Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thoughts on The Craft -- cannegardner

Francis Bacon is one of my favourite artists, and even though this quote from his journal applies to painting, we as writers can glean a good deal of inspiration from its overall meaning:

“To me, they mystery of painting is how can appearance be made. I know it can be illustrated, I know it can be photographed. But how can this thing be made so that you catch the mystery of appearance within the mystery of the making? Van Gogh speaks of the need to make changes in reality, which become lies that are truer than the literal truth. This is the only possible way the painter can bring back the intensity of reality … He has to reinvent realism … to wash realism back into the nervous system by his invention … We nearly always live through screens—a screened existence. And sometimes I think, when people say my work looks violent, that perhaps I have from time to time been able to clear away one or two of those veils or screens.”

Viktor Shlovsky comments further on this technique when he asserted that: “The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important. The essential purpose of art is to overcome the deadening effects of habit by representing familiar things in unfamiliar ways. Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things."

I agree. I agreed then when I originally posted this quote, and after two years, I thought I might like to circle back around it again. My own writing has been thought of as violent. The Kissing Room and Logos particularly so, but I don't really like the term violent. Sure in both books there is a great deal of physical brutality; I am not opposed to murder and mayhem for the sake of making a point, but physical violence is only one component of a larger idea. Our characters are meant to struggle; that's what people want to read, but not every struggle is physically violent. Not every struggle is about force and action. Much literary fiction is based on an existential struggle, which is more internal than external: more changeable, flighty, fleeting, transient, threatening and tending to fluctuate -- sharply. That is how we often portray an emotional struggle, and struggles of that lot are most engaging to a reader. Those are the struggles that hit at the core of what it is to be human -- volatile versus violent.

Subtlety is not my thing. In Kissing Room and Logos my characters tend to externalize their struggles in the form of cruelty and aggression towards others. That's what worked for those two particular stories. In Thin Wall and Antiquity, my characters tend to internalize by expressing themselves intellectually, often without shame. Sometimes my characters like to get all abusive and stabby, and other times, they tend to favor introspection. I like to dig in and really feel the psychological rage. Physical violence, or force and action, if you will, isn't always necessary to do that. But alas, that is a question of semantics and a discussion for another day because I think I am treading into the "write in scenes" territory.

So, how violent should you get in your story? Well, it depends on the story, or more precisely, it depends on the characters in the story. Should an artist get extreme or should an artist censor their work, alter their choice of imagery, symbolism, and metaphor to make a story more palatable for a wider audience? Will the story lose its truth should we leave its symbolic nature open for interpretation or non-interpretation? Is the story really telling a truth about the human condition, and should we, as artists striving for truth, endeavor to lay bare that truth which might be construed as beautiful and poetic in one person’s eyes and yet offensive in another’s? Do you need to be violent if volatile will work equally as well? Or should you strike a balance between the two?

I've asked this question before. Would Ellis' American Psycho have had the same impact had he chose volatility over violence? Bateman was quite introspective on occasion, but his addiction to externalizing his inner conflict was what made him a killer and not just a man with a mental illness. Ellis' character was capable of handling that sort of physical force, and the story just wouldn't have had the impact it did without it, in my opinion. For me, the truth is the art, and the truth an artist seeks to portray directly affects how the scenes are written and what language and depth of emotion the writer chooses to use, not to mention which boundaries can be pushed, crossed, or even obliterated. My own work primarily deals with love, romance, sex, death, and societal dogma, on the surface, but ultimately my stories are of the redemption variety -- every single one of them. We all know that sometimes redemption is a physical journey and sometimes it isn't. Laleana in Thin Wall was an academic and an introspective thinker, violence happened to her, as it did for grief stricken Merle in Kissing Room. Joliette in Antiquity was an extremely physical being, climbing mountains, digging holes in the earth. She subjected her body to the torturous forces of nature in order to seek the enlightenment she was denying herself by refusing to look inward, and in Logos, Selena is immortal. Whether someone died or not was ultimately her decision. She had taken all the abuses heaped upon her soul, and, under the guise of duty, had turned around to wield her hurt with a vengeance. She was strong enough physically and mentally from a lifetime of pain to carry the history of violence on her back. So in that story, I could get away with a whole lot more of both volatility and violence. It made her weakness for love stand out all that much more.

Ultimately, you, the author, will have to make the decision. You'll hear the old cliché: sex and violence sells, but in truth, when it's gratuitous and poorly executed, it doesn't. In the end, writing is all about making choices. You can censor yourself and your characters, but then that wouldn't really be making a choice, now would it?

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Experiments in Self-Publishing: Goblin Tales

My friend, Jim Hines, is a writer who's published seven novels via commerical publishers (mostly DAW). Three of those books were his Goblin Quest series, which is a fun-for-all-ages fantasy romp starring goblins. For various reasons, he decided to move on from that to fairy tales, starting with a re-imagining of Cinderella.

But Jim still likes his goblins. He's also a short-story writer, and he had several characters in the Goblin Quest universe who could support a short story. So, he decided to write five such short stories and release them via Lulu. Effective today, the collection Goblin Tales is available in paper and electronic versions at Lulu. If you're looking for some humorous fantasy, drop on by. I know I will.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Page 99 -- Cafe Express and Other Ramblings

Page 99 from Express Cafe and Other Ramblings
A Story Collection
By Heather Crouse
Reprinted with Permission: Copyright By Heather Crouse. All Rights Reserved.

Book Description:
This book is comprised of a collection of works about the different paths that life can take. Each work is separate, but still relates to the human condition in some manner.
Instantly, the pantry was illuminated and my gaze locked onto the figure behind the cereal box. It was only there for a split-second, but was imprinted on my memory from then on. Dark-headed and small with liquid brown eyes that begged for pity. Eyes like Alex’s…or Julian’s. Then it struck me like a madman gripping my heart. The creature undoubtedly resembled my son. But, he’s dead, I thought. It couldn’t be. Could it? "Julian?" I whispered. "Julian, is that you?"

Desperate to find the creature again, I began tearing boxes and cans of vegetables off of the shelves, still calling his name. Frantically, I searched the pantry, but the creature had somehow vanished. "Please come back!" I felt a hand on my shoulder and spun, ready to confront the creature. The light shone on Alex’s stunned features and brown eyes.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Alex was rarely upset with anyone. He was known for his calm way of handling things. The tone he used now frightened me as nothing else could. I suddenly felt that I did not know the man standing before me. Helplessly, I gestured to the door behind me, heedless of the pile of junk at my feet. "Julian," I whispered. There was fear now, the desolate kind, in Alex’s eyes as he pulled me close. "It was Julian," I told him.

"I know, baby. I miss him too." He pulled away enough to look at me. "Emily, I don’t want you to worry anymore. I promise I’ll take care of you."

I nodded, knowing I would always feel safe with him. As he led me away to bed, I couldn’t help wondering if I had truly seen my boy in the features of one of the cazadores. Is that where everyone went when they died? Was it a kind of afterlife? Did some people, instead of returning as their most favored animal, come back as merely a miniature version of themselves? I didn’t want to care about it anymore. I wanted to go back home to Minneapolis. But, I didn’t know when Alex would be ready to return. I still worried about him considerably.

I didn’t hear anything else creeping in the kitchen the rest of the night. Alex held me close, but not tight.
Heather Crouse has been writing since she was nine years old. She has always wanted to be an author and has spent most of her life trying to fulfill that dream. She recently finished writing her first romance novel. She has had two short stories published in a private university publication. Her focus is in the romance genre. She writes both contemporary and historical romance stories and novels, and also writes literary fiction.
Visit her at:

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Monday, March 28, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Friday was a Free Book Friday, and 13 people entered. Thanks to, our winner is Karla Vollkopf!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When is a Book not a Book?: a commentary on the nature of ebooks and online piracy--veinglory

An e-book is of course a story, a narrative, a novel or whatever kind of prose it is intended to be. But an e-book is a book much in the way a television is a movie or an MP3 is a CD (a CD is a cassette, or a cassette is an LP). Cellphones have become the dominant type of phone and we have become used to having to pay according to level of use of a device we own, rather than a monthly fee for a device we rent. And we have always been used to having the device locked to one provider at a time.

MP3s with their ease of trading didn’t destroy the music biz, but you can get a number one now with less one fifth of the sales (including all formats) required in the nineties—the music biz did shrink as a direct result of the increased secondary market for music in digital form and a lot of mid-list musicians either went amateur or went elsewhere. This trend is only now starting to turn around as physicals devices like iPods allow retailers (and so primary producers) to recapture much of the market just as essentially giving away—just as cell-phones allowed capture of user services in affluent countries. Digital formats, physical devices, there are almost unlimited way to use them to build an economy that provides a good compromise between the needs of the producer and the consumer.

