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Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Rough Beast by Robert Fredericks (GUEST POST)

I have often thought that the idea of a super being, whether God or a super hero, never addresses the inner psyche of such a creation. We are always presented with the inexplicable power of the being and how it affects others. Or, in the darker side of illustrated super hero novels, we are deluged with psycho-babble about strain and melancholy of trying to remain super with the foibles and pressures of remaining human. And always there are super villains casting doubt on the omnipotence of the God or super being; Lex Luthor to Superman, Loki to Thor, etc. Christian theology came up with Satan which has proven to be a sticking point over the centuries. It was convenient to blame evil on Satan, but ultimately it casts doubts on the eternal goodness of the creator, thus when people question the senseless evil and harm that this world harbor, their doubts are attributed to Satan and labeled heresy.

I thought that the concept of ultimate power in the form of a caring and loving being was not simply self-corrupting but inherently psychotic. There would be no base or reference for any morality, feelings, or self-awareness. If by some quirk of the universe a human was born with god like powers he would use them ultimately to separate himself from humanity, not with monumental battles with equally god-like adversaries but with the ordinariness and tedium of existence. Any adversaries would have to be self-created leading to psychotic breaks and a loss of moral introspection.

When Yeats in his poem, ‘The Second Coming,’ warned of ‘what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born, I don’t think he thought merely of the rise of fascism or some other dictatorial ism but of the impending doom of humanity from transferring power from comfortable myths to man himself. There would be, in a sense, a mass psychosis unanswerable to any fallible human instincts.

My protagonist, Phillip, is an attempt to encapsulate the rise of a new God that that ultimately must break from humanity and itself. I have attempted to employ an ongoing stream of black humor, because Christianity is the penultimate source of the blackest humor. Just think of the Children’s Crusade, the Inquisition, Pat Robertson, etc. We revere our self-created idols but may replace them with ourselves which Phillip does with as much self-delusion as humanity in diverting internal knowledge to external ignorance.

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About the Author

Robert Fredericks grew up an army brat, and as an adult has worked over the years as a special education teacher, family therapist, and is currently a correctional educator at a maximum security prison.  He lives with his wife and daughter, both brilliant and an inspiration to him, and two dogs and four cats that provide clues to the absurdity of the universe.

Website:  www.robertfredericks.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10531875-robert-frederickson

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What Rough Beast

All it takes is a word, a whisper, a thought.

Phillip Todd is a normal army brat and baby boomer with one small exception: a super human power to control all sentient beings.  Like Superman he takes years to uncover and develop his powers, beginning at the tender age of three by coercing his neurotic mother and later advancing to psychic pranks on the Order of the Perpetually Disgruntled Nuns at his Catholic grade school. In public middle school he rids himself of a bullying juvenile delinquent with cruel zeal.

His formative adolescent years as an army dependent in post war Germany merely increases his autocratic demands for sensual experimentation and psychic domination. He uses and abuses anyone near; particularly Jill, the precociously ripe daughter of his father’s commanding Colonel and Wanda, his mother’s friend and frustrated wife of a feckless Lieutenant.  When an overweening sexual dalliance with Jill is discovered by a vicious PFC Phillip tortures and nearly kills the man. When his father’s tour in Germany is winding down Phillip, both frightened and enthralled with his power, conceives an alter ego as a means of self analysis and revelation, Dr. Fear, a fictional confidant whom he plans on turning into a future comic book icon.

However, Phillip is suddenly tormented by waking nightmares and psychotic hallucinations and he takes extreme measures to rid himself of these by eliminating Wanda’s husband and lastly Jill and her family.  However, on the return trip to the States hopeful that he has ended the psychotic breaks, he is confronted by another terrifying hallucination.

Knights of the Darkness Chronicles by D.N. Simmons (GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY)

Hello,

My name is D.N. Simmons and I’m very happy to be here with you today. I’m an Urban Fantasy author and my series is called the Knights of the Darkness Chronicles. It features vampires and shifters living openly with humans where neither side fully trusts the other.

I know what you’re thinking, what’s so different about this book that features vampires and shifters? Well, I’m here to tell you, you won’t find another book/series like it. For one thing, it’s multicultural, dark, erotic and witty. With each new book, the plots get grittier, the action gets more intense and the characters evolve as well as their relationships. Also, there's not a second where there isn't something going on.

