A New Definition of Writing Success

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.

From The Kill Zone: A New Definition of Writing Success

Books and Wonderful (You MUST See This)

As a devoted fan of Buster Keaton, books, and the amazing William Joyce, I have to say The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore may just be the most wonderful short film I have ever seen. It’s currently up for an Academy Award.

You need to see this, probably over and over…

Well, Blow Me Down!!!

Here in the Byrdcave, we’re old fans of Popeye. Not only did I watch the old cartoons countless times growing up, my son and I have each given Popeye gifts to each other. He gave me Warner Brothers’ awesome remastered collections of the classic Fleischer cartoons of the 1930s (which are wonderful, and far better than the later productions which kinda sucked); I have been giving him Fantagraphics’ gorgeous hardbacks collecting the original E.C. Segar comic strips as they come out.

Wilco, in cooperation with King Features Syndicate, has brought us the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon in over three decades:

I hope Popeye rebounds by hooking up with Betty Boop.

If you never saw them, or need a reminder, or it’s just been too long, here’s one of the Fleischer classics, from 1936, in amazing quality:

And for bonus giggles, here’s a commercial featuring Popeye and Bluto that drove right wingers crazy when it aired:

UPDATE: Of course, now that I think about it, if we watch the Fleischer first, then the Wilco, then the Minute Maid cartoon, maybe we’re actually getting the full story of Popeye’s romantic life…

My Pulp Pit Column at IMJ Returns! Pulp Pit #2: “I Am Not Doc Savage”

After many travails, my second column at Inveterate Media Junkies is now finally online:


Spiders Are Wonderful (An Even Better Wack Kids’ Book)

Everyone is all abuzz about Go The Fuck To Sleep, which is pretty funny, especially as read by Nick Fury of SHIELD.

But over on his blog, Dennis Detwiller offers up an even better “alternative children’s book,” Spiders Are Wonderful by Toby Vok. As Dennis rightly puts it, “If I had to describe it, I would perhaps call it a children’s book of existential horror. Toby Vok is a twisted, wonderful man.”

You can read it in its entirety by clicking the image below. Toward the bottom of the page, Vok also graciously offers it up for free in both PDF and epub formats.

Free, Easy Ways You Can Help Authors (Please Do These Things!)

Writing has always been a questionable way to make a living.

Yeah, occasionally one of us gets lucky and makes millions, but you may as well plan around winning the lottery. It’s not even a matter of talent…while the bestseller lists are often ruled by writers whose output is an insult to paper and ink, ungodly talents struggle to pay the rent and have to work other jobs to support their families.

But you, as a reader, have the power to help writers you like. Your most basic use of this power, of course, is simply spending money on their work, which is a sacred act. You can take that further by buying additional copies as gifts for others. You can even make a point of actually buying books new, rather than nabbing used copies or reading them at the library.

(Neither of which, I have to tell you, I really have much issue with. As a writer, I write to be read, so the more people reading my work, wherever they get it, the happier I am, on a certain overarching level. And it’s true that someone who reads one of your books for free or cheap may like it so much that they’ll buy your next one fresh off the shelf, where the sale does you the most good. All the same, it’s indisputable that succeeding as a writer is tough, and as a reader your decision to buy new is a powerful act and can make all the difference. I want most of all to be read…but the more sales I get, the better able I am to stay in print and publish even more stuff and make a living at all.)

So yeah, buying is very important. But it’s not all you can do to help struggling scribes, and there are easy things you can do that don’t even cost you anything.

Back in April, author G.P. Ching (who apparently kicks patootie at Guitar Hero) blogged about this very topic, and did such a good job, I don’t think I can improve on it. Her full post is here. In it she offers five ways readers can help writers “that cost absolutely nothing but go a long way toward helping to foster their potential.”

As a struggling mid-lister, I assure you that if you do these things not only will they help, they will be enormously appreciated.

Here are G.P.’s suggestions on free ways to help writers:

5.  Forward their press 
Whether it is a tweet, post, or status message, someone who follows you might be interested. Retweeting or sharing a post only takes a second but could mean connecting a potential reader with an author they’ll love.
4. Tell a friend
If you like someone’s work, there’s no better way than word of mouth to promote their cause. Even if you haven’t read the specific book yet, your comment can inform someone of the book’s availability.  And, of course, if you have read the book, let others know you liked it.  Indie authors don’t have large publicity budgets and rely on personal connections more than anything else for promotion.
3.  Tag and “like” their book on the bookseller’s site
At the bottom of a book’s page on Amazon, there are check boxes to tag a book.  When you check one, it strengthens the association between the book and that category. So, when someone else searches on the category, books with more tags appear higher in the search results.  This increases exposure for the work.
When you “like” a book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, it adds a message on your Facebook newsfeed and is good promotion for the title.
2.  Add the author’s book to your To-Be-Read pile on Goodreads
All of your Goodreads followers get a glimpse of the cover and can see that you added it. Plus, it increases the number of people associated with the book which can garner interest in the title.
1.  Write a review
Often if your intention is to write a review, an author will provide you with a free copy of the book.  Whether on a blog or on a bookseller’s site, reviews help authors sell more books and are greatly appreciated.
All great suggestions.

“Dead Folks” Now Available

Click To Buy!

My story “Dead Folks” is now available from Amazon as a Kindle download for 99 cents. In the near future, it will be going up at other online venues, in other ebook formats. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books with free programs downloadable from Amazon, like Kindle for PC. I read Kindle books on my iPhone and desktop computer.)

Here’s the story’s description:

What do you do when your town is suddenly inundated with pesky corpses from various historical eras?

The problem turns personal for young Johnny when he and his sister find Franklin Delano Roosevelt floating dead in the lake. Then the stakes become more dire when he discovers the plague of dead folks might just be the least of his troubles.

Tim Byrd’s clever short story spins the sort of yarn that Mark Twain and Stephen King might produce if spacetime allowed them to collaborate. Join the creepy fun, but watch where you step.

If you read it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon. It’s new and fresh and needs all the lovin’ it can get…

Introducing My New Monthly Column on Pulp Adventure: The Pulp Pit

A Typical Pulp Hero...

As I mentioned in the Song of the Week post yesterday, I have a new monthly column over at Inveterate Media Junkies. The first installment is now live and you can read it here:

I Am Doc Savage

The column is called “The Pulp Pit,” and as you might deduce, its subject is pulp. I’ll be covering whatever pulpy topics tickle my muse (or maybe cuddle my muse, since she’s not that fond of tickling), pointing out cool pulp stuff for people to enjoy, and reviewing books, comics, movies, games, TV shows, and whatever else as appropriate.

For those with possible review materials they think might be on-topic for a pulp column, please drop me a line at thepulppit at gmail.com (just connect the two parts up with an @). I’m interested in any sort of pulpish media, old or new. I don’t want people just sending me things that stack up and I never get to, as that costs you money and both of us time. So tell me what it is, and if I think it’s something I might actually make time to read/watch/play/etc., I’ll tell you how to send it to me.

Regular readers of this blog  might have noticed a recent password-protected entry titled I Am Doc Savage (Pulp Pit # 1). Two weeks after a column appears on IMJ, I’ll remove the password and make the post public, so it’s available to readers here.

I Am Doc Savage (Pulp Pit # 1)

[This is a Pulp Pit column, originally published at Inveterate Media Junkies. These columns are exclusively available at their site for two weeks, then I make them available here on my blog.]

I am Doc Savage.

If you know me, you know that to the world at large, I am a strange, mysterious figure of glistening bronze skin and golden eyes. A man of superhuman strength and protean genius. My life is dedicated to the destruction of evil-doers. I am the greatest adventure hero of all time.

Now hear me out. Sure, I lack the bronze. My eyes are blue, and I tend toward what you might call an Irish tan, which is to say, freckles at best, charbroiled melanoma at worst. So, I’m not literally the original superman, standing tall with a tropic tan and eyes of swirled gold.

Nor do I live in the Empire State Building, have a team of action-packed scientist aides, or play a mean violin.

Plus, I don’t live in the early twentieth century.

So where do I get off saying that  I’m Doc Savage? Continue reading

Pulp Adventure In The Sheets [Updated]

It has been a gloriously pulpy week here in the Byrdcave. Three deliveries brought big doses of pulp adventure to add to my to-read stack. The assorted volumes can be seen here, cavorting in my bed:

First delivery brought my latest Doc Savage and Shadow reprints from Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books.

Second delivery brought Wayne Reinagel’s Pulp Heroes: Khan Dynasty, the prequel to his epic Pulp Heroes: More Than Mortal (which I intend to review at some point).

And finally, third delivery brought the hefty hardback B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs, collecting lots of Mike Mignola goodness in the Hellboy universe. And, yeah, Hellboy is pulp. Hellboy is as pulp as it gets.

