Friday, June 29, 2012

What Drives Me Nuts In A Book...

I've read a few excellent books this month....and I've read a few (hmmm)...well I don't want to say they're duds. They're not. But I can't say they were good.

I do think any creative endeavor that helps a person express him or herself is a worthwhile effort. And there were parts of these books I enjoyed...until I didn't. I was even swearing and cursing at one to just END (which is really bad) as I skimmed the first sentence of each paragraph and skipped most of the dialogue because it made me want to take my iPad and feed it into my husband's shredder....(I know. Calm down, Karen, it's okay.)

So without further ado, here are things that make me want to take a book and shake it with frustration:

1. Snark where it's not necessary.
Don't get me wrong, I love snark. I love wise ass characters that spit in fate's face with a smile on theirs. But damn it, when you have a character randomly spit out snark because you've thought of a witty comeback - but it doesn't fit with the character's personality or with the flow of the book - well, its not necessary. If your character is serious, let them be serious. If they're snarky, let them be snarky. But if they're a sweet, naive, serious character who talks in a sweet, naive, serious tone only to have a wicked, sexually forward, snarky comeback to someone that doesn't fit with their character....aaaagh! Don't do it.

2. Characters who talk like they went to formal diction school in the 1700's. I mean, what 17 year old says "One moment please. I am going to peruse the tomes on these shelves, and then I am going to procure my wallet to pay for my selected purchases." (I made that up, but you get the point, right? Right? Do you expect me to believe your character is normal? Or that they even exist in this world? What kid talks like that? He'd better be a time traveler from the past.

3. Characters who don't have a steady personality. This reflects on the last two entries. I'm sorry, but your character can't be innocent and promiscuous. They can't be tough and a wimp. Sure, they can have moments where they do something unexpected, but they can't just do things that go against who you've created them to be without a damn good reason. A character that's a werewolf enforcer isn't going to cower when they're attacked by three guys any more than they'd cower when attacked by one. They're going to fight. Unless for some reason they have a phobia about the number three (maybe they were raised by an evil three headed hell dog and they have a flashback to a vicious beating). See - ridiculous it may be, but it's an explanation. Don't make your character do things out of character unless its part of their character.

4. A World out of whack. Okay, so your character lives in a world where supernatural creatures - lets say faeries - exist. Only no one knows they exist. Well, they can't walk around with six fingers on each hand, and an extra set of knuckles on each finger, razor sharp pointed teeth, green skin and pink hair without some sort of glamour. Hello? No one's going to notice that? Seriously?

5. As an extension of that - your setting has to be believable, too. A city full of vampires that burn to ash in the sunlight isn't going to have buildings with huge plate glass windows that let the sun in all day long. I'm pretty sure the vampires would design buildings that protect them from the sun's rays. Do you see what I mean? You can't just take a setting you're familiar with and throw characters in it when you're writing urban fantasy. That's the whole point. You have to think about it. What would a city full of vampires who only come out at night look like? (Again, this is just an example.)

6. Unnecessary extraneous characters. Yes, you need to have characters for your main character to interact with, but don't dump forty million useless characters on me only to have them stick around for one chapter and be gone, never to be heard from again. I don't need to meet Bobby's cousin Darrell, who's in town for the city wide vampire purging unless Darrell's going to do something to affect it. Screw him. He's unnecessary.

7. Evil bad guys with no reason to be evil. If you're going to slap a bad guy in and make me like him or hate him or feel sorry for him, then you'd better give me a reason. If he's a total evil asshat without any redeeming qualities, why is that? You can't just make someone evil and say 'he's evil because he's the bad guy'. Maybe I'll like him more than the hero. Believe me, I've read books where I was rooting for the evil dude to kill everyone just so the book would be over! (I read two of them this month.) It's frustrating.

8. Sex where its not necessary. Yes, sex is good. I like sex in a book when it belongs there. But if you have sweet Suzie Sugarpants, who is all of seventeen and untouched, dry humping the hero (sorry, I know that's rude) because he's cute (and that's the only reason), I'm probably going to vomit in my mouth. And if you've got two characters having sex against walls and doors and under tables in busy restaurants, but the conversation/interaction between them is so stilted that it can't even create a reason for them to be doing it...well, ptht. I'd rather read Charlotte Bronte. (No I wouldn't, but for sex's sake does not make a good book.)

