What a Wild Week

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darkI innocently (Okay, maybe not so innocently) wrote a blog post on Sunday fisking a two-star review for the sci-fi anthology Dark Beyond The Stars. Thew review was unfair, specifically targeting the writers of the anthology just because their organs differ from his. So…I struck back. I tried not to be mean-spirited, but things needed to be said. Things I could not ignore with a pre-teen daughter growing up in my household.

And wow…I guess this is “viral” — at least for me. In the past couple days, I’ve had WAY above average views on this blog. The authors of the anthology got behind it and it was viewed organically that way, but then yesterday I started getting massive hits from two places.

One — The Mary Sue.

logo-typeI don’t think I ever considered that I would be quoted on a Feminist website. Frankly, I just never really thought about it, but why not? (Technically a Feminist Geek Culture site). Regardless, it was a kick, reading my own words in an article condemning the DBTS review. The link back to my own blog got me some traffic, but not as much as…

Two — Reddit.

reddit-logoOh my. If you aren’t familiar with Reddit, I have two pieces of advice: wade in carefully and/or run away. Reddit can be a great place (I’ve seen the community gather together to make sure an autistic kid had a phenomenal birthday party) and as Obi-Wan Kenobi once put it about another place, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Anyway, someone linked my review on the FemmeThoughts subreddit and suddenly I started getting dozens of hits. I wandered over and found a few people discussing my attempts to eradicate “sexism with more sexism.” Well, that was NOT what I intended, so I commented in an attempt to clear things up. Suffice it to say, in a world of ambiguity, there are people on both sides of the aisle who want to deal only in absolutes.

But two other things were bigger to me than blog hits.

  • Four of the authors in DBTS reached out to me personally last night to thank me. Like I told all of them, I was sticking up for friends, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
  • But also…John Freakin’ Scalzi. The author of Old Man’s War and Redshirts among others (both would qualify as Space Opera, I believe), chimed in as a commenter under the now infamous review. (which, by the way, had about 9 comments a few days ago, then all were mysteriously deleted. Oops…now there is 68 as of this morning.) But…back to Scalzi, that means…probably…that whether he read my blog, or the Mary Sue piece, JOHN SCALZI READ MY WORDS. *faints*

scalzi

OK…gonna go recover now. If you haven’t read Dark Beyond the Stars yet…what are you waiting for????

Book Review – The Lazarus Particle

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Full-disclosure: I am a member of a writing group called LOOW (League of Original WOOLwriters or Legendary Octogenarian Orbiting Whales – whichever you prefer). Logan Thomas Snyder is also a member of this group. We both have stories in the charity anthology, WOOL Gathering. I was given a copy of The Lazarus Particle to read prior to its release, but a favorable review was not expected.
That said, this is a favorable review. Snyder has created a great book with fantastic launching-off points for future books.

 lazparAfter reading The Lazarus Particle, I needed to just sit back and take a deep breath. There is so much going on and the action so intense, it seemed at times as if I was holding my breath waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Scientists gone rogue, bounty hunters, galactic corporations, space battles — in ways reminiscent of John Scalzi, Firefly, and the era of classic sci-fi, Logan Thomas Snyder takes the reader on a wild ride with this complex and epic tale through a huge, well crafted universe.
As a kid, I was a huge Isaac Asimov fan, notably the Foundation series and the Galactic Empire the books are centered around. We’ve seen the huge space-based empire played out on a number of fronts through the years and the competition for real estate throughout the galaxy. Snyder takes this idea and expounds on it with a corporate empire dealing with corporate espionage, a very competent alien race, and action all along this wild ride. One of the great aspects of The Lazarus Particle and the universe Snyder made is that even though two creatures are the same species does not necessarily mean they have the same goals, agendas, or political ideologies. At certain points, I found myself nodding in agreement with the antagonists, only to realize they were the bad guys! What was I doing? Snyder tricked me into liking nearly all of his characters, even if they were slimeballs.
This is an amazing universe Snyder has crafted and I look forward to reading more books set in this universe and dealing with many of the same characters. Well done!


 DON’T FORGET!!

Don’t forget to read my 100th Blog Post and comment on your latest reads. You could win paperbacks of my booksDead Sleep & Dead Sight as well as my family collaboration Baking With Swords.

2013 — A Great Year to be a Reader

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What a year.

I will always remember 2013 for a number of reasons. I finally decided to write (and then publish) my first novel. In fact, since late July, I’ve published a novel, three short stories and a novella. Along the way, I’ve learned a TON about writing, publishing, and marketing…I’ve learned about myself…and I’ve become friends with loads of new people whether fellow authors or readers.

As I looked back on the year, I also realized how many books I read. Just looking through my Kindle, I realized I’d read over 50 books just through Amazon and another 10-20 in physical copy as well. True…many of the Kindle books were what we might call short stories, but I’ll call them books nonetheless. That many books was pretty amazing, especially considering the time I have to spend working on my classes for school and the time I spent writing doesn’t exactly lend itself towards reading.

With all those books, I felt compelled to write a Best of the Year List. I don’t want to rank them, necessarily, but I’ll just say these are the ones that really stuck with me. When I think back on this year, these are the books I’ll really remember reading.

dustDUST by Hugh Howey

I’ll remember this because it was the epic conclusion to Howey’s ground-breaking WOOL Saga. Not only did he finish his story, he nailed the landing. There are a lot of stories that have difficulty on the final leg, but fortunately Howey didn’t succumb to the general rule. It seemed like I waited a long time for the story, but in all actuality, Hugh puts his stories out so quickly that I read WOOL, SHIFT, and then DUST within two years’ time. The book landed on Kindle on my birthday and the best present I received was time from my family to read DUST from cover to cover that day.

lgmLITTLE GREEN MEN by Peter Cawdron

I’d heard about Cawdron through Facebook posts by Howey earlier in the year, but I hadn’t read any of his works until LGM, which came out right before Labor Day in the U.S. I had a splurge in the three days of the holiday weekend and LGM was one of the books I read. The Jason Gurley designed cover catches the eye of any reader and quickly brought me in. Cawdron dedicated the book to Philip K. DIck and you can definitely see influences of PKD as well as Asimov and Heinlein. So good, I bought it in paperback and gave it to my father for Christmas.

pa2PENNSYLVANIA 1 & 2 by Michael Bunker

Why do you torture me so, Bunker?! Okay…so I count Michael Bunker as one of my friends, but even with that admission, I’ll say that both PA1&2 blew me away. Just fantastic. That said…I’d really like to read PA3 to see how this story ends. I said how LGM reminded me of sci-fi masters…well Bunker nailed Heinlein in Pennsylvania. Bunker calls it his “Amish Sci-Fi story” and that really drew me to it. My wife doesn’t read much beyond Amish romance and I love sci-fi — something I’d threatened to write for years. Bunker beat me to it, but that’s alright. He knocked it out of the park.

the sowingTHE SOWING by K. Makansi

Who is K. Makansi? Before I read The Sowing, I assumed it was just another ambitious sci-fi author and my assumption took me towards the masculine. I was wrong. Three times. K. Makansi is a mother and two daughters who wrote the book together and boy…is it a good one. The Sowing reminded me a lot of reading The Hunger Games for the first time — discovering a diamond in the rough. Reviewers compare it to both Hunger Games and Divergent, but I thought it was better than DIvergent. In fact, I read all of the Divergent trilogy this past year as well, including the finale, Allegiant. I wrote a two-star review of Allegiant and one of my complaints was telling the story first-person, alternating the chapters between the main characters Tris and Four. Makansi was able to pull this off between a male and female protagonist and make it feel like two separate people with very opposite lives and goals. Well done — looking forward to Book 2 in 2014.

ImageSTEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson

Speaking of The Hunger Games, there have been countless stories written by Young Adult authors since Suzanne Collins’ post-apocalyptic tale came out that tried to mirror the story. Sanderson managed to make his own futuristic tale with a unique twist — what if super powers existed, but everyone who had them abided by Machiavelli’s principle that men are self-centered. Anyone in the Steelheart universe is either super-powered evil-doer or plain old human. Fascinating and riveting.

ImageTHE SCOUT by Eric Tozzi

I’d first heard about Eric through Michael Bunker and once his book was released late this year, I purchased, read, and loved. It is a great story that jumps off the page like it was designed for the screen. Tozzi tells the story of a man, faced with the personal story of his parents’ mortality, confronted with a possible alien invasion. Tozzi does phenomenal in his debut novel and I’ll be among the first to get whatever he writes next.

ImageGREATFALL by Jason Gurley

I’d read W.J. Davies’ WOOL fanfic The Runner and a few other smaller WOOL stories, but when I finally dove into Greatfall this past summer, I was stunned by how well someone could write a story set in someone else’s universe. This story probably really set me on course to write my own WOOL stories and in fact, Gurley’s work as a cover artist helped me out a ton as well. I’ve had a sneak-peak at Gurley’s book Eleanor, which he should be releasing some time in 2014 and it is already drawing comparisons to Neil Gaiman’s The House at the End of the Lane — and for good reasons.

I suppose we’ll go with those as my Top 7, but I’ll give a few others as Honorable Mentions:

Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, Ben Winters’ The Last Policemen, Hugh Howey’s Sand 1 & 2 (we’ll see how Sand plays out in 2014), Carol Davis’ Blood Moon, John Scalzi’s The Human Division (which I read in 13 installments early this year), and CyberStorm by Matthew Mather.

There were so many books I loved in 2013, but I’m betting 2014 will be even better. As always, check back here from time to time for my progress. As of late December, I’m probably 90 percent done with the rough draft of my sequel to Dead Sleep. I’ve also got a couple fantastic ideas cooking in my noggin. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!