Meet The Immortals — D. Robert Pease

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It’s Launch Week!

The Immortality Chronicles officially launches this Friday. As of this writing, four reviews are up on Amazon. All are five stars and are raving about the stories in the latest Future Chronicles anthology. One of those stories is D. Robert Pease’s The Scout. Pease can craft a story and does so here with beings out of place…and out of time. They are given immortality, but is it worth it? Can there possibly be a difference between humanity and the rest of life around the universe? There is a lot going on in this story with philosophical questions, and action that will thrill most readers.

An interview with Pease follows, but we’ve already heard from most of the other Immortal authors, including Patricia Gilliam, John Gregory Hancock, Drew Avera, Gareth Foy, D.K. Cassidy, Thomas Robins, E.E. Giorgi, Harlow C. Fallon & David BrunsThe Immortality Chronicles is just $2.99 for Kindle through the launch date. 

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nWho are you?

My name is D. Robert Pease. I write science fiction and fantasy for kids through adults. My Middle Grade series, Noah Zarc, has won numerous awards, and readers from all over the world. I also have the first book in a YA urban fantasy series called Dream Warriors, A Joey Cola Novel. Finally, I’ve published an epic fantasy called Shadow Swarm. If you like sci-fi or fantasy, one of these books might be right up your alley.

I live in the gray-skied world of Northeast Ohio and am married with two amazing kids, a dog, a cat, and a pond full of fish. All of whom are smarter than I.

Why are you writing for The Immortality Chronicles?

Writing can be a tedious, lonely experience. Spending months, even years sitting alone in front of a computer writing the next great American novel can drive anyone crazy (by that I mean writing something that kind of, sort of, doesn’t suck.)  So when I have the chance, I love to sit down and, in just a few days, crank out a story with a complete beginning, middle, and end. When I saw that Samuel Peralta was looking for authors for his latest anthology, I jumped at the chance and submitted my name into the hat. I’m excited about this fabulous group of authors, and love the camaraderie of working and promoting together. I’ll enjoy the few days out in the sun, but soon enough I’ll retreat into my quiet little world to bang away on the keys, seeking that next story which will hopefully be better than the last.

received_10153003353805458What did you write for The Immortality Chronicles?

An ancient alien race, whose whole civilization is built on conquest of other worlds, has taken an interest in Earth.  “The Scout” follows one such alien as he works to prepare Earth for invasion. It’s his job to make humans immortal, so they’d be worthy of conquest, but his deepest desire for himself is to die.

How can we find out more about you and your writing?

There are a number of places you can follow my writing journey:

Website: www.drobertpease.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drobertpease

Twitter: www.twitter.com/drobertpease

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/drobertpease

What’s next for you?

I am currently working on the first book in a planned trilogy called Enslaved, Exodus Chronicles, Book 1. This is set in the same universe as my story in The Immortality Chronicles. It’s part alien invasion/first contact, part space opera, and part hard science fiction.

Anything else we need to know about you and your story?

As always seems to happen, I just set out to write a fun story with maybe a little meaning and end it there, but I really enjoyed the tone of the character, and the questions that were left unanswered. So I have this strong urge to go back and see what happens to this guy after the closing words of this story. Maybe after I finish the first three books in the Exodus Chronicles, I’ll have to go back and revisit him… or, who knows, maybe he’ll make an appearance before that.

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Meet The Immortals — Thomas Robins

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Out of all the authors featured in The Immortality Chronicles, I’ve known Thomas Robins the longest. Him and I go back to the first months of each of our publishing careers when we were both firmly entrenched in writing WOOL fanfic. I consider Thomas to be a great friend and I’ve always been a fan of his work. I can wholeheartedly recommend his novel Desperate to Escape and I get a kick whenever I see something new from him in my inbox.

Thomas’ approach to immortality is a bit different than the other writers in this collection as he details below. I hope you read and enjoy his story as much as I did when I first read it.

Before you settle in for a brief interview with Thomas, here are the links to the previous Immortal interviews:

Patricia Gilliam / John Gregory Hancock / Drew Avera / Gareth Foy / D.K. Cassidy

…and here is Thomas Robins:

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nWho are you?

