James R. Tuck's Blog
May 12, 2013
I have a ton of books.
I don’t know how much they actually weigh, but me and the Missus have a book buying problem. Actually, the phraseology on that is wrong. We have NO problem buying books. Ignore the fact that my TBR pile numbers near 100. Ignore also the fact that there are easily 20 current releases I have NOT purchased simply because I know when I do I will immediately read them thus pushing my TBR pile even further int he background. (Yes, I’m looking at you COLD DAYS by Jim Butcher. Fuck you, don’t make me feel guilty for not bathing in your sweet sweet cotton-candy scented literature. I’ll get to you. I will. I PROMISE. It is inevitable.)
Where was I?
Oh yeah, books.
Here is a pic of our new, grown folks books shelves and our library at the house.
ALL the books on the left two shelves are mine.
So earlier I was thinking about books. The physical form of the book. I decided that I am totally over mass market paperbacks. I much prefer the size of a trade paperback.
Mass market paperbacks are now the cats of the publishing world in my opinion.
Now I’ll still buy a mass market, hell I bought one last night (SHARP by my good friend Alex Hughes). But if I can, I’m buying trades from now on.
Book four of the Deacon Chalk series will be trade paperback size.
My double anthology of sword and sorcery stories that I edited for Seventh Star press will be trade paperback size.
I’m actually going to push for any book released by me to be automatically in trade paperback size. I may not get it for everything, but it’s what I want.
They are easier to hold, easier to read, and easier to shelve. They are narrower, so you can fit more on a shelf, and with a mass market, you lose the 3-4 inch difference in dead space between the top of the book and the bottom of the shelf above it.
This post has no real merit. It was just a musing I thought I would indulge because, hey, fuck it, it’s my internet too.
So what’s your choice or opinion on this hot-button issue?
April 20, 2013
Sorry, I started editing an anthology that became two anthologies and I looked up and a month was gone. I’m also about to remodel the tattoo shop I own (Family Tradition Tattoo) in Marietta, Ga so lots and lots has kept me away.
Anyway, I’m at JordanCon this weekend. This is a nice con. Real nice. Easy to work, 20 minutes from the house, the staff is super nice, and it’s loaded with folks I like:
I was on a great panel with Delilah, Alex, John, and Seanan Mcguire today where the topic of what we read came up. We gave our list and I said that I have been concentrating on reading some classic literature and award winners to see if they were worth the hype, ala, Hemmingway (yes), Falkner (yes), and others.
After saying it I felt the need to clarify that I wasn’t putting down genre in any way. I didn’t want anyone in the room to walk away with the impression that I think genre books aren’t “real” literature.
In my clarification the audience mistakenly thought I was putting down one of my co-panelists books which is the exact opposite of what I was saying. Now I’m not slick, but I don’t often misspeak (and I am never shy about an opinion) but my point that a good book is a good fucking book no matter where the publisher puts it and to be prejudiced by genre is dumb and limits you and no one else.
One of my literary heroes is Robert E. Howard. I have made no secret to that. He’s considered a hack by the wide, wide literary world. He wrote pulp, a LOT of it. He wrote about swords and barbarians and wizards and boxers and pictish kings and magic.
He also wrote about destiny, morality, love, valor, and metaphysical concepts such as genetic memory, immortality, reincarnation, and others. His wordcraft equals the greats of literature and I place him next to Cormac McCarthy.
Kurt Vonnegut is now considered literature, but trust me, he wrote science fiction and speculative fiction. The literati loves Neil Gaimen but he writes magical realism. It’s all genre dammit. Both of them are on the level of Harlan Ellison and the literati turns a nose up at him.
Genre is real writing folks. It just is. It’s not all vampire smooches and shit blowing up.
Go click the links in this blog if you don’t believe me. Order some books. Get your read on.
March 11, 2013
There is a thing in this world that we are falling short of. It’s something that is vital to our health as a nation and as individuals.
It’s called SELF-RELIANCE.
The simple truth of life is that in this life you have to carry your own weight. It’s a complicated thing that you spend your childhood learning about and your teens figuring out how to do it. Once you become an adult you should have it worked out as to how you are going to take yourself through life.
Say you an me are going on a journey. The two of us are hitting the road and needing to go somewhere. We are walking. Now, I may not walk fast, but I can walk pretty far. The two of us could probably cover 10-20 miles before we had to stop. That’s a pretty fair piece.
I’m a big guy. 6’4 well over 300 lbs. I’m pretty strong. If you climb on my back I can probably carry you maybe a half mile before your weight would make me have to set you down.
Now pay attention to what happened in that example.
Both of us walking, carrying our own weight, we could go 20 miles.
