Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

A Kickstarter to Reward Retailers as Well as Backers

Hi all!

Thanks in large part to your support during the open voting period, we
have an Eagle Award winning comic to print!

I launched a Kickstarter on Sunday to fund part of the production costs, and
it blew through its initial funding goal in the first eight hours.

So now I think we have a shot at paying for the entire print run!

or if you want something easier to remember.

And we're doing something a little bit different: any pledge $3 or
more will get you a copy of the booklet plus one will go to your
favorite comic book shop or other independently owned retail bookshop.

I have an extra incentive for those pledging by noon tomorrow: a bonus
minicomic of "You Got Your Schwarzenegger in My President," a story which uses
Lego blocks to tell a political satire. 

Thanks all!


The Time of Reflection
Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

(no subject)

Hello LJ friends! It's been a while.

Just wanted to share that my full color dark fantasy comic "The Time of Reflection" is now one of only two finalists for an Eagle Award!

Which means it's at least temporarily available online and will be published in the London Comic-Con program next month.

And now we've entered the public voting phase of the competition. Voting only takes a few seconds.

Complete story (inline images as well as a PDF option) and voting info here:

I'd appreciate any liking, linking, or licking of the above page.

Well, I might not actually appreciate the licking. But I get it.

Thanks all!


Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

Outlaw Territory 2 in stores NOW!

The Image Comics western anthology Outlaw Territory 2 is available now. I've seen it locally at Chapel Hill Comics in Chapel Hill, NC. Any other sightings?

The Whores in Trinidad Need Witnessing To by Alex Wilson and Rick Lacy

OT2 includes "The Whores in Trinidad Need Witnessing To," my story with Rick Lacy, illustrator of the very fun Oni Press book Labor Days and character designer for the animated series The Venture Brothers.

We share a table of contents with some amazing talent, including Len Wein, Jeff Lemire, Sean Phillips, Francesco Francavilla, Sean Chen, Greg Pak, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, Robert Kirkman, and more. Editor Michael Woods has more details, along with preview art from the other stories at his blog.

I wrote our story back in 2008 and have loved seeing Rick's character designs, then pencils, then inks, then colors (then finally letters by Thomas Mauer) trickle in over the following months between his other projects. That our "Whores" will ultimately appear between stories by the likes of Len (cocreator of Wolverine, editor of Watchmen) Wein and Sean (illustrator of Sleeper and Criminal, big influences on a project I hope to be able to share with y'all shortly) Phillips and so many other comics creators I've long admired... is a nice, strong finish.

(To guarantee availability, ask your local comic book retailer to get a copy for you; usually they only need the title, but the Diamond order code is AUG100457. Comics are nonreturnable so--if you can believe it--preorders in comics publishing can matter even more to the size of a comic's print run than they matter in the fiction publishing world.)

Outlaw Territory 2 in Previews
Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

Alex's NASFIC 2010 Schedule in Raleigh

NASFIC's in my neck of the woods this year. Locations in parenthesis (and subject to change). Saturday 8/7/10

Dan Hoyt, Mary Robinette Kowal, James Daniel Ross, Alex Wilson

Chuck Gannon, Jim Stratton, Heather Urbanski [m], Lawrence Watt‐Evans, Toni Weisskopf, Alex Wilson

John Cmar [m], Tom Rockwell, Henry Stratmann, Toni Weisskopf, Alex Wilson

Sunday 8/8/10

Petrea Mitchell, Jim Van Verth, Alex Wilson

Rob Balder, Davey Beauchamp, Lawrence Watt‐Evans, Alex Wilson

Looking forward to old friends and new coming into town. I'll try to keep updated (and keep others updated) with my whereabouts on Twitter (@alexotica). Lemme know if I should be following you. Texting or calling if you have my number might be a bit easier. See you there?

Also in the news: sold my story "Nervewrecking" to 2020 Visions, and did my first two acting jobs since the accident (and with one of them I apparently contributed enough to the script to get myself a cowriting credit).

Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

Moving Servers, Health Update, etc

Moving servers, moving hosting companies, moving content management platforms. Pardon the dust, and if you have any Telltale purchases or downloads or Inconsequential Art orders to make, you'll want to do so before the weekend.

I plan to have Telltale back up and running by the 15th and the rest of my site back up by the 25th or so, in some form or another. I'm factoring in the fact that my my brain usually takes a bit longer to do things these days, but no promises.

A few reasons, really. Can't take responsibility for managing a dedicated server anymore (and can't justify the cost, since it's not bringing in as much money or traffic). Still recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury, and, since I haven't been able to stay on top of outdated scripts (not to mention Movable Type 3.x) and troubleshoot problems that do arise, I've allowed my site to get a bit compromised (script kiddie/URL-injections) during this "break," and I haven't been able to do as good of a job cleaning up afterwards. And since my Movable Type-handcoded PHP/HTML hybrid of a thing isn't exactly going to survive the move anyway (it didn't last time), it's as good a time as any to finally make that jump to a content management system I won't have to keep paying to upgrade and keep secure.

FWIW I've overall been satisfied with my current host, OLM for the last ten years (after a year of a crappy host and, before that, a few years of an student account), upgrading every few years to get from a shared hosting service to the current tricked out dedicated server. But I've had a few recent issues with the performance of the server (namely how I would have to reboot daily because it just couldn't handle the typical incoming spam), and how the company handled it. And whenever I've had to move or upgrade (even though the end result was my paying them more money), they helped to make it an awfully more painful process than it needed to be, and I always say I won't go through that again.

It will be weird to have to share an IP address again, though.

Health updates, etc: Cognitive behavioral thereapy wasn't a great fit for my condition. It's more helpful for dealing with an unacceptable rate of recovery than it is in correcting it. And the specific things I wanted to work on (helping me to relearn how to read printed matter, etc) are outside of CBT's focus. OTOH it turns out I was already incorporating a lot of CBT-type practices into my day-to-day, so the techniques were already helping what needed to be helped, I guess, and I can still be an advocate for CBT without being willing to actually pay for it for myself at this time.

One thing it did help me with was to develop a system for tracking my brain's recovery a bit. With good days and bad, good weeks and bad, and even good months and bad over the last two years (along with trying medicinal doses of caffeine and various short term prescriptions), it's hard for me to see whether I've made any improvement at all (clinical testing hasn't been too helpful here; too easy to write it off as good days/bad days when I did worse on later tests). But now I've got four criteria I rate on a scale of 1 to 10 every day (energy, focus, satisfaction, and sleep quality), and I'll soon be able to start looking at a 60 day moving average to see where I am, where I was, and maybe even where I'm going.

The next step was supposed to be neurofeedback, but it's priced a bit out of my range, thanks (and it's new enough that even if I had the disposable income, I'm not 100% sure that's where I'd choose to put the money). Although... this month I will be trying out a neurofeedbackish device called the Neurosky, made by the same people who created the technology this year's hot-and-outofstock Christmas toy, the Mindflex. I've asked around, and repetition is the most important aspect of neurofeeback, so in a choice between spending a few hundred dollars for just the first session (of 30+, ideally) of professional neurofeedback training and a few hundred dollars on a substandard device I can use repeatedly, the latter is actually the wiser choice.

After that (or concurrently), I don't know. Trying more drugs? Of course, continuing to do everything else I can to maximize my chances of a full recovery, including now putting myself in more social situations, mental fatigue be damned. I'm even about to join a regular role playing group for the first time in ten years. The thing I have to remember is that most of what I'm doing, no matter how much money or time I spend, is that at most I'm bumping up my percentages a few digits. But I'm happy, hopeful, and active, and that's what matters.

Other stuff I do regularly: running, crosstraining, attempting to read printed matter, trying new reading-comprehension methods, audiobook listening, attempting to write, learning ukelele, learning piano, learning to juggle, learning to solve Rubik's cube, crosswords, learning to meditate, prayer, biofeedback, fish gels, Wii, writing blindfolded, eating well, learning to draw, working on a longform comics project for the last two years (photography and digital art), memorization exercises, learning rules of new games, mensa puzzles, attempt to learn second language, etc. There's more, but I'm not remembering presently.

WisCon is a no go this year (as I guess it should have been the last two years if health was the only deciding factor). Already missing those people, but looking forward to seeing them in 2011.

