Idiot Reviewers of the Week

Case for Creator

So often, those of us with creative works, whether it be books, television, movies, video games, or whatever else, are subject to ridicule via reviewers. It comes with the territory and I’ve already written about why people don’t need to be crybabies about it. That being said, there are plenty of reviewers out there who could learn a thing or two about writing reviews. The internet is loaded with illiterate, half-wit, brain-dead fools who happen to have a computer and a connection to the web so they get to litter cyberspace with their ill-conceived gibberish. The example I make today is actually in regards to a DVD. You’ll see why momentarily. It’s the documentary, A Case for a Creator which is basically a televised version of the book by Lee Strobel. Floating around out there, are some negative reviews, no big surprise when you’re discussing religion. Well written reviews are fine. Below . . . well . . . these are something else:

“A great book if all you are looking for is reaffirming your faith through confirmation bias.”

Huh? That’s a review? Okay pal, first of all, you wrote this review about the DVD, not the book. If you wanted to review the book, link it to the book. The fact that you can’t tell the difference between the two shows that you probably have the educational equivalent of a Tusken Raider. Second of all, a one line review? Talk about bias. So you don’t agree with the content? Why not define why? Did you even bother to watch it? Wait, no, you probably didn’t because you thought you were reviewing a book when you’re reviewing a DVD.

Picard Face Palm

“The only reason I rated this DVD so low is that the person receiving the gift was unable to watch it. He is hearing impaired. The DVD does not offer or allow for closed captioning. The DVD is being returned. It has not been viewed.”

Okay, people who write reviews like this piss me the hell off. READ THE DAMN DESCRIPTION! Seriously! It’s called Google. It’s called the *&^%ing packaging. It’s called the damn listing on whatever the hell site you buy it from. You give a bad rating because you can’t read or you’re too lazy to look it up? That’s not the fault of the people who put this out. I despise people who use reviews as a forum to complain about something no one ever claimed the item had.

Okay . . . deep breath . . . I’m back. I am a fan of the 1st amendment and the protected right of free speech. Realistically though, there are arguments against everything and these are two individuals who are testament against said freedom of speech. Thank you for helping the cause of dictators and censorship supporters.

Stupid people shut up

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The Art of Collaboration

William: Writing can be a challenge when you’re doing it on your own. When you’re doing it as a partnership, it presents a whole different set of challenges. Norma and I have been working as a team on our novel Same Time Tomorrow, under our aliases Scarlett Martin and James Morgan. We thought we’d talk today about the sort of things that go into collaboration, and the ways a book can change and adapt when you have two or more creative minds involved in the writing.
 
Norma:Collaborations can destroy friendships. I had two friends, both published authors, who were so close, the phrase “joined at the hip” was often used to describe them. They always traveled together, shared hotel rooms, had get-togethers with their husbands in tow–most of us thought they’d end up with the same agent. Surprisingly, they didn’t.  But they did enter into a collaboration agreement.
 
