The wonderful Christina Perri does an enchanting cover of the classic “Be My Baby.”
The wonderful Christina Perri does an enchanting cover of the classic “Be My Baby.”
In my post about this year’s Doc Wilde relaunch, I told you that Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom would be re-released in its deluxe improved edition in June, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull would follow in August/September, and the third book, to be named later, would follow in November.
I’m ready to give you the third title…
…Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf!!!
I’d originally planned this to be the second book in the series, and wrote a chunk of it, but it was vetoed by my editor as “too scary.” And, indeed, it is a darker, bloodier tale than the first book (even considering Frogs of Doom’s Lovecraftian horrors), exactly as I intended it to be. I mean, it’s werewolves. It should be scary.
I wondered if I’d ever actually be allowed by Putnam to publish the book without toning down the scares and neutering it.
Well, now I get to write the book I want to write, and you get to read it.
A great bit of political reportage from novelist Lucius Shepard:
Watching the GOP debate yesterday I had the idea that I was watching a Nostradamus prophecy coming true, these four evil fucks blithely discussing the ripping away of entitlements, like the four heads of some Hydra-esque creature, the subject of a quatrain that begins, When the four-headed beast rises in the west, pus will burst from the eyes of the populace. It was an amazing scene. John King lobbing questions like gobbets of fat and these monstrosities lazily plucking them out of the air and swallowing them, then regurgitating a processed answer…all except the dimwitted Ron Paul, who seemed constantly on the verge of cackling and bursting into flames, an itchy little demon whose mouth outsped his brain. And the audience…tanned, corpulent lesser imps and imp-ettes. Jesus. Like a scene from the Middle Ages.
Back in 2009, I reviewed a modern pulp adventure titled The Sting of the Scorpion. As I said then (review here), I enjoyed the hell out of it, and ever since I’ve been hoping to see new Scorpion adventures. A second book has been due for a while, and looks to finally be coming soon, but in the meantime, the author has released a short story featuring the hero, called “Past Imperfect.”
As I wrote before:
As for the hero, in classic pulp fashion, The Scorpion by day is a wealthy paragon, living in the tallest building in the city, assisted by a mysterious Asian woman, dedicated to his mission against evil…but he’s not just a hero with a dark past, he’s a hero with a really dark past. And he’s not really human, in some very interesting and dangerous ways. Richard Wentworth dressed as The Spider to scare criminals into thinking he was a monster; Kurt Reinhardt becomes The Scorpion because he is a monster.
Reinhardt is a compelling protagonist, the action frequent and brutal, the city a violent and noirish place, and the plot interesting. Not only that, but Stockholm can actually write very well…I do have to warn readers of delicate tastes away, however, because this is a very grim and blood-splashed work.
I just read it, and it’s understandably slighter than its longer predecessor, but still a lot of fun, and a good taste of Scorpion action and craziness. It needs a bit of editing (little things, like having a character “pouring” rather than “poring” over some documents), but is a sleek and clever read and easy to recommend at an ebook cost of 99¢.
(Also, if you’re a fan of pulp adventure, make sure to check out the news about my Doc Wilde series!!!)
This is my final “good memory” from last year, and I’m going to tell you about the two women who dominated my time and attention, who touched me and thrilled me and inspired me, who gave me delight with their presence, then despair at their loss.
I’m going to call them Witchcraft and Prose. My relationship with one is no secret, but what I shared with the other is, and I like the poetry in these noms de cœur. I’m not going to say much about them, but I can’t write about my good memories of last year without writing about them, because they were responsible for most of them.
Witchcraft may well have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.
Her hair is a wild mane of copper and fire.
She moves in the world with confidence and strength, but has a fragility about her, a softness and wariness betrayed in the shyness of her smile.
As 2011 began, we were falling in love, and when we committed to each other, I was happier than I’d been for many years.
She’s a very smart, very wise woman. We shared a worldview, spiritually and politically, and a passionate, physical romanticism. We played. We laughed. We shared our darknesses.
We were forever. But not really.
I won’t go into our downfall. I’ve done that before. It may have been that we were simply, ultimately, unsuited for each other. It may have been that we came together at a bad time. I certainly was having a rough time, and reacted to the stages of our collapse in ways I regret, ways that hurt her. I failed her, and I failed myself.
