Book Report – The Girl With All The Gifts

My mom and I have decided to do the book club thing; however, she is hustling through the novels so far, and I’m taking my dear sweet time. She got to choose the first book we did, so for my choice, I picked a nice, lovely book about the end of the world (timely, no?).

The thing about the horror genre is that I believe the point of every story is to show the audience what the creator is afraid of and ask whether that might also scare the reader/viewer. And while there are zombies (“Hungries”) aplenty in the novel, the novel is about the changing of society. What happens after everything has long since fallen and the handful of survivors are forced to do things that may go past the line in the world before (or even this world).

Zombie stories have a lot of baggage to carry with them at this point. The Walking Dead has been on the air for more than a decade at this point. I’m sure that everyone has their own zombie story (heck I do… I just haven’t written it yet). With all of that comes the need to look at the genre from a slightly different angle.

So what if there was a little girl who was really smart. A little girl who was fascinated by the Greek myths. A little girl who adores her teacher Miss Justineau.

Image by Simon Wijers from Pixabay

Oh, and by the way, a little girl who is basically a zombie (“Hungry”) who just happens to be able to think and speak and do pretty much anything else a little girl might normally do, except lose her mind when she smells human flesh.

You know, just a little thing.

What M.R. Carey does a great job of is really showing us this world through Melanie’s eyes for the first handful of chapters. As the reader, we know that things are normal (even if we may not completely know what he is at this point), but because we live for so long through only her, we not only get a really good look at why she thinks what she thinks, but also how she’s been institutionalized by this strange life she’s living. She knows nothing different, and can’t yearn for much more than what she has.

And that’s the real question at the heart of the book: Is Melanie a monster or a little girl or something else entirely?

It can be a bit heartbreaking to have her work through these revelations herself. When she’s considering the same questions the readers are considering, it makes determining the answer that much more difficult than if we couldn’t see into her thought process. To read how she can feel the hunger within her take over completely and have that moment always in the back of her thoughts when she is dealing with the others of her little world. How can you protect those you love when you can’t trust yourself.

And trust is at a premium throughout the novel. Melanie can’t trust the Doctor. The Doctor can’t trust the Sergeant. The Sergeant isn’t sure about Melanie.

The other twist of the novel is how much science enters into the story.  The author takes us through the reasons why all of this is happening and how. Where so many zombie stories handwave the WHY, it was a nice addition to the story and played a very important part in the development of the world.

***

One of the best compliments I can say about The Girl With All The Gifts is that I was reminded of I Am Legend a few times. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say any more.

***

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

Repost – Free Short – So What’s He Going to Buy With All That Gold?

I saw all the Hobbit films in the theater, and while I’m not the biggest fan of the book, I find I’m watching bits and pieces of the movies here and there as I flip through the channels again and again. Some more than others. However, there is one scene that I must turn to and watch in its entirety every opportunity I get:

Weta-Smaug-Breakdown-1

Smaug.

Smaug slowly reveals himself from under a treasure trove that would invoke Dragon Sickness on Thorin. Smaug talking with Bilbo, toying with him, showing him exactly how impressive he might be. And the extremes he goes to prove that the dwarves will never retake the mountain.

I love every minute of it.

Yet, the other night I was watching these sequences and a strange thought popped into my head:

Why does Smaug (or any dragon) need all that gold? And it isn’t just him – so many of these creatures throughout our myths are guarding a treasure horde. It is a staple such that in Dungeons and Dragons it is not questioned. The only questions anyone has any real concern to answer are: how much is the horde worth? Are we powerful enough to kill the beast guarding it?

But I feel like there is more to this idea.

***

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

***

The cavern shone whenever the tiniest glint of light broke through. In those instances, the gleam would bounce from coin to coin, making them sparkle. It would illuminate the lighter colored gems so they became tiny lanterns dotting the golden mound. Under this light the true spectacle could be seen. Appreciated. Gold and diamonds and coins and gems and… a myriad of skeletal forms cooked to a crisp inside their metal armor.

That same treasure acted as a beacon to some. Bands of adventurers who wove odd stories about how the dragon claimed their birthrights… their home. How every coin buried there was theirs to recover. Indeed, all of it would be restored to its rightful owners.

Yes, the cavern might have once belonged to dwarves or mountain men or even an orc herd, but it was the dragon’s now and had been for decades. It was his home. And more importantly, so were the riches it used as a bed.

For while the previous owners certainly contributed to its girth, not everything was from a singular conquest.

***

Krench moved into the cavern. Ever a creature of habit, he made sure to bring along a lantern, even if the act was worthless. At the outer chamber a familiar warmth ran down his leg. Long gone were the days he might have made excuses for such an action. How it could have been explained away as an involuntary response to the immense fear coursing throughout his body.

If his nephew smelled the urine, he did not show it. For that, Krench was grateful. There was far too much left to teach the lowly creature for them to become bogged down in such a trivial thing.

“The thing that no one understands is exactly what the Great Wyrm does with all his riches. The outsiders believe he simply slumbers on them. They make up superstitions where he extracts some form of nourishment from the metals in the coin allowing him to generate his awesome flame. They suppose he is vain and loves the way the gold and silver flicker in the darkness.

“Does that even make any kind of sense? It is up there with those who claim he stole the entire amount.

book-316391_1280

“Lies! And I have the numbers to prove it.” Krench patted the large book tucked under other arm. “A quick reading of this would inform everyone that of his original horde, only thirty percent was from what the dwarves possessed. Then there was the twenty-five percent in tribute from the lizard men. Another ten percent from random caravans he assaulted when bored. The last thirty-five percent an investment with the orcs that paid him quite well upon their successful campaign against the elves.”

The tunnel tightened enough that they both were forced to duck. His nephew passed through the narrow opening first and took the lantern and book from him while he made his way. Holding the items, the younglings resembled him decades earlier. His mind would be a swirl, a jumble mass of expectations, questions, theories, and who knows what else. To his credit, no questions were posed, but Ketch knew the sermon was far from finished. There was just too much to prepare him for. To explain how the world really worked.

“Once a week the Dragon’s Accountant must journey here to give a full account on all his holdings.” That got the boy’s attention. “I know your question: how would his horde ever change? He’s sleeping on the lot of it.

“And that’s the secret. He’s not. That’s small level thinking. For a creature such as this, who counts his life in decades or even centuries, you must expand on all of that. And this one has holdings as far east as Silverpool, as far north as the great seas… where ever money might exchange hands the likelihood is very high some of the coin originated here.”

“That inn located at the crossroads of Madras and Danan. Where all the caravans stop. Where lords and ladies and even princes have stayed… he owns a fifty percent stake. The blacksmith shop in Butte has worked out a nice living for himself because of a certain anonymous investor.

“A fleet of ships supporting the Merchant Guild in Silverpool.

“And the latest Duke of Parthan, who somehow found enough of a foreign inheritance to afford the new title and the lands which come with it.”

