Tag Archives: books

Book Review #6 – The Voice of the Night

After realizing I’ve been buying way more books than I’ve been reading, I decided to start doing reviews for older books on my shelf to encourage me to clear some space. I wanted to start with something easy to get through that would still be enjoyable, and since I like Dean Koontz for the most part, I started with The Voice of the Night.

Oh boy. This book. Let me tell you. This freaking book.

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I know this was one of Koontz’s earlier works, but he’s always been a little hit and miss with me. This one was a big miss. In fact, have you ever read an author and thought, wow, they are trying REALLY hard to be like another author? Well that was The Voice of the Night for me.

What happened. . . .

Colin is a shy kid who befriends another boy name Roy. Roy happens to be a sociopath who encourages a darker side in Colin. We learn about Colin’s messed up home life, Roy’s obsession with death, and a murder suicide that happened in the town they live in. A girl named Heather gets involved, Roy tries to kill Colin, and Colin and Heather finally take Roy out by luring him to the murder suicide house. Colin has the chance to kill Roy, but decides to show mercy, and winds up calling the cops instead.

All pretty formulaic for Koontz, but that wasn’t what bothered me the most about this book. I can handle an author who writes by a formula, and sometimes you need something like that just to tune out the world for a while. The problem was the psychological horror.

Now, I’m all for psychological horror. In fact it’s one of my favorite types of horror, right after science fiction horror, but the way he tried using it in this book just left me bored. I found myself skipping the chunks of conversations, tuning out, and I even put it down with no intention of picking it back up again.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I liked the characters, but I didn’t. Colin was one dimensional, and Roy talks about raping women, torturing animals, and killing other kids. Even when you find out why he is the way he is, at that point, I just didn’t care. It felt lazy, like I was reading the script to a thrown out idea of a Criminal Minds episode.

The worse part is, it was like he was trying to mimic Stephen King. I know this is some people’s problem with some of Koontz’s work, but this time it really showed. It was lazy story telling, and at the end of the day, he’s told better stories than this one.

If, by some off chance, you’ve never read anything by him, don’t start with this book.

As for the rating, I wouldn’t even check  it out from the library.

 

Have you read The Voice of the Night? What were your thoughts? Disagree with my review? Comment below and let me know!

 

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Know How to Market Your Novel

In 1992, Batman Returns hit theaters to an audience that had, to some extent, no idea what they were in for. This in part was due to the marketing put out at the time, both in content, and the lack there of.

The limited marketing till the last minute, decided by Robert G. Friedman, Warner’s president of worldwide theatrical advertising and publicity at the time*, was meant to build hype. Instead of promoting the movie’s plot, they sold merchandise in the form of toys, t-shirts, and Coke cans. This youth based marketing lead parents to believe that this would be a movie for children.

Then it hit theaters.

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They seemed to have a bit of a miscommunication as far as just how dark this movie was going to be.

The cheerful toys put out by McDonald’s were a far cry from Tim Burton’s version of the Dark Knight, and many believe this caused him to lose his credibility for the next Batman film.

In many ways, because of the poor marketing done by higher ups and misleading the audience, Burton fell from grace in the eyes of the movie goers for a short time, and we wound up with Batman Forever and *shudder* Batman & Robin, both directed by Joel Schumacher.

So what does this have to do with your book?

Too many times, especially with independent and self published authors, bad marketing is done in one of two ways. Spamming social media to the point where followers lose interest, and/or lying to the audience.

Now, of course, this goes without saying that this isn’t what ALL independent authors do, this is just what I notice as a trend in those who don’t know how to marketing works.

Lying to your audience, in my opinion, is the worse of the two. While spamming is annoying, deceiving your audience for the sake of hype discredits you as a writer. If you say your book is a fun fantasy, with promotional products featuring flowers and singing birds, when really it’s a dark story filled with adult themes, the next time someone sees your name, they’re less likely to trust your book.

In Burton’s case, he didn’t have a say in marketing, as he was just the director, but he still suffered for the choices made by higher ups. This is another lesson you can take away from the Batman Returns debacle.

If you hire someone to do the marketing for you, know what they’re putting out.

Burton didn’t have a hand in how his movie was presented to the world, as he answered to Warner Brothers, but you, as an independent author, do. If you hire someone to create your cover, make a video, or do any promotional items for you, you have the right to say the product doesn’t convey the tone of your novel.

This is extremely important. The ability to chose how and what in a novel is put out to the world is why many people are leaning more toward independent publishing vs traditional. If you don’t exercise your right to veto ideas presented by people working for you, you can wind up in the Burton boat.

You should always be polite when working with others, but remember, you need to stand up for your work. Also know that you get what you pay for. Paying someone to design your cover for only $10 is great, however remember that they might not have the best quality product.

All in all, marketing is extremely important. It’s the business side to writing that some independent authors overlook all together, but this is crucial to your sales. Learn from Batman Returns and create a marketing campaign that’s an honest representation of your novel.

Have any marketing tips that work for you? Disagree with anything I said here? Comment below and let me know.

Best Creative Advice I’ve Ever Received

At the time I’m writing this, it’s almost one in the morning and I can’t sleep.

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I can hear the sound of the AC unit on the outside of my office wall and the mumbling of my husband’s audio book he fell asleep listening to. There’s a faint smell of pencil shavings and dusty feathers, and even though I’m wrapped in a blanket to fight the chill, my toes are still frozen.

I’ve been sitting like this for close to an hour now, sketching while listening to the white noise of my house, unable to get the voice of an old coworker out of my head as I erase the same part of a drawing I’ve already done fifteen times.

“Don’t be scared to erase your mistakes. If you erase it and try again, you’re learning how to get it right. Even if it looks worse the second time, you at least tried something new, and found out it didn’t work.”

The man who told me this was one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met. I haven’t seen him in years, but I think about this advice all the time, and not just for drawing but for life in general.

So many times we go through out our day to day, struggling to get things right. We try to write the perfect book, draw the perfect picture, or just try to be someone we’re not for the world around us. We feel kicked and beaten, and often times having to try something again can feel like you’re failing, when this isn’t the case at all.

Every time you stand back up and submit that manuscript, or keep creating, you’re making yourself stronger. You’re learning something. Even if it’s wrong, you’re still becoming better for it.

So, keep on trying. Even if you mess it up over and over again, you’re learning something each time you do. I hope it helps you with whatever you have going on in your life as much as this advice has helped me.

 

What was the best advice you’ve ever been given, either about creating or just about life in general?

Favorite Tropes #2: Badass and Child

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about some of my favorite tropes. Sure, people might not like them, but try as I may, I love some common archetypes in literature and film. That being said, there are far and few that can really beat one of my all time favorites, Bad Ass with a Baby.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with this character duo, let me quote TVtropes.com:

“The Badass and Child Duo in its purest form, occurs when a (usually) male badass takes it upon himself, out of goodness, interest, or circumstances beyond his control, to protect an orphaned, unrelated young (usually) girl.”

Over the years, this trope is one of the ones I notice popping up in my own writing. Even if my protagonist isn’t a “badass” in a physical sense, I find many of my characters who are strong in their field have a younger, inexperienced character they have to protect.

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Why do I like this trope so much?

While this can be characters from the same family, generally this is the perfect example of characters finding a family or someone to care for, without having to be related. There’s something about a love between two people that isn’t romantic or familial that I find beautiful. Often times there’s a sense of obligation to love family or significant others in books and movies, regardless of how they act toward the protagonist. But the bond between true friends, or between two people who have to trust each other completely feels more real to me.

The Badass, usually someone who has given up on finding anything good in the world, needs to have a “child” in their life to teach them there’s something worth living for, and the child also learns how to be strong from their care taker. One is learning strength while the other is learning something gentler, and both walk away better off (when both parties survive that is).

Often times, this relationship can evolve into mentor/student, which I still enjoy either way.

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Favorite Examples in ….

Books

A Song of Ice and Fire – Sandor + Arya

Mercy Thompson series – Mercy + Jesse (eventually becomes family, but still sweet)

Inkheart – Dustfinger + Meggie

 

Movies & Television

(I’m not counting The Professional in this, even though tvtropes does, simply because of the romantic undertones that I don’t feel like fits the trope. Great movie, just not one I would consider in this category.) 

