#Kickstarter Campaign to save history

I have a new Kickstarter campaign and I’d love your support! Besides the  for-profit motive, I have a non-profit motive as well. No one likes studying, and least of all a subject like history, which has little application to people’s lives…or so they think.

But it does, because knowing who we are and how we got here helps us ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes. As Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, “those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Thus I’m proud to announce the Kickstarter campaign for the Heroes of History Collectible Card Game, my new idea to provide an alternative way to learn history. Find reading thick textbooks boring? Not inspired by the old-school documentaries that speak in a monotone and recite lots of facts that have little to do with you? Well, I’m introducing a new way to learn the facts.

my babies

My game has battlefields, weapons, people, and things from history. Each card has a historical fact and most have a special ability to accompany them. It’s up to you to decide how you will make the moves.

 

The goal is simple: Build an army and destroy your opponent before they destroy you. Your deck comes with a brigade of both heroic and villainous men and women from history, several weapons for you to provide your soldiers for extra firepower, and supply cards and real-life battleground bonuses to enhance your army or crush your enemy.

Win the battle with legendary Shawnee war chief Tecumseh trading his bow and arrow for a cannon to blow Geronimo up. Or, put Andrew Jackson on the literally-indestructible USS Constitution to knock enemies out before taking refuge in King’s Mountain. You can even give George Washington the Gatling Gun (predecessor to the machine gun) and let him go for a joy ride on your opponent. Not only can you power your army with buffalo chips (that’s buffalo poop for you youngins), but you’ll learn something you probably didn’t know about people, places, and things which made a real difference to our world.

But, we can’t distribute this card game without your support. While a small number of cards have been made, we need an awesome community of people like you to help us get more units printed, shipped, and into the hands of our fans. Please support this campaign and take home a box (or more) that will give you, or someone you know, hours of entertainment for the price of just a few dead presidents, four of whom are actually playable cards. You can actually say you were studying while you were gaming.

This game is manufactured in the USA and is approved for all ages. All rights reserved. We thank you in advance for all your support.

Visit my campaign by clicking below: I promise you, if my autograph is worth something someday, this will be the best investment you ever made.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1497895052/save-the-heroes-of-history-from-textbook-doom

 

 

A Tip for Getting Featured on Wattpad

logo property of Wattpad.com

I got a note from one of Wattpad’s Ambassadors, which is (for those who don’t know) an unpaid position to help Wattpad monitor the site to keep it clean (or at least that’s my impressions anyway) saying they liked my store enough that they’d like to feature it when I finish posting it, in late March. Of course, I accepted it.

Here’s what the Ambassador said:

Your story will get a week or so pinned to the top of it’s genre List, then it’ll join the main part of the List. Each section of the List is randomised each day to give everyone an equal chance. Although we ask for six months, we’re happy to leave the story up there longer if the writer is happy and the story remains complete. Anyone with a Wattpad account can see your story and the Featured Lists are given prominence on various home pages on App and Web so you should see your exposure grow.

I’ve heard it’s difficult to get a story featured, because there is only so much space to promote work and so many stories to read. In this way, I’m grateful, even though I won’t make any money from the story. The network is about 40 million people, which means many potential readers.

My tip is this: You may ask for a story to be featured even if you haven’t posted it. Right now I have a third of the book posted, and while I am promising to post the rest of the story a month earlier than I had scheduled myself to, I must have impressed the Ambassador after 10 chapters because that’s how many were up when I received the offer. Actually, what happened was, I thought you sent them a PDF and if they read it and liked it, they would post and feature your story. So I  told them I would post it and be in touch when it was done. The Ambassador then checked out my story a third of the way in and liked what he saw.

It should be a fun experiment. I’ll keep you posted. In case you’re wondering, the goal is to see if I can get enough reads either to a) attract a publisher and publish traditionally or b) get enough supporters to then promote book 2, and this way if I can’t get a publisher and I self-publish, I’ll have a bigger audience than if I self-published this second.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Publishers Support White Privilege

At least according to a survey done by Lee and Low, the independent book publishing company:

Lee and Low created and executed a large survey of publishing players in the States. The report tells us that the survey went to “1,524 reviewer employees and 11,713 publishing employees for a total of 13,237 surveys deployed.” With a gratifying 25.8-percent response rate, the team has reason to feel good about how much input they received. I’ll give you the very useful infographic here produced by the company. In addition, the results are set out in a slide presentation you can access here. And the report, itself, from Lee and Low is here, dated January 26: reactions have been coming in for about a week.

