Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fifty Shades of WTF: The top 5 most unlikely candidates for the upcoming film adaptation

If you've even remotely paid attention to any of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie hype, you've seen that just about everyone under the sun has been rumored to either be interested in the movie or have been asked to perform in it. Ryan Gosling? He's been asked. Emma Watson? She's supposedly a likely candidate. My aunt's mother's second cousin's roommate's father? He's totally up for the role of Christian Grey.

Here's a listing of some of the more outlandish people that have been fingered as being involved, mentioned as likely candidates, or are interested in the movie in some form or fashion.

Selena Gomez. While it'd be a little awesome to see the white-washing of various book characters go in the opposite direction with the casting of a Hispanic actress, I just don't see her as being really right for the role. Maybe it's because she's too young. Maybe it's because she's too dominant. Either way, the rumor of her being Ana just seems really silly, but since Gomez has already shot down rumors of her being in the film I suppose we don't have to worry about this overly much.

Shia Lebouf. No. Just no. While Lebouf does seem to have the douchebag aspect of Christian Grey down, I can't see him being dominant enough to play Grey. Every time I imagine him trying to top someone, I just picture the other person getting irritated and turning him into a Shia sized floor mop.

Miley Cyrus. OK, so she's been listed on a website as being a likely candidate for the role of Anastasia Steele. I'm now picturing her as Ana to Shia's Christian. It's not a pleasant image and I'm currently wondering if I can self-lobotomize if I shove a pencil far enough up my nose. I know that Cyrus hasn't really acted up that much lately, but I just imagine her wandering around Grey's apartment stoned out of her gourd while Lebouf just sits in a corner and practices being the world's largest wet rag. Imagining them in the infamous tampon sex scene is a little warped because I keep seeing the roles switch around and having Cyrus remove Lebouf's tampon because she's just that much more masculine and dominant than he is. 

Justin Bieber. That's right folks, Justin Bieber. Depending on where you go, he's either up for an undisclosed role or he's been asked to play the role of Christian Grey himself. All jokes of him being more likely to play Ana aside, I'm finding it highly unlikely that the Biebs would be capable of playing a guy that's in his late 20s, unless he's supposed to be playing a teenaged Grey and that character doesn't entirely appear until book three. And yes, I think Bieber could kick Lebouf's butt.

Charlie Sheen. Somewhere, someone has said that he was in the running to play Grey, to which Sheen actually said that he wasn't interested. Sort of. I'm actually a little sad that this one is so obviously false, because it'd be kind of awesome if he was. The producers could put him and Cyrus together in the film and let them "do as they will", resulting in a drunken drug filled bacchanalia that would go down in history. They're already friends, so you wouldn't have to worry about them fighting on set. On a side note, I can see him being dominant enough to play Grey and if the movie was going to be a parody of the book,  Sheen would be their best bet by far. 

Book Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Lost Prince (Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Release Date: 10/23/2012
ISBN: 0373210574

If you've read the previous books in the Iron Fey series, you need to read this book. If you haven't, I'll be blunt and say that this probably won't be the best book to start off with. Since this is the start of a new arc within the series there is a little going back over of back story to where you might not be completely lost, but you'll definitely feel like you missed out on a huge chunk of story. This means that you won't enjoy it as much otherwise.

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them. 

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’s dare to fall for. 

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten. 

My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.

I have to say that I'm glad that the story changed narrators. I liked Meghan and she was a likable heroine, but I'll admit that I was getting a little tired of her at times and I wanted to see a fresh angle for this story from another mortal's eyes. I know that Iron Knight was Ash's story, but I wasn't as happy with that as I wanted to be. We're given new characters, new situations, and best of all: new fae. Ethan is a moody and sometimes bullheadedly stubborn character. You won't know whether you want to smack him upside the head or agree with him. He's a jerk to a good many people, but for pretty good reason. Ethan hasn't had it easy since his sister took off to be the Iron Queen. (Although neither has she, I'd wager.)

Kenzie, his potential love interest in the book is nice, although at times Kagawa is a little overly obvious that she has A Hidden Secret about her that will eventually be revealed. No worries though, as it actually explains a lot about some of the character's drive throughout the novel, even though I was expecting it to be slightly different. Also given a fair amount of time to shine is a new character, Kierran. Readers will be able to guess at his part in the story and why he's associating with Ethan somewhat easily, but the point of this is less to surprise the reader and more to set up the plot for the next book. (I can't say much without spoiling this, but there's been forshadowing about this previously in the series.)

