One reviewer at Goodreads commented on ReDeus: Divine Tales, “The tales focus on different gods, many I had never heard of before. What I enjoyed most was how the authors dealt with the culture shock experienced by the characters, not just the mortals, who are now lorded over by these mythological figures, but also the gods who must come to grips with a world that has moved on without them. Hope to see future volumes. ”
That wish is being granted in May when Beyond Borders, the second volume in the ReDeus universe is released by Crazy 8 Press to coincide with Balticon. The new book continues a universe that was conceived by co-editors Aaron Rosenberg, Robert Greenberger, and Paul Kupperberg. Initially, the trio of established authors intended to be the only ones to write stories about an Earth that has had every pantheon of gods simultaneously return. Instead, they decided to invite their peers to join them in exploring this fertile territory and the eleven stories in the first volume spanned the first twenty years since the gods and goddesses appeared in the skies during the 2012 Olympics.
“Zeus, speaking for the gods, tells everyone they’re back for good and they want every man, woman, and child to return to their native land in order to properly worship them,” Greenberger explained. Some of the gods were horrified at the technological advances, not understanding them and therefore had them banned. Suddenly, some countries were without internet and television while some only allowed radio. Populations shifted and the global economy shuddered, causing untold chaos.
Most of the stories showed what was happening in America. For the second volume, the stories focus on other countries and their people. Several characters introduced in the first book will reappear while most of the stories focus on new characters interacting with ancient deities.
“Many of our Divine Tales authors found themselves growing attached to their characters,” Rosenberg explained, “so we were happy to see what happens to them next. But there are plenty of new characters as well, and the series in general continues to show a wide variety of people in different places and varying circumstances.”
Returning authors for Beyond Borders include the recently Nebula-nominated Lawrence M. Schoen, Scott Pearson, Steve Wilson, Dave Galanter, Phil Giunta, William Leisner, and Allyn Gibson. Kelly Meding, Janna Silverstein, David McDonald, Steve Lyons, and Lorraine Anderson will be making their ReDeus debut in this volume. Rosenberg, Greenberger, and Kupperberg will also have stories in the book.
Artist Lorraine Schleter provided the cover.
A third volume, Native Lands, was announced recently and will be out in August, in time for Crazy 8 Press’ second anniversary.
As the comics world knows, writer Peter David recently had a stroke. I’ve known Peter for a long time and I both respect and often envy his talent, skill and the breadth of his work. Peter has health insurance but there are plenty of bills that just won’t get covered and, as pointed out here on ComicMix, fans who want to show financial support can do so by purchasing his work at Crazy 8 Press. That’s incredibly easy; not only do your help Peter and his family but will probably get a damn fine read out of it at the same time. Like I said, Peter is a very talented writer.
Peter’s better prepared (as far as anyone can be prepared for something like this) than many in the field; he has health insurance and most other freelancers – including myself – don’t. It’s hard to get, and harder to afford, health insurance when you’re a freelancer. By it’s very nature, a freelancer’s life is precarious.
Take for example, job security. There isn’t any. Beyond your current contract (if you have one), there’s no guarantee you’ll have a job when it ends. You may be on a title for a long time, but that always ends. I had a “continuity contract” at one time with DC which guaranteed me so much work (and health insurance) within a given time frame, but that is long since gone. I don’t know if it’s offered any more. It was difficult for me to get a mortgage back when I bought my house (which I no longer own) and I dare say it’s tougher now if you’re a freelancer.
When you’re a freelancer, you only get paid for the work you actually do. There’s no sick pay, there’s no paid holidays, there’s no paid vacation. You sometimes get royalties ( or “participation” or whatever term a given company chooses to call it) and that’s nice. Amanda Waller’s “participation” in the Green Lantern movie sent me some nice bucks that were sorely needed at the time but that’s like finding an extra twenty in your jeans that you forgot you had. You never know when it’s coming and you can’t rely on it.
In some cases, you can’t even be sure you’ll get the check. The major companies are reliable but the smaller ones can be iffy. One company went into bankruptcy owing me thousands of dollars that I never saw. As I grow older, I continuously worry about getting work. For the past ten years I’ve done Star Wars comics over at Dark Horse but, with the sale of LucasFilm to Disney, that could change. (And, no, I don’t know any more about that than you do.) Will I be able to get other work? I’m going to be 64 this year and haven’t worked in an office for maybe 35 years. What office would hire me now?
When I was just out of college and aiming for a life in theater (another financially iffy occupation), my mother really wanted me to get a master’s degree in English. That way, I might be able to teach, have something to fall back on. My problem was – and is – that I know that if I had something to fall back on, I’d fall back on it. I had to work without a net, I felt, if I was going to make it at all.
Right now, it feels like I’m on the high trapeze and all the lights are out. At some point I’m going to have to let go of the bar and soar into the darkness and hope there’s another trapeze for me to grab. I have no pension, I have no life insurance or health insurance, I have no net.
This is not a pity plea. This is my life and I’ve chosen it. I’ve made my decisions and I live with them as best I can. I wish I had followed Peter’s example and branched out more into other media. I’m happy with some decisions I’ve made and regretful of others. That’s life.
