Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fell In Love With A Girl

...fell in love once and almost completely.

I love that song. More important, I love my wife.

Storybook love is one of those things other people have. People in stories. It's not an experience most--if any--of us get to have. More than eight years with Jess, and as of today five of them as a married couple, have taught me the value of a real relationship.

We argue. We disagree all the time. I get on her nerves and she gets on mine. We have very different tastes in food and a dozen other things. I like comedies, she likes foreign films including weird Korean indie stuff she finds God-knows-where. I'm outspoken and loud, she's quiet and shy. I have a deep connection to family, she's mostly indifferent to her own.

And yet, we work. We work better than any couple I know. The things we argue about are silly, small things. Most of the time they're fun, like who would win in a fight between Nikola Tesla and Cthulhu. Sometimes we go days only seeing each other a few minutes at a time, mostly when she's leaving for work, and it's okay.

We're perfect for each other. We have the same dark, twisted sense of humor. We make each other laugh more than anyone else could manage. Our priorities mesh, and a billion other things that don't matter to you because they're specific to us.

We fit, do you see? Of course you don't. You aren't here. You don't watch us get along.

But all that isn't why I'm writing this. I don't want to rhapsodize about how well we work. I want to praise Jessica Guess, my wonderful Jess, because she's amazing in ways she doesn't understand.

I had a habit of falling in love, but with her it wasn't that way. I'm four years her senior, and we met when I was 19. You do the math. I was floored by her appearance right away, because she's looked like a horny-teenage boy's drawing of a female comic book character since she was twelve. Jess developed early, which was a problem for her because she looked much older. That's part of why she grew to be so shy.

So when we met, she was too young for me. A few years went by where I saw her only occasionally. We didn't talk much. I didn't really see many people during that time. I was in a relationship that screwed me up badly, made me terribly afraid of being with anyone. A few months after that relationship ended, I was cleaning out my car and found a card from Jess. She had mailed it to me a while before and I'd carelessly put it in the glove box without even opening it.

I found that note while cleaning my office. It reads, in part:

"...I just felt like telling you that even though our relationship is pretty much nonexistent now, I'll never forget you. You are someone truly special, and I wish you the best in the future..."

There I was, two months out of my longest and most painful relationship, and I was a broken man. That's not hyperbole; I really was shattered in ways I had never experienced before. I read that letter and felt, for the first time in months, a faint ray of hope. A little bit of joy. Someone out there thought I was worth something. Someone cared.

So I called her that night. We've been together ever since.

I was reluctant to love her. I had a history of falling in love easily and hard, but my heart had hardened. I was wary as any kicked dog is wary, fearful and nervous. She was patient with me, loving me without holding back while understanding why I couldn't do the same.

Eventually I grew to love Jess so thoroughly and completely that I can't imagine living any other way. Who else could make me laugh the way she does? Who is as funny, or smart, or dedicated? Who knows me so well that she can predict my mood and words as if reading my mind? No one. There's simply no other way to live than with her.

She is the most understanding person I know. Jess puts up with my faults but never lets me get away with lying to myself. She was the first person to encourage me to try writing for a living, way back when I was thinking about starting Living With the Dead. She was worried about our finances when I told her I was quitting my job, and that was a promise to her I had broken. I always said I'd wait to go full-time *after* I had made enough money writing to be off for a year. Still, she agreed, and now she's thrilled at how well it has worked out for both of us.

As always, she's my biggest fan and supporter.

The most frustrating thing in the world for a writer is the inability to convey the emotion you're feeling to the reader. That's impossible here, both because Jess is awesome (in the truest sense of the word) in a thousand ways too subtle and grounded in context to explain here, and because how I feel is very much a thing specific to me.

She's hardworking, smart, teaches herself skills and disciplines on a whim. She's hilarious and without filter at all times. She'll say things that would make the bluest comedians blush. She'll wrestle the shit out of you with zero warning. One second you're standing there talking to her, the next she's taking you to the ground and going for the pin. She knew nothing about computers, then spent a weekend learning them. I've been screwing with PCs for a decade and a half, and in those two days she surpassed me.

