Reading Radar – To Live and Die in Avalon

Once again, I’m paring down Reading Radar – but that’s because I have some new content in the works!

Reading Radar will now feature one independently-published or crowdfunded work per week. This reduction is to help give me time for new writing exercises that are scheduled to go up on this site starting in March.

This week’s work is from one of my favorite book crowdfunding sites, Inkshares.

 

To Live and Die in Avalon, by Jason Chestnut

 

to_live_and_die_in_avalon_coverHalf 60’s spy novel, half classic sci-fi serial, To Live and Die in Avalon looks like a really fun read. Right from the start of the sample chapters, I really enjoyed the campiness and the smart use of tropes from two classic genres.

The story follows Penny Thorne, a secret agent on her final mission – to find and rescue Dr. Baxter, a scientist who was cryogenically frozen in 1969. She finds herself pursued by a relentless military force as she unravels the mysteries behind Dr. Baxter and Avalon, humanity’s home among the stars.

This project looks very promising, and I bet it’ll reach its funding goals quickly when it goes live.

 

I’m off to read more sample chapters, and to find another work for next week’s feature!

 


 

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Reading Radar – “The In-Betweener” and a book called “The Nobel Prize”

Both of the books on this week’s Reading Radar come from free Amazon promotions. As always, I try to find books that are independently produced, or that are not from big league publishers.

The In-Betweeners, by Ann Christy

51a3wfrh7zlA zombie novel? Wait, don’t turn away! I actually like this one. It’s about a woman who’s left alone and in hiding from what is left of the world after a new technology has caused an apocalypse. She must survive through loneliness and guilt as she finds food and other necessities. All around her are the “Deaders” and “In-betweeners” (those not quite dead and not quite alive).

So far, I’m finding this book very exciting. The story drew me in with detailed settings and worldbuilding, plus it’s easy to identify with the main character, Emily, as she struggles to find other survivors like her. Definitely worth a look.

 

The Nobel Prize, by Mois Benarroch

51q3ugxk02lThis book was linked to me by a friend during a special promotion. I love the concept of this book right away. A writer discovers that one of the members of his writing group is in a mental institution. The writer finds out that his friend is becoming a different character each day, acting as if he is within his own books. The translation of this novel is a bit awkward in places, but so far I’ve been able to follow pretty well. I’m finding it pretty funny – I appreciate the satire of writers and their craft.

 

That’s all for now!

 


 

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Reading Radar – Catching Stars and Frey

I’m back with Reading Radar, where I preview promising books from independent authors.

Here’s what I’m looking at in the week of January 8 – 14.

 

InksharesCatching Stars by Cayla Keenan

 

Catching Stars takes place in the kingdom of Aestos, and follows Maddix, a member of the King’s Guard. Maddix is accused of four murders he can’t remember comitting, and finds himself in prison awaiting execution. After Maddix mysteriously escapes his punishment, the witch Jayin is sent to find him – but Jayin and Maddix will have to work together if they want to survive.

The strong writing and descriptive narrative caught my interest – the sample chapters do a good job of pulling the reader in to this world. Currently at 276 pre-orders, Catching Stars is now guaranteed the basic publishing treatment by Inkshares, and any further orders will certainly help the author even more.

 

Amazon Promotion – Frey, by Melissa Wright

517zm4m8bnlAnother Kindle free promotion – and it’s still going as I write this. Frey lives in a small village where her Aunt makes life difficult and frustrating for her. Frey’s life takes a strange turn as she discovers magic she didn’t know she had, and is persecuted by her village council. She goes on the run, and is forced to seek help from strangers and other outcasts. As she runs, she begins to recover memories long lost to her and she suspects that there is much more to her story.

So far, I’ve found the narrative to be fairly engaging. It’s a little rough and somewhat confusing in places – I think this book could have used another run-through by an editor. The characterizations of Frey and her friend Chevelle get muddled in places, and I found it hard to understand some of their actions. There are enough twists to keep me reading, though, and I have a feeling it may be worth reading through to the second book in the series, Pieces of Eight.

 

That’s it for now.

What do you want to read in 2017?


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Write What You Know? – #IWSG Post Prompt

This is my January post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Late by my clock, but hey, it’s still Wednesday is some parts of the world!

iwsg

The prompt for this month is What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Write what you know.

Oh yeah, I’m gunning for the big one – which is odd, because I teach this rule in my writing classes for ESL students.

It is a deceptive rule, because it makes you think you should write only from personal experience. Now, do you suppose J.K. Rowling ever actually went to a wizarding school? Did P.L. Travers really have a magical nanny? You think George R.R. Martin ever found himself at a wedding that went horribly, violently wrong?

Probably not. But those writers knew people and knew history. They filled in gaps in their knowledge by researching and talking to people. They blended in their own experiences along with facts and experiences learned from others.

If writers only wrote what they knew, every book would be about a struggling writer, trying to make words flow across the page while wondering how the heck they’ll pay for their next meal. Every character would be just like the author (only far more handsome or beautiful, of course). Conflicts would involve overcoming writer’s block, the quest to find an outlet for an outdated laptop, or the constant paradox of needing to talk to people but being hopelessly introverted. (I love stereotypes, don’t you?)

I humbly propose a revision to the old rule:

Start with what you know.

This is the way I wish it had been taught to me. It’s a far more accurate for the stories I think are my best – I started with an event or situation I knew and worked from there. Characters were based on people I met, though I’ll admit that my main protagonist is often very close to being me. But I never stumbled across a family secret so horrible as that in Painted Blue Eyes, nor did I ever experience a car wreck so bad as the one that kicks off The Door I Chose. I had similar experiences, and I talked to family members and friends who had such experiences. And I picked up from books, TV shows, movies, plays, musicals, and so many other sources. I imagine that successful, best-selling authors will tell you the same thing – they experienced events somewhat similar, or learned of events that they fictionalized. They met people very similar to the ones in their books, or borrowed traits from characters in other media.

Can we all start teaching the rule this way instead?


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Read ‘Empty Coffee Cup’ over at OMNI Media – #amwriting

OMNI just started a new online publishing venue, and I’m in it!

They are accepting non-fiction, fiction, and blog-style posts, and it was easy for me to submit. It looks like there’s a system to earn money from posts, based on how many views or how much interest they generate.

I submitted and odd piece I wrote – a one-act play called Empty Coffee CupThis work also appears as part of the Daejeon Writer’s Group book called Fleeting, published at the end of last year.

It features a conversation between an artist and his future self regarding the girl he hasn’t yet met. Fellow writers who’ve read through my edits and rewrites have given me very positive feedback – I hope you enjoy it too!

Read Empty Coffee Cup on OMNI Media now!

Reading Radar – 100 Questions to Ask Your Main Character, They Are The Last

I’m back with Reading Radar for the New Year!

I have a couple of books to start the year of right …

 

Inkshares – They Are the Last by Elayna Mae Darcy

Piper Anderson is a girl living in a juvenile detention center, alone and forgotten until her grandmother comes to free her. Piper discovers she is a child of two worlds, with an Alterian mother and a human father. She learns that she can wield an incredible power, and must venture forth to save a world she didn’t know she came from. The best thing about this is Darcy’s lyrical prose, which sets a wonderful mood and theme for the story from the very beginning. The prose is helped by excellent worldbuilding and strong characterization – it’s pretty clear that Darcy brings a lot of experience and emotion to this tale. i really hope the campaign for this book starts up again – I think it will be a good one.

 

Amazon Promotion – 100 Questions to Ask Your Main Character by Lieze Neven

I got this on Kindle as a free promotion, but unfortunately it seems to have expired. It’s less than $3 US, so it’s still a good deal. Sometimes, books like this might seem lazy  – after all, how many books of prompts and questions does a writer really need? But in this case, I think the questions  are well thought out. While some questions like “How do you see yourself today and what has led to these views” strike me as awkward and unlikely to hold much bearing in my story, they remind me of the questions that actors try to answer about the characters they play. The best question I’ve seen yet is “If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be?” – that was one I hadn’t asked some of my characters yet. Seasoned writers may not get as much out of this book, but it looks good for beginners.

 

That’s it for now.

What do you want to read in 2017?


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Or you can help support this site by leaving a tip. Contributions can be made in any amount starting at $1 US. Thank you for the support!

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