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Showing posts from April, 2011

Review of "Rogue Hunter: Gaia #1: Into the Abyss" by Kevis Hendrikson

Summary:
THE HUNT BEGINS! Zyra Zanr pursues a dangerous fugitive in possession of a mysterious, but deadly weapon. Zyra must recapture this weapon before it is unleashed upon the unsuspecting people of the galaxy. Book 1 of 3.


Review:
This is a fun sci-fi story that plays out like a first-person shooter computer game.  From starting out with the unclothed hero having to "equip" to running around in a red leather ensemble to action sequences that feel slightly reminiscent of punching out button combos on your game controller... it's got all the classic elements.

The premise of this story is interesting enough to have you keep reading.  You'll find yourself wanting to discover what exactly Zyra was sent to recover.  My only issue with this story was the dialog.  While the in-between descriptions were fun and very futuristic feeling, the dialog between  the characters felt generic and present day.  With characters duking it out in a life-or-death laser gun battle, it feel…

Ch'i Lin and the Cup by Edward C. Patterson

SHE REACHED OUT and took the cup, her eyes closing, shutting the world out. She would not see the edge as it touched her lips and made bitter the sweetened rice brew that sealed this pact. Her red veil was raised, but her heart was far from the moment. As the acrid cooling brew washed bitter over her tongue, she recalled her childhood—a recollection that had ended with that brutal cup and this heartless pact.      “Ch’i-lin,” came the voice. “Are you here Ch’i-lin?”       She was here. She felt the gentle breeze of the kitchen on her cheek, although she stood in the parlor surrounded by guests. She had left her father at the door with the many gifts for Master K’ung—gifts that matched the family’s expectations. She had left her mother down the road, peering over the wall, tears of mixed-joy standing in eyes like water bags on a mule’s back, stubborn to flood her arroyo cheeks. Ch’i-lin was content behind her father’s walls, content to be just a girl, flowering and useful to mother’s cho…

Review of “Her Last Christmas” by Melonie Phillips

Summary:
Christmas is a trying time for the aged, and it is no different for Mary Beth. But this year she has a secret. A tender yuletide tale perfect for the holidays, or any other time of the year.


Review:
This is a cute little story about a bereft family of a fallen soldier and their elderly neighbor helping each other through a tough Christmas.  It contains such religious undertones as are expected in a seasonal piece but does not proselytize. It stands in serious need of copyediting. The plot twist falls a little short of O. Henry but has a pleasant aftertaste. A quick and easy read.


3/5 stars
Reviewed by Purity Jones

Time - A Love Story by David Michael

She opened the door wearing only a coy look and a towel, her hair still dripping wet.
He smiled and pulled her close to kiss her. She returned the kiss and put her arms around his neck, then squealed and pulled away from him as her towel started to fall off.
"The neighbors will see," she said. She retreated back into her apartment, holding the towel across her chest with one hand, holding it together in the back with the other.
"You're early.” She went into the bathroom, leaving the door ajar.
He followed her to the bathroom and leaned against the doorframe. She still held the towel to her chest, but the other hand was now pulling her wet hair back from her face, leaving her round bottom bare. "Not early enough," he said.
She was laughing and sexy and scandalized all at once as she turned to face him, and to put the towel between them. She shooed him away the door. "You can wait in there," she said. "I'll be ready in a few minutes."
He la…

Flash Fiction Features

Finally!  The flash fiction features will be fluttering in tomorrow.  Fast, funny or furious, we must feast upon the fiction a flock of authors have favored upon us.  Feel free to fetch wine and fawn over the works.  No one will fault you.

Author interview: R.M. Prioleau

How did you become interested in short stories?
For me, I wanted to practice writing shorter, self-contained stories, so I looked into and researched the concepts that it takes to write an effective story in so few words. I've since fallen in love with this seemingly 'new' way of thinking when it comes to writing, and I am working on producing my own collection of short stories very soon. I am currently in the process of releasing a novella in the spring 2011, and afterwards, I will look at releasing more shorter, self-contained works.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Because I'm new to the game, I can't really say that for certain at this time. I think any form of writing can be a worthwhile endeavor if it's done right. Telling a good short story can be just as powerful as telling a good novel-sized story. What I like about shorter stories is that you can produce many of them in a shorter period of time. I think if you have a …

Google Alerts: The best tool for independent authors since fresh coffee

I know I'm probably about five years behind the time here, but I just discovered Google Alerts.  Basically what it does is notify you every time a certain key word(s) occurs on the internet.  You can also specify what type of medium you would like for the key word to appear in (blogs, the news, etc...).

For independent authors, this is an invaluable tool.  It makes it really easy to find bloggers that do reviews for stories in your genre.  Not only does it save you the hassle of having to sift through thousands of search word results, but you also assured that the blogs you do contact are active.

Author interview: Brandon Woods

How did you become interested in short stories?
I became a short-story writer more or less by happenstance, which is how I would guess most people stumble into it.

To make a long story short, I spent a summer working on an oil rig, felt very isolated, and began posting on a popular internet forum to unwind. The owner of the forum took notice that people seemed to respond well to my stuff and offered me a chance to post short-stories on a website. Over time, I ended up building a small following.

Unfortunately, I found I could no longer continue at that specific venue and left. It was doubly unfortunate because almost no one who read me knew where I'd gone. I did, however, manage to retain a couple hundred core readers who wanted new stuff. So, instead of writing a novel or anything long form, I kept shoveling coal on the fire. I kept putting out new stories for the readers I had left, and expanded organically from there.

I'm proud to say I'm back up to more or less what my rea…

Review of "The Last Hero" by Ben Dobson

Summary:
The world of man has fallen. Their armies are routed, their cities razed, their holy places desecrated. The greatest heroes of mankind have been defeated, one by one, seeking the architect of this destruction. At the top of a mountain at the end of the world, one man continues their quest.

Is he the last hero of humanity?

Or is he merely the last to die?


Review:
I really enjoyed this short story.  It's a succinct, high-fantasy tale that grabs you from the very start as you follow the fate of the last hero.

Fantasy stories really should be called "tales."  They have to almost have a rhythm to them like the old epic poems told by the ancient Greeks.  It helps to capture that sense of heroes and deeds that are larger than life.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about this short story was how adeptly this author mimics that style.

Equally impressive is that the author throws you into an exciting world of sprawling high-fantasy but does it in less than 4,000 words…

Author interview: Annie Bellet

How did you become interested in short stories?
A teacher in the 4th grade got me into writing short stories.  So I guess I was an early convert to the short story form.  I love reading them and have since I was little, so I guess it is only natural that I write them, too.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Yes. Very, very worthwhile.  Short stories are tougher to write then they look, but the rewards are also better in terms of craft and experimentation.  I can take a technique or an idea and explore it in a short story while only investing a relatively (compared to a novel) small amount of time and effort.  Short stories give me room to play and try out ideas and characters that aren't right for a longer piece. 

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
Selling to magazines seems to be the best route, but I'm not sure you'd call that promotion exactly.  I think the low price (.99 cents to 1.99 each for my individual ones) is a…

Review of “The Queen of Frost and Darkness” by Christine Pope

Summary:
Galina Andreevna Godunov is in love with the dashing young Baron Karel Ivanovich Saburov, and is sure he is about to propose. However, things don't go quite as she planned when a mysterious woman enters the scene...

The opulent czarist era of 1870s Russia comes vividly to life in this short story-length re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairytale, "The Snow Queen."


Review:
“The Queen of Frost and Darkness” is an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.”  It tells the story of Galina, a debutante who hopes to receive an offer of marriage from her childhood playmate, but instead sees him fall for an enchanting stranger.

The author’s choice of upper-class, 19th-century St. Petersburg rather than a fictional place lends considerable realism to the story, and her attention to historical accuracy is exemplary. Her fluid, descriptive writing style makes for a smooth read, at first—the addition of magical elements feels choppy, and a susp…

Author interview: John Brinling

How did you become interested in short stories?
I’ve always liked short stories since I first read Poe.


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why?
I write short stories as a break from my larger works or when I feel the need to put something down on paper as a result of something I've seen or heard that affected me.


What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I've used my short stories as a means to promote my name recognition, not as an income generator. His First Kill is available free on Smashwords, and I have done well with it. I’ve recently made my two other shorts free, since I’m interested in reaching new readers more than making any money on them. The titles of these two stories is: A Whale Of A Myth and A Memorable Weekend.


Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story? Why or why not?
I think it’s fair, but there seems to be resistance to paying even a dollar for a short story, so selling them is a problem, e…

Review of "Rock" by Katrina Parker Williams

Summary:
Enslavement, murder, abuse, illness: there’s real trouble for the characters in Trouble Down South and Other Stories. The short stories take the reader on a journey to the past through a collection of interestingly crafted pieces of flawed humanness, social injustice, and redemption, and even humor.

The short story collection of historical fiction chronicles events spanning more than 150 years and addresses a wide range of experiences from African-American perspectives. The stories are set in the South amid a changing landscape in which the characters are forced to wrestle with the social issues surrounding Native Americans, slavery, racism, Prohibition, World War I, the Korean War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, health, religion, mental illness, and education.


Review:
This review is for a single story in the short story collection by Williams.  "Rock" tells the story of a colored soldier after he returns home from serving his country honorably in WWII.  This is a ver…

Author interview: David Michael

How did you become interested in short stories?
Short stories scared me when I was younger. Not the stories themselves, really. The *writing* of short stories scared me. How was I suppose to get these big ideas in my head into a little short story? I didn't know. =)

In 2006, though, I realized that if I wanted to improve as a writer, I needed a faster turnaround for feedback than I was getting from novels. My first real novel took a long time to finish, and I could see how much I had improved as a writer by comparing the last few chapters with the first few. Short stories seemed a good way to write something to completion, and then get it judged (by me, by my wife, by anyone who happened by my blog at the time).

As I wrote short story after short story that year, I fell in love with the format. I also learned a lot about writing. =) I've continued to write short stories ever since (though not at the same rate).


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
N…

"Discovery," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

"Darling, I noticed a whole squad of news vans crowded around the Smith's house down the street.  What do you think that's for, I wonder?"

"Oh!  Didn't you hear?  They discovered a lost book of the Bible in their attic."

"You don't say!"

"I know!  Isn't that just the darnedest thing?  Scholars from all over the country are being flown in to authenticate it.  That makes two this month!"

"Two?"

"Why, yes!  Just a few weeks ago the Jones' discovered the rest of Mozart's Requiem Mass in their attic."

"Good Lord!"

"Tell me about it.  Music experts supposed for hundreds of years that The Requiem was left unfinished.  It would turn up in the home of people as annoying as the Jonses'."

"Quite unfair, really."

"Collectors are already offering them a fortune for those dratted sheets of music."

"Darling.... how about we have a go 'round in our attic?  Haven…

Author interview: Nicholas Ambrose

How did you become interested in short stories?
Much as I love writing novels, short stories are always great because it gives a chance to write something smaller in scale. It's so easy to get involved in the idea of writing full-length novels, when short stories are a great art of their own, with their own styles and disciplines. If anything, they're more of a challenge than a novel, because they need to be so much more focussed and snappier - and that's a fantastic challenge to undertake.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Of course I do! It all depends on the story. Some of them need to be long, and take several hundred pages to tell. But what about the shorter ones? What's the point in massively fleshing out and padding something that works perfectly well as it is, without being really long? If a story wants to be a short story, then that's what it should be.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I'm just get…

Guest article by Jennifer Conner from e-publishing company Books to Go Now

People aren’t reading less, in fact I feel people are reading more than ever. Readers want to escape if even for a short time for romance, adventure, and thrills. What is changing is the way we are reading. The paper book will never go away, it is a part of us, but with busy lives, cumbersome books to tote around are being replaced with on the go, easy read devices such as Kindles, Nooks, IPads, and even our phones.
We are all busier than ever, and we need to fit in those precious moments to read when and where we can. With my e-pub company, Books to Go Now, we took this one step farther. We feel there is a sparked resurgence in a need for short stories. If you have fifteen minutes, then we have a story.
Such prominent authors as Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway have composed short-short fiction pieces. A need for short stories was pushed aside when television came on the entertainment scene. But now, with so many ways to read, it's back and the new ‘big’ thing.  
The …

Author interview: Isaac Sweeney

How did you become interested in short stories? In school, the assignments were always to write short stories or poetry in the creative writing classes. We also read a lot of short stories. There just isn't time to assign a whole novel in a semester. So I started writing short stories out of necessity -- it was the assignment. But I fell in love with the craft. I love reading them because I can start and finish reading a short story in one sitting. I love writing them because, as the writer, I find them challenging, intensely focused, and extremely engaging.


