Good News! The Latest Reviews Are All Positive!

picture by tt83x at deviantART
picture by tt83x at deviantART

Well, well, well… you remember when you were young and things weren’t exactly going your way? Remember how your parents would tell you to hang on and wait because things would only get better? Or perhaps you had one of those cheery optimistic friends who’d constantly tell you that things are always darkest before they turned to light. Not to be over dramatic, but I felt myself in need of that kind of advice awhile back.

And now, I feel like it’s paid off, because for once I got some good news on the review front that was all positive. As I had hoped, it seems that the 2nd edition of Whiskey Delta has been absorbed by the reading community and the returns are coming back positive! Two more reviews have been added to the queue, one a four star and the other a five! The net effect of this has been to push the overall review of Whiskey Delta up to 3.4 stars (though it looks like 3.5 on the book’s listing).

But what I’m most happy about was that there were people who had just “good book” or “good read” to say, without all the additional remarks about editing and proofreading. In fact, out of a total of twenty, only two reviews actually came back negative on the story itself. Most people who gave it two or three stars said they liked the story, it was just the technical errors that bothered them.

Not so much here. Here’s what the latest reviewers had to say:

(5.0 out of 5 stars) Great read:
Great story about soldiers doing solider business. I recommend it to anyone who likes this type of book. Waiting for the next one!


(4.0 out of 5 stars) A great read:
Lots of action like the way he made me feel as if I was there in the middle of the action. Looking forward to more.


Not too wordy, but that’s fine by me. In short, they liked it, and wanted a sequel. And I thank them for it. This is the stuff authors yearn to hear, the stuff that makes the effort feel like it was worth it and which encourages them to keep writing. And to all my fellow indies out there, especially those I know personally, I hope that you too are getting your share of positive reviews. Lord knows we need this kind of thing, don’t we?

Competition is fierce, the market is being flooded and publishing houses are simply not taking risks on new authors as much as they used to. Every additional star and positive review we earn translates to more sales and more recognition!

Go indies! Peace out!

New Cover Selected!

Pappa_Zulu2Well the votes are in, and by a margin of six to two, the third cover for Papa Zulu has beaten out all other contenders. And while I waiting, I managed to updated it a little, placing a few excerpts from the positive reviews the first book got on the back cover of the jacket. And so, when the second book hits the bookshelves in a few weeks, it will look like what you see above.

I also took the time to update the Whiskey Delta page over on the left there to show the book’s info. Now, whenever a new book is added, the publication date and a link will be added so people will know when it came out and where to buy it. As for those that are still in progress, there will be a projected publication date so people know when to expect it. Obviously, everything after the first two is still TBD for the time being, but give it time…

Oh, and I also came up with names and themes for the other books in the series. After Whiskey Delta and Papa Zulu, there’s Alpha Mike, which is already in production. Then there’s Hotel Tango, the proposed fourth installment which will be followed by the fifth and final book in the series, Zulu Alpha.

Stay tuned for updates! I’m not done with this zombie craze yet. And speaking of which, I got some new characters to announce. Stay tuned for the latest additions to the Zombie Warrior challenge as well…

Whiskey Delta, 2nd Edition!

zombie-wallpaperWell let me start by saying that Whiskey Delta continues to do well. And though the sales appear to be slowing down a bit, the overall number has just passed 900 copies! Good news, but in truth, I am concerned that interest is waning and I can’t help but wonder if the mixed reviews are to blame. After a total of ten, the overall rating is now at a 3.4 out of 5 stars, which puts it in the good, but not great section.

So here’s what some of the latest reviewers have had to say on the subject of the 1st edition. As you can see, it was more of the same:

J. York (3.0 out of 5 stars):
As others have said, i enjoyed the story itself but stumbled a lot in the reading due to the editing. It didn’t read smoothly as there were so many words misspelled and put in the wrong part of a sentence. As i said, I totally liked the plot but found the flow of it hard to read.

Bob Gawler (3.0 out of 5 stars):
The plot and story were actually pretty good, but the edititing let the store down. Too many grammatical and spelling errors.

Can’t help but notice some typos in these comments, glaring ones too. I know, I need to stop mocking commenters who are just being honest. But the irony, man, the irony! Ah, but then there was this one, which was the second five star review this book earned:

Rosie Reader (5.0 out of 5 stars):
This is a really gripping read; awesome story, great characters. Yes, there were typos, but the story kept the pages turning quickly. Great work Matthew S. Williams!
I’m looking forward to the next one.

