Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Smoke and Bone Series

Why did I pick it up?

To be honest: I can't remember. I think it was in a three-pack, a finished series, and priced well so I grabbed it. See, I love when a series is finished, all together and ready to go like that. It means I don't have to wait a year or more for the next book thus forgetting everything that happened in prior books which generally forces me to read the prior books. I'm also impatient when it comes to knowing what happens next, so much so that I'll look for a summary somewhere so I don't have to wait.

Funny story, so I started watching The Walking Dead when it was in its second season. I got to the point where they leave Merle on the roof with his hand cuffed and a bunch of Walkers ready to break through the door. I was binge-watching and it was almost midnight, too late to see what happened to him so I turned off Netflix then went to look up what happened to him. Yes, I totally spoiled it for myself but that's okay. I'm one of those weird people who doesn't care about spoilers. You can tell me the ending of any movie I haven't seen or book I haven't read and I'll still watch or read it.

Anyway, I started this series right after finishing Harry Potter so...March-ish and finished it in a week. Yes, three books in one week. They were that good. ONWARDS!

The Review of The Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor:

Normally I don't do a full post on a series but I kind of got really into this series and completely forgot to do a review after each book then started reading another series and here we are. Oops?

Anyway, our story follows Karou who's an art student in Prague. At first I had no idea what was going on and I remember being annoyed that this girl had such a blasé attitude about being strange. Then she started explaining how things she wished for came true...like her naturally blue hair. Then she met up with Brimstone. Well okay. AWESOME.

I mean that seriously. Suddenly we're thrown into a world where angels are trying to destroy demons and Karou has no freaking clue why or what's going on. She does see all the portals to Brimstone's world destroyed and the first book ends with Brimstone's death. Karou falls in love with one of the angels and it turns out the reason she has these eye tattoos on her hands (that hurt the angels no less) is because this is her second body. Yeah, you read that right. Her second body.

Originally she was a "demon" (chimera) who had been killed for loving that same angel and wanting to change the world. Brimstone managed to save her soul, make her body (a completely human one) and re-birth her, making up a complete lie of a life in an attempt to save her. Well see, NOW I'm really invested.

I believe this is where we moved into the second book. Again, I read them exceptionally quickly so my memory could be a little hazy. Turns out the angels are still killing the chimera but now that Karou's finally figured out who she is, she takes over for Brimstone's job: being the chimera resurrectionalist. Yes that's right, it's become Karou's job to bring the chimera who've fallen in battle back to life.

There's a whole bunch of awesome political stuff going on with the White Wolf and the leader of the angels, then we find out what the angels really are, and some more cool things happen. I don't want to get into too many details as it'll ruin the books.

These books were amazing. It's rare a book can capture me so effortlessly I can't put it down. This did it, all three of them and I wanted to stay up until I'd read them all. I do have to say I was weary about the story being set in Prague because of another book I read I ended up not liking. And being honest, this story would have survived if not set in Prague. Yeah, okay, Prague has this whole mystery thing going on around it with magic, etc, but I think the story would have had as much impact if it happened in any other city in the world.

Regardless, the story was great. I loved Karou and Zazuna. I was upset when we found out Brimstone was dead. Seriously I almost cried because he was an awesome character and finding out about the real him and Karou was great. Right after that: bam, he's dead. Urg. Overall: I was and still am impressed with the trilogy.

Would I read the Smoke and Bone Series again?

Hell to the yes. Over one weekend. Again. Because I'm cool like that.

The Negatives:

I can't find any negatives in this series. Like I said, the only thing that miffed me was it being in Prague. The other was how we were introduced to Karou and her strange ways. Kind of like, thrown into her oddness without really knowing how or why she was so odd. I almost didn't make it past the second chapter but held on and I'm glad I did.



Now, some of the negatives I am seeing is the fact Karou is a reincarnation of someone else. I think what people aren't getting is that this is kinda, sorta, integral to the plot of the entire series. There would be no book if that "someone else" didn't die and Karou didn't come about. And really: exact same soul with all old life experiences in new body with new life experiences. Not so much a reincarnation: an upgrade if you will. Karou is both this other person and herself.

The romance: Karou falling for Akiva totally and completely. Yes but then she leaves him at the end is entirely pissed at him for everything and yeah, eventually they get back together, yadda, yadda, but not until after they force separation on themselves and all the other fun stuff. Again: Angel falls in love with demon so yes it's kind of important the two have the whole "love at first sight" thing going on. And remember, Karou's soul remembers who Akiva was to her before she was killed. So yes. There is going to be an instant bond.

What I find really funny? How one person hated Karou's former being but love Karou herself. Again: without Karou's other being, half, life, we wouldn't have Karou so...yeah. Personally I would've loved to see more of this other self in the beginning chapters.

Final Review: 5/5 I adore this book and it's one of few that will stick with me for years to come.

