KDP Select and those Free days. #Bookmarketing #KDPSelect

Free

By Michael Melville

Free. We love free don’t we. As Americans, no, as humans we all love things when they are free. Even if we ignore that grandmotherly advice of, “nothing worthwhile ever came free”. Free fish always die quick. Free money always has strings attached. What if the British just threw up their hands at the battle of Lexington in 1775 and said, “ok we’re out. This land is yours.” How much would we Americans value our freedom and our nation when it was given so easily.

With modern writing comes modern advertising. Which means utilizing the interwebs. Unless you are completely inept in publishing you have your book on Amazon.com. You may or may not have signed your book/s up to be in KDP select for 90 days and may or may not renew it every 90 days. If you do you get the chance to use 5 free days every 90 days. What this means is that you can give each signed up book away for FREE 5 times over 3 months. That’s 20 days over the course of a year where you could offer your latest or oldest book for free. Sounds great doesn’t it?

When I first published in 2012 I thought, ok, this is good marketing, good free advertising so why not. Now, I am not so sure and I will explain why.

In order to make the free days’ work relatively well means you need to do a reasonable amount of marketing before the free days even start. There are a lot of sites that list free Amazon books and then tweet and email them out. You can’t just schedule one and walk away and expect a deluge so you have to tweet about your free days, at least, a week before hand if not sooner. Then Facebook about it. Then blog about it. Then write it on the bathroom walls with sharpie markers.

One of the hopes with FREE days is that some percentage of readers who did get your book for free will review it since reviews entice future buyers.  Honestly, that hasn’t been the case very often for me good or bad. I’ve probably given at least 2,000 copies of my first book, Running Northwest away for free. I cannot say that I got one review on Amazon or Goodreads from someone who got the book for free with a certainty. I may have but I don’t think so.  I think I read somewhere that for every 60 books given away for free an author will get 1 review on average. That number could be off but it’s something like that.

 

Book Release Weekend

Anyways, FREE books are supposed to be good advertising. It’s supposed to be a good way to get people to start reading your book, books or series and that it will lead to sales for subsequent books. When my newest book, All the Roads Home came out last month I released it on a Friday. I coincided that books release with 3 free days for my first novel Running Northwest which was nearing the end of KDP select’s 90 days. I’m broke so I used 10 dollars of Facebook advertising for the release “blitzkrieg” and put a fair amount of tweets out. I feel like I did what I could with what I had to work with. Now, I’ve been at this long enough where I wasn’t walking around with stars in my eyes and thinking a miracle was going to happen.

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During those 3 free days, I gave away 200 copies of Running Northwest. It jumped in rank all the way into the top 1000 for free books on Kindle and even higher in its genre. The last thing isn’t a huge deal but it’s the highest that book as ever ranked so emotionally it felt good. The increased visibility was also nice. I won’t say how many copies of All the Roads Home I sold in that release weekend but it wasn’t 200 or even close despite my month long presale and advertising. All the Roads Home, however, jumped to as high as 45,379 on the Kindle best sellers ranking which, I won’t lie, felt amazing considering where my first book had been ranking in sales. The hope was that people would get RNW for free and buy All the Roads Home either during the release or after. Not much movement there yet and I haven’t sold one copy of All the Roads since release weekend. Do you want to know why or, at least, part of the reason why? Because people are waiting for it to be free now. At least, that is my theory.

Readers are not dumb. Especially avid readers and Kindle users. They know about the free days. They get the emails from book bloggers who they follow. If you are a newer author and on your 2nd or 3rd book you are going to even have some friends and family who are just going to sit and wait until that brand new book is given away for free because they know it’s going to happen at some point. Because ya know, $1.99 or $2.99 is a lot of money I guess. Users of Amazon and Smash Words know all about free books and free days. So they sit and wait.

The book industry

The interesting thing is that I never ever have seen a traditionally published author, even a new one, use FREE days on Amazon. Do you think Nicholas Sparks or Stephen King are going to give away The Notebook or Carrie for free in a buildup to their new release?  Do you really think Penguin or Hachette is going to give their authors books away for free on Amazon for a whole day let alone 5 in the course of 90 days? Hell no, that’s thousands and thousands of dollars in potential revenue that would just go out the window. So why are indies so big on doing it? Why are other indies so big on saying we should?

I can’t say I won’t ever give a book away for free. However, I can say I won’t be giving away All the Roads Home away for free this year. No matter how often the itch comes and regardless of book two in the Oregon Series coming out this fall.

The other problem as I see it and it seems to be verified by other authors and bloggers is that people are less inclined to read a book they get for free right away. I’ve heard the theory behind this idea is that there is less value to it since its free. Therefore, people are not as quick to really dig into it as opposed to something they paid money for or even got from the library. I can say for me this is true but only because I take forever to read a damn book. It’s a good month if I read two books. Half the books on my cloud were free when I got them. And let’s not forget my bookshelf in our apartment which is full and half the books I haven’t read yet and some I’ve had for years. So the books keep stacking up, print and digital and I am sure many people are like this.

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I’ve only 5 books on the top 2 shelves…..ugh

 “In this age of eBooks people have become habitual book hoarders I think.”

 

I have a habit of seeing a book that looks interesting with every intention of reading it sooner rather than later and then forget about it. I will admit I am part of the problem sometimes. Somewhere some other author is waiting for me to read their book that I got for free and leave a review on it just like I am waiting for mine from other readers. The scary thing is that Running Northwest has 4 editions with the newest and final edition having been released in 2014. Somewhere out there is probably someone who has the shitty first edition of that book from 2012 on their Kindle or the nearly as horrible 2nd edition or the not as bad 3rd edition because they never bothered downloading the new update when Amazon notified them.  So if they decide to finally read it they are going to be pissed and leave a bad review. I took care of things on my end though albeit later than I should have. That being said, I’ve done my best this past year to limit how many books I get for free.

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A fix?

I wonder, what if Amazon automatically deleted books from people’s Kindle accounts that they got for free and remained unread for let’s say…90 days. Would this stem the issue and create an urge to read the books you downloaded for free? It would for me I think. If anything, I would be more choosy about what I get for free (if that’s even possible).

In the end, when it comes to bookselling I just don’t know if free days are a good thing. Do we as authors really want to get in the habit of giving our books away for free up to 20 days over the course of a year for the sake of a mythological marketing ploy that doesn’t seem to pay off very often or gives marginal results? If the reviews don’t eventually come or follow up purchases don’t happen than what is really the point of doing it.

