Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Avatar

I know it's a few years since Avatar was released, but I couldn't resist :)

So I was watching Southpark a few weeks back and this episode came on. It basically revolves around Cartman doing the morning announcements and having a personal vendetta against Wendy, who is the student body president. In his desire to put her in disrepute, his personal smears quickly escalate to the point where he accuses her of killing Smurfs in her desire to harvest the valuable smurfberries. This culminates in him creating 'actual video footage' of her killing them after he has been accepted as one of the Smurfs into their society.

You must be wondering what this has to do with James Cameron's Avatar. All I have to say is: Dances with Smurfs.

Yes. So the film that originally began life as Pocahontas, then became Dances with Wolves, then became Avatar (and possibly The Last Samurai). None of these are particularly good stories and none of them were particularly interesting to watch. And Avatar doesn't do anything to change my opinion of this 'enduring' theme.

Just like all its predecessors, it starts off with an outsider attempting to assimilate with the locals. In this case giant blue aliens that take on a distinctly African/Native-American flavour to their cultural heritage.  Of course these aliens are acted out by African/Native-American folk because a white person would just not be able to convey the 'alienness' of this alien culture. Cue the racism card, BUT, it is just a yellow card for subversive association. Nicely played Mr Cameron.

Anyway, American guy (common theme) gets accepted as one of the tribe and then turns against the people that gave him his original mission (to infiltrate and gain the alien's trust). *snore*

Oh, and it was also in THREE-DEE. Amazing graphics for a boring film. I still liked parts of it but I couldn't get over the story, as a lot of us couldn't (Trey Parker / Matt Stone). I think the best thing to come out of this film was the Southpark episode. Oh, and having his ex-wife win a slurry of Oscars (including best director) for her film The Hurt Locker. Burn!

Personally, I think it's just desserts for the director that made the teeth-grinding Titanic. Who's the king now?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Censorship at its best

I read a harrowing article today which I believe could well be the precursor to the 'censorship' of every indie title on the internet.

The essence of this new legislation is that PayPal no longer allows payment to any erotic books about bestiality or incest. Considering my novel, and future novels, are not about tread into those topics, shouldn't allow me to let out a sigh of relief. The repercussions could be quite insidious because if they can censor one style of novel, why not mine? Why not any novel that isn't vetoed under a 'well-defined content policy' (or publishing house)? Insidious, indeed.

PayPal was apparently motivated by 'financial institutions' to enact on this policy. Well played 'financial institutions', well played. I guess I was naive enough to believe that the publishing houses would go the same way as the music industry when it came to a lack of foresight in predicting that their medium would go digital.

I think in the world of digital books I see little reason to involve a publisher. What exactly do they bring to the table? Distribution channels? I think I've got that covered. Marketing? Pshhh! Unless you're a New York Times Bestseller you're not going to get more than a token effort to market your novel. And that I can do ... and am improving day by day. I guess the only way that they can compete is by playing dirty.

I guess all is fair in war and business, but at least war has ethics. This war isn't over yet - blog and post - make sure this is not swept under the rug.

Indies Unite!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Until Next Time

As with all things, you need to start somewhere. This is my first review and it is called 'Until Next Time: The Angel Chronicles' written by Amy Lignor and is the first in a chronicle of novels.

In a Nutshell:
The book is Young Adult Fiction, female audience-centric romance novel.

My twitter summary (140 characters or less) is:
"Angelic Twilight Assassins' Creed meets Irish Jane Austen"

The story follows a young angel named Emily that either assists the humans that are assigned to her .. or smites evil-doers with the the help of her warrior angel counterpart named Matt that has BLUE eyes, as the author likes to drum into the reader (cerulean/blue/amethyst/azure/cobalt). Matt and Emily were created to be soul mates, as every warrior/angel combination requires the two souls to work in harmony. This in turn means that they are meant for each other and feel an ingrained connection. It is not clearly stated, but apparently they are also able to travel through time, which should be obvious considering the reference to things like candy and baseball.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Angels in the outfield

So, in my plight to educate the world of my novel's existence, I have requested a lot of reviews from various sites and have also received my first request to review a novel. I was chuffed! Someone trusted me enough to be willing to know my opinion of their work. I couldn't say no, despite not actually knowing much about the book or genre in question. Maybe it was ego, maybe it was my belief in karma that made me say yes instinctually.

And so, I am reading a book about Angels that are sent down into the past to inhabit a group if Irish settlers in the 1800's, or as I have described it in my Twitter summary: "Angelic Twilight Assassins' Creed meets Irish Jane Austen". And it is a romance novel.

This is not my genre of choice, I think you should realise (I'm not a teenage girl the last time I checked), so I had to think of a way that I could be true to the book while still being true to myself.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Internet: meet my novel

It is so easy to get your novel into the hungry hands of blog reviewers. They are always so receptive to the rabid requests of the random indie / self-published / e-book-only authors that want their next 'masterpiece' reviewed.

The review request process works more like an interview or marketing or even an application to a publisher. These blog sites are professional, much to my dismay. I am also competing against 'legitimate' novels for the reviewers' time, which makes the problem of getting my novel into their hands a little harder. Although, I think if I ran a book review blog I would do the same. If I could read the next JK Rowling or the next Joe Blow, I know which one I would choose.

It seems obvious now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Warning: this site is addictive

I think if this website had existed when I first started reading I would still be in my room reading untold volumes of authors and novels that I would not have discovered through normal means. There should be a warning on the registration page that your life will be changed forever.

In case you're wondering what this website is called, it's Goodreads. It is literary crack.

It integrates with all the big book stores, allows avid readers to recommend books to each other, it allows you to rate books and even interact with your favourite author. It determines which books might be up your alley from the books that you have read - tres bien. It is also a wonderful tool for telling other like-minded readers about your novel. I describe it as a literary social network.

Let me delve a little deeper and I'll post a summary of my discoveries. There will be more to follow ...

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to market your ebook

So, you have just released your book into the ether. Now what? Do you just wait until someone serendipitously discovers your masterpiece and hope for the best? In the immortal words of Al Borland:

I certainly don't follow the mantra of if you build it, they will come. Having released a book is nice, having people know about it is better.

That is why I
  • Blog, although I do enjoy blogging. There is a certain 'power' that comes from thinking that someone, somewhere might get some enjoyment or assistance from what I post.
  • Network my book through various sites such as:
  • Offer my book to popular blog review sites
  • Read other blogs / websites to glean insights from what they have learned
This link is amazing: 21 tactics to increase blog traffic - he definitely has his techniques down to a fine art.
This link is amazing: Goodreads: how do books get discovered? - it gives an insight on where prospective readers come from - it's a must read for anyone that is just starting out.

This is round one - where I will be at round ten is anyone's guess. The one thing I do know is that I will come out of my corner with all guns firing. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Zed is alive!

I thought writing was simple - I breezed easily through writing a novel-length story - why do they make it out to be difficult? No writer's blocks, no writing into corners, no 'what do I do now' moments. Writing is a doddle, or so I thought.

Well, the devil is in the details. Writing is easy, editing your novel is hard. I think I spent about as much time editing it as I did writing it. It was harrowing, although it could simply be a reflection of my infancy within the literary world. I learned far more about the rules of grammar, punctuation and 'writing stuff good' than I did from 12 years of schooling. Is it an indictment of the education system that I was subjected to? I should damn well  hope so, but I digress.

Oh, and by the way, I released my first novel today!

    Zed is not your typical zombie. He is cursed with the affliction of thought ... although he tries to make the best of a bad situation. The goals for his unrest are simple: to improve his stride, to taste a lightly-seared pork loin once again and avoid Activists at all costs. 
    His life was predictable, controlled and good until chaos crashed the party. In just one day, his world is destroyed and his ability to survive is tested. Would he be able to get through this in one piece? And would he somehow be able to survive the unstoppable force that goes by the name of Chase?
Here's the link to smashwords - you can read the first two chapters for free and it's only $2.99 to own a DRM-free copy of my novel in most e-book formats. NiceHere's the link to Amazon - I'm Kindle-official!

I think I'm going to take a few seconds to savour the moment before I plough into my next project. It might not necessarily be zombie-related, but I have a few ideas that should make it a must-read, even if I do say so myself.