New Rating System

As I’m reading a ton of books as of late, I chose to come up with a better rating system. It seems more productive to have this in place. So, starting with “Heartsnare,” by Stephen B. Williams, I’m  rolling out my new way of reviewing books. It is a fair system to all authors. This is how it will go. I think it’s a great system, and I can still use it for nonfiction. The plot for nonfiction is usually what the author is trying to explain or their point of the title.

  1. Characters: You either earn a one up to five stars on characters. Are they likable, lovable, redeemable, or relatable? Did they blur the lines with their characters (ex: not all good/bad)? Did they throw in useless characters in the middle of the book with no rhyme nor reason? Did the author accurately spend time with each character to develop them? For SFF (science fiction & fantasy), did the author use abundant character archetypes?
  2. Plot: Does this novel have a good plot? Five is the most an author can earn for the complexities of their plot devices. Did they use minor and major plots? What’s the purpose of a story if it doesn’t have a plot? I know a lot of authors don’t use plots. But there’s always a plot somewhere in a story even if it’s a minor plot. Is it character or plot-driven? Yes, I’m dissecting all books at this point. I want to say this when I read a book… “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!” If you’re able to do that, I’ll give you a five for this category.
  3. Book Covers: Does this book cover have anything that pertains to the novel? One to five stars if the book cover accurately depicts what’s happening inside the book.
  4. Writing: This is very important. Is the author clear? Is it well-written? Do they know their tenses? Did they write in the same tense, or did they change tenses in mid-chapter? Did they use correct grammar and spelling? Did they use too many adverbs? Does any phrase stand out? Is there too much slang? Did the author jump from point of views in one chapter, or did they properly put in a chapter to switch  point of views? One to five stars earned for a well-written story. Redundancy… Does it sound like a broken record? Are they showing or telling? A writer should always show and never tell. If character B is a dick, show me why he’s a dick. Give me dialogue as to why he’s a dick. Don’t tell me he’s a dick with no solid evidence.
  5. Formatting: Are the words falling off the page? Did they use accurate scene and chapter breaks? Is it properly spaced & titled? Formatting can help or trash a good book. How about the table of contents? Is there a table of contents in proper heading 1?

I will take a tally of all five categories and rate each book according to the score. So, if you earned a one on book cover, but scored a five on writing, formatting, plot, and characters; I’ll add up the score. Divide the total number by five and that’s your rating. Let’s try this shall we? 1+5+5+5+5=21/5= 4.2 for a round-down of 4/5 stars. If it’s 4.5, I would round-up to 5/5 stars. They don’t distribute half or partial stars for book reviews.

Diversity doesn’t earn you extra points with me. I love it, but I don’t necessarily need it. All I want is a clear story that takes me there. It needs to flow like water without me trying to decipher what the author is trying to explain.

A book has to be horrific for me to give it a one-star review. Basically, my first rough draft was a bit of a mess. As long as I can read it, I can review it. It has to be worse than the first draft, I stupidly published without editing it at all! Laugh now! Yes, it was my newbie mistake. I took my books off the shelf to properly edit my works. I took many years to study how to write. I don’t bother to edit blogs. But when it comes to my books, I’m on top of that shit. So, unless your book is as bad as that draft of mine, I’ll be okay.

Epic Fantasy

I guess you could write it in one book, but what would be the point? The reason why I love this genre so much is because of its flexibility. I love fantasy in general. The entire genre is complex and offers many different avenues. There are so many sub-genres within fantasy itself. And I always look at people strangely, when they say they loathe fantasy. But I bet those same people have watched Lord of The Rings or Lion, Witch, and The Wardrobe. Harry Potter also qualifies as fantasy. You hate fantasy? What!?! Have you lost your mind? “Well Star Wars is a fantasy!” Um… no it isn’t. It’s called a Space Opera, which it fits more with sci-fi. Which, I love sci-fi, except for one tiny problem. I hate time skips, jumps, or time turners, or stuff like that. Anything that deals with time, usually leaves big gaping plot holes.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy kind of feeds each other. It’s normal to have a little fantasy into sci-fi and sci-fi into fantasy. Not always does dystopian mean it has to be sci-fi. You can put it in fantasy, too. I always prefer a good fantasy novel. But I do love sci-fi as well. There’s so much you can do with aliens, it’s insane. Maybe it’s because fantasy is normally dominated with tough masculine characters like Conan the Barbarian. That’s normal for people to think of that, when fantasy pops into their heads. But when someone says they hate fantasy, I’m taken aback. It’s like a sucker punch to the gut. There’s a little fantasy in every book. It blows my mind how people can hate one genre of literature.

