I Self-Published. But mostly about the state of the world

4 Oct

I had an unexpected block of holidays off in August. I was going to blog about how excited I was, mostly because I self published this:

I finished edits in the spring and then I let my sister and aunt have a go at it. If you’ve been following along at all on Facebook, you’ll know I had print copies and the newer version of the covers will not have those pretty inserts in the corners (It’s a formatting issue) so you can find them online or hit me up at a show or whatever.

Not that I’m convinced I’ll be doing a show any time soon.

I showed up at work on August 23 and I wasn’t on the flowsheet. The boys got geoposted or sent on something right away, so I contacted my superintendant and ensured we weren’t short a body to staff a truck. I still did On Call that evening from home and was ready to work the next day (we were short trucks, but I wouldn’t have had a partner) so it turned out that with the kerfuffle of vacation, I was scheduled the tour off. I was given the option to keep it or work, I kept it.

Then August 24, I got a letter telling me about my job’s mandatory V_X policy.

I was livid. I’m not pro or anti, except when it comes to patient choice. I won’t talk about what I’ve seen from the hospitals. Not only because I have class, but I am governed by something called the Personal Healthcare Information Act (PHIA). It allows me to go into a house and look for healthcare information if the patient can’t answer for themselves. It also prohibits me from being at a pub and talking about your mother’s medication to other people. I get invited into people’s lives sometimes on their worst days, and I’ve been pulled aside and told in no uncertain terms that I can’t talk about what I saw concerning my coworkers in need. (Clearly if they bring it up, that is fine).

My very first class for being a first responder was Firefighting. I was in a relatively small classroom of guys, and what I remember was after we introduced each other, one of the first things we talked about was Consent. I figured this was no-brainer stuff, but it was important to always let people know what we were doing, among other things build some rapport with your patient if things aren’t critical, which the majority of the calls aren’t. I learned when I put on a uniform, and there’s a certain amount of honor I didn’t earn that I carry with me. I’m very aware that when I’m in uniform I’m in the public eye, and when I’m at events where people barely know me but they find out what I’m about, it carries weight.

My life revolves around The Personal Healthcare Information Act. I took training with my former union to know about workplace responsibility concerning medical conditions. I know what the laws are.

I’m so sorry if you’ve been forced out of work or were coerced into taking something you didn’t want. It’s wrong, and it doesn’t matter if the effect was beneficial.

I’m so sorry if you lost your business from these lockdowns. I tried to support small businesses the best I could since this started.

I’m sorry that all of this pushed so many people back into poverty.

I’m sorry that the government has been terrorizing their own citizens. I trained for this; the majority of you didn’t.

I can’t believe what I’ve seen coming out of Australia. My heart’s with you if you’ve been marching for freedom around the world. I’ve gone to several rallies, and from where I’m standing, this is feeling biblical. I’m not professing a timeline, but it feels like time is short, and in a way, that’s a good thing. In a way, I’ve always found that hard times have made me reflect about what’s really important. And for me, I haven’t been able to edit Rogue Healer 3 or think about what I’d like to do for say, Inktober or NaNoWriMo.

No, I’m not about to lose my job. But if it comes down to it, I’m used to not having much, and for me, PHIA and keeping true to the Nuremberg Code is my line in the sand. I got into this job to save lives and for my occupation to have some higher meaning. I never met my paternal grandfather; he died when my dad was around 12. He fought off Germans with an artillery cannon. I wonder what he’d say about watching cops beat on unarmed civilians for protesting for their basic human rights.

R.J. Hore and Larry Flewin will be at Comic Con if it still happens in Winnipeg later this month. I’m not going events so long as segregation is going to happen. I’ll give them some copies of my books, but either anyone can go or I’m not going.

I want to believe that love will find a way, but honestly I think the world is in for dark times ahead. No matter what happens, keep loving each other. So many people are scared, and I’d be lying if I was to say that I’m not worried about not only my people of Canada, but people around the world. I’m not saying there is no reason to be afraid at times, but sometimes, the worst enemy is the fear your own mind creates. There’s good things worth fighting for, even if it seems like you’re fighting alone.

When you chose to do the right thing over the easy thing, you are never alone.

Wherever you are, may the Good Lord Bless you and keep you, and give you peace.

