Workbook 10 | July: Time for Crime

This is a #workbook update on #ruckology by Brandon L. Rucker in which he reports on the productivity and counter-productivity of his author/musician life.

Not a whole lot to report in this working update because I’ve been busy living (more on that in tomorrow’s The Evening Muse). Let’s get right to it.


Project: CrimeTime (with artist Joshua S. Hooten) – Nearing the end of preliminary work and beginning actually scripting this week so that Joshua can start producing actual pages this coming weekend. The plan is to compose a breakdown of the plot Sunday, and then actually script out the page-by-page plot beginning Monday. That is what I will present to Joshua as his guide from which to illustrate his story pages, a method known as the “Marvel Method” which was pioneered by the great and legendary Stan Lee as a necessary means of expedience because at the time in the 50s and 60s he was the editor-in-chief as well as the head writer, charged with the task of providing multiple scripts in short order to multiple working freelance artists who needed the work in order to maintain a steady income. Of course I only WISH I could be in that same situation with a cadre of artists clamoring for the opportunity to illustrate my stories. Dream on.

Alas, I’m using this method, in lieu of the “full script” method (which does panel-by-panel directions) for a couple of reasons. One: I want a more flexible means of composing the dialogue that a full script does not really allow. Two: in the spirit of ultimate collaboration, I want to give Joshua plenty of creative space with which to compose his pages. This is our baby, and if I am the father of it, then that means he is its mother, doing the heavy lifting and giving graphic, physical birth to it. This project does not become a fully formed comic book or graphic novel without his creativity, talent, skill and workman’s effort.

And now I present to you his most recent piece of digital art, even though it has nothing to do with our project. But who doesn’t like Conan the Barbarian?

JSH Conan - b&w JSH Conan - color

Says Joshua:

“Bro…. I cannot wait to have a story to start drawing. I don’t even know who this dude behind the stylus is anymore.”

See why I’ve cleared my calendar?


Since finally partnering up with my best friend and creative partner this summer to work on creating comics, prose is very much on the backburner while I focus on the comic. However, since I’m not writing in full-script format I will be able to keep my prose faculties somewhat in working condition as I use them to a certain extent in plot-style scriptwriting.

Whenever I do get to refocus my efforts on prose I will look to finish updating and completely revising the short story “All Things Considered” which has been begging to become a novella, at the very least. It could be that great mainstream American novel given its subject matter and themes, but I’m still probably not quite the author to pull that particular feat off just yet.

I’d really like to get to “The Monster Under the Bed” short horror story this Halloween season. It’s a creepy tale I conceived on my birthday last year that I should have written last October after I wrote up the synopsis.

Other than that, the novel series that’s codenamed Project: Blood-Borne still waits (im)patiently for me to return to it with umwaverimg commitment and a final decision on whether it’s going to be young adult, new adult or just general adult fiction. I’m pretty sure no other would-be novelist overthinks that kind of thing, right?


So my rock band Neglect the Alarm (more affectionately known as NTA) finally reconvened for practice this past week, after three months of inactivity. Hopefully we’re getting back into a groove of regular practices with the intent of expanding our roster of songs. We have a goal of achieving a total of a dozen completed songs by the end of the year. We’ve pretty much solidified Song #7, which we began before our break. And I think I may have the workings for what would become completed Song #8 with the three riffs I put together on Saturday.

Also, we absolutely must put the finishing touches on our 5-song demo EP that we recorded in December. Aside from the one and only show we played back in January, no one else on a public level has had the pleasure of hearing our music. That’s a damn shame.

Journalizing / Blogging / Archiving

So a few changes are afoot around here at #Ruckology. In July I fired off three Thinkbooks, my weekly download of brain juice leakage logs. Beginning this month I’ll be adding more new series. So coming real soon: Artbook, MusicBox and ComicsBox. A little later I may have Photobook, Tunebook, and Quotebook. They will all be self-evident once they’re up and going. Just keep an eye on the menu to the left to help ya with navigating this crazy blogsite. Tomorrow brings a new Evening Muse in which I gripe about the writer’s plight.

And that should wrap this up. I have a busy, busy August ahead so I expect to be broadcasting a rather robust Workbook edition in some thirty days as I get more hardcore into the business of writing and rocking.

