Can’t Wait for Rogue Two!

I saw Rogue One on Friday and now that I’ve let it digest a bit I’m ready to share my thoughts. This is going to be a spoilerific post, so if you haven’t seen the movie, please, please, please bookmark this for later and watch the movie first.

We finally have a good Star Wars prequel. Huzzah! Let that sink in. No, not my use of “huzzah,” but the fact that this is the first good Star Wars prequel. And, yes, that is a fact. We can debate just how good the movie is or isn’t, but it’s clearly leagues beyond the three of which we do not speak.

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Now for some opinion: By my tastes, this was a competently executed Star Wars movie that did a lot right. Some people on my social media feeds are saying this movie is better than The Empire Strikes Back, to which I say, “You need to re-watch Empire, my friend. That is one of the few examples of a perfect movie.”

If I had to rank the current films, I’d go with:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. A New Hope
  3. Return of the Jedi
  4. Rogue One
  5. The Force Awakens
  6. Et al.

But–just as ecstatic as I was after Ep VII–I’m incredibly overjoyed by the little to no Prequel references (see below for a notable exception) in Rogue One and even more excited to finish my Reboot the Prequel scripts before the next movie.

What Made the Grade

Tarkin’s return. Others have debated the morality of resurrecting a dead actor, so let me just say it was a bold choice. And as far as digital humans, none have looked better.

People other than Jedi are attuned to the Force. Though I’m sure a society that can print out new hands can probably cure blindness, I’m willing to let that go because it could have been a choice on this character’s part. He did seem to have a quite useful “second sight” anyhow.

-Added to the mythology. Great sequels (and prequels) improve upon the originals. This did so by showing us the “alliance” aspect of the Rebel Alliance. Even better was taking what was essentially a bemoaned plot hole in the Death Star’s weakness and gave it meaning. Star Wars is very much about family legacy, and this movie hit those beats well.

What Didn’t

-The Force is too well-known. We could write-off Luke’s ignorance of The Force due to his upbringing on a backwater planet, but Han Solo has traveled the galaxy and still he finds the idea of The Force laughable. Yet, in this movie, all the characters seem to know the nature of The Force like something they’ve all grown up with. Pretty sure I heard “May The Force Be With You” nearly a dozen times over the course of two hours. The Jedi are supposed to be an ancient religion, and should be portrayed more as a secret society.

-Too many (pointless) Cameos. Every time a character from the Original Trilogy appeared on screen (which was often!) it felt like the movie stopped so the director could wink at me. The “tough guys” who are at the Mos Eisley cantina in Ep IV bumping into our heroes on Jedha was waaaaay over the top. So, let me get this right. They’re walking around, looking for fights, but manage to escape this city’s destruction just in time to hightail it across the galaxy and go looking for more fights in the exact same bar our next heroes happen to visit? Seems legit.

-Referenced the Prequels rather than Ep VII. Adding Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa from the prequels) wasn’t the worst choice ever, though it did reference the wrong movies. If the goal was to strengthen the brand, why not something to tie in the other Disney SW series? Here’s an idea: Instead of Darth Vader taking a bath in Sauron’s castle, he could be doing something useful. Maybe where “The Knights of Ren” are vaguely mentioned, thus strengthening Kylo Ren’s “I will finish what you started” line.

-Low stakes (we knew the outcome). I needed something else to root for. I knew that they would succeed in their mission to steal the Death Star plans, so there weren’t any stakes in that mission. If there was something else, new and also important that the characters were striving for, I might have inched closer to the edge of my seat.

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Circling back, let me emphasize that I really enjoyed the movie. It put the “war” back in Star Wars. Darth Vader against Rebel troopers was amazing. Some great actors added gravity to the story-world. And it left the grounds for a prequel reboot more fertile than ever.



Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Love the movie? Hate it? Meh?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

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Final Results (Freebie Promo)

Final post in the series Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

Okay, I promised a final analysis and now–two weeks after the promotion–I’m ready to deliver. Here you’ll see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Time for some results, flaws and all.

Thanks, random sign holder!

The Good

If you recall the results from Day One, my pre-promo sales of INFECTED were low (if not stable) and my sales ranking was a sad state of affairs (jumping between 40k and 100k depending on how recent the day’s sale occurred). INFECTED had never cracked the 20k sales ranking in its history.

The giveaway crushed those numbers.

Best sales rank post-promo, 12 January.
Best sales rank in the paid store, post-promo, 12 January.
January Sales Data: Red indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.
INFECTED January Sales Data: Red indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.

My post-giveaway numbers are (knock on wood) staying higher than they were before the promotion. The weekend after the promotion saw 79 combined sales and borrows and nearly paid for the whole promo just using those two days. Note that these numbers do not include foreign sales or paperback units, both of which have increased.