Jess is adorable. Her scowl is cute enough to make Japanese schoolgirls fall over in diabetic shock from the sweetness.

She is so many things, but the best one of them all is this: she's mine. For whatever reason (possible brain damage?) she chose me. I get to see her every day, and that's as close to heaven as I can imagine.

Today we've been married five years. They have been the best five years of my life.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Joshua Guess: Year One

I posted on my Facebook page a little while ago that the anniversary of my first year as a full-time writer happened. To be honest, I'm not sure when it came and went. Sometime in early March up to possibly today. I could probably go back and look at a pay stub or something, but it's really not important to me what the actual day was as much as what that year signifies.

When I quit my job, I had no illusions at all about living the dream. I had enough money to get me through a couple months. Jess was worried about me getting another job in enough time to prevent the money squeeze both of us expected. I stressed over it a lot, and that stress took its toll on me creatively. There were whole weeks when I could barely tap out a few hundred words.

Imagine my surprise that the success of Victim Zero and Dead Will Rise, as well as The Passenger, was enough to keep me going. More than enough, actually, which is good because I like keeping my taxes paid up.

In general, I would not have made it this far without you. Yes, you. All of you. You're the ones who have supported my work, bought my books, and kept me from going insane. Without you, the readers, I would be working a regular job right now instead of making up things and killing fake people for your entertainment.

Very specifically, I wouldn't be here without James Cook. Jim and I co-authored The Passenger, but the story doesn't begin or end there.

You see, back when I was still writing Living With the Dead, Jim was not an author. He was, like me, a voracious reader. Stumbling across my books, he found out I was self-publishing and decided that if a schmuck like me could do it, so could he. He put it in much more flattering terms than that, but I'm allergic to self-aggrandizement.

Jim wrote a book, the first in a series, and it was successful right off the bat. His own success makes mine look like small potatoes, and that's okay. Writing isn't a contest, nor is it a zero sum game. The sale of one of his books does not prevent me from selling.

More than that, we're friends. We got to know each other well over the course of our collaboration. Without his support, Victim Zero would not have done nearly as well. Without a timely payment from him relating to The Passenger, I would have run out of money completely and had to go back to work. In very real terms, Jim gave me the help I needed right when I needed it, without which I wouldn't have published Dead Will Rise when I did and would be back at a regular job.

I will give myself some credit. To do otherwise would be disingenuous. After all, I did write these books, and they aren't bad stuff, at least according to most of you. So I'll pat myself on the back, but with the crystal clear understanding that without you as an audience and James Cook as a lifesaver, I would not be here in my office right now.

And man, it's awesome. It's only after 365 days (or so) of not punching a clock that I realize how stifling and stressful my job was. Physically, mentally, spiritually, pick pretty much any aspect of your life and it was rough on me in that way. I hate to sound like I'm bragging, because I feel for every person who has to put up with the same to make ends meet. I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to make myself sound awesome for living my dream.

You did this just as much as I did. You who have been there to support me to the hilt, you who have put up with my delays and problems, never wavering in your support. You're generous and excellent, and you're beautiful/handsome/whatever the appropriate compliment is.

But the truth is, it is awesome. Setting my own schedule, working at my own pace, not having to put on a brave face at some job because my miswired brain is telling me the world is going to end. Being my own boss is the best, because that guy fucking loves me.

I like being at home. I didn't know if I would, but I really do. I get to see my wife more, spend quality time with our bevvy of furry creatures, and cook real food.

A year in and I haven't lost the appreciation for what I have. While I feel it's a less tenuous situation than it once was, it's still not a guarantee. I'm not rolling in money or anything. I have enough of a reserve to see me through a slow month or two, maybe one month of no other income whatsoever. If I get to the point where I have that huge wad of extra cash, I'll feel more able to pursue projects with greater ambition and risk. I'm not there yet, but I can at least imagine it as a possibility now, rather than as the punchline to a joke.

It has been an exciting, amazing year for me, and I'm looking at year two with greater hope and confidence.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Let's Talk About Depression

Before I dive in, I want to dedicate this post to Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess. I've been reading her blog for a few years. People have called her one of the funniest women in the world, but for me the qualifier isn't necessary. Jenny Lawson is one of the funniest human beings alive, period.

