Moving Day

Hello everyone,

I have moved to a new website! You can find it here:

http://www.writerardavis.com/

I’ll still be posting blogs, so you can look forward to that. But you will also find a lot more behind the scenes stuff about me writing The Beast and other future books. There’s also playlists. Everybody loves playlists. =)

Hope to see you there!

A Story About My Grandfather

(NOTE: This post is probably going to be heavy. If you’re not looking for feels, then I don’t blame you for turning away.)

One of my friends said that they really liked the dedication to my grandfather in The Beast. It got me to thinking and reflecting, and I realized I wanted to write about him.

I didn’t have a lot of positive male figures in my life. Growing up, my father was very reclusive. He had his own areas in the house that he would occupy, and it was almost like he was a ghost. Sometimes when I walked past the room he was in, I could hear the football (ie soccer) game or him clicking away at Hearts on the computer, or typing with one finger. My father is and forever will be a mystery to me. But this post isn’t about him.

When I was younger, summer was always the best because my grandfather — whom I graciously named Ampa — would come to NY to visit from Puerto Rico. He was the funniest, kindest, and most gentle soul that I ever knew. He was constantly making me laugh, and he taught me my first Spanish curse word. He took me fishing even though I sucked at it. Once, my grandmother told me that he saw my Communion picture (a Catholic ceremony where if you’re a girl you wear a white dress and accept the body of Christ. The body is Christ tastes like cardboard FYI), he said that I looked like a teacher, like someone really smart. He believed that I was going to be something. He said that I was the prettiest girl, and even though I knew that was a lie, I still believed him. Because he was my Ampa and because I loved him dearly.

We moved to NC when I turned 13, and I knew it would be harder for Ampa to visit me. This was the time when his health wasn’t doing so well, but I didn’t know that. Years passed, and I thought he forgot about me. I would get a call from him occasionally, but after a while I started to resent him because I missed him. Soon the phone calls stopped. Eventually, with bitterness, I started to accept that he no longer wanted to be in my life. I told myself that that was OK, I didn’t need him. I was OK that he was not there. Things were not always good with my family, and I thought that I could manage it. I didn’t want to admit that I needed him there. I needed his kindness, his warmth. I needed him to tell me that I was going to be somebody, because I was nearing the end of high school and I didn’t know what I was going to do or if I could even do it. But then I got into college all on my own, and it reaffirmed that I didn’t need anyone, least of all him.

He passed away the day before I graduated from university. That day I remember thinking that he should be here for me and he wasn’t. I didn’t find out he passed away until Christmas. He died in a nursing home. He had had a stroke at some point and wasn’t the same afterward. That’s why I didn’t hear from him as often. That’s why he hadn’t come to see me.

My family got to speak to him before he died. They kept it a secret from me, said they didn’t want me to be upset before graduation. (By this time, I had moved out of my house and was living with my now-husband.) They told me that he said he knew he was going to pass. I didn’t know how to feel to be honest. Apparently he didn’t ask for me. Maybe he forgot. Or maybe he did and no one was brave enough to tell me.

My grandmother was the only one able to go to the funeral. It took place in Puerto Rico, and being a just-graduated college student, I couldn’t afford to go. She said it was nice. “I’m sure he would’ve liked it,” I said angrily. I actually hung up on her that day and then I cried for hours. I didn’t understand how I could have missed someone that hadn’t been in my life for years. I felt guilt and shame and a deep, scarring hurt that I didn’t think I’d ever heal.

I don’t know what I would have said to him. I guess I would say, “I really missed you. I hope I get to see you soon. I’m writing a book. I don’t know if anybody will read it. But will you read it?” I know he would have. He would have loved every single stupid bit of it. Because that was the kind of man he was.

I hope he’s proud of me.

 

Soma Review – Beyond The Sea

(Played 8 hours on PC. Also available for PS4. Price is about $25 on both systems.)

 

Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a game that terrified me from beginning to end — even after I saw the monsters, even after the puzzles started to become slightly infuriating. It’s a game I desperately want to go back to, but my fingers stop myself from double clicking on it in my Steam library. I must be some sort of masochist, because when I heard that Frictional Games was going to do another survival horror, my mind immediately went, “Yay!” instead of “Oh, no!” I waited five long years for Soma.

And, boy, was it worth it.

