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.

The Weekly Man: The Landing Page

Landing

So you’re putting in your 32 hours a day on the internet and you see an ad for horse shoes…and you just happen to be in the market for some horse shoes…if the price is right. Not that you have a horse; most of us don’t. But according to the ad, they’re on sale for just a dollar a shoe and you don’t have to own horses to know a horse shoe bargain when you see one. Feeling some weird kind of deja vu as you yell, “I’ll buy that for a buck!” you click the ad with the picture of horse shoes and bright red text proclaiming: Horse Shoes a Buck a Shoe.

Your request for horse shoe savings thunders over the internet like greased desire and takes you to the home page for Mac’s Horse Accessories: Everything But the Horse, and you’re suddenly looking at a bewildering array of horse accessories…scrolling page after scrolling page…and you’re thinking: You need this much shit to own a horse? And where the hell is the horse shoe sale?

The sale is buried somewhere on the site under gigabytes of information that has nothing to do with the sale. You guzzle whatever’s left in your wine glass and think nasty thoughts about Mac and his buried sale.

Before Mac posted the ad for the sale on horse shoes, he should have created a page on his site devoted specifically to that sale so that shoppers could immediately see the thing they came for and buy it. It’s called a landing page because it’s where you want the shopper to “land” when they click the ad. You want to make it easy for them to buy what you advertised. You don’t want them to go to your home page unless it has the horse shoe sale blazing across the top of the page with a Buy Me Right Bloody Now button.

It occurred to me that I need a landing page.

I’m going to be running three versions of The Weekly Man: one for laptops and desktops, one for cell phones and tablets, and a chronological version for people who start reading after the serialization begins. Plus, there will be lots of PDF giveaways like the character list and some free short stories. Everything and anything about The Weekly Man will be on this page.

“So,” you say. “Isn’t that like Mac’s home page, you bastard?”

To which I reply, “Well, sort of. But I’m not selling horse shoes. When I create a link, it should go to a page where people can find out what The Weekly Man is all about. It’s an orientation page with the information presented so that anyone can go there, see whether or not it’s for them, and either click the link that takes them to what they want or leave the page after deciding that they’re not quite ready for this weirdness.

The page will be live tomorrow (Friday, August 23). If you’re one of the two people who read my blog, I promise you…it won’t be confusing.

 

 

The Weekly Man: Angst and the Daily Deadline

and now

A few years ago, I did something I swore I’d never EVER do again. It seemed like a good idea at the time…”at the time” being the days leading up to it and a few days into it. After a week or so, I was beginning to wonder what the hell I was doing and why I was doing this to myself.

The Idea was simple: Every day for the entire month of October (2014) I would take a picture and post the picture on my blog along with a story about the image or a piece of writing inspired by the image.  (Day 1)

It seemed like a great idea. I’m a photographer and a writer. This would be a marriage between my two favorite endeavors. It would be fun and it would hone my camera and writing skills. I could hardly wait for October 1.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve never regretted that month. I learned a lot and, at times, I actually did have fun. But when you have to do it every single day for 31 you crash into this thing called LIFE. It’s that big package into which you have to squeeze all the stuff you want to do, forcing you to make choices and sacrifices. I should mention that I worked a full time job, taught writing workshops (and was working on a novel) and had a few other things eating up my “blog project” time.

The idea was to post before midnight each day and towards the end, there were days when I clicked the Publish button at exactly midnight, after taking the picture (which might have meant driving for miles out of town after work), processing the picture, writing the story and putting it all into my blog along with formatting and any links that might be needed.

It was a lot of work. And it was for an entire month…a 31 day month. There were nights I lay awake in bed after a crazy effort to make the midnight deadline, wondering if I’d be able to keep up the pace. You get a serious sense of the shortness and implacable nature of time when you get into a race with it. It’s unforgiving, merciless and its smiles are cruel. After making each deadline I swore I’d never do anything like this again.

That was five years ago.

On September 8 of this year, I’m going to torture myself again…this time for 76 days. And as September draws closer, some of that angst I felt five years ago is beginning to eat away at my stomach lining and sink maliciously into my brain. Butterflies are copulating and populating my chest. The future looks busy.

Enter The Weekly Man, a novel I started years ago. I tried shopping it around to agents but no one would touch it because they thought it was a little too far out there to have any kind of mainstream readership or even a large enough audience within the confines of those who would read anything as long as it involved words arranged in sentences. Even my publishing background of five novels and reams of short stories couldn’t pry this one out of the mud.

I’m shopping another novel now and I’m about 50 pages into my next one. But what about The Weekly Man? I can’t just let it sit on my computer forever. I spent over a year researching it, and there was all the time writing and re-writing. It was a lot of work, a lot of time. And honestly, of all the things I’ve written, it’s my favorite.

It’s going to be published.

The idea came to me when I was reading about how novels used to be sold chapter-by-chapter in the days of Dickens: the serialized novel. I was on my coffee break at the time and that crystalized the concept into a single idea: the serialized coffee break novel…just enough reading each day to fit into the standard coffee break. I completely ignored the pain and suffering from five years earlier and started full swing into breaking the novel into coffee break-sized portions. I mean, it seemed pretty much straight forward…just publish each portion each day on a blog. No probelmo.

Overlooked one important tidbit of life information I obviously hadn’t learned: Nothing is ever easy. Nothing.

I went for a fee-based blog to eliminate ads distracting from the story. Setting it up was no problem. I thought, Wow. This, unlike life, is easy.

Until I published it and saw it on my iPhone and realized that my blog wasn’t phone friendly. But I’d already paid for the blog and put a fair amount of effort into it, so I set up a page for it on my personal website for people who read on their phones.

Blog (for those who read on computers)
Website (for those who read on phones)

Two versions. But what the hell, I’ll just publish the same thing twice each day. I can handle that. But then I started experimenting and realized that it was going to be a little more handling than I thought. Things like bring stuck with one font for one version and not being able to indent for the other. But that’s as much as I’ll mention the painful process of dealing with technology.

Promotion turned out to be more than I thought. I’ll summarize: blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, dedicated Facebook page, Reddit, Goodreads, Pinterest, MySpace, et al. Plus, promotional things like PDF giveaways and media releases. Like life, marketing is never easy.

But I can handle all that. I’ve done it before. It takes time and patience, neither of which I have much of, but I’m stubborn. However, the memories are coming back: making that midnight deadline in good health or bad, leaving the party early because I have a deadline to make, aware every day that there’s something important I have to do at the end of the day and nothing in the world can make that deadline go away.

I’ll keep both of you (my two esteemed readers) posted on the pain, the misery, the joy and the insanity as it unfolds for 76 days starting September 8 and…holy shit…that’s less than 40 days away.

What am I getting into?

Again.