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chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014





Handbook for Mortals is a tale of deception and denial.



The woman you see above you, squinting all the way from Guam, is Lani Sarem (pronounced "Lannie" like Annie with an L). A cousin of JC Chasez of N*SYNC and former manager of bands like Blues Traveler (who posted in a deleted tweet that she had been fired for pulling wacky stunts all the time), Lani Sarem is a woman with big dreams. A quick perusal of her IMDB page reveals a desire to become an actor, albeit one that has yet to exit the stage of uncredited background appearances and a minor role in Trailer Park Shark, which should need no further explanation.

However, Lani believed she had stumbled upon her big break. If only she can join the illustrious ranks of Stephanie Myers and EL James, she has the chance to make it on the big screen! She got her start by partnering with GeekNation (a very new "digital hub" that's existed for about 5 years) to launch her debut novel, Handbook for Mortals. The novel was set to appear in both hardcover and e-book formats on August 15th.

The book landed right on time....and instantly shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

This is not normal.

The New York Times does have ways to prevent bulk purchases of books from landing them at the top of their list, but it was still curious (to put it mildly) that an otherwise unassuming website could land a #1 book a month after deciding to become a publishing arm. Actual young adult novel author, Phil Stamper, decided to investigate.

https://twitter.com/stampepk/status/900704793483784196

https://twitter.com/JeremyWest/stat...722085391192064

Over the course of their searching, Stamper and others determined that the completely unknown novel had somehow sold tens of thousands of copies within a week. It appears that the trick was concealed by arranging for the e-books to be purchased from multiple regions, disguising the bulk purchase trick that the NYT normally notices. There were also instances of book sellers receiving calls from people claiming to be optioning Handbook for Mortals for a feature film (again, only a week after release) and specifically asking if they reported sales to the Times before buying a ton. There were instances of people buying large numbers of books just under the threshold to be reported to the Times as a "corporate sale".

The pieces definitely started coming together when someone noticed that IMDB has a page for a movie adaptation in their development section, with the preliminary cast having the protagonist played by....Lani Sarem.



It appears that Handbook for Mortals was never meant to be a novel that would succeed on its own merits. Anonymous sources tweeting to the amateur investigators claimed that Lani had planned in her business meetings to buy up large numbers of the book, forcing it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and thus allowing it to be shopped around and given funding for a feature film that would just so happen to start the author herself. The revelations rapidly led to the bestseller list being revised, with Handbook for Mortals being removed.

Frankly, such a level of deception is astounding to me. This woman spent likely countless thousands of dollars and partnered with a publishing company to falsely drive up sales of her crappy novel (complete with an elaborate scheme to avoid triggering the normal reporting to the NYT), all as a plot to become the star of a blockbuster feature film. While she's failed miserably, the amount of balls displayed by Lani is admirable.

Of course, I had to read it. I flipped through a few excerpts and it's fanfiction levels of horrible. I paid $10 for what may be the first ever legitimate copy of this book, and I feel like sharing the adventure with you.

quote:

Zade Holder has always been a free-spirited young woman, from a long dynasty of tarot-card readers, fortunetellers, and practitioners of magick. Growing up in a small town and never quite fitting in, Zade is determined to forge her own path. She leaves her home in Tennessee to break free from her overprotective mother Dela, the local resident spellcaster and fortuneteller.

Zade travels to Las Vegas and uses supernatural powers to become part of a premiere magic show led by the infamous magician Charles Spellman. Zade fits right in with his troupe of artists and misfits. After all, when everyone is slightly eccentric, appearing ''normal'' is much less important.

Behind the scenes of this multimillion-dollar production, Zade finds herself caught in a love triangle with Mac, the show's good-looking but rough-around-the-edges technical director and Jackson, the tall, dark, handsome and charming bandleader.

Zade's secrets and the struggle to choose between Mac or Jackson creates reckless tension during the grand finale of the show. Using Chaos magick, which is known for being unpredictable, she tests her abilities as a spellcaster farther than she's ever tried and finds herself at death's door. Her fate is left in the hands of a mortal who does not believe in a world of real magick, a fortuneteller who knew one day Zade would put herself in danger and a dagger with mystical powers...

Handbook for Mortals is the first book in the series of this urban fantasy, paranormal romance series by author Lani Sarem.

Following Zade through the trials--and romance--of finding her own place in the world, readers will identify with their own struggles to fit in, reflected in the fantastic, yet mundane world of Zade's life.

Handbook for Mortals is in development as a motion picture set to debut in 2018.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 17:33 on Sep 21, 2017

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Iced Cocoa
Jul 14, 2011



drat you're brave for doing this. I almost also pulled the trigger on buying this until I saw it was romance, and I just can't ever read those for some reason. It would be interesting to see how far this rabbit hole goes.

iospace
Jan 19, 2038




Fun Shoe

I normally don't come here, but I'm morbidly curious.

china bot
Sep 7, 2014

you listen HERE pal
SAY GOODBYE TO TELEPHONE SEX


Plaster Town Cop



Would this qualify as a literary hoax?

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






china bot posted:



Would this qualify as a literary hoax?

Apparently there's reason to doubt that they've even printed the stock of books that they've "sold", There's only one bookseller that people have confirmed actually received physical stock and they're distributing copies of the book at Cons. But most booksellers have sold out their pre-order stock but haven't actually received the pre-orders they're meant to distribute, funnily enough the people who have 'bought' these books have not complained about the late receipt.

Rough Lobster
May 27, 2009

Don't be such a squid, bro


Ten bucks says she uses her archmagery to combine Mac and Jackson into Mackson, the perfect lover amalgam. Problem solved!

HungryMedusa
Apr 27, 2003

Sometimes you want to ride the roller coaster twice and you don’t wanna wait in line.


bad author posted:

Behind the scenes of this multimillion-dollar production, Zade finds herself caught in a love triangle with Mac, the show's good-looking but rough-around-the-edges technical director and Jackson, the tall, dark, handsome and charming bandleader.

Lol of course there is a love triangle. Who will she choose, the sparkly one or the furry one?

E: ^^^I like that solution

I Shot The Serif
Jul 19, 2007



Tortured By Flan

It's probably worth noting that the cherry on this poo poo sundae is that apparently the cover art is plagiarized as well:

Phanatic posted:

Looks like the cover art was ripped off, too:

https://mobile.twitter.com/sarahdvo...857854781005825

Cheers, chitoryu12, and good luck!

LawfulWaffle
Mar 11, 2014

Drill goes vrrrrr




Grimey Drawer

I can already tell I'm going to love hating this.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Zamboni_Rodeo posted:

When you said you got your hands on a legitimate copy, do you mean you have an ebook, or a physical copy?

I purchased it on Amazon, as I can easily copy and paste through Kindle. I call it "legitimate" because I wasn't one of the GeekNation agents buying exactly 29 copies spread around different regions to keep from tripping corporate sale reporting.

Tunicate
May 15, 2012





Rough Lobster posted:

Ten bucks says she uses her archmagery to combine Mac and Jackson into Mackson, the perfect lover amalgam. Problem solved!

That's his name because he Macks On her

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



The book begins with a foreword written by Skye Turner, a friend of Lani's. It helps shed a little light on the personality behind this bizarre scheme:

quote:

I’ve known Lani; that’s Lani Sarem for a few years now. It is Laannee or as she would say Annie with an L, just in case you were also wondering. At first, I wasn’t even sure of the pronunciation of her name… was it Lae-nee or Lan-ee?! In the subsequent years, I’ve learned how to pronounce her name, and throughout our friendship I’ve also learned she’s a bit of a gypsy soul. She’s always traveling around with the bands she works with while living the nomad life and getting amazing views of the dumpsters near the tour buses parked behind the venues.

Though we are very different people with different outlooks, political beliefs, and one of us is technically a Catholic who doesn’t believe in or practice a lot of the hoopla associated with it (so Christian is how they’re titled) and the other is Jewish, we’re also very much alike. We met in quite an unprecedented way.

You see; this bestselling young adult vampire series was filming the final two of the five films in the series near my home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Because my friends were superfans of the series and one the actors in the films, I started a Facebook page for fun. What started as a humorous moment between friends quickly became a sensation, and within a few days there were thousands of “fans” on the site. Within a week and a half, the fan count was up to the tens of thousands. Blogs, Facebook pages, and entertainment publications dedicated to this series were now following my page.

In a twist of fate, people from the film crew reached out to me. Several of the actors began following the page. Various people associated with the film began communicating with me, giving me little morsels of information and exclusive content to share with the fandom. This is how I came to know Lani.

One afternoon, I received a message on the page from Lani. She told me she represented the band that one of the actors from the film was a member of. I’d advertised some of the locations that the band was playing around town on my page. We started messaging back and forth and within a very short time I realized what a genuine person she was. Our friendship was formed.

While filming was happening the band played a concert in town to raise money for a local school in need. Lani offered me tickets and backstage passes as a “thank you” for all of the posts about the band and the film. This was the first time we actually “met”.

Filming eventually wrapped in Baton Rouge and things went back to normal, or as close to normal as it ever was here at home. I had been a freelance journalist and editor for independent authors before the craze of the fan page had taken over and I went back to that life while staying in touch with my new friend, Lani.

As you can probably guess, the "young adult vampire series" was Twilight. Breaking Dawn was filmed around Baton Rogue. The actor who played in the band would have been Jackson Rathbone, who played Jasper in the films and plays in the indie funk band 100 Monkeys. I did some digging and confirmed that they had indeed played a benefit concert for the Runnels School's performing arts program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOPP3r3Ci2M

I'm not surprised by this turn of events. Much like Fifty Shades of Grey, the Twilight fan groups have spawned yet another girl with delusions of grandeur and a desire to turn a fanfiction hobby into fame and fortune. Whereas EL James redid her BDSM-themed Twilight fic into an "original" series and lucked into success, Lani Sarem seems to have made a self-insert work instead.

Skye Turner herself is good company for Ms. Sarem; as she mentions in the foreword, she became an "international bestseller" in 1 week with a novel about a rock star and the woman he left behind. That series, Alluring Turmoil, is ranked #3,056,341 on Amazon's bestseller list and any mentions of Skye being an "international bestseller" seem to come entirely from her.

Let the dulcet tones of Mr. Rathbone's funk bring you to chapter 0. Yes, like any good work from a fanfic author, this opens with a "Chapter 0" instead of something sensible like a prologue. The preceding page has a few quotes from the minds of CS Lewis, Terry Pratchett, and.....Stephanie Myers.

quote:

I’ve always envied those with normal lives. I don’t think I’ve ever even had a normal month, a plain week, or an average day. At best, I’ve had brief normal moments here and there. They tend to be few and far between. I’m sure most people would envy me, but some days I think I’d trade places in a heartbeat.

To me, those moments of feeling normal or getting to do average things have always felt like a cool sparse breeze on the hottest summer day, or the first breath you take after holding it underwater for as long as you can. Isn’t it true we always want what we can’t have? The grass is always greener, so to speak.

Of course, if you really checked out the other side, you’d probably find out that the grass is Astroturf—fake and brittle and lifeless. It sure is pretty from your side of the fence, though.

I won’t cover everything that has been crazy or unusual in my life. If I did, this would end up being a much larger book and would take entirely too long to read. Instead, I’ll start on the day I left home. It marked a turning point—a fork in the road, if you will. I knew I was choosing a path, and hoped it was the right one. Either way, I knew that once I made my choice that was it. I couldn’t double back and try again. It was to be how it was to be.

As you can see, the book is presented in first person with the implication that our protagonist is writing this as if it's a journal. It uses a rambling, slightly snarky, autobigraphical style that far too many YA novels end up using. In this case, the rambling lasts for over a page before finally meandering over to telling us when we're flashing back to. We also get our first description of our protagonist:

quote:

For me, I will never forget one particular July morning; the grey clouds that hovered over the ancient trees lining the street; the wind that blew swiftly through my blonde hair. It also spun about the chunky pieces on the lower half of my long hair, which I had dyed to be a multitude of fun colors. Today they were pink, purple, blue, and a turquoise green, but I have a habit of changing the colors frequently. My perfectly cut bangs stayed mostly unaffected by the wind except for a few squirrelly pieces.

Despite inadvertently describing her protagonist as basically a scene chick, Lani Sarem's casting of herself in the lead role in her movie of the book means we know exactly what Zade Holder looks like:



We're in Centertown, Tennessee. As the name suggests, it's exactly in the middle of the state, about an hour from Nashville. I was impressed to discover that Centertown is actually a real town in a real location, with a population of 243.




Of course in Lani's world, the Holder family established the town in the early 1700s. Zade also jumps right into telling us that her mother is the local tarot reader and spellcaster, and that people come from all over the state to see her when they're suffering from heartbreak. Some think her powers come from the devil, but Zade laughs that off and talks about Biblical fortune tellers as evidence otherwise. While she does have a point, none of the other kids are friends with her because they think her mom's possessed by Satan and thus we complete our stereotype of the YA protagonist being quirky and cool and beautiful yet having absolutely no friends.

Do you like overwrought descriptions of your protagonist? No? Me too!

quote:

My well-worn and once brightly colored (but now badly faded with dirt spackle) Converse high-top sneakers made a quick tapping noise on each step. I had just replaced the laces on them so at least they looked somewhat decent. My favorite high-waisted Levi’s dark denim skinny jeans—ripped in all the right places—made the swishing noise as I lifted my legs and my perfect flowy Lucky’s top that I wear far too often billowed around me. I rarely think this but I wish a photographer had taken my picture at that moment as the outfit and the background and I may have produced a cool-looking photo.

The house is big, old, and four stories high, made of wood with large framed-glass windows. Mostly the house is well kept, the white paint is slightly faded and cracking in a few places due to the hot and humid muggy weather in the summer. It’s still nice, though, and the picket fence around the house lends to its antiquated Southern look. Not quite as big or grand, but reminiscent of the O’Hara’s estate in Gone with the Wind.

I pushed my long, many-hued hair out of my way the best I could, as I threw my luggage into my car. A dark blue streak caught the light with a shimmer. I glanced at myself in the reflection of the car side mirror. People tell me I’m pretty all the time, beautiful even. I’m not sure I see what they see. I think I’m more of a cute, average-looking girl. I’m slender but I do not believe most would say skinny. Not “hot-girl skinny,” at least. I have long legs that are toned but I think my thighs are too large and I do not have a thigh gap. My arms are kinda flabby and while I do have an hourglass figure I have always felt my butt is a little too big and my face is a bit too round. Maybe people are just being nice. In a small town where everyone looks like they fell out of Mayberry, I think I look different. Maybe just the fact I stood out was what they were seeing. I know how the neighbors described me as sweet and kind, but rough around the edges. I’ve just always thought I was a determined free spirit and tough only when necessary.

That last paragraph is indeed a single, massive paragraph in the actual book. For the most part I'm going to preserve all line breaks in my transcript. Also, check out the heinous "Show, don't tell" violation about her personality.

Zade's mother, Dela Holder, flows her way down the steps. You probably already predicted what she would be like: graceful, looks younger than her years, looks a hell of a lot like her daughter (including "dark blonde" hair), etc.

quote:

“Mom, what would you like me to do? Stay here and read cards with you for the rest of my life?” My exasperated question was sincere and sounded more like a plea than a question.

Sheepishly, my mother replied, “But, Zade, I thought you liked reading cards. I thought you liked this kind of life.”

Zade (Zade! ZADE!) sighs about how parents just don't understand as she shoves her favorite patterned Dakine duffel bag into the car. She mentioned it has a "bold pattern" so it's probably something like this:



Ten bucks says Lani Sarem has one herself.

As Zade contemplates how her life here is comfortable but not the life of cool awesome adventures she wants to live, her eyes drift down to her name written in mirror writing on the driveway, gouged in the wet cement.

quote:

Due to my dyslexia, I could write things perfectly—but I wrote them backwards. It wasn’t till I was nine almost ten I could write the proper way without a lot of thought. It baffled my teachers but was something “normal” for me. It was also a cool trick at school as I learned to write fast in either direction.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the most wrong description of dyslexia to ever exist in fiction.

