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 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.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Why did I pick it up?

Continuation of Harry Potter and the TwiWizard Tournament, pardon, Goblet of Fire. There are two books left in the series and I'm disappointed. I'm starting to like Harry Potter as a whole. Yes, a whole. I could do without books 1-3 but 4 and 5? These are where JK Rowling starts to shine.

I started Order of the Phoenix on February 9th and finished on Feb 14th, so five days. I had more time to read it during work breaks, waiting for the e-test on my car, and what not. The book itself is 766 pages which is up 100 from Goblet of Fire. Yes, massive so don't let my five day read time fool you.

Actually funny story. So, I'm reading Order at work and one of the people in my training class asks: "Which one are you reading now?" So I show him the cover and he says "Wow, you're going through those quick." And being me I say: "It's only around 600 pages." Him: "Only 600 pages...*shocked look and leaves*" I need to come with signage proclaiming I'm a voracious reader once I get into it...

The Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling:

Same formula and yes, new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher is introduced. Can't one person stick around longer than a year? I mean really.

Anyway, Harry has his bad summer but this time Ron and Hermione aren't telling him anything. When he's finally picked up it's after facing down Dementors in his muggle-foster family's world. He has to save his cousin then because he uses magic, faces expulsion from Hogwarts (which we know isn't going to happen), is then saved by Dumbledore's interference, almost thrown out of the muggle-house, is saved by a mysterious letter and his aunt (who hates him but has to keep the promise the person in the letter is shouting about), and is then taken to a secret place by a dozen wizards. The kid never have a dull summer, I'll give him that.

The threat of expulsion is weak simply because Harry's defending himself against Dementors but so much emphasis is put on Harry being nervous and it's a bit tedious. The secret place is the home base of the Order of the Phoenix who Sirius, Lupine, Mad-Eye, and many more are a part of and who's job is to protect the uninformed wizard community against Volty's return.

I knew something bad was going to happen when the Black (Sirius') house-elf appeared on the scene. The concept of the house elf (Brownie) is disturbing. They're slaves, plain and simple but are forced to like being slaves. They love serving their masters so much they find it insulting when Hermione knits hats and scarves to give them to set them free. The entire concept of freedom is an insult. That's just...wrong.

Back to the plot. So Harry has some horrible nightmares and it turns out he's seeing and feeling what Voldemort sees and feels because of the scar connection. There is a lot of anger in this book, mainly from Harry, and I have to admit about half way through I wanted to reach through and give the kid a chill pill. Of course that's around where we find out Voldemort's affecting Harry's emotions, so hey. Plus Harry's 15 so it makes sense his first emotion to something not going his way is righteous anger, pardon, teenage anger but this is over the top. Speaking of over the top...

Umbridge, the Dark Arts teacher has been Ministry Appointed for the sole purpose of taking over the school She's who the bad guy is for this novel and my god is she a terror. She has a quill that when you write something with it, carves it into your hand which she makes Harry use. She bans Harry, Fred and George Weasley from Quiddich for life after they attacked Malfory. Yes, they did deserve punishment but not a lifetime ban. She tilts the favor to the Slytherin house and doesn't even bother teaching Dark Arts. This last point is what makes Ron and Hermione get Harry to start Dumbledore's Army, AKA: Defense of the Dark Arts. Why Dumbledore's Army? Because the Ministry of Magic wants Dumbledore sacked for saying Voldemort's come back.

There was a lot going on in this book and a major fight scene at the end. Another character dies but again Harry is kind of an idiot. Sirius gave him a gift and said "If you ever need to contact me, use this" but of course Harry doesn't open it because he doesn't want to tempt Sirius out of hiding. If Harry had opened it then he would have avoided half the issues in the book. The big one is being caught by Umbridge and being tricked by the house elf. Oh and the character dying. Yeah, that would've been completely avoided. ENTIRELY. The death itself wasn't even needed though.

But if it had been avoided then we wouldn't have found out Voldemort was after a prophecy dealing with him and Harry which basically reveals Harry's birth, that Voldermort would mark Harry as an equal and the only person who could defeat Voldermort for good was Harry. One of them must die...but we kind of knew that. I do find it cool Neville also could have fit the prophecy. Not cool that the mains found out what happened to his parents the way they did.

