How to Deal with Hate Comments in Marketing and Writing

You Amongst the Hate Comments

So, I have been playing around with various ad managers out their (Facebook, Instagram, etc), to try and get more feedback on my blog, as well as just get more eyes on it. I tend to see pretty far reach, high impressions, a reasonable amount of clicks, but not very much engagement with either the ads or the blog post linked to the ad. So, I tried to go a bit more informal with my ad copy and just straight up asked people if they would be willing to check out something I wrote.

Well, I got what I wanted. I received a comment not long after I started my campaign. The comment was poking fun at my ad copy and how if that was any indication of my writing ability, they most certainly would mind reading anything else I wrote. It was the sickest of burns, to be perfectly honest, and had it been directed at anyone else, I probably would have laughed. However, because it was pointed at me, it felt like the worst possible thing to be said. I wouldn’t call it a hate comment, personally, but I could see how others might see it as one. Now, in that vulnerable state, there were many things I could have done, but I think I did what was probably best, and I want to share that process with you today:

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Entering a Writing Competition

I entered a writing competition.

Writing competitions aren’t that different from submitting your work for general publication, but it just feels different. I feel like there is more at stake (though it could be that I had to pay a submission fee, which I have also never done before), and I feel that if I fail to win or place that it will just prove all of those insecure, internal voices right. Ultimately, though, if I ever plan to do anything more with my writing than just publishing one piece a year, I need to start taking chances, dipping my toes in bigger pools, and putting myself in more uncomfortable situations.

So here I am, I have entered a writing competition, and I am scared to death. The process itself wasn’t very difficult. I did the same thing I have done anytime I have submitted anything to anyone, expect I had to put in my credit card info, which felt really weird and wrong. Ultimately though, I shouldn’t be as worried as I am right now. At this point, though, you are probably wondering why this matters to you:

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Want to traditionally publish a fiction novel? Here are 10 things you need to know.

Here is a list of things every writer should consider/do/attempt when going for traditional publication:

The book needs to be finished before you start thinking about publication.
With memoirs and some non-fiction, you don’t necessarily have to have the book completed before you start querying. This is not the case at all with fiction. You have to have a finished, edited manuscript before you start querying for publication. Get that novel done.

Don’t post your work online.
I made this mistake, and I see many others make this mistake. If you want to send your work out to agents and traditional publishers, don’t post it online! It is considered previously published if you do so, and this includes on your own blog, etc. Granted, every publisher and agent have their own opinion as to what “previously published” means, but I find it best to avoid posting it all together. Want critiques? It is best to go through private channels (i.e. email, beta groups with a private setting, etc.). Better yet, just pass around physical copies to people you know. *Edit* Of course, as my dear friend Ann pointed out in the comment section, there is a chance you can remedy this mistake. You can edit. Edit your work to the point where there is little connecting the two pieces, thus, you have created something new. I have done this with a lot of older pieces. It works especially well when recycling works. Keep this in mind if you find a lot of your work fits into the “previously published” category. However, also keep in mind, this isn’t always a sure fix. Don’t rely too much on recycling. It’s always best just to keep the work off the web from the start.

Read the submission guidelines thoroughly.
The number one reason for rejection is because people did not read the submission guidelines. Don’t make this careless mistake when it is so easily avoided. Most people assume that if they follow the standard manuscript format, they’re in the clear, but every publisher works differently. Don’t assume the standard can just be passed around everywhere. Just read the guidelines.

Most publishers require a writer to be represented.
Publishers feel a writer needs to have representation to be considered for publication, which protects them as well as you. Think of agents as the gatekeepers to the publishers. If you can impress an agent, then a publisher will be more likely to take you on. Find agents, submit to them, then they will help you submit to publishers. Remember, agents think like publishers. Agents aren’t going to take on just anybody, and they have rules just like publishers, so read the submission guidelines and you may save yourself from a rejection.

