Book Review – The Dead Game by Susanne Leist

the dead game

** spoiler alert ** *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review… Here it is:*

There is potential for a great mystery within this novel. It’s just the execution that fails it. 

And I really wanted to enjoy this novel, it had everything I like in a book – mysteries, romance and vampires. But none of it worked in the way it was written. The trouble is mostly that it felt as though the author had a plethora of great ideas and she didn’t know which one to use so she simply mashed them all together into one. 

The synopsis reads: Linda moves to a small town to live a quieter and simpler life. She opens a bookstore and makes new friends. Life is simple–that is until the dead body washes up on shore. Linda is horrified to find that dead bodies and disappearing tourists are common for this town. As soon as the sun sets, she and her friends are stalked by dark shadows. But this is only the beginning.

Linda and her group receive an unsigned invitation to a party at the deserted house on the hill. They are afraid of the unfriendly hill residents, who only venture out of their homes at night. They attend the party. They are pursued through revolving rooms and dangerous traps, barely escaping with their lives. Two of their own remain trapped in the house. Or so they think.

Let the games begin.

First of all, it leads you to believe that the story revolves around this party when in fact the party takes place within the first five chapters and never makes much of a difference for the rest of the book. In fact the party itself is a ridiculous scheme on the part of the author to “kickstart” the mysterious events that begin to happen around Oasis. Linda and her friends all claim that they fear for their lives at this party (with no real reason as to why they should) and yet they all attend anyways. Between you and me if I thought I was going to die at a party in a creepy, dilapidated old house I wouldn’t go. But that’s me. Anyways, they go to this “party” but there isn’t actually a party happening. They get there, no one answers the door … SO THEY GO IN – why?!?! I don’t let myself into haunted houses when no one answers a door for a party I was supposedly invited to, why would you? There’s nothing in the house but two aisles of candles leading one to the basement and one to the upstairs. So they decide to split up and follow the candles. Frankly, it just is strange how this all happens. No one in their right minds would do this. There should’ve been a party and maybe something spiked in the drinks to make them eventually go to the upstairs and basement respectively but jumping right in and them blindly doing it where they enter a “Saw”-like world is just terribly unbelievable. 

Not to mention at one point one of the characters describes how they need to keep going through the house to make it to the end of the “game”. How is it a game? Who told them it was a game? This frustrated me beyond belief because I wanted to keep yelling at them that they’re the idiots who went into a stranger’s house in the first place. Even if they had arrived at the party like I suggested and maybe even someone handed out a card to everyone explaining they were going to play a game now it would make more sense but as with most of the dialogue and conflict in this book the characters seem to be omniscient and as soon as they are aware of the conflict they seem to know the cause of the conflict too without much scrutiny or explanation. That being said as well I found there to be too much conflict (going back to the author having too many ideas). As soon as something presented itself as a dangerous situation (i.e. the house, Wolf, Natalie, etc) within paragraphs – and I literally mean paragraphs – the conflict was solved. Usually with the use of a deus ex machina which is one of my biggest writing pet peeves. If you really need something to literally appear out of no where (and Hayden, Reese, Diane et al do this often) is the conflict worthwhile to the story?

That being said I think the concept of the conflicts that Susanne had were great, the trouble was she didn’t elaborate on them at all nor give the reader any time to invest in the mystery of the conflict. Frankly, as I was reading, it felt as though there was more the possibility of 3 books in this one but she was shoving it all into a single serial. I would’ve much preferred having the story broken into the three parts – the dead house, Wolf and The Dead and then Natalie and her granddaughter as three separate novels. Having all three, and all three being so very different from one another, made it difficult to invest into any of them so it thoroughly lacked the mystery and horror I was hoping for. 

Not just does the plot need elaboration but so do the characters. They speak in a very formal, omniscient way that makes it very awkward to read. Even a 6 year old at one point speaks as though she’s from blueblood society (although she’s supposed to be from a fishing town) and it makes it weird to read. Also, it’s very unbelievable when the characters tell the story to you instead of showing. At one point David says “She’s drained of blood, it must’ve been vampires. Do vampires exist?” (or something along those lines) and I was baffled because in normal human society, even without human-eating houses, when you see someone drained of blood you don’t think vampire you usually think huge gaping wound she’s bled out from. 

