Daily Archives: July 12, 2015

Ask the Alien – 7/12/15 – Special Guest Justin Sloan

Greetings Earth Losers!  A Happy Sunday to you all and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules of Comic Con Cosplay to read this fine column.

(Sorry, but all 3.5 of you can’t be Daenerys Targaryen.  2.5 of you are going to have to change.)

Huzzah!  My favorite Game of Thrones characters is doing great and...uh oh.

Huzzah! My favorite Game of Thrones character is doing great and…uh oh.

Speaking of, Bookshelf Q. Battler, a Game of Thrones fanboy if there ever was one, not only plotzed, but passed out and had to be resuscitated by the Yeti when he received this tweet:

Yes, that’s none other than Justin Sloan, a writer for Telltale Games, who’s worked on the Game of Thrones video game, as well as Tales from the Borderlands.

He’s an optioned screen writer, a USMC veteran, and a recent guest on the Self Publishing Podcast with Johnny, Sean and Dave:

Read more about that podcast on the Sterling and Stone site.

BQB informs me he enjoyed that podcast thoroughly, because it explains how one author managed to rise above the odds and land a sweet, sweet career as video game writer.  You don’t get there without rolling up your sleeves and putting a little elbow grease in, folks, and Justin can certainly attest to that.

(Plus, Dave doesn’t even complain about the lousy service at Target and Olive Garden once in the entire show.)

Teddy Bears in Monsterland

Teddy Bears in Monsterland

Anyway, long story short, BQB reached out to Justin to inform him he enjoyed his appearance on SPP and Justin, class act that he is, requested that one of his books be pitted against a classic on bookshelfbattle.com

After reviewing Justin’s Amazon Author Page, I, Alien Jones, humble intergalactic correspondent, will now pit one of his works against a classic and decide which one is better.

Teddy Bears in Monsterland vs. Hamlet

Hamlet.  It’s considered by scholars of English literature to be the quintessential piece of writing that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.

It’s routinely assigned in high school English classes and actors believe it is a great achievement when cast in a production of the Bard’s seminal work.

But, it’s severely lacking in the teddy bears vs. monsters department.

I’ve studied the entire play and not once do I see:

POLONIUS:  Come come, my son, for your ship doth prepare to embark and thou hast yet to encounter a teddy bear with magical powers.

LAERTES:  Fi on thee, oh father!  For I hath witnessed many bow tied teddy bears able to harness the power of the supernatural for the purposes of dispatching monsters most foul!

A great oversight on Shakespeare’s part, if you ask me.  I don’t know how he wasn’t laughed out of the industry for such an epic fail.

WINNER:  Teddy Bears in Monsterland (Book 1 of the Teddy Defenders Series, Recommended for Children ages 7-12)

Justin also mentioned that out of all of his works, he’s partial to Back By Sunrise, a Magical Children’s Fantasy Novel.

As an alien being with a superior intellect (which doesn’t take much when you’re around humans), I’m fairly certain Back by Sunrise would soundly defeat The Chronicles of Narnia.  Really, all a competitor has to do is offer Edmund a piece of candy and he’ll gladly sell out his entire family.

Are you an aspiring scribe?  Justin has some books about writing that you might want to check out as well.

Finally, and avert your eyes Game of Thrones fans if you don’t want to read a SPOILER but, come on Justin.  Seriously.  What’s next for Jon Snow?  Is there a resurrection afoot?  Maybe the Red Woman works a little hocus pocus?  Perhaps a little eye of newt gets dropped into a potion and Jon’s back to his old mopey know nothing self again?

Come on.  Spill the beans. The secret will be safe here.  Only 3.5 people read this blog anyway, and one of them is Bookshelf Q. Battler’s aunt.

Alien Jones is the Intergalactic Correspondent for the Bookshelf Battle Blog, on a mission to raise Earth’s collective intelligence levels one question at a time. Do you have an inquiry for the Esteemed Brainy One? Tweet it to @bookshelfbattle or leave it in the comments on bookshelfbattle.com. If he likes your question, he might even promote your book, blog, or other project in his answer.

Green alien image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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Future Ideas for Pop Culture Mysteries

Happy Sunday, 3.5 Readers.

Delilah K. Donnelly, BQB's exceptionally attractive henchwoman...er, attorney.

Delilah K. Donnelly, BQB’s exceptionally attractive henchwoman…er, attorney.

Here’s the deal.

In my personal life, I’m busier than a porcupine at a pin cushion convention.

If I get an hour a day to write, I consider myself lucky.

That’s why blogging works for me.  Every day, a short daily post, and then I move on.

That’s also why Jake, Ms. Donnelly and I are doing so well with Pop Culture Mysteries.  Ms. Donnelly delivers, Jake reports, I post.  Who could ask for anything more?

Here’s some ideas for the future.  Since you’re my 3.5 readers, you tell me if any, all, or none of these are appealing:

#1 – A Spin-Off Site

I’m mulling over the possibility of creating a spin-off Pop Culture Mysteries site.  Already secured the site and everything.  It’d be all Jake all the time.

PRO:  Jake gets his own digs.  More Internet presence for the Bookshelf Battle goodness.

