REVIEW: Jacked by Kirk Dougal

I’m not sure I can write this without any spoilers but I’ll try. Okay, how to describe Jacked…awesome, well written, fast paced, edge of your seat, unrelenting… Should I keep going?

First, the technical stuff. Jacked is the launch of Per Aspera Press, a Ragnarok Publications jacked-cover1500-blurb_1024imprint. If you have read any of my other reviews, you should know I LOVE Ragnarok’s very talented authors. If Dougal’s novel is any indication, we will all love Per Aspera Press and all the SF yumminess they will bring us. Jacked is about a teenage boy with a talent for fixing technology in a world that has lost technical capabilities. He faces a lot of fears and dangers and grows up in a hurry. This is so hard without any spoilers! I want to tell you everything! Let me say that I read it through a second time and noticed some interesting correlations to Rowling’s Potter series. I missed them the first time because I was too engrossed in the story.

Now, the goodies. Dougal delivers with Jacked. I read it in one sitting. I just couldn’t stop. It’s like a roller coaster you want to ride over and over so it doesn’t end. It’s fast paced and keeps you racing through each page.  Even when you think you know what is going to happen next, you have to devour every single word. It has gangs, fights, seriously evil bad guys, chases, escapes, even some angsty teenage romance. There are surprises and they are delightful. And the ending is very exciting. I’m trying not to give too much away. It’s a very good book. You can find it on Amazon at this link. You need to read it.

Do it.

Now.

What are you waiting for?!

 

Evolution

Don’t get your panties in a wad. I’m not talking about diverging arguments on the origin of life. I’m talking about how we change as people. Maturity comes with time and experience. Note I didn’t say age. You can be in your 40’s and still act like a 12-year-old. I said maturity, all the changes you go through (hopefully) as you experience life and learn how to interact with other people.

Think back to the person you were at age 9, 15, 18. Are you the same person now? I know I’m not. I have learned so much in those years since then there is no way I could still be the same person. Experiences in life change us, whether for better or worse. If you become a famous writer, would you want new readers to know the person you are right now? Or do you want them to judge you based on memories of the kid who sat behind you in English class? If you meet someone and they talk about how a person was in high school or college, there’s a really good chance that person is nothing like they are now at 30, 35, 40 years old.

Whether we like it or not, we judge other people. Everybody does it to some degree. We learn to judge because we learn to make comparisons. As little kids we are open to everything and absorb the world like a sponge takes up Kool-aid. Then we start to compare things. Do I like the blue one or the green one? We may not understand our choices but we make those choices just the same. As we get older, we realize we love blueberries but we hate green apples. Green apples become evil. We judge them. We look down on them. But there is nothing inherently evil about green apples.

The same thing happens with people. We may not like certain behaviors so we vilify people who exhibit those behaviors. But people change. You can’t judge a 40-year-old person you have never met based on the opinion of someone who knew that person when he/she was 16. Well, you can judge that person but how is that fair to them or yourself? You limit yourself when you don’t do your own research and form your own opinion without bias.

We all have our own behaviors that others might find strange or disagree with. Does that mean our behavior is wrong? Does it mean the other person is an asshole? Why does it even have to be an issue? In order to grow as human beings, stop judging people. If you don’t want to get butthurt every time somebody disagrees with you, stop worrying about what other people think. Learn. Research. Study people and life and behaviors and the universe and everything else. Then form an intelligent opinion without bias from somebody else. That is maturity. That is evolution.

Review: War God Rising

Tim Marquitz has done it again. His work is always interesting and War God Rising does timagainnot disappoint. War God Rising is funny. We’re talking Mel Brooks funny. Quick asides, tongue-in-cheek, make you spit your soda out your nose funny. Marquitz writes with a quick easy style that makes you want to keep reading long past bedtime. His characters are clear and stand out as individuals that blend together into a symphony of humor. I’ve seen other reviews compare War God Rising to Monty Python. I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of Monty Python. However, I’m a HUGE fan of Mel Brooks. Marquitz has the same timing and cheeky attitude you would find in any Brooks film.

You get a bonus with this book. Marquitz has a teaser for his novel ZILF tagging along. Even more hilarity for your enjoyment. He also has a new kickstarter for another novel in his Demon Squad series. The man is a machine. If you haven’t read anything by Tim yet, what the hell are you waiting for? You can find the Marquitz madness on his webpage, Amazon, Kickstarter and he has a publishing gig at Ragnarok Publications.

Talking to myself

Are you guilty of oversharing? Do you post the most intimate details of your life on social media? Are you the person in the grocery store who tells random strangers about your hernia while choosing produce?

Most of us have some type of presence on the internet. If you’re reading this then you obviously use at least a few social media platforms. So what do you choose to share with the world? Pictures of your children, your pets, what you had for dinner? Do you use it to promote your business or creative endeavors? What about just keeping in touch with relatives and friends in faraway places?

There are as many reasons for being online as there are people logging on every day. Some of us do share a bit too much for other people to feel comfortable. But have you ever stopped to wonder why we might be sharing so much? Granted there are narcissists who think we should all be privileged to know the size of the hairball their cat hacked up last night. And we’re all familiar with the person who has something to sell that bombards the world with repetitive posts about their product until we’re sick of seeing them.

There is another group of people who share a lot of themselves because it is the way they process emotional data. Many things we experience are small in the grand scheme of life. But other things can be overwhelming. How do you handle the big stuff that makes you tremble inside? How do you cope with a situation you may have limited control over? Sometimes, for some people, sharing that burden, speaking of it aloud to other people, helps to make it a little smaller. It brings the mountain back down to a molehill. It’s not always about telling total strangers that you’re having back spasms. It’s more about letting off the emotional pressure of dealing with chronic pain.

It’s not posting just to whine and complain about how you feel or your situation. It’s meditating out loud. It’s not posting cat pictures so you feel like you’re part of a group. It’s hearing other people say they feel the same thing. It’s okay, you’re not alone.

Oversharing does happen every day. Next time you see someone posting personal stuff, stop and think about what that person is experiencing. You probably don’t know what they’ve been through. And if you do, let them know. It may be the connection that gives them hope of making it through another day.

A whole forest or just some trees?

Sometimes we need a little help to figure stuff out. The big stuff. Deep stuff. Stuff we don’t always like to examine in the light of day. I came across a blog post today that really struck a nerve. Here is the part that brought me to tears:

“When I feel better, I am more creative and more willing to allow myself to take the risk of feeling good about myself. Isn’t that strange? It’s a thing that I do, that I’ve done for my whole life: I don’t want to take the risk of feeling good about myself, because I’m afraid that I’ll get complacent, or arrogant, or someone will discover the Truth that my Depression tells me: I’m not that great and I don’t deserve to feel good about myself.”

I’ve never felt like I was depressed. Sometimes aggravated and upset with myself that I haven’t ended up where I thought I would be by now. But I never considered it depression. When I found this blog post from Wil Wheaton, I realized that what he described is exactly how I feel. I don’t know when it started but I have the feeling it goes way back. Mom had a way of making me feel guilty for doing something well, even my grades. I wasn’t given a choice but to make good grades. Yet she would fuss at me for always having my nose in a book whether it was for school or not.

How do you learn to break free from that when it’s all you were ever taught by the one person who’s supposed to love you and encourage you and nurture you above all others? For a lot of the time I remember, my mother was a miserable person. Nothing I could do to make her happy, nor my dad or my brother. She seemed to revel in it. The more I read about depression, I’m not sure she had a choice. That doesn’t make it any less tragic to instill that thinking into your children.

Now that I recognize what’s going on, I have to stop the cycle. I don’t have kids but I do have friends and family. I don’t want my behavior to be a negative influence on anyone. I recently had a meltdown. I hit my breaking point. And I am now medicated. Hopefully, the medication will help me find my way back to the right path. The path I should have found my way to when I was supposed to be learning who I was.

Here’s the entire blog from Wil Wheaton: http://wilwheaton.net/2015/10/seven-things-i-did-to-reboot-my-life/

Karina’s Back!

Okay, we finally have the Audible link for Karina Fabian’s book, I Left My Brains in San Francisco. This is the second book in the Neeta Lyffe series. If you like your zombies on the funny side, you need to read/listen to these books.