I won’t tell you much about Soma’s story, because that is the best part of the game. The only thing you need to know is that you play as an every-dude named Simon who ends up in an underwater facility, and he may be the last man alive there. The story forces you to think about humanity, about mankind, about the definitions of both, and even makes a statement about the afterlife. It all culminates into one of the most bone-chilling endings I’ve ever experienced, and one that won’t leave me, even after completing the game two days ago. If you don’t have some sort of identity crises by the time the credits roll, I don’t think we can be friends.

It greatly helps that most of the story is told environmentally. Frictional wisely used the oceanic setting to great effect, showing it’s beauty, it’s terror, and its poignancy. Dread sinks in (no pun intended) slowly, burying under your skin and boring into your brain. You’ll come across a futuristic underwater facility that blends the familiar and the strange.

Computers will be left on with messages left unsent. You’ll see post-its of reminders that you’ll never know someone got to. You’ll even see pictures of someone’s cat.

Then you’ll see strange black goo on the walls. And robots who think they’re people, and the way they act is so creepily convincing that you might want to shut the game off before venturing further. Speaking of acting, the voice acting is great, with the voice actor for Simon being a standout. The sound in general is just plain brilliant. The music shifts from menacing, to contemplating depending on the situation. And the monster noises will haunt me in my dreams forever.

The monsters lend to some of the terror within Soma with their design and behavior. They tended to show up in the usual places (ie, when you need an item or to pull a lever to continue), but it never lessened their impact. I was still scared shitless every time.

There’s no way to kill these things; sneaking is key. I suspect most people are tired of this formula by now, but if it works (and it works great here), then I’m not going to complain. I don’t think I ever actually died from the monsters. When they catch you, you simply wake up where you last left off, which is slightly strange and disorienting, which leads to my one complaint about the presentation. After you wake up from being hit, the screen is blurry to the point of annoyance. There are ways to heal, but you’re not near the healing area, you could potentially be wandering around with blurry vision for several minutes. It’s not so bad in the dark, but in the light, it’s a pain. Thankfully, the monsters are used sparingly, so you potentially won’t be encountering this problem through most of the game.

One other niggling annoyance with regards to the monsters is that the game tells you that you can throw objects to distract them, but for me it didn’t work at all. There was one incident in which a monster was in direct path of where I needed to go, and when I threw something within its range, it just stood there making its strange gargling noises. It only moved when I came into direct contact with it, and then I had to run around like a moron in order to lose it. That broke the immersion for me a little.

Besides sneaking around monsters, you’ll also be solving puzzles by working with various technology. These puzzles are fine; not too terribly easy, but not very difficult, either. I actually felt quite immersed while I worked with the machinery of the facility. I felt like I was truly with the character as I fiddled with buttons and dials in a vain attempt to get something to work.

I did encounter an issue with one puzzle, however. Very early in the game, a very important lever to progress did not load. Unaware of the problem, I kept running around trying to figure out what to do. It was only when I looked it up that I realized it was a problem. I solved it by reloading a checkpoint save (the game is great at keeping up with these), and other than having to replay several minutes, there wasn’t a problem after that. Not game-breaking, mostly annoying, and something I think you should be aware of.

Even with the niggling problems, Soma is excellent. It’s a game I easily recommend to horror buffs and regular players alike. I recommend that if you play (you should), take your time with it. Explore every area, read every document, immerse yourself into this fascinating world.

I don’t know how Frictional is going to top this, but as long as they continue to make games, I’m going to continue playing them, even if I get infinite nightmares in the process.

Why I’m Sick Of Authors Getting Pissed at Bad Reviews

Sorry about my meltdown last time I posted. I just needed to get a lot off of my chest. I’m not usually the type to say how I feel, so I’m learning how to be better at it. I think I just need to do it without scaring people, so if I scared the shit out of you, I apologize. I’m getting my shit together, and I’m learning to cope. I am OK. I hope you are too.

I know I’m not the first person to talk about this topic, and they may be able to say this more eloquently than I, but going off the theme of getting things off my chest, I have to say, I am so, so, so, so SICK of authors getting pissed at one star reviews. I feel like we’ve been seeing this absolutely disgusting behavior more often now. Especially abhorrent things like this. (Note: You may need to zoom in to read it.) As an author and fellow reader, I feel disrespected.

First of all, especially if you are a fellow indie author and you’re doing this? You are representing other indie authors, and are making us get taken less seriously. We already have a hard enough time getting our work out there and getting people to notice it, we don’t need them to notice it for all the wrong reasons. I get it; you put a lot of hard work into your book. There were many hours of sleepless nights and tears and blood and sweat and  . . . yeah, I get it. But you know something?

