The Once & Future Wilde: GREAT News About The Doc Wilde Series!

Wilde Adventure!

Today, I get to share some huge news with you about the future of Doc Wilde.

As you may know, the first book in the series, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2009. It was very well reviewed and sold well enough that Putnam contracted me for two more books toward building a regular series. The safe (and possibly sane) course of action would have been to stick with Putnam and all the benefits of publishing with a big house. My experience with Putnam was largely positive, and I’d beaten the odds by landing with them in the first place. But…

But I wasn’t satisfied with the book Putnam put out or their support of it. There were some editorial dictates I allowed myself to be persuaded to follow that I felt weakened the story, the book was pigeonholed by the publisher as a middle-grade work rather than a tale for all ages as I intended, and the publisher put very little effort or money into promotion (this is, alas, mostly par for the course these days).

Additionally, I was simply more ambitious about the Wildes than Putnam was, and had wanted the books to be fully illustrated. With this in mind, before I’d even finished writing the book I’d sought and found the perfect artist for it, a hellaciously talented Aussie named Gary Chaloner. Gary read what I’d written to that point and fell in love with the characters and agreed to join the Wilde team. While I finished the book, he put a lot of time and work into getting the characters just right, and I loved his take on my heros. A fellow pulp-fan, Gary understood the Wildes in his bones, and his images were dynamic and clever and made my story look good. The picture atop this post is one of his.

When they bought Frogs of Doom, Putnam disregarded all the work Gary had already done and my aspiration for nicely illustrated volumes. The book they put out replaced illustrations with goofy typographical effects in the text which made it look expressly aimed only at younger readers, and while the painted cover was nice, it did not capture my characters as I saw them and I never got so much as an email consultation with the artist.

Doc Wilde, 1st edition

Now, that’s not unusual, not many authors actually have much say in the covers that get stuck on their books. But since I’d been through months of collaborative effort with my artist of choice, who had labored meticulously to honor my vision, I was naturally even more dissatisfied by the outcome.

So, inspired by the independent publishing revolution, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I managed to work some loophole sorcery and not only wriggled out of the contract for the next two books but regained full rights to Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. I brought Gary back on board and we set out to create the books I’d wanted all along. After lots of work and some delays, in 2013 we rereleased the first book in a gorgeous new edition that was not only packed with great Chaloner artwork but also featured my preferred, extended “Author’s Cut” of the story.


Working with Gary on this book was the most enjoyable creative collaboration I’ve ever had, and the resulting volume is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, just after its publication, Gary was forced to resign from the series due to scheduling concerns. This was a crushing blow, but I rallied and hired a new artist, Tess Fowler, which was a terrible mistake. She took my money and dragged ass for months without producing anything but a few rough sketches then, as we approached the originally agreed upon release window, threw a neurotic fit and ceased all communications. She kept the cash. I later found out that I’m not the only victim of this sort of behavior on her part.

Being ripped off by Tess Fowler didn’t just cost me money, it cost me all the months she was allegedly working on the next book. And it triggered my depression, which I’ve battled for years, making further progress impossible for many months more. All the creative and logistical issues of creating these books were further exacerbated by the anxiety of my trust betrayed and depression’s leaden shroud. I entered a period of convalescence, realizing I needed to get a handle on my daily life again before I could even begin to think about getting back to work on the Wilde books.

Well, the time has come to get back on that buckin’ bronco. The Doc Wilde series is finally continuing. And the really big news is: Gary Chaloner is back as the official Wilde artist!


Gary is still very busy, so we’re taking it at a slower pace than originally intended, but it’s worth it to do these books right. The new release schedule will be a new Doc Wilde book every year. This will allow him to fit Wilde work into his schedule without overwhelming him, and it will allow me to alternate Doc Wilde books with other writing projects.

We plan to release the second book, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, by Christmas 2016, with a yearly release around the same time each year thereafter. And we hope you’ll join us on all our adventures for years to come…


Watch Edison’s FRANKENSTEIN From 1910!

Frankenstein (1910)

As we creep toward Halloween, get in the mood by visiting with the very first cinematic Frankenstein’s monster.

This short film from Edison Studios was made in 1910 by writer/director J. Searle Dawley. It stars Augustus Phillips as Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor’s fiancée.

