Indie Author Problems

One of the activities during a class that I’m taking involved learning how to listen to people, such as not interrupting, not being on your phone while the person is speaking, and paraphrasing what the person said. The activity involved someone from the class sharing a problem or question they have while the others listened. Lucky me got “volunteered” to be the speaker.

The problem I mentioned was trying to get people to buy my books. 

People have no problem buying them when they are free, but they are unwilling to pay even $0.99 for one.

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Also, since everyone can publish through blogs or self-publishing there is a lot of noise for you to get through. You have to struggle your way through the thousands of search results and get to the top. There is the added problem of keywords or hashtags. If you choose something that is trending, you know people are searching for it, but you are just one of millions of search results. If you get something unique, you are at the top but no one is searching.

Covers are another issue. Anymore it seems like they all look alike or similar (probably because we use stock images), so it makes it hard to say, “Oh, that looks interesting or unique.” How can you stand out when you look exactly the same?

Most of the time it seems like the cover has little to nothing to do with the story. For instance, it shows an attractive male or female on the cover making some sexy or attention-getting pose. You then check out the book description and there is no mention of a male or female, depending on the cover (i.e. there’s a sexy woman on the cover but the main character isn’t even human).

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Click to go!

The other issue with covers is that there seems to be all this excitement-noise. The cover is filled with loud colors or filled with lots of action going on. You have to make your cover “loud” enough to be eye-catching, and you have to make your title large enough to be read in thumbnail form. But, sometimes, I feel like all that bam-bam,

pew, pow, look-at-me makes me tried before even picking up the book. I feel like I ran a marathon just by looking at the cover.

Trying to do writing, or any creative project, can be frustrating. You have to be like everyone else yet like no one else. You have to be the same enough to be noticed and let the audience feel like your project is safe and familiar; but also, you have to be different so people won’t say, “I’ve seen that before. It’s the same old story.”

There used to be a sense of “you scratch my back…” but many times you’ll end up helping them out through reviews or book purchases and the other person whines about helping you or simply disappears. They are more than happy to listen when it benefits them, but they vanish if they have to return the favor.

One other problem is that some people seem to think that since they are an independent creator, they can do anything they want. They can swear, have gore, or sex in a children’s book because they think they are the boss. They aren’t; the audience is.

I also find it funny when these people end up doing exactly what the big companies have always done. Why re-invent the wheel? There are some things that need or can changed but some things have been around for ages because they work. For instance, it doesn’t matter the era, customers like to be treated with respect and kindness.

Finally, thanks to technology, some know how to cheat the system by using bots or click farms to make it appear as if they’re successful. They can use bots to make their book a “bestseller” when it isn’t or make their social media post trend when no one cares. But, by making it appear like everyone cares, everyone then cares. It is kind of like The Emperor’s New Clothes; everyone said how wonderful the invisible clothes were simply because it made them look important or popular. Everyone wants to feel like they are part of the crowd, even if that crowd never existed.

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And so it is frustrating because a) something that is supposed to be artistic, entertaining, or enlightening because cutthroat and deceptive and b) here you are trying to do it the right way (being moral, using your talents, etc) you can’t compete because others can just tap a button on their phone and have machines do everything for them, which allows them to publish first or in a grander scale. Just like the shoemaker who builds each shoe can’t compete with the mass producing factory or the news media trying to compete with social media.

The most frustrating part of the activity was that I spent time coming up with my presentation and only got through a third because the people in the class kept interrupting me and not listening. Ugh!

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

What Makes a Good TMNT Movie

In a couple of videos by The Old Turtle Den, they talked about the new Ninja Turtle reboot movie. They asked what we’d like to see from it. Do we want an origin story or a story involving experienced Ninja Turtles? The question got me thinking about why I like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the first place.

When I was younger and watched the original TMNT, I wanted them to have superpowers or dive into the mystic/paranormal. But as time went on and I saw other action-adventure fantasy shows, I did not want the Turtles to have mystic abilities. I liked the fact that they battled big threats with swords and staffs.

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They were ninjas; it didn’t make sense for them to have advanced weapons. It gave the show a feeling of “with teamwork you could do anything.” You didn’t need to rely on superpowers or awesome machines to reach your goals.

I do think the Turtles should be stronger, faster, and more durable than normal humans–they are mutants–but not to the extent seen in the Michael Bay films where they were bulletproof and could throw around shipping containers. The Turtles should more dependent on their ninja skills/intelligence with the mutant side being more of an explanation as to why they can survive fights (or why turtles can move that fast).

Personally, I like that Splinter was human then become a rat. First, it helps explain the rules of the mutagen (i.e. you mix with the last animal you were in contact with–man mixed with rats or turtles mixed with man). Second, Hamoto Yoshi was in exile…for different reasons depending on the version. He is than further exiled by becoming a rat. It just added depth to the character–not only is he an outsider coming from Japan, but now he’s an animal most people think of as disgusting. It reinforces the theme of being different, not being able to be part of humanity. Splinter and the Turtles have to remain hidden not because they’re ninjas, but because they’re strange beings.

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Finally, I enjoy how the Turtles’ weapons reflect their personalities. 

Leonardo is the leader (in most versions). When we think of swords/katanas, we think of discipline and elegance or agility.

The sword is usually the first older (or low-tech) weapon people think of–it is the leader. 

Raphael has the sai. He has to get in close in order to attack (or he can throw a sai). Raphael is the brawler Turtle with a temper. He prefers to attack at very close range.

Donatello is smart and inventive. He would rather spend his time creating. It makes sense that he would attack from a distance, even further than the other Turtles. Raph’s sai can be thrown, but what good is it then; this is an intimidation technique. Donnie’s staff can be used from a distance and remain effective. Donnie is a thinker, not a fighter. I also find it ironic that the group’s inventor would have “a stick” as his weapon. This goes further into Donnie’s personality as an inventor who’s inventions sometimes don’t work out as planned; he’s smart but at times can still be silly or inexperienced. 

Michelangelo is the party dude, and the nunchaku seemed to be seen by as flashy or showy (yet still deadly). They seem to be the weapon people make the most jokes about, such as someone hitting themselves with the nunchaku. Also, people seem to think of the nunchaku as the simplest weapon or easiest to learn when in fact they are more complex. The audience, as well as the other Turtles, see Mikey as the youngest or least complex of the characters; he’s the pizza-loving, surfer dude, but maybe there’s more to him. There have been times when he’s proven to be knowledgeable with it comes to paranormal events, or when it comes time to think outside of the box.

While I prefer a non-origin story for the reboot, I hope the creators keep to the heart of the Ninja Turtles…a little serious but also not so much. They are ninjas and ninjas are assassins, but they’re also teenagers and mutant turtles. You just got to love the juxtaposition of silent, skillful ninjas and not so quiet teens.

What are your thoughts on the TMNT reboot? Who’s your favorite character, hero or otherwise? Let me know in the comments section.

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Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

Rough Draft Typing | Behind the Scenes

Today’s post is brought to you by…you. Thanks for all the likes and follows. Thanks for all the book purchases. Thank you!

Every job, or hobby for that matter, has its ups and downs. There is always that thing that makes you groan when you think about doing it. It could be having to charge the batteries to your drone’s remote or having to put up with the demands of your clients.

For me, one of things I don’t like about writing is moving my rough draft from paper to word processor. It feels like “didn’t I just do this?” I want to go on to the next chapter; see the next adventure, but you are stuck typing up what you’ve already done. Now I know you can just type a rough draft and not do a handwritten version. I’ve tried that but the story seemed to slow down as I stopped because of noticeable red lines under misspellings; I knew I had something misspelled, and I had to go back for it. Also, there are a lot of distractions on computer screens with notifications and messages.

One way to help me with the transition from notebook to computer is listening to livestreams or music.

The trouble is it matters which livestream I listen to. If the livestream is full of action, such as a superhero video game or a shooter, I spend more time watching the video than working on the book.

stampylonghead

The livestream needs to be a kind of chill one that is almost like a podcast. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, the Valorant livestream by Blitzwinger. It is a shooter game, but the match format allows me to watch one or two matches; get the idea of the game; and listen from then on.

The good news is that if a livestream is too “rowdy” for the typing period, I can always save it for a break period. The longer video format allows me to have something to watch for multiple breaks; I don’t have to keep trying to figure out what I want to watch.

Ironically, if I’m listening to music while typing, it is the opposite. I need to listen to upbeat or thrilling music, much like “Hero of Our Time” by NateWantsToBattle or “Build Our Machine” by Dagames.

What are some of the downsides of your favorite hobby or job? How do you cope with them? Let me know in the comments section.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!


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The Last of the SpongeBobs | Video Games

If you’re like me and enjoy video games but also don’t have a lot of money to spend on them, you can check out some of these YouTube videos. All of them are pretty good and you’ll get a general idea of the game so that you can talk to your friends about the games and not feel left out.

These are not the only ones; these are just to get you started and give you the idea of what is possible.


The Last of Us Part II

With Commentary

The Last Of Us 2 PART 1 Gameplay WALKTHROUGH – 3 HOURS! (Last Of Us II-Last of Us Part 2 Commentary) by GhostRobo

THE LAST OF US 2 Walkthrough Gameplay Part 1 – INTRO (Last of Us Part 2) by theRadBrad

No Commentary

THE LAST OF US 2 Gameplay Walkthrough Part 1 [4K PS4 PRO] – No Commentary (FULL GAME) by MKIceAndFire

Selected Cutscenes

All Joel and Ellie Playing Guitar Scenes (The Last Of Us 2) 1440p by Gamer’s Little Playground


SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom–Rehydrated

With Commentary

SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated – Part 1 – Shiny Things Everywhere! by Blitzwinger

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!


My merch store is finally open! You can buy spiral notebooks, stickers, t-shirts, and facemasks with images designed by me. More to come!

Playing with the WordPress Ratings Block

So, WordPress added a star rating block to their editor. 

Time to test it out.

Disney’s Sorcerer’s Arena 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Scoob!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Minecraft Dungeons

MKIceAndFire

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My hype for the 1990’s TMNT cast reunion/30 year celebration

Rating: 5 out of 5.

NASA discovering a parallel world

IGN

Rating: 7 out of 7.

Finding out that NASA really hadn’t discovered a parallel world

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Skitter Comics is no longer locked/banned by Twitter

Rating: 4 out of 5.

COVID-19

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

You going to Smashwords and purchasing one (or more) of my books during the Authors Give Back Sale (ends May 31)

Rating: 10 out of 10.

That was fun; it’ll make doing reviews easier. It’d be nice if it could allow the reader to rank things, such as the post itself–but I guess that’s what likes and comments are for.

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

Quarantine Brain

Yup, the lockdown is officially getting to me. Or maybe I’m just naturally weird. Over the last few days, I’ve had some…interesting dreams.

The World End Bringer and Social Distancing

In this dream, I was in the world of Back to the Future with me as Marty McFly (unfortunately, it was the cartoon version and not the live-action Michael J. Fox version, bummer). 

In the dream, an alien chameleon arrives and tells us that the World End Bringer (there was some translation problems) was coming. This cosmic being was alerted to Earth’s presence thanks to everyone using Doc Brown’s latest invention, a network of void pockets that allowed people to store images, music, and writing in empty pocket universes–people could also share their stored items via void-linking. Yeah, it was the Internet…but cooler because it was also a mixture of virtual reality but was also reality; you could physically travel to someone’s created void world–like a website but only if they were interested in the Civil War you could actually be in a Civil War battle instead of just watching a video.

