Why We Don’t Need a Black Widow Movie (Right Now)

Black Widow has been a strong female presence within the Marvel movies for quite some time, and I always see fans campaign for her solo movie. The movement also appears to be fueled with angst every time Black Widow ends up being left out of Avengers merchandising plans, and I totally get the frustration, but I think she isn’t necessarily the best option for solo female movie.

black-widow-marvel

Image from Marvel.com

My pick for a female lead in a superhero movie?

Ororo Munroe.

And the question I often get when I say that?

“Who’s that?”

*Insert facepalm here*

Oh-em-gee. It’s Storm from the X-men. Sadly, many who watch the comic book movies don’t even really know her name or where she comes from. Ororo Munroe is the descendant of a long line of African priestesses who all donned white hair, blue eyes, and harnessed the power of magic.

Many people might not know Storm spent part of her childhood in Cairo, Egypt where her parents were tragically killed. Or that she was trained in the art of thievery. Or how she came to join Charles Xavier and the X-men.

astonishing_x-men_29_cover_by_simone_bianchi

Marvel’s Astonishing X-men #29 cover by Simone Bianchi

In a step towards diversity, I think it’s fantastic that a Black Panther movie is in the works and a Luke Cage show is prepped for Netflix. I also think the diversity needs to continue with LBGTQ characters and more people of color—females included. To give the spotlight to another straight, white hero would be a missed opportunity to showcase that comics do have marginalized characters with great stories to tell.

WARNING: Mild spoilery alert ** Agent Carter is doing a great job of showcasing a different Black Widow character within the miniseries. Everyone knows Natasha Romanova wasn’t the only Black Widow, right? Agent Carter’s character, Dotty, allows us to dive deeper into the origins of the Black Widow program. So we have one Black Widow going mainstream in Marvel movies and one lesser known Black Widow on television. I think we can cover another area of interest. **

So again, we have Peggy Carter and Jessica Jones repping the ladies with their recent lead roles. So why not go further and add Ororo? Yes, I know the whole Marvel and Fox movie rights over mutants creates an issue, and at this point in time a Storm origin movie would most likely be made by Fox, but I think it’s a movie well deserved to join the ranks with Deadpool and Captain America no matter which juggernaut creates the film.

I think Storm is a strong and well recognized character, but she’s someone who has an interesting backstory still unknown to many people outside of comic reading group. I mean, we’ve seen Peter Parker’s origin story so many times that poor Uncle Ben could use a break. Who better to fill the origin shoes than a female, POC badass? So I don’t think we need a Black Widow/Natasha Romanova movie right now. We need an Ororo Munroe movie more.

 

The Lack of Diversity in Comics and Who Gets It Right?

I grew up reading comics littered with straight, white characters—predominantly male heroes. The biggest diversity I can remember was seeing Storm and Bishop in X-men comics. The lack of diversity in literature definitely hasn’t helped the world’s struggle for equality. People need to see and read about the lives of all people and cultures and not succumb to one majority. I think by now many of us have learned that fear is created by what we do not understand, and how do we understand the marginalized groups if no one will give them a voice?

In fact, I personally struggled with this as a young adult because I lived in southern state crammed with religion and homophobia—a typical haven for “White America.” So I fought myself for years before I accepted my sexuality. The 90s weren’t nearly as diverse as 2016, and yet we still have so far left to go on the road to equality. So reading books and comics with those straight, white, male protagonists didn’t help my struggle because there was so much hate towards the LGBTQIA community and our voices weren’t recognized.

Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first show I saw properly recognize LGBTQ characters, but we were still nowhere to be found in any literature I was reading.

So as I discovered Brian K. Vaughan’s comics as an adult, I was quite pleased to find much more authentic diversity. He wrote strong female characters, provided racial diversity, and gave me the LGBTQ characters no one else seemed to be writing. Hell, BKV was writing sundry characters before everyone else realized it was the right thing to do.

My heart melted when I discovered Karolina Dean’s sexuality in Runaways and followed her journeys through romance. She was the character I needed in comics when I was younger. She’s the character many LGBTQ readers needed. The entire Runaways series offered a diverse team with characters such as Alex Wilder as an African-American, Nico Minoru who is a Japanese-American, and Xavin who served as a gender fluid shapeshifter.

marvel-runaways-hc

Marvel comic series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona.

