Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More and More Numbers and another Milestone

Guns don't kill demons—but they sure help!
Yes.  Finally.  Here it is. Tears of Heaven has hit 100!

To be exact 101 sales!

Here are the numbers for those of you keeping score at home.

Books Sold
Running Total
4 Quarter 2013
1 Quarter 2014
2 Quarter 2014
3 Quarter 2014
4 Quarter 2014
1 Quarter 2015

This year, 2015, has already been remarkable.  The next installment of Del’s and Marrin’s story, Hell Becomes Her is currently with my editor.  She’s saying some very nice, positive things, which means the book is moving right along in the publishing process. 

Tears of Heaven continues to receive praise from all quarters.  The novel was the winner of the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll for Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel and an Epic eBook Award FinalistHell Becomes Her is a much more mature effort by your friendly, neighborhood author.  My Beta team all had great things to say about it, and it reflects some real growth from me as a writer.

Tears of Heaven was originally envisioned as the stand-alone story of Del, a half-angel/half mortal Nephilim who wended and wound her way through history.  In the past, she was a force to be reckoned with, she laughed, and fought, and loved and was filled with joy.  In the present, she’d become bitter, angry and scarred, but she remained as dangerous as ever.  How she transformed, how she grew and continued to grow, is the story of Tears of Heaven.  There was also a lot of sword and gun play.  How she continues to move forward, how she is becoming more than herself and prospering, that’s the story I’ve found in Hell Becomes Her.

I’m sure that I’ll offer this all up again toward the end of the year, but thank you to everyone who has made this all possible.  There are far too many to name, but anyone who follows this blog, anyone who offered me early assistance, and of course, anyone who has read the book—Thank you.

Thanks you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Huns are Coming!

“You know who else liked dogs?  Adolph Hitler, that’s who!”

As the wheels of politics grind steadily forward, and the 2016 presidential campaign begins to warm
Hitler Cat looks like Hitler, and must therefore be stopped!
up, it’s clear we’re going to start seeing the old memes with a fresh veneer.  Chief among them, an oldie but a moldy, the Hitler/Nazi parallel argument.  It’s so old that we can trace it back to the pre-Mad Men times of 1951 when philosopher Leo Strauss (a conservative, by the way) coined the term “Reductioad Hitlerum”.  The dog Latin reflects the fallacious reasoning that occurs when a position, any position (seriously, any position), is compared to that held by Hitler or the Nazi Party, and therefore is wrong, bad and/or evil.

The argument is so tiresome that it received a second summarization in 1990 by Mike Godwin who coined Godwin’s Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

The fallacy is not only ludicrous, it’s also ludicrously dangerous.  It does nothing to advance a discussion, it does everything to shut down an exchange of ideas, and it belittles the horrors suffered during the Holocaust/Shoah.  This isn’t a matter of simple semantics, but of the specifics of the parallel being drawn to Hitler and the Nazi party.  Not every time, mind you, but about 99.44% the “argument” is an overly simplistic parallel, generally based on a loose link that immediately creates a false dichotomy of arguments: Us (good guys) vs. Them (bad guys).

Hitler Dog is cure, therefore your argument is invalid.
It’s so simplistic that we can apply it to just about anyone.  For example, the Nazi Party’s 25-Point Program, which helped usher them into power, stood on various planks held in common with the current Republican Party (hold those hate mails, conservatives, the liberals have theirs coming).  This includes point #11 “Abolition of unearned incomes.”  Essentially, what Republicans define as “entitlements”.  From the 2012 Republican Party Platform we can read about the evils of “entitlements” no less than nine times, where they also call for their abolition.

In addition, there are these lovely gems:

Point #16, “We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation . . .”
Point # 7 “We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible. . . . then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.”
Point #23 “We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press.”
Point # 24 “We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race.”

