The Weekly Man’s First Fake Interview

yay

Mr. World News: So, Biff, how did the first week of your free daily serialized coffee break novel go?

Biff: It went well, Mr. News. I only lost half my usual readers.

Mr. World News: Half? That’s horrible.

Biff: Tell me about it. Now I have just one reader.

Mr. World News: And what are your plans now?

Biff: I’m going to get that reader back. I may have to send money…or maybe I could just learn how to write. That can’t be too hard.

Mr. World News: No, uh, that should be…(looks at schedule)…you are Biff Mitchell, right?

Biff: Did you want the evil one or the nice one?

Mr. World News: (looking confused) I was hoping for the…uh…nice one, I guess.

Biff: Great. That would be me. Are you one of my readers? Are you the one who stopped reading?

Mr. World News: (looking uncomfortable, about ready to run) Um…back to the first week. What was that first week like, Biff?

Biff: (gets faraway look in eyes) Let me see. It was…hell. Pure hell. It rained every day. I posted a bad link and one of my readers (the one that stayed) sent me a death threat with a graphic description of what will happen to me if I screw up again. MS Word caused massive format changes of an evil manner in WordPress. My iMac died just when I needed it the most and needs a few hundred dollars worth of repairs, but I have a MacBook, so the posts went on. Other than pure bloody hell…things went well.

Mr. World News: (eyes glazed) It…it sounds like…an interesting first week.

Biff: And there are only 9 more weeks to go. I think I’ll jump off a bridge tonight.

Mr. World News: (looking around to ensure there are no bridges close by) Is it true that you have two versions of the novel?

Biff: Yep. It looks fine on my blog if you’re on a desktop or laptop. But it looks like shit on a phone. I know this for certain. I saw it on my iPhone and immediately sent myself a death threat. So I put together a cell phone friendly site.

Mr. World News: It certainly sounds like a lot of work, Biff. How do you manage it?

Biff: Awakeness

Mr. World News: Awakeness?

Biff: Yes, I wake up each day and do things.

Mr. World News: Um…uh…yes. That’s very interesting, Biff. Good wholesome advice. (hands Biff the microphone and runs over a hill and into the setting sun)

Biff: (looking at mike in hand) I wonder…was he that other reader?

(NOTE: You can start reading The Weekly Man at any time. All the episodes published so far are at the welcome screen.)

A Clean Well Lit Place

IMG_4313.JPG

I’m not an expert on world cuisine but I know what I like. I know what makes my taste buds dance so wildly that people back away from me when they see my eyes spinning in their sockets and both sides of my smile shaking hands over my eyebrows. It’s unsettling and, fortunately for my friends’ ability to sleep at night, it’s rare.

But, unfortunately, most food tastes like salt, sugar or some chemical compound meant to recreate the taste of something that the creators of the compound never seem to have tasted. Restaurants can be an exception…along with meals we make from scratch. The problem is: The foods that don’t taste like food are the foods we equate with the flavor for those foods.

I’ve heard people say they don’t like the food in Cuba because it’s bland. Hey, welcome to the actual taste of pork, butter, ketchup, fish…you name it…without salt and sugar added to addict your taste buds to anything but the flavor of food.

The really sad part is that we get an unhealthy dose of sugar and salt, and whatever is in those chemical compounds that could, conceivably, turn our future generations into walking, talking belly pods.

Having said all this, I guess it’s time to get to the point: I found a restaurant in Ottawa that serves Mexican food without the stuff that hides the real taste. My daughter and son-in-law took me there, and apparently, you have to get there early. Which we did. In less than an hour, all the other tables were filled.

IMG_4310.JPG

I’m not going to get into any attempt at describing the food from an culinary expert standpoint because I’m not a culinary expert, but if you’re in Ottawa, I would recommend trying the food at Ola Cocina.

(BTW, they didn’t pay me to write this. In fact, they don’t even know I’m writing this.)

