Monday, April 30, 2007

The Warrior Brothers by Eric Gordon Bainbridge


Title: Warrior Brothers
Author: Erik Gordon Bainbridge/ www.warriorbrothers.com
Price: $22.00, hardback; $11.86, paperback; $4.51, ebook
Genre: Sci-fi/Futuristic
ISBN: 978-0-9777141-0-0, hardback; 978-0-9777141-2-4, paperback; 9777141-2-8, ebook
Publisher: Marin Web Works
POS Amazon paperback: $11.86
POS Amazon hardback: $22.00
POS Barnes and Noble paperback: $13.95;
POS Barnes and Noble hardback: $28.95;
POS Diesel eBooks: $4.51;
POS Lulu paperback: $12.96;

Two young men search for their place in a universe dominated with outdated societal norms and prejudices, while struggling with changeable belief in their own abilities. Whether mastering the seas of Quogue, freeing slaves from an uncivilized planet, or fighting dragons and fending off mobsters, the young men discover their weaknesses while honing their strengths. Mostly, they learn about an inner faith that gives them hope to overcome any adversity, including themselves.

Cody Jackson comes to Quogue when his father’s ship, the Marco Polo explores a planet where dwells a people once dominated by the powerful Lekadains, another humanoid race of advance technology and long standing governmental influence. At ten years old, he is easily impressed with the Quogian tales of the Warrior Brothers, three young men who brought prosperity to the people through the discovery of metal. Now, regaled as stories in the starry skies, the Brothers promised to return when needed. Fate plays a cruel card as Cody and his father, Carlos delight in boating on the Quogue seas they witness the Marco Polo exploding in space, stranding them on the backward planet.

During the years marooned on Quogue, Cody befriends, Tobin. His mother a native Quogian, Lara returns with her young son after her husband’s death and a paralyzing injury from a spacecraft accident. Shunned by the villagers for an ancestor’s support of the Lekadians that dominated them for many years, they lead a quiet life. Together, Tobin and Cody take pleasure in their training as fishermen on his Uncle’s boat. Early in his growing up, Tobin displays an unnatural physical strength and telepathic influence, a useful skill when ensnaring the evasive Redfins, a seafood delicacy normally deemed for celebrations. A genuinely happy and even-tempered man, he uses that skill in protecting his friend, Cody during barroom fights. The two boys, now grown men are inseparable.

Seven years later, the Warrior Brother legacy comes to life as monks revering the legend privately initiated Cody and Tobin as Brothers; the young men go a long with the ceremony as a means to get sex. However, before their public ceremony, Tobin is kidnapped. As a fight ensues to regain Tobin’s freedom, both young men quickly realize that being a Brother is more about piety, commitment and solidarity, and less about getting laid.

In another part of the planet, Accabo works diligently to restore an old Lekadian shuttlecraft, with his father’s help. He dreams of meeting Starman, the man whose ship exploded, furthering the prophecy that he will lead the Quogians into peace. His people suffer many assaults from barbarians supporting the Lekadians. On one such occasion, Accabo looses his father, burying him close to the launch pad of their spacecraft. He hates the fighting preferring mechanics or computer work. His dream of meeting Starman becomes reality as Carlos comes to examine his shuttlecraft. Their meeting is all he expects, the moment not even dampened by his growing contempt for Starman’s son, Cody.

“Warrior Brother’s” by Erik Gordon Bainbridge details the trials of letting go of self-interested boyhood pleasures and becoming a man of insightful action that gives hope to the people that need it most. An engrossing, compelling story that uses the California Coast Miwok and Kashaya-Pomo Indians as a narrative base line and characterization. Throughout the story, Carlos, Cody’s father maintains his tribal rituals, singing prayers in the morning accompanied by his Native instruments. Then adding insight to how religion maintains hope, the author portrays the Lekadians loosing their faith due to extreme technological advances and universal discoveries, leaving them to believe that Gods do not exist, more importantly illogical; proven by the doused hope in all civilizations they meet after removing their religious artifacts and practices.

Accabo, Tobin and Cody’s journey continues as they infiltrate Dombrel, a planetary mob organization that enslaves indigenous people from other planets. On this occasion, Cody discovers a truth about Marco Polo’s destruction forcing him to relive his childhood loss. Accabo overcomes his fears though finds his niche on the Lekadian spacecraft as a virtual reality expert. Tobin uncovers a power he takes for granted, absorbing the pain of a fallen comrade. However, the lingering knowledge after being inside the man’s mind unnerves him. During the dismantling of the slave camp, they befriend a trusted guardsman, Kwe thrusting all three men on another perilous journey instilled with deceit and lawlessness. Together, the three men overcome their differences and prejudices, merging their ideas and experiences into a formidable defensive force.

Available through several book-selling mediums, Mr. Bainbridge’s novel is suitable for young adult as well as adult readers. This book’s details are fundamental for the whole story’s premise so hard to finish in one evening, but its concentrated action and inviting characters makes “Warrior Brother’s” pleasurable.

