Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year to All. Let's Give A Shout Out to Indie Literature at Large!

As far as years go, I’ve had better, but there were some very wonderful aspects of the past year that I would like to mention.

I began reviewing for the Pod People a little over a year ago, shortly after one of my own books received a favourable review. My intent was to help other Indie authors by giving them the honest critique I always hope for with my own work. I have professional editing skills, twenty-five years of literary study, not to mention the thousands of books I have read, so I thought I would put my skills out there for the greater good. It’s been a great year, and I have read many splendid Indie Books. I hope to continue with the Pod People for as long as Emily and Chris are into it. I will also continue to review mainstream books independently with Amazon and with Breeni Books, so you can catch me there as well.

As far as my own writing … well, I hit a little bit of a bump in the road in the beginning of the year and had to take a step back and seriously consider my motivations. Writing and Literature have been life long loves for me, and I am and have always been in it for the art of it. Career writing was nowhere on my to-do list. Lulu was a wonderful resource and venue at first, but I quickly became dissatisfied as I came to realize that Lulu was just not the place for me to flex my rather dark creative muscles. Changes in their policies prohibited me from listing my work as general access, costs were prohibitive, and quality had begun to slip. I needed a new business model.

So, as many know, I took a year off, a hiatus/retirement if you will, while I sorted through the static. There was a lot of static, personal and otherwise, but at the end of it all, I came back with a clearer understanding of my intent. I write novellas, dark disturbing novellas, not for the squeamish or faint of heart. I wanted all the control when it came to that, and of course, I want people to read the work, so I needed to be able to make it affordable for the reader willing to take a chance on me. With Lulu, I just couldn’t do that nor could I get the quality of product I was seeking for the money invested. I pulled all my work out of print in January and left Lulu behind. Now at the end of 2008, I have a new plan.

So, as far as resolutions go … 2009 is all about the work. Kissing Room is already back out for sale on Amazon with exceptional quality, and my goal for the new year is to get all my other work reformatted, reedited, expanded, and back out in print. During my hiatus, I spent a great deal of time writing essays, poetry, existential/philosophical short stories, and some of that will appear in a compilation I have planned for 2010.

So, I want to wish all the Indie authors out there much luck in the new year. Don’t compromise, always work to improve, re-evaluate your goals often, look at all your options, seek constructive criticism, and don’t be afraid to change course. Last but not least, be daring, be bold, be inventive, write what you want to write, write the stories that move your soul. Those are always the best.

So, Happy New Year to All. Maybe Emily and Chris will post a New Year blurb of their own to let us all know what’s up with them for the coming year. Time to party and get my freak on.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NEW SITE: Self-Publishing Review

Self-Publishing Review is a new website offering book reviews and aiming to "...legitimize self-publishing – not just as a fallback plan, but as an avenue that’s increasingly necessary and useful in a competitive publishing industry."

REVIEW OF: Fairy Tales Can Come True

Title: Fairy Tales Can Come True: The Very Best Erotic Fairy Tales
Editor: Natasha Brooks
Genre: erotica
Price: $12
Publisher: EmergingEdge_Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-440460197
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Fairy Tales Can Come True is the first anthology by EmergingEdge_Publishing, the publishing arm of Bareback Magazine. All of these entities consist of Natasha Brooks, making this a micro-press. In 2007, they held a contest for erotic fairy tales, and this book is the result. The anthology consists of ten short stories, and clocks in at 176 pages, including various extras such as author profiles. It has a bit uneven production values, specifically the occasional editing or layout glitch, but overall readability is good.

As one would expect, the quality of the story varies over the anthology. Some of the more memorable stories are:

The Legend of Gabriella’s Rock – in this story, Gabriella, the wayward sister of a princess, is sent away to keep her out of beds of the help. With the unwilling help of a fairy, she finds a way to satisfy her amorous needs.

Size Doesn’t Matter – a tiny fairy has great ambitions, but forgets the old adage to be “careful what you wish for - you just might get it.”

Lily and the Vine Oaks is a cute story about a forest woman finding satisfaction in the wild. It’s probably one of my favorite stories in the anthology.

Once Upon A Wet Dream takes on a new mythology, that of Ariel the Mermaid from Disney fame. It’s not a children’s story though.

Also of note, there are two gay/lesbian stories in the anthology, Arsenal and Grethel and Betroth’s Fairy Tale. Overall, the anthology is an interesting take on the old fairy tale concept. This book will be the January Friday Free Book.


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Winner of Free Book Friday -- CanAmBlond

I will be contacting you shortly for your snail mail address.

Thank you all for participating and have a fantastic New Year.

Check back with us regularly for news and reviews.

The next Free Book Friday will be January 30th 2009, so stay tuned.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Free Book Friday -- Swap by Sam Moffie

Title: Swap
Author: Sam Moffie
Genre: Literature/Fiction/Contemporary
Price: 14.95
Paperback: 302 Pages
Publisher: UEL Enterprises
ISBN: 978-0978606206
Point of Sale: Amazon

Baseball has the double play. Hollywood has the sequel. Marriage? It has the Swap.

The Blurb: Sheldon Marsh isn't happy. Hearing impared, half-jewish, and battling a politically corrupt world in a decaying rust-belt city, his life is definately on the decline. To make matters worse, he's been demoted from the Major Leagues to the bushes.

So what's his solution? Trade in his battle-axe wife for a teammate's sexy temptress. But can he pull it off? Will it being him the happiness he is seeking?

Inspired by the real-life wife swapping incident involving two former New York Yankees, this hilarious take shows readers how to cope with life's most unconventional choices.

Mr. Moffie sent me a copy of this book along with Organ Grinder and the Monkey, which I reviewed here. I would like to thank Mr. Moffie for the book, but unfortunately the subject matter of Swap is just not my cup of tea. I am not a sports fan, nor am I a cheeky sex-scandal, male mid-life crisis fan. I am not being gender prejudice, I don't like chick-lit books either. So, I am offering this book up for the Free Book Friday giveaway along with my copy of Mr. Moffie's Organ Grinder and the Monkey.

Giveaway Details: Comment to this post by Midnight Sunday December 28th for an opportunity to win both books. The winner will be announced Monday December 29th. Make sure we have an email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Good Luck and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Interesting Way to Manage the Slush Pile ...

Author Solutions Announces Partnership with Morgan James Publishing Publisher to Utilize ASI's DIY Publishing Platform.

Bloomington, Ind. (PRWEB) December 22, 2008 -- Author Solutions (ASI), the world leader in the fastest-growing segment of publishing, announced Monday a partnership to provide its dynamic DIY publishing tool Wordclay to publisher Morgan James, The Entrepreneuriial Publisher TM. Through its Persona Publishing self-publshing imprint, Morgan James will offer its customers three new publishing packages.

Morgan James continues to establish itself as a major player in the traditional publishing world, with incredible titles being released each and every month. In 2008, 163 titles were published from over 4,500 submissions from agents, individuals, and organizations. That means that 96% of those who wanted to get published with Morgan James did not realize their dreams.

Now with the introduction of Persona Publishing, a unique, cutting-edge system and self-publishing business model that includes extensive use of the Internet, new printing technologies, and non-traditional features and benefits, Morgan James can help more authors share their ideas, stories, and expertise on a global, professional platform.

From Persona's About Page : "Books that perform well with Persona Publishing are considered for publication through Morgan James or one of its many imprints."


With the state of the publishing industry these days: layoffs, downsizing, mergers, etc. there is little in the way of cash to go around. Most publishing companies are only backing what they know, the trite and true names and genres, the Harry Potters, the Jane Austin Vampires -- sorry, Twilight -- and the latest "How to fix your fat broke ass and take charge of your miserable life book." Fewer books will be released, that's obvious, and a lot of really good literature will get lost by the wayside. But hey, that's business right. You don't stay in business long these days by taking risks -- we learned that the hard way from the mortgage industry disaster. Common sense has to prevail somewhere...

