Sunday, September 30, 2012

[Link] Don’t Put My Book in the African American Section

by N.K. Jemison 

Any bookstore or library which shelves my stuff in AAF has assumed that my work is automatically of interest to black readers — and only black readers — because I’m black. It further assumes that black readers don’t care about the book’s actual content; they’ll just read anything by a black author. Yet further this practice assumes that white readers are too xenophobic to consider reading a book written by someone of another race, so such books shouldn’t even be allowed into their sight.

That’s an insult to my ability and the abilities of writers of color in general, and an insult to readers of every race.

Worse, any bookstore or library that does this is, IMO, perpetuating the same racist assumptions that caused this problem in the first place. It all comes down to the idea of universality — which mostly just means “the ability to write something that appeals to white readers”, in my experience. Before the AAF boom, black readers were assumed to have no interest in books meant to appeal to white readers; hence the assumption that we “didn’t exist”. When our existence was confirmed, black readers were then assumed to be strange ducks, Not Like The Rest Of Us in taste or discernment, fundamentally alien — or Other — in our intelligence and thought processes. And black writers — despite having written mainstream books for generations — were assumed to be incapable of writing for anything other than this strange, alien audience. If “universality” = “whiteness”, well, of course we couldn’t possibly have it. Even if we did. That little racism logic fail issue I mentioned, again.

Sadly, I suspect that whoever stuck my book in that library’s AAF section meant well. Thing is, intentions don’t really matter. The worst racism is perpetuated not through intent, but through thoughtless, unquestioning adherence to old, bad habits. We always need to ask ourselves where those habits come from, and whether it’s a good idea to keep perpetuating them. We need to ask whether they hurt more than they help.

So back to my point. Booksellers and librarians: please don’t put anything I write in the AAF section. Not unless you want to hurt my career. And not unless you want to make it harder, not easier, for black readers to find good, diverse, inclusive stuff in the long run, because you’re hurting the careers of many black writers who could help make that happen. And not unless you think that nothing written by a black person should ever be read by anyone non-black.

If the “Fantasy” notation on the spine doesn’t convince you not to shelve me there… if the fact that I got published by the SFF imprint (Orbit) of a mainstream publisher (Hachette) doesn’t convince you… if the content doesn’t convince you… if this whole long rant has fallen on deaf ears… then please listen at least to this: I don’t want it there.

Continue reading:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

[Link] 25 Things Writers Should Know About Theme

by Chuck Wendig

1. Every Story Is An Argument

Every story’s trying to say something. It’s trying to beam an idea, a message, into the minds of the readers. In this way, every story is an argument. It’s the writer making a case. It’s the writer saying, “All of life is suffering.” Or, “Man will be undone by his prideful reach.” Or “Love blows.” Or, “If you dance with the Devil Wombat, you get cornholed by the Devil Wombat.” This argument is the story’s theme.

2. The Elements Of Story Support That Argument

If the theme, then, is the writer’s thesis statement, then all elements of the story — character, plot, word choice, scene development, inclusion of the Devil Wombat — go toward proving that thesis.

3. Unearthed Or Engineered

The theme needn’t be something the writer is explicitly aware of — it may be an unconscious argument, a message that has crept into the work like a virus capable of overwriting narrative DNA, like a freaky dwarven stalker hiding in your panty drawers and getting his greasy Norseman stink all over your undergarments. A writer can engineer the theme — building it into the work. Or a writer can unearth it — discovering its tendrils after the work is written.

Continue reading:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Poetry Corner #2 -- Gomer

A more "pulpy" or perhaps more "noir-ish" poem. Another one I'm quite fond of. 
My poetry and early short stories are available in Gomer and Other Early Works.


Wiping a tear from her reflection
in the dull light
of a 60 watt bulb in the bathroom
of Room 38-B,
she sighs, and slides her stockings
again over her knees.

Through the clatterous chattering,
the dead blue light
thrown from the TV screen,
Babylon sits,
reaches across the tussled sheets
for another cigarette.

His voice calls with an unearthly clarity,
hiss-like and striking,
"Next Thursday, hon'?"
a regular appointment,
marked in ink.

The blue and yellow blinks
from the neon advertisement
cascade through the closed shades,
flashing one word
dully against the glass:

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#234) -- Graphic Novels/Comic Books

What's the difference between writing a
graphic novel and writing a comic book?

For starters, the most obvious difference is that a graphic novel is longer, but that doesn't just mean it takes up more pages. It also means it takes up more plotting. It takes up more thought for building up your characters. It takes up more time to let your story unfold in a way that it might not be able to in a monthly comics that needs it's own "3 bangs and a cliffhanger" each month. (Even if it's being collected later as a trade, because a trade collection is a different animal than a graphic novel, though the two are often marketed under the same name.)

When writing a graphic novel, you must think about it the same way a writer thinks of writing a novel. A monthly comic is akin to a serialized group of short stories and must meet those criteria, but a graphic novel is far more reaching than that. Sub-plots, minor characters, build-up scenes, segues, denouement, etc. are all going to demand your attention in a graphic novel, and you'll have the time and the room to play with them -- providing their the best tools to use in your story.

My favorite part of crafting a longer-form work though is that I don't have to follow the arbitrary "22 pages ending on a cliffhanger" rule. In an original graphic novel, if I need a 3-page chapter, that's fine. I'll add it. If a chapter needs to go into 28 pages, that's not a problem either. Because the book isn't designed to be read monthly. It's a take a bite at a time to devour the elephant kind of experience instead.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tales of The Rook Volume Two!

The Rook first took flight into the world of New Pulp with the release of his debut story, “Lucifer’s Cage,” in 2006. Since then, he’s starred in six volumes of his own adventures, plus a comic book adventure in All-Star Pulp Comics # 1. The character has become a New Pulp standard-bearer and is recognized both inside and out of the ever-growing field. A favorite of many artists, The Rook has been depicted by the likes of George Sellas, Frank Brunner, Norm Breyfogle, Ed Mironiuk and Anthony Castrillo.

Earlier this year, Tales of The Rook was released to great critical and commercial acclaim, debuting at # 1 on the New Pulp Best Seller List. Now comes of the follow-up volume, which will see print in 2013 from the Reese Unlimited imprint of Pro Se Press.

Rook creator Barry Reese says, “All of the authors who took part in Volume One did a wonderful job but I wanted to continue mixing things up, getting different visions of the character and his universe. To achieve that, I only sent out invitations to authors who didn’t take part in the previous book — and I think we’ve got one heck of a lineup!”

Pro Se Editor-in-Chief Tommy Hancock, who took part in the first volume, shares that same belief. “There’s nothing like a great idea. Except when that great idea has enough legs to come around again. Pro Se is ecstatic about Tales of the Rook Volume 2 and the ever growing collection of writers leaving their stamp on this iconic character.’

Lined up for Volume Two:

Russ Anderson, author of We Keep the Cars Running and the editor of the How the West Was Weird series.

Jim Beard, author of Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker and Captain Action – Riddle of the Glowing Men.

Adam Lance Garcia, author of The Green Lama – Unbound and The New Adventures of Richard Knight.

James Palmer,author of Slow Djinn and the mastermind behind Mechanoid Press.

Sean Taylor, author of The Ruby Files and Gene Simmons Dominatrix.

Creator Barry Reese will also be contributing a brand-new Rook story.

Accompanying art is by George Sellas and is the cover of the Pro Se re-release of The Rook Volume Two

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#233) -- Comic Book Arc

How long should a 'typical' comic book story arc be?

This ran 8 pages.
This ran 6 issues.
For starters, I don't believe that anymore there is such a thing as a typical comic book arc. The days of the single issue story are most likely long behind us. The marketing opportunities that have come with the trade collection and the graphic novel (which are not the same thing) have perhaps forever changed the playing field.

However, I don't believe that should change the nature of both a story arc and an individual issue having a solid beginning, middle and end. I'm still a big fan of good stories, regardless of them being eight pages, ten pages, three issues, four issues or six, just as long as they clearly pace themselves in a way that keeps me reading and give me a solid sense of beginning, middle and end.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SWW Publishing looking for unpublished writers!

SWW Publishing is doing a series of anthologies with 100 percent previously unpublished writers. One for horror, one for Sci Fi, and one for Fantasy. If you know any hungry writers, pass it on. They can get the official guidelines at

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#232) -- Comic Book Panels

Tell us a little about your approach to writing a comic book panel. 

Art by Martheus Wade
Okay. There are several different approaches writers use when describing a panel in a full-script format. (And that's not even including the plot-style format.) Let's go over those first, at least the ones I can remember.

The Movie Director:
This writer covers everything from the "camera angle" to the lighting and gives the artist almost no free rein to interpret the panel. Expect to see words like "panoramic" and "bird's eye view" and "worm's eye view" a lot in the script.

The Comic Book Editor:
This writer decides exactly how the borders of the panel will look and whether it will be a full-width panel taking up the middle third of the page, etc. He or she may also provide drawings of the suggested page layout.

Art by Jim Ritchey III
The Literary Maestro:
This writer uses prose in the manner of the great authors and reveals a character's motivations and past events leading up to this panel and how it matters in the grand scheme of the character's live from this point on. Read any of Devin Grayson's scripts to see this approach. They're amazing pieces of literature in and of themselves sometimes.

The Minimalist: This writer is pretty much bare bones with the panel description. He or she simply tells what happens and leaves the camera angles, mood, tone, page layout, etc. to the artist to decide. Chuck Dixon is a shining example of this approach.

Art by Richard Kohlrus
Now to answer the question on a more personal level. I am a blend of all of these charming folks, though my default tends to be the minimalist. Whether I'm a movie director or a minimalist can depend on whether I'm working with an artist I've worked with before or writing for an artist who may not know my quirks and may need more information. When I have a scene that's particularly important in a book that's not a straight-up action book, I'll sometimes slip into being the literary maestro for a panel or two. And when I've got a certain look in mind for a creator-owned book, don't be surprised to find me become the comic book editor for some of the important pages.

The trick in each of these cases (or for each of these writers, one might say) is to trust the artist to interpret and provide the script as a guideline, regardless of the type of approach, and not as a set-in-stone monument to your ability to create a story. The artists with whom I work often will improve on my scripts and ask me about rearranging page elements or changing the size or panels or using other, far better camera angles. It's my job to trust them and make sure the book is a partnership.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In the Red -- Are You In?


Alicia Justice , Wunderkind PR, cell: 513.900.7599

Joshua Young, Wunderkind PR

Are You In?

In The Red is a sleazy, down-and-dirty romp through the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And demons. It’s a gritty, fast-paced page-turner that leaves you satisfied, yet still begging for more.
-- S.H. Roddey, horror writer: Haunted, Devil’s Daughter

Author Selah Janel releases her new book, In The Red, a story of a wanna be rock star.  Stuck in a rut, Jeremiah Kensington just happens to find someone to represent him and a pair of boots to help his image.  But these are no ordinary pair of boots, no, these are legendary boots.  These boots control his movements and bring audiences to their knees. Jeremiah soon gets everything he wants, but what will happen when the boots start to take control?

In The Red by Selah Janel (Kindle ebook; No Boundaries Press: $3.99; 321 pages; B0094K5V4C) will enthrall readers from the time they read the first words till they read the last. Now available in ebook, this tale of reaching for a dream but it’s not everything you thought it would be, can be enjoyed by individual readers and reading groups everywhere.

Book Summary: Live like a rock star. Dance ‘til you die. Are you in?

What kind of a rock star lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere and plays at weddings and funerals? That’s what Jeremiah Kensington is thinking after an unsuccessful bar gig one night. Then Jack Scratch comes into his life, ready to represent him and launch him to stardom. Jack can give him everything: a new band, a new name, a new life, a new look, and new boots…although they aren’t exactly new. They once belonged to The One, a rocker so legendary and so mysterious that it’s urban legend that he used black magic to gain success. But what does Jeremiah care about urban legend? And it’s probably just coincidence that the shoes make him dance better than anyone, even if it doesn’t always feel like he’s controlling his movements. It’s no big deal that he plunges into a world of excess and decadence as soon as he puts the shoes on his feet, right?

But what happens when they refuse to come off?

Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.

 She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’ and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

In The Red by Selah Janel
Ebook: 321 pages
Publisher: No Boundaries Press
On-sale: August 30, 2012
A SIN: B0094K5V4C

*Please contact Alicia Justice, Jitterbug PR, cell: 513.900.7599, email: to book an interview with the author or to request a copy of In The Red for review.

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#231) -- Comics Scripts

Do you have a link to a comic book script sample online?

Absolutely. It's right here:

This is one I put together when I was working as managing editor at Campfire Graphic Novels when we wanted to get the writers on one page with format and help the writers who hadn't written in a comic book script format before.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Killing or Kissing the Muse -- Writers on Finding Inspiration

The muse.

