Free Fiction Friday: Rapiers In The Rain In SKULLDUGGERY!!!

 Because of things I explained this morning, this week’s Friday falls on Saturday.

Of course, the very week I started doing this, I did say that Friday usually falls on Friday. I did foresee the need for flexibility. I’m very wise.

Just a token taste of free fiction this week, chapter 14 of my serialized hardboiled fantasy novel, SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES, in which Darton squares off with another swordsman for some frantic combat in the rain…

SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES

As always, keep in mind that this is a first draft of a novel that I wrote nearly thirty years ago. I’m proud of it, and think it’s loaded with cool stuff, but it is a tad rough hewn.

Also, the Kickstarter project relaunching my Doc Wilde pulp adventure series (which I had been publishing with Putnam, but have now taken independent) is now LIVE!.  It will run until midnight (PST, because I wanted to give the left coasters a fair shot) Saturday, April 28th; it encompasses three books which will be released by the end of the year, in fully illustrated editions available both as ebooks and trade paperbacks.

It’s been only about thirty hours since the project launched and we’re already at 46% of our minimum goal. And the very highest pledge level, which  was limited to only three people because it offers three one-of-a-kind collectibles, already has two pledges. So if you’re at all interested in getting the maximum rewards we have to offer, you might take a look over there soon. (The second highest level, which is limited to four slots, is still open, and there are no limitations on how many folks can pledge at all the other levels).

I hope you’ll get Wilde with us…

For Your Batmanny Weekend Enjoyment…

I failed to post this week’s “Free Fiction Friday” post yesterday because I was so swamped with everything I needed to do for the Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde Kickstarter launch. For the untold millions who only bought a computer so they could get their weekly fix, I’m sorry.

The Doc Wilde relaunch is off to a great start; just over twenty hours in, we’re at 26% of our funding target (which is the minimum we need for the Kickstarter to succeed, not a maximum amount for the relaunch). If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll visit the link above to see what’s up.

As a special treat to make up for my Free Fiction lapse (which I shall endeavor to remedy later today), I offer you this incredibly endearing and goofy piece of Batmania that someone put a helluva lot of time and money and work into…and which kinda makes me think Bat-Mite is around somewhere… Continue reading

The Astonishing Adventures Of Doc Wilde Kickstarter Is Now LIVE!!!

Click The Pic To Go To Kickstarter!

And, we’re flyin‘…

The Doc Wilde Kickstarter has officially begun:

The Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde

I invite you to click the link above and take a look at the cool rewards we came up with for each pledge level. Watch the amazing video, in which I seem subtly unable to wear a shirt correctly and show, once and for all, that, videogenically speaking, I have a great face for literature.

Kickstarter is a system created to make it possible for people all over the world to help creators fund cool projects; in exchange, the supporters get cool stuff and opportunities to interact in assorted ways with the creators. The creator posts a funding goal, and if the goal is met then the project succeeds and the pledge money goes to the creator. But if the goal is not met, the project fails and no money is exchanged. It’s an all-or-nothing system.

I’ve set the project goal at $3,000, basically a grand each for the three novels the Kickstarter is meant to launch. But please understand that this is a minimum goal; once it’s met, the project is a success, but people can still join in (and hopefully will) at any point during the time the project is active. The more the merrier, and the more funds we raise the  easier it will be to produce not only these first three volumes but more books in the series.

The project will run until Saturday, April 28th, at midnight PST.

If you plan to pledge, please do it as early as you’re able. Launching strong is very important for a project because many possible supporters look for projects to support with a high probability of success. If the project is already well on its way to hitting its funding target early, that’s a good sign it will succeed.

If you pledge, we sincerely thank you. Welcome to the pulpy, perilous world of Doc Wilde and his amazing family!

Kara (A Brilliant, Touching Science Fiction Short Film)

This amazing short film was made by the video game developer Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain) to showcase their latest game technology. In the process they created a short piece of science fiction that’s both gorgeous to the eye and very moving…

The Big Reveal: The New Cover Art For DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM!!!

 

With just under twenty-four hours before the Doc Wilde Kickstarter project goes live (and I have to tell you, I keep feeling like clicking that launch button early), I’ve decided to go ahead and let you see the great new cover Gary Chaloner has designed for the new, much-improved edition of the first novel.

It incorporates elements from his original mock-up, but does so much more…these are the Wildes I’ve always seen in my head.

Back In The Saddle (Song of the Week, 3/28/2012)

After lots of scrambling and last minute concerns, the Doc Wilde Kickstarter project is ready. Now I just have to click the launch button at noon on Friday and we’ll be live.