CON:  It’s been an uphill battle in the snow with no shoes on to get people to feast their peepers on this site.  The idea of splitting visits and views among two sites rather than just bring them all here worries me.

But if I did create a spin-off site:

#2 – Both Sites Work Together 

As said above, I have less free time than a cat a yarn ball factory.

Jake and I would set up the Pop Culture Mystery posts here on bookshelfbattle.com.  You, the 3.5 readers, would give us advice, feedback, criticism, ideas to make them better.

In fact, as the gumshoe and I consider directions the various plot lines of the series will take in the future, we can already see some things we’d like to change in what’s been posted so far.

(Jake and I have still yet to meet in person.  Ms. Donnelly handles all our correspondence, of course.)

Am I going to fully rely on you 3.5 readers?  No.  In the future, I hope to retain the help of an editor.  But, for those interested in self-publishing, this is a chance to see how the sausage is made.

The posts on bookshelfbattle.com would essentially be rough drafts.

After Jake and I get the time to flush them out (with your feedback), I’d post the polished posts on the Pop Culture Mysteries spin-off site to be preserved for the ages.

Which brings us to:

#3 – Seasons, Arcs and Books

Multiple posts would be put together on the spin-off site as seasons.  Each season would follow Hatcher through different story arcs.

And each season would end a book that would be sold on Amazon (perhaps even other book distribution platforms in the future).

For example, we’re in season one right now.  It’s an introductory season where we are learning who the characters are.  I hope to end it with… Mr. Devil Man (read a sneak peak of the first chapter here).

The books would be stand-alone, meaning a) you could buy it, read it, and understand it without ever having read the site posts but b) hopefully book readers would enjoy it enough that they’d go in search of more Bookshelf Battle goodness by visiting the sites (this one and the spin-off), thus increasing platform traffic.

I foresee a lot of audience interactivity:

  • Self-publishing nerds advise Jake and I here on the Bookshelf Battle Blog.
  • Mystery nerds enjoy Jake’s stories on the spin-off blog
  • Book nerds enjoy Jake’s books sold on Amazon.
  • I enjoy the profits because Ms. Donnelly is one hell of a lawyer and Jake doesn’t bother to read the fine print.

Speaking of…

#4 – Putting Money Into This

Relax.  I’m talking about my money.

I don’t want to knock self-publishers, writers and other artists who rattle their electronic tin cup to ask for donations.

Some people have accomplished great deeds doing that.  The Veronica Mars and Super Troopers 2 campaigns being examples that come to mind.

Personally, I find it icky so I’m not going to do that.

I look at this as a business and if it’s to go forward I need to put some skin in the game.  What does that mean?  I don’t know.

Enlisting some editing help, character artwork, images etc.

In business, the best strategy is to put out based on what’s coming in.

In other words:

  • You build a lemonade stand.
  • Everyone on your street stops by.  You make a second pitcher of lemonade.
  • Everyone in your neighborhood comes over.  You make a third pitcher.
  • Everyone in town wants your delicious lemonade.  You dump the stand and rent a storefront.
  • People in the next town over drive all the way over just to sample your tasty lemonade.  Time to invest in a second location.
  • People just can’t get enough off that sweet yellow stuff (shut up, I’m talking about lemonade).  You need to start selling franchise rights because…profit!

What you don’t want to do:

  • You build a lemonade stand.
  • Aunt Gertie says it’s the best lemonade she’s ever hand.
  • You drain your bank account, take out a high-interest loan from a loan shark, and set up a bunch of lemonade stores on the hope that people will come only to be left with a bunch of empty stores, moldy unused lemons, and two broken legs. (Damn loan sharks).

That was my longwinded way of saying that the first season or two will look like they were produced on a modest budget, but if people like the work, I’d gladly put book proceeds towards making future seasons better.

The biggest criticism of self-publishing is that it often looks cheap.  That’s somewhat understandable because these are often works produced by people on a budget, not big time studios with cash to burn.

But there’s a difference between cheap and crappy.  It’s possible to put out respectable work on a budget.

Cheap doesn’t mean your work has to look like it was packaged by a bunch of carny folk.

Take The Simpsons. The first shorts that appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show were cheap to be sure, but they made people laugh and convinced FOX to dump some money into it.  Here they are, still kicking after 26 years.

It’s all a carefully choreographed dance.  I can’t put a ton of my own money into it now in the hopes it will pay off big time later. If it doesn’t, my bill collectors aren’t going to buy “sorry, I spent all the money on my private dick” as an excuse.

But the more eyes that end up on the sites and books, the more old BQB’s wallet can be pried open, even if moths will fly out.

#5 – Conclusions 

All I’m really asking is:

  • Does this strategy sound good or bad?
  • How have Jake and I done on the series so far?  Does it seem like something worth putting more work into?

As always, thanks for listening, 3.5 readers.

Copyright (c) 2015 Bookshelf Q. Battler.

All Rights Reserved.

Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – The Wrong Guy – Part 7

PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…

Hatcher’s on the hunt for Craig Henneman, a stick-up man who committed a mortal sin in Hatcher’s eyes, namely, offing the guy who supplied him with alcohol.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6

AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…

For a lawman, there’s nothing more unsettling than a locked door.