The KOTDC is riveting, dark, sexy and bold. I really wanted to give readers something new and exciting to delve into in the urban-fantasy/paranormal romance genre. Another thing that sets this series apart is the fact that I don’t have one set main character or even two. I have several and the story is told from a broader perspective giving readers more to love and a better understanding of who these characters are from the heroes to the villains.

The bookstores are filled with series about vampires, shifters and other paranormal beings, that’s why I knew my series had to blaze a brand new avenue for fans of the genre to enjoy and from the wonderful reviews that continue to pour in, I’m happy to know that the Knights of the Darkness Chronicles is sure to entertain.

Thank you so much for this opportunity.
D.N.

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About the Author:

D. N. Simmons lives in Chicago IL., with a rambunctious German Shepherd that's too big for his own good and mischievous kitten that she affectionately calls "Itty-bitty". Her hobbies include rollerblading, billiards, bowling, reading, watching television and going to the movies.

She has been nominated at Love Romances and More, winning honorable mention for best paranormal book of 2006. She has won "Author of the Month" at Warrior of Words. She was voted "New Voice of Today" at Romance Reviews and "Rising Star" at Love Romance and More.

To learn more, and have the opportunity to speak with the author personally, please visit the official website and forum at www.dnsimmons.com   D.N. is always interesting in meeting new and wonderful people.

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/dnsimmonsKOTD

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000552496587

Blog: http://authordnsimmons.blogspot.com

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1396694.D_N_Simmons

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Desires Unleashed (Knights of the Darkness Chronicles Book One)

Desires Unleashed is the first novel in the riveting, highly-addictive and sexually charged Knights of the Darkness Chronicles. Experience the heart-pounding thrill of the chase in this electrifying page-turner as you uncover the mystery behind the series of gruesome killings that have been terrorizing the citizens of Chicago.

When a grisly decapitated corpse pops up on a Chicago Street, drained of blood, the highly-trained, government-funded special police force assigned two of their best detectives to the case. S.U.I.T. Detectives Warren Davis and Matthew Eric delve deep into their investigation to discover just who or what is leaving mutilated bodies in public places. They soon realize that the killer or killers is one step ahead of them and if they are going to stop the menace before another innocent human is viciously attack, they are going to need help.

Natasha Hemingway liked her life just the way it was... normal and supernatural free. The vampires and shape-shifters were just where she wanted them to be--far away from her. All was going well until an unfortunate accident landed her in the hospital. It was then that she discovered she had an ability that could help her save countless lives.

All of a sudden, she finds herself thrust into the dangerous and alluring world of the supernatural and into the arms of two very sexy and deadly vampires.

Original, gritty and sprinkled with just the right amount of humor and wit, the Knights of the Darkness Chronicles will suck you in and take you for a ride you won't forget. You don't want to miss out on this amazing series!


The Guilty Innocent (Knights of the Darkness Chronicles Book Two)

The Guilty Innocent is the second novel in the edgy, action-packed, sexually-charged, Knights of the Darkness Chronicles.

In this installment, Darian, the gorgeous, charismatic and charming master vampire of Chicago is framed for a crime he didn't commit, but why? His lover, Xavier, Natasha and a few others must travel halfway across the world to find out who and why before time runs out and all hell breaks loose!

Original, sexy and gritty, the Knights of the Darkness Chronicles will suck you in and take you for a ride you won't forget!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday - Necroscope: The Mobius Murders by Brian Lumley

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Necroscope: The Mobius Murders by Brian Lumley
March 31, 2013
Subterranean

Harry Keogh, aka the Necroscope, has always considered himself a master of the Mobius Continuum--a dimension existing parallel to all space and time and his personal instantaneous gateway to anywhere in the multiverse. But this is hardly overweening conceit on Harry's part, for to his knowledge he is not unique; two other intelligences, with powers similar to his, do indeed exist. One such is the long-dead August Ferdinand Mobius himself, the German astronomer, mathematician, and discoverer of the eponymous Mobius Strip which led him to explore, posthumously, his previously conjectural Continuum; and the other is Harry s son, who has not only inherited his father's mathematical skill but also the metaphysical talent by means of which the Necroscope converses with dead people in their graves!

Picture Harry's confusion, then, on returning home via the Mobius Continuum from an adventure in Las Vegas, as he witnesses however briefly a flailing figure hurtling conscious but uncontrolled through the endless midnight of the Continuum. Who could this be--how can it be?--that a helpless, silently protesting other is rushing meteor-like across the Continuum's Stygian vault? Moreover, if he hasn't arrived here voluntarily, then what vile murderer has sent his victim on this monstrous journey to the end of life itself? For Harry is sure that this is neither his son s nor Professor Mobius' doing.

Who and where is he, this Mobius murderer? It is a mystery that only the Necroscope can ever hope to solve--but at what risk to his own life?


More Necroscope? Yes, please!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Landscape of Publishing by D.A. Adams (GUEST POST)

The landscape of publishing changes daily. Some of these changes are for the better; others not so much. No one can predict with any level of certainty what it will look like next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow for that matter. One of the positive changes from my perspective is the shift away from a centralized hub in New York.

When I was starting out, the general rule of thumb was that a serious writer had to go there, at least for a little while, to build connections within the industry, to be known by the right people. Sure, it was possible to work in other regions and become known, but for the most part, we were taught that time in New York was part of the deal. In 1992, the notion of reaching a broad audience as a writer without connections in the city of cities was preposterous. Today, not only is that notion becoming obsolete, it seems ridiculous it was ever true. I’m not a bestseller by any estimation, but without setting foot in New York City, I’ve sold books in 49 states and at least seven nations. The internet has transformed the game.

Another positive shift, which comingles with the first, is the rise of small presses. Before the 1960’s, dozens of publishing houses flourished, providing authors with a myriad of options for producing their works. Then, the era of consolidation began as conglomerates bought up publisher after publisher. Today, there are six major publishers left standing. While they may have divisions and imprints, the bulk of publishing is controlled by these six companies: Random House, Penguin Putnam, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings,Time Warner, and Simon & Schuster.

For authors, this means fewer outlets for publication and an industry dominated by mega-book-deals. These houses are more likely to publish a memoir from a drug-addled, washed-up celebrity than a serious novelist because that celebrity already comes with a platform and is much more easily marketed than an unknown storyteller. As a result, the fiction market has struggled with mediocre quality for at least 20 years, maybe more. That’s not to say there aren’t good writers at the big houses. There are, but the richness of diversity that marked earlier eras of American fiction has nearly dried up and become a homogenous landscape of the same authors telling the same story over and over.

Today, the pendulum is moving the other way. While the big six still dominate overall sales, small presses are finding gems once lost in the slush piles and getting them to market. By adapting to changing technologies and utilizing more efficient distribution models, small presses have established a foothold within the industry. When I was in graduate school in the late 90’s, the words small press meant one of two things: university press or vanity press, and both were considered career suicide. There were serious stigmas attached to each. Today, those stigmas are dissolving as more and more readers discover that often the works produced by small presses are superior to that of the big six. Don’t get me wrong; vanity presses are still the scourge of the industry. However, small press no longer equates to vanity press. I predict that over the next decade, as the tidal wave of self-publishing recedes, a hundred or so small presses will remain, those that have established a solid reputation for quality over quantity and those that best create platforms within the new media for reaching their audiences.

Which brings me to what I consider the worst change in publishing over the last decade, the biggest hurdle to overcome, and the thing that frustrates me more than anything: how to get our works in front of our audiences. When I was a kid, books were sold pretty much everywhere. Drug stores had racks of paperbacks near the counter. General stores had a small section of popular works. There were book stores scattered around town owned by people who loved reading. Today, if a drug store has a book section, it’s located in the middle of the store, which may not seem like a big deal, but the shift is important.

Items around the edges and near the register are there for impulse purchases. Items in the middle are for intentional shoppers, the people who purposefully go there looking for that specific product. The structure of the system has nearly eliminated impulse purchases from publishing. I can’t tell you how many authors I discovered by accident as a kid while browsing the rack near the register waiting for the adult to pay. I can’t tell you how many authors were suggested to me by the local bookstore owner who knew my likes and dislikes. Most of the reading I did as a child and teenager had some element of impulse purchase connected to it. Those days are gone. In the remaining chain booksellers, premium space is bought by the big six to promote whatever mega-book-deal they’re pushing that month, and in my experience, the employees rarely know the customers beyond a cursory level.

About the only places left to create impulse purchases are at
festivals, conventions, and book fairs, and these require time and money on part of the author. Though often the best method for finding new readers, attendance at these events can strain our budgets. While the internet has leveled the field and provided a long reach to even someone like me living and working in rural East Tennessee, it doesn’t often lend itself to impulse purchases. For one, because of the ease of self-publishing, everybody with access to a computer seems to have a new book out now. The market is super-saturated, so readers are bombarded by a plethora of unknown names all vying for their purchase.

