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Showing posts from October, 2011

Review of "A Fitting Tribute," a single short story from a collection by Andrea Janes

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Summary:
Boroughs of the Dead is a collection of ten short horror stories set in and around New York City.

Beneath its modern facade, New York City teems with dark secrets, faded spirits, and unnameable horrors. Boroughs of the Dead weaves fact and myth, fiction and legend to tell ten of the most terrifying tales of the haunted metropolis.

A medical doctor abandons all rationality when he falls in love with the spirit of a murdered woman. The nightmares of an adolescent boy come to life and stalk him to the deadly, polluted waters of Newtown Creek. A cholera demon wipes out the thieves and murderers of the Five Points.

From ghost stories to zombie narratives to weird tales, Boroughs of the Dead contains evils as diverse as Gotham itself.

Review:
For me, one of the most interesting things about short stories is how they don't always clearly fall under the predefined genres.  When you see a fantasy novel you can make some pretty safe guesses about what kind of entertainment it will d…

Interview with Author Cora Buhlert

First, tell us a little about your writing journey. Would you consider yourself to be a "short story author" rather than a "novelist"?
Both actually - and an occasional poet, too.

I started writing short stories after a few abortive attempts at novels and plays in my teens. However, while all my pals at the university creative writing workshop were writing flash fiction pieces whittled down to the absolute minimum, my stories tended to run several pages. The professor never quite knew what to do with me, especially since I insisted on writing genre, too.

Eventually I gravitated towards novelettes and novellas, which - as you know – are next to impossible to sell. Though I still wrote short stories, too, because I had started to sell them. Then I started and finished a novel, took a break from fiction writing to finish my MA degree and started another novel afterwards. However, I found that I missed the change of pace and quicker gratification offered by short stor…

Different Motives for Reading

Writing and (hopefully) selling short stories has really made me think about why people read.  As unrealistic as it seems, every author, I think, secretly hopes to create that ONE book that is universally loved and immortalized by literary history.  Most of us are practical enough to realize that will never happen.  Even JK Rowling has haters.

Subject material is definitely something that affects how readers will perceive your work.  If a reader doesn't like fantasy, there's not much you can do about that.  But a lesser thought of concept is why people read.  This actually varies almost as much as subject material.

Some people read almost exclusively to inform themselves.  They love non-fiction.  The idea of reading about dragons or lasers seems like a silly waste of time.  Some people only read entertain themselves.  They want a really shallow book that doesn't take very much thought juice to figure out.

This are extreme examples and most of us tend to vary in what we fe…

Review of "Three Avenues of Escape," a short story by Elmore Hammes

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Summary: A short story about a young man's utilization of several items left to him by his older brother as a means to escape his father's bigotry.

Review: This story was quite good and surprisingly deep.  Though it is the story of an abusive home, this is a tale of resiliency rather than pity.  I liked that.  I liked that it didn't try and wring sobs out of me.  In many ways, it made the protagonist that much more real.
Hammes appears to be quite adept at spartan description.  Nothing is delved into about the scenery and yet you can feel like you're sitting in the room watching Jeff figure out ways to evade his father.  The subtle shift in Jeff's character at the end is just so simple and yet at the same time speaks volumes for both his present and future circumstances.
I would definitely recommend giving "Three Avenues of Escape" a shot even if you feel like the subject material might not be of interest.  A story well told is always worth reading.
4/5 sta…

Congratulations, Amazon. You've reinvented the magazine.

For those that do not know, Amazon has been managing to sell lower priced Kindles by giving readers the "special offers" edition.  Also known as ads.  So a Kindle that is normally $109 can be purchased for the low price of $79 if you're ok with having advertisements as your screen saver.

How generous of Amazon.  How generous of those advertisers to help make up the difference! As if.  I highly suspect that Amazon probably doubles what they make on each Kindle when they add those special offers.  Between production costs and the advertisers, they are making a killing.

What cracks me up is how a lot of people seem to be in awe over how business savvy Amazon is.  Like putting ads in things to lower cost is a new idea or something.  Come on, guys! They basically just reinvented the magazine.  I actually had a post a while back about the magazine vs. the short story.

The primary source of income for magazines is not the well thought out articles and it's not the subscript…

Free Story of the Week

I found a cool new site from a Google ad.  It's official: Google, Netflix and Amazon now know my interests better than my own mother.  Scary.
Anyway, the site is a project of a non-profit publisher called The Library of America.  You give them your email (yes, just your email... no extra billing information) and every Monday they send you a free story.  
The "story" they send could be a short story, poem, essay, etc.  I haven't been subscribed very long but it seems like most of the stuff they send are from authors that are now dead (as opposed to contemporary). The selections are never very long and it's kind of a fun way to expand your reading.
Click here to go to their sign up page.

iBooks vs. B&N

It seems that Amazon is becoming increasingly dominant in this ebook market.  They have stayed competitive in both product and price.  But what really has managed to make them kind of the lions is their online shopping experience.  They were already designed to make money online.  It's easy to find things and the reviewing community there is awesome.  500 reviews on a product totally makes up for not being able to see the thing for yourself.

For awhile, B&N was keeping up nicely.  I actually still think that Nooks look better than Kindles.  They feel more high quality and the ebook actually looks like a book rather than a data pad.  What's killing B&N in this race is their inability to streamline the online shopping experience.  I know I'm not alone here when I say that I actually go to Amazon to shop and then if I find a book I'll go and buy it for my Nook.

