Saturday, March 23, 2013

Who is this Cynthia P. Willow? Inquiring Minds Gotta Know!

News Flash!! Cynthia and her daughter
 made the front page!

One of the great things about having a blog is exploiting the freedom to do what you want with it!

And so, here's the first of what could be many interviews! Woot! Yes, that's right! I'm branching off into new, possibly mucky, territory :)_

The first "victim" of The Land of Betrovia  blog-based interviews is Cynthia P. Willow.

So why is Cindee the first person to be interviewed for The Blog?

No special reason at all!

Now on to the QUESTIONS!!

Who/What inspired you to begin writing novels?
My own children were the main inspiration. I began writing shortly after they began school. They would bring home those Scholastic fliers with the books they wanted me to order circled. Then my son, who was in third grade at the time, said, “You should write a book, Mommy.” That day we came up with The Land of Serenity and the main characters.

What do your closest/dearest family members think of your writing "habit"?
They don’t really say much about it. My husband is a video gamer, but he does help me from time to time when I need advice about where a story should go. And he always gives his opinions about my covers while they’re being made.

The first novel of yours that I encountered is Hell's Christmas, definitely not a middle-grade fantasy story! Why did you venture into the MG fantasy realm with The Land of Flames series?
Actually The Land of Flames was the first story I ever wrote. I began Patty Gayle and The Legend of Kingsley shortly after, and then, I got the idea for Hell’s Christmas about midway through Patty Gayle. I only worked on Hell’s Christmas during the holidays. It gave me a break from young fantasy. But in all honesty, it’s not something children can’t read.  It depends on the child. One of my biggest fans is only 10 years old and she loved Hell’s Christmas.  So it really depends on maturity.

Referring now specifically to The Land of Flames: what do you see as its key theme?
The theme of The Land of Flames is good versus evil. As a Christian author, some people question why I have magic in this series. It is my way to show how we can take gifts and use them for good or for evil. There is not a direct God message in this story as there is in my others, but the morals that we as Christians are supposed to live by are apparent.  The whole series deals with honesty, integrity, loyalty, love, and faith.

Would I have any chance of surviving if I met The Land of Flames' chief antagonist in a dark alley? Explain please!
Dave, I highly doubt you’d survive in a dark alley up against Ocamar. It would take a miracle. He is a dragon with a grudge after all.

Are any of the characters in The Land of Flames mirroring someone you know? Explain.
Hmm ... not really. It’s odd for me, too. My other books all have characters based on close friends or family. Not this series. This series is complete fantasy, and the characters are too unique to be mirroring anyone.

Tell me about the other books in the series. What are your goals for these future projects?
Book 2 in the series is called The Legacy of Zedbulla, and it is already available. I’m really excited about where this book went. It is a tad darker, but not too much. There is a new enemy in this one, and he is far worse than Ocamar ever could be. You see, Ocamar, much like Darth Vader, had a good side. He had a reason he turned to the dark side.  He’d started out as good. Not Natas. Natas, the new villain, is just plain evil. He is completely without light of any kind. He’s bitter and he is full of hate. His only fear is the dragon, but I won’t say why. Book 3 has no title yet, but it is well on its way to being an exciting conclusion. It begins with a mysterious lady character. I can’t tell you who she is, but she will play a pretty big part. She will assist Natas in his pursuit to rule the land. A new king will be crowned in this one, but I’m still not sure who will earn it. There will be a wand duel for sure.

Please tell me in one sentence only, why everyone should read your book.
You should read The Land of Flames because it is a fun and easy read full of all the things fantasy lovers crave.

What is one book, besides The Land of Flames  everyone should read?
Everyone should read the Bible.  There’s no book that has better stories in it, especially true ones.

Now, for a question totally unrelated to writing: if you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you want with you?
I have 3 children. I know they’re not things, but I can’t imagine not having them with me.

And here's another one! If you could meet one person who has died, who would you choose?
Oh man, that’s too hard. I first thought of C.S. Lewis since his books began my love for fantasy reading. However, I have to say that it’s my own imagination that helps me write. And I owe my creative imagination to a man who had a television show for children. I cried the day he died, although I was an adult and no longer a child. Have you guessed yet who I’m talking about? Mr. Rogers.

And the last one! You have won one million dollars; what is the first thing that you would buy? Explain its importance.
I’d buy my parents’ house they’ve had for sale for years now. They need it to sell badly.  That’s the first thing I’d buy after giving a great amount to my church. I know that is the most common answer among Christians, but I truly would tithe first.

Thank you for this interview, Dave!

No! Thanks to you, Cynthia P. Willow, for suffering through the very first The Land of Betrovia blog interview!

And have a splendiferic day as well!

Addendum (July 26): Cynthia and her daughter

Friday, March 22, 2013

Got Conflict? If so, your novel will be a best seller!

For some writers, writing is a private, personal thing. But for those of us who like to communicate with other writers via Facebook, writing has become a very public thing. We visit a certain friendly Facebook page on a daily basis and, once there, post our fears, foibles, fantasies as well as our vices, vanities and even victories! We share writing prompts, family stories, and prayer requests.

A new thing we have been doing is "Word War-ring." And what exactly is that? Basically, for a previously-agreed upon length of time (usually an hour), those who want to participate write as much as they can, as fast as they can, all for the inspired purpose of generating the greatest number of words in that sixty-minute time period.

For example, this afternoon a few writers (including myself) "battled" it out during two different 60-minute sessions. I didn't do as well as I had wanted to primarily because I was watching (with the audio muted, of course!) a few games of March Madness. But the main thing was to force myself to work on Ahnak: Edelin's Revelation (even though the "battles" of March Madness were being fought at the same time). And so I did!

I guess you could call it "accountability," if there's really a need to find another motivating factor. For me, I like "warring" for "words" compared to writing in isolation. But what about just setting a timer? Or even just asking a family member to keep track of my time? The answer is easy: it's fun to "compete" with other like-minded writers. Yes, it would be nice if Wifey wanted to "war for words" with me, but she is not much of a writer. And what kind of competition would that be for a "seasoned veteran" like me? Har Har!

There is conflict in writing. Writing something, especially a piece of fiction, that someone will enjoy enough to actually pay a few bucks for can be stressful. Yes, there's even tension when writing, the tension that comes with facing deadlines (even if those deadlines are entirely self-imposed).  Conflict, stress, tension ... are they the same thing? Yes, for the most part. But in the process of writing a novel, it might be best to see them as three different things.

But what about the task of creating conflict between characters -- then to create stress and even tension in the reader -- what are some simple, but effective ways of doing this? 

Here's what some stress-producing Writers' Cafe folk think. 

"Conflict should always be introduced as quickly as possible. If your first three chapters are backstory and other throat-clearing, delete them. Readers need to know a lot less before the story starts than you think they do."

"If nothing much happens in the first four chapters, maybe you're starting your book in the wrong place. I try to start my books when 'something changes'. But, frankly, if this is the first novel you've ever written, stop stressing over it.  Write whatever you want, put it in a drawer for a few months, and then re-read it. You'll learn more from doing that than you ever will agonising over whether you're starting it correctly."

"The conflict should at least be hinted at. A good way to bridge that tension gap would be to have a protag walk by a newsfeed talking about the worsening crisis, have his TV run in the background talking about clashes, maybe have a note arrive in his mail to receive a physical examination (for the draft), something like that. You don't have to start with a nuclear explosion, but the reader should get a hint that something big and potentially very bad is going on."

"Just write the story how you want to. It's a learning process and you learn by doing. Absolutely write the story the way you like to have a story told, and write the story that you want to tell. Simply be aware that readers expect certain conventions to be followed and if you want to sell the story, you have to take that into account. You can have an exciting science fiction story with no one ever becoming physical with someone else. Conflict doesn't necessarily mean a physical attack on someone. Conflict can be as mild as a child asking to be excused from the table to watch TV and the mother saying he has to finish his vegetables first. The kid says something like, 'But Mom, I'll miss the beginning.' Kid wants to do something. Mother prevents him. Conflict. A clash of wills. It can also reside within one character. Your protagonist sees an accident and wants to help but also wants to remain unnoticed. If he helps, he'll be noticed; if he doesn't help, he'll feel bad. Conflict. An inner clash. The conflict makes the reader want to go on: Will the child get his way, or will the mother? What will be the result in either case? Will the child learn to hate the mother, grow up spoiled and self-centred? In the second example: What will the protagonist do: Help or walk away? What will that cause in the future? Will he be discovered and hunted? Will his inaction eat away at him, leading him to a greater danger down the road? Read on to find out. Conflict, as another responder told you, should begin as soon as possible. Yes, you can have a protagonist that the reader won't particularly like. It's a more difficult process, and you'd be advised to ensure he has at least some likable characteristics. If we're not going to like him, then he'd better interest and intrigue us. But again, this is if you are writing for a wider public. If you are only writing for yourself, for practice or for joy, it doesn't matter."

"Readers today are impatient. Cut to the chase and get on with it. Nobody ever moaned about a story that was TOO exciting."

"Tension does not equate action. Does the reader know and understand that the main character will die if he does not get to play this game (or something equivalent)? We need to understand the stakes before we can care about the character's success or failure."

"I'm of the school of thought that having action or conflict in place as early as possible maintains the reader's attention and keeps them moving from chapter to chapter... not every chapter may need it, but certainly at or near the start you should have something to grab their attention and build the compelling curiosity/urgent need to keep turning the pages. The longer you keep them hooked, the more chance you have of winning them over and getting them to finish your book instead of discarding it for something more exciting/interesting/with a brighter cover/etc. For my works I always try to have an action sequence in the Prologue or First Chapter, and when I've written something without it I'd always go back and rewrite based on the beta readers experience. However, it's all a learning process and as each book (or chapter) is written you do gain deeper understanding in refining the craft and style required to make a book compelling. (DISCLAIMER: I've been writing books for the last ten or so years, but have only just started publishing in the last six months -- so my advice should be taken with a grain of salt!)"

"I don't know about sci-fi, but I definitely know in fantasy, you need to draw the reader into your world and its characters as soon as possible. It doesn't have to be some uber-battle or anything. It needs to be something that will make the reader want to keep turning the page to see what happens next. The first chapter is critical in getting the reader's attention. Too much buildup and it loses its power to capture a reader, and the story gets long, drawn-out and boring."

"I think people worry too much about forcing ACTION to the front of the book. It just has to be interesting in some way. Now, typically, backstory isn't all that interesting, even when it's interesting. As long as the character is doing something, trying to acomplish something that's interesting, then most readers will give it a chance. So, it's simple: just be interesting."

"A common mistake beginning novelists make is not recognizing they may need to write themselves into the story, but the reader will not appreciate that info dump, it's not the story. If you do, you'll get plenty of one star reviews such as 'this sucks,' 'I got up to chapter three and nothing happens.' You said you feel this way, so your readers will, too. They're not dumb; they pick up on this stuff. The biggest mistake I've seen from gamers that try to write books, is they write it like a game. They introduce characters that are not necessary to the plot and will never be heard from again, go off on too many red herrings, have way too many sub-plots so the 'story' gets lost, leaving the reader unsatisfied and confused. Make sure you have an over-riding story arc and every scene drives the story forward. Throw out those first three chapters and start with a mugging, for example, to find your conflict. It doesn't have to be action; it can be emotional, but it has to be there. Intersperse back story as needed, sprinkled in lightly."

"What works in an RPG does NOT generally translate well to fiction. Games tend to often rely on 'what do the rules let me do?' instead of 'what is the logical course of events?' Anyone who has gamed for a significant amount of time has dealt with 'that guy' who decides to pick pocket the King not because it serves any purpose, but because he has +16 ranks in Sleight of Hand and figures he can get away with it. Or the guy who just intimidates the guard instead of trying to use diplomacy because he is level 12 and can wipe the floor with the generic level 3 NPC guard. The most important thing is not to immediately jump to ACTION per se. The most important thing is to immediately engage the reader. As a reader, it doesn't matter to me if your character gets mugged or is fighting a dragon unless I care about the character one way or the other in the first place. I either need to care about the character's well being OR want to see him get what is coming to him. I don't have to like him. It's OK if I despise him, in fact, so long as I despise him enough that I can't wait to see him ripped to shreads by the roaming band of trolls! All that said, don't try to edit as you write. You will never finish the book. Get the thing down on paper. Then put it away for a month. Come back to it, and read it with fresh eyes. Then edit out everything that does not relate to the story you are trying to tell. Sometimes we gamers get too smart for our own good and we throw in NPCs that serve no purpose or plant false leads as if we are trying to string along players. Go back and pull out the stuff that either A) does not relate to the plot B) does not relate to character development and C) does not relate to world building. If it doesn't move forward the plot, build the character, or create a sense of place, get rid of it. Then put it away again for a week or two. Now go back and see what you are missing. Where is the character development weak? Where is the world building too thin? This is the best way I have found to handle it. If you try to "fix" it while you are writing it, you just get in your own way."

"An RPG need only be interesting to the five or six people seated at the table. Even if everyone else thinks it's crap, if it accomplishes that it's a resounding success. But follow that standard, and you'll get five or six readers. And you'll have worked hundreds or thousands of hours to get them."

"One thing to keep in mind when deciding how to start is how long you have to hook your reader. Amazon's The Look Inside preview is, I believe, 10% of the entire piece. So unless your story is over 220,000 words, your potential readers aren't going to get to even see where the story actually starts. However long that 10% works out to be, the one thing you have to do in it is make your potential reader care enough to become your actual reader. There is no one way to make a reader care: appeal to their emotions, appeal to their sense of curiosity, appeal to their sense of schaden freude, etc., but make sure you do it in that 10%, or you won't get many people reading your book. And the ones who buy without looking inside will likely be ticked off when they read the story and it doesn't even get started until almost a quarter of the book is has gone by."

"I don't think you should cut your story to start right at the mugging or dump the reader directly into an action scene unless you are setting the tone up for the rest of the book to be hard-hitting and able to keep up that pace. As a reader, I hate being dumped directly into an action scene right off the bat, except in the very rare instances where it is done well with out being confusing. This is especially true for Sci-Fi and Fantasy that requires world-building and explanation. If your book is taking place in some distant galaxy or alternate world, for example, you should ease the reader into it gently, avoid info dumps and BAM action scenes where the reader is trying to figure out what all is going on suddenly and, at the same time, trying to visualize the world it's taking place in. As a writer, I recommend writing your story how you are comfortable writing. Asking for advice on how to write your story will get you two hundred different answers from two hundred different people. Prologues are not pointless, in fact I think they are a lost art-form that are perfect for setting up the tone of your book for the reader and giving them a gentle push into the shallow end of your universe before dunking their head under water, like many books seem to do these days in chapter 1 in an attempt to grab readers who may have short attention spans."

"I wanted to mention that the genre (sci-fi, fantasy, literary, horror or mainstream fiction) is irrelevant to telling stories. Yes, some genres have 'expected' conventions, but the best writers create the conventions and don't pander to audience expectations.  Give them something new. By this I mean, learn pacing, mood, setting, emotional hooks, character development, foreshadowing and metaphor.  Tension and conflict can be established with nothing more than the choice of adjectives.  Good writing , imho, is not a string of connected action sequences or explanations of why the action is necessary, rather it is a portrait of people experiencing life.  The best sci-fi, again - imho, are the stories that connect the human experience of the far off world to the everyday present day reader. So, my advice is write the story how you see it unfolding.  Prologues are great, when done well.  Whether or not you start with an action scene depends on the character and type of story you want to tell as mentioned before. My other advice is to connect the emotions, history and personal conflicts (resolved and unresolved) and attitudes of the main character (all characters really) with the narrative.  He should be consistent in thought and action, and with his history.  This is one way to make him human in the 'show, don't tell' tradition. It is also a great way to get the reader to give a [crap]. These literary tools (devices?), when done well, create character empathy.  Not sympathy - empathy.  And this is what resonates with readers and one reason that books become bestsellers. Writing is actually pretty tough to do well. Write it and then work on theme, reinforcing it, character development and structure."

"Throwing my opinions in: 

--Keep it interesting (character or world building, intrigue, tension, action... all of these can be interesting, it doesn't always have to be conflict)
--Don't break accepted formatting and/or grammar conventions/rules UNLESS you have a valid reason to do so (I like it better that way isn't really a good reason when it comes to grammar and formatting)
--There are no "rules" when it comes to writing, just accepted convention and expectations. Again, break them if there is a valid reason to do so.
--Write the way that YOU find pleasing. If others like it, you will be able to do it again and again with relative ease.
--Expect that no matter what you do, there will be people who will ding you for it. That's just the way it is.
--I'd get opinions from "non-writers" about your work before I'd seek critique from writers. You want to know, above all else, if your story is engaging. Writer's tend to notice the little things that many readers do not.
--Expect that your style will change over time. One of the great things about digital publishing is that you can see what works for your readers based on their reviews and emails. As long as you are willing to change and adapt as you see fit, your success (monetary) should only increase over time."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What Edelin Bock Wishes for at the End of His Rainbow

How many people would like to emulate characters in literature like Robin Hood? The hero who "steals from the rich to give to the poor"? If the popularity of The Tales of Robin Hood, among others, is any indication, then the answer must be: a whole bunch of people!

Edelin Bock is a third-generation thief, a "man of the shadows," just like his father and his father before him. Even as a young child, what his father did for a living was not hidden from him. In a way, for the Bock clan, being a thief was as good of a way of making a living as being a farmer, working in Betrovia's plentiful forests as a hunter/woodsman, or even being a member of the militia.

Of course there are laws against such things--what do you think Betrovia is? A land of chaotic, lawless, blood-thirsty barbarians? But just because laws had been written to make stealing illegal does not mean the populace as a whole looks down on thieves. Oh no, not in the least!

The people of Lycentia accept as fact the economic inequities inherent to its system: they realize that those in power are going to maintain their power however possible. And those who are financially well-off are going to remain financially well-off ... however possible.

The unwritten code that binds the men of the Bock family, along with the other families known for choosing this unsavory line of work, is that they would only steal from the rich and the powerful -- from those who would continue to be rich and powerful no matter how much is stolen from them.

But it goes without saying that if a thief is caught, he would be persecuted to the full extent of the law. And his trial would be short and to-the-point. If a thief is caught, tried, convicted and sentenced for his crime, it surely does not make him any less of a Betrovian. His time served in prison would be seen as just a negative consequence of the career choice, much like a woodsman being injured by a falling tree or a even soldier losing a limb in battle. Prison-time is seen as simply as an occupational hazard.

But Edelin Bock is not any common Betrovian thief. And why is that, you say? To keep this from becoming a story all by itself, suffice it to say that Edelin doesn't steal to make a living for himself. No, that would be too easy. His goal, his pot of Fool's Gold, so to speak, is something more powerful, more enticing, possibly even more insidious than a pewter urn overflowing with a precious metal. His goal, his passion, his raison d' tre (so to speak--even if I don't speak a lick of French!) is FREEDOM!

Does Edelin want to be a thief for the rest of his life? No, not really. But what else can he do? What else does he know how to do?

Does he like being a thief? Most-definitely! And he is quite good at it, too! Even his father told him many times that when he was Edelin's age, he was nowhere near as proficient or efficient as Edelin. But did that lofty praise from a man he looked up to--literally and figuratively--cement in the young man's mind the image of him being happy being a thief until he was too old to be one?

No, it did not. Not even close.

For you see, Edelin is entirely self-centered ... as any up-and-coming confidence man should be, right? He wants to do what he simply wants to do. And no one, not even his father -- the man he had worshiped from the day he first knew of his father's fame and prowess -- can tell him differently. Edelin Bock is a thief of thieves, the confidence man from a long line of confidence men. He's a cheat, a liar, and a scoundrel. But, in his eyes, he is FREE! He is free to continue being a thief ... or something even worse.

But is it possible to be free enough to have complete control one's future? To have unhindered access to manipulate one's fate? One's destiny?

For someone as selfish as Edelin Bock, the answer is a resounding YES!

Take a look at how Edelin acts (and reacts) towards Betrovian valuables dangled before him.

From Betrovia, book one of The Land of Betrovia trilogy:

"If those writings (the ancient scrolls that Patrik the innkeeper found one day in a cave) happened to end up in my knapsack, I might be able to find someone who'd do more than translate them." He put his hands behind his head. "Bah, sometimes I find myself living in such a fantasy world. I cannot afford anyone learning that I’m here, especially anyone in Noran. Can’t afford being discovered … being arrested … not again. I won’t be arrested ever again," he said, closing his eyes. "And I definitely don’t want to be involved with Patrik or anyone who’s investing time and energy in deciphering some moldy old scrolls!" He rolled over and pulled a blanket up over his head. "But I just wonder what those scrolls might be worth ... to the right person?"

From Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls, book two of the trilogy:

“Aha! Here it (a silver medallion engraved with the image of the three spires of the Lycentian temple) is!” he said after rifling through the commander's bags. The moon was nearly full that night, so as he held it aloft for a moment, suspending the silvery object from its chain, he smiled as he appreciated its fine craftsmanship. Edelin then ripped off the chain and tossed it back into the commander's bag. The pendant then joined the coins in the knapsack's secret compartment.

From Ahnak: Edelin's Revelation, soon-to-be-published book three of the trilogy:

     “What is that? That ... that shiny thing?” the shop-keeper asked. “There! That tiny plate around your neck! Let me see that! Give it to me! Now!”
     “The medallion? Why sir, you are grievously mistaken,” Edelin said. “This trinket is completely worthless and – ”
     The shop-keeper then lunged forward, grabbed him around the head and before Edelin knew what was about to happen, had broken the medallion away from its paltry chain. “This! Worth nothing? You strange little man! I know a fine piece of silver when I see one,” the Haarigoian replied. “And this be a very fine one, indeed!”
     “Give it back!” Edelin commanded, surprising even himself with his sudden outburst of anger. “Even though it is quite worthless, sir,” he then said, eyes downcast and in a voice with a softer, calmer tone.
     “Out again! Leave now! And I be keepin' this trinket! It be a good one for my collection! A fine piece, very fine indeed!”
     “Sir, you ... you simply do not understand,” Edelin looked at the man's olive-skinned face. “My poor mother, Othleis have mercy on her tortured soul, the medallion was hers. She gave – ” The brute offered an even-larger grin than before but this time displayed a single-edge short-sword that he pulled from behind his back.
     “Little man, the shiny plate be now mine,” he whispered as he waved the weapon back and forth. “Again! Out with you!” he then shouted, waving the sword menacingly first towards the door and then at Shatrik's messenger boy. “Out now! Before you learn the sharpness of my blade!” Edelin sighed and then, with head bowed, exited the shanty. “Ha! Indeed you are wise! Until we meet again, scrawny man!” the shop-keeper chortled before slamming the door.
     “The medallion,” Edelin whispered as he stood just outside the Haarigoian's shop. “I must have that medallion.”

Edelin Bock is a thief. But he is not far from becoming something worse, something more dangerous, something more evil. But might that be his destiny? His "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow he follows?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Are Darker Days Ahead for Amazon Select?

Amazon appears to be heading in a different direction in the mega-retailer's relationship with indie authors. It wasn't hard to figure out early in 2012 that the main reason Amazon created the Prime/Select system (that gave participating indie authors up to 5 "free" days to promote their ebooks) was to actually promote and sell the company's ebook reader, the Kindle. And now, in early 2013, Amazon has told ebook bloggers like Pixel of Ink (POI) and Ereader News Today (ENT) that they need to pare back on their advertising of "free" Amazon ebooks.

The future is now here.

So, what are concerned Writers Cafe indie-authors thinking Amazon should do for them, for the folks who helped the company make millions by selling Kindles?

"Free has lost its appeal for Amazon, as well as for some writers. Acknowledgement of this by Amazon (algorithim changes followed by the recent strong disincentive for affiliates to promote free books) is a tacit admission that the key benefit for writers in Select--free days--is now of questionable value. Jeff Bezos has not made many mistakes so far, and I suspect that plans to restructure Select are well advanced. Unless the law forbids it, I'd like to see a minimum price for every book available through Amazon."

"Lowering royality? I hope not. Lowering my royalty isn't going to entice to me go into Select. I'll still do better being spread out on various outlets. I have trouble believing they will go that route with Apple and Kobo offering 70% and B&N not too far behind them."

"Lower royalties would be a stupid business move, and Amazon is not stupid. You don't take away something that has been given. Plus that would give a competitive advantage to other platforms. However, I could see .99 promotions taking the place of 'Free' for Select and elsewhere. It would be nice to see .99 become the new 'free'. Everyone makes more money that way."

"Completely agree with this. Amazon would be stupid to lower royalties for existing authors.
Instead, I see an expansion of the current "Select is 70% in India, 35% for non-Select". I suggest they'll do the following:
- Non-Select book royalty remains exactly the same.
For books in Select:
- 70% royalty for all regions, worldwide, irrespective of price (so yes, 70% for 99c works).
- Amazon-lead promotion for free giveaways, think "POI run by Amazon". If so, I'd expect it'd be like submitting a story to Kindle Singles in that there'd be a review process to get on the list, which also allows them to weed out the Wikipedia-scraped books, etc. I don't expect that these will be heavily promoted.
- New and different types of promotions, such as "50% off!" or "Buy Part I, get the sequel free!" or even "Buy a print copy, we'll ship you an ebook version!". I'd expect these will be much better promoted by Amazon since they still make money on them.
- I expect that free downloads will be Prime-only, but will hopefully be re-weighted to account for this. It could be that in the future 300 downloads is considered a very successful promo. I expect that Erotica will either be put in the smut-jail where it's almost a separate store, or is otherwise ranked down, but yeah. I think Select's future is still bright, but only if they change things for the better."

"I would love to have that nifty line through the original price with the listing saying 'on sale for 99¢' or something to that effect. Then it's really clear that people are getting a deal."

"Amazon already lowers the royalty rate for non select books to 35% since the launch of India and will continue for every new market going forward. They can get away with this simply because they are pretty much the only player in some of these markets. I don't see them lowering it for the existing 70% domains unless every retailer does it. One thing to remember about e-books is that Amazon makes incalculable profit off of them. They get 30-65% plus delivery fees off of the retail price of every book sold. They have nothing else at risk, they don't write, edit, format, create covers, or advertise. Amazon just makes money. Their customers come first, but they are not going to intentionally sabotage authors or drive them away with policy changes. We make them a LOT of money and they make us a LOT. Price matching is an Amazon policy.  If they don't want free books, they just don't have to price match anymore.  There won't be any less books sold if they did this, but they won't do this because it will drive customers to other websites like Smashwords and Apple where they can get free books and while they are there, buy others. I still think that Amazon should create a top layer/filter for select free books over the normal free listing.  So when you click on a genera listing and see the top 100 free. It defaults to the top 100 free that is exclusive only available on amazon. This will promote the exclusivity that we give them, as well as highlight the value of a prime membership. This also showcases why you should be using Amazon and Kindle readers/apps. Books that can't be found anywhere else.  This also reduces the effectiveness of price matched free books. To see ALL free books you would have to click another link that displays the perma-free, public domain, and select free books like it is now. Another boon to defaulting to select only free books is that you won't see the same books day after day because a select book can only be listed 5 days out of a 90 day period. I would think a lot of people would be visiting the site every day to see what's newly free.  Right now if I see what's free for sci-fi/adventure all I see is that same damned 'The Time Machine' perma-free public domain book that's been there for the last two years. No wonder everyone gets their free book lists from ENT and POI. Amazon's list never changes! I can't compete with 5 days against books that are free everyday. Even when I do manage to spike past 'The Time Machine,' I'm gone the next day when my promo is over and 'The Time Machine' simply moves back up a slot."

"These two kind of go against each other. Amazon benefits from lowering royalties and a lot. I don't think they will do it, but since they are so dominant they can, there is not much competition from other retailers so far. Amazon not only has traffic of Buyers but also devices that dominate and unless Apple really start pushing iBookstore than they won't be losing too much authors either. Maybe they will add more money to borrowing pool or increase amount of borrows allowed per reader instead of once a month. I do hope Apple comes up with a push for iBookstore and more and more people read on their devices, in Europe, Apple has much much much more of them than Amazon. That would make Amazon sweeten the deal for authors more."

"Keeping Select titles only in the free 100 would be the only thing that works for me. If Amazon reaffirms their commitment to promoting select titles, then indie authors without a name will be enticed by this because it will be their best chance of getting noticed. Otherwise, I doubt mucking about with Free and Royalties is going to keep us away from the other platforms."

"From Amazon's past actions, I'd say the purpose of Select is to promote Prime. The cost of that promotion is the payment to authors for borrows. The benefit to Amazon is new Prime members. We don't know how Amazon evaluates the cost/benefit. Select allows free books. There is probably some daily volume of free books that results in the greatest revenue to Amazon. We don't know what it is. Amazon might not know, either, but I suspect they have determined a range for management purposes. I'd expect Amazon to manage the volume of free books to hit somewhere in that range. There are lots of ways they can do that. Visibility can be used. Affiliate pressure can be used, etc. But making Select attractive to authors? There is no reason to do anything as long as the number of books in Select is sufficient to attract the maximum number of new and renewing Prime members. It's 300,000 now. That's a pretty healthy cushion."

"It's certainly plausible that tying up books is a benefit to Amazon, but I'm not sure those exclusive books result in an addition to Amazon's total revenue. If Select did not exist, would consumers spend less money at Amazon? Is B&N selling less because of Select?The case for incremental revenue due to Select rests on the idea that without Select, a consumer would not just buy something else to occupy her eyeball hours. Perhaps they would buy James Patterson rather than Terrence OBrien. Really, that actually happened once. I've aways wondered at B&N's apparent indifference to independents. One explanation that is consistent with their behavior is that independents don't result in an increase in total revenue. Consumer demand may not change because of an increase in the supply of titles. It's always hard to measure what didn't happen, so I can't offer a robust defense of the idea that Amazon total revenues didn't increase due to Select. But lacking any good data, I'll acknowledge my ignorance. They still don't call me. I know they have a conference call with everyone else."

"When Select first started, the Free promo's were great. What we're experiencing today is 'Free Inflation' because there are too many books capable of going free. People need 15-25k downloads to get the same effect as 1k downloads did when 'free' first started. They can fix this by tightening the leash on how many times, and how often, you can list your book for free so that 1k free downloads is as effective as 25k is today. You have to get featured through these gateway sites in order to be seen, let alone achieve a 'bump' in sales.  Places like Bookbub you have to pay AND meet criteria, but the results speak for themselves.  But that's the economics of the "free" system, and Amazon is realizing it's not evolving into something they like. I have a feeling that Amazon has some interesting features in the pipeline that will gravitate people back to Select, and make it more effective. In the end, if their goal is to help authors have their book seen and achieve bumps in sales, whatever they offer will inevitably require some kind of leash to prevent what we're seeing now with the free "inflation" effect. They could offer paid services ala Bookbub, but then that means only people with money (or willing to spend money) will have their books seen. They could cut back on the number of free days from 5 to 2, but that would make all the free gateway sites more stingy on who they take in (or take you a lot longer to get on the listing). In the end, there has to be some limiting factor ... free is free, until it costs money or time to be useful!"

"Do Bookbub-style promotions for every country (except at no cost to the author and using Amazon's existing mailing list)]. Each author gets one promotion per month where they must agree that Amazon lowers their book price to 99c (or whatever) for a day, and Amazon sends out the special promo emails. This would greatly help indies expand into the markets of other countries (as long as your book is written in the language of those countries).
It would also help indies be seen. Books would have to meet criteria - over 4 stars, a certain amount of reviews and perhaps even a manual score. (Customers should be able to choose the genres they wish to receive alerts about, and also opt out of these special promo emails if they wish.) Yeah, yeah, I know with so many indie authors it would be a logistical nightmare to implement, but still it would be great, no?"

