Just Remember Me When

Sometimes these things take time. And by the time I mean way too long to actually have passed before a story leaves your head and hits the page. And sometimes you can ensure a speedier process by just outlining and sitting butt in chair. But sometimes the finish line is so close that it completely eludes you. There is nothing to do but wait patiently while it all comes together.

That’s what happened yesterday. A couple of years worth of thinking about possibly, maybe we can, no we can’t, what’s it missing, what does it need? When will it be finished?

Yesterday Courtney and I released our second Veronica Mars Amazon Kindle Worlds Novella! You can find it right here!

Because much like Pringle’s, you can’t just write one story in the Veronica Mars universe and be completely satisfied. There are too many possible characters to write about. When our first novella came out, I wrote about it here. In that, the character of Max was not only the easiest choice, but it felt like no one else would immediately use her for their own stores. This time around if you are writing during season 1 or most of season 2, you can’t avoid the character of Duncan Kane. He’s Veronica’s on again/off again boyfriend. Yet, at times you really don’t know what’s going on in his head very much. To both of us that presented an opportunity to maybe see what makes this character work or not.

No biggie, just hanging out with the Ghost of my dead sister.

His parents are controlling. His sister was murdered (and for a while, it looked like he might have been the culprit). He is best friends with the guy is now dating his ex (and rooming with the guy).The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

There some complex stuff going on in there. Add to that the summer sessions between seasons make for decent fodder in the “I want to know what you did last summer” vibe.The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

That said, the reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Which seems counter to how this whole thing should work.Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).

“Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).”

Pretty straight forward, right?

What happened was we wrote 90% of it and then couldn’t quite figure out what the missing 10% was. Some of it was massaging what we had, but some were to add in new scenes, try some different kinds of story-telling in the B story with his therapist sessions.

What we have now is something we’re both very happy with. I’m interested to see how it does in comparison with the first one.

An excerpt from the novella:

You’d think she’d care a little bit more about what happened, but the woman is unbreakable. It is always about appearances with her. And right now, she can’t go to any of the dinner parties without the looks of pity from everyone she knows. She can’t spin it, so the next best thing is to remove herself from the equation until enough time has passed that it doesn’t matter anymore. Some new scandal will reveal itself and things will return to her version of normal.

She tries to make it all about me, but truthfully, it’s all about her.

Her image.

Her social class.

Her life.

I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it’s better to sit there and remain silent. And then there are the other times. “Don’t you think the justice system might look poorly on Dad leaving the country given the obstruction charges?”

Her look is a mixture of astonishment that I‘d even bring up her husband’s temporary incarceration, and her defense mechanism immediately deflects. “Don’t worry about that. That’s why we pay our lawyers the immense fees.” Then, without missing a beat. “Now go pack. I want to leave early in the morning.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.” I’m sure it won’t matter. She never listens. “I’m staying. I have classes. Finals.”

“Didn’t you hear me; you can do all of that over the computer.”

“No.”

“Duncan. This isn’t a request. You will-“

“I’m tired of being handled. That’s all you do anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because you feel guilty about how Lilly didn’t follow in your footsteps or what? Do you think if you control every little thing I do then nothing bad can ever happen again?”

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Resolutions, 2017

It’s gone… just like that. 2016. That bitch of a year that saw so many artists and creatives who touched our lives through various mediums pass on… it’s really only a couple of days left now. And it comes to me that I need to write my look back and then look forward for the new year.

And what I’ve learned is that the old saying “best laid plans” and all of that doesn’t always mean that you actually hit all the goals or even enough of the goals to feel like the year might have been a success.

But I feel like I’ve been creative. I feel like I’ve pushed some projects forward, but the madness of not quite getting to where you want to be, what you wanted to have produced is there as well. I can only blame myself for (most of) the things I haven’t managed to finish. So there while be boxes unchecked for this past year which will slide to 2017.

Writing Dark

The Look Back – 2016

The White Effect

The goal was to send it out. To try to find someone who might take a second or third look. Maybe, possibly, perhaps find a crack in the business.

I spent most of the beginning of the year sending out queries to various agents, and when that failed, looked to contests that might get me in front of editors. The ones who responded decided to pass.

That’s a little bit of a dagger. Death by a thousand cuts as it were. I was mentally prepared for that, but I’m not sure I was emotionally prepared for it.

The Edge of the World

Nope. Didn’t finish a second draft. Didn’t hire an editor. Didn’t do anything…

But I am in a different place with it than a year ago. I want to send it out. I want to see if maybe this one is the one.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

S.O.U.L. Mate

About 1/3 of the way through the first draft. This is both my big accomplishment and also another failure as I wanted to be done with it as well.

Where the hell did the year go?

The Dark That Follows 2

No update on this one.

The Crossing Comic

No update on this one.

Mystery Comic

Never got off the ground. Such is the way of these things…

Blogging

This is still on-time, every week. I’m not the machine that Mr. Neill is, but my hope is always that I make myself an asset for Tessera Guild.

Mystery Book

I did write a book this year. It was a present for my wife, and it took the majority of December to pull it off, but I got it done. I’m proud of that.

Short Stories

I continued to work on a handful of shorts, but didn’t get any of them to the finished point. Sigh.

blue-five

The Look Ahead – 2017

So in light of a year where not as much writing was done as should have/could have been… what’s the plan for 2017? Do I pull back a bit on the expectations? Do I try to set things up as being more realistic?

Nah. I need to push. I need to push myself.

The White Effect

Hire editor. Get published this year. Enough is enough. Time to polish this one and put it out there.

Edge of the World

Draft 2. Query Letters. It no one bites, find some other options. Worst case… hire editor. Get published by end of the year.

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft.

That seems realistic.

The Gilded Age

There is talk of a Kickstarter to help with the print costs in the Spring. Talk about maddening… this project shouldn’t have taken as long as it has. Could it be? Can it be? Done?

We shall see.

Short stories

See under blogging, but I need to finish up the few I have which are very close.

Veronica Mars Novella 2

Got delayed and pushed back. We’re soooo close at this point. So close. It will be published.

blogging-image

Blogging

Obviously I want to continue to not miss a week. The best thing about Tessera is that it provides me with an absolute reason to sit my butt in the chair and get the work done. It puts me on a schedule. Yes, the hope is that someone likes what I blog about and maybe checks out a book, but it’s as much for me as it is for anyone else.

This year I’d like to push it a little more. Find a way to have some regular columns. Maybe try to do a Kickstart the Comic once a month. Maybe a Behind the Comic every month.

I’d like to get some of my fiction writing on here. There is no reason not to possibly serialize something for Tessera. Maybe I just need to set my mind to it.

 

As per normal, I’m probably biting off more than I can chew, but… but… you never know. Maybe this is the year that I hit all my goals and some.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Sadly, There Is No Easy Button For You

Spam has taken on a new meaning for me ever since I decided to publish The Dark That Follows and start writing a weekly blog. Then again, spam has probably morphed over time regardless to what I’ve done. It just seems I’m paying attention to some of it more than I might have been in the past.

no-junk-mail

“Click here to sell more books today!”

“Learn how to drive more traffic to your blog!”

“The only way to write 10k words in a minute!”

“Make her excited-” erm… OK, maybe not that one. But you get the point.

According to when and where I actually come across these potential articles/blog posts/click-bait/random something else all determines as to if I’ll actually click on them. Yes, many times I stumble across them while I’m in the midst of some other internet rabbit hole, but most of the time I search these damn things out.

Why?

I mean, I’m not dumb. I get what they are doing. However, I also am in this weird place whereby I want to learn the secrets they supposedly have to share. I keep thinking that while I might not be Shakespeare or Twain or insert your favorite author here in talent level, there are literally hundreds of authors who have figured all of this out while not… well, they try, but…

OK, let’s face it. A lot of them aren’t very good at actually stringing two words together. Ask them to put more than four or five in a row with punctuation? Well, that’s the end of that idea.

But they have it figured out. Right?

easy-button

They’ve found the magical EASY BUTTON! So I click on their link and read and try to find that nugget of information which will blow my mind. That knowledge where just prior to it I was only a monkey and now afterwards I am able to use tools and make a fire. This is the type of stuff I’m looking for.

It eludes me.

I do everything wrong. Or in the wrong order. Or I’m impatient. Or I’m too patient. I don’t have enough time to write. I have too much time to write. I goof off. I don’t goof off. I should reach out to more people. How do you reach out to more people? Get involved with a group. I did that, nothing’s changed.

My mind becomes a barren wasteland full of left over billboards which say the above… dotting the horizon with their mocking attempts to “HELP” me.

***

A side story – When I applied to go to Georgia Tech there was a little spot on the form where you could put a Major or you could put Undecided. Now when I filled this out, I was in the midst of thinking I wanted to be a computer programmer. As such, during my senior year in high school I took a Computer Programming class. I’m pretty sure I was doing well in the class (well enough), and the last thing I wanted to do was put Undecided. That might make it seem like I didn’t have my shit together (I was 18… of course I didn’t have my shit together). So I put Computer Science down.

Fast forward to my first quarter at Tech. I’ve long since given up the idea of going into computers. By the end of the year I just didn’t feel like I “got it”. It was hard to explain, but I figured out I wanted to go into Civil Engineering.

And that’s when I found out that because Civil Engineering was “Full” I couldn’t transfer in. However, I could have done so if I had been Undecided.

<Slaps head.>

So I went and talked to the head of the department during the Fall. He told me to come back during Winter Quarter. So I went during Winter Quarter… still no openings. Come Spring I was beginning to wonder if I needed to escalate this foolishness. Maybe reach out to someone else (not sure who I was going to reach out to, but something needed to be done!).

I knew the classes I needed to take. Nothing prevented me from taking them. As long as there was an opening in them, you could enroll in pretty much any class. When I went to talk to the new head of the department he gave me more of the same song and dance.

<I wonder if this was the same game the insurance companies do when they immediately deny anything you apply for thinking that most will stop there?>

At that point I’d had enough of the run around. I remember shaking his hand, thanking him for his time, and letting him know that I would see him that Summer to have the same conversation. Furthermore, I knew the classes I needed to take to become a Civil Engineer, and that was the path I was going to head down. So whether he let me in then or in a year I was going to get in.

He blinked. Asked me if I was telling the truth about my classes that quarter (I was). There was a pause, and then he asked to see my form to transfer into the School of Civil Engineering.

***

wall-crack

I wrote the above to remind myself that this writing gig is just the same.

I’m stubborn.

This is my gift. This is my curse.

I will bang my head against that wall until the wall collapses.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Behind the Comic – Anatomy of a Panel

behindthemusic-thumb-3

One panel.

How much can we cram into one panel? It’s one moment of a story. Yet, in a medium where you might only have 5-6 of them on a page, and then perhaps only 20-24 pages total… there’s not a lot of room to waste. Every panel has to have a purpose within the story.

gildedage0204_pencils-panel-1

 

The Gilded Age

At a time where the Industrial Revolution collides with the twilight of magic, the vaudevillian Branning Troupe, made up of actors and carnival folk, moves throughout Europe performing its acts. And each member has their own desires and secrets…

Issue #2

Page 4 – Panel 1&2

The Team

Pencils – Sheldon Mitchell

Inks – Rich Perotta

Colors – Tom Chu

Letters – Khari Sampson

Concept

A slight cheat, but as you can see, these two panels are really pieces of each other. Much like on TV or at the movies where I wanted to try to emulate that idea of transferring from a previous moment to this moment… here and now. Then we pull out to see this man: Silas Gideon. As much as anything else, and even though we see him on the first 3 pages, this is our real introduction to the man for whom this story is about.

So what do we see?

A gun, empty glasses, a mechanical arm, a long face, and scars… lots and lots of scars. This is a man who, as the previous pages would show, has been through wars. More than that, this is a man who is weary. Perhaps someone who has to find a bit of sanctuary inside the bottom of a glass. Someone who knows the way of the gun and is tired of it.

The Script

Page 4 Panel 1

Inset panel.  Close-up on Silas’s eye.  Now.  He is older (forty-something), so the years of service, battle, have aged him.  There is an intensity that occupies his face… his “being”.

Narration – Greece, 1881

Page 4 Panel 2

Pull back and see that he’s staring at his own reflection in a dirty old mirror (the kind that would sit on top of a dresser), the edges of which have already turned a milky white.  He should have his fair share of scaring along his chest, old bullet wounds, knife slashes, and other untold ones.

Here you can see what I wrote. These were the things I was trying to convey to the artist. I try to explain something more than just the image that I have in my own mind to the artist. My hope is to give them a glimpse of what I’m thinking. Technically I could have said “Close-up on Silas’s eye.” and that would have probably been enough. However, I need to add more (for my sake as much as anything). Talk about the battles. Talk about the intensity.

