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My D&D character Blackheart

The other night, I saw artist friends Wendy Xu and Trungles posting sketches of their Dungeons and Dragons characters on Mastodon, and I couldn’t help wanting to play along. D&D was a huge part of my middle school years. I spent hundreds of hours working on characters, drawing maps, designing castles and ships and coats of arms, and even writing constitutions for my fictional worlds. All of that play and work absolutely helped prepare me for what I do every day as an adult writer.

So I crashed Wendy’s and Trungles’ party and drew my own, new D&D character. Meet Blackheart, a halfling berserker who needs a hug.


New webhost – testing, testing!

Just switched webhosts for and now I’m testing things out. Everybody seeing this?

All my Apple software problems

Glenn Fleishman recently posted a list of software problems he’s been encountering in his Macs. The post resonated with me — for about two or three years now, I’ve had the sense that problems with my Apple computers are constantly increasing. I’m not about to switch — I’ve been using Macs since 1985 and have gotten myself pretty locked into the ecosystem. I also essentially owe much of my career to Macs — the advent of cheap digital video editing with Final Cut Pro made it possible for me to make the majority of my shorts and my feature film “Robot Stories.” And the introduction of the iPad has enabled digital comic distribution to develop as an actual business that helps pay my rent. So yes, I’m grateful to and very appreciative of Apple products and generally very comfortable using them.

But that doesn’t mean everything shouldn’t work better. The company’s made a lot of hay over the idea that “It just works.” But increasingly, it doesn’t. So here’s my list of problems, and here’s to hoping the company’s paying attention and working on improvements.

  • The whole file system of iOS seems overly complicated. I understand the system isn’t built for my specific needs. But I want to be able to plug an iPad into a computer and see a hard drive pop up on the desktop that I can move files to and from. And I want to be able to access those files with any app that can read them on my iPad. Instead, I have to figure out how each separate app uploads files — and I have to upload the same file separately to different apps if I want to view it in different apps. This seems wasteful of both user time and space on the device.
  • The rollout of Final Cut Pro X and the lack of support for FCP 7 makes no sense to me as a pro user. I’ve stuck with FCP 7, like every other filmmaker I know because FCP 7 has all the features I need and because I have fifteen years of edited films that I CANNOT OPEN with FCP X. But I know eventually Apple will release an OS that I have to upgrade to in order to do my other work that isn’t compatible with FCP 7. And that’s going to be a terrible day. The writing is already on the wall — since upgrading to Yosemite, I can’t export from FCP 7 to QuickTime. I have to export via Compressor — which works, so at least there’s a workaround. But it’s a sign of things to come, and I don’t like it.
  • Apple hardware has become increasingly difficult to fix/upgrade at home. I was pretty easily able to upgrade many parts of my old Pismo or even my black Macbook back in the day. Much more difficult to do anything with any current hardware.
  • Searching in the Apple Mail program is a disaster. I admit — I have a HUGE number of emails in my program. But doesn’t everyone? For about a year now, using the search function to find anything in Mail frequently takes up to a minute. Since upgrading to Yosemite, it’s improved for me a bit. But it still can take many long seconds to complete a search. And sometimes it doesn’t complete the search ever — I have to clear out the search terms and try again to get a response.
  • I’ve had similar problems just using the Finder to search my computer. Searches used to be instantaneous. Now they can take a few seconds or what feels like a full minute.
  • Image Capture fails if I’ve kept it open and done other things between sets of scans. Upon returning to do a second set of scans, it typically loses its connection to the scanner and sometimes the entire computer has to be restarted for it to recognize it again.
  • For the first time ever, Preview started giving me trouble, taking forever to open and scroll through a document that was only 25 mb in size. This happened after I upgraded to Yosemite and after I’d been working with a pdf with fields you could fill in. I’ve finished what I needed to do with that document and haven’t had trouble again.
  • Every time I start up my computer, I get a message saying Text Expander wants to open up System Preferences so I can give it permission to work on my computer. I have already given Text Expander permission. But this dialogue box comes up anyway.
  • Mac Pro frequently doesn’t recognize USB drives it recognized moments before. The drive in question is a Lexar USB 3.0 drive.

I’ll update this post as I discover/remember additional problems.


If your desktop Mac’s internet connection is super slow for no reason…

… it might be because your iPhone is plugged in and “Personal Hotspot” is enabled.

