Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Free Book Friday ... On Thursday!

I know it's Thursday, but I am on vacation this week getting ready for Halloween, so I thought I would give everyone an extra day to enter as I have a limited edition signed copy of this book to give away.

This months free book is:

Title: Blood Suckers Must Die
Author: Brett Williams
Genre: Dark Comedy/Vampires/Spoof
Publisher: Zoe books
Price: $7.99
Pages: 116

Description: With a new job, Rob Walker finds himself at the the heart of another prank by his practical joker co-workers. Or is he?

Veronica Nubar, teen hottie, has been missing for a week. The entire school is abuzz with rumors. But now she’s resurfaced-with a group of goths. It’s up to Rob and a band of convenience store clerks to figure out what is going on. Will Rob find himself the butt of an elaborate hoax, or wind up in the middle of supernatural danger?

Sometimes life sucks.

My review can be found here.

Enter to win this book by leaving a comment -- with a valid email address -- on this blog post by Midnight, Sunday October 31, 2010. The winner will be announced Monday November 1, 2010.

Good luck and happy haunting everyone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Page 99 -- Waiting for Spring by R.J. Keller

Page 99 from Waiting for Spring Amazon:
A novel
By R.J. Keller
Reprinted with permission. © 2008 R.J. Keller, all rights reserved.

Book Description: A recently divorced woman trudges out of one small, Maine town and into an even smaller one, hoping to escape her pain. Instead she finds herself surrounded by people who are trudging on, just like her. Waiting for things to get better. Waiting for spring.

Waiting For Spring takes readers beyond the lighthouses and rocky beaches tourists visit and drops them instead into a rural Maine town that is filled with displaced factory workers who struggle with poverty and loss, yet push onward with stubbornness and humor.

I listened to his footsteps thudding toward the bathroom
while I stared at a tiny crack in the ceiling. His room was directly
below mine. And I wondered, for the first time, how my own
footsteps had sounded to him from down here. If he had ever lain
awake, right here, right in this bed, listening to me.

He sauntered back into the room and plopped down beside me
on his back, pulled me over to him. I rested my head on his
shoulder, played with the hair on his chest while he caressed my
back lightly with his fingers. It was the best feeling in the world.
But there was a can of worms I had to open. The one I hadn’t
thought about until I’d heard Crinkling above my head. I watched
the clock on his night stand, trying to build up my courage. It
glared back at me in bold red numbers for seven full minutes.
Both of us were silent the entire time. Finally I managed an,

He waited for me to continue and when I didn’t he asked, “Are
you humming to yourself or are you trying to tell me something?”

I laughed, and it made me brave enough to tell him about my
prescription. Then I asked him That question. He smiled and said:
“Yeah, I have been. And I’m clean. I’ve never done it without a
rubber anyway.”

I smiled back, relieved. Then there was something else.


It had been so long since there was something new. Even if it
wasn’t my something new. So I climbed on top of him and kissed
him, deep and hot and slow…

Ready again. Twenty-five. Gotta love that.


If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review -- Deuces Are Wild

Title: Deuces Are Wild
Author: Jan Bornstein
Genre: Rock and Roll Fiction
Publisher: Black Channel Press
Price: $13.95
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1934582091
Point of Sale: Amazon
Guest Reviewed by: Susan Helene Gottfried

Notation: Review retracted per the Author's request via their publicist.

Cover Description: It all began with Beyond Beautiful. Two giants of rock 'n roll, Jenna Bradford and Scott Tenny, find love in spite of that world's chaos and the emotional baggage each one of them brings to this sizzling relationship. Sweet Emotions, the second book of the Song Trilogy, rejoins Jenna and Scott as their lives take off in new directions as they work to forge a solid life for themselves and the child of their dreams from bitter and difficult truths they are still learning about each other. Deuces are Wild, the much anticipated conclusion to the Song Trilogy, follows Jenna and Scott in a journey back to one another after a heart wrenching separation. Betrayal, blackmail, kidnapping, even murder, dog these two-of-a-kind music icons as they fight for their lives and their love.
The Podpeople regret that this review has been retracted per the author's request via an email we received from their publicist:

From: Skye Wentworth
Date: Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 9:09 AM
Subject: Deuces are Wild
Hi Susan,

Kindly remove the review of Deuces are Wild, Book III of the Song Trilogy, by Jan Bornstein from the POD People website., October 25. The author does not like the review.
Skye Wentworth, Book Publicist

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Literary Writers Conference

Co-sponsored by the new school graduate writing program, LWC}NYC is a program of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses [clmp], in partnership with Sobel Weber Associates, The National Book Foundation, Sterling Lord Literistic, and Poets & Writers.

NOVEMBER 12-13, 2010 LWC}NYC is a two-day conference for fiction, poetry, and creative-nonfiction writers learning how to maneuver in the marketplace. Meet writers, editors, agents, publicists and publishers from Publishers Weekly, Oxford University Press, Scribner, Hachette Book Group, Graywolf, the Poetry Society of America, Bloomsbury, Knopf, the Academy of American Poets and more.

