Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Prospects Now Available at Smashwords

That's right, my first self-published short story is live on the Internet for worldwide consumption at Smashwords. It's only 99 cents American.

This is the slightly improved version of the story that debuted at Planet Comicon. It's got a different cover, too, as you can see. Here's the solicit:

Retirement is not an option.

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 story's about 4400 words long and was edited by my Confabulator cohort Sara Lundberg.

I had some trouble getting it on Amazon because - well, because I couldn't get my stuff together on the Word file to upload. Made some dumb mistakes. Regardless, if you prefer Amazon, it's live there, too. That said, you can download for your Kindle or iBooks or whatever reader you have through Smashwords and it doesn't cost you any more than it would at the bigger retailer.

Truth be told, I was seriously considering NOT going on Amazon for the simple reason that I make a little more on each book sold through Smashwords. But that would be cutting my nose off to spite my face. Amazon's the biggest retailer with the most reach. Still, it's tempting to not go there.

Deep breath.

Another story will drop in about three weeks. Now that I've learned a thing or two about a thing or two it won't be quite so traumatic on my end. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Games In New Mexico

Doubt can be a good thing, especially in this day and age. Never hurts to look sidewise at an event and reports surround that event that seem to add more veracity with every new link.

Case in point: Zak Penn uncovering the E.T. The Extraterrestrial game cartridges in New Mexico. It may well be true, those cartridges may well be real.

But they may not be. It may be an elaborate hoax much larger in scale than a film he made with Werner Herzog called Incident at Loch Ness. I loved that film when I saw it because I'd heard it was Herzog actually pursuing the idea that Nessie was real.

Turns out that even though the film was real, the whole thing was a put on designed by Penn and Herzog. Here's where I think the New Mexico dig may be a put on:

...the "hoax" was on even before photography started as several media outlets announced the upcoming production as an actual film. Adding to the verisimilitude is the fact that everyone who appears on screen is a real person and most are in fact who they say they are. 

All I'm saying is that you should definitely cast a doubtful eye on any news reports you see about this. It's a fun hoax if it is a hoax and I hope the film will be entertaining. But you remember Joaquin Phoenix's supposed off the rails performances from a few years ago, right?

Don't be so willing to believe everything. It's possible Penn let the original news reporter in on the joke but it's also possible he didn't. As possible as this being completely real. If he hadn't been involved I might have gone along with it. Right now, I'm amused watching everyone lose their stuff over this. I'm imagining the nerd rage, too, if I'm right. That's also amusing.

News outlets have been taken in before and they smiled when Jimmy Kimmel did it. Will they be smiling if Penn's done it to them again?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How To Be a Kid

Some Tweets from this morning which include the excellent and wonderful @MigElLikeComics. Follow him and visit the site he writes at, Word of the Nerd.

Soapbox: Writers and Exercise

There seems to be some evidence that people sit too much.

Well, that's some low-hanging fruit there, but it's true and it's something that we don't think about. When we're in the car we don't think "I'm sitting down", we think "I'm heading somewhere". Or something like that.

I'm here to tell you that I spent the summer of 2012 essentially on my butt. The entire summer. This matters because I didn't think I was just sitting around. No, I was writing. Creating new stories, revising others and surfing the Internet. Watching TV. Visiting with friends. Worse, I'd broken the habit of walking every morning for 2.5 - 3 miles. A habit I'd acquired over five years. Every morning out for a walk. Unless it was too cold (under 45*F) or there was lightning or I had to be somewhere before 8 AM.

I fooled myself into believing I was being creative, learning, vegging out, whatever. I never considered that it would cause me problems. My knees started hurting. There were little aches and pains that developed. I thought nothing of them. Come fall when I became more active, much more active, I didn't notice that I was having troubles.

My knees got worse. I didn't notice that I was actually slowing down when I walked places. I failed to see that I had begun to have trouble breathing.

That was the beginning of the trouble that would eventually land me in the hospital with massive bilateral pulmonary embolism. The trouble that nearly killed me.

I was living with untreated (and at that point undiagnosed) ulcerative colitis. My failure to move about I'm sure contributed to the problem. It had to. Thankfully it appears the colitis is heading towards remission. I'm walking regularly and things are much, much better. Doesn't mean I don't worry, that I don't take note of every little ache and pain that pops up but I keep track of the ones that don't exist any more, too. There are more of the latter than the former.

But when I'm writing, when I get in The Zone, it's hard to remember that I need to get up and walk around. I mean, I don't want to lose the roll I'm on and I don't want to have to come back in fifteen or twenty minutes and remember where I was. I'm sure the same thing applies to you.

My own experience tells me that I do need to do that, though. That's why I modified my old drawing table and turned it into a standing desk. At first I didn't think it would be for me but it turns out one of the benefits of standing is that when I get frustrated and need a break from the screen I can walk away instead of leaning back in my chair.

Sounds simple but it's effective. I don't lose The Zone and I move around for a couple of minutes. It rests my eyes, gets the blood flowing and burns a couple of calories. Another side benefit is that I tend not to snack when I'm standing. I still drink coffee or whisky, let's not be silly, but the not snacking and the moving around are good for me.

This may not be for you. I exhort you to consider, though, the report I linked to above. What can it hurt?

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Quick Update

Staying busy. Hope you all had a nice weekend. Our garden is going in and the flowers around the house are happy so far, too. Writing and editing stuff:

  • Going over the first 50 pages of The Cold Distance for The Writer's Tank contest.
  • Revising another story before it goes to my editor.
  • The first two stories I gave her are S L O W L Y being prepped for electronic release. I'm hoping they'll be out after the coming weekend. Who knew it was so much work?
  • Also writing another story that has to be finished so I can: 
  • Finish the last 25 - 30K words of another novel.
  • And then I can work on one of the three ideas I have for a follow up to that one.

So there we are. More coming soon.

Saturday, April 05, 2014


Mephisto by Neal Adams and Joe Sinnott from Thor #180.
I'm with people who rail at DC and Marvel for their gross mistreatment of creators like Siegel & Shuster, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko when it comes to proper crediting and compensation. There really should be more of a hue and cry from the comic community. Yes, there should be. When Stan Lee and current creators are dropped in for cameos in the Marvel films, fans love that stuff yet they fail to understand why it's another slap in the face to those who feel under compensated.

That said, I'm in the crowd who's been waiting for these Marvel movies for decades. Ever since the days of Stan's Soapbox in the 70s where he hawked potential Spider-Man and Silver Surfer films. Remember that? I do. That's why when I saw Sam Raimi's first Spidey film I was a ten year-old kid reveling in watching the webslinger swing through the canyons of Manhattan. The X-Men grabbed my attention, too. That was my favorite comic, the Claremont/Byrne/Austin/Orzechowski/Glynis run.  I was a subscriber and my comics arrived mailed flat in a brown wrapper that slid right off. The cover reveal was almost always a 'holy shit' moment.

But the failure to compensate beyond token credit was already in full swing and Stan himself was taking credit for nearly everything. And he continued to do so here and there. The beginning of the Internet saw revisions of history presented as fact.

Is it bad that I want to see the Marvel movies despite the failure of Marvel as a company and now their owners as a corporation haven't made these things right? That in fact they are actively fighting against sharing anything other than a token 'created by' credit in the films? Yes.

I go see the films anyway. I've even purchased a few of them. I'm a Marvel Zombie when it comes to this, I can't help it.

I'm also with the Northwestern football players who want to unionize. All they really want, it seems to me, is to ensure that if they're hurt they are taken care of and even allowed to finish getting a degree. Scholarships aren't free rides to college. They aren't even guaranteed four years any more, apparently. They're renewed from year to year. And some of the guys who get these scholarships are reading at a third to fifth grade level. Some of them are enrolled in a course of study they didn't choose.  And some of those classes don't even meet.

Go figure.

The common denominator is money. Big Money. BIG Big Money. Think about how many people fill those football stadiums - tens of thousands. Those tickets ain't cheap, folks.

The box office for the Marvel movies is huge, too. The comics not so much, but the movies rake it in hand over fist. The ancillary items (shirts, toys, etc...) also rake the money in.

But the creators of the comics the movies are based on and the players who draw the crowds don't see much, if any, of that BIG Big Money. They are treated as sub-contractors or employees and have no health care, no benefits beyond the pay. When your career is over, it's over and done. The creators and the so-called student athletes are getting short shrift and the general public don't want to be informed so they don't have to care.

Because if they cared they would be denied their entertainments. We would be denied our entertainments.

If I'm honest, I cringe every time I sit down to watch a superhero movie whether it's Marvel or DC. But I don't stop because I love the characters and I'm drawn to the movies. Every college basketball game I watch I should turn off because I know some of those guys aren't getting the education that they should, even the ones who leave after a year or two. In fact, they didn't get an education going into college. They're woefully underprepared for college. But they can play ball.

So I should stop. I really should.

But I can't. Well, I probably won't. But I should.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Kind of Anniversary

Nine years ago I ventured into blogging on my own. Previous to that I shared a blog with a friend and we talked about trying to break into comics. Or comix as we called 'em at the time. It was a lot of fun and led me to try my hand at a lot more things. LiveJournal was a thing at the time and lots of people had one. I think not so many any more. Prior to that I had a blog-thing that existed on GeoCities where I had to learn html in order to get it online. THAT takes me back a little. It's gone now and thank goodness.

It's not all that interesting to go back and see what I was working on nine years ago because none of those things panned out. Or maybe it is because none of those things panned out. It's interesting that as long as I've been blogging I've been exploring writing prose stories, even when I was trying to make comics. I wish I could do comics but I don't want to be that guy who can't pay the artist and who can only offer an interest in a property I created. Best to create my own things all by my lonesome until I can offer proper payment for an artist's hard work, don't you think?

At Planet Comicon this year I reconnected with an artist I was trying to get something started with back then so that's a good thing. It was nice to see him still developing a lot of stuff, showing new stuff and working toward his own storytelling goals. He actually inspired me to branch out a little in my own artistic way again. I suppose that's a good enough reason to note that it's been nine years I've been blogging on-again and off-again.

Enough looking backward. I've got stories to write. Will fill you in as things happen.