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MED

Party Time

fairy-princeI’ve been celebrating my birthday all week. I’ve slept late, eaten out, had too much ice cream, stayed up late, watched too much television, and made a costume and decorations. My birthday was on Tuesday.

The party is today, Saturday, because nobody parties on a Tuesday. It’s a costume party. I love parties. Friends and food and music and adult beverages. What’s not to love?

Karina Fabian Book Tour, Part 2

Oh, Bollocks! The audio book for Karina Fabian’s I Left My Brains in San Francisco is still not available on Audible. However, Karina has some freebies for you until it is. Check out the details here at her blog: http://karinafabian.com/2015/10/still-no-audiobook-but-i-have-freebies-for-you/

Where-are-you---ilmbiSF-audio2

Interview with Karina Fabian

I’m on vacation this week and giving myself a birthday present. I’m interviewing my NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MEDfriend and fellow writer Karina Fabian. She has a new audio book that should be dropping this week.

Do zombies take vacations?

Zombies are dead people whose hind brains haven’t clued into the fact yet. While they sometimes keep enough brain function to do things like return home, shamble through a drive-thru or try to vote, they aren’t really making conscious decisions. So, if one dies while on vacation and was really, really invested in doing something while on that vacation, its soulless corpse may return to hang out on the beach or go skydiving – likely what may have killed it in the first place, but zombies don’t really learn from their mistakes, either. However, it would not take a vacation.

What’s been you experience with audio books? Do you like it or not? Will you do it again?

I’ve had a great experience working with Becky Parker on the audiobooks. She has a good narrative style, fun voices and has fantastic special effects. It puts a new spin on the story. I’d love to do it again. In fact, I suggested to my publisher we just jump right to producing Shambling in a Winter Wonderland in audio, too, and have the print and audio come out together.

Do you have a bazillion notes on Neeta like J.K. Rowling has on Harry?

Nope. Neeta tells me what I need to know as I write the story.

What’s next for Neeta?

Neeta and Ted are heading to Utah. Neeta is showing off her exterminator’s van as part of the publicity agreement she made with HumVans, and they’re hoping to enjoy a zombie-free vacation snowboarding.  (Yeah…guess how that turns out.)

NeetaLyffe_ZombieExterminator_300dpi_eBook - CopyHow has writing Neeta Lyffe impacted your other writing universes?

My universes stay separate. I don’t see them crossing over, ever. They each have their own histories and population, and I enjoy moving from one to the other. Each book I write does teach me lessons I can apply to other novels, however. I’d say Neeta’s books help me remember to keep in mind how the wider world affects the doings of my characters.

I know you’re teaching a world building class. How did you build Neeta’s universe? Actually, the worldbuilding class was in August. This month, I’m teaching monster creation. You can learn more and register at https://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=EB59D786854E39.

Neeta’s universe was the easiest one to build, since it’s ours 30 years in the future. I took current social and political trends, projected them to ridiculous extremes (or what I hope would be ridiculous), and then added the zombies. I took a different approach to zombies. I have a hard time believing in the overwhelming apocalypse model, especially as we were in the middle of the H1N1 scare at the time I started the series, and while some people were sure we’d wipe out a significant amount of the population, strong controls made it a tempest in a teapot.

I figured the same thing would happen with zombieism. Even if we didn’t figure out what caused it or how to cure it, we would put controls in place to contain it. Thus, zombies as pests, not pestilence.

If you could ask Neeta a question, what would you ask her?

Why was it so hard for you and Ted to just admit you loved each other? It was the hardest part of the book to write.

Slider-ilmbiSF-audio-tour Karina

I always enjoy having Karina on the blog. You can find her and all of her universes at Fabian Space.

Get moving…

It’s raining again. I’ve been wanting it to rain. I have arthritis. I feel the rain coming three or four days before it gets here. After the first few hours of rain I stop hurting. I’ve been looking forward to the rain. But now it’s been raining for almost five days. Did I mention I’m allergic to the mold spores that are now piling up on the ground because of all the moisture? Yeah, the weather will always find a way to get me.

The lack of pain that commenced with the rain has helped boost productivity the last few days. Today I’m not feeling very motivated. So I turned to my drug of choice: music. For motivation it needs to be fast and loud and usually rocking. Here’s something to get you started: