Book Reviews – From the Other Side

phantom

On December 27, 2007, I left a review for a writer on FanFiction.net. The title of the story was (and is) “Leitmotif.” The author’s pseudonym is “iamphantomgirl.” From the nom de plume, you’ve probably guessed that the fan fiction was about Phantom of the Opera. Yes, I’ve read (and written) fan fiction. I feel there’s nothing wrong with reading other people’s takes on character you know and love.

With that being said, I remembered writing a review of one of the chapters for the aforementioned story. Not quite sure why, but I thought it might make a nice blog topic. On FanFiction.net, a person writes their stories chapter by chapter and the readers have the ability to leave reviews chapter by chapter.

In the chapter that I am reviewing, the author killed off a main character. I am not a fan of killing off characters. I feel, well, read the review. It speaks for itself:

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So, I take it that Meg’s death is the tragedy you mentioned in your story description. “The Siege of Paris forces the ghost to become a man and to take responsibility for those he loves. After a tragedy sends him to America, he finds a new life and a new love…” While I understand the need for a tragedy of truly epic proportion to drive the plot of your story, I would caution you not to rely on killing characters on a regular basis. It is a seductive trap because it is all too easy to solve a plot complication (or create a plot complication) by killing a character.

Strangely enough, Stephen King’s book, “Bag of Bones” delves into this topic and even though I read the book almost ten years ago, the idea remains fresh in my mind. The following is a synopsis of “Bag of Bones” from Books and Writers by Bamber Gascoigne:

“Bag of Bones (1998) deals with the grief process in an uncompromising way. In Bag of Bones, King returns to the theme of the loss of a family member, then adds the classic haunted house and familiar elements from his previous works: a small town where people know more than they tell, a secret collective of the guilty and a hero who can’t avoid his confrontation with evil. Hidden deep within the village of Sarah Laughs are old crimes, sins and secrets. All are gradually revealed to the reader through an analysis of the conscious and unconscious mind of the writer’s main character, as if he were spread out on Freud’s couch.

Playing with fire, King plunges into the mind of Mike Noonan, an author who suffers from writer’s block. Noonan’s wife, Jo, died unexpectedly from a brain aneurism, which causes him to suffer panic attacks every time he turns on his computer. Needing to escape the painful memories of the city, Mike retreats to his cabin in the village of Sara Laughs, where he and Jo spent happy summers together. There, Mike meets a young, widowed mother, Mattie, and her daughter, Kyra, whom he helps in a custody battle with the child’s grandfather.

Mattie is one of the liveliest characters in King’s story. Her sudden death, while a logical twist of the plot, comes like an electric shock to the reader. And, King meant for Mattie’s murder to shock the reader. In the last pages of the novel, King speaks through Mike and returns to the issue of Mattie’s death. Mike says, as an explanation why he no longer writes, that ‘to think I might have written such a hellishly convenient death in a book, ever, sickens me.’

Bag of Bones continues the series of books by King that explore the writing process and the inner workings of an author’s mind. The Shining, Misery, The Dark Half and now, Bag of Bones are among his most revealing and personal works.

King is not among those writers who claim that they don’t have time to read. Bag of Bones offers a delightful analysis of Herman Melville’s story Bartleby, and comments about various books and a number of “real life” authors. Among those included in the story is author and poet, Thomas Hardy. Hardy stopped writing novels at the peak of his career and turned solely to writing poetry. A quote, attributed to Hardy, states that the most brilliantly drawn character in a novel is but a bag of bones.”

Sorry about the long-winded review, but as a mother who lost her six year old daughter to a drunk driver, I can tell you that there are no words that can sufficiently express the devastation a parent experiences when a child dies. And, to lose a child to an act of violence…again, words fail.

On the positive side, your story evoked a strong response from me…strong…not negative, so, I end this by saying, well done, my friend! Well done…

♦♦♦

Even after 10 years I remember the story and the review. A good story moves us. A great story stays with us – always.

♦♦♦

Check out my latest novel, “The Heretic’s Child,” available at Amazon.com.

You can also check out my fan fiction at FanFiction.net. If you run a search for my name, you’ll find my Author’s Page and it has a listing of my silly little ditties. The stories are free. The only one I really recommend is “The Perfect Solution.” The others, well, I’ll give myself a break and say that I was new to the genre when I wrote, “Christine dans Deux” and leave it at that. The other, “The Crystal Rainbow” was ruined by a hard drive crash. I have a strange habit of writing the first chapter and soon after, the ending of the story comes into my mind and I have to write it. I had already written the ending of the story (and had no back-up – shame on me!) when the crash sent it to story nirvana. For the life of me, I can’t remember what I wrote, so that story is good up to the end and the end just kind of fizzles. Someday, maybe, I’ll re-write the ending.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Best wishes to all!

~ny

Author Teams

campfire

So, what’s an author team?

That’s easy it’s a group of Indie Authors that team up to help each other generate interest in their books. I decided to join a team sponsored by Books Go Social. We’re one of the first teams, so we’re still ironing out the wrinkles, but I believe this is a wonderful idea and am hoping it will help all of us sell more books. *Fingers crossed!*

One of my fellow authors, Chris Walters, made a Christmas Recommendation blog and I’d like to share it with you, so here it is:

Author Chris Walters Blog

Of course, my book is featured as well as several other authors on my team.

We’re Indie Authors and we’re proud!

Please check us out!

All the Words a Genre

So, what’s frustrated_student_sm-2in a name?

Everything.

One of the first things people ask me is: what genre is your book? The other is: what’s it about?

I don’t know about other authors, but I find both of these questions extremely difficult to answer. The genre under which my novel was published is “Fantasy,” but that’s really not descriptive enough. As in life, my novel contains romance, suspense, mystery, home improvement, history, friendship, love, death and the whole damn thing. (To borrow a phrase.)

Yes, books need to be classified as fiction or nonfiction and then broken down into sub-genre, but that’s just to make the life of a person working at a bookstore easier when they’re filing your book on a shelf.

Thomas Hardy said, “Compared to the dullest human being actually walking about on the face of the earth and casting his shadow there, the most brilliantly drawn character in a novel is nothing but a bag of bones.” What I take this to mean is that writers can only create characters with broad strokes of their pens. We can’t write every single detail, it would make for a very boring read.

For example: one of my characters has a birthmark on her left leg and her daughter has one on her right. She’s left-handed and her daughter is right-handed. As the creator of this piece of fiction, I know this fact, but I haven’t passed it on to my readers because it really isn’t relevant to the story. It’s small facts like these that make people and differentiate characters from people, but I’m diverting from my main topic.

I’m talking about genres.

Genres have four main types: poetry, drama, fiction and nonfiction.

Since I write fiction, I’ll restrict my comments to that area. There are at least 20 sub-genres of fiction that I borrowed and edited from Wikipedia. So, here goes . . .

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Historical Fiction
  • Horror
  • Magical Realms
  • Mystery
  • Romance
  • Saga
  • Satire
  • Science Fiction
  • Speculative
  • Surreal
  • Thriller
  • Urban
  • Western
  • Whimsical

I’m quite certain that you, my dear reader, will be able to think of more, but 20 is a pretty good number with which to begin.

Of course, there are specializations to each of these and combinations thereof. For example: Zane Gray wrote Western-Romance-Thrillers; Lewis Carroll combined Poetry and Fantasy in his Alice novels; and J.R.R. Tolkien combined Fantasy, Magical Realms and Saga in his Middle Earth-related books. For a non-author-specific example: Steampunk is a sub-genre of Science Fiction. Those are just a few examples.

In my opinion, a good book needs to combine many different genres in order to make the story feel real. A romance novel needs to have more than steamy love scenes in it if the author wants the book to be something more than two-dimensional.

The mail goal of an author is to tell a story. In order to do the telling properly, an author needs to make the story relatable. The best way to do this is to give the story pieces of everyday life.

Now, I could be wrong and I welcome comments. However, I know stories that I’ve read that gift the characters with everyday quirks seem more interesting and are able to draw me into them more than stories without.

Tell me, what do you think?

~ny

P.S. Update on the companion novel to my current release, “The Heretic’s Child.” I’ve changed the title once more (hence, the reason we call them working titles.) The latest is “To Tell a Lie”.

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Please check out my website for information on upcoming appearances and for links to venues where my novel is available for purchase.

Thanks!

A Fool’s Book of Wisdom

I’ve been busy. I created my own website. I’d be ever so appreciative if you’d check it out – http://nyasia9.wix.com/nyasiamaire

And although I’ve been busy, I don’t want you to think that I’m not thinking about this blog.

So…I’ve gone into the vault and pulled out an old favorite. A few years back, I wrote a fan fiction story, centered in The Phantom of the Opera universe. At the beginning of each chapter, I included a little ditty. Some of them I borrowed from other authors (and, of course, credited them,) others, I wrote. Here are the ones I wrote…

 

A Fool’s Book of Wisdom

Truth, like beauty, survives and thrives in the light of day.
Lies live in the darkness, moldering and corrupting all they touch.

Men preach. Women share.
Children create.

Talk — a four letter word. Hear — a four letter word.
Love — a four letter word with infinite meaning.

Is it an exercise in futility to count grains of sand in the wind?
Is this act still futile if it were to save a life?

The faster a person runs from the truth,
the swifter it is to catch them.

A family provides the foundation upon which the soul stands tall.
A soul without firm ground underfoot is doomed to fall.

