See The Cover Art For DOC WILDE AND THE MAD SKULL!

WILDEmadskullCoverMockup

I am thrilled, at long last, to reveal to you oh so patient readers the cover design for Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, the long-delayed second Wilde adventure novel. The art is, naturally, by the great Gary Chaloner. This is in grayscale, of course. The final version will be in glorious color.

In this book, my long-awaited follow-up to Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures…”) the Wildes face a sinister mystery and a truly bizarre villain in a battle that rages from New York City to a scorching wasteland and maybe into the realms of death itself…

The book is suitable for all ages. Publication planned for the Christmas season.

Also, those snakes? Fire snakes. As in snakes made of fire.

Get ready to Go Wilde again!

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The Once & Future Wilde: GREAT News About The Doc Wilde Series!

Wilde Adventure!

Today, I get to share some huge news with you about the future of Doc Wilde.

As you may know, the first book in the series, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2009. It was very well reviewed and sold well enough that Putnam contracted me for two more books toward building a regular series. The safe (and possibly sane) course of action would have been to stick with Putnam and all the benefits of publishing with a big house. My experience with Putnam was largely positive, and I’d beaten the odds by landing with them in the first place. But…

But I wasn’t satisfied with the book Putnam put out or their support of it. There were some editorial dictates I allowed myself to be persuaded to follow that I felt weakened the story, the book was pigeonholed by the publisher as a middle-grade work rather than a tale for all ages as I intended, and the publisher put very little effort or money into promotion (this is, alas, mostly par for the course these days).

Additionally, I was simply more ambitious about the Wildes than Putnam was, and had wanted the books to be fully illustrated. With this in mind, before I’d even finished writing the book I’d sought and found the perfect artist for it, a hellaciously talented Aussie named Gary Chaloner. Gary read what I’d written to that point and fell in love with the characters and agreed to join the Wilde team. While I finished the book, he put a lot of time and work into getting the characters just right, and I loved his take on my heros. A fellow pulp-fan, Gary understood the Wildes in his bones, and his images were dynamic and clever and made my story look good. The picture atop this post is one of his.

When they bought Frogs of Doom, Putnam disregarded all the work Gary had already done and my aspiration for nicely illustrated volumes. The book they put out replaced illustrations with goofy typographical effects in the text which made it look expressly aimed only at younger readers, and while the painted cover was nice, it did not capture my characters as I saw them and I never got so much as an email consultation with the artist.

Doc Wilde, 1st edition

Now, that’s not unusual, not many authors actually have much say in the covers that get stuck on their books. But since I’d been through months of collaborative effort with my artist of choice, who had labored meticulously to honor my vision, I was naturally even more dissatisfied by the outcome.

So, inspired by the independent publishing revolution, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I managed to work some loophole sorcery and not only wriggled out of the contract for the next two books but regained full rights to Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. I brought Gary back on board and we set out to create the books I’d wanted all along. After lots of work and some delays, in 2013 we rereleased the first book in a gorgeous new edition that was not only packed with great Chaloner artwork but also featured my preferred, extended “Author’s Cut” of the story.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

Working with Gary on this book was the most enjoyable creative collaboration I’ve ever had, and the resulting volume is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, just after its publication, Gary was forced to resign from the series due to scheduling concerns. This was a crushing blow, but I rallied and hired a new artist, Tess Fowler, which was a terrible mistake. She took my money and dragged ass for months without producing anything but a few rough sketches then, as we approached the originally agreed upon release window, threw a neurotic fit and ceased all communications. She kept the cash. I later found out that I’m not the only victim of this sort of behavior on her part.

Being ripped off by Tess Fowler didn’t just cost me money, it cost me all the months she was allegedly working on the next book. And it triggered my depression, which I’ve battled for years, making further progress impossible for many months more. All the creative and logistical issues of creating these books were further exacerbated by the anxiety of my trust betrayed and depression’s leaden shroud. I entered a period of convalescence, realizing I needed to get a handle on my daily life again before I could even begin to think about getting back to work on the Wilde books.

Well, the time has come to get back on that buckin’ bronco. The Doc Wilde series is finally continuing. And the really big news is: Gary Chaloner is back as the official Wilde artist!

HURRAY!

Gary is still very busy, so we’re taking it at a slower pace than originally intended, but it’s worth it to do these books right. The new release schedule will be a new Doc Wilde book every year. This will allow him to fit Wilde work into his schedule without overwhelming him, and it will allow me to alternate Doc Wilde books with other writing projects.

