Monday, July 27, 2015

So I'm a little behind on my review of Amish Vampires in Space.  Life happens.  I'm still reading and thought I'd offer a little progress update.  I'm not as far along as I'd like to be, but that is no fault of the author.  The book is pretty intriguing so far.  It definitely holds my interest in spite of all that is going on around me that pulls me away from reading.

I'm not quite half way and things are starting to really heat up for Congi.  He is a Finder.  That can be taken at face value.  He finds things for himself and for others willing to pay a fair price for his services.  His other job could be best described as janitorial.  He is kind of slimy character, but I think I like him...a little.  He has currently gotten himself into a bit of a pickle and might be about to get caught with his fingers, or his whole body in this case, in the cookie jar.  I think that is probably the least of his worries though.  I'll have to get back to reading to find out what happens to poor Congi.

Meanwhile things are getting tense for Jebediah at home on Alabaster as well.  Seems he is in a spot of trouble with the Elders for dabbling with technology and keeping secrets. Poor Ezekiel is caught in the middle and trying to do the right thing by his people.  He doesn't want to hurt his friend, but what he witnessed was too much to overlook. I don't want to include any spoilers in my review, so I'll stop there.  Let's just say there is definitely something to that secret Jebediah has in the barn.  Even he doesn't have a clue what it is, but everyone is about to find out.

I expected something far fetched and utterly ridiculous going into this, but the book is actually quite good.  I'm already thinking about purchasing the next one.  If you like sci-fi stories that include space travel, you should check this series out.  The pacing is great, the suspense is definitely there, and I dare anyone not to fall in love with all the characters.  I still have a little over half the book to read, so I'm not ready to assign an official star rating yet, but so far it is at a strong 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thought for the day as I sit and watch my mind steadily slip into some distant fog, my sanity sliding just out of reach.

 Life is pain.  You just get used to it.
    -Samantha Cain, The Long Kiss Goodnight

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

After mowing my lawn and stepping into a cool shower, I realized I think I may be having a nervous breakdown.  I don't even remember if I actually washed anything.  I just know I stood in there in tears, frustration, and anger for over 30 minutes before finally shutting off the water and getting out.  While crying, shouting at God and the world, and basically wallowing in self-pity, I came to a realization.  I think I finally understand some of these so-called crazy people who end up addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.  Society tends to call them slackers.  I have neither addiction, but I can understand how easily it happens. Lord knows, I've been told I didn't care about anything and would not amount to anything for most of my life.

It hit me today that the exact opposite is the reality.  The problem isn't that I don't care.  The thing is I don't want to care so much.  Why?  Because caring hurts. It sticks and stings and prods and punches and pulls and tears at the guts until it physically feels like my insides are ripping apart sometimes. I've spent most of my life trying to figure out how to stop all this pain that I can't find any one specific reason for having.  I just know it hurts and it is frustrating.  I want it all to just stop, but I don't know how to shut it off.  I don't want to care anymore.  I don't want to be constantly worried about how to please everyone around me without hurting anyone's feelings.  I've been called selfish more times than I can count by my mom and step-dad over the years.  It is so ingrained in my brain that I constantly analyze everything I do to question if I am placing myself ahead of others. 

I don't say this to place blame on anyone else, but to try explaining where I am coming from and how I arrived at this point in my life where I stood under the spray of a cold shower crying out to God and anyone willing to listen for some solution to this constant misery.  Yes, I take medication for depression.  These episodes are significantly worse without it.  At least I am not so self destructive these days.  Though I do feel I am on a slippery slope, hanging by a thin thread at this point in my life.

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me to simply "not worry about it" when attempting to provide encouragement, I could probably afford to see my psychologist without needing any insurance coverage!  So yeah. Lack of concern for anything in life is not and never has been the problem.  I only wish it were that simple.  What would it be like to live without constantly questioning why I exist in the first place? I wonder what it would be like not to care what others think.  I wonder what it would be like to have no concern for what would happen if I ceased to exist.  Of course this just sets the stage for an endless spiral of questions to which I have no answers. 

So hey, society!  Next time you accuse someone of not caring, stop and think about it from the opposite point of view.  Chances are you got it backwards.  Instead of pointing fingers, offer to lend a hand to help a fellow human who is likely suffering more than you know.  Just because you can't physically see another person's pain or reasons for unacceptable behavior, doesn't mean they aren't there.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yeah, yeah.  So there are already tons of reviews of this book on the web.  I purposely have not read a single one.  I didn't want to go into this with any preconceived notions other than my first thoughts on seeing the cover posted in the TLS den. I took one look at it and said, "That is something I never thought I'd see."

