Author Archive

Single Shot Solutions

 
– It has been a busy summer thus far. Not in the racing around, vacationing kind of way but a slow, steady drumbeat of self-imposed deadlines and projects that I've been hopping back and forth. It's a good thing, for sure, as I've gotten the first MYTHPOCALYPSE story "Bulls on Parade, Men on the Run," lettered and available as an ashcan for sale at the shows I've been going to this summer (Wizard World Columbus, Hypericon in Nashville, and Wizard World Chicago this next week). The next two stories, "Ghost Riders on the 405" and "Under the C-Line" are out to artists and I hope to have done in the fall. Even better, the most recent Winston & Churchill story "A Bodyguard of Lies" was completed and the next collection of stories FALL OF SHADOWS was released in print and eBook form. I've also gone back and made all of the individual stories Kindle exclusives so you can read them all for free on Kindle Unlimted if that's your thing. Then, when you've done that, you can order yourself a nice flashy paperback to put on your shelf and go "Ah yes, now those were some fun horror adventure stories! Gosh, I can't wait until the next one comes out!" Well, if you do like reading them in episodic fashion the next story, "The Lamentable Catalog" will be out this fall. When the final four stories wrap up Lexie and Henry's first year of adventures the final book in the "seasonal trilogy," DEAD OF WINTER, will be released. Yes, I skipped Spring. Perhaps I'll do a special Spring collection at some point just to confuse people further down the road.

– As I said above, I'm still hitting the convention trail. The next show will be Wizard World Chicago August 23trd through the 26th and after that I'm looking at Imaginarium in Louisville, KY and the Full Moon Horror & Tattoo Festival in Nashville. There may be some other shows but at that point I may be well for a short fall/winter's nap for convention-ing until the beginning of the year. Not that I won't be busy as I have a couple of other irons in the fire, including a new project with "Bulls on Parade" artist Claudio Munoz that I've been looking to get off the ground for a good few years now. I'm excited to see what he and colorist Kote Carvajal will do with it.


– A lot of my energy in this last little bit of the summer has been going into playing Deputy Governor Danforth in a production of the The Crucible at my local theater. It's a juicy role and my first foray into drama so when the opportunity came to pick my role I was eager to tackle and delightfully villainous role. However, between studying for that and watching nearly all of "A Handmaid's Tale" my thoughts on religion and society are even more skewed toward "Yuck" than usual.

– Personally, things have been going pretty good as well. I've been trying to be healthier and have been losing a bit of weight (and then finding it again, and then slowly losing it again) and that's always a bit of uphill climb. This past May the girlfriend and I went to Disney and Universal in Orlando with her family for her and her brother's birthday. It was my first time going to any of those parks and it was quite a sight. I may have left with a bit of an enamel pin collection which is cool until you realize you don't really have a lot of places to put them. At least soon it'll be hoodie weather down here in the South so I'll be able to display them then. I haven't been playing as much D&D as I would have liked but I'm still doing some map-making for my long-imagined and finally realized fantasy world. I'd love to do more stuff with this in story and comic form, as well as trying to create an actual playable environment for people to enjoy. All of this behind the scenes work and running my campaign in this world has me really itching to just play with a group, but then I look at my schedule and go…yeah, maybe not.

 
– I'm looking to expand my social media footprint but see the above about time and like. I'm getting back into posting and (mostly) reading Twitter, although the latest debacle on there with Alex Jones and some proposed changes leave it with a bad taste in my mouth. I'm on Tumblr a lot but that ends up being kind of personal at times…although let's face it, keeping your personal life out of being an independent artist is really hard. I know I have a tendency to overshare at times but I also…don't care? My days of posting NSFW content on there are pretty much behind me as I know that's not everyone's cup of tea and I'll be posting this separately on there as well. Maybe I just need to expand my net instead of thinking of a single-shot solution. Granted, I should take that advice in pretty much every aspect of my life. I was told by someone earlier in the week that my website is "a mess" and, well…they aren't wrong. There's a lot that needs to happen there, beginning with a complete teardown and starting over to make it a lot more streamlined and easier to use.

All things considered, that's a  pretty admirable goal.