But it isn't her humor, or rather, not just her humor, that I've grown to appreciate and almost depend on. Jenny is also bitingly honest about her anxiety and depression, and always manages to convey her experience in ways that make me truly feel like someone else is as weird as I am. And that it's completely okay.

A lot of my regular readers are also my friends on social media. You know to one degree or another about my struggle with anxiety and depression. My mom, who like all mothers worries that writing something like this will affect my ability to get a job should this whole novelist thing stop working, probably won't like me writing about this. But I feel at this point that I'm doing a disservice to other people out there who suffer from the same problems.

In short, Jenny Lawson helped me through some of my worst times, and it's time to pay that forward.

I'm not sure how depression is for most people. I say that because the only actual experience I have to go on is my own and seeing it in one or two people close to me. My own variety is, thankfully, not as severe as what many people have to live through. People who don't suffer from it have a hard time understanding, and the people who are suffering from it get frustrated and down trying to explain.

So, here's my depression, which I've thankfully avoided for the last two months or so:

Think about a time when you were sadder than you've ever been in your life. You had a reason, right? It may have been a funeral or some larger and more distant tragedy. Think for just a moment about that feeling. Got it?

Multiply it. Imagine that feeling wrapping around you, trying to crush you, and smothering the light from the world. Now imagine it hitting you for no reason whatsoever, at a time that makes no sense. It has happened to me in the middle of a trip to the grocery store.

Keep that vague sense of helplessness and frustration in mind the next time someone you know says they're sad or depressed. The most common thing depressives hear is that they should cheer up, or fight through it, and there isn't any reason to feel this way.

That's the rub. We know there isn't any reason most of the time. We know it's a bunch of chemicals in our brain clamoring for attention. Being told this fact by someone who expects you to just throw it off is maddening.

The same can be said about anxiety, which is honestly a bigger problem for me than being depressed. I'm very lucky in that when I'm down, it's rarely as deep as many go, and that I've been able to work through most of my problems over time. At this point in my life, I think the depression aspect of my issues is smaller than it has ever been.

Keep in mind, I'm one of the very lucky few. Don't use these words on someone who is still struggling by using me as an example.

Anxiety is a weird thing. I talked about it while I was getting tattooed the other day. I described it in much the same way I did above about being sad, but used the example of nervousness instead. Ever had your heart race and your muscles burn in anticipation for something? Felt like your chest was going to explode? That's anxiety, and for us, it can be a nightmare.

It's not about crisis. I can handle crisis. My degree is in Fire/Rescue, which involved a lot of crisis management training. I've practiced martial arts, which rules out fear of violence as a cause. I worked in a nursing home for several years, and never lost my head when some emergency or another came up. Anxiety isn't about the big stuff. It's about many small things adding up.

Jenny Lawson started out as a blogger and became a novelist, not dissimilar to my own trajectory. I own three different versions of her book, which I've read or listened to no less than six times. The whole memoir is a sort of ode to being strange (though I think she's perfectly normal, but then I also have random conversations with strangers about the best way to survive the apocalypse) and threaded through the book are many references and examples of her own struggle with anxiety. Jenny is less fortunate because her triggers are things like social gatherings or meeting new people.

Mine are different. I can go to an amusement park with no problem. Put me in a crowded bar with no one to talk to, and my heart starts beating against my sternum like a cracked-out heavy metal drummer. I don't stress much over having to make my living through writing, or at least no more than the average person would. Yet knowing I have to go to an appointment with a doctor or insurance agent sends my nerves jangling.

Which in terms of the whole anxiety spectrum isn't that bad. My point isn't to make you feel pity for me. You absolutely shouldn't. I'm a full-time writer, for the moment at least, and I'm living my dream. My problems are manageable and I'm making decent progress against them.

I'm only talking about my own issues because they're what I can write about with honesty. What I hope to accomplish here is to open a dialog. I used to be one of those people who couldn't understand depression or anxiety at all. I had never been there, and my honest outlook was that it seemed like people were being overly dramatic, maybe even using them as an excuse.