I’ve been struggling with this one for a few days now — I have great broadband connection in my office but the internet on my desktop computer was super slow. Then I realized it was only happening when my iPhone was plugged in for charging. Most obviously, any site using Youtube wouldn’t fully load. Youtube itself wouldn’t load.

And then I realized I had “Personal Hotspot” activated on my iPhone. (I use the Personal Hotspot setting when out of the office to get an internet connection into my laptop — and sometimes forget to turn it off.)

I deactivated “Personal Hotspot” and internet speed on the desktop returned to normal.

Either the computer got confused with multiple choices for internet access and just bogged down. Or, stupidly, the computer was using the iPhone connection via USB rather than the much better office broadband connection.

Just sharing on the off chance it help someone else!

Tiny Details: If your WordPress auto-crossposting to Twitter isn’t working…

…it may be because you need to update Jetpack.

I’d actually forgotten how I’d set up crossposting, but it turns out I used the “Publicize” feature under Jetpack. Today crossposting didn’t work. I did some poking around and realized Jetpack had disabled itself and I needed to update it to get it back online.

So there ya go!

Working on my Artists Alley banner for the NYCC – please let me know what you think!

Hey, smart people. I’m working on a 24″ x 84″ upright banner to put behind my table in the Artists Alley at this year’s New York Comic-Con. And I could use your feedback! Here’s the work-in-progress. Imagine it in living color behind a bearded dude sitting at a table, and let me know what you think!

Many thanks!


Got non-spoiler-request questions? I’ll try to answer!

Fighting a cold and about to turn in. But if you have non-spoiler-request questions, I’ll try to answer.

As usual, I’ll just ask everyone to please not pitch projects or stories – I can’t read or respond to those!

Also, life is short, so rudeness, nastiness or personal attacks against anyone automatically get deleted.

Thanks a ton, and fire away!

Building characters

The great comics writer Gail Simone emailed me and a number of other writers yesterday asking if we had one pointer about building characters for a workshop she was about run in Norway. Here’s what I sent her:

I try hard, particularly when introducing a character for the first time, to find that one, small, telling action that defines the character for me. Sometimes it’s big and showy, like the Hulk tearing open his own starship in rage at the beginning of “Planet Hulk.” Sometimes it’s small, like Bruce Wayne just sitting there, quietly watching and waiting while Clark Kent yells at some kids who are bullying another kid in a playground at the beginning of “Batman/Superman.” But in some way that initial action encapsulates the big emotional journey the character’s going to be going on during the course of the story. From that very first moment, the character does something that defines him or her and indicates the conflicts and struggles that he or she will face as a result. Once I figure out this moment, I usually have a pretty good grasp on what I’m doing with a character. If I don’t really nail this moment, then I might be in trouble — I might not have done all the work I need to do to really figure out who this character is, what he or she is trying to do, and what he or she is willing to do to get there.

When I reread that this morning, I found myself nodding and committing to work harder to follow my own advice.

This is why your questions about the process of writing are so interesting and helpful to me — they force me to think about what I do and get better at it.

So thanks, Gail — and thanks, everyone who asks these kinds of questions!

Taking a break – ask me questions!

About to plunge into the night shift. But if you have questions, I’ll try to answer!

As usual, I’ll just ask everyone to avoid spoilers and to please not pitch projects or stories – I can’t read or respond to those!

Also, life is short, so rudeness, nastiness or personal attacks against anyone automatically get deleted.

Thanks a ton, and fire away!

Three quick plugs:

  1. This Wednesday, “Justice League 23.1: Darkseid,” written by me with art by Paulo Siqueira hits stores. The book should be of particular interest to anyone who’s reading “Batman/Superman.” Ask your retailer to hold a copy for you!
  2. Right now Comixology has a 99¢ sale of many of the Hercules books Fred Van Lente and I wrote for Marvel.
  3. If you give to Mrs. Stow’s Donorschoose 4th grade book fund campaign, I’ll send you “Code Monkey Save World” stickers.

Taking a quick break – got questions?

About to plunge into the night shift. But if you have questions, I’ll try to answer!

As usual, I’ll just ask everyone to avoid spoilers and to please not pitch projects or stories – I can’t read or respond to those!

Also, life is short, so rudeness, nastiness or personal attacks against anyone automatically get deleted.

Thanks a ton, and fire away!

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