24.03.2017

Next week I start work on my first comic book in quite a long while. It’ll have new strips written by Richard Barr and John Robbins, maybe a few other people in the mix, we’ll see. It’ll debut at Enniskillen Comics Fest May 6th. I’m sharing a table with Sector 13, the local 2000 A.D. group, who also have a comic/zine out, including a flash-fic from me if I can.

The research on THAT novel is completed. THAT novel is THAT IS SO DEAR I want to land it at a large publisher. Aware that sales of Axel America were so hard, I’m bracing myself not to break down over THAT novel. I have a wonderful buffer in mind and big news on Andy-Luke.com to share in a few weeks.

Speaking of Axel America: keen readers of the novel found scenes where Axel on-air gave two tinyurl hyperlinks and passwords. Now one of these bonus features isn’t accessible so I’ve decided to just direct link them.

The Infothon: Secret Callers
Extended draft of the beginning of Chapter 16: Into the Madness
https://andy-luke.com/the-infothon-secret-callers/
Password: callers

Chapter 23.5: The Initiation
Unseen deleted chapter, set after ‘Axel-Bot 2’ and before ‘Secrets behind the Curtain of the Cabal’.
https://andy-luke.com/easter-egg-the-initiation/
password: initiation

They’re also now linked to on the novel blog page if you want to find them later.

Axel America’s Day Off

Took yesterday off, with my niece, well the family; my niece did most of the talking. We ran around IKEA as secret agents – she does a wicked Bond villain impersonation on swivel chairs; I showed her Absence: a comic about epilepsy; we discussed ideologies of the left – she’s ten but remarkably astute; and she showed me Minecraft, which we used to map out some details of my next novel. Remarkably effective, and for where I’m at, quite liberating. Also half-day off. Mother and I liberated two pot plants from the reduced to clear Bargain Corner, somewhere plants should not be.

Axel America and the U.S. Election Race is up for pre-order on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. I’m not sure if the print-on-demand is up yet but it certainly will be within the week. It’s up on Neilsens registry and NI Libraries have mailed to confirm they’re taking copies. I’ve a few boxes of prints arriving later this week. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to reviewers, which is a bit challenging, though some big names TBA have stepped up to that. I’ll be featuring in Spotlight in the always excellent Writing Magazine, and on Sunday I’ll be recording with Downbelow: A Babylon 5 Intro-Cast, talking about Neil Gaiman’s Day of the Dead.

I’ve ditched a small SE England signing tour in favour of a virtual Election tour of podcasters and bloggers; low funds and mental/phys. stress really could put me at risk of seizure. Podcast spots will be more fun than chain-smoking at bus stations, and for play’s sake, Axel America won’t have to be The Sole Focus. If you’d like to have me on a show, or interview for a piece, I’m email-able at drewdotlukeatgmail.

This site now has an Axel America page where I’ll be linking to any podcasts or blogspots on the Election Tour. There’s some advance sheets up there, along with posters and bookmark designs mainly for the oohs and coos. Andrew at AG Publishings wants me to mention that we have a bookmark choice competition. Four signed print editions mailed anywhere, drawn from social media shares.

bookmark board

• Design A – ‘The All American’. A juxtaposition of the US flag, Liberty and NWO, plus names of cast.
• Design B – ‘The Losing Horse’. This is the boring one. We expect this one to lose. Promotes the illusion of choice.
• Design C – ‘The Broken American Dream’. The publisher’s favourite.
• Design D – ‘The Cover Homage’. Could be a winner this one. Parchment paper background, stencil of cover, red,white,blue.
• Design E – ‘The Controversial One’. We don’t want this one to win, but it might. We can’t control everything. Unlike the US election.