What I’m doing is issuing a warning. There are many, many young writers and artists out there who want a career in comics. Very, very few can make a living off of it and, in many cases, that living only lasts a while. Some, like my fellow ComicMix columnist Marc Alan Fishman and his cohorts at Unshaven Comics, work day jobs while doing their comics work in their increasingly disappearing spare time. Once they’ve created the work, the Unshaven Comics crew also takes to the road, selling their comics at conventions. Ask them how tough that gets.
If you want to make comics a career, go for it. But you should understand what you’re getting into. I love my job and feel fortunate to have been able to do it for as long as I have. However, a freelancer’s life – whatever field – is precarious at best. It can be very scary.
If you want to try to make a living as a freelancer, just make sure you can deal with the idea of living without a net.
As you probably already know, Peter David suffered a stroke last week. Even though the Davids have health insurance, they also have co-pays and things that the insurance company just won’t cover. And many people have been asking how they can help.
Peter’s e-books are also available for sale via Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Royalties from those sales will take longer to get to Peter, and be slightly smaller. But one thing that you can do there that you can’t do here is give his books as gifts. Just go on the webpage for the book and click the “Buy As Gift” button and go through the process using the gift-ees e-mail address.
We’ll be keeping you posted on additional efforts to help Peter as hear of them.
I have had a stroke. We were on vacation in Florida when I lost control of the right side of my body. I cannot see properly and I cannot move my right arm or leg. We are currently getting the extent of the damage sorted out and will report as further details become clarified.
His main website, PeterDavid.net, is getting hammered, but we’ll be updating as we have more information. He’s still planning on hitting all his deadlines, though.
Peter, of course, is well known for his comics work, holding the current record for most months consistently published. comic book resume includes an award-winning twelve-year run on The Incredible Hulk, and he has also worked on such varied and popular titles as X-Factor, Supergirl, Young Justice, Soulsearchers and Company, Aquaman, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Star Trek, Wolverine, The Phantom, Sachs & Violens, The Dark Tower, and many others. He has also written comic book related novels, such as The Incredible Hulk: What Savage Beast, and co-edited The Ultimate Hulk short story collection. Furthermore, his opinion column, “But I Digress…,” has been running in the industry trade newspaper The Comic Buyers’s Guide for nearly a decade, and in that time has been the paper’s consistently most popular feature and was also collected into a trade paperback edition.
His latest prose fiction, Pulling Up Stakes, is available from Crazy 8 Press. Part one is available as an e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble now, with part two arriving shortly. His latest comic, Richard Castle’s A Calm Before Storm, is a spinoff from the TV series Castle, starring Nathan Fillion.
Fans don’t always realize how much of what they get to read on the marketplace gets out there despite publisher preconceptions. History is filled with any number of books, ranging from A Wrinkle in Time to Confederacy of Dunces to Harry Potter, that hit the market and left in their wake a host of rejections from various editors because the stories didn’t fit in with what they were looking for.
Pulling Up Stakes first made its presence known at various conventions when I first started working on it. I’d read sample chapters and enthused audiences begged to know when it was going to be done so that they could find out what happened next.
Yet when the book was circulated to editors, the reason for their passing on it were impressive, to say the least.
Pulling Up Stakes tells the skewed tale of Vincent Hammond, a twenty-something vampire stalker, who lives with his domineering mother in a small community of hunters tracing their lineage back to the French Revolution. Vince, however, has a rather singular problem: he’s a vampire. And if his mother finds out, she’ll kill him. Literally. So he doesn’t dare come out of the coffin, so to speak and keeping his secret becomes further complicated when…
Well, we’ll get to that at a future date.
Little did I, or the fans who have loved the readings up to that point, know that that Pulling Up Stakes violated too many rules of the genre. Editors who rejected it, however, didn’t hesitate to explain the problems.
First, if you have a vampire story, you have to have a female protagonist.
Second, men can’t write vampire stories. That’s solely the arena of women writers. Bram Stoker, Joss Whedon…you can suck it.
Third, humor doesn’t sell. So apparently you’ve doomed yourself when your vampiric narrator says things like, “Sparklepires? Come on. Real vampires considered the Twilight books to be such a loose flow of unmitigated crap that they were typically referred to as ‘Vampirrhea.’”
So apparently by writing a humorous vampire story with a male protagonist, I managed to hit the trifecta of hopelessness. No publisher would touch it.
And as you, dear reader, work on prying your slack jaw off the floor, consider how nice it would be to send a message to the publishers that maybe, just maybe, thinking outside the box now and then might be a nice idea, by letting everyone know that Pulling Up Stakes is going to be making its debut at Crazy 8 Press in just a few weeks. Because you can’t keep a good undead man down.
Latchkeys #4, “The Bootleg War”, is now available for Kindle and Nook. Author Paul Kupperberg talks about the writing experience.
