What’s In The Box?!?

Well, envelope. Still, opening up this envelope is going to be pretty damn dramatic. Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman in “Seven” dramatic? Okay, no. Not Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman in “Seven” dramatic. But still…

I created a monster-themed coloring book with my artist buddy, Harold Torres. It’s an A to Z book with a fun Dr Seuss-y poem (by me) and a cool illustration (by Harold) for each letter of the alphabet.

Let’s open this sucker up and get our first look at my new coloring book, A is for All the Monsters We Can’t Stand!

Official unboxing of A is for All the Monsters We Can’t Stand

NO-GOOD, ROTTEN MONSTERS!

It’s alive! A is for All the Monsters We Can’t Stand is alive!

This monster-themed coloring book for grownups was an absolute blast to create. It’s a story/coloring book with a monster and a Dr. Seuss-y poem for each letter of the alphabet. The shtick is that it’s narrated by two ornery guys that run down a list of monsters that really grind their gears. I wrote the story and poems, and Minnesota-based artist Harold Torres did the illustrations.

The story behind the book is one of beer, inspiration, and 18 months of grueling work.

Back in… 2017? 2018? I don’t remember. Anywho, I was in Albert Lea, MN – a tiny little farm town in southern Minnesota – for a comic con. My table neighbor was an artist. The monsters and superheroes on his table were cool and all, but the guy that drew them was flippin’ great. Harold was an absolute blast to hang out with. Funny as all get out, a laugh that just went right through you and left you giggling like a tipsy dork, just all-around great.

Fast forward. No, scratch that. Rewind even further – farther? I don’t know – to back when my dad was alive. Wayne Burtness was… um… a bit of a grouch about a lot of things. After I wrote my first book, I told him my next book was going to be a book about him called, “A is for All the Things I Can’t Stand.” A grumpy old guy narrating an A to Z book, with a thing that bugged him for each letter.

I never wrote dad that book, but the idea stuck. Okay, NOW we can fast-forward.

It was February 2020. I was working a new job, one that had me traveling around the country.

Remember that?!? Traveling? Ah, those were the days…

So I ended up in Tulsa, OK. I found this weird little punk bar that had phenomenal beers on tap, live and very loud music, and hot dogs. I pulled out my phone and started googling monsters that started with the letter A…

And the book was on its way! I started whipping up little monster poems. All I needed was someone to illustrate it. I have a lot of talented artist friends, but the only person I thought of was Harold. I really liked his art. More importantly, I loved his sense of humor. So I reached out and pitched the project.

I should hit the pause button here and explain the “project.” I asked an artist to make 26 original illustrations FOR NO MONEY. Yup. I’m an asshole. Harold would have been perfectly justified to take those talented fingers, curl them into a fist, and send it straight for my nose. But he didn’t. He said hell yeah.

18 long months later – a year and a half during which the world went absolutely insane – Harold delivered the final monster (Z is for Zombies, if you’re curious). And he didn’t just deliver. He frickin’ nailed it.

I’m super excited about this book. It was a great lockdown project. I got to collaborate with a really fantastic guy. And now we get to share the culmination of that collaboration.

Sharpen those colored pencils. Uncap those markers. Crack the lid on that massive box of crayons…

And enjoy the hell out of A is for All the Monsters We Can’t Stand!

Available on Amazon

NEW BOOK ALERT

Yeah, you read that right!

✨NEW BOOK ALERT✨

Join curmudgeonly shapeshifter August Shade on his horoscope-soaked misadventures in my brand new paranormal comedy: An Oracle Walks into a Bar

RELEASE DATE: 9/3

Pre-order now for just $0.99! 🤯

This is the first book in a new series. Set in Minneapolis, MN, it follows a shapeshifting post-relationship personal effects repossession specialist as he tries his damndest to get your special whatever back from your ex after a messy breakup.

Some jobs are a piece of cake.

Some get a bit rough…

Some might result in the end of the world.

Grab a copy and dive into a world-next-door that’s full of oracles, werewolves, elves, trolls, warlocks, vampires, succubi, and more!

Where Oh Where Will I Be This Fall?

Morning, everyone!

I hope your week has been good so far. Not much to report here. Just trying to wrap up the new book and the coloring book. Both are still on track to be available early September!

I have a few more cons coming up. All are in the Twin Cities, MN area. If you want to meet me IN PERSON – OMG! OMG! *swoon* – stop by and say hi!

• Crypticon: Sept 10-12th
https://crypticonminneapolis.com/2021/

• MCBF FallCon: Sept 25th
https://www.midwestcomicbookfans.com

• Twin Cities Con: Oct 2nd
https://www.twincitiescon.com

With A Little Help From My Friends

Is that song stuck in your head now? Did I just give you a good, old-fashioned ear worm?

Welp, my work here is done!

Okay. That’s a first-rate fib. My work here isn’t done. Not even close. You see, my work today is to lift a few folks up a bit, because they recently did the same for me.