Simultaneous submissions – to do it, or not to do it.
Simultaneous submission – a submission which has been sent to multiple organizations at the same time. There aren’t many publications (of the novel variety) that accept simultaneous submissions. It sucks, but they do it so they’re not wasting time on a manuscript that could be picked up any minute. Think of it this way. Let’s say I send you a manuscript for publication consideration. You’re in the middle of it and you think it is hella sweet. This is quite possibly the best manuscript you have ever read in your life (this may be a bit exaggerated, but work with me here), and right before you can tell me how much you love it, I send you this email:
Sorry, not sorry, I signed a contract with someone else. Peace.
Yeah, not cool. I know it sucks waiting around for, quite possibly, a rejection when you could be submitting to other places and increasing your chances, but there is a reason they do it. Don’t burn bridges by not following the rules.

Don’t lie about simultaneously submitting a manuscript, or its status as being previously published.
The worst thing you can do is lie (other than not following the submission guidelines, but we’ve already talked about that). It only takes a second for a publisher to find out if you’re lying. A quick google search of your manuscript, boom, there is your story posted for all the world to see. Those are potential customers they are missing out on because you’re just giving the work away for free. Why would someone pay for something they can get for free? Not a publisher or an agent. Don’t get yourself stuck by lying about simultaneously submitting.

It can take months before you hear back. Don’t pester. Be patient.
With the rapid advancement of technology, publishers have become more accessible to a much wider base of writers than when most submissions were solely through the mail. This means they’re getting mass amounts of submissions daily and sifting through that slush pile takes a long time, especially when they must find something worth publishing. Unfortunately, unless your name is Stephen King, your manuscript will be somewhere in that slush pile. Don’t be offended, Stephen King was in the slush pile at one point. JK Rowling, too. Many great writers have been rejected and trudged through the slush pile. Just wait it out. Most publishers will give you a general wait period in their submission guidelines, as well as a time you can inquire about your manuscript if you haven’t heard back — just one more reason to read the submission guidelines.

Sometimes, you just won’t hear back.
The way things are now, with such a large slush pile, you may never hear back. If you’ve inquired on your query and they’ve rejected your work, at least you heard back. If you wrote them and they still haven’t responded, just move on. There’s no point in dwelling on it.

If you are rejected, do not argue with the publisher/agent.
Just move on. There have been way too many horror stories involving writers fighting with publishers over being rejected. They took the time to reject you. They don’t even have to do that. It sounds strange, but you should be thankful they took the time to reject you. Don’t become one of those horror stories that gets passed around.

You read the guidelines, but you still aren’t sure if everything is right.
Give the publisher or agent a call. It can’t hurt. If anything, they will probably be happier you did. Not many people take the time to contact them about their guidelines. You aren’t wasting their time, trying to elevator pitch them over the phone/email, and you are saving them the trouble of rejecting you over small, stupid things. This could also help with your query letter, when filling that out.

So, are you trying your hand at traditional publication? Have you been successful? Have you experienced any of these things? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

Lissy

6 tips on writing query letters/cover letters for fiction novels

A Bad Cover Letter / Query Letter

If you’ve been looking to traditionally publish a novel, chances are you have heard the terms “query letter,” and/or “cover letter.” In case you haven’t, though, these two things are what you will typically send to either an agent or publisher to introduce your novel. You may ask yourself, “Why send a letter talking about my novel when I can just send the whole manuscript?” Well, here’s the thing: Imagine your job is to read manuscripts and judge whether or not your company is going to publish said manuscripts. Which is more efficient:

Receive thousands of manuscripts and read them to completion.

or

Get thousands of short, one page synopses and judge from those.

If it were my job, I definitely would go with the one page synopsis, and that is what a query or cover letter is. I have also found, after following some agent twitter accounts, that agents/publishers feel that individuals who are unable to write a succinct, exciting cover/query letter, typically, aren’t able to write decent novels. I don’t know how true that is, but that is definitely worth thinking about when you go to write your query letter. This is your one chance, so don’t waste it. After lots of pow-wows with published authors, and my own research/experiences, here are six tips on writing query letters:

You don’t like form letters, neither do they.

