Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday: Chapter 5

Chapter 5: The Prize

The deity consumes the energies projected from the building below. Krumerixan feels a spell being cast from his master. The power engulfs the Merry Mart and spills into the parking lot. The humans below go crazy with bloodlust and fear. The alien monsters inside do as well. Up until now they were only attacking humans, but now the ice beast snatches a hawk-like humanoid from the sky. It shatters into a hundred frozen pieces when it lands.

The human alliances crumble as they all turn on each other. The shootout in sporting goods doesn't last long. The survivors neglect reloading in favor of running at each other while screaming and brandishing the closest weapon with a blade. The teenagers on skateboards beat each other senseless with their previous hit-and-run tactics abandoned. Everyone is on the attack and no one is on any side other than their own. Chaos reigns within and without.

Police sirens arrive. The two cop cars park in the street. Humans infected by the dark being's spell stop attacking each other to charge the cops like zombies in a video game. One police officer shoots into the charging crowd. "Hold your fire!" The other officers don't listen. They all fire while the one in charge tries to regain control. It doesn't matter as the crowd overtakes them. One of them gets a call out for backup as the mass of people tears the four cops apart.

The numbers within the store dwindle rapidly. A Cyclops falls to the icy stare of a Roc, the Roc falls to a woman's arrow,  a male teenager stabs the woman in the heart, a shelf is pushed over by a powerfully built man to crush the teen, and on and on the chain reaction of deaths continue.

Krumerixan's master retracts back through the portal with its feeding complete. There are still trace amounts of energy within, but the deity is not one to lick the plate clean. With his exit the spell of bloodlust is broken. There are two beings left inside. Krumerixan descends to the front door to await the final victor and present their prize.

The last monster is a thin blue skinned terror with purple glowing eyes that have black clouds swirling around them. Its main weapon paralyzes the opposition in place while it gouges the helpless victim with the razor sharp claws at the end of its three fingers. In the other corner we have a young girl in a white blood stained dress who is clutching a stuffed unicorn. Her hands are slick with blood just as blood drips off the claws of the terror. She sobs into the stuffed animal while the blue skinned monster stalks toward her.

She looks over her shoulder with a look of anger at the monster. The monster spreads its arms wide to make a more intimidating presence. Its mouth opens wide to wail a song of paralysis with the black smoke rotating faster around the eyes. The girl stands then runs toward the monster. She jumps at the monster's face. The terror tries to catch the girl with it's claws, but it is too slow. The girl jams the stuffed unicorn deep down the monster's throat. The beast tries to cough it up while flailing its arms at any shelf it can reach to steady itself. The girl hops down and walks away. The terror chokes to death. Don't mess with the girl hugging the stuffed unicorn. Especially not on Black Friday.

Krumerixan greets her, "Congratulations. You are the last survivor. You will accompany me to my realm."

"But I wanna go home."

"This will be your new home."

"But you said I could go home."

"The message said you could leave with your life, it did not say where. You can come with me, or stay and die. It matters not to me little girl."

She pulls out a knife and attempts to stab Krumerixan, but he is not fully in this dimension so it does no damage. "You cannot harm me. Choose now. Stay or go."

She puts her hand up as if expecting Krumerixan to take it. He does not. He opens the portal instead. They walk through it together.

THE END

I had forgotten how much fun it is to write something new since I have been focusing on rewrites and edits for the novel. I really needed to get this out. I hope you all enjoyed this journey into the perils of Black Friday and hope you all stayed safe while shopping on this day after Thanksgiving. Weeeeeee

Black Friday: Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Feeding

Phase 1 is complete. Krumerixan will begin the second phase shortly. He must deal with the logjam in the parking lot. People are abandoning their vehicles, and the line of cars trying to get in have backed up traffic to the light at the end of the street. He wades through the frustrated energy being expelled by those below. Anger and lust mix in the pond that Krumerixan delights in. He drinks from the energy until his belly fills similar to how these silly humans did hours ago. The mix is missing the despair and death, but that will soon be remedied.

Another spell opens more portals that Krumerixan sprinkles throughout the parking lot. The portals open underneath the immobile vehicles. Fire, ash, and lava blast the metal underbellies of these machines. None of the vehicles explode as you would expect from the motion pictures, but oh how they burn. Krumerixan puts a paralysis hex on a man's lower extremities. Lava seeps out from underneath the car he is next to. It swallows the man's feet and legs up to mid-calf. He can only scream out in pain. Krumerixan fills himself until he can drink no more. The excess energy is directed toward the Merry Mart.

