Archive for May, 2019


Hey all, as promised, I’ve got a guest post for you all from Nick Lovelock. He’s talking about his favorite parts about being an author. Enjoy!

Gemenicia

My Favourite Things About Being An Author

I’ve always been a very imaginative and creative person, which more often than not has caused problems especially in school when at which time I was supposed to be studying American Political Change after the Civil War. However my margins were full of doodles of steam tanks, Gatling guns and l sorts of Steampunk ideas that started my journey of bringing it all to life. These doodles the prologue of the illustrations that appear throughout Gemenicia, and so far I have worked through over thirty A5 notebooks that are filled with ideas and practice pictures. I love the idea that I can be working non-stop on every different aspect that makes up one of my novels, or in this case the fifteen novels I have planned for the future.

Being an Author was something that I never envisaged myself doing from an early age, as I went through a few phases that began with wanting to be a lepidopterist, then an Archaeologist, and finally a musician. However nothing has come so naturally to me than writing, it’s something that I find incredibly easy, to come up with an idea from simply thinking or looking at something new. Filling up one of my notebooks which I carry around with me at all times with notes that will come up with or doodles that will one day become the illustrations that feature throughout my future novels.

The influences I have for the most part seem to be relatively obscure to others of my generation, and I love the fact that I am able to bring new life to them through homage’s and parodies, giving them a chance to reach a wider audience. World building has always been a major passion of mine, beginning with sand castles and moving to Lego Kingdoms. I loved to mix medieval with futuristic and build extremely complex models that would remain as they were for about a week, then another influence would come along and I would start trying to imitate that. However building with Lego has its limitations, and now that I have the chance to build an infinite world through being an Author, and that is a feat only possible through such a creative outlet, that and being an artist or film maker.

Being an Author gives me the opportunity to create characters that are given much more opportunity to grow and mature than others are with an hour and a half of screen time. It’s a challenge to give them a multi-coloured personality through the media of writing, but it’s a challenge that I find very fun to attempt. My first major change in the way I approached Steampunk fiction came when I was exposed to David Lynch’s masterpiece Twin Peaks, and it gave me the idea for which the following three novels after Gemenicia will feature. The idea of a great fantasy world having real people that have real life problems, that a small amount of fantasy that they can’t really comprehend will give all the story I need. This opportunity to put my theory into action is what I find to be the best part of being an Author.

Seeing the final product for which I have worked so hard on a feeling that doesn’t come around very often, and holding the first produced copy of Discoucia and then Gemenicia is what the magic of being an Author is all about.

NL v1.2

Nicholas Lovelock lives in a small village in Oxfordshire and has already published Discoucia, the first part of the Alavonia Series which spans multiple novels set to be released in the future. He enjoys riding around the countryside as well as illustrating his own works, as can be seen in his second novel Gemenicia. These Illustrations in stark black and white provide a glimpse into the world of Alavonia and how he sees it, as well as showcasing the different locations and characters that make up the Alavonia series universe.

He is a keen musician capable of playing the electric guitar as well as the acoustic and the piano, often trying to play like his musical heroes David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and Jeff Lynne. His coin collection has transformed from a hobby to a passion and obsession as he attempts to collect one of every issued coin in Great Britain. He is over halfway in that respect collecting such treasures as a 1675 Charles the Second Crown and an extremely rare Edward the Seventh Half Crown of 1905, and has begun metal detecting in an effort to tick some boxes in the Hammered Coinage section.

His love of Steampunk literature and cinema has been with him from a young age when he first saw the film ‘Wild Wild West’, sought out the original series and discovered a world of fantasy that he has painstakingly tried to pay homage to in his novels, to bring the wild west to an English setting and to create something that has never been done before.

History has always been a major passion of his as he makes many references in his literature, from characters whose personalities resemble those of eccentric historical characters or monarchs. The ability to change history through literature was one of the things that attracted him to become an author in the first place, to create similar timelines and put a unique spin on the mundane.

Nicholas Lovelock

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This feels like way more of an accomplishment than it really should. But, for this week at least, I’m back to book reviewing! This one’s courtesy of the nice folks at Entangled Teen. Here is T.H. Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni’s Prom-Wrecked. Enjoy!

Prom Wrecked cover

Prom wasn’t supposed to end in a jail cell. Riley Hart is the co-chair, the vice president, the planner for more clubs and student organizations than anyone cares to count. But when senior prom is cancelled due to lack of interest and funding, she has to step up for the first time in her high school career. With the help of her gaming buddy, the utterly off limits Owen Locklear, she’s going to make prom memorable for everyone involved. Missing deposits, elderly musicians, uncertain community donors, missing deposits, or even venue destroying acts of nature or not there will be prom.

