Tag Archives: books

…and the livin’ is easy.

Hey, remember when I posted stuff in my blog every day and we all had a good time while learning? It's a distant memory, but if you squint, you may be able to pick it up.

Anyway. It's summer, I've been working on awesome projects that I can't talk about, finishing up awesome projects that I've talked about a lot already (Memories of the Future, special edition of Happiest Days, etc.), and since Ryan came home from school and I have my whole family together under one roof again, I'm not especially motivated to stay at my computer after I'm done working, you know?

To close some tabs, though, please enjoy these things that are all related:

Indie Kindle Author lands book deal

Author Boyd Morrison sold two books, the first one called The Ark, to Simon & Schuster. Boyd uploaded and sold the books himself and raised awareness for his novels by being a member of Kindle Boards and generally self-promoting.

He will be published in hardcover in 2010 and is working on his next book featuring swashbuckling adventurer Tyler Locke.

Kick ass, Boyd Morrison! I hope your experience in traditional publishing is better than mine was, and I hope you'll keep your fellow authors informed about your experience.

Author Michael Stackpole: "I don't worry about pirates."

Bestselling novelist Michael Stackpole says he's making great money
selling fiction directly off his site; he doesn't worry about pirates,
"People downloading my stories from the big torrent sites were never
going to buy them anyway. It's no money out of my pocket."

I have a similar philosophy, and I consider myself tremendously lucky to have the kind of relationship with my customers that I do.

Sunken Treasure has gotten some incredible reviews at Lulu:

I hadn't read any of Wil's books, and "Sunken Treasure" seemed like a
good place to sample his writing. My favorite chapters were those about
his childhood – the bad Star Wars trade, the arcade games, auditions.
There's something about the way he captures the true sense of those
times and weaves in pop cultural references so naturally. In those
chapters, I forgot I was reading and was totally drawn into the
storytelling. It felt like being there. I also liked the chapter which
was an on-set diary about a recent acting job – a very open and
engaging account of how it happens and what it's like.

Wil's writing is very honest, clever, vulnerable, raw, and
unprocessed. He's not afraid to show his doubts or fears, and he's not
embarrassed to share his highs. It makes him very real and very
likeable. After reading this sampler, I wanted to know more about him.

Finally, I simply appreciate the fact that this is an independently
published work. I think a lot of people shy away from self-published
books because they're concerned about unchecked quality. The writing
here is terrific and there is a feel of integrity and control in
presenting it.

So…yeah, that's pretty awesome. I love it that so many readers enjoy
Sunken Treasure, and the biggest complaint is that it leaves people
wanting to read more (kind of the idea, but don't tell anyone I said
that, okay?)

This morning, Twitter user @KenMcConnell said: "Wil (@wilw) Wheaton's Sunken Treasure used on Scribd page for ad copy. Cool for him! http://bit.ly/19Y18W" I grabbed a screenshot, because it's one of those things I kind of want to remember when I'm in the adult diapers stage of my life. If I haven't kicked the everlivingshit out of this dead horse, allow me to take a few more whacks (slow, then fast): publishing with Lulu has been a fantastic experience for me. It's easy, the quality of the final product is fantastic, and it frees me up to do the creative stuff I couldn't do when I was fulfilling orders in my living room with the occasional help from my friends and family. If you're considering publishing, I suggest you give Lulu serious consideration.

When I was in Portland, working on Leverage, I spent all of my non-acting time writing stories. When I wasn't writing, I hung out with John Rogers and talked about writing stories. I'm not sure if I grew a level, but definitely gained a whole lot of XP: I wrote a short story that I love (to be released in the near future after I give it a second draft and Andrew applies the Red Pen of Doom) and began work on another that shows at least some promise.

Ryan just wandered out of his room and sat down next to me on the couch with his laptop.

"Dude, you have to see this!" He said, pointing to something on the screen.

"Who is this is?" I said, glancing up from my own laptop.

"Check it out!" He clicked the mouse and flipped the screen toward me. This is what he showed me.

"Dude…" I shook my head.

He giggled. "I totally got you."

"You totally did."

It's really great to have him home.