Me carrying you, we could go 1/40th that distance. (and if I strapped up to your back we’d be lucky to make it 10 feet. (I am a heavy bastard)
Now this example carries over to your entire life. It applies to your work, to your marriage, to your friendships, to damn near everything you ever do. If we all carry our own weight we can go further. We can encourage each other on the road and inspire each other to reach destinations more distant than we would travel to on our own.
But we do it on our own two feet. Standing, walking, striding forward.
Walk beside. Don’t ride. You’ll get farther.
February 27, 2013
So, it’s been a minute since I’ve blogged.
Sorry about that.
Here’s the happy haps so you can keep up.
First of all: BLOOD AND MAGICK drops like a lead elephant NEXT TUESDAY! (March 4th) so go buy it, review it, tell all your friends, show the love, and kick the ass.
Convention season is upon us, well, upon me anyways. I’ll be doing a boat ton of travelling, working conventions. I did OLDE CITY, NEW BLOOD at the beginning of the month and it was super awesome. Mark it down and make your plans for next year. That convention ROCKED. I got to hang out with a ton of great authors, bloggers, and reader. Met a ton of folks I know from online and some folks I didn’t know at all before then.
Then I came home and the following weekend my gall bladder tried to kill me.
Honest Injun, it was the worst thing I have ever been through. I was in so much pain all I could do was moan and hold my midsection. It felt like I was being pummeled by some big redneck boys whose sister/cousin I had insulted. I threw up more than I could have ever imagined my stomach holding, and overall thought I was going to cash it in. I was too sick to write, hell I was too sick to watch TV. So that was 4 days gone to shit without anything to show for it except almost 20 pounds lost. I have declared though, that if that happens again I will have that gall bladder yanked out.
Hell, I might even do it myself.
After recovering i did ANACHROCON the next weekend. It’s a good convention, steampunk as hell and that’s just fine. It’s not my gig, but I like it. I like folks in costume, especially when they go to the extreme and do it with the class that most of the attendees at ANACHROCON do. Hung out mostly on the Classic Horror track, which was run by my good friend Derek Tatum, and talked a lot of Lovecraft and Cthulhu. I made the statement that Cthulhu is the Fonz of elder gods and I believe it more and more.
This weekend is Con Nooga and I’ll only be there Sat, but it is an action packed Sat. I think I’m on 8 panels. With a two hour drive up and a two hour drive back i should be a tired puppy at the end.
Selections have been made for my anthology, THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD, through Seventh Star Press. It’s now a two volume set and will be totally kick ass.
And I’m now posting monthly at MAGICAL WORDS, a really terrific writing website that is genre specific. I’ll be there Friday so stop on by!
Other than that everything is five by five and I’ll catch you on the flip side.
February 6, 2013
The other day, hell yesterday, the abominable snowman that is Chuck Wendig did a kick ass post on internet piracy. He ask for authors to join in the discussion and post up a blog with their thoughts. Here’s mine:
Okay I’ll admit it. I’ve pirated a lot of stuff in my day. Clicked it, downloaded it, thought nothing of it. Music, tv shows, movies, damn near nothing was safe from my greedy grasp.
I had a lot of reasons, some where that ti didn’t matter, some were that stuff was unavailable in a way that would benefit the artist (I mean, did Muddy Waters really care that I downloaded his performance in London? I mean, being dead and all he probably didn’t care)
I heard a lot of talk from pirates about the fan aspect. The “if I try it and I like it then it helps get the word out.”
Well that works for music but it does almost nothing for an author.
I’ve worked in the music industry in clubs and owning a tiny (and I mean freaking tiny) record label with my best friend Kevin in the 90′s.
HERE is a link to one of the albums we put out.
And now I’m an author.
Here’s the gig: If you download a band’s record (one released through a label, not independant) then often they don’t care. The reason for this is that the band made their money on the record already. They got an advance which is theirs. Yes it goes to the recording of the album but if they get 10 grand and spend 2 then they pocket the rest.
This advance is recouped by the record label keeping the royalties earned from sales.
So far, this is the same way it is in the publishing industry.
But that shit is about to change.
Now the band has their record out. It’s up on Itunes, Amazon, on the shelves of the few Best Buys out there. If they are big enough they go in Walmart and all the other places CD’s still live. The band then books a tour, hit the road, and play gigs. Sometimes they get paid for the gig, sometimes not, but while they are out there they are hawking t-shirts and other merchandise.
This is where a band makes a living.
They get in front of fans, even the fans who pirated their album, and then sell them the two things that CANNOT be pirated, a live performance and a piece of merchandise.
Now remember how I said that this was just like publishing? Well, here’s where it ain’t.
An author gets their book out. It goes live on Amazon, B&N, and on bookshelves across the world. The author hits the road promoting the book. They work conventions and do book signings and speak. They bust their ass to entertain the fans who come, even the ones who pirated their book.
