Get Your Geek On!

This weekend (and next weekend—but that’s below) all of you who consider yourselves in the “geek” family (and that includes close cousins, the nerds) and live in the Shoals area in Northwest Alabama (which includes Northeast Mississippi and South Central Tennessee) should be at The Geek Gathering held in Sheffield, Alabama. While I’m pleased and honored to report that yours truly is an Author Guest at geekgatheringthe show, there are also an entire slate of guests you can see after you say hi to me (and buy a book—or get your copy signed!). If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, this is the place for you to be as several actors from the show will be in attendance. Additionally, there will be other authors there with their work and a handful of artists with lots of cool art-type stuff. You can find out more about it at the website here: http://www.thegeekgathering.net/

Or if you’re a Facebook kind of person, you can go to their page and “like” the event!

https://www.facebook.com/TheGeekGathering

So, come out, say hi, buy a book, get an autograph, meet a famous actor (the first for me, the last for the actor), see some cool cosplay costumes. If you don’t know what that is, then you’ll want to show up to see it. It’ll be like a mini-San Diego Comic Con…only in the Shoals!

Next Saturday, then, all those in the Orlando area head over to Longwood to Ignition, an artist alley event at the IgnitionAcme Superstore (you know, the COMIC store!). Once again, I’ll be set up behind a table telling folks about the cool comics and graphic novels they can get from me…which come with free autographs, of course. There will also be a bunch of spectacular artists and even some cosplay there, too! It’s a one day only event, so set your calendars and clocks now. Doors open at 12 noon on Saturday (Sept 27) and will be open until 8pm. Ignition has a Facebook event—go join it now! https://www.facebook.com/events/633419250107106/

Invite your friends and make a fun day out of it.

And say hi to me when you’re there!

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The First Time

I can’t recall if I’ve ever told my “learning to read” story here. I’ll have to do some searching and if not, tell that story at another time. It’s probably clear to those who visit here that comic books played a vital role in my learning to read experience.

When I first started reading comics, I had to buy them off the spinner racks at the local Stop N Robs. When I was in 7th grade, however, a friend introduced me to something that would forever change my life: the comic back issue. For those unsure, a comic “back issue” is simply an old comic. It could be months or it could be years, but it simply isn’t “new” anymore.

One day while at my friend’s house (we didn’t live near—I’d stay at his house after school sometimes until my dad got off work and would come pick me up. Or I’d spend the night with him and go to school the next day and just ride my own bus back home), we walked several blocks to a sidewalk mall. There was a used bookstore there, and within the bookstore; there were a few boxes of comics. My first trip there, I spent all the money I had on me—which wasn’t very much, of course—but it caused me to want to earn more money so I could buy more back issues (this is what drove me to cut so much grass as a kid—but that’s another story!).

Within a few short months, I learned of the flea market that featured a few vendors there who carried more than just the 4 or 5 boxes at the used bookstore. Shortly after that—before I could drive—I learned of the comic shop and my mom would take me sometimes. Never as much as I wanted, but I did get to go. Once I was able to drive, the comic shop was a weekly destination.

You have to understand that in this pre-internet age, the newsstand dominated distribution and if you were unlucky enough to miss the issue (even of regular magazines!) while it was out, tough luck. I was a big Marvel fan in those days and they always had the editorial notes that pointed me to issues in the past, issues that I wanted because I wanted to know what had happened to the characters that I loved to read about. Discovering there was an outlet to actually find and purchase those back issues was a real revelation for me and changed my “reading” habit into a collecting one. It was at this used bookstore that I saw the first bagged comic (I don’t remember when I first saw backing boards, but I’m sure it was sometime considerably later) and realized that the better condition a book was in, the more value it had. Often I couldn’t afford those in the best condition, but I didn’t want those in poor condition either—I was going to READ it after all.

Of course, we know what my comic reading/collecting turned in to.

That friend who took me to the used bookstore that first time? Barry Gregory. My second oldest friend that I still keep in touch with (the oldest, Duane Holland, only has him beat by about two years) is now a comic creator in his own right and the co-owner of Ka-Blam, the premier POD service for comics! I’ll have to write up an entry about Barry and our budding comic career sometime in the future…but that was not today’s story.

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Unintentional Part 2

So last week I started off thinking I was participating in a blog tour that I’d accidentally already done, then shifted to the release of The Remaining, then started yakking about the projects currently in the works. Well, I got kinda excited talking about it but really ran out of space…so I wanted to finish talking about the other projects I’m working on that just aren’t quite as far along.