I'll admit that occasionally there were some things in here that kept it from being absolutely perfect. Every once in a while I got a little impatient because things seemed to take a little longer than I'd like and sometimes the characters just seemed a little overly quick to jump to one thing or another. Despite her later reveals, Kenzie just seemed to jump to certain choices a little quickly, although I'm sure that this will probably be a plot point further in the series. This isn't really any big failing on Kagawa's part, mind you. This is the type of thing that I feel is completely subjective to the reader in this case.

Overall this book is pretty freaking nifty. It's a marked improvement over Iron Knight and I found it really, really hard to put this book down once I started reading it. If not for the demands of work and non-book life, I'd probably have devoured this in one sitting. This is an absolute must read for anyone who loved the earlier books in the series. It just stinks that now we have so long to wait until the next book in the series comes out. (Although on a positive note, 2013 will have us receiving book 2 in both this new arc as well as in Kagawa's Blood of Eden series. So the wait will be rewarded greatly.)

4 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Manga Review: Demon Love Spell Vol 1 by Mayu Shinjo

Title: Demon Love Spell Volume 1
Author: Mayu Shinjo
Publisher: Viz Media
Release Date: 12/04/2012
ISBN: 142154945X

I've liked Shinjo's work in the past, although I'll admit that after a while some of her work just seemed to be a little bland, too much of a copy of Sensual Phrase. This was partially due to a publisher Shinjo had been working with, but for a while afterwards I just couldn't seem to get into the stuff she'd released even after she broke off with her old publisher. I'm officially digging her work with Demon Love Spell, though.

Miko has a lot of problems. She's the daughter of a prestigious family that's known for having an impressive ability to see and dispel demons, yet Miko herself lacks the power to even see the supernatural. So when she manages to bind the super sexy incubus Kagara, no one is more stunned than her, especially when she traps him in a chibified version of himself. The two soon discover that Miko does have power, but it only seems to manifest when she's touching him. With extremely powerful demons beginning to circle the now weakened Kagura, Miko must find a way to restore him to his true power as well as to find a way to confront her own increasingly complicated feelings towards him.

If you're wondering, the smut level in this actually isn't that bad when you consider how mature some of her other works are. It's relatively tame at this point in time, with sex being referred to and there being sexually charged moments but no actual depictions of sex to the degree that you see in some of her other works. This doesn't mean that this won't change as the relationship between our two main characters changes, so if you're someone who doesn't like seeing smut in your manga then I'd approach this with a degree of caution.

The story here is rather straight forward. It's your typical "boy meets girl, enter the supernatural creatures and romantic entanglements" stuff that you've come to expect from manga and Shinjo, but it's just so incredibly cute that you won't really mind that you've seen a lot of this before in various incarnations. The chibified version of Kagura is fairly cute and it's one of the first things that drew me into the volume so quickly. It hits a lot of my manga quirks pretty hard (chibi versions of things, romance, a little light smut, etc), and I have a feeling that this will do the same for a lot of other readers. My only true complaint is that this does seem to suffer from "first volume-itis" because there's one or two tedious parts where the action slows down so we can have some groundwork laid for future story lines and plot arcs. It doesn't ruin the overall fun of the volume, but it is slightly noticeable.

Now when it comes to the artwork, I'll warn you: it's your typical Shinjo. By this I mean that the artwork is well done and the guys are all suitably hunky bishies, but that they also all look like various incarnations of male characters from her other works. Shinjo's style is fairly distinctive and her habit of making the main romantic lead resemble the main romantic lead from other works still applies here. As the series pretty obviously makes a point to show that Miko will eventually end up with Kagura at some point, I can overlook this for the most part. I would like some variety, but I do love the way she draws her men.

I have to say that I'll undoubtedly collect this series and store it next to my Sensual Phrase books. It's fairly well done and I couldn't help but love the setup. It's fun, it's cute, but most of all, it's something that I want to read the next volume of.

4 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided through Edelweiss)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Contest Winner! Jim Bernheimer's Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery

Hi everyone! I'm announcing the winner for the free e-book copy of Jim Bernheimer's new work!

Using I chose Skyjammer as the lucky winner!

I'll email the author with your information!

Friday, September 14, 2012

An interview with Pam van Hylckama!

Hi everyone!  Pam was gracious enough to give me a little mini interview about everything and to set a few things straight! She's pretty awesome like that and I have to say, if anyone wants to submit to an agent I don't think you'll find many more people more straight forward and fair than her!

First off, how has all of this affected you? I thought it was pretty scary when I heard about this. I can only imagine what it must be like for you, the person who actually went through all of this!

have no new updates at this point. Also, at this point, it could still be just a random incident. I'm waiting for more information other than a call I had when a suspect was apprehended. To be fair, I just wanted to put that out there, that maybe there isn't a disgruntled author at all, innocent until proven guilty and all of that. 

The way this is changing how I do things online. I'll be talking to Tee Morris tomorrow about online safety. I will be giving my children aliases and not posting pictures of them anymore. If anything this whole situation has taught me that a lot more people pay attention to what I say online than I had thought. I still want to be open with everyone, and with a lot of aspects of my life, but not my family or my whereabouts.

I noticed that you mentioned that you’ve received “go die” letters before. Is that sort of normal for being an agent? I can see getting the irate “I’m a genius, why can’t you mortals see perfection when it’s in front of you” e-mails, but death threats and stuff to that nature? How do you deal with authors like this other than just ignoring them?

Death threats to me are "I'm going to come and kill you". "I hope you die", or "You probably would reject Jane Austen!" are just frustration. While I don't like getting frustration in my inbox, it is easy to understand and I would still consider work from the authors in the future. 

It's not like we all haven't said something dumb online before.

On a side note, I’m going to take this opportunity to ask you some questions about the job in general. What advice can you give to authors looking to submit their work to an agent? Is there anything special that makes a book stand out and sparkle?

Don't submit before you are ready! It becomes incredibly hard not to submit after you finish that draft! Put it in a drawer for two weeks, and send it out to a critique group. Think hard about your submissions.

I’ve heard some people show an interest in becoming a book agent. Are there any special classes or training for this that you can recommend?

I honestly don't know of any classes. The exciting thing about being an agent is that it's one of the last careers where apprenticeship is still in place! Finding internships and helping out in query boxes is the first stage of becoming an agent. 

I have to say though, don't expect to make any money your first year, or to make a living for the first five years!

Thanks Pam!! And everyone, make sure to check out her websites and Twitter!

Authors Behaving Badly: The attack on Pam van Hylckama

Hi all! Today I've got a rather frightening case of "author behaving badly" for you. I don't have all the details but I'll update as I find more out. All of this is taken from the agent's twitter account. (BTW, thanks go out to author Naomi Clark for originally finding and pointing this out!!)

Less than 24 hours ago, agent Pam van Hylckama was attacked in her car. The guy came up and knocked a side mirror off, then when Pam unrolled the window to talk to him, he began slamming her head against the steering wheel. Luckily Pam's dog was there to help protect her, biting the man and causing him to flee. Pam later called the police at the urging of a family member.

Then they realized that it might not be a random attack. As stated above, Pam works as an agent and as such, both declines and accepts manuscripts and authors on a regular basis. The police believe that the guy that assaulted her (who is unnamed so far) was someone that she turned down. A look through her email showed that she'd received emails that said "The normal I hate you and I want you to die and I'll kill you". Pam had sort of just ignored those for the most part since agents get these all the time, but apparently the guy who sent these also had priors against him. The police then used the address the guy gave in his query to go to his house, where they discovered him with a bite mark on him from Pam's dog. The guy is now officially in police custody.

To put it frankly, this is pretty terrifying. Pam was just doing what agents do, yet she got attacked for it. I know that most of the irate and badly behaved authors would not stoop to physical violence, but this still is pretty scary. You never know when someone is going to take the information they discover about you, track you down, and try to physically assault you. Seriously, this is messed up.


Pam has been fantastic enough to give me a little mini-interview! Click here to go there!


I just logged on and noticed that there's been a fuss in the comments. I've deleted two of the remarks that were only made to be mean spirited and hateful. One made remarks while pretending to be someone else. Another insinuated that someone's sexuality affected their judgement. Neither contributed to the conversation at all.

But let me make this one point clear: it doesn't matter how Pam may or may not have acted towards the writer when rejecting his manuscript. Do I think she was rude? No. I don't. I think she probably gave him a form letter or something along those lines that she's given to countless other authors. She doesn't strike me as the type of person that would be rude or nasty. However even if she'd set his manuscript on fire, let her dog pee on the ashes, and made up a list of things she'd rather do than read any more of his book (such as rinsing her eyes out with lemon juice), that does NOT give him the right to attack her. That also doesn't mean that she "deserves" to be attacked. That it was fairly easy for the loon to track her down doesn't mean that she deserves the attack either. Rather than saying that she's at fault for having her personal information easily detectable, people should be lamenting that there are enough people with poor impulse control to where such things are necessary. That's blaming the victim and up to that point Pam had no reason to hide her information. She had no way of knowing that one of the people submitting to her would be that crazy.

As I can tell, the guy that attacked Pam had priors. That means that Pam was likely not the first person he lashed out against. This also means that no matter how polite Pam was, how much pains she took to spare his ego, or how kind her words might have been, this guy probably would've gone after her. It doesn't take a lot to set off someone who is mentally unstable. He might have attacked her even if his manuscript had been accepted, just because he didn't like the terms she was offering him. My point here is that the people who do this sort of thing are the type of people that would see anything as an invitation to an attack. Some of these crazies do it just because their shoe laces came untied. That anyone would ever think that for a second Pam might have done something to "deserve" this or that this crazy freak's attack was in any way justified is incredibly messed up.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. How Pam may or may not have acted is irrelevant.  There is no excuse for violence. We're human beings, not animals. The person that attacked Pam stalked her and then proceeded to smash her face against her steering wheel. The only reason that's all he did was because her dog defended her against the other person's assault. That anyone would think that a physical assault is an appropriate reaction to a manuscript getting declined is rather disturbing. Again, even if she was the rudest person on earth, which I doubt she was, that doesn't make physical violence acceptable. I'm going to assume that this person was coming on here to troll, but I wanted to make this statement because unfortunately there's always a group of people who will try to blame the victim in all of this, regardless of the circumstances.

I don't usually censor or delete posts on here, but I'd much appreciate it if people didn't make it necessary.


I've noticed that on some of the various news sites about this, people are questioning Pam's apparent retraction of the statement that the guy had been apprehended and that it was likely to be the same guy that she rejected manuscript-wise.

I do want to make a brief statement on this, saying that until the case has been through the court system and everything has been 100% proven in a court of law, you have to be careful about how you discuss things. It's fairly normal for a lawyer to tell someone that they should refrain from making any absolute statements saying "this person did this" or "I believe it's someone I rejected at work". If this goes to court then those statements can be used in the case against the guy that attacked her. The guy's lawyer can say that she "poisoned the well" against the client and so on. There's a lot of ways that a good lawyer can twist this around, which is why she's more than likely being vague about everything now. This does not mean that the attack didn't happen or that the guy that attacked her isn't the same one whose manuscript she declined. It just means that Pam probably lawyered up and is being told that being vague right now is her friend.

Now as for the allegations that she's too calm for someone that has been attacked, people respond to things differently. We also have no way of knowing exactly how frantic Pam actually was at this time. It's very, very common for people to kind of detach themselves from everything. It's a form of denial and it's fairly common.   I've known a few people who have had some pretty awful stuff happen to them and they discuss everything with a minimum amount of fuss and screaming. It doesn't mean that the trauma didn't happen, just that they hadn't fully processed everything yet. Everyone deals with things differently and just because Pam wasn't ZOMG-ing on various social sites doesn't mean that the attack didn't happen.

Further reading:
*Pam's Twitter account

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reviewers Behaving Badly

Hi all!

Normally when someone is behaving badly and I talk about 'em, it's almost always an author. In this instance I'm holding up a reviewer as an example of something that is bad behavior. I'm not going to name this reviewer, but I will go into a little detail. If you really want to track them down, it probably won't be that hard.

Recently on Amazon someone posted a five sentence review for a Ken Follett book. That in itself isn't an automatic bad thing. Short reviews do not always mean bad reviews. No, what made this bad was that the review wasn't about the book at all. It was yet another one of those reviews that complained about ebook pricing.