Nobody cares.

And they shouldn’t. None of that should ever factor into a reader’s feelings towards a book. You know why?

Because they paid for your book with their hard-earned cash, and they spent their time with it. Those factors should make any argument that anyone ever has towards a negative review null and void. Both are precious resources to a lot of people. Unless the review says, “The author is a shit stain and I hope they get a serious disease and die,” there’s no reason why people should start arguing, threatening, or otherwise trying to convince the reader that their opinion is wrong.

You know who’s wrong? YOU ARE. I work a full time job, and I know what it’s like budgeting for entertainment. When I purchase anything, be it a video game, book, movie, whatever, I have the right to say ANYTHING about it. And you do, too. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

I also hate the bullshit argument, “Well if you don’t like it, then maybe you should try doing x.” Excuse my language, but fuck you. It’s not the customer’s job to make a better piece of entertainment. It should be YOUR job to accept the feedback if you want to, and feel honored that somebody was willing to spend their money and time on you. Be grateful for once and shut the hell up.

I also have to take issue with others coming to the author’s defense. Look, nobody buys anything and hopes to God that they hate it with a passion of a thousand suns. Not unless they are doing it ironically. I went to the theater to see The Boy Next Door. I have nobody to blame but myself for that one, but I knew what I was getting into. Nobody else wants to be “that guy” and shit all over something everybody loves. I like to think that people are offering up their own perspective of the work. That’s what makes most entertainment so enjoyable to me, because people have different experiences with it, and it leads me to see things in a new light.

Basically, that’s what reviews should be: a discussion point. It shouldn’t be an excuse for people to start attacking each other and accusing each other of jealousy. Nobody is jealous. If a negative review hurts your feelings SO MUCH that you feel like you have to “correct” the reviewer, then maybe you should find a different occupation.

Thank you, that is all.

I’m an Imposter — A Venting Session

I know it’s been years since I’ve updated. I’m going to try and be better about this, I promise. Right now, I have a few things I need to get off my chest, mostly for my sanity, so let’s just get right to it.

I work at one of the elite private universities in the U.S. I got here by the good graces of my lucky stars and Goodwill (who provided my interview suit). I was at a dead-end job, I was depressed as all hell, and I wanted to kill myself. This job probably saved my life.

And I’m throwing it away.

Like an idiot.

My PEP (Professional Evaluation something) is coming up, and I know it’s going to be shit. I’ve said it a million times that I’m lazy, and I worry now it’s going to bite me in the ass. I know this is probably my depression talking. I know that I’m probably overreacting as usual. But I can’t escape the feeling that I really fucked up this year. That I did nothing well worth my time and that I might be fired.

I guess I should explain.

So I support two people in our fundraising department. My job is pretty easy; anybody with any basic typing/common sense skills could do it. Somehow, though, when I get these projects I really hate, I kind of just want them out of the way and over with so I can go back to watching cat videos/playthroughs on the internet. I don’t have the type of job that monitors your internet usage, so I’m lucky in that regard. But I can’t escape the feeling that if I spent more time trying, I wouldn’t be so nervous about this.

I’m also worried because I’ve gotten into trouble for some really stupid shit. Like my clothes. I’m old enough to know what business casual is, but somehow I fucked that up. I wore things that I thought were kind of OK, but I got called in to a private meeting and got told what’s what. I got in trouble for that, like, twice. I’ve been in trouble for leaving five minutes early twice. I’ve had HR come up to me saying that people are complaining about my body odor. I mean, what the hell is wrong with me? What the fuck? It makes me feel guilty because my boss one day told me that I was a good person, that they liked me. I don’t get why.

I mean, obviously I do my job. If I didn’t, I’d have been gone long before now. I worry that if I lose this job, I’ll have to go back to another shitty one. My husband and I will lose half of our income. And it will be my fault. Those words keep playing in my head, and I know the consequences, but I just don’t do anything about it. Some part of my brain says, Well, you’re probably going to lose your job anyway, you piece of shit, so just give up. Give up.

It’s getting harder to get out of bed. When the alarm goes off, I want to call out sick and just stay in my pajamas, in bed, and sleep the day away. On the weekends, I sleep for hours and hours. I don’t count because I think I’ll just freak out at the number. Some days I think about killing myself because I’m so fucking worthless. I can’t even launch a book successfully. I’ll never be a real author with real readers who give a shit about what I do. I tell myself that every day. It depresses the fuck out of me that I think these things. It scares me, too.