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

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Writing Tip #15: Vanity Presses

There will come a time when you've finished drafting your novel and you're ready to put it out there in the world. You have two choices when it comes to publishing: self-publishing and traditional publishing. There's a post in the "Writing Tips" tab called Self-Publishing is Hard Work which I suggest you check out for more information. You can do it now or later, either way is fine.

If you're still with me: I mention in Self-Publishing is Hard Work something called "Vanity Presses." More specifically, I say to avoid vanity presses. For those that don't know: a vanity press is a publication company that says they'll publish your book for you. Sounds good, right? It's not. When something sounds too good to be true then it usually is.


Before anyone asks, YES, I did publish through a vanity press. Tale of the Twins Book 1 was originally published by AuthorHouse in March 2010. So yes, I do know what I'm talking about. Below you will see a list because lists keep concepts neat and tidy. There's a lot to go through.

1) Money

When someone asks YOU to pay for publishing your book: RED FLAG. Money should only be dealt out on cover designs and editing because, hey, they have to be paid too. Now, a vanity press will charge you exuberant amounts of money to do a lot of what you can do on your own. You will be spending anywhere from two to five times the amount of money publishing your book if you go with a vanity press.

Yes, they will give you an ISBN. But you can get it for free.

Yes, they will give you promotional material. But it won't come with how to use said promotional material and said material is normally bookmarks, postcards, and business cards centered around this ONE book. This is fine if all you're ever looking to do is publish ONE book and not make a brand.

Yes, they will give you hard and soft cover copies of your book. Yes, it will be more expensive then getting them printed somewhere else. And yes, there has been cases when they HAVE NOT delivered on printed books.

Yes, they will do other promotional stuff...for a price.

Oh, and those prices you see on their websites? Mm, yeah, they don't include the cost of editing.

And the stuff they might list under marketing? Mmm, yeah, you can totally do it on your own for free.

2) Marketing

Despite what any vanity presses' website says: They will not market your book. Oh, they'll put out some news releases and put you on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a few other sites. But that's all they'll do. And sure, they'll talk to Kirkus for you to get a review but only if you're willing to shell out $5000 for the whole package. Kirkus charges $425. Let's say editing is about $2000, cover is around $500...you're all ready saving by NOT going through a vanity press.

Sorry, we're on marketing. Oh, you might get a social media set up guide. So, they'll give you a list of what social media sites to sign up on and might even sign you up themselves. That is not marketing my friend. They will give you an account and you have to take care of it.

If you really shell out some cash you can do a couple of video interviews and get some stand-alone ads on Google...both of which won't work if no one knows who you are anyway. Interviews and videos only work if you can show people where those interviews and videos are, that is PROMOTE YOURSELF.

Don't buy into anything they say about marketing. You will be on your own and out a couple thousand dollars.

3) Your "Team"

A lot of these vanity presses talk about your personal "team" of people working on your novel. You get your own book consultant, cover design team, editor and EVERYTHING! In the four years I was with AuthorHouse I went through about ten book consultants, NOT through my own doing. They just got changed and I never saw the guy or girl before again. My cover design team got switched on me mid-cover design. I'm pretty sure my editor no longer works there. Personal team? Nope.

You will continually get people who know nothing about your book trying to sell you more hard copies of your book so they can get paid and you can sit there trying to figure out what to do. You are not a special member of their Publication House. You are a number and nothing more.

4) MORE Money

Every so often I'd get these calls from AuthorHouse telling me I was a special little snowflake that had been selected to participate in an event to promote my book. I fell into the trap and flew all the way to Los Angels for a Book-To-Screen event.

You are NOT a special little snowflake. You're number 54 of the thousands of authors in their "House" they've tried calling and who has said "yes" to doing said event. You will be shelling out MORE money to participate in the event then you will have to pay for your way TO the event, as well as your lodging AT the event.

My trip to Los Angeles wasn't a total bust (I did get a replica Saber Tooth Cat fang and to see a Tim Burton exhibit) but it did cost about $3000. What did I get out of it? The knowledge that some people thought my book was "too similar to Twilight", a replica Saber Tooth Cat fang, to see the Tim Burton exhibit, to say I've been to LA, a cool cab driver story, and to meet 149 other authors. Was it worth the $3000? Nope. Would I do it again? Nope.


Later that year I got a call about shelling out another $3000 to go to a book signing event in some park in Toronto with another 150 authors. Um, yes half a million people would be going through said park. No, just because I would be there wouldn't mean people would take copies of my free book. Yes, free. I wouldn't be making any money while there. I would just be gaining a readership. Oh, did I mention I would have had to BUY copies of my own book before going? No? Well yes, I would have had to buy copies of my book to hand out for free. Think about that for a minute. Yeah.