T.H, Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni did a number of nifty things with Prom-Wrecked. The split point of view between advertised protagonist Riley and her former best friend Catherine showing the reader different aspects of prom planning and the various characters is used fantastically. Add on to that, both points of view feel like very different coming of age stories that complement each other well. It was a really fun read.

One thing that I think worked to the book’s favor was the bit at the beginning where the reader is shown how prom ended. All the major characters are in jail, a number of them are roughed up, and the reader knows nothing about how a high school prom went so wrong that it ended up like this. Roll back to the day that prom’s cancelation is announced and read every bit of everything going wrong and the kids in the jail cell trying to make it work anyway. It simultaneously takes away the worry about Riley and company failing while also promising ridiculous events on the way there.

The two separate coming of age stories thing that I mentioned earlier is also worth noting. Both Riley and Catherine are sort of stuck in their respective social niches. Riley is in everything but avoids leading anything until the prom committee, while Catherine is one of the popular girls but stuck with friends she isn’t really friends with and trapped by her mother’s expectations. One has to learn to lead and deal with other people’s expectations, the other has to learn to embrace what she enjoys despite expectations. It works. More so, it works while still feeling like a single cohesive  story rather than two partial stories stitched together.

Extra special bonus points to the Catherine chapters. As the former best friend who dumped the protagonist to hang out with the popular girls, she could have easily been a one note mean girl character. Having her be the deuteragonist neatly avoids that, gives the story a character who’s invested in prom happening and has the connections to attempt things that Riley couldn’t, and makes the love story bits more interesting and satisfying. She might actually be my favorite character.

The romance aspect that generally is something that elicits an eye roll and a fair amount of disinterest in both YA and contemporary novels is present here. And it did initially get an eye roll. But then something happened. Riley kept a lid on her crush on Owen and was as good a friend as she could be, supporting his relationship with Catherine and joking around with him, listening to his ideas for Morp and spinning them into something workable. It’s a lot of fun and leaves him the one pining for what can’t be. More even than that, on Catherine’s side of things we have her realizing that her relationship with Owen isn’t what either of them really wants. The lack of an antagonist within the romance narrative works for me really well, as does the way Riley and Owen and Owen and Catherine feel like friends who care about each other instead of points on a triangle.

If I have one quibble, it’s with a bit towards the end where better communication could have avoided a lot of stress for a number of characters. But that feels both in character and like it paid off pretty well, so it’s kind of a nothing issue. If I have a second one, it’s that some of the music references felt kind of forced. That might have just been because I’d only heard of a third or so of the artists referenced though.

So, Hernandez and DiGiovanni’s Prom-Wrecked is very much not my usual cup of tea, being a YA contemporary romantic tragicomedy about the rise and fall of a canceled senior prom. It’s not the kind of book I would usually pick up or, really, give much thought. But it was absolutely the book I needed to break myself out of my reading slump. Prom-Wrecked was just fun and I’m ready to look for other things either author has written. Five out of five.

Nothing really to say this week. I’m still picking away at both getting a book review written and getting financial aid in order so I can go back to school. There’s dice on the way thanks to a lucky break and the Dice Envy affiliate program.

Things are going pretty much as usual.

I’ve been feeling kind of mopey lately, I admit. It’s a little like, there’s a million things I need to get done or want to get done or just could do. But it gets a little overwhelming. So I sit and watch videos or I nap or I start another crafting project and I wind up ignoring all the other things.

It’s something I need to work on. Actual work on, not just say that I’m going to and then let it slide.

But, all that aside, there’s a guest post coming this Friday.

I’m going to get a review done again eventually.

Everything else is just details.

So, standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I’ve branched out a bit and want to see what people think once I’ve got everything balanced out. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

I might be having trouble getting a book review done but dice? Dice are easy to talk about. This set is an interesting example, they aren’t on Dice Envy’s site on their own just yet. So I’ve been waiting to talk about them to see if they’d go up so I could grab the name for use here. Maybe in the next couple of weeks. In any case, enjoy!

Confection Dice 1

So, a lot of the dice I review here come from the Dice Envy Mystery Acrylic Dice bags, largely because of the affordability. I also just like the element of surprise that comes with them. Usually the sets that come in the mystery bags are already on their site. Not so with the Confection dice, that’s just the name I’ve been using for them because it feels like a good fit.

The layered effect is nifty, this is actually the first set I’ve gotten like that. It does pose an interesting issue, that the fully pink sides can be a little hard to read in bright light. Kind of the opposite of my usual problem with reading dice. The purple and layered sides don’t have this issue though.

Confection Dice 2

As usual with Dice Envy acrylic dice, this set rolls fine. No signs of them getting caught on numbers or anything like that. The paint job on the numbers is well done, with few to no thin spots.

This is a set of dice that, as soon as I saw them, I associated with both a character type and a specific character. From the pastel colors to the velvety shine these are so, so very much magical girl dice. Specifically, this set makes me think of the celestial warlock baker one of the players in my game group is running for our current campaign. So, of course that immediately makes me like them. Five out of five and can some one please make candy dice that look like this?

Check it out all, a new blog tour’s starting up and you’re truly is hosting one of the stops. Links to all the stops below, check it out!

Gemenicia Schedule

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Hey all, check it out, guest post! So, tropes are an interesting thing, sort of common details that pop up in a lot of stories with regularity. They aren’t bad on their own but, just like anything else, using them badly can ruin a work of fiction. Courtesy of Reedsy’s Desiree Villena, here’s five she’d happily be rid of.

5 Terrible Tropes That Need to Die in 2019

Since the dawn of storytelling, we have read… and read… and read the same tropes: popular characters, plot devices, and even whole storylines that are used repeatedly in literature. Whether it’s the accidental meet-cute or the “chosen one,” we all have those tropes that make us good-humoredly roll our eyes a bit whenever we see them.

But sometimes tropes aren’t just silly and fun, but distractingly unrealistic. Worse yet, they can be unrealistic and problematic — especially in genres like science fiction and fantasy, which are traditionally dominated by white men. Luckily, this trend seems to be changing… but that doesn’t mean these often-harmful tropes aren’t still pervasive.

Which is why I’m here to shed light on five terrible tropes that need to die in 2019. You’ve likely seen all of these at some point, but I’ll provide examples from both books and media so you can identify them in other works. I’ll also link to the original TV Tropes pages, so you can read up on them further if you like — and to give credit where credit is due for their amazing trope titles. Now, are you ready to learn the (t)ropes?

1. Instant Expert

Ever read or seen a battle scene where someone drops a gun, and the protagonist — despite never having used a gun before — picks it up and uses it perfectly to defend themselves? That’s the essence of Instant Expert: someone who has no prior experience with a particular tool/skill is somehow able to utilize it instantly and easily, usually to dramatic effect.

To be fair, this trope is more impractical than outright harmful. But it can definitely sidetrack the reader, even if it’s flimsily “explained,” such as in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. In the second book, Stone of Tears, Richard Cypher expertly wields the eponymous sword on his first try — supposedly because it encompasses all the skills of its previous owners. Cue eyeroll.

This trope also tends to be a hallmark of, shall we say, less sophisticated literature. The notorious Twilight saga employs Instant Expert in Breaking Dawn, the installment in which Bella Swan finally becomes a vampire… and immediately masters all the skills that the other centuries-old vamps have been perfecting for, well, centuries. And while it’s not like any of us expected a great deal of consistency after four books of supernatural madness, couldn’t Stephenie Meyer have thrown in a time jump or something?

Needless to say, Instant Expert is mostly employed for convenience’s sake and I understand the inclination to use it, especially in fast-paced narratives. However, I also feel that one of the most satisfying things for a reader is seeing how the protagonist actually learns to master something unfamiliar. So a word of advice to writers: don’t disregard the context for expertise, because context makes heroic moments that much more fulfilling to the audience.

2. Black Dude Dies First

Ah, Black Dude Dies First: the signature move of countless horror, drama, and even science fiction works. As you can probably surmise, this trope is another not-so-realistic one. It also presents a real challenge in terms of diverse representation. After all, if the only person of color gets killed right at the beginning of the story, the boat has pretty much sailed on diversity for its remainder.

Black Dude Dies First tends to be more of an onscreen phenomenon, but it’s critical for authors to avoid as well — especially since it won’t look great if they ever adapt your book into a show or movie. And even the most experienced writers can sometimes fall victim to this one, such as Nora Roberts in her paranormal romance novel Morrigan’s Cross. This book follows a gang of immortal sorcerers, warriors, and other such entities, and is pretty epic in scale… but its tired depiction of a black guy being the first to kick the bucket detracts from the story, and makes the reader wary of other overused tropes and odd character/plot choices.

