Sunday Wattpad Feature

Hey all, I’ve decided that on Sundays, I’ll review a Wattpad story that I especially like. First up is:

Bloodlines

https://www.wattpad.com/story/115952641-bloodlines

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Completed: Yes

Mystery/Thriller/Crime Fiction are not my favorite genres, so it takes something pretty special to catch my attention there. So far I’ve enjoyed Bloodlines so much that it’s one of the stories that I actively monitor for updates. The author has a real skill with ending each chapter on a cliffhanger or similar pausing place that leaves the reader with questions, curiosity, and dread.

Zane, our protagonist is a young guy with a lot of problems. The story opens with him fired from his job, his mother dead in extremely questionable circumstances, his young teenage sister homeless and parentless, and the girl that he loves slipping away from him with ever increasing speed.  The modern day poverty-stricken Oklahoma setting is dark, and it continues to get darker as Zane tries to navigate his way through the maze of pit-traps that his life has always been while the traps just keep getting deeper.

Atmosphere is a big thing in any genre of suspense writing, and lynnlipinski writes the Oklahoma setting with an insider’s knowledge, but with a clear eye that neither sentimentalizes nor sensationalizes the problems of rural poverty.  H.P. Lovecraft once recommended that the sense of place or “atmosphere” can almost become a character in its own right. This is certainly true in Bloodlines.  There’s a literary feel to Bloodlines that takes the already gripping storyline and moves it up a notch.

I also have a great deal of respect for the author’s portrayal of Zane’s Native American father and Zane’s own half-blood status. As the daughter of a Native American myself, I appreciate portrayals of Native Americans as individuals and not tropes. Zane’s father is a complicated person not only because of his culture and the crushing poverty of Reservation life but also because he’s a complicated and flawed person due to his own choices and circumstances.  Zane is a flawed protagonist who makes the frustrating kinds of mistakes that a young man in his position might make no matter what the color of his skin. He’s likeable despite and because of his flaws, and all the more believable as a character because of them. Zane’s accompanied by a supporting cast of secondary characters who are also all drawn that a sympathetic but clear-eyed view that brings them to life so sharply that they feel like people you know.

You can see other Wattpad reviews of mine at Island of Lost Toys, my Wattpad review book.

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Bon Voyage, Ran!

ran shaipur3And the first installment in my serial novel, Ran Shaipur, is up on Wattpad. Read it Here, if you’d like.  I’ll be updating on Fridays and Tuesdays.

I have a lot of mixed feelings, angst, and trepidation about it all. It’s a quirky story that got both positive and anguished feedback from Beta readers. The anguished feedback was stuff like “people will think that you’re a bad person if you write this!” Alas, dear readers, I am not my characters and just because I can imagine a thing does not mean I am that thing, or that the thing is some deep desire from my subconscious. Goodness, do crime writers who write about serial killers get that kind of feedback? I hope not!

With Ran, I was going on the world-building premise that one day we humans would settle other planets. The settlers would be given supplies and support, but would mostly have to build their societies from scratch from local resources. And so while Ran is set in the far future, the local tech isn’t much above what we have right now.

Ran’s world, called Dobruja, is a forgotten backwater that’s somewhat resource-poor. While other planets may have managed to build and trade up to the highest tech and newest of everything, Dobruja’s been making do for a couple hundred years with no help from the rest of the galaxy. Don’t feel sorry for the Dobrujans, though! They (mostly) like it that way. Even so, as we open this story, Dobruja is in trouble, and more trouble is on the way. We’ll see what Ran does about it. Expect him to make a LOT of mistakes along. To paraphrase Firefly: “He’s a doofus, but he’s our doofus. Cut him some slack!”

Footnote Joust

I’ve been reading a lot of Indie/Self-published books lately. Though the quality can vary, for the most part I don’t see a lot of terrible work. Most of the time if I’m left disappointed, it’s because it was a good story that needed just a little more work to be a great story. On the rare occasion when I do run into a really bad book, I’ve been very strict with myself enforcing my “do not finish the bad thing” rule. Life is too short, especially at my age, to read bad books.file000719730180

Recently, I was reading a book that was teetering on the edge of badness. It had lots of copy errors and some very strange and clunky grammar. The story beneath the writing issues was pretty good though, and I was determined to press on. Until I found the footnotes.

Footnotes are rare in fiction, though they can be delightful. See, for example Jonathon Stroud’s “Bartimaeus”. These footnotes were. . .not delightful, unless I am allowing the crueler side of my personality to come out. The author had evidently made edits based on customer reviews, and made footnotes to discuss these changes. In many cases, she hadn’t made changes; she’d simply argued that her text should stand as written. Most peculiar, especially since some of the changes she argued most fervently against were ones concerning the most basic rules of grammar, usage, mechanics & spelling.  Not exotic stuff like oxford commas. Basic stuff that no decent copy editor should let slip by.

We’ve all heard of authors arguing with reviews (not recommended!) but has anyone else come across critique rebuttal by footnote? Strange days indeed.

Shift Work

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can beer by  Edonjeta Iberhysaj (PD)

The tall boys sit in their ice filled coffin
proud to be working man’s beer.
“You deserve a break today!” but wait. . .
that’s McD’s. That’s for women coming off
a 38 hour week at the five & dime, to another
shift or two or three at home.

The tall boys don’t know about that.
Their drinkers work hard.
Hard work that the little woman can’t understand
and then she wants him to fix the toilet.
“Christ, woman, I just sat down!” but wait. . .
there’s more; the mortgage company called again. About the lawn.

The husks of former tall boys lay in the un-mown grass
consumed, forgotten.
“Do we live in a police state now?”
Who cares about a little peeling paint, a little rust,
a load of sodium and fat clogging hearts that were
broken years ago.

A younger man drives fresh tall boys by,
company truck loaded full.
The wife just got promoted at MalWart. well, a 10 cent raise.
Soon they’ll move out of grandma’s. When he
has a lawn of his own, he swears it will be different–
He’ll mow it every day.