Friday, June 29, 2007

'Bitternest' by Alan Draven

Title: Bitternest
Author: Alan Draven
Price: $19.95
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 9780595432042
Publisher: iUniverse
Point of Sale: Amazon

A bird flu pandemic is rather more than decimating America. In the town of Bitternest the virus creates a new kind a vampire, one that can walk in the daylight and spread quickly through the town. The shops are looted and empty, the gangs and organised crime families are desperate but still at war, the cops are outnumbered and overstretched. Bitternest is caught between two contagions and it doesn't look like very many people are going to get out alive.

Detective Terry Graves has already lost his wife to the virus. He is approached by the few real vampires that remain with an offer to team up against the new 'blood mongers'. With almost every chapter new characters get added to the scenario and Bitternest continues to go, almost literally, to hell.

Terry Graves puts an interesting spin on the urban vampire and there are some clever 'reveals' and plot twists. But on the whole I felt Bitternest lacked coherence, lacked a feeling of a story that was progressing and a hero that was driving it. Some aspects just straight out didn't make sense to me such as a looted and terrified town in the middle of a deadly contagion throwing a fair and rock concert. Add to that Detective Graves was meant to have a role in keeping the event safe and utterly fails to even try to do so. He and his partner also apparently don't know the first rule of saving someone from bleeding to death (put pressure on the wound). Everyone in the story seemed to respect Detective Graves a great deal, but I didn't--and for that reason I had a lot of trouble maintaining my interest.

Bitternest is a book with some great ideas and some serious flaws including rampant info-dumping throughout. The book has a lot of energy and imagination and I did really want to like it, but in the end too many characters and not enough story-telling took its toll. Bitternest is worth a look if you are interested to see a new author take a stab at bringing something new to vampire fiction. His world and some of his mythos is intriguing. Based on this I would consider buying the author's next work to see if the good-to-bad ratio is improving with experience, but only after checking out the first chapter or two first.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


Okay so I know some of you have written a self-published book, others are considering it and a few of you are reviewers. But here is a question from the book mouse.

What was the last self-published book that you bought, and why?

My answer: 'A Clash of Fangs' by Riger Hyttinen (iuniverse), because I'm a sucker for gay vampires ;)

My Story – Cheryl Anne Gardner

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

As a writer of novellas, I was in a very particular predicament. Reason being, although the Novella is a common literary form in most European countries, it hasn’t caught favor over here, and is very difficult to market … being too long for most literary magazines and too short for mainstream publishers. Steven King, author of numerous novellas, has called the literary form: an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic.

Despite its marketing problems, however, the novella's length provides unique advantages; it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus, it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel.

So, my answer would be: one, to pay tribute to the novellas that inspired me to pick up the pen in the first place. And two, not to let the magic of this literary form fade away into history.

In this regard, self-publishing was the perfect way to do this. And it has far exceeded my expectations, as the books produced are of exceptional quality. I had imaginings in the back of my mind of cardboard covers and stapled, flimsy pages, was I ever wrong.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I was referred to LULU by a friend and fellow published author. She had used LULU in the past for seminar and promotional copies, and she found the site user friendly with a great deal to offer aside from basic publishing services. Help forums, editing, and cover design services … etc.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

Wonderful! Yes, I am achieving my goals. To clarify goals a bit, I never went into this with the intention of becoming a best-seller, or making a million dollars. Self-publishing will not make you an over-night success. But if you believe in your work, and are willing to spend the exhaustive amount of time and effort it takes to publish a good quality piece of work, then this might be the avenue to take. I currently have three novellas on the market and have a loyal following of readers, a small following, but readers nonetheless, and my books have been received and reviewed well. So, has success been achieved, well, for me, YES!

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Do not rush. Take the time, edit, edit, and then edit more. If you do not have the grammatical talent or skill for editing, find someone who does, be honest with yourself. Also, knowledge of various software packages is a must, especially if you plan on designing your own covers and formatting your own text: Photoshop, Digital Image, Adobe, and whatever word processing program you choose. I also recommend investing in a good grammatical error-checking software program. Self-publishing is an artistic endeavor. It’s not simply about the words or the flow and structure of the story. While those are exceedingly important to the overall quality of the work and much of your time and energy will be invested in the actual story, the graphics on the cover and the layout of the pages are crucial for marketing reasons. Self-publishing is not simply about writing a great story … and it should be great if you decide to move forward, but you are in charge of everything, the success of your material is in your hands. Your reputation as an artist demands that you invest yourself completely. If you cannot do that, then self-publishing is not for you.

And on the topic of vanity, yes, that is a word that looms heavy over self-publishing. But I see no reason for it. Many famous authors, since the dawn of time, were self-published. And they did this for no other reason than they believed in their work, even though it might have been deemed too risqué, too uncensored, too unmarketable. They took the risk. Many great discoveries would not have seen the light of day if their discoverer didn’t take the risk.

My Latest Novella: The Splendor of Antiquity

This story is not nearly as dark as my other two novellas, but I think that my devoted readers will enjoy it, even without the murder and mayhem.

