News From The Darkness: A Personal Update As I Clamber Toward Daylight

Musing

Where have I been?

How am I doing?

What’s happening with the Doc Wilde books? Or any other writing I might be doing?

It’s time for a general update, and probably past time for a Doc Wilde update since Kickstarter supporters and other fans are patiently waiting for me to get the next book out.

First, if you would, read my post from back in February, “I’m Back. Ish.” It covers some important ground and remains pertinent, especially regarding the state of Doc Wilde, and whether the coming books will be illustrated or not. (And there will be coming books, it’s just going to take a bit longer.)

Now, since that post, which itself was part of an effort to drag myself back into the world and into health and productivity, things have improved somewhat, but I’ve also had a realization: I’m in convalescence. I’m making progress, but I’m doing so far more gradually than I’d like, and far more gradually than I tend to allow for. I’m fighting a depression monster that has had me pinned beneath its claws for many years, a monster which has beaten me and ruined my plans over and over and over again, a monster that has laughed at everything the psychiatric community has thrown at it from therapy to all sorts of drugs to electroshock therapy.

I have had to accept something about myself that batters what pride I still have: I have a disability. I look in the mirror and I don’t see someone who’s disabled, but I look at my life and I certainly do. And I fucking hate it, and I hate that I have to struggle, and I hate that it’s so goddamned hard, and I hate knowing how much I could accomplish if it weren’t a factor, but none of that actually makes any difference because it it what it is and I have to deal with it.

If I don’t, it will kill me. Continue reading

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In Which An Artist Discovers DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

About a month ago, artist Giancarlo Fusco read my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom and gave it sort of a micro-review on Facebook:

Just finished reading Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom… FUN book! If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones or the Incredibles, grab a copy by Tim Byrd. Felt the need to do a quick sketch of Doc Wilde himself… #drawing #illustration #3coffeeslater

Doc Wilde sketch

Giancarlo contacted me, asking for my permission to do a Wilde picture for his portfolio, which I, of course, gave. A few days ago, he produced the finished piece, and it’s pretty nice.

Wilde Adventure

You can find more of Giancarlo’s work here.

TESS FOWLER: I Let The Artist Have Her Say

As many visitors to my blog are aware, last year I had the misfortune of hiring artist Tess Fowler for art duties on my second Doc Wilde book. I paid her a thousand dollars and received nothing but a handful of rough character sketches, and I don’t even have the originals of those.

I detailed the disintegration of the deal and both my and Tess’s behavior in extreme detail, using our actual correspondence,  in this post.  It tells everything you need to know about our entire working relationship, and about Tess’s choices at the end.

As someone commented on the one followup post I wrote, there are two sides to every story. I agreed and stated, “Tess is completely welcome to share her side here.” Of course, she never took me up on the offer.

She did, however, post a lengthy diatribe on Facebook. I didn’t see it on her page because Tess has me blocked (and I have better things to do than monitor her behavior), but several of her friends sent me the information pretty much immediately. A couple even provided actual screenshots of the post and its resultant discussion.

I’m going to share those screenshots with you. This is the closest thing to Tess’s side of the story that she has provided, and I feel no compunction about showing it to you because it was posted publicly. I’ll offer commentary as we read it together.

1

First, everything I have ever posted on this matter is demonstrably true. There’s a reason I used our actual emails and was so thorough in my account; I wanted folks to have all the information they needed to come to their own conclusions about what happened. There are no emails I refuse to show publicly, and you may notice that she says there are but never shows them to anyone.

And yeah, based on my experiences, I’d definitely recommend nobody else hire her. I’m not running a smear campaign, but I damn sure can’t give her a good reference.

2

Bullshit. I stand by the post I linked to at the start of this one as a rebuttal of what she says here. I in no way abused Tess, and since my feeble attempts to contact her to ask that she resume work (attempts she completely ignored), I have made no other attempts to contact her. It’s easy for her to claim that I am “stalking” her, but I challenge her to prove that very libelous charge.

Further, since shutting me out as described in the original post, she has neither tried to discuss matters with me nor in any way offered in any way to continue the work. She blew me off entirely, kept my money, and I’ve had no contact with her of any sort since she did, not even these mythical emails she references yet again without producing them, except that the day I first saw these screenshots I emailed her, offering to get back to work whenever she was ready. She never replied.

I, however, was very public about the fact that I was willing to get back to work with her. She is a talented artist, I liked her take on my characters, and I was already out a thousand dollars so it was fully in my interest to try to get my money’s worth, even after the trauma I’d already suffered.

For the record, that offer no longer holds. I’ve accepted the loss of my money and the lessons learned and there’s no way in hell I’d work with her again.

3

Again, the emails she could produce, but doesn’t. Ever. Whereas I shared damn near every meaningful correspondence we ever had.

And again, bullshit that she ever offered to continue work after communications broke down.

And note here that I am “a madman.” What she means is that I suffer from depression, and she’s trying to use that against me. In a very libelous way.

4

I’d really like to see those emails. If called on it by someone, at most she could produce (and possibly misrepresent) emails I already quoted in my original post, because there has been nothing since. Again, I tried to sweet-talk her back to work after the communications breakdown, and then I’d have jumped on the chance to get back to work on the book because I had, after all, already paid her.

Now, the discussions began:

5

Again, portraying me as crazy because I’m depressed, and the continued insinuation that I’m stalking her via email and phone.

6

You know what? I do know exactly what I can get away with, because I’ve talked to a lawyer too. For something to be considered libel, it has certain criteria it needs to meet, chief among them the stated information has to be untrue. I’m not worried about her lawyers because I have no reason to be worried about her lawyers. And I’m pretty sure that the three different lawyers she spoke to all pretty much told her that.

7

I think that may be my favorite bit.

8

Ironically, the message I received from Tess blocking me and not responding to my emails or calls was very much “Sit down and shut up.”

9

Tess knew I suffered from depression the entirety of our working relationship. I’m very open about it, and about my battles with it. It’s even all over this blog.

And yes, Gary Chaloner, the original Doc Wilde artist, left the series (he didn’t think he could keep up with the workload), but he remains very much a part of the Wilde family, as well as a friend. Our working relationship was always professional, I was thrilled with the book we turned out together (Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom), and I have nothing but respect for him. We had delays and the book took longer to do than we’d planned, but Gary was never anything less than a trooper and I’d recommend him in a heartbeat to anyone who wants a talented, reliable artist. I invite anyone who thinks Gary left because of interpersonal dynamics to contact him directly and ask.

There was more discussion under Tess’s post, but the topics drifted away from me, so  there’s little point in sharing it. For the record, her post was made way back at the end of January, and there’s been no contact or any activity of any sort between Tess and me since. I intended to post this message ever since, but she’s no longer any sort of priority; the only reason I’m going ahead and posting now is because I want transparency for Doc Wilde supporters, so they know what happened and why the second book is delayed. This was also a way to let Tess tell her side of things.

I honestly wish things had gone differently, that Tess had actually been open to continuing the book. She’s a gifted draftswoman and I think the book we produced would have been beautiful.

Now, I wipe my hands of her.

UPDATE: Another of Tess’s victims has come forward and let me share his account. Read it here.

UPDATE: Tess victimizes the creator of the comic Rat Queens and his wife. Read it here.

DOC WILDE: “The Best Doc Savage Book Since 1949!”

Wilde Adventure!

Most readers of this blog are aware of the fact that  my Doc Wilde books are, at least to some degree, a love letter to the old hero pulps of the thirties and forties, especially to Lester Dent’s great Doc Savage (who was also a primary influence on Superman, Batman, and many other characters as diverse as James Bond and the Fantastic Four). In recent times, a Doc Savage movie has been planned, to be directed by Shane Black (writer of Lethal Weapon, writer/director of the superlative Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3).

Last week, my friend William Preston (himself an amazing author and Doc Savage fan) pointed me to a website whereon another fan of the Man of Bronze is tracking and commenting on developments related to the movie and to Doc Savage in general. Somewhere along the way, he read my novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and this was his reaction:

It’s obvious to me Tim Byrd is the most qualified person to write or consult on a new Doc Savage film. He gets Doc Savage. He’s modified and adapted the Doc Savage oeuvre for his young adult literature needs but what he takes and how he uses it is pretty darn awesome. His story constantly moves forward, stuff happens, thought and research are combined as if by Lester Dent magic, and great Doc Savage details large and small come into play…

Mr. Black, Shane, Dude, hire Tim Byrd to write your movie for you.

