New Update!

Hello everyone. All of my Reviews, that I have yet to write, will be posted sporadically during the summer. After the end of this summer, I will not be posting on here anymore, as you will see the info on the right side of the blog.
Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sykosa By: Justin Ordoñez - Guest Post- Review- Giveaway!


Book Blurb



Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the life of her friends. This process is complicated by her best friend, Niko, a hyper-ambitious, type-A personality who has started to war with other girls for social supremacy of their school, a prestigious preparatory academy in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. To compensate, Sykosa has decided to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Tom, who was involved in the act of violence. Propelled by survivor guilt, an anxiety disorder, and her hunger for Tom and his charms, Sykosa attends a weekend-long, unchaperoned party at Niko's posh vacation cottage, where she will finally confront Niko on their friendship, her indecision about her friends and their involvement in the act of violence, and she will make the biggest decision of her life—whether or not she wants to lose her virginity to Tom. YA fiction for the 18+ crowd.



Guest Post 


Online Book Promotion, or “How to Make Friends and Influence People.”
BY: Justin Ordoñez 



I’ve got bad news for you.

The human being is a primarily social animal.

Inside every human is a desire exists to interact with others. At its core, this is expressed in the nuclear family. You’re born and your parents are your morning, noon, and night. You get a tad older and siblings enter the equation. Friends are next—some friends are best, some are acquaintances, some want you to follow, some want you to lead. Later, you discover love. You discover sex. Maybe that last two in the opposite. Somewhere in there, you discover a spiritual connection exists between us. At sporting events, the wave breaks out. Thousands upon thousands of people, who couldn’t agree on anything if guns were at their heads, and we know this cause it’s happened thousands of times in history, start standing up and sitting down like dogs being lead by a treat. And throughout this series of interactions we call “life,” and in your engagement with various groups—political, religious, social, whatever—you exchange information. You know, things like who’s the best person to fix your leaky drain, what method will prevent this cancer but cause this one, who’s kids are the cutest and, oh yeah, which books/music/tv or movies you’re reading/listening/watching.

As authors seeking promotion, our goal is to gain entrance to these groups.

The issue?

Modern society is centered (negatively) around the individual. When we triumph, everyone sacrificed and worked for a better future. When we fail, you’re lazy and, if you worked harder, you wouldn’t be in this situation. Americans work harder and longer than any western industrialization nation practically, yet we’re convinced if we worked even harder and longer, we’d avoid things like recessions or ending up in a bad career. This thinking is very faulty, yet we’ve subscribed it, and not to bore you with particulars, we’ve built our contemporary mechanisms on the principles of a prisoner’s dilemma, whereby you need to work longer or harder than anyone else to get what diminishing prosperity is left, and slowing down or sharing this prosperity enables another person to A) share with you or B) take a disproportional amount from you. These conditions disincentivize collective action and encourages what we less formally refer to as the “rat race.” The problem with the rat race is its inefficiency—as people subvert their comparative advantages instead of promoting them in an open market, (think forcing everyone to learn the same things to pass the same SAT test to get into the same collegiate system), information asymmetries develop, usually followed by cronyism and corruption, and what results from these inefficiencies is bad time/money/labor/knowledge investments and bad consumption habits.

How does this apply to you as an author?

It means people, including potential readers, have less time than they’ve ever had, and given current economic conditions, probably less money than they’ve ever had, and because American life is a prisoner’s dilemma, they are willing to work even harder and longer, in the future, to receive even less time and less prosperity. Yet, this is a consumer culture, and as you’ve probably noticed, a lot of people are selling things. Basically, more products and more supply, in an economy of less money and less demand and less time, means conditions are anemic. Growth stalls, inflation stalls, and our inefficiencies begin to swallow even our previous prosperity. People start using their savings to pay for debt, they sacrifice their child’s college fund, they use one credit card to pay another. A debt trap quickly swallows everything in sight, or it simply blows everything up, and we’ve got to figure out how to maneuver it, because as authors, we have neither the organization or the pull to challenge macroeconomic policy.

Even then, this represents only one aspect of the problem, and this aspect—people having less money to buy more goods and the resultant stagnating growth—might be the easy one. The harder one is that, in response to market conditions, individuals in society have been bombarded in marketing in ways never previously imagined. It’s intrusive, it’s accumulative, and for some people, it’s immoral, and it’s everywhere. Since we’re all individuals now, we don’t have a family phone, we have our own, and we receive our custom tailored advertisements on it. The same holds true for our Facebook, our email, and any one of our zillion other individual transactions. Each represents an opportunity to intrude on your life. This process is called market segmentation, and for us authors, it can be a killer because, as people become assaulted with more and more (dis)information, the cost for entrance into their groups that share information (like what books to buy) becomes greater.

Not to focus too much on authors either. Music, movies, tv are all experiencing this squeeze, and as far as I can tell, they’re doing one thing we’re not. They’ve accepted that singing a beautiful song won’t gain entrance to these groups. You’ve got to consolidate the consumer process and present it in one package. For consumers, this is the most efficient way to interact with media.

An example is Katy Perry (though she is hardly unique).

Katy uses her height to accentuate a lean figure, then often accentuates her bust. The same concept is copied in her make-up. She uses make-up applications that cause a lean jaw line and soft cheeks, which allows her big, chestnut, anime-like eyes to almost hypnotize the camera. Katy’s general presentation, and purpose, in this dress is a time honored, and ever more extreme, one in the world of pop music. The idea is that to sell to girls, you’ve got to provoke their comparative biological instincts. Doing so involves establishing yourself as the Queen of your “personality.” For Katy Perry, I’m going to say it’s “feisty, yet vulnerable.” After you’ve done this, you set the standards within the pack of females, and what follows—and I say this as means of a biological impulse, not to undermine women’s accomplishments—is the girls lining up to, you guessed it, idolize, mimic, and compare themselves to, in this instance, Katy.

This completes phase one of the consumer process.

Phase one is a perceived or actual need. You’ve discovered a problem exists in your life. You need a car to get to a new job. You need a tool to fix the gutter. And a consumer product promises you a solution to this problem. Once your audience accepts you as an elite, and a source of trusted information, your audience will need to, in the Katy example, buy your records, wear similar clothes, lose ten pounds, put on certain make-up, learn certain slang, etc etc. At this point, you enter phase two, which gets a bit tricky. You’ve established yourself as an authority and fans have discovered they are in “need,” so should you exploit this directly? Absolutely not. In fact, you do the reverse. You tell them this isn’t about “need,” it’s about “choice.” It may seem counter-intuitive, but imagine selling a woman a beauty product by saying, “You need this because you’re not what a woman is in society.” Or by selling a tool to a man by saying, “Stop pretending you have any masculinity at all and buy this tool before you injure someone.” In phase two, you tell the woman, “Beauty is a wonderful thing and it will make you feel incredible,” and you tell the man, “You’re a smart guy who’s always ‘in’ on the new thing, and a guy like you always has the best and newest tools.” You tell people the converse of what’s attracted them to you, and in Katy’s example, you release a song like “Firework.” An ode to self-esteem, individuality, and speaking your mind, which completes the dynamic, since pop music and pop stars and everything Katy does is conformist, safe, and self-reinforcing.

The process itself, or consumerism, is cyclical. You’ve created the need, your product addressed the need, and when the need returns, your product will again be able to address the need. In Katy’s case, she has returned to you the self-confidence she originally undermined. When you try to mimic Katy, and you realize you don’t have her voice, her body, a (former) partner as cool as hers, you will need to return to Katy to buy a little more self-confidence, and Katy will always be there to sell it to you.

So there it is authors. As I see it, this blog shares my conception of the 1) modern consumer, 2) the modern marketplace, and 3) our modern competition in that marketplace. Included in that, I’ve laid out a two step plan, of which each step has many subdivisions I will not elaborate on here, for entrance into the modern consumer’s “groups.” As authors, our primary challenge is that our personalities, generally the quiet introvert, are often trampled by our more zealous, extroverted competition, ie stage-performers. We must find a way to engage the market in such a way that we’re presented as 1) elites who hold information or knowledge that is sacred and uneasy to obtain, 2) we’re physically attractive by contemporary standards, and this attractiveness is linked to the confidence that enables us to write, and 3) we must be willing to force these standards on each other, especially on the elites within our own circles. Successful authors must be pressured to 1) enter into high profile relationships that are documented on a mass scale and draw attention from the public at large, 2) present themselves as “personalities,” so to say that Katy is “feisty, but vulnerable,” we must have author personalities that are easily digestible for mass public consumption, 3) we must use our “personalities” and our “elite status” in sacred information to create insecurity and need in our readers, then we must use our own writing as a remedy for these emotions.

For writers, once again being quiet introverts who’ve often used writing as a means to distinguish themselves from others and not as a means to indoctrinate conformism, this process will be extremely difficult. As well, for some writers, the idea is grotesque. This blog post is intended to pass moral judgment on its own ideas, or to offer greater societal conclusions or criticisms based on consumption habits, as doing such would introduce severe bias. It is simply a reminder that capitalism, or the price-mechanism, is the great equalizer. Whether you believe it’s a race or the bottom or a raising tide raising all boats, the public will have what the public demands, and it’s important to remember that the public wants their steaks served with no indication of the slaughtered cows.

