Marvel’s End Game & Cosplay Fun

I’ve been so busy I completely forgot to upload some of the really awesome photos from Marvel’s End Game viewing party with the Southern Geeks group! We had an awesome time last month with just a few of the over 5K members of the SGG. Everyone was out in cosplay (except for me – I didn’t have time to really get a good cosplay together) and had so much fun posing with some of our local southern family. The movie was seriously AWESOME and I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to GO GO GO!!

We had all planned a road trip back on May 4th for the annual Free Comic Book Day but unfortunately, life got in the way for most of us, including myself. My good friend Deby and were all packed and ready to ride but we had some bad thunderstorms and tornadoes coming through the area so we decided not to go. This was to be my first road trip with the Southern Geeks but it looks like I’ll have to wait until later in the year when I hope to help them out at some of the local comicons coming up. Until next time, here are a few of the pics I snapped before the viewing party.

 

 

For even more fun photos and ramblings, be sure to follow me on social media!

Nora Roberts Sues #CopyPasteCris, But She Can’t Go After Amazon

In early March I wrote three blog articles, I Write My Own Damn Books Can We Just Get Real for a Moment, and An Open Letter to Nora Roberts, after it was discovered the self-proclaimed USA TODAY bestselling author Cristiane Serruya had plagiarized dozens of authors and books, including Nora Roberts, Courtney Milan, and EL James, just to name a few. For the record, according to the archive on USA TODAY‘s website, Cristiane Serruya has never once hit the list. And now that she has been called out on her plagiarism, she’s admitted that she hasn’t even written one single book, instead farming it out to ghostwriters she hired on the notoriously unscrupulous site Fiverr.

Now Nora Roberts is going after blood as she has sued Brazilian author Cristiane Serruya for her blatant theft of approximate ten of her books. Needless to say, authors both big and small are urging her on, happy someone is finally standing up to the cesspool of low quality books and scammers that have been running rampant on Amazon for nearly a decade now, the steady flow of Frankensteined books and half-assed rough drafts forcing many authors to quit publishing altogether while simultaneously banishing the professionally produced books to the proverbial Amazon dungeons.

Authors are sick of being forced to compete with the immoral writers who have no qualms about using every unethical and black-hat tactic they can think of to squeeze as much money out of the Amazon publishing system as possible. By them doing so, it has forced a lot of authors to stop writing and publishing as they simply cannot compete with those scammers who are able to spend $100K or more on AMS ads and other forms of advertisement each year. Those of us who have been limping along hoping the system would eventually right itself have been left with our books banished to the proverbial dungeons of Amazon, no longer able to make sales or have any visibility on our books at all.

Needless to say, now that someone like Nora Roberts has learned the disgusting ways of the publishing world the hard way, and has thus been caught up in it, we are all very excited to know she is not taking this shit lying down. Everyone is behind her, authors and readers alike, and we are all cheering her on. Many authors are holding out hope that Nora’s voice in regards to how bad Amazon has let things get will be the first step in righting a system that was built on dishonesty and greed. Many are voicing their hope that Nora will actually take on Amazon itself.

Unfortunately, I’m not as hopeful as the rest in regards to her taking on  Amazon. Honestly, she doesn’t have enough money to do it. And if you want to get down to the nut-cutting, not even JK Rowling has enough money to take on Amazon.

Before everyone gets bent out of shape, I think we all need to take a real, hard look at Amazon’s revenue and why they are able to get away with all the shit they do, why they do not bother to police their own store, or even enforce their own rules and TOS other than when it suits them. Once you look at the basic economics of Amazon, you’ll understand why it would literally take all of the Big 5 publishers and all of their top 5% earning authors making a class-action lawsuit against the Zon, followed by pretty much every single author and business that has ever been a part of their store, to truly do any type of damage to them.

According to CNBC, Amazon reported earnings of $10.1 BILLION in 2018 alone. Gross profits for the year were over $141 BILLION. In 2017, their net profits were just over $3 BILLION, with a gross profit of over $118 BILLION. Of that, it is estimated that approximately 30% of that income came from book sales, which would be approximately $3 BILLION in net profits for 2018.