Despite the fact that it is, in essence, a tale of romance, it still expounds upon the existential and philosophical ideals that all of my novellas possess as a driving force. Antiquity is not simply the story of the love between Joliette and Botton, it is a story of their journey towards life fulfillment – the pursuit of Love, Faith, and a Passion. It is also the story of memories … how they shape our lives … and how they are not always as accurate as we would desire them to be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'The Romanov Cache' by Dimitri Gat

Title: The Romanov Cache
Author: Dimitri Gat
Price: $22.12, paperback; $11.00, ebook
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
ISBN: 978-1-84728-055-8, paperback and ebook
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale:

Two priests travel far seeking forgiveness for the unjust murder of a man once loyal to the Romanov monarchy. Hidden jewels, gold, and other valuables belonging to Nicholas II guaranteed provisions during the Czar’s exile from Russia. The last of this murdered man’s family line resides in America, the only person who must absolve an ailing priest before his death.

In a Pittsburg suburb, Yuri Nevsky entertains Father Alexei, a Russian Orthodox Priest. Father Alexei begs Yuri to hear Father Ruslan’s dying confession in killing Yuri’s father, Vladimir Nevsky, decades ago. Only Nevsky descendent can forgive Father Ruslan’s crime. Yuri senses an ulterior motive for seeking him out, so waits before visiting the ill priest.

Within hours, two more Russian visitors seek Yuri’s help, except this time they want to locate the Romanov treasure secreted away by his grandfather, Sergei Nevsky. His new visitors speak of the Romanov family’s imposed abdication and an organization called the Sons of Continuity, in which his grandfather belonged. Upon Sergei’s death protecting the fortune’s location transferred to his children, Vladimir and Anna. With both long dead, Yuri now holds the key to the Romanov treasure – or so everyone believes.

Face paced thrills that spans two continents keeps the reader entertained for hours. Amid some humor and deep, dark intrigue lays a mystery waiting for Yuri to unveil. With his female sidekick, Charity Day they come together to solve an almost century old crime while trying to unravel the riddle of “The Romanov Cache”.

A continuation from his 1982 New York Times bestseller, “Nevsky’s Return”, Mr. Gat gives a dramatic picture of Russia’s struggle from Communism into Democracy; poverty still abounds inciting greed amongst its people while political corruption is the glue of their government. It is a fine line between fact and fiction, although still makes for a fascinating read. Many members form this story’s cast; small town farmers, elite businessmen, and sinister God-fearing hit men; just naming a few. Reaching back over eighty years, their lives entwined within an intricate web of deceit and greed. A few wish to protect the treasure while others long to renew Russia’s autocratic government.

A politician within Russia’s legislative body, Boris Detrovna needs wealth to finalize plans in becoming Russia’s next leader. His lasting self-indulgent duplicity bars him from an honest presidency, so to clean it up requires possessing the Romanov Cache that will buy him an unsullied authority. Yet, another man campaigns for Russia’s leadership. General Ostrovsky restores the Sons of Continuity, formed during Nicholas II’s monarchy, calling all its descendents to aid Russia’s return to a military government. Their numbers grow as the years pass, and with the treasure in hand he will reinstate Russia’s military to superior reverence, again.

From a different front, the Force for Leadership wishes to place a compassionate God-fearing man in the presidency. A practical man, Korchevko’s visionary position wins him a large following; publicly proclaiming to merge Russia’s best qualities – “generosity, strength, and spirituality” - when forming his new government. The only thing he lacks is financial support, which the cache will rectify. Then there is an aging leader of the Russian Orthodox Church exercising authority to possess the Romanov fortune. Bishop Paulos seeks reparations for the years of enduring an oppressive government. He fears the return of Communism that lorded over the Church with cruelty and condemnation. The cache promises to restore churches to their former glory while garnering him respectability within the Church.

All these players want wholly to own the Romanov Cache, going so far as to murder anyone standing in their way. Regardless, for all concerned, a Russian-American naively impedes their success – Yuri Nevsky.

“The Romanov Cache” is gripping… compelling… an amusing, fun read where Mr. Gat constructs an intricate puzzle stimulating readers to structure many plausible scenarios in solving this mystery. Start this book early in the day because you will not want to put it down until the end.


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, June 23, 2007

Okay, so... just to celebrate being back and all--let's have a look at the google waves people are riding into our blog. My top ten:

moving storage chicago pod

This is not the pod, I mean blog, you seek

my main reason was

Um, the self-defense? Demonic possession? The editors at Tor are suppressing my transcendent genius?

dog erotica

This is not the dog, um, blog you seek...

nude sister inlaws


hugh despenser

Who needs Pez. I'll take mine in "Grant" flavor.

gay butchers

[blink blink]

chants to banish evil

Get thee behind me, Publish America

despair acrostic poems

They have the same effect on me

chloroform boy

lamest ... superhero ... ever.

erotic nut kicking stories

[blink, blink, blink] Ouch.

The Communion of the Saint by Alan David Justice

Title: The Communion of the Saint
Author: Alan David Justice
Price: $19.95, paperback
Genre: Historical/Paranormal
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1504-9, paperback
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu

A committee wants attention drawn to Saint Alban, detailing his life while expounding the miracles following his death. One woman, an experienced historian, meets the committee’s scrutiny. The moment she arrives in this small English town, an otherworldly voice directs her every move…

Dr. Clio Griffin is an acerbic woman who possesses no hope, more importantly, no faith in God; surviving a childhood of teasing about her multicultural background, while growing up with a schizophrenic mother. When a voice guides her around Saint Albans, Clio worries that her mother’s illness has taken hold. Ignoring the voice forces it to take form, first, leading her to an authentic fourth century brooch and then materializing before her. The entity hoped to calm her fears only to amplify them more.

