Review: Amish Vampires in Space

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When Jedediah realizes his planet’s sun is dying, he is forced to use forbidden technology to save his colony, but the ship that brings their salvation has a new menace for the Amish.

 

Note on ratings:

*           Horrible.
**         Below average
***       Average. Not good or bad.
****    Above average
***** Above and beyond

Content: *** (Content based off my personal level of squeamishness.)
The title and cover should give you a pretty good idea of what happens in the story. It has vampires who drink blood and kill people. There are also people fighting vampires.

Originality and world building: *****
Considering this is the only book about Amish Vampires I’ve ever read, I’d say the idea was pretty original.
The world is fully fleshed out, and the Amish colony idea does make sense. I don’t know enough about Amish to figure out how well Nietz portrayed them, but it felt pretty real.

Characters and their Arcs: ***
The characters were a little hard to relate to, but this is probably because I’m a twenty-something girl and the main character was a forty-something man and Amish at that. I liked him, but never grew particularly attached.

Writing style and Pacing: *****
The pacing is very good. Even though this was a tad outside my genre, and I wasn’t anything like the main character, I had trouble putting the book down.

What I liked:
The writing was really good. This book is proof that pretty much any idea can be written well, even if it’s Amish Vampires. There was also some neat foreshadowing.

What I didn’t like:
The poor Amish nearly got wiped out. I felt sorry for them.
I could also tell the author didn’t agree with the characters’ lifestyle. I don’t know how that could have been avoided considering the plot. It wasn’t preachy, but it was there.

Is it worth reading?
Yes.

My Rating:

Fourhalfstar

Posted in Reviews | Tagged | 8 Comments

Why it’s done

There are many things that are rare in the real world, but very common in books. Sometimes, people think the authors are pushing an agenda, which can be true, but many times, the authors are just trying to write a good story. Here are a few of the things I was able to think up.

Dead parents
No, the author doesn’t have a vendetta against parents who stick around to raise their kid. The story is just a lot more interesting if the parents or mentor isn’t there and the kid has to take charge. I did a long post about this.

 

Kids leading everything, including being elected benevolent dictator.
Done for the same reason as dead parents. The main character must be active in the plot, not laying back and letting a bunch of “boring” elders lead. This will likely put them in charge of everything from their friends to the entire country. Then again, considering the current election, maybe teenagers in charge would be better than what we’ve got.

 

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“Feminist” plot line where the girl crossdresses, beats up the guys, leads the military, or does something else that isn’t traditionally feminine.
This one is sometimes due to an author pushing his/her political opinion, but it’s also done by authors who are simply trying to write a strong character. Like I said with the last two situations, the main character is supposed to be moving the plot forward, so this often means the MC will be a leader, not a follower. If the society doesn’t like girls taking charge, this also adds another layer of conflict. Having a female main character who is submissive to guys or authority figures without having a dull plot line where the guys do everything is hard to write.

 

Romantic tension, including dating the bad boy and love triangles
Like I’ve said before, tension is what keeps a story moving. People don’t want to read about something with no conflict, so conflict in romantic relationships is often added. Bad boys (or more rarely, girls) can also keep readers turning pages because the reader wonders about the character’s past. The reader will also want to know if this bad boy/girl can be redeemed. If there’s a love triangle, the reader wants to know who is going to get the girl/guy. Note that love triangles can be dangerous since readers rarely love both the romantic interests, and if the character picks the “wrong” one, someone might be disappointed.

 

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Interspecies/culture relationships, which may combine with forbidden romance
Ever heard of Romeo and Juliet? It didn’t end well, but it happened because it made a pretty successful story. These sorts of relationships are quite common for multiple reasons. If the families are at war, it adds conflict, and this is before the mixed species/culture/race kids start showing up. Who makes a better hero than some kid who is scorned by both his/her cultures and doesn’t fit in anywhere? Worse, he/she might look different from everyone else. What’s more relatable than a social outcast?
Another reason it’s done when it doesn’t add tension is because the author wants a diverse cast and doesn’t have two characters of the same race/species that are compatible. Other authors might be trying to push a political agenda by showing people real-world interracial relationships are okay.
Then there are the authors who just think it would be cool if their hero ended up marrying an elf girl. It seems most common for the female to be an elf. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case where the female was an orc. (If anyone knows of a case where the girl was an orc, please tell me.)