That makes for a grand total of two 5 star reviews, three 4 star reviews, 2 three star reviews, and 2 two star reviews; which as I said, averages out to a total of 3.4 stars out of 5. Like I said, good, but not great.

Luckily, as the title suggests, my wife and I finally finished work on the 2nd edition of Whiskey Delta, the one that doesn’t have so many typos and errors. Yes, after a few short weeks of tinkering, the process of creating a novel that I can truly be proud of is finally complete. Good thing too, because I can’t take another comment about how my “story is good but it desperately needs editing”!

And of course, now that the 2nd edition is complete, I will be getting to work on turning Papa Zulu, the second installment in the series, into an typo=free, error-proof manuscript. Then I will be making it available on Amazon-Kindle for all to see. May it receive a greater reception than the first…

Even More News!

Good_News_EveryoneWhiskey Delta, my zombie apocalypse-themed indie novel, has just sold over 750 copies! What’s more, another good review has come in, once again pushing the overall rating up a bit. And of course, they hit on the usual points:

Good Book (4.0 out of 5 stars)
Great story with interesting people. Spell was poorly done and many editing issues were present. Would like a sequel

Rest assured, Pappa Zulu, the sequel to Whiskey Delta, will be coming in just a few short months. Obviously, I need to finish my work on WD’s second edition, and then give the next installment a full and thorough edit. And if there’s time left over, I hope to have Alpha Mike finished before 2014 begins. Fast times!

Oh, and I do hope the good news continues. As it adds up, you can expect to see less of these constant updates!

More News!

zombie_graveyardGood morning all! Once more, I have some good news from the world of publishing and zombie writing! First up, my newest book to hit the shelves, Whiskey Delta, has just passed 650 sales. Woohoo and woohoo! And yet, I am mourning the fact that the people I dedicated it to are unable to read it yet. C’mon people, you got to get on that! Uh, but you might want to wait until I finish with all the edits.

Speaking of which, the creation of Whiskey Delta’s 2nd edition is coming along nicely. My trusty editor and I have polished the first quarter of the book, which seems to account for the majority of the typos and errors.  But of course, we won’t stop until it’s done. And then I plan to get on the second installment and make sure it is in prime shape before it’s release. I am hoping it is received well, since the sequel came up in more than one review.

And in other news, I just bought a copy of World War Z. It only seems fair that I read the book of the man who got me off my ass and made me publish this work (with Rami’s help of course). It was actually during a conversation with a teaching colleague of mine that I finally decided to buy a copy. I was telling her about my story, and she brought up Max Brooks. As I waited for her to finish, I began chuckling to myself. She paused asked me what was so funny, to which I replied “you’re going to laugh”.

I then proceeded to tell her how a friend of mine (hi again Rami!) mentioned me to Max Brooks and how he went on to mention my name and the name of my story in his speech. She laughed, and then told me exactly how awesome his book is. I’m only a few sections into it, but I can tell you she was right. The book is a work of genius, much as the reviews would have us all believe. If y0u”re looking for a good read and a twist on the zombie apocalypse, I say invest in a copy!

Dealing with Mixed Reviews

thumbs upEvery writer knows that bad reviews are a part of the trade. But what do you do when the bad is mixed in with the good? Aren’t mixed messages kind of worse than consistently bad ones? Well, that’s what I’m wondering as I peruse some collected reviews of my books, as posted on Amazon. Some of them only came to my attention by accident, as I happened to be cruising by not long ago, and I must have turned my prompts off.

In any case, here are some of the reviews, good and bad, that came in with regards to Source, my first indie-published work. As you can see, the first one wasn’t so good, ranking the book at a mediocre three out five stars. The second is from Katy “Obsessive bibliophile” Sozaeva, a pro reader/reviewer who specializes in evaluating indie works, which was posted over a year ago. Compare if you will:


Inventive and Imaginative, but Scientifically Flawed. I read this with some enjoyment, I admit. But that pleasure was diminished somewhat by the nagging voice that kept saying, “That wasn’t necessary/easiest/realistic.” It happened in just too many places for it to be assuaged by simply pushing the “I believe” button.

Entertaining and enlightening sci-fi story. The Earth and its colonies are running out of water. The government, left with no options, decides to hedge its bets by creating a colony ship and sending off the best and brightest to colonize the stars, while at home strict rationing and a lottery system to decide who should live and who should die will be instituted. Millions will die, either of thirst or through…

Not exactly consistent is it? And consider this: the first review seemed to have far more of an impact than the second. When Katy reviewed my work and looked on it kindly, I honestly filed it in the “Oh, she’s nice” category. On the other hand, the semi-negative review hit me where I live. It actually made me consider pulling it from the shelf and putting a stop on its sequels.


And then consider this review from one of the short stories in my Legacies series, otherwise known as Eyes in the Dark. This story I began years back and completed for NaNoWriMo 2011. Some initial opinions I got on it were quite good, all from my writer’s group, but I was happy to see a positive review posted on a professional site:

I liked the story. It had a convincing science fiction scenario and an intriguing dilemma at the core of the plot. I liked the characters, which always helps. I’d recommend this book and read any others Matthew’s written.

I liked that review, especially the last line since it might actually lead to a rise in sales! But I have to admit, I was surprised by it seeing as how I felt the entire thing was a bit rushed and hurriedly written. As it’s writer, I am abundantly aware of its flaws and I keep waiting for someone to say the same bad things that I fear they will notice.

LiabilityOh, and I should also mention the one review which haunts me to this day. It had to do with this oldie, a short known as Liability which I wrote back in 2005. Since I merged it with another short, I can no longer find the review on Amazon anymore. However, I do seem to remember the general nature of it, which ought to tell you something!

The story is nothing special. The ending is a fairy tale of course and is totally unrealistic, but if you’re looking for a cheap read, it’s worth the price.

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. Harsh huh? And the worst part of it is, I took it seriously. And even though that review was one of five that were quite favorable, I still seem to put more stock in it than the others. Here’s what these other people said, just to be inclusive:

Grabs your attention immediately. Is well written IMHO.

It’s a well conceived and beautifully delivered novel. I wish it has more pages for a more lasting reading.

Good story. Gets you wrapped up in the action right away and doesn’t stop till the end.

Don’t look behind you when you read this novel, they may be watching you. thoroughly enjoyable reading.

And I can imagine what seem people would say, since I’ve said it enough time myself to know it word for word. “Hey, [insert your name here], you can’t please everybody. And there’s always going to be idiots and haters. You can’t take what they say seriously.” Yeah, but when it’s me, I say the words, but I don’t feel it. Somehow, the bad reviews always see to make more sense and leave the lasting mark.

So I put it to all the other indie writers, artists and authors out there. What is it about negative feedback that we find just so believable? Why do we treat positive reviews (I’m assuming it’s not just me) as if they are obligatory or motivated by the desire to not hurt our feelings? Are good reviews only meaningful if they come from people who are usually cruel and hard to impress?

I don’t know… All I know is, I want to get better. And the appearance of a single bad review makes me want to work harder and convince them of my worth as a writer. Funny, considering that if it were a friend of mine being poorly reviewed, I’d be telling them they rock, and telling the haters: “Screw you, with some sexual harassment on top!”

Anybody else got mixed reviews to share? This experience feels somehow cathartic and I recommend it highly. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your bottom line. Hardly anybody reads this site anyway 😉

200,000 Hits!

inspirationWell, well… another milestone has come, and it seems I missed it by about 48 hours! And that was after over a week of waiting for it to come. I am referring not only to reaching over 200,000 views, but also to the fact this blog is reaching the end of its second year. Just two months to go, and storiesbywilliams will be two! Ah well, I’m here now, and there are a few things I want to say to mark this occasion. Well, for starters, I would like to say thank you once again to all the people who have come by and made this milestone happen.

And then there’s the people who come by more than once, and on purpose. Those people deserves a thank you too! And third, there are the people who’ve come by, stuck around, and even offered supportive comments. Those people deserve an extra special thank you! Were it not of the enduring and consistent support of you fine folks – and you know who you are! – this blog would have flopped and gone under a long time ago.

fireworks2Yes, I know it seems like I’ve said this many times over now, but that’s the thing about marking milestones. They tend to kind of build up after the first few. First there’s your first 100 views, then 500, then 1000. After that, the milestones become fewer and farther between. But until you get into six or seven figures, they are likely to happen quite often. But I want to space things out a bit more, so I promise not to say anything until I reach 500,000 views.

Zombie_Apocalypse_by_geodexSo lets see, what’s next for this site? Well, I just published Data Miners, that was good, especially after three years of being in development. Pappa Zulu is also nearing completion, which will be nice because I plan to take that opportunity to go back, edit Whiskey Delta, and then release it! I foresee a zombie-fighting trilogy emerging, so stay tuned for more on that (still need a name for the third one though).

