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Showing posts from 2014

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

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If you find out about this story through this post, mention it in an email and the first five people will receive a complementary copy from an e-store of their choice.
This is the fifth book and conclusion to this particular Uxel story arc.  It's funny because as I wrote my way through the series I was dead set on five books.  I planned for five, I mapped out five and that was going to be it.  Other series would involve other characters.
But by the end of this book I realized that Uxel's story had only really begun.  I had told the story of how she becomes a full-fledged tuner but that's only the beginning of her career.  She has a long way to go.
So my plan is to do at least another five book series set several years after Awakening.  The adventure continues!

Author Interview: Justin Bog

First, tell us a little about your writing journey.

Hello, nice to be here. Thank you for allowing me the space for an interview. My own writing journey began shortly after learning how to write in grade school and watching a lot of 70s television and reading comic books. I created my own SNL skits, fake news, adventures, after discovering an old typewriter of my mother's. From there I studied creative writing as an undergrad and then received an MFA in Fiction from Bowling Green State University. This gave me time to write, and that is key. When working full or part time at a job that pays the bills, writing is given short shrift, but I always tried to make time for it. Usually this meant a lot of 6am wake-up calls before heading to open a bookstore. I worked in three bookstores over the past 30 years, all independent, and becoming an author has always been in my dreams. I believe working behind the scenes of the book business has helped form a stronger mindset going into the bus…

Review of "An Artist's Story," a single story in a collection by Dorothy Johnston

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Summary: "The stories in Eight Pieces on Prostitution span the whole of my writing life and include my first published story, 'The Man Who Liked to Come with the News', which Frank Moorhouse chose for his 1983 anthology, 'The State of the Art'. My first novel, 'Tunnel Vision', is set in a Melbourne massage parlour, and I have continued to return to the theme of prostitution in my novels and short stories, notably in 'The House at Number 10' and in this collection. 'Where the Ladders Start' is a long story, almost a novella, based around a suspicious death. Many of the stories are set in Canberra, Australia's national capital, where I lived for thirty years before returning to Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula.
The cover design is based on a painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo called 'Two Women at a Window', which is held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Though the women in the painting are probably prostitutes, …

Kindle Unlimited Follow-Up

It has now been a few months since the launch of KU.  It has been good and bad for me so far.  The good part has still been a pick up in borrows for books that hadn't received any attention in years.

The bad... has been wonky sales for just about everything else.  Things that were selling consistently are no longer doing so.  And the rate of borrows seems to fluctuate from month to month.  It's enough of a change in numbers to really make me consider if I want a particular title to be exclusive or not.

So I've pulled a number of titles out of KU.  The trickle of borrows wasn't compensating for the exclusivity to Amazon.  But I have still left all of the works under one pen name entirely under the KU umbrella.  For some reason the combination of borrowing and genre works for that pen name.

I have to say, the jury is still out for me on the practicality of KU.  The dust is starting to settle and I'm not sure if short stories are going to come out on top.

Four to Score

I have now been published for four years.

Sweet Alaskan asparagus tips!  That's, like, how long I was in college.

Did I think I would make it this far?  Who knows.  But if there was a theme to this past year I would say that it was proving to myself I'm in it for the long haul.

When I first started this whole self-publishing thing I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  To be honest, I thought I could just throw the stories I had already written onto the Internet and make money off them.  That, as it turns out, is not how this business works.  Making money off of your writing requires time, effort and patience.

I feel that I do deserve a pat on the back because I did stick with it even after the harsh reality started to sink in.  After all, blogs are really about giving oneself pats on the back.

So here I am... four years later.  I wouldn't say that I've struck it rich yet.  But I am making a very small but steady side income.  That's something, I suppose.…

Considering a Publisher Name

I've been considering a publisher name.  As in, instead of not listing any publisher at all I have fictitious name listed.

I realize that most people don't even think to look at a publisher name.  But it seems like an easy way to organize my books.  I also think it looks a little more professional should someone actually scroll down to look...?

I'm worried, however, that I am just creating pointless work for myself that will just cut into my writing time.  Establishing a separate publisher name would mean hours of redoing copyright pages and republishing stories.  Will this affect sales at all?  Probably not.

Review of "My Card," a short story by Matthew Allred

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Summary: A bizarre relationship between two young men proves more dangerous and bloody than anyone would have guessed. From the outside looking in, Christopher Card and Stephan Maccabee are close friends--always at each other's sides--but the truth is much more brutal and horrifying.

Review: A simply enthralling short story.  The focus centers around a (schizophrenic?) high school boy's inner struggle with himself.  
This story was the perfect balance of "psychology" and "horror" without becoming overly gruesome.  To me the brilliance of this story was in how the reader's perception of the characters change.  It starts out like they're normal friends.  Then you wonder if there's something else going on between them.  Then the horror of what they're about to do really hits.  I actually felt nervous for the victim!
This is an excellent piece of horror fiction and well with picking up a copy.  
4.5/5 stars Reviewed by Alain Gomez
Buy this story on

Tortured by Novels

I am a short story writer.  The thing is that if you are not a short story writer this is a difficult concept to understand.  The only thing I can equate it to is music.  You find the instrument that you consider to be your voice.  I can play both the violin and viola very well but I consider myself to be a violist.  It's my instrument.  It's me.

The same goes for short stories.  The precise, compact writing style is my voice.  It's me.  Even before I started writing my brain would constantly think of new ways to streamline the story I was reading.  And now that I've been writing for a few years the problem is even more pronounced.  It's aggravating for me to read long, drawn out sections in a novel that serve no purpose whatsoever.

Is it really necessary for the heroine to be looping around in her head why she can't be with the hero a FOURTH time?  We know their issues.  Address the issues.  Maybe readdress the issues to remind the reader.  And then move on!

A soapbox rant on KU royalties and short stories

Ok I've seen some discussion lately about the issue of short stories and KU. Lots of talk on whether or not the 10% marker is fair because it takes way less effort for the reader hit the 10% mark in a short story than it does in a novel.

Now I'm not trying to bash anyone. And I'm not trying to point fingers or accuse people of being right or wrong. Because you know what? It'snot fair that someone can just go through the title page and be 10% into a short story.

But you know what's also not fair? I have to pay the same amount for cover art no matter how long or short my novelette is.

You know what's also not fair? I get one-star reviews solely because a story did not exceed X number of words (not even a mention about the actual content).

You know what's even less unfair? Short stories are really hard to sell. For every 100 people that read novels maybe one likes the occasional short story. And an even smaller percentage of that one actually goes out an…

Review of "Lilies," a single story in a collection by Torrance Calder

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Summary: Three stories all focusing on relationships and loss in different stages of life:

A Broken Camera
The most horrible events in our lives stick in our minds like images in a camera. But, what happens when the camera breaks?

Lilies
Do flowers respond to our feelings?

The Waterfall
Why is his father's nose crooked?

Review: I hate to say it but there really wasn't much to this story.  Two people go out on a date and they didn't suit.  With no conflict, no character progression and no real sense of any emotions the end result was, unfortunately, boring.  
The story came to its conclusion with the main character realizing that the flowers her date gave her wilted.  Was this supposed to be symbolic of something?  There was so much opportunity for plot subtleties that were missed out on.  
2/5 stars Reviewed by Alain Gomez
Buy this collection on Amazon.

Looking Good with Kindle Unlimited

I realize it's still early days.  Kindle Unlimited is still smells fresh and everyone is in that lovely honeymoon period called "the free trial."  But so far I've been liking what I'm seeing.

Let me first say: I hated Select.  I tried it several times.  No luck.  Not a single borrow.  Maybe it was because Prime members didn't utilize the service.  Maybe they couldn't figure out how to borrow books.  I have no idea.  But it was so not worth being exclusive to Amazon.

But I'm always one for experimentation.  As a controlled test, I added a few titles that have been getting zero attention.  Like, not one sale since their publication on any channel and they've been on sale for several months.  These titles comprised of multiple pen names across multiple genres.  My logic being that I had nothing to lose and if I got any sort of sales it would be obvious as to who gets the credit.

