Patreon has been a lot of fun since the get-go. There was a learning curve–just like for all things–but we’ve settled into a groove. And while true there will be new tiers as the year goes on, the current tier structure of Serialized Novels, Essays, Behind the Scenes, and the Gold Standard is working out just fine.
And I want you to be a part of the journey.
Here are some index-like stats and summaries to let you know what’s presently on the page:
Serialized Novels ($1 a month)
Presently airing is Gigantigator Death Machine. The majority of the book is uploaded with a new chapter posting every two weeks. Lots already there for this story about a group of young adults wanting a simple beer-fest getaway with friends that quickly turns into a race for their lives against a giant, bloodthirsty alligator. This is pure creature feature B-horror with all the fun and guts B-horror is known for.
Essays ($2 a month)
This tier gives you access to the serial novel as well as essays focusing on the creative arts industry.
The following essays are available for immediate reading:
The Secret to Social Media Success Part 1 The Secret to Social Media Success Part 2 The Secret to Social Media Success Part 3 How to Write Well Every Time: Proper Writing The Road Back: How to Create Again After a Hiatus Spontaneous Book or Comic Marketing How to Maintain a Blogging Schedule
Behind the Scenes ($5 a month)
This tier gives you access to the serial novel, the essays, and behind-the-scenes looks unavailable anywhere else. Plus, you also get a cool A.P. Fuchs/Canister X Official Membership Card with your name on it.
Behind the Scenes – Studio Space 091319 Behind the Scenes – Secret Project No. 3 092719 Behind the Scenes – Web Interface 100419 Behind the Scenes – Axiom-man/Auroraman Artwork 110119 Behind the Scenes – New Studio Space 122419 Behind the Scenes – Secret Project No. 3 Pages 012120
Gold Standard ($30 a month)
This tier gives you all the benefits of the previous tiers plus every month I will mail out to you a signed and, if you choose, personalized hardcopy book or comic from my bibliography to add to your collection. Comics come bagged and boarded.
The books and comics that I’m drawing from are available for viewing in my Book and Comic Shop. Take a look to get an idea as to what to expect in your mailbox.
Lastly, as regular content for all the tiers, not only do you receive whatever items from the tier you choose, I also post patron-only blog posts and reveals, video content, and messages for special occassions.
Thank you. Hope you enjoyed this little rundown of what’s presently available on my Patreon page and, of course, more content will be added as February rolls along. Hope you join me and my other patrons for more intrigue, information, entertainment, and fun as we head further into 2020.
Please join myself and my other patrons on Patreon by going here.
For further reading, here is a blog post from about a month after being on the Patreon platform and my thoughts thereof.
Everything is locked up in ice in Winnipeg today with, according to the weather network and the time of this writing (morning), the temperature being -33C (-43C with the windchill).
Everything is utterly frozen solid in a giant block of ice, which means it’s time to simply hunker down and work. Lots of focus behind the scenes here at the Central. I gave you the rundown yesterday on where things are at roughly two weeks into 2020. Status is the same as of today. A good way to stay current on project statuses is via my weekly newsletter because info isn’t always shared on the blog.
Want to see boiling water being thrown into freezing air? I made this video the other week showing that:
Full transparency: I’ve never deliberately looked up blog topics (so far as I can recall) but for fun, this morning I decided to do that and see what’s currently out there for blogging ideas. “The Toughest Part About Being a . . .” prompt was something I came across and, maybe because I’m still groggy, resonated with me the most this fine winter morning.
So that said, here is the toughest part about being a writer/artist as per how I feel at the moment I’m writing this:
When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them I write stories and draw, I’m met with two general responses: “Oh man, that’s so cool!” or, “That’s nice. Maybe one day you’ll get a real job instead of playing all day.” The latter isn’t explicitly stated but is certainly implied by tone, facial expression, and body language, all with an air of disappointment.
