Trying Out ScribeFire Next

As you know, my beloved and I are avid users and proponents (evangelists, some might say) for Windows Live Writer. If you’re on Windows and you have a blog, you need that software. It’s the single best blogging tool available to mankind, bar none.

But, like the sleazy, smarmy jackass I am, I can’t remain faithful. I have to check other things out. I may never actually use those things, but I like to know about them.

If you check out my Software Reviews page, you’ll find ScribeFire there. I wrote that post a long time ago, and ScribeFire’s been through a lot of changes since then. So when I saw my wife installing it for FireFox 5, I knew something was up.

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Let Me Out

We rented Let Me In this past weekend, and I have to tell you, it didn’t disappoint me.

Let me elucidate.

I expected to be let down. Whenever I hear “remake” – in any of its various forms, such as “re-imagining” or “updating” – I know it’s going to suck. The original movie sets a standard, the actors define the roles, and stuffing someone else in them is a mistake.

So when I stuck the disc into the player, I knew I’d be let down… IF I continued to compare it to the original movie which spawned it, Let the Right One In.

American movie makers have resorted more and more often to re-doing foreign films which they see as successful and with market potential. The Ring, One Missed Call, The Grudge, and many others – particularly in the horror genre, by the bye – have all been redone from, in the case of the films mentioned, the Asian market (Japan and Korea, most notably). I’m sure movie-savvy folk could prattle off a bunch more titles, but suffice to say, the success of Let the Right One In worldwide guaranteed it would be “re-imagined” here in the US. By a hack company (in this case, it was actually Hammer Studios, masters of the vampire genre but without a title since 1976). And with actors who simply can’t do it as well.

There was a delicate sense of innocence to the original movie which is missing from the new one. That innocence lends an air of creepiness to it. While the new movie certainly didn’t lack for effects, it did lack heart. And it lacked the storytelling communication skills of the first film, too. We get a genuine picture of the characters in that one; we get some of the essential backstory; we understand them and feel for them and can sympathize if not empathize. Not so with the new movie. At least not in my opinion.

And yet, as ballyhooed as it was, how could it do anything BUT fail? The expectations and build-up were just too much to ask of any movie, IMO. They raised the hopes of movie goers to levels no movie could have delivered, I think. But knowing the first film set the bar that high makes it so much more wonderful. If you’ve not seen it yet – and the genre isn’t off-putting for you – give Let the Right One In a view on a Friday night. But if you’re interested in seeing Let Me In, I’d do that first. Just sayin’.

Have a good one.

-JDT-

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

Lunatic Ravings

I read an article over on Writer Beware! about Amazon reviewers ripping books with a one-star rating because they didn’t like the publisher’s eBook pricing policy.

They went out to Amazon.com and left scathing reviews on an author’s piece of work, a chunk of their life, because the reader didn’t like the price.

I can’t wrap my mental arms around that at all. Not at all. This is similar to my buddy Yellowcat (with whom I don’t always agree) receiving bad tips because the restaurant is too cold, or too hot, or isn’t decorated the right way, or the food was late coming out, or for any other reason she can’t control.

Unless the book is self-published (and these aren’t, these are major authors from major publishing houses), the author has no control, at all, over the price of their eBook. None. Zero. The publishers set that, and they often get backlash from Amazon about the policy too.

The embattled publishers unanimous cry is “We’re a business too! We have to recover our cost no matter the book’s format! Have mercy! Pay our prices! Don’t let big mean Amazon bully us into reasonable pricing! Costs! COSTS! We HAZ DEM!” But Joe Konrath did a pretty scathing job of dismantling those claims on his blog, and no one can say he doesn’t know what the publishing industry is like, because he was a relatively successful mid-list author for a long time before he jumped to self-publishing eBooks and blowing the industry away. Check out his blog if you’re curious: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

As a self-publisher, if your eBook is priced out of the market with other books like it, or the general consumer doesn’t find your talent level worth the ask price of your product, then you’re not able to deflect those one-star ratings you get. You earned them. But if you’re a publishing house author who can’t control their own title, never mind pricing, what can you do in defense of your work? How can you stop your book from sinking like a Bumpy Brownfish to the bottom of the toilet?