Be good my people.


Workbook 9 | June: Criminal Intent

The end of June flowed nicely into a holiday weekend, so with that now out of the way, I can take a quick moment to reflect on the previous month’s productivity. Spoiler alert: not a whole lot accomplished.

The main takeaway from June is right now I am, again, all about crime (and suspense) fiction. I suppose I’ve always been about suspense since I first started writing more than two decades ago, inspired by the suspense (and horror) novels I’d borrowed from my mother as a young man. Usually with suspense fiction a criminal element is often present. In the mid-to-late 90s as a neophyte writer still fairly new to reading prose fiction regularly, I started to seek out straight crime fiction. That meant the stuff that wasn’t considered mystery fiction (they try to trick you, understand). Of course a mystery element is natural in crime and suspense fiction, even horor, but I quickly came to realize the stuff that was overtly mystery fiction simply did not scratch the itch I had for the seedier aspects of crime.

Enter the literary criminal works of Frank Miller, Mickey Spillane and Elmore Leonard, not to mention films like Scarface, Colors, New Jack City, GoodFellas, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Donnie Brasco, just to name a few from my A-list and you see it’s easy to stay inspired. A couple of recent trips to the local library has me stocking up on crime-leaning entertainment.

IMG_0653I’m not quite sure what the allure of seedier types of fiction like crime is for me. I do know one thing that I really like in dramatic storytelling is the situation of good people having almost no choice (and in some cases no choice at all) in having to do bad things to right a wrong, or to restore a sense of order amid the chaos.White merging with black to blur into gray. Tests of character and all that, I suppose. Coming out of it somehow unscathed, yet changed in some way, hopefully for the better (but not always). No better place to find that than in crime fiction.

Also, as a writer of hopefully successful, serious fiction with dramatic intent, you absolutely must put your protagonist through hell. After all, if genre fiction is about ordinary people put in extraordinary circumstances, then it’s gotta work that way.

At any rate, I’ve rambled enough. Here’s a brief work report.


Codename – Project: Crime Time – is actually a series of crime comics projects I’m doing with my best friend and collaborating artist Joshua S. Hooten. Back in May it looked like we were going to do something in the supernatural realm of things, be it crime-related or straight up horror. By June we came to realize that what we’re really itching to hit first – and what’s probably best for a first endeavor at this – would be a straight up crime story. This weekend we’re going to have a little creative summit where we’ll hammer out the finer details of the characters and the plot, probably over plates of food and multiple glasses of any given beverage.

So with that graphic novel project underway in development, a number of other comics projects previously mentioned are naturally on the backburner. The aforementioned codenames for them are: Project: Mr. Macabre and Project: Unsettled. And add to that a previously not mentioned one, let’s call it Project: RK, is also a story to be told graphically with Hooten (or another artist) later down the road.


On the prose side of things, progress is still a slow crawl. I am contemplating a breezy crime novel, which like the first comics project, should probably be the truly first novel completed. Project: Blood-Borne (novel series) could probably write itself if I’d simply trust myself to pull it off, but it would also require zero distractions and that’s just not possible at this point. Project: Micro-Mondays (writing exercise) is still a desire, but likely wouldn’t be able to commence until Fall/Winter, would be my guess.


Sporadic like always, and as usual a lot of my daily scribing goes into my Facebook groups. So Comic Book Fetish (comics commentary blog) suffers the most from that. The all-new Ruckerpedia (personal fiction archive), who knows when I’ll launch that damn thing. You’d think since I purchased the premium theme that I’d have more incentive. However, I’ve once again reconfigured and renamed this blog (the one you’re reading now). If I know me, I can’t say with any certainty that Ruckology will stick permanently, but with the former name Ruckerpedia affixed elsewhere, I like its chances. I’m going to try to post here at the very least on a weekly basis along with these monthly working updates. May try to squeeze in an additional post during the week, and maybe share stuff from other folks’ output in the spirit of community, advocacy and support.


20519-backcover2528smaller2529Neglect the Alarm activity has been nonexistent in June, so nothing to report there. If in a month there’s still nothing to report then I fear there may never again be anything to report. We’ll see. On a solo musical front, I am seriously thinking about remixing some songs from the demo album I released in the Fall of 2009, as well as finishing some of the many unfinished acoustic songs that are meant to be part of a follow up album. Recording/studio equipment must be replaced first. More details on this should come in a separate post in the future. Because the details of that endeavor and the process is a rather complex thing.

Okay, time to close this out as I’ve rambled long enough. The next update will probably come on August 1st. Until then, make sure you keep at it so you’re not a slacker like me.

Workbook 8 | May: Gentleman, Restart Your Engine

Ahhh . . . May! Probably my favorite month of the year for a few reasons: one, the residue of Winter isfully shaken off and Spring finally in full swing; two, usually great weather (tho we didn’t get it until later in the month this time), and the NBA Playoffs enter the more competitive second and third rounds. You can usually count on the temperatures not being too extreme either way with lots of sun and blue in the sky, sometimes with those big fluffy pillow-y clouds. Regular readers here know the weather plays a bigger role on my general disposition than I’d like, ideally. Last month’s Workbook made that painfully clear. As I write this monthly update on this fine Memorial Day morning, we’re in our second straight day of mostly blue sky and 80+ degree temperature. I foresee a cookout on my horizon (this is posting after said cookout).

For May there’s more actual activity than April to report. It still wasn’t as productive as advertised or desired, but in the spirit of the Indy 500, the engine is revved up and purring nicely. Since it has been a month of renewal of sorts, there’s actually a few new projects to announce.

As usual since I’m cagey with actual titles of unfinished, unpublished works, the “project” names are just place-holding codenames or working titles. Previously published items have actual titles.

Writing – Prose

All Things Considered (short story) – For the past couple of weeks I’ve been giving this one a spit-polish shining, and I’m nearing the final stretch of that. Originally written in 1998 and finally published in 2010, my intention has been to re-publish it on Smashwords, where it once was as well, but in an inferior state (incidentally the same state it was in the The Cedar Chest anthology), but I also want to feature it on the still forthcoming Ruckerpedia magazine site that I’ve been slacking on launching (more on that later). While I’ve been re-reading and refining the prose in this old story, it occurred to me that even as one of my longest ever short stories finished (it approaches 6000 words), there’s so much more story to be told that it’s begging to be expanded into something bigger, like a small novella. I’ve finally admitted to myself that as it currently exists it is a mere snapshot into the three main characters’ lives and that there’s so much in the past, present and future of the characters teased on the page already. It begs further mining, and I think that with enough focus it could pretty much write itself. Maybe I’ll make that a goal for its 20th anniversary in two years. The tricky part that remains – as is the case with working on any really old story – is the fact that it takes place in the era in which it was written, the late 90s. It’s a period piece now for crying out loud.

Project: Blood-Borne (novel series) – No comment. For now.

Project: Comeback (initiative) – this is the codename for my supposed return to short story writing and publishing, of which I took leave back in 2011-12 to focus on editing, journalism and music. It’s an initiative, really. It always gets stalled by my focusing on nurturing the older children I’ve already released into the wild. It’s like I’m that parent who knows he didn’t quite do the best job rearing his offspring prior to their going off to college and now that they’ve graduated I just want to make sure they’re the best citizens they can be, even in a society that cares very little about them. Hence, why “All Things Considered” is getting the attention it is right now. However . . .

Project: Micro Mondays (writing exercise) – I really want to get something like this going, specifically on the (still) forthcoming Ruckerpedia magazine site. If I do ever get that ball rolling I should probably stockpile enough microfictions to ensure they land every Monday. Would love to be able to do that for 52 weeks straight someday. Nanofiction Wednesday could be cool too . . . okay, I’ll stop.

Writing – Comics

Project: Mr. Macabre – Didn’t talk about this one last month, but it was recently being reconfigured to its original graphic novel form with my lifelong best friend/musical partner/artistic brother-from-another-mother Joshua Hooten. But we’ve already shelved that for something more from scratch from the both of us (I’ve been kicking around the Mr. Macabre concept for nearly 20 years — first as an original comics idea, and later as a novels idea). It’s being benched for . . .

