Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Novella - Sway's Demise!

Artwork by Jeremy Aaron Moore
After making peace with the desolate and stranded alien race, the Priyon, civilization limped on. Humanity occupies but a fraction of the globe at a stagnant abridgement of technology from the Priyon warning: Don't rebuild, or the darkness that destroyed their world will come to Earth.
Now eight young men and women from a small community will be the only barrier between the enemy of old, and the survival of the human race. Can they persevere, or will it be their demise?

I felt like she deserved a "Large" size image rather than my standard "Medium". Check that shit out! Thanks to Jeremy Aaron Moore for a killer hand-painted look for the cover.

Sway is probably one of my favorite characters to write for so far, other than one special guy in my short story Thief (which may end up turning into its own robust series of awesomeness) and Hopper–dear, sweet, positive, plucky, potty-mouthed Hopper. Her book is coming along nicely as well, 7k words and counting.

Anyway, this is about Sway! Back to it ^_^

Enter Sarah Way, an upbeat, inquisitive, defiant, and protective teen. Though considered an adult in her community, she still manages to find plenty of time for play, that is, between Beacon training sessions.
Follow along as she and her seven squadmates tromp through the forests of Kamloops, British Columbia, fire weapons with precision, curse like sailors, spread and shed blood alike, all in defense of the human race.

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.”

I hope that was as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write. This one has been a long time coming, and I'm so excited to be launching it on Friday, May 13th. You can preorder here: Sway's Demise

Have a good one kiddies ^_^

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Anthology - What is it and why should you care?

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?

The internet is a vast and amazing place. I was not so great at finding anthologies when I started off, but I've found a few choice sites that I check regularly.

For Horror and all things scary, come here. They also have info on poems and art!

Frequently has opportunities for indie authors as well as minorities. Genre net is wide and far, shows just about everything.

Has a lot of openings for poems, it's kind of their focus, but will have stuff for magazines and anthologies as well!

She's just a lone writer/reader/reviewer, but she posts these really consistently every month. It's not just erotica either =P

Also, check your local authors groups. I'm currently a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and they do a very big anthology almost every year. It's always loaded with award winning authors, amazing stories, and fantastic art. I'll probably pee my pants if my story gets accepted this year.
If you don't know about any of your writers groups in your area/state, probably use the internet and figure that out =) It's usually $100 a year, and so totally worth it.

I've found one I want to write for, now what?

First off, I'd say, check the guidelines. There could be some really specific stuff hidden deep in the description. Make sure you know exactly what it is they're looking for.
Second, research who's asking for it a bit.
  • 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.

Lastly, I'd say what's most important, write something you love. You can always take a broad story and make it a bit more defined for a specific anthology. You cannot take a story you've already made for a niche audience and make it more broad to fit a different anthology if you get rejected, without a ton more work. Write something that inspires you, that makes you love your own mind, and marvel at your brilliance =)

I wrote the thing... how do I help ensure my acceptance?

Just the same as my advice to get Reviewers on your side, do the same thing for these anthology reviewers. Learn about them, learn about the company doing the work, figure out their style, engage them with niceties in the email submission (if possible).
Write a confident, yet humble, 3rd person bio. Typically no more than 2 paragraphs. Giving them a bit of info about who you are may help them connect to you as a human, and be more invested in your story.
Make sure your thing really does follow the guidelines, both stylistically and formatting. If your formatting is off, that's likely a straight up no. Style might be a bit harder to pin down, but if they say something like, "This should be a hot romance mystery", you should probably get an erection (or cliterection) when you write it.
GIVE IT TO AN EDITOR FOR COPY EDITING!!!!!! I know most anthologies say it will go through one or two rounds of editing, but you do not want to hand over a pile of blah with a spelling error on the first page, trust me... I've done it =(

I got rejected... I fail at life.

No, you don't. Try as you may to please the anthology gods, you might not have hit the exact style they wanted. You might not have had enough action, adventure, sex appeal, gore, aliens, valley girls, etc. There are a billion things that could have been out of your control which led your story to being rejected.
When you're rejected, go ahead and ask why. "Hey, thanks for letting me know. Just curious, was there anything I could have done with the story to improve it, or improve my chances of breaking into a different market with it?" Be really humble, very gracious, and calm. Yes, they just said "You're not good enough," but there may be a totally valid reason outside of "The story sucked a butt."

Don't give up, and save everything!

When your story is rejected (yep, when...) save that sucka for later! Collect your feedback from the rejecter, collect feedback from your friends/family, post chunks of it to your blog/facebook/twitter, find an online or RL writers group to review it at. MAKE IT BETTER! We can rebuild it, we can make it more descriptive, and engaging! Then save it for another anthology, which is why you should write a little more broad than narrow. Add the details you need to make it fit the theme rather than writing a story specifically for a theme.

Ok kiddies, I hope you liked this post. I'm going to go enjoy some vidja games on my snow day off!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review - Blackstar by Joshua Viola

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!

Not lying, I'm lazy as hell... pulled this from my review on Amazon. 4/5 Blackstars... ^_^

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.

~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS AHEAD~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS COMPLETE~~~~~~~~~~

If you're a fan of time travel cyber punks, I'd definitely recommend. Thanks again to Josh Viola for the free book, and many awesome conversations, and several connections that have done me much good on my own journey.

Life update: I've been traveling a lot recently, and I'm working on selling my house!!! So I'm sorry I've not been very active here. Review of The Stainless Steel Rat trilogy coming soon... and by soon I probably mean like 3 weeks.