viernes, 4 de agosto de 2017

Anime review - Earth Girl Arjuna

My blog isn't focused on reviews per se, but if you have bothered to look at some of my posts you'll notice I have written a few rants here and there to curb my boredom.

Today I felt like reviewing an anime that is over 10 years old known as Earth Girl Arjuna. Why would I bother to review a somewhat unknown anime that is this old?

Because I hated it.

At first sight this anime seemed really awesome. An anime that fully learned how to combine digital animation without a plastic feel that plagued a lot of tv series of that time, even for today's standards (that have been crudely dumbed down for crappy third rate animation), the animation is great.

This is one of the huge draws of this show and in that sense Arjuna showed a lot of promise.

The problem arises with everything else.

Juna is some ordinary school girl that is chosen to become a warrior that fights for Mother Earth that is being plagued by the contamination brought by humans. When she fully transformed into her Earth warrior self, she even reminds me a bit of a mixture between an elf and Captain Planet!

Yes, I grew up during the 80's and saw that idiotic tv show on Saturday mornings.

I totally dig the ordinary girl becomes a heroine for the preservation of Earth. The Princess Mononoke is my favorite Hayao Miyazaki film which shows how to tactfully deal with the struggle between humans damaging their planet to survive and the mythical godly beasts that are affected by them.

The problem is that instead of making Arjuna a really cool show with a coherent plot or any purpose, it goes in a direction that is both a mixture between ridiculiusly preachy and with no real solution. Ever since Juna has been touched by this mythical power against her will, she can feel the agony of animals dying and pesticides everytime she eats something. You'd think she'd die of starvation because she never eats anything. I always found that to be super annoying with the show.

I like her relationship with Chris, a crippled psychic boy that wants to help her fulfill her mission. The relationship is rather interesting and dynamic, mostly because Juna is a lot older than him.

One thing that strikes me about Chriss is that he bloats that he is so awesome because his mom decided it would be a cool idea to give birth to him in the ocean. Now, I'm a physician and know that a lot of women crave water births because they feel it's more natural. The debate as to whether children born in a tub do better is still open, but many Ob/Gyns believe the risk of infection and drowning overcome the benefits. Still, the few private hospitals in Mexico that offer this special kind of birth sure like to charge a ridiculously huge pricetag for it.

At the end, Juna never really accomplishes anything in the short series and Earth remains the way it is without her. Quite frankly, if you want to watch a far better series about people with supernatural powers fighting to kill humanity in order to save Earth, you should be watching CLAMP's X instead.

miércoles, 2 de agosto de 2017

Is Froylan friend or foe?

Just a short post. A super fan of my book series has commented to me recently that he has decided that the series's main antagonist Lord Froylan is now his 3rd favorite character which he oddly enough tied with Spaulding.

He used to hate him with a passion because of his nastiness, cruelty and sadism and yet his opinion of Froylan changed dramatically as he read the third novel Exile. While there hasn't been a considerable amount of people that have read up to the third novel, several people have commented that after reading the first novel, they absolutely despise Froylan and probably have no idea why I love writing him so much.

Forced to become a guard almost 2000 years ago against his will after being captured for multiple heinious crimes, Froylan initially detested his new life as an Äimite guard and that he had to obey his superiors and king. He wished to burn Salman into pieces with all of his soul, but over time, something changed in him.

Perhaps he started to find a common goal when he discovered that Salman is as cruel as himself or perhaps he enjoyed his newlyfound social position as a newly minted nobleelf that was both feared and respected by the populace. A talented fire mage and swordsman from the start, it probably didn't take him very long to move up the ranks and become promoted as a captain.

Not much is known about his initial life as a guard because it happened such a long time ago or the reason why he likes to wear his characteristic short black cape, but we do know that he asked the previous commander of the guard Lord Ferhyr about the veracity of some rumors regarding how Salman's father King Faisah died. Salman eventually promoted him to a highly coveted Senior guard position several centuries before the beginning of the series and he was one of the two guards that permanently maimed Lord Jamarnid 800 years ago.

While he will always be vicious, cruel, sadistic and a pathological liar, we start to see a change of heart in him in the third novel. As he ponders with himself about conflicting feelings of being forced to serve Spaulding who he always detested, he starts to show a softer side in the initial hopes that he could start to gain Spaulding's favor. Perhaps his initial kindness was a ruse, but it starts to seem like he has genuine feelings of appreciation for Spaulding over the following novels.

The finale of the 6th novel Quandary has a pivotal scene where he seems to have shown what his true side is much to Spaulding's astonishment. He continues to play a huge role in the unfinished Harlequins novel and I'm certain that if you give the sequel novels a chance, you'll find him to be a most versatile and fascinating character to read.

domingo, 23 de julio de 2017

Should I feel thrilled with bootlegs of my book?

