Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Congratulations Go Out To ...

Zondra Hughes author of “The M.O.O.d Lounge.”

Zondra’s book, published in March 2007 through Iuniverse, was well received and Zondra was off and running. I recently heard from Zondra with news that the book has been picked up by Karen Hunter Publishing.

The Blurb
In New York, men have perfected the art of lovemaking and have sexed their women into stupidity. Three of New York's most desperate women join forces to exact their revenge: Sexual Independence. With their toys in tow, the women create Multiple Orgasms On Demand, and The M.O.O.D. Lounge, their official playhouse, is born. Part group therapy, part adult toy party, The M.O.O.D. Lounge offers a first class tour of decadence and delight. Welcome to The M.O.O.D. Lounge. Come as you are. Come all you want.

From the Author
The M.O.O.D. Lounge has now come to life! Over 52,300 women have signed up, vowing to take back their power.

About the Author
Zondra Hughes, 31, was the sex and relationship editor at Ebony magazine. Six years of reporting salacious tales of love and woe led to her foray into Chick Lit and her first novel, The M.O.O.D. Lounge. She resides in Chicago and Los Angeles. Check out her website.

So congratulations from all of us at the Podpeeps. I look forward to the new edition and can’t wait to review the book. The original Iuniverse edition is still available on Amazon, last I checked.

Monday, September 29, 2008

We Have a Winner!

We had 59 comments for the September Free Book Friday. Faced by that daunting number, I fired up POD People's random number generator. Our unit is powered by Brownian motion - we're Americans, so we use coffee as the power source - and it spit out a random number. I matched that number to the entrants, and, the winner of the September book giveaway is commentor "toughturtle!" Mr. or Ms. Toughturtle, please email us at podpeep at gmail dot com with a shipping address.

In other news, my next review will be L. Timmel Duchamp's book Alanya to Alanya. The author is co-founder of Aqueduct Press the publisher, so I guess it's technically self-published.

I'd like to thank everybody for commenting and reading our reviews, and for those who didn't win, better luck next time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Free Book Friday

Title: MultiReal (Volume 2 of the Jump 225 Trilogy)
Author: David Louis Edelman
Price: $15
Genre: Science Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-56102-647-1
Point of Sale: Amazon

It's that time of month - time for our free book giveaway at POD People. This month's book is MultiReal by David Louis Edelman.

His first book, InfoQuake, was called “the love child of Donald Trump and Verner Vinge.” If that’s the case, MultiReal is what happens when that child starts driving and going out on dates – entertaining to watch but not something you’d want to experience.

Let’s get my quibbles out of the way. MultiReal is a very tight sequel to InfoQuake. In order to understand the second book, I had to read the summary of InfoQuake (included) as well as the glossary. Also, the ending of MultiReal is a cliff-hanger. Lastly, from a writing point of view, Edelman uses a lot of “said-isms.” A said-ism is where the writer, instead of using, “[Character’s name] said X” will use, “the neural programmer…” It’s a bit irritating, but again, it’s a quibble.

Moving on to substantive matters, the book is full of Big Ideas, in the best tradition of science fiction. Hundreds of years after the Autonomous Revolt, an attempt by artificial intelligences to take over the world, humans have rebuilt society and use “bio-logics,” programs which run in the human body, to interact with the world. Natch, an entrepreneur and programmer, has helped develop a radical new technology. This technology, called MultiReal, allows users to manipulate virtual computer networks in such a way as to gain vast powers. They can literally think rings around any human opponent.

In InfoQuake, Natch defied the world government to demonstrate his software, earning considerable ire from the government. He was also injected with “black code,” malicious programs which run on the body, affecting various aspects of his existence. MultiReal is in effect “The Empire Strikes Back” part of the trilogy, in which an increasingly desperate set of adversaries use whatever means are available to stop Natch and his company.

Edelman is a programmer in real life, and his understanding of the process informs the book. Multireal is a deep book, full of plots and counter-plots, with a stunning vision of the future. It manages what seems to be impossible, making the act of computer programming exciting, while reflecting on the nature of government and business. This is high science fiction at its finest.