18

08 2018

Tis the Season

I’m kicking of comic convention season this weekend in Dayton Ohio at Gem City Comic Con, making a return to my old stomping grounds of…geez, nearly 8 years ago. I remember when the show first started, back in my comic retailing hey-day and it’s nice to see it growing and expanding. Next weekend (March 30th-31st) I’ll be in Huntsville for the Huntsville Comic Con. It’s the second year for that show and after an amazing first year I’m excited to see how the show grows this year. The week after that I’ll be in Chicago for C2E2, although I may just be going to hang out, see friends, and see what convention life is look on the other side of the table. I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve attended a show as a “civilian” that I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.

This first part of the year found my quite busy as I was cast as Mortimer in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace at a local theater. Acting is kind of a new hobby for me but I already enjoy it very much. The only thing I don’t enjoy is the amount of time a production can take up but that’s all part of show business I guess. While it did keep me away from writing and other projects more than I’d like it didn’t stop me from auditioning and getting a role in another production this Fall (Deputy Governor Danforth in the Crucible). Thankfully at that point I’ll be pretty much coming out of Con season rather than going into it so (hopefully) that will make things easier.

In terms of writing work the first Mythpocalypse story that I teased in the last missive is complete, with art by Claudio Munoz and letters by A.C. Brown. It will hopefully be available for sale at the next two upcoming shows as a little ashcan book or I may put it up for sale online as a stand alone until the next Mythpoclypse stories get completed (Mermaids! Leprechauns! Headless “Horsemen”!). Despite my previous assurances the next Winston & Churchill collection won’t be available at this first wave of shows but should be shortly after given that I’m not going to be doing a lot of shows until we get closer to June.

There’s plenty of other stuff coming up this year and I’m excited to dive into it. I hope you all will come along on the ride.

25

03 2018

Bold and Busy

The holiday season is always a maddening blur of activity, be it the craziness of end of the year work or the dramatic increase in social and familial obligations. Now that it’s all done for me I can refocus on the various projects I have stewing in my brain.

From Zero…

My rekindled love for Dungeons & Dragons has taken the forefront in my free time, thanks in large part to Roll20 and the ability to play in real time using amazing tools. A huge part of this for me is reconnecting with old friends from high school and continuing to build the world we were playing in when we were but wee nerds. I spent so much time back then with graph paper and colored pencils crafting maps and dungeons and now, some twenty years later, I’m able to do that again using modern technology like Photoshop in place of my wretched drawing skills. As I’ve continued to grow this world the more I want to do with it beyond just running campaigns there. As I continue to build maps the ideas for more stories starting popping up. At some point soon something will have to be done with them, be they prose fiction shorts, comic series, or some mixture of the two.

to Hero (with a lot of help from Photoshop brushes)

I also did a little character building experiment on my Instagram where I rolled up four sets of stats for characters and then, using just random rolling on tables from the 5e Player’s Handbook and the recently released Xanathar’s Guide to everything, I created four characters from those stats. Everything, from race, class, and background were generated randomly. I did it in part because I was surprised at how few players and DMs embraced the challenge of truly random character generation. Pretty much no mater what you’re handed you should be able to find a unique and entertaining character to play with from those results. What I came up with was posted on there with the hashtag #4Characters so feel free to take a look. As with the mapmaking these four individuals may appear beyond their character sheets at some point in the semi-near future. Anyway, on to other business.

My comic project with Claudio Munoz continues and I’ve been absolutely delighted in the results. The last of the art should be done by the end of the month and then it’ll be on to the next chapter in this delightful set of post-apocalyptic mythology based stories. Making comics is slow but I certainly would love to have at least this story ready for perusal and purchase by the time I starting hitting conventions this year. The currently slate of shows (all very tentative) are Captain’s Comics Con in Charlotte, SC; Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, OH; Hunstville Comic Con in (shockingly) Hunstville, AL; and C2E2 in Chicago. Also hopefully ready by then will be the next Winston & Churchill collection FALL OF SHADOWS. Yes, I was hoping to have that all wrapped up neat and tidy come the beginning of this year but that’s coming. I assure you.

Artwork by Claudio Munoz

In the “other things that have been taking up my time” department I’ve been absolutely in love with Star Trek: Discovery. As a lifelong Trek fan this may go down as my favorite series of all time. Bold words, I know, but I stand by them. Yes, TNG and TOS are classics but until now I’ve been craving something that had the emotion depth and storytelling prowess that Deep Space Nine had. As much as I’ve loved two-thirds of the rebooted Abrams-Trek (despite the bitter taste it leaves in my mouth that Enterprise is now the only “canon” Trek show) I’ve been craving that weekly Trek fix we used to get. Discovery has delivered all of the things on my Star Trek wish-list, so much so that I had to stop the recent second-half of the season premiere and ramble on about Trek continuity and the genius of the Discovery writers. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you’re in any way Trek inclined.

