I’m sorry it’s been so long. About two months back I decided I was Wonder Woman and I could do everything. I quickly discovered I was wrong and that I’d overwhelmed myself. So, that’s the excuse for my absence. On to happier matters…
Firstly, check out that shit up there… Get yo’self a free book.
Secondly, giveaways are a fantastic marketing tool. I already give away crap tons of digital copies of my books, it costs me nothing but the hours of labor and the $$ spent on art/editing. I highly recommend you give that shit away for free, often.
When it comes to physical copies, it starts getting more expensive to ship them to you, and then to the customer (unless you’re not going to sign them, then it’s a bit cheaper). I still recommend you use some of your budget to do this. Especially seek out giveaways run by other blogs with nice followings, you’ll reach a (typically) engaged and dedicated audience.
I don’t really have much else to say about that. I always add a personal note to the books I sign for giveaways, thanking the reader for taking the time and having an interest. That will usually net you a review in one of five different places.
Anyway, good luck to everyone entering ^_^ night kiddies.
|Artwork by Jeremy Aaron Moore|
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
Sojin lurched forward, hand poised for a grab, and Sway twisted her shoulders to avoid it. Instead, Sojin went in for a smack, landing it solidly against her diaphragm. Ripples of pain shuddered through her ribs as she held in the need to gasp. Gripping Sojin’s antennae-like ears, Sway’s knee careened toward her, but was met with both of her hands.
She pulled on Sway’s lifted thigh, flipping her. In a move of acrobatics even Sway didn’t know she was capable of, she curled her back, released Sojin’s head, and sprung onto her palms, cartwheeling away into a fighter’s stance.
Sojin’s vocal modulator cracked with laughter, “You have been practicing.”
Sway panted, heart thumping wildly from adrenaline. Fluffy clouds parted as the sun reflected off Sojin’s well-oiled humanesque frame, causing Sway to squint. Her shine wasn’t completely worn away, after all.
Eli whispered under his breath, “Get her,” causing Sway to ball her shaking hands into fists, exhaling a long puff of fogged saliva into the morning light. She took another calming breath through her nose and swallowed to wet her hot, dry throat.
With the speed of a dozen humans, Sojin kicked at the dirty pavement. Gravel splashed onto Sway’s face and into her mouth. She dropped into a quick, desperate squat, unable to see. Her forearms met with Sojin’s shin as she kicked towards her side. Blinking away the painful, grainy distraction, Sway stood with an uppercut. Her fist twanged against Sojin’s steely abdomen, the vibration sending needles of agony up her arm.
Before Sway had a chance to recover, Sojin had a deadlock on her wrist, twisting as she sidestepped. Sway’s eyes watered as the sharp throb worked its way from her shoulder to her neck, begging her to relent.
Her mechanical voice was hushed, but held a well of pleasure, “Surrender.”
Sway contemplated, grunting as she struggled against Sojin’s hold. She could pop her shoulder out of socket, kick in Sojin’s knee and back off. Maybe she would have enough time to pop it back in before Sojin would come at her again. Would it be worth it? Sway wouldn’t win in the end, how could she? Then, she would lose weeks of training from injury repair, maybe even miss her chance at Beacon initiation.
Her voice hissed through clenched teeth, “I surrender.”
If you’ve never heard the word, anthology is a published collection of poems, short stories, and other written works. Anthologies are a killer way for indie authors to get themselves a bit of limelight! Not only that, but having your name next to other, award winning authors is great for your reputation.
So, here’s a few pointers for finding, writing, and breaking into an anthology.
Where do I even look?
I’ve found one I want to write for, now what?
- Have they published anything before?
- Are they known, anywhere?
- Is anyone else tweeting/posting/commenting about this anthology?
You need to answer these questions to know whether or not it’s even worth your time to write for it. If they’re too small, or needing crowdfunding to get off the ground, you probably don’t want to write something very specific for this one anthology. They might not even make it.
I wrote the thing… how do I help ensure my acceptance?
I got rejected… I fail at life.
Don’t give up, and save everything!