 
William: I think creative ventures are things we feel so close to, and when we’re sharing them with another writer, it can be all the more difficult when a disagreement comes up. Maybe this is what happened between them?
Norma: It surprised me because I’d thought they both had checked their egos at the door. But yes, writing is a very personal thing. No matter what you’re writing, it’s a part of you. I recall years ago, seeing an interview with Harrison Ford in which he mentioned that a close friend of his was a novelist. He said he had never read any of her works because he felt it was too personal, that it would reveal things he didn’t feel comfortable knowing.
I suspect that’s why your brother says he’d never read a sex scene written by you. Way too much information for a brother!
William: No kidding!
We set out on the path for the novel with the notion of writing a book from both the male and female point of view of a relationship. What started out as erotica evolved into something different- the characters hijacked the book on us, you see. Still, the core principle stayed the same. We have blurred that line, on occasion, adapting bits and pieces of each other’s writing, and in writing passages involving some of our supporting characters. And all this time, we haven’t had any major disagreements about where the book was going.
Norma: We’ve been extremely fortunate in that even on those rare occasions in which we disagree, we still respect the other’s position and work through it. Usually takes all of five minutes to resolve an issue. But we’re the exception rather than the rule. We have more fights with our characters than we have with each other. Now they can be difficult!
I think it helps that we did opt to each write our own characters and secondary characters.
William: Taking turns writing a chapter, on the other hand, might not have turned out nearly as well. And along the line, writing the book this way has taken longer, but it’s allowed each of us to get in the head of the other character so that even as we’re writing them, though we’re not inside their point of view, we know them so well that their dialogue and actions come across as natural.
Norma: I had always wanted to collaborate, but I knew I’d have to find the right partner. The kind of collaboration I have with Collin is very different–with me doing the writing and him handling all the research and technical details, much like the collaboration of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins on the Left Behind series. LaHaye developed the idea and provided the Biblical background, while Jenkins did the actual writing. With William, we share the writing. And writing the interaction between our characters has been fun!
William: It certainly has! And one of the fun things has been how the characters have moved in directions we weren’t expecting. No respect for their creators, none whatsoever! I was thinking that where we saw the book going originally has been changed fundamentally as we’ve gone along, so that the ending of the book won’t be at all what we originally thought it would be. I wonder if that’s something that collaboration plays a part in. Is stepping away from the outline an easier prospect when there’s more then one creative mind at work?
Norma: Yes. There’s safety in numbers. I’d hate to have to face this bunch alone!
Seriously…we started this story as a round robin in the Romance and Erotica Group at the Writers Digest community site. The other contributors went so far afield with their passages, it wasn’t even a coherent story–but William and I felt our two passages were the start of an erotic novel about two people who met online and carried on a strictly online cybersex affair. In the beginning, we’d decided they would never meet, but get together at the same time every night–hence the title Same Time, Tomorrow. But our characters, Gabriel and Chloe, simply were not the casual sex types. They wanted to meet. They wanted more than sex. They wanted love…and they found it. From that point on, William and I were just along for the ride!
William: To give you an idea of how much the novel changed, months ago, I wrote a short passage with Gabriel meeting Chloe’s mother for the first time, late in the book, late in her life. It didn’t take very long before Chloe and Gabriel pretty much deleted that passage from existing all on their own.
I think a collaboration works best when there’s mutual respect and a good rapport between the collaborators. We’ve been able to make the book work because of that, and I think it’s brought out some of the best in our writing.
Norma: We pace each other. If either of us takes too long to write our next scene (that’s usually me), the other will give us a nudge to get going. I wish I had somebody to nudge me along with my other projects!
And we do have an exceptionally good rapport. Most times, we’ll come up with the same idea at the same time.
William: Yes! That’s spooky!
Collaboration does mean that while you don’t have full creative control of a project, you do have a partnership. And when it works as well as ours does, the end result is a book to take pride in… the first of a series, at that!
Norma: Yes…we didn’t even have to wait until the first book is finished to make sure both of us survived before deciding to do it again. We’ve had more fun with this than we imagined when we started.
We’ve decided to bring Gabriel and Chloe back, and in subsequent books, we’ll focus on some of our secondary characters. Like Dana, the city girl who hasn’t adjusted very well to being in the country. So far, she’s mistaken the sounds of a screech owl for a murder in progress and lost a shoe and part of her smartphone when frightened by some mischievous coyotes.
William: City girls!
We’ll conclude this with these questions: do you think you could ever collaborate on a novel? Or are you the sort of person who likes having sole control over the work you do as a writer?
Norma: Even if you’re a control freak like me, with the right collaborator, you can have a great time!

Godzilla vs. the Mall

If you’re not reading this, it probably means that they are scraping your blood-stained body off the floor at Uber Mart, where they’re having a special on bobble-head dolls and inflatable Santas. Sooo worth it!

As a rule, I would rather be tied to an ant mound and covered with honey than go Christmas shopping. My shopping trips are normally very focused and carried out with military precision. I locate the item(s) on my list, sprint for the register, and throw money at the confused cashier on my way out the door.

Unfortunately, I am not built for speed. My osteoporosis and I would never survive a Black Friday stampede in an electronics store. You definitely don’t want to lose your footing anywhere near Gloria Lister. I hear that she wears cleats.

I decided instead of shopping, to do some research for a book. I firmly believe in personal experience to help add life to a story. This is a recent development in my life, born out of personal challenges and lack of good programming on TV. This hands-on approach would require field trips to exotic places.

On a suggestion from a friend I typed Pee Dee basin into my search engine and made a remarkable discovery: the Lizard Man of South Carolina. Since the name “Godzilla” is already taken, let’s just call him Hal.

The first recorded sighting of Hal was from a 17 year old boy’s police report. Mr. Davis was able to get into his car before the 7 foot critter ran him down, so Hal took out his frustration on the car’s side view mirror.

Godzilla picks on unsuspecting elevated trains, while Hal picks on innocent minivans. I think we can all see the connection: Monsters hate commuters. Evolution has equipped Hal with 3 inch talons in order to better rip up your leather interior. Aside from the lack of belching flames and a fatal attraction to high tension lines, the similarities are uncanny.

