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.

July 31, 2023

July Newsletter

We’re halfway through the year. That’s just amazing to me. Then again, the past decade has pretty much destroyed my internal clock and I have no sense of time anymore, so…

What can I tell you about?

I finished that last short story. Finally. I know I’ve told you about a few I’ve done lately, but the truth is I’m not great when it comes to short stories, especially for anthologies. I can come up with lots of great short story ideas, yeah, but a lot of the time I tend to freeze up. Especially when they’re very specific. “We’re doing an anthology about cyborg vampire motorcycle gangs—you in?”

In this case the specific aspect of the anthology came from, well, history. It’s a Carter & Kraft story, which have all been set during World War II, but this is the first time I’ve tied one to a very specific historical event. And that meant flexing and stretching and doing my best to make the story work within that framework. Fortunately the editor read the first draft, made some suggestions, and also assured me we didn’t need to be super-rigid with regards to history. So it got done, we’re both happy, and I can’t wait for you to read it. To read all of them, really.

And all of this means I’m back working on TOS, which I’ve mentioned here once or thrice. I’m thinking this could be really solid by the end of the month. At least a big chunk of it done. Which would be very cool.

In other news…

As I’m writing this, we’re mere days away from San Diego Comic-Con, and this is the first time in well over a decade I’m not going. And I live here in San Diego! I was thinking about it a few months back, and the sad truth is I haven’t had a release in over a year at this point (yeah, I know! Imagine how I feel about it). So if I went, I’d have nothing new to show anyone, just be taking space away from someone else, and—truth be told—probably not doing a lot with that space. Plus, to be totally honest… I wasn’t really thrilled about the safety protocols during last year’s SDCC (or at least, the lack of enforcement), and now that they’re just throwing the doors open, well…

(although on Friday the 21st I’ll be doing my own mini-panel on Instagram– all day Ask Me Anything. Old projects, new projects, film work, toys, cats, whatever)

Then again, with the film industry strikes (go union, burn this friggin’ system to the ground), this might be the best con in years for writers and artists. Who knows? All I know is next year I’ll be pushing to have a much bigger con presence wherever people want me.

And one more thing. I’m thinking of migrating this newsletter over to a different service. I’m really not liking the Substack business model, as I’ve mentioned once or thrice before, and after a few months of trying to balance things I’ve just come to the conclusion… they just don’t balance. Not for me, anyway.

That said, we’re all trying to be a little safer with personal information, so I just wanted to get a general vibe if most of you would be okay with me just shifting your email address over to another system (and then shutting this down). Generally yes? Absolutely not? How did I get on this mailing list?


Cool Stuff I’ve Been Watching— Still enjoying Strange New Worlds (as I type this, we’re less than two weeks from the Lower Decks crossover episode). Skull Island was surprisingly fun—I was expecting something much more kid-oriented.

Cool Stuff I’ve Been Reading— I got to read the new one from Kristi Charish (which you’ll all probably get to read next year). About to dive into The Endless Vessel by Charles Soule and then another book to blurb.

Cool New Toys – I got the Spinnerette figure that was part of a Spider-Man two-pack. It’s basically “what if Mary Jane also had spider powers,” and I think we even glimpse her in the Spider-Verse. Through eBay I stumbled across a toy/ game/ comic shop (KC’s Rockets) which is ridiculously close to me and has been here for years. So I picked up the Red Guardian (from Black Widow), a classic Ravager Star-Lord, and Toybox versions of Cap and Spidey.