If you don’t believe me, go to Facebook or Google+ and create a new group for readers. Sit back and watch as dozens of authors pour in to promote. Within a week, you’ll have at least twice as many writers as readers actively posting in that group. Amazon makes recommendations of our works, but it takes years to become regularly recognized by its algorithm, unless you get lucky and suddenly “go viral.” Right now, the single biggest conundrum we all face in this new reality is how to get our works noticed, how to make a dent in people’s consciousness over the noise and confusion of big media advertising.

Despite these obstacles, today is great time to be a writer. With any great obstacle comes tremendous opportunity. Since the landscape is unknown, we have the potential to forge it into anything we want, if we are creative and innovative enough to find solutions to these hurdles. To me, the most important thing an author can do for their career during this transition is focus on the quality of their skills. Since more people are publishing, your work has to be that much better to stand out. Since so many are rushing to market, the works that have a chance to be remembered and followed are the ones that make the best impression.

For writers who want to ride the long tail, the key to sustainability will be substance over marketing, memorable works over flashy gimmicks. For the last 20 years, the opposite was true, but the pendulum is shifting back, and we are entering a new literary era. The way we can reclaim the market from the big six is to produce better books, utilize technology more efficiently, and out-hustle them on the learning curve. It’s definitely a great time to be a writer.

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About the Author

D. A. Adams is a novelist, a farmer, a professor of English, and in my estimation, a true gentleman. His breakout fantasy series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, transcends genre and illuminates the human soul in all its flashes of glory and innumerable failings.

He is active on the Con circuit and has contributed writing to literary as well as fine art publications, and maintains his active blog, "The Ramblings of D. A. Adams". He lives and works in East Tennessee, and is the proud father of two boys, Collin and Finn.

His ability as a storyteller breathes life into every character, and his craftsmanship as a writer makes these stories about relationships; human or otherwise.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authordaadams
Twitter: https://twitter.com/biggunsalex
Website/Blog: http://www.daadams.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418876.D_A_Adams

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About the Book

Between Dark and Light:
The stakes are higher than ever in the fourth installment of the popular dwarven saga!
The Great Empire has surrounded the Kiredurks and are preparing to conquer the kingdom, but unknown to them, Kwarck, the mysterious hermit of the plains, has his own plan in action. To the east, he has summoned an elven army and charged Crushaw with leading them into battle. To the south, Roskin will gather an army from the fractured Ghaldeon lands. But to the west, an ancient and powerful evil stirs.
The Great War is about to errupt, if Roskin can overcome the Dark One...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cover Reveal - Ghost Light by E.J. Stevens (GIVEAWAY)



Title: Ghost Light
Series: Ivy Granger #2
Author: E.J. Stevens
Imprint: Sacred Oaks Press
Release Date: July 9, 2013
ISBN: 9780984247592
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Tagline:  Ivy Granger, psychic detective, thought she'd seen it all...until now.

Full Description:

Ivy Granger, psychic detective, thought she'd seen it all...until now.

With a vengeful lamia that only she can see on the city streets, reports of specters walking Harborsmouth cemeteries, and an angry mob of faerie clients at her office door, it's bound to be a long night. Add in an offense against the faerie courts and a few foolish bargains and one thing is clear--Ivy Granger is in some seriously deep trouble.

Ivy Granger is back, gathering clues in the darkest shadows of downtown Harborsmouth. With the lives of multiple clients on the line, she's in a race against time. Ivy finally has a lead to the whereabouts of the one person who can help her control her wisp abilities, but will she put the needs of her clients above her own?

If Ivy doesn't find a solution soon, she could wind up a ghost herself.

GHOST LIGHT is the second novel in the bestselling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series by E.J. Stevens.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stacking The Shelves & What I'm Reading

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme being hosted by Tynga's Reviews, while Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Unabridged Chick this month (see Mailbox Monday for each month's host). Both memes are all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves - physical and virtual, borrowed and bought. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey, and it's focused on what's in your hands, as opposed to what's on your shelf.


A few new review titles added to the pile this week . . .


