Passion Counts

Once upon a time, in the thrilling days of yesteryear, there was a thing called the Big Wheel.  It wasn’t like other tricycles.  Oh no.  It had…wait for it…a BIG WHEEL.

wpid-bigwheel-1

The definition of awesome.

It was different from other tricycles.  It was better.  It had all three  primary colors (ALL of them!)  It weighed about an eighth of a pound so you could drag it anywhere.  The wheels made cool sounds like a grown-up car.  It had the finest braking system in the world: your feet.

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Check out that seating.  O, yeah.

But most importantly of all, the Big Wheel was built to take whatever punishment an eight-year-old kid could think to inflict on it.

Jump
 “Tell Mom I want Spaghetti-Os for dinneeeeeerrr!”

The point is that once Danny-Down-The-Street got one, it was Game Over for any other trike.  Three-wheeled Schwinns and Huffys littered the streets of our neighborhood as kids abandoned them in the gutters.  We loved our Big Wheels, we absolutely loved them.  Nothing else would do.  It gave us a sense of adventure and wonder at what could happen next.

85 Sweet Big Wheel JumpFly, kid.  Fly.

That’s the kind of passion and enthusiasm I am hearing from you guys about Black Jack.  The readers that have read all 20 chapters are wildly enthusiastic.   One reader commented that she read the entire novel in a single sitting.  Some of you have read it twice already, despite the fact that is hasn’t been out a month.  You are saying very, very nice things to me (and thank you!), but more importantly, those of you who love the app really love it.  You’ve found something that makes you wonder what could happen next.

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It’s hard to find something that you love as much as a Big Wheel (or whatever your Big Wheel was) and it’s a rare thing to find something that makes us genuinely passionate.  That kind of wild-eyed enthusiasm and excitement is something we all carry happily in our hearts.

Race

Sometimes for the rest of our lives.

~A.R.Witham

Thanks for sharing Black Jack: A Moving Novel with your friends.  Research has shown that people who share the app are more likely to win a Monkey Island (yes, an island made of monkeys), and are 97% more attractive to the opposite sex.  Get on it.

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Click here to get Black Jack FREE for your iPad.

Writers, Readers & iPad’s New Frontier

Traditional books are going through an epic transformation at the moment unlike anything we have seen since the Gutenberg printing press or the Linotype.  The advent of popular digital books has seen the removal of the middle-man (publishing houses) between the writer and the consumer, and it is throwing the traditional publishing business into a tailspin.

Image“But vampire bondage books were selling so well!”

Independent authors are celebrating the demise of traditional publishing with a fervor usually reserved for a moon landing or the final episode of Breaking Bad.  To many, it’s Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead, and now I can finally publish my epic masterpiece.

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“Now all the world can look upon my Star Wars-Chipmunk erotica and weep with delight!”

Here’s a word to the wise, independent writers:  be very careful what you wish for.  Publishing houses reject books for a reason, and it’s not just because they don’t love your Beards-by-Patrick-Rothfuss makeover.

Image “…but it’s stabby from so many angles!”

There are damn few people that can tell a good story, and fewer still who can do it over 300 pages.  Every time I got turned down by a publisher, it made me look inward and discover something about my story that could be better.  It made me better.  The magic is always in the re-write.

Image(And there is magic inside…there always is.)

A unique kind of transformation happens through rejection.  It forces you to sharpen your skills, cut the fat and remember your job as a storyteller.  J.K Rowling, Louis L’Amour, C.S. Lewis, Stephanie Meyers were all rejected multiple times.  The initial rejection for H.G. Wells War of the Worlds read: An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book,” and William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies received this awesome bullet to the head: “An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”

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15 million copies of rubbish.  C’mere Piggy.

It’s easy to say “keep trying and you will succeed,” but that’s a Disney Saturday Morning feel-good maxim and I don’t think it’s true.  The point is that getting kicked in the teeth is an imperative test of one’s character.  You get stronger with every rejection.

ImageAnd if you’re smart about it…so does your art.

~A.R.Witham

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Thank you for reading.  You can receive the first chapter of Black Jack: A Moving Novel free for your iPad by clicking here.

I Don’t Read Fantasy Books

If you are seeing this, it is a (nearly) given truth that you read a lot.  All I write about or think about are stories and how they are told.  It doesn’t really matter if it is a traditional novel, a comic book, a movie, a television show, or even a commercial with a good tale to tell; I spend nearly every waking hour thinking about storytelling and how it can be done well.  Black Jack, my current project, is an adventure story told in a fantastical setting.  When I talk with people about it, some perk right up and want to hear the broad strokes, but I am amazed how many times I have heard the same reaction:

“Oh, I don’t read fantasy books.”

head-scratching-kid

Say whaaaa?

When I ask why not, they usually mumble something about, “Well I’d rather read something that took place, you know, in the real world,” and a vague note of dissatisfaction with “stories that aren’t logical”.  If pressed further, people will flat-out say, “Well all that stuff is for kids.  And I don’t want to read books meant for kids.”

smart-kid

My data shows you need to get over yourself.

Curiouser and curiouser, thought Alice.  We’ll I’d like to introduce just a bit of Vulcan logic for your consideration.  The prize for the best-selling fiction novel of all time is tied between two books at 200 million apiece.  Those books?  A Tale of Two Cities and The Little Prince.  Hey what do you know?  One is fiction, the other is fantasy.

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In third place with 150 million?  The Lord of the Rings.

Fourth place is tied again, between a Chinese fantasy story about two aristocratic families called Dream of the Red Chamber and our old pal The Hobbit.

Hong-Lou-Meng-01

Dream of the Red Chamber

Well wait a second: 3 of the top 4 best-sellers of all time are fantasy novels.  Also in the running?  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Alchemist, Watership Down, Charlotte’s Web, Johnathan Livingston Seagull, Peter Rabbit, The Wind in the Willows, 1984, The Hunger Games and oh yes, that little heptalogy called Harry Potter.

1984Fantasy novels represent the best of what we have to offer; stories that exist outside of time and place that blend rules and situations created from whole cloth for one purpose only – to reveal the character that is universal to all mankind.  What does it mean to suffer and persevere, what does it mean to face your fear, sacrifice yourself for another, or come of age surrounded by forces too dark and terrible to comprehend?  If I tell you the story from the perspective of never-was in never-land, somehow, inexorably, inevitably, it becomes more true.

If you don’t read fantasy novels, may I take a moment to suggest you may want to begin.  There are a good number of people over the last several hundred years who have found something worth discovering in places where others fear to tread.

sam

Click here to get Black Jack FREE for your iPad.

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