Greetings and salutations again supporters and family! I had to come back for another round this week to premiere my new logos, courtesy of my lovely friend from way back in the day, Elizabeth "Milli" Villalta. As I progress further with my creative career I am finding new possibilities and new areas I need to grow in. One area I am focusing more on now is my brand. Consistent posts, stronger content and a greater presence in different mediums apparently all go into this... and a good logo helps. And it's great to have artsy friends. Now I've got a few different logos to show in promotion of Pen & Sword Ink on various platforms and materials, so don't be surprised if you see the iconic quill + sword + ink blot combo seen above in a bookstore near you. I hope to expand the brand as I produce more of my own materials, so just keep a look out for my logo now. Much love and now that you know what to look for, also remember there will be plenty more to come.
, Greetings all! I've been off for a while now due to having technical difficulties with the site off and on, but I wanted to post a brief update now:
In the past month, with the help of my awesome creative partners, Javier Puga & Alejandro Lara, I've finally been able to complete the first story for my Illicit Liberties universe, "Muskrat Attacks". I've been developing a unique cast of characters to join Jesse Jim Johns and Big Butch Casey in the misadventures as they steal from the rich and corrupt and give to the needy. I will be updating the "Illicit Liberties" page with more updates as they come but as of right now the story has not been accepted by any publishers but may very well be self-published in the very near future! More updates to come on that.
Also, since March I have decided to undertake a new challenge for myself, creating an anthology of 100 (or more) science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories of 500 words or less. I will be posting a few of the shorts from this book that I plan to self-publish along with another anthology I've been planning for some time in my "Clutter" page here to let people see a little of what I've got in store.
It's kind of late right now and I'm not in the best rambling mood, but please check out the "Illicit Liberties" page for new updates on Muskrat and check the blog here as I plan to bring a few interviews, insights, and book reviews again later. There is plenty more to come!
Well, I've slacked on posting as usual, but I've made plenty of progress in the writing arena. I've had my "Fear of Love" comic and "Prayers for a Son" prose stories published in the Charleston Anvil, a new comic called "Forms of Fear" published for Black Ship Books' Horror Haiku set this past Halloween, and two more comics which have been accepted and will (hopefully) be seen in the upcoming issues of WP Comics' Tales from Orbit ("David & Goliath") and Chronicles of Terror ("Terrors of Oz"). I also plan to release my first individual anthology From the Mind of Mr. E.T. (tentative title) later this year along with the Chimera Chronicles anthology later in the year. From the Mind of Mr. E.T. will be a collection of short stories and comics I've written over the past five years and I hope to continue releasing more volumes every few years of my strange brand of science fiction and fantasy.
I also have to take a moment to thank Mr. Alejandro Lara again for all of his help in helping me create my comics. He is currently one of my primary contributors for concept art for the Chimera Chronicles and he will be my new artist for the Illicit Liberties series as well. It has been a struggle to get a committed artist, but as I develop a budget and find a competent artist to work with I can breathe easier and push forward with my next project once I get the latest one completed. I feel like I am really honing my comic scriptwriting craft now that I have consistent help.
I am truly happy and blessed to have had the small accomplishments I've had. I am also toying with the idea of taking "Prayers for a Son" to the next level and developing a Christian anthology for next year with stories based on the sermons of Pastor Kevin Williams and others. More on that later...
Besides boasting about my writing successes, I also have to vent a little more... I haven't been especially happy since the results of the presidential election. There has been so much division, fear, sadness, and just complete ridiculousness carried on in the mainstream media and through social media. America just seems like a circus and Trump is just enjoying his time as the ringleader. While I see no good coming from him though, I see a lot of good coming despite him.
The increase in organizations and people advocating for social reform. The inspirational marches and uplifting speeches (not the riots and hate speeches) from celebrities and leaders that seem inspired by those from the civil rights era. The overall unity for hope against someone who tries to present himself as a savior by trying to keep people afraid with "alternative facts" and fake news (that's real when it's convenient for his ego). I think singer Jidenna said it best in an interview on the Breakfast Club where he stated that in order to have a Moses you need a Pharaoh. He acknowledged that under Obama's leadership, Americans, especially African Americans, became comfortable. But as my pastor, Dr. Kevin Williams, and other great speakers would say, in order to achieve greatness you can't remain comfortable... This time of discomfort will be our time to seek greatness. I already see a shift in the atmosphere and I truly believe that great things will come about in these next four years regardless of the ignorance and fear being spread from the throne of the White House.