I’m in Tampa, FL, killing time before heading to the airport to fly home. There was a big comic book convention this past weekend, and I’d grabbed a table to introduce the fine folks in the Sunshine State to the splendor of the Midwest. The pandemic meant no cons in 2020, so I was really excited for this one. REALLY excited. I-just-bowled-300 excited. The-bartender-bought-my-beer excited. From what I’d read, it was going to be a big show. And guys- IT WAS! There were so many people! SO MANY! Tens of thousands.

And five of them bought a book from me.

Yeah, you read that right. I spent over $1000 to go to Florida, and spent twenty-five hours over three days inside a big room full of thousands upon thousands of people during a massive surge in the pandemic, to make less than $50.

*insert very sad womp-womp sound here*

As I sit in a diner this morning, drinking bitter coffee and typing this post, you’d be forgiven for thinking the coffee’s bitterness must be from my tears. You’d be wrong, though. I’m not sad. Not furious or irate or even a smidge annoyed.

I had a GREAT weekend. And why’s that?

I got by with a little help from my friends. So I’m gonna give them each a shoutout here as a way of saying thanks!

Amy

We’ll start with Amy, my table-neighbor. She’s a local artist, and was hella cool. You never know what your table-neighbor is going to be like, or what will happen as a result of meeting them (I’m side-eyeing you, Harold Torres 😉), so there’s always a little anxiety heading into a con. As my first bit’o’luck for the weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of being neighbors with Amy. She’s a fantastic artist – mainly watercolors – and does most of her work live on Twitch. Check out her work! You’ll be glad you did. On top of being a great artist, she’s a wonderful human being. If you end up with Amy as a con table-neighbor, you’ll have a great convention – guaranteed.

Ziggy

To build a little online buzz for my books, I ran a free Amazon KDP promo last week. The entire MWM trilogy was free! I had a decent number of downloads, and then I started seeing this Ziggy person on Twitter. They were liking my tweets, replying to my tweets, tagging me in tweets.

At this point, you may be wondering what the big whoop is. Oh Scott, you’re probably thinking, that’s what Twitter IS, you silly old kook.

Well, I KNOW that’s what Twitter is. I’m cheugy, not a noob. *sheesh* But the thing is, Ziggy was tweeting because he was reading my books, and apparently liking them. That was cool and all. I like it when people like my books, so I was happy enough… And then I actually read the reviews on Goodreads.

Ziggy’s reviews were funnier than my books! Any authors reading this will know what I’m talking about, but there are some reviews that just light up your day. Actually make you feel like maybe this whole writing thing wasn’t a colossal mistake. Like maybe, just maybe, you should keep going, keep creating, keep on keeping on.

As I watched thousands of people walk past my table and not stop, I realized I wasn’t peering up at them from the bottom of a pit of despair. I was looking down from Cloud 9 with a smile on my face. THAT’S what a review can do for an author, and that’s what Ziggy’s reviews did for me this weekend. So, thank you Ziggy! I’m so glad you had fun with Herb, Dallas, and Stanley, and really appreciate the reviews!

BTW – It looks like Ziggy is a voracious reader and has reviewed a lot of books on Goodreads. His reviews are thorough, honest, and yes – funny. If you’re looking for some new books to check out, I’d recommend perusing some of Ziggy’s reviews!

Martin

Where do I even start?!? Maybe with the Twitter #5amwritersclub (bonus shout out – Thanks, Shay Ray Stevens, for introducing me to that!).

In case you weren’t aware, there are crazy people in the world. Like, really crazy. Bonkers. Totally ’round the bend whackadoodles. These loony-toons wake up and write at 5am IN THE FLIPPIN’ MORNING! Damn near every day! And while they may be certifiably insane, they are great. Super supportive, always encouraging, cheering each other on as they guzzle their coffee and tea and make the words happen.

I’m kind-of a token member. Like, “Sure, just let that guy in because he’s harmless.” I don’t write at 5am in the morning, but I am usually awake before then. (yay insomnia). I love scrolling through the hashtagged tweets and adding my own bit of encouragement here and there. And sometimes, even if I’m not writing-writing, those 5am Twitter excursions get me thinking about my WIP. I’ve had some really fun ideas spring up because I was lying awake in bed at 5 in the morning and scrolling through tweets. Hey – don’t judge. Everyone has a process 😉

Anyway, there’s this guy Martin that is ALWAYS there. Every morning, 5am sharp, he’s pumping up the club. And this guy is a MACHINE. He wrote over ONE MILLION WORDS in 2020. And those words he wrote? They’re hilarious. He’s the author of The Tales of Weird Florida series (and a bunch of other stuff). You think Wisconsin’s got a monster problem? Head south until your feet get wet. Florida is full of monsters!

So this Martin guy… I tweet that I’m heading to Tampa, and he rolled out the red carpet. Not only did he swing by the con on Saturday, he actually invited me out for beers after. (Did I mention above that the #5amwritersclub peeps are not quite right in the head?). We had a fantastic time! By the end, I was convinced that me and Marty are like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito from the classic 1988 movie ‘Twins.’ I’ll let you decide who’s who in that particular comparison.