The word book to most ears currently implies an artifact made of paper just as much as it implies a long string or words conveying meaning. The medium is, to a greater or lesser extent, the message--and the message is that the way we produce, trade and consume prose is changing. With time e-books will either change into something that is not a book, or change what a book is. An e-book currently has a chimeric nature partway between paperback and digital file and it this is integrated into a new, settled medium we are being given considerable flexibility to decide just what we want e-books to be, how we want to handle and possess them, how we want to sell, trade and present them. And that includes how secondary (second hand) markets will be involved and how good or bad their influence will be on the industry.

There are a great many competing models for e-publishing available and they all have implications for the relation between primary and secondary markets. From a self-interested professional creator and publisher’s point of view we want the secondary markets (post-sale lending, trading and resale) to have a promotional effect. That is the primary producer making more sales with the secondary market active than they would if it was absent. However for many consumers their goal is to get desirable products for the lowest possible price, where possible for free. That can lead to secondary markets causing reduced primary market sales and so fewer people being published and reduced earnings for those who are. Many people take on faith that secondary markets are either good or bad for primary producers, when actually this depends very much on how they are courted (carrot) and regulated (stick).

There are four major models currently at least partially in existence, each with a very different view of what e-books are, whether they are books, and what as a consequent books are going to become as this industry develops. These would include the models of: primary monopoly, primary privileges, paper privilege and peer to peer.

Primary Monopoly: A primary monopoly is a situation where the product is non-transferable once bought from the primary producer and may not be sold, rented or gifted to anyone else. Examples would include a dog bought from some kinds of shelter that specify the animal may be kept or returned but not passed on to another person, and computer software such as MSWord. Publishers that operate mainly under primary monopoly almost always also use elements of the other models for example in providing free copies for promotion such as to reviewers and as contest prizes.

However, in most cases there is an effort to suppress secondary markets that are seen as exploitative such as file-sharing where a book is not just transferred like the paperback you give your neighbor, but also potentially duplicated and resold. I suspect a person photocopying and reselling copies of paper-published novels, even at cost, could expect some grief about that too, so I don’t see it as a format issue per se—although the e-book format is more vulnerable to exploitation because the books are potentially immortal, infinitely reproducible and distributable to every person in the primary readership (i.e. anyone with access to the internet). Thus this secondary market is far more prone to costing sales rather than creating them. Reference is often made to the music industry which was not destroyed by file sharing, it was however reduced in scope and volume. So: In primary privilege the ebook is treated legally as a digital file, you can own it but may not transfer that ownership.

Primary Privilege: Primary privilege is where secondary markets are placed at an economic disadvantage. With paperbacks the main disadvantage is that you first have to buy from the primary market at retail. Whereas the primary market and their distributors work on a cost level. Therefore it makes no sense to buy a paperback at Borders and try to turn around and sell it at a profit. So selling second hand books is legal, but for in print books it is rarely possible to make a profit unless you pick up an essentially discarded copy at reduced price. Even in this case you are trading an inferior product which is likely to be somewhat worn. With each resale the product become more worn and unattractive. So if new copies are on sale they have a price and quality advantage that kept the secondary market limited in scope except in non-competitive areas such as out of print books. In terms of ebooks of course condition is not an issue, the e-book may not go out of print for years if at all, and to make a profit the user need only duplicate the ebook and sell it multiple times. And if they do not want to make a profit they can simple share unlimited quantities with strangers. In primary privilege the book is treated as a paperback book in the way we are familiar with. For this to work similarly for ebook, ebooks would need to be more like paperback—very hard to duplicate and subject to degradation with use and the passage of time unless careful efforts are taken. If ebooks had these qualities the secondary market would be prevented from sucking the life out of the primary market by keeping it naturally smaller in scale.

Paper privilege: Many publishers have taken the line that e-books should be provided freely and without charge. However this is in fact not giving them the status of books, but denying it to them. If a publisher sells its paperbacks but gifts its e-books as open source it in in fact saying the e-book is purely promotional material. The idea is that if the reader looks at the e-book and likes it they will go out and buy the paperback. This is presumably because their average customer cannot read a screen and enjoy it (unbook-like reading experience) or wants to have full ownership of the paperback on their shelf (unbook-like ownership experience). The only exception being that if one book is made a free ebook but the others are not, thus the idea is to make money when readers move from the free paid, to the rest of the backlist still conventionally for sale in either format.

Peer-to-peer: A great many people who support digital sharing do so in the full knowledge that it undermines primary producers. Open source software is often use for the express reason that the consumer objects to the shenanigans of Microsoft, Apple and the like. And if the e-publishing providers handle consumers poorly they could end up in the same position. However it is worth considering whether we really want to de-professionalize the e-book industry by undermining its ability to make profits. As a book reviewer of self-published books I appreciate the freshness and diversity of pee-to-peer fiction. But I far prefer that it run in parallel to professional providers of well branded, well selected, and well edited and formatted fiction. The way to have true diversity in products is to support industries based on offset, POD, ebook formats, small large and self-publishing, primary and secondary markets, for=profit and for free material, all in a functional balance. (Cue soundtrack: the circle of life),

Some time ago I mused on a blog about how it would be nice to be able to legally transfer ownership of a single unduplicated copy of an ebook between two private individuals. But the DRM that prevents copying is currently not good enough to make ebooks like books and so able to sustain high levels of this kind of transfer without overly suppressing the primary market. And it is worth remember that in the case of ebooks primary sales are often only a few hundred or thousand per title. So the author who objects to file sharing is hardly posturing on the balcony like Marie Antoinette saying the peasants should eat cake, even a score of lost sales can be significant. Likewise I can see how if ebooks degraded with use we could even have a second hand store for them and allow them to be freely resold by the own for decreasing amount as they age, and as they became rare.

And if we do not want ebooks that cannot be duplicated, or wear out as we use them, perhaps we don’t want them to be entirely like book after all. And because they are in fact not entirely like books, they cannot be traded quite in the same way. Of course the answer is not to try and beat the life out of secondary users every chance we get. One user sending a copy of your book to their granny and deleting their own copy is probably not a huge deal even when it is technically illegal. But immense file-sharing sites were people get books free so they need never pay money for them are destructive to our industry on a scale far beyond that for paperback books.

And in fact with the advent of automatic page turning book scanning, and book like e-readers with materials in their memory, I see a future not with e-books treated and regulate more like paperbacks, but paperbacks treated and regulated more like digital files. And if we keep in mind what makes a promotional; secondary market and what makes and an exploitative and destructive one, format will increasing become quite beside the point.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Book Friday!

It's that time of the month again - time for Free Book Friday!

This month's offering is Dale Cozort's science fiction novel Exchange. To win, post a comment with your contact information below, and on Monday I'll randomly pull a winner.

To read my review of Dale's book, click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughts on Various Assorted Things -- c.anne.gardner

Fires can't be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labour into pleasant tasks.
-- James A Baldwin

I've said before that self-published authors tend to have enthusiasm out the kazoo, for better or for worse. It keeps us going when the going gets rough, and it keeps us going forward onto new and interesting things when others with lesser constitutions think about giving up. Admittedly, I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to my own creative endeavours. I am easily bored when things become too process oriented. My current manuscript is suffering from just such a lack of interest in the editing process, but that sort of thing doesn't bother me at all because the boredom leads me on to other things. Hell, I didn't even get around to writing a proper Thoughts on the Craft article this week. Nothing in the Indie news arena struck my fancy enough to take time away from my busyness to make comment. I'm sure something will come up, but nothing has lately that I haven't already ranted on a trillion times before.

At the moment, I am currently weathering a family crisis, so that has got me off my mark considerably where my current novella is concerned, but it has thrust me down a few side alleys, ones I really needed to visit in the light of day, anyway. Many of you might know that I moved my author site over to Wordpress. I've been hating on my host provider for some time, and I just love Wordpress' user interface. This will allow me to make updates to my site much quicker than I had been able to in the past, since I was basically hand-coding the entire thing from scratch. I call this progress.

I've also been devoting a whole hell of a lot of time to flash fiction, the reading and writing of. I've been enjoying this journey so much that I am starting a micro-flash literary journal titled: Apocrypha and Abstractions, specializing in abstract flash fiction, 500 words or fewer. I've lined up a bunch of terrific and well known flash authors and hope to open the site up with content this coming spring/summer. The site is live, so stop on over and check it out. If you write micro flash or know a guy who knows a guy who knows a bunch of other guys who write micro flash and would like to sign on with us as a contributor, all the fiddly legal shit and contact information is posted there now.

Of course, I have been crazy with sculpting projects too -- the pic is a memorial piece I did for a friend. We were able to incorporate all the ashes into the sculpture, and I think the whole piece really captured Rusty's kitty spirit.

Read an ebook week was fun for me. The Splendor of Antiquity my existential faith/science art house romance novella -- say that ten times fast -- made it into the top five bestsellers in the Visionary/Metaphysical category over on Smashwords. I am offering it free to read at Smashwords for the entire month of March in case you missed it: Coupon Code TK45Z.

