Author Highlight: Graham Milne

Oh shoot I went out for a walk around the lake today and almost forgot about this, okay, okay, who’s next? This guy! Graham Milne, a guy who took his given name and made it into a pun for his weblogsite. Good for him! He is opinions and apparently Canadian. I don’t think I noticed that before, or more likely just glossed over it.

What has he done? According to his about me page, he’s written a novel, is working on a sequel, and has ideas for more, and is currently working on getting the first one published. But what actually puts him in a situation where I’m talking about and highlighting and throwing cabbages at him is that there is a full serial story that he wrote: Vintage: A Fantasy Serial. It’s also a pretty fancy serial. It is free to read, which means I read it, liked it, finished reading it, and am now going to talk about it a bit. Because it turns out free stuff captures my attention. It’s what I’m doing, after all. Although I think “free stuff captures my attention” can be applied to 90% of the human race.

Aside from his website, it’s also available on Wattpad. Though Graham I came across simply by wondering around the internet. There happens to be one chapter only on Wattpad though because it is rated euphemism! Taking place in the same world as the novels he’s working n, it follows a French-inspired country trying to cut off magic, and particularly the power of witches, which a government organization sees as a threat to their power. A high-ranked officer whose job is to root out these witches gets to know one and questions his choices, though, and, hey, wait, I didn’t summarize or describe the story in the last highlight.

It’s actually been like half a year since I read Vintage, so let me try to recall my thoughts on it. The story felt like it evolved naturally and nothing felt out of place. This is the case even when some characters returned without that originally planned. (Later on Graham had some reflections and mentioned how the story originally was meant to be only 4 or 5 parts long, and thus he hadn’t made an outline–instead he developed each part as he wrote and, because he posted them as he wrote, he couldn’t go back to tweak things and had to move forward.)

The characters work well together, even–or perhaps especially–the fellow with never more than two words to say. Perhaps the setting could be expanded some more, but with this being in a world that other stories are being written in, I can see that being easy enough.

There’s also French words. Last time I talked about a book with fabricated words and a glossary, now I’m discussing one with real words that nevertheless are French and therefore I have even less of a clue about them. So, um… snails? Yeah, I didn’t really research this part.

I’m looking forward to when he gets his books published, whenever that is, but for now he has Vintage up for free, and, in the end, that might actually be the most important criteria for me having a highlight post about someone! No, wait, awesome story is most important. Free helps, though. It means I have something immediate to point readers to. Anyway, next time I run out of people. Wait, maybe not quite yet…

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Author Highlight: Winston Malone

Oh, hello! In less than a week the next Darmenzi chapter is up, but I’m not here to talk about me for once. I’ve recently been reading a lot (or at least several) authors and comics and such things I’ve come across on the internet. I’m still looking, too. I’ve decided that hey, just because I’m not known at all doesn’t mean I can’t bring up awareness of other great creators. Every Friday I’m going to have a post about author I’ve found on the internet. At least until I run out of authors, which will probably happen in a month. Then I’ll just have to expand to other creativors.

So who will I begin with? I thought about it and figured I’d go with the most recent novel I read, over on Wattpad. Honestly I’m not too fond of the website because I don’t consider the text editor very good (but then what website’s IS?) and it kind of slows my laptop, but it seems decent enough to find new stuff to read. (Okay so out of three things I’ve read only one kept my interest but still.)

That would be Winston Malone from Georgia, definitely the hub for sci-fi-fantasy?? Okay look sorry Southern US but you’re not what people think when– What? Yes, I’m in Indiana, why do you– Okay but that’s– Fine, I’ll move on.

So Mr. Malone here has created a novel for a series called Stormfallen. The first book, The Decrepit Forest, has a first draft up on Wattpad, and quite frankly I find it hard to believe that it’s the first draft. It’s pretty good! I mean, you know, not perfect, but certainly at least second-draft level. Then again when I write a first draft I hardly even try to make it good, that business is for draft 2-15. But still, it’s pretty good.

The Decrepit Forest is a pretty character-driven saga, with, if I recall, at least 6 characters given focus at one time or another, maybe 7, plus at least one more with a scene focus. It’s a world without humans (hey, kinda like mine), though there are the Lorrellan. Each character feels full and interesting. They all have a history, and it’s interesting to see them interact. But as there are many characters, there are also many monsters.

Along with the character-driven side, there’s a significant amount of action, too. The world is under attack by a variety of demons, and there’s also political strife and, well, just regular ol’ anger that leads to fisticuffs and there’s also a really big axe. It never overstays its welcome though and remains gripping.

There’s a lot of fabricated words, though, I’ll say that. It has its own glossary, even. Of course, it’s to be expected for an alien world, but just keep in mind you’ll probably want to check the glossary every so often.

Wattpad doesn’t say exactly when the story was completed but it looks like it was just several months ago judging by the timing of some comments? It looks like more is to come, and I can definitely see this going places. I recommend it (that’s the whole point of this post series, after all), and I’ll be watching. Now can someone tell me how to end a blog post? That will suffice? Okay!

Review of Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North

A little while ago I finished this book that I got a little over a month ago. I had a post about it; it’s a “chooseable-path adventure” version of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare by Ryan North, a sequel to the same thing but with Hamlet called To Be or Not To Be. I don’t do reviews all that often but maybe I should start. Maybe the best way to make myself better at reviews is to do more of them?? Just note that this will largely be in view of someone who read the first book, To Be or Not To Be, which I also recommend.

First thing’s first, this book actually solved a major issue I had with To Be or Not To Be, which was that in that book you had the path that followed the original play Hamlet, and it felt largely like the other paths were just sprouting off this main one. There were a few places where a totally new storyline would sprout, but for the most part you had to read through a lot of one path to find a number of endings. With this book the paths that deviate from the original early on feel more like their own stories, and there are numerous locations where you can veer off but then return to the original story, so if you want to read to the end of the normal story more than once you have option so you don’t reread a lot of things.

Another area this book improves on the first is simply how it’s designed. The first gave every choice at least its own page, which led to a lot of empty space. This one divides the choices into sections, so most of every page is utilized. There was only one spot where this was problematic, as one section had two choices listed but the second choice was on the second page, so it could be easily missed. Also: I know nobody actually cares about the design. I’ll move on.

This book has not one but two story-within-a-stories (not counting the Romeo and/or Juliet-within-a-Romeo and/or Juliet), and one is about drugs and amazing and has an adorable Puck (thanks to one Andrew Hussie). A few other outlandish things from To Be or Not To Be return as well, such as ghost time travel, but I actually felt the returning outlandish things weren’t utilized as interestingly as in the first book.

But this book does have new outlandish things that are amazing, such as controlling more than one character at once or unlockable characters. Yes, you can unlock a character by completing a certain path. It’s pretty obvious which path it is, though. Maybe next book Ryan can fit an unlockable character into an unexpected path. Come on, let us choose a story using one of those robot suits!

Ultimately this story is hilarious, and that’s the point. Whether it’s the witty or silly characters (definitely the best-written Friar Lawrence ever), the Shakespearean prose reduced to plain English/bullet points/power point slides, or just the ridiculous narration (find out how he gets out of writing a sex scene!!), every path has something to laugh at. In the end I would have to say this book is an improvement on the first, and book scientists that I totally didn’t pay off thought that was impossible!

New book in the mail: Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North

Some years ago I had a blog post about To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North, a chooseable-path version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Well, now he has Romeo and/or Juliet! And good gourd this book is 41% off as of my typing this, sheesh. Anyway, I got the book in the mail today and have done one readthrough. I successfully died at breakfast, I am off to an excellent start, it was fully intentional.

For To Be or Not To Be I kept track of what pages I read and tried to figure out which ones I had yet to read. This time I’m being much more thorough. I have a spreadsheet.

RomeoJulietSpreadsheet

Checkmarks are pages I’ve read, the next numbers are which pages these lead to. If they have a checkmark on them then I do not need to read that page again, whether because it’s an ending, I’ve read every page it can lead to, or it’s an extraneous route that leads to a page the previous page leads to also.

This book is a game, and I’m going for 100%.

Chapter 1 of Darmenzi is available! Also: A Note from the Same Author

The first chapter (as well as an author’s ramble- er, note?) of my second novel, Darmenzi, is now available. The pre-story note is here, and it basically introduces a big change from how the first edition if Slubes was, which is how the narrators sometimes interrupt the story. This is a change found in the second edition of Slubes that I’ll release later this summer (fingers crossed), and I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before.