5) Your Rights

The cool thing about being self-published is you get to keep your rights. The not-so-cool thing about going traditional is you don't keep your rights. Vanity presses SAY you can keep your rights but if you decided to stop publishing through them you don't get to use anything with their name on it. What does that mean? Oh, the cover, the inside EDITED version of your book, the bookmarks, postcards, business cards, posters, and any other "promotional" material is null and void.

Why yes, that does mean you shelled out thousands of dollars to give up your rights and be back where you started before meeting said vanity press if you break contract. If you want to be able to use the cover, INSIDE EDITED VERSION OF YOUR BOOK, or anything else you have to pay a fee. Yes, that's right: you have to pay a fee. I suppose it's only fair. I mean they did do all this work setting you up with people and what not. But after spending $10,000 with them that extra fee felt like a kick to the groin.

Worse yet, if you want to self-publish on Amazon, you really can't. Why? Because THEY have all ready made a page for your other book and it would look stupid to have two separate accounts. That's not good for branding.

Did I mention you can't control your pricing? Well you can. But you can't offer the book in any kind of promotional deal with other books you might self-publish because you don't have access to the vanity press' book through Amazon. You can't offer that book for free because then you're throwing money out the window and THEY won't let you. And if you want to make any REAL money through them you've got to charge at least a dollar or more than other authors to make the same amount as them.

Do they tell you when your book is coming off their shelves? Nope. Do they deliver the files you paid for in a prompt and efficient manner before taking your book off their shelves? Nope. As of this writing (January 23), Tale of the Twins is no longer available on the AuthorHouse website but I still haven't gotten any of my files even though I paid the fee on January 9th. Yeah. Think about that for a minute.

So, an update to the file thing. I finally had to call to see where the Hell my files were. When did I call? March 23. March 23 after paying for my files on January 9. What did I get? A PDF of my novel. No cover. And no, not a Word doc which is easily editable for any excess pages, a PDF which when you convert over to a Word doc. you have to reformat everything. I'm currently in the process of reformatting line-by-stinking-line because there were excess pages, wonky paragraph tags, and a bunch of other crap I can't get rid of unless I literally bring a line into the paragraph before then do a hard return. Yeah. What did I pay $150 for? More work and needing a new cover.

In conclusion:

DO NOT USE A VANITY PRESS.

I will admit there have been some authors who have had success with vanity presses but they are few and far between. In order to be a success with a vanity press you have to have disposable income and you have to be able to promote yourself...which are the EXACT same things you need for self-publishing. Except with self-publishing you get to keep your rights. You'll also get to stick with one cover designer and editor who you'll grow to like and keep doing business with. A vanity press can't give you a permanent team. You can give yourself one.

I know it might not seem like it at first glance but it's MUCH, MUCH cheaper and better for you to self-publish without a vanity press. If you're going to self-publish you want as much control as possible so that your book will come out perfect. A vanity press can't offer you that.

And a funny note: There is a company out there who helps you to self-publish. They look like a vanity press but there are major differences. To be honest, I haven't checked them out as much as I normally do but they do offer a discount if you're trying to re-publish your book after being with a vanity press. Think about THAT for a minute. Yeah.

A note for those thinking I'm being bitter: AuthorSolutions (AuthorHouse and iUniverse for those curious) had a class action law suit filed against them. There's a section in Self-Publishing is Hard that talks about research. ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don't fall into the same trap I did.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Another Million

Technically I should have posted this blog on June 31 but I got lazy. Oops? Anyway, another million down and six more months in the year to go.

What's funny about this million is it's less novels and more ongoing stories and short stories. I've written a total of four complete novels since January 1 which are Mists of Time Book 4: Adam's Story, Zombies 2, Death's Feet, and A Dragon's Rage. So, where did the other half a million or so come from?

Well 346,153 came from Avalora School of Magic. There were a lot of scenes written for character for another series, about 105K words or so. The planning for Avalora is over 7K. About 175K worth of fan fiction and about 10K for a short story and some random planning. Lemme break it down:

January: 158,491
February: 132,736
March: 88,876
April (Camp NaNoWriMo): 126,539
May: 253,040 (The biggest Word Count EVER in a month)
June: 240,823 (And the Million)
  • End Days: Planning
  • Avalora School of Magic
  • A Dragon's Rage
  • Naruto Fanfiction: One short story and one seemingly unending piece.

How did I write so much in May and June? Well on April 15th or so I had a mental break down because of a lot of reasons. Stress from work, former stresses I never really took care of, and a bunch of crap I can't seem to get away from now and I won't be able to get away from.

Essentially I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder (to the point I was clawing at myself before going to work) and was told to take 15 weeks off. The unfortunate part is because my prior job didn't pay into the government benefits thing, I only had about 422 hours of taxable work hours when I needed 600. So, I don't get any kind of Unemployment Insurance for being off because of a medical reason. One of the many ways my old company screwed me over.

