In Review: Abducted Life By Patricia Josephine

Savannah and Evan were happy together until one night they disappeared. They were abducted by aliens but while both came away changed, only Evan remembers what happened. Former lives shattered, they must work to overcome what was lost.

Despite being a huge scifi fan, especially where aliens are concerned, the trope where people are abducted and experimented on is honestly one of my least favorite tropes involving aliens and scifi. One of my oldest story ideas that’s still hanging around is a subversion of this very trope.

That said, I was drawn to it by the fact that one of them remembers what happened, and oh man did this book deliver. I don’t want to spoil the whole thing, but every idea of what I thought the climax would be happened before the climax. By the time it happened I had an inkling. A small idea in the back of my mind what it would be, and even when it did happen it went far above and beyond what I ever expected.

In fact, one of my least favorite parts of the trope is the question of whether the aliens exist in the first place when the book has told us they were abducted by aliens. Maybe it’s my early exposure to Star Wars, but dang it, I always wanted to actually see the aliens and see them interacting with people.

But that’s never a question in this book. Evan remembers everything and has been so horribly changed by it that he couldn’t forget if he tried, and even though Savannah has had her memory of it wiped she’s been so irreverocably changed by it that it’s undeniable. She knows something happened, just not what.

The characters were also well written and believable. Certain reactions made sense because of what other characters had already been through. The story itself and pacing were great. Even if you’re not huge on the romance genre or the particular trope I recommend you pick up this book, especially if you’re a fan of scifi.

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One piece at a time

So I just started a rewrite of Stronger Than Fear last week. It’s a story I’ve been working on for several years and after some good beta reader feedback, I realized that the edits I needed to make were extensive enough to warrant this.

Just… one problem. The current finished version of STF is 87k words long. By far the longest thing I have ever written. Staring at it and contemplating a rewrite was daunting, which is why it took me so long to start it despite knowing the problems it had.

This reminded me of a metaphor my dad used to say a lot about eating an elephant. Fictional pachyderm killing aside, the idea is that while the task looks impossible when looked at in one chunk, if you break it into pieces it becomes much more manageable.

So I did this with the rewrite, and I’m now several thousand words in. Now, I’m not even close to done, but had I only looked at it as a whole I might still be procrastinating on it. And considering I want to get this story published eventually, that would be bad.

So if you’re having trouble writing a story because it looks too intimidating, or with any other huge project or life goal, breaking it down is a great way to get bits and pieces done, and before you know it you’re almost done.

 

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In Review: Jade City by Fonda Lee

Family is Duty. Magic is Power. Honor is Everything.

The war ended decades ago and now two clans vie for power in the modernizing city of Janloon. The center of this conflict? Jade. A mineral that enhances the power of any Green Bone warrior who wields it. As a new drug appears on the market allowing foreigners to wield this power, conflict arises that may forever change the balance of power in Janloon.

Jade City by Fonda Lee came out last November and on the premise of martial arts and magic I picked it up. And I couldn’t stop reading. The book revolves around the Kaul family, one of two gangs controlling the city of Janloon. The conflict never really goes away and the stakes only rise, even at the end there are more than enough things to make me want to read the sequel when it comes out.

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The worldbuilding is fantastic, as is the character development. The entire world and the people who inhabit it come alive, from the Pillar of the Kaul family to the people who run the shops under their control. The magic flows seamlessly into the world in such a way that its existence is at once normal and awe inspiring to various characters.

Jade City is a great book that everyone should read. It also has my favorite cover of any book that came out last year.

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26 is not too old

A few days ago a thread came across my twitter feed talking about the idea of 26 being old. Now the thread mentioned that this whole idea was absurd, but I felt I should say something as well.

Because the truth is, it is.

According to this theory, you go to college right out of high school at 18, graduate by 23, then start your career and build on what you were doing the whole time and achieve “success” by 26.

There’s a reason I put “Success” in quotes.

Define it. Does it have an end date? Does it tell you when you should have achieved it?

Society has a specific defined image of success that fits a narrow definition of people, and anything outside of that is failure.

That means you can’t afford to have physical or mental health problems or you’ve failed.

You can’t afford to have a personal tragedy set you back or you’ve failed.

You can’t afford to change your mind or you’ve failed.

See how ridiculous this is? I’m almost 26, a college dropout with chronic pain problems I didn’t have a few years ago due to a condition I was born with. On top of this, I’ve struggled with various mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

I’m not saying this to form a pity party, pity is the last thing I want.

I’m saying this to say that it’s ok if you haven’t figured out what you want to do with your life by 26. It’s ok if you haven’t published yet or you haven’t done any art commissions yet.

There were people in that thread that were 18 and saying like they’ve failed at life already.

18

Ok, some of you might be 18. Let me tell you this, you don’t realize how young 18 still is when you’re 18. I remember being that age and I thought all the adults had it all figured out, like a lot of you probably do.

we don’t

That’s ok.

Some of you are also older than me and feel like you’ve failed. I’m not your age, I haven’t been that yet. But I can say this. That’s ok too. A lot of authors didn’t publish until their 30’s or 40’s. Miyazaki, Tolkein, CS Lewis. The list goes on. So many artists didn’t even publish their first works in until their 30’s or 40’s or even later and their names are instantly recognizable.

Now, of course that level of fame is never guaranteed, and is extremely rare. But I say that to say this, it is ok to start later and take longer to achieve your goals than someone else, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

There’s something I think we’ve forgotten about this age of 26. It’s barely past the quarter century mark. Logically you know the number is there, I know, but as an age that people experience, we forget that. In the push to become better younger we forget that people live easily 50 years longer than that.

Fifty. Years. Nearly twice that long. There is zero reason logically to think 26 is the end all be all age of “Success” or even 30. Your personal timetable for achieving your goals is the only one that matters, don’t let anyone else tell you when you need to have a career and family by. No one but you can decide when you start making your art, and let no one tell you you’re too old to make a living from it.

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In Review: Misery by Stephen King

A little too much alcohol, screeching tires in the night and a collision leave writer Paul Sheldon crippled. Recovery will be long and difficult, especially because the person who found him is Anne Wilkes, former nurse and Sheldon’s biggest fan.

The back of the book doesn’t give you much more than this going in, and you don’t need much more. The story is all about Sheldon’s attempts to escape, mixed with a lot to say about writing and more than a few tense moments.

Not only is there a lot on writing in this book, but it is a writing masterpiece unto itself, showcasing the impacts of word choice and repetition, small-cast stories and other tools and themes that run throughout the story. The whole thing is a storytelling wonder.

 

You should read this if:

You like horror novels

You like thrillers

You are a writer not squeamish about the other two.

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