"Let us choose one book page a month where we can have a guaranteed appearance in their also-boughts for five days. Let us be featured in an Amazon e-mail once a month. Either of those would be very helpful."

"There are 270,000 ebooks in Select, last count I saw. Is it even viable to assure folks that they'll get into an email once a month? What happens if there are 600,000 Select books?"

"Several people have suggested Amazon provide special promotions for Select books. There are 300,000 books in Select. If each book was promoted once per year, that would be 822 promotions per day. And emails? I like the emails I get from Amazon because they are usually correct. I like the books they recommend. But I doubt I would like the books if they were simply email payment to authors for being in Select."

"That's why I suggest a complex combo type of promo, not a one-size-fits-all, and much of it focusing on specific categories. It can be done for all 822 titles every day, cleanly automated, and dispersed over various Amazon visibility real estate. In fact, we might even be offered a tick box menu of promo options to choose from at the time of signup, and we pick a fixed number of items:
keywords blast
search results
daily deals
also boughts
kindle powerup ad
front page placement
residence on new release list

"I'd like an option where I'm not exclusive, and I don't get any free days, but my books can be part of the Prime lending thing. You can pay me less, since I'm not exclusive or whatever. As someone who has Prime and uses the lending feature, I couldn't care less whether or not I can buy the book elsewhere. I have a KINDLE. I can't read other stores' formats on it anyway. Exclusivity really doesn't matter to me. It's not a selling point. Likewise limiting the free books I can choose from isn't a selling point. I don't get why they made it exclusive anyway. Unless, of course, they really are the evil empire that the trad people think they are, and they want to own the world."

"Free's done, I think. I just gave away 13,000 copies in the US and I've had just 32 sales in the following two weeks on a book with a pro cover averaging 4.1 stars. Won't be doing it again. Discounted books is where it's at. If only Amazon would wise up and stop allowing free. Even 10c sales would make a bit of money for people."

"I really dislike the exclusivity of Select, but I don't see them changing that. It's sort of the whole point of giving perks with Select from a business standpoint. Anyway! My first thoughts as to new perks were:
Allowing more borrows for Prime members - With so many books in the lending library, and some readers reading very fast, I think one a month is a little a stingy. Especially since, don't they allow unlimited streaming for Prime videos? I think 2-4 borrows per Prime member would be a nice bump.
More keywords - I believe I read that at one time Amazon allowed 20 keywords for books. It's only been 7 since I've published, and that IMO just isn't enough for browsing discoverability. Offering double (or even back to 20) would be a very nice perk. Unrelated to Select, but I never understood why blurbs/descriptions aren't searchable (I've searched key phrases in my blurb(s) and my book(s) don't come back in the results). For being such a large, successful store, their search engine is... well... kind of bad. Long before I published, I felt this way as a buyer. But anyway, that's a little off topic so moving on. I'm not sure what it would take for me to grant exclusivity to Amazon again. It would really have to come with some sort of guaranteed visibility, but I don't know how they'd be able to guarantee that for so many authors. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with, if they do decide to change Select at all in the near future."

"Thing is with Free, I've found it it gets my name out there on Amazon whereby I would've never had a chance before. I've had sales, not like most people here, but I think it's better than nothing. If your a writer with only one book and you only want one book out than I understand, but for someone who wants to keep writing I love the free feature. The other thing is there is competition, Kobo has no restrictions on free, BUT Amazon is probably King of Free in this regard because there is NO ranking system and NO way to figure out how many free downloads have been made. Last I read free doesn't even translate to sales on Kobo like Amazon does. The cool thing is I did get a 5 Star rating for my serial though so that's worth it.
For restructuring:
- Lower Select contract from 90 days to 60 days
- Lower Free days from 5 days to 3 days
- Allow more free borrows for customers
- Bonus Royalty for Select-Only authors"

"Here's what would get me running back into Select: A special one-time Release Day promo for every book I enrolled. This would mean a complex combo of Daily Deal type mailing, high visibility on various Also Boughts, front page placement in the book's category, etc. Whatever it takes to make the book shine, to kickstart its sales. What would Amazon get? It gets to debut my book and have it exclusively for 90 days!"

"I'd like to see customers have the ability to subscribe to authors so that when that author has something new out, the customer gets an e-mail. It wouldn't have anything to do with select, would be entirely opt-in, and probably wouldn't even be that expensive to implement."

"The ability to do sales for X days, where the sale shows up as the % off the normal price. Higher royalties on .99 and 1.99 books. Maybe something like 50%."

"I think we're asking the wrong question. Instead of our little fantasies of a return to January 2012, we should ask: 'What is Amazon getting out of Select and what changes are they likely to make that will help AMAZON?' Because it doesn't matter one bit what writers want. It could be that Amazon is trying to winnow the KOLL--after all, they aren't getting appreciably more borrows than when they had 100,000 exclusive books. And it's clear they were already increasingly using freebies to segregate indies off into a high loan/sale ratio and away from the paying customers. Amazon wouldn't blink an eye if 100,000 authors left Select. Because what is the difference between 35,000 free books a day and 50,000 free books a day? Most of the borrows are taking place near the top of the charts anyway (believe me, I've had books both high and low forever, so I know the ratios.) For me, Select is all about the chance to get loans--as long as I believe my loan income beats my potential earnings in other markets, I stay in. Because I have a daughter to put through college, I don't care one whit about philosophical issues, monopolies, or corporate politics. I do what feeds the beast. And the loan pool is one source of income not available anywhere else in the world, and the competition is still only 300,000 books instead of the millions elsewhere. If the rules change, I change. I'd be just as happy if 200,000 writers left Select. While book sales aren't a zero-sum game, the loan pool is. If Customer X borrows Book A, then Customer X can't borrow my book that month. I don't expect Amazon to develop strategies that serve indie writer, or traditional publishers, or necessarily even their own imprints (believe it or not, aside from the occasional special promotions, Amazon doesn't do anything to artificially game the system to boost their own books). As David Gaughran and Edward Robertson recently wrote about, Amazon has a meritocracy built on showing the person the book they are most likely to buy, no matter where it comes from."

