Screaming Into The Void

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There is a lot of noise out there. In recent years, that noise has become almost deafening. When the internet came about, the noise which was once controlled by publishers and studios grew exponentially. And with self publishing that noise has grown even more. There is just a lot of stuff out there all trying to get your attention.

But that’s not a bad thing for consumers. It means that there are many more choices out there. It means that you are not stuck with only a handful of choices. And, most importantly it means that you will be able to find something that you truly love — not just a summer blockbuster or hardcover best seller that studios and publishers think you will love.

For creators, this is not such a good thing. It’s like I stated above — you are screaming into the void. There are so many different pieces of work out there that it almost seems like when you put something out, it disappears into a void. At times, it feels like your piece of work will never be seen. Then you are left screaming into the void in order to try and get people to look at, and perhaps buy, your work.

I have a little experiment I want to try. I want to see if I can get a few more voices to scream into that void with me, and maybe make it a little bit brighter. If you do scream into the void with me, your prize will be a copy of the newest Bearded Bards publication, Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom. All you have to do is tweet out, post on Facebook, Pinterest, Goole +, or any other social media of your choice, this link to Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom (http://amzn.com/B00LKUYKJG). Either link to us via your post (@BeardedBards on twitter, Bearded Bards on everything else), email us with proof that you did the post (beardedbards@gmail.com), or leave a comment here!

That’s it. A little help screaming into that void and you will get yourself a copy of a free ebook. And, of course, our everlasting appreciation.

Oh, and if you are just interested in picking up the book, here is the Amazon link to the title:

 

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Gone To Wonder

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“Is that…?”

“No way,” said Gavin, pulling down his goggles to peer through the jungle growth.

“It’s them!” He whooped loudly, hopping up and down. Wendy couldn’t believe she was friends with this 19-year-old boy who was bouncing and giggling like a five-year-old at Christmas.

But she was excited, too. Down the road, surrounded and followed by a crowd of adventurers, were the two great mountains of metal, Tank and Tonk, lumbering down the path, blocking its entire width. Gavin shouted at her as he jogged to catch up to them.

Tank and Tonk hadn’t been seen outside of Ganton in Wendy’s recent memory. The closest they came was the day-ending parade, where they marched with all the others, stopping short of the Coast Way. But here they were, on the way to the Rogue’s Gallery.

Something was amiss, however. The crowd following them was excited but confused. And the two roving animatronics didn’t look right. Wendy couldn’t place it, but something about them was abnormal. It wasn’t till they had caught up that it dawned on her.

“Gavin,” she said, tugging him down so she could speak in his ear. “Look at them.”

“Yeah I’m looking. How could I not?”

“No. Look. Inside.”

Within the arcs of bronzed metal, churning pistons and spinning gears, something was missing.

“Holy crap. No operators,” said Gavin, his excited turning to puzzlement.

Wendy nodded. And what was more, she could see their heartgears, the source of an automan’s energy, buried within their frame, which normally glowed white or blue. Both Tank and Tonk’s heartgears were bright red. That meant one thing for an automan: Torque, the berzerker state that meant bad news for anyone in the way of their mission.

“They’re torquing,” said Gavin, only he wasn’t looking at the gears. He had walked to the side and was looking at their faces, at their glowing red eyes. He shared a look with Wendy, one that she needed no words to understand.

Something was very wrong in the Wonder today.

 

Above is an excerpt from an early chapter of Absent Hero, the first episode of my series Gone To Wonder. I’m not usually one for excerpts, since a lot of the time they’re rubbish out of context, but I can’t help myself. The first draft of Episode One was finished up just over a week ago – just in time, in fact, for me not to have to pony up on the Steak Bet. And I’m itching to get this thing out into the world.

Gone To Wonder is about a young woman named Wendy Danek. Wendy is a superfan of a revolutionary theme park called Finnegan’s Wonder. It’s a place where augmented reality, vivid video projections and holograms, hundreds of animatronics, and thousands of actors combine to create storyscapes: landscapes where stories come to life around the visitor. But it is more than that, because the visitors themselves become characters, adventurers in a brand new world of steampunk behemoths, pirates who command the wind, a mysterious mystic, woodland warrior poets, sprites, whisps, airplanes, vicious mechanized plants, and more. There are no rides in this park, only experiences that challenge the divide between real and make believe.

But the Wonder is in trouble. Attendance and enthusiasm are waning. Maintenance is lackluster. Whole lands are closed. And worst of all, it’s legendary creator and leader, Clayton Ferris, has been ousted by the majority shareholder, a man named Charles DeWitt. The day after the hammer falls, Wendy and her crew of faithful friends are thrust into the story in ways none of them had known before. Animatronics are coming to life, characters are attacked, and a war against a mysterious new race of automatons is brewing. At the center of it all is Wendy, chosen against her will by someone — or something — to push the story to stranger heights than it has ever gone.

In the coming months we plan to bring you five thrilling episodes of Gone To Wonder. It’s a story that has quickly become my favorite project to date. It combines my love of theme parks and armchair imagineering with a healthy dose of fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction. It blends a near-future setting with an impossible, fantastical world, and comments on the power of story on our lives.

We’ve got a ways to go yet. The first episode is in revision mode now, but keep watch over the next few weeks for news on a release date, as well as where and how you can get a copy. I look forward to bringing this project in front of readers soon. Until then, I’ll be gone to wonder.

How Will You Be Remembered?

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I was watching a documentary on Carthage the other night. Do you know about Carthage? It was the Mediterranean empire that existed just before Rome came into power. It was the home of Hannibal. It was where he launched his attack on Italy in an attempt to debilitate Rome.

Most people, though, with the exception of having heard about a few items in a history book, do not know much about Carthage. Most people know about Hannibal, but few probably know that he came from what is modern day Tunis. Few people know what happened to Carthage, fewer know that it was razed by the Roman navy. Little remains of the once great capital city. Like Troy before it, Carthage was merely a glimmer in the memory of history. The Romans, not ones to let a dead empire stay dead, made stories of how the Carthaginians burned their children in sacrifice. The Romans attempted — and for thousands of years succeeded at — blemishing the name of Carthage. Rome made the world remember Carthage not as the great and prosperous empire they were, but instead as a savage and brutal people.

This, we know, is not the case. We know now that the stories told by Rome were rumors meant to discredit their enemy. We know now that the Carthaginians were prosperous, intelligent, and powerful.

However, because of how totally the Romans destroyed and absorbed Carthage, we did not know these things until archaeologists started to reconstruct their empire. The example of Carthage reminds me of many other examples throughout history. The library of Alexandria, Troy, nearly the whole of Amazonian and American Indian cultures. All of these are examples of the loss of not only life but culture as well.

We live in a time now where it is almost unthinkable that anything would disappear. We have books, magazines, DVDs, thumb drives, the internet! How could we ever lose anything in today’s day and age at the scale of the Library of Alexandria?

But think back 50 years. Think back to book burnings by the Nazis. Think to this day and age, where entire countries block out pieces of information. Today marks the anniversary of Tiananmen Square — but you would not find a mention of it anywhere in China (and, now, you probably won’t be able to find this blog post in China, as well). Think of Islamic radicals who burn and destroy works that aren’t inline with what they believe to be within their very limited views of Islamic law. Think of groups of worried parents that ban books from school libraries, or radical Christians burn copies of books that they do not agree with.

There are those of us who believe that the idea of destroying works, of obliterating cultures, is all a part of the past. That in today’s world we would not allow any information to disappear. That what we have today will last forever.

However, what we have today is just as fleeting as what the Carthaginians had, just as fleeting as the cultures that the Amazonians and American Indians had, just as fleeting as the Library at Alexandria. Yes, it would be much more difficult to destroy. It would take much longer, but there is the possibility that it can all fade away into the annals of time.

So why create, why take anything in? Why make anything, if you risk it being destroyed by time. Why take in the works of your time, if they will only matter to you and your immediate surroundings?

Because that is what is important. We read and write and view, in order to escape from the here and now, or in order to understand it better. We do not do so thinking that our works will last into future generations. We do not read a book thinking that our offspring generations down the road will understand it as we do. We do not write a book or make a movie thinking of what people a thousand, or even a hundred, years from now will think of it.