Luna Lovegood is introduced and let me say: YES. I love the quirky characters and she fits the bill. She's also competent magic wise and ends up being a huge help in the novel. I adore Fred and George as characters too and in here they became a bit more than comic relief. They provided Harry with a means to contact Sirius (even though he had a safer way and was an idiot about using it, re: the gift) as well as gave Umbridge a helluva run for her money. I also love their exit. If you're going to leave school: turn a hallway into a swamp and cause absolute chaos. *claps*

The Threshal's were an interesting concept...and of course they can fly at supersonic speeds to transport the gang to the Ministry when they needed it. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes it's a bit too convenient. But I'm sure every writers has done sometime similar at least once.

A few plot holes: Krum's just not mentioned after the whole TriWizard thing besides Hermione writing to him. And what about Harry's Firebolt? And why the Hell is Malfoy still allowed at school when he's the son of a Death Eater who's now in jail? And yes, another Dark Arts teacher bites the dust. Just give it to Snape all ready...speaking of: total drop of the ball here. He's such an interesting character and...nothing.

One thing I really liked? Harry realized how stupid he was in going after the character who died and not paying attention to Snape's extra lessons. Too bad it took someone close to him dying and his two BFFs being injured horribly.

Would I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix again?

Yes. There was a bunch going on which makes for an interesting book. I'm probably missing a bunch plot devices, holes, or whatever and now I understand why people re-read the books so often.

The Negatives:

Good God the formula! I understand Harry has to go back to his aunt's to keep the spell going, yadda, yadda, but can we have a summary page then just move on? And can we keep a Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year? There are all ready a lot of characters in the book, why add more?

It irks me beyond belief the people helping Voldemort were simply imprisoned or let off. You would think with all the spells and potions wizards could tell who's lying and be able to do the bad apples in. It's common sense NOT to keep the enemy alive and well and to finish off all his supporters when he's gone. But, kid's book so...

So far all the reviews are saying this is the weakest book. I can agree there was A LOT going on (probably too much) and the death occurred (though great on Rowling killing a Darling) didn't do anything but to further throw Harry into misery. And yes, he did go from a fairly optimistic boy to an angst-filled teen in the course of two weeks or less. He did start to perk back up in the end.

I also agree the book was released too soon and could have done with another round of editing. And seriously, was the point of Sirius' gift to Harry just to stab Harry with a knife again? That was cruel.

Final Review: 3.5/5 for both voracious readers and kids. The fight scene was good, confusing but good, and the books are becoming darker which is generally a no-no for the kid's in the age bracket this book is for.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Writing Tip #13: Minor Characters

This is the last post in the mini-series dealing with the basics of your novel. We've talked about setting and world-building, plots and subplots, and characters. Today is all about minor characters.

Minor characters are to characters like subplots are to plots and like world-building is to setting. Basically what this means is your minor characters (subplots and world building) SUPPORT, EXPAND UPON, and WORK WITH your main characters. How many minor characters do you need? Like subplots: there's no set number. You introduce as many as needed to move your story along.

Now, there are two types of minor characters.

The first is the Important Minor Character. This is the guy who's almost a main character, the one who could steal the show, but the novel is not about him. Think Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli from Lord of the Rings. Or Snape, Dumbledore, and Bellatrix from Harry Potter. Without these characters there would be something innately missing from the plot. It's why they're also referred to as "supporting characters."

The second is the Throw-away Character. These are the Unnamed characters. The waitress. The bartender. The random elf. The orc. These guys are the folks no one really cares about and are there to populate the stage. They're all those folks in the background on set that everyone kind of looks over. In the credits they're: woman with baby, security guard #1, Dead guy #3, Cheerleader.

What's the difference? Important Minor Characters need a backstory similar to your Main Character's. You're going to want to know what motivates them to help (or hinder) the main character, how they became who they are today, and what role they play in your story. They'll need a name and a purpose. They might even evolve into a Main Character in later books and you can bet they'll become a fan favorite if you work them right.

The Throw-Away character needs nothing. They don't even need a description or a name. They are the waitress who gives your Main Character and your Important Minor Character their coffee. They are the woman your Main Character has to walk around because she's stopped in the middle of the side-walk to text. They're the body count.

Throw-Away Characters CAN evolve into Important Minor Characters over the course of a series (I'm looking at you David Jones and Maverick). Important Minor Characters can become a Main Character (I'm looking at you Tenkondin and Sable). The reverse can also happen. A Main Character can become an Important Minor Character (...sorry Dyns) or even a Throw-Away Character.

A word of advice: don't make Cashier #1 some secret spy of the villain for the sake of *GASP! PLOT TWIST!* The ONLY way you can do it is if she's appearing more than once, always makes a point of serving the Main Character or acts suspicious in such a way your Main Character starts to notice.

Remember, your Minor Characters are there to do a job: SUPPORT YOUR MAIN. Or HINDER YOUR MAIN. They are there to cause subplots, conflict, and help your world-building. They might even steal the show or provoke a spin off. And if you're really good they might get a bigger following than some of the other minor characters even if they only appear in five chapters of 100+ story (I'm looking at you Matt).

Use your Minor Characters as they're intended to be used. You don't need to do an extensive back story on every one and no, not everyone needs a name. They can be "the waiter" or "the secretary" or "the bartender" during the course of the story. Don't feel bad about randomly killing off "Bank Teller #1." She is a device to move along the plot. That's all. Put up a grave and keep moving.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Why did I pick it up?

Continuation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Again, I don't stop reading a series unless it's gone past 17 books and it's still freaking going with no end in sight. Even then I wait till the remainder of the books come up then finish it. Said 17+ book series I'm waiting on is currently up to 18 planned books with nine short stories in nine different anthologies so no, I am not impressed. There are also THREE other 10+ book series said author is working on, yes, all at once. I kind of wish I never picked up that first book...

ANYWAY. We're talking a nice 7-book series known as Harry Potter. I started this one on February 3rd and finished it on February 8th. Yes it almost took me a week. You'll see why shortly.

The Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling:

First I have to say: YES! THIS is the book where JK Rowling has evolved as an author. The general pattern is still the same: we see Harry with his foster muggle parents, Harry goes to see Ron, they see something mysterious (wrong place at wrong time syndrome) and Harry has a new challenge to face at school, new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher met, challenge resolved with Harry doing something amazing while breaking some rules, and Harry heading home to his muggle foster parents.

BUT, the mystery aspect in this one is MUCH MORE DEFINED. There are a lot more suspects for why this is happening to Harry and I was surprised when it was revealed. I expected one of two but not the person it actually was then it wasn't actually that person but someone pretending to be that person. It was great.

Also, JK Rowling KILLED HER DARLINGS! She introduced one in the last book then just, BAM, killed him in front of Harry. Was the death needed? Heck yes. Did the death impact Harry? HECK yes. Did the dying character suffer? No, it wasn't long drawn out torture, just the killing curse and done but still. This was a great death and relevant to the story and the books. She also killed someone right in the beginning too: got us to know him and kind of care then knocked him down. Good job.

The way Voldemort comes back and the way everything was planned out by him and his minions was amazing. It was well planned, wonderfully executed, and that ending. This is the writing I've been waiting for as an adult reading younger fiction.

There are still some tweaks needed here and there because it's not entirely believable the Head of the Ministry of Magic won't take a threat like Voldemort seriously. Honestly, I think Fudge not believing Dumbledore and Snape was a bit much.

I do like that Dumbledore doesn't hide anything from the Hogwarts students and tells them flat out Voldemort is back, Harry saw it with his own eyes, and yes, Volty (hehe) killed the character.

I don't believe that Harry can't figure out where Hagrid and the Madame are going. They're half giants Harry, and Voldemort wants the giants on his side (as you heard), where the Hell do you think they're going?

I do like how Harry does suspect Snape might be working as a double agent now. The whole battle scene with Voldemort was kind of, I don't know. If my villain was so horrible and evil then he would've killed Harry outright. Screw talking: he wouldn't even have untied him from the gravestone to give him a fighting chance. It would've been Avada Kedavra and done. I guess Volty learned that lesson the hard way when Harry escaped.

The Goblet of Fire is mentioned one or twice and has a five page or so scene. So it's a catalyst, yes, but I think something else should have been used, like Harry Potter and the Triwizard Tournament. Why? Because the games was the focus of the book. The cup was more of a piece of equipment that could have easily been replaced by anything. I guess Goblet of Fire sounds cooler though.

I also LOVE how we get some backstory on Neville and Harry shows compassion towards the poor kid. We also realize why Neville knows the Cruciastus Curse (crucio) and why he's being raised by his grandmother. I was tearing up at this reveal and I'm so glad Harry went along with Dumbledore's request and didn't tell Hermione and Ron about Neville's parents and that Harry felt that Neville should be the one getting some sympathy from the other students about his parents. As Harry said "Sure, he (Harry) was an orphan but Neville had living parents who could no longer recognize him."

The ending with Harry coming back, the big reveal of who was going all this, and Harry on the train was perfect. I love that Harry, realizing he's a privileged wizard who has money to spare, gives his prize money to Fred and George. It shows who he is as a person. I also love how he wants to save all the hostages in the second task and he's willing to share the prize with Cedric, hell he tells Cedric what the first task is because he doesn't want Cedric to be hurt. This is good character development right here.

Harry doesn't break the rules so much, not to the extent of the other books anyway. Everyone else is breaking the same rules so it's not as horrible when Harry does it which is nice to see. But, one such rule being broken isn't even mentioned: Krum (Quiddich player and competitor against Harry in the Triwizard Tournament) using crucio (illegal to use against other wizards) on Cedric. Harry just kind of forgets to mention it.

With how the last feast goes, I suspect there won't be another new Defense of the Dark Arts Teacher in Hogwarts next year which is nice. It's good to break pattern.

Would I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire again?

Yes, most definitely and I might even do it without reading the books before it.

The Negatives:

The formula, oh God, change it up! Maybe start off when Harry's at the school or something. The time it took for Harry to get from summer to school seemed to be so much longer too but every part was needed or nothing would make sense later. The thing that really bothers me about the whole series is all these former Death Eaters were either imprisoned or given a second chance.

Never mind they conspired with the most evil wizard in history and killed innocent people, we'll totally give 'em a second chance if they give us names. Yeah, no. I honestly don't believe people would do that and I sure as Hell don't believe in second chances when it comes to that. Sure, if show you can be reformed, great. But everyone suspected Malfoy's dad would go back to Voldemort and guess what? He did. Worse yet, they're still letting his kid go to Hogwarts where Harry Potter, you know the person Voldemort wants to kill, lives. Yeah, smart. Go going.

See, if the same events had taken place in any one of my magic-ruled worlds, every one of Voldemort's supporters would have been killed, including the Dementors. I mean, who's bright idea is it to let the Dementors (who would go help Voldemort if he asked) guard the place where Voldemort's henchmen are imprisoned? Where's the sense in that? Kill off the henchmen, especially when you don't see a body for Voldemort and know that even if he does come back, he won't have any support. If the Ministry had done that then maybe all Voldemort would have is Wormtail. And ya can't do much with that guy.

To the 1-star reviews:

Again, Pottermore website. The Hell, Rowling, the Hell? With so many complaints about downloading the book from the site or receiving the wrong copy of the book, being misled on the condition, etc, someone should've looked into this by now.

There are some people saying it's not for kids and well, to each there own. I read IT at 12 and am no worse for wear. I do find it funny that my one cousin let her kid read Harry Potter at 10 but not Hunger Games because there's a lot of killing in both series. Goblet of Fire is where the darkness starts seeping in and yes, it is for a mature audience.

A lot of the people don't seem to get Harry is 14 now. One says he's "suddenly interest in girls especially the fat French girl". Two things: 1) Harry is 14. Yes, he is "suddenly" interested in girl but was interested in Cho when he first met her in the last book. 2) the fat French girl is a watered down version of the Veela who are seductresses by nature in the book. Yeah "suddenly" *snorts*

I also find that I'm the complete opposite when it comes to the series. Everyone thinks 1-3 are totally awesome and 4 sucks where I think 1-3 are okay and four is one of the better ones.

The "TOO LONG" comments are entirely justified especially when the page count in the series goes from 350 to 634. Yeah, the fourth book is MASSIVE compared to the others but rightfully so. There's a lot going on and more mystery involved. Yes the front part was needed because now you know who Krum is and why everyone acts the way they do in the later stages of the book.

I could agree Rita and SPEW weren't really needed as plot elements though it DOES give us a nice insight to Hermione's character. She cares about other people and shows her brilliance by deducing how Rita is finding out all this stuff she shouldn't know.

The "pure evil" villain is a disappointment though. Yes, I get they're villains but their needs to be some sort of justification to their villainy just like Harry needs to have justification in lying, cheating, using illegal curses, etc. I like Harry's not a saint but it bothers me that Voldemort and his posse have NO redeeming characteristics. They're pure evil for the sake of being evil. It bugs me.

There are some spelling mistakes, wrong words, and quotes missing during dialogue which is bothersome. I'm no grammar guru so I can't point it all out but if I'm finding something then an editor reading this might find way more.

Final Review: 3.5/5 for the voracious readers. 3.5/5 for intended audience (darker concepts is the main reason here.)

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Writing Tip #12: Subplots

With every great war there's a bunch of little battles to be won. What does this have to do with writing? Let me put it to you this way: with every conflict, there are minor setbacks. Still confused? With every PLOT there are SUBPLOTS.

Life is not a happy trail along a singular path. There are lots of different choices to make which can put you on an entirely different path than the one you meticulously planned out in career studies five years ago. That's right, I went there. ;)

The thing with five year plans is life happens. What you thought would happen at High School graduation when you were first starting High School likely won't be what happens. Or happened. When I was younger I figured by now I'd have a husband, a nice house, and kids. I've a house, a cat, and no children. When I started high school I was planning to go into the sciences, more specifically genetics. Life happened and I don't have a degree in science or any fancy letters after my name. Hell, I figured I'd be a best selling novelist by this time and, yeah, no.

Why is this important? The same concept occurring in your story makes your story more interesting. What are these minor setbacks called? Subplots. How many do you need? Enough to make life interesting and as with most novel concepts: there is no set number on how many subplots you need.

What you do need is one main plot or conflict: defeat the bad guy. How many subplots do you need with this? Well, there could be a romantic interest (one). Your hero might not know how to defeat the bad guy (two). Your hero's sibling could be kidnapped (three). Your hero might have to find the bad guy. (Four)...You see where I'm going with this?

The fun part is there could be conflicts within those subplots. The love interest of your hero might be working for the bad guy (one-a). The hero might have to find a special relic to defeat the bad guy and learn how to use said relic (two a and two b). Your hero's sibling could be part of a bigger problem (three a) Your bad guy might be able to travel between four different worlds (four a, b, c, and d). You see how subplots can get complicated?

The job of your subplots is to make your main plot more interesting. This usually means things are going to get complicated for your character but that's okay. Complicated is good just, try not to go overboard. We don't need two romantic love interests, six different relics needing to be combined in a certain way at a certain time in order to defeat your bad guy, multiple family members being killed, kidnapped or otherwise causing distractions, and a bad guy who's always on the move all in one novel. Spread that out in a series if you're going to get so complex.

That's the other fun thing about subplots. When you are doing a series you can have new ones appear for each book or one continue over multiple books. Some might start in book 3 and end in book 6. Another might start with book 1 and end in book 5.

Do you have to tie up every subplot in every book? Yes, again, not in serials. Every subplot must be resolved before you write THE END though. If not your reader will throw the book across the room and ask what the hell happened to X? Then they'll bug you until X is resolved and that's not fun for anyone involved.

Remember, subplots are little mini-stories attached to the main story that make the story more real, interesting, and drive the main plot. Do they have to make sense right away? Nope. But they MUST have something to do with the main story. Don't throw in a love interest just because, hey romance. Said love interest should be bringing something to the main story line.

Subplots move the story forward, keep the reader's interest, give some more information about what's going on in the story, and make sense in the world of your story. They provide little battles to the main war. You don't need thousands of them but you do need a few to keep things moving along nicely. Again: there's no set number for the amount of subplots you need to have. It all depends on your story.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I have issues, no really

I know everyone says they have issues but I've been officially diagnosed with issues. My issues happen to be so severe that I get to take a month off work so the medication they gave me can kick in and so I don't freak out and jump off a bridge. No, really.

