Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Reality

Here's a sobering, but enlightening article on the realities of publishing and why you shouldn't quit your day job...

The average advance for a midlist novel, regardless of genre, in 2004 was between $2,000 and $5,000 dollars. That's your paycheck. The year you spent working on that novel? The blood, sweat and tears you poured into it? The time you spent away from family and friends? It's worth somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000.

You made more than that working in the call center, didn't you?

And I bet the call center gave you health insurance.

Conan's Revenge


I know I'm horrible at updating on my scattered writing projects. In an effort to do better, here's a link to my latest Conan article for PopThought.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Interview and Review: Rick Remender and OWLY


Couple of new things I wrote up at CWN. I interviewed Rick Remender and reviewed Andy Runton's Owly: Just a Little Blue.

Cownt Thoughts

I was walking around with an artist friend at a convention a couple of years ago and he was looking for old Jack Kirby comics. He was trying to figure out what Kirby did that made his pages so exciting. A lot of artists, inspired by Kirby, would be content with trying to imitate his poses or his layouts, but my friend was digging a lot deeper than that. I admire his dedication to improving his art and allowing Kirby (or whomever) to be a bona fide inspiration instead of someone he just steals from.

In thinking about how to appoach The Cownt, I've taken the old Harvey comics I read as a kid for my inspiration. I had a vague recollection of the format they used, but I wanted to refresh my memory, so I stopped by the Source yesterday and picked up some cheap Casper issues as well as the recent Ultimate Casper Comics Collection trade paperback. I started reading them last night, trying to take the same approach that my friend took to Kirby and hoping to learn some of the techniques these guys used to make Casper so timeless. I was surprised to see how much I hadn't remembered about the series and pleased to find that former Casper editor Sid Jacobson wrote an intro to the Ultimate collection that talks about their approach to the series. I've gotten some solid notions already about how to approach The Cownt and make it really accessible for kids, yet fun for adults as well. Some of it confirms idea I already have (like giving the Cownt a nice-sized cast of supporting characters to interact with), some of it reinforces things I'd thought about, but hadn't decided to make into Rules yet (like not having any narration boxes), and some of it was just plain new (like having one main story per issue, but dividing it into easily digestible chapters, and having characters speak their thoughts aloud instead of using thought balloons).

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crisis!

The signing was great. Hanging out with Grant always makes my day and I sold enough books to turn around and buy a bunch of stuff at 75% off from the Source. After the signing though, I kinda had this crisis of direction. Am I working hard enough on writing? Should I be spending so much time online? Should I be writing different kinds of stories than what I'm writing? Should I be writing more short fiction?

These questions came about as the result of conversations I had at the signing or observations I made while I was there. Being around artists (like Grant) always makes me want to work harder. I'm used to that, so that's not really part of the crisis. Wondering about spending too much time online is an offshoot of that. The answers to those two questions are a) yes, I should always work harder and b) any progress I've made so far in my writing career is a direct result of meeting editors and other creators online. I can't afford not to be online. I can do better about using the Internet to just goof off, but retreating into a writing shell isn't an option.

The questions that I'm still working through have to do with the kind of stuff I'm writing. I've probably talked about this before (I know I've complained to Grant and Jess about it enough), but I'm tired of going to conventions and store signings where there are lots of kids and having a table full of stuff that they really shouldn't be looking at. And it's only going to be worse when 3 Days the Devil Danced comes out. It's going to be a beautiful book and I'm proud of it, but it'll be one more thing on my convention table that I'll have to steer kids away from.

Not that I only want to write stuff for kids. That would get old fast. I just feel the need to have something to offer them when I'm at an appearance. The Cownt book will serve that need, so I have to get working on that sooner than I planned. The Pirate Novel's not going to be finished by the end of the month anyway.

Speaking of which, I'm also starting to be concerned with being put into a niche like "horror writer" or "historical writer." It seems too early to be concerned about that, but on the other hand, now might be exactly when I should be concerned, as opposed to later when I'm published and it's too late to do anything about it. I'm aware that all my published work so far is in the horror genre, but it's not like I have a public presence already. It's not too late to change gears and do some other stuff. The Pirate Novel, assuming it's published, would be a departure from that, but if it's successful, would it label me as a "pirate writer" and affect my success at writing other things?

