Transgender Dwarves, BLM Hobbits, #Resist Elves, and the Publishing World Gone Mad.

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random Friday rant

I wanted to include some thoughts and an excerpt from fellow blogger/author Hannah Ross, but her recent post is perhaps the most perfect thing I’ve read all year on a sensitive topic. If the Hobbit were written today pinpoints the Orwellian doublespeak that exists in writing nowadays (which promotes an unrealistic expectation of “diversity” as some kind of modern, golden calf in fiction). I couldn’t cut it apart and will merely copy it in its entirety for you (but you should totally check it out then like/follow on her blog: Flight of Fantasy)

I think that if Tolkien had written The Hobbit today, he would have trouble pitching it to literary agents. Why, you ask?

Well, first off, what is the targeted age group? I can’t define The Hobbit as a book for adults, yet the main character is an adult, and how are kids or teens supposed to relate to someone outside their age range?! *eyeroll*

Second, women and girls are shockingly underrepresented in this book. Gandalf or Thorin Oakenshield should have been female to amend that. What’s up with the all-male dwarves, anyway? Time for a female dwarf protagonist, with or without a beard.

Three, diversity. Do you recall even one person of color in The Hobbit? Me neither. Why not make Bilbo the scion of the one black family in the WASP Shire, struggling against racism and bigotry? It would be a good thing if he has confused sexual identity, too, and finds himself entangled in a romance with Thorin (whether the latter is male or female).

What about some action in the beginning, huh? What is it with the pipe smoking and tea drinking? Give us a dragon falling out of the sky, or an earthquake that destroys half of the hobbit holes on the first page, or we’ll lose interest.

Finally, what about #ownvoices? How can Tolkien be trusted to represent dwarves in literature, when he was of average height himself? I say this is shameless cultural appropriation.

Bottom line: I’m thankful that Tolkien lived back in the time when one could simply tell a good story without worrying about social agendas, when one didn’t have to dance on eggshells trying to accommodate diversity, whatever that means, when it wasn’t a point of shame to be white, male and straight, and when readers were expected to have an attention span exceeding five milliseconds.

Continue reading Transgender Dwarves, BLM Hobbits, #Resist Elves, and the Publishing World Gone Mad.

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Fun With Trolls

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Oh, trolls. I do get the occasional troll message. I guess I’m a bit thankful to Mr. johnnevada@aol.com for taking the time and effort away from Mom’s basement and lukewarm hot-pockets to become thoroughly acquainted with my books and locate my website in order to message me with his thoughts. They span from a detailed critique of my writing, cover art, and how only books by the big houses can be good and how I must be a cheapskate for not hiring Random House to publish me (I guess that’s how the industry works now).
Here, for you personal amusement is my latest troll. Bonus points if you read this rant aloud in the voice and accent of Moist from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. I am glad that he has an in depth working knowledge of the publishing industry and can help right this sinking ship. At least this was good for a laugh… doubly so since he sent me a second email to reiterate that I am no good, not famous, have ugly nonsense books, and should never write again.

“I’m about to order your book but when i check your book in amazon your book are independent publishing or create space and I’m so disappointed if you are a good writer/author you will be in traditional publisher like Harper Collins / Penguin Random House / Hachette book group but I’m thinking why they will get your book since your books are nonsense. I guess you can not afford to publish your book in the publishing company that’s why you are looking for free. your not even a famous author and don’t think that you will be a famous your book is not good it’s ugly, not worth it for reading. you must stop writing nonsense books”

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Read John in the John For Free!

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I don’t sell boats, but I Noah guy who does…

Signup and get one weeks’ worth of daily devotionals sent to your email for free courtesy of my In the John devotional series. Just because it’s got biblical content, it doesn’t have to be dry or boring… this is the devo book that is totally “what Jesus would read in the bathroom.”

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Newest Cover Reveal

I got a new WIP beta copy of the upcoming Kakos Realm #3. I wanted to share with those of you who have been waiting so patiently for the newest installment. After the doubled up review posting from last week I feel I earned myself a brag post on a Tuesday (when I usually promote other author’s books.)

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I’ve got a few things that need polishing up on the inside, but I’m excited to begin getting these into my readers’ hands!

the Indie Author’s Bible

So I accidentally published my Tuesday review on a Monday by mistake. I guess I’m all over the map this week–so why not throw in an extra post?

My how-to/DIY guide for Indie authors is finally out–pick up a copy today!

“I’m writing a novel… what are the steps?”
“My masterpiece is finished—where do I go now?”
“My fantasy series doesn’t fit in with any mainstream publisher—how do I self-publish and do it right?”
These are the sorts of questions we answer, and more!

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You wrote a book and need help breaking in? Need to know more about Indie and Traditional publishing models? Want a guided process to get your seeing your book in print?
This is the book for you!

——-

This book will show you how to get your manuscript independently published at zero cost, provided you can do the hard work required–you can be as successful as you want to be. This book cover topics such us:Step by step roadmap to getting in print

  • •How to get your book into Audible
    •How to spot predatory publishers/services
    •How to format your interior copy
    •Where to get free art for covers
    •How to get carried on bookstore shelves
    •Wasteful practices to avoid
    •Guide to meeting professional standards
    •How to create ebook & paperback coupons
    •The importance of reviews
    •Best practices for self-editing
    •And so much more…

The Indie world is a jungle and there are few well-beaten paths—and unlike you’d expect, even some of those well-beaten paths end in spike pits, too. If you want to navigate it safely, you might find a guide… like this book. This is a practical book with step-by-step advice to guide any writer through becoming an Indie author. It also covers some of the “why” aspects and peeks beneath the scenes showing failures, successes, inside information, and encouragement for the ultimate do-it-yourselfer.

GET YOUR COPY FROM AMAZON

Don’t get scammed by companies like Reader’s Magnet

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As I’ve mentioned previously, everyone wants to rip you off as an author by taking advantage of your hopes and dreams. Scammers make me sick. I’ve had a few calls from them lately pretending to be huge media companies that offer promotion for authors. These scammers do their homework, and so I assume they work on commission. They reference your book by name and will give it praise when they call and might mention that it was found by a Literary Talent Scout (as if those exist—agents and publishers get so many queries every day that they don’t need to go looking for talent! Talent goes to them. It’s a system that has been long established.)

I listened to the first guy’s spiel so I was familiar with it; they wanted between hundreds and thousands of dollars to do worldwide promotion on a book of mine that was far from my best one (so zero quality control) and when pressed, the agent knew nothing about it. (It is fun to toy with these guys, “oh yeah? What did you like about my book specifically?”) Just like any scamming vanity press, these sorts of things are easy to spot, and with a phone component, poor English skills are often a giveaway (hence the “international interest” I suppose.)

Straight up scam. I told them to put me on their do not call list. I got called again today by a man from Reader’s Magnet. I know the drill and rattled off my request so that the caller could not get in a word edgewise—I want as little of my time wasted as possible. “I’m familiar with your company. I do not want to buy or sell anything through you and do not want your services; please put me on your do not call list. Thank you, goodbye.” I hung up with the guy trying to talk over me on the other end. He actually called me back and started yelling at me about being rude and unprofessional. I responded, “I am familiar with you. You guys are rip-off artists and a predatory company trying to sell me something I don’t want or need.” I shouted him down and when he said he’d put me on their DNC (while chastising me about being unprofessional—even though he interrupted me with an unsolicited phone call to my personal cell) I said “good” and hung up on him again. He was pushy and rude. I wouldn’t buy something that I wanted from someone like that. Don’t let a bully manipulate you into buying something… especially when that something is a giant, squishy turd.

Thanks to the internet we can check out companies like this one (you might be familiar with my report many months ago from the scamming email services that promised contact info for thousands of bookstores—the folks I tracked down as operating out of the back of a taco joint.) Reader’s Magnet has a good looking website and social media. They do their best to represent themselves as a legit company and seem to have followed the same online platform building guides that Indie authors do—I guess they know their audience/prey well enough to look the part.

I found a response to the company’s cold calling on Ripoffreport.
“Being a book author is no easy task and marketing your book once published, mostly self-published these days–is near impossible so these kinds of scammers prey on authors who usually have huge egos and desperately want their words read.”

Here’s a second statement, also from Ripoffreport
“urged me to pay the registration fee of $650 to get my book in their catalog.  He claimed 200,000 people would attend the Book Fair in Frankfort Germany in October.  Those attending include librarians, owners of bookstores, teachers, students, parents.  I was reluctant to pay such a steep fee, so he quickly re-calculated and said $550 would be acceptable.  He claimed this Book Fair is the biggest display of books in the world, with people coming from every nation on earth.  He estimated 200,000 would attend, and perhaps 1% of them would buy my book. That would be 2,000 books sold then and there.  However, he only asked me to send him one book, so whoever wants to buy my book would need to contract me and buy directly from. The more we talked, the more skeptical I became.  He spoke with an accent…”

People across Goodreads have gotten the same phone call. Apparently cold calling must be their primary MO. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18715656-anyone-here-ever-contacted-by-readersmagnet

Really, the company uses temptation to try and part author’s with their hard earned cash, like this Reddit user noted.
“I looked them up while I was on the phone with them and a lot of people have listed them as a scam. I know no one is really interested in my books which is what tipped me off, but also was tempted to listen to more because hey, we all want to have our work read by people!”

Nobody is looking out for you except for you and those other Indies in your network who have become like your family. You certainly aren’t going to be cold-called by top-shelf talent recruiters as an unknown. You can even be a faith-based author (believing that your book success is the high-and-perfect plan of God Almighty—this isn’t how God would operate: you still have to go through the steps established by the Industry). If you’re walking out the plan and following the steps properly, the regular doors will open. Query an agent, don’t drop hundreds of dollars on a poorly executed scam.

#readersmagnetreview #readersmagnetscam #readersmagnet #readersmagnets #preditors #scam

Author Interview: J.M. Lee

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Me horsing around with Joey Lee at comic con.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Random Friday, so I wanted to make sure I got to something fun this summer… and if you read my review of the first Dark Crystal prequel, Shadows of the Dark Crystal then you know the funny story of how I became acquainted with J.M. Lee. We both attended the #MNFanFest event last weekend and got a chance to catch up after his book signing hosted by The Source Comics (one of my fav gaming and comics stores in the metro area) where I was able to get an autographed copy of the newly released second book in the trilogy, Song of the Dark Crystal.