Of course I am planning to keep writing the rest of the year. Whether or not I get another million will remain to be seen but I can without a doubt say I'll beat last year's total of 1,440,350. I won't beat out the novel total of 16 but definitely the words.

I do have to say, Avalora School of Magic and the fan fiction will be the bulk of whatever my final number is. Am I going to write the other novels listed in the Novel Series Tab? Well, hopefully. I at least want to get Tale of the Twins Book 3: Heaven vs. Hell written once I re-edit Book 1 and go through Book 2. Will I write any of the others? No idea. I do want to finish Glory Hole: Kids. Besides that, no clue.

I have found that writing something as long as Avalora (again over 300K and nowhere close to being finished) is both refreshing and daunting. That 345K is the first term of first year. There's a second term to first year and NINE MORE YEARS of schooling for these kids, PLUS at least a chapter or two for all six of them after graduation. It literally is Friends meets Harry Potter.

I'm also finding writing the fan fiction, knowing not many people (if any) will see it to be refreshing as well. Hey, I might post it up on wattpad or fanfiction.com but I don't have to. It can be totally mine. It might be safer that way...ahaha. As for why the Naruto-verse: I watch a lot of anime, and yes I have gone to conventions and dressed up. Once as Misa Misa from Death Note and once as Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist (Brotherhood). I find it funny I kind of went backwards in the whole writing path. Most people practice with fan fiction before moving onto original characters.

Not me. I did original character then wrote fan fiction. Technically at the start of this almost twenty year adventure of writing I started with fan fiction but I didn't know it was called fan fiction...

ANYWAY. For those wanting to reach a million in six months it's easy. Just have a mental breakdown so you have 8+ hours a day to write and just keep writing. Actually, skip the mental breakdown part and keep writing. It's probably safer for your mental health that way. Not that writers are sane people in any sense of the word.

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Novel Series #3: Death's Feet

So this is one of those novels I'd started, scrapped, re-started, scrapped and re-started then finally finished. The first two incantations didn't have much of a plan. It was about these six characters who worked for Death and had to make sure the souls of the dead moved on. Yes, very much like Dead Like Me. There was a main conflict but no real purpose. The bad guy wanted to stop Death for no apparent reason.

I let it sit. I re-read both tries. Then I decided to put all my focus onto one character, one of Death's Grim Reapers and everything made sense. Instead of helping souls move on, the Grim Reapers now collect the souls and bring them to death in reliquaries. There are different levels of Grim Reapers: normal reapers, the Leaders of Crews (generally five), and the Grave Robber who is a special sort of reaper that can physically see a soul if it hasn't been captured in a reliquary.

The story focuses on Rosalynne, a Grave Robber who thinks she's found her soul-mate again after 200 years. Then all Hell breaks loose and someone jumps her while she's gleaning missed souls from the cemetery. This attacker takes her reliquaries and we find out someone's trying to thwart Death. Why? That's for Death Herself to figure out.

Death Herself, Amorita, plays a more active role in this incantation than she did in the prior two. She's directly involved with the group as she had been but she's more active when it comes to actual plot. In the others, she was just there as kind of a like a guide character. In this one, she's a plot point.

This is also the novel I used for Camp NaNoWriMo, April edition. It wasn't a good Camp because again, I was in a cabin where the other people weren't active. Most of them put up a goal and then bailed. One other person tried to regularly talk but everyone else kind of took off. It's disappointing which is why you didn't see my weekly updates about Camp this year. Onwards with the novel summary.

Genre: Urban fantasy? Supernatural? I've no idea.

Word Count: 69,908

Prompt: The show Dead Like Me

Main Characters: Rosalynne, Amorita (Death Herself), and the Baddie.

Minor Characters: Simon, William, Max, Tim, Steve, Barb, Ruby, and the other Grim Reapers. Yes, ordered in level of importance. Ha.

Summation: Rosalynne never thought she'd fall in love again until she met William. The problem? Rosalynne's been dead for 200 years and works as a Grim Reaper, an assistant under Death Herself. Can William be Rosalynne's reincarnated lost lover or is something or someone trying to thwart Death?

High Points: Amorita. She was such a fun character to write. Most specifically? The scene where she goes to Heaven to talk to God and Lucifer about Purging the world so she can kill off all the people taking the reliquaries in one go.

Low Points: Ending the novel. Seriously, when you've had something in your head for so long stewing and it's finally done it's like you're missing a part of yourself now or something. I'll miss these characters.

The World: Ours but with an incarnation of Death walking around as well as people who work for her who can't die.

Memorable Lines:

Trust Simon to give her an early job. The job forced her to push her legs to their limits in racing half way across the city to get to the location on time. She shifted the handles on her bike, pulling up slightly to jump the curb and veered around the idiots on the sidewalk. Sure, she was supposed to be in the bike lane running along the side of the road but she didn't trust the motorists trying to get to work before 9AM.