It’s, apparently, rare to receive a cover letter that isn’t the run-of-the-mill, “Dear Editors of Really Cool Books Publishing Company, LLC;” Agents and publishers seem to have grown accustom to this and find that opening as a sure sign they are either receiving a copy-paste form letter, or the person sending it didn’t take an extra few seconds to see who the editors actually are. I highly recommend you do some research, and see if there are specific editors/agents/people you can reference in the letter.

Of course, sometimes this information isn’t readily available, but if it is, make sure you take a moment to seek it out. It will show that you are making an effort in your cover letter, and that probably means you made the extra effort in your novel, too. Plus, if you’ve ever received a rejection letter, it’s pretty annoying to get a standard, copy-paste rejection. It probably feels the same on the agent/publisher end when they get query letters.

Don’t go overboard with the creativity.

Yes, you’re an artist. Yes, you’re probably up against a ton of stiff competition. Even so, you don’t want to stand out in a bad way. There are some standards when it comes to query letter formatting: 12-point font, Arial or Times New Roman font, black text color, your contact information, single-spaced at the top of the page, agent/publisher contact information under that, also single-spaced, left justified text overall, one page, boom. That’s pretty standard, and there are reasons this is the standard. The font choices tend to be the easiest to read, black text is easier to read on white paper, etc. Your creativity should be focused on the content of your query letter, not on the format.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS read their guidelines first.

Do not. DO. NOT. ever assume a publisher is going to follow the same standard as the last fifty you queried. There are standard formats, but there will always be someone who has a preference. Don’t get tossed out because of something as insignificant as font size or style. Always assume this new publisher/agent is going to want something different. Even if all fifty want the same thing, don’t assume that until you’ve read their guidelines. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Read them. There is a reason they have them, and while you may think it is silly or insignificant, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run if you don’t follow them. Of course, if something seems unclear, contact the person/group you are querying. Most places do provide some kind of email/phone number for queries other than publication. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so call, email, tweet, whatever. Make sure you are meeting all of their requirements. It can only help your chances.

It’s actually good to have a pre-written cover letter ready.

This may seem a bit contradictory to my first tip, but hear me out. It’s one thing to have a template, it’s another to have something you just copy and paste and send out to every single publisher you come across. I highly recommend creating a template for yourself, so you have something to go off of when you write your cover letters. They say the hardest part is starting, so if you have something you have already started on, it should be much easier to get done, and get it done right. This piece of advice actually came from one of my professors who was teaching us how to write personal statements. I actually feel personal statements are a lot like query letters. Don’t know what a personal statement is? I got you:

Write it like a personal statement.

What is a personal statement? It’s a statement about you. Your who, what, when, where, and how, in a paragraph or a page. It’s like your elevator pitch, but longer. What is an elevator pitch? For the sake of publishing, it’s like seeing your dream agent in an elevator, and you only have until the next floor to let them know why they should take you on and help publish your novel. You want to show them you’re a competent author and that you can tell a story with skill and creativity.

Most personal statements are actually narrative-based, which fits right in with what a query letter is. You want to think of this as your personal statement into the publishing world. However, instead of being all about you, this is all about your novel. If you have a personal statement that you used to get into a job or an education program, pull it out and have a look. If you don’t have one, there is someone out there who does. Get one from a friend, read some online that were successful, and pretend that statement is about your book, as opposed to yourself.

Read other query letters, or read the back cover of some books.

There are loads of blogs out there from agents and publishers with successful and unsuccessful query letters (one of my faves is Query Shark). Check them out. Read what worked and what didn’t work. I would also recommend going to a book store, find whatever genre your novel fits in, and read some of the back covers or the inner-sleeves. You know those book descriptions on Goodreads? Read some of those, too.

