Last Chance to Nominate for the Dragon Awards!

Hey you! That’s right, you! Did you know that Nominations for the Dragon Awards close on the 20th of July? That’s right, and today is the 18th. So if you haven’t nominated for the awards yet, now you’re down to the wire.

Again, you don’t have to nominate something in every category. You can nominate in just the categories you’ve found some winners in.

Shadow of an Empire is eligible for nomination, by the way, because of its release date. If you’ve read it, and think it deserves the honor, then go ahead an nominate it! The Dragon Awards are open to indie nominations!

You can make your nominations here!

Op-Ed – Giving Star Wars: The Last Jedi a Second Chance

So about two weeks ago I wrote a post concerning some of The Last Jedi‘s flaws and how they could have been fixed.

Suffice it to say that some disagreed with my view on things. One reader, in particular, made a long, lengthy, passionate comment about how I was incorrect, and how they felt I needed to go back and give things a second look.

So you know what? I did. And I went all in.

First, I sat down and watched The Empire Strikes back. Oft regarded as the series’ best film, ESB is usually the golden standard of “Hey, this is a great Star Wars flick.” To the degree that the director of TLJ has stated many times that TLJ was to be compared to ESB, both in tone and in what it did for the series. Many have made the case that if one wanted to criticize TLJ, they needed to do so through the lens of ESB, based on the director’s comments.

So I did. I sat down and watched ESB, enjoying it, and then I switched to TLJ, coming at it anew with what I’d just seen and the admonition from said reader that it deserved a second chance. And, by the end, I’d reached a new conclusion.

The Last Jedi is even worse than I’d thought.

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Amazonian Advertising Practices: Part 2

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s a lot going on this week. Hence some daily posts. Today’s topic of choice? More on Amazon’s Advertising System.

So some of you may remember my first post on this topic a few months ago. I’d taken the plunge, using my tax return to pay for Amazon Advertising Services to see exactly how it would shake out. I had to use the tax return for it, because Amazon is paid up front, but any earnings you make are, as expected, royalties. So while you may spend $50 to make $50, you will still have several months to go before that $50 rolls back into your bank account.

Anyway, I’m not going to spend time reiterating exactly how AMS functions, since I gave it a long-form explanation last time. The basic gist of it is that you set up advertising keywords that describe your product (for example, one of Colony‘s keywords is “Expanse” because of its similar genre to The Expanse) and then a bid for that advertising spot. Your bid wins while someone is looking at that product? That individual sees your product, and if they click on it, whether or not they purchase it, you pay the bid.

Anyway, after a month of using it, I’d come to some tentative conclusions, which at the time were that many people who found it balanced out pretty much neutral were right. I was earning back pretty much exactly what I put in, plus or minus a few bucks here and there. Which I found odd, as even if my numbers jumped around quite a bit, they still somehow wound up around 100% in and out.

I’m still not sure why that is. But I can report that with lots of careful fine tuning, several months in, the venture is a little less neutral.

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Tighten the Belt

So, continuing the week-long run of “I’ve got news and stuff to say!” here we are at Wednesday. And, to no one’s surprise, there’s still stuff going on.

So, today’s post? A financial update. Effectively, I’m tightening my belt and going into drought mode.

Why? Simple. The part-time job I have has hit some dry spells in these summer months. Said part-time job already cut corners where it could, but now that we’re in the realm of little business for the next month, that means fewer hours for everyone. Fewer hours means less pay and, well … yeah, a tighter belt for the month. And odd gigs around town.

The interesting bit about this is that Shadow of an Empire launched just around the time everything started to slow down. And while Shadow of an Empire‘s launch wasn’t as strong as Colony‘s (the Sci-Fi Epic continues to wear the crown) it was strong, and as of right now has left a longer-lasting tail.

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Have a Happy Independence Day!

If you’re a resident of the USA, happy Independence Day! Amazing what thirteen colonies can accomplish when they put their mind to it, isn’t it!

If you’re not a resident of the US, well … Happy day wherein USA massively overeats, overspends, and sets off all kinds of explosives, because on some level that probably involved something bought from where you live (especially illegal fireworks).

Either way, have a great day.

Another Reminder to Nominate for the Dragon Awards!

Exactly what the title says. The Dragon Awards are coming, and the window to nominate for your favorites from the last year is closing swiftly, with each tick of the clock! So click the link and get out there and either A) start nominating or B) Start building your list so you can nominate before the time is no longer.

A reminder: You don’t have to nominate in every category. You can nominate just the ones you wish to nominate for and leave the others blank. You don’t have to panic to come up with something for a category you’re not familiar with.

A second reminder: Shadow of an Empire is eligible for nomination. Whether or not you nominate it is up to you, and what you’ve read this year. But it is eligible.

That’s all. I’ve got work to do on Hunter/Hunted!

Op-Ed: Fixing One Small Part of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

And with that title, I already feel the eyes of the internet upon me. Which is kind of the point. I wouldn’t be posting this otherwise.

Plus, it’s my website. I can post what I want. So there (despite a few internet commentators who have actually posted, in pure seriousness, the XKCD strip about “being shown the door” regarding content on my own website, without any trace of irony or acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of their demands).

Enough navel-gazing. This editorial is about The Last Jedi, specifically about what went wrong with one small part of it, and how it could have been fixed.

Because let’s be honest: There was a lot wrong with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It definitely wasn’t Star Wars Holiday Special levels of bad, but at the same time … Well, let’s just say there were a lot of Star Wars fans out there who had thought that they’d never seen anything in the series that could possibly perform worse than the prequels.

Yeah, talking about something that didn’t work in The Last Jedi is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Suffice it to say, its creators pretty much set the bar about as low as it could possibly be set without reaching Holiday Special levels. I remember seeing Facebook and Twitter posts from people I knew, dedicated fans, talking about how they’d gone back and seen it a second time, hoping they’d missed something critical the first time around.

Yeah, you’ve probably seen some measure of this controversy. Personally? It’s not at all without merit. The Last Jedi kind of came across as a film that didn’t understand what Star Wars was about past the visual element. And sure, we got some great scenes—the battle with Snoke’s Praetorian Guard is a six-minute slug-fest that is absolutely one of the more fantastic Star Wars fights—but we also got some stuff that really dropped hard.

One of these, which I want to talk about today, is Finn’s butchered character arc. Actually, butchered isn’t the proper term. More … grossly mishandled character arc.

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