Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Writing of Things

Of course some whiskey will be involved.
The resting period after a convention is always a good time. Where thoughts zip around and around and collide into one another mashing themselves into more interesting ideas...

Which means that I'm writing. I can hear you ask what I'm writing. Here's the lowdown:

What I'm writing now, this week and next,  is a third installment of one of the Actionopolis series. It's moving along swimmingly and when it's done and out in the world you will wonder if there will be more. On that score we will see.

The day job is keeping me pretty busy with writing chores. Nothing I can to point to, but I mention it to let you know that I'm writing a lot more than you may ever see. I know quite a few writers who do that and so I don't feel like I'm being a lazy slug when I don't want to write more of my own stuff at home. That said, even when I don't want to write I am opening the files and typing away because that's what needs to happen. That's how books get written.

I'm editing a couple of short stories before I send them to my editor for searing insights into why I'm still trying to tell stories. In April I will release into the digital wild my first short story, Prospects, and then in May you'll get The Masking Job. Four more, one each month through September, will be announced as they're readied. You should have the complete list sometime in July. Or before. Maybe before. We'll see.

I'm finishing one novel on slow pace and planning another. Also thinking about a third novel. I'll have to figure out which of the two I'm going to write come fall. Various short stories are presenting themselves for consideration and notes, scribbles, vague phrases are being kept. Notebooks are piling up.

On another note about writing, as I consume the various articles and posts about Planet Comicon and other conventions around the country, I notice that there's a lot of focus on the cosplayers (as there should be) and on the media guests (by default). Some people are cool mentioning the actual comic creators in attendance but almost no one talks about Artists Alley. I know for a fact that thousands of people wandered through the aisle my table was in and I talked to hundreds of people. And that's just me.

So what I'd like to see is a comic website - any comic website - that goes to a convention do some real coverage of what's going on in Artists Alley. Where the creators of tomorrow are working away at making something that you might want to read. Can someone make that happen? Maybe start with your local con or even San Diego if you have to but do it. Spend a day with the unknowns and find something that can rock your world.

Getting off my soapbox now.

Finally, it seems that I may be at another convention in the fall. If that comes to pass I will let you know. In the meantime, assume that words are being slung. Updates as they're appropriate.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Commissions

So I've done my first writing commissions. I think I shared a couple on Instagram but maybe I didn't. Anyway, here are five of the ones I did at Planet Comicon. The best part was watching the folks who asked me to write for them when they saw the finished product. At first they seemed bemused, then relaxed and finally every one of them smiled. THAT made my day.

The prompts were so much fun. They're the titles of each piece.

And then when I thought about it a little more, I realized that I got paid to be a writer at the show. Best day ever.

Here they are (click to embiggen):

"Lonely Traveler"


"Bounty Collecting"

"Gas Station Sushi"

"Renegade Balloon Maker"

"Victorian Leniency"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Post-Con Debrief 2014

No cats were harmed at the show as far as I know.
Planet Comicon 2014 is in the books. I'd like to say I conquered the con, that I ruled over all but I didn't. I had a great time, sold some stuff for the first time in years and talked to a bunch of really incredible people.

All in all it was a damn good time.

So let's break it down, shall we?

THE EXPERIENCE

Overall, I was in a great place in the hall and surrounded by terrific people. The food options were much better because there were more of them. Lots and lots of space in the aisles so that even when traffic peaked there was room to move. Hundreds of excellent cosplayers (who I elected not to photograph this year) that I won't comment on except to say I appreciate the amount of work they all put into it.

One weird moment was when I was stopped by a congoer who asked me if I worked for the con. No, I said, I'm in Artists Alley. Oh, you just looked like you were someone in charge.

One great moment was meeting James Robinson and getting him to sign my copy of the first Starman Omnibus and the collected Four Devils, One Hell. Another great moment was telling Greg Rucka just how much a conversation we had the first time he was in KC meant to me. He seemed genuinely touched by that. The best part of the entire con was that I was paid to be a writer.

Here's what happened day by day:



FRIDAY

Justice came to Artists Alley.
Got to the show early with my son and nabbed good parking. We were escorted to the hall, checked in and were at my table with an hour to spare. 


My neighbors were super nice people, especially the guys from Stache Publishing. Anthony and David and everyone is so enthusiastic about what they’re doing it’s infectious. In the same pod of tables were Kevin Dillmore and Dayton Ward along with Elizabeth Bunce. So, yeah, great company of writers there. 


Everyone was buzzing, ready for the action. However since this was the first Friday ever for Planet Comicon, I didn’t know what to expect. Traffic was light and interested but nothing really popped. I had time to walk around a little, touch base with my friends and new acquaintances and do a bit of shopping. I was pleased to score a near mint copy of the Treasury Edition of Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Been looking for that one for years and passed up many lesser quality/more expensive copies in that time. 


Friday ended up with very slow sales but a lot of contact. Selling words only at a comic book convention was a little harder than I thought. 


