M. Heitkemper

M. Heitkemper

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Inspirational Rejection

Someone asked me the other day, “Why did you change the name of your blog?”  The answer’s simple really, I just remembered why I started writing in the first place.  It’s just as the name of this blog implies, I write what I want!

In a recent interview, I mentioned a box that I keep in my closet that is full of rejection letters from publishers and agents that I’ve collected over my years of writing and submitting.  Yeah, there’s a lot of them.  That’s back before everything was done through email.  Fresh on my mind after the interview, I decided to pull that box out and have a look at a few of them for nostalgia sake.  Pretty much laying on top of the stack, was a letter I remember quite vividly.  It was a rejection letter from an agent (I’ll keep the name of the agent to myself) who simply replied: “Your books just aren’t mainstream enough, sorry.”  Now before you go assuming that I was submitting to the Jerry Maguire of Literary agents, I can assure you that I was thinking small back then.  I was a little nervous and overwhelmed with the idea of getting an agent in the first place.  This guy was a member of a smaller agency that represented a lot of what I’ll refer to as “rip-off” material of more popular books.  No disrespect to the authors that he represented by the way. 


I wasn't angry about the rejection, after all, it wasn't like it was my first.  In fact, of all the reasons in the world to reject one of my books, this was one of the most inspirational.  Yeah, you read that right, INSPIRATIONAL.  Why would I want to write something mainstream?  Why would I want to write about what everyone else is writing about?  I want to be different.  I want to write things that I know; things that gel well in my mind.  I get it, little boy witches and shimmery vampires is what people were paying for at the time, but when I started writing it really wasn’t about making a lot of money.  My great-grandmother was a writer, and she had assured me that there usually wasn’t much money in it from the start.  No, I was writing because I liked to.  I had an idea that flew into my head one day while I was walking out of a store, and I thought: damn, that would make a great book!  And so it was.  I grabbed a notebook and wrote every single page of it by hand in the next few months (didn’t have a computer at the time.)  I didn’t have a lot of time to write back then, but any chance that I could, I was scribbling away.  It was something I needed to do everyday, and I could do it very easily.  I may not have been the best writer, or any kind of writing prodigy of course, but I figured that I would improve with every word I wrote.  I think that I have.  

Maybe I'm just doing like they say; Something about making lemonade from lemons or what have you...  Anyway, it doesn't matter.  I was writing for me back then.  I was writing what I wanted to write, and I still do.  So don’t forget, I Write What I Want!  It doesn’t mean that you won’t like it, but if you do, chances are we have something in common.  See you next time!  Happy 4th everyone!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Freedom Fighter: Death By Allegiance

Okay, here it is at long last, the cover and the title to the next Freedom Fighter story arc:

FREEDOM FIGHTER:  Death By Allegiance



Cover artwork by the one and only AJ Fulcher who will also be tackling the pencils for the interiors.  Death By Allegiance will span three issues (5-7).  

After the events of issue #4, Freedom Fighter is confronted with more truth's stemming from the mysterious Fourth Quarter and it's original creators.  A new enemy is rising, (or rather, rising again) and the Freedom Fighter may not be able to defeat this enemy alone.  Unfortunately, because of recent events, Freedom Fighter can't seem to keep from pushing his friends and allies away.

Scripts are finished for this story, and we're shooting to complete the art before the end of 2017.  Check this place and the Freedom Fighter Facebook Page for more info as it comes available.  And don't forget to visit Insane Comics or ComiXology to catch up on the first four issues of Freedom Fighter!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ahhh, Submissions...

Ahh, there's nothing like the submission process!  You know, the one that you really look forward to as you're writing your amazing manuscript.  All the way up to those finishing edits, you can't wait to throw that baby out there to wow an editor.  Then for the next few weeks you check your inbox daily if not hourly, anticipating their reply of how much they loved your work.  But that doesn't always happen does it?  Actually, much more often than the preferred, rejection letters will fill the inbox.  But you know what?  That's okay with me.  I appreciate that they took the time to look at my work and respond to it.  And if they took the time to tell me specifically what they didn't like, or what I needed to work on, that's one hell of a gesture that I'm grateful for.  I don't expect everyone to like what I write.  Read the blog title, I write what I want.

You know what really bugs me though?  It's when the editor doesn't take the time to respond at all; not even with one of those cheap automated rejection letters that they've downloaded from somewhere on the internet.  They'd much rather throw your submission to the side and move on.  They don't even consider the idea that I'm sitting here wondering if the email even went through in the first place.  Or, maybe I sent it to the wrong person?  Did it get stuck in their spam folder?  There're are so many uncertainties.  Hence, a simple, "I got it, and it's not for me," would suffice.

Often the publishers will list directly in the submission guidelines that they only respond to manuscripts that they accept; I hate that!  I just have to say, I know you're busy, but what the hell?  Back before email, when the submission process was solely reliant on envelopes, stamps, and the guy in the mail truck, I could easily see that responding to every submission would be nearly impossible, and take far too much time.  Yes, back then, even if you included a SASE with your submission, I get it; an editor has more important things to do than fold, stuff and lick every envelope.  But now days, a simple click of the mouse and an automated rejection letter is on it's way to me.  It takes twenty seconds tops!  You can even set it up so that I can't reply back with a, "<Sob...> Why didn't you like it????"  Why is it that we as writers are not allowed this simple respect? It just seems flat out lazy to me.  Yes, you as an editor have a big job, but as a human being, how about a little common courtesy?

And don't get me started on "No Simultaneous Submissions" policies.  So, you don't want me to submit to other markets until I hear back from you first?  Oh, and lets not forget that you may not get back to me for several months if you get back to me at all.  Really?  I'm sorry, but I think that I have far better things to do with my time.  When I'm looking for a publisher and I run across either one of these policies in their submission guidelines that publisher is moved to the back burner.  There are other publishers out there that understand what personal attention means, even if it's just a simple gesture like clicking the mouse to say I didn't like your work.

I'm sure there're are some out there that will say I'm just throwing a fit because I was once again overlooked by a publisher.  That's fine.  There's nothing better to call this than a rant.  But if you're a writer, I find it hard to believe that you've not felt this same way at some point in your career.  Consider this: in this current world we live, most people respond in texts via their phone hundreds of times a day to the most absurd foolishness in real-time.  Is a simple reply too much to ask?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

INCONJUNCTION!

So, it's official, I've secured a booth in Creator's Alley at InConJunction Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention this year in Indianapolis.  The date is June 30- July 2.  I don't have a booth number as of yet, but I will update this space as soon as I do.  That way you can easily find Freedom Fighter and all the crazy stuff that I write.  Also I'm going to have a special sneak peak binder of what I'm working on next; guests will be able to flip through and give me some feedback.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Making Freedom Fighter: The Surprising Superhero With A Surprise Ending!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s been a long time coming, but the first full story arc of Freedom Fighter is now available for purchase!  With the release of Freedom Fighter #4 from Insane Comics last month, it’s all out there and ready for you to divulge!  If you’re one who hasn’t got a copy yet, here’s the link: Click Here


The task of getting Freedom Fighter onto the page has been a long and at times an uncertain one.  Not exactly sure, but best guess is eight years ago, AJ Fulcher and I met online and pretty much instantly, a friendship in making comics was born.  We were both novices (still consider myself so) and we knew just enough about the business of making comics to be dangerous.  Sadly, I don’t know how Freedom Fighter was truly conceived.  I remember we wanted to create a superhero book, and we wanted to build a history with the character.  I’ve always liked conspiracies, so wanting to do something along those lines clearly had something to do with Freedom Fighter’s creative birth.  At the time, AJ and I had both considered the book to just be a practice book; something to get our feet wet.  We figured we would break out with something much bigger in the future; but as we built our story and creative team, Freedom Fighter took on a life of his own.  When I finished the first drafts of the scripts I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out.  It tuned into something much more exciting and original than I had expected for a superhero story.  Weird, right?  Shortly afterwards, AJ finished the character designs; at that point it was clear that Freedom Fighter was more real than we had anticipated he would ever be.  He was there to stay.

Obviously, we thought that our book was going to be great at that point, but the big question was: Would we be able to convince anyone else that they should check it out?  Reality was sinking in, and we realized that an Indie Super Hero comic book was going to be a hard sell.  There are so many bigger mainstream options out there, there was no doubt our little practice book would be swallowed up.  But once again Freedom Fighter was destined to surprise us.  We submitted Freedom Fighter #1 to nine publishers at first (Three of which were bigger publishers that were most likely out of our meager reach).  About a month later, Freedom Fighter was picked up by Outpouring Comics.  AJ and I felt like we had made it.  We were going to be published comic book creators.  And just as amazing, Freedom Fighter was going to see print. 