If you know someone who suffers from either problem, consider this disjointed and rambling post in the future. Every person is different. No one handles their problems the same way. Lots of people who have never been depressed or on the edge of a panic attack lose their shit when confronted with even the regular stuff people deal with every day. That being the case, it makes sense to take a moment and try to understand when someone you know or love is hit with a metric ton of surprise depression for no reason at all.

I'm not accusing people of having cold hearts or a lack of empathy. I don't make friends easily, but every one of mine are very understanding about this stuff even if they've never experienced it firsthand. I'm talking to people like me, first and foremost, in the hope that these words will help. It's okay to talk about it. It's okay to look for help. It doesn't make you weak or a bad person--both thoughts I've directed at myself time and again--to admit these feelings. The way to begin shifting that burden is by breaking down the walls containing it. As trite as it sounds, talking about it is the first step to getting healthier.

Healthier, not healed, because false hope is rarely a good thing. Chances are, if you're like me, this will be something you'll live with to some degree for your entire life. But it does get better, if you want it to. Living with it isn't nearly as bad if you don't have to do it alone. There are medications and other treatments able to change lives, but it all begins with opening up and telling someone. I promise you, you'll be amazed at how much just talking can help. On this subject, my door is always open.

To the other group, the small number of people who may not be (or have been) as understanding as they could have been: I hope you take my ramble here seriously. I don't think badly of you. I was one of you. I grasp perfectly how hard it can be to put yourself in those shoes. All I hope is that you listen if someone wants to talk, and keep in mind that while you may not be able to feel the way they do, they certainly feel it. And they've trusted in you enough to share it.

This post didn't come out the way it sounded in my head. That's one of the advantages in writing fiction. It's much easier to seed kernels of truth in all the constructed lies. Writing about zombies and superhumans is cake compared to honest discussion of serious topics. I'm not sure if I did what I set out to do, but as I reread this post I find myself oddly satisfied. Maybe there isn't a crescendo of enlightenment to be found here, but I believe I've said the things I needed to say. It's not a pretty subject, mainly for its lack of easy answers, but if even one person starts addressing those powerful feelings because of this post, and one person listens who wouldn't have before, then it's a win.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Projects

I don't post here often enough, and that's recently due to the fact I haven't written a word at Living With the Dead since the big finale. Now that the last book is out and I'm on track to get some things done, I think it's time to let everyone know how the work is going.

Dead Will Rise, the sequel to Victim Zero, is growing fat. I've been dealt a bad hand of problems over the last few months and have yet again struggled with anxiety and similar problems, but I'm back to working on it with gusto. The tentative plan is to have it out by the end of November, which is contingent on me getting it done in the next two weeks and edited *super* fast. Whether that's possible I don't know, but I'm going to try. Assuming I manage that, the print edition will be out before Christmas. 

After DWR is published I'm going to take a break from the Living With the Dead universe. After seven collections of the blog, two parallel novels and a collaboration also set in a zombie apocalypse, I need to work on something else. 

Fortunately, that isn't a problem. After I send out DWR to be edited I'm going to spend a week or so working on a novella set in Hugh Howey's Silo Saga universe. If you haven't read those books--and I don't see how you could miss them considering their immense popularity--then you might want to read the trilogy. Hugh is very permissive in allowing anyone to write fiction in his universe and to make money with them. I'm going to try to get mine published through Kindle Worlds, which is a fan fiction section of the kindle store. Failing that, I'll publish it on my own. 

My next novel will be the much-talked about (by me) superhuman story, Next. Though a glut of superhuman/superhero novels have been released over the last few years, I've seen few that tackle the ideas I'd like to read about. That's the same reason I wrote LWtD in the first place; I wrote the story I wanted to read. So Next isn't going to be the tights-and-heroism story of people who have secret identities or who hide from society. This isn't a world where superhumans exists as some fringe subculture most people don't know about. It's a balls-to-the-wall examination of what the most dangerous power--superpower--would do the to world if it were exposed to everyone. All of that conveniently framed in the story of one main character and several secondaries. It's different than anything I've written and I have a hard time putting a genre label on it. 