LEVERAGE: day four

Woke up early yesterday and wrote for about an hour. Met Rogers and walked to a fantastic place for breakfast (forget the name of the place, but President Clinton ate there once and they have something named after him on the menu.) Had a delicious tofu scramble thing, and the most sensational French press coffee I've had since I got here.

Took Rogers to Powell's, because, he said, if we didn't go right then, he probably wouldn't make it there on his own. I couldn't let that happen, for obvious reasons. While we were there, I got a couple of the Fighting Fantasy books I loved so much when I was a kid: The Citadel of Chaos and Seas of Blood. Citadel of Chaos even has little kid writing on the character sheet inside.

"This could have been me," I said to John.

"I would have copied it onto an index card and written all the stats there, to keep the book pristine," he said. I remembered that I'd done exactly that with one of my Lone Wolf books, so I could keep the character more portable.

While we were talking, I had a little bit of a realization:

"I just realized why these books and these games are so important to me," I said, pointing to all the D&D books that surrounded us.

"During a childhood that was completely abnormal, filled with things that I didn't choose for myself, these games were something I chose to read and play. These games were part of my normal."

"Oh, so you were like everyone else who played D&D when they were a kid," John said.

I smiled. "I guess so, yeah."

We bought some books, looked like creeps when I wanted to walk into the kids' section to see if they had any classic Choose Your Own Adventure books (John, a little too-loudly: Why do you always want to go into the kids' section? You're a 36 year-old man! Me, much too-loudly: Because it's a great place to meet new people!) Sadly, they did not.

We walked back through Portland, and got to our hotel about fifteen minutes before a massive rainstorm showed up. I wrote for the next few hours (it always amazes me how much writing I get done when I'm on my own, away from home. I don't think about it too much, though, because I don't want to mess with whatever makes it work) before I met up with my sister, who I haven't seen since she moved here a year ago.

We spent the afternoon together dodging the rain (I sent this to Twitter: "Me: Okay, looks like the rain's let up. Guess I can go outside. The Rain: He's outside again! Resume downpour! AHAHAHAHA!!!!") and catching up. It was awesome, and totally the best part of an already-fantastic day.

I took her to the set to meet some of the cast and crew, and then I went on a local television show called The Square, which was a lot of fun. If you visit their site, you can watch me do my thing and see for yourself.

Then I went back to the hotel, finished reading SHATNERQUAKE (review forthcoming), enjoyed a lot of awesome Star Trek puns from followers on Twitter (UHURACANE, SULUNAMI, SPOCKALYPSE, TSUNIMOY, and DEFORESTFIRE among them search "@wilw" from last night if you want to see them all), and went to sleep happy; I really love being here.

LEVERAGE: day three

I wasn't on the call sheet today, but I went to the set anyway, because I felt like I was welcome to visit if I wasn't in the way, and because we were shooting at the Portland Art Museum, and I was planning to go see their collection on my day off.

I slept much later than I've been able to since I got here, and climbed out of bed at 8:50. I grabbed some coffee and read some news before I got my Actual Work™ for the day completed.

Behold this magnificent bit of information, my pretties: I let the manuscript for Memories of the Future go at about 10 this morning. I say "let go," because this is truly one of those books that I could keep tweaking and polishing until they turn the lights off on planet Earth, and it's really just time (past time, really) that I let it go and move on to some other things.

It's a good sign that parts of it I'd forgotten about made me laugh out loud when I was going over the final pass, and when it was done, I didn't hate it.

After I sent it off, I headed out into beautiful downtown Portland, and made my way to the set.

I can't say anything about this scene I watched them shoot, because it will be a big old spoiler, but here's what I told Twitter:

Watching them put together a VERY cool stedicam shot on #Leverage. This is going to be awesome on TV.

OH: "If you think this shot is awesome, wait until you see what we did in the season opener!"

My respect and
admiration for Gary Camp (camera operator on #Leverage) grows
exponentially with each take. This shot is just unreal.


Rogers posted this SPOILER picture before I left, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon at the art museum, which has a wonderful collection. There is an M.C. Escher exhibition there right now, and I think I spent two full hours looking at the ninety different pieces they have, including one of the original Crazy Stairs lithos (yes, art geeks, I know it's actually called Relativity.) In addition to completed works, they also had several sketches and studies that he did on his way to completing things like Heaven and Hell, and I gotta tell you that it was pretty damn impressive and inspiring to watch his process. If you're in PDX or can make it to PDX before they close this exhibition, I highly recommend it.

I explored the rest of the museum, and then went to Powell's after lunch, where I spent hours looking through their old D&D books and browsing the Sci-Fi shelves.

I stumbled across two books that I can't wait to read tonight: The Pillars of Pentegarn, which I remember reading when I was 10 or 11, and … Shatnerquake. That's right, SHATNER-FUCKING-QUAKE. Allow me to quote the jacket copy:


It's Shatner VS Shatners!

After a reality bomb goes off at the first ever ShatnerCon, all of he characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world. Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner.

Featuring: Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, Priceline Shatner, Cartoon Kirk, Rescue 9-1-1 Shatner, singer Shatner, and many more. No costumed con-goer will be spared in their wave of destruction, no red shirt will make it out alive, and not even the Klingons will be able to stand up to a deranged Captain Kirk with a light saber. But these Shatner-clones are about to learn a hard lesson…that the real William Shatner doesn't take crap from anybody. Not even himself!


I read the first chapter in the café, and it was as silly and awesome and wrong as you'd expect. It's a short book, so I suspect I'll have a review sooner than later.

I didn't know I'd been in Powells for two hours until I left and noticed that it had gotten darker and cooler outside. I just love bookstores that much, I guess, and it's easy for time to stand still while I wander through the stacks, especially in a place like Powells, which just feels magical.

On my way up the street, I said this to Twitter:

I just spent two hours in Powells. eBooks are convenient, but I don't want to live in a world without books and bookstores.

That's all for today. I have…somereading…to! do!

LEVERAGE: day two

Today's on-set report actually begins with a moment from yesterday afternoon that was so unexpected, I'm still wrapping my head around it.

I obviously can't go into any details about the plot or characters, so you'll just have to use your imagination to construct what the set looked like. I can tell you that it was awesome, if that helps.

Just about everyone was assembled for this scene, and I lingered near my mark while I waited for everyone else to get their last looks so we could shoot.

Tim Hutton walked over to me and quietly said, "Hey, did you bring any copies of Sunken Treasure with you?"

I felt like I was going to faint. How in the hell does Tim Hutton know about my books?

"How do you know about that book?" I said, totally baffled.

"I just do," he said. "Did you bring any?"

I was so stunned, I couldn't say anything, and I just kind of watched a little beach ball spin around in my head for a few seconds.

"GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, WHEATON!" My brain screamed at me. "ANSWER THE MAN!"

"Uh, yeah, actually, I did bring some copies with me," I said, at once embarrassed and glad that I'd put five of them into my backpack moments before I left for the airport earlier this week.

I don't remember what he said next because I felt completely overwhelmed. (Pop quiz: how many Academy Award-winning actors and stars of one of your favorite shows have asked you about your books? My answer is, "One, as of about 18 hours ago.") I told him that I'd bring him one today, and that it meant a lot to me that he even knew about the book, much less wanted to read it.

I don't know how he knows I write books; maybe Rogers told him, but … it's weird and awesome, and I signed a copy for him this morning, and he may even read it before the end of the weekend.

Today's work was ultra-painless: I was in 1/8 of a page and was in an out of the set like a ninja. We were shooting outside on a beautiful street up near the hills, southwest of downtown, and during one take a very friendly woman somehow got past everyone, didn't realize we were filming, and walked right up to me during a take.

She asked me a question that I can't repeat, because it would be sort of a spoiler. I noticed that nobody called cut, so I just stayed in character, answered her, watched her walk away, and then finished the scene. It wasn't quite "I'm walking here!" but it was still pretty cool.

I don't think we'll be able to use it in the show, because she was a civilian who clearly didn't know that we were filming, but it was exhilarating to just keep on rolling and keep on acting, even though something totally unexpected happened in the middle of the take.

Making television can be grueling, it can be frustrating, and it can be exhausting. I know how very lucky I am to have worked on a couple shows in the last year that haven't been like that, and I'm intensely grateful to be working on another one right now.

I just love everything about this. I love being on the set. I love the creative collaboration. I love working with people who love doing what we do. I love doing work that I'm proud of.

Mostly, though, I love that I even get to do this. This is awesome.

As you can imagine, the success of this mission is especially important to everyone on Starbase 420.

Well, the most creatively demanding part is over. About an hour ago, I finished the first round of de-blogging, cutting and rewriting on Memories of the Future.

The next step is to take all the individual reviews (which are in their own files) and combine them into one big document so I can see how it all works together. Based on my first round of rewrites, I'll be watching for a few things:

* Duplicated jokes that need to be cut. The original
reviews were written months apart, so I used a few things – like "Bat
Country" – more than once without realizing it. That's forgivable
online, but it doesn't really work in a book.

* Places where I can examine something from Behind the Scenes a little bit more, or places where it's just not that interesting and can be cut out.

* How The Bottom Lines all interact with each other. They should reflect how the series and we who made it evolved and developed over the course of the first season, and I'm not entirely sure I accomplished that in the first draft. I have to make sure it's not repetitive, and that each one truly reflects something unique to the episode and when it first aired. (Yes, this is a very public NOTE TO SELF. Please enjoy it.)

Just to keep with the tradition of posting something from the book with each post, here's a little bit from The Big Goodbye. This is one of those episodes that's actually quite good, so the humor in the recap is entirely different from the humor in, say, The Naked Now's recap:

Picard decides that playtime is over, and it’s time to get back to work, but Dr. Crusher wants to check out his office. Any chance of that being a euphemism is reduced when Data and Whalen tag along. When they get to his office, the euphemism possibility is eliminated completely: Felix Leech, a Peter Lorre-esque hired goon, is waiting for them. With a gun. And he’s pissed.

There’s another great moment here where the gun comes out, and Picard and company all look at each other with this wide-eyed grin, like it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever seen. It’s one of the rare times on TNG when we in the audience feel genuine suspense, too, because we know that gun’s going to go off and someone is going to get hurt. Those of us who are longtime fans also know that, for the purposes of this holodeck program, the part of Ensign Ricky Redshirt will be played by the ship’s 20th-century literature expert Mr. Whalen, who dutifully takes a bullet in the gut from Leech. This leads to another great moment, when everyone realizes that, holy shit, Leech just shot Whalen. Like, for reals.

Dr. Crusher tells them that they have to get Whalen to Sickbay, Picard smacks around Leech, and they can’t get the computer to give them an exit. This is sort of a problem because Whalen is dying, and back in the real world the Jarada will be expecting the Captain to speak to them pretty soon. Just to make things a little more tense, tough guy Cyrus Redblock shows up with Leech and another hired goon. It turns out that Redblock hired Hill to find an “item,” which Hill hasn’t produced. Redblock and his goons intend to help Hill find it, using their guns. After Leech pistol-whips Picard, McNary arrives, and we’ve got ourselves what you could call “a situation.”

Picard tries to talk them out of the situation, using the old “Hey, man, we’re from another world” routine, but Redblock and company ain’t buying. Data tries the well-known, “Hey, man, these characters aren’t even real” line, which all of us actors perfected during years of Star Trek convention appearances. Unfortunately, Data’s effort meets with similar results.

This is so close to being finished, I'm almost ready to go pick out a bottle of Scotch to open when I'm done.

It’s misty and stormy, and other words that are not also stage names for strippers

Remember when you had some huge project due in middle school, and you really didn’t want to do it, so you just kept putting it off? Then, when you finally get to work on it, it’s actually more fun than you thought it would be and you wonder why you didn’t want to work on it in the first place?

Welcome to me, working on The Last Outpost. Yes, the episode is still tedious and the Ferengi are so fucking lame if they were horses we’d have to put them down, but once I decided to just relax and not worry about making the damn thing something it’s incapable of being, I found some amusing bits.

BEHOLD:

Picard asks Troi is she’s sensing anything from the Ferengi ship. That’s good, since it’s kind of her whole job and everything. She says she’s sensing nothing, so maybe they can block their thoughts and emotions. That’s bad.

Data says that we don’t know that much about the Ferengi, which is bad, but we do know a few things about them that seem to be reliable, which is good. Data says the Frogurt is also cursed.

Riker tells Data to just get on with it already, so Data says Ferengi are like Yankee traders from 18th century America. This indicates that, in the 24th century, the traditional practice of using 400 year-old comparisons is still in vogue, like when you’re stuck in traffic on the freeway, and say, “Man, this is just like Vasco de Gama trying to go around the Cape of Good Hope!”

And…

Tasha, Worf, Geordi, Data, and Riker all head to the transporter room, where the writers try to make us believe they’ll be in real danger on the planet, but we know it’s pretty safe when they beam down, unaccompanied by even a single Red Shirt.

The planet looks really cool, and it’s one of the first times we can see the difference in budgets and technologies available to the original series and the Next Generation. It’s misty and stormy, and other words that are not also stage names for strippers. We discover that energy in the atmosphere has messed up the transporter’s coordinates, and Riker’s been beamed down alone. He quickly finds Data, who again uses the word “intriguing” to describe things. He keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

Riker and Data scout around, and find Geordi suspended upside down when – oh! here come the Ferengi! Holy shit! The evil Ferengi! They’re finally here, in person! We can see more than just their moderately scary faces, and they are…uh…short. And bouncy. And they wave their hands over their heads a lot. And they don’t like loud noises. And they carry whips…and wear Ugg boots. Um. Wow. How…intriguing.

Oh, and one more bit, which – I’m not going to lie to you, Marge – was the part I had the most fun writing, for reasons which will reveal themselves momentarily:

Back on the Enterprise, we discover that, like the script, things have gone from bad to worse. The lights are out, the ship’s heating is nearly gone, and Picard has had the remaining power rerouted to the family decks, where he asks Doctor Crusher how Wesley is doing.

Now, listen, fan fiction writers: It’s not because Picard is actually Wesley’s father, as many of you will argue on Usenet over the coming seven years; it’s because Picard knows that Wesley could totally figure a way out of this, and he’s right. Off the top of my head, I can suggest that Wesley would generate some sort of Enterprise-enveloping control field with one of his science projects, using an electro plasma system energy converter, to reverse the polarity of the Navigational Deflector to emit an inverse tachyon pulse through a subspace beacon, while rerouting the power from the impulse engines through the Okuda conduits to the forward sensor array’s antimatter pod, using the auxiliary fusion generator to turn the power back on and save the day.

Sadly, we learn that Dr. Crusher left Wesley in their quarters to stare death in the face alone, without even the benefit of a sedative. Picard reassures her that leaving Wesley alone and fully conscious was great parenting, because he has the right to “meet death awake.” Legions of Trekkies agree, then curse Picard for getting their hopes up.

It truly is one of the most tedious episodes of the first season, but I realized while working on the rewrite that I’d somehow managed to spread some funny bits fairly evenly throughout the synopsis, so even though it’s not slap-your-knee funny, it’s not boring, which was my primary concern.

I don’t include many bits that aren’t in the synopsis, so here’s part The Bottom Line:

TNG’s struggle to find its way continues with this episode. Obviously, it fails spectacularly with its introduction of the Ferengi, who were intended to replace the Klingons as a terrifying and worthy adversary to the Federation, but were a total joke until Armin Shimmerman brought Quark to life on DS9, and repaired much – but not all – of the damage.

However, If you take away how outrageously lame the Ferengi are, this episode has some cool elements to it. The planet looks great, and the effects that lead to the revealing of the Portal, its point of view about itself, and its interaction with Riker are straight out of classic Star Trek. In fact, the entire story of the titular last outpost would have been a very strong one, had the Ferengi not been so weak and laughable. Imagine, for example, the relationship between Kirk and the Romulan Commander in Balance of Terror, and put them into this situation, where they are forced to cooperate.

See? It’s not all jokes and snark. I manage to sneak some semi- thoughtful stuff in there between the facepalms.

When I send this to Andrew, I’m done with the bulk of the work on this book. All that’s left is transcribing some interviews I did with friends from the show so I can include a few of their thoughts (I’m not saying who I talked to, nyahh nyahh) and then I have to put everything together in one big tile and read it all, looking for jokes or phrases that I repeated and areas in the behind the scenes stuff where I can add additional material.

Yep, this is dangerously close to being finished.