From all of this, we could make the overly simplistic statement that Republicans are Nazis because they hold these five planks (at least) in common with our jack-booted friends. But let’s not stop there.  There are twenty-five of these planks too choose from, and my mother always taught me waste not, want not.  So, for my good friends in the Democratic Party, don’t start throwing those swastikas ninja stars at your political enemies just yet.  Remember your own Nazi Party parallels:

Point #9 “All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.”
Point #14 “We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.”
Point #15 “We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.”
Point #20 “The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program . . .”
Point #21 “The State is to care for the elevating national health . . .”

Gasp!  That’s five planks that align perfectly with the Democrats.  Now should we go forward and draw the conclusion that anyone affiliated with the donkey is a Nazi?  What do we do about those big elephant Republicans and their evil plots to take over the tri-county area!?

Fact: 6 million Jews were murdered
Fact: 5 million other "undesirables" were also murdered
This is exactly why the Hitler/Nazi parallel argument is both foolish and detrimental to say the least.  However misguided Republicans and Democrats are (or seem to be) there are two problems with drawing an immediate parallel with the Nazis and Hitler that falls flat under even the most rudimentary of observations.  Republican/Democratic political agenda and social philosophy has nothing to do with those that drove Hitler and the Nazi Party.  Absolutely nothing.  Hitler’s regime was one based on fear and hatred.  It delved deep into the human psyche, dredged up naked filth, and weaponized it to seize power.  Hitler and the Nazis pointed the finger at ethnic and religious groups, claimed those groups were the root cause of all the country’s ills, and then actually went forward and acted on that concept, killing millions.

So yes, folks, if you’ve used, endorsed, or shared a Hitler/Nazi parallel, most likely you have oversimplified the matter, which has nothing to do with you being a simple man with simple thoughts and writing simple words.  This is exactly why, 99.44% of the time, any link between Hitler or the Nazis is completely irrelevant to an honest discussion on politics and society (or dogs).  The true issues are only being linked by seeming parallels, usually a similar quote or a chance similarity in images, and not by any kind of review of historical underpinnings based on stated political agenda and the driving social philosophy.

Don't even bother arguing with these children. Don't.
Those things, of course, require effort.

There are still times when a “that’s rather Nazi of you” might actually be appropriate, so here are some rules to follow when getting ready to play the Hitler card (any 3 out of 5 will do) in order to end the conversation, win the discussion, and prove your intellectual superiority:

1. Are the followers/leaders of the group admirers of Nazi principles, Fascist principles and/or Adolph Hitler?
2. Has one (or more) of the group’s leaders adopted the nickname “Hitler” as Chenjerai “Hitler” Hunzvi did?
3. Does the group promote the reading of “Mein Kampf” as a “good basis” for understanding their agenda, rather than the cautionary writings of a dark and dangerous mind?
4. Has the group attempted to diminish, deny or disregard the Holocaust/Shoah, or defend a policy of genocide? (Fact: Six million-plus Jews died.)
5. Is there a stated belief in strong, autocratic rule, while at the same time decrying a specific ethnic population (Jews, Muslims, gays, hippies, Twihards, etc.) and urging their expulsion or extinction?

Bonus points if you can get all five!

It’s not enough for an individual, group or even political party to simply want increased gun control (or gun elimination) to render them “Nazis”.  They can’t just support/criticize unions, birth control, or Rockstar Energy drinks to earn the mantle of the next Adolph Hitler.  In order for us to draw a true comparison between the historic regime of darkest, 100%, pure, unadulterated and uncut, lab-purified evil and a modern equivalent, there has to be more than just a disagreement of opposing opinions.  If you can’t say “yes” to the questions above, if it’s not a joke amongst friends, then just say “no” to the “Reductio ad Hitlerum”.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Push vs. Pull—Fight!

Absolutely NOT trick photography!

A new trend in writerly articles are now making the rounds in author groups about “Push” marketing versus “Pull” marketing and it’s throwing a lot of hard-working authors.  So let’s get down to brass tacks on this.

First, what is Push and what’s Pull marketing?

Think about it like a wagon.  You can either push the wagon or you can pull it.  The same with marketing your books.  Push, is where you’re actively engaged in directing potential readers to your work.  You use blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Ello, flyers, emails, etc.  Anything where you’re actively telling people, “Hey!  You there with the fancy credit card!  Hey!  Go buy my book!

Pull, on the other hand, is where you’re just holding the handle of the wagon, and the wagon follows you, no matter where you go or what you do.  This is done by writing a book and having the readers buy it all on their own.  You do this by writing a good book, winning awards, work word-of-mouth through book bloggers and reviews, participate on panels at conferences, etc.  Because you're so cool, your book must be cool too, so readers want to have to have itEssentially, you stand in the hall of the high school and work on your lean:

Which is better?

Well, that depends on if you’re going up the hill or coming down it, and how rocky the terrain is, how steep the path, etc.  Yeah, the metaphor is wearing out.

I get it.

Push tactics do get results, but so do Pull tactics. Both take time, effort and more time. A number of articles are putting forth the idea that there is no value in Push—that Push actually pushes readers away, because of the in-your-face style of advertising.  You know, like they do on TV, at movies, along the highways, street corners . . .

Pull those readers, ladies!
On the other hand, the idea that Pull-only is the way to go is somewhat lazy thinking. A proper mix of push-pull is how to do it.

Simply put, unless your name is King or Rowling, you can’t just Pull market. When you can slap your name on a phone book and it sells, that's pulling. But to get to that point, you need to Push-Pull. There's no two ways about it. George RR Martin attends cons all the time, and he just talked in an interview with Entertainment Weekly about cancelling some so he could focus on writing.  Patrick Rothfuss blogs like a madman.  I tweet my little fingers off, so much so that sometimes it feels like a second job in itself.

No, you can't Push everyone into following you and reading you and then buying you. But you do need a core, a base, which is generally only had through Push marketing tactics.  I have 800+ followers on my Facebook author page.  But not really.  It’s probably closer to 80actual followers with the rest being reciprocal like-for-like folk.  But if eight of those like what I’m doing, they’ll tell eight people who tell eight people and eventually you're on the road to becoming a Kevin J. Anderson, able to support yourself and your family with your writing, but not really known to the masses outside your niche.

Classic Push-Pull marketing.

Now get out there and write a good book, then tell people about it.  Use all the tools that are available, find what works for you, but above all, remember to keep writing.

Keep writing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Evil Dead - Reboot

Quick!  Everyone split up!

I tried.

I really did.

I wanted to like the new version of The Evil Dead, but alas, I’ve seen Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods, and that seems to have ruined 99.44% of horror movies for me.  Not that I’m a fan of horror movies in general.  They’re generally made up of the worst clich├ęs and tropes.  When Raimi, Campbell and friends set out to make a film on a shoe-string budget, they even owned up to the fact that a horror movie was the easiest with the best profit margin.

Of all the horror series that I’ve watched (or made a passing attempt at) The Evil Dead is the one I’ve enjoyed the most.  It incorporates humor, snappy one-liners, and a lot of blood and gore.  It went a bit off the rails with the near farcical, but excellent, Ash v. The Army of Darkness, and I understand this reboot is supposed to link up the two worlds, but for all that, I just couldn’t get into it very much.

Watch smart, watch SMart!
Now that Raimi and friends are Raimi and friends, the production values and cinematography is much better, much less jarring.  The acting is decent, the story is fine.  It’s a worthy successor to the series.

Yet, even with a veneer of depth to the characters, the plot still revolves around a lot of folk doing really stupid things when what they should be doing is this:

Exactly.  Only a few people find a creepy, dirty, decrepit, blood-soaked cabin in the woods “romantic” or “erotic”.  The rest of us consider a hotel without room service to be “roughing it”.

I can still recommend the originals—The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead II, and Ash vs. The Army of the Darkness.  Maybe aficionados of horror will like this reboot as well.  I'm going back to my scifi/fantasy/adventure/action/humor movies.  You know, Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension.