Galaxies Within Us

I spent this morning catching up on newsletters from authors I follow. If you’re not sure I’m subscribed to yours, feel free to drop a link in the comments. I promise to at least check it out. Developed, long-form thoughts are so much more appealing to me than bite-sized hot takes. While I’ve felt increasingly alienated from the scene to which I’ve belonged for ten years now, there are some folks who I know are intelligent, interesting and kind. I’d like to keep up with them.

My newsletter is more or less dead in the water. Maybe fixing that’s a 2022 resolution. I’ve made enough for 2021. Sure, we’re scared still and 2020’s aftershocks are still being felt, but as I stated yesterday, I’m onto the next one. All about leveling up. Bearing my torch through all darkness and lighting little fires along the way.

This past week, I did a few things that were outside my comfort zone and (in some cases) outside my normal realm of interests. I started learning how to code at Free Code Camp. New skills are important, especially in the gig economy we’re increasingly moving toward. Sure, it doesn’t have anything to do with writing and that’s okay, or maybe it does and I don’t see it yet. Still, I’m growing. Leveling up. Evolving.

I also started studying & investing in the stock market. Dry stuff, from my outsider perspective, BUT I will say there is a feeling I get watching my money grow. A feeling I used to get from likes on social media, but so much more beneficial, in my opinion. Something that means having the means to take care of my own.

I also recorded a vidcast (is that a word? a video podcast) with Kelby Losack and J David Osborne. While chatting with those two is not outside my comfort zone at all (in fact, I feel like I can be my genuine self around them), recording that conversation and putting it up for the world to see is another matter entirely. I pride myself on being real as fuck, but I’ve always been hesitant to do ALL my thinking in public because I worry about sounding crazy or insensitive half the time. The show will go up on Tuesday morning. It’s called White Trash Occultism. Links will follow once it’s posted.

Progress on ONE AND ONLY is moving along nicely. Chapter 3 will be up here tomorrow morning. You can read Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here. I kind of know where it’s all going, at least the part of it that I’m calling ONE AND ONLY. See, I didn’t show my hand before, but it’s 5 am on a Sunday and I’m feeling froggy. I’m working on three novellas that will actually be one novel. ONE AND ONLY will probably conclude around Valentine’s Day. It’s sequel will commence the following week and wrap up around June. The third part will wrap around Halloween. This is intended as a year long, public project. A chance to work out loud, offer early access, and think on a larger scale. Once it concludes, I’ll edit and collect them into a physical edition you can purchase.

I used to think of writing as THE thing I do. It’s time to think of it as A thing I do. We’re complicated, and I think limiting ourselves to one vocation can be mentally and economically harmful. I am Lucas Mangum. I am not one thing. YOU are not one thing. Whole galaxies swirl within us.

Good morning.

Night in the Lonesome October

I’ve been reflective lately.

Yeah, you say, what else is new?

Hear me out.

Ten months ago, I grudgingly returned to social media. I’m not proud. I definitely did it to sell books, but something else happened. I made some new friends. That was pretty cool. And yeah, I did sell some books, which was also pretty cool.

But I still saw a lot of the ugly things that drove me away in the first place. Hypocrisy, petty arguments, dismissive comments, and manufactured outrage.

Then I got tired, frustrated and depressed.

Back in June, I restarted The Mangum Show podcast. Recorded a ton of content. Paid for a logo. The works.

Unfortunately, I ran into some technology roadblocks. Skype recordings are inconsistent in terms of quality. I can’t seem to figure out editing in Audacity. Then my MP3 converter just decided to stop working.

I got tired, frustrated and depressed.

Marketing yourself, man. I’ve done a lot of it this year. Even paid for some ads, which produced mixed results.

Through these last ten months, I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned videos get the most attention on this site. As a result, you should expect more videos.

I’ve learned social media is STILL toxic for me. I won’t be deleting my accounts again, but I do plan on cutting back my time on there significantly.

I’m working full-time again, so time is more precious than ever. I want to spend it on things that are worthwhile.

Videos that bring more visitors to this site. Patreon-exclusive content. The Mangum Show will continue, too, albeit in a different format. Plus, writing, writing and more writing.

This is probably not a particularly organized blog entry, so much as it’s me thinking aloud. If you’re still here, thanks for indulging me.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: this October, I’m reading lots of Richard Laymon and Bryan Smith instead of watching the same movies over and over again.

Preorder My Romance All I Need

If you follow me on Twitter or IG, or if you know me personally, you may have heard that last fall I wrote a romance. I talked a little bit about that on an episode of The JDO Show, but I believe that episode is exclusive to his patrons, soooo, I figured I’d talk about it a little here.

With the exception of a phase during my teenage years where I exclusively wrote science fiction and action-adventure, I’ve been writing horror my entire life. It started when I was six-years-old with a handwritten, illustrated chapbook called The Skeleton that I photocopied and sold to my neighbors.

I had a well-documented psychotic break around this time last year. What I haven’t talked much about is that this break was the culmination of a whole lot of other things. Call it a sophomore slump or call it imposter syndrome, and you’d probably be onto something, but around 2014 (a few months after selling Flesh and Fire), I could feel my love of what I was doing, along with my love of myself fizzling. But I kept trucking forward. Kept writing. And, most notably, kept quiet. I published Mania and the first edition of Engines of Ruin. I finished Gods of the Dark Web and We Are the Accused. I did all of this, even though I thought I was a complete fraud.

After my son was born though, the mental exhaustion of dealing with a newborn proved too much. I stopped finishing things. Even when Gods of the Dark Web came out, I had a difficult time getting the fire back. Part of that was I tried to recapture the tone and style of that book, which I’d finished two years prior. Another part was that I was always tired and probably on the wrong medicine.

Eventually, I stopped writing altogether. You want to know whether or not writing is for you? Try not doing it for a while. After six months of a self-imposed hiatus, as well as getting hit with the news that because of my son’s allergies we had to get rid of all our cats, I just couldn’t take it anymore. This resulted in a long weekend stay at Austin Lakes Hospital.

While there, I learned some interesting things. For example: mental patients have a strangely acute sense of respect for others’ personal space. Most “well-adjusted” folk are always up in my shit. I also learned that writing is damn important to me. When not going to group, eating or sleeping, I was at it with a pencil and notebook, mostly just trying to create a perfect scene.

When I got out, I hungered to start a new project. After a long chat with accomplished romance writer Tracy Wolff, I thought a good way back into the process would be to try something completely different.

Enter All I Need, a romance in which two masked strangers who have a one night stand discover they’re long lost high school sweethearts, torn apart thirteen years prior by Hurricane Katrina.

I stuttered my way through the first bit. Not only had I not written in a while, but this was a whole new genre for me. Then Killer Con happened, and I remembered, goddamn, of COURSE I still love horror, and hammered out a few short stories that found their way into the reissue of Engines of Ruin. But since I hate leaving good ideas unfinished, I returned to All I Need and typed the words “The End” on the document in November.

Multiple revisions later, All I Need, the first of 4 romance novellas set in New Orleans, is up for preorder on Amazon. If you’re curious to see the piece that got me writing again, check it out.

If you’re only here for the horror, that’s cool, too. Finishing All I Need got me to Saint Sadist, and I’ve got many more tales of terror in the works.

Preorder on Amazon