Reading, listening, viewing, writing, painting, creation in general — these are all selfish acts. I don’t think the people of Carthage, before their empire was destroyed and assimilated by the Romans, created and took in culture in hopes that it would last through the generations. I think that they took it in for their own immediate enjoyment.

Those of us in the future may want the works of Carthage, the Library of Alexandria, the writings of Troy, all to still exist. But, in truth, do we care if what we make today exists for those who live a thousand years in the future?

I’m not sure that we do.

But we should. We should care that what we do today lives on into the future. We need to strive for future civilizations to know who we were. We need to work to not be forgotten like Carthage, or the library, or the American Indians. We must work in order to be remembered. Even the bad, the discrimination, the book burning, needs to be remembered. We need to pass on our successes and our failings.

Just think of where we could be today if we had all of the accumulated knowledge of ages before us. Think of where we could be if we did not vindictively destroy, or if we did not selfishly learn and create for only the here and now.

If we start to care more about making sure to pass on our culture, instead of just working in order to enjoy it ourselves, think of what we could pass on. And how much it could aid the future.

Resurrect The Bookstore

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Illustration by 20.20, via Intelligent Life

I was poking around on the Reddit the other day and stumbled upon this cool thing on moreintelligentlife.com. They proposed to four different architecture groups a challenge: design a bookstore that will save… bookstores. In our current era of the Mass Consumption Wars, fought between the bulwarks of the booksmiths and their ancient adversary and current ally, the brick goliaths, and the cybersellers, perhaps what the former side lacks is the latest weaponry.

There’s some interesting visions here, tempered by the realization that “design alone will not save the bookstore” and that, in order to draw people in, you must provide a service and environment that they can’t get from purchasing online. But technology and innovation abound! I particularly like 20.20’s concept.

In 20.20’s bookshop (top) people could do all sorts of things: download reviews and e-books (which would be discounted if bought in person), buy printed books from a frequently edited selection, consult well-informed staff, have a coffee or sandwich, read in cubby­holes, listen to audio books, watch a performance by an author, rent a desk at which to write or illustrate, and self-publish on the in-house printing press. The shop would be called The Art of Storytelling, the thinking being that stories endure, no matter what form books take.

Rent a writing space? Sounds nuts, but I like to get out of the house to write a lot, and if the store provided an environment that I valued (there’s that word again), I’d consider it. And the rest of it, particularly the in-house printing press and the bit about stories enduring, hits me in the feels.

My two cents is, I’d like to have a place where local authors can engage with their local readers, much like musicians do. My nearest indie, the always-stupendous Tattered Cover, hosts a ton of events with nationally touring authors, but I think more could be done for locals, too.

Check out the whole article, it’s a cool read, and encouraging to know that for lovers of bookstores, there’s hope for a bright future.

Great Deals On eBooks

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photo credit: Pavel P. via photopin cc

photo credit: Pavel P. via photopin cc

Finding new authors can be tough. There’s no guarantees for readers, and cost is important. The ability for writers to put their books on sale, or even for free, on places like Amazon.com is a great way for them to hook potential readers.

There’s a site out there that can help you find ebooks that are on sale. It’s called Book Bub. For the price of your email address you can sign up to get alerts on discounted titles, by genre, on a bunch of sites, right to your email inbox. Or you can stop by the site and peruse their lists. I signed up to see scifi and fantasy books and already have half a dozen titles earmarked.

Check it out, and let me know if you find any good ones. Follow @BookBub for updates on sales throughout the day.

 

Find Your Books For Free

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Like I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of clearing out my stuff. Trying to stay clutter-free. I recently found an App that helps me do just that. Yerdle is a place where I can do just that. Recently, I’ve posted a ton of my books so that I can clear out my bookshelf a little bit. In a day I’ve posted about 20 books and about five have “sold.”

The great thing about Yerdle is that the only money that trades hands is the money for shipping. It’s like the free section of Craigslist, only you can give your stuff to people half way across the country. Each item is bid on with points. And you can get more points when people bid on your stuff.

It’s a great way to get new books and get rid of your old books. If you are looking at getting more than just books, items such as electronics, movies, and even clothing are all up on Yerdle.

Download the app and check it out. And while you’re at it, take a look at the books that I’ve posted. Maybe you’ll find one you like!