We’re working on a schedule shift here where I start my day a little bit later because I find I function better after the mid-morning hours. However, I also was just having coffee and decided to upload the second-to-last chapter of Gigantigator Death Machine to Patreon so my readers there got this week’s update bright and early. If you’re not reading Gigantigator Death Machine, please do. One more chapter to go and the book is done. Once complete, it will remain on Patreon while we start up the second serial novel in a few weeks.
The plan for the day is to make comics. We’re gaining a ton of ground on Fredrikus. While the drawing is going on, so are other behind-the-scenes items so that come launch, all the necessary ducks are in a row.
Stay Focused Social Media Blocking App and Timex TW5M23300 Watch.
Last week I was off-line except for a couple of tasks that needed doing via the Internet (like administration). To ensure I remained off-line–I’m just as human as the next guy (I think)–I got an app for my computer phone called Stay Focused. This app can block any app on your phone and, in the free version (which I used), can block up to 5 apps at once. You set a schedule by telling it which hours and what days you want certain apps blocked. I applied these to the social media apps on my pocket computer to keep me on lockout. While true I’m in Broadcast Mode in the winter, as part of broadcasting I sometimes need to go into an app like Instagram and post something. The problem is one glance at the feeds can quickly lead to two, then three, and so on, and the next thing you know you’ve fiddled away an afternoon scrolling and scrolling and refreshing and scrolling.
This picture is a screenshot of the app from the day I went dark. You can see the stat on there says I’ve already tried opening the app 3 times and each time it didn’t work (was running tests). The timer on locking me out of these apps ran for a week. And it worked! Once I knew I was locked out, I didn’t give the apps a second thought.
Stay Focused also acts as a master lock, meaning you have these little locks under it (like the apps you’re blocking), but then you can lock Stay Focused itself–but only in 6-hour chunks in the free version–to ensure you don’t unlock your blocked apps. I’m assuming this is for extreme cases where certain people need a double padlock on their phone. To get even more extreme, I’m pretty sure there’s a lock on Stay Focused that forbids you from uninstalling it in an effort to destroy your barriers.
What was interesting was it kept track of how many times I unlocked my phone to do something, like reply to a text from family. I was disgusted when I saw, at the end of one of the days, I had unlocked the phone around 35 times. I barely used it that day! But numbers don’t lie. I barely used it? That was 35 times in the span of 12 hours (roughly). That’s approximately 4 times an hour. That’s once every 15 minutes. My unlock count steadily dropped as the week wore on and I got busier, but this goes to show how much we’ve integrated pocket computers into our lives.
The app has other features, like how long you are using any one program and your total phone usage for the day.
In the end, getting an app like this is highly recommended, especially if you are a phone junkie and recognize you have a problem (dopamine addiction). And, yes, the irony of this kind of post ranting about frequent phone use is not lost on me. I fully recognize a good part of my business is digital and having people on-line looking at or reading my stuff is better for me yet here I am encouraging my readers to go live life in the physical world. Oh well. But my refutation to the irony is this: I’m referring to balance. Is your on-line and off-line lives balanced? Take away sleeping hours, eating, and body maintenance, and see how much time is spent on a screen while you’re awake. The rest is up to you.
(I know that author J.B. Bennet got on board and locked themselves out of things during working hours each day, so others see the merit in this.)
I made this video on Friday of last week and aired it yesterday. It gets into what happened during my time off-line. Watch and subscribe. You might relate.
Lastly, for months I was getting frustrated of having to pull out my phone to check the time. While 9 times out of 10 all it was was checking the time, there was always that one time in there where it became an excuse to futz around on the phone. I couldn’t have that. I needed to be off-line, so I took the plunge and got myself a basic sports watch by Timex. As a kid, I had a couple of their Ironman watches, which I loved. I was aiming for another basic Ironman this time around but it was suggested to me that’s more a watch for a 15-year-old than a man so opted for a different one because I thought that was a valid point (I’m talking purely the aesthetics).
This is the watch I got, model TW5M23300:
And that was how I kept dark last week.
Taking a break from the Internet is something I’ve recommended for years for the sake of maintaining all facets of one’s health. I will go off-line again somewhere down the road because 2020 is a stupidly busy work year and sometimes you need to just shut up and get the job done. But that upcoming time off-line won’t be for a while yet. Not until my first holiday of 2020. Until then, I’ll be here, writing to you and making books and art and comics and videos.
Keep coming back to the blog every day. There’s always something being posted.
Ps. Today, a new chapter of Gigantigator Death Machine aired on Patreon! Please go here to get access to this fun romp of creature horror for just a buck!
Pretty sure I’m stuck in an accelerated timestream.
Anyway, I set out into 2020 with specific goals now that all my prelim work is pretty much done. (All discussed in my newsletter.)
