Thursday, December 30, 2010

Irony, Thy Name Is... Well, OK, Irony, But Still...

So I go out and place the ad on Girl Genius (a really fun webcomic by Phil and Kaja Foglio), and get a little bump in traffic over at Hero Go Home. Then I'm checking my traffic numbers and I see I'm getting a (relative) ton of traffic here at Frazier's Brain. What gives?

Freaking Foglio. The esteemed Steve Bissette (who was the kick-ass penciller on Swamp Thing back in the Alan Moore glory days) has linked to my article about D'Arc Tangent in the midst of a discussion with Dave Sim on Creators' Rights in the context of shared works. And on the one hand, I think it's really cool. And on the other hand, I'm sort of embarrassed by my uninformed BS'ing all the way through the article.

And I really wish I had the cojones to shill for Hero Go Home in his comments, but that would be in bad taste. Shit.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tiny Progress

So I've dipped a tiny toe into the advertising waters by placing a tiny button ad on Girl Genius. Which is to say, I never see the ad when I click over there to check on it, but I have gotten some traffic in from it, so I know it's there sometimes. Apparently, even though I bid one price worldwide, the system breaks the bid down into regions, so basically, my ad is showing on Girl Genius everywhere but in the U.S., where the majority of my target audience is. I'm not sure how to fix that.

I'm placing the ads through Project Wonderful, which seem to be only wonderful for webcomics so far (in fact, I originally started the account when I was putting together the Hero Go Home webcomic, but never used it).

Here's the cool thing about Project Wonderful: it's set up like an auction, so you're bidding for space on the site, and your bids are automatically regulated so you never pay more than you have to.

Here's the bad thing about Project Wonderful: it's set up like an auction, so if your site has really low traffic (like mine, though growing slowly), you may get no one bidding on your site, and therefore make no money from ads.

So traffic is the key. And the two steps I've taken recently--adding Movie Monday and Out of the Vault, and placing the Girl Genius ad--have noticeably increased traffic, though it's still barely comparable to this blog, let alone a successful one. Networking would be good, except that I've pretty much cut ties with most of the people I should be networking with. The closest thing I've got to a networking arrangement was the guest appearances by naamah and sargon, who are also serializing a novel (an idea I shamelessly stole from them), but I haven't linked it because our audiences don't really overlap at all. I need to fix that; they did help me out, after all. So I'll just put a big NSFW label on it or something.

And all the things I'm trying to do to increase the viewership of the blog take away time from producing content for the blog. This is really hard, and I worry, now that a couple of people have read the first chapter and no further, that I need to go back and punch up the beginning to keep people reading. But I also need to be moving forward. Aaaarrggghhh, too many things to do and no idea whether any of them will do any good in the long run.

Monday, December 27, 2010


So there was no Christmasiness around the blog, because I put it over on Hero Go Home. And really, as I've probably said before, I'm not much of a fan of the holiday season. And if anything could make me even less of a fan, it's working retail.

My God. The day before Christmas was a frantic rush, with people grabbing whatever they could for last-minute gifts (and just as often, picking up something, changing their mind, and leaving it in another part of the store--that always happens some, but that day, there were just carts and carts full of it). The day after Christmas, when we put all the Christmas stuff on clearance, the crowds descended like locusts. The Christmas corner looked like a bomb went off back there, and there was a huge pile of discarded stuff all around the nearest price scanner, where people couldn't be bothered to take the things back to where they found them after deciding they still weren't cheap enough.

As for Christmas itself, not terrible. Dressed up in tie and hat again, like last year, and took my daughter her present. I was really proud of this year's choice: an art instruction book called Dragonart Evolution. Daughter likes to draw and is on a big dragon kick, so this seemed like a natural. And she seems to really like it, so I'm glad it worked out.

Went to Muskogee later to have dinner with my family. And that was nice, too, although everyone's getting older and frailer.

Present-wise, well, I have a car and a job (for now, at least), so I don't really need presents. Which is fine, because I couldn't really afford to get anyone else anything, either. But I did get a really nice antique plate from Japan from my mother-in-law, and a really unexpected gift from my stepbrother, which was awesome.

