Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: City of Dark Magic

Why did I pick it up?

It was one of those books I got from the Box Sale from the Book Depot. I paid $35+tax for it and around 45-49 other books, so yeah. The cover was intriguing and so was the premise so I decided why not? The author's name was also pretty cool too. I mean who can go wrong with a name like Magnus?

The Review of City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte:

The premise of the book is good. Music student is invited by her professor to help with categorizing one of her favorite composure's pieces for a private museum of an important rich families' belongings. Professor commits suicide before said student can leave but she ends up going anyway despite meeting an odd dwarf. No, seriously.

There's also romance thrown in, well, not so much romance, but yes, romance. Anyway, the main character is a sort of free thinker when it comes to men which is totally fine. She also has an impeccable, wait, no, above average sense of smell which she uses to decide whether or not to sleep with a guy. Okay, I can handle that.

She also has an unusually sharp ear because she can hear things/scores/whatever in music most people don't pick up on. Oh. Okay.

Oh, and she's pretty and most guys are willing to do whatever for her because she's so pretty. I mean the 'prince' and only heir of the rich family she's working for immediately falls for her even though she's a student and has no cash. Oh. Um...

And she's musically talented, instrument wise. If I remember correctly she plays piano as well as violin. Um...

Did I mention she's brilliant and has an impeccable memory when it comes to history and music? Oh, well that too.

Then she's living with this super hot male Italian roommate who totally doesn't mind cooking for or getting her alcoholic drinks but she's not sleeping with him because he doesn't have the right smell or something...yeah. Okay, that's. Urg.

Suffice to say: I did not connect nor care about the main character in any way. There was the hint of some kind of horrible past, something to do with her father but I can't remember right now to be honest. The books is also trying to be a triple threat and covering romance, fantasy (there's some rumors about a Hell portal and the dwarf I mentioned isn't a normal person), and mystery since you know, the professor wouldn't have offed himself. Which he didn't. There was a whole big explanation that spanned the whole book, which is the point of a mystery, so, great.

But then we add the 11 year old blind piano prodigy our main has been tutoring because you know, she needs a cool job, oh and the ex-ballerina who bails our main lead out once or twice and has some kind of weird connection with the governor who for some reason wants...

Yeah. There was A LOT going on and having a main character with two exceptional senses, the ability to play duel instruments, being gorgeous, and brilliant on top of all that? Mm, I finished it because I rarely drop a book.

I didn't connect with anyone and the only character I gave a crud about was the dwarf because he sounded interesting. The premise was great though and the actual plot concept wasn't bad. I would've ditched the child prodigy though and the ballerina.

Would I read it again?

Nope. I'm not even tempted to pick up the sequel because I don't really care if the main character and her prince (literally mind you) find the Golden Fleece. Yeah, there's that whole plot line too...

The Negatives:

The main character was too talented. She's musically gifted in two instruments, can memorize and read music and history in her sleep, has an incredible sense of smell and hearing to the point she can sense things others can't, is pretty, and brilliant. Then she falls in love/lust with a prince who falls in love/lust with her. Oh, he also pretty much hands her the job of her dreams.

Besides the main character: there was A LOT going on. The dwarf and governor could have had their own stories completely separate from Ms. Sue and they would have been interesting on their own. Heck, the whole plot line about looking for the Golden Fleece could have carried the book alone without the governor's story or the dwarf's...or the ballerina...or the blind child prodigy.

The bad guys didn't have any redeeming features and I'm all for the bad guy being truly evil but not when your main character is so damned perfect.

Final review: 2/5 I read this while waiting for my laundry. Yeah.

Until next time: comments, questions, rants and rage can be directed to the comments.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2014 Novel Series #15: Mists of Time Book 2: Seeking

Book two I wrote during National Novel Writing Month. The main focus of Book 1 was Blair's personal life, discovering who Blair is as a person and xe discovering xe has magic. Book 1 is all about Blair starting a new life. Book 2 is about Blair learning how to deal with the repercussions of being the only earthling with magic as well as figuring out how to deal with other people finding out about xer magic. Book 1 was basically a taste of the Mists. Book 2 is all about the Mists. ONWARDS!

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 91,060

Prompt: Continuation of Mists of Time Book 1: Discovery in which they find out who the bad guy really is.

Main Characters: Blair, Tim, Tenkondin, Tim, and Dyns

Minor Characters of note: Natalie, Katie, Orrell, Hanrel, Meryl, Alaya, Xias, Ova, and The Mist Watcher

Summation: They find out who the bad guy is and crap hits the fan in a horrible way.

High Points: Tenkondin. He's freaking hilarious.

Low Points: The ending.

The World: Ours but with magic. Oh and the Mists.

Memorable Lines:

"So you've decided to dress male today?" Hanrel asked.
"And you've decided to keep being a bitch." Blair returned.

"If you make the wrong choice in the next year you will be the one who brings about the destruction of the universe." (Person who can see the future to...Blair. Mwahaha)

"A crack, as in a break?" Xias questioned.
"That's the definition of crack, actually in Blair's world it's some kind of illegal drug too, but yeah, break." Tenkondin said.

"You fainted." Dyns said.
"Thank you Mr. Obvious." Tenkondin said.
"It was the magical output from the Mist Watcher. Blair will be fine, I'm certain." Xias said.

"By the way, your ass looks really good in those pants. Can I play with it?" Tenkondin asked.
"No, you can't play with my ass." Blair said.
"What if I buy you food first?" Tenkondin asked.
"Tenkondin, be serious for once," Dyns said. "Blair isn't interested and I doubt he ever will be. Besides, we have more important situations to deal with than trying to get into Blair's pants."
"But I wanna hit it." Tenkondin said.
"And I want to hit you with a really big rock." Blair said.

"We can't do nothing but train and keep an eye out." Dyns said.
"Good thing you've got three." Tenkondin remarked. (Dyns does have three eyes...haha)

"You, gah, hey! Stop touching my ass!"
It made Dyns laugh again and Blair grinned. Tenkondin rubbed him so Blair stabbed him with a knife. Tenkondin made a weird choking sound in his throat then chuckled.
"Kinky." (Yeah, Tenkondin's basically a large green slime monster with tentacles who can't be killed by melee weapons, or explosions, falling from great heights...you get the idea)

"I need new clothes, you know? And I'm not going to let a little thing like society's perspective of what a woman should look like hold me back. I'm going to look good and be curvy." Katie said. (You go girl. :) )

"Katie's just, well; she doesn't so much care about personal hygiene when there's a new mystery to be solved. And what bigger mystery is there than a tentacle creature popping into your best friend's living room through a rip in time?"

"Do you know why you don't see many Usglerthians (what Tenkondin is) in the Mists?"
Tenkondin probably meant the question to be rhetorical but Dyns opened his mouth to answer. Tenkondin whapped a tentacle over Dyns' mouth and Dyns blinked in wonder. (That's one way to get someone to shut up.)

"Aw, Dyns, why do all the curvy girls have boyfriends?"
"Because Tenkondin, life is unfair to perverts like you."

"Closed minded town, two guys kissing: duh."
"I'll never get that. Who cares who loves who? As long as no one's shoving it down my throat and by it I mean everything from religion to sexuality then I'm fine. Tim wanting to be with Blair and Blair being bi-gender isn't bothering me so whatever."

"Did you forget what I told you when we first met? I said: "If you make the wrong choice in the next year you will be the one who brings about the destruction of the universe." It's still true you know." Alaya said. (She's an Ala'gan from another planet. Ala'gan are seers of the future, healers, and wind elementals.)
"What choice?" Blair asked.
Alaya shrugged.
"I don't know."
Blair blinked.
"What do you mean you don't know? I thought,"
"Ala'gan can't predict the future with any kind of accuracy," Alaya began. "We see snippets of things and sometimes we don't even know who or what the thing belongs to until we see the person. We can't control it and sometimes we don't even remember what we've seen until we see the person our vision was meant for. I can't tell you who's going to die or when you're going to have to make this all important decision. All I know is that something you're going to decide on sometime this year will either destroy or save the universe."

"Great. Can we find somewhere to sleep?" (Blair's heard a bunch of horrible things and dealt with trying to fight a bunch of Mist Beasts alone at once)
"You mean together?" Tenkondin asked. (Ha, always the pervert)

"Don't ever leave me, okay? I mean, I don't think I could handle it if you were just gone and I know I sound clingy and," Blair began.
Tim kissed him and Blair shut up. Tim pulled back from the kiss after a moment but held Blair tightly.
"You don't sound clingy. If I don't get to leave then you don't get to leave either, okay?" Tim asked.
Blair blinked then pulled back. Tim was smiling. Blair smirked.

"Was that some kind of double proposal thing?" Blair asked.
"Hey, I've still got the ring,"
"Ah, nope. Too cliché."

"There isn't a magical sentence you can say so she'll instantly understand. It will take time."
"Good thing I can freeze it."

"We need to find a small cave or something."
"Okay. Would if answer if we called?"
"How long was I out?"
"I'm not sure. Your watch is broken." (GUYS! You're in the middle of some world you don't know with no supplies and beasts that want to kill you near by. One of you has a broken arm. YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE CRACKING JOKES!)

"You've been missing for two weeks."
"Oh hey look, we're found. My arm hurts and we're starving and tired and holy shit I think I'm going to fall over."

