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 RodriquezMiguel 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.

Check out his festival and podcast at Horrible Imaginings
Follow him on Twitter or Facebook
Back him on Patreon

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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.

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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.

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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¢!

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… ⅖ths the way there.

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Come to Mysterious Galaxy Books’ Local Author Meet & Greet on 3/19 and checkout my hair, it might be different. (It won’t.)

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I’m moderating this Comic Fest panel of San Diegans on Sunday.

Check out our panel of local authors who’ve had some publishing success, but not enough to be able to quit their day jobs. How does one break into the publishing industry? What are the options between small, big, and self publishing? Do you need a degree, or just a computer? Find out all this and more with Tone Milazzo (Moderator), Renee Pickup, Indy Quillen, Chad Stroup, Israel Finn, and Lara Campbell McGehee.

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Agented

Stepping into the SDSU Writers’ Conference, I was sure it was The Faith Machine’s last chance at traditional publication. I spent the year querying agents by email, 163 of them, and over $2000 on editing. I hadn’t given up hope in the manuscript, but I was giving up on the process. Years of being a single guy have given me a thick skin for rejection, but I was running out of agents to query, and there’s only a handful of publishers with slush piles out there.

Four pitch sessions with editors were my last best chance at vaulting over the slush pile. Three of them requested the full manuscript. I thought I’d use these as leverage with my remaining open queries. Fortunately, Jonathan Maberry, host of the San Diego chapter of the Writers’ Coffeehouse at Mysterious Galaxy, had a better idea. He knew me from the Coffeehouse, and put me in touch with Cherry Weiner (she’s so good, she doesn’t need a homepage).

Days later, she’d read the manuscript and was working on the editors from the conference. My head was spinning. Until now, agents had only given me silence and form letters. Now I have one working on my behalf, and working hard.

If you’re an author seeking publication; email queries aren’t the end all and be all. In fact, they should be your plan B, maybe plan C. Get networking. Get to your local branch of the Writers’ Coffeehouse or such. It’s not a sure thing, but the odds are shorter.

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