Since adding the titles I've definitely seen an uptick in attention …

Review of "Infinity," a single story in a collection by Carla Golian

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Summary:
Journey through the Magical and Enchanting world of "Dreams of Love." 19 Poems dispersed throughout, act as interludes and are complimentary to 13 short stories; Tales of love, passion, romance and erotica. It reads like a novel.

This book is not for the fainthearted.

Review:
Infinity is the story of a chance (fated?) encounter between two authors.  It's a classic love-at-first-sight tale.  The story is sweet and the writing style is easy to get into which makes for a promising start.

I liked everything about this story except for the end.  It kept going when it should have stopped.  Part of the charm of short form fiction is that it's a snapshot.  It doesn't have to go into a happily ever after or all the nitty gritty relationship details.  It just is.

Still, it's an enjoyable read and the collection has bits of poetry interspersed which makes for a nice variety.  Perfect for a summer afternoon of light reading.

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy t…

A Snippet on Short Fiction Money Making

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I was lurking about the KBoards Writer's Cafe (which is an awesome place) and came across possibly one of the most inspiring things I've ever read about the business of short fiction.

The forum thread was discussing Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited program and people got to discussing how whether or not this could lead to a flood of short stories and, basically, put an end to novel-length works.

Short story author EelKat (yes, that's the name she writes under if you're curious) gives this epic reply:

But there are already 5 shorts for every 1 novel in Select, and there has been right since Select began. Predictions like this occurred when Select/Prime/KOLL first rolled out and that was what 3 years ago?

Amazon has no need to change the prices and you want to know why? Because for every 10,000 novels sold only 10 short stories sell. Do you realize I'm listed by critics as one of the world's top selling Short Story writers and I'm lucky if one of my titles se…

Kindle Unlimited and Subscription Book Reading

Amazon is like Disneyland.  It just does everything bigger and better.  Other groups try to do parades.  Disneyland does parades better.

So the latest change to the book industry is an increase in subscription based book reading.  In other words, books are following the Netflix/Hulu model.  You pay a flat monthly rate to read any of the books available in the site's electronic library.

In response to a few of the book subscription places that have been popping up such as Scribd, Amazon has started a new program called Kindle Unlimited.  And, like Disneyland, they just do everything better.  They already have a huge library of books and now they are giving authors a legitimate reason to be exclusive to Amazon.

Frankly, I think this is awesome.  In my opinion, this is the future of ebooks.  This will completely eliminate the debate as to wether or not ebooks should cost the same as hard copies.  And it is also HUGE for short story writers.  We will no longer have to rationalize ev…

The Definition of Success

Let's start with the literal.  According to Merriam-Webster "success" is:

the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or famethe correct or desired result of an attemptsomeone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds I often wonder about success when it comes to my writing.  At what point am I supposed to consider myself a successful writer?  According to definition option number one I still have a ways to go having none of those three listed things.
But according to definition option number two I may stand a chance.  "The correct or desired result of an attempt" kind of gives me a lot of leeway, doesn't it?  
I suppose I would have to be able to define what it was that I set out to do.  In this way, my teaching the violin is much easier to define.  I wanted to be a successful teacher.  A full studio of students that are able to play said instrument makes my personal validation easy.  But writing...?
To be honest, I'm not s…

Review of "Tuning In," short story by Jayne Fordham

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Summary: Canan Jones turns twenty-five and wants nothing more than to bury his painful past and enjoy his birthday celebrations. But when Canan receives an intimidating phone call from a man who knows his secret demanding he work for an underground government agency in Sydney, Canan fears his skill will be exploited. Canan has the ability to tune into the emotions of other people and his skill increases in strength daily.

Initially refusing to accept the job offer, Canan realises it may be the only chance he has to obtain answers to his past. To what lengths will Canan go to to piece together the fragments of his traumatic childhood?

Tuning In can be read as a standalone short story or as a precursor to Intuition (Book One of the Elite Series).

Review: This story introduced an interesting concept but failed to deliver.  It reads like a prologue to a larger work more than a standalone story.  There's a cast of characters introduced, a problem presented and then... the end.
It'…

I Would Give Myself 4/5 Stars

One thing that amuses me is how incensed artists (writers included) get over their art.  Trust me, I do it too.  I'm no saint.  Art is a highly personal thing.  The term "brain child" very aptly summarizes the situation.  So it's only natural that we become defensive when our creativity is questioned.

The thing is, our creativity is never the thing in question.  And that's something that took me a long time to really process.  The sheer fact that I'm even trying to create something makes me creative.  So when I receive a critique of my work the feedback is not about my viewpoint.  It's about how well I conveyed that viewpoint.

To put it another way, say I were a sculptor trying to make an elephant out of clay and it turns out looking like a blob.  I show it to someone and that person says it looks nothing like an elephant.  The issue is not about my mental vision.  It's my job as the sculptor to acquire the necessary skills with the medium to convey w…

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

A special thanks to Keith Darrell for inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Be sure to check out his blog at: http://www.keithbdarrell.com/

On to the questions!
What am I working on?

Currently I'm working on wrapping up a young adult science fiction series.  Books 1-4 are out.  Number 5 is in the works!

The series is called the Uxel Herum Saga and it's a coming of age story that takes place in a science fiction universe I created called Muzik Chronicles.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I would say the main thing that makes the series stand out is the path to power my main character takes.  I'm a music teacher and a martial arts nerd.  I combined those two things and created "The Tuning System."  People who practice it learn to control their own natural vibrations and use it as a way of affecting their surroundings.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I love it.

Pretty simple.  But it's true.  The scifi that I write appeals to an extreme…

Website Addiction Problems

It's not what you think.  I'm not addicted to websites.  I'm addicted to designing them.

I go through strange phases where I won't touch a website at all.  Years could go by.  And then I'll find a new website design program or a blog host will offer a new set of templates and then... Pandora's box.  It's simply no longer enough to have one website looking nice for one business.  Suddenly life would be drastically improved if they all were looking nice.

There's probably some sort of psychological analysis you could do here about latent control issues.  Especially considering that time and effort may be put into a site that gets zero traffic anyway... yikes.

But since I like to put a positive spin on things I will say that this has made me fairly internet savvy.  A good trait to have if one happens to be pursuing a career as an independently published author.  It's not a bad addiction to have.  I probably should just not stay up until 3am feeding it..…

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

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So I'm going to try something new with these "concept" blog posts.  If you find out about the story through this post, mention it in an email and the first five people will receive a complementary copy from an e-store of their choice.

Anyway... the adventure continues with Uxel!  Uxel continues to realize her true character in being captured by the Imperium and forced to design a set of special tuned ships.  The task is way beyond her but her but in doing so she learns what she truly values.

Originally I planned on this story arc spanning five books and it still will be.  But I've really be liking how Uxel's character is developing.  So I'm thinking of continuing her "saga" by later making another five book story arc that takes place several years after this one.

Fiction Arcade

My name is Alan Shelton, and I am a newly minted publisher of online short stories. I hang my hat at a website called Fiction Arcade (www.fictionarcade.com), and - thanks to the kind indulgence of Alain - I'd like to make a shameless-but-brief plug for it.

Fiction Arcade is YouTube crossed with iTunes, but for the short story. We provide a convenient platform where anyone can upload their work for free (a la YouTube), and we allow them to sell it for less than a dollar (a la iTunes). These two elements didn't mesh well in the days before omnipresent social media and online micropayments, but now they work like gangbusters for video and music sites. So why not short fiction?

Fiction Arcade is based on two premises: 1) that traditional publishers don't price short stories correctly and 2) that great stories get recognized and rewarded through a positive word-of-mouth feedback cycle.

Regarding the first premise, even other online publishers typically won't go below 99 cents.…

Review of "Counterpoint," a single story in a collection by Elizabeth Morris

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Summary: Fiction seeks the truth. What underlies conflict? What values can we relate to and what are the risks? And how, really, does the world work? Short fiction does the same, with closely-observed details, effortless dialogue, and familiarity

It’s the little things that make a short story into a big story. It’s the details and the intimacy. It’s the skillful knowing of the characters: their courage, obstinacy, fears, and resilience. In these stories we meet Josephine in Pal Jo and Linda in It’s a Long Time Pull, both holding to optimism like drowning sailors to flotsam. Amory, the man being robbed in an elevator in To Sketch a Thief is surprisingly and enchantingly thrilled by the encounter. The three bad boys in Lights Out are frightened into goodness by the 1965 Northeast Blackout, and Hank, the bicyclist in Down, Down, Down, Into the Valley of the Snake is startled by loneliness into clinging to his marriage.

