New England Authors Expo is a go!

JpegGood morning, everyone, and welcome to New England Authors Expo day!

I just finished my setup (at right) and I’m ready to go. I hope to see a lot of people coming through the doors today. I also hope the AC kicks in soon, because it’s hot as balls in here.

If you’re in the area of the Danversport Yacht Club, come in, say hello, and check out all the other great indie and small press authors. If you can’t make it, don’t worry, because I’ll be social media-ing the hell out of the day. You can follow along on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook.

Weekly Update – July 26, 2016

You may have noticed a new tab at the top of the page. Go to it and you’ll find links to my cover artist Tricia’s Redbubble store, where you can buy items featuring her cover art, along with her own original pieces. Go support an independent artist!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: With my editor, still on-track for a September release.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Back in action, so to speak! I got  quite a bit done on this and on Action Figures – Issue Eight during my first full weekend of writing in a few weeks. My wife’s show schedule has kept us busy and August will pretty much a washout for me thanks to her having three conventions in a row, but I plan to get a lot done before then.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in process.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • TOMORROW! The New England Authors Expo in Danvers, MA. Workshops, forums, and a daylong book fair for librarians, book shop owners, and starting in the afternoon, for members of the general public. I’m excited the day is finally here and I’m looking forward to a great expo. I’ll try to post a lot from the show, so keep an eye on my social media outlets.NEAE
  • Sunday, October 2: The Connecticut Renaissance Faire’s 2016 Meet the Author series, which runs from 1 to 3 PM.
  • Saturday & Sunday, October 15 & 16: The fall New Bedford Bookfest. Times TBA.

MISC.

Last week I taped my segment for Be My Guest, an Upton Community TV show, and had a great time. Jan Lewis was a lovely host and did a great job of helping me keep the conversation rolling. The video should be available soon.

Weekly Update – July 19, 2016

Ad SquareToday’s the day! The Kindle edition of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins is now on sale for 99 cents until midnight! Grab a copy for yourself, gift a copy to a friend, or just spread the word of this sale to fellow readers.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: With my editor, still on-track for a September release.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Managed to get a little work in, despite a busy weekend of socializing with friends visiting from California.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: I used my one full writing day to pound out ten pages of draft one. I know, I’m jumping WAY ahead, considering book six isn’t even edited yet, but I had the opening scenes down in my head and needed to get them onto the screen so I could refocus my energy on book seven when I get a full three days of writing this weekend.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in process.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Upton to appear on Be My Guest, an Upton Community TV show, to talk about my writing. I’ll post a link to the video once it’s up.

 

Weekly Update – July 12, 2016

Ad SquareI’ll get the advertisement out of the way here. In celebration of the book reaching #1 best-seller status on Amazon, the Kindle edition of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins will be going on sale for 99 cents next week. Grab a copy for yourself, gift a copy to a friend, or just spread the word to fellow readers.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: With my editor, still on-track for a September release.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Got a little bit more done here, but I’m in the middle of helping my wife with a busy show season, so my writing weekends are a little sparse right now.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: I don’t have a subtitle yet, but I do have a fleshed-out plot!

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Jennifer MacPherson is doing a read-through on the audiobook manuscript and should start formal recording sessions any day.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

I’d like to use this space to alert my fans of a case of art theft, and to encourage you to add your voice to the fight.

Pirate Coat
The original Chrononaut Mercantile Pirate Coat…

I learned this week that Chrononaut Mercantile, a small business, had one of its designs ripped off, and the knockoff version — shamelessly named “The Chrononaut Coat” (they have since renamed it to something more generic, so there’s that) — was being sold through By the Sword Inc. I contacted BTS and urged them to remove the item out of respect for Chrononaut Mercantile, and I posted a message on BTS’s Facebook page.

The company’s responses were, to put it mildly, disappointing.

EDIT: I had originally posted summaries of BTS’s e-mail responses to me, but that earned me — I kid you not — a threat of a libel lawsuit. So, to make absolutely sure that BTS’s responses are represented accurately and there is no possibility of me misrepresenting their replies, here are the actual screencaps of their e-mails to me:

Reply 1 Reply 2 Reply 3 Reply 4

...and the By the Sword Inc. knockoff version.
…and the knockoff version.

Not only were my comments on the BTS Facebook page deleted, I was blocked from posting. As word started to spread, several other people in the New England renaissance faire community also posted on the FB page, and similarly saw their comments deleted and their access blocked.

I do not take art theft lightly. I’ve had my books pirated, as have many other indie authors I know. It’s happened to my friend Tricia, who does my cover art, and my wife. Big companies do this to independent artists all the time and expect to get away with it — and even try to make their actions sound somehow benevolent by telling the aggrieved artist how flattered he or she should feel that their art was worth stealing.

Fuck that noise.

Now, in the interest of fairness, this knockoff is being sold through other retailers. BTS happened to be the one brought to my attention. If you’re of a mind, send By the Sword or any other retailer you find selling this item a firm but polite e-mail asking them to drop the Chrononaut Coat from their line, and spread the word to others letting them know about this incident. Help dissuade retailers from encouraging art theft. Don’t let yet another independent artist get screwed over.