What drew you to the fantasy genre, and specifically to the Dark Crystal story?

I can’t specifically say what drew me to fantasy, since it’s been an attraction that started before I can really remember. I’ve been reading fantasy since I could read, though I suppose before that I was watching fantastical cartoons. I loved everything from the Land Before Time to Fantasia to the Addams Family. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I also was a prime age to absorb all the classic fantasy films that came out around then — including The Dark Crystal. For me, The Dark Crystal was extra special because there were no human characters; something about the complete alienness of the world really drew me in.

Tell me a little about how you landed the Dark Crystal gig?

In 2013, the Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap launched the Author Quest, a contest to hire an author to write the official Dark Crystal prequel novel. The team worked so well and the Henson group seemed pleased with how the first novel went, so before the first was even approved, we were already making plans to make it into a series.

As an 80s child with a love of all that nostalgia I often visit sites devoted to certain shows (especially Masters of the Universe and Thundercats—both of which got a post-2000 cartoon remake) Where did you go to get source material for the worldbuilding you did in Shadows of the Dark Crystal? Did you get any special access to resources not made public?

When I was writing the first book, my primary source was darkcrystal.com – which had been prepared for Author Quest. I also read the extended universe publications, including Brian Froud’s World of the Dark Crystal and the Archaia graphic novels. Once I had signed on to complete the novel, I was also given access to some really cool archive stuff – Brian Froud sketches and concept artwork. Cheryl Henson also arranged for me and my wife to visit the Frouds in England in 2014, which was after the first novel came out. But it was still an unparalleled look into the landscape that inspired Thra and the world we see in the film. Even more than the geographical experience, having a chance to meet with and talk to Brian and Wendy was a childhood dream come true.

How important will the storyline of Shadows of the Dark Crystal and Song of the Dark Crystal be to the upcoming Netflix series and where do your stories fall in the timeline?

The books and Age of Resistance, as well as the rest of the extended universe publications, all exist in a fluid and well-developed timeline. Everyone from the Netflix show team to Archaia and at Penguin have been fully committed to keeping everything sensical. As for the actual timeline, both the books and the Netflix series take place in the years leading up to the film. More details about this will unfold!

I’m assuming that your hero, Naia from the Swamp of Sog, is drawn on a few life experiences—being a fellow Minnesotan, I’m going to also assume that Sog, the swamplands, are based on my hometown of Verndale Minnesota. You can’t really change my mind about that, but feel free to tell me about your characters and world… Is there anything else you’d like to say, especially to young writers?

Ha! Everyone from Sog is also obsessed with going out on the lake and up to the cabin, in case that part didn’t make it into the final draft…!

In a nutshell, Shadows of the Dark Crystal tells the story of a self-sufficient girl from far away learning that she is part of something much bigger and that both she and the world are in the middle of a great change. The second book, Song of the Dark Crystal, expands on that sentiment — in particular, in finding a place when you’re not what someone might think of as a typical rough-and-tough hero. I mean, we’re looking at likely and unlikely heroes, but I would prefer to think of it as telling the story of people realizing that change is inevitable, but we have a choice in deciding who we change into and how that impacts the world around us.

Also, a fizzgig fart joke. So there’s that.

It’s been lots of fun and hopefully I’ll get to do some more stuff with J.M. Lee in the future! Here’s a little bit about him:

Born and raised in the great Minnesota north, Joe spent his formative years searching for talking animals and believing he could control the weather. After pursuing nerdy interests in comparative film studies, screenwriting, and Shakespeare, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a much nerdier degree in linguistics with a focus in Japanese phonology.

In addition to writing novels, Joe is an English tutor and writing mentor for teens and young adults of all levels and abilities. He enjoys teaching his dog new vocabulary words and updating his snooty coffee blog. He lives with his wife in Minneapolis.

You can find him at his website, here!

Second Television Interview

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My followup television appearance is now live on YouTube! Both appearances will be aired across nearly a dozen communities.

We talked mostly form and process for writing, some of the pitfalls and minutia of being an indie author… when the studio guy waved from the soundbooth that we were almost out of time I was surprised we had to wrap it up–I was just getting started. We could’ve easily shot five more of these.

Check out the video here!

My Interview/Podcast alongside Lou Ferrigno

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I was on the Minnesota Skinny podcast as a lead-up to my Wizard World Comicon appearance this weekend (starting today) at the Minneapolis convention center. The original Hulk will be at the con, too, and Frank Haataja (the interviewer) got to interview him as well (plus a neat magician who does stuff for kids in hospitals).

Check it out:
http://minnesotaskinny.com/2017/05/03/episode-33-comic-con-minneapolis/

we also talk a little bit about my Kickstarter campaign! Go check it out over here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2070483758/wolves-of-the-tesseract-taking-of-the-prime-fantas
I appreciate all the  backers and shares!