The really good news is I wrote about 30,000 words before switching over to write VZ. So I can get this baby done in a relatively short time once DWR and my Silo novella are done. The novella shouldn't take that long considering how short it is and how fast I write. I look to be working on Next full-time by the second week of December, give or take a week. 

After that I'll decide which project I'll take on next. For purely business reasons the smart thing to do would be the third book in The Fall. It's going to be a bit trickier than books one and two, and maybe with another novel and a novella between books two and three I'll feel refreshed and ready to go back to that world. 

So many things I want to write, so many genres! Some of you have seen the list before, some haven't, but I'll post again soon and maybe do a poll on the facebook page about what book you're most interested in. 

Until then, keep reading. I like paying my bills. 


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grown Up

A friend of mine posted on Facebook a short while ago that someone we went to school with died. The name wasn't familiar, but I graduated twelve years ago, so that didn't surprise me. I looked up the person he was talking about, and thought I knew who it was. So for the first time in many, many years I broke out the yearbooks I could find--those from my Junior and Senior years.

He wasn't there.

I don't know why or how. He wasn't even listed among the people not pictured. The mystery will probably remain, but the experience of looking back over those images, single smiling slices of a life, stays with me.

I wasn't a popular guy. I was known, but that isn't the same thing. Popularity implies people like you. A lot of people didn't. I was smart but lazy, defensive of others and with a fuse so short it might as well not have existed in the first place. I was confident with women--very much so--but sought the approval of people who could barely stand me. I think I did that because I knew they didn't like me.

I wasn't hated, really. I got along with most people. I wasn't into trendy fashions or sports, and aside from acting I didn't get into school activities. The politics of high school did not appeal to me. That said, I looked back over two years of my life in pictures and remembered my entire experience in that place in flashes, and the man I remember as a boy, the one who passed away, was there.

He wasn't a friend. I knew him to speak to him but not much more. The modern age of technology allows me to reconnect and keep in touch with many people I barely knew in school, others I had deep friendships with but who stepped out of my life for years on end.

There was the guy whose friendship and respect I wanted badly, and twelve years later he's the same guy. Pretentious, talented, arrogant, and with every reason to be happy while rarely expressing anything but ironic scorn. He lives his dream job and seems to detest life.

The football star who did everything in his power to live up to the stereotype. A year after graduation--two years or better since he'd transferred to another school--he came into the restaurant I was working at and tipped me large. He apologized for the way he'd behaved. I did the same.

The prim honor student always so perfect and proper, her nervous state a constant as she ignored joy and being a kid in order to be the best. She's an artist now, a bohemian of the old school.

Boys and girls became men and women. The guy who called me a faggot and got in trouble for it--who apologized while both of us were waiting to see the Principal over it--is a happy adult, a married man and father who finds great purpose in being fair and honest.

I skipped the reunion. I was working at the nursing home, depressed and trying to make a go of my writing career. I had no desire to show up, the weird guy everyone knew but few really knew. I'd seen so many of them talk about their lives online that I couldn't bring myself to go there and tell everyone I was a CNA, though there's certainly no shame in that job, who was killing himself with the constant effort to write for a living. It sounded so sad to me, so deeply cliche. Most of the people I went to school with didn't treat me badly. If I'm being honest, I probably did worse to them on average than all of them together did to me.

Now I'm a full-time writer, at least for the foreseeable future. I'm living the dream. And I realize I still shouldn't have gone to that reunion. All of them have changed in so many ways, but I'm mostly the same. A little more mature, true, but as I looked back on those memories and who I was I realized I was always an old man in that young man's body. Maybe I'll go to the next reunion. Maybe not.

We are the story we tell ourselves. Our lives are books we write each day. They can (and will) take us to amazing places, to happy places, to dark and dangerous places. When the reunion came about, I was measuring my success and who I was against them. Now I only measure against myself.