In the modern consumer market, there’re no heroes or villains, no boogie-men or Tinker Bells, and no good deed, like writing a novel you love, goes unpunished.

(The below is primarily for amusement, but should either of these authors decide to follow these paths, we’d all be the better for it).

 Justin Ordoñez wrote a book called Sykosa. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who’s trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence destroys her life and the lives of her friends. You can find out more about Justin at his blog, http://sykosa.wordpress.com. You can also find Sykosa, the novel on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007N709IG/

Excerpt
Everything is too complicated. It should not have to be. She goes behind the chapel. He goes behind the chapel. They make out. Simple, right? It’s not. Regardless, if even that must be complicated, then certainly the concept that she wants to go to Prom, thus he should ask her to Prom and then they should go to Prom is simple, right? It’s not. You see, he has this best friend, this confidante, this main focus, this everything—and her name is not Sykosa, but Mackenzie. 

Or as you will soon find out: “M.” That’s what he calls her.

So, every day, she faces the fact that they are merely acquaintances. Two pigeons in a flock of nine hundred who dress the same, talk the same, and act the same. That’s okay. Pigeons are only pigeons because conformity is only conformity. It’s okay to be like everyone else so long as she is always herself. And that is the reason, because there is no other reason, why she makes out with this boy. Other than she likes it. Kissing is fun. She’s lying. There is another reason. Another trivial teenage doodad—when she talks to him, lame as it sounds, she feels like she is being herself.

Tom’s never understood this. He sees no issue in how she feels like a phoenix, but is only regarded as a pigeon—and not only a pigeon, but one pigeon in a flock of… Never mind, conformity sucks!


Review
I thought the story to be well written as the characters described, seemed believable. The dialogue and situations that happen all seemed realistic. Sykosa feels pressure all around, and all of that is explained pretty well. She feels pressure to get  excellent grades by her Parents, and to basically be an over achiever. She also feels pressure and in some sort of it is expected that, she have sex, with her boyfriend. At first it did not seem that they were actually a couple; its like a secret relationship, but as the story goes on, there are hints here and there, that this actually might be the real deal between Sykosa and Tom. There are other elements that build on this story, including being briefly sent to a year before, into Sophomore year of High School. I do think we learn more about the group that Sykosa and her best friend are involved in. In their Junior Year, and we read conversation of the conflict that really united she and Tom together, to become closer. What I was really interested to read though, was the big event that the characters sometimes refer to, but I guess we just have to wait until the next book. This was all around a good novel that does have mature content, seriously, so I do recommend Ages 18+ read this!

My Rating: 3.5/5
R Rated (Mature Content-Language & Sexual Content)


*Giveaway*

- Author Justin Ordoñez will be giving away a $50 Gift Card (Pretty Cool!) to One Randomly Drawn Commenter at the end of the tour. 

To Enter:
- Please leave a comment below (leave your e-mail address too!!). You must do both in order for your entry to count!
- In order to get even more entries, so that your chance is greater, follow this tour and comment on the other Posts. You can find the tour schedule HERE! 


Author Info
Justin Ordoñez was born in Spain, raised in the mid-west, and currently lives in Seattle. He's nearly thirty years old, almost graduated from the University of Washington, and prefers to wait until TV shows come out on DVD so he can watch them in one-shot while playing iPad games. For fifteen years, he has written as a freelance writer, occasionally doing pieces as interesting as an editorial, but frequently helping to craft professional documents or assisting in the writing of recommendation letters for people who have great praise for friends or colleagues and struggle to phrase it. Sykosa is his debut novel.



17 comments:

  1. Thank you for your review - believable & realistic - good to know.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! The dialogue was really good and its one of the components that made it believable.

      Delete
  2. I've read this and I was also really interested in that big event!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I'm now interested in the next book because of it!

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  3. Thanks for your review! I had hoped it would be kind of fun for readers to try and figure out "last year," but maybe it's just driving them crazy! Well, hopefully, I'll finish Part II soon! Thanks so much for reading Sykosa, it means a lot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great read and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it! Looking forward to Part II :)

      Delete
  4. It sounds very intense, but more and more intriguing with every tour stop!

    eai(at)stanfordalumni(dot)org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you're following the tour! :)

      Delete
  5. Great review, thank you.
    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am really enjoying this tour. Each one is unique, but still covers the story. Great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much and I'm happy you are following this tour! :)

      Delete
  7. Thank you for the review and participating in this book tour!
    verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post! We will be linking to this great post on our
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