Where I'm going with this is that I'm going to put the Pirate Novel on the shelf for a while and concentrate on other things. I've got three comics projects for which I already have artists waiting for scripts. One of them is the first issue of The Cownt (horror in the same way that Casper the Friendly Ghost is, only also funny for adults -- I hope), another is related to the 3 Days the Devil Danced project, but I'm conceiving it as more of a story about faith than a straightforward horror tale, and the third has monsters, but is really more campy sci-fi.
Once I get those done and off my plate, I think that I won't pick up new comics projects, but will go back to novel-writing. It probably won't be the Pirate Novel right away though. I've got an idea working around in my head featuring the character Miko Masaaki from "The Evil Dr. Lanky" in Tales from the Inner Sanctum #2.

Thanks to my buying Kong: King of Skull Island at the Source on Friday, I'm itching to do something in a jungle setting with wild animals, dinosaurs, and people in loin-clothes. I got to chatting with a fan at the signing about short fiction and that might be the venue for this. He was telling me about some of the sister publications to Weird Tales, one of which publishes adventure stories, so I need to check that out.

Lots to think about.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Went to the Source last night and one of the guys gave me his copy of a documentary on FallCon 2004. Among many other people like Adam Hughes, José-Luis Garcia-Lopez, Phil Hester, and Dan Jurgens, it's got clips of Grant Gould and I talking about what we were doing there. David and I watched it together and he was pretty pleased to see his old man on TV.

We watched some of the parade on TV this morning while getting some cooking and baking done. Now the house smells great with cooking turkey, I've got pumpkin pies cooling and cranberry salad chilling, and Diane and David are down for naps, which gives me a chance to update this before our guests start to arrive. Matt and Alex are bringing one of Matt's co-workers along who would've been otherwise alone for the holiday, so we'll have a nice-sized group around the table tonight.

Tomorrow: Grant and I signing for seven hours at the Source (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), so if you live in the Twin Cities, stop by while you're doing your shopping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Karloff Day!

The Man They Could Not Hang would've been 118 today. Think I'll watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas in his honor.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ready for Turkey

We're getting ready for Thanksgiving at our house. My brother Matt and his son Alex are coming over for dinner Thursday and some other friends might stop in for some games.

I finally bought A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving yesterday. I've been meaning to do that for the last several years and have never got around to it before the holiday was over. I kept telling myself, "Next year, for sure." David enjoyed It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown so much this year that it reminded me that I had to get the Thanksgiving one. We watched it last night and he loved it, especially talking about the turkey and pumpkin pie that Snoopy and Woodstock make for themselves at the end.

Got my Christmas cards mostly done. There are a couple of addresses I need to find for people who moved since last year, but everyone else's is going out today. It seems early, but if I don't do them now, they turn into Happy New Year cards.

Bought calendars the other day (as well as some music I'll tell you about later). Got this one for Diane:

And this one for me:

Monday, November 21, 2005

Quote du Jour: The Importance of Pretty Pictures

Via The Comics Reporter:

"You've got to give kids really beautiful children's books in order to turn them into revolutionaries. Because if they see these beautiful things when they're young, when they grow up, they'll see the real world and say, 'Why is the world so ugly?! I remember when the world was beautiful.' And then they'll fight, and they'll have a revolution. They'll fight against all of our corruption in the world, they'll fight to try to make the world more beautiful. That's the job of a good children's-book illustrator." -- Tony Millionaire

I Bet I Think This Song Is About Me

I swear I don't do this a lot, but I was bored on Friday and Googled myself. *snicker* There were a lot of links to reviews and whatnot that weren't surprising, but I found myself in some surprising places too and thought I'd share.


Thanks to an interview I did with editor Bon Alimagno, I'm mentioned on the front page of Vampirella.com right now.


My goofy report of this year's MicroCon somehow made it to Comic Book Conventions.com.