I have tried to salve the wounds. Apparently they are too deep. And so, she is not in my life, and my life is the poorer. We were lovers, but more than that, we were friends, and I wish that was still so.
Prose is a beautiful, dark-haired woman with beautiful, dark eyes and a ready smile. She’s trim and athletic, and sultry in a teasing, playful way that can turn instantly to smoldering intensity. I loved being the focus of her gaze. I loved gazing upon her. I loved her carnality.
I loved thinking of showering with her in waterfalls, out in the wilds, just her, just me…
I’m calling her Prose because she’s a professional writer. She’s gifted, and the tales she spins mix deep emotion with a wry sense of human fallibility.
She is funny and smart as hell, and the many hours we spent in each other’s company were filled with repartee and laughter. I can honestly say that I have met few people in my life who I just simply like as much as I like her. Our relationship lasted about three months, and she became one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
We spent a lot of time together.
Unfortunately, she had to end things. She was married, in a separation of sorts brought on by the deadening of passion, the dissipation of shared interests, which kills so many marriages. But she has kids. She opted to return to the hard work of trying to reel in the widening gyre, of getting the centre to hold, of making her marriage work.
There was no place for me, or what we shared, in that life. So she drew away. And I gave her my blessing. I spent years working a lifeless marriage myself, for my son’s sake, so I’ve been there. And I want her to be happy, so if making her marriage work again is what she wants, I hope it works out for her. I hope she finds happiness.
I’m rooting for her.
I miss Witchcraft and Prose, and I have regrets. But I don’t regret what I shared with either of them. I’m better for having known them. I will always be here for them, even if it’s just as a loving friend. Even if it’s just as a memory. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for either of them.
I’ve been spending the evening working on the final installment of my “Good Memories of 2011,” this one focusing on my relationships with two remarkable women I’m unable to spend time with now. One no longer wants to associate with me, the other can’t. I miss them both terribly, and trying to say all the things I want to say, elegantly and briefly, is proving difficult and making me sad.
But I’m oh so glad I got to know them.
Lately I’ve been trumpeting what I call the “Ebook Apocalypse” and detailing why I think it’s great for readers, writers, even bookstores…basically everybody but big publishers (though they have it within their ability, if not mindset, to seize the day and benefit too). Indeed, as I was thrilled to announce a few days ago, I’m no longer publishing with Penguin/Putnam and will be relaunching my Doc Wilde adventure series on my own later this year.
I already have two self-published ebooks for sale (my folksy supernatural tale “Dead Folks” and my exploration of nature, civilization, and the ecological spirit “Wild Soul,” both just 99¢), and publishing them was easy. Authors can do this. They don’t need someone to do it for them. If you’re smart enough to write a book, you’re smart enough to publish it yourself. (But please, in the names of all the sweet muses, have your work properly edited. Don’t be one of those assholes who publishes sub-literate diarrhea just because you can.)
Even covers are easy (though I have seen established writers put up books with terrible covers though they should know better). Continue reading
When both the big bookstores in her community folded, author Ann Patchett stepped forward and opened her own small bookstore.
In a very charming appearance on The Colbert Report, Patchett offers proof of my argument that the apocalypse brought to the bookstore industry by ebooks and Amazon is actually favorable to small local bookstores. Where Borders fell and B&N stumbles, small stores can now take root and give good old fashioned service to their communities.
In time, they’ll incorporate infrastructure allowing them to infinitely expand their stock by selling ebooks on-site and actually printing books on demand (as with the Espresso Book Machine, which is pretty amazing).
I wrote at length about how ebooks and digital distribution are good for readers, writers, and booksellers here, and if you have any interest in the topic, please give it a read.
You can watch Patchett and Colbert here.
If you have any interest in politics, religion, and how they mix, you should read this very thoughtful, well-researched column by my friend Kallan Kennedy:
If this proves to be accurate, excellent news on the film front:
Comic creator Mark Millar said Sunday in an interview that Kick-Ass 2, the follow-up to the 2010 superhero movie, is set to start filming within the next several months. Speaking with Scotland’s Daily Report, Millar said, “We shoot Kick-Ass 2 and American Jesus this summer. Then Matthew and I have Secret Service, which is a neddy James Bond.”
Although he didn’t offer additional specifics, the writer seemed to imply that original Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn was also involved, albeit presumably as a producer since he announced in January that he would be directing the next X-Men film. Currently the film has no attached director or stars, and the original film’s studio, Lionsgate, has made no announcements comfirming when or if the film might go into production. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)
I loves me some Kick-Ass (you should read my entertaining and mostly spoiler-free review here). Considering that Matthew Vaughn was both director and primary writer on the first one, the probability of someone else filling his shoes this time around is troubling, but hopefully he’ll make sure it’s in good hands.
I’m on record for my huge disdain for the dropping-that-walks-like-a-man named Chuck Norris. I’m also a huge fan of Clint Eastwood.
So there was really no way I couldn’t share this once I saw it…
Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars present this hauntingly lovely ballad that seems straight out of old-time Appalachia. It’s the theme song from the upcoming Hunger Games movie, but very much to the makers’ credit the melancholy and beautiful video avoids resorting to film footage.
For the record, I’m a big fan of Suzanne Collins’s series of books and am really looking forward to seeing the film.
In a young adult book market crowded with the depressing and the dour, Tim Byrd’s Doc Wilde swings in on a jungle vine to raise the flag high for adventure. Infused with pace, fun, and all the two-fisted action a reader could ask for, Wilde lovingly riffs on situations straight out of the old pulps, even while making them fresh for a new generation.
— Zack Stentz, screenwriter, Thor, X-Men: First Class
In 2009, Penguin/Putnam released my book Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, an adventure novel for all ages, my homage to the great pulp adventure stories of the thirties and forties. I conceived it as the first of a series, but Putnam waited to see how it was received before committing to more books.
The reviews were great, and the sales very good. As a result, Putnam asked for two more books. But, as regular readers of this blog know, I went through some rough times that delayed completion of the second book, and in the time since Frogs was released there has been a great deal of change in publishing. Thanks to digital distribution, the rapid rise of ebooks, and print on demand, the options for authors are much better than they used to be.
So, today, I’m excited to announce that Doc Wilde is going indy.
Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures. A tale ‘terrifying and dark, of indescribable horrors and eldritch mysteries,’ this is sure to be Wilde-ly popular, and readers will anxiously await future installments.
Putnam treated me well enough, but I was largely underwhelmed with my experiences with them. The money was relatively lousy (and usually delivered months after it was contractually supposed to be), they did no promotion, and I thought they failed to take advantage of important opportunities. At no point did I get the idea that my input was valued, except insofar as delivering a printable text was concerned. And they allowed the hardback to sell through its print run and fall out of print before even scheduling a paperback printing, meaning the book’s effective shelf life and opportunity to find new readers was less than two years. In other words, I was treated like most authors are treated by the Big 6.
The thing is, I want to make a living at this, and unless the series really took wing, I was never going to do that under standard publishing terms. Everybody in publishing makes a good living, with benefits, except the folks who write the books. Going independent is a gamble, but honestly, if it doesn’t work, I’m not out much income, and if it does (and I expect it will) I’ll at least be able to keep the roof over my head.
So this is the year of Doc Wilde.
Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom is an adventure yarn in the old tradition. It gets that reading is an intellectual activity, and that an adventure, to be really good, has to engage the reader’s brain. I love a smart book!
—Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Neddiad and The Yggyssey
The fact that Putnam allowed Frogs to fall out of print turned out to be a great thing, because it allowed me to retrieve the rights and I can start the series anew, the way I want to. There were things I wanted to do with the books that I wasn’t getting to do with Putnam, and now I can.
One of those things is working with Gary Chaloner. As I’ve written before, well before I finished writing Frogs, I tried to find the perfect artist to depict the Wildes, and Gary was my choice. Not only was he a gifted graphic storyteller with a distinctive style, he was also a huge fan of pulp adventure and had an instinctive understanding (and love) of the material. Together we decided to produce lavishly illustrated books, and he put a lot of time into honing his designs to match my vision of the characters. (To see some of his early designs, go here.)
