Monthly Archives: December 2014

Review: Soul Meaning

Title:  Soul Meaning

Series: Seventeen (Book One)

Author: A. D. Starrling

Publisher: A. D. Starrling

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

soul

A popular trend for indie writers is to offer the first book of a series free, as a way to hopefully draw readers in. I picked up this book because of the premise and the first line, “My name is Lucas Soul. Today I died again.  This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred fifty years.”

So that’s a great opening set of lines. Totally hooked me.

As I read deeper into this very long (420) page book, however, I found it harder and harder to continue. There was plenty of action. Actually, there was nothing *but* action. And that was my main issue. I never felt like I got to know any of the characters, and therefore I really didn’t care what happened to them. So many of the so-called immortals died, it was like watching a movie. Whoops, another one died?  Oh well.

I actually think that if the writer had reduced some of the many fight scenes and expanded backstory and interactions between Lucas, his pal Reid, and the woman he loves, this would have been a better story. But apparently others love the action, by the many four and five star ratings the book has received. So if you love nonstop action, this is your book.

I just found it ironic that the book was titled “Soul Meaning.” To me, it didn’t have much meaning. Or much soul. Just a lot of Lucas Soul, kicking butt.

Now in Kindle Unlimited! Dreams and Constellations

I’ve been playing around with Amazon’s new “Kindle Unlimited.” When it first started, I got a ton of downloads for my two novels that are in the Kindle Select program (meaning they are exclusive to Amazon). Since then, however, the Kindle Unlimited (KU) borrows have dropped away, and the payments for UK have fallen from a starting number of about $1.80 to about $1.39. That’s just not worth it.

However, it may be worthwhile to have shorter fiction participating in the program. Next year I plan to publish the next Cathy Pembroke tale, entitled “Ogres on Alcatraz Isle.” I’m going to take the first tale down permanently (“A Troll Under Golden Gate Bridge” because that story is so much shorter and older than everything else I have out now. I have a new cover for the second tale, “Fairies At Fisherman’s Wharf.”  And I’ll probably enroll both that and the third tale in KU.

In the meantime, I’m putting another short story into KU for the next 90 days to try it out. I’ll do some kind of a promotion for my paranormal fiction, “Dreams and Constellations” in January, but I’m not sure when. Right now, you can get borrow it for free if you are a KU subscriber!

Link here:  http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Constellations-Judy-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B00D7NQDHQ/

Blurb:

By day, Iona Mendoza is a college student at the University of Arizona, studying psychology and trying to avoid Justin Tabers, an annoying fellow student. By night, however, she is the daughter of a Mayan priest, being forced to marry against her will before the neighboring kingdom attacks her city. As the danger escalates, Iona begins to encounter issues in her real life–or are the dreams more real?

She must figure out the mystery before war comes to her dreams and possibly takes away both her futures.

Enjoy!

Dreams copy small

Author Interview: Lazarus Infinity

I’m pleased to announce that the promotion for Journey To Landaran last week did well, and I’m moving forward again on the next book. In other news, it’s Indie Author Thursday! Today I have Lazarus Infinity (how’s that for a pseudonym?) with me today. Find out more about Lazarus at the links below the interview. Enjoy!

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1)  So what inspired you to write?

My first love was always acting.  As a kid, I watched guys like Sidney Poitier, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney, so I always wanted to be like them.  Then as I grew and began taking acting lessons, Denzel Washington became my idol.  As for writing, it was just always there; something I did to pass the time.  I never took it seriously and never EVER wanted to be an author.  One day when I was nine, my mother saw me writing a short story and said, ‘One day you’re gonna write a book.’  Anytime I would hear those words, I’d always laugh because I never believed it.  As it turns out, she was right all along.

2) Looking at your author page on Amazon I see horror, fantasy and romance?  What do you enjoy writing the most?

As far as fiction goes, I don’t have a favorite genre.  A good rule of advice I’ve picked up is to write whatever comes from the heart.  Since I’ve always been a very creative person who gets his ideas from dreams, I just go with the flow.  I don’t think in terms of genre until an idea comes fully formed, which surprisingly happens a lot.  Aside from writing books, I’m more into writing stage plays and screenplays.