The characters themselves need to be fleshed out a lot more. For one, you can’t tell how old they are because they act as if they’re 17 and I’m reading a Scooby-Doo mystery by the way they “try” and solve the problems. Also, you can’t really tell one from the other as they all pretty much have the same one-dimensional Mary-Sue personality type. It makes it hard to buy into the romance between Shana and Sam and Todd and Linda as well because you don’t feel a spark between any of them. Todd and Linda’s romance reads sort’ve like it’s trying to be Edward and Bella with the whole “I like her, I need to stay away from her” dynamic but they don’t even have the catch of being thrust together by fate it feels more like they’re just forced together by the writer. 

Finally, a lot of research and tightening up really needs to happen with some of the lines and statements made. Shana is supposed to be this “new age hippy” kind of girl but as someone who is actively involved in these communities she felt more like a little girl who found mommy’s tarot cards and tried using them but has no idea what she’s doing. This is of course a lack of research. For one, the death card doesn’t represent death at all. It means endings usually to something in your life and a new beginning. It is a card of change and does not actually symbolize someone dying like Shana suggests. The “halfman/halfwolf” card she pulls doesn’t exist in the tarot deck, it’s actually the Devil card and he is represented as a Satyr which is a halfman/halfgoat as the Devil has always been depicted in ancient art. The Devil card also doesn’t mean demons are possessing your town (or vampires as Shana blindly suggests) but ironically the card actually means you’re being trapped and controlled by external forces which would actually be a great foreshadowing use in the book but it’s completely missed by lack of research. 

Another point is that she describes Hercules as a Greek God when in fact he was a demigod who gave up his immortality to be mortal, so he was in fact just a Greek. In another spot Shana doesn’t notice two doberman pinschers coming up to her which I actually had to reread because I couldn’t understand how she didn’t see them at all and they took her by surprise unless she was 7ft tall. The dialogue of the novel is rife with redundancies wherein characters say things like “The house appeared frightening, so I was scared.” Or another time when they talk about how the gloomy, dark atmosphere make them all anxious and scared but they willingly sat in Shana’s shop with all the lights off and just candles… If I was scared of the dark I wouldn’t have the lights off. Finally, the thoughts which are italicized and introduced halfway through the novel threw off the flow of the book completely. Especially with Mike’s tangent about the Wizard of Oz and comparing all the characters to those from Baum’s classic tale. At first Mike’s thoughts are the only ones we the reader can “hear” but suddenly we can hear all the other characters too and it becomes simply confusing. It completely ruins the author’s writing style and it just felt like yet another thing she was throwing into the mix because she couldn’t decide what she wanted to keep and what she didn’t. 

All in all there were some great ideas within the story it just felt crammed and poorly edited. I really, especially, liked the idea of “good vampires” who only need blood because their kind requires extra protein. I thought this was a really clever way of explaining the concept of vampirism. I would’ve liked to have gotten more information about the vampires from the narrator instead of having the characters translate it through awkward unwarranted statements. With some work, I honestly believe there is a great series to be found within Leist’s The Dead Game.

For fans of Lost Boys, Twilight, Saw and Scooby-Doo. Grab Susanne’s book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now!

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Elusive by Whitney Pagano – A Review

Elusive by Whitney Pagano Synopsis: Some things you should know about me:

I’m Lana Thurgood, and I’m 17. The world is gone to hell. I sleep in a cave with a couple dozen other people, hiding from a government corporation called Isis. Isis is intent on keeping every single human being on the planet too doped up to be aware of their surroundings. As far as I know, we are are the only ones on this earth who still remain free and most importantly non-vaxed. 

Maybe we’ve just been lucky. Or maybe our success at sticking to the Golden Rule has been what’s kept us all alive this time. Here, in my world where human life has little to no value, and the people roam the streets like half-dead, unthinking corpses, sticking to the Golden Rule is key. What’s the rule? It’s quite simple: 

REMAIN ELUSIVE. 

Stay out of sight. Remain unseen. Because that’s the only way one has a chance to stay alive.

 

My Review: The concept of this book is very intriguing. It was a little slow to start but I kept going because I wanted to know more about the world that Whitney Pagano had created. As it moved forward and Lana was thrust into a world where she didn’t belong I was captivated with the developing relationship between Lana and Jay, is he a good guy or a bad guy? I couldn’t wait to find out more. Technically there’s a few errors that need tightening up. At one point the name of a character is missing a letter for a few paragraphs before going back to being spelt right and there’s a few errors in that something happens that is forgotten about later and described as happening differently but all and all for an self-published novel this one is ace and I can’t wait to read part two!

Buy Elusive on Amazon!