For registration information see here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts on The Flyleaf -- c.anne.gardner

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
-- Francis Bacon

Don't know what a Flyleaf is? Well, you should, and today we'll be taking one of those nice tasty printed books and chewing a little bit off around the edges. Don't worry; most good books are fat free. Anyway, the flyleaf is the blank leaf or leaves following the front free endpaper of a book [or the cover in the case of a paperback book], and most new Indie authors have no idea what it is or how to use it. It comes before any of the front matter.

It's a nifty little page when you stop to think about it and has so many uses. Some publishers use it for blurbs, some for the publisher colophon -- the page is left blank on the back with only the publisher logotype on the front. Sometimes it's used to list other works by the author like an advertisement, and sometimes it's used for a short author biography. When a book is in Beta, the flyleaf is often used to indicate that the book is an unedited ARC and not for resale. Other times it's left blank front and back to serve as a signature page so that the author does not have to sign on any of the interior printed pages, and on occasion it is left out entirely, the publisher having opted to use a soft-title page or even the main title page as the first page in the book. A soft title page contains only the title on one side and the copyright information on the other. A full title page lists the title, the author, and the publishing house along with their logotype.

Trying to decide what sort of front matter and back matter to include in a book is not an easy choice, and it varies depending on whether or not you are writing fiction or non-fiction. See my article here on the making of a book.

I use a flyleaf, a soft title page, and a full title page because I like the layout better, and I give away a lot of books. I find a blank flyleaf works much better for lengthy signatures and notes. But you have to decide for yourself, and the best advice I can give you is to head out to your local bookstore, find the genre you write in, and take a look at the front matter and back matter in about twenty or thirty books to get a feel for what you like. Certain items have a preferred order, and I have listed that order in my article. One of the websites I highly recommend for design advice is Joel Friedlander's site: The Book Designer. Joel has spent a long time in the industry and has a lot of content on his website that any new Indie author will find most helpful.

So now you know what a flyleaf is, so when you see one in a book, blank or not, you will know it's not a mistake.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Performance Anxiety....

I first started thinking about self-publishing in 1999. I think it would be fair to say I didn't rush into it.  I made the first post on this blog in 2006.  Last year I made my first foray into self-publishing per se, an ebook available only via my website as a free pdf.

Now I am on the verge of my first foray into fee-charging self-published fiction.  'Collected Veinglory' is an anthology of short stories, mostly reprints.  I have the cover art and the stories copy-edited and returned.  The track changes are, as yet, unexamined.

I feel a strange reluctance to go through and make the final edits.  After all these years lurking at the margins, here I go.  I know I will make the usual newbie mistakes.  I am sure there will be typos I missed, formatting problems, delays and frustrations.

It is exciting but also a little daunting, like any new endeavor but there comes a point where research and preparation turn into procrastination and prevarication.  Any advice out there for a long time listener, first time publisher, about to make the leap?

A Call Out to All Indie Authors


I wanted to give you the head's up that the folks at IndieReader are compiling a book of essays (800-1000 words) by indie writers entitled, "The Care & Feeding of Indie Authors: Writing, Sex and Ramen Noodles".

Our motivation in compiling this book is to give indie writers a place to share their stories and to let them know that there is no one way to be a working writer.

We'd love it if you could share the info with your readers. If you (or they) are interested in contributing, they can reach out to me at the email below for the list of topics.

We'll be accepting submissions through November 31st and will publish the best 35-40 essays in a book early next year. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to a literary-related charity.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Page 99 -- The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility by Brent Robison

Page 99 of The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility
A Short Story Collection
by Brent Robison
Reprinted with Permission: © 2009 Brent Robison, All Rights Reserved.

Book Description: The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility weaves together the disparate lives of ordinary people as they stumble through tiny everyday epiphanies on their way from confusion and loss toward redemption. With structures both traditional and experimental, these thirteen linked stories explore the bonds of family... the impacts of religion... our intertwined struggles with grief, love, and addiction... the intangible circuits of influence that link us to strangers... and the blind but determined striving for consciousness that is common to human experience.

Stories in the collection have been published in a variety of journals and have won a Short Fiction Award and an Honorable Mention from Chronogram Magazine, a Fiction Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize nomination.

The time came. I locked my apartment door behind me. It was a Saturday night, just after dark, the early dark of oncoming winter. I walked the streets under the faces of old brownstones, moving fast against a cold wind. The few blocks to the mall seemed long. My neighborhood was empty, as if no one lived there. Dead leaves like hordes of little brown crabs scuttled crazily across the pavement. Gusts tore at the scarf around my throat. I strode past the trunks of old maples, past baroque iron stoop rails, under scissoring tangles of limbs, and through a pool of yellow light that leaked from the corner street lamp. I was full of exuberant energy, a man on his way to a woman!

