Friday, August 22, 2014

A Book Review - From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz

Today marks the first of a new addition to the Cyn City blog, I am going to start doing book reviews. The first on the chopping block, so to speak, is from my favorite author of all time Mr. Dean Koontz. It is one of his older novels, From the Corner of His Eye.

This book started out fabulous. It had the descriptive prose and endearing characters that I've come to know and love from Dean. The introduction of the antagonist Junior Cain was shocking to say the least. And this guy got worse and worse. A perverse mind that sees the world in a way in which the evil things he dishes out are twisted so they don't seem so evil anymore. For example: every woman wants him all the time even when in reality they do not.

But here is where it takes a turn. About a 1/3 of the way in I noticed we were spending way too much time with Junior, IMO. I'm all for getting inside the mind of a killer but this was constant. Every chapter was Junior Cain and his bullshit reasoning. It also seemed that things started getting repetitive. How many times can Junior throw up? Or how many times can the brothers of the protagonist feel like something evil is about to happen but they don't know what? We also saw the introduction of new characters that really didn't need to be focused on. It started to drag on and on to the point where I really just wanted to see Junior get what was coming to him. And that's where it failed me.

I don't want to spoil the ending so I won't say exactly what happened but it was a HUGE let down. After all the bad things Cain did to people what happened to him wasn't nearly satisfying enough. It was like watching the edited version of The Hitchhiker on TV where they only show C. Thomas Howell shoot the killer once instead of multiple times. The guy deserved much worse than that after all the torture and murder he put people through!

All in all I have to say that this was a let down. It is the third book I've read from Koontz that I really didn't like at all. Luckily, not in succession. I enjoyed Odd Thomas very much. So I'll just say they can't all be winners and move on to the next read.

If you would like to have a book reviewed please send me a message or leave a comment below! *Please note I actually prefer print books...I'm old school that way.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughts on Robin Williams

*Note: This is a social commentary and there is some strong language in this post.

This week we lost 3 more entertainers, one of them was the talented comedian and powerful actor Robin Williams. I've chosen to write about Robin because of the circumstances surrounding his death and I needed a bigger forum than a Tweet or a FB post because the man himself was larger than life.
Here is a guy who, for all we know, struggled with a bi-polar disorder, addiction, and severe depression most of his adult life as well as Parkison disease which his wife just revealed. I say "for all we know" because how much do we ever really know about another person?

Even those closest to us will only divulge to you what they want you to know. We all have our secrets and we all have our dreams. Robin had his demons but he still went out and entertained with his comedic performances, making you laugh until you cried. His emotional roles brought more tears and sometimes even more tears. We cried again upon hearing the news that he tragically took his own life.
This is where it gets ugly. The media, in an attempt to sell stories, starts asking "why?" or "who did he leave behind?" and ultimately the slap in the face from Fox news and others calling him a coward for taking his own life!
People on social media, safe behind the neon glow of their computerized screens also label him a coward and talk about how rich he was so why didn't he just get help? He was getting help. It's not an overnight fix that's why they call it a struggle. But you sit there and you judge a man you never met and call him a coward. But you went to his movies didn't you? You enjoyed seeing his antics and he made you laugh didn't he? Was he a coward then or only now when it suits your forum?
Unless you are in that persons skin you have no idea what goes on in their life or the struggles they face. Imagine how much pain he must've been in to think that hanging himself would be the only way to make it stop.
My sister killed herself. Does that make her a coward? Say that to my face and I'll break your fucking jaw! She was clinically depressed as well. That doesn't just mean I'm sad - look it up, its extreme and leads you to do things you might not do if in your right mind.
All too often people think they know celebrities because they see them on screen. That's only the side they want to show you. But they are people all the same. People in EXTREME positions with all eyes upon them. Think about it, that's pressure ontop of illness. How well would you cope?
So to those calling Robin Williams a coward I say shut the fuck up and stop talking about things you don't understand. Stop judging. Only God can judge.
Show the man some respect for all the good he did in this world. Let his family and friends and those who loved him mourn for him.
I for one hope he found his peace and I celebrate the great legacy he will leave behind, including Comic Relief and going out to entertain the troops. The countless comedy specials, the hilarity of Mrs. Doubtfire Jumanji, Mork & Mindy, and so on.
The emotional depth of Good Will Hunting, Dead Poet's Society, and What Dreams May Come (which brings me to tears everytime I see it!) And shocking turns like One Hour Photo or Insomnia. The man had limitless range and more importantly, or as important, he had a huge heart! From all accounts he was a giver and he gave so much to everyone else that he just didn't have anything left for himself. Is that cowardice? No, it's sad.
Rest now Mr. Robin Williams, your journey is over. And thank you for the memories!