Alright, fare thee well folks. Go Boldly or Go Home

18

01 2018

Oh, There He Is…

Yes, yes, absenteeism and the like.

It’s been a particularly trying Summer and a Fall that has been the slowest releasing of pressure that there could possibly be. I spent my summer leaping some pretty high hurdles involving my family, my day job, and my living situation. All settled and done with now but all three at once was an emotional triathlon I did not think I was prepared to handle.

And yet, here I am.

In June my father passed away suddenly. He would have been 83 in September and had been in generally poor (but not seemingly life-threatening) health for the past several years. There was a part of me that had been preparing for this but the hardest part of it all was him passing nearly 24 hours after I left my parents house to continue my vacation. One day of driving, a relaxing evening, and a morning that started carefree until I got a text from a family friend advising me to call my mother. I wrote about it (as is the writer’s custom when facing trauma) and shared it on my website and other places so it’s there if, y’know, you want a good cry and to find out what happens on Tiny Pony Island Day.

So that was a thing. Seemingly insignificant in comparison I also changed day jobs and found and moved into a new house. Neither of which are particularly traumatic but holy crap are they time consuming and exhausting. We moved in August and we’re still taking stuff out of boxes which is…maddening. But fun. In a maddening way.


At some point this summer I also found time to step into a life-long secret desire of mine: acting. Simple community theater of course but boy has it been a good outlet. That and, y’know, writing.

Speaking of the print version of the first Winston & Church Collection, Summer of Sins, is now available on Amazon and digitally wherever you like to purchase those types of things. Or, even better, you can get it from me at a convention or other place I may be selling stuff which, realistically, is anywhere that I am. Well, anywhere that I am and have my stuff with me (although feel free to just give me money if you see me out and about; that’s just good karma).

The second volume, Fall of Shadows, will be coming by the end of the year in both print and eBook so keep an eye out for that. If you’ve read and loved Summer of Sins please take a moment to leave a review, tell a friend, and generally gush to all parties about how great it is. If you didn’t love it…well, try? Or at least let me know what you didn’t like about it. That’s the only way we grow, people.

Speaking of shows, I’m getting my 2018 lineup together and hope for it to be bigger and better than this year. I’d love to do more travel, hit up shows I’ve never been to before as well as return to my favorite ones with new content. In addition to the Winston & Churchill Collections and my novel Shadow of the Past I hope to have a new comic project with me come February or March. Fingers crossed on that one but it’ll be a collection of interconnected comic shorts all by different artists. I’m very happy with the artists I’ve been in touch with thus far and I can’t resist posting a sneak peak from one of them, Claudio Munoz, who you can find on Facebook, Twitter, and his website. And his house, presumably, but that’s between you and him.

Anyways, more updates to follow as more things come together.

16

11 2017

24 hours after I left my parent’s house my father died

My girlfriend Bri and I went up to visit them over Memorial Day weekend and, while he was 82 and in generally not great health, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with him.

We said goodbye to him the night before we left because we were leaving early in the morning and he never was (and never will be, I suppose) a morning person. I’d left a print copy of my first novel on their living room table and told my mother that we’d left a surprise for them. She messaged me later in the day saying that they both loved it and my Dad was blown away seeing it.

We made it to Ocean City, Maryland where we were staying for the day before continuing and the first stop on our four-day long scenic and circuitous route from Upstate NY back to Tennessee. After what could only be described as a near perfect day at the top floor of a hotel facing the ocean we woke the next morning and slowly got ready to check out and get back on the road. We decided to make a slight detour to Chincoteague Island, home of wild ponies and somewhere Bri had read about when she was younger. We were joking around and I was teasing her about it and she said “You can’t ruin Tiny Pony Island day!”

Not even a minute later I got a text from a friend of the family telling me to call my mother.

I didn’t believe her at first and was flabbergasted. How could it have happened? He was fine, or at least as well as I’d known he’d been despite type 2 diabetes, being overweight, and taking diuretics to lessen the fluid around his heart.

“It was quick,” she said. “It was how he wanted to go.”