This is yet another reason why I don’t like the gatekeeper system for publishing, why I think eBooks can and SHOULD extinct that model if not its self-aggrandized and self-important, overly-subjective POS archaic industry as a whole. I hope it does, actually. I’m not afraid of the gatekeeper system, but I’m not the huge proponent of it I used to be, either. And I don’t need it for validation of my ability anymore. Why should I? All that means is that a few opinions – nothing more – of my work aligned to get me on a shelf somewhere and the publicity and marketing is still going to be largely my responsibility. Why should I do that for a paltry share of profit and a weak advance?

What do you other writers think? How about YOU, readers? Do you like having someone else determine what you can and can’t get to read, or do you want that power yourself?  And would you trash a writer because of a policy of a publisher the way these readers have?  or would you rate the book rather than the publisher on the book site?

Sound off, let me know, and most of all have an awesome weekend!

God bless you all,

-JDT-

©DarcKnyt All rights reserved

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Breaking News Update!

Good news, everyone! My book is now available for download on Amazon.com’s Kindle store!

Here’s the link! A Fine Cast of Characters.

If you have a Kindle and are so inclined, please feel free to buy a copy. 😉 (J/K … mostly.) Please tell anyone you know with a Kindle about the book, and if you/they enjoy it, please leave a nice review. 😉

Other eReader versions will be available if Smashwords EVER finalizes the release. More on that as it’s available.

Woo hoo! Finally! 🙂 Thank you to all for your support and encouragement.

Blowin’ his own HORNS

Over the weekend I did a lot reading. One of the books I’ve already told you about – Robert Jackson Bennett’s Mr. Shivers (see last post).

One of the other books is by a guy quickly becoming one of my favorite writers because of his style and strength of prose, but losing me by pushing his own … I dunno … self, I guess, in his books, on Twitter, yadda yadda yadda.

Anyway … I’m not going to talk about why I don’t like it. I will say, it’s a good strong effort, well-written, a page turner. Despite being almost 400 pages I finished it in two sittings, which is unusual for me.

The book is called Horns, and the author is Joe Hill (King).

It’s no secret I love his dad, have had a hero thing for his father since the late 70s. But Joe has won my admiration on his own merit apart from that, with his good writing and familiar style. I like how he writes, period. His first novel, Heart Shaped Box, was a pretty interesting ghost story with an un-King-like happy ending. His short story collection, Twentieth Century Ghosts, showed a huge variety of stuff and I found most of them enjoyable.

In Horns, the story starts with a strong hook – a guy is drunk and doing terrible things. Next morning he wakes up with horns on his head. Horns … like the Devil’s horns. The story is how a young man, trapped in a dead-end town with no future to speak of is haunted on the anniversary of the death of his girlfriend by memories of their romance, tragic break-up, and her rape and murder.

Joe unfolds the story in a good way, building the pressure on his protagonist in ever-mounting degrees. Before long the protagonist is finding out the Devil really is in the details and he’s finally figuring out what happened that fateful night a year ago.

Halfway through the novel, the timeline changes to his first encounter with his sweetheart ten years earlier. We meet the other key players in the events, and for a while we stay in tight third person with the protagonist. But at another point, we shift POV to another character and we learn more about why things went the way they do. In the end, there’s the final confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist and it’s sort of a role reversal because the protagonist is the one who looks like Satan.

Not an OTTBF*, and I thought just a hair anticlimactic, considering everywhere Joe might’ve gone with the book, but it was still mostly satisfying.

Once again, it’s full of things which made me roll my eyes and snicker (the theology in it is absolutely hysterical), but I really liked the style and the ease of the read. It went down smooth and warm, like a fine sherry.

So, I recommend it. I give it four out of five stars, but then, I’m partial to the Kings. 😉

-JDT-

* – Remember, this is Over The Top Big Finish; when a book, movie or play goes way too far, way to farcical, in an attempt to create that big-bang ending. I don’t like ‘em.