"Of course it's on the top shelf. I swear the other healers think they're pulling pranks on us Ala'gan by putting everything so high. Come get this." Alaya (who's 4'6") said.
Blair strode deeper into the room and reached for the jar. Alaya swatted him and he huffed.
"The one to the right, yes, that one."
Blair brought the jar down but Alaya took it from him. She spun open the cap, dabbed her finger in the thick blue-tinged cream then licked her finger. Blair stared at her as she nodded, screwed the cap back on, and offered the jar to him. (In the jar is a cream to help scarring, btw. It's not meant to be food.)

"Blair, I, okay. Give me a few more minutes to freak out."
"Sure, you can even run around in circles if you want."

"It's your job to protect,"
"The Mists, not your planet or any other planet."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We Are All People

I mentioned sometime last year (Nov 21, 2014...I checked my Tweets) I would eventually write a blog post that gives a bit of insight as to why I write some of the characters I write. More specifically: "One day I will explain why I support LGBTQ folks and why I have so many characters who are LGBTQ. It will be a blog because 140 characters (on Twitter) isn't long enough." Oh hey, this is the day.

For those who are new here or don't pay a lot of attention to my Twitter/this blog or for those who don't check out the novel series tab to see what the heck I do: I write A LOT. In most of my novels I have a non-cis or non-binary character. Only two novels in the 42 (as of Jan 2015) I've written DO NOT include someone from the LGBTQ community. This means the other 40 novels have a character who is in said community.

Who are these characters? I made a list:
  • Xeros, Drake, Zahnee, Zanrah, Denxen, Kien, Adara, Vesgha, Ekard, from Cara: attracted to the same gender.
  • Raven, Havoc, Gold: Bonehemmer Princess and Harmonizer: attracted to the same gender
  • Shawn, Ice, Derrick, Ray: Seer and Seeker: attracted to the same gender
  • Jayden/Jordan: Changed: transgender
  • Andre, Gary: Chosen Ones of the Forbidden Object: attracted to the same gender
  • Star Von Vette, Jammer: Model: attracted to the same gender, Star is also considered "androgynous" and dresses in women's clothing even though he's a he. No, Star is not transgender and does not wish to become a female. He likes being male and likes dressing as a woman all of the time.
  • Glitch, Dylan: Lies: Glitch is a gay cyborg and Dylan's an ambiromantic asexual
  • Archard, Noam: Warriors Eight: attracted to the same gender
  • David: Protectors: Attracted to the same gender
  • Drew: Testing Grounds: attracted to same gender and cross-dresses
  • Samuel, Greg: Glory Hole Series: married to each other
  • Rowan: Burnt: the Story of the Fire King: male to female transgender who transitions as a point of view character over the course of the novel.
  • Lucy McGregor, Anne, various minor characters: Thriller/Mystery Series: attracted to the same gender, female to male transgender (minor character of note), cross-dressers, and various others.
  • Blair, Tim: Mists of Time Series: Blair is bi-gender and Tim is bi-sexual.
  • Angelus: Tale of the Twins Trilogy: attracted to the same gender
  • Kiyvn and Derke: Trees of Life: attracted to the same gender
  • Garrick: Heroes Dilemma: attracted to the same gender
This list doesn't include the various short stories or any of the novels I have planned in which a character's gender identification or sexuality isn't known yet. Now. Why do I write so many characters who are part of a non-binary or non-cis sexuality or gender?

The simple answer? I am under the firm belief everyone who is alive today no matter what their identity, race, color, etc deserves to be represented in fiction.

The complicated answer? There aren't enough works of fiction (RE: novels) featuring LGBTQ or even People of Color as characters in a predominate, meaningful role other than the token gay/black/lesbian/PC character. See all those characters listed above? Without them there would be no story. They each have an important role to play and in most of the stories they are the main character.

Why? Because everyone deserves to be represented and it bothers the HELL out of me when a character is included in a novel, in a minor role that serves no purpose, and the author makes a big deal about them being gay or lesbian or whatever because "O-M-G, I'M BEING INCLUSIVE!" It bugs the HELL out of me a popular author didn't mention the sexuality of a popular, well-loved character until SOMEONE ASKED and the books were over and done with.

I'm not saying you have to scream your character's sexuality/gender preferences from the mountain tops but there should be obvious clues as to who/what the character prefers or doesn't. And yes, we do need more LGBTQ main characters so issues like the Leelah Alcorn case don't happen again.

If people understand what certain groups go through for simply being themselves then maybe there wouldn't be so much hatred in this world. Maybe if there were more authors willing to write about a real, normal (whatever that means) transgender woman (or gay person, or black person, or any other "non-normal" person) in fiction there wouldn't be so many transgender (etc) suicides going on and perhaps there would be a little more tolerance in the world.

I'm not saying you have to be best friends with everyone and everything can be all kittens, puppies, and rainbows. I am saying everyone deserves the same level of respect no matter what their skin color, gender, sexuality, religion, or what have you.

