The Fifth Dimension

About

"As vast as space, as timeless as infinity." - The Twilight Zone

I'm a writer currently working on the first novella in a series to be self-published as ebooks.

This blog will focus mainly on book reviews, writing articles, and my own writing updates. I read and review urban fantasy, crime, thrillers, horror. and mysteries. If you want me to review your book, send me a message.


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Review: Summer’s End by Lisa Morton

Summer's End by Lisa Morton

Contains spoilers.

This was a free ebook won in a LibraryThing giveaway.

Summer’s End is a novella that could have used a lot more editing before it was published, and this is both content and copy-editing. It’s a work that would have been improved if Ms. Morton had read more on writing, because many of her errors are discussed in blogs and books. One of these, called the info dump in the business, featured pages of information that brought a crashing halt to the action within the first few pages. Further Ms. Morton used parentheses with a grating frequency. The information could have been more smoothly conveyed with dashes or commas, or rewritten entirely. There was also a paragraph that went on for two pages and change, and screamed out to be cut into pieces.

Characterization was also a weakness. The reader is told very little about the protagonist, named Lisa Morton, and what information is given is included rather haphazardly. The reader isn’t told that Mr. Morton is a bookseller until halfway through the book, and that title isn’t even explained. Does she own a bookstore, manage a bookstore, run an online bookstore? Further it’s difficult to believe that someone with such clear distain for Halloween would write books about the subject.

Ms. Morton is consulted by a professor, because of her book, the Halloween Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia implies that Ms. Morton’s book gives information on a range of subjects related to Halloween, which would not be in-depth, especially if marketed to the general public. An academic might consult this for basic information, but for a consult, they’d search for either another academic who had published in-depth scholarly articles on Druids or a book or books on Druids. Though the latter wouldn’t necessarily have to be an academic. The point is that Ms. Morton would not be considered for a consult.

The plot stretches the concept of suspension of disbelief, and this is not because it features supernatural elements. The idea that Ms. Morton and Conor o Cuinn are the last of the Druids negates the entirety of the Neo-Druid movement, who while not identical to their forbearers are certainly closer to the ancient Druids than an archeologist and a writer. And this doesn’t even touch on the fact, that contrary to the writer’s statement, these are certainly not the only two people in the world to study the ancient Druids. Further, the writer herself states that becoming a Druid, or a high priestess and be able to practice their rituals successfully requires years of training and learning, and yet, these two do it with very little effort. Further, they recite their incantations/spells/what have you in English, not Gaelic, which is likely what the Druids spoke.

 This isn’t to say that the work was without strengths. The pacing was good, and the voice is quite strong and very easy to follow. Ms. Morton, the real author, makes you want to read more of her work. The story of Mongfind was also quite interesting, and she was more intriguing a character that the protagonist. In fact, if Ms. Morton were to write Mongfind’s story, I’d pick it up in a heartbeat.

reviews book review lisa morton summer's end

I’m moving temporarily to a house with no internet connection and I don’t have internet access on my phone, so I won’t be posting anything until I get a new apartment with internet. This should be sometime in August.

When I do come back, I should have some more book and software reviews.

More of the Same: A Review of Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake #22)

In this latest book in the Anita Blake series, the reader gets to visit Boulder, CO and see Micah’s family. Micah’s father is sick from an infection derived from a zombie bite, his flesh rotting away. That’s interesting. It seems Hamilton was inspired by the recent trend of zombie books and films that treat zombies as being infected with a disease, and that would have been great, if she’d continued to follow through in that direction. That would have been something genuinely different and refreshing for the series, but this was just like every other book in the series. Too much like the rest. Though it was still a pretty decent plot, especially if you compare it to the last dozen or so books. It even would have made for a solid addition to the series, except for one thing.

The book should have been much shorter.

It wasn’t the sex that made it too long this time. In fact, the sex didn’t feel as overdone or out of place in this one as it has in so many other novels in this series. The ardour gives it purpose. Though I do wonder what happened to the other methods she was learning to feed the ardour. And I still skipped over it when reading. There were two reasons for that, the first of which is just that I’m totally burnt out on Anita-Vampire-Wereanimal orgies. I just can’t read any more than I already have in all of the other books. Hamilton has beat that dead horse near into the ground at this point.

The second reason is just that the book was too long, and not for a good reason. Skipping the sex scenes meant there was one less thing to take away from the plot. There’s too much explanation, too much discussion, and too much repetition. She repeats the descriptions and histories of the supporting characters more than once in a single book, which is extremely frustrating for loyal readers to slog through.

Not only this, but Anita’s men repeat things that have been told to her in other books (she has to obey the rules of vampire politics, she won’t let her bodyguards protect her, etc.). Part of this problem is due to lack of development in Anita’s character; she hasn’t grown so they continue to rehash the same topics over and over again. The constant discussion about the men in Anita’s life and their issues is tiresome and overplayed. Not only that, but it distracts and takes away from the plot. I kept screaming in my head for them all to shut up and let the plot progress, because it was really that frustrating.

Asher has replaced Richard as the guy who won’t get onboard and is therefore rocking their happy polyamorous boat. He’s become a whiny liability, and therefore completely unlikable, and the whole thing is growing tedious. All the more so, because she already wrote this with Richard. Resolve it and move on already.

Another aspect that Hamilton has done to death is the grief Anita gets from other law enforcement officers about her sex life and/or being the bigger badass. Is it realistic that she’d get grief? Probably. But when it becomes as monotonous as it has, that’s a sign that the author should sacrifice realism for readability.

Anita’s breasts grew several sizes since the beginning of the series to a ridiculous Triple-E. A 5’3” woman with EEE-sized breasts would look completely disproportioned, especially if she’s a curvy, athletically fit and not overweight, like Anita. I could have overlooked that (it probably is possible, not likely, but possible), but she wears regular lacey bras to chase monsters around? Her breasts would be in the way, and not to mention, working out without a sports bra actually hurts. And that doesn’t even begin to delve into the back pain she’d suffer with breasts that big. Ridiculous.

The book wasn’t all bad. Hamilton’s voice is still strong and highly readable; it engages like few writers I’ve ever read. The supporting characters are all vivid and interesting enough, and the world-building is as phenomenal as ever. That is Hamilton’s greatest strength as a writer, she’s got an incredible gift for building detailed and interesting worlds. That’s what made this series a hit, and probably what’s continued to carry it, even as the quality of the novels suffers. The problem for Hamilton is that even stellar world-building only takes you so far.

It wasn’t a terrible book, especially compared to some in this series, it was just far too much of the same stuff that’s in last 10 books in this series.

That said, it may be the last Anita Blake that I read.

2 notes anita blake laurell k. hamilton urban fantasy book review vampires Affliction

Ask me anything


I downloaded Focus Writer from CNET the other day and it didn't set off my virus scan and I've had no problems. You can let the other questioner know. :3

Thanks so much for the information!


Ask me anything


I downloaded "FocusWriter" and "WriterMonkey" from one of your posts and they're both .exe. Usually, I don't trust these types of programms and I wanted you to tell me if they have a virus or something.

I’ve never used any of those programs (I mention that in another post), and I don’t know where you downloaded them from. However, they’re both on CNET, and I’ve never gotten a virus when downloading from their website. I did get adware once, but it was easily uninstalled.

WriteMonkey on CNET

FocusWriter on CNET

You may also want to check the reblog comments on that post, because people mention both, so you can ask them where they downloaded it from.

Hope that helps.


Storybook: More Frustration than Function (Review)

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The first thing you notice when you open Storybook for the first time is that it’s not user friendly. The interface is complicated and not even remotely attractive, and some of the language makes it even more difficult (primary objects, secondary objects, etc). And one of the elements of the scene object is the “strand”, and there’s no explanation about this element. It required googling to figure out that this just refers to a plotline. This is the kind of program that will take a lot of time to figure out, and that’s a hindrance in a writing program.

The program does have a lot of features though; it allows you to create scenes, characters, locations, ideas and items. It also allows the writer to add tags these elements, and the scene creator includes a section to add specific dates. The drawback to this is if you don’t add a date, the program labels the scene with the date it was created. This will create problems when you go to view your project in the chronological view. It also offers a book view (see below), and while both offer a useful way to view your project, but they may be more of a distraction.

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There is a basic word processor that allow you to paste or type in text. There’s also an Editor function, but it’s hard to figure out if there’s anything to it beyond a word processor. These important things that are things you can’t get in the web-based programs. But there is one huge drawback to Storybook.

You can’t export any of your work unless you pay for the Pro version.

This costs $39.99 and allows you to print and export in various formats, use many different types of charts, and the use StoryBook’s Memoria tool. It’s not a bad price for a piece of software, but this lack of export ability really limits the functionality of the free version. There’s also a full column ad in the free version that takes up space, which can be problematic when space is already limited.

Frankly, there was more frustration than excitement with this program. It’s not user friendly, the language is needlessly complicated in some parts, and learning the program would take so long it would distract from writing. It does offer writers a way to organize their thoughts and stories, and it offers this mostly for free. The program automatically gets points for that, but there are other programs that do the same.

When there are programs that offer more and aren’t as frustrating, there becomes no reason to choose Storybook.

writing writers storybook novel writing l&o software novel software writing software reviews

Likeability and Protagonists, the Never-ending Debate

Yesterday, Writer Unboxed hosted Andrea Lochen, writer of The Repeat Year, who discussed the concept that female protagonists, specifically are expected to likeable. And not just likeable, but someone with whom the reader would like to be friends.

I wholeheartedly disagree with that latter point. Look at Scarlet O’Hara. Sure she was tough and smart, and I loved her for that, but would I want to be her friend? No. She’s also ruthless and manipulative. I did want to follow her story though (disclaimer, I haven’t read the book, just saw the movie a dozen times).

I don’t need to want to be friends with a protagonist, I need to want to follow them through their story. That’s the kind of likeable I want to achieve when I write, and want to see when I read. If I don’t “like” your protagonist enough to follow them through a book, then I won’t.

I recently read a book detailing Ted Bundy’s life. It was nonfiction, but he was the protagonist for all intents and purposes. Did I want to be friends with him? Hell no. Did I even really like him? No. But did I find him interesting enough to keep reading? Hells yeah.

If you’re a reader that reads to find friends (in books), that’s fine. Keep doing whatever makes you happy. But I wouldn’t recommend to any writer developing a protagonist, male or female, with that in mind. That makes it harder to let your protagonist make mistakes, to hurt someone, or to generally have flaws. And those are the things that make a character realistic, more human.

Not to mention that your antagonist ought to be just as engaging as your protagonist. And really, would you want to be friends with Hannibal Lector? Or Voldemort? Of course not, but you should want to follow them almost as much as you want to follow the protagonist. Though this importance does change, I think, depending on genre.

I’m not even going to get into the double-standard issue and sexism, because that would just take too long.

So what do you think? Do you feel your protagonist needs to be friend material?

2 notes writing writers protagonists characters

jslo21:

laurw:

RIP James…

RIP James - lots of heavy hearts and prayers go out to your family.

(Source:laurw)
Reblogged from jslo21

Need a Writing Program and Don’t Want to Download? Hiveword Has You Covered (Review)

This program’s long name is the Hiveword Online Fiction Organizer, and that’s a pretty accurate title. It has no word processor, it’s not meant to be your sole writing program. Hiveword allows you to organize scenes, characters, settings, items, and plotlines, and connect all five in a web-based program. This means there is nothing to download.

One interesting feature of this program, that I haven’t seen in others, is that it gives you an example project when you first log-in: Harry Porter and the Guitar of Fire. This is a nice feature for users who don’t know where to start, or just want to explore the program.

The character section is pretty standard, though being broken down into four sections (see below), it allows for more detailed information than many other programs. Psychological includes likes, dislikes, wants, etc. and the Misc. section includes birth and death info, and a section for unusual information. These specific areas to fill-in can help writers who are struggling to flesh-out their characters. image

Hiveword also includes a basic name generator, and there’s a name generator for settings as well, though these appear to be real places in the world.

The scene section is also pretty standard. It has a sorter which lays-out the titles of the scenes in a very visual manner that’s similar to using index cards. It also  allows the writer to view his/her scenes organized by plotline, which could prove extremely useful. And like most writing programs, it allows you to add characters and settings to scenes.image

The plotline section seems to be a particularly useful feature that allows the writer to list and organize his/her plotlines. This could be extremely useful to first time novelists, because keeping it all straight is not as easy as it looks. Hell, that could be useful to novelists of all levels. And it allows the writer to indicate which plotlines are main plotlines.image

The other strong points are that the program designers seem to be open to suggestions and requests from users. And Hiveword gives users access to My WKB, Writer’s Novel Base, which is described as a search engine for writers. Basically it’s a database of articles on writing. That is a nifty thing to have.

Hiveword is not without it’s flaws though. It will probably be time consuming to initially set-up for a project, which is problematic for writers with little time. There are no word processor or chapter features, and the latter is especially limiting.  Also, the export options are limited to Word, but for a free program that’s pretty good.

The interface is pretty simple and basic enough that it doesn’t distract from it’s purpose. All in all, it’s very strong for a web-based program, and if you’re reluctant to download or you use multiple computers for writing, this may be a good option.

3 notes hiveword writers writing x files writing software reviews

Lit Lift: A Web-based Writing Program with a lot of Glitches (Review)

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Lit Lift is an extremely basic writing organization website that claims to allow users to write and share work, but actually does very little. It’s possible there is some construction going on, but the only feature that appears to be available right now is the organization part.

This is what it looks like.

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This program allows you to create multiple novels with as many settings, characters and items as you like. The character page is neatly organized with a handful of sections that don’t overwhelm like many of these programs tend to do. The first time I tried this program, I couldn’t get to those sections. They were grayed-out. Now though, they seem to be working, see below.

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The setting and item sections simply let you enter a name and description, which seems to be the standard. The program doesn’t allow you to keep characters, settings or items segregated by books though. This becomes a problem when you have multiple books. Say you’re on your third book, and you’ve got twenty characters a piece for the two previous books. By the time you start creating and adding characters to book three, you’re scrolling through 40 plus characters. That’s unwieldy and a waste of precious time.

One nice feature is a very basic name generator. Pick the number of names you want and the gender, hit the buttom, and bam, you’ve got a list of potential character names.

Unfortunately, there is no option to create or organize scenes, no timeline features, and no word processor. The website does claim to have a word processor and outlining features as part of the program. This brings me to the biggest issue with this program.

On Litlift.com, the links to the blog and FAQs page are broken. Neither take you to anything but an error page. I sent an email to the address provided for reporting bugs about the blog and FAQ page issues and issue with the character section, and I never heard back from them.

That was ten days ago.

Yesterday, I googled “Lit Lift FAQs” and was taken to a page for Lit Lift that doesn’t look anything like their website. See below.

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This .info page is where they say you can outline and write your story in the program, as well as share it in the Library feature. I was unable to find any of those features. And the only way to use the program is by going to the .com site, to which the .info site links. The blog looks brand new and the FAQs page has only seven question and answers. This is what led me to wondering if it’s under construction.

That’s no excuse.

If they aren’t finished, then they shouldn’t have gone live, and if they really needed to go live for testing, they should have made sure they didn’t show up in search engines. I known from designing websites that that’s possible. Furthermore, they don’t send you a confirmation email when you sign up, nor give you any options to retrieve a forgotten password. Not to mention that they never answered my email.

That’s poor customer service.

Maybe this website will be great when it’s owners have themselves together, but right now there are much better, less confusing tools out there with better customer support.

I do not recommend this website to my fellow writers.

litlift wriiting writers writing programs reviews web-based lit lift