My name is Thomas Robins and I am an author every Wednesday night between the hours of 6 pm and 10 pm. My office is a Starbucks and my drink of choice is hot green tea. The rest of the week, I am a father, husband, coach, and I am gainfully employed at a public school. My best ideas for stories come when I am mowing the lawn and if I can remember them until Wednesday, you get to read them, too. I am desperately dependent on word-of-mouth to get people to read my books because, come Wednesday night, I have to decide between promoting and writing, and I almost always choose writing.

Why are you writing for The Immortality Chronicles?

This will be my third story appearing in a book where proceeds go to charity. It’s a great feeling to know my creative ventures are helping raise funds for worthy causes. Plus, the Future Chronicles series is the premiere place for indie and established authors to find themselves these days. All of them are amazing and I have been itching to be in one for a while. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be in a Future Chronicles book by the end of the year and, come September 4th, that resolution comes true. Might be my first completed resolution…ever.

What did you write for The Immortality Chronicles?

Eternity Today. I’m going to say something your not going to like and I want you to promise you won’t stop reading once I tell you. Promise? Eh? Ok, good. This is a time loop story. It is, I can’t call it anything else. Now, let me tell you why it’s OK. In most time loop stories, a few characters know what’s going on and everyone else is oblivious (like Bill Murray was the only person aware  in Groundhog Day). However, in Eternity Today, everyone on Earth knows what is happening. The theme I’m exploring is how society would evolve, or devolve, given an unlimited amount of time: if everyone were suddenly made immortal.

4405421How can we find out more about you and your writing?

Here’s the pitch, are you ready? I’ll wait…I have a blog, but the updates are hit and miss. I have an amazon page, but it feels cluttered. What I really want you to do is sign up for my newsletter. It’s usually about four months between newsletters, but it’s the best way to know when something new is coming out. I also offer a limited number of signed paperbacks at rock bottom prices when I send out the newsletter. Click here and make my day.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been invited to be in the upcoming Shapeshifter Chronicles. Plus, I have a couple personal projects I’ve been working on. If you want to keep up, then…you guessed it…sign up for the newsletter.

Anything else we need to know about you and your story?

You’ve read a lot about me, I want to make it about you for a moment. If you are thinking about writing, go for it. Even if you never publish, get your stories out of your head and on paper (or computer). Share them if you can. A few years ago I would never have believed I’d be writing for something as great as Immortality Chronicles, but here I am. If you have a drive inside you, follow it. All you need is some time every Wednesday night between 6 pm and 10 pm.

Preorder The Immortality Chronicles

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I would like to take a brief moment here in the middle of Future Chronicles Week to officially announce the preorder for the next Chronicles title — The Immortality Chronicles.

From the official Amazon page:

What if you could live forever? Defy death itself? Even now, scientific advances in regenerative medicine, life extension, cryonics, cybernetics, and in other areas have brought humans to the brink of solving life’s final conundrum.

In this volume of the acclaimed ‘Future Chronicles’ anthology series, twelve authors imagine that uninterrupted journey, confronting not just how, but what it means when human life can continue indefinitely, invulnerable, immortal.

“The Immortality Chronicles” features stories by award-winning scientist and author E.E. Giorgi (Chimeras), Amazon bestselling author Will Swardstrom (Contact Window) and ten more of today’s most visionary authors in science and speculative fiction.

I am lucky enough to have a story in this collection and I’m thrilled to have it out to you guys in less than a month. But beyond my own story, there are some fantastic yarns sprinkled throughout this one. I’ve read stories by most of my fellow authors in this anthology and there is a lot to look forward to. While E.E. Giorgi and Thomas Robins join me as veterans of Chronicles anthologies, there are some great new voices ready for the limelight: Drew Avera, David Bruns, Harlow C. Fallon, Gareth Foy, Patricia Gilliam, John Gregory Hancock, D.K. Cassidy, Paul Kohler, and D. Robert Pease.

So many new authors, yet the backbone of the Chronicles is intact with Samuel Peralta curating and producing this volume with Carol Davis handling the editing duties. Perhaps the biggest difference between Immortality and the rest of the other Chronicles titles to this point is the beneficiary: First Book. This will be the first (but not last) Chronicles title to benefit a charity. And what better charity than First Book, which literally puts books in the hands of disadvantaged children across the U.S. and Canada. To find out more about First Book, visit them —> HERE.