When I signed with Putnam, they completely disregarded my wishes. The resulting book had a really nice cover, but I never got so much as an email consultation from the artist and I have a few minor issues with some of its details. There were no lovely illustrations inside. Instead, there were some goofy typographical effects that (I felt) distracted the reader and made the book look like it was meant solely for very young readers, rather than for young and old as I intended.
Well, Gary’s back on board, and we’re doing the books the way we originally envisioned.
Here’s the plan:
Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom will be released in its new edition in June, in both ebook and paper. It will offer my preferred edit of the novel, along with a new short Doc Wilde adventure, and (like future books) will have a new cover and be fully illustrated by maestro Gary Chaloner.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a Kickstarter project so folks can help us with the relaunch and get assorted boons ranging from being named in the acknowledgments to autographed limited editions and other exclusives.
Then, in August or September, the long-awaited second adventure will finally appear, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, in which the Wildes face a mind-blowing mystery and a truly bizarre villain. Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf, a dark tale featuring lycanthropes and witchcraft, will follow in November.
Had I remained with Putnam, by year’s end there would have possibly been a paperback of Frogs of Doom, and The Mad Skull might have seen print some time next year, though more likely it would have been in 2014. Doing things this way, you get the first three books by Christmas, with more to follow next year.
This is all very exciting for me. Going indy will allow me not only to produce nicer books, not only to make more money (at less cost to readers), but to have a more organic and personal relationship with fans. It’s a great time to be a writer.
Stay tuned for more news, including the details of the Kickstarter project…
A true delight…Tim Byrd has taken Doc Savage, added in a pinch of Robert E. Howard, a liberal dose of H.P. Lovecraft, and mixed it all together in a well done, enchanting pastiche of the pulps that will appeal to the adult audience as well as the young adult readers. It is an over the top at times, rip roaring adventure that returns us to the days of yesteryear and leaves us wanting more.
—Barry Hunter, The Baryon Review
(Note: At the time I post this, Putnam’s ebook version of Frogs of Doom is still available online. The wheels of publishing grind slowly, and they haven’t yet gotten around to removing it as they’re supposed to. If you’re interested in the book, I encourage you to wait for the new version later this year. It will be a much better edition, will cost you less, and I’ll benefit a lot more from the sale.)
A very funny and dead-on look at DC Comics’ cynical and crappy “Death of Superman”
epic storyline marketing stunt.
Thanks to Tess Fowler for sharing.
More on the “ebook apocalypse” front, and the self-publishing revolution, this time from writer James Scott Bell.
Here’s a bit (link at the bottom):
We all know the traditional model is shrinking. Advances on new contracts are at historic lows. With physical shelf-space disappearing, print revenues are down. While digital income is up for the publishers, the slice of that pie given to authors remains stagnated at 25% of net (or roughly 17.5% of retail). And new writers are finding publishers increasingly risk averse regarding debut authors.
Still, many writers remain focused on [getting published]. It represents some sort of “validation” even though it could very well mean less income…and fewer readers.
But now a new model of writing success has appeared. Writers, for the first time since the troubadour era (when you could go out on your own and make up stories in song and take in some coin), have it within their power to get their writing out there without a middleman (the fancy term is “disintermediation”).
And further, unlike self-published authors of yore, they actually have a chance to make real dough. Every day we are hearing more accounts of self-published writers who are earning significant income as independents.
Yet income alone is not the main draw of this new model, which looks like this:
Freedom is the invaluable commodity here. To be able to write what you truly want to write, and know that you can get it into the marketplace, is tremendously liberating. It is, in fact, the engine of happiness for a writer. It’s exhilarating to write for yourself, see what you’ve written, fix it, and keep on writing—and be assured that it will have a place in the stream of commerce, for as long as you live.
Thinking about my trip to New York, and the long train ride there and back, lonely, watching the landscape flash past in the darkness, brought this song to mind…
Kathy, I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and I’m aching and I don’t know why
Countin’ the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America, all come to look for America…
Conan the Barbarian is nowhere near as good as Conan the Barbarian, though Conan the Barbarian is better than Conan the Barbarian at being Conan the Barbarian.
Let me further break it down for you. Continue reading