An author friend sent me the suggestion a few days ago to try out this new (currently free) add on called Blasty that locates bootleg pdf copies of your books. I assumed nobody would want to bootleg my books but curiously enough, there are people out there that have been offer unauthorized copies of my books on the net.

Now, if something is too good to be true, it probably is. You don't know if the bootleg files are the real book or just a nasty computer virus to screw up your computer. My books don't cost a lot of money and An Ominous Book is free on Smashwords. Is losing your computer really worth the risk?

I have sent requests to block google searches of most of the bootleg content. However, I was mightily perplexed by this little jewel.

Apparently this website offers a bootleg of the Spanish translation of An Ominous Book (not too unsurprising given everyone bootlegs Spanish language ebooks).

The really strange thing is that my book has a really high rating, a whopping 4.5/5 from 564 votes!!!!!

I don't know if I should feel insulted or flattered. If you downloaded a bootleg copy of one of my books for free, could you at LEAST do one kind thing and review it on a legit site? Goodreads doesn't even require you to write a review or have a credit card, you can simply put your star rating. I mean, if you enjoyed my hard work for free without giving me my due credit, at least put the stars where they will actually carry some weight.

Review the book HERE.

I have to say this website called Blasty is rather interesting and the dire truth that bootlegs of my books that may or may not have viruses is a harsh reality. Even if you're a scrambling author, why not try the website while it's still free?

Check out Blasty HERE.


A new horror short story

I'm testing my skills at writing short horror. I sort of like to read horror fiction even though I'm more into fantasy and given so many people enjoy reading this genre, why not try it out?

The things I like about this new experimental project is that the story is short which gives me more chances to write it as an ongoing task. It's completely different to what I have previously written and directed at a more mature audience than An Ominous Book.

I hope you consider giving it a chance and place your comments on the work. Whenever I finish writing it, I plan on publishing it on Amazon. Enjoy!

A gruesome stream of murders has ravaged the dilapitated  town of Twin's Peak for the past few months. Jeremy is desperate to find his daughter's missing cat Tiffy and suspects he's fallen victim to illegal dog baiters. Little does he know that he is about to discover something even more heinious...

Can you solve the mystery? Read it HERE!

martes, 18 de julio de 2017

Leilandy Aethinford, a recurring villain

Full name: Leilandy Aethinford
Race: Human
Occupation: Head of the Aethinford family in Ayrtain, usurper queen of Ayrtain, warlord's wife
Amgic afifnity element: Earth
Phantom Beast: Urga (resembles a large golem)

If you have reached the end of the first novel of An Ominous Book Series, you realize Richard bumps into a blonde girl that he never met before. Leilandy doesn't play any importance in the first novel, but her strange stone collar probably saved her life.

The third surviving member of the Ayrtainian royal family, she starts to have friction with the Earlrose siblings because she believes she deserves to become the queen due to her age even though Richard has a stronger blood claim. Forced to endure a grueling ordeal due to Ayrtain's strange customs when a king dies, her initial disdain for Richard's immaturity grows stronger with each passing day.

Initially cordial to Trevilin, she requests the jolly elf to train her in sorcery who agrees to the condition once the mourning period ends. With an acute talent for sorcery, she awakens her mana and soon summons her Urga for the first time.

Little did everyone know, her phantom beast hasn't grown in size absurdly quickly because of her innate talent. Vincent notices something strange happens when he uses sorcery near her presernce when she wears her prized stone collar. He soon suspects something is amiss when he quickly runs out of mana everytime she is nearby.

The sweet yet mature girl eventually returns to her family estate and discovers something amazing in a locked room in the basement: her deceased mother Sarahi had a small lab that was filled with chemical ingredients. It didn't take long for her to locate her mother's most deepest secret: Sarahi had scattered papers all over the lab with the recipe to create söma, the mysterious potion that can awaken sorcery.

Armed with a powerful bargaining tool, she allies herself with a loyal knight of her family named Ralph who agrees to help her claim the throne in the condition that she teaches him how to use sorcery.

Her plan comes into action when Nelida confesses that she purposely murdered her family. Leilandy attempts to attack Nelida with her Urga, but her beast is easily defeated and Nelida escapes to the Haraaldi wastelands.

Armed with a viable excuse to arrest Richard for alleged conspiracy, she forces her cousin to live in house arrest in his old family estate while she slowly obtains the loyalty of Ayrtainians. Meanwhile, she begins a plan to murder her cousin and claim the throne as her own but things don't turn out as she planned and becomes forced to request her arch-nemesis King Salman's help to invade the Haraaldi lands and defeat Nelida.