SO….not only will you get another anthology jam-packed with sci-fi and speculative tales, but you’ll also be helping the children who need books the most to gain greater access to reading.

I hope to feature some of the other authors in the next few weeks, leading up to the Sept. 4 launch day for The Immortality Chronicles, but for now, let’s talk about my story.

So what’s my story? Here, for the first time, is the official synopsis of THE CONTROL.

A moment exists for everyone—a moment between disaster and victory. It was there, in that moment, where I lived. Always waiting. Always letting my fate be determined by others. Always hovering between a rousing triumph and a crushing catastrophe. I was that moment. But my moment was not to be under my control.

My name is Bek and I am immortal.

Yeah, I know. A little vague. Suffice it to say, it spans the entirety of civilization featuring Egyptian mythology and aliens. If that sounds up your alley, go preorder your copy today!

Oh…and if you didn’t already, go to Susan Kaye Quinn’s site for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite preloaded with all the Chronicles titles thus far. CLICK HERE for the giveaway page. (GIVEAWAY now closed. Thanks to all who entered!)

Book Review – Where Dragons Lie

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41MGayjgjJLThomas Robins made his first foray into Fantasy with his story Where Dragons Lie and the effort totally works on many levels. The tale is a simple, yet complicated character piece, using a common aspect of Fantasy stories — dragons — to push the narrative, ultimately leading to a climactic showdown between the protagonist and the dragon he hunted for nearly the entire book.

Told from a first-person perspective, Robins nails the unfamiliar tone, showcasing his imagination in a new genre. The story description is very simple, but yet the execution leaves the reader impressed with the results. At the beginning of the tale (or is it tail?), our protagonist recalls a moment very early in his life when a dragon visited his small, lonely town. One man came and promised to defeat the dragon in exchange for the fairest girl in town. He comes back bearing the dragon’s horn, a sign of the victory.

As times goes by, that victor claims his spoils, but stays in the village, choosing to use and abuse his privileges of besting the dragon on that night so very long ago. His daughter becomes the new prize to be won — but only by someone brave enough to conquer a dragon of their own. That’s what sends our hero out on his quest — a desire to win her hand, and a journey to find and slay a dragon.

In the end, Robins delivers a fantastic story, with enough fantasy and intrigue to pull the reader along. I quite enjoyed the story and think Robins could do quite well writing in this genre again.

Note: Where Dragons Lie is up for Preorder on Kindle and when purchased will be downloaded on your device on Feb. 27. I was given the opportunity to read an Advanced Reader Copy. 

My Top 10 (actually 18) Books of 2014

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It’s December, so that can only mean one thing – end of the year Top 10 lists! I did my favorite reads of 2013 last year, so now this can be a yearly thing. Just like last year, most of the books I read over the last 365 days or so were independently-published. Just like last year, I really believe we are in the midst of a publishing renaissance thanks to the new digital publishing tools at our disposal.

Personally, I did manage to get my second novel published, but everything else I published ended up being short stories (a couple will even be showing up in the first couple weeks of 2015). Due a lot of family situations, including a major addition to my family in August, writing just wasn’t as much of a priority during a few stretches. I can say I was able to get about 1/3 of Dead Search written and will endeavor to write the rest by spring. The year 2015 will be a great year and I encourage you to check back on this blog for future updates.

Anyway, back to the list. There are more than 10. Yep—a top ten list with more than 10. Deal with it. I took all my honorable mentions and just included them as well. Also, these are books I got a kick out of reading. Me. So if you don’t agree, I understand, but this is my list.

I don’t want to rank them, even though it will certainly come across that way, just due to seeing them in an order. So, the order will be assigned in alphabetical fashion, with one exception. The top spot belongs to one book that I know I will be reading over and over again. That book is:

The Martian by Andy Weir

martianHands down, The Martian was the best book I read in 2014. I read it in February and also listened to it as an audiobook this summer. Even after that, I still long to re-read it with fresh eyes. That’s the notes I was getting from friends when I first started reading it. From my Amazon review:

“I can honestly say I understand and I will have those jealousy pangs when I recommend it to a friend. The last book I honestly felt like that with was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. My brother was reading it for the first time a few weeks ago and I felt that. Like I wished I could go back in time, read it for the first time without spoilers and experience all those feelings I did for the very first time. This book was fantastic.”