Those were written to sell the book to consumers. Your agent/publisher is your first consumer. You want them to think they can sell this book, so read some book descriptions in books that you love or that are successful in your genre. Take notes on what they are doing, and take that back to your own query letter. Sell your book.

There you have it, my six tips and tricks on writing query letters. What do you think? Was this useful? Have you written any query letters? Please feel free to share your own tips, tricks, and experiences. Comment below, and let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Lissy

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Where is “The End”

I’m at this point in my life where I am constantly looking back. Back at old videos, back at old photos, back at old posts, etc. So here I am, back at this post. This was the first post I ever wrote and published on my blog. How ironic is it that the beginning was about the end? Want to know what is even more ironic? I preached, repeatedly, in that old post that there is an end. You shouldn’t feel obligated to change things, to keep going, etc. Yet, here I am, going back to posts I thought were at one time finished, and keeping them going.

The reason I chose this post? I changed my mind. Simple as that.

There is an end, but it can always be changed, and here is why I changed my mind:

Fall of 2016, the last semester of my undergraduate degree. I only had my credit hour requirement to fill, so I had a chance to take classes I wanted, rather than classes I needed. I took an advanced creative writing class where the theme was “Ghosts.” Super cool, right? Anyway, we had one-on-one sessions with the professor. We were instructed to bring in a piece we wanted him to look over, and we’d spend the time talking about it. It was super generative and very helpful.

I brought an older piece that I’ve been working on, on-and-off, for the past year or two. He read it over, silent, for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. He stopped and said “It was fun.” I was pleased. I thought the story was done. I was ready to start writing cover letters and send it off to publications. Then, he asked me, “Why did you bring it?” I sat there for a while, mulling that question over. Why? Why not? I wanted someone with experience to look it over? I wanted someone to say “yay” or “nay,” to it? I wanted a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to respond. He clarified, “There’s a reason you’re still looking this over. If it was done, you wouldn’t bring it.”

That was so true. I wouldn’t keep looking at it if I didn’t feel there was something more. If I didn’t feel there was something I was missing, why wait to send it off? I didn’t have a good answer. Then, I remembered this old post I wrote, this post where I said there comes a time that you just need to stop. There is an end, and sometimes you have to force yourself to put it away. While I do think there comes a point where you start over-editing, over-writing, etc. I also think you shouldn’t settle. If you feel like something isn’t right, don’t stop writing. Don’t stop editing. Keep going because you may eventually find a better end than you had ever imagined.

So, I’m going to keep working on this piece. I am also going to go back and edit some of these posts because, let’s face it, they are definitely not done.

Be proud. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Be writers.

Lissy

4 ways to change your work environment for the better

Since finding my first real job out of college, I’ve started working with some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. It truly is a privilege. Even so, we all are very strong in our beliefs, opinions, and ideas, and that, of course, bleeds into our work. As I’m sure you can imagine, this causes a bit of tension. However, like I said, I work with some brilliant people, and they have taught me a lot about how I can alter my work environment for the better. Here are a few of those:

Respond, don’t react
When you get a seemingly passive aggressive email, post-it, letter, etc. it’s very easy to take that shocked, hurt, angry feeling and throw it right back at the person. It will probably feel good for a second, but did that really help rectify the situation? When you coworker gets your response, how do you think they will react? Don’t be the one who reacts. Stop, reread it, think through the message, think through the voice you might have used to read it initially, then craft a response. Try to assume the best so you can, hopefully, avoid the worst.

People aren’t mind readers. Over explain.
We have a bunch of processes at work to help ensure everything gets done as close to perfect as possible. Of course, people want to take shortcuts and may not do everything 100%. This will probably make your job harder. It’s very easy to get angry, complain, gossip, etc. again, though, try to assume the best to avoid the worst. If you must request new paperwork, if you must ask for more information, whatever you need to request, or request be fixed, try to explain why this information is pertinent to the process. They may not understand the importance of something and assume it isn’t important at all. Really, if they have never done your job, how would they know what is/isn’t important? Over explain, open your world to them, and maybe they will be able to see it from your side and do better.

