Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Analysis: Bone Magic

Okay, so I've intended to do book analysis on this thing for a while. Not reviews, exactly, but taking a book apart to determine what makes it good and what makes it bad. And my intention was to start with a good book (Sunshine, Robin McKinley, my baseline for awesome) and then do a really bad book (The first in the Merry Gentry series, whose name I have completely forgotten) and then go from there.

But a friend of mine lent me Bone Magic, and while it's not quite at Merry Gentry/Anita Blake's level of book suck ... it sucks. Hard.

So without further ado, let me give you the basic, spoiler free details in case you should ever want to read it, and then on with the ripping.

Title: Bone Magic
Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Readability: Look, this thing managed to upset BOTH Sunshine and Laurell K. Hamilton. VERY VERY VERY POOR.

What you need to know before you buy: Witches, magic, sex, vampires, fairies, dragons, demons, basically the author took the Paranormal Romance bottle of Mrs. Dash and sprinkled it over the manuscript pages. Writing is sub par, there are many, many MANY moments where I am thrown out of the book, characters are flat and uninteresting. Rent from library before you blow your money.

Review and details after the cut.

God. Shoot. Me. Now

It's memorial day today, which means it was memorial day weekend the last two days I worked. If Sunday were the only day I had ever worked, I would have quit now and forever avoided this company like the plague.

My manager is relatively new (two months and counting) but supposedly experienced and better at running large stores than the old manager, who did a much better job of keeping his employees from dying and/or quitting. Yay logic. We don't sell that here. In her great wisdom, she has decided we don't need to hire more people. We are massively short handed, and yet in the last two months have hired one person, the overnight fryer who was fired for not showing up for work. Which I think was partially the manager's fault, but more on that later. Anyway, because of our short-handed-ness, the two most difficult jobs in the department are spread upon the shoulders of two people, myself and a lady I'm going to call Sally. When we had a second overnight fryer, I would be his backup and Sally would be mine, in case I got sick or got a vacation. Sally also does scratch, so I would be her backup and the Assistant Manager would cover when I got sick.

No full time fryer means I am the FT fryer, with Sally as my backup. But I'm still supposed to be Sally's backup for scratch because the AM doesn't know how to do a couple of the breads. Which means, ladies and gentlemen, that we are SCREWED. Which was proven to me when the manager did the schedule so that I was doing scratch Sunday and Sally was doing doughnuts.

Which Sally didn't know. She says they changed the schedule on her, but I know they did not because I was pretty happy with the setup on Monday. Oh well.

There is another co-worker we'll call Ann. She has two settings while working: Singing and "Where's my glasses?". Ann actually DID lose her glasses yesterday, for real, and also twenty dollars. So she spent her breaks digging through everything in the department trying to find either, and couldn't.

Customers were everywhere. I had to make a late-shift flour run at noon, and got bombarded by people looking for the stuff on coupons, in a department I am completely unfamiliar with. I came back shuddering and frightened. In our store, the employees wear red shirts and the management+ staff wear dress button-up shirts in whatever color they want. Which means, in true Star Trek logic, that when the zombies attack they will know who to kill. My only hope is that I can defend myself with a carrot long enough to get to the street clothes I keep in my locker. Except that doesn't always work on the customers. I will walk in the store in sunday clothes to buy a pint of Blue Bell and get asked where stuff is by fifteen different people between the ice cream and the registers. Not that I mind helping, it's actually rather nice to help, but do I like have "employee of store" TATTOOED to my forehead? I'm in a dress, and it's not even red. How do you guys KNOW I WORK HERE???? Are you a stalker? Should I be worried? Are you a zombie in disguise planning for the future invasion?

Frankly, I love working for this company, it's fantastic, most of our customers are cool and make up for the customers who are not cool, but I'm gonna give the "new" manager about another month ('till my lease runs out) and then I'm probably going to transfer to another store. There is too much stress, too much stupid and OMG the schedule has reached sanskrit levels of incomprehensible. The reason the old fryer never showed up on Mondays is not because he liked skipping work (or not just because he liked skipping work) but because the way the manager schedules overnight shifts makes Mondays look as if you have it off when you don't. I've mentioned it to her and she just says "Oh, that's how I like to do it."

You also like the hiring process a lot, I take it.

Oh well, back to the hopeless treadmill of editing the book nobody will ever read. Have fun, universe!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reasons why my book is screwed

1. The economy is killing publishing.

2. Nobody cares about it. You know. Not really.

3. The main character is a writer. The first scene is a conversation between her and her agent. No agent or editor will ever read past page two.

4. You know all that stuff they say about how "cream rises" and good writing is a book's biggest selling point? They lied. You have to have a technically perfect ms., it has to be interesting, well planned and then have something unique enough to make it stand out from all the other technically perfect ms. they got that day. And then be something they think they can sell. See number three. See number one.

5. People will steal it once it gets published.

6. It's not that good anyway. It's not The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo or Sunshine or even Twilight. Do you know how depressing it is to realize Twilight level writing is something you must aspire to? Twilight got published. I didn't.

7. Writing is a financially dead career choice. It wasn't financially dead fifty years ago, or twenty, or even ten, but it's dead now. If you exist right now with a manuscript in hand, you will never be more than a hobbyist. The most you can aspire to is being widely read by the people who still want books. There will probably never be another Stephenie Meyer, and if there is, it won't be me and it won't be you. Fact of life. If you want money, go be a doctor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Note to Universe

Dear Christian People, of whom I am still marginally one,

When you meet a person who was raised as a Christian and has decided to explore alternative spirituality, this is usually an indication that the flavor of Christianity they were raised in no longer meets their spiritual needs. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe their flavor of church let them down. Maybe they witnessed some illegal and/or immoral activity by members in good standing (see Peter Popoff, the Catholic Priest sexual abuse scandals, and anything involving Benny Hinn) or maybe they just aren't getting "fed" and want more, and because their flavor of Christianity said certain things are evil bad and wrong, even if the Bible makes NO MENTION OF THESE PRACTICES AT ALL, they've decided that it's better to be evil-bad than to go hungry.

You deal with these people by being as understanding as you possibly can, and by trusting that God is 1. In charge and 2. knows what he's doing. C.S. Lewis was both an occultist AND an athiest, by his own admission, because he got screwed over in his early years by. He equates his re-conversion to being "dragged kicking and screaming through the front gate". Sometimes you have to go through the wilderness, and sometimes it takes a really long time.

For God's sake, the last thing you should do is SCREAM AT THEM. They're at an extremely fragile point in their spiritual development. DO NOT KICK THEM WHEN THEY ARE DOWN. Be kind, be sweet, be understanding. Open a dialogue with them. Discuss belief systems, why they've chosen the path they're walking and the nature of prayer vs. magic. You might be surprised by what you find. Don't bash their tarot cards. If you really want to get brownie points, learn what Tarot cards are.  Talk to them about the Christian themes involved in Death, the Tower, the Sun and Judgment and the value of symbolism and Jungian psychology. Offer to play the actual game of Tarot with somebody's spare Rider-Waite. Hell, buy them the Jesus Deck. It's 52 cards, not 78, but it's awesome, and an awesome witnessing tool.

Accept that they're not going to see "witchcraft" as evil. Just accept it. I know it's hard. I know this comes as a HUGE SURPRISE to some of you, but they don't believe in the same things you do. Telling someone who no longer believes in hell that they're going to go to hell is not EVER going to be effective.

Realize that the knife they've got sitting on their alter is called an atheme, and is not the implement they're going to use to slaughter kittens.

"Wicca" is a specific religion. Do not use it as a blanket term for paganism. It just makes the pagans laugh and proves you don't know what you're talking about.

Do not get your information about their chosen path from Jack Chick tracts. In the name of Jesus God, do not get your information from Jack Chick ANYTHING. Not only is he inaccurate as FUCK, but half those tracts are based on books (books HE PUBLISHED, no less) that Christian watchdogs discredited when the Satanic Panic hit. Because these books STARTED the Satanic Panic, and the Christians who still had their brains installed realized the weight of bullshit they were wallowing under.

There's that part in the Bible that goes, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of Power and of Love and of a Sound Mind." If you are screaming at someone, and if their religious beliefs scare you worse than combat, YOU ARE NOT GETTING VISITED BY CHRIST. Because "by their fruits you shall know them" and all that jazz. Be kind, be courteous, be gentle. Show that you are Christ-like by your actions, and that means comfort, love and teaching. The only time he ever got pissed was when HIS OWN PEOPLE were screwing up.

Thank you all for completely ruining my day. God bless.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Daily Thought of Encouragement

So I am STILL working on a novel, whose name abbreviates to WBR if you ignore the "the" in there, somewhere. I have been working on this novel for THREE YEARS now, and it's not any closer to being query-ready than it was back in 08. Well, okay, it's less of an incomprehensable mess.

But yeah. I'm at that "Fuck it" point, except that I know there are several GLARING flaws that require fixing, and in the process of the fixing I discover whole new GLARING holes. We are now on Edit Five, and I am starting to think there might be an Edit Six before we get to the Great Proofread and get to send this sucker out upon the world.

So instead of doing what I need to be doing, which is work on WBR or do the cover for Pat Blair's new novel, I'm working on a picture of Leythorne, WBR's MC's love interest. Who is hot. And because he's also a clothes horse, he's got one of those Jareth-the-Goblin-King outfits on, with this neck ruff. First time I did the neck ruff, I did not like it. I thought "Fuck it" and moved on to his coat ... and then moved back to the neck ruff. Threw it out (six hours work gone.) and started over. And the new neck ruff looks 100% better than the old neck ruff.

Moral of the story? Never settle. Even when "not settling" means you paint till your wrist hurts or edit until your brain dribbles out your ears.

So long, my non-existant sports fans, I must go fry doughnuts for our ever-widening local population. Ta!

After extensive research ...

... on Wikipedia and Fandom Wank, I have come to two conclusions:

1. If I had watched Lost from the beginning instead of giving up halfway through season two, I would have been sorely disappointed several evenings ago.

2. J.J. Abrams is terminally allergic to closure. TERMINALLY. What the hell, dude, you've made a series where EVERY SINGLE EPISODE is open-ended INCLUDING THE FINALE, a monster movie that just ends, it just freaking ends, the people are hiding under the bridge and the sirens go off and there is fire AND IT JUST FREAKING ENDS, and a pretty good Star Trek movie that reboots the entire series and means that we get no whales, Khan or Jon Luc Picard (or Weasley Crusher, which might not be a bad thing). The Bad Robot can do whatever it wants OVER THERE. If you come within six feet of any of my favorite books I will beat you with a cardboard cut-out of the Statue of Liberty's head.

Also ... making the Smoke Monster a human was a really cool plot twist, totally and completely up my alley, and I would have watched the whole show religiously IF YOU HAD REVEALED THIS IN SEASON TWO.

What we writers can learn from Mr. Abrams is ... give your readers closure, and answer a couple of questions before you introduce new ones. You can have questions that never get answered (Ie, is Sunshine really a bad magic/demon cross? Will Sunshine fans ever get to know what kind of vampire Con was? Will Robin McKinley ever write a sequel to the awesomest book ever?) but you have to answer a whole lot more (will Sunshine get out of the chains? Why does the wound on her breast never heal? Will she and Con ever have sex? Okay, the last one isn't answered on screen but given how hot and steamy that ending was, if Con doesn't finish what he started Sunshine will kill him with a breadknife) to get away with it.

If ALL of the questions I had over season one don't get answered until SEASON EFFING SIX, I stop reading/watching/begging and go do something productive with my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Computer Hell

I needed a netbook. I don’t travel THAT much, but I do, sometimes, and I’m usually an hour early at work because … well, it’s nightshift. I’ve been looking at laptops for a while, and netbooks seemed like a pretty good option. Comparatively small, cute looking, and about the size of a hardcover, so I can stuff it in my purse if I need to. I decided since I have an upcoming trip and plan on going more trips, that it’s time I actually bought one.

Little did I know, I was about to enter Computer Hell.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Life

I work in a bakery.

Actually, I work in a bakery in South Texas, and it's May. Whenever we want air conditioning, we just open a portal to hell. It's cooler down there than it is in the bakery. Two industrial strength ovens, one industrial fryer, and the a/c unit for our portion of the supermarket is broken. They started letting us keep bottled water in the back, even though the health department would have a heart attack. Having your employees pass out from heat exhaustion is not good for your insurance premiums.

I actually have the easier job, three days out of the week. I'm the scratch baker. They give me flour, water, yeast and a whole bunch of additives (aka "bases"), let me play with them and then pay me money. We have Asiago cheese bread that could melt the heart of Genghis Khan. And Jalapeno bread that could finish cooking said heart. Two days out of the week I am the overnight fryer, chained to a vat of very hot lard turning bits of dough into doughnuts, and inventing new ways to stay upright. Even the bakery floor looks soft at 3am.

Well, today we ran out of flour. We go through about 250 lbs of flour a day (5 bags, 50lbs each) and turn it into french bread, artisian bread, sub rolls, ect. ect. Having no flour puts the break on the workday. I had JUST enough to make tomorrow's bread, and wound up scooping the last out to make sponge. I love making sponge. Flour, yeast, water, grease up a bin, plop dough in bin, shove bin in cooler and ignore until tomorrow morning. You have this nice, yeasty thing that smells like a wine vat. You put it in the artisan bread. Sponge is the last thing I make before I scrape out the mixing bowl and go home.

We also had a metric ton of cake orders, which I have nothing to do with, thank god. Lots of frosting in many pretty colors, lots of customers wanting to know why we didn't match their cake colors to their highschool/wedding dress/prom dress. People. First, we're not allowed to mix our own colors anymore because it wastes too much frosting. Second, you didn't bring us the dress/school colors. Even Picasso cannot work out an exact hue you describe to him over the phone.

And one of the sculpture cakes collapsed on itself. Mercifully the customer called to cancel just as the leaning tower of Frosting was discovered.

The one bright spot in the day was working out a major plot point for my second novel while bent over with my head in the mixing bowl (it's a 100lb capacity bowl. A grown, not particularly flexible adult could curl up inside, just as long as nobody turns it on. Scraping it out involves gymnastics and many cuss words. It does not drain, so we cannot power-wash it the way we do everything else. And we cannot use metal tools on the sucker. We get to hang upside down with the bowl's edge digging into our middle, a plastic scraper in one hand and a bucket of not especially soapy water on the floor. Chemicals are not allowed near the food equipment.)

There. Second post done.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greetings, Salutations, ect. ect.

Like anybody's going to read the first post, ever.

So just to set this out into the Aether ... I am Christwriter, Christian, Writer, Artist, book-reader, Tarot-card reader, and ROCKING commercial baker.

I'm in the process of writing a novel. Which means it's finished, the thing is done, it just needs to be completely edited, an agent needs to be found, and then God I don't know, a miracle needs to happen to get it published. But! We will not let this stop us! We shall continue on, fighting the good fight, rescuing damsels, cutting all extra modifiers and passivity wherever it may be found!