March 25, 2024

March Newsletter

Oh, hey there. Thanks for opening this email from a relative stranger.

So, let me start right off by saying past-me made some mistakes.

You may remember in the last newsletter I mentioned I was going to try rearranging my weekly schedule to get a little more writing time. Combine the day of errands with my usual day off and then that frees up a whole day.

Alas, it didn’t work out like that. I tried it for three weeks and I just felt… edgy. Frustrated. And during the third week it hit me the problem was I really didn’t have a day off anymore—I had an errands day that I tried to squeeze a little hobby stuff into. But it was easy for that time to get eaten up, and I tended to end the day more annoyed than relaxed.

Like I said, this is on me for two reasons. One, I should know better than to do a radical change in the middle of a project. You don’t want to be in the groove and suddenly have to get used to a new keyboard or new software or a new work schedule. That’s just asking to ruin your flow.

The other thing is,well, I’m a big believer that everyone needs a regular day off. Everybody. I think it’s honestly healthy to stop doing that thing that dominates 70-83% of your life and just do something else for a day. Make your body work differently. make your brain work differently. Never taking a day off is like always skipping leg day. It just makes me unbalanced.

And, yeah, I know I’m speaking from a place of privilege here. I know a lot of folks simply can’t take a day off. It’s the sad truth and believe me I lived like that for many, many years. But I really hope most of you can, and hope if you can that you actually do.

(I originally wrote a lot more here but it kept turning into paragraphs about worker’s rights and pay rates and mental health and health in general and all that’s a lot more than you signed up for. TL;DR – I know I’m lucky to get to take a day off every week and I really think this should be a really basic thing everyone gets to do, not just “lucky” people)

In conclusion, once I hit send on this, I’m going to go throw on a movie, paint some little toy soldiers, perhaps have a relaxing adult beverage. Maybe two. Movies and beverages. Hopefully more than two little toy soldiers.


Let me give you a couple updates on things…

TOS is going well. I’ve got some stuff to transcribe out of legal pads but I think I’m around 85K words right now? Deep in the churn of the second act, story-wise. It’s going to be a big book. I’m actually thinking I could have this done… not by the next newsletter, but almost definitely before the May one.

Also heard back from David, my agent, about GJD and… he likes the new draft a lot. Which is always a relief to hear. He had a few last little notes. Some of them are good things he caught. A couple I’m probably going to push back on a bit and say “nah, don’t worry, this is good.” I should be able to rework those in a day or so and then he shows it to editors who also like it a lot. And then champagne falls from the heavens. Doors open. Velvet ropes part.

Shamefully, I haven’t done a damned thing on that comics pitch, which I really need to work on this week. With all the other stuff this past month, it became the easy thing to push to the side. So let’s hope I didn’t slide it so far I pushed it off the table. So to speak.

Okay, let me fill you in on some other fun stuff from the past month.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Watching– I watched Monster High:The Movie and got the music for that stuck in my head for two weeks. It was harmless fun and positive without being cloying. I admit I got distracted (in a good way) by character and set designs. The Kid Who Would Be King was something I’d heard a ton of people talk about and ended up liking it a lot. It’s great to have The Bad Batch and Resident Alien back.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading
Read my massive new Rom Omnibus, the first twenty-nine issues of the original Marvel run, plus some tie-in stuff he appeared in they couldn’t reprint until now. It’s fun to revisit, on a couple different levels. Read the third Lockwood & Co. book, The Hollow Boy, because I really enjoyed the short-lived Netflix series and wanted to see where it goes from there. I also just got an early book manuscript from one friend and an early screenplay from an acquaintance. And there are still soooooo many things piling up on the new book table in the library…

Cool New Toys – Not that much this month (*gasp*). The Super 7 Hank Scorpio figure I pre-ordered back in 2022 showed up and, in all fairness, is wonderful. Also a Bossfight cowboy skeleton (the Outlaw). I preordered and Kickstarted a bunch of things that we’ll probably be seeing near the end of the summer/early fall, if not sooner.

February 26, 2024

February Newsletter

Hope all of you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether you spent it with someone you loved or blissfully alone. Even if you spent it wearing all black and grinding your teeth at every happy couple you had to deal with.