As our ongoing metaphor for inspiration, she's been the subject of many songs and stories, best portrayed I think in Neil Gaiman's amazing comic Sandman. But I digress. Calliope (the muse of epic poetry) and her sisters have been made a virtue by some, a vice by others, and by others merely ignored as an urban legend for creators.

To find out how today's hard-working writers feel about the muse and finding inspiration, particularly in today's busy lifestyles where one is most likely a "writer and" -- not merely having the luxury of just being a writer -- we asked.

And here's what they had to say. Enjoy!

Do you find yourself more inspired to write during busy-ness and the rush of life or when you've had an opportunity to slow things down and focus your thoughts?

W. Peter Miller: I tend to write in the evening when there is nothing else going on and no distractions.

Nancy Hansen: Good heavens, I live in the midst of constant turmoil, so if I had to wait for the world around me to be quiet to be inspired to write I'd never get anything done. The urge to make up stories is always there for me, no matter what else is going on or whatever I'm stuck doing. I'll admit it's a heckuva lot easier to hear the whispers in my head when things are less chaotic and demanding on the outside, but I don't often have that luxury. I've learned to make use of every little moment to get something plotted out. A hundred words of a partial scene wrestled onto a page on a crazy, hectic day is better than throwing up your hands in defeat every time it gets the least bit noisy. I will tend to zone out during mundane chores, boring gatherings, dull conversations, and right before falling asleep; and I do some of my best story planning then. I get whatever I can scribbled down somewhere, or just repeat it over and over until it 'sticks', and then when I sit at the keyboard at last, I'm ready to go.

Lee Houston Jr.: Personally, I prefer things quiet so I can concentrate upon the work. During the busy times, I'm always longing to write, for writing is far better than some of the things I'm stuck doing; and when it's quiet, the thoughts just flow.

Jim Comer: "Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind." The former. 

Bobby Nash: Things slow down? In all honesty, it doesn't matter to me. Sure, it is harder to work if you're being constantly interrupted. Breaking the flow makes it sometimes all but impossible to get started again. That's a risk, but unless you lock yourself in a soundproof room with no phone or internet then distractions will happen. Deadlines make for great inspiration. Especially as they draw closer.

Krista Cagg: A little of both.  I discovered while in art school that I work really well under pressure, i.e. an approaching deadline.  However, there are times when having a moment to focus without distractions or stress is imperative.  Sometimes, producing under a hectic moment keeps me from over-thinking what I'm writing.  This can lead to some truly awesome stuff that was uninfluenced by the desire to make it perfect.  While certain details of what I'm writing are greedy little buggers that demand that I put my full attention to them so that I don't forget something. 

Joe Bonadonna: Outline and first draft: when things slow down and I can focus. After that, I can do subsequent drafts at an AC/DC concert.

Don Thomas: I have three different modes.  Writing, Editing, and managing creative projects down the pipeline towards completion.  Usually on most days I am spending time doing one of those three things.  Generally I just try grab whatever time I can for each every single day.

Charles Berton: I need to be away from the hustle and bustle of life’s stress, preferably in my own little oasis, either early in the morning or late at night when my alpha waves are closest to the sleep state, yet awake. If it’s late at night, a nice glass of wine helps. Early in the morning, coffee helps.

Josh Dahl: For me it is in the busy-ness of everyday life. A great idea recently came to me while watching the suds over-take my laundry at the laundromat. 

Elizabeth Donald: If I'm reading a good book, my ability to write fiction vanishes. Apparently my imagination is finite, and if it's too bound up in someone else's story, it bleeds into my own work. I killed some time this week with an old Arthur Hailey favorite, and suddenly I couldn't write my science fiction adventure for a few days - my brain was full of power plants and terrorism. I tried reading genres close to what I write, but it was no good - reading Mira Grant or Jonathan Maberry while working on my own zombies just makes my work read like a mash-up of Grant and Maberry, and that's an odd mix, let me tell you.

As I said before, when I'm actually writing I blank out the world with music. I have a different playlist for each book, keeping the style of the music appropriate to the story. When I'm writing nonfiction, I listen to instrumental classical music -- if it's got words, they can't be in English. I am unfortunately monolingual, so if they're singing in Latin or German, it's not going to bleed into my writing.

However, movies provide great stimulation. I can't write with a movie going, but if I watch a movie that has a tone and pace similar to what I'm writing, that mood holds when I turn on the laptop. It's not required, but it helps. Conversely, I can't watch a romantic comedy if I'm writing a zombocalypse, and I can't watch a horror movie if I'm writing a tragic love story.

In the end, though, the best inspiration comes from the people I know. I understand there are writers who live in seclusion, who see no one and speak to no one and draw their characters from the well of their minds. I don't know how they do that. To me, being among other people and observing them is the best way to develop character and voice. I think it was Stephen King who wrote that compared to the dullest human being on Earth, the most vibrant character in a book is but a bag of bones. Every human being is the hero of his own story, and has his own quirks and random thoughts and beliefs and motivations. Watching people, listening to people, that's the best inspiration I can find.

William D. Prystauk: There is no rhyme or reason. Ideas can explode in my mind at any moment and without provocation. However, it does seem that my subconscious releases them at semi-regular intervals during busy times. This may occur because I'm side-tracked and not focusing on a particular story or tale -- then, it blossoms.
Kathleen Bradean: I try to write at least four days a week. No one ever gets a perfect time to do anything. All you can do is carve out your writing time and use it no matter what is going on in your real life.

Rusty Gilligan: Animation, and for me, older comic works... when comics were really comics. I find that today's comics lack originality.

Van Allen Plexico: If there ever comes a single moment where I'm *not* inspired to write, I will let you know immediately!

Raydeen Graffam: My ideas tend to happen when i'm busy... so I have to jot them down and come back to them later. If there's a key phrase that strikes me, I try to get that down in my notes... to help trigger the 'rest of the scene/story.'

Roland Mann: Definitely slow down and focus on my thoughts. My mind doesn't stop working during the busyness, but I don't have time to actually write it down. That's what I like the slowed down pace.

Josh Aterovis: My creative process definitely works best with few distractions. I need to focus. When I had the luxury of writing full-time, I was much more productive.

Lance Stahlberg: The creative process really requires that you slow down. I would think it's the same for everyone. Inspiration could strike at any time. You could find new material to include in your story at your day job, on errands, or wherever. Jot down notes if you have to and save them for later. But the act itself of collecting all those ideas into a readable story requires a calmer, more relaxing atmosphere where you can sit, chill, and focus. If your mind isn't open and in creative mode, I find it hard to imagine that anyone could string ideas together very coherently.

