Those of us in the community of independent writers and readers might know there are few book review sites that focus exclusively on indie authors. Big Al’s Books & Pals is one of those sites. They also keep the bar high. Name recognition might get you moved up the list, as blog founder Big Al himself said in an interview with Martin Crosbie, but you know that review is going to be fair: no passes here. That’s why I’m so excited Playing Charlie Cool was nominated for one of their 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards in the category of contemporary fiction. Out of the thousands of books that Books and Pals received last year, just over three hundred were reviewed. And an even smaller selection made it into the thirteen categories for the award. I love writing Charlie, and even though we’re on a little hiatus right now, I’d definitely pour him a scotch and put some Sinatra on the playlist if he decided he had more stories to tell me. I’d like to ask for your vote, if you think Charlie and I are worthy, in the contemporary fiction category. It’s easy and you don’t have to vote for every single category, although the more votes you submit, the greater your chances to win some goodies, including a selection of the nominated books and a sweet, sweet $75 Amazon gift card. Just click here to go to the Rafflecopter page where you can vote. Scroll down to see the instructions and categories, and click on the category name to see the nominated books. (Note: Older versions of Internet Explorer don’t like Rafflecopter much, so if you use a different browser, it might work better.) A few of my author compadres were also nominated, so I hope you’ll check out the stellar work of Lynne Cantwell (Scorched Earth, nominated in Fantasy), DV Berkom (A One Way Ticket to Dead, nominated in Thrillers), Julie Frayn (Mazie Baby, nominated in Women’s Fiction), Donna Fasano (Following His Heart, nominated in Romance), Jackie Weger (No Perfect Secret, nominated in Romance), and Shawn Inmon (Rock ‘N’ Roll Heaven, nominated in Paranormal). Thank you for your time, and thank you for continuing to give independent authors a chance. Voting ends March 28.
Ever since it dawned on me some thirty years ago that the short story I was writing had the potential to be a novel, I’ve been an enthusiastic and dedicated pantser. I’d follow some interesting characters around, taking notes, until something resembling a narrative arc bubbled up. I’d follow that thread until the story was told and then on subsequent drafts, shape it together into a plot, like a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel. (And no, I did not just think about Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Okay, I did.) Continue reading
Another Friday, another two-minutes-go writing challenge over at JD Mader’s Unemployed Imagination site. We joke each week about “breaking the blog,” but I think this time we actually did it. Flash fiction bits were going up, comments followed, until…well, let’s just say that we kicked some serious interwebs. Here are three pieces I threw down. Hope you’ll pop over to that link and see some amazing writing by David Antrobus, Julie Frayn, Mark Morris, Ed Drury, Leland Dirks, Lynne Cantwell…hope I’m not leaving anyone out…and of course, our own wicked awesome Pied Piper. Enjoy. As always, lightly edited for your protection.
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Happy Monday! I’ve been invited to join the “My Writing Process” blog tour by the wise and witty Lynne Cantwell, an author with a background in journalism and a compelling interest in Native American cultures, mythology, and knitting cool things that look like star maps. If you don’t know Lynne, you should. Please visit her website to learn more about her and her books. Continue reading
It seems fitting that I post this on Thursday, because Lynne posts a review each week for her “Rursday Reads.” Here’s my review for her just-released Undertow, the second book in her new Land-Sea-Sky series.
The second book in Lynne Cantwell’s Land-Sea-Sky trilogy digs deeper into the characters introduced in the first installment. (And if you’ve missed it, or if it’s been a while since you read the first, she includes a really helpful recap.) The tension between and among Tess, Sue, and Darrell in the aftermath of the events of Book One is palpable. Sue’s jealousy that every man she meets seems to like Tess first is poignant and well drawn. I could really identify with her. Tess has her own insecurities, especially the inability to accept the guidance of her goddess, Morrigan. Darrell tries to balance his Potawatomi medicine-man background and his new warrior persona after an attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife fails. I especially like Darrell’s journey in the series so far, with his trickster god Nanabush by his side giving him…well, sometimes advice that makes sense, and some Darrell can only scratch his head at as he tries to do the right thing.
Among the many reasons I liked this book is that the humans are so wonderfully human and so well portrayed. They aren’t always sure of themselves. They try to do what they think is best; they have doubts. So I felt relieved along with Tess and Sue when a new assignment in Virginia Beach pulls Darrell away from the house the three share, giving them all some much-needed space. But the human interaction is only one layer of this story. With her journalistic and precise writing style, Ms. Cantwell twists together a possible terrorist crisis (and a powerful hurricane barreling their way) with the personal lives of three engaging main characters and the divine entities who assist them. Well done, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion.
Some of you may know this already, but among the world of indie authors, getting a review from BigAl’s Books and Pals is no small accomplishment. According to statistics released by the site, “In the twelve months ending February 28th, 2014, BigAl and the Pals will have received over 1,400 books to consider for review and published 368 book reviews.”
I’m wicked excited that one of those titles was mine: Sliding Past Vertical has been selected as one of the books they felt stood out as an exceptional example of indie writing. (Their words, not mine, and they’re enough to make a girl mix up a pitcher of virtual margaritas and dance. No, not on the pole. Not since the last time.)
Anyway…B&P divided these books into thirteen categories. Sliding Past Vertical has been nominated for Contemporary/General Fiction. Starting now, you can vote for your favorites in each category. If you think the book is worthy, I hope you’ll swing by and give me your vote; I’d appreciate your support. Thank you! Voting enters you into a drawing for some cool prizes, and I hope you win!