Now we just cruise into the New Year, and then I'll fill you in on what's happening with the other blog. I think it's staying.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Awesome Is Measured In...

(ETA: In case you don't know what this is referring to, you can read about it on Wikipedia here. I just thought it was kind of silly. The original artist is the same guy who inflicted this on us, though, so don't this is some kind of blanket endorsement of his work, though if he hadn't done that, we wouldn't have had this)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Sorry, just listening to the echo. Without Out of the Vault and Movie Monday, it just seems so empty around here. It's my own fault, I know. The funny thing is, I did more posts this year than in any previous year on this blog, and yet now, it has fallen to almost nil.

The move has worked a little, though. I'm getting a little more traffic over at Hero Go Home from people searching out either the comic featured on Out of the Vault or from people searching out the featured movie. It's a bare trickle now, but traffic was so sparse that it's really noticeable.

My next step (assuming I'm able to renew the domain) is to get some ads out. That means I have to make up the ad banners, which means I have to come up with an interesting idea for an ad banner. And I'm debating whether to make it an animated GIF. Which would mean I have to learn how to make an animated GIF.

I doubt it's all that hard, and one of the things I've enjoyed about the whole Hero Go Home process is all the new things I've learned to do, but at some point, you just get tired of doing it all yourself. Plus, there's just so much work involved--every week I write a chapter, put together a new Extra, read-scan-write entry for Out of the Vault and watch-screencap-write entry for Movie Monday, plus most weeks revising the banner as well--that it gets mentally draining after a while. I would like to get back to some Big Game Wednesday, as well as doing some non-superhero-related Movie Monday over here again, but there's no way I have that much energy.

The holidays add their own kind of crazy on top of that. I've not been much of a fan of the Christmas season since I was a kid, anyway, and working retail during the holidays doesn't help. And with the present economic woes, I know several people who are hurting this Christmas season. At least I was able to get my daughter an affordable present that I think she'll really like. I hope.

Not sure where I was going with that, actually. Just venting a little, I guess. Go over to for the entertaining content. Nothing to see here, at least for a while.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas 2010

Another OSFW Christmas party last night, and while it was a good one, it felt kind of strange. The group has really changed. Many of the folks who were regular attendees when I started no longer show up with any regularity (if they haven't moved away entirely). Of the 20-odd people who showed up last night, less than a third were regulars when I started a little over, jeez, seven years ago now.

Which has me questioning the whole writers group thing, really. The first few years there, the group was an exciting place to be, with several old pros mixed with newer up-and-comers like Matt Reiten and Richard Cox and me. I was writing stories in different genres, stretching my wings, finding what worked for me and what didn't. And I was getting to know people in the sf/fantasy community.

But over the years, everything has changed. I lost confidence in everything and mostly withdrew from the writing community again. I rarely write short stories anymore, and don't submit the ones I do write for publication. I'm concentrating on blogging and on the occasional novel, though I'm really not submitting them either. Plus the disintegration that has happened in my personal life.

The point is, when I joined the group, I had a reason for joining. I wanted to step up to the next level in my writing career, and the group seemed like a way to do that (which it was, quite frankly). But now that reason's no longer there, really, and now it has just become sort of a social obligation. Now I just show up but rarely contribute, except with an occasional chapter or the roughly one short story per year I write now. I'm just questioning whether the group is worth the effort any more.

Anyway, as usual, here's my fragment from this year's contest. But first, a word about how it came to be. Several years ago, a bunch of the group's members colluded behind the scenes to write their fragments around a single theme to tweak K.D. Wentworth, who as coordinating judge on the Writers of the Future contest, was seeing a lot of stories with the same elements over and over again (I was not in on the joke, so my fragment was one of the few that didn't fit in). It was so much fun that in subsequent years, we decided to formalize a theme for all the entries--bad science one year, robots the next. Last year was steampunk.

This year, they decided to have everyone write from a plot seed rather than a theme. The seed: the phone rings, and no one's on the other end, but the person answering knows what the call is about anyway. I wan't a big fan of the specific seed, nor of the general plot seed concept, and was considering blowing the whole thing off this year. But one member who was also not thrilled with the idea proposed writing around a counter-theme, that being pirates. Which gave me the hook I needed to actually work in the seed and the theme, as well as probably breaking an unwritten rule by writing about the holiday itself, however obliquely. Because the Christmas fragments are almost never actually about Christmas.

Anyway, here's the fragment, entitled FORTUNE: DANGER!

The lozenge of plastic was only a couple of inches long, pink with the white face of Hello Kitty at a jaunty angle. Nikolai picked it up with blunt fingers and looked at the scarred man across the table from him. "And this is all of it?"

Junkers nodded. "IFF transponder codes for every air force in the northern hemisphere," he said.

"What about the southern hemisphere?" Nikolai asked.

"Exactly what major air power were you worried about down there?" Junkers asked, and Nikolai laughed, baring yellow, uneven teeth. "You should know," Junkers continued, "Warlord Motumbo has his men looking all over for you."

"He's still mad about the drugs," Nikolai said.

Junkers nodded. "It's harder to quash a rebellion when the rebels have access to medicines that the government withholds. People's loyalties can turn against you. He got wind of our meeting somehow, has had men tearing up the quarter looking for you. They're led by someone I've never seen before."

"What does he look like?" Nikolai asked, though he feared he already knew.

Junkers squinted, twisting the puckered scar under his right eye. "I've never used the word 'beautiful' to describe a man before, but this one is. Beautiful and scary, with blond hair that..."

The door burst open and several armed men ran inside, followed by a beautiful man with flowing blond hair. "...looks quite like that, actually," Junkers finished.

"Nikolai," said the blond man, "at last I have you."

Nikolai's smile was perhaps even more disturbing than the blond man's beauty. His round face twisted, making his whiskers jut out in random spikes, and there was a glint of wild madness in his eyes. "It's been a long time, Scratch, you old chicken-counter."

Nikolai's arm moved and there was a magnesium flash, accompanied by a ball of acrid smoke that forced tears from the assembled men. Machine pistols clattered, echoing harshly in the small room, and a man's scream was quickly cut off. Scratch wiped at tear-filled eyes and saw one of his men on the floor. Nikolai was gone.

"After him," Scratch shouted, "quickly!"

Nikolai thundered down the back stairs. Two men tried to block his way, but Nikolai was larger and had momentum on his side. He batted them aside as easily as if he were a bowler picking up a split. He heard footsteps coming from above and below and cut into the second floor corridor to try to confuse the pursuit. He dashed for the elevator, but it dinged open before he reached it. Three men stepped out with machine guns.

Nikolai ran the other way with the men in hot pursuit, when suddenly, a door flew open just as he ran past and a huge, scaly wing stretched out across the hallway, clotheslining all three pursuers. They fell to the ground, senseless.

Nikolai turned as a tall man stepped into the hallway, the squamous wings stretching up from his back brushing against the ceiling to throw both men into uneasy shadow. "Miguel," Nikolai greeted the man.

"Nikolai," the winged man greeted in return. "Let's go."

Nikolai followed the winged figure through the room and out onto a fire escape. In moments, they were standing on the ground in a narrow, dirty alley. Miguel turned to Nikolai and said, "That'll throw them off for a couple of minutes, at least. You're welcome."

"I didn't need any help," Nikolai said.

"You always say that, but it never looks that way," Miguel said.

"Looks can be deceiving," Nikolai answered. "Just ask your brother."

"Oh yes, Scratch. What was he after you for this time?"

Nikolai held up the Hello Kitty flash drive. "IFF codes for the Solstice Run."

"Are you still doing that?" Miguel asked in disbelief.

"It's a tradition," Nikolai said. "I've got to go. My ride's waiting."

Nikolai set a finger to one side of his nose and shot into the sky. Miguel looked up to see a sleek craft turning north before zooming out of sight. "Vaya con dios, my friend."

As Nikolai stumbled into his office, later, the phone rang. He picked it up. "Hello?"

There was no voice on the other end, no sound except for the creak of wood, the lapping of waves and the distant cries of gulls. "Captain Geisthammer, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, I don't work for pirates," Nikolai shouted into the silence. "No-ho-ho!"

