Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Man of Steel

Okay, I know it came out ages ago, and it's merits (and shortcomings) have been discussed. However, I just saw it, and had some thoughts.

First, I didn't come to the movie as a fan of Superman. I've always felt his stories were contrived due to the degree of awesomeness they shoved into one dude. Because of that, I'm not emotionally tied to elements of his upbringing, or whether he would ever kill. I was willing to look at it as the progression of a character I didn't already know.

That being said, there was a main element that made it a failure in my mind (and I don't mean that the sheer amount of effects only scenes hurt the flow.) What bothered me most was that Superman/Clark/Cal seems at turns hesitant to be a hero, or forced into action. Not the kind of entity that would inspire hope beyond his evident ability to simply do more awesome stuff.

Now, I get that the movie wanted to play on xenophobia, and cast this Superman in a world that wouldn't be so accepting. Fine. Have him be heroic, and not accepted.

Have him run out and save his Dad, only to be shunned by the people he helped.

Have him try to be a hero, but be chased down (move the stupid drone scene up).

You'd still have the "he's one of them" attitude when Zod and the henchmen show up.

But you'd also have a Superman who was always ready to be heroic when needed, even when humanity wasn't ready. Not someone who hides who he is, makes his first appearance a surrender, and then finally acts heroic because he can't hide like he wants.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Committed part-time writer

Over at his always engaging blog, Chuck Wendig gives some blunt (as always) but good advice and guidance around making that jump to a full-time writer.

I'll admit that in my first reading, I didn't get much past this

Do not quit your day job.
I know. Your butthole just clenched hard enough to snap a mop handle. You hate your day job. The fact you call it a “day job” is a sign that you basically despise it as a grim, necessary evil.
But I’ll repeat:
Do not quit your day job.
Not yet.
If you’re going to become a full-time writer Cylon, you need a plan.

Now, the reason I stopped down there, wasn't because of disappointment. It was because I don't call what i do my "day job" much anymore. I really like it. I like statistics. I like problem solving. I really enjoy huge amounts of my day. Sure, there's the regulation side of things that isn't the most fun, but that's small stuff (and really, there's a crap business side to anything you do to make money.)

I realize, I don't see myself ever leaving traditional employment. Sure, a huge windfall of money, or, eventually, retirement would see me move away, but that's either not-gonna-happen or far enough away as to be out of mind,

So, I write at lunch and at night and get to do stuff I enjoy and get paid for the rest of the day.

Not too shabby for Ron.

If any of you aren't so lucky, give Chuck a read (and be prepared for the advice that you need to write, get better writing and write some more.)

But, if you happen to be lucky enough to have a job you like, well, then, write. Get better at it. And write some more (not so different after all, I guess.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Housekeeping

In my continuing tinkeration (it's a word now people) I make some changes to how my stuff is listed on Amazon. Nothing dramatic. Just the use of a pseudonym that I considered before, abandoned, and have reused (see, tinkeration.)

Anyway, as you could see here all the more speculative fiction is now under Ronald Thomas. That way, if someone who doesn't know me is looking for books, they'll get what they expect if they pick up a secondary title.

"But, won't that confuse people who found both sets of stories enjoyable," you may ask. That assumes people have found the stories to begin with, and data suggests that is an unfounded concern.

Oh, and to that end, Resistant Blood 2 is currently free

Friday, April 11, 2014

KDP exclusive or list everywhere

As I immerse myself in self-publishing, there seems to be some contention (not real disagreement, mind you, just your typical internet squabble) about which is preferable (for eBooks only):

1. Utilize KDP select and its benefits (Free Promotion, Kindle Countdown, Prime Borrows, Better royalties in some regions)

2. List everywhere (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, etc.)

My experience (limited as it is, and not based on very substantial sales overall) is that the other markets don't work for me. Might they in the future? Sure, and I may be losing out on sales if I don't stay in those markets when it turns.

However, I do see some small benefits from kindle promotions, and my "borrows" have always been more than the sales at other places combined.

So, for me, for now, I'm all in with amazon.

Of course, with commitments being only 3 months at a time, I could always back out if needed.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Free (or nearly so)

Some of my non-crime fiction is discounted today for those in the mood to try something odd from yours truly.

