Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award...

... you guys just don't get it, do you?

Please take that as constructive criticism, not a hateful, bitter statement. What am I talking about? you are probably wondering when you start reading this. In fact, it's probably going to be 2015, you probably just Googled "Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award" and found this blog entry and clicked on it.

Is that so? Keep reading, please.

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award ruined my life. I'm saying that as a fact. I had put my entire life on hold -- my relationship with my girlfriend, my friendships, my family, my job -- to work on writing and editing my entry The House near the Mountains (which I had specifically written for The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award; I had a coherent, horrifying nightmare, woke up in a cold sweat, and started writing the novel in a fit of feverish creativity and inspiration). I took off three days a week every month for half a year; I told friends I couldn't hang out with them; I didn't spend enough time with my girlfriend; I didn't have a life at all; all my time was dedicated on perfecting the greatest story I had ever conceived in my life, a story that I -- as a reader -- would love to read; a story that I -- as a movie watcher -- would love to watch on the big screen; a story that I -- as a believer -- knew that I was meant to write and would succeed if it was only published. I spent six hours on the novel every day -- editing, editing, editing. Finally, a week before the submission period, I had a perfect, concise 150,000 word horror masterpiece (no, I'm not saying it's a personal masterpiece; I'm saying that I believe other horror fans would agree: call this statement confidence or arrogance, it matters not). And then something happened...

... last minute change in the competition: the maximum word count was changed from 150,000 words to 125,000 words. I cried myself to sleep. But I didn't give up. I completely restructured my novel. And hey, the contest delayed the submission period for another month. So I did have time. And I made, in my opinion, a better story out of it.

Then I didn't make it past round one.


But that isn't the end, because I have more to say. Look at the finalists each year. What do you see? Don't be afraid of making politically incorrect observations; nobody's judging (as long as you keep it to yourself). So, again, I ask: what do you see? Women. In their thirties to forties. Young adult-esque concepts. And one guy thrown in just so they don't appear "sexist." COME ON! That can't be coincidence on any level.

Where's the hope for the youth? Where's the hope for a guy like me? I want to put out stories that inspire people like me; I want to put out stories that I WANT TO READ! I don't want to read another Harry Potter-inspired series. I don't want to read the Mermaid's Sister or something that has a title of a movie you'd find on The Lifetime Channel. I want crazy; I was original; I want insane; I want brilliance; I WANT A REVOLUTION.

I want there to be long lines awaiting a midnight release for a book -- and I want there to be as many guys in this line as girls. I want something to inspire the youth in the United States to get out and read, not to sit on their asses and play Call of Duty all day. The books being chosen for The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award will not produce such a response to reading. I want to see the next Hugh Howey, the next Stephen King or Clive Barker or Robert McCammon or H.P. Lovecraft, the next George R.R. Martin or J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, the next (*gasp*) Cormac McCarthy or William Faulkner; I want the crazy, zany underdog to get published rather than the play-it-safe-formula that you see in the finalists every single year. I want to see a novel inspired by Bioshock to get published, not a novel inspired by Percy Jackson.

Dear ABNA, clean out your judging panel. You're killing the youth of America. You're creating gamers, not readers. Give hope to guys like me, not discouragement. The whole point of having different genre categories is to have different types of books; all of the books that I've seen (and read samples of) could just as easily be Young Adult. If that's the case, simply make it a Young Adult contest. Don't mislead.

Dear ABNA, I'm not mad that you [temporarily] ruined my life, caused me to become [temporarily] an alcoholic, neglect my friends, family, and job for a dream that I've always had. I'm not mad that you've rigged the results (whether blatantly or obliviously) of the contest for whatever feminist agenda that you have...

... but I'm furious that your finalists don't reflect the types of books that will cause a revolution to make reading "cool" again.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why Goodreads Doesn't Work

Goodreads is the Facebook for readers. At least, that's how I always looked at it before I started self-publishing my own short stories. When I became a "Goodreads Author," that all changed. At that point it wasn't just about finding books to read; it was about finding readers to read my book.

That within itself is a cool idea; indie authors (like Hugh Howey), or big authors (like Stephen King) can connect with fans of their books directly. Look at Stephen King's Facebook page: how many of those people who like his page are fans of his books, how many are fans of his film adaptations? Who knows. But at least Goodreads you know that people who follow you are fans of your books.

But Indie writers (not Hugh Howey, because he's actually a good writer) are making it almost impossible for readers to find good books. And that's where I draw the line and point out boldly the issue at hand. I don't mind unknown authors -- myself included (although I have a little bit of cred from writing Resident Evil: Red Falls, but not that much) -- having friends and fans score their books or vote their books onto certain lists. "Best Science Fiction Novels," "Best Horror Novels," "Best YA Novels with a Supernatural Element" -- you get he point; there are tons of Goodreads member-made lists out there which Goodreads members can vote on their lists. Heck, I allowed some of my Resident Evil: Red Falls fans vote on one of the lists that I had made called "Must-Read Books for the Aspiring Writer."

But I wasn't eager enough to vote any of my stories to the top, because there's no way LeanRx: Results May Vary, Lucifer's Tongue, The Bone Man, or The Monster at the Bottom of the Stairs are more significant than Stephen King's On Writing and Danse Macabre, or any of his fiction books like The Stand, or It, or the Dark Tower series.

And then you have a person whom I won't name. Let's just say he's the most followed person on Goodreads, an author, and a Goodreads librarian (that means he's a moderator). When this fella voted his book to the top of my horror list, I changed the description to: "No offense, but just ignore #1. Voting oneself to the top seems kind of amateurish. I apologize for my boldness. It's not meant for an attack on any particular author."

So what did this author do? He abused his Librarian powers and deactivated ninety percent of the Goodreads members who had voted for my books. What a passive-aggressive move. And then he goes on to email me, pretending to be a typical Goodreads staff, that there "were a few members who had complained about your books having too many five star reviews" in so many words. So, he took away most of my five star reviews (from people that scored my books on their own). Meanwhile, his own books are nearly perfectly rated . . .

. . . and I wonder why (this is sarcasm). He -- being a Goodreads Librarian -- deactivates accounts who give him bad scores.

Goodreads needs to clean up their Librarian staff so authors can't be Librarians.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Resident Evil: Red Falls - Trailer #3

Trailer # 3 ladies and gents. Make sure you share it. We're almost at 200,000 YouTube views