Things don't exactly go as planned and she is forced to leave Nelida alone and ponders what became of Richard who managed to flee Ayrtain with Vincent's help. During the entire one year voyage that Richard lives in exile, she is arranging for her coronation on her birthday. However Richard isn't going to allow her to get away with it...

Leilandy is rather interesting even though I personally dislike her. She miraculously survives the crash with only two surviving cousins that she never met before. Forced to endure a grueling ordeal during Ayrtain's national mourning, her initial disdain for Richard turns into hatred. She seems to act cordial with Trevilin and Siri during theirbrief visits, but it's in reality just for convinience in the hopes Trevilin teaches her how to use sorcery.

Leilandy grows up and becomes a cruel woman in the 5th novel A Calamity. Forced into exile from Richard, she ends up in Hataraji and marries a warlord named Kumar out of mutual convinience. When Trevilin foolishly enters Hataraj to spy on her, she takes advantage of her fully developed sorcery and imprisons her in Kumar's palace. She always had a huge hatred of elves and she lashes her revenge on poor Trevilin that began the whole series of events of the novels when he brought the Earlrose siblings to Spaulding's castle instead of locating another Ayrtainian noble family to adopt them.

She's evil, wicked and cruel, but deep down she's a person that suffered great pain when her family cruelly died. The events that she triggers continue to have lingering efefcts even in the 6th novel...

sábado, 15 de julio de 2017

Click farm scams on Kindle Unlimited is wrong!

I am indeed very disgruntled and wanted to write a quick post. I just read via twitter today that a handful of unscrupulous authors are hiring click farm services which according to Amazon isn't even against the rules to artificially jump the rankings to get their name out there when the books aren't up to par.

Look at this example, Dragonsoul by Kayl Karadijan. The book was released in October 2016, around the time I published An Ominous Book and the book "magically" jumped to rank #1 of Sword and Sorcery in Fantasy and #28 all-around Amazon in 24 hours!!!

The book was hovering around the 300,000-500,000 range, better than my books but this doesn't make any sense.

This isn't butt-hurt envy, the guy obviously hired a company where 200 bogus Amazon accounts rented KU copies of the book at the exact same time and artificially inflated his ranking to top seller status in a really short amount of time. Seems like he isn't alone.

Tim I Guring's rankings for The broken people from god's land magically boosted to the top 2000 in Amazon USA.

Looking at the blurb and preview of both books, while neither book is atrocious, neither reached this mark on their own merits. Do a search and neither book launched huge publicity or author newsletter swaps. No awards from writing contests either.

It's authors like these that make readers think all indie authors suck and are con artists. I know a few authors and have made online friendships with them. They don't seem like this sort of ilk, just ordinary people that love to write stories and share them with the world. While there are people out there that stoop down to these bad practices to place their name out there, I would never do such a thing.

If people give bad reviews to An Ominous Book because they hate the ending or how I write, I will accept the criticism with a smile and thank them. Will my books ever reach bestseller status someday from their own merits? I don't know the answer, but you are free to read my books and see for yourself.

If you read my books, write an honest review and suggest your friends to read them.

As for these authors, please don't imitate them giving all indie writers a bad name. Tell people about buyers beware and discourage this practice.

Making readers connect with a book's character

I love writing even if it's just a hobby for now. I also love writing complicated characters that evolve over the course of the story. Everyone changes even if it's just a little. Apparently doing that is a really difficult writing art although I just recall what I like the most of a popular 80's anime Saint Seiya and the ever dramatic Gundam and these kinds of things come easy for me.

One thing that strikes me a lot when I read reviews of my books is that people seem to love Spaulding's character. I can agree, he's awesome and multifaceted. His ignorance of human customs and spelling mistakes is a running gag in the series. He's fiercely loyal to those few that earn his trust but he's indifferent and blatantly rude to those that he doesn't deem to be worthy. The problem is that the characters he riles up the most for no explained reason just happen to be the Elf King himself and his second in command Lord Froylan.

Spaulding constantly gets into trouble with Salman and Froylan although the reasons are slowly revealed during the course of the story. Salman equally dislikes him because of his rudeness and Froylan tries to gaslight him to force Spaulding to punch him in the face and obtain the excuse he's always been looking for to arrest him.

Froylan's dream of arresting Spaulding becomes a reality in the second novel Separation and he ensures that Spaulding is psychologically tortured for as long as possible for Salman's ulterior purposes. Spaulding soon discovers his behavior won't get him anywhere during his incarceration under Lord Eufurel's watch and with the well intentioned suggestions of an old friend of his named Nahar that just happens to be one of his prison guards, he starts to feign compliance if only to earn the loosening of his restrictive new life.

Spaulding over time seems to become used to this new sense of normalcy and has memorized the names, faces and personalities of the 100 immortal male guards that constantly watch over him. Nahar and Hirmirel are the guards that treat him with the most utter kindness, others like Eufurel are only harsh with him when he's disobedient and some are cruel sadists such as Gerasha that love to belittle and humilliate him whenever they have the chance. It soon grows obvious that in just a few scenes that Spaulding grows to utterly detest Gerasha perhaps even more than he hates Salman.

Gerasha is an interesting character to write. He's horrible and demeaning to those that are weaker than him but he once again appears in the 7th novel as a completely changed character. After surviving the bloody siege fully unharmed by remaining on an undesirable rural post, word began to spread among the guard that Eufurel wrote an edict ordering Gerasha to be immediately transferred after he viciously tortured Spaulding for no reason for hours. Gerasha becomes ridiculed, ostracized even by his own friends and imprisoned on several occasions because he fought against guards that mocked him. After 100 years of being constantly transferred across undesirable rural posts and unable to see Spaulding, Gerasha has fully changed and becomes a completely different person. Humbled to a despairing degree, he strives to gain Lord Damantin's trust in the hopes that he will be transferred to the palace and serve under Spaulding.

I personally like how Gerasha changes even though he is just a supporting character that appears in just a few scenes in the second novel. We don't get to see his transformation, but his character is fully humbled from the dire treatment he suffered between the 2nd and 7th novels. He becomes absolutely devoted to Spaulding to a degree that might seem ridiculous and wants to become his most loyal guard.

Spaulding on the other hand transforms a lot during the novels as the secrets of his dark past are slowly revealed. He seems cold and distant to the children at first wishing to simply remain in the comforts of his castle or killing criminals during his incursions of a ranger without any incentive to have a family of his own. After some quarrels with the children, he starts to enjoy their company and becomes truly fond of Richard. At the end of the first novel, he has opened up to the children who got to know his kindness. He accepts the punishment Salman gave to him for his rudeness but he still harbors hatred for Salman and the Äimite guard.

His persona changes in the second novel albeit in a very cruel manner. Isolated and tortured relentlessly in Eufurel's prison, he tries to feign forced politeness to the guards but his hatred for them never wavers for unknown reasons. He becomes jaded from the experience which is something that causes resentment in Richard in the third novel. Spaulding has formed a shell over him due to the difficult circunstances he lived in for almost 5 years and barely says a word or smiles. Spaulding has a mission that Richard doesn't seem to understand at first.

I won't spoil what happens to Spaulding halfway into the 3rd novel, you will have to read it for yourself. However, I like it how Spaulding suddenly becomes fully different at the end of the 3rd novel. Suffering from severe amnesia, his personality has been locked with the character we meet at the end of the 1st novel, still with a huge appreciation for Richard but somewhat distant yet affable to the guards.

The 4th novel reveals Spaulding getting used to his new and challenging life. Frustrated that he cannot remember almost 7 years of his life, Froylan takes advantage of his situation and tries to shelter him from any bad experience that could trigger him to remember everything with disastrous results. Froylan tries to initially tolerate him and perhaps even like the elf that he used to belittle so much. The two of them start to form a professional relationship dynamic that continues in the following novels.

However Spaulding is getting tired of this life. Forced to remain locked inside of the king's palace for 11 years under the excuse that there aren't sufficient guards to properly protect him, he feels like something is missing but the medics can't find anything physically wrong with him. It is at the end of the novel that he remembers the tragic events of the 2nd and 3rd novels and he tries to come to peace with that harsh reality. Due to Garain's intervention, Spaulding in a mad fit grudgingly pardons Froylan's life but forces him to be imprisoned. After coming to terms with the harsh reality of everything that he did, he entrusts Garain with the enviable position as the new commander of the guard and embarks on a journey to unite the exiled clan.

Spaulding changes a lot during the novels. He becomes more patient, amicable and open towards meeting new people. He starts to harbor feelings of respect for a select few Äimite guards but still remains somewhat distant and cautious. Damantin continues to trigger a positive change in him as he finds a kindred spirit that also endured a difficult life. His relationship with Froylan continues to be a nonstop battle of wills where each party hides things from the other that causes multiple events in the story. Damantin continues where Garain left off and tries to prove to Spaulding that the guard is noble and fully loyal to him. The 7th novel continues this slow voyage with Gerasha's strive to serve under Spaulding.

Sincerely I love deep and complex characters and I hope people enjoy the novels as well.

Haven't read the first novel yet? Check it out via Amazon.