Mixtape 2013

So this arrived:

See?  It's alive!

See? It’s alive! ALIIIIVE!

That’s right.  After a much longer than anticipated delay, Mixtape #2 is finally available for purchase at finer comic book stores everywhere.

Kind of.

What’s changed is that we are no longer going to solicit Mixtape through Diamond Direct, opting instead to go through Comic Flea Market, Indy Planet, and some other options.  This has been in the works for a while, but we wanted to make sure everything was sorted out before we made it official.  The galley proof of Mixtape #2 arrived last week, some minor changes to it have been implemented, and it’s up for sale right now on Indy Planet, found here.

Lookin' gooood.

Lookin’ gooood.  Lookin’ real good.

Now, that does mean that we’ve cancelled the orders on file for Mixtape #2 and #3, so if you have the book on backorder at your store or as part of your pull list, unfortunately you’re going to have to re-order it again.  But there’s an easy way to do that, that makes it easier on you and your local store.  Read on …

For me, the biggest concern has been that we get books to people who want them.  Fact is not everyone has easy access to a comic book store. One Mixtape fan lives in Iqaluit, N.W.T., and you can imagine how difficult it is for them to get a copy of the book.  Another lives in Oslo, and it took him several months to track down a copy of #1.  Plus, when people inevitably ask where they can get Mixtape #2, #3, #4 and so on like they did with #1, we can now point them in the direction best suited to their needs and location.

So, Mixtape #2 is available now, with #3 dropping in a few months.  We’re working on getting #1 reprinted so people who missed it can still get a copy, but there are still some available for purchase hereMixtape will also be available as non DRM’d digital downloads for Nook, Kindle, iPad and all standard eReaders.  You can download #1 now through Comics Plus.

Now that said, I have a favor to ask; if you’re willing to, please have your comic store order your books for you.  They can order Mixtape through Indy Planet and enjoy the same bulk discounts like they got through Diamond, starting with five copies.*

We’ve also priced Mixtape #2 slightly below cover as an added incentive for the stores.  We’re big supporters of local retailers, and their ordering and stocking of Mixtape helps spread word that the book exists. I know for a fact a lot of Mixtape’s readers discovered the book simply by seeing it on the shelf, picking it up, flipping through it, and adding it to their armload of books for that week. Plus, comic book stores are one of the last places you can still get that ‘record store experience’ and we’d all hate to see the local comic shop go the way records stores did.

We plan to get the remainder of Mixtape Vol. 1 (a.k.a.”Left of the Dial”) out in 2013.  Once that’s done, we’ll start work on Vol. 2 “Daydream Nation” which takes Jim, Lorelei, Terry, Noel, and Siobhan from the cloistered confines of Garrison Creek to the big bad world of college.  I’ve already scripted the first two stories in that arc, with the other three plotted.  The grand plan is for five, possibly six Mixtape arcs, and possibly a spin-off featuring further adventures of some seemingly minor characters, under the working title of “Cassingles”.

So that’s where we stand.

Getting Mixtape into stores in 2012 was a big challenge, but we feel this is the best way forward. You won’t see those big gaps between issues like you’ve seen so far.  As more details and options to acquire Mixtape become available, we’ll post them on TwitterFacebook, and here.

March, 2013

Coming soon = March, 2013

So that’s it.  Closing up shop here for the next couple weeks, but I’ll be back in January (assuming those Mayans were wrong about December 21st – in which case, nice knowing you).  Over the Christmas break I plan to – well, keep writing, actually.  Deadlines don’t take holidays.

And again, Mixtape wouldn’t be the success it is without the readers and fans who’ve stuck with us through this entire saga. 2012 was the opening act. 2013 is the main event.

*It’s since been pointed out the volume discount currently available through IndyPlanet is not quite the 50% discount comic book stores expect. We are working on getting that sorted and should have the info for that in January. Any comic shops interested in ordering books at a discount can contact me through mixtapecomic@gmail.com and when the details are set I can let you know. Thanks!

The Writer’s Block

When making music gets too easy, it becomes harder to make it sing” ~ Jack White

For a writer I don’t talk or write very much about writing. Not in general, anyway. I certainly talk about my writing enough, but not much about the craft.  It’s a double-edged sword; why write about it when I should be writing it? Plus, every writer has their opinions on how best to write. They’re all different, and they all come from the same place; experience.  But since everybody’s experience is different, their advice, their “rules”, will likewise be different.  It’s why I’m loath to embrace the teachings of writing “gurus” or “experts” as really they’re teaching you how to write like them.

Take “Writer’s Block”. Some debate its existence. Some sniff they’ve never experienced writer’s block, and that its existence is the sign of a lazy wannabe writer.  Thing is, I’m naturally suspicious of people who claim writing comes easy to them all the time. My guess is that’s because they’re not trying terribly hard, like they’re setting the bar low (like, on the ground low) and then crowing after they’ve jumped it with ease.  Now they may be THAT good (and some are masters of their craft), but I’ve yet to see it in any writers I know, or in myself, and I’ve been writing pro coming up on fourteen years.

From my experience, writer’s block exists, though it’s less a wall you keep crashing into than a sign something is amiss with the project in question. Some structural flaw, some lapse in story logic preventing you from moving forward on it.  It’s your mind telling you something’s wrong, and forcing you to articulate what the problem is.

For me writer’s block isn’t necessarily a bad thing; usually it means I’ve written myself into a corner and need to backtrack a bit, to write my way out.  There have been times where I’ve had to take a break from a problematic project, go off and do something else for a bit, then come back to it, figure out where I got tripped up, and proceed from that point.

Around 12 years ago I had conceived the idea for a monster movie, while on a bighttime bus ride through a raging snowstorm back to the city.  On getting back home I plotted it, outlined it, and started writing it.  And I got to maybe the two thirds through it, to the point where … I … just … stopped.  It felt like I’d hit a wall.  I put it aside and told myself I’d get back to it in a day or two.  Months elapsed and I still hadn’t returned to it.

Then, one night, I had a dream.  In that dream, I saw the characters in that screenplay, all sitting around where I left them, checking their watches and saying; “He’s coming back, right”? They were just there, waiting for me.  And the next morning I awoke, picked up the screenplay where I left it, and finished it in the next day and a bit; 40 pages drafted in a white hot flash of inspiration. Now, they were shitty pages, but they wre finished shitty pages, and I could look those pages now  as a problem that needed solving.  Determining just what I had done wrong was relatively easy, and by the end of that month I had rewritten and revised to the point I said to myself; “Hey, this isn’t too bad after all.”

[Turns out when it was finally finished, and sent out, ended up being the best received screenplay I’ve ever written. It’s yet to be produced, but it led to me being hired on numerous projects.  It’s about vampires.  It may still have life in it.]

This is NOT the vampire to which I refer. Good lord, no.

So point being, sometimes you need to hit that wall.  Sometimes you need writer’s block.  You need to have limitations thrus upon you, to overcome them and become better at what you do.  I’d rather face those obstacles than take the steps to ensure they’re never there in the first place. You do that, you’re just fooling yourself that you’re doing great work.  You fear failure so much you’re not willing to risk it at all.  Limitations force you to become more creative in how you solve those problems.  Being more creative makes you better, no matter what your profession.

And my favorite Beatles album, by the by …

 There’s a little known story about the Beatles that, I think, illustrates this perfectly.  Post Rubber Soul, McCartney lobbied EMI, the Beatles’ label, to let the band travel to America, as the US of A had all the then state of the art technology not available to them in the UK. The Stones had done it, and the Beatles wanted to do it too; they wanted to play with these new toys.  But contractual obligations with EMI left them stuck in the UK, much to their chagrin. They and their producer George Martin were forced, against their will, to decamp to the best studio they could find, which was still using WW2 era equipment.

