How to spot and ignore fake news stories

Can we talk?

Look…

I don’t know whether or not fake news influenced the election.

I don’t know…and I don’t care.

But what I do know is this: an incredible amount of otherwise intelligent-seeming people have started a trend on the internet: posting (and believing) news stories that are so obviously false, it injures everyone’s eyes to see. They’re doing it at a higher rate than ever. It’s gone from one fake story per week to several every day. It’s obnoxious. And more than that, it’s sad.

No, Conor McGregor didn’t retire due to some random scandal.

Will Smith didn’t assassinate Trump.

The President didn’t ban the Star Spangled Banner at all sporting events.

All the stay-at-home moms in Connecticut didn’t rake in $20,000 per week using some ‘weird trick.’

It’s getting exhausting. And embarrassing. And by embarrassing I don’t mean for the people and sites who post the fake drivel. Those people, classless as they are, are just trying to earn money. No, by embarrassing I’m talking about the people who believe in clickbait and fake news stories. The people who click on it. The people who share it and try to spread it as though it were gospel.

It feels like some of us are able to spot fake news at a glance, but others have no idea that they’re getting worked up by stories that aren’t even close to being true. People are gobbling this stuff up. And while it’s not as if lies and propaganda are new things, the existence of the internet changes the game. It means everyone is exposed. Always.

More importantly…

Facebook and other sites aren’t going to meaningfully crack down on fake stuff. See, Facebook gets paid to run these ads, and the content doesn’t appear to matter. For example, I sponsor business ads on Facebook and Twitter to promote my books, art, and other materials. But when I flip over to my personal page and glimpse the kinds of ads that appear, it isn’t cool, creative stuff I see. It isn’t interesting at all. It’s spam. It’s how some douchey guy made millions because of his non-existent genius. It’s how some celebrity died tragically (they didn’t) or some congressman murdered his dog (his dog is fine.) It’s fake news, usually some politically polarizing junk or straight up scammy garbage designed to get a click, spread a lie, and earn the offending website cash.

It kills me that people believe this stuff. It hurts my human sensibilities. How are we this dumb, this unable to see through super transparent BS? How is it people aren’t able to distinguish between satirical articles and maliciously fake trash?  I think I secretly know the answer (some of us want the fake news articles to be true, particularly the political stuff) but I’m willing to reserve judgment.

No. Actually I’m not. I’m totally judging.

Here’s just a splash of recent fake news headlines people actually believed: (These are the actual headlines, some of which have 10,000 or more Facebook ‘shares.’)

BREAKING: Hillary Clinton files for divorce.”

Remember the voting days: Republicans vote on Tuesday, 11/8 and Democrats vote on Wednesday, 11/9!”

Tens of Thousands of Scientists Declare Climate Change a HOAX!”

“President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning the Sale of Assault Weapons!”

“IT BEGINS: Watch Cops Drag Girl out of NC Bathroom for not Looking Like a Woman.”

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Presently, there’s an article out there listing 130 sites that either promote fake news or use misleading, clickbait-ish headlines. Whether or not every single site listed is actually fake or not isn’t important. What’s important is that from several of these sites, dozens or even hundreds of articles are poured into the internet every day. Misleading articles. Biased articles. Editorials masquerading as journalistic truth. Fake stuff that people you know have read and consumed as if it’s 100% factual.

Here’s what’s up:

You can’t rely on the internet to week out fake news.

It’s not going to stop. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.

It’s on you to stop it, not Mark Zuckerberg.

There are several articles out there (here’s one) discussing methods of outsmarting fake news. They’re good articles in spirit, but ultimately they’re not simple enough. The kind of people who need to learn how to spot fake news aren’t going to read an ad-riddled, image-filled epic novel about the topic.

It’s really not that complicated.

It’s actually pretty easy.

To eliminate fake news from your consciousness, what you need to do is:

Stop getting your news from Facebook and Twitter. Just stop. Right now

Be automatically skeptical of anything (not just news) you read anywhere on the internet

If something is obviously inflammatory toward a public figure, assume it’s BS until proven otherwise

Especially when using social media, assume anything other than cat pictures and cute photos of your friends’ kids is fake

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Being an honest, conscientious citizen in the modern world involves more than just basic knowledge of how to click through the internet.  You need to step up your game and double down on your critical thinking skills. It isn’t being pessimistic or paranoid. It’s not cynicism. The skills you need to defeat fake news are skills you probably already possess.

