It’s official. I have to eat my own words because I’m now “selling” my dark fantasy ebook “Drasmyr” for free. Yep. I took the leap… or I fell on my own sword, I don’t know which. I’ve written a number of blogs on the changes ebook publishing are bringing to the industry. “Oh no!” I said. “Free ebooks are going to force all the other books out of production. Why pay five dollars for any ebook, when you can get something of comparable value for free?” I gloomily prophesied the imminent end of writing and publishing as the tsunami of free books forced down the prices of all books everywhere until profit margins shrank to nonexistent levels and the entire publishing industry collapsed in on itself. Well, I’m still waiting for that to happen; well, not eagerly.
Anyway, I guess it’s a question of branding. And the brand of an author is his (or her) name. I’m a beginning author. “Drasmyr” is my first fantasy book. At the moment, no one on the planet knows who Matthew D. Ryan is. And it’s my job to change that. The theory behind giving a book away for free is to develop a following. The first book acts as the hook; the rest of the series is where you will make your money (I hope). I spent several months trying to “sell” my book, but sample downloads were few, and actual purchases were even rarer. In the beginning, I was hell-bent against giving my book away for free. I mean, I had literally spent years slaving away, writing the best book I possibly could and now you expect me to hand the product of all that labor away for free? No way! I thought. By the time month four of sales had rolled around, however, my perspective on the matter had changed. I see now, that it’s not enough just to write a good book, you need exposure. And the best way to get exposure is to remove as many barriers to purchase the item in question as you can. The biggest barrier is price. Hence, I cut the price to zero. The number of downloads is increasing—not as quickly as I’d like, but it’s a positive sign.
This approach is more effective when you are writing a series. People are more likely to buy your next book, if they are already invested in the characters and plot that has come before. Fortunately, since “Drasmyr” was always intended as the prequel of a four book series, that’s a plus for me. I look forward to publishing the next book and actually charging money for it (Let’s hope the entire industry doesn’t collapse in the interim).
The movie “Brave” is Disney’s Pixar’s latest filmmaking venture. It is basically a computer animation that tells the story of a young woman—a Scottish princess, actually—who is going through the typical teen troubles that have become the common fare of Hollywood. The difference being this story is set in medieval Scottland. At least, I think it’s medieval times: the characters are armed with bows and swords and axes, they are ruled by kings and queens, and they tell stories of close encounters with over-sized bears.
The plot revolves around the betrothal of the young woman (for the life of me, I can’t remember her name—I should, but I had an ear infection when I saw the movie, and they were talking in those fierce Scottish accents anyway). As was common in earlier times, the girl’s parents—the Scottish king and queen—are in the process of arranging her marriage. Basically, they want to hold an athletic contest of some sort, where the firstborn sons of the three other Scottish lords are to compete for her hand. She will wed the victor, or so her parents think. I think her name is “Merriada” or something like that. I’ll call her “M” for short. M wants nothing to do with any of her suitors. She’s a typical teenager hell-bent on living her life as she wants to, not as her parents want her to. So she takes steps to thwart her parents’ wills, some of which prove more disastrous than others. She encounters powerful bears, a clever witch, and a number of mystical wil-o-wisps.
Overall, I thought it was a decent movie, but I thought the message was muddled. She goes through her trials and tribulations which were basically a result of her own doing. Her goal is good—she simply wants a say in her own marriage—but she nearly gets her mother killed by her shenanigans. The conflict between what her mother wants and what she wants is only resolved when her mother changes her mind. And I don’t think that transition was handled well—it was cute, but it lacked something. Finally, I’ve noticed a trend in some of the more recent Disney movies. They seem to be getting darker and darker, as if they are forgetting that their primary audience is very young children. This one wasn’t too bad, but there were scenes with skulls and a battle with a very powerful bear that ended with a dead animal. Plus, the looming presence that M might lose her mother might be a bit too much for the very young. Still, it was a good, if not spectacular, movie.
I’ll give it three and a half—maybe even four—stars out of five stars.
I had low expectations for the movie “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” because of several movie reviews I read that gave it a less than stellar recommendation. And besides, the concept is just so plain silly, how can you expect a great movie from that? I mean, really? Abraham Lincoln? As a vampire hunter?
Well, it’s an original concept, I’ll give it that. I’ve heard the book is really good, and if I had the time, I might actually read it. Anyway, back to the movie. This film tells the story of our sixteenth President, but with a few extra tweaks. Apparently, unbeknownst to us all, good old Honest Abe spent a considerable amount of time hunting vampires in his youth. It begins with the vampire that murdered his mother. Bent on revenge, Abe tries to kill the man with a normal gun, whereupon he has his rear-end handily handed to him by the creature in a fight that nearly costs Abe his life. I’ll leave it there, because I don’t want to spoil too much. Anyway, Lincoln moves to Illinois and takes up hunting vampires as a lifelong vocation. But he soon realizes that the vampire menace is too pervasive for a single man to deal with it alone. This leads him to politics, and on to the Presidency, and on to the Civil War.
I have two major concerns with the movie. First, there was a certain lack of cohesiveness to it. The beginning was decent enough. I was intrigued by the vampire hunting and his life in Springfield, but after that, there seemed to be a kind of disconnect with the events of the Civil War. I kind of have the feeling that it would have worked better as a mini-series on TV, because the scope of events was too grand. But that, of course, would be ridiculous. My other concern is something of a moral one. Slavery is such a repugnant practice, injecting vampires into the war that won the slaves their freedom seems to minimize the significance of that war and all that transpired because of it. I’m not sure you really want to do that. It’s a sensitive issue, and not one that sits well with dark humor.
Still, I found the movie enjoyable, if not perfect. I’ll give it three and a half stars.