Austin Comic Con

This weekend I tabled at Wizard World’s Austin Comic Con with my friends Max Booth III and John Wayne Comunale. Between meeting readers, we talked all the joys and frustrations of this writing life. We also debated Midsommar and the new Creepshow series, caught up on small-press gossip, and talked shop in general.

We met a ton of new people, some of them aspiring writers themselves and others just excited about books. I thought about giving shout outs, in case some of these wonderful folks drop by my blog but I’m bound to forget someone and don’t want anyone to feel left out.

It’s been a tumultuous eighteen months for me. Talking to my buddies reminded me I’m not the only one who’s struggled. Due to lots of ongoings in our scene and my own mental health issues, I’ve reevaluated who my friends are and who I intend to keep as mere acquaintances. When I first got into this writing scene, I wanted to be everybody’s close friend. As I’ve continued doing my thing, I’ve been reminded of how unrealistic such a goal is.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to decide whose flaws are worth tolerating and whose aren’t.

But the ones who you really gel with and don’t prove themselves toxic are goddamn priceless. I never expected to get rich doing this writing stuff but I did expect to make some of the best friends I’ve ever had. That expectation has been exceeded over and over.

I’m happy to see John Wayne doing well for himself. He’s one of the hardest working writers I know and it’s nice to see it pay off. The two secrets to his success, I think, are his positivity and his nearly militaristic organizational skills. I work hard and I’m positive. Organized? Not so much. That’s something I intend to work on once National Novel Writing Month is in the rearview.

Speaking of. That’s going well. I’ve got 21,000 words on a new manuscript and had a major breakthrough that allows me to combine two narratives I really enjoy into one book. I won’t say much except it’s a coming of age cosmic horror novel. I think there’s a lot to explore by marrying those subgenres. Lots of cool opportunities to play with opposing themes.

I grabbed and already read the first issues of Chaotic Flux, Kinetic, and Lady Frankenstein and the Mummy’s Brain, plus an old issue of Marvel’s Chamber of Chills and the first trade of a series called Cover of Darkness. I don’t read comics often but when I do, I tend to enjoy them. Indie stuff seems to be where it’s at these days, as in literature as well.

I’ve been able to write the books I want to write thanks to the small press. I hope eventually I’ll get to do this for a living but that’s still a ways off. And honestly, things are pretty good. The reviews for Saint Sadist reflect exactly what I wanted the book to do. I’ve got a decently paying screenplay gig in the works. I’ve got two releases slated for next year.

Also, this anthology just went up for preorder: The Big Book of Blasphemy, edited by David G. Barnet and Regina Garza-Mitchell, it features stories by Brian Keene, Ryan Harding, Wrath James White, Monica O’Rourke, myself, and many, many more. My story, “Sister Scar,” is basically a Hemingway-esque WWI story but nunsploitation. You preorder The Big Book of Blasphemy right here.

Last but not least, Blood and Brimstone, the sequel to Flesh and Fire has come to an end. It’s serialized on my Patreon the last few months. You can read it in its entirety here.

That’s it for now, gang. Take some time this week to appreciate the people in your life. You’ll be glad you did.

Extinction Peak-A Novel of Dinosaur Horror

I’m about to make what will likely be one of my final passes on Extinction Peak, my dinosaur horror novel. Some of my work comes from my subconscious and flows rather easily. This book was not one of them. I wrote the first draft almost five years ago. The version that exists today has only the title in common with that old draft.

Weirdly, this book will likely be more fun to read than some of my other titles. It relies heavily on world-building and action, not symbology and style. That’s not to say it lacks depth. If you’re looking for it, my thesis will present itself. That’s all I’ll say about that for now.

Jeff Burk made it official the Monday after Killer Con, so I’ll announce it here: Extinction Peak is set for publication in 2020 by his new press Section 31 Productions.

The Hustle Never Sleeps

First week of school is in the books. As expected, I’m already tightly wound with stress and constantly on edge, but hey, at least there haven’t been any nightmares. It’s important to me that I do well in school, especially given that it’s my last semester as an undergrad. On top of that, I want to be a good father and husband. And I want to keep writing. I’m managing, so far, but Christ, I’m tense.

In my American Romanticism class, we started covering Self-Reliance, which I think I’ve read before, but I think it’s important to revisit texts as one matures, especially pieces like Emerson’s, which are considered crucial. A cool thing I picked up on this time around that I didn’t remember learning before: Romantics (particularly the transcendentalists) believed that we shared one soul. While many ideas espoused by Emerson are prevalent in American society, such a concept as the Over-soul, seems a lot more Eastern or New Age.

Another highlight of my week back at college was my exposure to the different schools of literary criticism. It was cool defining all these different perspectives, and really reinforced for me the idea that so much, if not everything, is subjective. Maybe that’s just my confirmation bias, but I don’t know. Getting an overview of everything from New Criticism to Feminist Criticism to Biographical and Psychological Criticism, among others, got me thinking about how silly I find it whenever someone gets red-in-the-face when arguing their viewpoint, potentially alienating loved ones. To quote Patton Oswalt, “It’s all chaos; be kind.”

Lastly (on the school front, anyway) I have to share this video that I watched in my Lifespan class, only because it’s super cute and kind of funny.

Last night, my partner and I went to see Iliza the Paramount in downtown Austin. I’ve watched all of her specials, but that set last night was the best I’ve seen from her. She made a wrestling joke AND a Ray Bradbury reference all within the span of ten minutes. Only a mind like hers would think to do such a thing. It made me happy.

In less happy news, the kiddo is sick and gave us quite a scare driving home after the show. Everything is fine, but things looked bad for a bit.

Anyway, not much else to report. I’ve got to get back to work on Extinction Peak, my dinosaur apocalypse novel. I think blogs will be a bit more sporadic. Twice a week. Maybe three times. Parenting, school, and writing will keep me busy.

If you like these blogs and want to support me, the best way to do this is by buying a book. I also have a Patreon where you can have access to exclusive content. Every bit helps.

Back in the Fight

It’s Monday morning.

Tomorrow, my new novel, We Are the Accused, comes out.

Last night I got exciting news about my novel, Saint Sadist. I will share further details once the contract is signed. It will be my sixth published book.

In a week and one day, I start my final semester of college.

I couldn’t sleep much last night, but it wasn’t from nightmares or distress. I’m frankly just excited about a lot of things. Things are happening with this writing stuff, and not just works being published. Ideas I’ve had for YEARS are coming together, forging new, full-length projects. My brain is making connections that now seem so obvious, but eluded me for so long.

You’ve got to celebrate the victories. They are rare, wonderful things. For instance, this is my tenth post since starting this blog last month. It’s cool that I’m staying, more or less, pretty consistent. Granted, my posts aren’t particularly long, but really, anytime someone else’s post runs over a thousand words, I almost always find myself skimming, so perhaps brevity is best. I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

I’ve really missed blogging. I think it’s the best way to kickstart a day of writing.

So begins the third week of new year. Last week was difficult, but I’m forging ahead. 2019, you look tough, but I’m tough, too, and I’ve been reading Robert E. Howard’s boxing stories. You want a fight? You’ve got it.