As for book reading and reviewing, I am thirty books deep in my review queue, so for those who are on my list, be patient. I average about a review a month because I don't like to rush things. The day job and my own personal reading have to get squeezed in too somewhere. Fortunately, spring is coming and that means more time in the garden -- weeding and reading. Chris and Emily are equally swamped. If you have submitted for a review and we haven't gotten back to you, you might want to check a few things in your query. Did you include a link to your book, preferably one with a preview? Don't make us search down your book because we won't. Is your query littered with grammatical errors? Instant rejection there folks. And lastly, have you read through our reviews? Maybe you submitted in a genre we just don't review like YA, or Memoirs, or Self-Help, or Romance, etc. In that case, it's us not you.

So, to cease the blathering, my only thought on the craft this week is: Keep up the enthusiasm. If you find it starting to wane, take a step away and refocus on something else. Write about that while you are doing it, too. It will keep you grounded, and it might even shed some light on a new path. At the very least, it'll give you some much needed new perspective. Any new angle is a good angle, especially if you're trying to flail your way out of the mud.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

The art this week is The Bear Dance by William Holbrook Beard

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review -- The Scrubs

Title: The Scrubs
Author: Simon Janus
Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller/Novella
Publisher: Bad Moon Books
Price: $0.99
Pages: PDF was 69 pages
Point of Sale: Smashwords
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Book Description: James Jeter, a serial killer with a 6th sense, holds court inside Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He's the focus of the "North Wing Project." He can create an alternate world containing the souls of his victims. Fellow inmate, Michael Keeler will earn a pardon if he enters Jeter's world to learn the identity of Jeter's last victim. Keeler can redeem himself, but at a price.
The North Wing project is, for all intents and purposes, using inmates as guinea pigs, which is a common theme seen in movies and books from A Clockwork Orange to Shutter Island, but while those books make some very powerful social statements, this book is just a free-for-all carnival freak show fun ride. Keeler is a volunteer prisoner; if there can be such a thing. He is a lifer with a boatload of guilt over shooting a child during a bank robbery, so he sees this project as maybe a way to redeem himself, despite the screaming and spook stories he's heard about the North Wing. When our hapless hero finally gets to the North Wing, he finds fellow inmate and psycho serial killer, Jeter, strapped to a chair, eyes sewn shut, body and mind wasted away. We have the typical war room styled command centre surrounding him, monitoring him, as he's being jacked up on some green goop.

Of course, according the greedy, criminally unjust powers that be, they only wanted to probe Jeter's mind all scientific like to find out what makes a killer a killer. What they got instead was a telekinetic psychopath with a vendetta who could produce a temporal rift with his mind. So far, two other inmates have gone AWOL in the rift, and Keeler has unknowingly volunteered to be sent in to find them.

What we are presented with here is the idea of an alternative dimension similar to the world created in the movie The Cell. A magical, make believe world created and controlled entirely by the mind of a psychopath. In The Cell, a psychologist has to enter this mind-world in order to find one of the killer's missing victims and save "a child." This has a similar premise but with different characters. However, while the imagery was garish and gory, it wasn't quite as fantastical as I normally like in these types of stories, but that's a personal tic -- I was spoiled on too much Lovecraft and Poe in my younger days, I suppose. However, some readers might find the imagery too much or just right, depending on how they like their horror porridge.

Back to the story, our administrative cretins have found that using a highly toxic and native variant of the Wormwood plant can produce an especially hallucinogenic absinthe, which they have been dosing liberally for quite some time. The prison has a high incidence of psychotic episodes, and not just with the inmates. For me, the whole feel of the story reminded me of Shutter Island, strike the social commentary and add in inter-dimensional time travel for the purpose of "entertainment." Here, virtual reality is not so virtual. Now you can play Hostel or House of a Thousand Corpses or Chainsaw Massacre for real without getting arrested, at least that's what the suits are hoping to sell.

I liked the story. It had some standard themes I hope to see in novellas of this kind: greed, human rights issues, the misappropriation and the procreation of evil, but I, personally, could have used a more visceral writing style. Instead of telling me that the emotions playing across people's faces were a "mix of shock and wonderment," I would have liked to experience this sort of stuff on a more intimate level with more mood and movement, as I like to call it. There were also some ideas I would have liked to see explored a little more in depth. In one scene, Jeter gets to Cady: peering into his soul with his sightless eyes, and Cady readily admits that Jeter "got to him," but the shame Cady says he feels isn't elaborated upon. We don't get in deep enough; there is no monologue or confession for us to associate this "shame" with, so we don't really feel any sympathy for the man. Keeler is fleshed out a little better, but most of the characters are of the typical corporate villain stereotype and do nothing more for the story than move the plot along.

Anyway, back to the story, again, Keeler manages to find the two other inmates he is supposed to be looking for, but they don't want to leave. Obviously, in the psycho mind-world, they can be the monsters they are with no consequences, they can be Gods, which was reminiscent of Clive Barker's The Last Illusion, and the predictable yet climactic hail of bullets ending with the wormwood tendrils spiralling up from the void will take you back to the end of the movie Silent Hill, which had some of the most imaginative horror imagery and one of the most inventive uses of a temporal rift I have ever witnessed.

The Scrubs had a few noticeable editorial issues that had me stumbling here and there. As for the writing style, it's a very plot oriented and fast-paced sci-fi action thriller, so the characters felt a bit thin to me, and the visual luxuriousness I normally like in this sort of thing was lacking at the expense of the action. I suppose I just wanted a little more, more of everything. Action thriller is not really a genre I like to read, but the sci-fi horror premise was intriguing, and in my opinion, if the author had dug in a little deeper, it could be a novel of fantastic proportions. So, if you are looking for the social significance and the emotional depth of Shutter Island and the stunning imagery of say Clive Barker meets H.P. Lovecraft at “The Silent Hill Cell,” you might be disappointed, but if you are going into this for a quick action packed escapist sci-fi prison break sort of thing, with lots of grand-standing, shoulder-muscling, some very flip cliché dialog, and a lot of gun pointing, oozing exploding body parts, and posturing, then you will love this short novella without a doubt.


This book was reviewed from a PDF purchased at retail by the reviewer before the author queried for a review.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Page 99 -- La Tiers du Cylindre

Page 99 from La Tiers du Cylindre
A Novel
by Mihai Cristian
Reprinted with Permission: Copyright By Mihai. All Rights Reserved.

Book Description: How much of our lives do we actually control? How much of it is actually chaos? How much of ourselves do we really know? What about the others around us? Mihai Cristian's debut novel is trying to figure out exactly that. Every good story begins with a couple of questions.

I wouldn’t have minded if this stillness would have persisted for the rest of my life. This world is so big and there are so many people in it, that we all can find our own Eve and our own little paradise. And this small French village on the mediterranean coast was my very own paradise. A paradise worth fighting for, worth protecting. We fell asleep, still holding each other in our arms.

Have you ever wanted to be a big part of someone else’s life? Someone you hardly even knew? But someone you felt you have known for a lifetime, or felt that maybe you met in an entire different lifetime all together? I guess love is a chaotic as the rest of the gauges and mechanisms that allow us to live. Simply being here, breathing this salty air is nothing short of a miracle. Every single day is a miracle, a miracle we should enjoy and we should never take any of this for granted. Because miracles don’t last forever. Everything can be taken away, everything can break down in an instant. That was the only thing that put a shadow on my happiness. The fear that I could loose everything. But I guess it’s okay to be afraid. It’s the only way you can tell if you are actually there, inside your head, and that you are actually living your life.

About the Author
Mihai Cristian(b. 1990) is a Romanian writer who curently resides in the city of Constanta. In 2006 he was awarded first prize in the Nicolae Labis National Literary Contest, in 2010 he was awarded first prize at the Tinere Condeie Literary Contest and was a winner of the Nanowrimo Contest. La tiers du cylindre is his debut 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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What A POD Person Reads: The Summer Son

Title: The Summer Son
Author: Craig Lancaster
Genre: Fiction
Price: $9.49
Publisher: Amazon Encore
ISBN: 978-1935597247
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

In June of 2009, Craig Lancaster asked me to review his first novel, 600 Hours of a Life. Even though character-driven contemporary novels aren’t exactly my cup of tea, I agreed, and found that I loved 600 Hours. In fact, I loved it enough that I put Lancaster’s second novel, The Summer Son, on my “to be read” list.

Well, I got to The Summer Son yesterday, and read it in one enjoyable gulp. Lancaster lives in Montana, and sets his novels in the contemporary American West. They’re not modern-day cowboy books, although Summer Son does have a ranch on it. Rather, they are stories about how fathers and sons interact as they age.