Further down the page, he posted this:

Best Doc Savage Book Since 1949!

This is very gratifying to me. While I consider Doc Wilde to be very much his own man, and in spite of his many similarities to Doc Savage he is also quite different, there is still that strong current of homage crackling through the stories. So having other fans of the old pulps respond to my work in this way tells me I’m doing the job I set out to do.

Down on Kinglet Road (ABC Wednesday, 3/26/14)

Kinglet

I was seven or so when we moved to Kinglet Road.

Our new house was a single story brick suburban box, one of many such in the new development named “Bonanza” because, apparently, of how much it didn’t resemble the Cartwright ranch on TV. The whole development was built on top of a landfill, and when I dug in the back yard for dinosaur bones I would find rotting trash instead.

This was sort of a workable metaphor for Bonanza in general, and for Kinglet Road especially.

Though it is now a loathed place of painful memories and anti-nostalgia, Kinglet Road had potential. When we arrived there, our backyard ended on deep pine forest, and that forest became a refuge for me through my childhood. I spent many days exploring alone, getting away from my various cruel stepmothers and my vicious drunk of an old man. I developed my woods sense there, a sensibility that made me very comfortable leading wilderness trips as an adult. I remember streaking nude along the paths like some pint-sized Tarzan, clambering into the trees to spy on people, howling like a wolf when I was the only one around.

My memories of the old homestead are dank and sharp-edged. All the dark struggles I fight still were launched there in abuse and neurosis and simmering parental rage. Childhood at Kinglet Road was no gilded dream.

As Thomas Wolfe has been quoted so often it’s a terrible cliche, you can’t go home again. Not that I would want to. Home may be where the heart is, but my heart is not in that suburban box on Kinglet Road. For me, home isn’t a place you come from, it’s a place you’re going to, a place you build yourself. Just like family.

Now, Kinglet Road is surrounded by development, and to live there is to know stripmall paradise intimately. All the wild beauty I enjoyed and escaped to is gone.

And, thank the gods, so am I.

K

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter L. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIt’s been very well reviewed (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.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

Imp Propriety (ABC Wednesday, 3/12/14)

imp

“Knock knock,” the imp said.

“Who’s there?” I responded.

“LET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!” he screamed at me. His leathery wings spread wide as if to emphasize his words, or to make him seem larger in order to intimidate me. But he was only three inches tall, so it was going to take a great deal more to make him seem large enough to be a physical threat.

I poured another couple fingers of gin into my glass, tossed it all down my throat in a burning wash. I was already feeling wobbly and a bit too hot, but booze seemed appropriate.

“You know I’m not going to do that,” I told him.

He glared at me with eyes like shadows moving on glass. He looked ridiculous, tiny and naked and roughly scaled like a bearded lizard. Batwings of course, with curved talons at all the tips. He was what would be called anatomically correct if he were a doll, his outsized penis erect and bouncing with each step as he paced from point to point within the pentagram I’d painted on the table with my own blood.

“And how in all the sweet hells do you expect me to do your bidding and help your sorry ass out if I’m stuck in this thing?”

The old book had seemed pretty clear on all this, but once I’d done the ritual, and little boner imp appeared, I realized the specifics of getting my way hadn’t been covered sufficiently.

“Can’t you just grant me a wish? Then I’ll banish you and we’ll be done with each other.”

“I can’t grant wishes, bozo. That’s way stronger mojo than I’ve got. I can only help through direct action.” He stopped pacing and glared at me again. “And how do you intend to banish me? I know that mad Arab didn’t put detail like that in that book, ’cause I’ve read it.”

He was right. The ritual was all about getting him here. What to do with him hadn’t been covered at all, other than to say something about dominating the small fiend and using its power.

“Never mind that,” I said. “I’ll banish you, all right? That book isn’t the only source of info I have access to. And if it comes to it, I’ll get a priest in here to deal with you.”

Pssh. A priest. You don’t want to tell one of those guys you’ve been summoning demons; they’ll burn you at the stake.”

“They don’t do that any more.”

