Month: May 2017

Book Review, Horror: The Boulevard Monster, by Jeremy Hepler

You can find Jeremy Helper’s book The Boulevard Monster on Amazon and in print.

Disclosure: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

So once upon a time there was this guy. He meant well. Or at least…51% well over 49% ill. On average he meant well. And then he made a mistake. One teensy, tiny little mistake. But clearly not one that shifted the balance the other direction. Clearly he’s still a good guy. Who at least still means well.

One teensy, tiny little mistake after another, and he’s not sure where he is anymore. Did he mean well? Or ill? Or something else? Is ANY of this his fault? Surely not all of it is his fault…

You’ve read that story before; it’s the classic tale of a life gone wrong. Almost always, for reasons that vary from book to book, it was already going wrong anyway, before the monsters and uncanny stepped in.

What sets The Boulevard Monster apart is the warmth that fills the pages. Unlike many of the anti-heroes that carry out their own self-destruction, aided by the supernatural, bad luck, and Very Bad Men, our hero Seth Fowler is actually, genuinely likable, not just a self-justifying jerk of an unreliable narrator. He spends his time caring for other people, trying to make their lives a little easier. He has fond and even delightful memories of the past; he is grounded in solid realities rather than ambition and drive. When the time comes for him to make an ethical choice (at the very beginning of the book), he makes it without hesitation: in fact it’s his ethical choice that gets him in trouble. When he digs himself deeper and deeper into gray and then black areas of morality, you know that he’s making a very clear-cut choice between bad and worse. The mistakes he makes are the ones that we all make every day, out of the desire to help our loved ones, or prevent them from coming to harm. And his family is actually worth it.

This is no whiny, self-centered character who you secretly wish would get a two-by-four-sized clue stick to the side of the head. This is a genuinely nice guy, which gives the classic tale a lot more impact than I expected. I couldn’t hold myself back and go, “Well, if only he’d admitted that he was wrong here, here, and here, then he would never be in this place.” There was never a moment where I could say that. The actions that the character take throughout the novel have nothing but admiration and sympathy from me. Even during Seth’s worst moment, I went, “Ahhhhh…I’d have at least been tempted.”

The ending, in my opinion, nailed it. I’d like to see more in this universe, too. Recommend.

Journal: Self-faith, self-promotion.

Last night I delivered a writer craft talk for Pikes Peak Writers.  Usually what happens with this kind of thing is extreme anxiety before the talk, then beating myself up afterwards.  I was very anxious beforehand, but it went well, and on the way home I just focused on not punishing myself.  “You didn’t do XYZ correctly,” went the self-talk, but I examined it and found that it was really about the fact that I tried.  Not that I wasn’t perfect, but that I had put myself forward at all.

Ah, yes.  Midwestern upbringing strikes again.

This morning, I’m still struggling with the dread that something terrible is going to happen to me.  From the end of the journaling this morning:

Self-promotion is going to have to become a rather strenuous, ill-balanced exercise in self-faith.  I did this!  I believe in it!  Exercise:  working out weak muscles that are wobbly and shaky.  Getting done and feeling nauseous.  You can believe in yourself in one aspect and not others, the same way you can overwork one set of muscles and the other won’t magically become strong (just out of wishing they would).  And getting out in the real world and doing [ things that require self-faith] is never quite the same… Upping the weight of self-faith, upping the reps. Planning ahead for days with no willpower.

So at least for a little while, I’m going to write down my “self-promotion” tasks as “self-faith” in order to remind me that it’s not just my work that I’m putting in front of others, but my freedom to be an actual person with free will and a chance of success that I’m building up.  Strength.

Today!  If you like this post, please “follow” me on Amazon.  Unless you’re anti-Amazon, and then just follow me somewhere else.  Because [deep breath] I’m pretty awesome.

Journal: Snippets

This was a particularly rich journaling morning, but it’s mostly short snippets.

Cognitive dissonance is one of the most terrifying things I know.  I should make a monster out of it.

[For men,] 50 = the year of the patriarch, where you have to come to grips with the fact that you’ll never be one.  That’s the “middle aged crisis.”

Can you even write a thriller pantsing?  [A few names of authors I have heard that do so] do it.  So it’s probably a function of internalizing so many [thriller] plots.

Wanted: co-writer.  You must be able to: make maps, edit, and plot.  Worldbuilding a must.  Me:  Characters, dialogue, and filtering the scene through character POV.  What we will fight over:  plot.  Fame and fortune await!

[Playing with a plot idea, discovering that I’m injecting a lot more tropes in it than usual, probably because I’ve been studying tropes lately] Studying tropes is giving my subconscious permission to use them more.  Cheesily?  Hard to say.  I can’t write fast enough to keep up with all my good ideas, and this trope thing is only making it worse.

I’m not joking about the co-writer thing, by the way.  It would be a BLAST to work with someone who handed me a juicy high-fantasy world to work in at this point.  However, it’s gonna have to be 50-50 royalties deal…

If you enjoyed this morning’s post, look around for a good high-fantasy GM that you know that loves worldbuilding and hates having their players screw things up…and email me with their name 🙂

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