Krumerixan begins a longer incantation. One that will awaken his master. The one who demanded this sacrifice tonight. Krumerixan dare not even think the deity's name. Being forced to speak it once is taxing enough.

Within the Merry Mart a customer opens a door. It is dark and cold behind that door, but the female with brown hair walks inside anyway. She searches for a light switch along the wall. A sound like chattering teeth begins and ends then something flies toward her. She dodges it. It is a turkey that has been frozen.

"Hey! Who is there?" Cold glowing eyes turn to her. "I have a... a weapon. Who is there?" The only answer is chattering teeth. The glowing eyes rise from the floor as if the person were crouched. "Come here so I can see you." The glowing eyes comply. A humanoid form lurches toward her. "Are you OK? Are you hurt?" Chattering teeth. "Can you say something?" Chattering teeth. When she realizes the crystalline beast is not human it is too late. The beast's "hand" grasps her shoulder and instantly she is frozen in place. Her heart stops, but her brain lives a moment longer to relinquish one last drop of fear to the soup.

Other doors open with similar results. The human that opened the door dies and the beast within escapes into the greater Merry Mart. The warg being the fastest of the beasts is also the first to find the sporting goods section. It is also the first to die, but not without taking out a dozen other humans along the way.

The spell is ready. Krumerixan opens a portal above the Merry Mart large enough to swallow it whole. Krumerixan mentally projects, "Come forth Marduk". Purple tentacles probe the edges of the portal before reaching down through the roof. Krumerixan can feel the energy being sucked out of the Merry Mart in gulps large enough to fill him for months.

Black Friday: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Skin Suits

Many of the consumers within needed no further prodding. One woman in the kitchen wares aisle opens a kitchen knife set and slashes at anyone around her. Blood on the blenders, blood on the juicers, blood on the Kuerig, blood on the kitchen towels. She too slips in the blood to fall on the blade herself. It is important to wear shoes with good grip when shopping on Black Friday.

A man went for the chainsaws, but Merry Mart does not sell gasoline. For his effort he was beaten to death by a group of teens in the sporting goods section. Skateboards and baseball bats won the day for the teens. Make sure you can use your weapon of choice before getting stuck with a useless one while shopping on Black Friday.

Krumerixan sees each death, but his concentration is elsewhere. Repealing his own magic is more difficult than conjuring the initial spell. A woman is suffocated by a plastic bag. A man dies with an action figure jammed through his eye into his brain. A fat man has a heart attack. It is building, but it will intensify once he finishes this.

Alliances are coming together while some people are still trying to defend their prized items. A group of men take over the sporting goods section. Charles uses a hammer to break the lock used to protect the more dangerous items. Hunting knives, guns, and most importantly ammo are now open for use. He distributes the weapons to those around him. Shouts of "Defend this area" arise around him. If you don't know what to do, follow the alliance that goes to the sporting goods section when shopping on Black Friday. Superior firepower can be the difference between life and death.

The spell is released. The employees have been freed of their skin suits. Behind a closet door a pointy claw pokes through the forehead of the old Hispanic Merry Mart greeter's skin suit. It slides down the length of the body. A three hundred pound centipede crawls out from the confinement. Behind closed doors this scene repeats with many different creatures of the night climbing out. A small drake, a golem, a warg, and other creatures, some that have no name in English, lie in wait for a human to open their door. Humans searching for an exit that will find a horrific end. Don't search for the exit when shopping on Black Friday. It is a trap.

Black Friday: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Message

Krumerixan peers through the viewport to ensure that everything is where it should be. It is. He chants the incantation that will initiate the message. Soon he will free the traitors from their skin suits.

The intercom within the store clicks on. A voice that sounds foreign or alien announces, "Welcome to Merry Mart on this, the blackest of Fridays." Several clicking noises follow as the thing behind the voice breathes. "You may have noticed the lack of employees currently within the store. We are still here, but we are not here to help you. Only one may leave this store. Everyone else will die. Kill or be killed, fight for your lives Hu-mans." The last 3 sentences repeat over and over.

People flock to the exits. They trample dozens in the rush of panic toward the doors. The customers closest to the doors find that they will not budge. Impatient hordes of people push everyone closer. Bodies are mashed against the glass sliding doors at the front. Just over a half hour ago they could not wait to get in, now they are desperate to get out but not nearly as desperate as they will be. "Kill or be killed, fight for your lives Hu-mans."

Outside vehicles circle the parking lot like sharks waiting for their turn, but there will be no parking spots opening up any time soon. They continue to crowd in to the point where cars cannot turn into the parking lot. Another line is forming outside of those wishing to consume the fine goods they were promised would be on sale. Their mouths frothing with dollars waiting to be taken.

