Tag Archives: goodreads.com

Info Dumps and other things writers are told not to do…

I’m re-listening to Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s League SeriesI’m preparing for the release of Born of Vengeance which is dropping on February 7th. I’m super excited because I love these books. They’re dark, brutal, and apologetically graphic.

Listening to them back-to-back though, I’ve noticed something that I wouldn’t normally notice if I were reading them one per year. She does a lot of info dumps. For those of you asking; what the fuck is an info dump? I and Google will enlighten you.

in·fo dump
noun
 a very large amount of information supplied all at once, especially as background information in a narrative.
An info dump is the first thing they tell writers not to do. Any editor, critique partner, published writer, and agent will give you a giant lecture about how this is a HUGE faux pas.
You’ll get advise. Reveal it slowly. Work the information into the narrative in stages. Express information through dialogue. These are all ways of working backstory into your narrative.
Sherrilyn Kenyon has incredibly dense info dumps but in a sneaky almost genius way. There are quite a few…”I don’t understand” statements in her novels. What this means is a character is presented with a vague or cryptic piece of information and then responds…”I don’t understand”. What follows is the explanation of the whole history of this person/event explained in wide sweeping paragraphs. You don’t really notice until you’re listening to seven or eight books, one after the other, and you keep hearing the same device used again and again.
Another issue I’ve noticed in my binge listening stint is something Laurel K Hamilton fell into somewhere after the The Killing Dance in the Anita Blake novels.Maybe this is just a product of long series and you can’t avoid it. I don’t know but as the books go on; these feel less and less about the atrocities and fascist tendencies of the League (the over arching ruling body of the 9 worlds) and more about cultural norms of a particular species. I get it. You created this amazing race of people with cultural norms that, I’m gonna be honest, sometimes blow my mind. I wish I were that awesome to create something like that. Maybe one day I will be.
I get there has to be character development but there also has to be plot development. And in a series, this becomes particularly difficult. There has to be series plot development, always moving the over arching story forward. But there also has to be book plot development. I too find this difficult, to always be moving the larger story along as well as the smaller individual book plot ahead. I’m not complaining. I still love this universe she created and will follow it until the end. There is, however, an issue of getting lost in the trees.
I am a writer and a reader. I understand that no book is perfect. Mine sure aren’t. In the first few Blushing Death novels, I might use too many metaphors. This was pointed out to me by a goodreads.com review. Thank you to that person, by the way. I now go through and eliminate unnecessary metaphors and similes in my edits.
I guess the lesson we take from this is that the rules don’t really matter. You can break any and all of them, if you do it well.

The Best Laid Plans

The Golden Anidae is only 9 days away so here’s a freebie! This little short takes place from Dean’s perspective over  a scene in Midnight Ash. MidnightAsh2_850This consists of strong language and has not been professionally edited. Read at your own risk.

The Best Laid Plans

“There’ll have to be a change of plans,” Pat said as if his perfect little world wasn’t falling apart.

I understood the slight tick at the corner of Pat’s eye.  It was almost imperceptible but I knew Pat, knew what to look for.  Pat wanted to kill something, anything that moved to keep the Blushing Death safe.

“What plan?” the dangerous little mouse squeaked.

Danny glanced over at her with guilt written all over his face.  Stupid pup. She could eat Danny alive.  Her face flushed and the soft grey of her eyes swirled with anger, tugging at my insides.  The room filled with her, the soft floral, feminine scent mixed with the rich spiciness of her anger.  My cock hardened along my thigh as her scent permeated my brain, registering something deep in my synapses that I didn’t understand.  My wolf wanted to leap out to meet her, to run with her.  I fought to hold back my beast and keep control.  I had reacted to her like this from the first and it took everything I had not to rub up against her and mark her as mine.

Dear God, what is she?

She glanced over at me, her grey eyes churning with a secret. With a wicked smile on her face, that glint in her eye was as if she’d imagined something horrible in her mind and got satisfaction from it.  I liked that devious and predatory grin.  My wolf knew it for what it was, dangerous, protective, and mine.

Pat reached out and touched her, sliding his cold, dead hand against her cheek.  Something inside me wanted to rip that hand off. It didn’t make sense. Pat was my friend, had been for decades.

The Blushing Death jumped at his touch and my wolf was glad of it. Quicker than either I or Pat saw, she’d drew her knife.  The Blushing Death would never be a victim. She’d kill everyone and everything before she let that happen and I was glad of it. Humans didn’t live long in our world but then again, she wasn’t merely human.

Pat reached out, slow and cautious, touching her again. She dropped the knife but I could see the reluctance in her gaze.  I wished it was my hand on her cheek, wished I was comforting her.

Damn it!

Janey . . . I missed Janey.  That was all. I was lonely, so lonely.  Dahlia Sabin wasn’t mine.  She was Pat’s. My wolf growled deep in my being, arguing with my brain. She may be Pat’s but she would never be Danny’s.  That much, I knew for certain.  No matter how much that boy wanted it to be true, she would never be Danny’s.

“There’s something else?” Pat asked her.

“Later,” she said, turning to face the rest of the room with her shoulders back and her chin high.  That woman was every bit an Alpha and my cock throbbed at the thought of testing her.

“What’s the change in plan?  What’s the plan period?” she snapped, sliding that long silver blade back into it sheath.  I could read the tension in her body and something in me ached to ease it.  She caressed the blade as she would a lover, taking comfort from the weapon and her own sense of determination.  The Blushing Death was no shrinking violet and my cock twitched, imagining her fingers wrapped around my hard length, squeezing my shaft with the same tenderness.  My beast paced back and forth inside me like the caged animal it was, growling through my mind.  I was stronger than this.  I was stronger than whatever was tugging at my chest and riling up my beast.

“Alex and I had intended to confront the board in the Lebensblut New York offices to come up with a compromise,” Pat said with more words than needed. Too many words could get a guy in trouble. “I’d hoped we could stop this before it started.  Make amends somehow.  Now, I’m afraid we’re too late. We’ll make an appeal but I’m afraid that Dahlia needs to be protected.”

She was stiff, her hands balled into fists at her sides as if she wanted to punch everyone in the room. I couldn’t blame her.  Pat was heavy handed but he knew what he was doing.  She took a deep breath and forced her shoulders to relax.

“Okay.  I’ll need protection,” she agreed.

Before I could hold it in, I laughed.  Out loud. The raucous sound was so foreign, I startled myself.  Pat’s eyes were wider than dinner plates and I could almost see the wheels turning in her head.  She’d surprised everyone.  Including  me.

She and Pat both glared at me but I didn’t care.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed.   It felt good.  Better than I remembered. Who was this woman? My heart raced in my chest and what I could only describe as fear churned in my gut. She’d made me feel things in the last five minutes that I hadn’t felt . . . ever. Not even with Janey.

“Is something amusing, Dean?” Pat hissed.  His jaw was tight and his tone clipped as he glared at me.  I didn’t care.  I enjoyed the light feeling in my chest and even the fear.

“You said she was unpredictable,” I answered through strangled laughter and sunk back into the couch, relaxing.  I liked her more than I knew was good for me.

WordPress and the Static Page

All i want is to have the blog show up on the blog page! Why is this so difficult? I know I created the blog page first and the static site second but I just want it to show up on the blog page in addition to the widget at the edge of the page.

ARGH!

I have requested help from a friend and she thinks I’m nuts. The following conversation has transpired between me and said friend:

me
i hate websites
1:08 PM
me
i hate wordpress
1:30 PM
FRIEND
Why??
I think I’m decent at wordpress
Do you need help?
me
yes,
i have a blog and i’m turning wordpress into a static page to move my website over but i can’t move the pre existing blog over to the blog header page
ARGH
FRIEND
what format?
me
i have no idea
I have to go to a meeting in a few
FRIEND
What is your website now?
me
logon is XXXXXXX password is XXXXXXX, play around if you wish.
my current website is suzannemsabol.com so i’m trying to move all that crap over to wordpress and make it better
FRIEND
On wordpress?
me
1:38 PM
FRIEND
Where is the old blog?
1:41 PM
1:42 PM
FRIEND
Am I missing something? When I go to the wordpress site and click on “Blog”, I see 5 posts
Are you trying to get them so they appear on the body of the page and not just as links in the sidebar?
1:44 PM
me
yes
because that list of 5 posts should be on every page
2:30 PM
me
i might cry
on a better note, the meeting was fairly uneventful
2:39 PM
FRIEND
That list is on every page?
I feel like youre hallucinating these issues
2:45 PM
me
no, its a widget
it posts on every page
This is the conversation I just had and we are now both frustrated! *SIGH*
And yes, i really do talk like that.

Reviews and Comments…BOOOOOO!

Okay, so we all know that goodreads.com is a book review site…right?

I had to read the Higher Education ? for my Higher Education Policy class and honestly, I had to put it down a few times to regain perspective. When I started to feel sorry for the way faculty were portrayed in this book, I took a step back and put the book away. If any of you don’t already know, I work at a major Big 10 University and am up to my neck in faculty and their self-centered bullshit every damned day. So, while reading this book, you can imagine my unease when I started to side with the faculty in this author’s arguments. After finishing the book with a bad taste still in my mouth, I wrote the following review on goodreads.

Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It
by Andrew Hacker, Claudia Dreifus
7097994
Suzanne M.’s review Jul 12, 13 · edit
1 of 5 stars
Read on July 11, 2013

Working in Higher Education, I have a unique perspective on the issues presented in this book. On many points, they present valid concerns. As in any industry there are those who take advantage of the system and those that work tireless for their chosen profession. Categorizing all faculty into the former grouping is unfair. The condescending tone of their arguments and the lack of statistical data make their arguments hard to back up, making them seem angry and petulant.

The authors of this book also make wide generalizations regarding the functioning of universities. I’ve found {from my own baseless observations – LOL} that most faculty (as the author is) rarely understand the actual administrative processes or the reasons behind them. So to make accusations about the appropriateness of spending is a spurious assumption, riddled with holes.

Hacker bases much of their observations on Ivy League institutions. As many aspire to emulate these universities and colleges, the reality is that the actual number of students attending those institutions are minuscule compared to the greater college going population. How does this relate to the actual problems facing higher education? This book also ignores one of the fundamental issues with higher education today. The students and the parents.

If someone is looking for an accurate and representation of higher education and the problems plaguing us, this is not the book.

Now, as some of you may notice, I commented more on the tone of the book than the actual points the author made. Although I agree with the author’s concerns in most cases (our higher education system and K-12 system does need a hard look) – not necessarily the solutions, I commented mostly on the tone of the writing and the unsubstantiated assumptions. The author states that he and his co-author did not do statistical data collection to back up their conclusions but instead contacted colleagues around the country to gather their information. The anger that came through clear as a bell in their writing and voice made it seem more like the author was angry at the system for personal reasons than some higher purpose or championing the rights of students. The authors of this book also spent a great deal of time on college athletics (without doing any research…might I add) and basically condemned the entire practice, suggesting that perhaps college athletics should be dissolved altogether. Not once did the author take into account that sometimes, an athletic scholarship is the only way some kids are able to go to college. That was very aggravating.

A day or so goes by and then I get an email from goodreads. Someone has commented on my review. What?!? I was very excited and went straight to goodreads. I rarely post reviews (mostly because I can’t be bothered or don’t have the time. The book has to either be fantastic or suck big donkey balls for me to post an actual review), so when someone commented, I was ridiculously excited to see what they thought. Then I opened goodreads and read this…

message 1: by Peter Jul 13, 2013 03:58am
Peter I haven’t read the book and wouldn’t dispute your characterization of it, but it’s clear from where I stand as someone who studied the history of higher education for his Ph.D. and then taught in three institutions that higher education is led by people who are intent on preserving their privileged status at the expense of students and taxpayers. The fact is that the reality of education for too many students does not come close to the stated mission of the institutions they attend. As a result there needs to be an open national discussion about higher ed with the hopes that new leadership emerges and institutes needed reforms.

Okaaaaaay. So, here’s the thing. I wasn’t making a political statement. I didn’t even really discuss the state of higher education today and all the flaws in our educational system (cause believe me, there are quite a few). It was a simple book review. If you haven’t read the book…maybe you shouldn’t comment since you DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! If you want to have a political discussion or a policy discussion, goodreads isn’t the place for that. Also, if your first statement is that you haven’t read the book on a book review site, that should be your first clue to not hit “post”.