As for what I'm reading, I'm juggling a pair of titles at the moment:


What's topping your shelves this week?
Ian Whates Brian Braden Justyna Plichta-Jendzio Justine Saracen David Walton Lee Battersby

Friday, February 22, 2013

HUGE February Follow GIVEAWAY

Just One Week Left in the February Follow Giveaway . . . and Just 10 Followers Away From a Second Giveaway!

Like a lot of bloggers, I watch the numbers, keep an eye on the statistics, and observe the measures. I'm always looking to expand my audience, increase my traffic, and build my exposure. Part of it is pure vanity, of course (I like to know that somebody out there is watching), but a larger part of it is an honest desire to help the authors I cover reach a broader audience.

At the same time, I want to say thanks to everybody who does stop by on a regular basis, so I figure why not combine those two goals and offer up a HUGE February Follow GIVEAWAY! I've accumulated some fantastic books over the last six months, including a few ARCs, which are always an interesting addition to the bookshelves. So, as part of my giveaway, I'm offering up:

  • Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip (ARC)
  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall: A Novel by Nancy Kress
  • The Duchess of the Shallows by by Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto
  • Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane edited by Jonathan Oliver
  • The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson (ARC)
  • Faithful Shadow by Kevin J. Howard
  • Shades of Souls Passed by Teresa R. Andrews
  • Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason (ARC)
  • The Donors by Jeffrey Wilson
  • Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution edited by by Ann VanderMeer
  • A Murder of Crows by David Rotenberg (ARC)
  • Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (ARC)
  • Shadow of a Dead Star & Bone Wires by Michael Shean (e-book)


To make it fun and fair, I've decided that YOU will help determine how much I give away:

500 GFC followers - 1 winner will receive a book of his/her choice
525 GFC followers-  2 winners will each receive a book of their choice
550 GFC followers-  3 winners will each receive a book of their choice
 +
175 Facebook likes - 1 winner will  receive a book of his/her choice (maximum value $15) from Amazon.com.

The fun starts tonight and runs all month, so be sure to follow . . . tell your friends to follow . . . and keep spreading the word for more entries. On behalf of the authors who call Beauty in Ruins home from time to time, and on behalf of myself, THANK YOU.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pyramid of Skulls by Martin Fruchtman (REVIEW)

Considering we're talking about one of the most sadistic tyrants of the early 15th century, I really expected to enjoy Pyramid of Skulls: A Novel of Timur, Warrior and Emperor more than I did. It's not that it's a bad novel, I just found it hard to get involved in the story. I couldn't quite bring myself to give up on it, but it was a bit of a struggle to keep going back to it.

Martin Fruchtman has clearly done his research, and he does a superb job of conveying not just the horrors of war, but the practicalities of torture and intimidation. He paints an interesting picture of the political and religious landscape,and really develops the elements of the various cultures that come together. Timur is a difficult man to build a story around, since he's completely abhorrent and unlikable, but there is no denying he is a brilliant leader. He's not a man you enjoy reading about, and certainly not a hero to tie your hopes, but he is fascinating on an intellectual level.

It's David, Timur's Jewish doctor, who makes the story accessible, his presence an interesting narrative trick on behalf of Fruchtman, and one that allows for some thought-provoking observations on just how little we, as a society, have changed over the years. He drives the story forward, connects the various plot threads, and 'speaks' for the reader in many ways. While the book didn't entirely work for me as a novel (in terms of protagonists and villains, story arc, etc.), it certainly did work as a sort of narrative biography, which I do enjoy, but not with the all-consuming, complete immersion of an epic novel.

It's an easy story to become overwhelmed by, especially with the gratuitous gore and relentless carnage, but worth sticking with if you're at all interested in the history of warfare, conquest, empire building, and religious fanaticism. Well-written and well-researched, it's definitely worth a read for the right audience.



Published August 7th 2012 by Martin Fruchtman
Paperback, 528 pages

Everwinter by Elizabeth Baxter (REVIEW)


Can science and magic ever exist in harmony?

It was with that simple tagline, just eight simple words, that my interest in Everwinter was first kindled. It sounded like an interesting tale, and I was more than willing to give Elizabeth Baxter a chance to tell it. I had a hard time getting into it - in fact, several false starts kept it on my 'currently reading' list for far longer than I would have anticipated - but the investment of time and effort turned out to be worth it.