The studio was Abbey Road.

And the albums they recorded there — Revolver, The White Album, and the landmark Sgt. Pepper became groundbreaking works.  All because they had to take those limitations, that archaic technology, and bend it to their will to craft the sounds they heard in their heads.

See what limitations get you?

So yeah, you ask me again, I’ll tell you that Writer’s Block definitely exists. It exists because I put it there, and in the process forced me to use the tools I had all along to smash it to pieces.


Top 25

I like music. A lot. I listen to music. A lot. I listen to it mostly when I’m writing, or when I’m taking a walk (as a break from writing), and I listen when I return from that break for more writing.  I generally write from 9 am to 5 pm, and allowing for breaks, for walks, for errands, will probably cram a good 6 hours of music into a day.  Multiply that by five days a week, you’re looking at 30 hours of music.  I’ll leave weekends out of the equation, though if I were to include them, you’re probably looking at 40 hours.

This music isn’t white noise either. It’s all based on whatever project I’m working on.  I recently returned to work on the novel I had to pause working on in June, because other work with the requisite deadlines needed attention.  But slipping back into that literary world was eased by the fact I knew what music to listen to while writing it (hint; lots of BritPop).  Every project I write has a playlist of songs or albums that get me “in the zone”.  One SciFi project I’m developing with a director buddy of mine has been plotted out to David Bowie’s classic glam trifecta of Hunky Dory, The Man Who Sold The World, and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

Anyway, this next part will take some audience participation so I hope you’re all up for that.  If you have iTunes on your computer, open it up, and go to the Top 25 Most Played option.  What are your most played?  What do they say about you?  More than  you think.  To start, here’s mine:

  1. Rock n’ Roll With Me (David Bowie)
  2. The Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)
  3. Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
  4. Breathing Underwater (Metric)
  5. Romantic traffic (The Spoons)
  6. Machine Gun Silhouette (Jack White)
  7. Tom Sawyer (Rush)
  8. Going to California (Led Zeppelin)
  9. Ship of Fools (World Party)
  10. (Keep Feeling) Fascination (The Human League)
  11. Fly Farm Blues (Jack White)
  12. Crimson and Clover (Joan Jett)
  13. Echo Beach (Martha & the Muffins)
  14. Youth Without Youth (Metric)
  15. Everyday Is Like Sunday (Morrisey)
  16. Dear God (XTC)
  17. Our Lips Are Sealed (The Go Go’s)
  18. You Can’t Put Your Arms ‘Round A Memory (Johnny Thunders)
  19. Artificial Nocturne (Metric)
  20. Pretty In Pink (The Psychedelic Furs)
  21. Take On Me (A-Ha)
  22. Obsession (Animotion)
  23. I Don’t Like Mondays (The Boomtown Rats)
  24. Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)
  25. Don’t You Want Me? (The Human League)

And as proof I’m not lying, here’s the screenshot:

What I can glean from this list:

I really like Synthetica, the latest Metric album, and the gorgeous ‘Breathing Underwater’ is my favorite track.  It’s also one of the only two 2012 albums represented.

The other 2012 album represented is technically Jack White’s Blunderbuss, though ‘Fly Farm Blues’ is a single from a few years back, and ‘Machine Gun Silhouette’ is a B-side from Blunderbuss.

I’m really listening to a lot of 80s music these days. Who knew I was such a big fan of The Human League?  They’re the most represented band in the list after Metric, and tied with Jack White

The only 90s tune is by Morrisey. For any of you who knew me in High School this is a big deal because in High School I HATED Morrisey, but nostalgia means you now like stuff you would have hated 20 years ago.

And there’s only one Bowie track, but it’s probably my favorite Bowie tune.

If you’re interested and brave enough to share, please do so in the comments field below. You can forget the screen-shot as proof; I’ll just have to take you at your word.