Project: Unsettled – An old germ of a concept I’ve had for a few years, but maybe only 5-10% developed. So that it’s ripe for Joshua and I to develop it from scratch as a co-creation of our own. Unlike with Project: Mr. Macabre, I didn’t populate this idea with characters and stories that I’ve had for two decades. We’re developing this one together, even Stevens. I want Joshua to be as fully invested from the ground up as I would be, and a large part of accomplishing that for an illustrator doing the lion’s share of the work is designing the characters from whole cloth in full collaboration rather than from dictation. We’re only about a week into this and we’re both busy/working/old/family men, so naturally it will be a slow burn. More as it develops.

Other Comics Projects – Plenty in waiting, but like starting a band and needing a drummer, none of these ideas can come to fruition without a devoted illustrator.

Writing – Journalism, er, Commentary & Blogging

Comic Book Fetish – I don’t really do “traditional” comics journalism anymore, I do what I like to call rogue analysis and commentary. I’m trying to be more active over at CBF, but a lot of my energy for it gets put into the CBU group on Facebook.

RuckOgnition – Ramping up my activity here as well. As always, the blog exists to keep me writing on a semi-daily basis so that I, although that was the idea in 2009 when I started, well before I finally embraced Facebook as my daily go-to for social media. The keystrokes there should be here, but alas. Still, I’m making an effort to stay active here.

Music – Band(s)

Neglect the Alarm – The latest hiatus continues, indefinitely. In fact, I’m getting the sense that the days for this band may be numbered a bit less than anticipated. It’s complicated. But in the past couple of weeks we were offered a spot on a June 2nd show with a band from Chicago at the same venue of our one and only previous show, and I had to turn it down because of our current state of flux. I hate letting others down just as much as I hate being let down. I do have a plan for how we can finish up our 5-song demo if things go completely south, but that will take a small monetary investment on my part. Let’s just say the situation on this band is developing and leave it at that for now.

Unnamed New Band Project #1 – Not sure this one will ever get off the ground without a drummer. Pretty much ‘nuff said there.

Unnamed New Band Project #2 – This was just conceived this past week as I approach my guitar partner from NTA about pursuing something different while NTA sorts itself out. Too early to describe, yet, but it would be heavier and more metal-leaning than NTA. Of course the initial task, like with all my other new band projects that have failed to materialize, is finding an available drummer, let alone the right one. So, it’s really too early to say more about this one yet.

Music – Solo

Singer-Songwriter Acoustic Project – Several songs still in various levels of finished/unfinished, and I truly want to get back to this project by the Fall and maybe record them as the long-not-awaited follow up Bridging the Disconnect that I self-produced and self-released in 2009. But I first must rebuild my home studio, since I sold a good portion of my gear three years ago following a layoff. And then, of course there is finding the time given all my literary goals and activities.

As always it’s an arduous balancing act of the arts for me. I should be two or three people instead of one.

New Websites – Will likely finally launch in June. Unlikely for it to be June 1st. Actually, who am I kidding, it will probably be July.

The unnamed music site is scratched from the whiteboard until further notice.

Next Month

I predict even more progress!

Currently Reading: Drifter the stunning debut suspense novel by Nicholas Petrie. I’m on Chapter 8 and really digging it. Check it out!

Currently Listening: to a shit-ton of audiobooks, already mentioned in Daybook 5 yesterday.

Workbook 7 | April: Ramping Down

Spring is in full swing and the weather has been as moody as you might expect a Midwestern Spring to be, which unfortunately does a doozy on my overall disposition, rendering me aimless. I am one of those people who simply do not do well when the weather is especially crappy – endless days of clouds, rain or overcast just tend to replicate themselves within me. I wish I was not so susceptible to these negative effects, but alas. Hell, as I write this on this lazy Saturday it’s currently gloomy outside with a gray monochrome overcast and relentless rain.

That said, this unfortunate condition does not excuse my lack of productivity. It may certainly help explain it, but I fully acknowledge it’s not an excuse. So instead of doing a rundown of things I accomplished since the March update, I can amass more words here with a rundown of what I didn’t accomplish in the month of April.

Current Project: The All-New Ruckerpedia

The new companion site intended to showcase the story author aspect of Yours Truly was supposed to be launched by now, if not in April then surely by tomorrow, May 1st. But that’s not going to happen because . . .