So now what ... well, with indie authors still plugging away at their art, even with the leather boot of futility kicking them high in the ass-end, there is still money to be made and chances that can be taken with relatively little risk -- actually, none at all to the publishing house. So, sans the risk, I think we might see a bit more of this high-end, affiliated self-publishing situation. It certainly is a win-win for the publishing house. They take your money ... your book gets published and offered for sale in the standard distribution channels. It's been at least glanced over by an editorial eye -- for $1,990 it will be anyway -- and if it performs well, then Morgan James might consider reprinting it with their official Morgan James Logo on it. Even if the book sucks ass, they got paid, and there is enough distance that they won't be embarrassed by it either.

I don't see this as a bad thing, really, providing you've got the cash to spend, the real desire to see your work in print, and the right attitude about indie publishing. This could be an "IN" with a much better chance at notice than the slush pile. Or, it could be just another way for the publishers to make money in dire times, but at least they are thinking outside the "old school pencil-box", so kudos to Morgan James. We have seen this with Matador already, and I see all this as a natural progression for the publishing monarchy. Time to throw out those crusty moth-eaten velvet undies, step off the high horse into the modern age, and for F-sake, get back to real literature. Not every indie author is looking for a back door. Not every indie author is trying to cheat the system. Not every indie author is too lazy to do it the hard way. Self-publishing is extremely difficult, if done right, and not every indie book sucks ass in content or production value. I know, I have reviewed a few over the last couple of years.

So, that is my last rant for 2008 … I have got my own bunched undies to address.

Monday, December 15, 2008

REVIEW: Prop Wash: For the Love of Flying

Title: Prop Wash: For the Love of Flying
Author: Betty Kaseman
Genre: Biography
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Black Forest Press
ISBN: 978-1-58275-135-8
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Prop Wash, for the Love of Flying, is the biography of Potty Porter Ross. In 1926, young Polly Porter, then aged 15, got her private pilot’s license in Portland, Oregon. It was such a rarity for a woman to get a license to fly that the local newspaper carried an announcement.

But the young Polly Porter was apparently born to fly, and she would keep flying until her eighties, when cataracts and bad hips grounded her. Even after she was no longer able to fly, Polly remained active in the general aviation community. She was a founding member of the 99s’, a club founded by Amelia Earhart to support women flyers and other organizations.

After getting her license, Polly flew as a barnstormer and airshow pilot. She moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, where she became a pilot and instructor for a number of Hollywood stars of the age, including Errol Flynn. During World War Two, she volunteered to ferry aircraft for Great Britain, and later training US pilots during the same conflict. After the war, she married an Australian and spent a few years in the Outback, then returned to the US where she settled in San Diego. She refused to hang up her flying spurs, and became a founding member of the Flying Samaritans, a group who flew supplies and doctors into rural areas of Baja Mexico.

In the late 1980s, Polly started to work with a student pilot, Salli Kaseman-Moore, on an autobiography. Salli died, and the task was eventually taken up by Salli’s sister Betty. This effort brought forth Prop Wash in 2005.

As an entertaining history of early aviation and picture into the life of a fascinating woman, this book is a success. Unfortunately, the combination of writers and editors seems to have made the book somewhat of a jumble. The writing process apparently consisted of Polly telling her stories into a tape recorder, and Betty Kaseman attempting to get those down in words. The result at times reads more like a transcript of an oral history then a true biography.

Despite these flaws, Prop Wash is an entertaining peek and a primary record of aviation from the 1920s to the 1940s.


Monday, December 08, 2008

iUniverse Offers "Gift of Book Publishing"

iUniverse Offers "Gift of Book Publishing" to Holiday Gift BuyersGift Buyers Can Purchase Publishing Package for the Authors in Their Lives

Bloomington, IN (PRWEB) December 1, 2008 -- iUniverse, the leading book marketing, editorial services, and supported self publishing company, is making it easier to buy a gift for that person who has everything this holiday season. For the first time ever, iUniverse makes it possible for gift buyers to help loved ones who want to publish a book make that dream a reality.

To purchase a publishing package for someone special this holiday season: iUniverse is pleased to be able to offer this unique gift option this holiday season. Through our supported self-publishing approach, we've helped thousands of authors publish their books and successfully drive them into the marketplace. With this new offering, we make it possible for folks to help the special author in their lives get their dream off the ground and become a published author in 2009.

Log on to to find the publishing package that fits the author's needs.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Looking for Reviews? Book Bloggers are Profiled ...

Internationally Recognized Book Reviewer Breeni Books Launches Resource to Connect Authors/BloggersThe Book Bloggers.

The most recent endeavor of book reviewer Sabrina Williams, allows authors, publicists, and publishers to screen book reviewers for compatibility before a query is submitted. FOR


PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 24, 2008 – Internationally recognized book reviewer Sabrina Williams, of Breeni Books ( announces the launch of The Book Bloggers (, a tool for authors and bloggers to connect for marketing collaboration. Authors will have the ability to familiarize themselves with reviewers before submitting a book for consideration, ensuring a more amiable audience for their work.
The Book Bloggers will feature an ongoing series of interviews with book bloggers from all backgrounds and areas of expertise. The interviews will be based on a standard set of questions, compiled to extract information pertinent to review submission. Each blog will be categorized based on types of books reviewed and services offered. Authors, publicists, and publishers are encouraged to browse categories for potential reviewers that will be best suited to the needs of a particular marketing campaign.

I have always agreed that for self-published authors this is a much needed resource. I see so many authors, hungry for reviews, submit their work willy nilly to book reviewers far and wide without doing any research. Or, worse, they submit to pay-for-review sites, which often give glowing reviews regardless of quality ... I feel this is great disservice to the author.

When hunting for that much needed review:

  • You want an experienced reviewer -- read other reviews they have done. Do they have an objective analytical style?
  • Let's face it: You want the best reviewer for your book. Do they specialize in your genre and style?
  • You want an honest critical review, and more importantly...
  • You don't want to waste money on review copies that result in nothing -- even a negative review is worth its weight in gold.

So stop on over and check out the site and then bookmark it, as new review sites will be added daily. The Podpeeps are scheduled to be profiled on December 10, 2008.

Again, thanks Breeni, any resource that helps authors navigate the murky review waters is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

REVIEW: When Diplomacy Fails

Title: When Diplomacy Fails
Editors: Eric Flint and Mike Resnick
Genre: Science fiction, anthology
Price: $30
Publisher / Point of Sale: ISFIC Press
ISBN: 978-0-9759156-6-0
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

ISFIC Press is the official publishing arm of “Illinois Science Fiction in Chicago, Inc.” a fan-owned company whose primary function is putting on Windycon, a Chicago-area science fiction convention. Since I’m a Chicago-based science fiction fan, I attend Windycon, and take the opportunity to buy their annual release every year. This year’s release, and my personal vote for “Coolest Cover Evah,” is the anthology When Diplomacy Fails. As a reader of military science fiction, I was familiar with some of the stories in this collection, but for those looking for a board introduction to the sub-genre, the nine gems in this story are exquisite.

So, here’s my brief overview of the stories:

A Ship Named Francis – (John Ringo and Victor Mitchell). Ringo is not known for his short stories, but here he’s turned in something of a rarity – a humorous science fiction story. Set in the “Honor Harrington Universe” (think “Horatio Hornblower with warp drives) the titular ship is home to a collection of misfits and problem soldiers. It’s an entertaining jaunt in what is usually a darker genre.

The Day of Glory – (David Drake). Drake is famous for working through the demons of his Vietnam service by telling the tales of his future mercenaries, Hammer’s Slammers, and this short story is an above-average example of those works. In The Day of Glory, Drake exposes the reality of modern combat, and pulls away any sheen of heroism or valor.

Not That Kind of War – (Tanya Huff). Ms. Huff was a Master Corporal in the Canadian Forces Navy (explaining that rank is another article) and she felt that the enlisted side of military life got short shrift. So, she invented Sergeant Torin Kerr, a female Space Marine who gets paid to keep her officers out of trouble. Having been an officer once, I can assure you we need that. At any rate, the short story here is a great example of her four-novel and counting military SF series.

