Thursday, July 30, 2015

Current Project Update #1: Status Report

So for anyone reading this and wondering how the current project is going, here's a status report and some details about what I'm working on right now.

The current project falls into what could be classified as a "hardcore" horror novel. If you're not sure what that label actually means, read Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Bryan Smith, Kristopher Rufty, and other authors in that vein. Basically, take a normal horror novel, amp up the blood and sex to about 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, and that's a hardcore horror novel. I'm using the quotes when I describe it because, realistically, this is probably a little tamer than the stuff they've written, so I don't feel entirely comfortable lumping it into that category just yet. I'll let my beta readers decide once I finish it and it gets out into the wild.

I'm not giving away much information in the way of the actual meat of the story, because it is still a work in progress. I don't want to jinx myself.

Here's what I will tell you. It's based on an old legend I heard in high school about a guy who went nuts and killed his family by skinning them alive while they were hanging from barbed wire. The story went that the guy, Crazy Freddy, still haunted the place he lived, looking for fresh victims. That's pretty much where the similarities end. I took that legend and ran with it to the point it's not quite the same as what I heard so long ago. I envisioned this as a slasher film in novel form, and so far that's what it feels like.

Seven friends decide to party at Crazy Freddy's place on the night they all graduate high school. What they don't know is that someone is not happy with their being there, and after an accident causes the place to burn down, that person wants revenge.

The working title right now is Graduation Summer. Don't get too attached; that still might change.

I'm still working on the first draft, and am in the process of wrapping up the second act of the story. That puts me roughly two thirds of the way through it. I'm at the point now where I know who's going to live and who's going to die, but these characters are behaving in ways I never anticipated, so even that might change. I won't force it if it's not meant to be.

So. If you're one of the people I have asked to beta read this, you probably will have it in your hands by the end of next month. If you're just waiting to get it when it comes out, I'm hoping for early next year. I do have a publisher in mind to submit this to, so if I win the lottery and they accept it, I'm at their mercy for release dates. If I do it myself and self-publish it on CreateSpace and Kindle (which WILL happen if the publisher doesn't accept it), my target may be closer to the end of this year. I will need to commission cover art and get it edited to the point I can accept it being out there forever for anyone to read.

Keep watching this site for more updates and news about the submission process. As soon as I know a release date, I'll post it here.

Fingers crossed, and I hope you enjoy it when it finally does see the light of day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MCU vs DCCU: Why Marvel Has the Upper Hand

I was skimming the internet today and came across an article discussing TV characters who were killed off after the actor that played them left the show. In the comments (always a bastion of amusement), someone mentioned Deadshot being killed off on Arrow because of the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. I hadn't heard that one before, but it got me thinking again about DC trying to match Marvel's success with a cinematic universe that interconnects its properties and allows for big team ups like The Avengers and the Justice League.

And I felt sad again because DC will lose this battle.

My apologies in advance; this is gonna be a long one.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not a Marvel fanboy. I enjoy titles from both companies equally. My two favorite superheroes were Spider-Man (pre-One More Day, but that's a rant for a different time) and Batman (pre-New 52). Most of the Marvel movies have been awesome, and Christopher Nolan did what no one thought he could when he made Batman a viable property again after the nineties killed him. But DC is missing a huge component in this war, and that's going to cost them.

What most people forget is that when Iron Man came out, the interconnected universe was a pipe dream. Marvel had discussed it in public with a "it would be cool if we could do this" mentality, but the post-credit sequence mentioning the Avengers Initiative was fan service. When the movie did well at the box office, they realized it could become a reality.

Then, they slow-played it. Iron Man and Incredible Hulk in 2008. Iron Man 2 in 2010. Thor and Captain America in 2011. Then, finally, The Avengers in 2012. Four years and five movies before we got the massive team up that sent us all into nerdgasms. They set up the individual characters to stand on their own before throwing them into a situation where it took all of them to prevail. Classic comic book storytelling.

