• Tag Archives writer
  • Creator Breakfast with G.M.B. Chomichuk and Jonathan Ball (Publishing Business)

    Publishing venture sketch by G.M.B. Chomichuk
    Publishing Model Visual Documentation by G.M.B. Chomichuk

    This morning I once again met with writer/artist G.M.B. Chomichuk and writer/editor Jonathan Ball at Clementine Cafe in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. On top of the outstanding fried chicken on toast I had for breakfast, we got to work talking about the publishing business.

    See, I have a major advantage over other writers: I’m tapped into both the book publishing world and the comic book publishing world. While there are similarities in the overall business side of things, there are distinct differences and, I believe, it’s a merge of these two models that are the future of publishing.

    What’s happening in the book publishing world at present is an old archaic system at war with the new digital paradigm. While some adaptations have been made, for the most part book publishing is operating on an out-of-date system that doesn’t work in today’s reading climate which is why most writers cannot make a living from their craft. What compounds the problem are publishers–big and small–stuck in the old way of doing things and writers who don’t want to do anything but write. This is a major problem that hurts both publishers, creators, and readers.

    Ground was gained this morning in coming up with a new way of doing things that merges the best of the book publishing world and that of the comics publishing industry while setting aside dated systems that hinder bringing books and comics to the reader. Some of the ideas put forth were new (to me) and others were in line with the bomb that went off when my workload exploded.

    The above photo–a visual documentation of our little meeting created by G.M.B. Chomichuk–shows how three creators think when hashing out how to create a publishing system that benefits both the creator and reader. Yes, the image is hard to follow without explanation, but will serve as a future reference point for a venture that was brought up during the meeting (details still to be ironed out).

    The main goal with these meetings outside of spending time with friends is to learn something new, have discussion, and then apply those lessons to see what works and what doesn’t.

    In the end, it was a productive morning and one that will stew in my brain for a while as I retool things over here.

    (Please also see my first entry about my breakfast with these two creators by going here.)


  • Creator Breakfast with G.M.B. Chomichuk and Jonathan Ball (Networking)

    A.P. Fuchs writing by G.M.B. Chomichuk
    Sketch of A.P. Fuchs at the keyboard by G.M.B. Chomichuk

    This morning I had a wonderful breakfast at Clementine Cafe here in Winnipeg with writer/illustrator G.M.B. Chomichuk and writer/editor Jonathan Ball. And while networking wasn’t the reason I chose to see them, it was something that inevitably happened given that all three of us work in the business.

    I usually see these dudes at book signings or on the convention circuit, but since I’ve been away from events for a season, it was a pleasure to have a sit-down with them and talk shop and catch up after so long. It was also an opportunity to share work habits and pick each other’s brains over how we do things and what works and what doesn’t, tell stories, and learn a thing or two.

    Today I came away with two wins, and in order of occurrence they were: A dynamite breakfast. Had the Turkish eggs and it was brilliant. The second was a writing gig. I’ll reveal more details about that here on the blog when I’m allowed to.

    Most creators would rather be holed up in their studio or office and just work. And while that has its charm and is important in order to get things done, it’s also critical time is spent with those in the business. First and foremost, it’s a chance to simply be friends with like-minded people and realize you’re not alone in the universe regarding your creative quirks. Secondly, it might lead to opportunities to use your craft you might not otherwise have had.

    In summary, go have breakfast with other creatives when you can. It yields positive friendships and, sometimes, a job.

    Networking, man. Networking.


  • On my Favorite Book that I Wrote

    One of the questions writers get asked is, which of their own books is there favorite? It’s a difficult question to answer because each book has its own charm and special qualities. However, if I were to be hard pressed and had to give an answer, I’d say it’s my first book, A Stranger Dead, simply because it was my first book and the one that kicked off this book-writing career of mine.

    It’s the story that asks the question: If you found out who the Antichrist was before his season of power, would you kill him? It’s like asking the famous question if one would go back in time and kill Hitler.

    The story is solid and one I’m proud of. Looking back, the writing needs work, which is why I plan on one day rereleasing the book. Perhaps on my twentieth anniversary of being a writer.

    There’s something about that first book that was atmospheric, both in the story itself and in the air whenever—and wherever—I wrote it. It was my first special world, one I had complete control over. It was my first attempt at making a book.

    The first book in my writer library.

    Firsts, no matter what they are, good or bad, will always stand out as the benchmarks of our lives. A Stranger Dead was one of mine. What is one of yours?


  • On Ten Books

    Every writer loves to read, so here are ten of my favorite books in no particular order and, yes, there’s even a kids one in there, too.

