Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My guest review is up!

This is my first guest review on 'Z-Strain' by Rutger Klamor over at The Zed Word

Release: November 2011
Twitter Summary: “Ancient demon mythology meets zombie survivalist romantic urban warfare”
Genre: action zombie apocalypse
Intended audience: Adults that like something a little different and enjoys a twisted sense of humor
Violence: Yes
Sex: Yes
Swearing: Yes
Gore: Yes
Fun: Yes

Damien Specter was well realised, his back story was written nicely, moments of brilliance, urban warfare, counter-ordinance to artillery was masterful!, quotable quotes (‘God’s Gestapo force’, ‘Hell was paradise’, ‘She was a devil creeping under a halo’s shadow’), story picks up well as it progresses, the watcher is cool.

Inconsistent tone (gore/humour/humanity/romance), Chains is one-dimensional, misspelling SOCOM (really?), muddy beginning, the Strix is not scary if it only has a 15-foot wingspan, ‘comic book’ sound effects ruin the tone (bang, puff, brrrrr, thump), spelling/grammar-check is missing at points.

    "I began this novel with no preconceived notion of what to expect. Of course I expected zombies, but not the introduction I got. I was ‘welcomed’ instead by a fellow traveler that introduced me to a tale that would pass the time while I drank his ale. This was not the opening I expected, but served as a warning that this story was going to be a little different!"

Read the rest here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kony 2012 ...and that uneasy feeling

The power of social media has sent the following video viral and finally there are more virtues to it than simply a cat playing a piano.

The gist of the video's sole purpose is to make the general public aware of Joseph Kony, the leader of The Lord's Resistance Army, that uses child soldiers as part of his army. All quite virtuous, except I couldn't help feeling uneasy about the presenter (Jason Russell). He had a strange way of acting and presenting and then he donned some hipster glasses for when he meets US politicians that just rings as weird. This was all confirmed when he took a public walk down the street, acting like a crazy man while not wearing a stitch of clothing. Whether it was all part of some sort of conspiracy to direct disrepute on him by spiking his wheat grass shot is anyone's guess.

My personal assessment is he is a whack-job, except he's a good-willed one with an admirable goal. Everyone should be made aware of the cause even if the 'esteemed leader' is a little crazy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The definition of Sex Appeal

Ooh yes; a taboo subject: Sex. Yes, I said it. Anywho, it seems like an under-represented topic so I'll put this question to you:

What is Sex Appeal?

Now the typical girl might say they like a clean-shaven guy with long-haired golden locks sprouting poetry, but I know that isn't the real definition. Women are silly because in reality they know they don't want some pansy-ass metro-sexual (unless they are bi). There are studies that have proven that women want the rebel without a cause that hasn't showered for days and has a three-day-old stubble vs the namby pamby weakling that wants to talk about their feelings and the latest Grey's Anatomy.

You might disagree, but if you had some dorky Hugh Grant vs some stubble-face-rubbing rendition of Jason Statham, I know which one you would choose - and it ain't Mr Blithering Englishman (although Jason's also English, but 'ard).

To me, it makes perfect sense. She would want a guy that was distinctly masculine. She would not want a guy that would be able to (accurately) critique and build a matching ensemble to accompany your outfit. She would not want a guy that is in touch with their feelings (outside of the four-letter word). Although she would want a guy that protects her and makes her feel like a million dollars ... and that is it. Correct me if I am wrong. I get more interest if I am unkempt than if I am clean-shaven. It seems ludicrous, but true. I think it's just that women like a guy that they can fix up:

"He would be perfect if he just shaved and wore better shoes and ..."

Sad but true. If they are too perfect (not that I am), they'll not be interested. They will always want something that they can mould and something that they can show off to their friends (post make-over) and state, 'You should have seen him before I met him.' Men are like classic cars in need of restoration and women are the mechanics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not being pigeon-holed

As part of my 'master plan,' I have decided to write a book that isn't zombie-related. It might have similar themes or concepts, but it won't be about zombies. There is nothing worse than being pigeon-holed now is there?