UPDATE: Wow, this is a pulpilicious week. The fourth delivery brought the new Spider reprints from Girasol.

Lots to look forward to.

I also received a photo of a beautiful woman with her brand new copy of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, all dark-eyed glee that she’s got my book.

I tell you, that does a writer good.

Doc Wilde: “A Rip-Roarin’, Action-Packed, Thrill Ride Of A Book”


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I somehow missed a review of my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, by Conan Tigard at Reading Review. Now that it has come to my attention, I’ll share it with you.

The review has a detailed plot summary of the book, therefore is loaded with spoilage. But here’s the pertinent, spoiler-free part:

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom is a rip-roarin’, action-packed, thrill ride of a book that will leave the reader breathless. The book starts out with a bang and never slows down until the last page has been read. This book reads like an old-fashioned dime store novel from the 1940’s. It feels like a old-time thrilling radio show from the era before there was television…

I can only hope that this new author, Tim Byrd, makes an entire series with these characters. Sure, the characters are a little unbelievable with all the cool things they can do, but I loved it anyways… It’s like having multiple versions of a young Indiana Jones in this book.

Overall, Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom is an excellent story that will keep a young reader, and even an older one like me, reading this book far past their bedtime. So, grab your flashlight, boys, tell your parents you are going to bed, and stay up all night reading this adventure under your sheets, so your parents cannot see the light. You will love it.

I rated this book a 9 out of 10.

The full review is here, but remember, it’s full of spoilers…

Ken Hite on DOC WILDE: Tim Byrd has “the keen eye for the plausible impossibility shared by many of the pulp greats”


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Kenneth Hite is a smart man.

He’s a writer of various things, particularly in the roleplaying game field. He’s a true polymath, carrying vast stores of knowledge about a vast array of topics around in his brain. He’s one of the few human beings I have ever met who makes me feel kind of dumb.

He’s also a scholar of pulp fiction, particularly the works of H.P. Lovecraft. So it thrills me to share with you his review of my first book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, which is of course an homage to both the pulp heroes of the 1930s and ’40s and to H.P. Lovecraft’s unspeakable horror tales. It’s my first review by someone I’m not only sure gets everything I tried to do in the book, but who I suspect gets stuff I don’t even realize is in there.

Here’s a taste; the rest is here.

Despite our young heroes’ impressive abilities, the threat of the Frog God Frogon builds to a genuinely scary level by the end, with a properly Lovecraftian threat to the universe (and to one of Doc’s sidekicks, a burly Irishman named Declan mac Coul) waiting in the depths of a South American cave inhabited by the titular Frogs of Doom. Byrd plays with amphibian biology, and with plenty of other sciences from nanotech to aerodynamics, with the keen eye for the plausible impossibility shared by Dent, Lovecraft, and many of the pulp greats.

I suspect that readers out of middle school will appreciate Byrd’s tribute first and foremost as a tribute — spotting the references and shout-outs is our own little adventure mystery — but it will surprise you by engaging you with its youthful characters as well…the words themselves reel out at pulp speed, and tickle two kinds of nostalgia at once: nostalgia for reading Doc Savage, and for reading Doc Savage for the first time, when you were eleven and hadn’t yet talked yourself into being tired of heroes.

You can get the book here.

Kicking Amphibian Butt: One Of My Favorite Doc Wilde Reviews

A Great Christmas Gift! Buy Now!

One of the most thorough and thoughtful reviews of my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, came from writer/librarian Werner A. Lind, who posted it on Goodreads around the time the Pulp Magazine Authors and Literature Fans group discussed the book.

The review is below, but first a couple of points…

First, you may note there’s a discrepancy between the 4 star rating shown above the review and Werner’s statement grading it with three stars in the initial paragraph. Werner explained in a comment during the group discussion:

I hope you noticed that I later added a comment to say that honestly, on reflection, I’d give it four stars based on my own enjoyment of it, not just that of a hypothetical younger reader. (Sometimes it gets tiring to always have to wear the mantle of a sober academic critic. :-)) And I want you to know that once Doc Wilde and the Mad Skull is published, it’s definitely going on my to-read shelf!

The other thing is that he, like quite a few others I think, found the kids’ ability to use echolocation to navigate darkness a bit too over-the-top and unrealistic. The truth is, human echolocation is real, and it’s fascinating. Look it up on Wikipedia.

And now, take it away, Werner… Continue reading

Harry Potter and The Sexy Hallows (Updated)

Haven’t seen Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows yet, but have read all the books. But I had this short dialogue on Facebook with writer Alex Wells in which I shared some thoughts I’d had when I read Hallows:

Tim Byrd

Tim Byrd I hope the movie has that part where they’re in a tent for several years waiting for the plot to happen.

Friday at 9:42pm 


      Alex Wells Come on – don’t they get in some arguments and give each other dirty looks and stuff? 

      Yesterday at 8:31am ·

      Tim Byrd I’ve always suspected that Rowling meant for Harry and Hermione to sleep together while Ron has abandoned them, making for some uncomfortable subtext once he returns. But she chickened out and left the tent sequence essentially dramatically inert. 

      Yesterday at 8:40am ·

      Tim Byrd See also: Dumbledore’s homosexuality, which she didn’t have the courage to depict on the page, when it mattered most. Though kudos to her for outing him after the fact. 

      Yesterday at 8:43am ·

      Alex Wells I would have loved it if she ventured into these realms – it would have made conversations with my kids more interesting and relevant (ok they’re only 9 – not too relevant). The HP books are also the most blatant display of the changes the publishing industry has gone through – no money to pay for a kick-ass, hardcore editor, but all the money in the world for advertising the top ten popular books. 

      23 hours ago ·

      Tim Byrd 

      It’s been a while since I read them, but I remember puberty seething in the penultimate books, as the characters grew up. Then she builds this situation with them as they enter adulthood, and all that passion is pretty much gone (though I understand Emma Watson taps into it in one unreal scene in the flick). I think she was going there, and I think she had a failure of nerve.And you’re right on the editing. I love Rowling’s work, but the last two books particularly needed a strong second opinion before going to press. 

      UPDATE: More commentary added Continue reading


I’m not sure why, but Amazon currently has some marked down copies of my pulp adventure novel, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, selling for just $6.23.

Buy Now!

This is a first edition hardback (the paperback is due out next year), and the cover price is $15.99. Amazon is also offering it at a discounted $12.47.

Considering that the hardback usually runs $11 to $16, and the paperback when it finally comes out will likely be a minimum of $8, this is a great opportunity to get the book for cheap.

For the uninitiated, Doc Wilde is my modern take on the great old adventure tales featuring characters like Indiana Jones, The Shadow, the Spider, and most importantly Doc Savage, with strong currents of H.P. Lovecraft’s eldritch horror swirled in.

It is published as a book for young teen readers, but like something like Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Incredibles, is intended for both young and old.

Frogs of Doom is the first in a series; next will be Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull.

You can check out some reviews at http://www.docwilde.com/reviews/.

Good Memories of 2009, Day 3: Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

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In May, my first book finally came out to great reviews and sales good enough to get Putnam to contract me for the next two books in the series. An adventure inspired by the pulps of the 1930s, I intended it for both kids and adult readers. Gratifyingly, it has done quite well with both.

For those uninitiated in the adventures of the family Wilde, you can find loads of info (and an excerpt) at www.DocWilde.com.

Month 9, In Which Our Hero’s Book Is Finally Noticed By Publishers Weekly. Sort of.

Elizabeth Bird is one of the most respected reviewers associated with Publishers Weekly, and was one of the critics I went out of my way to try to get to review my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. I read her blog regularly and enjoy her insights, and looked forward to seeing what she had to say about my fledgling effort.

Well, months passed, and the magazine seemed unaware of the book, and it didn’t appear on her blog. I’d pretty much given up on ever seeing anything from her, or PW, but then she posted an entry in which she gave tiny reviews of a bunch of books she’d read last year but hadn’t gotten around to reviewing.

This is what she said about my book:

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom by Tim Byrd – I appreciated how the book just leapt headfirst into the action, catching readers up after the fact, and also how I can now hand kids something when they come asking me for books “Just like Indiana Jones” (which really does happen).

Curling Up With Doc Wilde (Review)

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A review of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom over at Curled Up With a Good Kid’s Book:

A true tale of adventure, this book takes off at break-neck speed and never slows down. Doc Wilde is a golden hero, of the type we haven’t seen since Flash Gordon (in the Buster Crabbe version) faced off with Ming the Merciless. Brian and Wren, young though they are, use their wits and their innate sense of justice to stand beside their father all the way. They’re the kind of sidekicks that comic book superheroes can only dream of finding, and they are certainly a credit to the Wilde family with its history of outlandish exploits and fair-minded pursuits.

The rest is here.