Chapter 1: Old Awakenings reintroduces our friends from Slubes, bringing us up to speed a year after the first novel. After that, some light doom.

As for an update for my status, I’m just about done with the next draft of Slubes. My hope is that by the end of this month, or at least mid-May, I can post some examples of not-quite-finished-but-very-close excerpts.

And as always (or at least usually), I still have my Patreon, which had some changes in the last month. Anyone who gives $3 or more can read chapter 2 in just two weeks instead of another month! Gee, I hope I can finish the chapter by then!!

What I’ve Been Reading In: April (plus a look at an angry suitcase)

That’s right, it’s time for another look at what I’ve been rea- What? You want to know what I’ve been recently writing?

Yyyeah, I’ve been working on stuff, but for my next novel, I’ve still got people looking it over for me. I want it to be the best it can be, and I definitely want it read beforehand–I do some weird things in it and want to make sure it’s not too out there. Rest assured, though, I am always working on things; none of these things will ever directly make me any money, but you will be able to see them someday when they’re ready.

*sits down and plays video games for several hours*

Oh, right, the stuff I’ve read. Well, April was a time for Discworld, as I finally read the next book in the series, Eric. But not just Eric, the illustrated Eric. The illustrations are all very nice (a great deal nicer than the rather mundane covers the Harper Collins versions use), but I’m a writer so let’s get to the story. It was all right, maybe a little disjointed, but was fun. I’d actually read the play Doctor Faustus for a class in college, so I had some background in it that. And in going over it in my head, I seem to remember one small part in particular, a sort of inversion to the grandfather paradox wherein Rincewind remarks that time travel only seemed appealing in order to kill your own grandfather.

Anyway, while on the subject of a Rincewind story, which means The Luggage can’t be too far behind, something occurred to me about The Luggage while reading this story: it’s an overpowered character. But the kicker here is, The Luggage just doesn’t care. Not in a “life is meaningless” sense, but in a “i don’t care if this IS a physical impossibility, I’M GONNA DO IT” sense.

Most of the time badly-written overpowered characters–you know, like Mary Sues–make a point to show this power, and beats everybody with grace and style and- bu- ju- ih- gh- just, The Luggage just doesn’t care. It’ll just mow over people like they’re ants. Most people in online role plays (oh boy, time to confuse a bunch of people!), if they are called out for god-modding, would stop and complain that they aren’t god-modding. The Luggage would basically just shrug (despite having no shoulders) and then eat them, with no regard for “rules” or “common decency” or “code of conduct” or “logic”.

And that’s why it’s amazing. Because it just doesn’t care. It’s just angry.

Also why it can turn a chimera into pudding (see: Sourcery)

Moving on, the next Discworld book is Moving Pictures, which I would probably rank actually as one of my favorites. The story was interesting, though the backstory may have been a little hazy (yet at the same time a little obvious), and characters were fun. I always like good characters, and Victor’s carefree-until-he’s-at-risk-of-getting-a-care-at-which-point-he-cares-vastly-about-getting-back-to-being-carefree attitude was interesting. I also liked Gaspode’s rough snark contrasted with reluctant loyalty. Clearly he is a diamond in the rough. Or quartz in the alley. I dunno.

And finally, we come to Reaper Man. I like the character of Death. He’s strangely spontaneous, though I suppose death can happen at any time, so spontaneity wouldn’t be too far out of character. The thing about Reaper Man though is, I would say it’s an okay story, but really it’s an okay two stories. There are two different stories going on here. Both of them have the same root cause, but they don’t really cross at any point. One story seemed to have a rather abrupt climax with a hazy conclusion, the most of it before and the ending was pretty good, while the other sort of comes out of left field with no prior suggestion of it. So it was a little confusing there. Can’t say it’s one I particularly like, but I guess you win some, you lose some.