 

Token minority best friend, who may be comic relief
Normally, authors feel most comfortable writing about a character who is very much like themselves. This means that the main character will often be similar to the author in some ways, race being a big one. Since the author wants diversity, they might make a secondary character, often the sidekick, a different race. Sidekicks tend to be the most likely character to become the comic relief, which is probably part of the reason for some minority comic relief characters. The good news is fans love well-done comic relief, so the author should think twice about killing one off.
In poorly written pieces, this can backfire when the only thing special or different about the character is their race or gender.

 

Cliches and stereotypical characters
Many of these probably appear because the writer saw a well-done version they liked. The problem is, when a dozen other writers decide they like something and try to copy it, some of these characters end up becoming cardboard cutouts. Mentors, minorities, antiheroes, and every character type can be cursed by this in the hands of the wrong author. These cases probably become the most obvious when they involve certain groups that the author doesn’t have much contact with, so their only knowledge comes from the media.
One way for writers to avoid cliches is to make sure that the secondary characters’ lives don’t revolve around the main character or change something about the character to break the mold. This will make the secondary characters feel more like real people, not a prop for the hero. Kelsier, who is the mentor in Mistborn, is a good example of a mentor that doesn’t fit many of the mentor stereotypes.

 

Villainous military
This may be done for political reasons, but it also happens in action stories because the military is much more frightening than a group of pacifist vegans. The main characters need a villain that’s seen as a threat, and militaries are scary. They’ve got guns, they’ve got training, they’ve got numbers, and they probably have backup. This makes them a terrifying foe.

 

Is there anything you think should be added to this list?

Posted in Controversy, Musings | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Clean Soul

This story was originally done to fit the theme of a song called The End is the Beginning.

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Risi swung onto her warhound and listened to the darkness outside the glow of the camp lights. There would be guards at the edge of camp, but she’d have to risk it. Better to run and die than stay and be forced to kill innocents.

Her tail twitched with nervousness as she steered her mount through the coral pillars and toward the edge of camp. Even in the snow, the warhound walked silently with the feline grace common to his breed.

Risi gazed up at one of the coral mounds where a guard perched with his own warhound. The guard huddled against his warhound, trying to stay warm. He wasn’t looking in her direction, but the warhound spotted them and perked its ears.

Risi tensed, but the warhound didn’t yowl. It was trained to alert its master to enemies, not troops.

A blast of freezing wind hit her. Risi tried her best to wrap a cloak around herself, but her gliding skin still exposed her body heat to the cold. Chix weren’t meant to live on Tupra.

Her warhound shivered as he walked through the snow. He wasn’t meant for the cold either.

The darkness closed in on her as she moved farther from the camp. She missed the visible moon of Chibbink. Sure, Tupra had moons, but the constant cloud cover hid them from view, giving the planet nights so black no Chix could see.

She couldn’t risk a light, not yet, so she trusted her warhound to choose the path. He had decent night vision.

Something heavy moved in front of her. She tugged on her warhound’s mane, stopping him.

A light shined in her eyes. “Risi, what are you doing?” The voice belonged to Harku, her brother, who had ridden his own warhound between her and her way of escape.

Risi sat tall. “I won’t kill for these leaders.”

Harku lowered his light and lifted his right hand, exposing the two piercings in his gliding skin that stretched from his wrist to his ankle. “Obey the Powers ordained by God,” he said.

Risi forced her warhound forward. “Following God means resisting those who do evil, not killing for them.”

“You’ve seen the rank I gained by following the Powers.” Harku drew his pistol and aimed it at her. “Come back to camp, and I won’t say a word of this. Try to leave and I’ll kill you.”

Risi blinked back tears. “Then I’ll meet God with a clean soul.” She dug her knees into her warhound, who pushed past Harku’s warhound.

She waited for the bullet. It never came.

Risi glanced back. Harku sat frozen, tears glistening in his own eyes. Maybe he’d been able to kill Elba children, but he couldn’t gun down his own sister. Rishi pushed her warhound into a lope. She needed to be far away if Harku changed his mind. Then again, what did it matter? Her chances of survival on this planet were very slim.

God, my life is in your hands, she prayed as she rode.

After an hour of riding, gunshots met Risi’s ears. She turned on her mount to look back, toward the shots. The shooting continued, followed by the roars of Elbas and warhounds.

Risi charged back, toward the battle.

Dawn’s gray light came as she trotted toward camp. Her warhound was too tired to lope the whole way. By the time she reached the camp, all that was left were the dead and dying. She rode through them, searching for Harku.

Finally, she spotted the carcass of his red warhound. Her own warhound ran to it.

Risi sprang off and began searching. Harku lay next to the warhound, his body torn by Elba claws. Blood stained the snow around him.

She knelt at his side and grabbed his hand. “I’m here.”

“We lost.” He coughed. “You were right. Should’ve listened.”

“Christ will forgive you,” she said.

“I know.” His grip grew weaker. “Can you?”

Tears streamed down Risi’s face. “I already did.”

Posted in Art, My Stories, Spaceverse, Spaceverse, Writings | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Elect a Character

It’s time for the election, so, who will you choose if you could elect a fictional character?

Here are a few of my picks.

292102_1Princess Leia (Star Wars)
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he’s courageous and not afraid to take action. Standing up to Congress will be a walk in the park compared to challenging Darth Vader and Tarkin.
Han Solo would be an asset, but he could cause an international incident if he shot first.
Negatives: 
With a family that includes Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, and Darth Vader, the gossip magazines would have a job for at least two terms. Leia’s birth certificate is most likely a forgery.

Elend Venture (Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.)
Though he’s young, he’s honest and brave. He also became the ruler of a crumbling society  when the world was about to end. This gives him plenty of experience with inheriting messed up countries. He knows when to listen to advisors and values life, so he’ll try to find a peaceful solution before going to war.
We’d also get Vin as First Lady. She’s an adept assassin and could end wars before they started. Eland wouldn’t need a secret service with Vin around.
Negatives: He’ll sometimes force people to do things for their own good, which means Libertarians will likely have a problem with him. He’s from a society without technology, but being young, he’d probably adapt fast. Vin might rig the election to get him in office.

Emperor Kai
(Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)
Kai will do anything for his people, even marry a murderous queen. He knows when to take advice from his elders and comes from a high-tech society.
Cinder would make a good first lady. She’s even from a persecuted minority group.
Negatives: He is very young and somewhat inexperienced.

4427345-2612939781-b_l9xCaptain America (Marvel Universe)
If you want old fashioned values and someone who stands up for what they believe, it doesn’t get much more old-fashioned than Cap. He’s also willing to go against the establishment, a welcome change.
Negatives: His example may cause people to misuse steroids.

 

Notable mentions:

MacGiver
He can get out of anything wth a paperclip, so he’d probably be able to get the US out of economic trouble. His hair style would be great fodder for cartoonists.

Aragorn (Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien)
He’s a pretty cool guy with lots of combat experience, and he’s one of the few people listed here who is actually old enough to run for president. Being older, he could have trouble adapting to modern technology.

martinMartin the Warrior (Mossflower by Brian Jacques)
He’s basically the saint of Redwall. He’s courageous  and good-hearted. Granted, people might not like taking orders from a mouse, even one who talks.

Deuce (Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre)
As a teenager, this girl managed to get her own group together, form an alliance with an enemy species, and stop humanity from being wiped out. Diplomacy like that would be a big advantage.

Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
She might not be the most mentally stable option, but she’s an expert at removing corrupt politicians from office.

 

Still better than what we’ve got:

Peter Wiggin (Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card)
He may have been a bit of a psychopath, but in his teens, he stopped a war by blogging. He later mellowed out and became a world leader. Considering humanity still existed thousands of years after his rule, that qualifies him.

jarjarJar Jar Binks (Star Wars)
Sure, he’s not the brightest character and he did support a Dark Lord of the Sith, but his speeches would be interesting and he’s not evil unless those rumors about him being a Sith Lord are true.

