Friday, July 22, 2016

"Cease and Desist"

So...what had happened was...

A few days ago I hit a milestone. Yep. Another big milestone in my quest to finally become "somebody."

I got my first cease and desist order. I received via email, and it came as a direct response to a post on this very blog on June 2 of this year. Apparently, one of the names I wanted to use for a publishing shingle for fiction was one already in use by a religious organization, "As you may be aware..."

Eh, kinda.

When I did a Google search for the name when I first decided I wanted to use it, I did see one other entity that was using it--and, if memory serves me correct, they didn't have the type of web presence that you would expect from a business that obviously has the cash flow to employ pretentious, condescending (I'd post the letter to show you, but I'm pretty sure it's a good idea not to) intellectual property attorneys to send spiffy C&D letters to small-time cats like myself who haven't even gotten off the ground yet. I'm also not one of these attorneys, so my command of trademark law extends only as far as what I've gleaned from surfing the web. So I made a judgement call and went ahead with the name, thinking the organization I saw online wasn't a major player and wouldn't notice--or care about--what I was doing (it wouldn't be the first time I'd seen two different entities with the same name).

Well, I was wrong. And, as a result, I would up spending the better part of a day coming up with a new name and several hours today creating new logos and updating Facebook and Twitter pages. But it's done, and I made sure that I have a name that no one else on the planet (according to Google) has.

Allow me to introduce you to...


Now that this issue has been resolved, I can focus more time on what I do best--creating stories. I have some really cool things coming up and in the works, including what might be my first professional speaking engagement. If it comes through, I'll be talking about the basics of storytelling, as well as making preparations to deal with the marketplace.

I have a feeling this little ordeal will somehow make its way into my presentation.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Shadowfox #9 - "Re-Locked and Re-Loaded"

It's been a long time since I've had a dedicated Shadowfox update--over a year, in fact.

At the time, the project was slated to be a novel, though I'm pretty sure that story was significantly different than the last outline I finished recently. And even since then, the project has taken another major shift.

I once was considering writing the story as a series of novellas, or even short stories. I thought of treating as the prose equivalent of comic books, complete with issue numbers and arc titles. It was an idea I really liked, but ultimately wasn't confident enough in to follow up on. I just didn't think there'd be a market for it, and I really wanted to see my characters realized graphically.

Well, fast forward (or back, depending on how you look at it) to a couple weeks ago, when I came across Jonathan L. Howard's excellent Goon Squad series. It's exactly what I had envisioned--stories told over the course of multiple issues--and more, going so far as to have a letter from the writer as a coda, closing out each issue while setting the reader up for the next. At a very reasonable .99 for 27 pages, it was easy for me to give it a shot to see if I'd like it.

Love it is the more appropriate phrase. I found myself eating up the stories and reading the reviews, coming to the realization that not only could the concept could work, but there were folks who'd actually read it. Sure, serialized prose isn't a new thing, but in today's instant gratification world, I wasn't sure it was still viable (it works for comics, but for whatever reason people accept it in that format, as where I've seen actual folks complain that a written story was coming to them in pieces).

As I kept reading, my fears melting more and more into nothingness (save for the always-present "But will my work be accepted?"), I found myself re-warming to the idea of rolling Shadowfox out in the same way. It'd be easier, and quicker to get work out, I thought. Besides, I could be making money on my work while I was putting the story out, and the piecemeal nature of it would allow me to work on a couple different series at the same time if I wanted, thus touching more projects sooner. Everything was looking like a go, except for one thing...

I had turned the story from a serialized version to a novel version, including the addition of a several more scenes. Because of this, I'd have to potentially rework the entire thing to get it to fit neatly into a series of shorter stories, each with enough action and momentum to keep readers' focus. Great. I was looking at the possibility of having to re-invent the wheel I had previously re-invented. This alone was enough to work against moving forward with the serialized format, even though I really wanted to do it.

Finally getting some nuts about myself, I made the decision to give it a go (I could always go back to the single novel if things went south), and sat down to look over the current outline to see how things could break down. It took me a couple days just to figure out how many issues I wanted to release the story in, and how many words I wanted each story to be, the idea being that too many would result in taking longer to get the books out--and taking longer to start, possibly and hopefully, making money. Don't get me wrong, money isn't the only thing, but it is a concern--especially when you aren't sitting on a lot to begin with and the bills come in faster than the dollars do. Luckily for me, however, my existing story breaks down neatly into six issues, my desired number. My ideal word count for each is 11,250.

I've got my master file updated and ready to go, with the six issues laid out with individual titles (in true comic cook fashion), which, after their initial release, will be collected in a "trade paperback" and sold together; basically a novel. If things go according to plan (and hopes and wishes), the full story will run 67,500 words--well over the threshold to be called a novel, but still on the shorter side of things. Which I'm fine with.

