My Post about a Post about how to Ask Strangers for Favors

So with my novel now in the hands of ten or so beta readers I’ve been racking the old brain meats for what to do next. Should I, A.) Keep on with the working draft of the sequel? B.) Start start scheming on how to get my book into readers who aren’t obligated to like me because they’re my friends and family? C.)  Stew in my own special broth of anxiety (two parts fear of being judged, one part fear of the future) until the betas come back with reviews?

Oh, the choices.

Rather than be a worry wart or put time into a draft that may end up being a total rewrite I’ve decided on option B. With that in mind, I clicked the trusty ole’ Search button on the side of my blog admin page and started hunting for answers on how one goes about finding book bloggers who might be willing to give my humble tome a shot. I found a few useful posts — and a few, well, less than useful posts — but the cream of the crop is a post from the blog of Cinthia Ritchie on how to not piss off book bloggers entitled, “How to not piss off a book blogger when requesting a review.”

Apropos much?

Anyways, if you’re looking for the same sort of advice on how to not anger internet strangers when you’re asking for their help I’d suggest giving it a go. Also take a peek at the blog of the very nice lady who did the interview for the post, Julie Valerie, right here.

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Another Sick Day: Staying Home to Read Insurgent

You need this book, dude.

I think you should know there’s, like, a ton of spoilers in this post. And not the good kind of spoilers, like when your grandma used to buy you tons of candy even when your parents told her not to.

For a guy with a solid immune system I sure seem to get sick a lot. Totally left-field for me, I swear. Usually I get one super nasty bug and then I’m Superman for the rest of the year. Not this time though. The Übermensch of cold viruses decided to invade my nasal passages two times this season just to remind me that it could make me its baby boy biatch whenever it wants.

The upside of having a license to ill (that’s a Beastie Boy reference there, FYI) is that I get to stay home from work and do nothing all day–and by “nothing” I mean read Veronica Roth’s new book, Insurgent. Don’t be jelly, people! I’m about 50% through this thing (gotta love the progress counter thingy on the Kindle, right?) and I’ve got a few first impressions to share with all you peeps. I’m assuming you all know the gist of the Divergent Trilogy story line so I’ll just skip the whole synopsis thing and get straight to what I think so far.

The Good: The dialogue has been super dope from the start. The tension between Tris and Four was totally believable, and the snappy banter between Tris and the other Dauntless–especially Uriah–had me cracking up. The description of various places was totally off the chain too. The way Roth laid out the Amity headquarters made me feel like I was right there, strolling under the thick canopy in the orchard. And the way she described the Candor headquarters with the black and white everywhere? Get outta here! What a fricken awesome way to decorate the headquarters of the faction that sees only truth and lies, right? Actually, the way she has painted the headquarters of all the factions has been beyond pro, each one reflecting the character of the faction members. So well done, Ms. Roth.

The Meh: The only thing I thought was a little bit of shenanigans was how seriously mature Tris seemed at times. Perfect example: the scene toward the beginning where she and Tobias were about to do the no-pants dance, but Tris puts the kibosh on old Mr. Grabby Hands before he made it to second. Tris says something about how she doesn’t want to get freaky with him because she feels like its for the wrong reasons, namely to distract herself from her grief. This, I didn’t buy.

Before you get all worked up let me explain what I mean. I get that some people mature faster than others. I, for instance, still get a kick out of typing 58008 on old calculators and then turning then upside down. The thing is, Tris seems waaaay too insightful for a sixteen-year old with almost zero life experience. I know she saw some serious trauma in the last book, but I don’t think that accounts for some of the next level introspection that Tris has going on. Maybe it’s possible for a kid to be that mature, but I just think it’s unlikely.

But hey, what do I know? Girls are supposed to mature faster than guys anyways, right?

So yeah, that’s where I’m at for now. I know I’m the new mayor of Sucksville for breaking my own rules and not posting on Monday, but I like I said, I was super dooper sick. As soon as I finish this book I’m going to be up on here giving you the low down on Veronica Roth’s next installment.

Until then, Dear Reader. G’night.

[image sourced here]

Article 5, The Never Prayer, and Me Holding a Baby

Holy guacamole, I am about as tired as you can get, but I’m going to fight this sleep a little more as I really want to stick to this new plan of blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

So I’ve finally gotten to a new book after plowing through Kristen SimmonsArticle 5 a few days ago. If you haven’t checked that book out then you probably should stop whatever you’re doing and get it. The book follows the story of a girl living in this post-WWIII America where a Christian theocracy has come into power. Are you freaked yet?

In this Santorumesque world, the government has suspended the Bill of Rights, opting for a simpler–albeit wicked brutal–set of rules called the Moral Statutes. These new statutes totally screw over everybody who A.) isn’t Christian, and/or B.) doesn’t have a penis. The opening scene totally dragged me in, kicking off with the protagonist getting ripped away from her mom because of the institution of the latest statute–Article 5. This new rule literally makes it a crime to have been born out of wedlock. How bad would that suck, right? Seeing as I don’t like being a book spoiler, I’m going to leave the plot outline there and hope you’re hooked enough to check this thing out.

While I was reading this book I kept thinking it was like a YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale, except with more forbidden teen romance in place of the subjugation of women and the Orwellian destruction of language. Not to say Simmons’ worldbuilding lacked anything, but Atwood’s vision of a Judeo-Christian theocracy in the United States is more brutal than Norwegian black metal. That thing makes all these YA dystopian settings look like a five-year old’s vision of Candyland rather than a post-apocalyptic autocratic state.

Still though, I think Article 5 totally shoots and scores on what I think it was aiming to do: be a romantic YA novel that touches on current issues involving religion and its place in the political conversation if it is left to run rampant. And if thats what Simmons was aiming for then I think she totally kicked ass at it. Well done, Kristen!

So yeah, I need to do some talking about this new book I’ve been getting into from Aaron M. Ritchey called The Never Prayer. Let me be straight with you becuase when I saw that this book had angels in it I was a bit hesitant to pick the thing up. Not that I don’t like paranormal stuff–Lord knows I love me some paranormality–but when it comes to angels my brain goes straight to romance. And not the super dramatic let’s-kill-ourselves-and-be-together-forever kind of romance (that stuff can be cool) but rather the sparkly vampire kind, know what I mean?

I’m stoked to say that so far I’ve been wrong. This book doesn’t have any sparkles at all so far, which is a total plus for me. I’m only a couple of chapters in–my stupid Kindle kept updating–but so far I get the idea that there’s some risqué stuff going on with the girl we’re following. I’m talking risqué as in she could have had a song written about her by The Police, asking her not to “turn on the red light.” You picking up what I’m putting down? I hope so.

Yep, that's me holding a baby.

So yeah, that’s about it. I want to apologize right now if any parts of this post are screwy as I am about to fall asleep on my keyboard. Also, check out this picture of me holding a baby. Every time someone let’s me hold their baby I always start to think, “Man, I need one of these.”

Have a good night!

The Scoop on Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children

Getting sick is the pits. Your nose runs, you cough a bunch, and all the Samoas Girl Scout cookies you stuff in your mouth taste like coconut flecked plywood. Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but you get what I mean. There’s a solid upside to contracting acute coryza though: you have an excuse to put off all your “responsibilities” and just read a bunch of books.

My latest bout with the common cold afforded me the chance to get down with two books I’d been meaning to read for a more than a minute. The first, A Million Suns, was my topic of the night a couple days ago. The other was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the first novel by a fella named Mr. Ransom Riggs.

Riggs did a solid job of catching my attention from the get-go. He lays out the wicked boring life of Jacob Portman, a Floridian rich kid who is destined to inherit a drug store empire. This kid Jacob, he kind of bugged me when I first met him. He reminded me of one of these bourgeois trust-fund brats who somehow end up with a bunch of emotional troubles despite never having anything to be upset about. His parents were more of the same–a dad who at middle-age is still trying to find himself, and a mom that divides her time between downing wine and complaining about “the help.” Not the sort of folks I’d take pleasure in knowing.