EDIT THE SECOND: Here is the libel threat, just so we have that on the record too.

Reply 5

 

Weekly Update – July 5, 2016

Ad SquareI’m going to open with a quick reminder that, in celebration of the book reaching #1 best-seller status on Amazon, the Kindle edition of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins will be going on sale for 99 cents in two weeks. Grab a copy for yourself, gift a copy to a friend, or just spread the word to fellow readers.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: AF book 2 is off to my editor Julie! She expects to be done by the end of August, so barring the unforeseen — which is always a possibility in the indie author world — the second book should be out in late September.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Almost time to get back to work on this in earnest!

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Jennifer MacPherson is doing a read-through on the audiobook manuscript and should start formal recording sessions any day.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

There’s some behind-the-scenes stuff going on at home that have cleared the way for me to pick up some freelance work with the Worcester Telegram. It’ll just be a pick-up job here and there for the immediate future, but it’ll keep me active and bring some extra money in.

Finally, I have finally joined Instagram, so if you aren’t already sick of me on other social media outlets, check me out there at michaelbaileywriter.

Weekly Update – June 28, 2016

This week is jam-packed full of excellent announcements, starting with the big one:

Number One Spot

 

Number One Spot 4

That’s right: I can now legitimately claim that Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins is a two-time number one best seller!

Happy Kermit

Ad SquareTo celebrate this achievement, I’m going to make the Kindle version of Secret Origins available for 99 cents for one day only: July 19. If you’re a current fan, please spread the word to family and friends who might enjoy the series, and feel free to share this special promotional image ——————>

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: The latest revisions are done! I still have a couple of test-readers as yet unheard from, but if/when they get back to me I may have to work any sound suggestions into the final draft — assuming they hit any points my other test-readers missed, that is, which would be surprising. My test-readers were seriously on the ball and pointed out a lot of issues, small and large, that I had to correct.

The result was unusual for this stage of development. Usually in the pre-editing phase, I’m mostly smoothing out the prose and trimming any fat; I expect word counts to do down, not up, but in this case the word count rose from approximately 77,000 in the third draft (which was up 1,000 words from draft two) to nearly 80,000 in the fourth draft.

The extra work was well worth it, though. What I have now is a LOT stronger than what I had a couple of months ago.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Almost time to get back to work on this in earnest!

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Wait, what? Why is this on the list? you might well ask. Because I have officially locked in the talented Jennifer MacPherson to record the audiobook version of Secret Origins! I’ve had Jenn in mind for this project for a long time and I finally decided to pull the trigger and make it happen. Our goal is to have the finished audiobook ready for your holiday shopping pleasure.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • Wednesday, June 29: the Shrewsbury Public Library’s summer reading kickoff event, featuring a Local Authors Showcase. That runs next week from 3:30 to 6 PM and I’ll be one of eight (so far) local writers selling and signing books.
  • NEW! I’ve been accepted to the New England Authors Expo in Danvers, MA on July 27. This is a huge day-long show that connects authors with readers, libraries, bookstores, and industry reps. I expect to be exhausted by the end of it, but in a good way.
  • Sunday, October 2: The Connecticut Renaissance Faire’s 2016 Meet the Author series, which runs from 1 to 3 PM. As it happens, I’m playing a more active hand in promoting the Meet the Author series this year (more on that below).
  • Saturday & Sunday, October 15 & 16: The fall New Bedford Bookfest. Times TBA.

MISC.

BibBoardThis last cool announcement is primarily for the benefit of Massachusetts residents, who can now read my first novel, Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins for free via Commonwealth eBooks Collections, part of the BiblioBoard system, which helps libraries across the country increase its access to e-books.

Action Figures was added to the Indie Massachusetts curation through (quoting from the website here) “the SELF-e program, a collaboration between Library Journal and BiblioLabs designed to cultivate robust local writing communities and keep libraries at the center of the indie book movement. SELF-e helps self-published authors and indie presses expand their readership while adding new and diverse indie eBooks to library catalogs across the country.”

You can find Secret Origins in the YA and Children’s Fiction section.

I’m going to close on a bit of a rant/lecture, but I think this is worth the space, so please give it a read.

My wife vended MASSive ComicCon here in Worcester over the weekend, and we learned of a display of blatant cruelty that had us both seething.

The artists’ alley area of the con was huge, which meant a lot of industry pros, independent professionals, and motivated amateurs had somewhere to display their work, which was great.

One attendee apparently disagreed. From what we learned through a few people who witnessed this, a kid asked his father about artists’ alley because, being a kid, he didn’t grasp the concept. In the course of explaining artists’ alley, the dad said many of the artists in this area weren’t very good.

Dad then transcended dickishness and achieved douchebag status by pointing out one particular artist, who was sitting right there, as exemplary of the terrible art on display.

The artist is question, a young woman attending only her second con and selling sketches for short money, managed to shrug it off at first. Later that morning, Dad unlocked his asshole achievement badge. As the artist was returning from the restroom, Dad pointed her out to his kid and remarked, loud enough for her to hear, “That’s that shitty artist we saw.”

Folks, trying to work as an artist, in any medium, whether amateur or pro, is incredibly fucking hard — not just because of the finances involved, not just because society too often dismisses the arts as a legitimate career field, not just because other professional fields try to pass off “experience” and “exposure” as legitimate forms of compensation for artists they(try to) hire, but because at some point, someone is going to be unnecessarily, excessively mean for no reason whatsoever.

Criticism is part of an artist’s life. Good criticism helps artists grow and improve. Bad criticism is inevitable. It won’t be constructive, it won’t be solicited, it won’t be welcome, but it’s something artists need to learn to deal with productively.

The things this man said do not qualify as criticism. He deliberately singled out one young artist to be the target of flat-out cruelty for the sake of it. He said these things to tear this young lady down, because it gave him some twisted form of satisfaction to do so.

Fortunately, every artist around her rallied to her side, talked her down, and were ready to protect her if Dad came around again. When word of this spread, other vendors (including my wife and I) were almost praying he’d show his face again. There would have been a line of people ready to read this prick the riot act. Veronica went over and commissioned a quick sketch of our dog Beatrix to show her support. That’s the happy outcome here: fellow artists did not for one second stand for this bullshit and stood by one of their own.

But Dad is still out there and probably will piss on some other poor unsuspecting artist for shits and giggles, and maybe the next time that person won’t have people standing by him or her to provide the support he or she needs to roll with it and move on. This despicable excuse for a human being might well snuff out someone’s creative spark, and perhaps has done so already.

I offered this story not in the hopes it would enrage you or motivate you to be more supportive to artists — I trust you all do that already — but to make some of you think twice before you decide you simply have to tell an artist how badly you think he/she sucks. If that impulse is there, regardless of the reason, stop and ask yourself exactly why you feel you need to say anything. Chances are, you don’t have to say it; you want to, at which point the question becomes: Why? What good is served by dumping on an artist whose work you don’t like?

You don’t have to praise artists if you sincerely feel they don’t deserve it, but you don’t have to go out of your way to criticize them, either.

In closing, I offer the wise words of Kevin Smith:

Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.

Fun Factoids And Fluff

Last year, I posted some fun background bits about the Action Figures series — trivia about the series and my writing process. Readers enjoyed the peek inside my head, so as I get ready for a weekend working MASSive ComicCon with my wife (and therefore will be away from my laptop), I thought I’d share some more insights (be forewarned, there might be some slightly SPOILERY tidbits).

  • Lovecraft references are scattered throughout the series. One of the more obscure references is to the film version of Re-Animator; the Lumley brothers — Gordon, Stuart, and Jeffrey — are named after director Stuart Gordon and star Jeffrey Combs.
  • While the series is roughly plotted out through the final book, game plans change as the story progresses. Originally, Matt and Sara were going to end up together, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked that idea. It fell into a trope I rather despise: boy meets girl; girl has no interest in boy; boy ignores girl’s feelings and keeps after her; girl breaks down after realizing boy wouldn’t keep trying so hard if his love wasn’t real; boy and girl get together. I dislike that trope because it sends a message that boys shouldn’t respect a girl when she says no, that a girl is a prize to be won, and that someone with self-esteem issues can be “fixed” by the love of a good person. I abandoned that story thread while revising Secret Origins and started planting hints that Sara’s lack of interest was due to the fact she was still coming to grips with her sexuality.
  • Edison “Concorde” Bose is named after Thomas Edison (who, like Concorde, was kind of a dick). Edison’s son Nick is named after Nikola Tesla.
  • Carrie owns a copy of the first American printing of The Hobbit featuring the revised Riddles in the Dark chapter, passed down to her from her father, who got it from his father. In mint condition, this book would be worth close to $2,000. Carrie’s edition is very well-read and nowhere close to mint condition.
  • The Hero Squad’s favorite flavors: Carrie = mocha. Matt = caramel. Sara = maple. Missy = ginger. Stuart = why play favorites? They’re all good.

And now, a bonus factoid or two about The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot

  • The main characters are a subtle homage to a classic Dungeons & Dragons adventuring party composition.  There are two fighters (Derek, a straightforward fighter, and Erika, a ranger type), a thief (Felix), a magic user (David), and a cleric (Winifred). Also, the party starts to form after a chance meeting in a tavern — a traditional starting point for many adventures.
  • Speaking of Winifred, I’d originally planned for her to be a one-adventure character, but I liked her too much. How will she factor in with the rest of the series? You’ll have to wait for Assassins Brawl to find out.
  • Jorge Garcia, who should be cast in everything.
    Jorge Garcia, who should be cast in everything.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes cast actors as certain roles to help me find their characters. In S&L, Winifred’s look is based on former WWE star Stacy Keibler (which I guess would make her a Keibler elf), Derek was inspired by Mummy-era Brendan Fraser, and Felix I’ve always pictured as a scruffy Ryan Reynolds. In Assassins Brawl, I’ve fan-casted two new characters — Lord Paradim and his captain of the guard, Isla Manse — as Jorge Garcia and Gina Torres, respectively.

Curiously, no one has stood out in my mind as suitable for Erika. If anyone has their own fan-casting suggestions, I’d love to hear them.