Suddenly a shadow, a dark shape, leaped with a low quick whoosh across the sidewalk in front of me and up, straight up, as though from under the soles of my boots. It grew huge, wailing a minor-key vibrato as it flung its ragged black edges out and out like wings, until my own shadow was completely obliterated. I flinched and ducked, blurting some wordless cry. Giant bat, evil bird of prey, dark angel, blasting up from underground to hover over my head, and then, with talons open, to plunge? What was it? I looked back and up, behind me. There it hung, twenty feet above my head, flapping and fluttering madly—a ragged shred of dark plastic, a trash bag battered in the wind, tossed up like a leaf to tangle in the electric wires just under the street light.

It was only a trash bag.

Tell me, would you have been as blind as I was? Was a message there somewhere in the whip of the wind, in the soulless thrashing of that gigantic shadow? Should I have seen what was to come: the coy wink when she forgot my name, the bitten lip, the bedroom conversation like wandering lost in a dark wood, the sudden sweet tears, and later, the rage? Did I ignore a clear warning? How could I have known? How?

Feeling small, I squinted up at the thing. Just an old scrap of plastic, I said to myself. A piece of windblown refuse, nothing more.

I put on a sheepish smile and looked around, but the street was empty. I took a breath. With my heart still thudding in my chest, I turned and continued on my way, on my way to Moira. I leaned into the wicked gusts, walking quickly, hunched and shivering under the black November sky.

Brent Robison is a writer, photographer, and videomaker. Author of The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility, he can be found online at: &

The collection of linked stories, The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility, can be found on Lulu and Smashwords.

If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The New Wordsmiths

The New Wordsmiths is a new editorial service run by people from the Iowa Writing Workshop – pretty much the best brand name for writing schools. What separates the Wordsmiths from some other editorial services is the credentials of the staff.

I read this over on Self-Publishing and then I went over to the Wordsmiths' site to check out the fees for their editorial services, which are as follows if you are looking for just some basic editing:


WordSmiths also offers editing services. We offer copyediting for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and/or a complete editorial line edit of the project. Line editing is time and talent intensive. But it is appropriate when the author feels he or she needs help in language issues before they can work with the higher order issues in the text. Copyediting: $6 to $9 per page. Line editing: $10 to $20 per page.

They also have an affiliate program with Indie Reader, but I will let Henry Baum explain all that since he has quite an extensive interview with The New Wordsmiths' Book Editor Kurt Gutjahr over on the SPR site. Read the full article here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Indie Congrats Go Out To:

Congratulations are in order today for a few of our favorite Indie Authors. Most of you have heard of Amazon Encore, which is Amazon's traditional publishing arm. Our news alert today features a few of those authors whose Indie books have been selected for traditional publication by Amazon among others. Most of the books profiled here have been reviewed on this very blog. I guess we here at the PodPeople have good taste, and we know a good book when we read one, so without further ado…

R. J. Keller’s Waiting for Spring, acquired by Amazon Encore. Read about it here, and here.

Kristen Tsetsi’s Homefront and How Not to Have Children, acquired by a small publisher yet to be named. Read about it here.

Craig Lancaster’s 600 Hours of Edward was re-released by Riverbend Publishing, and his new book The Summer Son was acquired by Amazon Encore. Read about it here.

Our own Chris Gerrib recently had his new Sci-Fi novel Pirates of Mars [working title] picked up by Hadley Rille Books. Read about it here.

Elisa Lorello recently had two books acquired by Amazon Encore: Faking it and Ordinary World. Read about it here.

We here at the PodPeople would like to extend a big Indie Congrats to these authors. We hope to see many more announcements like these, especially for those Indies seeking traditional publication. Good Luck to all of you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

And Now Borders Gets in the Game ...

From the press release:

Borders® today announced that it has teamed with BookBrewer to launch BORDERS – GET PUBLISHED™ Powered by BookBrewer. The co-branded publishing service empowers independent authors to publish and sell eBooks through the Borders eBook store, powered by Kobo, as well as other eBook retailers. BORDERS – GET PUBLISHED™ Powered by BookBrewer makes it seamless for any writer or blogger to format, display and sell their content across a number of technology platforms including a variety of tablets and eReading devices. The service will be available at beginning Oct. 25. …

BORDERS – GET PUBLISHED™ Powered by BookBrewer gives authors a choice of two publishing packages: the $89.99 basic package and the $199.99 advanced publishing package. Under the basic package, BookBrewer will assign the book an ISBN (a $125 value), and will make it available to all major eBook stores at a price set by the writer. Royalties will be based on sales and will vary with each retailer. Authors who choose the advanced package will receive a full version of their ePub file, which they will own and may share with friends, family or submit on their own to eBook stores.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Podpeople Invite You to the Goodreads Indie Page 99 Group

Ford Madox Ford said, "Open a book to page ninety-nine, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you."

