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Feeling “Series”ously annoyed July 23, 2011

Posted by Realitybypass in Rants.
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Okay universe…why can we not identify books in a series in a standard easy way?  Why do you do this to me?  Why why why why…

So I’m a little peeved.  One of my favorite past times is to buy books for my adorable husband…myself as well, but he’s cuter when I buy him books.  The last three or four times I’ve bought him books I’ve managed to buy books that were NOT the first in the series.  When buying in the bookstore I check the front cover for the book lists.  I check the spine for a number.  I check the front of the book for some CLUE as to where this book attaches or if it stands alone.  And still I manage to continually buy out of synch.  This is one of the things which seriously drives me to the Internet for purchasing because I can figure out which book in a series I’m looking at.  I prefer the immediacy of walking into a bookstore and walking back out with a pile of bright shiny books, but so many brick and mortar don’t carry all the books in a series and then their not marked…thank you Amazon.

Grr…argh…I must go place an order now.



Series loyalty or just insanity? June 28, 2011

Posted by kmcalear in Book Series, Critiquing, Musings, Rants, Urban Fantasy.
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I noticed, recently, that a new Anita Blake book had come out. This one was entitled Hit List. Anita Blake was one of my first “urban fantasy” series and can be argued as one of the first that created the genre. Therefore, those of us who enjoy reading and writing in the genre are indebted to her. As well, the first 5 or 6 books were very good, the characterization was intriguing and the mysteries were engaging. Before the werewolf/woman/vampire triangle of Edward – Bella – Jacob there was the Anita – Jean Claude – Richard triangle, which spurred just as many vehement book-lover’s debates!

But then Hamilton decided to change her novel from paranormal fantasy to pointless pornography. I’m not a puritan when it comes to book content, but if it’s in the book have a danged point! You can write a pointless scene about baking a cake or a drawn out pointless sex scene and I’ll snarl equally, because I feel scenes in a novel should always advance either characterization or plot.

Which leads me to my point, why are people still reading Anita Blake? The reviews I see on amazon are negative and decry the lack of plot, novels of pure filler information, the dreadful characterization, the incomprehensible scenes and yet… they KEEP BUYING THEM? Why? Every author can have 1 or 2 duds in a series, but when you have 6 or 7 duds it’s time to give up the series and find something new.

There are so many aspiring, and GOOD, authors out there, after all. Use the money you would spend on a series you dislike and buy something you’ve never read before. You can always keep following the previously good, now bad, series at the library  on the slim chance it gets better.

This does, of course, lead me to a final question. When is series loyalty just too far? Do books really manage to get better after a set of duds, like tv series can sometimes do? (Case and point –> Battlestar Season 3, Farscape season 3 and Star Trek: TNG, season’s 1 and 2, they got better later). But at least, for tv, it’s generally free. Not so with new “episodes” of books.

Whatever happened to pick-up lines? March 6, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Life, Musings, Rants.
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I played hooky from my work, my house cleaning and my class-reading Friday night to test a theory. What is the theory? Well dating advice suggested that single women will never meet men out and about if they’re even with one other woman. The suggested reason? According to the study, men are too uncomfortable to be rejected in front of even one other person.

Fie I cry! If men are allowed wing men, why can’t we have wing women? Fie! More Patriarchy! (Said in her most saber rattling voice!)

But more seriously, I decided, why not. The study suggested to bring a book to a bar  to go read, and I brought my new Mini-laptop instead and settled down at my favorite upscale coffee and wine bar and began working on grading exams. There were 5 men around my age, several rather good looking. 3 were enmeshed in a cutt-throat game of Connect 4. I watched them a little and smiled and kept working. After 30 minutes one of the men on the other couch in the far corner approached (unsteadily) and drunkenly sat down. Already swing…. and strike out. But the conversation wasn’t even an amusing attempt at drunken pick-up lines. He asked if he was bothering me, asked me my job… and then promptly asked me for my age. His even drunker buddy returned and asked me how much money I make. They then inform me how bad the Carpentry industry is currently, otherwise they’d have more money and thus be drunker. In the space of 5 minutes they’ve informed me they’re complete lushes, rude when drunk and have no money. I am grateful when Less-Drunk-Harry (names changed to protect the inept) tells More-Drunk-Dave that they should leave and they stand to leave. More-Drunk-Dave however leans in and grabs for my computer, asking me if it’s a ViOS. I move it out of the way. I don’t even like my FAMILY to touch my computer! AGH! He asks me, “What’s your name again and can I call you some time?”

Maybe when hell freezes over! (So that’s what I should have said, according to my girlfriends… I just politely informed him I was seeing someone, but I was flattered thank you.)

So then another young man walks over, this one is tall, dark haired, swarthy looks and I’m wondering if the night has improved. He asks if he can sit down at my table, and I agree. The moment he sits down I get a lungful of stale cigarette smoke. Ugh! I hate cigarette smoke period, but stale…unwashed out of clothing… smell is just awful and I can smell it from across the table! Swing and strike.  But maybe he’ll be an interesting conversationalist, even if I don’t date smokers.

But Smoke-stack-Joe (name changed) manages to completely move from ‘smoker I won’t date’ to ‘complete loony’ when he informs me in the space of 5 minutes that:

 1) He’s jobless and highly sensitive to being asked, and not really looking.

2) He dropped out of college because of personal reasons

3) He really shouldn’t go out because he “hates f* people”

4) He uses highly rude expletives every other sentence (he calls them explicatives and feels they give his speech emphasis. I feel more like my great-grandfather, cursing shows a lack of vocabulary)

5) His family is involved with the mob and he feels that the mob has the right idea, we’d not have so many “f* idiots if the credit card companies killed people for defaulting on loans.

6) His father, who was in the mob, went crazy and had to be committed.

While I have some sympathy and the PHD in me was analyzing how father issues would definitely cause a lack of direction in adulthood, the woman in me was screaming in terror. Bad manners, no ambition, bad language, bad genetics and violent tendencies…. um no.

Maybe the pick-up-line was created to allow women to gauge a man’s verbal skill and creativity! Or at least… maybe they have to be sober enough to remember it…

But the moral of the story, I was very happy to go home to my computer, my cats, a nice book about a man with manners, and some Angry Chick music on my Ipod. My question for blog-land though, is there a ‘too nice’ when it comes to obnoxious bar flies?

Oh…. yes, forgot to mention, earlier I met a charming 64 year old at my favorite sushi place. He was good company, shared stories of eating oysters in his childhood and suggested some nice upscale clubs downtown. And that…. was the best conversation and prospect of the night, someone my grandfather’s age.

No more bars for … maybe… ever. Jeez.

Book/Movie Pet Peeves: Stupidity March 30, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Book Review, Musings, Rants, Writing Craft.
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I went to see “Haunting in Connecticut” with a friend this weekend. While I do admit to watching much of it from behind my fingers, or over her shoulder, my fear subsided near the middle/end to simple irritation. The story started well, and you could even understand why everyone ignored the obvious creepiness: the protagonist was on medication that could cause possible hallucinations and “strange and psychotic” behavior. So even the protagonist believes he’s seeing hallucinations, at first, rather than ghostly manifestations. I was pleased with this, it seemed to explain why the family would stay in an obviously terrifying situation, which is usually where horror movies fall down.

But then it fell apart: They all experience these terrifying visions and find light scares it away, but then when drunken husband comes and destroys all lights they huddle in the dark and don’t even try to explain what happened? They don’t /leave/ the house and go somewhere safe? Um… They had it revealed, without a doubt, that the house was possessed; but then… when they’re warned that “spiritual aftershocks” will happen for a few days, not only do they not GO anywhere else, they leave the children alone in the house? Hellloooo. Then the protagonist, who realizes that the dead bodies must be released and burned, returns to the house he, for some inexplicable reason barricades himself in to set it on fire? Again, umm… And the mother goes racing into the barricaded, burning house to sit under a table in the fire while it burns around her, so she can hold her (should already be dead from cancer) son… umm… Blah. The fire department could have saved him, or frankly… he never should have barricaded himself in in the first place?

So… rant off, but my moral is: your characters can be duped, misled and misconstrue information. That makes a good twisty plot, but if you have to rely on stupidity to move your plot forwards, come up with another way! You may want the kids to be endangered by ghosts, but why would any sane protagonist leave them in the haunted house? You may need for your villian to escape custody, but the ‘leaving the door unlocked’ is just not the way. Creativity before stupidity! Woohoo.