Krench let it all sink in.Watching his nephew’s eyes dart back and forth, a mind at work. After a few moments, a toothy grin emerged.

“Not to mention the coinage itself. Think about it, most of the coinage will be old. Then after a time it will be very old. Then ancient. Kingdoms and empires rise and fall in the blink of an eye (well, from His point of view). They mint new coins, phase out the old ones… and no one wants to have worthless coins. So periodic exchanges have to occur. In small enough amounts not to arouse suspicion, but in enough transactions so that you actually gain some ability to pay for what you want to invest in.”

The first of the outer doors appeared at the end of the tunnel. Remnants of the previous owners. A loose stone along the right side of the door, halfway down, provided the opening mechanism. Krench pushed until he heard the click and the engraved doors shifted open.

“What people don’t understand is dragons are ancient creatures. On a long enough timeline, barring random adventurers stumbling in and murdering them in their homes, they might well live forever. Even the ancient elves appear to wither in the eyes of dragons.

“But forever is a long time. And while they may share more in common with cats in their sleeping habits- they still wish to be entertained. And with the level of money they possess… well, pulling the strings on some of the humanoid peoples is a pleasant distraction.

“More than anything else, he knows history will repeat itself if you let it. So he can push and pull. Nudge things along for the better. Well, for his better.

“You see, dragons have gotten a horrible reputation as being evil. But what no one will tell you is the word is made up. They simply don’t realize have the perspective to appreciate everything as it moves and twists and turns. The elves… yes, they might, but the lower races, the dwarves and humans and halflings and gnomes and orcs… the lot of them just don’t live long enough. So they make up new stories to explain the world around them. And more often than not they only have the vaguest of memories as to what came before. The devastation, the wars, the armies… evil.”

They were getting lower now, the tunnel’s slope increased to the point Krench had to hand the lantern over to his nephew. They both stumbled a bit, but neither lost their footing. A hundred feet or so later things flattened out once more, and he took the burden back.

“Of course, they don’t know about the art. Creatives need funding as well. Ancient dragons need songs and maybe stories to be written about them. To be retold for the next generation. And who’s going to pay those bards to make such beautiful art? He is.

“Exotic animals? Seems strange, but my father explained it to me. Some days you want beef and some days you want Minotaur. Nothing wrong with either. And when you exist at the top of the food chain and have this level of wealth…”

Richard_Caton_Woodvilles_The_Battle_of_Towton

Richard Caton Woodville, Jr. [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“My great-grandfather realized one undeniable truth: wars cost money. Conquests. Paying armies to conquer the world. It’s a terrible business plan. First you outlay all of that money on the mercenaries. You pay to feed them. To forge weapons for them. To build the forges. To build the siege equipment. And all of that work and gold guarantees absolutely nothing.

“Up to that revelation, the Dragon’s Accountant merely handed out the sacks of gold to the mercenaries and kept a log of it all in the book. But it was a drain on the coffers, and no amount of caravans would cover the loss. That pile he sleeps on will surely drain until he’s sleeping on stone like some commoner. No! That would not stand! So he dared to pose a single idea: if the Great Wyrm really wished to take over the kingdom, then why not buy it instead?”

Careful to turn the key two times to the left and then once to the right (no one wanted a face sprayed with acid from a trap set to keep the undesirables out), Krench led them into the cavern proper. Pausing to let the younger of them take the sight in, he pushed his spectacles back up his long snout. Long ago the glitter was enough to nearly blind him. Too many restless nights were spent trying to determine exactly how one might extract such a mass from the mountain. When his own father passed the Book onto him, he spent more than enough time to understand how moving even one coin was as important as the whole of it.

Later, when he took a full account of the book, Krench realized some of the investments had gone sideways. A small war between human kingdoms, a great flood, and suddenly there was a loss to report for the fifth year in a row. Such a glorious day filled with fire to signify the passing of duties to the next Accountant.

“Krench…” The Great Wyrm stretched out his name so that it appeared to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once.

The two of them moved over to the large platform where he would deliver the latest news. As they climbed the steps, crafted so long ago by rough dwarvish hands, he pushed the book into his nephew’s arms. There was no need for it anymore.

Dragons were patient creatures, but above everything else they did not like to lose money.

The Reason Why – The Echo Effect

When I attended Free Comic Book Day last month, I had to remember my pitches for my comics and novels again. When you are at conventions, you need your one to two line pitch for each of your products because the window you have to catch someone’s attention is measured in seconds sometimes. And since it had been a little while, I needed to practice a little bit as the day progressed… which hopefully meant that I got a little better at it each time until it was closing time.

The other aspect of this event was that, for the first time, I was selling copies of The Echo Effect. And I didn’t really have a 2 line sentence to pitch the book. This is what’s on the back of the book:

 

In the world before, Aaron Anders had a different life with a different family…

Until the White Light washed them away.

A select few know the truth about our world: every time the calendar approached the year 2025, the world resets and creates a new Earth, with a new history for each of us. The Awakened remember their previous lives, and throughout history, many of them have done their best to ensure that the world proceeds on a particular path.

The lucky few.

Aaron didn’t feel lucky. Trapped in this loop, forced to live again and again in half-remembered lives, his current reality was spiraling out of control. His wife and his best friend thought he was losing his mind, and the worst part was they might be right. Another existence filled his head, mixing false memories with his real ones until he wasn’t sure of the truth.

And the only one who seemed to know anything was a stranger convinced “They” were after both of them.

 

That’s not the easiest thing to potentially sell someone on for the handful of moments you might have their attention. But as the day went on, I tried a different tactic. I hit them with something like this:

“We’ve all had that experience where we walk into a room and things are a little out of place. Or those conversations with friends where they talk about an event like you were there, and you have no idea at all.”

When they nod or say “yes”, I tell them “That’s what this book is about. Helping me to deal with exactly those sorts of moments that have happened in my own life.

***

And here’s the thing – that is the reason why I wrote The Echo Effect. It directly stemmed from 2 incidents (one which appears exactly in the book and one is somewhat in there):

One day after work I went into our master bathroom and all of my things had been flip-flopped with my wife’s things. But it wasn’t just the counter space on top, no, the cabinets beneath had been completely changed. Now, obviously, my wife had decided to make the change for better functionality or just whatever worked better for her, but it also meant for a couple of weeks I would go to the wrong sink or look for the towels in the wrong place.

The other incident went back to sometime in my 20s. A group of us were hanging out one day and because we’re all big nerds we were talking about Atlantis. At that point, Mike looks at me and says “I’m still mad at you about that.”

“What?”

“Yeah, that book we checked out on Atlantis, well, I ended up getting a late return fee on that. And the only reason I borrowed the book was because you told me to.”

I looked at him completely dumbfounded. You see, I have zero memory of such an event. ZERO. He was convinced that I was to blame no matter how much I protested I had no idea of the incident at all.

***

Now, taking these as just two random incidents would have been fine, and I likely wouldn’t have made any connection, but something stuck in my brain. This idea of someone who lived multiple lives and dealt with these incidents all the time. How would he deal with such things? What would it mean that they weren’t just the randomness of the universe, but potentially something bigger at work.

And what if he wasn’t alone in living through it.

I’ve come to realize that writing, for me, is mostly about trying to work through my own thoughts about the world, my life, or just weird events that I’ve experienced. It’s a weird form of therapy to take these oddities and put them into a fictional format. Yet, I think it helps on some level to think that while I might not be reliving my life over and over, maybe there is a reason for the weirdness.

Who knows?

All I know is that I will have to write another book the next time it happens.

***

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

In Our Dreams Awake – Reflections on the Kickstarter

Pretend this says “Funded on Kickstarter!”

In case you missed it, I’m about a month past the end of the Kickstarter I ran for Egg and my comic, In Our Dreams Awake Issue #1. I have a ton of thoughts on the Kickstarter itself and just the whole month.

So this is the 5th Kickstarter I’ve had some level of participation in. I helped out on both the Route 3 and The Fox Chronicles campaigns. I was an active participant on the Crossing Issue #1 campaign, and then I completely ran The Gilded Age one.

On each of these, I’ve learned some things, made some mistakes, learned some other things, and made other mistakes. But you would think that after these previous experiences, I might not make as many decisions that end up causing me some level of heartache, but clearly, the only way I really learn is through banging my head against the wall.

So during the early part of the campaign, I jotted down some of my thoughts. The words that follow are in the moment, edited only for clarity, but they help to show a bit of what my thought process was going through and how easy it is to let the bad thoughts take over.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

***

This first note comes either late on Day 3 (Friday) or early on Day 4.

Day one was decent, but I had a couple of numbers in my head for where I’d like to be at the various milestones of the project.

$300-350 after day 1.

$600 after day 3.

$1000 after a week.

But the first day was $211, the second day was a huge drop and by the time Friday rolled around I was really concerned about the project and rethinking my idea of where to set the goal.

You see, the goal was set in mind to help recoup the art costs, but it actually wouldn’t pay for them 100%. I was fine with that, I’m willing to put “skin” in the game (I think from my calcs that somewhere around $2400 would actually be the break-even point).

I’d done the hustle, reached out to the websites, gotten some articles, and sent a notice to my mailing list (though it might be a bit colder than I’d like). I sent updates to the Gilded Age backers, to our bakers on the Love’s Labour’s Liabilities and Love’s Labour’s Liberated Roleplaying zines (even though it doesn’t directly coincide, it is still something).

With these things I kept thinking can I get 10% of those people to contribute:

185 in the mailing list = 19 people

12x in Gilded Age = 13 people

The Zines = I’m not sure who might come over from the roleplaying side, but it shouldn’t be Zero.

22 people clicked the Kickstarter notifications button = 2 people

I mean, even accounting for some overlaps there, 20 backers early wouldn’t be the craziest thing. And after 2 days we sat at 13 people.

***

As you can see, it was tough going there early on, and it really made me question a lot of things about what I did or didn’t do. And I recognized some of the things (which I’ll likely get into in a future post).

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

***

Now flash forward two weeks. In the meantime, things had been slowly (and I mean slowly) proceeding where we’d have one decent day and then nothing for a couple of days. The swings were beginning to get to me.

Overall we hit the $1000 (50%) mark by the second weekend, which was certainly nice, but it has fallen off a cliff this last week, and I have no idea how to turn it around. At this point we’ve been sitting on $1149 for a couple of days, and we’re 8-9 days left before this thing ends.

I did look to see that approximately 65 people signed up to be reminded and I think 11 of them have actually already contributed, so that’s nice. But I thought the Kickstarter person who talked came on the Comixlaunch podcast mentioned something like an 80% conversion rate on those people (maybe I’m remembering it wrong). So that would be 41 more people to potentially help push us along. If all of them go for the $10 level (plus shipping) then I’d be sitting at $1750ish and we can push it over the last little bit. But if the majority of them are more digital then what, we get to half of that and make it over $1500?

***

And this last one was a few days later. As you can see, I’m still focused on having made the goal too high.

I should have set the goal at $1500.

Stupid.

I mean, I’d still be frustrated at how it is going, but I wouldn’t be worried it wouldn’t fund. Good lord!

The other thing on my mind is that those people get the reminder and see we’re too far away and they opt to not bother anyway, which is the worst-case scenario here.

It feels like I’m missing some avenue to get the word out to ensure this thing happens. But I’m not sure what that is.

Then, on top of everything else, what’s the plan for issues 2-4? I can’t (and shouldn’t) count on only friends and family to support the comic. I need to figure out how to get more eyeballs on the comic. This thing needs to grow. This thing needs to build on itself so that at some point it becomes a bit of a break-even situation financially.

Everything takes so long, and I’m sure that has hurt my path here. If I had the ability to push this comic immediately (within 6 months) of Gilded Age, that would have probably made a big difference.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

***

When you are in the dead zone and the goal looks like it is out of reach, you begin to focus on all the bad that is happening. It’s real easy to lose sight of why you’re putting your work out there. How excited you should be that people are supporting you in any way.

And don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon anytime I saw someone new had backed the project. That was always a pick-me-up. I said it many times during each of the other Kickstarters that this thing is like having another job (at the very least a part-time one). This means by the end of 30 days, you’re burned out on everything.

***

I was on vacation when the project was finally funded. And even though I was doing my best to relax prior to that moment, it was a huge lift of both stress and my spirits. Sadly, I didn’t jot down my exact thoughts, but if I could go ahead and share them now they would have been a lot of internal screaming and yelling, some nice positive four-letter words, and just a sense of accomplishment. I love comics so much, that to be able to do them, even in a small way, is such a blessing.

For all of you who joined me on my journey and supported the dream, thank 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

 

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

Free Comic Book Day 2022 – Report

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day.

It was also the first time since 2019 I’d done a Free Comic Book Day or any other convention of note. In the meantime, I’d published another novel, put out a comic, and just ran a successful Kickstarter for the first issue of another series. The hallway closet has mostly sat unopened for all of that time as that’s where all my stuff to sell is located (not sure how I managed to get such a prime spot, but it does make things a bit easier to manage when it is all in easy reach.

Anyway, I was able to get a last-minute spot at my local comic shop: Galactic Quest in Buford, Georgia. And when I say last minute, I mean the week of was when I locked it in, which I really appreciated.

Galactic Quest opened up at 9 AM and probably had about 30-40 people waiting in line to kick off the festivities. And throughout the day (I was there until 5 PM), there was a steady stream of comic enthusiasts to watch navigate the free comics and the handful of us who had set up tables.

Since it had been nearly 3 years of no conventions, I was a little rusty on my various sales pitches for all my wares. And since I had a couple of extra products, I tried to both give as succinct a pitch on each, while trying not to just eat away at someone’s time. And like any other time, you do spot people that are definitely willing to engage with you, and then others who are ready to just move on to the next thing. I think I judged most people pretty quickly.

I never know how much “stuff” to bring to any convention I go to. I always worry that I’ll run out of stock and then curse myself for not having that 25th copy of something. Usually that means I’m actually bringing extra stuff to the point that I am a full-on pack mule, straining under the weight of graphic novels, prose novels, a banner, and all the other things that I end up with. I did recall that the last time I set up at Free Comic Book Day, I did run out of one of my novels (The Dark That Follows), so I grabbed at least 5 copies of everything I had, with another 2 of each novel in the trunk of my car “just in case”.

I was pretty much the first thing you saw as you walked in!

Much like last time, the novels ended up being the overall bestsellers (when taken as a whole) while The Crossing #1 pretty much wiped me out of the little bit of stock I had of the regular cover. As with everything though, I’m just happy to get the books into people’s hands so that they can read what I’ve written.

All in all, it was a great way to dip my toe back into the water and get my work back in front of people.

Thanks again Galactic Quest!

***

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

In Our Dreams Awake – The Posts

Check out John McGuire’s new Fantasy/Cyberpunk/Dreampunk Comic!

 

Throughout this Kickstarter campaign I’ve written a few posts on In Our Dreams Awake, so this post will put them into a more comprehensive guide so that you don’t have to go stumbling through the Tessera archives in order to locate things.

 

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #1: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

A breakdown of the actual Kickstarter campaign laying out the pitch and story as well as looking at the reward options. I normally try to be as unbiased when doing the Kickstart the Comic posts on other books, but that might be a little difficult when talking about your own work.

 

Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

This is a peek at the history of the comic book. How things began all those years ago with a series of emails between Egg Embry and myself. It has been a long journey to get to the point where the comic is nearing a real release.

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

A breakdown of a pair of panels from my portion of In Our Dreams Awake. Consider it a behind-the-scenes or director’s commentary on some of the thought processes when looking at a comic page from the point of view of the writer. And then see how the artist takes that and makes it 1 million times better!

 

I tried to put the spotlight on a couple of my collaborators on this comic book through a pair of interviews to try and get into their minds a little bit about their process and history.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Alex Lugo

 

The interview with Sean Hill, who did a variant cover for In Our Dreams Awake, is from a couple of years ago, but has some nice insight.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 1

 

Behind the Artist – Interview with Sean Hill, Part 2

***

Please check out the current Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake!

***

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

 

Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1

 

We have about a week left to go on the In Our Dreams Awake #1 Kickstarter, so be sure to check it out!

***

Taken as a whole, a comic book represents the input of multiple people, multiple perspectives, and multiple skill sets before the final product is created. I’ve said many times in the past that one of the reasons I love the format is exactly for that reason. You get to feed off of the creatives who you work with. And what begins as one thing can become something completely different in execution (and making the overall comic that much better).

 

In Our Dreams Awake #1 – Page 7, Panels 7 & 8

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Letters – Egg Embry

Writer – John McGuire

 

Concept

This pair of panels represent the end of a larger conversation within the issue. So much of this world that Jason Byron lives (dreams?) in is dictated by the mages who control everything. They ensure the chaos technology threatens to bring to the people can never exist again. They are Order.

And to go against that would mean going against everything they stand for… and that way lies madness.

So what do we see? We see that Edgar made a choice to not allow for any other colors within these two panels, but instead presented them as a pair of black and white moments. Two men, representing opposite beliefs about their world, are separated by the small table.

 

The Script

Page 7 Panel 7

Annoyed by Peter’s accusation, Jason pushes himself away from the table as if to get up.

Jason – I know all of this, Peter.

Peter – So ask me your question again.

 

Page 7 Panel 8

Same shot as Panel 7 (Jason is still sitting). Jason pauses. No words are needed.

 

Breakdown

As you can see from the script, I actually made a slight mistake between the two panels. In Panel 7, Jason is frustrated/annoyed and pushes himself away from the table. Edgar followed that showing him standing up. His body language is very tense. However, when we come to Panel 8, I note that “Jason is still sitting”…

No, John, he is not.

But Edgar went with it, and I think it actually works in this visual context because of the artist’s choice to make these mirror images of each other (in regards to the black and white). Where Jason was angry in the previous moment, he has sat back down. But instead of either of them furthering the conversation, the darkness envelops them instead pointing two the very ideas that they stand for can not exist alongside one another.

It even mocks the prompt from Peter in Panel 7: “So ask me your question again.” Panel 8 answers that prompt with silence. There is no need to push the issue any longer.

There are no shades of gray here in this place.

***

But perhaps there is another world for Jason to find peace? One he can visit while he dreams?

***

Please check out the current Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake!

***

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

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

Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

Check out John McGuire’s In Our Dreams Awake Issue #1 on Kickstarter!

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 artist and colorist on the Cyberpunk portion of the comic book: Rolands Kalniņš.

 

***

How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in the comics industry since I was 16 years old. And full-time since I was 20.

I’m 26 now.

 

What made you want to work on comics?

As a kid growing up in a post-Soviet country we got our entertainment(films, books, comics) much later than the rest of Europe. So I was lucky to grow up watching original TMNT, Star Wars, Spider-man and the X-men animated series, Power Rangers, Adam West Batman, Tim Burton’s Batman, Pokemon, Digimon…

These shows and films made me love these characters, and later on, I found out that many of them were based on comic books. Unfortunately, the only comics we could buy in Latvia were based on Disney and Hanna-Barbera characters aimed towards very young kids.

So I spent a lot of time drawing and creating my own comics. And when I was living in the UK at the age of 15, I had the chance to buy a lot of Marvel comics. And that moment when I first held a comic book in my hands was simply magical.

And that truly made me take the path to become an artist in the comic industry.

Variant Cyberpunk Cover by Rolands Kalniņš

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

Personally, I have so many favourites/inspirations. Tho the most influential artists on me were/are: Dave Rapoza, Sean Gordon Murphy, Nick Dragotta, Junji Ito, and many others…

 

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?

My daily routine used to be different. But for the last few years, I’m also a full-time Tattoo Artist at 2 private studios that I own. So my day-to-day is divided.

Most days I work from 8:30-11:00 on comics and tattoo designs. From 12:00-16:00, I work at my tattoo studio. 17:00-19:00 session at the gym (usually 4-5 times a week), and 19:00-24:00 more work on comics/family time.

 

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

My process is quite simple. I read the script, gather references and inspirational images, and then I draw the pages, usually coloring them right after.

 

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

Creative relationships for me are really different with each writer and or company. On some projects, I get complete creative freedom and just create the artwork.

On others, the process is more involved and created on a step-by-step basis. With a lot more back and forth. Visuals changing as the story evolves.

And these things are different on each project depending on my involvement as well. Am I just the artist, or am I the colorist?

In some cases, I design the whole book, spine and all.