Giveaway details!

I am giving my copy of this book away. Comment on this post by Midnight, Sunday September 28. A name will be drawn randomly and will be announced on Monday September 30. If your name is announced as the winner, please email: podpeep at gmail dot com with your snail mail address. Good Luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Calling all Adverb lovers and haters -- Free copy of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!

I am still looking to give away a copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the best adverb laden piece of prose. So, I thought I would share one of my favorites from philosopher, essayist, novelist, eccentric Czech writer Ladislav Klima, whom I fell in love with instantly. I quote from his book titled: The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch:

But she did not display the least happiness. She stood up mechanically, danced like a wooden doll. Rather unusually confused, I spoke little and stupidly. I don't know what it was that penetrated me so narcotically...She lightly pushed me away, lifted her eyes. And now they were no longer covered by her upper eyelids -- they opened suddenly, unbelievably, until they were like cat's eyes -- just as green, just as wild, predatory, uncanny. Her lips, previously lying sluggishly one on top of the other or slightly parted, closed tightly, became sharp as a razor, her nose became narrow, her nostrils distended and undulated wildly.

Now that's what I am talking about. I don't think it could have been written any other way to beautifully describe such an ugly woman.

So let's here them. Contest is over at the end of the month.

Cheryl Anne Gardner is a retired writer of dark, often disturbing, literary novellas with romantic/erotic undertones. She is an avid reader and an independent reviewer with Podpeople blogspot and Amazon where sheblogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocatefor 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

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Reddest of Flags--veinglory

I heard about a new site called Yudu. It was described to me as a marketplace for ebooks and emagazines.

"YUDU ( http://www.yudu.com) also seeks to become a leading global marketplace selling ebooks, documents and other media: one that brings together creators and their audiences, to share, buy and sell their content globally."

As it happens I am in the market for some new e-magazines--and I mean paying for subscriptions to new niche magazines. I went to the site and if they have anything for sale, I can't figure out how to find and buy it.

My point is not so much that I want tips one how to hunt down where they have hidden their users' products, it is that I found 20-30 ins for how to sell through them, and in the process could not even figure out how to buy from them--when that was my primary purpose. That proportion is, to say the least, the wrong way around.

Publishing needs more consumers than it does creators. The path to purchase needs to be intuitive, inclusive and easy. If, even in beta mode, the marketplace website is oriented towards creator more than consumers, they are starting out on the wrong foot and hopping all the way.

"Who is YUDU for?
There are a host of benefits for all different types of users but anyone can use YUDU!
For more info, click on the link below that best describes you:
Small and Medium Size Businesses
Sole traders & consultants
Marketing Professionals
Graphic Designers, Flash Designers & Artworkers
Authors & Writers
Musicians & Bands
Amateur & Professional Photographers
Artists & Illustrators
Charities & Not-for-profits

Why, I ask with some bemusement, are readers not on this list?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review of Souls In Silicon

Title: Souls in Silicon: Tales of AI Confronting the Infinite
Author: Jeff Duntemann
Genre: Science fiction, short story collection
Price: $11.99
Publisher: Copperwood Press
ISBN: (not assigned yet)

Jeff Duntemann is a veteran computer writer who also works in science fiction. Over the years, he’s written a number of short stories, and he decided to combine all the computer-related shorts in this collection entitled Souls In Silicon. I for one am glad he did. It’s a slim collection, consisting of just eight stories, plus an excerpt from his (so far) only novel The Cunning Blood, but what it lacks in volume it makes up for in heft.

The lead-off story, The Steel Sonnets, is one of his earliest works, and it’s dazzling. The story is that of a robot, not programmed for emotions, which discovers one (loyalty) anyway, and acts on it. Guardian, the next story, appeared on the final Hugo ballot in 1981. That’s science fiction’s equivalent of being nominated for an Academy Award. It’s a riveting tale of a robot “granted” a soul. The robot is determined to earn it’s soul’s keep, despite the attempts of a priest to dissuade it.