9. No reasoning behind the emotion. This is probably one of the most frustrating issues I have with characters. Here's heroine Bonnie, clearly distraught at finding a woman wandering on the side of the road. She's in tears as she helps the obviously injured woman into her car & later breaks down with emotion. Why? I don't know! You tell me! If you don't give me a reason to go on, I just think your character is a nutjob. Jeez. God.

10. Gorgeous heroes/heroines with no other redeeming characteristics. Sure, hot guys are nice. I wouldn't kick Thor out of bed with two feet, but don't give me a guy with six pack abs and a face to die for and have him be a chauvinist pig or a total douchecanoe or a wimp and expect me to believe that the heroine would still want to be with him. I wouldn't put up with any of that - and if she's a strong woman, neither would she. Sorry. Don't buy it. Leave the pretty face out of it. Make him average. I don't give a shit. I'd rather lift my skirts for a guy who's likes me being tough and looks like he was hit by a mack truck, than for a guy who looks like Thor and wants me for a naked housekeeper.

That's all. Vent over.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Creativity vs.Mental Exhaustion

I'm a creative person. I love designing and making things. Writing. Crafts. Curtains. Miniatures. Jewelry. Well, you get the idea. The point is my house is littered with projects I'm working on - a bulletin board for my kitchen, earrings (that I'm hoping to sell on etsy at some point), 1" scale miniature furniture and decor, a series of sepia tone nature photos that my son and I took for my living room wall, polymer clay flowers, etc. My computer is also cluttered by ideas and random writings. If I'm not creating something, I become a very grumpy girl.

I'm a very grumpy girl.

Before my son was born (yes, I'm going back 17 long years), I had started selling my miniatures on ebay and was beginning to make a living at it. I also made simple crafts that I sold at small craft shows in the area. I wrote poetry and short stories. I was probably the most well-balanced and happy I've ever been. Then came kiddo (I wouldn't change that for anything. My son is my light.) - and Aspergers Syndrome. My arts and crafts were put away. My focus was on raising my son. There was no time for arts, crafts or writing (or reading for that matter) when I was dealing with doctors, therapists, the school district, and all that crap. His needs were so huge, that they sucked the life out of me. I missed my creativity. I missed it - but I didn't have time for it. And I was too damn tired all the time to think about it.

Somebody eventually gave me some very important advice. I was no good to my kiddo if I wasn't taking care of myself. I started making time for me. It wasn't much. An hour in the morning before he got up to have a cup of coffee and a bagel while I geared myself up for my day. An hour or so at the end of the day after kiddo and hubs were both in bed where I could surf the web, read, draw, etc. These times were mine. They helped me find the sanity I needed to get through some of the very worst years of my life - the years of kiddo's nervous breakdown at 10, the meds, the psychologists and psychiatrists, the specialized schools and administrative bullshit my school district put us through. The homeschooling and dealing with kiddo dropping out, getting his GED and starting to find his own self and life.

Through all of that, I had my time. Those little snippets of time where I refreshed myself and reminded myself that 'this too shall pass'.

In the last eight months, that me time has vanished. Kiddo is his own person. For that I'm eternally grateful. But with that came an end to my time. My down time at night is gone. Kiddo stays up until 2 am like a typical college student. The difference being that he talks computer speak non-stop all day. The only way to get away from it is if I go to bed. If I try to read, to write, to craft, he's there hammering his computer facts that I don't even pretend to understand through my head with the persistence of a badger. I can't think. I can't read. I  can't write. I can't create. It's there, in my head, but I can't get it out past his voice. It's killing me.

I've tried getting up even earlier in the morning, but then hubs is there wanting to talk about kiddo's issues and how much he hates work and I can't even have a cup of coffee in silence. Its....horrific. By the time hubs heads out the door, kiddo is getting up. And there I am, listening to lua jit, recursive this, blah blah (insert computer related words) that until I feel like the creative part of my brain is suffering a painful, screaming death. I feel like I can't breathe. It's torture.

In the battle of creativity vs. mental exhaustion, mental exhaustion wins. I lose.

*Waves white flag of surrender*

I give up. Just get me to September, when kiddo goes away to college. I just hope I don't go completely irrevocably insane before then.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hello? Is anyone still out there?? lol

I'm alive.

Well, I'm functioning.



So, I've had a busy few months. Let's see. Kiddo applied to a different college where he can study computer engineering AND electrical engineering, and was accepted. He'll be living on campus which is huge since he's never spent a night away from home. We also weaned him off a med that wasn't working anymore, which means he's much MUCH more aspie than he was. It's a good thing, although it makes things tougher for me. Perseveration is a challenge.

My dad gave us a hell of a scare. He's still having some trouble, but we're hopeful the doctors will figure out what's going on and its (any more/so far) not life threatening.

What that meant, tho, is I've barely touched my computer. I've been multitasking a new roof, new windows, new flooring, kiddo's college stuff, shopping for dorm shit, etc. and in order to stay sane reading is fundamental. Blogging, well...not so much.

That being said, I did A LOT of reading in the last couple of months, and here's the list:

April – 12 Books

Blood on the Bayou by Stacey Jay ***** Loved it! 
Magic Without Mercy by Devon Monk ***** Loved it!
Forgiven by Jana Oliver **** The two characters in this drive me nuts because they refuse to see how important they are to each other...loved it.
Burned by J.F. Lewis **** How can you not love Eric? Come on.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - my personal hero. When I'm feeling that monster called depression tearing through my brain, she makes me laugh and reminds me that I can stomp him down.
To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore *** Good first book. Definitely will read more.
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James ***** Loved it (yeah, yeah, I know)
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James ***** Loved it (see above)
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James **** Didn't love it as much. It was still good, but it was a lot of repetitive shit. Still happy to see the HEA.
Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett **** Loved it.
Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett **** Love Jupe and Lon and Cady. Such interesting characters -- and unique.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig ****** Okay, this book was the ultimate of the month. Maybe of the year. I cannot recommend it enough. Buy it. Buy copies for friends and family (you're gonna wanna keep yours). Make sure you have time to read it uninterrupted (cause its that kind of book).

May - 17 Books

Tricked by Kevin Hearne *** I like this series. I love Atticus and most of the characters. But Oberon pisses me off. :(
Derik’s Bane by MaryJanice Davidson *** A light and entertaining read.
A Little Night Magic by Lucy March ***** This was really good. Definitely worth reading. You won't regret it.
Stone’s Kiss by Lisa Blackwood ** So begins my e-reading binge. This was okay, but not my favorite. It just had some flaws I couldn't ignore. And then again, it might have been my stress level.
Serengeti Heat: Serengeti Shifters 1 by Vivi Andrews *** I like these. They're short and formatic, but entertaining.
Serengeti Storm: Serengeti Shifters 2 by Vivi Andrews *** See above.
Serengeti Lightning: Serengeti Shifters 3 by Vivi Andrews *** Again, see above.
Leopard Moon by Jeanette Battista *** This was pretty good. I'll definitely read sequels.
Neon Chaos by Karen Erikson ** I wasn't a fan of this one, but it was me, not the author.
Home: Downside Ghosts novella by Stacia Kane ***** LOVE!
Guardian: Creepy Hollow 1 by Rachel Morgan *** I liked this one enough to buy the sequel.
Along Came a Demon: Whisperings 1 by Linda Welch *** Again, will be reading sequel.
Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig **** Much too short, Chuck. 
Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young **** Loved this one. I want it in paperback for my shelves.
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis *** Liked.
Love is Darkness by Carolyn Hanson **** This was very good. Already bought sequel.
Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ****** This is maybe my favorite teen series. I love it. This one devastated me and was so fantastic. (I actually might have cried...but I'm not admitting it.) Really, I've got this series in hardcover & on my e-reader. It's that good.

So that's it. Two months. 29 books. This month, I've managed 2 books so far. That's really sad.

However, I want to send out a special thank you to Tyrus Books (@TyrusBooks on Twitter) who offered up a free book yesterday morning to anyone who responded for Friday reads. I tweeted back and am anxiously awaiting Ghost Soldiers by Keith Melton! If you're a tweeter, he's worth following. And he publishes some pretty damn awesome books (many of which I own). :D

Finally, I hereby promise that I'll do better about posting. After all, come September 4th, I'm going to be a very lonely girl.