Well, That’s Annoying

Feeling irritated tonight.  I was looking forward to a productive morning of writing tomorrow, but I was told that our daughter’s nursery will not be picking her up tomorrow morning.  I was confused.

So, what happened?  Well, my wife called them last Friday to inform them of a change of schedule, that we’d like her to go to the nursery on Wednesdays, as well.  They said they understood and it’s fine.  Fast forward to tonight.  My wife got an email from them saying that they will not pick her up, as we didn’t tell them about the change of schedule by email.  What?  They’ve known about the change of schedule since last week, yet they won’t even add her to the pickup schedule simply because we didn’t email.

Well, there goes my morning tomorrow.  No chance to do my A to Z Challenge writing.  I should be able to keep on schedule, though.  It’s just irritating.

I Want to Read Here

When I was a kid, I liked to take a book outside on a sunny day and read. The feeling appealed to me so much. It still does. These days, I do most of my reading on the train or during my lunch break.

But today, the weather is perfect. It’s a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius with a light breeze. And the cherry trees are blooming.

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I want to read here.

How about you? Where do you like to read?

I’m Unimpressed, Indiana

With all the news about the Indianapolis state government passing a law that is “not about discrimination,” it sure sounds like it enables business owners to discriminate against the LGBT community.

It’s been said that Indiana’s not the only state, that there are several others have similar laws.  That is true.  But Indiana’s case is happening right now, and it’s important to talk about this.  The other states will be looked at as a result of this discussion.

But you may ask me why I care.  I’m Canadian, I don’t live in the US.  Well, I have friends in the US, including some in Indiana and other states that have these laws.  They have friends who could be affected.  And these days, it’s become internationally known that the US is a hotbed for bigotry, especially with the way the Republican party (particularly the old tea party group) has been going out of their way to discriminate against gay people (not to mention pretend that climate change isn’t happening, but that’s another story).  The US has been having race problems a lot, too.

I’m not an overly emotional person, but I have this to say:  Grow up, you morons! Why can’t you just learn to get along and let others live how they like?  Why do you have to push your religious and political agendas down everyone’s throats, as if gay marriage is a threat to your own way of life.  It is not a threat!  Only bigots think this way.  I mean it.  If you think that gay marriage threatens your own personal way of life, you have no intelligence whatsoever.  I dare you to try to give a rational explanation that justifies discriminating against people different than you.  Go ahead, do it.  I bet you can’t.  If you want to try, the comments below await you.

For everyone else who is levelheaded, has compassion, and accepts people for how they are, I’d also like your input.

Book Review – Blood Skies

bloodskiesBlood Skies

Author: Steven Montano

Series: Blood Skies #1

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2011

Review Copy: Free eBook

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.

Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.

Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.

There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…

Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the “Blood Skies” series from author Steven Montano.

Review

Blood Skies, the first novel in the Blood Skies series by Steven Montano, is an interesting take on the vampire genre, combining it with witches and warlocks, zombies, and a post-apocalyptic world.  At first, I was thinking this was going to be a typical vampire story, but it surprised me.  I wasn’t expecting it to be a quest style dark fantasy story.

Cross is a relatively inexperienced warlock in the Viper Squad, but he’s with his friend and fellow soldier Graves.  Graves is quite laid back, and it seems he’s the only one who acts like that.  Cross, and later, his sister Snow, are powerful magic users with different types of magic.  They are both a bit uptight, though.  Cristena comes along, and as she is another witch, she has her own set of impressive magic.  I found her to be a bit of a mystery at first, but later on, her character showed through very strongly.  But I didn’t like her at all.  I liked Cross, Graves, and Snow, though.  On the other side of the war are the vampires, though we only really get to know one of them.  And we also have Red, the main antagonist.  Even through the entire book, I still wonder about her motivations.  I feel that not everything was revealed in this book.

The plot is a rather straightforward quest to stop Red, basically.  It involved a lot of magic, guns, and lots of death.  Incredible amounts of death.  And I mean you shouldn’t get too attached to the characters because there’s a good chance he or she will die.  I enjoy the quest type of story, so this was a nice trip for me.  We get to see different lands, different combatants, and different dangers, but the constants are Cross and Graves.  However I found some of the deaths were a bit unnecessary.  There’s one battle in particular that seems completely unnecessary for the story at first, but I could see why it was important for the advancement of the story.  The story does come to a conclusion, but there are still some open threads that are most likely continued on in the following books.

The setting itself is richly described.  It had a dark atmosphere, and I felt like it must be cold and dreary there.  The world is a post-apocalyptic Earth somewhere in North America (an American city is mentioned, actually), but it’s been merged with another world filled with vampires, zombies, and other horrors.  Montano does a great job at describing the world, but I wanted to know more.  What about outside the Southern Claw?  What’s the rest of the world like?  Maybe we’ll find out later.

