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Book Review: Stuck in the Game

Hey, everyone!

Today I’m going to post a book review for a fellow blogger and writer, oops, I should say author.

(If you were wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been working on contest entries and manuscript submissions.)

The story is titled, “Stuck in the Game,” by Christopher Keene.

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(image was taken from Amazon)

Note: I was given a copy of the story for this review. I was not paid for writing this. 

I haven’t done an extended book review before, so this is going to be my first one. I decided to divide up this review into three sections:

Plot:

To begin, I’m going to discuss the plot of the story. So, the genre of this book is LitRPG. For those who aren’t familiar with the genre, it’s a subgenre of Science Fiction and Fantasy that describes the hero’s journey within an online computer game. We start the story with the main character, Noah, waking up and finding himself stuck in a Dream Game. After having a car accident, his parents out the Dream Engine is the only way to communicate with him in his unconscious state. Honestly, I liked the opening to the story. For anyone who plays video games, you start at a central point in the character’s  journey. Sometimes that’s the character waking up (cliche, I know), or at the onset of a mission.

Without spoiling the book, I’ll mention a few a few things about the plot I enjoyed:

  • Meeting the different characters was fun to read. Each side character had their own unique personalities and goals.
  • The boss battles were enjoyable. It really felt like reading an RPG to me.
  • The mystery of what happened to the main character’s girlfriend. I thought that plot was fleshed out well.

Here are some things about the plot that bothered me:

  • The twist didn’t feel that shocking, and I felt there were some plot holes.
  • The main bad guy seemed random to the plot, and new characters were thrown in at the end of the book without being mentioned earlier in the story.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the plot. Like with most stories, nothing is perfect, and I wish certain details were fleshed out more.

Character Development:

Again, to avoid spoilers, I won’t mention too much here. I felt Noah only changed in one way during the story. Mostly, he went from avoiding the game to enjoying it. However, I’m not sure if that’s really character growth. He’s stuck in the game, and to survive (not die), he needs to power himself up. Honestly, I didn’t think Noah grew as a person at all during the story. He didn’t learn any lessons, and his views on things didn’t change.

As for the side characters, I only felt one changed during the story. So for character development, I would have to rate this low.

Writing:

If any of you read my stories, you know I’m a descriptive writer so I may be biased here. Don’t get me wrong, the writing wasn’t bad, and it was easy to read, but more description would have been helpful. For the characters, I didn’t get a sense of what they looked like, so it was hard to imagine them. Although, I felt the descriptions of the boss fights and the different realms in the game were well done.

Final Rating:

I’m giving this book 3.5/5 stars. I enjoyed reading it and plan to read the second. I want to know what new boss fights await Noah as he learns more about the Dream Game. If you like videos games, or like animes such as “Sword Art Online,” and “.hack,” then this book is for you.

Are Serialized Stories the Next Big Thing?

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Hey, everyone! Today’s post is long, but I hope you’ll still enjoy it!

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First, I want to start off and say I haven’t been in the writing world that long. If you have been writing for 10+ years, then you’ll know more than me. However, I am noticing a trend towards posting serial stories online, and there are companies trying to capture this market.Which by the way, it’s very popular in some Asian countries.

You may be wondering what I’m talking about. Well, if you didn’t know, there are a few new websites offering to pay writers for their work. As in, if you post your serial story online, you can earn some money. Now, whenever you tell someone they’ll earn money doing what they enjoy, people jump on the opportunity. So, let me explain how this all works. Two websites, Radish and Tapas, will pay writers for posting their chapters (fyi, they are both startups) From what I’ve seen, writers online feel it’s an honor to post on these sites because you have to be “invited.”

Sorry guys, but here is my feeling on that:

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Why do I feel this way? Well, it’s simple, these websites are only inviting writers that already have huge followings online. Ok, so I know you are thinking, “But Aka, that makes sense.”

And yes, I agree with you. However, it’s clear these websites are exploiting other people’s hard work to make themselves known. Not only the writers, but also the readers, too. Most of the writers getting “invited” already offer their work for free. I get that readers will want to support the writers, but let’s be real for a second. For every 20 readers you have, only about, maybe 3 will probably pay for content. The same could be said of receiving comments. When I posted on Wattpad, my chapters would get 500-1000 reads. Guess how many people commented, like 10. Frankly, that’s one issue I have with this model. My next issue is how the “paying writers” works.

For example, you post your story, and if readers want access to your newest chapter early, they can pay a small fee (between 1 cent to 99 cents) or they can wait 5-7 days for the chapter to be released for free. Of course, a percentage of that goes to the writer. It sounds good, right? But in today’s world, most of the people who read online are teens and young adults. Well, most teens don’t have money, and if they do, they don’t have a lot of it. I’ve actually heard writers who use these websites say that don’t make much money. Generally, it’s pocket change.

Another factor is if you have to wait for chapters to be released for free, you can just read something else. In the internet age, you can binge watch and binge read thousands of different shows and books. And if a teen or young adult lives at home, it’s more likely they have access to Netflix, Hulu, Kindle Unlimited, etc. So, they have many avenues of entertainment while waiting for FREE chapters.

To illustrate my point, think of the game, Candy Crush. When it first came out, it was huge! And yeah, some people spent money on the game, but it also reached a wider audience. If I recall, it was a unique game idea at the time. In fact, I remember people would ask others if they spent money on extra moves. If the person said yes, the instant response was, “Why would you spend money on that?” Sadly, the same thinking can be said of stories online, especially since most work online for free is first drafts and unedited.

As writers, we are dealing with other entertainment mediums where people can easily binge read while waiting for our content. More importantly, you can get published books off Amazon for .99 cent to $2.99, plus no waiting for the next chapters. Or you can go to your local library, which I’m sure most teens and young adults still in school do.Not to mention you can also read manga and comics online, too. Last time I checked, the anime industry was suffering because so much anime can be found online for free now.

Oh, and I did check out Radish for myself. Of course, since writers need to be “invited,” I was thinking there would be quality stories on Radish, right? I was wrong…so wrong. I saw a book of BDSM one shots that caught my eye and thought meh, this should be an interesting read. And well, the words “one shot” should have given away who was the writer of these stories. Needless to say, the first story I read was about a 16 (or 17 years old, I can’t remember for sure) year old that was in high school and her boyfriend, who she called, “Daddy,” dominated her life. Yes, you read that right, my fellow writers, it was a high schooler and her relationship with “Daddy.” I don’t want to get into the subject of BDSM high school stories, but you catch my drift. And yes, this was a “trending” story on Radish.

My thoughts were:

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(Yes, it was scarier than the trolls in Nilbog)

Don’t get me wrong, anyway a writer can make money is good, but I wouldn’t use these sites as your saving grace. From what I’ve noticed, it’s best to still pursue publication through Amazon or a traditional publisher. Yeah, use the little money making sites on the side, but don’t hold out for a huge payout. At the end of the day, if you want to be seen, you have to reach the big boys and make a name for yourself.

So, I’ll let you decide what avenue you feel is best for your writing, but be cautious of serialized websites promising to offer you money for your work. Please, if you have experience with either Radish or Tapas, please leave a comment because I would love to read a different perspective.

Question of the day: As a writer, would you be willing to try a model like Radish or Tapas, or would you rather do self-publishing or traditional publishing?

Types of Antagonist in Fiction

Before, I wrote a post on villains, but I would like to expand that topic in today’s blog post. First, sorry I’ve been MIA for a few days. Like with all social media, WordPress was keeping me distracted from something more important in life.

You may ask, “Aka, what’s more important than blogging and sulfuring the internet?”

I respond, “Writing my story, of course!”

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days. I’ve been working on Love for an Angel chapter 15, so I can post it next week. And alas, I also start a new job tomorrow. While I am thrilled to have a new opportunity, I am also saddened to be leaving a full 12 hour day of writing behind. However, enough of my ramblings, on to antagonist!

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Just like the gif said, every story needs a good villain. In this post, we’re going to explore the different types of antagonist in fiction.

So, depending on the genre you write, can depend on what type of antagonist you have. For example, I’ve noticed young adult fiction always has the dun…dun…dun…EVIL ADULTS!

Yes, the classic evil adults. Evil adults usually consist of power craving, old ideas that teens don’t agree with, or just plain evil to be evil. O_o Personally, I don’t like the plain evil to be evil bit, but if you are going to go this route, try to write it well.

Stories – bestsellers, mind you – that have the classic evil adults are:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

That evil King who is stuck in his ways is against American Singer (yes, you’ve read that right, the mc’s name is American Singer. >.>)

Cress by Marissa Meyer

This time, it’s a power angry Queen. For shame on her going against a group of teens because she wants to stay on the throne! She is older, wiser, and has been a queen for years. However, those teenagers outsmarted her and all her soldiers. Hmm…

Last, but not least:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

What?! You are telling me the Queen and King want to keep us slaves to them so their power will stay intact? Well, us teens will take down a whole kingdom. Why? Because we can!

Ok, all joking aside, you do see the pattern here. I won’t analyze the evil adult because that should be understood, their evil because they desire their powers – simple.

Frankly, I find this to be the easiest antagonist to write. In Clash of Tides, I do have an evil adult, well, I have a few. Elena’s mother is evil because she wants money and power (see what I did there^^). And Assan’s mother, the mermaid queen, well, she is evil for other reasons I won’t say yet. *cough* revenge *cough*

Of course, not all young adult books have the same type of antagonist, but the majority is the same. The series A Shade of a Vampire by Bella Forrest actually had the main male character’s brother has the antagonist in the first book. The brother wanted the main female character for himself, but you get the point. However, the overall enemy was human vampire hunters, and they were not evil. They just didn’t like vampires.