Laughter is the best release the body can provide
when the option of sex is not available.

Dreams transport one each night to the places needed by the soul
to heal the battering it endures during each day.

Awakening from our dreams
brings us another step closer to realizing them.

The concept of reality is but a philosopher’s supposition.
The true nature of reality exists only in the arms of a lover.

Hearken to the booming thunder as it rumbles across the heavens,
much as the thudding heart of a lover pounds wildly within its breast.

History is a series of colorful events scrawled by men into the dust.
Life soars, daring us to rise above the earth and the choices we make.

Diamonds are for royalty, luscious and rich,
charms for the rest of us to savor each wish.

To travel the world is a pleasure sublime
when the treasure of homecoming is certain in time.

Venus exists outside the realm of mere mortal experience.
She is the transcendent goddess, beyond our mundane perceptions.

Knowledge casts illumination into the darkest corners of the mind,
leaving no hiding place for the despair of ignorance.

Lessons of love are forever kept,
closer to her heart, nearer her sweet breast.

Is life is a series of interesting events we name coincidence? No.
There are no coincidences. Life follows the path of our heart’s own desire.

The premise of control is but an illusion and obtainable only at great cost.
The true secret of control is free, one must only learn to let go to fly.

Yearning is the desire you feel for the one you love.
Longing is the lust you feel when you lie to yourself and call it love.

The rapid beating of the heart cannot overcome
the inertia of unrequited love.

Is it a sin to make love when the lover’s heart is true?
Or, is evil judged by virtue lost and a man’s malevolent grin?

To distinguish a single voice from amidst the roar of the crowd
is a moment of clarity unique in a life otherwise filled with useless noise.

Is it better to wallow for a day in bliss, or wander for a lifetime in woe?
Perhaps, the more apt question, does one really need to ask?

Life is not a carefully woven tapestry, pristine and perfect, but rough and wild.
And, each day we find ourselves ever more entangled within its web.

An ancient evil skillfully sings
of bygone times and broken wings.

Each society clings to the security of its mythos.
But, sometimes beliefs need to change in order that the world may grow.

The perilous tides of deceit do rise,
beckoning precipitous fate with all of its lies.

Desperation results when the impetus compelling action is forced.
Those that despair invite hopelessness and ultimately, lose. Hence, do not despair!

Passion burns beneath the skin.
Evil burns from without to within.

We color the world with the truth of our perceptions.
Without our hearts and our minds to interpret our senses, we perceive nothing.

Hunger is a desire born of need: whether it is of the body or the spirit
depends on the want it feeds.

Where does one uncover the true essence of human nature?
In a tender heart? An avaricious mind? A courageous spirit? Or a jealous soul?

The true test of love lies not in words spoken with passion and poetry,
but in the willingness to sacrifice all without a second thought.

 

Marriage, a most serious proposition.
The joining of a man and a woman
for the purpose of procreation.
Blessed by God,
taxed by governments
and
ridiculed by comics the world over.

 

if you are the dreamer,
am i the dream?
if you are the singer,
am i the song?
walking down the path of life,
a million different turns.
each one another chance,
another dance for us to learn
if you are the face,
am i your reflection?
if you are the lover,
am i your love?

  

i lay in bed
but not asleep
i lay trapped deep within this torturous dread
my body full of poison
my mind full of demons
i lay awake and yet i was dreaming
a book of poetry
lay next to me
a wondrous enchantment of shadows and themes
my soul full of sorrow
my heart full of song
a world created here
all tattered and wrong
your eyes are windows
but not to your soul
gazing through them
but never taking them whole
and all the while
no one but no one
ever finishes this
their song

 

amid dreams of green and gold
and spinning flowers on the breeze
i drift along and wait
for something i never see

alone in the silence i wander
floating far away from home i wait
to hear heaven’s voice
touch me with its song

 

Lucifer’s Love

awake and listen
all of god’s children
for the fleeting rapture of joy
and the heavens confess
to joy and of bliss
but the moment of truth
lies hidden in shadow
for true evil it seems
is not just a dream
called forth from the ether of dusk
but molded to man
ever wan and unplanned
embroidered in his tarnished husk
now bring out hell’s choir
to chant to the pyre
of depravity spiraling ever higher
beware of this night
and stay hidden from sight
for lucifer’s love burns bright with desire
as all soon shall know
both above and below
that lilith’s lust unchained
shall bring earth its bane

Author Meet & Greets!

I had my first Meet & Greet/Book Signing last week. It was at an unconventional spot. A group of local store owners host a monthly event on their stretch of street. The stores all stay open until 9 p.m., there’s live music and a variety of food trucks.

So how did I discover this venue?

It was an accident. I walk around my neighborhood every night and discovered this little event by accident when I walked through it. They call it, “Third Thursday Nights at Tujunga Village.” I know; the name doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, but the name of the street is Tujunga. What can you do?

There was a live rock band playing. (Okay, here’s a plug for the band!) Their name is “Echophonix.” They’re very good, but I guess they were too loud for the staid store owners because they don’t play there anymore. Sigh…

Anyway, back to how I discovered this venue.

I was walking down the street and while I was listening to the band play, I started a conversation with a really nice young lady. I don’t hear very well, so I could never catch her name and the band was really loud. Each month, I would see her and we got to be friendly. Last December, I mentioned that my novel would be out soon and she became very excited. She asked me if I would be interested in having a signing during their event.

Hmmm… let me think about that a moment.

DOH!

OF COURSE I’M INTERESTED. Who do I have to kill? Oops! Too much enthusiasm? Maybe. 🙂

Moving forward in time, my book became available from the publisher on April 7, 2016 and I was trying to learn some of the ways to promote the book. I was also waiting for it to be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. (yes, The Heretic’s Child is now available EVERYWHERE!) before I decided to send a text to my contact.

Sent the text, received an immediate response and four weeks later, my book signing is a week in the past. Now, I’m not worried that my first signing is in the past because I have been invited to return next month. AND, I will be there!

I’m also waiting for the owner of a bookstore to return from her vacation, so we can arrange for a more traditional Meet & Greet/Book Signing.

Why do these things take so long?

Well, a number of reasons.

  1. I’m a single mom and my daughter just graduated from high school. We were a bit busy with the end of the school year events.
  2. I work two jobs.
  3. I was sick.
  4. I’m new at this and still learning my options.

Yeah, yeah! I know excuses, but valid ones.

I’ve sent the book out to several people; the bookstore owner, a production coordinator and an author friend for review. I need to get on the ball and send out a few more copies for review. And I will. Soon…

Oh! Here’s the best reason for being distracted from marketing my book…I’m working on the companion novel. This story is written from the protagonist’s point of view. It’s different and I’m thinking that it might be one of the best things I’ve ever written.

Time will tell.

Please check out my novel, The Heretic’s Child, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook Store, Kobo and Lulu.com.

Fondest wishes,

~ny

The Heretic’s Child

So, I wrote a story and self-published.

Now what?

Well, that’s a good question. According to my publisher, I can spend lots of money (that I don’t have) and pay them for a marketing campaign. Or, I can try to market the book myself. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t know the first thing about marketing a book, but I really don’t have any choice but to give it a try.

So, here I go; I’m spreading the word. That’s the reason I started this blog. That and I love to ramble. Hey, I’m a writer and I actually like writing. I’m not one of the people that turn writing into a struggle. When I buckle down and write, I write every day. I may not like what I write. Hell, I might even erase it, but the point is that if you want to be a writer, you write. You don’t talk about it, you write.

Actually, I do talk about it. I talk to myself, my friends, my daughter…I talk to anyone that seems interested. It’s the best way to get different points of view. I use that when I create my characters because I want them to be more than just “bags of bones.” Integrating real life with my fictional stories makes it more real to me and, I hope, more real to my readers. Or, at least that’s what I hope.

Between you and me? I’ve never taken a creative writing class. I’m sure it shows in my writing and if I did, it would probably help me. But, I’d rather learn by doing. It’s the way I’ve always learned best. I just hope that reading my stories isn’t too painful because of my inexperience.

To bring you up-to-date on what’s happening with “The Heretic’s Child,” I’ve given the publisher the go-ahead to release the novel to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBook, Kobo and everything else. This process takes 6 to 8 weeks. However, Amazon’s Kindle version became available this week, so one venue besides my publisher, Lulu Press, is up and running.

I’ve talked to Barnes and Noble and they said we have to wait until the book is actually available through their website before they’ll discuss hosting a book signing. I also talked with my local library and discovered that they only host authors whose books they have in their library. This led me to the thought that perhaps if I donate a couple books to them, that’ll allow me to host a book signing there. We’ll see.

Still related to the marketing and sales of my book is reviews. I am a huge Dean Koontz fan and I’ve met him many times. Not only is he an excellent writer, he’s genuinely a nice man. I wrote to him last November and he responded with a personal note. I asked him if I could send him a copy of my book once it was published. He said…YES! So, that’s next. I’ll be sending out a copy to Dean as well as several other people for their reviews.

I look at the marketing of my book as a large, still lake. Each time I tell someone about “The Heretic’s Child,” it causes a ripple in the lake. I just have to keep spreading the word and hopefully, soon the lake will be a mass of giant waves pushing people towards my book.

If you have any suggestions, please send me an email…

And, of course, I would deeply appreciate it if you would check out “The Heretic’s Child.”

Fondest wishes,

~ny