I’d like to preface this with Josh Viola is a pretty amazing guy. He’s built and currently runs two companies, Hex Publishing and Frontiere Natural Meats, worked as an artist at Leviathan Games, has released award winning books, his debut being The Bane of Yoto (can’t wait to read it, it’s just farther back on my TBR), and on top of that, makes time to talk to a lowly little peon like myself. AND brought me the free copy of Blackstar which I am reviewing today!
I’m a pretty big sci-fi/cyber punk/time travel fan, and so the read was right up my alley and enjoyable. I did find some formatting/grammar/syntax problems, but I’ve found far worse in some “critically acclaimed pop sensation” books; they did not detract from the enjoyment of the read.
Pacing was well done. I feel like there was plenty of action and suspense interspersed throughout the novel, and the dialog was well worked. It was very descriptive, but didn’t suffer from purpley-prose.
There were only two style choices that I wasn’t offended by, but others may be. It’s told from 3rd person omniscient most of the time, but will then sometimes dive down into the person’s head, give their thoughts/feelings/senses, which is then 3rd person limited. It’s also told in past tense, but includes present tense words like “this”, “now”, and “here”.
Rezin, our leading man, was left a bit blank, and I feel this is unfortunate. He could have inspired a lot more feeling from me, but there were some missed opportunities to link me to him.
The only thing that irked me a bit was some of the references to Celldweller/Scandroid music. A few would have been alright, but within the first 50 pages, there’s nearly 12 references to different songs/song elements. It gets to a point where it feels very forced, and they don’t mesh together as well as I was hoping.
Battle descriptions were fantastic. I always felt very in the moment when it came to combat.
Josh pulled out all the stoppers on his vocabulary. Embarrassingly enough, I had to look up a few words through my read. All the more to add to my own mental dictionary, though! I enjoy variety in my reading. Seeing the same words over and over gets pretty exhausting.
The main issue I took with the novel was a few plot holes.
#1 The solution to all of their problems could have been solved in the one retro of Rezin saving Kaine years ago. He could have gone back in and just stopped himself from saving Kaine, Vray, and Bastion. Novel over. This could have happened about halfway through.
#2 The Outlanders respond to Elara’s (excuse me for saying but) short/weak rallying speech, when previously some of the Outlanders spoke candidly of raping and killing her. She was not developed as a leader of her people, and it didn’t seem to fit that the Outlanders responded to her call at the end of the novel.
#3, and this one is TOTALLY unimportant, just an observation of the end of the book. A tangent universe was created and sustained independently where Kaine was killed and reborn with Solaris’ powers, yet the universe where Kaine was destroyed at 20 years old did not result in a universe where Elara and Venus were born, though they may already exist… and then, when Kaine was killed in the past before he melded with Solaris, the future him from the main branch universe held together, possibly by the existence of Elara and Venus themselves, disappeared from existence, but they didn’t?
Time travel creates an interesting layer of complexity, but some of the events when held side by side don’t match identical behaviors of time travel paradoxes. If future Kaine in the universe that Elara and Venus came from winked out of existence along with the entire city he created, as the Kaine of the past died, then so should have Elara and Venus been winked out unless they already existed (or all of the elements to make them exist were set in stone) at the time past Kaine died, but since they didn’t, there would be a future for them unlike Venus said…
Unless they were protected by the powers of Icarus/Rezin, but then when Rezin relinquished his powers, Elara should have disappeared. X_X Time travel, especially when you have SOOOO much time travel/universe travel, is complex and intricate. I praise Josh Viola for getting it all to meld as masterfully as it did.
Hey kiddies, sorry I haven’t been around. Lots of life has been happening, and it’s hard to find time for my backwater, low traffic site =P
So, what have I been doing?
What’s happening next?
We all know when we read something terrible. The less literarily inclined will likely not understand what it is about the thing they’re reading which is making it bad, they just know it is. Even some who read often, or have written books, will not understand what it is that’s subtly making the work they’re reading, or writing, horrid.
It feels strange for my work to continue making leaps and bounds. Every time I feel like I’ve gotten to an acceptable level, I’ll write something new, then look back, and realize how awful the last work was. It’s confusing. How could I think something is good, then three months later realize how bad it is?
