Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Insecure Writer and Poor Internet Access



Today is August's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.




Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because I don't feel as secure about the Internet as I did before.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the Internet, especially now that I have a smart phone.  But I've learned I shouldn't get too used to having it around.  My family and I were on vacation up in northern Michigan this last week, and while I enjoyed the time off, I also discovered that Verizon doesn't cover that region well at all.  I also discovered that just because restaurants say they have wi-fi doesn't mean it works.  Needless to say, I had only sporadic access to the Net.

Now some would say this is not necessarily a bad thing when you're on vacation. But when you have a book review scheduled on the SherAHart blog  in the middle of that vacation, and you can't get online long enough to find out if the post published correctly (which it didn't), it's not a good thing either.

So even though my phone has allowed me to become closer to the Internet, it's also shown me what my world would be like if I lost that connection.  Especially once I begin publishing books.  Kind of scary. 

Anyway, I'm reposting the book review here as part of my IWSG post.  If you enjoy YA fantasy, check it out.



Review of Messenger

Hello! Ken Rahmoeller here with a review of Messenger, a YA fantasy written by Scott Rhine.  First, let's take a look at the book blurb.


About the book: When we close our eyes at night, we all see the same ancient place.  Exploring Astra is like living a video game. Tomorrow, I'm going goblin-tipping with some of the other wizards. The first rule of being a dream wizard is "no photos."  You don't want the bad guys finding you where you have no powers.  The waking world sucks.

Since Mom went to prison, the Nevada foster system sent me to Minnesota to meet an Uncle Joe I never knew I had.  Snow loses its charm after five days. Only music and the dreams make my life bearable.

The weird thing is that elements of the worlds are bleeding into each other.  Someone is trying to kill me, and I'm not sure who: the criminal underworld, the elves, or the crazy wizard causing these freaky storms.  



Now on to the review!                My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After a car accident leaves his younger brother dead and sends his mother to jail, fourteen-year-old Daniel discovers he is one of those rare people with the ability to travel to an alternate world when he sleeps.  Forced to spend his days with an adopted family that could be described as a midwesternized version of the Dursleys (ala Harry Potter), Daniel looks forward to his nights when he can escape his mundane life and travel to this strange new world in pursuit of action and adventure. 

The first half of the story plays out much as you’d expect, with most of the story focusing on his adventures in the dream world, interspersed with short scenes demonstrating how crappy his life is during the day. Once Daniel comes up to speed with his new surroundings, he joins a band of adventurers (other people with the same dreamwalking ability) and embarks on quests to build up his experience and bank account. Anyone who has played MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) will feel right at home with this book.  Plenty of unusual things are happening in this alternate world—mysterious storms, political intrigue, unexplained deaths—and it appears that Daniel will be the hero destined to set things right.  

But then the story throws you a curve.  His adoptive family stops acting so Dursleyish, Daniel discovers he has a knack for music, and suddenly his day life becomes just as important to the story as his nighttime excursions, especially as he struggles to keep the two worlds from affecting each other. 

What I liked:  The writing was good and tension continued to build throughout the story.  I found the world imaginative and fun to explore, and it was refreshing to see a story that utilized folklore from less used sources (Native American, for example) instead of depending entirely on European mythology.  Also, in these kinds of stories it’s usually the lessons the main character learns in the alternate world that teach him how to behave in real life.  By the time you get to the second half of the book, it’s his real life experiences that are teaching him how to behave in the alternate world.  A nice twist. 

What I didn’t like:  The story felt a little disjointed at the beginning, although it smoothed out by the end of the first chapter, so don’t base your opinion of the book on the early pages.  And Daniel seemed to accept this whole dream world concept much too easily for my tastes.  I suspect the author just wanted to get on with the adventure, but a little skepticism on Daniel’s part at the beginning would have seemed more realistic to me and could have revealed more about his character.  

I also felt some of the rules explaining how or why various things worked in the dream world could have been described in more detail.  I’m not asking for infodumps, but there were times when complex concepts were summed up in a single sentence that might leave some readers confused.  It’s not necessary to have played role playing games to follow some of these explanations, but it helps.  

To be honest, my biggest disappointment was with the ending.  I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, but after spending most of the book setting up all sorts of mysteries for Daniel to solve and introducing us to the bad guy who grows ever more powerful over the course of the book, the story just kind of ends, leaving most of these issues unresolved.  Apparently, some of these plotlines are addressed in the next book, but I would have liked more of them resolved in this book. 

Still, I enjoyed the book, which is as much about Daniel growing up as it is about his adventures in a strange world. I’m giving Messenger a 4 out of 5, knocking off a half star because of the ending.

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an  honest review.


43 comments:

  1. Sorry it didn't post right! We rely so much on the Internet now. When we can't connect, it's stressful.

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    1. I was surprised at how limiting it was when I couldn't get to the Internet. Probably not a good thing.

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  2. Here from Alex's blog. I'm now a follower. How could I resist? I love Harry Potter. I also am highly intrigued by your book. I love the premise. I take it Alex gave the review. He did a good job. I'll have to check it out when you get it posted on Amazon.

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    1. Do you mean the book I reviewed written by Scott Rhine? My own book is still unfinished.

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  3. This post in the wake of news that 2.1 billion internet users were hacked by a Russian group. Yeah, me either--don't feel so secure about the internet either!

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    1. Yep. I still use Windows XP on one of my computers at home. Talk about feeling vulnerable....

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  4. I think my life would drastically and horribly change without the internet. It connects me to other writers, to my job, to tons of information. If it went kaput... egads, that's scary to think about.

    Glad you're back with a connection!

    Loni

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    1. It's sad to say, but I feel like a real person again now that I can once again connect to the Internet. I can't imagine what would happen if the Internet was to disappear. I'd certainly have to change my book writing habits.

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  5. I grew up in a time without computers or cell phones. Now I freak when they don't work. LOL It's so easy to get used to the convenience of it all.

    Great post. Very unique but relevant topic. :)
    IWSG #184 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Imagine the kids who have grown up with nothing but computers and cell phones. Imagine how much they'd freak out.

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  6. It is amazing how freaked out I get when my internet isn't working. For years I resisted even getting a smartphone. Now I can't imagine not having it, which I know is silly. I wish I wasn't so dependent but I can't deny I am.

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    1. Smartphones are great, aren't they? Sometimes I wish we'd have more storms just so I have a reason to look up the weather radar on it. Pathetic!

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  7. I had tech problems myself in the last week. It's crazy how we've come to rely on them so much, we just can't help but freak out when something is not working.

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    1. It must be something about vacations. I came back from visiting my mother several weeks ago to find the power supply to my computer was fried. Thank goodness there are no more vacations for awhile.

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  8. Oh yeah, lack of internet drives me insane. Don't get me wrong, I love some alone time, but when there are things I thought I'd be able to do, and I CAN'T, well, that makes me a little crazy.

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    1. Nothing wrong with time away from the Internet... as long as I get to choose when that happens. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Ooo, The Messenger sounds really cool. No access is par for the course where I live. Once you leave town, good luck with a signal of any kind.

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    1. Too bad. Oregon sounds like a great place to live.

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  10. Love the cover!

    I also went on a trip during a blog tour. Expected to visit each site and managed, but like you say we can't always count on access. Not stressful at all. :-)

    Good luck with the book :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. I couldn't even imagine being a part of a blog tour and not having constant, reliable access to the net. Had I thought about it far enough in advance, I never would have scheduled the review during my vacation.

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  11. Openings can be hard to write. The fact that he straightened it out and kept your attention is a good note. You mentioning it is even better. I like to know these things in advance when I choose a story. Happy IWSG, Ken. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. To be honest, the opening was still pretty good. I just wanted to make sure readers gave the book a fair shot before deciding whether they wanted to purchase it or not. Thanks for the comment.

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  12. LOL, I'm lost without wifi access! It's sad, I know. I do get used to it, and eventually enjoy it, but for the first few days I'm like and addict jonesing for a fix!

    Thanks for the review! It was honest and concise and helpful, and that's the best thing anyone can ask for!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. I haven't written that many reviews yet and I want to continue to get better.

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  13. Were you in the UP? Sporadic internet sounds like Upper Michigan. LOL

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    1. Close but not quite, although we did spend a couple of days on or around Mackinac Island.

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  14. I know that lost wifi feeling. I'm always anxious when I know I'm going to be gone from the internet for more than a day. Thanks for sharing the review.

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    1. I don't mind going without it for a day or two. It's kind of relaxing. But I want the ability to jump back on at a moment's notice. I never knew when I'd have access, and that drove me crazy.

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  15. Thanks for reposting the review. I was busy all day feeling insecure because of rotten internet security today, my own. I got hacked at sherahart.net. I had to change everyone's passwords. Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water, another new admin popped up. dum-dum-dum-dumb?

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    1. Oh, oh. Sounds like I'm going to have to change my passwords.

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  16. Yes the internet certainly has its issues... good things and bad things. I am resisting getting a smart phone as long as possible. I traveled this weekend and still printed out my maps ahead of time like I've done for years, even though most people rely on GPS and smart phone maps.

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  17. I really would not do well without my interwebz. Hope everything gets straightened out soon!

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  18. I actually like switching off from the net now and then. It's a breath of fresh air... but of course it's difficult when there are deadlines involved.

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  19. I don't mind switching off for a time, when it is my choice. It drives me mad when I am expecting to be connected and I am not.

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  20. For writers, I think the internet is important. When I was on holiday in the Highlands of Scotland earlier this year, I braced myself for no internet and was pleased to discover I had wifi... especially when I had book stuff that needed publicising.

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    1. Ha! If I were stuck in Scotland with no Internet, I wouldn't notice at all. I'd be so happy just running around and exploring the place.

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  21. Yikes! You should have made an excursion to a local library. I don't know how you could do it--the time away from the interwebs...but I'm envious. ;)

    Lovely review. What a unique and awesome concept for a book.

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    1. Actually I did go to the local library, but their wi-fi was so bad I had to leave. They said the problem had only started that day, but it seemed like that was the same excuse I heard no matter where I went. Very frustrating.

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  22. Oh, the internet! It's one of those crazy things. But yeah, we do get dependent on it. Too bad, really.
    Great book review! It sounds like it has a few unique twists and turns.

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    1. I can only imagine how much more dependent we're going to be on the net in the next ten years. Scary thought.

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  23. When we moved house we were without the internet for two weeks. It's nice to begin with but I soon felt removed from everything.

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  24. Recently I wasn't able to access the internet on my home computer, and I feared I'd have to take the computer in for repair, which I can't afford as I'm on disability. I had to dash off to the public library to do the essentials for my blog and 2 Facebook pages.

    But I also felt that I could do it that way for a while if I had to, and so that was a comfort. Of course, if I don't have the money to fix my computer I likely won't have the money to go to town much--- or at all.

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  25. I freely admit that my social media addiction has caused me to freak out a little on vacations where I can't reach the internet. Two years ago, I climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico (book research!), and my husband's favorite picture is one of me seated on the edge of the pyramid, halfway up. I've got my phone out, and I'm in the middle of complaining that I can't post my status ("On the pyramid!") to Facebook. Pitiful, huh?

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