With numbers like this, it is no wonder everyone is fighting so hard to be seen on Amazon. Unfortunately, with revenue streams in the tens of billions, it is also no wonder Amazon has been completely unfazed by the multitude of authors who have been steadily calling them out for their bad practices. So while Nora may reportedly be worth $370 million and JK Rowling $1 billion, Amazon has enough revenue coming in to keep any type of lawsuit buried in the court system for decades.

While all of us would certainly LOVE to see Amazon come tumbling off its pedestal for once, it’s going to take more than just Nora Roberts to do it. It’s going to take more than just the Big 5 publishers to do it. It’s going to take more than just JK Rowling to do it. In fact, about the only way to get a retail giant like Amazon to take a step back and actually put the fear of bankruptcy into them would be if the top 20 richest authors in the world got together, along with the Big 5 publishers, and every other author who has ever done business with them, all fighting together to put the proverbial nuts in a vice.

I, for one, would happily jump on board that express train. Hell, I’d happily tap dance on the ashes that was once the Zon-Almighty.

But for now, I’m another author who is standing behind Nora Roberts hoping she is able to draw blood. It may be a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but if enough people begin beating down the gates of Amazon, then maybe, just maybe, we can take back our sagging careers and turn this once noble profession back into the proud industry it used to be.

And – you go, Nora!

Fantasy $0.99 Book Sale!

 

Love fantasy? Love a great book sale? What could be better than 24 awesome fantasy books across multiple genres, each for only $0.99 or less? Well, if you love a good fantasy book, I can’t think of anything better. But don’t wait! These books are only available at this deep discounted price for a very short time. CLICK HERE to browse and make your selection(s). As always, if you love the book, please leave a review. Or pie.

#FantasyFalls #FantasyBooks #vampires #werewolves #shifters #highfantasy #ghosts #goblins #paranormalfantasy #urbanfantasy #Gothic #gothicromance #zombies #cyberpunk #steampunk #postapocalpytic #fairies #witches #warlocks #demons #magick #mythology #psychic #magicalrealism #timetravel #sciencefiction #sciencefantasy #dragons #dungeonsanddragons

Blood Spell Pre-Order is LIVE

The 5th book in the Before the Sun Rises Series, the highly anticipated Blood Spell, is now on pre-order through Amazon! Don’t miss your chance to grab your copy for the pre-order sale price of only $2.99.

New from the underground lair of the Paranormal Princess comes a timeless tale of forbidden love … Two destinies entwined but at what cost to the world?

Thorn has been searching her whole life for The Book of Blood Magic. Now she has found it, and she is thrust into a primeval struggle where the laws of good and evil no longer apply.

Once she speaks the ancient deity’s name, she is bound to him forever. No matter how far she runs, no matter what she does, she will never be able to escape him.

His disciples want him free from his eternal exile to reclaim his throne and bring the earth back into the shadows of the magic realm. There is no way to undo her blood spell, but she is determined to keep their prophecy from becoming a reality.

Can she live with herself if she draws him into her world, a world he has sworn revenge upon at any cost? Will he be content to merely live, or will his desire for blood and war cause him to once again enslave humanity? What will her world become if he is allowed to reign over them? If he cannot control his desire for chaos, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Time is running out, and she has a decision to make. No matter her choice, one thing is clear -someone’s world is going to end.

Pre-Order Now

On Set of #Splat – a #Splatterverse Film

Yesterday I had the privilege of working on set of the upcoming zombie horror movie #Splat, the first film in the Splatterverse. The owner/founder of Splatterverse, Blair Kelly, not only wrote the script but also is starring in and directing as well. Blair was a fellow NEJ student and long time resident of my home town. It was great meeting some old friends and new faces while filming. Mississippi truly has some wonderful talent and is full of warm, fun-loving folks who are eager to help out a fellow artist and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Thanks again to everyone set, our director, fellow actors, makeup artists, and the crew behind the scenes making everything run as smooth as possible. I had a great time and I can’t wait for our next film day!

