Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moon Dwellers Birthday Bash!

Today, The Moon Dwellers by David Estes turns 1 year old! It was 1 year ago today (June 30th) that David Estes first published the first book in his first ever YA dystopian series, The Dwellers Saga, and changed his life forever. Since then, The Moon Dwellers has outsold and drawn more hype than any other of his 13 published books, and has risen to the top 10 of many YA dystopian lists on Listopia, finding a place amongst bestselling books such as The Hunger Games, Delirium and Divergent. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Finding GloriaFinding Gloria by Marianne Curtis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking and inspirational...

Finding Gloria is the true story of a young girl who grows up in abusive home and how that experience shapes her adult years. Although this book could have easily focused on nothing but the horrors the author experienced, it takes a more constructive approach. Reflections of both the good and bad, brought into context with insights gained at great cost throughout her life, build a picture that is at times heard to read, but always well worth the effort.

I think one of the things that most hit home to me is how candidly the author catalogs her experiences. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to write such an account, let alone publish it for all to see. For someone haunted by low self-worth and trust issues, as Marianne admits in her book, it is quite a feat. I could relate to Marianne, as both someone who experienced bullying and someone who grew up with a mentally disordered mother.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: The Prophecy of Tara by R.L. Kiser

The Prophecy of Tara
The Prophecy of Tara by R.L. Kiser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Action-packed fantasy...

The Prophecy of Tara is a story of prophecy, epic battles and magic. Tara was raised by monks and has trained her entire life in preparation for her role in an ancient prophecy. Protected by lizard skin armor (magical in nature) and by her superior warrior skills, she still discovers she cannot complete her quest alone.

As luck may have it, she attracts attention and assistance from several equally yet diversely skilled people along the way: Reed, a spaceman with a laser sword; Luggo, a northern warrior giant; Steph, a burly blacksmith with a secret; and Tianna, a roguish magician's assistant. The wizard Duphrene and his involuntarily shapeshifting companion Sistera eagerly await the arrival of Tara but are unable to assist for fear of interfering with the prophecy.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: The Ruthlessness of Cats and Dogs by S.J. Hunter

The Ruthlessness of Cats and DogsThe Ruthlessness of Cats and Dogs by S.J. Hunter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Humorous and suspenseful with a touch of romance.

The Ruthlessness of Cats and Dogs is a fun read, though it can be hard to keep track of all the animals and people at first. And, while I enjoyed the various plot lines, there are quite a lot of them, too: Eddie the Punter's quest for money; Billy the muscle's quest to follow Eddie and put up with his neanderthal partner; Syd and Ben's shy admiration of each other and potential for romance; Ben's internal struggle with insecurities earned as a medic in the military; Syd's struggle to trust; and the big one, Mae's death of seemingly natural causes (coincidence or murder). 

I Enjoyed the Billy scenes the most because they made me laugh. Also, it was interesting to see the story from the perspective of the muscle (people sent to ensure the debt is collected). Instead of a token burly guy in the background, Billy is a smart guy stuck with a dumb partner. He becomes a real person rather than simply a way to move the story forward. Billy is my favorite character in this book.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Inspiration: Dreams, a bit cliche? Maybe...

Legacy post from my Goodreads blog.

December 7, 2012
Last time I visited this topic, I shared some of my tips for writing without a plan. This time, I'll discuss one of the most celebrated and tricky sources of inspiration: dreams.

Dreams. A bit cliche? Maybe, but dreams are the playground of the creative mind. All things imaginable and unimaginable are possible in dreams. The trick is remembering them when you wake up.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: Working for Heat by Donovan Sotam

Working for HeatWorking for Heat by Donovan Sotam

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An amusing and satirical jab at office politics.

Working for Heat is a compilation of three short stories focused on different aspects of office life. As a satire, these stories are a success, although my opinions of each vary.

Severance Coffee is about a workaholic woman who is just about too busy to be fired. Several situations stood out to me: one, the workaholic who thinks she's single-handedly keeping the business afloat; two, the lack of communication between the company's leaders (and between them and the employee); and three, the disconnect between white collar and blue collar workers. This one was a bit depressing, because I felt sorry for the lady being fired.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Read for Reviews-Pros, Cons and Etiquette

Have you ever logged on to Amazon or another bookstore and decided to buy (or not to buy) a book after reading the reviews?  I sure have.  In fact, if I'm going to dish out money, especially for a paperback, I want to know that the book I'm buying is something I'll like. Reading a book is not only an investment in money but also in time, and reviews provide excellent investment research.