There is always a light waiting to shine in the darkest of times. I'm optimistic for a better day ahead. And there is always more to come!
Another month missed, but plenty of action in the time I've been away. The year is moving by fast and so is life. I just moved into a new apartment (Yay!!), got married (Whoot Whoot!!), and will be starting a new job towards my career (Hoorah!!)! In addition to the successes in my personal life, I am shifting my writing gears so I can get as many stories out as possible for the Chimera Chronicles anthology and also get some short stories and short comics published as well before the year is out.
Recently, I've managed to find a great artist, Alejandro Lara, who I've actually had the pleasure of working with on my one-page comic Eat & Sleep, published in MEGABOOK M4, and he has just finished two short comics for me and agreed to stick with me on some future projects as well! The completed Horrors of Oz, a macabre take on the classic Wizard of Oz story, and David & Goliath, a sci-fi version of the biblical story (see pic), will hopefully be published in a few anthologies among other stories I've written this year. And I am hoping Alejandro will be able to bring the style I need to get Illicit Liberties finally going as well! I've developed a much larger universe and more crazy characters for the criminal duo turn upside down and interact with.
I am especially proud with the progress I am making with the world-building Chimera anthology. Some of the stories I feel could possibly be told differently, but to help people better understand the beings that will inhabit the world, I am trying to just edit what I have and make sure the story already on paper is told the best way possible so I hope my audience will appreciate it just the same... even though the true payoff of the anthology will come when the actual series launches!
But that's enough gassing myself up. I will say no more on this until I have something tangible for the world to enjoy. I will be sharing a few other thoughts and ideas on entertainment, my own inspiration and media over time, so check back with me some other time. There is always more to come!
Happy Independence Day, one and all!
I know I am late for June but there is still more to share as always and the good times and so-so times just keep on rolling!
So while I’ve been continuing to write, revise, and further develop my Chimera universe, I decided to finally take a chance on social media again and resort to building a Pinterest page. Not a big reveal, but it’s a useful resource for stock photos and other reference materials for my own writing and for the artists who are so kind to lend me their talents to create visuals for the crazy worlds I intend to make.
In other news, I’ve also been looking to challenge myself with my writing, so I’ve started lurking on sites for contests to enter! Even those contests that don’t interest me have at least inspired me to try writing in different styles or with new conditions. So far I’ve only actually entered one contest, the Bartleby Snopes dialogue-only contest, and… I got rejected! But it’s cool. I still enjoyed the challenge and I am proud of the work I produced for it. My story “For My Child to Survive…” will be posted in the usual short stories section here. I also found another contest awhile back that called for stories written in less than 500 words, I believe, but I decided to write one in less than 200! I had already missed the deadline for their submissions, but I wanted to challenge myself regardless, and from that challenge I produced the short story “Horror From My POV”, which can also be viewed in the “Clutter” section.
While the new stories are still rolling out, I am also revising some old stories that have been on the site and some that have not been read by anyone else. I’ve been submitting to various publishers, hoping that some of the short comics I’ve had some of my artsy friends toil over and some of these short and sweet stories I’ve crafted on words alone will get a little more recognition, but once I get the Chimera anthology rolling, I do intend to create a collection of shorts from Yours Truly among other things!
Hopefully I can keep bingeing on the creative juices and maintain my momentum. Even if I fail with the contests, I am still finding success in challenging myself and I am increasing my productivity, which is always a positive. Check out the new stories and see what you think! That concludes the short story for now, but there is always more to come!
