 31

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

Shmuley Boteach

 

April 30

 

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

Albert Einstein

 

 

May 29

 

You will always be my greatest adventure…

Up

June 30

 

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

Anonymous

 

 

July 31

 

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

Maya Angelou

 

August 31

 

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

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

September 1

 

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

Juno

 

 

October 15

 

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

Anonymous

November 30

 

To get the full value of joy

You must have someone to divide it with.

Mark Twain

 

 

December 6

 

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

Dr. Seuss

 

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 5

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

Not Charlotte’s Web

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

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

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

It didn’t kill it.

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

Home Movies

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

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

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

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

 

Second and Third and Fourth Opinions

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

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

Might be a little demeaning.

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

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

Why indeed.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Tales from the Cubicle – Part 4

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

This Man Is Losing His Mind!

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

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

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

“How young are you?”

“How do you not know X thing?”

“What is going on?”

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

Don’t Worry, I Have A Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every Damn Day

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Twelve Angry Men or Maybe It’s Jury Time Again

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

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

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

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

Which actually increased my faith in the system.

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

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

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

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

All of us answered yes.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Eight Years and Counting

 

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

Love’s Labour’s Liabilities – Postscript

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

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

A Love Renewed?

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

And then one day, I had to stop.

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

Karnivool, My Pandemic Band

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

Westley

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

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

 

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Turn the Page on 2021

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

“What are you currently working on?”

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

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

Love’s Labour’s Liabilities

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

I wrote a Postscript about the Zine here.

 

M.S. Wordsmith Interview

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

You can find the interview here.

 

Blog Posts

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

 

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

 

Looking Forward

 

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

In Our Dreams Awake

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

 

S.O.U.L. Mate

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

 

Short Stories

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

 

The Untold Series

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

 

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Let Me Sleep, It’s Christmas Time

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

This is a problem.

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

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

Her being stressed out stresses me out, but…

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

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

A Love For Everyday – 8

 

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

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

 

January 4

 

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

Mark Twain

 

February 7

 

If I could have just one wish,

I would wish to wake up everyday

To the sound of your breath on my neck,

The warmth of your lips on my cheek,

The touch of your fingers on my skin,

And the feel of your heart beating with mine…

Knowing that I could never find that feeling

With anyone other than you.

Courtney Kutchta, If I Could Have One Wish

 

March 2

Never look for a good face,

It will turn old one day.

Never look for a good skin,

It will wrinkle one day.

Never look for a hot body,

It will change one day.

Never look for nice hair,

It will turn white one day.

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

Anonymous

 

April 7

 

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

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 

 

May 24

 

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

Anonymous

 

June 13

 

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

Dakota Skye

 

 

July 6

 

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

Pearl Jam, Wishlist

 

August 5

 

Know that love is truly timeless.

Mary M. Ricksen

September 2

 

A kiss blown

Is a kiss wasted,

The only real kiss,

Is a kiss tasted.

Anonymous

 

 

October 4

 

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

Dracula

 

November 28

 

And suddenly all the love songs were about you.

Anonymous

 

 

December 16

 

My heart is, and always will be, yours.

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

 

 

 

 

 

Westley

Westley at age 8. Sitting at the window.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our house wasn’t a home without her.

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

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

And they healed our hearts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtney and Westley in his first snow.

But he was always my perfect cat no matter what.

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

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

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

Westley curled up in my arms while Inigo looks on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westley helping with the Gilded Age Kickstarter fulfillment.

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

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

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

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

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

My snuggle buddy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westley in mid-yawn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m raw and exposed right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

In fact, he was the best boy.

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

Me with my boys.

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost: He’ll See Me On The Flipside

I’m 7-years old. The kid across from me has issued a challenge to me. We’re both to submit to the Sissy Test. We take our erasers and rub the skin on the back of our hands. Back and forth until the skin is raw. The first one to be in too much pain is the loser.

I won.

Office-pink-erasers

****

I’m 38-years old typing this blog and take a look at the mark on my left hand. The tattoo of my own making. It is the second reward for winning the Sissy Test.

****

I’m 7-years old and my mother is whipping me for being stupid enough to scar myself. This is my first reward.

****

In my defense, the act of rubbing the skin with the eraser never actually hurt. Once the other kid bailed I kept going for a little bit longer, surprised by the lack of pain. It wasn’t until one of the kids surrounding us told me to spit on it.

Then the pain came.

time_travel

It’s a strange thing, the past. The person you were and the person you currently are never get to meet. There is a younger version of you who has made every decision in your life. Every decision that may still affect you now. The so-called dominoes of our lives.