Make sure we can put your name on the list by tagging #AxelAmerica or RT-ing one of the posts at @andrewluke or @AGPublishings

Axel Live: Writing & Editing Diary

This week I’ve been working with Andrew Gallagher on his 2nd draft/my 7th draft of Axel America. Yes, novels are usually worked through with proofers and publishers and done six months or more prior to publishing. In this case, I didn’t begin talking with AG Publishings until two months ago. It’s not as if it can be put off either – the story of Axel America takes place between April and October of this year, and a release any later kind of robs it of some of it’s power. You’ll see. We’re in the very unusual position of altering the story up to one month before publication. I think the novel is more functional because of this error of mine and it’s a guilty pleasure too, where I’m able to include in references to current events. It’s also a double-edged sword. Mick Falk is a character obsessed with the European conspiracy, and with the Referendum gone the way it has, I’m currently re-writing Falk’s character in the second half. The second draft is gruelling. Positively stress-inducing aargh, because I’m letting go, delivering the bloody baby. The third draft will be a final check for typos, punctuations etc., should be a dawdle.

So that’s why I’m still writing about editing, when other writers had all this done moons ago.

The advance information sheets are just waiting for clearance, but the promotionals have begun.  I’ve been writing tweets for @TheAxelAmerica and @TruthLive_TV to coincide with the annual Bohemian Grove festivities which start today.

If you’ve been by @andrewluke on Twitter, you’ll see I ran a ’60 Great Small Press’ list of comics that have touched me. These are being collected on John Freeman’s Down The Tubes, and the first part went up a few days ago. 

The novel, Brexit, and the Aran Islands holiday

Work carries on with ‘Axel America’. Unfortunately the previous copy editor didn’t work out, but on the plus side, it’s being done in-house at AG Publishings. Andrew Gallagher is such a joy to work with: thoroughly professional and a big fan of the book, his support fills me with confidence that we’re going to shift some copies when the novel is released two months from now. As it’s set >now< (now being just after Chapter 7), last minute re-writes are required under Brexit, but we’re getting there.

It’s been a lot of work, and so I took a long weekend away. I did consider asking social media for an update on post EU Ref / Brexit, all the political developments of my week away, but on second thoughts, I’d really much rather have an update on my friends and know they’re coping and surviving it. Westminster politicians aren’t far enough down my caring list, yet they carry on trying to make out this ever-shifting landscape is completely about themselves.

The weekend away began in Galway, and a reunion with Emmett Taylor, cartoonist behind Dope Fiends, and several Dublin Comic Cons. Emmett was one of the first comics creators I worked with, and it’s been fourteen years since we saw one another. Here’s us in a famous Salthill pub enjoying the craic.

IMG_20160701_002207

Sarah and I set off the following morning for Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands.

IMG_20160701_202801
IMG_20160701_214913
IMG_20160701_215354

I’d fun meeting the locals, including John, a talented muso seen here playing the bars.

IMG_20160702_120827

IMG_20160702_165619

John and other musicians regularly hang out at this island cafe run by Roland and Angela, who make a mean morning smack-me-up brew.

Our B & B, Ard Mhuiris came as part of the Aran Islands ferry package, worth finding. A homely little place near the harbour run by Cait, who came over as very sweet, attentive and likeable. No pictures snapped but for this rather unusual 3d picture on the wall, which resembles both a horse and the face of a strange old man.

IMG_20160702_200358

Oh, right, you liked the ones with fields and sea…

IMG_20160702_151115

There’s no barriers or handrails up there. Beautiful? My legs were like jelly. Dun Aonghas is 300 foot cliffs.

IMG_20160702_145915

The fort from another angle. The Burren, the stone-field in foreground, is all over the island.

IMG_20160702_145128

The road to Dun Ducathair (The Black Fort), includes twenty minutes of walking on stones.

IMG_20160703_140346

Right, I have to get back to work now. I’ll leave you with a photo with less stones in it.

IMG_20160702_141701

Blogging Axel America: Me and A Publisher

The week of the 16th May began with a meeting with Pieter Bell, an affable bar-fly of Belfast stores which stock comics. At the Enniskillen event under much lager, Piet had unmasked himself as an editorial bod and was keen to try out proofing the MS. Also from Enniskillen, an interview lining up with Andrew Gallagher for May 22nd. Initially, for guidance, but I couldn’t resist asking the purveyor of well composed sensationalist literature in neat smooth bound form would be interested in publishing Axel America. So, I push on with re-drafting. The daunting, dull task was tidying up the timeline which was a major challenge. I marked cut-off dates in the chapter listing and altered the temperature on a few details. Plot seeds and plants of different growths were uprooted and re-flowered and all other relevant small gardening metaphors. I shared the document link with Andrew and with Pieter on Wednesday, two more days to go.