I just do not understand why B&N has been slacking off in this area.  For the past eight months they…

Review of "Love, Everlasting," a short story by Maria Violante

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Summary: When Cole Harper wakes up in a cabin, gun in hand, he moves quickly to dispose of his girlfriend's body in the woods. Too bad she has other plans.

Review: "Love, Everlasting" was twisted, creepy, mysterious... I liked it.  I feel I should clarify that this story is about a cocaine addict.  Normally druggie stories are not really up my ally.  More often than not I find myself losing interest as the story unfolds in a tedious manner with the protagonist trying to find more drugs.  But this was definitely not the case with Violante's short story.  I was actually irked when I had to pause reading it (something came up) because I wanted to find out what happens in the end.
Violante has a wonderful style of writing.  She obviously "gets" how to create mood with minimalist description.  Her story is face-paced but still feels like a complete experience at the same time.   I was a little worried while reading that it was going to have a cliche Hollywood-esq…

Review of "Hard Creek Bridge," a short story by Issac Sweeney

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Summary: Friendless and shy, Slim Jackson enters his second semester at Abe Lincoln University. He gets lost on an unknown path, comes to a strange bridge, and has the struggle of his lifetime.

Review: An interesting short story with more depth than the summary gives it credit for.  Oozing in symbolism, this is a tale of change and maturity.  Slim Jackson must decide how to approach this "life bridge."
Sweeney's story is a quick, pleasant read.  I feel that his style is geared toward "literary" rather than "entertainment."  I would say that Sweeney seems to be done an injustice in the ebook format.  If this story were bought as an instant gratification purchase, it would be easy to completely dismiss "Hard Creek Bridge."  
On the surface it's overly simple.  The reader has to want to put some effort into figuring out what Sweeney was driving at.  With this in mind, I almost wish I had been given this story to read in a reader's magaz…

The Future of Short Stories

Ok, if Joe Konrath can dish out all these "predictions" about the future of publishing, so can I.  But, of course, it wouldn't be a Book Brouhaha post if I didn't put a short story spin on it.

I admit that I like short stories and that I write them.  But I am going to try and be as impartial about this as I can.  I think I can safely say that my prediction attempt will be somewhat credible.  Those that know me well can tell you that I am extremely analytical.  This strong streak of logic in my brain makes me alarmingly good at simulator-style computer games and Monopoly.  People always try to beat me at that game.  And I laugh at their puny attempts.

Short stories are always going to sell differently than novels.  That's just the nature of the beast.  Someone who writes a single novel could reasonably expect 100 different people to buy it.  It's a lot like a movie.  Movie makers are banking on the fact that there are only so many movies out at one time and pe…

September 2011 Short Story Sales Stats

The numbers are definitely doing well for September. Here are my numbers for all works under 10,000 words and their collections:

Amazon (US/UK/DE):          # of works:  16          # of sales:  33
B&N         # of works:  16         # of sales:  2
I've actually had a few sales from Apple as well.  It's hard to keep track of my progress there because I publish through Smashwords and they update their sales reports roughly the same speed as evolution.  But I digress.  Most of my Apple sales have been for my two western novellas.  But in July I did sell one copy of an under 10k story.

I continued to have "Celebrity Space" set at free for the month of September.  The number of free downloads I have on a daily basis on Amazon has remained steady.  So that's promising.  When I first set the story for free there was a huge spike the first week or so and then it started to taper off.  I was worried that eventually the free downloads would stop altogether but that do…

Review of "A Smile of Fortune," a short story by Adam Kisiel

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Summary: A story of minstrels, mages, murderers and debt collectors!

Carefree bard Crispin coming back home from his parsimonious uncle's funeral does not expect that soon he will be mixed up in a murky intrigue involving magic, fear and a dwarf working as a debt-collector.

First book of the "Bard Crispin stories" series - a full of adventure, humour and mystery classic fantasy story.

Review: This story was scattered.  It begins with a promising start by presenting a protagonist in the form of Crispin the Bard.  There is an engaging opening scene that involves Crispin meeting a halfling named Bibble.  This was pretty much the only part of the story that was really clear to me.  
Crispin and Bibble travel to a city together and the story takes off... in every direction.  Bibble is arrested and then we never hear from him again.  Apparently they weren't the BFFs the author lead us to believe?  New characters start to be introduced with reckless abandon.  Every other par…

One Year Published Anniversary

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To help illustrate what's I've gone though is this past year of e-publishing, I thought some handy charts and numbers might be in order.  Last October I self-published my first ebook.  At the time I thought I had a handle on things.  Sure there might be a few new things to learn but that would be easy enough to figure out by myself.  Which led to a learning curve line that looked roughly like this:



The straight black vertical line being me.  There was no learning curve or slope.  It just went from negative knowing anything to realizing that there's a heckofalot left to learn.  I like to think that right now I'm right about at the 0.  0 can hold its own.
So yes, it was a major wake up call once I realized that I would actually have to do work to sell the two coverless stories I had just posted online.  They weren't just going to sell themselves.  And yes, my first two stories were coverless for about a month.  I didn't know how to make covers and I thought I wou…