The first crowd is, of course, the most pleasant to deal with. Their eyes light up and they smile and are genuinely happy for me. They often become my readers and usually follow up with me the next time I see them and ask how things are going and if I’m still doing it (the “still doing it” part hinting they understand it’s an unstable job but they have my back and are in my corner even if my answer is “No”).
The second crowd is the one I don’t understand. The general formula for a working adult is you get out of bed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, then get on with your evening, which may or may not include doing more work. That’s the formula I’ve lived by my entire working life–whether working in the arts or elsewhere–and the formula every working adult I know follows. The only difference is I work from home. So when I “go to work,” my commute is measured in hallways and staircases as I make my way down to the Central’s bunker to get started. I work all day–and get paid for it–turn the computer off, then reverse my commute and wind up back upstairs with the rest of the household. But mention you write stories and draw pictures for a living and suddenly you don’t have a real job (see the “On Freelancing for a Living (This is a Job)” blog post). Upon thinking about it, it’s not even the working from home part that seems to rub people the wrong way (though this can happen). It’s the specific what I do for a living. I’ve seen firsthand where others who work from home who don’t write stories and draw pictures are met with a metaphorical handshake. Me? It’s a metaphorical hands-in-their-pockets.
There is a disconnect that happens–usually with the older generation(s)–where, in the old days, work was something you left the house for and something you didn’t always enjoy. Work was actual work, like a chore, or work was something that demanded such a hard effort that every day ended the same when one came home: a collapse on the couch from mental and/or physical exhaustion. I believe the disconnect also happens because a lot of people tend to forget the entertainment they consume had to be created by somebody. Those books you read? Somebody took a lot of time writing them. Those comics you love? A group of people had to spend a lot of time writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, and printing them. Those movies you go to every Friday night? A whole slew of people had to go somewhere to play dress-up and pretend for a camera to tell you a story. That video game? Tons of people. Tons of artists. Even the very computer or smartphone this entry is being read on was dreamed up and sketched out by people who went to work. Somebody had to write all the code used in that phone. Somebody had to draw all those app icons. Somebody had to make science fiction science fact. Oh, and they got paid to do it because they need food and shelter, too.
Why is my job not normally respectable? Is it the non-steady paycheck? Is it the fact I like it? Is it because I’d rather spend a third of every day enjoying myself versus dragging myself through the motions? Is it because I made up my mind and chose what I was going to do with the old statement that you can either work towards making your own dreams come true or you can work for someone else to make their dreams come true?
Why does a lawyer get the handshake and I don’t? Why does a doctor? Or an accountant? Or a factory worker or a mechanic? Their job puts food on the table and keeps a roof over their loved ones’ heads just like mine does. My income goes towards food and bills, getting stuff for the kids and gas in the car. It buys Christmas presents and pays for date nights. It funds life just like their job funds life.
I work. You work. We all work.
And like I posted to social media forever ago, I want to repeat here: Everything is art. Every. Single. Thing. Creation is God’s canvas and nature is His painting. The stuff humans have made? It’s all based on someone dreaming and asking themselves, “What if . . .?” Then writing it down and drawing it out. Designing your couch is an art form. Writing the code for your car’s computer is an art form. Coming up with how to safely make a handheld drill is an art form. And so on.
Everything is art.
In the end, I’ve learned to live with the hits and learned my career choice will be frowned upon by others. But there are also others who don’t frown and instead smile. Those are the people who give respect. The others? I’ll still respect their work because they are my fellow human beings, and perhaps one day I’ll get the same occupational respect in return.
Author’s note: This article isn’t about complaining. It’s pointing out a disconnect that some people seem to have and is hopefully encouraging to those who might be in the same boat.
This week was largely spent on Project Media, which introduced the redesign of this blog, my social media pages, and my Patreon page. It took a lot of time behind the scenes here at the Central, which is fine, but by default it interfered with getting other work done.
We’re also doing a big promo push for the Patreon page this week because winter is here and I need to keep warm so I can continue making stuff for you guys. If you’d like to support me on Patreon and get treated to a whole slew of entertainment, please do so here.