Zade bites her lip (a nervous habit that she does so often that she's worn a dent into her bottom lip) and explains to her mother that she doesn't want to tell fortunes any more, and wants to go out and meet new people and make friends instead of being a weird witch girl in a town of less than 300 in the mountains. Her mother accurately predicts that she's leaving to audition for "that show", but Zade calls her out and asks her what she thinks drove her to move out.

quote:

She said nothing. I edged myself closer and directed my words so closely that she could feel my breath on her face. I wanted to be harsh this time. “For the record, I can’t believe you would stoop to anything so low.”

“I was looking out for you! I didn’t want you to ever go through—”

My anger erupted, if she hadn’t been my mother I probably would have punched her. I couldn’t believe she was pulling such nonsense again. It was an age-old excuse: “I want to protect you from making the mistakes I made.” I started to grind my teeth. If I had been a cartoon, smoke would have come out of my ears. I began to wave my hands in exasperation, a habit I had gotten from her.

“Stop!” I shouted in anger. “I don’t want to hear it. I’m not you, okay?” I inhaled deeply and tried to relax. “I have my own life, and I think you were really selfish for what you did.” She winced, wounded. The truth hurts, or so she’d always told me. I walked around the car and opened the driver’s side door.

“I gotta go. I’m too upset to continue this conversation.” I couldn’t deal with it anymore. If I let my wall down I would just stay. Forever. I couldn’t do that. We both stood, staring at each other. Part of me wanted to push my mom out of the way and jump in the car, but I couldn’t be that mean to her. It felt like we stood there for hours.

Finally, she just said, “Please . . . .” It was all she could say. Her voice cracked and pain showed on her face.

The next words that came out of my mouth didn’t sound like me at all, but before I knew what happened I had snapped back at her, “Please, what? Haven’t you ruined enough of my life?” I immediately wanted to take it back. I didn’t mean it. Why had I said that? I looked down, ashamed of myself. I heard my mother’s voice crack again.

We aren't even in the proper first chapter and Lani has already succeeded at making her avatar look like a horrible person, yelling at her shrinking violet of a mother until she's in tears. They end up crying and hugging, but nothing stops Zade from her goal to make an rear end of herself in Las Vegas and she gets in the car to drive away. The Dixie Chicks comes on the radio, and we temporarily turn into a song fic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dom7VlltBUc

quote:

Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone
Many precede and many will follow
A young girl’s dreams no longer hollow It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed
She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes


No truer words could be spoken as I headed for my own wide-open spaces out west. Even the “high stakes” reference was perfect, considering that I was headed toward Las Vegas. I had a long road ahead of me—and an even longer road when I got there—but it was what I knew that I needed to do, without any doubt.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 19:54 on Aug 25, 2017

U-DO Burger
Nov 12, 2007







I thought this said ISIS Bank of Centertown until I looked closer. What a letdown

Samizdata
May 14, 2007


chitoryu12 posted:

The book begins with a foreword written by Skye Turner, a friend of Lani's. It helps shed a little light on the personality behind this bizarre scheme:


As you can probably guess, the "young adult vampire series" was Twilight. Breaking Dawn was filmed around Baton Rogue. The actor who played in the band would have been Jackson Rathbone, who played Jasper in the films and plays in the indie funk band 100 Monkeys. I did some digging and confirmed that they had indeed played a benefit concert for the Runnels School's performing arts program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOPP3r3Ci2M

I'm not surprised by this turn of events. Much like Fifty Shades of Grey, the Twilight fan groups have spawned yet another girl with delusions of grandeur and a desire to turn a fanfiction hobby into fame and fortune. Whereas EL James redid her BDSM-themed Twilight fic into an "original" series and lucked into success, Lani Sarem seems to have made a self-insert work instead.

Skye Turner herself is good company for Ms. Sarem; as she mentions in the foreword, she became an "international bestseller" in 1 week with a novel about a rock star and the woman he left behind. That series, Alluring Turmoil, is ranked #3,056,341 on Amazon's bestseller list and any mentions of Skye being an "international bestseller" seem to come entirely from her.

Let the dulcet tones of Mr. Rathbone's funk bring you to chapter 0. Yes, like any good work from a fanfic author, this opens with a "Chapter 0" instead of something sensible like a prologue. The preceding page has a few quotes from the minds of CS Lewis, Terry Pratchett, and.....Stephanie Myers.


As you can see, the book is presented in first person with the implication that our protagonist is writing this as if it's a journal. It uses a rambling, slightly snarky, autobigraphical style that far too many YA novels end up using. In this case, the rambling lasts for over a page before finally meandering over to telling us when we're flashing back to. We also get our first description of our protagonist:


Despite inadvertently describing her protagonist as basically a scene chick, Lani Sarem's casting of herself in the lead role in her movie of the book means we know exactly what Zade Holder looks like:



We're in Centertown, Tennessee. As the name suggests, it's exactly in the middle of the state, about an hour from Nashville. I was impressed to discover that Centertown is actually a real town in a real location, with a population of 243.




