Mathew McConaughey won an Oscar the other night for his work in the movie, Dallas Buyers Club. This isn’t news at this point, so let’s move on to speech he gave. It was a speech that I found to be rather peculiar.
Mr. McConaughey rattled off three things that he needed every day. And then he ended the speech with a quote from Dazed and Confused, which I personally considered one of his finer roles. All in all though, the speech left me a little confused and wondering if he and Gary Busey have been spending a lot of time together.
I’m not here to discuss or judge the merits of that speech other than to draw attention to one of his three needs. He mentioned he needs someone to aspire to be. The target of that need is himself, 10 years in the future. It sounded a little cheesy to me in the speech, but the important part is the recognition of what potential the future holds and the fact that with hard work and hope can make for a great tomorrow.
For example, two days ago I would never have guess that my futuristic sci-fi book, Vitalis, would shoot from being in Amazon’s 18,000 – 19,000 ranking to being 2,412 this morning when I woke up. A book about the future with a bright future. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now my book and Mathew McConaughey have nothing in common beyond that tenuous line of logic, but if he wanted to pick a character to portray in a movie of the book, well, I would be open to talk about it. We could even call it the Vitalis Buyers Club…
Jokes aside, I’m very excited to see Vitalis doing so well. So I’m writing this, to try and convince other people to go and check it out and share my excitement with me. Readers write me about the Vitalis books and I love discussing the story with them. In fact, there’s been a few times where I’ve had new ideas, twists, and even characters arise from those discussions. And for only $.99 for a novel that’s well beyond 100,000 words, how can you go wrong?
So please, give it a look and some honest consideration. Vitalis has metric tons of fast paced excitement involving pirates, aliens, a new world, insufficient resources (including clothing, in some cases), politics, intrigue, and even a few crazy people. And unlike a lot of sci-fi the science isn’t there to be the story, it’s there to sit in the background, be cool, and allow the story to take place. As a few readers have said, Vitalis is a great intro into a genre (sci-fi) that they never had any interest in before.
After I wrote Black Widow, the fourth book in The Lost Girls series, I did everything short of promise that I wouldn’t write another. That bothered a lot of people – they wanted more. The main character had been a part of my life (fictitiously speaking) for several years now and I couldn’t subject her to the kind of hurt that a main character goes through.
Then I came up with another idea. I’d closed a few chapters in Katalina’s life and didn’t want to make it any worse for her. But damn it, this new idea…it needed her to make it work. So Katalina came out of retirement for Guardian, book 5 in The Lost Girls series.
Having confessed all of that, I’m not the one with the good intentions gone bad. It’s actually the premise behind the book. There’s somebody who means the best and wants to help out, but they don’t realize the consequences of their actions until it’s too late. Forty years too late.
Here’s the blurb, cover, and all that jazz but before I get to it the obvious question is: what’s next? Will there be a Lost Girls 6? I can’t say. About the same time I thought of the idea for this story I was trying to come up with an idea for some detective agency based fiction. I thought of a bunch of young people trying to both atone for their own screw-ups as well as learning how to get by and do a little good in the process. Katalina would make an excellent mentor, if not a main character. Guardian sets the stage for that with Katalina and Skyler’s second chance home for troubled foster kids.
Kobo / Sony (coming soon)
iTunes (coming soon)
I was doing something earlier today that involved writing down information on some of my books and checking for reviews and ratings. I was curious on how many I had on a few books because I’m considering some advertising that requires minimum numbers of reviews and ratings on the books being listed. To that end, I’m also hoping to ramp up some reviews rather quickly on my next new release, Guardian.
And since I mentioned it, if you’re a fan of the Lost Girls series and want a pre-release copy of Guardian in exchange for a review being posted on Amazon’s US site when it launches, let me know. I’ll happily hook you up. This, however, is not the reason for my blog post.
So back to this morning when I was checking reviews on my Wanted series. Accidentally I happened to glance at a couple. Really, it was an accident – I didn’t mean to and I didn’t read the entire thing. But what I fixated on was someone bashing the book for the open minded attitude the characters had about sexuality at the end. Really. A novel that has practically nothing to do with sexual orientation gets picked on because a couple of characters in it happen to be confused about their own orientation and / or sexuality. Seriously, WTF?
It made me think though. Not about gay rights, straight rights, or any of that stuff. As far as I’m concerned people can do whatever the hell they want as long as they stay off my lawn when they’re doing it. Want to marry someone of the same sex? Good luck! Seems like half or more marriages don’t fare well these days, regardless of the plumbing (mine is doing awesome, by the way).
What it made me think about was whether a lot of the characters in my books are too open minded. Am I driving away readers because I have a subconscious agenda I’m not aware of? I think the world would be a lot better off if we stopped worrying about who was screwing who and what sort of positions and / or assistance they needed to do it. Just the same that I think we should stop worrying about which flavor of religion our neighbors follow (and they give us the same respect).
But have I pushed people away by hinting or mentioning these things in my books? Maybe. I have one series (The Lost Girls) where the main character starts out as the kind of lesbian you have nightmares about (except she’s short and cute, but she’ll still rip your nuts off if you look at her funny). Her sexuality is integral to the story, but it’s not something that I preached or flaunted in the books. Come to think about it, I’ve probably had less flack about that series than some of my others.
In my Vitalis books, particularly the second one (Resurrection), I’ve got two gay characters that almost get hot and steamy before disaster strikes. I put them in there to prove a point, I admit. I wanted to show that yes, homosexuality is one flavor of humanity and it happens in the future just like it happens now. In short, it’s not a big deal. But I had some very upset readers because of that scene. I say shame on them, not me, but I’m biased.
What’s my point? That this is a damn shame. What’s worse is that I’ll probably try to tone down any such relationships or details like that in future books to avoid pushing readers away. I’m not happy about it on one hand, but on the other hand it helps to teach me a lesson about focusing on the story and making sure I show the characters more than I show any subtle and unknown quirks I may have about convincing people to stop being judgmental dicks. Otherwise they might wield their power of judgment against me!
Some days the art of balancing freedom of speech and creativity with the need to sell books and make a buck is harder than others. I suppose if I can get the Westboro Baptist Church to picket my funeral when I die, at least I’ll have that going for me.
Back in the early 90s I was a huge fan of the roleplaying game, Shadowrun. I dabbled once or twice in a similar game, Cyberpunk, as well. For those that don’t know (and don’t feel bad, I don’t expect many do), both games are near future science fiction that offers a dystopian society with the heroes being people that have learned to merge man and machine. Not quite Terminator-esque, more Robocop.
So what the heck does that have to do with anything? Well, I’ve been hankering lately to dig into something like that. I’ve dabbled in my Lost Girls series and in my Wanted series (which I’m currently writing book 4 on). But I think my next one is going to be something brand new. As in, a brand new series in a setting that has some similarities to it.
I haven’t worked out any details yet, but I’ve been debating if I want to go into a new fantasy series or something new and science fiction. I’m thinking I really want to go for the sci-fi cybernetically enhanced stuff. One or two books there and then perhaps onto the fantasy stuff. I still owe my readers a new Voidhawk book too. Hmm… the ideas are a popping now!
What’s brought this about? Well, as I’ve been talking, I’ve been studying books and sales and all the data I’ve gathered so far (over 10k records now). I’m seeing some impressive numbers in the sci-fi and fantasy lists. Numbers that, dang it, I’d like to hit. I don’t have the marketing or promo savvy to get my name out there worth a darn, nor the money to pay for getting it done. The alternative then is to just write my butt off and get more books out there. Of course a little word of mouth wouldn’t hurt either (wink, wink).
And reviews. How the heck do people have so many !@%^ing reviews on their books? I’ve got a few acquaintances / friends in the fantasy genre that have dozens or reviews or more on their books and they’re doing far better than I am. I know they aren’t buying reviews either, so I have to ask what the heck? Granted, they sell 10 – 20 copies / day than I do of most of their books.
Ah well, I’m grateful for what I get and I’ll keep pushing for more. Couple more days, hopefully by the end of this week, and Guardian (book 5 in the Lost Girls series) will be out. Then before the end of next month I hope to book 4 in the Wanted series out (no title yet).
And I still have a lot of data that’s crunching. Over 10,000 books on file so far. One of these days soon I should be able to make some sort of sense out of it. Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing it (or something else terribly interesting) soon!