November 29, 2023

November Newsletter

Okay, I’ve got a bunch of different things to tell you about this month, so this one’s going to be a bit longer than usual. Might be the longest one I’ve sent out. But I think you’ll find one or two interesting things in here.

Anyway, let’s dive into it…

First off, I’m still working on GJD. About halfway through at this point. Still planning to have this done before Christmas. Very happy with the changes. A few darlings have been killed, but that’s the way of this.

Darlings? Hell, I’ve deleted three whole chapters at this point. Seriously. But I also know I need to add some new chapters that should’ve been there before. And I know some of you are saying “Pete, you can’t just add and delete chapters at random! That’s not how structure works!” And you’re right, it isn’t. But there’s more to what I’m doing than just adding and deleting.

Trust me, I’m a professional.

Second, some downer news. Sorry. For the past two years I’ve been biting my tongue about what was supposed to be some amazing film news. Mostly because I know how fragile Hollywood things are up to a certain point, and I don’t like to talk about anything that might end up being nothing. Which is, y’know, what happened here…

Long story short, James Wan and Blumhouse were going to partner to do -14- and The Fold as a streaming series. And they were really excited about doing it. Yeah, I know. Like I said, biting my tongue. I think I told a total of maybe twelve people about it. And two of them were my parents, who immediately asked “Who’s James Wan? Is he an actor?”

And then the strikes happened. WGA and SAG together. Which—to be very, very clear—I 100% supported then and now. But the strikes meant a lot of projects were put on indefinite hold and this was one of them. Which meant a lot of studio folks had time to sit and think and rethink and overthink. And about a week after the WGA strike ended, my film agent got a short email saying (paraphrased) “Yeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh… we’ve decided no.”

So there’s that. Raise a glass to the cool series that could’ve been.

In happier news…

The Reinvented Detective anthology is going to be out in about a month. Really, it’s coming out just before the next newsletter. But you can head down to your friendly local bookstore and order a copy now. I have a story in it called “The Unassembled Victims” which is a loose tie in to GJD (see above) but also just a fun story about two mismatched detectives hunting a serial killer.

Joe Ledger: Unbreakable is out now! Right now! Like, you could go down to that bookstore we were just talking about and it’d be right there on the shelf. Or you could ask them to get it for you and you’d have it in a couple days. I’ve got a story in it that’s called, well, “Crossover Story” and like every title I’ve ever done you can read it a few different ways. It’s also me finally saying out loud something Jonathan Maberry and I have both made sly winks to in the past. I think you’ll like it a lot.

And speaking of which…

On Saturday December 9th, Jonathan, a bunch of other authors and I will be at Dark Delicacies in Burbank signing copies of Joe Ledger: Unbreakable. So if you’d like a signed copy, please stop by or get in touch with the store ahead of time (they ship!).

Also, since this is the only official signing I’m doing before Christmas, I’ll be signing and personalizing anything you want for the holidays that you order through Dark Delicacies. You want a signed copy of The Broken Room for that special someone? One of the Ex books? Paradox Bound? The Fold? Give them a call and talk to them. Just remember to do it soon, because if you want something they don’t have in stock, they need to order it in time for it to be there on the 9th (for me to sign).

And, yes, if you’re in the LA area on the 9th you can just stop by with something you already own. But please remember bookstore signing etiquette! Buy a book there if you want a book signed there.

Also, speaking of etiquette, next week I’ll be making my seasonal Black Friday offer over on the ranty writing blog if that’s something you might need this year. Probably looking at the same time frame for shipping, so I’ll probably have to cut that off on the 11th or so.

What else can I tell you about…?

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Watching– Tron: Uprising. Holy crap. I know this is like ten years old but I hadn’t seen it until now and holy crap! Also, Bob’s Burgers continues to be amazing. No Hard Feelings was surprisingly deep for such a shallow, sexploitation premise.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading
Currently in the middle of Red Rabbit by Alex Grecian and really liking it. Next up is Democritus Brand and the Endless Machine by Cullen Bunn, JimmyZ Johnston, and Federico DeLuca.

Cool New Toys – Picked up Monica Rambeau from The Marvels. A trip downtown just before Halloween let me grab a Megalon ReAction figure from the Super 7 store. And maybe a week after that I lucked into the Target exclusive retro Spider-Man and a Transformers Legacy Evolution Snarl (seriously, why are some of these names so long?). And I also kickstarted Combat Creatures from Morphonauts, which I highly recommend if you like action figures or the ides of Battle Beasts crossed with Warhammer 40K.

October 30, 2023 / 2 Comments

October Newsletter

October‘s flown by so far. A friend of mine called it the ninja month and… yeah.

Anyway, let’s get to the stuff you want to know…

Since we last spoke, my agent and I got on the phone and talked for a while about GJD. Then I did a massive rethinking/re-outlining of the whole book. A lot of it’s still usable and the core plot still holds together well, but there are some places where it’s going to need changes. A few chapters are getting big rewrites. A few are getting removed altogether. It’s progressing at a steady pace.

I’m also trying to still spend some time on TOS, just so I don’t lose momentum on it. They’re two very different books, so it can be a bit of a gearshift at times, but overall I think it’s going well. Although this past week (as I write this) has been that perfect storm of this book and that book and blog posts and newsletter and…

Where were we?

Right, so, things still look good to have GJD back to my agent before the end of the year (things always get rough around the holidays) and then we see where things go from there. And then I may have TOS for him shortly after that.

In other news… I’ve got stories in two anthologies coming out before the end of the year. In just a few weeks, on November 10th, we’ll see the release of Joe Ledger: Unbreakable, edited by Jonathan Maberry and Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Jonathan suggested doing something we’ve both hinted at for a while in our respective books, so I wrote a little tale about Bunny (if you’re familiar with the DMS/RTI books) that could only be called “Crossover Story.” Feel free to read that title any way you’d like and you’ll probably be right. This one’s already up for preorder pretty much everywhere, I believe.

And then just a month after that is The Reinvented Detective from Jennifer Brozek and Cat Rambo, an anthology about future crime and punishment. Jennifer tempted me into this one by casually dropping an idea in my lap, and then I of course went waaaay overboard and wrote an 12K+ word almost-novella which had to be cut and trimmed back down into “The Unassembled Victims.” It’s a pleasant little tale about two mismatched detectives and a serial killer, and it also has a light tie-in to GJD, the thing I’m currently rewriting.

In other news…

I think a lot of the reason (for me) October’s flown by—that a lot of this year feels like it’s flown by—is that our lives here are still being upended by the never-ending construction noise (and accompanying stress) that’s been going on for the past six months. The houses on either side of us are being flipped, and they’re getting gutted and rebuilt and re-roofed. The city’s done major road work here three times (and still might not be done). Plus, since the last newsletter, both flippers decided to chainsaw all the trees and bushes on each property. We’ve gone from having a house semi-surrounded by trees (and shade) to one that looks like we’re in the middle of a stark wasteland. And if it rains… well, we’ve still got plants holding the canyon together behind our house, but all around us…

I might’ve gone mad if it weren’t for little pleasures…

Cool Stuff I’ve Been WatchingHouse of Usher (we watched Midnight Mass last year and I’m a devout Flanagan junkie now). Haunted Mansion (which I liked a lot more than I thought I would). I decided to do a seasonal rewatch of all the Milla Jovovitch Resident Evil movies.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading—I’ve still read nothing, which is awful on a number of levels. Mysterious Galaxy actually wrote to let me know I’ve had some things on hold there for several weeks now. Had to give up on a massive book I was reading to blurb because… well, it’s massive and there’s no way I’m going to be able to finish it in time for the deadline.

Cool New Toys – My Plunderstrong from the latest Plunderlings Kickstarter arrived and they’re just fantastic. Big, solid, lots of accessories. I got the LEGO Lunar Roving Vehicle to use as part of a Halloween display, but now I’m not sure I’m going to have time to build it. Maybe? Watch Instagram for updates…

September 25, 2023

September Newsletter

Hey look! We’re back from vacation! And using a new newsletter service! And you can’t even tell, can you? It’s okay, that was the general idea, remember…

Anyway, let’s get to the stuff you want to know…

I think I’ve added just shy of 12K words to TOS since coming back from vacation. Also, it’s really weird to say “coming back from vacation” when we mostly just stayed at home and did stuff and tried to relax. I mean, we spent the last last two days talking about all the things we think we did wrong during this little staycation and how we’d probably do it differently next time. Not that this was nightmarishly bad or anything (okay, yeah, I might have fractured a bone in my leg doing garden work, but who among hasn’t dropped a hundred pounds of concrete on their shin?), we just realized we kind of overplanned some things and underplanned others and had a few of those “you know what we should’ve done…” moments at the end. Next year, it’ll be better.

But anyway… sorry, yeah, the new book is a litle over 52K now and I’m very happy. Lots of enthusiasm for it. Nothing could wreck my momentum now, right…?

<cue ominous music>

My agent finally got his notes back to me about GJD, the previous thing I wrote. He loved most of the characters and their arcs (see below), a lot of the different plot elements, the big overall idea of it. BUT he also pointed out a couple fairly large problems. And he doesn’t think he’d be able to sell the book as it is. Which means a big rewrite for me.

No, no, I can hear some of you. Thing is, he’s absolutely right. Two of my early readers pointed out some of the same things, but I kind of brushed them off and told myself they just didn’t get what I was trying to do (so big apology to Kristi and Robyn). Whereas the real truth is, I did exactly what I set out to do… it just didn’t make for a good story. I got so caught up in trying to have a certain theme, to make this statement, that I didn’t realize how, well, boring it got in places. Or how annoying one or two characters were.