Krumerixan looks down on them with disdain. He was hoping for the line to take longer to replenish itself. A spell opens small portals where demon-like creatures grab the would-be consumers to pull them back through the portals. Their souls will help power the store. In effect the Merry Mart will consume them while the creatures will fight over what is left until all the meat is scraped from their bones. The horned devils are invisible to the human spectrum of vision, but Krumerixan has no problems seeing what transpires. The portals close when the last of the creatures has collected its prey. That is what they get for being late to the party.

Black Friday: Chapter 1

Instead of my usual blog post this week I plan to share a new piece of fiction for free as a thank you for all the people who have been following my journey and patiently waiting for my first novel to finally be published. This will also give me an excuse to not go out into the insanity that is Black Friday. I will be working on this today and posting new chapters as I finish them. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: The Opening

The line extends around the building and into the parking lot. The masses of people here chasing after some sort of deal. Charles wants the latest computer streaming device that is on sale for $50 less than anywhere else. Leslie wants an Ultra HD TV that is $500 less than the usual price. Cameron wants a video game system, Anna wants a massaging chair, Dwayne wants hunting gear, and so on. The lust and greed fills Krumerixan's nostrils like the scent of a warm apple pie just pulled out of the oven.

Outside the store are red and yellow neon lights that invite destruction. The red feeding into the customer's primordial bloodlust. The yellow triggering fear centers within the brains of those waiting for the doors to open. The smiling face with shifty eyes promises nothing but happiness and good times while silently mocking the throng of people waiting for their moment to pounce on products. The items they procure may be the key to their very survival or destruction.

The clock strikes midnight and the doors open. People push through 3 and sometimes 4 at a time. The creature wearing an old hispanic lady's skin suit says, "Welcome to Merry Mart". The stomping of feet on the painted floor masks the clicking of teeth within the skin suit. The skin suits confine them into shapes that cannot be comfortable. In an hour they will be freed. Criminals to our ways they will be given a chance at redemption or die in the process. The line dwindles like a parasite infecting a larger host. This host will fight back.

The last customer enters the building and Krumerixan conjures the barrier. No one shall leave this building unless he wills it. It has begun. The customers within find the products they desire. Charles has his streaming device, too light to bludgeon someone with. Cameron equips his gaming system, large and heavy enough to hurt someone but an awkward weapon. Anna's massaging chair is in pieces. The plastic arms may prove to be adequate batons. Dwayne has a rifle and a tackle box with fishhooks. The hooks may prove more useful without ammo to load the rifle.

The employees quietly recede to back rooms, occasionally deflecting questions from customers to other abandoned departments. The frenzy grows ever more tense, confusing, and hostile without the employees to maintain order. Through the viewport Krumerixan sees all of it. Soon all will fall to chaos. The many varied flavors of emotion will become that saccharine flavor of fear. Krumerixan prefers the varied soup of emotions that are currently simmering in the pot, but there are bigger mouths to feed.

The first fatality is claimed. Within the mob an elderly man falls. The stomping of feet involuntarily take the man's fragile life. His chaperon calls for the man with desperation in his voice. Blood spreads across the floor staining the bottom of shoes. Others slip in the slick liquid. A woman screams loud enough to cause the crowd to pause. This is excellent. Krumerixan has not initiated the message yet and they are already at each others throats.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creed

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 12 min / Drama - Sport

What is it about?

A young orphan is picking fights with the other boys over which Power Ranger was the best. Adonis Johnson always liked the Pink Ranger. The wife of his father shows up to save him from a life of being a One Directioner. She ensures he is educated in the fine art of decorating eggs with glitter. He gets a desk job where he shuffles paper around, but in his heart he wants to fight in honor of the Pink Power Ranger. He quits his job and goes in search of his dream. No one in California will train him, so he goes to the one former friend of his father's that might help him, Rocky Balboa.

You will like it if...

You liked the first four Rocky films. Starting with Rocky 5 the series had lost its way. The fifth film began putting the life drama to the forefront while trying to make Rocky fight again for no real reason. The drama has always been a major part of the series, but was always combined with training scenes showing hard work, determination, and the pursuit of impossible dreams. The film prior to Creed had a completely implausible story, making it hard to swallow. Creed returns the series to its roots while also adding some new things. Some of the new things worked like Michael B. Jordan while others felt a little cheesy like the graphics giving each new opponent's stats. There are several well established graphic presentations for boxing stats. The method used in Creed looked like it belonged more in a video game than a film. The script hits all the right notes for a Rocky style film. While Creed isn't the best film of the Rocky series, it certainly can claim its spot as one of the best in the series. If you liked the first four Rocky films then you should enjoy Creed as well.

