Friday, March 29, 2013

Mini-Reviews Round 6

While watching college basketball today (Thursday), I was shocked--pleasantly so--to hear one of the commentators use the word "alacrity" in a sentence.  That's a great word, the kind you too rarely hear sports journalists break out, and it was a welcome breath of fresh air amid a sea of overuse cliches and truisms.  Good for you, sports commentator whose name I don't remember.  Good for you.

Below the break, check out my thoughts on a few stories I've recently read.  I'll try to use one or two good words, if I remember.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

6-Star Reviews Part 138: Anthropology

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Count me among the X-million Americans who went ahead and filled out a bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament, despite the fact that I watch virtually no college basketball besides a few tournament games each year.  With predictable results, no less; after the first week, I'm already getting thoroughly trounced.

Below the break, my review of JasonTheHuman's Anthropology.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Have Some Site News. That's Almost As Good As a Review, Right?

I actually finished Anthropology on Saturday, but I'm having trouble figuring out what I want to say about it for the review.  So, rather than rush that out, let me update you all on a change I made to the site: I've added a word-verification step to comments.

I imagine that most of you are reacting to this news with either an apathetic shrug and a "So what?" or an eye roll accompanied by a muttered "It's about time."  Spam's been a problem in the comments for almost a year, but it's really gotten ridiculous in the last couple of months, and I'm tired of cleaning up posts multiple times a day.  I'm guessing those bot posts aren't any more popular with you all than they are with me.

Still, this is something I really didn't want to do, because it creates a barrier to entry.  Having to read and retype a few letters isn't a big barrier to entry, sure, but that doesn't mean it's not real.  I don't like it when other sites use Capcha or similar services, and I know it makes me less likely to post on sites that do; I've lost lengthy comments to a bad guess on a word-verification challenge before (I really should save my comments before submitting, but who remembers to do that?), and just seeing that such a setup is in place makes me less likely to toss in my two cents.  I don't like the thought that someone could read one of my posts, type up something intelligent and insightful, then lose it to the ether and not bother to re-type it.  I hate the idea of losing that dialogue because I put up a roadblock to conversation.

But, I also hate the idea of conversation being impeded by a cadre of robotic hustlers, and it looks like I have to pick one or the other.  Anyway, we'll see how this goes.  Hopefully people don't feel shut out and spam goes away, but if that's not how things work out, I'll try something different (what?  I don't know.  Something).  And at least this way, I can (hopefully) preserve anonymous commenting--almost everyone who comments here uses an account, but I can't, don't, and won't feel comfortable telling anyone who doesn't have gmail, openID, or whatever that they aren't allowed to have an opinion.  So, here's to giving word-verification a shot: may it solve more problems than it creates.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Plastic Men, or: Present Day Chris Reviews Middle School Chris

Having already written the blog post requested by Present Perfect, I now turn my attention to the one which WTFHIW generously bought through the Las Pegassist auction.  Here's the message he sent me:

On an article topic for you, Chris, how about this: Take a trip down memory lane by digging through your personal story archive and write a review of an old story of yours—be it years or even decades old—and take the opportunity to consider your own growth as a writer as you’ve both aged and gained more experience. The older the story the better, and if you stumble across one that you were particularly fond of back in the day but had practically forgotten, that’s better still.

Well, I found some of my middle school-era creative writing, and... well, let's just say it's a good thing WTFHIW paid up front and that I have a healthy sense of obligation, because I'm really not looking forward to sharing what I've unearthed.  Click below the break if you dare.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Permission to Fail

I think it goes without saying that most authors, whatever their capacity or subject matter, want to write well. I think it also goes without saying that this is, in and of itself, a good thing.  But there are constructive and destructive ways to to this, and I want to talk a little bit about one of the things that differentiates the two.  Click below the break for my thoughts on the matter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

For a Change, Let's Talk About Actual Books (Part 7)

Okay, there's no way to say this without sounding really stupid, but here goes...

