A Very Unofficial Guide to the Tarot: Prelude

This post isn’t /exactly/ about writing, but somewhat about creativity and Tarot and is by a writer friend. It’s the first in a series about the Tarot and I’m told will probably have a lot of swearing. Cheers.

Another Universe, Please

So I’m home from work, and thus have a glass of pomegranate booze (which seems appropriately mythological, and while I’m unsure how much I can drink before I have to spend six months in a chill and dark underworld, I already live in New England so it’s not like that will be new). I have also reset my WP password to be yet another string of obscenities, because oh my God with this letter plus number plus nonalphanumeric symbol plus case changes plus your mom–like, can we give up and just read my retinas already?

ANYHOW.

There was a lot of interest in Drunk Izzy Explains the Tarot, so I’ll be doing that. The Tarot being pretty large, this is gonna be a multi-part post, interspersed with blog tour stuff when Highland Dragon Warrior gets released next week (9/5, and did you notice how I worked that in? Drunk Izzy:…

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Going Solo

For four years now, I’ve slogged it through the mud of alien worlds and earthbound dystopias, planting flags and learning to communicate with the natives. I’ve written about flying men, paranormal investigating women, creatures without gender or with many at once, plying the oceans, the depths of interstellar space and the interstices of our bodies. All of these stories, though, have one thing in common (besides me 😉 ). They’re all been written to stand alongside other stories, other worlds, should to shoulder to build anthologies and magazines.
Now I’m onto two new projects. One is one I’ve mentioned before, but bears repeating. I’ve created a Patreon page, here, where you can follow the creation of my first serialized novel. I’ve been increasing my rate of posting new chapters, and hope to hit one chapter a week in October. (EDIT: I am currently doing one chapter a week, with the next, chapter nine, coming up Tuesday!)
Follow Celus, the wizard’s apprentice, as he tries to carry out his deceased master’s plan to defeat a conclave of evil wizards; Agit, Captain of the Guard for the small town of Greenpond; Meira, newly minted cleric of the god of travel and messengers, and Korl, a Dwarven ironmonger who is more than he looks. Will they save the world or be too consumed by their own worldly distractions to do what must be done?
The other project, about which I am also very excited, is one for Pro Se Productions’ new series. The plan is for one new story to be released each week, with four different main characters taking focus in turns, like the “movie of the week” from TV in decades past. My character is Harridan. Like Monk, Kojak, or Kolchak, she goes by just the one name, investigating the strange and coming up with answers nobody else could find. This first installment, by me (while further episodes will be taken up by others) is slated to come out in October.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep reading, and don’t forget to drop by my Patreon page. Even $1 a month helps me, and gets you access to short stories, some of which haven’t been seen before, others were published in obscure locales, as ell as humorous stories of my being a stay at home dad. At $5 a month, you can read along as Breaking the Word is serialized and see more fun content like character sketches and some material rewards such as bookmarks and post cards when those become available.

Publishing News – July 2017

Hey there, thanks for dropping by. I’ve just added a couple of things to the bibliography page, both reprints, my first two ever! That was something of a milestone. For one of the stories, “Mirrors of Mars,” it’s the first time in electronic form in the wild, and its original run was with a very small press. It’s a Ray Bradbury tribute piece, on his Mars, which was the theme of the original anthology, Dandelions of Mars, from Whortleberry Press. This time around, it’s headlining Digital Science Fiction’s Celestial Beans anthology! My name on the front of a book, instead of being buried in the “and More…” section is also kind of a big deal for me, let alone that my name comes first!
The Patreon is rolling along, with about twenty posts since the start of the month. Mostly, it’s writing updates, keeping people informed about the progress of Breaking the Word, the fantasy novel I’m working on right now, and a couple of character sketches. I also have one stand alone short story in the Dieselpunk/Atompunk genres available for all patrons to read and will be posting the first chapter of Breaking the Word sometime next week. I encourage you to come over and check it out, maybe throw a dollar a month at me for some first looks at new work and to help me keep writing. Thanks!

Let’s Try This One More Time

So here we are, a week and change into my Patreon campaign (which makes it sound like a limited time event, but for now I plan it to go as long as I can produce/ keep breathing, so hopefully, quite a while.) I have a couple of followers at the highest support level enjoying all I have to create and have run a poll asking what genre people want to read. It came up “fantasy,” so I brainstormed on a novel idea I had in the last year but never made time to explore. The next day, I started writing. I will hit seven thousand words tonight, eight if I’m lucky. It’s swimming along nicely, with my planning staying ahead of my writing enough to just keep writing when I get the chance.
In other writing news, I got paid for my second reprint ever! Woo! As soon as I get a link for the book, Fae Wings, I’ll post it on my bibliography page and update that with a couple other works. I also got a rejection today for a story I think it one of, if not the best short stories I’ve written. This was the fifth or six place I sent this story, but at least I got some advice that feels actionable as well as some nice words over all and an invitation to continue submitting. I’m going to look back over that one with the advice in mind and I have two more markets lined up for it before it becomes a Patreon exclusive read for a while and then goes to Amazon. For other writers, how many times do you send out a story before you give up on it?
Thanks for dropping by, don’t forget to check out my Patreon and FB pages!

Charting a New Course

Life is about change. Once upon a time, I was alone. I lived in a pit of a basement apartment working a crazy schedule. I played games on my computer and puttered around with writing. Then, I had a girlfriend and we did things together. She made me go…outside! Then eventually, she told me I was going to be a father, something I never thought I’d be. This cast a whole new light on my writing and I dug in. That doesn’t mean I wrote better, just more. More leads to better, so they say, and in the four years since, I do hope I’ve improved some. I’ve certainly sold a moderate pile of stories, even my first poem, and been invited to work on projects. That is something.

But now things have changed even more drastically, with twins and a house, and even less time. Does less time mean no writing? No. It does mean I need to focus more, make every page count. My days of sending stories to random markets seem to be sliding to a close.

I need another outlet for stories that didn’t meet with gatekeepers’ approval on the first or second shot and a means to see a return on all the hours and days I worked on those pieces.

To this end, I propose a new change. Patreon. Patreon, for those who don’t know, is a website created to help creative people bring their work, be it photography, painting, videos or writing (amongst others) to their audience directly and to create something of a community.

Patreon is a subscription based service, allowing the user to choose from a number of support levels. I will be starting at one dollar per month. You can subscribe, read some of my work before anyone else, see exclusive blog posts, even some readings by me. But there will also be other perks, such as (depending on backer level) port cards, coloring pages, refrigerator magnets and whatever else I can think of, possibly T-shirts. Many will be short/ limited runs. Others will be early runs of promo materials, which, like the fiction, you’ll have first access to, months before it hits Amazon and other markets.

Amazon may allow self publishing, but it is a very impersonal, strictly business, environment. I will utilize Amazon and other online outlets, but I hope to form a team on Patreon who will help me find the best direction for my work. Which will persist? My  steampunk stories? Harder scifi? Fantasy?

I’m looking to start up later this month (*cough*, June 30 is my birthday *cough* a great day to sign up), likely starting with a series of steampunk stories of our friends Aeolus and Chiron. A few of their tales have come out in anthologies, and the plan now is to flesh out the great, extended arcs into novella length collections. There’s also a series of novels on the horizon. I edit and post my unreleased novels from a number of genres, serially, a chapter at a time. I’ll be looking for remarks and suggestions toward improvement, but of course, such aren’t required.

I’ll be back on later this week with an update on recent and upcoming publications and a link for that Patreon page once I’ve set it live. Thanks as always for dropping by and keep reading and writing!

Here’s that link! https://www.patreon.com/JohnAMcColley

“Delve Deep” Dropping

 

A writing compatriot of mine, Jeremy Hicks, has another book in his series coming out soon. If you picked up Capes and Clockwork a while back, or the follow up, Capes and Clockwork 2 to read my stories, you probably enjoyed his steamy super tales as well. Click through for the cover reveal and info about the release: Cycle of Ages Saga: Delve Deep is the third installment of a fantasy series set in Faltyr, a world beset by magic and mayhem. Don’t forget to go back and read books 1: CoA_FindersKeeper01.jpg

and 2:

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Thanks for dropping by. I’ll have some updates on my own work soon and a link to a release for another anthology I’m part of that will be happening July 1 as well.

Welcome to the Apocalypse

You could probably build a pretty decent fortress against zombies or flying piranhas or most other forms of apocalyptic shift in the order of things with all the literature on the subject of the “End of the World.” Of course, most of these are simply the end of the status quo or at worst the end of humanity, but a big ol’ asteroid slamming into the Earth might just be a hard reset for all life on this mud ball. Enter the Apocalypse is a collection of over thirty tales of “The End.” More particularly, this book will cover the beginning of the end. Subsequent books will cover the time of surviving the apocalypse while the characters’ world’s crumbles, and the time of rebuilding for those who survive.

Below is a guest blog post regarding one of my fellow authors’ views on the subject.

Rachel Verkade learned everything from George Romero, Stephen King, John Landis, and Joe Lansdale. She’s currently living in England with her husband, a trio of cats, and a parrot who still thinks she’s a dinosaur. No pigs (yet). Her stories have been featured in Under the Bed, On the Premises, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and Pseudopod, and she writes regular book reviews for The Future Fire.

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“I see a guy with his arm hanging off and one of his eyes eaten out and his skin gone all blue, I know I’m looking at a dead man.”  – The Other White Meat, Rachel Verkade

There’s a song by The Sprites about the apocalypse, and the chorus goes “I know all I need to know; I learned everything from George Romero, Dario Argento, maybe Tom Savini, Stuart Gordon, and Sam Raimi.” That pretty much sums up my experience as well (though I’m honestly not sure what Stuart Gordon’s name is doing there…did John Carpenter not scan?). The apocalypse was going to come in the form of either some virulent plague, or at the hands and jaws of the walking dead. Preferably (at least to my teenage brain) the latter. I think for a lot of lonely, alienated kids like me, the idea of society breaking down an being able to live as and how we choose was a very attractive one, no matter what the risks involved. There’s a childish appeal to it; instead of a clubhouse in the woods we build a zombie-proof base in a shopping mall, replacing the classmates and relatives we hate with our best friends. After the apocalypse we wouldn’t need to worry about the school bullies, about getting into the best college, about hiding our sexualities or justifying our tastes in music and clothes. Compared to all of that, dodging zombies and mutants seems simple.

I guess we all outgrow that phase sooner or later, but the idea does still linger in the brain and the consciousness, and I retained a lot of affection for the zombie apocalypse story. But one of the things that bothered me the most about these stories and movies was that very few of them thought to use animals. To me, animals like saddlehorses and trained dogs would be an incredible asset in such circumstances, especially when the alternative is struggling with unreliable sources of gasoline and blocked roadways, the latter of which were also where the hostile motorcycle gangs and rogue soldiers would be traveling as well. When animals did show up in zombie apocalypse stories, they were a plot point or a piece of set dressing. I wanted to remedy this, particularly with regard to horses, but I really couldn’t think of a new angle.

And then I re-watched “Snatch”. And it hit me that pigs who had become accustomed to eating corpses might be one heck of an asset when the zombies came knocking.

But if Romero was one side of my story’s heritage, the other half is Joe Lansdale. The tale didn’t really come into its own until I found the main character’s voice, and that came straight from Lansdale’s blue collar, Texan ramblings (and I use that word in the most affectionate and respectful way possible). Lansdale was the one who brought the pulp and ultra-violent asthetic of horror back into my viewpoint, and Dieufort and Felicity Freebird would be quite at home in any of his stories or settings, complete with Gouge and Hamstring on chain leashes. And that idea from my childhood held true when I was writing about them; the alienated people making it through the apocalypse by finding each other, and by sticking together, and finding their own way together as the world crumbled around them. Dieufort says at one point, “Neither of us had all that many friends, so we stuck together pretty tight. So that’s why when it all happened, Felicity’s the first person I went looking for. Who else did I have, anyway?” That idea, that fantasy, if you will, held true throughout the entire writing process. And I have to say, I have a lot of affection for these two and their flesh-eating porkers, and I rather hope I can revisit them in the future.

So, the idea originally came from my adolescence, from the tales of survivors huddled in shopping malls and farmhouses, and it was told in the voice of Texas raconteurs and working class joes, a voice I only began to hear in my adulthood.

Thanks George, and Joe too.

 

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Consider coming to hang out at the event linked in both of the above images, hear from some of the authors and the editor who put this whole thing together on April 20, 2017, a week from this post. And of course, don’t be afraid to share this post, the event and buy the book when it comes out. Not only will that help support the horde of starving artists involved, but also the next two books in the series.

 

 

A Brave New Year

So the year is kicking off with lots of activity. I’ve just had a couple of pieces accepted over at Mad Scientist Journal and Whortleberry Press for publication later this year. Since I’ve posted, I also had a few other pieces published and am in the midst of a writing class with the illustrious Cat Rambo (of Beasts of Tabat and other fame).
The twins are approaching four months old (my current excuse for my spotty posting) and beginning to sleep better at night. I have a number of projects in the works, including collections of stories following a general arc a la Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and a novel I started during November.

Payday

For a freelance, one might even call me a hobbyist, author, money comes in dribs and drabs. $20 here, $25 there, a copy of the final antho or magazine issue if I’m lucky. I’ve not really made it up to the pros where my week of work can buy me more than a moderate meal.
One aspect of this is the royalty check. I’ve been at this for a few years now, have a dozen or so tales accumulating a few cents per purchase, but I’ve never received this mythical money.
Until this week.
One of my publishers changed their policy regarding royalty pay out and I heard the electronic coins dropping in my bucket. Much like that first story I sold, it’s exciting in that it’s a step forward for me, new territory, and a bit sad, a weak little thing that adds no weight to my wallet. No velvet ropes are parting just yet, but “slowly by slowly,” as my wife says, I’m getting closer to putting novels out. Maybe I’ll be able to celebrate on something other than the dollar menu.