Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HALLOWEEN FREEVIEW: 'The Art of Human Sacrifice' by Patrick Mackeown

TITLE: The Art of Human Sacrifice
AUTHOR: Patrick Mackeown
PRICE: free

The Art of Human Sacrifice is competently written. The only issue I have with presentation that that paragraphs are marked with indents, but intermittently they are also separated by a blank line for no apparent reason.

The idea might be familiar to a lot of people. At least I doubt I was the only one that had late night conversation about the abstract possibility of killing someone at random and getting away with it. Only for the protagonist of this first person tale the issue suddenly gets a lot less abstract. The idea of the story is undeniably interesting.

I liked how the plot which took a slight twist near the end but felt it could have been resolved more emphatically. I guess this short story would make me somewhat more interested in reading the author's longer work, but not enough to reach for my credit card.

RATING: 6/10

Reviewed by Emily Veinglory: Emily Veinglory is a writer of m/m erotic romance and fantasy with a dark or paranormal twist. Her fantasy novel King of Dragons, King of Men is now available on

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

HALLOWEEN REVIEW: 'Sanctuary of the Mind' by Michael Southard

TITLE: Sanctuary of the Mind
AUTHOR: Michael Southard
PRICE: Free E-Book
GENRE: Horror, Psychological Thriller

A Horrific Tale of a mind torn to shreds by drug addiction...or perhaps not?

Perky is your average substance abuser, living a life of petty crime in order to fulfil his needs, and spending his time with a loser crack-whore girlfriend who has no interest in him other than the drug-induced euphoria he provides. The oddity with Perky is that he must be doing quite well in the petty crime industry as he has an apartment and a few more possessions than most drug-addled wasteoids.

This short story, which has the leanings of a novella, begins with an intense retrospective: A man solemnly chewing over the fact that his life had gone terribly wrong. His faith in himself has diminished to terror-fuelled paranoia and the LSD is the only thing that dulls anguish...or rather -- dulls the voices.

But those voices won’t let up and defy his attempt to ignore them, manifesting into a tangible alter-ego, which Perky cannot only hear but can see and touch...and the voices are this monster’s legion of friends. LSD Hallucination??? Or not!

The story is well written; the language is uncluttered and concise, and the imagery is eerie, grim, and chilling. This is a short story, coming in at a mere thirty-six pages, but it keeps its intensity throughout and is heavy on internal dialog and chaotic personal reflection as in much of the works of Poe or Lovecraft. As Perky’s sanity dissolves, he begins to imagine his girlfriend as a succubus fiend who will drain his essence before killing him in some vile and tortuous way. He believes the doppelganger to be his guardian angel, sent to save all men from the evils of women. But that theory couldn’t be farther from the truth...

A very promising start! Very suspenseful...I hope to see more in-depth work from this author -- an author who clearly has a grasp on horror -- it’s not all cliché monsters.

7/10 Rating mostly due to some formatting and grammatical issues, which could easily be corrected.

Reviewed by Cheryl Anne Gardner: Cheryl Anne Gardner, author of four novellas, is an Executive Assistant by day, an avid reader, and an independent reviewer with Podpeople.blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.

HALLOWEEN REVIEW: 'A Clash of Fangs' by Roger Hyttinen

Sorry for the slightly late start to Halloween review week.

TITLE: A Clash of Fangs
AUTHOR: Roger Hyttinen
PRICE: 16.95
GENRE: Gay, romance, horror
ISBN: 978-0595207138
PUBLISHER: iUniverse

Even when it came out in 2001 'A Clash of Fangs' must have been a little dated. It is a paranormal gay romance rather than a horror. I picked it for Halloween because the blurb suggests our hero, Steve, had fallen for a man who was not just a vampire, but a murderer--a real monster. It seemed to me that that couldn't end well, there had to be an element of horror.