Rosalynne swung her bike around an older woman walking a yappy dog and got some small sense of satisfaction when an idiot trying to take a selfie had to step to one side or be run down by her bike. She heard a curse but didn't bother to look over her shoulder. One hand did come up to give the thwarted selfie-taker a one fingered salute.

The music in her ears changed to a heavier beat and Rosalynne grinned. The pounding bass did nothing for her headache but it would help her concentrate on getting to the job before her real job. Oh the joy of working overlapping shifts of sorts. Simon couldn't even give her later work if he wanted. He gave her what fit into her schedule as given to him by Amorita.

Amorita, the mysterious woman Rosalynne, Simon, or anyone else on the team didn't want to meet. Amorita could keep to her shadows and be nothing but a name to Rosalynne for as long as her second life continued. Amoirta, Lady Death, Keeper of Souls, Grim Reaper, whatever name a person could come up with for her could stay secluded in whatever place she called home in this city. Rosalynne wished Lady Death had elected to live anywhere else. Wished wouldn't do her any good so she kept pedaling. Maybe she'd get lucky and wouldn't have to follow an ambulance to a morgue.

"You're not a good Grim Reaper," Robert told her.
She chuckled at him and she felt him watching her. She shrugged.
"You can tell that to Lady Death when you meet her but she'll just laugh," Rosalynne said.
Robert gasped and Rosalynne watched him consider her words.
"You're not Death?" Robert enquired.

Rosalynne shook her head. Robert blinked and waited.
"I'm one of her Grim Reapers. My job is to gather lost souls and bring them to her so she can bring them into the afterlife. She's the one who can tell you what happened to you and your family, not me. I do her legwork," Rosalynne said.

"So, someone stole your Grave Robber's reliquaries,"
Lady Death's voice was smooth but unnerving. It made Rosalynne want to run screaming from the room but she was paralyzed. It took Rosalynne a moment to realize Lady Death had not posed a question. She had made a statement.
"Yes," Simon agreed.
His voice was light and Rosalynne could see the sweat beading across his forehead. Simon didn't know what happened when reliquaries were taken. Rosalynne hoped he might have an idea. Apparently Lady Death could be the one to know.
"Twelve you said,"
A second statement, like she wanted to confirm whatever Simon had told her on the phone. Simon nodded this time. Lady Death took a long drag off her cigarette and exhaled five smoke rings. She was the image of calm. Rosalynne knew somewhere inside, maybe deep inside, Lady Death was not as relaxed as she seemed.

"Rosalynne," Lady Death said.
If Rosalynne had been standing she would have fallen over. She did have to tighten her grip on Barb's hand but Barb squeezed back as hard.
"You didn't see him or sense him,"
Again, not a question but a verification of fact. Rosalynne nodded. Lady Death shifted her head to look at her and Rosalynne lowered her eyes as to not meet Lady Death's gaze. She knew Lady Death would take no offense.
"Odd the Grave Robber couldn't sense him," Lady Death went on. "Not that you're the most powerful of the Grave Robbers, a child still in terms of it, but even so you should have sensed him alone in the cemetery."
...
"Even a normal Grim Reaper should have sensed him. Odd," Lady Death said.
Instead of putting out her cigarette in the ash tray, she flicked it onto the carpet. Simon winced but said nothing. Lady Death didn't even squish the cigarette to put it out. It didn't burn through the carpet and no smoke coiled from the discarded cigarette. It was as if the life had left it the moment it left her fingers. Rosalynne did not want to linger on the thought.

Amorita let out a long breath and stepped forward. To anyone watching it would look as if her body liquefied then flowed through the bars to solidify on the other side. To her the movement felt like taking a step as normal with no barrier in between. She went where she wished when she wished and nothing could impede her.
"Look out!"
Something hit her from the side and Amorita felt the sensation of flying. She landed, feeling roughness biting at her flesh as her body rolled. She heard yelling and screaming, squealing, honking, but none of it mattered. The attacker was gaining distance. Amorita blinked at the sight of blue sky above her head and shifted.
Nothing hurt. Nothing ever hurt so she sat up. People were near her, telling her to stay still and for a moment she didn't understand why. Then she looked down at herself. There was a bone peeking out of one leg and blood flowing from the wound. Her left arm was mangled as well and there were patches of skin that had been torn away. She supposed people would consider her lucky to come away so unscathed. This was an inconvenience. (Says the one who just got hit by a car...lol)
...
Stupid cars and their ability to sneak up on her. Some inventions weren't worth it. (snickers)

"Powers above and below can't end her because they end their method of getting souls. From what she tells us, she came first, so I don't think the Rules apply to her. If she wants a tsunami to hit Japan again because she thinks it'll be fun then she'll do it." (She being Death of course)

"I've been fighting this group for centuries now and every time I thought I had them finished they came back. This time they only waited four years. No, I'm done being gentle. I will purge the world: hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and war. I suspect when it's all said and done over four billion will be dead," Lady Death said.
...
"But that's, you can't,"
"Who's going to stop me? God? Lucifer? You? No. The purging stats in one week..."

