Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review of "The Best of Fathers," a single story from a collection by Tony Williams

Who are the stars of these brief lives? A boy who steals a trundlewheel. An astronaut. A betrayed wife. A man jealous of his lover's chickens. Commuters. Glampers. Psychotic twins. What do they have in common? Nothing -- except the funny-haha and funny-strange conditions of their lives that bring them joy or misery and make us laugh at them and pity them and love them too. What happens when you lose both your eyes to squash accidents? When you inherit a shop full of curios? When you fall for the spirit of a famous murderer? When your son's a tramp? When the one you love is about to kill herself? Or has the Ganges delta in her bloodshot eye? When your butcher doesn't know anything about meat? Discovering the answers to these questions will knock you sideways -- and show that the more we understand about people's oddity, the more we come to appreciate their essential humanity. In these tiny stories, written over a period of a few short months, Tony Williams pushes the limits of prose fiction, homing in on the moments that sum up lifetimes and their complicated, bittersweet emotions. Each story crams a whole world into a couple of pages -- you can sneak them one at a time whenever you have a spare minute, or gobble the lot.
A phenomenal piece of flash fiction by Williams.  It's rare for an author to really grasp what it means to create flash fiction, often omitting character development or plot for the sake of a word count.

Not so with "The Best of Fathers."  It's concise yet it tells a very rich story of a con man and his spoiled daughter.  I loved the ending (though I won't spoil it).

Definitely worth picking up a copy of this collection.  Every story is less than a 1,000 words and you savor every one of them.

5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I write about what scares me. I write about what fascinates me.

One of the most interesting parts of running a review/beta service is that I get to read all sorts of stories.  Sometimes even stories that I would not have personally chosen to read but ended up enjoying nonetheless.  It really makes you think about what YOU write as an author.

I write about what scares me.  I write about what fascinates me.  And you know what?  What intrigues ME may not be interesting to everyone.  Get a room full of music nerds together talking about chord progressions and you just started the party.

Talk about chord progressions while having a beer and you just cleared out the room.

But that's ok.  I don't have to please everyone.  In the past two years I've been working on toying with that fine line between writing what makes money and writing what I enjoy.  It really shouldn't be one or the other but some combination of both.

I know that most new authors are always looking for that magic golden ticket that will allow them to rise to the top of the heap.  Like if they could just pick the genre to write in right before it becomes SUPER popular they could make it.

I mean, yeah, genre certainly helps.  But it's not the only answer.  You have to be able to write that genre and write it well if you want it to sell.  With popularity comes more competition.

So write what you enjoy.  Try new genres, test trends.  But realize that a successful story really comes from the perfect combination of style, interest and readers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review of "Quantum Fashionistas: A Multiverse Tale," short story by Libby Cone

The Cloud is dead. It's the age of quantum computing. Join insurance actuary Sharon Feldstein and her sidekick, Shabbetai Zvi, as they travel the multiverse to change the history of footwear.

I read this story.  And I have no idea what just happened.  By the end I got the gist of things.  There was a 40s-something woman who works with time travelers (some company named Earwig?).  Something about shoes too (changing who invented flats?).

Cone does get points for her idea.  Like I could see where she was trying to draw out humorous elements.  The delivery, however, needs quite a bit of work.  Character after random character just gets thrown at the reader with no logical plot progression whatsoever.  Nothing was developed and there was zero character personality.  Granted, it is a short story.  But I still need to know enough to care about the fate of the characters.

Definitely needs some work.  But with some polishing I could see Cone having a cute series on her hands.

2/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez  

Buy this story on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Concept Behind "Exchange: The Uxel Herum Saga" by Alain Gomez

This particular story takes place two years after the last.  I considered spending some time delving into Uxel's training on Kortholt (might make some short stories on the blog about it later).  The thing was that I really wanted these books to be more about her developing and maturing.  So book 3 starts with her already more confident.  She may have stuff to learn still but she also has a few tricks up her sleeve.  This has really unleashed her need for recognition and power.  

One of the most interesting things about learning is that it's not always just a steady climb upward.  Sometimes we can plateau or even get worse and something before we get better.  In Uxel's case, she is certainly changing but she's not quite sure if it's for the better just yet.   

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blogging vs. Storytelling

I've been blogging for a few years now.  Almost as long as I've been self-publishing.  I started blogging not really sure what I was getting into.  But I stuck with it.  I've now been around long enough to see plenty of new bloggers come and go.

Blogging takes time.  And if you're a writer it takes time away from when you could be working on a story.  But I don't necessarily feel like it's wasted time.  For me, blogging is a way to get back in touch with reality.  To actually "think" about what I'm saying rather than rambling about in the bowels of some science fiction adventure.

Most importantly, blogging helps me to figure out my storytelling voice.  This is a concept I've really been thinking about lately.  Good writing is not just about having an interesting plot.  It's about making that plot come across in a memorable way.  It's your writing "speaking" voice.  Blogs are fantastic for exploring this.  You're at liberty to spew just about anything on a page and no one gives you guff about your plot or story pacing.

If I look back at some of my old Brouhaha posts the subtle changes that have been taking place over the course of many years becomes obvious.  Yes, it's still essentially me.  But I feel like my personality is now coming across more clearly.  It's not perfect.  I've got a long way to go.  Better get writing?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lit Bits Rebrand


The Other Publishing Company rebrand short story imprint from Lit Bits to Cracked Eye, after further angel investment funding. 

After securing further investment from angel investors, and as part of their mission to bring the best short stories from new and established authors to keen readers around the world, The Other Publishing Company are rebranding their short story imprint from Lits Bits to Cracked Eye, focusing on new ways their content can be accessed.

London, 3rd March, 2014: 2013 was a great year for Lit Bits. They launched the imprint and have quickly established themselves as a force within the wonderful world of short stories. They’ve been featured widely online, run the hugely successful Lit Bits Weekend Challenge and continue to commission stories from bestselling established authors and exciting emerging talent.

Their stories are read by keen readers around the world but in 2014 they’re setting the bar higher.

This year they’re on a mission to become the leaders in short-form fiction. They’ve successfully secured more funding from angel investors to push on and create something exceptional. To do this they’re investing in commissioning more short stories, producing audio and visual versions of those short stories, novel serialisations, a new website, and finding inventive ways for people to access their content.

Because of their focus on short fiction, in whatever form that may take, they felt the name Lit Bits restricted them. They have grand plans for the imprint and needed something fresher, something that could come to stand for inventive ways of storytelling. Lit Bits has gone through a stage of metamorphosis, and has been reborn into something bigger, bolder, and more beautiful. From now on they’ll be known as Cracked Eye – nothing will ever look the same again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review of "The Handler," short story by Susan Kaye Quinn

It's time for Julian Navarro to fulfill the mission left to him by his dead parents: to spark a revolution that would allow mindjackers to live freely in a mindreading world. While his ability allows him to mentally control the instincts of others, Julian wants to win jackers to his cause with words, not weapons. But when his first recruit has a secret--and bloody--history, Julian has to decide how far he'll go to ensure his revolution isn't snuffed out before it begins.

While Quinn is a solid and engaging writer I found it difficult getting into this story.  It's a spin-off novella for what appears to be a series of novels.  This particular story occurs in the middle of the series and it's painfully obvious for the reader trying to enjoy it as a standalone (which was me).  I felt like I had been chucked into the middle of a conversation full of inside jokes.  By the end I was able to sort some things out but the minimal action never really grabbed me.  I had no idea what the mindjackers were nor did I know what their cause was.

So as a standalone plot, this story was weak.  As a part of a greater whole I could definitely see the appeal.  The concept was interesting enough to leave me frustrated that I wasn't told more.  How did the mindreaders take over the world, for example?

Worth looking into if you start at the beginning of the series.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.