In order to get to some semblance of respect people have to see that no matter what a person's skin color, gender, or sexuality is the person is STILL A PERSON. They have the same wants, needs, and feelings as everyone else and they deserve to be represented and respected like everyone else.

Maybe I'm being optimistic but I think if I represent everyone as well as I can in my novels and people see these "non-normal" people as normal then maybe, just maybe, I can change someone's mind. Maybe I can bring a little more acceptance into the world. Maybe I can make a difference.

So, why do I have so many LGBTQ characters? Because everyone deserves a little love, respect, and acceptance.

Until next time: rants, rage, out-right insults, comments, questions and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Writing Tips #4: Point of View

When writing a novel one has to think about dialogue, whether or not to use contractions, showing vs. telling, and yes: point of view.

Point of view is essentially the perspective from which your novel is told. Because the English language is sometimes convenient: first, second, and third Point of View is entirely dependant on which personal pronouns you're using: first, second or third. For any non-writer or newbie writer reading this, Point of View is often abbreviated to PoV, in case you're wondering. Now? Onwards.

First Person PoV:

Pronouns used: I, we, me, my, mine, us, our, and ours.

Example: I saw the sun beginning to rise over the hills and knew it was time for my clan to wake. We woke early as we needed to hunt early. If we waited for the sun to fully rise before hunting then we would become the hunted.

Seen in: Young Adult novels, mainly. There are some adult novels written in first person PoV (Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray come to mind) but most of the time, first person PoV is reserved for young adult novels or pre-teen novels.

Pros and cons: It directly links you to the main character. Unfortunately, that's the ONLY link you have to the story. So, no other characters can comment, you don't get other people's thoughts, and you don't really know for sure if what this character is telling you is 100% true. Of course it leads lots of interesting plot twists open because if your main character doesn't see it then neither will your reader.

But, if your ONLY narrator is unlikeable then you're going to get a lot of annoyed readers. So if you're going to use first person PoV, you have to be especially careful your only PoV character is likeable or someone out there is going to start rooting for the bad guy.

Second Person PoV:

Pronouns used: you, your, yours.

Example: You saw the sun beginning to rise over the hills and knew it was time for your clan to wake. The clan woke early as you needed to hunt early. If you waited for the sun to fully rise before hunting then you would become the hunted.

Seen in: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney...and I had to go Google a novel for second person PoV.

Pros and cons: The 'you' will always imply the reader is the main character. It's not about making the reader connect, it's about making the reader think they are the character. It's a whole other level of imagination that sometimes is pretty cool. The reader is not hearing the story in this sense, THEY ARE the story.

Writing in second person PoV isn't as hard as one would think. It's essentially writing in first person but changing the "I" to "you" with some tweaks here and there. Is it worth it? Well, there aren't many novels written in second person PoV. That tells us one of two things: no one wants to read them OR everyone's too afraid to write them.

Third Person PoV:

Pronouns used: character's name, he, she, it, him, her, his, hers, its, they, them, their(s)

Example: Hannah watched as the sun began to rise over the hills and she knew it was time for her clan to wake. They woke early as the clan needed to hunt early. Hannah knew if they waited for the sun to fully rise then they would become the hunted.

Seen in: Basically everything. Third person PoV is the most common PoVs as it's essentially "God Mode."

Pros and Cons: There are two types of third person PoV: God Mode (omniscient) and Singular (Limited). God Mode means jumping from character to character like G.R.R Martin in his Song of Ice and Fire series. Singular third person PoV means sticking to ONE character's PoV like in Harry Potter.

God Mode: Seeing into every character's thoughts when necessary at any given time and knowing things before certain characters. It means you can find your own person to connect with, you can hate other characters, and laugh/yell/gasp/ect when a character misses something obvious. It also means you can form your own opinions on who's good or bad and what the story's message is.

Singular: like first person PoV: you only get ONE characters thoughts/feelings/ect. So if your main character is separated from his friends you have NO IDEA what his friends are doing until the main character reunites with them. So it's all the pros and cons of first person but you're out of the character's head.

Which PoV do I use?

Whatever PoV will best tell your story. Do you want to keep every plot twist unknown to the reader until it happens? Use first person or third person limited. Do you want your reader to know things your main characters might not? Third person God Mode. Do you want your reader to be the main character? Second person.

Choosing a PoV depends entirely on the message you want to get across to your reader and how you want your story to be told. Most of the time I use third person and it's normally God Mode. The Mists of Time trilogy was limited to Blair's PoV. Anything xe didn't know/see, the reader didn't know/see which makes for some fun times.

On the other hand, a series like the thriller/mystery series wouldn't have worked so well in third person limited. Why? Each of the MC's jobs are unique to the MCs and cutting out one persons perspective takes something away from the story.

