Friday, September 30, 2011

Bored Now

I've had the first issue of Buffy Season 9 for two weeks now.  I live and die by Joss Whedon.  I love Buffy.  I love Buffy in comics even more.

I couldn't be moved to write anything about this issue.

Not that there is nothing to say.  There's actually quite a bit.  Buffy flirts or possibly flirts with everyone in the cast (more on this in a sec).  She has moved to San Fransisco to work in a coffee shop.  Her friends have moved with her.  She gets drunk and acts stupid at a party.

She never mentions Giles is dead. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

20 rules of detective fiction

The Elizabeth short story for the collection next year has turned into a murder mystery of sorts. The story dimensionalizes let's say the larger Elizabeth universe and gives some perspective on the next novel. It does break by default rule #13 though... but rules are made to be broken.

Looking forward to it as my mom has always been a mystery nut and by extension so am I.

By the way, this is my first post from an iPhone for the blog. Definitely need some more features for this app.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Exit Comfort Zone

Sometimes I feel like this guy trying to plug my novel, but the downside of being an independent writer is that I am my own business.  I have to shill, as uncomfortable as it makes me sometimes.  This somewhat tongue in cheek post over at TNH doesn't really have anything to do with my own situation as a writer.  Not really. 

But just the same, stepping out of my comfort zone, if you have read The Book of Elizabeth, and if you enjoyed it, help an independent writer out by doing some of the following things:

1.  Order a copy.  Pick your poison: paperback, Kindle, or Nook.  iPad and more coming soon.

2. Write a review.  This is huge for indie writers.  Word of mouth is everything.  Post a review at Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble.

3.  Attend an event.  I'm working on possible readings/things in the near future.  Check back for details.

4. LIKE my Facebook page.  Even if you hate the new Facebook. 

5. #Fridayreads and #followfriday him @Darbyharn on Twitter.

I've gotten some really wonderful comments about the book, and a lot of people asking for more, so I feel good about how things are going.  I appreciate your support as always!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Like A Modern Man

Woke up way too early with the need to puke (thanks Ben).  Spent the morning compiling a draft manuscript of a short story collection I will publish after the new year.  I've wanted to do this for a while, but for some reason or another haven't.  This book collects most of my published stories, as well as a few new ones, and a few poems and short pieces for good measure.  I laughed a little too as I realized I will be editing some of the published pieces.  I have been protesting George Lucas doing this to Star Wars recently.  Thankfully no one cares about the original versions of these stories.

The collection may also include a brand new short story set in the Elizabeth universe.  The thought occured to me that it might be a good idea, and a fun way of tiding over anyone who might be wanting more, as it is going to be a long wait for the sequel.

The reason for that is because the sci-fi John Hughes project has become two novels.  The writing is going very well - 116 pages so far.  I don't want to say too much about the particulars of the novels yet, in case I end up losing my enthusiasm, but basically you're going to get a double LP.  It's going to be pretty cool, for me at least.  Hopefully that will be next year (both). 

After that, my plan is to revisit Elizabeth, Miranda and Alice.  More to come!

Art by James Jean.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Reading At Work

My very amazing coworkers threw a bit of party for my book today (along with a bon voyage for our friend Nicole, who is leaving us for another department).  Check out the doodle art by fellow sup Teaya.  Very cool.  It was very, very wonderful of them to do this.  We had amazing cupcakes from Scratch and Andy Rooney - I mean Pat - interviewed me a little about the book.

I am so lucky to work at such an amazing place, and to have such wonderful colleagues.

Thank you all!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Long Time Ago, In A Toys R Us In Paramus

Bumming around on Ben's blog I found this old, very low quality video of a newscast from 1983, featuring a toy aisle from Toys R Us, on the day Return of the Jedi came out:

You got to love this. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This One Has Legs

I picked up the new version of Batgirl today (good thing I had Mike put it in my pull box, because it vanished off the shelves) and wanted to share some thoughts. There's been some controversy over this book, mainly because as part of the DC reboot, and also because Barbara Gordon is back in the costume after 20 years. And walking. For those of you who may not know, Barbara was shot and paralyzed in The Killing Joke back in 1988. This event, along with the contemporaneous arrival of Watchmen, Swamp Thing and Batman: Year One, ushered comic books into the modern, 'adult' age.

Barbara has spent the last two decades in a wheelchair, as Oracle, a sort of computer hacking expert and intelligence officer for Batman's extended crime-fighting operation. Oracle represented a lot of things; real-life consequence to what had been child's play; it doesn't always work out at the end of the issue; and a hero, a symbol, for people with disabilities in stories dominated by people in underwear. When DC announced Barbara had somehow stood up out of her wheelchair and walked again, the outrage by those people that valued her status as the only hero with disabilities in comics should have come as no surprise. To DC, apparently, it did.