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Book Spotlight – The Dead Game by Susanne Leist

the dead game This week I’m featuring another indie author from a review club I’m apart of. Considering my entrance into the independent publishing world I’ve come to see just how tough it is for self-published authors to get out there. It’s important for us to band together, read each other’s books and help each other with every little step. Without that none of us would succeed and I truly believe this. So in light of that spirit I bring you this week’s featured book with a review to follow later on!

Welcome to Oasis, Florida. During the day, it’s a beautiful resort town with white-sanded beaches, but at night, its streets are filled with dark shadows. An invitation is sent to the young residents of town for a party at the deserted End House, which sits perched at the edge of a steep cliff. Linda and her friends are frightened to attend the party. But they do attend. They are faced with frightening illusions and traps. They manage to make it out alive but two of their own remain trapped inside. Afterward, they find themselves embroiled in a deadly game with someone controlling their town. They don’t even know if he’s human or a vampire. How can they fight someone who is powerful enough to create illusions as part of his evil game? The Dead Game has begun.

Grab Susanne’s book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now!

 

suanne leistSusanne Leist is the author of The Dead Game, a supernatural thriller with mystery and romance. She graduated with an MBA in finance. Her life has led her through the hectic commodities market and the number-crunching field of budgeting, but she always continued to read and daydream…which led to the fulfillment of her dream to put one of her stories on paper for everyone to enjoy. She lives on Long Island with her husband, two daughters, and Maltese dog.

In Susanne’s Words: I have been reading murder mysteries and thrillers since I was a teenager. I’ve read all types of mysteries, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes. In recent years, I’ve begun to read paranormal mysteries. These books bring fantasy and the surreal to the simple murder mystery. It’s hard to find books that combine paranormal with mystery. That’s why I’ve decided to write a paranormal, murder mystery of my own. It’s the type of book that I search for and love to read. My book, The Dead Game, has dead bodies and suspects like a traditional murder mystery. However, it also has humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. And don’t forget the haunted house–we must have one of these.

Connect with Susanne on her blog

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Types of Storytelling in Books and Films

Yesterday Marc had me watch the movie The Expendables because number 3 has come out. As I was watching the movie I found my mind wandering – probably because it’s not that stimulating of a film – and I was thinking about the simplicity of the storyline and how that would contribute to the success of the franchise.

There’s really no complication within the storytelling that happens. There is a moment when Mickey Rourke’s character tells a story about watching a woman commit suicide and having the chance to save her but not taking it and it felt to me like this was the only moment of depth and it simply acted as an action trigger for Sylvester Stallone’s character. Otherwise the story is straightforward: a group of mercenaries with no outside lives, whose family consists of this team of “expendables”, who take jobs that involve killing people or otherwise doing things that most people find insane. Within this they explore the issues of morality – what is okay for them to do and what just isn’t acceptable, but otherwise it’s a bang-bang-shoot-em-up kind of film.

While watching this and considering the simplicity of it all I got thinking about this book I recently started. I’m not far into it but right from the bat it was very straight-forward and there was no confusion about where this book was going as it was just very simply laid out for the reader. I think these types of simple stories are really popular because people can pick them up and lose themselves in the world that is created while on vacation, sitting on a beach (this is where I imagine most people do their reading haha). It doesn’t require too much thought just the ability to suspend your disbelief. And even if the storyline isn’t that great if there’s something about the characters that allows you to connect with it (like Mickey’s story and it’s consequential effect on Sylvester) it will hold the reader in it’s grip.

Other stories are more complicated in their telling – stories where you have seven different characters whose stories you have to follow along with throughout the entire time. I know there are tons of movies that do this – I think of “The Safety of Objects” right off the bat – and for the most part these types of stories don’t really work because there is too much going on. That being said though, there are obvious exceptions: Game of Thrones for one. I think the trouble that most stories struggle with when dealing with this kind of style is with so much going on you can easily lose your reader in over-complication. It’s definitely not the kind of story that you read on the beach.

Then there’s those literary type works that always have a deeper meaning that affect you so deeply that you close the book and you feel like your life has changed in how you view the world around you – and when it comes to films Oscar nominees are definitely this type. These are the kinds of stories that are picked up by people who classify themselves as “heavy readers”. Sure these people will read simple books but then they also will remain connected with the literary world by indulging themselves in these litfics.

