I thought I should read more. So I did.

Sometimes when I looked in the mirror in the morning, I didn’t even recognize myself.

Not because my face was older, or appeared wiser, or because I suffered some sort of major face trauma. Everything pretty much looked the same. My eyelashes were still super long, my nose remained huge, and I still couldn’t grow a beard to save my life.

What’s different was that I wasn’t seeing the reader I once was. Instead, I was only seeing the writer.

While over the past few years I’ve spent a good 70 percent of each day writing, I was no longer reading. And man—let me tell you—I used to consume books like nobody’s business. In fact, for much of my life, it was hard for me to even perform basic life functions because I had my a book in front of my face.

I traveled with a book anytime my parents dragged me out of the house. I smuggled a book in my backpack to every day of high school. Any bowel movement was an opportune time to consume a chapter.

The bookshelf in my current apartment (along with the bookshelf in my childhood bedroom and nearby closet) contain the artifacts of proof, but the to-do stack that sits haphazardly next to my desk continued to grow at an alarming rate.

Soon I realized that it had literally been years since I’d read a novel. While I consumed comic books like they were M&Ms, getting me to read prose felt like a job I where I was being paid in “exposure.” I didn’t want any part of it.

I’m not sure why I felt that way. It’s not like somewhere along the like a book had killed my parents, made my browsing history public, or stole my identity. The animosity I had toward the medium was completely unfounded.

Maybe it was an age thing.

Yeah, let’s say it was an age thing.

I was too busy to dedicate myself to a novel. I’d probably forget what happened a week after reading. So why bother?

Then, as sometimes happens as we get older, I became incontinent.

I’m kidding. Hopefully I’m still a few years away from that.

What happened, is that I became interested in writing a novel of my own. I don’t know why. After years of writing comics and video games, which work in tandem with strong visual elements, why in the world would I want to go it solo into a world where I had no art to hide behind? What good could possibly come out of a document containing nothing but my (weird) thoughts, (weirder) ideas, and (super weird) dialogue?

It sounded like madness to me.

Not only did I want to write a novel, I even had the story… you know, one of those ideas that would be perfect for the medium. Except—I was terrified of being a poseur.

I’d always looked down my nose at those filmmakers who couldn’t get their movies made, so instead they adapted their scripts into comic books. Worse, many of these film folks had never read comics, so their attempts at invading the medium I hold closest to my heart felt invasive and fake.

I didn’t want to be that person who runs around the block once and proclaims himself a jogger, the person who helps out on a student film and suddenly proclaims himself an actor, or the person who samples other people’s music under bad rap verses and proclaims himself a musician.

Despite never being a horse person, I had to get back on the horse. I had to read again. I had to find the joy.

How could I write a book if you didn’t read them? Despite the thousand I’d read in my lifetime, what business did I have writing something for the current market, if I had no idea what that market is?

Hypocrisy is the worst.

Over 2017’s 365 days (give or take a few?) I really enjoyed the following books and the journeys their respective authors took me on. I didn’t set out to read novels, I just set out to read books, letting one text guide me to the next and the next. The mix of novels and non-fiction was a ton of fun. I learned, I laughed, I felt. If we’re keeping it real, I read most of these on the toilet.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
Significant Zero – Walt Williams
Boss Fight Books presents: Spelunky – Derek Yu
Boss Fight Books presents: Final Fantasy V – Chris Kohler 
Boss Fight Books presents: Bible Adventures – Gabe Durham
Boss Fight Books presents: World of Warcraft – Daniel lisi 
Boss Fight Books presents: Metal Gear Solid – Ashley and Anthony Burch
Boss Fight Books presents: Earthbound – Ken Baumann 
Extra Lives – Tom Bissell 
Blood, Sweat, & Pixels – Jason Shreier 
The Art of Immersion – Frank Rose
What in God’s Name – Simon Rich
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott 
Best. State. Ever. – Dave Barry 
Dave Barry Does Japan – Dave Barry

Hey authors of the above books… if you’re reading this, your book was awesome. Thank you for writing it.

Finding inspiration in all of these titles, I set about writing my novel simultaneously. By December 2017 I’d completed a 67,000-word first draft.

I asked several people to read it. They did. They made notes. The manuscript is covered in red pen marks. I’m that revising it now. But that’s a story for another time.