In other news, I tried rearrange my schedule a bit last week.

Usually Friday is a day of all errands for me. Random stuff in the morning (post office, cat stuff, Target runs, etc), groceries in the evening, and I get to squeeze in a few hours of writing in between. Then Saturday is my mandated day off (the boss insists) when I try to work on little toy soldiers or models or what have you. Stuff that works the physical/color parts of the brain rather than the text/story/writing parts.

Sundays are for newsletters and blog posts, if you cared.

And then it just struck me last week that I usually only get four or five hours of “relaxing” time on Saturdays anyway, so why tie up a separate day with it? Slot it into that leftover time in the middle of Friday and then Saturday’s wide open for more writing. Just like that, I got an extra full day in my schedule.

Will it work? I’ve only done it twice so far, but I liked the results, even if it felt a little weird, habit-wise. Let’s see what happens after a month or so of it.

Anyway, let’s get into updates and news and all that stuff you’re here for.

The latest round of talks for the comic book I mentioned last time (I should come up with a clever name for it) went well. I’m writing up a whole pitch package now, which is new for me and a little scary. But also very exciting. Hoping to have that out by the end of the month and then… well, we’ll see again.

Still working on TOS and it’s going very well. I really like this early part of the process where I’m finding fun character moments and beats of dialogue and clever ways to do things on the page. Will you see all of it? Probably not. It’s first draft. Some stuff may get cut for space reasons. Other things seem clever now, but may not look as great by the time I come around for the next pass.

On the other hand, I’m heading into a scene of horrific violence, so that’s always fun…

But first, I’m going to spend this upcoming weekend organizing all my tax stuff. One of the many joys of self-employment. But at least it gives me an excuse to watch Stranger Than Fiction.

Okay, let me fill you in on some other fun stuff from the past month.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Watching– Blue Eye Samurai is frikkin’ fantastic and highly recommended. The finale for Hilda was just wonderful. The Marvels was a bunch of fun, and probably my favorite MCU thing in a while now. Speaking of which, started watching Echo and liking it a lot more than I thought I would. Finished Ted Lasso and loved it so very much.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading
Still more ARCs, despite the big pile of beautiful new books in the library. I read Jonathan Maberry’s NecroTek and it’s a ton of fun. Got to read a screenplay by Robert Brockway and a new novel from Autumn Christian. And I think as of right now while I’m writing this, I can just start reading completely for fun again. I mean, I enjoyed all this other stuff, absolutely, but it’ll be nice to just settle in with my new Romnibus.

Cool New Toys – I think an hour or two after I sent out the last newsletter the Marvel Legends Crystar I’d preordered appeared on my front step. It’s everything I’d hoped. When I finished that draft of GJD I celebrated by ordering a few things, including an MCU Green Goblin, a pair of Dreadnoks, and a trio of Indiana Jones figures (really, the only ones I wanted from the whole line). if you’re following me on Instagram, you’ll probably see most of these next week,

January 30, 2024 / 2 Comments

January Newsletter

Welcome to 2024! The future! The far future, as I always imagined it!

Not sure exactly why but I find myself randomly thinking back to a Superfriends cartoon I saw when I was very little. Mid seventies, maybe? The Superfriends met an alien visiting Earth from a planet where ha-ha-ha air pollution had destroyed their environment and caused massive climate change. So the Superfriends went and helped clean up his planet. And assured all us kids we’d never let it get that bad here on Earth. Because now we knew better!

Ha ha ha ha ha, fake laugh. Hiding real pain.

Also, random thing– should I be numbering these or something? I’m seeing some folks do that. Should this be Newsletter Episode #18– <funny title> or are you all happy just getting more casual emails? I’m still playing around with it, y’know?

Anyway, let’s get into updates and news and all that stuff you’re here for.

I finished the big rewrite on GJD and I’m very happy with it. Tightened up some things. Hammered a few other things so they fit better. Added some things. It’s a better story on a few levels. So when you hear people complain about “oh, but an agent will just make you change stuff” try to remember that sometimes that can be a good thing.

I also sent out a comic book pitch. Nothing IP related. Well, it’s my own original idea, so technically it’s my IP. But it’s not connected to anything of mine, either. Just an original superhero-ish idea. My college roommate became a comic editor and we’ve been talking for a while about doing something and I finally got off my butt and said “okay, what do you think about this…?” And he thinks it looks pretty fun sooooo we’re talking about it some more and we’ll see what there is to say about this in next month’s newsletter…

At the moment, I’m back working on TOS. Which really meant I’ve spent the past two days rereading what I’d already written to get back in the voice and flow of it and really today’s going to be the first day back out on the deck with a legal pad. Yeah, I’m writing a lot of this draft on a legal pad. Don’t know why. It just sort of worked out that way.

Wow, that’s a lot of stuff summed up pretty quick. What else could I tell you about…?

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Watching– We decided to try out Apple+ and have quickly converted to the church of Ted Lasso. Still making my way through Blue-Eyed Samurai, still loving it. Really enjoyed High Society. I’ve watched about half of What If… and it’s pretty entertaining so far. Think I might like it a little more than season one.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading
Lots of ARC’s for stuff that doesn’t come out until later this year. Started the year by finishing Django Wexler’s How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying which was freakin’ fantastic. Then I read Jennifer Brozek’s new Shadowrun novel, Auditions, which is very fun. I’m currently about halfway through Craig diLouie’s How To Make a Horror Movie and Survive which is just beautifully gory and creepy. Got a new one from Jonathan Maberry on deck after that.

Cool New Toys – Christmas was good to me. My lovely lady gave me the ‘Final Swing” Spider-man figure and also a ReAction Gigan to fight Godzilla. My parents sent me an Elita-1 Transformer and also a LEGO set of the Mandalorian’s N-1 starfighter. And my friends Marcus and Gillian got me the What If… Hydra Stomper (the WWII version), which is a massive hunk of action figure.

January 5, 2024 / 1 Comment

Let’s Start Again

Welcome to the far-flung future of… 2024!

Anyway, I often start off the year with a little post about why I do this. How the ranty blog got started. What I tend to blather on about. Sort of like that first lecture in most college classes—here’s what we’re doing for the next six months.

But let’s flip it around

Why are you here? What are you reading this for? What do you hope to get out of this?

Are you just here because you like my books and you’re looking for fun facts or advance news about upcoming projects? Nothing wrong with that. You can get a lot of that out of the more-or-less-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to get it delivered right to your inbox or just wait for it to show up here on the ranty blog at the end of the month

Are you curious about my process? Maybe you want to know how I came up with that character or some insight into why I set things up like this. Also a valid reason to be reading. It does come up here now and then, usually as an example. Hell, there’s a few dozen posts here that reference my first finished novel– The Suffering Map – and what a cautionary tale it turned out to be.

Are you thinking about writing something yourself? Maybe you’re already in the process of writing something? Heck, maybe you’ve completed something? Good on you. Whichever, maybe you’ve ended up here looking for the next step. Could be one of the very first steps. Could be one of the last ones. Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle and you need a helping hand or a little nudge or a firm kick in the butt.

Honestly, you’re the folks this is mostly for. I blather on about a few different things here, but mostly I’m just trying to make the kind of resource I wish I’d had access to back in the day. One place where I could just type in, f’r example, “structure” and find a bunch of explanations and examples. And maybe not have someone basically say “wow, you’re doing everything wrong” the whole time.

Or maybe… you’re here looking for the secret word? The word that makes writing a novel easy? The word that gets you an agent and a publishing contract and your first hardcover? That word is mellonballer!! Seriously! Drop it into an opening paragraph, a cover letter, a casual DM with an editor and behold! Champagne will fall from the heavens. Doors will open. Velvet ropes will part.

No, of course they won’t. I think (I hope?) all of us here know there’s no secret word that makes some part of this easier. No magic phrase. No trick. A very large percentage of getting to do this as a career (if that’s what you want) is just doing the work. Not finding a clever way to get around doing the work.

So if that’s what you’re here for… sorry.

Anyway… I guess that tells you a little bit about what I’m doing here after all. Drop a comment down below, say hi, and let me know why you’re here.

And since we’re talking about the start of the year, next time I’d like to talk to you about your resolutions.

Until then, go write.