"Amazon's job is not really to concern itself with indies per se. Amazon's job is to use its massive pool of consumer information to put the products a consumer is most likely to buy in front of said consumer's face. Things that benefit indies may or may not help with that. But Amazon could very well care less is 100,000 indies left. I think indies have gotten an inflated idea of their collective power. Forget what goes on here at KB. You have a small but more business savvy group of indies here. The majority of indies will just deal with whatever Amazon does. And those that leave will be replaced by more wide-eyed new authors who have been lured to indie publishing by the opportunity. I don't know why everyone seems to think Amazon WON'T eventually rescale their royalties. They have already moving in that direction. The only way to get 70% in certain countries is to be in Select. Otherwise, you get 35%. Amazon won't "lower" everyone to 35%. They will "increase" their bottom tier payout to 45-50% and simply offer 70% to Select only. Think about it, if Amazon started to pay 50% on books below $2.99, who is going to complain? And insofar as the argument that the competition will pay more, newsflash: the competition ALREADY pays more on books priced below $2.99. Your 99 cent book on Apple earns 60% against Amazon's 35%. I'm looking at my Smashwords dashboard and everyone pays more than Amazon on books below $2.99."

"A huge part of Amazon's benefit from Select relates directly to the Kindle. I would say for the past few years, Kindle device sales have been a huge part of Amazon's income. At one point they reported selling a million kindle readers a week. Selling kindles gives them income, and also gives them a hold on the ebook world into the future. The person who sells the most ebooks isn't the person with the best ebook store, its the person who sold the most readers. Select helped Amazon sell kindles. As soon as a customer opened their new kindle they had thousands of free reads to choose from. That's fun for the customer. We all know how important it is for cell phone makers to have thousands of apps available at launch. Our free books were the equivalent of having apps available. Why would anyone buy another reader when kindle was linked to the KDP free promo party? Once Amazon has sold enough kindles, it will start to focus on ebook sales again, and giving the books away for free won't be so cool. This is why they're hitting the free promos every few months. Weaning us away from them. I think they want $2.99 to be the new free."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why is Sherlock still so popular?

As a young, inexperienced and often bored reader, I picked up a few of Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels but was not that impressed with them. Was it because of his writing style? More than likely. But I did grow fond of the character of Sherlock after watching a couple of the old B&W movies featuring Basil Rathbone as the super-sleuth. I thought Basil portrayed the "real" Sherlock rather well even though Basil's version was nowhere near the conflicted main character of Conan-Doyle's novels.

Recently, my interest in the British Ubermensch was rekindled because of the Robert Downey Jr. movie. And just a few weekss ago the American TV series "Elementary," a favorite show of an employee of the MFA in Freeburg, added even more fuel to that fire.

So what does this have to do with The Land of Betrovia? Edelin in last book of the trilogy rises above (or might it best to say "sinks below"?) the role of common thief to something more insidious. And as I finish up and then revise Ahnak: Edelin's Revelation, I have been thinking about attaching some of Holmes' idiosyncracies to Edelin. But hasn't that already been done via TV shows like House, Monk and even Star Trek (just gotta see Mr. Spock as an iteration of the master detective!)? But I don't plan to turn Edelin into a super-sleuth; instead, I want to present him as a young man who has a keen eye for detail and the utilizes those details for his ever-darkening purposes.

Now, on to the main thrust of this blogpost! What do some Writers Cafe indie-authors think of Sherlock Holmes?  

"Is Sherlock Holmes so popular because he is the world's best known detective, is it the new ELEMENTARY TV series? My favorite is 'Jack the Ripper versus Sherlock Holmes.' With 6 illustrations. The historically accurate treatment of Jack the Ripper and his crimes, and his interaction with Sherlock Holmes, make this IMHO a very striking book."

"Mind, you I like Sherlock Holmes. I watch Elementary, but like it despite what they did to the characters. I'd have liked them better if they weren't specifically Sherlock and Watson. Probably more disappointed, because I love the BBC version of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman."

"I am especially fond of what they did with Dr. Watson's (Martin Freeman's) character in the BBC iteration. Not so toothless as before. I can hardly wait to see what they do with the whole multiple-wives confusion."

"I attribute the enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes to the tireless efforts of the pro-drug-legalization masses, of course."

"Sherlock Holmes is the perfect flawed hero. I'm loving Elementary. I love how Watson is needed to keep Holmes on an even keel (as even as is possible) but she uses her medical knowledge and brains too. And I love that Holmes uses his brain, certainly, but he can kick butt too."

"I adore (and might even have a crush on) Holmes. The original works are wonderful. They were nothing like I thought they would be, nor, frankly was Holmes or Watson. I've yet to read a pastiche that can hold a candle to the original. I did enjoy the first few Laurie King books, but she lost me somewhere along the way."

"Big Sherlock fan here, especially the BBC version. I listen to a podcast called Great Detectives of Old Time Radio and they have a huge collection of Sherlock Holmes mystery radio show episodes that I enjoy listening to."

"I haven't seen Elementary but I'm a huge fan of the BBC's Sherlock. It helps that I love the actors playing Sherlock and Watson. But I don't think either show has much to do with Sherlock Holmes' popularity, since it was preexisting. As a kid I watched the black and white movies with Bazil Rathbone portraying Sherlock and as a teen I watched the made-for-TV versions with Jeremy Brett, who I think played the part closest to the books.  Since I've crushed on every Sherlock portrayal I've ever seen, I'm pretty sure it's something about the character himself as Doyle wrote him. Possibly his remoteness. It's a quality he shares with Star Trek's Spock, who I also liked, so I think that's it."

"Sherlock Holmes fits nicely into the trickster archetype, and tricksters have been alluring throughout recorded literature. The trickster character is a character who is smooth, untouchable, and emotionally manipulative. This person knows more than everyone else around him or her, knows everyone’s secrets, and is willing to use those secrets to further his or her own aims. Sometimes a villain, sometimes a hero, but always intriguing."

"Personally, to me, CBS' Elementary is garbage and bears more resemblance to CSI: New York than to Sherlock Holmes. Heck, The Mentalist has better TV writers! If one must bring Holmes into the modern era that way, at least do it right and keep him the world's brightest detective, in the style of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' reinvention on BBC, Sherlock, which is a completely brilliant update and features the my absolute favorite Holmes actor of all time, Benedict Cumberbatch. (Of course, I will always have a soft spot for my first Holmes actor, Basil Rathbone, who defined the role for me as an impressionable kid on late night, old-time movies. The movies were not that true to Conan Doyle, but hey... that was who I became accustomed to as Holmes growing up in the 1970s and into the 1980s.) I personally was never a big fan of Jeremy Brett, which I know is blasphemy to some, who absolutely worship him and consider him the ONLY actor worthy of playing Holmes. But his adaptations were very dark and morose, I thought -- overly serious and, for me, never captured the "fun" of Sherlock Holmes' adventures. Also, I don't consider Robert Downey Jr to be Holmes anymore than I consider Jonny Lee Miller to be Holmes. But at least Downey Jr's Holmes-like creation is fun to watch. Miller's looks like he could be outwitted by James Roday's Shawn Spencer on USA Network's PSYCH."

