Bad Day at the Office

There are some things you don’t expect to happen in an office job, I think standing on my desk.

“Hit it with a stick, hit it with a stick,” Marcell screams as the rabid badger attempts to demolish the safety of our desk.

IFA-00006629-001

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Writing Tip: 220#

pile-of-books

The pros and cons of indie publishing:

Pros Cons
Complete executive control over the appearance, pricing, title and other elements of your novel. Lesser access to the extensive book industry connections many publishers offer that aid promotional efforts.
Complete ownership of rights and revenue. More admin work for you than if a publisher were to share publishing responsibilities.
Control over how and where your book is distributed. Having to build all your reputation yourself (as opposed to benefitting from the existing brand visibility of being carried by a recognisable publisher).

How to Write the Perfect Mary Sue (Review)

Miao Shan The Awakening cover[906]

In 1896, on Hong Kong Island, Chow Lei witnesses the brutal murder of her parents. In order to repair the emotional damage caused, she eventually becomes a novice nun at the Shaolin Temple. There, the monks suspect that she is the young lady they have been waiting for, for 2000 years, Miao-Shan the living Goddess of Justice!

***

This book is great in its ability to teach you what not to do when writing, and I wish I could give it more praise than that but honestly it is a mess. Actually no, less of a mess more like the bare bones of a book that REALLY wants to be good but doesn’t quite know how to get there.

 

‘Basically, I’m a living Goddess.’

~Just casually say that, why not?

 

The BIG Problem.

 

The biggest problem with The Awakening is that it’s very clearly the author’s first book. There is a lot of the showing and none of the telling, which means I felt NOTHING the entire way through. Most of the characters just blurt out their name, motivation and blood type the first time we meet them.

And the tone just kept throwing me off, it clearly wants to be lower and darker with all the murder but can’t get there. It’s so bad that when the main antagonist murders fifty people and its presented so nonchalantly like it’s not meant to mean anything, nothing bad, nothing good. And that’s the sad thing, the book (ergo the author) is trying, REALLY trying, but it just isn’t any good.

The best part of this book is the legend of Miao Shan which the book didn’t even make up, it’s an existing legend. It’s the barest bones of a story that could exist. There’s a lot of dialogue with no description so I feel like the characters are just floating in space. Literally, reading it, I feel like the characters are floating in some dreamworld where no buildings or emotions actually exist. Not only that, but it is the most predictable of plot. I mean there are prophecies, prophecies! How she finds out about them, is that she randomly bumps into a guy who knows MAGICALLY who she is and what the plot is.

Everyone is a robot: spewing out their feelings without any emotions behind them, programmed to follow the plot no matter what and being put into hypothetical storage until they are needed again. Even the main character sounds like a wind-up doll: ‘I must kill bad people,’ ‘bad people must be punished’ (actual quote by the way).

The action isn’t fun either. It is just so short and vague with no tension at all, despite the fact it is meant to be the main focus. All the training scene feels like a long and boring version of a training montage before the cool music is put over top.

 

A pressing point

 

The book in parts is very sexist and yes one could say it is because of the time it is set in, but dammit it annoyed me. It’s quite sexist in the way it allows the female main character to be spoken to. The way the female main character allows herself to be spoken to is just insensitive: talking about periods as if they are a disgusting nuisance and making sure that she is dressed up pretty and beautiful despite being a teenager. And a major problem for her is that she is getting split ends, why is that important to a reincarnated Goddess?

 

‘She then proceeded to subdue the rest of the 49ers, at relatively normal speed’

~ I just think this is a funny line to share

 

Where is the Plot?

 

The plot takes forever to start and yet it still feels like a rush job. Nothing is developed properly but there is neither head-nor-tail of the villain until around the half way point. Which maybe a good thing given that in another book the main character would be the villain. A bit of a tangent but she murders enough people to fill a small city.

Anyway, the story seems to think its fast paced enough that it can completely stop in its tracks to allow our main character to buy shares and clothes. Its fine, you know half the book is action thriller, the other half is how to invest in property. But don’t worry they merge later when they start talking about the finances of guns.

And when the villain finally does show up, he is immediately killed off without build up nor actual conflict or weight. It’s like…great…I don’t care.

 

STOP DYING

 

‘I personally have grown to love you like a daughter in a very short space of time’ ~VERY short and without talking, also this is a sure-fire way to get yourself killed in a novel: admitting you love the protagonist.

I felt nothing for any of the deaths the entire away through (and believe me there were a lot). And all of the deaths are forgotten as quickly as they come by both me and the main character.

There’s no emotion to characters’ deaths, no sadness, no crying, no nothing, not even for her parents. I don’t count it as spoilers as it happens on the second page, (also in the blurb so don’t shoot me), though she quickly forgets about her brutal parents’ deaths, but I wouldn’t be too sad losing my plot-device-parents either.

A man proposes to her and they get married but I swear they have only just met each other when this happens, and then he dies. Introduced, married and dead in the same chapter. Don’t worry our main character is only a little depressed after the brutal death of her husband.

But of course, our bloodthirsty main character murders no innocent people, despite the fact she blows up several buildings, because of course she can’t have a crisis of conscience, that would add conflict!

 

How to spot a Mary Sue in the wild.

 

‘You are very special, so I’m giving you special treatment’

~The definition of a Mary Sue

 

This book is incredibly useful if you want to learn how to write a Mary Sue character, it gives a very in-depth list, which believe me, I could not fit entirely in here.

  1. Every character falls into one of two categories: unapologetically EVIL or so loving and caring towards the main character that they might as well just carry their soon-to-be-used tombstone around with them.
  2. There is no progression and conflict for the main character, it’s like the author purposely cut out the training and struggle she must go through. Everything, of course, comes naturally to her.
  3. The Mary Sue can break all the rules including CRIPPLING someone.
  4. She comes into a large inheritance out of nowhere
  5. The Mary Sue is so sad that she falls into a coma
  6. Mary Sue has magical healing powers on top of being an immortal and enteral beauty because of course she is
  7. She has a single weakness that is only brought up before the last fight

 

I have nothing else to say but… You’re* ju-just You’re*

 

***

 

It will be on sale at the following online stores:

Wrong Job

Crowds past like the days,

A maze of thoughts bombard.

I grit my teeth until I taste blood.

 

It’s a struggle, every day,

To look at slabs of walking meat,

And not take a bite.

 

To want to hear the screams,

And feel the blood running,

That flesh and fear exposed.

 

Its days like this I wonder

Why did I decide to become a masseuse?

Just Pain in a Book: Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson Review

well of ascension

Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. Three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

***

When I review books, I like to make notes as I go so I don’t forget anything that comes to mind. One of my early notes was a simple prediction: ‘this isn’t going to end well.’ And quite frankly that summarises my entire feelings towards Well of Ascension. That is not to say it wasn’t a brilliant reading, in some ways much better than the first book. Actually one of the problems I had with this book is the fact I didn’t get to write many notes because I was so busy just being glued to my kindle, telling myself, one more chapter, one more chapter.

From page one, we are back to the races, set a year after Keliser’s and the Lord Ruler’s deaths with Elend as King. And for a while I was worried this sequel was going to be a straight forward fantasy, (not that I would have really minded), but it becomes clear that Well of Ascension doesn’t forget its roots and we get back to the cunning politics and devious people. Because really that is what Final Empire was about, it had fantasy elements but it was about politics and rebellions with magic just happening to also exist. Which is what this book is too, it may well include the end of days but its really about how the Kingdom will survive.

While W of A carries over the same elements of Final Empire, it is not the same book and definitely feels like a continuation rather than a repeat. There are new character interactions that obviously, given the society in Final Empire, could never have interacted and it’s great to see these people bounce off each other in a way we’ve never seen before.

But the best thing about this book is definitely the fact I had no idea where it was headed. Usually I have a vague idea about how a book will end and where the characters are going, (I did with Final Empire), but honestly, all of my predictions were horribly wrong. In a good way though, I probably don’t read enough outside the YA genre to have read enough books with an unhappy ending. But to me it felt bold, how many bad things just keep battering our main characters down. And then when you think it’s all going swell-OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT MORE BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

‘Elend: I kind of lost track of time…
Breeze: For two hours?
Elend: There were books involved.’

~Ah the story of my life

The Good

Like I said, the book feels like a continuation and the characters feel the same, Vin especially. She is still very insecure after her life on the streets but she’s maturing and learning still, which is great (mostly) to read about. She, along with the rest of the crew are bitter for Kel’s death, still feeling its effects a year on and even though he is dead, what he did is never forgotten both the good and bad, given he’s left this horrible mess for them to fix. Yeah the Lord Ruler was evil but there was infrastructure and patrols to police bandits and now all of that is gone and it’s Kel’s fault.

The chapters are shorter which I’m grateful for, I prefer being able to have the option to read in smaller chunks.

The villains are perfect, we have quite a few and we’ll talk about Zane later but both Lord Cett and Straff are excellent in different ways. Straff is just a dick and unforgivably evil, it makes him easy to hate and I like that, I’ve read about too many complicated villains with a soul, it’s refreshing to see a straight forward bad guy. Cett definitely takes a more active antagonist role and is actually really fun to hear talk, he’s very blunt and doesn’t have any illusions about himself. I wish we had more time with the council Elend sets up, there are clearly enemies and internal battles going on there that we don’t get to see, but what we do see I like.

Anything else…oh yes, Spook continues to be the best character ever.

‘”I killed their God,” Vin said quietly […]

“I helped too,” Spook said, “I even got my nickname from Kelsier himself! But nobody cares about poor little Spook.”’

~Never change Spook, never change

The Bad

Once again, I had no idea what the hell was going on in any of the fight scenes. And given this book is like two thirds fighting and death, it becomes tiring and I end up glazing over swaths of chapters.

But that really doesn’t matter compared to ZANE. Let me take you on my journey with Zane. Almost immediately I had the niggling sensation of a love triangle between him, Vin and Elend. And I thought Vin would be better than that…BOY WAS I WRONG. I just couldn’t work out why Vin liked Zane AT ALL, he clearly is evil. And yet I had to sit through Vin pining between Zane and Elend, while Elend just sat there telling her he supported her no matter what…you’re a bitch Vin. Seriously, Elend, THE PERFECT MAN, is right there and Vin seems unable to communicate any of her thoughts to him in a way that makes Vin seem so stupid despite how wary and clever she is in the rest of the book. Also, without spoiling anything, the twist with Zane is just jarring and clearly done for shock value. But in the end all of this is for the good, Vin and Elend come out of it stronger than ever before, and after thinking about it, I enjoyed the turmoil Vin went through for the outcome.

‘He found insanity no excuse, however, for irrational behavior.’

~Tell that to Vin, Zane

And the Ugly

So as I started in this review, this book isn’t one I’d describe as happy and the pain I went through for these characters is both horrifying and amazing. I love watching characters not succeed, or rather I prefer my books with high conflict and stakes. This isn’t the kind of book where the characters can avoid every shot thrown at them. But still the amount of characters who die or are severely changed by what happens shocks me. Literally ‘had to put down the book and walk away’ shocked. But everyone who dies, dies for a reason, no one is made just to be killed like so many often are. Even those who live on with the terrible consequences, it’s all for the sake of character development, even if it kills me a little inside.

(At least Spook doesn’t die, that’s all that matters).

The Most Adorable Stray

cat

It was the most adorable stray. It had been scratched across its back, so its fur was patchy and matted. Its fur was a dirty shade of brown, almost yellow and was a skinny thing.

Tibbles, she christened him.

“Here Tibbles,” she said squeaking softly. The cat hissed and took a swipe at her from under the car.

“Woah!” she shuffled backwards nearly falling over.

She was crouched on someone else’s drive where Tibbles had hidden away. She smirked knowing what was about to happen.

“Okay, I’ll go.” She got up, making a show of walking away as if the cat could see.

“Meow, meow, meow,” came the pathetic cry from behind her.

Everyday they went through this, with Tibbles running behind until Sarah tried to pick him up he’d hiss and run away.

“Ah and our time is up,” she called out as she reached her house. Tibbles hopped onto her fence, streaming through the posts.

“Mew!” He became whinier whenever she left. However today when she opened her front door Tibbles cried again and tried to follow her through.

“No, no!” her actions were instant and without thought as she pushed the cat back outside.

He meowed pitifully as the door was shut on him.

She felt awful. Tibbles was quaint and needed someone to feed him. And he had chosen her. And in a cat’s world that was the biggest compliment. The feeling grew worse as the heavens opened up and rained streamed down her windows.

He was the most adorable stray.

Her mind made up, the next day, she armed herself with a net and a packet of ham.

“Here Tibbles-Tibbles. Here Tibbles-Tibbles,” she called up and down the road.

Nothing.

She walked once down the street and then up, but Tibbles was nowhere to be seen. Down trodden, she returned home.

Through her front windows she could see all the way through to her kitchen. Where, on the dining table, Tibbles sat as if saying, ‘what took you so long?’

He was the most adorable pet.