As it turned out, and not to give too much away, I was wrong. What remains is a competently written romance adventure with plucky gay hero's facing an evil vampire. The overall tale is easy enough to read but never riveting. I would also have to vote the vampire on the cover doesn't exactly look like the ravishing hunk described inside.

For quality of writing it might have scored a little higher but gay vampire romance is actually something of a cliche these days and this one is very much inside the box. For something a little more invigorating that really puts a twist on the mythos and tackles the monster/lover conundrum head on check out Running Dry by M Christian.

RATING: 6/10

Reviewed by Emily Veinglory: Emily Veinglory is a writer of m/m erotic romance and fantasy with a dark or paranormal twist. Her fantasy novel King of Dragons, King of Men is now available on

Tomorrow: 'Sanctuary of the Mind' by Michael Southard

Monday, October 29, 2007

To Blog is Human (to Comment, Divine?)--veinglory

Every day I drop by three or four other book review blogs. There are about a dozen review-blogs I visit at least once a week. And one things I have noticed recently is that the book reviews generally receive the fewest comments.

Some of these blogs are about self-published books, some about ebooks, romance or science non-fiction. The pattern is the same across formats and genres. Why is it that the main purpose of the blog is least commented upon?

The best explanation I could think of is that content doesn't cause comment, opinion does. A review may be around 50% opinion but it is based on a text. That means only people who have read the book are likely to respond. Some types of news are simply things that have happened, there isn't much to say about it.

But once a blogger editorialises, speculates or just states an opinion based on general impressions or Internet sources then the reader immediately agrees, disagrees or otherwise forms their own impression. And it is that process that leads to a comment.

The question is, are the other fifty or so silent visitors here for the reviews... or the views? Does it matter? Even if opinion is the meat, surely reviews are the skeleton that gives the blog purpose and structure? Or are they just a good excuse for the surrounding gossip?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

'ClimBing' by Henk van Os--veinglory

TITLE: ClimBing
AUTHOR: Henk van Os
PRICE:paperback $36.15
PUBLISHER: Corporelligence bv

I took a look at ClimBing rather on impulse. The book is just over 100 pages long and each page is a colorful work of digital art. There are flashes of brilliance, humor, concepts and craft. I found the progression of the illustrations ultimately most interesting as a glimpse into one person's creative world and process. The motif of a ladder makes connections between the works which have a self-confident, vivid quality that I found appealing even when an individual work didn't strike me as 100% successful. The artist's work is spirited and prolific enough for a few lapses in techniques and presentation to not be a serious flaw.

Several of the pieces appealed to me enough that I would be more than happy to have them on my currently boring white and bare apartment walls. I hope Henk van Os either is, or will consider, making them available as prints. At over $30 the print copy is rather expensive, no doubt unavoidable when a book contains so many full color pages. However the book works very well on the computer if you set your screen to fit a page at a time rather than trying to view them by scrolling up and down. The preview gives a reasonable indication of the book's content and quality but it does develop page upon page. I hope the ebook price will be low enough to encourage readers to take a chance on ClimBing even if they don't usually buy art books.

RATING: 7/10

Friday, October 26, 2007

In the Media--veinglory

On page 12 of National Geographic, November 2007.

The book, a showcase of truck/trucker photography, is available from Kim Reierson's website.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The PODler blog is back!

Policy for the Disposal of Review Copies--veinglory

It strikes me that POD People should have a policy for the disposal of review copies. My suggestion is the following:

"Review copies may be retained by the reviewer for their personal use. If they do not choose to retain the book they will delete it (for ebooks) or discard or donate it to a charitable cause (for print copies). Review copies should not be resold.

Ebooks that are not selected by any reviewer within six month will be deleted. If a reviewer requests a print book and is unable to provide a review the book will be passed to a second reviewer able to make a firm commitment to providing a review.

If an author has a special request regarding book disposal they should make this request clear in their submission and we will do our best to accommodate it."

Monday, October 22, 2007

I can haz news?--veinglory


I apologise for the gratuitous LOLcat. But you gotta love them. I have another question.

Where do you find your self-POD news and gossip?

(Because I need to find this stuff out so I can post it here).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hi all. I have a question.

Currently authors are not told about their reviews by direct email. Mainly because I never really thought about it. I saw it as: author gives book to reviewer, reviewer gives review to reader. If I am going to suggest a more mercinary reason it might be that the author wants a review, the webmaster wants hit.

I am not sure what I want the hits for, but if I didn't want them I wouldn't have a blog, right? So unconsciously I might prefer authors to be checking the blog rather than sitting back and waiting for notification.

Do you think authors should be notified when the review goes up?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

In general I have been a little scathing about writers who invent the name of a "publisher", obfuscating that their book is self-published. I have seen many cases where the identity of the press is further shored up by accepting submissions from other authors. Often followed by less than deft editing, packaging and promotion--leading eventually to disappointment, acrimony and threats of legal action.

But then I came across rare but legitimate stories such as Maggie Anton's (author of the Rashi's Daughters books) where the front press opened the door to mainstream success. And I find myself reading opinions such as the following by Christopher J. Jarmick with more of an open mind.

" don't have to come right out at tell them it is a self-published book and if you have been reviewed in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal etc.. and the book looks as if it was published by a quality small press, then omitting that detail will give you a chance of getting a review."

Especially as it is followed by:

"If a book editor contacts you and asks you point blank if it is a self-published book, then you must decide if you want to lie and risk pissing off the book editor or worse... "

So what do other authors think about misdirection and lies of omission to avoid the roadblocks normally faced by self-published books?

Friday, October 19, 2007

SubSurdity by Eric Arvin

TITLE: SubSurdity: Vignettes from Jasper Lane
AUTHOR: Eric Arvin
PRICE: 12.95
GENRE: Literature/Gay and Lesbian
ISBN: 978-0595-45482-2
PUBLISHER: Iuniverse

Snooty, sexually repressed, self-righteous, bible-beating suburban lawn Nazi Melinda Louise Gold has the perfect suburban life: perfect hair, perfect clothes, and a house that just screams, “Look at me!” Life couldn’t be more perfect on Jasper Lane. And then James moved into the neighbourhood with his running shorts and exposed nipples, adding just one too many half-naked gay men to her perfect paradise. But sometimes the illusion of paradise is just that, what goes on behind closed doors may not be as pretty as the shutters on the house. This story got off to a roaring start.

As we meet the cast of characters:
Terrence gives Ricky sanctuary upon his break-up with a gambling addict, which resulted in the loss of his eye; and then there is David and his porn star steroid enhanced boyfriend Cliff; Cassie with the secret government agent dead husband, whom everyone gossips that she might have killed him herself; Becky who does editing in the porn industry…Not to mention Steve, who recently lost his job and can’t begin to fathom how to overcome his feelings of being a disappointment to his wife. We also have sexy UPS men, a drag queen, and naked running military man who has just discovered he shares a secret with his deceased uncle.

The story is well written and the dark humour is funny as hell, witty, sarcastic, campy even, and yet so full of truth. The story has a wonderful mix—shaken not stirred—of quirky albeit rather clichéd soap-opera styled characters, and it reads a little like the script to a Queer as folk/Desperate Housewives episode, gay porn parties and all. But that’s not a bad thing. There is a lot going on with this grouping of oddly intertwined lives. The catch is, these are all very normal everyday lives and that is the beauty in this type of story—it exacerbates the ordinary and makes us laugh at our own ridiculous struggles and miseries. We have everything represented in this tale: marital issues, job loss, errant teenagers, Christian moral values at stake, illegitimate children, wicked mother-in-laws, addictions, block parties, pornography, tinis and sex in the afternoon, a little stereotypical bigotry, a minor jewellery entanglement, intrigue, desperation .. and some of the sex scenes are absolutely hysterical. Oh, did I mention the dead body?

This book is a good fun comedic romp into the absurdity of the suburban lifestyle—albeit a dark yet very realistic one, as the subplots provide for some very serious themes. And although the ending is predictable, it still gets you where it counts, right in the heart.

You don’t have to be gay to relate to the struggles in this story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes gripping human drama peppered with a little camp to lighten the mood. This is also a remarkably clean text; I only noted a few typos.


reviewed by Cheryl Ann Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner, author of four novellas, is an Executive Assistant by day, an avid reader, and an independent reviewer with Podpeople.blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


This review is of a free story, available at the link provided. If you have a free story under 20,000 words available online please feel free to send a link to podpeep at, even when general submissions are closed.

: Mathew Bellingham
GENRE: Horror

First off, the story could have been presented better. A free story to show off one’s work to the public as a teaser should be as polished as anything offered for sale – more so actually, as this might be the only piece a new reader is willing to take a chance on. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it can be slap-dash. Which in this case, it is: no pleasing formatting, the punctuation and grammar are atrocious, and again, it is all tell and no show. Shorts need to pack a punch when it comes to imagery; this one, while it was a rather comical take on the traditional and overly cliché zombie theme, left me flat and unaffected. I also noted way too many elements borrowed from classic zombie stories like Night of the Living Dead – minus the mood, that is. Too much wisecracking dialog and not enough dramatic scene setting. Not that I don’t like humorous horror; Shaun of the Dead was absolutely fantastic. This is not that good; it could be, but it’s not.

But all is not lost; with a good deal more editing, an overhaul of the dialog, and a bit of added depth when it comes to the imagery, this author could have something really good. Zombified grannies. I loved the theme, and the end was spot on…just a shame it had no bite to it.


reviewed by Cheryl Ann Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner, author of four novellas, is an Executive Assistant by day, an avid reader, and an independent reviewer with Podpeople.blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chasing Loose Nukes by Lt. Col. Derek Duke, USAF, ret.

AUTHOR: Lt. Colonel Derek Duke, USAF, retired
PRICE: $13.42 (paper) $0.99 (download)
PUBLISHER: Dungan Books

On February, 5, 1958, a pair of B-47 bombers from the US Air Force engaged in a training mission with F-86 night-fighters. One of the F-86s collided with a B-47, and the F-86 crashed. The B-47 successfully landed, but had to jettison its Mark 15 Mod 0 hydrogen bomb into the ocean. The bomb was jettisoned over Warsaw Sound off of Tybee Island, Georgia. The USAF conducted a 90 day long search, but was unable to find the bomb.

This is the summary of facts about the Savannah lost nuclear bomb. The author, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Duke, USAF (retired), believes that the bomb is armed, and capable of detonating at any time. Since the weapon has a 3 megaton nuclear yield, the city of Savannah would be destroyed if it went off. His book, Chasing Loose Nukes, is ostensibly about the hunt for this weapon.

Except that it’s not. The first chapter of “Chasing Loose Nukes” is a rant about radiation exposure suffered during the US above-ground nuclear testing program. Chapter 2 is about the accident and response, concluding with a reproduction of the ordinance passed by the City Council of Tybee Island, GA, requesting that the Air Force find the bomb. The next several chapters are about other “Broken Arrow” incidents, which is the military term for lost nuclear weapons, including Chapter 7, which lists all “known” incidents. It’s not until Chapter 8 when we get back to the actual search. Even then, there is a lengthy digression about the 9/11 attacks, including the author’s efforts to secure the flight line of a pilot training operation at the municipal airport during the attack.

Several more chapters are devoted to detailed technical specifications of all aircraft involved in the Savannah incident, and the book closes with an epilogue admitting that they didn’t find the bomb. Following this, another 111 pages are devoted to appendixes providing technical information. One such appendix lists the radiation levels found in Warsaw Sound, which were deemed to be normal, and indicative of the bomb still being intact.

The book takes a very argumentative tone, in numerous places accusing the government of deliberate negligence with regards to weapons and radiation. In many cases, the government was indeed negligent. But one key allegation of “negligence” is very much in dispute, namely is the Savannah weapon armed?

Col. Duke says it is, based on testimony by the Assistant Secretary of Defense, given to Congress in 1966. The Air Force says it’s not, and one piece of contemporaneous proof, reproduced as an image in the book, agrees with the Air Force. The Mark 15 Mod 0 bomb consisted of two parts – a bomb proper and a removable detonator. Detonator is probably a bad word – thermonuclear bombs like the Mark 15 use a small atomic bomb to start the nuclear reaction. The Air Force, and a receipt, reproduced in the book, says the detonator was not on board. Despite this, Col. Duke repeatedly says the bomb could go off and wipe out the Savannah area.

Based on my military experience, it would seem to me that somebody in the Air Force back in 1958 would have taken a physical inventory of detonators and bombs after the accident, regardless of what the receipt said. If they weren’t short of detonators but were light one bomb, the conclusion would be obvious. The book does not discuss whether or not that was done.

Regarding the book as a piece of literature, I have to say I have mixed feelings about it. It tends to ramble, and the author has taken the “kitchen sink” approach to information – when in doubt, throw it in. The tone varies widely from chapter to chapter, sometimes being as conversational as two guys in a bar, other times more formal. The conversational chapters are most controversial.

In several of the these chapters, the author rails against Defense Secretary McNamara, and provides testimony from former Air Force soldiers to the effect that “we always armed bombs, even during training.” The author seems to think that there was no difference between “alert” missions and “training” missions, and assumes that any mission flown by a nuclear bomber was an “alert” mission. He believes that training missions were labeled as such merely because we were not at war. Despite the author’s Air Force service, he was a transport pilot, not a bomber, and so has very limited personal experience with nuclear weapons.

In the end, it is very difficult to rate the book. On formatting and technical matters, it is competently executed. On content, it is one-sided and argumentative.


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.

News from the Blogverse

When self-publishing goes bad; parts of David Gemmell’s Dark Prince appear in Lanaia Lee's self published Of Atlantis.
From: DearAuthor
See also where the author's agent chimes in.
at: Making Light
And the trail leads to the infamous Christopher Hill
see: Writer Beware

The slippery slope: Self-publishing versus Small Press--Cheryl Anne Gardner

Every new author longs to be picked up by a publisher; that is a career dream for most writers, to do what they love for a living. So what does an author do while they wait amid the flurry of rejections letters and manuscripts collecting dust. If they want to see their work in print, they have but two choices: Self-publish or seek out a Small Press. Both of these are very respectable choices, no matter what people say regarding stigmas or other ridiculous notions perpetuated by the publishing industry, agents, and critics alike. I have read some excellent work from both. But the choice is not easy and both have their share of risks.

Self-publishing is a labour of love in more respects than simply the writing. It’s not for the squeamish nor it is for those who lack the digital skills required for such an endeavour. Covers must be designed, editing must done, typesetting, proper book formatting, and marketing, not to mention the legal issues involved such as copyright registration and properly documenting where you got that artwork for your cover … All these must be done, and it must be done to the level of professionalism the consumer has come to expect from the traditional publishing industry. The upside for authors, well, you have total and complete control of how shabby your product will be … or not. Once the critics and readers get a hold of your work, you will know, hopefully, if all your long hours of toil paid off.

Now, for those authors who do not possess the skill or simply do not want to take on the monumental tasks required to self-publish, you can seek out a small Indie press. Presumably, this gives more credibility to your work (in some circles I guess) and it alleviates many of the extraneous burdens a self-pub author has to face. But this is where things can get a little scary and a little dangerous … for the author. How does one find a qualified small press? A slippery question that one, as thousands of small presses out there are basically a person or two running the show from their basement, or a stand-alone author using a small press name to shield themselves from the stigma of self-publishing. Basically, it’s author beware and do your research. A press, no matter how small or large, should do the basics and do them well: Design your cover; typeset the book and format it professionally; provide an ISBN; provide listing and distributions services; have a competent editor who is attentive and available; and at least provide an intelligent press release (other marketing services may be done depending on the scale of the press). A true press should offer these bare minimums to its clients in return for a share of the profit.

So, how does an author know if the press is legit and can provide the proper level of service?
1. Check the press’s other releases and see what the rankings look like.
2. Look at reader reviews of the those releases.
3. Ask to see samples of their recent press releases, marketing kits, or tear sheets.
4. Ask if the editor is experienced in your genre and if they have any credentials to justify their editor status. I am not talking a degree being necessary, as a secretary by profession edits millions of business documents a year in some cases.
5. Buy a copy of one of their releases and check the editing and formatting yourself. Compare it to traditionally published books, from the front matter to the back cover, and do it with a discerning consumer eye.
6. Make sure you will maintain your rights. If a contract is required, have a professional look at it in order to make certain you will get what your writing deserves. I would question any press that offers publication services without an airtight legitimate contract. This should outline payment schedules, timelines, your legal obligations as far as producing the product, and your options should you desire to go somewhere else. These are but a few.
7. And make sure your expectations align with what the Press can provide. Do they specialize in your genre or do they take whatever comes along. Specialty presses are best.

The worst-case scenario for both options is you end up with a shoddy piece of work out there for the entire world to see. I am not talking about the actual story, opinions vary greatly regarding content and writing styles, I am strictly speaking of presentation. No matter how well you write, or how fantastic and original your story might be, no one will read it if it looks like a 5th grader slapped it together, edited it, and doodled on the cover. And if they do buy it, you can be certain they will post their disappointment in a rather unpleasant fashion via a review on the product page of your work – ruining your credibility.

Cheryl Anne Gardner, author of four novellas, is an Executive Assistant by day, an avid reader, and an independent reviewer with Podpeople.blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More about paying for reviews--veinglory

So, I got a little laconic yesterday, to expand:

It is not, in my opinion, a problem if book reviewers are paid. Professional book reviewers are a vanishing breed but there are still quite a few semi-professionals out there. My opinion (and, hey, it may just be me) is that for reviews to have their intended function they must be paid for by readers. This may be directly through the purchase of magazines devoted to or including reviews, it may be indirectly through advertising revenue, but if there is financial input and it is not from readers the review immediate begins to lose integrity and serve other purposes (such as stroking the author's ego).

Now, I have reviewed for groups that charge money for 'expedited' reviews, specifically TCM and Book Pleasures. I continue to think these are basically useful and legitimate sites and if I had the time I would still be reviewing for Book Pleasures. Saying authors should not pay for reviews is not a blanket condemnation of organisations that will allow authors to pay (even though impatience is a rather silly basis for parting with one's cash when the same service is available for free a few weeks later). But I do consider that aspect of the site's overall conduct ill-advised.

A parallel might be drawn to basically legitimate publishers who do things that are not in the author's best interest, but the overall package is still legitimate and worth while (e.g. paying royalties on net, rights grabs or charging 'set up' frees for POD editions). The publisher may be exemplary and their overall conduct very beneficial to authors, but these specific practices are still not good for authors. I am, of course, giving you my altogether subjective take on things but I consider that the more you pay for a review, the less it is worth. It is likely to be given less credence and attention by readers, which defeats the entire purpose of the enterprise.

Now we all do our own analyses and decide where to draw the line. For example, one of my books appears in an advertisement at Romantic Times. Currently Romantic Times requires small presses to buy ad space to qualify for reviews. This is an indirect method of charging for reviews and so not a good idea. I would not buy an advertisement for these reasons, but if my publisher chooses to do so I am certainly not going to tell them how to conduct their business. They know more about publishing than I do and where they take out advertisements is entirely their concern.

Several things to keep in mind are that self-POD books are generally low volume. So you shouldn't spend money on things that are unlikely to earn back the money--and it is likely to make more sense to invest your time and energy in obtain reviews for free. Even if you are not bothered about making money, paying for reviews may actually leave you worse off. For example some review services also include insincere amazon reviews, general spamming and semi-literate press releases as part of the package--and bad publicity can indeed be worse than none at all.

So, if you choose to pay, make sure you are getting your money's worth. As of now I cannot think of any fee-charging review service that is likely to yield a profit on the investment.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Do not pay for reviews--veinglory

Here is my 2c: do not pay for book reviews. Do not pay $50 for book reviews from "Xavier House Publishing". Do not pay $119 for an expedited review at Book Pleasures. Do not pay $400 for a review from Kirkus. Do not pay for reviews.

If the only way you can get a review is to bribe the reviewer you have bigger problems than the self-POD glass ceiling.

Monday, October 08, 2007

FREEVIEW: 'A Desperate Cry' by Lisa Robertson

This review is of a free story, available at the link provided. If you have a free story under 20,000 words available online please feel free to send a link to podpeep at, even when general submissions are closed.

TITLE: A Desperate Cry
AUTHOR: Lisa Robertson
GENRE: horror short story
ISBN: n/a

Providing a free short story makes perfect sense as a marketing plan. When it comes to self-published authors the reader typically has no way at all to know whether the book will be excellent or tortuously terrible. So Lisa Roberston who has a detective novel and poetry collection for sale offers us a short (and I mean very short at somewhat less than two pages) sample to get some idea of her writing abilities.

Unfortunately the story has been poorly edited with stray punctuation marks and awkward phrasing. The story itself is melodramatic without any real plot or greater message. A somewhat unhinged woman waits for her tardy lover and his lack of consideration has bloody consequences. However knowing very little about either character I has no particular feeling about this outcome.

Very short stories need to have a real impact be it beautiful expression, a narrative twist or really any other device. Otherwise they become a few brief paragraphs of "something happened", provoking no particular reaction. This story fell flat for me with its only real virtue being brevity. If this represents the quality of the authors longer works it does not encourage me to purchase them.

Rating 2/10

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Reviews

We have a whole week of horror reviews coming up on October 29th! Other than that I will be trying to post reviews on a Friday so you know when something new will be coming out :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Where have all the monsters gone....

One of the main reasons for self-publishing is to cater to a niche market. Niche markets come in various forms but one that is often overlooked is the waning market. Reading fashions change, but an genre that has been great within one's lifetime is likely to still have some ardent devotees (assuming there has not been some kind of genre-specific virus or conspiracies of stealth assassins). Thus while some genres are taking up less and less shelf space like Westerns they still have enthusiastic (and frustrated) readers. Other example might be sub-genres like historically accurate romance, sweeping sagas or gothic suspense.

Another example would be classic horror (as opposed to romance in a Halloween costume). Most mainstream bookstores had a dedicated horror section only a few years a go but have now discarded the genre altogether. Even as a person who was no much given to reader horror I do fins myself pining for it at this time of year. I mean a story that, for the sensitive and imaginative reader, can summon up a feeling of true, genuine horror. Now it seems unfashionable to be horrified. Disgusted, fine--scared, okay--morbidly fascinated or even perversely turned on--totally acceptable. But the modern reader is not, apparently, meant to be susceptible to true horror.

I am not, however, really a modern reader. So do send in your horror for our Halloween review feature. Submissions are open for two more days :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In case anyone was curious my review for Maggie Anton's Rashi's Daughter II: Miriam can be found here. If you intend to wander further be aware that the ezine is devoted to gay fiction for women, so don't be surprised at what you find ;)

Monday, October 01, 2007

G R Grove's first book Storyteller will be available free this month in advance of the scheduled November 1st release of the sequel, Flight of the Hawk.