"It is certainly nothing to do with Elementary. I have not found a Sherlock Holmes fan yet who has anything but contempt for Elementary. After the weeks of hype leading to the release of the show they all started to watch it, but few finished watching it. I felt sorry for Lucy Liu and the potential damage to her career. The Brits are the only ones who can do a modern Sherlock."

"It is the characters first and foremost that draws me to it. Doyle brought Holmes to life. He is instantly recognizable all over the world and has been for over 100 years. Few other writers have managed that trick. It's also the setting for me. I was raised on Doyle, Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson and I love that historical period they covered in their work. It's also the time period I've come to prefer for my own writing and I can see me settling in there for a long time to come."

"Holmes is popular, like some people said already, because he's a trickster. There are all these new shows like Suits, White Collar, Burn Notice, that all basically build on Holmes' character type.
He's that guy that knows it all. He's never beaten (except that one time, and we don't talk about that).
Even Monk is Holmes minus cool and plus obsessive disorders. He's just a really good character!"

"Only problem with that theory is that the original Holmes isn't any of those things. House MD is, and the BBC Holmes is a little that way, but the original Holmes doesn't manipulate people. Emotionally, he's aloof without being wholly indifferent to others. He's just extremely--even pathologically--intellectual, which is probably a big part of the attraction."

"I will say that I loved House. I could sometimes just hear the pitch to the network in my head, 'Sherlock Holmes as a doctor!'. Like Miami Vice with 'MTV Cops'."

"Sherlock Holmes was my gateway into literature, and to this day some of my favorite stories. I remember being enthralled at how effortlessly Holmes was able to deduce so much by simply looking over an individual. As a kid I started trying to employ the same method on the people around me. And it worked to a much lesser degree. I would look at other kids and try to sum up some details about their lives from what they wore and how they acted. As I got older, I realized it also helps to listen to what they're saying. To this day I still subconsciously employ the same methods. I note wedding rings, what type of watch their wearing, if they're tan, etc. But the reason I think writers love Sherlock Holmes so much is that he is the ultimate observer, which as a writer, you want to be. If we are going to tell a story, it's the details that sells the idea. A good writer needs to show, not tell. And so saying that the attractive, wealthy, young woman drank her coffee lazily is nowhere as good as saying the woman dangled her Gucci shoe from her foot while occasionally sipping her latte, causing a constant distraction for the male barista (please excuse the poor writing example, hopefully you get my point). I would think all writers start to turn into a bit of a Sherlock Holmes themselves over time. And as for other media; my deep love for Sherlock Holmes has turned me into a pretentious purist. I don't watch Elementary, I did enjoy the Guy Ritchie films, but I just pretend they are about someone else, but I absolutely love Sherlock on the BBC. Brilliant modern day adaptions and incredible acting. The Series 2 finale was one of the best episodes of television I've ever seen. I'm happy for the success of the cast, but I hope they return soon. Anyway, that's my 2 cents on why I think Sherlock Holmes is so popular, especially to writers."

"I feel that people in general like Holmes (and his descendants like House) because they represent the purest kind of competence porn. People like to watch people being good at their jobs. It's comforting in a way."

"I've liked that part of the modern treatments. I disliked the portrayals I saw/read as a child, mostly because they portrayed Watson as a helpless idiot. As an adult, it finally dawned on me that he's not supposed to be anything of the sort. If ACD had wanted that, he wouldn't have cast him as a doctor. Watson is supposed to be a person of above-average intelligence, who only 'looks' stupid when he's standing next to Holmes. His military experience is also supposed to make him kind of a bad*ss.
Someone mentioned in this thread that Watson is sort of needed to "ground" Holmes, and I find that premise intriguing. It has a nice symmetry with Moran (who plays Watson to Moriarity), who also had military experience. Maybe evil geniuses also have need of 'grounding' by their Watsons? The points seem to be that intelligence and creativity are very different things; that true geniuses possess both, and no one should neglect one at the expense of the other. The use of medical knowledge as an indicator of intelligence, and military experience as an indicator of courage and practical common sense, may be an oversimplification but it's as clear as it can be."

"I'm a long-time Holmes fan, and I enjoy Elementary. I had serious doubts about Lucy Liu as Watson, but she's grown on me quite a bit. (Damage to her career? I was thinking she would bring down the quality of the show!) I don't think "Elementary" is perfect, although in some ways I think it's a truer depiction of Holmes than the BBC version, but then again, I don't think 'Sherlock' is the epitome of Holmes lore that some consider it, either.  There are concepts of both shows I enjoy, and some things I'd change about each, but since they're two different shows I see no reason why both can't co-exist. As for why Holmes is still popular, I think he represents the embodiment of how many of us wish ourselves to be: someone who notices the smallest detail, someone who can puzzle out the most obscure mysteries, and, as someone mentioned, someone who's always 'the smartest person in the room.' I think by nature humans are fascinated by that kind of mystery-solving ability, and that's Holmes' trademark. Regarding other interpretations of Holmes, I think Rathbone was a bit overdone as Holmes, and the inane story lines they had him act out totally ruined the Holmes image (imo). As an actor, and as for the actual productions, I loved Jeremy Brett because his version of Holmes solved the actual Doyle stories, so you know the material was good.  None of this 'Holmes meets the Nazis' shlock.  As for the Robert Downey Jr., that one seemed to have too much occult in it for me.  Even if it wasn't real (in the movie) I didn't like that the story 'went there.' It was much too dark of a movie for my taste."

"I was thinking that I find Holmes dull and kind of stilted...and my next thought was, I dislike him about as much as I dislike James Bond! Both of them bore the hell out of me. Bond isn't stilted, but he seems slimy. You know the 'roll your eyes' feeling? They both bring that out in me. I DO like characters that can be emotionally manipulative and use that for their own advantage. I just don't happen to like either of these. Neither does my husband. I wonder why we both find them so dull that we actually fall asleep watching a movie about them or reading them."