SATURDAY

I woke up and found some increased traffic on the blog here overnight. I hoped that meant that people were at least checking things out. Maybe that would mean some sales. Off I went back to nerd prom.


I got to the show only minutes before it opened. I decided that I wouldn’t take very many (if any) pictures of cosplayers because I didn’t want to slow things up around my table. I ended up taking two, though: ALF and The Lone Ranger. I did compliment several of the cosplayers as they stopped and talked to me. The Lego people and the Sesame Street Martians were among my favorites. 



L to R: Ande Parks, Elizabeth Bunce, Alex Grecian, Holly
Messinger and me. Missing: Paul Kupperberg
I talked to even more people, sold several copies of both Prospects and The Masking Job and then sold my first ever commissioned flash fiction. Several friends stopped by and hung out (hello Jack, Richard, Alecia, Amanda, Gabe, Ron, Jessica, and Mike!) and I met the wonderful Ellie Ann who one can’t help but like. I’m buying her book The Silver Sickle today. Check it out. My editor, Sara, stopped by and came to the panel I was on about genre prose. Lots of good questions and information changed hands. You should have come.


At the end of the show, Rob and Katy Schamberger took me out for the best Indian food I’ve ever eaten. When I finally got home after driving through some heavy rain I was wiped out and collapsed into bed.



SUNDAY

My wife let me sleep in late and I arrived an hour after the show opened on Sunday. I settled in at the table after having a nice chat with Holly Messinger (who’s got a great idea for next year, stay tuned!) and was prepared to do some reading, a bit of writing and a lot of visiting. 


Sunday was my best day. I sold everything but the best part was having the interest in my Velocity Readouts. The first one I got was the biggest challenge but all of them were tons of fun. Traffic picked up around 1 and was steady, steady, steady until almost 4, even after the Trektacular thing started. 


It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a con. Everyone was in a great mood and really open to wanting some good words. I watched faces light up as they read what I’d written for them and that made me realize I really want to be a writer for a livng. I’m coming back next year for sure.


CONCLUSIONS

Better than last year. Maybe the best show ever in KC, I can't say for sure. Still some hiccups in some small details that I'll share privately with my contacts but I hope the organizers institute a sexual harassment policy sooner than later. Not that anything bad happened but I overheard a couple of women talking about creepers who were asking how old they were. Even though the ladies were competent to handle the creepers themselves, there should be a con policy so that there's a process everyone knows about. Planet Comicon is a terrific show and deserves to have the best reputation.

There's not a lot to criticize here. The show ran very smoothly, was great to be at and overall is wonderful. Thanks to the staff who I interacted with, especially Kirk Chritton, and I hope you all get a week to rest up. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and checked out my writing. Thanks to Christina, Chris, Lyle, Matt & Megan and everyone who commissioned a Velocity Readout. I love you all.

What a long ramble. But it was a big show. Come next year and see how cool it is for yourself.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Weekend at Planet Comicon


In case you haven't heard (or read) I'll be at Planet Comicon this weekend in Artists Alley at table number 1242 alongside other writers and artists. I'll have stuff for sale:

Prospects:

"Mrak is a man who must work. After more than two decades of service to the Yaiax ambassador, he won't take just any job. He lives on his severance until he is convinced to take an assignment he's been warned against. 
This new job takes Mrak to a distant world where he must confront a spectre of the past and come to terms with the prospects of his future."

The Masking Job:

"Rubbing people out is an ancient profession that sprang up on every civilized world in the system. 

Someone wants someone dead and someone else is willing to do it for a price. As long as the price is met, well, then everyone goes home happy.

Except the dead one."
 I'll be part of a panel on Saturday afternoon:
Heroic Prose: Genre Fiction
Saturday, March 15

4:00 – 4:50 PM
Kings of the Keyboard and Princesses of Prose! A panel of prodigious purveyors of thrilling novels and short fiction reveal the stories behind their stories. - ROOM 2502 (Lower level)

And I'll be live writing new Velocity Readouts which are very short stories that can be personalized if you like.  Plus I'll have some older stuff, too, like another short story, The Receivers, and maybe some mini comics, too.

It's going to be an exciting weekend and I hope you come by. Please act responsibly towards cosplayers (this is a valuable article on the subject, too) and be respectful of creators and other fans. Remember the manners you were brought up with. This is the best convention in the region and it's only going to keep growing. Let's keep it classy folks.

What else? Hm. Stop by, say 'hi' and have a great time. I'll do a post-show wrap-up, sometime next week. If you want to keep up with the action follow the Twitter feed or check in on my Storyteller Facebook.

Have a wonderful weekend, folks.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Masking Job at Planet Comicon

Here's the back cover copy for The Masking Job, the second of the two stories I'll debut at Planet Comicon March 14 - 16:

"Rubbing people out is an ancient profession that sprang up on every civilized world in the system. 

Someone wants someone dead and someone else is willing to do it for a price. As long as the price is met, well, then everyone goes home happy.

