Captain America: The Winter Soldier

captain_america_the_winter_soldier_1396301846

 

My call finally ended, and the family and I were at last able to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 

Loved it!

First the plot.

The setting is mostly Washington, DC, sometime after the events from The Avengers. Since those momentous events, Cap has decided to remain in uniform, working for SHIELD. He is tasked with work which he thinks is noble, but is aggravated when he realizes its all just spying and rather dirty. All of this rightly pisses him off, and he dresses down Nick Fury when the SHIELD director shows him the 3 new, gigantic helicarriers the organization plans on using to combat global crime BEFORE it happens. All of this is possible because of the intrusive nature of modern life – our emails, Facebook, Goodreads, purchases, page views on the internet…all of it is captured and mineable.

Cap speaks for all of us when he says the helicarriers aren’t about safety; they’re about fear. Who will watch the watchers?

That’s the setup. Then the organization Fury is supposed to be leading turns on him, tries to assassinate him, and the only person Fury can turn to? Captain America. Next comes a mystery and intrigue stretching from the 40’s through the 70’s and extending to today. We learn who the puppet masters are who pull the strings as well as a beloved friend of Cap who’s now an enemy.

What I found remarkable is how well the action and exposition were balanced. The movie never bogged down, but the pace wasn’t frenetic. It wasn’t purposeless movement. The directors – Joe and Anthony Russo – create space to allow character development, toss in inside jokes like when Falcon suggests Cap might want to take up Ultimate Fighting. This shortly after Cap beats the snot out of Georges St. Pierre, the former UFC welterweight champion, who played Batroc the Leaper, a French mercenary. It was light moments like this, or the interplay between Black Widow and Cap that allowed the movie to move forward and not get overwhelmed by the nature of the material.

There’s tight acting all around, especially Chris Evans who somehow emotes the virtue and nobility that makes Captain America my favorite hero. Scarlett Johansson is wonderful as Black Widow, and Samuel L. Jackson is his normal charismatic self as Nick Fury. Then there’s Robert Redford – I was so happy to see him join a big budget movie again – plays the Secretary of SHIELD, and he brings his typical class and laid-back acting style to the role.

I loved this movie. In some ways, given the timely nature of the material, which this movie lays bear – what with NSA spying and the false choice some wish us to make between safety (the safety of a self-imposed prison cell) and freedom – The Winter Soldier  reminded me of The Dark Knight. Except this is a much better movie.

Chris Dane Owens

Warning: Don’t drink anything while watching this video.

ChrisDaneOwens

I still have no idea what the video is about, but for some reason, it always puts a smile on my face. Nerdtastic is one way to describe it, so if you’re not a deep, deep nerd, you may  not enjoy it. As an example, if you don’t know who Smeagol was, don’t bother opening the link.

However, I’m fairly certain that had this song/video been released in the 80’s (that’s 1980s for the millennials), Chris Dane Owens would have been a superstar.

Cats

Our newest cat, Toby, is a pest. We can’t get him to understand boundaries; boundaries like staying off the kitchen counters. Yesterday was no different. I caught him on the counter, licking clean a large ladle.

I couldn’t be too mad at him, though. The food was Indian, and Toby likes his food spicy.

He is an Indian cat, after all.

Another marketing post – yuck!

Here are my experiences so far:

I initially priced A Warrior’s Path at $5.49. I chose a number I felt was worthy of the work I’d put into the novel, and I factored length of the book into the equation as well. Many indie titles are selling at $2.99-$3.99, but those titles are usually half as long as mine. I thought $6.99 was too much to ask (although there is one indie novel titled Crucible of Souls that is about the same length as A Warrior’s Path that is listed occasionally at $7.99 – a brave choice and it seems to be working out for the author) and $4.99 was too low. Thus, I chose $5.49, which I hope is a reasonable compromise.
As for marketing, I initially purchased a Kirkus review. I think it takes courage to do this because there is no guarantee that the reviewer will like the book (and it costs $495). However, more than anything else I’ve done, I think the Kirkus review has helped sell the book and has paid for itself many times over.
Before launch, I asked over 50 reviewers to read the book and of those who responded, 5 said ‘yes’, but only 2 actually read the book. I won’t go this route again. Too much work for too little return.
The book then launched and landed with a thud, but somewhere in January it took off. I don’t know why it suddenly started selling. Possibly it was because Amazon listed it as a ‘New fantasy to read’ on their blast emails. I wish Kobo and Nook did the same because for every one sale on both those platforms, I’ve had over 100 on Amazon.
I ‘boosted’ a Facebook post about the book, and got lots of ‘likes’, but I didn’t see an increase in sales. Overall, I can’t say that Facebook has helped with sales much, but I’ve heard other authors had greater success.
I’ve also advertised on Goodreads, but that hasn’t been very helpful except to vastly increase the number of people who’ve added the book to their to-read-pile. I also did a Goodreads giveaway, and I included basically the world. Again, that boosted the to-read-pile numbers, but it also cost me an arm-and-a-leg in shipping expenses since one book went to Sweden and another to the UK.
I also started a Twitter account (@DavisAshura) and purchased a marketing plan through Selfpublish Showcase. It only cost $37/year, and they send out blast tweets daily about the book to their >37k followers and those often gets re-tweeted. I don’t know if this is helping, but it didn’t cost me much, and it’s another data point I can use for book 2.
I did a price drop last week for 5 days. The first 3 days, I saw a definite uptick in sales, but the last two days, not so much. I think the moral is to not leave the price low for too long.
The book continues to sell well, although it’s starting to taper off, but that’s life. Can’t stay on top forever. 🙂

Good and bad news

So here’s the bad news: The sale on A Warrior’s Path ended and it’s now back to its original price of $5.49.

But then here’s the good news: I did a final edit and got rid of some annoying dropped words, misspelled words, etc. The updated version also has easier to read maps.