This year is flying by, and there is so much to do going forward, but also much to share. After a phenomenal weekend last week with my other half, seeing The Jungle Book (which if you have not seen, you’d better! But ignore the songs they butchered from your childhood) and attending an awesome poetry slam competition, among other things, I am still feeling inspired despite the dull weekend I experienced recently. If I failed to mention it before, Megabook Volumes 1 – 4 are all coming to print so please support me and other indy creators, and especially the great guys behind Comic Enterprise Publishing if you don’t already have a digital copy or if you just want to have a hard copy for your bookshelf! Also, I just found out that my old story Trigger, a short about a superhuman uprising, and my newer psychological horror story, Playthings, will both be published in the Spark flash fiction anthology, edited by Black Ship Books’ own Evan Henry! (SN: Black Ship Books is the online publisher I’ve been writing for weekly for almost two years now, which is part of the reason for my lack of posts here, just FYI!) New opportunities to be published are always worth bragging about, but I really want to talk about my own personal projects today.
I have spent most of the year so far trying to commit to writing and editing the Chimera Chronicles to make sure I have at least 15 stories to introduce audiences into the world of Nue-Gaea and some of the major players that will be appearing in this universe that’s been blooming in my head for over a decade. I am thoroughly satisfied with the stories I have conceived so far and the accompanying art some of my old and new artist friends were generous enough to create for me. The book is 12 stories strong so far in the completed stage and I have several more stories in the works, but some may not make the final cut, and others might be withheld until I can work them into the major story arcs for the Chimera series or unless I decide to release a second volume of Chimera Chronicles, which is more likely.
I have also been working with various artists on some short comics, and in addition to my short prose stories, I was considering compiling them into a separate anthology. In fact, maybe I should compile my stories into an anthology and release a new volume of stories like once a decade, like the Isley Brothers do with their albums. A lot of the stories I’ve wanted to tell in comics are my own recreations of classic fairy tales, old epics, and some stories I loved from the Bible with my own sci-fi/fantasy/horror flavor added to them. With enough good ideas, I may very well create my book to rival the Brothers Grimm! But that is really not my intention right now…
I do have some ideas for a new miniseries based on The Wizard of Oz that I am developing into what may be my first actual comic miniseries or graphic novel, but that will only be if I put Ascension further on the backburner, even though I did manage to get about three scripts in before canceling it for the moment.
I have also been touching up my short story Xeros to make it a short sci-fi/horror novella. So far I am liking what I am making of it, but I just don’t have many ideas on how to end it and I hate writing long prose with vague goals in mind. One of my first stories posted here, Prayers for a Son, may also get further development but probably in some other form of media, if not with further prose development.
After rambling for this long, I think I am throwing out more hypotheticals than real results, so I will wrap it up here and hopefully have more real updates in the near future. I will be sharing more about the Chimera series as the anthology gets closer to completion and share more stories and info the page for the series, but as usual, stay tuned because there is always more to come!
This year is flying by... I actually forgot to post last month, even though I intended to be a little bit more consistent in posting here this year, but March arrived, and has almost ended, sooner than expected. I've been encouraging my other half to start a blog for over a year, and she finally started blogging about health and spirituality on her site and she's loving it!! You can see her thoughts here: https://introvertedfillings.wordpress.com/
Unfortunately, I've continued to neglect posting my musings online due to the fact I've invested most of my writing time on the Chimera Chronicles stories or just writing for Black Ship Books or jotting down other random projects that come to mind. Chimera Chronicles is coming along nicely though. I have 13 stories completed and several concept art pieces done and counting for my sci-fi/fantasy anthology set on the world of Nue-Gaea. The prose anthology will be my launching point and reference book for everything in the Chimera universe, and I already have a few comic scripts done as well. I just need the right artists... Working in comics has been a struggle, as I've mentioned several times, but I just ignore the problems, learn from the failures, and remain optimistic that I will get my break eventually. I have had some small successes with smaller comic projects and I am on my third attempt to get Illicit Liberties off the ground. As they said in one of my favorite Disney movies, Meet the Robinsons, I just have to keep moving forward!
Speaking of small projects, I have connected with two amazing artists who I have started working on some short stories with. Juan Nicholas Cerone has assumed the role of penciller and inker for my old short Illicit Liberties: Muskrat Attacks and Neela B is providing her artistic talents to bring my own sci-fi version of the story of David and Goliath and my horrifying short retelling of The Wizard of Oz to the page. I may be doing some features soon with both of these talented individuals and hopefully everyone can see what we produce together in an anthology or at an online publisher very soon. In the meantime, I just encourage everyone to keep their eyes and ears open because I have more to come in the months ahead!
