In Exactly Two Weeks The DOC WILDE KICKSTARTER Will Begin…

If you’ve been on this blog lately, odds are you’ve seen me talking about my relaunch of the Doc Wilde adventure series, and the Kickstarter project I’m formulating to help us get the series launched right.

As of today, there are exactly two weeks before the Kickstarter begins on Friday, March 30th. It will run through Saturday, April 28th.

It will allow folks to help us produce some really nice books, in exchange for perks ranging from having your name in the Acknowledgements up to autographed and numbered limited editions and exclusive editions of new Doc Wilde short adventures.

For the unfamiliar, the Doc Wilde stories depict the adventures of a modern day pulp hero and his swashbuckling kids. They draw on my lifelong love of pulp fiction and are full of humor and action and literary allusion. They are meant for kids and grown-ups alike, in the vein of something like The Incredibles or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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

Encompassed within the Kickstarter are three books to be released later this year, in both trade paperback and ebook formats: Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom in June, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull in August, and Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf in November. More Doc Wilde adventures will follow next year.

All the books will be fully illustrated and have gorgeous covers by Australian comic book master Gary Chaloner.

I hope you’ll consider joining us on our adventure. To make sure you get all the news as things start to happen, please feel free to use the “Follow via Email” form in the sidebar to the right. If you have any friends who might like the Doc Wilde stories, please share the link to this post. The more the merrier!

And if you’d like to try out some Wilde action, dive into the excerpts below:

Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull

Greg Bear Reviews JOHN CARTER

SF novelist Greg Bear has posted his review of John Carter, which is also a commentary on the treatment the film is getting from mainstream critics, as well as on pulp fiction’s place in our culture. I’ve spliced in a bit below. The whole thing is a very good read, so you should read it…click here to do so.

And y’know, much has been made of Disney not calling the flick John Carter of Mars, but I think they truly missed a bet by not calling it John Carter and The Princess of Mars. That would have captured its science fantasy elements, its romanticism, and the fact that it has an honest-to-Barsoom new Disney princess in it. And a truly capable, heroic princess at that. Of course, Disney completely flubbed the marketing on the film, and now they’re suffering for it.

Without “A Princess of Mars” there would be no “Star Wars” or “Avatar,” of course. There would be fewer names on the modern map of Mars–and likely far fewer engineers and scientists to build those space ships and shoot them into the outer void.

In 1911, Burroughs was happy to incorporate the latest speculations about Mars–derived from the work of the immensely popular astronomer Pervical Lowell, and not thoroughly discredited until the 1960s. To those speculations he added a bit of H. Rider Haggard, a bit of Kipling, and a bit of the then-popular Graustarkian romance, where a brave commoner is launched into royal complications in an exotic mythical land.

George Lucas, decades later, owed a tremendous debt to Burroughs. Tatooine is much like Mars, with wonderfully strange creatures, suspended racers, and huge flying barges with swiveling deck guns.

And no wonder. Leigh Brackett, co-screen-writer on The Empire Strikes Back, often wrote pulp tales herself–some set on Mars–and did it quite well.

In turn, she inspired Ray Bradbury to revisit and revise Burroughs’s Mars in The Martian Chronicles, an enduring classic. Brackett went on to craft screenplays based on the pulp tradition that the Times still finds so discreditable: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. She co-wrote that screenplay with William Faulkner. Faulkner sold his first short story to a pulp magazine, Weird Tales. So did Tennessee Williams. And I strongly suspect they all read and enjoyed, in their younger years at least, A Princess of Mars.

We would all be the poorer for not allowing future generations of young readers a chance to fall into Burrough’s amazing pulp story of adventure and imagination, still powerful and fun after all these years.

Free Fiction Friday: More SKULLDUGGERY!!! More WILDE Action!!!

This week’s free fiction is chapters 11 and 12 of my serialized hardboiled fantasy novel, SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES. ‘Tis a tangled web I’m starting to weave…

SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES

Also, we are now exactly two weeks away from the start of the Kickstarter project I’m putting together to relaunch my Doc Wilde pulp adventure series (which I had been publishing with Putnam, but have now taken independent).  The Kickstarter encompasses three books which will be released by the end of the year, in fully illustrated editions available both as ebooks and trade paperbacks.

As part of the run up to the actual project (which will run from Friday, March 30th thru Saturday, April 28th), I’m posting excerpts from the three novels. Last week, I  posted part of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, then followed it this week with the opening chapters of Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull. Monday I’ll post some of Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf. In the meantime, click below to check out the first two excerpts.

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

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

DOC WILDE AND THE MAD SKULL

PETA Kills Pets

See that picture up there? That’s representative of the good that the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) does in the world. When it comes to providing cleverly staged fap-material of celebrities, they’re very good.

Know what they’re also good at? Picking ridiculous battles, like trumpeting that Fishkill, New York should change the name of its town because the name was mean to fish. They are extremists, raging at humans for killing animals, eating animals, using animal products, training animals, exhibiting animals, even keeping animals for pets. They make a hell of a lot of money from people who contribute to their coffers because they simply equate PETA with, well, ethical treatment of animals. You know, kindness. Saving animal lives. That sort of thing.

But PETA are huge fucking hypocrites.

And they’re responsible for the cold-blooded slaughter of thousands of animals entrusted to them by people who don’t know any better.

A few weeks ago, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom reported that PETA slaughtered 96% of the stray dogs and cats it, ahem, rescued last year. Since 2005, PETA has killed over 90% of the animals delivered into its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed nearly 28,000 animals. As reported in the New York Post:

In 2010, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discovered that fully 84 percent of the strays taken in by PETA were killed within 24 hours.

No wonder: The report concluded that PETA’s headquarters “does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody.”

So, off they go to the gas chamber.

See? PETA sucks. Don’t give them any money. You can get a lot more info at the website www.petakillsanimals.com.

One Essential Way You Can Help Your Favorite Writers…

Writer Dougie Brimson has a post up on the importance of online reader reviews for writers:

As a professional writer of ebooks, whenever I release something new onto the market the promotion of that book falls not to the publisher as it used to, but to me as the author. As a consequence the normal routine is to bombard media outlets, social media, related websites and blogs in the hope that someone will help by providing some publicity.

This, as you can imagine, is an extremely important part of the publishing process because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good a book might be if no one knows about it no one will buy it! But this work can consume an extraordinary amount of time and whilst it can be fabulous fun, it can also prove to be both frustrating and soul destroying.

However, after a certain amount of time you have to get back to the actual process of writing which means that you have to let your latest stand on its merits and fend for itself. It’s at this point that all authors hope that their readers will kick in and take up the task of spreading the word on their behalf. Fundamental to that is the review.

Trust me, as a promotional tool online reviews really do work which is why all authors ask, plead and even beg their readers to post them. It isn’t that we want you to boost our self-esteem (nice though that is!) it’s because the simple truth of the matter is that nothing sells books like word of mouth and these days, that primarily means what readers have to say on the online outlets.

All this is very true. Even simply clicking the LIKE button on a book’s page on Amazon helps a bit, but reviews are essential. Even if a writer is published through a big publisher, that doesn’t mean their books are getting decent promotion, or any promotion at all (most often they’re not).

This is also a wonderful way to reward an author if you enjoy a book you didn’t actually buy, whether it’s checked out of the library, bought used, borrowed from a friend, or even pirated off the internet. They didn’t make anything off your read, but you may help sell a few more books for them, and that’s a pretty nice way of giving back.

You don’t even have to write a lengthy review. Just give it a star rating, write a few lines about what you thought of the book, and click LIKE if, indeed, you liked it.

Also, if you really like a book or an author, you may consider “rounding up” when you rate them, i.e if you figure the book is a 4.5 star book, give it the 5 star rating rather than the 4 star. This will help offset the people out there who will give a book 1 star because it has dirty words in it, or because Amazon sent them a damaged copy, or because it has characters whose politics don’t coincide with theirs, or who read a certain type of book and score it badly for being that type of book. You see these kind of reviews all the time: “I’m sure this is an excellent mystery, and it’s incredibly well-written with engaging characters. But I don’t like mysteries, so I’m giving it only 2 stars…”

I’m not asking you to misrepresent yourself. Just err on the side of kindness. That is someone’s baby you’re talking about…

Are Big Publishers Doing Their Jobs?

Writer Jami Gold has a provocative post on her blog about the fact that big publishers, often seen as the “gatekeepers” of literary quality, are more and more willing to allow books to appear under their auspices without proper quality control. “Who cares about quality writing anymore?” she asks, and uses as an example a current big release from Vintage Books which has been published in terrible need of a skilled editor’s guidance.

As she puts it in a comment below the post, “If publishers aren’t doing promotion or marketing, and now they aren’t doing editing and are ruining their reputation, what do they offer to writers that they can’t accomplish on their own?”

