Friday, November 13, 2015

Getting back into the swing of things

I have been remiss with my blogging.  I apologize.  I have a very good excuse, however.  I got married.  And if anyone has ever attempted to plan for a wedding involving more than two people, you will know what I'm talking about.  It just has this way of occupying all of your spare time.  And I was a very low maintenance bride!

Anyway, it's done.  And I finally feel like I have recovered from the events along with the eight hour time difference of our honeymoon destination.  I can be in sync with the planet once more.

I'm looking forward to being a writer again.  During all the hubbub I made a point to keep writing a little each day but nothing else.  I was out of the loop and I missed it.  I enjoy staying on top changes to the publishing world and blogging.  I like the satisfaction I glean from regularly producing new work.

So I'm back!  And hopefully I'll be able to start hammering out some reviews for those of you who are waiting on one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Half Decade Anniversary

I did it!  I hit five years of being a self-published author.  I feel especially proud of this milestone.  If you can say you did five years of anything it's significant.  A five year relationship is definitely long-term.  Writing for me at this point has just become a way of life.  It's a part of my work day that I do no matter what.

Earlier this year I got engaged and wedding planning activities have a way of just consuming free time and mental energy.  I couldn't keep up with my strict, daily word count anymore.  But you know what?  I needed the break in the schedule.  I switched from daily word counts to just writing daily and it did wonders for me mentally.  I'm making less because I'm publishing less but I'm enjoying the process more now.

Coupled to all this, my beta reading business has been increasing.  Beta reading really helps me to learn and process the dos and don'ts of writing.  I think it's because while I'm writing I'm in the creative zone.  But really examining someone else's writing gives me new perspective.

I feel like this past publishing year was a time of learning.  I don't think I've made any writing technique breakthroughs yet but I can feel like I'm getting close to that point.  Backing off a little from my grueling word counts let me examine what I was writing more and beta reading has made me more sensitive to things like cliches, plot holes and stale characters.  I just haven't quite figured yet how to 100% avoid all those things.

I'm excited about my learning process.  I feel like I'm approaching the end of my "generic story" phase.  I think every writer has to go through this.  You feel a need to write but lack the skills to tell the story in your head so it comes out sounding like every other story you've read before.  It takes time to insert that unique twist.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Elements of a Short Story

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

To Teach is to Learn Twice

I'm a logical soul.  Yes, I have bouts of irrational behavior just like the rest of humanity.  But in general I find comfort in rationale.  I will believe something because I've argued all the cons in my head and tried to poke holes in it.

So it's really no wonder that I enjoy teaching the violin so much.  On a daily basis it forces me to rethink and challenge and question everything I know about the instrument.  And after teaching the instrument for nearly seven years I've found that the saying really is true.  "To teach is to learn twice."  I was never attentive to musical details as a student.  Frankly, I didn't care.  But trying to instill artistry in young children has made me care.  I am forced to set the bar high or they will have nothing to aim for.

Interestingly enough, this same principle is now starting to trickle over into my writing.  I started a beta reading service about two years ago.  I had been offering basic reviews since 2010.  However, the beta reading forced me to take that to the next step.  I had to really think about all the little details that was making the story work or not work for me.  Was it the characters?  The dialogue?  The pacing?  All those little things that I had previously glossed over in my own writing now stood out as blaring errors.

Is this making me a better writer?  I'm not sure.  I hope it is.  But it is certainly making me a more attentive writer and that, I believe, is a solid step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review of "Hour of Darkness," a short story by Rocky Rochford

With the Shanzi King's return to Mares looming on the horizon, ready to unleash an eternity of chaos, three of his most trusted and dangerous generals take to the World of Oceania to begin preparations for the return of Darkari, the Dark King of Death. Shaymon, bringer of diseases. Stavros, the always hungry wolf. Mongra, the maker of war. Each one desires nothing more than the total eradication of all humanity. But to do that, each must find a place in the world they seek to destroy.

While I could appreciate the concept behind this first installment along with the author’s budding writing style, this particular tale was unfortunately lacking in story arc. Short story authors have the freedom to explore a larger variety of story telling devices than novelists. If planned out, entire worlds can be explored snippets at a time and through the eyes of a multitude of characters.

However, in order for this to be pulled off well, there still needs to be a larger scope for the reader to grab hold of and this was where Hour of Darkness falls short. It is structured in a few, short chapters that all read disconnected from one another. With no obvious sense of direction by the end and no character to sympathize with, it is difficult to find a reason to continue to the second installment.

The author’s concepts and general writing style were promising enough to offer some redeeming qualities to the reading experience. I would be interested in revisiting his work in a few years time.

2/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

By this story on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review of "Gathering of Souls," a single story from a collection by D.F. Holland

What do a psychic, a family of four and a computer programmer have in common? Unfortunately for them, they reside in the Beaumont House apartments. What appears to be a serene, picturesque apartment complex is actually an otherworldly reality consisting of the supernatural, the strange and the unimaginable.

In “Gathering of souls” ~ An interior decorator buys an antique painting with a heartbreaking, supernatural history that will turn her world upside down.   
The tortured soul trapped in the painting is always a classic a fun horror read. “Gathering of Souls” does a credible job adding the appropriate level of creepiness. You immediately know something is up the second the main character, Holly, hangs the picture up.

The promising start to this story is unfortunately followed by a little too frantic of a pace toward the conclusion. In short stories I don’t expect chapters of description but it is important for the reader to be allowed to marinade for a bit in the terror felt by the characters.

Overall, a good story concept and, for the most part, a fun read that could have been polished up just a bit more.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon.