Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review in Short: The Grey by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers

Winter is so damned boring! I get a lot of reading done, though. Lately, it's been a lot of short stories and novellas I start the editing process on one upcoming book and slow-start another. We're hip-deep in it right now.....phew!

Grade: C

This story is short, so be aware of the price you're paying. I paid $5.99 for it, and I'm still not sure if I regret the price or not. It's only 153 pages, after all. If that doesn't bother you, pick this up. I read it after seeing the film of the same name in theaters, starring Liam Neeson and Dermott Mulroney.

The story is engaging and briskly paced. You're knee-deep in the action right off the bat, and you stay that way through to the end. Character development is fulfilling without being mushy, and you feel the terror and desperation of the characters. Action sequences have a whip-crack urgency that most short stories lack, and the author doesn't linger over the gory details. Jeffers shows an obvious talent for capturing the drive and intensity of a short story.

John Ottway, a hunter who protects oil-rig workers from the threat of wildlife in Alaska, is on a plane headed home when it goes down in the wilderness. The men who survive the crash fight for survival when they realize there will be no immediate, and possibly not even an eventual, rescue. Temperatures are below freezing and they are quickly set upon by a pack of man-eating wolves, who latch on and won't let go. This is a survival story in it's purest sense. These men must try to survive as their numbers rapidly dwindle. They tell stories of their families, question God, and work together to get out of Alaska alive. Ottway recites a piece of poetry that gave me chills, one his father wrote that suits their very grave situation:

'Once more into the fray...

Into the last good fight I'll ever know.

Live and die on this day...

Live and die on this day...'

The story itself garners an excellent review easily. I have several reasons that make me first, regret the price I paid and, second, consider the book to be just 'good.' Mostly to blame are the God-awful punctuation habits of the author. The author digs commas in a big way and uses them every few words. Every time I see a comma I pause in my reading like I should and if there are too many damned commas it makes the story very stilted.

It also bears mentioning that there are multiple, multiple I tell you, typos in this edition. With a heavier editorial hand, the story would be easier to read. At a much lower price, purchasing it would be easier to handle for the old wallet, too. The Grey is available from Amazon.

See You Friday!


NOTE: I don't want to hear about wolf conservation. This story and the film it inspired had nothing to do with that issue.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Workspace

I wrote a Writing Tips post a couple weeks ago about doing it all wrong, in which I spoke about my work space a little bit. I've always heard that having a desk is a necessary component to writing and doing it well. I've never been someone who liked sitting at a desk for very long. I have short legs and most desk chairs only go so low. When my feet fall asleep I pretty much give up on any kind of productivity.

I do all my work from that couch, a sexy little microfiber number in a dark chocolate color that doesn't show stains. I'm a writer, but I also have a couple little boys who spill. I don't even own an actual desk and have no plan to get one. Ever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Scary Stories Treasury Revisited

Last year, I wrote a long and detailed review of my not-so-humble opinion of the excellent Scary Stories Treasury by Alvin Schwartz with illustrations by Stephen Gammell. I am thrilled to have discovered that I am not alone in my opinion of the books collected in this treasury, but also in my opinion of the original artwork versus the new stuff. If you're new to these books, creep on over to my review for some initial information. If you're already familiar with these incredible childhood classics, read on.

It has to be said that I wish not to besmirch the work of Brett Helquist. He has illustrated A Series of Unfortunate Events and tons of other books, and his work is gorgeous here as well. It just doesn't....

Scare the everloving dogshit out of me like this bitch did?

Yeah, that's it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Writing Tips: Doing It All Wrong

I am a strange animal according to every writer I've ever gotten advice from, whether that be from conversation or reading a writing "manual." They all advise quiet, organization, no distractions, and writing the entire draft without input from anyone else. I am their worst nightmare, because I do almost every little thing they tell me not to.

I am the least organized person on the planet, and I love me this way. I recently read an article about the correlation between clutter and creativity and decided that's why I'm messy. And yes, you can decide these things. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just to give you a little looky-loo into the way my world works, here is a page of my notes from a potential future project.

I write like this ALL THE TIME. Different...is 'fonts' the right word? Different sizes depending on how important I feel the point I'm making is, and sometimes horizontally if I'm writing too fast to, you know, turn the page.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Look what I got to to this morning!!!! Completed first draft, baby!!!

Yes, a shitty picture taken with a cell phone. You're surprised?

I'm so excited I could just pee. I probably did, to be honest.

Now the real work begins....oh, boy! Have a great weekend!