Skin Game

I just finished the new Jim Butcher book Skin Game. I have to say, it was one of his better novels. I may spoil the end of the book, so if you really care, tread lightly. What struck me was a scene toward the end. I don’t think I can write a scene like that. I know it’s really not a fair comparison, but I don’t think I can write at his level at all, at least not now.

I know he has 20 books under his belt and a team of editors. I know he went to school for writing and all, but I want to write a scene like that, and, to be honest, it was a scene many books in the making.

I get that, but I want to write like that because when I read it, it brought tears to my eyes. My heart was pounding, and I started hoping for him against all odds. I really wanted Dresden to win, and I didn’t see how it would happen.

I’ve always been sort of at odds with books like this because the power levels of the characters seem to fluctuate. Sometimes Dresden or Anita Blake or even Superman can overcome crazy challenges with relative ease. (Diving into molten magma and lifting California back into place, anyone?) Other times, even the smallest challenge seems Herculean for guys who can fling around dump trucks.

There’s a part in this book where Dresden drops a super powerful bad guy like nothing. Afterward, he makes the comment that it was more like murder than a fight. Then, this scene happens a little later. Dresden is facing off against non-super-powered people, and he is about to lose. He should lose, and I wanted him to pull some crazy Dresden crap and live.

I totally believed that they were going to lose. The reason Jim Butcher could do this is because of Lois Lane. This is going back to Superman, but remember, I’m trying not to spoil the ending of Skin Game. Lois Lane has no super powers to speak of, yet she’s daring and always getting herself in all sorts of trouble trying to help. It’s a character that Superman can save because, let’s face it, Superman doesn’t really need saving very often.

It’s why we love Batman, because under all his money, flash, and bang, he’s a normal guy. If I had a billion dollars I could be Batman. I will never be Superman. It’s why, when in this Dresden book, Lois Lane stands up and becomes Batman all you can do is yell “Yes!”

I don’t know if I can write a scene like that, and it is my own fault, at least in the Lillim world. There are no Lois Lanes in my story. There’s no plucky side-kick who she can step in and help. There’s no friends who aren’t near her in power level. Hell, if I go through Fairy Tale and Hatter, almost every person she encounters on her side is nearly as strong/powerful as her, if not stronger. I mean, let’s be honest, no one cares when Superman saves the Green Lantern or Wonder woman. We care when he saves Lois Lane… but we really care when Lois Lane saves him.

I need a Lois Lane, and I’ve messed up and written three whole books without one. It’s probably why I feel so disconnected from Lillim at times, why I worry that she’s too Superman and not enough Clark Kent.

In every book, I’ve stripped her of more and more humanizing factors and now? Now, I need to find some.

Cornered

Fairy Tale is pissing me off. Why? I keep writing myself into a corner. I don’t really understand how it keeps happening either. It’s been like this every few chapters, and it keeps going something like this:

Hmm… how am I gonna progress the story. Well… let’s see what happens. I start writing, and a brilliant idea pops into my head. (It is brilliant, and I dare you to argue differently, by the way.) Then I pound out three or four chapters and before you know it I’m rushing toward the end of the arc and… nothing. I have no idea what to do from there. Rinse and repeat.

Only now, I’m sort of getting worn out. I feel like I have to keep coming up with new ideas to move the story forward and that involves research which invariably slows down my writing. I also learned I don’t know jack about Irish Mythology.

Just yesterday, I was thinking about an awesome scene I wrote twenty thousand words ago and, you know what? It feels like I wrote that scene so long ago that it might as well be a different book, and it was only about a month ago.

I’m not even sure I can get this story to the length it needs to be to make it viable. I know I’ll add 5k, maybe more, to the story when I edit it, but I still need about 20k before I can call it good. I’ve got about 5k, maybe 10k in my head, tops.

The only reason I even have that extra 5k in my head now is because I finally wrote myself out of the corner… for now.

That said, this next arc is one of those where it would be a really cool arc in an anime or a movie or something, but how well is it going to actually play out in words? I know I can write the scenes well, so it’s not that, I just wonder if it’s going to tire the reader out.

Resignation

I have a coworker (shocking right?) who just quit on Monday. Why? So he could be a full time DJ.

I’m really happy for him. He’s very talented and has worked extremely hard at his craft for years.

While I was on vacation, he was down in Los Angeles playing clubs and wound up getting approached to perform at a music festival. In addition, record labels are approaching him.

So he quit his job to devote more time to his music.

Why am I bringing this up? I think the goal here is obvious; I would love to have my writing take off and allow me to do it full time.

I know it’s a long shot and, in addition, Amazon or some other retailer could pull the rug out from us in a heartbeat.