In panel 2, I’m trying to convey more about what is around him because panel 1 is about him (why I coupled these two panels together here). I spent most of my time with the scaring, because I believe, more than anything, this scarring is just an external image of what he is internally fighting for every day.

gildedage0204_lettered-panel-1

 

The dialogue that was included in the image above is not in the script. Actually, it is in the script, but was listed under Panel 3. The letterer shifted it to this panel which is an interesting choice. Sometimes they’ll do that so as to fit my words on a page, but Khari Sampson is adept at reading the script, seeing the images, and acting as a final eye on the project. Here the shift adds to that little bit extra to a panel that might have been needing just a little bit more.

It’s spoken by someone off-stage (someone we’ll meet in the very next panel, in fact).

“Does it bother you anymore?”

What? Life? Death? All of it? That’s our question. That is a heavy line for a man who might not know what answer to give.

***

Comics at their core are collaborative. They must be. You take an idea, give it shape with words, the artist turns those words into a visual, the colorist blending colors in and out of the shapes, and the letterer finding a way to fit sometimes way too many words into the space of one panel.

Every piece needing to work in conjunction so as to build a story.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

10 Ways Not To Sell Books

Don’t…

button-1182750_1280

1 – Think that by putting out one book, your work is all over.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but the work doesn’t end when you write “The End” on your manuscript. And it doesn’t end when you press publish on the Amazon dashboard.

No, now you have to figure out how to get people to actually download/buy the damn thing. How to convince them to actually read the book. And then get them to leave a Review.

Start that all over again.

2 – Randomly put out one book, and then nothing else for over a year.

If someone takes the time to read one of your works, finish it, and like it – then you need to be able to point them into another direction: another book. Having only one thing in your catalog puts far too much pressure on that title to over perform.

3 – Not have some kind of series of books.

Having more than one book in a series means that if you hook someone with book 1, you’re going to make a sale of book 2 and 3 and so on.

4 – Genre hop.

This ties in with the above. When you hop around genre’s you may get to tell all sorts of stories, but it may make it where your books can’t help each other. What if you have done a romance and then a science fiction and then an epic fantasy? The amount of cross-over readers for those three genres are going to be small.

Editing

5 – Bother to edit.

Odds are you aren’t coming up with pure gold spun from your fingertips. You’ll need to hone and refine those words on the screen. Follow that up with some outside help. Another set of eyes will go a long way to reducing any number of dumb mistakes (and there will be plenty).

6 – Post only to Amazon.

Why? Why would you potentially limit your exposure?

7 – Post your eBook EVERYWHERE.

Why? Why wouldn’t you go exclusive with Amazon? Do you not like money?

Everyone with an opinion has one on this: do you go WIDE or NARROW. Long term going WIDE means you’ll potentially get more eyes on your stuff. People who don’t go to Amazon for their reading experiences. Short term (and medium term), going exclusive with Amazon may mean more eyes up front = more potential money sooner.

8 – Spend too much time and money on advertising.

There is this thought that the single best bit of advertising you can and should do for your book is to write the next book in the series. So every moment you delay, is a potential reader possibly not finding you.

books-messy

9 – Print too many copies of their book.

Having your book in print is an amazing thing. As much as I appreciate how eBooks have changed the landscape, there is something amazing about holding your own book in your hands. Still, you should be realistic on your sales. And maybe you should order in the 10s as opposed to the 100s.

10 – Think that you have all the answers…

Because no one has any idea what the “Right” way to do any of this. For every person with a terrible concept, cover, lack of edits, etc. holding them back – others are chugging right along having only spent about five bucks on a cover and no editing whatsoever.

joker-all-apart-of-the-plan

There is a very fine line between doing something stupid and having it all be “a part of the plan”. There is a finer line between experimentation and making a mistake. Whatever you do, make sure you have a reason for doing it. That way, even if you’re wrong, you can at least know why you went down that particular path.

***

Full disclosure – I have done some (much), if not nearly everything on the above list. I have done them willingly. No one had to twist my arm to ensure it would happen. I have my own excuses. Some legitimate. Some probably (definitely) not so legitimate. I’ve genre hopped. I’ve had way too long go between books. I’ve published only on Amazon and then gone wide with something else. I’ve tried some advertising and no advertising.

Luckily (for my readers), I have had editing done. That one is/was/will be a deal breaker for me.

I’m still learning. Still making those mistakes.

I’m mostly waiting for the EASY BUTTON, myself. That’ll make this whole process that much easier.

(That’s probably #11 right there.)

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Could My Brain Be Evil?

The month of October is the absolute perfect time for that favorite pastime of mine: watching horror movies. I love the bad ones that everyone else hates and somehow only takes a couple of friends mocking it to make it seem all the better. I love the classics that everyone agree on as being the best of the best. New, old, black and white monster movies to slasher flicks to haunted house stories…

I love horror movies.

***

October is also a different kind of month for me. It is that last month which promises to be productive for writing before the hectic natures of November and December appear to rip every last bit of free time from me until the new year. Much like when you were in school and you had two weeks to turn in that report, but you decided to put things off day after day, because there was always a little more time there… before you know it, the thing is due and you’re up until four in the morning, blurred vision, just trying to get something on the page.

That’s how it is with my various projects.  And no matter how much I have accomplished over the last 9+ months, it’s never as much as I would like to have accomplished. I come up with plans and calendars and self-imposed deadlines, and still I feel like I’m always rolling that damn boulder up the hill.

Sheer horror.

***

tmnt-kraang

That’s when it hit me. Maybe my brain is evil?

That is the only conclusion you could possibly come to in all of this. We’ve been told throughout cinema how we can get so focused on the results that we rush headlong without actually doing all the little pieces of work. I mean, I’ve watched The Fly. I’ve read Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’ve read a Superman comic with Lex Luthor. You can think you’re taking a good turn before you realize it has all been a lie from the very beginning.

Maybe that guy upstairs, rattling around in my skull, is both the architect of my salvation and also the cause of all my sorrow? He plays both the angel and devil on my shoulders. I just don’t realize that they are one in the same.

If this was a courtroom drama, I would go ahead and present my case (so that’s what I’m going to do).

1 – He conspires against me as I sleep. I know that now. There is a plan I’m not privy to where he has detailed the entire downfall of my writing career. And before you think that maybe I’m just being paranoid (his fault again), let’s look at the evidence:

2 – He loves a blank page. Every time I go to start a new project he likes to linger on that first, completely clean page. Subtle little thoughts of what could appear there managed to fight off those first instincts, but that is only because of the larger plan he has awaiting me.

3 – He makes sure that I forget my good ideas, even when I write down the most obscure titles. I’m pretty sure that the title of this blog doesn’t match my original intent (but I’ll show him!).

candle

4 – He’s the one that makes me think the last thing I wrote is no good. Ideas of “scrap the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch” run across my brain like the stocks at the bottom of all the news channels. Every line I write can’t be the worst thing he’s ever read, it’s just not possible (right?).

5 – He is the master of distractions. Oh, he knows every sports team that is playing and when they are going to be on TV. Or every internet site that we “probably” should check out – for “research” purposes. Time is just a con game for him, and he is damn good a manipulating it.

inside-out-guilt

Guilt – From Inside Out’s cutting room floor

6 – He’s best friends with Guilt. Together they form a powerful duo that will not only cause you to stay up too late staring at the screen, hoping for inspiration (who, as I understand it, is just outside the front door – if only I’d let her in).

7 – He’s into torture. At 2 in the morning, when the barest trickle of something which very well might be readable, starts to show up – that’s when the yawns come. That’s when I need to go to sleep.

8 – He invites the Beast to visit. Writer’s block. Knowing he could step in and save the day, but it is too much fun for him to watch me drown over and over.

***

It must be the same reasoning that causes me to like all of those horror movies. My Brain loves a good tale of woe and scares. Luckily for me, I’m onto him now. Maybe I can throw him off guard, stay a little bit ahead of him, and when these last couple of months start-up I can set a new momentum. Force him to play catch-up for once.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me

I’ve squirreled away bits and pieces of information. The type of things you wish you didn’t have to learn the “hard way”. Various little lessons. There is still tons more to learn, but this is where I’m at today.

 

You can do multiple drafts.

I’m pretty sure that unless you have sat down and actually written something that this whole process is like stage magic. You know in your heart of hearts there is a logical explanation on how these books get written, but damned if you can’t see through the trick.

magic

And then when you start writing… well, it isn’t very good. Sure the idea might be fine, but those two sentences you put together over there – yeah, those are garbage. Soon enough you may believe your whole approach is terrible. Why are you even bothering? I mean, haven’t you read X author? Her stuff is amazing! I bet the genius just falls from her brain into the computer like that.

But like the magician, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t always going to be magic in the first draft. Luckily the first draft is just that. It means you can go back and correct it. These aren’t the days of the typewriter and trying to use white-out in order to clear up your mistakes.

Instead we have this amazing thing called the backspace.

You can change and update and tweak and fine-tune for as long as you want.

 

(Almost) Never show anyone your first draft.

Seriously. I’m not kidding. Really there shouldn’t be a parenthesis in this section because even my wife doesn’t get to read the 1st draft (she probably does read something closer to a 1.5 draft). I suppose if you have a writing partner, and they are the ones effectively doing the 2nd draft then maybe it might be… it’s still a terrible idea.

Writing Dark

Let me spare you from what will happen (almost) 100% of the time:

The person reading doesn’t understand that this is the first draft (it’s the magic trick bit from above – no one has told them the secret), so every bit of the feedback you may get is going to be about spelling errors or grammar related things. They are going to talk about the plot holes (which you know about and will fix in that crazy Draft 2) you can drive a truck through.

But 95% of what you get isn’t going to help you very much. In fact, I’d argue that it will only discourage you no matter how nice they are about it.

I’ve done it one time ever and will never do it again.

 

Their way isn’t your way.

When you read blogs or articles or books or hear people talk about their craft… I always think I must be doing it wrong. They write 5000 words a day. They write 1 million words in a year. They write up-teen (an official number, honest) of books in the last couple of years.

Dreams Road Sign

I mean who could be happy with their own output when everyone else is doing it so much better, so much more efficient, and more effective than I could ever attempt to do it?

What’s the point of bothering at all? If it takes me a year to write a book. If I have two books that still need to be properly edited. If no agent wants my stuff?

That’s the mess going on in my head most days. That’s the shit I have to make sure to force back down into the dark recesses of my mind or it will paralyze me.

Look, it is great to have goals, but they have to be realistic. And they may only work for YOU. If you can only write 100 words in a day, it just means that you will take a little longer to get to 1000 words than the guy who writes 5000 words a day.

Just gotta keep repeating that to myself. Remind me that I’m still on track… not your track, but my track.

 

There is no such thing as having time to write.

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit over the past few months. Sometimes lamenting not having enough time in the day (again, let’s move to Mars where we’d get an extra 4 hours a day!). In a bit of synchronicity, Gail Simone (@GailSimone), writer of Wonder Woman and Red Sonja and Birds of Prey (among tons of other things), talked on Twitter this week about an encounter with a woman who commented that “she’d love to write, but who has the time?”

time slipping away

Every day is a struggle with the writing thing. Whether it is due to an abundance of distractions or life or just general laziness, it becomes this thing that I block time out for and then never get quite as much done as I would have liked to. But I’m learning, every day. Sometimes it is a technique, sometimes it is a breakthrough on how to write a bit of dialogue, and sometimes it is staying up way to late in order to finish this week’s blog.

Guess what – welcome to life.

People have things to do. We all have commitments. All that stuff above is my own set of excuses. What it really means is I have to make a choice about where I spend my time.

Do I put my butt in the chair and go to work or do I allow that time to be co-oped by some other activity? Because it is up to me most of the time. Life is about choices.

I chose to write.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Shadows & Dust & Free Paperbacks or Bust

Hey there, my favorite people in the world.

I’m talking about book readers. Obviously. 🙂

Several times over the last two years, I’ve taken a few risks. I’ve offered free paperback copies of my best books in exchange for honest reviews via Amazon. I pay for the paperback and I ship it on my dime. While it’s true most people take the book(s) and run away, a few have turned out with great reviews.

Meaning this program is totally worth it.

So…as of today I’m issuing a standing offer. I just ordered two big boxloads of my most popular titles, and it’s my intention to give them ALL away in exchange for honest Amazon reviews. If I run out of a particular title, I’ll buy another boxload. That’s how serious I am.

What do you have to do?

  • Pick a book from the list below you’d like to read and review
  • Either email me here, Facebook me here, or Tweet me here
  • Leave an honest review via Amazon within 30 days
  • Earn my eternal love and respect. 🙂

It’s free and easy for you. The books are all new high-quality paperbacks. I ship at no charge. If you’d prefer to read on your computer or tablet, I can also send full-formatted PDF’s. I’m flexible that way.

Choose from these titles:

DDP 1 TheHecatombWeb DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500

* * *

Need a few pointers on writing a review in 60 seconds or less? Click here.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Finding the Words

I’m not a writer. When it comes to writing anything, even an email, I put a tremendous amount of thought behind it before I begin. I’m the same with talking. There is always far more I’m thinking than saying. This is who I am. Don’t be mistaken. I have the ability to talk for hours with friends on a topic I find interesting or one that sparks my passion, but sitting down to write a blog post… I’d rather go back to my drawing or painting. What do I have worth saying to the world? I find it easier to speak through art, or poetry, because in truth I have simple loves in life.

Photograph by Amanda Makepeace

Photograph by Amanda Makepeace

***

Satin soft petals reaching toward
the clouds, sway aloft sturdy stalks–
To and fro, to and fro.

They lure me with luscious hues
To places unknown, and
Capture me with Spring incense,
A meadow inside my soul.

Lay me down midst the Aster and Sage,
So I may rest, may dream,
If lucky, live again.

© Amanda Makepeace

You Have Permission To Fail

Something I’m always amazed by is both how little and how much people pay attention to the worlds that their stories take place in. That both makes sense and totally makes no sense.

What do I mean by that?

You can tell when an author is more in love with her world than with the actual characters propagating it. When they’ve clearly spent hours and hours on the connections of the history of the world rather than getting to the story they want to tell.

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In fact, it is the type of thing that can completely paralyze a potential author. Especially if you are a plotter and outline things. In order to have that road map, you might convince yourself the only way to truly understand where things could possibly go is by chasing that rabbit hole all the way back in the timeline. Instead of knowing only your lead characters, you need to know who their parents are and by extension who their grandparents were.

And it doesn’t only happen in the fantasy or science fiction stories, but can be just as much of a problem in stories set during modern times.

The thing is, you need to know a little of this stuff entering into a story, but when you try to do all the extra, one of two things are happening:

You’re procrastinating on doing the actual writing. It’s not that you need to figure out the line of succession for the President of Earth in your world (heck, you might need that information), but by focusing on that type of… stuff, you ensure no progress will be made on the story. Instead of letting people know how far along in the process, you tell them, “I’m still doing research.”

procrastination

Or, perhaps, it is that you actually do need to have the information, but you don’t know how you are going to apply it to the story you want to tell.

The secret is, the best way to build might not be from having the constellations figured out or trying to figure out what the President had for breakfast two weeks ago.

I like to think of myself as an outliner. I love the idea of calling myself an outliner at least. But what it really means is that I have a very general idea of what the book/comic/story is all about and start jotting something down in order to begin to massage it into something worth bothering with. And slowly, over the course of months sometimes, the thing begins to become… something.

The question I always have to remind myself of is whether or not I’m delaying because of true and honest reasons or because I’d rather be screwing around than doing the hard part (you know, typing the pretty words into the computer). Am I such a slave to having everything in its correct sequence and if that doesn’t happen there is just no point?

No, what you need to do is bring a little Pantsing into your life. You’re too rigid, not willing to see where it all goes. So, start small. Figure out one little thing about the town where your main character is from. Or a couple of the people she is going to interact with.

And then go and write about it.

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Remember, it’s fine. And even though you are putting words up on the screen (or in your notebook) that may not always make sense, it’s my opinion that you are allowing your brain to almost subconsciously tell you what you really want to write about.

Every writer has had that moment where certain pieces of a story somehow start to tie together in a way that you never had planned out from the beginning. A thread appears, then another, and then another until you see how it could all fit together. So you go back and add a paragraph four chapters earlier to help grow the thread… until it gets to the point where a potential reader would never even know the difference of what started in the manuscript and what was added latter.

That’s a little of the “magic” of writing.

But behind that is the need to allow yourself to possibly write absolute dreck. Because sometimes who the town’s mayor is actually very important. And sometimes what he had for breakfast could make or break your story.

However, even with all those things being true… these words on the screen can be changed and tweaked and deleted and added and refined until you are happy with them. Write a hundred words you hate. Hit the backspace key and watch your problems disappear.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Over-used Words

I’m in the process of editing right now. It is honestly my least favorite part of the writing process. Mostly because the act of that first draft is very freeing, if you allow it to be. I’m not one who needs every line and every word to be in its right place during the initial stages. I’m more than willing to just put it all on the page and hope for the best.

Now that’s not to say I don’t have a game plan or outline, but it means I allow myself to make mistakes. I don’t really self-edit as I go along. Really the only thing I will do is fix something’s spelling… and that is mostly so I don’t have to bother doing it later.

writing

So I finish up the draft and much celebrating is done because you should be celebrating writing 90,000 words or 60,000 words or a million words or, hell, 2 words.

But…

It also means that there is a lot of fixing needing to be done on the second pass. Though, to be honest, while it’s time consuming, I don’t mind that pass too much since most of it is manipulating words and phrases, deleting things which no longer belong, or adding things in to foreshadow something later in the book. In fact, this is “writing” more than “editing”.

This is not where I’m at with The White Effect. No, I’m at that next pass where I need to start making sure the stupid stuff isn’t screwing me up. The, gulp, grammar stuff. You know, all that crap they went on and on in English class and you spent the entire hour doodling in your notebook? Yeah, that.

Sigh.

Not only that, but it is also the point where

Luckily (or at least I think it is lucky), I have begun to figure out my crutch words and phrases. So that 3rd pass is really about systematically eliminating all those “bad” words. A true Seek and Destroy style mission using your word finder and the delete key a far amount (note, this doesn’t always apply to dialogue – people do not speak “correctly”).

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Adverbs – Anything that ends in “ly” is fair game for elimination. However, as with all of these words or phrases, I do a reread of the paragraph and see if it really warrants extinction. Sadly (hey, there’s that “ly”), adverbs most of the time don’t add as much as we think they do.

For example: “The girl ran quickly.”

Well, how else might she run? Typically if I wanted to imply that she was really pouring it on I’d opt for something like: “The girl sprinted.”

That – This is my absolute favorite one to get rid of. Most of the time the word “that” can be eliminated. Flat out. Read your sentence with “that” and then read it again without “that”… no difference (I’d say 75-80% of the time).

Nodded, Smiled, Laughed, Sighed, Shrugged, Shook, and Grinned – These are really more like placeholders for me on that first pass. I can’t always think of great things for someone to do, so I slot these in initially, and it is on this pass I begin to alter them into something a little… classier maybe. “She grinned.” vs. “She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.”

I just need something different that 1000 instances of “grinned” and “nodded”.

Just – I probably use this more in my dialogue than in my prose, but it does sneak in there as well. Another word to be deleted.

He said aloud – Another placeholder, waiting to grow up and become something better.

Cliches – These vary from project to project, and I’m not going to claim to find them all, but most of the time I try to avoid them: Needle in a haystack, grasping at straws, get out of dodge, and fast and furious have managed to infiltrate my prose on more than one occasion.

That’s just some of them. I have a word document full of them.

The best thing is that each project I’ve managed to eliminate some of my tendencies. The bad thing is that sometimes exposes a new one.

That’s all for today, back to hunting.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

End of Year Check-In: Writers Edition

I like writing. I love writing. Writing kicks all kinds of butt.

Writing for me has always been a way to get these crazy ideas out on paper, to give them some type of life. Ideas of those who save the day, and those who seek to destroy said day. Characters who struggle internally with self doubt, and those who are so full to the brim with cock-assurredness that they drown on it.

Writing about anything and everything is what I like to do. It’s my trade, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I can.

So in keeping with this, I’m going to do a rundown of some of the writing that’s come and gone in 2015, and what’s slated for the future. Sit back, relax, and read on!

                                                                               2015

 

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Route 3 #3

What began way back in 2013 has now been completed in 2015. 🙂

And I’m darn proud of it.

My wife has been extremely influential in keeping me going with this series (and everything else that I write), and for that (and many other reasons) I love this woman a lot. Living with a creative type is not the easiest thing to do, and I commend her for it. Love you T’.

Without the help of John, Tony, Mark, Tanya, Pete, Sean, Ann, Omi, Anthony, Vincent, Khari, and the whole Terminus Media crew, this book could never have come to fruition in the awesome way that it has. I can’t thank these folks enough.

As of this writing, the third issue seems to be doing fairly well in terms of the reception. Feedback has been pretty positive, as folks are either jumping onto this series for the first time, or have been down with the Route 3 cause from the beginning.

With the completion of this initial story arc, I’ve completed the first part of my goal with telling Sean Anderson’s story. Here’s hoping to have many opportunities in the future to build the story of this potential hero in the making.

RFA-Book-3-Final-small-1

Radio Free Amerika # 3

Once again, major props to creator/ writer/ artist Barron Robert Bell for giving me a chance to play in his sandbox known as Radio Free Amerika. 2015 saw the release of Radio Free Amerika # 3, and a limited print run of the Radio Free Amerika graphic novel, Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

As in the case of the Route 3 series, the third issue wraps up the first story arc of Mose B and his crew as they struggle to fight the good fight. Reception to the book has been pretty kick butt, and word continues to spread about the series.

On the writing front, it’s been an awesome opportunity to help lay out a world spanning story of war, hip hop revolutionaries, and important current event topics.

Stealth: Vol. 1, The Life and Times of Allen White (Prologue)

stealthTo be asked to help tell the origin story of a hero that you admire is a once and a lifetime opportunity. So when William Satterwhite, creator of the webcomic Stealth, approached me about writing the origin story of Mr. Allen White, a.k.a Stealth in an original graphic novel, I jumped at the opportunity

Add to this the artistic awesomeness known as Jamar Logan, and we’ve got a winner on our hands.

In 2015 we released a 19 page prologue opening the larger story, and once again, the reception we’ve received has been awesome.

The book has  superhero fights, it has an emotional moonlit conversation in a graveyard, it has a little bit of everything. Heck I’ve even got a scene in the book that got my little brother sort of choked up.

 

 

Machina Obscurum

Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows

Once again, I’ve got to say thanks. First to my Tessera Guild crew for accepting me into the fold, way back when, and secondly to Jeremy Neill for sending out an invite for me to contribute to Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows.

As a kid I started off writing prose. These pursuits began with a time travel novel which will never see the light of day, and numerous short stories afterwards. I kept up with writing short stories in high school, submitting some of them to my literary magazine. Fast forward to college and afterwards, and the focus then became the journalism.

Fast forward a bit more and now I’m writing comics, while still doing the freelance journalism. Prose unfortunately took a back seat, but the desire to go back to what I’d started with stuck with me.

The CrossingSo then comes Mr. Neill with his offer to contribute to an awesome anthology, and I thought to myself “sit your butt down and write”.

Enter stage left The Crossing: Moonlit Skies. This is a short story set within the larger events of The Crossing, which is a comic book series Mr. McGuire and I are collaborating on. The short is filled with adventure, and a bit of action set on a world far, far away.

 

 

 

BSF

BlackSci-fi.com

During the back half of 2015 my output with BlackSci-Fi.com picked up in a big way. Maurice Waters is doing awesome work with his creation, and I’m just grateful to be able to hitch a ride on this awesome website.

The stories that I’ve written have run the gamut. I’ve been able to write about the personal experience of a cosplayer who was featured on a variant cover of the new Marvel Comics series Sam Wilson: Captain America. I also had an opportunity to review a gut wrenching yet timely anthology titled, APB: Artists Against Police Police Brutality.

So all in all I’m really looking forward to what 2016 will bring in the way of future opportunities.

 

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Tessera Guild

This year was a good one with my blogging pursuits, though it could’ve been extremely better. The goal has always been 2-3 Friday posts per month, and I need to start doing better with that.

The great thing about this website (aside from the awesome folks I write with here) is that I can write about any of my creative or nerdy interests. This year was no exception to this, and hopefully my output displayed the fun I find myself constantly having with writing for this website.

To top it all off, I just realized this was my first full year as a Tessera Guild contributer. 🙂

2016

 

 

DATC

Dark Universe II & The City II

My plan is to contribute to the second installments of each of these awesome anthologies, after being invited to play around in these universes.

ROUTE3VOL1

Route 3: Vol 1

Next year will bring the collected Vol 1 of issues 1-3 with a brand spanking new cover, bonus Route 3 content, with the ultimate goal of bring the book to a comic book store near you.

Rdio Free Amerika Season 1

RFA: Season 1

Terminus Media’s first collected trade paperback (extra content included) will be released in comic book stores in early 2016, and I’ll be grinning from ear to ear when I see this and Route 3: Vol. 1 on a comic book shelf.

paralleee

The Crossing

John McGuire and I are going to wrap this puppy up with a nice bow. Clean up the pitch. Knock out the first issue. Get it to a publisher.

In addition to this I’m brainstorming an original novella set within this world, which will flesh out the early days of Crossing, The Right Stuff style. I had so much fun with the short story, that want to keep things going with the prose in addition to comic book series.

Kaboom. Magic.

Stealth: Vol. 1, The Life and Times of Allen White (Graphic Novel) 

The hope is to have this entire project completed by the mid to late 2016. Jamar’s killing it on the upcoming book as shown below, and I’m focusing on adding to/ refining the current script.

