Thursday, November 29, 2007

REVIEW: 'Fu(k All' by Matthew Damon

Title: Fu(k All
Author: Matthew Damon
Price: Free E-book or Paperback $ 12.06
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu

I don’t normally read memoirs, mostly due to the fact that most tend to be pining narcissistic have pity for a lost soul type stories or a venue for soap-box postulating. This one does have some of those aspects to it, so I had to ask myself, “Does this tale hold some truth about the human condition?” It does, very honestly, so honest that some readers might view it as ugly. Therefore, I treated it as if I would review a bit of fiction. The writing is glib, intentionally confrontational, dark, and very funny. Written like snippets from a journal, it is blatantly in your face critical of societal norms and humanity in general, but at the same time, it reveals a deeper depth of knowledge about the psyche of a truly confused and lost soul who seems to think he might find his own godlike existence in the flesh of another. Not divinity lost—divinity misunderstood. He wants to exist in reality as his real self yet doesn’t have a good hold on who his real self is, and he lacks the most basic people skills to make even a half-self acceptable. At times, we get the impression he has no care for being acceptable. Through self-deprecation, and a little self-mutilation for that matter, our author has more than a few off-handed yet very profound epiphanies, despite the depth of his arrogance and vanity. Those little extraordinary gems make this book worth the read.

All manner of self-punishment is explored here: obsessive love, self-loathing, self-inflicted torture, abuse, envy, desire, and reckless self-destruction. This is the story of the twisted, unrealistic, delusions of a sexually repressed yet hormone enraged young man at odds with his world…very reminiscent of “Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson and other equally tragic tales of disappointment gone awry. Our tale begins with our lad running off to Europe, seeking truth and a more realistic view of the world than he has been spoon-fed by his parents. Unfortunately, upon returning to New York City, he finds the hedonistic free-spirited lifestyle of his dreams is not really a reality in any conceivable sense of the word. Homeless, penniless, jobless by choice, he seeks to find his salvation in love. Oftentimes we get the impression that women appear to the author as some magical force, a conduit, through which he will be able to express love for himself, release his cowardess, and embrace a real life, which is touching at times. For all his puerile male behaviour, we do get a sense of tenderness and a real desire to discover the strength of the man within. On the flip side however, oftentimes women appear to him more like satisfying side-dishes, something to appease a hunger, and after he has used them and then subsequently finding them objectionable, he has a tendency to digress, endlessly spouting misguided derogatory meanderings about the essence of the female gender and how it’s an affront to him as a man.

As we move through the memoir, we share some of the author’s experiences if only at arms length. We have a lot of ‘less than desirable’ living arrangements, endless degradation, and there is no end to the women he falls so insipidly in and out of love with, but we only get a distant sarcastic view. It was as if the author were deliberately distancing himself from the painful more interior conflicts within himself…profound moments of true awakening would blossom, only to be frosted over a moment later. But this is also very typical for a young emasculated man in this sort of position—to project, to misunderstand and misinterpret the inner-self based on preconceived notions and immature dogma stemmed from parental and societal corruption through guilt—to take an avoidance tact through sarcasm and humour. Seeking to live a life of anarchy in defiance of the norm. Deliberately living a self-defeating lifestyle in order place blame versus taking a good long look at one’s inner-being in an effort to gain true clarity, understand one’s strengths and weaknesses, and re-create oneself into a real three-dimensional being. Here we have an extremely self-conscious out-of-place man seeking to numb himself right down to the core by whatever means necessary, sex, drugs, sarcasm, and an obsessive need for love. Happiness is elusive simply because he doesn’t have a clear grasp on what actually will make him happy—it’s all delusion and illusion—some external, some internal. It’s tragic and leads to a tragic lifestyle more often than not. He desires to change everything and everyone around him to suit his own beliefs. He wants the world he wants and yet is not willing to examine let alone change anything within himself—he admits hurting people, but never seems to take responsibility for it. There is no sacrifice, no compromise, and this is by choice. He wants to release himself from superimposed moralistic integrity and pursue his own sense of freedom—a freedom replete with petty crime, drug experimentation, wandering aimlessly from bed to bed while falling in an out of love with maniacal abandon, unable to control the rage and despair building inside. Will our less than zero hero manage to reach enlightenment, at the very least find some sort of happiness? Not in this story.