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why? Yes. Absolutely. I think there's art in the brevity of a short story. It's Hemingway's iceberg principle (all that stuff unrevealed that's under the surface -- the stuff you know is there and you still have to watch out for). I've said this before, but one of my favorite writing rules is by William Strunk. I'll regurgitate the whole thin…

Advertising on Goodreads

One of my very first blog posts was on paying for advertisement as an indie author.  You can read it here:  http://bookbrouhaha.blogspot.com/2011/02/paying-for-ads-bottomless-pit-of.html

I posted the blog on Goodreads and Kindleboards.  Several people made the comment that they had far more success with a Goodreads ad than with places like Facebook or Google Ads.  Success being defined as a noticeable click-to-sale ration.  They said that Goodreads has the advantage of being a reading website so your audience is already there.
Intrigued, I decided to fork over a few bucks and give Goodreads a shot.  To-date I have done two separate campaigns.  One had two stories featured with direct links to Amazon and B&N.  The other campaign just had the Goodreads link.
For both campaigns I saw no noticeable click-to-sale success rate.  Because I targeted my books to specific audiences, the clicks were very few and far between. Although I probably gained some exposure, I still stand by my original…

Daniel Boone Regional Library hosts flash fiction contest for teens

I thought this was a really cool little piece of news that I noticed the other day:  http://teens.dbrl.org/2011/04/06/flash-fiction-booklet-available/.  A local library hosted a flash fiction contest for its teens.  Flash fiction is an excellent way to get teens thinking and writing.  Some of the pieces that were submitted are quite fun to read!  I recommend taking a moment to download the PDF.

Author interview: Selene Coulter

How did you become interested in short stories? I am self-taught reader and started with a cookbook, of all things, at the age of 3. (Aside: probably the first and last time I picked one up!) I then progressed onto a steady diet of Andersen, Grimm and Greek myths. Nothing has ever captured my imagination like those tales of old, so when I started writing as an adult, I couldn't help but want to imitate that which captured my imagination as a child. 
As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why? Absolutely. As traditionally published books increase in length, so the attention span of the younger (and in some cases older) generations wane. The old cliche 'time is money' has also never been more relevant. A reader's time is incredibly precious. As a writer, I believe the only way to address the growing disinterest in reading is to find a formula where x+y=z, where x is something worthwhile to say, y is how long it takes for a writer to say it, and z i…

Author interview: Edwin Stark

How did you become interested in short stories?
I started writing short stories both as a learning experience (I'm originally a native Spanish speaker) and as a mean to pass time (I live in a tropical rainforest: plenty lonely and BORING).  I suddenly discovered I had the knack to write and I haven't stopped ever since.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Yes, it is. I love the ability to communicate something in 3000 words or less. I'm usually too elaborate in my descriptions and I find it quite challenging to limit myself to the aforementioned word limit. It's very rewarding.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
The funny stuff is that I use my short stories to hook my readers into my longer works. Whenever I sell a copy of Cuentos, my short story collection, I almost always get a follow up sale of my other books.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
The standalone short story way: I like to provi…

Author interview: Richard Daybell

How did you become interested in short stories?
I wrote short stories before undertaking a novel.  For several years, I wrote primarily short humor -- satirical pieces.  I guess they'd be considered nonfiction, but barely.  Short fiction was the next logical step, and I really enjoyed the freedom it gave me.  Because I love the Caribbean, I began using it as a setting for a lot of the stories.


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
For the pleasure, yes.  For publishing, it's certainly become tougher through the years.  I was lucky enough to sell stories to a few pretty good markets.  American Way and Hemispheres, two inflight magazines, published several.  Neither uses fiction anymore.


What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
The only promotion I've done for my short stories, beyond marketing to magazines, is for my collection, Calypso: stories of the Caribbean, featuring 15 of my stories.  


What types of short story promotion have…

"Personal Trainer," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

"My God, what happened here?" she asked as the paramedics wheeled out an unconscious patient.

"Oh, just Mr. Cartman's 11:30.  Since he's available now, would you like to start your personal training session a few minutes early?"

Author interview: Chuck Heintzelman

How did you become interested in short stories? As a reader, I fell in love with short stories as a kid.  Especially Edgar Allen Poe.  Then Lovecraft and anything bizarre and weird I could get my hands on.  I plowed through magazines like Ripley's Believe It or Not, but really I became an indiscriminant reader, consuming anything and everything.
Unlike most authors, I wasn't pounding away at a typewriter in the womb.  I didn't start writing until my mid-30's.  Wow, that's ten years ago now.  After writing several deservedly unpublishable novels I started on short stories and began having lots of fun.  My goal this year is to create 50 new short stories.  I'm currently writing my seventh and having a blast doing it.
As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why? Absolutely.  The problem many authors I've talked to have is they have too many ideas.  Writing short stories allows you to explore more ideas in a shorter amount of time.  As far a…