Yes, this was an image I discovered when searching for pigeon-holed.
Fitting isn't it?

My next novel will be humorous (hopefully) and will still have a strong message that should make it an enjoyable read for those that decide to read it. I will leave this post with a twitter summary of what I aspire to write, although I am still in the process of establishing the set pieces. It's best to prepare, wouldn't you think? :)

"Manic-obsessive fish-out-of-water in the slums of a third-world country"

I think this story has legs. Apologies if the description is a little cryptic - I can't give too much away before the story has even been written!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest post on YA Bound :)

This is exciting. I am 'internet famous' ... well, maybe not. But I did do a guest post on popular blog called YA Bound.

    "It’s big bad world out there but I’m ready for it. I have my game face on and I am going to control my destiny … but only if you allow me.

    An independent author is a misnomer. I think that no matter how independent you believe you are, there is always someone that you need to rely on. People might see an independent author’s life as glamorous, considering that they make their own hours and report to no one but themselves. But they wouldn’t be an author if they didn’t have readers that agreed with their career decision."
Read the full post here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Waiting To Forget

Today I am reviewing a novel called Waiting To Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch.

In a Nutshell
Twitter summary: "Prognosis: reflective of troubled childhood"
Length: just shy of novel-length
Target Audience: 10-14 years old
Genre: Fictional drama
Swearing: Mild
Violence: Mild
Reflection on past: High

The story follows the reflections of a teenage boy named T.J. (Timothy James) as he waits for news of his sister's emergency surgery in the hospital. Through a life book he created during his time in foster care, he reflects on the experiences that he and his sister went through leading to this present moment.

Initially I thought the writing was simplistic, but this was because it was written from the perspective of TJ. The opening paragraph didn't exactly sell me.  As I summarised: 'gritty kitty sand in the eyes.' Not exactly the greatest of hooks :) The story is written consistently, although I think the characters were a little flat. The mother was a complete waste of space, Billy was evil, Ray was good, the sister was cute and the protagonist was not particularly insightful. The author used a few good ploys to keep the story interesting: How did Angela get injured? How did their mother die? Who is the protagonist? It worked for the most part and kept me reading through the less-compelling points.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quality versus quantity

It took almost three times as much time to edit my novel than it did to write it. Admittedly, the whole process only took four months but I resolved to write my next story with a greater focus on quality than simply words per day.


Does that mean my final story will be less interesting? Will it have lost some of the magic by having a more quality-assured approach to my writing? Will the flow of the novel be lost in the process? I am unsure, since this will only be my second novel. I am weary of devoting all my efforts into writing it correctly the first time.

Whether I focus on quality or quantity, I know that I will have to put my novel through multiple iterations once the final draft has been completed. I think, whether you lean more towards a certain doctrine, you will always pay the ferryman during the editing process. 

...well here's to a less harrowing editing process :) 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Forge the habits for your future

This video is amazing/harrowing/frightening/inspiring.

It follows the story of a smart, intelligent woman who is struck down by Multiple Sclerosis in her life. Only through her determination, drive and undying desire to do everything in her power to reduce (and possibly reverse) her deterioration, she rediscovers what modern society has seemingly forgotten.

She is the 'canary in the mine'. She is a warning sign for all those who believe what we eat nowadays is healthy. I think even if we can make some effort towards a better diet, we can all lead better lives. Spread the word and ensure that this message isn't swallowed up by the corporations profiting from our lack of insight.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hoppy blogging!

Well, apparently I'm part of a blog-hopping extravaganza. As part of this, I am giving away copies of my novel to two lucky readers.

Hosted by A Daydreamer’s Thoughts and Booked Up Reviews, and supported by Blogger Loving, Making Connections, and Shut Up & Read, the Indie blog hop is a giveaway hop to support all things indie. Authors if you’d like to participate by offering a prize on either of the host sites, please check the host’s “contact us” sections to get a hold of us.