Think back on that sage advice about free things I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Now, put that in the context of our books, our products, and hell even ourselves. What are we saying about our books, our creations, our heart and souls, our time and ourselves if we are giving them away for free? What does that say about the quality of those books? What does that say about how we view and value our own creations and the effort we put into them? As far as I know Indie authors are the only business owners out there who are nearly expected and encouraged to give their products away for free.

We spent real money making our books. We paid cover designers to make them look their best. We paid editors and paid for formatting (sometimes) so they read like the professional books we want them to be. We pay for marketing and advertising. We spend hundreds of hours apart from our families in an effort to write and get published.

So why give that away for free?

 


Hello. Its Me. #insomnia

It’s 6:25 am.

I slept from about midnight until roughly 2 am. I got up, ran to the gas station and got coffee because free and a drive is better than making a fresh pot at 2 am. I wrote for a bit, worked on some other book stuff, looked for a new job… stared blankly at my laptop screen while Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald played in the background on some music station on the tv.

I tried going to bed. I really did…at 5:30 am but I wasn’t tired but I thought I would try. So I Iaid there, hoping I would not wake up Stacey and annoyed with the fact my mind was racing and I could not stop thinking about things. What things? Anything and everything basically. From my cold feet and selling books to swimming pools in Florida and a post-apocalyptic Grand Rapids Michigan it was all there. Much is on my mind lately. This is becoming the norm and I don’t know why. You could blame the coffee but in the last 24 hours, I’ve only had 2 cups which is down from normal 13 cups.

So, I gave up on sleep for a bit. Thought I would blog and drink tea for a bit hoping that would help.

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You can kind of see his head poking up

On the way to the kitchen table, I walked past my son’s room and saw that he was just sitting up looking at the red lights in his room. Is this normal for him too. Is he usually up at this time of morning just hanging out in his crib? He wasn’t crying or making noises except for some light hums. Nothing sad or dramatic. I changed his diaper, found his backup binkie and laid him back down and sung him to sleep. Except he didn’t fall asleep. He was just lying there…thinking about Jax stuff I guess.

What does an almost 18-month old think about at 6 am I wonder? Surely not his dads writing career, job search, cleaning the house and the bills which are piling up even more than they were before. He’s not the one thinking about putting away the clean dishes and loading dirty ones in the dishwasher at 6:30 in the morning and possibly rearranging furniture(seriously). I wonder what he thinks about…. for real? And how is he so calm about it? Whatever it is he is cute while he’s doing it.

What stinks the most is I’m going to be worthless for the day and I’ve got things to do.

It’s 6:52 am. I am still not tired. Blogging did not work.

I am still not tired. Blogging did not work.

Blogging did not work.

 

 


Author Interview with Sci-fy author Peter Welmerink #Authorinterviews #Michiganauthors http://bit.ly/1SdYBRW

Grand_Rapids_Skyline,_night,_2009

Welcome back to Journeys and Life! This is the next installment of a series of interviews I will be doing with Michigan authors. We have a very interesting and diverse bunch of writers in this state who represent a wide swath of genre’s. For the last interview this month I would like to introduce you to Peter Welmerink who is a fantastic science fiction writer whose stories are often set in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  – Michael Melville

 

 

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“Peter this is the first time you have been on the Journeys and Life Blog. First off I want to thank you so much for doing this. It’s an exciting time to be an author right now. Before I start with the interview I’d like to give you a moment to introduce yourself to my readers and tell them a little bit about yourself.”

PJW: “Thanks, Mike. My name is Peter Welmerink. I am a Quality Engineer by day, family man by night, and writer in the early morning hours before having to leap back into the day job. I’d say I’ve been creating fiction since being able to hold a pencil or crayon. You think about it, we all have in a sense. Some of us just take it above and beyond.

 I grew up on the west side of Grand Rapids. Middle-class family. A stone’s throw away from John Ball Park and the boonies southwest of there. Had the big city a few miles away, and the wilds a few miles in the opposite direction. Urban and rural adventure to be found.

 I’d say I have always been an avid reader as well as desiring to write. In my early years, I liked reading comic books: Sgt. Rock, Batman, GI Combat, Captain America. Later, I got into reading Robert E Howard, Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Karl E Wagner, Michael Moorcock. All had fantastic thrills for me, fantastic adventure.”

It is what I enjoy writing, and still reading, today.”

 

MM: Peter what is the first story you can remember writing.

 

PJW: “ In 2nd grade, at the parochial school I attended, while the loving, peaceful nuns stood over you with yardsticks slapping you in the palm, I wrote a little ditty (assignment) on WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP. In 2nd grade–BOOM!–you are asked what you want to be when you grow up. Hell, I just wanted to know when recess was and survive another game of dodgeball (called Bombardo in my day).

On a few pieces of those jumbo-lined writing pages, I wrote that I wanted to be a farmer. I wanted to raise goats, cows, chickens, horses, ostriches, lions, tigers, otters and platypi. I wanted to grow corn, potatoes, beans, avocados, pineapples, oranges, bananas, kiwi fruit. You know, all stuff that can be easily growable and attainable in Michigan.

I guess actual fictional tales, not assigned for school projects or the threat of knuckle-annihilation from the sweet Sisters, went into single subject school notebooks. They were mostly stories about girls, or my strange dreams that were vivid enough to remember and make some sort of story from, or fighting in a starship (Influence: 1977 Star Wars) or being a lone dude in a post-Apoc world (Influence: the original Mad Max), or hacking through foes with a sword (Influence: Howard, ERB, Wagner, Ah-Nold-As-Conan Movie).”

MM: Looking around your blog and perhaps stalking you a bit on Facebook (I call it research) family is a huge part of your life. So, how do you balance your life as an author and your family life?

PJW:  *pulls shower curtain closed* Quit stalking me, dude!

“At a recent book signing gig, someone asked that same question to us insane author peoples. My answer: I work. I get home and focus on wife and kids. I sleep. I get up early, and after a shower in coffee, I get my CREATE ON. I do this 7 days a week: get up early and try to write a little. I am a huge procrastinator, my own worst enemy when really trying to focus on writing, but I getter done somehow, someway. If you want to do, you can do it. Discipline. Focus. A coffee shower in the morning.

 Book gigs. Conventions. Local travel to support the books. That is harder to schedule around and with family, not to mention if the costs are so high we may be eating Ramen noodles the next few weeks. (My wife will not let me get away with that, and my kids would not appreciate that so…)”

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MM:  Where and how do you come up with the concepts for your covers? I think they are incredibly unique and really eye catching. I am super involved with my covers from start to finish so how does this work for you.