So first off, HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone! 2015 came and went so fast and I am excited and thankful for the things to come in 2016. Among those things, I already have several small projects in the works that I plan to have published wherever I can throughout the year and I will be giving updates and news about those projects as they are completed and where to look for them. One of the larger things I am excited about is the projected release of my anthology, The Chimera Chronicles, which will be an introduction to the world of Nue-Gaea through multiple stories told from the various characters in the shared universe. The Chimera Chronicles will also be the launching point for the Chimera Revolution series I have been planning over the years. I have really been cracking down on writing and selecting artists to complete concept art for the anthology and I am growing more excited for the potential of the series all the time! The Chimera series will touch on themes of discovering purpose and true potential, family, transformation, war, and even persecution.
While 2016 will be a year of excitement though, I am also seeing that it will be a year of disappointment as well. One example is the loss of President Barack Obama as his second term comes to an end and we are left with one of the many unimpressive presidential hopefuls running to take up his mantle. Normally I am not one to talk about politics or even care for that matter but the level of persecution in America is becoming intolerable, and when potential future leaders of our country encourage so much small-minded hatred and propagate a spirit of fear in the people it's cause for concern...
You can see one example of what I am referring to here: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/muslim-woman-gets-kicked-out-of-trump-rally-%E2%80%94-for-protesting-silently/ar-CCkgwd
I am not going to talk much on the subject here but I do agree with one thing Trump said: In order to solve a problem you have to identify it and talk about it. In the last year alone there has been so much bigotry (Trump, KKK), corruption of authority (murderous police, devious politicians and religious leaders) and fallen idols (Cosby) exposed. There is still violence erupting all over despite efforts of world leaders to establish peace (ISIS). Old and new diseases are also spreading (return of Black Plague and different strains of flu). There is so much wrong but there is little talk to find solutions and more talk to spread fear and create more problems. As a writer though I will talk about it in my stories. Check out the first story from The Chimera Chronicles to be posted on the Chimera Revolution page and be on the look out for even more to come this year! That's all for now...
Happy 2015! I have been away from Pen and Sword Ink for a year and some change since I’ve been a regular contributor at the pop culture site Black Ship Books since September of last year. A lot of the usual features I would do here such as short editorials or my “All Eyes On…” Q&A interviews are now on Black Ship, and even though I felt it was redundant to double post articles, I felt it was time to come back to my own brainchild. Hopefully I can brainstorm some new content for this site and better manage my time between both. This year has gone by so quickly, time just escaped me, and I feel like I did not accomplish as much as I could have in the last year but I haven’t been (too) lazy this year either.
In the beginning of the year I challenged myself to write and develop a 12-issue apocalyptic comic series called Ascension, writing one script a month. Unfortunately, after I got three scripts into the work I began to feel like it was no longer the story I intended to tell and I decided to put it aside for the moment. In the meantime, I did write a few more short prose stories and comics, and I have worked more on my upcoming Chimera Chronicles anthology and the Illicit Liberties comic. Chimera Chronicles will introduce people into the world of Nue-Gaea with a collection of about 20 stories told from the perspective of various species that inhabit this world and it will also be a kind of guide book to the Chimera series, currently in the works. I would like to give a huge thanks to Mahesh Gaichor, Yogesh Bhagane, Brian McCranie, Tom Edwards, and Chris Jacques for their awesome concept art for the science fiction and fantasy anthology! Illicit Liberties has also undergone some development and I do still hope to release a collection of short comics of the misadventures of Jesse Jim Johns and Big Butch Caudill in the corrupt world they live in, but it is still a matter of finding a committed artist. I am still keeping hope alive though!