I won’t get into the sub-genres of fantasy because there are too many to list! I chose epic fantasy because it gives me that flexibility of switching each book into another main character. Sure, I could have put them all in one book but I hate head hopping. So, each one of my books, starts off with a new main character. Epic fantasy normally has a large cast of characters and multiple main characters. The plots are extremely complex and there are multiple plots. You can get away with a lot of shit in epic fantasy. It does carry some sci-fi elements to it. You can have a romance plot, a sci-fi plot, a personal plot, anything you want. They normally carry a high word count and multiple pages. It’s like being on a wild roller coaster. You have corkscrews, hills, dips, and drops. That’s why I love this sub-genre so much. You could have a plot that is a mystery, romance, sci-fi, and multiple other plots. Normally this is told in third person but you can write it in first person point of view. For a while there, I was writing my series in first person and in present tense. I found that writing in present tense is extremely difficult to do. I switched it all to past tense. I like putting humor in mine. Not the offensive type of humor. Just enough to make a person giggle. And when I’m dealing with my characters, they all have a pretty good sense of humor. I do giggle at some of the things, my characters have done/said. It helps with the dramatic scenes. When you lose one of them, it’s hard to handle. I sacrificed many characters. Book 4, was/is the hardest one to write because something major goes down. I have cried and lamented over this book. I feel evil when I have to do something to shake it up.

There are tense scenes that leave my characters calling each other vulgar names. When your character is pissed, they say whatever comes to mind. For the most part, I have plotted out my plot lines for every book. The only thing I don’t know is what my characters say or do. They do it themselves. I give them a scene and they run with it. I give them a topic that is going on in our world, they take it and show me how they handle it. I don’t know what I wrote until I go through the drafts. And then I’m blown away. I really wrote all that? This is the legal way of being insane and getting away with it.

How do I keep my characters in check? For the most part, I memorize all of my major and minor characters. I know all of my contagonists, triagonists, and who is a dirty bird. It may seem like I’ve left plots open but those are filled in with the next book or two books down the line. I memorize everything. It also helps to keep a journal nearby.

What are some of the plots I like to use? I like a good mystery thrown in, romance, sci-fi, steampunk, erotic scenes, humor, sword and sorcery, action, adventure, crime, and anything else I can think of. They aren’t my major plots. I have one major plot that carries over from novel to novel. I won’t say what my major plot is. I have two of them. People normally can guess the first plot but they struggle with the secondary main plot. Nobody has yet to confront me about the secondary main plot. They have confronted me over the first main plot. I just giggle. They think it’s going to go one way and it goes another route. And then they wind up hating this character with a passion. All I can say is… read my tagline. Study my tagline. If a literary agent asked me what my series is about, I would answer with one tagline. That would be the shortest synopsis or proposal ever. And it only contains six words. “What is your series about?” I tell them what it’s about in six words. “No, really… what is your series about?” No, really… six words. I giggle all the time about it. How could it be so simple? I believe writers make their synopsis harder than what it needs to be. You should be able to explain your novel in one sentence. I can explain my entire series in one sentence.

Even when I read these new releases or future releases, I can condense their book into one sentence. I guess that’s why I don’t bother reading the blurbs. Some authors love to write a lengthy blurb or none at all. I don’t bother with them or other reviews. I’ll decide for myself if I loved a book or not. Same with my series. If I figure that I’m doing the dreaded info dumps, I’ll cut that shit out. That is the major drawback of writing a series vs. a stand-alone. You have to explain shit from the previous book into the new book. And you have to make sure your timelines are just right. So many series have failed to have their timelines down. They can’t remember the months or the years, characters did shit. That’s the first thing you do, when you begin writing a series. You outline the entire timelines. I have my characters’ birthdays and when certain events happened.