PJW: “I got very lucky. If we’re talking current TRANSPORT (Seventh Star Press) material, the tri-panel (triptych) cover art was done by super-talented Jason Conley as assigned to me by my publisher. I basically had an idea of what I wanted to see on the cover from day one, had some sketchy chicken-scratchings (ie, stick figures and crudely drawn vehicles and landscape) and reference photos from all manner of sources, told Jason what I was visualizing, and let him run with it. It took me a week and lots of Xanax to mellow back out after he finished the whole thing and sent me the action-oh-licious cover spread.

 Again, for my little Scifi yarn, RETURN TO STRANGE HOME (Peninsulam Publishing), I had an idea of what I wanted to see on the cover, and worked with the also super-talented Tim Holtrop.

 Basically, both publishers let me work very, very one-on-one with the illustrators to (hopefully) come up with something that POPPED.”

TRANSPORT bk1-3

 

MM: According to Amazon your first published book was a book you co-wrote with Steven L. Shrewsbury in 2011 and your first solo novel was published in 2014 but you also wrote a novella called Obliteration of the Blind in 2013. How long have you been writing in an effort to publish prior to 2011?

PJW: “I had done some self-pubbed work with friend Russ Colter on a local comic book venture, PETRUS COMICS, in the early 90’s while starting to submit Fantasy short stories and poems to different publications (anthologies, small press magazines and ezines). My first published short story, A PARTING AT SUNSET, was pubbed in the Dan Rivers Anthology in 1998. After that, it was hit-and-miss, some acceptances, many rejections, with submitting short stories to various anthologies and ezines.

But if you got the CREATING bug, you are going to keep creating and pushing onward.”

MM: We writers all have flaws, mistakes when it comes to our work or quality that we make time and time again, vow to change and they continue to occasionally pop up. What is yours?

PJW: Passive Voice. Being too purple-prosey. Those have been common point-outs by editors.

 I also used to sit down and write, and then sit down and write later, re-reading and editing what I wrote prior…which would eat into my current writing time. It was counterproductive. It took some discipline, but now I try to just SIT DOWN AND WRITE IT OUT. I sit down and just continue on with the story, not going back and correcting myself, checking myself. I know the first draft is gonna be rough, is gonna suck. The main point is to get the tale out and done. Vomit forth the story, then clean it up later.

 I read a really good book by Chuck Wendig, THE BLUE BLAZES. I had heard it was a great story, and great to read as a writer. All the words POP. Like WHAM WHAM WHAM, and you get wrapped up and dragged along and down with the characters and events. I try to write like that. That book was very influential. (I wrote TRANSPORT Book One, read THE BLUE BLAZES, and then wrote TRANSPORT: HUNT FOR THE FALLEN. You can tell I changed things up between the two.)

 I am always learning and trying to improve my craft. Always. I doubt I will ever reach ultimate perfection, but will keep trying…and hope I have a good editor to continue to show my foibles and help me grow.  

MM: Peter up to this point I have spent so much time building up my online presence as an author (the extent and quality of that is up in the air) that it’s only recently where I’ve begun trying to build a local (West Michigan) presence and I feel like I have no idea where to start or what I am doing right/wrong or what to do next. I imagine other authors in our area and other areas feel the same way. What is/was the hardest part about getting people in West Michigan interested in your books and getting your name out there. How has social media helped that? Any tips?

PJW: “How to start to build a local presence. Simple. (And I am not being flippant here.) Start going to local shops, local vendors. Small bookstores. (Schuler Books is a big support of local authors, and even a few B&N’s in the West Michigan area.) Libraries. Libraries are your friends also. Look for local events, even the small ones. The name of the game is to get your name, your face, your work, out there.

 I once talked to a USED BOOKSTORE owner about selling my books at his store. He said, “But I don’t deal in new books, and I usually don’t stock new books.” I said I’d bring my own table and gear, set up just outside his front door (there was no room inside), and besides letting me do a mini-book gig there, I’d split any book sales 60/40 (60% to me, 40% to him). He agreed and said he’d even post the event on his extensive FB page, etc. (I didn’t do it yet as we ran out of good weather to do an outside event.)

Get some promotional postcards and business cards made up. If you see stores or restaurants or whatever places that will have promotional literature near their front door, ask if you can leave a few of your own promo cards and biz cards there. There is no hard part in getting people in WM interested in your work, you just have to get yourself out there. Talk to people. People know people, who know people, who may have promotional avenues for you to pursue through other people. Comic book stores. Coffee shops. Museum gift shops. Stores that support Michigan-Made products.

 Any of those outlets though you are going to have to arrange a deal, sweeten the pot for them and not just dump your stuff there.

 SOCIAL MEDIA. If you go on Facebook and search for Michigan Authors, Written in the Mitten, etc., you will find groups of like-minded Michigan and West Michigan creatives. Also, there are other author groups, reader groups, genre groups, that you can find on FB to try and make a PRESENCE.

 On using Social Media, I think the name of the game is CONSISTENCY. Putting information out there about your material, about events you will be attending. On FB. On Twitter. And on a blog or personal website. But you need to keep at it. I am not saying just keep posting MY BOOK ON AMAZON. I dislike always seeing the same old book blurb and cover. I mean, it’s okay to do, but I think if you change it up with a little artwork snippet or related picture–SOMETHING other than the same old book blurb and rant–people will pay you a bit more attention.

 How has Social Media helped me? I can definitely say, especially with FB, that I have been able to make contact with interested peoples and parties, and got them to look at my work and how weird I am. LOL

 

MM:  What made you choose our hometown, Grand Rapids Michigan for the location of your TRANSPORT Series or all your stories for that matter?

 

PJW: “I love Grand Rapids. I grew up on the WEST SIDE. I drive through the Grand Rapids and the WS (West Side) every day. I take my kids to my old WS haunts. GR and the WS was where I grew up, had adventures, sat up in the woods near John Ball and imagined fantastic tales.

West Michigan is an awesome place. You have the big city life. You have rural farm communities. Concrete jungles and miles of forested wilderness. Man-made things and nature. The Big Lake. Man, it’s all here, so why not stories of adventure and intrigue and craziness in Grand Rapids, Michigan?

Why should Chicago, New York, LA and Atlanta GA have all the action? LOL

 Note: BEDLAM UNLEASHED and OBLITERATION OF THE BLIND do not take place in GR.”  

west side

 

MM: How long does it typically take you as an author to write your novels/novellas? Sum up the process?