I did read the story behind the book.  I know it came about from a mock cover by publisher Jeff Gerke, created to poke fun at the current Amish craze in Christian Fiction genre. Eventually, Kerry Nietz approached him with an idea for a plot and obtained permission to write the book with no promise on a decision to publish until reading it. The finished product knocked Gerke for a loop, and apparently a lot of readers as well. It even found its way onto Jimmy Fallon's Do Not Read List. (Was going to link to that, but the segment is no longer available. Guess that's what I get for being so slow!)  The book has garnered some pretty good press and a LOT of buzz across the internet.  So I'm a little behind with my review, but I promise you this.  It will be honest.  Hence, my determination not to read what anyone else had to say about it.

Here are my first thoughts after one chapter.

Holy crap!  This is surprisingly good.  I had a hard time putting down my tablet to feed my demanding cats and share my first thoughts here.  I was expecting to read a few chapters and give a brief update with some anecdotes to poke fun at this hilarious idea. The Forward even says not to take it too seriously.  Instead, I find myself itching to get back to the book and find out what happens.

I have so many questions churning in my head right now.  I need to know what secret Jebediah is hiding in the barn, dammit!  Why are the crops declining?  What is happening with the stars and the Morning Nebbit?  (Thank you to the author, for the brief explanations of terminology.  I'd have been totally lost and frustrated without those! And they are added without disrupting flow or making the reader feel dumb. Too many writers irritate me by doing that. Kudos!)  Why is nobody talking about all of this?  Apparently, they all see the changes, but nobody is discussing.  At least not too loudly.  Jebediah's neighbor seeks his opinion on what's happening to the crops.  Jebediah wants to get the elders' opinions. Have they noticed all the changes?  Do they suspect something is up with Jebediah?  Why is Jebediah's wife so exhausted that he told her to stay in bed this morning? Is that somehow connected to all of these changes, or is it another issue entirely?  Maybe he was just being kind to her.  I'm starting to question every little thing now!  That's good writing right there!

So those are my first impressions after Chapter 1.  Questions upon questions.  I have to get back to the book ASAP and find some answers!  Be back soon for an update, or a complete review, if I'm unable to get away before reading to the end.  Oh, and I even like the cow, Clara, too!  Who knew the mundane milking of a cow could be entertaining!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wow. Talk about neglect. I really have neglected my poor blog! Over a year since my last post. I do have an idea up my sleeve for something new though. Keep your peepers on the lookout for some new book reviews coming soon. I'm going to give something a try, but I'm not sure how well it is going to work. In the world of a gazillion book review blogs, I would like to try something completely different. I figure if I want to have a blog that is worthy of attention amongst so many others out there, I'd best come up with something unique. What have I not seen done yet? Coming soon to JC's World of Words: The Strangest Things You Never Thought You'd See in Romance. Or... I Can't Believe Someone Went There!

Some friends have been pointing out some of the strangest subjects in the romance book genre lately. Usually someone will end up volunteering to read the oddest of these and give a review for the group. We call it "taking one for the team," so the rest of us don't have to subject ourselves to the torture. Since so many have been cropping up lately, I'm thinking of featuring those book reviews here on JC's World of Words. So, be on the lookout for some of the strangest subjects that you never thought you'd see in romantic fiction.

I'm not sure if the reviews will all be mine, or if others will submit their reviews for me to post on their behalf. I expect that it will likely be a mixture of both. Stay tuned for things like Amish vampires and Amish space zombies, dinosaur sex (yes, I mean bestiality), and other strange things the dark underbelly of the Romance genre has to offer. If you come across something totally off the wall that you'd like to see an honestly reviewed, feel free to let me know. Better still, feel free to take one for the team and submit your own review for me to post. The stranger the better! Prove to us all that the imagination knows no limits!

Until then...

Happy reading everyone!

Monday, August 26, 2013

     It's been awhile since I've had something infuriate me to the point I felt the need to blog about it. That changed today after I spent about an hour trying to remove some intrusive malware from my laptop.  Oh, I know. I have installed all the wonderful little goodies that are supposed to make the job easier and even prevent most malware from infecting my baby in the first place.  Nothing is perfect, though.  Something always seems to find its way through all the blocks, just to make life miserable until I can get it removed.

      That leads me to today's little gem.  Amazon Smart Search somehow snuck onto my laptop and proceeded to pester me every 2 - 3 minutes to make Amazon Smart Search my default browser.  I didn't even know Amazon has its own browser.  "What new malicious evil is this?" I asked no one in particular, since I'm home alone.  Assuming a new browser tool bar had installed itself, I ran a search of my hard drive for "Amazon" to see if I could find where it was nesting.
     While I'm not a complete idiot where computers are concerned, I consider myself one of those people who knows just enough to be dangerous. When all the Amazon files started filling the screen, I decided more information would be needed before I zapped something important.  Off to Ixquick, I go.  A quick Google scrape later (Ixquick doesn't save any info from search history, while it returns the same results you get when searching with Google, who DOES save ALL of your search history for purposes known only to them.), I find a nice little article on Amazon Smart Search removal. Moments later the pest has been removed safely.  15 minutes and still no pop-up saying I need to change my default browser, so I assume it was a successful uninstall.

     Amazon Smart Search?  Seriously? SMART Search?  What makes it so smart?  This is exactly why I hate GEC.  (That's Giant Evil Corporations, for those who may have wondered.)  What is with people these days?  Can no one think for themselves anymore? I have news for you, Amazon: YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT!  Heck.  Half the time, even I don't know what I want, so how are you supposed to have figured it out?  I do know this.  I don't want Amazon, or any other computer program, telling me what I want. I will decide for myself.  Whose idea was it to call these annoying devices smart, anyway? Smart-car, smart-chip, smart-phone, smart-search...dumb idea!

     I have a theory that this is part of the problem causing society becoming more ignorant.  People are so caught up in letting computers think for them, that they have completely forgotten how to think for themselves.  I won't be surprised to learn that we soon have an app to tell us when we need to pee.  We've stopped teaching basic courses in our schools in order to make room for shoving technology down our kids' throats.  No wonder we are becoming dumber! (For more on this topic, try searching the Archives over at American Thinker.  Some very interesting stuff on the subject there.)
     Said technology is bent on reducing the amount of thought required to use it and making decisions easier by pointing us in its perceived right direction, based on our day to day actions.  Guess how technology gets all that daily information.  Yep. Those good ole tracking cookies.  Oh sure. They're harmless. They won't hurt your computer. They don't collect any Personally Identifiable Information about you.  Have you ever stopped to ask what they consider Personally Identifiable Information?  I personally think tracking what I search on the web and how I use my computer is rather identifiable information about me.  You may not have my address, but you have the address of my ISP, who does have it.  Hmmmmm...

     Try looking at it from a non-technological perspective for a moment.  If I followed you around for a few weeks and wrote down everything you did, but I didn't include your name or address or phone number on the pages that I tucked away in a file folder, do you think I couldn't find you later by using that information?  Would you shrug your shoulders and go on about business as usual when I showed up at your doorstep with a pile of catalogs pertaining to all the things you did over the past month?
     Give me just a moment of your time to show you these wonderful offers that I'm sure will interest you since I know you've been shopping at similar stores this week.  Oh and while we're at it, how about we expand on your knowledge base by checking out some similar items that you didn't show an interest in, but they are actually pretty close to stuff you do seem to like.  No?  Well, what about these other offers?  It's just a few seconds of your time.  It won't take long at all.

     While I'm busy trying to convince you of the benefits of the latest tanning cream, someone else steps up to show you what they discovered while following you around after you visited their store. Their stack of catalogs isn't quite as big as mine, but they also want to take just a moment of your time to show you some things you are sure to need.  Then a third salesman shows up, claiming he isn't there to sell anything, only show you some stuff you might like to try for free. Since you don't seem to mind these other guys standing at your door...  Next thing you know, you have a group of people all trying to crowd into your living room with a stack of pictures to tout their wares.

     This is exactly how malware works.  It isn't inherently evil or destructive.  There is no malicious intent to destroy the function of your computer.  It just wants to collect some information and use it to try to sell you stuff or get you to go to websites that want to sell you stuff.  The problem is that the stack of catalogs gets so big, your computer doesn't have time to do what you WANT it to do. It can't function around the pests that are busy trying to tell you what you want or need.