“The Communion of the Saint” engages the reader with an interesting tale surrounding a saint long forgotten by the townspeople, and the Church. Tourism and complacency have taken its toll so the Communion wants Saint Alban resurrected to his deserved respectability. Mr. Justice casts the story with plenty of exciting characters, who help build this intriguing ghostly plot.

Meeting her new employer, members of The Communion of the Saint, does not go well. Clio’s initial encounter with several associates leads to preconceived hostilities before approving her hire. Helen Hardesty and Richard Sexton dislike her youthful American-Jamaican heritage, believing it hinders an appreciation of history. Retired Army Major Hewitt sees only Lady Phelps; still nurturing an unrequited love since their childhood. Joan Elspeth, Helen’s sister, is enthused with Clio’s presence, chastising her sister’s snobbery.

The founder and leader of this mercurial group, Lady Leslie Phelps is accustom to having her wishes obey; growing up poor she demands respect since marrying into wealth. Taking charge, she dispels some of the members’ reservations, including welding her authority over Clio, who politely maneuvers around the woman’s arrogant handling. Father Tom Dorcas, eyes and ears for Saint Albans’ Bishop, takes a more intimate interest in Clio, although romance is not the story’s focus.

A delightful change from this reviewer’s other reading haunts, “The Communion of the Saint” skillfully mixes history with present day. The flipping between eras is smooth, giving the story its paranormal essence while delivering an absorbing reading experience. The story’s most interesting elements are when St. Alban sends Clio back in time.

Through the touch of the brooch, transports her to a certain time where she physically experiences each event. First, Clio inhabits the body of the man who executes Alban, then witnesses situations that form Christianity’s evolution, while observing various miracles performed by martyrs in and around Saint Albans. All the while, she worries that her mother’s mental illness is plaguing her, escalating as she goes through each ethereal episode.

Clio’s disturbing authentic depictions, published through the local newspaper, fascinates though enlightens the community. Writing the articles is not all she deals with, becoming entrenched in long-standing petty jealousies, cultural prejudices and unwarranted whims of a wealthy benefactress. However, Clio also begins a self-discovery journey that opens her ears while filling her with hope, and just possibly renewing her faith in God.

Much of this compelling religious drama supports history, although the author has plainly taken artistic liberties in creating a suspenseful and engaging piece of fiction. Mr. Justice motivates the reader to discovering the “real” Saint Alban, even researching his namesake English town.


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.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Story - S. F. Jones

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

A couple of years ago I was close to securing a contract with a major publisher via an agent; however, the discussions broke down and then a few months later my agent left the publishing business. Left on my own, I found the long task of approaching new agents difficult and depressing. It was also eating up my writing time and hindering me in finishing the rest of the series (I had only written the first book of four). There was no way I was going to give up, so to keep moving forward I decided to self-publish "The Tempest" more-or-less as a marketing exercise: to get it out there, to test the water, to get some reviews, and use the web to find writing exposure. In the meantime I hoped to continue writing the rest of the books, and see where things went from there.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I picked Lulu primarily because I had no money, and they required no financial outlay in advance. I was considering other PoD publishers such as Trafford, but was put off by having to shell out a minimum of £500 in advance for a "package" of very basic technical services that as a techie I was more than capable of overseeing myself for zero cost. Lulu don't hassle me with marketing emails, courtesy calls or sales calls, or allocate me a rep or middle-man to do everything for me, which would just slow down the process. They just give me the tools and advice to do the job and then let me get on with it. They offer me complete control of the entire publication, which is challenging but very rewarding.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

I'm using self-publishing as an exposure tool, and I have no naive hopes of it making me a millionaire overnight. However it's already proving extremely productive, as I've been able to get some good reviews - including the one here on Pod People - and establish a web presence. Having a public face via Lulu and the web has kept me motivated and focussed on continuing to write. My goal is to be well-known for writing great historical novels; I believe that if I am any good at what I do, then I'll achieve that goal and be successful in the long term whether or not I have a mainstream publisher. I think that half of any author's success (unless they have the luck of the gods) is the willingness to persevere through all circumstances and to strike out in every possible creative direction to promote their work. Sitting meekly at home and waiting weeks for a single agent response just wasn't an option for me.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Think carefully about why you want to do it, and recognise that it's not a yellow brick road to fame and fortune, it's just another avenue for you to promote yourself and your work. It may bring you riches; but most probably it won't, in isolation. It's hard work. Be prepared for criticism, and be prepared to take it gracefully and act on any good advice which comes your way. The beauty about digital publishing, compared to mainstream publishing, is that you can always revise your ideas and your MS.

Recognise also that putting a book together is also extremely hard work technically, and it can take several weeks or even months. You will need patience, diligence, razor-sharp proofing skills, and an eye for layout. You will need to be tech-savy about publishing packages such as Quark and/or Adobe; if you're a technical dunce, or don't want to spend hours checking for text formatting errors in Quark (I speak from experience), then you're better off paying someone else to type-set your book. It is now possible to create a print-ready PDF straight from MS Word, but purely in my own opinion the results look less professional than a book laid out via a proper DTP package.

Ignore people who tell you that if you've resorted to self-publishing then your book was clearly "not good enough" to be picked up by a mainstream publisher. Plenty of highly respected authors began by self-publishing (e.g. Alexandre Dumas, Virginia Woolfe). These days mainstream publishers are more than ever driven by profit and loss, and not necessarily by whether the book in front of them is good in its own right. If your book is genuinely awful and the MS badly presented, then yes in any event they'll never pick it up; but even if it is well-written and captures the reader from page one, if it's in a genre the publisher doesn't think is currently fashionable enough to recoup costs then they'll reject it on that count as well. They have to. Moving on to self-publishing has nothing to do with vanity, and everything to do with acknowledging the current state of the market and using new publishing methods as an alternative outlet to help get your work "out there" - which presumably was your goal when you wrote the book in the first place. If your work is good, and you are persistent, then I believe that ultimately you will find success either by the independent route or by a mainstream contact subsequently latching on to what you are doing.

S. F. Jones is the author of The Tempest: Last Prayers Part 1 and a historical writer, researcher and former military re-enactor.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Last Incarnation: Book One of the Ascension by J. A. Giunta

Title: The Last Incarnation: Book One of the Ascension
Author: J. A. Giunta
Price: $17.95, paperback; $6.95, ebook
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 1-59113-680-6, paperback and ebook
Publisher: Book Locker
Point of Sale: Book Locker, Amazon: $17.95, Barnes and Noble: $15.95

In a time past, “tourners” prized their magic, sharing freely its knowledge as tournaments rewarded the most talented. Soon the matches turn into duels, where even the sharing ends, concealing any new magical discoveries. Many begin to die, giving the champion greater power by draining the challenger’s life force. People start to shun weaving magic and as the atrocities escalate, the common people retaliate.

During the final magical tournament, a challenger’s child kills the champion, turning the tables on senseless murder. In the human lands, Guardians now police the villages looking for “turners” (a twist on the word “tourners”). Their crime is “…one who changes or transforms what was once good into evil, their touch darkening the world all around.” Magic now incites terror and loathing.

From an early age, Barr displays remarkable “turner” skill. Reason for his father moving them to an isolated cabin outside of Alixhir’s city, away from the prying eyes of its people, though mostly the Guardian’s notice. His father’s death has him living in Sylvannis, a closeted elven community.

A highly respected hunter, Tuvrin adopts Barr and teaches him to hunt, while a fellow elf, Seltruin schools the boy in becoming an Illumin Valar; learning the healing and protection magic of a Sage. This does not stop the other citizens from shunning Barr. Yet, he’s gifted with a war hound and a hawk as companions and protection; a lofty bequest for a human. Barr quickly excels in his training, surprising his teachers. Although, he keeps quiet about the “day dreams”, fearing rebuke from those he has come to trust and love.

With an inviting story line, and an honest, solid cast, “The Last Incarnation: Book One of the Ascension” will enthrall young adult and adult readers, alike. Mr. Guinta’s story pulls the reader into a pictorial world filled with customary fantasy characters: shape-shifters, fey folks, and other mythical beings. Though a far richer, more intricate world develops from within the supporting secondary stories, revealed through snippets of Barr’s dreams, histories told by the elves, and private ponderings of his travel companions.

Unshakable prejudices, treachery, broken loyalties, even a little romance to stir the heart, keeps the reader engaged. Ceiran, an esteemed member of the governing council, accuses Barr of killing an elven guard. He must defend his innocence by defeating, and then killing his accuser. When Barr refuses to complete the ritualistic slaughter, he is casted out from the elven community. Leaving behind his only family and a woman who sparked his interest, Barr begins his journey of self-discovery and finding his father’s murderer.

In another realm, Daesidaoli scolds her mother for interfering with her son’s destiny. The Seeress warned them that any intervening act could alter the young man’s course, whether the prophecy comes true to not. No matter, as Arianaolis intends to give her grandson the bracelet, Aislin, believing it will provide protection; though hopes it will lead him back home.

“The Last Incarnation” also contains tasteful illustrations that support the coming chapter’s essence; as its cover art properly symbolizes the book’s core. It is an enjoyable story, opening a three book series, that will delight fantasy lovers.


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, June 16, 2007

My Story - G. R. Grove

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time ... Actually I didn't have any particular expectations. Storyteller has an unusual structure - it started as a monthly serial - and it doesn't fit easily in a standard category, but people who'd read the first part of it seemed to like it. I wanted to be able to share it with other friends and acquaintances in the Medieval recreation and Welsh heritage communities without spending a great deal of time and effort going though the agent/publisher submissions thing, which I've found to be an incredibly negative experience the few times I've tried it. The availability of self-publishing with Lulu motivated me to finish the book and get it out there.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I ran across a mention of Lulu in an article on the site, tried it out with a couple of volumes of poetry, liked the results, and decided to use it for the novel. No comparison shopping was involved.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

Yes - I'm making personal sales with a lot of people who know me (I actually am a storyteller myself), and some people who don't know me are even buying the book on Amazon. I've sold enough to pay for the distribution package and other up-front expenses, which meets my definition of success, and I have people waiting for the sequel, which should be out in October or November. And I've had several good reviews, which is cool.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

It depends on what you want to achieve. If your definition of success is bestseller, you'd probably better try the conventional route, at least for now. If you do decide to self-publish, get some outside editorial help, or at least an outside evaluation of your own abilities - that's where so many self-published authors fall down. I'm lucky there - I've had a lot of real-world experience doing technical writing and editing, so I'm ahead of the game. If you haven't had that sort of practice, ask someone who has, and believe what they tell you. You'll be glad you did.

