Tag Archives: Trilogies

“What do you MEAN ‘YOU DON’T AGREE WITH ME!?’ DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH!!!!?”

49. Dog Blood – David Moody

The second book in the Hater trilogy follows main character and thinking-man’s Hater Danny McCoyne as he searches for his daughter, who has also become a Hater aka not superhuman, not undead, but not interested in anything other than brutally killing or changing over anyone who isn’t currently a Hater.

Along the way there are also threads that the thinking man who generally hated many things is not entirely gone, was not entirely consumed by the Hate and has the possibility of something more moderately hatey… I can’t see any overtones of this book happening in current society today, no sir, I cannot.

Let Belvedere teach you the way. Feel the urge to sneef and chuckle in the face of your enemies wash over you.

Let Belvedere teach you the way. Feel the urge to sneef and chuckle in the face of your enemies wash over you.

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This time, it’s corporate intrigue.

4. Symbiont – Mira Grant

Problematically, in the second book of this trilogy, Sal does not magically become more interesting. Damn it. Grant also gives Sal a blank-as-hell brother character and a Harley Quinn-type that pops up to be confused, crazy, beloved by the other characters, and cause some trouble. I am honestly quite annoyed at how closely Tansy of the Parasitology trilogy, a fresh take on the zombie apocalypse… resembles Foxy of the Newsflesh trilogy, a fresh take on the zombie apocalypse. It just makes it seem like not enough time was taken in between writing these trilogies. Parasitology should not be Newsflesh take two, now with less incest and corporate instead of political intrigue. Barely anything happens in Symbiont, it feels like 499 pages of stalling when we could be on our way to a breakneck finish of someone helping Sal learn something while not driving too fast.

Grant’s books are very easy to read and involve some pop science and that’s how I will probably end up reading the last of the trilogy. I’ll be hoping for some of the characters to become realistic or fully fleshed out – three four hundred plus page books are enough space to flesh out characters, right? Right? This is probably another losing battle for me. Why do I expect fully fleshed out characters when I’m 1009 pages into a trilogy? WHY?

Murderface, displaying her level of plot-twist vigilance.

Murderface, displaying her level of plot-twist vigilance.

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Write. Print. Repeat.

Two squirrels! Two robots! So appropriate for the second book of a trilogy.

Two squirrels! Two robots! So appropriate for the second book of a trilogy.

The Guinea Pig-style (Duncan Hills) first edition of Night of the Squirrels: Day of the Robots, sequel to Dawn of the Interns and the middle section of the Squirrelpocalypse trilogy,was initially available on Amazon in May of 2013. Now, in June of 2015 (well, sort of May because it put it up in May, but there are always delays while I wait to see my cover and not a grey box on websites before I say anything), the “Call of the Merricat” second edition is available with its more squirrelpocalypse-appropriate cover and two less typos.  I’ve been told it’s better than the first one – but! – I don’t think that matters unless you’ve read the first one, so maybe it’s an Evil Dead II situation and maybe it’s Gremlins II, there really aren’t enough horror comedies with sequels that remind me of my work, so it’s tough to be sure.

It’s also occurred to me lately that it might be interesting to show my work, at least in terms of how I create my clearly a-mah-zing squirrel covers. I do have a lot to say about cover art on here – that’s because I’m an artist. I use my human brain and hands to write my novels and also to draw and print the squirrel versions of their covers through the bewildering process of silkscreening. Silkscreening is the process of shoving ink through mesh to put images on things, in my case, card stock. In order for the ink to make the images I want it to, I hand paint the mesh of my screens with screen filler.

The dark red business is screen filler. Everything that’s covered with filler will remain the color of the card stock I’m printing on.

The dark red business is screen filler. Everything that’s covered with filler will remain the color of the card stock I’m printing on.

Many people can get their drawings onto their screens much more easily using photographic methods (light and photo emulsion). I can barely breathe most of the time because of my severe allergies and chemical fumes will destroy me very quickly, so I hand paint. It’s, um, not very easy to maintain the level of detail I want because I still only have human hands, but I do my best.

Pre-print Robots, post-print Interns, with discerning critic Danger Crumples. It is possible to remove the designs from screens, it’s called “reclaiming.” I am able to keep my designs on the screens by only washing out the ink when I’m done printing. Cold water takes out the ink, hot water is required to remove screen filler.

Pre-print Robots, post-print Interns, with discerning critic Danger Crumples. It is possible to remove the designs from screens, it’s called “reclaiming.” I am able to keep my designs on the screens by only washing out the ink when I’m done printing. Cold water takes out the ink, hot water is required to remove screen filler.

Once all the screen filler is dry and I’ve held it up to several light sources five million times to check for pinholes that will ruin my feelings while I print, I sort out the paper I want to use (I have to run a veritable shitload of prints when I silkscreen) and get the screen secured into the t-shirt press that hooks onto my coffee table. And then I print. On my knees. I ran this print sixty-one times.

Here’s my print-covered floor and the screen upright in the hinge clamps of my t-shirt press just before I went to wash the ink out of it.

Here’s my print-covered floor and the screen upright in the hinge clamps of my t-shirt press just before I went to wash the ink out of it.

I pretty much throw my prints everywhere there’s space because I need to run the print until the ink runs out, gets too dry, or some sort of blobbiness takes over. I had an ink-thickness issue this time, so I only ended up with twelve great prints and thirty-two mostly good ones. That’s a pretty good ratio considering I haven’t printed anything for over a year and my ink was definitely too thick for all the teeny details I wanted to come through.

Peregrine critiques my print from above.

Peregrine critiques my print from above.

I should mention that I’m leaving out a lot of details about the process of silkscreening, like tool names (squeegee!) and how you should have mylar on hand for proofing and registering your print and other things, so if you want to silkscreen in your living room you’ll need to research actual tutorials. I took silkscreening in college way back in 2003, and I didn’t put enough time into it, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t because of the chemical processes and my lack of allergy treatment at the time. I could have learned I have allergy-induced asthma earlier by passing out in a creepy basement room trying to coat my screen with emulsion, but at what cost? Actually, the cost would be these prints and all the others I’ve done since being able to re-visit silkscreening. Too much. It would be too much. And I retained a large amount of what I learned in that class over twelve years’ time, so…peaches. Of course, the guinea pigs would be much happier if I didn’t do so many things that take my attention away from them. A cost I must pay.

Horace and Danger Crumples don’t think I paid the cost to be the boss.

Horace and Danger Crumples don’t think I paid the cost to be the boss.

Anyway, that’s my cover creation process and if you want to support projects done completely by hand by someone who is nearly extinct because of their allergies or just want to know what happens next in my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy, I will list some linkage below and add to my “About” page. Oh, and since it’s YA Megamix Summer and my chapter titles tend to be song titles, here’s a sixtyish minute mixtape of chapter title songs to go with Day of the Robots:

1.     “Bang!” – The Raveonettes
2.    “Underdog” – Kasabian
3.    “Incubation” – Joy Division
4.    “Be My Wife” – David Bowie
5.    “River Styx” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6.    “Worm Tamer” – Grinderman
7.    “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night” – Ween
8.    “Sistinas” – Danzig
9.    “I Wish This Song Was Louder” – Electric Six
10.    “Retrovertigo” – Mr. Bungle
11.    “Deep in the Woods” – The Birthday Party
12.    “I Think That I Would Die” – Hole
13.    “Running Up That Hill” – Kate Bush
14.    “Dog Eat Dog” – Adam and the Ants
15.    “Heart of Stone” – The Raveonettes
16.    “Cat People” – the Danzig version
Linkage:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Kobo
Bol
Itunes

P.S. One important thing, there are several “Rachel Smith”s writing and self-publishing. Accept no substitutes. It can be confusing. I have only published two novels so far, both are pretty clearly linked thanks to that new cover and the adoption of series specification (Night of the Squirrels/Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy) – even that other “Rachel Smith” who wrote an ebook about guinea pigs is not me. I would think that anyone could tell the difference between her writing voice and mine and her cover aesthetic and mine – I just wanted to make sure we’re all clear that she’s not me. And I haven’t written any books on shopping addiction either. Just YA fiction about the squirrelpocalypse thus far.