I'm planning to use the same approach with Lupus Moon, Darkness Walks, and all my other Ascension and Darque Marque titles. They were mostly conceived as comics properties, and the fact that I haven't outlined most of the stories yet means I can originate them with the serialized format in mind. As for wanting to see my characters realized graphically? I'm still going to need covers for the stores--

One for each issue. In each arc. And I have multiple arcs in mind.

Sounds like a win-win for me. I'll keep you posted as things progress...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

#ConningWhileBlack

A couple weekends ago, I made my annual trip to Comicpalooza, billed as "Texas' largest comic and pop culture event (well, it's not much of a trip, seeing as how it's in Houston and I live here--but that's beside the point)." It's an apt tagline, as the show takes over the ginormous George R. Brown Convention Center on the south edge of downtown each year.

I'd had a different emphasis the past few years with regards to the panels I attended (don't get me wrong, I LOVE the celebrity guests just like the next geek, but I haven't gotten to the point where I'm paying for autographs and photos from everyone I'd like to get them from, so the strength of the panels means that much more to me; plus, I'd rather save my money for supporting indie comics creators). Two years ago, when I was really hot about creating indie comics, I attended every panel on making comics that I could. This year, with my current focus on writing prose, saw me attending mostly panels on the literary track, where I picked up some really good information and advice that will help as I progress in that endeavor.

However, I also found myself in some rather...interesting...situations--a few of which I'm not sure would've happened to any con-goer regardless, or just me because I'm of a certain, how shall I say, hue?

Maybe it's something. Maybe it's not. But what is it like when you're one of the few black faces at a pop culture con dominated by white ones? Here's a little insight, in the form of  a series of intended tweets I'd like to call #ConningWhileBlack.
  • In a panel on self-publishing. Only Black person in a room of 20. Wonder how many times my talent has been discounted? #ConningWhileBlack
  • Maybe it's in general, but folks tend to think they can cross in front of me without saying "excuse me." Until I start tripping them. I've done it before. #ConningWhileBlack
  • Another panel where I'm the only Black person. Guess I shouldn't be surprised. It is about YA fantasy... #ConningWhileBlack
  • This one white lady keeps looking at me like, "I wonder why HE'S here?" I'm wanting to write books, lady. #ConningWhileBlack
  • 2nd time today: I was alone at a table that seats 7; had someone come and sit down while completely ignoring me. Guess I have the mutant power of invisibility. #ConningWhileBlack
  • The temperature in this room is NOT intended for folks who's ancestors are from a warmer climate. #ConningWhileBlack
  • Third straight panel where I'm the only Black person in the room. Do I qualify for pioneer status, yet? #ConningWhileBlack
  • I'm on the second row, and this GIANT MF just sat right in front of me. Who needs to see, anyway? #ConningWhileBlack
  • It's bad enough you're blocking my view; why must your big ass constantly jostle like the world's biggest baby? #ConningWhileBlack
  • And not that your giant self is wearing a red shirt. All I can think of is, "Oh, yeah!" #KoolAidMan #ConningWhileBlack
  • You're shivering; I would've thought your blubber would keep you warm. Just move out of my way, already. #ConningWhileBlack
  • What?! Another Black person showed up? 2 vs. 35! We got this, sista! #ConningWhileBlack
  • Another book panel. 10 people. I'm the only Black person. Do we not write? I know we do. Or do we not want to learn? #ConningWhileBlack
  • Aw, snap! 3 Black folks just showed up! We takin' over! Lol. #ConningWhileBlack
  • And the 3 Black people just left. They were here maybe 10 minutes. Damn. #ConningWhileBlack
  • Uh-oh! A new Black person. A kid, but she counts. We're at net -2. #ConningWhileBlack
  • You don't have to sit next to me--or on my row--if you don't want to. Trust me on this. #BlackHalo #ConningWhileBlack
  • Day 2. I have backup today, but apparently, with our #BlackHalo powers combined... We're at a table for 10. Completely empty. Folks at other tables all around. #ConningWhileBlack
  • Oh, wait, 2 white women show up at our table right as the film starts (we're up front). I guess you can deal w/ our Blackness if there's a benefit to you. #ConningWhileBlack
Oh, well. I still had a blast, and I'm already looking forward to next year's Comicpalooza. "And that's the bottom line, 'cause..."

You know what? Come to think of it, Stone Cold would be an awesome guest to have next year. And he's a Texas boy, too. One of my highlights this year was seeing Ric Flair live and in person, and this would take things to the next level. You have your mission, Comicpalooza. "Make it so."

Regardless, I'll be there, still #ConningWhileBlack.