I learned that Comic World News is fed into a site called ComicPro.com and is at the top of their page.


A blog about Canadian comics (especially ones from Montreal) mentioned a review I did of a Canadian vampire comic.


This one's not really about me, but apparently there's a cartoonist out there with my name. The mischievous part of me wonders if he'd like to work on something together.



I always love it when I "get" in a review what a creator's trying to accomplish, so this quote from Barb Lien-Cooper was very cool to read: "I think this may be my favorite quote about Gun Street Girl, more than the words like 'brilliant' and the comparisons to Gaiman or Willingham or Bendis: 'The beauty of the series is that it concentrates on great characters so that it’s able to explore all kinds of stories about them without fear of our losing interest. And we don’t. They become our friends.' –Michael May, Comic World News." Yeah, I realize how sad it is that I'm quoting someone who's quoting me, but it does make me happy.


Finally, "Completely Cold" is mentioned in the Comic Book Series Wiki entry for IDW's Angel. They don't make a judgment of its quality, but its nice to know that somebody noticed.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm a Dolt: The Last "Completely Cold" Update


"Completely Cold" wasn't in Jon Sable: Freelance -- Bloodtrail #3. It was #5 after all. I just wrote down the wrong number initially. Not that I expect there's anyone who was going to try to hunt down a particular issue of Jon Sable for my story, but I hate having put bad information out there without correcting it.

Found an issue of Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty #0 yesterday and there's no short story in it at all. It's more of a sourcebook about the Metal Gear Solid characters and whatnot, so I guess it doesn't count as a September IDW comic.

That means that all the issues with "Completely Cold" are now out, so I'll shut up about it. More whining about the Pirate Novel (whatever I'm calling it this week) to follow...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

In-Store Signing: The Source's Thanksgiving Bash 2005


A couple of weeks ago I was at the Source Comics and Games (the magical place where I buy all my comics) and Nick (one of the owners and, in my mind, the roue for the Minnesota comics community gumbo) told me that my buddy Grant Gould was going to be doing a signing Thanksgiving weekend. The conversation turned surreal when he asked if I wanted to sign too.

It's part of the store's Thanksgiving Bash, the store's big celebration of the Biggest Shopping Days of the Year. There'll be tons of creators there signing over the course of the weekend. Of course I said "yes," but I can't imagine how this is going to go. I always get folks at the cons stopping by my table, 'cause I have an interesting-looking table with some pretty art and a vampire cow, but I don't sell a lot of books. Anthologies are tough sells and horror anthologies are an even smaller niche. I do have that story in the back of several IDW books, so maybe people will buy those. Or maybe I'll just sit and watch Grant draw.

However it turns out, it's going to be a blast and I can't wait for it. Grant and I will be there on Friday, November 25th, from 10:00 a.m. to at least 2:00 p.m. We'll stay longer if they'll let us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Completely Cold" Update

According to Diamond, Jon Sable, Freelance: Bloodtrail #5 comes out tomorrow. "Completely Cold" was supposed to be in the back of #3, so I missed it and have to track it down. Got kind of lax in keeping up with what was coming out and what I wanted over the last couple of weeks. Not sure if Metal Gear: Sons of Liberty #0 is out yet or not, but that one and Jon Sable or the only two "Completely Cold" comics left that I haven't seen and held in my hands.

Monday, November 14, 2005

If I Were a Wise Man

I don't wanna talk about the novel. I've fallen off the wagon and gotten out of the habit of working on it every day. I've eaten up the cushion I had in the month, but if I can do a chapter a day from here out, I can still finish in November. My confidence is shaken, but I can do it. Just need to frickin' prioritize.

Comic World News is taking more time than I should be letting it. I was getting embarrassed by my pitiful review output, so I ramped that up this week and it hurt me. If I was smart, I'd quit CWN and I'd beg off my commitments to PopThought and The Great Curve. But I really like doing that stuff (and I have an emotional investment in CWN that I can't shake) and it's helped me get into the habit of writing every day and it's helped me find my voice, even if it's not producing what I ultimately want to produce.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pushing Through

Well, I don't have an excuse for last night. Still wrote nothing on the novel. Not sure what the problem was. It's an exciting, action-packed scene that I need to write; maybe I'm not as confident about that as I should be. I'm a good dialogue guy, but writing exciting action prose is a muscle I don't stretch a lot.