For me, the most important thing is to do the best work I can for the client.

Jason Byron makes his way through the flooded streets. By Rolands Kalniņš

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

Hmm, for hurdles in creating work…

The hardest thing for me is creating art in bulk for my personal projects. Client work comes much more easily for me because it has certain direction-script, or just a description of a piece.

 

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love working on indie comics.

Of course, a dream of mine is to do a Batman book, but for the most part I’m most comfortable doing creative horror books in the indie scene.

The thing I like the most is the “out there” ideas and that there’s no limit to the craziness of the stories I could visualize…

 

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

Best advice is to learn the basics first.

And that doesn’t mean human figure, faces, etc… It means drawing straight lines, perfect circles, cubes… and only then applying those skills to draw objects, and characters.

And of course, drawing non-stop, but doing illustrations, pages, and panels, not just studies for study’s sake.

Applying knowledge and learning on the go is key. Many things I learned over the years I learned on the job doing the actual work.

And of course, finishing things. Many up-and-comers tend to sketch a lot and never do finished work, which grows into a boatload of bad habits.

 

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

My favourite genres to create for are usually pulp-fiction, neo-noir, cyberpunk, and horror type of work.

But I love doing most genres.

But dark fiction and psychological mind-bending work suits my style best in my opinion.

Jason Byron and Fem’A Lin kiss. By Rolands Kalniņš

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

Hmm, I would probably say to myself to never stop drawing and don’t give up. Things will go your way eventually…

And don’t let anyone talk you out of anything career-related.

 

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 have many upcoming books and personal projects, but I can’t really talk about any of them due to NDA’s. Only thing I can say is that “The Pandora Window” a book I’m co-creating with Ray Chambers is finally announced and being drawn as we speak. And many other projects with Adam Barnhardt of Sh*tshow fame. Hopefully, soon they’ll be announced.

For hobbies, I tend to have many, but the most important ones are Powerlifting and reading. For me, it’s a way to clear my head. And of course, a healthy mind and body are key with this type of profession.

I personally believe you’ll go crazy quite fast if the only thing you do 24/7 is draw. It can become more of a detriment than a strategy to become successful.

 

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

I’m most active on my website(portfolio), Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

https://rolandskalnins.carbonmade.com/

https://www.instagram.com/marvelzukas/

https://twitter.com/marvelzukas

https://www.reddit.com/user/Marvelzukas/

Jason Byron’s intense stare. By Rolands Kalniņš

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article?

My name is Rolands Kalniņš

I’m an illustrator, concept artist/designer, colorist from Latvia.

I’ve worked on many projects for different publishers and kickstarters.

Scout comics: Red Winter.

Fracture Press: Tales of Fractured Mind, Tales of Fractured Worlds, Soul of The Sea, The Burning Memory

Tpub: Transdimensional.

Source Point Press: Sirius

Frank Martin’s Pipe Creepers

Scapegoat Press Inc: Pcycho Path, Aeonian.

Roy Burdine’s Reapers.

VMComics: Hotel Hell

Musicians: Varien, Hellhills, Manic, Toracha, Cream of Cthulhu, and many more.

***

I want to thank Rolands Kalniņš 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

 

Kickstart the Comic – In Our Dreams Awake #1: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

As I talked about last week, In Our Dreams Awake has had a long journey to get from the kernel of an idea all the way to this next milestone: A Kickstarter Launch today!

This is one of those stories that examines that fundamental idea I think everyone deals with, which is wondering if their life is enough or if there might be another one we could live if only the circumstances were a little different.

We are raising funds to get the first issue of In Our Dreams Awake printed and out to readers.

***

In Our Dreams Awake #1: A Cyberpunk/Fantasy Adventure

John McGuire – Writer/Creator

Egg Embry – Writer/Creator

Edgar Salazar – Artist

Rolands Kalninš – Artist, Colorist, Letterer

Genaro Olavarrieta – Inker

Alexander Lugo – Letterer

Sean Hill – Variant Cover Artist

The Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

***

The Pitch:

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both of those worlds begin to spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

 

The Story:

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next. Jason’s only desire is to wake up in the arms of his true love, Laura… Uh, or is it Fem’a Lin?… If only he knew which one was real?!

Cyberpunk Variant – Art by Rolands Kalninš

John’s Thoughts:

I’m obsessed with the idea of What If when it comes to how people live their lives. Those little moments then spiral out to set the course of our lives. How easy it is to focus on the things we don’t have rather than embrace all the gifts we do have. It’s very easy to lose sight of what is important when you always are lamenting the things you don’t possess.

It’s human nature to evaluate and then reevaluate and then wonder about the path not taken.

With In Our Dreams Awake, Egg and I are giving this concept a bit of a twist. Instead of trying to figure out how Jason Byron’s life might have gone wrong, he instead sees a world nearly the opposite of the current life he lives. And that would be fine, we could all use a little bit of fantasy in our lives (or cyberpunk as the case may be), but what happens when those two realities begin to bleed into one another. How would you determine which was the real world and which was the dream world?

And how would you know which one was worth fighting for… or dying for?

The Rewards:

The Kickstarter is for the first issue in what we hope will be a four-issue series. We have the options of either the pdf ($5) or print version ($10) to send to you. We also have two different variant covers, one by Rolands Kalninš and the other by Sean Hill ($15).

And if being drawn into the Cyberpunk world as a potential member of Jason’s gang interests you, we have that for $200.

We also have a number of Add-Ons ranging from a copy of The Gilded Age Graphic novel to the Dreamr by the Apocolypse RPG Zine ($10-$20 each).

Mirror Variant – Art by Sean Hill

The Verdict:

As a co-creator of this little project, I’m so excited for it to become a reality. As my post last week talked about, it has been a long (looooong) road to get here, but we only have a little more to go before this story can see the true light of day and get into the hands of all you potential readers.

The other key piece is that the first issue is completely done. Finished. This isn’t going to be a Kickstarter that lingers on and on. In fact, my hope is that we fund quickly, and I can get the second issue into production while this Kickstarter is actually going on, so that the wait between issues isn’t so long.

***

I’d like to thank you in advance for checking the project out. And be sure to check back in on the project throughout the month as I’ll be posting various interviews with my fellow creators.

And be sure to check out the Kickstarter here!

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake

 

I don’t have the email anymore where I first pitched Egg the basic idea behind In Our Dreams Awake. I basically remember that I had hit upon this idea of someone having to live two different lives, one when they slept and one when they were awake. I know that it happened around the Winter of 2004-2005 in one of many of our daily emails back and forth to each other. Those emails served as both catch-up on the day/week and also a dumping ground for us to share potential writing ideas.

You see, the goal with Egg and I always was to find a way to write comic books. During college, there were many, many, many weekends the two of us would journey from one comic shop to another looking for back issues. And during those trips, we’d talk story ideas. They ranged from some take on whatever Marvel or DC or Image might be doing at the time all the way to our own comic ideas featuring our own characters. But this was in the days before something like Kickstarter existed, back in the days when we were going to have to find a way to do things on the “cheap”.

