What STAR WARS Means To Me

Given all the chatter that’s sprung up about Star Wars since THE FORCE AWAKENS was released, I thought I’d post a little piece regarding it and my history with the franchise.

Ahem ahem…


What Star Wars Means To Me

If you’ve heard this story from me before, please bear with me. I repeat it here now so that it’s fully and officially on the record.

STAR WARS, what we would later come to alternatively call EPISODE IV and A NEW HOPE (depending on your level of geekery), was released upon the world in May of 1977. I was four and a half years old. I clearly remember my parents taking me and my little brother Scott (he wouldn’t have even been two at the time) to the local drive-in movie theater to see it. The weather was clear, the playground up near the screen was filled with kids swinging and clambering over monkey bars, and the smell of buttered popcorn drifted through the air like the promise of a great summer to come.

Being so young, I really had no idea what the movie was we were there to see. Movies hadn’t penetrated my fledgling mind yet, nor had any books my parents read to me or shows on the television. I was a tabula rasa, just waiting for the right thing to come and spark my juvenile imagination. My joy at being at the drive-in came mostly from the play area. What little boy doesn’t love sand boxes and seesaws? But, when the sun went down, it was back to the family car to watch whatever film we’d come to see. So long as I had a small bag of popcorn and a coke, I didn’t really care what it was. But, when the projector burst to life like some sort of Asgardian artifact and that famous Twentieth-Century Fox fanfare poured forth from Angelic horns, my life was forever, irrevocably changed.


I couldn’t read the words that floated down the whitewashed movie screen ahead of us, but sitting on the roof of my parents’ car it didn’t matter. I knew they were important by the music and the way they marched with steady purpose through a field of stars that looked so much like the stars twinkling over my head at that very moment. And then when the camera panned down to reveal a spaceship racing away as lights flashed against it, only then to watch as the vessel that followed it thundered above me like a metallic monster that grew larger and larger and larger with every moment, a leviathan hounding after a goldfish. It was amazing, and the lights reflected like stars in my little eyes.

Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the introduction of Darth Vader, a figure that haunts me to this day, mostly in various plastic forms around my office. After all the whiteness of the small ship’s corridors and the Stormtroopers that quickly poured into it, Vader’s immense blackness sent chills through me. Sitting on the roof of that car, I felt true fear for the first time. Later, when Luke and Han were doing their fumbling best to save the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in my young life, I felt joy, and love, and excitement. When the end credits finally rolled, there really aren’t words to describe how I felt. To be honest, I don’t know if even I – after all these years – truly understand just how I felt. But I do know this – I was changed. The boy that crawled back into his parents’ car and went home to dream of heroes in white and villainous evil in black, was not the same boy who played in the sand just hours before.


Before I move on, I need to say one final thing about the memory I just shared with you in the interest of full disclosure: I don’t know if it’s actually true. That, right there, is me being honest. I think it’s true. It certainly feels true. When I cast my mind back nearly four decades, those are the things I honestly remember happening. My mother could come along and say, “Oh, son, that didn’t happen. We saw it…” and she would probably be right. But, that doesn’t matter. Not to me. I know my truth. Real or not, those memories are what I recall when I think about Star Wars. We all have mythologies about ourselves that we create using as much truth as we can and then filling in the rest with “that’s how it should have happened” bits. For me, those shared memories are my Star Wars origin story. That is where my heroic journey began. Now on with the show…

Over the years since May of ’77 the level of my fanaticism waxed and waned. I played with all the toys when I was kid, turned my bedroom into Hoth and Endor, held X-Wings and ran through the yard with them held high as they soared after Tie-Fighters. But with each year that passed after RETURN OF THE JEDI’s end credits faded, so did my passion. I read the Marvel comic every once and awhile, and if I stumbled across some toy or item I’d never seen before I’d do my best to get it, but aside from the occasional book there just wasn’t much to keep the Star Wars fire burning. Such is the way of things.


That doesn’t mean my love of science fiction and fantasy diminished, however. No no, my brother, not even a little. Because of Star Wars I launched into the fandom of all things nerdy with a greedy abandon. Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, Dune, the Dragonlance novels, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek, and on and on it went. When everyone else wanted to play sports, I wanted to keep my face in a book, or play a game, or rewatch CLASH OF THE TITANS. While my friends wanted to play Rambo out in the woods, I wanted to play as a Jedi or an X-Wing pilot. It was just the way I rolled.

As I’m sure you can imagine, all this led to me to being a pretty geeky kid. And yeah, sure, there were rough moments from time to time holding that freak flag aloft. If I had a dime for every book slapped out of my hands or every “you’re such a nerd” spat in my face I could have bought LucasFilm instead of Disney. It never got me down though, because it wasn’t as if I could be any other way. Geekdom is woven into my very DNA.


Luckily for the Star Wars fan inside me, the fires returned when it was announced that new Star Wars books would soon be hitting bookstore shelves, starting with a new trilogy to cap off the movies! OMG! Just as I’m entering college, Star Wars is returning to my life, and in a way I adore – books. From there suddenly there were new games, new toys, even new music (Shadows of the Empire rocked!). And then came the Special Editions! And more books! And then…holy frijole…EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE. Say what you want now, but back then the idea of new movies shook the world. I have plenty of issues with the prequels, believe me, but I never make myself come down and hate them. As bad as some of it is, there’s good too, like Vader himself proved possible. Star Wars was once again a cultural phenomenon. I couldn’t have been happier.


Star Wars has been a gift to me, and somehow it never ceases to give. Of all the things it’s led me to, however, none is more important to me than my writing. The books I’ve written that sit on someone’s bookcase wouldn’t exist were it not for Star Wars. My mind was blown open at a very impressionable age, and in the decades since I’ve absorbed as much science fiction and fantasy as possible across as broad a range of stories and characters as you can imagine. And all of that, once filtered through my mind, comes out in the novels and short stories I’ve written and will go on to write. I cannot thank George Lucas enough for what he created, and when I say that I mean both Star Wars and myself. He was practically a third parent, tending to my brain while mom and dad took care of the rest.

Does that sound odd, or perhaps excessive? Maybe. But, I do think Star Wars has led to me being a good person. Because of my travels across space and time I’ve met so many different types of people, both real and imagined, and through that I became a very accepting person. I don’t judge people because of what they look like, or who they love, or who they worship. We’re all children of the same long ago stars. I try to be empathetic, forgoing fear for love, like a Jedi should. Some of this I gained directly from Star Wars, and some came through the universes Star Wars led me to. When I say I am who I am because of Star Wars, I honestly mean it. And I think it’s a good thing.


And perhaps that’s really it. I love who I am. I love that my mind is filled with alien worlds and ancient kingdoms. I love that my shelves are crowded with Stephen King books, Marvel movie box sets, and action figures that cover the gamut of science fiction and fantasy. When someone says, “Where do we go?” in my mind I follow it up with a mentally sung, “From here…” (That’s a Buffy reference, y’all). If a person asks me who my doctor is, I immediately want to answer with, “David Tennant.” And of course when anyone says, “I’ll try,” you know I want to tell them, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” My nerd runs deep, and it runs rough.

Some might say that all this makes it impossible for me to be unbiased when it comes to the Star Wars universe, and more specifically the movies. To them I answer, you’re right. I can’t. But that’s not because I lack the objectiveness needed to see the flaws and failings of the movies; rather, it’s because they aren’t just movies to me. They’re friends. Hell, they’re more than that – the Star Wars movies are my family. They’ve been with me practically my whole life, through good times and bad, giving me advice when I needed it, hope when I felt hopeless. I know the films aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t make me love them any less. I acknowledge all the problems with Star Wars, can understand why some might not like them, but I can do  all that without lessening my affection one iota. I don’t let the rough patches make me stumble, or get lost in plot imperfections. I accept the movies as they are and love them unconditionally just as a father loves his children, or as a brother loves his siblings. Is Jar Jar an idiot? Yeah, but he’s my idiot. Are Ewoks cool? Nope, but who cares, they’re still cute and still kill Stormtroopers. Could I have possibly written better dialogue than, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth,”? Probably. But a cheesy line has never made me love my younger brother any less, so why would it with Star Wars? For me it’s all the same.


