Wednesday, March 28, 2012

REVIEW: Dead Grid by David C. Waldron

Description: In the wake of a solar event, the likes of which hasn't been seen since 1859 when the height of technology was the telegraph, the northern hemisphere is faced with a new reality...a life without power. The electrical grids of virtually the entire planet have shorted out as a result of expected but completely unplanned for sunspot activity during the peak of the current solar cycle.

Joel Turner and his family, along with a few close trusted friends, have to decide how and even if they can survive in their suburban Nashville neighborhood as things deteriorate within a matter of days with no electricity. Once they decide to strike out on their own, the only question that remains is where? Through the recent prior military service of Eric Tripp, one of the small group to leave the neighborhood, they are allowed to attach themselves to the local National Guard Unit until they decide where they are headed.

With the power out and no communication with higher authority the Guard is on its own, and downtown Nashville is becoming a less safe place to be. The entire Armory, group and all, relocates to Natchez Trace State Park to set up operations for the duration of the crisis…however long that may be.

My Thoughts: Waldron clearly knows his stuff. The plot was strong and interesting (I'm morbid; I love learning of new ways that the world can end), and the research is integrated without becoming overwhelming or show-offy. That being said...

I did not enjoy this one. At all. I was willing to cut it a certain amount of slack at first, because most of the early issues appeared to be line-editing. (I don't begrudge self-published titles for mistakes commonly seen in traditionally published books as well. It's just not fair.) But the deeper we got in, the more I realized...I just didn't like these people. Part of the joy of dystopian fiction is smashing the world to pieces, but I have an issue when the characters themselves appear to be enjoying it. At one point early in the book, a character actually laughs as he slams the door in a pushy neighbor's face. LOL, DON'T YOU GET IT, IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE!!! A real knee-slapper, that one.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On Trayvon Martin

Hey, all:

I don't normally use this blog for political purposes (or political purposes that don't dovetail into self-publishing and/or books, anyway), but this is too big an injustice for me to let to go by without comment. On February 26, 2012, a 17 year-old black youth named Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a Latino neighborhood watch captain. Mother Jones has a pretty good write-up here. While the comments sections of these types of articles can be dangerous spaces, I'm going to cautiously say that it's all right to read this time. There are some smart cookies running around in there explaining why the Stand Your Ground law might not protect Zimmerman here, and that it's certainly cowardly of the state attorney's office to not even try. But here are the pertinent details all the same.

1) Trayvon was unarmed.

2) He was doing nothing more suspicious than walking.

3) Zimmerman, according to his neighbors, had an obsession with crime among young black males and said, "These assholes always get away" when he was speaking to the 911 dispatcher.

4) Trayvon ran away from Zimmerman, and Zimmerman pursued him.

5) Trayvon screamed for help before he was killed.

6) Police officers belonging to a department with a history of racism attempted to pressure a witness at the scene into changing her statement.

7) Regular police procedure in potential homicide cases was not followed.

There's a petition here urging Florida law enforcement to prosecute George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin's death. I highly encourage you to sign it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Paddy's Day Sale, and also a little bit of linkspam.

David Gaughran is hosting a sale of 30 books by 26 authors, all of them reduced to $.99 for this weekend only.

I feel a binge coming on.

And then in other indie-related news, the Department of Justice has given notice to five major publishing houses as well as Apple that they intend to sue them for price-fixing e-books under the agency model. Authors Guild president Scott Turow weighs in here. David Gaughran (you know what, just follow him already, he's a hoopy frood) weighs in here, with JA Konrath and Barry Eisler adding their two cents here. I don't agree with some of the points made (umm, monopolies are bad, mmmkay, and the average person cannot make an Amazon like they can make an ebook), but I think that it's incredibly fascinating that Turow is focusing almost entirely on an emotional argument. Big red flag, y'all. Big, big red flag. In fact, it's almost as big a red flag as Barnes and Noble trying to pull a moral argument out of their asses when they were the ones who put most of the indie bookstores out of business in the first place.

And I'm still stuck on the fact that an organization called The Authors Guild is so desperately shilling for publishers against the average author.