Egg’s always been good about looking at potential story ideas and breaking them down into a format that might be a little different. And In Our Dreams Awake sent his mind going.

I know/remember a few things about this time:

Egg found the title from a quote by Thoreau.

Egg pitched the idea of the two of us writing portions of the story. One of us would take one dream and the other would write the other.

Egg found both the artists to do what would become a 4 issue mini-series: Edgar Salazar (pencils) and Genaro Olavarrieta (inks) for my “fantasy world” dream and an artist for “futuristic world”.

So we started on the scripts for issue 1. And then the pages started rolling in… this was working… we were going to have a comic book!

We quickly got scripts going for all 4 of the issues, as Edgar and Genaro were rocketing through their work. I learned how to color on the computer (which is a story for another time). Egg’s artist was turning in good stuff. The tone felt great… all we needed to do was find a home for the comic.

We approached Image, I think we sent it off to a couple of other places, but nothing ever came of it. I was working with the Terminus Media guys at the time and had learned enough to know how to get the book printed, but we realized we probably needed to have a complete book before going down that path.

And then Egg’s artist fell off the face of the Earth.

He’d done around 20ish pages out of the 48 or so we’d need to finish things up. But we couldn’t find him. He didn’t return email. I think Myspace was a bust (remember Myspace?). Months went by, which became a year, which became two years. Edgar and Genaro finished their pages and moved on, but we felt hamstrung by this artist. It was weird that one of the original reasons for doing the comic with two artists was so that it would half the load. We thought there was a chance that if an artist disappeared (or ghosted us) that it would be relatively early in the process. Maybe they’ve done 1-5 pages and then make like a wizard, but he’d done enough for 2 issues.

We scrambled. Egg came up with an idea to split his dream in two with the already finished pages and then get a new artist (potentially himself) to do the last 24 pages. We toyed with some other thoughts, but time went on, and like so many things…

In Our Dreams Awake passed into legend…

It nagged at me. Tugged at the back of my mind. Every year I’d look through my files and see the pages and think about what could have been. I wrote the Gilded Age and The Dark That Follows and still, it was there. Egg moved on to RPGs and writing for so many websites that I can’t even keep up with his output these days.

When we were first working on the comic, Egg found the Thoreau quote and it fit perfectly. But randomly during that same Christmas, my mom got me post-its with quotes on them. And while they didn’t have the In Our Dreams Awake quote, they did feature one from Poe that seemed made for our comic:

Things had lined up perfectly until they didn’t.

Then March 2020 happened and the world changed. We had time on our hands. And In Our Dreams popped up in my dreams again. So I reached out to Egg. Told him I wanted to make a go of it. That we knew so much more than we had nearly 2 decades earlier. The biggest obstacle was always having product, but in this case, we had 1/2 the story already done. There was only one hurdle to go: we needed to reach out to Egg’s artist and see if we could use those pages or if we were going to start over.

And after many weeks, we decided to go with someone new.

The thing was, I’m a part of a couple of Facebook Groups where artists post their work looking for their next gigs, so I’d been saving posts of anyone who caught my eye. So when we decided to move on, I shared all the potentials with Egg, and very quickly we identified Rolands Kalniņš as the person who could bring the sci-fi/cyberpunk dream to life. And Rolands has done that and more. And all of a sudden we had issue 1 ready to go.

All of sudden… after 17 years…

The Kickstarter launches one week from now, but we’d love it if you’d sign up for the Notification Page just so that Kickstarter will send you an email when the project goes live. You can find that page here.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Repost – Searching for a Super Power

I’ve been busy with prepping for the upcoming Kickstarter, so I thought a look at an early blog might be interesting.

Oh, and if you’d like to sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter goes live, you can do that here.

***

I’ve been thinking about the scene in Mallrats where they are playing their version of the Dating Game and Brody (Jason Lee) is asked “If you were a comic book character, what character would you be?” Brody then begins to break it down: “What does one gauge his response on? Physical prowess? Keen detection skills? The ability to banter well with super villains?”

dating_show

He never gets to really answer the question, but it is certainly one that I’ve asked myself. Or more directly, what power would I want? So I’m going to break it down.

Flight – Let’s face it, flight is an amazing ability for those of us who must move along on the ground. To be able to reach up into the sky and really see the world as it is, in a way that very few ever could.

But, eventually they are going to make that hovercar technology and then everyone is going to be able to fly and you’ll just be sucking fumes.

manofsteel

Invisibility – This could be a good one. I’m pretty sure that there have been more than a handful of times that not being able to be seen would come in handy… get your mind out of the gutter!

I’ve seen Hollow Man. I’ve read the Invisible Man. It seems like madness is truly the biggest side-effect to having this power. I mean, even the Invisible Woman has had her bouts with it from time to time. And I’d be worried that an ability like that pretty much can only make you the biggest pervert in the world… now get your head into the gutter.

invisible

Telepathy – To be able to read people’s minds. To know when someone is hiding something from you. To see when they are lying to you. To find out exactly what people really think about you…

The Twilight Zone even had an episode where the guy suddenly could read minds and as we all know (A Penny for Your Thoughts), if that show does an episode on something then it always… turns out… good?

Come to think about it, that might not be the best idea. Ignorance is bliss.

Super Speed – The Flash makes it look so fun. He can move so fast, vibrate through objects, even create sonic booms. In the comics they always show him as the guy who helps rebuild the city because he makes it look like things only take 5 seconds.

Here’s the thing, something that I’m not entirely sure has ever really been broached by the comic books or the tv shows… it still has to be done by him. ISo for him, even moving really fast, he has to actually shovel the snow out of the driveway, he has to clean the house one room at a time… yes, to the rest of us he gets it done fast, but he still gets to deal with the part of actually doing those crappy jobs. And he can’t ever complain about it because everyone else will tell him how long it will really take them to do the same task.

Sounds like a lot of work.

Super Strength – Awesome, you have a power that will come in handy if you need to… hmmm, I’m trying to figure out when this one would come in handy in every day life. I guess the pickle jar will never remain stuck. The groceries will never be too heavy? Luggage?

Yeah, might be cool for a second, but I need something bigger and better.

Laser Blasts – Unless I’m fighting a villain, I’m not sure I need to be a living weapon. I certainly don’t need anyone and their brother trying to use me to whatever military purpose I might be suitable for. I’m probably missing a cool application of this power, but since Doctor Doom is not on my dance card most nights, I’m not feeling it.

Teleportation – To be able to move great distances in a split second. To no longer need to use a car or a plane or whatever to get from point A to point B. To be able to roll out of bed and be anywhere in the world with just a thought. I mean, sure there is that whole making sure that you don’t teleport into a solid object, but you could always scope things out beforehand. Set up particular spots to go to and from. Heck, I could live on a luxurious beach and still work wherever I wanted.

Star_trek_beam

And sure, maybe that means when your wife sends you to the market, she means the market in Hong Kong for that authentic Chinese Take-out, but hey, that may be a price worth paying.

So for me, I think I’ll go take a quick trip to Hawaii where it is nice and warm as opposed to the beginning of winter that I’m already tired of.

 

***

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

In Our Dreams Awake – Kickstarter Prelaunch

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next. Jason’s only desire is to wake up in the arms of his true love, Laura… Uh, or is it Fem’a Lin?… If only he knew which one was real?!

In a society ruled by mages, Jason Byron is a master artist trying to provide for his family. He has a secret heirloom, a telescope. With it he can see the stars, but can he see the trouble his illegal piece of technology will bring to his family?

In drowning London, Jason Byron deals in chum, the hottest drug among aliens. He and his true love are trying to escape their world. Can they keep the peace long enough to get away before the world is pulled beneath the waves?

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both of those worlds begin to spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?

***

In Our Dreams Awake comes from co-creators John McGuire and Egg Embry. The first issue of this mini-series features two dreams, the first illustrated by Edgar Salazar and the second by Rolands Kalniņš. Both artists provide covers in addition to Sean Hill’s variant cover. Written for fans of love stories, dreampunk, steampunk, and cyberpunk, this comic offers an engaging mystery with amazing artwork. This story is about love and loss and asking the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? Who do I love?

***

We are launching the Kickstarter on March 30, 2022; however, you can make sure that you get notified when it launches by signing up at the Pre-launch Page!

***

Over the next month and a half, I’ll have preview pages, origin stories, interviews with the creative team, and probably some stuff I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’re ready to join me on another comic book adventure!

***

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

Setting Realistic Goals

The title should be followed by a question mark: Setting Realistic Goals?

Because it is something that I know I’m not always the greatest judge on how much time something should take to do when it comes to my writing projects. At the beginning of every year, I try to sit down and figure out the various writings I have swirling around in my head and try to get them in some discernable order. The ones that I’ve been working on for months and months or years and years. Is this year a doable thing for this particular work?

You see, in January everything is still ahead of me. Literally, anything can be possible in those cold and gloomy days of winter. What are you going to do, spend time out in the cold, or maybe you use that time to finish up some projects in 2022? Maybe that project you were supposed to finish up last year… this is the year I get it out the door.

But that’s always been the thing about this process. I see other authors who are able to be machines in their processes. They trim the time from their lives without regard to anything else. They are singularly focused on getting to the next finish line, sometimes at such a speed, I wonder if they actually had any time to sleep or eat or bathe during that time.

I have lofty goals, but I also know (based on experience) that sometimes overextending my reach is going to just make me depressed. Depressed about missing my self-imposed deadlines. Depressed as I get lapped by other people I see doing their best to hustle. Depressed because I have dreams and aspirations, and sometimes it feels like none of them are attainable.

But I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who has this problem. I see it all around me. Over the years I’ve listened to the various day jobs I’ve worked as they lay out their projected goals for the coming year. You know those meetings where they want to have some level of growth year over year that boils down to a number (likely a percentage). And nearly every time I sit there wondering who came up with the numbers they were talking about. They are these pie in the sky type of plans where you’d need everything (and I mean everything) to go perfect to even have a smallish chance of meeting the goal.

You see, it’s one thing to reach for the stars, but I think it is important to have attainable goals. Otherwise, there is a lack of hope that you are doomed before you even get started.

So I try to keep it in mind. I try to see what might be a good amount.

I’m been working on getting another Kickstarter Comic out into the world.

I feel like I’ve been working on it for a full year, but really it has been even longer than that. And over the next few weeks, as we countdown to the launch, I’m going to have plenty to talk about the origins of how the comic came to be, why it wasn’t done years (decades) ago, and how sometimes it is worth it to revisit those stories that never got their due. Because, if I had realistic goals when it came to this property, it would have never gotten this far.

***

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

Movie Review – Scream 5

 

The Scream franchise holds a dear place in my heart as one of those movie series I felt I could call my own. You know, the ones where you were there from the very beginning and understood that you were seeing something both familiar and unfamiliar all at once. It did things in a way that made it more than just something going for cheap scares, but instead took us down a different path by fusing the slasher film with a true mystery on trying to figure out the killer. And the clues build upon themselves as the story progresses, even down to certain music cues potentially giving something away a little earlier than you’d think.

It rewrote how we were supposed to view those films of our youth, pointing out the tropes as being silly, and then earnestly sticking to them so the viewer could understand why they were important tropes to the genre. There’s that old saying of until you know the rules, you can’t break them.

As the series progressed, we saw different variations on the theme, sometimes redefining who our heroes and villains might be.

Which leads me to the most recent installment, over a decade since Scream 4 came out…

Scream 5 is really an attempt to go back to what made the first film so great. Where the first 4 are really Sidney Prescott’s story, this one begins with a new protagonist, setting up a new group of friends, and even a twist on the opening sequence. In fact, it may be the best decision for a movie 26 years after the very first one to not lean on Sidney to be the main person, and allow for new blood (pardon the pun).

Even so, the fifth installment really takes the idea that it’s been 26 years since the original film to heart. Our main group of friends all have connections to earlier characters in the series, via being directly related or just where they might be living (a familiar house from the original makes an appearance in the new movie). It is truly a new generation while still allowing for the connections to the previous legacy characters that we have grown up with.

Going further, it recognizes what it is and in very Scream fashion, deconstructs the very idea of “requels” something of an amalgam of sequels and reboots that Hollywood has been embracing over the last decade or so. The question of how do you serve the fanbase by giving them something familiar while also pushing things into a potentially new place, with new characters, and new reasons for why the killings are happening in the first place.

This legacy vs. new is at the heart of the struggle for the fifth movie. The title itself is a nod to this very conceit: How much do you allow the legacy characters to exert their will on the film? Too much and you might as well have called it Scream 5. Too little and it doesn’t feel much like a part of the series. It’s a fine line they walk throughout the film, and while I really enjoyed both aspects, I’m not entirely convinced they found the correct sweet spot for some of those legacy characters. You almost feel that the movie could have more or less done what it needed to do without them (save for one character that really does serve as both the bridge between the two worlds, but also lays out the very tropes we’ve learned all the way back in 1996).

Where the 4th installment leaned too heavily on our legacy heroes (and as such I think missed a prime opportunity with the end of the movie to do something very unexpected), this one definitely wants us to associate with the new teens in a way that their deaths might mean a little more or at the very least, become extremely invested in the plight of the main female, Sam. And for the most part, I think they are able to make it work. Even those characters who may not have an overwhelming amount of screen time (you know, because they die a little too quickly), still have a little bit of time to rise above their own character archetypes.

All in all, this latest installment feels like a nice segway from the first 4 movies into something for the next couple of decades.

***

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.

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 – 9

Many years ago, I gave my wife a homemade gift. Yes, those are cheesy and many times it is a cop-out to giving a “real gift”. But I decided, partially inspired to the multitude of Jeremy’s various Question books, to go through and look for quotes about Love, about how I feel about her, and still embrace my own nerdiness – so it included lots of bits and pieces from various media that we both love.

I called it A Love For Every Day, and set about trying to find the right words for each day.

Let me tell you, it is not as quick and easy as you would think. Especially as I tried to include little nods to the actual day if possible – sometimes those being birthdays or anniversaries or just plan old holidays… many times the quotes play off of that as well.

As these holidays come to a close, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from these 365 days.

January 1

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

Nicole Krause, The History of Love

February 2

Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it.

Ray Bradbury

March 16

Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life… You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore.

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

April 19

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…

So tweasure your wuv.

The Princess Bride

May 4

I love you.

I know.

The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi

June 19

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.

Peter Pan

July 16

If you have just one,

Let me be that love

If you have lots of others,

Please let me be

Please let me be one

Let me be one

Jonah Matranga, Crush On Everyone

August 13

I’m afraid that once your heart’s involved, it all comes out in moron.

Gilmore Girls

September 30

You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she’s hurtin’ ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.

Serenity

October 31

My dearest friend

If you don’t mind

I’d like to join you by your side

Where we can gaze into the stars

And sit together now and forever

For it is plain as anyone can see, we’re simply meant to be.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

November 8

I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.

Calvin and Hobbes

December 29

I thought our story was epic, you know, you and me.

Epic how?

Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. EPIC.

Come on. Ruined lives? Bloodshed? You really think a relationship should be that hard?

No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.

Veronica Mars

***

Hope you have some great holidays with those you love.

***

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 – Just Finish It

I’ve gone to plenty of writing panels over the years hoping to discover, like Ponce de Leon looking for the Fountain of Youth, the secret formula to their success. How the heck did they manage to get up there with their book, comic, etc? Most of the time I do learn something, some nugget of truth that makes the trip worthwhile (maybe a technique or some obstacle they managed to overcome). But there really is one thing that separates them from those of us in the room:

You want to be a writer?  Then write, sure, but FINISH the task.

Too much I get caught up in the idea of writing. Make sure that I get my WORDS in for the day, or make sure that the latest chapter gets revised.

w-b-park-finish-it-why-would-i-want-to-finish-it-new-yorker-cartoon

 But at some point you have got to get to “Pencil’s Down”. This is something I have only just now begun to understand, and I am not even close to where I want to be.  I have only scratched the surface of this for myself and constantly have to fight to get there.

There is a difference between “Wanting” to be a writer (nevermind the great) and “Being” a writer.

It is the “Doing”.

In everyday life there are people who WANT to do, be, have something.  How many of them take the time to sit down (or stand up as the case may be) and actually do it?  How many distractions can one person have before their WANT simply becomes their DREAM and then later their REGRET.

Dreams Road Sign

 

This is the mantra I have to keep telling myself over and over. When I get tired or don’t want to sit down at the computer, I repeat it.

It seems so simple. It seems like one of those things that you read and say “Of course. What else would you think you needed to do?”

Even knowing it isn’t enough. It’s never that easy. How many ideas do I currently have sitting on my computer or flash drive that are waiting for me to finish them?  Dozens.  How many are finished?  Not nearly enough (not by a long shot). So why can’t I get there every time? What’s the hold up?

Sometimes it is the FEAR. The FEAR that what I’m writing is not going to be liked. I’m just as worried that by finishing said story or script or novel or whatever that people will read the FINISHED product and not like it and then where did my work get me?  What a waste, right?

ed-dans-ed-wood-de-tim-burton-10967401cmebh_1713

Really? Worst film you ever saw. Well, my next one will be better.

I have to convince myself that it isn’t a waste. That with each word that I write (and rewrite and edit and then even the ones I cut) means I am one inch closer to where I need to be. I get to that million words and beyond.

So that unfinished thing is doing you so much good then?  Sure, you can’t get hurt if you don’t finish it, but I have to say, putting that final word down on the page and knowing that you have actually completed something.  That’s got to be worth something.

Right?

When somebody posts their finished piece of art or script or whatever, they are 1 million times ahead of me with my dozens of unfinished products.  It doesn’t matter how much better of a writer I THINK I am because they have already lapped me 4 or 5 times.

I know plenty of people (I am one of those people sometimes) that start a project and get bored and then jump to another project, get bored, wash, rinse, repeat.  At the end of a year, they have enough stuff that you’d think they’d have a Finished Product, but instead, it is spread out over ten different things. Ten different UNFINISHED things. Ugh.

It’s an odd thing that really in the last year I feel like I’ve started to have real successes on the writing side of things, but even those are still not quite finished. Sure, issue #1 of The Gilded Age is complete, but I think I allowed myself about 5 minutes to enjoy that it existed in a tangible format before my brain started spinning on when the next issue would be finished. Same with Tiger Style #1.

The greatest thing about comic books is that it is a collaborative process. You need a writer and an artist and maybe an inker and a colorist and a letterer and an editor before the whole thing is ready and done.

The worst thing about comic books is that it is a collaborative process. And that you need to have those other people because when anyone point slips, the whole process comes to a complete halt. I don’t get the artist the next issue’s script, well I guess that is going to delay the book. The inker doesn’t get the pencils by the deadline… now we have another delay. And so on.

It can be maddening. It’s one of the reasons I started writing a novel in the first place. Finally, something that is totally on me and only me to get done.

Only. On. Me.

Gulp.

Yeah, so now who do I get to blame when my next chapter isn’t written yet? Who do I get to blame when that second draft is still waiting to get done?

Oh, that would be me.

Even now as I seemingly crawl through the last bit of editing on my first novel, The Dark That Follows, it doesn’t really exist until it is done. Before that it is just another unfinished project hoping for me to put the time in and get it out the door. The serial I’m working on with J Edward Neill, Hollow Empire, has many chapters completed in various forms (some in needed of editing, some ready for a read through, etc.), but until Episode 6 is complete and edited and out the door it just is another thing “I’m working on”. The next issue of The Gilded Age or Tiger Style or whatever else is coming down the pipeline.

So I repeat my mantra and put my butt in the seat and start typing.

***

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

Piece by Piece – The Dark That Follows Short

From the world of The Dark That Follows comes a short story featuring the main character, Jason Mills.

For those not familiar with The Dark That Follows, it’s the story of a Fortune Teller who can really see the future. He has a client come in and when he peers into what is going to happen to him, he finds nothing but darkness. Through the course of the book, he finds out there are larger forces at work trying to bring about the end of the world.

Piece by Piece focuses on something a little less “end of the world”. Jason is approached by a client who wants to find an inheritance left to him… he just isn’t sure where it is. It’s a use of the Future Sight power I’d not seen really before. If you’d like to check it out for free, you can find it on the Tessera Site here.

 

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

 

***

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