Erak (Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan)
He may have a tendency to raid villages and such but he did have some sort of moral compass, which is better than I can say for most politicians.

Tony Stark (Marvel Universe)
He’s a womanizing billionaire narcissist who apparently likes the idea of big government, which isn’t that different from normal politicians. Tony does have some heroic tendencies. At the very least, he’d be able to find a source of clean energy.

 

What character would you pick for president?

Posted in Controversy, Geekiness, Musings | 12 Comments

My Favorite Visual Storytellers

I’m a big fan of stories in any form, so today, I’m featuring some of my favorite visual storytellers.
A quick note to keep in mind about many webcomics is that the art improves drastically as the comics progress. This is fun to watch and it separates many webcomics from traditional graphic novels.


Sarah Ellerton
 was one of my first introductions to the world of webcomics. She’s the writer of Inverloch, which is a 700 something page epic involving elves, furry people (I have a weakness for fluffiness) and magic. It’s got a special place in my mind because it was my first webcomic. She also illustrated Dreamless, which I reviewed a while back. The art in Dreamless is a lot better since Inverloch was her first webcomic.

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Chill13 is a friend of mine on DeviantART. She’s more of a mixed artist than a webcomic artist. She does a ton of illustrations of her characters and then writes stuff about them. Her main story is Hi Ho Hyperdrive, which is about the (mis)adventures of an amnesiac  “cowboy” and his alien crew. She’s very good at depicting emotions in her art and each picture has a story behind it. (Most of the time, there’s a bit of a story posted with the picture.)

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Alex VanArsdale is the writer and illustrator of the Super Strike 10 webcomic, which follows a crew of humans and aliens who run into trouble during a galactic war. Oh, and it’s got space Gryphons.

 

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Note: This is the cover for the third book in the series, but I liked the third books cover the best.

 

Scurry is the most recent one I’ve found. It’s a webcomic about mice trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world full of feral cats and other terrifying predators. The art is really cool.

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For the simply funny one-shot comics, try Little More Than Waitstaff, which is about the adventures of various characters in a restaurant. This one isn’t fantasy, but it’s funny.

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A few others I follow are Strays, The Lost NightmareFlowerlark’s webcomics, and The Blackblood Alliance, which is just starting its reboot. I did follow Red’s Planet, but that’s now been turned into a book.

Posted in Art, Geekiness | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

I’m joining the debate that’s probably been going on since long before my birth. If the Star Wars and Star Trek universes went to war, who would win?

Keep in mind, if both universes were being ruled by decent people, they might not fight if they met, but you can bet they’d still try to figure out what would happen if a war broke out, so we’ll just speculate that.

Before I start, I’ll admit, I’ve been a Star Wars fan much longer than I’ve been a Trek fan, and I’m more well-versed in SW. Most of what I know of Trek comes from Deep Space Nine.

I’m putting the timeline for Wars after Episode VI (or before III) and Trek sometime around the DS9 TV series since that’s the series I know the best. (I’m thinking of the Federation going up against the Republic, not Borg vs Empire.)

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Star Trek advantages:

Teleportation: This is a big one. It could allow an army or bombs to be beamed onto a planet or space station. For this conflict, we will assume that shields work the same way in both universes, so SW can stop some of the beaming to ships and planets.

Replicators: They seem to only be a small part of the Trek verse, but in a war, they could be a deciding factor. In Rebels and The Clone Wars, trying to deliver supplies to blockaded planets was often the plot of entire episodes, so having a way to make supplies easy would be a great help during a blockade.

Medical tech: From what I’ve seen, Trek medical tech is more advanced than SW tech, with the possible exception of cybernetics.

Computers: Computers seem more advanced in the Trek verse, but this is a twofold issue since more dependence on computers mean hackers could cause more trouble.

 

Star Wars advantages:

Hyperspace: Hyperspace is able to get people across a galaxy in a much shorter amount of time than warp speed. SW could conquer a planet before Trek would even reach it. Even if one assumes the SW galaxy is smaller than the Milky Way, the ships still seem faster.