The next story, Silicon Psalm, has one of the most haunting opening lines I’ve read. It starts, “At three A. M., a little girl who had no heart cried out to the darkness: ‘Maxie, it hurts! Please make it stop hurting!” The story gets more heart-tugging from there.

Borovsky’s Hollow Woman is an interesting story about the love between a man and his artificially-intelligent space suit. It’s quite engaging. This is the longest story in the book, and it’s followed by a pair of almost flash-fiction short stories, Bathtub Mary and STORMY vs. the Tornadoes, both of which are more light-hearted but entertaining pieces. The last short, Sympathy on the Loss of One of Your Legs, got its start from Jeff misreading a Hallmark card that said “Sympathy for your Loss.” Despite the downer title, it’s an uplifting little piece.

Here’s the bottom line – Jeff has compiled a very powerful set of science fiction short stories. Not only are they powerful, but they’re different. There’s not one “machine run amuck” in the lot of them. All Jeff’s machines are doing what they are doing for valid, human reasons. The sensawonder you’ll get from this collection is deep, and you’ll be thinking of these stories long after you’ve finished the book.

Rating 10/10

Monday, September 08, 2008

Review of God's Thunderbolt

Title: God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana
Author: Carol Buchanan
Genre: Historical fiction, western
Price: $18.99
ISBN: 978-1419697098

I had requested the opportunity to review Carol Buchanan’s novel God’s Thunderbolt because I found the idea of a lawless frontier place, hundreds of miles from nowhere and forced to develop their own rules, a very interesting one. What I didn’t realize was that the book was actually more of a romance novel then a straight historical fiction. Now, it’s not advertised as that, but structurally it is. Once I got over my surprise, I was better, but I’m still a bit disappointed in Ms. Buchanan’s novel.

The historical and plot situation is this. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, a gold rush had broken out in Adler Gulch, a valley in what is now Montana. At the time, this was part of the Idaho Territory, which was just getting organized. For whatever reason, Congress hadn’t applied the US Constitution to the territory when it was founded, and even if it had, the nearest government center was at Fort Benton, 350 miles away and on the other side of a mountain range. It might as well been on the Moon for all the good it did the miners at Adler Gulch, who organized themselves into various districts or towns, with a thin veneer of government.

In early winter of 1863, Nick Tbalt, foster son of Major Thomas Fitch, CSA, was killed and his body dumped. Martha McDowell takes this killing, one of many, especially hard. Also affected is Dan Stark, the son of a New York lawyer who gambled away a fortune before shooting himself.

In romance novels, there is a three-part structure of heroine, protagonist (the object of the heroine’s desire) and antagonist (person working to prevent the heroes from getting together). Here, Martha and Dan are trying to get together, obstructed by Martha’s husband Sam. While this is happening, Dan and Martha are also working discreetly to bring Nick’s killer to justice. Dan succeeds in getting George Ives arrested, and there is a “miners court” trial of Ives for the murder.

This is where for me the novel went somewhat off of the rails. The miner’s court was a chaotic affair, in which “juries of the whole” (which meant “whoever came and listened”) could decide cases, and where the first argument was which set of laws to apply. Ms. Buchanan spends almost half of the book detailing this trial at length, which I didn’t find very interesting.

The trial concludes finally, at about the book’s halfway point, and we then get to the part that I signed up for, the formation of the Committee of Vigilance. By comparison, this section gets short shrift, being shoehorned in. The romance part picks up here too, although this is Victorian America, so everything is very repressed and straight-laced.

I was reading an electronic copy, and MS Word tells me this book clocks in at 127,000 words. I think it could have been more entertaining at something under 100,000, spending more time on the Committee of Vigilance and the follow-on to that. I also think the romance aspect of the novel, which dominates the few chapters, needs to be more highlighted in the marketing of the book. Having said all of that, God’s Thunderbolt was an interesting read, and a window into a very obscure part of American history.

