BOOK NEWS – DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES

Just a quick note.  DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES has been uploaded to IngramSpark.  It can now be ordered from the 40,000 platforms, including thousands of brick and mortar bookstores that IngramSpark spark!

Just a note of explanation – IngramSpark is to print books what Amazon is to Ebooks. They’re a giant publisher and distributor, hosting many titles, and providing services to small and independent publishers.  Getting onto IngramSpark is potentially a major breakthrough.

Does that mean I’ll be getting into real bookstores?  Probably not. The economics don’t quite work.

Basically, physical bookstores operate on a rip and return basis.  They order books, they try to sell them within a specific period of time. If they don’t, then they just rip off the covers, send them back, junk the rest and only pay for what they’ve sold.  Believe it or not, that’s the way it’s been working for a hundred years, and it’s been working fine… mostly. It’s the operating mode for books, magazines and newspapers.  And it works fine for big publishers, dealing in substantial volumes.

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TINY PLASTIC MEN – JUST GO WATCH IT

Tiny Plastic Men scores AMPIA award nominations | National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI)

I’m a horrible person. I freely admit that. But I’m not horrible all the time. I have moments when I’m even okay to be around.

And when those moments happen, you’ll find me searching for the gently quirky, the strange, the oddball. All those hidden treasures and diamonds in the rough we all go blasting past, on our way to our busy lives.

Which brings me to Tiny Plastic Men, a very quirky, very fun little television series that deserves cult status and a lot more attention than it seems to have gotten.

Tiny Plastic Men is about three guys who work in a little independent toy company, Gottfried Brothers. Gottfried isn’t Mattel or Lego, but by God, they’re in there giving it their all, from board games, to action figures, to video games and somehow, they’ve managed to care themselves a niche.

Our heroes are three peons who work in the testing department: Crad, played by Chris Craddock — the everyman of the group, middle aged, divorced, burnt out, anger issues and yet somehow struggling to get by and be a decent person while pining for his boss, for whom he nurses a crush; October, played by Mark Meer, who starts off goth and gets seriously weird, and Addison, played by Matthew Alden, a kind of stereotypical lovable lunk of a manchild. Rounding out the cast are Alexandra Gottfried, played by, Belinda Cornish, daughter of old man Gottfried, and a piranha in a woman’s body, who Crad pines for. Beyond that, there’s a revolving cast of recurring characters.

Given that this is a show about three buddies working as product testers in some second string toy factory, you shouldn’t expect this to be your regular sitcom about people sitting around their apartments or having real jobs in the real world. There’s a basic silliness to the premise, a bit of surrealism, a bit of absurdity, a lot of off the wall stuff. This is not Friends, trust me. It’s not even the Big Bang Theory.

In fact, I don’t think that there’s anything quite like it. The closest I can come to is a sort of Earthbound version of Red Dwarf or perhaps a more insane version of the IT Crowd.

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COMING SOON – SQUAD 13

[draft cover by Dean Naday]

SQUAD 13 –  Suppose all those unkillable, masked slashers from the 80s and 90s were rounded up and enlisted into the army as a nightmare squad of unstoppable killing machines. Suppose you used them for problems just as terrifying – vampire infestations, zombie outbreaks, alien invasions, incursions from another dimension, all those supernatural paranormal nightmares. The situation is bad, the Squad goes in and they never leave survivors. Suppose they’re worse than anything they face. Suppose you’re trapped in their nightmare.

Welcome to the Attic! My Youtube Channel!

WELCOME TO THE PREMIERE of my new YouTube Channel “The Attic, with D.G. Valdron”, which will feature info on my books and novels, as well as takes on literature, movies and TV that may amuse and disturb.
The whole thing is driven by my friend, Dean Naday, the producer of the channel, and Patrick Lowe, our guest editor. Dean in particular is the driving force. Dean’s background is in Independent films, and he’s produced and directed works including The Exquisite Corpse, Momento Mori and StarWatchers.  Dean has been pushing us to get a youtube channel going, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with him on an ongoing basis. Patrick of course, has his own Youtube channel and a long history as an animator and independent film maker.
There’s a video on last year’s booklaunch of my “Drunken Elf Chronicles” hosted by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild at Artspace, and a separate video on the questions and answers session during the event.  There’s also a movie review of “The Marvels”, and a video analysis on how the DCU failed as a superhero movie franchise. In the next couple of weeks I’ll have an introductory video on Dr. Who fan films, and a video on the Canadian cult sci-fi series “The Lexx”.
In the future there’ll be more videos related to my books, as well as movie and TV reviews, and perhaps interviews with other writers, artists and assorted mad and unsavoury types.
Please check out the channel, and consider liking, subscribing and commenting on the videos, and of course share with your friends and others who might appreciate the content.

Thoughts on this Writing Business

Recently, I came across a year end wrap up by Ron Vital, a writer. Basically, he’s been working at this writing thing pretty hard core. And he’s been doing annual wrap ups, providing detailed breakdowns in terms of his expenses, his sales, his sales breakdowns and his marketing and promotional efforts going back six or seven years.

In some ways, we’re pretty similar. We’ve both been self publishing for about the same length of time. We’ve both kind of had this lead time of the first few years not making very much. We’ve both moved up dramatically in sales in the last few years. We both write and publish a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. We both have a lot of books.