It ain’t Karloff, but it’s a fascinating piece of film history. There’s some creative use of a mirror, both in the mise-en-scène and in the storytelling, and the sequence depicting the birth of the monster is primitive but amazingly creepy.

Courage Is Fire, And Bullying Is Smoke: Thoughts On Political Venom

I support Bernie Sanders. In practical terms, for the moment, that means that I do not support Hillary Clinton. It means I’m going to tend to share information about Bernie as a way of helping get the word out about what he stands for. It also means I’m going to be vocal about the differences between him and Hillary, and I’m going to be critical of her in a way that I probably won’t be if she ultimately wins the nomination. The differences between Bernie and Hillary are important, especially when it comes to the choice of either coddling or challenging the corporatists and banksters who are ruining our country, but they are nothing compared to the vast schism between both of them and the parade of idiots campaigning for the GOP.
So, yes, I’m critical of Clinton, and I can be a tough critic of her policies and political behavior. But I never lower myself to insult, either of her or her supporters. You won’t find me calling her a bitch or impugning her because of choices in her personal life or mocking her appearance or dress. Nor will you find me making derogatory comments about those who want her as president. I respect Hillary Clinton and I respect her followers; though we disagree, we are ultimately on the same side. And eventually, however the primaries shake out, they and I will be voting for the same person in the general election.
So when I visit a friend’s Facebook page and see all sorts of derogatory comments about “Bernie-bots” and how stupid they are and how vile (and even misogynistic) their candidate is, all it does is make me not want to even bother talking to that friend. I already kicked one jackass off my friends list for getting riled up in a calm discussion about the candidates and accusing me of sexism (solely based on my choice of Sanders over Clinton), and after a couple of visits to his wall to check up on him, I’m glad he’s gone because his wall is full of venom and he’s an abusive prick who’s all too willing to resort to personal attacks to try to get a rhetorical advantage. Or perhaps just to be a bully.
On another friend’s wall, I see a shared post from yet another Hillary supporter, a long diatribe about Bernie Sanders’s history and positions that’s as nasty a piece of work as I’ve seen this election season. This is typical of the venomous spin in the post:
“[At university, Sanders] joined socialist organizations and dabbled in far-left communist politics, gaining national notoriety by petitioning the school to let students have sex in the dormitories. This was before birth control and abortion were legal, when there were still very serious repercussions for women if the condom broke, but that didn’t stop him from crusading against those silly rules that were an obstacle to his own satisfaction.”

So here we have a liberal harshly criticizing Bernie Sanders for fighting for people’s sexual freedom. Does the writer really think that legal adults at the time should have had their sexual activities interdicted by university administrators because condoms might break? Or is authoritarianism fine and dandy when it’s being fought against by the candidate you don’t like?

I’m sure there are Sanders supporters out there who are just as bad as these people. My point isn’t that Clinton supporters are abusive assholes, it’s that none of us should be. Not only does it lead to bad blood between individuals, I’m sure it turns at least some possible voters against your candidate enough that they won’t vote for that candidate no matter what happens.

Talk to me with respect and I’ll do the same to you.

(Of course, comport yourself like a bunch of racist, sexist, theocratic, clown car fascists and all bets are off. Just sayin’.)

News From The Darkness: A Personal Update As I Clamber Toward Daylight


Where have I been?

How am I doing?

What’s happening with the Doc Wilde books? Or any other writing I might be doing?

It’s time for a general update, and probably past time for a Doc Wilde update since Kickstarter supporters and other fans are patiently waiting for me to get the next book out.

First, if you would, read my post from back in February, “I’m Back. Ish.” It covers some important ground and remains pertinent, especially regarding the state of Doc Wilde, and whether the coming books will be illustrated or not. (And there will be coming books, it’s just going to take a bit longer.)

Now, since that post, which itself was part of an effort to drag myself back into the world and into health and productivity, things have improved somewhat, but I’ve also had a realization: I’m in convalescence. I’m making progress, but I’m doing so far more gradually than I’d like, and far more gradually than I tend to allow for. I’m fighting a depression monster that has had me pinned beneath its claws for many years, a monster which has beaten me and ruined my plans over and over and over again, a monster that has laughed at everything the psychiatric community has thrown at it from therapy to all sorts of drugs to electroshock therapy.