If I could go back and do it all again, I'd change some things. Oh, you expected me to say I'd change nothing? Hell no. Sorry. No hackneyed trope here. I was a virgin until I was eighteen, people. No, I'd change a lot. Foremost I would have worked harder. In my classwork, sure, though I had no desire to be an honor student. But I'd do more even if just to make my mom happy. Beyond that I would take up two jobs and work myself to death all four of those years and save every penny.

To invest in Apple in 2002, when their stock was at the lowest point in the decade. I mean, what's the purpose of theorizing about time travel if we can't make a buck off it, right?

Most of all, I would have been kinder. I would try to impart some of the lessons I've learning in life. People need to go through hard times to learn lessons, no avoiding that. But I would have tried to show people that no matter how overcast the future looks, it's no reason not to show love and respect. That was something I learned late.

Since the first day of Freshman year, several people I went to school with died. One was a dear friend, in a car crash. That happened while I was enjoying a Halloween party. Another was a guy who hated my guts. That didn't make me special; he hated easily and often. There was the guy who died running back into his burning house to search for his mother.

It's easy to think you've got forever when you're young. I'm only thirty, but I've spent enough time caring for the elderly and seeing death to know on a visceral level how frail it all is. That is why I'd go back and preach kindness and understanding if I could, because our time on the mortal coil is limited and unpredictable. We should not treat it as a test or a trial run, no matter what our faith might tell us. How we treat others is a perfect model of chaos theory. Every wound we inflict adds up and ripples outward, as does every smile we inspire.

Need proof? I said all that, had all those thoughts and introspective realizations, because a boy I barely knew who became a man I didn't know passed away. I learned more about him tonight from his friends, his hidden struggle with illness, his positive spirit, than I ever would have known otherwise. He was a small wave in the water, gently pushing me to be a better person.

Think about it. When the situation comes up where someone is being mean or rude or hateful, you have a choice. You can return it to them, or ignore them, or maybe try throwing a little understanding at them. It's not easy, but someone has to start.

Just remember this when it happens. And from there it becomes easier to not just respond with kindness, but to create it without prompt.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The End of a Story, The Beginning of Many

I've been putting off writing this post for a while now. Part of the reason was because I didn't want to upset anyone. Part of it was plain stubbornness on my part--I wasn't sure if I was sure. But now I am. This is going to cover a lot of ground, so stick with me all the way through, okay?

I'm ending Living With the Dead. Sort of.

I'm not taking down the blog or anything, but the current season will be the last collection. There is a small chance I'll collect more down the road, but unless circumstances change dramatically, it's unlikely. This does NOT mean the blog is ending, however. I will still post there if at a dramatically reduced pace. Instead of doing four days in a row and taking a day off, I might do two a week. Maybe only one.

The reasons are many. First and foremost, I've burned through most of the material I intended for the blog. I had a five-year plan and we're hitting that stuff right now, a year and a half earlier. So anything I write on the blog after the end of August will be internet-only stuff. Seven books seems like a good number to me.

LWtD as a universe will not only continue, but get even more awesome. Most you know about Victim Zero, my most recent novel. It's about how The Fall (which is the series title) began, the man responsible, and what it's like to lose everything and have the weight of the world on your shoulders as a result. The Fall will continue with Dead Will Rise, which is the next book following Kell's life, and the link is to the IndieGoGo campaign for it.

You might be asking why I'm choosing to end regular publication of the LWtD collections and why I'm choosing to devote less of my time to the blog. It's pretty simple: I'm a full-time writer as of now. That might not last, but for the next several months at least I can continue not having a job and focus on putting out books. You'd think that gives me more time for LWtD, but not so. I'm working on several novels of my own, a collaboration with another author, and managing my own business needs. LWtD is something I love, but I'm honest enough to realize I've tapped every interesting possibility out of that style of writing. The characters have done everything I can do with them in blog form. Which brings me to my next point...

The fictional people you've enjoyed in LWtD will at some point in the next year get a series of their own. Novels, not blog collections. A separate series from The Fall. That's one of many, many projects I'm planning out.

The reality is I need to focus. I dearly love LWtD and recognize that you as my readers have brought me to this point. I wouldn't be taking the chance of staying home and writing if not for you. I wouldn't be living my dream if not for you. I hope you all realize this isn't an easy call for me to make, but I'd rather end the collections here and not have the same hard deadlines I set for myself with the blog than continue on and put out something shitty. That's just the brass tacks of the situation.