Anyway, all this void activity let the World End Bringer know that there were too many people on Earth; it was coming to lower that number or completely eliminate the population. Naturally, we panicked. The only solution we could come up with–that didn’t involve everyone burning their family photos and destroying their crops–was for everyone to remain six feet apart. Everyone maintaining social distancing would trick the cosmic being into thinking there weren’t as many people as advertised and leave.

Of course, some people didn’t want to do it. So, the night before the World End Bringer was set to arrive, the Back to the Future family/main characters (including the two kids from the last movie and the animated series) all had a dream that if they could get the DeLorean up to 99 miles per hour (instead of 88) it would create a weird phase field for the whole planet and make it appear as if the planet was empty. It was something similar to making everyone on the planet time-jump an hour into the future; it was very complicated.

The problem was that the DeLorean had been dismantled to create the void pockets. We had to put it back together with not a lot of time to do it. This is when I woke up.

Abduction Washing

The dream the next night was a little shorter and more comical.

In that dream, a group of people were abducted by aliens. But before the aliens could run their experiments, the abductees were forced to properly wash their hands. The aliens stood there and watched the abductees wash their hands telling them to use soap, wash for 20 seconds, and get the back of their hands.

So, it was like a five minute dream of watching people wash their hands while aliens instructed them on the proper way to do it. I was glad this one didn’t last long.

Post Office Peril

In this dream, the US Post Office had become overwhelmed by the increase in deliveries due to COVID-19. Their response was to make a pact with the Underworld. The pact allowed demons to possess the bodies of people in exchange for forcing them into working as mail carriers (the victims would not get paid). So, when people would go out to pick up a package, the demons would possess them and make them work at the Post Office.

But, of course, the demons had a masterplan. They were only possessing males because apparently demonic powers are only passed down through the male while the dimensional plane is passed down by the female. The plan of these demons was to posses males and then, uh, mate with females in order to produce demonic children that could exist on the physical Earth.

After I woke up from this last dream, I thought, “Where did that come from?” The aliens came from reading the Skitter comic strip, specifically the latest arc where the alien Rodney’s pet virus escapes and causes a pandemic. The Back to the Future stuff came from watching Home Before Dark (on Apple TV+)–Sam talks about his toy flux capacitor and tries to time travel one night.

The demon invasion came from watching theRadBrad play Doom Eternal. I also think the chameleon alien was supposed to be the GEICO gecko thanks to me seeing a lot of GEICO commercials because I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube thanks to the lockdown–yes, I don’t skip the ads (most of the time) because I want to support the creators through ad revenue, which is going down now because businesses are closed and people are not working.

But, where did the Post Office thing come from? I then realized it probably came from my cousin recently being fired by the Post Office and from the harassment my sister, who works for the Post Office, has been getting from her supervisor and co-workers.

So, any weird dreams (or weird occurrences) brought on by the lockdown? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…thanks for reading!


Good news! The Smashwords Authors Give Back Sale has been extended to May 31! 

You have another chance to buy The Beast of Camp TimberWolf, Gift of the Minion, and now Who Pranked JR for 60% off!

The Secret Meaning Of (Cliffhanger)

I must be suffering from Quarantine Brain. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, “I’ve figured out the secret of…Minecraft.” (What you thought I was going to tell you the secret of life?)

I realized that Minecraft is not real. I don’t mean not real as in it’s a video game. I mean, obviously it isn’t real. No, I mean that it is not a post-apocalyptic world. It is all in a person’s mind. Their imagination/creative space to be more exact. And to be even more exact, the mind of a young teen or older child. 

Think about it for a second. Cake replenishes your Hunger while carrots, melon, and apples only refill your Hunger a little. But, once you cover the apple or carrot in gold (*ahem* caramel), it becomes way more useful. In what world is cake and junk food better for you? A kid’s world.

Also, you can build and do just about anything in the world of Minecraft. Where else can you do just about anything? In your imagination–especially in the imagination of kids.

But, I’m thinking that the Minecraft world takes place in the mind of older children or young teens because of the ruins and the mobs. The ruins are the old playthings of youth. As we get older, we no longer want to be an explorer looking for treasure in jungles or under the sea. We are no longer interested in playing pirate and looking for buried treasure. We also start to realize that we’ve been placed in this lonely and wild world and we have to survive it.

In other words, the person is at that point where they are growing up but haven’t quite let go of fun and magic.

As for the mobs…

Zombies: These represent those who follow the trends. This is why they all wear the same clothes. They follow the latest trends (fashion or otherwise) and want to “convert” everyone else.

Creepers: Seems pretty self-explanatory. Camouflaged people who like to hang around your base and sneak up behind you then go “tsss.” You know…creepy people. Stalkers, perverts, people who just like to ruin your work by blowing up once you step outside. You know, jerks and creeps.

Endermen: The cool kids. They pretty much leave you alone unless you look at them. Some might chip away at your confidence by running off with blocks from your build (i.e. make fun of your skills, personality, or appearance). They also seem to have the cool clothes/skills (i.e. teleporting–or running really fast depending on which game theory you believe).

And then finally, you make it to the home of the cool kids (The End). You think it’s going to be this awesome place full of awesome things and people, but it really is just a wasteland with a bunch of people standing around. That’s when you learn that they are being enslaved by their own “coolness.” They have to obey the Rules of Cool or the Alpha Cool Kid (the Ender Dragon). It is then your realize the reason they stole your build’s blocks was not out of spite but because they want to craft and build like you.  You then realize they are not as scary as you thought; they’re like you.

Spiders: Fear. They’re scary at night; but during the daytime, they’re not so bad. Or maybe hormones; one minute you’re calm then someone attacks and you go crazy.

The Villagers: These guys and gals are adults. The villagers have, well, a village. They have “civilization.” They have jobs and trading/commerce. It is also nearly impossible to get them to do what you want. They are confusing and stubborn and you wish Mojang would just make it so you could use leads on them! Also, they go “meh, meh, meh,” at you all the time just like the adults in the Peanuts comic strip (LOL). 

Next, the Nether. It is pretty obvious that is supposed to be school. I mean, the Ghasts are wailing. The soul sand holds the tormented souls of students. If you say or do or wear the wrong thing the Pigmen (now the Piglins) will attack you in force; everyone will come after you and not leave you alone until they have pummeled you to death. But you have to go to school (the Nether) in order to mature (i.e. get potion ingredients so you can become faster or stronger or be able to craft an Eye of Ender).

Also, there are the beds. What happens when you try to sleep in the Nether? BOOM! The bed explodes. What happens if you try to sleep in school? BOOM! The teacher comes at you with a ruler.

The Nether could also be puberty. *Shivers* Puberty. What a horrifying word.

Now, one last word to sum up this theory. Have you noticed that the mobs only spawn at night or in dark places? And when do monsters come out to frighten kids? Night. How do kids protect themselves from the monsters? Nightlights. How do you stop the monsters from spawning in Minecraft? Torches or other light sources.

But hey, that’s just a theory…

Nope, no. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to make fun of The Game Theorists’ catchphrase, but I will mention they have been working on a Minecraft Mega-Theory. And with that I finish by saying…

Happy April Fools! 

Now you get to decide if this post was an April Fools joke or not.


This post might have been an April Fool’s gag but the Smashwords Authors Give Back sale (Mar. 20-Apr. 20) is not. The sale was created by Smashwords authors who wanted to help those who are feeling isolated or bored thanks to COVID-19 and social distancing. As part of this sale, two of my books are 60% off and you can pick them up at this link or you can check out the books by other authors here.

Authors Give Back Sale

Two of my books (The Beast of Camp TimberWolf and Gift of the Minion) will be on sale for 60% off during the Smashwords Authors Give Back sale. It runs from Mar. 20 to Apr. 20. The discount is only on Smashwords.

Stay safe and healthy during this time (and other times).

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading.


Who Pranked JR releases March 24!