Reading outside of my usual genres and getting over myself.
I decided to read a genre I’ve never read before: Romance. I cheated a bit, and went for Paranormal Romance, which, I think is another way to say Fantasy. I guess paranormal is used to avoid confusion. Fantasy means swords and sorcery, but Fantasy Romance is redundant. I guess. What the fuck do I know? Then there is Contemporary Fantasy, and Urban Fantasy, which might mean the same thing. I don’t know. I’m not claiming to be an expert.
Fortunately, I follow a lot of authors on Twitter, independent and otherwise, so there was no shortage to choose from. A lot of the paranormal romance authors seem to specialize in either vampires or dragon shifters. Lots and lots of dragon shifters. I mean, you can’t even swing a dead werewolf and not hit a dragon shifter. And if there are vampires, werewolves aren’t far away. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I can see the romantic potential of all three species, but, if I was going outside of my Sci-Fi/Fantasy comfort zone, I wanted to go all the way.Continue reading →
I found a writing game on Twitter called #SlapDashSat. You can search the hashtag, or, check out the main page @SlapDashSat. There is no theme, no rules, just free form writing. Just whatever happens to cross your mind at the moment.
A lot of what I read reminded me of conversations from a Tarantino movie. You know what I mean. The conversations where the characters just seem to be bullshitting to pass the time. I like Tarantino movies, so, I figured, what the hell.
And then my mind went blank.
I turned to my trusty fortune cookie fortune collection and found this gem:
Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when stuff happens.
I thought of a quick scene. I’ll admit it: I didn’t go straight to Twitter with my scene. I roughed it out, did some editing, walked away from it, came back, cut some stuff, rinse and repeat. I got the scene into a form I liked and went with it.
"Guess my mind's just wandering tonight," he says. She looks at his ring. "Wandering anywhere but home?" "Might as well. No one else is there. My wife's off playing Mother Theresa for her brother and sister-in-law."#SlapDashSat#writerstable
"Something like that. Most of her relatives are afraid if I'm alone with those two, I'll wait for them to fall asleep and smother them with their pillows." She chokes on the last drop of the Long Island, nearly spitting it out.#amwriting
Brevity escaped me that day. Ah, well. Some people liked it. That’s cool. I posted it late in the evening, so, some of the likes didn’t come in until the next Saturday. That’s cool, too. I tried it and I liked it and I’ll try it again.
And I encourage you to check out the game @SlapDashSat.
P.S Wakelet failed me. If you know of another app to put Twitter post collections into WordPress, please share in the comments.
In which I learn about Arcs and start to discover maybe stars aren’t for me.
I wrote another book review. This was an interesting situation. I received an email describing an opportunity to get an ARC of a book. I learned that ARC stands for Advanced Review Copy. Authors and publishers send out ARCs to get reviews before the book is released.
I answered the email and got a few choices of which book I wanted to read. I went with “Discarded” by Michael J. Allen, an urban fantasy.
I wasn’t done yet. I was asked for a link to previous reviews I have written. I sent them a link to my Goodreads page. They must have liked what they saw, because a couple of days later, I received my copy of the book.
My apologies to Mr. Allen. I was able to get the review up in Goodreads and Amazon on August 2nd, but, the book released on July 26th.
A main character you won’t soon forget.
The series title, “Dumpstermancer,” alone was enough to make me want to read this e-book. I half expected a comedy, but wasn’t sure. I was intrigued, to say the least.
In a world where you can have a gourmet meal kit delivered, corporate magic seems like the next logical step. Mistakes happen, and the Glamour spell from Thoth is not exempt.
Eli is an engaging character. I’m not sure if I like him, but I definitely won’t forget him anytime soon. A homeless ex-con who was wrongly imprisoned, Eli is brave and has a good heart, but, he is so darn stubborn, I found myself often frustrated with him. And I wasn’t alone. Frustration with Eli’s stubbornness often extends to his allies. Sunny, who runs a homeless shelter, has a heart of gold and the patience of a saint, but, even she reaches her breaking point when it comes to Eli’s nature. I identified most with Kenrith and the Rhett’s, fey rodents and Eli’s would be protectors. On several occasions, the Rhett’s were ready to turn on Eli, and as the reader, I couldn’t say I blamed them.
Don’t get me wrong: Eli is a good character. He’s just so well written, parts of his personality that tick off other characters tend to overflow to the reader. I think that is quite an accomplishment.
Michael J. Allen wrote the book in first person, and I think he did an excellent job. I would have liked more details about the different magics. Too many details about the hows and whys, though, may have come off as an info dump and broke the immersion. I prefer a good story and being left with my own mysteries to solve. The use of magic is very smooth and drives the story.
In short, “Discarded” is a very good read, and I am keeping an eye out for the sequel.
Full disclosure, I received this book as an Advance Review Copy.
I’m not sure if the star-system of rating books is working well for me. You may have noticed I give everything I review 5 stars. If I liked the book, why not give it 5 stars?
I can’t see a reason to give something one star. If the books not for me, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. And how do you decide between a three-star and a four-star rating? And what does a two-star rating mean?
I either like a book or I don’t. If I don’t, I probably won’t finish the book, and that’s not fair to the author.
I can see a one-star if the book is just horribly written. I even have one book in mind, that possibly had a good story hidden somewhere underneath all the crap writing. I have to ask, though, is just giving it a one-star rating helping the author grow, or am I just getting revenge for wasting my time.
If I’m going to keep reviewing books, I’m going to have to discipline myself to finish a book, no matter how much I don’t like it, and then find something constructive to say, not destructive.
And I just re-read what I just wrote, and can’t help but think, “What an arrogant bastard.”
I need to put more thought into this. Please comment if you have any tips.
A Good Workout for the Brain
I’m glad I read “The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks.” It’s good to be reminded that Science Fiction encompasses sciences beyond space exploration.
David S. Sparks is a puzzle of a character. This could have been confusing, but the writing takes you along for the ride with David. The pacing keeps the story moving as the pieces fall in place. The reader may find themselves questioning what is going on, or, what is going to happen next, but never confused to the point of being completely lost.
The world building of future Earth is logical. The setting reminded me of a series that ran on The History Channel called “Life After People.” The reader can tell Earth has changed in a manner that could possibly happen without being smacked over the head by the extremes of a future that is too bright or too dark. A Goldilocks setting that becomes another character.
In short, “The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks” is an enjoyable read that is engaging on many levels.
For some odd reason, my polling place changed. Whatever, it was only a little bit farther than where I used to go to vote, so no biggie. And besides, the poll is close to Mission BBQ, and any excuse to go to Mission BBQ is valid.
I pull into the lot of my polling place, and all I can think is “same actors, new stage.” Just a bunch of volunteers running around the lot, trying to stuff literature into your hand. When you get inside the door, there is a big barrel full of said literature. What a fucking waste. Maybe if politicians didn’t waste so much cash on literature, they wouldn’t have to accept so many contributions and bribes to run a campaign.
Voting itself was uneventful. I got my ballot, filled it out, and ran it through the scanner in probably less than 7 minutes. Of course, Tuesday is one of my days off during the week, so, your mileage may vary.
As I was leaving the multipurpose room used for voting, I felt my shoe come untied. I steered my way to a folding chair to tie it and was approached by one of the poll workers.
“Excuse me, sir. It seems your right shoe has come untied.”
He reminded me of Justin Wilson, the Cajun cook who used to have a show on PBS. He even had a bit of a southern drawl, not quite Cajun, but close enough for jazz. He entertained me with a story while I retied my shoe.
“I was downtown a couple weeks ago, on jury duty at the Justice Center, when I saw a man with a shoe untied. I mentioned it to him, and he turned on me and gave me a few choice words I can’t use in polite company. He went up a flight of stairs, and wouldn’t you know it, when he got to the top step, he tripped on the shoe lace I warned him about, fell down all 12 steps, and broke his ankle.”
I chuckled. “Good for him. Sounds like karma worked that day.”
“I told him, right before the paramedics arrived, maybe he won’t need that lace anymore if they have to cut the shoe to fix your foot.”
We shared another laugh at the other guy’s expense. I thanked him for brightening my day with his story, shook his hand, and went on my way.
It’s one thing to just ignore somebody and keep walking after an innocuous warning about something like an untied shoelace. But to actually take the time to cuss out somebody, just because they were looking out for you?
I may be tempting karma, but I still can’t help but smile when I think of that story.