Steve DeWinter: When things around me are moving fast, my imagination kicks into high gear to keep up with the flurry of sensory input. When things slow down, I can then focus those ideas into a cohesive blob.

From which wells do you find yourself drawing most of your inspiration, video stimulation like movies and TV, audio, or from reading the works of other writers?

W. Peter Miller: All those things go into the well of stuff that percolates around my brain.

Nancy Hansen: My inspiration antennae are always out. I learned a long time ago to mine the world around me, and then take whatever raw materials I find, refine them, bend them, shape them, stick them in the forge of creativity until they're red hot, pound them out, quench them, and tack them to the rest of the tale. I am primarily a visual thinker, so I see pictures and sometimes entire scenes when I am imagining a story. Even my dreams are cinematic, they have color images and a musical soundtrack. When I write, I like to have some background music on that will work with the type of mood I'm trying to get across, so I have favorite stations to listen to or make up specific playlists for a particular type of scene. The ideas will already be there, I just need get to that zone where I can string them together into a coherent whole.

I do a lot of research and browsing for pictures, and depending on what I'm working on, use them to springboard off into my own visionary world. Sometimes I will read about or witness a situation and it just resonates with me, and then months or even years later I will craft a scene with a similar concept. Same thing with characters; I have based more than one of my most beloved ones on people I know, have met, or someone who has made the news.

Talking to other writers or people interested in what I'm doing helps immensely too. I can't tell you how many story ideas came out of email or online bulletin board exchanges -- quite a few where I had to copy & paste my own ideas into a file before I hit SEND because in complaining about a troublesome scene I just worked it all out on the page! Many times the other person has offered that one little key idea that pops the entire thing open before you. The internet has been a wonderful resource for finding other frustrated writing recluses.

Lee Houston Jr.: I've never really taken a full accounting of just where all my ideas come from. I'm more happy that they arrive and give me new tangents and possibilities to be creative with. But I also don't limit my resources either. I've drawn from real life, movies, television, music, the classics, and anything else that gave me pause to think. The inspiration for the background of poor  Koh'lin, who becomes the superhero Alpha, was actually derived from a pinball game!

Jim Comer: The latter, with weird ideas sprouting almost of themselves from the leaf litter of my mind's Niggle compost. Thanks JRRT.

Bobby Nash: There's an old saying that I hate, but it fits-- "Six of one, a half dozen of the other." Inspiration is a tricky beast. It comes from nowhere and everywhere all at once. Sometimes it's something you hear or see on TV, other times reading something will spark an idea, then there are times when I can see a total stranger in a store or mall and my brain creates a character around his or her look, and let us not forget those beautiful moments when creative ideas pop into your brain unbidden and fully formed.  Is there a well of story ideas just floating around out there? Maybe. Who knows? I can't explain it, but those moments are magical.

Krista Cagg: Music.  I grew up in a very musically talented family: my father having his masters in music, my mother had been studying to be an operetta.  They raised me to appreciate all kinds of music from The Beattles/The Who to Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance.  I create playlists on my iPod for the characters in role playing games.  Theme playlists named appropriately: Angry or Sad.  Sometimes an entire story will come from just one piece of instrumental music, such as my novelette: The Blackest Rose, inspired by the song titled the same by Midnight Syndicate.  Not everyone understands why I choose the music I do for my playlists.  For instance, Mika is on my playlist for The William's Hunt, my steampunk time pirates series.  They give me a queer look and ask "...Mika?"  To which I answer "Fuck yeah, Mika!"

Joe Bonadonna: Old movies, sometimes music, and reading pulp fiction from the 1920s thru 1950s.

Don Thomas: Movies, some scenes and setting that for some reason resonated with me.  That scene when Luis first appears in The Town that Demanded Recompense when he's confronted by the four bandits and executes all four with lightning quickness?  That had origins with a scene in Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, with a dash of Clint Eastwood playing Josey Wales and saying "Are you going to pull those pistols or whistle Dixie", and sprinkle of the any classic Star Wars Jedi surrounded by soon to be limbless mooks scenes.  They are all essentially the same visually powerful scene to which doesn't really need a lot of dialogue, but clearly establishes to normal folk that individual can kill so easily it could even be accomplished reflexively. (

So I look at those scenes, like the heart of what they are visually portraying and it inspires me to write my own version.  Some books I read can also can work to inspire me in different ways as well.  Especially when it comes to types of settings and genre.  While music is usually playing in the background, my own eclectic soundtrack at any given moment.  As far as television and its inspiring capabilities, perhaps to someone out there.  At this point in my life the most inspiring thing writing wise that has ever happened to me which included a television was the moment I stopped watching TV all together a handful of years ago.

Charles Berton: Inspiration, for me, seems to appear out of nowhere, but I know what I feed my mind, and, over time, it does impact what comes out later as inspiration. Although I enjoy writing fiction, I rarely enjoy reading it. For me, non-fiction is the thing that informs my fiction, as I like to bring as much realism to the table as possible. It’s self help books, science and history books, science and news shows and talk radio for me.

Josh Dahl: From reading what other people write. Also, of course, just from living life.

Elizabeth Donald: I suppose it depends on which kind of inspiration we mean. If you mean the lightning flash of a brilliant idea that will be a fantastic story, it seems those happen much more often when I am quite busy. Those little random thoughts that flit into my mind seem to come in city council meetings, at the grocery store or during church. I once scribbled a story idea on my service bulletin when I was supposed to be listening to the sermon, and lightning has yet to strike. However, the kind of inspiration that leads to long writing sessions.... that requires focus, even to the point where I must have earbuds in to listen to music that acts as white noise, drowning out the world. It seems the older I get, the more easily I am distracted by a thousand different things while writing.

Still, the best inspiration doesn't come when I'm busy or when I'm focused. The best inspiration comes in that gray twilight between awake and asleep, that moment in the silent darkness when I am drifting to sleep. It's like the synapses open up a few spare Pandora's boxes in my imagination, and random images and ideas flit across my consciousness. They're the best Wonderland I could have, and if I wake myself enough to scribble them in the notebook beside my bed, they fall apart like butterfly wings. That's the price, I suppose.

