Monthly Archives: August 2013

Magpies?

heckle%20and%20jeckle

“He won’t want to run into Charlie either,” Floyd said.

“Absolutely not!” Willy agreed.
“No–sirreebob,” Floyd shook his head emphatically.
“No way, Jose!” Willy said.
“Under no circumstances!”
“He’d be real sorry.”
“Might as well just throw himself off a cliff!”
“Sooner he should cover himself with honey and sit naked on an ant hill!”
“Better he should shoot himself at sunrise every day for a week!”
“Or boil himself in oil!”
The two crows looked back at Minnie. “Nope, that’d be something he wouldn’t want to do. Run into Charlie!”

–Excerpt from Corvus Rising

Floyd and Willy were born in the projection booth of the drive-in theater and spent their formative weeks watching movies. Armed with a dramatic flair and a taste for worldy cuisine, the brothers take off for the highly urbanized neighborhoods surrounding Downtown and the University.

But it was Heckle and Jeckle, beloved cartoons of my childhood, who inspired my characters, Floyd and Willy. Even my brother thought so.

Floyd and Willy are their own crows, however. Taking after no one but themselves, their adventures comprise visiting trash cans behind the exotic and mundane restaurants near the university campus, and watching game shows and movies from the windowsills of student apartments. That, and spying for Charlie, the blue-eyed patriarch of a great (as in famous and huge) crow family.

532210_10150982033100073_1075011309_n
American Crow

Still, it is only right that I give credit where credit was due, to Paul Terry, the cartoonist behind Heckle and Jeckle. Carried away on a wave of nostalgia and the endless tides teeming with Heckle and Jeckle links on the internet to every possible subject that has ever existed in thought, word, deed, or image, video.

Heckle and Jeckle’s wear white vests. Crow’s feathers are all black. Heckle and Jeckle’s beaks are yellow. Crow beaks are black. Is this some form of artistic license, giving crows white vests and yellow beaks? I frowned, pursed my lips and re-googled.

Heckle and Jeckle are postwar animated cartoon characters created by Paul Terry, originally produced at his own Terrytoons animation studio and released through 20th Century Fox. The characters are a pair of identical anthropomorphic magpies …
–Excerpt from Wikipedia

Whoa, wait … MAGPIES ? They don’t look exactly like the magpies mawing down on the Nanking cherries outside my window. They have the white vests all right, though their beaks are black. Unlike the yellow of Heckle and Jeckle.

magpie

As it turns out, there are several kinds of magpies. Black-billed, mostly. And like crows, very intelligent. Magpies, for example, passed the ‘Mirror test’ (recognizing themselves in mirror) before their cousins, crows  and ravens did. Click here for more…

All of which is beside the point of Heckle and Jeckle having yellow beaks. It matters somehow, even though they are cartoons, that these two have some connection to reality.

Googling….yellow-beak magpie……

The Yellow-billed Magpie

Heckle and Jeckle are Yellow-billed Magpies (Pica nuttalli)!

“Found only in the Central Valley of California….” That’s what the Wikipedia article says.

That explains a lot. Irresistibly close to Hollywood, the two magpies (will I ever get used to it?) Heckle and Jeckle winged it to fame and fortune.

Yellow-billed Magpie

I’ve since watched many H & J cartoons on YouTube, remembering some of them. It’s been many decades. Every one of them opens with: “Heckle and Jeckle, the talking magpies in….”

But I couldn’t read then, back in the day. How was I supposed to know?

I can’t believe I am alone in this. But not many people are copping to the same childhood belief, that Heckle and Jeckle are crows. It’s not as bad as finding out about Santa Claus, or the Tooth-fairy. But still…

I know there are others. You know who you are. Believing in crows all these years. This one’s for you:

Click Image for animated cartoon

$5662.87??? for a USED Book? Seriously?

NEWCoverMy youngest brother forwarded me an email from B&N, refunding his money for the purchase of my book, with this explanation:

“We regret to inform you that the last copy of this item was sold before we could process your order.”

“Is Corvus Rising out of print????” he asked, dumbfounded.

“Well, sort of,” I said, wondering what Out of Print means anymore. And how a print-on-demand book becomes “we just sold the last one.”

In theory, Corvus Rising is momentarily out-of-print. I cancelled my original print contract with my future former publisher for their mediocre yet expensive editing job, and the nearly complete failure to provide the elements of a marketing plan they’d sold me. The final straw that made me split the blankets–their apparent inability to keep track of book sales. So I dumped them.

As the industry re-invents itself with the advent of digital media as well as advances in print technology, the field of 602rpublishing opportunities for new authors to publish has broadened. And for predators. Many of us have been entangled with what used to be called the ‘vanity press’, but that I now refer to as the ‘charlatan press.’

The bottom line: Do NOT be swayed by the siren song of publishers who make more money selling ‘services’ to authors than they do publishing their books. The truth is out there. Look it up. But chances are, it’s not on the publisher’s webpage.

I learned a lot. It could have been worse. It’s still my book, I own the content, but not the print files. I own all the artwork for the cover, but they own the cover. I am taking time to re-edit and re-do their abysmal proofreading and prepare the files for paper and ebook printing.

I’ll republish on my own. GO INDIE!

Corvus Rises Again!

Meanwhile, Corvus Rising is still available on Amazon, except in ebook version. Though I cancelled my print contract with my publisher more than 6 weeks ago, I understand that a few stray volumes may be hanging around as they take up to at least 30 days to actually stop publishing orders. Assuming there are orders.

I will not pretend I am able to comprehend the utterly arcane workings of the publishing industry, especially Amazon. But I do understand what ‘publish on demand’ means: that one or ten thousand books are printed and paid for upon ordering. That’s how I have to buy my own books. Cash on the barrel head. No warehousing, no stockpiling…the beauty of On Demand.

Amazon currently lists Corvus Rising as available, new from them to Prime Members (Hardcover only), and used from several non-Amazon book sellers.

-2

Before I could even wonder how Amazon has a new book of mine ‘in stock’, I about blew my coffee all over my laptop when I saw what used Corvus Rising is going for.

For $57.47 (+ $3.99 for shipping), you can get a used copy. Imagine my joy and surprise when I read that my book is a Huge Seller! Millions Sold!

Really? I had NO idea!! Nothing reported on my Amazon Author page, except the hardcover I had sent to the Paonia Public Library.

If you DON’T want the huge seller version, you can always opt for the ‘Might be Ex-Lib,’ which increases the price to $2882.62. If that’s not enough to spend on a book, you can opt for $5662.87 USED in Very Good Condition. This must be the Collector’s Item version.

The price fluctuates, evidently. Kind of like the stock market, I guess. Yesterday, $5662.87 for a used version; today $3,999.00 for new (that’s cheap at half the price!).  (Click here to view the current spot price on Amazon)

I just happen to have four copies (new) on hand that I’ll consider parting with. For the right price of course (shipping NOT included). Bidding is open….

What the–?

At this point, I must ask what the H-E-double toothpicks is going on? Do they know something I don’t? Has my book become so rare, so utterly priceless that it advertises for almost six thousand dollars?

Is someone trying to instigate a run on my book, driving up the price?

What happens when I re-publish Corvus Rising and post it on Amazon? Will I be competing against prior listings or will they vanish?

And what does ‘print on demand’ really mean, if Amazon and B&N have copies lying around?

Anyone have any ideas about what ‘s up with these bizarre listings on with Amazon? Anyone else have their $25 almost out-of-print hard cover book listed for just under $6K?