Back at Work

1 Aug

This is just a quick update based on what I proposed my goals were on the previous post, vs. How Much I actually got Done

If you’ve been paying attention to FB you know I have been kayaking/floating on a tube in the Pinawa Channel, but let’s just say while I’ve been working, I haven’t been that accomplished. The good news, is that I am watching my sister’s dogs while her family is off, so I will not be philandering too far this coming week.

Let’s compare How Much I Planned vs. How Much I Did

Finish Hard Edits Titan’s Ascent:

HAHAHAHA  I am around half. I like what I changed though; I cut out an entire major plot so it’s not like I could just cut and it’ll be fine. The flow would be weird, but as said in another entry I feel like I have a decent leg up on another project.

Finish Rough Drafts Two Shorts

See above. Only I didn’t touch them. I have a new idea for a short or a few novellas, so my plan is to do one a week for the rest of the summer.

Redo Map

This, I actually attempted. Still not done; will probably on my patio watching dogs.

Author Pic

NOPE

Book Online Tour for Witchslayer’s Scion

Will do, after new pic. I can probably do the pic tomorrow during my 12 hours off. I’m currently on the back half of my 24 where I transition to nights. I had to fix my dryer, and I need a nap. Apparently August long is the busiest weekend for MVC’s, but I have had all medical calls. Busy busy.

I am still waiting on my Dreams of Mariposa stock. I ordered it over a month ago but COVID slows everything down. It’ll be here soon, I’m certain. After it shows up, I upload Garnet and Silver, and then order those after I design a spine/back for a print version of same. My aunt has The Mermaid Book, she is on vacation in a week and I suspect she’ll give it back to me after she’s done her stint at her cottage rental. She may be done now, but I ain’t going to bother until I do the map.  I am still in contact with the artist who did the cover, and she’s agreed to design the spine/back.

So all and all, not really a success in any of the above but a step in the right direction. I wrote a rough for a blog about editing and how I do it, so my plan is to edit and post that. I’m also making it a solid effort to read most of the Aurora Award Nominees – I have read the shorts/novellas, probably gonna skip best associated work just because of time – and I have basically until September 4 to get my votes in. I think that’s only like 7 more novels to go, but summer is busy so it depends on how busy it is. None of these are giant doorstoppers, so it’s doable.

Summer, Reading, Publishing

17 Jul

Hope you’re having a fantastic summer so far if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s been hot and dry here in Manitoba– so dry! I got vacation coming up next week and my sister wanted to do some back country camping via kayaks, and let’s just say it’s not safe to do so. The Interlake declared a state of Agricultural Emergency, my work partner is telling me how bad it is in the Winkler area, and for the first time, I can’t get fresh local strawberries. I’ll be okay, but usually I can stroll right in to one of the strawberry farms and get as many as I want.

So literally right now Ron and Larry are at the Shelmerdine Farmer’s Market selling books. I do not have my author copies/stock of Dreams of Mariposa, they are ordered but everything getting through the border is ~slow~. I am planning on publishing and ordering copies of Garnet and Silver: A Faerie Tale, as well The Mermaid and the Unicorns has been edited but I gave it to family for another go. There’ll be another Farmet’s Market at Shelermdine’s in August and a final one in September, so expect to see me with more stock then. I can’t promise if we’ll be able to do any other shows this year; I know other places have opened right up but my province has seldom been a leader.

As for holidays – I wasn’t given the full block off and it’s not looking good, but after tonight’s shift I have a week off and have to go back for 1 night shift, then enjoy the following block 4 off. Assuming I won’t pick up (I probably will) I have the following to do:

Book an Online Tour for Witchslayer’s Scion (Rogue Healer 1). I’ll post here when Marianne is looking for bloggers; it is too long for a review-only tour but that’s okay.

Update Author Picture for Goodreads.

Edit Underman (Rogue Healer 1.5, a novella) and find an editor. I have someone in mind, I meant to work on it at work this tour and haven’t had time.

Finish two short stories (rough drafts).