We plan to release the second book, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull, by Christmas 2016, with a yearly release around the same time each year thereafter. And we hope you’ll join us on all our adventures for years to come…

ADVENTURE!

Writers Who Kill Kittens

Don't lets the mean writer killz me...

Don’t lets the mean writer killz me…

So, I’m reading a discussion about how we should or shouldn’t let a writer’s politics affect our enjoyment of their fiction, and I see this:

“I don’t give the yuck cut of a rat for any writer’s politics. Can they tell a story that I’m going to enjoy and read over and over? Then I’ll damn well read them despite their politics. The only reason I won’t read Pournelle isn’t political, he stapled a kitten to a door. Once you start torturing cats…we’re done.”

Holy shit. Jerry Pournelle stapled a kitten to a door? That’s a horrible thing to do. What an asshole.

Oh, someone clarifies that the poor kitten was actually just in a story. Whew.

Then, the original commenter digs in: “Anyone tortures a cat in their fiction and I won’t read them again. Yeah, it was in one of Pournelle’s novels. But for it to be in one of his novels, he had to think of it.”

Good grief. I just had this argument (again) with people who think that George RR Martin is a monstrous woman-hater because terrible things happen to his female characters in books in which terrible things happen to everybody. (Never mind the fact that the women in Martin’s books are strong and fierce and smart and competent and complex…)

People, fiction is fiction. It is not real life. Depiction of terrible things is not endorsement of terrible things. Depiction of terrible things is drama. It is the fuel of fiction. The first rule of good drama is to mistreat your characters. And maybe even the occasional kitten.

Hating on a writer for what happens in their story is stupid. It’s no better than hating an actor as a person because she played a terrible person in that movie you saw and therefore must be a terrible person.

This isn’t to say that awful people don’t sometimes lace their awfulness into their work, or that they shouldn’t be taken to task over it. Some writers are racists and sexists and nazis and maybe even kitten killers. I’m not gonna defend The Turner Diaries for its very clear agenda (though I will fiercely defend its author’s right to write it any damn way he wanted to).

And if an author states vile opinions outside of their fiction which resonate with themes in their fiction, they’re inviting criticism on those terms so they’re fair game. If you want to peek inside the brains of some truly awful folks, read the blogs written by the “Sad Puppies” and “Rabid Puppies” groups who’ve hijacked science fiction’s Hugo Awards this year. Writers like Theodore Beale aka “Vox Day”, Tom Kratman, and John C. Wright are writers you can comfortably read knowing that they’re the very worst sort of person. Here’s some reasoned debate I saw from Kratman, on Sad Puppy Brad Torgersen’s blog, when some guy mildly disagreed with him:

Kratman

He went on like this for a while, threatening to track the guy down and hurt him. So yeah, douchebag. Sling all the brickbats.

But, in general, assuming that a writer condones terrible things because those things happen in their stories is not just simple-minded, it’s anti-art. Have some goddamned perspective, for pity’s sake. Fight the good fight, not just any possible fight. Don’t like an author’s work? That’s fine, don’t read it. But leave the poor author alone.

No kittens were harmed in the writing of this post.

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

Announcing: The Frogs of Doom Typo Challenge!!! [UPDATED! AGAIN!]

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM
When I left a multi-book contract at Putnam and decided to publish my Doc Wilde adventure series independently, it was for various reasons including getting the lion’s share of the profits from my work and full creative control. Part of the latter was a desire to produce books that were at least as professionally wrought as those coming out of a publishing house, and of which I could be proud.

We see a lot of insult hurled at the indie publishing community. The fact that it has become so easy to publish has undeniably opened the gates to a lot of lazy, shoddy, unedited books. Some people refuse to see the other side of the equation, that a great many very talented writers who have either not been fortunate enough to break in with a traditional publisher yet, or who have opted to leave the old system as I have, now have the chance to share their work and possibly even make a living from it.

I’m not the first to set out to do things right, by any stretch. But I wanted to be one of the writers who prove that indie publishing can result in wonderful books, a group that gets larger all the time.