Back in April, I tried Camp Nanowrimo. I figured, why not? I tried Nanowrimo this past November, as I have in a few previous Novembers. I think 2012 was the first time. I knocked out a few scenes, maybe 4000 words, but that was it. I quickly learned I am not a “pantser” — someone who writes by the seat of their pants with no plan.
I’ve tried Nanowrimo a couple of times since, mostly just to frustrate myself, and remind myself that the Nanowrimo style just isn’t for me.
And I just realized some of you may not know what I’m talking about. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to pace yourself, write every day, and churn out a 50,000-word first draft of your novel. Come up short on the daily world goal? Just make up for it the next day. Miss today? Double up the next day. It sounds simple. Deceivingly simple. I would get off to a strong start for a few days, then miss a day. Knockout another day, then miss a few more. From there, it would snow ball.
Camp Nanowrimo happens in April, and you can design your own challenge. Basically, choosing your own word counts. They also have “cabins,” where you get matched up with other writers to encourage and assist. I never got to that part.
I did set a modest goal of 10,000 words, but rather than write one piece, I would set mini goals. Four blog posts, journaling, a short short fiction, and maybe even start a short story. My main problem with the Nanowrimo format is I am a lousy typist. I prefer to write free hand, and then dictate into Scrivener. Then I get all analytical with myself, thinking I’m using the same words twice, wasting time I could be using to write more free hand. Dictating is much faster than me trying to type, and I tend to self-edit less while trying to get a first draft. Still, I feel like I’m repeating my work rather than moving on. Then I get frustrated and stop.
I didn’t do too bad in April. I got 2 of the 4 blog posts posted. I did start the short short fiction. I journaled a lot, which may have eaten up a good portion of the word count, but I don’t know because I never dictated the journals to get a word count. In the end, it was no big deal, since I only updated my word count twice.
And I left something out.
I started talking to myself as I write free hand. And it tends to get dictated.
A short rant from my personal journal, December 31, 2017, edited to resemble English.
My brother gave me “The Whisky Enthusiast” sample box for Christmas. The box contains a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red scotch, Crown Royal Canadian whisky, and Bulleit bourbon. I poured myself a little drink before I started journaling today. I didn’t want to open the Crown, and my hands were too dry to get the scotch open, so, I went with the bourbon.
I read a couple of websites about Scotch and bourbon, mostly about how to drink it. To be honest, the most I’ve ever done with whisky is shots, and those went so fast, I never learned to appreciate the flavor. If there was any. All I knew was the burn. So, bourbon it was.
I knew “neat” meant straight, room temperature, and “on the rocks” meant over ice. On the rocks didn’t seem like a clever idea if I wanted to try to find the flavor, with all that ice melting. Then I read about adding a little water. Enthusiasts seem to like this preparation, at least on the 2 websites I read, so I decided to give it a try. From what I understand, the water helps reduce some unwanted flavors that can come with wood aged liquors and enhances wanted flavors. Apparently, I’m an enthusiast, at least according to the box, so I put a little water in a rocks glass, and 2 fingers of the Bulleit bourbon.
I like the idea fingers, plenty of opportunities for humor with the finger concept. Of course, it depends on the audience. If a dude asks for 2 fingers, I can just flip him a double bird. Lots of laughs. “I’m telling you, Jerry, it’s the best Jerry, the best!” Have I mentioned ever mentioned I like Seinfeld?
So far, I’ve only had a few sips. My tongue and belly have a nice warmth going on. I probably still have half of the to drink to go. Where was I? Ah, yes.
Fingers. Some good comedy potential if other dudes are involved, but comedy goes out the window in the ladies are involved, although there is still a lot of potential. ” May offer you 2 fingers?” and hold the bottle up for her to see. I’m no expert, but, I think you’ll know right away if the conversation is worth pursuing after that move. Of course, you could get slapped. At least you tried.
It’s the 21st century — no reason the woman can’t be the pursuer. “You gotta couple of fingers for thirst girl?” Give her a quick once over, and you either grab the bottle, or flip her a bird. At least she doesn’t have to worry about being slapped. Yeah, that’s wrong. Chances are you’ll be grabbing a bottle. No flipping or slapping, unless you’re a douche. And if you are a douche, chances are people know it already, and you don’t have to worry about making decisions about buying a girl a drink or flipping her off.
I think I just found some of the attitude and general outlook on life for one of my characters.