Will I write another series? Yes. I have four other series planned after this series is completed. I just need to finish reading all the ARCS, I have downloaded. I always delete every ARC I have. This message will self-destruct. I don’t want another writer’s document on my computer or kindle any longer than I need it. I’ve read 17 ARCS. I’m about tapped out on reading. I still have 130 books left to read for the year. I still need to write my own series. Merge book 1 back together again and roll on. I’d like to have at least all the second drafts of my books done by the end of this year. Then I’ll do a massive edit. I’ll sit down and edit all the books at once and then release them. I should be passed April and I’ll retain the rights to my book. I don’t believe mine will ever be traditionally published. That’s okay, I can stick around with the self-published books. The problem, I need an editor. But I don’t want to pay someone who I can’t see eye to eye with. That’s like throwing your money away. I’ve already been through two editors. I’m beyond frustrated at this point. So, to keep my readers happy, I’ll keep posting my series on Wattpad. Wattpad gives me time to develop as a writer. I know my shit stinks. I don’t care to hear it or read my reviews. And I won’t put it up for sale without an editor. That’s like stealing people’s’ money. I don’t feel good about that. It needs to go through major edits by a professional editor before I stick it back on the shelf again. Many selfies love doing that, I can’t. My moral compass keeps me from doing that. And my illustrator has went MIA. So, I’m back to square one. All I can do is keep editing. And hope that one day, I can put my series up on that shelf again. I do have a theme song, playing in the background that only I can dream about.

Do I think it’s a great series? Yes! Is it something different? Yes! But the problem is that it’s about vampires. Not many, if any literary agents want to deal with another vampire series. You have so many of them out there. So, I call this my throw away series. I own all the rights to it. All I can do is work on being  a better writer for another series. But I love the characters from this series. It will be hard to write another series, when your heart is with one. I feel like I’m letting those characters down. Blame it on Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, and whatever else has to deal with vampires. The general public is maxed out on vampires. It’s even disheartening when literary agents state this in big black bold letters: NO VAMPIRES, ANGELS, OR FAIRIES PLEASE! That really hurts to see literary agents post that. There goes my entire series! And I’ve been working on this for years. I keep hoping that they will stop producing movies and shows with vampires. That way they could ask for vampires again in the future. I don’t see that happening. Not unless you’re Anne Rice or Bram Stoker. So, I’ll post this series on Wattpad and work on a few other series. One is an erotic-comedy (under a pen name), one is a high-fantasy series, one is a sci-fi series, and that’s about it. I have ten stand-alone novels that I plan on writing about. One is in horror, three are historical romances, one is a western-comedy, two are contemporary romances, and a middle-grade novel. I may work on a middle-grade series. None of my future series will be like this one or have this many novels in one series. I would say about three books each. Those I’ll query a literary agent except for my erotic comedy. That one will be self-published. Mainly because it’s really crude. But nobody will be able to tell it’s me that wrote it.

I plan on writing and keep writing. I need to improve my skill. Mr. Stephen King gave out good advice. To become a better writer, you have to read books. You don’t want a surgeon working on you, if they aren’t educated or trained. The same applies to writers. I want to be pinged for my story and not my writing ability.

 

Dear TWD, Grow Sutter’s Balls.

Do you know why I love Kurt Sutter so much? Because the man has balls. In fact, a huge pair. If you don’t know who Kurt Sutter is, he’s the one who created, wrote, and even starred in SOA, Sons of Anarchy. He played the character, Otto. Not to mention, Stephen King had a small role that was hilarious to me. Yes, the man is probably crazy but he knew what the fuck he was doing. He didn’t back down when the Parental Advisory Board came at him. “Your show is too graphic!” Sutter stuck two middle fingers up at them and still produced a pretty graphic show. Not to mention, he worked on The Shield and The Bastard Executioner. To settle his demons, he married the beautiful and talented Katey Sagal. You may remember her from Futurama, Married With Children, and various other shows. I get the man. I understand the message even though it did come off rough. Sutter is about to release a new show that focuses on the Mayans this trip. So, we’re shifting to a Latino show. About fucking time! Sutter, we miss you. Come back! The producer on TWD, doesn’t have a pair of balls anymore. Between Eli Roth and Kurt Sutter, they know their craft. They know how to feed us the violence, we’ve been missing in our lives. The Vikings seem pretty violent but not to the level of Sutter. I make Roth and Sutter the dual kings of violence.

What is happening to The Walking Dead? I believe their team has jumped the fucking gun on this one. Have you thought that maybe people stopped watching due to their favorite characters getting squashed? That’s the real reason, they stopped watching. There are no longer “Team Glenn” or “Team Abraham” shirts coming out. And for the Parental Advisory Board to come out and lecture adult programming is hideous. The Walking Dead was never made for a wholesome family show. Little Jane and Little Johnny weren’t meant to watch that show. Actually, they should be in bed for school. That’s why the show has always been aired late on Sunday nights. When will they stop monitoring other people’s kids? “But, Jen… the show is too graphic! They shouldn’t have shown that!” Um… have you watched Sons of Anarchy? Did you watch True Blood? How about the Vikings? Hey, I’ll even throw in Black Sails? Or even better, Outlander? You’re not used to watching violent shows? What rock did you crawl out of? Go back under your rock. Go watch the news, which has produced more violent shows over the years than any of these shows have. Go read the bible, which has violent passages. Yes, I’ll defend violent FICTIONAL shows.

Think how it would have been, if they bashed in Maggie’s head. The feminist groups would have come for The Walking Dead.

  1. You knew it was going to be a violent show. Did you miss the warning that scrolled on by, your television screens?
  2. It’s a show about the zombie apocalypse. Did you expect everyone to join hands and sing together?
  3. This is a show about surviving the zombie apocalypse. Deaths do happen. That’s true in everyday life. People shoot people. Did you expect them to hand gifts of love to each other?
  4. What part of “Mature Audience” only did you miss as that warning scrolled by?

 

“In this day and age, we don’t need violent shows!” Well, let me help you remove that tampon. What do you think other countries do? You know, where violence happens every day. You know, where kids are strapped with guns? If you want to complain, be blessed that you weren’t born in a country that knows violence all too well. Bombings, war, and the dead laying out in the street. They can’t shield their kids from that. I find it offensive that a Parental Board has the nerve to come at a show that has been and always will be geared towards adults. If you want to watch a show that doesn’t contain violence, may I suggest the Care Bears? How about Rainbow Bright? Let’s make it a sunshine and rainbows theme every day. Maybe Barney would help you out there. Do you need a hug?

As for the producers of The Walking Dead, you need a pair of balls like the ones, Kurt Sutter has. The man maybe demented and crazed, but we LOVE Sutter for it. He gives us, ADULTS what we need. I miss the man. And I can’t wait for his new show to air. Damn, we need someone who won’t back down from the censors. If Kurt ever raised up an army, I’m sure Stephen King and Eli Roth would be his generals. Hell, put me in the mix. My series isn’t meant for younglings either.

Sutter challenged me to go into that dark place. To pull out the worst nightmares. He challenged me to write some fucked up scenes for my series. Between him and King, I went there. I went to that dark place and pulled out some crazy ass shit. The level of violence starts in book 1, and I continue the path of destruction as my series progresses. Don’t expect my new book to be all happiness, lollipops, and rainbows. Shit gets serious in book 4. It will make people cry, what I have in store. This is a fear and a nightmare, written with power. What team would I want to be a part of, if a zombie apocalypse does happen? I want to be on Sutter, Roth, and King’s team. I’ll play with the men of evil, torture, and destruction. I may have ideas they never thought of using. My imaginary balls are in place. I sure as fuck, wouldn’t back down due to censorship.

I feel bad for the special effects team. They had special effects but now they’ve been castrated. They will no longer be allowed to show squashed heads or death scenes. They can’t use their creativity anymore like they used to. And that’s a shame! Way to go, producers and writers of The Walking Dead, now your show, has bored the rest of your loyal fans. They waited for violence. And now, we’re going to be stuck watching the Gummy Bears bouncing off the screen.

As for Kurt Sutter, please hurry up with your new show! We need more producers with balls. We know you have them. We missed your violence, demented beautiful mind, and your explosive scenes. We know, you will rejoin and make a powerful show this time. And this time, this girl plans on watching it from the start.

 

 

ARCS With a Vengeance

I’ve been nailed with a ton of ARCS (advanced review copies of books) the last couple of weeks. It’s nice to be the giver instead of the receiver of book reviews. How do you say to a publisher, I didn’t like the book? It’s completely messed up and wrong! But, you do it anyway because honesty is the best policy or some kind of trite thing to say.