So there you have it. That is what Star Wars means to me. To most people it means a lot less, and that’s cool. I don’t expect them to love it as much as I do. Wish, yes, but not expect. And I understand that most people haven’t grown up with it in their lives the way I did. We can’t change how we grew up. For me Star Wars goes beyond fandom to family. I know it has its problems, but I’ll always love it, and it will continue to be unconditional.

Until next time…


I’m back!

Well, a year and a half after I last posted something to this site, I’m back! Why have I been away so long, you might ask? You see, it goes like this… I’m lazy, and when it comes to fixing internet issues I’m not very good at it, and around the same time as I posted the cover reveal for STILL WATER I somehow screwed up my site so that half the time you tried to get to it you’d instead get an error. I tried to fix it myself, but nothing I did helped. I then decided to redo my entire site using SquareSpace, but my laziness kicked in and I never got around to it. I was too busy working on a new novel that I later set aside to write something different, and before I knew it over a year had gone by and I still hadn’t done anything about it. Typical Justin.

So, one day I received an email from a listener of the Dead Robots’ Society podcast saying that he had started a website building company and would like to offer me his services. His name is Oscar Heller of Monstrous Designs, and after talking with him I decided to let him have at it. Now, a little while later, you can see the results of all his hard work. Now my site is focused on my books (is it crass to put all the product link stuff up top?), it’s clean and dependable, AND it’s setup so that it can be easily viewed on a mobile browser. It’s everything I wanted and more. PLUS I now have an actual store! If you want to go to Amazon and buy my books, I have links for that, but if you’d like to buy from me instead, there is a SHOP button up top that will let you do so.

Why buy from me instead of Amazon? For one, I would actually make much more per purchase than I would through Amazon. Secondly, if you want a print book, I can sign it if you so desire. If you decide to go with ebooks instead, when you purchase from me you will get a ZIP file that contains the top three ebook formats – MOBI, EPUB, and PDF. That will cover all your electronic reading needs.

And, with that, I bid you a good evening. I will be back tomorrow with more news and updates. I’m so sorry that it took me this long to get my site updated, but I promise that from here on out I’ll be much more active and on top of things. Take care, and be good.

Oh! One last thing! At the bottom of the page is a place where you can join my mailing list. I promise I will never spam you, and I’m thinking of ways I can incentivize your joining. Please sign up now, and when I have new book information to share, you will be the first to hear it!

Space City Con 2013

Last weekend I went to Space City Con in Houston, Texas, and had a blast. This was the second year for the convention, and they really did a great job. Their first year wasn’t terrible, this time they had the con in a hotel much more convention friendly (plenty of meeting rooms for panels, lots of parking, great dealer room space), and the panels were more organized. I also managed to sell a lot of books, which always makes things better. A MINOR MAGIC was a hit with the ladies, and even HAYWIRE was snapped up. I look forward to going again next year. If you haven’t been, and traveling to Houston isn’t out of the question, then I highly encourage you to join me!

Before I head out, I wanted to share one of the few pictures I took while I was there. Seeing and meeting celebrities is always fun, but when you see one that was on a show (and a film) you loved, then it’s that much more awesome. On Saturday I happened to run into Jewel Staite in a reserved dining room while waiting for a panel. She was such a sweetheart, and when I asked if I could have my picture taken with her she actually acted like she was delighted to do it, though I’m sure it was a pain since I was but one of hundreds of people who’d asked for the same thing. Here is the picture. Thank you, Jewel! It’s so shiny!


Long Time, No See!

Wow, it’s been a long time since I last posted something here. I’m still not entirely convinced that anyone reads these things, but just in case, I wanted to come on and let you know what’s going on.

