Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Do Believe in Fairies

Who wouldn't want to fly and live forever?

In 2003 one of the many versions of Peter Pan came out. This is the one with Jason Isaacs (a.k.a. Lucius Malfoy) playing George Darling and Captain Hook. It's a good flick and I recommend it. A few months ago we came across this movie on Netflix and now my 3 year old daughter is hooked . . . no pun intended.
She wants to watch it every day. Sometimes she watches it several times a day. She has asked me to call Peter and invite him over to our house and even claims she is going to marry him.

My e-book sales haven't been what I want them to be. I've had some decent success with KDP Select as far as free downloads go, but nothing to brag about. But my paid sales haven't taken off like other authors. Now if I was traditionally published, my lackluster sales would put me at odds to get another contract, my book would eventually disappear from shelves and I'd most likely have to start writing under a pen name.

The Peter Pan movie is pushing a decade in age, yet even after all that time it still gained a fan in my daughter. We are going to be buying the DVD soon so that me and my wife can regain the TV. The great thing about e-books is that they are forever. Bad sales today does not hinder the chance of finding a fan base in the future. Joe Konrath often talks of how some of his older novels cycle around and become the best sellers.

This is the hope I hold on to. This is what keeps me writing. And if you believe hard enough even that which is dead can live again.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Year of Technology

I've always been behind the curve on technology.  When the original Nintendo came out, and my friends were all playing this new game called Super Mario Bros., I was racing Pole Position on my Atari 2600, on a black-and-white TV none the less.  By the time I got a Nintendo I believe the Super Nintendo was already growing old.  I didn't have a TV in my bedroom or access to a computer until I got married.

It's not that I have a problem with technology.  Video games remain one of the greatest threats to my writing.  I'm just somehow always slow to get on the bandwagon.  For Christmas I got my very own Kindle Touch and recently I traded in my Motorola Razr (that I had been carrying for almost 5 years) for an iPhone.

My point?  I don't know, does there have to be one?  Oh, okay.

Technology is awesome.

The late Steve Jobs truly was the Thomas Edison of our time.  His inventions revolutionized they way we live and interact.  I grew up with a rotary land-line phone.  We didn't have cable.  I remember when we got our first VCR (it was the size of a boombox and had a remote tethered to it by a 10 foot cord) and I can recall a time before microwaves.  And now we have a pocket sized portable computers that give us instant access to just about anything we want and connects us to people all around the globe.  It's so ingrained in our lives that most people can't function without it (I mean smart phones in general, not just iPhones).  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but it sure is a fun toy.

I fought the idea of e-books with all of my writerly dignity until a saucy, out-spoken scribbler named Joe Konrath converted me.  Self publishing has given me a whole new look on writing and I love reading on my Kindle.  I'm right in the middle of The Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings, but it's the dead tree, hardback version.  Every time I lug that turtle-cracker around I lament that it's not on my sweet little Kindle.  I'm not saying that I'm giving up paper books completely, but I can't see myself spending $20 - $30 for a hardback anytime soon.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


In high school my economics teacher taught me about TINSTAAFL (There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) and the concept has been with me ever since.  Simply put, everything in life costs someone something.  This concept does not just apply to economics, but to every aspect of life itself.  Consider Newton's Third Law of Motion.

What does this have to do with writing?  Conflict.

Every story should have conflict.  Without conflict there is no story.  If no price is paid then there is no conflict.  It's as simple as that.

No matter what our days are like, whether adventurous or boring, we pay a price for every action we make.  The price may be time, or money, or pride and sometimes even our very lives.  But everyone pays.

It is well known around my house that I do not like the Twilight series.  Now before I get into my rant, please know, I do not think that people that love Twilight are stupid or anything like that.  My wife is actually a huge fan of Twilight (both the books and movies).  I'm just going to explain what I have against it.  I have an old saying.  Opinions are like butts.  Everyone has one, and most of the time they stink.  Crass, I know.

Spoiler Alert.  If you haven't read the Twilight Series and don't want to know how it ends, stop reading here.

Okay, one of the first things I don't like about Twilight is Bella herself.  She is a very annoying character; awkward and self-conscious.  Now, I know that we are all that way sometimes, but she takes it to a point that distracts from the story.  She is beautiful and popular, yet her self-esteem is so low that she sees herself as ugly and boring.  Beautiful people often feel this way, but Bella pontificates about it so much that I couldn't stand to read about her.  Have you ever been around a very skinny person who complains about how fat they are?  Annoying, right?  Now place that same person in the midst of people who actually have a weight problem.  All of a sudden their self critiquing becomes insulting.

The main issue I have though is that Bella's little adventure costs nothing . . . at all.  For four long books she whines and complains, sometimes like a petulant child, about wanting to become a vampire.  So, how does the series end?  With Bella getting everything she wants.  That's not a bad thing, but it should cost you something.

Does Edward die?  No.  Jacob?  No.  Her parents?  Her friends?  Any of the Cullens?  Does she die?  No, no, no and no.  Instead, after four books of tantrums, Bella marries Edward, gets pregnant, becomes a vampire, and even has the baby with very little pain to her or those she loves.  There is no war between the Wolf Pack and the Cullens.  And no big showdown between the forces of good and evil (a.k.a. the Volturi).  It ends with a very anti-climatic live-and-let-live compromise.  Sure a few vampires are ripped apart, but so what?  No big loss.

An adventure should cost something.  Vampire Bella doesn't even crave human blood.

I know these are just stories.  Vampires and werewolves don't exist (that I know of), and it's all in good fun.  But every story has an underlying message.  A moral, if you will.  What is the moral of Twilight?  Complain long enough and you'll get everything your little narcissistic heart desires.

Now compare Twilight to Harry Potter.  Harry is a victim of circumstances beyond his control.  Bella pushes her way into trouble like a spoiled child.  Harry, though he loves being a wizard, would have been happy just to get away from his abusive family.  Bella feels entitled to immortality.  Many people die to protect Harry and bring him to his goal of defeating Voldemort.  Harry is humbled by this to the point that he willingly sacrifices himself to save the others.  Bella gets everything her little bratty heart desires, and it cost her nothing.

In my humble opinion, the story would have been much better had Bella died in childbirth, or Edward by the hands of the Volturi, and the baby comes along to set matters right.  But what do I know?  Stephanie Meyer is a billionaire, traditionally published author and I'm just a blue collar shlub who earns less than a pittance on my self published stories.  And I'm sure there are many who will claim that something so bad would never have captured the attention of so many.  You might want to read this.

I will admit to a bit of jealousy, but that still doesn't sway my opinion.  It's just not a good story.  But don't take my word for it.  Many wiser heads have made their own observations.

Before you strike out to write me some hate mail please remember:

I don't HATE Twilight.  I only dislike it.
If you do like/love it, that doesn't mean I question your intelligence or sanity.
It doesn't mean I think Ms. Meyer doesn't deserve every penny she's earned.
And last, but not least, it's only my opinion, and much like my butt, it sometimes stinks.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Simply Thankful Saturday

I've been lacking on subjects for blog posts of late.  I'm trying my best not to constantly blog about my own writing, as that is narcissistic and boring.  But, I don't really have all that much else to talk about.  I'm not an expert in the technical side of writing.  I'm not at a place where I would call myself a successful indie writer, so I feel a bit uncomfortable about giving out writing advice.  And I don't live a very exciting life.  I go to work, come home, play with my kids and in between I write as much as I can.

I wish I had more to offer you.  Really, I do.

So, for lack of a better subject, I'm going to steal a post idea from my wife's new blog.

It's time for Simply Thankful Saturday.  Here is a random list of things I'm thankful for.

1. My wife.  Times have been tough, financially speaking, the last couple of years.  But through the struggle we've been given a glimpse of the truly important things in life.  She's a great support for my writing, even though right now it's more of an expensive hobby than a lucrative job.

2. My kids.  They are a crazy couple of gremlins.  They wreck up the house.  They leave no clean space unsoiled.  I haven't had a good days rest since they came along.  But when they smile and hug my neck, it's worth every minute.

3. My Kindle.  I love my paper books, don't get me wrong, but e-readers have made reading so much more convenient.  I can carry my library with me.  No more bulky hardbacks.  Plus, the technology has given many great writers a chance to get their work out to the world.

4. The warm weather.  Indiana has been having a warm winter this year.  Many are upset about this.  They want the cold.  They want the snow.  Not me.  I wouldn't mind snow if I could just hunker down for the winter and hibernate, but alas, I must go to work.  Part of my job requires that I do snow removal.  No snow makes me a happy worker.

5. My writing friends.  I have made a lot of new writing comrades over the past couple of years, and each has taught me something new.  They have been there to help me promote my work, or be a beta reader, or even design a cover for me in a pinch.  Their blogs are a treasure trove of information.  My hope is that I can be the same for them.

It's easy to get bogged down in the dismal side of writing.  Don't forget what Yoda said. "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."  Remembering what you're thankful for is a great way to fight the fear.