Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Nature of the Beast

So, I've been in the mood for paranormal or fantasy romance books so I threw an audio book I listened to a few years ago onto my Zen to listen to. I wanted a "sure thing" which is why I picked one I already knew I liked. It was the abridged "Dark Side of the Moon" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. (I've been told the unabridged version might light my ears on fire so that's why I designated that... but it's also my caveat just in case some of you loved the book.)

I really didn't like it.

I've been trying to figure out why I didn't like it. It's in my permanent collection, and I remember recommending it to other people. I once really liked it just as much as I currently don't like it. What happened? I definitely didn't like the writing style. There was too much unecessary angst in some places and then they were flippant and casual at times when it was inappropriate also. Her character development was great... and I still liked the characters. The action scenes were stilted, but I wonder if that was related to it being abridged. The way she pulled in current events also grated on my nerves for some reason. I think it was linking the New Orleans disaster to paranormal characters (Ie. one of the characters might have been able to "prevent" it.) Also, the story is clearly part of a series... which was okay, but there just seemed like too much "stuff" crammed into this one book. Too many subplots. (Once again... this may have been because it was abridged.)

Then... there was the one thing about "paranormal" or "fantasy" that seems a delicate balance:

How accepting can someone "Joe or Joan Average" be of the whacked out world they trip into? How quickly can they say "Okay... so and so exist and I'm cool with that?" Shouldn't they run screaming or have a psychotic episode when they do come face-to-face with it?

In this book, I just didn't buy it for some reason. The MC female just seemed to accept it despite her pragmatic nature.

I've noticed that the longer I write the more "particular" I'm getting about the books I can tolerate reading. Sometimes... it's a lack of talent on the part of the writer... which isn't the case in Sherilyn Kenyon. Sometimes, their writing style just bugs the crap out of me. I can't lose myself in the stories as much now. I read a short story anthology and of twenty-four stories... only around six met my "worth reading" criteria. Several of the stories were just lame and should have been put out of their misery. Some were sex scenes thinly-veiled as stories. Six were original, well-written, and told a complete "story" in around twenty pages.

I wouldn't say I'm a snob, because these aren't literary masterpieces I'm enjoying, but I'm starting to need a better written and more specific type of story-telling. I need a compelling and original world to step into. If I can't find it, it's just a whole lot more fun to step back into my character's fantasy and their story. I don't know if it's psychosis but I can bury myself in the worlds I've created, and I like it better than reading at times. It probably is psychosis.

I tried listening to Nora Roberts' Morrigon's Cross trilogy, and I couldn't do it. It felt contrived. I was really excited about it too because I love her books and a book about vampires... well that just plain rocked or it should have anyway. It didn't, though. I found myself drifting off while listening. I found myself saying, "Yeah yeah yeah... tortured, jaded vampire... epic battle of good against evil... six people with an even male/female ratio." I ended up dumping it off my Zen rather than finishing it.

Anyway, "How to be Popular" is on the docket for today to listen to while cleaning. I've listened to it before and really liked it, so I'm hoping to kick this blue funk with it. It's a solid YA adult book and Meg Cabot is an awesome writer. It's not a fantasy, but I'm feeling a bit let down in that realm currently.

I mean... why does a fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal book have to involve a larger than life complex world with funky names and, in some cases, overtly-obnoxious feminist themes or an undercurrent of casual debauchary? It annoys me when I have to try to connect a million different races of living things to a strange and bizarre world with rules that an author seems to make up just to complicate things. The conflict should not solely rest on the shoulders of the world itself. There has to be an emotional conflict that I can relate to on some level. Why must it be such a trial to understand and/or care about these things? I like epic battles. I like tortured souls. There just also has to be a story... a real story... with flawed characters and imperfect solutions and not a neat and tidy ending. I hate neat and tidy endings.

I'm beginning to suspect that writing has ruined the possibility of picking up a book for a "quick read" without making sure it's something I'll enjoy.

Anyway... I need to kick a migraine that I picked up while volunteering at the school this morning. I also want to check into what the requirements are for substitute teaching in this area. Plus... there is always cleaning. Shudder.


  1. I'm like you. Since I've started writing seriously I've found I'm much more picky about the books I read. I used to have an author-loyalty thing going on, but not anymore. When I actually have time to read I want to make sure it's going to be a book I'll like.

    I'm sorry you have a migraine! Hopefully it goes away soon!

  2. I used to have an author-loyalty thing too, but it seems like, at some point, a mess slips through along the line with some well-known authors. I think that no one feels like it's their place to say "That really sucks."

    Jennifer Crusie's "Don't Look Down" comes to mind. Jill Churchhill's "Accidental Florist" was like a body-snatcher level of bad. Meg Cabot's "Ready or Not" was weird considering her audience. I'll be honest and add Stephanie Meyer's "Breaking Dawn" to the list.

    That Crusie book was so awful.

    I really am in the mood to read a good book... I just have to find one that meets these finicky new needs of mine.

  3. Yeah. What type of books are you looking to read? I just recently read Olivia Parker's "To Wed a Wicked Earl" and it was sooo cute!

  4. I picked up Heather Graham's "The Presence" and it's fitting the bill nicely. I love the book for the amount of red herrings she throws at you from multiple viewpoints.

    With all of the editing I've been doing of late, I'm noticing her sentence structure to the point that it's distracting. I find myself thinking, "That's a good sentence right there... it's really what that paragraph needed. Nice use of a participle." I just really need to get my head "OUT" of the game.