Finish Hard Edits on Titan’s Ascent (Rogue Healer 3). Yeah, you’re seeing a pattern here and I have no idea if the publisher will go ahead with Book 2 and/or 3, I feel like I’ve been taking my sweet time with this project but the traditional publishing process is slooooooow. Hard edits means I have streamlined most of the scenes, what remains is me going through it another few times until I feel that the voice is consistent. If I rushed I could have it ready before November/Nano, but I think the smart thing to do is to finish the hard edits for August, then leave it alone until December, then have it ready to go in the Spring. I have plenty of other projects to rework and write in the meantime. So when people ask, “How long does X take…?” I’m in no rush so I still stand by “About a year”. If Cassie says, “We love Magus’ Gambit, hurry up with Titan’s Ascent” that’ll change and I’ll have it to her by November. It’s streamlined from the monster epic it was going to be, so really I got a head start on another book.

Redo map for The Mermaid and the Unicorns, get it all formatted and uploaded. Publish probably in late August/Septemberish.

Oil paint, draw, clean the garage, etc. Thankfully I am going to leave most of my Con-Ed for the fall, but I am doing some informal study now.

On top of kayaking, mountain biking, floating down the river on the channel near Pinawa, etc. Our restrictions are easing up and I’d love to have people over for a BBQ, right now I’m thinking a smaller get together at the end of Summer. I was hoping that travel opened up enough that I could go West in September for a few days, but it’s not looking like it’ll be an option yet. Vancouver Island/Tolfino is on my bucket list, and I’m hoping for next Spring.

And yeah, blew my Goodreads reading challenge out of the water this year because of audiobooks. Youtube is so bogged down by advertisements I switched over to listening to audiobooks when I’m doing something with my hands (not writing, I can’t focus on words there and words in my head); it’s funny because for the last few years I struggled to finish anything over 20 hours in length, now it’s easy. I think because I looked at the many hours that are involved and are all like, “Yeah, not gonna finish this any time soon” but 45 minutes spent baking, followed by 30 minutes of cleaning, and then 30 minutes of driving, means almost two hours. So even these 40+ hour epics get nibbled away, although I have the bad habit of arriving at my destination just when there seems to be pay off in sight, so then I want to keep listening.

This feels like it’s long enough. I hope you and yours are safe and enjoying the weather, and to make the most of your time.

Stupid Sexy Smeagol

15 Jun

I pitched this topic for Keycon and got zero interest in talking about it, so I’ll talk about it here.

There’s a lot going on about Amazon’s Middle Earth series in development, and I wanted to talk about adaptation of media and author intent, mostly by weighing in on the smut factor, or why some of us are upset that there’s an intimacy coordinator. I’ll eventually weigh in on fandom and promoting diversity, but this got long enough with just the sexy.

My relationship with smut is complicated.

On the one hand, I believe in freedom of speech and expression.  I think in order to criticize something, you need to be able to be free to talk about it.

On the other, I see a culture that talks a lot about sexual freedom and not about exploitation and sex addiction.

We don’t talk about sex addiction because I think it strikes different people in different ways; and I’ve studied anatomy for both art and healthcare related purposes, sometimes I forget how normies react to not only nudity, but trauma and things that are generally upsetting. I could go on about how desensitized I’ve become, but I noticed it even back in High School that some people reacted strongly to essentially body building magazines and classical art. One of my favourite animated films, Fire and Ice, is basically a study in anatomy in motion – rotoscoping, I highly recommend the film for artistic purposes.

My attitude is to be honest about what you’re trying to make. If you want to make adult material, make adult material. It’s not like there isn’t a need or a demand for it. No one complained about the sex scenes in Game of Thrones when they were warranted (and mercilessly ridiculed when they were not). In fact, there’s plenty in the history of fantasy that is thinly veiled fetishism. Sticking to material that is older than my father:

Conan, not going to call him The Original, but certainly a well known marauder and ravisher.

The characters in Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian series are naked except for jewellery.
Conan C

And there is so much bondage in the average Wonder Woman comic, I’m certain other people can step in and do a better job than me.

Thing is, I grew up reading about John Carter and Conan and think Frank Frazetta is an amazing artist to which I should aspire. I’m not saying any of this shouldn’t exist.

I’m saying making the sexy adventures of beautiful elves and humans and maybe the odd sexy dwarf smashing isn’t the purpose of Tolkien’s work. Tolkien was a staunch Catholic and while we could argue that story lines concerning Beren and Luthien and Turin and Neinor were suggestions of Classical Romancism (and in the latter’s case, tragedy), the point wasn’t voyeurism and the epitome of love was seldom eros. There’s plenty of works that aren’t as… let’s just say in depth as Tolkien. Let us nerds who like more complicated ideas have our variation of fun.