Last year on Black Friday, without regard for my personal safety, I headed for Mayesville, South Carolina. It was here that I realized that there were no neon signs indicating the names of local swamps. I chose the most likely location of Scape Ore Swamp based on the lack of “No Trespassing” signs in the area. After driving for several hours, I was not going home without slogging through a swamp. I parked my truck down a dirt road as bait for Hal. Under the canopy of trees, only the wheezing of my overexcited dog broke the silence.

In that moment I could clearly see one overriding truth. I would rather be standing in alligator infested swamps than waiting in line at the mall. Even though Hal was a no-show, the prospect of meeting up with his 3 inch talons was less scary than Gloria Lister’s cleats.

A Line In The Sand: How Far Can You Go?

“These violent delights have violent ends.” ~ William Shakespeare
 
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
 
“When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.” ~ Mark Twain
 
 
A few days ago, I was reading one of the blogs I follow. Tracy Krauss writes in the Christian fiction genre, and was writing about just how realistic a writer can be in that field. She spoke of things that you might not otherwise expect to find in the genre, such as cursing, adult situations, and even violence, asking the question… should issues like this be addressed in novels in the genre? Her conclusion was that she would have to be realistic in use of things like swearing, drug use, or other such matters if it served the plot, as long as it’s not gratutious. That’s a risk in a genre where much of the readership would strenuously object to any such use, but as she put it, a mafia don is not going to say “oh darn.”
It got me to thinking of my own solo work, which of course, is a very different genre. Heaven & Hell and the books that will follow are in the counter terrorism genre, and as such are very much rooted in the real world… in a very dark, ugly part of the world. When writing in that genre… or indeed, in other genres, such as horror or sci fi, which can be relentless in terms of awful things happening, where do we draw the line? How graphic and detailed can we be? How far do we as authors go? Those are the questions I’d like to explore today while talking about my own work, and I thought I’d do so along three fronts.
First off, I thought I’d start with sex. Now, now, calm down, no need to get overheated. I bring it up for a good reason. Sex is, of course, a part of the spy genre, has been for a long while now. It’s integral for the signature character of the genre, something that Ian Fleming took into account when he was writing the first adventures of James Bond. And the writers who have come since him have routinely worked sex into plotlines in their own works. Sometimes sex serves as seduction of a source of information. Other times sex is used as  a weapon (use your imagination). And from time to time, sex in a spy novel is just about the hero coming home to his doctor wife and getting lucky (this is what Tom Clancy was up to throughout the Jack Ryan books, after all; his hero wasn’t scoring with every woman he met because of the job… he was coming home to his wife, after all).
It doesn’t get overly graphic in the genre, mostly because the plotline needs to move forward. If you’re looking for graphic sex in a novel, head over to the romance and erotica section. Sex is there though, part of the whole in my genre. I’ve used sex as an element in Heaven & Hell, though interestingly, not for my leading characters. While I’ve mentioned the personal life of one character, and while there is a certain chemistry between them, I’ve generally refrained from taking it in a sexual direction for them. At least for the moment. Instead, it’s the villains of the book who are managing to get some of the proverbial horizontal action, so to speak. Again though, there’s a point I stop at, because I don’t need to get overly graphic with sex in this genre. Besides, my brother is adamant that he’ll never read a sex scene written by me.
This brings us to the second matter: language. Personally, I have no issue with coarse language in every day life. I don’t really consider words like hell or damn to be curse words, for example. I do think it’s something best done in moderation, or used sparingly. Too often we see someone on the street using foul language three or four times in every sentence, yelling at someone else (I saw this just the other day, in point of fact), and it leaves us wondering if the walking temper tantrum in question ever learned the slightest manners. Probably not. I have some of the same disdain for standup comedians who lace their routine with nonstop cursing. That’s done merely for shock value, not as their natural way of speaking.
In the spy genre, where you’re writing about the rough end of things, so to speak, you’re writing about characters who will use rough language. It’s natural for people in the field to employ the occasional curse word here and there, both the protagonists and the antagonists. I’ve done that, again in moderation, through the book. It’s actually something that annoyed my father, when he recently read some of the recent narrative during a visit. He’s quite old fashioned in his thinking, and couldn’t get past the thought one character has in referring to a terrorist as a “cold blooded son of a bitch.” It’s accurate, though, for the moment, and for the character, and in this genre, it’s to be expected. And of course, for more serious foul language… well, let’s just say that the most serious curse word in the English language does put in an appearance or two… once during an interrogation, and the next during a gun fight. I wrote it as part of the natural flow of the moment, and not gratuitous.
This brings us to the last element of the equation: violence. Obviously this is integral to the spy and counter-terrorism genre. Heaven & Hell features deaths of civilians early on, assassination, a massive terrorist attack, and a shooting war between two opposing armies. The central event, which I’ve taken to calling the Very Bad Thing (no, I’m not telling), claims the lives of thousands of people. I found when I was writing that moment in time that I kept a certain distance from it. In the aftermath, views of the scene tend to be from the distance. I only briefly use the point of view of firefighters on the scene for the close up, but I see little point in lingering with graphic detail. Another writer might wish to go into explicit detail on the condition of a body, or the way a bullet passes through flesh and bone. Certainly in the film world there are directors who are obsessed with the graphic detail, every gory element of a violent death (Mr. Tarentino, I’m talking about you).
I’m not like that. I think it detracts from the narrative. Still, given the demands of the story, it’s essential to show that it’s happening, to employ it as needed, and to keep moving on with the action. The key, I think, is finding the balance, the point where you’ve shown enough. This applies, in this genre and others, to all three: sex, profanity, and violence. Tip the balance too far in one direction, and you’re just being gratuitous. Tip in the other direction, and you’re not being realistic.