I’m not really keen on leaving my job to write full time only to come crawling back a year later when Amazon decides to drop royalty rates across the board or something equally ridiculous happens.

“So what is this huge gap in your resume?”

“That’s where I tried to escape the crushing boot of the man for a split second. I’m good now though, resume standing on my neck.”

That said, I really enjoy my job, but it’s not writing, ya know?

I also know that, in most cases, you can’t buy a best seller without huge amounts of luck and hard work. I’m just hoping that it all pays off enough that maybe I could follow in my friend’s footsteps.

The Remnants – Review

This is the second and last review for TA Williams.

**

The Remnants is the sequel to After The Event and takes place immediately following that novel. There is the introduction of several new characters as well as following all of the original characters as they splinter off.

Again, the world is a horrible place and it is sort of hard to remember that this is almost two years after society collapsed. It feels like it’s been a few days. This book definitely delves deeper into the characters and gives you things from their perspective. It also shows how easy it is to get lost/separated from each other and how people will bully others.

It follows that same, everything is horrible vibe, of most prepper/survivalist fiction with the big gangs taking over and stealing everything from others. This story makes no bones that everyone is a victim.

All that said, I hated the ending, and it sort of puts me off for the next book. I can see why the author decided to go that route, but I didn’t care for it.

If you liked After The Event, you will enjoy the sequel. It is much longer and more satisfying of a read. There are almost no typos/formatting issues in this book. I can only think of one. This book is definitely there in terms of quality and could easily compare to several of the published end of the world novels I’ve read.

A link to the book is here

 A link to the Author’s Blog is here.

After The Event – Review

I decided to do a couple book reviews for TA WIlliams because I read his books, and he doesn’t have a lot of reviews. Today’s and tomorrow’s posts will be reviews of his books. I am not in the habit of doing reviews and don’t expect it to be a regular thing.

**

After The Event is a book about what happens when society collapses. It’s never quite clear what the actual event is that causes the world to end, but it’s also largely irrelevant to the story as well. The book follows a family as they try to make it in the new, harsh world.

The author pulls no punches in this book. Once society collapses, the world is a dark, horrible place. It strikes me as extremely realistic at times and, at other times, a little ridiculous.

It is very clear that almost everyone, even those extremely prepared for disaster, are not long for this world once society collapses. I liked the way the author was able to switch perspectives for the characters throughout the book and, simultaneously, push the story forward.

That said the story could have been a bit longer and focused on some of the characters more. Everything feels very reactionary, and the story could have used some slowing down in places. I’d care a lot more when characters died if I knew more about them.

There are a few weird formatting issues and typos that broke me from the story, but I’d wager there are less than five in the whole book. I’ve found more in published books before, so this wasn’t a huge issue for me.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys survivalist/prepper fiction. You’re not going to learn any new tricks from this book, but it’s still interesting to see how the world develops. It will certainly make you take a hard look at what you might do in the case of a disaster.

A link to the book is here

A link to the Author’s Blog is here.

Behind

I’m so behind it is ridiculous. It’s partially my fault because I was on vacation for a week and, like an idiot, forgot to actually download my files onto my Surface before we left. Finding Wifi was impossible so I was stuck without my crits or Fairy Tale for the entire time. It’s doubly annoying because I was mid-chapter in Fairy Tale writing about Lillim fighting the Goblin King.

One of my Critique Partners worked overdrive and finished all of The Hatter is Mad before I got back so I have an entire book to critique in addition to writing Fairy Tale and doing both my partners’ crits. Which is fine, once I get back into the swing of things I’ll knock out all the crits in a week or two.

I’m heading toward the end of Fairy Tale as well. I think it will be more writing itself from this point on since I’m done slogging out the middle of the book. It’s all downhill from here.

In other news, I sent the final draft of Kill It With Magic to the editor today and am on track to get my return draft by September 8. I think I have enough time to spend a week editing the changes and will still be able to spend a couple days formatting the beast and get it out by September 22. Hopefully some of the dozens of reviewers respond to me between now and then and want to read the book.

Hell, if anyone reading this decides they want to review the book, I’ll gift you a copy =D

I also read four self-published books on my trip and, I have to say, the writing quality was really very good, much better than I’d gotten from my previous experiences. Maybe I’ll get some reviews up on them in the next few days.

Sucked In

I got a crit back yesterday on the first seven chapters of The Hatter Is Mad and, as I was reading it, I totally got sucked into my own book.

That’s never happened to me before.

I think it was partially because It was on my phone and in PDF. Since I couldn’t edit the book, I was forced to read it.

It’s not a bad little book, but I agree with my crit partner. It front loads a lot of information in the beginning.

There are also some chapters that need to be rewritten. It’s nothing that surprising, but it still smells like work.

I’m out of town this week for work, and I’m going out of the country on Thursday so it’s totally possible this will be my last post for like 2 weeks.

Finished

Both my critique partners finished Kill It With Magic over the weekend. Wow! I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I’m fairly sure that they both enjoyed the book. That being said, I’ve made many changes based on their feedback, and the book is much better for it.

It’s a great boost of confidence that they were both satisfied with the ending. I know it is sort of a girly ending, but I like it a lot.

I’ve also finished with plenty of time to give it one more once over before sending it to the editor. After that, it’s time to get kicked out of the nest and fly. I’m strangely nervous and excited at the same time.

Now, I’ve sent them both the second book, The Hatter is Mad. No one has read that book before, so I’m a little scared that it will be horrible. It’s certainly less polished than Kill It With Magic was. Even still, I think it is a much more cohesive story than Kill It With Magic is. I mean the whole story takes place over like three days and has a much more linear plot.

The nice thing about it, from a writer’s standpoint, is I didn’t have to world build nearly as much. I could just do stuff and not have to spend five chapters explaining the nuances of whatever. It’s still fairly standalone, but I might just say “Warthor’s a dick,” in the second book and a reader who went through the first one should get that.

On another note, I hit the 45% finished mark on Fairy Tale. I also, even though it’s not on my schedule, worked through a “Dirge prequel book” that really focuses on Joshua and his origins. I know that makes zero sense to anyone who hasn’t read Kill It With Magic, but it’s exciting to me. I think I might try to push that out instead of Lillim 4. I haven’t decided. I guess it will depend on how I feel about Fairy Tale when I finish.

Surface

My laptop died a couple days ago. My wife had gotten me a laptop for Christmas last year and, in April, I put it away in the office because we had guests coming over. I’m going out of town next week for work so I decided to pull it out and charge it, etc, etc.

The damn thing’s backlight was out. I couldn’t see anything on the screen at all. I called the manufacturer and they sent me some kinda form to send in with the computer so they could fix it. Then they sent me an email saying to bring it into the store.

I took it in the other night and they got really confused at the store. I’m not sure what was supposed to happen exactly, but long story short they refunded me the purchase price of my laptop.

So I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by the device. It’s like a mini laptop with a touch screen.

I’ve had both an Ipad and a Xoom since they came out and never really used them for anything other than playing games at the airport. I don’t even read on them because I have a Kindle.

I struggled, trying to find a way to make either tablet useful in my everyday life or my work life and just couldn’t figure out a way. Almost anything I want to do I can do on my Iphone. Everything else was easier to do on my laptop.

So, initially, I wasn’t super excited about the Surface. I mean, what good is another tablet? Well… that’s the thing. It isn’t a tablet, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s a laptop smashed into a tablet.

It is easily as useful as my laptop was but a whole lot more portable. I love the little flip up keyboard. I use my wireless laptop mouse with it and the keyboard, and I feel like I’m using a real computer.

I had both a pen and keyboard for my Ipad and just couldn’t get into writing on them. It’s not like that with the Surface. Maybe that’s because it’s designed to be a computer and not a hip ipad?

Either way, I’m really happy to have gotten it.

Excited

I’m excited because my first critique partner is on the last two chapters of my book. After that it goes right to my second critique partner. This is the most exciting time of the book for me because “hey it’s the end.”

This is where the book either comes together or it doesn’t. This is where people will read and, hopefully, decide to look up any other books that might be in the series.

It’s also that my last chapter is probably my most favorite in the whole book. I can’t wait to see what they think of it.

I’m literally sitting here checking my mail every two seconds hoping it pops into my email because I’m neurotic.

On that note, I just added a thousand words to my story. I had deleted a scene because I couldn’t make it work in my head, though I knew the story needed it. I finally went back and tried it one last time. Perfection (in that no one hated it)

I’ve never been one of those wordcount intensive writers. I know some people struggle to cut down books, I’m the opposite. I struggle to get past 40-50k words. Kill it With Magic is a solid 67.5k and that’s the longest book I’ve ever written. I know some people will say it’s too short, but, and I dunno how others will feel, I don’t think it feels underwritten (I hope).

I know Book two is underwritten. I can look at it and know exactly what scenes need to be fleshed out. I think I’m just stingy with my words. I always try to write sentences with the fewest words possible. You won’t find extra padding in my story… usually.

It makes me worry because I don’t want someone to buy it and be like… only 67.5k, that’s barely a flesh wound… because you know, books are like gunshot wounds.

I want it to feel satisfying when it’s read, but, unfortunately, if you’re looking for a Patrick Rothfuss style tome, I’m not your guy. Maybe, I can be the guy in the friend zone? I’m cool with that.

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