From there, I will put the rest of my 2014 favorites in author reverse-alphabetical order (cuz those at the end of the alphabet get screwed. Jennifer Wells knows what I’m talking about), starting with:

Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

fluencyI kept getting recommendations from Amazon and other places to buy and read this book. Finally I ran out of excuses a couple of months ago and I am glad I gave in. Fluency is a terrific tale of first contact with an alien race. Told from the perspective of a non-astronaut, Dr. Jane Holloway, a linguist, who is along on the trip to hopefully help find an “Alien Rosetta Stone,” of a sort. Instead, Holloway herself ends up being the Rosetta Stone and we see what happens in deep space when you begin to question all you know, your own sanity, and even your crewmates. Fluency is well done and I am intrigued by what Wells will offer us next.

 

The Violet Series by Logan Thomas Snyder

BV-Full-Cover-e1408487510867Three parts into a multi-part story and I’m fully engrossed. Logan Thomas Snyder has given us three tales so far—Becoming Violet, Being Violet, and Breaking Violet, and each have given us a great story with artificial intelligence as a fascinating backdrop. Here’s a part of my review of Becoming: “At first, I thought it was a typical “Bicentennial Man,” Isaac Asimov robot story with a man dissatisfied with his robot. Snyder, however, took the story in a new direction, giving the reader an introspective, yet action-filled tale of love in the face of trials. What does it mean to love? Does it have to be between two humans or can it be more than that?”
I know Snyder has a few more parts up his sleeve, but I also suspect that the farther he goes, the more the story will continue to grow and thrive. If you haven’t checked these stories out, they are just 99 cents a pop and are a great, easy read.

 

Zero Echo Shadow Prime by Peter Samet

ZESP_cover650Perhaps the most “holy cow, what did I just read” book I laid my eyes on this past year. I had heard some early buzz about this book and the cover was certainly an eye catcher. Frankly, this book did not catch on for some reason, but it still deserves an audience. From my Amazon review:

“So you might be asking – what is this book about? Zero Echo Shadow Prime is a novel about one character…or is it four…or a billion? My head is frankly still spinning a little…
But even apart from all the action, this book really offers some intriguing questions. What exactly is a human? Is it just flesh and bone or is there something more? If a person was able to move their consciousness to a computer, is there a spark of humanity there?”

Desperate to Escape by Thomas Robins

d2e fullThere are a number of authors on this list that I can claim a friendship with, and Thomas Robins is one of them. Desperate to Escape was published partly in 2013, but was finished in 2014 with a thought-provoking finish.

In four serial installments to the book, Robins gives us the story of Ineeka, an astronaut hailing from the inner city of Chicago, who, like the title implies, is desperate to escape from the constrained circumstances of her life. Throughout a flashback style narrative similar to “Lost,” Robins gives us a complete portrait of Ineeka, a girl lost on earth, but who finds her destiny in space.

Super by Ernie Lindsey

superLindsey is one of the best indie storytellers out there today. He has the ability to tell compelling tales in a variety of subjects and genres, and in Super, he took on superheroes. Super was released in the wake of “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” which showed the corruption of the government and its attempts to reign in the world’s superheroes. Edward Snowden and NSA data mining was also a very contemporary issue during the summer months when Super hit Amazon, which made the book and its subject all the more applicable.

From my Amazon review:

“I didn’t come into reading Ernie Lindsey’s Super with CA2 in mind, but it is hard to distance yourself too much from it after finishing and realizing the complex web Lindsey wove to get to the ending of the book. This is one book that I genuinely had a hard time putting down and when my Kindle ran out of battery life, I had to bide my time until it was ready for me to finish the book off.”

Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Starship GriftersI really can’t put it better than my Amazon review.

“After reading Robert Kroese’s Starship Grifters, I came to one conclusion: everyone in the 31st century is an idiot. Rex Nihilo is either the smartest man alive, or a Forrest Gump of a con artist, lucky enough to stay alive in the face of ridiculously deadly circumstances. I’m still not sure — I’ll get back to you on that.
In fact, the only one in Rex’s world that seems to have any brains is his robot, Sasha, who is programmed to turn herself off whenever she actually has an original thought. In a world like that, Rex seems to surround himself with the power players of the galaxy who all turn out to be bumbling morons.
I don’t often laugh at the books I read, but I found myself chuckling, chortling, at times flat-out guffawing — at times uncontrollably — at Kroese’s humor placed in the best places in the story.
At the end of the story, we do get answers to questions I wasn’t sure we were asking, but it certainly paved the way for more Rex Nihilo books, which I will gladly shell out money for whenever Mr. Kroese decides to write them.”

