Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Heart, I Believe His Name Is Smeaton

But they don't give his actual name.

Man Survives Fall.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Went to the launch party tonight for my friend Eilis O’Neal’s The False Princess. It’s her first novel, so it’s a special occasion. I haven’t read the book yet, but the excerpt I heard her read tonight was intriguing, something like The Prince and the Pauper with magic. Not only is she one of the nicest people I know, but she’s also a really good writer, so if you like YA fantasy, check it out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Am Tony's Complete Lack of Surprise

I usually steer clear of politics in the blog, because it raises my blood pressure and loses me friends. For instance, I stayed quiet when people, including people I know and like, were saying all sorts of insulting and ridiculously untrue things about the lack of civility on the right compared to the left after the recent shooting.

But this is just ignorant. Some of Barack Obama's supporters are complaining that there was no substantive plan for job creation in his SOTU speech last night.

Well, what did they expect? Number one, Obama's never had a substantive plan for anything. At all. His foreign policy plans have all boiled down to "I'ma talk them into stuff cause I'm, like, awesome."

And number two, he thinks he is focusing on jobs. He just doesn't know how. The boilerplate he regurgitated last night was substantially the same as the economic "recovery" plans he spouted during his campaign for President--clean energy, infrastructure, health care--with the exception that he got the health care part passed.

That's what's been so simultaneously frustrating and amusing about disillusioned moderates and independents complaining that Obama spent so much time in his first two years pushing health care and cap-and-trade instead of focusing on the economy. He was focusing on the economy.

When Obama was asked about economic issues on the campaign trail, he would inevitably end up talking about health care and clean energy as necessary prerequisites to building a stable, prosperous economy. He never really supported his contention that these things needed to be done first. He would simply say, "The first thing you've got to do..." and then go into his plans for medicine and energy and infrastructure "investments" to put the economy on a "solid foundation."

Maybe people figured he was just doing that media-consultant-driven thing where you turn any question to your big central theme, like Jack Kemp somehow turning a question on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a call for a flat tax. But I always figured that on some level, he really did believe what he was saying, no matter how stupid. What's sad for the country is that so many people were lulled by the mellow tones of his voice into ignoring the very ignorant crap he was saying.

So let's get a few things straight about Obama's nonsense. Number one, the health care law he got passed is not going to make health care better or more affordable, nor will it help the economy or job production. Even the people on his side have abandoned that fiction.

And number two, clean energy is not going to be some economic salvation, certainly not in the short term, and possibly not in the long-term either. Just the opposite, in fact. And I'm not just talking about the fact that any job gained in the "clean energy" industry is a job lost in the current petroleum and coal industries, making the whole thing a wash from the start.

Wind and solar energy are more costly and less reliable than fossil fuels, which is why they aren't more prevalent. The only way to make them cost-effective barring some amazing imaginary future technical breakthrough is to drive up the cost of fossil fuels through regulations and punitive taxation, which Obama admitted in rare moments of candor on the campaign trail. This drives up the prices of all goods and services, depresses the economy, causes more job losses. Worse still, it disproportionately hurts the poor, those downtrodden masses the left are continually throwing up as the justification for more and more government excess. The truth is, the left cares nothing about the poor except as a bludgeon to lash out at the things they're mad about.

The problem is not that Barack Obama has not been concentrating on the unemployment disaster. The problem is that he has no idea what a real job is, nor how to create one. He's like a cargo cultist, building something that looks like a runway in the jungle in the hopes that planes will land there once again. His speech last night was not an abandonment of the "laser-like focus" on jobs he's been promising every couple of months since he was sworn in. It was a demonstration of what his idea of focus on jobs looks like.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Super Movie Monday - Superman III, Part 2

Just testing the widget

State of the Site-January

So it's been a slow January for posts here, as I've been concentrating extra-hard on Hero Go Home. I'm worked ahead for two weeks on Movie Monday and about to hit a section of the novel that will allow me to reuse a lot of material from the previous drafts, because it's the big 2nd Act climax.

Still no real income from the site. I did get one donation, which was awesome, not only because of the money, but because of the validation and the sense that if one person's willing to donate, others might be, too. I tried putting up ads from Project Wonderful, but that didn't work so well; it runs on bids, and if no one bids to be on your site, you end up with a big hole on your page.

So Project Wonderful is history, and I'm back to building up traffic as I try to figure out a new approach to monetizing. The Girl Genius ads are bringing in a small, but steady amount of traffic, and a few people have actually stuck around to read some chapters, which is good. Now I just need to kick it up a level to get more eyeballs in. I'm thinking of upping my advertising budget (which would not be hard, since so far, I've spent less than $5.00), and I've also added a widget to make it easier to share the posts on social media. So if you are active on Stumbleupon or reddit or delicious or Digg, and anything I've written catches your eye, please feel free.

I'm also thinking of putting Part III behind a paywall. In other words, you can read almost 30 chapters for free, but you'll need to pay to see how it ends. Not unfair, I don't think, but when I was considering the idea before, it was all academic speculation because almost no one had read more than the first two chapters. Now a few people are reading through, so I'll see if I can't get a couple of donations for the ending.

And in the meantime, I want to put otgether some T-shirts and/or other merchandise, as well as another couple of secret projects that I'm trying to fit in around the edges for other revenue streams, and seriously, it's hard keeping my mind moving in all the many directions it needs to go at once. So not everything's getting done, which is another reason why I'm pushing to get worked ahead. I just hate the sick feeling that all this work I'm doing is never going to pay, that I'll never be good enough at this for more than five or six people to actually like it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Still Breathing

Was off-line for several days, but I'm back now. It's weird coming back after a few days away. On the one hand, I've gotten the chance to do other things that I wasn't spending time on before (I meant to get a lot more work done than I did unfortunately--instead of working last night, for instance, I ended up listening to 80's music for hours, almost like traveling back in time, and the day before that, I watched three or four crappy vampire movies from a DVD set I got for Christmas).

On the other hand, everything has piled up with amazing speed: emails, game requests on Facebook, spam comments needing to be deleted, and after only three days away, I'm almost afraid to look at the news. Is the world even the same anymore?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Breathing Room

This week's chapter in Hero Go Home was a hard one to write. As the story has been serialized, I've been made more aware week by week of the need to press forward with the plot. In the earlier drafts, not much happened in the first two thirds of the book. It was all a gradual build-up to the frantic action of the last third. In many ways, it felt like I was just padding things out, having aimless conversations while waiting for hte word count to reach the magic number where I could start the climax to Act 2.

But this time, I've been more plot focused. So much so that sub-plots that had been important got almost completely dropped. And as the characters are headed into the big action climax to Part 2, I realize that I haven't really let people get to know the supporting cast as well as I should. So I decided to write a chapter in which not much happens, but the characters get a chance to breathe and just be themselves without pressure for a while before the hammer drops.

It wasn't easy. Because even though not much happens, I still needed to weave things together and make it flow. I had to try and make it interesting, illuminating not just the characters, but the world the characters inhabit. I hope I succeeded.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010 In Review

This is not really a look at the year in any depth. More just a reflection that, my lack of submission to publications notwithstanding, I produced a hell of a lot of work last year. 33 recaps for Movie Monday (both on this blog and at Hero Go Home), along with 35 comics recaps for Out of the Vault. In addition, there were a bunch of Big Game Wednesday posts , along with almost 50,000 words of novel content for Hero Go Home, along with 21 Extras and at least 10 variations on the header image. And then there were the reviews for for a couple of months there. And of course, the radio play (or audio drama, if you want to be technical).

It's not the machine-like flood of work that some other guys are doing, but for a guy who's so far been doing it strictly for the love, as it were, it's not bad. And I'm starting to get slightly more attention. So now I'm trying to put together a more organized and disciplined approach to this year's work, so that I can get the job done better and more efficiently, and maybe coax more work out of myself (as well as plan ahead better for things like Halloween--I want this year's to be *spectacular*).

I'm not calling it a New Year's Resolution or anything like. Just a modified approach that I hope will work better than what I've been doing. Fingers crossed that it will work.

Oh yeah, and somebody actually read all the way through Hero Go Home a couple of days ago. I hope they liked it and will tell friends.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Year to Come

Cross-posting this to Hero Go Home as well, because a lot of what I'm talking about applies there.

I'm starting off the year feeling pretty energized about things. Things are coming to a head in Hero Go Home, the novel. They are about to kick into high gear in just a few weeks, and when I say high gear, I mean you haven't seen anything yet. That alien invasion back in Chapter 11? Small potatoes. Our heroes are about to get tested in a very big way, and after that... well, after that, look to Chapter 1 for a clue.

The current novel is a little over halfway done, I'm thinking, which means that it should be finished sometime in May, maybe. Since the donation model hasn't been working, I'm thinking of different ways to generate revenue. But that's contingent on getting people to actually read the story and be interested in how it turns out, which doesn't seem to be happening much. I'm getting more visitors, but not a lot of hits on the actual novel pages.

Still not sure what's to be done about that, although I may go back and revise the earlier chapters. Some chapters combine several unrelated scenes, because I wanted to provide a minimum level of content each week. I may break those down into shorter, punchier chapters. I'll also do some smoothing, because as the plot has adapted, and as I've run into deadline crunches, some chapters were rushed and are not as good as I'd like them to be.

When it's all done, though, in the second half of the year, there will be a Kindle edition with everything included, plus some extras, as well as the option of an actual dead tree edition. And I'll be starting another Digger novel, which will probably be the prose version of the aborted webcomic story from a couple of years ago. I'm hoping to actually not bog down on the damn car trip to the hotel this time. There was some funny stuff you never got to see, and some characters I really want you to meet.

And in the meantime, sometime within the first three months of the year, I'm going to be adding something new to the site. I'm not going to say what it is just yet, but it's darker than Hero Go Home and will not be serialized in the same way. Ideas are still being firmed up.

Weekly Extras are going away. I still have some Extras in the works, but trying to come up with one every week in addition to all my other obligations has resulted in some less-than-satisfactory work, in my opinion. So the Extras are to be more sporadic, but better quality.

Out of the Vault and Super Movie Monday will continue like before, though, and this year, I'm getting a little more organized and planning further ahead in the hopes of both avoiding a crunch and putting together some really special things for Halloween and Christmas. There will also be an occasional non-super movie featured on They Stole Frazier's Brain.

And that's basically it, for now. Is that a lot? It seems like a lot. And I haven't even mentioned my whole other Secret Project. Whew.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year, 2011

So I went out earlier in the week and bought some champagne, then I got invited to a party, then I bought a cigar, because I really wanted one and the two I have are both quite expensive holdovers from an earlier era and I want to save them for something special.

I went to the party and had a good time, but at some point, being the single guy (sort of) among all these couples gets sort of tiring, especially given how much everybody talks about sex, which I'm not getting any (for years now). So I left early, thinking I'd come home, pop the cork on my champagne and light my cigar and reflect on the year past and the year to come or something.

Instead, I discovered that this had finally happened, and any plans I had went out the window for a couple of hours. Mr. Plinkett is no longer the amazingly fresh thing he was, and the red meat in the reviews comes accompanied with a lot more fat than before, but still, he makes some really salient points, including some I hadn't expected. Kick ass.