Taking a Break from Patreon

After careful consideration, I’ve decided to pause my Patreon creator page.

I’ve been terrible about keeping up with the rewards I’ve promised those who pledge (hell, I’ve been terrible about posting to that page and maintaining it). Part of it’s the lack of pledges, but part of it has also been something I’ve always struggled with: stretching myself too thin, putting too many things on my plate.

Chances are, I’ll revamp my Patreon page and relaunch it in the near future. Or maybe I’ll abandon the platform entirely. I’m not sure what will ultimately be the right call for me, but for right now, it’s just a distraction from what I need to be focused on: actual writing.

I need to get back to writing and publishing material. I’m finding that all the marketing and networking and outreach and all that doesn’t mean jack diddly squat if I’m not also doing the one thing that got me here in the first place: writing.

The fifth Jill Andersen book desperately needs to be finished. I have a graphic novel that’s begging to be written and drawn. I have a spinoff series that I can’t move on until previously mentioned Jill Andersen book is finally out.

Patreon has helped me with exactly none of that.

So for now, no more Patreon. I’ll still pledge to the pages I pledge to, but for the time being, the (literally) two people who pledge don’t deserve to have their money taken by someone who’s not delivering on what he promised.

 

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.

Plotting vs. Pantsing (or Maybe Plotting *and* Pantsing?)

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been outlining of late.

Don’t tell the World Association of Pantsers. They’ll have me excommunicated. Or maybe they’ll throw a sheet over my head, toss me into the back of a van, and drive me to the set of Whose Line is it Anyway? and not let me leave until I successfully complete one of the hoedowns.

A little backstory… I’ve been trying to write Betrayed (Jill Andersen book 5) for almost two years now. I am now on the fifth (yes, you read that right) rewrite. I have not yet managed to complete a first draft. I’m not sure why; I feel like Betrayed has a strong story with a lot of action and intensity and some emotional beats I know are gonna really throw my readers for a loop.

But I keep getting stuck. So you know what they say about desperate times.

A few fellow writers recommended Libbie Hawker’s book Take Off Your Pants! Don’t let the title (or the cover rife with underwear) fool you; this is very much a how-to tailored toward showing pantsers a good, logical method of outlining.

As with almost every book about some aspect of writing, this is not gospel, and everyone’s mileage may vary. There are suggestions in this book I know I won’t be using, or if I do, I’ll use them in a different way from what Hawker suggested. But that’s the beauty of this craft we call writing: there’s no one right way to do it. Everyone has their own method, and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.

Still, one thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay — hell, even important — to not be so set in your ways. Especially if your ways aren’t working for whatever reason. I can’t tell you why Betrayed has been such a struggle, especially since my previous method had already netted me five published novels and a collection of short stories. But it did, and I had to adapt.

I won’t lie, outlining feels a little weird. But I can already tell it’s also going to help.

Betrayed will get written. It will get published. And then I’ll finally be able to move on to all these other projects I want to work on. And now that I have an outlining format that works for me, I’ll probably become more productive, and at least return to the days when I was publishing two books a year. Those days were better.

So check out Hawker’s book if you’d like.

But more than anything, don’t be afraid to examine your process and make changes if you feel stagnant. This entire process is fluid, it evolves, and you have to know when to evolve with it.

 

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.

New Charity Anthology Available

Exciting news to share!

No, the latest Jill Andersen novel isn’t out yet, but this does involve our favorite red-eyed,51-kFlT3QhL._SY346_ badge-flinging superhero. An anthology, titled Courage on Infinite Earths: Kaiju vs. Cancer, was recently released, and it includes a short story from yours truly in which Bounty faces off against her largest, strangest threat yet — an actual monster.

This non-canon story, titled, “Beyond Belief,” is a departure for Jill. First of all, she’s never faced off a threat that wasn’t human before. Also, I wrote this story in first-person, which I hardly ever do, and the result is hopefully a story that’s as much fun to read as it was to write.

Best of all? Courage on Infinite Earths supports a very good cause.

In a pocket dimension, a dark creature comprised of a living illness is sending pieces of itself across the multiverse. As the emissaries of this horror reach different versions of Earth they are spreading the disease they carry and causing the deaths of countless people. Heroes from countless dimensions are facing off against this threat as the vigilante Raptor travels from universe to universe gathering a coalition of warriors to battle the source of this scourge.