So what’s next? Well, it turns out the next Discworld novel is not one my library has. Whoops. They have the ebook version, but my stance on that stands at that being the cheap version. But that’s okay; I was wanting to try and read some books by independent authors; you know, people basically in the same circumstance I am, except maybe a little more well-known because let’s face it no one is less-known than I am. So I might look into that. Also maybe read Machine of Death, whiiich my library does have. I came up with my own idea regarding the machine of death recently, actually, so clearly I must read the two collections involving it to make sure the idea hasn’t been used.

That’s it for now, see you in another month probably!

Recent Readings: Whenever I Get to it Edition?

I’m bad at doing things like this. I actually made a Goodreads profile some time ago, added some books I’d read (mostly the ones I wrote about in my last Recent Readings), and then couldn’t get myself to add all the other stuff sitting on my mini-bookcase. I might get around to it eventually, who knows? Regardless, this is even more work. It involves writing about other writing. Writing!

There’s not a whole lot to report on, actually, though. I guess first I’ll mention Fox’s Bride by A.E. Marling; I mentioned his first book, Brood of Bones, in the previous RailRoad, and since then I bought and read what I’m going to assume works as a sequel, since it features the same protagonist. Once again it has the sort of mystery feel to it, but less so than the first.

I have to say, though, a character who starts out seeming important ends up dwindling in importance until he’s almost forgotten… almost. Inannis the thief has a rather important role in the first half but then appears in something like one scene in the second half. It just seems like a weird shift in this character’s role, and he just sort of disappears from events. I guess it makes sense, but it’s still seems jarring, and I’m still not entirely sure what his whole deal was. Plus that one scene in the second half doesn’t give any insight on what happens after and seems kind of out of place. Apparently there’s a bonus epilogue scene with him you can get online, but leaving something like that available outside of the book? Who would do that? What’s that? A message from my future self saying I do that all the time with minor characters? Well then.

The other books I’ve been reading lately–aside from some rereading–is finishing A Series of Unfortunate Events, after having read the first four in the last Rest&Relaxation. The series certainly picks up; the first, about, six or so books could be seen to all follow a very similar structure, but then it starts to change as mysteries open up and then fold over themselves. And, of course, throughout the dark themes and confusing puzzles, the writing is always very silly, though in a serious manner. It’s all treated seriously, no matter how silly it is. Repeating yourself in a looping sentence only to end it by revealing it as a distraction to hide a letter in the narration? Amazing, I say!

Funnily enough, the series also leaves a lot of open-ended stuff, to make note back to Inannis, from Fox’s Bride, but in the case of this series the things left behind are given attention. The unexplained details are left in a shroud. (I read that the last book had some criticism in leaving so many unsolved mysteries. If you want mysteries solved, then never ever read The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. NEVER.

That’s what I’ve been reading lately. As for what I’ve been writing, still working on that… lots of planning…

To Be or Not To Be: That Is still a book by Ryan North

Okay, before I go through my impressions of TBONTB, which I’m just gonna call To Be because I always be, I want to mention how it’s kind of difficult to read a lot at once, largely because going through it multiple times inevitably leads to rereading portions, which leads to skipping already-read stuff. Which leads to flipping through pages to get to new stuff. I could use bookmarks but pfft, whatever. Thus I’m planning to just go through 2 or 3 times a day. So, hey, it should last some time for me!

Anyway, of COURSE I started by reading acknowledgements. What’s wrong with reading about cool people first?? After that, it was time to BE RYAN NORTH YEEAH

AND THEN IT WAS TIME TO BE RYAN NORTH BEING HALMET YEEAH

AND THEN I WAS HAMLET SR. AND died. then ghost died. I’m terrible at being Hamlet Sr.

Later, I decided to try making the Conservative options. Or, as the book put them, the stupid options. It’s, um. This part oddly enough worked as a pretty good metaphor for a lot of male US politicians making rulings on women’s health issues. That’s right, Shakespeare is relevant to the politics of today, especially when it’s in a chooseable-path adventure format!

Anyway, I really like the nonstandard writing techniques, which is something I’m interested in for my own writing! I mean, chopping up the story and throwing it everywhere and doing this with a bunch of versions with the story to make a story salad is as nonstandard as it can get, but even the little things like repeating a letter to signify it’s being extended: “Yayyyy.” THE AUTHOR IS NOT AFRAID TO DO THINGS THAT WOULD BE IMPROPER FOR MOST BOOKS AND WHATNOT

Adding to that, author participation (it may be a deus ex machina, but it was SHAKESPEARE’S FAULT) and narration that really gets off-track. It’s like, even at points the narrator admits that he is totally getting off-track. Basically, this is the best possible way to write this type of book: the narrator actively chastising you for making awful decisions. “You know what? No. Just no.” And at one point you can actually attempt to lie to the book.