Jacob’s life gets screwed all the way to H-E double hockey sticks when he stumbles upon the body of his dead grandpa, a WWII veteran with a bit of a mysterious past. What’s more, his grandpa’s last words–a cryptic message that make sense as the story unfolds–lob Jacob into the shallow end of the depression pool. Poor Jacob ends up in therapy, trying in vain to sort out the craziness that his grandpa’s message stirred around his brain while his parents try and coddle him back to his old self. The story eventually moves on–a little too slowly, in my opinion–to a handful of discoveries that lead Jacob across the Atlantic so that he can find his true calling as a peculiar child.

Taken as a whole, the book was pretty darn good. The idea was super original and didn’t rely at all on the sort of gimmicky twists that plague a lot of YA mysteries. I think it’s worth mentioning too that I got sort of a Chronicles of Narnia meets X-Men vibe from it. I think this came from Jacob having a whole world that he can see juxtaposed with all the amazing powers of the kids who live there (I’m thinking mostly of Emma here and her ability to throw fire like a pro). Also, I felt like the role he had to play in this new world was similar to the role the Pevensie children had to play when taking on that cantankerous old White Witch.

The only gripe I had–and this is a pretty small one, believe me–was the part of the book between the discovery of his grandpa’s body and his trip across the Pond. Jacob complains so much about the people in his life that I half-expected him to get all Holden Caulfield on me and start calling everybody phonies. I would have appreciated if Riggs had sped this part of the book up, moving us onto the action that made this book so fun to read.

That’s about it on the review side of things. I’ve got to work on my own book now–you know, the one I’ve neglected for two fricken days. But I definitely want to know what you thought of this book. So lay it on me–good or bad, I want to know.

A Million Suns and Girl Scout Cookies

There’s a good chance that I’m going to die soon.

Okay, so it’s not that serious. I just have a cold, but it is an ornery one! After I got sent home from work today–sweating and hacking are not conducive to a productive workplace, apparently–I decided to flop on the couch, let my body rest, and finish A Million Suns, Beth Revis’s sequel to Across the Universe.

First off, let me rave about how diggety dope it is to get a regular old sci-fi story that’s written for a YA audience. It seems like every single YA sci-fi book out right now is an 80,000 word bummer fest about how the world totally sucks after the downfall of civilization. I’m crossing all my appendages and hoping that this year we’ll see more books like this.

Now to the book! There were a few major things that I couldn’t get down with–the kind that drag my disbelief down in deafening crash. The biggest gripe first: why did it seem like every single person on the whole frexing ship could easily gain access to the most sensitive sections onboard? Every time Amy was on the cryo level she seemed to be running into Orion’s creepy stalker/special lady. How does that happen? That chick was nuts, right? So why not restrict her access to the people Orion was so desperate to kill in the first book? Then there was the whole drama bomb of Amy withholding information from Elder about that psycho Luther, even after they found the dead girl in the field who’d obviously fallen victim to him. What the heezy was that sheezy? I understand that Amy is wicked traumatized by the whole event from book one but when Luther is going all psycho on the Feeders why doesn’t she fill Elder in on it until the book is almost over? I mean, she mentions a bunch of times that she knows Luther is evil as all get-out. She even gets the chuztpa to threaten his life! So why not fill her star-crossed lover in on the seriously relevant information about a serial rapist on the loose?

Some nuts and bolts stuff wore on me as well. Revis’s…overuse…of…ellipses…got super old, super quick. Seeing too many ellipses is annoying as it tends to yank me out of the story. I understand that the characters are conflicted–or maybe having a hard time completing full thoughts?–but there has got to be a better way of expressing it besides dumping trios of periods on every page.

So for me, Beth Revis’s new book inspires nothing little more than a, “meh,” albeit a positive one. I thought the book was pretty decent as far as the story went–good pacing, great suspense, witty dialogue–but the above gripes were more irritating than an Indian burn.

Ok, so enough talking about A Million Suns, and more talking about my new followers! I want to say thanks to SMS DesiRe and Mutterings and St-Stutterings for following my blog. Mutterings and St-Stutterings is a mother-effing HIGH-larious (read that word in your best Jayne Cobb voice) blog that is pretty much about nothing at all. Imagine an episode of Seinfeld but in blog form and you’ll get what I mean.

FYI: Samoas beat the crap out of Thin Mints eight days a week.

That’s it, everybody. Girl Scout cookie season started in western Washington today so I’m off to shovel a box of Samoas down my throat. They say, “Feed the Cold,” right? So that’s what I’m going to do–feed that slippery bastard until he can’t button his pants. That’ll show him.

[pretty picture from here]

High-Five Me If You Love Iron Codex

I love me some book trailers. Granted, some of them are totally weak-sauce and suck super bad, but the new one from from Caitlin Kittredge’s Nightmare Garden looks wicked sweet. I’m reading the first book in the series right now and it is a prime example of steampunky goodness. Honestly, watching this trailer gets me super pumped (mathematically pumped!) to drive on through these things. So pumped, in fact, that I would high five you through your monitor right now if I could.

Check it out!

Also, you should def check out Caitlin’s website for all the goodness that is her writing. You’ll thank me. I promise.

You Can’t Take The Sky From Me

And I’m back!

Now I know I said I’d be back yesterday, but it turns out that I am a liar. I big fat horrible liar.

But I have a good excuse.

As you may have noticed I’ve been spending some time working on the appearance of this blog thingy. See, I’m the kind of guy who waits and waits for something to drive me nuts before I get around to changing it. Perfect example: the cleanliness of my house. Things have to be looking pretty sketchy around here before I’m willing to do something about it.

*Here is a brief pause for you to get all the “Ewwwww!” out of your system.*

I know, I know. It’s a bad habit. But I feel that if I’m comfortable being that way then I’m just going to do it. Why change it if it works for me, right?

Now, back to what I was saying about the appearance of this here Bloggity Blog. The time came for change. Drastic change. The fresh-out-of-the-box look just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I needed it to be something cool but also had elements of what I like. I needed a color scheme, a header, and few other little doodads that showed the things I’m into. After thinking real hard about the stuff I like, I came up with a few heavy hitters:

1. Aliens

2. Spaceships

3. Americana

4. Made-up words

What do you get when you put them together? A cross-stitched header with grey alien heads, flying saucers, and a totally made-up word (Guess which one. It rhymes with “sloggity.”). I hope you like it!

Now, down to the real point of this entry: the giggly tale of my fanboy encounter with the author of Cinder, Marissa Meyer.

Let me start off by saying how fricken nice she was. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it was a publicity event and she was probably trying to be extra nice, but I did not get a single vibe of fake niceness that one might expect from someone in her position. Plus, if my face was half as red as it felt then there’s a decent chance she thought I had some sort of contagious skin condition. If that was the case, then she deserves extra points for keeping it together in the face of perceived bodily danger.

The whole thing kicked off with her giving the crowd a little background on how she got started writing (did somebody say Sailor Moon fanfic?), and then followed it up with a reading from her book. After all that she got into a Q & A session with the audience where she shared her thoughts about everything from Joss Whedon’s world building in Firefly, to the impact Sailor Moon had on her. She even shared her story about how one exhausting NaNoWriMo saw her hammer out full manuscripts for what would become the first two books of the Lunar Chronicles (all for a walk-on spot on Star Trek, no less).

Not too long ago I read an interview with Marissa where she said that at times she wanted to be a writer so badly that she felt like she could cry. Man, I can empathize with that. It’s that exact sentiment that pushes me to work harder–to dedicate months worth of time to become a master of the craft and succeed as a writer. That’s why seeing her in front of all those people–people who were there because of her work–was definitely my favorite part of the day. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate someone who is willing to sacrifice their mental well-being to get on Star Trek. I’d be the first to champion that noble cause! But the feeling that I got from seeing someone who has put in the work and seen the results had to be the best part of the deal for me.

Well that, and the picture Marissa took with my wife and I.

Who is Marissa's fav Sailor Scout? Sailor Venus, of course!