DOC WILDE: Building A Better Hummingbird

For those who are curious about what’s happening with the relaunch of my Doc Wilde series (particularly our wonderful Kickstarter supporters, who have I told you are wonderful?), I figured it was time for another update. The first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, was scheduled for release last month. Unfortunately, Gary Chaloner, artist extraordinaire and official Doc Wilde visual wizard, got caught up in another (more immediately lucrative) project which dragged on and on and ate a lot of the time he’d been planning to put into working on the Wildes.

Now he’s hard at work on Frogs of Doom (as well as the cover painting for the second book, which is looking awesome), and it was worth the wait. Gary gets the Wildes. Gary is also damn good at what he does.

I’m enjoying watching the visual pieces for Frogs as he develops them, and figured I’d share a bit of the behind-the-scenes interplay between artist and author so you can see some of what’s going on, and get an idea of the process.

Understand that the interaction between us is atypical for publishing, and one of the benefits I’ve gained by leaving big publishing and going indie; I have more dialogue with Gary about specific things like what a particular dart gun looks like than I had with anyone at Putnam over an entire book cover. And I never had any contact, at all, with their actual cover artist, which led to a nice cover with characters who didn’t quite look right and details that were off.

Gary’s more than a hired hand on these books, he’s a creative partner. He makes sure of the details, and he also brings his own vision which enhances mine. When you see his art, you can be sure that not only are you seeing what I, as the author, want you to see, often you’re seeing something I like even better than what was in my head when I was writing.

Which brings me to the ColibriContinue reading

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Worst Pizza Place EVER (Rocco’s NY Pizza, Decatur, GA)

Are two bad calzones worth a blog post?

Not really. But those two calzones were just the beginning of a ridiculously annoying experience with Rocco’s NY Pizza at 2064 North Decatur Road, Decatur, GA, and ultimately I just had to share and warn the world about this place. Continue reading

Dear CIA and Fearstream Media…

Dear CIA and Fearstream Media,

I am a wacko and an idiot and I have a lot of weapons training. You should be relieved that I am no longer in a position of influence within the military, but you should probably start watching me very closely anyway because I might snap at any moment and guns and other murderous equipment are very easy to get in our wonderful country.

Sincerely,

Crazy Eye Dude

Decatur, Town of Trees and Music… (SongS of the Week, 7/23/2012)

A special treat for song of the week this week: a bunch of songs.

My hometown, Decatur, Georgia, is not only an island of bright blue in a state of murky red (bright both in the sense of shining and in the sense of intellect), not only home to quite a few writers other than me (including our new Poet Laureate of the United States, Natasha Trethewey) and to the largest independent book festival in the country, but is a wellspring of incredible music. So this week, I figured I’d offer a selection of tunes from acts who either live here or launched from here (usually from Eddie’s Attic, one of the finest live music clubs in the country).

Some of these acts are known all over the world. Some are known only to specific audiences. A couple haven’t even hit their mid-teens yet and hopefully have great careers ahead of them. All of them are incredible talents.

I’ll probably add videos to this playlist over time, but there are 29 to start with, so come on in, Decatur’s fine.

Thoughts on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (No Spoilers)

Walking out of Reign of Fire in 2002, two years before casting for Batman Begins took place, I announced that Christian Bale should be Batman. When he was actually cast, I was naturally pleased, and have loved his performance as Bruce Wayne from the first frame.

Bale captures the surface of the character, the handsome, athletic leading man who can wear the costume well (and has a square enough jaw that he doesn’t need a prosthetic chin to look right in the mask, as Michael Keaton did). But he also masterfully portrays the complexity, and torment, of Bruce Wayne, and over the course of the films we see him struggle in very human ways with the life he has chosen. It’s not as simple as being tragic or sad or brooding, or dynamic and intense and implacable. Bale’s Batman is real.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Bale shows us something truly surprising for a big screen superhero movie: he shows us not only Bruce Wayne’s tragedy and pain, but his frailty. His Batman is a force of nature, but he is also a man who is scarred and beaten by his experiences and by his age. And that makes his battles, and his triumphs and defeats, resonate all the more. Continue reading

Honeysuckle Homecoming (Song of the Week, 7/19/2012)

Back home in Georgia after a vacation, of sorts. There’s a lot wrong with my home state, particularly politically, but a lot to love as well, especially about my town, Decatur.

Anyway, I had this tune playing in my head as I rode an interminable bus back from elsewhere…

This Is Why I Don’t Like You

Last night, I saw that I was going to lose another friend.

This was vexing, but not as vexing as it might have been. The friend is a friend on Facebook, a friend I have some positive feelings about, but also a friend I don’t actually know, even by the standards of social media. She’s a writer, and I’ve enjoyed her posts and had an occasional bit of casual interplay with her, but that’s about it. So, little lost, except perhaps the opportunity to actually become friends down the line through further interaction.

The reason I’m losing her as a Facebook friend? Because she’s switching from her personal account, which is limited to 5,000 friends, to a fan page, which has no such limits. By doing this, she opens up her page to many more potential readers she can talk to, and hopefully sell books to, which is completely understandable.

The thing is, the key words in that last sentence are “talk to.” She can talk to them. And when she does, they can even respond, getting into pleasant chats on her page about whatever it is she wanted to post about. Nice, right?

Fuck that.

What’s lost by doing this is the very thing that elevates Facebook to something more than solipsistic whining and self promotion: community. My writer friend is removing herself from the community of friends and acquaintances she has built so far in order to better advertise her brand. Before making this change, she could see the posts made by all her friends, and they could see hers, and many a discussion could occur. Now, community dialogue will be replaced with authorial monologue.

Her current friends will be automatically converted into fans. Facebook will add her page to the things they have “Liked” without letting them know it’s doing so, or that there has been a change. They’ll still see posts from the writer in their feeds, as if she is still their friend, but she’ll see nothing they post unless they comment on the things she posts on her page. They will be diminished from equals to advertising targets who’ve been opted in without their consent.

Me, I’ll probably un-Like her. Nothing against her, but I accepted her friendship in the first place not because I’m a fan, but because she was a peer I thought I might like and learn something from. I thought she might become an actual friend. It happens. Now, I’m forced to be a fan, and as interesting as her posts might be at times, apparently my posts, and the posts of all her other friends, are worthless to her. Frankly, I’m on Facebook for dialogue, not monologue.

I interact daily with people who found me through my writing, and with writers I’ve been reading most of my life, people who entertained me even as they taught me bit by bit via osmosis how to write. Some of them have become pretty good virtual friends, commenting frequently on my posts even as I comment on theirs. Am I interested in the latest news about their work? Yep. But that’s not the gold in them thar Facebook hills. The gold is the friendship, not the marketing.

The irony is that not only is there a better way to deal with Facebook’s lousy friends list limitation, but switching to a fan page is going to actually narrow the field of contact she’s going to achieve with her fans.

If she’s at the friends limit, all she has to do is enable Subscriptions to her account. This would allow an unlimited number of fans to subscribe and follow her posts, just as they’ll be doing on her fan page, but it would keep her current friends list as is and fully interactive. And subscribers would all see everything she wants them to see.

By switching to  a fan page, however, she makes herself subject to Facebook’s latest innovation, which is severely limiting the number of fans who actually see any post she makes and then charging her an elevated fee structure so that more of her fans will see her posts. She’s giving up her community of friends and fans to instead pay Facebook to advertise to her fans.

Have I said “fuck that” yet? Well, I ‘m saying it again.