Listen to Me on the Pixel Wretches Podcast

32372874_10155518469998581_5987555298229878784_nI recently appeared on an episode of the new Pixel Wretches podcast with host (and fellow Hampton Roads-based indie author Otto Linke). It was a great time; we spent just over an hour talking about my creative journey, some of my influences, my writing process, and my love for superheroes and comic books. I hope it’s as insightful and entertaining to listen to as it was fun to record.

Click here to listen! Pixel Wretches is also available on iTunes and Overcast.

I will definitely be on Pixel Wretches again. In the meantime, check out Linke’s work as well. He writes some sci-fi and some fantasy, and I’m currently reading one of his sci-fi books in Dyson’s Angel.

About Pixel Wretches
An interview series focusing on digital creatives, Pixel Wretches is the show you’ve been looking for to learn all the gritty details of laboring in the digital space mines. Artists, writers, musicians, and more sit down with Otto for a  conversation about what drives them to create and the tools they use to create their products.

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads, and you can also become a Patron.

 

Mark Your Calendars: LEGENDS OF THE GEM is Coming!

Legends of the Gem is almost here. Two weeks.Legends of the Gem Final (2)

Tuesday, Jan. 15, to be exact.

That’s right — Legends of the Gem, a collection of short stories expanding on the Gem of Notna and the universe established in the novel Notna, is just two weeks from being released.

Even better? Pre-orders are now live for the ebook!

Millions of years ago, the Gem of Notna was created. A race renowned for its peace birthed the ultimate weapon—and it paid the ultimate price.

Eons have passed. The gem found its way to Earth, leaving a path of bloodshed and destruction in its wake. From ancient Greece to the Vatican through the Civil War to more recent events that saw the gem tucked away in a little-known tomb in the Amazon, there is no shortage of legends related to the Gem of Notna.

Building on the mythology established in NotnaLegends of the Gem takes readers on a journey through time, both in and out of this world. After all, the Gem of Notna has plenty of stories to tell… if you live long enough to hear them.

Here are the stories you’ll find in this volume:

  • Legend, the First: Lagos, Narazniya’s brightest scholar and mystical mind, is tasked with creating the Gem of Notna, but nothing goes as planned.
  • Legend, the Second: Ares, Head Elder of Narazniya, faces the reality of what he wrought, what his obsession did to the people he rules.
  • Legend, the Third: Divine warriors Michael and Damien fight off an Underworld invasion, only to discover an ulterior motive. Michael’s new obsession leads to his downfall.
  • Legend, the Fourth: A young girl named Vita finds herself in the middle of ancient Greek politics, whether she wants to be or not.
  • Legend, the Fifth: A young man named Pious III, who once would’ve been Pope, is on the run from the Vatican. His journal chronicles his descent into madness.
  • Legend, the Sixth: Union soldier Ferdinand Jackson is fighting in Gettysburg, but the Confederacy is the least of his worries.
  • Legend, the Seventh: Cian Kotzias pens his thesis on the Gem of Notna during his studies at Aristotle of Thessaloniki.
  • Legend, the Eighth: A secret task force discovers the Gem of Notna’s power, and a mysterious entity decides the crystal is better off out of humanity’s grasp.

Go ahead and reserve your copy today for just $1.99 — in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple iBooks! Paperback edition will be available on release day.

And if you haven’t already, snag a copy of Notna as well.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads, and you can also become a Patron.

The ACTUAL Most Wonderful Time of Year

Don’t let Big Christmas (TM) tell you different: November is the most wonderful time of year for us writers.

Why?

National Novel Writing Month, of course.

National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo (or for those of us with really lazy fingers, simply NaNo) — is a challenge: write 50,000 words in 30 days. Is it insane? Maddening? Pull-out-your-hair frustrating? Absolutely. But it’s also a blast, a great way to establish the habit of writing daily — and if you’re really fortunate, NaNo will let you lay the foundation for a future published work.

Don’t believe me? Well, Bounty was my 2014 NaNo project. In 2015, I used NaNo to write Behind the Badge. In 2016, Notna was my 50,000-words-in-30-days bright idea.

Last year, I used NaNo to write Betrayed.

This year? I’m going to use NaNo to… write Betrayed. Again.

Betrayed has not been kind to me.

Not that you have to write something worth publication for NaNoWriMo. All you have to do is write. For you math majors, 50,000 words in 30 days amounts to about 1,667 words a day. Doable, so long as you avoid such things as writer’s block and real life.

But let me dispel a myth: we do not crank out our 50K and then hit “Publish” on Dec. 1. That’s not what NaNo is, that’s not what NaNo is about — and anyone who does do that has no idea what being a published author truly entails. NaNo is less about the finished product and more about doing away with the excuses and the road blocks and write.

In fact, most of us who reach the 50,000-word mark — who “win” — still have story to tell.

Even if you don’t reach the 50,000-word goal, simply getting in the habit of putting words on the page, of letting yourself tell your story, is intensely gratifying. Even if November only yields 20,000 words, just think: that’s 20,000 more words than you had at the beginning of the month.

Which, ultimately, is the whole point.

You can learn more about NaNoWriMo here. If you’re taking part this year, and you’re on the lookout for writing buddies, feel free to add me. I’m on there under my pen name.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads, and you can also become a Patron.

LEGENDS OF THE GEM Update

So… how is everyone?Legends of the Gem Final (2)

As it turns out, due to circumstances — both related to writing and not — Legends of the Gem will not make its project Oct. 31 release. I hate that I won’t make that release date, but I cannot put together a story worthy of publication and have it truly polished and vetted in time for the original release.

As of now, I hope to have it out in late November instead, but for the time being, I’m not gonna set an actual date (because we see how well that worked the first time).