You might have noticed that the last two posts went up on Thursday and Saturday, rather than Wednesday and Friday like normal.  It's not that I was way behind or experimenting with some new schedule or anything like that; I just lost track of what day it was.  See, I stayed home from work with a bug half of last week, and somehow my mind just added an extra day in there or something.  Never mind that I've got a calendar sitting in plain view in my room... or that the date is clearly posted on probably half the internet sites I frequent, including my own... which I updated twice during that stretch, on the wrong day... look, the point is, sometimes I'm not very clever.

One benefit to being sick, though, is that I've had plenty of reading time.  Click below the break to see what books I've been catching up on lately.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

6-Star Reviews Part 137: The Somewhere Cycle; Volume 1: "Wander and Green Brier"

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

As those of you who follow along at home may have noticed, The Somewhere Cycle etc. (jeeze, that's a long title) isn't actually a 6-star story on EqD.  So why is it getting reviewed here?  Because PresentPerfect, one of the two people who are getting FABULOUS PRIZES after bidding on my services for the Las Pegasus auction, requested it!  As part of the prize, he got to request that I post about a particular subject, and this is the message he sent me:

Chris, I would like you to review the story "The Somewhere Cycle: Volume 1" by the Descendant. I guarantee it would have been 6 stars on EQD had anyone actually voted on it.

That's good enough for me!  So for today, we're going to pretend that this story had gotten the prerequisite 50 votes back in the day, and I'll be reviewing it as such.  Click below the break to see what I think.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mini-Reviews Round 5

Not much to say up here; head down below the break to see what I've been reading fanfic-wise lately, along with some informal blurbs about the lot of it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

6-Star Reviews Part 136: Frigid Winds and Burning Hearts

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

If you haven't already, you all might want to check the comments section on my most recent post.  There's a... thing being created down there, and I don't think I'm up to the task of describing it.

Looks like everyone's having fun, though, and who doesn't like fun things?

Speaking of fun things, click down below the break to read my review of Grey Prophet's Frigid Winds and Burning Hearts.  After all, what's more fun than a fanfic review?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

6-Star Reviews Return Monday

I am moderately sick; sick enough to spend most of the day lying in bed and groaning, anyway.  Since this is not a state conducive to reading OR reviewing, I've got nothing ready for today.

If you find that you absolutely need something from me to ponder as you go into the weekend, here.  That ought to keep you busy for a while.

I feel like I should say "6-Star Reviews return Monday  to close, but I already put that in the title, so it seems redundant.  So, ah... cia!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Niche Knowledge and the Inexpert Audience

Sorry for the late post, guys; my internet connection got knocked out last night, and I hadn't set this to post yet.  But we're back in business this morning, so have some slightly-late guest columnage!  Click down below the break for author and editor Pascoite's take on the use of technical jargon in writing for a general audience. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

6-Star Reviews Part 135: Our First Steps

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

You remember on Friday, where I talked about the Las Pegassist stuff?  Well, I'd like to take a moment to thank WTFHIW, who didn't just put up the winning bid for my auction, but paid for the second-place bidder to get my services as well.  Overall, there was a lot of generous bidding, so kudos to everyone who participated, as a buyer or seller!

Below the break, my review of Mrakoplaz's Our First Steps.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mini-Reviews Round 4

Before we dive into some short and sweet commentary on a few fics I recently read, I'd like to point you all towards the Las Pegasus Relief League: a group which has put together a charity auction to benefit people who found themselves facing financial hardship due to some, er, "problems" at the Las Pegasus convention.  If you want to do something nice for some people who could use a little help, consider hopping over there and either bidding on some of the items or services up for auction, or offering up an item or service yourself.

This being a fanfic site, I'm going to point out that some well-recognized names (well-recognized in the field of MLP fanfiction, anyway) are involved.  RBDash47 (aka "The Pony Fiction Vault guy"), Bad Horse, Pav Feira, and NickNack are just some of the better-known names, if you want someone to write, edit, or otherwise assist in your fanfiction.

I'm in on it to, by the way.  Go read the post, and think about spending some money for a good cause!  The auction ends Saturday night at midnight Pacific.  But now, on to the mini-reviews, conveniently located just behind the page break.