Unexpected~A Viator Legacy Novel by Erin Lausten

       “Daughter,” he said, his voice rumbling deep and silky. It sent shivers of unease up her spine. Could she seriously be related to this rat?

     “You must be Nikki.” Hailey held out a hand. “I’ve heard so much about you.” Taken aback, he paused and she pressed her advantage. “So I hear you want to rule the world–or something like that.”

Dude!

Wow! What an action packed story that you won’t want to put it down! If you like action, thrillers, fantasy, time travel and the occasional bout of sexual tension between the two main character’s, you will definitely love this book. I feel honoured that this author allowed me a chance to read this book before it goes to publication.

This is the story of a woman who is leading a relatively normal enough life until a stressful event causes her to “disappear”. She wakes up in another time, on a pirate ship. She is about to be brutally attacked by the pirates when a strong, handsome man tries to rescue her. The stress of the event makes her disappear yet again, where she ends up in the middle of Nazi Germany during World War 2. Hailey has no idea what is happening to her, or why.

Dude! Enter a strong, young, handsome guy named Derian. He is a viator that is centuries years old, and Hailey is his charge, a novus. Hailey learns that she has some pretty amazing abilities, jumping through time being one of them. But Hailey is different from all the other viator’s. She has the ability to jump with objects and she can even jump to the viator’s main headquarters–the domus–where even Derian and the others can’t do that.

While hiding out, Hailey is kidnapped from Derian’s house. When she wakes up, she realizes that she has a sort of “leash” stuck to the back of her neck. The leash is an electronic-type device that prevents her from being able to ‘jump’ to another time to get away. Luckily another woman named Poppi, knows all about this apparatus. She had been kidnapped as well at one point a long time ago, but got away.

They settled in a heap of limbs and pain. Lot’s of pain. Centuries of experience told him his body would mend. Nothing serious or permanent had happened in the crash. But his certainty did not extend to Hailey. She was uncharacteristically quiet. He untangled himself and looked down to see her face blossoming with bruises and blood trickling from a shallow slice at her temple.

“Hailey! Leof, please wake up.”

     “Shit! I thought she’d land better than that.”

     Derian swung around to where Poppi stood beside them. “What the hell are you doing here?” She flinched at his tone, but he didn’t care. With a snarl he turned back to the woman that had somehow found a chink in his armor. The terror he felt at that moment was unlike any he had faced. No army or rogue was as daunting as losing her before he knew why her loss would haunt him.

I don’t want to give everything away, but bad guy, Nikanuur is after Hailey. Hailey was an experiment of Nikanuur’s and now he wants to know all that she can do.

I could go on. This book has so many twists and turns, making it a great novel that seriously, Dude, you won’t be able to put down. Just when you think you’ve read it all, and thought that the character’s couldn’t possibly go on, something else always comes up.

Who can they trust? Hailey’s great-grandmother, her father, any of the other viator’s? You’re going to have to read the book to find out the rest. Add in the character’s of Lucius (Magister), Nikanuur (Hailey’s father), Moina (Hailey’s mother) and Roderic (head of research), rogue viator’s and all the people who are trying to kill Hailey, and of course, all the time travel, this story has the makings of a fantasy bestseller.

And, while all this action is happening throughout the book, the sexual tension between Derian and Hailey grows. Every time they are together in the same room, you just want them to get together already. The sexual tension just makes the book hotter.