Henry Adamson knows his wife is in danger. He knows someone at her company is planning to kill her. He knows it deep in his soul. He just doesn't know why he knows it. Or when he found out. Still, he'll fight for his wife's life despite the uncertainty. Angry and half-mad from lack of sleep and fear, Henry nearly murders an innocent man

People enter his life, offering explanations of the false memories. Stories of secret psychic organization, rouge telepathic terrorist and long hidden government secrets are offered as explanation.

Henry and others who have been effected must learn what is real and who they can trust. The wrong choice will result in madness and death. The right choice might avoid madness.

Forced Memory is a horror thriller in the spirit of Scanners and Push filled with tension, guns, and a few exploding heads.

FORCED MEMORY currently just $0.99 at Amazon 

The world is an empty place. 
Most people died from the bug. 

Those that live, are cramped into huge, walled cities. 
Except the immune. 

The "Lucky Few" 

They ride the rails and do the work that keeps the cities going. 

This is part 1 of a serialized story. Parts 2 and 3 will also be free for a few days over the next couple of weeks.

RESISTANT BLOOD Part 1 currently Free at Amazon

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Resolutions Update

Well, Q1 is over (yes, I work in a bank.) so I figured I'd work on my self-appraisal. Now, what were my goals I set this year?

First, writing:
1. Write what I want. There's nowhere near enough money coming in for me to worry about audience confusion of the like.

I've written what I want, just not enough of it

2. Well, really has to happen first, but, figure out what I want to write. I've got a feeling I know the genre, but there's still so much to figure out.

Okay, so I wrote what I wanted that day. I have, I think, finally figured out what I want to write, though. So that's a plus

3. Finish what I start. I have 5 unfinished novels right now. I need to either finish them, or mark them off for good.

Uhhhh....

4. Stop looking at sales numbers. They're not good enough that I count on any money, so it's all just anguish and anxiety with no payoff.

Uhhhh.....

5. Read what I want to write. It's so key l but I forget.

Nailed it.

Non-writing:
1. I have a job I enjoy and it keeps my family comfortable. I need to appreciate that more than I do.

Yes. 

2. Keep attached to Twitter and Facebook. Not to market anything or build some platform, but just because the group of people I interact with there are good people and I enjoy the even limited relationship I have with them.

I did. I think.

3. Get out more.

Well, I did pull lots of weeds.

4. Keep priorities and still find time for all the important things.

That's getting better.

5. Stop all the dumb habits that keep me fat.

Nope. Still fat.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Writing, self-publishing and an apology

This has been a weird year or so writing. My output has been low. Well, that's not entirely true. There have been many words, they just don't add up to any completed work. I could point to many reasons.


  • I have a new job, that demands much of my time, but that I greatly enjoy. I manage a team building statistical models, which is something that I really love. It may be hard for some to imagine, but the process of evaluating data, thinking through different model forms, interpreting results, improving fit and examining the impact is fun.
  • My kids' activities are taking more of my time. Getting the girl to her many hours of dance and officiating the swim meets of the oldest take time, but it's time I'm happy to spend. Taking the youngest to his many trial sessions is also fun, though I do wish he'd find something he loved.
  • Home improvement. Building, painting, gardening, etc. It's all worth the time, and I spend more time doing that these days as well.

All of those are true, but none of them are the real reasons. I haven't finished anything, because I'm stuck in my head. I keep evaluating if what I'm doing is "right" or if I could sell it. There's really no room for that. I'm not saying in some artistic purity sense. More that, for me, getting stuck in that place never works. I'm a tinkerer and self-doubter. Nothing's ever right, and if I add other dimensions to the decision, it's just more things that I can't decide.

Two guys, Brian Lindenmuth and David Cranmer, have seen the back and forth, commit-backout mess that I can be. I'm sorry to you both. Neither of you ever expressed any frustration, but I know how I am. 

For me, for now, self-publishing is the answer. Really for all the wrong reasons. I need to be able to mess with something any time. New cover. New description. A new edit. New format. Whatever. Is it productive? No. Not at all. I know it. But without being able to do it, I obsess and it takes any energy left for writing and uses it up.

So, you'll see some more stuff from me up in eBook and POD. I'll finish what I can and put it up when it's ready. Sometimes it'll come down and then emerge again. Maybe different. Maybe not. 

As I said, I'm not defending this as a way to go or a good decision. It's just what I have to do at the moment.