Saturday October 24
I was woken up in the middle of the night, from a bad dream. The dream started out with me aimlessly floating around in a void of white light, but I still had my phone with me.
I opened up my Kindle app, to see if HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land had received any reviews. There was only one, and to my horror, this first review was a one-star. Then the typical dream nonsense happened. Once my voiceover started reading the review, the review became a fuzzy, brown pillow with Teddy bear legs, that popped out of my phone, and floated in circles around my head. Every word that the voiceover read, appeared on the pillow, in bold, black embroidery.
The reviewer said things like, “I usually don’t give bad reviews, but I’m sorry, this book was the worst.”… “There was this dragging, million-mile long info dump, at the beginning of the book, that I barely got through.”… “When I got to the story, at last, I had hope that I would enjoy this book more, but I was disappointed.”… “The story was not engaging at all.”… “The characters were flat.”… “I had to force myself to finish it.”… “The quality of the book was very poor.”… “I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.”
I don’t remember this spirit shattering review, word-for-word, but these parts stood out. The full review in the dream, was a lot worse. I mean, this lady went off on a rant, about how terrible she thought my book was, and in typical weird dream fashion, she dedicated this review to her sister, Lucky.
The review pillow disappeared back into my phone, and the white light became a giant TV screen. Jo was on the screen. He apologetically told me that the software he used for the formatting somehow glitched up when the book was uploaded to Amazon, and he didn’t catch it in time.
Jo’s voice was still talking in my thoughts, as I was waking up. My intuition—or maybe it was guardian angels—reassured me that it was only an anxiety dream, and everything was going to be all right. Still, throughout the past three years I’ve been working with Jo, I’ve experienced moments of having a sort of long distance telepathy with him, including waking up at some wee hour of the morning, with his voice in my thoughts. Whenever that happened, I would find out later on that he had sent me an email about something important, around that same time I woke up.
It was only a little after 2:00, which meant that it was after 7:00, in England. Jo allows himself off-time, on weekends. Would he really be up this early, on a Saturday morning, to email me about book production issues? I got a drink of water, and went back to sleep, but the paranoia of a possible flub in my book’s formatting stuck with me for the rest of that day.
Later on that morning, I ate a breakfast of chocolate covered raisins, cheese and grapes, and baloney that was starting to get a little slimy. Then I felt gross, but there was no time to let the stuff digest. Gina and Jaden were visiting that day, and they arrived earlier than I expected.
Gina was going to help me with my promo photos for the Bia Bella Baker author website. Nobody had any updated pictures of me, because I’m such a sourpuss about getting my picture taken. My Facebook picture hasn’t changed in 5 years. My Twitter picture hasn’t changed in seven years, but that picture isn’t even me. Christa got a picture of a girl with her face blurred by sparkly stuff, from Pixalbay, I think.
I know it’s wrongfully bitter, but I refuse to be in pictures, because I can’t see them. It annoys me to no end, when my sisters try to coax me to participate in family picture-taking time. It takes so many nos to get them to back off, and the more I refuse, the more pleading—and kind of winy—their tone gets. Then they give me that pissy little, “Fine.”, when I don’t give in. Gina once told me that she understands how I feel, but I should still let people take pictures of me, because it means a lot to them. Boy, did I want to take her camera-happy phone, and pop her in the mouth with it.
It’s not just my rotten attitude. There’s just something about posing, and putting on a smile that didn’t come naturally, that feels stupid, fake, and cheesy. I was only willing to have my picture taken, that day, for my book’s sake.
before the photo shoot, our plan was to go to the mall, and pick out some promo-picture-worthy clothes and accessories. I don’t ware jewelry, and I dress like a frump. Mostly solid colored shirts and stretch pants. Since I lost the ability to see what I look like, I lost all motivation to look stylish.
There were a couple of cute shirts in my suitcase, that would’ve been fine for the photo shoot, but I thought they were too average-person-looking. I didn’t want to look like the typical middle-aged woman, who could be anyone’s suburban next-door neighbor. I wanted to look as imaginative as the planet where my story takes place. I wanted to look pretty, but in an artsy way. Not a cookie-cutter, traditional type of picture pretty.
The mall was a walking distance from the resort, but me and Gina couldn’t figure out how to open the resort’s gate. The closest available lock wouldn’t budge. So we wandered around the parking lot, like lost and confused bubble-heads, trying to find a way out. Gina suggested that we climb over the gate, which would’ve been hilarious.
Walking around in the hot sunshine made me feel even more gross and bloated, from breakfast. It didn’t help that I was waring jeans. The more I sweated, the more they squeezed around me, like a denim boa constrictor. Sure, it was autumn, but this is Florida. Cooler weather comes in erratic spurts, as though Florida has mood swings.
Thankfully, the parents’ 5th floor balcony overlooked that part of the parking lot. We were surprised, but relieved to hear mom, dad, and Jaden hollering down at us. Gina hollered back up to them, about how we couldn’t find a way out of the gate.
It turns out, the lock that wouldn’t budge was the right one, but it could only be unlocked electronically. The parents forgot to tell us, before we headed out, that the lock had a square thingy in it, where you put your room card in, to open the gate.
I was happy to be leaving the parking lot, and so looking forward to being back indoors, in the nice, air-conditioned mall.
It was an outdoor mall. A dozen or so stores, and a hundred empty store spaces encircled a baking walking area under the sweltering sun. I was surprised how much hotter it felt, waring a mask. I was sweating hails of bullets, and my boa constrictor pants felt on the verge of squeezing my stomach through my ass.