Logan – Logan + Laura

Terminator 2 – T800 + John Connor

Aliens – Ripley + Newt

The Walking Dead – Daryl + Sophie // (later Judith)

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Scar + Mai

 

What’s your favorite example of this trope? Do you find it popping up in your writing? Let me know below!

Author Interview #10 – K Kibbee

If there’s one author on Twitter that’s stood out above others, it’s K (Kristine) Kibbee. When I first got involved with the #amwriting crowd, her work in progress bits caught my eye, and I knew I wanted to interview her for my blog.

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After reading one of her books, I finally was able to reach out to her! Enjoy.

Q. To start out, tell us a little bit about what project you’re currently working on. What part of the writing process are you in?

  • Goodness gracious, it’d be easier to tell you what I’m NOT working on! I’m presently launching book three in the Forests of the Fae series (Lang’s Labyrinth), prepping book #2 in my Theodore and the Enchanted Bookstore series (The Tale of Robin Hound) AND working on a new, hush-hush project that I hope will be the biggest yet!

 


Q. I’ve only read one of your books, Devlin’s Door: Forests of the Fae, and I love the use of the Pacific Northwest mixed with fairies. What was your biggest influences for your Forests of the Fae series?

  • Interesting you should ask, m’dear! I was inspired to write FotF after reading about an old, abandoned ghost town across the bay from Astoria. The city, named Frankfort, was left for dead back in the 60’s and has become an inhabitable, unreachable place overtaken by the wilds of the Northwest. It provided fodder a’plenty for this ole’ writer brain to get going, and my childhood fascination with Faeries took over from there! I’ve long been a fan of all things Faerie (think Brian Froud, Jim Henson, etc.), particularly the darker ilk. 😉

 

Q. If you could have dinner with any of your antagonists which one would it be?

  • Wow, that’s an excellent question! I think I’d love to have dinner with Aunt Claudia…just to see the glower on her face.

 

Who inspired you the most in your writing life?

  • I suppose that my Mom was my biggest inspiration. Ironically, she’s also been my loudest critic . . . but it’s ultimately made me a better writer.

 

Q. You’re extremely active online, and participate in numerous hashtag games. What advice would you give to people who are trying to build their online presence?

  • Another well-timed question on your part! I actually just participated in a podcast/Skype-style interview that is geared towards up-and-coming writers who are seeking to gain a foothold in the literary community. As my portion of the presentation, I offered a 30-minute “Tweetorial,” which will be available online next month! I don’t have a link at present, but Sage Adderly, with “Sage’s Blog Tours,” is the driving force and should be posting it in the coming weeks.

 

Q. What writer do you look up to? Do you find yourself emulating their writing style?

  • If I were to pick a recognizable face to look up to, it would probably be J.K. Rowling’s. I’m sure this is an answer often given by indie authors, but I suspect my reasoning is different. I fancy Rowling for her activism and for what she’s done to improve the writing world (and the world at large!) with her sizable royalty checks. I do, also, admittedly, admire her dedication to research and world building… although I don’t find myself emulating her work.

 

Q. I noticed you went to college at Washington State University. Were there any professors who influenced your writing or inspired you on your journey?

  • Honestly, my memory has the consistency of Swiss cheese. Unless you’d reminded me that I went to WSU, I’d have plum forgotten! So…that’s a hard no. I can’t even remember my professors’ names!

 

Q. When writing Devlin’s Door, was the main character, Anne, inspired by anyone in your life?

  • Anne was more inspired by everyone than anyone. I tried to make Anne your ordinary, everyday girl. She has no magical powers . . . no royal ancestry . . . she’s just a girl with pluck, cleverness, and an enduring spirit.

 

Q. What was the first writing project you worked on and what did you learn from it?

  • Again with the Swiss cheese memory! I could no sooner tell you how many bottles my Mom typically gave me in a day! I do recall piecing together little stories about dogs, using clippings from various magazines I had laying about. I was young enough . . . the most I learned from that experience was probably not to eat glue.

 

Q. What’s your favorite thing about writing for the Middle Grade age group?

  • I feel like MG readers still have enough youthful innocence that their imaginations are malleable, and willing to stretch a bit further than those of older readers.

 

Q. E.L. Doctorow once said, “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” What have you learned from the past few books you’ve worked on?

  • I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts in the writing world. I think everyone wants to be this overnight sensation. They imagine the Hollywood version of a writer–where a book deal is lain your lap by some publisher heralding your praises. If you believe that, I’ve got some magic beans to sell you! This is W-O-R-K…a mountain of it. So much, in fact, that no sane person would ever seek it out.

 

Q. If there was one fairy tale you’d like to rewrite for a modern audience, which one would it be, and how would you write it?

  • I guess the idea of rewriting turns my stomach a bit. It makes me ill to see things copied over and over and over and over again. There are so many amazing, creative new ideas. Why do we keep rehashing the old ones? Naw, my mind wants to create something new. I have far too much imagination to mimic someone else.

 

Q. Everyone always goes on about what they love about writing. What do you dislike about writing, and how do you overcome this?

  • I’ve come across it a few different times and can’t tell you who the original author was/is….but the quote that comes to mind is, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That’s me, in a nutshell. It’s always difficult to get myself to just SIT DOWN AND WRITE. But when I do, I always walk away feeling immensely satisfied. There’s nothing like it. Well, short of cake. 😉

(edit – Thank you to alamlovespoetry via twitter, for letting us know that Dorothy Parker is the source to this quote)

 

Q. Are there other art forms you find yourself taking part in?

  • I do a bit of sculpting, but the kiln keeps blowing my stuff to bits. I feel like someone is trying to give me a hint.

 

Q. Writing is an exhausting process, and it’s always good to take a step back before attacking the page again. What helps you the most when it comes to taking a break from writing?

  • I do a lot of walking. A LOT. 10 miles a day. It’s very therapeutic and meditative.

 

Q. Which character of yours do you find yourself thinking of more than others?

  • Curiously, I think about the animal characters. It’s so difficult to interpret what animals are thinking, because they can’t tell you. I always worry that I’m not portraying them correctly.

 

Q. Lastly, where do you see your writing career taking you in five years?

  • I’d love to say that I see myself skyrocketing to the top of the NYT Best Seller list, but if my past 15 plus years are any indication . . . I’ll just be slogging along, as per usual . . . sharing my work and trying to bring a bit of magic into this oft-dull world.

 

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Want more of K Kibbee? Find her here! 

http://www.Goodreads.com/KKibbee
http://www.Facebook.com/KKibbeewrites
http://www.Amazon.com/author/KKibbee
http://www.Incorgnitobooks.com/authors/K-Kibbee
Twitter @K_Kibbee

Favorite Childhood Books

My mom was big on teaching me and my siblings how to read from a young age. I learned the escapism books provided, and reading these stories gave me the drive to want to write my own.

 

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Song of the Lioness – Tamora Pierce

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The Giver Quartet – Lois Lowry

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Full Tilt – Neil Shusterman
Check my post about how much this author has influenced my life.

 

 

 

 

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Doctor Franklin’s Island – Ann Halam

 

 

 

 

 

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Inkheart Trilogy – Cornelia Funke

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The Guardians of Time – Marianne Curley

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The Uglies – Scott Westerfeld

What books shaped your writing experience?

 

Want more January blogging challenges? Check out Tanja RamirezLily Couldridge, and Alexandra Burt‘s pages. They’re all taking part as well. It’s not too late for you to do the same! Just link me to whatever social media you’re posting your challenge on, and I’ll give you a shout out.

Who’s up for a January Blogging Challenge?

With 2018 fast approaching, and my creative moral low, I’m looking for ways to boost my spirits. Since I always loved topic challenges as a kid, I decided hey, if it got my butt in gear then, maybe it’ll help now?

Take a look, and if you feel like taking part, please do! Some of it is a little specific to me, so make any chances that you see fit.

31 Day Bloggin Challenge

Do you have a blogging challenge you’re doing? Share it below!

Book Review #5 – The Scarlet Gospels

I never liked horror growing up, but back in 2012 my friend in Alaska convinced me to read more horror and less urban fantasy. Since then, I’ve been slowly dipping my toe in the genre one spine tingling book at a time. This Book Monday I’m going over the last horror book I read, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker.

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The Scarlet Gospels was released in 2016, and follows the story of the Hell Priest (Pinhead), as he attempts to use magic against unseen enemies while being hunted by Henry D’Amour. D’Amour, a supernatural detective, has to find out what the cenobite is up to before it’s too late for our world, Heaven and Hell.

I’m coming at this review as someone who’s only ever seen the first Hell Raiser movie, so I’m leaving out how a couple of backstory points were lost on me since I hadn’t read the previous books in this universe. That being said, I could still read the book without feeling completely left in the dark, which I think is a great point about this novel. It’s enjoyable for its new audience while still playing to old plots.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that the over all feel of the novel wasn’t horror. Sure some of it was gory and had unsettling imagery, but as a reviewer on Amazon put it, it felt more like a Buffy the Vampire episode than something that was supposed to be a terrifying walk through Hell.

That’s not to say I agree with all of the points in that one star review. It was still enjoyable to see a demon rebel against Hell. Demons are constantly at war with angels, but when they butt heads with one another, it’s always more enjoyable to me. I also enjoyed the banter from the human characters and found it to be a good example of how some people use humor when faced with something they don’t feel like they can comprehend.

I was disappointed with the sudden drop in the Hell Priest’s character, however. For most of the book, he’s violent, but charismatic. While he enjoys pain, there’s something almost Hannibal Lector about him, but then there’s a sudden shift where he becomes so outraged that he lashes out like an indignant child. He doesn’t just take joy in pain, he rushes the abuse of several characters just because he’s mad. It happened so suddenly, I was completely pulled out of the narrative.

I also didn’t care for D’Amour’s character in the final act either. It feels like the first part of the book was written with one plot in mind, and the second was a completely different story. The character went from the cold hardened detective of all things damned. to just another noir inspired cop.

While the characters seemed to fall to the back burner, the plot was fantastic. Anything that reminds me of Dante’s Inferno gets a gold star in my book, and that’s exactly what the last half of the book was. I didn’t care what happened to the characters, I just wanted more descriptions about how Barker envisioned Hell.

That being said, there were a few ex machina points at the that seemed WAY too convenient for someone of Barker’s writing history to be guilty of. For example, they’re lost in the middle of a desert and a car happens to come out of nowhere to help them. Maybe I missed something, or maybe there was something in another book that had more to do with this, but I was left scratching my head going, what the heck? Many of the characters’ journey to get to the final climax point were just too convenient and it just felt like Barker was tired of telling their POV and only wanted to focus on The Hell Priest’s.

Over all, I was torn over what rating to give this book. On one hand, the characters were much more entertaining the first half of the book, but the plot was slow, but then on the other the second half was a great story with lack luster characters. I’d say buy it in paperback if you happen to see it, but don’t go out of your way to pick it up.

 

Did you enjoy The Scarlet Gospels? Have you read other works by Clive Barker? How does it hold up? Comment below and let me know!

2018 Reading List – Call for Books

Well it’s that time of the year again. Time to get my reading list stacked up.

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As you probably remember from my past posts, I stopped reading back in 2012. I was going through some stuff, and am finally feeling like myself again. Now I have years of not reading to make up for.

Here’s the start of my reading list. If you’ve written a book, or if you have any suggestions based off what’s on this list, please let me know. I can always use some help.

 

Listed Above

  1. And Then There Were None – Suggested by unknown person on instagram
  2. Imager – Picked up the first 3 in this series at a thrift store.
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Everyone seems to like this, so why not try it?
  4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Found in a free book bin
  5. The Third Twin – Found in a free book bin
  6. Dead Heat – I’m just a huge Patricia Briggs fan, so she was bound to be on here.
  7. Lexicon – Found in a free book bin
  8. Feast of Souls – Was supposed to be on my 2017 reading list but I never got around to it.

Needs to be Bought

  1. Borne – Suggested by esktasy on Twitter

 

That’s it for now! I’ll be adding more to this as I get more suggestions.