I digress, for a bit of a purpose. I’ve recently realized I use many words in my writing which slows down the read, makes it clunky, and all around… bleh. We’ll start with the number one offender.
So… I finished reading Nightmares Unhinged a bit ago, but sort of dallied around writing the review. I should have written it sooner so they were all freshly on my mind, but I quick scan through the pages and I was back in with them easily.
From the clutches of Hex Publishers, edited by Josh Viola (my author idol – fangirl barf withheld for your ease of reading), I’m please to present my loose opinions on all of the works therein. I would suggest that everyone at least borrow the book from someone they know, if not buy it outright themselves. I’m super lucky to have a signed copy by many of the authors and the lone wolf artist, Aaron Lovett.
You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Nightmares-Unhinged-Twenty-Tales-Terror-ebook/dp/B013JAPZVQ
Without further ado:
The Brollachan – Steve Rasnic Tem: 3.8/5
The story was devoid of gore or sexual situations. It was engaging, though it did drag at some points. The reveal was a bit hollow, because the conclusion was obvious several pages before then. Writing style was easy to get into, and flowed well. I enjoyed the concept, and the “old wives tale” come to life sort of feel in the story.
Fangs – J.V. Kyle: 4.6/5
I really liked this story. Also devoid of sexual situations and gore. It had a very fun, even playful, concept. It plays a bit on addiction, which is a very welcome addition to the story. The only reason it didn’t earn a 5/5 was that I saw it coming a few pages in. The writing style was on par with what you’d expect for a horror short: snappy, and quick paced.
Be Seated – Keith Ferrell: 4.2/5
Very odd story. Again, no gore or sexual situations, but something… cultish… about it. You never really discovered much about what it was going on in that chair, in that house, by that hearth, but I think that made it all the more intriguing. I think the mystery was a lot of what the story had going on for it. The blank space used to talk about the narrator’s subject matter, “Mr. A____”, was a bit jarring to read so many times, and so I felt the flow suffered a bit because of it.
The Man Who Killed Texas – Stephen Graham Jones: 3.8/5
This story was only a tiny bit gory, but no sexual situations. It was a fun read, and very near to how I think the actual situation (post viral outbreak) would go down. It was a bit longer than necessary to convey the story at hand, but was still effective and interesting, not to mention sad. The style was easy to read.
Scarecrows – Josh Viola: 4.2/5
No gore or sexual situations, but triggers if bullying gets you. The story was touching, and vengeful. The writing was easy to read, and flowed well.
Zou Gou – Mario Acevedo: 4.6/5
I’m a sucker for sci-fi, so my rating might be a little biased. Both gore and sexual situations present in this one, but it didn’t detract or distract from the story. I cringed about twice, the first time so far for Nightmares Unhinged. It was interesting and odd, deserved much more than a few pages. I’ve heard there is a full length novel to follow, which I’m drooling for in anticipation if it meets the quality of this short.
Needles – Josh Viola & Dean Wyant: 4.8/5
Sexual situations, and rape triggers, and a splash of gore at the end. I cringed unendingly at this story. I get a bit eeeeeeeee about rape, so that had me crossing my legs. It was creepy as hell, flowed great, but could have been paced better (probably the reason for falling short of 5). Another story with heavy addiction mentions.
The Projectionist – Jason Heller: 4.4/5
Did I just do drugs? Like… all the drugs? This is possibly the goriest story of the lot, and contains not only sexual situations, but… I think incest. I’m not sure how else to feel about this other than it was extremely interesting, but also confusing. I was left with a lot of questions, much like “Be Seated”. I cringed at this one quite a bit, but the pacing and writing were both excellent.
The Wolf’s Paw – Jeanne C. Stein: 2.6/5
I suppose my assessment of this is not completely fair, since I know this short was pulled from a longer work. However, it is not a very good standalone. The story was not well told in the few pages it was given, and I did not enjoy the writing style. The entire thing was quick, snappy, and there was no pause. I’m assuming the entire work was not written this way, and this was just one very quick, intense part of an otherwise well paced story. I’m not able to tell, since I did not read the full work.
Danniker’s Coffin – Keith Ferrell: 3.6/5
No gore or sexual situations for this one. It was not scary, or cringe worthy, yet quite sad. So, so realistically sad. It was a bit drawn out, but I think that lent to the depressing nature of it. The story was slow and long, as said, but flowed well.
Deep Woods – Aaron Michael Ritchey: 4/5
Gore present, but no sex. I liked this take on the “monster in the woods” kind of story. I was pleased with the way it ended. The pacing was great, and the narration easy to read.
Diamond Widow – Dustin Carpenter: 3/5
No sex, not really gore either. I wanted to like this story, but from the title and first two paragraphs, I knew the whole story. That’s pretty depressing… =( I don’t like being able to predict what’s going to happen, it takes all the fun out. It was well written and paced, and a fun play on a damsel in distress.
The Camera – Josh Viola: 3.8/5
Some sexual content, not much gore. This story made me seeth a bit. It’s narrated by a female whose fiance is a douche turd. I wanted to punch him in his douchy face. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. There were some unpredictable elements, which was nice after Diamond Widow, but I did foresee the end. It was well paced and written.
Lost Balls – Sean Eads: 3.6/5
Here’s another one I’m biased on, simply because I disdain golf, and it played a decent roll in the story. Please don’t tell my grandfather, but it’s the most useless, boring “sport” on the planet. The pacing was a bit slow, but when it picked up, it really picked up. I did get a chill, and I could see the environment around the bridge, so that was all very well done. Damn it, why’d it have to be lame golf >.<? No sexual content or gore.
Bathroom Break – J. V. Kyle: 4/5
Sexual content abound, but no gore. This story… upset me. The lead character went against one of my strongest, highest held morals, for the duration of the story, in detail. I understand what it was trying to convey, but couldn’t depart from my own feelings of hatred towards the lead throughout. When it looked like he was about to get a happy ending, I almost put it down. Hmm… I suppose I should adjust my rating. If it was able to elicit such levels of emotion, it probably deserves more than what I’ve given it. Rating adjusted.
Marginal Ha’nts – Edward Bryant: 3.8/5
No gore or sexual content. I was very amused by this story. I would love to believe that I could react the way that the narrator does. It was a tad slow, but well written. There was a very fun and playful air about the story, almost bored, even.
Delicioso – Warren Hammond: 3.8/5
Some sexual content, but that’s it. I was able to predict how this was going to go pretty early in. I should probably stop reading so much =( or maybe turn my brain off so it’s not constantly trying to figure out the ending. It was well written and paced, devilishly dark and devious, downright dirty to the depths of its demented soul. Ok, I took that one a bit far, but wanted to have fun with it. Delicioso was another damsel in distress story flipped on its head. I enjoy those, but needed a bit more to keep me wondering how it would end.
The Librarian – Josh Viola: 4.2/5
A nice follow to Delicioso, which I figured out quite quickly, this one I could not. I even put it down for a bit and tried to think of what it could be. I did have a decent guess part of the way through, but then an even cooler, new secret was revealed. I was a bit disappointed in the reaction of the narrator at the reveal, as I would have been more surprised, but it was amusing to read her indifference to the situation. Well paced, fun to read. No sexual content or gore.
Gurgle. Gurgle. – Mario Acevedo: 3.6/5
This was hilarious. I laughed many times, and therefore, it’s not really horror to me. Once I start laughing… the horror is dead. It was a fun story though, with a great moral surprisingly. Pacing was alright, just a little slow, but the writing was easy to read. No sexual content, but a bit of gore.
Taking The Dare – Gary Jonas: 3.8/5
There was a lot of emotion to this story, like several others. I was hoping it would have ended differently, but I was satisfied. Because of the nature of short stories, it was a bit predictable, but not so much. Pacing was good, there were two main peaks of tension.
Overall, enjoyable works of fiction.
Since my edits came in for The Mill before I’d officially started blogging, I decided to not write on it at that time. But now, edits for Sway’s Demise are in, and by god, they’re good.
Also, hello, long time no see. I’m sorry I’ve been so absent. I promise to do better and write to you more =)
Step one in receiving edits – Don’t get mad, bro
You just paid someone to read your work and tell you what they think, not tell you what you want to hear. If you want to pay someone to tell you what you want to hear, you should buy a hooker. Hmmm that was a bit dark. Anyway.