Third person is generally the easiest PoV to write. It gives you the most freedom and allows your reader the best chance to form a lasting relationship with multiple characters and to form opinions on the story itself rather than the narrator of said story.

Can I switch PoV?

Well you could but it's not advised. If you go from "I saw this happen" to "she saw this happen" in one novel it could throw your reader for a loop and the last thing you want to do is confuse your reader. If you confuse the reader then the reader will stop reading and no one wants that. The only time it's okay to switch your PoV is if you kill off your main narrator in either first person PoV or third person limited PoV.

How often can I switch perspectives in third person God Mode?

There is no numerical answer to this. It depends entirely on your novel and which of your main characters would tell whatever part of the story the best. How did I know to switch between James, Mia, Lucy, Michael, and Sable in the thriller/mystery series? I tried to keep it even, for one, or close to. They each had their say in every novel when they needed to. I also tried to keep each character's scene focused on their talents: James for interviews, Mia for chases, Lucy for forensics, Michael for finding people, and Sable for dissections.

Of course they over-lapped sometimes and because of the nature of the novel Lucy's forensic information was basically described in James' scenes or the reverse. They were part of a bigger unit that had to keep other parts informed after all.

I did give it a lot of thought in later novels mainly because of how I wanted these grisly murders to be seen and, more importantly: I wanted the reader to see how my MCs were growing over the course of the series.

Give everyone a chance to speak if they need to speak. If a character only has one scene in their PoV then really think about that character as a main. Are they going to become important in later novels or can you change the perspective of the scene to another character without changing the meaning/dynamics of the scene? If you answer yes to the first: keep it the way it is. Answer yes to the second? Well, that so-called Main character is not someone who needs a perspective.

Again, PoV is all about finding your voice and what works for your novel. It takes a lot of practice to know innately which PoV will work for each story and when you can switch it up in God Mode.

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Novel Series #14: Mists of Time Book 1: Discovery

This was the first book I wrote during this year's National Novel Writing Month. I didn't set out to start and finish the series and was four chapters short of doing it in November. I know, I'm nuts.

Mists of Time is a trilogy focusing on Blair who, when xe turns 18, discovers xe is a super-hero of sorts who will eventually have to learn to control xer magic so xe can save the world. If you've been paying any sort of attention to the pronouns I've been using you'll notice I'm not using a specific pronoun for Blair. Why? Blair is bi-gender. Sometimes Blair will feel female and dress/act accordingly and sometimes Blair will feel male so will dress/act accordingly. Blair is physically male.

Is this a main focus in the series? Kind of. Blair is from a small city near the bible belt where anything LGBTQ is not looked kindly upon. The series is a coming of age type with a bit of magic and saving the world themes thrown in. Blair knows who xe is as a person but grows more into "both" halves of who xe is: male and female. Xe also has to deal with the fact xer parents hate Blair's bi-gender identification, the fact xe thinks xe's going insane, and a whole slew of other problems which if I got into would reveal too much.

There are crazy monsters who become Blair's friends and of course there's death, destruction, and mayhem. Mwahaha. ONWARDS!

Genre: Urban fantasy

Word Count: 91,846 which is the longest piece of fiction I've written since Zombies. Kind of short for urban fantasy...I think.

Prompt: People fighting beasts in an alternate dimension only special people can see. Oh and they can control time. Oh and the main's androgynous. Oh and...this is taken straight from my original notes. Ha. Where it came from? I think it was a dream but I can't remember.

Main Characters: Blair, Dyns, Tenkondin, and Tim. Guess which two are from earth? ;)

Minor Characters of note: Katie, Natalie, Dr. Clay Orrell, Ron, Jason, Rob, and Hanrel.

Summation: So Blair turns 18 and starts thinking xe's going crazy because xe's seeing shadows no one else can. Blair learns the shadow person is actually xer tutor from the Mists who is trying to bring xer into the Mists so xe can learn how to save the world.

High Points: Tim and Tenkondin. Not together.

Low Points: Blair's parents, and this one scene where Blair is confused about xer gender which is a huge thing as xe's never been confused before. Xe's always known when xe wakes up or goes to bed what gender xe is.

The World: Ours, mainly, but with maaaggggiiiiiicccccc. ;)

Memorable Lines:

"Daddy, is the checker (Blair) a boy or a girl?"
Blair felt his smile twitch but kept it in place. The little boy had meant to be quiet but kids didn't understand the concept of whispering. At least the dad looked embarrassed. The mother looked horrified. The younger kid looked as curious as his older brother.
"Buddy, that's not nice to ask." the father said.
"But I can't tell." The kid said.
"I'm a boy." Blair broke in.
"If you're really a boy why's your hair so long?" the little boy asked.
"Because I like it." Blair returned.
The little boy frowned but Blair kept doing his job. The little boy looked up to his father who was giving him a look and shaking his head.
"Are you gunna donate it?" the little boy questioned.
"Yeah, eventually." Blair said.
It was a lie but Blair didn't want to keep answering questions about why he looked the way he did. At least he didn't feel feminine today and wear make-up. That would have been crap.
(Later in the day, at the bank to a guy who cut in line):
"Listen lady, I've got things to do,"
"First: we all do. Second: I'm not a lady."