I had made fun of them over the course of the weekend because they had shown off my father’s Do Not Resuscitate order, a practically neon pink sheaf of paper that was stuck to the refrigerator door among take-out menus and pictures of grandchildren that stared at me every time I went for a drink or to get a snack. I kept wanting to take a picture and post it to revel in the grim ridiculousness of it. I’m so glad I didn’t.

It began to coalesce as my mother calmly explained what was going on and what the Plan was and I just handed the phone to Bri and dissolved into tears. She told my mother we’d call her back and she comforted me as best as anyone could. I realized it was about 20 minutes to check out and that no matter what happened we weren’t going to spend another night there. I had to pull it together, finish packing, and get down to the car. Plus have breakfast. There were a few false starts but after I (kind of) slapped myself in the face a couple of times I was able to pull everything together.

Packed, checked out, and headed to get some food I called my mother back to see how she was doing. She was, of course, on the phone with others (my sisters, most likely) letting them know what happened so I left her a voice mail (”Hey, it’s me…if this is a joke now would be a good time to let me know…anyway, call me back”) and we went on to “Happy Jack’s Pancake House.” I told Bri that there was no crying in Happy Jack’s (also, funnily enough, my grandfather’s name as well as my Dad’s although he went by John). We both made liars of me. Our waitress did not bother us much.

Eventually it was decided that we would continue on with our vacation because there wasn’t going to be a memorial service or any traditional funeral and we were going to have a party to celebrate his life around his birthday (September 4th, right on Labor Day this year). My sisters were coming up to be with my mother and the friends and family up there formed an amazing support structure for her. I worried about her and how she was getting on but she was, and still is, remarkably unflappable. Ultimately, this was no surprise. It was something that, as I told many of my friends, something that could happen any day now.

It is incredibly difficult for me to wrap my brain around the idea that we were there, he was fine, and then he just…ended. I feel so fortunate I had that time with him (although the two years between visits will haunt me forever) and when I talked to my sisters a couple of days later they were calm as well (the mimosas helped, I’m sure), reminding me that he had often said he had no regrets and that he had seemed “ready.” I was standing at a scenic overlook on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park at about 3,000 feet above sea level and it was so difficult not to think about how maybe if I hadn’t visited and possibly given him some sense of closure he’d still be alive. It’s foolish and arrogant thinking I know but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to shake it.

He was happy, we laughed, he told stories and both he and my mother later told me how much they liked Bri and vice versa. Given how sure I’ve become that she’s the love of my life I’m so thankful that they got to meet each other and she could see a large, if not the largest, part of what makes me who I am.

I have gained no wisdom or closure from this yet. Handling the grief was easy when we were on the road as there were so many distractions. Yes, we did visit Tiny Pony Island. I told her nothing would stand in the way of the John H. Cleveland III Memorial Tiny Pony Island Day and when you’re in Happy Jack’s Pancake House and you make a promise with your face wet with tears you keep it.

I love you, Dad.

06

06 2017

Early Spring Boards

The slow, cozy days of winter have finally seemed to thaw with an explosion of activity, which has its pros and cons. I’ve never been a fan of being out in winter weather (hence one of reasons for the relocation to the South) but observing it has always been nice. Things get very insular and contemplative, with lots of time for reflection, coziness, and solitude. Of course, living in the South is that winter is more of a “Geez, it’s like…20 outside. But at least the sun is shining” than the “It’s negative 20 with the windchill and the snowdrifts are up to my knees” that I’d had in Chicago so there isn’t much of an excuse to be a homebody.

This February has seen a bunch of activity and I know I’ve felt my own mental and creative energy having an early spring as well. I’m working on focusing in on some key projects that need to be finished and setting my eyes on others for later in the year to take the place of those when they are done. It’s nice to be re-energized and not just like some kind of cave-troll who is scribbling notes on a whiteboard and various journals.

The best way I’ve found to get creatively energized is hitting conventions, talking with other creative folks and fans and talking about the work I’ve got going on. I had my first convention of the year a couple weeks ago at the Huntsville Comic Con and it was a phenomenal experience, made even more so by the fact that it’s the first year for the show. Many new faces seen (and signed up on the mailing list) and talked to and it ended up being one of my best selling and most profitable shows that I’ve been to. I’m looking forward to whatever tweaks and refinements they make to it next year as it can only get better from here. In addition to selling books and meeting folks I also had a chance to share the table with Alexandria Torrejon as well. She wasn’t there on Friday but the prints of her Okami-stylized Eveelutions were a big hit on both days, despite me not really knowing much about the PokeMan and his pets. As she asked about what was selling and drawing the most interest on Friday I found myself hard pressed to answer specific questions. Thankfully, I had a system…

I think it worked out really well.