Sand by Hugh Howey

sandSand was one of the first novels I read in 2014, and almost a whole year later, it is still a thrilling book that continues to set Hugh Howey apart from other authors. I was lucky enough to read Sand earlier than most, and shared my thoughts on Amazon:

“I can honestly say I was blown away by Sand.  After I read Part 5, I said SAND > WOOL and I’m sticking by it almost a week later. The book is just magnificent and Howey once again shows off his masterful storytelling with an imaginative dystopian world that is all at once hard to fathom and easy to believe all at once.
Hugh calls Sand the antithesis to WOOL and I can see that clearly. While WOOL is about the absolute control that a small group of people can exert upon the masses, Sand is the opposite. It’s what happens when there is no clear authority and yet people live, work, and die — all under the invisible thumb of some unknown force.

If reading Hugh Howey is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

EleanorShould we call this book Eleanor 1.0? After releasing Eleanor earlier this year, Jason Gurley acquired an agent, and sold the rights to Eleanor. A new and edited version of the book should be in stores in 2015, so perhaps Eleanor will grace this list again next December. Regardless, the book I read was a great work; one that was clearly a labor of love.

From my Amazon review:

“There are many different reasons to read a book. Most times I tend to read to think about something in a new or different way. To spark my creativity and challenge my accepted ideas.
This book, Eleanor by Jason Gurley, is not that kind of book. Not that it doesn’t make you think. I had a lot of thoughts while I read this book. I thought about the similarities between it and two other books I’ve read. One was fairly recent – Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane, while the other I read when I was just a child – Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Both had a profound influence on me, but all three of these books didn’t so much make me think.
They made me feel.”
The Robot Chronicles, edited by David Gatewood

robot anthoThere were a number of short story anthologies that I just fell in love with over the last year, but The Robot Chronicles absolutely leads the way. David Gatewood started out with the terrific, but eclectic From the Indie Side, then we got various tastes of time travel in Synchronic, but it was in Robot that the audience really got a treat. So many great stories, told in manageable little chunks. There are a ton of amazing stories inside, starting with Hugh Howey’s Glitch. Among the other authors to pay attention to is Matthew Mather, Wes Davies, Patrice Fitzgerald, Ann Christy, Edward W. Robertson, and A.K. Meek among the others.

I was a HUGE Isaac Asimov fan growing up and still have a lot of reverence for a well-told robot story, so I greeted this collection with excitement and a bit of trepidation, but the authors pulled it off. From my Amazon review:

“One of the best things about this collection of stories is that it got me to get out my collection of Asimov robot stories and re-read and re-discover them in the light of this remarkable modern anthology. Each of the stories in TRC is fantastic, even if I didn’t specifically name the story and author. I’ll carry these stories with me for a long time.”
(Reviewer’s Note: I have a story that is slated to appear in The Alien Chronicles, which is the third in the Future Chronicles series after Robot and Telepath. I was selected after I had already read and loved TRC.)

Dead in the Water by Carol Davis

DITWThis book is definitely different than most on this list. I think you’ll find most are hard science fiction with a great many set in space, but Dead in the Water takes our two protagonists to a creepy lake town in upstate New York to investigate a series of deaths over the decades.

Davis is a heckuva writer. This woman can paint a scene. Her mind works on the level of screenplays, so virtually every scene I can see set before me, as if leaping off the page and onto my TV screen. From my Amazon review: “While she is a pro at putting together a plot for short stories, Dead in the Water shows she is more than capable of adding the complexity a novel calls for. Her writing is sharp, and in this case, not for the faint of heart. She isn’t afraid to scare her readers, putting her protagonists in terrifying situations, only to play out their fears for the readers to see.”

Binary Cycle by Wes Davies

binary cycleI think a lot of people were interested to see what Wes Davies had up his sleeve after he finished telling his Silo Submerged series—one of the first WOOL fanfic stories. In Binary Cycle, Davies gave his readers a novel originally told in three parts that works quite well when put together. After reading the third part, I wrote: “The action is taken to a new level and after the early revelations in the book, Davies pushes his characters physically and emotionally, so much that the reader is left panting by the end of the book.”

