Feb 24 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh, I’m not even putting it on here anymore. Crits- None currently Reading- Mostly intern stuff: 5 of those to 100%, 4 published books. The GLBT one I was reading, Grasshopper Jungle, is… well, strange, rambly, and honestly a bit of a mess. I just haven’t had enough time to read for fun, though, so not finishing that likely this month. (What you don’t see in here: 45 partially read between Jan/Feb, to various amounts. All past the first chapters, some to like 75%, some to only 25% or less.)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Did, and almost done with the next set. Whoot!
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Uhm… No. Oops.
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.-Partiall written next month’s, need to figure out an ending on that.

It’s been really busy at my dayjob lately, they’re trying really hard to meet some quarterly goals that were a bit overzealous, so I haven’t had much time to work on my own projects. Combine that with being utterly exhausted afterwards, and most of my work is getting done in the mornings before the dayjob and on the weekends.

I find it interesting, though. There’s been a lot of buzz because some SFWA guy made some really sexist comments. He’s since apologized after he was repeatedly called out, but this led to a great number of discussions about how women/POC writers are largely ignored by booksellers and how ingrained this discrimination is, to the point of almost subconscious blinders. It made me wonder though: I keep hearing that scifi is dead, no one wants to buy scifi, etc. How much of this is because women (who are generally reputed to make up the majority of the reading populace) see these stories as not being targeted at them. Looking at the top best selling scifi books on Amazon, do you notice anything? Of the top 20, there’s 1 book written by a woman. 4 in the top 50. 10 in the top 100. (Granted, there are repeat/duplicates in there for mutliple editions and some box sets. I’m also not trying to figure out for initial names if they’re a guy or a girl. This isn’t a full on study, just a quick assessment.) Of those, many of the ones with women writers have covers that are extremely feminized vs their male counterparts that mostly focus on ships/worlds/epic sized things.

But wait. What about YA Scifi? Because the thing is, YA doesn’t segregate (at least most of the time) different genres apart. Contemporary is mixed in with scifi, mixed in with fantasy, mixed in with paranormal and dystopians. The trend is reversed. It’s mostly women. Top 20: 20 women. top 50:41 women. Top 100: 82 women. Hmm. So judging by this (admittedly, very limited) glimpse? It’s not that women don’t write scifi. It’s that we’ve (either by choice or market pressure) sold mostly YA Scifi.

Granted, there is overlap. A few books appear in both the YA and adult scifi lists. Some books are listed multiple times due to different editions. And like I said, I wasn’t bothering to sort out the initials genders (The whole point of using initials in a pen name is to avoid disclosing your gender at all, therefore I’m considering them gender neutral.) We also have no way to know how this translates into actual units moved and real money for the publisher/author. Some of these books have tens of thousands of reviews on there. Others only hundreds. Trust me, if I ever get access to real, solid numbers, I will be a VERY happy camper. (That’s the subject of a whole different rant!). This also doesn’t separate out self vs traditional publishing, I suspect that would be interesting to look at too.

The reasons are complicated. It’s a self fulfilling feedback cycle. What’s selling as adult scifi is mostly male written, so what’s being promoted is mostly male written, so what’s being acquired is mostly male written, because that’s what sells. It’s why everyone and their cousin says scifi doesn’t sell, when it really just shoehorned itself into a corner. Meanwhile, you have the YA market exploding with scifi (and dystopian, which until about 5 years ago was still lumped into scifi entirely.), and yet “scifi doesn’t sell”.

And this, folks, is why adults read YA. When you stop publishing what people want to read in Adult, we’ll find our stories where we can get them, even if there are annoying constant love triangles in there as a result.

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It would have been a better review, but…

Have you ever been in a restaurant and ordered a steak, only to be brought a hamburger? (I hope not, but work with me here!) It might be the best hamburger on the planet, something you’d savor if that was what you were in the mood for, but because you wanted a steak, the hamburger feels like a cop out. The same happens with books.

Reader expectations are THE single hardest thing to manage as a writing professional. A lot of factors add up to create them: The cover art, the back copy, the marketing ploy, the tag line, even things the author says about it on their blog.

Guilty pleasures, bubblegum books, whatever you call them, sometimes, a book just hits me just right. It might not be the best book ever. It might be sorta superficial, and trite, and super predictable… but I’ll like it anyway. But I HAVE to know that’s what I’m picking up when I sit down to read it. I have to WANT that when I sit down to read it.

Contrast these two stories (names and details changed to protect egos. These aren’t friends novels, just inspired by 2 I’ve read this year):

A YA contemporary with a steampunk angle, we’ll call it Bells and Whistles. Bells and Whistles follows the adventures of Mary Sue when she falls through a crack in the world to dinosaur land that no one knows about, and only she can unlock the secrets of the Paleozoic era, because she’s a special snowflake with a magical familiar who is totally not just an author intrusion device, really! It has a dark, somber cover, with a blurb that makes it sound like there’s some great mystery that she has to solve and wonderful conflicts between her and the other characters that can rock her world down to their foundations.

A YA contemporary playing off fairy tales, we’ll call it Wands. It’s about a girl who learns she has magical powers, and then has to juggle her mundane fail of a social life with her sudden time travel ability, while falling for a guy she knows she can never have. The entire magical system is handwaved with “Because history”, and there’s a very clear scene/act/reaction structure that makes the bones of the story stick out. The cover is bright and has shiny objects on it, and the blurb is as superficial and light as the story itself.

Now, some of those things are out of the author’s hands on traditional publishing, but let’s assume for the moment these were both self-published endeavors and thus the author had total approval control. Both stories handwave their magic systems. Both stories have Mary Sue type characters who are somehow super special despite humble/nonspecial backgrounds. Both have the tension of guys she likes being totally out of her league, and her fumbling to figure out what she wants out of her life.

The biggest difference between these novels is the way they’re packaged.

Dark, brooding cover and Serious Drama blurb vs bright, cheery, sparkley cover vs No Bones About it Fluff blurb.

Guess which one I went into expecting far more than was delivered? Yep, the first. I found myself being more analytical on it from the start, because I expected it to have depth, and was disappointed when it felt like a kiddie pool. There’s nothing wrong with lighthearted books… in fact, quite the opposite. The ones I’ve actually recommended in my internship have mostly been lighthearted, fun romps that didn’t pretend to be anything more than that. Setting reader expectations is absolutely key. I won’t read a romper book when I’m in the mood for tense drama, and I don’t want to read a tense drama when I’m in the mood for lighthearted fun. Maybe I’m strange, because I do read across genres so much, but it seems like a simple and controllable factor. In publishing, so much can be beyond your control. Why set anything up for failure you don’t need to?

Piracy part 2: What can authors DO about it?

Ok, so now that we’ve established that piracy has complicated motivations, we come to the good part: What can writers do about it?

It’s complicated. But knowing a few people who pirate, I asked around. What made them decide to buy a book instead of just downloading it? The answer that was consistent between all of them: They liked the author.

Now, on elaboration, I got a few different answers. Some of them said they knew the author and wanted to support them. They felt a personal connection to the author, either because they’d met them at an event, they really loved their other book(s), or they chatted with them online. I thought about how I decide which books to spend extra on (Above my normal $10 price point), and realized that applies there as well. There are about 10 authors or so where I don’t even LOOK at the price of the book, I don’t care how much it costs, I’ll buy it. So clearly, the most effective thing authors can do is to connect with their readers. Be it at events, online, even just blogging and seeming personable. How do you make this happen? Things like anecdotes about their lives, chatter, being excited about new things, geeking if that’s their thing, all sorts of things that make the reader feel like they know this person.

Granted, there are authors I’ve interacted with but don’t like their books, and books I’ve read and liked but don’t like the author. The later is far, far less common than the former. Even the authors where I’m not that fond of the story, I will be more likely to buy it if I like the writer, in hopes that maybe the next book will be the one that makes me fall in love with their writing. This goes doubly true if they have multiple series. There’s one author I know who, well, I’m not that fond of her writing. But we have interacted, and so I heard about one series of hers, after having tried to read her other series without enjoying it. That second series, however, I liked. Granted, the setting was very different, and the world building was much richer in the second series, which helps. But I wouldn’t have even bothered picking up that second series, based on just the first series, had I not interacted with them first. It would have gone on my list of books to check out of the library once I’m settled in Philly. I certainly wouldn’t have bought it.

TL;DR: If you’re an author worried about piracy, interact with your fans. The more people feel passionate about your writing, the more they’re going to buy your book… and your next one, and the one after that. Convert readers to fans, and you won’t have to worry about piracy. They’ll police themselves without even thinking about it.

Avast! What’s the big fuss?

(Sidenote: This should have gone up yesterday, but I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and then ended up with a throbbing allergy headache, and forgot to check. I hadn’t scheduled it right)

The other day, the wonderful Catheryne Valente was talking on Twitter about how piracy in music is influencing piracy in books. I was talking with a friend who didn’t understand what the big deal was. Her whole argument was that piracy encourages discovery, in the same way music discovery is aided by things like Pandora and Spotify.