Do not get upset when you’re reading the feedback from your editor(s). You have paid them (maybe) to help you, and that is what they’re trying their damndest to do. They don’t want to purposefully hurt your feelings after you’ve given them money (or trusted them to give them a free copy instead of payment):
A) It’s bad for them. If you think they’re just going to take a dump on you every time, you will likely find someone else to edit your works, unless you’re a sadist… but that’s another topic for another time.
B) It’s exhausting to write feedback. They’re not going to go through all of that out of spite. They’re doing it to provide you with some kind of valuable takeaways, so you’ll want to use them in the future.
This, of course, isn’t to say once you start reading through the feedback you can’t feel hurt for a bit. I do because there’s ALWAYS something that needs to change. I mostly laugh at my misspellings/grammar errors, as I feel like such a derp (but very grateful they were found). It’s the story components getting ripped up as “a useless trope” or “unimaginative cliche” which really stings.
Step two – You’re in control
Just because you paid this person (or didn’t) to read your work and provide feedback, doesn’t mean you have to follow all of it, or most of it… hell, or any of it. If you truly believe at your core their suggestion is not valid, do not follow it.
At the end of the day you must figure out what feedback, no matter how bad it hurts to consider, is something you feel your target audience might think as well. If your target audience doesn’t get it, doesn’t like it, wants to read something else… maybe reconsider your target audience, but also consider making some changes.
I’ve included some pretty realistic militia and post apocalyptic situations for Sway’s Demise, but found out through one of my editors, that she wasn’t getting it (and she’s mostly within my target audience range). This is super valuable, and super sad. I’d spend a considerable amount of time crafting some of these situations to be real, but the only ones who will recognize it or care will be the very few females that are into survivalist and military stuff. I’m guessing that the number of women aged 15-25 interested in sci-fi/action books and also have working knowledge of militia makeup/behavior will be… hmm… one. And that one is me. Wait. I’m 27. Sh*t… Zero.
TL;DR It’s your choice what feedback you accept. Always keep that in mind and you’ll be a much happier writer.
Step three – Bring it all together
If you have multiple editors, wait to make story altering changes until all edits are in. Yeah… that’s all I have to say on that. I think I could go into more detail as to why, but I’m pretty sure you can figure the reason our for yourself. Just like you wouldn’t submit a report on life altering diseases without all the research coming in, don’t do that with your story. You could make grave errors.
Step four – Resubmit
Not all editors are going to be thrilled at the idea of re-reading your story and going through round two of edits, but it’s crucial. Make sure when you’re engaging with the editor that a “round two” or even three is covered in your payment (or agreement). It’s vital for the editor to see the changes made, and be able to give additional feedback on it. Sometimes 3 rounds are necessary, but if you let them know the suggestions you’ve declined in round 2, it will probably be the last one you’ll need.
I’m currently on step three. Man… one of the bits of feedback is to change the voice of the story. That is a massive undertaking and so I’ll do a trial chapter to see if it works out. I didn’t get that feedback directly from the other editor, but I asked about it. We’ll see if it’s something I need to do. But then again, at the end of the day, I’m in control. It’s my choice to not change to 3rd limited, but I have to truly believe in my gut that changing won’t improve the story in a drastic way.
Blerg… night kiddies.
Heeeeeeeey Kiddies. It’s been a bit. I’m super sorry. Life has been busy as f***, but now it’s better! Sway’s Demise is “feature complete”, and now we just need to go through the “bug fix” phase. Oh no, my producer self is bleeding into my author self.
OK, back on topic. The launch party!!
So, I put postcard flyers out everywhere, and what did it net me? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Also, the table tents I purchased for the location were thrown out by one of the staff, because they were “unaware”. I did confirm with the head staff member about 94 times that the event was taking place, but still… an “unaware” staff member threw out $30 of my launch. Scratch that, $28. We found ONE of the table tents shoved in a corner, so I took it home at the end of the night (Thanks Gunther!)
So, what the F*** did I learn.