Thursday, March 22, 2018

Did Feminism Kill Toys R' Us?

I'd say, you wouldn't believe how many Rose dolls were left on shelves...
...but I'm pretty sure you would.

Did feminism kill Toys R' Us?

Not a question I would have asked myself. until yesterday.

During lunch, I decided to walk inside and pick the bones the fallen franchise. Maybe there'd be something for my youngest.

There wasn't.  Literally half of the stuff on the shelves were toys for Star Wars the Last Jedi.  One quarter were for Cars 3, the one where a girl car is automatically good at everything that Lightening McQueen used to work hard to be good at.  And the rest was just general stuff and a drone that I bought because I didn't want to leave empty handed.

When a business fails there is usually more than one reason for it.  The final event everybody remembers as being the one that shutters the store is usually just the final inheritor of a tontine of fail.

Still I couldn't help wondering.  Was Toys R' Us sunk by a feminist inventory, it could neither move nor remainder?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Indy Sue and Mystery of the Boxoffice Crater

There are times when you can only guess about what our Father's plan for you is and there are other times that you know you are being Led.

As a massive for instance, I had, after duly and thoroughly examining the wreckage of Dark Winter: The Great Divide Game,  decided on my next project.  A series of books (because series fiction is hot right now) reminiscent of the adventures of Indiana Jones.

I'd just begun sketching out this project when I read this:

Steven Spielberg is planning to start shooting the untitled fifth Indiana Jones movie for Disney in the U.K. in a little more than a year.

He made the disclosure Sunday night at the Rakuten TV Empire Awards, where he was on stage to receive a Legend of Our Lifetime award and spoke about his collaborators from the British film industry. The event was held at the Roundhouse in London.


I was doing handstands.

Kathleen Kennedy is producing so you already know this is going to be a hot, stinking, raging feminist dumpster fire of a movie. 

Don't believe me? Then read this:

“Thank you Time’s Up,” he said. “We were very much on board from the very beginning, my wife Kate and I. This is more important than any of us can ever really realize. I think in 10 years we’ll look back and realize what a watershed moment we are all experiencing together, 2017 to 2018. It’s extraordinary what’s happening right now. The fact that women who have had no representation and have not been able to find the support or the courage to step forward, now they will have representation and they will have the support. Time’s Up means it’s time up. This is it. This is the end of the way things were, it will never be that way again hopefully.”

Harrison Ford will be 78 when this wet turd splashes it's way into theaters.  Hey, I admire the way the guy is keeping it together at his age but there is no way in hell he is going to be doing his own stunts.  

Which means somebody else is going to be hired to do the action scenes.  Ten years ago that was supposed to be an heir-apparent named "Mutt" who we were all disappointed to learn was Indiana Jone's son.  But I am willing to bet and more importantly even payup that "Mutt" is going to be swept under the carpet given that Shia LaBeouf's career has cratered.  Also nobody really wants to be reminded of anything that happened in Indiana Jones and the Stupid Alien Skull Thing.  So one or two mentions about Mutt being a professor at some other college far away from Indy and that will be that for him. A CisHetWhiteboi is completely unacceptable to play a "reimagined" hero these days.

You know what they are going to do, don't you?  That's right, it's going to be a kick-ass grrrl hero who always does everything right.  Call her, "Indy Sue."  I can already see Jones gawping in amazement at how much better she is at everything than he is.   Why she's only twenty one but she knows way more about archaeology than he does and look how she uses his whip in expert ways he never even dreamed of just picking it up.  At the end of the movie she will put on the Indy Hat and walk off into the sunset absolutely self assured in her intrinsic superiority leaving old Indy and his audience to gracefully bow out.

Make no mistake, this is a Kathleen Kennedy production so I am one hundred percent positive that this movie is going to shit all over the fans of the series.

And I couldn't be happier.  One of the big reason that Cole and Anspach's Galaxy's Edge series blew the doors off was because is launched right before The Last Jedi piss off  literally half of  Star Wars' fanbase.

I am leaping into the Jackson Strange project with the kind of confidence that only comes from having been given a Sign.

The Adventures of Jackson Stange
Coming to you when I have a more solid date for Indy 5's release on an unsuspecting world

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Beautiful Actresses Hate You

Here I go coming out in favor of letting White South Africans immigrate to the US and then one them opens her stupid gob.

On Saturday, Theron spoke at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai and addressed the topic of guns, which has been making headlines since the multitude of school shootings that have happened since 2018, with the latest in Parkland. Since the strong reaction and continuing backlash against the NRA and the laws surrounding gun control, Donald Trump brought up the idea of arming teacherswhile speaking at CPAC in February. This is an idea that many have been against, including Theron.According to the Associated Press, she said: “I have a very personal experience with gun violence. I lost my father to gun violence.