Monday, March 12, 2012

REVIEW: Towards Yesterday by Paul Jones

DESCRIPTION: What would you do if you suddenly found yourself twenty-five years in the past? For the nine-billion people of the year 2042 it's no longer a question ... it is a reality

When a seemingly simple experiment goes disastrously wrong, James Baston finds himself stranded alongside the rest of mankind, twenty-five years in the past. A past where the old are once more young, the dead live and the world has been thrust into chaos.

Contacted by the scientist responsible for the disaster, James is recruited to help avert an even greater catastrophe. Along with a team of scientists, a reincarnated murder victim and a frustrated genius trapped in her six-year old body, James must stop the certain extinction of humanity. But if the deluded leader of the Church of Second Redemption has his way, humanity will disappear into potentiality, and he is willing to do anything to ensure that happens.

A serial killer, a murder victim, a dead priest, and James' lives are all inextricably bound together as they plummet towards an explosive final confrontation, the winner of which will decide the fate of humanity.

My Thoughts: Jones writes one of the most original apocalypses that I've ever read. The kind of devastation that would be wrought by everyone slamming back into their past bodies (and everyone who had been born between those two points just disappearing) would be immense. Nearly unimaginable, frankly, but Jones does a great job of painting a world on the verge of completely unraveling. So good a job that I wanted him to spend a little more time taking the world apart rather than putting it back together, but that could be because I'm a little twisted. The book's four main characters, a scientist-turned-writer, a math genius who is also a murder victim, a priest who committed suicide and then was brought back, and the math genius's killer, are vividly drawn; I couldn't wait for them to collide. (My favorite character, though, is a scientist who gets slammed back into the body of her prepubescent self and is about as happy over it as you can imagine.) The book does drift into a few moments of fridge logic at the end, and the four didn't have quite the screamer that I wanted them to when they finally crossed paths, but Jones's writing is so crisp and evocative that the ride is still well worth it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The results of Super's free day!

Holy crap. So, if you were following me on Twitter yesterday, you might have noticed me acting like something of a dork. Okay, a lot of dork. Super was absolutely free yesterday, and the results were incredible. Almost three hundred of you downloaded copies; over eighty of those copies were downloaded between nine p.m. and midnight, when I stopped promoting. Super got as high as fifteenth place in the Contemporary Fantasy category. For one hour, I was even ranked ahead of Jenny Pox, a book that I have nothing but love for. That's huge, and a pretty good reason for me to stay in the KDP Select program. Now, here's what I'd like to ask of all you guys who downloaded the book: please review. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are my major weak point right now, so if you like what you're reading, please review!

For now, I'm saving my four additional free days for May 9-May 13 to coincide with the release of Fire With Fire. I'm still undecided on staying with KDP Select as a permanent thing as opposed to rotating books in and out to promote new releases (I'm also not sure if my Twitter feed will tolerate me, as I was fairly...aggressive in my promotions yesterday), but this is a promising start. I have nothing but effusive thanks for everyone who retweeted and cheered me on yesterday, I could not have done it without you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fire With Fire release date.

Yes, boils and ghouls, I am setting a hard-and-fast release date for Fire With Fire, the second book in the Super series: May 9th. Firstly, nothing gets me off my butt faster than the prospect of public humiliation. Secondly, this will give me the opportunity to, uh, build suspense rather than throwing a book at the internet, giggling wildly, and running away like I did with Super. (What? I thought formatting was going to be a lot harder than it was!) Then the third book, Leech will come out this summer/early fall, with the fourth book following in early 2013. Don't worry: I'm not Type A enough to set specific release dates that far in advance. (Quite.) The release of Fire With Fire will also come with four days of Super being absolutely free, free, free.

In celebration of this smaller victory, though, I still feel an urge to throw glitter. With that in mind, Super is going to be free on Amazon for one day starting at midnight tonight. Mark your calendars. Or at least your cell phones. I don't know about you, but I am totally absentminded enough to forget about an event within twelve hours.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A bit of this, a bit of that.

Firstly, my February sales for Super held steady in spite of the dreaded mid-winter slump. I'm making gas money, but I'm not selling to friends and family who are contractually obligated to love me at this point, and that is amazing. That is something that I almost doubted would ever happen. (Eh, cynic at heart, what can I say? It means that good news is such a delightful surprise!) I have the fabulous MGShogun on Twitter and the incredible Alejandra Aponte on Wordpress to thank for this. Y'all's enthusiasm is staggering and humbling.