PJW: I usually have a few projects cooking, but typically work on one at a time. Maybe two if I am really excited about things and the story is flowing for me.

 TRANSPORT (the first book at least) took about a year and a half to write and then go through multiple editing stages, re-writing, polishing, more editing. It’s only about 40k words but, mind you, I had always been a short story writer. So, really, if you think about it, writing a 40,000-word yarn in a year and a half probably sounds pretty pathetic. (Mind you, I was working on other stuff though main focus was on TRANSPORT..and playing Minecraft. LOL)

 I guess to really gauge things. TRANSPORT (Book One) came out in May 2014. I started on TRANSPORT (Book Two) HUNT FOR THE FALLEN probably January 2014. Book Two then came out in December 2014. Book Two was 46k-ish word count. I started writing TRANSPORT (Book Three) UNCIVIL WAR in October 2014 and it, officially, came out in September 2015. That book is my biggest solo writing piece to date at nearly 70,000-words.

 I guess looking at it now…HOLEY TYPING MADNESS, BATMAN…I was a writing machine when it came to getting the series done. (And it “reads” pretty well from what I’ve happily and very thankfully have heard via reviews.) The process? It seems all a blur now, even with current novella-length stuff I feel is flowing out of me. I think if you got the real bug and the stories to tell, the stuff just flows out. You just keep working on it. You keep coming back and working on it until it’s done. Process is to keep going. Stay focused. Stay positive. Stay excited, and keep going.

Return to Strange Home

MM: As a reader who do you enjoy reading the most? What authors or novels inspire you as an author?

PJW: “I am reading a lot of David Drake material right now since I got my MILITARY ON. For Fantasy, currently, anything GOTREK & FELIX (Warhammer Universe) and/or WARHAMMER 40K. Dark, gritty, hard-hitting stuff.

 The aforementioned THE BLUE BLAZES by Chuck Wendig is a fave. Steven Shrewsbury’s BORN OF SWORDS is one of the last really good hardcore Epic Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery novels I have read.The inspiration is I see these folks, these books, on the shelves of either new or used book outlets, and I aspire to be there too. I want to tell tales. I want to leave a piece of me out there for people to hopefully enjoy. I have some old favorites stashed away that I pull out to be refreshed and inspired also. The aforementioned Howard, Wagner, Burroughs, Lieber.”

MM: Writers sometimes have a favorite setting or even season where they feel most productive and inspired as an author. Mine is late at night or in the fall? So Peter, what is yours?

PJW:  I sometimes write at night. Sometimes. But I have kind of trained myself to write in the morning before everyone gets up when my mind is refreshed and the coffee is hot. If I can squeeze in a little writing during the kids’ basketball practice, I do some there also.

 I don’t believe I have a preferred season to write or a season where I feel more inspired. I do like having a window cracked to let in the fresh air and hear the outside sounds. Not so much in the winter, so maybe Spring, Summer, and Fall are my months. :)

MM: Is there a genre that as an author and reader just doesn’t interest you in writing in or reading?

PJW: Though there may be a little romance in my books, maybe, I probably couldn’t sit down and write a Romance. Probably anything else is fair game. I like Steampunk, Dystopian/Apocalyptic, Epic Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery and Military Thrillers most, so that is probably what I will stick with.

MM: Think back when you were a little kid. What did you want to be when you grew up?

PJW: I wanted to be a farmer. Then I wanted to be a zookeeper.

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MM: Years ago you could be an author and just write, send our manuscripts and maybe get published (more didn’t get published then did). There wasn’t as much personal involvement expected for an author (even successful ones) outside of books tours and speaking engagements. Back then writers were allowed a certain amount of privacy and anonymity in their lives. In modern publishing, however, the expectations to be on social media connecting with readers, other authors and people in the publishing business, blogging, talking about writing and being more “out there” are bigger than ever. This almost forces some writers to be more open publically than they are often comfortable with, sharing things about themselves and about their personal lives with readers (or potential ones) that they normally would not. I know some older authors have a very hard time with grasping social media and being on it.  (NO I’m not calling you old lol) Where is the line for you, Peter? Have these new expectations helped or hindered you as a modern writer and where is the line for you when it comes to over-sharing. (Sorry for that long winded questions)

PJW: I think, now more than ever, it is our job as CREATIVES to be in charge of our creations. My work is my baby, and even if it gets picked up by a large or small press traditional publisher, or if it is self-pubbed–doesn’t matter–I want to be somehow, someway, in control of it.

 As far as privacy and anonymity, um, well, if you subscribe to any form of Social Media, that is pretty much gone out the window. If I was some big leaguer like JK Rowlings or Stephen King, yeah, I might want some form of small barrier to keep from being overhounded. (I think I made a new word there.) But folks like you and me aren’t at that stage yet. WE WANT TO BE SEEN at this stage in the game. Social Media helps. (Though can be a huge time suck. Focus, Grasshopper. Discipline, Grasshopper.)

 I used to have a FB page just for my AUTHOR SIDE. It was such a pain in the ass to keep it updated between my website (pwelmerink.wordpress.com), two blogs (darkheroicfantasy.blogspot.com and grandrapidsaltered.blogspot.com) and two FB pages, and Twitter…and…and…and… And really all the people I interacted with regarding writing and my books were on my main FB page (www.facebook.com/pwelmerink).

 So I snuffed out the Author FB page and kept everything on one. Writing updates. Family updates. Therapist updates. LOL

 When people are beating down my door because they just gotta have my latest written work, then I may reconsider privacy and anonymity. :)

Peter, is there anything else you want to throw out there and tell people?

 

PJW: Stay positive. Keep moving forward. The world is a crazy place, yup. It’s always been that way. (Read some ancient history books or world history books. Humankind has always been trying to cave in its own skull.) It is up to us to keep pushing forward.

And if you are a CREATIVE. Create! Just do it. Do it mainly for yourself. Have fun with it. What is cool with that is if you enjoy it, and it gets out into public hands, usually they enjoy it too…no matter if it’s Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Zompocalypse.

The main thing is to CREATE.

CREATE ON!

I’m Oscar Mike. (Military term for On The Move.)

 

Peters Social Media

Twitter: @pwelmerink

Facebook: Click

Amazon.com : Click


Do you Tribe? #Mondayblogs #blogging

What’s a Triberr?

By Michael Melville

 

Do you Tribe?

Do you know what Tribber is?

