Category: Behind the Writing

2017 Is Going to Kiss My Ass

Last year, 365 days ago, I posted the word that would guide me throughout the year. It took a few days of me mulling it about in my head and picking apart my life a day at a time, but underneath the successes and even the disasters, the word seemed to apply. In 2016, I abdicated far more than I anticipated. You can read more about my goals from the previous year in this post.

I released myself from obligations in my day job for self-preservation and while I thought I might be saddened by it, I made a healthy decision. Now I’ve been able to redirect my energies into my writing. I finished I.Am.Maine: Snapshots of Small Town Maine and released my first superhero novel, Nighthawks: Children of Nostradamus. Finding it didn’t provide joy to my life, I permanently shelved my graphic design book. I also decided to take some risks and submitted four short stories to various anthologies and had three of them accepted. In one year, my name showed up in four books with another showing up in January and then my own novel in February.

Emerge. For 2017, a year that will be filled with challenges unlike any before it, I need to keep my head up and move forward. I don’t want to hesitate, I don’t want to call it a building year like I did for 2016. In 2017, I want to push ahead and rise above the status quo.

I don’t want to spell out everything I have in the works, but the immediate pipeline has been secured. Northern Frights: Maine Horror Stories will arrive during January and Night Shadows: Children of Nostradamus Book 2 will come out on Valentines day. In April another installment of the Children of Nostradamus series will arrive and if all goes well, I’m expected three more books before the end of the year. This is the year of going big. There are no road blocks.

2017 is going to get its ass handed to itself. This ass handing begins on January 2nd. Stay tuned. Things are about to get super at RemyFlagg.com.

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Reflecting on a Year Not Done

I’m having a weird weekend. I’ve spent the day revising the latest draft of my manuscript. My editor gave me some great notes and overall, she said I had made some great improvements in my story and my technical skill. While I never set out to “improve,” my writing, this year, I did take risks to expand myself as a writer. It reminded me that this year has been one packed to the brim with amazing opportunities.

This year I…

Published the first book in the Children of Nostradamus series. Nighthawks is my first sci-fi novel and revolves around a dystopian future and the superpowered people trying to survive. I’m proud of it because it focuses on the humanity of an archetype under stress. It also begins my falling down the rabbit hole asking, “In our darkest moments, are we still human?”

Published the second and final chapter of the I.Am.Maine project. I have mixed feelings about this. If you hear me speak about writing, I’ll be the first to say this book has a weird place in my bibliography. Many of my writing fans are geographically based in Maine or have strong connections to Maine. It has given me issues trying to break out as a sci-fi writer. However, I have had the opportunity to connect to so many people who either shared in my story or have a similar tale to tell. It remains the book that speaks to who I am today.

Wrote, submitted, and had my first three horror stories accepted to anthologies. I wanted to get my name in front of more people. This started as a marketing tactic, but this is where I think growth happened. I do not define myself as a horror writer. My first story, “Access Violation,” in Wicked Witches: An Anthology by the New England Horror Writers relies heavily on fantasy and sci-fi elements and lands solidly in the cyberpunk realm. I got great feedback and had to knuckle down and rewrite a significant amount of the book to be accepted, but I grew. When I submitted “Purgatory Junction,” for Northern Frights, I delved into traditional ghost stories and the unnerving sense of isolation. I walked away from writing that story catching myself jumping at shadows. The third submission gave me the opportunity to write my first serious zombie piece. “We Cease to Exist,” takes place in Only the Light We Make, Chris Philbrook’s universe of Adrian’s Undead Diary. The challenge of writing a story in a person’s world other than your own is a challenge. The crowd is not my norm, and it took some calibrating. However, I’m proud to say it was submitted. All three stories were accepted.

Received my first rejection of the year. In total I wrote four short stories and three were accepted. The fourth story was one of 800 submissions and while I was disappointed, how could I feel bad? A year ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to submit a humorous tale of office politics and superheroes. Now, the rejection letter sits in a pile with others and I’m moving forward.

Attended my first, second, third, and fourth comic-book convention as a vendor. It started with Bangor Comic & Toy Convention. I met geeks. I met people I connected with. I got to see people excited to be with their own. I felt at home. The sensation was amazing enough I attended three more throughout the year, both as a solo act and with the New England Horror Writers.

Participated in my first public speaking at Pandemonium Books. Reading “Access Violation,” amongst a group of writers was one of most unnerving acts I’ve participated in. I’m still relatively new to this and each of these “first moments,” are small hurdles toward the end of the race. I think I did fairly well. I got a rise from the audience, and laughter where needed. The sarcasm of my writing works well when spoken.

Attended a genre conference for writers in New England. NECON as it is referred to was filled with writers relating to horror specifically, but always some fringe writers in fantasy and science fiction. There were Bram Stoker winners and nominees and the names of authors who I grew up reading in attendance. I was a bit in shock to realize I went from admiring these people to being one of their peers. That transition continues to boggle my mind.

Wrote the second installment of the Children of Nostradamus series. It’s always questionable if a series will continue. I’m proud to say the story and the arcs resulting from book one will carry the series on for a few more books. I wanted a world I could write in for a while, and it looks like I’ll get what I wanted. Night Shadows gets the benefit of having the kinks worked out of it by writing short stories this year. I get to feature more characters I like and the story takes a dark turn which is letting me work out some angst.