So, back to the drawing board. It’s not a page-one rewrite, but probably close to one of those house renovations where they tear it down to the studs and start again from there. I’m guessing this’ll be at least a month to six weeks of work. Maybe closer to two.

On the plus side, this might not change things much at all, from your point of view.

In other news…

As I mentioned above, we’re not on Substack anymore. I, for one, feel a little morally cleaner already. I’m afraid whatever comments and likes there are lost forever, but all the old newsletters are still over on the Ranty Writing Blog. I plan to stick to my regular schedule—newsletter goes out mid-month, gets re-posted there on the last Monday of the month.

So by subscribing, you get early access to quality material like this…

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Watching— Finally got around to watching Upload, which I’m enjoying a lot more than I thought I would. We’re just a few episodes into season two right now. Lower Decks is back, which is always fantastic (“Moopsie!”)

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading—I hate to say it but I’ve read almost nothing since we last talked like this. I mean, I read one thing that was kind of ehhhhhh and I’m in the middle of something that really could go either way. Nothing where I feel like “hey, I’ve got to tell you all about this!”

Cool New Toys – My beloved grabbed me the Marvel Legends Joe Fixit Hulk, and I grabbed myself the What If..? Gamora. Really, I’ve got a pile of stuff that needs to be opened because I hate leaving toys in boxes. I’m just not that guy.

August 28, 2023

August Newsletter

So, where are things at?

Well. my agent’s been swamped with stuff and only just got to start reading GJD a week or so back (as you’re reading this, not as I’m writing it). Life happens, sometimes things get slowed down. We’re both still hoping this means we can get it in front of editors before the end of the year. For a few reasons I won’t bore you with right now.

(I started to write them all out and then realized “this’ll probably be really boring to about 83% of the people reading it” )

My current project, TOS, is at about 41K words. I spent the last week or so of July just scribbling like mad, filled up two more legal pads, and now I’m in the slow process of transcribing it all. This is kind of how I wrote Paradox Bound. Longhand on legal pads and then typing it up becomes a sort of preliminary clean up/ edit pass

Why so much at the end of July? Why so slow transcribing? Well, as it turns out…

I’m on vacation.

Yeah, taking the month off. All of August. The whole thing. Yes, I’m very aware how super-lucky I am to be in a position to do that. Also, yes, it’s almost disturbing to not be working on anything for this long.

Which is part of the reason I’m doing it.

See, my partner and I haven’t had a real vacation together in years. I think last one was in… 2006? Around there. Before I was writing full time and definitely before my career took off in any way. Since then I might take a week off, but she’ll usually keep working on her own projects. Or maybe we’d take two weeks at the holidays, but holiday time gets filled up fast with visiting friends and family and, y’know, holiday stuff. And let’s be honest– either way, how often does “taking a few days off” quickly become “doing all those random errands around the house” …?

Another thing is… well, ugly truth of the world is the climate is shifting. A lot of places have had really hot summers and/ or extreme weather events. Here in southern California, we’ve shifted into more of a hot late-summer early fall. Two or three years in a row now, August means regular temperatures of 100+. We’d be blissfully happy when it dropped into the mid-90s because we could work without our computers overheating. Which really meant we spent most of August hot, frustrated, and… well, not working anyway.

So last year we decided y’know what– let’s just plan on not working in August. Let’s take the month off and catch up on reading, gardening, gaming, hobbies, whatever else we want. Do all the stuff that always feels like it’s “other stuff we need/want to do.”

And we’re not being monsters about it. I mean, we both like writing,a lot, so if one of us has this sudden flash of inspiration, we’re not pointing fingers and shrieking accusingly. I’ve been doing some transcribing every day of that end-of-July rush. The ranty writing blog. This newletter, obviously.

Yeah. Vacation. It’s been kind of nice. A little distrubing, like I mentioned above.

In other news…

This is the last newsletter you’ll get through Substack. The newsletter isn’t going away, mind you, it’s just… going away from Substack. I’ll be migrating the mailing list over to either Buttondown or just straight through WordPress. Mentioned this last time, but if you’ve changed your mind about having your email shifted to a new list, I get it. Just say the word.

For the rest of you– you should see this same time as always next month.


Cool Stuff I’ve Been WatchingGood Omens 2. The Strange New Worlds/Lower Decks crossover was such pure joy I’ve already watched it three times.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading—The Endless Vessel by Charles Soule. Cult Classic by Stephen Blackmoore, Atomic Robo: The Vengeful Dead by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener

Cool New Toys – Just after the last newsletter I found something I’ve wanted for years—a Comic Con exclusive Micronauts set. An impulse purchase over that weekend has also left me with a small collection of Star Wars: Mission Fleet ships and figures, most of them centered around The Mandalorian. I have a pile of action figures I need to free from their packages, so check out Instagram if that interests you at all.