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peyah_with_mask2 (2)The Best (Title is definitely subject to change): So guys and gals, you’re getting an exclusive preview of artwork from a comic that I and the talented Takeia Marie are partnering on. Without giving up too much, the story features alien zombies, futuristic guns, kick butt space vehicles, and an intergalactic war.

Don’t worry, we’re not taking the Michael Bay approach and jettisoning a great story, and strong character development.

We’ve got that on lock.

With me on the scripting duties, Takeia on the art, with us both building the story of this world, we’re going to kick sooooo much butt with this.

Below (and above) is concept art done by Takeia of one of our stories main protagonists, Peyah, and some of the hardware that she’ll be using.

I’m having a ball writing this, and I hope it’s reflected in the final product.

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Terminus Team Up: Amber Fox  vs. Terra Force:  A cleaned up version of the first issue in this awesome series (with new colors/ cover/ logo) will be released for the first time digitally this year featuring my scripting duties, Sean Hill (Dark Shaman, Route 3) on pencils and inks, and Lauren Brown on the brand spanking new colors.

Did I mention the awesome new cover? 🙂

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BlackSci-fi.com: Still reporting on a host of topics for the website. Assisting with a major overhaul of the webpage, and there will be an announcement soon about my work with the website coming soon.

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Well, that will wrap everything up for now. The list is definitely subject to change with additional projects, so I’ll keep everyone posted.

If you want to purchase any of the projects mentioned in the 2015 portion of the post, or even from my earlier work, head to http://robertkjeffrey.wix.com/robertkjeffrey. Thanks for the support, and spread the word.

2016’s here.

Resolutions, 2016

Time again for my look ahead/look back. It’s where I like to sit down and judge what I managed to do, what things didn’t get done, and then push onto next year.

I have so many things that I would like to do. So many ideas for books and stories and comics. Most of the time I’m not fighting time or money, but fighting my own brain. Trying to get focused can be the biggest problem of them all.

[Of course having more time and money wouldn’t hurt. :)]

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So first, the look back at 2015:

The Edge of the World – Finish the 1st draft. Finish a 2nd draft. Get to Beta Readers. Possibly get an editor by end of year.

Yeah, if 2015 taught me anything it taught me that a story will take as many words, as many pages, and as many hours as it wants. My desires and schedules will be damned in this process. I wrote about it a bit here, but the big thing was that I thought I was closer to the end than I really was, so not finishing the 1st draft until November was difficult.

[The always fun thing of “When are you going to be finished with that book?”… “Soon.”]

That said, I did end up doing a partial edit on about 2/3 of the book. I wouldn’t call it a 2.0 edit, but it might be 1.25 or 1.5.

Regardless I am extremely proud of having finished another draft of another novel. I know that these things don’t just appear overnight but take tons of “butt in chair” time. So I’ll give myself an A.

The White Effect – Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

This has begun, but that’s about all I can say at this point. Work in progress type of thing. We’ll call this one “Incomplete”.

Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Novella II – We have the outline, I just need to put some words on the page now. It is 3rd on the list for a reason though.

Finished the 1st draft. Waiting on the co-writer’s edits/thoughts. This gets a solid B.

Hollow Empire II – Begin those discussions in the next couple of weeks. Begin outlines, drafts, and maybe, just maybe get it out by end of year? Maybe it could be a Fall release every year?

No movement on Hollow Empire. I was busy with Edge of the World, and he was busy with… not sleeping and writing 1 billion words this year. So, yeah, it might be time to start bugging Mr. Neill again. I get an F on this one.

The Dark That Follows Sequel – Originally I wasn’t going to try to fit this in this year, but I have an idea for this and a third book, so I’m hopeful to have a 1st draft done.

Wow… I had this on the list? Whoa. Yeah, this didn’t happen. A big ole’ F for that one. Talk about eyes bigger than my stomach!

Unstuck – A series of novellas I would like to get done about people who are outliers in the timestream… abandoned by their own timelines. Each one would be about 25k words, and right now I have 3 of them roughed out. My guess is having one done by end of the year is a resonable goal (though I could easily see it getting squeezed out by the above).

I knew this was on the list… not started, but lots of notes being gathered. And it got pushed back because of another project (see below). So I’ll say I get a D minus for this one (but with a legit excuse).

S.O.U.L. Mate – Something that did not exist in any portion of my mind last January. A full outline has been written. The damn thing came in a blur over the course of a day. Fully formed. Beginning/middle/end… just like that. And that really caused the Unstuck stories to get slid back on my schedule.

Work has commenced on it.

Shorts – 4 more shorts, to be finished. Online magazine submissions (get on it McGuire!). Start that train a moving.

3 shorts written. Two of which are in a short story collection: Machina Obscurum (you should check it out!).

Machina Front Cover

I have started the online magazine submissions. No success yet, but it is in progress. I’ll call this a solid B (unless I can write one more short in the next couple of days!).

Comics

Gilded Age – It is my hope to have issues 2, 3, & 4 out this year. Of course, that was my hope for this last year. Either way, I will be finishing up the scripts for 3 & 4 in the next couple of weeks.

I am Jack’s broken record. The issues aren’t out.

Boo!!!

However, I did finish issue 3 and 4. Issue 2 and 3 have been drawn, inked, and colored (they merely need the words added to their pages and they will be all but done). Issue 2 even has a cover.

So I’m going to give myself an A for getting my part done, and continue to cross my fingers about the last issue.

Tiger Style – Issue 2?

I must admit, this is completely out of my hands at this point. I may be 100 before this comes out (sad Panda).

The Crossing – A comic I’m co-writing with Robert Jeffrey II… if we can secure an artist, then I think we can get something going. I don’t want to put an absolute number on issues or scripts or anything. If this is solid this year I’d be happy.

No real movement, but lots of good work done on the first issue due to Oni Press’s open submissions. So a little bit of movement, but I believe we can make something happen in 2016 if we push it hard enough. Sadly I need to give me a C on this one.

Blogging – Let’s keep it going for another 52 weeks.

And with this post I made it! A++++!

Mystery Short Film

I mentioned this one during the Halfway Blog Post. A pleasant surprise, and perhaps a little bit more work set in that world coming up in 2016. Again, one of those things I had no idea was coming, but am so happy it did!

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Goals for 2016

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft. Hire editor.

A big piece of next year. One thing that should help is that it isn’t nearly as long as Edge ended up being.

The Dark That Follows 2

It’s well past time to write the sequel. 1st draft of that to be done.

The Crossing Comic

I think having an updated pitch and sample script shopped out there is probably the goal for this year.

The White Effect

To send out query letters. To investigate publishing options.

I can’t control whether or not an agent or editor might take me on. But I can control getting this into some people’s hands to increase the chance of such a thing happening.

The Edge of the World

Finish 2nd draft. Hire Editor. Get cover done.

Right now I’m leaning towards self-publishing this one, but that may change as the year goes on (if things break one way or another).

Mystery Comic

The Mystery Comic is based on the Mystery Short Film above. My goal on this is to get that first issue done, and then cross my fingers that more will be asked of me.

calvin and hobbes-resolutions

Really I just want to be Calvin, I already have two orange cats.

 

Short Stories

Write 4 more shorts. And really set up a system for getting them out into the world (submissions, etc.). Plus these can provide a nice break from the longer formatted things.

Blogging

As ever, I want to continue to put out a weekly blog. Not miss a week. Keep the streak alive. In hopes of achieving this I’m going to try to have a couple in the bank at any time as there are those Tuesday nights when inspiration has been a bit lacking.

I want to add like 4 more things to this list. My writing To-Do is a long string of plans and hopes and dreams. I just have to put butt in the chair.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

It’s the End of the World…

Monday. Another small step in an effort to blanket the electronic devices of young and old was released for consumption. 9 authors contributing a variety of short tales or excerpts from their own worlds appeared in a collection called:

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows (Get it on your Kindle right now!)

Machina Front Cover

In which, I have three pieces of the overall collection. Two shorts and an excerpt from my very first novel The Dark That Follows.

You can get it here. For FREE! (Our gift to you.)

As I’ve only read one of the other stories in the book, I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of tales they’ve managed to spin.

Mine?

Well, I like to consider the two stories I’ve submitted: Til the Last Candle Flickers & And I Feel Fine as 2 parts of my Apocalyptic Trilogy. They are siblings of a sort to be sure (not the actual characters) in the themes of love and loss at the end of everything. And yet they represent very different things about that end. They are Alpha and Omega.

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Till the Last Candle Flickers came about from the idea of Preppers. You know, those guys and gals who are so sure we are on our way to some kind of apocalypse that their hobby is to be as prepared as possible. In some ways I think they have to be spiritual ancestors of those Cold War survivors with their fallout shelters.

But with this short I wanted to look at what can happen on the front end to someone who is so sure that all of our world will be gone soon. How would other people treat him? Do you close yourself off to everyone just so that you don’t have to lose them when it goes down?

How long can you go on like that?

Comet

And I Feel Fine is the other end of things. The Bad Things have come and gone and then more Bad Things have taken their place. And when it seems like there is no good left for you… when the world is surely trying to kill you on a daily basis… maybe that is the time to ensure there is a record left. A small snippet of how things were in those days, so that if there are survivors they might know a little bit more about this generation of people.

I call these two pieces of a trilogy, which would beg the question: “where’s the 3rd piece?”

Good question. I don’t know. I have ideas about it, but these two demanded to be written down. The words flowed in a way that let me know I was onto something worth finishing.

Hopefully you feel the same when you read them.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Story Telling – Micro Bursts

Everyone wants things smaller and faster. We can’t sit still for more than a few seconds before another image, webpage, show, movie, whatever needs to be consumed. A whole book? No. Can’t be bothered.

television-remote-control

Well if you can’t be bothered, then I’m going to feed you what you need little birds. I’ve compiled a few 2 Sentence Stories below. After I’d written a bunch of them, I then looked out into the web to see if I was doing it right. Turns out a couple of them pretty much matched some others out there. I call it synchronicity (or something). Either way, I’ve included them too.

Also, I’ve put some things in there which are clearly movies most everyone has seen, but I thought it was an interesting experiment to take some aspect of the films and distill them down into something so small which tells you about the movie, but isn’t (hopefully) just a pitch for the movie. I’ll let you see if you can find them all.

writing

 

My wife slipped out of bed during the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. A second later I feel another person shift to my side of the bed.

One of the greatest things about having animals in the house is that when the house makes a weird noise you can blame it on the dog. Our dog died last week.

He always wanted to be a part of a tight-knit community. It was only after the first person died that he realized the rest were waiting for him to drink next.

After struggling with a potential ending for his horror story, Jim decided to turn in, leaving it for another day. The next morning he discover the ending had been filled in for him, in blood.

Clenching her eyes shut, Clare reasoned that if she couldn’t see the monster then it couldn’t hurt her. The hot breath on her neck told her those rules did not apply.

He told them that they’d catch the damn monster terrorizing the town. It was only once they were at sea that he realized they were going to need a bigger boat.

In space no one can hear you scream. That knowledge didn’t stop him from trying.

He jumped. The ground rushed up to catch him.

He told himself the pain and agony was all for science. He’d already tried electrocution, drowning, and poison, so dismemberment seemed like the next logical conclusion.

No one had ever told him that if you die in your dreams, you die for real. So as the blades sunk into his flesh, Ronnie didn’t bother to scream.

Writing_Quote_298

They all laughed when his head dipped below, his lungs filling with water. When he kills the last of them, maybe the laughing will finally end.

She’d worked at the bank for so long no one really noticed her anymore. How easy it would be to walk into the vault then and get her early retirement.

If there were an infinite number of parallel universes, then that meant there would be infinite number of Ryan Tommes out there. Yet he’d seen glimpses of them all, and he was unique.

The fortune teller’s promise was that water would be the cause of his death, so he moved inland, avoided showers, and stayed out of the rain. When the floods came he realized he should have learned to swim.

This stunning woman with curves in all the right places beckoned him to come to her with a look of lust unmatched by anything he’d seen before. “It’s a trap, get an axe.”

The Frog Prince closed his eyes, awaiting his kiss which would undo the witch’s curse and restore his humanity. When he opened his eyes, his female savior blinked back at him and croaked.

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David had beaten the AI at Tic-Tac-Toe too many times, so he was definitely up for another game. Thermoglobal Nuclear War sounded like a safe choice.

With graduation looming, Lloyd took a chance to ask out the girl he’d been dreaming about for the better part of high school. Miraculously, she said yes.

They called him Outcast or Idiot or Freak or Weirdo… so many names to show him how different they thought he was from them. Pressing the knife to his flesh, it surprised him to see green blood where there should have been red.

The explosions recalled memories of fireworks on the Fourth of July. The mushroom cloud foretold only death.