A few more months passed and we were knee deep in promoting the release of Freedom Fighter #1!  It was an amazing feeling to have a printed copy of our character’s book in our hands.  And the feeling was only amplified by the fact that we had a team of people inside out publisher’s company that were supporting us and helping us push the book out there.  The whole experience was extremely satisfying.  But even with a great publisher helping us promote the book, AJ and I still didn’t know if we were making the impact we needed to.  I had promoted my books in the past to book sellers and readers on the internet, but selling a comic book felt like an entirely different animal.  But more on promoting later…

Outpouring Comics took our book to several shows in the course of our time with them.  In all honesty, I had low expectations of how the book would perform; I wanted to keep them that way in case of a massive failure.  But once again, Freedom Fighter pulled his surprising tricks.  Sales were great!  Better than great, the publisher informed us that Freedom Fighter was one of its top 3 sellers in print!  And to ice the cake, Freedom Fighter #1 held the number 3 spot on DriveThruComics.com for digital sales!  Talk about feeling on top of the world!  How was that for a surprise?!  Alas it’s true what they say:  The higher you are, the further you have to fall.

I wasn’t ready for what would happen next.  We were gearing up for the release of Freedom Fighter #2 which was less than a week away.  I’d scheduled appearances to a few cons in the near future, and ordered plenty of copies of Freedom Fighter #1 to stock up.  Out of nowhere, (No Warning Signs, Period!) I get a call from our publisher.  He explains to me that they are changing the direction of their company to publishing books of their own creations, rather than everyone else’s.  Long story short, Freedom Fighter, along with a handful of other books, would be dropped from their roster.  Yeah, that happened!

I felt betrayed, left out in the rain, screwed over.  There’re a lot of euphemisms that I could use to describe my feelings of the situation, but I think you get the point.  The question was, how was I going to handle it?  Certainly, cursing the publisher and going public wasn’t a great option; it wasn’t going to help my situation, it was only going to make us look like some unprofessional whining babies.  Perhaps we had grounds to sue, but for what?  The minimal cost of the books I had preordered?  The cost of my show passes?  Emotional distress?  Was a legal battle really going to be worth it?  No.  AJ and I decided that it was best to dust off our feet and move forward, and that’s exactly what we did.  But where would forward take us?

Re-submitting Freedom Fighter to other independent publishers seemed like a dead end to both of us.  It wasn’t long ago that we were realizing that an Indy Superhero book was tough sell, and on top of that, what publisher was going to pick up a book that had apparently been dropped by another publisher?  That being said, we sent out about a dozen more submissions for the hell of it.  In the meantime, AJ and I had decided that self-publishing Freedom Fighter was our best option.

For the next few weeks we worked on page formatting and placement building the print files for Freedom Fighter from scratch.  We worked out the numbers, and it appeared to be most profitable and suitable to publish the entire story as a graphic novel.  It wasn’t what we preferred, but it was what made the most sense.  After finally formatting the book to our liking, we sent the file to be proofed.  There was nothing more to do but wait.  It would take a few days before we heard back from the printer, even so, I checked my email daily hoping to find the final proof ready.  What I found instead was that Freedom Fighter had yet another surprise in store!

Opening my email one afternoon, I found that Insane Comics, a fairly new publisher that was making big waves in the industry, was interested in publishing Freedom Fighter.  After answering a few questions and a little back and forth through email, Freedom Fighter had found a new home!  Insane, right!?  And as it turns out, it was the perfect home.

We’ve now published Freedom Fighter #1 - #4 with Insane Comics.  I’ve attended two comic cons with the publisher, and have tables reserved at a few shows later this year to promote the book.  We’re also talking about putting together a Trade Paperback of the first story arc which will include a ton of extras!  More on that later…  But Freedom Fighter in TBP form will open several other sales platforms for the book which is nothing short of super!  And get this, later this year we’re expected to release Freedom Fighter #5!  That’s right, surprising us once again, this little indie superhero practice book has warranted a second story arc, at least!  Surprised?  I’m not anymore.  In fact, I think Freedom Fighter is going to be turning a lot more heads in the very near future.  Let’s see what else this little book that could has up its sleeves!

Read on…

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