Not in my notes was the fact a minor character disappeared from the final third of the book. He wasn’t essential to the plot but his character, like Axel, calls out for attention. Again, back to the chapter listing and marking up where he should be seen and what he’d be doing there. One final speed read over I see another characters doesn’t have traction to action demanded. Eventually, more spell and grammar, format and punctuation, (damn those commas wriggling into prohibited areas,) finally its done. 46k.

THe meet with Andrew Gallagher got off bumpy with my epileptic absences flaring up. On the plus side, Andrew is now a big fan of Absence: a comic about epilepsy. He dealt with it as a gent and both of us were so revved with lists of questions for one another that we made short work of the time. Andrew guided me through the process of publishing as he saw it, reeling out figures and processes with nary a glance at his laptop. A very productive day. I’d highly recommend would be authors to hire Andrew for a consultation. Having done a fair bit of self-publishing already I was able to bring enough to the table to compliment and enhance what Andrew has on offer.

So, I’m pleased to announce AG Publishings will be putting out Axel America, on September 5th.

And here’s a copy of Sean Duffield‘s mock up of the cover:

Axel America Finished Rough_Hi_Res_600dpi

Pretty cool eh? He’s been sending me bits and pieces of the finished version and it looks ace!

Axel is a patriot with questions. Torn between two loves: his family, and his one-man media crusade, news won’t be the only thing that’s breaking. Axel seeks to regain the love of his children and to cover the Presidential race. However the satanic forces he’s been warning about all his life come out from the shadows and are determined to pull him in.

25/05/2016: Joyful deadlines: Blogging Axel America

Axel America is set around the November 8th U.S. elections, so I’ve plenty of reason for getting it out there soon.

Some authors disparage deadlines and writing for the market. Underneath those there’s structure, definition. In the emotional storm times, those can be something to cling to, a way forward. Late April, early May, the time between drafts, took a lot out of me; demanded time to recover. Time I’d set aside for scratching my arse and watching Babylon 5 repeats was replaced with great mourning and celebrating. When I was ready to go back to work, there was plenty, but thankfully I had lots of plans.

Richard wasn’t keen on a show-down in Chapter 4, between Axel and his foe Morgan Rump. “It comes out of nowhere,” he said, and he was right. I printed out the chapter list and decided a re-shuffle was in order. My solution was to bring forward Chapter 5 re-establishing Rump as a threat, but as Chapter 3, thus better establishing him in the rising action. Chapter 1 is an ensemble piece, but doesn’t focus on Axel. (A surprise, as Axel dominates every scene he’s in.) I was loathe to create a new Chapter 2 and alter the opening act structure, being as how I’m at third re-draft but starting out from the vaguest scenario, Axel in studio, I got building, centralising his own world of chaos, and complimenting the new arrangement. The new Chapter 4 also benefited from an extra few pages settling the reader into a more casual read. The original chapter 3 was also set-up, but got pushed back, which is alright as its non-essential, except for being a real peach.

Above: Sean Duffield’s thumbnails for the characters on the cover

My redraft.txt detailed three vital sub-plots I’d identified as not getting their due. Re-reading the MS, I made notes on the chapter listing where they’d been mentioned, and where they could be grown and expanded on. Then, I wrote those in, and noted that I had. Then I discovered spelling mistakes. And more spelling mistakes. The whole document, infected with them! A look under the hood revealed my version of Open Office was not playing ball. Everything got exported to Word. Spells and grimoire re-working took much less time than expected; two days. I think this must be the easiest re-write I’ve done for the reason detailed notes were kept, the sort a scrutinising editor or proofer might hand me. It always seemed another job had to be done, but I knew what the job was. I ran across new tasks on the way there. In one chapter I’d scrupulously pinned down location details. When I put the address in, I realised the text could be made so much better by capitalising on why I’d chosen that location above others, and so strengthened the atmosphere. Spell and grammar checks on new lines and paragraphs, the document by now edging towards 43k.

By now, its May 16th and Sean had sent through the finished rough cover which looks incredible. I’m talking with Enniskillen author Andrew Gallagher about the route to publication on his own books. I met Andrew at the Enniskillen Comic Fest selling his fictions, ‘Escape from Fermanagh’ and ‘Fermanagh Exorcism.’ Both are published out of his own house, AG Publishings. The books are well formatted and clean, the stories are easy-read riveters, horror hoots. We talk about my visiting him for a chat to see if he can’t talk me through the process, which frankly I’ve not had a handle on since carting ten supermarket trolleys of Absence to the post office. There should have been a photo of that. Self-publishing is all fun and games until somebody loses control of a cart on a kerb. Thankfully Andrew has an iron grip and a peer talk will help steer me right. Enough puns. I’ll leave it there for now and update again in a few days.

20/04/2016: Blogging Axel America

Written back in April…

I’ve just laid down a chapter of Axel America, the final one, and wanted to share with you some thoughts and experiences on process. The novel’s an adaptation of my 2011-2012 comic book Hold the Phones, It’s Alex Jones. The comics were written through a series of story sessions with my best friend and longtime collaborator, Richard Barr and along the way attracted other co-conspirators: Benjamin Stone; Adam Lively; Geoffrey Wessel and Sean Duffield. We produced the comic over two ‘seasons’, and collected them behind a madly wonderful cover by Richard. Bleeding Cool covered the digital launch. That same night, Adam and I were drinking when we learned Jones had gone ballistic on Piers Morgan’s show. A Google image search for Alex Jones led with Richard’s cover for hours, and our main ebook seller, Myebook registered 15,000 previews. Sadly I later learned they were going through bankruptcy and we got nada cash. Further suckiness? Our collected comic just got too expensive to produce. (Though, the Kablam version looks great.)

Fast forward a few years. I’m writing prose shorts, about thirty to date, and gearing up for a book. I’ve a special one in mind, a favourite child if you will, but I wondered if it might be possible to ressurect Hold the Phones and put those stories out quickly as a novella. Well, there’s no such thing as a quick novella. Not a good one. I missed my own deadline by three months, but it’s happening. Richard was happy enough to let me run with what builds around the Co-Opted story he wrote, and which Adam drew. It’s about Alex nee Axel’s manipulation by a news network’s chosen Presidential candidate, and Axel’s children on the run. Adaptation can get pretty dull without new material so I crafted a Season 3 of stories that linked it all together, and introduced new characters. Axel insisted on seeing real enemies everywhere, so to give him a break and me a story, I should created a few. My own epic from the collection, ‘Global Agenda 2012,’ didn’t fit the feel of the novel, but I knew I wanted to include his fellow conspiracy theorists. Pretty soon they went from two chapter supporting characters to part of an ensemble.

Re-drafting: I’m quite happy to admit I’m good at this, but it’s laborious. In this case, it’s been the most fun I’ve had writing anything. I’ve laughed uproariously at my own jokes again and again and that’s not a bad sign. I made good time on the second novel draft, each chapter contained simply in a .txt. file. Richard saw about a third of the .doc and was keenly enthusiastic and critical. Fingers crossed, there’s a few back-lines to plant and a character to re-name as noted in my re-draft.txt. Also, two extra scenes to write because the piece needs them and Richard wants another go round, so we’re breaking those later in the week. Of the other authors from Hold the Phones, I could only bring back Sean Duffield (working on the cover), but there’s a strong sense the spirit of collaboration had something to do with how well this has turned out. Concerns? Getting it out before the November U.S. election; making a decision on publishing – once your first book is out, certain doors are closed. Overall? No disposable quickie, this book affirms why I chose to be an author. As a reader to another, you’ll love it.

Andy Luke, 20/04/2016

Gosh, that was only a month ago. I’m surprised how hard I’ve been working on it since then, and where it is now. I hope I can put out another of these this week. I’ve got news!