When I first started out as an author and blogger I, like many of us struggled. I struggled to figure out what I was doing. I struggled to figure out how to do it better. I struggled to blog right (if that is really such a thing). I struggled with the immense amount of information out there on how to do it. I struggled with how to connect to and with other authors and bloggers who really mattered who could help me along and who I could help.

Now, I’ve come a long way…but still have a long way to go since it’s never ending in this line of work.

Awhile back I was talking in a writers group on Facebook about my Tribe when I was looking for authors who were up to being interviewed. I was surprised that none of them utilized Triberr and it was suggested that I talk about that. So now I am.

Capture

Essentially Triberr is a website where people of like interests can join a…yes, you guessed it…a tribe. In this tribe are blog posts from every member of that tribes own blogs and websites. Some tribes are bigger than others. Some have hundreds of members while others only a few. Getting in is usually easy (for me it was) since you usually just request to be in a tribe once you find a good one that fits your needs and interests. Generally, each tribe is run by one or two people who act as the moderators or chiefs of the Tribe.

 

The thing that makes Triberr work for bloggers and authors (at least I think) is the obvious sharing aspect of it. Only the mods know the true reach of the tribe but often it can be hundreds of thousands and in the case of mine millions. “MILLIONS YOU SAY…HORSEPOOP!” No for real. No poop here it’s really possible and I’ll explain.

Triberr-Logo

 

What makes it work

As I see it there are two big factors in what makes Triberr and your Tribe work. One being the size of the tribe. This is because when you join a tribe you can link a few types of social media. So say you link your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to your Tribber account. That means when you share an interesting post from said tribe members it will be shared on your chosen social media to all your followers, friends and readers. So, depending on the size of your tribe and the tribe member’s activity (which is key for sharing and the second most important factor) your blog posts have the potential to reach….yes, millions if the post is shared by everyone in all your tribes. NOTE: I say potential.

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So, let’s say there are 30 people in one of your tribes. Each member has a linked Twitter with 10,000 followers (I’m making up numbers here and just using Twitter). That means your blog post has a shot at being seen by 300,000 people around the world via Twitter. Now, add in a few more tribes and retweets and….yea, math stuff right there. It’s good and scary all at the same time so you got to be on the ball and have content worth talking about and worth sharing.  Therefore, when you write a blog post about a fantastic book you read, a vacation you took or your upcoming book release your post will show on the tribe feed and members have the option of sharing it. It’s a hell of a lot easier than tweeting your ass off all day long and looking for relevant blogs to share.

***I will say I only use Twitter on my Triberr. This is because I try and use LinkedIn for an online professional resume. I don’t have Facebook linked because my personal Facebook is only for close friends and family and is not open to the public. I have a Facebook page for writing. However, with just a couple clicks it’s easy to share a post manually in situations like this and I do that often. ***

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I personally belong to 6 tribes so far. Two of them are Tribes about traveling and vacations because my dream is to get paid to write travel articles. Four of them are Tribes devoted to writing and publishing because my job that I love most is being an author. Not all blog posts I write are relevant though for each tribe. My travel blogs show up on my feed for my writing and publishing Tribes and my posts about author interviews or my next novel is shown in my travel tribes feed. Remember, every post you write from your connected blogs or websites are shared with all of your Tribes no matter what. So you can’t realistically expect people in a travel tribe to share your latest post about your next book. They might yes, and it’s cool if they do but they might not so don’t be a sad blogger when they don’t. This post, for instance, might be shared on all 6 since it crosses genre’s and boundaries.

As a member of these tribes, I do my best to get on every few days and share interesting posts. It’s how it works and is the point of the whole thing. We work as a team of sorts. If you learn some good blogging techniques like using certain hashtags on certain days then it can really expand your reach.

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How it’s helped me

 

Besides the sharing aspect of Triberr, there are a few things that have helped me as a blogger and author by being in these Tribes. One is access to interesting information, ideas and techniques. Remember at the beginning of this post when I talked about finding ways to become a better blogger? Well by reading these blogs from my Tribemates who live around the world I’ve been able to learn about what works and doesn’t as a blogger. When it comes to travel blogs I’ve learned what kind of things people blog about, all the avenues there are for writing and even site layout and design. I’ve learned a lot about places that would have never crossed my mind. I only wish that I was able to travel more so I could write more interesting and relevant posts both as a member and a hopeful travel writing professionally.

I think the most beneficial though has been my writing and publishing tribes. I have made several very good friends on my writing Tribes. I’ve learned a lot about the writing business, bettering myself as a writer and author and learned about subgenre’s which I would never have considered reading, looking into or even knew existed. The people in these tribes are immensely dedicated to writing and the business of writing and are in all levels of the book business. Some are authors (indie and a few traditionally published), some are book bloggers, some are marketers and some are editors or just readers but all are involved in the writing business. I’ve connected with other book bloggers, marketers and gotten involved in doing author promotions and book releases. These are things that I may have never done or taken me much longer to do on my own. I think everyone is far more connected than I am in these Tribes and that is okay.

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When my newest novel, All the Roads Home came out I don’t think the release would have done nearly as well without the sharing of my blog posts from my Tribe. My visibility as an author (as much as it is) is in no small part to these awesome bloggers and writers. If you are running a book giveaway or another marketing undertaking, then belonging to a Tribe is a great way to get it out there. I have won several books and gift cards from authors whose giveaways I have found via my Tribes posts. Since joining Triberr I’ve noticed a remarkable jump in site views and interactions on my blog that might not have happened otherwise.

 

I think whether you are new to the writing business and blogging or more experienced with it then finding a Tribe with dedicated members is one of the best things you can do to improve your readership and visibility. I think I pay more attention to my Tribemates tweets than others on my twitter feed since I know they usually have interesting stuff. More than anything it’s a great way to network with like-minded people on the internet. It’s not necessarily about what I like but rather what content my readers and followers would find interesting on that day.

 

 


Author Interview with Benjamin Andrus #Michiganauthors #fantasyauthors #AuthorInterviews

This is the next installment of a series of interviews I will be doing with Michigan authors. We have a very interesting and diverse bunch of writers in this state who represent a wide swath of genre’s. For the first interview this month I would like to introduce you to Benjamin Andrus who is no stranger to the Journeys & Life blog.

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“Ben, it’s been a long time since we talked…even in person and I just want you to know this deeply saddens me. Before we get started why don’t you take few lines and tell everyone what’s been going on in your life lately. I know you recently graduated from Grand Valley State University so how do you feel about that?”