Of course in Lani's world, the Holder family established the town in the early 1700s. Zade also jumps right into telling us that her mother is the local tarot reader and spellcaster, and that people come from all over the state to see her when they're suffering from heartbreak. Some think her powers come from the devil, but Zade laughs that off and talks about Biblical fortune tellers as evidence otherwise. While she does have a point, none of the other kids are friends with her because they think her mom's possessed by Satan and thus we complete our stereotype of the YA protagonist being quirky and cool and beautiful yet having absolutely no friends.

Do you like overwrought descriptions of your protagonist? No? Me too!


That last paragraph is indeed a single, massive paragraph in the actual book. For the most part I'm going to preserve all line breaks in my transcript. Also, check out the heinous "Show, don't tell" violation about her personality.

Zade's mother, Dela Holder, flows her way down the steps. You probably already predicted what she would be like: graceful, looks younger than her years, looks a hell of a lot like her daughter (including "dark blonde" hair), etc.


Zade (Zade! ZADE!) sighs about how parents just don't understand as she shoves her favorite patterned Dakine duffel bag into the car. She mentioned it has a "bold pattern" so it's probably something like this:



Ten bucks says Lani Sarem has one herself.

As Zade contemplates how her life here is comfortable but not the life of cool awesome adventures she wants to read, her eyes drift down to her name written in mirror writing on the driveway, gouged in the wet cement.


I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the most wrong description of dyslexia to ever exist in fiction.

Zade bites her lip (a nervous habit that she does so often that she's worn a dent into her bottom lip) and explains to her mother that she doesn't want to tell fortunes any more, and wants to go out and meet new people and make friends instead of being a weird witch girl in a town of less than 300 in the mountains. Her mother accurately predicts that she's leaving to audition for "that show", but Zade calls her out and asks her what she thinks drove her to move out.


We aren't even in the proper first chapter and Lani has already succeeded at making her avatar look like a horrible person, yelling at her shrinking violet of a mother until she's in tears. They end up crying and hugging, but nothing stops Zade from her goal to make an rear end of herself in Las Vegas and she gets in the car to drive away. The Dixie Chicks comes on the radio, and we temporarily turn into a song fic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dom7VlltBUc

I guess someone reached out to the Dixie Chicks to see if Lannie had permission to use their lyrics in the book too.

It's piracy all the way down.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

chitoryu12 posted:

As you can see, the book is presented in first person with the implication that our protagonist is writing this as if it's a journal. It uses a rambling, slightly snarky, autobigraphical style that far too many YA novels end up using.
Yeah, I was wondering about that, not being much of a YA reader myself - do (actual) writers really keep doing this? I can think of precisely one example where having a smartass narrator doesn't result in utter hatred for the character and that's Bartimaeus. All that wannabe sarcasm really smells more like fanfiction than YA to me - but I still figure even YA writers don't want to alienate their readers right away.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



anilEhilated posted:

Yeah, I was wondering about that, not being much of a YA reader myself - do (actual) writers really keep doing this? I can think of precisely one example where having a smartass narrator doesn't result in utter hatred for the character and that's Bartimaeus. All that wannabe sarcasm really smells more like fanfiction than YA to me - but I still figure even YA writers don't want to alienate their readers right away.

Just about every young adult novel I've encountered (outside of Harry Potter) has used it from what I remember. Some are worse than others, but it's practically a defining feature of the genre now. Harry Potter is actually unique compared to the young adult genre explosion it created, in that it's written in third person and often features flashbacks and views of other events occurring elsewhere instead of following Harry's perspective from start to finish and relying on exposition to convey anything else.

Lucid Nonsense
Aug 6, 2009

Welcome to the jungle, it gets worse here every day

chitoryu12 posted:

The book begins with a foreword written by Skye Turner, a friend of Lani's. It helps shed a little light on the personality behind this bizarre scheme:

I think the best part was "In the subsequent years, I’ve learned how to pronounce her name".

Most best selling authors take years to learn how to pronounce someone's name.

Prokhor Zakharov
Dec 31, 2008
Good luck with your depression!


Hey so there's also a really good chance that Lani is the author of the so-called Worst Fan Fiction of all Time, My Immortal (about Harry Potter). People have been comparing the writing styles and they match nearly exactly.

Pigsfeet on Rye
Oct 22, 2008

I'm meat on the hoof


Nap Ghost

Well Chitoryu, this is a really hideous task that you've taken on, I'll keep an eye on it.

PJOmega
May 5, 2009


Lucid Nonsense posted:

I think the best part was "In the subsequent years, I’ve learned how to pronounce her name".

Most best selling authors take years to learn how to pronounce someone's name.

Eh, that's about the only believable thing in this. They met online, and she likely mispronounced her name on first meeting and it took awhile until she was corrected and/or that correction stuck in the brain.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Prokhor Zakharov posted:

Hey so there's also a really good chance that Lani is the author of the so-called Worst Fan Fiction of all Time, My Immortal (about Harry Potter). People have been comparing the writing styles and they match nearly exactly.
I refuse to believe that thing was written by a human being. It slowly coalesced from the murky depths of years of teenage angst unleashed on the Internet.

Prokhor Zakharov
Dec 31, 2008
Good luck with your depression!


anilEhilated posted:

I refuse to believe that thing was written by a human being. It slowly coalesced from the murky depths of years of teenage angst unleashed on the Internet.

BravestOfTheLamps
Oct 12, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Lipstick Apathy

I rarely think this but I wish a photographer had taken my picture at that moment as the outfit and the background and I may have produced a cool-looking photo.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



I'm going to throw out another chapter before taking a weekend break from the book, since the first one was a prologue and I'd like to get the ball rolling on what craziness actually goes on when the magick happens.

quote:

I pushed open the heavy front door of the theater that led back into the incredibly lavish casino. The bright red and purple carpet immediately caught my eye. I couldn’t believe that after years of thinking about moving out there, I had finally done it. The cast and crew of the show must have totaled close to two hundred people and they were an overwhelming bunch—especially when they were all standing in the foyer of the theater. I quickly tried to assess this large group who had been waiting on me. Luckily, it was fairly easy to tell what they did for the show by what they wore and how they acted.

Several of them were dressed in nothing but black from head to toe. In this kind of situation, all-black attire says “I’m supposed to blend in.” Creatively called “show blacks,” the uniform of a stagehand or stage tech tends to be black Dickies with extra pockets. Depending on the show, techs could be wearing anything from a black t-shirt to a formal button-down. I have to admit that I’ve always found something handsome about a man in show blacks. Perhaps it’s the artsy answer to a man in uniform, or maybe I’m just odd. Either way, I noticed that several guys in their show blacks were handsome; one in particular caught my eye for some reason. He wasn’t the most traditionally handsome one out of the bunch but there was just something really striking about him. If I hadn’t been so nervous I would have probably paid more attention to him. Despite my distraction, how he carried himself still registered with me. I once read an article that said you can tell someone’s personality by the way they walk and carry themselves. Since then I’ve always paid attention to that and it’s astonishing how accurate it really is—and how few people walk with a confident stride and step—but this guy did in spades, though he also seemed closely guarded, which is an odd combination. (Most of the time, super-confident people are much more open and free.)

As before, I'm keeping the original use of line breaks here so you can witness this monster of a paragraph as I did. Chapter 1's writing is clearly no better than Chapter 0. Also, we catch our first incredibly obvious glance of one of our love interests, Mac and I can't help but feel that this is an extension of Lani Sarem's own obsession with hot tech guys.

Zade clears her throat and gets everyone's attention, leading Charles Spellman to come to the door.

quote:

Charles was older, but still a very handsome man. I would describe him in a similar way that one might describe Harrison Ford. He was dressed in what were obviously expensive clothes, black slacks that fit him perfectly and a button down that was the exact length it needed to be to hang out un-tucked. The shirt was tailored and had wide stitching with beautiful and intricate cufflinks that complimented it perfectly and looked to be made out of pure gold. How effortless he made casual and confident look. He looked like someone who always has an air about him that says he’s the most important person in the room—and he usually is.

I'm not even going to try copying and pasting the even larger paragraph that follows to explain why Charles Spellman is important. Basically, he's one of the biggest names in stage magic and Steve Wynn of the Wynn Casino personally called him up to establish a house show for him on the Vegas Strip, to which Spellman very precisely provided plans for his perfect 2000-seat theatre in the round. Spellman is so famous that you need to buy tickets 3 months in advance to get in. They do 2 shows a night, 5 nights a week, plus a matinee on Saturday.

Once more, Lani oversteps her boundaries when it comes to real life and creates a work that would have required untold amounts of licensing and lawyers very skilled in "fair use" and "defamation" to ever be published seriously. Steve Wynn is a very real person, as is the Wynn Casino in Vegas. The real casino opened in 2005, and infamously was the setting of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.





Standing next to Charles is a young woman who could be mistaken for his daughter if it wasn't for their romantic arm-holding. Zade immediately decides that she looks stuck-up and they both immediately hate each other.

quote:

“Zade,” Charles greeted me. “It is wonderful to have you here. I’m very excited to see your performance.”

“Thank you,” I said sheepishly, “for giving me the chance, Mr. Spellman. I’m honored to be here.” I paused, flustered, before blurting out nervously, “You’re one of the greatest magicians of all time. It’s like you, David Copperfield, and then everyone else.” I was babbling and didn’t really know what to say. It’s something I always do when I’m nervous and the only thing that really makes me nervous is meeting important people. And this person was really important—maybe the most important person I’d ever met.

To my relief, Charles chuckled. “Don’t tell David that and, please, call me Charles.” At this, the beautiful woman next to him cleared her throat as if to remind him she should be introduced; I had actually forgotten she was there. Charles glanced at her.

“This is Sofia Austin. She’s one of our lead performers.”

“Hi, nice to meet you,” I said, thrusting my hand out awkwardly. She took it, but only grasped it for a moment before loosing her grip and dropping my hand, like I’d burned her.

“And his girlfriend,” Sofia said coldly, and mean even, placing emphasis on the last word. “Awesome,” I muttered.

One of the techs in his Dickies pushes open the theatre doors until they lock open, allowing the crowd of techs, performers, and managers to enter the theatre itself. I'm still unsure exactly why the entire group was standing and waiting for one young girl to show up to rehearse, or why they were meeting her in a space separate from the one she's actually auditioning in. Zade catches note of the love interest techie passing by.

quote:

Probably in his late 20s, he was also wearing show blacks, and frowning. His sandy-blondish brown hair framed his face perfectly, and his hazel eyes seemed to sparkle. He was slender and tall, definitely six feet if not an inch or so more, with just the right amount of muscle in his arms. You know, just enough to grab you and hold you tight—but not enough to look like he was stung by a bee and was allergic. I overheard Charles call him Mac. I noticed that he carried a clipboard, and learned shortly after that he was the technical director for the show.