Next Week

Macbeth or Krampus or perhaps something else. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 1

  • Amy - About: Amy Winehouse Quick Review: Haven't seen it yet!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Be Thankful

With the big turkey day coming up I wanted to talk about being thankful and No Shave November. Be thankful that you are not the turkey in the picture above. Hug everyone that matters to you because it is awesome and powerful. Nothing lasts forever, you have to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of this life that you can. Life can be difficult, infuriating, and can drag you down, especially around the holidays. Don't let it.

No Shave November

For the third straight year I am participating in the phenomenon known as No Shave November. Until recently I was unaware that people did not know what it was all about. Many people are not aware of the true meaning of the month long event. Everyone knows it is a time when men will grow out their beards to look like weird man-beasts who grew up in the woods playing with sticks and stones learning how to break bones for use as toothpicks.

What most people don't know is that it started as a way to support cancer patients who had lost their hair due to treatment. It is usually followed by a charitable donation. To those of you who are unknowing participants, I urge you to fully participate even if your donation is only $5. There are many charities and organizations that help the cause. Please pick the one that you like best and donate.

My First Time

The first time I participated, like every other time since, has been in honor of my mom. She was diagnosed with lung cancer on her birthday in April of 2013. Talk about a shitty birthday present. She went through treatment, the cancer spread to her brain, and she was in hospice care when November came around. I went to visit her almost every day. To make things worse my car broke down at the time which made it more difficult to visit her when I had to rely on others to give me a ride.

My mother had lost her hair due to the treatment. It was heartbreaking to see her pull at her hair and watching it come away in her hand. I began growing my beard in support. We would have fun talking about it. She would tell me that I needed to shave it off, and I would rub it on her face when we hugged. She would exclaim "I've been bearded!" like Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters. She passed away a little more than a week after her birthday the next year.

Thank You

Today is the day that you can make a difference. I was thinking about setting up a go fund me for this, but I'm not the greatest at promotion or recruiting people to help with causes. If you do want to help then today is the day you can. Find a worthwhile cause and donate some money to it. It doesn't have to be a lot. Every little bit counts.

I plan to donate $100 for every inch in length my beard hair gets by the end of the month. I'm hoping it gets to be around 1.5-2 inches long. Right now it is at around 1 inch when I try to measure the ones still attached to my face. Also tonight there is a charity poker tournament that I am playing in. It is to help a 16 year old girl who lost both of her parents recently at the American Legion outpost here. If I manage to win any money I am going to donate it back to her. Wish me luck!

Update

I went to the tournament, but there was no parking when I arrived. The venue is too small for the amount of people who were in attendance. I tried to park across the street, but was told that I would be towed if I left my vehicle there. It was upsetting because I had to drive 30 minutes out, another 30 back, and I wanted to play some poker tonight. In the end it is not about me, it is about the girl who lost her parents. I am going to find a way to donate my buy in fee of $25 to her even though I was unable to participate in the event. My only hope is that whoever wins will donate the money back to her.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 17 min / Adventure - SciFi

What is it about?

When we last left our hero Katniss Everdeen she was getting beat up like Rhonda Rousey by Peeta. Peeta has been tortured and brainwashed into thinking Katniss is the enemy of all things furry. Peeta wants to lead the furry revolution against the oppressor. Peeta is receiving treatment to get over his platinum membership to PETA. Meanwhile President Snow is spreading around white roses everywhere just because he can't think of anything else creepy to do. Now Katniss wants to kill President Snow while giving everyone else warm hugs and gift baskets. If you go one of the baskets I will trade you my chapstick for the Care Bear, or you can make me an offer.

You will like it if...

You liked the previous Hunger Games films. The last two films together end up being the best of the series. They are separate films though, so I have to judge them on their own merits. Mockingjay Part 2 is more of the same of what you would expect from the series. It neatly ties up the story and without the awkwardness of the final book. The Mockingjay films feel like what the final book should have been. Kudos to the writers who worked on this script. It's amazing how much progress Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have made since the first film. They both perform like seasoned actors who fit in with the rest of the all star cast. As with any film that has a decent budget the special effects are amazing. One complaint I have has to do with how many of these films use the same crumbling crystal look when surfaces are destroyed. Not every surface would chip or crumble the same way. It's just a minor complaint and doesn't take away from the movie much. In the end if you are a fan of the previous Hunger Games films then you will go to see this no matter what I say. Even if I said a barrel full of monkeys was more fun you would still go see it. Overall this finale is like much of the rest of the series, it is a good action film with some twists in the story, but falls short of being a great film.

Next Week

The Good Dinosaur, Victor Frankenstein, or Creed. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 24

  • No Escape
  • Shaun the Sheep - About: Sheep doing sheep stuff. Quick Review: Put me to sleep, but people seem to like it.
  • American Ultra - About: Stoner turns into super spy. Quick Review: Decent action flick

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cut Til It Bleeds

Editing is a painful process of pruning and shaping your manuscript. It's a time where the Care Bears are set to the side. Cover their eyes. You don't want them to see this. We're going to torture the manuscript. Sharpen your knives, it's time to cut til it bleeds.

I have been working on my first novel for over 3 years now. The editing and rewriting process has been more difficult than I ever thought it could be. I have learned so much along the way, but the only way to learn is to make mistakes. My editor has convinced me that I may need to do another round of edits. I wanted to strangle her for suggesting it, but in the end I know she is right. I don't want to write this book forever, but I want to make it as good as it possibly can be.

Layering

I first heard about layering in another blog post talking about writing and editing. It was like a supernova going off in my head yelling HEY LOOK AT THIS AWESOME THING! Now I had a word to describe my rewriting process. Each draft I have written has followed this process. It's like tiramisu, but each layer has blood dripping from the edges. Sometimes the tears of my enemies are mixed in.

Ideas that add depth and flavor to the narrative fill my head while writing. Many of them are for parts that have already been written. Rather than go back each time, I make a note of it and keep going. While rewriting, I use that opportunity to add those ideas like sprinkles on top of my sundae. The second and third drafts added over 5,000 words to the final word count. I had cut close to 5,000 words, but added over 10,000. Entire chapters were demolished using TNT, but others sprang up in their place. The word count overlords were not pleased. They demanded blood, gallons of it.

Deep Cuts

This last draft is almost done which has shaved around 3,000 words thus far. The chapter I am currently working on is filled with back story exposition that needs to feel the wrath of the knife. The main point of the story is important, but much of the back story isn't. As much as I love the back story in this chapter, it doesn't matter as much as the pacing challenge it creates. The story grinds like a rusty gear. It is important because it reveals a secret that was not known before. The scene as it is written doesn't work as well as I hoped it would. The secret still needs to get out, but I must find another way to do it.

One chapter I had written for the original manuscript introduced a new character that the main character would meet again later in the book. The character didn't add anything to the story other than some charming exchanges with the main character. Much of the information given in that chapter was redundant. Information that was given in three other places. I loved the character, but she had to die. Her name was Jinny Michelson. Remember her. She will forever remain lost within the terrible first draft.

The point is that you can't be afraid to cut and prune your story. If your story is better without a scene then carve it out. Find another way to include the important bacon bits. You don't need the greasy fat. It will choke the arteries of your story. Make it mean, lean, and cut until it bleeds. If you have to cut off whole body parts, so be it. Perhaps your novel doesn't need that 5th arm growing out of its ankle, or an eye in place of the belly button. Cut Cut Cut and cut some more. Appease the word count overlords with their gallon of blood.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My All American

Rated PG / 1 hr 58 min / Biography - Drama

What is it about?

Freddie Steinmark trains all day working toward the state ballerina championship. It is all in an effort to get a scholarship to Notre Dame. Every girl in school thinks he's so dreamy, but he decides to chase after the blonde girl that doesn't realize she is pretty until she takes off her glasses. At that moment you realize she is Supergirl! The hunchback makes sure that Fast Freddie gets rejected by Notre Dame and our hero vows revenge through football. How will he get his revenge when every college thinks he is too small and weighs a petite 120 lbs?

You will like it if...

You like sappy by the numbers dramas based on a real life story. Finn Wittrock has perfected the teenager look of home grown middle of America earnestness, and he tosses it around like it is made of free pancakes. It seems like everything is given to the main character from the start including all the free pancakes. He leads a blessed life where nothing at all could go wrong. You almost want to punch the guy in the face and steal his pancakes until life does it for you then you feel guilty. Once you see him overcome a few minor hardships it is easier to like him, but a lot of the charm is lost with the uneven pacing of the film. The main conflict ends up being something completely unexpected unless you know the true life story. It comes so late in the movie that 75% through the movie I wondered if anyone was going to challenge his dominion over free pancakes. Finn and Eckhart give decent if sometimes wooden performances. Some of the other actors in the film are obviously not experienced or talented in the craft. The pacing and obvious low budget hold My All American back. For anyone other than a Texas college football fan I would recommend waiting for it on Redbox/Netflix if you are interested in this one.

Next Week

Legend, The Night Before, Secret In Their Eyes, or The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 10

  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - About: Spies doing spy stuff. Quick Review: Blah action flick

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Power Of The Hug

Whenever I go out I try to engage with the people I come across. After speaking with them if I think they would be interested in my movie reviews or my writing then I will hand them one of my business cards. After their initial reaction at how awesome they look (everyone loves skulls and dragonflies), they laugh. In the text under my name it says "Hugger". I'm glad that it brings joy to people, but it is not a joke. I am a hugger.

Hugs can mean a great many things to everyone. When I hug someone I take it to mean "I am here and I care about you". That is an important concept for me. When I was in college and for years after I fought with depression on a regular basis. There were many nights where I felt a soul crushing hopelessness that made me feel like crying, moving, or breathing was pointless. Some nights I sat in my bed in the dark not daring to move for fear that by moving I would destroy everything.

Depression And Writing

Writing is one of the things that helped me to get past the depression. Putting words on paper that expressed how I felt got these things out of my mind. I wouldn't say that writing saved my life as I never really thought of suicide as an option. I did think about it, but it wasn't something that I seriously considered. I know there are many others who have felt this pain before and have considered or attempted that outcome. Please seek help if you have. There is always someone out there that cares about you whether you know it or not.

I began writing a story that was intended as a suicide note for the main character. It was to include many of the things that set me back and broke my heart up to that point. I couldn't bring myself to write more than a few pages of that story because it was so painful to relive all of those things. I don't know why I tried to torture myself like that, but who else can explain the stupid things they did when they were younger. The main character in another story I worked on is cursed and cannot touch anything without burning or melting it. Characters like these are examples of how I felt at the time. Alone and broken with no chance of anyone coming close to me.

During college is also the time where I rediscovered reading. Jurassic Park was the first novel I fell in love with and I began to devour anything written by Michael Crichton. The escape of the story drew me to comic books again as well. This is also another reason I love movies. Leaving my world behind and joining the world of dinosaurs or mutants with powers sparked my imagination. I wish I had realized that this was my dream back then. There were so many projects that I started which all surrounded a story idea. I didn't realize it then, but I do now. I don't have to package the story as something else. The story can stand on its own.

The Power

The comfort that you feel from a hug is like nothing else. It can be a completely platonic experience or very intimate. When you put your arms out for a hug, you invite someone into your personal space. It shows a level of trust and acceptance. A hug is a form of personal inclusion and validation.

I have come to the realization that how people feel about me doesn't matter as much as how I feel about them. It may sound selfish, but it is true for anyone. If you love or care about someone then let them know. Hug them as often as you can. Never hesitate to tell them that they are special to you. This doesn't mean you should stalk people. Still respect their personal space and decisions, but leave yourself open to them. I know it is a risk, but if they take that opportunity to be cruel to you then they don't deserve to have someone as awesome as you in their life. That goes for people who try to take advantage of you also. Some people see kindness as a weakness, but it isn't. It is a strength.

I want to share my awesome with everyone I can. Some people will accept and enjoy what I have to offer. Some will not, and that's OK. I am here and I care. Sometimes more than I should. This is why I am a hugger, and I give the best hugs.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Spectre

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 28 min / Action - Adventure - Thriller

What is it about?

Daniel Craig is Bond, James Bond. He gets a message from Lady Gaga saying he needs to kill someone then go to the funeral. At the funeral he finds the widow who he tries to show his PEZ collection to. She swoons then gives him all her secret chocolate stash spots. Bond then goes to Rome trying to find and put an end to the group that started it all going back to Casino Royale. A group called Spectre. A group so sinister that their only goal is to watch tentacle hentai, and they will kill anyone who dares get in their way.

You will like it if...

You like action movies with choppy editing or poor scripts. This was meant to be the culmination of all the Daniel Craig Bond movies. Craig is just as good as he was in the previous films. The other actors do a serviceable job as well. I can't decide if the problem lies with the editing or the script. It feels like they tried to do too much and ended up having to mash it all into the time frame, but at 148 minutes the movie is pretty hefty. Either way the story seems chopped up and then pasted together by a 4 year old with a glue stick. There are enough plot holes to choke a small army. I wonder if there will be a director's cut in the future that will show the full glory of what Spectre could have been.

There are so many missed opportunities throughout that I don't know where to start. Christoph Waltz is quite capable as a villain, and when I heard he was cast a small voice jumped for joy inside. He's barely in the film. He has a couple of truly fantastic moments, but there is so little of him in the film that you can forget about him completely. Bond films are known for their unique and interesting action scenes, but Spectre is completely lacking in this department. Sure there are plenty of action sequences, but not anything you haven't seen before in any other action film in the past 20 years. Some of the scenes at the end had me shaking my head wondering what the crap they were thinking. The decisions made with the story left me in awe at how awful they were. After Skyfall I was expecting something much better than this. I was expecting the smart spy thriller that all the best James Bond movies have become. Spectre could have been a wondrous send off to the Daniel Craig era of Bond, but instead it ends up being a decent turn your brain off action movie that just happens to have a character named James Bond in it. I'm still trying to decide if Quantum of Solace is still the worst Bond movie with Daniel Craig or if Spectre has claimed that title.

Next Week

 Love the Coopers, By The Sea, or The 33. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 10

  • Trainwreck - About: Amy Schumer finds love while expecting less. Quick Review: Good Dramedy, stops trying to be funny toward the end.
  • Self/less - About: Old man steals younger body Quick Review: Blah thriller.
  • Mr. Holmes - About: A retired older Sherlock Holmes No Review: Haven't seen it yet!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Cost Of Self Publishing

This past week I have seen a plethora of posts about the cost of self publishing posted on Twitter. All of these posts have valid points, and I don't want to belittle the work done on each article, but they all have gotten it wrong.

Oh so what makes you the grand master wizard nerd of all things with self and publishing when you haven't published anything yet?

I am not an expert on publishing. I'm just some fat hairy guy that likes to scribble about things and eat Jello in my boxers. I'm in the boxers not the Jello. The Jello is in a bowl. I have done a lot of research on publishing, but I am sure there is much more I can learn. There are a few reasons that these articles are wrong. The biggest one is each one assumes that every author can afford the costs that they outline. Some of the articles look like they were designed to discourage authors from trying because of the large up front cost. Another reason is that the author takes their personal experience into account and makes recommendations based on those experiences. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. I personally know that I am not the best at recruiting or promoting things, so the majority of the budget I set aside for my novel is going towards advertising.

The true cost of self publishing is absolutely free. I wouldn't recommend taking the free route, and that is not my final answer. You may be old and wrinkly by the time you are able to publish if you use the free route, but it is still available to those who are brave enough to walk through the snake infested swamp. I'm going to address some of the main things other author's suggest you always spend money on and what your options are with the associated costs for each option including the free option. Editing, Cover Art, Formatting, and Advertising are the big 4 that I will examine under my Perceptor Transformer microscope.

Editing

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

Most advice when it comes to self editing your work is in between "Please don't do it" and "OMG YOUR NOVEL WILL GET HERPES IF YOU DON'T GET AN EDITOR". The reality is that your novel will most likely not get herpes. No guarantees.

The truth is that you can edit your own work. Most authors are too close to their work to see all of the errors, misspellings, grammar train wrecks, plot holes, and so on. It's hard enough for people who are professional editors let alone for someone who has race horse blinders on.

There are some things that can be done to help get this accomplished. Reading your work out loud can help find grammatical and awkward wording errors. Having good beta readers that aren't family can help spot errors and ask questions you didn't think about. There are also spell and grammar checks within the major word processors including Open Office which is completely free to use.  

Option: Pick and Choose
Cost: Varies

There are different kinds of editing that you can get. Copy edit, proofreading, taste the rainbow edit, content edit, Godzilla edit, and so on. Based on your strengths and weaknesses you can pick and choose which ones you want or need. Editing is expensive, but by all measures it is necessary. Each type of editing help fix different types of things and all of them are valuable in their own way. They all have different price points as well. Some editors charge by the page and others charge by the hour, so the overall cost is difficult to determine. I suggest asking the editor for an estimate if they charge by the hour. If this option looks tasty to you then search online for the different flavors of editing available so you can pick and choose which one fits in your shorts better. Jello editing is my favorite. Wait… No the Jello is definitely in the bowl.

Option: Comprehensive
Cost: $1,000-$18,000+

This is a comprehensive edit starting from a developmental edit to the final copy edit. For the ridiculous prices I have seen, some of these packages include formatting as well. I find it shocking that some of them do not. Make sure to get full service if you are taking this option. There's no reason to expect less for the price. I would also request a sample before hiring them to ensure that you work well with the editor. Once you shell out the money, you are married to that editor til death of the novel do thee part.

Cover Art

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

Building your own cover art is a lot like building blog graphics, but on a larger scale. I have built graphics designed for websites for years, but I'm not confident enough in my book cover building skills. You can find the blog graphics article here: http://brianbasham.blogspot.com/2015/10/how-to-make-amazing-blog-graphics.html. Cover graphics require a lot more research. It is your first impression, so you want to make sure it fits the genre you are writing. The Stay Puff Marshmallow Man is probably not the best model for your erotica fantasy novel.