Long story short, I moved.

Long story a little less short, we finally have found the place we can call home probably for the rest of our lives. See, Krista and I bought our first home back in December of 2001, and we lived there for about seven years. But about three and a half years ago my wife’s father, Butch, died, and we inherited his house, which not only was a little bigger than our own and with a much larger back yard, but it was also completely paid off. Since I’d been laid off earlier that year and we were living solely off of Krista’s income, getting out from under a mortgage seemed like a good idea. So, we sold our home, paid off the mortgage, then took the remaining money and used it to do some remodeling of her father’s house as we moved into it. We were happy to have more space, the dogs were happy to have more yard to run around on, and not paying a monthly house payment was wonderfully freeing. Everything was great… for awhile…

What we didn’t realize was how difficult it was going to be to live in the house her father once lived in, a house she’d spent many good and bad years in when she was younger. It wasn’t easy for her to process his death, and living in his house only made it harder. Neither of us was prepared for the mental issues that came with living there. You can’t remodel memories away, or the heartache of losing a parent. Couple that with the longer commute she had to make to work every day, and it wasn’t long before we knew we would have to find a new place to live.

We tried for awhile to buy land and build a custom house on it, but the troubles we encountered there are too numerous to go into here. Suffice it to say, we weren’t able to do that. So instead we decided to look for a house that was for sale and met our needs. Need number one? More land! We have a lot of dogs, and we have a dislike for close neighbors, so finding a place on two or so acres was a must. We also wanted a place with more square footage, that was closer to her work, and if possible a place that already had a pool. As you can imagine, finding a house that met all those criteria wasn’t going to be easy. Surprisingly enough, after looking through the local real estate listings, we found a few contenders. And, when we went out to see them in person, the very first one we went through was PERFECT. It was on 2.6 acres, had several hundred more square feet, the garage was enormous, the landscaping was amazing, and the pool… oh, the pool… The price the sellers were asking for was a bit over our budget, but they were incredibly motivated to sell, so when we offered a number that was within our budget, they took it. Usually buying a house is a fairly lengthy and complicated affair, but not with this one. In record time we had paperwork drawn up and signed, inspections made (the inspector we hired to look at it said it was the best looking house he’d seen in years, and if we weren’t buying it he’d been sorely tempted), and money exchanged. I think, all totaled, it took only a couple of weeks to get it all done.

And so now, a month later, we’re finally all moved in an unpacked. You don’t think about how much stuff you own until you have to put every last piece of it in a box, and you never curse it so much as you do when you’re taking it back out and finding a new place for it. We were fortunate that the house was in a great condition and required very little work (I think all we’ve done is replace a couple of the appliances with ones we already owned and liked better and put up a ceiling fan in two rooms). My office was the last room to get done, but I think it’s the one I’m most happy with. It reflects my personality to a T. One of the reasons it took so long was because of my desk, which was stalled because of my new computer, which…

Yeah, the day before we moved my Dell got infected with a virus. I tried to fix it to no avail, and my brother Scott was able to get most of it rooted out, but there were just some things that weren’t correctable, so I limped along as best I could while we unpacked. Eventually, though, it gave up the ghost, so I ordered a new one. This time I went with an iMac. I know a lot of writers and podcasters who are ardent Mac users, and they all convinced me to give it a try. It’s not been easy to get used to a new operating system, but I’m getting more comfortable with it every day. Along with the new computer, though, I wanted to get a new desk. I’ve been reading a lot lately that says sitting down for hours a day is dangerous to your health, so I resolved to get a desk I could stand up and work at. Buying one looked to be an incredibly expensive proposition, so I decided to make use of my new big garage and build a desk. I’m no Bob Villa, but it actually came out pretty good. Much better than I would have thought of anyway. Once the new desk was in place, the new iMac went up on it, and then the rest of the office fell into place around them.