8/10

SEE ALSO:
Amazon [April 30, 07]: 10
Lulu [April 30, 07]: 6.7

AVERAGE: 8.2/10




Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

One Day Blog Silence

Sunday, April 29, 2007

'The Temporal Guild' by George W. Bailey


Title: The Temporal Guild
Author: George W. Bailey
Price: $17.95, paperback
Genre: Sci-fi/Futuristic/Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1430304241, paperback
Publisher: Lulu/sold only through Amazon
Point of Sale: amazon.com

After the discovery of a tell-all book, a seasoned Temporal member and his empathetic apprentice embark on a journey suffused with secrets, treachery while facing one man’s craving for revenge and power. Temporal Arbiter, Rumford and his Agent-in-Training, Jon Seymour are assigned to arrest Claymore Mortimer, a banished Temporal associate, for publishing and distributing secrets belonging to The Temporal Guild. Their attempts to apprehend him has them unraveling Claymore’s puzzling time travel activities and growing obsession with antiquated toys, at the same time solving a timeline bleeding into another dimension and escaping giants. For Jon it is a time of learning that limitations stem from low self-belief, overcoming many of them as they arise.

Mr. Bailey’s, “The Temporal Guild” is an enjoyable captivating story, suitable even for young adult readers. With its unique premise, as I have never read a story like it before, it possesses a smooth natural plot maintained by solid characters. The Temporal Guild is a group of explorers trained to gather and archive past historical events, branding them as keepers of all lost knowledge. Agents gather this information then submit to the Guild for approval and filing. The Arbiters train apprentices and serve as co-Regents but with no decision-making authority. Regents preside over them all creating a government of its own and like most ruling bodies they like some things kept secret.

Claymore Mortimer reveals classified information in a book, distributing it throughout the past eras he visits. Years ago, he was dismissed for using the timelines for personal purposes, worse he married in secret and fathered a child – a no-no as members are forbidden any romantic entanglements. At his hearing, Claymore vows revenge against the entire Guild, most especially Rumford for his investigative prowess. Years pass before he emerges again, more sinister then ever.

Jon Seymour, a sensitive, caring young man, sees himself as ordinary and a mediocre achiever. His fellow apprentices mocked his love of the old tomes in the Temporal library, preferring books to them. Seeking a leisure read, he uncovers a book written by Claymore that outlines the Temporal Guild’s demise, where he builds an army as he rules over all dimensional space and time as the Guild’s new leader. Jon does not read the final chapter of the book, revealing a secret the Guild prefers to remain buried. Uneasy about his findings, he shows the book to his tutor.

Rumford is a lively man who enjoys mentoring students and sharing his prolific experiences and knowledge; he also has a tendency to ramble needlessly. He takes the book to the Regents who send him to capture Claymore and all his writings. Rumford chooses Jon to accompany him on this clandestine mission. Their first order of business is to meet with the Agent who submitted Claymore’s book to the Temporal library – A. Daggons.

Addie Daggons is feisty, opinionated and independent. Abandoned by her father at an early and the daughter of an alcoholic, she gives this simple story spice. Rumford and Jon are taken aback by her hostility at being interrupted from her duties; cataloging the Salisbury Cathedral building designs in the year 1251. She denies ever submitting the book, since never been sent to Alexandria where the book originated. The mystery begins, as Rumford and Jon must now retrace Claymore’s movements through the dimension timelines, only uncovering his fondness for antique toys. Pulled away from the investigation, the men inspect a dimensions glitch.

More intrigue follows the duo when probing merging dimensions that have created discord. Rumford suspects Claymore of creating this irregularity. Then, Jon expresses a foreboding when asked to meet privately with Lord Delborne, Regent and leader of the Temporal Guild, at Mesa Verde, Colorado. The two continue on their course, only to encounter Claymore and his army of giants. Now, teamed with Addie, Jon and Rumford witness a great evil as they draw near to exposing Claymore.

I urge readers to give “The Temporal Guild” a glance, especially parents looking for books appealing to pre-teen and teenagers who enjoy sci-fi/fantasy novels. It is not a deep adult story instead a light, fascinating read.

RATING: 8/10




Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Food for Thought

I am always happy to express an opinion that Publish America is the lowest of the low in deceptive and aggressive vanity presses. I can understand that reputable presses might not want to have their books next to Publish America books on an author's website. But for a small press to refuse to consider manuscripts sent by authors previously published by Publish America even if they have since severed all ties seems a step too far.

See here, as mentioned here.

Pdf's, the odor thereof


Today I see iUniverse Book Reviews saying in an irreverent manner: "We do things the old-fashioned way here at iUniverse Book Reviews. We don't need no stinking pdf's." (LOL). So, anyway, I thought I would address this issue from the POD People perspective.

I certainly understand preferring the submission of physical books. As a reader, and like most readers, I happen to prefer paperbacks to ebooks. And I say that as a person who is published almost entirely in ebook form (with the exception of zines, a few anthologies and an upcoming small press POD novel).

My thinking in preferring electronic submissions was this. I have no idea how much a review at this site achieves in terms of promoting a book. Would it be enough to break even on the costs of printing and mailing a review copy? Probably not. Self-POD is largely a low volume business and I am happy to try and maximise the author-publisher's profits, whatever they may be. This may be why review sites accepting ebooks are swamped with submissions and those that do not, are not.