And there’s something to that.  Sloppy editing, celebrity books of hideous quality (contracted for ginormous amounts of money that could better be spent on worthy authors), ebooks released with major formatting errors, a tunnel vision mentality that leads them to release tons of the same ol’ same ol’ and not take risks…

Low or no advances. No promotional support. Lackluster editing. Fewer and fewer actual distribution channels and bookstores. And, of course, an institutionalized disdain for the authors, except those few who have become brand names.

If publishers are going to survive the Ebook Apocalypse, they really need to get their heads on straight and start thinking about what they can offer the folks who actually write their books, and how they can stay worthy of the trust that some people still have in them as gatekeepers. Because at the moment, they’re looking kinda bush league, while many capable self-publishers are looking more and more like the real deal.

Sex And The Single Pulp Hero

My pulp brother Barry Reese (author of The Rook series, among other things) has started a conversation at his blog on the subject of sex (and romance) in the pulps…

In the classic hero pulps, there wasn’t a whole lot of sex. You’d have the occasional lurid cover, with some scantily clad woman (usually with stockings showing) in distress while our hero moved to protect her but for the most part, guys like Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger were not very interested in knocking boots. Doc occasionally in later years would display a kind of boyish interest in the fairer sex and The Avenger’s love for his wife was constantly being referenced but even in the first book where you see The Avenger alongside his wife and daughter, you didn’t exactly get the image that they were passionate lovers. They were partners, friends and spouses, yes, but there was no sign of “heat” in the relationship.

There were some exceptions, of course. Jim Anthony was basically Doc Savage with a sex drive but by today’s standards, he was still a bit tame. In fact, the idea of Anthony was racier than the truth — he liked to lounge around at home in a speedo while working in the lab. Hell, what guy doesn’t?

The fantasy pulps (like Conan) got a lot of mileage out of ladies whipping one another and there was no doubt that Conan and others got into lusty embraces. But I’m focusing on the hero pulps because those were my favorites and that’s where most of the New Pulp writings out today fall into place.

So…

Now we’re in the age of New Pulp. Writers are now bringing in more modern ideas about race, gender relations, etc. into their pulp-inspired writings.

But we still don’t have much in the way of S-E-X. I’m not saying we *need* it, I’m just surprised there’s not more variety out there.

Sex and pulp fiction (in that order) are two topics I spend quite a bit of time thinking about, and I’ve given some thought to their interaction too. I commented on Barry’s post:

I’m with you 100%.

One of the things I enjoy about The Spider is the fact that you get the sense that not only are Dick and Nina  rabidly loyal and utterly romantically enraptured with each other, they’re fucking like bunnies. I was bugged by Doc Savage’s apparent pre-adolescent state even when I was reading the books as a kid, and it bugs me even more now.

In my Doc Wilde series, Doc is a widower, but over the course of the stories he will start to develop romantic connections again (indeed, we’ll see some of it in the second book). But he’s already a warmer, in every way more emotional, hero than his literary ancestor. And his parents are very old but still quite youthful, and enjoying each other just as much as The Spider and his lady. (And I’ve already made reference to the fact that the elder Wilde, the “original” Doc Wilde from the pulp era, used to be very stoic and humorless, but his wife opened him up emotionally, making him more loving and playful, and, frankly, human).

Making my characters as human as possible is very important to me, and the stolid sexlessness of heroes like Doc Savage (and even the skirt-chasing antics of his sidekicks, who acted like horny thirteen year olds) is, to me, one of the unfortunate failings of those tales I love so much. (It reached its nadir in the terrible seventies Doc Savage movie, in which the most romantic thing Doc says to the gorgeous jungle princess is “Monja, you’re a brick.”)  Sex, romance, emotion in general, are all very interesting to readers because they’re human themselves. And it’s hard to take a hero completely seriously if he’s unable to function fully as a grown-up in the emotional world.

Granted, with Doc Savage’s background as essentially a cloistered lab experiment, it does make sense that he may not be emotionally mature, though it would have been nice to see him undergo an emotional puberty through the years and become more fully adult.

Of course, this literary neutering of the heroes resulted from an attempt to pander to young readers, just as through editorial edict Doc Savage very early on stopped killing bad guys on his adventures. In his earliest exploits, he was a lot more pragmatic, taking down mooks when he had to, but very quickly they made it so that he never killed anyone, relying heavily on non-lethal methods and gear, though many a villain did bring on their own demise and Doc didn’t shed a tear for them. They did this for the kids. But in those early stories, there is a jagged vibrancy that goes away when Doc gets too pacifistic, and as a horny thirteen year old (and as a horny much older year old) I missed that.

Just as I kept wishing Doc would actually bed one of these perky beauties who threw themselves at him all the time. Didn’t have to see it in detail. Coulda happened off-screen. But it would have been nice to know, for instance, that he was getting his ashes hauled by Princess Monja every time he got down to Hidalgo…

Far as I’m concerned, maybe he didn’t let Lester Dent know, but that’s exactly what was happening.

Don’t Fear…The Banjo? (Song of the Week, 3/12/2012)

In honor of Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull (the second of the three pulp adventure novels encompassed in my upcoming Kickstarter project), which I will be posting an excerpt from today at 2 pm EST, here’s some deathly bluegrass, Cornbread Red covering Blue Oyster Cult’s classic “Don’t Fear The Reaper…”

Little, Big

Need a little perspective today? Want to get a sense of where you really are in the fullness of reality? Interested in learning all kinds of cool things?

The app I link to below, which allows you to zoom in to the teeny tiniest bit of quantum foam or out to the fullness of the entire universe is one of the most astonishingly elegant scientific gizmos I’ve ever seen. It’s worth spending some time with.

The Scale of the Universe 2

The Deepest Truth…

Neil DeGrasse Tyson offers his “most astounding fact” about us and the universe. In it are the roots of a true spirituality, a spirituality that isn’t blind to the sheer scope and wonder of life and nature and the universe itself, a spirituality that recognizes the importance of all things and a true understanding of their interconnections: science.

As above, so below.

Free Fiction Friday: SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES (Prologue thru Chapter 10)

Welcome to Free Fiction Friday. This is a day, usually Friday, when I will post some free fiction for you, if time and energy allows. I’m going to try to post as close to weekly as I can.

Today, and for a while, Free Fiction Friday will focus on the second novel I ever wrote, way back when I was a callow-yet-dashing twenty-one, a gritty and dark fantasy epic titled Skullduggery, A Tale of Thieves. I started to post it a couple of years ago and didn’t get very far, but this time I’m going to make it a priority. (For the interesting history of the novel, you can read my original blog post or the Introduction page at the site I’ve built to give the book a home).

Drogarth.

The name alone conjures dark images of spilling blood, of blackest magiks, of lawlessness and chaos. Throughout the kingdom children hear stories of this evil city and are told they must never go there — and they wish with all their hearts that one day they will. For children are the custodians of wishes, of dreams; they know in their hearts, in their souls, that only in the darkest of pits can the brightest adventures be found…

As of today, the prologue (called “Exploratory”) and the first ten chapters of Skullduggery are posted. Click below to find yourself in the violent streets of Drogarth, the City of Thieves…

SKULLDUGGERY

While we’re talking about free fiction, you might also check out the excerpt I posted yesterday from my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. This is the first book of a series of adventures that I had been publishing with Penguin/Putnam, but have now taken independent and will be launching a Kickstarter project soon to restart the series in nicer, fully-illustrated editions (for more on that, go here). You can read the beginning of Frogs at the link below, and I’ll be posting excerpts from the two novels that follow it (Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull and Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf) in the next couple of weeks as we get closer to the March 30th beginning of the Kickstarter.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

Read Some Of DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

As promised earlier, here is the opening of my pulp adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, the first adventure of Dr. Spartacus Wilde and his swashbuckling kids Brian and Wren. As you read this, understand that the book is currently going through a polish and extra edit, so neither this nor the original text of the edition published earlier by Putnam is exactly as it will appear in the improved, fully-illustrated re-release  of the book this June.

In April, I’ll be running a Kickstarter project encompassing this novel and its two follow-ups (which I’d originally contracted to Putnam, but now am publishing independently for reasons detailed here), all of which will be released this year. Next week I’ll post the first peek anyone has seen of the long-awaited second book, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, and the week after a glimpse of Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf, which Putnam thought too scary in its original form. I like scary and won’t be changing it.

The art you’ll see below (as well as the early draft cover above) was done by comic book artist Gary Chaloner before I’d even sold the first book to Putnam, in the hopes the book would be illustrated by him when published. That didn’t work out originally, but now Gary’s wonderful take on the Wildes will be an integral part of the series. This isn’t finished art, or necessarily images that will make it into the final book, but it will give you a taste of what’s to come… Continue reading

The Heart of Storytelling

Andrew Stanton, the Academy Award-winning writer/director of Wall-E and Finding Nemo (and director of the new epic science fantasy adventure John Carter, which is apparently pretty damned wonderful) gave a great TED talk last month on the heart and soul of telling stories. It’s very entertaining and insightful and particularly valuable for the writers among us…

In Constant Sorrow Through His Days… (Song of the Week, 3/8/2012)

Strugglin’ on…always laughing…

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
(Tennyson)

KICKSTARTER NEWS: DOC WILDE ADVENTURES

The fun with this book starts with the front cover and does not stop until the very last page!…It was perfect. Fast paced, fun, entertaining…There was also a touching family quality to the whole thing that was priceless. It was one of those rare books that leaves you feeling really good once it is done.    —Old Bat’s Belfry on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

As I announced last month, I am no longer with G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and am instead taking my Doc Wilde adventure series independent (I go into the reasons and a lot more detail here). I have regained all rights to the work and will be relaunching the series with great new covers and interior art by comic book great Gary Chaloner. The first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, will see its re-release in improved form in June, the long-awaited Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull will follow in August, and Doc Wilde and The Dance of the Werewolf will appear in November or early December. More books will follow next year. The books will all be fully illustrated and available in both ebook and trade paperback formats.

I’m putting together a Kickstarter project which will allow supporters to get in on the ground floor and be a part of the Doc Wilde relaunch, and will be offering rewards ranging from a thank you on the acknowledgement pages of the books to signed and numbered limited editions to new additional Doc Wilde stories in exclusive editions. I’m still working out the details, but the plan is to begin the Kickstarter on Friday, March 30th and have it end on Saturday, April 28th.

Daring adventure! Dastardly villains! Climactic cliffhangers!…Byrd updates the old movie serials genre, populates his story with an adventure-seeking family that brings to mind superhero versions of Steve Irwin and his children, and dusts the whole thing with Indiana Jones–style searches for magical artifacts. Oh, and he adds frogs, lots and lots of frogs…     —Booklist on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

For the unfamiliar, the Doc Wilde stories depict the adventures of a modern day pulp hero and his swashbuckling kids. They draw on my lifelong love of pulp fiction and are full of humor and action and literary allusion. They are meant for kids and grown-ups alike, in the vein of something like The Incredibles or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As we approach the Kickstarter start at the end of this month, I’ll keep you updated, and will give you a taste of each of the three books. (To make sure you get the latest, you can click the “Follow” button in the sidebar to the right).  Later today, watch for an excerpt from Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

This is good, heady stuff. The writing flows beautifully, with occasional forays into laugh-out-loudness…The science is artfully articulated and seamlessly stitched into the fabric of the story. There are good guys and bad guys, car chases, cliffhangers, betrayals, action sequences to rival Indiana Jones, and an explosion of frogs that defies taxonomy…    —Ideomancer Speculative Fiction on Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

A Return to SKULLDUGGERY (A Free Serialized Novel by Tim Byrd)

Drogarth.

The name alone conjures dark images of spilling blood, of blackest magiks, of lawlessness and chaos. Throughout the kingdom children hear stories of this evil city and are told they must never go there — and they wish with all their hearts that one day they will. For children are the custodians of wishes, of dreams; they know in their hearts, in their souls, that only in the darkest of pits can the brightest adventures be found…

A couple of years ago (oddly enough, exactly two years ago, to the day, as I type this, now that I check), I started to post my novel Skullduggery, A Tale of Thievesas a free serialized novel at its own site. Then, life happened, and the project very quickly faltered.

Today, I’m pleased to renew my commitment to making this book available, and there are several new chapters up. I’m going to try to put up at least some new material weekly from now on, which I’ll announce here on my blog (probably on Fridays, click the “Follow” button in the sidebar to the right if you want to make sure to get updates).

Click below to join me on this dark adventure…

SKULLDUGGERY, A TALE OF THIEVES

Putting Her Best Feet Forward…

In mid-December, I posted “Spontaneous Me” by fiddler Lindsey Stirling as the Song of the Week. Her music is vibrant and Ms. Stirling is elfin and limber and full of energy. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen her perform.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m not getting all of her appeal, however. Ever since I posted that video, every day I get hits on my blog using the search terms “Lindsey Stirling feet” and “Lindsey Stirling barefoot.” I think she’s fetching from head-to-toe, but apparently some folks think she’s particularly fetching from heel-to-toe.

Which is fine. If you like feet, I can see how a fast-on-her-feet hot violinist might appeal to you. We all like what we like. So whether you like Lindsey for her feet, her delightful music and dancing, or her vivacious perkitude, I’m gonna post another video for you. It’s pretty awesome.

So is she.