Yep, evil adults:

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Ok, next! For adult fiction, I’ve noticed most antagonists are…other adults (yeah, that was easy) and a magical force (I’m looking at you Game of Thrones and the others). Now, unlike young adult fiction, adult fiction has more than one antagonist at a time.

Examples, and like before, I will be doing bestsellers:

The Shining by Stephen King

Darn those ghost egging on to murder

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

That Captain Randall…he is really a twisted f*&^

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

This is by far one of the best books about multiple antagonists. Not only is it adults vs. adults, adults vs. magical force; it’s also adults vs. insane teenagers. Yes, I’m referring to Ned vs. Joffrey. Sadly, if you read the book, you know what happens. In a way, it also features teens vs. teens. Finally, right? Sansa vs. Joffrey; it was scary to watch.

Now since we pointed out examples of adult fiction, let’s look at the villains. Antagonists in adult fiction need more substance to why they act a certain way.

When crafting your antagonist, ask yourself the following questions:

“What made them this way?”

“What are their motivations?”

“Do they have any mannerism or things that set them off?”

If you are crafting the “magically force” (yes, I am thinking Lord of the Rings)?

“What makes it powerful?”

“What’s the overall goal?”

“Are there any weakness?”

“What or who sealed it up in the first place?”

“How does it power react to the world?”

Whew, well, that was longer than normal, but I hope you found this post helpful!

Oh, and I reached 300 followers!! Love for an Angel will be updated next week!

Parents in Young Adult Fiction

I won’t lie – me and Young Adult fiction clash sometimes. However, I recently finished reading Splintered, and I loved it! I mean loved it!

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This book had most elements I wanted in a story. A dark, gothic, twisted world. Well, as twisted as a young adult book will allow. And yes, I like love triangles. Yeah, yeah, hate me all you want, but I’m a sucker for a good romance book. This book has the best love triangle I’ve ever read! One of the guys is my perfect match, and I enjoyed his character so much.

In fact, he is on the cover of book two.

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However, we are not here to talk about Morpheus. I wanted to discuss parents in young adult fiction. Is it just me, or does it seem parents are written like idiots? I know young adult books are focused on teens, but come on, I didn’t think my parents were THAT dumb growing up. Yeah, I could get things past them, but I had more respect for their intelligence.

In Splintered, and in the Hunger Games, it seems the moms are so…scattered brained. As I was reading the book, I was like, “Come on!!!” you can’t be so dumb!

And the dads! I guess since most young adult protagonists are female, is why the dads are always the favorite parent. Even in Hunger Games, Katniss always mentioned how she missed her father. In The Selection and Red Queen, both protagonists had a better relationship with their dads.  Sadly, I’m also guilty of this in my book, Clash of Tides. Elena misses her father because he actually cared about her. In Clash of Tides, Leona, Elena’s mother, uses her daughter to get money. However, Leona is not stupid or scattered brained. Leona is manipulative and a smart business woman.

If you write young adult books, then please, don’t make the parents dumb. It’s so annoying to read the same cliché parent type over again.

When I first read a good young adult book:

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Then, when the clichés start pouring in:

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Young adult stereotypes, where adults are the idiots and the teens are the smartest lol All joking aside. I hope you enjoyed this rant blog post about another young adult cliché.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post! I enjoyed reading about everyone’s stories and what inspired them to write. Also, I will be updating Clash of Tides on Sunday!!!

Young Adult Antagonists

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Before you read this post, I just want to make it clear I do like young adult books. However, I’m finding a lot of young adult stories lacking these days. So without further ado, today’s topic is…Young Adult Antagonists!

Recently I finished reading Winter by Marissa Meyer. Surprisingly, I didn’t enjoy this book for the following reasons:

  1. The main antagonist wasn’t threatening or scarier (today’s topic). I found her whiny more than anything else
  2. The character development for Winter was lacking
  3. The book dragged on (90+ chapters)

Another young adult book I read this year also had a, hmm, weak antagonist. To confirm my feelings about this, I went to Goodreads and saw other readers felt the same way I did. They felt the antagonist was similar to Joffrey Lannister (*cough* I mean Baratheon). The antagonist was whiny like Joffrey but didn’t have the same killer instincts. Thank goodness Joffrey wasn’t the only antagonist in Game of Thrones, or the books wouldn’t have been very interesting.

I don’t know what it is, maybe I should take a break from young adult books, but I’m finding the antagonists boring and dull. They are supposed to be big and bad, and yet, all they ever do is idle threats. And when they do act, it’s something little, like locking up the protagonist’s friends or “hurting” their family member. I put hurt in quotes because it’s barely anything – more like a slap on the wrist.

As I said before, I do like young adult books. Finding a YA novel with a balanced protagonist, good story development and a scary antagonist is a rare find. Well, there is one young adult novel where the antagonists scared me. In The Maze Runner, those scientists freak me out. Anyone who can lock you up in a maze and fake their own deaths is scary.

What do you think about YA antagonists? Do you find them lacking?

As always, thanks for reading!