As long as she had light, the shadowy figure at the edge of her vision couldn’t claim her. The idea of rolling blackouts never occurred to her.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Things I Have Learned

This past weekend I finished the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last year: The Edge of the World. It currently clocks in at over 118,500 words (approx. 474.5 pages is what I ended up calculating – forgive the numbers, I’m an engineer by day – it’s kind of hardwired into my DNA).

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Throughout the last year it has kind of become just this THING I’m working on. The answer to the epic question that writers tend to get asked (“Hey, what are you working on these days?”). But in some ways it also became this thing that I had to wonder if other people were thinking:

“Wow. He’s been working on that for a while. Is he really doing anything or is he playing XBOX?”

“Wow. He’s been working on that for a while. Is he ever going to finish it?”

“Wow. He’s been working on that for a while. I’ve put out 100 books in that amount of time. God he’s slack!”

Or something to that effect. I don’t know how others really judged it, or how long people really thought it might take (writing a book, I mean).

It certainly took longer than I expected. For comparison I’d say that the first drafts of the other books I’ve worked on went something like this:

The Dark That Follows – 65,000 words – 4 months

Hollow Empire – 45,000 words – 4 months

The White Effect – 95,000 words – 9 months

The Edge of the World – 118,500 – 16 months

Why did those extra 23,500 words take an extra 7 months?

We’ll get back to that in a second. Because I think I’ve learned something with each novel I’ve written. At least that’s the way my mind has tried to analyze each book.

The Dark That Follows by John R McGuire

 

The Dark That Follows

What did I learn?

How to write a book.

It’s an extremely simple answer, but it’s the truth. I’m not saying I learned ever trick I need to know. I’m not saying its a perfect book by any stretch. BUT, it showed me that I had the ability to string words together in some kind of coherent way.

However, the biggest thing it taught me was that I could actually do it. I could sit down with a completely blank page and the barest of bones for a story and FINISH IT. I mean, how many people out there have that idea for a book floating around in their brains? How many of those have started the thing only to abandon it at some point later?

How many finish the damn thing?

 

The White Effect

What did I learn?

Though not out yet, I actually wrote this prior to Hollow Empire. But with it I think I took all the bits and pieces that came with my first book and put them to a better use. It was the difference between Kindergarden and Middle School.

And I proved that I could do it again. A small thing to some people, but an enormous thing to me. You see, if I really want to do this for the long haul, then one book was never going to cut it. One book had to be just that: ONE BOOK. And then there had to be a second, and a third, and so on.

HollowEmpireEP1

 

Hollow Empire

What did I learn?

Collaboration. It’s a word that applies so very much to writing comics. You have so many people working on to bring those things to life. Writers need Pencillers who need Inkers who need Colorists who need Letterers who need Editors who need…

I think you get the point.

So I certainly knew how to collaborate, but to sit down with someone and build a world, a setting… to divide up and then write these characters’ stories. And to then see what the other guy was doing while you were doing your thing. To edit each other. To steal from each other. So many times during the writing there would be moments where I saw something J Edward Neill had written and though “That’s a really cool idea. I wonder if I can use/mention/address/etc it?” (And hopefully he had the same opinion on some of my ideas.)

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The Edge of the World

What did I learn?

There is a big push pull among writers that I read about in a myriad of blogs week after week:

Are you a Pantser or are you a Plotter?

For those that don’t know what the hell I mean by those.

A Pantser is a person who “flies by the seat of their pants” when writing. They may only have the vaguest of ideas about what the book is about, where it is going, and how it is going to end. But they trust in their abilities to find the story somewhere deep within them.

A Plotter is someone who actually creates a road map. An outline. You know, that thing your teachers always wanted you to do before you wrote those papers and you hated? Yeah, one of those things. But there are benefits to having that road map in that it is very hard for things to go off the rails. In theory, you have done enough planning that you’ve figured out the bigger plot holes and know how to avoid them.

As to the debate, I say do what you want. What works for you? Then do that. The Dark That Follows was “pants’d”. The White Effect was “plotted”. Hollow Empire had probably a 60/40 split on pants vs plot. And The Edge of the World was very much plotted except in those places it wasn’t.

Which brings me back to those pesky 23,500 words that took an extra 7 months. Early in the draft I use my word count as a gauge on how things are going (told you – engineer). I strive for 1250 words a night (approx. 5 pages). I’ve found that if I hit that number often enough I feel good about the book, and more importantly I feel good about the progress I am making. But with this book I would hit sections that I hadn’t quite mapped out more than maybe a brief sentence. “A thing happens to get our heroes back together.” I figured I would have the answer to what the “thing” was by the time I got to that point.

And sometimes I did. But there were times I still didn’t know. So I skipped ahead and wrote the next scene. Or maybe I skipped two scenes and then wrote the next three after that. Regardless, by the end of this “run” I probably had 60,000 words in 6 months time, but I had so many gaps that suddenly it was affecting things later on.

You see when you leave a section blank and write something later you have to assume certain things. Things the characters might have experienced or learned from an episode. But without knowing what those lessons might be… well, it was almost like being hamstrung on it. Which would be an easy thing to address. Just stop skipping around and write those skipped chapters. No more proceeding until they are all done.

Yet, I didn’t realize that it was a problem until I had written everything else and then needed to go back and fill in. And suddenly the process bogged down. Granted, the book wasn’t the only thing I worked on during this time, but that matters little when you feel like you are getting nothing done on the book. Frustration led to more slowness… and the biggest thing was not Writer’s Block, but maybe the Beast’s cousin visited me. My word counts for the week slowed to a crawl.

Luckily, I made through the weeds and carved a path. I finally hit a groove again in the last couple of months. The words flowed and I kept churning them out. Finally this last week I realized how close I might be to the end.

And then it was done. Following Mr. King’s On Writing advice, I put these drafts in a drawer for a couple of months and work on other things in the meantime… it helps you be able to look at the thing with fresher eyes (always a good thing). Given the holidays, my guess is that the next time I really sit down to edit this book it will be 2016. And I already have some things I know will need to be added or subtracted… but for now…

I’m done.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

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

Currently in rotation on HBO are all the Hobbit films. 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. 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 revealing 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.

***

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.

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“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.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Checking In: Writers Edition

Taking a cue from my fellow Tessera Guild member, John McGuire, I’m going to list out my writing related to do list for current/ upcoming projects. These run the gamut from super heroic tales of daring, to action adventures spread across alternate dimensions and space.

Superheroes and sci-fi?

I know, I’m a big nerd.

Comics:

Promo R3#3 2

A scene from Route 3 # 3.

 

Route 3 #3/Vol. 1: After getting the final draft edited by the esteemed Mr. McGuire and my Editor in Chief @ Terminus Media, Tony Cade, the book is now 9 pages in at the pencils/ inks stage.

I’m kind of biased on this front, but Sean Hill is killing it on the art duties, and I’m looking forward to seeing Omi Remalante’s masterful colors applied once this is all done.

Promo R3#3 1

A scene from Route 3 # 3

Setting aside any further delays, I’m hoping for a late September, early October release for the book. The final plan will be to compile issues 1-3 into a trade paperback (Vol.1), and get them into comic book stores and book stores all across the country, and *gasp* maybe even the world.

This issue will round out the first story arc of Route 3, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to tell more stories of Sean Anderson’s journey in the future. Once the book and collected edition drop I’ll be in overdrive mode promoting, while also continuing to generate ideas for future tales.

The Best: A zombie outbreak set against the backdrop of an intergalactic war. That’s the most basic pitch for a 10 page short that I’ve written in collaboration with the esteemed Takeia Marie.

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Zombies. And even more zombies.

 

You know those artists that once you see their work you really want to have an opportunity to collab with them? Takeia’s one of those creators, and I think she’s the best person to bring this space based action-horror hybrid to life.

The story will focus on two soldiers and a seemingly impossible mission they’re tasked to take on. Here’s hoping that this will turn out to be a small drop in a wider pool of awesome storytelling opportunities, because I’d love to widen this world out a bit more.

I had a lot of fun with this one, and hopefully it shows.

Radio Free Amerika: Season 1:  So yeah, I got my first graphic novel/ trade paperback released. 😀

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Still kind of on cloud 9 on that front. Not coming down anytime soon.

It’s too cool for school up here.

My co-writing duties on B. Robert Bell’s Radio Free Amerika have been collected in a really nicely bound book, collecting issues 1-3. I’m really proud of how the story, and just the book overall, came out. By year’s end/beginning of 2016 you should see the collected edition at your local comic book store, books stores, libraries, bodegas, outer space, other dimensions. Just everywhere.

Barron and I will continue to generate ideas/ start scripting for Season 2, while spreading the word about Season 1. The plan is to try and get the trade in as many hands as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White: A while back, I was hired by the

A page from Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

A page from Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

talented William Satterwhite to bring the origin of his character, Allen White, a.k.a Stealth, to life in the pages of an original graphic novel.

William’s web comic, Stealth, is a fun action packed tale of super heroics that deserves

to be checked out. So, to say I was beyond ecstatic to help tell a new story featuring this character was an honor. Add to that, the book is being drawn by the talented Jamar Logan. I think we’ve got a bonafide hit on our hands.

A sort of “issue 0” is scheduled to be released later this summer, which will serve as a preview of sorts, giving fans a look into what the future holds for our creative effort. Continuing to put the final touches on this script.

 

 

 

 

 

-The Crossing: John McGuire. Robert Jeffrey II. Sean Damien Hill. Alternate dimensions. High paced action. A story of loss and betrayal. What’s not to love?

parallel_world_by_ayronstorkarynx-d48sl11

Inter-dimensional travel: the only way to travel.

 

Still working on applying final edits to the pitch for this sci-fi adventure that my fellow Tessera Guild/ Terminus Media writer in arms and I have come up with.

John: I’ll get the edits to ya by this weekend. I swear.

Next will be finding a publisher for the book. But once we find a home for it, you all are going to need to hang on to your seats. Like, “get some seat belts installed in home” type of action.

Also working on a prose novella set within this universe, so stay tuned.

Blogging/ Journalism

-Tesera Guild: My commitment is to up my postings to 2-3 Friday’s a month, so get prepped to see more of my random rants on this page.

Comics, sci-fi, life musings, you’re gonna get ‘it all.

BLACKSciFi_4WEB-BlackSci-Fi.com: I’m honored to write for this awesome website, and things are going to be picking up A LOT on this front over the next few months.

Within my capacity as contributing writer for the website I get a chance to speak about a well established and constantly growing arm of this awesome genre we call sci-fi. Whether it’s prose, comics, movies, video games, etc, I’ll have articles coming down the pipeline about the work that African Americans are contributing and have contributed to the science fiction arena.

And as always, you can visit me here for a rundown of past projects, maybe buy some books,  and get updates about anything else I have coming up.

If you just want to chat, that’s cool too.

 

Don’t Look Back

The saying (or the song, I can’t remember which it really is) goes – Don’t Look Back in Anger…

Yet, we as humans are really conditioned to either reflect or to advance. I’ve talked about before how we should all live in the present tense. That too much time spent on the past or the future is not good for you.

Today I’m doubling down. I’m here to say, don’t look back.

Don’t play the What If Game. You know the one, where you take every success and failure, every “I should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque”… all of them and pull on that thread for days.

rsz_bugs_2_4558

Bugs totally gets it.

 

It keeps us up at night. The only worth to spending all the time obsessing and worrying is if we (somehow) come to a conclusion (and we almost never do) and then make different choices the next time we are presented with that problem (yeah, maybe that will happen). Which is kind of the rub in all of it, because you will never be put back into that exact situation again, with those exact sequence of events leading you to the EVENT. You are the person today exactly because you made the “wrong choice” way back when.

Something with writers though, we’re never truly done with something. Up until the moment someone hits the publish button on the blog, short, comic, novel, movie, whatever, the work is never truly done. Oh, it can be version one thousand seven hundred and fifty three… and you can swear up and down that you aren’t going to look at the damn thing one more time. That it is as done as it ever is going to be.

All of it is lies we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night.

I caught a random glimpse at a piece of writing I worked on a couple of years ago. Something I had not even looked at since it had become “locked” (though it hasn’t been locked fully, hence why it was getting looked at). And in doing the quickest read of a section of the script I had to shake my head… because I saw something that suddenly irritated me was even in there. And I KNEW I could fix it. That line which was fine back then, now grates the back of my mind.

writing-letter

Crazy. The thing has been sitting out there for over two years, but…

I can fix it.

I should look on that line and smile at its imperfect structure. It’s awkward bits of dialogue. The clunkiness and how it falls from the mouth like a piece of lead. I should celebrate its very existence, and I should be overjoyed not because it is bad, but because I can see the flow within it. I should be happy that the bits and pieces of writing I have compiled over the last few years has given me a new form of insight (whether I realize it or not). The very idea that I can suddenly recognize the mistakes of my past should be a triumph.