Mike I too am sad we haven’t had a chance to talk. I graduated from Grand Valley. I feel happy. But, once out in the real world, life hits hard. So I spent the whole summer and most of the winter finding a real job, one that pays enough for me to live. Now that search is over! I am pleased to say, now I have a career. (At least, a job that pays enough to support my writing!) Now I am looking forward to my wedding later this year!”

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Me:  Ben, you published The Moonless Night (Part 1 of the Veldorian Saga) in 2013 and the sequel Force of Nature last January (2015). How is the third installment of the series going and will this be the end of your first series.

Ben:The third book is going well, considering. Because life is still necessary to live, I have not been putting the time into it I would have liked, however, it is still a good portion complete and should be released this year. It is the last book in the series chronologically, but I still have plans for a few of the main characters being in books of their own.

Me: So how much time would you say that are devoting to writing this next book in a week?

Ben:1500-2000 words per week on average. In a perfect world, I would be doing 1000 words a day, so it’s much slower than I would like.”

 

 

Me: Do you know the title will be? Any little Easter eggs you wanna share?

Ben:As I have not come up with a title yet. I usually don’t, until the book is complete and then it punches me in the face. By way of a teaser, Aislinn and Lonessa will finally come face to face in this book!

Me: It’s about damn time!!

 

Me: Now that you are 2 books into your writing career what is the worst experience you have had with the industry as a whole and what is the best.

Ben: “The worst experience has to be with various vanity press outlets. I won’t name names, but when the author has to pay a substantial part of the publishing cost, the publisher becomes little more than a retail outlet we as authors have to navigate with little to know help. Once I cleared all the confusing propaganda and advertisements of the for-profit publishers, finding communities of authors on Facebook is a big help.

Me:  Feel free to name names friend. If anything you would be helping other “virgin authors” out by being blunt and open. So what’s the best experience?

BenXlibris and Outskirts were the two worst to deal with. I still get phone calls from the former. The best experience was with Createspace. I know most of it was automated, but when I did need customer support, they were very helpful over the phone.

 

Me: Social media and using it right is a huge part of being a successful author today regardless of if you are Indie or Traditionally published. Why are you so bad it? Why are you so ambivalent about using it?

Ben: “Should never have said Facebook. I knew you would bring this up! Ha Ha. I read a lot of articles that are posted in a few of the groups we share, and I like hearing about other author’s experience, it helps the writing community as a whole. As for me, I am not good at social media, I haven’t updated my personal Facebook page in months…. I think my genes that help me understand computers started off sick, and now have completely atrophied. Most of the time, and I know this is horrible, I don’t even think about social media as a way to market my book, the concept is foreign to me.

Me: Interesting. If you don’t think about social media as a way to market your books, then how do you market your books? One of the biggest ways to improve your sales and visibility is interacting with readers and other authors via the internet or in person. Understanding you are like a grandma on the internet; do you think you will improve on this?

Ben: “Hold on, my tea is ready, and have you seen my slippers? Honestly, though, these first novels are only the beginning, as I learn and grow with writing, I will eventually grow into learning the internet.

 

Me: If you could do one thing better as an author what would it be.

Ben:See above. No, but really, being an author is more about writing a clever story or putting pretty words together. It is about creating the world that you share with others, building a reality. In my books, I want to build that world and fully immerse the reader into it. Anytime I can improve that experience, put real emotion into real people, who are real to the reader, I work on it. In short, world building.”

Me: Ok world building. So, that means you are not happy with how things have gone so far. So, what are you going to do better from this point on and is there anything specifically you would change looking back with how you had done things.

Ben: “Not 100% happy with it no. There are so many moving parts to each book, and I feel like I ignore some of them. I know the world I create in my book isn’t as good as I want it to be, and I think that is a function of how much story content there is. With the third book, the world building is much better. Each chapter I write, I learn something new.”

 

Me: Was there anything useful you learned during your time at GVSU from their writing department? How would you say that creative writing degree has helped your writing if at all?

Ben: “I would like to thank my first two writing professors. They both helped me rekindle a passion for writing that laid dormant for years. And the best advice I got was “put your characters in space,” and that is what started my novel writing career. I did not receive any special training that seems different from a lot of the articles that are circulating. The main help was refocusing my drive to write, and the practice I got while writing. Neither of those things are exclusive to a university degree, but it was easier to get all the help I needed at university. Bottom line is, I’ve been saying it for years, “Writing is sacred. Practice it.” And you don’t need higher education to do that.”

Me: So do think that getting a Bachelors degree in creative writing was especially useful or helpful to you as an author? I know I found that a lot of the classes I had to take were of no specific help to me as a fictional novelist because of the writing departments focus on literary fiction and non-fiction and their tendency to look down on genre fiction? Personally, I was also annoyed with the lack of direction when it came to the process of writing a fictional story (thankfully I had other better sources for help).  I know we both had a few professors who rekindled our passion or lit a fire under our butts. I was also rather shocked by the writings staffs general lack of knowledge about modern publishing and their overall dismissive attitude towards indie publishing. So what do you think about that?

Ben: “To be frank, the only good that came out of a GVSU specific degree was the practice, but I can practice without paying for college. The idea of a creative writing degree is a good one, but any attempt to intellectualize art is a fool’s errand. So most of the time the professors are assigning arbitrary grades to pieces written to fit a mold and not to tell a story. Don’t misunderstand me, like I said before there are some good professors out there that treat writing like an art and actually help, so it is really more about having good people to share your writing with than about a college degree. I agree with you about their general lack of any knowledge about indie publishing, and to their shame, were rather arrogant and dismissive about the whole industry. Universities need to be taken with a grain of salt. Most of those professors haven’t been outside of Allendale in decades. ”

Me: In plain speak, I feel the common advice from that writing department was, “Just keep honing your art (the way we tell you to) and sending out those pieces of writing to writing journals (that no one has ever heard of or pays attention to except academia) and wait for their approval that you are ready to be taken seriously as an author. Indie publishing isn’t a real thing”.  Personally, I still wonder if my original major of Journalism would have been more advantageous Ben.

 

Me. If you could rank yourself on a scale from 1- 10 when it comes to how serious of a writer you are where would you be and why.

Ben: I’m not sure I like the philosophy behind this question. I am a writer, a bard, a storyteller. 10, maybe even 11. Now that number does not speak to my marketing savvy, we both know that! There are very few days that pass without me putting down 250-1000 words in a story her or there. I bounce from story to story with some regularity so finishing one work first is difficult. I work on three large projects at the same time and trash two of them… (well not trash just shelve for the moment) once I figure out the end to the other once.