I have had to accept something about myself that batters what pride I still have: I have a disability. I look in the mirror and I don’t see someone who’s disabled, but I look at my life and I certainly do. And I fucking hate it, and I hate that I have to struggle, and I hate that it’s so goddamned hard, and I hate knowing how much I could accomplish if it weren’t a factor, but none of that actually makes any difference because it it what it is and I have to deal with it.

If I don’t, it will kill me. Continue reading

THE PEBBLE: Worst Piece of Crap Watch I’ve Ever Had (Review)

pebble watch malfunction

My Pebble is dying.

As it dies, after less than three years of extremely limited use, I keep getting emails from Pebble excitedly offering me the chance to buy the new Pebble Time, their latest chronographic wonder.

Uh, no.

Back in early 2012, I was happy to support Pebble on Kickstarter. They seemed like cool folks with a cool product, and I got caught up in the excitement of their historically successful fundraising endeavor. It’s been years since I actually wore a watch, but thought that maybe the functionality of having a watch that smoothly interacts with the phone in my pocket would make doing so worthwhile. And I felt good supporting some dashing entrepreneurs trying to do something great.

It took nearly a year before the watch arrived, but that was fine. Delays happen, plans go awry. But finally it arrived, and it was pretty shiny in its package…


…but I was hit immediately with buyer’s remorse. It seemed like a decent enough device, if a bit 8-bit in its aesthetic, but I realized that I simply had little use for it. So I tried a few times to sell it to my friends on Facebook, without luck.

I resigned myself to having unwisely purchased the thing and being out the $115 it cost (Kickstarter price; the retail price on this blighted thing is $150), and hoped to find uses for it as time passed. Eventually I started wearing it to the pool so I’d know when it was time to get my pale-skinned self back into the shadows before broiling began. This was all I was doing with this watch, swimming with it in my apartment pool three or four times a week for twenty-to-thirty minutes each time. As the watch is allegedly waterproof down to 50 meters, this should have been fine.

But, very quickly, it started malfunctioning. Since I was in the water when I noticed this, I assumed it was because of the water. I emailed their support:


I was one of your Kickstarter supporters and my watch is starting to act up. I very rarely wear it, but one of the times I do wear it is when I’m in the pool, to keep track of my time in the sun (I’m cursed with very fair skin). I’ve used it this way maybe fifteen times since I got it.

Today in the pool, I glanced at the screen and saw that it was going haywire. The screen would white out, and it would draw random lines and patchily return to its display. It’s still doing so, though I suspect as it dries out the problem will go away…but if the waterproofing has slipped I’m stuck with a watch that has lost core functionality.

Can you help?

Thank you,

Pebble never replied.

This year, with the watch well out of warranty, I’ve tried to continue using it at the pool and the problems have become nearly constant. Some days, it works the whole swim, but more often it works intermittently, and more and more it simply goes blank and works not at all. I’d say it actually works properly about a tenth of the time, based not just on my pool experiences but on observation throughout the day.

As I said, I’d assumed initially that the issue was water-based, but further testing shows it’s not. The Pebble malfunctions just as often when it’s completely dry. It malfunctions if I wear it for a short walk to get the mail. It malfunctions sitting on my desk, charging. Malfunctioning is apparently its favoritest thing.

I’ve looked up their troubleshooting suggestions and done them all, including a complete factory reset, and the problem persists. Now, even when it’s working (which never lasts more than a few minutes), the image is corrupted and missing pixels.

And searching online, I found quite a few others with similar issues. Just read the 1 and 2 star reviews on Amazon.

Additionally, when the Pebble was offered on Kickstarter, the manufacturers bragged that it would have a great e-paper screen, using the technology seen on Amazon’s Kindle and other e-readers. When it actually arrived, that great e-paper screen was nowhere to be seen; the malfunctioning, low-quality display is actually a very primitive-looking LCD screen.

So, no, I don’t think I’ll be buying that new Pebble watch, thank you. I’d be better off with a sundial.

GREED: The Fine Art of Sticking It To Your Readers

As a writer, there is nothing more sacred to me than the connection between the teller of tales and those he tells them to. I write because I want to be read, and read by as many people as possible. There is, of course, a practical aspect to all of this, because to make a living at this craft requires a lot of readers. But there are far easier jobs to do which are generally a lot more lucrative, and the sharing of stories and ideas is the primary currency I crave.