I have in the past had one author prefer to send a print copy and have been happy to oblige, securing a reviewer and passing on the mailing address. And so I would like to try a little experiment which I hope will not be too annoying to Dawno who is the one that actually coordinators books and reviews leaving me to prattle on here and neglect the website which is now meant to be my main concern.

If you are a self-POD author willing and able to send a print copy please feel free to contact us even outside of our normal submission windows. Mark your submission clearly as a PRINT COPY QUERY. It may be that our other reviewers also quite like books they can hold in their hands. So if the writer is willing to make that investment and the reviewers like to have something to put on their bookshelves, I am willing to facilitate a happy confluence of motivations. But bear in mind that, as ever, the reviewer in no way promises to give a positive review, regardless of format.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Books on Self Publishing

I was scanning the shelves at Borders and must say most of the books on self-publishing do not look all that useful. Then I saw the first line of a book by Robert Holtcalled "How To Publish, Promote, and Sell Your Own Book".

"This book has been prepared because I found a need and filled it."

The book itself is previously self-published but now produced courtesy of St. Martins Griffin--and the author has written multiple successful self and traditionally published books. It is a book from the eighties and so well behind the eight ball on modern developments but the fundamentals haven't really changed. I'll write a full review when I get to the end.

If you can recommend any useful books on self-publishing please let me know.

Can't get enough of....?


My feeling has always been that self-POD thrives in addressing niche markets. These are small but significant markets not quite capable off producing the intense buying surge required to sell out an offset print run. These might be special interests, local authors, kinks and quirks, unfashionable genres or experimental works. But before I say anything more about this I have a question.

What sort of literature do you want to read, that the mainstream offset publishers are not providing, or not providing enough of?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The De Facto POD Review Ring

POD Critic has made us this handy-dandy graphic. I have been doing okay, for the most part, with blogging every day. Now I will try committing to a update on the static website at least every month to be posted on the first of the month. First job, tidy up the index page and add the DFPRR ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

From the Road

I am out of town, writing this from the usual orange & brass decorated hotel room. Like a lot of writers I need a day job--and at the moment I need a new job because my current position is coming to an end. Thus the out-of-town job interview, thus the hotel room. Nevertheless I am dropping in with my self-POD thought for the day. It comes from Tessa Gerritsen's blog.

Tessa reminds us that most book stores not only will not, but cannot, stock self-POD books. And this is something that all self-POD authors should know in advance to avoid throwing embarrassing little hissy fits in store like the author described in her post.

One issue is the one mentioned. Bookstores will only shelve books that are returnable. And not returnable only within a few months--returnable for a full refund at any time. Another relevant issue is discount. Most chains expect around 50% and as much as 60% and the economics of POD don't lend themselves to that.

Local stores may be more supportive especially if you provide books on consignment, but currently routine stocking in mainstream chain bookstores is just not the name of the game.

Monday, April 23, 2007

POD People--out and about


POD Critic drew my attention to the fact that Preditors and Editors lists most of the De Facto POD Review Circle, including this blog, in their Promotional/Marketing section.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Supporting Self-Publishing--Without Lies.

My jumping off point today is an article called PublishAmerica a Real Publisher by Rebecca Benson. Short excepts are quoted here for the purpose of analysis and commentary only.

"Some people are afraid of progress ... there are those who would rather eat sewage than to see someone succeed by using new methods of doing business."

Let us think about this. Are there really lots of people out there who hate progress and will go to any lengths to make sure creative artists will fail just out of a fiendish desire to ensure our culture stagnates? No, there aren't. People disagree, they disagree vemently and sometimes irrationally. But each has strong, postive, ideological reasons for their own position. Some people disagree with self-publishing, and others only with dishonest business practices--like publishers that lie about being self-publishers, like publishers that threaten people who discuss them online with lawsuits.

"Many people out there are under the mistaken impression that PublishAmerica is either a vanity press or some form of self-publishing."

PublishAmerica is a self-publishing provider. They happen to make their profit through a cut from the cover-price not an up-front fee. What is wrong with PublishAmerica (and there are many things wrong with PublishAmerica) is not that they provide self-publishing services, it is that they lie about it. Writers should go into self-publishing with their eyes open, as a conscious choice and the best way to acheive their goals.

"...I am defending PublishAmerica against accusations of not being a “real” publisher, I have absolutely no problem with someone using a vanity publisher or even self-publishing."

Read that one again: "Defending" against "accusations" that PublishAmerica is something "I have absolutely no problem with".

"For the sake of being decent to one another, I would just ask that readers not place so much emphasis on where the book came from."

Absolutely, and that is what this blog is about. But once a writer has looked at their options and decided they either cannot publish with a third-party press or do not care too, there are many self-publishing options out there including large service providers. I for one am in favor of honest self-publishing and honest self-publishers. There are many websites that compare these services and allow the writer to sellect the service that best suits their needs.