Two of my short comics, Fear of Love and Missing Links: Living Among Men, can be found on the Black Ship Books website here http://www.blackshipbooks.com/untitled-webcomic/fear-of-men-page-one/ and here http://www.blackshipbooks.com/untitled-webcomic/fear-of-love-page-one/. Originally these comics were meant for Big Pants Studios’ Monsters, Mutants and Mayhem anthology but since it was announced around the end of last year that the anthology would be on an indefinite hiatus, I decided to find them another home elsewhere. I would like to thank QUELLER, Kundo Krunch, Kevin Learn, and Chas! Pangburn for their help in drawing and lettering these comics.
I have also had two one-page comics, Guide Dog Trouble and Eat and Sleep, published in the recently released MEGABOOK 4! I would like to give my gratitude to Mike Rickaby of CE Publishing, Alesznine Lan, and Justin Cornell of Vanderhuge Studios for their help. You can check out info for MEGABOOK 4 here:
New Blog Post for M4
Overall CE Publishing home website. This has a nice graphic of the most recent M4 Blog.
And you can also see interviews I conducted with individual contributors for the anthology here http://www.blackshipbooks.com/?s=megabook
Or purchase the anthology here http://www.drivethrucomics.com/product/166196/Megabook-M4?, but you can pay what you want for it!
I have been introduced to a lot of talented and inspirational people throughout this year and I’m hoping to discover even more in 2016 (and hopefully be discovered)! In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of this year and there is much more to come!
Cheers to Masashi Kishimoto and the Village Hidden in the Leaf's "Number-One-Hyperactive-Knucklehead Ninja" and Nine-Tailed Fox Jinchuuriki. Naruto was the first manga/comic series I ever started reading, thanks in large part to my exposure to the anime on Cartoon Network way back in my high school days. With the manga now coming to a close (they've just wrapped up Naruto and his team's climactic battle against the god of all ninjas), I just wanted to explore some of the ways Naruto has inspired and taught me in my creative endeavors.
1. An idiot savant can unite a nation. Naruto always had that special spark that made others want to follow him even if he wasn't the smartest or most adept ninja, and he had a way of converting enemies to friends even though everyone initially hated, mocked and feared him because of the power hidden inside of him. It seems like a common theme in manga and anime for the main protagonist to be a little thick in the head, probably because it makes them all the more lovable to their audience.
2. A "genius" really doesn't always make the best leader. Look at Sasuke and all of the convoluted ways he tried to lead others and achieve power. Sasuke's motivations were also unclear at times, especially how he changed so easily in his goals--from wanting to kill his brother who murdered their entire clan to wanting to destroy the village that condemned his brother and made him kill his clan to wanting to protect and become the leader of the very same village he vowed to destroy. One of the major antagonists of the series, Madara Uchiha, had a similarly flawed reasoning.
3. Character development is everything. There are some who scoff at the way Naruto and other characters "conveniently" achieved new levels of power before fighting stronger enemies, but for those who paid attention throughout the series, everything in the story flowed together almost flawlessly. Also the use of world building was done expertly with the use of bloodlines, histories, character relationships, etc. to the point that you can't help but appreciate Kishimoto's genius.
4. There are those who are born with talent and those who have to work at it. Straight and to the point, but illustrated perfectly through the relationship of "failures" such as Rock Lee and Naruto and "geniuses" such as Neji and Sasuke.
5. Having a "sun" inside of you perforates the inner darkness and negates the outside influences that would cause you to embrace it. Another common theme in manga and anime is fighting for your beliefs and those precious to you. This is stressed throughout the "Naruto" series, but it does explore one interesting concept wherein the jinchuuriki, such as Naruto and Killer Bee, tame their own inner darkness and the tailed beast spirits that they were tasked with containing by focusing on their "suns", i.e. parents and friends.
While this is only a succinct list of things I learned from the series (and I didn't fully explain the character relationships or points made because it would take WAY too long and I couldn't do it justice), I have a lot to take away from Kishimoto's work. He is definitely one of the primary influences for me as a writer and creator. And Naruto is a character who has taught me a lot about myself, human nature, and the world as it is. Along with Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (who I may talk about in the future), Naruto will be forever kept in mind and held as a standard for great storytelling. That's all I really have to share for now, but there is always more to come!
Marcus E. T.
I am a writer, a creator, and just a little bit of everything good in the world wrapped into a chocolate-covered, human-sized package for your convenience!