“Yeah, right. Buddy, they always do that. Maybe they’re just more subtle about it these days.”

“I don’t think so. They have enough scandals to deal with without getting caught burning people.”

“Never mind the fucking priests,” he snarled. “You need to let out of here so I can help you. If you don’t, you’re just gonna have this bloody star on your table and I’m going to be stuck in it from now on. You really want me living here with you, chatting up your friends? Not to mention I got no place to shit in here, and I feel a big one coming on.”

“What will you do if I let you out?”

“I’ll do all I can to get that bitch to take you back–“

“Don’t call her a bitch.”

He cocked his head at me. “Jesus twitchin’ on the cross, I get all the twits,” he muttered. “Look, moron, you didn’t expect a demon to act all proper didja? I can, mind you…but if I do, that’ll count as your ‘one desire’ I’m supposed to fulfill.”

“Okay, okay,” I said. “So I let you out, you help me get Cindy back, then you return to Hell or wherever it is you came from, right?”

“Damn straight.”

“And you won’t pull any tricks on me or hurt me or anything like that, right? Because I am your master.”

“Good grief. Right, right, right. Now let’s do this; the sooner I can get off this dismal plane, the happier I’m gonna be.”

“Okay…” I said. This still seemed a bad idea, but I was at a loss. And what he said seemed to be in accord with the rules implied in the book.

I reached toward the pentagram, paused with my fingers just above one of its bloody lines. “You promise, no tricks?”

He shook his head. “You really gonna trust a promise from me? I’m a demonic imp from the dark beyonds, I don’t make promises. But I do my goddamned job.”

“Okay.” I rubbed my fingers in the blood, breaking the line.

I

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter J. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIt’s been very well reviewed (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.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

Help! I Need Somebody… (ABC Wednesday, 3/5/14)

Helping Hand

[Wednesday falls on Friday today…it’s been that sort of week]

Do you understand suicide?

I do. I don’t want to do it, but I have it on my list of options. Worst case scenario sort of thing. This is because I have chronic, often debilitating depression, and it often makes me doubt I have the ability to maintain my life for its natural duration.

Lose the people I love, not able to take it? Suicide’s an option. Don’t sell enough books and fall into poverty? Suicide’s an option, better than living in a soggy box under a bridge. Fall into a permanent depressive funk in which I can’t even take care of myself day-to-day (which is what started to happen to me last year, which is why I re-entered therapy, got back on the meds, and had electroshock therapy for the second time in three years)? Suicide is always there.

It’s like the cyanide capsule hidden in my molar, ready to be crunched in dire circumstances.

Not a day passes that I don’t think about it, at least in passing. It’s a bloodsoaked thread woven through the fabric of my life, not dominant but always dripping. It’s been this way for years.

Do I think I’ll do it some day? No. Would I be surprised if I did? No.

So yeah, I understand suicide. It is dark and terrible and fucked up, but it can also be practical. Or at least seem so to a mind in pain.

I tell you that so that you know I’m talking to you from the darkness. It can be tough to tell most of the time, because I’m largely a low-key yet upbeat guy, forthright about my problems but not whiny or melancholy or gloomy to be around. But I live in the darkness of this disease, and I speak as something of an expert. And the thing I want to tell you is this:

Help them.

If you have someone in your life who suffers from depression:

Help them.

One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. I will go days without doing the dishes, or taking out the trash,  or going to get the mail, or showering. I’ll avoid the phone and not answer emails. I am utterly useless during those times, and I am mostly without hope. During times like this, I lose all my faith that I can do the things I want to do with my life. I think of the places I’ll never go, the people I’ll never get to hang out with, the books I will never be able to write, and I despair.

I hate asking for help. So I don’t. But I need it.

So, if you know someone with depression:

Help them.

I think there are many lives lost that may have been saved had the people who cared about the folks in pain actually found meaningful ways to be there for them. It can be a burden, yes. But if you care for them, you won’t think of it in those terms, or at least won’t let them know you feel that way. Help them get the professional assistance they need. Cook them a meal every week. Help them clean their home (even little things like taking out the damned trash can make a difference). Talk to them, show them you care about them, show them you have faith in them.

Help them.

You may just save their life.

H

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter I. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIt’s been very well reviewed (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.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday