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Posted in info, Reading

Review of Three Dark Crowns.

My apologies that I haven’t posted in months. I’ve had some very serious health problems that have been commanding my attention.  While I’m going to try to come back for an occasional blog post, it’s not going to be like I used to.

Anyway, review for the book “Three Dark Crowns” By Kendare Blake. I saw this book at B&N and decided to give it a read.

So, here’s the story.  Every generation, on the Island of Fennbirn, a set of Princess triplets are born, and all have an equal claim to the crown. Each one has a power as well, one can control the elements, one can ingest poisons and one have plant-like abilities. But since only one can be Queen, the night that they turn sixteen, they have a deadly game and last one standing wins.

Sounds pretty interesting right? But for some reason, the author decided to stretch this into two books. This is honestly a one book idea, someone (her or the publishing house) said we need to make this longer! And that’s really what hurts it.

In the beginning, we’re introduced to the three sisters. They have been separated for the past decade, they’re training. It’s very soon to their 16th birthday. I was really excited, I wanted to see how triplets would react to being forced to try and kill each other.

But instead of getting to that interesting, the book goes into chapter after chapter after chapter of just sitting around and talking scenes, or worse, romantic scenes. I don’t care about which sister ends up with random hot guy or childhood hot guy friend! Honestly, if I was in that world, I wouldn’t even try to date one until she’s actually queen. Don’t fall in love with someone who could die soon!

The other big problem I had with this book is it’s very minor character heavy. Each girl is separated from her sisters, so they all have their own cast of side characters. The problem is, they’re all very flat and there’s so little to distinguish them from others. At some points, it’s like white noise because I have no idea who the heck these people are.

It’s not that I can’t handle complex books, I’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire (The book series that Game Of Thrones is based off) and those books are extremely complex. But the characters there are memorable, here, most are one dimensional and dull.

Another problem the book has is the characters had weird names, like Arsinoe. I had to look that up to make sure I spelled correctly and I’m not even sure if I’m pronouncing it right. Remember the K.I.S.S rule, keep it simple, stupid.

To be fair, the last 10% of the book is a bit interesting and it leaves on a twist cliffhanger for the next book, but I honestly don’t think I’ll read it. I’d bet money it’s not going to be about one killing the other two, it will be about the three of them banding together to decide that this is barbaric and stopping this whole killing game thing.

My advice, read another fantasy book. I get that she was trying really hard to make a dark, high-fantasy romp, but there’s too many problems here. 3/10 stars.

~Ames

Posted in info, Reading

Book review: Shatter me

I haven’t had a good rant in a long time, so here we go. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (who interestingly enough is married to Ransom Riggs, the author of the Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children’s series.)

I did not like this book.

To make things clear, I didn’t hate this book. If I truly hate a book or find it boring, I’d put it down and not pick it back up. I certainly wouldn’t finish it (and then read the next two books in the series). So since I finished these books, I didn’t hate them. But they are nowhere near my favorite book list and I got frustrated several times while reading.

So here’s the plot. (some spoilers) The planet is dying and government has fallen, something called the reestablishment has taken over. At first, it seemed like a good idea to help due to the irregular weather patterns, the fact that animals and crops are dying like crazy and that people aren’t doing so well. But of course, they’re actually taking over in bad ways/

Enter main character, Juliette, a 17 year old. She has a strange power, where her touch is deadly and anyone who comes in contact with her will die. She accidentally killed a little boy three years ago, everything thinks she’s dangerous now and has been tossed in an asylum.  The novel starts with her locked away tight, half insane and hasn’t spoken to a person in many months. A handsome guy with dark hair is put inside her cell with her-named Adam and they start a friendship that you know will turn into a romance.

She is instantly in love. Also turns out the two of them knew each other as children and while they never once spoke, they loved each other secretly. It also turns out Adam can touch her without dying.

This all turns out to be a ruse of the leader of this city’s Reestablishment, army thing Warner, who is a 19  and crazy obsessed with Juliette. Adam is a soldier, but Juliette and Adam find a way to start a secret romance and make plans to escape. Along the way they meet another soldier named Kenji (By far my favorite character) and he get’s roped along for the ride.

But then they learn Warner can touch her as well! Dun dun dun.

I’ll first talk what I like.