The Weekly Man: One Got Through (so far)

CoffeeNovel

I’ve been planning and preparing for my serialization of The Weekly Man for months. It’s pretty much how I spent most of my summer. It wasn’t easy. I had to set up a blog at WordPress to post the episodes. I was horrified when I saw the first test posts on my phone. They looked great on my iMac and Macbook, but things were skewed all to hell on my phone.

So I had to create a phone-happy version on my biffmitchell.com site on GoDaddy. And it actually looks good. Unfortunately, I ran into massive formatting problems with the template and I had to create PDFs for each episode…72 of them, along with 72 thumbnails for readers to click on to bring up the PDFs.

Ran into formatting problems on WordPress as well and had to create screen cuts of all the email messages (and there are many many many emails in the novel) which I can insert into the posts each day for the next couple of months.

Now, I realize that I could have sailed around a lot of these problems if I used some HTML, but that would be time-consuming and my HTML is rusty as hell.

And then, of course, there’s getting the word out. I won’t get into the Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn and Facebook challenges. I could write a book on the ups and downs and the special rules and expectations, especially on some if the Reddit and Facebook sites.

It’s a lot.

But I have a checklist. I worked in Quality Assurance for several years and learned that complex processes crumble and collapse without checklists and stringent testing. So I have a checklist, and when I post something on either site, I read through, looking for misspellings, missing paragraphs, incorrect images…all the cool and maddening ways that things can go wrong and kill the hair follicles in your head.

But I just received a message from a friend informing me that when she clicks the thumbnail for Episode 2 on the GoDaddy site, she gets Episode 3. Fortunately, I don’t have any hair left to loose, but I have to wait an hour before I can correct the error and…whisker by whisker…my new beard is falling out.

It’s a race against the clock to keep my beard and hide the mistake.

There will be more. I’ve been in the IT industry too long to believe any differently.

 

(PS, if you find any errors, mistakes, gross misconceptions, incorrect theses, unintentional release of secret information, or signs of unforgivable sloppiness…please feel free to rub it in my face and I’ll do my best to address it.)

Never Bored with the Boards

Bridge Yellow

It was one hell of a busy summer. I finished a novel and gave up on another one (for now, anyway). I put together a game and marketing plan for the world’s first free daily serialized coffee break novel (seriously, Google it). The novel is currently running on my parallel blog, The Weekly Man.

I also, visited Fundy Park for the first time with my bestie, Stephanie, and will definitely be going back. I discovered a lake I’d been wanting to see for years along with my friend, Nanook of the Nashwaak.

I also put together my first solo exhibition featuring my macro photography and board drawings. I did 37 boards last winter and lost over 20 pounds. They were addicting to the point that I would start right in on them as soon as I got home from work and forget abut things like eating and making a lunch for the next day.

I did the actual drawing at home but took the boards into the studio to paint and varnish them.

This is what they looked like in the studio:

And this is what they look like hanging up:

69974540_10162197187395335_291865825449607168_n

I’ve visited the studios of many of my artist friends and it always fascinates me to see their works in progress and then see them on display with all the messiness of creation left behind. I think this is what many skeptics fail to see when they look at a painting and say something stupid like, “A few dollars for paper and a few dollars for paint…and you sell it for ten times what it’s worth.”

Bastards.

I hate these people with a passion. I’d like them all to work for me for free for one year. You know, doing whatever they’re good at and not being paid for it. Or being paid a couple of dollars an hour. On the other hand, these are most likely to be people who don’t do so well on their jobs because they’re not smart and they talk too much. Maybe I don’t want them working for me and just messing everything up.

So, with that aside put aside, seeing the work in progress gives you a true sense of the intense focus and commitment that goes into creating art. I’ve seen artists on the verge of collapsing from hunger and fatigue because they had a deadline for an exhibition and they’ve gone for days without sleep and they’ve survived on coffee and air.

And this isn’t always a matter of the artists not preparing properly. Often, it’s because the gallery or other venue has changed the rules, the dates, the physical venue or whatever. Or, preparing for the exhibit leads the artist into new areas and the temptation to add some of the new stuff to the exhibit. Fortunately, most galleries don’t allow this, or there’d be a lot more crazy artists jumping out of windows and off bridges.

For me, working on the boards was one of the most fulfilling and mystical experiences of my life. I believe that where there was life, there will always be life. Life is energy and wherever that energy has existed, there will always be some remnant of it…like when you cut down a tree, the tree’s life energy doesn’t just disappear…patches of it inundate the wood like shadows of the tree’s memories, and you can feel that energy in the boards even after they’re cut into useable sizes from the tree.

Before I start drawing on the board, I spend some time getting a feel for its life energy, and that’s what directs the tip of my gel pen to bring out the board’s story.

And the stories are never boring.

 

(BTW, the image at the top of the screen is one of the photos in the exhibit.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weekly Man: 224,434,533.05 Bugs, But It’s Done

Landing Image

I’m so glad for the death threats a few of months ago. Without them, I would have been in some pretty deep shit a couple of months ago. I wouldn’t have been ready for this. I would have made a complete idiot of myself (and I don’t need any more of that). I would have failed miserably and hopelessly. I would have had to spend the rest of my life under my bed with an empty bottle of wine, crying. 

But thanks to the promises of my unscheduled departure from this world if I didn’t do this at the end of the summer, I had time to do it right…and work out the 224,434,533.05 bugs that somehow crept into the very texture of the project. Things like font and formatting problems across platforms, sizing for devices, figuring out an efficient way to deliver the episodes…

It was a lot, but I won’t get into that now. The first episode is up and was ready for everybody’s Sunday coffee break and that’s what I’m going to do for the next two and a half months…make sure each episode is up and ready for everybody’s coffee break, seven days a week, because we all drink coffee on the weekends, gallons of it, and most of it on our Sunday coffee break. Some of us go into work to do this; some of us have lost our jobs for doing this; some of us skip football to do some coffee break reading; some of us lead normal lives and haven’t read this far…

   🙂

This is my promise, short of death by dismemberment and other means, I will have all 72 episodes ready each day except for one period where the order of life in the novel will require a week (Sept 30 – Oct 7) for everyone to take a breather and drink tea…just for the hell of drinking tea. And I won’t lie about this…I’m nervous. I spent a lot of time building things, working up a schedule that makes sense and a process for meeting the schedule, creating graphics and freebies that might actually have meaning for some people…and, of course, I had to write a novel. 

   

It took almost eight years to write it…and that includes a year and a half of research to work out the logistics required to make the story believable; plus, I took a few years off to study photography and get a haircut. I used the storyboard for the novel to teach the concept of storyboarding to my creative writing students…the ones who are all better writers than me and didn’t really need to take the workshop. All they needed was this advice. (https://biffmitchell.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/writeanovel.pdf) But that’s another blog. 

There’re seven main characters, and their names sound a bit similar. Well, maybe a lot similar. There’s a reason for this but I’m not going to tell you what it is because I don’t want to give away something that will make your skin crawl. It’ll all be revealed in time but, in the meantime, it might be a good idea to download the printable one page character guide.

BTW, if you want to read the novel on your cell phone, you can read each episode in PDF form from the Welcome Page.

Today is Sunday. At exactly nine o’clock, I sipped a Columbian coffee I made with my French press from freshly ground beans and read the world’s first free daily coffee break novel. And I can hardly wait for the second episode…when things loosen up a bit and the humor kicks in.

(BTW, I’ll be posting each episode sometime between 6 and midnight each day.)

How Do You Read the Coffee Break Novel?

read novel

You would think I would have the decency and the brains to limit the world’s first daily serialized coffee break novel to five days a week…those weekdays traditionally recognized as work days in the 1950s image of the perfect world where everybody clocked in at 9 in the morning and stumbled out at 5 PM. But I have neither.

And I don’t really feel bad about it. Not everyone works in an office. Not everyone has coffee breaks. Not everyone drinks coffee. And since this is a world’s first, not everyone knows how to read it. There will be chaos and war sprouting out of arguments over how to read a coffee break novel if you don’t have a coffee break. Families will purge members who drink tea on their coffee breaks. I’ve already received disguised death threats from football fans expressing their outrage that The Weekly Man will be published not just weekdays…but Saturday and Sunday as well…even though I had no say in that. You can thank the novel’s characters for that piece of insanity.

I’ve thought deeply about this and I’ve come up with some options.

You can read The Weekly Man five days a week on your morning or afternoon coffee break…and you can come in to work for a few minutes on Saturday and Sunday to read it. I foresee objections to this option and offer the following alternatives:

  • Stay home on the weekends and read three days’ worth of episodes on Monday.
  • Have your weekend coffee breaks at home in a room simulated to look like your work space.
  • Don’t bother reading those episodes, which will very likely increase the novel’s mystery aspect.

Personally, none of these options appeal to me, but then, I’m bald and have an unruly beard that I try to conceal from the public.

Now, let’s suppose you don’t have coffee breaks, don’t drink coffee, don’t work because you’re a 105 year old hippie like me, don’t have time on your 3 minute coffee break or…don’t whatever. I have a page, a hidden page that doesn’t appear on my website’s navigation bar because it’s a secret page. It has all the episodes, every single one of them listed for the whole two and a half months of its serialization.

One problem though.

Each episode will be posted on its scheduled date…not all at once. But you can still put aside some time and read say, a week’s worth or a few days’ worth. And you don’t even have to drink coffee while you’re reading. You can drink beer. Or tea. Click here for the secret page…but don’t tell anyone else. This is just for you.

Come to think of it, reading a weeks’ worth of episodes each Saturday would be more like the original serialized novels from writers like Dickens a thousand years before they had coffee breaks.

Using this secret link will allow you to read the whole novel after all the episodes have been published. But keep in mind…that would require a lot of clicking because each episode requires you to click to open it. You’ll get Click Thumb and Fingers and your hand will fall off.

Here’s another option that just occurred to me: Read the episodes at night while you drink coffee on a break from your evening activities. How cool would that be? You’re watching a movie with friends and suddenly stand up and announce, “I think I’ll have a coffee break now and read The Weekly Man.” You’ll be envied as the loneliest person on the block. I know this from experience.

I guess it boils down to this: Read it however you want. I’ve put together a few options to give you some choice and that choice is yours.

You can read The Weekly Man on its own blog here. https://www.theweeklyman.com. If you’re reading on a cell phone or tablet, read it at the secret place mentioned above. And check out the welcome page at https://biffmitchell.com/the-weekly-man for more options and lots of freebies for readers and writers.

Sometimes you have to cry before you laugh

Cry before laugh

…or just do something that’s not anywhere near laughing…like being confounded, grossed out or puzzled. The Weekly Man is a mystery of sorts. In terms of genres, it would fall loosely into speculative/magical realism/humor/social commentary/not always so humorous. Something along those lines.

The first episode is not humorous. My apologies. It’s kind of serious, kind of gross, kind of foul-mouthed and kind of hopeful. You won’t like the main character…for now. However, if you don’t like serious/gross/foul-mouthed/hopeful, you can just skip it. It’s being published on a Sunday anyway, and my friends tell me they’d rather stay home and watch football than go into work so that they can have a coffee break and read the first episode of The Weekly Man.

Oh well.

But honestly, the first episode won’t make any sense until almost halfway through the novel anyway; however, it sets a tone that’s important coming into the story because, sometimes, it’s necessary to erect humor on a solid foundation of muck.

Dark muck.

There’s something deeply wrong with humans (that would be you and me), but I won’t get into that now. I will later…well into the story when, hopefully, you’ll see something intrinsically wrong with the way the lives of the characters unfold. It’s something we do all the time and it’s probably going to kill us eventually and that’s why the story starts on a down note.

There will be humor, but you won’t be slapping your knees or choking on coffee. It’ll be quiet and bothersome. And it’ll go well with your morning coffee.

Check out the new landing page with options for reading the novel and some interesting free stuff.