No Prime Directive: While the Trek military only have civilized worlds that made it to space on their own, SW can take advantage of every intelligent species, giving them a much larger pool of soldiers, as well as the resources of these planets. (Ewoks anyone?)

The tech tends to do its job: The breakdowns in Trek could easily be the tipping point of a battle. (In SW, the Falcon breaks down quite a bit, but remember, it’s an older ship. In Trek, military ships seem to break down from a few shots.) When it comes to SW ships, internal systems rarely seem to explode due to hits to the shielding.

Robotics: Star Wars has proven armies of robots can be a somewhat effective fighting force. If a war goes on for years, they could come into play.

Jedi and other elite fighters: Both sides have a fair number of warrior races, but SW has a number of exceptional fighters from species that are not known for their fighting abilities.

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Armed civilians: In SW, civilians are often armed. When militaries try to invade, they normally find the civilians have a nasty habit of resisting. This does seem to happen somewhat in the Trek verse, but it seems less common for civilians to go around armed, especially on Federation-controlled planets. Maybe the military can be beaten, but the locals will quickly arm themselves and defend their farms.

 

Variables:

In SW, the government is more centralized. This could make cutting off the head of the snake easier for the Trekkies, but the central government also leads to more cooperation between planets. In SW, people work together better, so there’s less chance of a war with five different sides. This lends more strength to the military since people only have to worry about one enemy, not the neighboring planet trying to take over while they’re fighting another enemy.

On the other side of this, Trek may have an advantage. If the Federation falls, many of the other groups will keep fighting. Then again, SW civilians don’t give up easily, even if there is no central command to lead them. Individual SW planets are more likely to keep fighting, rather than joining with the enemy.

Most Trek planets are somewhat civilized. This could give them an advantage since criminal organizations seem to be a bit less powerful, but the civilized nature of the people could lead to less self-sufficiency if there are disruptions of the power grid or other infrastructure. Most people in SW are more independent so there’s less chance of a wreck from broken infrastructure. Most SW planets seem to have quite a bit of farmland.

Trek had Borg, Dominion, and other enemies. The problem is, these guys are so evil they’d never work with the Federation during a war. If they showed up to the party, it would likely mean the war would shift from SW vs Trek to all the good guys from both ‘verses fighting the bad guys.

 

So, what would happen?

The beaming tech may help the Trekkies, but it seems pretty easy to thwart. The Trekkies are going to need replicators since their ships are so much slower. SW are going to conquer more planets early on.

In short term, SW wins due to hyperspace. They’d manage to take most of the planets before the Trekkies could muster a strong defense.
If the Trekkies did get into the SW ‘verse, they’d likely manage to take a few outer rim planets and get bogged down dealing with very independent minded rebels.

What about after the war went on for a few months?

The SWs need more planets since they don’t have replicators. This means they need supply lines. Luckily, hyperspace allows them the ability to keep the spaceways open. The Trekkies just can’t gain ground fast enough at their speed.

The medical tech will allow the Trekkies to keep more of their military in the field, but the Federation’s weaponry and training seems to be geared toward space battles, not ground-based conflicts. This gives them a significant disadvantage when they have to occupy a planet they’ve conquered. They’d most likely have to contract the occupation out to one of the militaries that knows what they’re doing. Problem is, the SWs are pretty good at fighting occupation, even experienced occupiers. SWs don’t care about the Prime Directive, so they’ll aid primitive groups with gifts of advanced weaponry.

The Trekkies might take out a few SW leaders, but that doesn’t stop the resistances that spring up. SW gets into Trek space and disrupts the infrastructure, but the replication tech stops them from getting a solid foothold. The Trekkies can’t do much since the SWs can field reinforcements too quickly due to hyperspace.

Even if both sides steal each other’s tech, SW, having the better military, would keep their part of the galaxy free of Trekkies, but they’re still unable to conquer many of the Trek planets due to local warrior cultures who know how to resist.

In the end, SW gets some Trek planets and messes things up badly, but they can’t take the entire galaxy. The Trekkies can’t even get many of the Outer Rim planets under their control.

Posted in Controversy, Geekiness | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Power of Words Tag

I was tagged for the Power of Words tag by Alexa. Thanks a bunch!

