Crossing the Lines – Sulari Gentill

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Photo Credit to Pantera Press

I want to start by saying that I am in no way paid, endorsed or was offered any kind of compensation in lieu of this review.

Secondly, I will freely admit. I am a lover of Sulari’s work. I have a review for The Hero Trilogy on my computer waiting to be posted, but between work, school and issues with WordPress it hasn’t happened. I am yet to read the Roland Sinclair series, but they are on my to read list.

From the moment, she posted the cover reveal for Crossing the Lines, I knew I wanted to read it. Honest to God, the stark white background with the black offsetting text had me. It was simple and beautiful. Then I ordered it. Well, tried. Turns out there was a miscommunication on how to spell her name. Which lead to her book not being found. But all’s well that ends well. I did get my book. A lovely black covered book so vastly different to the Australian release. HAHA turns out I got the US version. But that’s ok. I still loved it. And I still love looking at it. It’s so pretty and captivating. Yet still has that simplistic approach that dragged me into the Australian cover. And yet, I think the US cover speaks so much more about the soul of the soul and where it leads.

Now onto the book…
Holy crap on a cracker! I spent seven glorious hours reading. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t step away. I had to know what was happening. I may have forgotten to cook dinner. Ignored my husband who was trying to spend some time with me after a long few weeks of study, work and illness. I may have eaten half what I normally would, jumped up from the kitchen table and flew back into the living room to continue reading. Leaving my husband to parent the kids and organise them for bed. I told my 6 year old we weren’t reading The Magic Faraway Tree tonight, because I was busy and I can’t say I remember saying goodnight to anyone. The book had hold of me. And it wasn’t letting go.

Like all readers, like all writers, I can become obsessive. I can become so engrossed in my work that nothing else matters. But never do I become that obsessive I forget to parent. All I can say is ‘Sorry kids. My bad.” But let’s face it. I’m not sorry at all. The idea and basis of the story – a writer who is writing her character’s story, who in turn is writing his author’s story and their worlds become entangled – is different. As hubby said, “It sounds confusing.” And it does. But to read it, not so much. It is enthralling, fascinating and captivating.

I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve read. I think the closest I can come is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The sheer brilliance of story writing and execution places Crossing the Lines in a category all of its own. It sits as one of those stories that you never forget. One that you offer up to anyone, regardless of their genre preference as a work of art, that will leave you questioning why writing hadn’t been taken to this level before. One that stands out on its own and becomes a household name because nothing out there will ever be able to compete. It is and will always be a leader in psychological literature that will be spoken about among coming generations. And would be a worthwhile novel for literature studies within high school/college/university English classes. If only because it pushes the boundaries of the written word and how a story can be told.

As I began to read, I was surprised and a bit confused about the switching between perspectives. There wasn’t always a page break, chapter or anything to define it. But it paid off, the way in which Sulari developed the story, blurring the lines as it progressed rolling it all together so it basically became one was just amazing. I found myself relating closely Madeline. A panster writer who lets her characters tell the story. Someone who sits back and “watches” as the story plays out in her mind. Typing out what she sees. Never having any idea who did it or what will happen, until that vital moment when it’s revealed. The writer who is as much of a reader as they are a transcriber. One who gets heavily invested in their story.

I laughed, cos let’s be honest; I do that…and that… and that…and… I definitely don’t do that. Madeline’s relationship with her character reached levels that made me question if I had misunderstood the storyline. At times, I found myself wondering if Edward was real. Was there going to be some kind of twist at the end. Is she going to discover they are tied together somehow, both human, both seeking out the other? Did I get it wrong? Was Edward “real”? Was Maddie a character? No it couldn’t be, he’d just appeared in her bedroom. Holy crap, what was happening? Jesus Christ, it’s almost 9pm I needed more coffee. I was torn between needing sleep and having to know what the hell was happening. The characters won.

 

By the time I was finished I was questioning my own sanity. And the sanity of many, many writers I know. How involved is too involved? How many times have we blurred the lines to try and understand the character better? How many times have we come to realise we have written ourselves into our stories, even small fragments that end up shaping the book in some way. Letting out emotions unintentionally tell the story. We’re angry, they’re angry. We’re feeling trapped and betrayed, so are our characters. Three hours after I finished, all I could think of was wanting to message Sulari and claim she was an evil woman. Especially given the turn of events at home that evening. I can’t remember the last time I became so mentally obsessed after a book finished.

Oh no, wait… yes I do. I seriously need to know where the Herdsmen settled and what happened to them… We won’t discuss The Hero Trilogy x Outlander x Game of Thrones dreams I’ve had over that issue. FYI I gave myself some awesome answers. Unresolved issues seems to be a theme with this author. Only this time it wasn’t with the plot. It was with my own sanity.

