Friday, 28 September 2018

Influences of Astrology in Character development

A lot of people will tell you astrology is a pseudo science, or completely made up, and that ones star sign has no bearing on a persons personality or the way they will live their lives. I for one stopped taking my horoscope seriously once I was out of my teens and now only indulge for a laugh.

I'm a Leo. The personality of a Leo is described as  

Affectionate, warm and cheerful people, Leos can be counted on to bring sunshine into other people's lives. Dignified, playful, ambitious and loyal, they're known for being exceptionally generous. On the negative side, they can be quite egotistical, demanding, intolerant, domineering, lazy and stubborn.
Very little of this describes me. I can pick out a few that maybe fit - affection, dignified, loyal, stubborn but most of it not so much. I'm more on the shy side, tend to be moody with high chances of sarcasm and I work hard because anything worth doing is worth doing well.

However, when it comes to creating a fictional character, how much of their personality is dependent on their star sign. I have to admit that I do look at star signs when designing characters, because I give each of my characters a birth date. Not necessarily a year, but they always have a day and month.

Let me share with you a couple of examples.

Cassandra (from the Cassandra Farbanks Series) is born on 23rd of March. This makes her an Aries. Aries are described as

Aries personalities are independent. Being the first of the zodiac signs, they venture out and are go-getters, often leading the way. Their upbeat and magnetic personality often entices others to follow their lead because their personalities bring excitement into others lives.
 I tried to put a lot of this into Cassandra. I certainly made her a leader not a follower and tried to make her magnetic. Lots of different supernatural groups gravitate towards her, especially in times of crisis when they need a strong leader.

Cera (from the Cera Raine Series) is born November 7th. This makes her a Scorpio. Scorpio's are described as

Scorpio-born are passionate and assertive people. ... Scorpios are known by their calm and cool behavior, and by their mysterious appearance. People often say that Scorpio-born are fierce, probably because they understand very well the rules of the universe.
Again I tried to put this into Cera's personality. She is very cool, calm and assertive. She knows what she wants, works out how to get it, and goes after it. She is also a very passionate person and because one of my parents is a Scorpio, I was privy to a book growing up that claims Scorpios are fantastic lovers.

If you consider star signs in personality development for characters - what else could influence them? There is so much information out there that links personality to things - such as the day we are born, the date we are born, the month we are born in, our Chinese zodiac year. All of these can be great building blocks in character development.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Dusty Pages Review: The Bet

Avery Eaken is challenged by her best friend. "Since you don't have a boyfriend, ask a stranger."
It has been a long time, and the man pointed out to her radiates heat. She’s not sure what she is getting into, and gets even more than she thought.

I downloaded this for free some time ago, and kinda glad I didn't pay for it. It's a very short story - not that I minded that. What bothered me was, well, it was like the writer decided to write a sex story - which again I am perfectly okay with - then they decided, no, it couldn't be just about the sex it had to have something else. It tried to become a thriller (or at least I think that was what the author attempted) by throwing in undercover cops, drugs and a bust gone wrong.

The sex was fine. It was pretty standard, turned the key but didn't start the car ~ if you know what I mean. There were other elements that sort of spoiled it, apart from the whole lets try to give this thing a more substantial plot half way through. First was that we were following around in Averys head for most of the book, then suddenly we switch to Reed's (the lover) - mainly because for said secondary plot to work, we needed to follow him around to places Avery probably wouldn't go and to know things she couldn't possibly have known.

The second was how lazy the secondary plot was. It was literally like it'd been thrown in at the last minute. There was no background to Reed's character at all. Avery's background was bare bones. Although its called a The Bet, the bet between the two friends hardly features and its more accurately childish double daring than an actual wager of any kind. The villain of the piece never even got a real name referred the entire time as White Socks.

It's sad because I felt the potential was there.

I give it

Monday, 24 September 2018

Meet a Writer Monday Presents...

... J E Reed

1. Tell me about your book, Running with the Wolves, and where you got your inspiration for it?

Running with the Wolves is a book that centers on the survival of people that are placed in a harsh environment. They have little help and are forced to collaborate with strangers for their survival. This presents many challenges, one of which includes how people choose to act when there is no government or law to restrict ill behavior such as murder, theft, etc. This, along with monsters and magic, creates a bit of a hostile environment.

I got my inspiration for Running with the Wolves through a game I once played. Many things I mention in the book are results of real gameplay and some stories have been twisted to make them into something more sinister. By interacting with various people and cultures I came to learn that not everyone reacts to situations the same way and people aren’t always as honest as they claim to be. Human nature is a funny thing.

2. Mountains or the beach?

This has to be the hardest question. If the mountains are cold and icy, then I’d definitely choose the beach. But if I’m given the chance to hike and camp in mountains that are lush and green then I doubt I could pass it up.

3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. I’m a bit of an anime fanatic and have fallen in love with the culture there. I plan to visit the old shrines, climb Mt. Fuji and with any luck have the chance to visit the Ghibli Museum. It might be asking a lot, but meeting Hayao Miyazaki would be a great honor. He’s Japan’s equivalent to Disney. Oddly enough, I do have family that live in Japan.

4. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

I want to succeed as a writer because I want the opportunity to discuss my book and its characters with complete strangers. I picture myself doing this and can’t wait for someone to come up to me and ask questions I might have never thought of.

5. Would you rather explore a new planet, or the deepest parts of the ocean? Why?

I can’t say both wouldn’t be scary, but I’m far less scared of the ocean than I am space. I don’t know about the deepest parts, as I’m sure there are things down there that would haunt my nightmares, but the ocean does fascinate me.

6. How would you survive a Zombie apocalypse?

I’ve watched The Walking Dead (at least up until they killed my favorite character) and the whole prision thing really seemed to work out for them. I never could figure out why they just didn’t go find another one. With that being said, I’d like to find one as far away from populated society as possible. Or there’s always the option of a small island. As long as the zombies aren’t the Resident Evil kind I ought to be okay.

7. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

I write fantasy because of the worlds I can create. I like having the ability to set the rules for a specific place and put my characters in situations that wouldn’t normally be possible.

8. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

I aim to hit 3000 words a day when I’m trying to finish a draft. If I’m strictly editing. I usually set aside one hour blocks and make myself stay put. No internet, no tea, no distractions. Then I take a fifteen minute break and do it again. Usually no more than three hours.

9. Do you let a book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Yes, this is necessary for my writing process. When I finish a rough draft, I let the book sit for a minimum of six weeks. In this time period I try to read as many books as I can and listen to music while my mind is mulling over ideas. When new ideas spring up, I write them in a notebook to add it into the first draft. It’s amazing what your brain comes up with when it’s allowed to rest and your imagination is set free from deadlines.

10. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

I know many people would like to say a book can’t be judged by its cover, but honestly I feel we all do it on some level. If you’re in a book store there are hundreds of books around you and whatever catches your eye draws you in. Despite us not wanting to admit it, I think deep down the cover plays a major role.

11. What part of your writing time do you dedicate to marketing your book?

At least one day a week, usually a day I’m not working at my day job. I have a notebook where I jot down venues, bloggers and ideas. On a daily basis, I try to find at least one thing to add to my list to research.

12. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Good reviews are amazing and can make you feel awesome, but bad reviews shouldn’t be taken as an attack on your character. To me, there is a difference between bad reviews and critical reviews. If a review tells me what they didn’t like about a story, then perhaps the book simply wasn’t for them. If they say I need to work on something, then I’ll do a bit of research and perfect my skill. If they are down right mean, then they just have to be ignored. Sadly, not everyone in this world is happy and they seek to bring others down with them.

13. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

What are reigns? I have that option? The characters decide EVERYTHING. My rough drafts are very messy because of that, but the story feels so right because I know it’s what the characters would really do. Sometimes I have to flip a few things around to ensure details stay straight, but it always turns out.

14. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A little of both. I have a few characters that are completely made up and others I have based off people I know. In reality, despite a character being based off a real person, the character is only one’s interpretation of that person.


Ten realms will test everything.

For two years she led an alliance, forming bonds with people from around the world—but someone was watching. Chronopoint was only meant to be a game, until she found herself trapped in that world.

Fighting to survive, Kiuno discovers she’s not the only player who has been thrown into this strange land. Hideous, twisted monsters only seen in nightmares plague their every move. Untold powers lie at the hands of the chosen and flames dance at her fingertips.

Can Kiuno find the players from her alliance or will she be too late and discover death has taken far more than she ever imagined?

About J. E.

J.E. Reed lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two cats. She’s always had an interest in writing, but didn’t explore that talent fully until 2015. Reed works as a Licensed Massage Therapist in the quiet town of Anderson. She graduated massage school in 2009 and has spent the last three years building her small business. She enjoys swimming, yoga and the occasional mud run with friends.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Dusty Pages Review: Bidding War

Shane Stafford and his brother, Jason, have always been competitive, but when they start competing for the same woman, only one of the brothers is playing for keeps.
When Lucy Watson accepts a home staging contract with the Stafford brothers, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Both brothers seem determined to get her into bed, but can she choose between these two sinfully sexy men? Let the games begin…
 If you could even get hold of a copy of this book anymore, I wouldn't read it. Not because its a bad book, but because it leaves so many unresolved issues and the author seems to have disappeared. I finally managed to find a page for her on Goodreads, but her Amazon page (including this title and any others she had), and her website (listed at the back of this book) no longer exist. You won't get the resolution you'll need.

I picked this up on Kindle back in 2012, a time in my life when I was downloading every free book I could get my hands on but never getting around to reading them. Recently, I finally selected this book, hoping for a quick good read to get me through a long wait somewhere. Although it didn't take me long to get through it, and I did enjoy the story - as I said above, there is so much left that either needed to be explored or was left hanging for another book that never happened.

The other thing I don't understand is the title. The premise of the book seems that there are two brothers fighting over the same girl. Thing is, its not really accurate. You have one brother who is the clear winner though there is conversation about the many times the other brother has been shot down by the woman in question. If it were a bidding war, I would have thought Lucy the protagonist would have had to be interested in both brothers to some degree, but her interest was clearly only in one. So the story was more about one brother who got the girl and the pissed off things the young brother did to try to ruin their relationship because he's an ass who couldn't take not interested as an answer. Plus some stuff going on with her brother *spoiler* He's near death at the end of the book when are lead man decides its the perfect moment to propose to Lucy and more stupidly she accepts without knowing if her only family member will live to be at the wedding!

I give it

Monday, 17 September 2018

Tomb Raider

Roar Uthaug directs this action adventure reboot of the popular computer game starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. Following the disappearance of her father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), Lara inherits his estate and stumbles upon his work on the mythical Queen of Yamatai, Himiko, who was said to have held ultimate power over life and death. In search of answers, Lara enlists the help of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), captain of the ship Endurance, to sail to the island believed to have been Yamatai. After a violent storm wrecks their ship, Lara finds herself on the mythical island where she becomes embroiled in a fight against archaeologist Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), who has taken over the island along with members of the shadowy organisation Trinity as they also investigate the legend of Himiko, but with more sinister intentions in mind to harness her great power... 

Yes, Hollywood are taking another attempt at turning a popular game series into a movie franchise and I have much higher hopes for this run than the originals with Angelina Jolie. Alicia Vikander's portrayal of Lara is much more in tune with the comic book series spawned by the games and the actual game play itself rather than the computer generated body type. Yes Jolie looked more right for the part with the bee stung pout and the padding, but Alicia make her Lara an entirely more relatable person.

This films has had mixed reviews from the critics, calling this portrayal of the character as a "punching bag" and a "observer". However, I think that is perfectly in line with the story they are trying to tell. Lara didn't hit puberty and suddenly become a bad ass femme who went from ancient wonder to ancient wonder, kicking bad guy butt and taking names. She had to be shaped into that sort of person. This first movie, you can see a lot of progress from the beginning to the end where she starts to become that person. It is also highly unrealistic to believe that Lara as a woman trained only in the safety of a boxing ring should be able to take out the trained mercenaries of the Trinity without a little bit of running away, regrouping, planning, and heaven forbid getting her ass kicked.

I enjoyed this movie for what it is, a young woman's quest for answers, having to solve puzzles and traps along the way. I thoroughly recommend that you watch it for yourself and ignore the critics. Its one of the better from console to screen adaptations I've seen and I would be very pleased to see a sequel.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Dusty Pages Review: Secrets Of a Sun King

London, 1922.
A discovery from ancient Egypt . . .
A cursed package . . .
The untold story of a young pharaoh . . .

When Lilian Kaye finds a parcel on her grandad's doorstep, she is shocked to see who sent it: a famous Egyptologist, found dead that very morning, according to every newspaper in England!
The mysterious package holds the key to a story . . . about a king whose tomb archaeologists are desperately hunting for.
Lil and her friends must embark on an incredible journey - to return the package to its resting place, to protect those they love, and to break the deadly pharaoh's curse . . .

 I loved this book. I've always been fascinated by Egypt, and there was always a great amount of controversy around this particular excavation. King Tutankhamen has been such a mysterious figure as he was a pharaoh that died so young and his burial was so unusual compared to the great tombs of his predecessors. This story investigates the why by having a young girl and her friends stumble across a missing piece of an ancient puzzle, in a race to stop a curse from taking from them the very people they love. Throw in a couple of interesting side drama's and you've got the makings of a really good story.

I've never read anything by Emma Carroll before and picked this up at the cashiers desk because it was recommended to me as a way to get the Buy One get one Half Price offer on another book I was purchasing. I can clearly see why they have dubbed this woman the Queen of Historical Fiction. Some books go so heavy into the History, that well, for me at least, they become a snore. This book focused on the story of the characters with the history just being the setting and background to what was happening in their lives.

It was really enjoyable and not only am I encouraged to pick something else by this author to read (and there were several nice suggestions on the back page of the book) but I would thoroughly recommend Secrets of a Sun King to anyone.

I give it