Extending Hagan Reviews

I am going to assume most of you are not familiar with the Hagan Reviews series. The series follows a woman, Diamanda Hagan, ruler of a fictional country named Haganistan, reviewing obscure films that most people would never touch. The reviews themselves are a lot of fun,1 but the thing I’m going to focus on more is the potential of the narrative that exists and how to use that to extend the videos outwards into other mediums to make it a more immersive experience.

So how to extend it?

Book Extension

I can easily think of three books that could be written around the underlying narrative universe.

The first chronologically would be a journal about someone living in the country while Hagan took it over and became the unquestioned dictator of the land. Hagan could find it in a review and get rid of it as a means of advertising the book. It could be put out as a lost blog, a physical book or published online for download.

Next would be a book about the takeover from the perspective of Hagan and her spin doctors, this time taking a more satirical route2 and making the take over look more like everything was for the best. It would talk about how awesome she is for the most part, as well as the rules that she put in place for the good of the citizens or herself. Finish it off with a minion application form3 and we’re done!

Lastly would be a Minion Guide. It would be a basic rundown of what you need to do as a minion and maybe a couple stories about current minions about how great it is to be a minion. Again, ebook or physical book, it doesn’t really matter which. If it is an ebook, I’d suggest this one have a printable PDF version as well with stripped down content for free.

Minion Packs

Because the universe involves many minions, why not give normal people the chance to apply to be a minion? These would be small cardboard boxes with some basic merchandise in it. A Minion Guide, perhaps, as well as a mask. The Diamanda Hagan book. I know that plushies exist, so if she could make a few of them, maybe one of those so that they would always have a Mistress to worship with them. Shirts. Just, a pack of stuff that all relate to being a minion in the Hagan Reviews universe.

Movie Boxes

I’m kind of in love with the Boxes craze that’s come up and I can see it potentially working here. After the initial Minion Pack, maybe three or four times a year, send out a box of stuff for people who are minions4 to keep people immersed in the experience.

I’ve noticed not only that she seems to like more than a few of the movies she reviews, but also that she seems to be on fairly good terms with a few of the film makers and very supportive o the indie films. In the boxes that follow, if possible, she could get little things from these upcoming indie films to put in them. Trailers, shorts and little merch could all go into these boxes along with a note from the Mistress commanding her minions to appreciate these things.

Also, there’s the opportunity to send them bonus content from the show in the form of deleted scenes, original versions of scripts or other bonus content.

These, of course, could be done digitally instead of physically, but given the narrative of the universe implying that she’s turned it into a dictatorship under an iron fist, a physical brown paper box seems more thematically appropriate.

And that’s what I thought of. Now, I need to catch up a bit.

  1. If you’re okay with a lot of the violence and sex that comes with the films she covers []
  2. Which is much more appropriate for the tone of the show []
  3. Coming back to it []
  4. And charge for them like the other Boxes do []

Extending Percy Jackson

So there’s a thing I like to do whenever I finish binge watching/reading/playing a series to make me feel better about the fact that it’s over. I like to think of how there could be more of it for me to find somewhere if I just looked hard enough. And then, to make myself feel more academic about it and like these aren’t the thoughts of someone just sad it’s over, I frame it as a brand extension exercise.

Percy Jackson is one of those properties that I’ve done that for. I know there’s a movie series1 and a second series of books,2 but we’re going to ignore them for now. I had a few ideas for it back before those things.

Merchandise

Easy starting point, right? besides the classic dolls/action figures and stuff with the name on it, there’s also the entirety of the Camp Halfblood brand to play off of. Shirts, camp necklaces3 and little trinkets to mark your Godly parent could be made to bring people into the world. And that’s the non-specific simple stuff.

With a bit of research or clever design, you could make Athena themed puzzles or Hephaestus themed small mechanical projects. Aphrodite beauty supplies. Ares training weapons made of foam. Use the mythology to help come up with further ideas.

Actual Camp

I wouldn’t be surprised if a thing like this already existed. You could do an actual Camp Halfblood that people could send their kids to, framed around the ideas in the book and drawing on it considerably. Each camper would be sorted into their bunk based on which camp program they’d be following, each of which would be different and unique to their chosen Godly parent.

What I mean by that is that it would be several small camps running concurrently with one another under the Camp Halfblood umbrella with chances for crossover. Ares would get a focus on learning weaponry, where Poseidon would be getting more time in the water and Apollo4 would get time with horses. There’s be opportunities to take things outside of their chosen programs as well and they’d have an opportunity to take stuff with campers in other houses, but their focus would be based on whatever their initial chosen parent/program was.

Virtual Camp

There’s also the Pottermore route. I’d opt for a more interactive route than just rereading the books from an alternative perspective and instead set the story after Percy’s story.5

Make it more like an MMO. Let people go and learn and train in the sections of camp. Get interesting quests into the outside world. Have some sort of micro-transaction system so that they can make in-game purchases and help them out in playing the new mini-stories that they can play within the system. Give them a chance to share those achievements with their friends.

And give them camp necklaces. Or, at least, give them access to pay for real ones. Give them an actual necklace to put their bead on and, as they complete stories or quests, give them access to new beads for each completed adventure. It’s such a small thing, but there is just something about having a physical thing that you can feel like you earned that can make the experience so much more rewarding and immersive. Send each item with a note from Chiron to make the experience feel that much more personal.

And that’s what I thought of after I binged on Percy Jackson. I’ll probably do more of these eventually.

  1. Which is terrible []
  2. Which I need the last book of []
  3. We’ll come back to these []
  4. I think it was Apollo before Percy came along []
  5. Still pretending the heroes of Olympus series hasn’t happened at this point []

Villain Motives

I am currently plotting my next book and it’s mostly going pretty well. I have my characters figured out, the arc for my main character, a couple subplots and minor characters that will pepper the story. I know the setting, a general sense of demographic and the overarching themes. I even have the challenge that I’m going to put in place for this book! There’s just one thing left that I’m avoiding.

You’d think that the motivations of your villains would be easy, but I always leave it to the end and then over think it. The villain should be opposite in many ways to the theme and lead character in ideology, but not in a way that’s alienating. There should be something familiar about the villain, like someone you could actually know, and they should have motives that make sense, even if they are being set up in a way that implies the audience should disagree with them. Adjust how sympathetic they are based on how sympathetic the lead is.

It’s a lot easier when I have a singular person to work against the protagonist and the villain is the antagonist, but that’s not really the case for this one. The villain is just the means by which the awful things happen and where the aggression is coming from and directed at, while the actual antagonist exists more theoretically.1 And I really want to do a story with end of the world stakes, so I need this villain, though I am agonizing over just what to make out of them.

I could pants2 it, but I do love me a good plan, even if I don’t stick to it. There’s a nice security to it and knowing that I know how everything in this world works, not to mention why everything is happening, before I go in. I am a planner and a plotter at heart, no matter how much I deviate from my notes during the writing process.

In the end, the villain takes on a life of its own while I’m writing and becomes much less of a list of traits and things to represent. The motives shift and change to make more sense in the context of the story, or the villain changes to someone else entirely who makes more sense with how the story actually ended up.

  1. It’s a Woman vs Self story in the end with an antagonist to give the whole thing a bit more direction []
  2. Pants: Making it up as you go []

Books as Babies

It’s something I have heard a lot of times before. “My book is my baby.” Some people disagree with this statement. I am one of them. Still, I am willing to figure out a way to make this analogy work.1

The initial idea for a book is like a baby. It’s new and just sprang out of nowhere2 into your lap. It has so much potential and you have no idea what it’s going to become, but it’s yours and you are going to try your hardest to do right by this little adorable thing that you have created. It will be fun to raise and to figure out how to make it into something you can be proud of. You know you can nurture it just right. You might even make a complicated plan to make sure of it.

Childhood is the first draft. You get to play and have fun with your little idea and watch it grow in unexpected ways. All those carefully laid plans you made during infancy are being put to the test as it takes on a life of its own. You talk about it with other parents3 and sometimes go on related blogs and forums when you’re having trouble, but all in all you are still happy with and proud of your little creation. And when it finally graduates elementary school, you take a look back and realize maybe you shouldn’t have had quite so much fun and let it go off wandering quite so often.

And then the teenage years hit with the rewrite.4 At first it seems fine. It’s not so bad. And then you realize that some of the things your poor little idea is doing makes no sense. It doesn’t realize what the implication of its actions are. You start arguing, trying to straighten out as many of these bad habits that it’s developed as you can. Your book resists, of course. But that shirt looks great on me, look how nicely it’s written! That character totally has a place – you always need a musician! You just don’t understand how to use a comma splice anymore, author.

Somehow, your book has graduated and gotten into a nice school where it will live on the campus. This is where your editor(s) come in. You get a break away from your demon creation while someone else helps smooth out the rough edges, you just having to deal with it on breaks, though it seems that the breaks are too long and the time away is too short. You still love the thing, but these new ideas it brings back can be hard to get your head around. You work with it as best you can and try to be supportive. You’re getting tired and really want to see it on its own two feet. You are enjoying the quiet that comes with it no longer being in your hands.