William D. Prystauk: Although I love reading fiction, much inspiration comes from reading fact based tales. Otherwise, movies provide most inspiration for a tale. I think that has to do with so many factors in a movie that can provoke an emotional response: visual atmosphere, dialogue, body language and music.

Kathleen Bradean: It's a combination of everything. You take in all this information and stimulation then pick out the parts that light up your imagination, deconstruct them, recombine them, and create something that may or may not have recognizable influences even to yourself. I've been inspired by talking to other writers, by theater, reading, TV, music, and travel.

Rusty Gilligan:
I find, for me, I write all the time regardless of the timing. Life provides me with great fodder for stories. Also, I really can't afford to wait for 'inspiration' to strike... pro jobs can't wait.

Van Allen Plexico: I think that movies and TV add lots of little bits of ideas constantly -- character ideas, types of weapons, the look of uniforms or costumes, snappy dialogue ideas, etc etc.  But there's no doubt that my "big idea" inspiration comes from books.  Sometimes it's reading a book and being just lit up by the great idea or concept or setting or story; other times it's simply seeing a well-packaged book on the bookstore shelf, with a look that's so appealing that it inspires a brand new idea whole-cloth in my mind.  I'm totally inspired by superior book design, cover art, cover copy text, and the like.

Raydeen Graffam: History books... lots and lots of history books.

Roland Mann:
Occasionally film, but mostly books. And it's either really good books or really bad books. The really good ones I want to emulate, the really bad ones, I wonder HOW the heck they got published (and then give the ever-popular "I can do better than that!)

Josh Aterovis: I think all inspiration is a combination of many factors.

Lance Stahlberg: Both. I might see the way that another writer handles a story idea, or a character archetype, or whatever, and think, “Okay yeah that's kinda cool. But what if...” Or I might draw inspiration from the way a really solid writer weaves the story, or from their style. Those times I'd think more along the lines of “I want to tell stories like this.” Not in terms of aping their plot or character ideas, but being able to tell a good story in a certain genre in as entertaining a way.

I'm a pretty visual thinker, so I've always been drawn to watching movies and TV. I tend to like stories on the small screen more, in the same way that I like an ongoing comic or book series with bigger stories to tell than you can fit in a movie. My dream gig would be writing for licensed properties, playing in their sandbox, bringing new aspects of their universe to life based off things I've seen.

Even when gaining inspiration for more original ideas, actually seeing something always helps stimulate the imagination. I'd see something in a cool scene and start to wonder how I would describe something like that, how it would fit in a different setting, or what other kind of fun I could have with it.

Steve DeWinter: Everything inspires my writing. If I am having a tough time with an action scene, I will put on an action movie on DVD and will usually be given the solution during that movie. If I feel my dialogue and descriptions are lacking, I will read my favorite authors to get my mind back into the flow of well written prose.

Do you feel that the longing for inspiration is somewhat overblown, i.e., that working writers don't really have the luxury of waiting for "the muse" and must create their own inspiration?

W. Peter Miller: I do a lot of driving during the course of my day and those half hours here and there are often rich with story ideas, fixes, characters, etc. Also, sitting down and starting to press the keys forces inspiration. The notion of a muse is false for me. I just have to start typing.

Nancy Hansen: Thomas Edison said genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration, and that I have to agree with. After you've written for enough years, you don't spend a lot of time staring at a blinking cursor wondering what to write because you know how to turn on the magick channel. I've started many a story by simply typing out a challenging sentence and then built the entire rest of it around that. Other than resolving technical issues or having to learn how to handle a new genre, I don't spend a lot of down time waiting for the muse to kick in. If the muse is that lazy, I kick that one to the curb and go find another, more ambitious muse.

And don't kid yourself that a working writer is so busy meeting deadlines, he or she can't afford to be creative. I am now a working writer too, and in my experience, the more you use the creativity muscle, the bigger and more powerful it becomes. That well is not going to go dry unless you stop hauling things from it and convince yourself you don't have anything left to give. If I'm struggling with a story (it happens) then I go look at some related pictures or set it aside and work on another one for a while. If you fall off the wagon, catch the next one going by and keep pushing for the frontier.

Lee Houston Jr.: Muses are important, and their contributions cannot be denied, for inspiration can strike at any time. That's why I always make sure that if I'm not near my computer when an idea appears, I have pen and paper handy so I can write it down.

Unfortunately muses also operate upon their own schedules, which don't always coincide with yours. So sometimes I just let my mind wander and see what it comes up with on its own. The late Gardner Fox is said to have drawn a lot of his story ideas from (day)dreams. But as long as the ideas keep coming, does it matter what the source?

Jim Comer: This is a learned skill as with any other. Look at Will Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

Bobby Nash: Waiting for inspiration to strike might work for some writers, but not for me. I've discovered that my biggest obstacle to overcome in the writing process is motivation more so than inspiration. The hardest thing for me is to sit down and get started. Once I finally put butt in chair and start writing I can generally get back into the rythym of what I'm writing fairly quickly. If I only write when inspiration strikes then I would probably still be working on my first novel instead of my 5th.

Krista Cagg: These days? Absolutely. We don't really have the luxury of lounging around a cafe in a writers' commune waiting for that inspiration to hit then spend four years chiseling out a masterpiece. I believe that we would all like to be able to do that, but we prefer to pay rent, bills and other such necessities that modern day had yoked us with.

Joe Bonadonna: I prefer to have the Muse come and inspire me. She's been a pretty faithful gal, and even when I must hunker down to create my own inspiration, she will sometimes pop in to say hello and toss me a little treat that paves the way for me. My Muse does like to be wined and dined, though. I have no problem romancing her.

Don Thomas: Writer's cannot sit around waiting to be inspired on a particular project.  The very act of working on the writing on a particular project should be enough inspiration to enable the writer to work towards said project's completing.  If you say you are going to work on a particular story, or someone hires you to work on a particular story, even if the writer is not compellingly inspired, the story still has to be written. 

The awe inspiring epiphany writing wise which comes suddenly crashing down from the heavens like a multipurpose godsend filling the writer with superhuman resolve and determination to no matter what see that project to full executed completion?  That's a myth working writers tell little baby writers right alongside the one's about Cinderella at the ball, Beauty taming the beast, and the Hooker with the heart of gold.

Charles Berton: My definition of an artist is someone who remains open to inspiration, and inspiration is no stranger to artists. Therefore, it’s nothing that needs to be fretted over. It comes when you’re driving your car, in the shower, in the middle of the night or when you’re doing mundane tasks like mowing the lawn. If inspiration does not come to you quite regularly, you’re in the wrong business if the business you’re pursuing is art, and that includes creative writing. To clarify my above answers, #1 is when I do actual writing, and #3 is when I get the biggest ideas for when I do write at a later time.

