The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

The Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

Well, it seems that I have been roped into another challenge. Somehow, I thought these days were behind me the moment I began using this site strictly for professional reasons – you know, like book releases and promotions. However, when a friend and colleague nominates you, you got to step up! And hey, this challenge seems kind of fun and it is a way for writers (and aspiring writers) to share their influences.

Okay, so here are the rules of this challenge!

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Okay, so my first act is to say thanks to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my selection for the challenge, the time-honored classic 1984.

1984_cover

I know, I know, everybody claims that 1984 is their favorite book, and apparently it is the novel that people lie about having read the most. But I actually have read it, three times now, and I can say without hesitation or doubt that it is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

The book was initially recommended to me by one of my high-school English teachers (Mr. David Gamble). He taught us Post-Colonial Literature and 1984 wasn’t on our syllabus, nor was it part of the senior English curriculum that year. But as he put it, this was a book that we all needed to read before we went off to college, university or whatever else we were doing with our lives. It would change the way we saw the world, he said.

That summer, I borrowed a copy from my mother and began digging into it. At first, I was only able to read a few pages at a time since I typically read before bed and had an early morning job that summer (like most summers when I was a student, I was working construction). However, I took the book camping with me and managed to finish reading it in a few sittings. I was so engrossed that I stayed up late just so I could finish it. And when I was done, I felt haunted, moved, inspired, and terrified all at once!

Needless to say, Mr. Gamble had been right, it DID change the way I saw the world! And twice more since University I’ve gone back to the book to re-read it with more appreciative and mature eyes. I even keep a list of quotes from the book that have had an enduring impact on me. All of them are taken from the Goldstein Manifesto, which (lesser-known fact) was the part of the novel Orwell wrote first. In this respect, the Manifesto is the part of the novel where Orwell is speaking directly to his audience, conveying his thoughts on history, politics, and human evolution:

“From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, over-work, dirt, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations.”

“But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction – indeed, in some sense was the destruction – of a hierarchical society.”

“In earlier ages, class distinctions has not only been inevitable but desirable. Inequality was the price of civilization. With the development of machine production, however, the case was altered.Even if it was still necessary for human beings to do different kinds of work, it was no longer necessary for them to live at different social or economic levels. Therefore, from the point of view of the new groups who were on the point of seizing power, human equality was no longer an ideal to be striven after, but a danger to be averted.”

“In more primitive ages, when a just and peaceful society was in fact not possible, it had been fairly easy to believe it… But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable.”

See? Still holds up even after all these years!

Okay, now it’s my turn to nominate someone, and I choose Fallacious Rose from butimbeautiful.com! I’ve always found her to be a very interesting woman and would like to hear what books have spoken to her over the years.

Good Zombie-Related News Everyone!

shutterstock_107588285Good evening all! I hope this August weekend finds you all happy, safe and having fun in the sun. But never mind that right now, I got some good news to share! For several months now, I have been trying to get Whiskey Delta placed on Goodread’s Listopia – a place where people can list their favorite works by genre.

And with a little push from some of my Goodreads friends, it finally happened! As of the writing of this post, it is placed at #220 on a list of 1139 original works. This list expands all the time as people vote to have their favorite works included, and books move up with each added vote.

If you have time, access, and would like to help a zombie fiction-writing indie writer out, here’s the link:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/933.Zombies_?page=3

Just scan the page for #220 (I will post again if it moves up in the queue) and vote for this humble work of fiction which I am working so hard to pimp out!

Papa Zulu’s 2nd Five Star Review!

papa_zuluWell folks, Papa Zulu has now been available through Amazon.com for just over a month. And thus far, two reviews have come in, and both are both highly favorable! I tell ya, it pays off to hold back on publication so you can make sure that everything is nicely polished and edited. And while I’m still waiting on a few more people to chime in on what they thought about the book, I am pretty happy with what people had to say so far.

Here are the reviews, with some minor omissions to make sure no spoilers were included:

(5.0 stars) So Good
By Rosie Reader

Lots of action and excitement once again; a great follow-up to Whiskey Delta! I hope there is another one in the series because I want more.

(5.0 stars) Excellent Sequel!
By S.O. “SO” (NY)

What can I say about this….except it’s an incredible follow up to Whiskey Delta! I almost wish I’d given WD a lower rating, just so I could rate this a higher one LOL. It picks up pretty much where book 1 left off, but it is written in such a way that if you didn’t read WD you wouldn’t be too lost. It’s not so much about the zombies this time, but the aftermath of that and the internal conflicts both within the Army and within each person.

(Spoiler, spoiler, spoiler)…

There are a few loose ends where the end of the book is concerned and to quote Braun “this can’t be the end…there has to be more…” His relationship with Saunders is brought to attention, there’s a traitor (or 2) in their midst, and his platoon might have a new leader.

You can check the full reviews by going to the books Amazon page, but I warn you, they do contain spoilers! And it might just be a coincidence, but I did notice a slight uptick in sales since the second review came in. So far, Papa Zulu has sold some 13 copies since publication, and Whiskey Delta and the unrelated Data Miners have even made some added sales. So, for obvious reasons, I am pretty happy right now.

