Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting Review

3 Stars. Wished it was Darker. I loved the concept of this book. It was quirky and interesting. Violet has a special ability that helps her find dead bodies. And, when girls her age start getting murdered in her hometown, she's in a pequilar situation to both help the police in their investigation, but also draw attention to herself.

There were a few parts in the beginning where the backstory got heavy. There were also places where I felt there was more telling than showing. For example, when the second body is found we don't see how Violet finds out about this. I wish we could have seen how she found out and her reaction. There's another part where the book discusses how seriously the school is taking the deaths of these girls, but this isn't really described.

There was some pretty language and a few really beautiful scenes. The chapters through the killer's POV, in particular, had some well-written descriptions. I just wish there'd been a few more of them. One of the things I loved was the death echoes. I liked that each presented in a different way. I thought that entire concept was unique and interesting. I only wish we knew why each person had the echo they had. They seemed a little random.

I felt like the way characters were introduced could have been better. For example, I didn't like that Grady isn't introduced until he asks Violet to the dance. It's mentioned that they've been friends for a while, so I wish the author would have mentioned him earlier. Or, just not mentioned that they were friends growing up because honestly, they didn't seem that close. His arrival felt like the author just added characters as needed. I also felt this way with some of Violet's friends. A few of them aren't mentioned at all until they all go shopping together.

Another thing that bothered me was that I didn't actually like Jay that much. Violet was constantly thinking of Jay throughout the book. Which I understood, but it got to be a bit much at times. He was also kind of controlling and while he seemed to have Violet's back he made a lot of assumptions about what she wanted or what was best for her and I didn't like that. He was pushy. I wish he would have asked Violet what she wanted more often. There were still times when I was rooting for him and Violet, especially in the beginning, but the more I got to know him the more he did things that bugged me.

I liked the subplot with Jay and Grady at first. Violet likes Jay, but Jay seems oblivious and Grady likes her. At first, it was great. But as it went on I got annoyed with it. Violet basically uses Grady. I felt bad for him because she was stringing him along. I wished she had kinda liked him.I also disliked <spoiler> how he attacks her at the party and tries to kiss her. Then Jay swoops in to save the day. It just felt really cliche. I didn't think the author had to turn Grady into a creep. He was more interesting when he was just a guy that liked Violet. </spoiler> Also, there were times where Violet's relationships felt like more of the focus of the story than the murders. More than halfway through the book Violet's involvement with the actual murders had been minimal.  I'm most disappointed by this because the scenes where Violet was tracking down the murderer were awesome!

There were a few scenes where Violet was either purposely looking for the killer, or found herself in a situation where she was near him and the author did a good job building suspense. Whenever Violet was using her abilities I felt like I couldn't put the book down.

Overall it was a fun and unique read, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Psychology Tips for Better Writing (Part 3: Illness and Special Abilities)

This is my third post on character writing, putting my BA in Psychology to work. Well-developed characters are the key to a book readers can't put down. This post will focus on how to believably write characters who are suffering from an illness, and abilities authors often get wrong.



5 tips to writing characters with illnesses or special abilities based on Psychology.


1. Be careful writing about character's with diseases if you are unfamiliar with them. Schizophrenia, for example, is a disorder writers often get wrong. Yes, people with Schizophrenia can have hallucinations. However, visual hallucinations, especially elaborate ones are super rare. Hallucinating sounds or smells are far more common, and people don't always hear voices. I had a professor once talk about a schizophrenic woman who hallucinated the smell of oranges. (At very least, if you're going to have a character with visual hallucinations, mention in your story how rare this is.) Multiple Personality Disorder is another one people often get wrong -- and no, it is not the same as Schizophrenia! So, if you're going to write about a character with a mental disorder, please take the time to do proper research. That said, writing is also about creating. If writers can make up fantastical creatures like vampires and werewolves then why not make up magical diseases? You can certainly do this, but be careful not to call a made up disorder by a real name. This can be harmful and offensive to people dealing with that disorder.

29 Books about Mental Health that Actually Nail It

6 Popular Movies that Got Mental Illness Wrong

2. Photographic memory is not a real thing. Not even when someone has experienced a trauma! Our memories fade with time, regardless of how important the memory was. You are more likely to remember an experience that you had a strong emotional response to, but the details of that memory will fade at the same rate of every other memory. (Ex: You're more likely to remember what you were doing on 9/11/01 than say 9/10/01. But that memory is no less susceptible to fading over time or being altered in your mind than any other memory you have.) So, unless your character has hyperthymesia it's unlikely they'll remember every little detail about a moment in their past. If your character is reminiscing on something, keep in mind that memory will lose detail over time and if they remember specifics, give them a reason for doing so. For example, if a character remembers that something happened at precisely 6 pm, maybe the reason they remember that is because they sat down to watch their favorite TV show that starts at 6 pm. Also, be careful with time travel. If you're going to write a science fiction novel where characters travel back in time it would be unrealistic to have them remember precise details about things that happened years ago.

3. Repressed memories and fake memories. Having a character recover a repressed memory is a common occurrence in books and movies. However, there isn't a whole lot of data to suggest whether or not repressed memories can actually be recovered. The theory stands that people repress memories due to a high level of stress or trauma being associated with that memory and later something in that person's life, therapy or otherwise, triggers the memory allowing it to return. People certainly forget things and memories can be altered, but the suggestion that trauma causes a person to "repress" a memory doesn't hold a lot of weight. People are actually more likely to remember something with an emotional component, like trauma, than they are to repress it. There isn't really any evidence to suggest that we can repress a memory and recall it later in the way Hollywood and novelists often suggest. What can occur, and rather easily, is that false memories can be created. The problem is that memory recovery techniques used to recall repressed memories are highly likely to give rise to false memories. There are many cases of sexual abuse memories being "recovered" that later turned out to be implanted memories.

False Memory Syndrome Foundation

How to Instill False Memories

False Memories of Sexual Abuse lead to Terrible Miscarriages of Justice

4. Stages of death and dying. Writing a character who's dealing with the death of a loved one, or a character who is dying himself can be a tricky endeavor. Grief is a complicated monster, and when written correctly can be a very powerful subject. The thing I think most writers get wrong is having their character get over their grief too quickly. Dealing with death and dying is a process defined by five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While each person may handle each stage in a different way, different order, and stay in each stage for a different length of time, it's most important as a writer that you show your character going through them. This is a serious 'show don't tell' moment if you want your readers to care. I think it's also important to note that once a character has reached the acceptance stage, that doesn't mean 'poof, they're better' and everything goes back to the way it was. Acceptance of death doesn't mean your character has "gotten over it." Processing death and dying will most likely change your character in some way. If you want a good example of grief in the movies, check out Good Will Hunting and avoid Manchester by the Sea.

5. Psychiatrists dating their patients is highly unethical. Ok, so this last fact is more about Psychology as a profession, but still, a useful thing to know if you decide to put your character in therapy. When studying to become a psychiatrist or a psychologist (and yes they are different) confidentiality and ethics are huge. I know this because I started working toward my Master in Psychology about a year ago. Any therapist risks losing their license by getting involved with a current or former client. The rule used to be therapists could not be romantically involved with a former patient until two years had passed. But, the 2016 ACA code of ethics now states they must wait 5 years. Personal relationships, romantic or friendships could be harmful to clients and therapists. So, if you have a character you plan to have hooking up with their shrink, you need to give said shrink a really really good reason to throw away their career and ethics for.

If you liked this post, check out...

Psychology Tips for Better Writing (Part 1: Believable Characters)
Psychology Tips for Better Writing (Part 2: Characters who do Bad Things)


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Official Website Debut

The self-publishing route isn't an easy road, and it's certainly not a cheap one, especially for a new author. That was why when I started writing I pinched pennies everywhere I could. That included using a free Blogger site (this one) as my web page instead of "splurging" on my very own domain name. Back in 2012 when I started blogging and published my first book, it was more important to have something that I knew I could afford to keep running than to spend money on something pretty with my own domain.

But, I do think a pretty website and domain names are important. They're a sign of professionalism. A real website with a .com domain is official, and it's easier to find. And I'm happy to announce that I finally have one! You can now find me at...

www.LaurynApril.com

Don't worry though, that doesn't mean the blog is going away. I'm going to continue posting as usual on my blog. But, I hope all of you check out my official web page, and join my mailing list! Please leave me some comments and let me know what you think.

To the other authors who follow my blog, do you have a website? Leave me a link in the comments.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June Wrap-Up

Happy Fourth of July! Also, I'm sorry that this post is late. I try to post my monthly wrap-ups on the first Saturday of the month, but I had a busy week so I'm four days late.




READING:

Books Reviewed in June:

Oblivion by Jennifer Armentrout - I LOVE the Lux series and revisiting the first three books through Daemons POV was awesome!

Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty - This was interesting, but a little slow for me.

Books Read in June:

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting - I was expecting this to be a YA murder mystery, and it was, but it leaned more to focusing on YA issues when I think they could have gone a little darker.

Books to read in July:

I have nothing planned for July. *Gasp* but for good reason. I have some other things in the works *smiles*. Keep reading for details.



WRITING:

I got Unearthed After Sunset back from my editor last week! I will be working through her suggestions in July. Also, I've been busy working on the third book in the Unearthed series. I'm about a third of the way done with that book. The first draft of Book #2 is done!

Also, I've been working on putting together an official website. So, hopefully, I'll be debuting that in July!



BLOGGING:

Again, I feel like I was slacking a bit in June when it came to blogging, especially with getting my monthly wrap-up out late, but I've been busy writing!

My Favorite Blog Posts in May:

Favorite Post Written: A-Z Book Tag - I love these book tags. After my long hiatus I only just discovered them this year, and I am obsessed. This was a fun one.

Favorite Post Read: Sex in Young Adult Books by The Butterfly Reader. This discussion post caught my eye because it's a topic I've looked into as well. YA books like to tackle coming of age issues that affect teenagers and young adults, but often sex is avoided or glossed over. I wrote a post called YA and the Need for Adult Themes back in 2012 where I shared similar thoughts as the Butterfly Reader about the issues I'd like to see more YA books tackle.



PERSONAL:

My husband and I went to Summerfest this past weekend. This year is the 50th anniversary of "the world's largest music festival," and we had a blast.

How was your June?