Yesterday I tried to go into work. Note, the tried. I got up, ate breakfast, brushed my cat (it's our morning ritual now), chilled for a bit, got dressed, and headed out. I made it to the parking lot and was parking my car when I hit the breaks, burst into tears then took off.

Where did I take off to? The cemetery where my parents are entombed. I sat with them for about two hours until I got hungry. Cemetery bathrooms are gross by the way. Anyway, I headed down to the shopping mall for food and promptly went to my doctor's office. Why? Because on my way back home I wanted to drive my car off a bridge.

Why? To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. I've always had darker thoughts and most of the time I can translate them into my writing and everything's good. It hasn't been working for a few years now but most of the time I can take a day off, cry it all out, and be done with till the next time I kind of cracked. This time, I broke. I couldn't fix it on my own.

My doctor referred me to the urgent care area in the hospital. I got to talk to an RN who specialized in mental issues about everything that's bugging me. No I'm not going to go into detail here mainly because it will reveal things about my location and my family life that I don't want to delve into for personal reasons.

The basics is I'm exceptionally unhappy with my life in general. I don't sleep well. I'm not enthused about anything (even writing) anymore. I hate my job. I hate the way my life has ended up. I hate myself. I want to go to sleep and not have to wake up to face the shit-hole that has become my life.

This is not where I wanted to be at this point in time. I had everything (or at least most of it) planned out. I had a way to get there. Then the train came off the track and I had no idea how to get it on the right path again. I still don't know how to get everything where it's supposed to go.

I think most of it comes from this cloud hanging over me, that has been hanging over me, for the better part of a decade. I don't think I'm worth it so I kind of hide out in this little corner and hang on the fringes of life. I don't want to cling to scraps anymore. I want to get out there and have a life, including marketing and publishing my novels but I don't feel like I'm good enough. I feel useless. I feel inadequate. There's no point in trying because it's not going to work anyway. I never have enough money and I'm so deep in debt I don't feel like I'll ever get back out.

So the RN got the emergency doctor to talk to me just to make sure I wasn't actually going to drive off a bridge or take a bottle of pills. I wasn't. I obviously didn't. The psychiatrist then spoke to me and prescribed me a month off work and two different kin of pills. One is a general anti-depressant/relaxant that I take every day and the other is a take-as-needed relaxant. I also got a few sheets of papers for referrals to grief counselling as well as therapists I can talk to. On Monday someone's going to be calling so they can make arrangements to come check on me through the month.

Thankfully the pills weren't too expensive because I had to pay for them out of pocket since my medical didn't kick in yet at work. Yes, even though I'm in Canada I still have to pay for my medication if I have no benefits through work. OHIP does cover some stuff but not this. Yes I do get a reduced rate (I'm sure) because I'm on a sort of benefit through the government but the pills were not free.

Anyway, I took the first one today. I know they say the pills aren't supposed to be working right away (about 3-5 weeks) but I don't feel like bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. I don't feel like ending it. I actually made a necklace today which I haven't done in months. I also felt disconnected. Kind of like I'm wasn't fully attached to my body. To be honest I think I was a little high. That feeling's gone now but man it was strong this morning. Right now I want to take a nap. And my mouth/throat has been really dry all day.

Oddly enough I feel like I could handle working. Do I want to go back? Nope. You can bet your life I'll be using at least part of this month to find a different job. The other part will be spent on novel writing, jewellery making, advertising Avalora, and reading.

I know I had a month off in January but it wasn't really a month off. I was freaking out about finding a job, worrying about training for the job I did get, and generally panicking about every little thing. Now? Eh, not so much.

Yes I'm still worried about money but it's at the back of my head. I know I have something coming to me Friday and I might not get sick leave benefits right away but I'll get something. I still have a job when I go back after a month. There are other issues and concerns which were bugging me (and still have the potential to bother me) but again: not an issue.

The concerns still need to be addressed of course but they aren't a horrifying monster that's going to bite my head off. They're more a bug I have to gather the courage to crush.

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