On one hand, she’s right. There are thousands of books published each year. I just checked my To Be Read list, and there’s over 140 books there that are 2012 releases. So out of those thousands, 140 or so caught my attention enough to get added to a list intended solely to remind me they exist. How do I find them? Some I find through friends’ recommendations. Many of them I find following publishers’ blogs/twitters. Still others I find through browsing Goodreads lists. Between them all, it’s a lot of effort, but mostly done in bursts of obsession (Oooh, I found a list with 2000 books on it. Wonder if there’s anything good? *goes through the whole list*)

But how will I know if I’ll like them? Well, a few ways. I read reviews, not so much for the actual ratings as for what they say about the book. I know certain pet peeves of mine will make me take a book off my list pretty quickly. If multiple people say the same thing, it can influence what I think. I also tend to use the sample feature on Amazon. If I don’t like the sample, I won’t get the book. Liking the sample doesn’t guarantee I’ll like the full thing, but it does typically mean I will at least be able to read the whole thing without throwing it against the metaphorical wall. Or, if you don’t have time for all that, you can always go to the bookstore or library and say, “I liked this book, what else do you have like it?”. Trust me, the people there will be happy to show you similar books.

So if discovery isn’t the real factor, let’s look at some other options.

Now, math has never been a strong suit of mine, but let’s play with some numbers here: According to a Harris Poll survey (Yeah, I know, not the most scientific source, but the most recent I could find), 32% of adults didn’t read a single book the year prior. Another 32% read between 1-10 books. 16% read between 11-20 books that same year, and a measly 20% read 21+ books. So for the purpose of this argument, we’re going to ignore the people who read less than 10 books a year. Let’s focus on that 36% (wow, really people?) who read more than a book a month. In fact, I’m going to make three mock people: One who reads a book a month, one who reads a book a week, and my record, 150 a year, or approximately 3 books a week.

And just to make the math simple, I’m going to assume all books are ebooks purchased legally for $10.

A book a month: $120 a year.
A book a week: $520 a year.
3 books a week: $1560 a year.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s sorta insane. This would be even worse if you bought hardcovers, with those averaging $25 (300, 1300, and 3900, respectively). So already, just looking at the ebook numbers, you’re getting into some serious cash from the reader’s perspective. Even assuming you had the time to read every book released in a year, few people I know would have the money to do it as well. 2000 fiction books published a year would cost you $20,000 minimum, or as much as my undergrad loans, or a good car costs. (If anyone has that kind of money just laying around and wants me to see if I can read that many books in a year, you could so pay me the cost of the books+living expenses for the year and I’ll give it my damndest!!)

This is where the singular argument is that I will almost grant to the pirates. Books can be an expensive hobby! In many ways, this is why publishing is having so much trouble with libraries and ebooks. They simply don’t know how to cash in on it the same way. Libraries are a great resource for passionate readers.

Yet there’s a double standard in the attitude here, do you see it? No one minds if you check a book out from the library, or get it used, or even borrow the physical book from a friend. So why the issue with pirating a book? Scale.

In all those scenarios, someone has bought it, and it will serve only a limited number of people. The library only has a limited number of patrons. If you get it used, even if you then turn around and resell it, it’s only going to get rebought a certain, fixed number of times. And even if you borrow every book your friend owns, they only have so many friends they’ll loan books to. By their very nature, all of these arrangements are limited, and so many, many copies are still bought. Some of those lends also translate into further sales when the borrower learns they like that author well enough to buy a copy for their collection as well.

Yet with ebook piracy, as in music, all it takes is one person to buy the initial book, and put it out there where millions of people can get it. Even small, private torrent sites will have tens of thousands of users. I doubt many people in the world can say they have 50,000 friends they’d trust with their physical books. Few libraries can boast more patrons, unless they’re places like the NYC public library. It’s the sheer scale vs numbers of sales that are the problem. Almost no authors would object to their books being checked out of the library. The libraries track how many times a book is checked out, and that can result in the rest of the series being purchased, and in larger quantities than it otherwise would be.

So what, you might wonder, can authors DO about piracy, other than get frustrated and screwed? Well, that’s a subject for Friday’s post.

Book Rant Wednesday: Innocent Darkness, by Suzanne Lazear

Sometimes an otherwise good book is a victim of a misleading cover. I’d seen it at BEA, and come on, read this back blurb: “Wish. Love. Desire. Live.

Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock’s hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer’s eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.”

First off, any blurb describing the heroine as having “hoyden ways” would catch my attention. Hoyden isn’t a word that’s used often enough, it’s fantastic! Add to that dirigibles, gears, goggles, and a clear steampunk meets faerie idea, and I was excited for this one. Enough that I wrote it down when the publisher said she was out of arcs of it, and had D use her librarian powers to get it for me ahead of publication.

The cover makes it look more steampunk than it ended up. It’s far more of a Faerie tale than steampunk, and while there are steampunk elements, they felt more like shiny window dressing than anything relevant to the plot.

Even pushing that aside, there were problems. It reminded me of The Iron Witch crossed with The Looking Glass Wars. Not bad, but not something I’d bother picking up the sequel on. There simply wasn’t enough tension. The perspective shifted so often, sometimes multiple times per chapter, that there was no way to really build suspense. The minute I started wondering “Why is this guy acting like that,” we’d pop into his head for a while. Headhopping is a personal pet peeve of mine (as KT can attest), so if that doesn’t bother you, it might succeed better for you. Combine that with a plot that lollygags and meanders to the ending that leaves much open for the next book, and I ended up staring at the about the author page for a minute at the end going, “Ok, seriously?”.

Pretty cover, but that’s about the strongest thing going for it.

What to learn from this one:
*Each character does manage to seem individualized, which is good at least. That’s probably the strongest aspect of this one.

*Careful with how you do twists. If a revelation appears to come from nowhere, but then you think back, and you can see the footprints leading to it, that’s a good thing. If you see it coming the minute the relevant character walks into the room, that’s bad. If you can’t figure out where the hell it came from, that’s ALSO bad. It’s a very fine balance, and hard as hell to do. It won’t make a mediocre book great, but if not done right, it can take an otherwise great book to mere mediocrity.

*Expectations-Covers, like it or not, do give a reader the idea of what to expect. If there’s an element of your story that is popular, it will grab attention from that. But the contents need to live up to that expectation. I probably would have liked it, if I was going for a faerie book, but between writing one myself and reading a few already this year, I was actually looking for the steampunk to be relevant. Not just “Oh, here’s a clockwork dog that’s someone’s pet.” and “Oh, there are airship pirates… except they just get mentioned and are never a threat to her”. I was specifically looking for something that was steampunk when I started it, and I wanted the inventiveness to resolve the story somehow. No such luck, alas, and just left me disappointed.

If you bear in mind it’s a headhopping faerie story, and that appeals to you, you’ll probably like this one. Just go in with those expectations, and ignore the (still very pretty) cover entirely.

Book Rant: Blood and Iron, by Elizabeth Bear

This gets a rant for two main reasons. First, it felt like it couldn’t decide what class it wanted to be in. It’s a faerie novel, it’s a werewolf tale, it’s an urban fantasy, it’s an epic fantasy. It’s a mess of often sloppy mythology, and the pacing couldn’t have gotten more irregular if it were written as a round between a zombie, the Flash, and a toddler.

When it FINALLY seemed to be getting its act together, it proceeds to end in the middle of a scene. In theory, this would make the reader want to pick up the second book asap. In reality? That sort of trick makes me howl. I don’t mind if an author puts in a lead into the next novel, as long as they also wrap up the current book. But instead, nothing was resolved, and I wondered if my copy was missing pages or something, except nope, there it goes with the “You’ve finished this book, but before you go…” message. Just in case, I checked it the next time I was in the book store, and it ends in the same place in their copy too.

From a writer’s perspective:

This book shows the importance of having a clear, concise idea of what you want your world to be like. If you can’t explain your world in 50 words or less, then you’re doing it wrong. The worlds need to have a clear sense of place. To use The Near Witch as a good example in contrast, you get an idea of how Near looks, smells, feels, and it’s distinct. Same thing happens with Scorpio Races. Thisby is as much a character as Puck or Sean. Unlike in Blood and Iron, where NYC, somewhere in scotland, and the land of Faerie are all interchangeable. Ground your stories in a place, weave it into your story, and it strengthens the story immeasurably. Sensory details especially are critical in this. (Tomorrow’s post has some exercises, actually, on this subject. Check it out then!)

Book Rant Wednesday: 50 F’ing shades, by that one author.

I went in initially knowing nothing about it except that it was being hyped as propelling erotica into the mainstream. So of course, I wanted to check it out. I used to read a lot of erotica and romance, and used to write it some too, so I downloaded the sample, to see what the fuss was about. I’m glad I didn’t waste my money.

I don’t get the hype. It’s 89% Twilight FANFIC. Granted, she’s only (that we know of) plagiarizing herself, but it’s STILL FANFIC. Fanfic has a place, certainly. Under another name, I wrote fanfic over a decade, and that’s what led me down this writing rabbit hole in the first place. But the rules back then were clear: You don’t profit off it, it’s only for fun, or you risk lawsuits. Hell, in the fandom I was in, big name fans got cease and desist letters from the studio, because their websites were on hosts that had ads, and so they thought the BNFs were making money off their sites. Seriously. (No legal action ever actually went to court as far as I know, but still).

Add to that, there are SO MANY romance/erotica authors out there who write better prose, and hotter sex scenes. JR Ward, Aislinn Kerry, Elisabeth Drake/Alina Morgan (Same person, two different pen names), Sherilyn Kenyon, just to name a few off the top of my head. Romance has been around as long as stories have been told (What is the Illiad except a love story with a war?), and erotica quickly followed. So for all these people to go on like it’s the best thing and so fresh and new? I have a hint for you: OPEN YOUR DAMNED EYES! Walk in your local book store, or poke around your favorite online book supplier, and you’ll find millions of romance/erotica books. One of them is bound to, erm, tickle you pink.

Yes, it’s good that people are reading, and talking about books, and about sex, but… Catch up with the rest of us, will you?

Book Rant: BEA/ALA and ARC-ontroversy

There’s been a bit of a kerfluffle lately on how “nonprofessionals” are getting ARCs at things like BEA and ALA. I’m lucky enough to be in sort of a middle area. I’m not a professional reviewer, but a passionate amateur, who’s aspiring to someday make a living somehow related to books. As a writer who’s followed the publishing industry fairly closely for around 10 years, ARCs always seemed like the holy grail- something far out of the reach of ordinary people. But, then, they’re really not. Lots of authors give a few away to their fans, and sometimes you can get lucky. My younger sister is in grad school to become a librarian, and thus, is a member of ALA. When she went to the midwinter ALA conference, publishers were nearly throwing books at her. She came home with somewhere around 50 books total, having picked up ones for E and me, as well as for her own enjoyment. She also gets requests granted on Netgalley. She doesn’t tend to put reviews anywhere other than on Netgalley, yet to the mindset I’m seeing in some places would say she’s more qualified to get them than I am.

And at the end of the day? I think publishers need to ask themselves: What do they want the ARCs to do? Build word of mouth. Find the people who are passionate about their books, and find ways to engage them. People nowdays know when they’re being marketed at instead of to. How many books have made it big beyond expectations because a handful of people read them, and told the people they knew “read this”? And it multiplies itself. With twitter and blogs, goodreads and facebook, even someone who isn’t a “professional” can reach thousands easily. I am not a social butterfly, by any stretch of the imagination. If I were to post something to all of my network, both pen name and real name, I can count a “reach” of something like 500 people directly, accounting for some overlap between them. If I assume that’s average (I have friends with less reach, and others with far more, so it wouldn’t be outlandish to assume), and that maybe 10% of those friends would pass it on somehow (Based on the typical exposure rate vs buy in rate of several kickstarter projects I’ve followed), and 10% of those, the numbers very quickly go exponential.

I started blogging about books because the sheer number of awesome books I’m discovering through that/BEA pickups. I have blog posts scheduled closer to the releases of quite a few of those books, and am reviewing them lightly on goodreads and such under my real name as well. Their getting their word of mouth, and I’m getting lucky enough to read some amazing books ahead of schedule. This is perfect, to my mindset. I’ve already read ~55 books this year. I read 150 last year. (I know, I’m behind this year, but that’s because I’ve been focusing more on my own writing again.) And thing is? Some of these books are by authors I never would have picked up otherwise. For example, Alexandra Bracken has “The Darkest Minds” coming out in December. I’ll have a review up for it closer to release, because I think that’s the best time to do it (If anyone has an opinion about review right after reading vs the friday before release, I’m open to changing that). But I wouldn’t have even noticed it among all the other dystopians, except that I got a copy at BEA, mostly because the author looked so crazily young, and the cover looks interesting. I enjoyed it so much, I immediately went on amazon and get her debut book to read too. Even the ones I’ve gotten as ARCs, if I enjoyed them, will (money permitting) end up bought again in ebook format down the line, simply because I prefer having all my books in ebook form at this point. No, I’m not an “industry professional”. I’m an industry amateur, doing it for passion, not money. If it weren’t that things like editing/agenting requires (mostly unpaid) internships, I would do it in heartbeat.