I’d found myself outside a slew of them in my day and each time, only God knew what was waiting for me on the other side.

And he was never in a sharing mood.

Hatcher and Betsy back together again.

Hatcher and Betsy back together again.

I was standing outside Henneman’s apartment, Wanda still resting snugly under my arm in a nondescript flower box.

Though the scumbag I was after had taken his ID back when he rifled through my pockets earlier, I remembered the address with the help of my photographic memory.

A good memory is just one of the many traits a man has to hone in order to become an investigator of my caliber.

I rapped three times on the door.

“Delivery!”  I barked.  “I have a delivery for a Mr. Craig Henneman.”

Come out and get delivered to your maker, you rat bastard.

Hearing nothing, I pulled out my tension wrench and lock pick, two tools any good locksmith has on him.

I inserted my two little helpers and searched for that special lineup of pins that would gain me entry to the home of a murderer.

Snap.  The bolt turned and I was in.

No need for the subterfuge any more.  I dropped the box and started clearing rooms, letting Wanda’s double-barrells to lead the way.

The bathroom was clean.  To clarify, I’m saying it was “clean” in that there was no one hiding in there waiting to smash my coconut open with a beer bottle, not in the tidy sense.  The toilet looked and smelled like it hadn’t been cleaned in the history of the world.  The only ones happy about that were the cockroaches who were using it as their own personal swimming pool.

Pretty sure I saw one of those nasties do the backstroke.

Moving on, I hit the kitchen.  No one there either.

In my LAPD days, I cleared out crapholes like this all the time.  As long as you treat every nook and cranny as if its being used for cover by some delinquent who wants to introduce you to the business end of a gun, there’s nothing to it.

I headed for the living room.  It was a mess, but a mess the local coppers would be interested in.

The coffee table was lousy with heaps of white powder.  Another hundred  or so small bags of stuff sat in a pile on the couch.

China white.  Columbian nose candy.  Big time booger sugar.

Called by any other name, it was still cocaine.

There was a bedroom off to the right.  I kicked in the door.

No one.  Nothing but trash, moldy food plates, and empty take-out containers.

It was like someone was waiting for a maid that was never going to come.

I stepped back into the living room and was about to clear the bedroom on the other side when three shots were fired through the door, the bullets narrowly missing my squash.

Wanda belched out of both barrels as I dove backward, landing on the coffee table, which smashed into splinters as it broke my fall.  The white powder went flying everywhere, turning the living room into a blizzard.

Some of it got into my mouth.  It had a fresh, pleasant smell almost like…baby powder.

Another shot.  I was flat on my back on the floor so it came nowhere near me.

I pulled two shells out of my pocket, inserted them into Wanda and cocked her with great gusto.

One more shot.

I was a firearms expert and I could tell by the sound of the blasts and the size of the holes in the door that the goon holed up in the bedroom was using my very own Betsy against me.

The sixth shot came.  The idiot was out.

“Get your ass out here and face the music, Henneman!”

The response?

“Wah gwaan, mon?!  Irie, irie!”

I sprang to my feet, kicked in the door and pointed Wanda at a fella who wasn’t the man I was looking for.

I’m not sure how to describe him.  He was white but he had these long dreadlocks, a pair of pants with a bunch of pockets and a green and yellow shirt that depicted the Jamaican flag.  I assumed his eyesight was subpar, since he squinted behind a pair of round black glasses.

I get we live in very politically correct, racially sensitive times now, the logistics of which can be hard for a fella from the 1950’s to wade through sometimes, so I’m just going to say he looked like a white guy trying to pass himself off as a black guy and hope I don’t offend Mr. Battler’s 3.5 readers into flying the coop.

“Drop that piece and kick it over here.  And keep your hands where I can see ’em.”

He did as I ordered.

“You aren’t fit to have your grubby paws anywhere this six-shooter, slime ball.”

“Jah mon!  Yah come up herr actin’ the bombaclad fool!”

“Where’s Henneman?”

“Who?”

“Don’t play dumb with me,” I said.  “Craig Henneman.  He lives here.  Where is he?”

“Jah mon me yardie Craig jammin off to de Jamrock mon, the birdy fly fly away to de funkyside.”

I grabbed the weirdo by his shirt collar and slammed him against the wall.

“UNHAND ME JAH FILTHY BALDHEAD!”

“TALK NORMAL!!!”

Suddenly, the clown’s accent moved from Rastafarian to clueless Californian.

“OK sir,”  he said in a shaky voice.  “I apologize for shooting at you but I hope now cooler heads can prevail and we can talk this out with some rational dialogue.”

“If you don’t tell me where your buddy is in two seconds…”

“It’s cool man, it’s cool.  He’s out there.  He’s rustling up some cash.  You can go back to Diego and tell him he’s going to get his money soon and then we can put this whole silly misunderstanding behind us.”

“Who’s Diego?”  I asked.

“You’re not here to collect for Diego?”

“No.”

From behind me, I heard the metallic sound of a hand gun slide being racked up.

“Then step aside because I am.”

Copyright (c) 2015 Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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