"What's this all about, Death?" God asked.
"The faction is back," Amorita said.
"Oh, well, don't you normally handle it without meeting us?" God questioned.
...
"Normally but this time I'm finishing the group," Amorita said.
"Oh, good. Well, have at it then," God said and began to stand.
"You sure you want to tell Death to 'have at it' without hearing her plan?" Lucifer asked.

Damn him. She had almost gotten out of this without having to tell God what she planned to do. God scowled, met Lucifer's eyes then looked to her. He sat back down. Lucifer chuckled, a little smirk coming to his face and Amorita shrugged.
"I'm Purging the earth in six days," Amorita said.
...
"How many humans do you plan to Purge?" God asked.
"Four billion," Amorita replied.

She hadn't skipped a beat, replying as if she was mentioning the weather. It was her talent, really. The angel dropped his clipboard. Lucifer lost the grip he had on his cigarillo and it dropped onto the table then rolled to the edge, hovering between falling for a few moments before becoming stead. God stared at her with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.
"Four billion?" God questioned.
He sputtered...


"Oh, you're coming with me," Lady Death said.

"Why?" Rosalynne managed.
Lady Death smirked.
"Back-up,"

(Amorita and the Baddie fighting in her apartment. She's been slamming him against walls and making a general ruckus)
"This is your neighbour in four. Do you mind keeping it down? I'm trying to put my kid down for a nap."

"Sorry, deciding the fate of the universe in here," Amorita said.

"I can't believe you just dropped that like it was nothing," the man said, pointing at her discarded cigarette.
"And I can't believe you dared to stop me," Amorita said.


"Eternity's a long time. At least I know how to amuse myself."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Writing While Female

If you don't know by now a lot of what I write (including for this blog) is inspired by real life. Considering what most of my topics are this can be a bit scary. Anyway, on June 4 there was a hashtag trending that caught my interest. The hashtag? #WritingWhileFemale.
My contribution to this hashtag is shown in the image.


Nine re-tweets and fourteen favorites is a freaking lot for me. I don't get that kind of traction on any of my tweets (except the Stephen King quote about Kindles vs. books) so it was kind of nice to see. No one commented except for one guy and it was a simple comment "Not for most of history."

And he's right. Women have not written about dragons, bloody battles, magic, murder, and mayhem. Typically it's been thought women only write romance and erotica. But this is a new age. J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter where all of the above is featured. Ursula Le Guin? Same. Anne Rice wrote the vampire chronicles. Karin Slaughter has 13 (or more) books that are categorized as mystery fiction. Tanith Lee was recognized as a science fiction and horror author. Susan Collins and the Hunger Games.

Before I continue I would like to make one thing perfect clear: I am not a feminist. I am an equalist. What does that mean? I want everyone, male, female, black, white, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, gay, straight, transgender and everything in between to have the same rights and opportunities as anyone else. I believe what defines you is your personality and your morals, not the color of your skin, your gender, sexuality, race, or religion. All those traits make who you are physically and can shape your personality, yes, but what's important is your morals and your skills.

Moving onto our original topic of "Writing While Female:"

The problem is society's view of female authors is we do, in fact, ONLY write romance. The worst part is some women have gone so far as to reduce their feminine first names to nothing but an initial so they can be picked up by male readers. Males will go into a store, see a female author's name and think about the book making a good gift for the women in their life.

I don't pay attention to the name on the cover of a book but yes, most of the books I've read have been written by men. Why? Because males sell more books and many female authors who want to be taken seriously in the field take on a male pen name to sell more books. We all know the story of J.K Rowling being told to use her initials instead of her first name to appeal to male readers. We know Nora Roberts became JD Robb to release her true crime series. And again Rowling used a male pen name to release more "serious" fiction.

This is why Writing While Female is so important. Female writers, even today, do not get the same respect as male authors. Males are reviewed more, they're published more, and their male names are seen as a sign the book will be good. Society still thinks women can't write any serious literature, that we're good for writing fluff.

It's insulting. The fact that in order for me to be seen as a "good" author I have to become D. VonRavenstone is a slap in the face. Yes, I am female. Yes, I write about magic, dragons, blood, mayhem, and misery. Yes, I collect swords, bones, and wear a lot of black. Yes, I have an odd fascination with death and the world ending. Yes, I watch horror movies. NO. I do not watch nor do I focus on romance all the time. I often roll my eyes when a romantic subplot makes itself known in any novel or movie.

I don't want kids. I'm not concerned about finding a husband. I mow my own lawn, wash my own car, and open my own jars. I sometimes play with spiders before I kill them and occasionally set them free. I strongly dislike both Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray. I do not go into the romance section of any store. I hate the color pink.