I became immersed in the fast paced ending, the way in which the lines blurred and Maddie’s perception on reality escalated, that when I finished the book – which ended in a gaping, wide eyed “holy crap” gasp as I looked to hubby. He responded with something, but honestly I don’t know what it was – it was like coming down of some kind of exhilarating high. My mind spun, my heart race and I was still going well into the night. This sense of light headed giddiness that you face as you come back down to earth took me over. I felt like I had been absorbed for days, with little food and water. And yet, it was only seven hours. Even now. I can’t even begin to fathom just how much this book has suckered me in. I have so many people I want to run it over to and say, read this! Now! Here I’ll take you kids. I’ll go fill in a work. You sit here and read this! There won’t be any regrets.

Well… maybe not for my non-author friends. My writer friends may start with some personal questions about their own character involvement.

As a mother, I can safely say my kids can read it. Yes, there’s mention of sex. But it is implied, mentioned and the focus shifted elsewhere. It was refreshing to read a book what didn’t have detailed sex scenes that left me disappointed because I knew my teens would enjoy it but couldn’t read it as a result of half a page or more giving detailed descriptions on every stage of sexual intimacy. Sulari kept the focus on the story line, on the parts we needed to know. She didn’t allow for sex to be used as a filler which has just added to my love of the book. As it has now made this series suitable for pretty much everyone.

It is well worth the read. I cannot recommend this enough. I love books that leave you questioning things, society, life, rules, books that give more than just a story. Ones which enhance, embrace and encourage critical thinking and looking outside the square. And this book does that. I give it 5 quills/ stars. No hesitation, no debating. Straight up five.

You can read more about the author on her website Sulari Gentill. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can purchase her books through Pantera Press here in Australia, and Crossing the Lines can be purchased in the US through Poisoned Pen Press. It can also be purchased through your local bookstore, but you may have to order it in.

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It’s all in my head…

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Image Credit The Write Practice

School holidays are happening here, which is great. I love having the kids home and given the recent weather and storm front that went through it was all good timing. Two days without power, no phone line for a week, loss of mobile and data coverage it was a bit of a techno nuts nightmare. Our small town got hit with a small tornado, a couple of streets from my house. It removed some roofs, ripped up some trees and fences and worst yet, flattened our netball club rooms. Thankfully no one was hurt and that the netball club was already in the process of building a new club room so providing the damage to that wasn’t too great it won’t play havoc on next year’s season.  My own home did extremely well, we had no damage.

Bar a cricket ball through the side of the house two days prior…thank you Mister 11, it was greatly appreciated. But still it’s not the worst thing that could have happened and we managed to put up a temporary patch the day before the rain hit.

All this has obviously affected my ability to write and edit. It has not, however, stopped my mind from going into overdrive and plotting more story lines. I have actually hit the point where I want to turn it off. Just for a little bit so I can focus on what I am currently doing or should be doing.

The other night resulted in me “putting out the call” to my military advisor to check a couple of things for a new idea I’m toying with, which then lead to him agreeing and adding stuff, which lead to me going OMG but what if… and poor hubby shaking his head.

Now I have to decide if I am going to continue to use it towards my original sci-fi/fantasy storyline or create two completely different story lines: one sci-fi/fantasy, one dystopian.

Decisions, decisions…

Then there is the matter of Compliant. My original dystopian novel. I did this stupid thing and trialled the first two chapters in a different perspective. I was bored. Anyway, it turned out so much better than the original and I rewrote the entire thing. Problem is, it’s already in submission. I am now debating on whether to email the publisher and beg for them to remove the original and replace it with the new one. I know it’s a long shot but you never know.

So while battling those two issues, I am drafting the main plot ideas for parts two and three of Binary, re-writing Battle for Terra, continuing with Battle for Terra (Book seven is under construction. I keep crying so it’s being delayed), plotting the new spin off (cos well I’m that much of a glutton for punishment! But it’s good, really good!), I have two new storylines for Compliant I am waiting to write, Rise of the Dragons has another two parts waiting to be written; along with the most epic battle scene. I have another part or more to write for Solomon’s Secret and another seven storylines I’m fiddling with all various genres.

My issue is focusing on one, I will start and then my mind jumps to another manuscript and suddenly I need to write that down, but then back to the other because I needed to finish that.

The mind of a writer is a busy thing. Worse when your characters all want a say, they all have a story to tell and they all demand attention. NaNoWriMo is coming up and last year I did over 135,000 words during the month of November. This year, I am away at my sons SAPSASA for a week so it will cut into my time and with how scattered my brain is, I am not sure I will even crack the 50,000. Here’s hoping it all settles and I can get my mojo on.

I have tried stepping back from the keyboard, but that let more thoughts in. I think I am going to need to force myself to pick one and finish it.

How do other writer’s focus? What do you do when your mind is busier than your fingers?

Bec

Who said that…

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Image Credit to Oprah website.

I got feedback for Battle for Terra, that suggested changing perspective. Which was fine, in fact the feedback fit with my own thoughts, but I kept the entire series as first person because one of my Beta readers thought it was better as it allowed her to be in the book.

This lead to a rewrite of the first book. And while I’m waiting a few days to read through it again, I thought that I might go through another one of my manuscripts, Compliant. The book was first person and I thought I’d give the first chapter a go at third person (Yes, this is how I spend my bored, can’t think time). Well, it kinda worked really well and I am half way through rewriting it. It also lead to me mapping out the central plots for books two and three. And it put the book I am working on aside for a bit longer.

I have written about different perspectives before (over here). When I first started writing, everything was first person. I have since discovered the romance of words that can come with third person. The way that it can flow and ebb through a story can almost be like the words and the scene it’s setting dancing around a page. It can really change the way something is written.

What’s your favourite perspective? Have you ever rewritten something, changing the point of view? Did it improve it?

Bec
xx

 

 

 

Story of my life… Here’s a writing comp…

I’ve been sick with the flu for the last month, and I kid you not I am done! Seriously how long can it last? Fingers crossed it’s on the way out.

Anyway, I haven’t been up for writing much. I can barely handle looking at a screen for more than a couple of hours without a headache. As a result, I haven’t been able to finish a story. They all start great and then it’s all down hill from there. So I took to editing my old manuscripts.

Does anyone else ever read over their work and go…”Seriously, Word, what’s up with that?” Why is there double words like the the, or words missing that you could have sworn were there last time? I am beginning to feel like I’m either going crazy or Microsoft Word has a mind all of its own.

Anyhow…

The Ampersand Prize with Hardie Grant opens Thursday, you can find it HERE on their website or through Twitter.  Or through the post I posted earlier about it.  It opens September 1st, closes September 16th.

I am thinking of submitting one of two manuscripts. I just can’t decide which one. Fingers crossed a couple more coffees will help with that or I may spent the next two weeks contemplating and miss out. Given my current mind set, that is most likely.

I did consider submitting a story to a publishing house but panicked and reconsidered, because I didn’t know if it was the right one. I even considered offering them access to my cloud drive and telling them to enjoy themselves. But I get the feeling it may not lead to a publishing contract. One can dream. With 10 completed manuscripts and eight started something might interest someone. Or not.

If you are looking at submitting to the Ampersand Prize, do it. There’s no harm in it and it’s a great way to get your name out there, have someone read your work and who knows you may be lucky enough to have it published. My fingers are crossed for you.

And now for a detailed description of my day…

Image Credits to The Funny Beaver 

Bec
xx

REVIEW: The Book about Nothing, Nothing at all by Yew Ish

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Photo credit to Amazon.

I was asked to review a short book by the author Yew Ish, titled “The Book about Nothing, Nothing at all.” I will admit it’s a short review and I’m sorry but that, but given the content it was hard to write up a detailed one, without giving away the basis of the book.

I have to say I did enjoy it. I opened it to have a look at the length, style, heaviness of reading after three hours worth of academic reading and study. It was a breath of fresh air and I will admit I found it amusing, light hearted and it definitely earned a smile.

It’s not something that will take hours to read, it is a short story, five minutes tops. So that’s great.

I did find it had a very Dr Seuss style feel to the way it read, which I think added to it.

So I don’t want to give too much away, which given its length and content is hard. So I won’t go into too much detail. But it’s one of those items that you would buy someone as a humorous style gift, think fake lotto ticket or exercise block. It’s entirely comical and enjoyable. But not something you would buy if you wanted a serious, in depth read.

You can purchase it at Amazon and Goodreads. And you can find out more on Facebook and via a youtube trailer.

I can’t give you a rating on it, as well there’s no real story line, character development, plot, etc. But I did just enjoy the simplicity of the book, and it was just so nice to have something so light hearted and easy to read.

Bec

I was given a copy in exchange for a review. But no other endorsement was made.

Ampersand Prize

Images borrowed from Hardie Grant Publishing site.

So this came up in my Twitter feed a few moments ago. Hardie Grant, the publisher behind Billy B Brown, Minecraft books, Winnie the Pooh and more. Are offering a chance for unpublished writers to make their debut.

The Ampersand Prize started in 2012 and is home of winners Erin Gough and Melissa Keil. And is for middle grade and young adult novels. ONE submission per writer.

Entries open THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 1st 2016

Entries close FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16th 2016

So now is an excellent time to start or finish off your project.

Your submission must be in .doc or .pdf format.

You must include:

  • COVER SHEET (authors name, manuscript title, genre, word count, two sentence pitch of your story and a short author bio).
  • ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS- (key plot points, character development and tell them the ending).
  • FULL MANUSCRIPT (page numbers, font size 10 or 12 in a readable font, title in header or footer).

Submissions to be sent to: amersand@hardiegrant.com.au

For more information check out their website Ampersand Prize. Or you can find them on Facebook, Twitter.

Good luck.

Bec

I am in no way endorsed by Hardie Grant, paid to write up or advertise, or even asked to publish this competition. I saw it online and thought you all might be interested.