Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: V Wars

V Wars
V Wars by Jonathan Maberry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

V Wars is a compilation of vampire stories edited by Jonathan Maberry. Like World War Z, V Wars is a chronology of a supernatural uprising across the globe.

I'm a huge Maberry fan, so I was plenty excited to pick this one up.

The Good
The authors in this anthology provide new additions to vampire legends while detailing old lore. Each story is well written and engaging making for a fun read. My favorite stories were by Jonathan Mayberry, Stefan Rudnicki, and James A. Moore. Heck, even "Heartsick" by Scott Nicholson shouldn't be missed to see a good-ol' boy bigot get what's coming to him.

The audiobook version has incredible narrators and was just plain awesome.

The Bad
My biggest complaint with V Wars, is that there is NO actual war. Yeah, yeah... there's a brief head nod to a military squad going in to fight the vamps, but it ends there. The majority of the book describes changes individual characters go through on the physical, psychological, and societal level. You never get to 'see' an actual war as you do in World War Z. I felt like this really hobble the entire compilation.

Worse still, some of the stories drag a bit. Overall most of the stories have good pacing, but I felt like several dragged on with mundane details.

My only complaint with the audiobook version is that Lisa Renee Pitts, who narrates 'The Ballad of Big Charlie,' tends to hitch words every now and then. She does great character voices, but the hitching, particularly around names, is annoying.

The Spin
When it comes right down to it, if you like vamps, you'll like V Wars. The diverse variety of vampires make for an interesting read as the characters see what they're turning in to. The stories are well written and fun to read. But if you're hoping for more than individual vampire stories, you'll be disappointed.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End
John Dies at the End by David Wong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

John Dies @ The End, is worth reading if you can overcome the drawbacks.

The Good
I can guarantee that you will never know what to expect in this story. It reads like an ADHD high-school geek on crack, and that ain't bad!

The Bad
First, there is a lot of profanity in this book. I know the whole, 'teens swear' argument, but too often, writers hurt their stories by emphasizing bad language. It wasn't always necessary in this story, and ended up detracting more than highlighting tension.

Second, you never really get close to any of the characters except the narrator. You like and sympathize with them, but never really know them. At least, I didn't form any great attachments to any of the characters.

The Flip Side
Overall, this book was a fun and quick read. The swearing made speed-bumps in the readability of the story, but the insane plot line made we want to keep pushing on. So really, it's somewhere between three and four stars.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Finding Your One Percent

I've always enjoyed blog posts from the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) and finally got around to joining. Fortunately, something happened this week that is great material for my first IWSG post!
Note: I can never actually keep track of the timeline of my therapy sessions. They're an hour long, but feel more like fifteen minutes. And the exact wording of the conversation? Forget about it...
Imposter Syndrome
I started therapy for general anxiety disorder a couple weeks ago, but this weeks session hit me particularly hard. I'd like to share what happened, because I think it bears something critical for those of us with imposter syndrome (which I just learned is an actual psychological condition and not just the woes of being an aspiring author--insert cheesy grin).

Here's what it is:
"Impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be." (Wikipedia)
During this weeks session, my therapist asked me to tell her something that I could say, "I'm good at that."

In all honesty, I was quite comfortable with shamefully replying, "Nothing."

See, there are things I like to do, but I'm not really 'good' and anything. In fact, I think I SUCK at everything.

Finding Your One Percent
Well, my therapist narrowed her eyes (that's only a guess--I was crying too much to tell) and asked me, "Is there anything you think you do well at all? It doesn't have to be 100%. Something that maybe you're 1%."

I admitted writing. And that was hard.

I've had some success with my writing, so I really couldn't say no. One percent isn't that much. But the real reason I said, 'writing,' is because writing makes me happy. Sometimes I even catch myself writing something and saying, "Hey! That ain't half bad."

As aspiring unpublished authors, we often think success is classified by agents and book deals. But those of us who have spent any time researching the industry know it's a complete crap-shoot to get published. You can be an incredibly talented author, but getting published still requires timing and a bit of luck.

The Take-Away
You're not an imposter, so what are you 1% good at? Don't let your enjoyment of something be denied because you're not 'perfect' at it. Live in the moment and find something you're 1% good at, then revel in it! That doesn't mean you won't improve or write the pants off Stephen King after you polish off your cheese danish. But you are at least 1% good at something.

And that's pretty cool.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Under The Radar

It's been a crazy few months. Life gets like that, ya know?

I've been busy on the writing front and the life adventures front. Blogging front... not so much.

So, in order to get my blog producing again, I thought I'd sound off what I'm working on:

General Anxiety Disorder
I started therapy a couple weeks ago. While I haven't solved the mysteries of the anxiety universe, I do feel that my councilor and I are settling into a steady stride where some real progress can be made.

My biggest take-away, so far, is learning to accept myself.

See, I have this real problem with bullying. Deep down, I know I'm a whimp. A cry-baby loser who throws like a girl (then again, I've seen some underhand softball pitches that could drop an ox). I'm really good at looking at my problems, without seeing positive things I do.

As an example, a couple weeks ago, I attended my nephew's LDS mission farewell. A happy day and I was looking forward to seeing the family. But when we got there, my brother had snagged the third and fourth rows for our families.

Normally for me, church has always been a place where I'm relaxed and can refocus myself. But for the last several months, it's been sending me through the roof. So many people, colors, and noises. Now when I get ready for church, my gag reflex kicks in and I feel like I'm walking into a room full of people intent on killing me.

I prefer to sit anywhere in the rear of the chapel, isle seat for easy escape.

But at my nephew's farewell, I didn't want to sit in the back. I wanted to sit with the rest of the family. I knew everyone would understand if I didn't, and my wife asked if I like to sit somewhere else, but I didn't. So I sat my fat ass down and forced myself to sit there.

It was hard and after sacrament meeting was over, I bolted for the door. I felt like an idiot and was more than embarrassed.

When I talked about it with my therapist, she congratulated me and said I should be proud of myself for doing something hard like that. Something that I wanted to do.

It made me pause.

See, I'd been focused on how embarrassed I was to be having a panic attack. But she showed me that I should be looking at it from the angle of doing what I want to do. At looking at the little successes. Like 'baby steps' in, 'What About Bob?'.

Anxiety Denial
I'm not sure what the actual term is, but I've started labelling one of my anxieties: anxiety denial.

It's when thinking or doing something that gives me anxiety causes me to stick my head in the sand. Calling someone on the phone, opening a bill, or going to work. Heck, even writing on my blog that's been due fresh material for a couple months (so much for bi-weekly). The panic builds and I run away, sometimes literally.

I haven't been able to figure out how to overcome this problem, but I figure it's going to involve 'baby steps.' We'll see.

Writers of the Future Submission
This story has been a long time in coming.

It started off as a 12,000 word monster, climbed up to 13k, before finally settling somewhere between the two. I've been working on it for 3+ months, which is FAR longer than the one month I budgeted. My writer buddy, Kim Mainford, suggests it's time for me to move on.

Sadly, she's right.

My alpha readers have kicked the major flaws out of it, and I think it's a much more polished piece of prose (PPP). I'm wrapping up the current revision and should have it to my beta readers this week. My beta copies are comprised of: a half inch binder, one red pen, and 68 pages of Courier 12pt. font.

The nice thing about this project, is that, even though it 'stresses' me out, I LOVE working on it.

If you're interested in learning more about the contest, or would like to enter, click here.

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