I know this is just, like, a thing I need to work out. I know I really need to get my shit together. I’ve been doing this for years, though, working on this. Like, when is it going to end? When am I going to be happy? I’m on medicine and I’m scared it’s not working, and maybe I’ll never get better. It sucks. It fucking sucks.

I’m sorry this post is such a downer. I just needed to get this off my chest, unfiltered, without judgement. If you’re having a shitty day, I feel for you. I hope that you get better and you don’t end up like me.

Reviews for The Beast!

I’ve gotten some great reviews for The Beast and I would love to share them with you all!

 

Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers’ Favorite
The Beast by A.R. Davis is almost reminiscent of a fairy tale in its danger, its mystery, and its brave and noble heroes. Something, whether man or beast, is preying on the people of Leola. The woods pose a danger to even the strongest of men, causing the villagers to starve and even the most steadfast among them to turn to their vices to survive. Valerie is one of the citizens fighting to live. In order to keep her family afloat, she must break the law to provide for them in the only way that remains to her.

There’s a very tense and almost creepy tone and feel to the book, as the citizens of Leola live in perpetual terror of the woods that border their town. The citizens’ fear was palpable in every decision hampered, every temper that flared because of the pressure placed on them by the insidious danger of the woods. This was a great touch and added a huge amount of tension and flair to the story.

I liked Aubrey the best, as I really related to his desires to make a name for himself and to be remembered for more than just being the king when he died. While this ambition leads Aubrey to be a bit brash and make certain mistakes, it also really resonated with me…perhaps because I’m going through my own quarter-life crisis and trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life. The story bounces around for a while before coalescing into one solid tale that was both intriguing and insightful. I really enjoyed reading it and will be keeping an eye out for A.R. Davis in the future. https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-beast (4/5)

 

 

By ADropofInkReviews on July 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition

I would consider this book a blend of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with a darker twist reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. Well written, and with an ending that does the book justice, you go on a ride following very different characters.

At the very beginning, we are treated to a fairy tale about a Beast in the forest. Cursed by the spirit of the forest for his evil deeds, he is set a task where he has to perform 1,000 good deeds to atone for all the evil he has done in his life so far. What threw me was I kept expecting this story to come alive within the book somehow. It completely colored what I was expecting and as I read through the book, I kept waiting. This is one of the times I’d say the prologue did a disservice to the storyline as a whole.

Introduced to the main characters, one can’t help but draw parallels with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Belle takes on the form of Valerie. Instead of a “crackpot inventor,” we have a broken down guardsman who couldn’t handle the death of his wife and turned to drink instead. Valerie works in a bookstore and borrows books to read. There are other connections to the movie, but I’ll let you discover them on your own.

Young Aubrey steps into the role of Gaston. Not quite the same, but I couldn’t help but draw that parallel. I’m not going to say too much about him as his storyline is definitely different. He is a fascinating character.

The beast himself takes on a name and becomes known to Valerie after tragic circumstances change her life forever.

The book itself starts off slow. It then slams on the gas and takes off. If anything, I’d say this book has some pacing issues. Periodically, there would be a lot of major action happening but then be offset by ‘nothing much,’ only to have it ramp up and take off again. There were also minor typos and a few sentences which were missing words. It’s definitely a common occurrence when someone is editing but has read it so many times they don’t even notice the word is missing. Only readers new to the context will pick it up. One other problem I had was I couldn’t ever quite picture what the characters looked like. It’s like every one of them was an out-of-focus photograph in my mind. However, each had a distinctive personality that stood out.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read. The ending fit perfect and I was pleased with how A.R. Davis handled it. However, due to some of the themes introduced in this book and the violence, I would highly recommend a parent vet it before handing it over to a young adult reader. You should determine if this is something you want your child to read on your own, but it definitely has potential for a young adult book. (3/5) adropofinkreviews.com