Lee and Low’s corporate information makes it clear that the company’s own mission in publishing is “to meet the need for stories that children of color can identify with.”  Writing about the story for Quartz, Amy X. Wang described the Lee and Low ethnic results this way: “In the industry overall, 79 percent of people are Caucasian while just 4 percent are black, 7 percent are Asian, 6 percent are Hispanic, and less than 5 percent are Native American, Middle Eastern, or biracial. Figures on sexual orientation and disability status are no less lopsided.”

Lopsided, clearly, and most of us, sadly, are not surprised at these figures. In such campaign efforts as #weneeddiversebooks and myriad other consciousness-raising efforts, the failures of publishing to serve major sectors of the population adequately have been clear for some time. These are serious, pressing shortcomings and the more discussion about them, the better.

Basically, Lee and Low tells us that most publishing employees are straight, physically-abled, college-educated white women. Even at the executive level, long seen as the domain of men to the exclusion of women.

From the Lee and Low Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) 2015

Lee and Low are big promoters of the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign (disclosure: I’ve entered in two of their contests) and I do want to address that in a future post, specifically my objections. But basically, the recap here is that they believe authors who fit a mold- college-educated, straight white women, are going to be the most likely to be published, because they look like the typical publishing employee.

I do believe that kid’s literature is too female-dominant. When I went to the SCBWI conference in Virginia in October, it was 93% female (I counted) and almost all were Caucasian. Granted, that tends to be who is most likely to read and want to be authors, not to mention editors and illustrators. Now the members were polite and no one made me feel uncomfortable. But I could see how someone like me might wonder if s/he belongs. The same is true in the indie publishing world. Just about all, if not all, bestselling indies are Caucasians writing primarily from their own middle-class POV.

As a kid I had no problem reading books with girls as the main character. But Goosebumps were one thing: Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Slumber Party is another. And unfortunately, I see too many variants of the latter these days and much less of the former. I personally do not care who runs what in publishing: My contacts, smart white women, are great and I enjoy working with them. But I actually do agree with Lee and Low that there is a bias, however unintentional, that promotes certain types of stories unappealing to boys and certain groups, and favors authors who fit a certain profile and who write a certain kind of story.

If book publishers want to reach boys and increase literacy overall, especially among kids, they have work to do. Now I don’t necessarily want white people getting bumped to fit “affirmative action” programs if the books are inferior. But publishers need to consider making an effort to reach audiences like boys and men if they want to boost sales. This means taking risks on those who may be able to bridge that gap between potential customers and the authors.

The ultimate goal is to get people to read, and be interested. Not to pander to the latest fad of making works shorter and more shallow, or giving up on books to exclusively sell coloring, connect the dots, fill-in-the-blank, and whatever else is popular, or that teaches people that books are outdated and we should just tweet stories instead, but more interesting and more engaging. That does mean embracing technology and maybe making books more interactive, available for mobile devices, and making books cheaper  and somewhat shorter than what they are now so they’re affordable to more people and folks decide to read and not do other things. I saw two kids at the library last week playing games on their phones. The horror.

Indie publishing is different-the only real barrier is cost. That’s not something that can be controlled. For now, I think indie publishing is the domain of middle-class and above authors who can afford to spend several thousand dollars on something that is unlikely to earn money in the short term. That may change, and I hope it does, so more people enjoy stories and the people who tell them.

 

Five Reasons Millennials Are Not ‘Entrepreneurial’

Nary a day goes by when a commentator or columnist doesn’t express dismay at the struggling American economy and how lazy/selfish/unappreciative/fill in the blank “kids these days” are. I don’t know if it’s new or a pattern that occurs every decade.

The Millennial Mindset and America’s Productivity Crisis” by Steve Tobak 1/18/2016.  Below are his reasons Millennials aren’t more productive (truncated for length):

1. Quit trying to deal with a certain generation as if they’re either special little snowflakes or entitled, narcissistic brats and start holding them accountable as unique individuals.

2. That said, those unique individuals need to quit doing such an effective job of living up to those Generation Me stereotypes, put on their big boy pants and get to work.

3. And their coddling parents should quit acting as if they had absolutely nothing to do with the demon spawn they raised and stop blaming gadgets, schools and society in general.

The problem is that Millennials are not getting jobs or starting companies like their predecessors did. What are they doing? We’ll get to that in a minute, but suffice to say that America’s largest generation is not pulling its weight. And if we don’t start facing that reality and dealing with it, we’re all screwed.