The magic system is very interesting.  Men and women are different, and their magic is also controlled differently.  Each mage has his or her own spirit that they are in constant contact with, and it’s as if they are an extension of themselves.  You’d have to read it to understand.

Overall, I found this to be a very interesting idea.  I wasn’t expecting much, as I’m not a fan of vampire stories, but I enjoyed it.  It was a dark fantasy with elements of vampires, zombies, and steampunk.  With an overall rating of 3 1/2 out of 5 stars, it’s a solid recommendation from me.  It’s fun to read.

Who Are You?

Sometimes I like to find out about my readers.  I get a lot of comments from a lot of regular readers, but what about those of you who lurk and don’t comment?  I’m really wondering about some of my more international readers, as well.

I’ve gone through the stats before, which countries are my top readers, and I’ve even gone through which countries have had only one visitor to this blog ever.  I think it’s time to look at them again.

Here are my top 10 countries of all time.  Out of 35,434 views, here they are:

  1. United States (21,043)
  2. Canada (3,544)
  3. Japan (2,978)
  4. United Kingdom (2,061)
  5. Australia (831)
  6. India (474)
  7. South Korea (291)
  8. Norway (291)
  9. New Zealand (244)
  10. Germany (238)

Now for the bottom countries, the one with only one visitor each.

  • Botswana
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • Kenya
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bermuda
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Aruba
  • Mauritius
  • Bahrain
  • Tanzania
  • Laos
  • Bolivia
  • French Polynesia
  • Jamaica
  • Uruguay
  • St. Kitts & Nevis
  • Honduras
  • Sierra Leone
  • Liberia
  • Jersey

So, how about you?  Who are you?  Where are you from?  Are you a regular reader?  How long have you been coming here?  Let me know in the comments.  I’d love to hear from many people.

Spring Has Arrived

Spring in Japan means many things. It’s a time for beginnings. A new school year begins, a new business year starts, and new life appears. One of the biggest signs is the blooming of the cherry trees. This is how it looks today, though not in full bloom yet.

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However, there are two other trees that impact many lives. They are sugi (Japanese cedar) and hinoki (Japanese cypress). After the war, the Japanese government planted millions of cedar trees around Japan in an effort to repopulate the forests with a tree that grows quickly and can be used for house construction. It’s a very useful tree. Unfortunately, the pollen has proven to be a problem for both trees. People are very often allergic to it. Me too. March and April may be beautiful, but for many people it’s a beautiful hell.

Week One of the A to Z Challenge

I’ve been doing a bit of planning for the challenge so far, and I’ve decided that each subsequent story will have something to do with the previous part.  So, the B story will have something to do with the A story, and the C story has something to do with the B story, and so on.  I even have the first four days planned with story ideas.

I also decided to let you know the titles of the first week’s stories.  There are only four days before the first Sunday break, so only A to D have been titled.  Here they are:

  • The Artist
  • The Botanist
  • The Carpenter
  • The Doctor

So, how would these characters connect?  In fact, A has nothing to do with C, while B has nothing to do with D.  Some of these characters may never meet, but there is some connection between them.

The A story is coming on Wednesday.

A to Z Challenge Extra

A2Z-BADGEI’ve decided to do a little something extra for the A to Z Challenge.  As I said before, I’ll be writing short flash fiction each day.  The stories will be based on Ariadne, but will feature a person whose job starts with each letter of the alphabet.  The stories could be only 100 words long, or maybe even up to 500.  It really depends on what the character and scene, as well as time constraints.

The extra thing I want to do is to draw a quick sketch related to the scene.  It’ll be posted along with the story each day.  They most likely won’t feature the character, but part of the location.  It could be something they see or use.  This should be interesting.

Realism in Speculative Fiction

As a reader of speculative fiction, I get to discover what life is like in worlds that aren’t yet possible or can never be possible.  Science fiction and fantasy are two of the main genres of speculative fiction, and while they’re both looking at life that’s different than what we know, they are very different from each other.

When looking at realism in speculative fiction, you have to think about what is possible and what is impossible.  For what is possible, you’re likely looking at future technology and science that we haven’t quite figured out yet.  For what is impossible, you’d be looking at magic and wildly alien life that we can’t imagine would ever exist.

In science fiction, it’s easier to rely on realism, especially if you have a solid knowledge or background in science.  Or maybe you’re just really good at winging it.  But for people like me, realism in science fiction is quite important.  I feel like it could be real.  I want silence in a vacuum, I want accurately described motion in a spacecraft, I want well-described conditions on planets.  Books that screw around with the science and make it rather unrealistic turn me off.  I read a book that got artificial gravity generation all wrong with a spinning space station.  Unfortunately, the gravity was toward the centre of the station, rather than away from centre.  It was backwards.

In fantasy, realism is less of a concern, especially when magic is a major factor.  However, there are a lot fantasy novels that rely on realism, and in this case, it’s the realism of battle, tactics, politics, and human nature.  There are some great books out there that do this, and as a result, they tend to be quite gritty and dark.  This pulls me into the story so strongly, I feel like I am really there, can smell the air, feel the wind, and see the trees, sand, or sea.  I love that level of realism.

How do you feel about realism in speculative fiction?

Authors Answer 21 – The Ultimate Goal

We’re in it for the money, right?  Or is it to become famous?  Or do we want a bunch of fans chasing us down to our book signings?  Or nothing like that?  We all have a goal in mind for our writing.  This week’s question comes from H. Anthe Davis.

154px-Billets_de_5000Question 21: What is your ultimate goal with your writing?  Fame, fortune, changing the world?

Linda G. Hill

Again, I don’t seem to have a choice in the matter: I’m a novelist. I have a hard time writing anything between 500 and 50,000 words. Being a novelist I suppose if any of it’s going to be read, and read widely (which is what I hope) fame and fortune are the consequence. I want neither. What I would like is to be able to write, to be read, and to be financially comfortable… and have at least enough money to travel. Okay, so I guess you could say book signings all over the globe wouldn’t be a bad thing… 😀

Paul B. Spence

I was corrupt before I had power, and rich is better.

Caren Rich

To tell a good story that makes the reader cry, laugh, and think.

D. T. Nova

It would sound presumptious to speak of this on a large scale, but I do like the idea that my stories might change the world to the extent that they are read.

To me, fame would just be a means to reaching more readers.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I want to get my name out there and see what happens.  Much like the “one-day” writer mentioned in NaNoWriMo’s manifesto, I want to “have written” something.  I want to “have written” several somethings.  I don’t expect, nor do I need, to become the next J.K. Rowling, but I like the idea of it.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Mostly, I write simply because I love it, it’s cathartic, and it excites me. It’s one of my favorite things to do, even if I’m writing something that I know no one is ever going to read.

That said, if we’re going to talk about “ultimate” goals, I would love to reach a point in my life in which I can just write…with no day job. Right now I work as an industrial instrumentation technician, traveling to and from the Alberta oil sands while working hard to pay off the last of our debts: the house. When that hurdle is crossed our day-to-day costs reduce significantly, and my husband and I aren’t the kind of people who spend a ton of money on frivolous things. Therefore, when the day comes that our house is paid off and we have a little money set aside for emergencies, I would love to take some time off to just work on my writing, build my readership, and get to the point that I can actually make a decent wage from doing what I love to do best.

So, ultimate goal? Being able to actually write as my living, without worrying that it’s going to push my family into financial ruin.

Jean Davis

Ultimate goal makes it sound so intentional. I like to put the stories in my head onto the page and share them with others. While I do like to get paid, I don’t expect to make a lot of money or create any big world changing movements. Both are welcome, but I’m caught somewhere between realistic and pessimism. If I have to claim a goal it would be to find people who enjoy my writing and keep the bad reviews to a minimum.

Amy Morris-Jones

My goals seem to change regularly. Up to recently, I’ve been writing just for myself and a few select audience members. I’ve started to send out some short stories and am starting to think seriously about publishing one of my novels. My ultimate goal is to feel comfortable calling myself a writer… but I’m yet to decide precisely what that looks like!

S. R. Carrillo

I would like to say I wanna change the world, but I’m far too frightened to do such a thing. I just wanna entertain. I wanna read the books I don’t get to read by reading other writers’ works. I wanna change my world. Keep it dirty and nummy and twisted. And, honestly, I wanna keep my sanity. Have you ever tried to keep a true writer from writing? It’s torture…

H. Anthe Davis

Frankly, the thing I want most in the world is fanfiction.  Even if it’s bad.  I want someone else to love my characters enough that they want to throw them into ridiculous, dramatic, romantic or alternate-universe situations just so they can have fun writing them.  I have fun writing them; why wouldn’t I want that for others?  And I would read the fanfiction and laugh maniacally and then go sink some ‘ships.

Jay Dee Archer

I have two answers to this.  My dream answer and my realistic answer.

I dream to sell a lot of books.  Not to become famous, not to get rich, but to have my stories read.  I want to have people enjoy what I read.  Of course, I’d like to make enough money to live on writing alone, and have extra for things like travel.

My realistic answer is very similar, to be honest.  I just want to entertain people and hopefully make some money to supplement my main job income.  I don’t plan on this replacing my job entirely.  It’s rare for any author to be able to write full time.

But I guess my real ultimate goal is to write full time.  Why?  Because I enjoy it.

How about you?

If you write, or you want to write, what is your ultimate goal?  Leave your answers in the comments below.