Friday, April 25, 2014

Worth a Watch? Yup.

*Disclaimer* (Dude, do I really need this?) I got into watching anime a few years ago--a little late in the game considering my college major was animation-- so you may occasionally hear me get a nerd-on for it And this is one of those times. Fair warning, I don't gush (ew, gross) but I will applaud a well made story, no matter what format it comes in. 

So ANYWAY...Not all animation is meant for the kiddos (and there's a fair amount of anime that definitely isn't!). I started watching Psycho Pass because I thought the blurb sounded interesting. Not earth shattering in that I was like OMG I have to watch this, because I'm not huge into futuristic/sci-fi/tech type stuff, but it definitely piqued my interest.

"In the future, even just thinking about a crime is enough to make you guilty – and justice is dispensed from the barrel of a gun. Detectives work in teams made up of Enforcers and Inspectors. Enforcers take out the bad guys, and Inspectors make sure their partners don’t cross the fine line between good and evil. The great equalizer in the war against thugs is the Dominator, a futuristic weapon that can read minds and assess the probability that a citizen will turn criminal. There are no trials. Only Enforcers, Inspectors, and the Dominator. Commit a crime in your mind – and the Dominator will make sure you pay the ultimate price." (Blurb/graphic courtesy of

Well, I went into this show not expecting much, just curiosity, and wound up hooked from the first episode. This isn't cutesy, funny anime. This is a dark, moody, make you think about the state of humanity type story. Can you imagine relying on technology to decide whether a person deserves to walk free? Where your thoughts and emotions can flag you as a potential criminal, even if you've never done anything wrong? Crazy.

 This series follows the main character, a rookie inspector named Akane who is immediately thrust into a difficult case her first night on the job. Her subordinates are a group of latent criminals called Enforcers (people who have a high psycho pass, which is basically their crime probability reading) and she's immediately told that these people are less than human and she's to treat them as such. They're supposed be the ones handling all the dirty work. Over the course of the series, however, we find out that things aren't so black and white. Akane grows from an almost timid, naive young woman into a strong, admirable Inspector. She bonds with her team, and as they delve further into each case (as well as trail a particularly heinous criminal) we begin to see the mutual respect between all of them.

In the beginning, this is almost like a typical crime drama type show in format, where a new case is approached each episode. Once the main villain is introduced, however, the plot begins to focus more on his pursuit. There are so many interwoven threads to this story, though. Roles are questioned, society is questioned, and there's this constant paranoia among all the characters about the levels of their 'psycho-pass' readings.

For the most part I found the characters to be well drawn. Akane is a likeable heroine, but she comes across as very human at the same time. She makes mistakes, she questions things, she's both vulnerable and strong. Shinya Kogami, an Enforcer on Akane's team,  is at first your typical serious, almost stoic male lead, type but shows surprising depth (and even a sense of humor) as the story progresses. Shōgo Makishima is definitely a psycho, messed in the head villain.

Despite the heavy tone, and the lingering questions with a future society that relies a little too much on technology (yup, there's some definite social commentary going on here) there were a few light moments that helped keep this from being a total downer. The human element is very apparent throughout the story, which I think is what drew me in, because you really see how these characters are affected and how different incidents influence them.

Not for the faint of heart, but overall, I'd definitely recommend this series!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Facebook Page Conundrum

I'll admit it, I prefer having a Facebook page much better than an actual account. I mean, it's nice to see what friends and family are up to on my 'real life' account, but for business purposes, a page is perfect. What I've noticed, however, is a mass of invites to 'like' other pages. Among the author/writer community, this has almost become an 'you scratch my back I'll scratch yours' type of deal. As in, let's trade likes. Authors will post things such as 'I've liked your page, will you please like mine?' And 99% of the time I will do it. Not necessarily because I'm interested in the page, but because it seemed like the polite thing to do. After all, they asked nicely. Isn't this, essentially, what social networking is all about? The more people that know about you and your work the better? In theory, yes. If we're talking quantity in numbers, participating in one of those Facebook page-like-swapping parties, for example, is a good bet. Actually, it's quite easy to boost your page likes that way. 

But I wonder...

Are these likes doing any of us any good? See my comment 'not necessarily interested'. What good is liking a page if I'm not interested in the content? Chances are, if I'm not interested in a page, I won't pay any attention to it. That does neither me nor the page owner any good. True, he or she has my 'number', but if I'm not engaged in their page in any way, that number is pretty useless. Isn't it? With that in mind, what could authors (or anyone, for that matter) do to find the right people who will be interested in their page? Is it like the lottery? Do we keep tossing our invites out, in the hopes that we'll hit a bulls-eye along the way? Is there a better strategy?

For what it's worth, I don't think it's wrong to reciprocate a like, or to help boost someone's page like numbers. As I said before, I have no issues clicking a like button (unless it's something I really can't stand, or completely disagree with). Ideally, however, I would want everyone who liked my page to be genuinely interested in me and my books. I guess this is just one of those random things I think about that has no right or wrong answer. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Brief Thought on Blog Tours

So Living Dead Girl hits its last set of tour stops tomorrow, and I just wanted to share a few thoughts on book blog tours in general. Would I recommend one? Yes, long as you go into it with realistic expectations. Obviously the first thing is to research who you're handing your money to before you do it--that should go without saying, but as I've discovered there are TONS of tour companies out there, and I'm not sure they're all worth the cash. So a bit of research definitely goes a long way. I chose Bewitching because I had other other friends who used their services and were pleased. What I found was a well organized tour company, and for the money I spent ($75 I think??) I got a fair amount of exposure and a few reviews. On a whole, I'm very happy with what I got and I'll definitely go back for book two.

I think the real key to remember is this--a book tour isn't a magic formula to zillions of sales. I have no idea if I even gained any readers. What I did get is exposure. That's twenty-plus blogs who posted about my book, and my feeling is, the more people who talk about it or even just know about it, the better. Another big thing is reviews. Sure, the publisher sends out copies to reviewers, but they're a small independent publisher with limited resources. There's only so much they can do, so a lot of that falls on me.

ANY indie author will tell you that it can be extremely difficult to find people to review your book, particularly when you're approaching review sites on your own. They're inundated with requests, so many never get back to you...and all that time spent sending requests, I could be doing other more productive things. Plus, I'm kind of lazy. It's like querying all over again, because you've got to research the sites you're approaching, then send them info with your request. VERY time consuming, and I don't have much of that to spare. But I'm babbling...

With the book tour I signed up for, I was guaranteed at least some reviews, which I got. And no, you're not paying for reviews, you're paying for the tour company to find the bloggers willing to do it. So there you go :)

Happy Sunday, everyone!