"Natalie destroyed one of my shirts." Blair said.
Mom sighed and Blair turned to see her holding her reading glasses in one hand. Blair turned to face their dresser and put the last of mom's clothes on her side of the dresser.
"She doesn't have the money to repay you." Mom said.
"You could take half of her allowance this week and give it to me." Blair said (Note: Blair doesn't get an allowance and has been made to work since 14. Natalie, who's 16 doesn't have to work and gets an allowance)
"That wouldn't be fair."
"Why not? She took something of mine without asking, destroyed it, and now she's not going to be repaying me for it? On what world is that fair?"
Mom sighed again and Blair turned to face her.
"It was one of your girl's shirts wasn't it?" Mom asked.
Blair kept back the eye roll and ran a hand through his hair. He hadn't even brushed it again and it was tangled as all hell, he could feel it. He still had to return the laundry basket and clean his room (because of Natalie) before he could worry about his hair.
"It was. Listen, I know you don't like me dressing in girly clothes sometimes but it's not fair she gets to use and destroy my stuff without asking when I can't even borrow her toothpaste without her hissy-fitting." Blair said.
"No, it's not fair but your father isn't going to want to replace something from that half of your closet." Mom said.
Blair knew it all ready but hearing it made it worse. Blair shook his head and grabbed the laundry basket from off the floor.
"I don't like replacing it either."
"I mean it, brat. Stop taking my stuff or I'm going to start taking yours." Blair said.
"Then I'll go to mom and dad and they'll ground you." Natalie told him.
Blair snorted and shook his head. Natalie's forehead crinkled while she tried to figure out what was wrong with her sentence.
"Oh yeah, I'm so scared of being grounded. I don't have a life outside of working and cleaning up after the rest of you. What's dad going to do? Tell me I can't go out until 9PM anymore? I don't do that anyway. You can't threaten me but there are lots of things I can do to make your life miserable. So again: stop taking my shit."

"I'm not changing. This is who I am, okay?" Blair said.
"No, it's not okay. You're a boy and you should act like one." Dad said.
Blair bit her lip to keep from crying and blinked away tears. Today she wasn't a boy. She was a girl in mind and looks. Maybe in a few hours, a day, or a week she'd feel like a boy again but not right now.

"I found this site where transgender people like you," Natalie said.
"I'm not transgender." Blair interrupted.

"But you dress like a girl." Natalie said.
"I know but I don't want to be a girl, not permanently. I'm male-female bi-gender. It means some days when I wake up I feel like a girl on the inside. I want to wear skirts and make up and talk about cute boys while shopping for clothes. Other days when I wake up I want to sit around and scratch myself all day. I mean, I know there are guys out there who feel like guys and like cross-dressing but I'm not just a cross dresser. I am a girl when I feel like one. I'm not a guy and it's weird to know I still have guy parts when I'm like this. That doesn't mean I want to get surgery and take hormones to be a girl all the time because even if I change my body to be a girl I'd still feel like a guy sometimes and be a guy."

"I do love you, you know. I only push so hard because I want you to understand you can't keep playing dress-up." Dad said.
"I'm not playing dress-up and I'm done being your slave." Blair said.

"Keep the keys." Mom said.
"Why?" Blair asked. (She's moving out)
"Because you're still our son.
"Well right now I'm your other daughter and until you can accept that I don't want the keys." Blair said.
"If you walk out that door Friday then don't expect to be able to walk back in until you've grown out of this phase." Father said.
"Then don't expect me to ever walk through that door again after I leave Friday."

"Are you comfortable in your body?"
"Mostly. I don't like having to shave my face and chest when I feel like a woman, like today, but I'm okay with my penis. I can hide it with underwear and I can give myself a fake chest with a special bra. That's enough. Besides, if I had a sex change then I'd feel uncomfortable with my breasts when I felt like a guy. There is no perfect body for me."

"Seriously, what the fuck did you do?" Blair asked.
"I stopped time. God, I thought I was the last one on earth..." (hehe)

"How's Dylan?" Blair asked (Katie, his BFF about her BF)
"I'm surprised boy you asked. You are a boy today, right?" Katie replied.
"Yep. I'm a boy dating a boy today. The fun thing is sometimes I'm a girl dating a boy."
"It is a fun thing and don't you forget it," Katie said.
"I mean it, Blair. It is a fun thing and you should be who you want to be when you want to be."