Year of the Dragon, baby.

The Doc Wilde Adventures Kickstarter Begins This Friday (3/30/12)

It’s getting down to the wire, folks…

This Friday, “The Astonishing Adventures of Doc Wilde” project will go live on Kickstarter.

“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

The Doc Wilde stories are my tribute to the pulp stories I loved growing up, and still love today. Like The Incredibles or the Indiana Jones films, they are suitable for kids and adults both,  full of action and humor and weird science and occult menace and lots of derring-do.

I published the first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, with Penguin/Putnam in 2009; it did very well both critically and commercially, so they asked for more books. But in the three years since, the digital publishing revolution has opened up many opportunities for an author that traditional publishing doesn’t offer, and I decided to go independent with the series.

The Kickstarter project will encompass three Doc Wilde novels, all to be released by year’s end. The books will be available in trade paperback and ebook formats. They will all have gorgeous covers and interior illustrations by the great Aussie comic book artist Gary Chaloner. (At the top of this post you can see the new logo he’s designed — he’s still painting the rest of the cover, which will hopefully be ready in time to debut when the Kickstarter begins).

I’ve regained my rights to Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom and it will reappear in a much improved new edition in June, featuring not only the new artwork inside and out by Gary, but my “author’s cut” preferred edit and a new short Doc Wilde adventure.

In August, we’ll release Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, the long-awaited second book, in which the Wildes face a mind-blowing mystery and a truly bizarre villain.

In November the third adventure will appear, Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf, a dark tale featuring lycanthropes and witchcraft. At least two more Doc Wilde adventures will follow in 2013.

(If you follow the links above you can read excerpts from each of the books).

For those who may not be familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a modern patronage system for creators in which they present something they’d like to do and supporters are able to pledge funds to help them do it, in return for rewards varying from big thank yous to copies of the items created to interactions of various sorts with the creators. The creator posts his intentions and a target amount of money he is trying to raise; if, within the time the Kickstarter runs, enough money is pledged to hit that target, then the Kickstarter succeeds. If the target amount is not met, the Kickstarter has failed and no money is exchanged.

The target I’m setting for this project is $3,000. But that’s a minimum goal, not a maximum; once it’s reached, the Kickstarter continues and new people can continue to get involved. The funds will go toward art and book design and editing, as well as paying for the writing. Any extra funds will be applied to producing more books down the line.

I’ve come up with reward levels for pledges ranging from $5 for an ebook copy of one of the novels and the supporter’s name on the book’s acknowledgments page, up to $400 for signed limited editions of the books along with a bunch more cool stuff. There are only three slots available at the highest level, and four at the second highest, because they include exclusive one-of-a-kind rewards, so those are first come, first served.

I plan to launch the Kickstarter at noon EST this Friday, March 30th.

If you’re looking for adventure…it’s time to GO WILDE!

“It’s 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.”
                                                          —The Baryon Review

If We Shadows Have Offended…

So I lost another friend on Facebook.

He’s a writer, and a fellow pulp fan, and I’d enjoyed knowing and occasionally interacting with him. I liked seeing what he had to say, and what he had going on.

I knew he was a conservative, while I am not. The fact that he holds to certain ideas didn’t make me think less of him as a person, it just made me wonder how he could reconcile those ideas with observable reality. But we all have our filters and our failings and our blindnesses, and I hoped that he, and the many other right-wing friends I have, wouldn’t allow disagreement with ideas to lead to discord between us as people. That has happened, of course, and people have fled my friends list over such issues, and even issues more trivial. The game writer S. John Ross unfriended me and actually blocked me on Facebook for a single polite comment disagreeing with his opinion of Johnny Cash. Talk about the courage of your convictions.

My attitude is usually that a friend lost in this way is no friend worth having, and I tend to operate on the principle of “If I offend you, that probably just makes us even.”

But anyway, I hadn’t seen anything from this friend for a while, and I grew concerned that maybe he was having health problems or something. So I visited his page, where I found that we were no longer friends. I naturally suspected the reasons for this, but I sent him a message and asked why he’d unfriended me, telling him that if I had offended him it hadn’t been because I intended to.

This was his response: Continue reading

Are There Werewolves In Your Werewolf Book?

See that awesome Doc Savage cover up there, painted by the incredible James Bama? As a kid who loved Doc Savage stories and also loved werewolves more than any other monster, this cover grabbed me by the very soul when I saw the slender paperback on the rack.

And it’s a pretty good tale. It’s even an important tale in the Doc Savage canon because it’s the story that introduces Doc’s gorgeous and scrappy cousin, Pat Savage. (Who writer Lester Dent intended to start her own detective agency, but his editors thought that was a bit much for a girl, so she got to run a beauty salon instead, though she did go adventuring with her cousin and his crew).

