Category Archives: Books

some happiest days items, and paypal frustrations

My head was pounding when I went to bed last night, and is still pounding as I write this, seven hours later. I had one of those nights where I couldn’t get comfortable and woke up about once an hour,
so I finally decided to just give in and get out of bed about an hour ago.

I still have the headache that I kept waking me up all night, but I did get to watch a beautiful sunrise while my coffee brewed.

Why do I have a throbbing headache that kept me up all night? Oh, this is just fantastic . . .

I took a box of books to the post office yesterday, so about 100 of you guys who placed orders in the first couple of days can start checking your mailboxes on Friday. I understand that many readers who bought The Happiest Days of Our Lives are starting to get their books, and it looks like it’s taking about a week for them to arrive. If you’ve gotten your book and had a chance to read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in a comment, an e-mail, or via review at Monolith Press.

Speaking of the book, I wanted to clarify something about the signed, numbered, limited edition hardback: it hasn’t arrived from the printer, yet, so we can’t start taking orders. I can’t even do pre-orders, because I don’t know how much it will weigh to calculate what we need to charge for shipping. Also, I’ve encountered two significant problems with the otherwise-perfect PayPal ordering system:

1) When I print multiple orders, it’s not passing the item number through with the address and buyer information. Until we can figure out why it’s doing this, we can’t take different orders for different products. We’re working on it, but the FAQs at PayPal are pretty goddamn useless. If you’ve had any experience with this problem and solving it, would you let me know what you did?

2) PayPal won’t let me automatically process Canadian orders along with US orders. That’s annoying, but it gets even worse: if I use the otherwise-awesome "print shipping label" option, which handles postage and addressing and all that good stuff, it forces me to buy an international priority mail envelope for 9 dollars. Since I’m only charging 5 dollars for shipping, I’d lose money doing it that way, and I can’t justify charging Canadian customers more than half the cover price to pay for shipping. It wasn’t like this when we did Dancing Barefoot, so I asked at my local post office, and the woman told me I can ship books to Canada for around 3 dollars, but to do that, we’ll have to process orders the old way, and I still have to fill out customs forms. By hand. For each fucking one. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this sucks, and how much work it’s going to be to handle Canadian orders, now. Thank you very much, stupid intrusive government regulations that waste my time and cost me money. I don’t know why the rules have changed so much since we did Barefoot, because we could just identify the books as "bound, printed matter" back then and avoid the customs hassle. This is the opposite of awesome, and I’d love any advice on dealing with this from indie sellers who have dealt with it already.

So what do these things mean for customers? Until I can figure out WTF is wrong with PayPal, I can’t take hardback orders. This isn’t an issue right now, because they aren’t even here from the damn printer, but it’s going to be a potentially disastrous issue for me and my business if we can’t solve it within a week or so.

I’m currently working on a backup plan to deal with this stuff, but I’m sure there has to be a way to make this work using the tools I already have. If you have a small business and handle payments and order processing the way I’m trying to, would you please get in touch and let me know how you did it?

Finally, I updated the FAQ at Monolith Press over the weekend, and forgot to mention it until just now.

this is awesome

Anne and I sat on the floor in our living room, while Two Zombies Later played on the stereo (which I’d rechristened as a Hi-Fi for this special occasion.)

A half-empty box of The Happiest Days of Our Lives was on one side of us, a shipping container on the other, a stack of envelopes between us.

"This reminds me of when we did Dancing Barefoot," I said, as I struggled to put a book into an envelope.

"Me too" She said.

The book caught on the corner of the envelope, and tore it. For the third time. I crumpled it and threw it down into a growing pile of failed attempts.

"Except I don’t recall it being this tough to get the books into the envelopes." I said, "or maybe I just have stupid fingers today."

Ferris walked into the room, flopped down onto the rug next to Anne, and rolled onto her back.

"Someone is very happy to be with us in the living room," Anne said. Ferris wagged her tail in agreement: Thump. Thump. Thump.

"Ahem." I said. "I believe you mean ‘the shipping department.’"

She smiled.

"I like doing this with you again," she said.

I successfully worked the book into an envelope.

"Fourth time is the charm, I guess," I said.

"Go you." Anne said.

I turned the envelope over, and stuck a shipping label on the front side.

"This one’s going to Portland," I said. "That’s cool. I like Portland."

I put it with about several of its brothers into a shipping box, on loan from the United States Postal Service. I know that it’s on loan, because every flat surface on the box reminds me of this fact, and warns me against attempting anything ‘unauthorized’ with it. I will admit to spending a considerable amount of time pondering what sort of ‘unauthorized’ mayhem this box and I could have together. I wonder what kind of go-kart or fort it could make?

"You know what I love?" I said.

"Me?"

"Yes. You know what else I love?"

"Ferris?"

Thump. Thump. Thump.

"Yes. You know what else I love?"

We shared an impish look. Before she could answer, I said, "I love it that each of these books represents a person out there in the world who wants to read something I’ve written. Sending one box to a bookstore is one thing, but sending these directly to readers feel so much more . . ."

"Awesome?"

"I was going to say ‘real,’" I said, "but, yeah, ‘Awesome’ works, too."

I looked around me. My beautiful wife, my awesome dog, a box of books — my books, that I created — waiting to find their way into the hands and homes of people who want to read them.

"Yeah. This is awesome."

reminder: barnes and noble at the grove tonight

For all five of you who are in Los Angeles: I’ll be signing the Star Trek Manga at Barnes and Noble at The Grove tonight at 7:30. I talked to Erin at the SG Newswire about it yesterday.

This is one of the few stops where I won’t have The Happiest Days of Our Lives, because Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it in their system, and can’t sell it, but that’s the price of being an indie publisher who doesn’t play by The Man’s rules, I guess. \m/

Speaking of The Happiest Days of Our Lives, I took the first batch of orders to the post office yesterday, and I’m processing another big batch of orders this afternoon for delivery tomorrow. I can’t believe this is really happening!

one of the the happiest days of my life

Today is one of the happiest days of my life, because The Happiest Days of Our Lives officially goes on sale, starting . . . now. (Well, actually, starting about 96 hours ago, but you only knew that if you follow me on Twitter. Soft launch FTW!)

I love everything about this book. I loved writing the stories in
it. I loved working with Andrew to put them together into something that is more than just a collection of blog entries. I loved working with Sean to design and create the cover. I loved working with Russ to shake the cobwebs off of Monolith Press and restore power to this fully-operational battle station. I love the excitement I feel
right now, as I get ready to share it with anyone who wants to read it. I love the way it reminds me so much of how I felt when Dancing Barefoot was first published.

But what I love the most is
taking back control of my work and releasing it, marketing it, and
publishing it myself. The Happiest Days of Our Lives
is going to live or die based entirely on my efforts to promote it (first note to everyone: It’s not
a Star Trek book), which can be a little overwhelming if I think about
it too much, so instead of thinking about that, I’ve been thinking
about the path I’ve walked to get here, starting six and a half years ago, when I created Where’s My Burrito? at Geocities. As I wrote in Just A Geek,

My life as a husband and stepfather was very rewarding, but a desire to regain the success I’d enjoyed as a child and teenager pulled at me constantly. It kept me awake at night, and was a constant distraction. Like the Not Me ghost from Family Circus, Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake slept between my wife and me in our bed, and ate with us at every meal. When I could have been playing with my stepkids, Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake and I would sit and stare vacantly at the TV, wondering what could have been.

The weekend after the Hooters Incident (as it came to be known), my wife was out of town and Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake and I found ourselves in front of my computer. I surfed the Internet, played Diablo II, created WinAmp playlists . . . I did everything I could to get that Hooters waitress out of my mind.

Yes, that’s how badly it hurt me: I was actively trying to get a Hooters waitress out of my mind. While my wife was out of town.

Somewhere in that day, while I was battling the forces of polygonal evil on Battle.Net, Prove To Everyone tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Dude. You should make a website, and let the world know that you are still alive, and still acting."

I paused the game and looked back at him. I had wanted a presence on the Web for a long time, but I didn’t have the skills to build a website. I’d been given the names of several designers, but wanted to do the whole thing myself, for better or for worse.

"Oh my god. That’s a fantastic idea! Maybe we’ll even get noticed by Hollywood again!"

"Just make sure you make the website edgy." He said.

"If you were real, I’d cock-punch you for that." I said.