Onto a literary note, the book is well-written, minor grammatical issues aside. The descriptive detail is spot-on, and we can get a real feel for the bleak scenery. The book is candid and raw. The author is gawky and ill-at-ease in his own flesh and in his own manhood. Its honesty induced a wide range of emotion from this reader: pity, disdain, frustration, and downright unbridled anger. One might think that the author cared little for inducing emotion, as the style is very matter-of-fact, but these sorts of memoirs do tug at our base emotions, we can all relate to the scenarios and feelings found within to a certain degree. I found it very real life amusing in a tragic sort of way. Some might find the subject matter objectionable, but reality is objectionable more often than not. This is not a fairy tale—not by a long shot. I do think that the author captured male angst to a decent enough extent; the title definitely defines the style of this book—brash, uncompromising, and in your face —utterly romantic at one turn, crass at the next. I think that with a little polish this might actually be something spectacular. On an human note, we can all relate to this common story—we all simply want to be who we are under the skin, accepted, loved. What do we do when who we are is not socially acceptable—what then? Is our protagonist a misguided misanthrope, a deviant psychotic, a pitiful lost soul, a visionary, a libertine, or just an asshole? Do those labels truly define a person, or are we all a little bit of each. The reader will have to decide. The Author says, “Fu(k All.”


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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Random blog stuff--veinglory

So. Um, some guy come up with some widget that values your blog. Apparently this blog is worth $16,371.66. My erotic romance blog is worth $15,242.58 and my own author blog is worth a mere $3,951.78.

This does make me wonder if I should spend more time promoting my own books....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I suggest checking out Sarah Weisman's blog about the MWA exclusion of self-published books, and so exclusion of some undeniably great books including 'Songs of Innocence' by Charles Ardai, from consideration for the Edgar Award.

Most of the comments, pro and con, are surprising reasonable and well thought out. With the exception of I.J.Parker saying: "It seems to me that the choice lies in the hands of the authors. If inclusion in the Edgars matters to them, then they should not self-publish those works they wish submitted for judging."

Which is right up there with suggesting that women should have children to minutely reduce their chances of getting breast cancer, or for the tax breaks. (As opposed, just for example, to actually wishing to be a mother and raise a child to the very best of their abilities)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

DA BLOG: Ebook Reader--veinglory

After looking very carefully at all of the specs and capabilities of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader... I went out on Friday and bought the Sony ebook reader. So far I am cautiously happy with it. Both devices have serious limitations and are very over-priced. However the Sony reader handles pdfs adequately well rather than using a format that may become obsolete (Amazon seems to be already phasing out the fairly successful but proprietary Mobi-format).

I am already getting more reading done because the reader is easy to carry around and use at different times during the day. So, you may see a few more reviews from me now :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

'Signature' by Ron Sanders

TITLE: Signature
AUTHOR: Ron Sanders
PRICE: $16.99
ISBN: 978-0615156538
PUBLISHER: Ron Sanders

A Little Sci-Fi, a little Horror, and a Heck of a Good Time...

I do so love books that make you think, and yet again, Ron Sanders has created another of those intellectual literary chasms for thought.

Sci-Fi is not my normal genre, so I had a bit of difficulty early on with the situational slang and the science-speak. Those who are used to reading in the genre should have little trouble, although I thought some of the terms used such as ‘snatchers’ could have been defined earlier on to alleviate some confusion.

But as usual, Sander’s writing is engaging, and by chapter three I was sucked into his futuristic world.

It’s New Years Eve...and we are introduced to the cast of characters: Abe Joshua Lee, professor; Israel “Izzy” Weaver, psychoanalyst who has the verbally challenged lilt of a fifth grader; and Professor Moses Amantu. Yes, as in all Sander’s works I have read so far, the names are not selected randomly. These men, fondly called “The Group” are intellectuals of remarkable insight and talents, but this group won’t be having a mere night on the town for New Years Eve.

We have a lot going on in this story: Government intrigue and conspiracy, suppressed historical data, hard-wired memories, and ‘carriers’ – but carriers of what?

Suffering a minor medical incident and a few minor lapses of judgement, the group is detoured from their course and dumped into a wasteland at the edge of colonized civilization called the outs. And this is where the premise of the story hit home – the light switched on, and I was strapped in for the ride. This is intellectual Sci-Fi at its finest.

Suppose you could tap into the world’s history from ghosted electromagnetic remnants left behind – the true history of man. Now that is a frightening thought. This book is more or less Sci-fi, but the literary style lends itself to the overtly and completely uncensored political and religious leanings of the work – drawing parallels from his would-be futuristic world to the ebbs and flows of our own historical nightmares: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Caligula … plagues, wars, genocide...the list goes on and on. What if our history is not actually reality – from the Bible to all our schoolhouse textbooks? The implications of this story are extremely disturbing; some might say radical even, but definitely worth the thought. What would a government do to conceal a truth? When one extremist side needs not to only dominate the other but also needs to obliterate it. How might that be done, what heinous possibilities are not only thought of but acted upon: an atom bomb, a plague, a heavy dose of hallucinogenic chemicals, or maybe even mass hypnosis.

Sander’s explores all the extreme possibilities of fanaticism and domination. Caverns of crazed religious maniacs, living in the darkness, breeding alongside the rats and other vermin, cannibalizing and torturing each other with sado-masochist pleasure, all to favour their god, and a government who will stop at nothing to keep them underground, I don’t know which was more frightening, the cannibals or the government agents.

This story is again edge of your seat action packed, and the ending, albeit slightly predictable, was no less thrilling. This is the second I have read from Sanders, and it certainly won’t be the last. The writing is stimulating, complex, the imagery vivid and gruesome, and the storyline is thought-provoking, surreal, and yet so based in reality it’s terrifying.


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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon's DTP: A new self-publishing option for e-books--Dusk

This post courtesy of Dusk Peterson, by way of the Erotic Romance Writers Forum.

Details here. Full details here, including FAQ and some forums that are getting lively.

This is a new site that will allow self-publishers to publish their books in the AZW format that is used only at Amazon for its Kindle e-books. Until now, only e-books in the Mobipocket format could be sold at Amazon. There are rumors around the blogosphere that Amazon will shut down Mobipocket, because Kindle e-books are clearly intended as an alternative to Mobipocket. Since self-publishers could already work with Mobipocket, the only practical difference this change makes is that Amazon's new Digital Text Platform (that's its awkward name for self-publishing e-books at its Kindle store) is clearly modelled after It's user-friendly and is aimed at self-publishers, though it could certainly be used by small presses.

As with Mobipocket, Amazon keep 35% of the profit. By contrast, Lulu asks for 20% of the profit for e-books. There are no set-up fees at either service.

As with Mobipocket and Amazon's POD self-publishing service CreateSpace, you don't need an ISBN; Amazon will assign you an Amazon-only reference number.

One nice thing I notice about the Support section is that Amazon provides detailed suggestions on formatting your e-book, prior to uploading.

Potential nastiness in the fine print:

1) You have to have a valid US bank account, and Amazon withholds taxes from your profit.

2) You can't sell the e-book for a different price elsewhere than the list price you set at Amazon.

3) They say they can sell the book at any price they want; however, they emphasize that you'll still get 35% of the list price you set.

4) They can make chapters available free online for readers to browse.

5) They say that you give them a nonexclusive *irrevocable* license to sell the book; however, the next clause implies that this can be terminated. Except: "All rights to Digital Books acquired by customers prior to termination shall survive termination, and Amazon shall be entitled to retain archival copies of the Licensed Digital Content after termination in order to provide re-downloads to customers who have purchase Digital Books prior to termination." Fair enough.

6) "You acknowledge that we will be entitled to utilize DRM technology in connection with the distribution of Digital Books but are not obligated to do so." In actual fact, Kindle's AZW format is DRM-protected.

7) There's no specific mention of erotic content or other controversial content in the terms of conditions (just the usual don't-upload-anything-illegal clause), but this FAQ leaves that issue open.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Online Round Up

Print on demand: A tale of self-publishing on the web by Paul Lima
"Could traditional book publishers be heading the way of traditional music companies, which are heading the way of dinosaurs, thanks to the internet? ... Now, let's be honest. Most writers who self-publish will not be successful"

There is a new site called Self Publishers Place that seems worth a look. They provide a forum area for self-publishers to meet and compare notes.

There is another new group starting up called the Independent Authors Guild with a yahoogroup here.

And check out this informative blog post about the importance of distribution of you want your book to be picked up by brick and mortar stores.
"..when I buy a book for our store, I’m usually seeking something close to or around a 40% discount. (The medical reference titles are a totally different story.) I also need the book to be returnable ..."
The self-publishing review blog Pub-ioneer seems to have ceased to be. I would suggest that you drop by surviving blogs such as iUniverse Book Reviews, Odyssey and PODler. And if you can spare it, toss one of us a link or a comment by way of encouragement :)

DA BLOG: Send Us...

Here at POD People we invite self-published authors to send us:
* New release announcements--preferable at least one month before, no more than one month after.
* Press releases.
* Reviews of your books from mainstream magazines
* Provide answers to our prepared questions on self-publishing (MY STORY) or your last purchase of a self-published book (ANATOMY OF A PURCHASE).
* Questions about self-publishing (VOX POP).