But I can’t and I won’t, because it’s wrong now and needs to be fixed. I need to pull out the file and fix it. Right now. Stop the presses, don’t take another moment doing something else. Who cares if we’re long past the point where I should be able to change things. Who cares if it probably has bothered no one else on the project before now.

I mean if I was to even mention it to the co-writers they might get some form of the earworm and be unable to focus on their day to day lives without reliving the sentence.

ear-worm

Wrath of Khan Style Earworm!

 

That terrible, terrible sentence.

But I can’t. It is long gone from my hands, pencils long since dulled from writing it. New computers have been bought in the interim. Dozens of people have given their ok for it. So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is nothing really wrong with it.

I have to let it go. Take a deep breath and let it all out. Don’t dwell and don’t think upon it again.

Now it becomes my own personal What If Game for the night.

Wish me luck in going to sleep.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Grab Bag: July Edition

The following will be randomness to the extreme. Much like falling down the internet rabbit hole, this is my brain this day and some of the days before that and on some of the days before even that. You may exit the blog post feeling confused and possibly have a hint of madness now occupying part of your brain. I apologize in advance.

***

No448-My-Montage-of-Heck-minimal-movie-poster-720px

I got a chance to watch the Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck documentary. My quick review would be to watch until about the point Courtney Love shows up and then turn it off. And that is not because I dislike Courtney Love, but mostly because of the way the documentary is set up. The first half has tons of stuff about Kurt’s early life, tape recordings that they animate, shots of his journals, etc. But once Courtney shows up things get weird. The animated stuff stops being informative, and I think we lose track of who he is (and who he is trying to be).

Maybe the director is making the movie weird because that’s how Kurt’s life suddenly became? It just didn’t work all that well for me.

But my favorite little moment from the film was a shot of his journal which read as follows:

Don’t read my diary when I’m gone

When you wake up, please read my diary

Look through my things

And figure me out.

 

I love this idea that sharing the thoughts you would save for your diary… instead you want people to really know you by reading those strange and maddening and difficult and every other kind of thoughts. We all struggle to be understood by those we love, and sometimes it only takes telling them what our fears and wishes are.

Sometimes.

***

deaths-head-487276_1280

I’m obsessed with Pirates right now. I don’t know how it happened or why exactly (well, part of it is Edge of the World that I’m desperately trying to finish up). I’m scouring the web for good pirate movies to watch or rewatch (last week I worked my way through the first 3 Pirates of the Caribbean movies (shut up, I like them) and bought the 4th one, because why not (and Amazon put it on sale for cheap). I need to rewatch Master and Commander, but then I don’t really know if we’ve had any good ones for decades. I also need to watch Black Sail (sadly I don’t have Starz).

Anyone know any other good Pirate related movies or tv shows? Gotta ride this wave for as long as my obsession lasts.

***

Edge of the World continues to be this monster of a novel that has forced me to examine how I do things and come up with better options. And while I’ve been doing an editing pass over the first 2/3 of the book – I haven’t done my full 1st pass edit on it. That’s when I basically do a search and destroy for various words that can be removed or replaced. Crutches that I might have when I write. That sort of thing. I have a Word document with my list compiled from the 10% Solution and random other sources.

Then I stumbled onto this and saw many of the words and phrases I try to locate, so hopefully I’ve been on the right track!

writing-editing

Never hurts to have a second opinion.

***

Lastly a link for you to also send you down the Rabbit Hole of the Internet:

What If?

Basically if there is some random question you had about the universe or people or habits or whatever… chances are you aren’t the only one who’s thought of the question and these nice people have decided to do their best in order to answer it.

At the very least it will give all of us more useless knowledge to bust out at parties or at work or when you want to torture someone.

***

That’s all I have for now. Go read. Go write. Go explore.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Light Bulb

light-bulb

Light Bulb by George Hodan

You ever have that Idea?

You know the one. Beautiful and powerful and takes your mind to places you never thought was possible. Forcing you to think on nothing else.

I’m not talking about those “other” ideas. No, I’m talking about The One. The million dollar, won’t be able to keep a copy on the shelves idea.

You’re so proud of this nugget, of this lightning in a bottle…

And then you say it outloud to a friend, spouse, co-worker, family member, etc. expecting their eyes to light up. Expecting to see the synapses fire in such a way that their head might glow.

But that’s not what happens, is it? There are no rapid questions prompting you to talk further about the Idea. There are no bouncing thoughts off one another. Instead there is that kind smile, the sort you have seen a parent give to a child.

The old “That’s nice” smile. They might as well pat you on the head and say “good boy” for extra measure, because there is no excitement you’re going to extract from them.

And it causes a quandary. Do I accept that perhaps I’m blind to the flaws of the Thing? Is this me being too close to the Thing?

Or are they wrong? Do they just not get it?

The inverse is one of those great feelings. Knowing that X thing is something someone is looking forward to.

psychology-544405_1280

See, there are plenty of “good” ideas. Heck, there are plenty of “bad” ones as well. But thee are only a few “great” ones. Which is not to say that the good ones can’t be honed into greatness, or that the “great” can’t be screwed up. It’s about that raw potential. You want Lebron James or Michael Jordan, not the guy who won’t leave the gym every day. You want the guy that has the natural talent… and then hope not to screw it up.

I almost didn’t write this. Not because it may hurt feelings or whatever. But because they don’t know that this is happening. They can’t see the expression on their faces.

Rounders had it right – “The rule is this: you spot a man’s tell, you don’t say a fucking word.”

This is a secret. How else are you going to get the truth? If they know you are expecting surprise and excitement they might try to feign it. Not something that I want. I don’t want fake joy. I want real love. The kind where you only can see how everything flows perfectly and exactly where all the pieces are going to fall into place.

I want to have a clue about where the story begins and where it ends, but not know all the details at first, confident in the Idea.

It takes trust. Trust to be able to open up about the story and know that it isn’t personal. That it doesn’t have to mean death for the Thing. It just means that maybe you are only working with a good One and not a great One.

Trust to be able to take that criticism which hides itself from the sunlight most days. Trust to be able to embrace every reaction you get, big and small.

And trust in yourself and your skills to take it from good to great.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

A Writer’s Late Night Rant

Hi folks. Mind if I just ramble a bit?

::silence::

I’ll take that as a yes.

I’d planned on writing about a camping trip from hell that’d I’d experienced as a young lad. Gripping stuff. Hilarious now, though at the time not so much.

I’ll save that one for later.

I decided instead to talk about writing. Not a “laying out the tools/ tips of the trade” post, but more so about my personal experience with the craft. A little “ranty”, but not obnoxiously so.

To understand my love of writing, lets first start with an early obsession of mine: reading. Reading, and I’m not exaggerating, was my drug of choice. Books were, and still are, my narcotic, and libraries and book stores were my corner dealers.

Boy Reading Book in Classroom

I sucked up everything I could get my hands on. The Hardy Boys. The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner. Nancy Drew. The Phantom Toll Booth. The House of Dies Drear. Choose Your Own Adventure books. Encyclopedia Brown. John Bellairs. Mark Twain. Stephen King. Octavia Butler. Christopher Golden. The list goes on and on.

If I added comics to this, we’d be here all day.

Let me give you an example of how deep this went with me: I had the route to my lunchroom  in elementary school so ingrained in my little noggin’, that I could walk the path to the cafeteria, nose deep in a book, without bumping into one of my fellow classmates.

I was that far gone.

In a good way though.

As I continued to read, and read, I found myself wanting to create my own stories. Take my own characters to these fantastical, adventure filled worlds, and just have fun. I knew I wanted to do it.

So I did it.

b2fThere was “Robert’s Time Machine” 1 & 2 (the less said, the better), then came the Double O Dwight series.  We even put on a skit at my school based on the adventures of Dwight and company.

Maybe I got a little playwriting in at an early age? That might be pushing it a bit.

Point being, I wrote a lot. This ran into short stories in middle school, joining my high school’s literary magazine, my college newspaper/ web magazine, freelancing on a regular basis once I got out of college, and now working as a comic book author.

Writing’s been a huge blessing for me, it’s something that I don’t ever see myself not doing.

It’s the thing (my marriage coming first) that I’m most proud of in life. Its something I do well. Its something that gives me a sense of sanity in a world where I’m assaulted by all sorts of B.S on a weekly, if not daily basis.

That’s life for you.

It’s something that, if you commit to it, deserves to be treated with the utmost respect, and love. And sometimes that doesn’t happen, just being truthful. I’ll admit there have been plenty of times where I’ve come home from a long day at the 9-5, and have just thought “no writing tonight. I just want to let my brain rest after dealing with the B.S of the daily burn”.

And believe me, there’s always gonna be B.S.Tired-employee

I will never say that this hasn’t happen, because it has, and it probably will again.

The best advice that I can give in this regard is to Just Do It, as difficult as it may be. Sometimes I’ll write a page, and that’ll be it for the night. And then I’ll write another the next, two more the next day, three more the next day, etc.

But what really gets me back in front of the computer is that same love and desire to tell stories that was sparked in the little kid reading at a library in Dolton, IL. It’s what drove me to break out of my shell and chase stories  for the Atlanta Voice Newspaper. It’s what got me to approach the fine folks of Terminus Media at Dragon Con.

I have so many damn stories that I want to tell. Some of ‘em might be great, some duds.

Some folks will love them, others won’t.

What I’m finding though is that at the end of the day, who can care less about what other people think? I’m still working on staying strong to that line of thinking.

But when such doubts crop up, what I tap into, as it was when I was younger, is that I’m doing this for myself. And to have fun.

Screw what anyone else thinks.

Ok, I wasn’t saying “screw” as a kid, but you get the point.

I wrote for myself.  I had fun. I just did it.

It’s time to write.

writer-laptop

 

Half Way There, Again

It’s the little slap of reality. It’s a progress report. It’s my road map.

It’s an excuse for my cat to block me from writing.

Most of the time I’m writing the blog to share some idea or thought (random many times), a favorite movie or book or whatever. This blog is more for me. A way to mark how I’m doing on my own (at times) uphill struggle to be a writer in the way I want to be. At the beginning of the year I wrote a “to do list” and now it is time to check in.

To-Do-List_604

Prose

The Edge of the World – So close yet so far away. I feel like I’m stuck in the mud on this one. Not because of any story difficulties, but because of the way I wrote the thing. I jumped around a fair bit and now have decided to fill in the gaps that I left myself. So at times I’m half in editing mode and half in writing mode (I know, I’m not supposed to do that). So the word count goes up a little slower than normal because I’m tweaking and trimming and writing and…

It’s going to be done, but it is not yet. Sigh.

The White Effect – Nothing yet. I’ve wanted to finish up The Edge of the World 1st. But my plans have not changed: Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

Short Stories – Aha! Finally got some more done. 3 more to be exact. I took much of May and sat down to write some shorts… that need to be able to write the words: The End being the most blissful thing. I have 1 more to write to reach my goal for the year, but I’m extremely happy how this has gone. I have also received my first reject for publishing one of them, so I’m taking that as a sign of progress as well (as in, at least I am trying!).

Other Prose (Novels, novellas) – Aside from adding more notes to Unstuck’s file and Lightning’s file and The Dark That Follows II’s file, nothing concrete has happened.

comics-495258_1280

Comics

Gilded Age – Issue 2’s colors are 1/2 done. Issue 3’s pencils and inks are done (barring a minor tweak). Issue 4 has not been begun. However, I did finish both issue 3 & 4’s scripts, so another success. Fingers crossed these comics get done in the near future.

The Crossing – A tiny bit of movement. Robert and my project needs to have a sitdown just to get the pitch up and running.

Blogging – Still haven’t missed a week (though I must admit that last week I almost forgot… the beach does strange things to the brain!).

concept-345541_1280

Mystery Short Film Project – Finished. Can’t say much more about this one other than it kinda came out of nowhere and I feel really good about the final draft I delivered. And as soon as the client is ready to make it public, I will do a blog on what exactly it is. Just very excited about that opportunity. And it is yet another example of how I don’t always know what the next months are going to bring… what opportunities they will provide.

So that’s it so far, and honestly, aside from Edge of the World not being done, I’m decently happy about my progress so far this year. I definitely don’t have that kick in the gut feeling like I wasted 6 months or anything, which is exceptionally nice.

Now I just need to make sure I don’t waste the next six either.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

A Few of the Million Things I Should Have Written

We all those moments where we see something or read something or hear something and the only response is to slap our foreheads and exclaim “How obvious! Why didn’t I think of that?”

I mean it could be as simple as the Pet Rock or the windshield wiper on the back of your car, but for me it tends to take form in the movies and TV I watch or the books and comics I read. So here are a few of the culprits that have me shaking my head at myself.

Ready Player One

Ready_Player_One_cover

A newcomer to this list, the book is the crazy quest set in a future where everyone effectively has checked out of the real world and lives the majority of their lives online. That’s what the book probably says on the back cover (I’m too lazy to double-check, but take my word for it).

