Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review of "Idea Man," a single story in a collection by Carole Fowkes

Two short stories straight from a writer's nightmares and two scrumptious, original recipes.

In Out of Character, a novelist who prides herself on creating realistic characters, is writing a gritty murder mystery. Unfortunately, her story takes a more personal turn when her villain is bent on making her his next victim.

To what lengths would a highly successful novelist go to overcome her writer’s block?

In Idea Man, Lucinda’s muse materializes in his thong bathing suit and offers her a story she can’t refuse.

An amusing story about an author that has finally hit the end of her rope but help arrives just in the nick of time.  Despite the somewhat unconventional appearance of Lucinda's muse, what else is a writer to do but go along for the ride?

I found myself enjoying this story quite a bit.  Fowkes has a charming style of writing that may not make you laugh out loud but will definitely keep you smiling throughout.  I found myself getting really involved with this story as I read it, eagerly wanting to find out how the story would end (in every sense).

While the conclusion of "Idea Man" was not exactly disappointing, I found myself being highly annoyed by Lucinda's character by the end.  A muse appears before her and forces her to write a novel that is not "her genre."  She pitches a fit the entire time and, essentially, remains unchanged by the whole experience.  She's still just as close-minded at the end.  If she can't see the series potential that the muse left her with, it's certainly no coincidence then that she has writer's block.

So, as an author, I was annoyed.  As a reader, I must admit I was entertained.  Fowkes certainly has her work cut out for herself by creating a target audience of both short story readers and writers.  But I would venture to say that this story has wider appeal than that.  If you've ever suffered from writer's block (even if it was just that school essay), you'll find yourself appreciating "Idea Man."

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon or B&N.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

KDP Select and Short Stories?

KDP Select hasn't been treatin' me well.  I've tried to make the relationship work!  Every time we break up I think maybe I could have done something different.... maybe we should try again....

But no.

I just can't seem to get any short stories to catch on with KDP Select.  I've tried:


-Various genres

-Altering the level of promotion I do on free days

-When I do free days

There's more.  I've even tried putting stories on there that sell regularly.  They continue to sell regularly without any noticeable difference in sales numbers.  But I've yet to have a single copy borrowed.  Which means the only pro is five free days.

Is this worth it?

Ehhhhhhh...... I'm thinking not.  iTunes, Sony and Kobo are turning into three of my main sources for sales.  Frankly, that's worth way more to me than five freebie days.  If someone is shopping online, comes across one of my stories and then is intrigued enough to buy it, that ONE sale is worth so much more than 1,000 free downloads.

A story downloaded on a free download day has a very good chance of remaining unread.  I know this because I've done it myself.  Many times.  You click on it because it's free.

A story that is purchased has a higher likelihood of being read.  It's something you were interested enough in to pay money for.  Also, if you like it enough, there's a good chance you will buy other works by that same author.

One paying customer is worth any number of free downloads.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review of "Albert Got Shot," short story by Barbara House

Albert's an aging rock star who escapes the big city to kick back on a lake in the wilderness . . . no manager, no groupies, no tour bus . . . when out of the blue a hunter blasts the living chopsticks out of his shoulder. Instead of finding himself in a nice cushy ambulance, Albert wakes up in a remote cabin with the man who shot him. The shooter guards the lake, standing by it into the late hours of the night, staring at a strange a light in the depths that only he can see.

Another excellent story by House.  This author continues to display her clear strength in creating deep, interesting characters with surprisingly few words.  We barely have a chance to meet Albert before he is thrown into his hair-raising adventure but immediately there is sympathy for him as a character.

I really enjoyed "Albert."  If you actually take it at face value it's a science fiction horror story.  But it's written with such whimsy that you find yourself laughing at parts.  Perhaps this is further proof that I have a completely twisted sense of humor.

The action is fast-paced and fun and the dialog was entertaining.  Having spent my fair share of time in the Midwest, I could totally picture the trigger-happy ex-soldier shooting at everything that moves. 

Definitely worth picking up a copy.  This is not your average scifi.

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dear Readers of Earth,

Books are a product.  Yes, they may transport you to other worlds and absorb your time for hours but they are a product nonetheless.

This means that someone created this product, packaged it and then put it up for sale for your buying pleasure.  While the seller's job is to sell, he or she is also obligated to inform the general public what kind of product is being sold.  That is the seller's legal and moral responsibility.  

But this is a two way street!

It is the buyer's job to be educated in order to make informed purchases.  If the seller says their cereal is 100% sugar, it is the buyer's job to do a few minutes of research to find out if eating all-sugar cereal for breakfast every morning is a good health choice.  It would be foolish to rely on the seller for the total picture.  Sure, that cereal could be part of a complete breakfast.  But which part?  Dessert?

Therefore, if ebooks are something that interest you as a buyer, you must take a few minutes to research the lingo.  Don't rely on Amazon or B&N or iTunes to tell you how many pages are in that book.

Why bother?

Printing is not a standardized entity.  It's never been standardized.  Page sizes, font sizes, pictures... they all affect what type of a product you are buying.  The only reason why this is now an issue is because we can no longer pick up an ebook to flip through.

Which means some research is in order.  You must change since the medium you're purchasing has changed.  Become educated!  Is the file size of the ebook listed?  How big is the typical ebook file? Do pictures affect file size? How many pages are listed?  Is a word count given?  How many words are typically on a page?

If you don't know the answer to any of those questions, you need to do some research.  Look this up!  Find out the answers.  Otherwise it is your fault if you purchased an ebook with all of that information listed and it wasn't what you expected.  The seller has given you the industry's measuring tools and now you must use them.