One of the most common complaints I see about self-publishing is that the books are terribly edited, full of typos and bad spelling. As a writer who slaves over his prose with a goal of not needing to be edited, I was determined that no one be able to sling that particular brickbat my way. Which brings me to:

The Frogs of Doom Typo Challenge

From Monday, June 17, 2013 through Monday, June 24, 2013, everyone who emails  me (at docwildekickstarter@gmail.com) identifying a typo or misspelling in  Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom will be entered into a random drawing to win an autographed first edition hardback of the book, an autographed copy of the new deluxe second edition, and my thanks for pointing out something I can correct to make my book even better.

This applies only to the new edition from Outlaw Moon Books, and doesn’t include the excerpt from the next book in the back (that book is still being developed, so the text of the excerpt is essentially still in first draft form).

Any submissions which arrive prior to noon on Monday will be deleted. Likewise, any typos pointed out beforehand (in comments here or elsewhere) will disqualify you; I want people to have a fair shot at getting their entry in when the time is right.

If anyone wins the challenge, I will update this post with the news as well as writing a new post to announce it.

Good luck, intrepid readers!

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that I really wasn’t allowing much time for the contest, so I’m adding a week and a few hours to the starting time. It will now begin Monday, June 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm EDT. I had also originally said the first person to identify a typo would win; now everyone who enters between 6/17/2013 and 6/24/2013 will have a chance to win.

Where, Oh Where, Is Doc Wilde?

Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom

Time for what will hopefully be the last update before we start getting Doc Wilde books into precious readers’ hands…

Artist extraordinaire Gary Chaloner is polishing up the last bits of art for the long-awaited rerelease of Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and it has been worth the wait. The cover above is nicely representative of his work, and if you glance to the image of the previous iteration in the sidebar on the right, you’ll notice he’s made it even better (though it still needs a bit of fine-tuning).

I’m doing a few final alterations to the text and end matter (the acknowledgements and author’s notes, that sort of thing), then that goes to Gary and he will polish the whole thing into a shiny, shiny book.

I hope to at least have ebooks into folks’ gadgets (and hopefully for sale) by Christmas. No guarantees, but I hope that. The proofing process for the paperback will likely take more time, as will Kickstarter special bits like posters. But we’re on the job, and as we finalize this book, we’re already getting a start on putting together a great edition of book 2, Doc Wilde and The Mad Skull.

This has been a major learning process for us, but that was to be expected. I’m disappointed we’ve had the delays and obstacles, but I’m more sanguine about it all now that we’re about to actually have the first book rereleased into the wild where it belongs. In the future, I’ll scale my expectations back somewhat when announcing release schedules, because “they” are right: it always takes longer and costs more.

But the final result is going to be something to be proud of.

I want to once again thank all of our friends who’ve supported us in this project. Your patience has been humbling. Your help has been crucial in allowing us to take the time to do things properly, in order to release the books to a high standard of quality. You’re all a part of the Wilde family and I hope you’ll join us on many more adventures for years to come.

The Wildes

Some Modern Pulp/Science Fiction You REALLY Need To Read

As most folks who know about my character Doc Wilde are aware, Dr. Spartacus Wilde was originally conceived as a contemporary homage to the classic pulp hero Doc Savage whose exploits I, and quite a few others, grew up on. I like to think that Doc Wilde is his own man though, with my fond memories of Doc Savage as the foundation on which I’m building something very much my own. Sort of the way that Robert B. Parker started writing his Spenser novels pretty much as an update of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, then let Spenser grow and become a distinctive character.

Doc Wilde isn’t the first Doc Savage-inspired hero, and he won’t be the last. Heck, Superman, Batman, and James Bond were all influenced by him in significant ways. Race Bannon on Jonny Quest was a Doc Savage ringer. And there have been many pastiche versions of him of varying levels of authorial ability. I’m currently rereading one I read in high school, A Feast Unknown by the great SF writer Philip Jose Farmer, which basically pits Doc Savage against Tarzan and  is as over-the-top a piece of transgressive, pornographic fiction as I’ve ever seen (and a pretty rollicking tale, if you can take the content).

There’s a new take on Doc out now that you need to know about. I’ve mentioned the Old Man stories by William Preston before, and in the time since, I’ve gotten to know Bill online and consider him a friend. The stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction and he is now offering the first two as an ebook on Amazon.

These wonderful stories are great science fiction with pulp trappings, written in a smart, literate style that far transcends the more juvenile style of the original Doc Savage tales. And they are stories which explore some pretty hefty themes, like redemption and the place of heroes in the post 9/11 world. The ebook is a scant $3, and you really owe it to yourself to read it.