For me, I prefer writing stories that are fun to read, just as much as I enjoy reading these kinds of stories. I like stories with great characters and an enchanting storyline. I like being drawn into a world and getting to know the characters of this realm. I find these are the kinds of books that I get pulled into and can’t put down, especially when they create worlds of their own that you immerse yourself into. They’re simple stories in nature with character development that hooks the reader. Stories I think of that are similar to this are The Mortal Instruments series, The Hunger Games series… There’s nothing overly complicated about any of these stories but they do include great character development and exploration. This is really interesting to me as a writer, seeing how other authors work and develop their characters.

Obviously I’m sure there are more types of storytelling out there but I’ve broken it down into the 4 simplest terms I can think of. Which is your favourite to read? Do you agree or disagree with my roundup? Let me know in the comments!

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Writer Wednesday – Or How Many W Alliterations Can I Make!

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I know, I know. Didn’t I just decide I was going to do Weigh-In Wednesday? I will, on my instagram! So if you’re interested in following that you can check in on my instagram page for the details. Otherwise Wednesday will from now on be known as Writer Wednesday when I’ll get an author to come onto the blog for an interview. This is great exposure for my fellow indie writers and for you readers who might be looking for a new book to read.

Since this week is pretty impromptu I decided to showcase myself because I had some interview questions ready to go.

Tell us a little about your writing. When did you start writing, and why?

I’ve always been a writer, from a young age I was obsessed with writing stories. I used to spend summers with my best friend writing stories while she would draw all the pictures for me. I’ve always had an active imagination and the only way I felt I could relieve it was getting some of the stories out and sharing them.

Are you a planner or a “pantser” – do you plan out your books meticulously or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I am definitely a pantser. I mean: I usually have an idea of where I’m going – like the main conflict that is – but all the rising action up until the climax? I like to let the characters do the talking; they guide me to that point. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does. Going back during the editing process I know I can change things and add plot points that were missed the first time around. Especially when it’s something the character didn’t talk about until later but it becomes relevant earlier in the story.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case?

I did self-edit. Unfortunately I’m in a point in my life right now where I don’t have the funds to find a professional editor. A lot of the advice others give is even just finding someone you can afford (around the $200-300 mark) to do it but I can’t even afford that. I recently relocated to the UK and had to spend close to $3500 just to pay for everything to bring my dog over with us, not including our own expenses and travel fees. Then once we got here neither of us could find jobs and on top of this we’ve still got our wedding to save up for since those deadlines are looming too. So financially I really couldn’t afford it and had to rely on the help of my beta readers (which are mostly family) and 3 long, tedious edits of my own. I did read Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots and Leaves before my final edit which I think really helped improve me grammatically because I understood my relationship with the comma a lot better and didn’t feel so bad using colons and semicolons when I knew the right situations to use them. I still struggle with the ellipsis but I tell myself it’s my way of showing uncertainty in the character’s train of thought.

Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?

Probably to some extent, but truthfully I’ve never read a book without some error (or 12). If the reader is interested in the story and invested in the characters they’re more likely to ignore flaws. I know I do. But when you’re not enjoying something you’re going to nit-pick and point out the glaring errors. So I can only hope that my story is enough to save me the embarrassment of having missed a few things.

Tell us a little about the world of your latest or favorite book or series.

My current series is called Grace of Gods and it tells the story of these Greek Gods who have been reincarnated in present-day mortal bodies. Each book is told from a different person’s perspective but the stories all tie together in one arching storyline. Each book picks up about ½ way or ¾ of the way through the last story and retells it from the new perspective also giving the reader insight into what else was happening around the last character before carrying on to tell the next story.

The first book is told by Savannah who is kidnapped by the Titan Atlas and brought to Olympus thinking she’s going on a University exchange in Athens. Atlas throws her into this new world of Greek Gods and monsters without giving her much to go on so she’s forced to navigate these new relationships she has with people she has never met while also trying to figure out who her Goddess is. One of the heavier themes in the story is the idea of loss of control, each character assigned a God/dess also has to deal with the fact that their fate is no longer their own. Each God has a Goddess consort and that means so their reincarnated souls they have a soul mate in one of these new players. Savannah struggles with this because no one likes to be told how their life is going to be so she goes through a lot of learning curves and in the end learns a lot about herself.

Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?

So obviously Savannah is the main character in the first book. Writing Savannah was a cathartic experience because I imbued a lot of my own personality into her while also trying to show sides of her Goddess in her mortal life. She is my favorite character because of who her Goddess is. I strongly believe her Goddess is very misunderstood and over time has been turned into an archetype that is purely one-dimensional. I wanted to write Savannah in a way that would show that, yes, she does have these fatal flaws but they come from a very sincere place of insecurity.