Martin is 100% quality. A truly awesome dude. He made me feel more than welcome in his town, and our outing turned what could’ve been a really rotten Saturday into a damn fine adventure. Follow him on Twitter and READ HIS BOOKS! If you liked Monsters in the Midwest, you’ll definitely enjoy The Tales of Weird Florida. I ripped through Book One, Dead Set in two days and loved it.

D.M. Guay

Which brings me to D.M. Guay. The radiant center of the beautiful mandala that was my weekend in Tampa. You see, it was D.M. (aka Denise, aka Awesome), that really made this weekend what it was.

That guy Ziggy I talked about earlier? He downloaded my books because of a recommendation from D.M. That guy Martin that I raved about above? He rolled out the red carpet because he learned I was a friend of D.M.’s. That woman Amy that makes beautiful art and was great to hang with during the con? Okay, she’s got nothing to do with D.M. Yet. But that’s the thing about Denise. I’m certain that Amy is going to connect with some awesome people in a totally serendipitous way. And when you look real close, you’ll find that D.M. will be right there. Building relationships. Bringing people together. Lifting people up so they can see a little more of this great big world we live in. She’s just that kind of person.

I honestly don’t know how I connected with D.M. on Twitter. I should – I know that I should – but I also stuck a paperclip in an outlet when I was little, so the memory ain’t quite what it should be these days. (Was it you, Erin? I’ll bet it was you. You know all the best people!) All I can say is that the more I get to know Denise, the more I’m glad I know Denise. She. Is. Amazing. And her books are, too! Oh my flipping god, are they good. The 24/7 Demon Mart series is brilliant. Like, don’t-wear-your-favorite-pants-while-reading-her-books-because-you’ll-pee-them brilliant.

So thank you, Denise, for drawing me into your galaxy and connecting me to some of the great people in your celestial sky. You made this con weekend an absolute blast.

Alright everyone! Sing it with me:

What would you do if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears, then I’ll sing you a song
I will try not to sing out of key, yeah

Oh, baby I get by with a little help from my friends
Try with a little help from my friends
I said, I’m gonna get high with a little help from my friends
Oh, yeah

Gonna get by with a little help from my friends

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends
Oh, I’m gonna get on by
Yes, I’m gonna get on by
Wanna take ’em all along
I wanna take ’em all along with me, yeah, yeah

New Stuff Coming Soon!

This fall is gonna be fun 🤩

I’ve been working on a couple of projects:

A is for All the Monsters We Can’t Stand is a coloring book for grownups. Story and poems by moi. Illustrations by Minneapolis-based artist, Harold Torres.

The Thirteenth Zodiac is the first book in my new The Shady Shifter series.

Both books should be available by early September.

Want to get signed copies? I’ll be at the following conventions:

Crypticon MN – Friday, September 10th – Sunday, September 12th

MCBF Fall Con – Saturday, September 25th

🎉🎉🎉


Apropos of Nothing

I’m sure you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to. Actually, I’m not so sure… but it’s nice to think that you’re losing sleep due to a nagging curiosity about me and just what in the heck I’ve been doing with my time.

If it helps, I’ve been wondering about you, too. Not in, like, a creepy way. Just, you know. Wondering.

Is it awkward now? Did I make it weird? Sorry about that.

*we’ll just give things a minute to get less weird. okay. all right. there we go*

So, what I’ve been up to:

I have a few plates spinning. The first book in a brand new series is done, and I’m looking for an agent. The second book in the series has been started, and I’m ~25k words into a first draft. For reference, my books are usually ~80-90k words, so I’m making good progress. I don’t have a deadline, but hope to have this first draft done before the end of the year.

What?!? It takes 9 months to make a baby. Why should writing a novel be any different?

That’s right. I DID just compare writing a paranormal comedy book to having a baby. Actually, I think having a baby is EASIER that writing a paranormal comedy book. The beginning of the baby-making process is FUN. Starting a new book? Not nearly as fun. And sure – pushing that newborn into the world hurts. You know what else hurts? Having an editor take an ax to your final draft and then ask you for rewrites. Ouch. Pregnant women get to eat whatever they want, and no one says a thing. A writer starts putting away gallons of ice cream and economy-sized jars of pickles, and people start whispering about whether or not they’re “okay” or maybe need to “get some help.”

Wow. Got really off-topic, there. Sorry.

Okay. Back to what I’ve been up to. So there’s the first book, and the second book… Oh! Right! My picture book for adults! I teamed up with local artist Harold Torres to create a fun/funny monster book for grownups. Should have some teasers to share in a few weeks. The book itself will be done before September.

Besides that? It’s been a good spring. Got vaccinated. Been out and about. Dinner. Drinks. Walking the dog. Gonna check out Door County, Wisconsin in a few weeks, see some nature. I’ve taken the hammock on the deck for a few spins. It works great. So all in all, life’s pretty good.

And I HAVE been wondering about you, too. Drop a comment, let me know how you’ve been, what’s new, what you’re reading, what you’re watching. Anything you want to talk about, really. I’m here for you.

I’m here.

For you.