Below are a number of interview topics. If you have interesting, informed opinions on these subjects and would like to respond to a 5-10 question interview please get in touch.
* Publishing only in print, or only as ebook.
* Promotion and marketing strategies that work.
* Getting the best editing, formatting and cover design (for the least amount of money).
* Fee-charging self-publishing services, pros and cons.
* How to overcome (or avoid) the self-publishing stigma.
* ...or suggest another topic.

email: podpeep at

Friday, November 16, 2007

REVIEW: 'Evolution’s Child' by Charles Lee Lesher

TITLE: Evolution’s Child
AUTHOR: Charles Lee Lesher
PRICE: $12.21 (Amazon) $11.95 (direct)
GENRE: Science Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-9777235-0-8
PUBLISHER: Writers Cramp Publishers
AVAILABLE FROM: Amazon, Author's Website

Charles Lee Lesher’s new book Evolution’s Child recently crossed my desk. It’s an interesting book, although I’m not sure I can fully endorse it.

The book is set in the year 2092. Earth, thanks to global warming, is a mess, and its thirteen billion inhabitants are struggling to survive. Orbital solar power and room temperature superconductors, both provided from Earth’s moon, are the critical factors for this survival. Lazarus Sheffield, an analyst in the North American Federation’s Department of Homeland Security, decides to defect from the Christian fundamentalist hell that is the NAF, and runs to the Moon.

When Lazarus gets to the Moon, in part thanks to a very fortuitous offer of assistance by a total stranger, he discovers that the Republic of Luna is your basic libertarian utopia. This utopia is irrationally hated by most of the rest of humanity, while having voluntarily allowing itself to remain mostly unarmed. Essentially all heavy weapons, for example, are denied to Luna. Since the Islamic Brotherhood is planning a major attack, and the rest of humanity seems unlikely to assist, this is a big problem.

Lesher’s book is very exciting, and the world he creates is interesting, even if you wouldn’t want to visit it. Having said that, there are problems with the book which lead me to give it less then a ringing endorsement. First, I find Lesher’s writing style rather verbose. Second, there is a lot of “stuff” in the book that either doesn’t need to be in the book at all or should be in an appendix. Third, I’m not sure that I entirely agree with his character motivations or the point of view used to tell the story.

Let’s start with the verboseness. A good example early on is when Lazarus, on the run in the Athens, Greece airport, steps into a men’s room to change clothes, thus throwing off surveillance. Lesher spends a page on describing the change-over, where a paragraph will do. Further on, we get another two pages on the operation of a zero-gee bathroom, again something that could have been glossed over.

The extraneous stuff complaint starts at the start of the book. The first chapter, Genesis, is an eight-page story of early cavemen. Besides looking like a rip-off of Arthur C. Clarke, it really doesn’t tie into anything else. At one point farther into the book, the entire narrative stops for a five page technical document providing the history of one of the critical pieces of technology used in the story. It’s something that the author needs to know, and if it was put in an appendix at the end it might be interesting, but I felt the placement of this document just stopped the flow of the story.

Lesher has written the book with an omniscient point of view. We see inside everybody’s head, all the time. I find that confusing, since it is frequently difficult to see who is thinking what at any given point. But more importantly, I’m not sure I agree with what I’m thinking. For example, Lazarus gets tossed in with a very close-knit group of specialists. They don’t seem to have any of the normal suspicions of Lazarus, for example.

I also think that Lesher has wasted an opportunity here. As it becomes clear that Luna faces a crisis, several people attempt to deny or rationalize the problem. This is a normal response, but _we don’t get to go into their heads and see why!_ Because of that, the deniers look like cardboard cutouts instead of real people.

The book’s copyediting is good overall, but there are some stylistic quirks. For example, Lesher will capitalize names of trees in mid-sentence. I should also point out that there are several gunfights in the later stages of this book, described with great amounts of gore. It didn’t bother me, but some more sensitive readers may be upset by that.

“Evolution’s Child” is book one of a series, and the ending is a cliffhanger. Frankly, I was disappointed in that, especially since there are probably fifty or a hundred pages of fluff that could have been removed, allowing a more substantial ending. It’s an exciting cliff to hang from, and the story, especially in the last eighty or so pages, really picks up, but I found that getting there was a bit of a slugfest.

RATING: 5/10

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Book Rental Sites--veinglory

Cheryl brought a new online service to my attention. Two new companies, Booksfree and Bookswim, are most easily described as "Netflix for books". You pay $9.99 or %14.99 per month on the basic plan. The send two books at a time and postage is free.

Authors seem divided on this idea. Many, predictably, focus on how they aren't getting paid--or more accurately they are only paid for however many copies the company buys.

The other group are more like me. It's legal and it might be good promotion. I mean if more people see the book, more people become potential future customers. If one of them chooses to 'keep' the book then the company will buy another copy.

