The challenge has been completed. My Firefly Halloween Fanfic story, Do space dogs have fleas?is located here. It's dedicated to Anita Van Stralen, a member of my writing group who recently .... well, you'll see.
I bet you thought I'd forgotten all about the butt secks, didn't you? Well you're wrong!
I happened to win Beach House by Shawn Lane on the JesseWave site and had muchly fun reading it.
The story is about a whiny movie-star type who just got out of rehab, and doing a stint of solitude at a beach house in Morro Bay, Calif. If you've never been to Morro Bay, here it what it looks like:
The last time I was in Morro Bay walking along the shops, somebody drove by in a car and yelled, "Go back to Fresno!"
Anyway, back to the story. I think the author had a tough job of trying to convey a change in thought for the young movie starlet and also convey a fully-formed second character, all in 82 pages. She (and I'm assuming the author is a she), set her goals pretty high by making Mason's character not only isolated and lonely, but also depressed - enough to try to take his own life - and then have him turn his back on fame by the end of the book. That's a tall order!
Because so much time was focused on Mason, I felt like John didn't get as much "screen time," and was less fully developed. Still, it's a delight to read about a romp at the beach any day - beats 30-degree nights if you know what I mean....
Here are more shots of Morro Bay for your viewing pleasure:
When is Urban Fantasy not Urban Fantasy? When is Paranormal not Fantasy? These are good questions. All this and more will be answered below as we look at two very similar yet very different books I've read recently:
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey is what I would call Urban Fantasy. Why? 1. It's got a gritty Urban setting an a downtrodden protagonist who's having bad day after bad day. 2. The main protagonist AND the antagonists are all magicians.
IMO magic = Fantasy. In addition, there are other items on my list that authors are fond of sticking into books that always, at least to me, push the book immediately in the Fantasy genre:
1. Dragons / Fire breathing dragons
2. Magical rings, swords, the like
4. Elves, faeries, etc.
5. More often than not, castles and such
On the other hand, Already Dead by Charlie Huston is what I would call - to coin a new phrase perhaps - Urban Paranormal. Yes, it's got the gritty Urban setting. Yes, it's got the same downtrodden protagonist who's having bad day after bad day. But, in this case, the protag is a vampire. The bad guys are vampires. And he's hunting for a zombie! Even if one of the other hapless characters in the book happened to be able to draw a pentagram, this would still be listed under the Paranormal genre for me.
That said, I have to say that between the two books, I liked Sandman Slim better, and would even buy it. (I downloaded it FREE off the Sony EReader site)! Already Dead had itS hooks into me pretty good, but at the end of the day, the whole thing read like aCharles Bukowski plays with vampires novel.
Sandman Slim is dark, but Already Dead seems darker to me. The main character makes me feel less empathetic, and that's crazy talk 'cause FYI, the protag in Sandman Slim is pretty much a trained killer!
BTW it's an orange versus an apple type of comparison here, really. Read 'em both, you won't be disappointed in either, and let me know what you think.
This weekend I read A Husband for Margaret by Ruth Ann Nordin. It was a free download on my Sony EReader off of Smashwords. Interested parties may download it here.
This was the first work I've read by Nordin and it was certainly available at a good price!
However, I have the distinct feeling that were I to send it to Linnea Sinclair, I would hear the words "Mary Sue," in short order. 'Cause that's essentially what the character of Margaret is - a "Mary Sue."
In short, a Mary Sue character is:
A character that nothing really bad ever happens to.
A character the writer is too sympathetic towards.
A character the writer may imagine herself /himself to be, or pattern too closely to themselves to be thoroughly anonymous.
Linnea Sinclair says this about Mary Sues in her "No more Mary Sues" homework handout (this is from a workshop back in 2009):
"Which brings us to Mary Sues. Mary Sue is the label given to too-perfect characters often found in fan fiction. They‘re the writer putting his imagined-self into the story as the main character and deleting all the flaws."
"Writers who pen these characters often fail to realize that their very perfection—instead of engendering reader identification and empathy—repels readers. Because readers are themselves flawed."
"Mary and Marty Sues are one-dimensional because of their perfection. One-dimensional characters make for boring reading. Writers pen these perfect characters often believing they‘re giving the reader the perfect hero. But readers aren‘t perfect so readers cease to care because there‘s no common ground with which they can identify."
(Linnea Sinclair, RWA Online workshop, No More Mary Sues, 2009)
Why are Mary Sues bad? Well, they don't cause the reader to experience any deep emotions, don't cause the reader to experience cliff-hanging, nail-biting tension - because nothing that bad ever happens to them - and since they are perfect, we can't measure up to them as readers since we aren't perfect in real life, and we know that.
So, why do I think Margaret is a Mary Sue? Well, let's go over what happens to Margaret in the book and how she reacts and the outcomes:
1. Margaret advertises for a husband
2. The groom-to-be arrives but it's not the same one she corresponded with.
3. He likes her.
4. She likes him.
5. After waffling for about 2 pages, she agrees to marry him.
6. Happiness ensues.
7. At the wedding, a rival for hubby's hand shows up.
8. Margaret hisses at her, and she withdraws into the background.
9. The marriage goes on.
10. Happiness ensues.
11. Marriage night, she has orgasm.
12. More happiness.
13. He buys the house she wants.
14. He gets two jobs to support them.
15. She gets left alone to handle the children. Has to deal with evil women in the park who says she's not a good mother.
16. The children help her.
17. She gets upset, cries.
18. Hubby makes it all better with his kisses.
19. Other woman won't leave them alone.
20. She hashes a plan to teach her a lesson.
21. It works!
22. Happy ending for all.
You know, IMO, what this story needed? A death, a scandal, and the church set on fire. At the very least, the two characters should not have married until the very end of the novella. Here is some shit that the author could have thrown at Margaret but didn't:
1. Debra could have entered the church and yelled, "But he killed his last wife!"
2. Debra could have entered the church and yelled, "But I'm pregnant with his child!"
3. A kid could have been seriously injured.
4. The house could have burned down.
5. They could have immediately hated each other and been forced to marry anyway.
6. One of her family members could have died.
7. Her best friend could have died or lost a baby, etc.
8. Something, anything really BAD could have been thrown at Mary Sue so that she actually had to deal with some real shit and show us who she really was when the chips were down.
To see if your character might be a Mary Sue, try one of the online tests. Some of them are hilarious BTW!
So, in closing, I say, kill Margaret off and this'll be a winner!
I've recently finished reading Feed by M.T. Anderson, a YA (young adult) cyberpunk novel. Now, YA is not usually my genre, and the dialog does get a bit, like, you know, like, old dude. But hey, I didn't read it for the dialog! I read it for the grim nasty future world depiction which didn't disappoint. And because somebody on the NaNo board suggested I read it, 'cause it sounded a lot like the future vision I had in my for my book.
All in all, a good read.
After this, I dove into Matter of Class - a Regency Romance! - by Mary Balogh. If you are not familiar with her Regency tales, you should be. She's got quite a few of them!
This one was somewhat different, different enough to be interesting and to lead you on, so to speak.
We meet two different people who appear trapped in circumstances beyond their control - an impending marriage! Gasp! Marriages are what Regency romances are all about! But in the back-story line, we get a different view - the childhood to adulthood relationship of how these two have interacted and how they've come to this point. The ending .... you don't see it coming right away. But you're given little hints as to why and how this will all turn out. Figure it out and you could be a Regency writer too!
Now my attention is drawn towards the two ebooks I won this last week, and the freebies I downloaded off the Sony eReader site. Which one first I wonder?