Ok, 2015 is drawing to a close. What a year! This year I kept track of every published article (and a book) I wrote, as well as the total running published word count. The year ended a little slow. I spent some time working on my next book, other projects, and took some time off for the holidays. I did write a second article for Scandinavian Traveler and a couple for Milwaukee Record.
41. “Off the Cuff: Angel Alvarez,” Shepherd Express, November 25
42. “Meet Katrina Markoff- Chicago’s luxury chocolate maker,” Scandinavian Traveler, Dec. 10
43. “4 Milwaukeeans Who Recently Scored Bit Parts On Popular TV Shows,” Milwaukee Record, Dec.9
44. “Last Octopus standing: Milwaukee keeps car wash chain from extinction ,” Milwaukee Record, Dec. 18
Final total 2015 word count: 124, 865 words.
Notes on 2015:
The reason I kept track of my work this year was just out of curiosity. How many published pieces do I write in a year? I had no idea. My guess was an average of one a week. With 44 published pieces in 2015, that estimate was somewhat close. The word count was almost 125,000, but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you write a single haiku or a 500,000 epic novel in a year, as long as you are putting your best work forward. I’m still learning what my best work is. It’s been interesting.
A lot of great highlights for me in 2015; My book Monster Hunters was published, I organized the first Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, I was a guest on Coast to Coast AM (along with a lot of other great radio and podcast programs), I made author appearances at paranormal cons, comic cons, libraries, and Ripon College, I sold my third book.
Writing is sometimes a struggle. You don’t know if anyone reads or cares about your writing. People sometimes say bad things about you and you wonder why you even bother. That makes recognition all the more rewarding.
Milwaukee Record included two articles I wrote for them (one on a music project called All Messed Up and another that was a photo essay collaboration with Wendy Schreier) in The 25 Best Milwaukee Record Stories of 2015.
In the post previous to this one, I also described what a great honor it was that my book Monster Hunters was selected by Loren Coleman of CryptoZoo News as the top pick in his Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015 list.
What’s up with 2016
I’ve got two major and two minor writing projects I’m working on in 2016. Outside of writing, I am also organizing a second Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Oct. 15-16, 2016, and hoping to help organize a Milwaukee Krampus Night on Dec. 5, 2016.
Major writing projects: I’m happy to say that my publisher, Chicago Review Press, has signed me up for a third non-fiction book. This has the working title The End and is about different predictions, preparations, and personalities relating to the end of the world as we know it. I also have a non-fiction book I am about 3/4ths done with that has a working title of Phantom Patriot, about an interesting person I met while working on my first book. My goal is to see some forward motion with it in 2016.
Minor projects: I want to self publish a mini-book/ e-book that is an expanded version of an article I wrote for the Riverwest Currents titled Riverwest Ghost Stories. It’ll premiere at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. I’m also casually working on my first novel, based on experiences from my young adult life. It might graduate from minor to major project in the future, but for now I’m just having fun writing random parts of the story for a couple hours every Sunday. I’ll post more info on this project here on the blog after I hit the 15,000 word mark. For now I will just say that the working title for the book is Brady Street Diner.
I have a couple other things in the works, too, I’ve been working on a comic book/ graphic novel with David Beyer Jr. titled Ballyhoo. We’re trying to figure out where to go with it and hopefully it gets forward traction soon. I’m also collaborating on a story with Tim Demeter and I think you’ll be hearing more about that soon.
Happy New Year!
(In Chronological Order) 1. The Pepper Spray Incident
Date: Oct. 9, 2011 Book and relevant chapter: Heroes in the Night, Chapter 13: “People Fighting and Superheroes and Pepper Spray and…I Don’t Know”
Oh boy. In 2011 I was starting to do a wrap on Heroes in the Night. I felt the book was lacking a good action sequence, and I sure did get that when I paid a visit to Real Life Superhero Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement. I joined Phoenix out on patrol for two nights. On the second night, we saw a fight break out in a parking lot underneath a freeway ramp. Phoenix broke it up by pepper spraying the combatants (Russians, it turned out) and all hell broke loose. In the terrifying 15 minutes or so that followed, Phoenix got hit over the head repeatedly with a high heel shoe, I was punched in the face by a pepper spray soaked Russian, an attempt was made to run us over with a SUV, and at one point I was certain the angry party was searching for a gun to shoot at us. The police showed up and placed Phoenix Jones under arrest and by the next day major news networks around the world had picked up on the story. As the squad car drove off with Phoenix Jones, I realized that my hands were shaking uncontrollably from the adrenaline overdose.
2. Bobby Mackey’s Music World Date: Sept. 22-23, 2013 Book and relevant chapter: Monster Hunters, Chapter 14: “The Case of the Haunted Honky-Tonk”
This episode has a lot of back story to it. First there is the lore of the place itself (Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky), which is long yarn to begin with. Like any good ghost story, I found the legend has been exaggerated and embellished over time, but some of the gruesome past is also based in fact. The next thing to consider is that the group I followed, the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, had already done an eventful investigation at the location. I don’t want to spoil too much of the chapter, but one group member had an eerie encounter I witnessed where she had some sort of paralysis or possession and apparently experienced some temporary blindness. Added to the other frightening experiences the group had and the creepy atmosphere in general, it made for a strange and scary night.
My second strange night while working on Monster Hunters happened while I was camping out with Jim Sherman of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) at a farm in central Michigan named “Isabella.” The couple who owned the farm had a number of weird experiences and had contacted BFRO. Jim had been out there to investigate and recorded some strange vocalizations. I wasn’t sure what to think. The last night of the trip I was scared out of my wits by a bloodcurdling screech outside of my tent. I slowly unzipped the tent door, certain I would be face-to-face with an aggressive Bigfoot. Later analysis of the screech (caught on Jim’s audio recorder) determined it was an angry coyote, but I didn’t know that at the time. To make the night even weirder, Jim and I observed an odd light bouncing around the night sky. What was it? I don’t know, but it was quite unlike anything I had seen before.
4. Crashing the Phantom Patriot’s ATV
Date: May 22, 2015 Book and relevant chapter: Yet to be titled future book
Wow, where to begin on this one. Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot is a Real Life Superhero, conspiracy theorist, former stuntman, felon, comic book artist, political protestor, and guerrilla filmmaker. I’ve been in contact with him for almost 5 years and have slowly been working on a book about his life and the people, sub-cultures, and conspiracy theories his life has intersected with. I knew I needed to get down to his home environment (Pahrump, Nevada) to get some material, so I recently went down to visit him. While I was there, he asked if I would act in a short superheroes vs. conspiracy film he was writing and directing. Sure, I said. One of the scenes called for me driving his ATV down a desert embankment, and although my first take went smoothly, on the second take I hit a rut and crashed the ATV. I thought for sure I had broken my leg and maybe fractured several other body parts, but after slowly moving around, I found I was still in one piece. That was pretty frightening, but hey, I lived to see another day, right?
I was honored to be a guest speaker at Ripon College (in Ripon, WI), a small town college near Fon Du Lac, and the place where Harrison Ford first took an acting class. Professor Marc Eaton teaches a “Sociology of the Paranormal” class there, and decided to take a few days discussing Real Life Superheroes in addition to ghosts, UFOs, ESP, and cryptozoology.
The class was assigned to read some chapters of my book, Heroes in the Night, and last Friday they were paid a visit by The Watchman, a RLSH and star of some of the selected material they read. I drove up this morning with Wendy and ran through my RLSH slideshow, talked briefly on my upcoming book Monster Hunters and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, and answered a few questions. No one fell asleep!
Afterward, I joined Marc and three students for coffee at the campus Starbucks and talked more on the book and one of the class assignments, which was creating a superhero persona.
This is the second time (that I know of) that Heroes in the Night has been part of class curriculum. Madeline Smith teaches a module class titled “Vigilante Nation: Vigilantism and Violence in American History and Culture” through the University of Hull in Yorkshire, England. The class featured reading an interview Smith conducted with me, as well as reading from the book for a section of the class on RLSH.
I certainly hope this continues and that more classes take time to read the book. If any teachers or administrators are interested, feel free to contact me!
Heroes in the Night is still available here:www.chicagoreviewpress.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php
You can pre-order Monster Hunters here: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php?page_id=21
2014 was a good but often challenging year for me. I feel I did a lot of things I have not yet seen the payoff for, but hopefully will in 2015. 2014 was a lot of work. Good things happened and I’m looking forward to the future.
