Saturday, March 28, 2015

Barreling Through (Annotated)

Updated March 29, 2015 9:30 AM

Suffice to say that overwhelming isn't a strong enough word. I've got to finish this novel and get it to beta readers, make revisions and turn it over to my editor. Every time I opened the file to work, I would get one, maybe two sentences in and know that I wasn't present enough to do this. I tried everything I could to shake it but nothing worked. I couldn't concentrate for more than ten minutes and the novel requires more than that.

Here's more information about what a Velocity Readout is. Planet Comicon was great for me. I was absolutely relaxed and into it while I was there. Coming out of it I went back to the reality of the stress I was able to leave behind for three days. It was a lot like a mini vacation and there was a lot of love for what I was doing there too.

Short stories, flash fictions, comics. That's all I could give my attention to. It hurt that I couldn't read two things that friends had given me to read. I tried, I really tried, but I wasn't able to give the attention I know was necessary. Even stuff at the day job had to be broken down into small enough bits that I could still get things accomplished.

Fortunately, this last week has resolved almost all the issues that had created the ultra high stress levels. And as bad as all this was for me, it was worse for the people I love so dearly that it was directly affecting. Even with my abilities, I can't imagine how difficult all this is for them.

The novel HAS to be done in the next two weeks. The window to self-publshing on the schedule I've set myself is closing. Even though it's a different kind of stress, it's also energizing. I know I can do this.

The new things that have popped up are a ways off, fortunately. They're not really part of the stress level though they will be once I get the novel done. I've never been a good juggler. My organizational skills (as they pertain to my writing) leave a lot to be desired too, but I'm coming up with a cunning plan that involves coffee and late nights. Maybe that's not so cunning...

Look, not writing is an excuse. Maybe you're blocked but most likely you're not. Maybe you're just telling yourself you are. Find a way to do the work you want to do. If you don't want to do it, find something else. I think it's really that simple. Really. Which led me to wind up with:

At some point tomorrow I will come back and annotate this to expand on a couple of things I didn't in the Tweets. As you can see it went on for a while. Anyway, collected here for the benefit of whoever could get some use out of it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Planet Comicon 2015

This show was a blast from start to finish. I arrived late enough on Friday morning that there was a bit of chasing around to gather up my Artists Alley badge. With the help of Volunteer Emma, I got my credentials and set up in time for the show start.

I love that Artists Alley was inside the entrance. There was a lot of traffic past both ends of the row so I had a good view of the cosplayers. Several Agent Carters and lots of John Constantines throughout the show. The Constantines (that's the name of my new band, btw) all looked too pressed and clean, too much like Agent Carter. Anyway, it's a small thing but one I noticed.

It would probably behoove me to mention everyone I got to talk to but there were so many and I didn't make it around to see everyone I wanted to. Anyway, the panels were great. All of them were lots of fun and we had great questions. The last one about prose writing had great attendance and terrific questions.

I have to thank everyone who stopped by the table and complimented my live writing. Most especially I am grateful to those of you who actually commissioned me to write a piece using your prompt. They included "Space Knight", "Panda", "Pandemonium Jabberwocky", "Werewolf Skeleton Dog", "Rapidly Moving Snail", and "Glitter Suplex". There were more but these stuck out. I loved writing each and every one of them.

Since this is now a week after the fact and I have to get on with things like finishing this novel, I'm going to leave it there.

Except to say that I will be back at Planet Comicon next year. If you didn't get a Velocity Readout at the show hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. I'll be glad to get 'em to you via mail.

All right, that's all. The show was great, I had a spectacular time and hope you did, too.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

My Planet Comicon Schedule

I'm moderating 4 panels at Planet Comicon this year:

Friday - 3:30 WWE Artist Rob Schamberger

Saturday - 11:30 Designing Dynamic Comic Book Covers (Tim Bradstreet, Jason Latour, Phil Noto, and Ashley Witter discuss their approach to creating amazing cover art.)

Sunday - 1:30 Comics Art: Visual Storytelling (Featuring Kyle Strahm, Reilly Brown, Rick Buchett, and Tim Townsend.)