Rating 6/10

Friday, September 05, 2008

Yes, I love them—truly, madly, deeply.

"I love my adverbs,” she said adamantly, wagging her finger righteously through the air.

I always get a bit incensed when I hear new writers when they speak of the scourge of the adverb. I see it all over the place: knock those adverbs out of your writing, use a stronger verb, make your sentences concise—which is an oxymoron that I will explain later.

Frankly, if I want a character to walk quickly, that’s what I want. Sure, I could change it to run, but what if they aren’t running? Get my meaning. Sometimes things happen suddenly, and sometimes they don’t, not to mention the million ways to laugh or speak.

I see so many new authors struggle with comments like these, including myself, since I am in the midst of serious rewrites at the moment. Where do they hear such horrible things, well, they hear comments such as these in writing classes, style books, and see them on the writing blogs -- or they might even hear them quoted from their favourite author, who will remain unmentioned.

Apparently, there are two camps when it comes to adverb usage, those of us who love our adverbs and those who do not. Maybe it’s some deep-seated fear of poetry? Who knows.

This isn’t a new subject, but it is still hotly debated and opinions are deeply divided. Some may even say that this is a battle between European and American style. However you want to describe the situation, it is still a matter of style and not a rule. Adverbs exist for a reason and should be used, deliberately and liberally, if you choose to write in that style. Stylistic choices are not grammatical faux pas. Grammar is grammar and style is completely different. Someone who chooses to use adverbs, structurally and poetically, should not be automatically accused of novice error and accosted for their assumed ignorance.

I am currently reading Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Adams was one of the most brilliant writers in the sci-fi genre with over 14 million in books sales from that series of books alone. I read the book twenty plus years ago, and it is as timeless now as it was when he wrote it, not to mention just as hysterical to read. His voice is genuine and pronounced, and Adams, like many other European writers, loves his adverbs, using three or four in a row in some sentences and doing it rather effectively, I might add. But then again, those were the days when a novel was judged by its literary definition and not by word count, which means the choice of an adverb over a long drawn out boring description was actually more concise. Yes, an adverb can actually make a sentence tighter without losing its poetry. Go figure.

I think the adverb began its dark descent from literary grace when the American style of writing began to define itself with the minimalist prose of Hemmingway and others of that sort. Short and direct sentences became the standard, and flowery poetic prose was labelled pretentious and even novice. Adams and more recently Rowling are laughing at that I imagine, laughing hysterically all the way to the bank.

Now, I am not advocating that we get all willy nilly with our adverbs; overuse of anything can compromise a good story, as can endless yards of overdone description as well. Spare me the tedium of six-hundred pages, use some adverbs for crying out loud and get rid of a few hundred coma inducing paragraphs, please. Anything unnecessary should be cut, but we should cut for good reason. Adverbs are our friend, especially in the shorter forms of fiction. They are a valuable part of our living language. So if you love your adverbs as much as I do, as did many other classic and timeless authors, then listen to your own voice and choose your own style.

I would love to hear from some fellow adverb lovers—and haters—comment here with one of the adverb laden sentences you love or hate so much from one of your favourite books. I will pick a winning entry by the end of the month and send that person a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Let’s stand united for the adverb, those deliciously enticing adverbs.

Cheryl Anne Gardner is a retired writer of dark, often disturbing, literary novellas with romantic/erotic undertones. She is an avid reader and an independent reviewer with Podpeople blogspot and Amazon where sheblogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocatefor 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, September 02, 2008

Winner: Book Giveaway -- Clean by Ken Sweet

I was really shocked by the number of responses we received considering it was a holiday weekend. Not to mention that we weren't really sure how the whole thing was going to go over. So pleasantly shocked is more how we feel here at the podpeep.

Thanks also to Breenie Books and any other bloggers that might have passed the word along.

So without further ado: The Winner is SweetSu

Please send an email to the peeps at podpeep at gmail dot com with your snail mail address and I will send the book out right away.

The next giveaway will be Friday September 26th, more details to come on that later in the month.

Cheryl Anne Gardner