I hit 2014 running, as it was around the halfway point of my deadline to my second non-fiction book, Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghosthunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (Out June 1. Links to: Goodreads, Amazon).
In a way, writing this one was easier, because I had an idea of what had to be accomplished to write a book. On the other hand, it was intimidating because I had a lot of work to do in a fairly short amount of time. In 2013 I traveled to Vermont, Maine, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Florida. In 2014 travel continued to Arizona (for the 23rd International UFO Congress), Illinois, Michigan, and I continued to join local group Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee on cases.
In addition to the field work, I did a lot of research, interviewing, revising and more revising. By summer 2014 I had been reading about paranormal stuff for a solid year, was hammering out the final draft, and losing my mind.
I turned over the manuscript to my publisher (Chicago Review Press) in September. It was a huge relief and the book is currently going through the design phase. I’m looking forward greatly to having a stack of the books on my desk in June!
In October, I also self published a little book called Palookaville (links to Goodreads, Amazon). It’s a short collection of zany poetry and illustrations I slowly amassed over a year or so for kicks. A small project, but a fun one. I saw someone reading it and laughing, that’s all the pay off I really needed on that one.
One project I’ve been really excited about is Ballyhoo. I wrote the script for this comic and illustrator David Beyer, Jr. has been working on the art. We’re envisioning either a graphic novel or a 6 issue mini-series. I’m glad to announce here that David has completely finished the art for what will be issue or chapter one. Our next step is to shop it to a publisher. Wish us luck! I also recently finished first draft of what will be issue/ chapter 2. You can follow our progress at the Ballyhoo blog (which will be updated with new art soon) here: ballyhoocomic.wordpress.com
Although I was hella busy with Monster Hunters and other projects, I did freelance a few articles over the year. Rather than list them all, I’ll just list my favorite ones.
“Riverwest’s Ghost District,” Riverwest Currents, October 2014
“Milwaukee’s Pinball Wizards,” Shepherd Express, May 21, 2014
“Cream City Cabaret Gets Its Footing,” Shepherd Express, Nov. 25, 2014 (The talented Wendy Jean took the photo for that one.)
“Calamity Janes and the Fratney Street Band End Their Fantastic First Act,” Shepherd Express, Sept. 24, 2014
“Real-Life Superheroes: Inside the Secret Subculture of Costumed Crime-Fighters,” Fortean Times, May 2014. Cover story! Included an excerpt from my book and additional material I wrote on the RLSH subculture.
“Pretty Fly for a Daredevil Guy: the Return of the Human Fly,” Pop Mythology, Jan. 5, 2014. A different version of this article also appeared in the July 2014 issue of Fortean Times.
I continued to do promotional appearances for my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement (Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook) throughout the year. I made guest appearances at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, MKE Comicbook Meetup, Translator, Minneapolis Comic Con, McMillin Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, Fantasticon, Milwaukee Zine Fest, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Chicago Ghost Con. I got to see a lot of familiar faces and meet some great new friends, too. Lots of fun.
I think the most major event of the year for me will be the release of Monster Hunters in June. To tie in I am planning a one day Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, which will be held June 6 at the Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center. Mark your calendar, it’s going to be a really fun day: milwaukeeparacon.wordpress.com
I also have a plethora of freelanced articles that I’ve finished or are currently working on that will be in print soon. I’ve got about seven articles I can think of off the top of my head that are happening between January and March. My New Year resolution is to blog here more often and post links to all articles I write throughout the year and also write more about upcoming events.
In 2015 I also have some other small projects I’m working on, there’s some brain-storming sessions to be had have, and I’m also pretty deep into what I think will be my third non-fiction book.
But that, my friends, is in the future. Happy New Year!
A month or two ago I exchanged messages with Leslie C. Lewis, a playwright from Denver, Colorado. She told me that she was writing a short play titled “Superheroes,” which is part of a line-up of short plays sharing a setting called “The Playground.” Lewis’s entry consists of a team of Real Life Superheroes, the “Dark Star Patrol,” having a post-patrol meeting in the early morning hours at the playground.
Lewis told me that reading my book Heroes in the Night was part of her play research and asked me a couple follow up questions while finishing the final draft. She also tells me she is working on an expanded, full length version of the play.