And so there you have it. I’ve been one busy beaver. I hate that it’s taken me so long to get to my site, but computer viruses and moving to a new house can do that. I also have news on my writing, but before I get to that let me post a few pictures of the house. I hope you like them.

Here’s the front of the house. I love the stone work in the lawn. The house has a rustic feel without feeling too country.

This is the view from the swing on the front porch. Being that far back from the road is nice.

This is the pool area. When I get in it I feel like I’m at a resort. We couldn’t have asked for a better pool.

And here is my new desk and computer. Oh, and the cat in the lower right corner? That’s Silvie, my office kitty.

So, when you imagine me slaving away at a computer pounding out the words to my story, that’s where I’m doing it. Speaking of writing…

Well, HAYWIRE is still out and doing okay. I’d love for it to be selling more, but I do what I can. Crescent Moon Press recently sent me the final line edits for A MINOR MAGIC, and I just finished going over them yesterday. Now the file is back with them. When I know more, I will post it here immediately. Since that’s off my plate, next week I get back to work on A BROKEN MAGIC. I’m hoping to have the first draft done before Thanksgiving. After that it’s back to STILL WATER. I’ve also been asked to write short stories for two anthologies. I can’t say anything about one of them, but the other has a Kickstarter up right now to help fund it. You can go HERE to learn more. I really hope you’ll support it.

And that’s about it. Sorry for the long absence. Take care of yourself…

HAYWIRE out March 13th!

How’s that cover, huh? Because HAYWIRE is being published by a small press, I had more control over what my cover would look like than a lot of other authors would, and I knew my brother — who’d worked on previous covers me, all to my delight — was up to the challenge. What do you think? Do you like it? Please let me know.

Also, the book will be releasing on March 13th in both print and ebook versions. You won’t be able to just walk into a store and see it on a shelf since Gryphonwood is a smaller press, but you should be able to order it at your local store, as well as online. I hope that you do, and that you contact me to tell me what you thought. I’m really excited. Are you?

New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you celebrated well and responsibly. Krista and I watched a ton of movies and started playing “Skyrim” on the ol’ Xbox 360 (we just finished playing “Saint’s Row: The Third,” and I honestly think it was the most fun game I played all of last year). All in all, being the old man that I am, I consider that a good way to end 2011 and start the new year off right. But, it wouldn’t be a new year if there weren’t some resolutions to go with it, so if you’re interested I’ve decided to post mine here. Maybe if I have the whole world keeping me accountable I’ll make a greater effort to actually stick with them. Please comment periodically to see how I’m doing.

Anyway, here we go:

1. Live healthier. This means eating better and being more active. I have a gym membership, and access to a personal trainer, yet I treat both with regular indifference. That needs to change. Plus, I just need to eat healthier. No more midnight snacks!

2. Treat my writing more like the career it is and less like the thing I do when I’m not busy doing everything else. I’ve let my writing take a backseat far too often in the past, and I have to stop that. My daily goal is 2,000 words written. That’s an achievable number.

3. Read one book a week. Lately I’ve fallen into the habit of watching pointless TV shows, and I know I’d be so much better off reading instead, especially since my stack of books to read is taller than I am. So, one book a week. Another achievable number.

And that’s it! I think those are all realistic resolutions. Will I succeed? Can I dare to dream? Check back this time next year and we’ll find out.

Movember – Support the fight against men’s cancer

For those who don’t know what Movember is, I’ll let the site that organizes the event tell you:

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.

Once registered at www.movember.com, men start Movember 1st clean shaven. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

And, to make sure that I do my part to help this worthy cause, I’ve shaved off my goatee, signed up with the site, and am now asking people to donate. If you’d care to lend your dollars to this effort, please go to http://mobro.co/JustinMacumber and make your donation. We can use every dollar you’d be so generous to give. Thank you in advance.

Oh, here’s what I look like tonight, just so you know I’m on the up and up:

Just a quick update

There are times when I wonder if updating this blog serves any purpose. I rarely get comments or emails, and by rarely I mean once in a blue moon, so does anyone even read it? Perhaps if I put up notices on Twitter and Facebook letting people know I made an update, that might draw more people in. I’ll have to give that a try.


First, an update on my writing and the upcoming books. It looks like A MINOR MAGIC will be the first to hit the market. We’re hoping for a November/December release. And then, somewhere around March of 2012, you should see HAYWIRE come out. I’d like a bit more space between then, but I won’t know if that’s possible until dates firm up a touch more. I’ll keep you in the loop. And as for STILL WATER, I took a break the past two weeks to work on my podcast’s anthology plus to rest for a few days, but next week I’ll get back into it hardcore. If I’m not done with it by the end of October I’ll be upset with myself.

Speaking of podcasts, I’m still doing two of them right now. The Dead Robots’ Society is nearing it’s 200th episode, which doesn’t include all the convention panels, special episodes, and audio dramas we’ve produced, so in reality we have over two-hundred files available for download right now. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished with it. But I’m also still co-hosting with the guys over at The Hollywood Outsider. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I really encourage you to, especially if you like movies and TV shows. I have a lot of fun doing it, and the guys I host with are a lot of fun. I wish they lived closer so that I could hang out with them in person. Please, do yourself and us a favor, and give it a spin. We just put out our ninth episode.

If you’re interested at all in video games, I just finished replaying Gears Of War 1 and 2 in preparation for playing the third game, and I also just finished playing a new RPG (that’s Role Playing Game for you non-gamers) called X-MEN: DESTINY. As you can tell from the title, it is a comic book game, but with an RPG feel. It’s not the best RPG I’ve ever played (Hey, Bioware, what’s up? Get Mass Effect 3 out NOW!), but it was still a lot of fun. I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10.

I think that’s it for now. This brings you up to date on where I am with some of my projects, and as they develop I’ll post ’em here and keep you in the loop. Thanks for coming, and please let me know what you think regarding anything I’ve talked about.

Oh, before I go, please notice the new icons I’ve put at the bottom of this post. I got the idea for this from Robin Sullivan, and I’m hoping they’ll help in keeping people connected with me and what I’ve working on. If you see any problems with them, or have other ideas, please let me know.

Take care.

Life’s Ups and Downs

Man, it’s been a long while since I last posted. I keep saying that, and I keep promising to do better, but those promises don’t seem to be kept all that well, do they? I sincerely apologize for that. Life has been pretty busy, though we can all say that, I suppose. Anyway, here is the latest update. I wish it was more pleasant.

The biggest — and most recent — bit of news is that I no longer have an agent. Back in the later half of last year I met Cari Foulks of the Tribe Literary Agency, and after having her on my podcast I submitted the manuscript for DIGITAL DECAY to her to see if she’d be interested in representing it. A few days later she said she loved it and would be thrilled to rep it. I was excited, my wife Krista was excited, and I felt like I’d cleared one of the hurdles to getting published. In the months since then Cari would inform me of small developments and bits of news, but nothing substantive until a little over a month ago when she told me that a large publishing house wanted to read the full manuscript for the novel. (For those who don’t know, usually when a book is submitted to a publisher, they aren’t sent the full work. Instead they’re only given the first fifty pages or few chapters. This cuts down on the amount of paper they have to deal with. If they like what they read, then they will request the full manuscript. That isn’t a promise of anything, but it’s a good sign). I was over the moon.

Shortly after that I went on vacation with my wife and mother. We flew to Virginia to see some of Krista’s family (whom I adore), and then we rented a car and drove to Washington D.C. before heading on to Baltimore a few days later so that I could attend BaltiCon. It was an okay vacation, all in all, but it ended on a sore note for two reasons. One, my digital recorder accidentally got swapped with another just like it, so I lost all the panels I’d recorded. Two, I came down with strep throat on the last day of the con and got to enjoy being sick for about two weeks after. My wife then got sick after that, and then I got an ear infection, and now I’m dealing with a sore back. Suffice it to say, getting older sucks.

Anyway, as I was recovering I tried getting in touch with Cari to see how things were, but found her to unresponsive. I tried emailing her, texting her, and I sent messages via Facebook, all to little avail. Things came to a head yesterday when she informed me that she was quitting the agent business. What does that mean for me and the book? I have no idea. Her partner, Jonathan, informed all of Cari’s clients that he would investigate the situation, but I’m not holding out any hope of anything. I don’t even know is the house Cari mentioned really was interested in the book. I’ve got nothing to verify or check. To say that I’m bummed would be to seriously understate the situation. If Jonathan gets back to me with good news, fine, but I’m not holding my breath. So far as I’m concerned, I’m back on my own. So be it.

On to more pleasant topics, I finished my edits on A MINOR MAGIC. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I’m sure that possible publishers would have more than enough suggestions on how to change it, but as it sits now, I really like it. I have ideas for where I could take the story in the future, making A MINOR MAGIC the first in a potential series. I’m not going to go down that road, though, until I get interest in it. Until then, I’m going to work on the next thing.

Speaking of which, I’ve started work on my latest book. This one is going to be a straight up horror novel. The title for it is STILL WATER, and it’s about a fictional West Virginia coal mining town that becomes victim to an ancient evil. I’m thinking of it as a combination of Silent Hill and the Spike TV realty show Coal, with lots of water. This week I began the outlining process, but I’m still having to do some research for one of the characters, and that’s hampering things. Hopefully I’ll be able to knock the outline out by the end of next week, and then I can get writing. My goal is to have the first draft done by the end of August. I’m betting I’ll come in under that.

Well, I think that brings the blog up to speed. I talked about finishing A MINOR MAGIC, going to BaltiCon, getting sick, getting sick again, starting STILL WATER, and losing my agent. Anything else? Hhmm… Oh, well, I did sell a short story. A friend of mine, Morgan Electra, asked me to writer her a horror short story for her upcoming horror podcast, so I wrote one called INTO THE DEEP DARK. I used it as an opportunity to do a dry run on some of the elements that’ll be in STILL WATER, so I set the short story in a coal mine. When I submitted the story to her, she flipped over it. Everyone else I’ve let read it has loved it too. The consensus seems to be that I should be writing horror. But, since all Morgan wanted were the audio rights for the story, I figured I could still shop around the print rights, and I found a home for it with Abattoir, the horror side of Flying Island Press. I don’t know when it’ll be published, but I’ll let you know when it does.

NOW I think I’m finished. See you next time, and hopefully it won’t be so long a wait.

I got to meet an idol of mine

There are several writers whom I idolize. There’s of course Stephen King, my love for which I’ve spoken of many times in the past, and there’s Joss Whedon, whose work on Buffy, Angel, and Firefly has thrilled and chilled me many times over. But, to that list has to be added Kevin Smith. For those who don’t know him, Kevin Smith is the writer/director of such films as CLERKS, CHASING AMY, and ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO. If you’ve never heard of those films, I don’t blame you, but I do judge you. His films have always slanted to the comedic, and they’re usually dialogue heavy, with said dialogue coming from hip, young characters. CLERKS, his first film, came out nearly twenty years ago, and he’s been entertaining me since then. He’s also known for his comic book writing, but for me that’s really just the icing on top of his already amazing film career cake. The guy is just a damn good writer. In fact, I idolize him so much I own an action figure of him, and I have it sitting on my desk like a patron saint of writing so that he can watch over me and give me inspiration when I need it. Photographic evidence has been provided to the right. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Smith’s burgeoning podcast network. He has several great shows, and soon it’ll be growing into an actual internet radio station. My week would be pretty dull without listening to him and his friends talk about their lives and loves and work. If you’ve never listened to SModcast, then you’re seriously missing out.