In terms of setting and world-building, Everwinter is glorious . . . and cold. Ral Tora is a city of science - a land of intellect, ingenuity, and invention. Chellin, on the other hand, is a city of religion - a land of faith, devotion, and following. Somewhere between the two lies the core story, part conflict and part compromise. It's not quite the adversarial confrontation of ideas that I expected, but Baxter develops it well, weaving a story that's fresh and original. I had some early concerns with Bram as a main character, but Baxter balances his scientific pragmatism with his honest optimism, lending the story a spirit of open-mindedness that's infectious.

The characters are interesting (if not spectacular), and the story's a little anachronistic in terms of dialogue, but overall the people strong enough to carry the plot. That's where the story truly shines, especially once the groundwork has been laid and the events are give free reign to race forward in the latter half of the book. It's fun, it's entertaining, and it's got more than a few surprises along the way. I would have liked some more physical detail, and I wish the opening chapters had been a bit better paced, but overall this was a fine effort that finished strong.




Published November 19th 2012 by Kindle Direct Publishing
Kindle Edition

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Swan Song of Traditional Publishing by J.E. Dugas (GUEST POST)

            It is as inevitable as the waning sun that not everyone will like or appreciate your work. If you’re an author looking to get published with a traditional publisher, you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you.
            One of the revolutions in publishing that is making life even more difficult for both the traditional writer and publisher is the indie publishing movement. Just like what the MP3 did for (or to, more correctly) the recording industry, the availability and ease of getting published on your own has never been better. I’m not one to argue, as I first ventured into self-publishing way back in 2003, tiring of rejection letter after rejection letter. It got so bad at one point that I started taping them together and using them as trashcan liners. No kidding.
            That’s not to say that every traditional publisher only picks great manuscripts, or self publishing is for the people ‘that weren’t good enough’. That’s one particular stigma of indie publishing that particularly pisses me the ‘eff’ off.
            Traditional publishing has always been about the bottom line. That bottom line is defined by how many copies the publisher can move, and not so much if the book is actually good or not. This will mean that the greater majority of great reads will not make it to a mainstream publisher. Believe me, I’ve heard every excuse. ‘You’re writing is fantastic, but it’s not for us’ or ‘you need someone to champion your work’, et cetera et cetera.  For awhile, I began to wonder why I couldn’t get picked up. I knew my stuff was good, everyone else whose opinion I respected said much the same, yet I couldn’t get a reputable agent that I respected to give it a loving ogle.
            And that’s when I figured it out, ten years ago next month (February 2013, that is). My books might be great to read, but the traditional publisher doesn’t see them moving many copies. Sorry kid, better luck next time.
            That was the kicker for me, the proverbial line in the sand. I could either bend over the barrel and write crap that would sell, or I could do it the hard way and maintain my honor. As a soul born in the wrong century, I chose the latter.
            Long story short, I’m a tenacious glutton for punishment.
            Little did I know that my snub of the traditional publishing industry would take me down the path less traveled, but it was so little traveled at the time that I would need my trusty kukri machete to accompany me on my journey.
            But, while I try to maintain composure and dignity while writing this, aided by John Lee Hooker playing in the background, the one who lasts laughs last.
            Take a look at the publishing industry today, and I’m not talking about just books.
            The power of the electronic format was rejected hard by the media moguls early on, much like the MP3, but look who’s having the last laugh now. Newspapers are collapsing like stockbrokers in 1929. Magazines with their glossy pages languish on the newsstands collecting dust. Even the once formidable Borders has gone the way of the dodo, and more are certain to follow.
            In contrast, the mighty Amazon.com company (which started life as an online bookstore coincidentally), has shares eclipsing 270 bones this morning.
            While the old fellows are playing catch up, the rest of us stubborn gluttons are riding the banished wagon to fruition.
            So the next time you get a rejection letter, frame it or burn it (or line your trash can) and take a look at the alternatives. That ‘toy’, ‘gimmick’ or ‘gadget’ known as the eBook reader that the once all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful traditional industry saw only as an electronic doorstop, is now kicking their collective butts into the pages of history.
            And the sales ledger.
And that is where my journey out of the vast wasteland of traditional publishing has led me. I look over my shoulders, smile, and see that I’m in damn fine company as I stand on the wall overlooking the crumbling empire, my triumphant rebel fist pumping the air, screaming their swan song,
Power to the people!

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About the Author

J.E. Dugas is the author of the multi-period action/adventure/science fiction series Rose Petals and Gun Powder (Rose Petals and Gun Powder, including , RPGP: Shadows of Life, RPGP: Lost Cove, RPGP: Wanderlust, and RPGP: Paradoxical, a Double Feature), as well as the new title MechaNation, a NanoPunk Thriller. J.E. is currently at work on its sequel, MechaNation: Rebirth. Prior to writing full time, J.E. spent over a decade in the private security and law enforcement fields.