Another huge win in the ‘Good’ category is increased discoverability. This may seem strange, but before the promo I had to tell people to search amazon for “Click Your Poison” to find the book, because there were too many things called “Infected” in the kindle store (164 as of publishing this article). Now, I’m the #1 search result, which is huge.

Top INFECTED searchLESSON LEARNED: This is tangential to a promo, but important enough to share. When I originally wrote the story for INFECTED in early 2008, there was nothing out there with that title. When I published the kindle version a little over a year ago, I didn’t bother to check if the title was taken. Granted, you can’t copyright a title, but you don’t want to exist in the shadow of another book either.

The Bad

I did not crack the Top 20 overall free kindle books. This was one of my goals, and I’d missed it. I wanted to be the #1 free book if truth be told, but that didn’t happen. Still, I feel like I did everything in my power to promote the book. In the end, horror just isn’t as popular as genres such as romance. Nothing I can do about that. I write books that I would like to read.

MURDERED sales numbers have not seen a significant post-promo boost. In fact, the sales are worse than they were before the promo.

MURDERED January Sales Data: Green indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.
MURDERED January Sales Data: Green indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.

You’ll see there was a boost on the last day of the promotion which carried only so far as the day after. Why the drop? I’m not doing anything to promote the book right now, and the buzz is centered directly around INFECTED, so my new release is starting to stagnate. Will it go up once people have more of a chance to read the first book and start looking for more in the series? Time will tell.

The Ugly

The book has gained 12 new reviews since the promo began. This is a good thing. What makes it ugly, is that 1/3 of them were negative. From what I’ve read and seen from other authors, this isn’t all that uncommon. I’ve also heard that negative reviews can help your book, because it makes it seem more genuine. Pre-promo, my 48 reviews were all 4 or 5 stars, giving some people the (false!) impression that I’d paid or begged for positive reviews. If I’m lucky, this’ll shut some of those people up.

What makes some of these reviews ugly isn’t that some people didn’t like the book (I can deal with that), it’s that they actively tried to hurt my success. The first negative review was entitled, Don’t pay for this.” Not much of an opinion so much as a command.

Another reviewer attacked the originality of the book, stating that I stole ideas from The Walking Dead because I set my survivor group up in a prison. Tangent alert! When I wrote the book, I set my survivor group in a prison a year before the cast did so on The Walking Dead. It’s a smart place to go in the event of the zombie apocalypse. But Parallel Development does happen.

Okay, enough of that. Time for…

The Final Word

LESSONS LEARNED:
DO use BookBub.
DO prepare beforehand.
DO share word of the promo with your fans, and if people spread the word, DO say thanks.
DO NOT sweat over the results. What will be, will be.
DO NOT let the bad reviews get to you.
DO learn from your mistakes.

Film Review: THE HUNTER (2011)

Disclaimer: I don’t plan on making film reviews the norm on this site but because I already wrote about this movie, I’m willing to make an exception.  I also don’t like giving negative reviews, especially for independently financed projects, as I respect the difficulties of moviemaking and I don’t want to steer revenue away from these hard working artists.  However, my audience is intelligent enough to know that this is only my opinion and that their own millage may vary.  So we shall proceed.

Please be aware that SPOILERS will follow, so if you don’t want to ruin your Monet Experience then go watch the movie now (it’s currently playing VOD) and then come back and share your thoughts.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

The Hunter (2011) – Official Trailer HD

The trailer would have you believe it’s a tense thriller, right?  About a man with a rifle, put in jeopardy by a conspiracy of those all around him–plenty of intrigue and suspense, right?  Wrong.  This 1:38 might be the most exciting of the whole 100 minute movie.

Okay, so maybe the problem was with marketing.  Maybe if I knew I was getting into a slow, plodding drama more about unemployed loggers than a Tasmanian tiger hunt, I’d have enjoyed the experience more.  But probably not.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie has its redeeming aspects.  The cast was stellar!  Defoe and O’Conner brought grace and strength.  Sam Neil perfectly blended as a native (IMDB tells me he grew up down-under, so it’s no surprise).  And what a beautiful film; the cinematographer expertly captured the breathtaking scenery.

I actually wish I liked this movie more.  The topic is obviously one that interests me.  But I just couldn’t get behind it.  It strikes me as another in a painfully long line of films that tries to be profound by having nothing happen.  It’s like someone who wants to write a great work of literature, so they decide step one is “don’t have a plot”.

A fellow friend and filmmaker once shared a bit of wisdom with me he learned while making a documentary on the Air Force Academy.  He said, you can’t show the audience that an event is boring by boring them for ninety minutes.  By the same token, I find that if you spend too much time building the atmosphere, you’re left with nothing but that.

So did I miss something?  Or did the filmmakers?