In The Navy – (David Weber) You’d think that a guy who invented and wrote some twenty-odd books in the Honor Harrington universe would write a short story in that universe. You’d be wrong. In The Navy is set in Eric Flint’s fascinating “1632” series. Basically, in this world a West Virginia coalmining village gets magically sent back to 1632 Europe. Since the Thirty Year’s War is raging at the time, to say our villagers find themselves hip-deep in trouble is an understatement.

The Burning Spear at Twilight – (Mike Resnick). Mike is a great expert and fan of things African, and here he tells his version of how Jomo Kenyatta won Kenyan independence. It’s interesting and not at all favorable to Western media.

Straw – (Gene Wolfe). I’m not a big fan of fantasy, but this short tale of swordsmen traveling by hot-air balloon was quite entertaining.

Encounter – (Steven Leigh) Encounter is a example of another sub-branch of military SF, namely the putting together of things after war has blown them apart. The encounter of the title is between two old enemies of a past war.

Black Tulip – (Harry Turtledove) Turtledove’s novel Every Inch A King is sitting on my to-be-read pile (payoff for schlepping food to the ISFIC launch party at the con). In the meantime, I made do with this entertaining story set during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Fanatic - (Eric Flint) This story, at almost 100 pages long, is practically a short novel. It’s also set in the Honor Harrington universe, and does something I’ve not seen, namely make the revolutionaries of the People’s Republic of Haven sympathetic. Considering Flint's personal political views, that maybe should not be a surprise. Fanatic is actually a stealth mystery, so I can’t say much about it, other than to suggest that the reader pay close attention to everything.

Overall, this is an outstanding anthology of military SF. If you have any interest in the subject at all, order When Diplomacy Fails today.

RATING 10/10

Monday, December 01, 2008

Winner -- Free Book Friday

And the winner is ... Joanne

Congrats! We hope you enjoy Freak By Ron Sanders.

Please email the peeps at: podpeep at gmail dot com with your snail mail address, and we will send the book right out.

Keep checking back in with us, the next Free Book Friday is on December 26th for a little after Christmas treat. Stay Tuned.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition

PRESS RELEASE From MarketWatch, Nov 13, 2008 and Penguin Group (USA) Announce Second Annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Following the Success of the Inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2008, Amazon and Penguin Seek the Next New Voice to Be Published by Penguin Group (USA)

Today announced the second annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. Writers around the world are encouraged to begin preparing their manuscripts for entry into the competition, which is scheduled to launch on Feb. 2, 2009.

Between Feb. 2 and Feb. 8, 2009, writers with an unpublished English-language novel manuscript can submit their work at Up to 10,000 initial entries will be accepted, from which Amazon editors will select 2,000 to advance to the next round. Expert reviewers from Amazon will then review excerpts of these 2,000 entries and narrow the pool to 500 quarter-finalists. Reviewers from Publishers Weekly will then read, rate and review the full manuscripts, and 100 semi-finalists will be selected. Penguin editors will evaluate the manuscripts from this group of 100 and choose three finalists. A panel of esteemed publishing professionals -- including mega-bestselling authors Sue Grafton and Sue Monk Kidd, literary agent Barney Karpfinger and Penguin Press Editor-in-Chief Eamon Dolan -- will read and post their critiques of the top three manuscripts on Amazon customers will then have seven days to vote for the Grand Prize Winner.The winner will be announced on May 22, 2009, and will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $25,000 advance.

Despite what you might think about Amazon, they sure know how to give things a go. So gear up folks, and if you got that manuscript ready, why not give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Good Luck to all.

Friday, November 28, 2008

REVIEW: Free Book Friday -- Freak by Ron Sanders

Title: Freak
Author: Ron Sanders
Genre: Literature/Satire/Sci-Fi/Suspense
Pages: 164
Price: $10.95
Publisher: Masterpiece Press -- Ron Sanders
ISBN: 978-0615142371
Point of Sale: Amazon

The Blurb: A shadow haunts the sunny streets of Venice Beach, working his way through all the women and valuables he can handle. So far he's been lucky. But too much of a good thing makes a man careless; he gets sloppy, he lets down his guard. From bizarre arrest to explosive conclusion, Freak is a wild rollercoaster of a ride, featuring impossible escapes, a dizzying manhunt, and a gothic mini-movie of a courtroom confession, wherein you'll meet the real Nicolas Vilenov, slippery opportunist and soulless predator, bogeyman of a thousand suppressed dreams.

I reviewed this work independently on Amazon a while back. I am giving away my purchased copy of the book this month. Details at the end of the review.

Freak is a thrilling and entertaining read. It has a little bit of everything: The sad pathetic tortured soul, a little mysticism and sci-fi, and a damn fine crime drama, without the overly cliché cop/attorney speak. The book is extremely dialog dependent, which gives it the intimacy of a first person narrative, while allowing for continued shifts in points of view - and dimension.

This story also makes some rather demanding statements regarding the degradation of women in today's society - the undeniably beautiful, egregiously disturbed, fashion magazine brainwashed women - so easily taken in, used, and abused. This story also speaks to the power that our media possesses. In the endless search for ratings, criminal acts spin into fantastic stories of terror, often turning criminals into Gods.

Mr. Sanders weaves together many common elements and themes into one captivating and suspenseful story: The dark, mysterious stranger, having his way with a bevy of females who seem to lack even basic self-control; a gritty crime drama; compelling courtroom scenes; murder; crazed fanatical media-obsessed civilians; not to mention the media's sleazy hold on the public; a wrenching tale of childhood abuse; mass hysteria; panic stricken citizens converging in the streets; mob rule; rioting; car chases; apache helicopters; a city in flames ... all leading up to an edge of your seat conclusion sure to send the reader into a dizzying frenzy.

And if that wasn't entirely enough ...

Then there is the antagonist of the story, or protagonist depending on how you choose to see him, is spine-chillingly disturbing in a surreal serial-killer/magician sort of blend. I got the willies from the very first chapter. Vilanov has all the subtle command and fierceness to him of classic Stoker's Dracula with a hint of Charlie Manson - powerfully hypnotic. So hypnotic that it begs the question: Did Vilanov actually commit any wrongdoing, other than sidestepping society's definition of morality? Or was he merely expressing the savagery of a man's search for true manhood in an emasculated world?

I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a little American Psycho, a little Fight Club, blended together with a little Stephen King.

Giveaway Details: Comment on this post by Midnight, Sunday November 30th. A name will be drawn randomly and will be announced on Monday December 1. If your name is announced as the winner, please email: podpeep at gmail dot com with your snail mail address. Good Luck!

Reviewed by: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from the Peeps

The staff here at the Pod People would like to wish all our U.S. authors a Happy Thanksgiving.

We thank you for all for all the wonderful books we have read and reviewed over the year.

So while we will be stuffing our faces today and hopefully getting in a bit of reading and writing, we hope all of you will be enjoying your holiday as well.

Don't forget to start your holiday shopping right by stopping back in tomorrow and over the weekend for our book giveaway: Free Book Friday. Good Luck to all.

Best Wishes!

Emily Veinglory
Chris Gerrib
Cheryl Anne Gardner

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Publish Yourself and Long Dash To Team Up with Amazon to Offer Low-Cost Self-Publishing

Long Dash Publishing merged with Publish Yourself! and has recently begun offering a much larger distribution arm and higher quality books through Amazon. Publishing your book to sell has become easier to market through their customer service.


PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 20, 2008 – Is there a book in you? Getting published has never been easier, faster or less expensive. Long Dash Publishing, a new self-publishing print-on-demand service based at and in New York City, can print and bind a trade paperback for prices starting at $175 for the first 10 copies – and the prices go down for more copies.

"We're writers ourselves," said Tim Harper, one of the partners in Long Dash. "That's why we started the company. We aim to be the most author-friendly and author-supportive self-publishing operation in America. We work with lots of experienced authors, but we welcome first-time authors, too. We know they have lots of questions, and we try to answer them. Every book is different, and every author is different, and we try to meet all their needs."