Remember, everyone’s a middle man
This line was so eye-opening for me because it is so true. Unless you are working right under the CEO, the founder, the sponsors, etc. chances are, they are doing something because they told to do it by a higher up. They more than likely aren’t trying to make your life harder, purposefully. Try to assume that whatever odd, inconvenient request that comes your way is only coming through this person because it was forced on them. Makes the whole situation much more palatable, I feel.

It’s all about perception, so change yours
Pretty much everything I suggested prior to this point has been all about changing your own perception on things. The reason for this? Let’s face it, you can’t make people change. You can’t control the people around you, but you can control yourself. Change starts with you. If you assume and perceive everything as negative, then everything is going to be negative. If you can alter your own perception, then your work environment will begin to change. Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes a lot of behavior changes and mental exercises, but you’d be surprised how much changes based on your attitude. Change can happen. Go for it.

What do you think? Do these seem a bit too obvious? Have you done anything like this before? Are you going to try any of these tips? Let me know, and comment below! Thank you so much for your time.

Lissy

I’m a Binge-Eater

IMG_4652When I started this blog, I started it with the goal of running a “talk-shop” blog. I was going to talk about books, writing, writers, and publishing, all as I pursued my dreams of becoming an author. I wanted to meet other writers, make connections, make life-long friends that I could Skype with over hot coffee and talk about our craft. I just wanted to write about writing.

The longer I write and post, the more I realize that I really needed this to write about myself. I have been suffering with something I’m finally ready to admit is a problem: binge-eating. I binge. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to end. Other days, I feel like I can stop. Food is my enemy, at least that is how I used to think. I am my enemy. Part of it is from stress, part of it is from loneliness… and for some reason, the only way I know how to cope is to eat.

I don’t want pity. Believe me, I’m going to be okay.

Sugar and fast food seem to be my favorite drug. Occasionally, I will go and get something from McDonald’s. “The dollar menu is so enabling,” I tell myself. It’s another excuse. I stop at the dollar store and pick up a bunch of candy bars and snack cakes. “This is too good of a deal,” I tell myself. Excuse, after excuse… When I get home, I look at my hoard, and I start by making a deal with myself. I will have just one cake and one burger. That will be my dinner and dessert. That’s how it starts, but the moment I take that first bite, it’s over. One box of snack cakes, one bag of $1 hamburgers down, my stomach hurts, my wallet hurts, and despite everything, my heart still hurts.

It feels so good when it’s happening, though.

Once again, I don’t want pity. Think of this as a journal entry you happened upon. One entry in an old, tattered journal you found abandoned on a park bench one day. Out of curiosity, you peek, and here you are. I’m tired of suffering in silence. I want to be better, and I’m going to get better. I promise.

Lissy

What I’m Reading: “Gyo,” “Uzumaki,” and “Tomie” by Junji Ito [part 3]

The Junji Ito Special Edition Trio: Gyo, Uzumaki, and Tomie

Warning: There *might* be spoilers ahead.

Tomie
Of the Ito-trio, this was the most… meh, for me. It certainly started with the worst art, though by the end, it was just as beautiful as the art in Uzumaki (my fave). The story also follows a pattern, like Uzumaki. Each chapter follows a structure, and almost always ends the same, which made this manga boring and predictable for me. This one also took me the longest to finish, which I blame on the lack of diversity in each chapter’s plot. Speaking of plot, let’s go over how this starts.

Tomie begins at a school where a young, female student (that we never see again past the school portion of the story) tells us that her friend Tomie Kawakami was murdered, chopped into pieces, and scattered about the town. Who could do such a thing? Well, Tomie is quite the looker, though her bully attitude leaves much to be desired. She entertains the affection of a particularly jealous boy but maintains an intimate relationship with her teacher. On a field trip, she confesses to her teacher, to get him to marry her, that she is pregnant with his child. The jealous boy overhears, becomes enraged, and goes after the teacher. The teach, on the other hand, becomes enrage, and pushes Tomie off a rocky precipice.

Believing she is dead, the teacher encourages all the male students to remove their uniforms and help chop her into pieces. They all comply while the girls watch in horror. Much to their surprise, Tomie is still alive, but the teacher has already started, and he won’t stop. Hesitantly, the other boys follow.

Once she is separated into pieces (and the teacher perversely confirms the pregnancy was a lie), everyone takes a piece of her and hides it. With the deed done and the murder unsolved, life goes on… including for Tomie. Soon after she is brutally murdered, she returns to school, acting as if nothing has happened. From there, she guilts her murderers to turn themselves in, kill themselves in various ways, commit themselves to mental hospitals, or encourages them to kill her again in places and situations where they will be caught.

The story starts off as ghostly, revenge narrative, but quickly devolves into something much less interesting. Tomie goes from getting revenge on her killers to just ruining the lives of strangers. Of course, some people deserve the Tomie curse for various reasons, but there are some that are just randomly cursed by Tomie. When Tomie is the reanimated victim, despite her garbage personality, I am still rooting for her. Yas queen, slay your killers (literally). Once she started hurting the lives of strangers, she was more of an annoying catalyst for the various plots.

In a lot of ways, Tomie’s role becomes more figurative. She becomes a representation of various sins, vices, and obsessions. There is a story involving Tomie being dissolved in alcohol. It is quite clear Tomie represents or is the catalyst for alcoholism as the men find themselves unable to keep themselves from drinking the alcohol.

One thing I was happy to see, though, was that the way the original Tomie died made a constant occurrence throughout each story. It was a nice reminder of the ghost-revenge narrative from the beginning, and it really helped tie all the stories together in a morbid way. Men are uncontrollably drawn to Tomie. They become so enamored with her beauty that they, quite literally, want to cut her to pieces, only to find she can regenerate and multiply as a result. I found this super clever since the men were the only ones who took part in tearing her apart. Thankfully, the women aren’t spared either, but are usually tortured because of the men in their lives being tortured.

Overall, Tomie was super fun in the beginning, dragged in the middle, and left me kinda unsatisfied at the end. Still would recommend for any Junji Ito fan, because I can see elements of his other works, but I probably would not recommend this to every horror/body-horror manga fan.

Thanks so much for reading! Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Comment below, and let me know! Want to know what I am reading next? Join the book club: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/565422-lissywrites-book-club

Lissy

What I’m Reading: “Gyo,” “Uzumaki,” and “Tomie” by Junji Ito [part 2]

The Junji Ito Special Edition Trio: Gyo, Uzumaki, and Tomie

Warning: There *might* be spoilers ahead.

Uzumaki
Of the three Junji Ito special edition titles, Uzumaki is my absolute favorite. No, Uzumaki is not about our fave ninja from the Hidden Leaf, but more about what that name means. The word “uzumaki” translates to “spiral.” Yes, this manga is all about spirals, and the various forms a spiral can take.

The story takes place in Kurouzu-cho and mostly follows the characters Kirie and Shuichi – a young high school couple. Shuichi attends a school outside of their town, so Kirie meets him at the train station every day and they walk home together. However, one day, Kirie is on her way to meet Shuichi at the train station when she sees Shuichi’s father staring at the wall in an alleyway. She tries to say hello, but finds he is unresponsive. Not wanting to risk missing Shuichi, Kirie leaves the man and heads to the train station, but not before noticing the thing the man is staring at is a snail shell.