That’s not what the book is about. It is about being a love letter to everything good and holy from the 1980s. Hey, did you like War Games (the movie with Matthew Broderick)? Random Japanese monster movies? Dungeons and Dragons? Joust!?!

Then this is the book for you.

And guess what… I loved all those things. Constantly as I read there would be some reference to something I not only recognized, but flat-out LOVED. In many ways it was like my subconcious wrote the book and then gave it to this guy so he could slap his name on the thing.

Damn my subconcious!

The Walking Dead

Walking-Dead-AMC

Hey, I liked zombies before they were cool. In that between time where they had become a joke. Long after Romero had become a name only a few people might have known. I was watching those terrible movies and the good ones and everything else inbetween.

But The Walking Dead… that could have been me. And it isn’t just the idea of printing money with the release of the tv show or the comics or the spinoff or whatever may be next. No, the problem is that now, no matter what you do in “zombie” comic fiction, you can’t be better that The Walking Dead.

The frustrating part is that it took one guy to realize we all liked the story of survivors. We like the idea of a world trying to destroy us. And we love a story that isn’t going to end anytime soon.

The zombie movie that continues after the credits begin to roll.

So obvious!

A Game of Thrones

A-Game-Of-Thrones-in-PDF-EPUB

Again, not because of the TV show, but because this is a book (series) which has finally managed to bring Fantasy back to the forefront. Sure the Lord of the Rings films helped put the spotlight on the genre, but it wasn’t until the better part of a decade later that the world stood up and noticed.

I mean, fantasy novels are mostly what I read in middle school and high school. But the main problem with much of those pulp/D&D novels were that they derived from the same original source… Tolkien. Everything was really just a riff on those core ideas. Elves are mysterious. Dwarves are grumpy. Hobbits are called Halflings because we don’t want to be sued. Goblins and Orcs and Dragons and…

You get the point.

Game said that you could choose a different path. Something more realistic, less magic based and still be lauded for it.

Sadly, it may have done its job too well. It might be the new standard, and a new stand-in for Tolkien… instead of breaking the old rules it merely created a whole new set of them.

Cabin in the Woods

CABINs-poster-indicates-its-complex-puzzle

The movie I certainly could have written. Especially in light of Scream being one of my all-time favorite movies (not just horror movies, but overall). The deconstruction of the genre by that movie is really taken to the next possible level here. In Scream you ask What are the Rules?

In Cabin you ask Why are their Rules?

It is an important difference, but one that I think I’ve been trying to find for a while. Something that might look at the horror movies of the 70s through today and anticipate what the next trend might be.

Cabin asks the questions better than I could have thought.

Damn it!

Let the Right One In

let the right one in

At a time when Vampires were not really the creatures of the night of our youths. Heck, they weren’t even the mysterious creatures from Anne Rice (they must have a decent publist). Let the Right One In gets back to both the idea of the unknown… this otherworldly THING who must be feared, and combines that with the idea that lonelyness is not just a human trait. That our need for connection with someone, with something will always triumph over everything else.

And that true friendship is one of the most important concepts in the world. So why not be friends with a vampire!

It’s like, how do you write a Monster horror novel with heart? Well, this is the way.

 

Well, that’s just a taste, but really, I need to go and try to write something so that my brain doesn’t forget to write the next one of these “obvious” ideas.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Waiting for The Ending

It’s difficult to have content for your blog when you can’t actually talk about things that you are working on. It’s both a good and bad problem to have since one day I will not only be able to talk about them, but I might be able to show them off in their various formats (to say anymore will invite the Men In Black to come to my house and hunt me down… or at least use the “flashy thing” on me).

And the stuff that is already done, well I’ve said a ton about them up to this point. Well except for some comics that are done, but not done.

And other things (novels) are either done and waiting for edits or are close to done, but seem to have been that way for far too long.

So it presents the conundrum.

There is a lot of waiting. A lot of time that has to pass in order for things to have “happened”. In a month I’ll have this thing or that thing completed.

time_travel

It reminds me of when I was younger. So many things are placed in front of you as barriers. And most of them have to do with age. Sometimes it was as simple as a movie or TV show you might have heard about. Sometimes it was extending that glorious bedtime another half an hour so that I could feel like a “big kid”.

Writing feels like that as well. When I get to THE END, that’s the moment that acts as something of a catharsis to me. It cleanses. It makes me realize how much time something has taken, and then makes me appreciate what I have done.

the-end-3

The problem is always the in between times. With no THE END in sight, what am I to do? So in addition to a couple of To Be Named Later things, I’m trying to devote May to short stories. I keep wanting to get a few of them done. Hell, I have a folder on my USB that is dozens of ideas, partially written stories looking for an ending, bits of dialogue, etc.

But it is definitely a different muscle again than the Novel muscle, or the comic script muscle, or the short film script muscle, or… You don’t have forever and a day to try and make your point. You don’t have to take month after month to try and figure out where the story needs to go. No, you can get in there, really figure everything out, and then get the heck out of there. And you get to write THE END at some point.

A small victory, but sometimes enough to help propel you on in the next project (or in a project that you might be a little bogged down in). Something to spark a different part of my brain in order to free up that space for something else. I fully think that by being creative, you end up spurring on even more creative thoughts that many times our day to day lives can seek to grind out of us.

I look at the folder now and it says there are 51 files. That’s 51 potential stories fighting in my brain for a chance to tell their own tales. And for far too long I have left them fallow, only contributing a few lines here and there, a couple of pages, a handful of words… a pittance. I think I owe it to those lost dogs to maybe try and make them into real boys and girls. Unleash them on the world.

And be able to write THE END.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The LOST Problem

I was having a discussion with someone the other day about LOST and they mentioned being disappointed in the ending. I didn’t take it as anything more than their opinion. They certainly weren’t bashing it (as opposed to what I talk about here).

Lost-season1

And then they said something that made me rethink the whole idea of what many people had problems with. He basically said:

“Yeah, it’s like they had a plan to start, but not a plan to finish. They just kept asking questions, and never thought about the answers to those questions.”

And he’s more than likely right. 100%.

Listen, I loved LOST with all its warts, but for all those people who didn’t like the ending because they thought they were just “making it up as they went along”… I hate to break it to you, but…

Most of the time they are all making it up as they go along.

And it made me really think about how things are different between books and TV (or any kind of serialized entertainment). They are always making it up on the fly for the TV shows. Sure, they may have a general idea of what needs to happen between now and say the end of the current season. Heck, they may have an idea on how the series is going to end, but episode 4? Yeah, they are making that stuff up as they go.

why-am-i-in-the-corner-again

The big difference is that when you are writing a book and figure it out as you go along, you have the opportunity to go back and edit the early stuff so that it makes it look like you had your act together the whole time. Those murder mysteries are various threads pulled together at the end. But when they get to “The Butler Did It”, they can then use the the second draft to seed all those little clues which will make sense on a second viewing.

That when you write “The End” in your book you know it doesn’t mean that, but that it is an opportunity to make sure everything before now “fits”. Because until you write “The End” you really don’t know what your story is about. Oh, you think you know, but the twists and turns haven’t revealed themselves to you. It truly is an iterative process.

But serialized story-telling doesn’t have that option. They hit publish, send it out into your homes, and then have to live with it for better or worse. Literally flying by the seat of their pants. And what is the best way to propel your story forward?

By asking questions. The writer(s) ask questions of their characters, of their settings, of their conflicts… they put obstacles up sometimes without knowing how a character is going to get out. They trust that when all else fails they’ll get it figured out. That crazy thread they are weaving into a story will flow from one plot to the next without anyone tugging too hard (and make the whole thing collapse on itself).

In Breaking Bad, Walter leaves behind a watch in the first episode of the last season (during a flashforward I believe). But at some point they show Walt without the watch… so now they have to figure out the “why“.

The creators of LOST have said as much about writing themselves into corners because they figured they could get themselves out of it.

In writing, there are generally two types of writers: Pantsers and Plotters

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Calvin and Hobbes get it. Which makes me wonder if Bill Watterson had this problem.

 

Pantsers don’t normally know what their characters are going to do. They might have a short bit of knowledge about what the story is about, but beyond that they trust in the process to help them build and build and build until their tale is told.

Plotters like to have things completely outlined. They want to know what the beats of the story are going to be from chapter 1 all the way until the end.

And most people fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve done it both ways. The Dark That Follows was almost completely pantsed. During Hollow Empire, J Edward Neill and I had a kick-off meeting where we talked about where we wanted the story to go, a little about what the beats would be for each chapter, but the actual details for every little thing wasn’t mapped out.

I’m currently working on a new novel: The Edge of the World, and I have a solid outline for the first half, and then a more general outline for the second half. And what I’ve noticed as I go through a second draft are the little points that still need to be added to that first half. Things I learned about the characters as I wrote them. What their strengths, weaknesses, and desires were. Stuff discovered through the process of putting words on the page.

If I had published each chapter on its own, there would be no opportunity to fine tune things. And characters might not resemble themselves at all come the end of the story (for the worse).

So when I watch something like LOST and see them trip up over some plot point it doesn’t make me pull my hair out or completely stop watching, but it might make me wonder just how much they did know to start.

And hope that they can course correct if they need to before it completely jumps the shark.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Creative Interview With Novelist/ Comic Book Writer/ Bobby Nash

For today’s creator interview installment, we sit down with the prolific, and award winning author, Bobby Nash. The author of such works as Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt, Snow Falls, Evil Ways, Domino Lady: One Shot, and the recipient of the 2013 Pulp Ark Nominee for Best Novel, Earthstrike: Agenda, Nash show’s no signs of slowing down, with a host of other titles scheduled to be released in 2015.

 To begin with I just want to say this: you write like a mad man! And I mean that in a good way. Do you get that a lot? 

I have heard that a time or two, yes. [smiles]. When I decided that this was the path I wanted to travel, I set goals for myself and headed toward them. My stubbornness came in handy with helping me to keep going and I never looked back.

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Tell us about yourself. Where you’re from, what got you into writing professionally, and some of your training.

I was born and raised in Georgia, which is where I still live. I fell into writing, oddly enough, because of my desire to be a comic book artist. Turns out that my art skills leave a little something to be desired, but I was writing stories that I could draw. Somewhere along the way, other artists I knew started asking me to write for them so I decided that maybe I could be a writer/artist. Thankfully, a friend of mine pointed out that writing was my real strength and suggested that I focus on it instead of splitting my time between writing and art. He was absolutely right. Then one day I sold a comic book story to a publisher. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.

I don’t really have much in the way of formal training. I’m mostly self-taught, although I’ve picked up some hints, tips, and tricks along the way from others. I took some night classes at UGA focused on creative writing, which were quite useful. We would bring our writing in and read in front of the class. That instant feedback came in handy plus there was the happy side effect of helping me to get past being shy and awkward in front of a room full of people.

What’s the first thing that you remember writing?

WOW. That is a tough one. I wrote some truly horrendous comic book stories back in my elementary school days, but the less said about them the better. I started writing short stories in high school. I remember we used to be given a list of words each week to use in a sentence. I was bored one week so I actually wrote a story and used the words in it. The teacher thought it was neat and encouraged me to keep it up. I had fun doing it and even set up the challenge of ending stories on a cliffhanger that I would have to resolve the following week when we received our list of words. I learned a lot about writing doing that.

Is there a particular genre that you prefer to play around in, and why?

I do like to play in multiple genres, but I always find myself drawn back to crime thrillers, although they can have other descriptions added to them like pulpy crime thriller, action crime thriller, sci-fi crime thriller, you get the point. I grew up with PI’s on TV, books, and movies so I developed a love for the genre. I like solving crimes, at least in my writing. It’s not something I really attempt to do in real life.

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How does a typical writing session work for you? Do you have any “tools of the trade” that you use?

Typical is a relative term. I used to write full time so my day generally went, wake up, write for several hours, take a dinner break, watch TV, write, go to the gym, watch TV or read, bed, then repeat. Now that I’m back among the corporate working life, my writing time is pretty much limited to the weekends, which goes much the same as before. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the laptop.

Not sure if I have any specific tools of the trade handy. I write on an old laptop using an outdated version of Word. Everything else is just in my head.

You’ve done a bit of screenwriting (the web series Star Trek: Farragut), and acting (Camp Massacre, The Following, Fat Chance). How have your experiences been working in this realm both behind and in front of the camera? Do you feel the practice of speaking in front of your writing critique groups prepared you for jumping into this arena?

Well, I’ve dabbled. I have a few screenplays under my belt, but three produced, two with my name on them and one that I did a script doctor job on that doesn’t bear my name. Each was unique in the way they were worked. Of those three, 2 have been produced and the third, a short film, is in production. It’s a lot like writing comic books in terms of how I set up the pages, focus on dialogue, and things like that. I will say though, that it is really cool to see actors delivering your words. I hope to do more screenwriting in the future.