Most people generally adore the Peter Jackson trilogy, and I’m not a purist, so there’s talk about whether or not Tolkien or his estate would have liked the films. I had a prof in University bash the films, stating that they were altered for a modern audience and not true to the work. If I’m okay with that adaptation, what’s a little more alteration?

I get that there’s never going to be 100% faithful adaptation, because usually if the author intended for a specific actor, odd are even if everything goes super quickly to publication and then adaptation, the actor the writer envisioned will likely age out of that role. To be fair, some adaptation makes sense for the medium. I’m currently watching The Expanse. I’m less than half into the second book, and the first season introduced and regularly featured the character of Chrisjen Avasarala who I don’t think I’ve met in the books yet. There’s quite a few let’s just say… interesting choices that aren’t 100% faithful to the books, but make sense given that it’s a series of 40ish minute episodes, the story lines will be changed so that you have proper arcs within the show, so that we don’t have ‘the boring episode everyone skips’ or what have you – also I love it when actors take a character and make them their own. We saw that in TLotR films, where in the second movie we cycled through the story line to story line as opposed to keeping it like the book where we followed Aragorn and co. In the first half, then the second half was The Taming of Smeagol. I can only speak for my own experience, but I’ve found certain story telling techniques work better in visual form as opposed to written word and vice versa – and it’s learning to use them to their strengths (as well as artist strength) that is important. I think a director or whatever can be faithful to the spirit of the story and still make it their own interpretation of said story. At a certain point, the adaptation becomes its own thing, and isn’t a proper reflection of the work. And I’m saying this as someone who grew up with countless retellings of A Christmas Carol and not caring one iota.

I’m starting to think all that classic music I learned listening to these old cartoons was because it was in the public domain…

Do I expect future installments to stay stagnant? Yes and no – when a series becomes something it never was supposed to be, I notice, but stories are funny because they do change over time; even if we have them written down and have the original, you see authors taking ideas from Tolkien and running with them – I’m reading The Witcher series, the cast of elves, dwarves, gnomes is likely a reflection of Tolkien’s established universe. Warcraft has similar features. I could list the stories and games that are either subtle nods or more than borrow from him for pages and still miss something. Until we get to specific tales such as Gawain and the Green Knight, stories like Robin Hood and King Arthur have no definitive canon although there’s elements that most would agree upon, even though there’s reason to believe that characters such as Lancelot and Maid Marion were added centuries after the stories are already popular. It’s not a game of telephone; oratures and oral history have a tradition and can be taken very seriously, but occasionally people add into the story and it’s added to the canon. This happened to Harley Quinn to the DC universe, but we have Tolkien’s notes and letters. We know his intent. Basically what I’m saying, is can we not pick one of the many, many other inspired stories to interpret if we want smut? Because calling something Middle Earth and pretending it was always like that isn’t really fooling anyone.

Review Tour Wind Up

14 Jun

Thank you to every one who hosted and has been following along for the tour. If you haven’t, check out the following bloggers, enter to win the draw for a $50 GC to the online book seller of your choice. You’ll be contacted and asked by Marianne of Goddess Fish Book Promotions, I really don’t mind what book format the winner picks.

As always, a special thank you to anyone who takes the time to review my work. I know there’s a lot out there and I never, ever want to pressure anyone into giving a favorable review or anything to that effect. I love to argue for the sake of discussion, but your opinions and reviews are your own.

The Stops:

Bibliomaniac Aza (Promo)

Gina Rae Mitchell

Harlie’s Books

The Faerie Review

Jazzy Books Reviews

Kit N’Kitbookle

Travel the Ages

Read Book. Repeat

The Avid Reader

Thoughts on Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” so far

10 Jun

So I meant to do this at the end of Book 4 The Rising Shadow– and life’s busy. Life’s always busy. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. I’ll probably do an entire series recap once I’ve finished The Witcher. A quick recap:

Someone recommended Wheel of Time to me when I was in first year University, and the course load was pretty intense, and I just couldn’t get into it. I got into Malazan and Game of Thrones about a year or two later, but I was initially turned off with the infamous slog that apparently starts around book 6 or so (almost there. Almost). I thought, compared to the aforementioned other titles, that Wheel of Time was more childish and I would get around to it, but people kept recommending me different series and I never circled back to WoT. I can also be a little hipster and prefer titles that aren’t mainstream. Thing is, last year I haven’t been able to go to book shows and see what the locals are doing, so I figured I would take a stab at my Goodreads ‘to-read’ list and see what I could get library-wise via ebooks.