Since the dawn of Web 2.0…Millennials have been branded as the entrepreneurial generation…The hype and the sensational headlines have been overwhelming:

Millennials Are the True Entrepreneur Generation.” “Gen Y Grads More Likely to Launch Startups.”… “Why Millennials Could Be the Most Entrepreneurial Generation Ever.” and so on.

But that turned out to be far more myth than reality…Millennials have actually been the least entrepreneurial generation…perhaps because they see entrepreneurship as a mindset that has nothing to do with actually starting a company. Unfortunately, wishful thinking does not lead to jobs or GDP.

While it’s true that many Millennials are snubbing corporate America, they’re generally not starting companies but joining the growing ranks of the gig economy: doing a little of this and a little of that as self-employed solopreneurs. A recent report by MBO Partners says that Millennials make up 30% of all full-time independent workers.

Instead of climbing the corporate ladder and building their careers or starting companies and creating new jobs, they’re opting for the perceived freedom, flexibility and control of self-employment…The problem is that driving an Uber cab, renting out a room on Airbnb or generating online content are not exactly high paying gigs or boons to the economy. That’s why self-employed Americans make up 17% of the working population but generate just 7% of the nation’s GDP, according to the MBO report..

If we don’t start treating Millennials – the largest demographic in our nation’s history – as individuals and hold them accountable for becoming productive members of society, how in the world are we going to increase productivity, return to robust growth, pay down our national debt, and fit the bill for all those entitlements?

2015-Millennial-Money-Report-Earn

2015-Millennial-Money-Report-Debt

This is not the first, nor the last, hand-wringing that will come with why kids my age aren’t running out to build the next Uber or Facebook. Despite the sensational media reports about teens and twenty-somethings getting rich of some new business idea, the author is right that few of us actually will try any business startup, let alone some major innovative company.

Points 1,2, and 3 are about how coddled we are. I can assure you, dear reader, I got no coddling, except Mama’s delicious spaghetti and meat sauce. And laundry done. And a roof over my head. Okay, fine.

As for debt, that is very unfair. We are not only pressured to go to college right away (in hindsight I should have joined the military or the National Guard, would have doubled as serving the country and also gotten help on student loans) but to take out massive amounts of debt, then run into an economy that’s been struggling for years. My entire adult life has been essentially a recession or stagnant economy. Not the kind ideal to finding a high-paying job or confidence in starting out on a business.

Wherever else you may see lists or reasons of why we aren’t making enough money to buy our first mansion at the age of 26, here are my five quick reasons:

1. Cost. I started to produce a card game for kids, not fully aware of just how expensive it gets to produce two decks of cards for a game. Especially when I’m trying to create a valuable product and not take shortcuts on the product itself. Fees, taxes, regulation costs-things I could not know about until I had to pay them, at least without the time investment to shop around. In hindsight, I wonder if, knowing what I know now, I would have continued with this venture. But it’s too late now.

2. Debt. I addressed this above. My guess is, many of the young techie startup folks have little or no debt, due to a) scholarship money, b) rich parents, c) trust fund, or d) any combo of the above. The rest of us, not towering geniuses going to Ivies, Duke, or Stanford, carry a lot of debt.

3. unprepared for hard life. Going into business for oneself isn’t easy, even if Warren Buffet makes it look like anyone with $100 and a pair of shoes can make millions overnight. It requires long hours, personal sacrifices, and lots of focus, which is hard in this ADHD age we live in, and which some of us suffer from, maybe even quite literally. I completely get the need for hard work and sacrifice but that really has to be conditioned, and it’s not something that can be taught in a classroom.

4. Lack of access to mentors. I noticed that most of the top Millennial Entrpreneurs have solid access to a) capital and b) advisors. I don’t mean they did so great and then got a and b. I mean they had them FROM THE GET GO. To be fair, it is possibly to meet or exceed one’s goals without “privilege”. But MAN is it hard. Far easier to start with one’s first million, or a “small loan”.

5. Government. No one knows all the regulations out there, but there are lots of federal, state and local codes and taxes to manage. And we didn’t even address the IRS tax code today.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to comment below and share this article. I’m sure there’s a lot of hand-wringing, but to me, the combo of high-debt, low cash to begin, and inexperience both as a professional and in preparedness contribute to most of us just checking out and playing the latest Assassin’s Creed, which is awesome for the record.