As many of you know, we are all about the Indie book community, not in a fluffy bunny sort of way, but in an honest advocacy sort of way, and we are always looking for new reviewers and new content. We have recently started up our My Story column again, and we have also begun a new promotional column which follows the theme of the Page99 Book Test in light of the startup of

Those who know me and read my regular column know I agree with Ford Madox Ford. I have never been a first page "hook" person. The real writing is in the middle of a book. I've always believed that, so in the coming weeks The Podpeople will be featuring the page 99 of submitted Indie titles. We hope to make this a regular thing, and we ask our readers and Indie author supporters to spread the word. As a secondary part of this project, The Podpeople are now sponsoring a group over on Goodreads where independent authors of all kinds can post their page 99s for the Goodreads reader community. Details and Rules for posting can be found on the group homepage and are the same for submitting here to the blog:

Please add your book to the shelf, include a purchase link for the book and the following information in the body of the post:
Copyright Notice: Date, Copyright holder's name, and rights reserved.
Please provide the cover copy from the back of the book as well, or the book description if it's ebook only and a good quality jpeg of the cover if you want it posted on the blog. The books must be for sale, include a link to your preferred sales site or sites. All Genres are welcome. No erotica. We would like to keep this a rated G/PG-13/R group. Use your discrection, please.

I will be cross-posting all books submitted to The Podpeople Blog. Self-published authors and Indie Press authors may post their page 99s directly to the group, but the only way this will work and attract readers is if the contributors spread the word. Goodreads is only as good as its community. The purpose of the group is to expose readers to a wide variety of Indie books -- without charging anyone anything -- and the best way to do that is a preview. The Podpeople are not endorsing the books posted to the group nor will we be posting recommendations. This group is all about letting the writing stand on its own. It's for the reading community. Readers may comment freely, and we hope they do. I didn't want this to be another one of those critique sites where Indie authors just comment on each other's work. I wanted it to be very reader centric, as it should be, so the work must be for sale in some format or another.

If you want your page 99 featured here on the blog *and* posted to the Goodreads group, send us an email containing the above information to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not comprise a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. If your book is a novella and does not have a page 99, you may use page 69. One page only, and again No Erotica please. I will be able to post erotica on the blog but not to the Goodreads group for obvious reasons. Use your discretion when submitting work to the Goodreads group. Rated R is the limit, and I will be moderating.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Review: The Seventh Compass Point of Death

Title: The Seventh Compass Point of Death (A Quinn McShane Story)
Author: Richard Sanders
Genre: thriller
Price: $14.95 (paperback) $1.99 (Kindle)
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1453615515
Point of Sale: paperback, Kindle
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Richard Sanders, the author of The Seventh Compass Point of Death, worked at Entertainment Weekly and People magazine, or so says his author biography, entitled “Who The Hell Wrote This?” Also according to that bio, he spent time in jail, rehab and a psych ward. Knowing Sanders’ entertainment and personal background goes a long way towards explaining his writing style.

You see, Seventh Compass Point is very cinematic, and reads like a novelization of a hard-boiled film noir. This includes the occasionally wry narrative commentary that in a movie would be done via a voice-over. In a book, that voice-over can be a bit distracting, until you get used to it. Also a bit distracting is that the 250+ page book only has five chapters, used as acts in a movie, and a number of separately-titled scenes.

Although the book stylistically is film noir, the topic is extremely modern. The book opens with the story of a pair of bank robbers. Their robbery goes bad, and one of the robbers ends up carjacking “some raghead Pakastani or something.” Alas, when the robber gets caught, the police discover that the Pakistani was driving around with a dead body in the trunk.

Quinn McShane, ex-private detective and now journalist, gets called in because the police are questioning an Iranian-American that Quinn had done a story on. Quinn, we learn, has a past of his own, involving (surprise!) drugs and jail. The “good guy with a bad past” is of course classic noir. Also a part of being classic film noir, double-crosses and hard-boiled action fill this book, all set in a gritty modern New York. Nobody is entirely innocent or entirely what they seem.

Although clearly influenced by movies, Seventh Compass Point is a damn good book, and well worth the read. It would also make a good movie, were it to come to that – a movie that I for one would be glad to go see. If you’re looking for a modern-day action thriller, I highly recommend The Seventh Compass Point of Death.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And What a Nice Anniversary Present...

I would like to give a jumping up and down thank you to all the readers out there who decided to take a shot on my Lit fic paranormal novella Logos. As of this moment, it's atop the Best Seller list in Literary Fiction over on Smashwords. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who helped it get there. I hope you enjoy the book.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Happy Anniversary To Me -- Cheryl Anne Gardner

Yup, as of Monday, this is my third year officially one of The Pod People. My very first post went live October 11, 2007, and I can say, it's been a lot of work; I've had a lot of ups and downs, and I have reviewed lot of Indie books. Getting involved in the community was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have met a lot of really wonderful and professional people: writers, editors, book designers, critics, and a whole lot of enthusiastic readers. I hope to keep it up for another three years. There sure isn't a shortage of Indie books, so it's all stamina permitting. Right now my review queue is running 16-18 weeks out, so I have to be very selective, though I do personally read every query before passing them along to the team. And speaking of the "team" I should thank Emily and Chris for letting me have free run like a rabid chicken, but that's how it seems things get done in blog-land.

And now a public service announcement. I swiped one of Emily's older cartoons and post because I just loved it and couldn't say it better myself:

Join the POD People!

Remember, the POD People want you! We are always interested in hearing from potential vic... um, I mean volunteers. We are always in need of reviewers. You may choose you own books and review as many or as few as you like. We would love to hear from people who have news and views to share on the blog. Edited to add: We are always looking for reader content: Op Eds, Guest Reviews, My Story Features, Indie Page 99s, and anything else related to Self-Publishing you can think of, so get in touch with us at [podpeep at gmail dot com].

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Bloodsuckers Must Die

Title: Blood Suckers Must Die
Author: Brett Williams
Genre: Dark Comedy/Vampires/Spoof
Publisher: Zoe books
Price: $7.99
Pages: 116
Point of Sale: LULU
Reviewed by: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Rob loves his new job at the convenience store, until the local high school "It" girl walks in one night on the arm of a handsome goth stranger. According to her friends, and school officials, she has been missing for two weeks, and Rob's co-worker Nathan knows exactly why.

I wanted to read something light and fun. Halloween is just a bat fart away, and this time of year I need to get a little less serious about my reading material from time to time. Captain Spalding and I got this thing we do for the month of October, which includes a month of horror flicks -- good and bad -- a night of Rocky Horror, and a lot of genre reading by candlelight, and this book was just a fun little romp to start off the season for me ... well, if you like this sort of thing. That being horror comedy spoofs. Yes, this is a little bit Clerks, a little bit Lost Boys, a smattering of The Forsaken, and a whole lot campy like Jennifer's Body.

Rob thinks his new co-workers are just playing another initiation prank on him, and he couldn't be more wrong. These clerks are vampire hunters, and when a vamp comes to town, especially a handsome vamp, and starts sucking on the high school’s hottest chics, well, the Bloodsuckers must die. No two ways about it. By the time the mayhem ensues, you are already half way through the book.

Now this isn't really a novella in the traditional sense of the word even if it is novella length, but that doesn't really matter much here. It's meant to be camp with a capital C, so, and it very deliberately pokes fun at Twilight and Vampire Romance in general by sticking to the tried and true monster mythology. As for the writing, it's pretty clean though mainstream in it's styling. There were some glaring editorial issues that hit me like a wooden spike in the eye, but nothing a decent proof reader couldn't clean up. As for the story, I liked it. It was a fun fast read, and since Clerks and the Lost Boys are two of my favourite movies, I "got" all the references, and that just made it even more enjoyable. So if you are sick to death of sparkly romantic vampires and you just want to read an old fashioned vampire tale where a couple of angsty young convenience store clerks call each other pussies and dude, swill light beer, and chase the ghoulies with pointy sticks while lamenting that the mesmerized naked chic writhing around on the bed isn't into them, then this should be right up your dark alley. As luck would have it, or maybe it's some kind of witchy black magic, I have a limited edition signed copy of the book to give away for Halloween, so stay tuned in for this month's free book Friday on October 29th. Candy just rots your teeth, so why not win a book instead.


This book was reviewed from a promotional copy provided by the author.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shoes for Bush, Books for Obama.

My advice to the author who allegedly threw his book at Obama*: throw it cover side up.  Even bad publicity is no publicity if people don't know your name or the title of the book....

* For the record, the POD People do not endorse lobbing books at American presidents as a form of marketing.  We suspect it is probably highly illegal.

My Story -- Richard Buzzell

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

I chose to self-publish so as to keep control of my writing. I'm not doing a conventional style or material, and I didn't want anyone advising me to change it to make it more marketable.

I expected a rough go of it, but I thought I could slowly but steadily win some readers.

Why did you select your specific publisher?

I went with Amazon Kindle and Smashwords because of the elegance of the e-book publishing process. It is far more efficient and economical than hardcopy publishing and it makes books available to readers at a much lower cost. I think the low cost of e-books removes one of the obstacles to trying new writers.

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

So far it's not going that well. I don't fit into any of the existing market niches, and that is proving to be a big problem.

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

Don't do it unless you enjoy pounding your head against the wall.

Richard Buzzell is the author of Zombiestop Parade, which has nothing to do with zombies. It’s about a couple of renegade punks who conduct an online campaign of ridicule against the cash-grab mentality, and get themselves into some trouble.

The story is set against a backdrop of millennial-generation alienation. Students who grew up dreaming of stock options, now look forward to a future of working for paltry wages, if they’re fortunate enough to find a job at all. The struggle of the characters to deal legitimately with this inter-generational social conflict is the heart of the story.


ZombieStopperUno is a big fat trouble-maker. He always has been, and barring a successful intervention to get him to submit to the counseling he needs, he always will be. Despite being well-aware of his disputatious tendencies, he makes no attempt to reform himself. He is a product of society’s ill-advised policy of abandoning corporeal punishment for “high-spirited” children. His case is a classic example of the hazards of tolerating non-conformant youth. He should be ignored by all right-thinking adults. If you choose to give him the attention he so desperately craves, you need to understand that you are contributing to the problem, and that makes you a trouble-maker as well.



If you would like to participate in the My Story Column, please send your responses to the questions above to podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line of My Story. Please include a short bio, a link to your website and/or blog, and a link to whatever book you happen to be promoting at the moment along with a good quality cover jpeg. You may be as brief or as long-winded as you like.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thoughts on The Craft -- c.anne.gardner

Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster, or is this what it means to be a person? -- Clarice Lispecter

I think writers ask themselves this question often, especially if their stories tend to lean towards the macabre. Unsavoury characters, uncomfortable situations, resolute dénouements, yes, I am sure a lot of writers ponder this question from time to time ... or more importantly, they ask themselves if the monster they have unleashed on paper has enough humanity, which is a ridiculous question when you really stop to think about it: Being human, we are all Gods and Monsters. My shadow and I have had lengthy discussions on this subject, not to assuage a fear or anything like that -- I think I was a Goth at birth, though they didn’t call it that back then -- but to fuel my fascination with monsters of all kinds, more specifically the ID and the Ego, and my characters just refrain from suppressing the monster within.

This week it just worked out conveniently that I could tie this all into my latest book release and indulge in some shameless self-promotion, but here is the kick, it won't cost you a thing. So, speaking of monsters -- you knew there would be some sort of segue with Halloween coming and all that -- how would you like to meet one of the Four Horsemen? Part historical fiction, part paranormal, part mythology, add in a whole lot of killing, some social commentary, a smattering of poetry, and a dash of romance -- that is if you don't mind lovers who tend to stab each other to death -- and you have the memoir of a two-thousand year old killer, or cosmic executioner as she likes to call herself. Why not meet Selena. I promise, she won't hurt you -- much.

From now until Halloween you can download Logos free on Smashwords using coupon code: VT83C. Mobi for Kindle, ePub, and straight text PDF files are available. Feedback and reviews are welcome, of course. After all, we talk shop here, and Selena isn't all that bad, really ...

Excerpt from Logos, Chapter 8: Pale Horse, Pale Rider. Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved Cheryl Anne Gardner © 2006

Elise, the young sweet thing. “The apple of my eye,” her mother would say to her while foisting a condescending opinion at her down the length of a rigid bony finger, and Elise would ingratiate herself, if only for the moment. Rebellion just felt natural, like a prerequisite to adulthood, so being labeled a little wild child of the X-generation didn’t seem such a cliché after all. She could tolerate the finger pointing: there were no real consequences, so what did it matter?

To the outside world, even those closest to her, she was cheerful, well adjusted, and exuded a genuine love of life. “A shiny new penny” people often said of her. However, underneath that vivacious and affable exterior — the bouncy red hair, the apricot sheen of her lips, and the quiet blue of her eyes — the twenty–one year old grappled with a hopelessness utterly beyond her control. She was not of a strong mind. She was, in fact, incredibly weak when it came to the opinions of others, more importantly, their opinions and perceptions of her. Could she ever be perfect enough? Popular enough? Smart enough? Pretty enough? As if any of it mattered. But it did. What she adamantly claimed didn’t matter was actually everything she needed. There is something to be said for one’s own perception, how it can be so easily manipulated and distorted, but I was tired of walking and tired of pondering the existential conundrums of the dysfunctional. I just wanted a drink.

The bar was rank with the intermingled stench of sweat and liquor, as the seedier establishments always are. It had an Americanized dive feel to the place, dark and dirty, and the music box thrummed with the latest annoying pop song of the day. Elise was hard not to notice, and so I sat there sipping my whiskey slowly as I watched her undulating, oozing sex onto the dance floor — inhibitions thrown to the wind. To look at her, she didn’t appear all that different from other party-girls of her age. The bar was packed with them: flirting, giggling, twirling their hair and batting their eyelashes, all the while trying to act mature and seductive, blissfully unaware of their inner feminism and just how dangerous it was to be flinging it about so carelessly like their lit cigarette ashes. I knew how dangerous it was. I waived for the barmaid to bring me another drink, or rather, the bottle. She smiled a tired slovenly old smile, nodded towards me, blew a sweat-soaked ringlet of hair from her forehead, and then headed off to the bar to fetch my drink. As my eyes moved over the room, their intended destination indeterminate, that’s when I noticed that He was watching Elise as well, his skin clammy and sour with anticipation, his upper lip trembling almost imperceptibly as he ran his tongue over the lower. His sweat smelled of hot gun-metal in the rain; it smelled of hunger.

I closed my eyes and breathed it in as a blast of heat hit me in the face. I felt flames in my hair, tasted smoke in the back of my throat, and my thoughts turned to the future as my fingers went numb and the terrible violations that he had planned for her suddenly burned into my eyes. Yes, he would use his cunning charms to lure her so innocently into the cellar of his home. He was too handsome: his smile too white, his tie too expensive, and his manner too perfect. “Your skin is soft like a rose petal,” he would say as he kissed the words into the nape of her neck, and she would blush with conceit. He had nice things: art, fine furniture, good wine. He would offer her a drink, and she wouldn’t see it coming, the blow to the head too quick, too sharp. She would slip to the floor, and he would sink to his knees praising his salvation: that white white smile now too wide, too sadistic. He might admire her for a while, a little snip at her clothes here and there with a pair of sharp scissors, but she wouldn’t wake. Couldn’t wake, and it wouldn’t matter. Warm, cold, he didn’t care. The post would hold her up. The splintered, nail-riddled wooden post in the center of the room. A structural support, he called it. The post would hold her up, the rope would hold her still while he touched all the soft places, touched them and then cut them. He would cut her slowly, taking his time to savor each stroke, to marvel at each piece of flesh that fell from her bones, and then when he had had enough playing with her blood, when it had gone cold and began to dry on his skin, he would shoot her twice in the face before cooking and eating her. Bits of seared flesh stuck between his teeth as he smiled that wide, white smile.

I thought I would vomit, and then I did. I doubled over in my seat while my stomach promptly returned the whiskey I had just drunk to the table. I could taste blood in it.

I wanted to kill him myself, but that was not for my kind. He did not beg for death, and so I could not answer. His desire was beyond my sphere of influence. His punishment was not mine to give. He would be winged to his rest soon enough though. I could at least take comfort in that. He turned and looked straight at me as if I had stripped the veneer from his soul. I poured myself another shot from the bottle that had been deposited at my table, and then I raised the glass in the air towards him and smiled. “Until then,” I said to myself, “May the demons whisper nursery rhymes to you, good sir.” He looked at the floor, looked around the room, a cursory glance here and a nervous nippy one there. He looked confused, and then he looked back to me, and I just continued to smile at him. His discomfort was amusing, but it was of no consequence. I did have my duty to uphold. He would not get to indulge his depraved urges … not that night. He wanted a clean one, but he would have to settle for a moll instead because I slit Elise’s throat myself — quick and painless.

The how never seemed to matter as much as the why. The venue mattered even less than that. For me, every urine soaked rat’s nest, every distressed doorway silhouetted in the gloom, and every crimson-stained cobblestone looked the same to me, but I can remember the moon on that night. I remember how it mocked the shadows and set the rain-battered pavement of the alley to a starlit shimmer, how it appeared to be in awe at the cold calculated mastery with which I performed my grim endeavor. How, for a moment, it seemed to cast a vicarious smile of approval down upon me, and that was enough for me.

I knelt over her then, steadying myself with one hand on the hilt of my sword and the other pressed against the sooty ooze coating the wet brick wall beside me. As her blood ran down the blade and sank into the earth, she set a terrified gaze directly into my eyes, but it wasn’t the terror that comes with regret, it was the terror that comes with finality, the terror that comes with the realization that all of your perceptions were lies. That you were wrong and it was too late to admit it. As I wrenched her pitiful soul from its fleshy prison, she understood. In that moment, the final stone cast, the bargain struck, she understood with total clarity the gravity of the gift, which I had, with pleasure, bestowed upon her. For even though on this night she had barely escaped the demon’s grasp, her reckless, dark desires fuelled by the self-loathing would have eventually betrayed her into the arms of another. Of that, the moon and I had no doubt. If the demon wanted her now, he would have to come back and pick at her carcass. I left her there and returned to the shadows from whence I came and where I belonged.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Art this week is The Crucifixion and Last Judgement by Jan van Eyck circa 1430. Yes, a detail of the Judgement portion of the diptych graces the cover of Logos.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Page 99 -- Love and Grace by Eric Hammel

Page 99 from Love and Grace
A novel
By Eric Hammel
Reprinted with permission. © 2010 Eric Hammel, all rights reserved.

Book Description: It’s 1984, and Marty Weiler is back in town for his twentieth high school class reunion. Happily married to the brilliant and beautiful Sonia, Marty finds himself trapped in a profound midlife crisis brought on by one more near-death experience than he can handle. He impulsively gets into the spirit of “going home” for a week by calling his high school sweetheart for the first time since she broke up with him in 1965. As Marty prepares to meet the alluring Glenda for lunch, he ruminates on their history together, beginning with their first encounter at summer camp in 1961. As things turn out, Marty’s full-body contact with his past leads him to a clear understanding of where and how life has led him by the nose and what he must do to live the remainder of his days with love and grace.

just laying around and staving off boredom by overeating. As the leg surgery
drew closer, I felt like I was going to explode. I was put on a diet as
soon as the new leg cast was on. The doctor in charge of that part of my
recovery didn’t care as much about the unbelievable discomfort as he did
about good blood flow. (“We’d hate to do all this work just to have you go
necrotic on us.” Here’s a word to look up while you’re trapped in a body
cast: “necrosis.” Use a medical dictionary; it’s ever so much more detailed.)

Also, after many X-rays and consultations leading up to the leg surgery,
they decided it was safe to free my good right leg, which had been
swathed in a cast to help immobilize my spinal injury, because it turned out
to be “only” the blown disc. If I had even had a cracked lumbar vertebra, it
had healed without complication. In the end, I had my left arm in a cast
over the elbow and my left leg in a full cast that extended around my hips,
and was held in traction.

They told me things would be looking up. So, let’s see what my diary
has to say: “We’re seven weeks and counting. New cast on my left arm
following minor surgery, new cast on my left leg following major surgery,
possible additional surgery to remove the blown disc and maybe fuse my
spine. Still trapped in bed with my leg in traction. Still crapping into a
bedpan (try that with your leg swinging from ropes). Peeing into a gizmo
that looks and acts like a rubber but has a long tube attached to a container
on the floor. I’m on a putrid low-calorie diet. Help!"

Oh, yeah, life was sooooo much better now.

But wait! There’s more.

Because of my status as research specimen in a teaching hospital, I was
awakened around the clock by waves of med students, interns, and residents.
Poked and prodded incessantly, asked the same questions over and
over. It got to the point at which I responded to any sudden awakening by
automatically reciting the litany of medical terms the doctors mumbled to
one another. I even incorporated the most-used sound in the medical lexicon

—"Hmmm"—in all the appropriate places.

Heaven was being taught to pee into a metal urinal. Freehand.
Once both right appendages were more or less free from the casts and
my left arm was a little free, I took to operating my own pulleys when I felt
the need to move around a little, especially to get pressure off that blown
disc. This self-help modality (Hmmm) earned some rebukes from the nurses

Eric Hammel is the author of forty critically acclaimed non-fiction military history books and scores of articles. Love and Grace is his first novel.

If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Indie Author and Advocate: JC Phelps

I met JC over on Facebook at the Breakout Books Page. JC is an Indie author, with several books under belt, and she has begun profiling other Indie authors and featuring all manner of book promotions on her site, as well.

As JC says on her blog: A good way for an author to help themselves is to help others.

I couldn't agree more. Part of the reason I joined The Pod People was to get less hyper-focused on my own writing. Giving something back to the Indie community, be that praise for the many excellent Indie books I have read, an inspirational rant or two about art and what that means to me, or just some honest to goodness free editorial advice seemed like the right thing to do -- felt like the right thing to do. It allows me the opportunity to give my own writerly ego a break. My words aren't the only words out there.

So if you would like JC to feature your book follow these instructions:

1. Comment somewhere on the JC Phelps blog that you'd like to be featured there.
2. Follow the blog.
3. Send her the information for your book via: authorjcphelps at yahoo dot com

What you need to include in your email.

1. Links to where your book can be found - Amazon, Smashwords, etc.
2. A cover picture of your book (jpg format).
3. Either a short synopsis or the back blurb from your book.
4. Any comments from the author you'd like to add like a contest/giveaway that you'd like to mention?
5. One review of your book, if you have one, so pick a good one.

I love following review and profile blogs simply because not everything I review here on the Pod People site comes from an official query. Many of the books I have reviewed were books I stumbled upon via Facebook and Goodreads groups, Indie blogs, and word of mouth by other Indie book readers. Queries really only make up a small portion of what I review here, so when I see another writer giving it up for the community, I just gotta say something about it. So follow her blog. Pick up one of her books if you read in the genre, and stop by and friend the Breakout Books page on Facebook. Pay it forward. You'll be glad you did, and you might even find a good book to read in the process.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Monday, October 04, 2010

10 Banned Books that Made a Comeback -- Tim Handorf

Posted on September 28, 2010 by Tim Handorf for Best Colleges

In honor of this year’s annual Banned Books Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 2), readers are encouraged to celebrate the significance of the First Amendment and the freedom to read. Banned Books Week sheds light on the issue of censorship and the benefits of free and open access to information. It’s also a time to acknowledge the books that have been challenged or banned from schools, public libraries and bookstores across the nation, in an attempt to censor explicit content and unpopular viewpoints from readers. Most books are challenged by parents because of sexually explicit material that they find unsuited for the age group. Although some books have been banned or restricted in the past, most books are merely challenged and remain in current library collections. There’s a litany of books that have been challenged during the last 20 years and continue to face disapproval among parents, schools and organizations who want these books pulled from the shelves. Despite repeated challenges and some restrictions, these books have made a comeback in many educational settings and libraries because of their educational, social and literary importance to society. Here are 10 banned books that made a comeback:

Thanks to Tim for offering this article as a crosspost. The site blog also offers up many book related articles including selected genre reads and profiles of some of the best book review blogs.