Some feedback I got from a beta reader once was that Savannah was very selfish and I agree, she is. But she’s not selfish in an arrogant kind of way. She’s obsessed with herself in that she looks in the mirror and she hates who she sees, she worries about herself a lot because she hates herself and consequentially her mind tells her others hate her too. So she obsesses over these things, making her seem selfish and vain, because she is deeply, tragically insecure. Part of the lesson Savannah learns is to step away from these incorrect perceptions. She learns how people really do see her in their eyes and this empowers her to grow. In the end she turns from being a deeply self-absorbed person (with a very Freudian outlook on similarly-personified people) to being someone who is willing to sacrifice herself for others. I think this is the biggest change a selfish person can go through because however much she hated herself she would’ve never put herself ahead of someone else when it came to life or death situations.

Are your characters ever based on real people?

Not entirely. I take things about people that I admire, usually flaws, and add them to characters to make them whole. With Savannah I put my insecurity into her and I put my past with my father into her. With Valentina I based her on my cousin who comes from a big family but she also has her own dark struggles that she copes with on a day-to-day basis. Charlotte I based on every girl in school who ever bullied me – it’s the best sort of revenge don’t you think? If only I could’ve turned them into rotting hags. Aidan is very different from my fiancé but there are parts of him that I have taken to counter Aidan’s arrogance and ladies-man mentality.

Largely, I’d have to say, Savannah’s mom is the only character wholly based on someone in real life – my own mom. I actually sat down one day and went through piles and piles of cards and notes that my mom has written me and took sentences from each one to build the letter to Savannah in the beginning. It didn’t need to be included but I wanted to place a tribute to my mom in my first novel and so it is written entirely in her own voice.

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Ode to the Queen is available as an e-book on Amazon and Kobo!

 

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Turns Out, I’m a Glutton for Punishment

The Mind Unleashed posted a great article about 18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be and when I first saw it I thought well, this is going to be pretty stereotypical stuff. How wrong I was. I mean, then again – I should’ve known… It is The Mind Unleashed.

Of the 18 things on the list I’m actively doing 11 of them – hoo boy, glutton for punishment. And as a writer 8 of these are detrimental to my career:

You let others make you feel guilty for living your life. 

I remember almost a year ago I was at my Grandma’s memorial service, standing with a few of my mom’s friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. They asked me what I was up to and what my plans were now that I was finished University. I told them how I was unemployed – having just gotten out of a bad job that made me unhappy – and I was seriously considering pursuing my dream of being an author while I had the chance. And one of my mom’s friends said to me “oh, well I’ve had plenty of jobs that I hated but at the end of the day you just get on with it and do the job because I didn’t have the luxury of living with my mom who paid for everything for me.” And I felt 2 centimetres tall because basically he was telling me I was exactly what was wrong with the kids of my generation: overprivileged, entitled and lazy.

This struck me really hard because never in my life have I ever identified with kids my own age. In high school I worked 2 jobs, was on the student government, organized prom entirely by myself, was a mentor, did the morning radio show and was an active member in the drama club while also being in Girl Guides outside of school and managed to maintain a 90% average. I was an overachiever and suddenly I was at a point in my life where I had nothing left to achieve toward and I was being blamed for it. This guilt settled deep within me and since then I’ve always really felt like the adults that surround me are judging me because I refuse to take a job just for the sake of money. Maybe I am being entitled because I feel I don’t need to take a job to pay my bills, because Marc will pay them for me but I also don’t want to turn out like the adults in my life who are nearing 50 and still work jobs they find no fulfilment in. Sure, I feel obligated by my mom and my mother-in-law to get a job right now and maybe I will. But it’s not going to be a career, it’s just going to be something part time so Marc and I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck if we don’t want to.

In the end, I want to be 50 and look back on my career and be proud of myself. So if that means I have to be selfish at a time in my life when people are going to judge me harshly for doing so, so be it. I’ll live with the guilt… Even if it eats away at me.

You assign negative intent to other people’s actions.

This is especially bad for my career because on top of that guilt that eats away at me every day I have that overactive imagination that reads into things a lot more than it should. Marc still hasn’t read the second book in my series, and frankly I’m not even sure my mom has. So in my head there’s this voice that tells me it’s because they hate my writing and this is their passive aggressive way of telling me because they love me and don’t want to hurt my feelings. Great.