**Photo credit to those who took these. Some of these are copyrighted by me, some were taken on set by other cast members.

 

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

 

Waiting on that Series to Complete? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait

 

I’m going to shoot straight from the hip on this. One of my pet peeves to hear from readers is the dreaded “I’m going to wait until the series is completed before I buy any of the books.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Dagger: meet heart.

Before I get into the (really good) reasons why you shouldn’t wait for a series to complete before diving right in, I’m going to ask as few questions.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are a Twilight fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are Game of Thrones fan, have you not watched a single episode, waiting instead until all the seasons are complete before watching them? How about The Walking Dead?

And if you are a Laurell K. Hamilton fan, have you not read a single one of the Anita Blake series, instead opting until the series is finally complete before you start on it? (Here’s a hint, that’s her cash cow and she has no intentions of ending that series so long as it’s selling)

Anyway, you get the idea. Chances are, if you got hooked into any of these fandoms, or the thousands of others out there on both the book, comic book, graphic novels, and TV series front, you aren’t waiting – you are counting down the days until the next book/comic/episode/movie drops. It’s why I, and so many other authors, hate to hear a reader say they are “waiting” for a series to complete before they decide to buy.

If you are one of them, here are some pretty compelling reasons *not* to wait.

1.       Interest and sales versus a lack thereof: as I mentioned above, if you are into the Anita Blake series, you probably already know that series is still going strong. The reason why is because there is still a lot of interest in the books, characters, and story lines. To put it simply, it’s still making money. So long as a series is making money, or readers still show interest, then an author will continue to write more and more books in the series. And for those series like Anita Blake and The Vampire Chronicles, this means the author has no intentions of ending the series, which translates into readers seriously missing out if they opt to “wait it out” to see what is going to happen with a series.

2.       On the flip side of this is the “lack of interest.” There are only so many books an author can push out a year, and that number drastically decreases for those like me who are juggling a regular full-time Evil Day Job along with writing. For this reason, we have to be especially particular about what we spend that limited amount of time on. If readers take the “wait to see” attitude on our series, we view as that as a lack of interest. Lack of interest = lack of sales = we won’t continue to spend our time writing in a series that isn’t producing any royalties. This means we may completely scrap a series and not write another book in that world, opting instead of spend our time writing on a series or stand alone novels that may interest our readers more.

The best way to encourage an author is to buy their books, series complete or not. Taking a “wait to see what happens” with any series could very well spell death to that series. How many really awesome TV series have been cancelled because the ratings weren’t good enough for the studio to warrant investing the time and money it takes to film more episodes? It’s the same principle with authors, especially us indie authors. If you “wait to buy” until we finally finish writing all the books in a series, you may discover a series that gets scrapped because there wasn’t enough interest in it.

And for those wondering, please don’t “wait until the series ends” when it comes to the Before the Sun Rises books. I have no intentions of ending that series unless it stops selling. I could literally write another twenty books just with the characters and story lines I already have notes for. Who knows what I may come up with between now and Book #20!

Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel Cover Reveal

 

 

Are you ready for the next installment? Be on the lookout for Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel – Before the Sun Rises Book 5 coming 4/22/19 with the highly anticipated follow-up novel releasing close to Halloween of 2019.

Thorn has been searching her whole life for The Book of Blood Magic. Now she has found it, and she is thrust into a primeval struggle where the laws of good and evil no longer apply.Once she speaks the ancient deity’s name, she is bound to him forever. No matter how far she runs, no matter what she does, she will never be able to escape him.His disciples want him free from his eternal exile to reclaim his throne and bring the earth back into the shadows of the magic realm. There is no way to undo her blood spell, but she is determined to keep their prophecy from becoming a reality.Can she live with herself if she draws him into her world, a world he has sworn revenge upon at any cost?Will he be content to merely live, or will his desire for blood and war cause him to once again enslave humanity? What will her world become if he is allowed to reign over them? If he cannot control his desire for chaos, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice?Time is running out, and she has a decision to make. No matter her choice, one thing is clear -someone’s world is going to end.