In news of the Super series, Fire with Fire is in the middle of its third draft and is still on schedule for an April release, though not April 1 as I had envisioned. I always hate the third draft and have to kick and stomp a bit before I get down to it, as that's when my beta readers take great delight in telling me everything about my baby that is ugly. The final edit, the copy-edit and typo search, is much less aggravating. As far as drafting goes, I cringe to say this, but...I've put Siren, Naomi's book, on hiatus at 38,000 words while I work out some other issues. I wasn't having any fun at all, and it was showing in the writing. Part of it was pressure from the series endgame revving up, part of it was structural issues in the book itself (which I think I have identified), and part of it was pressure from the day job seeping into me, but I was dragging along at about two thousand miserable words a day and calling it lucky to get that much. I've been writing a ridiculous PNR that I outlined in a day since then; it's been delighting me and providing a wonderful mental respite so that I can go back to the Super series with all of the joy that it deserves.


In news of the Smashwords censorship scandal, Mark Coker has sent this message out to all Smashwords authors:


Although erotica authors are being targeted, this is an issue that should concern
all indie authors. It affects indies disproportionately because indies are the
ones pushing the boundaries of fiction. Indies are the ones out there publishing
without the (fading) protective patina of a "traditional publisher" to lend them
legitimacy. We indies only have each other.

Several Smashwords authors have contacted me to stress that this censorship affects
women disproportionately. Women write a lot of the erotica, and they're also
the primary consumers of erotica. They're also the primary consumers of mainstream
romance, which could also come under threat if PayPal and the credit card companies
were to overly enforce their too-broad and too-nebulous obsenity clauses (I think
this is unlikely, but at the same time, why would dubious consent be okay in
mainstream romance but not okay in erotica? If your write paranormal, can your
were-creatures not get it on with one another, or is that bestiality? The insanity
needs to stop here. These are not questions an author, publisher or distributor
of legal fiction should have to answer.).

All writers and their readers should stand up and voice their opposition to financial
services companies censoring books. Authors should have the freedom to publish
legal fiction, and readers should have the freedom to read what they want.

These corporations need to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call them.
Email them. Start petitions. Sign petitions. Blog your opposition to censorship.
Encourage your readers to do the same. Pass the word among your social networks.
Contact your favorite bloggers and encourage them to follow this story. Contact
your local newspaper and offer to let them interview you so they can hear a local
author's perspective on this story of international significance. If you have
connections to mainstream media, encourage them to pick up on the story. Encourage
them to call the credit card companies and pose this simple question, "PayPal
says they're trying to enforce the policies of credit card companies. Why are
you censoring legal fiction?"

Below are links to the companies waiting to hear from you. Click the link and
you'll find their phone numbers, executive names and postal mailing addresses.
Be polite, respectful and professional, and encourage your friends and followers
to do the same. Let them know you want them out of the business of censoring
legal fiction.

Tell the credit card companies you want them to give PayPal permission to sell
your ebooks without censorship or discrimination. Let them know that PayPal's
policies are out of step with the major online ebook retailers who already accept
your books as they are. Address your calls, emails (if you can find the email)
and paper letters (yes paper!) to the executives. Post open letters to them
on your blog, then tweet and Facebook hyperlinks to your letters. Force the
credit card companies to join the discussion about censorship. And yes, express
your feelings and opinions to PayPal as well. Don't scream at them. Ask them
to work on your behalf to protect you and your readers from censorship. Tell
them how their proposed censorship will harm you and your fellow writers.


American Express:



Ebay (owns PayPal):


Starting Sunday, if our email systems can handle it, we will send out an email
to several hundred thousand registered Smashwords members who are opted in to
receive occasional Smashwords service updates. The email will combine Read an
Ebook Week with the censorship call to action. Let's start a little fire, shall

Thank you for your continuing support of Smashwords. With your help, we can
move mountains.

Best wishes,


He lays it out much better than I ever could. Even if you're not a Smashwords author, I highly, highly encourage you to contact Paypal, Ebay, and the listed credit card companies and make your voices heard. Ill-defined standards based upon emotion, historically speaking, really don't end well.