D. A. Howe

I Write What I Like

I’ve never hidden the fact that my Amazon rankings suck. A lot. But there are (I’m assuming) plenty of other people out there in the same boat. In an effort to cheer those people up (you know who are you) here’s some heart warming screenshots of my latest numbers from Amazon.

Personally, I feel a certain pride in where I’m positioned in the competitive Amazon author space. Take that all you losers selling your books and your soul for actual money!

The first screenshot is my author ranking. It kind of looks like the ECG of a person who had a heart attack. Then they managed to shock the person back to life. However, the diet and exercise have only been partially effective.

 

And here’s my sales ranking. Which looks like a very scary overdraft. Or the grades of a university student who is probably not going back next semester and the parents are very angry and also, why did you choose to do medicine Kevin, when you have no aptitude for it? Whhhhyyyyyy?

 

Anyone else out there sinking into the quagmire of scarily large numbers?  Leave a comment below because sharing is caring.

 

 

 

 

Here’s my theory of why the space race happened, why our interest in outer space declined, and how we can get to Mars based on nothing but a dream I had last night.

Interest in all things space related and the space race during the 1960s wasn’t due to competition between the Soviet Union and the USA. It was actually due to the horrendous recipes and food available in the 1960s.  Awful recipes ignited the creative and scientific spark in humans to get off the planet in a desperate attempt to escape the horror. Faced with the prospect of going home for dinner or developing new space technology, scientists in both parts of the world opted for the space stuff.

NASA: Going into space is really dangerous. And you could die.

ASTRONAUT: It’s Liver Sausage Pineapple tonight.

NASA: I see your point.

As the recipes disappeared from the collective consciousness, the drive to leave planet Earth also declined. Our only hope of setting up a colony on Mars is to bring back gelatin, mayonnaise, and processed meat shaped to look like fruit and vegetables.

Ban good looking, great tasting food and humanity will reach for the stars in a bid to avoid food related assaults on people’s eyeballs and taste buds!

 

After the gardening effort last week, I engaged in some tidying up–like the rest of the world who watched Marie Kondo on Netflix.  And before anyone gets excited about that whole 30 book rule thing, it should be noted that she doesn’t enforce the rule and it’s all about keeping things that spark joy. If your enormous book collection is attracting mice, takes up your entire house, and you’ve only read 10 books out of a collection of 1000, you should probably consider getting rid of some of them, or buying more Kindle editions. There, I said it. 🙂

Anyway, all of this tidying up and gardening once more leaves me in a lazy frame of mind. Behold! A video from Wisecrack about the awesomeness of Nicolas Cage. Who never gets the credit he deserves for taking a role and just going for it with his own unique acting style.

 

 

 

 

I just spent two days shifting 1.4 metric tonnes of gravel.  By hand. Using two buckets and a shovel. I carried the buckets up four steep steps to the garden. The buckets were heavy.

Now I have no desire to type or do anything at all except sit around and watch old episodes of Stargate SG-1.

On that note, and in the interest of preserving my overly tired arm muscles, here’s an interesting video obout Donnie Darko. The move is a personal favorite of mine even though many people think it’s weird.

 

It seems that the movie industry was sort of surprised by the failure of Mortal Engines.  The film was directed by Christian Rivers. The screenplay was by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, based on the novel by Philip Reeve. Mortal Engines had all of those things that movie studios love. The movie was a big action and special effects extravaganza. It was gonna be a franchise. There are cities on wheels cannibalizing other cities. And Peter Jackson was involved. And Fran Walsh. And Philippa Boyens.

Come on, people, it had hit written all over it!

Or, did it?

If you’re a fan of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh or Phillipa Boyens you should stop reading now. I have a theory that you probably won’t like. If you stop reading, you’ll be saved from a great deal of indignation and outrage and it will also take away the temptation to send me sternly worded comments about how you are indignant and outraged.

For everyone else, here’s my theory. The failure of Mortal Engines shouldn’t be surprising because Fran Walsh hasn’t written an original screenplay since The Frighteners. Which was released in 1996. That’s twenty-three years ago for those that don’t want to do the math.  Phillipa Boyens has never written an original screenplay. Between the two of them they have produced an endless succession of adapted screenplays. That is, the story existed first as a novel (or in the case of King Kong, as another film), which Walsh and Boyens adapted for the screen.

With each adaptation Walsh and Boyens have moved further away from the dilemma that their characters face, or a compelling narrative, and concentrated more on special effects spectaculars that show off the skills of WETA. The lack of original screenplay writing means that they’re always taking someone else’s ideas and characters and then mushing them around until the idea and characters match Walsh and Boyens version of what a movie should look like.

From 2001 to 2003, Jackson, Walsh and Boyens struck gold with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, winning an Academy Award for their adaptation of Return of the King.  Personally, I’d argue that a writer would have to work very hard at making the Lord of the Rings suck. In other words, good material is nearly always going to shine through, even in the hands of writers ‘adapting’ the work for the screen.

However since then, their adaptations of novels (and King Kong) have been subject to the laws of diminishing returns. Their films tended to be overly long and increasingly devoid of compelling narrative and character arcs. The characters lacked nuance or an emotional core.  Each film since The Lord of the Rings trilogy seemed to be a tiny bit worse. For example, riding on the success of The Lord of the RingsKing Kong did very well at the box office and with critics. But once more it was an adaptation of a previous work, essentially following the same plot line, only with a lot more padding and better effects. I still remember walking out of King Kong without having felt much of anything for the characters, except for the sequence on the ice covered pond between Ann Darrow and Kong. That was a truly beautiful scene that lasted a few short minutes before we’re back to the running and screaming and explosions, and the climbing.

From there the cracks began to show with The Lovely Bones. A movie that veered between a strange sentimentality in a day glow version of the after life and a crime thriller. The book attracted some criticism for exactly the same thing but you would hope that experienced writers like Walsh and Boyens could have dug into the core themes of the book and extracted a work that focused on how a family somehow carries on from such a tragedy in a more emotional and compelling way. The Hobbit seemed to suffer from the same fate. Lots of effects and a padded narrative that tries very hard to forget that The Hobbit was always a children’s book, and consequently suffered as a result.

Then along came Mortal Engines. A movie that’s a bloated special effects fantasy with a dull and confusing narrative, and even duller character arcs.  The failure of Mortal Engines shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s always been coming. It’s just taken a while for everyone to realize that somewhere in the past two decades Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens have developed a writing formula that involves taking the original work, shoveling in a ton of action and special effects, and as an after thought, reducing the characters to the standard tropes found in all terrible movies.

Oh, and here’s that King Kong ice skating scene for you, which is (IMHO) the best thing in the entire movie.