BUT OTHER THAN THE BOOK THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SELL YOU.
If you go see an author live at a convention or a signing then they are NOT getting paid for that. It is coming out of their pocket. It COSTS them money to be where you are, even if they are local.
So now you know. Buy the book. It’s the only real way that supports an author. The only way that matters.
And don’t pull the “I want to try it to see if I like it first” crap. There isn’t a book out there that you can’t read a preview for free. If you pirate it and it doesn’t blow your socks off then you won’t pay for it.
But you like books. You like writers. Put the money on the table.
We all appreciate it.
February 5, 2013
Go read it. I’ll be here tomorrow with my thoughts on the whole gig.
January 18, 2013
It’s a great writing blog with a TON of awesome articles by working authors. Go comment and book mark it. I’ll be there once a month.
January 13, 2013
Y’all know I like to bring new folks to your attention. Here’s a fella that is hella nice and writes some truly kick ass zombie fiction. I mean Armand is truly out on the edge. He’s got a new one out and here he is to let you know a bit about the flavor of the story.
And the best way to support my guests is to buy their shizzle. Go look around Armand’s website, check out his amazon page, or just click the link below to go straight to the book! If you want crazy zombie action you will not be disappointed.
Without further ado:
Miami Spy Games
Miami Becomes A Character
As hard as it is to believe, Miami is where Miami Spy Games is set. I know, crazy! As with most of my stories, I take great care in choosing the perfect setting for a story, whether it is horror, thriller, erotica… you get the idea.
My challenge with Miami Spy Games was being handed the location when I took the job of writing the ‘episodes’. I live in Florida, but I also live about six hours north of Miami. It wasn’t like I could take a quick drive down, scope out the area, and begin writing. But once I started putting the basic story together, I realized Miami was a huge part of the plot.
It’s where the action is, obviously, but it also sets the tone. When you talk about the seedier sections of Miami, someone living in the area needs to know it is authentic, and readers all over the world need to feel like they know Opa-Locka. When I mention South Beach, everyone immediately thinks of gorgeous sun-kissed women wearing thong bikinis. (I know I do!), but I also wanted to show other parts of the area like the hotels and restaurants, so the reader got a better feel for it.
I was also able to talk to two people who are close to me that grew up in Miami: Kim Murphy and Steven Brack. They offered ideas for locations, told me about certain buildings and streets I used, and gave me some Miami tidbits I added into the story.
Time and time again, I had to research Miami maps and photos and areas like The Setai Hotel, Miamarina, Miami Zoo, Miami International Airport, and so many other spots. It’s amazing how much these places colored the story and felt like another character as I wrote, making sure to catch all the little nuances of each location and have it play off the living characters.
I hope I’ve done justice to Miami, and hope I can continue to play in their backyard with even more Miami Spy Games stories in the future.
If you have any questions about the Miami Spy Games series, I’d love to hear them: email@example.com
January 8, 2013
I’m feelin’ a bit under the weather today so this post may ramble a bit. Forgive me like I’m Jean Valjean and I just stole your silverware. (I saw Les Miserables’. I cried two tears. Deal with it.)
Two things happened recently that drive this post.
1) The Missus got me DEATH THREATS: The Life And Times Of A Comic Book Rock Star by Drew Hayes which collects the starting notes (an editorial rambling by author/artist) for every issue of POISON ELVES (along with selected portions of the letters column which were called Deaththreats) In these pages are the story of a man who self-published a comic book in a time when the comics industry was in a bit of turmoil, signed on with an upstart publisher, and went on to become a bit of an underground comic legend. In it you find him going through divorce, depression, childbirth, and an assortment of other bits of life.) Drew is no longer with us, having died in 2007 entirely too young.
Now POISON ELVES is a comic book series that ran from end of ’91 to 2004 which is when Drew’s health went tits up and he couldn’t do the book anymore. There were some spin off side story miniseries that had his oversight and approval that went on a bit after that. But for all intents and purposes there hasn’t been a bit of new material in 5 years.
2) I saw this: APE ENTERTAINMENT TO PUBLISH NEW POISON ELVES
Both of them made me feel……strange.
Let me explain.
I discovered Poison Elves on issue one of the “new” series when it switched from self publishing to being put out by Sirius Entertainment. My mind was BLOWN. I discovered an anachronistic fantasy world populated by humans, wizards, and elves. It was a dark, gutterpunk version of fantasy and followed the adventures of a don’t-give-a-damn, angry-at-the-world-and-sometimes-justifiably-so, homicidal, hair-trigger elf named Lusiphur who had a smart mouth and a propensity for finding trouble.
