It’s an old photo of John Malkovich that makes him look really smoking.

I have never considered John Malkovich in my pantheon of hunky male dreamboat actors, but it turns out that he ended up being relatively hunky in his early years after all, if this photo is any evidence.

Is it something about the combination of black-and-white and a suit, or was he actually just a good-looking dude back thirty-plus years ago? It’s hard to tell. But what I do know is this guy right here looks like he’s about to star in a neo-noir film about a dystopian future where the world is controlled by alien invaders who are mining the planet for precious resources, but John’s just a private eye trying to make it through the week on booze and cigarettes.

Also, he kinda looks like Ben Stiller. Weird.

The Eve of Cybermancer

Yes, as the title suggests, the eve of the Cybermancer is upon us. I mean, it’s more like five eves away if you really want to get technical, but in the spiritual sense, we are just moments away from the start of the new ATL story arc, Trials of the Cybermancer! Whoo-hoo!

I want to bring this up to talk about how the writing process here has been a little tough when it comes to Cybermancer, and how its evolution over time has marked my change in approach when it comes to the entire series as a whole.

You probably didn’t know this and couldn’t have even conceived of this before, but way back in the beginning, before ATL was even the title of the story, I had actually planned on writing it as a single novel divided into several short stories and multi-chapter novelettes that told independent, but connected stories all like one “season” of television. I was thinking something around 50-60 chapters, a 300ish page novel in paperback, and introducing the whole world and all its characters with some decent sequel hooks. The first story was going to be a 15-20 chapter-long Social Media Killer and that would take up about a third of the entire novel while also telling the most important story for the rest of the bunch to work. Back then, the story that would become Trials of the Cybermancer! was called “Four Dollars,” a silly filler arc intentionally designed to be a comedown from the larger-scale first story that works mostly to develop the world.

And then… well, the scope got bigger. ATL turned into a web serial instead of a novel, and stuff got more detailed. You know how it is; it was probably inevitable that it would happen anyway. So what was once a one-chapter filler story is now Trials of the Cybermancer!, which you’ll be seeing on your computer screen real soon.

As time passes and my idea of the story shifts, I really like reflecting on what ATL used to look like to me versus what it looks like now. It’s sometimes really funny to think of what has changed and what hasn’t!

For reference, here were the titles of the stories that were supposed to make up the novel that would become ATL:

  1. The Social Media Killer
  2. Four Dollars
  3. Embed
  4. Fascination
  5. The New Knights
  6. An Election and a Duel

Maybe you’ll see some of these titles come up again in the future, or maybe they’ll all fall into obscurity, never to resurface except in this blog post. Still, it’s nice to think about what might have been in a slightly-altered timeline.

Just don’t forget– Trials of the Cybermancer! starts on January 29th! It won’t just be a silly filler arc, I promise!

Here We Go

I’m ready to make some crazy money, so… I’m starting a blog.

As you know (you were probably linked from there), I’m currently writing the serial web novel ATL: Stories from the Retrofuture, which has just last week finished its first novel-sized story arc, The Social Media Killer. In the gap between then and Morgan’s next adventure, I thought I’d start a full-fledged blog wherein I will ramble on about various topics and muse on whatever comes to mind. There will probably be 2020 Presidential Election commentary, fair warning. I’ll also talk about my own writing process fairly regularly, especially as I get further into writing ATL.

There might have some more writing news to share in the near future, but… we’ll have to wait and see for that one. There are things to be excited about. That is all you should know.

I’ve lived in Japan for about a month and a half now and gotten settled into the frigid snow of Touhoku, but it was only last week that I started my actual job of being an Assistant Language Teacher at five different elementary schools each week. I’m not very good yet. But I do find it conspicuous that The Social Media Killer happened to end on the exact same day that I started working… It seems too thematically fitting to be a real-life event, this whole “one book closes and another opens” deal, and I am wondering if I didn’t accidentally get trapped in a romance novel that’s still in its first act. I hope I accidentally got trapped in a romance novel that’s still in its first act.

So I ask to commenters on this first blog post, a discussion question: How do you stay warm while also saving money? What’s your preference? Sound off in the comments section. Personally I’m a fan of reading steamy romance novels about English teachers stuck in a small, snowy seaside town. Really warms up your heart.