Of course I always take a walk on over to the websites to see what's what with pricing and service. The website is a little on the amateurish side, and so I don't know how comfortable I would feel with their "graphics design" consultation/assistance.

Their basic package, for writers who have experience in self-publishing, is $299.95, and aside from the free copy, it's basically less than what you would get with Lulu published by you distro for $99.95, and right now published by Lulu is still free. This place only gets your book on Amazon unless you pay more. They also say that they make your book 'available' to bookstores. We all know that means listing it with Ingram, and listing doesn't mean the bookstores will want it for stock. As the prices go up, and they do go up, the professional package for $6995.95 there is a lot of editing, marketing kits, and consultations added. It all seems a bit pricy, though editing usually runs about $30.00 per hour on average, but even Readerviews full publicity package is only $1500.00. Longdash charges $100.00 for copyright registration, and we know that you can do it yourself for $45.00, an envelope, and two copies of your book.

So, do your research authors. You are paying for service, and while I love start-up self-publishing companies, you need to get the bang for your buck ... read all the fine print and the FAQs thoroughly. I wish them well, but I am not sure the prices are really competetive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Self Publishing Made Easy -- iPhone App

Self Publishing Made Easy – iPhone App Publishes Directly To Millions Of Users

WEBWIRE – Thursday, November 06, 2008

eBook App – The Newest iPhone App For E-book Publishing Helps Authors Ride A New Wave of Computerized Publishing, Opening Doors For Many Aspiring Self-Publishers.

November 4th, 2008 – announced this week that they are launching a brand new service, designed to provide authors with worldwide exposure and readers with content that can be read right on their iPhone. This marriage of convenience has the potential to revolutionize the publishing industry and is at the forefront.

Thanks to this new application, authors will have access to millions of readers via the popular iPhone. The service converts existing books into iPhone friendly reading material, which can then be purchased and downloaded, right from the iTunes store. eBookApp is also designed with readers in mind, giving them one of the best iPhone reading experiences in the industry.

The CEO/Founder of Roger Lichfield stated, "I am always amazed at how quickly developers can produce some great applications so quickly, we feel we are one of the first to the help lay people access to the best and most affordable iPhone applications, without needing technical knowledge. Our goal is to help Authors / Publishers put their content into reader’s hands, we expect developers to want to use this app engine as well.”

For a limited time, is offering free service to authors who wish to take advantage of this technology, at their main site -

About the Company: was founded with the purpose of providing both authors and readers the ultimate experience in reading for the iPhone. The company has dedicated themselves to making sure that both ends of the market have the tools they need to enjoy books, reach out to new readers and find success in the crowded publishing arena.


I took a browse around the site and it looks pretty spiffy. Pricing seems pretty straighforward as well. According to the site's main page it seems pretty easy to get done:
  1. Submit your book in digital format: .html, .doc, .txt, or .rtf
  2. We convert your book into an iPhone book format.
  3. We take that and submit for distribution through the iPhone app store and Apple iTunes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Review -- Little Stories

Title: Little Stories
Author: Jeff Roberts
Genre: Literature/Fiction/Short Stories
Pages: 108
Price: $15.80
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1432727277

The book blurb says: Little Stories takes a critical look at the inevitable moments of betrayal and loneliness in our awkward quest to love and be loved, but the reader will discover the value - and even joy - to be had by looking backward and facing the past.

Yes, these are everyday stories of love, betrayal, and the general taint of humanity, so they are very relatable … maybe too relatable for me. With each story, I was looking for the edge. I wanted to gaze into the abyss, feel the heartbreak and the pain on a poetic, philosophical, and existential level, like we do in say Henri Barbusse’s “Hell”, but I didn’t with this book. Editorial issues aside, it was a mild and enjoyable read. The writing is succinct, using contemporary language and style, the story construction for the most part is tight, and the points are driven home very simply. There are a few aimless stories, but overall I would say: “Chicken soup for the faulty human.” Except, for me, there wasn’t too much to chew on. I was expecting the essence of Dark Romanticism that I normally look for in stories such as these, but to my disappointment, it just wasn’t there. I also, as a rule, prefer more internal exposition and unselfish inwardness from the characters. My taste for literature is on the darker side, with poetry and finesse reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy, so for me, personally, the stories felt a bit stark, and the editorial issues were so frequent that they really got in the way.

In the first story, we have a young couple living together, and the female wishes to go out for a few hours and visit her ex. The man obliges, being all understanding and cool about it. No drum roll needed here, we already know where this is going, and predictably, she shows up early in the AM, a dishevelled mess, and is forced to admit that she slept with the ex. The couple then has the predictable fight, with predictable dialog, and then they go to bed to rest. As he holds her tightly, his only thought is that he feels alone. The end. To say I wanted more is an understatement. With such a pat story and predictable outcome, I, as a reader, need a new take. I wanted to know the myriad of other thoughts cluttering his mind. We know why he felt alone, betrayal is a lonely place, but there is more that goes on in the mind of the betrayed: the conflicted thoughts, even the vile distasteful ones … We know they are there, and I wanted to see it. But my taste for truth was not fulfilled.

In the second story, we have a wealthy pretentious couple making off for a drive when they notice a woman working her way through the neighbourhood who obviously does not live there. In between the man bitching about his teenage son’s laziness and leering at the strange woman, he proceeds to describe her as a cross between a tweaked out whore and a goth. Judgements are made on sight and the story ends with: “Well, she doesn’t belong around here. This neighbourhood is for good moral people.”

And the collection goes on like that, job loss, alcoholism, the death of spouse, the birth of child, bad grades, etc. There are some brilliant lines, though: “Stepping into the main hall of the bus station, I saw what looked like a Norman Rockwell postcard for urban detritus.” or “Across the basement a hobby horse looked on silently with its mane flossed over with a sweater of dust, its springs swollen solid with a frosty coating of dross. An empty baby crib stood alone with it blankets tangled as they held years of mold topped off with some water stained pillows, decaying and yellowed from the sclerosis of time.” Yes, those lines pretty much sum up the universal theme of the book, and I wish there were more of them.

I would say this collection is sort of a modern day Aesop’s fables. Classic and timeless, humanity’s faults are laid bare in a very pat non-judgemental way, and the lessons are pointed and very clearly portrayed – the ink certainly didn’t run here. Too bad.

I liked it, but the style wasn’t as engaging for me as it could have been. I didn’t feel my emotions challenged. This writer has got a talent for noticing the painful mundanities of life, but that talent seems stifled, a bit too deliberate and contrived, in some places downright awkward. However, much is personal preference, although, a merciless editorial once over would have helped as well. So I have to give the book a slightly lower rating based on the pronounced and profuse editorial issues and that it lacked the sharp edge I normally like in contemporary literature of this sort. Humanity’s vile atrocities, the lies, the selfishness, the betrayals, the hope lost, and the precarious balance between life and death … I think all that deserves a grittier presentation -- less ink, more spit, more blood, and more passion. The writing shows promise, but we only glanced at the shadow; we didn’t get to look it in the eyes.


Reviewed by: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Natural News Launches Print-On-Demand Publishing Services

NaturalNews Launches Print-On-Demand, Publishing Services for Book Authors, Self Publishers

From MarketwatchLast update: 7:55 a.m. EST Nov. 10, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov 10, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Natural health news site has announced the launch of print-on-demand and publishing services that allow authors and alternative information writers to produce small batches of perfect-bound books up to 400 pages in length. In addition, NaturalNews has announced plans to publish and promote many authors' books on its popular natural health news website while paying royalties back to the author.

To provide these print-on-demand and publishing services, NaturalNews sister company Truth Publishing has acquired book publishing and binding equipment that automates the printing and perfect binding of softcover books. Authors submit their books electronically, and Truth Publishing prints, binds and ships the books while offering them for sale on its website, now read by 1.2 million health consumers monthly.

Truth Publishing ( is welcoming the printing of books on "alternative" topics, including alternative science, natural medicine, alternative history and other exploratory themes. It welcomes books on controversial issues like mandatory vaccines, cancer cures, health freedom, global warming, politics, peak oil and the true history of the world that isn't taught in public schools. Truth Publishing president Mike Adams is the editor of NaturalNews and the creator of this new service, which he describes as, "An opportunity for intelligent, inquisitive authors to see their books published even when mainstream book publishers are too conservative to embrace their work."

Authors interested in either printing their books or submitting them for possible representation by Truth Publishing can visit for more information. "Truth Publishing is all about exercising free speech and empowering authors with the technology they need to see their books published, even if those books do not conform to the limited belief systems that dominate modern society," Adams explained. Quoting Noam Chomsky, Adams adds, "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

For more information on Truth Publishing, visit SOURCE NaturalNews


The site is very informative, and, even though we don't get many review requests for this non-fiction market, it's nice to see a self-publishing venue for such books. For more information on this venture please visit:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ebooks Get Social ...

ZDNET October 28th, 2008
eBooks get social, pose further threat to traditional publishers

"When most industry observers examine the impact of social media on traditional media industries, the focus inevitability turns to easily digitized media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television and music.
But what about books, and more specifically eBooks? To get a sense of where eBooks are headed in the socialsphere, I checked in with Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, an innovative eBook publishing startup I’ve been watching since their public beta launch earlier this year. In the interview, Mark comments on how the rise of social publishing, eBooks and indie authorship could spell difficultly for traditional book publishers."
I took a jump on over to Smashwords site, and I was very impressed. This is an exclusive digital lulu, so to speak, for Indie Ebook authors. The site is very user friendly. The content is searchable by category, title, etc. Publishing on the site is free and Smashwords takes 15% of net sales. There are no hidden charges, and the only charge I could see was the pay-pal processing fee that is charged per transaction, per sale, which does affect the cost of the book.

The site is pretty spiffy. The have a nice blog attached to the site. The founder's Bio is inspirational. The actual book pages are laid out professionally with all the pertinent cost and format information. All in all, I give it a two thumbs up.

Smashwords gives the authors the ability to publish free content and also allow readers to sample up to 50% of the book before committing to purchase. Now, I am not an ebook author, but there are many of you out there, and in the terms of service section, there was one point, listed below, that made me cringe a little regarding the free works. Not sure how ebook authors feel about such things, but I would love to hear comments.

10a. Rights of Use.

  • 1. Purchased works: As End User, you acknowledge that all Work furnished by Smashwords is licensed for the use of the End Users of the Site and may not be sublicensed or resold. If you purchase a work, you hold a non-exclusive, non-transferable, and non-distributable right of use. In other words, you are free to enjoy it for your own use, but you are not authorized to share, sell, or distribute the work to others.

  • 2. Free works including sample works: By definition, if an Author sets the price for the Work at zero, or if the author samples a certain percentage of their work, End Users may duplicate, share and reproduce the work or sample during the time the price is set at zero, but only for non-commercial purposes. Therefore, free works may not be reproduced for the purpose of generating traffic for your web site or blog, or for running advertising or promotional messages. Print or online reproductions should contain the following legend containing live clickable hyperlinks at the beginning and end of the document that reads, “This is the copyrighted work of [insert author’s first and last name], as originally published on at and at [insert direct hyperlink to the book page of the work]. This work may be freely duplicated and shared for non-commercial purposes. All reproductions are to maintain this legend at the beginning and end of the work, in its entirety.” Blogged excerpts of under 3,000 words need only either hyperlink to the author’s page on Smashwords, or place the above legend at the end of the excerpt:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

YouPublish releases v2.0 of Online Publishing Platform

New Site Feature Enables Users to View 28 Different File Types Directly in Browser

From Businesswire October 24, 2008

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, Oct 24, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- YouPublish (, an innovative, new file-sharing web site that lets users publish virtually any digital file type or format, free or paid, today announced v2.0 of the site that features multiple upgrades, including the ability to view 28 different file types, like video, audio, text, PDFs and photographs -- directly in the browser without downloading.
I took a look at the site and the terms of service seem fairly typical. It seems to be a standard Lulu type site for digital publishing. There is no fee for setting up an account and no fee for publishing. The largest file they can accept at this time is 100MB. They get 50% of the revenue, but they only make payments when your royalties reach $100.00. In that case payment is made monthly, and you have to pay the transaction charge. The site layout is a bit amateurish, and in the terms of service they refer to the authors' digital media/publication as "stuff", but their FAQ seems pretty comprehensive. If anyone is currently using the service the peeps would love to hear comments.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Xlibris Offers Large Discounts on Book Publishing Packages

Xlibris offers 50% discount on black and white and full color publishing packages and 33%, on marketing services.
November 3, 2008 (FPRC) -- Large discounts are offered by the book publisher, Xlibris, for publishing and marketing services availed of for the whole month of November as an early holiday present for writers who wish to become authors. The leading self publishing company gives 50% price cut on black and white and full color publishing packages for writers and photographers who wish to publish their work and 33% on marketing services for authors who wish to widen the exposure of work.

I have read quite a few Xlibris books, and again they work much the same way as say an Outskirts Press or any other Non-DIY self-publishing company. Costs are comparative and packages vary according to services needed. Their basic service package for $299.00 includes a little less than what you would get with Lulu including: 3 basic cover templates, 2 interior templates, and the assignment of an ISBN but no distribution. As you add services like editing and distribution the cost goes up. You don't get copy editing until $2,999.00, which is what most Indy authors need. 50% off seems like a good deal in that case.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Review -- The Organ Grinder and The Monkey

Title: The Organ Grinder and the Monkey
Author: Sam Moffie
Genre: Fiction/Literature – Contemporary
Price: $19.99
Publisher: Xlibris
ISBN: 978-1-4363-2775-6
Point of Sale:

For a typical converging lives story, I do have to say that I actually liked it. I liked its honesty, its complexity, and its blunt philosophy. The language is vulgar and abrupt; there are some imaginative boundary pushing scenarios to mull over; the worldview is rather dark and gritty; and the triangulation of the three therapeutic philosophies is very amusing – serious – but not overbearing. There is a lot of good stuff in this story. What I didn’t like about the book was its lack of technical finesse.

The first half of the book is nothing but straight narrative as we get all the down and dirty background information on our three characters: Seymore, Irving, and Constance. Yes, the entire first half of the book is background. We get a lot more background than we actually need and in some cases background that really isn’t all that relevant and offers no additional depth to the characters or the plotline. The characters’ hometowns were thoroughly profiled down to every broken window, racial slur, and sporting event, but I felt lost in the minutia after a while. It felt repetitive, and it really slowed the pacing for me. The narrative moves forward and backward rather erratically, and it is often interrupted by informational vs. interactive dialog. The problem with this is that the narrator’s voice is so pronounced that all the one-off one-liners end up sounding the same. There is so much out of context he said she said that the distinguishing idiosyncrasies of the characters became so blurred with the narrator that I couldn’t really appreciate them or really feel them as psychological beings, and that is a shame since their psychological worldview is the thrust of the story.

As far as the characters go, we have some standard archetypes: Seymore, victim number one, is the product of a broken home, bitter parents, an eccentric father, and an old-fashioned curmudgeon of a grandfather. Seymore is slight of temperament, studious and withdrawn, and is traumatized and invariably haunted by his father’s death, which is graphic and definitely over the top – Bravo to that! Lastly, Seymore wants nothing more than to escape the shit-hole town he was born in, move to NYC, and become a veterinarian – he becomes a killer instead. Then we have Irving, victim number two. Irving is product of radical liberal parents, who happen to have died in a tragic car accident. Irving is a classic co-dependent, all around good guy, actually wants to be the good guy, and has developed an unnatural fixation for conspiracy theories. Irving also wants to move to NYC and become a police officer – go figure. And lastly, we have Constance, victim number three. Constance is the product of single parent home. Her father died after losing the family fortune gambling. Her mother is the stereotypical waitress, and Constance is a bit of a control freak and nasty kinky in bed – Brava to that! She wants to move to NYC and become a Rockette and predictably ends up dancing in a strip club. All the characters come from similar degenerative towns, and they all share the same therapist – who is vague, barely mentioned, and who really has no relevance to the story except as the butt of offhanded callous remarks.

The plot is typical for this type of story, filled with life’s ups, downs, and enemas, and it doesn’t actually exist until midway through. If it weren’t for the chastising dark humour, I would have given up after chapter 5. I kept on reading because of the story’s angle, which attempts to compare the therapeutic philosophies of the three characters: Seymore and his traditional therapist. Irving and Al-Anon, and Constance, who doesn’t suppress her desire to see everyone and everything be given an enema from the almighty. I can sympathize. During the reading of the story, one is supposed to see the differences within the three, but again, this is an area where I felt the detail and depth was lacking. If you have prior knowledge in the science of psychology, then the underlying theorem will be apparent: all people are affected and the only way to get on with it is to confront the issues, confront the shadows, focus on what we can change, and let everything else go. Focus on the inner self, if you will. Both conventional therapy and Al-Anon work much the same way, as does an enema. The funny bit for me was, each of the therapeutic philosophies had exactly the same effect. Each in their own way, all three characters managed to detach, better themselves, and fulfil a need. I suppose that is the irony of personal therapy; it’s all a matter of interpretation.

Overall, I really think the author had something pretty damn fantastic here, not the story per say, but the angle. We have all seen the convergent lives story: the killer, the tormented cop, and the seductive damsel. Unfortunately, the narrative itself was a deterrent to the writing. The third person narrative just got in the way. I think if the narrative had been in first-person with shifting points of view then we really could have gotten a better feel for the three characters. Their personas and their subconscious pathologies would have been more palpable. Even the use of italics didn’t help, as the narrative in those sections was not appreciably different from the rest of the book, which it should have been for 40+ pages of italics. I wanted to feel Seymore, know him like we knew Patrick Bateman in American Psycho or the narrator in Fight Club, but we don’t. Same with Irving and Constance, we just don’t get that depth with such a detached narrative. I would have liked to have seen more internal exposition.

This story could have easily been a 10 for me if it weren’t for the technical issues, the serious grammatical issues, and the narrative issues. It had everything I like: psychological story, socio-political commentary, sarcasm, satire, strong characters, gritty language, darkly comedic world-view, and some nasty boundary-crossing skin-chilling scenes. With a professional editor, I think this story could be reworked into something quite spectacular and would be on par with others in the same vein like “American Psycho” or "Fight Club." As it stands now I have to give it a 6. The detached overbearing narrative voice and the one-dimensional textbook characters just didn’t work for me as well as they could have.

RATING: 6/10

Monday, November 03, 2008

Free Book Friday Winner

The winner drawn out of my hat, well actually from the basket I keep my mail in, is the poster anon/Blackroze. Thank you to everyone who came by to enter.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

REVIEW: Free Book Friday: Transformations

Author: Donna Barr
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $14.14
Publisher: Lulu

Self-publication has many uses and one of them is to make available niche interest fiction. I think equine transformation fantasies would have to be considered a niche. I was aware of this type of fantasy, often with a sexual component, and intrigued at a whole collection on the subject by Donna Barr. (Basically men are turned into large horses, often with humanoid heads, at some point in the story). I would confess, however, that my interest has waned somewhat by the end of nearly 400 pages (although to my mind the last story in the collection is the best).

Add to that many of the stories are set in Ms. Barr's own AU, paranormal, post-war Nazi empire (think Fatherland, crossed with pre-Raphaelite Narnia, on LSD--no heck that doesn't work either). The thing is if you are interested in seeing Barr's take in a Nazi AU I think Ringcat might be the place to start. And if you want to see what she does with a half-horse race (sans most of the fetish material) I would recommend her centaur comic book Stinz.

The author's worlds are no less vivid here but far less accessible. They are written, I think, for a client who needs no introduction to how things work in Barr's semi-dystopian Deutschland. However the feeling of not making many concessions to the reader also extends to the contemporary and straight historical stories in the mix. The prose stylings sometimes meander and dwell on scenes rather than trotting along as most modern stories do--and although the characterizations and scenarios are quite exquisite there is often not so much of an actual plot.

I would give this 10/10 for novelty and 6/10 for readability--rounding out to a solid 8/10 overall with a recognition that some readers will adore this book and others will be as confused as hell, and probably bored as well. With that in mind I would request that you enter for the free book only if you really want to read stories about men turning into horse-bodied creatures and fitted with gorgeous harnesses, or at least that you won't complain when that is what you get.... I will also throw in a bonus book, a copy of Homicide Insecticide by Orthi Rabbane.

Rating: 8/10
Reviewer: Emily Veinglory

Giveaway details!

I am giving my copy of these two books away. The copy of Transformations has a slight scuff marks from bouncing around in my carry-on bag during a flight but is still in very good condition. To win, comment on this post by Midnight, Sunday November 2nd. A name will be drawn randomly and will be announced on Monday November 3rd. If your name is announced as the winner, please email: podpeep at gmail dot com with your snail mail address. Good Luck!

Review of the New Writer's Handbook Volume 2

Title: The New Writer's Handbook Volume 2
Editor: Philip Martin
Genre: Non-fiction
Price: $16.95
Publisher: Scarletta Press
ISBN: 9780979624920

The New Writer's Handbook V2 is a collection of 65 pieces described as articles but more along the lines of short essays, or high quality blog posts--which is indeed how most of them started out before being tidied up and reprinted here. That said, the contributors all know whereof they speak, express themselves well and have something to say. Each article tends to be very brief and make one well-argued point, although a few are longer and more complexly argued. For the most part, points well worth making and of potential interest to all new and a good many not-so-new writers.

The book is broken up into the sections of motivation, craft, pitches, marketing, business, and a more mixed section for sundry other issues. The articles include some 'usual suspects' such as first versus third person and show versus tell. Others are more fresh. I particularly enjoyed Diana Glyer's piece on the writing group Tolkein and CS Lewis were in with some information about the earlier drafts of Lord of the Rings. Several other essays gave me ideas I intend to try out. A few made declarative statements that struck me as the useless tiresome over-generalisation (how I write versus how everyone must write). Even the articles that didn't impart great wisdom was entertaining. I read the whole book in one 90 minutes plane trip and found it hugely engaging. I expect tp refer back to it often.

One should not read this book expecting some kind of comprehensive guide to writing for publication. But as the editor's afterword reminds us, no such thing can really be expected to exist. Philip Martin writes: "The problem with advice: it can be overwhelming, endless, repetitive, contradictory, sometimes stretched paper-thin, and often comes from someone who wants to sell you their services." The first task of an author to to learn how to process and use advice without being too credulous or too dismissive. And the first step is to seek advice from those most qualified to help you, and least likely to scam you--and that is exactly what the handbook provides.

Rating: 9/10
Reviewer: Emily Veinglory

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Review: The Serial Box

Title: The Serial Bok
Author: R. W. Hogan
Genre: Science fiction
Price: $17.99
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 978-0-557-00777-6
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Mr. R. W. Hogan requested that I review his first novel, The Serial Box. The back-cover material, and for that matter the front cover, a picture of a blood-soaked gun on a map, scream “crime novel,” but this work is more accurately science fiction.

The book opens with a prologue describing a cold-blooded murder in Iowa, taking place on June 3, 2006. The same day in Chicago, lawyer Denny Harcourt is burying his only son, dead of leukemia at the age of seven. It takes the author several chapters to link these threads, which he does in the person of Christian Quincy. You see, Chris has come into possession of technology from the future, including a voice-controlled PDA. The device and other technology convinces Quincy that he needs to kill various serial killers before they strike.

Now, in a conventional telling of this story, the discovery of the future technology would be chapter 1, but Hogan, the author, has a stroke of genius and tells his story from the point of view of lawyer Harcourt. Quincy gets caught, of course, and requests Harcourt by name as his defense attorney. At first Harcourt thinks Quincy is a garden-variety nut, but he slowly comes to believe that his client isn’t mad at all, but a true hero.

Unfortunately, I found that The Serial Box has a lot of flaws which get in the way of the story. First, it lacks a sense of place. Hogan mailed me a copy of the book from Windsor, Canada, but the book is set in Chicago. I live in Chicago, and kept catching Hogan in glaring local errors. For example, the Cook County Criminal Court building and the County jail are at 26th and California. I know this because every newscaster in town refers to the building by that address. You will not find either the address or the name “Cook County” referenced in The Serial Box.

Downtown Chicago is not called “downtown,” it’s called “the Loop” because of the elevated trains that run around it. One of the few addresses mentioned, 117 S. Lincoln, “in an old and rundown part of downtown” doesn’t exist, and if it did, it probably wouldn’t be a rooming house for a serial killer. (One block south of Madison anywhere near downtown would be yuppie heaven.) The real shame here is that there’s no particular reason to set the story in Chicago. All the events depicted could just as easily happened in Canada or Detroit.

My second set of issues with The Serial Box was in the mechanics of the storytelling. Much of the story was told in first person by Denny Harcourt, which was okay. But, where it was not Harcourt speaking, there was a very strong narrative voice, opinionated, and which interfered with the flow of the story. Were I looking at a draft, I would suggest a quick fix would be redoing the story as a memoir by Harcourt. Also, Hogan has a tendency to let his characters talk in multi-paragraph speeches with no quotation marks or other signifiers that it’s dialog.

There are several stock characters in the book, pulled from Central Casting. We have a brilliant scientist with a comely daughter, a driven FBI agent, and an exceptionally lovely young female defense attorney. These characters aren’t very compelling or interesting, and several of them could frankly go away without hurting the story.

Overall, The Serial Box reminds me of a 1950’s science fiction B movie. That’s not to say there aren’t flashes of brilliance (there were some good B movies of that era) but as a whole the book is not terribly compelling.


Monday, October 27, 2008

New Review Site: Foghorn

The Foghorn Review blog is open to self-published submissions. They review sci fi and fantasy fiction (and art).

Matador Authors sign with Harper-Collins...

From the Press Release -- Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Matador is celebrating the success of two of its authors, each of whom has landed a three-book mainstream publishing deal. Melanie Rose and Polly Courtney, who both self published two novels under the Matador self publishing imprint, have signed a three-book deal with Avon, a division of Harper-Collins."
Matador publishing is a self-publishing imprint from Troubador Publishing in the UK. I would say they are comparable to Outskirts Press or a Wheatmark over here in the US. Definitely not a Lulu. But what strikes me most is their attention to quality of product. Kudos to the Authors for getting the book deals, but it is obvious that they and their chosen self-publisher really put in the effort on quality. Check out their site. It is very informative, and I feel that it offers some wonderful insight as to what makes a self-published author successful, specifically the cost page.

We always like to hear when self-published authors find success in the mainstream. It can happen, does happen, and we have profiled quite a few success stories here on the podpeeps, some of them Lulu authors. What they all had in common was a focus on success, a realistic business plan, an attention to detail, and most importantly: quality of product and presentation.

I hope to see more successes such as these in the coming years.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 -- Open Access Self-publishing

From the Press Release: October 16, 2008 is an open-access interactive web community for writers, filmmakers, and artists. Think of it as a literary magazine without the editors and publishers. The site provides the means to self-publish fiction, nonfiction, essays, poetry, short films, photography, art, and creative multimedia. Anyone can submit and there is no selection process. The audience will respond with ratings and comments, and the most popular items will be featured on the homepage.
This is pretty much as it says Open Access, which means there is no submission process nor are there editorial services. They have a few guidelines as to length and that submissions must have "Artistic or Cultural Value." Hmmmm ... Wonder who determines that?

There is a blog and a community message board attached to the site, and they section the submissions off as would an online e-mag by Issues/Genre. So for the most part, it seems to be an elaborate artistic community venture and not really "publishing" as far as traditional guidelines would dictate. They copyright using the Creative Commons License, and again, this is more of a word/art sharing site -- No Selection Process -- No Editorial Process -- No Royalties.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forgot One

I forgot one book in my to-be-reviewed pile. Released by ISFIC Press, it has simply The Coolest Cover Ever. You can pre-order your copy of When Diplomacy Fails here.

Upcoming Titles

After a slow spell, my to-be-reviewed queue here at POD People has filled up. I have not one but two books on the way.

The first book is Prop Wash by Betty Kaseman. It's billed as the biography of Polly Potter Ross, a woman who got her pilot's license in 1931 and spent a career flying, including bomber ferry work during WWII.

The second book is a novel, The Serial Box, a mystery novel by Raymond Hogan. Alas, I couldn't find a better picture of the cover, but it's a doozy - a blood-drenched gun.

I look forward to reading both books.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jexbo -- A New Retail Outlet for Self-published Books...

There is not much in the way of information on the site aside from a Q&A section, as it seems to be in beta at the moment. The press release states:

"Formed in 2007, jexbo,, is a new business that gives self-published authors the ability to reach their customers online for only 99¢ per month (plus jexbo receives 5% of whatever the author sells). Readers can quickly and easily find interesting and unique self-published books in various categories. jexbo gives self-published authors the ability to control the sales process, communicate directly with customers and customize a web page for marketing purposes at no additional cost."
Now this is not a Lulu or a publishing company, in fact, they clearly state that they do not print books. This site is but another retail portal for self-published authors to market their wares, and would be geared to authors who invest in small print runs and have stock to sell. They also allow ISBN-less books, and e-books. I can't really speculate on how cost effective this would be for a self-published author, when print on demand eliminates having to pay for a run or carry stock, and most POD publishers offer a distribution package that will get your book broader visability in the online marketplace, meaning Amazon and B&N. But I guess for say a Lulu creator, who does not want distribution or an ISBN, then this would be an affordable marketing portal in addition to the Lulu marketplace. I am not much of an internet shopper and the majority of my book purchases come from tried and true reliable sources like Amazon, B&N, bricks and mortar stores, and on occasion, I have a few niche stores that specialize in obscure and hard to find out of print books. So maybe this could be considered one of those. Time will tell if online marketplaces such as this actually add value for the self-published author.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Guardian wishes Bloggers a Happy Birthday

From “The Guardian” By John Naughton, Sunday October 19, 2008-10-19

“Initially, blogging had a bad press, at least in the press. Editors derided it as vanity publishing by egomaniacs. Who did these oiks think they were, imagining people would be interested in their views? Working journalists - incredulous that people would write for no financial reward - ridiculed blogging as self-indulgent insanity.”
As Mr. Naughton states in the full article, blogging has come a long way. Whilst I will agree that there is still a bit of unprofessional behaviour -- i.e. ridicule and snarking -- out there in blog land, which I don’t particularly fancy, the fact remains that good bloggers provide a world of news, views, and critical opinion: Unbiased critical opinion, I might add. Unbiased simply because most bloggers receive no compensation, and so our opinion is not and cannot be swayed. It just can’t be bought. Book review blogs in particular have made a world of difference in the self-publishing industry, offering the valuable reader critique that every writer covets.

So bloggers, give yourselves a pat on the back. Book bloggers, who not only consider but review self-published books, you deserve more than a pat on the back. Your contribution to independent art is invaluable. It's hard work to keep a blog going. I have seen so many book review blogs come and go in the last two years. I am also intimately familiar with the struggle.

Personally, I would like to thank Emily, owner of this blog, the longest standing self-pub review blog to date. Thank you for inviting me to contribute. I would also like to thank Breenie over at breeniebooks and mrsgiggles, who both took a chance on my own rather disturbing artistic inclinations.

Authors and readers alike, pop on over to your favorite book blog and leave a comment or leave a comment here with a link to your favorite book blog. We would love to hear from you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Hope for Self-Publishers --

New Hope for Self-Publishers – Bringing Stories to Life

Press Release states: “Plain and simple, book writers seek to get published. Book writers face the choice of whether to find a major publisher willing to take a chance on a new writer, to invest in vanity publishing, or find the right self-publishing option. This is the stage that needs the most research. Fortunately, there are companies like NewFiction who aim to help those fiction writers. What does, is not only help edit your story and get it in front of the world, but they bring your story to life. They do this in a number of ways. First, they provide original artwork to convey the message of the story. This process is followed up by bringing your story to an audio format, to accompany the written version you have provided. The audio books are enhanced with real actors and actresses who help to bring your story's characters to life. NewFiction helps authors to get their stories in front of the world, and as an author that is all you can ask.” – From PR 10-9-2008
While I love the idea that self-published authors have yet a new venue to showcase their work, I couldn’t find any information associated with cost on the actual website. The site is very nice, very professional, and the sign-up screen has all the typical legal copyright, use, and liability information:

Your Contributions
Whenever you submit any material to the Web Site (including without limitation any text, graphics, video or audio) you grant NF a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licenseable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, play and exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to any such work worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any media. If you do not wish to grant such rights to NF it is suggested that you do not submit your contribution to the Web Site.

By submitting your contribution to the Web Site you also:

  • warrant that such contribution is your own original work;
  • agree to indemnify NF against all legal fees, damages and other expenses that may be incurred by NF as a result of your breach of the above warranty; and
  • agree to waive any moral rights in your contribution for all the purposes specified herein.
  • In the event of any conflict between these Terms and Conditions and specific terms appearing elsewhere on the Web Site relating to specific material, the latter shall prevail.

All that is great, but most self-published authors are very cost conscious, and I know that costs will vary for such a service, but a general breakdown of services and the associated costs would be nice, even if it were variable.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lulu Distribution Shrinking

Lulu authors using Lulu have began to notice their online distributors vanishing away. Once upon a time Lulu books could be released with an ISBN and would gradually show up at most of the online bookstores. Now author report that they are only appearing at (not even etc).

Staff on the forum and chat lines seem to be saying nothing had changed, but the new books are not getting the same distribution online, and old ones are being listed as out of stock by most distributors. Hopefully answers will be forthcoming, but I am not holding my breath.

Suspicions are arising that the arrangement Lulu made with Amazon had some side effects that are not favorable to their author/customers--such as not listing books with Ingram.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Outskirts Press offers its Authors a Website Package...

From the Outskirts Blog:

Now Outskirts is not a Lulu. They are a full service self-publisher and their costs are comparable with others such as Wheatmark etc. I have seen a few books done through them and the quality is no different. Lulu offers a customizable store front to authors but it is not quite as customizable as a professional webpage nor does it have the technical support through a third party vendor that Outskirts is offering.

I am interested to hear from authors if having a webpage has helped or hindered book sales, and by hindered I mean do the book sales generated offset the cost of the webpage?

On a final note: Money is always a concern for self-published authors, and in the beginning, we all know that the balance sheet is usually in the red and it takes a while to recoup start-up costs. Most Internet service providers offer free web-page space to their customers. If one were savvy and had a web publishing program, a website in this fashion would be a very cost effective way to market your name and your books. So check your options thoroughly and understand your specific needs before you incur any additional third party marketing costs.

Disclaimer: This author has no personal experience with Outskirts Press and this post is not an endorsement for or against the services provided.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

" Introduces Print-On-Demand Programme for Books"--Dusk Peterson

That's the headline in the press releases section of Amazon UK. You can see the news here. Alas, the press release doesn't make clear whether they will be offering a self-publishing option similar to Amazon US's CreateSpace program.

One important item in the press release: "For a limited time, will provide free setup for publishers with POD-ready PDF files."

Dusk Peterson writes fantasy stories on friendship, gay historical fantasy tales, and contemporary gay fiction. Occasionally, a heterosexual love story will appear as well. Peterson's stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. Romance and friendship, especially male friendship, are recurring themes.

To booktrailer creators: YouTube now offers individualized video statistics -- Dusk Peterson

Sign into your account and go to Account > My Videos > YouTube Insight. My thanks for the heads up from Morris Rosenthal in this blog entry.

Dusk Peterson writes fantasy stories on friendship, gay historical fantasy tales, and contemporary gay fiction. Occasionally, a heterosexual love story will appear as well. Peterson's stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. Romance and friendship, especially male friendship, are recurring themes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Self-Pub-Friendly Review Site--veinglory

"Gotta Write Network reviewers read big, small and self published books in the following genres: Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal and Erotica." They also run the Authorfest which I attended this year. I actually appear on the photo-page here--can you see me?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Halloween Happenings -- Book Signing

…with our very own Joseph Sweet author of Hell 101 and The Fall.
If you happen to be in Watertown NY on October 18th from Noon to 3:00 PM, stop in an visit Joe, have a book signed, get your spook on, and slam down a bit of cider.

Burrville Cider Mill Presents: Afternoon with the Authors Saturday, October 18, Noon till 3pm,

At the Burrville Cider Mill, 18176 County Route 156, Plank Rd. Watertown, NY
We reviewed Joe last year during our Halloween open call. His book titled “Hell 101” was well received, and his new one “The Fall” is available on Amazon now.

Good Luck from the Podpeeps and gnaw on a few bones for us.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Review of Alanya to Alanya

Title: Alanya to Alanya: Book One of The Marq’ssan Cycle
Author: L. Timmel Duchamp
Genre: Science fiction
Price: $19
Publisher: Aqueduct Press
ISBN: 0-9746559-6-7
Point of Sale: Amazon

L. Timmel Duchamp is co-founder of Aqueduct Press, which “dedicates itself to publishing challenging, feminist science fiction.” I found Alanya to Alanya lived up to that assessment.

The book opens in Seattle in February, 2076. The Marq’ssan, an alien race, arrive and, after issuing a warning, blanket the world in an electromagnetic pulse which fries all but military-grade microprocessors and puts the world into chaos. At the same time, they have demanded each country send three female negotiators to meet with them. Professor Kay Zeldin is plucked from apparent obscurity and shipped off as one of the negotiators. It turns out that she has personal history as a spy working under Robert Sedgewick, who is now Chief of Security in a much more repressive America.

To say the “shock and awe” of the Marq’ssan (referred to in the book as “The Blanket”) doesn’t produce the desired results isn’t much of a spoiler. America in particular and much of the world in general is ruled by “Executives,” men (mostly) who have been biologically modified, presumably to make them more capable of analysis. It also greatly reduces their sex drives. There are several other, inferior classes of people, “service-techs” and “professionals” (like Zeldin) and the world’s standard of living for non-Executives has fallen greatly.

Much of the narrative in Alanya to Alanya is given over to various negotiation sessions and/or people discussing politics. For reasons that I don’t understand or buy into, humans refuse to believe the Marq’ssan are an alien race, instead thinking they are human terrorists. This is slightly more credible in that the Marq’ssan use technology to appear human, but the power required for the EMP pulse alone should be a tip-off. Also, despite a century of progress, human space travel seems stuck at current levels if that; for example, there is no mention of a manned orbital presence.

I also found Duchamp’s worldview and politics a bit weak. In an era where we have women winning Silver Stars for combat, her women are at times too passive. In her defense, she got into feminist science fiction as a result of an incident in 1970 when she went off to college, the first in her family of small-town farmers. She tried to get admitted as a composition student, but that was simply not open to females. She back-doored her way in, and got a composition of hers played at a recital. She then expected that mark of approval to get her formally into the program.

Her male professor told her that the only reason the (male) performers played the piece was that they wanted to sleep with her. He then asked her out for a beer, and admitted that he'd like to sleep with her too. Coming from a small town, she took him at his word, said no, and never composed music again. So I’m prepared to cut her a little slack in the world-building department.

Having said all of that, Duchamp’s female characters are people I care about. The novel’s deliberate pace seems to work at building suspense, and her trick of neutralizing technology seems to add to the narrative power. Overall, it’s an interesting work, although not quite my personal cup of tea.

Rating 8/10