    There are others, but this is enough for now.

    1) Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
    2) Batman: Knightfall by Dennis O’Neil
    3) Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
    4) Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore
    5) The Chamber by John Grisham
    6) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    7) The Long Walk by Richard Bachman
    8) George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
    9) The Death and Life of Superman by Roger Stern
    10) Batman: No Man’s Land by Greg Rucka

    I’m sure there’ll be another list in the future.


  • Axiom-man Fan Art and Kickstarter News!

    There are days in this business where things get tough and you wonder why even bother with all this stuff? It doesn’t matter how successful you are. Every writer hits that wall of “what’s the point?” and then has to deal with it. Then stuff like this comes into your inbox and you’re reminded your work isn’t just about you and there are people out there who genuinely care about what you do.

    Below is a piece of fan art from Axiom-man superfan Movies, Comics, and MTG. Below that is a video he made about Axiom-man and the upcoming Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm Kickstarter.

    A special thank you to Movies, Comics, and MTG for these. They made my day at a time when I needed a boost.

    Axiom-man Punch Shot


  • My Writing Process – Don’t Really Have One

    APF Desk 010417

    For some reason I’ve recently been giving a lot of thought to my writing process and I came to the conclusion I don’t really have one. At least, not in the conventional sense when someone thinks about how an author writes a book. Usually it involves notions of slaving away over the words, crafting each sentence to perfection, doing rewrite after rewrite, line editing, copy editing, proofing and so forth.

    None of that applies to me. Not in that sort of depth, anyway.

    My first book, A Stranger Dead, and from what I recall, involved a lot of that: slaving away over each word. Being a first book and first effort, that’s how I thought book writing was done. And, hey, if that’s how you write your books, by all means, whatever works, right?

    But for me, I’ve been following the same writing process for at least a decade. It’s bare-bones simple, and doesn’t require a lot of brain power other than the first draft, and even then, I’m not exhausting my mental energy to the point of being brain dead after a writing session.

    Though there are exceptions, this is typically how I write a book:

    – A title or basic premise comes to me

    – I let it stew in the back of my head so my subconscious can work things out without me consciously thinking about them

    – The first line of the story comes to mind

    – I get to work on the first draft

    On the first draft:

    I’ve only outlined a book once, and that book is still in process as of this writing. I will also be outlining another book to finish it off because it involves time travel and I got myself into a possible paradoxical mess with the thing so I need to iron out the details so it’s paradox-free (something that’s very important when writing time travel stories). Other than that, I simply write a book as it comes to me, scene by scene, sentence by sentence, word by word. I don’t think about what I’m writing. I just write it as I see it in my head and that’s it. I’ve written enough books over the years to know the golden rule that every word needs to serve the story, so I don’t have to worry about scenes being cut later because they’re just fluff.

    And that’s it. I write the story start to finish and do not edit as I go along.

    Sometimes I know how it’s going to end, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes when I do know how it’s going to end—and since I let the story tell itself—that ending either doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen how I originally envisioned it. But whatever. I let the story do the talking, not me.

    After the first draft is done, I run a spellcheck and print it out.

    I leave the book alone for a while, sometimes a week, sometimes a month, then get to work on the second draft.

    On the second draft:

    By leaving the book alone, I had a chance to mentally distance myself from it before going at it with fresh eyes.

    You see, you write and read at different speeds, so while taking my pen to my first draft, I read it at a reader’s rate and am able to smooth out choppy sentences or catch words I repeat—every writer has a go-to word or phrase in their first draft—and make sure story continuity lines up. It’s this latter point that always astonishes me: the way your subconscious keeps track of everything between writing sessions and keeps the story in order. I might add a sentence or two or delete a couple redundancies. Nothing fancy.

    I then type up my second draft edits and print the book out again for draft three.

    On the third draft:

    This is the polish draft, and after having done a solid clean-up on it in draft two, this draft is a way to catch anything I missed the first time and do a spit shine on it. Seldom are any substantial changes made. Again, it’s done at reader’s rate so I just read along and tweak things here and there.

    These changes are typed up and the book goes off to my editor.

    I wait for the editor to do what I pay him for then get the book back from him.

    On the editor’s draft:

    At this point I’m already getting sick of my own story after having been through it three times, so all I do during this phase is go through my editor’s edits and only his edits. I agree with 95% of them; the remaining 5% are usually matters of taste and preference and not actual errors.

    My editor’s work is now complete. He gets paid, and all he has to do is await his editor’s copy in the mail when it’s ready.

    I take the editor’s draft and do a three-quarter format on the book.