“The Playground” is produced by And Toto Too Theater Company and runs November 6-22 at The Laundry on Lawrence in Denver. More info here: www.leslieclewis.com/leslie-c-lewis-upcoming-events/
Below, check out these awesome pictures of the cast on the set with their personalized copies of Heroes in the Night!
Top row (L-R): RLSH characters Dr. Intelligent, Brave Fairy, Confucius
Bottom row: Omni, Zygote, Mantis
Heroes in the Night is available here: www.ipgbook.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php and wherever fine books are sold.
A big congrats to And Toto Too Theater Company. Break a leg!
This copy is signed by myself and 45 Real Life Superheroes. The signatures were collected by the author in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. The book was then sent with Razorhawk to San Diego to collect signatures at a mass meet up, HOPE.
All money raised from this auction will be donated to HOPE, an organization that distributes supplies to the homeless.
You can find more info on the book’s eBay auction page: www.ebay.com/itm/131289995764?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
Thanks for taking a look!
Hello, my friends, it has been awhile since I posted on my blog here. I’ve been extremely busy working on my next book, doing final interviews, transcribing, research, a million and one little details. It’s going well and I can kind of see the forest from the trees on this project now.
I have two events going on later this month that I’m real happy, real excited about.
First, I’ll be talking about Heroes in the Night at the next MKE Comic Book Meet-up, April 22. This is a cool group in Milwaukee that meets up on a regular basis to discuss comic books. The them for the next one is “Social Issues in Comics” and they kindly asked me to be part of it. The first part of the evening will be a discussion from 6:30-7:45pm about comics that have tackled social issues. People are encouraged to bring comics they’d like to talk about.
I will be talking about Heroes in the Night afterward from 7:45-9pm, particularly focusing on how the subject of the book (Real Life Superheroes) reflect their comic book counterparts. I’ll be showing some slides and I will have copies of the book available for a flat $16. This is going to be a fun time at Anodyne Coffee in Walker’s Point, a nice, casual environment.
Info: Tuesday, April 22, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., 224 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee 53204. Comic discussion 6:30-7:45pm, Presentation by Tea Krulos 7:45-9pm. Free, copies of Heroes in the Night available for $16.
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/292877017537427/
Next, how cool is this– I’ll be hosting a panel at this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2)!
The panel is titled “You Can be a ‘Real Life Superhero!'” I’ll be moderating special guests Razorhawk, the Watchman, Crusader Prime, Crimson Catalyst, and Night Vision. We will also have a couple surprise guests appearing via video message. I will be showing some slides and we will be talking about what this Real Life Superhero business is all about. We also will have a Q & A session with the audience. Hulk Hogan will be at C2E2, but I can’t speculate if he’ll show up for the panel.
This will take place Sunday, April 27 2:30-3:30pm Room S401ab. Afterwards, I will be signing copies of Heroes in the Night at the Chicago Review Press booth from 4-4:45pm.
Besides the panel members, several other RLSH will be attending the con and my inside sources tell me the assembled RLSH will be joining forces and patrolling Chicago, handing out supplies to homeless people as they go. Good work, my super friends, good work!
Info: The panel takes place at C2E2 (South Building at McCormick Place) Sunday, April 27 2:30-3:30pm, book signing follows 4-4:45pm at the Chicago Review Press booth.
Here is the panel listing on C2E2’s site: http://c2e214.mapyourshow.com/5_0/sessions/sessiondetails.cfm?ScheduledSessionID=18ADCB
Feb.-May 2013: I moved down to Arcadia, Florida. While there, I worked on what will now be a future book (maybe my third?) and did some freelancing for publications like The Guardian and M magazine. Things did not work out for me in Florida and I moved home to Milwaukee in May. I have no regrets. It was just another one of my hundred lives.
June 2013: Throughout the spring and summer I worked with my publisher on final edits of Heroes in the Night. They were pleased with the book and asked what I had in mind next. My initial idea was passed on (for now) but then I pitched the idea of doing a book that discussed the lives of paranormal investigators. They were into that idea, and the paperwork got signed in June. I immediately got to work. I made a connection with local group Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee (PIM) and have been hanging out with them as much as I can since.
July 2013: First travel for new book to Vermont for “Champ Camp,” hosted by Believe It Tour @ Lake Champlaign.
