Weeks of the Phoenix: Creating The Assembly

How boring of a name for something with so much grandeur! That was an intentional design – the Assembly is a social experiment where people can shed their every day selves and let the brilliant flames inside be seen on the outside. Boring exterior with an interesting subtext. The name and the function are perfect for each other.

While I was conceptualizing “Days of the Phoenix,” the most broad version of the concept was “social experiment,” and “being who you are without aesthetics getting in the way.” It didn’t have to be an assembly, it could have been anything: a bunch of introverts getting together to play smash mouth basketball, drag rang in a big store parking lot, an MMORPG, or an actual experiment where people’s brain chemicals were being altered. A few simple criteria had to be met: it had to be where people, who wouldn’t associate with each other otherwise, were grouped together; the second criteria had to be a platform where people could reveal their truest selves.

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Weeks of the Phoenix: Creating Simon Bellinger

For the entire month of April, we are going to be leading up to the release of “Days of the Phoenix” (available May 7th, EXCLUSIVELY on Amazon.Com) with information about the book and why you should be as excited as I am to read it!

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the premise of the novel: a man spends a summer with a man that he’s only ever met on the internet to participate in a social experiment, hoping to find the most authentic sense of himself possible. The internal struggle and the conflict of the main character is all the fun in reading the book, so I’m not going to spoil that for you. I do, however, want to share one of the most important premise aspects with you: the internet friend.

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Writer’s Tool Box: Reference Materials

I know what you are thinking, and you are correct: no one asked. That doesn’t make the information any less crucial, however. As a writer, I depend on reference materials just like any other professional would — mechanics rely on repair manuals, doctors and surgeons refer to anatomy text, and carpenters rely on blue prints to build houses. Also like those professionals, I have a preference to what reference materials that I keep with me. For this week’s blog, I wanted to share my favorite reference sources for your enjoyment!

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Loving Books in the 1990’s

Truth be told: I am only a little bitter about the advancements in technology; only slightly. I can’t tell you how often I see kids rockin’ and rollin’ on smartphones and tablets to entertain themselves — I’m not drinking Haterade either; if I had the ability at that age, you best believe I’d be discovering the world (or using Google maps to look at my house — I was that kind of kid) with the best of them. For fleeting moments, my amazement at how the world evolves degenerates to venomous envy and bile-boiling rage. Do you know what it was like to love books when I was a kid? It was archaic hell. We had to go to stores, we had to wait in lines, and the only leg up we had on the cavemen was the printing press.

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So, What’s With the Logo?

By now you’ve seen the logo — if not, there it is. It’s a simple piece; circular in design and simple in fashion. The leaves were meant to give it a more regal appearance, and then there is the ornament in the middle. I’ve been doodling the “Circle A” on everything since I was about seventeen years old. Admittedly, there was a time when I would do it as a visual accessory, just to be seen doing it. As I’ve grown older, there are a lot more reasons behind it that have sentimental meaning.

I decided on the logo as a part of my branding effort. I am educated in business, so I can appreciate how important something recognizable at a difference is — it’s kind of like how we can be twenty feet away from the television and recognize the Simpsons. I wanted to create that for the A.P. Miller brand. As a writer, brand is important, and don’t let anyone tell you different. There is a reason why Stephen King and Tom Clancy had novels debut at number one, because their brand of fiction had been strong performers in the past and a reader could safely speculate that a brand new novel would have the same quality of entertainment.

The design of the logo went through a couple different drafts. I wanted something that looked like the Ramones’ Presidential Logo, without being a complete rip off. My first logo had an eagle on it, as a call back to my Germanic heritage — there is the second rule of the writing business: if you want your work to be accepted by the masses, then you have to prepare yourself for public scrutiny. My olive-leaf-German-eagle looked VERY fascist …if you do the math, you might get an idea of which Germanic political party may have used something similar …right around World War II …and it was pretty evil. Anyways, that logo had to go. In scrambling for the better look, I put in the Circle A.

People in the town I grew up in confused the Circle A as a pentagram, some symbol on a Ouija Board, and just about everything in between. The Circle A is used by a lot as a symbol for Anarchy, which I educated myself on a lot. A lot of folks confuse “anarchy” for “mayhem.” I wasn’t advocating for riots and mass killings, I was trying to make a statement that I felt I was better off under my own supervision. As an adult, I see the fast and immediate benefits of government — namely in the form of infrastructure and defense — but before you can be old and wise you have to be young and stupid.

So why would I include the Circle A on my logo now? Because it is an homage to my punk rock roots. There are a lot of important adult ethics to be learned in punk rock — one of my favorites is the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) mindset. For that reason, chief among others, I wanted to include the Circle A. It was the punk rock / DIY mindset that has driven me to do a lot of things: I wanted to be a sports journalist, so I started my own news outlet. I started a YouTube Channel, I started a podcast — I did those things because the opportunity didn’t currently exist, so I made it for myself.

That’s how I started writing. I didn’t wait for someone to give me a shot, I didn’t wait until the time was right, I just started doing it. There may be more inherent challenges coming my way because of my approach, but that is fine, because I chose the way I wanted to proceed. Each time I put my logo on something, I can remember the path that I had made for myself, and that’s important.

I wanted you all to know that story, so the next time you see my logo, you don’t see something that could be construed as sinister, but something that is rooted in a very important ethic.

On a completely unrelated note: “Days of the Phoenix” my sophomore novel comes out on May 7th and can be purchased EXCLUSIVELY through Amazon.Com! This novel has been well received by the pre-readers and I can’t imagine they would let you down — be sure to grab your copy on May 7th!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on your next trip across the Millerverse.