Voting automatically enters you into B&P’s giveaway. You can learn all about that here. Voting ends at midnight, March 12, and final results will be announced the morning of Wednesday, March 15. Winners get a shiner badge and some cool exposure on the B&P website. Exposure (not the kind when you’re swinging around on the pole) for indie authors is a really good thing.
Some of my friends and colleagues have also been nominated. Lynne Cantwell’s Tapped, the third book in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, has been nominated in the Fantasy category.
DV Berkom’s wild ride, Yucatan Dead, sixth book in the Kate Jones series, was nominated in the Thrillers category.
Good luck to all the nominees and remember that if you vote, you can win!
[Voting notes: The form doesn’t like Internet Explorer. Once you click on this link that takes you to the site, log in with Facebook or your email address. Click on the downward-facing arrow in each category to see the books nominated. Click the open circle to the left to make your selection and “Enter” to register the vote. Clicking on the title will give you more info about the book.]
First Chapters provides 1500-word excerpts from the work of twenty-two cutting-edge indie authors (well, twenty-one plus me!). Some of them are award-winning, some are bestselling, and they all, at one time, joined forces at IndiesUnlimited.com: a site dedicated to the indie author movement. This volume includes a wide array of genres and unique voices. From elegant vampires to former assassins, from drama to comedy, from science fiction to nonfiction, you’ll find something to please every palate, along with brief author bios and a purchase link, should you decide to read more.
Why did we do this? Because sometimes the “look inside” feature of a book you’re interested in buying online isn’t enough. You might have to wade through a bunch of front matter, leaving only a page or two of the story. How frustrating is that, especially if you’re looking at a number of books?
This volume includes first chapters from authors DV Berkom, Melissa Bowersock, Laurie Boris, K.S. Brooks, Lynne Cantwell, Martin Crosbie, Jim Devitt, A.C. Flory, Yvonne Hertzberger, Stephen Hise, Mark Jacobs, Chris James, LA Lewandowski, TD McKinnon, Rich Meyer, Melissa Pearl, Lin Robinson, Kathy Rowe, Carolyn Steele, Krista Tibbs, Dick Waters, and Carol Wyer.
I hope you enjoy it.
Here is some handy linkage:
But it’s a website where you can offer free e-copies of your book—plus a choice of goodies you can pony up for a giveaway—in exchange for an honest review. We indie authors are often looking for reviews, because it’s not like the New York Times Book Review is taking our calls. Yet.
Anyway, after learning about Story Cartel from book reviewer Big Al of Big Al’s Books and Pals, my friend and fellow Indies Unlimited minion, author Lynne Cantwell and I decided to give the website a test drive.
So I’m trying this with Don’t Tell Anyone.
If you would like a free copy (it’s available in mobi, epub, and PDF formats), in exchange for an honest review, please check out my page for the details. Or http://storycartel.com/books/153/dont-tell-anyone/ if you’d like to share the link with friends.
And maybe the indie authors in the house would like to sign up and give it a try with their own books. Similar to many other services like this one, Story Cartel offers a basic free service and an upgrade if you want to pay for the bells and whistles, which include pushing your message out to their database of followers.
I’m test-driving the basic service. I’m curious to see how this will work, especially since they’re only giving me 20 days to get my message out!
Thank you for your continued support, gang.
Once again, Lynne Cantwell has kept me up past my bedtime with Fissured, the second book in her Pipe Woman Chronicles, just because I needed to know what happened next. Blending into the evolution of the relationships between the characters from the first book is a storyline about hydrofracturing, or “fracking.” [A subject close to my sensibilities because we’re fighting it here in New York.] This was woven into the story in an organic way, so it didn’t feel preachy to me. Adding to the strain of the budding relationship between Naomi and Joseph is a potential spanner in the works in documentary filmmaker Jack Rivers. I like these characters. I really like the interplay between the “real” characters and their fantasy doppelgangers, and I love Naomi’s friendship with Shannon. What worked so nicely in the first book—Naomi’s wit and cynicism at being dropped into this world with a huge weight on her shoulders—still works here. I’m eager to keep reading!
I expected to enjoy Seized, the first book in Lynne Cantwell’s Pipe Woman Chronicles, because I am a fan of Ms. Cantwell’s direct, journalistic writing style and wry wit from her Indies Unlimited blog posts. What I didn’t expect was that Seized kept me up late several nights in a row because it was so hard to stop reading. The story started easily in the realm of the familiar, with Naomi, a smart mediator who seems to have it all: the powerful job, the handsome boyfriend, and the best friend who understands her better than she understands herself. But wait…we know that nothing comes easily in fiction without consequence. So things twist up a bit when said best friend urges her to tag along on a New Age adventure. Several rounds in a sweat lodge release more than perspiration, including a visit from White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, a mysterious Native American spirit that weaves in and around Naomi’s life, tasking her with a near-impossible challenge for a mediator…no, for anyone. Lynne’s writing style (and choice of first-person narration) is key here. I became deeply invested in Naomi’s future, and the author rides a nice, believable, and relatable line between the protagonist’s cynicism with the happenings around her and her faith that it’s all for a greater good. The story is smart and thought provoking, the fantasy element sophisticated and well integrated into the storyline. Never did I feel that this was fantasy with a story attached or vice versa. It just worked so well. I’m eager to read the rest of the series.