None of us are the types to grab books indiscriminately in the first place, but I’m far more likely to give a new author a try when it’s free or cheap than I am when it costs $15 a pop. The kindle sample feature is nice, as it gives me a feel if I’ll like that author’s style, but it doesn’t tell me if they can pull off the story line, or develop their characters. There are so many books on my TBR list, more get passed up than picked up, if I’m in doubt. Though that gets more into the complexities of ebook pricing than the practicalities of ARCs, so I’ll skip that for now. There’s a lot to be said for passion, both love and hate, when it comes to books.

Though I agree that they shouldn’t be sold on ebay. I’d rather have them in a place of honor on my bookshelves, anyway. Even shinier is the signed ARCs. If anyone thinks they’re getting their grubby paws on those, they’re woefully wrong.

I don’t think people who are passionate about books should be frowned upon for getting the ARCs, nor should we feel entitled to them. I think, as long as they’re reviewed fairly and honestly, then the ARC has done it’s job. If they’d rather give out electronic arcs, I’m all for that, as long as they still try to reach a variety of levels, and don’t just say, “Well, if they don’t have at least XXthousand of followers, we’re not interested.”

Book Rant Wednesday: The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney

Sequels are always hard, but especially in a trilogy. You have to follow through with what you set up in the first book, and you have to set up the third book. Somewhere in there, it also needs to have it’s own plot arc. This one does the first, and sorta does the second, but it totally forgets about the third.

The first book left off after a great, epic showdown. I didn’t love the first book, but it wasn’t bad either. I liked the world building, even if it’s not that complicated. What’s there works, but nothing feels fresh about it. Partly, that may be because I’ve read so much fantasy over the years. I sorta read, in alphabetical order, my neighborhood library’s scifi/fantasy section as a teenager. Certain tropes are almost too predictable for my tastes. But even with that aside, you need to have some way to follow that showdown.

Instead of rebuilding tension, this one drags, and drags, and drags on. They’re going to try her for what happened at the end of book 1 (No spoilers here), and that hangs over her head for most of the book. Beyond that, there’s hints that set up book 3, a new power that seems thrown in, and the rest is all interpersonal conflicts. Essentially, almost all of book 2 could have been summed up in a paragraph or two, and then onward to the next confrontation. There was one nice confrontation at the end, but by that point, I was almost too bored to care.

Things to learn from this:
1. Even if it’s part of a series, a book cannot serve as ONLY a bridge. It MUST have an arc of its own.
2. Interpersonal drama alone cannot carry a YA fantasy novel. Even if you have some larger threat looming, it has to feel immediate. Otherwise, it’s simply taking up pages.

What do you all think?

Book Rant Wednesday: Oppression by Jessica Therrien- Finished, barely

I finished this one, but it was a narrow thing. There was a point about 60% through where I had trouble putting it down, which had me hopeful. Unfortunately, this effect didn’t last through the ending. By the end, I was watching the percentages the way I’d watch the clock at work near the end of the day.

Plot and Pace: Good concept, but the meandering of the plot made me impatient with it at several points. I wanted more to happen. A lot of introspection and angst. It was really slow to build up.
Style and Readability- All other things aside, I liked her writing style. I’d probably read something else by this author. And unlike a LOT of small/indie/self published works? I didn’t find a SINGLE typo!! That’s something to be commended! Great editing job.

Worldbuilding: I like the use of powers/abilities. While I objectively understand the kind of society she’s in, it stood at odds with the “normal” society by managing to be LESS mature than the shorter lived. There wasn’t much world built, beyond “Oh hey, those Grecian ‘Gods’ were really just our dumb grandparents showing off,” and “oh hey, there’s this Council who will kill you and any humans they want, with all the remorse you’d show at accidentally squashing an ant.”

Characters: I had a hard time relating to the main character. She was really shallow, despite life events that should have given her depth and maturity, and I didn’t find any other character enthralling. Even the romantic interest seemed flat, and everyone past that was cardboard.

As a writer, here’s what I took from this:
*Characters need to fit their world. If your characters are immortals, or incredibly long lived, that should MEAN something. It should influence the way they look at their world, at their lives. They should NOT just be long lived teenagers.

*Navel gazing should not be an Olympic sport. If your character spends more time ruminating about the events of the story than the events in the story take to occur, there’s a problem.

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