3) You wrote a book, Occupation, set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but with zombies.  Tell me about that.

Occupation came purely as a spur of the moment thing during a Saints game.  A friend of mine managed to get some tickets last minute and we all went.  I remember sitting in the Superdome before the start of the game thinking, ‘it would be pretty crazy if a horde of zombies just barged in and destroyed the place.’  Truthfully, I have no idea how that popped into my head but I figured it would be an interesting story to set against the backdrop of the year when New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl AND Mardi Gras in the same two week span.  More than anything, it was an exercise just to see if I could write anything like that since I hadn’t before.  The story is more of a novella, serving as a bit of a metaphor for something deeper.

4) Who is your favorite writer, and why?

For fiction, I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King because I grew up on horror films.  Always been a fan of really intensive, visual storytelling and he’s certainly a master of that.  Being a theatre major back in college, I also tend to draw a huge amount of inspiration from playwrights such as August Wilson and Arthur Miller.  The theatre is what I love and miss the most, so I always use that as motivation.

5) What do you think about the current revolution in self-publishing?

I think it’s both good and bad.  It’s definitely great for those writers who are passionate about the business and no longer have to deal with query letters being rejected.  They now have an avenue to get their work out there and build a reputable brand, and the financial benefits are extraordinary.  It can be a negative in the sense that now nearly everyone is trying to get in on it, so the marketplace is becoming flooded.  If you follow popular music, you see the same in Hip-Hop.  There was a time when only artists who could create great material got signed to labels.  Now because of the internet and social media, ANYONE can put out an album.  And let’s face it-a lot of the music is horrible.  Self-Publishing is seeing the same thing right now.  The upside is the fact that those who stick with it, learn how to market and publish quality work will eventually see long term success.

6) What are you working on next?

I actually have several projects in the works.  I’m currently working on a Sci-Fi romance entitled ANUNNAKI which is very spiritual in nature.  Following that will be my first vampire novel TAINTED BLOOD.  For those interested in children’s fiction, expect volume 2 of THE LITTLE BOY AND THE SEA to arrive some time in the new year.

7) How have circumstances in your life affected you as a writer?

The credit for all of it has to go to my mother.  Like I said, writing was always there since childhood.  While I was always more interested in writing plays and screenplays, she was the one that knew all along I’d publish books one day.  I had absolutely NO faith in that idea whatsoever and would often laugh at her for suggesting it.  When you say ‘author’, I immediately think of names like Langston Hughes, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote.  In my mind, there was never any way I could ever fit in that class of talent.  I still feel that way to this day.  What’s interesting and yet bittersweet about all this is that my mother passed away in 2009.  It’s without question the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and that scar has never healed.  She knew all this would happen, and she’s not here to see it.  It’s extremely tough living with that everyday, but there’s no turning back now.

8) What advice do you have for other writers?

Write the stories you would want to read and think of yourself as more of a brand than just another writer.  Create great stories with interesting and compelling characters that readers can get behind.  Work hard at it every single day and never give up.

Here are my links: www.lazarusInfinity.net

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/lazarusInfinity

Facebook:  lazarusInfinity

Instagram: lazarusinfinity

Author Interview: Stacy Juba

It’s Thursday!  You know what that means. It’s time for another indie author review, and today that’s with Stacy Juba, writer of mysteries and romance. You can find out more about Stacy through the links at the bottom of this post.

(Reminder, don’t forget that Journey To Landaran is free this week!  Expiring tomorrow. See my post from yesterday.)

Stacy

1 Why did you start writing?

I started writing in fifth grade as I loved to read and kept getting this urge to tell stories. I was also quite introverted and found that writing was an excellent way to express myself.

2.  It looks like you like to write in a variety of genres. What are your favorite? Why?

My favorite until recently was cozy mystery as I have always loved reading mystery stories, starting in my Nancy Drew days. I am launching a romantic comedy/chick lit series set in a theme park called Storybook Valley and that is my new favorite genre. Lately I’ve felt drawn to writing something funny and sassy, perhaps because those are the kinds of stories I’ve felt compelled to read on my e-reader. My overall goal, no matter what the genre, is to provide people with an entertaining escape from the stresses of their daily lives.