This book was beyond all my expectations. I was sort of expecting something like The Time Traveler’s Wife, (a book that was ok, but Erin’s is way better) but instead, was pleasantly surprised by everything in this novel. Erin has provided something for everyone and you won’t be disappointed. An excellent read, you won’t be disappointed in buying this book. Dude, out of five stars, I give this one twenty.

It was that good.

I look forward to reading more Viator Legacy novels from this author.

Reviewer’s note: I loved the “Dude’s” in this book…it reminds me of a girlfriend of mine who says “Dude!” all the time. Every time the character said it, I pictured my friend in Hailey’s place.

Real Life

You know, the last couple weeks I’ve read a few blogs about writer’s lives getting in the way of their projects. Some have been disasterous. Yup. Know what you all mean. I’ve had a few myself lately.

I hate it when something gets between me and my most favorite time in the world. I prefer fiction to the real life drama. The real life stuff is draining.

Not to mention, I have to accept the fact I can’t control real people. It’s nice to know if any of the fiction peeps get to be real PITAS, I can maime or kill them off without the threat of prison or the death penalty. I can even control traffic and the elements when I write. Fiction drama is so much easier to deal with.

But on a daily basis we all face THE CIRCUMSTANCES in real life that arise. You know, where your daughter gets thrown out of her apartment into the streets and you live like two hours away. And, you’re the only one who can help her.  Plus, it’s your day off and you’d already planned to write for most of the day. Yeah. Good luck with that, because you’ve now driven half your day away.

How about the day you wake up with your head full of snot? You’re feeling achey, chilly, and feverish. And, all you can do is sneeze and choke between gasping breaths. You’re so ill you can’t even write one word let alone plot out another scene. Crappity-crap-crap-crap, right?

Oh yeah, then there’s the job. Yup. Most writers have another job to deal with like I do and that sometimes means being called in on your day off or coming in earlier than originally planned. Things get in the way.

Who was the brain that quoted “You’re not a writer if you’re not writing every day”?  Really?

Hey! What is a writer supposed to do if a tornado comes along and blows away thier house, computer, pens, journals, and Post-It Notes?

 Well, I say ABSOLUTE NONSENSE to that wonderful quote of the day. Sometimes we need to take a time out to deal with life’s little or big surprises. Too bad we can’t wave a magic pen and throw around a couple Post-It Notes to make all the real life drama  go away.

But it’s okay. It’s all good or will be. I believe when we don’t get to write we’re somehow solving our stories in the darkest corners of our minds while we’re dealing with the real life stuff.

 So don’t fret over not getting any words on paper or across your computer screen today. Real life happens. Besides, those interruptions make great fodder for the next novel or possibly the current one you’re working on.

Anyway, I need to excuse myself from this piece. Hair Ball made it a point to jump in my lap and barf on me.  My bare foot is now  resting in a nice puddle of puke. Talk about a surprise.  ***rolling my eyes***

Shameless Review and Promotion: “The Touch” by Lisa Olsen

Take the keys and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up.

Wow. I’m almost speechless. This was an exceptionally well written YA Paranormal. Except that I had to work and sometimes life gets in the way, I couldn’t put it down. I could envision everything that the author had written as it happened.

It’s about a girl named Lexi who has a rather special ability. When she touches objects, she can “see” who has handled it before and maybe what that object might have been used for. Since she was a little girl, she’s had to wear cotton gloves so that she doesn’t get bombarded with visions whenever she touches something. She even was afraid to touch another human beings because she might be able to “see” something from them.

Lexi has a sister named Allie who is married to Neil and has a daughter named Chloe. When Neil disappears one night, not coming home, Allie fears the worst. She thinks maybe he might have run off with the woman he was seeing behind her back at work.

Chloe, who is ten years old, is being visited by several ghosts. One is named Bianca. She tells her mom about them, but Allie doesn’t really believe that the old house they live in is haunted. Bianca likes Chloe and leaves her little trinkets under her bed.

When Chloe disappears, Lexi and Detective Gabriel Ryan go up into the attic to see if they can find some clues. That’s when Lexi touches something and gets a vision of a woman and her daughter. She called the little girl, Bianca.

When Neil’s car and body are found, all fingers point towards Allie. She had motive, means and no alibi. Lexi can’t believe that her sister would really kill her own husband. Would she have kidnapped her own daughter? Maybe killed her, too?

This book has just about everything in it. Drama, paranormal, thriller, and even a little bit of love. It’s a great Young Adult Paranormal that is easy to read. I did truly love this book. I am eager to read more from this new author. I give this book 5 stars!