I really enjoyed reading “Beast” by A.R. Davis. I thought it was excellently written (a few minor editing things but nothing too major) and kept my attention from the dramatic opening to the bittersweet end.  I read it relatively quickly and loved the characters and the fresh twist that the author spun on this familiar storyline. Make no mistake, it is creative and brings a new perspective to the fairy tale that gives it its own voice and identity. You won’t feel like you’re reading something you’ve read before. I’d recommend it for older teens and adults, and hope this author writes more like this in the future ‘cause I’d love to read it! Recommend for fans of YA/NA and fantasy. (5 stars) Karen Matthews Indie Book Reviewers
“The Beast” is the first book I’ve read from this author A.R. Davis but I hope it’s not the last. It was terrific! Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until I’d finished the whole thing. It pulls you in from the beginning, and I enjoyed the author’s “voice” and style of writing. The various plotlines were well-crafted and not predictable, and I liked how she put a lot of new twists on the old tale (this is clearly inspired by “Beauty and the Beast”, but it definitely has its own identity.) The characters were all interesting and fleshed out, and we see the story unfold through various POV’s which helps to give a bigger picture. For the most part the pacing was ok… a bit slow at parts, but I enjoyed the dialogue and the descriptions. Very easy to read and get lost in. Some shocking and sad twists (no spoilers) but an ultimately satisfying ending. (4 stars) Jenna Brewster Indie Book Reviewers
“The Beast” by A.R Davis is an enchanting, moving novel, and one that will definitely appeal to fans of fantasy, folktale, mythology, action/romance. A.R. Davis infuses a unique blend of the traditional tale but completely turns it on its head and I have to say that the re-imagining really works! I honestly wasn’t sure if it would, because so many times books that are ‘retold’ like this just seem like… well… the same story. While there are subtle parallels here, the author isn’t afraid to venture into new and totally unexpected territory and take chances in a way that keeps us from thinking that we know what will happen. Because trust me—you don’t! Recommend for fans of YA fantasy/Sci-fi who want something fresh and unexpected. (4-5 stars) Laura Clarke Indie Book Reviewers
Wow, “The Beast” by author A.R. Davis  is by far one the more intriguing and enjoyable novels I’ve read in a long time! I was really intrigued by the premise of a modern re-telling of  “Beauty and the Beast” (one of my all-time faves) and I was not disappointed in the execution. I was curious how the author would pull it off as this is a tale that has been done many times before… it’s pretty tough to bring something new to the table to engage the readers. But I was completely drawn in from the get-go, and was impressed not only with the execution, but the writing itself, and Ms. Davis’s word choices. Vivid, atmospheric, and strangely believable (for such a far-out story). Near flawless editing (always a bonus) and I thought the ending and epilogue were perfect. Hope this author continues writing! (This appears to be a standalone novel and not a part of any series). Recommend. (5 stars) Claire Middleton Indie Book Reviewers
This was an excellent novel that captured my imagination from the beginning and never once let it go. Each scene was riveting, imaginative, and well thought out.  The descriptions were vivid and atmospheric, and the dialogue authentic.  I think at times the pacing seemed a bit uneven, with long chunks of narrative that for me slowed the pace a bit and I would have preferred more plot-advancement via dialogue and character interaction than with the pure narrative. Just makes me feel more detached than I prefer. But the writing is very good and this story took the inspiration of a legendary story and became something totally new, creative, and memorable. Well worth the read! (4 stars) Gillian Hancock Indie Book Reviewers
I will admit that it took me some time to really get into this book, and at first I wasn’t really sure where it was going. But the more I read the more I got into it, and thoroughly enjoyed this world and reality A.R. Davis brought to life.  The interweaving plotlines were complex, but not convoluted… and certainly not predictable! I’ve read my fair share of fairytale re-tellings and re-imaginings but this one felt wholly original on so many levels. I appreciated the intricate world building and plot development, but there were a few times I felt the story wasn’t as focused as I’d like, with some conversations and scenes maybe weren’t necessary and perhaps could have been eliminated to speed up the pacing. But I read the whole thing in the course of a few nights and had tears in my eyes at that ending. Overall a very positive experience and I’d recommend to others. (4-5 stars) Sam Ryan Indie Book Reviewers
You can get The Beast now for $.99 on Amazon from now until the end of the week! Happy reading.

Reflections on Release Day

Hey everybody. My book came out today. I just wanted to write a few thoughts as I’ve now reached this point. First, a few things: Sorry about my lack of So Bad It’s Good Friday last week. There was some holiday going on or something like that. Either way, I was very pre-occupied with rum that day. And fireworks, I guess. But mostly rum. Then this weekend kind of just spiraled into a blur of sleep and Batman Arkham Knight and Fallout 3. But this Friday I’ll have another one, and it’ll be a movie this time.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I feel like somebody with a special secret. Today, everybody is going around because it’s just another ordinary day. But to me, it’s an exciting one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still flat out nervous that I’ll just be buried in the mountain of Kindle books and nobody will ever read it. I honestly don’t care about how much money I make from it. I care about readers. It would suck if I never got any. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world. As I’ve gotten here, I’ve thought: Wow, I actually did it. I wrote and finished a book. I put it up on the Amazon store and I got a few promotional posts with a review lined up. And I did this all while having a full-time job, moving, getting a degree, being diagnosed with depression, and functioning like a normal adult with bills, three dogs, and a husband.

I don’t say this because I think I’m special or my circumstances are any different than any other Indie or triple-A author. I only say this because, knowing me, this is a damn accomplishment. In a previous post I said that my mother told me lazy should be my middle name. That’s not some cute little insult that mothers come up with when they want to nag you. It’s true. I’m self-sufficient and I get stuff done, but I try to take as many shortcuts as possible. It’s why some of my end-of-year reviews usually have the criticism of me not doing things properly because I go too fast. I didn’t take any shortcuts with this, though. I stuck it out. I kept at it. And now I’m here.

It’s kind of beautiful actually.

In my About Me section, I mentioned that I wanted to be a writer to try and help support my family. When I started this journey, that was my full intention. I thought if I make some money, if I do something with this, then maybe they’ll be happy. But that’s not what happened. The project sort of evolved as I grew up and made a stake on my own. As the intentions changed, so did the actual story. As I flipped through it recently (after a long hiatus of not looking at it. If your unaware, the editing process makes you sick of reading your own work) I realized that I probably couldn’t write this same story now. Back then times were rough. Right now, I’m in a good place. It’s strange how coming-of-age works in real life.

So what’s next for me? Obviously, I’m still going to promote The Beast, and I’m going to do a bonus post this week featuring the most amazing drawings  you’ll ever see. I’m currently working on another book because I’m a masochist and a writer, and I kind of want to keep doing this thing. My new project is completely different from The Beast. But it still has monster’s in it. Funny story: I was actually going to call this blog The Monster’s Den, but at the time I was like, I don’t know if I’m going to write about monsters my whole life. And after this project, I have another story stewing in my head featuring — wait for it — more monsters! Le sigh. Maybe one day I’ll get sick of monsters. For now, I’m living with them.

Have a happy Tuesday, reader! I hope it’s splendiforous.

 

Release Date!

Yay! I finally have a release date. The Beast will be available via Amazon on 7/7/2015! You can pre-order here if you want:

http://www.amazon.com/Beast-Davis-ebook/dp/B010QVQ9RA/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435767648&sr=1-2-spell&keywords=the+beast+ar+davis

And if you’re not partial to digital, you can buy a copy here:  https://www.createspace.com/5592123

And here is a nice summary for your reading pleasure!

The citizens of Leola live in fear of the dense, dark forest that borders their town. Men disappear into the brush or are found dismembered as if they were attacked by a rabid Beast. But fear of a different kind also breeds in the citizens of Leola.

For Valerie Mason, starvation is worse than potentially disappearing. With her former guardsman father drowning his troubles in spirits, it’s up to Valerie to keep them afloat by any means necessary…even if it means breaking the law.

Young Aubrey, the future Lord of Leola, fears that once he dies, the pages of his personal history will be left blank. When he hears of the dangers threatening his town, he knows the only way ensure that he lives on in the memory of his people is to venture into the forest and defend it himself…even if it might cost him his life.

Valerie and Young Aubrey must each breach the veil of trees again and again on their own quests. Will Valerie or Young Aubrey emerge victorious, or will they fall victim to their own demons and The Beast?

So Bad It’s Good Friday — Ride to Hell: Retribution

Welcome to So Bad It’s Good Fridays. Everybody knows about great movies, games, and books and what makes them so great, but what makes a great bad movie, game, or book? First up?

This seems like a good idea.

This game released quietly two years ago. In fact, when it came out, I wasn’t even aware of it. But then people started getting their hands on it and saying what a HUGE, epic fail it is. I watched a short preview and though, There is no way on earth this could be real. I mean, I have played bad games. (One day I will write about the absolute worst game I’ve ever played, but we’ll keep that in mind for a future post.) But I’ve never seen something that failed so magnificently at everything it did that it was actually kind of beautiful.

I had to play it. Call me a masochist. I played it on PC. Call me a dumbass.

The game stars this guy:

This guy’s name is Jake, I think, but I’m just going to call him Bubbles for his bubbly personality. When the game starts, we know absolutely nothing about him, because somebody thought it would be a really good idea to start off with a turret section that segues into a montage of madness.

You have to make a small sacrifice to the developers (I’m too lazy to look up their name) to make it through this section, because if the game thinks you’re not that into it or that you won’t call it in the morning, you’ll randomly die. This is where I immediately regretted choosing PC to play, because the PC controls are like trying to pee in the woods while blindfolded. By the way, you can’t change the controls, you can barely change the screen settings.

Anyway, after that . . . thing that passes for an introduction, we finally settle down into some building with Bubbles sitting there, bobbing his head like he’s listening to some hardcore rap, yo. Echoes of gunshots are heard, as well as voices, I think, the audio mixing is shit so you can’t tell. I think this signifies that he’s having some kind of Vietnam flashback? This game apparently takes place after the Vietnam War, but other than this weird insight into Bubbles’ psyche, it’s never mentioned again.

I’m actually glad that this game doesn’t give any deep insights into the tragedies and consequences of war, because . . . I mean, did you watch that video?

So Bubbles reunites with his uncle and brother, and this is where I absolutely broke down into laughter. I laughed so hard, I broke into tears.

You have to see it to believe it.

This is when I knew, this was going to be the best experience of my life.

After some shit with your brother running away because he wants to go see bands (no, seriously), you get into some trouble with some guys that look like half-assed Pixar models. One of them has an Irish accent because . . . One of them sounds like his testicles are in a vice as he asks your brother whether he’s ever “skinned the ear off’n a baby cow.”

I . . . I have no words for that.

These guys apparently don’t like the fact that your jacket’s cooler than theirs, so they chase you, even though the game makes it seem like you’re racing. Then, even though you get ahead, they somehow ambush you at a gas station. Not a 7/11, so you can’t even get a slushy for your woes.

After some more weird transitions and meaningless dialogue, your brother gets killed (BUBBLES’ BROTHER, NOOOOOOOO! HE CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH TO THE STORY WITH HIS WANTING TO SEE BANDS AND BEING A TALL SACK OF SHIT!) and you get shot . . . I think. I mean, it shows BB gun pellets hitting you somewhere, and you falling. The screen goes black and white like a David Lynch film, and then . . . you’re somehow back on your feet. Just fine. With no bullet wounds. Because reasons.

After that the thing that tries to justify this games existence just devolves into some revenge plot where you look for the guys who killed your brother. I don’t want to “spoil” any of the truly outrageous WTF moments because describing them with words won’t do it justice (though there’s two parts that need to be addressed, it NEEDS to). You will laugh. You will laugh so hard you cry. And then you will just cry, because you know you might never experience anything of this magnitude ever again.

Let’s talk about the game play, which is about as well executed as everything else I’ve told you about so far. It has two sections: biking and shooting. Your bike controls like you’re driving on an ice rink that’s being pulled by a magnet. If you even think about turning around, the game fades to black like you’re being swallowed into some void where the only way out is to drive into the light. Also, you have to go straight. There are no turns, no stop lights, and no cops. Occasionally, there will be guys you need to smack with your wrench, which I guess is your signature weapon. There’s actually an animation where you stab a guy (with your wrench), then smack his head against the bike handle, then twist the knife, then twist his neck, so you know Bubbles is no pussy.

Pictured: not a pussy.

Why are these sections in the game, you ask? Funny story, actually. At one point, this was supposed to be an open world game where you can ride your bike anywhere, participate in races, and all that jazz. Well, along the way, the developers realized that nobody got time for dat and decided to just make this weird Frankenstein’s monster of a game that isn’t quite open-world and isn’t quite linear either. You can see some of their open-world assets in some of the buildings that you can’t interact with. There are also levels that are big and open that have nothing to do in them. I guess the developers were too lazy to fix all that stuff. MAKING LEVELS IS HARD, GUIZE.

So the shooting. Oh, Lord, the shooting. It’s just sad. The guns sound like a child’s impersonation of what a gun would sound like. The act of pointing and shooting takes much more work than is necessary. With those big, beefy arms, you would think Bubbles would have a better handle on a gun, but it practically takes that malformed arm off its socket every time he pulls the trigger. Goons can take cover, and you can take cover, but I’ll be damned if any of it actually works. Sometimes the little pea bullets go through stone and wood like magic. The goons don’t duck, so much as fling themselves to the side like their trying to be a superhero and fly. There is hand-to-hand combat, but screw all that. The style is like the Batman Arkham games if Rocksteady decided programming was just too hard and life was meaningless. But like I said, forget it. Get a gun and shoot them in the head, if you can manage. The goons will sometimes stand there like they’ve never heard of the saying, “bringing a fist to a gunfight” or something like that. So you can take your time offing them while march helplessly forward.