Trumps1.2-3  trumpslogoSo first up I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version on this first project. In the late 90s, I started working with artist Anthony Pereira, an artist I’d actually discovered while working at Malibu. We decided to do a project. He finished the first issue…and then promptly disappeared. Seriously. Well, fifteen years later, he’s now found—AND working on issue #2 as if no time had passed. It’s really kinda cool. But, the fact that the first issue of Trumps is completely penciled is the reason this one is listed first here.

I’m in the early stages of a Champion mini-series with artist Kevin Tuma. Kevin’s been around for a while and we’ve actually worked on a single issue before—but it was never published. Kevin drew issue #3 of the ill-fated Vortex mini-series published by Comico. While I haven’t asked, he’s probably still owed a chunk of money like the rest of us. Champion, for those of you who are paying attention, was a secondary character in Cat & Mouse vol. 1. He played a more pivotal role in SilverStorm vol 2. So there are some changes in store for the character, but I think you’ll like what’s going on with him.

BlogBeltThrough my old Malibu pal Kurtis Fujita, I “met” artist Gabriella Rosetti. On facebook (of all places, right?) Kurtis pointed out that one of his martial arts student was also a really talented artist. And because Kurtis is certainly one whose artistic “filter” I trust, I want to check out her work. I was blown away by her pencil work! We started chatting and she’s now working on the preliminary sketches while I flesh out a plot. I don’t have her permission to post this image—and while I should have asked first, I’ll risk reprimand because I didn’t plan ahead better and because I think you really need to see this so you can get excited, too! I know it’s just a peek, but I’m so excited to see what she comes up with. It’s a straight sci-fiction piece…and I’ll just leave it at that until we’ve got a little more.

EPSON MFP imageA few months ago I reconnected with another artist I worked with back in the Malibu days and we just swapped a handful of emails before it came up he was interested in doing more comic work. As I don’t have an editor’s budget anymore, I laid it out for him and he was still interested and so we’ve kicked around the idea of a second Demon’s Tails mini-series. Patrick Rolo has drawn a few sketches at this point, as I’m still fleshing out the plot for it as well. I love the way he handles Demon, though…so I hope you’ll be seeing much more here.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve just started talking to an independent publisher about doing a series of graphic novels. While nothing’s set in stone yet, I’m very excited about the optimism and excitement displayed by the publisher. Yes, I’m intentionally being very vague because of that very thing. I don’t want to say too much. I will say this (so those of you really paying attention might actually figure out which project it is): the story started as a comic series then shifted to an illustrated novel. The novel is written. Finished. The content screams for images, though, and so I’m SOOO excited to be talking about turning it into a series of graphic novels. Yep, you’ll definitely hear more here when I can talk about it.

A few other things kinda cool—not quite as exciting as the new stuff, but still kinda cool. I’m working on graphic novel collections/compilations for some of my older work that is no longer available for whatever reasons. I’ve collected as much of the original art as I could find and am moving forward. First up will be Demon’s Tails (and it helps, I think, that I’m working on vol. 2!), followed by Krey. The only way these are currently available are as back issues—and likely in the reduced boxes. I know I pick them up from the reduced box when I can find them to take them to shows—but I’m tired of looking, so I’ll just print up the compilations and also try to make them available digitally!

Dang it, got long again. Thanks for hanging in with me!

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Oops I did it again=My Writing Process Blog Tour and The Remaining

If you’re here because of Jim Miller’s link to the blog tour, thank you for stopping by to visit. Hopefully you’ll find some posts here you enjoy. Unfortunately, I already participated in this very blog a few months ago but didn’t realize it was the same one. If you’re interested my responses to those writing process questions, pop over here to read them. If you’re one of my regulars (thank you, of course, for your regular visits!), please pop on over to Jim’s site and show him some Ramblin’ love! Jim is my colleague at Full Sail. Thanks for inviting me to participate, Jim!

Serves me right, I guess. I was feeling guilty for participating in this because I just declined a blog tour two weeks ago. Apologies offered to the asker (she knows who she is). I though, however, this one was different from those I’d done in the past and it looked like something I could do relatively quickly…The first one I remember as “what are you working on,” while this one was “my writing process.”

SO, since I’ve covered the process part, let me catch you up on the what I’m working on part!

FIRST, I’m happy to report that THE REMAINING should be out. Check it out here:

Wait, don’t just “check it out,” BUY a copy! I’ll sign it for you—for FREE—the next time I see you! What a deal, huh?

I’ve been working on some comic pitches of late and have even built facebook pages for them. I’d sure appreciate it if y’all’d go and click the “like” button for each of them (link on the logo of each title).

The first one making the rounds is Beah. With art supplied by the talented Tim Holtrop! We’ve received one “no,” (but I got some nice feedback and he said he’d take a peek at other proposals from me, which is very nice) but remain optimistic. My good friend Emily Y. Kanalz—from way back in the Malibu days—is supplying the color for this. Y’all, I’m telling you, this project looks fantastic. I’m just hoping the “words” can keep up with the art!