Sunday - 3:00 Perfect Prose: Novels Across Genres (Featuring Alex Grecian (The Yard), Ellie Ann, R. L. Naquin, and Ande Parks.)

Make sure to download the show program (with a fantastic cover by Daniel Spottswood!) to design your con experience.

I'm excited about all of these and really looking forward to meeting the folks I've never met before. The cover panel ought to be fascinating and I'm trying to come up with a couple of good questions. The Schamberger panel promises to be a lot of fun as Rob has teased some big news we'll be able to talk about during that time.

In between panels I'll be in Artists Alley at Table #331. I'll have some things to sell including at least one reprint of an old mini comic and a new story to go with it. Mostly I'll be hawking my Velocity Readouts  and trying to catch up with folks I tend to only see once a year during the con.

Hope to see you all there and if you can, come out to the panels that interest you. It means a lot to the folks on stage for you to be in the audience.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Let's talk about science fiction television shows. Here's a quick and by no means comprehensive list:

  • Battlestar Galactica (both versions)
  • Doctor Who
  • Revolution
  • Star Trek (TOS, Next Gen, DS9, etc...)
  • Babylon 5
  • Farscape
  • Firefly (and Serenity)
  • Orphan Black
  • Helix
  • X-Files
  • Continuum
  • Twilight Zone
  • LOST
  • The Black Mirror
  • Stargate
  • Six Million Dollar Man
  • Red Dwarf
  • Torchwood
And so, so, so many more. 

For me, the list above isn't in any kind of order and I haven't watched all these shows, some I've only watched parts of. I didn't include the superheroes because they're not always science fiction though they inevitably veer that way. 

Anyway, I'm a fan of Firefly and Continuum and Doctor Who. I've watched the Twilight Zone since I was a kid. I grew up watching the Six Million Dollar Man and other things like Space:1999 and Time Tunnel. 

All my life it's been easy to write off science fiction television as juvenile. That is until Star Trek came along. Social commentary had long existed in SF prose but it reached a new level on TV under Gene Roddenberry's leadership. Roddenberry changed everything. Everything.

In fact you can see the influence in everything on TV from pretty much 1970 on though it becomes more evident in the mid-1990s. When we get to 1999 and the SciFi Channel drops Farscape on us, it's a level up. The Star Wars trilogy in the 70s and early 80s gave us a little taste with special effects going up a dozen notches but not so much in the diversity category or social commentary.

Fast forward to LOST where there's a wide representation of humanity on a tiny island and LOTS of social commentary.

You can see the influences if you look hard enough. Not just in spinoffs like Torchwood from the new Doctor Who but in things like Farscape influencing the relaunch of Doctor Who. Not directly maybe but the production values of Farscape - which as a show would have definitely benefited from attention from the nascent Internet - were so high that Doctor Who had to prove its concept was sound before it could get there but it did.

Storytelling has gotten more complex over the last twenty years too. Seasons/series are entire stories with subplots and that may not payoff until the next series/season. That's the influence of comic books and soap operas.  Continuum is a great example of a mix of character development and complex storytelling. So is Orphan Black.

 Okay, so that's the groundwork. What's your favorite science fiction television show? Why?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Live Writing

I got confirmation this week that I will have a table in Artists Alley at Planet Comicon March 13 - 15.

So, what will I have to offer? There'll be some assortment of printed stories to sell, a couple of larger sketch-type things too. I hope to have those to preview here in the week leading up to the con.

But the big deal will be doing more Velocity Readouts. Here are the basics:

Give me a prompt - two or three words - and I'll handwrite an original story for you. More details here if you're interested.

Prior to the show, I'll need to do some warmups. This is where you readers come in. Leave me a prompt in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@ajasont) and use the hashtag #VelocityReadout if you would, please.

I'll do my best to get them turned around in a day or less. Additionally, over on Twitter and maybe even on Facebook, I'll hit you all up for prompts and do them more or less live. Turned around in 20 minutes or less like I'll try to do at the convention. Sounds ambitious typed out like that. Still, I've done it before.

Stick with me. Help me get my chops up for this. It's going to be fun.

More to come.