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Future of Hero Go Home

This is copied from an identical post appearing at

Okay, here's the deal. I'm enjoying Hero Go Home myself. And I had hoped that the story and the site would find an audience, but I have about three weeks before I have to pay a little over $200 to renew the domain and the hosting. And to date, I haven't gotten a single donation.

So on the one hand, though I really like the idea of the site, and think I've been doing some interesting things with it, they're things that have been of interest to me only. And I'm wondering if $200+ is too much to pay to continue what is essentially a vanity site.

Then again, I've got plans for the future of the site if it continues. I'm going to be putting ads on the site very soon, and perhaps advertising on other sites as well. And then there's the crazy plan.

What's the crazy plan? Well, how does another novel sound? And not another Digger novel (although I have another story planned for after Hero Go Home), but a completely original story set in an unrelated continuity. The absolutely insane plan is, two days of Hero Go Home content (until the current storyline is finished--it's about halfway done now) a week, plus two days of columns (Out of the Vault and Super Movie Monday), plus another two days of the new novel, a Sam Spade meets Cthulhu/Godzilla story set in the 1930's. That's one chapter and one multimedia extra every week for two novels running concurrently, plus two weekly columns.

Now how much would you pay?

But wait, there's more! Because that's only six days a week, and there are seven. What would I do with the seventh?

That's a surprise.

Okay, actually, I don't have a plan for the seventh day, yet. But if turns into a money-making venue, you can bet I will. So, the terms:

If I get at least one donation before the end of the year, even if it's only $5, I'll renew the domain and continue the experiment. If I make enough to cover the $200+ renewal cost (a long shot, I know--that would take over 40 people at $5 a shot), I will launch the new novel on the first Wednesday of the year (January Fifth). And if I get enough to launch the second novel, the biggest donor will get the option to pick what feature will run on the seventh day.

This doesn't mean I absolutely won't renew the site if I don't get any donations--I'm still willing to reconcile with my wife after 2 1/2 years apart, after all, so I'm an easy mark--but a donation, no matter how small, would certainly take out the guesswork, wouldn't it?

Monday, December 06, 2010

These Are Not the Movies You're Looking For

Movie Monday has moved to Hero Go Home. Today is part one of a huge, picturiffic recap of "Superman, the Movie," starring Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman and 15 others. Learn about relativity and big blue Kryptonian balls!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

It's Time

If you think things are looking a bit bare here, you're right. Out of the Vault has moved to Hero Go Home, along with Movie Monday. Today's title: Action Comics #402, one of the oldest Superman Comics I own, along with a special bonus featuring a certain writer's secret origin as a superhero fan (hint: it's genetic).

BTW, having listened to all the hype, I decided to try a Four Loko the other night. To start with, it tasted nasty. But man, it really did knock me on my ass. I drank about 3/4 of the can (it's a pretty big can), decided to go to pass out (though to be fair to my own male ego, I was only operating on about 2-3 hours of sleep because of my weird Target schedule), woke up about 4 hours later with a weird coffee smell coming out of my pores. So from my one experiment, I'd say the hype is real, but I'm not on the side of banning it. And bring back ephedra while you're at it. That stuff worked.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Smeatons and McClanes

Had to move our game night around this week due to my crazy Target holiday schedule. So we gamed Monday night and it was a doozy. We were involved in a huge battle that was a combination of Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields which ended up a bit like Task Force Smith. Smeaton rode out with a chariot sortie into the thick of battle, while the rest of our group stayed on the walls.

And suddenly our resident witch, who has lately been growing all kinds of awesome from the higher level spells she's been learning, performed a face-heel turn which made Smeaton's look about as convincing as Dave Foley's conversion to "pure...... evil" on Newsradio.

Our leader was taken captive, the rest of our group was knocked out of commission, but Smeaton fought on, killing a couple of giants to rescue a fallen king and commandeering a war mammoth to help his comrades escape.

Because although Smeaton may suck at being pure.... evil, he is still teh awesome. In fact, as I got stuck in a "Die Hard" quoting loop last night, let me state right here and now that awesome is a measurable quantity, and the unit of measure for awesome in America is the McClane.

But in Europe, where they operate on the metric system, awesome is measured in Smeatons. And there are roughly 2.1 McClanes to a Smeaton (cause Smeaton's a really big guy).

That is all.