The italics were original to the text, and I say in response to them loving What

Next to Mac is a thin, red-haired man around Charles' age who looks very unhappy to be there. As they walk, Charles introduces Zade to Mac Kent, his esteemed technical director of 11 years; Zade rightly questions that, and it turns out he started working as a minor techie back when he was 18. This puts him at 29, and I'm not quite sure of Zade's age yet beyond that Sofia Austin is described as looking of similar age. He also introduces her to the red-haired man, Zeb Zagan (again with the names!). Zeb is his head illusion technician, or "magi", and they've worked together for 20 years. Zeb and Zade shake hands all the way at the end of the alphabet, but Zeb seems very stiff and unpleasant as he does so. The next member of the entourage is Pete Trigger, or Trig, the head stage manager. Trig is in his late 30s or early 40s and otherwise too average to demand more than a line or two of description.

quote:

“Are we really going to let her do this?” I heard Mac ask Charles. It sounded much more like a statement than a question especially because he didn’t pause for an answer before continuing. “I haven’t been able to do any safety checks on her equipment. I don’t even know what’s been put in!” Mac sounded frustrated and leaned in to Charles. Most people seemed a little afraid of Charles, but not Mac. I could already tell that Mac would stand toe to toe with him—or probably anyone, for that matter—if the subject mattered to him. A strong will was an admirable quality to me and I had been taught to see that as being something to appreciate about someone. Really stubborn and thickheaded, though, usually goes hand-in-hand with strong willed and is something to always keep in mind. I realized that I was supposed to be listening to Pete and the others but instead I kept paying attention to Mac and Charles.

“Zade signed a waiver,” Charles replied calmly before beginning to head down the stairs to get seated. Mac followed after Charles and Sofia along with another man I hadn’t met yet. Charles nodded at that man before sitting down in the third row of the theater directly in front of where Zeb sat, still looking annoyed to even be there.

This seems like an incredibly safe method of doing magic! Just make the girl auditioning sign a waiver and skip all the safety checks! The techies don't even need to know what they're doing! This won't kill anyone at all!

quote:

Movement close to me caught my attention and I saw Pete reach his arm out toward possibly the most handsome guy I’d ever met in person. He really wasn’t my type, but I was still amazed at how much he looked like a movie star. He was pretty, too pretty, beautiful even. I don’t think I could ever date a guy that was prettier than me. That does sound selfish, but I just would rather be the “at least slightly prettier” one in any relationship—and he was just too perfect: the chiseled jaw, not a hair out of place, and a bright, white smile. I really never thought a guy could be that perfect looking. Pete continued, “This is Cam Carter, our head rigger. Cam is going to take you up into the grid and get you in position.” I shook Cam’s hand and he cracked an even larger smile. His eyes were as kind as they were beautiful. I couldn’t help but gush a little—I might not want to date him but I did like him immediately.

I heard Sofia’s voice as we walked away. I strained to hear her saying to Charles, “You remembered her name. You never remember names.”

As you can see from the plot synopsis in the OP, Cam is not one of our love interests. You can also tell because he gets very little description, with even his hair and eye color left a mystery. Had he been one member of the love triangle, Zade would have spent hours gushing about every pimple on his just slightly imperfect face.

Yet another character pops up, a mousy woman with glasses who nervously stands next to Charles writing down everything on a notepad. She does not yet get anything else, but I'll tell you now that her name is Beth Ford.

Zade and Cam head up to the lower catwalk, about 40 or 50 feet above the stage; the tallest is 100 feet. Zade makes sure the bright red rose she requested is available, and Zade once more wistfully thinks about how Cam is so pretty that nobody could ever date him.

Zade begins her trick by tossing her rose down, allowing it to crash into the stage hard enough to knock off a few petals. Satisfied that the stage has been proven to be solid, she lets herself fall backwards off the catwalk.

quote:

As I plummeted toward the stage, brightly colored sparks began to shoot from my outstretched hands. The sparks fell and hit the ground ahead of me, becoming a roaring fire directly beneath me. The fire burned a brilliant red, spreading and growing below me. As the fire burned, it changed color from bright red to a vibrant blue. I could hear the audience murmuring again, but I couldn’t get cocky yet. I was near the ground and still falling fast.

The ground beneath the flames seemed to pool as if it had become liquid, and the fire melted into waves that started to lap the stage, as if a pond had formed where the stage had been just a moment before. In full Olympic-diving position with my fingers and toes pointed, I dove straight into what looked somewhat like “water.” It splashed as I made impact, but as the droplets of liquid came back down toward the Earth to meet the ground, the stage had become solid once again. The rose and I had disappeared within the lapping water.

About twenty feet away from the site of my impact was an open area where there was actual, real water—basically a pool, which was used in several other illusions. I popped my head out of the water and pumped my left fist victoriously in the air as I used my right arm to grab onto the edge of the pool—the rose safely clenched between my teeth. I felt a wild smile engulfing my face even as I waited for them to applaud.

The entire theater seemed in shock. It was silent for what seemed like an eternity. Did they hate it? My smile started to fade and I was beginning to panic when they all applauded thunderously, and the whole cast rose to their feet. I sighed deeply in relief. I grabbed the rose from my mouth and tossed it to Sofia, winking at her. I laughed as I said, “For the pretty lady.” Sofia glared in response and smiled with the fakest smile I had ever seen. She wasn’t amused—nor did she find me funny, in the least.