The Summer Son starts off with a dad, Jim Quillen, calling his estranged son Mitch. However, Jim never says why he’s calling, despite having been absent for years. Mitch, who’s having issues of his own, is persuaded to fly to Montana and figure out what’s eating dad. The plot then takes the form of a mystery, as Mitch investigates the man he thought he knew, and discovers how much he didn’t know about his dad and his mom. These discoveries continue even after Jim’s death, when Mitch learns a surprising yet well-established fact about his dad.

Character-driven novels may not be my cup of tea, but I have to make a big exception for anything Craig Lancaster writes. The Summer Son is a damn fine book.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Read an eBook Week -- March 6-12, 2011

Read an eBook week is upon us again: March 6-12, 2011 and apparently: E-BOOKS TURN 40! That's right - it's been forty years since Michael S. Hart created the first "e-book". You can win a Nook over on the main Read an eBook Week site so check it out, and there is a huge list of sponsors to browse through, as well.

In keeping with our Pod People eBook week tradition, I am offering up The Splendor of Antiquity my existential faith/science art house romance novella as a free to read at Smashwords for the entire month of March: Coupon Code TK45Z.

I am sending a call out now to all the authors who frequent our website -- yes that's you!! -- if you have an eBook you are discounting this week and would like to add it to our list, please leave the sale link in the comments section. I will be republishing this post periodically throughout the week with an updated list.

Books by Our Readers for Free or at a Discount this week:

The Salbine Sisters by Sarah Ettritch
Fern's Fancies by Lillie Ammann
Promise Kept by Brandy Hunt
All 8 books by Kristine Williams
Narcissism by Vix Phillips
Trapdoor also by Vix Phillips
Stories I'd Tell My Children By Michael N. Marcus

Thanks to all our readers for supporting eBooks and supporting Independent Authors.

Happy Reading all.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thoughts on Being an Indie Author -- c.anne.gardner

Why I have never been and will never be a rah rah Indie:

First off, for those who don't really know me, I have never been a very vocal defender of the self-publishing movement, and the reason why is because it's just not the right movement for everyone. I don't like to play up the stats on super successful self-published authors because for most of the writers wandering about the Lulu and the Createspace discussion forums, that reality just isn't going to happen. Successful Indie authors are a varied bunch, and the definition of success is just as varied as the authors are. I, myself, am a miserable excuse, and just as there are many definitions, there are many variables when it comes to success, as well. "The writing is about the writing, but publishing is about the timing." That my friends is from The World According to Garp and is just as true now as it was when Garp was complaining about his mother's success.

But even so, that really isn't why my vocalizations about the subject have had the tendency to be rather subdued. First off, I am not anti traditional publishing; it has its merits, so I could never pick a side to rail against. Secondly, I don't think all commercial fiction is crap. Shit, I read and review a lot of mainstream stuff because I like a lot of mainstream stuff. Third, I am not all that into validation, so I don't worry about the gatekeeper nonsense because I can't be bothered with it. For my purposes, all the claptrap about it just doesn't concern the type of writer I am. I don't and have never needed to be accepted or validated; I am confident enough to work through my own mistakes, and I am not a wait and see type of person. I am a make-it-happen person, and I don't ever feel the need to defend my reasoning. I am an anarchist, and to me, Self-publishing and Indie publishing are about freedom of expression. It is and always has been about the craft, the artistic implications of it, and lately, I have become disenchanted with the idea of self-publishing because, frankly, it's becoming in vogue, which to me is passé. Successful self-published authors are on the rise. Konrath profiles a list just about every friggin’ week, and all manner of traditionally published authors are jumping on the bandwagon now.

Sure, this is helping to eliminate the stigma, but maybe, just maybe, some of us die-hard anarchist self-publishers actually enjoyed the stigma. For us it was all about experimentation and rule breaking. It was about the writing: writing for niche markets, or writing in a style no longer in favour with the mainstream. Writing fucked up obscure shit in a flowery dance of overdone poetic language. It was about being minimalist, or exhibitionist, or expositionist, or sexist, gory, offensive, implausible and/or ridiculous to the nth degree. It was about being transgressive, subversive, and assertive. It was about taking chances, come what may. It was about rolling your sleeves up and getting your knees bloody. It was about art and freedom and control not royalties and stats and media coverage.