Met some amazing writers. As I posted my annual Facebook “year in review” video, I realized that all but one person I added to my friends list are a direct resulting of my writing. I’ve befriended authors I admire and several I read growing up. I’m happy to know there is a community out there wanting you to succeed. Advice is never more than a text message away and there’s always a drinking buddy when you need one.

I’m sure there is plenty more. The year has been action packed. Where many people would say, “Where has the time gone?” I’m left saying, “How’d I manage so much in one year?” Next year is proving to be even more action packed. January is the only month where I’ll get some down time. From there it’s off to the races to see if I can put 2016 to shame.

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Behind the Scenes: What you Don’t See Writers Do

Wicked Witches Authors

Writing is the easy part. Let me repeat that, the easiest part about being a writer is the writing. Once I learned you have to write to be a writer (it’s funny to say, but people struggle with that) it became the easiest part of this crazy world. The idea of sitting down and banging out a few thousand words each day isn’t hard, or even difficult. I make time to write, and thankfully my life affords me plenty of time to delve into my novels.

Once you’ve submitted the manuscript there comes a whole lot of effort behind the scenes to market, promote, and collaborate on projects. Thankfully I’ve been lucky to stumble onto a great group of people who have made this relatively painful, and fairly fun to do. I hope everybody can find the writers they gel with as it not only helps being around similar people, it’s a professional booster when you need it.

So what do I have in the pipeline right now? A lot.

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Wicked Witches: An Anthology by the New England Horror Writers is doing pretty well and holding in the top 100 of Horror Anthologies. We even had a moment in the charts where we were holding our own against a new release by Stephen King. While I secretly hoped for the #1 position, if I have to lose to somebody, I’m glad it’s the horror Titan himself.

Along with promoting the book, I also had the opportunity to do my first public reading at Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge. I was nervous and trying not to shake like a leafy on a windy day, but I managed. I got some laughs and I got a few “ohhs,” so I’m going to call it a success. It was great to hang out with other contributors to the anthology and talk to avid readers about writing and what it’s like to work with other authors.

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I also have another anthology coming up. I am a contributor in Chris Philbrook’s “Only the Light We Make” a collection of stories set in the world of his best-selling series, “Adrian’s Undead Diaries.” While I have dabbled in zombies, it’s mostly be satire and poking fun at the genre. This was a good chance to blend a more serious tone with the walking dead.

What excites me most about this, one of my stories will be in audiobook format for the first time in my writing career. While I have pondered doing this for my own books, it’s on the back burner while I try to complete some upcoming projects.

In other news, Night Shadows: Children of Nostradamus Book 2 is just about done being edited and then it’s off to the publisher for some polishing. I’m happy to say I see a plot unfolding and look forward to the remaining two books in this segment of the story. In preparation for the launch on February 14th, I am putting together a group of guest writers to talk about topics in comic books. Once I have more information solidified I’ll share. Expect some regular postings coming up, I’d like to spend more time blogging in the near future! In the meantime, sign up for the mailing list for updates. 

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Quick Robin, To the Comic Store

October 29th went in the books as the first day I sold books at an actual comic book store. A few months ago, the folks at The One Stop Shop started carrying Nighthawks. Well, after some discussion I got asked if I’d be interested in attending Comicfest, the October version of “Free Comic Book Day.” I said sure, why not?

I spent the day talking comics and video games with the locals. I imagined I was Kevin Smith on the set of Comicbook Men. Once the Batman onesie appeared, things just got weird. My cheeks still hurt from laughing so hard. The site of a bearded Batman running down the street screaming, “In the name of Justice!” was enough to stop traffic and nearly cause an accident.

Nope. No dull days in the life of a writer!

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Back to Where It Started

He’s going to kill me. I’m going to die from a nib penned thrust into my jugular. But it’ll be worth it. Technically this is the first “fan art” created for the Children of Nostradamus series. These illustrations were created by the very man who used to join me at the dining room table and give life to a world filled with superheroes. While I penned the dialogue and created the stories, Nick Leonard created the visuals. We were Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster, Chris Claremont and Len Wein, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. The dreams of a seventh grader evolve, but sitting at that table is where it all started.

While the Nighthawks has been turned into a novel, it had a very different origin. The character names and powers may be the same, we had a much more expansive cast than what I’ve introduced at this point. The memories are fuzzy and not all of this might be accurate, but I’ll see what I can recall.

Vanessa, the character drawn above was never meant to be human. Her telepathy and wings are part of her alien species. A rogue from another planet, she was one of the few people who knew Earth was being overrun by her race. She led the Nighthawks, which wasn’t the name of the team at this point, but the actual name eludes me.

Prism, an original creation by Nick. A character composed of almost liquid metal who could reflect light and focus it into lasers. Part of a team which also included a character named after King Midas whose touch changed any object’s molecular makeup turning it to gold.

Magus, the Doctor Strange of our universe. His abilities focus on magic and suffered from visions of demons seeking to take over the world. He would later be the love interest of Jasmine, a militant woman with metal skin.

Our world imitated the stage set by Marvel Comics, but we tended to focus on darker storylines and favoring Chris Claremont’s saga style of storytelling. Life hadn’t provided the experience necessary to create a story of depth, but we did practice and imitate. Now, a dark world set in the future is being constructed based on these youthful ramblings.

Now that the world has been built, and the stories are being told, the only question is, “What’s next?” There are plans to continue in this world for a long time to come.

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