Monday, March 31, 2008

Lives of Ilya

I also have some exciting news about the people who will be reading the audiobook version for this project- but that will have to wait just a little bit.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Final version of #7

Final version of #7
Originally uploaded by agent139
Another one from this series. I've been trying to distract myself from what has been a very rough couple months- I figure this form of distraction may at least yield some future benefit, even if it's just from a couple people going "ah."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A little eye candy

Shots from a series with Key that I snuck in on at the Fall Studios yesterday. Happy I got to snap a couple shots, I've been sick and tired of the content that I already have onhand to play with.

"These moments of intoxication when we defy everything,
when, the anchor raised, we go merrily toward the abyss, with no more thought for the inevitable fall than for the limits given in the beginning, are the only ones when we are completely free of the ground (of laws) . . ." -Georges Batailles.

(Yes, Rowan, I'm doing that reading for our book as you prescribed.)

Drum blues

The other night I had the opportunity to play on a nice acoustic kit. It had a double bass drum pedal, though attached to a fairly small, tight bass drum. A tiny little snare that really cuts through the mix, 5 toms, and a pretty intense selection of china and hardware. (Also the high-hat was positioned up and behind the 2nd and 3rd toms on the rack. At first I thought this would be really prohibitive but I actually found it kept me from crossing in a lot of positions and thereby allowed a little more flexibility.) It's always nice playing on a kit that has more roll on the heads than the rubber ones on the V-drums, as useful as they are for recording certain kinds of music and keeping the neighbors happy. What surprised me the most is that the people nearby seemed to be deluded into the fact that I could actually play. Since, to a greater or lesser certain extent, all musicians are playing that trick on you, it helped to re-affirm that the off-hours I've spent on the thing haven't been a total waste of time.

But I also feel a little bit stuck. Let me explain and maybe some of the musicians out there can help suggest something. Ever since I started to really get the hang of rolls with my hands - though I still excel at rolling with my right over my left but slowly that's getting better - I've had more options available to me with my arms on the kit. I don't have real independence yet but from working both hands off the highhat and hitting my crash with the uncrossed hand (there's only one on the v-drum kit, its a joy when I play kits that have more) I'm getting a tiny, tiny bit better at that. That is opening up options as well, although of course I really wish the progress wasn't so glacial.

However, this is only making it more clear that my bass-drum work is what is really holding me back from what I would consider a "real" drummer. My bass-drum work is fucking awful. I've spent hours working out of a book trying to get the whole 'heel-toe' thing to happen, but it doesn't seem to work for me at all. I am a little more solid down there if I hit the kick by using my entire leg (Lars Ulrich style) but this is very slow, though fairly powerful. It's also distressingly exhausting- I tried to play through an Amorphous song with a single bass drum pedal and though the attempt was pathetic to begin with I was literally limping for a day and a half after. This can't be the right way to be playing down there.

Any drummers have any suggestions that don't involve spilling the majority of my lifeblood so as to please the Lords of Rock? (Seriously, I enjoy drumming but I don't have time right now to begin working through ridiculous workbooks, and developing a form of tapping autism as my English slowly bleeds away to a series of grunts and chirps. Those of you who have played with really dedicated drummers know what I'm talking about.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tales of woe

As I dig in trying to promote Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning, I'm starting to see a frustrating trend emerge.

It would seem that as a result of the glut of options now available to small publishing houses and independent authors (in terms of print on demand, small run self publishing, etc), most press outlets with any amount of "real" distribution (say 10,000+) have enacted a complete blackout on submissions of this kind. (And honestly, anything smaller than 10,000 distro / uniques a month isn't going to even put a blip on the radar in terms of sales, which is why I scoffed at that Online "publication" running off of angelfire a couple months ago.)

Several hundred hours - and several hundred dollars - into the process, I have literally hundreds of rejection letters to my queries, and not a single accepted review, interview, or editorial. Before you jump up and down saying perhaps my submissions themselves are the problem, I followed all the guidelines set out in books like the Writers Market '08. I did my research. For once I made a real attempt to color between the lines, which has never - as many of you know - been my strong suit. I figured, let the work speak for itself, you don't need to get avant garde with your submissions. (e.g. when I acted as the agent of a costa rican monkey conveniently named "Morgan Freeman" in an attempt to get him acting work in Hollywood. Anyone remember that stunt?)

The most frustrating thing is that most of the rejections have been stock rejection letters, and most of them have been given clearly without the recipients actually reading the presskit, let alone the novel. The few personalized letters I've received have been from editorial assistants, telling me that the work actually looks really good but their editor-in-chief won't let them touch it because it's not coming through an established channel - e.g. press agency, established publishing house, etc. - and since I'm not already a "phenomenon" - e.g. 50,000+ units sold - they can't really spin a story around small-town boy done good. Catch 22, there.

Ironically, I initially decided to approach the publication of Fallen Nation in this way because I applied to several hundred agents, and to a one they all sent rejection letters - nine times out of ten the reasons where that I wasn't a "genre writer," my work wasn't "easy enough for them to sell," and so on. (Yeah no shit, that's why I came to you guys in the first place. But I know, you want your 15% to come easy and I'm not J.K. Rowling.) Don't get me wrong, for what tiny amount of press Fallen Nation has received it's selling fairly well. But I don't consider a book that's selling less than 10,000 copies a year a breadwinner, and unless if there's some kind of explosion I really don't foresee that happening this year.

It would seem there are still gatekeepers that need to be bought off to move forward with efforts like this. Perhaps I could lie and say that I'm selling millions, and suddenly buzz happens around that, but I'd really rather not resort to parlor tricks like that.

God, I don't want to have to deal with this end of the process. I just want to produce the work and move on. I hate sales, I hate promotion. I even hate marketing, for as much as I've come to learn about it. But I suppose "thems the breaks."

Well, there's my gripe for today. I know it probably doesn't help anything, but there it is. Perhaps some of the other independents out there can share their tales of frustration and woe.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fallen Nation trailer contest, update

Despite quite a few emails and phone calls from people telling me they were working on something, or telling me... I'm not entirely sure what... we have yet to receive any final submissions for this contest. There are still 10 days left in the initially speculate time-line, however I may extend it if no decent submissions come in in that time.

For those who missed it, here's the details, files, and contest info at

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Music Industry Proposes a Piracy Surcharge on ISPs

I don't think commentary on this article is even necessary. It is quite clear what's going on here- death throes. You need a new business plan, guys.

But this does bear comment:
"It's monetizing the anarchy," says Peter Jenner, head of the International Music Manager's Forum, who plans to join Griffin on the panel.

I swear to God, a pop-punk band has to make an anthem song called "Monetizing the Anarchy."

Now... Back to work with me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Esozone 2007 Retrospective

Key64 retrospective.

Here's the article I wrote about the event after arriving back to Philly. (It includes some additional video content.)

All signs say EsoZone 2008 is happening. It'll be interesting to see how it grows.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Catwalk Tragedy

There will also be a promotional giveaway of a signed copy of Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning at this event. (Should be announced in upcoming flyers.)

Buy tickets here.


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