August 2013: Me and David Beyer, Jr. set up a blog for our comic book collaboration, Ballyhoo. I wrote the script (a fiction set in a circus in 1955) and David has been working on the art. Progress on this project has been slow as we are both busy dudes. But page by page it is happening and David’s art looks absolutely amazing. Hopefully Ballyhoo will be rolling out issue one in 2014.
September 2013: Second whirlwind trip took me to Point Pleasant, WV, Wilder, KY, Portland, ME (where I spent part of my birthday at one of my new favorite places on earth: the International Cryptozoology Museum) and Ochopee, FL (as well as a visit to Arcadia.)
October 2013: Oct. 1 was official release date for Heroes in the Night. How exciting! I had a great hometown reception at Boswell Book Company w/ after party at Stonefly Brewery. Good local press, including various bits in Shepherd Express, Onmilwaukee.com, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee mag, and The Onion’s local A.V. Club (R.I.P.) I also made in-store appearances in Chicago (Quimby’s), Madison (Westfield Comics), and Saint Paul (Common Good Books, with good attendance due in part to a feature in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.) Friends from around the country posted photos of them with the book at various bookstores around the country. Such a cool moment in my life.
November 2013: Tabled at Milwaukee Zine Fest with my friends David Beyer, Jr., Lance Orr, and Michelle from Skill Shot MKE zine. I had a zine of goofy poetry I wrote titled Palookaville. This is currently being expanded from 16 to 36 pages and will be available as a chapbook/ e-book in 2014. Also did an event at Barnes & Noble in Brookfield Square.
December 2013: Participated with Milwaukee Real Life Superheroes The Challengers at their annual Christmas charity toy drive.
I’m now at about the halfway point for my paranormal book. I have accomplished a lot on it, but there is still a lot of work to go to get to the June 2014 deadline. I will be doing another trip, to Arizona this time, in February and have some other small trips and interviews and a lot of final drafting to do. I also have a couple side projects, we’ll see what happens with those.
I could really use a team of unpaid interns right now!
After I turn this book in, I’m not quite sure what my main focus will turn to, but I’ve got a couple of ideas. I’ll be reworking some old ideas and trying some new ones, too.
A salute to 2013, and cheers to 2014!
Wow, what a month! I’ve really been burning the candle at both ends.
October 1 was the official release date of my book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement. It was a really proud day for me– I did it! I got a book out, you can find it at a lot of bookstores. It’s also available online here: http://www.ipgbook.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php?page_id=21
To promote the book, I did four bookstore appearances. I was at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago on 10/05. My big hometown appearance was 10/11 here at Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee. A lot of family and friends were there and we had a fun after party at Stonefly Brewery.
I appeared at Westfield Comics in Madison on 10/19 and Common Good Books in Saint Paul, MN on 10/20. All cool stuff. I was joined by people featured in my book at all stops, so I big thanks to Wraith, Citizen Prime, the Watchman, Geist, Razorhawk, Misery White, and Blue for joining me at Q and A sessions. It was really great to get out, see old friends, and meet new ones, too.
I haven’t seen exact figures, but the publisher tells me the book is doing good. I’ll be continuing to promote it with media appearances through the holidays (and beyond.) Next place I’ll be is here in town for Milwaukee Zine Fest Nov. 9 (website: http://milwaukeezinefest.org/2013/index.php) I’ll have copies of the book and a little zine of wacky poetry I did titled Palookaville.
I’ve also been working hard on my (as yet untitled) second book, which is about people who study the paranormal. I took a hectic trip east to do field work for the book, travelling to West Virginia, Kentucky, Maine, and Florida over a ten day stretch. I’ve been writing about some of this for Onmilwaukee.com. You can read about my Kentucky adventure here: http://onmilwaukee.com/myOMC/authors/onmilwaukeecomstaffwriters/milwghoststorybobbymackey.html
Last thing I wanted to mention is an article I wrote for Third Coast Daily about Arkham House, a little known but important Wisconsin publishing house. They published the first works by H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury, among others. I worked on it on and off for a long time, and it was well timed to appear just before my favorite holiday, Halloween.
Below is a picture included in the article of Arkham House founder and prolific Wisconsin writer August Derleth. Happy Halloween!
My book Heroes in the Night will be out in October. Meanwhile I’ve relaunched the book’s blog, which you can find here: http://www.heroesinthenight.blogspot.com
It’ll feature a weekly Hero Profile every Thursday and various news and updates about the book.