And to my fellow indies, keep hammering those keys and pushing those books! Every copy we sell is a small victory and every favorable review is a big one. After all, that’s why we got into this business, isn’t it? To share what we love, think, and what inspires us, in the hopes that other people draw from it the same things we do.

2014’s Master To-Do List

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersWith this year in full swing and the events of 2013 now a memory, I thought it was high time to take stock of everything I need to do in the coming twelve months. As always, I got a lot of projects in the works and plenty of things I want to get done, some of which I was supposed to be finished with already. And I seem to recall mentioning a few of these items in the course of my New Year’s resolutions…

So here goes…

1. Finish Editing Papa Zulu and Release It:
Now this is one I’ve been letting linger for quite some time! Originally, I had hoped to have this book ready a year ago, but editing has proven to be a more arduous process than previously expected. However, I got my trusty and professional editor (hi Leslie!) in my corner, and she’s editing both it and Whiskey Delta. So sometime before the Spring season hits us, I plan to release the one and re-release the other. It will be a kind of one-two, launch/relaunch combo!

2. Edit Fast Forward and Release it:
Back in April of 2013, I penned a number of short stories for the A to Z Challenge. Since that time, I’m coalesced the best stories, added a few extras from over the years, and created a volume of futuristic tales that I named “Fast Forward”. And with my membership over at Shutterstock.com, I also prepped a new and eyepopping cover that I think will get some attention once its published. But before that can happen, I need to go through it again and make sure its all cleaned up.

FlashForward_2

3. Bring Yuva Anthology to Completion:
Khaalidah and I – a friend and fellow indie writer over at Writer’s Worth – started this anthology of space travel and colonization two years ago. At first, we found ourselves joined by several friends and respected colleagues who also wanted to see the project come to fruition. But after several months of initial progress, things began to slow down and linger.

But I’m pleased to say that in the past few weeks, things have really picked up again. Owing to a full-court press to recruit new talent, we have just about all our stories accounted for and I’m waiting for drafts from all the participants. It would be really nice if we could get this book – a tribute to Ray Bradbury and a tale that is more relevant than ever now – finished by the end of the year.

Yuva_cover

4. Finish Reading List and Review Them:
Yeah, my reading list is, as always glutted and filled with stuff I was supposed to have finished a long time ago. It seemed to take me forever to finish reading World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks. And now that that’s finished, I am hoping to finish the last three books that I have started but not finished, and then move on to the many other novels on my nightstand.

These books include Accelerando by Charles Stross, a story about this century that is required reading for anyone trying to write about the Technological Singularity; We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, the quintessential dystopian tale about social engineering, failed utopias, and the inspiration behind such classics as 1984 and (arguably) Brave New World. And last, but certainly not least, The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones by Rami Ungar.

we_zamyatinAnd when I’m done all those books, which I’ve been reading simultaneously and in bursts, I can move on to Ready Player One, The Giver, and Back To The Front, an account of one man’s walking tour of the battlefields of World War I. Hey, I don’t just deal in science fiction, you know!

And with all that done and put away with, maybe the wife and I can finally find a bigger place, which is something we’ve been working on for some time. And of course, there will be the walking tour that we will be doing with my family this coming April. I need to do some research to prepare for that, and you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll be hearing about it too!

So yeah, 2014 is shaping up to be an eventful year. I hope it proves to be as productive and enjoyable as I hope, and that you all get what you want from it as well. Take care and Happy New Year!

Papa Zulu Proof Ordered!

papa_zuluStep two semi-complete! After finishing my edits on Papa Zulu, I have gone ahead and ordered a proof copy so that my darling wife (i.e. chief editor) can give it a second pass. I’ve also sent the PDF off to my beta readers/other editors, so they too can tell me exactly what’s wrong with it and why I should stick to writing and avoid proofreading.

And while I was working on that, I fashioned a cover for the third book. All this work on book II, as expected, has gotten the ball rolling on book III. And as always, I feel the need to visualize the end product, even before I’ve committed to writing the manuscript. Once again, I’ve gone with a cover image from Shutterstock, which now provides the bulk of my cover art.

Oscar Mike_2What do you think? Too much green going on here? I really like this cover template because of the solid front cover, the watermarked back, and the balance created by the text boxes, images, and quote section. Can’t wait to get moving on that one too! I hope to augment as time goes on with more favorable reviews, which is what I did with the jacket for book II.

Good luck to all us indie writers! May the sales be plentiful, the reviews favorable, and the inspiration unending!

The Grand Old Word Count

sb10067155f-001A little while ago, I saw a challenge – not sure where, could have been Goodreads or Facebook – where indie authors were challenged to take all the stories they had written and tabulate a total word count for them. Like a lot of writing exercises, it was clearly designed to put things in perspective.

All too often, writers can get hung up on sales numbers or the total number of books they’ve managed to get out there. Especially for indies, these numbers can seem underwhelming or discouraging at times. So naturally, its fun to take a look at some bigger numbers and see just how much we’ve really shared, because that is what writing is all about right?

So I did my grand total. And just for some added perspective, here’s some other big numbers for comparison. The average person has a vocabulary of between 35,000 – 75,000 words*, depending on their age, level of education, and life experience. And in the course of a day, people speak between 7,000 and 20,000 words, depending on their gender (apparently, women speak more than men)**.

ar_storybookBetween Data Miners, Whiskey Delta, Papa Zulu (yet to be published, but is complete), my Legacies short stories, Source, my Yuva shorts, and other assorted tales I’ve put up on this site, my grand total of words is:

531,944 words published so far!

And that doesn’t include the countless words that are sitting in my Stories folder that haven’t been published yet. I’m telling you, there has to be at least 250,000 words between all those unfinished stories, novellas, and shorts. So I really can’t count those… yet!

word_cloudBut I would be remiss if I didn’t include the roughly 1250 articles I’ve published on this site. God only knows how many words I’ve spewed in those! Obviously, I’m not about to add them all up, but a random sampling of five articles put the average at about 2000 words each. Multiply that by 1250 articles and you’ve got… oh my God… 2.5 million words!

Okay, let’s upgrade that then to roughly 3.000.000 words published so far. So basically, in the two and half years that I’ve been running this blog, I’ve written the equivalent of what an average man speaks in the course 428 days straight, or the average woman does in 150 days. Is it me, or is that nuts?

And now I put it to you indie writers… between your indie published stories, blog, articles, short stories, novellas, full-length novels, and flash fiction, just how many words have you generated and shared with the world?

*bbc.co.uk

**dailymail.co.uk

Reviews Got You Down?

thumbs upIn a word. Yes.

Whiskey Delta has been racking up its share of reviews lately. Unfortunately for me, the majority of them have been rather punitive of late. Despite the release of the 2nd edition, a thoroughly cleansed and updated version of the story, the book continues to get slammed because of what I can only assume are the weaknesses to be found in the first edition.

In total, six people have added their reviews of the book in recent weeks, and four of those six gave it two stars out of five. And, as usual, three of those four had the same things to say, just worded differently:

Good story, bad editing.

You ever hear something so many times it lost all meaning to you? Or so many times that you swore the next person who said it would receive a thorough thrashing? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about these. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what they had to say:

Proofread!:
There is actually a decent story here, but it gets lost due to a strong need of proofreading. Needs more than just computer spell checking.

William Boyles

Good story, awful editing:
This is a solid zombie story – the story gets 3 or 4 stars – but give us a break with the sloppy editing. At least pretend to care about the finished product. The punctuation mistakes, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes make parts of the book unreadable and confusing. You have seen this complaint several times in the reviews – how hard is it to go through the book, clean it up, and re-post it? The author and publisher should be embarrassed by the condition of the editing. It is the worst I have ever seen in a purchased work.

Justins Are Cool

Good story, horrible editing:
The story itself is good enough to keep you engaged but the editing made it a chore to finish. Misspelled words, missing words, bad grammar all through out took so much away from this book.

Jackie L. Willis Jr. “waterboyjlw”

Ah, and check out this gem. This is the only thoroughly bad review Whiskey Delta has picked up since it was published. And for some reason, this person gave it the same rating as all those above who thought the story was good but the editing was bad. That seem right to you?

boring:
boring and poorly written. Story didn’t flow and there was no cohesive story line. I guess what can I expect for a couple bucks.

Gil L Nicholas

In truth, this wouldn’t bother me so much if these rating weren’t hurting sales, or if these early reviews weren’t weighing down the overall rating. As much as I wanted to believe that the publication of the 2nd Edition might be a fresh start, every review contributes to the overall rating. And now, the book’s overall review now stands at a middling 3.1 stars out of 5. At this rate, I’ll need at least half a dozen five star reviews just to bring it back up to something respectable.

Luckily for me, there’s been some light at the end of this tunnel. In the same stretch of time, two 4 star reviews came in. There was this one, which I can only assume was for the 1st edition, and from a person who didn’t choose to knock me a whole bunch of stars over editing issues:

good book
Great story with interesting people. Spell check was poorly done and many editing issues were present. Would like a sequel

-Light

And then there was this one, which actually sounded like it might be from the 2nd edition since editing didn’t even come up in the review. In fact, this person chose to focus on matters pertaining to the plot and story, God bless their hearts!

good read but…..
Interesting story, but how do they have so many new guys in their unit? Where are they getting the replacements??
Pro’s- The military isn’t completely useless, a strong female character, interesting story
Con’s- The story starts somewhere in the middle and ends before the story seems done.

-DawnG

So that’s where things stand for this book right now. More good news, an advance proof of Papa Zulu arrived the other day and I’m getting down to editing it. By the time it is spruced up, say in a month or so, I hope to deliver on a sequel that is clean and proper coming out of the gate!

Maybe then this bad mojo will dissipate and I can get to entertaining fantasies of becoming a successful author and writer, the kind that has money, power, and access to the depths of sleaze that these things provide! Well… I’ll settle for money and power, thank you very much! Until next time…

zombie_keepcalm