FROGS OF DOOM! (ABC Wednesday, 2/19/14)

Frog of Doom

Lyonesse, Doc Wilde’s manor, was immense and imposing.

Its structure was an odd mix of gothic castle, log cabin, and Art Deco glass and steel, with an enormous white ash tree rising through its architectural core like Yggdrasil, the sacred World Tree of Norse myth. It sat on a high wooded hill eighteen miles outside the city limits of New York, a mighty guardian watching over the land.

Doctor Spartacus Wilde had designed Lyonesse, and oversaw its construction. He took its name from Arthurian legend: Lyonesse was the mystic island of Sir Tristan’s birth, a sunken land lost beneath the waves somewhere off the coast of Cornwall. Now, this modern Lyonesse was internationally renowned as the fantastic home and headquarters of the world’s greatest adventurer.

Half a mile from the hill on which the manor stood, a faint dirt track branched off the road into deep woods, ending at a well-camouflaged cave which penetrated deep into the bedrock beneath the rugged hillscape. This passage led to a spectacular underground bunker in which Doc Wilde stored his amazing assortment of vehicles.

As early evening twilight painted the hills above, an elegant jet-black automobile with three headlights zoomed from the bunker, eerily silent but for the crunch of tires on the gravelly cave floor. This muscular rocket of a car was a 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Only 51 of them had ever been made, and only 48 remained in existence. Some were in museums. Some were with wealthy collectors. They were virtually impossible to acquire.

Doc Wilde had three.

The Tucker accelerated swiftly. A titanium wall loomed in its path, but the vehicle did not slow. Seconds before impact, the wall snapped open, locking shut again after the car was through. Every hundred yards another such gate barred the way, but allowed the Tucker to pass. These indestructible gates were just one of the many security measures protecting Lyonesse.

The unusual automobile shot from the cave onto the dirt track through the forest.

Doc Wilde had made some modifications to the three Tucker Torpedoes so they would be truly adventure-worthy. Their steel bodies were reinforced with a spray-on armor coating, the windows were unbreakable glass, and the tires made of rupture-proof polymer gels. The old gasoline engines were replaced with solar/hydrogen engines of Doc’s own invention, eliminating all polluting emissions. And running boards had been added along the sides.

When the weather was nice (and sometimes when it wasn’t, if time was short), Doc liked to ride outside the car on the running board. In times of emergency, this served the additional purpose of making Doc visible to law enforcement officials, who knew that if Doc Wilde was breaking traffic laws, it had to be for very good reason, so they would try to clear the way and offer any assistance he might require.

The weather was nice now, and Doc was out on the driver’s side running board, the wind blasting through his hair, his mighty arms holding tight. He wore a white safari shirt with epaulets on the shoulders, khaki cargo pants, and leather boots. Over his shirt he wore his field vest, brown and full of pockets holding numerous useful tools and gizmos he always took with him on his travels.

Brian and Wren rode in the Tucker’s backseat, wearing clothes identical to their dad’s. The Wildes called these outfits their “danger clothes.”

Behind the wheel was Doc’s driver and pilot, an Irishman named Declan mac Coul. Declan’s hair and beard were shaggy red, and while he was just a few inches taller than 5 feet, he weighed as much as Doc. He was like a short bear and all muscle. There were many mysteries about Declan mac Coul, but one thing they knew for sure was that he could always be counted on completely.

Next to Declan sat Phineas Bartlett in a dapper suit and derby hat, holding a cane with an ornate eagle’s head handle of purest silver.

Spraying dust, the Tucker veered from the dirt track onto the main road into town. Bartlett scowled at Declan. “Slow down now, you misbegotten ape.”

“Funny you callin’ me an ape, all natty in that monkey suit,” Declan replied. But he did slow to the speed limit, as they were no longer on Doc’s private land.

When Declan and Bartlett addressed one another, the two men’s voices oozed disgust and dislike. But actually, they were the greatest of friends.

Wren interrupted their sparring. “Declan? Bartlett? Do either of you know what Ophrys means?”

Brian shot her a look. The little trickster hadn’t forgotten their squabble.

Bartlett chuckled. “You’ll need to wait till Declan learns English before you start tormenting him with Ancient Greek. But Ophrys means ‘eyebrow,’ if I recall correctly,” which he did. Phineas Bartlett recalled everything correctly; he had an eidetic memory (often called a “photographic memory”), and had total recall of everything he’d ever read.

Wren grinned at her big brother. “Gotcha.”

Declan snorted. “You would know that.”

Bartlett smiled. “The benefits of a high-brow education.”

Wren grinned at Brian even more. He scowled and tried to ignore her.

Bartlett gazed benignly at Declan. “Aristotle tells us ‘Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living are to the dead.’”

Bartlett was familiar with lots of quotations.

“Well,” Declan said, “I reckon that means I’m superior to Aristotle, me bein’ alive and him bein’ dead. So why should I listen to him?”

Where’s Dad?!?” Wren suddenly cried. Startled, everyone glanced out the windows.

Doc Wilde was no longer on the running board. Continue reading

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New FROGS OF DOOM Review: “Tim Byrd is one heckuva author!”

A wonderful new reader review of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is up on Amazon:

Kudos Are well deserved!, February 11, 2014 *****For the uninitiated, the book is a fast-paced, cliffhanger-packed, pulp-style adventure story suitable for all ages. It’s also on sale in honor of Valentine’s Day through Sunday for only $3.99 (usual price: $6.99).

Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

Valentine’s Sale: DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM $3.99! (Three Bucks Off!)

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOMI love readers. I particularly love my readers, and I love getting more of them. So, in celebration of the upcoming Valentine’s holiday, a day dedicated to love, I am putting the digital version of my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom on sale through Valentine’s weekend, ending February 16 at midnight Eastern Time.

The sale price is just $3.99. Usual price is $6.99.

The book is an old-fashioned pulp adventure told through a modern lens, written for all ages; I hear from kids as young as eight, and grown-ups up into their eighties. It is fully illustrated by Australian comics whiz Gary Chaloner, and when I say fully illustrated, I mean it. There are a lot of cool pictures in this book. It is a labor of love, a celebration of pulp fiction, families, literature, and battles against armies of man-frogs out to destroy the world.

A Frog of Doom

The sale price is in effect at Amazon (Kindle) and at DriveThru Fiction (epub, mobi, and PDF).

Please share this post as widely as you are willing to your friends on Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and Pinterest etc. And if you enjoy Frogs of Doom and really want to help out this dashing author who’s desperately trying to make ends meet, please consider writing up an honest review. It can be just a few lines, but all reviews are helpful, even the not-so-great ones. On your blog or Goodreads or B&N or anywhere is good, but the most helpful in reaching a lot of people is, at this point, Amazon.

Thanks for reading, and stay Wilde!

Action! Horror! Kung Fu! Intrigue! Gunslingers! Fantasy! -14 Books By Noted Writers, Choose Your Price, Support Charities

Choose your price! Support charities!

Choose your price! Support charities!

Allen Varney is a really smart man who has put together a cool system in which he sells “bundles” of books and games to folks at the price they choose to pay (with a small minimum price established for a smaller set of the books offered)), the proceeds going not only to the authors involved but to specified charities. You may have seen other such bundles, and they’re a great idea.  Last summer, I participated in one of his earlier fiction-oriented bundles and it was a great experience. Allen has since honed his system by running many more bundles, and more folks have gotten interested in them, so he is temporarily resurrecting some of the earlier ones to satisfy the requests of those who missed them. The one I was part of is one of them, but will only be available for a very short time (just 48 hours, and the countdown has already begun!).

The charities to benefit from this bundle are fighting for literacy and freedom of expression all over the planet:

PEN International and The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Just think, you can get my own very well-reviewed, fully-illustrated adventure for all ages, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, along with a bunch of other high quality genre tales for just $4.95 or a bit more (Frogs of Doom is retail price $6.99 all by itself), and you’ll be contributing to the literary well-being of all of human kind.

Wilde Adventure!

Below are the details from the Bundle of Holding site; grab this adventurous deal while you can (as I type this line, the countdown is at 1 DAY, 22 HOURS, 49 MINUTES, 56 SECONDS!) Continue reading

Counting The Clock That Tells The Time

Clockwise

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night…

As far as I’m concerned, that’s William Shakespeare describing my 2013. For me, the year was a dark shawl of despair, laced with tiny threads of joy.

On the bright side of the equation, Gary Chaloner and I finally managed to release our deluxe, expanded, fully-illustrated edition of my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIf you’re new to our tale, I was originally contracted for three Doc Wilde books by Penguin/Putnam, with plans for the series to continue after those. They published Frogs in hardback in 2009, but I was disappointed  in various ways with the book and the publication process which produced it. During that time, I was watching the developments in self publishing with great interest, and I decided to regain the rights to my books and go indie. With the much appreciated help of a company of Kickstarter heroes, Gary and I started a process that was tougher and took more time than anticipated, but finally paid off with a gorgeous new book (written for all ages, available in both trade paperback and ebook; the hardback edition is still out there, mostly in used copies, but remember it’s nowhere near as nice a book as the new version).

Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

Finally holding the deluxe Frogs of Doom was a relief and a delight. But dark times were coming for Doc Wilde, much more harrowing than any fight with world-threatening amphibians could ever be.

First, Gary Chaloner made the tough decision to resign as artist for the series. Working on Frogs had proved a hardship for him schedule-wise and he recognized that things were only going to get worse as he tried to balance his workload of other projects. To his incredible credit, and my even greater appreciation as both a fellow professional and a friend, he had finished the first book as he’d promised and, you might say, sort of spoiled me. As I hired a new artist for the second book, I expected a similar level of professionalism, and I paid what is for me some big bucks in advance to get it. Alas, I did not.

Hiring artist Tess Fowler was an enormous mistake. (The full craptastic tale can be read at this blog post).

Waiting for art that was just delayed and delayed and delayed only contributed to the weight of the depression I suffer, which was already rolling in like a tsunami on a night without stars, and the ultimate conflict with Tess Fowler when she produced nothing for the money she’d taken as a professional artist deepened my despair. I made repeated attempts to allow Tess to get back to work and live up to her promises, and she ignored every one of them. Continue reading

Buy DOC WILDE In Paperback, Get The Ebook For 72% Off!!!

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOMFor intrepid adventure readers who straddle literary realms both past and present, traditional and technological, I am pleased to announce that I am participating in Amazon’s new MatchBook program (and will happily do the same with other vendors if and when they initiate similar programs; I’m not an Amazon partisan).

What this means is that folks who buy (or have bought) the paper version of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom from Amazon can now also buy a digital copy for only $1.99 (that’s 72% off!).

So if you’d like a copy for your bookshelf but would also like to read on your tablet or phone or other gadget, you’re golden. Likewise, if you want to read it on your device and get a hard copy as a gift for someone, you’re all set.

The deal even applies for those of you who bought the book in hardback when it was first published by Putnam. The new version is a lot better, with my “Author’s Cut” expanded text as well as dozens of gorgeous interior illustrations by comics wizard Gary Chaloner. If you bought the original from Amazon, but would like to see the story in its full glory, you can check out the new version for only $1.99.

Also, and this is important, you don’t need a Kindle to read the digital copy (or any Kindle book, for that matter). There are free apps available for PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets, so if you have a device on which you can read at all, you can likely read this book. The apps can be found here.

I’m thrilled that Amazon has made this possible. As a reader myself, I jump back and forth between page and screen, and I’ve wanted to be able to do something like this since I was first published.

Celebrate All Hallow’s Read! Get “Dead Folks” for FREE!

Dead Folks

Back in 2010, Neil Gaiman, who doesn’t really need me to introduce him, but whose past glory includes the work-of-dark-genius Sandman for DC Comics, had a great idea. As he recounted on his blog, “I was on a flight home last night, and I thought, You know, there aren’t enough traditions that involve giving books…And then I thought, Hallowe’en’s next weekend…”

From that inspiration grew a wonderful new tradition Neil called “All Hallow’s Read.” As explained on its official website, the idea is simple: “All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.” As a lifelong reader, and writer, of tales dark and fantastical (such as my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, now in a marvelous new expanded edition fully illustrated by ace comic book creator Gary Chaloner), I embraced this tradition immediately. In previous years, I gifted classics from folks like the brilliant Fritz Leiber, my late, great friend Karl Edward Wagner, and George R.R. Martin (who also doesn’t need much introduction these days, but whose short story “Sandkings” is one of the scariest things I’ve ever read). Last year, I treated my girlfriend in Brazil to a video of me reading Ray Bradbury’s “The Foghorn,” the story that made me decide to be a writer.

This year, I realized I was in the position to share the tradition with even more people. Now through Halloween, I am offering my semi-spooky tale “Dead Folks” as a free download on Amazon. The story is in Kindle format, but a Kindle is not required to read it; free Kindle reading apps for gadgets ranging from smartphones and tablets to PCs and Macs can be downloaded here.

This story is near and dear to my heart, as it was my first professional fiction sale years ago. In it, a small Appalachian town is mysteriously inundated with pesky corpses from various historical eras and a young man finds he must make some hard choices. One reviewer wrote, “‘Dead Folks’ ultimately reveals itself to be a clever genre admixture that is nodding toward Mark Twain, perhaps the most American of writers. Byrd puts it all at the service of a winning narrator, a well-delineated supporting cast of characters, and a transcendent love story. If Stephen King were given to whimsy, he might have produced ‘Dead Folks.'”

I hope you’ll accept my gift of this bit of weirdness in the spirit of the holiday, and that you enjoy it. Please spread the word, the more the merrier. If you like it, please consider leaving a short review of it on Amazon, as that sort of thing raises a story’s profile in searches and is incredibly helpful to starving authors like me. I also really enjoy reading what people think. And don’t forget to give someone else a story or a book, and tell everyone you know about All Hallow’s Read. Neil is absolutely right, we need more traditions based on gifting tales. What better time than Halloween, the season of scampering nightmare and sultry mystery?

GET “DEAD FOLKS” HERE

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!