One week. We are exactly one week away from the "official" launch of ANOM: Awakening. That makes today's entry my final post before launch day... it also means this could be the most important post I've ever written.
So many people have asked what they can do to help me or support me as I begin this long-awaited journey into the literary world. My default answer, in the past, would have been a quick and final, "nothing." I would tell people, "There is nothing you can do to help." That answer was a lie.
I HATE asking for help. I'm not sure if it's one of the faults of being "male" or if it's a peculiar quirk of my own personality, but it is a fact . . . I would rather suffer alone, than dare inconvenience anyone else. But, as my wife Vanessa has pointed out so many times, this book is too important to let pride or personality quirks get in the way.
I NEED YOUR HELP!
So what can you do? There are two important ways you can help my novel become a success.
1. Sharing Is Caring: There's an old adage that everyone in the world is separated by a mere six degrees. According to the New York Times, Facebook has lowered that number to three and half. The best and biggest thing you can do to help is to share my information. Share this post through social media. Share my Facebook page with your friends. Please (PLEASE!) tell people about my book.
Our mantra has been that it just takes the "right" person to read my book... according to Facebook that person is three and a half "shares" away.
2. Be My Critic: I hope you buy my book through Amazon! I hope you read it. I hope you enjoy it, but even if you don't, please take the time to rate and review my book on Amazon. These ratings and reviews play a major part in other people finding (and ultimately purchasing) my book.
I'm not asking for a "good" review. But I am asking for an HONEST review -- tell people about the good and the bad, and then let them make up their minds for themselves. If you would like to leave a review after you've read my book, you can read about Amazon's review policy here.
Thank you all so much for your support. The real ride begins on Saturday, and maybe things will fizzle out as quickly as they begin, but no matter what happens, I'm sure none of this would have been possible without all of you and your help along the way. See you Saturday!
Two weeks from LAUNCH DAY and I think it's only fitting that I acknowledge one of my major creative influences, the Amazing Spider-Man.
When people ask me to describe ANOM: Awakening I tell them it's like a comic book for adults, only much longer and without any pictures. And honestly, that's exactly what I tried to create. I wanted to write the kind of novel that I would enjoy reading myself.
I love comic books! I love superheroes! And my hands-down, absolute favorite is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
I fell in love with Spider-Man during the fourth grade (and even though that's not 100% accurate. I was a big fan of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends -- the cartoon with Spidey, Iceman, and Firestar -- but I digress). But in fourth grade my parents got me a subscription to The Amazing Spider-Man, and I never looked back.
My first issue, all those years ago, featured a forgettable character named Cardiac (well-respected surgeon by day/vigilante at night capable of tapping into the electricity of his own pace-maker). Then, just yesterday, I picked up my latest issue, Civil War 2: Amazing Spider-Man #1 from our local comic shop, Crossroads Comics.
So how have 25 years of Spider-Man influenced my writing and my novel?
To answer that question, I need to start by explaining why I love Spider-Man in the first place. For me, the story of Spider-Man has always revolved around the concept of self-sacrifice.
We're all familiar with the Spider-Man mantra, "With great power there must also come great responsibility." But do we ever stop and ask ourselves, "a great responsibility to what?" When we see the question, I think the answer becomes obvious. Spider-Man feels an overwhelming responsibility to serve the greater good, often at the price of tremendous self-sacrifice.
This altruism by Peter Parker is present in a way that's missing from the other two BIG superheroes. Batman seems to be motivated by a near-psychotic need to avenge his murdered family. And Superman is more "Superman" than Clark Kent. In other words, they exist at polar ends of the same spectrum. Batman is meeting his own selfish need for vengeance and Superman is so perfect that of course he's fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. In other words, in a real sense, Batman and Superman are both doing EXACTLY what they want to do.
Spidey is different. For as much fun as he seems to be having web-swinging through the city, there always exists within Spider-Man the tension between what Peter Parker "wants" to do, and what Spider-Man "has" to do.
So what does this mean for my novel, ANOM: Awakening?
After 25 years with Spider-Man, my idea of heroism has become inextricably linked to the idea of sacrifice and that theme comes up again and again in my writing.
Spider-Man books are full of action, and action is great! Hopefully you read some of the action sequences in my book and think they're awesome. But action, by itself, is hollow. It's the choice -- the decision to act in the face of great personal sacrifice -- that makes any action heroic.
In ANOM: Awakening characters are faced with these choices again and again, and just like in real life, they don't always get it right. But when they do . . . that's heroic. And hopefully that's worth reading about.
I read an interesting article earlier in the week involving Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
For those of you who faithfully follow my blog, you will know that these are the first two creative influences I mentioned in my series (aptly titled) Creative Influences. Not one to ignore a good coincidence, it's only right that I comment on the article and my response.
THE PREMISE: For those of you unaware, the HBO series Game of Thrones is based on a series of novels by George R. R. Martin. The problem is that the book series is still incomplete. Beginning this season, the television show has outstripped the novels. Viewers are now seeing parts of the story that the readers have yet to experience.
Meanwhile, over on AMC, The Walking Dead continues its reign of popularity. Just like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is based on source material, a comic book series created by Robert Kirkman. In the article, Kirkman is asked if he would ever make the same decision as Martin. Would he share details of his future story ideas so that AMC could continue the show without the source material (you can read the original interview with Kirkman here)?
This is Kirkman's response, "I would never do that. That's the one thing I'm disappointed in George R.R. Martin for doing. He should have just been like, Fuck you. You make it up now, I'll get to mine when I'm ready."
THE QUESTION(S): After reading the quote from Robert Kirkman you may be left with a number of questions. For starters, did George R. R. Martin really make a mistake by sharing the broad strokes of his story with HBO? Is Kirkman's solution of turning the reigns over to HBO with zero guidance really a better answer? And finally, why does Kirkman seem to care so much?
MY ANSWER: To understand the vitriol of Kirkman's response, we have to draw a hazy line between "art" and "entertainment". While these two terms will often overlap, they may, in fact, also be mutually exclusive. So let's start by defining "entertainment". I would like to posit that "entertainment" is a public display intended for the enjoyment of the audience. In the other corner, I would define "art" as a display intended to evoke emotion and introspection in the audience.
Can these two rivals, "entertainment" and "art," coexist? Absolutely! Think of your favorite song and undoubtedly there is enjoyment, emotion, and introspection all blended perfectly together at the same time. However, "entertainment" and "art" can also stand at odds.
For example, when I was dating my wife Vanessa in high school we went on a date to see Saving Private Ryan. When the movie ended and we left the theater (still in shock from the D-Day scene at the beginning of the movie) we drove home in complete silence... Worst. Date. Ever. I would argue Saving Private Ryan was much closer to "art" than "entertainment" (and a terrible date movie. What were we thinking?).
SO WHAT: What does this mean for Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead? I would argue that when Martin revealed his story to HBO, allowing them to preempt his upcoming novels, he was effectively sacrificing his "art" for the sake of "entertainment" (and in this case, making his choice to earn a tidy sum of money). To put it another way, he was "selling out."
MY NOVEL: Finally, what does any of this have to do with my novel ANOM: Awakening? It serves as a reminder that when "entertainment" and "art" exist in conflict, a writer must always choose to take the side of "art." There is certainly a temptation to make the audience happy - it's part of human nature, after all, to want to be liked - but there is a greater obligation on the writer to create emotion and introspection . . . even when that emotion may be unpleasant or the introspection may prove difficult.
I hope that ANOM: Awakening is both art and entertainment! But if I had to choose only one, I hope that I would choose "art." Entertainment is fleeting. It distracts us for a moment and is soon enough forgotten. Art is different. It forces us to change and grow. It becomes a part of us, and in so doing, it stays with us forever. That kind of "art" is priceless. If you don't believe me, just ask Robert Kirkman.