Tears in Rain

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By: Rosa Montero

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

When I read the blurb on the back of the cover, and it said “Inspired by the movie Blade Runner”, I knew it was a book that I needed to read.  I’ve always been a fan of Blade Runner, although I haven’t read the book (don’t hate me), and so something inspired by the movie, that was about bionic clones called replicants, sounded like it was off to a good start.

Set in a future world where political and social lines have been broken, redrawn, and then broken and redrawn again, we are led into the story by detective Bruna Husky.  Montero does an excellent job of keeping the pace of the book moving, while filling the world she’s created.  It’s a world, significantly advanced from ours to be unrecognizable, and yet has many parallels.  Corruption, greed, and crime still fill the streets and back offices.  When a replicant shows up at Husky’s door and tries to kill her, it sets Husky off on a case that could affect the course of several nations.

Tears in Rain was originally published in Montero’s native Spain, and her native language, Spanish.  It’s been brought to us by Amazon’s amazoncrossing imprint, and translated.  While I found a few places where the translation didn’t come across as well as it probably should have, the majority of it was very good.  It’s hard to tell how much of the writing, and style is Monteros and how much is in the translation, but it came out very well.

If you’re a fan of Blade Runner, and would like a quick foray into a similar world, give Tears in Rain a try.  It’s a good detective novel on it’s own, and the addition of the Science Fiction elements only makes it better, in my opinion.

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Jeremy Shipp’s Writing Fiction Bootcamp

If you’re an aspiring writer, you might want to check this out.  It always pays to learn a little something more about your craft.  And whether you think of Jeremy Shipp as your peer or as your better, you probably won’t find a fiction class of this caliber, for this price, anywhere else.  A little info about the class:

This fun, intensive 8-week course is perfect for writers who want to hone their craft and polish their work for publication. Through writing exercises, lectures, and feedback from your instructor and fellow classmates, you will grow as an author and refine your own unique voice and style. After you finish the course, your muse will thank you with a dinner and a movie.

The course will consist of the following activities:

-Read lectures spawned by your instructor’s twisted mind that explore the craft and business of writing
-Write one short story
-Write one first chapter of a novel
-Present your work for critique by instructor and classmates
-Rewrite the story and chapter
-Complete imaginative and challenging writing exercises every week, which will be critiqued by your instructor

The class is entirely virtual, and has no set schedule within the time frame, so it fits around your schedule.  The class runs from January 3rd through February 28th.  A full eight weeks!

I’m sure by now, you’re wondering how much it is.  And that’s where the story gets really good.  The whole shebang is only $149.  Like I said, you’ll have a hard time buying a fraction of this sort of thing for that money elsewhere.

If you’re interested in the class, you can drop Jeremy an email at bizarrobytes [@] gmail [dot] com

Checklist of Fiction Writing

Jessica Page Morrell has a blog!  In case the name doesn’t ring any bells, she “Between the Lines: Mastering the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing“, which I deemed to be the best book on writing that I’ve ever read.

In any case, you really should probably subscribe to her blog, it’s got some tasty tidbits available.  For instance, she recently posted the Fiction Checklist.  It’s a checklist of some basic things that should exist in your fiction.  I don’t think it’s meant to be such a checklist where if you miss one or two that your writing is trash, and it certainly isn’t meant as an all-inclusive checklist, but it has some very nice points to make.

Writing for Writing’s Sake

Writer’s block.  Such an ominous phrase.  Even more so if you are a writer (or fancy yourself one).

I’ve spent my fair share of time hiding behind that wall, staring at a blank notebook or white screen, unable to pick up the pen or peck at keys on my keyboard.  And truthfully, sometimes the words just won’t come.  But, writer’s block is not that scary.  You just have to know how to go around it.  Not through it.  Around it.

I’ve found that trying to go through it can be catastrophic.  Eventually, you bend your quill on the wall and walk away thinking you just don’t have the tools.  Not so, but it certainly feels that way.  So, I go around it.  And it works.  Of course, going around your block can be almost as difficult as going through it.

What do I mean by going around your block?  Write for writing’s sake.  It doesn’t even matter what.  If you’re truly desperate, you can open up your dictionary and writing a short sentence about each entry.  (Aardvarks are a funnily named animal.) (Baboon is even more funny. Especially if you pronounce it Bah-Boon.)  Find your grocery list.  Write a sentence about each item.  (Milk is white and contains calcium, which is good for your bones.)  (Bread is a wholesome food.  Unless you have Celiac’s Disease.)  If you’re feeling uber adventurous, write a paragraph about how the food makes you feel. Or how you feel about the animal.

If you want to stay in a more fictional bent, cruise on over to CNN or Fox News.  Take the first story that catches your eye.  Now write a fictional short of a few paragraphs about the situation.  Mud Slides in California?  Write about a boy caught in a truck bed of a truck that is being pushed down the hill towards a cliff.  What does he feel?  How is he saved?  Is he saved?  Snow storm in Texas?  Write about a 40 car pileup and how the people at home react when the people in the pileup don’t show.  Who’s mad at their husband/wife/other for not showing up for Timmy’s basketball game?  Who immediately expects the worst.  Then, write about their thoughts and feelings when they find out what really happened.

I think we get stuck too often behind the wall with the phrase “write what you know”.  Yes, that is always best; but much like a diet or a workout regimen, if we only eat the stuff we like (“know”) or only do the exercises that we like (“know”), we’ll end up fat and out of shape.  So too will our writing engine end up fat and out of shape.  Sometimes, you’ve got to push yourself to stretch your boundaries and exercise your imagination.  And that probably is going to mean writing outside of your realm of knowledge.  We’re not looking for Hugo level results.  Heck, make stuff up.  (A UFO caused the pileup on the snowy highway in Texas.)

Sometimes you have to just write for writing’s sake.