Do your homework.

Trust your gut.

Seeing is believing.

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I don’t know what else to say. While I’m aware there are plenty of people who either don’t care about fake news or actually think it’s cool to spread lies, I want to believe in my heart most of us want it to end. If that’s true, if that’s really true, people need to stop looking to others to solve the problem. Crushing this problem isn’t the internet’s problem. It’s not Facebook’s fault, nor Twitter’s.

It’s on YOU. 100% on YOU. Always has been. Always will be.

Now…

Go forth and click less. I’m counting on you, yes YOU, to never share another fake news headline again.

🙂

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I usually never write about this ^^^ kind of stuff. I write about this kind of stuff.

And stuff like this, too.

J Edward Neill

 

 

J Edward’s premier dark art sale

 Finally…

At long last…

My paintings are for sale at Society6.

If you’re into my dark art, and you know you are 🙂, click the pics below to get your very own art print or canvas reproduction:

 

Ghost Tree2

Ghost Tree

 

Spiritfall

Spiritfall

The Underhollows

The Underhollows

Ocean 6

Ocean of Knives

Grave Rain

Grave Rain (Cover art for the short story – Let the Bodies)

Pale Swamp

Pale Swamp

The-Abyss-300x237

The Abyss

IMG_0028

Black Moon Rising

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Falling In

Enjoy,

J Edward Neill

Just Another Day in Purgatory

The following is a guest spot from Tessera Guild favorite, River Fairchild. She’s got an awesome new release, Just Another Day in Purgatory, and it’s available. Right. Now.

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JustAnotherDayInPurgatory Blog

Hi. Death here. I’d introduce you to Chronos as well, but he’s stuck in the ‘80s and doesn’t understand social media.

I’m pleased to announce the release of our new novella, Just Another Day in Purgatory.

What’s it about, beyond the wacky fun and crazy misadventures of myself and my best bud, Chronos, as we keep the universe from imploding? It’s about friendship in the midst of insanity. Trying to find order in the middle of chaos. Living life on the edge and having fun while doing so. It’s about having someone’s back, no matter what.

Come have fun with us as we sort through the mayhem, one crisis at a time. Maybe I’ll even give you a ride on my Harley.

In Just Another Day in Purgatory:

Hell freezes over. Heaven heats up. A resort springs to life on the banks of the River Styx and souls don’t want to move on. 

Nothing scares our intrepid immortals—except a run-in with a scissor-wielding Fate after messing up the Great Tapestry. She’s the only one capable of cutting their Life Threads. 

It’s just another day in Purgatory for Death and Chronos as they sort through the mayhem and keep the universe from spinning out of control. Be sure to bring along your helmet. You never know when Death might offer you a ride on his Harley. 

Step into their world. The afterlife will never be the same.

Amazon / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Other Links

 River Fairchild is somewhat odd, brandishes a dry sense of humor, owned by several cats. Lives in a fantasy world. A fabricator of magic. Makes stuff up and spins tales about it. Believes in Faerie crossings and never staying in one place for very long. Speculative Fiction wordsmith. The secret to her stories? Spread lies, blend in truths, add a pinch of snark and a dash of tears. Escape into her world. She left the porch light on so you can find your way down the rabbit hole.

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+ / Amazon /

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2015 Tessera Guild

Why I’m Apolitical (And you should be, too)

At certain points during our lives, we choose paths unlikely to win us popularity points.

I should know. 

Before we get started, I want to make it clear I’m not about to run afoul of Tessera’s policy regarding religion & politics. Being inflammatory only brings me joy in non-political forums. I’m not about to pick sides, lob stones, or name names. Nope. Not gonna do it.

And that’s kind of my whole point.

When I was a younger, more impressionable man, life was different. I believed in the power of opinions. I allowed myself to be flooded with hope for the world. I was un-jaded, un-corrupted. I belched rainbows and sweated sunshine. I was willing to pick sides and issue no apologies for it.

And then my third birthday rolled around.

And I woke the fuck up.

In this world we live in, Opinions are king and Perceptions queen. The meaning of truth is equivocated with facts (two totally different things.) Web, television, and radio media swirl around our heads, an infinite shitstorm of people talking, re-talking, threatening, screaming, offending, and apologizing-but-not-really-meaning-it. Politics feel pernicious, and yet unstoppable. Turn on one channel and you’ll hear one side murdering the other. Click onto any of ten thousand websites and you’ll see the other side get just as poisonous. Everyone feels everyone else is wrong…and that it’s their sacred duty to talk about it and post comments linking to it. And we soak it up, don’t we? We slurp up everyone else’s spaghetti of opinions as though words were sweet sustenance, as if talking were the same thing as doing, as if one side were any less in-it-for-themselves than the other.

Ever watched a political rally? If not, don’t start now. Generally speaking, it’s a big pile of people applauding one singular person. I don’t understand it. I’m dead serious. I legitimately want someone to explain what’s really going on during these things. Is the person on the podium heroic? Have they leapt into the future, delivered on all their promises, and Michael J Fox’d it back to the here and now with proof of their success? I can’t grasp what would drive a person to applaud someone standing on stage and promising things. Not these days. Not ever. These people say things that even the people clapping must surely know in their hearts aren’t going to happen. Things we all know are beautiful lies, and yet are willing to smile and dance for.

And every election season, it happens all over again.

My Hope on a Pole

That’s me on a pole, waiting for someone to NOT lie to me.

But by politics, I don’t only mean the selection of government officials and the exhausting narrative surrounding their rise and downfall. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, one raisin in the whole damn cookie. What I’m really talking about is people politics. The social media freight train, with all its #TheseLivesMatter and #Raise$$$forMyCause and #BashThisGuyOverHere. Know what I mean? Yeah…you do. But in case you’re like me and live under a rock, here are a few examples:

Video Game Girl Teaches Basement Dwellers a Lesson

Cops Lives Matter

And most especially I’m Still Calling You Bruce (Jenner.)

Yeah. Stuff like this. Does not compute.

Now. Let’s be clear. I’m not judging people who get involved in these discussions. I get the allure. I really do. People want to shout and be listened to. People want their opinions #ToMatter. People see a cause from a distance and want to support it. And to a certain degree, they want to post something relevant (and possibly witty) on Facebook and have their words become part of the larger discussion. It’s not exactly narcissism. But here’s what I need explained to me. And again, I’m serious. I want to know why hurling oneself around the web like a social media warhead is appealing. Why? Why do we need to be heard regarding issues that we’re powerless to affect? Why is the focus on other’s people’s opinions and not the truth? What is the purpose of engaging these issues using words, but rarely actions? If you’re not BFF’s with Caitlyn Jenner, if you’re not driving to Ferguson with guns-in-hand to support one side or the other, and if you’re not moved enough by feminist causes to actually treat the women in your life better, why do you care? Why are you involved? Why? I need to know.

Because let’s face it; the serious social and political issues of our day aren’t going to be solved or even legitimately addressed on Twitter, Facebook, CNN, or Fox News. Nope. Not even close. Sorry. We can compromise or insult, be thoughtful or obnoxious, be funny and cute or dry and witty as death itself. Doesn’t matter. The deep, dark problems that live and breed in our world will only be solved with:

A. Shit-tons of money…meaning rich people will win

B. Violence. And lots of it. Meaning no one will win.

What does that mean?

It means 5,000 retweets of important social issues don’t matter.

It means thoughtful or incendiary commentary on why one political party is garbage (but not the other) is just dust in the wind.

It means the only way your government will experience swift change is if hundreds of thousands of people take up arms…and die.

It means all the anger, frustration, butthurt-ness, and feelings of powerlessness just aren’t compatible with anyone trying to achieve peace and happiness.

Is that too dark, too cynical? Maybe so. But maybe not.

Look. Let’s get to the point.

I’ve got just one real question:

Does being political make you happy?

Well? Does it?

If not, rock the boat…just not the vote.

If you want more philosophy like this in your life, read my latest book, 444 Questions for the Universe.

If not, have a nice day.

J Edward Neill

Down the Dark Path Re-Release!

Down the Dark Path

Tyrants of the Dead Book I

Re-Written. Re-Edited. Re-Vamped. Re-Filled with Darkness.

When Andelusia Anderae leaves home in search of a better life, she accidentally plunges into the world-ending war between Graehelm and Furyon. The deeper she falls, the more she senses the dark powers rising within her, and the more she realizes she is not so different than the enemy.

Love might not be enough to save her, for the Furyons are all-powerful, and the shadow within her desires her more than any living man ever will. 

The darkest of all dark fantasy novels…

Re-released in Softcover and Kindle formats.

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Softcover Version

DDPKindle

Kindle Version

J Edward Neill

Painting, Prepping and Promoting

Those three words sum up life in my studio right now. If I thought I was busy last year, this year is blowing 2014 out of the water. Here’s a snapshot of my creative life this month.

Painting:

I’m working on three pieces. They are in various stages of completion and they will all be finished before the end of the month.

Prepping:

Jordan Con 2015 is next month! I’m in the Art Show this year. Need I say more? Prepping paintings. Prepping prints. Prepping business cards.

I’m also preparing to apply to the Dragon Con Art Show again this year.

Promoting:

Two big events this month!

Reciprocal – a juried exhibit at the University of North Georgia Art Gallery (Oconee). Opening reception is tonight. I will be there!

Reciprocal at UNG

 

Daydreams & Wanderings Kickstarter – You all know about this right? I’m 70% of the way to my goal. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, if I don’t reach my goal, the kickstarter fails and I don’t get any of the funds raised. So help me reach 100% by sharing my campaign with your friends and family!

http://kck.st/1AOtpk6

J Sporting News

SnapThis1

What does this image have to do with the post? Absolutely nothing.

 

It’s hard being a sports fan. Damn hard.

Sometimes I wish I could stop, turn off the TV, take a long walk, and ignore the plights of all my favorite teams.

No. That’s not even a little bit true. I never wish that.

 I’m a diehard Chicago fan (except for the Sox…hate those guys.) I bleed Cubbie Blue, live and die by the health of Derrick Rose’s knee, love and hate Jay Cutler, and boil with pride for the Blackhawks. But whatever team you like, whatever city you’re from, odds are you know how hard it is. To watch someone else’s team carve deep into the postseason, to endure your hated rivals hoisting a trophy, to be excited at kickoff…and completely gutted by the middle of the third quarter. It sucks something awful. We’ve all been there. 

Such is a sports fan’s life.

So let’s start by talking about football. My personal favorite, the NFL. Violent. Barbaric. Crueler on its players than any other game. Gloriously inglorious. Perfect and imperfect.

I love it.

Over the last few years, I’ve heard, read, and endured hundreds of reports and sound bites regarding the health of the NFL’s players. About concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy,) ragged knees, spinal injuries, and retirements ruined by pain. About how someday it’ll all come crashing down. I’ve followed Peter King’s columns, SI.com, and the metric ton of non-news news ESPN heaps upon us every day.

‘Wear better helmets,’ some cry out.

‘Too violent!‘ claim others.

‘They knew what they were getting into! Look at how much money they get paid!‘ many fans will declare. 

Ultimately, who really cares? Not me. And statistically speaking, not you either. NFL ratings are higher than ever in the history of the game. If any of us are really all that bothered by a game played by wife-beaters, drunk-drivers, and future invalids, it really doesn’t show up on Sunday (Or Saturday, Monday, and Thursday.) This being the case, we should all stand up and ask sports reporters around the USA to let it go. Let’s talk about the game and only the game. Let’s let the drama die. Scrutinize any cross-section of Americans and you’ll find out all sorts of awful details you didn’t want to know. The NFL is no different. If it dies one day due to its violent legacy, so be it. But until then, most of us have proven we still love it when someone gets de-cleated on the gridiron. Especially if it’s Aaron Rodgers

CutButt

“This game is hard. Especially when you turn the ball over four times in two quarters.”

 Ok baseball, you’re up next. I’m here to say that I love you. Your purity, your pace, your elegance.

But you’re really getting on my nerves.  

I want to talk about a number. The number is 162. The amount of games each team plays (not including Grapefruit/Cactus League games.) Used to be I loved that on any given day from April-September I could turn on the boob-tube and watch the Cubs get crushed. Used to be I craved the feeling that the season would never end.

Not any more. 162 is just too many damn games. By a long shot.

Would it be blasphemy to say that the average MLB game doesn’t mean a f’n thing? Is it weird that even the most spectacular win or heartbreaking loss only amounts to 0.61% of each season? What if I told you that if each team played two three-game home-and-away series’ with every other team in their half of the league, the season could be a brisk, snappy 84 games long? Does it really take 162 to decide which teams aren’t even the best, but simply worthy of entering a three-round tournament that could take up to 19 more games to find a winner? No. It doesn’t.

Why are NFL and College Football games so damn thrilling? Because each one can make or break a season. Lose one NFL game and that’s 6.25% of your season. Lose a college football game and that’s 8%. Gone. Done. Untouchable. My plea to the MLB is to chop the season in half. Please. Run two 82-game seasons every year if you have to. Have a World Series in July and another in October. But for the love of god, don’t make me watch Cubs baseball (games 108-162) in August and September. We’re already 17 games out. What’s the fucking point?

 End baseball rant. Truth is; I’m really enjoying the postseason. The one-game Wild Card playoffs are kinda sorta what inspired my shorter season hopes. And how about that Royals v A’s game?? Needed new underwear after that one.

 Ok. So lets talk about the upcoming NBA season. Anyone? Ugh. Never mind.

What about hockey? Are Patrick Kane and the boys gonna dig deep and make another Cup run? Or will it be the Kings? The Bruins? Hello? Anyone listening? Oh, that’s right. I live in Georgia, home of exactly seventeen NHL hockey fans.

Good sports things going on right now:
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Alshon Jeffrey, Antone Smith, Eric Hosmer, The f’n Orioles, Derrick Rose’s knee (for now,) the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame, the Gators sucking, Jeter’s final at bat.

Bad sports things going on right now:

Wife/GF beaters (don’t even deserve mentions,) UGA Football, Oregon Football, everything happening in Jacksonville, FL, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Bears defense, almost every NFL team’s defense, Geno Smith, sideline reporting, NFL halftime shows, beer commercials, car commercials, mutha f’n GEICO commercials, the Cardinals being in the NLCS, the Packers being in first place, and Lebron getting traded to another team in the same goddamn division as the Bulls.

That’s it for now. Go buy this and this.

Love, 

J Edward Neill

Whatnot and more Whatnot

The last week and a half has been exhausting. I feel like I’ve traveled through the Hell Mouth and back. After four days of trying to avoid a serious situation, things were pushed to the brink. I rushed my cat Hunter to the Vet at 11 p.m last Thursday night. I have the best Vet in world, one of those exceptionally caring individuals. He gave me is cell phone number and said call at any hour. When I called he was in bed, but got up, dressed and met us at his practice. Hunter came home on Monday night and he’s doing better, not 100% but getting there. I’m nowhere near 100% but I keep pushing ahead nonetheless, except when it came to this blog post. I had planned to put together a post on books with monsters, something fun for October, but I just stared at the screen. Not this week. Maybe next week, or the week after, but I can’t do it now. Instead, you get this random post about whatnot.

whatnot

used to not give the names of everything
Put your pot, the corpse and whatnot in the back of the car.
by eugenie March 01, 2004

*******

The example! I won’t be sharing anything about corpses in my whatnot post. The best I can do is share this photo I took of the cemetery in my front yard. 😀

My Halloween Cemetery

What else? I’m reading a digital ARC of a new (new to the US) book by Sergei Lukyanenko (author of the Night Watch series), originally titled Геном. His characters are always wonderfully complicated on the outside, but down-to-earth on the inside. I’m over 50% of the way through the book but I’ve been too tired to read the last two nights. 🙁

The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

Cats make superb pirates. All Hunter needs is a pirate hat and a hook.

Hunter the Pirate

I have two Etsy coupon codes running till November 1st. Trick or Treat, you choose.

Trick or Treat

Oh, and I did this… You can too. Just click on the link in the lower right of the image.

http://amandamakepeace.com

http://makepeacestudios.etsy.com

New Suit Day

Next month will be Tessera’s 1st birthday. Has a year already passed us by? Seems it has and in pre-celebration we are trying on some new suits. You can expect to see changes come and go over the next month. Who wouldn’t want to look extra spiffy on their birthday?

Besides…. If BatGirl can do it…

BATGIRL MODEL

Grab Bag – June Edition

This week has been a little scattered. Lots of little things, some bigger things, and a glimpse at possibly really big things. As such, I don’t really know if any one topic feels right for this week’s blog piece. So instead I want to make sure I catch everyone up so that we’re all on the same page.

 

Hey I have a short story up for FREE!

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

The short story, Piece by Piece, which I debuted on this very site here (for free), is now not only available on Amazon (for $0.99), but also available on Smashwords – and soon will be on your Kobo, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, iBooks, and and assortment of other ebook reading sites (all for free as well). So for any of you who might have wanted to have the short on your ereader, but didn’t want to deal with a Kindle or Amazon… well, I’m trying.

My plan was always to try and get a sample of my work out into the world for free. The old give you the first taste for free and then maybe you’ll want to read more about Jason Mills (the main character in Piece by Piece) in my novel, The Dark That Follows.

 

Hey I did an Interview!

smashwords-vertical

In conjunction with getting the short up on Smashwords, I also have an interview up on the site. Technically I announced it on Tessera on Monday, but it never hurts to remind you guys and gals in case you missed it.

 

Hey I’m up for an award!

HHS-INNOVATES-TILE-AND-LOGO-400x47

For the past 2+ years I’ve been working with Terminus Media on a Motion Comic Project for HIV and STD Awareness. I was one of the three main writers on the project having written 4 of the 10 episodes. It’s been one of those things that I’ve not really been able to talk much about aside from the bare bones (it’s hard to really explain to people what you mean by “Motion Comics”, but I’m hopeful that in the months to come I can talk a little bit about the process, from my end at least.

But the biggest reason to bring it up at all is that the project has been nominated for the  HHS Innovates People’s Choice Award. They have a blurb on the project and you can watch a brief sample of what we’ve been working on here. Most importantly you can vote for our project here!

And there is nothing stopping you from sharing this with your friends as well. The voting ends this week.

 

Hey I thought this was an interesting article!

collage-of-elmore-leonard-books

Elmore Leonard wrote this over a decade ago and was recently linked to on Warren Ellis’s email thingy. While we may not be Leonard, we can at least take a moment and see what is what.

For better or worse I try to strive hard for the last one “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” Some days I do better than others. Though I kinda feel like this one thing could be a whole blog post unto itself (makes mental note that he will promptly forget).

 

Hopefully next week I can also announce having my book in print. I have the proof copy and everything looks pretty good, so… until next time.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Triple Bill: A new release, an upcoming release, AND a blog tour

It was a dark and stormy night…
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No really. It’s dark and storming outside. I’ve got the extended version of Return of the King thrumming in the background, a three year-old slumbering beside me, and an eerily chilling mid-May gale rattling the windows of my tiny apartment. It’s quite perfect, really.
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Sleepers
So let’s get this started. I’ve got a fresh new release simmering on Kindles and e-readers. The Sleepers, my latest quick-hit short story sci-fi horror, is out now. Originally, The Sleepers was meant to be a full-length novel. 160k words, I dreamed, an epic sci-fi saga if ever there was. But in a rare fit of realism, I decided committing another year to an already loaded schedule would’ve been foolish. So I trimmed out about 154k words, carved away all the clouds, and cut to the quick and brutal chase. The result is another tale in the vein of Old Man of Tessera.
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Shrine

A shrine for DMD. Yes, the blades are real. Yes, they’re sharp. Yes, they’re but a tiny fraction of the armory hanging from my walls…

 Next up, the imminent release of Dark Moon Daughter – Book II in the Tyrants of the Dead series. I’d hoped to release it about a month ago, but difficulties with the cover art resolution slowed the process a bit. Being hand-painted, photographed at a dozen different angles, and touched up via every graphics program known to man, the cover and I have waged a mini war for several weeks now. But now it’s done with. By May’s end, the sequel to the darkest, epic(est) fantasy novel ever will hit stores in softcover and Kindle formats. Next week’s blog will be fully dedicated to the story behind Dark Moon Daughter…and the upcoming final book in the trilogy, the chilling, world-ending Nether Kingdom.
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Last but hardly least, I’m trying my hand at a blog tour. A few weeks back, the talented and sharp-witted Michael Munz gut-shotted me on the web. While I’m still sharpening my teeth on the necks of Twitter, Facebook, Tessera Guild, and Down the Dark Path dot com, it seems other forces lurk in the shadows, plucking a few lucky souls out of the void.
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A little bit about Michael:
An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Washington State in 1977 at the age of three. He studied writing at the University of Washington, and currently dwells in Seattle where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find a really fantastic clam linguine. Check out his slick website here. Gauging from the titles of his books, Michael appears to be not so different from me, a lover of grim themes.
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Now, the essence of the blog tour:
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What I’m Working On:
Now that I’m finished with The Sleepers and Dark Moon Daughter, I plan on taking two weeks off to vegetate, after which I’ll crawl to the very bottom of my mind’s dungeon. Nether Kingdom, Book III in the series, awaits me in the darkness. It’s already in final draft phase, but I’ve cover art to commission, trimming to do, and extra shadows to stuff between each page. I’m more excited about this book than anything else I’ve written. It’s a culmination for me, the pinnacle of the blackest mountain.
I…can’t…wait…
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How Does My Work Differ From Others of its Genre:
Obviously I choose some pretty dark themes. I like writing about antagonists, about the reasons they turned wicked, and how easy it is for good people to wander into evil behaviors. It happens in real life all the time, only we tend to gloss over the why and how, instead focusing on the cut-and-dried, you’re either good or you’re bad point-of-view. I’m willing to say most fantasy novels drill into the plot more than the characters. I prefer character pieces, little dots of light against dark backgrounds.
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Why Do I Write What I Do:
Most of my characaters and plots are dreamed. As in literally. I dream them. The concept for the Tyrants of the Dead series: dreamed up in one night. (The character names and personalities came later). The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera: also dreamed up in single nights. What typically happens after I have an involved dream (or nightmare,) is that it sticks with me until I write it out. Everything I put to paper, I do it to expel it from my overcrowded head. I love my dreams, but I fear what might happen should I stop writing them away. ‘Stay ahead of the train,‘ I tell myself. ‘Or it’ll run me over.’
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How Does My Writing Process Work:
I’ve read a lot about other writers’ processes. Some of it is fascinating stuff. Others not so much. Truth be told, my process is boring. I dream it. I write it. I edit the crap out of it. I release it. It’s slow, but satisfying. I prefer to write at night, surrounded by candles, wine, and eerie soundtrack music, but none of these things are required. I don’t ever suffer from writer’s block. I don’t typically agonize over outlines or character sketches. I just let the words fall out. I love the intricacies of language, conversation, and conflict, and so, like the ocean, the waves of ideas never really stop crashing against me, the shore.
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Artist Highlights:
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John R McGuire
A fellow guildmember and North GA dweller, John is a novelist and a heavy hitter in the local comic book scene. His latest release, The Dark That Follows, is all over Amazon. I like to compare John to Atlas. He bears the weight of many worlds on his shoulders, but still keeps holding it up.
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River Fairchild
River’s book, Diamonds and Dust, sits in the on-deck circle of my books to read. River is quite a character, zinging pretty much everyone and everything (deservingly so) via Facebook and Twitter. Check out her website here, and show her some love.
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Amanda Makepeace
Another fellow guildmember, Amanda is an artistic machine. Aside from the great marketing and cover work she’s done for yours truly, she paints and sketches her way across the natural world with an eye toward the fantastical. Check out Amanda’s ever-growing portfolio here.
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It’s late. I mean late, late. Time to fire up a small glass of Scotch,  turn RotK off, and head off to bed. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll dream up a new book…or three.
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Until next time,
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John McGuire is at Atlanta’s Anachrocon This Weekend!

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) I will be at Anachrocon in Atlanta, Georgia. While I’m still unsure whether I’ll have a table, in theory I will be participating in a couple of panels talking about collaborating with artists in order to make a comic book (that should be on Sunday, though I am not sure of the time).

GildedAge_Front Cover-tessera

Regardless, if you are at the con, come find me and we’ll chat about all sorts of things I’m sure. And if you are trying to find me you can always hunt me down @JohnR_McGuire on Twitter.

Hope to see you there.

John McGuire