If you decide to join a book rental service I would suggest going with Booksfree because they are cheaper, you can search by publisher and they have a good selection of self-published titles. A quick search of the numbers of books they have from each publisher is an interesting indication of the ranking of self-publishers in their eyes.

7099 Lightning Source
3511 iUniverse
318 Lulu
200 xlibris
125 booklocker
23 Aventine
2 diggory
0 Publish America

MY STORY: Don Meyer

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

I had published my first two books through a POD Publisher (the one that just got bought), the first manuscript to see what it was all about, the second out of frustration.

As I was making the changes from my editor, to my latest manuscript, I agonized over what to do. Should I try the traditional route or just go straight to POD? Once I completed all the changes and had the finished manuscript sitting on my desk, I ultimately decided to take this one the POD route as well. However, this time, I did extensive research into the world of POD, reading several articles and even buying a couple of books. I checked their web sites, reviewed blogs and generally did "my homework." If I was to go POD a third time, I wanted to be more informed about the process as well as my options. I also studied up on book creation, terms and expectations, as well as publishing, terms and expectations. Maybe a bit of overkill, but I wanted to know just what I was doing, before I did it this time.

I knew the process and the stigma of the decision to go this route, so I have (had) very little expectations, except to make sure I put in the effort. After all, it is my book, my product and my responsibility, so the expectations are mine.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I choose Cold Tree Press for a number of reasons. The most basic reasons were the quality of their books, their overall attitude, I liked what I saw and the research I did on them all showed positive. I felt I needed something different for my next book and I was ready for the next step in book production (as well as publishing). The process was rather painless, I didn't need to be a tech guru to figure it all out and I was assigned a senior designer that was responsive, informative, patient and generally very helpful. As you go through the stages of book development, from book cover to structure, to inside formatting and overall packaging, you gain an appreciation of how all of this is done and the work it takes to bring the best possible product to market. With Cold Tree Press, I was able to accomplish that mission, by producing a quality book.

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

Yes, but the caveat here is that I did my homework and preparation. I was ready for the book, when it "hit the street." I had a book signing lined up, list of reviewers to submit to and a list of people to announce the book was available. I know it will take time to get the word out and the reality that the work is just beginning, but I intend to keep spreading the word and hopefully make a few sales along the way!

As I mentioned earlier, I learned a lot from my first two attempts (which have been moderately successful), that this time I hope to a lot better.

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

The first thing I would say is to make sure the work has been edited and the work is the best it can be. The second would be to do their homework. Research the POD world to find the POD that feels right for you and then make sure you understand their contract, their requirements, what expectation do they have, will you have. Take your time, be sure.

Then, I would say be prepared to invest the time and money to make this happen. It goes way beyond the setup fees, you have marketing and promotion, travel expenses, book give always, postage, shipping and handling... Think of it as starting a small business. You need a good product, start up costs, reasons someone would want to buy your product and a comprehensive business (marketing) plan. The worst thing the author can do is to go into this venture blindly. Make sure you know what you are getting into before you do it, then you won't be surprised, or disappointed later. There is no greater felling for an author than to have their published book in their hands, but it is an even greater feeling to have a quality published book and an understanding of what to do next. Above all, have fun.

"Jennifer Cerriety was the victim of a heinous crime, in a place where the perpetrators were the law. With no hope of justice, she had another thought. Someone once told her that the only thing sweeter than revenge was retribution and Jennifer had a plan."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SHORT/FREEVIEW: 'What We Do' by Ben Adams

TITLE: What We Do
AUTHOR: Ben Adams
GENRE: Contemporary

The good new is that the story had some good characters and made some interesting cuts in time--there were also a couple of cute lines and exchanges. For example:

“Look. When God gives you a sharp stick in the eye,you learn to live with one eye.”
Bob frowned. “Isn't it, if God gives you a lemon, make lemon aid?”
Jon shrugged. “I don't know Bob, God's never given me a lemon.”

The bad news is that the story doesn't really go anywhere and although there are only a few typos the formatting is just all over the place with what looks like a two inch top margin and paragraphs not indented.

There is a glimpse of talent in this story but a lot more evidence of a rush to get work out before it has been properly edited and formatted.

RATING: 4/10

Monday, November 12, 2007

WRITER CHAT: First lines.

Self-published books often have an uphill battle because unless the reader knows your work, they have no outside assurance of its quality. So previews are very important; you should have them and they should be good. Right from the very first line. Here are the first lines from the three self-published works currently on my desktop:

He opened his eyes, and groaned as the pain set in. (What We Do by Ben Adams)

Cliche. Sorry.

It was a grey overcast most of the day. (The Martinet by Brad Barber)

Hmmm. Yawn. But the book has a nice cover so I am giving it the benefit of the doubt.

