Turn the Page on 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


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

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

In Our Dreams Awake

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


The Crossing

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

Another Comic Project

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

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


S.O.U.L. Mate

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

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

Image by G.C. from Pixabay

Untold Series

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


Hollow Empire

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

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

Short Stories

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


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


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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Is It Enough?

When is enough, enough?

I’m in the process of doing an edit on my current novel: S.O.U.L. Mate and am approaching the finish line with it. Well, relatively speaking, I have about 25% of the book left to edit. And once that’s done I’ll have all the notes from my Alpha reader (Courtney) to address certain deficiencies with the current draft.

This book has been a little different than my other books in not only the subject and the style (first person is something I’ve only played around with in some of my short stories). It is also one that I went through a bit of writer’s block to the point that I set it aside and actually wrote an entirely different book before finally coming back to it early this year.

It is still a little incomplete if I’m being honest.

You see, I had a rough outline for the book. I’ve tried the write by the seat of your pants way and I’ve tried outlines, and outlines work better for me. It provides a bit of a roadmap, but it doesn’t tell me every stop along the way. It makes sure I reach my final destination but also doesn’t limit what exits I might take. It- you know, I think you get it.

But even with the outline, there were things missing. And I actually mean “things”. A very vague and non-specific amount of things. To the point that I had to tell Courtney, I knew things were missing from the draft, but I had no idea what they might actually be. So I asked her, begged really, to tell me what was missing. Where had I ignored something that she expected to read about within the book? Had I neglected any characters (yes, it turns out, I really had). Was there moments we needed to see (absolutely missed a couple of perfect moments that I’ll need to go back and finish up or add a new section/chapter).

The weird thing is thinking about what needs to be added when normally at this point in the process my job is to trim things. It is to make the prose tighter where possible. Say something in 5 words instead of using 10. That sort of thing. But this book has been different because I’m using writing muscles I don’t normally use.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of pencils down recently. It has popped up in my day job where certain reports have been edited and edited to the point where we are taking sections out in review 5 that we added back in review 3 because they no longer work. Which, to me, is an indication that we need to stop trying for perfection. Perfect is the enemy of done.

So I think about that, and then think about the editing and wonder, when is enough, enough? When will the work be ready to put out into the world? When will I be ready to have it out there?

And then I also think about the idea that nothing is ever really finished.

Or maybe the thing is finished when I have put all my best efforts into it?

Or maybe it’s finished when the missing pieces are all filled in. If writing a book is like a puzzle, I only need to find the missing parts and then add them into all the blank areas, right?

So, I’m not there yet with this one. I still have a little ways to go, but it is getting closer with every chapter I print out, with every word I change or cut or add or tweak, and it is slowly becoming the end thing I’ve been trying to get out of my brain and onto the computer.


Well, soonish.


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 2020

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay


It has been the fastest, longest year that there has ever been. Obviously, the world has experienced a year unlike any in over a hundred years. I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had any direct loss in my family or friends from the virus, but I know a number of people who have been affected by this. To say it derailed any plans everyone might have had for 2020 would be the understatement of the century. When it came to writing, I must admit that from around March to June, that took a backseat to just… wrapping my head around the new normal. It’s like I would sit down to start working on something and my mind would become occupied with the real world and the escapism just disappeared.

Weirdly, one of the things I found to give me a form of peace was Soduku. Somehow working my way through those puzzles helped to soothe me. I also rewatched Firefly in those early weeks, treating it as if it was only coming on one time a week (on Friday night).  Just anything to get by.

On the positive side, it was writing the Comic Book, the Crossing Issue 2, that snapped me out of my initial haze. And it became something of a better second half of the year. As I approach these last few days of 2020, I’m only a few chapters from finishing the draft on a new novel.

So let’s recap:

The Echo Effect is released!

This is my second full-length novel that I’ve released. It was a long time coming (years since I wrote the first words), but I believe that in the time between The Dark That Follows and this that my writing skills have improved by leaps and bounds. In addition, I released it for the first couple of weeks for only $0.99 for the Kindle version, something I’d not ever really done before. And I dipped my toe in the water of advertising and promotions for this release and saw some successes and know much more for the next time.

The Crossing Issue 1 is released!

Not only did we run a Kickstarter as the world began to be gripped by COVID-19, but it was also fulfilled this year. Any release of something I helped to create is such an awesome moment, but with every page completed, I got to see it come to life in a way that few ever really understand.

Love’s Labour’s Liberated RPG Zine is released!

While it was over a year late (not good), we managed to get it to those backers finally. I’m proud of my first work in the RPG side of things, being able to help create ideas that hopefully will be used by others in their games is a very cool feeling. However, the big thing I learned from this project was the importance of having the item done. Too many Kickstarter projects seem to drag on and on and that only creates a potential problem with those who contribute money to them. If you or I am going to go back to these people over and over, we have to be considerate of them.

Tales from Vigilante City is released!

While short stories are often considered the step-child compared to novels, there is something great about being able to get in and tell a smaller story. Something that doesn’t take months (or years, hopefully) to write. Something that can be read and absorbed over a smaller frame of time. “Anonymous” was my contribution to this more grim and gritty, street-level collection of super-hero stories. I like to think of it as a story that could have been told in an issue of Detective Comics.

What else:

I published a blog for 51 out of 52 weeks this year!

Sadly, my streak of like 7 years was accidentally broken when I forgot to hit submit on a blog post and then didn’t realize it until the following week. This year, without the ability to go to conventions and write about that, meant that there were more than a couple of late Tuesday nights where I had to find some inspiration for the week’s blog. In the new year, I’m hoping that as vaccines become available, perhaps some convention reports will actually happen.

SOULmate is 95% finished.

I have about 2 and 1/2 chapters left to write. A sci-fi novel with a twist for me, it is written entirely in first person. Which is working writing muscles that many times I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. This first draft will need a heavy edit to be sure (my tenses are switching between present and past all the time). But, the biggest thing is always getting that first draft onto the page. After that, it becomes more about streamlining the story, adding pieces here and there, editing other pieces to smooth it all out.

Hollow Empire EP 9 is finished.

It needs an edit and a cover and then it is ready for prime time. I may hold it until I can get another Episode completed, but that was another big accomplishment this year. I would love to do a couple of these a year as I love playing in the world and love the characters that Jeremy and I created.


I have a pair of short stories that I’m shopping around to various magazines and websites. Which means rejection, but I believe in the stories. I have no doubt they will eventually find the right home.


Looking at the above, that’s a fair amount of “stuff” to have done in the past year. When you are in the thick of things, it is sometimes hard to tell where you are in the process, but these milestones always afford a nice way to look back and really take stock. For those of you who have been with me on this journey, I appreciate it.

Now let’s put a sword through 2020’s heart and move on to a better time!


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

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

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

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

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com