Too Many Plugs, Not Enough Sockets

Despite my recent diatribe against unprofessional publishers, I continue to have good experiences with a few I’ve worked with in the past. Most recently, my story “Crocodile Tears”—heretofore an exclusive for newsletter subscribers—has been published in Betty Fedora Issue Four. This will be of particular note to Necropolis fans, since it prominently features professional moiroligist and funeral livener-upper, Tracy Poole.

There’s also my latest Sherlockian adventure featured in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Part VII. The Eliminate the Impossible chunk of the series also encompasses Part VIII.

That leads us, naturally enough, to the Kickstarter for Parts IX and X, AKA the 2018 Annual. My next story is confirmed for Part IX. The Kickstarter has been backed for a long time now, but it’s winding down, so if you want to take advantage of reduced prices and early shipping, now’s the time to do so.

Then there’s the latest multi-author giveaway I’ve entangled myself in. This is a big one, with not only a shit-ton of free funny mystery novels up for grabs (Sex Tape included), but also a new Kindle Fire for one lucky winner. You have until Monday to enter.

On the current-project front, it’s been very same-old. I get up in the afternoon. I have breakfast at an entirely inappropriate hour. And then I work away most of the night on Longshot Comics. I’ve picked up the pace in an effort to get it done at last. Longshot Comics Book Three: The Inauspicious Adventures of Filson Gethers is effectively complete. I’m just waiting for what I hope will be the penultimate paperback proof copy to show up in the mail. They’re stacking up on my desk, with copious Post-It notes to remind me how I tweaked the art on this page versus that page. This will be, fingers crossed, the one that allows me to make a final decision on percentage of contrast against sharpness in which piece of software moving forward.

Typesetting on Longshot Comics Book One: The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers is nearly done. Longshot Comics Book Two: The Failed Promise of Bradley Gethers remains dreaded unexplored territory.

As 2018 is the 25th Anniversary of the original minicomic edition of The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers, the entire trilogy will be published/back in print/available as ebooks this year. Hopefully in a month or two at most. I can’t wait to work on something—anything—else again.

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

I sometimes wonder where all the professionals went.

I’ve now lost track of how many publishers are in breach of their contracts with me. In major and minor ways, one after the other has taken it upon themselves to not honour the terms we both agreed to and signed off on. I’ve seen everything from a refusal to send me a contributor copy of a book because “postage to Canada is more expensive than I thought it would be” to an outright failure to pay a four-figure installment of my fee because, apparently, math is hard. The cavalier way legal documents are ignored for petty, self-serving reasons makes me wish I were more litigious, but in most cases they’ve safely hedged their bets. How many starving artists are going to throw away more money than they’re owed just to pay a lawyer to write a firmly worded letter? None, that’s how many.

The breaches even flow the other way, like a bad case of acid reflux. In recent years, I myself have been accused of being in breach by one publisher—right up until I reminded him of a specific clause I had added to our contract to cover the precise eventuality in question. That one turned on its heel damn fast, going from a vague threat of legal action, to a polite “my bad” mea culpa in less than an hour. Still, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Read your fucking contract before you start with the cease-and-desists. You might be surprised what’s in there.

On the screenwriting front, this sort of shit is handled by my agent. When I have to cope with it myself on the publishing end of things, I’m reminded why I pay her a substantial cut of the proceeds for TV gigs. Most artist types aren’t built to swim with the sharks. Even if we don’t get eaten alive, we sink to the bottom without our water wings and drown. I normally try to avoid confrontation, and I don’t like to play the bad guy, but I have to keep reminding myself that if I’m getting screwed, they’re the ones being the bad guy. An “unfair engager” is what they’re called in the film and television business, where writers have an entire guild to bring pressure to bear and put these short-changers in the doghouse where other members aren’t even allowed to work for them until they set things right and pay up.

Independent publishing is too new, too scattershot, too disorganized to expect any sort of collective bargaining to emerge anytime soon. It’s still the wild west out there, and that’s a good thing. There’s a certain freedom I enjoy when I have to do it all myself. On occasions when I deal with middlemen because I’ve opted to sell a story to a promising anthology, I know that if I end up eating shit, it will only be a one-time affair. I may not like confrontation, but I hold grudges forever. Screw me once and you don’t get to work with me ever again. That might not seem like a dire threat. There are plenty of other sucker writers out there waiting to bend over, but not an inexhaustible supply—especially when it comes to talented or even competent ones. Publishing has long been a pulp business, and writers are the trees in the forest. Chop down too many and you’re left with nothing but a spoiled, clear-cut wasteland.

Only a couple of years ago, I’d typically have as many as ten stories making the rounds, trying to hook publishers at any given time. As of this writing, I have one story out, flirting with two different publishers. I have another two that have been placed and are awaiting publication. That’s all. My writing hasn’t slowed down any. I’m still pumping out a new short story here or there, but for the most part I’m hoarding them. There will be more collections like Raw and Other Stories in the future. Increasingly, they’ll feature more stories that have never appeared anywhere else, and stories I never so much as submitted. The rewards for handing over exclusive first-print rights for a year are often token. And the time these stories spend in rights limbo, or collecting dust in a slush pile, is better spent getting edited, prepped, and formatted for the next book of my own making.

The industry has changed vastly since the first time I had a story printed in an anthology. Few publishers have stepped up their game to contend with this change, and authors are leaving them behind in droves to go independent. If it’s gotten to the point where many publishing houses can’t even meet the bare-minimum requirements of a professional relationship—like honouring a legal contract—they’re going to vanish into history like the Gutenberg Press.

Dream Deals and Fantasy Fodder

January has rocked the spreadsheet here at Eyestrain Productions. Only a few days past the mid-month mark, a number of personal records have fallen. This is already my biggest month for Kindle Unlimited page reads, and today has hit a new single-day record for most pages read (taking out the previous record that was set only yesterday). It didn’t just break that record, it shattered it. And the day is far from done.

Some of the success lies with the current multi-author fantasy-novel promotion that is going on thanks to the efforts of Andrea Pearson. Necropolis is featured along with over fifty other books that are being offered at a reduced price under the broad genre umbrella. Everything from epic fantasy to urban fantasy is included, with self-selected content ratings ranging from G to NC-17. I chose an R rating for Necropolis, humorous though it is, due to some naughty language and the icky nastiness of the infamous Chapter Thirteen. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, it’s priced at $0.99 until the end of tomorrow. If that’s going to break your wallet, plenty of other books in the promo are free, including Andrea’s own five-book box set.

I should reiterate for those of you who always tell me, “But I don’t own a Kindle,” you can still read Kindle ebooks on many other devices. Amazon offers free apps for your phone, your laptop, and your desktop. I’m pretty sure, if you look hard enough, that you can find a reader for your electric toothbrush and toaster oven as well.

Paperback Writer

After many weeks of proof copies and revisions, all my books are finally available as paperbacks from Amazon. Those of you who aren’t into ebooks and only like to curl up with a book they can physically spoon with, now’s your chance.

Here are some quick links to get you to the appropriate pages fast.

If you’re an buyer, you can get your copy of…

Necropolis here.

Sex Tape here.

Raw and Other Stories here.

and Filmography here.

If you’re an buyer from Canunkistan, you can get your copy of…

Necropolis here.

Sex Tape here.

Raw and Other Stories here.

And Filmography here.

And if you’re an Amazon customer from anywhere else in the world, with your own local yokel-outlet, I’m sure you can look up my work all on your own because I’m all hyperlinked out.

Moved to Tears

The first person on earth has now read Longshot Comics Book Three: The Inauspicious Adventures of Filson Gethers. It was the gentleman translating it for the Italian edition from Prospettiva Globale. “Moved to tears” was the verdict. “A few times,” no less.

And yes, it was intentional. There are plenty of jokes throughout, but it also gets into the feels by the end. Dots and toilet humour can, when played correctly, conspire to make you cry.

Work continues to march along. It’s still too early to give you a solid release date for Book Three or the reprints of One and Two. The covers, at least, are just about done, but there remains a lot of heavy lifting to be done for the interiors of the first two volumes.

I am reliably informed that December is a terrible time to publish anything new, so I expect early 2018 is going to be it. Appropriate really. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers. If that makes you feel old, think how it makes me feel. That’s right, old and tired.

In the meantime, Raw and Other Stories is being offered for free to the wider public for the first time ever this weekend. It’s part of October’s Mystery and Thriller sale, which is full of fun free ebooks for you to grab while the grabbin’s good. Follow the links, click, tap, swipe, or do whatever it is you crazy kids get up to with your devices, and get reading.

Dead Trees

A two-month break is a long non-blogging stretch at Eyestrain Productions, but rest assured it’s been all work and no fun. After the not-so-subtle hinty post in July, I can now officially confirm that Longshot Comics Book Three: The Inauspicious Adventures of Filson Gethers exists. In some form. Just not a purchasable form…yet.

The Italian edition is off for translation, and work on reprints of Book One and Two continues.

The proof is in the dog-eared proof copy. Finnegan expresses as much curiosity about Book Three of Longshot Comics as any other long-time reader.

And then becomes its first critic by shoving pages off the table.

Meanwhile, paperback editions of Necropolis and Raw await my final seal of approval before being made available through Amazon.

And my contributor copy of Part VII of the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories has arrived. My story “The Adventure of the Mind’s Eye” bookends this edition with Jack Reacher author, Lee Child’s foreword. Retail copies are available at the end of October, but you can pre-order now.

No Time in the Present

So many updates, and no time to write it all down.

I could tell you about my work on the new animated TV show ToonMarty and link you to some of my episodes that have shown up on YouTube.

I could tell you about my trip to Paris and all the morbid history I got to hang out with.

I could tell you about my last three appearances on Cinema Smackdown and my pending chat about the Fantasia film fest tonight at 7:00 on CJLO.

I could even tell you how the sequel to Necropolis is coming along.

But mostly my time is occupied by a new/old project that requires me to produce nearly 300 pages of reformatted art—hopefully before the end of the year.

I’ll give you a clue what that involves.

Observant readers may extrapolate additional information from one of the file names appearing in that screenshot.

Yes, it’s for real this time. There’s a contract and an advance payment I’ve already spent.

What the hell have I let myself in for?

In honour of the passing of one of my personal favourite film directors, George Romero, newsletter subscribers will be receiving a brand-new exclusive short story—my one and only foray into flesh-eating zombie fiction. Sign up now to get it with the next newsletter, along with other unique content and exclusives.

Advanced Warning

I have a couple of book promotions coming up next week that I wanted to mention here. If you haven’t grabbed a copy of Filmography on the cheap yet, there will be two windows of opportunity to get it for free. And even if you already have it/read it/left a review/bought the t-shirt, there will be plenty of other mysteries and thrillers and crime stories from other authors for you to download for zero dollars and zero cents.

Download All the eBooks will be running their giveaway from June 9 – 11.

And Renee Pawlish will be running one from June 17 – 18. The page hasn’t been updated yet, but head over there when the time comes to see all the goodies.



The Game Is Apaw

“The Adventure of the Cat’s Claws,” my latest Sherlockian mystery, has been published in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part VI: 2017 Annual. It’s now available on Amazon for Kindle, with hardcover and paperback editions coming next Tuesday. This is the biggest collection in the series yet, brimming with new tales of Holmes, Watson, and other famed and infamous associates. Once again, I write from the point of view of Baker Street Irregular, Wiggins, as he reveals the tawdry truth behind “The Veiled Lodger”—one of the final stories of the original Conan Doyle canon.

With the seal of approval from the Conan Doyle estate, all proceeds will go towards the restoration of Undershaw, for the benefit of the Stepping Stones school that is now set up in the grand house that was home to Sir Arthur back when he was writing such famed tales as The Hound of the Baskervilles. As revealed in “The Veiling Lodger” and “The Cat’s Claws,” Holmes didn’t face off against gigantic dogs alone—there was at least one gigantic cat in the mix.

Followers of The MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories will be dropping by the blog for a visit, so let me take a moment to offer them a handy checklist of my other mystery and crime books for sale through Amazon, and available to read for free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Necropolis is a supernatural thriller full of intrigue, murder mysteries, and comedy for those who like their detective stories to come with a touch of magic and horror.
Raw and Other Stories features twenty tales of crimes, major and minor, petty and vindictive. It’s a single-author collection that prints many of my shorts that have previously been published in anthologies and magazines, as well as new material appearing for the first time.
Sex Tape is a soft-boiled detective thriller about the sleazy side of Hollywood, and the underbelly of the Montreal skin-flick industry. Join ex-paparazzo Sid Volke and publicist Alexandra Middleton as they race against time to solve a murder and keep a stolen celebrity sex tape from going public over the Christmas holidays.
Filmography tells the story of three obsessive film fans who decide to make one final motion picture feature with their favourite deceased horror-movie star by kidnapping his corpse and putting him in front of the camera again. Extortion plots and international felonies snowball out of control, until everyone is in danger of ending up just as dead as their headlining thespian.

My thanks go out to all the newcomers making this visit. I hope you enjoy the new Holmes story and that you’ll want to read more material in my solo books. If you like what you see, stick around, follow the blog and/or subscribe to the newsletter.