Then there’s the fact that months ago when I had my story up for a competition I had tons of friends going online to write reviews in my favour so I would win this competition – which I didn’t – that now when I ask people to write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads no one does. So were they lying earlier this year and just trying to be nice? I mean, how hard can it be to post a review to help my sales if you did actually read the book and enjoy it? Obviously they didn’t, says the voice in my head. 

You are too worried that people will steal what you have. 

I go into better detail about my feelings on this in this post: Nothing is Original.

You’re trying to compete with everyone else.

I think most authors struggle with this, naturally. We read a lot of books as part of our process. We have to keep reading to be inspired, to learn, to better ourselves and our prose. But the double edged sword of this is that we read other’s work and think to ourselves “I can’t write like this.” “My work isn’t this good.” And we compete and compare ourselves to other people’s success. I talk more about this in another post from last year in a NaNoWriMo Update.

Then there’s the authors whose writing isn’t that great. – Okay, I know this is a horrible thing to say but we’ve all been there at some point: we’ve read something and thought to ourselves how in the world is this person successful? But that just goes to show how fickle the publishing world is… You don’t have to be Earnest Hemingway to succeed you just need an audience to believe in you and seeing someone else find success with something mediocre makes me sit back and think to myself “I’m never going to be able to do this” because I continue to compare my (lack of) success to someone else’s.

You focus on every point in time other than now.

Mostly with my life I do this more than my career but on the flip side of this with writing I focus on the now too much. I want success now, I want people to be reading my book now, I want a publishing deal and an editing team now. And the trouble with this is I can’t look toward the future where there is still a possibility of all these things if only I focused on the things I can control in the present. And I think that’s the valuable point here. If you concentrate on the things you can’t control (the future, outcomes, etc) you lose sight of the things you can (growing my audience for future success, working on my next book for the handful of people who are looking forward to it) and like The Mind Unleashed says you focus too much energy worrying about things that you lose sight of what’s right in front of you. 

You are stuck on your mistakes.

I was selecting an excerpt of my book that is going to be published in a magazine next month and as I was reading through it I found I had – somehow – capitalized the word “day” which obviously isn’t a proper noun. I was horrified because obviously this oversight is in the copy that’s on sale. It occupied my mind day and night – “if there’s that mistake what else is there? Is the book riddled with grammatical errors? Is that why it’s not doing well? People are reading it and after two pages turn away in disgust because I’ve so poorly edited it?” On and on and on….

I mean, I still haven’t done anything about my mistake but it’s there in the back of my mind sitting on top of all those other worries because I just can’t afford a professional editor right now and I had to rely on myself. I tell myself to trust that if the story is there and people enjoy it they will look past errors – I do it when I read books. And I tell myself there is no perfect book out there, that every book is flawed in some way whether I notice it or not and so my one mistake (that I know of) does not make me special in the grand scheme of epic-fuck-ups.

But still, it’s all I think about most of the time.

You have an “all or nothing” mentality.

I have always struggled with this mentality. When I want something I want something as soon as I set my mind to something and having to go through the ups and downs to reach the inevitable is just frustrating for me. Things either will or won’t work out and I simply want the results without having to deal with all the filler that comes with it.

Part of the problem with having such a mentality is like when I decided I wanted to change schools, not only did I want to change schools but suddenly – in my head – the school I was attending was mediocre. It was unacceptable and it didn’t fit with the plans that I had so it wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t wait to go to my new school and anything between that time and now was a hindrance to that goal.

My world, sadly, works in black and whites however conscious I am of this. And being a writer this can cause you to struggle. I am an author but I want to be an author people are talking about and no one is right now. I want it all, or nothing…

You keep thinking about worst-case scenarios. 

Finally this last one has more or less been made clear to you throughout this entire post. I have a tendency to overreact in situations and imagine the worst. Even if Marc hasn’t read my second book yet doesn’t necessarily mean that he hates my writing – because he doesn’t – but in my head that’s how it goes. This also goes hand in hand with the all or nothing mentality. Either it’s all good or it’s all bad and this is really something I struggle with day and day out that contributes to my depression.

Nothing ever seems good enough and usually when something comes up as a roadblock to whatever goal I’m interested in I imagine it’s the worse possible thing that could be. Maybe it’s because my own personality would never let something small stop me from doing something for someone if they asked me so I can’t understand why others would let small things hinder them or it could be something entirely different. I could probably psychoanalyze myself for days but it’s not going to change anything. The only thing that does need to change and will only change if I commit myself to it, is stop imagining the worst possible things in the world. Nothing is as bad as it seems (except murder, that’s really bad). So stop dwelling on the negatives Ky.