Where Ron differs from me is that he’s much more meticulous about keeping track of what he’s spending and how, what he’s trying, where the money is going, and whether it produces a return. He’s also deliberately investing more and heavily into selling his books.

Now for me, I pretty much do no marketing at all. No bookbub, no book funnel, no amazon ads, facebook ads, no newsletter, etc. etc Certainly not in the methodical and meticulous way that he does it.

So here are the awkwards. He is heavy duty working at marketing, to the point where for most years he went heavily into the red. His last two years, he netted a profit of about $25 and then $500 (mostly by reducing expenses).

But we made about the same amount of money in terms of gross sales and revenue. Actually, I think I’ve consistently done better. Not necessarily by huge gigantic increments. But in terms of grosses, I think I’m about $500 to $1000 ahead.

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Conventions Update

THE WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION in Kansas City is coming up. Kansas City is actually in Missouri, a fact which provides me with no end of bemusement. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been to several World Fantasy Conventions over the years, but too irregularly to do much good. I’m trying to make it a steady thing.  This should be a good Conference, good people, and maybe I’ll make a mark. I’m actually part of the programming, I have three items:

* Mythology & Fantasy of the Fox; 4PM Friday – with Alyc Helms, Kij Johnson, Rena Mason and Gillian Pollack. Hopefully this has nothing to do with what the Fox says. The Fox in literature and myth is one of the classic tricksters – a powerless, marginalized underdog who manages to triumph and overcome, not through power or strength or even courage, but through sheer cleverness. For the powers that be, for the establishment and social order, the Fox is a subversive, a deceiver, a persecutor and a thief. For the marginalized and underdogs, the fox is a hero. Everyone admits the fox is a clever beast, anti-social, revolutionary, and damned sexy. In my writing, many of my characters are ‘foxes’ – tricksters who survive by being smart.  I’m really looking forward to this panel, and a discussion about ‘trickster’ characters in folklore, modern culture and writing. Oh, and I’ll give away a book to an audience member as part of the panel.

* Reading; 5PM Saturday – I have half an hour to do a reading. I’m going to regale the audience with tales from Twilight of Echelon, short stories and vignettes based on the retro hallucinogenic works of artist Robert Pastern. Echelon is a world, or perhaps a reality, or perhaps something completely different, right next to our own, where everything familiar is recast and distorted as surreal and mysterious, and where the lost members of a human colony struggle to maintain their identity, unsure if the Earth they remember still exists, or if it ever existed.  Again, I’ll give away a book.

* Autographs – I’m also doing the Autograph session, along with everyone else. Honestly, in terms of fame, I’m a Z-list kind of guy, but I’m always startled to discover someone out there has heard of me and actually brings a book to sign. Typically, what I do, is just set up a display of a dozen of my books, relax and chat with anyone who stops by. If someone wants to buy something, I’ll sell it to them. If I like them, it’s free. I usually bring up a handful of books and make sure they find good homes before the convention starts.

This is actually my fourth major Writers Conference/Convention this year, and honestly, I’m glad I’m coming to the end.  I’m starting to get worn out.  For the record, this is what I’ve been up to.

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The Return of the Mermaid’s Tale

This year, Fossil Cove Press re-released The Mermaid’s Tale, a hard core, grim dark fantasy about Orcs, serial killers and redemption. It’s been out of print since Five Rivers Publications had closed down and rights reverted back to me.

The Mermaid’s Tale is a gritty, film noir chronicle of a nameless female Orc who is summoned to find the killer of a sacred being, a mermaid. The murder was so heinous that only a savage creature could have done it, so her people have summoned a monster to hunt a monster. The Orc’s a rough and brutal character, the product of a cruel life as an outcast, but smarter than she lets on.  Her quest takes her across a multi-racial city where she encounters different races, and finds herself on the trail of something her world has never seen before – the first serial killer. As she hunts, something peculiar happens, she develops empathy and insight, her interactions with strange races trigger empathy, and she becomes obsessed with stopping the killer. While all of this is going on, the City itself is spiraling into civil war. Can she stop the killer before it all goes to pieces?

I wrote this years ago, back in the days when I was in a writer’s group that included Steve Erickson (Malazan Book of the Fallen), David Keck (Tales of Durand), Ian Ross (CBC’s Joe from Winnipeg/Governor General Award Winner), Scott Ellis (Benny the Antichrist and Crawling to the Moon) and Mireille Theriault (Prairie Witch).  Am I name dropping? Hell yes!!

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Ron vs the Cover Monsters!

ADVENTURES WITH RON, Part IV

Ron and I had his four books ready to go, except for … everything.

A book isn’t just a manuscript. You need an ISBN registration, you need a cover, you need a back cover blurb and material, an author’s bio, an author’s photo, copyright information. We needed this stuff called Metadata – a long description, a short description, a one line description, something called BISAC, something else called SOE (search engine optimization).

Basically, after the big monolith of the manuscript itself, we also needed to build all the little tiny pieces of text that would go into the book and its online prooofiles.

Ron’s Toltec books were a trilogy, so we thought it would be a good idea to include adverts in each book of the trilogy for the other trilogy books. That turned into adverts for all of his books. And the idea of adverts suggested that we should include blurbs and art for the adverts. And the Adverts section needed to be slightly different for each of the four books. So a lot of work to keep track of.

If all this strikes you as bearing a passing resemblance to this thing called work? Yeah.

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