Warner Brothers and DC are missing that point and seem to want to cash in on the formula's success without following the formula. Man of Steel fits the Iron Man slot in the list (makes you wonder if the title itself was a throw to Marvel, and yes I know Superman was called the Man of Steel long before Iron Man showed up in Tales to Astonish, I'm just making an amusing correlation here). Next up is Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice (sorry Zach Snyder, you're not fooling anyone. We know it really means Superman versus Batman. We're geeks, remember?), which seems to be acting as a mash-up of Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor. Then we get Suicide Squad, which correlates to nothing on the Marvel side since it focuses on the villains. Yeah, we'll get Batman, but this seems more like a one-shot than a proper set up for an eventual Justice League movie, which comes next. THEN we get the individual member films, after they've been introduced in a two part movie where it's unlikely they will be developed enough to make anyone care about the solo films.

Money's been forked over and the plans are laid, so it's too late to change it now, but this could have happened so much better. They already had the groundwork out there to build from, but they elected not to: TELEVISION.

It would be stupid not to keep Superman and Batman as movie properties. They stand to make too much money to stick them on the small screen, but that's okay. There's your tent poles. Do a Wonder Woman feature film, and DO IT RIGHT, and you have DC's Trinity ready to recruit the League. Those three reformed the League after the fallout from Identity Crisis, and countless other times before and after that. It fits, and it feels natural.

Of course, the best part of the Justice League is that it's not just those three. There's some diversity there, but it involves characters that are not as well-known to the general public. Keep in mind, you're not making these movies to attract comic fans; they're going to show up anyway. You want the average guy who never read comics to come see one and want to keep coming back.

So who do you put? Let's go with seven members, since that's the number of power and luck. The easiest to introduce would be Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and The Flash. Why are they the easiest? BECAUSE YOU ALREADY INTRODUCED THEM! Arrow and the Flash are both among the top shows on CW. Anyone who's finished Arrow season three knows the setup is already there to introduce Hal Jordan / Green Lantern. Tell their stories on television so the average person already knows who they are and is invested in them. You've just added to your ticket totals if you then stick them on the big screen as part of the Justice League. Then, since that's coming out while the shows are on summer hiatus anyway, integrate the fallout of events from the movie into the next seasons. Make it count in both places.The sequel ends up writing itself.

Of course, that seventh member is the tricky one. DC is going with Aquaman, but they have a long way to go to make it work. Most fans seem to be willing to give it a shot, at least, but the character became such a joke for so long, it's going to take some selling to make him viable again. My personal choice would be to do the one and only J'onn J'onzz - The Martian Manhunter. How would that work? Easy enough.

Could you imagine a well done Arrow / Flash spin-off for Green Lantern? Not only would CW have a chance at a successful sci-fi show, you could introduce Martian Manhunter as a recurring character. Two birds, one stone.

And now you have something to play with. Cavill, Affleck, and Gadot stay Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman respectively.  You put Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, and whoever you cast as Hal Jordan on screen with them in Justice League. I would almost cut an arm off to see that movie.

Like I said before; it's too late for it to happen now. But could you imagine it?

And that's why Marvel's got the upper hand here. If I can imagine it, and you can imagine it, the millions of people who are fans of the shows can as well. But they're not getting what they've been exposed to. They're getting something much much different. For comic fans, we're used to that. DC seems to have a Crisis event every other Wednesday, and Marvel "Shakes Things Up for the Entire Universe" with their own crossover every other Thursday. It's just par for the course for us. But for television fans? The ones you could lure with minimal effort to your multi-million dollar investment to recoup some of that cash? They're not big on change like that. Try it on TV and watch the advertising dollars start drying up.

Oh, and as for the Suicide Squad? Maybe I had it wrong. After all, Deadshot says they're "off to save the world!"

I think I just broke my eyes from rolling them so hard, so I'll hop off the soapbox. Am I nuts? Does this actually make less sense than what DC / Warner Brothers are doing? Sound off in the comments and let me know!

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Finally Understand

So anyone who has looked into self-publishing knows that if you want to do it right, there's some costs involved. Actually, there's a lot of them. It can add up.

What, you ask? I thought places like CreateSpace were free?

That's not the costs I mean. Here's the rundown:

Cover Art: $150 - $1000 depending on the artist you use. I did actually see someone offering a full package (print and electronic covers + promotional images) for $2500. I have never clicked the "Back" button so fast.

Editing: Average for copy and content editing is around $0.03 per word. If you have a novel of average length (75,000 - 80,000 words), that's a couple grand right there. Those packages for $200 - $500 they advertise online? Yeah, read the fine print. That's only for about 5,000 words or so.

And the one that got me:

Formatting, generally around $75 - $100 for eBooks, $199 and up for print formatting.

Now some of this you shouldn't really scrimp on. A good looking cover can make or break your book, so I'm okay with spending some money there. Editing is also a must, but I am so meticulous about rereading the drafts I finish and have enough friends who read a lot that are willing to give input that I can generally cut that to a bare minimum. Formatting was the one that I couldn't understand. Why would someone willing fork out that much money for something they could do so easily?

So I downloaded the templates from CreateSpace for interior formatting design and decided to try practicing by applying it to some older works I'm not looking at publishing right now. After a day and a half of playing with it, I can honestly say I finally get it.

I have never experienced such a miserable exercise in tediousness in all my life. I figured it would be as easy as "Select All, copy, paste, done." Yeah, not so much. You go chapter by chapter with the copy and paste. Then you have to make sure you selected the option to paste that stripped out all existing formatting. Then you have to check over each pasted chapter to correct things like titles that need to be italicized, stylistic alignments that did not transfer properly (if it was center-aligned in the original document, it ends up in some weird alignment in the template that isn't paragraph indented, nor is it justified with the rest of the document), and proper segment breaks within the chapter (in drafts, I use three asterisks  (***) to denote this, but it looks bad in formatting, so I use two paragraph breaks). And even then it may or may not look like you want it to.

So I get it now. The people who do this are well within their rights to charge a couple hundred bucks for it, and if I had the money I would happily pay it. Of course, I don't, so I get to play around with it until I get it right. I know I'll master it eventually, with enough practice.

And if you want me to do it for you sometime, don't be surprised when I hand you a bill.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Let's Try This Again...

This is not the first time I've tried this. I've had a website, which I updated regularly for a while, then slacked off a bit, then stopped altogether. The domain even got a "parking" page in place of what was there. That's how little I did with it.

Then I tried switching it to a blog-based system. Same results.

Facebook blogs: same results.

Seeing a pattern here?

I'm going to try this one more time. Since I am now working on a project with an end result of publication, whether through a publisher or done myself on Kindle and CreateSpace, I figure it's time to get back into the whole web presence thing. After all, I can't sell anything if I don't publicize it, right? And let's face facts. While I don't expect to hit any bestseller lists or even be able to quit my day job any time soon, if I'm going to publish something, I am trying to make a little money off of it. Even if it just covers the expenses for the next project, I'll be happy.

Don't get me wrong. I write because it's what I enjoy. I love telling stories, and you kind of need an audience for that. If I didn't want to make money, I'd just post everything online for free, or print off copies as people asked for them with no regard for formatting or cover art or any of that. You never know till you try, right?

So what's going to be on this blog? Occasionally I expect to put some random thoughts here. I'll also keep anyone reading updating on the progress of whatever it is I'm writing at the time, or the process of getting it published if it's complete. Once it's available, I'll be advertising it to sell on here, with links to where it can be bought as an eBook or ordered as a print copy, if it has one.

Will I be faithful enough to update this on anything resembling a regular basis? No idea. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.