Josh Dahl: Waiting for "the muse" is the luxury of an artist. A craftsman sits down and gets to work."

Elizabeth Donald: My muse is an evil wench who has been on vacation for about a year and a half. The kiss of the muse is seductive beyond all reason; it's that moment when the story takes over and writes itself, growing and changing and you're just taking dictation from the madwoman inside your head. But we can't sit around and wait for a muse; that moment is too fickle and too rare. Oh, when the muse is singing, you better grab on and ride as long as you can. Nothing should interfere, not food or sleep or even sex. Well, maybe.

But most of the time, writing is work. Harlan Ellison tells us quite vehemently that art is supposed to be hard; if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. Creation is an act of sheer will, but we are not ethereal gods spinning universes on a fresco; we're bricklayers, building worlds one sentence at a time. To be a writer is to be a worker bee, trundling back and forth every day and putting words on the page. It's a job, just like any other. So every day, it's butt in chair, hands on keyboard, and let's make some words.

William D. Prystauk: Definitely overblown. As a former marketer, I learned to write on demand. Yes, I can do this for storytelling as well, but I prefer to let a story unfold on its own. As for a muse, never had one. Maybe writers should just be a bit more patient and trust their subconscious to do the work.

Kathleen Bradean: I think you can set the stage for inspiration to strike by giving your brain something to work with. That means writing even when you aren't necessarily feeling it. That being said, I have moments of inspiration that seem to come out of nowhere. I love that! But sit around waiting for it? I'd never finish anything.

Rusty Gilligan: I find that artists/writers waiting for inspiration aren't very realistic. In today's market you don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration when editors and deadlines are looming. To work 'professionally' you have to be professional and be ready to work when an editor tells you. It would be like telling the snow to stop falling because you don't want to build a snowman lol.

Van Allen Plexico: I have a backlog of probably two dozen novel/series ideas and seem to add new ones faster than I can write the existing ones.  I don't need a muse; I need three clones who can type very, very quickly.

Cindy Spencer Pape: Sometimes, the best ideas come when you barely have time to jot them down. Other times, contemplation can really spark creativity. I've learned to just run with it, whenever I can.

Roland Mann: Absolutely, yes. Writers write... it's what we must do... or have very little to show for it. I know more "writers" who claim to write but almost never put hands to the keyboard... I call them talkers!

Josh Aterovis: I think everybody has a different process. Some writers are able to push through and train their muse to show up on demand, and others may not be so lucky. Some writers are more disciplined, while other write when the muse shows up. I'm a combination of both. When I used to have a more structured writing schedule (Man, I miss those days...), I often had days where I would sit in front of the computer screen for hours with no muse in sight. Other days, my fingers couldn't feel up with the muse. I always found that on those days with no inspiration, working on something else, something less creative (editing, marketing, some other project) would suddenly facilitate some sort of breakthrough, and I'd be back to the writing board in no time.

Lance Stahlberg: For people in general who just aspire to write, it's understandable. For a professional writer, it is way overblown. If someone says anything along the lines of “longing for inspiration”, then I can't help but wonder if their goal of wanting to be a writer is realistic. I've had people ask where I get my ideas, and I really have no answer. It's just a natural occurrence.

Writers, almost by definition, are more receptive to inspiration than the average Joe. While true, muses can be fickle wenches, and inspiration may be elusive at times, if it really takes so long to come up with an idea that you long for the ability... then either you're not really a writer, or something else is going on that you have to work out to get creative again. Writer's block is very real, so long as it doesn't become a crutch.

There have been many submission calls that I've passed on because I had no clue what story I could possibly tell along the lines of what the publisher wants. But when given the opportunity to write in a setting that does interest me, it never takes all that long to come up with a story outline to build a pitch around. It can't. If it takes too long, you miss the deadlines and thus the opportunity and you end up not writing at all.

The details may take a lot longer to fall together, but the initial inspiration itself is never all that far out of reach. But even then, when you're on a deadline, you can't afford to sit around too long waiting for inspiration to strike. And if it takes so long, then yeah a writer will figure out a way to summon it. No one really “creates” inspiration so much as they become more receptive to it.

Steve DeWinter: As a working writer, I have come to recognize that the "muse" is part of the folklore and legends of how writer's write. We reference all the funny and witty anecdotes from famous authors that all point to the shenanigans of the muse. But on a day-to-day basis, the  "muse" never helped anyone complete a project. That took hard work and dedication, something the "muse" obviously fears.

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#230) -- Recurring Themes

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

First let me state that I agree with author John Gardner concerning theme:  "By theme here we mean not a message -- a word no good writer likes applied to his work -- but the general subject, as the theme of an evening of debates may be World Wide Inflation."

Themes is the word, it's got groove, it's got meaning...
I have a shallow well of only a few common themes from which I draw typically, including :
  • marriage vows ("Posthumous," "Death Imitates Art")
  • betrayal ("Die Giftig Lilie," "Lucky Strikes")
  • perseverance ("Dance with the Devil")
  • righteousness like filthy rags ("Death with a Hint of Bronze," "Farewell")
  • self sacrifice ("Limits," "Fishnet Angel," "Sin and Error Pining")
  • living a lie ("Pleasant Valley Sunday," "How Does One Know")
  • the quest for family ("Cherry Hill," "It's Christmas, Baby Please Come Home," "Angels of our Better Nature," "Farm Fresh")
  • true learning only comes through loss ("Once Upon a Time," "Take My Hand, Take My Whole Life Too (A Love Story)," "The Other, As Just As Fair")
  • redemption ("The Ghost of Christmas Past," "Nor Doth He Sleep")
  • the female as hero ("The Most Beautiful Dream," "Foolish Notions," "The Other, As Just As Fair," "Lake Jennifer Blair")

Even so I don't typically approach a story with a theme in hand and try to beat it into place with a hammer.

I prefer to let it develop naturally as the story progresses because the characters lend themselves to it and because of who I am as the writer creating the tale as it filters through my imagination.

So, somehow, these are the issues I guess that define me as a writer, and I guess they always manage to sneak into my stories in spite of my trying to write around them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Poetry Corner #1 -- More of the Same

Poetry? Yes, poetry. I write it occasionally. Here's one I still particularly like. Deal with it. 

My poetry and early short stories are available in Gomer and Other Early Works.