Just like Runaways, Y: The Last Man stands as one of my all-time favorite comic series. The series might revolve around Yorick Brown, who is dubbed the “Last Man on Earth,” but my favorite characters were Agent 355, who was an African-American badass and Dr. Allison Mann, who was of Chinese-Japanese decent and also an awesome LGBTQ character. Honestly, Y: The Last Man had several same sex relationships, and I felt the entire series authentically depicted the craziness and diversity of society thrown into chaos when almost the entire male population dies off.

y-the-last-man-issue-covers-y-the-last-man-8057277-420-643

Vertigo Comics series created by Brian K Vaughan & Pia Guerra. Cover by J.G. Jones.

 

Combine diversity with BKV’s witty dialogue—best compared to Joss Whedon’s writing style—and it’s easy to see why two of my all-time favorite comic book series are Brian K. Vaughan creations. BVK has earned several awards for his creations, including Saga and Ex Machina.

I look forward to reading the next BKV creation because I believe he will continue to create the authentic and diverse worlds more in tune with reality than many other stories offer. We must further diversify our stories if we wish to do break down the barriers which still prevent equality.

The Music That Fueled The Alliance Part 1

Some writers prefer quiet and solitude while they write, but I enjoy music for added inspiration. I turn on a playlist at various stages of the writing process. For the brainstorming and early drafts, I do enjoy songs I’ve collected which fit the mood of my current WIP. So, as I continue to hammer out the first draft of the third Alliance novel, I thought I would share the music which played while writing the first two novels. Kicking things off with The Alliance: Bloodlines inspirational music, I’m listening to this playlist as I write this post with all the nostalgic feels.

 banner_text2

The Alliance: Bloodlines playlist:

“End of the World” by Cold

“My Letter” by Flaw

“Strong” by Flaw

“I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace

“Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace

“Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace

“Hero” by Skillet

“Monster” by Skillet

“Awake and Alive” by Skillet

“Take Me” by Papa Roach

“Scars” by Papa Roach

“Black Clouds” by Papa Roach

“So Far Away” by Staind

“Fade” by Staind

“Forget to Remember” by Mudvanye

“Becoming the Bull” by Atreyu

“Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed

“Bodies” by Drowning Pool

“Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park

“Numb” by Linkin Park

“So Cold” by Breaking Benjamin

 

There were probably more songs than what shows on this list, but these tracks are what remains of the original Alliance playlist. The rest of the songs are for the Drakon playlist which i’ll post next week.

 

 

Xbox One From a PlayStation Fan Perspective

When I accomplish a great writing session, I like to reward myself with extra time to play video games. Hell, sometimes I even reward myself with new games or accessories. This week I finally caved an bought an Xbox One. I’ve been playing PlayStation consoles since the days of PSone and Cool Boarders, and i’ve loved my PS4 since launch day. My PS3 has almost kicked the bucket, and I can rarely get discs to read, so this new Xbox One console took its place on my TV stand.

After finally getting to test out Microsoft’s Xbox One, it’s easy to see why so many gamers have switched to PS4 and Sony’s sales have been higher.

xbox-one

Does this thing play VHS?

The Xbox One is unfathomably archaic. The controllers still require batteries, the controller itself needed an update to work, the power brick is HUGE with a cord so short you don’t have a lot of placement options. The console itself is the size and style of a DVD/VCR combo circa 1994. Personally, I find navigating the blocky menus sucks just like Windows PC sucks.(Instead of PS4’s linear and easy navigation menu.) Installs take FOREVER and seem to be accompanied by unwanted freezing/pausing which takes the download even longer to complete. The older Xbox One’s didn’t even make it easy to chat with a current headset.

Seriously, this is archaic. Xbox One may support the newest Windows and the Snap option is handy, but everything else feels outdated as hell.

With that hate out of the way, I do find the Xbox One controller both visually and physically appealing. I loathed the 360 controller, so this is a great improvement. The 360 controller hurt my hands after about an hour of use, but I played Gears of War with the Xbox One controller for over an hour with no pain at all.

