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.