So why is it my double X chromosome dictates I can only write fluffy romance? Why is it no one bats an eye when a male author writes romance but everyone flips their s*** when a female author makes it big in a non-romantic genre? Why are we still living in the 1950s?

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Why did I pick it up?

Again, continuation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I'm still loving the last few books more than the first few. It's like Rowling's writing matures as her characters mature and it's cool.

So, I started this one on Feb 15 and finished it sometime in the beginning of March. I kind of forgot to write the blog post once I finished it and yeah. New time slot at work, yadda, yadda, bleh. Anyway, the book itself is 607 pages, at least my copy is so, around the same page count the last few have been.

The Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling:
The first chapter with the Prime Minister meeting the new Minister of Magic...eh. I think it could have been dropped. Sure it was kind of cool to know the Minister of Magic talks to Prime Minister and what not but as a chapter itself? Not worth 24 pages. Next up came Snape, Bellatrix, and her sister who's Malfoy's mom making a pack. This was cool. We get to speculate why Snape needs to take over for Draco in the task Voldemort's set him up for.

After 42 pages we get to see Harry cleaning his room and leave Privet Drive. Dumbledore comes to pick up Harry and they head off to see the potential new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher.

What's cool in this novel is Harry learning about the Horcruxes and how Voldemort managed to survive the backlash of the killing curse which should have killed Harry. I also like how Slughorn is weaved around the backstory of Voldemort and the Horcruxes and how Harry is slowly learning about Voldemort's life.

What I didn't like? Dumbledore not telling Harry what he's doing or why. Dumbledore knows the liquid in the basin is horrible but drinks it anyway. Then well, Dumbledore dies. All he tells Harry is that Harry must destroy the other Horcruxes so Voldemort can be killed once and for all. Doesn't tell Harry how to get to them. Doesn't tell them what they are but does speculate with him what they could be. Doesn't even give Harry any indication of what's to come in the next book information wise (I'm writing this blog post after reading the 7th book...ooops) and just...doesn't do a lot of things.


Now, there is the whole rumour around that was confirmed about Dumbledore being gay. I didn't see it. Like, AT ALL. Did I need a sparkly banner hanging over him announcing he's a gay character? Nope. All I needed is somewhere in all these conversations Harry and Dumbledore have is for Harry to have asked something like: "Why has there never been a Miss Dumbledore?" And for Dumbledore to say he wasn't interested in women.

Hell, I would've liked Harry to ask about Dumbledore's past in general. I mean, yeah, great, have him regret asking about Dumbledore's past after Dumbledore is dead but in general when you start to get close to someone you tend to ask where they came from.

I mean yes, Harry's got a lot on his plate but you would think he'd have thought to ask Dumbledore something about his past. I mean Dumbledore's obviously lived a long rich life full of secrets. Why wouldn't you?

Dumbledore's death scene and funeral were perfect. The emotion, the shock, and Harry's announcement not to go back to Hogwarts: excellent in their execution. There are a lot of little bits left unanswered for Book 7 and I love how everything gets tied up in the final book. But, more on Deathly Hallows in the next post.

What's kind of fun is the potions book Harry's "cheating" from turns out to be Snape's. The panic when Harry uses the made-up spell and almost kills Malfoy: awesome. Also, I totally get where the "wand fight in the bathroom" memes come from now. Bonus. :P

Also: life went on for the students of Hogwarts. The sixth years learn to Apparate, there's some romance, heart-break the Muggles begin realizing something bad may be happening in the world.

And, do we all remember the piece of mirror Harry kept from his god-father's gift breaking? No? Well, remember it. He keeps it. And yes, it does come up in the last book.

Oh and I love Fleur's line: "I am pretty enough for both of us!" Taken out of context it doesn't sound like much but it says a lot about her character and who she is as a person.

The Negatives:

Again, lots going on. This isn't horrible in the slightest as I do enjoy a book with complex happenings. What happened in prior books starts to make sense the further on you go in the series which is especially true between books 6 and 7. You CANNOT skip book 6 in anyway or you'd be totally lost in 7.

The formula has been done to death and the threat of Hogwarts closing is an empty and unneeded one. We know it won't close. Why? Well where the Hell else is Harry going to have his final battle with Voldemort? It won't be in the middle of some random street or in a place with lots of people. It's going to be a place where the two orphans (Harry and Voldemort) found home for the first time.

Some agreements I have with the 1-star reviewers: The word "snog" really throws me for a loop. I realized the book was written in England but...snog. It sounds gross, not this loving thing you do with your SO of choice. Also, when the Hell did Harry ever decide he liked Ginny? Where's Voldemort? What happened to Dumbledore's hand and why won't he explain?

What I would have agreed with if I didn't know most of the plot: Dumbledore pleading for death from Snape. As stated: I've all ready read Book 7 and even before I kind of knew why Snape did what he did so Dumbledore wasn't pleading when I read his death scene. He was telling Snape to do as Dumbledore had requested.