Another particularly egregious example of Black Dude Dies First occurs in the second Alien movie, Aliens. Though the series gets points for a heroine as badass as Ellen Ripley, the first character to die at the hands (tentacles?) of aliens in this particular movie is Private Frost, a black man — and another black man, Sergeant Apone, quickly follows. Yes, we all know that someone has to die in order to keep the stakes high…. but would’ve been nice if it weren’t these guys in particular. In any case, it’s high time for the trope itself to die, in literary, cinematic, and every other form.

3. Stuffed Into the Fridge

Also referred to as “fridging,” getting Stuffed Into the Fridge is another unfortunate fate that typically befalls female and/or minority characters. Of course, they don’t have to literally be stuffed into a fridge (the trope takes its name from an infamous scene in the Green Lantern comics), but they do have to be killed and then presented in a threatening way to another character. This character is almost always a male hero, and often the family, close friend, or significant other of the dead character, so they’re incited to take revenge on the killer.

In theory, this trope is merely gross, but given that it overwhelmingly affects female characters, it also seems pretty sexist — and even when it’s not happening to a woman, it’s almost always a minority character of some sort. Predictably, it’s used mostly by male authors, such as Scott Lynch in The Lies of Locke Lamora and Glen Duncan in The Last Werewolf. In the former, a man’s daughter is killed and delivered to him in a barrel of horse urine; in the latter, the main character’s gay companion is decapitated and his head left in the trunk of the MC’s car. (Perhaps the decapitation aspect and the equine aspect are both subtle references to The Godfather?) But cultural references aside, I think we can all agree this trope is prejudicial, gratuitous, and should be eliminated for the sake of readers and viewers everywhere.

 

  1. Beauty Is Never Tarnished

And in a similar vein to Stuffed Into the Fridge, we have Beauty Is Never Tarnished, another ridiculous (though less macabre) trope involving female characters. The premise of Beauty Is Never Tarnished is what it sounds like: no matter how much action or duress a female character experiences, she will still emerge looking aesthetically pleasing.

Like Black Dude Dies First, Beauty Is Never Tarnished is another trope that’s more common in movies than books, but can still come into play with on-page female characters. Phèdre, the protagonist of Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, is one such object of this trope. Regardless of fairly severe physical injuries, Phèdre’s scars are rarely mentioned, and her lovers (Kushiel’s Dart is an erotic fantasy novel) don’t ever seem to comment on them. Perhaps this is merely a function of the “erotic” angle — people’s lovers never really care about their imperfections, after all — but it’s definitely unrealistic for Phèdre’s scars to not even come up in conversation.

Another, perhaps better-known example: as much as I love the Star Wars movies, they almost unfailingly keep Princess Leia’s beauty weirdly untarnished. She has super-elaborate hairstyles that never seem to come undone, and her clothes and makeup are always, as the kids say, on fleek. I look worse after walking down the street on a windy day than Leia does after being dumped in a literal trash compactor. So while those cinnamon buns are undoubtedly iconic, writers and on-set stylists alike should take more reality into account when formulating their female characters’ “looks.”

 

  1. Black and White Morality

Finally, let’s talk about Black and White Morality — a trope that anyone who’s ever read classic fantasy will no doubt recognize. Again, this one is pretty much what it sounds like: the idea that morality can be broken down into two distinct camps of good and evil, directly opposing each other and usually involving a Good Guy and Bad Guy who must fight to the death (spoiler: the Good Guy almost always wins).

I’m not saying that every single novel needs to be grimdark, but works that operate under strict Black and White Morality tend not be very believable… especially when they don’t give any particular reason for the bad guys to be bad. This is particularly prevalent in children’s books, like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — a fantastic story, don’t get me wrong, but one that’s predicated on the White Witch wanting to kill Aslan and rule Narnia simply because she’s a wicked person. (She gets a bit more backstory in The Magician’s Nephew, but it still doesn’t explain her motivations in much depth.) Yes, C.S. Lewis was probably just trying to make his themes more palatable for the younger set… but we should also remember that children understand more nuances than grown-ups tend to think.

Of course, some of these tropes are more pernicious than others. At best, they distract and diminish the reader’s engagement with the story; at worst, they perpetuate stereotypes and poor praxis for storytelling. Luckily, just being aware of them should make you much less likely to use them in your own writing.

Comment below with your least favorite tropes and why you dislike them!

 

Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She tries her best to avoid using terrible tropes.

You can check Reedsy out here!

21st of Spring, Year 256

In light of the recent Goblin attack, information gathered from our new captive, and general sense given our current situation, the day was spent having an impromptu tournament.

Chonck wanted to spar with the elf and it spiraled out a bit from there.

Never let it be said that I don’t want to see the elf get hit, but I could have told them that Churt was going to win as soon as she agreed to join in. Dwarven heavy infantry is nothing to joke about, especially when they’re in full stone armor.

Not sure that we learned much of anything from this.

Chonck gave a fair effort against Churt in the first round and beat the elf to take third place. Azurei can sprout wings at will, something of a shared trait for Azamaar I think. Chonck has responded to this by insistently calling her a “ghost bird person” in much the same vein that he refers to me as a “devil person” and Eclair a “child”. Regardless, she did a good job against the elf and as well as could be expected against Churt.

I suspect that we’ll be requesting a number of the heavy infantry dwarves to help deal with the Yoyabo pits now that the party has seen what they can do. So at least that came out of this. That and some new armor requisitions.

Going to need to remember to also request a more solid lock for my room’s door. Chonck refers to people with descriptors because he doesn’t know better. The elf, uncaring and a pain as ever, uses Chonck’s descriptors and argues for using them with the people they describe to the point of making Azurei uncomfortable. Let’s be honest, to the point of frustrating me enough to finally attack her. I aimed for her knee, but apparently the previous two fights had taken more out of the elf than I expected.

I’ve been doing my best to rein this in, my temper isn’t usually this bad, but it wasn’t enough.

Churt is the expedition leader and I should have brought this up with her before acting myself. The elf clearly has no respect for anyone in the fortress and I’m concerned that that will become a problem for more than just me. As it is, that’s something less immidiate than the new lock, given that after being seen to by Eclair the elf suggested that she would likely kill me in my sleep.

That’s one thing I believe her on. Ability or not, I’m sure that the elf will make the attempt. That doesn’t mean I’m going to make it easy for her or lose sleep over it.

Late with this, but so excited for it. I feel like I need a tag for dice from Kickstarter. Probably going to go ahead and add that, since I’ve got more coming up later in the year.

Icy Everglades 1

These guys are the Metallic Dice Games Icy Everglades Unicorn dice, plus a Kickstarter exclusive logo d6. Now, these dice combine three things that I’m starting to find I really like in dice sets. They’ve got a fantastic vibrant green color that’s slightly muted by the acrylic and the sparklies. The sparkling bits are super fine and show up from just about any angle on their sides, but the color reflects differently depending on which side you’re looking at. And, the semi-translucent aspect of them with the swirls of green and the clear acrylic makes for some really fantastic play of light and color peak through makes each dice seem more suffused with color than the swirls would normally afford them.

They also feel really nice. The numbers are engraved reasonably deeply and the paint job is, largely, fantastic. The set is bright and easily readable and honestly just looks really nice.

Icy Everglades 2

Now, another bonus from the clear acrylic is that it’s easy to see that there aren’t any bubbles to throw off the balance. And the set does roll fantastically. They feel good in the hand too.

So, this is decidedly a set that I’m a fan of. I’m actually planning on getting a couple more of the Unicorn sets later on because of how much I like these. The only real question I’m left with is whether I’m going to use them for a druid or a cleric. Dual classing is always an option, right?

I’m running late on everything this week. What’s new?

I got the chance to go to a Renaissance Faire this weekend and was painfully reminded that the sun and I don’t get along. It was fun! I got to see friends that live away from the rest of my social group and a lot of really fantastic costumes.

The dice review of the week’s going to go up later today. It’s mostly done, I just didn’t get it finished yesterday.

Book review eventually. I swear, I’ve got more than one that’s in the process of being finished. I’ve just hit that point where nothing about them seems good enough and I can’t exactly convince myself that good enough is good enough.

It’s bad.

But, that’s the state of things for me right now.

Still working on getting financial aid to go back to school. I’ve been accepted, I just need a way to pay for everything. That’s another thing to work on today.

And that’s about it. My car’s back in working order. Most of my stuff just needs finishing. And financial aid is a list of things away from being, hopefully, worked out.

So, standard stuff. If you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. It’s a $3 weekly reminder that I still can’t spell caffeine correctly on the first try.

I’m down to the wire on getting this posted on Saturday. Sorry about that, I scheduled badly.

But! Here’s the important part! I’ve got two winners for the dice giveaway.

Goldiefc8, you’ve won the Confetti Dice.

drakedourden, you’ve won the Tombstone Bone dice.

Congratulations to both of you!

Shoot me a message in the next few days with a way to get in touch with you and I’ll get your new dice on the way!