The graphics don’t look nearly as bad as many of us assumed when we poked fun at the lack of 1080p. It’s also nice having a Showtime app. That’s the only really nice things I can say about the console so far, but maybe my opinions will change.

Again, all my opinions. The overall console war is silly, and it’s always just about opinions and preferences. If I had to pick only one console, I know I would pick my PlayStation. I have friends who live and die by Xbox. It’s also okay to love them both. I was just personally disappointed in Microsoft’s decisions for the Xbox One.

And to end on a brighter note, I’m replaying Tomb Raider on my PS4 so I can play Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One.

rise-of-the-tomb-raider-4_1226178264

This game brings beautiful action.

What games are you playing or looking forward to? I’m also a huge fan of TellTale Games, so I can’t wait for their unique Batman story and Michonne’s  Walking Dead mini series.

Indie Author Marketing Tips

As writers, we have to understand the phrase, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply to us or our books. If we want sales, we have to work harder than we worked to write the damn books.

So, how do we do that?

Buckle up and I’ll explain!

firefly8

You won’t find one exact formula for success. Try different options and combinations for marketing your novel until you find one that works for your books.

There are two important things you must remember:

First, make sure your quality is there. If it’s not, go back and splurge for professional editing, formatting and, cover design. Trust me, I saw a bump in sales by releasing second edition of my first novel with professional quality. The sales bump wasn’t anything huge, but it was much needed progress. If you need help with how to generate the extra income for this, please check out my guide to self-publishing on a budget.)

Second, keep writing. Nothing sells book one better than book two or three. People are more likely to invest in a new title when they discover the book is part of a series. They won’t have to wait for the next book. They can binge read all the titles you have available. Many authors state they didn’t see significant sales until they were four or five books into a series, so don’t get discouraged with book one, two, or three.

Okay, still with me?

firefly-mal-still-flying

Now we’ll talk about how to promote your current publications.

Know your keywords

You need to be savvy with keywords when publishing on Amazon/Createspace or anywhere else. Here are some helpful links to finding your appropriate keywords. Here is a guide I found for Kindle keywords to help you out.

Update your Amazon author profile

If you’re on Amazon, make sure your author profile is update. You can find tips for making the most of your profile here.

Update your social media accounts

I would assume that anyone trying to be an indie author would be social media savvy. Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest…whatever. Make sure those accounts are updated with your current bio, book info and such. Also, make sure you’re not being spammy with your promotional posts.

Send out ARCs

Advanced Reader’s Copy or Advanced Review Copy is a tool for generating a buzz and getting early reviews to entice readers at launch. Reach out to book bloggers and offer ARCs, but make sure you’re offering a polished manuscript. Don’t send a draft!

Find marketing sites

Research popular book marketing sites such as Bookbub and check their requirements for advertising. Some sites require a minimum number of views, some are free, and some are paid ads.

Perma-free first book

Some authors found success making the first book in a series perma-free. Readers who find value in a free book will generally buy the next one to keep reading the series.

Pre-orders

I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve read many success stories involving pre-orders. I plan to offer pre-orders with this year’s holiday release.

Press Release

Creating a press release can be an easy way to have your book information ready to hand over to any bloggers or sites willing to promote for you. Initially, I found press kits to be overwhelming because I had no idea what I was doing. I found this helpful guide here and maybe it will help you too.

Make use of giveaways on sites like Amazon and Goodreads

They are pros and cons to each one, so try them all or see which ones best fit your budget. I like Amazon’s Giveaway options because they do all the work for you! Unfortunately, you pay full price for your book plus shipping costs, and with Goodreads you can buy books at your cost and ship yourself. So, part of your decision might boil down to whether you prefer to save a little time or a little money.

You also want to consider that the people who could win your Amazon Giveaway might not be a bookworm, but assuming if someone enters the giveaway on Goodreads, chances are very high that they are a reader likely to review.

 

I hope you find this information helpful. As you try combinations of these options, try to gauge how well your book sells with each. Measure which price points and promotions work best, so you’ll have a better strategy for the next book release. Remember, lack of success isn’t losing, it’s a game of learning. So, make marketing your novel a game you aim to win at.

tumblr_mk4y0yjblq1rz9aqgo1_500