Currently pondering: Roll-out plan for Project Jackass, overall plan for Axiom-man (with surprises), Deadline juggling.
On September 14, 2019, I launched my first Patreon page. It was a thrilling day and one filled with hope and excitement. Sure, part of the reason to create the page was to supplement my writing and drawing income, but, having been part of Web culture since close to the beginning of my career (circa 2000), it was an opportunity for me to create a place on the Web to share cool stuff with people in a kind of “club” format.
See, I have this problem of creating a ton of stuff for free and putting in on the Web whether via this blog or social media. As of today’s date, I’m on here blogging articles, essays, and musings Monday to Friday, my free weekly newsletter goes out on Saturdays, I started up a YouTube channel again, and I’m doing Inktober and sharing those sketches on social media (see the icons on the right). I enjoy entertaining people and, if I was in a place where money was no object, I’d gladly share all my work for free. But I can’t. I need to eat, need to buy supplies, need to cover costs, etc. so I have no choice but to charge for my work hence adding Patreon as part of my platform.
If there is one major aspect of Patreon I truly enjoy, it is the idea of having a special place on the Web where people use a key (money) to unlock a door (my Patreon) to get stuff only available on the other side of that door. It’s an opportunity for me to virtually sit down with a group of people several times a month and go, “Look what I made. Hope it entertains you. Hope it educates you.” Almost like show-and-tell but, hopefully, much more entertaining. And, in the end, that’s what Patreon stands for for me: My patrons. They’re a special group of people who were willing to shell out a few beans to help a northern jackass like myself keep making entertainment for them and others.
(Side note to explain what creators mean when they say buying their work or supporting their Patreon enables them to keep creating. They are not saying that without the support they can no longer create. A creator creates and always will. Just how it is. What they are saying is your support buys them the greatest and most precious of all commodities: Time. Time is the most valuable thing on the planet. Once a moment passes, it’s gone forever. No going back. No storing it up. It’s not even in abundant supply because we all die. If a creator spends their time doing everything but creating–I’m talking surviving life stuff not blowing hours on social media–then we’d have no entertainment. By supporting a creator, you’re filling up their Time Bank Account instead of them spending their Time Dollars on things that hinder the hours needed to create something. Even if ten hours a week can be supplemented, if the creator is responsible, they now have ten extra hours to make stuff for you. It’s win-win on both ends.)
I’m only about a month into my Patreon journey. It’s been wonderful so far and I look forward to the days that are scheduled to upload new content. Right now, a new chapter of my creature feature serial novel, Gigantigator Death Machine, airs every two weeks (a new chapter went up today). On the off weeks, I put up essays on the creative industry and also treat patrons to behind-the-scenes stuff here at the Central. Of course, there are also extra blog posts for everyone as well as patron-first announcements where my patrons receive news before the general public. I’m still finding my footing regarding what else to offer. I have a plan for an ongoing special something for patrons but it’s not ready yet. Perhaps in the New Year, perhaps sooner. Regardless, I’m pleased with my current offerings and am excited to share more as time goes on.
My patrons are my special group. They are those who’ve gone the extra mile by way of monthly support, and for that I am grateful. I want to publicly thank them here and I want to offer a thanks to future patrons as well.
One of the main reasons people enjoy entertainment–whether that be books, comics, or movies–is because they say it provides them with an escape from everyday life. And let’s be honest: the world isn’t too pretty right now. In fact, if people needed an escape from reality, 2019 is a good year to hammer down on that.
It’s often claimed people don’t like to think when being entertained. They just want a break from life, be told a good story, and that is all.
Except . . . that doesn’t happen. Entertainment immerses you in life under the illusion of escape.
See, there is a reason that while we’re in the middle of being entertained we like what we’re watching/reading, why we have favorite books or movies. The reason is this: we can relate to the source of entertainment on some level, whether overtly or subtly. Whether a scene is plain-as-day relatable (someone at work getting a cup of coffee while talking to an intense co-worker) or something metaphorical even if just on a subconsciously-recognizable level (good guy fighting a bad guy, equating to us wrestling with our own issues), everything in a piece of entertainment is a reflection of real life, the very life we’re trying to escape from.