3.  I also see quite a few collaborations. What’s the best thing about collaborating with another writer? What’s the most challenging aspect?

I was the editor of the book 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back, and I was also a contributor to the Bestseller Bound Short Story Anthology Volume 3 and to the dessert book Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing, among other projects. The best part is working with so many creative people, exchanging ideas and making new long-term connections. The most challenging part is that there will always be writers who submit to a group project and then don’t do any promotion of the final product.

4.  Tell me about your latest book.

My latest book is Sink or Swim, a mystery/romantic suspense novel about Cassidy Novak, a personal trainer who attracts a stalker after coming in second on a reality TV show. I am especially excited about the Audible edition, narrated by Funda Duval, who does a great job with the varety of voices. It’s like listening to a movie.

5.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

My favorite writer is Sophie Kinsella, author of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series. Her books just crack me up and draw me right in. I read them over a few days as I can’t put them down.

6.  What are you working on next?

I am finishing up editing my romantic comedy Fooling Around With Cinderella, about a marketing coordinator who gets coerced into playing Cinderella at a theme park for the summer. This is the first in my new Storybook Valley series so I will be focusing on developing more projects in the series.

7.  What do you think of the current explosion of self-publishing?

I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for authors and I am grateful to be part of it.  I recently gave a talk about self publishing at the local library and the aspiring writers in attendance were shocked at how easy it was to self-publish, as far as seeing your book listed at different retailers – and even more shocked at how much work it is to be successful at it. I think it’s a good match for authors who can see themselves as an entrepreneur and who are comfortable making all the business decisions.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

I recommend that they research all the options available to them, from the traditional publishing route to the ins and outs of self-publishing. I advise them to develop their craft through classes and critique partners and to also read up on marketing, branding and promotion. Being a writer isn’t just a creative profession; you’re also an entrepreneur and you need to treat it like a business.

Links: Sink or Swim retailers: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sink-or-Swim-ebook/dp/B004GHN6CW/ref

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sink-or-swim-stacy-juba/1100588699?ean=2940012324771 I

Bookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id640267820

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Sink-or-Swim/book-aXZ0A_WHRke5PB7VcunL1A/page1.html?s=sYx_czFatU2YYndOEKKoZA&r=5

Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_5?asin=B00CO9M4J0&qid=1367976480&sr=1-5

Website: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Juba/100155471301 Twitter https://twitter.com/stacyjuba

Free this week! Epic fantasy, Journey To Landaran

For the first time, I’m offering Journey To Landaran for free download on Amazon!  December 3 to December 5:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IO7IXSC

Landaran ebook final copy 400

Blurb:

Aidah and her twin brother Tavish have always had a knack for getting into trouble. From pie stealing and pranks to hunting for magical creatures, they have always escaped notice in their tiny mountain village.

Until now.

Aidah begins seeing visions through her brother’s eyes. He’s a Firestarter, gifted with the Talent to control light and heat, destined to become a Sun Mage in the great city of Landaran. But he doesn’t want to leave without his sister. As storm clouds gather, Aidah dreams of a beautiful man, a frightening man, calling to her.

She fears the truth. That she may be developing a Talent of her own, one that will change their lives forever.

The power to read minds. To possess bodies. To travel inside dreams. In the world of Ernid, Spirit is the ultimate power.

Nations will go to war over them.

Excerpt:

He saw a man, a man who was not running. The man was dressed for heavy winter travel with a waterskin and travel pouch across his chest, a long gray cloak, sturdy fur-lined boots and—Tavish gasped—a sword, an actual sword at his hip. The only men with weapons were the local militia, and they had spears and maces for the most part. The man carried a bucket but he walked slowly, not running as others were. He stood in the middle of the street, just down from Tavish. Too close.

As their eyes met, the dark-haired man sneered. “So there you are, my young fire Talent.”

Fear gripped Tavish’s body, but his mind raced. At any second the Storm Mage could call lightning to strike at him. He could disperse the heat but not the power of the shock; it would kill him. Tavish could also call fire from the hot embers of the temple, but doing so might cause the mage to strike. From where the militia had charged up the hillside to the treeline he heard shouts and the sounds of battle. There would be no help from them.

