All Apologies Ms. Griffin

I know I’m a little behind with the blogging and this is probably old news by now but something that struck me. I understand that anyone in the public’s eye has a very unique position in that a few seconds coupled with a stupid decision can really alter their world. The problem is those decisions come so quickly, would anyone of us recognize one? I know I’ve made a flippant remark or two that I later regretted. The benefit of someone in my case is my circle is so small that remark disappears. Even should I post a picture, my level of celebrity is such that seconds later that picture is swallowed up and lost to the cacophony of the Internet. That may not always be true. I guess a part of me should hope to be so famous that my stupid decisions become news worthy and set off a flood of commentary. Oh the things I could say. In the end, though, stupidity shouldn’t be front page, or even third screen news. Wouldn’t that be a great word to live in? I know I’m a dreamer, but then again wasn’t the Internet created by a bunch of dreamers?

 

Insta-mess

I came across this article in my news feed the other day. I admit when it comes to making money off of social media, the whole advertiser, influence gig is a bit of a mystery to me. Personally I can’t imagine anyone being interested in what I am doing but apparently others are and there is money to be made. A lot of money, and when there is a lot of money at stake the game is on. However, once you let the monster out it is not easy to get it back in the cage. Instagram Created a Monster: A No B.S. Guide to What’s Really Going On.

As I said, some of this was familiar to me and and some I had no clue about. I know many make a living on social media and every time I think about it I get that Dire Straits song, Money for Nothing, stuck in my head. But I guess it’s not nothing, a lot of money is spent on getting the word out to people, no matter what the word is, or who the people are, or where it’s coming from. As an unknown writer, (an undiscovered talent I would add), I know I have to reach as many possible readers as I can. Social media is the vehicle to do that, engaging content is the way. But when you don’t have anything, and just abuse the system to make a buck it hurts everyone. When it looks like the system is designed to be abused, well, then everyone looks silly.

It’s Phoenix Comicon Time Again

The Phoenix Comicon 2016annual high time for nerds in the valley has arrived, and in a couple of days I will be with my better half at the Phoenix Convention Center for all the nerdy goodness on display. I always have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand I want to have fun and the freedom to go to all the panels and sessions I can squeeze in. On the other hand I feel like I’m passing up the best opportunity of the year to make contacts, fans, and sell some books. Conventions of any size can be a great opportunity, but they can also be an expensive one. For one the size of Phoenix Comicon you’re looking at a table costing around $500. That’s why many of my author friends chip in and combine their books to cut that cost down and take turns staffing the table.

Having a place to sell your books is only one part of the experience. Conventions are a great time to network with other authors. I’ve done this a bit at Phoenix, but overall it is not a very good venue for self-published authors. For one it’s hard to fight for visibility among all that bombards attendees. Another is the company that runs the convention does not offer any panels on self-publishing, nor are self-published authors asked to contribute as at other smaller conventions. On the other hand the excitement of the place always rekindles a spark of creativity that keeps me writing through the dog days of an Arizona summer. So if you’re in town maybe I’ll see you there.

Amazon Adds 3rd Parties to the Buy Button

So today while browsing the news feeds, I came across this article. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/73542-new-amazon-buy-button-program-draws-ire-of-publishers-authors.html

On the one hand Amazon makes money no mater who sells what, so I don’t see this being something they will lose any sleep over. Used content sales have been a bane of all publishers whether, music, movies, or books. The one thing that publishers don’t seem to get that maybe Amazon does is that my spending $5 on a used copy is no indication that I would ever spend $14 on a new copy of anything. It doesn’t work that way, all the time. Yes, most people, if given the option would go the cheapest route, but that is not always the case either.

Yet, I do see where the fear of confusion comes in. Go to Amazon now and do a search for Nintendo Switch and you’ll find a list of ones for sale all at prices well in excess of the SRP of $300. These are all third party sellers because Amazon doesn’t have  a unit to sell, (as I write this). These buyers all, bring their their own policies and track records apart from Amazon. The current expectation is that when you hit that buy button you are making the purchase from Amazon. Will that always be the case? Will buying on Amazon become more involved as you have to wade through a laundry list of buying options and prices, some with shipping, some with no shipping? It’ll be enough to make you go outside to go shopping. Only time will tell. Rest assured if it doesn’t make money for Amazon we won’t have to deal with it for too long.

Why I Bought an iPad

vinny's ipadAnyone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of Android devices. My last five smartphones and two tablets were all running under Google’s green bot. My first tablet, however, was an iPad and while I liked it, I never felt like it was more than a device to play games and media on. One problem was it had to constantly be connected to a computer running iTunes to add anything to it. Call me lazy but I just don’t like plugging my stuff into computers. Fast forward to a weekend ago.

My current tablet, a Galaxy Note 2104 edition was beginning to show it’s age. I could not fit any more apps on it and it was needing daily charges. My wife and I stopped into a Best Buy to look at the new Samsung S3. I was anticipating the release of this latest slab and liked the look of it, the screen was gorgeous, and things responded with a zip my old tablet could not match. The only problem was the price. It was $600. My feeling is that a tablet should be under $500. Anything more than that and I can buy a laptop. I understand that premium tablets like the S3 carry a premium price but for me I am not comfortable paying $600 for a tablet. My wife then suggested I go look at the iPads, or as she put it, “the dark side.”

Turns out that I was able to get a brand new 2017 version iPad for $430. That’s $130 less than the S3 and even $30 less than Amazon was selling those iPads for. It has 128GB of storage which is twice what the S3 offers and is just a quick to bring up apps or load web sites. Best of all I can do everything I need to without plugging the iPad into iTunes. It even wirelessly transferred over stuff from my Galaxy Note. Naturally, I spent the first night with it loading all of Google’s apps, which work perfectly. Several games I had been playing on the Note came over as well and I could continue right where I was and with the new screen they look even better. I synced up all my cloud storage apps and loaded Microsoft Word so I’m able to continue on with my writing, which I do mostly on my tablet. While Android tablets tend to be looked on as cheaper than and almost iPads, something which I think is unfair, when Android tablets begin out pricing iPads with the same performance manufacturers have a problem. I still think the best tablet is the one that does everything you need at the price you are comfortable with. For me in this current generation that happened to be the iPad, now perhaps in 2 or 4 years down the road I will switch back to an Android powered slab.

Marvel’s Problem With Diversity

Marvel’s attempt to blame flagging sales of their comics on the move to diversify their characters met with some interesting responses across the Internet, but I think this one from Nerdist.com typifies it the best. I think Marvel finds itself in a very peculiar and unique position. The thing to remember about their comics is that they are what they were. By that I mean they were, for lack of better terms, the escapist pastime of many young white males, (and a few females). We cannot go back and time and change these characters. They are who they were 40, 50 years ago when they sprung forth from multi-colored panels. I grew up with a special connection to Marvel comics as my grandfather Vince Alascia was an artist at Marvel and worked on Captain America in the 40’s. As such I grew up with many of these characters and can honestly say I remember them as all white males. With one exception, The X-Men, who would become my favorite.

That is not to say that moving to a more diverse universe is a problem. It isn’t, as long as the stories are delivered in way that maintains the same quality of writing. A big component of that quality is a sense of authority. This is what the link above from Nerdist.com cites as Marvel’s real reason for flagging sales. I’m not as into Steve Rodgers as I am an intense super soldier with uncommon bravado and sense of right. As long as the writing conveys that I know I’m reading Captain America. However if instead I get a focus group designed cardboard cutout I’m not going to be happy, or reading for that matter. Yet you do not have to wade too deep into the Internet to find fans of the mindset that do not appreciate a female Iron Man or an African American Spiderman. The odd thing is if a superhero is an archetype as long as the writing is consistent and remains true to the character then gender, skin color, or country of origin are immaterial.

 

Where’d the Discourse Go

I’ve been doing some interesting reading this week that had me thinking. Music used to be a communal experience. Whether it was a guy with an acoustic guitar, or a boom box, music was a shared experience. Now it is pumped directly into listeners’ brain cavities through thin white wires that go into a pocket somewhere. Then there are the serious head hugging Princess Leia cans. You know you’re into your beats with a pair of those. People aren’t sharing their music any more, that got me thinking.

This post isn’t about music. Another story I read was about Facebook’s attempt to incorporate their messaging app’s bubble style into the comments part of posts. This is an attempt, on their part, to engage people to comment and reply more. This is really where I wanted to go and put two and two together. In the months leading up to the inauguration and even the election itself, Facebook posts filled with a back and forth that became heated at times and at other times managed to reach a general consensus. Recently I’ve noticed a definite lack of that. It is almost as if both sides have retreated to their corners, put their blinders on, and plugged their ears. They even have cute names for each other, fascists and snowflakes. There was a time when you could count on the common ground of facts to reign in the debate, but even that is no longer true. Our facts, like our music, are whatever we pump into our brain cavities. In the recent past we would stand in our corners and shout at each other. Now it appears the fog of war is so thick we don’t even see the opposite corner anymore. I am guilty of this too and it bothers me.

The scary part is, if debate is the foundation of an effective democracy, and we no longer have that, how much longer can we expect to have democracy.

It’s the Details That Will Wreck You

via GIPHY

I hate it when I’m enjoying a really good book only to have the whole thing marred by a really foolish mistake. Without going into the title of the book in question, the part I’m talking about is a rescue of the main characters who’ve been tied up in a building about to be demolished. The rescuer uses a piece of glass from one of the windows to cut the ropes. There is only one problem. When a building is going to be demolished all of the window glass is removed to prevent a wave of shattered glass tearing across the city. Now, I cannot fault the writer and editor, who may or may not know that fact, but I can wonder why he or she didn’t do some research on building demolition to make sure some curmudgeon like me doesn’t come up and say, “well you know…” So let this be a cautionary tail, even if your book isn’t about building demolition make sure you get the real life stuff accurate.