Random Ramblings: The Cons of Self-Publishing & Self-Promotion

Self-Publishing is a great thing. You have limitless creative freedom, with no editor or marketing people telling you how long your stories have to be. I’ve been enjoying it immensely. Admittedly though, there is one major downside: self-promotion.

We’re taught early on that we shouldn’t really self-promote. That’s something show-offy, it’s not someone does that has confidence in their work, someone trying to hide the flaws in ads. I used to think along these lines. Once you start self-publishing though, you learn quickly that this is the exact wrong way to actually get anywhere. You are on your own, and that means you need to rely on social media and other websites to get the word out. Ask your friends, ask your family, post wherever, whenever.

Take for instance the sub-reddit “Wrote a Book”:

https://www.reddit.com/r/wroteabook/comments/77h4z8/novel_historians_crusade_science_fiction/

That one allows you to just post a link and promote your book. But if you scroll down the site, you are once again reminded why you might not want it. Do you want to be associated with the dozenth romance novel this week? If you want to exist outside traditional publishing I would say: yes. In an ideal world all self-publishing authors would work together, trying to get the word out over each other’s books, but the world isn’t really perfect. For one, people still scoff at ebooks priced higher than $0.99, as if a cup of lukewarm coffee for “Janothizanlafaeiohsf” from Starbucks is a better value proposition.

So by all means: promote your books, price them higher than $0.99. The pricing is an important part of self-publishing, I think. It gives a statement to the world: I am confident in this book. Also I paid an artist for the cover and need my expenses covered.

Seriously though: self-promotion is a hurdle we need to get over. I need to get over. Here goes…

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Star Trek Discovery: “Choose Your Pain” Review – An Ode to the F-Bomb

To Boldly Fucking Go

It is official: Trek has entered the age of the modern tv show. F-Bombs and all.

This is not to be meant disparagingly. Quite the opposite. It just occurred to me why Discovery continues to feel slightly off to me: the character feel tangible. They feel human. Alive. It’s something the best of Trek has in common: the TOS characters and DS9 crew (and latter day Enterprise, but we apparently aren’t allowed to mention them…). There is an easiness through which the actors can slip into their characters, how much they are at ease with living in the future. The original crew did it really well, as did DS9. They were relatable. They got angry, they loved, they mourned, they laughed. And now they curse. I’m not saying the F-Bombs were absolutely necessary to the dialogue, but as anyone who knows me, I can swear like a fucking sailor. People love to swear and the fact that Trek has never gotten away with it so far made the universe so sanitized. Though at least that’s better than coming up with ersatz-curses like ‘drell’, ‘frak’ and ‘kree’.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Discovery. I still like the show. Lorca continues to impress me as a character, as does Saru, who form an effective triumvirate with Burnham. Stamets is also growing on me, clearly written as a jerk with a heart of gold and, dare I say it, Sheldon Cooper done right. Also Robert April is now canon. Yippie! …That’s pretty much it for this week.. Is there more to say?

Okay, yeah: The episodes have now established a routine: issue of the week and driving the main story arc forward. Much like pretty much every serialized show out there, there is the issue that we won’t see what is going to happen until all the episodes have aired. Some might argue that this is why Netflix should have insisted on airing everything at the same time. And while that would have been nice to shut up a lot of the detractors, since I’m now pretty sure where the series will be heading, it would have also ruined the viewing experience.

Ever since Netflix brought out its first originals, binging has become the norm for television viewing. I’ve argued in a past article that it has ruined many a good show for me. For the next few months I will be able to watch an episode Monday morning and then go on Facebook and talk to friends and acquaintances about how the show will turn out. This is television for me. It’s a communal serialized adventure we can all engage with, speculate with. Binging kinda ruined that for all of us. I am glad that we can rediscover this now, no pun intended.  

And now for word or two from Jessica “The Angriest Fangirl” and Chris “The American”.

Jessica’s thoughts:

Well we finally had onscreen confirmation of our first gay couple – and got slammed with the But Not Too Gays, darn. Would have really loved it if they had given each other just a quick peck on the cheek or something.

I actually cried in happiness when they set free the tardigrade. And earlier out of sadness when it lost all it’s water and curled up in a ball. Okay, Acting Ensign Water Bear, join tiny non-anthropomorphic robots, non sentient holograms, amorphous blobs of goo and murderous lava monsters in the ever growing list of esoteric things Star Trek has made me weep over. Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery: “Choose Your Pain” Review – An Ode to the F-Bomb”

Star Trek Discovery: The Butcher’ Knife Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry Review

The writer’s pen cares not for the lack of content in lieu of the sweet ad revenue.

Star Trek Discovery continues to excel at being all around good television.

Oh wait, you wanted more? Look, it’s just hard recapping a serialized show every single week. One-and-done episodes are easy. You have a problem that’s set up, explored, then resolved. Serialized storytelling is a different tool in the belt and has some great advantages. In the case of Discovery they are brilliant at building mystery and character. Not to mention the world building and details we receive. Many of the characters on Discovery already have more character traits revealed and explored than most characters on Enterprise, Voyager, and TNG combined. Though that’s not saying much… point is the main problem is that the big picture is only revealed over the course of the entire season. And they are subtle about this. This isn’t Captain Picard going “oh wait, it’s hard to watch and do nothing when you know the people dying” . Gee whiz, thanks, Captain Obvious! Discovery values its subtext over text as much shows do these days and as such might rub people the wrong way who are used to the classic Trek model of approaching the franchise from a theater and literature perspective of telling more than showing rather than filmic. Considering it’s a visual medium I actually prefer the latter. Big shock.

In many ways these weekly recaps are only good for two things: getting a chance to talk about the meta regarding the franchise and reception, and getting those sweet, sweet clicks. Guess why I’m gonna be back next week?!

 

In the meantime: Since she couldn’t join us in the previous recaps, here’s Jessica aka “The Angriest Fangirl” with her thoughts:    Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery: The Butcher’ Knife Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry Review”

Star Trek Discovery: “Context is for Kings” Review – The Nicholas Meyer Effect

It’s easy being a Saint in paradise

There is something to say about a Starfleet captain who keeps a Gorn skeleton in a mad scientist lab and a sprayed and neutered Tribble on his standing desk. There is, I’ll just let it stand on its own.

It might be hyperbolic, but there is a certain delight to be found in the fact that I am finding myself watching a weekly Star Trek show again for the first time in a decade and a half since German TV aired Voyager and Enterprise. I have missed it in a nostalgic sense. There is something satisfying in watching a show unfold on a week to week basis that gets sadly lost in our modern binge watching culture. I’ve written about this before on this blog.

The first two episodes of Discovery were very much a pilot episode, yet also a prologue of sorts. This then is the first regular episode of the show and as such serves as the real signal to the viewers of what they can expect from the show. It feels fitting that Nicholas Meyer of all people is involved as a producer and writer on the show, even though he didn’t pen this episode in particular. Let me explain this through what I call the Nicholas Meyer Effect.

Meyer had saved Trek from itself back in the 80s and he continues to serve as a sign for either everything that is wrong with Trek, or everything that people love about it. Roddenberry had spent the 70s, when not coked up, touring campuses and conventions, being convinced by his growing fanbase that Star Trek was cerebral and esoteric. When the franchise returned with the Motion Picture, this is what we got: a silly, campy script recycled from the TV show (Nomad anyone?) blown up to compete with 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was slow, it was plotting, it buried its good ideas under its own unnecessary seriousness.

Enter Nicholas Meyer. Much like Discovery’s producers, the man had never partaken in the franchise before, but he had watched the episodes in preparation for working on the new movie. And much like Discovery’s producers he took what the fans saw as a disadvantage, not having preyed on the shrine of Roddenberry, as an advantage. There is a reason doctors, scientists, academics, creative people, ask for second opinions, an outsider’s perspective. It can be hard to see what you are really about. Having watched TOS, Meyer recognized the core of what Star Trek was about – and what Roddenberry had forgotten about.
Star Trek is a swashbuckling adventure show that told low brow and high brow stories. One week there would be an episode about Kirk hunting down the man who murdered his entire colony, in another Spock would get horny. Also salt vampires? Point is, there are many approaches to Trek, but the central one is that we are dealing with the descendant of pulp fiction. While his Trek plays up the naval characteristics of Starfleet, the Master and Commander / Horatio Hornblower vibe we get from that informed Trek from the beginning.

With Discovery we are at a point where the television landscape has changed to accept season long story arcs as the norm. DS9 was the first Trek show to have serialization, but even by that standard Discovery is very much going to be a season long story and the episode itself mirrors that, a building block in the series. This makes it hard to recap every single episode and it can be frustrating for the people who wished for Trek to return to its single episode format.

The thing is, the movies are much better equipped to deal with one-off adventures. TV should deal with longer, more complex stories. Remember, there are 700 episodes of Trek already and I can point to a good 100 of those who share the same base DNA and a good 20 that are carbon copies of each other, especially in the last couple of years. It is time for fresh stories and some deeper exploration of a universe that can be ankle-deep at most.

Discovery has the misfortune of being compared to Nicholas Meyer era Trek in that there is a section of the fandom that vehemently opposes what the show stands for. Much as with Meyer, they base this off of a surface-level reading: it is naval in character, there are conflicts, we see a darker side of the Federation. And yet because these Trek fans do exactly what Trek always preaches is the fatal flaw: judging by its appearance, they are missing out on already well set up moments.

Yes, Michael Burnham is a mutineer. The character isn’t perfect at all. And yet she is very much in the tradition of what a Star Trek character is supposed to aspire to be: be true to yourself, try to improve, better yourself. Every person who complains about the darkness the show preaches, please be reminded of this wonderful monologue by Burnham: “I was a Starfleet officer”. This is very much straight in the tradition of a Kirk, a Picard, a Sisko, even a Janeway or Archer: I make mistakes, I have to live with them. That doesn’t mean I will throw away my ideals because live is hard.