Option: Cheaper Options
Cost: $1 - $99

Canva.com is the cheapest non-free option, but it's also a do it yourself project. The best thing about Canva is their text presentation already looks good. The only thing you need to do is edit the text and then position it where it needs to be. The site has some other effects that you can add for a fee, but starting at $1 you can't beat the price for a prefabricated template.

Fiverr is another cheap option for book cover design. Just like with Canva they will use stock photos that can be downloaded for free or very cheap by anyone. It is quite possible that there will be other covers out there that will look similar to yours in the future. In the future all books are Atlas Shrugged, sorry bad Demolition Man reference. Gigs on Fiverr can start at $5, but you are going to want some of the add-ons that each person there offers. I used this option for my novel and paid $50. I'm happy with the cover that I got, but I also paid to get the PSD file so I can go in and edit as needed.

Option: Professional Cover Artists
Cost: $300-$3,000

Let's face it. The top professional cover artists know what they are doing. They don't just use stock photos and slap some text on them. These people could draw and build your cover from scratch. They are experts in text placement and they can also create new designs out of common objects. These are the people other so-called cover artists should bow down to. I went with the Fiverr option instead simply because of the budget I set out from the beginning. It is definitely worth the money if it is within your budget.

Formatting

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

If you purchase editing that includes formatting then you can obviously skip this entire section. I found a fantastic guide for formatting a book using HTML and Callibre. Formatting is easy and painless, but it can take time. That guide can be found here: http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting/. You don't have to know HTML to use this guide, but you will have to know how to copy/paste. I know, there's always a catch.

Option: Professional Formatting
Cost: $5-$2,500+

Again Fiverr provides some professional help here. Some of the gigs on Fiverr don't appear to be from people who speak English as their first language. Buyer beware of the Bigfoot that may maul you for your Jello. The Jello that is in the bowl. There are other professionals that you can hire including the man that wrote the guide I linked to above. He has also written books with tips and tricks on how to format.

For the life of me I can't understand how someone can justify charging $2,500 for formatting. Some of the reasoning has to do with making the book interactive, pictures within the book, or making fairy dust pop out of the book as people read it. Building the book completely out of cocaine would make more sense for that price. A Choose Your Own Adventure style book would be so easy with the use of links in HTML. It might take a bit more time than doing the usual formatting, but not enough time that it would take more than a day or two to finish the job. Yes they should be compensated for the extra work, no they should not be paid more than they deserve to fart on a snare drum. If anyone has any idea how to justify that price please let me know. It just looks to me as if they are price gouging at $100 per hour of work, or trying to scare people away from self publishing.

Advertising

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

Build campaigns on social media, recruit a street team, organize your own blog tour, etc. There are so many ways to do this for free. The only limitation is your imagination. The biggest problem with this is that it involves a crap ton of time. Shaking hands and kissing babies, engaging individuals constantly. If time is your most precious commodity like mine is then this is simply not an option. I have tried to build up a bit of a following on social media, but I also know that I am about as good a recruiter as Pennywise the Clown. That doesn't mean self promotion can be ignored, but I think it is more important to not put all the eggs in one basket. Especially when that basket has a large hole in the bottom like mine. Many people are very successful with their social media campaigns and their calls to action. They must have gone to a different hypnotism school than I did. That reminds me, I should ask for a refund on that.  

Option: Paid Advertising
Cost: $5-$2,350

I put $2,350 as the max because that is the highest price listed I can find for a BookBub ad. I'm not going to address the effectiveness of advertising options, but I would not pay more than the cost of a BookBub ad for any kind of advertising. The low end of $5 comes again through Fiverr. I am not including the buying of reviews which is frowned upon by everyone, well almost everyone. Some people like things that should never been seen or heard of, but they still like those things anyway. Like Jello down my shorts, err uh, in a bowl I mean. Advertising is necessary whether you self publish or publish traditionally.

Conclusion

So what is the real cost of self publishing? Whatever budget you put aside for it. That is the final answer. It is possible to publish your work for the low low price of free. Everyone loves free ice cream, but there are also free dog poops everywhere. I don't think anyone wants one of those, maybe the people who buy reviews. Some people will spend $10,000+ to self publish. What you should spend will probably fall somewhere in between free and OMG I CAN'T AFFORD THAT. It further outlines the importance of having a business plan going in. Spend your money wisely and save it where you can, but also don't skimp on what is important.

I would love to hear what you think about the real cost of self publishing, or what you have spent if you are an author that has self published before. Commenting about the Jello in my shorts is um... uh... *clicks publish*