Originally, I had a couple issues with the second installment and the pacing of the series, but in the third story redeemed Davies and when put together, I think it all works fairly well.

Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole

spsNick Cole’s Soda Pop Soldier may be a traditionally published book, but it has the heart of an indie title. Cole certainly champions independent authors and his book takes risks like an indie author might. There were certainly moments that harkened to a book like Ready Player One, but there was more to this, and in fact Cole tackles the anonymous nature of online interaction with a violence inherent to modern video games.

From my review:

“With a name like Soda Pop Soldier, I half-expected a light-hearted romp through modern video games. What I got was something completely different. Something telling about how many of us live our lives online and the anonymity that we expect. Something visceral and violent, yet clean and sanitized at the same time. Something that fully engaged my head and heart alike.”

Strikers by Ann Christy

strikersAnn Christy likes to call herself an “accidental author.” If it’s an accident, it’s a happy one, as this woman can really tell a story. In Strikersher first full-length foray outside of Hugh Howey’s silos, Ann showed what she can do. From my review:

“Ann Chisty does a fabulous job of world-building, creating a realistic dystopian world where Karas and her friends find out what they are really made of. Her characters are very believable and although she does an admirable job tying up storylines by the end of the story, there are plenty of seeds and avenues to explore in future tales in her Striker Universe. I enjoyed reading it far more than a lot of dystopian young adult books on the market today and I feel she really tapped into the emotion that fuels much of the young adult fiction market these days.”
My Sweet Satan by Peter Cawdron

mssI’ll just start with the beginning of my Amazon review:

“With a title like that, it was a little difficult for me to want to read this book. Peter Cawdron has made a title that is very provocative, but if the reader can just get past it — get to the heart of the story — they will realize that Satan has very little to do with this tale at all.”

In fact, Cawdron has made a great first contact story that is really less about the first contact than it is a character study of stressed individuals in deep space approaching the unknown. Is it really Satan or something else – something worse?

I’ve always been a fan of Cawdron’s stories and can’t seem to get enough of them. The best part of MSS was perhaps the character of Jason, the ship’s AI. Again, from my review:

“I’ll say this about Jason — he may be the best character I’ve seen in a long time. I loved what Cawdron did in creating a character that feels totally real, but is not only fictional, but also doesn’t have a body to call his own. The evolution of Jason was fantastic and I would love to see more of him in a future book if Mr. Cawdron ever decides to revisit his MSS Universe.”

Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker

Bunker_PENNSYLVANIA_Omnibus_EbookEdition-640x1024The first two parts of Pennsylvania were on my list from last year, so this isn’t too much of a surprise. Bunker finished up his book by answering questions, but certainly leaving more than a few unanswered for a sequel in the upcoming Oklahoma.

From my Amazon review:

“The book is a great work, alternating between moments of calm with the Amish lifestyle, and anxiety with the pending war between the two factions on New Pennsylvania. The simple life that that Amish lead with the chaos and politics of the “English” world raging around them. Bunker has painted a brilliant picture of this dichotomy by showing the differences between Jed and Amos. One content to be plain – the other aware of a different calling on his life.”

The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz

10338227_10203080505026343_2241684756519716173_nIt hadn’t been very long after I’d read Stefan Bolz’s other novel, The Three Feathers, when I got my hands on The Fourth Sage. I found it to be a wonderful example of a dystopian novel without the depressing tropes that so often inhabit those books. From my review:

“There is a positivity present in Bolz’s work that you don’t find in other author’s books. In a post-apocalyptic, authoritarian society, you would expect to find death and depression around every turn, but for some reason, whenever Aries, her winged friend, Born of Night, or any of her numerous friends appear on the page, it is difficult to not smile and know that somehow, someway, their destiny is to survive and even thrive.”

Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon-Max-BarryLexicon is one of the few books I haven’t written an Amazon review for, but there are a few reasons for that. One – I actually read it as a paperback and wasn’t immediately prompted to write a review, and two – it was the first book I had a chance to read after the adoption of our son was complete.

