Once Upon A Time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

It’s the only way to go forward.

***

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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

I Remember Halloween

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I love how the weather (normally, just not this year in Georgia) cools off and Autumn greets us. I love that for a month we allow ourselves to get scared… just a little bit. A month where adults are allowed to act a little like the children we used to be.

But I also have a weird time with the holiday.

You see, I was raised Jehovah Witness, so the number of Trick or Treat nights I got to go on was about 2 that I remember. As a teenager, it was too late to make such trips along the neighborhood and apparently I must have been “too cool” to actually use my younger siblings to gather up some excess candy.

But I do have some good October memories:

1 – I remember being about 10 and spending the night at a friend’s house and somehow getting permission to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street. I’m not sure if I actually had nightmares, but I knew that if I did I needed to keep such things to myself, otherwise Mom might not allow me to watch those types of movies anymore.

2 – I remember watching the old creature feature style horror movies on late night. The Creature from the Black Lagoon probably scared me the most even while I still felt bad for him.

3 – As a teenager, three of us sat in the front row of Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead. At the end of the movie, we stood up and chastised the audience by saying that they needed to give Freddy a moment of silence.

Image by Simon Wijers from Pixabay

4 – The multiple times over the years of going to my friend Lee’s house to watch any sort of horror movie. They range from some classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Fly to Dead Snow and Teeth.

5 – I brought Teeth to the party. I actually thought there was some good there. I was clearly the only one who appreciated it.

6 – I may still be mocked today.

7 – Those nights were how Courtney and I watched the first 3 Paranormal Activities. Back to back to back.

8 – I did get to dress up as both Batman and Darth Vader over the course of 2 years.

9 – During one of those years, I split my pants and had to hide my issue with the cape included with the costume.

10 – I went to a costume gathering/party as Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Basically a white t-shirt with the words “ho ho ho, now I have a machine gun”. Mostly because it was last minute… and I’m lazy.

11 – The last time I dressed up was as Fry from Futurama (complete with the pizza box!) probably 4 years ago.

12 – I do have a “scary” mask upstairs that flashes a glowing light. I may have worn it once for about 10 minutes (it is not comfortable).

13 – But I think my favorite memory is that one October night where my mom made pigs-in-a-blanket and we watched Disney’s The Headless Horseman on tv. A story which is still one of my all-time favorites.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

Summertime in the Deep South

So many of my memories of childhood seem very similar to my mother’s. I think those things connect us through the decades.

***

Summertime in the Deep South

By: Mickey McGuire

Reflection is a commonplace occurrence now that I am sixty. It’s said that as we grow older we start living in the past. I think that’s true to an extent. Short- term memory starts to fade, but our long-term memories are there to relish and relive. My favorite memories of childhood were summer in the Deep South- to be specific, Waycross, Georgia, a railroad town twelve miles northwest of the Okefenokee Swamp and forty miles north of the Florida line. A simpler time, the children of the South lived a slower and sweeter existence. Here are some of my memories from those summers of childhood and teenage years:

Being barefoot from June 1st- September 1st

Shoes came off the day after school ended and went back on when school resumed- hard and fast rule, no sooner or no later.

Sleeping in a room so hot you couldn’t breathe- waiting for Daddy to go to sleep so I could raise a window for the breeze

He was old school and believed a draft over you while sleeping would give you pneumonia.

Watching Daddy plant and tend the summer garden

He always planted purple hull peas, butter beans, Silver Queen corn, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, yellow squash, sometimes eggplant- never zucchini.

Shelling peas and butter beans on the porch in the morning when it was still cool enough to stand it

Eating only garden vegetables for supper with bacon as the meat

Sleeping on cool, crisp sheets that dried in the sunshine

Trying to catch dragonflies off the clothesline- feeling squeamish when I actually caught one with their buzzing wings in my fingers

Catching grasshoppers and caterpillars- trying to race caterpillars

Getting a whipping with the fly swatter from Momma

It was usually because I sassed her or went somewhere that I wasn’t supposed to go.