The last four books I read, I was immersed with rich language and I didn’t want to put the book down, when it was over. Three were from debut authors that I deeply loved and had the wind knocked out of me. Those books were really fucking good. So good, I could imagine a movie coming from them. The fifth ARC, I’m currently reading, it has made my stomach churn. Not even off the twelve page and I already listed thirteen things wrong with the book. Make that fourteen now. I’m halfway through this book and my stomach is tied in knots. I’m literally disgusted with this ARC. I hate this ARC with a passion. I’m trying to find the good parts about it and I can’t find any.

Anyway, I plan on finishing these 40 something ARCS and seriously write my own books. The book I’m reading now, man… I know I can write way better than that. It isn’t to toot my own horn or anything. There’s just so many unanswered questions. It isn’t one of those joyous reads that make you feel something great. It leaves a curdle feeling in the pit of your stomach. How can anyone say it was well-written, when it isn’t? Wrong word selections and it jumbles up past and present tense. It’s poorly written and I can’t believe a publisher would risk money on that tripe. Maybe I’m overly judgmental and cruel. One minute the writer uses says (which is present tense) and then she flips it to said (which is past tense). It’s driving me up a fucking wall. Pick a tense and stay in it!

And lately, the current trend is time-hopping. Poorly labeled chapters and lazy named chapters of “then” and “now.” Yes, “then” and “now” as a chapter heading. I hate this tactic and ploy. It’s a trend! Just write the fucking book from start to finish! I don’t remember Agatha Christie writing time skips like this! This is the second book of “then” and “now.” Some writers can pull it off… others, it was a fucking mess from start to finish. I see this as a common theme with mystery and I hate it! Whoever thought this would be a good theme to do… it is annoying.

When will I return to my own world? I don’t know. I have to finish these ARCS and the dozens of books that’s already flashing on my Goodreads that I’m supposed to be currently reading. I’m sorry, Harriet Beecher Stowe. I’m stuck with today’s fiction and it is a world that either produces great novels or the novels, you want to erase from your mind. Incest is a very difficult theme for me to read. I hate it and I don’t care to read about it. It’s left me feeling sick to my stomach. I can’t put my finger on it, I just don’t care for it.

I’m trying to return to my own fictional characters. I miss them but we need a break. I’m 25,000 words in and it is epic fantasy. So, expect it to be a long book anyway. I have so many things to cover in book 4, it will take a while. My readers seem to want the first two books back together again. So, after I finish book 4, I will be rejoining books 1 and 2. After all, it is epic. It’s supposed to be a long book. I have to include world-building as much as I can. So, yes… it will be a while. But hang in there. In the meantime, go read other books. Flood your minds with other series. I’m slowly rebuilding my confidence after I allowed someone to take that power away from me. It won’t happen again.

I have a ton of cool things planned for my epic fantasy. I have a ton of battles to include, swords, sorcery, steam punk weapons and clothing, dragons, vampires, hellfire and brimstone, clouds, murder, and many intricate plots planned for my series. Expect sex. I didn’t want to include rape scenes but I had to go there. It isn’t a ploy tactic, it’s a destruction of two of my lead characters and I’ll rebuild them. If that didn’t happen, it wouldn’t give them the motivation to destroy their enemies. And boy, they have a ton of enemies flying at them. There will be a total of three rape scenes from the main story. I can’t get around it, even though I’ve tried. The story went there and I’m running with it. One is in book 3 which will be the new book 2. One is in the former book 4, which will be the new book 3. And one more… will be in the book I’m currently working on. She’s half in and half out of it. She doesn’t realize what she’s done until it was too late. I’m just trying to avoid writing about it, by reading other books. One thing I’ll never do… is go into graphic details about it. That is something, I won’t do. It just alludes to it. But what happens at the end of the current book… one of my main characters will be in deep shit. This is where shit gets thrown at my main characters. I’m throwing everything including the kitchen sink at them. This is proof that as a woman, you can survive the worst and still come out on top as a heroine. It’s just going to take me a while to get the girls from point A to point B. I’m a slow storyteller. The book I’m working on will be the downfall of my Team Enforcers. Everything will hit the fan. But, my girls will be transformed into strong women. When they get together… shit will hit the fan and they will be an unstoppable force.