Not everyone shares this philosophy. Samuel Johnson said “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” and to a degree that’s solid advice, especially in a time when so many folks try to wrangle writers into writing for free in order to get “exposure.” But if cash itself is a writer’s raison d’être, their muse is a whore and there’s a good chance they’re a hack.

As a reader, I’ve always despised publishing tricks that create scarcity in order to squeeze more money out of some readers while keeping material out of most readers’ hands. For example, an expensive “exclusive limited edition” of an author’s book which includes a story that’s not in the generally available edition and won’t be available anywhere else. It’s true that this rewards devoted fans willing to spring for something special, but it also punishes devoted fans who may not be able to afford the book. “If you love me and want to read everything I write, o wonderful reader, you will buy this exclusive collectible. Otherwise, screw you.”

To be clear, I have no problem with cool collectibles. I love beautiful limited editions, all autographed and bound-in-cloth (like a real goddamned hardback) and illustrated and such. It’s the exclusivity of content that I take issue with. That’s disrespectful to your fans, the most important people in the world to a writer, the people who most want to read your work. Why cheat them of the chance?

This applies to pricing, too. While “what the market will bear” is a fine principle for corporate mercenaries, it can be a harsh metric when applied to the dynamic between writer and reader. A writer I know is writing a series of adventure novels about a popular character that I would love to have on my shelf, and support this author’s work, but the publisher prices the paperbacks at $25 and the hardbacks at $40 and I just can’t afford them. Such pricing is unnecessary; Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is fully illustrated and I published it at $12. Even allowing for licensing costs, the prices for my friend’s books err dramatically toward favoring the publisher over the reader.

The worst case of this sort of thing I have ever seen is a new book featuring a crowd of classic pulp heroes in a shared adventure, a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen kind of thing. As you all know, I love pulp and I’m innately interested in this sort of thing. The book looks to be huge and extravagant and loaded with illustrations, a gorgeous artifact for any library. But the lowest price for one of these volumes is $200. And the highest price?


How fucking ludicrous can you get?

I don’t begrudge the writer or publishers the extravagance of their book. If they want to sell an elite edition of it for fifteen grand, and someone wants to buy it, that’s awesome. And even the version at $200 may be worth the price for collectors if the book is beautifully (and expensively) made. But publishing it without a less expensive point of entry for the vast majority of possible readers, especially the very pulp fans this was presumably written for, is unfortunate. It also limits the potential size of the author’s fanbase to a small pool of folks willing and able to fork over a lot of cash.

When he wrote this book, did the writer do it because he loved the art of telling stories, and wanted to reach readers? Or did he just see an opportunity to squeeze money from the collectibles market? Because it really looks like the latter.

Me, I want to reach all the people I can. I want to treat my readers, and potential readers, with the sort of respect I hope to receive as a reader myself. I’d rather sell two thousand books at $12 each than a thousand at $25. I’d rather be read by a thousand people than a hundred. And I’d never participate in a stunt that kept my work from being accessible to most of the folks who might want to read it.

If your favorite book is a checkbook you may disagree.

Mad Max vs. Mad Max

Okay, we revisited The Road Warrior last night, and I need to update my statement in which I said it was better than Fury Road. Story-wise and character-wise, they’re both (to put it charitably) streamlined for speed. But there’s a lot more action in Fury Road, and its action is far more creative. Fury Road is visually gorgeous in a way Road Warrior never approaches. And the world building in Fury Road is astonishing, just the intricate texture of the world and its cultures, all depicted without laborious exposition. Even the political/feminist themes work, as bald and obvious as they are, but then even clumsy progress is progress (a lesson I wish a lot of fanatical progressives would learn).

As for Max himself, both Mel Gibson and Tom Hardy are fine in a role that gives them little to chew on. Gibson’s best character beat is his “You want to get out of here? You talk to me.” Hardy’s is a grudging thumbs-up he gives in an action sequence. Gibson does get to be the actual star of his own movie, though, which Hardy does not (Charlize Theron’s Furiosa isn’t much better as a character, but she does get to carry the plot).

Still ahead, we’ll rewatch Beyond Thunderdome to see how that compares. And they’ve already announced another flick with Hardy. But really, I’m looking forward to the Mad Max game for PS4 a lot more.