What I Did on my Summer Vacation

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Gary Carbon’s final cover art for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022

I report back to St. Vincent Pallotti High School this morning, beginning my sixth year as a teacher there. Somehow, the ten-week summer break has evaporated and the 2022-23 academic year is poised to begin on the 29th.

So, what did I do on my summer vacation?

The big project was writing the second Above the Ground novel. You may recall, that I was contracted by Heavy Metal CEO Matt Medney to cowrite this project which occupied last summer. That book had some ARCs produced and the reviews are so far, so good. The actual book will be out in October.

I began writing the actual manuscript from an expanded outline on May 21, just before the school year ended. I wrote most every day, finishing the final page of the first draft on July 11, averaging 3782 words per day. I set it aside until the beginning of August to let it marinate and focus on other stuff.

That other stuff was, of course, the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022. I needed a fairly sizeable increase this time around to ensure profitability and was nervous, but somehow it caught people’s attention and some 398 backers got me 180% over goal. Once I see what inflation-fueled printing and shipping will cost come December, I’ll know if there’s a profit to be made.

Crazy 8 Press at Shore Leave

I’m incredibly proud of the line-up of authors and artists, so I think people receiving copies will be pleased with the final results. I’m already being approached by people to contribute to the next one but first, we need to see how this plays out. As Deb points out, you add in the sweat equity of editing and campaigning, I am earning less than minimum wage.

I was bereft of ideas for my own contribution to the book until Peter David made a casual suggestion at Shore Leave, which led to some ideas swirling about, finally taking shape as house guest Kelli Fitzpatrick and I brainstormed one night. The story turned out pretty well—at least, that’s what she tells me.

I also wrote two essays for different projects. One is not yet announced but had me mining my childhood memories which was all sorts of fun. The other is for the just-announced The Man who Laughs, a series of critical essays about the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. It’s coming from Crazy 8 Press, co-edited by Lou Tambone and Rich Handley, and I will be joined by Jim Beard, Joseph F. Berenato, Paul Cornish, Brian Cronin, Keith DeCandido, Jo Duffy, LaMar Forte, Michael Jan Friedman, Alex Beowulf Galer, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, Tom K. Mason, David Pipgras, Duy Tano, and John Trumbull. Look for this around March.

Along the way, I wrote the usual assortment of ComicMix book and DVD reviews and did some work for C8, and the like.

I also forced myself to relax. First, there was our annual vacation, which we took with dear old friends of ours. We drove down Skyline Drive and through the Blue Ridge Mountains, winding up in Asheville, NC, where mutual friends had just relocated. We toured small towns, did some hiking, ate well, and had a pretty nice time overall.

Deb and I saw movies and plays, enjoyed our friends, and all that.

Predator: Eyes of the Demon, gestating since 2019, finally arrived this month so of course I had to stealthily sign copies in the store.

Most days I knocked off at 4 and with a cup of coffee, sat in the library and read. I read graphic novels, and comics, and eBooks, and print books, and it was glorious.

But, as July turned to August, my mind began thinking about the school year. This time around, I’ll be teaching Honors Intro to Literature, American Lit, and Honors Brit Lit, so I’ll have freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. The last time I taught Am Lit, I worked on revamping the curriculum but then didn’t get to teach it as the schedules shifted. So, I was faced with a new class pretty much from scratch. This meant mornings were spent revising Above the Ground 2 and afternoons were lesson planning (or lesson revising). I’ve gotten the first units for all three grades pretty much set and some work beyond, which means I’ll be starting off with a solid foundation.

All in all, it was a good, productive summer. Even restful at times.

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