All in all, amazing book, still a lot for me to read through, can’t wait for the sequel, this should become a new common type of book. It’s quite a feat, of course, even without the illustrated endings, but so what?? It’s amazing. I’m even considering what I would do if I wrote one.

That’s about it , I think. Just wanted to make a follow-up post after I’ve read some of the book. Most of this post was written as I was reading it, just jotting down thoughts, and then organized in a way that’s not just a smattering of thoughts like I usually do.

To Be or Not To Be: That Is a book I just got in the mail, wooo

(Note: Comments are disabled on this post due to giant influx of spam comments. S…Seriously, who does this sort of stuff, and why aren’t they hired to make things better?)

IT’S THIS THING, THIS IS THE THING THIS POST IS ABOUT

Oh hi. I got a book in the mail today! It is To Be Or Not To Be: That Is probably the title of the book, I’m not sure, “that is the adventure” is sometimes added to the end of it, and I’m also not sure how the  capitalization should go, the front cover says To Be OR Not To Be and also To Be and Not To Be area in arrows. How do I make that part clear in writing the title?

So anyway this is a version of Hamlet that is a choose-your-own-pathventure type-dealy. If you haven’t heard of it, Ryan North did a Kickstarter for it some months back and it was funded. It was super-funded! It was ultra-funded! It was nuclear-funded! And I funded something like .0034429etc.% of it, so I got a copy. A signed copy! Hey, wait. This signature says Mr Serpent. … I am okay with this.

Okay so somewhere in there I was supposed to say “just read about it at that kickstarter page and there might’ve been a site for it too to learn all about it if you haven’t heard of it” so I’m saying that there.

If you haven’t heard of Ryan North, I’m surprised considering you’re here. Not because I mention him a lot, but because why would you know who I am but not Ryan North?? He’s like an internet celebrity. I have ten years to get to that status.

Side note: The front cover of TBONTB makes it look like Ophelia is holding a servered arm. That arm looks so served, it’d be severed if it wasn’t actually a test tube. What was I going to say next? Oh yeah.

So basically I’m gonna read the book, go on random paths, and post about it here! OKAY LET’S DO THIS *flips to a random page in the book and reads*

“She steps away from Claudius. ‘What’s going on, Hamlet?'”

… Yeah, I don’t know, either. I think I’m doing this wrong. I’ll figure it out and talk more about it later.

In novel news, I finished the second draft of my next novel last weekend. In a few weeks or less I’ll get to work on draft 3. I am on schedule to have this book done by April! Wait did I just beholden me to that date? Did I just use the proper form of beholden there!? DID I JUST USE THE PROPER PRONOUN!?

In “wait what I have a life outside of internets and writing” news, I started training for a job this week. Sort of. I’m training to get a license so I can have this job, which is actually a temp job as I am technically the employee of an employment agency. I will be in a call center, apparently selling health insurance to old people?? I am not totally sure but I may be in a couple weeks, assuming I can actually pass the test for this license thingy first. Basically, money, but work, so I will be busier. Not that I was exactly buzzing with activity around here ever.

Recent Readings: and by Recent, I Mean…

First, I didn’t give up on having a new post every few days–I just realized it’s a stupid thing to hold myself too. Why force myself to come up with something that wouldn’t be very good and thus worth it? So I’ll just make a post when something comes up. Did I mention I got back to revising my next book? Anyway, I wrote all this… over a month ago, I think, and was just waiting to finish the last of the books I bought a month or two ago before I posted it.

So back in the days of my youth I didn’t read very much. Then I became a writer and realized “oh ,carp, I should start reading more!” So, I did. One summer I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. I need to read them again, since I never read the one written after Douglas Adams’ death. So I won’t be saying anything on them. Instead, I’ll go back to last fall.

Bwobwobluwobwoblu time warp sounds