To sum it all up, I did it, I liked it, and I'm going to do it again - soon!

G. R. Grove is a storyteller and poet. Her historical novel Storyteller is set in 6th century Wales, and follows the adventures and misadventures of a young man who wants to become a bard. She is currently working on the second book in the series, called The Flight of the Hawk.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

REVIEW: Republic by Charles Sheehan-Miles

TITLE: Republic
AUTHOR: Charles Sheehan-Miles
PRICE: $16.95
GENRE: Fiction, Alternative History
ISBN: 978-0-9794114-2-7
PUBLISHER: Cincinnatus Press
POINT OF SALE: Amazon, Lulu

Republic is Charles Sheehan-Miles’ second novel, and it’s an outstanding read. The book opens with a short prologue, and then puts us into the main action, three years later. Ken Murphy is a widowed single parent and middle manager at Saturn Microsystem’s plant in Highview, West Virginia. The plant, recently acquired by a corporate raider, is suddenly shut down, despite being profitable. The factory is by far the largest employer in town, and several hundred people are suddenly laid off with no notice, little recourse and no sympathy. Most people discover that the plant is closed when they pull up to a newly-installed fence, guarded by an armed state trooper. Chapter 1 ends with Murphy thinking that “desperate people do desperate things.”

This is immediately followed by a devastating terrorist bombing in Arlington, Virginia, which quickly involves the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the infantry company commanded by Captain Mike Morris. While Morris’ troops secure the site, DHS conducts a heavy-handed investigation into the bombing, consisting of rounding up Arab males. Back in Highview, the desperate townspeople decide to retake the plant. DHS shows up with armed helicopters and a SWAT team. Shots are fired, and a hundred workers are hauled away as suspected terrorists.

To say that things deteriorate from there is probably an understatement. Sheehan-Miles has delivered a nail-biting suspense thriller, and I can’t discuss much more of the plot without giving it away. I can talk about his outstanding writing and quite scary worldview.

The author extrapolates from our current fetish with terrorism and ham-fisted approaches to it, leading to an America where DHS agents photograph people attending ordinary civic events, and warn them that their mere presence might be construed as a terrorist act. Heaven forbid one is actually suspected of being a terrorist – a summary arrest is the least of one’s worries. It’s also a world where the forces of globalization, greed and special interest politics are hollowing out America. In Republic, corporations and the rich aren’t paying much in taxes, so common people’s tax rates go up and government services go down.

Sheehan-Miles does a great deal of work to avoid cardboard characters. His heroes, like Ken Murphy, aren’t perfect, nor does everybody agree as to the solution to the problem, even in the stricken town of Highview. His villains, especially the corporate raider Nelson Barclay, are a bit two-dimensional, but that may be a limitation from the lack of time on stage.

The book moves with the pace and inexorability of an express train, and not one word is extraneous. For example, Ken Murphy is also in the National Guard, a Lieutenant Colonel commanding an armor battalion. We’re told this early on, and it plays a critical role in the plot.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who enjoys thrillers, suspense or even current affairs. When you start reading, get comfortable, because you won’t be able to put it down. But this book isn’t just literary popcorn – you’ll be thinking of the issues and characters long after the book is finished. Republic is a damn good book, and Charles Sheehan-Miles should be proud of it.

RATING: 10 / 10

reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Chris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. Chris is the author of the science fiction novel The Mars Run. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The E-POD (that being myself) is in the process of changing jobs and moving herself and the significant puppy to a new abode in Chicago. I will post when I can but things might be a little quiet on the blog for a week or two.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

'My Story' -- Serdar Yegulalp

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

The more I saw about the way the publishing industry worked, especially in the sf/fantasy field, the more I realized I was trying to break into a field that was very closed -- and worse, that was growing increasingly uninterested in eclectic and experimental work. None of that stuff generates the sales of the six-novel cycles and space-war dynasties that seem to be all the rage right now, and I didn't want to write any of that stuff. I wanted to follow my own path and do things I thought were interesting to me, and not to a marketing person.

Another reason I wanted to do this was so I could set my own deadlines. I didn't want to come up with a great idea for a book and then be pushed to write it in a year when I'd need two or more to research it and make it work (especially since I'd be competing against my day job's schedule, which can be fatal).

I really don't expect to become a cult sensation, let alone an above-ground sensation. I'm far more famous in my day job than I'll probably ever be as a fiction writer, and I'm OK with that. If this leads to a book contract somewhere along the line (and I'll continue to push for that however I can), then great. If not, I'll be fine. I'll have written things, finished them, and made them available to people, and that's really all that counts.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I did some fair nosing around before settling on Lulu (I used Cafepress before a couple of times). There were a bunch of things that drew me to Lulu, and those attributes helped winnow away a great deal of the competition:

a) They tell you exactly what they are and they're non-exclusive. They're a printer, not a publisher, so there's none of the nonsense that surrounds outfits like PublishAmerica. I know at least one person who signed with them and really didn't know what she was getting herself into.

b) They're highly automated. From my Word document to the finished product, there's maybe a single intervening step. It's a little intimidating how cool that is. It also means you have to know EXACTLY what you're submitting to them, but now that I have that worked out it's far less of an issue.

c) The product is high quality and speaks for itself. I've gotten a lot of praise about the look of my books, although I suspect at least part of that was because I did bust my butt to make them look nice (as per your piece about my "Summerworld" cover art!).

d) The support staff is extremely helpful. When my proof copy came back all wrong, they walked me through what the probable source of any problems were, and refunded my money. I do suspect because I told them I'd be ordering 15 more come hell or high water, but hey, good service is good service no matter what the incentive.

e) Future growth possibilities via distribution packages (i.e., ISBN/barcoding, Amazon sales, etc.)

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

It's just barely gotten started, but people are unquestionably interested in my books -- I've sold quite a few out of the gate (mostly from people who were already anticipating its release), but I think the real payoff is going to come over time and in stages. On the whole, though, I'm really happy.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Assuming you haven't done this already: hire an editor. You're the only one who can make sure that manuscript is in tip-top shape. And if he rips the book apart, then you've got a hint as to how steep the hill is and how much climbing you've got to do. This goes back into "Write a book that will be worth the reader's time," which is Lit 101 stuff.

Get some kind of promotional version of the product into people's hands. The first four chapters of my book came out to exactly 32 pages, so I turned them into an "ashcan" booklet and sold them to people face-to-face for $1. They sold like mad, and drove peoples' interest back to the book. I generated a few sales quite easily by doing that. I also slipped copies of the ashcans in with existing copies of the book, so that someone could give them away to someone else -- a kind of low-end viral marketing. And, I have a downloadable PDF of the same four chapters on my website, but the ashcan is often easier for people to pick up and deal with (even if the print is really tiny).

Understand what sort of market this will open you up to and work accordingly. Self-publishing means that ALL of the work of marketing your book is in your hands. Fortunately, I like doing this kind of thing -- I like connecting with people directly rather than impersonally. It also means that most of your fans will probably be found by word of mouth, but that kind of fandom means infinite loyalty (you ARE planning to write more books, yes?). Go where you're likely to find readers for your books and propagandize them face-to-face whenever you can.

One other thing: I see a lot of self-published authors who have real trouble synopsizing their work and pitching it succinctly. Sometimes this means they can't write a good back-cover blurb, or simply explain the story to someone else while standing on a streetcorner. Practice this! Sometimes it's the only way you have to get people to know about your work.

Serdar Yegulalp

Friday, June 08, 2007

'My Story' -- J.A. Giunta

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

I had not written anything in 10 years, nor was I actively seeking representation. An acquaintance had mentioned self-publishing, and I thought it would be interesting to see some of my old work in print. Looking back, I can safely say I was naïve about a great many things. One of them was expecting to garner the interest of an agent/large publisher by self-publishing.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I did some research, including an e-book that examines the contracts of numerous self-publishing outfits, and settled on Booklocker. I still think they are one of the best.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

I believe a successfully self-published book sells around 1000 copies. To date, I’ve sold a few hundred. The only real goal I’ve set and achieved is nearly every person who has read my novel has enjoyed it. That has already exceeded my expectations.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Don’t. If you need copies of a small book that you sell at seminars, self-publishing might be a good route for you. For anyone who is serious about being a published author, fiction or otherwise, do not self-publish. I make it very clear to anyone I speak with, who read my novels, that I have no intention of self-publishing ever again once my current trilogy in completed. In my opinion, self-publishing a very small step above the vanity presses.

J.A. Giunta, Fantasy Author

Thursday, June 07, 2007

'The Tempest: Last Prayers Part 1' by S.F. Jones

Title: The Tempest: Last Prayers Part 1
Author: S. F. Jones
Price: $15.88, paperback; $8.17, ebook
Genre: Historical
ISBN: na
Publisher: Tyger's Head books/Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu

Civil war breaks out as Royalists and Parliamentarians fight for England’s rule. King Charles I supports the “Divine Right of Kings”, whereas Parliament views this as seeking absolute control. Beginning in 1642, the Cavaliers, in support of the King, and the Roundheads, Parliament followers, launch the first of three conflicts that frames the English Civil War period.

Serving in several prior battles for the crown, George Lisle just wants the hostilities to end so he can go home. Fatigue fuels his private cynicism surrounding many of his comrades’ misplaced allegiance; their joining the Royalists stems more from love of money than resolute fidelity towards the King. He also discerns his family’s vulnerability in London; where from the onset, remains under Parliament rule. It is common knowledge that the Lisle family holds a long lineage that unequivocally supports the monarchy, not Parliament.

A hardy detailed war account, “The Tempest: Last Prayers Part 1” features the first part of England’s Civil War era. In summary, Parliament wants a greater political voice within the monarchy but King Charles I refuses, as a result he fights for his “Divine Right of Kings”; “…that a monarch owes his rule to the will of God, and not necessarily to the will of his subjects, the aristocracy or any other competing authority, implying that any attempt to depose him or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God.” (

Readers who enjoy a robust historical war novel will delight in this story as Ms. Jones maintains historical accuracy without embellishment. Even with the supposed dialog, most often not recorded throughout history, she obviously combines imagination with her military reenactor and researcher experiences to give these period characters soul. The story aptly shows both sides of the war possessing formidable and determined people fighting for a worthy cause, resulting in a palpable stubborn allegiance towards their key leaders. Yet, its central figure is George Lisle, a man who suffers an erratic stutter, and who has maintained a compassionate veneer throughout his notable military career.

As George follows Prince Rupert’s command, he becomes discontent with the military’s uncharitable treatment of prisoners and villagers, while unconsciously pillaging the town of all reserves. When confronting Prince Rupert with this opinion, George extends his resignation after the Prince expresses utter disregard for his men’s uncivilized behavior. Prince Rupert’s past military experience condones such practices so saw the men’s actions as “…war-like things”. His devotion to King Charles I apparent as George resumes his command; though also dictated by the Prince who threatens to charge him with desertion if he did not.

As a reviewer who endeavors to refrain from “I” statements, “I” must admit to not appreciating war stories, though relishing historical fiction. “The Tempest: Last Prayers Part 1” is a well written, enlightening book that I will acquaint like people towards, extending a challenge to broaden their literary repertoire.


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, June 05, 2007

'My Story' -- Will Entrekin

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

Well, first, I self-published a collection of short fiction, essays, and poetry, and I did so because I'm at the University of Southern California, in their Master's in Professional Writing program, which is sort of like an MFA but with more valuable professors (mine have done everything from writing White Oleander and Shakespeare in Love to directing Star Wars: Episode V-- The Empire Strikes Back and collaborating with Soderbergh). One of the requirements of my classes so far has not only been to produce work of publishable quality but also to submit them to publications. In order to do so, we students must research and analyze the marketplace; the quality of that marketplace research is part of our grade.

After completing several pieces, I simply discovered that the market for short pieces is no longer viable. The New Yorker and Esquire don't really publish anyone whose name isn't Chabon or McEwan anymore, and the smaller magazines... well, you're looking at limited distribution and tiny remuneration, if not simply payment in complimentary copies.

And so I self-published. I was an editor for three years and know lay-out and design, and all of the work in my collection was workshopped. I didn't really have expectations to make much coin or to get my foot in the door; I simply wanted to make available a small but eclectic sample of my creative work to date. In addition, I had an innovative idea for publishing...

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I chose Lulu because they were the ones that would allow me to try this new publishing model, which I look at as the "iTunes model." Basically, I designed and laid out each individual work included in the collection, then made them all available as downloadable e-books, much like singles in the music industry. I made the essays free for download, under the mindset that I would have blogged them, anyway, and that they would serve as good previews for people not yet familiar with my work. The short stories, some of which are viewable on iPods and all of which are viewable on Treos and other handheld media devices, range in price from 99 cents to $1.99.

And then, of course, they are all available in the collection, which is available in either a print version or a downloadable e-book.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

Very much so. I'd maintained a popular MySpace blog for more than a year, and hadn't really had any material goals beyond having a collection of creative work available. Mission accomplished there. The sales and reception have, so far, far exceeded my expectations. PODler gave the collection a rather stellar review, and I've attracted the attention of several agents.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Know what you're doing. Self-publishing should not be an instance of last resort, nor circumventing the traditional publishing industry. If one is going to do it, one should understand not only what one is undertaking but also why it is the best option for what one is hoping to accomplish. Intimate knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as all of the computer programs (e.g., Word, InDesign, and Photoshop) is crucial, as is knowledge of marketing and new media.

My book, Entrekin, is a collection of short stories, nonfiction, and poetry. Its content is eclectic, covering everything from Jesus of Nazareth and Edgar Allan Poe to sperm donation and the attacks of September 11th, 2001 (and $1 from the sale of every book is donated to the United Way NYC). I'm a student in the MPW program at the University of Southern California, studying with Janet Fitch and Irvin Kershner.

The URL is

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Closing to all submissions....

Sorry, we have a full house of both paperback and ebook submissions so we are closing to submissions in both formats until further notice.

'Rise and Walk' by Gregory Solis

Title: Rise and Walk
Author: Gregory Solis
Price: $16.99, paperback
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 978-1-4303-0600-9, paperback
Publisher: Hadrian Publishing/Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu
Books a Million: $18.69,
Eruditor: $21.99,
Barnes and Noble: $16.99,
Amazon: $16.99,

Nestled in the Sierra Mountains a small California town is the recipient of a meteor, giving a camping geology class a rare opportunity of scientific discovery. Collecting samples confirms the iron composition of the astral debris… a true meteor. Impatient to wait for the small mass to cool, a student pours lake water over the hot iron. The green mist emitting from the meteor kills a few students close by, though severely burning others. The following events can only be described as a frenzied cannibalism.

Trained in martial arts and the Kendo sword fighting, Jack and Tony, friends since childhood, are in Whisper, California for a paintball tournament. Veronica and Nikki work in the campground convenience store, while their boss, Andy works with the contestants for the weekend warfare competition. As the game begins, the college students have devoured a family of three, a teenager, and a fisherman; so increasing their flesh eating numbers. Their pursuit for fresh “meat” carries on, scouring the woods for more unsuspecting campers and other visitors. Even the forest ranger makes for exquisite take-out.

Riveting terror … fast-paced action…intense suspense makes for an entertaining, attention-grabbing horror tale. “Rise and Walk” is superbly orchestrated as it opens with a captivating first chapter, and then continues to hold the reader’s attention through the rest of the story. Genuine sturdy characters give authenticity to the uncontrolled terror reigning in this small town. Mr. Solis creates a plausible scenario where zombies quickly consume practically all the mountain inhabitants, though realistically fended off by four young people who possess a strong sense of survival. Providing additional intrigue is a paintball tournament, where Lance, the son of wealthy parents, rigs the competition to lean in his favor. Two chapters comprise of this event, offering a nice reprieve from the gory dining.

The two men and two women come together after Veronica discovers an injured man while walking in the woods, so seeks help. She stumbles across Jack and Tony, entertaining Nikki; she delivered their paintball prize money. Following Veronica back to where the man was last seen, they find he has disappeared. Yet, a short distance away, the foursome observes a man staggering towards them, with his throat torn away. Banning together they plan an escape only to face the enemy again…zombies can smell fresh “live” meat from a great distance.

Overall… one of the best horror novel’s I have read in a while.


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.

'My Story': Chris Gerrib

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?
Frankly, I felt that my novel, The Mars Run, was a good read, but not "commercial" enough. It's too short (50,000 words) and the plot is episodic vs. the classic three-act plot. I expected to make a few sales, have fun, and maybe get my foot in the door with an agent or publisher for other work.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?
I went with for a simple reason - they were cheap yet reliable. There are a lot of POD shops, such as Publish America, that have a bad reputation as to not actually delivering what they promise. Other POD shops, such as BookSurge, want to sell editing via their in-house editors. BookSurge in particular also has very high pricing. My book goes for $12.95 on Amazon. Via BookSurge, the same book would retail for $15.95.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?
Well, I've made a few sales and had fun, but the "foot in the door" thing hasn't worked out yet.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?
Don't! Seriously, self-publishing for novels should be a last resort. Send it out to a few agents and publishers. If you get turned down, and you understand why, then consider self-publishing. I've seen too many self-published books that are just miserably bad. If the book isn't any good, self-publishing is just a waste of money and time. If you do self-publish, you'll need a thick skin, because you will get some bad reviews.

Chris Gerrib is the author of the science fiction novel The Mars Run. This story is a new-future adventure of commercial travel to Mars, involving piracy and natural disasters. Warning: contains adult language and situations.

URLs: Amazon, Lulu

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Your Story

I know we have a few self-published writers dropping by the blog and I would like to hear from you. As I have mentioned I am not a self-published author myself and so have little in the way of useful advice when it comes to the process of self-publishing. So I would like to invite you to send me your experiences--particularly answers to the following:

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Please send your answers to with the subject line 'My Story'--and attach a cover and url and up to 100 words about your book to attach as a byline.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Friday, June 01, 2007

'Anti Christ: A Satirical End of Days' by Matthew Moses

Title: Anti Christ: A Satirical End of Days
Author: Matthew Moses
Price: $17.95, paperback
Genre: Fantasy/Humor
ISBN: 978-1-60145-110-1, paperback
Publisher: Book Locker
Point of Sale:
Amazon: $17.95
Barnes and Noble: $17.95

As told in _Anti Christ: A Satirical End of Days_ the world is in chaos – proving reality infuses fiction. Russia is eliminating democracy, returning to an authoritarian government. The US is fighting government corruption charges as a possible war between Pakistan and India formulates. Now China wants to rule Taiwan…the global issues never end.

On a civilian scale, Matthew Ford is an average college guy, suffering the usual issues. After waiting three hours, his internet date is a no show, the bookstore refuses to refund a book he just bought, and then his car gets a flat tire as it begins to snow. Arriving home, Matt’s horrendous day ends peacefully once he throws out the ghost, haunting him for the last time. Okay, so this act is not usual however, it garners the attention of Heaven now commercialized and a power hungry Hell, both warring against the other to gain Earth peoples’ majority support. As for his awareness of the previously mentioned world issues, Matt was busy watching professional wrestling; his priorities are quite clear.

Mr. Moses composes an engaging, humorous parody, drawing from timeless world events and American life. The U.S. President Lucas is a ditz, believing that Kashmir – in India - is a sweater company, and cannot understand why Pakistan wants that particular cloth. It’s not material they want, it’s all about the land. Russia’s President Romanov wants to return his country into greatness. He dissolves the Duma, their legislative body, assuming sole leadership. After President Lucas’ lengthy warning that the U.S. will defend democracy, Romanov, a taciturn man, replies with a barbed curse, “F--- America”. Now that is honest communication.

The true witticism shines as Matt begins an enlightened journey first to Heaven, followed by Hell, then to the mystic Buddhist temples, and then back again to Heaven. Instigating this trek are two cherubs who abduct Matt, claiming the “Boss” wants to meet. Once in Zion (Heaven), the cherubs loose Matt, who wanders into a place called “Gabriel’s”. God’s Archangels now congregate in a local tavern since Heaven and Hell signed a peace treaty two thousand years ago, outlawing wars. They drown their sorrows in unending chalices of holy water or engage in wrestling smack downs in the tavern’s backroom; releasing pent up hostilities. The crowning moment is when Matt finally meets Jesus demanding that he take back the ghost he threw out; Heaven is overcrowded since Christ took over management.

The slapstick continues with attacks on big business, worker’s unions, fad diets, immigration, military assistance in foreign countries, reincarnation…not even the Pope is exempt from this fast paced, captivating farce. Still, when Satan entices Matt into becoming the world’s elite guru of wisdom, the amusing dialog turns gloomy. They attend congressional sessions discussing stem cell research and lecture overweight people simply to stop eating; naming only a few topics that some readers may not find amusing, in any form.

Yet, _Anti Christ_ is a satire, _“a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule”_ (definition from…hmmm, Mr. Moses has done his job well. His characters are well formed, genuine, aptly supporting this cabaret of imaginative intrigue. Even the typo, right at the beginning, “CwHyAPTER 1” only adds to this wacky novel. And yes, I roared with laughter throughout this distinctive book.


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.