Dyns when Blair asks if he can stop time to save someone: "If someone is supposed to die, we have to let them die no matter how much we care about that person."
"What happens if I do it anyway?" Blair asked.
Dyns scowled.
"For every second of time you stop on earth you lose a bit of your magic. Eventually, you'll run out and you won't be able to protect yourself as well in the Mists. It'll take you longer to get back and forth and you'll struggle with creating beasts and weapons. Think of your magic like a jar filled with sand. Every time you use your magic outside of the Mists the jar tips and you lose a few grains of sand. Eventually the jar is empty and you have nothing. Then you die. So would it be worth your life to save the lives of others without them knowing?"

"Hi, you've reached Katie's Taxidermy. You snuff 'em, we stuff 'em. Leave a message." (no she doesn't own a taxidermy business...;) )

"Stop molesting my student." Dyns said.
"But she's so cute!" Tenkondin said with a smile.
"You're frightening her." Dyns said.
Tenkondin pouted then turned back to Blair with a grin. Blair wanted to run but one of Tenkondin's tentacles was rubbing against her ankle.
"Okay, let's start over. Hey baby, what's your sign?" Tenkondin asked.
"Stop." Blair said.
Dyns chuckled but Tenkondin sagged. He perked up a moment later and Blair yelped when one of his tentacles did some kind of acrobatic trick and went down the back of her skirt.
"Seriously, stop it!"
"Sorry, sorry, I really like round things and your ass, it's so, damn." Tenkondin said.
"Aw. Just a little rubbing. You know, I can vibrate. Imagine all the fun you can have with dozens of vibrating tentacles wrapped all over you." Tenkondin said.
"Don't look so shocked, baby. I can speak every language. My specialty is the language of love." (Tenkondin's a perverted tentacle monster who with a touch, can learn whatever language you know.)

"So cold!" Jason (Tim's dad) protested.
"You say the same thing every year but whine when we don't come." Ron (Tim's other dad) said.
Jason grinned.
"You know I love seeing big balls." (They're watching the ball drop in NYC)
"That's why we're married." Ron said.

"If life is easy then it's not worth living."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Why did I pick it up?

So I'd been eyeing up this book in my local bookstores for about five months before actually buying it. I didn't think I'd be interested it and I'd never heard about it. But, the cover was eye catching and the concept seemed kind of cool. I finally bought the book sometime last year but never read it until I needed something to read for my (regular) doctor's appointment. I figured: eh, why not?

The Review of The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson:
The concept is simple: Allan Karlsson, 100 years old, climbs out his window and vanishes. The back of the book says something like "It's like Forrest Gump, if Gump was an explosives specialist." And you know what? It is to a point. Allan doesn't necessarily bond with anyone he meets like Gump did but that's Allan's attitude in general: what may be, may be.

The book isn't meant to be serious in any sense of the word. It's meant to be a light, funny, silly read and my GOD does it deliver. Allan is sarcastic, suspiciously brilliant, laid back, and plays everything by ear. Even with his "don't talk to me about politics" attitude he's surprisingly involved in every war and even arrested at one point by Stalin for giving the recipe for the atom bomb to the US. Yeah, think about that sentence for a minute.

Allan meets all the big players in history: Truman, Churchill, Sung, Einstein, and other political generals, military sergeants and the like. He's linked to solving the atom bomb problem as well as starting/ending a few major events.

The funniest thing about the novel is every time you think Allan's about to be killed for being on the wrong side of the fence, someone he's helped from before happens to be in the room and saves his ass. The guy has 100 lives and despite never having a formal plan, he ends up living to the ripe old age of 100.

This story isn't told in the linear sense. It flips between the present day of Allan's disappearance and the past experiences of his life. Both are equally hilarious because Allan's same attitude is what gets him to accidently over-haul a crime syndicate and become a virtual millionaire in the last years of his life.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone I know. It's funny, it's got a bit of history (likely inaccurate) thrown in for fun, and both the present and past stories revolving around Allan are amazing to watch unfold.

I literally had to stop reading so I could laugh out loud, especially during the later half of the book when the present story is coming to a close and the past is catching up with the present. Allan is a great character despite his advanced age and quite accidental expertise in a variety of subjects.

The end of Allan's life (up until he went into the nursing home) was a bit sad mainly because this normally calm, whatever happens, happens character kind of loses it a bit when his first real friend/animal he cared for was killed. But, everything ends up working for Allan in the end and the book closes on a sort of cliff hanger.

Would I read The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared again?

Hell yes. I didn't want to stop reading it once I got into the story.

The Negatives?

With all of the above: you will notice a bunch of 1-star reviews on Amazon about this book. Most of them talk about Allan's problem in not connecting with anyone. I can understand this. You want a character to form meaningful relationships with people but Allan doesn't. Why? Because his parents never connected to him as a child and he lost both his parents early on in life. So, he doesn't connect to anyone else for fear of losing them. He doesn't know how to connect and was never taught. No, Allan is not a normal character and if you keep that in mind you might not be disappointed with this book.

Other people called it boring. Hi, I don't like history and found it to be the most droll class I ever had to take. There are history lessons in this book (possibly inaccurate of course) but I still enjoyed it. Was it boring? Not for me and again, I hated history class and that's basically what this book is.

I think people were taking this book too seriously. It's supposed to be a kind of parody and not serious in any sense of the word. It's not meant to have a message like Forrest Gump nor is it meant to be heart-warming (or heart-breaking). This book exists for pure comedic effect. Also, when an explosions specialist is running: try to keep up.

Final review: 5/5

Until next time: comments, questions, rants, and the like can be directed to the comments.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Writing Tips #3: Show vs Tell

Going along with dialogue and whether or not to use contractions, the other big thing (style wise) in physically writing a novel is showing vs. telling. Now I know there is A LOT of advice about showing vs. telling. There are A LOT of authors throwing around the advice of "show don't tell" and this great. Most of the time.

You see if we showed the reader every little thing, every single time we would have novels as big as one of G.R.R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Now before anyone gets in a huff, a bit of backstory: I love reading.

Ever since I learned how to read I delved into everything. At one point I had the entire Goosebumps and Babysitter's Club novels. I was at the library every three weeks (the amount of time you could check out books for) getting at least six books ON TOP of what I had to read for school. I now own well over 1000 books and have read at least 85% of them.
I've also read Song of Ice and Fire. And you know what? I had to force myself to STOP reading SoIF after an hour or two because of how much stuff was in it.

In comparison? I burned through the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, etc) in a weekend. I finished It (when I was 12) in two weeks. SoIF? Took me a month or more a book. Again, this is coming from someone who's vicariously read for about two decades.

Don't get me wrong: I like the books. I love the concepts. I like the series. Would I read them a second time? Nope. Why? Too much showing. Yes. There CAN be such a thing as too much showing, also know as too much going on, too much description, and too much of a good thing.

As much as I love Stephen King, I almost died reading the first 100 pages of Black House. We didn't see the body (literally) until page 96. PAGE NINETY-SIX. THE HELL? I almost gave up. Almost. The only reason I didn't was because it's King.

No, we don't need to know the backstory of every minor character. No we don't need to know every single detail of every single character's clothing. No we don't need to know what every character ate or who the third uncle of someone's brother was. No we don't need to know every detail of every room in the entire city/town/world.

If it's not necessary to the plot: don't include it. If you can sprinkle the backstory over a few chapters: do that and not a massive info dump. Speaking of, I stumbled across a newbie in the fantasy writing genre last year. His prologue? Ten or more pages of history. His first page of the first chapter? A description of what his main character looked like, where he was, and his family line. Did I continue reading the novel? HELL NO. Why? Too much history, too much description, just TOO MUCH.

Also, the way someone reactions in a situation might be taken differently depending on a reader's experience. An author famous for "show don't tell" says don't tell the reader a person thinks someone likes them, show it. So Jenny kicks off a locker, huffs, and walks away. Oh. So she's angry? Nope. That was meant to show she might like the other character. Yeah.

See, how I see the world and how you see the world is different. So what you might think displays affection, I might take as something else entirely. Yes, there are general body cues most people employ on instinct. I suggest picking up Body Language for Dummies to see what those cues are so you don't make someone think someone's angry when they're supposed to be showing affection.

Furthering, do I need to know exactly how a bullet is leaving the barrel of the gun and how the blood sprays precisely across fallen snow (or what have you)? Nope. Tell me a character shot another character. Don't go into a four page description of a character pulling back the trigger, the barrel pulling back, hearing the sound, his vision tunneling, watching as the bullet leaves the chamber, watching it strike the victim, seeing the guy falling and his blood spraying, the smoke coming out of the gun...you see where I'm going with this, right?

Yes, it's totally okay to enter the five senses into your scenes but not every sense, every time, and certainly not for every character. Unless you're G.R.R Martin or Stephen King your book will be dropped before you finish a scene.

Like everything else, showing vs telling is a delicate balance and it completely depends on YOU as an author. It's YOUR voice, not King or Martin's. It's YOUR story, not someone else's. So show and tell as much as you want. If YOU feel it's not enough then change it until it is. Get some friends to read it and tell you what they think about your voice.

There is no set numerical rule for how much you show and how much you tell. Again, you've got to figure it out for yourself through trial and error. Generally speaking: if you're going over 100K and aren't half way through your story? You've got too much going on in one book and you're showing way too much.

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.