I arrived in New York the day before Thanksgiving. (Fuck all by Matthew Damon)

As a first line, not so thrilling. But the book is called 'Fuck All' and the first chapter is called 'Eat Mom's Pussy'--so it's fair to say that the author has already got my attention.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is that first lines should avoid weather, waking up scenes and woo woo (dreams, omens and prophecies). It's not that these things are a deal breaker, but boy am I sick of them...

So, what is your first line like? Does it hold the reader and pull them in?

IN THE MEDIA: Love Unbound

Page 20 of the September/October issue of romance book review magazine Affaire de Coeur.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

DA BLOG: So what do I do with my review?

If your book is reviewed by the POD People you may do with it pretty much as you wish. It may be quoted in part, or in full, without any kind of notification. However we hope you will name the reviewer and this site. When quoting the review online, a link back is appreciated. You should avoid quoting the review in a misleading way. It is only natural to lift out one or two of the most positive and flattering sentences, however cutting out just a phrase and leaving off a later qualifying comment is not a good idea. A comment on the review is appreciate and if you request that the review be posted on Amazon, Lulu or elsewhere we will do our best to oblige.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

VOX POP: Pricing and Length--veinglory

The VOX POP slot is a chance for self-publishing authors to ask questions and get feedback from peers and readers. If you have your own question send it along to podpeep at Here is a question from an author about pricing and formatting. Please let us know what you think.

Would people rather pay $30 bucks for a 700 page paperback or $15 for an e-book. Should an author offer both?

Would you rather buy a trilogy at $15.00 per book or have one book containing all three parts at $30.00.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

REVIEW: '.before Country' by meika loofs samorzewski

TITLE: .before Country
AUTHOR: meika loofs samorzewski
PRICE: 10.50, free pdf
ISBN: 978-1-84753-918-2
PUBLISHER: Lulu/Wombwell

My thought process while reading .before Country was (roughly) hmmm, intriguing, quite good, very good, baffling, intriguing again, bemusing, baffling, I have no idea what is happening, [frustration], oh a good bit, what?, double what?, oh another good bit but, what?, the end. There are books I have loved, and books I have hated. This book I both loved and hated. This is a) why I am giving it a 5/10 and b) why numerical rating scales generally aren't all that helpful.

Here is the author's description: .before Country is a tight collection of seven Science Fiction short stories and code poems. Five were written before Country was named. Two describe the beginnings of settlement. Four code poems recount the ongoing upheaval after initial terraforming. Some say this time of excess was deliberately encouraged, in order to forestall the conservative staidness that infects most isolated post-pioneer societies when they celebrate the pioneer spirit of their forebears, instead of doing it. The last story, The Isle of the Dead, relates a moment of metamorphosis. Rooted in personal agency, the hero Smith seeks a treasure but his outsider perspective rewrites the kernel and creates a new beginning. This directly lay the way for the ecosocial emergence of Country, when Starkey founded the legendary Ripplinglee, the first steadhouse. These tells prequel the three Books of Country (Fall, Born, Home) which best describe the time of the steaders. These will be released some time in the future.

You ability to comprehend, and become interested in, that description is probably a better predictor of what you will think of the book than anything I can come up with. I rather liked the more concrete story 'Exit Cave'--I think the author's poetic devices were sporadically very effective indeed but eventually I was so baffled as to just what was meant to be going on that my interest dropped off. The book felt a lot longer than it was because it took such an effort to read. That said it is clearly an experimental work, and the pdf version is free. So you can all have a look and see whether it worked better for you than it did for me. Be sure to let me know if you do.

RATING: 5/10

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

MY STORY: Darryl Sloan

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

Many successfully published authors tell a tell of struggling for years against countless rejections before finally making it. I didn't have the heart for that, or the patience, especially when there's no guarantee of anything years down the line.

When I self-published, my aim was to sell 1,000 copies of my first novel.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I chose to go it alone, completely. No iUniverse, no Lulu, no Authorhouse. Just me and and a local book printing firm. I chose to avoid the existing POD companies because I knew I could get a better per-unit price on the production of my book if I agreed to a run of 1,000 copies. In fact, I only paid a quarter to a third of what I
would have paid to a POD company if I had managed to sell 1,000 books with them over time.

If you've got a little capital behind you, might as well invest it sensibly, instead of starting out with low expectations and taking the no-risk POD option that results in an overpriced paperback that will be much harder to sell.

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

The novel (entitled "Ulterior") was published in 2001. I sold all 1,000 copies in just over three years. I'm now in the middle of selling my second novel ("Chion"), which has sold around 300 copies since its release in January 2007.