***

I’ve found myself thoroughly enjoying this new “winter movie season” where fun, blockbustery and not at all “fancy” movies are released. All of the sudden there’s been a veritable smorgasbord of stuff I want to see and last weekend made a point to see Fist Fight, Lego Batman, and A Cure For Wellness and I’d checked out Split the weekend before. All of them were exceptional and Fist Fight managed to very much exceed expectations. I’ve always been a fan of the movie Three O’Clock High, which was a staple of Channel 11 in NYC’s weekend movie broadcasts (others included Clue, Dirty Dancing, Breakfast Club, Return of the Living Dead, and The Jerk…all of which edited for television so seeing the unedited versions later in life was always a surprise), and it certainly had shades of that which was a real delight.

Other things I’m interested in checking out are Get Out (which will certainly be seen today), John Wick 2, Rings, La La Land (okay, it’s an awards season movie but I’m a sucker for musicals), and The Great Wall. I will admit that Great Wall began to slip off my radar but a writer friend said that it was surprisingly good and subverted the “white savior” tropes rather than enforcing them so I’m going to give it a shot before it completely falls away for other must-see fare like Logan and Kong of Skull Island.

Television has been rather captivating as well. Riverdale has been such delightful, addicting, yet spectacular trash. The second season of the Expanse has been an absolute powderkeg of great space-opera ideas and storytelling. I’d missed most of the second season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but its recent addition to Netflix will lead to some quality bingeing soon.

I’ve taken to podcasting listening as I exercise and The Message and its follow-up/maybe-sequel Life After have been standout favorites. I’m holding on to the last episode of Life After as it I don’t want it to end but I’m very eager to see how it all plays out. That kind of storytelling juxtaposition is always a delight.

The 5th edition D&D campaign I’m running via Roll20 for old friends of mine (which is a sequel to the campaign world I created with them for 2nd ed way back when we were in High School) has been one of my favorite creative endeavors to date and reminds me how much I’d love to take this world we created and push it out into things like comics. I’ve always wondered why fantasy and space opera haven’t been a bigger force in modern comics but maybe that’s something we can work towards.

And in that spirit, let’s get to work.

25

02 2017

Memorial Day, Derby City, and the June That Time Forgot

Lots of travelling since last we spoke. Yes, I did indeed spend Memorial Day weekend (after watching my not-so-little girl graduate) driving about in Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee before making my way back home. It was a delightfully leisurely trip filled with small back roads, hills, woods, small towns, tunnels, sneaking into public campgrounds to shower and finding out of the way places to sleep in my car (which is not as uncomfortable as it sounds but not as comfortable as I would’ve liked). The highlights of the trip were the completely out of the way spot I found off the highway that I’ll most likely return to camp at another weekend and finishing the outline of the Secret Project I keep alluding to. There’s something amazing about being out in the woods with no one else around for miles and leisurely writing until the sun goes down.

In the flurry of work and adjusting to some new medications (yay insomnia and hot flashes!) I was able to get in on Derby City Comic-Con in Louisville this past weekend, thanks to my friend and exceptional artist (and Louisville native with a couch I could sleep on) Adam Hicks (@gigatoast on Twitter and Instagram). I was able to get a portion of his Artist’s Alley table and, for the first time ever, sell my published wares there for the entirety of a convention. There certainly was a bit of trepidation on my part, not knowing the show at all, not entirely sure how a writer with a pair of comic anthologies and information about an upcoming print novel would fare. The answer was “pretty decent.” For being a small two-day show I did some good business, met some interesting people and finally had a decent set-up that didn’t look like I’d hastily thrown it together at the last minute (it was more “last minute adjacent”).

table

teamgigaweasel

A huge thank you to Adam and everyone I met and saw again at the show. I’m not entirely sure when my next show is (possibly Wizard World Columbus at the end of July) but #TeamGigaWeasel will ride again for sure at the Cincinnati Comic-Con this September 9-11. Those that know me may recognize that this is the weekend of my birthday those who know me closer still will know it will be my 40th, so this should be an interesting show for sure.

More news and Secret Projects are around the corner and will be revealed soon, so keep an eye out for them.

28

06 2016