And then it comes back from college, diploma in hand, and you realize just how much you missed it. It’s all done, ready to go. Or so you think. It makes a home in the basement. It doesn’t want to go out and do something with that degree. Do you know how hard it is out there? It could just stay home and play video games and have you take care of it for the rest of its life. It never has to come out again.

That’s when you have to get tough. You pick up your book, you go over every possible thing it could still do and you force it to go out and get a job. You have taken care of it for long enough. You raised it from when it was a little idea and you are proud of it. You do love it. And you know it can do it. It just has to do it somewhere other than your house because it is time, dammit.

On a related note, I’m kicking White Noise out of the house on Saturday. He needs to get a damn job.


White Noise (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Tanya Lisle

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
Release date October 22, 2014.
  1. Mostly because I am in desperate need of a break from editing. []
  2. We’re going the immaculate conception route on this analogy []
  3. Writers []
  4. Skipping middle school because I have never been and cannot speak for what is surely an awful experience []

Editing Burnout

So after the last update, I do what I usually do when I try to promise a vlogging schedule. I dove head first into work and completely forgot that vlogging is a thing.

Since then, I’ve completely rewritten two books: The Jabberwocky’s Book1 and White Noise. Jabberwocky’s Book is now completely done and ready to go for Jukepop for December, with White Noise on the last couple edits before it will also be ready for whatever I plan to do with it.

And I am exhausted. As many of you know, rewriting is a lot harder than writing. Editing is harder than rewriting. Working on two books at the same time doing these things has been the opposite of a good idea, as it turns out. I thought I’d cut down on the time, since I could work on the rewrite or edit of one while my editor took a look at the draft and then it could just be swapped back and forth. There would always be something to do, which is great!

Except it really isn’t. Writing with the intent to be good at writing takes a lot more out of you than writing to tell a story. Add in the fact that there is no down time while you wait for the other person2 and the fact that White Noise is both heavier and in need of more work and it’s left both of us not wanting to look at anything after this is done for a while.

I thought I could do this. No problem. I’ve been doing so well this year getting things done and being generally far too productive for my own good in getting things written and done. I figured two more would be fine. I’ve been writing while my editor had my stuff. It was just editing two novels at once and it wouldn’t be that bad.

This is never happening again if I can help it because I am not going to be able to bring myself to edit anything for a few months after this. I don’t even want to think about thematic appropriateness and whether characters belong in this scene and whether this even follows character motivations or rules of the universe anymore. I need a break and some fun writing again. I think my editor just needs a break, period.

White Noise is almost done, and when it is I am going to sleep until November. Because in November, Nanowrimo happens and I’ll have new things to edit by the end of it.

  1. The next in the Looking Glass Saga []
  2. I know my editor’s a little burnt out from all this too, so it goes both ways []

Trying out Patreon

I know a lot of people doing the Patreon thing lately and it just got too tempting to go without at least giving it a shot. It seems like just the motivation I’ll need to get everything moving and finished at last instead of just staring at these projects and leaving them in various states of almost completion.

So explaining things.

What is Patreon and why am I using it?

Patreon is a site for folks like me who make creative projects and the fans who want to support those creative projects. It’s a bit like Kickstarter, except that it’s ongoing. You’d donate per book once it comes out and still get access to whatever bonus content that I put up. You’d also get rewards based on donation amount, much like Kickstarter.

I plan to use it to fund novels that I’ve written and really need to get on editing. The promise that there will be people who want to read them when they’re done is enough to get me focused on finishing existing ones instead of starting yet another new one. Not only that, but the tiers would give people a chance to have a little control over what’s to come – whether that’s which book I work on next or the names of a couple characters.

After trying out Jukepop Serials, I’ve pretty much decided that I like serialized fiction but want to do a true serial instead of just a novel released slowly. One of the projects listed on there is a serial where I’d release each episode free and collect the book once it’s done.

Then there’s the book I’m actually releasing on Jukepop and the whole series that comes after Return to Wonderland. And all the novels I’ve written for Nanowrimo that I need to edit. And the novels that I have plans to write but haven’t actually gotten around to writing yet.

If you want to give me a hand with all of this be sure to check me out on Patreon.

I;m going to leave the page up for a week to see if I get any patrons. If anyone ends up being interested, I’ll keep going with it. I kind of hope it works out, though. It seems like it would be a fun way to get all these books written.