EVERYTHING IS (even more) FREE!

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We are giving our books away. Yup, true story. Right now, both Zach’s book Gone To Wonder: Absent Hero, and my short Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom are free on Amazon! Click on the links below in order to get over to Amazon and grab your copy. Trust us, you won’t regret it!

 

Oh! And in case you didn’t know, this promotion only lasts for a few days over at Amazon. But, if you ever want a copy of one of our books for free, all you have to do is send us an email at beardedbards at gmail.com.

Now read on, you crazy readers!

What Just Happened?

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“1965 Rambler Classic 660 4-d blue-white VA-t” by CZmarlin — Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1965_Rambler_Classic_660_4-d_blue-white_VA-t.jpg#mediaviewer/File:1965_Rambler_Classic_660_4-d_blue-white_VA-t.jpg

Guys! I think Zach hit me over the head and hid me in the trunk of his car! Because, I just woke up from what appears to be a week long block out to find a whole bunch of stuff going on with the site.

Let’s start at the basics. The colors on the site have changed . . . or maybe that’s just my eyes readjusting from the lack of light for the past few days. Nope. They changed. Wow, the site is looking better than ever. I mean, I would have been okay with that change. I don’t really understand why he had to hit me over the head and lock me away to do that, but okay.

Oh, and we have a charity challenge going on! We are each writing the first draft of our upcoming episodes. He’s off writing Gone to Wonder Episode Two, and I’m working on the first Episode of Insular States. Whoever finishes last gives away 25 percent of their earnings for a year to a charity of the winner’s choice. Nice! I love charity! Who doesn’t. But again, I wonder why he had to knock me out to go ahead and do that . . .

And look at that, another change for the site! We’re going to start writing some long-form articles on comparative mythology, mono myths, archetypes, and troupes. Well that should be both awesome and interesting. I love comparative mythology, in fact, I’m currently working on an article about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their relationship to serpent myths throughout history. Weird . . .

And we’re giving our ebooks away for free to anyone who asks? And Zach is offering Gone to Wonder for free on Amazon? Well, there you have it, Zach has gone crazy. New site design, new direction, chartist challenge, free ebooks. I guess him knocking me out makes sense now.

But, hey, I’m totally okay with all of it! I just wish I had seen it happening instead of being locked up in a dark, stuffy trunk for the past week.

Let’s be honest, guys. Zach and I both love what we are doing here with the site. And we want to offer you the best possible experience, one where we can intrigue you with our ideas and stories, and then give back with charity and free ebooks to those who ask. So, keep tuned. Things are picking up at Bearded Bards, and they don’t look to slow down anytime soon.

Oh, and if you see Zach, let me know. I think he may have my wallet.

Amazon Unlimited and the Ten Percent Scroll

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There’s a lot of news about Amazon Unlimited going around right now. Between the worries about the program as a whole, the perhaps lack of innovation in the product, and the ongoing fight between Amazon and the Big 5 publishers (and their refusal to participate in the program at all), there is a lot of news out there about Amazon Unlimited.

But Amazon Unlimited and what it means to consumers is not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about it the payment system for authors who self publish and have their books downloaded through Amazon Unlimited. The majority of the 600,000 plus titles that are available on Amazon Unlimited are titles that have been published by self published authors. And these authors will only get a payout if their books are downloaded and the first ten percent of their book is read.

That’s right. Just downloading a self published author’s book does not necessarily mean that the author will get paid. You also need to read through at least the first ten percent  of the book — or just scroll through, but we’ll get to that.

Being a self published author is a hard, low paying endeavor. There is little more in it for the author than the happiness that comes with putting one of your works out there to be enjoyed by the world. Often times a self published book is rarely downloaded (quick plug! go check out my self published book Tim and the Break Up of Impending Doom), and there is little real payment for what you have put all your hard work into.

I’m not against the practice by Amazon. They are a business and they have built a business model that they think works. It is unfortunate that this business model has been built on top of the thousands of authors who publish on Amazon, but that’s just the way it is. People won’t stop publishing on Amazon, and Amazon won’t stop practices that it deems to be in its best interests. (Plus, we tricky authors have maddening methods in order to get paid!)

What do you do about it, though? Well, I have an idea. It is my vision that if you have Amazon Unlimited (or Lending Library — which has the same ten percent in order to get paid practice), if you download a book you scroll through the first ten percent as soon as its finished downloading. That way, even if the book turns out to not be your thing, if you get busy and aren’t able to finish the book, or whatever the reason may be, at least the author will get paid. At least the person who put all that hard work forward will get a payment for their book being downloaded. And, if you really enjoy the book, maybe consider outright buying the book instead of just getting it through Amazon Unlimited. That way, you are giving the author their full royalties. If not, at least scroll the ten percent — and spread the word with #scrolltenpercent on twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media sites — and help some poor self published authors out!

Music To Write To: Tom Traubert’s Blues

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There is just something about Tom Waits. His voice is incredibly haunting, his lyrics are always so familiar yet just out of reach, and you can feel the emotion emanating from every note and chord in every song.

Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda) gets me into an emotional state that preps me for some deep writing. It’s not the best music to write action scenes to, but when I was writing my recent ebook, Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom, this song put me in the right frame of mind.

Tom Waits is the kind of artist who, even though his songs often times come off surprising, can still inspire with his voice and imagery.

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.

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.