Visit him at http://www.crimsonworx.com/index.html.

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MechaNation by J.E. Dugas

Shortly after the conclusion of the War of 2018, the mechanical evolution of humankind made a dramatic leap forward.

With the Human Guerilla Faction no longer a threat, a biotech company, Lazarus Nanotech Corporation, went from competing to stay in the top ten, to top contender after introducing their revolutionary NanoInjections system.

NI’s were designed to wipe the slate of traditional internal surgery, and go far beyond it. NI’s—composed of targeted nanomachines—could be preprogrammed and injected into the client to vastly transform the client’s body in any chosen manner. Weight loss, facial reconstruction, breast and genital enhancement, intelligence boosters, social elitist; whatever the client desired.

Soon, NI’s became a major vanity movement, and Lazarus Nanotech became the most valuable company in the world.

This success, of course, spawned an entirely new criminal underworld: the Nano Black Market.

Waiting On Wednesday - Beloved Gomorrah by Justine Saracen

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Beloved Gomorrah by Justine Saracen
March 19, 2013
Bold Strokes Books

What if the ancient cities synonymous with depravity were in fact a paradise of harmony? What if the “one righteous man” who escaped their annihilation was a murderous fanatic, his “angels” genocidal terrorists, his daughters the victims of incestuous rape? Justice is a long time coming, but finally the serene waters of the Red Sea give up the ancient secret of a holocaust and of a millennia-old lie. Undersea sculptor Joanna Boleyn and film actress Kaia Kapulani discover that righteousness can conceal its own depravity, that art tells more truth than scripture, and that challenging authority can be mortally dangerous.


I spotted this one on the NetGalley website last night, and it definitely caught my eye. Saracen seems to have an interesting flair for archaeology, history, and mythology, and I like the suggestion of how she's subverted the biblical tradition here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Charla by Alexander Beresford (REVIEW)


A mother. A daughter. A demon.... How Does a Hot, Sexy Mother Who Hates Her Daughter Put Her Ultimate Plan Into Action?

As you can probably guess from the cover blurb, this was one dark, twisted, seriously messed up story. Anybody expecting a happy ending is well-advised to slam the cover closed, throw the book down, and run like you have never run before. Whatever you do, don't try to interfere with mommy's deplorable schemes, and don't fool yourself into thinking you can save the sweet, beautiful Amelie . . . because you can't.

Provided you're okay with those expectations, and can deal with the unrelenting horror of a cruel, malicious, vindictive, dangerously immature mother, then settle in for a tale that's as captivating as it is creepy. Charla is a book that starts with a declaration of hatred, and then descends ever deeper into depravity. Alexander Beresford has crafted an exceptionally well put together piece of storytelling here, with an atmosphere, a sense of style, and a subverting of genre expectations that reminded me in many ways of very early Dean Koontz.

It's clear from the start that Charla is woman on the brink of oblivion. As much as she sees herself as a sexually voracious cougar, it's clear that her best days are behind her. Never mind her fading looks or her rampant alcoholism, her husband has left her for a string of other women, and her daughter is nearly old enough to make that sense of abandonment complete. She is a woman with nothing left to lose, and one whose only remaining pleasure in life is to watch other suffer. Unfortunately for Amelie, who remains blissfully unaware of the simple cruelties her mother inflicted upon her as a child, that suffering is about to become completely and utterly demonic.

For a book that's largely about a woman watching her daughter suffer - mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually - there are a lot of overlapping layers (and villains) to this story. With the possible exception of Amelie's best friend, Beresford doesn't let anybody off cleanly - her father is an admitted adulterer, her boyfriend believes sex isn't really cheating until they're married, and her doctor is a slimy as he is handsome. It's extremely chilling to watch as Charla takes advantage of the darkness inside them all, not just forgiving it, but capitalizing on it . . . embracing it . . . subverting it for her daughter's anguish.

Like a car wreck of blood, bone, and chrome, you know you should look away, but you can't stop reading.