I don’t think of myself as an actor. Most of what I’ve done on The Following, Satisfaction, Dumb and Dumber To, Halt and Catch Fire, Three Stooges, etc. is work as an extra. That involves a lot of walking back and forth most of SF COI BN banner3the time, but I’ve had some fun times doing it. Working with Kevin Bacon , almost knocking Matt Passmore down with my carry on bag, and standing next to Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey as they did a scene are definitely three of my highlights.

Working as an extra also gave me a chance to meet a real life FBI agent (while I was playing an FBI agent on The Following) and that led to a nice meeting where I got some really interesting insight into the FBI for my upcoming Evil Intent novel. That was a nice bonus.

Learning to read my work out loud absolutely played a role in helping me do this type of work. If you can’t look up and stare straight ahead on a set, you’re no good to the filmmakers. It’s hard to be shy on set.

Congratulations for receiving the 2013 Pulp Art Award for Best Author. Can you talk a little about winning the award?

GG FINAL CVR frontThanks. It was quite an honor. As you know, I’m not often at a loss for words, but when I read off the list of winners on the old All Pulp site, I actually scrolled past it before it sunk in what I had just read. I was literally speechless for several minutes as I tried to digest the news.

Winning an award is an odd thing. Even though you don’t write any differently than you did before winning, having an award adds a little extra something to your work for many readers so hopefully, it helped open up my work to a wider audience. The biggest change is having people refer to me as “award-winning author Bobby Nash,” which is pretty darn cool, but it did take some getting used to as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from a fellow writer?

I don’t remember exactly who told me this, I want to say it was Beverly Connor, but I could be remembering it wrong. Regardless, the advice was that no one was going to care about my work more than me so I should not expect anyone else to promote it more than me. There is a lot of truth in that and it’s one of the reasons I taught myself how to market my books.

What can folks look forward from you in the near future?

Oh, 2015 looks to be a good and busy year. I don’t have dates for any of these yet, but here are some books to be on the look out for in 2015:

Prose: Snow Storm, Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: A Haunting We Will Go…, V-Wars vol. 5, The Ruby Files Vol. 2, Evil Intent, Blood Shot, Freelancer: The Traveler Sanction, an as yet untitled Nightscape novel, and a few others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

Comics: the graphic novel adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At The Earth’s Core (art by Jamie Chase), 000 ATEC CVR FRONT smDomino Lady Threesome (a new team-up series I’m co-writing with Nancy Holder with art by Marco Santiago and others), Operation Silver Moon (art by Rick Johnson), Strong Will (co-written with Mike Gordon with art by Wendell Cavalcanti and Rob Jones), All-Star Pulp Comics #3 (a Lance Star: Sky Ranger story with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin), and a few others in the works.

Yeah. Looks like a busy year ahead of me.

Readers can keep up with the progress and release dates for all of these projects and more at www.bobbynash.com

Thanks Bobby for taking the time to sit with us and talk about your career.

Thanks Robert.

Tessera’s Top Five Posts from 2014

First off…

Happy New Year!

I’m going to assume you all are recovering from last night’s festivities, so today’s post is a simple one. Let’s look back into the Tessera archives and reminisce, shall we? Here are the top 5 posts (by views) from 2014.

5. Taking a Stab at Marvel Movies by John McGuire

It’s not surprising this made the cut. Marvel is huge. Marvel is everywhere.

4. Forget Me Not by John McGuire

Writing – Where do writers get all those ideas? Another post by John McGuire!

3. Ten Questions for Humanity by J Edward Neill 

Neill gets philosophical in this popular post from just a couple weeks ago.

2. Monsters, Magic and Moonlight by Amanda Makepeace

That’s me! This was my pre-Halloween post on spooky art through the ages.

1. My Top Six Videos Games of All Time by J Edward Neill

Yes, on a website of writers and artists, our top post of 2014 is about video games. This post sparked us all to write up our own top six video games.

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Here’s to a fantastic 2015!

The New Year is Here to Slap Me Around

Where did the year go? At various times this last month I’ve had the thoughts of “Where did December go?”, but really it is more than that. 2014 both crawled and flew by, but here at the end I’m wondering where all that time ended up.

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Last year my first blog for 2014 laid out a road map of sorts. Much like everyone else at this time of year it becomes time for resolutions, and that is what that particular blog was. A goals list that I wanted to put out there so that I could not only hold myself accountable 1 year from then, but also give myself something to strive towards.

I then wrote a mid-way post in July and, to be honest, it kinda worried me. As I looked over the various goals I’d set for myself I started to realize that I was a fair amount behind where I wanted to be. Certain things I thought were absolutely going to happen had not occurred and it made me feel like some of the first 6 months of the year might have been wasted.  Of course, a lot of that thinking is just me being a pessimist.

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This then marks the end of Year 2 of trying to be a serious writer and the beginning of Year 3. Let’s see what happened:

Comics – I need a complete do-over on this whole category. At the time I had such high hopes for the year. I saw myself holding as many as 4 or 5 different issues of various things. Sadly it is 12 months later and much of the year has been wasted. Gilded Age 2 is still not completed, which certainly means 3 & 4 are not done (in fact, due to the lack of movement on 2 I haven’t finished up 3 & 4’s scripts as of yet).

Tiger Style is still hanging around, but there has been no real movement on Entropy either.

Mostly this has been due to funds running short on the various project…

All in all this section gets a big “F”.

Shorts/Novellas – My goal was to get 4 shorts done and submit them to some online magazines. I got 3 shorts completed (and a 4th is 90% there).

Piece by Piece was written as a story for the Tessera Guild… something free for our readers (and is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, etc. for that same price). It acts as a nice little story featuring Jason from The Dark That Follows without some of the “seriousness” of the novel.

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Secrets of Story Telling was done for an anthology: Beyond the Gate that I was happy to be able to contribute to. It too is free on many of the various platforms. I talk more about this project here.

Til the Last Candle Flickers – Completed sometime in October. I have not yet sent it off to any online magazines.

And I Feel Fine – 90% complete. Kinda a companion piece to the above in that they are both about the end of the world and how different people embrace or just deal with it. I have a couple of other stories in this vein that I’ve toyed with the idea of just collecting into an anthology myself. Hmm…

There’s Something About Mac – A project that wasn’t on the list to begin with, but this little novella set in the Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Program allowed me to do something I’d not done before: co-write with my wife. I wrote about this one here.

Just under 4 shorts but add a novella and I give myself an A.

Novels

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Hollow Empire – Success! I had wanted to get it edited and released, and that is just what happened over 6 weeks in the fall. It took me longer to reach that point than I would have liked, but I also learned a ton about certain aspects of the project and future projects.

Hollow Empire 2 – Need to have some discussions with my co-writer J Edward Neill. More will be needed in the new year to determine a schedule, etc.

The White Effect – This one is tough. On one hand, I haven’t gotten to my Beta Reader comments. I’ve been busy trying to finish up The Edge of the World. But on the other one I have this gnawing feeling that I should try and go a more traditional route with this book. Either way, the novel is not finished.

The Edge of the World – Oooh, December, how you danced by me… I thought I was going to make it. And had the project really been only 90k words, I would have, but I realized that I probably needed another 20k worth of stuff, and that’s pushed it into the new year. So while it is not done I’m still going to give myself a solid B at being 85% finished with the 1st draft.

Blogging – I have not missed a week since we started. So that’s one in the win column!

So 2014 had some hits and some misses. I think had Edge been finished I’d be happier with my output. Still, I think I just have to do a better job this next year.

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Goals in 2015

The Edge of the World – Finish the 1st draft. Finish a 2nd draft. Get to Beta Readers. Possibly get an editor by end of year.

The White Effect – Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

I would love to say that a goal would be to have the book with someone, but I have no idea how this process is going to go, so I’m going to concentrate on what I can control and not worry about those things I cannot.

Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Novella II – We have the outline, I just need to put some words on the page now. It is 3rd on the list for a reason though.

Hollow Empire II – Begin those discussions in the next couple of weeks. Begin outlines, drafts, and maybe, just maybe get it out by end of year? Maybe it could be a Fall release every year?

The Dark That Follows Sequel – Originally I wasn’t going to try to fit this in this year, but I have an idea for this and a third book, so I’m hopeful to have a 1st draft done.

Unstuck – A series of novellas I would like to get done about people who are outliers in the timestream… abandoned by their own timelines. Each one would be about 25k words, and right now I have 3 of them roughed out. My guess is having one done by end of the year is a resonable goal (though I could easily see it getting squeezed out by the above).

Shorts – 4 more shorts, to be finished. Online magazine submissions (get on it McGuire!). Start that train a moving.

Comics

Gilded Age – It is my hope to have issues 2, 3, & 4 out this year. Of course, that was my hope for this last year. Either way, I will be finishing up the scripts for 3 & 4 in the next couple of weeks.

Tiger Style – Issue 2?

The Crossing – A comic I’m co-writing with Robert Jeffrey II… if we can secure an artist, then I think we can get something going. I don’t want to put an absolute number on issues or scripts or anything. If this is solid this year I’d be happy.

Blogging – Let’s keep it going for another 52 weeks.

Insane? Maybe. Still, I’d rather set the bar a little too high than too low. We’ll see how I did in a year from now.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Of Dreams and Steam… and Great Engines of Power

Last week’s blog made mention of how little moments can change a direction for a person. Something small can knock you onto a completely different course than anything you expected even an hour earlier. This is another one of those stories.

BeyondtheGate

A few months ago I decided to participate in a Kickstarter campaign. Not the strangest thing to do, but the result of that one act has allowed me to interact with a bunch of writers that I might never have had the chance to do. It has garnered me a couple of interviews, an appearance on a podcast, and an appearance in an anthology released yesterday. If you haven’t checked out my post from Tuesday, you can read a sample of my story… and best of all, the anthology is free at most places (and eventually will be on Amazon as well). My blog from yesterday is here.

That most recent interview is here.

One of the outcomes of the Kickstarter (which was watching the Self Publishing Podcast guys write a book from start to finish in 30 days) was that the world they were creating during June would be an open source world. Which meant that anyone could write in the world and not have to worry about sending money to someone else. That Kickstarter became The Dream Engine…

And with that, the anthology became this thing. Slowly, over the next month as we waited for the finished product, gears shifted into motion. Authors began to say that they’d like to join in and submit something. I mean, the chance to have your work appear in something else is never a bad thing. Maybe one person reads your short and checks out the rest of your work. You just never know.

So I signed up, not having a clue at all as to what I might be writing about. And then the book was released and I started reading The Dream Engine hoping that something would spark inside my mind. Something would direct me to explore it. I needed something to inspire me.

And the days crept by, and I kept reading, and while I was enjoying the book I still had no idea what I could write about. What might fit in the world they were weaving. I believe I was 2/3 of the way through the book when that lightning finally struck. Something finally triggered. Suddenly I had ideas.

Notes

This is what happens when I’m not near a computer and I need to get the information from my brain before I lose it. This is the part of writing that I wish I could bottle. I wish that I could figure out exactly what the switch is in my brain that allows me to – out of nowhere – come up with an idea that was almost… maybe 90% there. I knew the various beats, I knew the two main characters and what their voices were like, and I even knew why I was writing the story.

You see, in the Dream Engine, the pilots of Altera are rock stars. They get to see the world and when they return to a city they always have more than their share of tales about what they had seen. They might be complete lies or they might be the truth, but that’s why you listen… they are the original water cooler talk where you could dissect their stories and try to figure out where the lie begins and the truth ends.

And that’s a question that might be worth answering… why do these Ruddermouths tell these stories?

I think it took me about 3 days to actually write the short. Then one more day for some self-editing. However, that wasn’t the end of it. All the writers were asked to swap their stories with another writer and do an editing pass. Then take those comments, tweak, overhaul, whatever needs to be done on the stories. Again, at that point  we had an editor who looked at all the stories and gave her notes. Then it would be onto our Beta Reader for the project with that last second look at things and make sure that nothing slipped through that might have been confusing on the reader’s side of things.

What was amazing about this project is how people came together to create this something out of nothing. From Eric Pierce wrangling all of us in one direction, to Amy Schubert providing the free editing, to Kayla Halleur doing that last minute reading… I was reminded how so many times as writers and artists… we’re alone, banging on the keys at 2 in the morning. And how lonely that can sometimes be. Yet this project was a true meeting of people to contribute to something that had inspired them in some way. From various countries and backgrounds, all working towards a singular goal.

And yesterday saw it finally come out. I’m happy to have been able to contribute something to it.

If you haven’t already checked it out, it is available free at most bookstores, and will be free on Amazon soon enough.

Amazon | Apple | Nook (Barnes & Noble) | Page Foundry  | Kobo

To learn more about The Dream Engine and the various books being written in the world, check out Blunderbuss World.

To learn more about the writers of The Dream Engine… the guys that started it all, check out Sterling and Stone.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.