Participant Requirements:
  • Any author or blogger is welcome
  • Prizes must be indie related books, giftcards, services
  • Books must be already published
  • No gift cards to major publishers or bookstores. Amazon and other Indie bookstores are allowed
  • Advertise on any form you can. I want to get the word out, the bigger the better, the more expose for the authors and bloggers.
  • Link to the other participants. The linky list below has the code you can use show the list
  • Any attacks against any authors or bloggers will not be tolerated
  • Posts must be up your site by 12 noon on the 23rd of March
  • Hosts are responsible for their own prizes
  • List will close 3 days before the start of the hop
  • Remember to leave which countries your giveaway is open to - USA, USA/CANADA, or INT. If you don’t indicate, I'll assume it's USA
Spread the word and support your fellow indie publishers!

Musings for your mind

Outside of intellect, training, an ability to stage your story and write believable characters and good dialogue, there is another tool that you need:

Imagination and hard work

There is a website that helps with the imagination part: As for the hard work, you will still have to look to yourself for that.

Upon logging into the site, you are prompted to write for one minute about a single word at the top of the screen. This pushes your mind into neutral, allowing your words to flow freely. By limiting your ramblings to a single minute, it forces your sub-conscious to react to the word. You don't have enough time to formulate something cohesive, but your sub-conscious does. You might think this is useless, but some of my best writing has come from these sub-conscious expeditions. Your ability to write will improve, even if what you write on this site doesn't.

I highly recommend a spending a few minutes a day limbering your mind. Your writing will improve and your readers will appreciate it :) 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Too good to be true?

So, in the search to get my book into as many hands as possible, I have stumbled upon a service called booktango.

Note the beta. This is definitely a work in progress and isn't as polished as smashwords, although the rates are definitely attractive (0% cut for sales on booktango, 10% for external retailers)! The main thing I can see that is missing is a slightly clunky search facility for books listed on their site, a missing sales reporting facility and an overly manual process for submitting your novel.

The positive to this service is that it distributes to a tonne of electronic retailers (the list is here). Colour me impressed. Especially for barnes & noble, which doesn't allow non-US residents to submit their novel via their pubit website.

it has been about two weeks since I've submitted my book and it is still in the process of being validated / approved / verified / distributed, rather than 'auto-vetted' in comparison to smashwords. All in all, I'm happy to allow a little down time between publications just as long as more revenue comes my way and my book is distributed to as many possible readers as possible. My experience with their representatives have been positive and as soon as it becomes a little more automated, it will be a must use for every independent writer.

If anyone has had any prior experience with this service, or a better one, leave a comment in the post. It's good to know what is out there!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Learning from the best

So I took a random perusal of the New York Times Bestsellers and thought I would review the top three covers for their X-factor.

So this is the number 1 bestseller. All I can say is the book must be pretty good! Orange on blue implies that the artist/author likes to use the opposite sides of the colour wheel. This implies it's exciting and that the celebrity death must have taken place while handcuffed and wearing leopard print trousers. It could also be in an industrial area, based on the industrial motif behind the title and possibly involving a statue of a bird on a movie set. If I had to guess the target audience, it would be celebrity-obsessed and/or colour-blind.  
1/5 for ensuring I would almost never pick up this book.

This is the number 2 bestseller. Well, I can see why (half the population) would pick up this book. It's got a redhead leaning over while showing off cleavage. Way to halve your audience there! She looks to be drawing red energy from the ground. Or is it illuminated blood drawing from her into the ground? She looks semi-professional (no, not that kind of professional), with her all-black outfit. Kind of like the lycra-wearing Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment. If I had to guess who the target audience is, it would be men that like attractive women with glowing hands and possibly some sexy killing.
3/5 because I'm a guy and I like seeing glowing red things coming out their hands.

This is the number 3 bestseller. I think it is instantly attractive. It's got a black-and-white image of the Eiffel Tower with contrasted and stressed texturing in the sky. It looks like there is an inferno burning behind, adding to the tension and excitement. The title is effective and succinct, although I couldn't help noticing the subtitle: "An American Assassin Thriller." I think this was so that people weren't automatically dissuaded into thinking it could be a French Assassin Thriller. If I had to guess the target audience, it would be someone that likes assassin stories set in France but only if the killing is done by Americans.
5/5 because I like the title, clear silhouettes and enough to tell you it's set in France but still has Americans in it.