I would also like to say RIP to Lauren Bacall and JJ Murphy.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chasing the Unicorn

Once upon a time I met a great guy. He was cut from a unique cloth, held all the qualities I admired and even some I didn't even know I appreciated. His introduction into my life was brief but intense and it changed me in many ways.
Unfortunately the Fates did not allow us to remain together and he went back across the seas to his home in Whales. But he left a lasting impression on me, one that I use as a barometer when I meet other guys.
Is that really fair? Yes, because I don't believe in settling for less than what you deserve and lately all I've met are self-obsessed jerks. So using my Welshman as a standard will keep me on a sure and steady path until I meet a man of similar merit.
Why am I telling you all this? Because trying to find your ideal man is alot like writing your ideal book. There are certain qualities only you know need to be in the book to make it work, to make you proud of what you've written. Settling for less than your best writing is like settling for the guy who says "I used to be married but we're separated now so its ok."
It's sooo not ok!
And neither is hurrying through a WIP just to race to the end and see it finished. I've been wanting to do that with my latest fantasy but I'm refraining because I owe the book, and the readers, all my attention to detail.
A book needs to come together organically. You cannot force a story just like you can't force a relationship.
Dean Koontz once said that you can't force a story to be longer or shorter, it will turn out as long or short as needs to be. 
So all of this begs a question: Am I chasing perfection? Maybe. I've always been a bit of a perfectionist but that is only because I demand more of myself than most people. It keeps me driven.
I'm not saying that I'm never satisfied, I'm just saying I know what I want and I go after it. The blinders are off. In life, in art, in relationships, never dull your shine for someone else. You deserve the best...whatever that means for you, go after it!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tips for Successful Writing

Today is a quick update. I've been reading and researching alot of different ways to make FICTION novels stand out from the pack. Here are a few of the most usable tips I found courtesy of Bestseller Labs along with my own personal expression of what those tips mean.

1) Choose your genre so readers can find your books.

This can fall under the old K.I.S.S. method. Keep it simple. Readers are used to certain genres (ie Romance; Fantasy; Sci-Fi; Etc) and within those genres are sub-genres. Its fine to say Paranormal Romance or Dark Fantasy but if you try to get too fancy with Contemporary Pop-Romance Paranormal Chick-Lit, then you'll be stuck in the obscure section of the bookstore/library.

2) Create a unique brand that stands out from the crowd.

This can mean distinctive characters, the narrative, plot structure, setting, style, voice. Deliver something that is uniquely yours that your readers/fans can relate to each of your books. This is also what they mean when they say 'develop your voice.'

As an addition sum up this distinctive point of difference in your tagline. You have a tagline right?

3) Write a series.

This is a new one for me as I've come to realize the power they have. Every time I have a stand alone out on display at a convention the audience inevitable asks me "Is it part of a series?"
The reason why a series is so successful is that readers want to get emotionally invested in the characters. They want to be able to follow them through their adventures, root for them and feel for them. Look at Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Conan, etc. These are all examples of successful series, each with a lead character or group of characters that are present throughout each novel.

4) Know who your reader is and target them.

This goes back to choosing your genre. Readers of each genre expect certain things when they read their favorite books. You want to deliver these things in each novel whether its pace or character, etc.

5) Use your author platform to attract readers.

This goes into how to market and promote yourself as an author. I've written quite a few topics on this throughout my website here and I will be delivering more and more because its a complicated issue in an ever changing career field. The three things you should focus on to begin with are a blog; a Facebook page; and a Twitter account.

6) Commission beautiful book covers that sell. They are the billboard for your book.

This tip is mainly for self-published authors. If you are working with a publishing house they usually have their own cover designer. But I cannot stress this enough: a book cover should represent the uniqueness of your story. It should not be a cookie cutter clipart promotion overpriced at some hatchet designer website. I've seen it time and time again "insert title" and "insert author name" selling for $300 or more! What madness is this? Before you purchase something like that ask yourself how many other people have the same cover. You worked  hard on your novel, the cover should reflect the beauty of the story inside. People are visual creatures and unfortunately they DO judge books by their covers. Do yourself a favor and don't short change your novel when it comes to this. If you need a reliable designer I offer design services through my website 

Have a blessed day and keep writing!

Live Your Dreams,
"Original Cyn"