The next one to make the rounds is Cat & Mouse. I’m teaming up with Henry Martinez who is producing some really cool pitch pages (you have to go like the C&M page to see what we’ve got so far!). The original run of C&M was in b&w and I tend to think of it that way, but I’d like to pitch it either way—and I don’t have someone coloring this one yet. If you a fan of the first volume, this isn’t the exact same characters; they’ll be different, but the mood and spirit will be the same.

The next two are mostly ready, but it’s mostly on me to get it ready now.

Citizens is a project with the entire art package supplied by Joe Badon. Joe’s art style is so unique that I really anticipate he’s going places once the right people see his work—maybe it’ll just take the right story to have him noticed. I’m hoping that story is Citizens. I think it’s different from most anything I’ve done. While I’ve worked on science fiction stories before, I think of this one as sort of a futuristic post-Vietnam story. So, it’s not a “war story,” but a post-war story.

Then there’s Rejects with artist JC Grande and colorist Jesse Heagy, both of whom really deliver on some pitch pages you can see on the facebook page. It’s probably the more mainstream of the projects. It’s superheroes, with a twist: It’s a team of heroes who’ve been rejected by all the “A-list” teams. Just learning their names will tip you off to why they have issues with success.

I’ve got a couple others in the very early development phase…but I see I’m way over the limit, so I’ll save those for a future post. But I’ll go write it now so I promise it’ll just be a few weeks!

Thanks for listening to me ramble a bit. See ya next week!

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Organizing my bookshelves

I’ve blogged before about the trials of moving…and while we’re going through a certain amount of those things again, I won’t retread old ground and rehash those trials again. Instead I’ll talk about moving books.

Every time I move, which seems to be far too often, I swear that I’m going to get rid of most of my comics and books. If you’ve ever moved boxes and boxes of books, you know what I’m talking about. At one point in time, I had close to 10,000 comics. Over the last decade, I’ve gotten rid of a bunch of them, replaced some of them with compilations, etc., so that I’m less than that now, though I don’t know exactly how many. It’s still a whole bunch.

As for books, I also can’t give an accurate number except to say that I fill up about five bookshelves, all packed pretty tightly. Comics and books are different in that which comics I had were always pretty important: I mean, it was a big deal that I had a near entire run of the original run of Avengers—yes, I was an Avengers fan before most of the world knew who they were. Books, on the other hand, I just kinda got what I liked or what was recommended to me.

How do I organize them?

That’s a question I only get from other writers. I can’t recall anyone not a writer asking me that—well, maybe some bookstore employees (side note: one job I had during college was working at BOOKLAND, a job I mostly really enjoyed. It was the job I had at graduation and continued to work at until I was getting enough freelance work to quit). As you know, bookstores have meticulous shelving systems…some of my madness may stem from my time there.

So, in no particular order, here are my “sections:”

*Superhero fiction (alpha by author)

*Sci-fi (alpha by author, anthologies at the end. I include Fantasy here because I really don’t read that much fantasy)

*Li-fi (as far as I know, this is my own term, created because—at the time—I felt that the term “sci-fi” was a slam on the genre. It’s now cool to say “sci-fi.” I use Li-fi in reference to Literary Fiction. Alpha by author)

*Southern/Civil War fiction (alpha by author)

*Christian fiction (alpha by author)

*Reference (no particular order)

*Teaching (these are books that I either have because I thought they’d help me as a teacher, or because I got them as a student—books like Norton’s Anthology or any of the number of “readers” out there. Technically they could go in Li-fi…but I keep them separate.)

*Southern culture (no particular order)

*History (chronologically. Generally, I have three main sections: Civil War, WW2, Early American (which emphasizes heavily on Native Americans). Anything that falls outside of these three get shelved chronologically in the group)

*Religious stuff (no particular order. Wide range of stuff in this section, ranging from books on creationism to CS Lewis to angels (Billy Graham has an EXCELLENT book on angels!) to eternity, etc.

*Non-fiction (okay, I know that “history” is non-fiction, but this is stuff that doesn’t exactly fall into MY history section. It includes bios and autobios as well as some odds and ends like a really good book on New Orleans and a good one on the Yakuza.)

*Stuff I don’t know what to do with (yeah, I do have that section. Often it’s books I get as part of an “author-swap” [you know, when a fellow-writer—or myself, for that matter—says “hey, let’s swap books. Here’s mine, let me have yours.”], or when I pick up something a friend as done as a way of support and it falls outside all my other categories. Yeah, this is where it goes.