(Even something as whacky as watching a psychedelic cartoon is akin to us closing our eyes and watching the colors swirl by.)
You get my point.
There is no “escape” into entertainment. It might feel like it with your brain sending reward chemicals throughout your body and you’re muscles relaxing while you slouch in your recliner; you might even forget your problem(s) for a short time, but in actuality, you’ve simply just changed your perceived interaction with the world.
If anything, entertainment is an avenue that gives us the tools to deal with the world around us. How many times have you watched a movie or read a book and related to what’s going on, whether to a specific person or situation? How many times have you looked at how a character handled something and applied a similar or same idea or solution to your own life? How many times have you quoted memorable lines to yourself whether for encouragement, wisdom, or humor? How many times have characters reminded you of people you know thus creating a bridge between you and them, even bringing some understanding as to why your friend Joe does what he does? The combinations of these things are nearly endless.
Entertainment speaks to us on multiple levels and automatically puts us in a state of active or passive engagement. And it’s this engagement that immerses you in entertainment. Your brain is always working. It never shuts off. Even when you sleep, it’s working and showing you stuff and telling you stories.
As you’re being entertained, you’re processing what you’re reading or seeing and correlating it to what’s already in your head and the world around you to help you make sense of life. It’s impossible to escape into entertainment, that is, truly escape. Entertainment is simply another window through which to view the world. (Even fantastical worlds, which were created and written with some, even minute, connection to reality.)
All this isn’t meant to put a damper on entertainment value but rather add a new layer to it, a recognition of what’s really going on when we try to get away from planet Earth 2019.
Once more I’ll state my belief that blogging is not dead, just misplaced. In a world of quick social media posts and soundbites, it’s easy to forget the Web is loaded with websites chock full of information, entertainment, and news. Many folks are dissatisfied with the way social media has gone and how it affects their mental health and overall well being, so I encourage you this coming week to spend time web surfing to see what you’ll find. Check out articles you’ve been meaning to read, creator websites you’ve been meaning to go to, topics you’ve been meaning to investigate.
As an invitation from me, please take a moment and explore this blog. There is a lot here by way of free entertainment and free information. A decent portion of my creative output is spent giving readers things for free and I want you to take advantage of it so you can get to know me as a creator. On this site alone you have access to numerous articles, artwork, movie and book reviews, links to other creators, and more. This blog–the magic of blogging–is my way of getting information and entertainment to you in a way social media doesn’t let me. This blog is my house and you’re welcome to stay here and put your feet up for a while.
On a personal note, I’m enjoying blogging five days a week. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and information with the world on a platform that is my own. I’ve always believed writing is about honesty and that any creator needs to live and express themselves honestly without fear of what other people think. There are enough clones in this world and part of the role of the arts–when handled without pretension–is to speak to the human condition and portray things as they are uncut and uncensored. This role also falls on the creator and not just their work. The idea of art being about self-expression (that is, the work created) but not the artist themselves being self-expressive is a contradiction. I’m not saying an artist needs to put their whole selves on the display for the world to see, but I am saying that–and I’ve seen this countless times over–it’s a disservice to the reader or viewer for the artist to put across one message with their work but then muddle that honesty by playing to the public and telling the public what they want to hear instead of being truthful in whatever is being expressed.
The magic of blogging is that a blog is one way for a person to express themselves honestly. Sure, some folks might not like what they read. Others will be all over it. The point is that the expression was made and, frankly, these expressions will be all that’s left of us after we leave this world. I’d rather leave bits of my true self behind than an illusion for the public.
This is my approach and arguments can be made against it being the right one. What I do know is that my blogging and what I blog about works for me both professionally and personally. And that’s really the trick, isn’t it? Finding out what works for you? The only way to do that is to experiment and play around and find your groove. Only then will you, too, discover the magic of blogging.
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.