The artwork was…..raw. All swagger and substance and not so much technique. Stark black and white and full of cool touches like rock posters on the walls of alleys, t-shirts on the characters, and other assorted punk rock aesthetics.
Plus Drew didn’t give a damn about what you were supposed to do and would plop down columns of story in the form of text chunks. It let him cut through the problem of backstory and fix the issue of having one character tell another what was going on in long pages of conversation so the reader would have a clue. In other words it was pretty damn brilliant.
And to this day nobody has the balls to do it like he did.
Needless to say I fell in love with the comic, bought all of them and still have them in a long box. I got to meet the main man himself when he came to the ’94 or ’95 (hell, mighta been ’96 or 97) Atlanta Comicon. It was a shit convention but he was there so me and my good friend Kevin took off to meet him. We had comics in hand and this was our first time meeting someone who actually made the things we both loved so much. (Kevin’s just as much a fanboy as me and also loves POISON ELVES).
I wish I could say we had a crazy time with Drew. That we met and it was like the Three Amigos joined for the first time and me and him and Kevin went from the convention for a night of revelry that may or may not have included whiskey, rock n roll, and strippers with one or all of us winding up waking in jail. But this was the mid-nineties and I wasn’t cool like that. I met him, he was really nice and signed our books, including the ones we bought there. We talked about some bands and stuff, things I can’t really remember, but it was short and when it was over we moved on, happier to have met someone who MADE COMIC BOOKS WE LIKED. I know we sent him a Mike Knott cd cause Kevin loves LSU (the band dork, not the football team) and they talked about it in our five minute (if that) conversation. I never heard from him again or met him again other than every month in the pages of the funny book.
But he was an influence. Is there some of Lusiphur in Deacon? Hell yes there is. Plus, directly because of Drew Hayes and his contribution to the author DNA of yours truly, if I ever write a straight fantasy book (and there is one in there, somewhere deep down, just fermenting like a fine sword-edged bourbon) it will be a lot like POISON ELVES.
So they are making a new series. It’s written by Rob Horan, the founder of Sirius Entertainment, who is the holder of the rights to POISON ELVES and probably the man most capable of carrying the torch. The art looks good. It’s blessed by Drew’s daughter, Mary. So I’m in. I’ll buy it when it comes out and I really hope it kicks a ton of ass.
But I won’t lie. I miss Drew Hayes.
January 3, 2013
Loyals and True Believers we made it another year.
2013 Hell yeah and Amen and pass the bourbon.
I’m like most of you, I try to make changes with each new year. Most of them have to do with writing but there are more so here’s some random resolutions that are bouncing around in my head.
1) 60% OF A MILLION
I did some figuring the other day. If I write 2,000 words a day, taking off one day a week and allowing for 13 sick days, at the end of 2013 I will have written 600,000 words. SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND! That’s astounding. I’m going to give it my best try, keeping track and seeing if it can be done. I’ve got about 240,000 words worth of projects laid out for the year which leaves 360,000 words to spend on new things. It’s exciting!
2) SPEAKING OF WRITING
I am making a conscious decision to quit screwing around with my wordsmithy. I am seeking out new words and new ways to use them, studying poets of the caliber of Yeats, Tennyson, and Donne. I’ll be pulling out the Ecclesiastes and the Psalms (in both King James and Douay-Rheim) and the early turn of the century (not the 21st) writers like the church fathers. Basically I want to get my Cormac McCarthy on and combine the lyrical sentence work with my pulp sensibility.
3) LOSE WEIGHT
Yep. We all say it but unlike you I stepped on a scale that informed me I was a super svelte 383 lbs. Let that sink in for a second. I am SEVENTEEN POUNDS FROM BEING 400. That is a bit ridiculous. I’ve always been a big guy. I like being a big guy but it is time to reel that shit in.
4) WORK THE TATTOO GIG LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER
I can be honest with you. This past year I really let the shop take care of itself while I chased my author dreams. I don’t regret anything and the shop did fine but I know that Family tradition needs my attention. If I just leave it be it will not thrive and I LOVE my shop, I want it to grow and be the best shop it can be. It’s a great place and even if words flow through my veins, tattooing is in my bones. It was there first and is still part of my DNA. So the ship is being tightened up, changes implemented and new things put in motion.
5) A NEW SCHEDULE
This all happens with a bit of structure on my part. Instead of willy nilly doing whatever the hell I want I have to apply this brain of mine to the situation and manufacture a workable schedule to do what I want. I am pretty sure I have it worked out and it is implemented and undergoing study to see where it needs be tweaked for efficiency.
Other than the big five it’s a bunch of little things. I plan to drink more bourbon, to meet new folks, to explore new forms of writing and new pieces of art. I’m 42 and I love my life and I plan to truly enjoy it all.