It's become fairly common knowledge at this point, but in case there are still people that are unaware of how ebook pricing is done, the merchant has no control over the price. Zip. Zilch. Ebook prices are all completely set by the publisher and if the merchant tries to lower that by even a penny, the publisher goes up in arms to stop the merchant from doing so. Amazon tried to offer lower prices, but were stomped on by the publishers. The publishers ultimately gave Amazon the ultimatum that if they didn't sell them by the publisher prices, they (the publishers) would yank their books off of Amazon entirely. It was pretty much unsaid that if they ran, the other publishers would follow suit. It was pretty obviously blackmail, plain and simple. It doesn't matter if Amazon was the one getting less money by the previous sale points and the publishers still got their profits. The publishers didn't want anyone selling an e-book for anything less than what they set. Years later of course, we'd start seeing more obvious signs of publisher price fixing between the major three publishers.

So long story short, publishers are the people you need to complain to. Amazon cannot control the prices any more than they can control the rain outside their factories. If they do try to change something, they run the risk of losing books for the kindle, which would effectively mean the death of the kindle and would definitely put the company as a whole at a loss.

Don't post negative reviews for books complaining about the book prices. It doesn't do anything. People have tried this before and all the publishers have done is laugh... and then do nothing. It's only when people put their money where there mouth is and stopped buying the books as well as sending out petitions that the publishers eventually started lowering their prices somewhat, although it's been going back up since then. All that publishing negative "this price point sucks" reviews do is irritate your fellow readers. You want to make a difference? Email the publisher. Stop buying the books and go through the library instead. Do anything other than post fake one star reviews complaining about the price.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Press Release: IDW Brings Chasing the Dead This November

New supernatural thriller based on novel by Joe Schreiber

[Chasing the Dead #1 Cover]San Diego, CA (September 4, 2012) – IDW Publishing is pleased to announce an all-new horror mini-series,CHASING THE DEAD, written by Matthew Scott and Tim Westland, based on a novel by author Joe Schreiber(Red Harvest, Death Troopers). Coming in November,CHASING THE DEAD is a fast-paced, ferociously tense supernatural thriller. Artist Dietrich Smith will provide captivating interiors and cover art for the series.

“I was immediately struck by Schreiber’s ability to create amazing suspenseful situations that contained subtle elements of horror lurking in the corners. This is a zombie road trip done in a whole new way with a unique supernatural mythology and a fun twist at the end,” saysScott. “As soon as I finished the book, I knew we had to bring this to graphic novel.”

The debut issue tells the story of a stranger who has kidnapped Sue’s daughter, Lily. But he doesn’t want her money, only her suffering – and he will kill Lily if Sue doesn’t follow his every command. With detailed instructions, the faceless abductor leads Sue into a blinding snowstorm on the longest night of the year to a place she has not traveled to since childhood. The voice on the other end of her cell phone somehow knows Sue’s deepest, most chilling secret – an ominous incident from her past, buried long ago...

From the twisted mind of Star Wars horror novelist Schreiber, with skillful adaptation by Scott andWestland, and compelling art by Smith, this eerie series will be sure to bring chills down your spine!

CHASING THE DEAD #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in November 2012. Diamond order code SEP12 0364.

Visit to sign up for updates and learn more about the company and its top-selling books.
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About IDW

IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s The TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE, Paramount’s Star Trek; HBO’s True Blood; the BBC’s DOCTOR WHO; Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Toho’s Godzilla; Wizards of the Coasts Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons; and the Eisner-Award winning Locke & Key series, created by best-selling author Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints, and Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio.

IDW’s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot, while Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes and Sony are bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film.

Guest blog and giveaway!! Jim Bernheimer's Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery

Hi everyone!! I'd love to re-introduce you to a writer that I've featured before on my blog, Jim Bernheimer!

Jim has a new book coming out, Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery! It's fairly cool sounding for several reasons, not the least of which is that he wrote the entire thing on an HTC Tilt keyboard. Think about that as far as dedication goes!

Jim has agreed to not only write a blog for me, but to also give away a copy to one lucky reader! I've read some of his other stuff, so trust me when I say that you'll want to give this book a try! I've got a copy myself, so I'll have a review posted as soon as I finish!

All you have to do to win a copy is put your email down at the bottom in the following format (name at domain dot com) to ensure that spammers don't grab your stuff! I'll announce the winner on Sunday, September 16th!


New Ways of Writing by Jim Bernheimer

I'd like to thank ChibiNeko for letting me guest post on her blog and also to promote my new release Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery.

Today, I'd like to talk about finding the time to write and the ways I've been trying to get more productivity.  Back when my wife and I just had one daughter, I could get away with staying up until all hours of the night poking away on my desktop or laptop.  That kind of ended with child number two.  She turned four the other day and the odds of me having set writing times are roughly slim and none.

Since time travel hasn't been invented yet (at least to my knowledge), authors who want to squeeze a few more grains of sand out of the hourglass need to get creative.  I've tried a few methods and will share with you my success and disappointments.

To date, my most successful attempt has been with my HTC Tilt mobile phone.  It has a slide out keyboard and my thumbs do the majority of the work.  This post was written on it.

The only real downside is that this method, when combined with my large thumbs, appears to be murder on my spelling.  Still, I just email the document and run it through my computer's word processor to catch the mistakes.  As far as productivity goes, I can usually get between 250 and 400 words per hour even if I'm using a treadmill or stationary bike.  The elliptical doesn't work because there is too motion.  (Yeah, I tried.)

The negatives are overcome by the sheer portability.  Add another page to the novel while my youngest is doing her gymnastics?  Not a problem.  Stuck in the back of a car on a long trip?  That too, unless you get a headache.

The other method that I have tried with less than stellar results is Dragon Naturally Speaking.  For me, it's the holy grail of writing - the notion that you could speak the words in your mind out loud and the book appears out of thin air at a rate of over a thousand words per hour.

Now here's the reality.  It takes lots and lots of practice.  You must speak slowly and work on your pronunciation.  If you're doing a fantasy novel filled with strange names and the like, be prepared to do a cubic ton of editing.  The upside to using Dragon is that the software gets easier to use the more you work with it.  The program "learns" your patterns and you "learn" the best ways for getting closer to the results you'd like to achieve.

The process begs the question - Are you training the software or is the software training you.  In my experience, it's a little of both.

One other problem I run into with the software is probably of my own making, but I'll throw it out there for you anyway.  I have a difficult time using it when there is someone else in the house.  Perhaps I’m easily embarrassed, but that’s just me.

Lastly, I've tried using a voice activated digital recorder during my commute or on long solo trips and then connect the recorder to my computer and process it with Dragon.  Again, this is a concept that sounds better than the reality.  It works fairly well for doing character dialogue, if you're the type of writer who can do the pretend conversations with your characters out loud.  Doing long blocks of descriptive exposition is a bit more difficult (at least for me).

Thanks again to ChibiNeko for hosting me today.  Here's a quick promo for Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery.  The story is a noir murder mystery set against a science fiction backdrop.  The concept that got me started writing the novel was the desire to write something in the vein of Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep).  I wanted to do it from the eyes of a replicant…or in my case a clone.  At just over 55 thousand words, the paperback version should end up being between 160 and 180 pages when it is released in the next 4 weeks.  Right now it’s available on Kindle and the other electronic formats will follow.

Homicide detective David Bagini awakens on a strange world only to discover he is, in fact, the forty-second clone of the Bagini line. Having no memories of why his Prime entered into a clone contract, he wants answers.

The first problem is his Prime has been murdered and Bagini Forty-Two is now in charge of the investigation.

The second problem is all the clues point at one of his fellow clones and they already know all his tricks.

How can he solve his own murder when all the suspects have his name and face?

Link to website –

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Audiobook Review: Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

Title: Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
Author: E.L. James
Narrator: Becca Battoe
Publisher: Random House Audio
ISBN: 0385360185

I'd had the paperback version of this and I admit fully that I'd bought books two and three shortly after I started reading book one. FSoG isn't exactly Shakespeare, but it has a really fun campy quality to it that I truly enjoyed. Then came book two, which had some fun parts but was sort of overly long and more than a little dull at points. Now I've finished book three and I can safely say that books two and three should've been condensed and mixed into one book. This was really the weakest one of the bunch. It's not helped by the fact that Random House chose the worst narrator possible for this.

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past. 

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

Where to start with what went wrong with this book? There's a lot of repetition in this book. I know that James might've been writing this in installments and as such, wasn't as aware of how many times she used the same phrases in this book. The constant "Oh my" and "Mr/s Grey" was pretty annoying to the point where I literally had to switch off the audio book because I was ready to toss my iPod onto the ground in frustration. The many slow and plodding parts of the book are further enhanced by it being spoken because it makes it that much more noticeable. There's some decent enough ideas here, I guess, but I don't think that we needed over 500 pages to tell them. It's overkill. There's only so many times we need to go through the whole "Yaargh, I want to bang Christian so badly and he wants to bang me, oh now he's all freaky control freak" thing.

Then there's Christian. I know that this is all new for him and that he might go into protective overdrive as a husband, but he turned into a snarling neanderthal in this book. I lost a lot of respect for Ana, that she kept putting up with him and making excuses for his attitude. No matter how bad his childhood was, that's not an excuse for his actions and I got frustrated that it took so long for Ana to finally start saying "get over it and move on". Even then she kept doing this "oh gee, I guess that all of this is because you were abused/neglected as a kid so it's all OK". She caved too many times and in situations where she shouldn't have. The repetition of these scenes made all of this that much more annoying.

This all might have been easily overlooked if not for the very, VERY poor choice of Becca Battoe as the narrator. Bluntly put, Battoe narrates everything in the same tone of voice with little to no alteration in her vocal patterns. She might have a pleasant and even voice, but you shouldn't use the same tone to narrate a sex scene and a bracelet purchasing scene. It makes everything boring. The narrator also makes Ana seem like a moronic bimbo. I never thought that Ana was Mommy's Little Mensa Maid, but I never really thought that she was as vapid as Battoe makes her sound. Add on the incredibly poor accents and Battoe pretty much strikes out on everything. Especially the sex scenes. I could forgive the other failings, but if you're going to read a sex scene then at least try to make it hot. I blame part of this on Random House because from what I can see, Battoe has never narrated anything with this sort of content in it. If I hadn't googled her, I'd have sworn that this was her first audiobook, but no- she frequently narrates children and YA books. I really felt that Battoe's narration was what put the final nail in this coffin and I can't help but feel that if Random House had gone with a narrator that is specifically experienced in narrating sex (Tavia Gilbert is amazing), the book would have been dramatically improved. I honestly for the life of me can't figure out why they chose Battoe. I think I'd rather have listened to Gilbert Godfried narrate this. Harsh, but I've listen to enough top notch narrations to know that this was a particularly poor job.

If you want to read this, skip the audiobook and go for the paper version. You'll still run into the problems of a lagging plot and overly repetitious scenes but you'll be spared Battoe's narration. I'm really glad that I got this through my local library rather than purchased it because this really was awful. If you must get this, get it through the library. I'd give this two stars except that Battoe really spoiled the narration for me.

1 out of 5 stars

Fake reviews: A reflection

I'm sitting at the computer looking up random things on Amazon, idly searching for something new to add my TBR shelves. That's when I spy it: a rather cute sounding urban fantasy/chick lit read. It has excellent ratings and a lot of them. The reviews are so glowing that my mouse is almost halfway up the screen to add it to my checkout box or wish list before the little alarm bells start going off. I look a little further into all of those glowing reviews, only to discover that a good many of them are either by people who have only reviewed the author's stuff, have only reviewed this one book, or have a history of only reviewing indie books that looks sneakingly similar to a review swap. The mouse scrolls back down, the book's credibility now shattered. Maybe the author really is that good and I try to make a note of their name, but I know that I'll probably never check them out. The damage has already been done.

If you've been on Amazon then you know what type of scenario I'm describing. Over the last few years there's been an explosion of self-published authors that have hundreds upon hundreds of positive reviews that all sing the book's praises and call it "the best thing ever". But how many of these are really all that genuine? Exactly how many are from "real" readers and how many are from the author themselves, their friends/family members, or from authors trading positive reviews?

When I would initially find these types of books with hundreds of dubious reviews, I'd assume that they were real. After all, who has the time to painstakingly post that many reviews under different names? Then I discovered Robert Stanek, the infamous author who is fairly well known for his rampant sockpuppeting of his own books. There are people who are willing to post that many reviews in the hopes of getting bigger attention. So at that point I figured "Hey, I'll just look for the verified badge. That means that they're legit, right?" Not so much. In what was probably an attempt to curb sockpuppets and trolling, Amazon requires that you make a purchase before posting a review. You're just as likely to find a false reviewer with a verified badge on a product because hey, if you're going to have to buy something then why not your own product? It goes up in the ratings AND you get to post a review praising your work.

So how do you tell if they're real or not? Honestly... you can't. Seeing a reviewer that has only reviewed Jane Doe's work is pretty suspicious, but that's not a guarantee that this is just Jane reviewing for herself. It could be that the author I looked at earlier has a wide fanbase that just happens to only have reviewed their stuff. But then it could also be exactly the type of situation it appears to be.

The thing is, fake reviewing only gets you so far and gets you noticed so much. You might get up in the higher rankings, but if your book is mediocre then you can only go so far before the publishers shrug and move on and the potential readers start eyeing your book with suspicion. After all, if tons of positive reviews was all that it took to get a publishing contract then Stanek would be writing for all of the publishing houses out there. All I can hope is that eventually this trend of fake reviewing eventually dies out because sometimes it tends to backfire on the author because you get people like me, that assume that you're faking your own reviews and pass over your work to read the next author on Amazon.

Further reading:

*A description of the whole Robert Stanek thing

Monday, September 3, 2012

Authors Behaving Badly: RJ Ellory

Here's the latest author behaving badly for you guys:

British author RJ Ellory has been caught not only sockpuppeting reviews, but also posting negative reviews for his rivals on Amazon. He's posted under two different names, Jelly Bean and Nicodemus Jones, if I'm understanding this correctly.

I haven't been able to find the negative review, but from what I read from the Telegraph, he gave MacBride's Dark Blood one star, saying "Unfortunately this is another in the seemingly endless parade of same-old-same-old Police procedurals that seem to abound in the UK." Now it should be noted that these are the only ones that are known. Ellory has offhandedly remarked that he'll go to forums and post under other names, so there could be more.

Now author reviews aren't automatically an evil thing. As long as they admit who they are from the get-go and don't post on sites that actively sell their work, there's nothing inherently wrong with an author reviewing their own work. It's when they do it via sockpuppets and post the reviews on places that sell their works that it becomes somewhat seedy. They're essentially trying to overly promote their own work with fake reviews and reduce sales for their rivals by posting negative ones. Ellory has given an apology, but some have questioned his sincerity.

To date, the reviews for Ellory's Jelly Bean persona are still available on Amazon UK. His Nicodemus Jones reviews have all been removed.

This is really just one example of an ongoing problem, as Ellory isn't the only author who has been caught posting fake reviews for himself. Robert Stanek is the reigning king of fakery, and that's not including the habit of many self-published or indie authors that do review swaps with other authors or get their friends and family to post positive reviews without admitting their relation to the author.

Further Reading:

*Jellybean profile on Amazon
*Nicodemus Jones profile
*Amazon forum where Jones posts as "Roger" instead of Nicodemus
*The author caught out praising his own books on Amazon... and writing disparaging reviews of his rivals' works
*RJ Ellory: detected, crime writer who faked his own glowing reviews
*Amazon Reviews: RJ Ellory Apologises for Fakery

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Comic review: Infected #1 by Scott Sigler

Title: Infected (1 of 5)
Author: Scott Sigler
Artist: Chad Minshew
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: OUT NOW

If you haven't read Scott Sigler's book version of Infected, you're missing out. No worries, you don't have to have read the book before picking up the graphic novel but like any book to comic adaptation, you can only translate so much between mediums.

Let me just say that so far, issue one was fantastic. No, it was more than that. It's fucking fantastic.

The artwork here is really terrific and overall Sigler's story translates very well to graphic novel format. There's a wonderfully slow buildup of dread here that fans of the full length novel will really appreciate. Now if you're the type who loves a little of the old "ultra-violence" from the start, you'll love the direction that this series will eventually go towards. You'll also appreciate the short scene of carnage in this issue.

Parents, if you don't want your kids to read about blood, violence, and things along those lines, you'll want to skip this series if you or they are overly sensitive. Perry's big finale at the end of the book will have you wincing. That said, I feel that as long as you read this along with them (and you will/should want to read it because it's Scott Freaking Sigler) there won't be too much here for you to quibble at.

Five out of five stars

(Purchased this wif my own money. Gotta keep our FDO producing, after all.)


Hi all! I'm announcing the winners of the giveaway! I'd have announced it earlier but I got busy with school! I  got all with the choosing of the winners and the proud winners of a kindle version of The Sound and the Echoes by Dew Pellucid are:

Sam Mills

Congratulations guys and enjoy the book! I've emailed the author with your info!