He wondered: did the fellow want him alive or dead?

The man walked up, boots crunching on black embers in the snow, dark eyes appraising him from beneath the hood of his gray cloak. The nostrils of his hawkish nose flared. “My name is Madhar. Give yourself up quietly, or I’ll destroy what’s left of your village.”

Ah, so he was wanted alive. Perhaps an attack would be possible, but he had to be careful. Meanwhile, the fire at the silo had been almost put out, and he could see his father and grandfather leading the greater part of the village over to put out the flames at the well. He hurried to put distance between himself and Madhar as the man tried to reach out for him.

“So what are you after? Stealing Talents for Innis or something? You may find me a little more than you can handle, mage.”

He prepared to engulf the two of them in flames, forming protection in his mind for his clothing. As he began to direct the heat, however, a loud voice rang out in his head, and an image flared of another building in flames. He gasped.

“Come here! The house is on fire! Come home and put out the flames and don’t let them capture you!”

It was Aidah, and the inferno was his own home! There was no time to play with this annoying Storm Mage. Aidah and Mother were in trouble.

He pulled, and as flames engulfed himself and the mage, he ran around Madhar towards where his father was shoveling slush on fire consuming the structure of the well. He moved quick enough that a small lightning bolt meant for him hit empty space, but the force of the impact sent him flying into his father’s arms. Behind him he could hear Madhar crying out with surprise and pain as he dove to escape the flames. With no fuel and with Tavish’s concentration broken by his fall, the flames disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Tavish shot to his feet, ignoring curls of smoke wafting up from his clothing and the headache beginning to pound within his skull. “The house is on fire! Aidah sent a call for help, with her mind. And there’s an enemy ma—”

“Halt there! The Emperor wants you.” Madhar, his face covered with soot, staggered forward, sword drawn.

Blinking from the shock of the blast and Tavish’s flying entrance, Darrant stood and moved in front of Tavish, rattled but recovering quickly. He held up his shovel up like a weapon. “Who are you?”

“In the name of Innis, this town has been surrounded, and you are all now prisoners. Give up quietly or face my wrath.” A stroke of lightning lent power to the mage’s words, narrowly missing the mill up on the hillside by the creek.

Book Review: Insomnia

insomnia

Title:  Insomnia

Author:  Stephen King

Publisher: MacMillian

Genre: Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve read lots of reviews for this book that say that it dragged for the first half. I don’t know if these readers haven’t read a lot of Stephen King, or if they only read slasher horror or perhaps just fast-paced thrillers. I didn’t think the book dragged at all. It built up slowly, tension upon tension, things getting weirder and weirder. But that’s pretty typical for King.

I personally enjoyed the slow buildup. If you’ve ever had a bout of insomnia, you’ll get exactly what Ralph is going through. I went through the experience after the birth of my daughter–one week, five hours of sleep. That’s five hours that I slept THE ENTIRE WEEK. So yeah, insomnia makes you a little crazy. The world doesn’t look as it normally does. You start to feel supernatural, or at least something outside the commonly accepted reality. This is what the main character experiences as he starts to get less and less sleep night after night. He experiences hyper reality, not-helpful advice from friends and strangers, and ominous encounters with the sane and insane.

Another fun bit about this book is the parallels it runs with the whole Dark Tower series. No spoilers, but it amused me that in the Dark Tower an ally tried to give this book to the protagonist, but the protagonist never read it. I actually liked reading this after finishing the Dark Tower series, because it was much easier to see all the links.

Then there’s the whole issue of the pro life vs. pro choice brought up in the book and how it completely tears apart the community. Discerning readers will note that the pro-life gets more of the crazies in this book…but in the end, both sides aren’t willing to just let each other be. It says something for how some debates will just never be resolved.

Last, I really liked the whole concept of the book, with the multiple “levels” of realities and auras. The residents of the upper levels were suitably spooky but also comic. Plenty of action near the end, but this book probably didn’t quite belong in the “horror” shelf. I’m not exactly sure what you’d call it. Me, I’d call it a very existential novel and an engaging story about life, death, and what’s in between.