Me: Ok let me rephrase that question, Ben. Some writers look at their writing like a hobby; they are trying it out and if it doesn’t work out then they move on to the next interest. Some look at it and treat it like the business it is now. Writing, all facets of it from writing to publishing and marketing are important for modern writers. So where do you think you would put yourself. I myself would put me at a 7 or 8 and that has to do with my family life and limited funds.

Ben: “Ah, I get it. I guess it is obvious I have a passion for writing! I would like to say 10, but in reality, it would be down around 5 over the past year. The Work-Life balance was thrown off a bit.”

 

Me: What’s one book you read lately (either fiction or nonfiction……hell why not one from each)

Ben: “You mean besides the Dungeon Master’s Guide 3.5? “Oryx and Crake” by Margret Atwood, her style (the way she puts the words she chooses into sentences) is so fun! And the story is interesting! I’m using the DMG3.5 for the non-fiction book!

Me: I don’t even know what the hell that (DMG 3.5) is so I don’t know what else to say. I didn’t realize you are a Margret Atwood fan. Is that an interest picked up in college or were you always an Atwood fan. WAIT! What non-fiction book? Explain this.

Ben: “I started liking Atwood after being forced to read Blind Assassin for school. The Maddadam series is my favorite from her. The DMG 3.5 is the rule book for being the Dungeon Master for Dungeons and Dragons. I guess it doesn’t count for non-fiction, haha. I did finish Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” recently. He has beautiful descriptions of nature. It is a fun read.

 

Me: I am sure you see a lot of the same writing advice I have that clutters our Facebook and Twitter feeds. What’s one or two pieces of bad or overused writing advice that just pisses you off as a novelist that you so a lot.

Ben: “I guess all of it. I don’t view writing the same way as most people. I’ve seen articles about the importance of editing. If you have to read an article to know having proper grammar is important, please stop writing. The industry of indie authors has a miasma of unprofessionalism already. Each self-published author that sends a book out with no editing and terrible proofreading hurts us all.”

 

Me: We’ve all read books that were supposed to be awesome and amazing and turned out to be huge piles of shit but are best sellers regardless. What is one book that you have read in the last few years or even recently that everyone said was great but after you read it— you hated. (this could be fiction or not. Choose one and no it can’t be mine lol).

 

Ben: “To Kill a Mockingbird” I bought it because of all the hype about a sequel and all that. Well, turns out, terrible book. I could barely stomach reading the first page. I have never encountered a work of fiction that read like the ingredients list on a box of generic cheerios before. I can’t say that now.”

Me: “Are fucking kidding me lol. Ok, you have to explain this one more since TKAM is one of the most loved books in American fiction history. We took the same lit classes in college so dissect it a little? Why do you think TKAM was such a big hit?”

Ben: I’m not taking away from the quality of the book itself. Sure a lot of people liked it, it spoke to a generation, blah blah blah. Not my generation, I didn’t like it. And let me tell you why. I have never broken my arm, but my thumb is still parallel to my thigh, my hands face backwards, and is she talking about THE Battle of Hastings? WTF? Wasn’t that 1066, I don’t get it. Her sentences are simple and unexciting, and I will have no part in it. It was, at one time, the great American novel, but it is not anymore.

 

Me: What’s your most recent writing jam?

Ben: The most recent jam is this question. Most of my jams come when I write part of the story that takes characters away from what I originally intended. I then have to make a choice, either scrape what I got, or change the story, and it’s difficult. This third book has been particularly tricky with that aspect.

Me: Ok I actually really like that answer a lot but by “Jam” I was referring to the somewhat old-fashioned urban reference to music.

Ben: Music, I’ve heard of this. I have two ‘jams’ at the moment. Viking death metal for writing in the Veldorian Saga, and an eclectic blend of Pitch Perfect, Russian pop, and O Brother Where art Thou for writing anything else.

 

Me: I’ll assume you have learned a lot of things about your own personal writing habits and abilities these last few years. What is the one thing you have found that works that you would want to share with other up and coming writers. (think helpful hints).

Ben: Writing is sacred. Practice it. In order to practice writing the correct way, and the way that most benefits the author, is to write EVERY DAY. It keeps the story fresh in your mind, keeps the fingers loose, and develops a way of thinking that lends itself to writing. But equally as important, share it with others. No one ever wrote anything down that was intended for only one person to read. EVER. It is, by its very nature, a social activity, and needs to be done socially. Share it, critique it, edit it, practice it. I may also have a degree in philosophy.

Me: Obviously you never had a private journal then? Or do you think subconsciously people with journals actually WANT others to read them? But really this is where you and I differ because I follow the belief that writing every day doesn’t necessarily help a writer or author become better. By doing that they just follow a pattern of learned and programmed behavior without taking the time to reflect on their writing, life, and the world. I think breaks are needed and required. But let’s be real that advice is everywhere and overused, “Writers read, Writers write every day”. So common Ben give me something unique!!

Ben: I journal all the time! And you’re right, writing every day for the sake of writing is not the best. I guess I mean, write every day, but also practice it. Find story starters or different aspects of stories and try to work them into your writing. One of my professors had a wheel with several elements of a story on it, such as First person POV, non-linear timeline, non-human main character. We would spin the wheel and have to write a short story using this story device. It was challenging and helped me grow as a writer. So practice writing, don’t just write.

Me: I did not have that professor and wish I would have *grumbling*

 

Me: There are people out there who sell fake book reviews (and by this I mean they sell reviews). It’s been big news lately because of sites like Fiverr. What do think of people who charge authors fees for writing reviews for books they have never read? What do you think of authors who pay for reviews like this?

Ben: This is the first I’m hearing of it. (Proves I don’t know the internet, right?) I think it is disgusting. Authors create the story. Critics keep authors honest. If there were no critics, authors would be shoving their individual propaganda down our throats with little to no regard to grammar or readability. (Wouldn’t it be nice to write without fear of the review?) When an author pays for a review, they break that sacred trust the public has in the system. If this continues, it could destroy storytelling on a massive scale. It is dishonest, and if there is proof any author does this, boycott their books, kick them out of the community. No author worth their salt would pay for a fraudulent review. Far better it is to receive 3 earned than 5 purchased.

Me: I totally agree with you about that “trust”. But yeah it’s quite a big deal and it is just part of the business you haven’t fully immersed yourself in yet (but I know you will). In fact, Amazon.com recently filed lawsuits against thousands of users of the website Fiverr for doing this. Amazon is cracking down on fake reviews a lot and has been removing them from book sales pages. That being said, though, reviews sell books. So what do you as an author think you can do better in order to get honest reviews since in this day and age we live or die by reviews?