My workload was heavy last year, but i still have downtime at work and really enjoy audio books for driving. I like setting reading goals and analyzing what I’ve read and what I ought to do in the following year, and at the time, I thought there were 12 books in The Wheel of Time, so why not do a book a month? I technically started last year, and I’m a little behind, but I suspect that I’ll be getting the later audio books quicker as there’s more of a demand for the earlier books at any given time. I could be wrong, so we’ll see how this prediction holds out.

The premise is about a hero predestined to rise up and save the world from the enemies of not only humanity but light itself, and the terrible cost associated with that role, including madness and his own personal destruction. The story incorporates some eastern philosophies concerning reincarnation and duality in a traditionally western fantasy setting (at least at first), and takes its time examining how the rules of the universe would play out. Some readers might be put-off by ideas such as male and female having different ways to access the True Source (channeling) and the first book does come across as very familiar to other classical material, notably The Lord of the Rings. However, because the author is in no real rush to get to the plot points, ideas are very fleshed out and the world is fantastically developed.  If you’re going to be put off by chosen ones or characters having plot armor (Ta’veran, ones whom around the pattern weaves) or you want a most post-modern look at fantasy, or don’t want to commit to a 14-book series, this probably isn’t for you. I think those who want to write fantasy should at least give it a shot when they can handle the time commitment. Sometimes you start out thinking something is going nowhere, and it’s actually set up for something that comes later. I’m roughly 1/3 into the series, and about to start the famous slog, so I’m going to commit to more commentary when I get through that part.

One of the most common phrases stated in the story is, “The wheel weaves as the wheel weaves” and to me, this is exemplified in how ideas are introduced and shown for a while, and then a viewpoint or idea is seemingly dropped only to reappear or be shown in a different way. The pattern isn’t always apparent to the reader, although I don’t think the ideas are super complicated that you have to be very familiar with tropes that have come before. If anything, this shows how fantasy does extremely well at showing how different peoples and cultures examine ideas.

When the main story begins, only women have the ability to become channelers safely. The male half of the source has become corrupted, and every man who can channel but be cut off from it, lest he go mad and hurt folk. This corruption has led to not only the female channelers themselves being weaker, but for different societies to view the ability with magic in different ways. You have the Crusaders/Inquisitors of the Children of the Light who think all ties to magic as evil (regularly calling women who can channel Tar Valen witches and highly suspicious of anyone outside the regular world as Dark Friends) and the Seanchan who have devised ways to control women who can channel by collaring them and treating them like chattel, to cultures who go out of their way to keep their daughters from being taken by the White Tower to be trained. The White Tower is slowly revealed to not be a safe haven, where personal politics and ambitions plague the simplicity of what should be defeating the great evil. People all may want to defeat the dark one (unless they’re on the other side, obviously) but they have different ideas on how to go about it. For instance, among the female mages (Aes Sedai) once you’re raised you chose an Ajah, or dedication of field, be it education, or logic or healing. One of the more hated and feared among the public is the Red Ajah, a field dedicated to finding men who can channel and ‘gentling’ them, something that’s ultimately a death sentence but it saves the man from hurting someone. They’re portrayed as a group that hates men, but logically a red sister has a terrible duty, because to allow a man to channel (and he almost invariably will) isn’t just a death sentence for him. He’s not evil, he’s insane, and depending on his potential, can level villages. Thing is, they’re not established as evil – there’s an entire Ajah, the secret Black Ajah, who are sworn to the Dark One. The reds vary in methodology and philosophy, but it’s suggested that proportionately, there’s no more reds in the Dark Sisterhood than any other Ajah.

The big beef is the portrayal of women. I’m used to the more dated ideas, insofar as writers trying to portray their women as, “not being like others”. I’m not talking about characters that embrace their femininity or anything to that extent. I’d think that, even if magic is highly regarded as something to be wary of, women only really being able to access it safely would result in a more divisive role between the genders, as there’s plenty of women who aren’t using the Big Guns but still able to use their almost innate abilities channelling as village wise women, healing and helping with the weather, showing in one culture as a job designation that allows sailors to get favorable winds. It’s more of the, “she had a stare that could melt you” clichés over and over again. I don’t mind women who are rough around the edges (I kind of liked the Head Cook of Tar Valen, her name escapes me and it might be three volumes before we see her again) it’s just so… there’s a lot of posturing, let’s put it that way.