I do have some small publishing news/bits to share, but they can wait until this site switch sorts itself out. Updates continue to be more frequent on Twitter. And please. If you fingerfriend me on Facefinger or whatever, and it's been a while or you've changed your last name or there's any doubt that someone with a BRAIN INJURY will remember you by whatever five pixels of your dog's photo you decide to show in place of your own... include a note/hint when you facefriend, to help me figure out how we know/knew each other. I appreciate it.
Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

YouTube Reading of Shimmer story, various updates

(Momentarily resurfacing to say...)

Beth Wodzinski & co put up a partial reading I did of my Shimmer story "Spoils of Springfield."

Even as a stage actor, I was never a fast memorizer. Add a brain injury, and these one-and-a-half pages took me four weeks (and it was far from a perfect performance or recital).

My novelette "Outgoing" which appeared in Asimov's in 2007 has been accepted for M-Brane's anthology Things We Are Not, due out this year or next. And doubly cool because I share a TOC with fellow Clarion Oh-Sixer Stephen Gaskell.

My two page comic "You Got Your Shwarzenegger in My President" appears/will appear in Supergrrrl Adventure Comix #2, edited by (Don't Hate, Menstruate creator/illustrator) Jen Vaughn and (Dark Horse Comics assistant editor) Rachel Edidin. Should be available for order shortly at the MySpace link.

At about two weeks away from being caught up with "freed" Telltale releases.

Yeah, I've totally missed what's been going on at Facebook/LiveJournal/Twitter lately, but I'm caught up enough on email that if you're expecting a reply, you might want to resend. And--friends, family--please let me know what I've missed in your lives lately.

On the health front: I had my deviated septum surgery, and then two more surgeries (and I think nine days in the hospital) to fix the complications from the first surgery. The short version: a week after the relatively routine procedure, I started having terrible nosebleeds, the gushing kind where you're not sure whether the loss of blood or the choking on it is the thing to worry about more.

Since the bleeding location was way back in those hard to reach places, there was the second surgery to cauterize the wound. That didn't take, so a third surgery, a type of embolization, was where they went in through the, um, lower half of my body, ran a tube or something all the way up into my face and basically "shut off" the vein that was supplying the blood. Kind of like hiring a plumber to fix a leak and he shuts off the water to your house instead. Anything else he can help you with?

This actually worked quite well and I've had no major nosebleeds since that 3rd surgery. But the embolization will wear off within the next six months and--since it's a mystery why I was bleeding in the first place and why cauterization didn't fix it (I guess it's also possible the doctors are being deliberately obtuse if something went wrong during that first surgery, but I still like to assume the best in people)--it's still a mystery whether whatever was causing the bleeding will heal on its own. So I could have to repeat this process by the beginning of next year.

No news on the brain injury front other than the obvious setbacks of being in a hospital so long, where sleep, physical activity, and nutrition (three of the most important things I focus on to help my brain heal) were in short supply. The additional month of relative physical inactivity (have to worry about hemorrhaging) since that first surgery has been particularly frustrating. Running or doing a pullup feels like I've never done either before.

So the hope for all this is still that, once the blood clots are gone, I'll breathe better, get sick less often, and get more oxygen to my brain to aid in the healing. Once I'm back on track with the physical exercise, I hope to start CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

And he's gone again.

Crossposted from

Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics


No real way to look at my brain healing progress test results as positive news, and no real advantage to looking at them as negative. Not giving up or anything (though I think I've had enough of failing different medications), but I need to focus on what my options are, what kind of life I want to/can have should this be the norm from now on, as well as how to pay for continuing treatment.

I've been treating my brain injury as an obstacle, doing almost every reasonable thing I can to maximize my chances of recovery, but I haven't figured out how to live with it. Just so sick of not being able to rely on my own body and sick of it being such a big part of my identity. So I'm unplugging best I can, and I'll be even less available online than I have been lately, at least through the end of the year.

Tidbits before I disappear:

Wiscon was amazing. Met so many cool new people, but in spite of being in bed by ten most nights and other precautions, I got sick again at almost the exact same time as last year SUnday afternoon. I'll have to make even bigger leaps in my healing progress before I commit to returning next year. Missing my own reading and one of my panels Monday was just too embarrassing. Or would have been, had I been there. No, still embarrassing.

Among the wonderful people I met this year but kinda already knew online was my Thoughtcrime Experiments editor Sumana Harihareswara, who let me know that Erica Naone reviewed my story (along with all the others in the online anthology), calling my Mrs. Claus "one of the most badass characters I have ever read." Thanks, Erica!

One blessing since the accident has been the others with mild traumatic brain injuries who have contacted me with their frustrations and I've been able to at least point them toward a book I found by sheer luck (researching a science fiction brain story in the library): Brainlash by Gail L. Denton. Almost everything I've learned in the last eighteen months was either directly or indirectly because of this book. Even the typeface and linespacing are designed to increase let those of us who have trouble reading (more than a few paragraphs in one sitting) focus on it a little longer, and it remains the one non-audio book I've been able to get all the way through since the accident (not that I've retained much; might have to start it again this week). So if you have an MTBI or PCS (post concussion syndrome) and most of the other resources you've found are rightfully dedicated to more severe brain injuries, this might be the book you're looking for.

I'll continue to check email (alex AT alexwilson DOT com is the one that gets the least amount of spam, thanks), pop in for occasional Twitter conversations (and I don't autofollow, so, please let me know if I should be following you back, oh friends with obscure usernames), put up free Creative Commons audio as their five years are up at Telltale (including The War of the Worlds last week, yo!), and check messages/requests on Facebook once a month or so. But if you've posted something on LiveJournal or any other site, chances are pretty good that I've missed it.

And I'll try to break silence and post here again when/if I have big news because I still have a backlog of writing I'm trying to sell, even if the new stuff is coming achingly slowly. Yes, still writing and trying to read every day. And when I come back, we can talk about that instead of brain injuries, cool?

Be well.

Crossposted from

Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

Telltale Interview, Thoughts on Spoken Word Audio, etc

Momentarily caught up on all the free Telltale releases, maybe for the first time since we hit the five-year mark in February. Late last year SF author Charles Platt interviewed me for a Boing Boing article, but his column ended before the piece ran. He has since agreed to let me run the Q+A portion here.

For what it's worth, I figured Charles would edit me down to something less longwinded...

CP: Why does spoken-word audio seem to be the poor stepchild of book publishing? My editor friends are utterly uninterested in it, and are a bit condescending about it, as if "spoken word" really means "recordings for people who are too lazy to read." Is this kind of snobbishness the root of the problem? Why are audiobooks so absurdly expensive? Why do we have companies like Audible trying to trap the buyer into "membership" schemes which are even worse than you'd find on a porno site? Do book publishers make it difficult for anyone to buy audiobook rights?

ALEX: I've never worked for a major publisher, so I can't speak to motivation, but I see things getting better. They're experimenting, figuring things out, whether it's MP3-CDs (like Neil Gaiman's _Anansi_Boys_) or DRM-free downloads with or without watermarking (like digital downloads from The Teaching Company).

This is a large, slow-to-change industry, and the numbers they're looking at are likely just too new for them to predict the economies of scale. Looking at the cost and availability of audiobooks when I launched Telltale just five years ago... I bet they're adapting faster than they're comfortable with even if to you and I it looks like dragging feet.

And professional audiobooks are still expensive to produce. Sure, electronic delivery cuts costs, but, as with the big music labels, there's still a significant investment required--audio engineers, studio time, performers, etc--on top of what has already gone into producing a text in paper book form. So they kinda understandably want to see how at least the hardcovers perform before they make decisions on further investment.

Now, the last audiobook CD I purchased retailed for $30 while the hardcover retailed for $26. Not too bad, but not exactly a cheap piece of entertainment. Until that comes down even more, there will always be those who won't consider audiobooks (just as I try to avoid buying hardcover when possible). But I can't predict the speed or likelihood of that happening.

Going back to the music industry comparison, one of my visions five years ago with Telltale was to encourage an "indie recording scene" alternative to the big publishers, where people with home studios or even narrators with prosumer recording equipment in their closets could produce something of reasonably high quality. And indeed the earliest Telltale contributors included as many indie musicians with recording gear as stage actors interested in trying something new. Obviously I wasn't the only or first one to have this idea. Podcasting became huge within the next twelve months.

Don't know about audiobook listeners being called "lazy." Was it recently that you heard this? I guess I'd want to have a conversation with them about it. And while I'd respect any _author_ who specifically didn't want her work released as audio (beyond where required for vision-impaired readers), I think it's probably short-sighted for someone in an industry that's competing with video games and television to insult customers if they don't agree exactly on how to best enjoy a product. Can you imagine a director admonishing his audience ("What, they couldn't be bothered to see my film in the theatre? Fuck them and their stupid couches.") and refusing to release a DVD?

I haven't looked at it in depth, but I'm not sure I have a problem with Audible's subscription model. The DRM there's the dealbreaker for me as a potential customer. Without the DRM, you have something similar to eMusic's audiobook program, which I'd argue is a pretty good deal for listeners. And if the subscription _is_ a problem for a customer, then Audible offers a good portion of its catalog a la carte in the iTunes store via a different DRM scheme.

I don't know about book publishers making it difficult for others to buy audio rights to things. I don't think so. I think they either purchase the audio rights to a work or they don't. Certainly short fiction moves around more freely. I have no knowledge of the specific deals, but I believe Audible has worked directly with authors and/or agents for many of their exclusives, and eMusic has commissioned content from McSweeney's (and/or its contributors). And I've worked with authors directly for their short fiction reprints, as have podcasts like Escape Pod and PodCastle.

CP: Do you know how many audiobooks are in circulation from all sources? Is it still a niche market, and could it be bigger?

ALEX: No idea about circulation, sorry. I think it's a shame audiobooks don't get more "foot traffic," in that you aren't likely to find them if you aren't specifically looking for them. The selection in brick and mortar stores is tiny. Searching for audiobooks on Amazon can take a few extra steps (probably to avoid confusion for those simply wanting a "traditional" book). I'd bet this makes the tiny "Audiobooks" button in the iTunes store a huge deal for spoken word visibility overall.

It'll be interesting to see whether the major sellers and publishers are going to be too late in adapting. Podcasts already fill a lot of that spoken word niche for the digitally connected, and there's only so much audio one can listen to in a day. If those hours or minutes are filled with free, equally interesting NPR interviews, then $10+ fiction has a tougher fight ahead of it. And woe to them if they think they're in the "audiobook business" rather than the "entertainment" business, and have nothing to worry about from those silly little people with their cute computer mics.

It's really a matter of what you want to listen to. Some of my favorite authors have never had work available in audio, many only abridged, a bunch of others only in out of print cassette formats, and a few with DRM that's on one side or other of the tolerable fence. So my own listening is often a study in second choices. If you can be flexible (I want to listen to x genre, and/or I can wait a week to get it), you'll find it, free or otherwise. If you're looking for something specific (Miranda July's story collection on eMusic as of 12/2008), you'll probably be disappointed, especially when the item doesn't yet exist in any audio format.

CP: I tend to think that if audiobooks were cheap enough, they'd be very popular. Does your experience support this?

ALEX: I think podcasting proves it, though ease of use is also an important factor there. I never owned a portable CD player, but I keep more than 24 hours of spoken word content on my MP3 player at all times.

CP: Why did you start Telltale Weekly? Has it been as successful as you hoped? Will it continue? Do you plan to expand it significantly?

I was interested in new business models, micropayments, Creative Commons licensing, literature, and acting (other things, too, but I couldn't fit them into Telltale). I also wanted to be a singer-songwriter and I sold off my recording equipment when it was clear I was only pretending. I think in the back of my mind I was always looking for an excuse to buy some of it back.

But specifically: I had a road trip ahead and I wanted to listen to certain public domain works on the drive. Though they were all freely available in text form at Project Gutenberg and elsewhere, audio versions were either hugely expensive, out of print, or completely non-existant. I think I ended up re-listening to a Sarah Vowell audiobook, which was fine. It's funny, but if podcasting had taken off a few months earlier, I probably never would have started the project.

The big goal was to continuously fund and build a spoken word library by producing and selling work and then releasing it free after five years. We're about to see that start to pay off, because--while I've released some work for free without ever selling it--I started with multiple, weekly releases in February 2004. The focus eventually changed to fewer, longer works (and making fun of the site name), but that's just a "listening to the audience" thing.

I had other goals and milestones which I changed and/or missed completely, and a lot of that has to do with podcasting becoming so big within Telltale's first two years. But I can't and won't complain too much about this, because podcasting was born from the same technology and ideas that made Telltale possible with little upfront investment in the first place.

The big thing is that, after failing to build and/or manage a significant network of insultingly-compensated audio contributors, I hit the point where Telltale's growth was limited by how much I could do, how much I could record and edit myself, and how many contributors I could work with as essentially a one person operation. This was about the time that projects like Librivox and Escape Pod were starting up and rapidly, successfully assembling networks of volunteers to provide similar services in entirely free, donation-based models.

Their good work was helpful in a few ways. It showed me that I might be many things, but I'm not much of a leader. I decided there was a ceiling on how big I could grow, and I became okay with that. And it encouraged me to focus more on recordings that interested me--the texts which inspired me to start Telltale, like Bulfinch's Mythology--and less on trying to broaden the selection so much. I believed then and believe now that there's a place between podcasting's free audio of variable quality and "professional" recordings of Twain or Poe stories for which we're somehow expected to pay a dollar per minute because they are our only option.

So it's not something I'll ever be able to do full time, but even this past year--when I've been recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury and was severely limited by what I could do for the project--there's never been any doubt that Telltale would still make good on its promise, and there are over a hundred audiobooks which will be Creative Commons licensed in the next five years, thanks to just a few wonderful contributors.

The future? There'll be a higher ratio of free stuff, by the nature of the project. I might sneak and read some of my own published fiction once in a while. I'm working on an original comedy project, but I haven't decided for
sure whether that's going to be under the Telltale umbrella.

It's been fun. I was more of a physical actor when I started Telltale, but I think I've learned a trick or two. Always happy to surprise my contributors with larger than expected royalty statements (which somehow only works after you set the bar low enough...). A narration I did for Escape Pod resulted in a film option for the author, for which I should totally take credit but unfortunately it was a good story. Hey, I get to discover and study great literature and introduce them to new audiences. What could be a better hobby?

[Though it's tempting to edit and clarify what I wrote back in December, I'll leave it be and just add: Thanks, Charles!]

Crossposted from

Alex Wilson Writer Actor Carrboro Comics

Wiscon 33 Schedule

Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25, 2009):

Program can change, but the schedule is public. We'll get there Friday night and leave Monday afternoon, I think. I'll be posting my whereabouts frequently on Twitter (@alexotica) if you're trying to find me or (I'm guessing) look for the #wiscon tag to keep track of more than just me over Memorial Day weekend.

But I'm kinda required to show up for these:

Saturday 10AM
Joss Whedon's Dollhouse with Jenny Sessions, Sigrid J. Ellis, Britt Flokstra, Annalee Newitz, Deb Stone, and Alex Wilson. This one should be fun.

Sunday 1PM
The Obligatory Workshop Panel with Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Julie Andrews, Erin Cashier, Tina Connolly, Alex Wilson. I'm a late edition to this one, but I should be able to remember some of what happened at Clarion.

Monday 8:30AM
Tech Tools For Writers with Morven Westfield, Kelly Jones, S. N. Arly, Caroline Stevermer, and Alex Wilson. I might end up talking more about brainhacks, if the more traditional tools I'm using are as well covered as I think they are.

Monday 10AM
SFPA Reading with F. J. Bergmann, Sandra J. Lindow, and Alex Wilson. Haven't decided what pieces I'll do yet, but I'm convinced that readings should be fun.

Very cool: for the second year in a row (and my second time attending the con), a former Cajun Sushi Hamster (my old critique group) is guest of honor: Maureen McHugh last year, and Ellen Klages, this. Go Cleveland.

With Trinic-con canceled and uncertainty about my brain injury, this is the only con I'll be doing this year. And afterwards, I expect to be available online even less than I have been, while I catch up on Telltale and other projects, figure out what I can and should be doing during this stage of healing, etc.

FWIW I have started to grow my hair out, but haven't decided whether I'll still have it by the end of the month. Looking forward to seeing people!

3-15-09 ETA: I've been added to the workshop panel on Sunday.

Crossposted from