January 13, 2018 Circle of book life
Tim Powers was signing his new book months ago at Mysterious Galaxy. I have most of his short stories in one form or another. But he’s one of my favorite authors and always a pleasure to hear him speak. During Q&A, he told a story from when his first book was published.
At a Los Angeles book fair, he spotted Kurt Vonnegut waiting alone between engagements. Tim rallied his courage, walked up to him, and said, “Excuse me, Mr Vonnegut? I just wanted to say your work has been a huge inspiration to me. I’m an author too. My first novel’s just been published, and it would be a great honor if I could give you this signed copy.” Vonnegut accepted the copy with a grunt and a nod.
Later that afternoon, Tim found that copy of his book stuffed in a planter. Tim made himself a promise: If he ever did throw out a fan’s book, he’d use a trash can with a lid.
Years ago, Tim Powers and I were on a Comic Fest panel. Afterward I told him, “Mr Powers. I just wanted to say your work has been a huge inspiration to me-”
If he did throw it out, at least I now know he used a trash can with a lid.
December 20, 2017 6 Rough Pages of Dead Women
I sent Freaky Vicky six pages of stick figures, and she sent back six pages of magic. And these are just the roughs. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
December 5, 2017 Dead Women Page 1
Here’s the roughs of the first page of the comic Dead Women, “Seven Samurai but instead of swordsmen it’s undead women, a vampire, a ghost, a skeleton, a zombie, etc.”
(My layouts are on the left, Freaky Vicky‘s are on the right)
I have the series outlined and the first issue scripted. Once the first 6 pages are drawn, colored, and lettered we’ll have a finished package for submissions.
October 24, 2017 My First attempt at Podcasting with Miguel Rodriquez
Learned it the Hard Way was my first crack at podcasting. It won’t be my last, but next time I’ll build momentum with a series of interviews. Releasing the first show in the afternoon didn’t help either. I recorded one other interview. I’ll engineer that one myself and get it posted here later this month.
Miguel Rodriquez came to California with nothing but his wits and a love of films, both highbrow and low. Listen to his story as he poured sweat into his festival year after year, and appreciate what it takes to build a grassroots art scene.
October 14, 2017 I thought I could pull this off. I thought wrong.
October 3, 2017 Striking Out on My Own
I’ve been freelancing for three months now. I like the lifestyle (because I hate commuting), but making it pay has proven challenging. I’m pursuing three enterprises: creative writing (as always), WordPress development, and doggy daycare. So far doggy daycare pays the best, in that it pays at all.
It’s nice to imagine I’m living the life of a professional writer. On paper I’m closer to that goal than ever before, but that paper isn’t green. I have to be realistic. Even if The Faith Machine sells tomorrow I still need to pay my bills. Hence the side hustles.
The WordPress development is cranked and ready to go. All I need is leads. I’ve put ads on Craigslist. I’ve tried networking at small business events. The magic hasn’t happened. Not yet. But I’m not giving up either, still pounding the pavement.
Maybe it’s time to update my skills. I’ve thought about a website that expands on the Magic Spreadsheet. Maybe it’s time to learn Angular, Python, and Django and make it a reality.
At least the house is clean.
August 18, 2017 Goodbye, Commonwealth
Quitters never win, but after five playthroughs (and I don’t want to know how many hours) no one can’t say I didn’t give this game my all. But all for what? If I’d put those hours into a writing I’d have another book.
When Fallout 4 was released I was at a low point and this game was just what I needed. The writing ‘career’ wasn’t going anywhere and the day job sucked. Home life was all I had going for me. Fallout was an escape into false progress, because when you’re playing Fallout (or most any video game) the grind pays off. If I only earned 1 experience point for killing that mole rat, that’s still one experience point closer to the next level.
Unlike most jobs where the grind feels more like treading water, or worse, a slow drowning. Even writing doesn’t always feel like progress. It did at first, but now I’m aware that any word I write has at best a 30% chance of survival and, after all that, the book could never be published. Those thoughts makes it tough to stick with it through the months it takes to finish a novel.
But achievements inside a video game are counterfeit, and real life is exactly that. So I sold my copy of Fallout 4 and I’m going to start phasing video games out if I want to accomplish anything in life. I can’t be trusted with them in the house. I don’t want to look back at my life and say, “Boy, I sure built some settlements.”
Goodbye, Fallout. I’ll never forget you and I’ll never forget that Tunnel Snakes rule. They rule.
April 19, 2017 Outlining The Bliss Gun, an iterative process
While Agent 97:4 deals with her fading faith and failing power. She and Dr Park cross paths with Jennifer and Josh, two teens abducted 34 years ago by astral aliens, twisted into monsters, and released on Earth. The Montauk Project meets Natural Born Killers.
I had a good conversation with my agent this morning about the outline. Which was a relief. Our previous conversation didn’t go so well. These were my mistakes:
- The Title. MKIntra was a play on MKUltra, the US Army psychic warfare unit. A reference my agent didn’t get. More importantly, in a series the titles should have a theme. Following the [feeling] [device] template, I renamed the outline after the secondary antagonists’ weapon.
- More Mind Control. Jennifer originally had mind control powers. So did 97:4’s primary antagonist, in The Faith Machine. No body wants to see the hero fight the same power back to back. I’ve tweaked her power. Now she’s capable of full body possession and astral projection instead of the old order people around kind of mind control.
- Moth Men. I didn’t realize we’re coming out of a glut of giant insect monsters. At least, that’s what been being pitched. Cutting the Moth Men severs one connection to the Montauk lore, but that’s fine. I replaced that monster with a swarm of scarabs wearing a man’s suit. I may replace them again with stone-age style clowns. We’ll see.
- Format. I’m used to writing outlines for myself. Scene by scene breakdowns of the entire book. Fine for me, a painful read for anyone else. Rather than bouncing back and forth between protagonists and antagonist every sentence, I collected the scenes into paragraphs. An outline isn’t a scale model of the book.
Fortunately, the second outline only had a few minor problems, mostly typos and clarity. Taking feedback gracefully works!
Also, my short story The Ginger Jar is available for free on Kindle until Friday. Download it now, before the price skyrockets to 99¢!
March 16, 2017 29 Scenes at 5 pages a scene is 145 pages outlined so far…
… ⅖ths the way there.
February 28, 2017 Appearing on 3/19 at Mysterious Galaxy
Come to Mysterious Galaxy Books’ Local Author Meet & Greet on 3/19 and checkout my hair, it might be different. (It won’t.)