And of course, there’s Yuva, which needs to get finished and go through a full-on edit. And somewhere in between all that, I plan to restart my old idea, Apocrypha, my first real attempt at speculative sci-fi that wasn’t set in the distant future. Man, these next few months are going to be busy!

apoc_soldiersAnd I hope you all stick around to see what happens. And of course, I promise to remain a committed follower and viewer of what you have to say and will consider myself flattered that you choose to involve me in your adventures, stories and creative processes. After all, sharing makes for a more richer life experience, if for no other reason than because it lets us know we’re not alone.

This is what we do, people, and this is why we do it!

What Else Is On…

Well, that was helpful. And by that, I mean making an extensive reading list. However, my lists don’t end there. Neither does my affliction, known as literary ADD. In addition to the books I need to finish, there’s also quite the list of stories I need to finish writing. It seemed only fitting and appropriate that I make a separate list pertaining to them.

You see, when it comes to writing projects for myself, there are two categories. First, there are the short-term projects, the stuff that needs to be generated right now and finished in the not-too-distant future. Then there are the long-term projects, the things that have been ongoing. These projects can take years to reach completion, assuming they don’t lose my interest and fall into the inbox dustbin. Of the former category, I can think of four things that need to get done:

  1. Winston Agonistes: My submission for the Yuva anthology novel. This story is told from the point of view of a synthetic human (i.e. an AI) who is responsible for assisting with the day to day functions of the Yuva planetary council. His gift is a social science known as Ethical Calculus, a means of calculating the values of decisions based on their practical and ethical implications. In time, he comes to learn the truth about the settlement of Yuva and just what implications their long-term plans will have for the native life.
  2. Whiskey Delta: This is my ongoing web story involving the Zombie Apocalypse and the men who are fighting hard to beat it back in New Mexico in the near future. Told from several points of view,  , the story tells the tale of the Counterattack, the assault led by the enigmatic Major General Thur (“The Mage”) to retake the country and beat back the undead hordes.
  3. Crashland: Another ongoing web serial where audiences get to vote on the outcomes they want to see. So far, the story involves the unleashing of infopocalypse on the world, the path of former CEO William Holden as he found his way to the Exigencies special operatives, and their culminating efforts to rebuild civilization.
  4. Data Miners: And of course, my ongoing efforts to finish editing my full-length novel about hackers, cryptology, security and surveillance in the age of the internet. For months now, this story has been burning a hole on my desk, consuming many hours of re-reading and editing time, but always seeming to require more. Dangit, I hate editing my own work. It’s like a hole into which creative energy and time disappear!

As for long term stuff, well you’re better off only hearing about the more immediate ones. The rest can just sit there until I get bored! Too many ideas to occupy my short-term/long-term plans as it is.

  1. Fortress: The sequel to Source, the story of overpopulation, survival and the fight against extinction in the distant future. In this installment, things begin to go truly awry as humanity finds itself united between two disparate factions that are forced to come together to fight an even greater extra-terrestrial threat known as the Beast. However, as the war drags on and conditions worsen at home, people begin to turn against each other in the name of something just as important as survival. This story has been in the works for awhile and is nearing completion, but then again, Source has been out in paperback for some time too. It’s not going anywhere, so this is something I feel I can return to every now and then and not worry too much about.
  2. Data Pirates: The sequel to Data Miners, where the story takes a turn down a dark alley and deals with the world of anarchists, cyberterrorism and the development of Future Soldier technology. I’ve hammered out the first few chapters to this one, but since the first book is still in development, I’ve felt safe to put it down. Hoping to remedy that by getting the first one done and out there!
  3. Apocrypha: Here’s an idea several years old which still kicks around in my mind from time to time. Basically, this book combined two thematic elements which I’ve been obsessed with in the last few years. One is the concept of democratic anarchy, and how technology may very well be bringing up into an age where that is feasible. The second is the Technological Singularity, and how humanity reaching a threshold of consciousness scares some to the point where they would want to forcibly regress. I’ve written at least half of this book, trashed it, and then began rewriting it. Soon enough, I hope to resurrect it and redo it in full, since much of the same concepts are at work in Crashlands and seems to be working there.
  4. Legacies: Now this is the oldest of the old! This is my first full-length novel to never be published. Way back when, before I knew what self-publishing was, I created the manuscript to classically inspired sci-fi novel set in the distant future and paid a company to print copies. Then… nothing happened! Yes, for years, the copies floated around and were circulated to my friends, but not one saw the light of day outside my family and friendship circle. It remains a project which I have yet to commit to the public for reading, mainly because I feel I’ve matured to the point that it needs a big rewrite. I still love the idea of it, just not the way I went about writing it. Huxley called this the “chronic remorse” of writer’s, but to me, it’s too symbolic of all my rookie mistakes a writer, things I’ve since learned to do without. We’ll see if it ever pops up again.

Wow, seen back to back, this list is actually a lot more daunting than my reading list. Maybe putting things into list form isn’t such a good idea, just reminds you of all the stuff you need to do. Ah, what can you do? Not thinking about them doesn’t make them go away. And frankly, if I organized myself along these lines sooner, I might not have so much stuff in my inbox. But of course, any time it seems overwhelming, I just have to remind myself that no one is paying me to do this. That always make me feel… a million times worse! 😉

50,000 Hits!

photo by tt83x at deviantART

Well wouldn’t you know it, another milestone has happened this week and I almost missed it! Yes, today, after roughly two years and four months of keeping this blog up, I passed the 50,000 mark! Woooooo! Yay for me! And yay for the people who have nothing better to do than read my thoughts. I would pity you, but right now I’m too happy!

Of course, I would like to thank all those people who have chosen to follow me since this blog first went up. But according to my stock ticker, that’s like a thousand people. So instead of naming names and risk leaving anyone out, let me just send a grand digital hug out there and hope everyone catches some of it.

However, I must thank one person, Mr. Fraser Cain over at who inspired me to start this blog in the first place. It was he who convinced me to bring my message directly to the good people and avoid the needlessly long and inopportune process of waiting on a publisher. And so I take this opportunity to thank him for all the good stuff that has come of it. Thanks Fraser, hope to see you and the family again soon!

And of course, I would also like to take this opportunity to say that there’s still lots of work to be done. Though I could pack up now and say I’ve explored the crap out of the world of sci-fi, the real point of this site is to share ideas, promote my and others’ works of literature, and make connections with people. I can’t foresee that ending any time soon, nor would I want to. The work and connecting must go on!

And I look forward to it. I’ve made many great friends and been able to liaise with many great talents since I got here. So why stop now? I want to success, I want to be able to share it with people. Yes, I totally plan to let it go to my head, but I also plan on spreading the good fortune around. You might want to be there, just in case… 😉 Thanks you all and let’s keep this ball rolling!

Thanks Twitterers!

I recently noticed that some of my buds here have been sharing my articles over on Twitter quite regularly. I can only assume that they did this out of sheer awesomeness, and that in doing so they sent some more traffic my way. As such, I want to thank those responsible. So thank you to the following people (and their twitter handles):

Cassie Hynds (@CassieHynds) – erotic fiction writer and critic who frequently includes me in her “awesome author” posts. Don’t know what she sees in my humble sci-fi blog, but who am I to complain?
Goran Zidar (@GZidar)
– my colleague over at Grim5Next and a fellow writer. His YA, paranormal works can also be found on Story, which by the way he is the creator of!
Vanessa Howe (@geekinacardigan)
– fellow geek, sci-fi enthusiast, and Firefly acolyte who seems to appreciate this stuff even more than I do. Didn’t think that was possible, but again, can’t complain! Good to have such people in my corner.
khaalidah (@khaalidah)
– mother, wife, and fellow writer and colleague over at Grim5Next who’s cross cultural insights and personal touch with her writing puts me in awe. As a working mother, she often asks other writers where we find the time. Me? I wonder how SHE finds the time to produce these gems!
Nina D’Arcangela (@Sotet_Angyal)
– a horror writer and the woman behind Siren’s Call Publications, she’s also a colleague over Grim5Next, not to mention the woman who beta’d my contribution to our anthology. She’s a talent scout people, put in a good word for me!
Maureen Hovermale (@zencherry)
– writer, reviewer, voracious reader, this woman does it all and has the scars (and writer’s callouses, apparently) to prove it! I hope to keep garnering her attention, she sounds like she could worth impressing!

An extra shout out to all those who have given me any kind of promotion or reblogged me over the last two years. You’re a cornerstone of the edifice known as DIY writing! I hope I can return the favor someday. Like my pa always says, “It’s takes about 20 years to become an overnight success.” So my philosophy is, any breaks we can give each other are golden! So thank you all for and good luck in all your endeavors!