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

First, understand how the self-publishing business model works. It's really hard to make a success of it, and there are many pitfalls, so learn all you can from your peers who are already in the thick of doing it.

Secondly, don't disrespect your readers. Self-publishing has a stigma attached to it because would-be authors won't learn how to write properly. Learn correct grammar and punctuation. Learn about plotting and characterisation and point of view, and everything else you need to know. And when you've written your novel, edit the hell out of it until it's indistinguishable from a professional work. You owe it to your readers.

"Chion" by Darryl Sloan

First came the snow. Then came the screams.

Six hundred and fifty pupils, confined to their classrooms, waiting impatiently for the break-time bell to ring, eager to rush outdoors for a snowball slugfest. But when the first foot crosses over the doorway to the playground, something goes terribly wrong: the boy is strangely powerless to prevent himself from falling … and then screaming.

No one knows whether the phenomenon is a freak weather condition, a chemical weapon, or a divine curse. One thing is certain: what's lying outside is not snow. And unlike snow, it is not melting away.

How will anyone anywhere survive?


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

SHORT: 'A Prom Queen’s Revenge' by Kody Boye

TITLE: A Prom Queen’s Revenge
AUTHOR: Kody Boye
GENRE: Horror
PUBLISHER: Yellow Mama Archives

"Don't take criticism as a bad thing. The only thing criticism is for is to help you, the writer, learn from it."

I knew this was the author's attitude well before I checked out his web page. The whole process went something like this.

POD People
gets an email from an author asking us to consider reviewing a short story in an ezine. I thought, what the hell--okay.

The story is pretty good. I read it from beginning to end and was entertained. The author bio shows that the author is only fourteen. This effects my attitude in two main ways.

1) Here is the criticism. The language was technically sound and the story had some twists and turns, but I simply didn't buy what the characters did and what motivated them. Would any real person act that way, talk that way... I'd be pretty sceptical. But as an early work by a young writer, well, a little melodrama and tell-itus is only to be expected.

2) The website, the writer getting his work out, his active solicitation of reviews and feedback--that puts him one step ahead of the competition, possibly two or three--right out of the gate.

Many wanna-be writers never get to the point where they realise becoming a writer requires that one write, get the work out there, get feedback and listen to it. Did I love this story, not really, but I didn't hate it--and I'm thinking Kody Boye might be a horror writer to watch out for.

RATING: no rating because I am a patronising old biddy who has trouble passing judgement on writers too young to drink, smoke, drive, vote and do all those other things that are bad for us.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I spy with my little eye, a self-publishing blog called PODdy mouth. Not it must be mentioned the excellent but now defunct POD-dy mouth--but still worth a look.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

DA BLOG: ratings

One of the results of being a multi-reviewer blog is, well, people are different--ergo reviewers are different. Apparently I am a little tougher than some on the rating front... and there is an aversion to rating a book '6' or '9'.

(The figure shows numbers of books awarded each rating level, total and per reviewer).

HALLOWEEN REVIEW: 'Fright House' by Lydia Roberson

Title: Fright House
Author: Lydia Roberson
Price: 11.50
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 978-06151-4812-0
Publisher: Lydia Roberson
Point of Sale: Amazon

This is a fine piece of psychological horror. If you are looking for monsters, you won’t find any here, unless you are willing to face the monster within yourself. If you are seeking a house that eats people, well, you have found it, but not in the cliché conventional “Burnt Offerings” sort of way, as the house is barely mentioned; it could be anyone’s house, no one’s house, as it is present yet detached from the stories. It is the house within our minds, a metaphor for our subconscious, and the author intended it that way. Nevertheless, these stories are all quite original in theme, and that is what made this book stand out to me:

We have all had poison ivy or chicken pox maybe; we know how it feels to suffer and want to “slither out of our own skin.” But what if the poison was not from an external source but an internal one, and imagine if you knew it was going to kill you, and there was nothing left to do but watch -- watch yourself slip away -- literary! How cold and haunting it is to be loved and yet not be capable of love. How far would we go to find the perfect mate, a partner who understands and shares our darkness…very far indeed, to the depths of hell and beyond for the perfect ghoulish romance -- how many one night stands does it take? When the world has raped our souls, what creatures are birthed out of the darkness? And doing battle with the beast of obsessive-co-dependent love will only leave you slashed to bits, and doing battle with guilt will haunt you to the end of your days. These are but a few of the tales in this book. The second half of the book is a collection of stream-of-consciousness musings and poems focused on the narrator’s vigilant attempt to discover how the evil seeped into the house in the first place, and how it has spread from the walls into her, or is it the other way around?

Stylistically, these stories delve deep into the blackest pit of base human emotions: anger, hatred, guilt, self-loathing, and bitterness -- uncontrolled need turned to savage hunger. These stories are so beautiful crafted in theme, the outskirts of the lunatic fringe in that they offer us a unique way to ponder our most intense emotional conflicts. Faced with our own oftentimes demonic emotions, what are we to do? In this case, we have a conduit, the ever-present yet mysteriously obscure house, which always seems to know what we need -- whispering promises to us in the dark. Is it an evil house...after reading this book, I am not so sure evil would be the appropriate word. All in all, I absolutely loved the idea behind these extraordinarily thought-provoking stories, but...

Numerous grammatical and sentence structure issues aside, my only other critical comment is the lack of imaginative prose -- quite a bit more tell than show was apparent here. The author mentioned to me that she did not describe the house in too much detail, as she wanted to give the readers the opportunity to visualize it for themselves. Not all readers like to do this. Even so, I was perfectly fine with that...but, I think language that is more elaborate would have set these stories far apart from many others I have read. Young adult readers will love it; it’s very Goose-bumpish in writing style, which completely contradicts the maturity of the themes; such mature subject matter loses its power under the constraints of basic prose; the stories seemed diminished of their greatness. I wished the short stories read with the same passion contained within the poetry. That taken into account, I think more mature and seasoned Horror fiction readers might want a little more edginess to the prose, and a lot more editing done on the frightfully flawed text.

I hope to read more from this author as her writing style grows and improves. Her dance with the macabre is not your standard cliché tango with a scythe-bearing reaper. Her tales are truly insightful and adult themed, and that’s what differentiates good horror from the rest. This is good Horror!

RATING: 7/10

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.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Writers Digest Self-Published Competition

16th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards

ENTRY DEADLINE: Thursday, May 01, 2008. ENTRY FEE: $100

Writer's Digest is searching for the best self-published books of the past few years. Whether you're a professional writer, part-time freelancer, or a self-starting student, here's your chance to enter the only competition exclusively for self-published books!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HALLOWEEN REVIEW: 'Hell 101' by Joseph Sweet

TITLE: Hell 101
AUTHOR: Joseph Sweet
PRICE: 19.50
GENRE: Horror
ISBN: 978-0-6151-5939-3
PUBLISHER: Forsaken Press

Meat-eating tentacled underground creatures—the feeding has begun. Apparently, the standard scythe bearing Grim-reaper has taken to riding trains. We have terminator-esque story of Fiona, crystalballing by will of mind into the future in order to stop her own death. Then we have a little genetic experimentation in an island of Dr. Moreau/mutated vampire-gargoyle themed story called The Scavengers, and this was by far my favourite; I particularly liked the contemplative and moody ending. And we have a ghost town, a decayed beacon amongst the sandy dunes of an alternate universe lost to time, space, and reality. Trapped by the sand storm, no one dares venture out of the town for fear of the creature. But should they really be afraid? This was another of my favourites. Not to mention what might be lurking in that locked dresser drawer.

And these are only but a few of the stories...

This is a collection of scare stories everyone can enjoy, minor grammatical issues aside. The author has a good grasp of the macabre, but in my opinion, these stories lack the intensity I normally prefer in my horror—they seem a bit censured to me and might seem that way to mainstream horror fans as well. However, not everyone likes their eyes gouged out or their hearts ripped from their chest like I do, and that might not have been the author's intent anyway. So if you are looking for a light version of Hell, well, then this is the book for you.

In any event, all of the stories have a classic underlying point to them, which is wonderful, as there is nothing worse than pointless cliché horror. Clichés abound in this book, but these are beautifully constructed stories, so I can forgive a cliché or two. I like terror stories, as a result, I only wish there had been imagery that was more imaginative. I felt that the stories were well constructed but lacked a certain depth of feeling mainstream horror fanatics crave and expect. As far as thought-provoking tales of the macabre, I think that definition classifies this book much better than Horror. These are not hack-n-slash gore stories, as they are all constructed with a much deeper existential meaning, which was not lost on this reader.

This collection shows a lot of promise, and I think once the author spends a little uncensored time in the shadows these stories could be something fantastic—a little more imagery would do it. And for those who are not as versed in the Horror genre as I am, this is a nice place to start without losing your mind or your flesh. This is a good book for adults young and old who might want a little suspense, without being terrified. I also hear that the author, adding a deeper feel to the work, illustrates the book. Visuals are always nice, although I didn’t get a chance to see them in the review copy. Providing the author fixes the grammatical issues before live-release, I think this book will do well with horror fans that like it a little easier on the psyche—more theme than throttling.

Rating: 7/10

See also:
Lulu 8/10

Average: 7.5/10

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.