All posts by enkousama

Deadlines Suck

Deadlines suck people. Especially when self imposed.

Why, I hear you ask? Well, we already have the foundations that I am insane but here’s some specifics. I’ve been working non stop since the 3rd of this month. I had episodes 8-10 to finish up for Evil Plan Inc. and those are about 15,000 words apiece. That included creating the beats and actually writing them down.

That meant that for the first time since writing Firstborn I was putting in 12 hour workdays (show what number to anyone who says writing is a hobby – hobby, my dick!!). I had to make the deadline if I wanted to get the preview out by December (which is not gonna happen due to editing issues) and the full season out in January (see other brackets for same reason plus some cover issues too).

Yeah, shit don’t work like that. Other people have lives, Ryan, and not everyone is will to work until they are literally hallucinating. Serisosly I still think Genghis Khan was in my house – we did not talk though and I bind him away, like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched. 

Long story short, I plan to release the 4 episodes preview of Evil Plan Inc., by the end of December (think of it as a New Year’s gift – that’s how we roll over here in Ryan’s head). And sometime early next year (I wanna say February) the full season will be available. That’s ten episodes folks, or around 200,000 words.

Yeah. You read correctly. (For the same price as ONE novel).

I’m also working on a Legacy thing – some short stories – that will be a surprise for you guys. Legacy has been out for a year exactly (Book 1 Firstborn published on 12/13/13) and you guys are awesome in your support. Hence, my gift to you this year.

But let’s talk about deadlines and how much ass they suck. Okay show of hands (Ryan these people are reading – and they can’t go back in time, suddenly manifest teleportation powers and appear in your house just to indulge you in your Lord of the Flies schemes). Who here forgets to eat at times? Cos this happens all the time with me. I’ve actually shrunken down this month. Skinny jeans became bellbottoms and I’m pretty sure my bone structure became some sort of gelatinous goop that can squeeze through tiny crevices like an octopus.

And what I find hilarious is the displacement of stress. I can work 12 hours non stop and be all zen and shit. But two weeks later I can be typing something, bang my knee across the table and immediately think that my world is falling apart. That one strike on an edged piece of wood is the karmic trigger that will create a shit storm of rage and self doubt that may or may not end up with me in dry tears, watching episodes of the Newsroom and thinking the world is against me.

I’m not gay – but the evidence to support that case is getting less and less by the second.

So where am I now? After getting it through my skull that the early deadlines were for nothing, and freaking out (see above) I am not in that final stage of editing and post stress where I finish all my shit and think “That’s it? I remember more. There must be more – FUCK what am I doing wrong?”

And that’s when I start mining for more work. (It’s times like these I question me decision not to drink) On the other hand, I am no longer starving nor seeing ancient rulers (which is a shame. I better start picking mushrooms in the springtime)

But here’s some good news – despite shit hitting the fan and having to push deadlines I realised that I crushed NaNoWriMo so hard. In the past three weeks I burnt past the 50K word limit by another 20K, edited 50 K (that’s episodes 1-4) and the best part – I get to publish it afterwards.

And here’s the kicker. I did some counting before writing this and my tally for this year is about 500,000 words. THAT’S HALF A MILLION FUCKING WORDS OF PUBLISHABLE CRAP.

Holy kittens on a stereo system that explodes after playing Daft Punk.

That’s A LOT of words. Guess it was a productive year. You were right, Mr. Khan – I can make it. No, I won’t join you in your conquest of Space Mountain. Yes, I know Disney is an empire and that Star Wars 7 title is horrible. No, Miley Cyrus is not a real princess and if you wanna get with her you gotta take a number, right after the hammer (wrecking ball) and before her second cousin.

(Yes, yes I’m terrible, blah blah – I don’t hear you blaming Genghis. He came up with this shit).

Okay I’m done.

Peace out, Ryan

 

PS. I still cannot believe that number. Holy cows!!

PSS. If you haven’t already subscribed to the blog – there’s a button somewhere on the side. That way you’ll know exactly when I release something new. Remember that the Evil Plan Inc., previews and the Legacy surprise are both FREE.

So subscribe and make your world better.

Episode 45: Sci-Fi panel

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Hey folks. Sorry about the radio silence this week but it has been one heck of a week for me. Deadlines suck.

Today’s episode is the last of my panels at the Malta Comics expo and this one deserves a special nomination. First off my guests were Joe Harris, Mike Costa and Mario Azzoppardi – three of the biggest legends in telling science fiction themed stories.

Second – there was a point in this panel were we argued. I don’t mean there was yelling or cursing – we were all professional and courteous (as everyone should be). But we definitely a difference of opinion on what we thought was the driving point of our careers. It’s a matter of where one is coming from – traditional methods or indie. The age old argument.

What I liked was that we all agreed to disagree and there in that sense the panel was a huge success – it brought together people with different perspectives to a discussion about something we all love.

But enough about that. You can listen to the episode here:

(PS you may wanna turn your speakers up since the recording is a little low – the set up of the room was messed up)

 

 

Music:

Pink Steampunk Girl

Drev

www.fixtstore.com/drev

www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to this website and download the app for the podcast to stream all episodes FOR FREE.

 

Peace out,

Ryan

Episode 44: Interview with Ron Marz and Yanick Paquette

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Second panel of the Expo folks, and this one is interesting to listen to. Let me open by saying I had, and still have, no idea what these people do. Sure we talk about their contributions and their methods but I suppose I’m not a die hard comic fan – which is exactly what made me perfect for this interview.

No fan booing, no fun fair. Just a conversation. And that’s just the way I like it.

I’m not gonna give you any spoilers but I do manage to achieve what I set out to do: which is to compare different art forms and discover some common ground. And in that regard we succeeded.

But what I did not count on was the fact that these folks are from a different world – a world long dominated by big corporations and methods that for a long time were the ONLY option for any creative person. And as such they are trained to see the world as just that – simply because they were ‘brought up’ in that world.

I’m not saying I’m right and they are wrong. I’m not even saying I’m wrong and they are right. All I’m saying is that we have different viewpoints of the world and the way we do things and that they were having a hard time understanding where I came from.

And that’s fine, really. We can just agree to disagree.

Enjoy the interview folks:

 

 

Music:

Pink Steampunk Girl

Drev

www.fixtstore.com/drev

www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

 

PS. I know I sound exhausted. It’s been a rough week and I got a crap load more work to do before I can finally say I am done. But I promised you guys stories and I will deliver – or die trying.

Yeah, there’s always that chance.

Till next time folks,

Ryan

Ode to Naruto

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 15 years, you’ve probably heard of Masashi Kishimoto’s manga Naruto in some form or another. The serialisation started in Shonen Jump Magazine in 1999 (how old to you feel right now?) and ended last week – 700 issues.

Let’s stop and think about that for a second. I’ve never drawn manga. Hell I can barely draw stick figures. My only education in the world of manga and comics as a whole comes from the manga Bakuman, which I wrote about extensively on the blog before. But I am a writer – and I know exactly what you have to go through to get your work out there. It’s not easy.

Many people make the wrong assumption that money is the main currency of life – in reality it’s time. But then again we are raised in a consumer based society so we naturally tend to lean towards something we can count, pocket and spend materialistically. I don’t mean to lecture. But I bring this point up because that is especially true for writers – nay, artists, of all sorts. We value any project on how much time will it take to produce and how much time will it take to sell and then add up the money we expect this to generate and then proceed accordingly. It’s not as clean as that but follow the logic here: Naruto has 700 issues. That’s weekly. That means that every week, this guy had to present a 20 page chapter to the magazine and have it run.

Now I don’t know about you, but it takes me more than a week to finish a piece of work. Yes 20 pages doesn’t seem like a lot, but let me assure you that these people (and their small army of assistants) are usually so pressed for time it’s amazing they get any sleep at all. Imagine being on a deadline every week and every tick of the clock as if whispering “one less, one less.” No wonder mangakas like Yoshihiro Togashi take hiatuses to be with their families (or in Togashi’s case to play Dragon Age).