My last whipping was about 10 or 11 when I stood there not crying- guess she knew a whipping was of no use after that.

Thunderstorms – rain pouring down in sheets from roof/ sitting on our front porch until Momma made me come in because of the lightning

Wading in mud on the dirt road after a good rain- looking for air pockets in the dirt to pop

Drinking sweet ice tea the color of river water

Only one small pitcher was made daily, and I had to wait until supper to drink it. The rest of the day I drank Coke or water.

Going to the air- conditioned grocery stores once a week- Winn-Dixie, Pic-N-Save, Piggly- Wiggly, and later on Harveys- wearing a polka- dotted green and pink mumu dress/gawking at the bagboys and being on cloud nine if they flirted with me

Being able to have ice cream whenever I wanted

Daddy bought a deep freezer when I was ten. Ice cream was always fudge ripple, Neapolitan, butter pecan, or black walnut.

Sleeping until noon as a teenager on Saturday mornings and waking to the smell of cut grass through the bedroom window

Weekends when we went fishing- either fresh water fishing on the Little Satilla River or salt water fishing at the Fernandina Beach pier.

Going to Harriet’s Bluff fish camp every summer for a week to fish- my mother’s idea of heaven on earth- me catching the most fish almost every day

Learning to French kiss for the first time with a boy I met at Harriet’s Bluff

Sleepovers with my best friend Sandra at her house or mine- marveling at the deliciousness of the macaroni and cheese her mother made with the red rind cheese.

Planning our futures to live next door to each other, maybe marry brothers, go to nursing school together, putting on men’s cologne

Going to the skating rink almost every weekend before we could drive- waiting to be asked to skate during “couples only”

Having our drivers’ licenses and FREEDOM!!

I had used my parents’ car for my besties Sandra and Chad to complete the driving portion of their tests despite the fact their parents had forbidden them to drive.

Having my first wreck on the way to work- the first time I realized how the difference of split seconds may cause your demise despite no wrongdoing on your part

First true heartbreak when my boyfriend cheated on me with another girl- Fourth of July, 1973. I have never liked that date since.

The summer of 1974 was a blur in retrospect- mentally preparing for leaving home at seventeen, shopping, saying goodbye to friends and family members.  I was going to nursing school-leaving Waycross for the big city Atlanta. There I would meet my future husband at Georgia Tech, my life path forever changed. The sweet summers of my childhood and teenage years disappeared and were replaced with summers blurred with responsibilities of adulthood.Time to savor vanished. Only now forty years later have I begun to pause and wait and listen and absorb once again. This empty nest phase scary at first, I am slowly acclimating and beginning to appreciate its significance.

Time to savor vanished.Only now forty years later have I begun to pause and wait and listen and absorb once again. This empty nest phase scary at first, I am slowly acclimating and beginning to appreciate its significance.

Only now forty years later have I begun to pause and wait and listen and absorb once again. This empty nest phase scary at first, I am slowly acclimating and beginning to appreciate its significance.

New memories of summer:

First cup of coffee to the buzz of hummingbirds

Comforting routines with my animals

Applauding successes of my three children

Laughing and playing grandchildren

Sweet tea all day (with half the sugar)

Part-time nursing

Naps and reading

Shopping

Trips

And, the best…

Barefoot all year long

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

200 Word RPG – Memories

In my experiment to jump from tabletop RPG wanna-lancer to freelancer, there are games and games and games that need to be read and played. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Every new game is a chance to learn or a chance to be awed. Today’s inspirational game is a find from the 200 Word RPG Challenge. Since 2015, the 200 Word RPG Challenge solicits game designers to create a full RPG using only 200 words. For the uninitiated, most RPGs can’t get across their full rules in 200 pages. Putting a hard limit on the number of words you can use to describe the game rules, and setting that number lower than a post-bankruptcy credit score, makes this difficult in the extreme. To design any coherent game with that word limit is an amazing accomplishment. Santiago Eximeno’s Memories doesn’t just answer the challenge, it offers a game that is an emotional roller coaster. That’s delivering so much in so small a package that I had to share this game and take my hat off to the creator’s accomplishment.