More of the Same

He loosens the tie clutching his neck,
The extra pounds squeezed into rolls by the net of cheap silk.
He hates this place, these people,
The pettiness, the way they lock him
Into their definitions -- not his, never his.
A shepherd? Ha! More a fool.
And he secretly hates them more as he rises
To the pulpit
And preaches love.

And the same…
And the same…

She glares at the toddler,
His face and clothes strewn with the smudged
Colors of strained carrots and peas.
She sits, turns away, stares at the wall,
Counts to ten backwards, but her anger grows.
She would like nothing more
-- At this moment -- than to add to the red streaks
Across his legs, his back, his buttocks,
But she only sits and wishes.

And the same…
And the same…

He lies alone, watching the circle-once-circle-twice,
Then up-under and pull-tight as his lover dresses for work.
He is a pariah, an evil thing,
Not deserving of such love as his lover gives,
Told worse, much worse, by the ones
Supposed to care, to embrace, to forgive.
And he hates: them, their religion, their hypocritical piety,
Their words that tell him he is less than human.
His solace is his lover's warmth.

And the same…
And the same…

She is a fraud, she tells herself,
And she files the thought away
With the oath she studied, practiced, and abandoned
When the money became more important,
When the people became names and numbers,
When the practices became mundane exercises.
She has killed, she fears, but what can you do?
You can simply obey the rules and tell yourself
You are doing the best you can.

And the same…
And the same…

The same grace blankets them all
If they care or not, if they admit it or not,
Freely offered, freely given, freely wasted.
To the liars, to the regretful, to the unredeemable,
Wrapping itself around the shoulders
Of pariahs and frauds, preachers and role models,
Salving wounds deeper than acknowledged,
Cleaning cuts more jagged than admittable.
Anything less could not be grace.

And the same…
And the same…

© 2004 Sean Taylor

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I got tagged by Van Allen Plexico for this, and it seems like a good idea.  Here are The Rules.

Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog.  Tag five writers/bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next.

I'll tag:  Rachel Hunter, Bobby Nash, James Tuck, Derrick Ferguson, and John Hartness.

Okay -- here we go:

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

Drought -- A Love Story

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From a dream, actually. That usually doesn't happen with me. I have no idea what precipitated that dream though. (Did you see what I did there? "Precipitated.")

What genre does your book fall under?

It'll be a genre I really haven't worked in yet, Young Adult Urban Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Wow. Normally this is a fun question, but I don't know a lot of teen actors, so I'm kind of at a loss here. But in the interest of completing this questionnaire, I did some research, and the two main characters, Sam Evans and Rayna Doe, would be good fits for RJ Mitte from Breaking Bad and Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Once every 100 years, Rain and the other elements of nature, are allowed to become human in order to appreciate the  people and creatures they protect or destroy; this time, Rain disappears, only to fall in love with a human boy.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither actually. I will take it to a reputable publisher, but I don't have one associated yet. This will be the first time in many years that I write a story without a publisher already lined up, in order to pitch the book around to publishers and agents.

Mock up cover to keep me inspired.
Not actual cover image.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I'm still working on it. I hope to be finished by early in 2013, providing the Mayans don't destroy the world first.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

In tone, it's going to have a lot in common with Gaiman's Mirror Mask and American Gods, but filtered through a YA lens. In audience and plot, I expect to hear more comparisons to the Percy Jackson books, since it's about kids thrust into a supernatural world and forced to rise to the occasion to become heroes.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Two things really. One, the dream I mentioned earlier. And two, the need to write a longer form work (usually I do stories and novellas or graphic novels) that I might have some luck with at a larger publishing house.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I'm not a big fan of truly happy endings, and I believe we learn more through bittersweet resolutions. So if you're tired of seeing all the ribbons wrapped into bright shiny bows at the end of your YA stories, you might really dig Drought.

[Link] Understanding Ethnocrunching – How Racism Works In The Comic Industry

by Brandon Easton

A few weeks back, Rich Johnston published an article by Tim Hanley examining the employment numbers of White women, women of color and non-White men at Marvel Entertainment and DC Entertainment. The findings were awful but not unexpected as the Big Two have long been dominated by a culture of nepotism that routinely excludes women and non-White men, particularly Black/African-American men.

Clearly, breaking into Marvel or DC is insanely difficult and few people of any background manage to get close; but the fact that there are less than 3.0% of Blacks credited on all Marvel and DC titles as of June 2012 illustrates a serious problem that requires greater exploration. I’m not the first one to discuss this as Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin and Dwayne McDuffie have shared their valuable experiences as Black men working in the mainstream comic book industry. Their experiences haven’t always been pleasurable and now, in 2012, things don’t seem to have gotten better.

Before I go further, we must understand that American race relations are very complicated and cannot be fully explained or understood through the microcosm of superhero comics. Any anonymous internet discussion of racism (in comics and in general) usually morphs into a virtual pissing match of accusation, denial, debasement, personal anecdotes and a lack of common decency. Everything becomes personalized, people make speeches and few walk away with increased clarity on the issues of race and prejudice. In the U.S., it becomes a situation where some White people feel personally indicted as a racist and the burden rests on Black people to 1) prove racism still exists and impacts all of us, 2) explain the difference between a White person living their daily lives vs. the institutionalized system of racism, and 3) defend yourself against claims of “reverse” racism as the very mention of the issue means that you hate White people. Almost every online discussion of race boils down to these three arguments before it’s all said and done. And ultimately, nothing changes because some folks refuse to separate the system from their personal identity.

Let me give you an example, during my undergraduate years, I took a few classes dealing with feminism and gender studies. I never once considered myself, a Black male, as a participant in sexism and patriarchy. I always thought of myself as being “more” enlightened than my male brethren on issues of equal rights for women. The revelation that I had sexist ideas drilled into my psyche was unsettling. I hated feeling like a bad guy. First, I blamed my professors, labeling them as “feminazis.” Then I gave endless examples from my personal life about how fairly I treated women compared to most men. For months, I carried a deep, burning hatred of feminism and those who preached the tenets of gender politics because I believed that the problem wasn’t “that bad” and it would go away if they would just shut up. Eventually, after many long years of self-reflection, I realized that it was not me – Brandon Easton – they were criticizing; it was the system of sexism itself and showing me how I was an unwilling participant in patriarchy didn’t mean I was an evil person. It just meant I needed to grow as a human being.

One more thing, I’m not an advocate of affirmative action in comics. Either you have talent or you don’t. The problem is that those with talent aren’t getting the same opportunity to pitch ideas as others. The numbers don’t lie. The question is why are the numbers so low?

To continue reading:

Friday, September 21, 2012

[Link] Print On Demand: Major Announcement Could Change How You Buy Books

Print On Demand Books
Print-on-demand (POD) books could soon be everywhere, according to a major announcement made today.

On Demand, the makers of the POD Espresso Book Machine currently installed in fewer than a hundred bookstores nationwide, have announced new partnerships with Eastman Kodak and ReaderLink Distribution Services.

Under the arrangement, the company's POD technology will be made available to retailers who have Kodak Picture Kiosks, currently installed in 105,000 locations according to Publishers Weekly, including drugstores and supermarkets.

ReaderLink, a major book distributor, will also bring book machines to more than 24,000 additional new outlets, as well as supplying commercially published titles to be printed on demand from the machines.

To continue, visit:

The Writer Will Take Your Question Now (#229) -- Promotion & Humility

What is your view of self promotion and getting the word out about your books?

Ummm... No.
Well, considering the degree to which I use social media, convention appearances, email and other promotional outlets, clearly I am a big fan of  promotion. However, I'm not so sure I'm as big a fan of the term "self" promotion. I think the best promotion doesn't just promote "self" alone.

That's one of the reasons for this blog. I can not only drum up potential readers for my work, but it also allows me to showcase other writers and artists too.

It's the reason for the share button when other writers show off their new projects. Share and share alike. The more the merrier. Choose your favorite cliche.And the more you help to share the good word about others, chances are you'll find others returning the favor.

This blog post, I think, sums it up almost perfectly.

No one wants to see a Twitter or FB or Tumblr feed that is just one promotional message after another without any true content. I think that by giving people something to actually read, consider, think about, and dwell on, you give people a good reason to actually visit your page and you earn the right to talk about your own projects every now and then.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

35 Writers Who Have Influenced Me Most

Yes, that will be 35 blue ribbons, please.
Fiction writers, essayists, pulpsters, playwrights, comic book writers, literary gods and genre hacks, famous and not, they all have one thing in common -- they have influenced either my writing style, writing life, writing career, or most likely some combination of the three. 

NOTE: This is not an endorsement of these writers' beliefs or viewpoints necessarily, just a comment on their storytelling influence on me.  

1. Ernest Hemingway
2. Raymond Carver
3. Ed McBain
4. C.S. Lewis
5. Shusaku Endo
6. Philip Yancey
7. Annie Dillard
8. Flannery O'Connor
9. Ray Bradbury
10. Robert Heinlein
11. John Fischer
12. Chuck Dixon
13. Steve Seagle
14. Shakespeare
15. Neil Gaiman
16. e.e. cummings
17. Frank Fradella
18. T.S. Eliot
19. Zora Neal Hurston
20. Langston Hughes
21. Dashiell Hammett
22. Raymond Chandler
23. Christa Faust
24. Donald Westlake
25. H. Rider Haggard
26. Bobby Nash
27. Edgar Rice Burroughs
28. Ed Brubaker
29. Chris Yost
30. Devin Grayson
31. Henrick Ibsen
32. Tennessee Williams
33. Garth Ennis
34. Warren Ellis
35. Tom Waltz

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#228) -- Old Style

Is there a type of story that isn't really being told anymore that you wish
would come back into fashion so you could write that kind of tale?

Oh yes. I wish the sort of Twilight Zone, end-reveal comic book story that used to be told in horror and sci-fi anthologies like Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Science, Ghosts, and House of Mystery (among others) would come back into style. I love that kind of story, even if today's jaded and cynical reader might find them not just old-fashioned, but also a little silly or perhaps just campy.

Back during my days at Shooting Star Comics, we published a few in that style, and sure enough, we had reviewers call us out on it for being too nostalgic or just "cheating" with a Twilight Zone ending. But we enjoyed them. Call it nostalgia or cheating if you must, but they still all kinds of fun to me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



Contact Persons for The Comic Studio:
Martheus A. Wade


Indy comic book creator, Martheus Wade, creator of the hit graphic novel series Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa and Turra: Gun Angel and art director for MAW Productions Studios, is proud to announce the formation of The Comic Studio, a series of classes that specialize in the art of comic book and graphic novel creation.

The Comic Studio will be art classes with a comic book twist. The classes take an innovative approach to creative design that combines fine art, writing and graphic design skills and team them with goal setting techniques that will empower students to see projects through to completion. Courses will cover everything from photoshop techniques, to illustration techniques, to writing all from the perspective of comic book and graphic novel creation. "I've always wanted to give back to the Memphis area," Martheus said. "The idea for the Comic Studio began when I taught comic illustration in the penitentiary system. There were some extremely talented individuals there that could have contributed so much to the art world if someone would have reached them early and helped develop their talent. I want to find that child before it's too late." Thanks to fellow artist and prolific painter, Adam Shaw, classes will start at his studio in November at 2547 Broad Ave, Memphis TN. "The revitalization of Broad Avenue as an arts district fits The Comic Studio perfectly," said Martheus. "It's the perfect place to open minds to the arts and the power of the graphic medium."

Classes start in November and will meet Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. More information on times will be available in the coming weeks. Anyone interested in enrollment should contact Martheus Wade at or join our facebook page, keyword: The Comic Studio. Free art tutorials are also available online at
Optioned for motion picture, Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa was created in 1985 by Martheus Antone Wade, a graduate of the University of Memphis. Martheus’ love for martial arts, along with his talent as a graphic artist, was a natural fit for creating exciting characters and imaginative storylines. He then began his carrier as an intern at Signature Advertising. After completing his internship, Martheus worked as graphic designer. After two years, Martheus struck out on his own as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator working with companies such as the Radison Hotel, Trust Marketing, Senior Services, The YWCA, The Girl Scouts Council of the Mid-South, and Special Olympics.

He has illustrated for Maximum CNG, Bloodstream for Image Comics, Shooting Star Comics, Chaos Campus for Approbation Comics and Andrew Dabb’s Slices just to name a few. Recently, he has worked on such titles as Action Man and Nanovor for IDW, Bad Girls Club for the Oxygen Network, and illustrated, written, and produced a comic book crossover with his title character, Jetta, and William Tucci’s, Shi. His work has been used for the movie Role Models from Universal Pictures as well as the instructional DVD and book, Hi-Fi Digital Color for Comics available from IMPACT Publishing.

Visit to see more of his work and artistic process .