The Art of Artistry – an Observation to the Norm

I’m a total music junkie. I tend to like metal/rock more than anything, although I do have some fave country artists in my playlist (Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins). Needless to say, I tend to follow a lot of bands across all my social media platforms. In doing so, something recently stuck out that I’ve not really noticed before.

When it comes to artistic ability, most people who are artistically inclined tend to be really good at a variety of creative endeavors. And from what I’ve observed, musicians tend to have it in spades. I’ve noticed most musicians can also sing, and a lot of them tend to be good at painting or drawing. Others I’ve noticed are good at creating unique products such as hand-painted signs, jewelry, etc. Some are also really good makeup artists or really good actors.

And then there’s me. I’m not good at much of anything outside of the writing biz. I can do some small arts and crafts (jewelry making, floral design, and little else), but I’m not musically inclined, I can’t sing, I can’t play a musical instrument, and I couldn’t paint or draw if my life depended on it. And honestly, from what I’ve observed from fellow writers, most of us tend to be this way. Some of us are getting into graphic art work for doing cover design, but from what I’ve observed we tend to be really good at one of them and mediocre at the other. Some are really good at marketing their books, some are really good at making graphic teasers and trailers. While this isn’t exactly considered an “art” form, it certainly takes a certain finesse to pull it off.

This is not to say that all writers are only good at writing, or that all musically inclined people tend to be more artistically inclined towards some other art form such as drawing or painting. This is, of course, just my own observation of what I’ve witnessed through observing other writers and musicians in my own social media circles. I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who can sing, dance, paint, draw, doing phenomenal graphic artwork, etc. just as there are probably plenty of musicians out there who are not artistically inclined toward anything not music related. Again, it’s just an observation.

I, however, seem to be an all-around mediocre talent. It’s funny, I tend to tell people at my Evil Day Job that I’m a “Jack of all trades.” The rest of that old saying goes “master of none.” Today, that realization is really hitting home. I’m slowly coming to terms with it because being mediocre at anything in the artistic world, or the real world as far as that goes, doesn’t matter. There have been plenty of people who were successful with a “mediocre” idea, book, movie, song, etc. There are plenty of people who do mediocre work. It’s not the end of the world. To be honest, there are a lot more mediocre everything than there are truly phenomenal, and that’s okay too. It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

What I can say is I strive to get better every day at everything I do. With each new book, with each new book cover, with each new jewelry design, I will always strive to get better. We never stop learning, and I’m very thankful for that. I’ve always loved learning new things, trying new things, and evolving as a person and artist.

So, here’s to all my artistic brothers and sisters out there. Keep striving to be the best you can be. I know I will.

Adventures at the Evil Day Job #106578

You take the good, you take the bad, you take my job, and there be hell.

Yesterday I had another one of those “what the actual fuck?” moments that was so strong, I literally thought my face was going to curl in on itself.

First, let me set the scene. I started at this place about eight years ago as a sales rep. Back, then we were expected to do everything ourselves. We had daily call quotas, daily quote quotas, daily/weekly/and monthly sales quotas, a contact quota. Then there was the quotes that had to be done, the vendor calls that had to be made, the revisions that had to be done, the call logs that had to be entered, and let’s not forget that we were required to spend half of the day in “call block” where we were not allowed to do anything but make outbound phone calls.

I have yet to figure out how someone with a degree in business management thought that calling a bunch of people who told you to stop calling them was a good idea.

And yeah, in case you are sitting there scratching your head thinking we sound like a bunch of telemarketers, that’s basically what we were.

Also, math didn’t work like normal math in this place. We were supposed to make 50 outbound calls a day. Under normal math, in 5 days that would be 250 phone calls. But this isn’t regular math, it’s work math, so we had a weekly call quota of 300 calls. So for those who do regular math, that’s actually 60 calls per day, but we were told 50. So 50 calls a day would keep your ass safe Tuesday-Friday, but come Monday if you didn’t 300 or more dials from the week before, someone’s ass was going to get chewed out.