I quit the game, and went to Yahoo! Geocities where I created an account called “tvswilwheaton.” (Get it? "TV’s Wil Wheaton!" Because I’m still on TV, except I’m not.) Because I had absolutely no idea how to write HTML, and I knew nothing about tables, CSS, RSS feeds, or the W3C, I spent the next few hours clumsily learning my way around the Yahoo! Pagebuilder. I used their WYSIWYG editor to Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake — ahem — “design” my very first webpage. The result was incredibly lame, but it was mine. I named it “Where’s My Burrito?” after one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons.

When it was done, Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake and I shared a high-five. I was proud of what I’d created and I posted a link to it in a small Wil Wheaton online fan club and wondered if anyone would care.

Boy, did they care! I had over 700 visitors in a couple weeks, without being listed in a single search engine. The response excited me, and I started updating the site quite frequently, by hand-coding “news updates” into the main page.

I soon traded those news updates for this thing called a blog. I liked writing the blog so much, I eventually started my own website where I could update the blog more regularly. Just like Where’s My Burrito? it was lame, but it was mine. On the advice of my friend Loren, I moved the blog to the front page, and eventually made it the centerpiece of the entire site. Neither of us knew it at the time, but with that advice, Loren dropped a pebble into a pond, and the ripples it created have been incredible.

As I write this post today, on a day very much like the one I started writing the manuscript for Just A Geek, which lead to Dancing Barefoot, which lead to writing for the AV Club, which lead to writing for TV Squad, which lead to writing the Star Trek Manga, which lead to . . . well, everything else that I love about my work now, the whole thing feels kind of surreal. When I started that silly little page at Geocities six years ago, I had no idea that it would lead me down the path I walk today. If you’d asked me back then what I thought I’d be doing in six years, my answer would have included something about acting, even though I was having serious doubts in the dark of night about my ability to support my family while trying to be a full-time actor.

I never expected that I’d become a full-time writer, but today, I can’t imagine doing anything different with my life. In fact, as long as I get to keep doing voice acting, I don’t really care if I’m ever on camera again. Telling stories about the things that unite us and celebrating all things geek seems to be my purpose in life. I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile that matters to people, if your comments and e-mails are any indication, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. They say that making a living doing what you love is how you know you’re living the dream. If that’s true, I don’t ever want to wake up.

a bite at the golden apple

The manga signing at Golden Apple last night was awesome. We drew a very large crowd by comic book in-store signing standards, and it was more like an informal party than anything else.

I’m telling you, if you’re local and into comics or Star Trek, you should come out to one of these things, because we have a lot of fun getting our geek on.

At last night’s event, the SoCal contingent of Enforcers from PAX was in full effect, so we posed for a picture to protect our rep against the Seattle Enforcers, who I understand are always taunting the SoCal Enforcers with tales of awesome. Well, who’s awesome now, beeches?!

I also got to meet filmmaker John Singleton, who was on his way to a dinner, but stopped to get his comics on the way.

"Wow, I am a huge admirer of your work," I said when we were introduced.

"I’m an admirer of yours, as well," he said, and I could tell that he meant it. A lifetime in the entertainment industry has given me a nearly flawless bullshit detector, and I was totally floored by his sincerity.

I stayed at the shop until they closed down, and picked up Batman #668, which will wrap up Grant Morrison’s outstanding run on the series. I also grabbed a 100 Bullets trade, a 1602 hardcover, and a book for Nolan called The Big Book of Hoaxes, which I think he’ll like. I now have so many unread comics, trade paperback, and graphic novels, I will have to take a full day to do nothing but read them. It’s a sacrifice, I know, but I’m willing to make it. Stiff upper lip and all that.

I met a bunch of people from TokyoPop, including the publisher. In the film and television world, this would be the equivalent of meeting a network or studio head, and those guys are always douchebags, but Mike from TokyoPop was a cool guy. In fact, everyone from TokyoPop was cool, and I felt like I was talking to people who are in this because they’re passionate about the work and excited about the future of Manga in America.

And speaking of the Manga, there’s another review out today, from activeanime.com:

The first volume really had a fan fiction feel to it, and frankly, the
art work left a lot to be desired in many cases.  In this volume, the
stories have more punch, and the design is better.  Perhaps some of the
talent behind the stories is to account for this.  One of the writers
is Wil Wheaton- yes, that Wil Wheaton of TNG fame.  He shows he has the
right stuff as a writer for the franchise with his work “Cura Te Ipsum”
which headlines the book.  Damaged engines, Scotty getting new crystals
from the middle of a war zone, and McCoy wrestling with his conscience
and the Prime Directive whilst seeing a civilization tear itself apart
are prominent elements in the classic tale that could easily have been
an episode in the original series.  You can see the author has caught
the essence of what the classic shows were all about and has cleverly
distilled it in a compact manga format.

Dude! I’m 2 for 2! Awesome.

Our next stop is at the West Hollywood Bookfair this Sunday, where we’ll have a Q&A, then we’re down in Manhattan Beach next week at Comic Bug for the final comic shop stop on the tour.

They’re here!

They're here!

My printer shipped a limited number of The Happiest Days of Our Lives to me earlier this year, so I could take them with me to the various conventions I appeared at over the Summer.

The remainder of the first printing arrived about twenty minutes ago, and it’s quite fitting that I feel the way I did in this picture:

reminder: golden apple this wednesday for the manga, which gets a good review

Note: There’s a time change for Golden Apple. It’s updated below.

Hi, I’m Wil, and I like blog post titles that are obnoxiously long. Thanks for stopping by, San Diego.

Star Trek: The Manga – Kakan ni Shinkou has been released, and is showing up in comic shops and book stores all over the place. I had a bit of a squee moment this weekend when Nolan and I found it in a Borders, marking the first time in my life as a writer that one of my books was stocked in the correct section.

My story kicks off the collection, and is described by Comic Book Bin thusly:

In Cura Te Ipsum, the U.S.S. Enterprise
is crippled, far away from the nearest Federation Starbase, and badly
in need of dilithium crystals.  They find dilithium on a planet in the
middle of a brutal civil war/blood feud. Captain James T. Kirk
sees an opportunity to guide the planet’s warring factions towards
peace, but will he be violating the Federation’s Prime Directive not to
interfere in the affairs of non-Federation planets?

Comic Book Bin gives us an A-, and says:

Star Trek: the
manga – Kakan ni Shinkou rings true enough to be more than fan fiction,
and for all practical purposes contains some of the best Star Trek
comics ever done.  Veteran Trek creator Diane Duane, Trek actor Wil
Wheaton, rising star of manga Bettina Kurkoski deliver star
performances with their contributions to this volume.

Dude! Awesome!

I’ll be at Golden Apple Comics this Wednesday with many of the other writers and artists for a Q&A and signing as we continue our SoCal tour:

Wednesday, September 26
8pm-10pm
7pm-9pm
Golden Apple

7711 Melrose Ave., Hollywood

Happiest News

The softcovers of The Happiest Days of Our Lives have just shipped, according to my printer, so I should be able to start taking orders next week. The limited edition hardcovers are taking much longer, and won’t be here until the week of October 8, but I think it’s close enough that I can start taking pre-orders for both versions next week.

I’m talking with David Lawrence about doing an audio version. We’re hoping to record the first week of October, so it’s ready to go at the same time as the printed versions.

Since I’m doing this book entirely on my own, I’m going to be drawing heavily on community support to help promote it, starting right now: if you got The Happiest Days of Our Lives this summer from one of my convention appearances, would you let me know what you thought, so I can make sure my marketing efforts reflect what readers are getting from the book?

From the people I’ve talked to already, I’m starting to get the sense that it inspires nostalgic memories of their own, which leads to discussing a lot of the shared experiences we who grew up in the 70s and came of age in the 80s share: Star Wars figures, video games, RPGS, things like that. I also hear that even if you’ve read these stories online, it’s an entirely different experience to read them in print.

Andrew and I are working on a media kit like the one we did for Dancing Barefoot, and Roughy and I are busy building all the appropriate ordering and product pages at Monolith Press.

Questions? Comments? You know what to do.

the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have

Today is Towel Day, a day when all geeks can carry their towels with them in tribute to the hoopiest frood of them all, Douglas Adams.

I absolutely love that I’m recording an all-geek podcast on this most sacred of days.

Updated: Oh! You know what I love even more? Spending 2.5 hours working on the podcast, then losing the entire thing to some weird confluence of system lockups and crashes.

I’m taking a long, long, long don’t-break-anything walk, and I’ll try again in the morning. Sigh.