DC has come off as surprisingly tone-deaf when it comes to women lately, and that really came through when this week we found out Barbara is not the only character with a, um, makeover:

Amanda 'The Wall' Waller, a long time DC character with a figure unique in comics, became utterly cookie-cutter with her appearance in Suicide Squad #1 (also showcase for a truly stupid revamp of Harley Quinn, a personal favorite). I loved the reaction to some of this, so I had to share it:

Anyways, it's not easy being a woman in the DC universe. What do I think of Batgirl #1 myself? The art was so-so. Some perspective concerns (is that her leg coming at me?) Overall, it was fine. I actually found myself pretty involved in it, especially at the end, when she faces a moment that's very plausible given her experience. Barbara as always is fun and engaging and it's nice to see her in the costume again. Only problem is, costume comics don't do it for me anymore, and the 'new' DC frankly leaves me confused. I'm all for reboots - our pop culture has reboot on the brain lately - but any revisiting of an existing character has to honor the spirit of that character.

Barbara is here in spirit. Does the fact she's no longer disabled dishonor her? Is she her disability? Is it more important that there be a character that is a symbol for people with disabilities?

What did you think?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

George Lucas (Insert Your Opinion Here) My Childhood

Harry Knowles, whose reviews I generally avoid for their lack of perspective, provides quite a bit on the new Star Wars Blu-rays over at his website.

The discussion among fans has basically reduced the films, particulary the original trilogy, to the sum of its parts. As George Lucas has dissected the films, amputated them and grafted on new parts, a large group of fans have done the same. These films have been broken down and analyzed to the breaking point. People forget why they loved them in the first place - or they identify what they loved, and consequently, their childhood - with the parts Lucas excises.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Out With The Wash

Update: more to the story.
Read this somewhat surprising story about a team of authors finding their gay character edited out of their YA novel. A really interested discussion about traditional publishing and YA in general follows. The authors present their choices at the end, but none of them include going independent.

I feel indie-publishing should be an option. I am all for getting the Big 6 to evolve, but with this story and others this week, it seems pretty clear that traditional publishing is not changing with the times. If anything, they may be regressing. Case in point:

What do the girls on these covers all have in common?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Battle Lines

Kiana Davenport writes on her blog about an incredible and discouraging ordeal she recently went through:

In January, 2010, I signed a contract with one of the Big 6 publishers in New York for my next novel. The book was scheduled for hardback publication in August, 2012, and paperback publication a year later. Recently that publisher discovered I had self-published two of my story collections as electronic books. To coin the Fanboys, they went ballistic. The editor shouted at me repeatedly on the phone. I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of 'blatantly betraying them with Amazon,' their biggest and most intimidating competitor. I was not trustworthy. I was sleeping with the enemy.
It gets worse:

Last week, I received from their lawyers an official letter terminating my contract with them, "...for permitting Amazon to publish CANNIBAL NIGHTS, etc...." and demanding back the $20,000 they had paid me as part of their advance. Until then, this publishing giant is holding my novel as hostage, a work that took me five years to write. My agent assures me I am now an 'anathema' to them.

What's really at stake here for the publisher? 

When she signed the contract, it wasn't for her backlog - if the publisher thought so, that's a huge issue.  Kiana and any author has the freedom to do what she wants to with work she holds the rights to.  It can't be they object to her publishing anywhere else at all; one must assume that they understood and most likely encouraged the fact that Kiana would be continuing to write and submit short stories to magazines while under contract with them, and that these stories would possibly be published.  This actually would be a necessary and expected means of promotion by an author they had invested in.  So... what cost is her self-publishing works she now holds the rights to?

Not money.   The couple hundred dollars she might make from a sale of a short story is nothing.  The money she makes from Cannibal Nights may or may not be nothing.  It doesn't represent lost revenue for the publisher.  What's really at stake for the publisher is two fold:

  •  They have signed an author who is actively still self-publishing.  Self-published writers are not the legitimized, industry sanctioned writers we publish.  No thanks.

  • As an author that belongs to a house, your voice belongs to them.  You have no voice but which they choose to express. 
This is truly unfortunate for Kiana.  It's a cautionary tale as she says.  And it's a wake up call, to everyone with a voice.  Stay independent, and keep it. 

UPDATE: Now, there seems to be debate on whether a non-compete clause existed in her contract.  If it did, and Kiana signed it, then she is in violation of it.  My opinions center particuarly not on the purpose of the clause - but the intent.  If the intent is to prevent an author from self-publishing or publishing any work to which they hold the rights - i.e. previously published material that is not a new novel the publisher has paid you for - then I disagree with that.  Good discussion here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It Will All Come Together Someday

And even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom to us
by the awful grace of God.
- Aeschylus, 3rd century BCE

Friday, September 09, 2011

On The Future of the Book

Following the lead of Joel Friedlander , I offer below my responses to the 5 keywords supplied in this interview:

#ebook—When I read the word ebook, I think ‘ibook.’ Not that digital publishing is some consequence or invention of Apple, but that it’s the engine of democracy in publishing. ‘I’ finally have control, choice and opportunity. Not only in communicating my art to an audience, but it communicating my art period; the ebook is going to allow for wonderful experimentation. The book will evolve with the form.

#future—Unknown. Will traditional publishing perish? Will it adapt and survive? Will the vehicles for e-publishing like Amazon or Apple just become another publishing house, and gate keepers of digital reading? Does the prospect of financial gain in e-publishing create a bubble that bursts in the end? I believe great works of literature will emerge through self-publishing and end once and for all the stigma against it. Will these works struggle to find readers? Will the independent community support itself?

#indie—A point of pride. At the launch party for my novel The Book of Elizabeth, my brother used the term ‘independent artist’ when introducing me. It took me off guard how proud that made me. As an ‘indie author,’ I am on my own in every way, but I am together with hundreds of other artists who have proudly stood for their own art in their own medium for decades without institutional bias against them for doing so. I stand on top of a wall that has separated writers from readers for centuries. The wall is falling.

#prices—The threshold. Is a novel at $2.99 worth less than a comic book at the same price? A DVD rental? Open question. Prices for ebooks will destroy the paperback market I think, but not books in general. Books will continue to be desired and be works in their own right. Hardcover and unique editions will probably thrive somewhat as people look to a book for its inherent value and properties. And their scarcity.

#innovation—Necessary. Traditional novels as ebooks will do just fine, but the future of this form will be defined by those that explore the boundaries of digital publishing. Do they incorporate video and sound elements, and become more like comic books? Movies? Do they become more interactive, and become more like games? Do words become decoration, as opposed to foundation? Does our language itself evolve through this process? Is the written word really the wall?

Monday, September 05, 2011

An Open Letter to Sinead O’Connor

Dear Sinead,
This is in response to your ad for a new boyfriend.  I don’t meet many of the qualifications you specified, but if you hear me out, I think you will see that I am your man.

·         I am only 36, but I am an old soul like you.

·         I don’t live in Dublin or Wicklow.  I live in Iowa, but I spent a summer in Dublin studying at Trinity College.  I know a summer isn’t much but Irish hearts are made in days.

·         I am gainfully employed.  I have a pot to piss in.

·         I am an artist.  I write novels out of frustration for the songs I can’t sing.

·         I am sufficiently hairy.

·         You had me at hello (1990).

·         I am not a Brian or Nigel.  I am a Darby.

·         I stood by you back then through all the hate and misunderstanding and jokes at your expense.

·         I have no hair really on my head and am a slacker when it comes to the hair on my face.

·        I missed meeting you in Dublin by a few minutes at a restaurant near the Abbey Theatre.  This doesn’t mean much except that my friend Polly apologized for even telling me she saw you in the restaurant before the play started, because she knew from the first day we met that my goals for summer were 1) To meet you  2) go to my family’s home in Enniskillen 3) write fiction, in that order.

·         I am snuggly.  The correct term is ‘Darbalicious.’

·        Every time I hear you sing I think it will be fine if I die and never hear the sound of God’s voice, because there is no voice that could ever be more beautiful than yours.

·         I live in my own house and I like my mother, even if she didn’t want me watching your videos.

Sinead I hope you find true love and happiness.  Even if this and all the other applications give you a laugh, it will be a gift to have added to your happiness.


To Freddie On His 65th Birthday

Follow the link to see a truly wonderful happy birthday wish to the astonishing Freddie Mercury.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Super Hamm

Don't know if anyone has seen the new Superman pics, but... yeah.
Here's where I line up, and AMAZING artist Phil Noto brought it to life for us:

Your Nice New Outfit.
I've been living on Phil's Tumblr for a while now.  Great for pot stirring while writing.

Going On Faith

I am a huge, huge, Buffy fan.  Like a lot of other people, I tripped out over the return of the character and world in comics, with Joss Whedon writing.  The show was a comic book at heart, with seasons structured like comic book arcs, with a big bad every year.  The comic started off tremendously, rolling along for three years until - it rolled along for three years.  Season 8 ran way too long and the Big Bad - Twilight - turned out to be Angel.  I had no problem at all with the villian being Angel.  I never read the IDW post-Angel series, so for me, Angel and crew died in that alley.  What happened there?  Did something make him turn evil?  He had been on a do bad things for good reasons path at Wolfram and Hart in Season 5.  Maybe this was the culmination of that.

Ah, no.

I still don't understand Twilight's motivations, and reading the first issue of what is technically Season 9, Angel & Faith #1, it's obvious no one does.  Not Angel and not the writers.  The Twilight thing informs everything here.  Angel murdered Giles at the end of last season and is now trying to atone with Faith's help (wonderful reversal of their relationship).  The only problem in this wonderful comic is that Angel is still wishy-washy on the Twilight episode and so too then is the writing.  Either Angel was responsible for his actions, or he wasn't; just pick one and move on.

Here's a run down on the many, many great things about this comic:

  • The art by Rebekah Issacs.  Excellent likenesses and very strong overall.
  • The dialogue - sounds just like them.
  • Characterization.  It's Angel and Faith.  No doubts this time.
  • The concept!  I love the idea of the two of them working off of Giles' old cases.
  • The end.  I like where this is going.  It's very in keeping with the series.  Here's hoping they actually get there in a reasonable amount of time.