Now as far as I can tell Naruto never went on hiatus. That’s 700 straight weeks that this guy delivered, under a deadline, one of the top 3 mangas (tied with Tite Kubo’s Bleach and Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece) for 15 years!

The equivalent to that would be a writer of serialised fiction to release a new episode each week or for a novelist to release the next book every 2-3 months. That’s the kind of dedication this man brought – regardless of whether you liked the comic or not.

But marvelling aside, and fanboying aside, let’s talk about community. I’ve often quoted Joanna Penn in saying that writers have no need to compete against each other but rather cooperate with each other and help boost one another. Other than being altruistic, this also has a business strategy behind it. Goodwill goes a long way nowadays and it’s always smart to make allies out of your peers. Writing is not a Zero-Sum game. But what does that have to do with Naruto?

The Japanese have many faults, beginning with their twisted view of masculinity and lack of women’s empowerment, the sheer influx of perverts and tentacle porn – a conversation on the latter brought you the Lurking Voice podcast.

But the Japanese culture is one that demands and rewards hard work. They even have a work for it: “Otsukaresama” – which literally means ” thank you for your hard work.” I like that phrase. We already live in a culture that highlights the negative, so why not embrace and recognise when someone busted their balls (600 words without swearing, that’s some kind of record for me).

When Naruto ended I came across these two articles that illustrate just the kind of community Western writers should aspire to. And it shouldn’t be just as a farewell. I think that perhaps writers need to acknowledge one another on their platforms. The more successful and business-savvy ones certainly do.

Okay so let’s talk about something else: legacy. No not my books, the Legacy Series, although funny how that nice little prompt just appeared there huh?

I’m talking about what does it mean when a series that touched lives the way Naruto (and many other – remember FRIENDS or Buffy?) did, suddenly ends. Sure a story must have a beginning, a middle, and by that premise, an end – but is that all a story is?

Because I think Naruto brought the ninja culture and certain elements of Shinto and Japanese mythology to light. I think it spoke of values and friendship and not giving up when everyone says to and protecting those who are weak and finding family even in the non traditional sense. I think it spoke about a generation of kids trying to find themselves, trying to define themselves, outside the box – particularly to a culture as rigid as the Japanese. Isn’t that kinda the same way Buffy gave women a voice and a kick ass attitude to a generation of women still struggling to get their voice heard?

This is art and therefore this is legacy. That’s why art exists, people – to give a voice, to express an idea, to show a different way or the same way in a better way. The truth of the matter is, no writer sets out to change the world. At best they want to change their  world, but then the stumble onto something that speaks to them in a way that nothing else did and their work becomes better because of it. I’m not saying Naruto is life changing – but I am saying it belongs to a category of works that have shaped my life, and that is the first step to becoming a true artist.

A lot of things that have once shaped me into the person I am today are ending (Bleach is on it’s last few chapters too folks, and Avatar: the Legend of Korra has only a few more weeks before the last season is over). This year has been a year of ends.

Actually scratch that – this has been a year of change. In order to change you must first stop doing something and start something else. The dichotomy of change is that it rests in the cusp between life and death: the end of something to start something.

Old stories are coming to an end – but the good news is, new stories are rising from their ashes. I am happy to be one of those writers, the contributors to the next wave of awesome, inspiring stories. And when my time comes to hit THE END, I will gladly pass on the torch to the next generation of awesome storytellers.

So I look a this as a farewell and as a challenge: for my work (and that of any other) to rise to the level of awesome that Naruto has risen to, and inspire and entertain in the same way.

Otsukaresama, Kishimoto-Sensei.

Peace out folks,

Ryan

Chronicles of a Comic Expo: Day 3 – a New Hope (kinda)

This is the last one people and thank Christ cos even I am getting bored of them. I think finally my brain is ready to move on, let go of the wonderful and ball-sucking memories alike, and go back to being the literary malicious god that I am.

So let’s do this one last one right, and then you’ll never hear about this (other than the next two podcast episodes which are really really awesome interviews – I promise).

Day 3 has a precursor to it. I’m used to the organizers sending texts and online bullshit about venue changes and the such during the expo. I’m sort of OK with them coming up to me and asking me to fuck off and go nest somewhere else. I get that this was the first time organizing and that it may take a while to develop the savvy for it.

But it is never, never, EVERcool to text me a change of venue when I’m in the shower. There’s no reason why – you don’t and shouldn’t care. First off, water. That and cellphones really don’t do well together and I’ve already invested 3 days and about 2KG of my bodywork into this (oh yeah, the lack of food and constant carrying actually made me loose weight – fuck, me, right?) Secondly – what kinda world do we live in where a brother can’t even enjoy a shower for ten fucking minutes without something going off? (pun not intended but hey)

Back on topic. I am having an argument over the phone whilst desperately trying to keep it out of running water, and we finally settle that the time of the panel shall remain the same (as I had told everyone I knew) but the venue would change. Not cool, but you gotta live with it.

The first thing I do is find Joe Harris. This dude seemed cool and all – but little word of warning, that shit gets old real quick. Somebody give that guy some Red Bull and maybe some crack too.

Also my second guest shows up: Mario Azzoppardi. Now, I don’t know much about this dude since he’s a local guy and from my parents’ generation. Apparently they fucked him over some censorship in this country (quelle fuckin’ suprisé) and he ended up spending 30 years in Canada when he directed Stargate SG-1. Not bad.

So I’m thinking “I got a guy who’s laid back, wrote X-Files and just can’t be bothered with much. And I got a guy who must have 30 years of pent up rage and sarcasm ready to lash out at this country. I can work with this.”

Now, because despite what I say online, I can be a professional, I prepare scripts for the panel. They are not actually scripts – they are 2 big font pages on a word document with a total of twenty points to help carry on the conversation. I’d be surprised if there are more than 200 words in total.

And none of them read them.

So whilst the panel before us selfishly took an extra 10 minutes, I racked my brain for something to do or say.

Meanwhile, whilst I am setting up and still trying to think of something, Mike Costa shows up to attend the panel. This was the dude I was supposed to interview yesterday (day 2) but it never happened. He’s a big time comic and sci-fi guy. And the same rules as yesterday still apply.

I had no conversation. I had two guests that clearly did not want to be there. I had a dead panel. So how do I revive it? Add a third person. That chaos of all three of them trying to talk together will surely fill in the time, take pressure off of me and we will for sure get a diversity of opinion. (the last one not so much – but hey – 2 out of 3 isn’t bad)

So I put him on the panel – with no mic cos sound guy is still being hatched from his incubator of not-being-there-ever – and the conversation starts. Mike and Joe share a mic, which basically means Joe could not be bothered to speak into the goddamn thing and Mario Azzoppardi kept looking at his as if it might jump out and attack him. Still, the audio quality is OK on the recording – not the best but manageable.

This was the single biggest panel to date. It had a record amount of people, it had the largest number of panelists and  even members of the staff came by to see it.

The first 10 mins were slow as a fucking snail of weed. So I resort to punishing the audience and my guests by being myself. I had nothing to loose, it was post Halloween and I had no coffee.

So I sang the opening lines of “Cry Little Sister” as the three of them looked at me like one looks at a salamander in their salad. Then I do the Lost Boys line – “I tried to make you immortal” “YOU TRIED TO MAKE ME A KILLER.”

It’s all there folks. You’ll hear it.

That seemed to revive to audience – that and my obscure Dark Angel and ESP references. Also the anime references. That impressed the others.

I had two more bullets prepared to fire at the audience should they behave in a typical Maltese way and look at me catatonically. I had the Matrix “there is no spoon” line and the Richard Attenborough line from Jurassic Park 2 – “Welcome, to Jurassic Park!”

Nothing to lose folks. Nothing to lose.

So long story short (an hour 10 mins panel) – we wrap up and I hear Mario turn to the other guys and go “I think this panel was very intelligent and smartly planned.” That is a compliment! In fact I impressed him so much he wants to have a business meeting (and we had a small talk right there at the expo).

But more on that later.

I was free, I was done. I was happy to chase people around and get contacts and pictures. Oh the pictures. Go on my Facebook page or profile and see those beauties.

I also have some good news for you podcast listeners. The Sailor Moon voice actors, namely Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask), Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon), Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter) and Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars) have all agreed to by on the podcast for an interview.

