Batman pulled over by cops, turns out to be a real hero

This is such a great story. You’ll know I have a bit a of a predilection for Real Life Superhero stories if you’ve been reading this blog for long. One of the greatest posts ever ended up with actual Real Life Super Heroes (RLSH) arguing in the comments, which subsequently had to be closed. Golden days. But I always keep an eye out for stories along those lines and this one is gold.

Lenny BatMeet Lenny B. Robinson, AKA Batman. He was pulled over by cops recently because his black Lamborghini didn’t have licence plates. Just Bat symbols. You’re thinking this guy is a complete nutcase, right? Well, you’re wrong. The man is a legend. He’s a rich guy, using his money for good, just like the real Bruce Wayne.

He visits sick kids in hospital, dressed as Batman, and brings them all kinds of Batman paraphenalia like books, rubber bracelets, toys. He signs the books, t-shirts and other gifts as Batman. His custom-made suit cost $5,000. He spends around $25,000 a year on gifts for the kids and is having a Batmobile (modeled on the one from the movies, but I’m not sure which movie) built for $250,000. All this without seeking publicity. The only reason we know about him is because he got pulled over and people snapped pics of him talking to police and those pics went viral. Subsequently, journalist Mischael S Rosenwald, a personal friend, has written this piece all about him. It’s a really touching story – go read it now.

You want a real life super hero? You got one, in Lenny B Batman Robinson. Well done, sir!


A tale of two editors, and a tale

Submitting work for publication is a complete lottery. But it’s a lottery we can stack in our favour. The simple fact is that publication comes from a variety of efforts. I wrote a piece before about what I considered the essential factors in success. It basically boils down to dreams, talent, determination, friends and luck. All of which you can develop. Or, as my writerly friend Angela Slatter said recently, you have to appease “the Gods of Writing (also known as Fear, Famine and Fuck-you).” You’ll see a post from Angela soon, where she says that, and you’ll know what I’m on about.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up now is because I had an experience recently which helps to highlight how we can develop those essential criteria of success. It comes down to interpretation, and seeing through the incandescent veil of ego to the reality behind our work.

I recently had a short story submission rejected by an editor who said, and I paraphrase, “This is a great story, but I felt the lack of an explanation of the relationship between X and Y let it down.”

Fair enough, thought I. That’s something to consider. After all, we should always carefully consider any editorial feedback we get. We don’t have to take any advice, but it behoves us to at least consider the comments. I reread the story. Thought about it. Put aside my internal princess and accepted that perhaps the editor had a point.

I addressed the point, developed, within the story, the relationship between X and Y, in order to smooth out that narrative issue. I sent the story out into the wild again.

The next editor rejected it. This editor said, and again, I paraphrase, “Great story, really enjoyed it, but I felt it slowed down with the unnecessary explanation of the relationship between X and Y.”

My first reaction, naturally, was something like, “What the shit, editors!? What the fuck is wrong with you people!? Can’t you decide on what you want? Can’t you see the beauty within this story, the exquisite nuance of X and Y and what that means for my protagonist?”

That, of course, was my internal princess throwing a hissy fit, wearing her biggest veil of incandescent ego. The only way we get anywhere in this game is to give that aspect of ourselves a moment’s freedom (so we don’t explode, and always in the privacy of our own boudoir), then rein it in and say, “Calm the fuck down and have a proper look.”

The truth is, I’m sure both editors are right. I’m the one with the problem. Editor A was right that the relationship between X and Y needed better explanation. It’s not a romantic relationship, by the way, simply the nature of two characters and how they affect and reflect each other and therefore the protagonist.

Editor B was also right. Not because that relationship didn’t need to be explained, but because I probably made something of a hack job of doing it. I can choose to be prissy about it, or I can choose to be a grown-up and learn from it. Develop my craft. Improve my story. I choose life.

So I need to develop that aspect of the yarn in a better, more professional way. I’ll work on that now and hopefully editor C will see the shining gem that I’ve polished into existence and offer me buckets of cash to publish it. Maybe not, but we have to keep believing or we’d just curl up and die. Or go and get a different job. And honestly, hard and unforgiving as it is, being paid to make shit up is the best freaking job in the world. What’s important is learning and growing and never thinking we’re some special snowflake.

So now I’m off to sort that story out. And then get back to editing the next novel, which was recently eviscerated by the aforementioned Angela Slatter. Man, that woman is a harsh critter. But she’s also an excellent writer and knows her shit. Off I go to learn some more.


Tuesday Toot – Angel Leigh McCoy

Tuesday Toot is a semi-regular feature here at The Word. An invite-only series of short posts where writers, editors, booksellers and other creatives have been asked to share their stuff and toot their own horn. It’s hard to be seen in the digital morass and hopefully this occasional segment will help some of the quality stuff out there get noticed. It should all be things that readers of The Word will find edifying.

This week, it’s Angel Leigh McCoy tooting. You might recognise the name – she’s in charge of Wily Writers, one of my favourite fiction podcasts/publishers. They’ve published a couple of my stories (Stand Off and Declan’s Plan) and loads of other good stuff. I was also recently a guest editor there and got to pick two stories for publication. So I’m very happy to give Angel some space here today.

ALMWho is Angel?

I’m hijacking my own bio space to say two things, Alan. First, OMG! Your novel is on Audible! You have no idea how happy that makes me. I read audio books while I’m commuting across the Seattle asphaultscape to and from work. So psyched! [Thanks! – Alan] And secondly, I just want to say I love that I get to toot today in public and not feel embarrassed. Thank you for allowing me a little swatch of your blogspace.