And so . . . here is where some projects stand a couple of weeks into 2020:
Project Rebuild: First batch of second editions are my Undead World Trilogy. The new cover style–which looks incredible–is almost done. Layout to begin soon. Here is the original announcement.
Patreon: New tiers and options to be added once some second editions come out. Gigantigator Death Machine is the current feature playing as a serial novel with a new installment every two weeks. This will run until May, if I counted out the installments correctly. A new serial novel will start up after this first one is done. Please go here to start reading the previous chapters so you’re ready for the next episode.
Artwork: Putting the final touches on a commission. Have permission to share it on-line once the client receives it in the mail.
Freelance: In the middle of a project for someone and still have my client that requires two days a week. (Which slows down my published work output but, hey, need to keep the lights on somehow.)
New published work: This involves all the various projects I mentioned in previous blog posts and in the newsletter. As of this writing, the plan is to do a few second editions first then release something new then more second editions then new work, and so on. This plan keeps me at a pace I can manage, which in turn benefits you by giving you a pattern for 2020 and something to look forward to.
YouTube: The channel is growing and content is going up at, on average, a video a week. Your subscription to the channel helps keep the writing and art machine running so please subscribe if you haven’t already.
Daily blogging: Still on the Monday-to-Friday schedule. I’m doing my best to give you something each day that entertains or informs at least one person. Check back daily for new entries. If you check back and the blog hasn’t been updated, check back again later. Lately, my blogging hour has been shifting for various reasons.
Vacation: Though I took a break over the Holidays, it wasn’t really a break. In the end, I had a few days for a breather because it took me until Boxing Day to finally slow down and just relax. Throw in some Holiday activities during that relax time and I didn’t end up having a genuine break. I was back at it on the 30th. So, things are in motion for a legit winter holiday, but by the time all is arranged, that won’t be until February sometime. Watch this space.
Conventions and public appearances: One convention has been announced. I have irons in the fire in others and am waiting to hear back.
Posted through my social channels this morning:
“Hoping to find new inroads in the publishing world (books and comics) in 2020. I’m convinced the current standard system is terrible. That said, it’s up to creators to create the market, not companies. We need to get that straight first otherwise it’ll be same old, same old.”
I stand by the idea that creators create the market. Read my essay, “Why I Quit the Publishing Industry and Opted to Just Make Books Instead,” to find out my thoughts on the current climate and my general attitude toward it. If you’re a creator reading this, please check out the essay. We’re not at the mercy of various companies to get our work out. They’re at your mercy to provide them work to distribute. They don’t have a business without you. Take that to heart. Stand strong. Make new roads. Find out new ways to share with your readers. You and your readers are the ones in control, not these companies.
Okay. That’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you for checking in.
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 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.)
This entry is an open call to my readers to comment below or send in an email (apfuchs at gmail dot com) or PM me via one of my social channels regarding what blogging topics and/or interests they’d like to see here on the blog. While I usually march to my own drummer, this open call is intended to invite you, dear reader, to have a voice and let me know what you’d like me to cover. Any topic is fine, more or less. (Few restrictions, namely politics and/or comments on the climate thereof.) Likewise, if you have a question for me in general, I’ll add it a Q & A document so I can answer it and post it here.
Please also feel free to share what you’d like to see here at Canister X in general (i.e. more photos, certain articles, etc).
I look forward to hearing your ideas.
Ps. A new video was added to Axiom-man TV today on YouTube. You can view it by going here.
Though this demands a full article, here is the brief version on creative freelancing for a living.
It’s a job. A fun one, but a job. The common misconception people have of those working from home is that it’s all playtime and games, sleeping in and working here and there. This isn’t true. During the day, home becomes my workplace. There is a start-of-work time and an end-of-work time. (Except during deadline season, then it’s work until it’s done.) I have clients who have me on the clock. I have personal projects on the clock. Everything is scheduled. If I don’t adhere to the schedule, I lose the job with a client and/or I lose income generated from regularly releasing books. I have my Patreon to attend to with hard-earned money being spent by people who have trusted me with it in exchange for entertaining them. I have a career built on a reputation and if I wreck that reputation, I can’t get it back. This is all taken very seriously. My career is zero without my readers and clients. My ability to eat rests on ensuring they are treated well and quality work is being brought to them.
While working at home has some advantages like not needing to commute or not needing to pack a lunch, or endless coffee and the ability to vape inside, it’s still treated like an out-of-home job. It has to be. I’m working whether I feel like it or not. I’m putting the time in whether I feel like it or not. This idea that working from home isn’t the same as a “real” job needs to stop. What is a job? It’s a task(s) you do in exchange for something. It’s a task(s) you’re depended upon to do. Any freelancer who knows their next meal is dependent on getting the job done knows this.
Writing this to “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. A classic song with profound meaning.
The last book I published was the tenth-anniversary edition of Axiom-man. That was way back in October of 2016. Unless you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, The Canister X Transmission, then it might seem like I haven’t done anything since.