We need to cultivate a nuanced perspective. I support any writer who chooses to self-publish. I support and will happily review a PublishAmerica book without in anyway being influenced by the writer's choice of publisher. But I do not support PublishAmerica because they pretend to be something they are not. They pretend to be a third-party publisher. And all that does is undermine the place self-publishing--honest, open and overt self-publishing has in this industry and the service it provides to writers and readers alike.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Truth, It Lies: by Eoin Hennigan


TITLE: The Truth, It Lies
AUTHOR: Eoin Hennigan
PRICE: $15.51
GENRE: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-84728-540-9
PUBLISHER: Lulu.com
POINT OF SALE: Lulu.com

Set in Hollywood of the 50s, The Truth, It Lies focuses on a down on his luck lawyer, Robert Harvey, whose clients, writers, actors and other industry folk, were rapidly leaving the country or going underground to avoid the attention of government investigations into alleged Communist ties in the movie industry. Just when Robert was at the point where he was going to have to let go his secretary and close up shop, he receives information from an insider at the LAPD that a big name star is about to be busted. He begins to be hopeful that he can represent that star and keep the bills paid a bit longer. The next morning he receives another call, this time from a well known director who needs his help. Perhaps his luck is changing?

The book doesn’t open with the lawyer’s situation; rather, it begins with the police investigation of a fatal, multi-car accident. The victims include an actor of some notoriety (he had been recently accused of being a Communist) who is determined by the police to be the proximate cause of the incident. The story then goes back in time two weeks, to the set of the movie that actor was working on prior to his death. We learn that he and the film’s director had a very poor relationship. Those opening chapters and the next two that give a lot of Harvey’s backstory, along with many references to the political climate of the time, slow the opening of the book.

However, the plot, as they say, thickens and the pace speeds up as Robert Harvey (whose name, since his chapters are written in first person, we don’t know until Chapter Ten) starts looking into the director’s case. There are interesting twists and turns and weird coincidences. The author has done a good job with the introduction of various revelations, each one resolving a bit of the mystery but always adding a new conundrum to resolve, right up to the very end.

I noted a blurb about an upcoming book on the last page of this one, “Part 2 of the Hollywood Trilogy”. The next one doesn’t seem to feature the same main character; rather, that book will have one of the minor characters as its protagonist according to the blurb. While The Truth, It Lies stands alone just fine, and came to a satisfactory conclusion, I’m intrigued enough to want to read the next two books to see if there’s more to this story in them as well, but with a caveat. I found the story to be a pleasant read, good but not great. It’s also a short novel (I estimate around 70k word count) and I hesitate to say “rush out and buy this” at $15.51. I wouldn’t hesitate if there was the option to buy as an e-Book for a budget minded reader.

Rating: 7/10

See Also:
PODlings: 5

Average rating: 6/10

Reviewed by Dawno




Dawno is the review coordinator for POD People as well as an 'empty nest' mom, blogger and moderator at Absolute Write's Water Cooler, a forum for writers of all kinds, including bloggers, where she moderates the Blogging forum. She is also on the staff of Coyote Wild, an e-zine of speculative fiction published quarterly.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Currently Being Reviewed

The Temporal Guild by George W Bailey
[Pamela]

A Man and his Maniac: the Bunkie Story by Charles Emery
[Emily Veinglory]

With publishers like these--self-publishing is looking better every day...

So is this a joke, or just the kind of publisher that makes you realise that there are many options for publishing out there that are significantly more risky than just doing it yourself? You be the judge:

The members at the Absolute Write forums had the temerity to be a leetle sceptical about start-up publisher Tinyhorn Press.

Tinyhorm responded by posting on their website: "It's come to my attention Tinyhorn is being attacked by an elderly woman. (author) Victoria Strauss who I'm told writes second-rate, Fantasy Ebooks, (sister site 4 book reviews) and is involved with a website called absolutewrite.com Was it her work rejected or James D. Macdonalds, Donal? Consequently we can no longer accept unagented manuscripts."

and a few days later: "The beauty of M.B is undeniable, the ugliness of absolutewrite is obvious. Those old old sea-hags have always been jealous of how pretty I am. I could wrestle any of those geriatrics into submission in seconds, if I wasn't busy using their manuscripts as toilet paper, I've been pooping on them all day. I have a new site,up and running and yes It gets literary agents since I know many of them PERSONALLY. They don't even know what absolutewrite is (more like absolute crap). Please come back soon! I'm going to turn this site into a pay for peek, where you can use (paypal) and watch me and my girlfriends peeing on images of your work, your pictures, and your manuscripts. (Really.) Stupid people in groups seem to back each other up. P.S. The first page (the red with the music) will be back! Later bitches. P.S.S I've already received some of your submissions at my new site, under it's new name."

And currently they seem to have no website posted at all.

I can only conclude that the whole thing is somehow a joke website--or the someone is a few sandwiches short of the whole picnic. In any case. Lulu et al offer a far better deal than some of the interesting individuals out their starting up "tradional" presses.

But you already knew that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tell Me About Your Free e-books

I am interested in hearing from writers who offer a free e-book version of their work. Do you do this to promote you print books, to increase your readership, to get people hooked on your series? If you offer short or long fiction either online or as a free download, long term or for limited periods, please let me know about the book and your reasons for offering it free of charge. Let me know if I may quote your comments and if you would also be interested in having the book reviewed. You can comment here or email podpeep at gmail.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day [April 23th]

Thanks to Dusk for this post:


After the outgoing vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America posted an entry at the SWFA blog, slamming professional authors who post their works online (he later toned down his wording), author Jo Walton wrote a post encouraging authors to "give away professional quality work online" on April 23 "to celebrate our technopeasanthood."