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Filed under Books, Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels

Punch a higher floor

  1. Forever – Maggie Stiefvater

This is the first entry in what I have declared “The Year of the Ladies.” All my reviews in 2015 will be for books written by women, in honor of my last year’s reading experiment to try to read more books written by women than men. I read about 30 more books by women than I did by men and considering that I am not the most voracious of readers and that most of the books I read were written with adults as their intended audience I’m quite pleased with that result. I found out that I don’t like the work of one horror author I was told I would enjoy and a new series that I really do like from someone in a pretty bestselling writing group – I’m being so vague, just a preview of things I will surely mention in future posts.

For now, I’m starting with a blast from the relatively recent past. The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy has some of the best book design I’ve seen in ages (the first edition hardbacks anyway) – the cut paper, the color choices, the interior ink color choices, it’s a seriously well put together package. I would have read it just because of the design, even if I hadn’t been aware it was about werewolves, and I probably would have enjoyed it about the same amount. I’m not much for romance and Sam and Grace and the poetry and longing glances and the maudlin language they share were never very intriguing or satisfying for me as a reader; probably because I’m a cynical and bitter adult and not a teenager wistfully lusting after the possibility that someone will write a song for me and then turn me into a supernatural creature. So! I was very happy when the last installment in the trilogy included a lot more from some of the more acidic characters, Cole and Isabel. For me it was a pretty fitting end to the story, the action was finally moving at a better clip, and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the wilderness.

Side note – I recently picked up Sinner, the “villain” perspective book from this series (Beautiful Creatures has Dangerous Creatures, so far these are the only two villain or “dark side to the love story that mostly annoyed me” perspectives on established series that I’ve seen) and as I finished Forever in 2011, I’m looking forward to seeing more from the cranky Cole St. Clair.

Murderface, scratching that itch to be the first lady pig to be featured in my year of the ladies. The Queen always comes first, so first she is.

Murderface, scratching that itch to be the first lady pig to be featured in my year of the ladies. The Queen always comes first, so first she is.

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Where has all my time gone?

5. Monster Nation – David Wellington

Now that VH1 has mined the first vestiges of nostalgia for 2000-2009, I can move back to books I read back in 2010 and muse a bit. When I cover a series of multiple books I always assign a guinea pig to be pictured in the reviews and this series’ mascot is my little Duncan. I started this blog and said assigning procedures well after Duncan died (she died Dec. 22nd, 2009) at nine months old, but basically right after my little Twiglet died at one and a half in 2011. My review of the first book in the trilogy that I also read in 2010 – Monster Island – is one of my earliest reviews on this blog. And when I think about it, 2010 was basically one of my best years in terms of guinea pigs and reading. None of my family of pigs died during the entire year and I’ve had at least one die each year since then, which is pretty damn depressing but strangely unavoidable. 2010 was also the year I decided to start keeping a list of what books I read and that encouraged me to read more. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but occasionally I’d forget about it completely for a while and now I do not have that problem because I’m always trying to read more books this year than the previous one. This year I’ve even decided to focus my reading habits and try to read more of what’s been published in the genres I like by female authors. There are just so many male authors. And I have noticed some trends amongst what’s been allowed to be published by female authors. But I shant get into any of that now. Musing over.

As for Monster Nation, I enjoyed it. I did not like it as much as Monster Island because I don’t quite like the way the supernatural causes of the plague and the extra-supernatural powers of certain zombies were handled, but Wellington’s zombie trilogy is better than most of the zombie trilogies in existence, so that’s okay.

We fear not death.

This is the picture I manipulated into being the cover of Day of the Robots. That cover is meant to look like a 1990s CD. I wish I had more pictures of Duncan.

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Filed under Books, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels, Review

You’re standing on my neck

It has been sequeled.

Sometimes I don't feel like adding hovertext, like now, when I've lost another job. But I do it.

Heeeeere’s Duncan.

The Guinea Pig-style first edition of Night of the Squirrels: Day of the Robots
It’s the sequel to Dawn of the Interns and the middle section of the Squirrelpocalypse trilogy, and it is internationally available on Amazon right this very second. I said it would be finished in May 2013 and I was not lying or catastrophically impaired, even if I didn’t say anything about it until June.

Verbal trailer (think about “O Fortuna” for trailer integrity or the book’s real theme song, Ween’s “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night,” off Quebec): In a world where things start with “D,” the cover model’s name is Duncan, the title is Day of the Robots, Danger Crumples still exists, I’ve been watching a lot of the show Daria lately and I bought the second season of Deadwood on DVD recently; and Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost films also involve robots, Day of the Robots now exists to wreak its combination of Gremlins II and Cabin Fever on readers.

It’s gory…and romantic. It’s revolutionarily cynical…and idealistic. There are shiny objects…and decaying furniture. A nose will be lost. One kind of plague will be contained. The responsibilities of a field jacket will be assumed. Origins will be explored. It’s not going to end well because it’s a sequel and the middle part of a trilogy, that’s also why origins will be explored – but you surely already knew that and I won’t call you “gentle reader” because that’s kind of patronizing. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that it won’t end well. “Well” doesn’t always mean what you probably think it means. So there.

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Operation Impending Doom II

It has been updated.

Doomed? Doomed.

Now there’s a squirrel on it! Appropriate rodent!

This is the new cover of Night of the Squirrels: Dawn of the Interns, the first book in my squirrelpocalypse trilogy. I made it myself via my handy printing and drawing abilities. It more appropriately represents the story and the trilogy theme. Here is the previous cover, featuring my beloved Pickles:

Pickles was with me during the initial writing, and the outlining, and so I miss seeing her on Amazon all the time in her seventies horror modeling debut.

Inappropriate but most adorable almost-not rodent!

The Pickles cover is still on Good Reads (I like that color scheme damnit and that’s why I rated it five stars…I also like the other cover so I also rated it five stars, and yes, I am the only one who rated it five stars on goodreads, so maybe that was a silly thing to do…Rachel Shukert, one of my fave authors, did it too so I felt less shame). Anyway, I’m clearly attached to the Pickles cover but the squirrel cover represents the updates that I have made. I haven’t made any gigantic story changes, I did fix quite a few things and now there is more zazz. It’s fitter, happier, and more productive. Or something. It’s also been given a new blurb and appears in many more online purchasing venues, like the Apple store and Barnes and Noble. Humans (non-humans too) who have chosen to not use the Kindle store can now read about the squirrelpocalypse…Finally! I know everyone who reads this blog was worried about that. Very worried.

Also, I don’t want to jinx myself, so I will be as vague as possible… This may also be available so you can hold it in your hands someday, it is closer to being available than it was two weeks ago, anyway. Whee!

Here are links to the various purchase pages (they will also perpetually be available via my About page):

Amazon

Apple Store

And, okay, full disclosure, I did rate it at five stars on itunes too. I got excited that it was on there. Plus I do think it’s good and fun to read, it’s been nearly four years since I wrote it and I technically started the idea in 1998 so I feel like it’s fine to five-star my entrance to the gateway to miscellaneous purchasing known as itunes.

Barnes and Noble

On Good Reads, the B&N link refuses to take anyone to my book. But it’s there, my link is direct. Plus, if you’re into work, title searching will prove Good Reads wrong.

Diesel ebooks

Kobo

Smashwords

Sony ebooks

I couldn’t see the cover yet on the Sony ebook store, but it should be forthcoming. It took B&N forever to put that two color work of majesticness up too.

So ends the shameless self-promotion. Or wait, no it doesn’t. The sequel will be going up (just on Amazon at first) towards the end of this month. It’s called Day of the Robots and it’s like Gremlins II meets Cabin Fever. The first one is like Cabin in the Woods meets Ginger Snaps, if only movie-related comparisons are available. They’re short and effective.

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Digression Post

So, the last post I made mere seconds ago made me super sad. And then, I noticed that someone found my blog by searching for “adjectives for guinea pigs” and my mood changed slightly – cute didn’t instantaneously come to mind, searcher?

Belvedere! I miss Belvedere!

Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty cute. Belvedere knows how to sit.

 

The other adjective that comes to mind (beyond like fifty synonyms for “cute”) when I think of guinea pigs is: Demanding.

I miss Mortemer too.

Yes, demanding is so much more than an adjective. I think it’s obvious that Mortemer wants something here.

Also, I wanted to mention that this week I screenprinted the new cover for Dawn of the Interns and I am super happy with it. I am quite fond of my Pickles model guinea pig cover , but it seems relevant to make a slightly more appropriate cover, since I have the skills. I would say I have the technology, but I’m a hand done art kind of person. My silkscreens are hand drawn, hand stenciled (no photo emulsion, it goes bad and might get on the carpet), and hand pulled – which often leads to tragedy. Twiglet, subject of the sadness inducing post and anchor pig forever in my heart, will of course be on the guinea pig version cover of the last book in the Night of the Squirrels trilogy. I haven’t written that one yet, but the new cover and the second volume in the trilogy, also with a guinea pig cover (featuring the beautiful Duncan) will be out in May.

I don't have to miss Thaddeus because I can hear him whistling right now. Phew.

“Snazzy” also comes to mind. Check out the Abyssinian moustache on Thaddeus. One could also use the adjectives: smart, fluffy, fuzzy, portly, or perfect to describe any number of guinea pigs.

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Filed under Dawn of the Interns, Night of the Squirrels, Uncategorized

Look at the wall!

11. Damien: Omen II – Joseph Howard

It turns out that I now have little paperbacks of the entire Omen series. I started this blog writing about the novelization of the Omen and admitting that my feelings about taking care of my pigs could easily be summarized by that scene in the original, more awesome, Omen where the nanny jumps off the roof after happily declaring, “It’s all for you.” I won’t be jumping off the roof anytime soon, but considering the way people look at me when I answer their questions about frisee with, “It’s for my guinea pigs, and I believe it was $1.99.” I might as well be. Does anyone know what frisee tastes like? I just know they like it. A lot.

In the original Omen, the father character’s name was Jeremy. And when I read the novelization I was confused because not only did I finally understand that Damien’s mom was a jackal (totally blew by me when I saw the movie, I think they did not say jackal enough times in comparison to the number of shots of Rottweilers), I also knew something was wrong in the naming department. Turns out, in the movie they changed his name to Robert. And in Damien: Omen II (there’s no “the” in there on the paperback and I added the colon for clarity), there’s a note explaining the name change which finally put me at ease. They continued on with calling him Robert.

Anyway, the main issue with the Omen series (and probably the movies, I have only seen the first one more than once, hopefully some channel will help me out with that this October) in the first two installments is that they follow the same story line with different aged Damiens. Damien finds out who he is, which I guess is important, but I already knew who he was from the first one so that realization was cheap for me. As were the scenes of him weirdly shivering while psychically killing people. And he killed so recklessly! Just about everyone bit it. He was thirteen in the book, so I guess that explains some of that but I think the anti-christ is kinda touchy. Once again, the book included sensational photos from the movie, True Crime style. And I have to say, the most memorable scene from the movie for me (which is included in the sensational photos) was the journalist being killed by the raven on the side of the road in her totally red outfit, which is not powerfully rendered in the book. And I know it’s just a novelization of the movie, but still, I have expectations. Maybe The Final Conflict will fulfill them, it’s the last one, presumably it has some sort of resolution.