When you get to be my age, your bio becomes a daunting exercise in what to leave out, so I’ll just mention that I live in the upper-left corner of the USA, with three loving cats. Oh, and I’m a writer. During the day, I work at a company called ArenaNet, writing dialogue for a little game called Guild Wars 2. The Border House recently published a two-part interview with me, in which I talk about game design and the sylvari race of characters in the game. I’ve been a game writer for almost 20 years, so you can guess how much I love my job.

Best of Wily WritersWhat are you tooting?

As for what I’m tooting today, I want to tell your peeps about my speculative fiction podcast,Wily Writers. Folks, you may have listened to a couple of Alan’s incredible stories there, but if you haven’t, go do so! You’ll enjoy them. We liked his story “Stand Off” so well that we put it into our first Best of Wily Writers anthology alongside a primo selection of our best from 2010. We’ve also recently released our second collection of the Best of Wily Writers.

Wily Writers is all speculative fiction, all the time, and that means some of the best horror, fantasy, and science fiction out there today. Also, we just became a pro-rate market, so if you’re a writer, check out our submission guidelines. We have a special contest coming up for SpecFicNZ members. SpecFicNZ is a New Zealand writers organization.

I also wanted to mention a little story I wrote, a novella, called “Charlie Darwin; Or, the Trine of 1809.” “Charlie Darwin” is about three boys who get kidnapped and taken to a magical dimension land while in their formative years. These boys are Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Charlie DarwinIn real life, these three were born within a month of each other, and all three went on to become extremely influential in the world. The story I wrote suggests that maybe the reason these men lived such amazing lives was because they had an adventure when they were nine years old that opened their minds to possibilities others couldn’t imagine.

The story is great to read to your kids, but it’s also fun for adults. I had an awesome time doing research, and I wove some of their futures into their pasts.

That’s all I wanted to tell you about today. I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt from “Charlie Darwin.” If you end up reading the rest of the story, please do drop me an email and let me know what you thought.


“What in tarnation?”

The strange words awakened young Charlie Darwin. He wasn’t positive what they meant, spoken as they were with unfamiliar inflection, but he got the gist. Charlie pushed up on one elbow and gawped. He lay on the deck of a galleon constructed and carved of dark wood. It swayed and swashed as if afloat.

A bean-pole of a boy with ragged brown hair was pacing back and forth, his unpolished boots thudding upon the deck. He was the one who had spoken.

Another boy lay on the deck next to Charlie. He slept, eyes closed, mouth open, snoring a wheezy little snore. He wore a black suit and had hair as slick as a raven’s feathers.

Charlie spied a man on the quarter deck, standing at the helm, attention focused on adjusting a set of brass levers. He wore white from head to toe, including cowboy boots, a European-style cloak, a knee-length Templar tunic (slit to reveal fringed chaps) and a ten-gallon hat on his head. The wind whipped his cloak out behind him and flattened the tunic to his thighs.

Charlie’s perusal of the man was curtailed by a thunderous whoosh from overhead. He ducked, covered his ears, and looked up. Where he had expected to see sails pulled taut by the wind, he found a trio of white balloons tethered to the boat with criss-crossing ropes. It took a moment for the sight to sink in and for his brain to analyze what he was seeing, but only a moment. In the next instant, he was up and running to the deck railing so he could look out over the ocean. It was there, vast and blue-gray, but it was far, far below.

Charlie sat down and wrapped his arms around his knees.

“You okay?” asked the tall, thin boy.

“I don’t like heights.”

The other boy patted Charlie on the shoulder. “Sorry about that.” He plopped down too. “You’re awake.”

“That remains to be seen,” Charlie said.

Read the rest of “Charlie Darwin”.

Find Angel at her website:

Tweet her at @AngelMcCoy and find her on Facebook!

You really don’t need me to tell you again how good Wily Writers is, but I’m going to anyway. Seriously, get over there and get your fix of great spec fic, in text and podcast flavours. – Alan


Guest post at The Great Raven

My dark fairy story, The Everywhere And The Always, was recently published in the Mythic Resonance anthology. One of the other contributing authors, Sue Bursztynski, has been having a series of guest posts about it on her blog. My post is up now, wherein I talk about mythology, folklore and the beauty of storytelling. Among other things. Tis here.


The Darkest Shade Of Grey ebook now available

DSOG-coverI’m really excited about this, so excuse me while I Snoppy Dance. My novella, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, is now available as an ebook, from Amazon and Smashwords. It’ll soon populate out through the Smashwords Premium catalogue to iBooks and all the other good places for ebooks.

David Johanssen’s drinking problem goes beyond the usual need for self-medication. He sees things he shouldn’t be able to see, things no one could handle seeing. And he has no one but himself to blame.

When a chance encounter offers the possibility of answers, he follows the bloody trail in spite of his own fears. It could be the big story he needs to keep his job. It could be the meaning of life. Or it could be the end of his world.

The story is published by The Red Penny Papers, and serialised on their site in four parts. Those four parts and a mini interview with me have subsequently been collected into this ebook edition, which will only cost US$1.99 of your Earth money. Less than half a cup of coffee for what the publisher calls “stunning supernatural noir”. How can you go wrong?

Don’t trust me or the publisher? Well, don’t panic. I’m also Snoopy Dancing due to this excellent review of The Darkest Shade Of Grey from the Australian Godfather of Darkness, Robert Hood. I couldn’t be happier that someone I respect as much as Robert Hood enjoyed my work and gets what I was trying to do. Thanks, Rob, for a great review!

I’m very proud of this story and pleased that it’s been publihsed by such a classy outfit as The Red Penny Papers. Go get some. If you do read it and enjoy it, please leave a review at Amazon, Smashwords or wherever else you usually hang out. Reviews are the very life essence of a writer’s career. Well, actually, love and royalties are the real life essence, but they’re powered by reviews.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at Amazon.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at Smashwords.

The Darkest Shade Of Grey at The Red Penny Papers.