Fourteen months into that shit-show, I’m sitting in the #2 overall sales position for the department, and yet I still got wrote up and threatened to be fired because my sales numbers weren’t where the VP thought they should be for my territory.

Facepalm? Yeah, no, screw that. There weren’t enough facepalms on the planet to get me to wrap my brain around that train of thought.

 

So anyway, you get the idea. After fourteen months I basically said either transfer me or cash me out because I’m done.

Enter the next seven years of my face looking like this:

 

 

Then yesterday comes around, and I’m sitting in yet another lengthy conference call with a bunch of people who make a whole hell of a lot more money than me. We are in the process of implementing a new way of getting project orders to order entry, and we get to the phase where the sales reps are going to do the following: instead of attaching their paperwork to an email and emailing it to order entry, they are going to attach it to a report database that goes directly to order entry.

The purpose: so all the paperwork that is flying around in emails will be accessible to everyone instead of just the person who received the email. It’s streamlined, all the documentation is now in one place instead of floating around a dozen different email accounts and files on computers, and when someone comes back six months later asking who made a mistake, we don’t have everyone digging around trying to figure it out because all the info isn’t in one spot.

Now, remember, the reps are already having to attach this crap to an email, write the email, and send all this into order entry to get their customer orders placed. We just took it from being all over the damn network and a bunch of different computers to all being in one set place.

Streamlined = saved time, saved money

And then these words come out of my manager’s mouth: “I don’t know who is going to be uploading all that but it won’t be the sales reps. Maybe someone in operations but the sales reps can’t be spending their time doing redundant tasks.”

But.

They already do this exact SAME. DAMN. THING.

Through EMAIL.

And so I left the meeting with my face once again looking like this:

 

Movie Review – Velvet Buzz Saw

 

I recently kicked DirecTV to the curb and embarked on the streaming lifestyle. After all, if I’m going to pay nearly $200 a month on unlimited bandwidth and an internet connection that supposedly rivals NASA, I might as well get something out of it besides me working my butt off writing books. So, enter in Hulu, NetFlex, & Sling TV.

My love affair began with binge-watching LOST on Hulu, but quickly spiraled out of control into watching NetFlex original series and movies. I’ll be honest – I tried watching several NF original movies, but just couldn’t get into them for a variety of reasons: bad acting, bad plot line, flat characters – the usual.

However, Velvet Buzz Saw was one of those movies that, despite not being as riveting as The Haunting of Hill House, it wasn’t so bad that I had to stop watching it, like I did with The Rain. It was fairly interesting, had just enough action and suspense to keep me watching. It wasn’t exactly scary, more of a thriller than anything.

So here’s my take on it. The first thing it had going for it was the lead being played by Jake Gyllenhaal. I’ve seen this guy act in a lot of movies, and he seems to be pretty adaptable. Because of this, I was willing to give the movie a try. As usual, Jake did not disappoint. Out of all the characters I’ve seen him play, this one was probably about as “on the fringe” as his Brokeback Mountain persona. He plays the bi-sexual art critic Morph, a character that somehow managed to seem both high-strung and low-key at the same time.

Again, while the plot line was not riveting, it did have potential. I feel like maybe the movie failed to capitalize on what it had going for it. The death scenes could have most certainly been gorier. The beginning seemed to prattle on, almost losing me in the first twenty or so minutes. There seemed to be far too much dialog about art and corporate espionage and yet failing to really drive the entire thing home. The acting wasn’t necessarily bad as it was a bit more over-the-top. It really felt like the director was going out of his way to create a film that skirted all the major genres – horror, action, drama, thriller – in an attempt to be as blasé as possible.

As I said, it wasn’t so bad that I had to stop watching it, but it certainly could have been better. I feel if the director had actually chosen a genre and a rating and followed through, it would have been much better. But alas, all we ended up with was a mediocre film which made art seem both boring and dangerous.

I’d give Velvet Buzz Saw a solid 3 stars out of 5.