I get it; Jordan is establishing that these women can be atypical or different from other women, even among their culture. But when 80% of them are more steel than silk, it becomes the norm. Another aspect of it is that the female aspect of magic is that they have to submit to it, so the idea shows up again and again in the woman’s roles in society. Women are told they must give up and do as they are told, obedience is expected, meanwhile we’re hit over the head with the woman in question wrestling with being headstrong in her own mind. Ultimately this leads to women who become full fledged channelers (almost always Aes Sedai, but it’s more complicated) governed by laws designed to keep them from opposing their will on others, but ultimately they find ways to circumvent their oaths and they come across as manipulative.

Men, meanwhile, must embrace their masculinity and seize, and they call women out for essentially being sneaky instead of forthright, even though I suspect if Moraine laid everything on the line when she first met the boys, she would have been run out of town on a rail. I kind of understood why Rand is wary of those who would try to manipulate him, but given he’s known Egwene since they were kids and Moraine is dedicated to a cause not a person, you’d think a guy worried about his own mental state would use them at the very least as guiding posts. So far my favourite female character is Nyneave, who I probably would have hated if I started reading the books in junior high, but now I have a writer brain not a reader brain.

Anyway, this is getting long enough so I’ll wrap it up. There’s tons of characters, but it’s really not that bad to remember who is who. Jordan takes his time to name characters who have roles, and because it might have been half a book if not books since we met them, they’re quickly reintroduced. Really, I never mind having a sprawling cast and they’re memorable enough that you quickly remember even if it’s been a while. Could it be more precise? Sure. Do I care? No.

I’ll probably finish The Witcher (minus the anthologies, they seem to be more in demand than the main series, haha) in about a month or so and I’ll do something similar. I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would, but the same went for the Netflix show. Until next time.

6 Jun

Coming 21.06.21

Dreams of Mariposa Review Tour, Keycon, WSS News

16 May

Starting May 31, Dreams of Mariposa will be featured on a blog tour. You can check out the dates here and enter to win the gift card. As always, I do not care what online book seller you want (Kindle, Kobo, B&N). I like the option for Kobo because you can use them at Indigo/Chapters stores, but I also acknowledge the behemoth that is Amazon.

Keycon, Winnipeg’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, is taking place virtually this coming weekend. I am on three panels. You can see the full list of programming here. You need to click on the dates; the first one is suggestions and no one took much interest in my panel on Stupid Sexy Smeagol, so I’ll probably just blog about why Tolkien doesn’t need sex scenes later.

I am lined up for:

Saturday 3 PM: Genre vs. Setting

Sunday 1 PM: Working with an Editor

Sunday 330: How to Write a Zinger

All times are CST. Events are free, you just need to register. When Words Collide did something similar last year, but the problem with it being a free-for-all is you do not need people with… let’s just say malicious intent wrecking it for everyone. If this goes well, I think I’ll volunteer for panels at WWC, but timing has to work out.

Speaking of Timing: When it rains, it pours. I finally got the final working PDF back for Witchslayer’s Scion, so I have gally edits to do. My sister is looking over the final edits on The Mermaid and the Unicorns and I think I’m going to redraw that map. I’d love to say that I have had plenty of time, what with the lockdowns and what not, but if anything I have been busier than usual. I’m in healthcare, I am also going to be ordering some stock of Dreams of Mariposa now that it is in print, so if you want me to sign a copy contact and we’ll go, or skip the middle man and order right from Champagne’s website. I don’t want to commit to a time of publishing for Witchslayer’s Scion just because it has taken so long, but hopefully end of June. The formatting didn’t have it as long as I worried, so once I get the finals back I will book another book tour (and probably a review tour) that’ll probably take place sometime in the summer. I would also love to commit to saying if we’re going to be doing any in-person events, but Manitoba is doing a hard shut down until at least June. Stay safe, love each other in the meantime.

Tropes I hate: The Gauntlet School

11 Apr

I just want to make it clear that I actually am quite enjoying the books I’m going to discuss. It’s just a trope I despise.


Offenders?

The Poppy War (The Poppy War)

Rage of Dragons (The Burning)

The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time)

Basically, in the newer books, main characters Rin and Tau respectively have to out train and out work everybody else in order to keep their places, fueled by spite and revenge respectively. Technically a more moderate motivation is their lives in their social caste system depends on it, but given that means there’s plenty of other people in their respective worlds who also don’t want to eat dirt for a living.

Wheel of time is a little different – characters Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne have arrived at Tar Valen to do their training as Aes Sedai, and while Nynaeve has been elevated to Accepted from the get go, the other two are generally having a hard time adapting because of their relative privileged positions and the workload on them, with once again Nyneve being a lot like Rin being driven by spite. All three are saddled with punishment upon their return to the school after leaving without permission. Among their punishments, is being forced on kitchen duty. A lot of characters were musing prior to them arriving at Tar Valen how much the other Sedai were going to make their lives miserable, and it’s implied that at least one character is worried about giving them all the soul-crushing work. To me, this read more as a misunderstanding between social classes, because I was all like, “That was it?”

These characters break the rules constantly to get around the obstacles set up for them. They barely sleep. One of them enters the spirit world to get throttled by monsters because time runs akimbo and he can train more.  These young protagonists (teenagers all) are physically wrecked, but find out once they pass one barrier, the next one’s even steeper.

I’m not kvetching about grit. If you have the time to read the book Grit by Angela Duckworth, I highly recommend it.

And I’m not saying you can’t function sleep deprived, or even get used to it. I’m a shift worker, and prior to this worked multiple jobs and school, and and and. Some obligations took more time than others, and you can do anything for a short amount of time, but here’s what I really noticed.

When you have no spare time – absolutely zero – you hate life and everything about it. Granted, multitasking is possible but I’m talking about listening to an audiobook for pleasure while you’re on a treadmill, not studying a textbook while doing the same thing. If you know it’s only for a week or a month or whatever, you can manage. When I get new partners, we talk about the stress of exams and getting that first job. Until third year Uni, I managed to squeeze in a daily hour of physical fitness (and I was probably in beast mode because it was the only way to let off steam), but eventually that had to be dropped as well. It’s a little different now that I can write or do other work on the job, work feels like a vacation compared to being chewed out and force to do rote memorization for a test that’s irrelevant to the job and getting shit on by employers because they figured out you went back to school part time.

 Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone do better when they haven’t slept? Is the person who never has a chance to recover going to outperform their peer groups? Particularly the ones who only have the obligation of school or whatever. There’s plenty of lazy people in the world, but there’s plenty of people who are genuine workhorses. I get it’s supposed to be about the character overcoming great obstacles, but if the problem is the unjust world, what makes that main character so special that they’re the only one that hungry?

Granted, for me it’s not a fun place to be or revisit. I’m all for learning and perseverance, and I’m all for trying to show your character has to overcome an obstacle in their way. Having a very stringent caste system or social hierarchy is a good way.

But you need sleep and to tell us mortals that your can-do attitude has limits. We all may have 24 hours in a day, but you can’t keep borrowing from the sleep bank without paying interest.

I’m going to talk about these books more but they’re not going to be straight up reviews. Meanderings. Honestly, all three are really good series, and worth checking out.

Cover Reveal: The Mermaid and The Unicorns

6 Apr

If you follow me at all on FB you might have noticed me post something about this, but here it is with proper title and everything. I’m hiring the artist to do the back blurb and spine, I’m a bit nervous because it’s almost half the size compared to ToO or WSS, but I think it’s cool to see how someone who knows what they’re doing do it.

I was looking at premade covers honestly looking for inspiration for Novellas. Lots of premade covers are beautiful, but they often don’t work for a given project. I saw this one and immediately got YA vibes. I consider the title to be older MG, but, there’s something about being 12 and how you can’t wait until you’re an adult and mature at 16.

I originally wanted to goof around and do some of the art myself, and there’s still that. Know how I used to kvetch I suck at inking? I don’t suck so much anymore. I have been practicing my map making for a few years, so I’ll post about ‘Doing it yourself’ vs. Hiring out another time.

When will it be out? I dunno; the editor I hired is putting some finishing touches on formatting and I have to code. And grow a backbone.

Eep.