No, I do NOT have a poetry section. I’m sorry if that offends you.

So there you go…a tiny peek into the madness that is me.

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Listen to radio much?

I’ve never really been one to listen to the radio. Oh, sure, as a kid in the 70s I listened to the transistor as much as any other kid then—it was the time…it was what we did. But I found they played songs I couldn’t stand and wouldn’t play the songs I liked enough… So even way back then I was pulling out the portable cassette player, cuing up a tape to the blank spot, and placing it next to the radio ready to hit the record button.

And while the nature of radio has changed a bit with internet and satellite, I’m still not a big radio listener.

Some of that, I think, has been that I’ve never really cared what anyone else likes. You like Prince? Good on ya—I can’t stand the dude’s music. You like Stink—I mean, Sting, good on ya—I can’t stand his voice (I DID, however, like Eddie Murphy’s version of Roxanne far better than Sting’s!). I don’t care who you like, but my tastes in music are my own; Meaning, you listen to what you want and I’ll listen to what I want.

Some of that, I think, has been because I don’t really want some DJ—or some corporate board—to determine what I listen to. In the late 70s, Jackson, MS. Got an “album rock” station that I would listen to as opposed to all the pop or top 40 statios. Mostly I’d listen to the station because they played entire albums rather than just the hit from it. I first heard all of Pink Floyd’s The Wall that way. Still, if they put on a Phil Collins album (I don’t understand how people think what he plays is “rock.” Really?) or a Bruce Springsteen album, I was stuck listening to them for forty minutes.

This is part of the reason we haven’t had Satellite or Cable TV for over a decade: I don’t like the companies telling me which stations I get via packages. Whenever I get the solicitation calls, I immediately stop them and ask if I can choose my channels. The answer—you know this, of course—is that I can choose “packages.” But, of course, that isn’t the same thing…and why on earth would I want to buy a package with Home Shopping Network? Seriously? No, once they give me a checklist of channels I can choose, we’ll talk. I get that some channels may cost more than others, but that’s a decision I’ll have to make at the time. But not until then.

Enter Spotify. Yes, I know there are other services out there that do a similar thing, but Spotify is the one that I found (probably through directed marketing via Facebook—but whatever). On Spotify you can pick the artists you’d like to hear…and hear them. You can even choose individual songs and create your own playlists. I’ve got a Christmas playlist that has a bunch of rock Christmas songs…then I have a Theocracy playlist that has ALL their songs (mostly because I only recently discovered them and am still on a “listen to everything by them” kick), and then I have the generic “I’m writing so play all these songs” playlist.

Not sure why this struck me today—probably because the ONE radio station that I’ve been listening to here in Orlando just moved spots on the dial—and now I can’t pick them up.

Ah well—back to the MP3 player channeled through my cassette deck.

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Florida stinks

Yeah, so don’t go getting your panties in a wad before you let me explain. This isn’t a stab at the University of Florida Gators. If you’re a regular reader of my irregular blog, then you already know we visited The Swamp last October and had a grand time (even though my Hogs got beat). I still don’t want to lose to the Gators, but their fans were dang nice to us.

And this isn’t about how hot it is here. I got that a bunch when I moved here…but that question just revealed to me that the question-asker didn’t know much about Mississippi. It’s “hotter” there. The actual temperature may be a little higher here, but the humidity is higher in Mississippi—or at least it feels like it. But that might have to do with the fact that it’s nearly always windy here in Orlando, but in Mississippi, when it’s a hunert degrees and the wind ain’t blowin’—it’s dang hot. Much hotter than anything I’ve felt here.

And it isn’t about the crowds and traffic. It’s crowded here and there’s a lot of rudeness going on. I blame it on the over-saturation of rude Yankees but I have no scientific (census) data to back that up. Could be that there’s just so many people on vacation and they’re all worked up and in a hurry to get to their next touristy spot. It reminds me a lot of Los Angeles here in that the population is spread out and not tall, like, say, a New York City. I definitely do not like the traffic. I do my very best to avoid it at all costs. So, while anyone who knows me knows that I’m definitely not a fan of either, it’s not those things.

No, what I mean is that there is an actual stinky smell here. It’s not all over, but in patches. I notice it every now and again when driving. My initial reaction when passing these spots is that I’m passing the poopy-lakes…but I’m not convinced that is the case. After more than a single nostril-full whiff, it’s stinky, but not sewage stinky.

My theory—at this point—is that because this central Florida area is the home of thousands of tiny bodies of water (they call a lot of them “lakes” when we’d call them “ponds” back home) and those bodies of water are often filled with stale water…sometimes that stale water gets to smelling a bit rancid…and so…it stinks.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it…unless someone gives me a better explanation.

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