I am, however, planning on doing something cool with the blog. While I will write posts--possibly as another character since anyone can die in LWtD--I will soon be trying to set up a process to find those of you who might want to take part as well. Beckley, for example, is a real person. I love his posts and if he wanted to do a post every week or every other week, I'd take him up on it in a heartbeat. I know there are others out there who want to do the same. I'll keep you updated on that.

That's basically it. For the near future I'm going to be doing what I've been doing for the last three months and change: sitting at home writing new stories for you to read. From a personal viewpoint this works out well for me. Jess is super supportive, almost suspiciously so. I get to be home and not deal with the ridiculous stress of working in healthcare, which in hindsight was literally killing me. My health is better even if I've put on a few pounds. I'm happier. I'm doing what I love.

From a business point of view it's a huge change for the better. LWtD isn't your standard fare, written entirely in narrative as it is, and that means it isn't likely to break out into wider popularity. That doesn't bother me at all, but as a matter of paying the bills it's time for me to move on to being more productive with standard novels. They make more money, have more appeal, and while you aren't getting the dose on a daily basis, I think you're getting a better product. I'm proud of my work on LWtD, immensely so. But it was writing practice to start, and three and a half years of doing it made me an iron man writer. I can produce novels fast, and Victim Zero is a better work than anything I've done on the blog.

It's that way because of the blog.

I hope this doesn't make too many of you angry, but it's the way things are. As a fan myself it always irritates me when a producer of regular content moves on to other projects. "Oh, but I love your webcomic! Why are you ending it?" "Oh, I love your blog, please don't start a different one and give up on this one!"

I've done what I can do with LWtD. Now I'm taking the world I built there and expanding on it. I doubt very much I'll ever be done with that world. I have the chance to do that and so much more.

I started the blog in March of 2010. By the end I'll have produced seven collections. And that's only the beginning when you look at the series I'm spinning off from it. Basically I told you that story so I could tell you these stories.

Hope you'll stick around for them.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Victim Zero and Other Sundries

As many of you might know already, I finished the first draft of Victim Zero the other day. I sent it out to the first crop of beta readers Friday night, and I'm waiting with anticipation and trepidation to hear back from them.

I've also managed enough work on the collaborative project I'm doing with James Cook that he has to catch up with me. That one is going to be very, very cool and something all of you will enjoy.

I'm in kind of a strange place. It's coming up on three months I've been off work and if you'd asked me when I put in my two weeks if I'd have a novel done at this point I would have probably said no. Granted, that was always the plan with VZ and Next (which I resume work on this week) but I figured I'd have to be working another full-time job by now.

Not yet. I'm going to be putting in applications this week, but I have to say I'm completely happy with the decision to leave the nursing home I was working at. I miss the people, but three months without the agonizing back pain, without the unreal stress and overwork, and all the other little joys have been like magic for me. It hasn't been perfect and I'll have to rejoin the workforce soon, but hopefully these stories will be seeds that bear fruit before the end of the year. I think I might be a full-time writer by the start of 2014. Earlir than that if they go beyond expectations.

I'm just blathering, really. This has been a time of immense satisfaction for me on a personal and professional level. Creatively I feel free to write what I want, and that gives my writing more confidence and strength.

The IndieGoGo campaign had a lot to do with that. Though we didn't hit the goal we shot for, the campaign itself was fun and brought me closer to the readers and fans, which is you guys. This is a huge part of why I choose to be independent and self-published; because all I need is a platform and people willing to give me their time, attention, and a small amount of money. In exchange I try to give you as much interaction and entertainment as possible. I've become friends with many of you along the way.

How can I complain about that? I'm building a career thanks to all of you, one where I get to do the thing I love. I've made some strong connections and had a lot of support. I don't know how any entertainer in any genre can ever be anything but thankful and humble in the face of that. Without you guys none of it happens.

I thank you for this a lot, but repetition makes it no less true. You're the best. That's all.