The greatest heroes from independent comics, novels, and YouTube come together to face this threat! Within the pages of this book, you will read both short stories and comics featuring Raptor (Matthew Dennion), Marshal Star (Dennis Roth and Declan Burke) Jeremy Walker (Zach Cole), The Whisper (Serene Dennion), Bounty (J.D. Cunegan), The References, The Work Force (Mark Dennion), The Strangers (Jean-Marc Lofficier), Caitlin Crow (Alan OW Barnes), Moonstalker, Centurion (Christofer Nigro), Cosmic Gorilla (John Opal), Sky Girl (Joe Sergi), Jake Cooper (Martin Tiller), Smash (Chris A. Bolton and Kyle Bolton), Airheart (Jay Taylor), Striven (Tom Warin), Lightweight (Nicholas Ahlhelm), Nagoraiar (Planet-G), Augustine and Bell (William T. Kearney), and Draco Azul (Andres Perez).

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the patients at St. Jude Children’s Cancer Research Hospital to fight the real life monster of childhood cancer.

Click here to pick up your copy of Courage on Infinite Earths now!

 

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.

About That Graphic Novel…

Some of you may remember that I said one of my 2019 goals was to produce a Bounty graphic novel. I thought I’d provide some insight into setting that goal and what I’m learning as I dabble into the world of creating comics.

Those of you who’ve been around a while know how much I love comics, and how that love is lifelong and originally sparked my creative streak. Even though I’m a published author, my love for superheroes and comic books is evident in my work. So doing a graphic novel just makes sense. Bounty started as a comic book character; writing and drawing a Bounty graphic novel returns her to her roots. It brings her home, so to speak. And it returns me to my roots. I started out wanting to create comics. So I’m creating a comic.

Now I realize how ambitious doing that this year is. Especially since I’m both writing and drawing it. Both steps are time-consuming on their own, but together? Especially since I’m learning a) how to draw again and b) how to tell a story in this medium. It’s not just drawing a bunch of pictures.

Were I at my peak as an artist, maybe this would be easier. But I like the challenge. I *need* the challenge. I haven’t grown bored with writing novels — far from it — but adding this challenge has actually given me a boost of creative energy. I’ve needed that.

I’m not abandoning novels. Far from it. This graphic novel is just me challenging myself, as a writer and artist. Pushing myself to set a goal and finish it, to encounter obstacles and overcome them. To prove to myself that I can take on a task and accomplish it.

Maybe this graphic novel doesn’t see the light of day until 2020. That would be okay — so long as I see this project through and finish it. As Chuck Wendig (and others) says, FINISH YOUR SHIT. I intend to do just that — but I’ll admit, this is hard.

I’m practically learning, as I go, an entirely new method of storytelling. How to tell a story with images as well as words. How the two work in concert with one another. There’s a method there, and there’s gonna be a ton of trial and error here. I’m okay with that.

(Come to think of it, this very process would make a great future Pixel Wretches podcast.)

I fully anticipate being occasionally frustrated to the point of wanting to stop. The point is getting myself to NOT stop, but to push forward and create in spite of that. Abandoning projects midway through is not how I’m gonna get better. Finishing my shit is.

So I’m pushing myself, challenging myself to return to my creative roots. To remind myself where my love for telling stories started, and to show up at a con one day with both my novels *and* a Bounty graphic novel on my table.

Maybe that’s 2019. Maybe it’s not.

I used to dream about being the next Jim Lee. Now I just wanna be the best J.D. Cunegan I can be. That means novels. And comics. And who knows what else is down the road for me. But if I don’t push myself, if I don’t test myself, how will I know what I’m capable of?

Four years ago, I pushed myself, and the result was my first novel. Bounty proved to me that I can complete a creative project and see it through and put it out there for the world to see.

Now I have five novels, a novella, a collection of short stories, and an an anthology credit to my name. And there are plenty more such stories coming in the next few years. That’s not nothing, and I keep having to remind myself of that, even when sales are… yeah.

But, and I think other creatives can relate, I want more. More stories to tell. More ways to tell them. More ways to push myself and flex my creative muscles. Make them grow. Make them better. Make *me* better. This graphic novel will do just that.

In a perfect world, Hampton Comicon in October would be the debut for the Bounty graphic novel. But if I have to push that back, so be it. This is a lengthy, involved process, and I’m going to make sure it’s worth every moment of it.

And I want you on the journey with me.

 

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.

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.

 

SNIPPET: Life at the Speed of Time

This is the first chapter of my short story, “Life at the Speed of Time,” which is featured in the anthology Cracks in the Tapestry, which was released last month. It’s the first Cracks in the Tapestry coveranthology I’ve been a part of, and this story was a lot of fun to write. Enjoy!