****

I’m 18-years old. In front of me is my acceptance letter to the Georgia Institute of Technology to study Computer Science.

****

I’m 19-years old and after 3 quarters at Ga. Tech I’m finally given authorization to change my major to Civil Engineering. Somewhere in my brain I have decided that my true goal is to design a bridge.

Thru-Truss-Bridge-drawing

Prior to this, Civil Engineering was pretty much an industry that I picked out of thin air. Really. I’m still not sure why exactly that major was the one I went with.

****

I’m 38-years old and I have designed plenty of roads and highways and interstates, but I have never designed a bridge.

****

I’m 24-years old and I have to decide which offer to choose. What job will be my first to set my course by? Maybe this will be a situation where this is the company I’m with until I retire many years from now.

I end up making my choice mostly on the basis of starting salary.

****

These aren’t decisions that I worry about so much. I genuinely like my day job (90% of the time), which makes me one of the lucky ones. But it doesn’t change the fact that a guy, fresh out of high school, made a major life decision for me. Then again, a fresh out of college guy is choosing where I’m going to go to work.  I’m wondering if either were even qualified to make such huge choices…

One of my best friends in the world shared a video with me yesterday from a camping trip a group of us took in 1996. Maybe that’s why my brain has become transfixed with these images of the past. Some key moments, others I just want to dwell in for a little while. I watch and see this 20-year old me with his friends, talking about nothing , but we all seem happy to be there in that moment together.

I wish we had recorded more of that evening. Even if utter nonsense flowed from our mouths, even if the jokes told were not fit for mixed company, every second reminds me of a time before responsibilities of  life crept in. Before friends moved away to pursue their own dreams.

Years later it seems like I’m chasing the weekends, wondering when I might find the time to see a friend, talk on the phone, or just hang out. Some of the people on the video I haven’t talked to face to face in a long time, and it makes me sad. But there is another part of me that is happy to know, to see that time when we were all together. That we have that shared experience with one another, and while memories may fade through time, bits and pieces of that weekend will always bind us.

Time moves fast and it moves slow. It’s like it has a mind of its own. I could say that the last 18 years have passed by in the blink of an eye, but that would be a lie. The memories which make us who we are get compiled day by day. And yet, we put things on a calendar to look forward to them and then forget to enjoy them when we are there, in that moment.

I acknowledge this and I am still guilty as I pen a portion of this blog on scrap pieces of paper at work. I’m counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until it is time to go home.

****

I’m 11-years old and my new friend Lee has pushed a weird novel across a cluster of desks.

“Read this”, he says.

“I don’t read books.”

“Read it.”

On a Pale Horse

****

I’m 38-years old and tell my wife that all I’d really like to do this weekend is read.

****

I’m 34-years old and the company that I work for has just informed me I’ve been laid off. I stifle the tears while I’m speaking with my boss. Not only would crying be “unmanly”, but probably not the most professional. Though I’m not sure why that would matter in the moment, I try my best to exude a calmness. The peaceful exterior lasts until I make it outside of the building and am alone. I dial the numbers and then breakdown when my wife answers the phone.

****

I’m 34-years old and I’m talking to my wife about story idea 100476.

“You should just write it. You’ve got the time.”

“But I don’t know anything about it other than what I’ve told you.”

“Write it.”

****

I’m 20-years old in the video and see that the girl beside me is the woman who will become my wife in a few years time. I may not remember every thought he had, but I remember knowing that this was the girl I would marry. She was the one.

****

I’m 34-years old and the words pour out of me onto the computer screen filling the white with the black ants under each keystroke. The house is dark and quiet and the words continue to flow.

****

I’m 17-years old and the girl I’ve worked with for over a year at Kroger has agreed to go out with me. I’m nervous beyond belief.

****

I’m 37-years old and my wife’s hand is resting in mine, both our fingers ready to click the publish button on my first book.

It’s a new world.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

The Van Gogh Experience

Van Gogh – Stary Night Over The Rhone

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

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

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

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

Van Gogh – Wheatfield with Crows

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

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

Sometimes because it was a beautiful thought:

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

“There is peace even in the storm.”

 

To tragic:

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Silence the doubts.

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Dead Don’t Die

Funny Cat Work From Home Office Meme

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty much an actual picture from my office desk.

I hadn’t needed any of it.

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

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

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

Well, you get the picture.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

The Reboot

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

A Love Renewed?

Many years ago I was betrayed by a comic storyline.

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

***

Then came One More Day.

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

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

***

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

I’m invested.

***

I stopped reading Spider-Man comics at that moment.

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

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

He wasn’t wrong.

***

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

And still, I didn’t buy the comic.

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com