Regardless, Lexicon was a ride and a half. Hugh Howey had been pushing this book for a while and when I had some money to spend at Barnes & Noble, I specifically looked for this book and devoured it in the days that followed. I loved the secret society nature of the book and the pacing. It was extremely well-written and I’ll certainly look out for Barry’s books in the future.

Author Interview: Thomas Robins

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As an author, I understand how it feels to finish a book. One of the most challenging, yet fulfilling aspects of the writing process is simply finishing. For Thomas Robins, he finished not only a series, but also the complete novel of Desperate to Escape this week with the fourth installment in the science-fiction serial.

Thomas published the first part of his D2E series last September. It is unique in a number of ways, chiefly in that his protagonist is an African-American woman from the inner city of Chicago. Ineeka Coleman’s unlikely story puts her as a NASA astronaut on her way into space when everything goes wrong. The fascinating part of the book is the dual-narrative where the reader is treated to Ineeka’s time in space in one storyline and her time on earth in the other. Each story can’t exist without the other and even though you know one will end with her in space, there are tons of unexpected results and surprises along the journey for Ineeka.

I’ve been privileged to be a beta-reader for Thomas and his last couple D2E installments and he really pushes the envelope and gets the reader to think in the final couple chapters as the finish line approaches. I had a chance to ask Thomas a few questions about the series, about writing and what’s on the horizon. (Fair warning, the TV series LOST is mentioned more than a few times.)


d2e4 You have finished Desperate to Escape. Describe your feelings and what you’ve learned since starting this series.

I’ve learned that, as an indie author with a full-time job, you can’t find time to write, you make time. I’ve also learned that spending a year on a creative project is exhausting. Rewarding, but exhausting. Short stories are a much different thing: work intensely for a couple weeks and it’s done, but when the word count starts piling up, there are levels of difficulty that go into keeping everything straight. For example, when editing the final part of the story (part four), it turned out one of my characters had changed the way she talked since the last time she was in the story (part one). Something like that is not likely to happen in a short story.

Where did Ineeka Coleman come from? You don’t live in Chicago and Kansas doesn’t strike me as an “urban area,” so how did you go about creating that character?

I knew the main character would have to be strong enough to overcome some substantial hardships and Ineeka’s character came to mind as someone who could survive and grow despite the adversity.  I’ve always heard author’s say a character wrote herself, but this is the first time I’ve had it happen to me. Ineeka’s story seemed to write itself. Really, I think the first scene in the book is still my favorite: a young girl tucked away in bed using her imagination to play out her fantasy of space travel. Looking in from the outside, you’d think her whole life was terrible, but at the end of the day she had dreams just like all children do.

d2e1Did you have the finish line in sight from the beginning or did you make it up as you went along? Please answer as if you are Damon Lindelof, co-creator of LOST. 😉

Ha Ha. I feel like Damon Lindelof as I say this, but I really did have the basic story start to finish developed before I started writing. I did come across a substantial roadblock that changed the structure of the series, however. Originally, the first book “flashbacks” would feature Ineeka, book two was for Williard, book three was for Harold, and book for would go back to Ineeka. When I started writing book two, I just could not make Williard as engaging a character as Ineeka had become. I decided to make her the focus for all the books instead. Of course, I am sitting on a mountain of backstory for Willard and Harold that was not used in the books. I’m not sure they will ever see the light of day, though. Rest assured the ending was exactly as it was meant to be.

Speaking of LOST, once I finished, I really saw a lot of influences from the iconic TV series. How much do you think it influenced you in writing D2E?

I don’t watch much TV. In fact, I didn’t start watching LOST until a few seasons in. I think one of my friends lent me the DVDs and asked me to watch them. It is some of the greatest writing I’ve ever seen in television series. The slow, methodical buildup to the first season cliffhanger was brilliant, in addition to all the philosophical and religious views they touch on. LOST did influence my writing in that I liked how LOST gave equal weight to the backstory and the main storyline. In Desperate to Escape, the two parts of the story are nearly identical in length and help the reader understand why Ineeka acts the way she does.

d2e2What’s next for Thomas Robins?

Wow. I have some short stories running around my head I’ll take a stab at. I already have a superhero short written for a LOOW collaboration titled Repose. That is due out later this year. I fully expect my next novel to be even better than Desperate to Escape. It is a big project that I have been putting off until I am done publishing Desperate to Escape so I can stay on deadline.

How do you incorporate writing into your personal life and career?

Earlier, I said you can’t find time, you make time. Here are my secrets: First, if I am rocking a sleeping child, I don’t watch TV or surf the web on my phone, I write scenes on my phone. It passes the time nicely. One of my Kindle World books was almost entirely written this way. Second, I get to go to the coffee shop one night a week to work on my writing. It’s my night out. My wife has a night out too (for her hobby). It’s a great system we use to allow each of us to have a break from parenting duties while also giving each of us a night to spend quality time with the kids. It’s a win-win.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

This is such a hard question to answer because I don’t keep up with when I read books. The one that comes to mind is Eleanor by Jason Gurley.

DESPERATE_Part3What’s the best thing about being an indie author?

The best thing is when people read my writing and enjoy it. Ultimately, I make up stories all the time. Most of them are forgotten, others are never written down. The only reason I write and publish stories is because I think those stories are worth sharing.

Anything else to add? 

Will, thank you for taking the time to interview me. Please let your readers know they should sign up for my e-newslettter on my blog at www.thomasrobins.com.

Thanks Thomas!

Do yourself a favor, and pick up the four parts of the Desperate to Escape series before the price goes up (because they are really a steal at just 99 cents a piece!) Click right —-> HERE!

 

Oh…and behold the complete D2E cover (all four parts and the omnibus edition were all designed by the amazing Jason Gurley, btw…). Thomas is pegging August 1 as a release date for the full D2E story.

d2e full

Desperate to Escape, Part 3

Aside

DESPERATE_Part3Thomas Robins published the first entry into his Desperate to Escape series in September of last year and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s exciting, really — getting to read some great science fiction, all while seeing a brand-new author develop and bloom right before you. (Full Disclosure: Thomas and I are both in the WOOL fanfic charity anthology WOOL Gathering and his story “Eight” is my favorite of the bunch.)

Today we are blessed with Part 3 in Robins’ ambitious tale, ready for download on Kindle. I was lucky enough to be an early reader of DTE3, and I have to say: Robins steps up the story to another level I didn’t know he had in him.

So what’s the story with DTE?

Basically, DTE tells the story of a young woman named Ineeka from inner-city Chicago. As a reader, we see two stories told in parallel tracks — one is Ineeka’s quest to escape from Chicago, from her past, from her nature, from what could have been her destiny. The alternate story is of Ineeka as an astronaut, taking a passenger to the International Space Station and the unexpected adventure that follows in orbit of Earth. Ineeka was so desperate to escape her life on Earth, that she wound up leaving the planet entirely.

From there Robins does an exceptional job following Ineeka as she battles her figurative demons back on Earth and the literal enemies she has once she reaches the ISS. With each new addition to the story, Robins amps up the drama and the action as his skill as a writer continues to improve.

I think a lot of people can really relate to Ineeka’s situation. Her mistakes from her adolescence threaten to ground her from NASA before she even has a chance. She dreams of flying…away from Chicago and her life there. It would be easy for her to stay. It would be the well-worn path taken by so many young women, not just in the inner city, but all over this country. I see it myself in rural Illinois. Girls latch on to a guy. They don’t work as hard in school because they think they can just depend on Mr. Good Ol’ Boy the rest of their lives. (Maybe they can, maybe they can’t — that isn’t the point.) They mentally hit stop on their education and any dreams they may have had and slide into a sense of apathy. They stay within 15 miles of their high school most of their lives and by the time they reach middle age, they wonder what happened to their childhood hopes and dreams.

Ineeka is not that girl. She is strong and confident. Even with every obstacle and hurdle in her way, she manages to make her dreams come true. It may not come in the traditional way, but just as her name suggests, Ineeka is not the traditional girl. As Robins takes us from the peril the entire world is in at the end of Part 3, it will take that tenaciousness for Ineeka and the rest of the human race to survive Part 4.

Robins has gotten a lot of compliments on his portrayal of the Earthside story through Parts 1 and 2, but his spaceside story in Part 3 holds its own. I kept rushing through Ineeka’s Earth struggles to get back to her issues in space.

If you haven’t yet checked out Thomas Robins’ Desperate to Escape, here is Part 1, and Part 2, and finally, Part 3. All just 99 cents with Part 4 destined for your Kindle this summer. Get this book — you won’t regret it.