The steering wheel shaking in my hands is actually soothing.

It distracts me from the bead of sweat running down the right side of my face. It gives me a reprieve from the oppressive heat in the cockpit, a stifling one hundred and forty degrees according to a thermometer placed on my seat. The cooling unit attached to my helmet gave out back on lap 120, not ideal for a muggy day in central Florida. I can barely make out my crew chief or spotter when they talk into my ear, the roar of my engine drowning them out.

But all things considered, I’m having a good race. Daytona has never been my favorite race track; I don’t care for this style of racing. I’m surrounded by forty of my closest enemies, our beasts of speed inches apart as we barrel along the banking so fast we should be soaring into the air. This is all I’ve known my entire life, but even if I’m more comfortable at a half-mile bullring, this place is the pinnacle of stock car racing.

And I’ve led laps today. The car’s fast. But a bad pit stop thirty laps ago has me stuck in 30th. I have nowhere to run. I’m stuck in the middle of the pack, with cars on either side of me. If one of us sneezes, or someone gets an itchy arm, calamity is sure to follow.

The field barrels into the first turn. To the fans, we’re little more than a blur of color. But with my competitors going as fast as me, I can read every sponsor logo on their quarter panels. Freddy Bocelli, who wrecked me going for the win at Bristol last season, is to my outside. He has a new team this year, but the way his left front tire twitches tells me he still hasn’t learned how to hold a pretty wheel.

To my inside is Stan Gordon. No relation and not even half the talent of the Gordon you’ve actually heard of. He’s only in that car because he has a sponsor – his father’s chain of hardware stores.

Don’t get me started.

The banking gives way and we’re screaming down the backstretch. Only a concrete wall with energy-absorbing protection, a catchfence, and a row of billboards separate us from the airport behind the track.

Three wide middle. Three wide middle.

My spotter, Earl Webber. He’s probably staring at my car through binoculars from his perch above the press box on the frontstretch. I can only see but so much in this car: out the windshield and through my rearview mirror. Earl helps me navigate through trouble and tells me what’s going on around me. His information is paramount, especially here where the drivers can’t get away from each other.

Clear high!

As soon as the words leave Earl’s mouth, I jerk the steering wheel to the right. My momentum carries me past Stan, then I find myself passing two more cars. Finally, I’m getting somewhere. Earl’s in my ear again, but I’m not listening as the banking tilts me going into the third turn. Several rows ahead, I see a car jump out of line on the high side, making it three-wide.

No one goes with him, and he loses several positions.

Ten laps to go.

I curse under my breath. Ten laps?! I thought I had more time.

Clear low!

I turn left. The tires squeal in protest, but the car does what I need it to. Coming off the fourth turn, coming back to the start-finish line, I’ve picked up three more spots. I can feel the air propelling my car forward. I can’t see the air, but I can definitely feel it.

But I do see a car in the infield grass, on its roof and on fire. I blink and shake my head. The vision’s gone.

What the…?

I pass another car going into the first turn, but I have to jerk the wheel to the right when my rear tires lose traction. If I hadn’t caught it, I’d have wrecked at least five or six cars. That’s how close together we are. I catch my breath by the time we’re on the backstretch again; at this late stage, it feels like we’re taking forever to race along this two and a half-mile track.

The image of the burning car returns. But this time, I hear the crunch of warped sheet metal. Someone screams. The sky above is a ghastly mix of coal black and burnt orange.

But as I barrel into Turn 3, the image is gone.

“What the…?”

You okay in there, Randy?

Before I can answer Scott, my crew chief, Earl’s yelling in my ear.

The leaders are wrecking on the frontstretch!

Another scream startles me. I cry out and have to corral the car as it swerves back and forth. No one hits me, and I scrub off enough speed that I’m lingering hundreds of feet behind the pack. The scream returns, louder, and when I squeeze my eyes shut, the car on fire explodes. The driver was still inside.

I know because that’s when the screaming stops.

Randy! Randy?!

Other than Earl’s voice, everything is silent. My car comes to a complete stop by the entrance to pit road. My grip on the steering wheel is so tight my hands start to cramp.

Then I open my eyes.

Nearly half the field is wrecked in the curve along the frontstretch, torn sheet metal and roll cages strewn about the asphalt and infield grass. Safety vehicles have already begun approaching the carnage, and some of the drivers have exited their cars after lowering the black netting over the drivers-side window.

Most of the safety crews are heading for the infield grass. When I see why, my heart stops and my stomach drops. In the grass, there is a car, upside down and on fire. The red No. 54 car, piloted this season by hotshot rookie Chase Flanigan.

Randy, you alright?

I yank the cords from my helmet – both the cooling unit that no longer works and the radio. Gritting my teeth, my heartbeat far quicker than it had been when I was going 200 miles an hour, I pull off my helmet, and the neck restraint device attached to it, and head sock underneath. I dislodge the steering wheel from its column, tear down my window net. The six-point harness trapping me in my cocoon of a seat is the next to go before I pull myself out of the car and run toward the wreckage.

No one sees me. The safety crews and ambulances are too busy tending to the wrecked.

Stock car racing is as safe as it’s ever been. To the point where we sometimes foolishly think we’re invincible. Never mind the guy who at this track a couple years ago hit a concrete wall so hard he snapped both of his legs. Or the fact that our most beloved driver had to hang it up, in part, because of head injuries.

But no one’s died in almost twenty years, so…

The fire’s grown by the time I reach the grass. The car’s on-board extinguishing unit must have broken. I push my way through three safety workers, unable to shake the déjà vu. I gulp down air as fast as I can, willing myself not to drop to my knees and hurl. I’ll be sick later. Right now, I have to get Chase out of that car.

“Hey!”

I ignore the safety worker. Once I’m within feet of Chase’s car, the heat pushes back against me like a wall. I cringe and push through it as best I can, shielding my eyes from the brightness. The smoke is black as night pouring into the sky, and I drop to my knees by the passenger’s side. Peering into the window, I see Chase’s eyes wide as they can go through the visor of his helmet. He stares right at me, tugging on his belts. We’re always told to pull those belts a little bit tighter before the green flag waves; right now, Chase needs them to loosen.

Springing back to my feet, I run across to the driver’s side. One member of the safety crew grabs me by the shoulder. I shake him off and point at the fire. “Put that out!”

No… no no no no no!

Not even five minutes ago, I had seen this exact scene unfold. And the first time Chase screams, I freeze. It’s the exact sound I’d heard just moments before the wreck happened. I still don’t know how it started. I imagine TV will be playing the incident over and over again on a loop, and non-racing media will even pick up on it. Train wreck spectacle, nothing more.

But Chase needs to get out of the car before the worst happens.

Reaching in, I tug with all the strength I’ve got. But those belts won’t budge. Cursing under my breath, I turn my head to cough. The smoke is so bad my eyes are watering. I gag and nearly lose my lunch. But a deep breath keeps me from blowing chunks all over the rookie, and I reach in again with both hands.

Still, the belts won’t move.

“Help!” he screams.

Part of me wants to be sarcastic in return, but the kid’s freaked. As he should be. His car’s on fire and he’s stuck in it. The plume of smoke has grown to the point where the wind gust is carrying it into the grandstands. Fans are fleeing, covering their faces as they seek refuge. Some fans have stuck around, either to get photos or to see Chase emerge from the car.

But if I can’t those belts off…

Three safety workers grab me by the shoulders and pull me away.

“No!” I try to free myself, but a fourth worker joins the fray. “I have to help!”

“There’s nothing you can do!” one worker, his firesuit reading Jenkins, shouts. “The car’s gonna blow at any minute!”

I whirl around in anger. “So you’re just gonna leave him there?!”

Jenkins points, and over my shoulder, I see two men in fireman gear drop to their knees. One reaches in, and after what feels like an eternity, both he and the other fireman begin the process of extracting Chase from the vehicle. What’s left of the crowd roars in excitement when Chase’s head emerges from the window, but his shoulders get caught on the damn belts.

Those six-point harnesses are great when you’re in the car. In a situation like this… my stomach falls again.

The four crewmen who had pulled me from Chase’s car grab me and yank me back again. We retreat to pit road and leap over the wall separating the crews from their pit stalls, and I don’t know why. I trip over the wall and grunt, scraping my hands on the pavement. When I turn around to yell at the crewmen, I don’t see them. Because they ducked.

Then Chase’s car explodes.

He had only been halfway extracted. Both he and the two firemen trying to rescue him are engulfed in the fireball. Fans scream in horror. Fellow drivers fall to their knees on the track.

And I throw up all over a set of unused Goodyears.

 

Like what you read? Check out the rest by picking up your copy of Cracks in the Tapestry, available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions! The anthology also features work from Leslie Conzatti, Arthur David, C. Scott Davis, Benjamin D. Pegg, R. Eric Smith, and Lorna Woulfe.

 

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.