Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Negative Reviews

Gosh, there's been so much drama lately in the YA blogsphere concerning negative reviews. I know what I'm going to say isn't anything new; it's been discussed and talked about for months on thousands of blogs.

But, seriously, guys. Negative reviews do not equate to bullying.

In my creative writing course, we do a lot of critiquing. And sure, some of the things that my friends and peers have said about my darling work really stung. I mean, every writer sees their work as pretty much perfect, right? It hurts having someone say that there's something wrong with it.
But, these authors have to realise that there is no book that is universally loved. Every book will be hated to some degree, will be critiqued, will be torn apart by seemingly vicious bloggers. But on the flip-side, every book will be loved, will have posts gushing about how hot so-and-so is, will be praised.

I honestly don't understand this hate towards negative reviews. As with any form of art, the artist needs to develop thick skin to keep afloat in this business. If you can't do that, then, sad to say, this isn't the business for you.
I'm sure stars like Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and the plethora of pop stars (sorry, I don't really keep up to date with pop music) don't have a public hissy fit each time they get a negative review, whether from a professional reviewer or someone with a blog.

Which brings me to the question: why are these authors so hostile towards negative reviews written by bloggers, but not by professional reviewers? Is it because bloggers aren't paid, and therefore aren't qualified to offer an opinion about a book?
I'm a huge fan of Roger Ebert. He's a professional movie reviewer, and at times, he can be pretty harsh. He gave Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalo zero stars and said, plain and simple, "Mr Schneider, your movie sucks." (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050811/REVIEWS/50725001). So why is it acceptable for him to say that, without being called a bully? (Granted, Schneider did have a small hissy fit when Patrick Goldstein negatively reviewed this film...)

That some people equate criticisms to bullying is also offensive and just low. Bullying is a horrible thing. I've been bullied by people I thought were my best friends. Years later, I'm still suffering. The wounds never close--in fact, they open up at the mere mention of my bullies, bringing back years of trauma and insecurity and mental pain so intense it turned into physical pain.
And I promise you, what those so-called bullied authors are feeling from those mean little reviews is nothing compared to what I, and thousands of other people who have gone through such an experience, feel.
You know what constitutes as bullying in a review? If it goes something along the lines of this:
"So-and-so is a horrible sucky writer. Ze should kill zirself for producing such disgusting trash. I wouldn't even use it as toilet paper because it offends my butt."
See? That is closer to bullying than using snark and gifs.

It seems off-putting that we've come to such a point that we have to coddle these authors, give them an endless supply of praise even if we don't mean it. Where's the honesty in that? If all books end up being rated 5 stars, then it makes the star rating absolutely useless and defunct. What's the point in that?

The road we're heading is seriously depressing. I hope it'll go away on the 22nd of December of this year, being just a case of temporary insanity brought upon the trauma and pressure of the impending supposed doom of our world.
A girl can dream, right?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Writing Superstitions

Happy Friday the 13th!
So, today is obviously a day that makes some people very superstitious. I'm not one of those people, but I do have general superstitions when it comes to writing. I can't tell you how hard I had to think to come up with these superstitions and habits--it's all rather subconscious, isn't it? I mean, I have OCD, and even I don't know exactly what kind of quirks I have, except the ones people have pointed out to me.

So, onto my superstitions and habits concerning writing:

The mystical writing hat

  • I like to wear my writer's hat (shown on the right)
  • I like to have a warm, sugary drink on hand
  • Writing every day has proved to make me more productive, but I can't always make that, because of time constraints or pure laziness
  • I have to have the right font for my story. Luckily, most of my stories so far have been Arial Narrow, size 11, but, it can sometimes change depending on... well, I don't know, subconscious stuff, I guess
  • Each story has its own playlist, and I can't write to the wrong kind of music. For example, my newest WIP has a playlist that consists of a lot of Skrillex, Metallica, Motley Crue, Fear Factory, and generally just a lot of different kinds of metal. The right music can work wonders, but if I listen to something that just doesn't suit the story at all, it can put me in a writing funk
  • I don't like talking about my stories too early on in the writing process. Mainly because of two reasons: 1) What if it turns into a bum idea? I'd have let down all these people who were looking forward to reading it, and it ended up going nowhere. 2) I know this is silly, but I'm afraid that someone will steal my ideas. I love originality, and I'm sure this sounds very arrogant and up-myself, but I like to think that my stories have some level of originality to them. I wouldn't want anyone stealing my precious ideas. 
  • Writing in my house is hard. This is less of a superstition, and more of an observation, but I get so distracted by my puppy, by the internet, by pretty much everything. I like to go to coffee shops or the park, and just sit and write for hours. That's why I got so much writing done during my first semester of uni: because I was writing on my breaks.
  • When I'm editing, I have to print out the entire manuscript, and I can only write on it in angry red ink. 
  • I cannot write my story out of order. Absolutely cannot. I like my things to be organised in a nice linear order. Unless the story is supposed to be all over the place, then I'll write the non-linear story in the way I envision the non-linear-ness to be. 

Okay, so maybe I'm a wee bit weird. 
Do you have any odd superstitions or habits while writing?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Book Rec : Kate Daniels series

Book the first.

Okay, so very recently, I finished reading the third book of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.
Oh. My. God.

It is wonderful.

Now, I'm not such a huge fan of urban fantasy. Most of the books I've read in that genre seem to be pretty meh for me. The only other UF that I'd read and loved was the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, and after Shadowfever, I'd been pining away for a great, new series to fill the void. I read the first books of countless series, all of them leaving me bored. Until now.

Basically, this series has everything I hope for.

Kate Daniels is a kick ass heroine. She has a freaking sword and cuts people apart, and when she meets the Beast Lord for the first time, she calls out, "Here, kitty, kitty", knowing that he could rip her apart if he so wished. How epic is that? She doesn't take shit from anyone, and that's the kind of strong heroine I like to read about, yet she still knows her flaws, and works around them to get what she wants.

Next, there's the romance. It is definitely not insta-love. The romance develops over several books (which spans at least half a year), starting with cute flirtation, finally moving on to full on steamy scenes that had me drooling and wanting more. There's that feeling of anticipation that grows, and Andrews uses that anticipation so well, far better than most romances I've read.

There's a whole range of characters, and none of them are two-dimensional. They all seem to be living, breathing, ass-kicking people, and I love each and every one of them. They grow steadily, and all have flaws that make them real. Damn, it's so hard to find real characters lately. But man, Andrews makes it work.

Finally, I have to talk about the plot. The plots for these books gets better and better. You can see Andrews becoming a better writer with each book, and that sort of growth in writing is something I admire a lot.

Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, I urge you to go and get your hands on them now.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Yeah, so the last time I posted was in May. I'm not good at this blogging thing, am I?

This time I have a good excuse.

Sort of...

See, I finished my first semester of uni, and I thought, "man, I could get so much work done during the holidays. I can blog, and write and edit and read all of the books."

Yeah.. that didn't work out so well. Turns out, too much free time = doing nothing at all for almost 2 months.
So, I can't wait until uni starts up again, so that I can start scheduling my life about. Last semester, I spent most of my breaks in a coffee shop, or in the State Library, working on my WIP. I read at least 2 hours a day on the train (it's an hour in one direction... bleh), and life was good. It was easy to do things and to not put them off for later.

I start uni again in 2 weeks, so let's see if it actually works out. I'll be collecting bets, if anyone thinks I'll fail.