Ze Rules
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. Answer the original six text-themed questions
3. Add a typography/word-related question of your own for those tagged to answer.
4. Tag six or more bloggers and let them know.
5. Include these rules in your post.

What is your favorite letter of the alphabet?
Maybe S? It makes cool names like Storm, Shard, Spirit, and Shata.

Three Words You Love?
Chaos, Space, Aliens

Three Words You Hate?
They’re swear words so I’m not using them on my blog.

If you were to create a word, what would it be and what would it describe?

popcorn-707364_640Hard one. Maybe one for a book/movie/TV series/song that gives you those deep feelings? I already have a term for movies/books/TV shows that are fun but have no depth. I call them popcorn movies because they’re fun to watch, but there’s not much takeaway value.

Three Favorite Punctuation Marks?
Commas. I even put them in places they aren’t supposed to be. Quotation marks and periods are good too.

Three Favorite Fonts?
Times New Roman, something that starts with a g, and whatever font this blog is in.

If you could change the way one word sounded, which would it be and how would it sound?
Docile. It should sound like Doe-Sigh-ell

Bonus Question: Do you know of a word that looks better than it sounds?
I’ve probably been mispronouncing it anyway.

Heather’s Question: What are three words you mispronounced when you first said them aloud because you’d only ever read them before?
Aisle. I pronounced it as-el, like it looks. Turns out it’s isle.
Docile. I pronounced it as above.
There are a bunch more I can’t remember right now.

And Liz’s Question for her lovely humans: What are three words you used incorrectly in your youth (youth being anywhere from a week to eighty years ago, give or take)?
I’m not human so I don’t have to answer this, right?
Honestly, I’m not sure.

Posted in Blogging Related, Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

Book Review: Shatterworld Trilogy

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When a colony of pacifists fleeing Earth’s wars find their new home, they realize it’s a desolate wasteland. Though life is hard, they believe this is where they belong, until they find out they are not alone on Shatterworld.

Note on ratings:

*           Horrible.
**         Below average
***       Average. Not good or bad.
****    Above average
***** Above and beyond

Content: **** (Content based off my personal level of squeamishness.)
The trilogy gets more mature with each book. The first one is very clean, the second one has a fair amount of violence near the end, and the third adds some hints of sexual things. These are not portrayed in a positive light and are things most people old enough to surf the web would already know about.

Originality and world building: *****
The worldbuilding is very good, and the idea of a pacifist colony coming to a new planet to escape persecution is a pretty interesting idea. The hexcrabs and chutree were both interesting species and felt quite alien.
One minor quibble is that after my trip to New Zealand and seeing what kinds of damage an invasive species can do, I thought the colonists were a bit too quick to start releasing animals and other Earth organisms on Shatterworld. I would have liked to have seen a bit more science where they figured out if they were releasing a potentially invasive species that could harm the local alien creatures.

Characters and their Arcs: ***
The characters were all unique, but I had some trouble relating to most of them. It may have been that Rejoice was young in the first book, and she’s also a very different personality. I think Ur-Veena was my favorite character.

Writing style and Pacing: ***
The writing matures as the trilogy progresses. I felt like the pacing was a bit slow, and often, the personal problems had trouble tying in well with the main problem. (The first book’s main problem did relate to Rejoice’s issue, but it felt almost tacked on since the main problem didn’t show up until near the end of the book.) The third book did much better at keeping the family issues tied into the bigger problem.

What I liked:
The worldbuilding and originality. I really enjoyed the hexcrabs.

What I didn’t like:
In the first book, some of the interaction with characters felt a bit off.

Is it worth reading?
Yes. It’s a refreshing change from the mainstream plots.

My Rating:

fourstar

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Real or Not Real

library-425730_640There have always been people who refuse to read/watch anything speculative because it isn’t “realistic” but some forget that almost all media has some fiction involved. Reality TV is often scripted, and even if it isn’t, it’s cut down so it fits the time slot. The news is always biased one way or another. History is written by the victors. People want a story, not realism, even people who think they want something “realistic.”

Fiction, no matter the genre, is unrealistic. Realistic stories are hardly ever that interesting. That’s why most movies are not completely loyal to the original source material, and in many cases, there’s a good chance the source material isn’t 100% accurate to begin with. Even memoirs are edited to make a readable story. After all, who wants to read about all the boring parts?

Does this mean consuming stories is a waste of time? Of course not. Stories, not matter how crazy, almost always have an element of truth to them. Characters are written by people, so they’ll have something human to them, even if they’re fluffy and have two sets of arms.

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed. ~ G. K. Chesterton

Fantasy and sci-fi have another added layer of fiction to teach their lessons. Even the Bible used stories that were fantasy to teach lessons, such as the tree parable in Judges 9. The nice thing about sci-fi/fantasy stories is that they can tell a story and avoid any pre-conceived notions the reader may have gotten. For example, in the thriller, Kenan, the author uses a made-up terrorist organization and a few made-up country alliances. This made the story much more enjoyable since the reader doesn’t already have a view of the terrorist organization. If the author had used a real organization, one reader may have had a family killed by the organization, but another might have family members sympathetic to the organization. By telling a story that’s not set in the real world, the reader comes in with a clean slate which increases enjoyment and allows the reader a closer connection with the characters. Another advantage of speculative fiction is that it’s less likely to give a reader false notions of the real world. Historical fiction, especially if it uses real people, could leave the reader believing something false about people who actually existed. Stories involving real-world politics can be even worse.

In the end, stories, even fantasy and sci-fi, teaches. Jesus knew this when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Stories portray scenarios that bring real world situations to light, forcing the reader to ask, “what would I do?” Many of the good stories are allegories for real world issues. Some show how different people can come together, that just because people disagree doesn’t make one evil, and more importantly, to always stand for what’s right. They teach that evil can be overcome, no matter how dark things get. These stories give hope in a world that sometimes seems hopeless.

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Realm Makers 2016

Instead of going to the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference like I had for the last three years, I went to Realm Makers, which is geared to Christian writers of speculative fiction, so these are my people.

It took quite a bit of courage to go since I’m a country girl who is/was afraid of flying alone, as well as scary cities. I thank Donny for encouraging me to go.

The conference felt much more laid back than the FCWC, which was interesting considering a much larger percentage of the authors at RM are published. There was fun every night, including an epic nerf war that started Saturday night and ended Sunday morning. The classes were good, and I especially enjoyed the fight workshop Saturday night.

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A small sampling of the books at the store. There were a bunch more. I only picked out two, but I hope to get the ebook versions of others.

They also had a costume party on Friday, which was really cool. I just wore black clothes and a silver cape. After I’d bought the cape, I realized I may have been accidentally cosplaying the supervillain Steelheart from Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy.

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Sarah, Bethany, and Julia, co-author of Thicker Than Water with Janeen who is also the author of World-Building from the Inside Out. Photo credit to Tricia Mingerink, author of The Blades of Acktar series.

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Aaron, author of A New Threat, his family, plus Ahsoka. (Sorry, Ahsoka, I don’t know your real name.)

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Kerry Nietz, author of Amish Vampires in Space and the Dark Trench Saga with Sarah Grimm, author of Scarlet Moon. Photo credit goes to Stuart Stockman.

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Me with Leila Rose Foreman, author of the Shatterworld trilogy

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Look at those feet.

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The costume finalists. Photo credit to Ralene Burke, author of Belanok.

 

Overall, the conference was a ton of fun. I talked to a few people who might be interested in my books, and if not, I also have contacts with editors and cover designers. The best part is meeting other people who write my genre. I’ve met so many great people I’m not even going to try to mention them all.

After the conference, I met some friends from the now closed Dragons in Our Midst forum, which was a lot of fun since I’ve known a few of them for about eight years, but I’d never had a chance to meet them in person. For those out there who do have online friends, don’t feel like you’re never going to see these people. I’ve probably met a dozen or more people who I first knew online.

Overall, it was a great trip. Next year, it’s going to be held in Reno, Nevada. I hope more of my friends will attend.

 

If you want more blog posts about Realm Makers, check out this link.

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