Once she meets up with Shuichi, they start home and Kirie tells him about the run-in she had with his dad. Shuichi isn’t surprised by the odd behavior. He then explains that his dad has been obsessed, haunted, even, by the spiral pattern. Shuichi goes on to say he believes the town is haunted by the spiral. The roads seem to spiral to the middle of town, the town is surrounded by fiddlehead ferns, and seemingly insignificant dust devils randomly sprout up throughout the town. From here begins the pattern, and things quickly spiral out of control (HA! See what I did there?).

The art in this is by far the best out of the GyoUzumaki, and Tomie special edition trio. I think the story is also much stronger than the others, only because it follows a story pattern (a spiral), but the stories aren’t repetitive. Each iteration of the spiral is much more than a pattern and grows in intensity as we explore various elements of the town and meet new citizens. We can mark a distinct growth as the curse of the spiral continues to reveal itself. The spiral is a disease that slowly, but surely, drags the people of Kurouzu-cho into its center.

Even the reader is, ultimately, captured by this spiral. Junji Ito, in his notes at the end, goes into the inspiration for the story and explains how the human eye will naturally follow the pattern of a spiral all the way to its center. Even if we don’t know what we will find at its center, if it even has one. This study of the spiral is really captured in the journey the reader takes with the main characters. As you follow the pattern deeper and deeper in, you know the spiral is going to appear again. You don’t know how it will end, or if it even will. Regardless, Uzumaki is a whirlpool worth getting caught in. Just wait and see what is at its center.

Thanks so much for reading! Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know, and comment below! Want to see what I am reading next? Join the book club: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/565422-lissywrites-book-club

Lissy

What I’m Reading: “Gyo,” “Uzumaki,” and “Tomie” by Junji Ito [part 1]

The Junji Ito Special Edition Trio: Gyo, Uzumaki, and Tomie

Warning: There *might* be spoilers ahead.

Gyo
Of the three, this was my least favorite. Gyo starts with this couple Tadashi and Kaori on vacation. They are staying in Tadashi’s uncle’s beach-side home enjoying the sea and sun. However, it isn’t long before something goes awry. Tadashi goes in for a kiss and Kaori rejects him because she can smell the fish on his breath. Turns out, Kaori has a hella sensitive nose. They have a bit of a squabble and Kaori, determined to go back to Tokyo, leaves the house.

This appears to be the start of a dramatic, romance novel (or manga, rather). Unfortunately for Kaori and Tadashi, this isn’t a Shojo Beat manga. While Kaori is out on the street, having a fit, she catches a whiff of something… something she can only describe as death and decay. The smell is absolutely overwhelming. Where is the smell coming from, you may ask. A fish. A dead, rotten fish on a pair of pointy, robotic insect legs. It attacks anything with a pulse, and so begins the invasion of dead fish on insect legs.

As goofy as it sounds, I thought the concept was super interesting. These insect legs are actually man-made robots that use bodily scents to function. Ito focuses heavily on the scent and frequently refers to it as a death-stench. The process of death gives these creatures life. Death and decay, these processes we associate with the end of life end up creating it.

However, once the process of decay is complete, the mechanical legs have no power source, but, much like any living creature, their survival instinct pushes them to continue. Once the bodies have rotted away to nothing, the legs attach themselves to the nearest living beings, including household pets and humans. Then Ito presents us with the great moral question: what is life? Tadashi watches soldiers mowing down many of these human-robot-hybrids, and he meets a man attempting to create a circus where he tortures these creatures for the amusement of others. It’s all grotesque and horrific, and in some cases the regular humans seem to be much more monstrous than the monsters.

Ultimately, though, I didn’t think the story was all that interesting. Despite how long it is, I feel it could have dwelled longer at some points and on some of the aspects of the world. For example, it is revealed that the decaying creatures may have some sentience. They are humanized for just an instant. An instant, and then it is over. The art was good, and the concept kept me reading, but it felt… superficial. Still, would recommend to any body-horror manga reader.

Thanks so much for reading! Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know, and comment below. Wanna see what I am reading next? Join the book club: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/565422-lissywrites-book-club

Lissy