Over at the SWFA blog, the moderator, Will Shetterly, encouraged people to post links at that blog on April 23 to their online work (in replies to a special entry he'll post on that day), adding, "If you can't come up with something new for the 23rd but already have work that's free on the web, offer the link. Everyone's welcome in the IPST!"

I queried, and he clarified that, yes, he meant everyone: pro, semi-pro, and amateur writers. It seems to me that all writers who support the right of pro authors to publish their works in the manner that they wish may be interested in participating in this celebration.

If you would like an icon by which to spread the word, here are some nice ones by John Scalzi, Mary Dell (shown here), and Leigh Dragoon.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Workshopping

I would like to pick up this snippet from a recent POD Critic post: "This site does not attempt to be a workshop; I operate a little farther down the pipeline than that. Many of the books that pass through me, however, would benefit a great deal from being workshopped."

I must say that most of the self-POD books I have read so far have had noticeably more errors than comparable mainstream novels. However, I can only think of one where the errors were frequent and severe. Nevertheless almost all writers do need get impartial outside input on their work before either self-publishing or submitting a manuscript.

By far the simplest way to acheive this is to exchange critiques with other writers. In my opinion it is best when these critique partners are not personal friends, when they are at your skill level or above, and writing in your genre. You can contact critique partners through writers forums (such as the Absolute Write Water Cooler or Romance Divas) and egroups (such as yahoogroups). But, failing that, it can be very valuable to take part in critique exchange sites such as critiquecircle.com and critters.org.

[ETA] See also this from PODling Master.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Fire Pearls: Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart" edited by M. Kei


Title: Fire Pearls: Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart
Author: M. Kei, ed.
Price: $14.95, paperback
Genre: Poetry
ISBN: 978-1-4303-0999-4
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu


There's some delightful reading in Fire Pearls, but the work as a whole gets in its own way: it actually impedes the reader's ability to appreciate the poetry within. It contains several distractions that made it difficult for me to read the poems impartially - which is a shame, because there are some enjoyable and moving poems throughout the book. It's difficult enough when the book is a collection of short love poems; love is a difficult subject to address without appearing clich├ęd or formulaic.

The subtitle, Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart, bemused me. When the artist or impresario labels his or her own work as a masterpiece, I'm automatically skeptical. That, to me, is the audience's decision.

The preface opens: "The book you hold in your hands is an unusual one and bound to become a collector's item." This first sentence compounded the antagonism from the subtitle, and it narrowed my eyes further. When I opened this book, I'd been looking forward to an intimate experience, as reading poetry should be. Instead, I felt as though I was being treated as a prospect, not an audience. At that point, I felt deceived -- having been drawn in for art, but finding myself in what felt like a sales presentation. I had to remind myself that the preface is not the book, and that I'm here to enjoy the poems; a reader should never have to make a conscious effort to be moved by a book.

Fire Pearls is a beautiful title, and it is eminently apt for a collection of short poems. It's compact and evocative. I wondered, though only briefly, that the book and section titles bear no relation to one another. The book is divided into five sections: four seasons, "reflecting the importance of nature and nature imagery in tanka poetry", plus a fifth for poems that refuse categorisation because, as the preface notes, "the human heart refuses to live and love in an orderly fashion". The section names bear no relation to the title, which is a slight distraction.

A further distraction is that differences between the sections are difficult to discern; if there is a change from one section to another, the reader will logically expect the next section to demonstrate some different characteristics from the others. I didn't find the differences to be clear, though the organisation is explained in the preface. The poems are categorised based on imagery used in the poems, not on subject matter. I found myself wondering occasionally why a poem was, say, in the Autumn section and not the Summer section. It would have been easier for me to assimilate the sect
ions if they had been grouped by chronology (of the life of a love), type of love (e.g. romantic, brotherly, agape), or even form (tanka, cinquain, etc.). This aspect, of course, does not reflect on the quality of the poems, but it does cause the reader to wonder.

The preface advises the reader that the poems contained are of various five-line forms: "tanka, kyoka, cinquains, free verse, and more". It is not clear, however, how the reader will recognise these forms, which I found frustrating. Identifying the forms, or indicating which poems are which, would have made the reading more satisfying.

But, most importantly, are the poems worth reading? Do they move the reader?

Overall, my answer is a qu
alified 'yes'. I found a number of the poems to be beautiful and moving; the poets have addressed in a variety of ways a range of emotions and issues that all relate to love. Again, no one will thrill to every poem in any collection, especially if there is any variety to it. And there is sufficient variety to this collection, within the bounds of its stated focus, for readers to find their favorites.

Some poems used a standard device which I don't favour: naming an object in the first line or two, and describing a scene or event afterward. A random haiku, as an example only:

Plums in a basket:
Three generations sit silent
Dad carves the turkey

Though it may be traditional, I think this structure is a facile approach to conjuring a reaction -- creating an oblique juxtaposition of image, then leaving the reader to puzzle out some connection. It's a formula that's easy to apply, but more difficult to apply successfully.