Right? Awesome.

So let’s talk about the ending. I know I’m gonna get some slack for this but fuck it. My blog.

Originally there was going to be an after party. Just a small gathering with just us folks and the guests, we goof around a little and have a drink. This was supposed to be the final teary goodbye.

This never happened.

Hell, I meet a dozen people there, all with their own schedules. I manage to say bye to like, two, and then I’m told that there is no after party. I don’t know the reason nor do I care. I never got to say goodbye to some of the new friends I made and that sucked.

Now I can either bitch about the unprofessionalism showed at that particular moment or maybe even go on a tirade on the self-damaging mentality this country seems to have.

Or I just say thank you for the opportunity, and wave around the podcast, knowing that all of my friends are going to be on it. Three cheers for the Lurking Voice Podcast.

So what did we learn:

- Shit hits the fan. When that happens you can either be the one to duck and hide, or be the one to throw more shit and laugh maniacally.

- People suck. Don’t rely on them. Be smarter, be better. And forge your own path.

- Never be unprofessional. Never be disrespectful. As my friend once said “we can still kill them with respect.”

- I had fun and learnt a lot from this. Period.

Thank you guys for reading about this journey. I don’t know what the next step is gonna be. I just hope it will be better than this. And I think it will. I think this will be improved, not just as an expo but as a culture. But it may take a while

I just hope I don’t shoot anyone till then.

Peace out,

Ryan

Episode 43: Panel with Jennifer Cihi and Stefanie DeLeo

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Earlier today I posted a blog post about Day 2 at the Malta Comics Expo and this is the result of the first panel that actually worked.

I think my favorite line ever is when, during the first 2 seconds of the episode, Jennifer leans off mike and says “Ryan I think your head is about to explode.”

Here’s the Cliffnotes version of what happened until that panel: we’re supposed to do a writing panel, shit hits the fan, the panel doesn’t happen and I suggest Jennifer join us so I could at least get something out of that day.

We had about 7 people in the audience which is so fucking sad – but then we start interacting with them and by the end I feel so grateful that they were so cool. Hell, I even hung out with two of them for an hour after the show.

Both Jennifer and Stefanie have agreed to be interviewed on the podcast on a later date, so – YAY!!

Also, when the audience people speak it’s not on mic – we couldn’t get a mic for them cos the sound guy just fucked off. Seriously, we were luck we got Jennifer a mic and she was headlining the damn show.

Sigh.

But you know what? This panel was awesome and I am glad it happened the way it did. The experience was richer, the laughs and off topic comments were plenty and some of them even got my jokes.

A win-win. Enjoy:

 

 

Music:

Pink Steampunk Girl

Drev

www.fixtstore.com/drev

www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

Chronicles of a Comic Expo: Day 2 – Rebound

I can’t really just come out and say this was a good day – cos it wasn’t. But nor can I say it sucked – because it didn’t. This day is the perfect metaphor of “making the best out of what you have” and often that results in something completely awesome.

Let me set the stage: the original plan was for me to interview Mike Costa at 9 and Ron Marz at 1. You folks know this from listening to my podcast. Now, if you read yesterday’s post you know that my writing panel with Stefanie DeLeo was pushed to Saturday (Day 2) at 10. Got it? Good.

Now here’s what really happened:

I get stuck in traffic and show up at the expo at 9.18am. (I was looking at the clock with OCD-like precision.) This one is my fault people – I hadn’t slept for a while because of all the nerves, I was disappointed from Day 1 and quite honestly my spirits were very low. Also, certain authors are lazy and like to watch late night reruns of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. But again, I can cop up to the responsibility and say this is my fault.

What isn’t my fault is the clusterfuck (oh bdw, yes people I am going to swear – when I do it it’s artistic) I found coming in. The guests (including my interviewee) had now shown up, the doors hadn’t been open, the line outside was help up and the entire staff was running around scattered. All we needed were a few Hamtaro costumes and the scene would be set.