Santiago Eximeno‘s Memories, reprinted in its entirety under the CC-BY-4.0 License.

Memories • 2017rpgwinner

Santiago Eximeno • www.eximeno.com

You are elderly people in a Nursing home. No one comes to see you anymore. You want to talk with others, tell them about your life, your dreams, and your memories.

Sit around a table. Get nine matches and an ashtray. Cut a paper sheet in nine pieces and write a word in each piece. These words are your conversation topics.

CHILD  LOVE  SPOUSE  WORK  FRIEND  GAME  TRAVEL  GRANDCHILD  HOME

One of you take a piece of paper and begins to talk about the topic in it. While speaking he lights a match and set fire to the paper in the ashtray. All of you talk about the proposed topic until the paper is consumed. Then a new elder takes another piece of paper and proceeds in the same way, but all of you have forgotten your memories related to the previous topic. You cannot use them in the new conversation. If the memories are necessary (for example, you must have CHILD in order to have GRANDCHILD), you must justify it in another way.

Finish when the nine pieces of paper have been burned —and, with them, all your memories.

 

200 Word RPG Challenge judge Brent Newhall called this game a “gut punch”. I’ve never played a game that crafts this amount of emotion through the rules. I’ve had emotional gaming sessions but the rules rarely drove the sentiment. The flames and the burning of memories while you are trying to maintain a coherent character and personality is a challenge that calls for a special kind of player. The frustration that the player experiences as they realize that they cannot use that prior memory because it’s gone evokes the exact atmosphere this game dwells in. Memories is a well-considered and realized approach to gaming in 200 words. It proves that amazing games are not just found in thick tomes, that the execution of the concept is what matters. Clearly, this would not be an easy game to play from an emotional point of view but one that may generate a lasting memory.

Santiago Eximeno’s website is here and find Memories on his website here. The 200 Word RPG Challenge, with more free entries to play, can be found here.

 

 

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My Tessera Guild-mate, Robert (Route 3) Jeffrey II, is still running his Kickstarter as is my friend and publisher, Michael (Grond) Phillips. I cannot recommend checking out these Kickstarters enough!

Route 3

Route 3 by Robert Jeffrey II and Sean Damien Hill
Ends on .

“Centuries old prophecies. Shadowy government conspiracies. Super heroic action. Just a typical day for teenager Sean Anderson. Route 3.”

Check out the Kickstarter here – Route 3

Grond 3

Grond #3 by Michael Phillips
Ends on .

“Grond is now Kallok. Obberoth is dead. Valara’s fate is decided by Ugreth. Oublar is close to getting what he desires, being Mok’Dar.”

Catch up on the back issues and support the creation of the current issue on Kickstarter here – Grond #3

 

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Goonie Adventures

The GooniesSpielberg’s classic The Goonies turned 30 this year. I was 9 years old when the movie was released. I can’t tell you whether I saw that movie on the big screen or not, but regardless of whether I did or did not, it left an impression. I wanted to be a Goonie.

There were many Saturday’s spent in the woods around our Maryland home, exploring and discovering. We called them our Goonie Adventures. We’d make pack lunches, hop on our bikes, and be gone most of the day. Some days it was a trip to a playground that was much farther than we should have been traveling by bike. Other days we played in the creek, walked across fallen trees, and made up our own adventure stories.

Looking back now, it’s amazing we came away from that time unscathed. I also wonder now, how many of kids from my generation had their own Goonie adventures? Were you a Goonie too?

Here are some fun links to celebrate:

20 Swashbuckling Facts about The Goonies

The Goonies Turns 30: Where are they now?

How Well do you Remember The Goonies? (Quiz)

I haven’t seen this movie in about 9 years, so I consider this a good score!

You got 9 out of 12 right!

  1. Well done

    Seems like you got tricked by a few booby traps, but you’ve definitely seen this movie more than a few times.

 

🙂