There is one big, annoying, pain-in-the-ass thing about Brand of the Werewolf, though. You know that savage beast throttling Doc in the image at the top of this post? You know, the werewolf? Not actually in the book. There are no lycanthropes of any sort in this book. The “brand” from the title is actually a wolf-head symbol marking some crates, if I remember right. Exciting.

It’s my understanding that, because of that cover up there, this book became the bestselling Doc Savage novel Bantam ever printed. And I’m pretty sure many of the folks who bought it on the strength of that painting were as disappointed as I was to reach the last page and never actually encounter a werewolf.

This year, I’m relaunching my Doc Wilde adventure series, which pays strong tribute to the Doc Savage stories I grew up on. We’re coming out with three books by the end of the year (a Kickstarter so folks can help us with the project and get cool stuff will start next Friday, March 30th), and the third book is titled Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf. And yes, I have already had Doc Savage fans ask me if there will actually be werewolves in my werewolf book.

Hell yes there are gonna be werewolves in my werewolf book.

Free Fiction Friday: A Gypsy Girl Faces A Tough Choice In SKULLDUGGERY! Doc Wilde Finds Murder In The Woods!

Just a taste of free fiction this week, chapter 13 of my serialized hardboiled fantasy novel, SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES, in which Aubrey faces a hard choice after the supernatural storm that resulted the last time she tried a tarot reading…

SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES

Also, we are now only one week away from the start of the Kickstarter project relaunching my Doc Wilde pulp adventure series (which I had been publishing with Putnam, but have now taken independent).  The Kickstarter will run from Friday, March 30th through Saturday, April 28th; it encompasses three books which will be released by the end of the year, in fully illustrated editions available both as ebooks and trade paperbacks.

The past three weeks I have posted excerpts from each novel, and you can read them at the links below.

I hope you’ll join me on my Kickstarter adventure…

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

DOC WILDE AND THE MAD SKULL

DOC WILDE AND THE DANCE OF THE WEREWOLF

As Promised, Springsteen…

In my post about the Springsteen show last Sunday (on my birthday), I said I was waiting for some decent videos to appear online, and I’d share some when they did. Well, I just dug around a bit in some of the stuff that’s been posted, and nothing I’ve seen so far has really captured the show well enough. I had much better luck the last time I saw him, when some of the smartphone footage posted was good enough to share (here and here).

I did find some good footage from the SXSW show three days earlier, and in order to give you a better sense of what the concerts are like, I’m going to share those, as well as Bruce’s live debut of the song “Wrecking Ball” at Giant’s Stadium, which was about to be torn down (and which is the subject of the song). I’d like to show actual performances from the show I saw, but whatcha gonna do?

After the songs, though, check out the keynote speech Bruce gave at SXSW. It’s brilliant. Funny, engaging, informative, musical, and awesome. If you haven’t seen it, you really, really should. Especially if you’re a musician. Or a writer.

The JOHN CARTER You’d Have Wanted To See

There’s an excellent column here exploring the many insipid and wrongheaded ways that Disney dropped the ball, or flat-out abandoned the ball, with John Carter and ultimately fucked over its filmmakers as well as the many fans who would have gotten to enjoy sequels to the film that will now never be made. I definitely recommend it.

I think one of the biggest contributing factors was that the executives who started the project had all been canned by the time it came to actually prepare it for release. And the new executives, in no way responsible for the material and not wanting the guys they replaced to have a hit, threw it under the bus. Now they can point to John Carter as a huge flop and say, “See? Aren’t you glad  we’re in charge now?” This kind of pettiness is all too common in Hollywood (and in publishing, for that matter).

One of the results of this crappy attitude was a marketing campaign that hit no high points, that did nothing to capitalize on any of the selling points of the film (Two-time Academy Award winning Pixar director! Pulitzer/Hugo/Nebula-winning novelist as screenwriter! From the creator of Tarzan! A classic book which inspired many classics in turn finally on the big screen!). Even removing the “Of Mars” from the title stripped it of cool; aside from SF fans, who the fuck knows who John Carter is, these days, except maybe the boyish doctor on ER? As I’ve said before, it should have been called John Carter and The Princess of Mars, which incorporates the title of the original book, captures the pulpish science fantasy romanticism of the piece, and indicates that the film offers up not just a dashing hero but a cool new Disney princess who can actually kick ass.

Anyway. They blew it. But if you want to see what the marketing department could have done, check out this trailer put together by a freaking fan, who didn’t have Disney’s millions and supposed marketing savvy to draw on…then watch the cheestastic trailer actually released by Disney (which, among its many sins, stupidly shows Carter engaging in over-the-top physical feats that look ridiculous because they give them no fucking context).

A Supernatural Song of the Week (3/22/2012)

I’ve been mainlining Supernatural on Netflix the past several weeks and am about halfway through the sixth season now. And you know what? Officially one of my favorite shows ever.

Where other shows with complicated mythologies dig themselves deeper and deeper and ultimately flounder (and sometimes go out not with a whimper, but with a Hallmark card, like Lost), Supernatural dances with its mythology. Six seasons in and they’re still surprising me, still coming up with twists that work, still creeping me out, still making me laugh (thank you, Ben Edlund!), still making me care more and more for Sam and Dean and their oft-doomed cohorts.

Other than Firefly and Fringe, I can’t think of many shows that have delivered unto me so much delight since Buffy and Angel went away.

This week’s tune is for my fellow  Supernatural junkies. If you haven’t watched the show, do not watch this, as it is jam-packed with spoiler. There are plenty of other videos on YouTube of “Carry On My Wayward Son” you can watch without ruining the show for yourself if you’re in the mood for Kansas…

(UPDATE: Goddamnit. Embedding disabled. Assholes. Oh well, it’s worth the click through…FURTHER UPDATE: Adding another video below for folks who don’t want to spoil the show…)

How Reading Deepens Your Mind And Makes You A More Complete Person

“Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.”

That’s the takeaway from a great column in the New York Times which summarizes current neuroscience research into the effects of reading, and fiction, on the brain. It’s fascinating stuff, going into how the brain actually seems to experience sensations and actions that are read in much the same way that it experiences actual sensations and actions. This means, within your mind, as you read fiction you are not simply imagining what’s happening on the page, you are literally experiencing it on a deep level. And it can help you develop more fully as a person.

None of this will come as much of a surprise to anyone who already appreciates the power of story, or its essential place in our psyches, nor to anyone familiar with the effects of visualization exercises on physical activities like sports, in which a certain technique can be practiced in the mind with measurable improvement in the actual activity. But it certainly is a reinforcement of our need for narrative as a tool for not only adding enjoyment to our lives, but for deepening them.

There’s are reasons that people who read tend to be the people most worth knowing, and it’s not just that they’re better educated (though that is overwhelmingly true).

Researchers have discovered that words describing motion also stimulate regions of the brain distinct from language-processing areas. In a study led by the cognitive scientist Véronique Boulenger, of the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France, the brains of participants were scanned as they read sentences like “John grasped the object” and “Pablo kicked the ball.” The scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body’s movements. What’s more, this activity was concentrated in one part of the motor cortex when the movement described was arm-related and in another part when the movement concerned the leg.

The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.

The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters.

Fascinating stuff, and that’s just a taste. You can (and should; I’m always amazed at how few people actually click through to see a recommended piece) read the rest here.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, and would like some Oscar-winning, funny, moving,  bookish whimsy, check out the marvelous video I link to here.

Sluts and Stuff

I just read “The problem with slut-bashing (or: I was a teenage dinner whore. kidding.),” a wonderful blog post by Justine Musk on sexual politics and language. You should check it out.

Here’s a piece:

In her book THE ART OF WAR FOR WOMEN, Chin-ning Chu writes:

“Women seem to have fallen prey to something I call the crabs-in-the-pot syndrome. When you cook crabs, you don’t have to place the lid on the boiling pot because the crabs keep one another from getting out. As one crab gets near the top and attempts to climb over the edge, another crab will naturally put it down in its own attempt to escape. As a result, all the crabs go to their collective doom.”

This is the problem whenever a woman defends herself by saying “I am not a slut.”

By declaring that you are not a slut, you are saying that some women are sluts; you are drawing a line between yourself and them. Except it’s a line that can’t actually exist, because all it does is reinforce the very idea that you’re trying to fight.

As soon as you buy into a reality that brands any woman a ‘slut’, you buy into a belief system that attacks femalehood itself. This includes you. You sacrifice someone else in your effort to escape the boiling water, but you can’t get out of the pot.

Bein’ Green

Tim Byrd
8:00am (about an hour ago)

Start drinkin’ and fightin’. Dance like you’re stompin’ a swarm of bugs. Eat some cabbage. Write some genius poetry. Have freckles and a burn instead of a tan. Keep drinkin’. Wonder where the feckin’ snakes went.

In honor of St. Paddy’s today and the fact that I get to see Springsteen tomorrow (Bruce was nice enough to come to town expressly for my birthday)…