Kenji. I wish he was the main character and Juliette was not. Without giving the ending away, he has a double agenda and actually has a personality. Even after reading three books about these characters, he’s really the only one who stands out. He’s funny, has a snarky mouth, swears constantly and has a knack for getting himself into trouble.

He’s the reason I didn’t put this book down. If he hadn’t been in the book, I prob would of stopped reading.

I also liked the (bit) of world building the book did and really wanted more. I’m still not sure exactly where in the world they are. I wanted more history and more about what happened and how this all came to be. Lot of missed potential.

Alright, now what I don’t like.

The writing. Holy crap, someone really needed to sit this lady down and have a serious talk with her. The writing is way too overdone and is full of stuff like this.

“My jaw is hanging from my shoelace.”

“My eyelashes trip into my eyebrows; my jaw drops into my mouth.”

“He leans back against the couch. Runs a free hand over his face. Seasons change. Stars explode. Someone is walking on the moon.”

To be fair, she does have a few that are poetic and lovely. But when there’s three or four every page (and half of them don’t even make sense!) it’s very tiresome.

Except for Kenji, the characters are really… bland and annoying. I don’t understand how Kenji is so awesome and the rest are so annoying.

Adam is the typical nice guy (at least until book three when suddenly aliens take over his body and he goes complete OOC) He’s described as having beautiful blue eyes and is instantly in love with her.

Warren, the leader (which as someone from a military family and knows a lot about the military, I find it so weird that they let a random 19 year old kid be in charge. But whatever) Is described as being “inhumanly handsome” (which makes me grit my teeth. I really hate it when author’s force us to believe their characters are the most beautiful things ever.) and has piercing green eyes. Again, he is obsessed in love with Juliette and wants to make her into a weapon.

He hardly tries to do this. Instead he dressed her in pretty clothes and calls her love and makes her sleep in a large beautiful bed. Yes, he does try to make her touch people a few times and does threaten Adam, but for the most part just talks like a cheese-ball Bond villain.

This could of been interesting. I wish he hadn’t been in love with her and spent his time actively trying to make her into a weapon. But no. He’s too busy smirking and being a “bad boy.”

And then there’s the main character. I didn’t care for her very much. She doesn’t have much personality. Warner describes her as feisty early on, but I have no idea why he does. She’s broken and scared, like the opposite of  feisty. When they actually escapes, she tries to help out, but until then, she just sits around and waits for Adam to rescue her.

I love love characters who start out as broken and grow and change. But man, I dislike her so much. In the second book, I wanted to slap the crap out of her multiple times.

Then finally, this is said to be dystopian romance, but it’s more romance with a touch of  dystopia in the background. Even before I read the second and third one, I could tell its setting up a love triangle. Juliette feels a spark toward Warner.

To sum one, one half baked idea, tons and tons of romance, one great character and a bunch of boring ones. I would not really recommend. Unless sudden romance where their lives are in danger, but they stop to kiss instead of running for their lives is your thing.

It’s not really mine.

 

Posted in info, Reading

Book Review: I hunt Killers

I hunt killers By Barry Lyga. Without a doubt, this is one of my personal favorite YA books.

I hunt killers is the story of Jasper Dent, a 17 year old who grew up the only son of the world’s most famous serial killer. Everyday was a lesson on how to kill, manipulate, torture and blend in. When he was 13 year old, his father was caught and thrown into jail. Now, four years later, dead bodies have started showing up again and everything is looking toward Jazz. And Jazz is desperate to prove that he isn’t turning into his father 2.0

This is such a great story because it has such a great main character. Jazz is locked into a constant war with himself in desperately trying not to become his father and overcome his dad’s terrible brainwashing. He has a legitimate fear that he will someday snap and kill someone, without even meaning to. Even worse, everyone around him is half expecting that as well.

That’s pretty terrifying.

The second part of what makes this book so good is the writing. Now I’m not going to rave and say this guy is the best writer of the 21st century, but this writing feels real. It feels exactly like a teenage boy would sound. He doesn’t sound seem too old or do anything odd like an adult would sometimes do. He’s still kid.

And the plot is great. Jazz feels like he needs to give back and help out because of his father, so when the dead bodies start coming, he does his best to help the police out. There are a few parts that it feels a bit forced that the police would share certain info and details with a 17 year old kid, but it’s still a good story. It quickly becomes a thrilling race to figure out the pattern before the next person is killed.

If I did have a gripe (a minor one) it would be that Jazz is a bit too… much at time. he’s a bit too smart, a bit too good of a liar and a bit too good at manipulation. It seems practically everyone falls under his charms when he wants something. I do feels like it’s a bit much at times, but it never annoyed me enough that I put the book down.

And the ending is great. Yes, it sets up the next book (Game) which sets up the next book (Blood of my blood) But both are great and make for a lovely trilogy.  While Jazz has a girlfriend, there’s hardly any romantic plot in this at all.

And for someone who really hates it when the main characters puts important stuff on hold to figure out if their S.O wants to make out or cuddle or something, I really really appreciate that.

Highly recommend. This book is a bloody and gory in parts. It’s about serial killers and there are a lot of deaths. (It makes you a bit worried about the author’s mind) But over all, a great read.

~Ames

Posted in ideas

The plot bunnies that just won’t stop

Oh man, I haven’t posted for almost three weeks. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been really busy. This is partly true, as I did finish another manuscript last week (woot!) But I’ve also just been a bit lazy.

Anyway,

I’ll tell the truth, if I walked past you down the street, I probably wouldn’t even notice you.

(Unless of course you were doing something crazy. But then, only maybe) Mostly because I’m the kind of person who’s always lost in thought and as others say, have my head off in the clouds a lot.

It’s mostly because I have several books worth of characters (and sometimes characters who aren’t even mine) up in my head and demanding my attention. From the minute I wake up until I moment I go back to sleep. They are the plot bunnies and the characters who just won’t shut up.

Sometimes I think the only way I can get them to stop is to just sit down and write it all out. Seems to be the only way that really works.

Otherwise, everyone upstairs just sits up there and yaps until I’m half insane. ^^

As I’ve heard before, writing is only paid insanity. It sure seems that way sometimes. We are all just paid to listen to voices and then write them out. The characters do feel very real sometimes.

I really do hope I’m not the only person who has this problem of plot bunnies that just won’t go away. For me, sometimes I have ideas that go on for years and years before I can get rid of them.

On another note, this last week was a one year mark for me. I’m very happy and pleased. Very much looking forward to the next year and many more to come.

Thanks for reading!

~Ames

Posted in Uncategorized

Here we go again.

Wow, it’s been quite a week. Work and then I managed to twist my ankle. Thankfully, it’s not real bad, but still been sore. (It would of been really bad if I had hurt my hands so I couldn’t type.)

So, I’m starting to think a lot of my new blog posts are going to be based off conversations I have with my beta.

Because sometimes I agree with what they say and sometimes, I’m more like… No. But to be safe, I want to get a few other writer’s opinion.

So here we go.

In the scene, there’s two male characters (we’ll call them Joe and Bill). This is how the sentence goes.

“Joe stepped into the room carefully. “Bill,” He greeted with narrowed eyes.”

As the beta responded to this,  The basic rule with pronouns is: They describe the last proper noun. The way this sentence is put together, Bill is saying his own name. I think you mean Joe is saying it.

I personally don’t think so, as I establish in the first sentence that Joe is the speaker. And very rarely do people just say their own name just because.

Anyway, I’m always just curious to hear what other people think.  Does it make sense that Joe is the speaker here? I Mostly want to know because I like a third opinion in life and I think it works out way better that.

~Ames

Posted in ideas, writing

Nanowrimo

It’s coming! Like Winter!

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s National Novel Writing month. Where you pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November, or about 1660 words a day.

Which is a lot of words D:

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but I sadly have a job where I work over 80 hours a week (and sometimes closer to 100) and usually average around 20,000 words a month, if I’n lucky. I tried telling my boss I’d have to work less hours so I can write more, but that didn’t really fly with them.

And since I can’t sacrifice anymore hours of sleep without loosing any sanity, I will not be able to precipitate this year.

However, I do know that some day, there will be a time where I will have a more flexible schedule and will be able to tackle this monster of a project. I find it kinda interesting. You don’t revise or edit along the way (which is something I’m bad about doing. Even in the middle of my first draft.)

You just write! And then once you’ve hit your word count at the end of the month, you sit back, sigh a big sigh of relief, take a little break and then start working on editing your little monster.

Because let’s be real, it’s going to be a huge mess after all that free writing.

So yeah. While I’m not doing it, I’d love to know if anyone else is, or if you’ve done it before. Let me know and have a good day =)

~Ames

Posted in ideas, info, writing

The Ernest Hemingway house

Hello all!

From my last post, I said I was bunking down for Hurricane Matthew. Because I wasn’t on the coast, I didn’t get hit as hard as some did and am completely okay. Let the posts continue!

Anyway, as some people know, I also have a travel blog, where I  (obviously) blog about the places I’ve gone and what I’ve seen. This post is a little bit of a crossover between the two.

About a month ago, I had family come to visit me and we went down to Key West. While I was there, I went to the Ernest Hemingway home and omg, it was incredible. I enjoyed it so much, I just had to share.

This is the entrance to the house, from across the street.

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Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist who wrote ten novels, ten short story collections and five non-fiction works. Many of these are considered classics. He bought this house in the 1930’s. Several of his novels were written here.

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There was just something completely magical about being here. As a writer and a reader, I really admire Hemingway’s work. He wrote with deep and powerful love of the English language and still holds a record for best debut novel. Almost 100 years after it’s publication.

My favorite part of the entire thing was his private writing studio. It’s not connected to the house, it’s like a very small apartment in the backyard. You go up some stairs to get to it. They don’t let you inside, as it’s exactly the same as the way he left it, the last time he was in Key West

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You can’t see it, but I’m holding the camera between bars on the door that keep everyone out. But just a beautiful, lovely room. And yes, one of the cats is taking a little nap. Don’t blame him at all, it was a very hot afternoon.

Around the garden’s, there’s a lot of signs about Hemingway and the different parts of the mansion.

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Hemingway loved cats. There was 54 cats on the premise and all the descendant of his first cat, Snowball. They are everywhere, some are friendly, some are not.

We probably spent a little over an hour seeing everywhere. If I had had my way, I probably would have wanted to bring my laptop along with me and tried to get inspired to write a bit while there. Sadly, it was too hot and we had other things to do. A shame.

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This is a view from the balcony in the front, looking down. In my pictures, it look like there aren’t a lot of people there, but there was actually a good number. That’s why I didn’t get any pictures of the inside of the house. It was so crowded, I couldn’t get any good pictures.

Here’s his pool in the backyard. It’s said he put one penny down in the tile around it as “His last cent” went into it. I looked, but couldn’t find it.

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Anyway, enough of me nerding out. It was really beautiful and if you get the chance the go, I highly recommend it.

As the tour guide put it, the spirit of Key West just seems to heavily inspire writers. I can’t confirm if this is true or not, but who knows? =)

Thanks for reading!

~Ames

Posted in ideas, publishing, writing

Query letters.

 

Hello all!

This might be my last post for a little while. While I am not in the direct path of hurricane Matthew, we are expecting to get a lot of wind and rain, starting soon. Hopefully, it won’t be too bad, but we are prepared just in case.

Anyway, recently I’ve been working on a query letter for the novel I want to publish first. I’m not ready to start sending out querys, but I’ve been preparing one all the same.

For me, query letters aren’t that hard (although Synopsis terrify me). I’ve spent a lot of time on query shark (Highly recommend) and the rules seem pretty straight forward. There’s a lot of little hints and such, but here are the main things.

One page in length

Introduce the main character and the problems they face.

Do not talk about more then the first act of the book.

So taking all of these into consideration, I’ve compiled a letter.

Dear _________

Casimer Sutten has known for a long time there’s something wrong with him, even if he can’t quite pinpoint exactly what.

He’s had anxiety attacks since he was a child.

Then off and on again depression started a few years ago when his step-mother died.

Now intrusive and dangerous thoughts are really starting to frighten him. He can’t get them out of his head, no matter how hard he tries.

There’s one thing he’s sure of, high school is about blending in, not standing out. If there’s something wrong with him, he’ll be labeled a freak and an outcast.

Casimer’s doing his best to simply finish his senior year. By some miracle, he might have a girlfriend, but not if Samantha learns about the major problems he’s trying to hide.

Family issues at home with his new step-mother are complicating his situation. Casimer is becoming desperate and feels alone. Sometimes, he wonders if living like this is worth the trouble.

I DON’T KNOW IF I’M OKAY (working title) is a multiple point of view novel told from both Samantha’s and Casimer’s Perspective. It is complete at XXX words and available in part or in full, upon request.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

~~~~~

What do you guys think?

Posted in ideas, info, writing

Inside the writing

I was recently thinking about what my next post would be about when I stumbled onto something interesting about Mary Higgins Clark

A lot of people have read books by her, she’s known as the Queen of Suspense. I was in high school when I first read her book “Two Little Girls in Blue.” It’s a unique and well written book.

What amazed me though, is this.

She once said that when she’s writing, she’ll write a chapter and then immediately send it to her editor. As in, her work is so good on the first try, she doesn’t need to revisit or revise it at all.

Like holy crap, that is talent.

I think this amazes me because I’m not like this at all. My first drafts are awful, sometimes the scenes aren’t even complete yet. A lot of times, I just have the main part, or the meat of the scene in my head at first. So if it’s a fight or a certain argument, I’ll write that part first. Then, I’ll come back later (sometimes much later) and add in the intro or the transition into that part of the chapter.

Then, in the rare times that I pump out an entire chapter at once, it’s still usually not very good yet. It will take a few round of edits and smoothing things out before I’m pleased with it. I’ve had chapters that I had to rewrite the entire chapter several times, or that just needed extreme amount of editing. I stopped counting after the 6th.

So the fact that this lady can just write out a beautiful chapter in one go and turn it is just astounding. Maybe it’s because she’s been doing this for a long time? Does after a while, it get easier to write a first draft?

Because if there’s a secret, I’d sure like to know it.

Is anyone else like this, or are we all writing crappy first drafts?

~Ames

 

Posted in info, writing

The discipline to finish.

I know so many people who start projects.  They’re very easy to start. An idea takes place in the mind and you just get so excited. I know I do. Then you want to sit down and pound away at the keyboard as everything whirls away in your mind.

Except something happens.

After a month, that stellar little idea doesn’t seem so great anymore. Plus if you still work a day job like I do, then sometimes it can be hard to come home form work and pound away at that novel. Especially when you’re tired and crabby and sick of people.

Add in all the other stress of life and man, these books are hard to finish.

It’s easy to start a project. I could probably start about fifteen tonight alone. But it’s a lot harder to have the discipline to sit down and finish one, really finish one.

As writers, we really need someone or something to hold us accountable. Because I’m pretty sure everyone knows that person who took years or even decades to finish a single book. Which, I’m not attacking people’s writing speed, but if you’re taking ten years to write a single book, then….

This is why, I’m really big on deadlines. Self set deadlines.

Now, I don’t have an agent or an editor who calls and bugs me to keep writing. I do have a few betas who want to know what’s going to happen next, but they are also pretty busy themselves. If I decide one day to just hang up the towel, no one will cry at this point.

But what I do know, is to set deadlines for myself. And even though I’m the only one who knows about them, they really help.

For instance, the book I’m currently working on, I’m almost at 55K words (Or about 130 pages.) I know I’m over half way done and how much story I have left to write, but I not quiet say exactly how long it’s going to be.

I also know that Game of Thrones season 6 comes out on Blu-ray in November (It’s late September when I wrote this post) and I really want to get it. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to finish the rough draft before it comes out. And if I don’t?

Then my lovely friend will be enjoying watching the epicness that is season six again without me. Because I’ll be at home slaving away over my keyboard. A sad but harsh truth.

And you know something? This really works. While I can’t write every night, I’ve been able to chip away at the novel when I can since making this goal. Because I really want season six! It gives me about seven to eight weeks to finish it.

(And yes, I’m very aware I could just download them. But I need an incentive here, okay?)

I think this is also good discipline for if and when the time comes that I do get an agent and an editor. I’ve heard many stories of how difficult it can be for an author when suddenly, they went from being able to write a book in three years, to now they have to do it in one. Because the publishing house (and more so, the fans) want that next book.

And to anyone reading this, I’m really not trying to set myself up to look like I’m a goody two-shoes. Because I’m not. I’m really not. I do however know that a lot of people set out to write a book, but get discouraged and then quit.

It’s rough, I won’t deny it.

But maybe, if they sat down, set reasonable goals and a path to get to that end result, then maybe they’d find better results.

Have a good week!

~Ames