Okay wait, hang on. We haven't had any kind of introduction to this girl. All we know about her (apart from how she describes herself) is that she's a total stinkyhole to her mother for not wanting her to move to Vegas. Suddenly, without any kind of buildup or warning and only 9% into the book, Zade is teleporting? This kind of stunt should be a massive thing, not the way she auditions to be a Vegas showgirl!

Charles is ecstatic and wants to sign a contract and have Beth put out a press release on the spot. Zade spots Mac standing with Tad Fletcher, the techie who opened the doors for them to enter the theatre; as she explains by saying she "learned later", Tad is Mac's best friend and is a stocky brunette dude, the head of automation. The youngest and newest tech, Riley Wates, is jumping up and down and screaming in excitement at how awesome the heroine is. They ask Mac how it was done, but he admits that he has no clue what Zade did and stares at her in confusion. That's a pretty sensible response to someone literally teleporting through a flaming portal nobody installed in the stage.

quote:

It wouldn’t have made logical sense no matter how hard they tried to figure it out because it was beyond anything a mortal could do. Tarot cards weren’t the only unique skill that my mom had taught me—or that ran in the family. And, for the first time, I was starting to realize it was going to be harder to keep our secret from everyone. They were going to want to know, and I was going to have to keep dodging questions. This was a problem I was going to have to work out when I had more time to think about it.

This attempt at keeping anything a secret from the audience rings incredibly hollow and pointless.

Riley and Tad come up and formally introduce themselves to Zade, establishing their friend group. Beth returns to go over the contract and the necessity of having a lawyer on retainer with Zade, and she guarantees that it's the best contract Charles Spellman has ever drawn up with anyone.

quote:

I decided I would double check with whatever lawyer I went to, and I’d ask the cards. I wasn’t really concerned with it that much. I already had what I wanted; I had made myself a new life:

A somewhat normal life.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment




Fallen Rib

There's a loving magic-using character called Mr Spellman.

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I was just reading about this in publishers weekly

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Also it's incredibly obvious how Lani wrote this book precisely with all the imagery needed to turn it into a summer blockbuster. Such a dramatic incident as teleportation is described in very plain, dry terms that sound more like a script than what the narrator is actually experiencing or doing.

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I think this is my favorite line in the synopsis

quote:

Using Chaos magick, which is known for being unpredictable,

someone awful.
Sep 7, 2007




"Spellman" is Sabrina the Teenage Witch's last name, so even that isn't "original".

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat


Gravy Boat 2k

chitoryu12 posted:

Let the dulcet tones of Mr. Rathbone's funk bring you to chapter 0. Yes, like any good work from a fanfic author, this opens with a "Chapter 0" instead of something sensible like a prologue. The preceding page has a few quotes from the minds of CS Lewis, Terry Pratchett, and.....Stephanie Myers.
It's Stephenie Meyer. Does the book somehow get her name wrong?

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

HopperUK posted:

There's a loving magic-using character called Mr Spellman.

I look forward to meeting the rest of his adventuring party, Ms. Holysymbol, Mr Swords and Johnny Lockpicks. (Johnny Lockpicks doesn't believe in titles.)

Dick Trauma
Nov 30, 2007

God damn it, you've got to be kind.

Clapping Larry

Much like with cigarettes I think exposure to this is going to shorten everyone's lifespan.

A HUNGRY MOUTH
Nov 3, 2006

date of birth: 02/05/88
manufacturer: mazda
model/year: 2008 mazda6
sexuality: straight, bi-curious
peircings: pusspuss





Nap Ghost

Let me introduce you to my three attractive stage crew men, Mac, Cam, and McA

Tip Shades
Oct 28, 2016


So she dove through a portal in front of dozens of people and now she's worried about how she's going to explain how she did it? The hell?

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Sham bam bamina! posted:

It's Stephenie Meyer. Does the book somehow get her name wrong?

I don't care about her enough to go back and fix it.

A HUNGRY MOUTH
Nov 3, 2006

date of birth: 02/05/88
manufacturer: mazda
model/year: 2008 mazda6
sexuality: straight, bi-curious
peircings: pusspuss





Nap Ghost

The stage is swarmed by the eight adult sons Mac, Cam, Tad, Mad, Dad, Cat, Tac, and Bad, who swiftly assemble the scenery with their appropriate amount of arm muscles.

muscles like this!
Jan 17, 2005



I think if you showed a Las Vegas stage crew something like that you'd get more panic than excitement. Seeing as they would know she was doing actual magic instead of a stage show.

Kay Kessler
May 9, 2013



We're going to be hearing the word "muggles" used unironically, aren't we?

tasukiscool
Feb 15, 2003

Voted most likely to be tied to train tracks 2007 - 2008

Slippery Tilde

This is exactly as bad as I predicted (hoped?) it would be when I saw the investigation go down on twitter. Good luck reading through this, OP!

chitoryu12 posted:

Chaos magick
I can't not read "magick" with a hard "g" like they do on the F Plus, and I encourage everyone else to as well. It's the perfect level of silliness for such a silly story.

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Prokhor Zakharov
Dec 31, 2008
Good luck with your depression!


*Zade immolates the first 3 rows of the crowd in a blast of chaos magick, Hell beckons close as barely constrained Princes of Hades wail at the mortal realm*

"Boy howdy how am I gonna explain this one!?" she ponders while mentally patting herself on the back for a trick well done.

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