Gotta remember that I'm making mud here and not get caught up in making it perfect yet. Just need to get it on paper; I can make it thrilling later.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Novel Update

Didn't write my chapter yesterday, but I did work on the book. I've been deviating from the outline enough that I needed to spend some time tweaking it to fit what I've written. I eliminated an entire chapter that way, which makes up for the chapter I added earlier on. Trying to pace this thing right so that I don't skip over interesting stuff just to drag through some fluff later on.

Happy Belated Bram Stoker Day


Meant to post this yesterday, but forgot. Yesterday was Bram Stoker's 158th birthday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Procrastinators Anonymous

I got my chapter written yesterday, but tonight will be another challenge. I feel like I'm in a 12-step program. One day at a time. Just get today's chapter done and worry about tomorrow when it's here.

Because I comped out some overtime and got off work early yesterday, I was also able to get a new review up at CWN and another Conan column at PopThought. Good writing day.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Lessons Learned

First of all, I could do this. Given a day without a day job and with priorities in place, I can write a chapter a day easy and still have time for errands and lunches with friends and other things. A chapter a day equals roughly a novel a month. A rough draft of a novel anyway. Figure another month (maybe, I haven't tried this out yet) for re-writing and maybe a month up front to plan and outline, that's three months for a complete novel. Stay on that schedule and that's four novels a year. A guy could make a living off that, assuming they were publishable. I certainly have enough ideas to stay on that kind of schedule.

I also learned that the idea of one, special Writing Place probably won't work for me. It was incredibly helpful to get out of the house and go somewhere to write, but I'd start to go stir crazy about two-thirds of the way in to every chapter. I'd need to change something, even if it was just moving to another seat in the same coffee shop or going for a drive to clear my head and then coming back to finish.

Out of the three coffee shops I tried, Barnes & Noble was the most comfortable and conducive to getting things done. My laptop has plenty of battery power to allow me to get a chapter done before taking it home to recharge.

So, yeah. I can do this. I didn't get a chapter done yesterday and that bothers me, but it's not a disaster. There's plenty of time left in the month to finish the draft as long as I keep at it every day. Today will be a big test because I'm back at work and on a tighter daily schedule. We'll see.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Oops.

Sorry about not updating for a couple of days. I'm kicking butt on the novel and learning a lot from the experience of having this week off to work on it, but it's also throwing my routine off (not necessarily a bad thing if it makes me reprioritize, which it has) and that's why I've been quiet here.

If not before, I'll post some lessons learned on Monday.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

NaNoWriMo Profile

Got my Author's Profile completely updated now for National Novel Writing Month. There's even an excerpt from Chapter Two.

I hesitated about the excerpt. This is just the rough draft that I'm trying to complete by the end of the month and I'm not sure I should be sharing from it at this stage. But I'm reasonably happy with the bit I chose, so maybe it won't change much in the final draft. And anyway, it does a good job of explaining the title, which I've changed back to The Blades of Bragadini after a brief stint as Le Corsaire. The book's much more about the blades than the corsaire who doesn't even appear until two-thirds of the way through. (Actually, it's about neither, but Pride and Honor was way too high-falutin'.)

Writing Place/Novel Update

Went to the hippie coffee bar today. They've rearranged the furniture and the only table near an outlet now is a huge round one that I'd feel conspicuous using by my lonesome. So I sat in a booth and used battery power. That was okay though because my real time limit was the two hours I had change for on the meter where I parked. That's the biggest drawback to this place: no free parking. Gonna keep looking.

I got most of my chapter for the day done though and finished it up a couple of minutes ago here at home. Nineteen chapters to go.

There's another coffee shop not too far away (one with a nice bakery in it) that I'm going to try tomorrow. Diane and David will be home and I'll definitely need to get out of the house to work.

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