Of the list how many do you relate to? Which ones are holding you back as a writer or in life in general? Let me know in the comments!

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Where Do We Go From Here?

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Since publishing my book I’ve been doing a lot of marketing research to learn the best things to do in order to succeed in a career as a self-published author. Part of this is being apart of the “indie” community and connecting with other authors who are in the same boat as you but also with readers who enjoy reading in this category. From this research I have found that the biggest tip, and I have been saying this all along, is having a blog.

Except the type of blog I’ve been running up until now isn’t the kind that’s going to draw the audience I want. I have been really holding myself back from developing myself into a “niche” because I didn’t really know what niche I wanted to be in. I love crafting, I love DIY, I love cooking and baking, but I also want to be a writer. So after a lot of thinking I’ve decided that I will be transitioning Petite Chouette into a brand blog for my authorship. I will be posting more reading/writing related things to grow my expertise in my niche.

That being said though, I’m not going to stop sharing stuff relevant to my life either because as you know a writer writes from experience and I want to share that with my readers too. It won’t be as frequently as it was before but I’m definitely going to post recipes and diys when I do complete them. Especially if Marc and I get our own place soon and I’m going to start decorating it I will for sure be sharing it with you. But otherwise there will be an influx of more writer-related content such as blog tours (eventually), author interviews, character interviews, book reviews, writing tips and techniques plus, of course, updates about my own books and special content regarding my books.

It’s a little overwhelming to be honest. Every day I add more things to the list of what I need to do besides writing and it’s extremely daunting. Plus the next book in the series I’m working on it a little darker than the last and channeling the protagonist is exhausting. Especially when I need to keep up his voice which is very cynical and thoughtful. It tends to make writing more of a haul than it should be. I’ve been considering starting something “fluffier” on the side just to balance but then it would be another thing to add to my list and do I really want that?

Mostly right now I’d really like a desk but until then the ironing board will have to work and I’m going to have to just keep slugging through book 3 until something clicks. (Hopefully it clicks soon). Otherwise I’m hoping to get book 2 released by late September and book 3 by November so fingers crossed.

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That versus Which – Which One Do You Use and When?

As a writer the English language is one of my stronger suits. The trouble for me, however, is grammar most of the time. When I was in school I was never actually taught anything grammatical, I’m not sure if that’s an Ontario school board oversight or if because I was in French immersion they only wanted our small brains to process one language’s grammar at a time. Whatever the reason I never learned it and by the time I got to high school and teachers expected me to know these things I sucked at it.

My best friend’s mom, however, was amazing and started proofreading my essays for them, helping me edit them. She taught me about how I was using oxford commas and run on sentences and by sitting with her every time I had an essay I started to pick up some skills here and there.

As I’ve started writing books I’ve also started reading some non-fiction dealing with grammar to help strengthen my abilities. I find it’s extremely helpful to write and read at the same time because I naturally adopt the grammar that I’m reading about into my writing.

But one thing I’ve always struggled with – and I only know thanks to Word’s grammar check – is that versus which.

I love using the word which over that. Especially when I’m writing about Greek Gods – in my head it makes sense to use more “formal” writing when they speak which translates (see what happened just then?) into my using of which much more often. Sometimes, like above, which is a transitional word in a sentence. It carries on the flow or your thought but more often which and that are used as clauses.

When using that as a clause it is commonly used as an essential clause – that means you use that in a sentence when you are adding vital information to the sentence i.e. I am looking for a cat that has orange paws. If I simply said, “I am looking for a cat” I might end up with a room full of cats, none of which have orange paws.

When using which as a clause it is commonly used as a nonessential clause – that means you use which in a sentence when you are adding information that is not vital i.e. I am looking for a cat, which ran away. Knowing the cat ran away isn’t vital information as the most important thing about the sentence is the action am taking.

When using which as a nonessential clause the information that follows the word which is almost always an “after thought” type sentence that is why you find which follows commas in most sentences.

When you wouldn’t follow a comma and simply place which into a sentence is usually an informal use of which as an essential clause. Some writers are known to do it – like me – to make the writing seem more formal.

I am not a grammarian so with the help of Grammar Book I was able to give you this quickie lesson today. That being said I self-edited my book on my own which means most likely it is not entirely clear of grammatical mistakes – but you should still read it!!

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Do You Know Who You Are?

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Honestly, I’ve never even watched an episode of do you know who you are? so I hope that title isn’t too misleading. This post is about Ancestry.com though, and I promise it’s not a sponsored post. Recently my newest hobby is tracking down my family heritage. I’ve always love history so it comes as no surprise how much I love working on my family tree. It’s especially fun because I have some “mystery” connections in my family so I’m always googling and searching trying to figure out answers.

A good example was my Grandfather’s father. We had no real information on him except for an approx. death date and an approx. birth date. We knew he had a new wife and family so I tortured my grandpa for information (figuratively) and he recalled a name so I searched for obituaries for her and actually managed to find the information I was looking for. My dad’s side of the family is a little tougher because I’m not in contact with anyone on that side except for my grandmother by marriage. She had my grandpa’s birth certificates and citizenship papers (she’s been holding them for me since his passing) so I’m hoping that will help answer a few questions about his family and I might be able to trace my Italian past.

Ideally one day I’d like to go to Italy and actually go where he was born and maybe track down distant relatives. I feel very passionate about my Italian heritage so this is really a “thing to do before I die.” As it is I’m starting to trace my family in England so I’m compiling a list of places I’d like to go to see grave sites, go through parish records, etc. I’m so excited!

Some fun facts I’ve learned about my family since starting to trace my heritage:

  • I had relatives in Salem during the Witch Trials (actually a lot)
  • I had a 5th great-grandmother work in an estate home a la Downton Abbey
  • I’m distantly related to Richard Nixon and Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Three sides of my family were founding families of both Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Salem/Beverly, Massachusetts
  • I have Welsh heritage! (We didn’t know this, we thought we were only Irish/English)

Being able to go through the records and see my ancestor’s handwriting is amazing. I love looking at the old documents and finding more information on them than Ancestry’s automatic info finder gives you. It’s such an exhilarating rush working on it. I’ve even started Marc’s history and his has it’s fair share of exciting facts and mysteries too.

I love it so much I’ve started to think I might offer a service to help people get information they’re looking for or even tracing their family trees for them. I would charge by the hour for research and then maybe like a set price for a pdf of the family tree including any documents found? I think this would be a great thing for someone who is interested but just doesn’t have the time to do the work themselves. Even better for someone who doesn’t like fiddling with the computer and just wants someone to hand them the information.

What do you think? Are you interested in your family heritage? Would you pay someone to do the work for you at a reasonable price? Let me know in the comments below!

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Nothing is Original

I’ve recently been trying to get myself into a sort of routine for my mornings and part of this is listening to a few TED talks each morning while making breakfast/eating it/etc. I came across this one and it immediately resonated with me. One of the biggest arguments I use against my writing is my fear of being compared to previous works – i.e. writing a vampire novel and it being compared to Twilight, writing a witch novel and it being compared to Harry Potter. The trouble is no matter what I write it is always going to be compared to something, be it the last book someone read or a book the reader finds is similar.

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with this idea but I still feel that mental block when I come up with an idea and I have to ask myself – “did I think of this because I read/watched —?” I find it’s constantly a struggle to get past this idea that I’ll get in trouble if I borrow some fraction of an idea from something when really this isn’t the case. Look at 50 Shades of Grey which found success from it’s inception as a Twilight FanFiction. Obviously the author had to change everything when it got published but there’s still similar ties to Twilight seen in it’s characters and plot.

One of the things Kirby says that resonated with me was: “Our creativity comes from without and not from within. We are not self-made we are dependant on each other. Admitting this isn’t an embrace of mediocrity [...] It’s a liberation. ” This is so absolutely true. Especially as a blogger and a blog-reader I know how true this is. I see something on a blog I follow and it inspires me to try it – this is creativity. I didn’t think of this idea myself but absorbed it from an outside source. Perhaps I don’t follow the recipe I found on Pinterest to the letter but remove or add ingredients as suits my needs and my whims. There’s nothing wrong with this and it should not be considered “copying”.

One thing I used to hate that my mother would tell me as a kid was “copying is the most sincerest form of flattery.” I was so opposed to being copied by my peers I would corner myself so no one could see my projects until theirs were finished. It’s childish but I hated the idea of someone stealing my creativity. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to realize that these “unique” ideas I thought I had possessed were merely reflections of things I had seen/heard/done in my life and no more unique than anything else in the world.

We live in an age where everything has evolved from something and nothing is truly unique but I think that’s what makes creatives unique in the first place. We know we have a saturated audience and yet we continue to push ourselves and strive to create something that might one day resonate with someone else and from our own work someone else’s creativity bursts forth.

So I challenge you – never forget that nothing is original and embrace the remix!

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