    On the partially-formatted book:

    The book is now resembling what the reader will eventually see in terms of layout and trim size. Chapter headings are decorated and basic front and back matter are put in place. The only thing that’s really missing are the headers and footers.

    I print it out.

    Since I consider my editor’s draft draft number four, this partially-formatted book is my fifth and final draft in which I go through it and catch anything my editor or I might’ve missed. What’s helpful about this stage is the new layout of the book. There are less words per line at a 6 x 9” trim size than your standard 8.5 x 11” piece of paper. Things read differently and any error seems to jump out all the clearer.

    These mistakes are fixed and are typed into the computer.

    I then go on to finish the book with its final bells and whistles.

    On the bells and whistles:

    These include adding the headers and footers, the title cards and any ad matter in the back.

    At this stage, it’s just an issue of making sure all the formatting is in place, and the book itself is done.

    Paperback formatting is always done first, then the various eBook formatting required for the different platforms comes after.

    On the off-chance I catch a mistake while formatting, I then have to sort through the different files and make the change in each. It’s annoying and a pain but has to be done.

    Then that’s it. It’s off to press.

    Of course, during the preliminary format I get my page count thus can create my cover, but that’s not the topic of this post.

    But that’s my process. Five total drafts, four of which are mine.

    A long time ago a writer friend gave me the greatest bit of publishing advice I’ve ever received. I’ve repeated it a bunch of times to writers in all sorts of forums and venues over the years, and it’s this: it’s only a book. And that’s how I treat my novels: they’re only books. That’s all they are. They’re stories. They’re fantasies. They’re entertainment. Like I always say, kingdoms won’t rise and fall based on something I’ve written so I’m long past the stage of obsessing over my stories.

    I just write the damn thing, clean it up, then share it with you.

    That’s the process, if you want to call it that.

    That’s it. Thank you. Good night.


  • What is Coming Up in 2017

    A.P. Fuchs 2017

    I commit to nothing.

    Bwahahaha.

    Post over.

    Kidding.

    However, I meant the above: I commit to nothing.

    Instead of doing the usual writer shtick of announcing what projects are coming out and when, I’m simply going to announce them as I complete them.

    There are only three confirmed titles coming from me in 2017 thus far. They have already been announced on this blog, but I will mention them again and mention why I know they are guaranteed to be released.

    The Canister X Transmission: Year Three – This is being written week-to-week and, like Years One and Two, the collections have been published within a couple of months of that newsletter’s year having ended.

    Untitled Flash Fiction Collection – This is part of the Year Three experience, so each week a new piece of flash fiction is sent out to readers. A total of 60 pieces of flash fiction will comprise this collection–52 from the weekly newsletter, a 53rd from the collected edition of the newsletter–and the remainder to be written afterward.

    Axiom-man and Auroraman: Frozen Storm – This is a novel I will be writing for a kickstarter project that begins in March. Since it’s being kickstarted, and assuming Auroraman creator Jeff Burton and I hit our goal, this book will be published on time for backers.

    Regarding Secret Project No. 1 and Secret Project No. 3–projects mentioned in my newsletter–they will be announced upon completion. What about Secret Project No. 2, you ask? Since it ties directly into Secret Project No. 1, I can’t say anything about it just yet.

    As for other works in various stages of finishing, same deal: they will be announced upon completion.

    Commit to nothing.

    I have also restructured my 2017 on-line marketing efforts and just today finished automating the whole year. There will be some manual posts but the rest will be the social media bots doing my bidding.

    Your best bet in keeping up-to-date on things is by regularly checking this blog or subscribing to my newsletter.

    Have a safe and Happy New Year.

    See you in 2017.


  • Take Up Your Pen Daily and Follow Me

    DSCF2971Note: This post was originally published on Jeffrey Allen Davis’s blog

    Take Up Your Pen Daily and Follow Me
    by
    A.P. Fuchs

    There are two kinds of writers when it comes to the Christian camp: those who are Christian authors and those who are authors that are Christian. The former is the writer who deliberately writes Christian fiction, stories with a Christian message and often with Christian characters. The latter is the writer who writes stories from a Christian worldview but doesn’t overtly share their faith via the stories they tell.

    I’m in the latter camp, though I have ventured into the first. The reason I’m in the latter is because—just the way my writing career started and has gone—my story ideas tend to fall in the secular category in terms of concept and execution as opposed to me sitting down and purposefully writing a story with a Christian message.

    Science fiction, fantasy, horror, superheroes—these are my genres. I’m a huge nerd and always have been. And while true there is such a thing as Christian speculative fiction, my characters tend to be your secular every-man instead of hardcore believers. I have written obvious Christian characters in the past, but doing so brings up a problem because if indeed a truly born-again Christian writer is going to write a truly born-again Christian character, he/she knows they need to be accurate in their portrayal of what a Christian really is. Simply writing a religious character, though that can have its merits, is a disservice from the Christian worldview because our aim is to convey truth as it is, not what man has made it out to be.

    In my work, I tend to provide Christian ideals via my secular characters while also showcasing their flaws and even, in some cases, their lack of religious conviction. Things like hope, love, perseverance, self-discipline and so on—items most of humanity agrees are good things, though all have root in Christian-Judeo teaching—are prevalent in my characters. I’ve found that if I make a truly Christian character, it tends to, at this stage in my career, be a stifle on showing a character’s humanity. To clarify, in Christian circles we are well aware that we all have faults big and small, but to the outside world, the image of a Christian is one who is righteous ninety-nine percent of the time. If that person screws up while preaching righteousness, then suddenly they’re a hypocrite and the reader has lost all faith in them. We see this in real life almost daily. I find it’s better given my particular stories to have characters with Christian traits as opposed to being outright religious.

    That’s not to say Christian characters can’t be well done, but on the whole, most of the time the Christian author is preaching to the choir and, well, have fun trying to interest a secular person into reading your stuff. No one likes being preached to, even Christians in some cases.

    However, my personal Christian sensibilities have informed my fiction starting late 2005 and onward. While there were glimpses of it before, in terms of story choices and presentation, there’s a certain code of conduct I have to follow and I believe these fall into three main areas: language, sex and violence.

    On language: Some of my very early work had a lot of cursing. Just where I was at at the time. As I continued writing and my heart changed, choice words were removed from my output and instead I found ways to not use bad words. Sometimes a simple, “He swore,” is enough. Other times I challenged myself to write around cursing as, to me, cussing in writing is lazy writing. I’m sure we can debate this but it seems it takes more creativity to come up with other ways to display disgust instead of four-letter words. I’m not talking about using lame soft words like “darnnit” and “oh fudge.” I’m talking about showing a character’s anger or disgust at a situation via their actions and accompanying phrases via creative writing instead of just throwing in a swear word. True, people in real life cuss all the time and, for the secular reader, such language doesn’t offend them. I get that from a let’s-go-for-realism point-of-view, but I can’t see how an author claiming to be Christian can include choice phrases and then preach righteousness off the page.

    Interestingly, I also have a flipside argument that is pro language in books, even from Christian writers. Before you call me a heretic, here me out. You have to ask yourself, what is a swear word? Why are some words dirtier than others? If you look at cursing over the course of human history, it’s gone through a lot of iterations. Long ago, instead of telling someone to blank-off, you’d tell them things like, “I hope you die a thousand deaths” or “May darkness be upon your family.” That was cursing and/or the swear phrases of the time. Of course, spiritually, such phrases are indeed cursing but walking down the street today, if you said that to someone, they’d probably look at you and go, “What?” So it seems that the reason cursing is a no-no amongst Christians is because it displays the heart-motive behind the words used. Frankly, if I told you to screw off, that’s the same as me telling you to F-off because in my heart I mean it the same way. If I stub my toe and yell out something dumb like “Cow patties” in anger, that’s the same as saying the other word. Again, it’s about the heart.

    For my own conviction, if I’m doing something around the house and tell someone I have a pile of blank to clean up, I don’t mean such a word in a malicious way nor is it directed at anyone, therefore I’m in the clear.

    But, again, there are certain expectations of the Christian from a worldly standpoint and so it’s best to refrain from swearing in fiction.

    On sex: From 2005 onward, there’s been no sex in my books. At most, it is implied (i.e. “They went to the bedroom”), but never graphically detailed. Sex in and of itself is a beautiful thing ordained by God for both procreation and recreation. God is pro sex. However, we humans have twisted and turned it into something else and, worse, have made it a source of entertainment in various mediums. The reason why sex as entertainment is out of bounds is because it incites lust, whether overtly like porn or a little less so via fiction. Is writing about sex wrong in and of itself? No. If someone asked me to give them an idea of what a sex session looked like and wanted me to write it and their motive was purely for education, I’d have no trouble with that. But, if I knew they’d use it as a source of lustful imaginings, then there’s an issue. It’s not so much lusting after fictional characters being wrong—I mean, they’re not real so technically you’ve lusted after nobody thereby haven’t violated Jesus’s command to not look another with lust. But, the danger is it can warp your view of sex and/or sexualize people you see walking down the street thereby putting you in a compromised position. And it’s for that reason I abstain from graphic sex in my books.

    It’s kind of like asking is it appropriate for Christian artists to go to life drawing classes with nude models? My answer is it’s just fine provided lust doesn’t enter the equation. The human body is a beautiful thing and was made in God’s image. It’s a work of art. Having been in life drawing classes myself, I can tell you, lust doesn’t enter the mind because after a couple minutes, the naked person standing in front of you is viewed as no more than a teapot or lamp. That’s not to say I view them as objects, but I’m more focused on getting the curves and anatomy right that I’m not even thinking sexual thoughts. But, once more, if lust entered the picture, then it’s time to pack up my sketchpad and leave.

    On violence: I struggle in this area. I’m not sure how much is too much and how much is not enough, from a fiction standpoint. After all, every book needs conflict and sometimes that conflict gets violent. Should I show it realistically? Should I skimp over the details? I’m torn. Biblically speaking, Scripture is extremely violent but it never delves into detail. It just says what happened. I’ve read Christian books that handled violence the same way. They broke the rule of show-don’t-tell and quickly told the reader so-and-so was in a fight or got shot and that’s it.

    Upon reflection, my stance on violence right now is again rooted in the heart of the issue. Why am I writing it? Is it because I enjoy showing people getting hurt or cut up or whatever? Or am I simply trying to put the reader in the characters’ shoes and take them through the paces so they can feel what the character is feeling? Showing, not telling. Likewise, from the reader’s point-of-view, if I knew some of the more graphic displays of violence in my fiction fueled some sort of weird lust for torture in my readers, then I’d remove that element because I’m feeding something that shouldn’t be fed.

    I will say, writing more or less clean books have been a bonus for me. I feel better about my work and it also serves as a selling point at book signings and conventions. Often people want to buy my stuff for their teenagers. When I assure them the books are language- and sex-free, they’re thrilled to hear it and it helps close the sale. I do warn them, however, that some of my stuff is violent and if showing blood is a put-off for them, then maybe they should pass.

    The hardest part about being an author that’s Christian is that sometimes it puts a stopper on creativity. It would be fun to write a book with no rules and just put in whatever I felt like—follow the art, so to speak. After all, I’m a sinful man with sinful tendencies and art is about expression, whether that expression is all happy rainbows or storm clouds. Of course, this also means that what I put on paper is a reflection of my own heart. I’m paraphrasing, but like Jesus said, what’s in a man is what comes out of him, and it’s what comes out of him that defiles him or not.

    I suppose this is where “Take up your cross daily” applies.

    I think in the end what I write and what I include ultimately shows where I’m at in my spiritual journey and what business has been squared away and what still needs working on. The main point is this: as mentioned above, it’s about the heart. Mine’s not perfect, but it’s getting better.

    Take this as you may.

    Sidenote: if you like writing contemplation and publishing talk, consider signing up for my free weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission at www.tinyletter.com/apfuchs You also get a free clown thriller out of the deal.

    The first year of newsletters have been collected and released as The Canister X Transmission: Year One. Details at http://bit.ly/1PqpSNh Thanks.


  • Canister X Book Review #5: Rizzo: Year One by Chris Riseley and Sean Simmans

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Rizzo: Year One
    by Chris Riseley and Sean Simmans
    5 out of 5

    What do you get when you team up a struggling writer and an artist who wears a dinosaur costume all day long? You get Rizzo, a hilarious collection of the syndicated comic strip.

    Rizzo, the character, writes. W. Bill Czolgosz, the character, draws, and these strips follow them on their adventure of trying to make their mark in a world that doesn’t appreciate them or their “art.”

    The gags are brief, about 3-4 panels long, and you find yourself laughing out loud for most of them and laughing on the inside for all of them.

    This humor, part simple silliness and part commentary, is smart, witty and, to a degree, “observational” ala Seinfeld.

    Rizzo burst onto the scene a few years back and appears in many newspapers across the country.

    This book is a “best of” collection, chosen from over 900 strips. (There are about 300 strips in the book.)

    Too funny. Read it.


  • Switching to Broadcast Mode

    For the next week, I’ll be off all social media outlets as I’ve got some deadlines to attend to. At most, I’ll be using my social media channels as a means to broadcast various bits from this blog or other book-related items. In terms of direct communication with me, please use my email or, if you’re in my inner circle, the studio phone number.

    If you do try and contact me via social media, please note these will go unanswered. If I stumble across the communication upon my return to the channels next week, I’ll get back to you. If not, please hang up and try again.

    Part of being a writer. There are times to disconnect and get some work done.

    Have a good week.