Except the dead one."

$2 gets you the paper copy before it is released digitally in late April/early May. 

I'll also have another short story - Prospects - and a couple of copies of Evolver and Agent of DANGER if you don't have yours already. Plus there will be other stuff for sale, like Velocity Readout author sketch cards. 

One more post about the show probably on Thursday when things are much, much more firm. I'll let you know where I'll be and when

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Prospects at Planet Comicon

Here's the back cover copy for Prospects, one of the two stories I'll debut at Planet Comicon March 14 - 16:

"Mrak is a man who must work. After more than two decades of service to the Yaiax ambassador, he won't take just any job. He lives on his severance until he is convinced to take an assignment he's been warned against. 
This new job takes Mrak to a distant world where he must confront a spectre of the past and come to terms with the prospects of his future."

$2 gets you the paper copy before it is released digitally in late April/early May. 

I'll also have a couple of copies of Evolver and Agent of DANGER if you don't have yours already. Plus there will be other stuff for sale. 

I'll have more about The Masking Job, the other story, soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Glad to be Alive VI: Life, the Universe and EVERYthing

So it's been awhile since I've updated you who care about the state of my health. For those just joining us, I came close to checking out last August. Not on purpose. The diagnosis is ulcerative colitis that caused the massive bilateral pulmonary emboli which caused me to have trouble breathing. Anyway, you can read up on it if you want. No pressure.

Here's the short version:

  1. Massive bilateral pulmonary embolism manifested in extreme shortness of breath and elevated heart rate brought on by ulcerative colitis that had been undiagnosed/untreated for almost two years.
  2. Three days in the hospital.
  3. Two weeks to recover at home.
  4. Echocardiogram in December was good. Stopped seeing the pulmonary doc. Added the hematologist.
  5. Saw the hematologist today.
The good news is that the blood test shows normal which goes along with the normal echocardiogram from December. My blood is behaving in a very normal fashion.

That said, even though the gastroenterologist believes the ulcerative colitis was the cause (supported by a couple of recent scholarly papers, apparently) the hematologist is still saying The Incident was 'unprovoked' meaning that it didn't fit any previously established causes for emboli. So he's keeping me on the blood thinners for another six months just to be sure.

This is good, in the long run. Enough about my health, right?

It's good to be alive. And I'm making the most of it. I'll be at Planet Comicon in Artists Alley all three days with two new stories in print form for $2 each and a stack of Velocity Readouts already sketched out. The stories (Prospects and The Masking Job) are my first ventures into self-publishing in more than ten years. These are premiering at the show but will eventually be available digitally starting in late April and they'll be joined by four other stories, one dropping every month through October.

As an added bonus I'll be 'live writing' more Velocity Readouts at my table. Come by and see me. 

We'll talk about writing, comics, whatever. Because it's good to be alive and with a whole bunch of people who like the same things you do. I look forward to seeing you.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Twitter Velocity Readouts

I asked my followers on Twitter to suggest a title for a Velocity Readout short. The idea is to sort of improv a story and post it here as fast as I can. I'll put the ones from Sunday March 2, 2014, here.

"Endless Glory" Suggested by @JCRosen

The parade was overwhelming. There hadn’t been one for an astronaut since the Apollo program. Moss thought that she didn’t deserve it even though she was the first to land on Mars. There were too many people behind the mission for one person to take all the credit.
Security was tight, too. She spotted agents everywhere. None of them would go down in history like she did though they were more heroic than her.
All she did was survive long enough to wave at the crowds on either side of the street.
Not like Yoshi. He would be missed.

"Tarot Clowns" Suggested by @poorstruggler

The cast had spun out of her control. She’d never seen the cards suggest such horror. She could barely hide her dismay from the client, and that was making her mother angry. Things on the shelf rattled.
“Sorry. Would you like me to start over?”
The client smiled. “Is there a problem?”
“Noooo,” she said and flipped the final card. 
Before her eyes they all transformed: Page, Knight, Queen, King all became Clowns. She looked up at the client, fearful.
“It’s all right,” he said with a  terrible smile. “Tell me what you see.”
“Death, fear, blood.”
His grip was ironlike. “Good.” His eyes glowed red.

"Reluctantly Unrequited" Suggested by @Usoki

“I like you, but -“
“But it’ll never work. Thanks. Heard that before.”
“Don’t be that way, if things were different…”
“Heard that one before, too. Look, it’s not okay but I get it. I’ve heard all the excuses before. I’m leaving.”
“Let me get you -“
“No. Stop. Don’t say anything else.
“This isn’t my first rodeo. I was fun until it wasn’t fun any more, okay. Fine. But you should know that I really, really cared about you. I was bold and took the step.”
“You’re not real, that’s the problem.”
“No, the problem is that your mind is closed.”

Thank you to Jess, Chris and Neil for the suggestions. Feel free to share this post and watch for another round of these soon(ish) on Twitter. Tell your friends!