So I find one of them, ask them what’s going on and find out I should start setting up for the 10 am writing panel instead. Fair enough – and I do so. Meanwhile I wait and wait and wait for the sound guy (this turned out to be a recurring problem) and also for the guests. As it turns out, Stefanie was being ushered (or dragged) all over the damn place with each staff member providing a different location.

Finally at 10.30 we’re ready to start, only there are no people there – well that’s not exactly true. Some genius forgot to update the timetable, meaning we were taking the spot reserved for Star Wars. I had to turn kids away, and despite hating children, it’s really not cool for me to have to crush their expectations.

So how did we solve this issue? I did my own announcement: loud, brash and with the kind of energy that makes you go “what the fuck?”

Still the line was help up (god knows what was going on there) and so by the time people started showing up it was 10.55 and they were there for the Anime Diva panel.

Which means that there is no writing panel – ever. (Never fear, I’ll figure something out for you guys and still give you that material one way or the other – I gave my word and I will keep it).

But here’s the silver lining. The Anime Dive turns out to be Jennifer Cihi (whose surname I insist on mispronouncing – even on the podcast. Sorry Jennifer. She’s cool). And she was to be interviewed by Stefanie DeLeo – who was on my non existent writing panel.

So I suggest that instead of having Jennifer run around the place and start late, why not bring her in our room where I have all the audio stuff set up and we can do an interview there? Stefanie agrees, Jennifer is hopping like a schoolgirl (Yes, she’s that happy) and thus the FIRST panel of the day starts.

And you know what? I have it recorded. It’s today’s podcast episode in fact, which will drop in a couple hours.

I loved that show. The three of us had good chemistry on stage and it showed. Hell, at one point we turned the tables and began talking to our audience members – all of which were cool. Seriously, having that kind of interaction more than made up for the near empty room we were in.

Now that could have been a happy ending, but this is me we’re talking about and there are no happy endings – just the uncertainty of death and destruction that is almost George RR Martin-esque in nature.

My second interview with Ron Marz was quite the adventure. First off, they push it by an hour so all of my friends who were attending the expo missed it and now it clashed with another interview: one with Yanick Paquette (who’s surname I CANNOT remember nor pronounce). His interviewer does not show up and I have an idea. When clusterfucked, clusterfuck back. Chaos begets chaos – fight fire with fire and all that.

So I say “What does he do?”

I am told he’s a comic artist.

“Put him on my panel and we’ll have a double interview,” says I.

At that point I actually thought the organizer was going to kiss me. (No offense dude, but thanks for holding back).

Now, both of them are cool, but this was late in the day and clearly none of them wanted to be interviewed. Hell, I was ready to fuck off. But I understand the concept of duty and responsibility – hence we start the interview (Which will be next week’s podcast episode).

It’s cool but two things go wrong:

1. They keep giving me generic answers. You know how I interview. You know I like honesty. You know I hate this “careful what you say cos the agent is right there” crap. I don’t believe in any of it and they gave way too much of it. It’s not their fault. They come from a world and generation where that was your only option – suck corporate dick or perish.  I get it. Doesn’t mean I like it. So I dance around and get some good material – not bad for an interview where I had no idea who the guests were.

2. I had my first heckler. Yep. Some cunt decided it was cool to fact-check everything the guests said and yell the correct answers out loud.

Yeah. Sigh.

It’s in the audio recording people and I will not take it off. Hell, no. I’m not gonna take off the two minutes I spend tearing this guy a new asshole. Oh yes I did – I went Joe Rogan on this motherfucker and it felt AWESOME.

Don’t heckle. Worse yet don’t heckle a comic panel – how lame are you? And never heckle a panel I am on, especially when the guests are being guarded.

It will not end well.

So anyway. Once the gig is over and I pack my stuff I decide to play tourist and go around. There’s not much left cos it’s late but at least I catch my Tai Chi club give their demo (shout out to you awesome folks) and catch up with some old friends.

And the best part: Both Jennifer and Stefanie have agreed to an interview on the Lurking Voice Podcast, so I have that to look forward to.

Stay tuned for Day 3 and Episode 43 of the podcast: Interview with Jennifer Cihi and Stefanie DeLeo  – Coming in a few hours,

Ryan