In this photo, Mortemer (looking right at you) and Danger Crumples are vigilantly and nonchalantly standing on my bed in the house I rented in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. That house was very, very close to the little line that designates the path the tornado took one week ago…so I’m pretty sure it has been damaged. Thankfully, I’ve heard from many people about how they are totally okay, although several have severely postponed jobs because of roofs gone missing. If any place knows how to clean up after some seriously unexpected damage though, it’s South Mississippi.

Obey my Mortemer!

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Area Teenagers to Continue Endless, Irritating Romance

3.  Beautiful Redemption – Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia

The end of the series. Lately, I’ve noticed that some series are moving to quadrilogies…this one, Maberrry’s Rot and Ruin series… and I’m still working on my trilogy. Always behind. But at least trilogies are classic. There are a few trilogies that hold up. Anyway, I just sometimes feel like the kind of stories I write are either too far ahead or too far behind to be published legitimately. I’m probably not the only one who feels that way and it really just enforces the whole dead-in-the-gutter before respect thing that happens to writers sometimes. Well, that was uplifting, I guess I’ll get on with the rest of it. To be fair, my mood has not been the greatest lately. Ozymandias’s bladder stone issues are back-exactly one year after he came to live with me which is shitty and totally unfair. They (stones) always come back though, even if they’re surgically removed. And I’m grading papers again, it’s always super fun to read a paper that’s completely devoid of subject-verb agreement in which the writer claims they want to be a teacher. Why didn’t they pay attention in middle school English if teaching was their chosen career field? Why? My brain screams at these inconsistencies like Leonardo DiCaprio in that field in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. Oh look, I’ve made it back around to the topic I should be discussing. Yay for me. It’s looking up. Whatever it is.

I definitely respect the concreteness of the ending. The last page was essentially a “no, seriously, it’s over” declaration. Thanks for not leaving loose ends! I mean that sincerely. I’m not really going to discuss anything that happens because if you haven’t bothered with the other books, there is no reason for you to read this one, it won’t be useful for you, it will just be confusing. The recurring aspects of these books worked out nicely in the last entry and as someone who has done many crosswords with their grandmother, I appreciated crossword puzzles having an important function in this book.

I do want to talk about the upcoming movie though. I have seen it decribed very lazily as “Twilight with witches” and the latest attempt to capitalize on Twilight’s success. Twilight’s first page made me want to throw up with boredom and despair. It was super lazy writing. And then, the movie demonstrated the laziness with which the characters were conceived – shells of humans (and vampires) with very little going for them beyond being audience surrogates for those who want a creepy stalker or two. Now, I like fully formed characters, they’re very important to me as a writer and a reader. I also like earned storylines. In Twilight, Bella and Edward seem to fall in love because they must, as they are both present in the narrative. In this series, as annoying as I found Lena and Ethan to be at times, they read as real. Real teenagers. Real annoying teenagers. Who have real, annoying teenage romance. But that isn’t the entirety of what happens. And as frustrated as I got with the first two books being slightly different mirrors of each other, they more than made up for it in Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption. This series is not Twilight with witches (or casters), I don’t even really think of it as solely being about the main romance between Ethan and Lena. It’s more like a less-ridiculously sticky and purple version of the Mayfair Witches. Which I enjoyed as an annoying teenager. And maybe, just maybe, Macon is a less manipulative version of Julian. Everyone loves Julian.

He's certainly bitten his thumb at Danger quite a few times - they're occasionally friends.

Ozymandias. He is the Mercutio of my herd. Or the Tybalt. He’s pivotal, that’s all I know.

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