Thank the promo photo angels that our shopping trip went so unexpectedly smooth and quick. Two stores was all it took! Claire’s, and this store that sold a bunch of Tommy Hilfigger and Calvin Kline stuff. I was only able to afford the brand name clothes, because this is an outlet mall.
The stuff in the brand name store was fancy and stylish, and full of fun, vibrant colors, but the quality of it seemed questionable. How much were upper class fashionistas getting ripped off, before this stuff was sent to an outlet mall? The clothes were made of fabrics that were paper-thin, and felt plasticky and synthetic. I bought one of the necklaces their, which was 60% off. As elegant as it is, its metal chain is so brittle, it might as well have been made of Hershey Kiss wrappers.
Being conscientious about sanitation, I didn’t try anything on. When we found the perfect promo clothes, in my size, we just winged it, but it all worked out. I got two sheer shirts, two tank top-type shirts that went underneath them, a light-weight type of cardigan, a couple of necklaces, a few pretty headbands, and eye gems.
What the hell are eye gems, you say? They’re wild looking, blinged up ornaments that you stick on, around your eyes. They remind me of something that would’ve been a fad, back in the glam rock days. The thought of waring them actually made me look forward to posing and smiling, like a total cheese.
Gina took so many pictures. Oh, my goodness. We took pictures in my lock-off, using the glass sliding door curtain as a backdrop. Then we went into the parents’ living room, and used their glass sliding curtain, and the curtain in one of the bedrooms. We went outside, where Gina had me pose by some bushes, and in front of a giant fountain. There was so much shifting of the upper body, and positioning the head at millions of different angles. Sometimes Gina wanted a little sunlight in the rooms. Or no sunlight, and just the light of one lamp. She was so thorough, it was nuts, but of course, I greatly appreciated this. Anything that would help with getting my precious baby, evil monster out into the world. Mom said that models have to do this type of stuff all the time. It went on for an hour or so, but the photo shoot was a success.
However, I give most of the credit for how successful it went, to my nephew, Jaden. He’s extremely attached to his mom, so he had to hang around in every room we took pictures in. He played Minecraft on his tablet, and was so into the game, he kept making all these weird, silly noises. It was making all of us laugh. When he wasn’t playing Minecraft, he was wiggling around on the nearest bed, like a happy dog, and making up all these ridiculous exercise moves. I can’t smile on command, but having goofy Jaden around made me smile naturally. He didn’t come with us for the outside shots, but smiling at him for about an hour strait, gave me the temporary ability to put on a real smile for the camera.
When it was over, all the pretty new clothes were put on the one side of my bed, with the rest of the untidied clutter. The entertainment unit had plenty of clean space to clutter up with the accessories. The stick-on eye gems are reusable, thank god.
The rest of the evening was Pleasant. We had a nice family dinner. Then when Gina and Jaden went home, the parents and I just kicked back, and enjoyed the remaining few hours in our cozy Tuscany Resort suites.
I did go on my Kindle app, and downloaded a free sample of HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land, just to make sure that my dream wasn’t right. Sure enough, there’s nothing wrong with the formatting. The way my voiceover sees it, the formatting is beautiful. Phew! Jo did a fantastic job.
To tell you the truth, there is an info dump in the beginning of the book, but it is titled BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS An Introduction to the World of Velva Leena. It’s an optional part of the book that’s there to help you get a little familiar with the planet, but all the information is divided into little sections. It talks about stuff like, what vervetts, grungols, and Guardians look like, the uniform structure of Velva Leenan civilization, The planet’s violent glowing ocean, and a brief tore of Continent 15. After the introduction, there’s a section about Artheena and Mell May’s Alien childhoods, and the abuse and neglect that Mell May had gone through, before Artheena’s parents adopted her. After those two parts of the BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS section, then you get to a page that says THE LEGEND OF THE LAND, and that’s where the actual story starts.
I know that the golden rule for world building, is to avoid info dumping as much as possible, and instead, work the world building information into the story. I don’t know how I would’ve been able to turn the BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS part of the book into added details to the characters’ experiences in the story, and Artheena’s and Mell May’s experienced reminiscences, without turning a 300 page novel into an 800 page one.
I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but Velva Leena really is like no other fictitious civilized planet. Other authors’ story planets are either similar to medieval Earth, or they’re like planet’s you would encounter on Star Wars or Star Trek, which is all good. I wouldn’t undermine the author’s creativity behind them, BUT they’re nothing similar to Velva Leena. The way vervetts and grungols live and think, the way their society functions, and their simple, perfect economics is so unlike anything in other sci-fi novels, I felt that the info dump beginning part was necessary, but like I said, it’s optional. Skip over it, if you’d like. At least book 1 will be the only one in the series with an introduction and such.
Phew! OK, I’m done rambling about my info dump justification! This is supposed to be the last post about my vacation journal.
Sorry about that.
Well, there’s not much else to say about it, anyway. We got up early on Sunday, packed up and tidied our suites, and headed back home. Then it was back to our normal routines. Speaking of normal routines, after this post, I’m going back to posting weekly. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed writing about our week at the Tuscany Resort, and posting you about it, every day for the past week, it takes me a whole freaking day to compose a single post. So I didn’t get anymore of HECCTROSSIPY (book 2) finished, which I desperately miss working on.
Love you all! Post you later this weekend!