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.

Thirsty Thursday

At school. It’s drizzling outside. I started revising my romance novel, and I’m eager to get back to it this afternoon.

The first 5-7k words are so rough, I cut them, and wouldn’t you know it? The story is already stronger. Of course, now it’s a novella (I hate that word; I think I’ll follow Carlton Mellick III’s cue and say “short novel”). I’m weirdly okay with it.

20-30k words is plenty to tell a story. Start in medias res. Cross the point of no return. Reverse the goal at the midpoint. Reach rock bottom. Ascend to a satisfying conclusion.

I haven’t the attention span for subplots, and I will hereby stop trying, unless I really hatch some good ones, or get offered money to write a book of a certain length.

My model of storytelling comes from Star Trek (TOS) and The Twilight Zone. I’m serious. If you want to write a lean, mean story, analyze the fuck out of each of those show’s episodes.

Now, that said, if I want to make a living at this, that means I have to up my productivity. When Saint Sadist comes out on March 16, it will be my third this year. Not bad.

I want to do more, and I can do more. It may be tough to get more than one or two more releases out there this year, but we’ll see. I’ve been reading How to Write Pulp Fiction by James Scott Bell and getting a lot of inspiration.¬† I like this new productive me, and I aim to keep at it.

Look for my romance book to drop in May. I’ll be using the pseudonym Jamie St. John, but that’ll be our secret.