In 2018 I can look in the mirror and see a reader and a writer.

I still can’t grow a beard.

 

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Upcoming Appearances – October/November 2017

Occasionally I like to get out of my office and intermingle with other bipeds of the human variety. Occasionally.

I have two signings coming up, so if you’re in the Northeastern Ohio part of the world, you can come and see me face-to-face. We can high five, or create a secret handshake, or whatever.

You can also buy some comics, including, but not limited to, the Unit 44 graphic novel, out now from Alterna Comics!

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2017
Comics, Cards and Collectables
724 Cleveland Ave SW, Canton, OH 44702
Halloween ComicFest 2K17!
Tons of in-store sales, free comics, and local creators.
Starts at 10 a.m.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2017
Barnes & Noble (Fairlawn)
4015 Medina Rd, Akron, OH 44333
Local author event!
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Panama City Creative Con this weekend

Every week I’ve been, like, “I should totally write on my blog.”

And then something happens that prevents me from doing so. In a good way. Not dead, just busy.

BUT, I found the minutes to jump over here because there’s a show coming up this weekend that I will be attending and if you’re in the North Florida area, you should definitely plan on going: Panama City Creative Con 2016!

Now in its 7th year, the Panama City Creative Con returns this weekend, SEPT. 17&18 2016 at the MARINA CIVIC CENTER in PANAMA CITY, FL.

This is the third year I’ll be participating and PCCC is a great show run by amazing people and due to its mammoth growth the event has relocated to the Marina Civic Center, which is bound to be a ton of fun.

I’ll be there on Saturday only, but I plan to make the most of my hours as I hawk my wares, talk comics and hopefully meet some fun new people.

For all the details and ticket information visit www.pccreativecon.com

Oh, I’ll also be on a panel this year! So if you’re there, come get intimate. But not in that way. Bring your comics-makin’ questions.

The Process of Creating Comic books – 3:15pm
Marina Civic Center theater – Balcony
Chris Arrant, Wes Locher, & John Holland talk about the process of creating comic books from start to finish.

Oh, and Chris Arrant (comic writer, CBR, Newsarama, et al) will be there. He’s better-looking than I am, so feel free to stare at him for the duration of the presentation.

I’ll have lots of comics for sale, too. Some of my stock is running low and this will be the last chance to grab a few of my books before they “rest” for a while.

See you there?

Yeah, see you there.

pccc2k16

Upcoming event: Alt*Con 2016

For those of you in Florida who have may have read my books or comics and want to come say hello in person (I enjoy a good high five over a hug), I’ll be tabling at Tallahassee, FL’s Alt*Con 2016 Convention this Saturday and Sunday at the North Florida Fairgrounds.

It will be my first time attending the show, as well as my first show of the year, so if you’re in the neighborhood, swing on by and let’s get things started off right.

Tickets are $15 per day or $20 for a weekend pass. Show hours are 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET Saturday and 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. ET Sunday.

Grab tickets online at www.altconflorida.com

I’ll be stocking all four issues of Unit 44 along with the graphic novels The Undoubtables and Chambers, and my one-shots The Temporal and Hipsters Vs. Rednecks.

 

CreativeCon tomorrow!

For those in and around Northwest Florida, I’ll be appearing at the 2015 installment of the Panama City CreativeCon tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 1), happening in (say it with me) Panama City, FL!

The event will be held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. ET at Gulf Coast State College in the student union building. Tickets and more info are available online at pccreativecon.com

The convention, founded by the ever-talented writer/artist/dancer(?)  Jayson Kretzer, doesn’t limit itself to just comic books, but instead embraces every form of creativity from comics, to art, to writing, costume creation and more.

But don’t just come out for me! Also in attendance will be the talented colorist K. Michael Russell, writers Tony Simmons, Michael Lister and Chris Arrant and artist Rando Dixon of Inverse Press (a great group of people).

This is the first show at which I’ll be selling all four issues of Unit 44 in printed issue format! Very excited for that. I’ve sold many copies of #1 and #2 in the area and here’s hoping people actually want to finish the story.

I’ll also be packing copies of The Undoubtables graphic novel, The Temporal one-shot, my humor book Musings on Minutiae and very, very, veeeeeeeery limited quantities of the Chambers collected edition.

See you there, yeah?