Considering that the original Star Trek show can be summed up by a little scene in “A Taste of Armageddon”, where Kirk admits that humanity is not perfect, but that all it means to make progress is to state “I will not kill today”, I see this show clearly in the footsteps of TOS and DS9. Where others see unnecessary darkness and a betrayal of Star Trek’s ideals, I see the very ideals of Star Trek, its central themes, on full display. “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise,” Sisko once said on DS9. It’s easy to be a pacifist in peace time, says Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery.

“Darkness” is important in a story like the one Discovery tells, like DS9 told, like many episodes of Trek that dealt with serious issues. If there is nothing to overcome, no stakes, what is the point of heroes? Nicholas Meyer understood this best in The Undiscovered Country: Kirk overcomes his prejudice for a greater cause, peace is made, despite what the warmongers and xenophobes plotted, and it made the triumph of the original crew all the more great. There would be no light without darkness, and no darkness without light. It is almost as if Context is for Kings.

 

Star Trek: Discovery “The Vulcan Hello” & “Battle At The Binary Stars” Review

Star Trek’s ideals are alive and well

Sunday evening, or rather Monday morning for the part of world increasingly glad not to be American, saw the premier of the long awaited new Trek show: Star Trek Discovery. Opinions have been mixed so far, as in 95% percent of people were positive and 5% are Trekkies.

I was anxious going into Discovery, I had to admit. For months now we have heard rumors here and there about production troubles, people complaining about the time period it covers, a trailer that looked visually stunning yet felt somewhat off. As a lifelong Trek fan with long periods of switching between frustration and love for the franchise, my expectations were quite high going in, especially in light of an excellent movie in form of Beyond last year. Turns out Discovery met my expectations and went far above it. Simply put, I love the show and have now watched both episodes twice already with a third time skipping around the best scenes.

I won’t bother giving a summary as everyone who has wanted to watch the show will have at this point. What I will say is that not only is this the best pilot Trek has ever put out (not saying much, I know) but it is also one of the best two parters. I am glad both episodes were released at the same time as they form a complete whole, with The Vulcan Hello building the world, characters, and tension, and The Battle At the Binary Stars using that setup to reach for even greater heights.

Some ham fisted exposition aside, sadly unavoidable in a pilot, the dialogue was great, the characters immediately likable, the conflict with the Klingons easily established. This is why a modern Trek show will always have a leg up against any science fiction series trying to start out. The amount of legacy, lore, and pop cultural osmosis Discovery was able to build on, paying homage to many elements of previous shows in its debut alone, is simply only possible with such an old franchise. While the visuals have been polished up for a 2017 audience in a post-HBO, post-Netflix world. Finally what we see on screen can live up to the wonders of exploration Star Trek has always wished to live up to. The binary system in these two episodes is simply put the most stunning backdrop to any Star Trek story, including the big screen adventures of recent years.

Many Trekkies who dislike the show and reach beyond a break in visual design language with The Original Series for their criticism, bring up the fact that the show doesn’t feel like Star Trek. The characters are quippy and behave un-Starfleet-like, the show is focused on bombastic visuals and space battles. Without leaning too far out the window on this, these people are idiots. I am not ashamed to be snobby and cast judgement here, it has to be said.

Continue reading “Star Trek: Discovery “The Vulcan Hello” & “Battle At The Binary Stars” Review”

Historian’s Crusade: Now Available on Amazon Kindle

I’m proud to announce that Historian’s Crusade is now live on Amazon Kindle. Get it now on your regional Amazon site for the equivalent of €2.99! Click the picture below for the link to Amazon.

 

 

Remember: even when you lent it through Kindle Unlimited I will be getting a kickback. So don’t feel obligated to buy it if that option is available.

 

 

 

Online Novel: Historian’s Crusade – The One Year Anniversary (+Cover)

Historian’s Crusade is coming to Kindle

In the proper way of using the word, Historian’s Crusade will celebrate it’s one year anniversary this month. Last October I started up the online serialized novel simply to force myself to write and actually finish something. So far the feedback has been encouraging, with views of the different chapters still making up half my monthly hits on this website. But it was always my intent of publishing the final, reworked, version of Historian’s Crusade on Kindle. Yeah, that took a while…

Truth be told, the reason it took so long was because I started writing a sequel book of sorts starring the fictional writer of Historian’s Crusade, titled Historian’s Quest. So while that book is now also done as a second draft, it allowed me to go back and add some new paragraphs here and there in Historian’s Crusade. This not only allows for some nice foreshadowing to the upcoming book but also tightens the continuity between the two.

So the updated version will cost something, it will be on Amazon Kindle and available world-wide. The book will be the equivalent of $2.99 (I firmly believe a book shouldn’t be cheaper than a cup of Starbucks coffee) and include changes from the original version posted online, as well as about 130 footnotes and a full bibliography. And this is important: the first draft will remain online for free forever. If you don’t want to buy the book feel free to read it online, but you will miss out on half the fun in form of footnotes making it truly feel like the fictitious history book it was always meant to be.

Continue reading “Online Novel: Historian’s Crusade – The One Year Anniversary (+Cover)”