Ben: There you have me. At the current time, I do not know. By the end of this year, I will have a different answer for you.

 

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Ben and his wonderfully supportive fiance

 

Me:  How does your fiance deal with all the time you spend writing? Between her school, your work and your writing do you find it hard to balance everything so your time is split fairly? Some writers are so writing focused that their writing overtakes their personal life. I know I have a hard time finding a good balance?

Ben: “For most of my time spent writing, she is in the room working on something of her own. It helps me to bounce ideas off her, and we converse a little while I write. It works out well.”

 

 

Ok Ben, so you have two novels out now and let’s be real you are struggling a bit in author visibility. I read both your books and they are wonderful examples of what’s good in the frenzy that is the fantasy genre. Since this interview has the potential to reach millions of people through my awesome friends on social media you have THREE sentences to give them compelling reasons why they should pick up your books.

GO!!!

 

“George R. R. Martin redefined, at least, some small portion of, the fantasy genre; my books play off that new definition to bring the reader an honest look into the lives of the people of Veldoria. It is a truly thought out world complete with its own history, mythology, and even the vestiges of old religions. The thoughts and actions of my characters are grounded in years of formal philosophical training, and they will befriend or bedevil you, hopefully at the very least, give you something to ponder as their reactions to life are similar to our own.”

 

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Keep up with Ben below:

Twitter: @BenjaminJAndrus

Facebook

Bens Blog: https://benjaminjandrus.wordpress.com/

 

Check out Bens Titles Below:

Force of nature Moonles night

 

 


Movie Review – The Martian #Moviereviews #MondayBlogs

The Martian

Starring:  Matt Damon

So I realize I may be a Johnny come lately on this review considering the movie came out this past summer and countless people have written reviews. Perhaps, though, it’s better that way.

We all should know they basic story of this movie by now but I’ll fill you in just in case. Astronaut Mark Watney is marooned on Mars when a storm forces him and his crew to evacuate. The film follows Watneys struggle to survive on the big red planet as well as those who are on earth and in space trying to rescue him. I watched The Martian three times before writing this review…but not necessarily because it was that great of a movie. It took me three viewings to decide whether or not I actually liked it or if I was forcing myself to like it because it’s a golden globe winner, academy award nominee, I’m a Matt Damon fan and it was incredibly popular.

I ended up liking the movie. I liked it as much as I liked Gravity and I think it put Damon up at another level as far as his acting talent goes. I would give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars (maybe 4) but I won’t say it’s Oscar material. I will say I felt a little let down. I was hoping for more emotional depth and more feeling all the way around but I did enjoy Watneys personality. His personal video recordings were handled in the same way how I think I would handle things if I was stuck on Mars. Of course, I would be screwed because I, “don’t math good” and I would die. I thought some of his one-liners when he was all alone were hilarious. It made me wonder, though, how would his character react if he never was able to contact NASA and the rescue still happened (somehow). How crazy would he have been because in this case he seemed to keep his humanity and spirits up?

The special effects were amazing, the set design was awesome and it felt incredibly realistic. Even the science and technology used was realistic and feasible (did anyone else notice they never specified a year when this took place?) Space movies are a hard genre in the film industry I think. Movie fans of this genre are so particular and many, I think, have at least rudimentary background in science and space or interested in it. For some, in an older generation 2001 Space Odyssey set the bar or even the Right Stuff and for younger folks something like Gravity or Firefly might do it. What gives the most accurate depiction of future space travel is up in the air.

There were some great moments in The Martian, little Easter eggs that only hardcore movie and book fans would notice. In one scene some NASA administrators were arguing about the code name for a special mission and their secret names. The name Elrond came up and then they started picking out code names based on Lord of the Rings. Ironically Sean Bean who played Boromir in the first film in the LOTR trilogy was in The Martian and in this scene (I was never sure about his position at NASA though) which gave me a chuckle.  Another thing that I noticed that wasn’t relevant when the movie came out was the playing of David Bowie’s song “Starman”. With last week’s passing of the rock icon, I found this scene in the movie and relevancy of the song all that more touching and meaningful. Oh and don’t forget Bucky Barns from Captain America was in this so that made the Iron Man reference a little funnier.

Overall the movie would without a doubt rank in the top 10 for my favorite space themed movies but I don’t know if it would make the top 5 and here is why.

The music– I wasn’t a fan of the music because I hate disco. Although I found it humorous and it played into certain scenes of the movie well (I know that was the point) there wasn’t much an emotional tie in between the music and the story. I like movies where the score and the script go hand in hand and they elevate each other. Another space movie (also co-starring Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon) was Interstellar. That score made the film, even more dramatic and really set the mood for almost every scene.

Details – I didn’t like the abrupt seven-month jump where Watney lost all the weight. I was shocked and horrified with how much he looked like some poor holocaust victim. I would have liked to see at least a little bit of this seven-month time because the dramatic jump just left me saying, “what the hell happened here?” I really wanted to see the crew’s reaction to his physically deteriorated condition after the dramatic rescue. I think that would have added to the emotional value of the film. But the closest we got was him taking his helmet off and them commenting on his smell.

People on Earth – Part of the draw of this movie was that the whole world united (more or less) to rescue Watney. With the exception of the final scene (the actual rescue), there wasn’t much shown in regards to whether or not the people on earth really cared much. I felt this was a giant missing element of the film. I hate to say it but it’s a great example of where “showing not telling” would be better. If idea was to show the possibilities of the future of human space travel if the people of earth worked together for that goal it wasn’t made very clear.

The End – Although I liked the summary at the end when it showed where the members of that crew were after the rescue mission I would have liked to see the crew and Watney actually arrive on earth. Yes, I wanted to see the Top Gun celebration butt slapping, high fives and all. Overall the ending reminded me of how the Tom Hanks movie Castaway ended.

There were two moments of the movie for me that were very touching emotionally. They were when they were doing the final countdown before the rescue and Watney started crying after he said: “Go”. The second is after the rescue was announced and the blonde girl with glasses started crying. I don’t know why that last one hit me so hard but perhaps it was because she was the first one at NASA to realize Watney was still alive. The movie is really a must see if you like Matt Damon and space movies. It’s not the best in my opinion and far from it but still a high quality movie. Now I just need to read the book it was based on.

-Just a note. I watched this on OnDemand and haven’t seen the deleted scenes or bonus feature which may exist on the DVD/Blueray version-

 


Hans M Hirschi

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