The opposite is true. It’s just that nothing’s out yet. However, 2017 will see an avalanche of releases because the following are written and are awaiting production. I just need to write one more book, then away we go.
1) Secret Project No. 1 (Newsletter readers know the title)
2) Secret Project No. 2 (Newsletter readers know the title)
3) Flash Attack: Thrilling Stories of Terror, Adventure, and Intrigue
4) The Canister X Transmission: Year Three
The publishing order has yet to be determined, but I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to do.
Also written is Secret Project No. 3, a prestige-format comic book, and the graphic novel Fox, which has been in the thumbnailing stage since time immemorial.
There are a couple of more projects close to completion, but I’ll save those for another time. Point is, 2017 is going to be a big year and it’s going to start happening soon.
Okay, that’s enough for now. Heading back down into the mines. I’ve found a tunnel I wasn’t expecting and need to explore it.
Jeff Burton and I are amazed at how much support this project has received. Not only are we closing in on a third funded, but the indie superhero community is behind us in helping get not just the Frozen Storm novel out, but also Auroraman No. 1 (which features a mini-comic at the end that leads into Frozen Storm). We want to thank each and every one of you who has contributed in bringing these projects to life in some way, whether that’s through pledging or social media shares or spreading the word through some other means.
Jeff and I both believe it’s important to bring more Canadian superhero adventures to readers, and doing this Kickstarter is a way in which to accomplish that. As of this writing, there are 26 days left to go. Please take a moment and check out the Kickstarter page for the awesome rewards and tiers this campaign has to offer. Please also consider supporting these projects. Making comics and books is an expensive endeavor and we want to make sure all those we have on board creating the comic and book get properly compensated for their time and effort.
Thank you again to everyone who’s gotten behind us on this. You’re in for a super treat once the rewards start shipping because there’s not only the exciting comic and book, but original art, toys, collectibles, and more.
The Internet is a painfully crowded place, especially these days. I remember in the late nineties when the Web was starting to take shape. There were some basic websites and, well, that was about it. Communication on-line was pretty much email. Now look at us—everyone’s on-line, we’re all shouting, and social media is the main form of communication.
Unfortunately, there’s just too many people and these days, with every one and their monkey writing a book, there’s too many authors and it’s near impossible to get noticed. Sure, it happens, and some authors build a sizable and—keyword: pragmatic—social following, but for the most part, many struggle in this area.
Newsletters bypass all the number games associated with social media, the whole like-for-like and I-follow-you-you-follow-me tactics, and all the rest. (Which are pretty much useless because those are about quantity not quality.)
Productive numbers are where it’s at and newsletters, by their very opt-in nature, cater to that. Do you want to know who is truly invested in what you do? Start a newsletter.
It’s focused marketing: sending out communication and information to people who have chosen to hear what you have to say. Actually, I don’t even like to use the word “marketing” in this case because that totally devalues the point of a newsletter, which is connecting with readers who genuinely care about you in return.
Look at the word itself: newsletter. It’s a letter, not a brochure.
Sure, your newsletter numbers might be smaller than your Facebook likes, but they’re quality numbers, which have more value than just a high like count. The people who have chosen to receive a newsletter from you are the same people who are more likely to get a copy of your book because a genuine interest in you has already taken place.
There are so many ways to go about doing a newsletter, some of which are:
▪ The Plain Jane promo newsletter.
This is the kind that only goes out when an author has a new release. It’s not about communicating with the reader, but simply selling to them. I find these shallow; see the newsletter work breakdown above.
▪ The monthly update newsletter.
Typically something sent out once a month, this is the newsletter where the author says what’s going on with them, where what project is at in the production process and to promote a book(s) or event or something.
▪ The weekly newsletter.
My personal favorite and the kind I run, which I’ll get to in a moment. The weekly version can be like the monthly one, just sent out weekly. Or it can be about creating a dialogue with the readers and talking points of interest, usually to do with writing or books or entertainment.
My weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission—presently in its second year—has four main points: writing/publishing/marketing tip of the week; book/comic spotlight from my catalog; creator spotlight focusing on indie and mainstream creators who’ve impacted my career; rant of the week, which is basically a positive or negative thing depending on what’s been heavily on my mind for the past seven days.
I also offer a free thriller e-novelette download if you sign up.
▪ regular connection with readers who actually want to hear from you
▪ exercise in self-discipline to maintain the newsletter schedule, which then trains you to keep deadlines for other projects like, um, your books
▪ an opportunity to market work to readers without spamming, which can lead to sales options outside of the usual channels
▪ a chance to encourage and inspire others
Ultimately, newsletters make the on-line world a smaller place and, frankly, in today’s obscenely overcrowded rat race society, it’s sorely needed. It’s a chance to quiet down, meet with a reader, and open up about what’s going on on your end. And you’d be surprised. Readers respond to newsletters with their thoughts, questions and more.
Beats an overcrowded social media channel any day.