That being said, as an author, I've discovered it's incredibly difficult to get reviews passively.  If you put your book out there for free, you may "sell" hundreds of copies without a single resulting review.  If you don't put it out for free, the odds are worse.  Add to that selective shoppers who, like myself, want to know what they're getting into before they buy.  Without reviews, they may not even download a free copy (or if they do, they may not read it).

So, what's a new author to do besides make all their books free and cross their fingers? One good option is the Read for Review.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Oh Myyy! by George Takei

Oh Myyy!
Oh Myyy! by George Takei

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Myyy! It says it all, doesn't it?

Oh Myyy! is George Takei's foray into social media, starting with Twitter and leading up to his now four million fans on Facebook (as announced to his followers April 27, 2013). As someone who dutifully watch every single meticulously recorded episode of the original Star Trek at the urging of my father, I knew who George Takei was when I first noticed one of his posts pop up in my Facebook feed. I think it was something about cats... From that point on, I was delighted as Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and all sort of silly posts started appearing. Apparently one of my friends was an avid liker of George's posts. Eventually, I figured out how to follow him myself (I'm still rather new to Facebook) and from then on I liked almost everything he posted and even commented a few times.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: City of Golden Shadow (Otherland #1) by Tad Williams

City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, #1)City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Surprising, complex, and insane...but I like it.

The City of Golden Shadow has been sitting on my bookshelf for over ten years, unread. In times past, I've picked it up and tried to read it, only to give up after twenty pages or so. That being said, I'm glad that I decided to stick it out this time, because this is an astonishingly complex, intricately woven masterpiece. 

Now, to get it out of the way, let me begin with why I never got far in previous attempts. The book starts off on a battlefield with Paul Jonas, a lone soldier stuck in a ditch listening to a man screaming insanely in the background. The imagery is fantastically realistic and more than a little disturbing. In short, it gives every impression of being a war book, which isn't a genre I particularly enjoy. Alas, until this time, I never made it far enough in to realize that nothing is as it seems at first glance.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: Blue Hearts of Mars by Nicole Grotepas

Blue Hearts of Mars
Blue Hearts of Mars by Nicole Grotepas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tale of love in the face of injustice and fear.

Blue Hearts of Mars is an analogy for civil rights and how the general public can be influenced to fear and despise those who are different. The story begins with the birth of Hemingway, an android: coming into self-awareness, his mother welcoming him, and sleep. Alive despite his origins.

Flash forward and Retta, a seventeen year-old girl working at a coffee shop, notices the most handsome boy she's ever seen walking into her life. She and Hemingway hit it off immediately, but almost right away she sees stars in his eyes, his "tell", the thing that sets androids apart from humans. This beautiful boy, this caring, exciting handsome boy who adores her and whom she adores is an android.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Writing for work and fun...

Here's another legacy post from my Goodreads blog.

Writing improves the more you practice, but the type of writing and the approach you must take to write effectively varies.  Writing blog posts is much different than writing a novel, and writing training materials is much different than technical writing.  Here are a few tips I've come up with through trial, error and research.

January 26, 2013

Today, I decided to write about the various types of writing I do, including creative writing, of course. Here's the breakdown, in order of highest to lowest volume.

1. Business writing (emails, memos, standard operating procedures, etc.)

2. Instructional Writing (training materials, eLearning Courses, lesson plans)

3. Creative Writing (stories)

4. Social Writing (blogs, essays, and reviews)

As you can see, the majority of the writing I do falls into the Business and Instructional Writing categories (my day job), but I spend a great deal of time at home on the Creative and Social Writing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: Tsunami Connection by Michael James Gallagher

Tsunami Connection
Tsunami Connection by Michael James Gallagher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tsunami Connection is an action packed, political thriller.

Kefira, a sleeper agent in Mossad, loses half of her team when an RPG hits their helicopter and explodes into a fiery mess. Determined to find those responsible for the bomber, she tracks down the likely suspects with the assistance of a charismatic team of agents. But, what she learns may be more than she can handle.

What I like most about this book are the richly described locations. The author has obviously drawn from extensive research and possibly personal experience to bring them to life. The people, the culture, the details, all work perfectly. The locations I enjoy from the book the most are Canada, Argentina, and Egypt.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ah the joys of editing...

Here's another legacy post from my Goodreads blog.

Self-editing is risky business, but for someone like me who writes for a hobby with a limited budget, it might be a good option. Here are a few things I do to make it work. 
Of course, your best bet is to get some extra eyes on the job.  Fellow writers and avid readers in bookclubs on are valuable resources. 

January 16, 2013

Today I hit the 70% complete mark for editing my third novel, a story about surviving the end of the world (via zombies) told through a young woman’s diary entries. So, I thought I'd take a break from editing to write about editing. Say that fast three times in a row.

Yes, I edit my own stories. And, yes, it is challenging to do that. Here's why.