Elizabeth Morris’s characters are sometimes racist or lonely or fat o…

What Type of Reader Are You Trying To Appeal To?

The tricky thing about writing shorter works is there is much less time to make an overall good impression.  A novel's plot is an intricate weave of multiple plots, characters and themes.

In other words, lots of time to create a favorable impression.  It's not quite so vitally important for the reader to like every character.  So long as they like enough of what is going on, it's a satisfying reading experience.

What one person finds "satisfying"may be unsatisfying for another.  Therefore, a short story writer must be extremely clear about what type of reader the story is trying to appeal to.  If it's horror, the focus should be building that fear.  If it's science fiction, the focus should be on world-building.

Instant draw.  Instant connection.


Review of "Adrift," short story by Edward Lange

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Summary: After narrowly escaping a deadly plane crash, David King now finds himself stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With no way to call for help, David's only hope is to brave the elements and somehow find land. But what David doesn't know is that he is at the mercy of the mysterious forces that lurk beneath the waves.
Thoughts: Everything about this story is simple.  Don't get me wrong, simple can be good.  I like a good action movie with a straightforward plot.  Or a romance with a predictable ending.  There's comfort in that.
This story was just a little too simple.  It's a classic man vs. nature tale.  However this type of motif is metaphorical for man vs. himself.  "Adrift" had none of that.  Our main character, David, lacks a discernible personality which makes the action feel stagnated.  I never felt connected to his plight and I didn't care one way or the other if he survived.
With some polish the concept could have been quite int…

Business as Usual

I ordered business cards today.  For my pen names.

In the grand scheme of things, ordering business cards is not that big of a deal.  I'll be honest, I found some cute designs and I couldn't help myself (I dig office supplies).  But it occurred to me after I ordered them that I took yet another step to making this writing gig a business and not just a hobby.

I already took the big jump about two years ago when I started keeping track of my writing expenses and monitoring the income.  That made the writing real for me.  But it takes two to tango in the publishing world.  It's not just about what's real for me, it's about what's real for the readers.  If I continue to exist like some sort of sketchy black-market shadow business I am limiting my opportunities for finding potential new clients.

When people ask about violin teaching I whip those cards out so fast it almost results in near-fatal paper cuts for all involved parties.  But writing?  "Yeah... I wri…

Readers Changing

Compared to some veterans, I haven't been in the publishing industry all that long.  Three years and change is nothing compared to those with battle scars from editors that have long since healed.  But compared to the vast majority of those testing the self-publishing waters, I've been around forever.  I've seen at least different generations of would-be writers come and go on the various writing forums I frequent.

Self-publishing is no walk in the park.  It's more than just the satisfaction of seeing your brain child for sale.  It takes determination and infinite amounts of patience.  It also takes a degree of humility to realize that maybe yours isn't the only story for sale nor the only story worth reading.

One really interesting aspect of self-publishing that I've watched change is readers.  E-books are literally changing the way readers read and by this I do not just mean the physical entity in their hands.  Digitalization has allowed the shopping experien…

Review of "Leaves of Departure," short story by Tony Acree

Review:
A sweet albeit abbreviated piece by Acree.  Since a summary is not available I'll provide a brief one: an old man must come to terms with the anger he feels about his wife dying before him.

Acree does an excellent job with imagery which is really the draw for this story.  The smell of the leaves being raked, the old man's mental state, etc.  However, the pacing of this story is just a little too fast.  Instead of delving into the old man's life and letting it unfold naturally, everything is summarized in just a few paragraphs.

I feel like this rapid-fire approach to plot points somewhat lessens the impact of the old man's emotional journey.  It still had a nice bittersweet flavor at the end but I couldn't shake the feeling that it could have been more.

Still, Acree's style of writing is enjoyable.  Definitely worth checking out more by this author.