By Paul Kupperberg
For writers, ideas are like stacked up airplanes circling the fogged in airport. We want desperately to have all of them land safely, but some are going to have to stay up in the air a little longer than others until the weather clears or a runway opens up. As a result, we’ve all got lots of ideas circling our brains but no opportunity to bring them in for a landing on paper as quickly as we would like.
A few years back, Steven Savile, on a writers email list to which we both belong, suggested that a bunch of us join forces to take some of those high-flying ideas, throw them into a hat, and pick a few on which a dozen or so of us could work together. The idea was to hasten the development and writing of these various concepts by sharing the workloads. The result of Steve’s suggestion was a collective we came to call the HivemMnd.
While Steve has already related the secret origin of the HiveMind in an earlier post here on the Crazy 8 Press blog, the work of actually writing Latchkeys takes place not as a community activity, but in the individual workrooms, offices, and minds of our fourteen writers. The current episode, “Chapter 4: Speakeasy, Part One: The Bootleg War” began with a story by Kris Katzen, which landed on my desk for fleshing out and was a particularly fun story for me to work on. It incorporates elements that play to several of my strengths as a writer: It takes place in New York, the city in which I was born and about which I have an insatiable curiosity (I have shelves containing nothing but histories and biographies related to this, the greatest city on earth), and is set against a historic backdrop, in this case the Prohibition era of the 1920s (coincidentally, I recently read Daniel Okrent’s fascinating history, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition).
I love to pepper period stories like “Bootleg War” with interesting little historic tidbits, whether about its locale or some incidental information (did you know Converse All-Stars sneakers were introduced during the First World War?)…just enough to give it the right flavor and a dash of verisimilitude. Of course, stories have to come from out of the characters first, but those characters need to be rooted in a world that’s as real as they are. The use of the wrong slang or an anachronistic prop and the reader is yanked out of the moment and all the mood and drama the author was hoping to set up is ruined.
And speaking of characters: Latchkeys stars a roster of good ones. I was already familiar with two of them, twin sisters Mercy and Marguerite, from writing one of the later Latchkeys episodes (#13, “Emmett”), but “Bootleg War” gave me the opportunity to get to know a couple of the other fascinating teens who populate this world. I hope you’ll find their intelligence and resourcefulness as interesting as I did while writing them.
So, to torture my opening airplane analogy just a little further, bringing Latchkeys in for a landing has been, in some ways, a long and sometimes bumpy ride, but now that we’re safely home, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a moment of the trip. For readers, on the other hand, there’s nothing but clear skies and some good reading ahead.
After technical difficulties slowly derailed the best laid plans of Crazy 8 Press, my old story, “A Matter of Faith” is now available for the Kindle. The Nook edition will follow next week (once the IRS confirms I am really myself).
As discussed over at Crazy 8 Press recently, it’s one of two original short stories I’ve written and published through the years and I am pleased as punch to be able to have them available once more.
By all means, invest the 99 cents and see for yourself. As a bonus, there will be a sample chapter of Mike Friedman’s Fight the Gods, which will be available later this month. If you buy it, thank you. I certainly want your feedback.
ComicMix contributor Aaron Rosenberg is a prolific writer, editor, and graphic designer who has written role playing games, comic books, fiction, and non-fiction. As a member of Crazy 8 Press, he has the honor of being the second author to launch an original work through the ePublishing site, a seriocomic work called No Small Bills, which goes on sale later this week (UPDATE: Already available now at Barnes & Noble). We sat down with Aaron to get some background on the project.
ComicMix: Aaron, you’re a writer of fiction and non-fiction. Where does No Small Bills fall?
Aaron Rosenberg: Gosh, I really hope it’s fiction! If that story’s real, we could all be in a lot of trouble!
CMix: Seriously, you’ve written fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres, but you’re not known for comedy. Was this a stretch as a writer?
Rosenberg: It was, yes—and it wasn’t. It’s not what I normally write, but anyone who knows me in person knows that I can get a bit silly at times, so this was a chance to actually write that side of myself. As one friend commented, it was the first book of mine he’d read where he saw my actual voice instead of my “authorial” one. I also went about it much more freeform than usual—I’m normally an obsessive outliner but with No Small Bills I actually started with a basic notion and just let DuckBob lead me along on his merry little journey for a while, so in a way it was very freeing.
CMix: Where did the notion for NSB come from?
Rosenberg: It started as a joke, years back. I honestly don’t remember the circumstances, but I made some comment about a guy with a duck head, and that led to my slapping together a very silly picture of a duck-headed surfer with the label “DuckBob Surfs the Ion Storm!” And then I thought he’d be a fun character to write about, so I copied that line into my “Notions” folder, along with the second line “A fun-filled story of a man-duck’s quest for the perfect galactic wave.” And it sat there for a long, long time, until I decided to try my hand at writing something silly for once. Then it seemed like the perfect time to trot DuckBob back out and let him get some air.
CMix: Many writers are their character’s alter ego; can that be said for you and DuckBob?
Rosenberg: Well, DuckBob certainly bears some similarity to my snarky side. I don’t know about the rest of him, though. I hope I’m not that lazy! Or loud! We do have similar taste in shirts, though. (more…)