I’m sorry to delay this release, but it wouldn’t be fair to you guys — or myself — to rush this thing out for the sake of meeting a deadline. And honestly, this is one of the benefits of being self-published; if I need more time (and I need more time — and maybe some scotch), I can take it.

So please bear with me as I put the finishing touches on Legends of the Gem — and in the meantime, you can pre-order the fantasy anthology Cracks in the Tapestry, which will be out on Oct. 21.

Oh, and you can use this time to finish reading Notna. Trust me, you’ll want to.

Again, apologies for the delay, and thank you as always for your support.

PS: I don’t drink scotch.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads, and you can also become a Patron.

Why Superheroes?

While I love a great many different types of stories, the superhero genre has always had a certain appeal to me. After all, I never considered being a writer until I discovered comic books — X-Men, to be exact — and even today, the superhero genre is one in which I proudly plant my flag.Batwoman_(52_11)

Granted, the term “superhero” can have a pretty broad definition. Most will agree the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Daredevil are superheroes. But is Batman? Is Spawn? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The Punisher?

Superheroes are all the rage today, what with the near-ubiquitous nature of superhero films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically, is largely responsible for the mainstream popularity of the genre. And I think the reason superheroes speak to so many is because they represent a reality in which there’s some semblance of control.

Let’s face it: things are really scary in the world these days. And there isn’t anything the vast majority of us can do about any of it. What can I, just a 36-year-old dude, do about international corruption and espionage? What can I do about school shootings? About the hate that has seemingly run rampant everywhere?

For the most part… not much.

Superheroes leave us feeling less helpless in the face of such horrors. Want the wicked wiped off the face of the Earth? There’s the Punisher. Want to believe it’s possible to exact justice on evildoers in the aftermath of personal tragedy? Maybe Batman’s more your speed.

Bounty-Small

Artist: Kendall Goode (@kendallgoode on Twitter)

Serve your country in spite of not being what one might consider the ideal soldier? Captain America. Want to serve your country and community, even after it’s cast you aside because of who you are? Batwoman. Some mystical ring decides you’re worthy of protecting… oh, you know… space?! Green Lantern.

Superheroes tap into that deep-rooted desire. They show us a reality in which the big scary things can be defeated. They give us hope that the individual can make a difference on the world at large, even when reality continues to slap us in the face and tell us no.

That philosophy guides me every time I sit down to write one of Jill Andersen’s stories. She took up the mantle of Bounty because of her desire to do right by her hometown, her need to serve beyond what she can do with a badge on her hip. Early in her law enforcement career, Jill saw that being a cop only accomplished so much. If she wanted to do more, she had to become more.

Most of us can’t become more. So we turn to stories of those who can.

It’s not about the superpowers or the costumes. Not really. Stripped of the flash and the bright colors and the larger-than-life villains many of them face, superheroes reflect everything we wish we could be — both individually and as a society. We’ll never leap tall buildings in a single bound, and we’ll never lead the wicked in handcuffs to Arkham. But so long as we have heroes who can and do, maybe the world isn’t quite as hopeless as it seems.

Then again… the powers and costumes are pretty kickass, huh?

 

Bounty has been nominated for a TopShelf magazine Indie Book Award!

Official SealIt’s a big deal for my debut novel to even be nominated — and there are plenty of perks therein — but if by some stroke of luck I actually win, then there’s no end to the awesomeness that would ensue. Mostly I’m just jacked that someone thought enough of my work to nominate it. That’s pretty damn cool.

Anyway, check it out!

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Check out Cunegan’s work here.

A Female Doctor: Perspective from a Non-Whovian

Geek confession: I am not a Whovian.

I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who. Haven’t even wanted to, really.

The premise seemed weird. I didn’t get it. Steven Moffat was a thing.

Mostly the last one.

But now there’s news that the next Doctor — the 13th — will be a woman. After 12 straight white dudes, Whovians will finally see a woman — Jodie Whittaker, to be exact — emerge from the TARDIS.

That’s a big deal, no two ways about it. And to be perfectly frank, I’m now interested enough in Doctor Who as a property that I might give the show a try once the new Doctor starts. What some would call novelty, I call opportunity.

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love female protagonists; for the most part, I prefer them to their male counterparts. Part of it is, historically, the latter was all we had. For so many decades, the white male hero has been so prevalent in genre fiction that he was ubiquitous.

Even with the deviations from that norm of late, the white male hero still outnumbers all of the other gender and racial identities multiple times over — so keep that in mind the next time some “true fan” gets all whiny on social media about how PC culture and the SJWs are ruining genre fiction.

I don’t need stories that affirm my life experiences anymore. I want stories that push me, make me think and feel in different ways. Protagonists that aren’t the “default” (read: white and male) do that in ways the “default” never can. I’ve been so well represented in genre fiction in my almost 36 years on this planet that I’m… kinda over it.

When I first created Bounty, back in the late 1990s, I did so because I didn’t see a ton of comic books at the time starring female leads. There were plenty of female superheroes, but most of them, from what I could tell, were part of ensemble casts. Other than Wonder Woman and Witchblade, I didn’t see many solo female-led books.

So I decided to change that.

I don’t need to be represented anymore. But there are so many who do, and I want to devour their stories. That means greater diversity in character — but also in writer, in creator, in director.

A female Doctor has so many possibilities. Imagine how much more plentiful those possibilities are if the writing team and those directing each episode are also more diverse.

Diversity is not a dirty word. It is a necessity when it comes to understanding the complicated, ever-changing world in which we live. If a British TV show about a time-traveling alien with two hearts can now contribute to that, then I say all the better.

 

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