But, all of that isn’t why I’m writing this blog entry. No, I’m writing this because I recently got to meet Kevin Smith, and it was a fantastic experience. You see, his next film is RED STATE, and it is very much unlike his usual fare in that it’s a horror movie. And, not only is it his first horror movie, but it’s also a movie that he didn’t want to sell the distribution rights to, so he’s been going around the country to show it to audiences himself. Luckily for me, one of his stops was Austin, which is about three to four hours south of me. Now, I have to say, when my brother first brought up the idea of going to Austin to see the movie and Kevin Smith, I was hesitant. I am a creature of habit to the extreme, and the idea of going so far to do something so other than what I’d normally be doing made me itchy. Even though I love Smith’s work, I didn’t want to go. Were it not for my wife saying she wanted to go too, I probably would have stayed home. But, she did want to go, as did my brother’s wife, so we decided to make a little trip out of it. We’d get tickets, drive together to Austin, see the movie, and then drive home the next day. It would a simple, fun time. Knowing we’d all be together made it easier for me to want to go. So, we made plans.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago, and my brother telling me that not only were we going to see the movie, but he’d also gotten us backstage passes to MEET Kevin Smith. How had my brother performed this incredible feat? After cyber-stalking Kevin for what seemed like months, finally he broke through, and Kevin said my brother could have the passes if Scott could give him something in return. Well, as luck would have it, my brother had a short song he’d created awhile ago, and he sent it to Kevin to see if he liked it. Indeed he did, and four backstage passes were issued for us. Joy! Fast-forward to a few days ago, and we all drove to Austin. My wife loves the city, as do I, so it was a pleasure to be there anyway, but knowing we’d get to meet Kevin Smith AND see the movie made it that much sweeter.

Now, if you don’t know who Kevin Smith is, I can only assume you also don’t know what RED STATE is about. RED STATE is a rather simple film, all things considered, but it is a brutal film as well. RED STATE tells the tale of three boys who think they’re going to drive to an internet hookup and get laid, only to have their little sexual sojourn turn into a horrifying ordeal at the hands of a congregation of religious zealots made in the mold of the famous Phelps family, but taken to an extreme. Soon the ATF is called in, and all hell breaks loose at the Five Points Trinity Church compound, which is part Westboro Baptist Church and part Branch Davidian Complex. It’s a short movie, but every second of it counts, and there is no fat to be had. We all really enjoyed it. I wish I had a copy of it so that I could watch it again. If you get a chance, go see it for yourselves. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

After the film, as he’s done at every stop on the tour, Kevin likes to come out and do a little Q&A with the audience. I say little, but really it ended up being about an hour and a half of him talking about the film and his plans for the future (which includes making one more movie — HIT SOMEBODY — before he retires from the film industry and concentrates on his writing, his internet radio show, and developing an independent film distribution company). I loved hearing him talk, but after an hour or so my legs were killing me, I was sweating like crazy, and I needed to go to the bathroom. When it was over, it was bittersweet. Fortunately we knew we were going to meet Kevin soon, so it really wasn’t over at all.

I’ve been lucky, in that because of my podcast and writing I’ve gotten to meet a lot of celebrities I look up to, either in person or over the phone while interviewing them. I’ve met Kevin Anderson (writer of more books than I’ll ever be able to produce from my meager fingers), Nathan Fillion (star of such TV shows as Firefly and Castle), Ray Park (his greatest claim to fame was playing the roll of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, and you need to hear my wife tell the story of that meeting), and Tracy Hickman (one of the authors of the Dragon Lance series, which when I was kid I thought was better than The Lord Of The Rings) amongst others. Meeting Kevin Smith might have been better than them all, because not only did I get to shake his hand and tell him how much I liked his work, but for those few moments he was really engaged with me on a personal level. Thanks to my brother I was able to talk to and touch a person I idolize. Thank you, Scott. And thank you, too, to Kevin Smith. I really hope you kept my business card, and that you call me. I know you’d have fun on my podcast, and getting to talk more with you would be a dream come true.

Anyway, that’s it from me. The trip to Austin was great, the movie was amazing, and I’m still kind of floating on the high of it. Now if only I could figure out a way to meet Stephen King and Joss Whedon…