Quick reminder Charlize, your mother shot your father because he was going to kill both of you.  You. Stupid. Bitch.

She continued, “I just don’t understand when people try to make the conversation, the argument that the fix is more guns. It is so outrageous to me.” She also says that in order to solve the problem we must “listen to our kids.”

No, we shouldn't listen to our kids because they are kids and we... or at least I and my readers are adults.  Children make silly and dangerous decisions.   Or at least rich children do.   The David Hoggs have gotten a lot limelight recently but I am finding comfort in the fact that they don't appear to be the voice of Generation Zardoz.  These walkouts were the ultimate in astroturfing with students facing disciplinary action if they didn't participate.  

Friday, March 16, 2018

Dark Winter...The Postmortem of a Zombie Book

My debut novel, Dark Winter: The Great Divide Game crossed an important milestone yesterday.

It now has a seven figure sales rank on Amazon.  In case you are wondering, no that is not a good thing.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,049,228 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#7510 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
#8066 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic
#10086 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic

By every possible metric this book is a failure.

Time for some painful self analysis.

The question is, what did I do wrong?

The answer is basically everything.

I put my worst foot forward.   I should have spent money on a cover.  No one on Earth follows Ben Franklin's advice, everyone judges a book by it's cover.  Amazon is incredibly visual as a sales medium.  Your cover is your biggest first impression and your most important advertisement and I should have spent money there.  A first rate cover will run you $1,500.  Instead, I used Amazon's cover generator. Bad idea.

Next.  I went super cheap on the editing and had a friend who didn't have enough time to do it, edit my book.  This was mistake two. I should have spent money on a real editor.  A first rate editor will run about $3000.

These two things are important, I knew about them going in and chose not to spend the money.

Now that I have researched my failure, I'm so, so glad I did NOT do those things because today I'd still have a book with a seven figure sales rank and I would also be out nearly $5,000.00.

In case you were wondering about it, I'm glad I didn't bother with Bookbub either.  You need people to read your book and bookbubers just buy the $0.99 book, stick it in their Kindle library with the view of maybe getting around to reading it someday or maybe not, hell it was just a buck. Yeah, Bookbub spikes your rankings...for one day only but you also have to pay to get on that list and pretty much nobody ever makes a profit from it.  You might be number one for one day (yeaaaa! muppet arms!) and the next day you drop off the Bookbub ranking's cliff at fourteen thousand.

There is a reason for that and that reason is called the A9 algorithm and it ignores Bookbub sales.

The A9 is Amazon's search engine and anybody who wants to make it as an Amazon indy had better start researching that thing...just like I didn't.

Thinking of Amazon as an online department store catalog (Cataline seriously dates himself here) is wrong.  Amazon's real business is the A9 algorithm, and selling stuff is in support of that.

The A9 exists for one reason, to make Amazon money.  However, in theory it can make you money as well.  If you approach it right.

Amazon sells everything now but I strongly suspect that the biases within the A9's programming DNA are strongly oriented toward book sales.  Call it a legacy issue.

For those of my readers too young to remember, there was a time that Amazon only sold books.  And it was a brilliant idea when Bezos came up with it.  Before Amazon, if you wanted a specific book, you ran around to all the bookstores in your area hoping to find it on the shelf.  If it wasn't on the shelf, then in despair and dejection you would have to pick a bookstore, trudge inside of it, order the book and then wait four to six weeks for the book to come in... To that store you understand, you had to go back in there to get it.  Having the book arrive on your doorstep in less than a week was nothing short of amazing.

Back to my point, the A9 sells everything but what it is best at selling is books.

So what will Amazon tell you about how to sell using the A9?

Nothing.  Absolutely, nothing.  Amazon won't tell you a damn thing about it.  Rightfully so, I suppose but there are things you can learn by observation.

First and foremost, you have thirty days to make it on Amazon and that is better than any bookstore in America.  For thirty days A9 will make your book a top priority and try to sell the living hell out of it.  If you haven't made it by day thirty one, then it is welcome to the Amazon Abyss.  Today if you type "dark winter" into the search bar you will be wading through six pages of BDSM romance novels before you get to my book.*  But for thirty days it was on top of the skyline, Amazon played fair there, my book just didn't come through for them and here is why it didn't.

Genre is important to the A9.  Genre is a big part of how it knows who to try and sell your book to.

I screwed that up completely.  When I wrote Dark Winter I decided I was going to bend all the genres and create my own crazy, great thing.  I had a far Right action adventure book with both kinds zombie; the Walking Dead undead and the 28 Days bio-rage bot, political intrigue. a major college football game and the start of the second American Civil War, all on the eve of the fall of the world.

The A9 had no idea what the hell to do with this.

I placed Dark Winter in the genres of Zombie, Post Apocalyptic, Military and Science Fiction.  Those elements were there but Dark Winter really wasn't any of those things.  The world hadn't fallen yet, so it wasn't Post Apocalyptic. The people who are into that, want a world where 90 % of the population died over night.  It had Marines but they weren't in starships and that is what Military Science Fiction people want.   As for Zombie lovers, what those guys want is a group of terrified people holed up in a mall while waves of the undead are beating at the doors.  My book didn't have that either.

When all is said and done Dark Winter: The Great Divide Game was about a group of hard military men and their hot medical women up against high and low tech threats.  They get their backs pinned to the wall but push back hard and win through in the end.  This is called a Thriller and it was the one damn box I didn't check.

The last problem the book had may have been it's biggest. Call it Also Bought Incest.

Clicking on Dark Winter this morning and scrolling down to the "Customers who bought this item also bought"section, you would ideally see the top ten authors in Thriller, PA and maybe Medical.  Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain wouldn't be out of place there.  John Ringo's Last Centurion would have been right at home.   But what you will see in my Also Boughts is an incredibly bizarre and apparently random list.  Right Ho Jeeves: A Binge at Binkley the graphic novel by P.G. Wodehouse, The Last Closet by Moira Greyland, The Lawdog Files by D. Lawdog, Young Man's War by Rod Walker, Crisis and Conceit by Vox Day, Brings the Lightening by Peter Grant, plus a couple of Galaxy's Edge books.

Think about that for a second.  A comic book version of a Jeeves novel.  A heartbreaking biography of violated innocence. A hilarious collection of stories and anecdotes from a Texas lawman born in Africa. A collection of essays and outrages.  A couple of Star Wars books that are way better than any Star Wars movie you are going to see in a theater these days and a western by a South African.  The only thing on that list that is even close to the mark is a Heinlein juvenile pastiche.

Readers of this blog know that this list does have one thing in common, all of the authors are published by Castalia House and everything except the GE books have been published by that small but very fine house.

Now click on any of those books and tell me what you see.  Don't worry I'm not going anywhere.

Again, the Also Boughts are all by Castalia House authors.

It's great that Castalia fans are motivated.  It's fantastic that they get out there and buy... but...there is no getting around it, Castalia House is an enclosed ecosystem so far as the A9 is concerned. And here is the hard truth, an enclosed ecosystem is not growth.  It is stasis and that is slow death.  The A9 was only trying to sell my book to one group of people who who are only interested in one thing; was the book published by Castalia? If the answer is, no, they will move on.

I was in the unfortunate position of being a part of  the Castalia A9 ecosystem without being endorsed by it.   When I gave myself a small and apologetic plug on Vox Popoli, the commentators there who like me (lets not take a poll) took an interest.  This small number of buyers was just enough for the A9 to corral me into a group of potential buyers who weren't going to buy my work because it wasn't a Castalia release. **

Painful self analysis completed.

I actually look on all of this as good news. I'm very excited and optimistic because I've worked out where I fucked up.  Moreover, I've got a really good idea about what I need to do in the future although that is proprietary information and I don't have permission to share it.

 Dark Winter is a book that can be relaunched in a year or two under a new title once I have three or four more books in that series ready to go.   In the mean time I now know where I screwed up and where I need to correct myself.  This is the kind of failure that it is easy to learn from and I have.

Okay, I'm done here.

*Although it is the first result for the "The Great Divide Game".  Guess what I'm renaming the series when I relaunch it next year?  

** That and all the rest of the reasons I listed above.

Link from the comments below now posted


OMFG!  I knew DC Comics was stupid but I never dreamed they were this stoooopid.

After making history as the first woman of color to helm a $100 million-plus live-action film in A Wrinkle In Time, Ava DuVernay will continue to play in the event film sandbox. She’s closing a deal with Warner Bros and DC to direct a big-budget screen adaptation of The New Gods, the creation of revered comic book impresario Jack Kirby. The studio has set Kario Salem (Chasing Mavericks) as the writer; he’ll craft the narrative and work closely with DuVernay.

This is a bold move for Warner Bros/DC and not just because this is the second superhero franchise they’ve handed to a female director after Patty Jenkins turned Wonder Woman into a crowd-pleasing blockbuster and is working on the sequel with Gal Gadot. Unlike recent DC fare, this is a freestanding world created and designed by Kirby back in 1971, not long after the prolific comic legend had exited Marvel.

The New Gods was the Genesis of the uber-villain Darkseid. Also called “Fourth World,” the Kirby creation debuted in a trilogy of related comics written and drawn by Kirby that were published in the very early 1970s: New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle...

Please! (*Cataline whimpers like a lost child*) I know I said I wanted to see a Fourth World movie but I know I was wrong now.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Not like this!