I did feel that some of the poems seemed to parallel or correspond to each other, as though they'd been the result of a class assignment. That feeling may have been the result of reading the poems in blocks; I'm certain that a book such as this one is not meant to be read straight through, but picked up and leafed through from time to time.

I imagine, by way of analogy, a tourist spending three weeks touring the cathedrals of Italy. Unless cathedrals are his particular interest, by day fifteen, he's just plodding through wondrous apses, watching more for c
afes than ageless devotional art.

I enjoyed reading Fire Pearls, and I'm glad I did; it just shouldn't have been so hard to do.

RATING: 6/10



Reviewed by: Rob McCreery. Rob McCreery writes poems and moderates the poetry forum at Absolute Write.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ratings, What Do They Mean?

One of the more debatable choices we made at POD People was to attach a numerical rating to each book. These ratings are very subjective, especially given that this is a multi-reviewer site. I have yet to give a 10/10 rating but other reviewers don't hesitate to give that accolade to book they really enjoyed. In the end I figure the reader of the review knows how to take empirical scores on subjective issues with a pinch of salt. I also hope to gather up ratings from multiple sites to give an idea of the range of opinions out there.

One thing that I found interesting is that both my own ratings (blue) and those of all reviewers (black) show a funny little dip in the middle. It seems we tend not to find a book 'just average'. Although our avergare rating is around 6.5 individual ratings tend to get pushed down to 5, or up to 7 or 8. Perhaps, in the end, the rating says little more than thumbs down or thumbs up, after all?

One new thing we will be trying is the "re-review" where I swap recommendations with PUB-ioneer so we can discuss back and forth what we both think of a book.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Where Y'all Come From

I was taking a little look at where you guys have been coming from recently--the referral links. I see several of the de facto blog circle and it looks like I really need to add new-comer PODler (bold). Reviewer websites are bring in some people, thanks to Dawno and Pamela (italics). And thanks also to authors who are linking back to us including Chad Helder, Susan Higginbotham, Heather Renee Holden, Gary Batta and Charles Emery--whose book hasn't even been reviewed yet (underlined) :)

1. podbookreview.blogspot.com (POD Critic)
2. (direct)
3. google
4. lulu.com
5. pub-ioneer.blogspot.com
6. internal links
7. www2.blogger.com
8. veinglory.com
9. technorati.com
10. podlingmaster.blogspot.com
11. podler.blogspot.com
12. edgyauthor.com
13. blogtopsites.com
14. nonemaysay.blogspot.com
15. msn
16. queerpoetry.com
17. ohdawno.org
18. leostableford.com
19. bardsandsages.com
20. del.icio.us
21. lulu.libsyn.com
22. community.livejournal.com
23. memetic-glutton.livejournal.com
24. inkthinker.blogspot.com
25. books.lulu.com
26. search
27. bunkiestory.blogspot.com
28. bloglines.com
29. webmail.aol.com
30. dawnonowyouseeit.blogspot.com
31. adelphia.net
32. messaging.myspace.com
33. my.lulu.com
34. garybatta.com
35. scottieluvr.com
36. susandhigginbotham.blogspot.com
37. google.com
38. alltheweb
39. getclicky.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Updating the Stats


Number of reviews: 39 (includes blog)
Number of authors reviewed: 34
Number of reviewers represented: 13
Number of Publishers represented: 8
Percentage of reviewed books from Lulu.com: 74%
Average rating: 6.6

'Convergence of Valor: The Men of H. L. Hunley' by Guntis Goncarovs

Title: Convergence of Valor: The Men of the H. L. Hunley
Author: Guntis Goncarovs
Price: $16.95, paperback; $6.00, ebook
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-595-37055-9, paperback; 978-0-595-81456-5, ebook
Publisher: iUniverse Press
Point of Sale: iuniverse.com

The nineteenth century witnesses many engineering inspirations that were unsuccessful, whereas those few achievements herald the armed forces technical progress. As a piece of historical fiction, Convergence of Valor: The Men of the H. L. Hunley, adeptly illustrates those visionaries coming together to revolutionize tactical warfare. During the 1860’s Civil War ravages America, a maturing country still aligning themselves within the world. An old dilapidated building hides the engineers who build and test self-propelled torpedoes, in this case “spar torpedoes” like the H. L. Hunley used, noted also as the first submarine that successfully sinks a ship.

The main character, Gunter Rohlenhiem is a Prussian engineer who worked under renowned inventor, Wilhelm Bauer in designing a relatively successful submarine, the Brandtaucher, but was discontinued due to lack of interest. His joining the Prussian Secret Service promised him adventure however, he’s assigned to snoop around an obviously neutral England; fleshing out information regarding new weapon inventions and other advanced war technologies. After two years of waiting, he overhears a conversation that exposes plans of a submersible ship. Upon returning to his room, Gunter opens a letter from Prince Bismarck with instructions to sail for America – apparently, the His Majesty knows too.

Arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, Gunter, aka Sam Miller, meets a man who offers him an assignment to work with explosives in Mobile Alabama. Before Gunter walks away, Cox succumbs to an assassin’s bullet. Journeying to Mobile, he meets E. H. Angamar, a scientist designing self-propelled torpedoes. Mr. Angamar needs a trustworthy man who is also knowledgeable about explosives. Gunter accepts the job although never giving up his search for the carefully guarded submersible project. His clandestine activities lead him to a building where Gunter eavesdrops on their meeting. The Americans have successfully formulated a full-scale submersible ship. Months will pass before Gunter joins the engineers in constructing the war’s most essential achievement – a submarine that can launch a torpedo with devastating results. Mingled within the sober military intrigue, Gunter meets a war widow, Adrianne, sister to William Alexander’s assistant. Their relationship continues over the months leading up to his assignment on the H. L. Hunley.

Espionage flourishes as this captivating story moves forward and mistrust grows, even between long-standing friends. A civilian scientist, Mr. Angamar is commanded to join the Confederate Torpedo Bureau, an organization created by President Davis that oversees all weapon technology, ensuring its continued development. This action affirming Angamar’s suspicion that long-time friend, General Maury has, whether intentionally or inadvertently, divulged his successful torpedoes experiments to the Confederate government.

Mr. Goncarov does his research well, as my own explorations, into our country’s weaponry advancements and the real story behind the H. L. Hunley, verifies most historical facts contained in this book. As the author states in his preface the H. L. Hunley and her achievement in torpedoing a ship is a pivotal moment in oceanic warfare, and one often overlooked. More importantly, this story imparts honor upon the men who gave up their lives for ingenious technical advancement, on both sides of the war. The story’s authentic characterization captures and holds my interest as the numerous engineers and military officers give away their period ideology, fears, even inspiring a romance, during a time of great uncertainty. Lacking historically accurate verbal accounts, Mr. Goncarov provides a dramatic picture, through character dialog, of what could have transpired. After reading Convergence of Valor: The Men of the H. L. Hunley readers will thirst for more information surrounding this period in history, and then eagerly share that knowledge. Finally, let me hand over two more words – Highly Recommended.

RATING: 10/10




Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why I have never self-published

A casual reading of the self-POD blogs suggests that they tend to be started by self-published authors. After all, that is the main way people become involved in this side of the industry. Now, I have occasionally thought about self-publishing a book. I did, many years ago, produce home made zines. Two issues, to be exact. Then I discovered that it really is far more effort than you'd think. I have a similar feeling about self publishing. Sure, I have some stories where I have sold only the e-publishing rights--and some others that would not be easily publishable elsewhere due to style and content... and some poetry. But I also have a healthy suspicion that I simply couldn't devote enough time to self-publishing them to produce a product I would be proud of (let alone one that would sell).

But is this laziness on my part entirely a bad thing? For a start my failure to self-publish makes me a relatively impartial commentator. I have evidence that I am relatively impartial in that I get regularly accused of being both a nay-sayer and a cheerleader. My reply to these criticisms is: Look, Bub. Just what do you think is in it for me? I do not have a self-published book to sell. I have no stakes in this game... except as a reader. This is not to suggest I do not write, I do. I write erotica and romance books with occasional stories in print anthologies and a small press novel coming out in October. But my only interest in self-publishing is as a reader.

And it was as a reader that I discovered self-published books were often pretty bad, sometimes rather good and occasionally magnificent. This was something I wanted other readers to know. The only thing I wanted other writers to appreciate was that self-publishing has its place. It isn't on a pedestal or hidden down in the basement. Self-published books should be able to find a place on our bookshelves according to their merits. That was the only reason that I first started this blog and the associated website--out of a respect for good writing and a realisation that good self-published writing starts out at a distribution disadvantage because readers have to learn about it, they have to actively seek it out. And good self-published writers, who are considerably less lazy then me, deserve a little recognition.

Monday, April 09, 2007

And the door slams shut!

Well, at least for a while. POD People is closing to submissions. Thanks to those who sent us something new to read. While submissions are closed we are unlikely to accept new books but you are welcome to query. A query email should include only the book's details and a short blurb; do not attach the book. We will contact you if we are interested in soliciting the book outside our usual submission window.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

'Plaything' by Sara Winters

Title: Plaything
Author: Sara Winters
Price: $5.00
Genre: Erotica
ISBN: N/A
Publisher: Lulu Press
Point of Sale: lulu.com/content/578825

It is great to find a women writing erotica that celebrates sex without fitting into the overgrown genres of erotic romance or literary erotica. Sara Winters introduces Chris, a famous actor with conflicting feelings about sex--and Desiree an adventurous erotica and fan-fiction writer. The characters have an authentic feeling and the story sets up a no-hold-barred sexy evening that leaves them both with fond memories. The set-up creates some great sexual tension, although the ending of the story is somewhat anti-climactic.

I found the story a bit muddled, however. It opens with a section of introspection and exposition that was long, especially given the story is only novelette length. The point-of-view shifts rather a lot and the sexual scenario involves the characters switching Dom and sub roles rapidly back and forth without and prior arrangements or limits. Overall I felt the sex was not really very daring given that heroine's persona as an erotica writer who tests her plots in real life. Overall the story was certainly a fun read but not as satisfying as it could have been of the sexual scenario was more focused and adventurous and the ending provided more of a resolution.

RATING: 5/10




Reviewed by Emily Veinglory: Emily is a writer of fantasy, romance and erotica. Her first paperback novel King of Dragons, King of Men will be available this October from Samhain Press. The ebook version is on sale now.

Friday, April 06, 2007

New POD Review blog

http://podler.blogspot.com/

How Not to Promote a POD Book

It can be very frustrating trying to get a print-on-demand book stocked in stores. There are many things you can do. You can go around local stores and ask them to stock it, you can provide copies on consignment. In general, this is going to be an uphill battle because most POD books are not returnable and are not sufficiently discounted. For this reason POD books tend to sell most of their copies online or at special events. But, at this time, local branches of many large chains will still stock self-PODs, host book signings and support local self-published and small press authors. It helps to be a regular in the store and be honest with the staff you speak to--they probably know self-POD when they see it so there is no point trying to sell them any snake oil. You can further increase your chances by donating some proportion of the proceeds to a local charity and find other ways to make your work of interest to your local community.

Some very "cunning" schemes are always circulating about how to get your POD book stocked without going to all this trouble. One is to have people special order copies. This is not necessarily a bad idea, if they are real people who really want to buy a copy. There is always a chance that the store may decide to get in an extra copy to shelve--especially if they get several such requests and you are a local author. However, this suggestion sometimes goes a step further... advising authors to pretend they want a copy of the book even though they have no intention of going back to get it. As the book is not returnable the store then needs to shelve the copy in the hope of selling it. But don't think they will be happy about it.

As a result of this type of behavior is that most stores now require a name and credit card number for special orders. Which still does not seem to have stopped a certain "Michael Evers" from special ordering the anthology 'Short Cut' from small POD press Author Identity. The credit card number, along with the name, was fake. It is unclear just how many fake orders were placed for this book but its sales number are suspiciously high for an anthology from an unknown POD press--and it is flagged "do not order" at Borders. At the current time book stores do not have a system for centrally recording scam orders, but expect this to change very soon. And at that point entire presses will be black-listed for illegal behavior of this type.

This is not book promotion, it is fraud. And what is more it is fraud that pulls the struggling POD publishing area further into disrepute. The perpetrator is in all likelihood one Kevin A. Fabiano (see the link above for the evidence), as he both owns the publisher and has a story in the anthology. Mr Fabiano essentially self-publishing in that the bulk of the rest of the book's content consists of public domain material (stories by long dead authors that can be used for free). His tactics put one more nail in the coffin of brick-and-mortar retail sales for self-POD books.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

'Dimensions' by Robert Blevins and Geoff Nelder


Title: Dimensions
Author: Robert Blevins and Geoff Nelder
Price: $9.98
Genre: Sci-fi/Anthology
ISBN: 978-1-4116-6087-8
Publisher: Adventure Books/Lulu Press
Point of Sale: http://www.lulu.com/content/185340

I just finished reading “Dimensions,” a science fiction short story collection by Robert Blevins and Geoff Nelder. The book is well-put together, with a small illustration for each of its 23 short stories. Like any collection of shorts, I like some stories more then others, but overall it was quite a readable book.

The first short story in the collection, Blevin’s “Cruel and Unusual,” was to me perhaps the weakest in the collection. It seemed to be a rift on the old “Twilight Zone” episode of a convict (in this case a mass murderer) marooned on a distant and hostile world. He spent over twenty years trying to get back to Earth, in the process becoming completely reformed, only to discover that he should have stayed where he was.

The strongest story, in my view, was Goeff Nelder’s “Prime Meridian.” Goeff is an Englishman, and his story is set in an English village. The protagonist, a schoolteacher named John Forrister, inherits his grandfather’s house. John finds the whole setup lacking – the only bright spot in his life is that his neighbor likes to wash her hair at the kitchen sink sans shirt. Things become more interesting when meteorites start piercing his house every day at 3:20 PM. The ending is both unexpected and cute.

Blevin’s story “Hole Card” is another short story, and quite solid. It turns out that the aliens at Roswell, NM were from the future – and the surviving pilot was human. Also of note is Blevin’s story “A Smaller Step,” which puts an alternate-history spin on the death of Yuri Gargarin. When I finished it, I had a case of goose bumps.

Although there are 23 short stories, a number of them are more vignettes or episodes then full stories, covering a page or two. Still, considering that the book is available for just under $10 at Amazon.com, I have to recommend “Dimensions” for anybody seeking new science fiction.




Chris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. This is his first novel. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Join the POD People!

Remember, the POD People want you! We are always interested in hearing from potential vic... um, I mean volunteers. We are always in need of reviewers. You may choose you own books and review as many or as few as you like. We would love to hear from people who have news and views to share on the blog. We could also use assistance from anyone with basic xhtml skills to help update the website and improve its design.

POD People does not earn any income, so there is no payment. In fact I am in the process of removing the google ads I was experimenting with just to make that clear. But we provide credit and links to contributors websites wherever possible. If you have any question please get in touch :) [podpeep AT gmail.com]

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The De Facto Blog Ring


As time passes it becomes clear that there are a few blogs out there that give dispassionate, reasonably honest reviews of self-published books. None of us are really what you would call "joiners", but if you look in the right-hand column you will see there what we are calling the de facto blog circle:

Iuniverse Book Reviews : Podlings : None May Say : POD Book Review : Pub-ioneer : Leo Stableford

Maybe we'll get together and, um, do something.