Coming from a reader who is more apt to laugh at the religious melodrama of tales like The Exorcist than find them the slightest bit chilling, I must say the demonic element here was exceptionally well-done. Much of it is subtle and haunting, but by the time the demon comes to the forefront, betraying (and overpowering) the woman who summoned it, there is a tangible sense of dread. This is not just some invisible, malevolent spirit, speaking in tongues, this is a reach-out-and-rape-you monster of inhuman shape.

While I'm sure many readers would prefer a cleaner, happier ending, I think what Beresford did here was just about perfect. The final scene is one that will haunt your dreams for a long while after, wondering if it really means what you think it means, and if he really was that cruel.



Published April 1st 2012 by Black Bed Sheets Books
Paperback, First, 264 pages

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (REVIEW)

When I sit down to immerse myself in a book, the overall narrative style is important in drawing me into the author's world, but it's generally the sophistication of the overall plot and the strength of the characters that makes me want to stay there. As such, I don't usually wax poetic about the lyrical language of a story, the smoothly coursing flow of words, or the layered beauty of sentences and paragraphs.

Well, this is one of those exceptionally notable exceptions.

Under Heaven is, far and away, the finest work of fiction to come from the pen of Guy Gavriel Kay. It's a book that is perfect in almost every respect, so much so that I was sorry to turn that last page and lay it down, finished. It is definitely a long book, and one best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, but it could have continued on for another five or six hundred pages and I would not have voiced a word of complaint.

In terms of plotting, it's an odd tale, and one that requires a unique sort of patience on behalf of the reader. The story at the forefront of the tale initially seems a little light, given the length of the book, but the story behind that is so deep, so heavily layered, that you don't quite realize precisely how much is going on until Kay shakes us out of our complacency and thrusts us into the final part of the book. Most of the book revolves around Shen Tai, second son to a celebrated general of the imperial army, who has spent the last two years burying bones and laying souls to rest around a mountain lake to honour his father's passing. In honour of his efforts, he finds himself granted a gift of impossible value - 250 Sardian horses - that makes him a major player in the political upheaval that threatens to bring about and end to a dynasty.

Along his journey to the capital in answer to a summons from the Emperor, Tai is targeted by assassins, wooed by rebels, betrayed by his elder brother, loved by his protector, befriended by the generation's greatest poet, and drawn into a game of politics that he's never wanted to play. He is forced to rise above his station, to demand the respect accorded to his honours, and to play a shocking role in the transition of an empire. He is a remarkable character, an admirable young man to whom the reader can almost relate - if only he weren't so spectacularly worthy of the highest esteem.

What makes the story so exquisite is the fact that the characters surrounding Tai are so well developed, they they're worthy of being main characters in their own right. In fact, his sister's magical journey is a story all on its own, escalating a young woman to royalty and shipping her off to a barbarous marriage, only to see her rescued by a man more wolf than man. Wei Song, Kanlin warrior and protector to Tai, is another strong woman, one who is largely responsible for seeing him to his destiny, while Wen Jian, Precious Consort of the Emperor, is a woman as dangerous as she is beautiful, and almost dizzying in her grasp of the game of politics.

Like I said, it's a long story, told at a leisurely pace, and narrated almost exclusively in the present tense. It makes for an unusual read, almost too literate for the genre, but the reader's patience is more than amply rewarded. The subtlety of the telling is exceeded only by the intricacy of the schemes and plots, with a myriad of small events commingling to change the course of history. It's a read that leaves me almost reluctant to read River of Stars, since it's almost unimaginable that an author could manage to capture such lyrical magic twice in a row, but if anybody can do it, it's Kay.



Published April 5th 2011 by Penguin Canada
Paperback, 686 pages

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stacking The Shelves & What I'm Reading

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme being hosted by Tynga's Reviews, while Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Unabridged Chick this month (see Mailbox Monday for each month's host). Both memes are all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves - physical and virtual, borrowed and bought. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey, and it's focused on what's in your hands, as opposed to what's on your shelf.


First of all, as much as I've been trying to limit my review titles while I get caught up, there were a few since my last update that I just couldn't refuse:

            

At the same time, I finally made use of my Amazon gift certificate balance to purchase a few (cheap) titles from my want list:

            

As for what I'm reading, I'm juggling a few titles at the moment:

      

What's topping your shelves this week?
Patrick Mallory John Mulhall Wol-vriey Sean Ferrell Alexander Beresford
C.W. Lasart Christopher David Petersen David Bishoff Rhiannon Frater Tom Glover Guy Gavriel Kay Elisabeth Baxter Martin Fruchtman