Kevin Keller #3-4

My review of issues #3 & #4 of the Kevin Keller miniseries is live over on Prism Comics:


In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

– Martin Luther King Jr

I didn’t think it was possible for the storytellers behind the Kevin Keller miniseries to top the first two issues of the four part miniseries (namely issue #2), and yet, somehow, they did so with the power and fury of a 1000 suns. This is definitely one of those times where I don’t mind standing corrected.

Read more……



I think it’s safe to say that the internet has changed the landscape in society, our way of life, and specifically entertainment. Social media, websites, blogs, emails, we’re allowed to have global discussions that once upon a time would’ve been the stuff of sci-fi. For the publishing industry, e-books have been a game changer. While initially met with skepticism by many who believed it was only going to be a fad, e-books have been established as here to stay.

Between e-books and the internet, it’s allowed smaller presses and self-published authors to compete with the big boys and girls.

As the technology continues to improve and self-publishing becomes easier (at least in terms of formatting and producing an e-book), not to mention Amazon entering the mix and potentially dealing a blow to traditional publishers, there are many who are worried about the loss of the gatekeepers.

For those of you who are not in the publishing game, there’s this stigma that self-published authors have to put up with:

-If they’re self-published, it’s because they couldn’t get a “real publisher.”

-The authors are self-published because they aren’t up to par with “real authors.”

-Traditional publishing is “real” publishing because the editors and publishers serve as the gatekeepers to keep out inferior tripe.

Which is interesting because in music, theater, or other forms of art, the standard is that you work and produce your own stuff, build a name until you get the agent, the contract, the distribution deal, etc. But for many, being self-published is almost like being blacklisted. And while I believe that mindset is changing (thanks in part to the flux of the industry and the emergence of ebooks), it still exists.

While I went through an excellent publisher for Hollowstone, I got mad respects for my self-published brothers and sisters. I got mad respect for anyone who gets their hustle on and fight for what they love and makes it happen. The risk is that there is far more riding on the author’s shoulders and it’s all on them but it can be done. I’ve read some incredible self-published books that quite frankly don’t get the credit they deserve.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s merits and disadvantages to both being traditionally published and self-published and it ultimately depends on what the novelist is looking for. And this certainly isn’t a trad. publishing vs. self-publishing debate. There are authors who do both. In fact some of my friends, began as trad. published authors but after they built a name, learned the business, they decided to take the reins of publishing their work.

An aside, there’s been two or three writers (and I use the term loosely) who for years trashed self-published authors and suddenly within the last few years, they’ve been self-publishing themselves. Oh how the tides have changed.

The publishing industry is in a flux right now. It’s shifting. Whether the shift is bad or good, it’s anyone’s call. I’ve read some strong arguments across the board. But between the recession, said industry flux, the emerging technology of e-books, I think people are a lot more open to the idea of self-publishing.

But if everyone self-publishes, who will be the gatekeepers?

There’s another reason why people go the self-publishing route which I don’t think gets discussed enough (if at all): the rampant bigotry in the industry. We’ve seen what happens when authors try to put the gay in YA, we’ve seen the countless times when novel covers featuring protagonists of color are whitewashed like whoa. It’s the same gatekeepers who think that POC, queer and other marginalized stories aren’t “real stories” and that POC and queer authors aren’t “real authors.”

While there are a few marginalized presses out there who are fighting a good fight and doing some incredible work, that’s the problem, there are only a few and many of them have limited resources at best.

Sure there are a few queer and/or POC titles that beat the odds and get published but how many other wonderful books out there are we missing out on? We’ve witnessed the pushback that happens when we expect change in the industry.

Or the few “marginalized titles,” how many of those are written by non marginalized writers for a privileged audience?

How many authors have been told that queer, or POC-centric titles don’t sell or “we just released a book with a black character and we don’t want to publish two because OMG that might eat our sales”?

Again this isn’t a self-publishing vs. traditional publishing post. Again, there are merits to both. This is about why the gatekeepers haven’t always been on the side of the angels.

For many of us, the old way wasn’t working, so with the flux and the change, here’s hoping it leads to something better.

Recommended Reading:


A Novel Pro-Tip

Pro-Tip for authors: If you receive a negative a review on your novel, story, DO NOT ENGAGE!

Maybe the reviewer misread the piece.

Maybe the reviewer is too dense to get your genius and is an idiot.

Maybe the reviewer has a hangup on one issue and it’s blinding them to the overall story.

Maybe the reviewer has a legit beef about the prose and they are well within their rights to call out the problematic elements.

Maybe the reviewer is a drama/wank whore who has a personal agenda/vendetta and is looking to do you harm.

Maybe as a storyteller you had a great idea and an excellent concept but you failed in the execution.

Maybe both the reviewer and the author are two perfectly pleasant and wonderful people who simply have two vastly different and equally valid interpretations to the text.

Maybe the reviewer is being more than fair and objective and you just have your over-inflated head up your ass.

Maybe the reviewer gave you more credit than you deserved and you’re just a primadonna, a talentless hack on top of that.

These are all very possible, and I’ve seen all of these scenarios over the years.

Whatever the situation. whether the reviewer is right or wrong, an author arguing with them is bad form. Let’s face, probably 97 percent of novelists don’t have the nuance to engage critics and come out looking classy.

Because it looks like the author is throwing a hissy fit and being a bully because a reader didn’t like their story. And if the reviewer is in fact a troll or has an underhanded agenda, you’re playing right into their hands.

This weekend, against my better judgement, I read this epic wankstorm where authors and commenters showed their collective asses. And no, I will not be linking to it. Not gonna feed the monster. Suffice to say the entire time reading, this was pretty much me:


Other readers may see the negative reviews but they aren’t as gullible as you think (some of them anyway). Case in point. This weekend I happened upon a novel written featuring an African-American protagonist. As my buddies and I discussed, what was interesting for us was the only people leaving negative reviews were all white. And note, the author had the class to not engage the haters. Needless to say the novel was added to my To-Read list.

Authors, DO NOT ENGAGE! It will not end well…………………………….for you!!!!!!!

Round Table: LGBTQ Edition

A few months ago, four POC novelists held a round table discussion which tackled the challenges that authors of color have to face in both the publishing industry as well as the media in general in terms of race, gender and orientation.

With diversity in media, in particularly in terms of queer content, an LGBTQ-themed round table was recently conducted. This time it was opened up to playwrights, comic book creators and artists of various storytelling mediums.

Participants submitted questions and topics they wanted to address. What was interesting reading the responses while composing this round table. The participants only saw their own responses, so the answers often made for fascinating reads. With an eclectic mix of writers from very different backgrounds, sometimes there would be seven vastly different answers and in certain instances, the answers were unanimous and almost verbatim.

One thing was certain, this was definitely a conversation that has been long overdue, and certainly one that needs to continue.

Seven storytellers, one powerful discussion.

  Continue reading

By Dennis R. Upkins