There is A LOT of information packed into this book. It's dark. There's death. Bill gets mauled by a child-eating werewolf (you read that right) but there is a lot of emphasise on love in this sucker.

It's basically a huge set up for Book 7. Could it have been done in less pages? Yep. Did there have to be so much focus on love? Eh, probably not. Was Dumbledore's death needed? Yep. Why? You have to knock out the ONE PERSON who everyone relies on in time of war to create better conflict. It's just how it works.

Again I do have to note: I would have a lot more negatives here and be in agreement with everything the 1-star reviewers are saying if I didn't all ready know some plot points going into the series and hadn't read book 7 before this review.

Final Review: 2/5 for children and heavy readers. The children wouldn't be enjoying the much darker world of Harry Potter and the adults might be suffering from "omg-mushy-immature" romance issues.

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

Writing Tip #14: Reviews

We've left the mini-series in this series of writing tips behind. Yes, we've gone through the basics of setting and world-building, plots and subplots, characters and minor characters. Now we'll head back to some tips, tricks, and other fun stuff having to do with writing.

If you don't all ready know: I get inspired to write a lot of what I write based on real events and this blog is no different. The inspiration for this post about reviews came from something that happened to me in January. So, STORY TIME!

I submitted Best Friends: Body Part Fairy to this horror anthology back in December. The people for the anthology said they'd tell me what was wrong with the story and why they hadn't accepted it if that was the case but never did. Side-note: if you say you're going to do something: DO IT. Don't tell an author you'll give them a reason as to why you didn't accept their story then don't. Because guess what? That author will remember you.

Sorry. ANYWAY. Said anthology didn't accept Best Friends but I knew it was supposed to be out around this time so I went to check it out. I then stumbled upon an author who shall not be named but we'll call him Volty. Yes as in a corny adaption of Voldemort. Stay with me. ;)

Volty has other books out. He has one book in particular with a rather crude title which turns out to be a collection of short stories. The reviews were good all except one. The interesting thing about this review is it had originally been two lines to the effect of "this is not a brilliant work of fiction and nothing makes sense."

Okay, why is this all important? Volty responded to said 1-star review by saying something like "My book got it's first 1-star review and the person said I don't make sense. They don't make sense." What happened? Said reviewer SAW the tweet Volty posted then WENT BACK and edited his review, not to make it better, oh no, to PROVE HIS POINT FURTHER.

Said 1-star review is what made me read Volty's book. I also agreed with said 1-star reviewer and did not end up purchasing Volty's book. What have we learned from this tale? DO NOT RESPOND DIRECTLY TO ANY REVIEWS GOOD OR BAD.

You can (and should) give general thanks to your readers for reading your book or leaving a review in the sense of "thanks everyone for reading and reviewing! Stay tuned for my next book!" You SHOULD NOT say what Volty said or anything near it because you WILL prompt a response and if the person started negatively, well, they're going to get more negative.

While any publicity is good publicity, it's not a good thing to be known as the "bad writer." You don't want to be known as the hack who doesn't make a lick of sense. You don't want people to buy your book to see what steaming pile of crud you made now. Generally speaking you want most people to like you.

The problem with reviews (like in Volty's case) is that ONE negative review is the one we tend to take personally. It's the one that prompts us to respond negatively and the one the keeps us up at night. Does it matter if we've got six 4 or 5 star reviews? Nope. It's the one 1-star that'll stay with us.

No matter how much it hurts: DO NOT RESPOND. You won't even have to. Why? Because the six other reviewers who gave you four or five stars will be the ones who will defend you. AND LET THEM. Don't even mention a 1-star review on your social media in any way that can be seen as an attack on the reviewer. You can however turn it around: "My book got it's first 1-star review. Check that off the bucket-list!"

Not everyone is going to love your work but you can't please everyone. As hard as it is: don't let those bad reviews get you down. Remember, a lot of famous authors were rejected and had bad reviews about their books but they're still writing.

And for the love of all that exists in every plane of every world: do not retaliate. If they're outwardly mocking you on social media: block them. If they're leaving bad reviews for the sake of bad reviews: report them.

How you respond to bad reviews is criticized as much as your writing. How you respond to praise is as criticized. Remember, you're in the public eye and how you present yourself will make an impression on your readers. Make sure you don't become a train wreck people only look at because of morbid fascination.

As for Volty? Eh, I won't make an effort to go looking for his books or reading his work. That response to one bad review was my first impression of him and I didn't like it. My second impression was his Twitter account in which there were 12 tweets that were being rotated through. Yes, 12 tweets over and over and over again which means he's got nothing interesting or detrimental to say.

You have to sell yourself. How you act on social media and how you respond to fans good or bad is a IMMENSE part of selling yourself. Don't crap on yourself before you even get started.

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