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Find out more about this author on his website.

A Way of Life

I've been a musician nearly all of my life.  I started playing the violin right before I turned four.  I can't even remember a time I didn't play the violin.  It's a deeply ingrained part of my life and something that contributed to my choice to study music in college.  When I arrived at that crucial life crossroad I realized that if I didn't choose to study music, I would probably stop playing forever (or at least make it hard to take up).  I chose to keep going.

I've never regretted my choice.  To this day I find music fascinating and by studying it in college it landed me in a career that I thoroughly enjoy.  Teaching the violin is something I feel like I was meant to do and I realize how rare that is when it comes to jobs.  Most people are not that lucky.

But as much as I connect with teaching, I realize more and more than I've never connected with a musician's calling.  I've never been a good practicer.  In college people would camp out in a pr…

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

Summary:
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 push…

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

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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 th…

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

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Summary:
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.

Review:
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 han…

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

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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.

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 libert…

Lit Bits Rebrand

PRESS RELEASE
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 lea…

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

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Summary:
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.

Review:
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 …

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

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The adventure continues with Uxel's second book!  I'll be honest: this series has my inner geek feeling all warm and fuzzy.  I focused more on the world-building elements of Muzik Chronicles with this installment.  This is something I've toyed around with on the blog but I've yet to really flesh out and put into use until now.
Book 2 continues Uxel's training as a tuner which has been a ton of fun to write.  I had to really mentally explore what a tuner was and how she could use these powers in a "real world" application.  Like it's one thing to say that you're a wizard but the coolness factor really all boils down to the nuts and bolts of a wizard fight scene.  How do tuners do battle?
Well, Uxel has to figure out the answer to that question as well....

Review of "Strange Soul Mates," short story by C.L. Gordon

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Summary:   Steven has some serious trust issues and has done some serious drinking at the bar. 
Emily, his girlfriend, has unknown whereabouts and won’t respond to any of Steven’s alcohol-fueled and accusatory texts.

George Packard, an ex-government engineer and fellow bar patron, claims to have the solution: a machine that promises to link the couple in a permanent, unconventional way.

Steven isn’t sure that Emily will agree to his selfish designs. Though, if they truly are soul mates, Steven’s sure he’s allowed to take some liberties ...

Review: **Warning: May contain spoilers** An engaging story that gets to the point just a little too late and then ends just a little too soon.  The writing style does pull you in, however.  Gordon has a fun way of making her characters endearing.
As the summary suggests, a mad scientist offers a heartbroken man an unconventional solution to his problem.  The thing is that the solution has been "done" before.  Sharing a brain with someone i…

Chicken or the Egg?

I know there's really no straight answer to this. I'm just thinking out loud.

So aside from blogging and announcing new releases on FB, I did absolutely no (ZERO) promotion for my work in 2013. No blog interviews, no chatting with people on Twitter... nothing.

It's now 2014 and I'm thinking maybe I could up things a little more. So I've gotten more into scheduling FB and Twitter posts. Nothing spammy and no life-improving quotes. It's still "me" just scheduled out instead of blasting all my random thoughts into Internet space all at once. I figure it takes minimal effort and it couldn't hurt. No one wants to like a FB page that has absolutely no content on it. I mean, I wouldn't so why would others?

So my question is whether or not it's worth it to go beyond this level of effort? My books sales are slooooooooowly increasing due to most of my energy being put into writing. So I figure it makes sense that I should put off more social …

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

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For a couple of years now I've been writing stories for a serial-style blog called Muzik Chronicles.  It's nerdy and my mother comprises 30% of my audience but I enjoy writing it.  It's a nice change of pace and it gives me a chance to world build in a way a story won't allow.  All this world building has finally led to me branching out into longer story ideas.  "Longer" meaning it's a novelette and not a 200 word blog post.

And so... I give you Uxel Herum!

I've invented a system of powers called the Tuning System.  The Tuning System is to Muzik Chronicles as the force is to Star Wars.  Tuning powers are kind of a combination of music, acoustics and martial arts.  It's pretty cool, if I do say so myself.  Uxel is a tuner in training.  This five book series will follow her as she goes from an overlooked fruit merchant to a hardcore chick.

Review of "Flowers," a short story by Darnell Dickerson

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Summary: George and Chloe are High School sweethearts nearing the end of their senior year with a serious problem. The adorable, inseparable couple that everyone sees smiling and holding hands is a fa├žade. Behind George’s doting ways and charming smile lies a jealousy and paranoia so deep it drives him into a blind rage that is best kept under wraps. When Chloe announces she is moving to California for college George unravels and there is no stopping the rampaging, possessive beast that lives within causing him to do terrible, terrible things. Will George be able to take control of this inner monster before it destroys everything good in his life or will he be a slave to it just as his father was?

This is a story of young love and fear, affection and abuse, sunflowers and suspicion, innocence and blood.

Review: A modern spin on "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall."  While engaging enough, the story lacks the psychotic depth necessary to give the ending some punch.  It's a l…

Finding My Writing "Voice"

I've been struggling (good struggling) a lot with my writing "voice" of late.  It's such a crucial element to a good story and yet it's not something you think about right away when you first dabble in writing.

I've been reading a book that was recommended to me called Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight.  He talks about how there are several stages of development for a writer.  The first stage is always very conceptual.  An author thinks of interesting concepts and little else.  Like a really good opening line or scene with no plans for how it could actually unfold into a fully developed plot.

I think if I had read that when I first started publishing my stories I would have totally denied it.  My stories were perfect back then.  Any reviews that said otherwise was an affront on my genius.

I think if I had read that by my second year of writing/publishing I would have acknowledged the truth of it and been embarrassed.  Like I should remove all of my books…

Review of "Jibrayil and the Prophet," short story by Dennis B. Boyer

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Summary: He had long suspected that he was being plagued by demons.

So begins the tale of the man from Mecca, a man unsure of his place in the world. Cast off by family and shunned by members of his own tribe, he longs to find meaning in his tortured existence.

But his grip on reality has been slipping away. The man who has been appearing to him, the one who calls himself Jibrayil, claims to be an angel of God. But this being could just as easily be a demon of Hell. Or even a hallucination created by his own fevered mind. Even more perplexing is Jibrayil’s assertion that he is destined to be the highest prophet of God.

Review: A compelling but simplistically told story of faith.  Faith, much like politics, has a lot of facets.  It's a hairy combination of culture, experiences, education and personality.  Which is really why I think it's so interesting for people to study.  As much as we would all love to have ONE answer to everything it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to dis…

Promotion Ponderings

So as this I get this new year going I find myself yet again pondering promotional pursuits.  I admit, I've kind of been off the social media bandwagon for about a year.  It just sucks so much of your time away it wasn't worth it to me.

I was losing writing time due to time spent on social media.

So, I stopped.  I kept blogging (obviously) but other than making new release announcements I did nothing on Facebook or Twitter (my medias of choice).

For the most part I feel like this was a good life decision.  When I first started I desperately tried to push books thinking that every new follower was a potential sale.  It was kind of a harsh wake up when I realized that every other author I was following was doing the same thing.

The end result was a year of forcing myself into a writing schedule.  Which worked out really well.  I'm now at the point where I'm writing 800+ words every day.  I wasn't doing that a year ago so I'm pretty proud of myself.

My only teeny …

Review of "Interview with an Android," short story by R.A. Hobbs

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Summary: Popular and irreverent talk-radio show host, Chip Gregory interviews his latest controversial public figure – an android named Paul, who claims to believe in God. While on the airwaves of his volatile and popular call-in talk radio show, Chip finds his audience just as explosive as its subject matter.
Review: A truly thought-provoking and interesting piece by R.A. Hobbs.  There's very little description.  As the summary suggests, it's an interview.  But this is one of the reasons why I like short stories.  A story can be a simple conversation and that's it.
I was a little skeptical about the story at first.  It started out with lines that reminded me of every android I've seen on TV ever.  But as things settled in the story began to have a life of its own.  Less "I Robot" as it where.
The radio show format was perfect.  The questions raised were answered just enough to make you think and not feel like you're reading a sermon.  I was surprised how …