I can only guess that the first two have surpassed their poor choice of cover and somehow succeeded thanks to word of mouth (or the fact that they're the "New York Times Bestseller"). Judging by my follow-up post on the best-selling novels proves that the cover is still not important.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I can see the future

I have a brain that cannot help seeing the patterns in the stories I read and watch.

I know what the formula is for Scooby Doo and I know the formula for CSI and Criminal Intent and pretty much most TV shows out there. As soon I read the synopsis for The Prisoner of Azkaban, I knew that Sirius would be friendly and that he was a friend rather than the murderer of his parents and would more-than-likely become a foster parent for Harry. It was then just a matter of seeing it play out, rather than actually be surprised when this twist came to be.

A story that is reliant on a twist only works if you don't see it coming. If there aren't any other strings to its bow then it falls flat. A story like Fight Club still works because it is not reliant on twists as its sole hook - it has so many more layers that it can rely on.

Which brings me to romance novels: why are they so popular when the reader should know the basic plot by the end of the first paragraph? Why is it that romance novels religiously follow one (or more) of these plots?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shameless plug

So for the sake of increasing the number of followers, I am forsaking my credibility of the sake of a few more followers. In the end: it is a means to an end. And the end is all that there is in the end, isn't it?

Anywho: welcome random followers. Be sure to check out some more meaningful posts other than this and be sure to follow me, because that is all I ask of you :)

Yes. I feel dirty. Let's not ever speak of this again and let's just fall into the belief that this was but a distant memory that never came to be. Oh, and, buy my book (it's superliminal enough that it *just might* work).

Q: What book would you love to see made into a movie or television show and do you have an actress/actor in mind to play the main characters?
The one I would want made into a film is called Gerald's Game by Stephen King. It revolves around a couple that go into a country town and rekindle their marriage privately with a game that Gerald likes to play. While Jessie is handcuffed, her husband has a heart-attack and dies. From there the story starts, with her mind hallucinating and the dark thing in the corner seemingly solidifying as her sense of reality becomes more tenuous. It's a brilliant psychological horror book and would be quite easy to make into a film (low budget).

For the role of Jessie, I would need an actress that is able to convey mental anguish and psychological deterioration while still having an inner-strength:
Kate Winslet Julianne Moore Cate Blanchett

Love triangles: so hot right now

I lazily gaze across the YA genre and I cannot help noticing a pattern emerging. The story is usually about a heroine who secretly pines for an aloof stranger and has a best friend (that she ignores) who is also, coincidentally, hot. Turmoil ensues and both her friend and the stranger admit their love for her whereupon she finally chooses her suitor. What drama.

When I was a young lad, my choices were a little more varied. Authors wrote what they wanted to write, rather than who their target demographic was or whether vampires were, like, sooo hot right now.

It amuses me to see authors explicitly stating the age of their hero/heroine (sixteen or seventeen). I shouldn't need to know their age to be able to relate to the story. If it was well-written, you would be drawn in irrespective of whether you secretly pine to be the protagonist or happen to be the same age. I think if JK Rowling were to write Harry Potter now, her agent would ask her to focus on Hermione (who would coincidentally be seventeen) and revolve around the dilemma of choosing between the affections of a mysterious older man with piercing blue eyes (whose name we shall not speak) or her best friend Harry.

I can see it now. The public would love it and we would all get a blow-by-blow account that transpires across seven books until the magical moment that she finally decides. And she would be seventeen throughout the story, even though many years of angst and drama would pass (they live in a magical land where time stands still) ... because adults are gross.

Doesn't that make your skin crawl? Anyway, this is more of an impetus towards the authors out there. Ignore your agents, ignore the trends, write what you are passionate about and the result will be spell-binding. The readers will love you for it and I will too.