I did not finalize it and populate it with content. Sure, there are a handful works posted there, but it’s nowhere near at the robust level of content I want it to have before unleashing it upon an unsuspecting world (a world that may not even acknowledge its existence, but that’s a struggle for a different day).

Current Projects: (Everything Else)

So what else is languishing in a state of un-finish? Here’s a laundry list:

  • Project: Comeback – Apparently I’m not coming back to anything given the way I’ve sat idly doing very little. Rebirth? Laughable. I’m the same slacker I’ve been the last nearly five years (I’ve finished and published one story since the November 2011 publication of my Local Heroes anthology).
  • Project: Novel Series (Codenamed: Blood-Borne) – No progress made, despite the high I achieved after getting positive reader feedback from two different sources the past month or so.

Hey, what about . . .

Upcoming Projects?

Well, they’re still upcoming because they’ve yet to come to fruition. This includes the Music Website that will house all the music I’ve self-produced over the last eight years as well as linkage to music I’ve created with others.

Also includes Collaborative Projects – one with a fellow writer as well as a different one with an old friend who is also an artist looking to draw a particular story of mine in the form of comic book project – hopefully as a series, but barring that, then a graphic novel. Preliminary work for that is currently in play. But I’ve yet to make a scintilla of progress on the prose collaboration with my other potential collaborative partner. And serialized fiction, while very much on my mind these days, is not even on the map yet.

But what about . . .

Current Musical Projects

Hey, finally something of progress worth noting. My band Neglect the Alarm has finally emerged from a Winter hiatus with two productive practices so far. We’ve taken a song I wrote back in January and rearranged it some to make it even better. That’s the great, democratic way we operate – one guy may write a song on his own and its initial form will change for the better once it goes through the filter of the whole band and everyone gets to contribute to it, whether it’s just structural ideas or actual music. Due to our drummer’s very busy and growing schedule in the world of independent filmmaking, there are a couple more hiatuses on our schedule with no imminent concerts on the horizon. But during the downtime we hope to finally finish additional and post-production on our first batch of recorded songs. As for anything else I may do musically outside of  Neglect the Alarm it’s all TBD/TBA at best.

Next Month

Probably best I don’t embarrass myself with a list of highly potential letdowns. Let’s see if we’re all pleasantly surprised in the month of May.

Look for a Lifebook post tomorrow where I continue to psychoanalyze the current state I’m in.

Workbook 6 | March: Ramping Up

Hello, Spring. You’ve been missed. And I’ve been busy. Sorta. Been a while since I’ve done one of these so let’s get right to it.

Current Project: Comeback

  • The past month or so has been devoted to making a comeback in a couple of different ways. A kind of rebirth. Emerging from the dark cold winter with a better outlook on what it is I’m supposed to be doing with whatever talents I may have as a writer and musician. I’m addressing the writer aspect first.
  • First and foremost, I had to upgrade my primary computing and writing device with a new laptop. That was done about a month ago. Updated hardware and software, crucial tools for working smarter, not harder.

Current Project: Ruckerpedia

  • Creating a self-publishing venue for my writing – that’s currently underway as I put together the all-new Ruckerpedia: The Magazine & Archive of yours truly, which will house all of my fiction, poetry and lyrics – old and forthcoming.
  • In the process of the just mentioned, this particular blog became rebranded as simply my name dot com.
  • Currently shopping around for the perfect WP theme to use for a site that is essentially a magazine.
  • I’ve found the what appears to be the perfect WP theme for the new Ruckerpedia magazine site.

Upcoming Project: TBA Music Website

  • Will create another website that will house all of my recorded music, old and forthcoming. Will probably tackle this in earnest toward the beginning of next month after I’ve fully launched the new Ruckerpedia.

Upcoming Projects: Serialized Fiction

  • Soon I’ll be discussing this in greater detail, but I’ve always been interested in (and probably best suited for) writing episodic fiction. Once the new Ruckerpedia venue is in place the endless potential for producing long fiction in small, serialized stanzas and chapters will be more of a reality.

Upcoming Collaborative Projects: TBA

  • Currently in talks with a couple of collaborative partners for two different projects. It’s too early for details as those are still being conceptualized, but both will play into my urge to produced serialized fiction. One of the creative partners is someone I’d been teasing working with on this very website for the past year. The other is a childhood friend and someone I’ve collaborated with in the past on a musical project of ours. This particular type of collaboration is something we should have done forever ago.

Resurrected Project ?: Novel Series (Codenamed: Blood-Borne)

  • Finally decided to share some of what I’ve written over the past 6.5 years with a writer friend just to see how it connects. The good thing is in reviewing those measly 6000 words or so prior to sharing them with her, I was struck by how much I’m still in love with those words I written a few years ago and how at this point they required very minimal refinement in the re-reading. Whenever I can truly commit to this sleeping beast of a novel (series), I thankfully won’t have to look backward and can simply boogie on ahead. But as I write this I still anxiously await my friend’s response to the material.

Next Month

  • Finalize, populate with content and launch the new Ruckerpedia upon an unsuspecting world
  • Hammer out the details on collaborative works.
  • Get my musical affairs in order for the coming year.
  • Keep on task and stay busy, stay productive, etc.

Workbook 5 | Quick Musical Update

Me - ntaThere is much to update from the past two months or so, but I’ll just touch on the musical aspect because that requires less words to summon before I head out for the day.

So my rock band of 10 months, Neglect the Alarm, has been putting the finishing, polishing touches on the five songs that will form our first release of new music into the wilds. We have slated our as-yet-untitled (though likely will be self-titled) 5-song EP to be recorded at the earliest part of November at Azmyth Recording studio in Indianapolis, IN, not far from the practice space we use every other week. The mini-album will be financed, produced, mixed and mastered by us D-i-Y style, and likely released digitally for free.

Practice July 29, 2015

NTA banner cropped

(not final graphic)

Group photo by Jason Fredriksz

Workbook 4 | July 26-August 1, 2015

Current Project: Me (my confidence, my outlook, my purpose)

The week that was . . .

  • Started the week off in a bit of a funk. Lacking confidence in my ambitions and lacking conviction in the possibility of actual achievement in my goals.
  • Began to wonder if I should simply forgo writing fiction, which over the last few years has truly become hard work, and just take the easy way out and opt for nonfiction since that has been so much easier to do the last few years.
  • Exorcised some of those negative demons in a Journal Juice entry and felt a little better after the expulsion of negative emotions.
  • Agreed that even though I have serious doubts about my ability to pen a complete novel at this current juncture, I should still continue to work on my fiction, long or short, at any opportunity that I can, but should remove some of the self-applied pressure from myself so that I can still at least enjoy life while I continue to struggle.

Current Project: Operation Remember Me? (digital uploads)

The week that was . . . 

  • Read through, spit-shined and polished “Call of Duty: A Cop’s Tale” since it has such a timely subject matter given current events regarding police and citizens. This short story was originally published in my LOCAL HEROES anthology back in November 2011, which of course is no longer in print. While still not a great example of my abilities (its origins date back to my earliest days in prose), this latest update of it seems to read better than the print version, at least. So there’s that.
  • Began reading through and spit-polishing “All Things Considered”, but with that story being over 5000 words long and needing serious updating to bring certain details into the 21st century (unless I decide to keep its setting in the mid-1990s),   it’s going to take more than a quick afternoon sit-down to get it up to par. It’s likely I’ll get the other stories on the project ready before I get this one prepped to go.

The week to come . . .

  • Upload “Call of Duty: A Cop’s Tale” to Smashwords this week, but not before . . .
  • . . . Putting together a serviceable digital cover for it.
  • Read through “The Other Roommate” to see if it is truly finished and decide whether to self-publish it or submit it to fine bizarro publication.

Current Project: Blood-Borne (novel)

  • No comment.

Current Project: Neglect the Alarm (band)

The week that was . . .

  • Band practice was great this week. We got the official fourth song done with the beginnings of what will be #6 in the works. There’s a first ever group photo below. It’s an action shot, DGAF punk rock style.

Practice July 29, 2015

The week to come . . .

  • Looks like there may be another short break.
  • Continue to work on riffs and lyrics.
  • Kick around logo ideas for our “non-logo”.