Guys, I’m starting to see a trend here. The bike can only move forward. The goons can only move forward. Even controlling Bubbles, it’s like he refuses to stray from the path. If you go back, you’re sucked into a black hole of nothing, seeing nothing. You can only move ahead in a straight line.

I think I’ve figured out the meaning, guys. I know its secret — the ULTIMATE TRUTH.

THIS GAYME WAS MAID BY ETCH-A-SKETCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IT’S OBVIOUS.

There are two more things that need to be addressed before I end this. The first is an example of a typical level you’ll find in the game.

So at some point in the story you come across an electric fence. Bubbles radios his uncle and tells him of his important dilemma. “What are you going to do?” His uncle asks. Bubbles smiles and says, “I think I have an idea.”

OK, I thought.

So Bubbles runs across the street where he sees a truck and some truck workers. He proceeds to murder everyone because asking nicely is for pussies, and Bubbles is no pussy.

Still not a pussy.

Bubbles climbs into the truck and drives. Not across the street where I assumed he’d just drive through the fence.

Me: Bubbles, where are we going?

Bubbles: Watch and see. *Puts on his glasses.

The police start chasing you and blow up upon impact because Bubbles just exudes too much man for them. The driving section here feels like it takes two hours, like going on a real road trip and the AC is broken. Finally, just when you think you’ve exterminated all of the cops in WTFsville, you park the truck at an electric plant.

Me: Um . . . why are we here?

Bubbles: GO GO GO, THE TIMER’S STARTED!

Me: Why is there a timer? Is something going to explode?

Bubbles: DON’T RUIN THE SURPRISE!

Bubbles Not-A-Pussy murders all of the electric plant workers on his way to the other side of the building. He aims his gun, points at the truck, fires a few million times, and then the truck explodes. The explosion somehow goes behind him as he flings himself into the water in slow motion. There are no survivors.

Bubbles drives all the way back to the now un-electrified fence.

Bubbles: Problem solved!

Me: Wow, that was needlessly complicated. And stupid.

Bubbles: But hilarious!

He got me there.

At another point, you’ll encounter a woman being harassed by some fat guy in a parking lot. After murdering the guy, the screen fades to black. I’m assuming the woman knocked you out and took your money because that sounds like something I would do.

Instead, when you come to, this happens:

I don’t even know if I can say anything else about this. I wouldn’t even know where to start. All I can tell you is that this happens every time you meet a woman. Because:

Always.

So that’s Ride to Hell: Retribution in a nutshell. It’s poorly executed, it’s boring to play, and it’s a nirvana of bad dialogue, story, editing, graphics, level design, box art, trailers, PR men, developer, publisher, manual, just . . . It just does NOTHING right.

And that’s why I secretly love it. I mean, how can you not? This game is a miracle in that it exists at all, and because it exists, it makes the world a slightly better place.

Have you played this game? What did you think?

Also, if there is any type of entertainment you want me to talk about for So Bad It’s Good Friday, then feel free to tell me about it. I love watching, playing, and reading anything that inspires hilarity and joy.

What’s In A Name

So if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably wondering why the hell I called it The Pencil Professional. The quick answer:

It was the only thing I could come up with.

I suppose I could have just called it A.R. Davis blog or something, but I think I was just trying to be fancy or whatnot. I’m not really a professional, in my sense of the word, and I don’t really write with pencils. Alliteration was my friend when I came up with the name. Plus, it’s too late to change it. One thing you’ll learn about me is that if I don’t have to do it, I won’t. You can call me lazy; my mother even said that should have been my middle name. So the name stays.

So what kind of content will be on this blog? Mostly things I’m interested in. I might review video games, because I used to do that for my college paper and I enjoyed it. Some writing stuff, but it probably won’t be anything you haven’t read before. This Friday I’m starting a series called So Bad It’s Good Friday where I review bad entertainment because I’m nothing if not original. I just want this blog to be fun, something I can easily keep up with on top of real life and writing books.

I guess that’s mostly it. Still no release date, though after this weekend, I should have a better idea. The final cover came in and it looks AMAZING, I can’t wait until people see it. I’ll probably post another excerpt sometime soon so you can remember what the hell my book is about without having to scroll all the way down. I’ll probably also do a post the day before it’s available, if only just to vent.

So, lovely reader, are you having a good day? I hope so. Tell me about it.