Now I am not saying that all the self-publishing success stories out there aren't worth anything. The Pod People have read a lot of books and have seen a great many of those authors become successful in a variety of ways, and they all should be commended, not for the writing necessarily [because we know literary merit is subjective], but for their bravery, because when they started down this road, self-publishing wasn't what it is now. It wasn't about having the cash flash to outsource for a hot sexy book cover, or blurbs, or a fancy website. It was all down in the trenches, making due with what you had and making greasy backroom deals for what you didn't. That was part of the joy of it, but now things are changing. The whole publishing industry is changing, and traditional ideas are slipping in and the anarchy is slipping away.

So that's why I don't rah rah rah every time an Indie/Self-published author gets a traditional book deal or meets with some other sort of mass media success. I am just not about that and never have been. I don't have anything to prove, so I don't see the point in taking sides or making a "see, we don't all suck" stink fist about it. It all takes up too much of my energy, energy better spent on reviewing excellent self-published books and working relentlessly on my own artistic anarchy. To me, the work is what matters. I know a few other Indie activists out there who feel much the same as I do and have pretty much gone silent to work on other projects they feel passionate about. I probably won't go totally silent, because I believe the anarchist spirit can still thrive in the self-publishing arena, but I will have to change my focus a little, which means more ranting about the art and less blathering on about the industry, because let's face it, there are already enough mouthpieces for the industry out there, and I really don't have the lungs for it.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Art this week is an untitled piece by Beksinski, and to me, it really illustrates how I used to feel about the divide between Traditional Publishing and the Indie. Quite the frightening adventure, and I liked it that way.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Page 99 -- The Emporer's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Page 99 from The Emperor's Edge
A Fantasy Adventure novel by Lindsay Buroker
Reprinted with Permission. Copyright 2010 by Lindsay Buroker. All Rights Reserved

Book Description: Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed....

She had to look. Stepping toe first, as lightly as she could, she eased around the corner of the building and crept along the dock toward the street. Something crunched on the snow in front of the building. Amaranthe froze, knife ready, though she doubted her insignificant blade could do anything against that creature.

Akstyr and Sicarius trotted around the corner.

Before she could sag in relief, Sicarius said, “Inside.”

“We just passed a big bloody body in the street,” Akstyr blurted. “It was still gushing!”

“Inside is good.” Amaranthe meant to jog before them at a calm and confident pace. Nerves nipped at her heels though, and she sprinted down the side of the building and through the door.

Sicarius and Akstyr followed right behind. Sicarius shut the door.

“Think we need to be in the rafters?” Amaranthe pointed at the ropes and wondered if she should yell to wake Maldynado and Books. If that creature was nearby, yelling might attract attention.

“Perhaps not,” Sicarius said. “It’s near dawn.”

“You think the creature is nocturnal?” she asked.

“It’s been hunting at night thus far.”

“Because that’s its natural time, or because it’s trying to remain unseen?” She eyed her two male companions, wondering if she was being silly for ascribing intelligence to this creature. “Either of you have any idea what we’re dealing with?”

“I’d be guessing at this point,” Sicarius said.

“That’s allowed,” she said.

He did not extrapolate.

The screech sounded again.

“That’s it,” Amaranthe said. “Up to the beams.” She ran to the bunks and shook Maldynado and Books.

Maldynado groaned and stuffed his head under his arm. “What time is it?”

Books sat up, his beard sticking out in all directions.

“Early,” Amaranthe said. “We need to make a short trip.”

A scuffle sounded from above as a climbing Akstyr reached the top and threw himself over the beam. Books mumbled under his breath but grabbed his boots and headed for the swaying rope, apparently accepting the need to do so without a big explanation.

“Up there?” Maldynado, less accepting, stared. “Is there a reason you’re encouraging pre-dawn climbing calisthenics?”

“What’s that!” shouted a muffled male voice from the warehouse on the nearby dock.

A musket fired, and for a moment all grew still. Then a scream of pain sent a chill hurtling down
Amaranthe’s spine. The sound broke off with a crunch.

“There’s a reason,” she answered Maldynado grimly.

“Uh huh, got that.” He scrambled out of his bunk, shoved Books aside, and flew up one of the ropes.

Lindsay Buroker has been publishing web content and blogging for a living since 2004 (yes, she says, you really can work from home in your pajamas and make money in your sleep). Now, She's going to see if she can make some money e-publishing her fiction. Lindsay Buroker YA, MG, and adult fantasy, and sometimes a bit of science fiction creeps in. Her first ebook was a collection of children’s stories.

Her other interests include tennis, gardening, reading, traveling, inline skating, and roaming around outdoors with a couple of rescue vizslas who are more spoiled than most people’s kids.


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