     No problem, you say.  I'll just hire a bodyguard.  In computer terms, that would be your anti-malware or anti-adware program.  You've already put a security system in your house when you moved in, and you carry homeowner's insurance (anti-virus software with a money-back guarantee).  So you aren't worried about the thugs that want to break in and steal your stuff or destroy your house (virus or trojan files).  You just need a small guard dog to add to that to keep the sales guys from pestering you.  Something to get rid of the trash that your main security guard isn't trained to catch.

     Makes sense, right?  Well, this works okay, except now your computer is really slow, because it is now bogged down with all the scanning and removing going on in the background.  You only have so many resources to use at one time.  You can't stand in your living room all day, listening to a bunch of salesmen tell you what you need to buy next, and your computer can't do the basic functions you WANT it to do, if it is bogged down with all the programs running at once to keep out the stupid malware.

Back to why I hate

     The worst thing about the GEC is that they have so many other little companies attached to them to do their dirty work.  They sit back and sing their own praises about how good they are to you, the customer, while their little side companies are busy clogging up your system with more junk and making your computer work overtime to keep up.  They are very good at keeping you distracted from their evil schemes to the point that they can simply SAY they didn't do it on purpose, and you'll believe them. 

     Sometimes, I KNOW what I want to do online.  If I don't, then I'll figure it out on my own.  I don't need someone else to think for me.  I don't need other programs to tell me what I want to do.  I hire the ones I want to provide specific services.  If I wanted all the other things that keep clinging to important files on my computer, I'd have asked for them.  I DON'T want them.  I don't want to support GEC like Amazon who hide most of the bad stuff they are doing behind other business names they call "affiliates."  Ultimately, there are only a few pockets at the top of the heap that are being lined from all the sheep who are too busy grazing to note the garbage they are spewing right alongside the supposed good stuff they do.

     I could rant on this subject for days, but my smart-phone just told me to go use the restroom, and my computer says my turtle wants to be brought back inside to his tank.  Meanwhile, dinner isn't going to cook itself.  I've yet to find a good deal on a smart-stove or smart-chicken!

Thanks for reading my heavily opinionated drivel!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate good stories getting ruined due to lack of decent editing? *sigh*

I'm nearly finished reading The Haze by Janine Olsson, and it has some really exciting and intense moments, but I'm finding the story difficult to read due to poor spelling and basic grammar issues.  I find myself wanting to seek out the author and ask if I can have a go at editing the book for her. There is no copyright page in the version I downloaded, so I don't know if she used an editor or not.  I honestly don't even remember where I got the download.  I thought it was from Bares & Noble, but that doesn't seem right coming from them either.  I hope it isn't a pirated copy, now that I think about it.  (If it is, I'm sorry, Janine.  It was not intentionally stolen!)

This story took awhile to get off the ground, but now that I am into the meat of the book, I find myself starting to like all the characters.  It's an interesting story involving family betrayal and affairs of the heart.  The main characters are vampires, but we also get to see shape shifters and weres of all sorts.  I find it interesting how the species put aside their animosity and use their differences to their advantage as the situation warrants. I can't really comment on much more since I have yet to finish reading the book, but I will say that I do like the story.  I just wish an editor could get their hands on it, and a more polished version could be released.  Ms. Olsson may find much more success if this were to happen.

It's a shame when someone has such potential and it gets held back because they have no help with such basic principles of writing.  Irritates me to no end.  My mother often chastises me for doing too much editing for free.  Many don't understand why I don't charge more, and this book is the perfect example of WHY I provide such a low rate fee schedule and often do editing for free.

There are so many great stories out there to be told.  There are audiences for any genre imaginable.  Readers will gobble up books in their favorite genre and beg for more as fast as their favorite authors can supply the material.  With the digital age of publication taking hold in today's book market, independent authors have more opportunities for seeing their work published than ever before.  With that, comes a lot of garbage, but there are also a lot of diamonds in the rough that just need a little polish for their target audience.  If I can help those writers get a little closer to their goal by offering an inexpensive editing service to assist them, then that is what I want to do.

It saddens me to read books like Janine Olsson has written when they could be so much better.  So if you get word of this, Janine, please consider finding a helpful editor.  The story is there.  The grammar, sadly, is not.

If anyone out there wishes to contact me about editing, feel free to send me an e-mail  I'll gladly send you a fee schedule, references, and samples of my work.