Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

As often happens to me during the ‘I have no idea how to work on a project’ phase of getting ready to actually pick a project, I was wandering around Kmart when I absently picked up a book and read the blurb. Usually, that’s as far as it goes. I might read the first page or two to see if I like the voice, but normally that’s where it stops.

Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood had me reading the whole first chapter before I realised what I’d done. Which meant the book was coming home with me. 

The book is about Cas Lowood, a 17yro ghost hunter who has a very supportive and understanding white witch for a mother. Set in modern US/Canada, written in first person present tense, this book is definitely a good one to pick up if you have a day spare. Despite my open aversion to first person, and my distrust of present tense, this book had me read the whole thing in a day. Which, considering the day was 44C is no mean feat.

Cas is an understandable and likable protagonist, and manages to balance out being a teenager and not being so annoying you want to hit him with a board. He struggles with making friends, the idea of staying in one place, and coming to terms with his inheritance. Blake’s style is engaging, with just a touch of humour, and the descriptions of the things that go bump in the night are enough to make me seriously consider a night-light.

I would recommend reading this book during the day, and then watching something feel good that will keep your mind from wandering back into the book when the lights go out. Not Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, because that man knows how to make people jump. But that’s a whole other review.

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Something else that goes bump in the night.

The Dice Gods Know

Last night I had the coolest character creation session in a while, and it was all thanks to the dice gods and some well made tables.
Part of the fun was the amazing group of people and the interesting rule set, but then we hit character background and it got interesting.
I am not, I confess, a good person for planning characters regardless of why I should be. I tend to fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants whether it be for roleplays or writing. Usually, this flexibility works in my favour during the initial stages of party balancing or vomit copy drafting. Of course, it means my characters don’t have much background to start with.
Pathfinder and the dice gods soon fixed the background problem! I kid you not, I had picked a funky race I’d never heard of and one of their specialist classes, and every dice roll I made just increased the awesomeness of this random character I had never thought of.
As people, we are trained to look for patterns and to make meaning out of things. As a writer, it’s my job to set up information to work with, and sometimes contradict, patterns of story and character that are a big part of how I see the world.
I’m bracing myself of a foray into ‘Now What?’ month in February, so I’m taking the dice gods advice on board. It’s time for me to take the stories I have and work them into a bit of a tapestry. It’s not going to be pretty, or overly intricate, but it’s going to be my work.
And if I get stuck, I know how to get myself thinking outside my usual parameters…

Edited to have a different picture, this is what happens when I think a picture is awesome…

Someone is helping me find things I put 'somewhere safe'.

Someone is helping me find things I put ‘somewhere safe’.

Mind Silence

There is a silence that seems to follow big things, a pause for consequences. It lingers, and the less clear the connection between case and effect, the longer and broader the silence.
I am sitting in a kind of silence, my mind still blank from the effort of getting Thesis coherent before deadline. There was the promise of great things, or productivity to rival even the months of NaNoWriMo. Those promises are echoes in the vast, soft silence as I try and tease out anything that may resemble motivation. Creativity has curled up in a corner somewhere, and isn’t coming out.
However, I have been able to write lists. Lots of them. I have lists of my story ideas, where they are in the process, what I know I can do to fix things. I have lists of small things I can do to try and bring back motivation. Lists and lists and lists.
Now all I have to do is cross some things off them.
Blog post, check!

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Someone is trying to help make the lists go away, but I don’t think it’ll help…