Friday, December 30, 2011

A Special Guest Post by Abby Mae reviewing Ap Miller's Newest

Abigail is just the cutest and sweetest girl you're ever going to meet.  I'm not just saying this because she happens to be related to me and her mother is likely to hit me on the head if I don't.  She really is sweet, and she's cute as a button.  I think I like best, though, that she's as sharp as a tack.  So (drumroll, please) here is my lovely daughter Abigail Mae reviewing Ap Miller's Peter and the Pumpkin Patch.

My Review of Peter and the Pumpkin Patch by Ap Miller
by Abby

This book is just wow! It's funny.  It's classic pumpkin!  And... it's like a mythical comedy story. I mean, pumpkins--they all get turned into pumpkins! Crazy funny.   I can't explain.  You will have to read it yourself.
p.s.: Funny, funny, funny!

Okay, tell me she isn't the coolest seven year old in existence!  Alright, here's my take on the book.  I have seven kids.  That's right.  Seven.  Go ahead, take a breath, breathe in...breathe out.  You okay now?  Alright, I have seven kids.  That means I've read more than my share of children's books.  Let me tell you a horrible secret.  Most of them suck.  There, I've said it.  Most children's books are pablum-spouting, boring, idiotic, patronizing, pedantic, semi-socially-conscious forays into the kind of lowest common denominator crap adults get thrown at them.

Thankfully, Ap Miller doesn't fall into this category.  I reviewed her YA book, The Boogedyman, and I loved that one, too. I just love when an author doesn't treat my children like stupid idiots.  I mean it, this book is clever and doesn't pander.  I loved it.  My twelve year old, my ten year old, and my seven year old each read it individually.  Then, they took turns reading it over and over to each other until they were practically reciting from memory.  It's great.  I love it.  You'll love it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Judy Serrano, Brother Number Three

Okay, so I already told you I'm not a big fan of the romance genre.  However, my review of Judy Serrano's Easter's Lilly also pointed out that I'm a pretty big fan of Serrano.  This book is the sequel to the first, and it explores the character of Lilly as she continues her strange and varied relationship with three on-again, off-again criminal brothers.

On-again, off-again is a pretty good way to describe Lilly.  I swear that girl moves from guy to guy like nobody's business.  Still, it's remarkable the way Serrano handles it.  Lilly isn't some kind of easy, promiscuous tart (at least she doesn't think she is) but instead truly becomes overwhelmed with the emotional response to the three very...very...very persuasive brothers.

This book is a fine read.  I like the way she develops all of the characters.  Serrano refuses broad strokes, which are so common in this genre.  I appreciate the way she's developed the characters even more in this book rather than rely on what she did for the first book and just throw them into new situations.

There are a few weaknesses.  I think there was far too little freaked-out panic going on about Lilly's son, and I think no three brothers would really pass a woman around the way they do in this series.  Really, though, it's a part of the whole romance thing, so it's a tiny criticism.

If you're not a romance fan, you still might enjoy this series.  Give it a shot.

Judy Serrano, Easter's Lilly

I have to tell you something.  Publisher deadlines, The Spirit of Poe Anthology, and just family holiday obligations have kept me from posting reviews as I should.  It's rotten of me because there are a number of good books I've read and just stacked around the house, waiting for a spare few minutes to get a review up.  I'll be posting like a rabid...uh...blogger in the next several days.

Judy Serrano is one of the authors who deserved better attention.  I'm not a big fan of romance in general because I find the characters are often one dimensional and shallow and the plot lines are nothing more than operatic libretto geared to getting us to the next aria (or in romance speak, the next heart-fluttering moment.)  Serrano's book isn't like this at all.  There are a number of aspects to the book I really enjoyed.

First of all, Lily isn't one dimensional.  She has depth you just don't usually see in the broad strokes we're used to in romance books.  Of course, there are some implausible aspects to her character, but that's the genre, not a flaw.  Even the unlikely aspects of Lily's personality, though, push the story along in a positive and an enjoyable way.  I especially like the way Serrano portrays conflicted emotions.  This isn't the typical junk of melodramatic "does he love me or doesn't he" or "which one should I chose."  All of that's in this book, but I guarantee you don't imagine a sweeping orchestra in the background telling you how you're supposed to feel.

Maybe that's indeed what sets Serrano apart, here.  She doesn't fall into the trap of spoon feeding the reader the emotional impact she's looking for.  Instead, she portrays the actions and emotions of the characters and allows you the whole gamut of emotions involved, from "Awwww" to "What the hell is your problem, Lilly?"  When you think about it, that's what separates a good novel from a bad one.

No, the book's not perfect.  I think there is a great Milky Way Galaxy law somewhere that makes us think of certain male characters as attractive despite their criminal nature.  My wife tells me that it's wonderful in a fantasy world even if she'd run like hell in the real world.  Then, she usually says, "Shut up and let me read."
I'm still not really a romance fan, but if all romance novels were like Easter's Lilly, I might be willing to revisit that statement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eddie Lance's Short Stories

Eddie Lance has a very eclectic sense of time, place, and plot.  I met him about a year ago, and my evil brother, Jerry Wright, is collaborating with him on a thriller.  He's finally made some of his work available on Amazon, and you'd be doing yourself a favor to check it out.

Black Friday is the most approachable of Lance's stories.  It tracks the relationship of a father and a daughter as the father realizes his own hypocrisy and is forced to reevaluate his own behavior.  Eddie handles it with a strange combination of quirkiness, kindness, and vitriol.  It's probably my favorite of Lance's works.

At first glance, High School Reunion seems like its going to be a typical revenge tale.  Lance transcends it though.  I originally heard an audio production of the story, and the quality of the narration made it come alive for me.  Lance does a good job developing the characters, and the ending isn't as predictable, when it happens, as you might think.

Lance's collection of poetry is interesting, though not as good as his stories.  Still, at only $0.99, it makes sense to buy if only to see the way Lance approaches classic literature and attempts to distill it into workable poems.  In some cases, he has a great deal of success, and that's what makes the purchase worth the price.

Emotion Sickness isn't really literature.  Well, maybe it is.  It's an album of semi-interrelated tracks that's really something like music, storytelling, performance art, and a night filled with alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs.  I almost didn't include it here because it's very hard to define.  Some of it has very high production value and there's no question that Lance is a talented musician as well as a talented writer.  If you're not the kind of person who enjoys experimental literature, pass on this.  Still, the album reminded me of my days in college watching David Lynch's Eraserhead and listening to Laurie Anderson.  I liked it a lot.

Lance is an interesting new voice on Amazon.  I'm glad I got to know him, but I'm even more glad I got to know his work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Review of Roses Are Red by Carrie Green

I’m a big fan of short fiction.  (I think I’ve said that before.  Actually, I think I’ve said that about a million times before.)  There’s a balancing act that an author has to perform.  If someone tries to put too much in the story, they end up with an unsatisfying attempt at fiction that just won’t work in the short format.  On the other hand, few writers can pack power into writing that’s overly sparse—maybe only Hemmingway really mastered it completely.  So, the balancing act is finding a way to get the reader to receive the impact of a robust and well-developed story without writing a novel to do it.  A good short story leaves a great deal unsaid, but next to nothing unspoken.

Carrie Green’s short story collection, Roses Are Red, does that well, very well, and remarkably well.  I say this because I quite enjoyed the book.  I think the last story is by far the best, and the science fiction story isn't near to the quality of the other two.  Nonetheless, all three stories are good. 

In the first story, A Long Distance Relationship, she explores the impact of guilt on a murderer.  Here is evil completely unromanticized (I don’t care what spellcheck says, I’m counting “unromanticized” as a word.)  The man imagines his victim communicating on the phone with him, and Green writes it well.

My favorite of the stories is Cash Only.  More of a psychological drama than a horror, it’s remarkable in a number of ways.  The bounty hunter character she’s created is callous and unrelenting.  Still, he’s in the right, and you never quite disagree with him.  Then, his thoughts drift to more human (read that humane) ideals, and you think you’ve read him wrong.  That’s okay, because you like his change of heart.  Then, Green hits you right between the eyes.

Do yourself a favor and pick this collection up.  It’s just a buck on Amazon, and it’s worth the spend.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Review of Bad Billy by Jimmy Pudge

Jimmy Pudge’s latest is exactly what I’ve come to expect from him—well-written horror masked by an unapologetic approach that’s (can I say it?) vulgar and violent.  Sometimes, reading his work is like watching a fender bender that turns into a brawl that turns into a mass murder.  You think you’ve overcome the impact and he hits you over the head with a baseball bat one more time.  In the first few pages you’ve got the tone of the book smashed right into your face and there’s no pretending you’re not planning to turn (well, click) to the next chapter.

I enjoyed the book a whole heck of a lot.  Jimmy has a talent for taking an event or a scene and distilling it to the fewest words (and usually, they’re explicit words) needed to describe it.  I found myself laughing aloud and then feeling guilty as hell about it, kind of the way you watch a slasher flick, cheer when one of the good guys is killed, and look around in shame until you realize everyone else there is cheering for the maniac, too.  Pudge has a talent for stripping away every trapping of pretentiousness and getting you to read and enjoy.

Okay…let me give you a little taste, here…cigarettes, J & B, gunfire, flames, throat torn open by teeth, baby born in a toilet stall, eating a live cat, shotgun blast to the face, arm chewed off…well, you get the picture.  Don’t you dare buy this book and complain.  If you could possibly be offended, you will be.  But…if you want a taste of an author rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers of visceral comedy/horror, you need to pick up Bad Billy. 

It's very inexpensive on Kindle, and you'll pay more for the half pint of J & B you'll want to drink while you're reading it, so get to it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Review of Pseudonym by Neal Penn


More accurately, my evil twin Jerry Wright helped Neal with some editorial advice with Pseudonym, the new suspense/thriller/detective book.  He tells me it was easy as pie because the book was well crafted and plotted from the outset.  (Well, Jerry said "easy as vodka", but that's pretty much the same for him.)

I like when main characters are broken.  You know, when their lives are so screwed up that anything that happens to them in the book isn't possibly going to do them more harm than the harm they've already done to themselves.  Rodney Crane, the alcoholic disbarred ex-lawyer detective protagonist in Pseudonym is as broken as characters come.  Three small chapters in (the chapters are very short and action driven) he's faced bullets, glass, old ladies, and a scary as hell assassin, and his big regret is that his vodka and his scotch are still away at his house.

The mystery is unique, and that says a lot for it.  A rich man disappears at age 18 and apparently shows up again forty years later as the author of a series of Nick Carter/Executioner type ebooks.  Crane is hired by his spinster sisters to find him.  Along the way, he uncovers a conspiracy, faces a bunch of killers, and--just to make it interesting--has his sweet and HURT BY HIS BEHAVIOR IN THE PAST girlfriend along for the ride.

I enjoyed this book.  It has a ton of over-the-top action, a whole lot of fun dialogue, and just about everyone is on an alcoholic binge.  Who doesn't like bullets when they come along with vodka, bourbon, and scotch?  There are these two bozo hit men chasing Crane, and the interactions between them are just hilarious.  Read this part, but watch out, there's some profanity:

“How could you—hey, hand me my fries—could you miss when we were that close?”  The man behind the wheel merged the SUV onto the 50 and shook his head.  “The boss is gonna be pissed off at you.”
                “What do mean pissed off at me?  You were there.  Why didn’t you do something?”  The second man was dressed in black jeans, black shoes, a black turtleneck, and wore a black watch cap.  He reached into the paper Hardees bag and pulled out the fries.  He stole a few before he handed them to the driver.
                “Hey, eat your own g***m fries.”  The driver wore a charcoal suit with a muted grey tie.  He shook his head.  “First, you dress like some kind of idiot longshoreman with constipation, and then you—”
                “What does that even mean?  I’m dressed so nobody will recognize me if they see me.”
                “There’s not a person on earth who won’t recognize you in that get up.”  The driver shook his head.  “The boss is gonna be so pissed.  One squirrely-ass lawyer and you couldn’t hit him.”
                “My scope was out of alignment.  It wasn’t my—”
                “Who uses a scope from ten feet away?  Anyway, we’ll head back to the hotel and figure out what to do from there.”  The man looked at his partner for a moment.  “Hey, Susan still making those lemon bars?”
                “Yeah, every Saturday morning she makes a batch.  I have to take them out sometimes when she leaves for her shift.  You want me to have her make some for you?”  The passenger reached to the back and lifted the gun from the back seat, “Desert Eagle Mark IV, .357—you know I almost got the fifty.”
                “What do you mean?”
                “The .50 caliber.  They got a .44, the .357, and the .50.  I got the .357 because I figured there wouldn’t be as many looks when I bought the ammo.”  He reached down and unscrewed the scope from the gun’s barrel.  “Oh, Jesus.”
                “I had the scope on backwards.  That’s why I missed that guy.”  He reached in the back seat again and pulled out the combination lock carrying case in which he stored the gun, worked the numbers, and put the gun in the foam nook designed for it.  He put the scope in its nook as well and closed the case.  “You know that the chamber of the Desert Eagle stays open after you fire the last bullet?”
                “The slide.  It stays open.  That’s so you can throw a new magazine in and when you close the chamber it’s already good to go.”  He tossed the box in the back seat and reached back to the Hardees bag where he found a paper wrapped cheeseburger.  “It’s important in a battle to save every second you can.”
                “Hey, gimme one of those, too.”  His partner handed him the one in his hand and reached back into the bag.  “All automatics keep the slide open when they fire the last bullet.”
                “No they don’t.”
                “Yeah they do.  Who the hell ever gave you a gun in the first place?”
                “My dad gave me my first—”
                “Oh, f**k.  It was a categorical question?”
                “A what?”
                The driver shook his head.  “Categorical.  It means it was said for effect.  It wasn’t meant to be answered.”
                “I think that’s rhetorical.”  A neon sign caught his eye.  “Hey, let’s pick up some booze; make it easier to call the boss.”
                “Yeah alright,” he pulled the SUV toward the exit ramp.  “The Boss is gonna be so pissed.”

Almost every interaction between those two is like that, though it gets even funnier later.  The book is put together well with characters you care about, even the bad guys.  Do yourself a favor, the book is only $2.99, so pick up Pseudonym (Rodney Crane Thrillers) on Amazon

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Boogedyman by Ap Miller

For The First Ever Time, Out of Respect to the Young Adults Who Might Read This Review...NO SPOILERS HERE.

                                                          “What if the Boogeyman was real?”
Plagued by horrific boogeyman nightmares since childhood, Murray Thompson is
deathly afraid of the things that he thinks “go bump in the night”. The one thing that keeps him
grounded is his psychiatrist of many years, Dr. Rosen. With regular visits since he was 11 years
old, Murray feels progress should have been made already, but with his dreams becoming more
intense and “real”, he thinks something needs to be done. Going to see his family, Murray
believes that this is the break he needs to keep sane. Feeling at home, and safe around his
family, it works for a time. But when the nightmares start up again, he once more relies on Dr.
Rosen for help. Once back, Dr. Rosen takes Murray on a journey to root out his longtime phobia
and find out if there is cause for his fear or all in his mind.

I have seven kids.  That's right, count'em--one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  Do you know what that means?  It means I've read just about every book written for people who haven't reached the age of majority.  There's a weird dynamic.  We start out reading books to them, like Andrew Lang's Fairy books and The Little Prince and Water Babies.  Those are pretty fun.  Then, they learn to read, so we're bored as heck watching and listening to them haltingly fight their ways through basic sentences.  When they can read, most of what's available is complete junk.  It isn't until Junior High or so that the kids reach an age where anyone is writing something they might actually enjoy.

And let's face it...ninety-nine percent of what's written for young adults is just crap.  There, I said it.  I'm serious, though.  Most YA fiction isn't about the kids.  It's written to a conglomerate vision of what we think the kids are.  That's why every kid has the exact same challenges, hopes, and fears.  That's why every kid falls in love the exact same way.  That's why there's always one "goody two-shoes" character and one "bad" character.  Really, the genre is so darn formulaic that you almost want to keep your kids illiterate until they can appreciate Hemingway  Steinbeck, and Poe.

I'm happy to report that Ap Miller's book, The Boogedyman, doesn't fall into the trap.  I liked it enough that it ended up a present for my twelve-year old to read.  The book doesn't treat kids like feeble-minded idiots ready for emotional and intellectual manipulation.  I really like that.  It not only excites, but it provokes thought.  Maybe I'm an old fashioned kind of parent, but I find it important that a book make my daughter think.

The characterization is excellent.  I quite like the interactions between Murray and Doctor Rosen.  I also like the psychological horror element of the book.  It's a far cry from most YA horror which, if anything, pays only lip service to the psyche side of horror.  I think it's remarkable that a young adult book focuses so much on older characters as well.  You never see that.

The pacing is great.  It starts slowly and builds with each chapter.  The beginning could have been a little quicker, but there's no harm done.  The twists are unexpected but they don't cheat the reader, and I was left wanting more, so I better see some more in the series, and I know my daughter will go on an Ap Miller hunt if she doesn't.

Pick the book up.  It's out in about five days, and it's a good one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An Interview with Ap Miller

I was very fortunate to get a chance to talk to Patti, half of the talented husband and wife team who write under the name AP Miller.  They’ve got so many books upcoming that getting any time from them was a real break.  I think you’ll like them as much as I did.

Okay, first things first…You’re a husband and wife team.  How in the heck do you do it?  (I mean without killing each other.)

We get along well, probably better then most couples do in fact. We have a lot in common. We are also very active and disciplined in our career and can easily feed off of each other.

You have multiple genres and audiences.  Do you find yourself slipping into YA writing for your more mature projects, or the reverse?

Nope. Surprisingly I can write in many genres at once now without skipping a beat. Andrew is the science fiction/fantasy king.

Why do kids love horror?

Children love being scared, it’s a common fact. The more they don’t see coming, the better.

Do you write full time or part time, and how do you manage it?

We don’t have a set schedule. We write when we decide the bug is biting and how active the muse is.

Tell us about your latest book.

We actually have eleven new books coming out in Adult, YA and children’s picture books so right now Mum’s the word.

How did you come up with titles?

We base our titles on the content of the story. Andrew chooses his titles after he has written, I choose mine before the book has begun.

You’ve got half a million projects in the works.  First off, tell us how crazy it’s making you two.

You’d think it would? I’m a dinosaur. Been published since 1989, have a thirty-four year background in fiction, publishing, newspaper and magazine writing. I’m used to it. Andrew has been at it now for twenty years.

Now, focus on one of the upcoming projects and give us a taste.

We don’t kiss and tell…our projects are kept secret right up until a week before release. Sorry!  [I did get a taste of their newest, The Boogedyman, but it took a lot of arm twisting!]

What inspired you to be writers?  Were you both writers before you wrote together?

Yes we were. We both knew since we were young we would be writers.

Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?

Andrew’s would have to be Lisa Huntress--it's from our scifi series Lone Huntress. I really don’t have a favorite.

Tell us about the hardest challenge you had to overcome in writing?


What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?

Practice and write what you know. Also to do your homework on the craft before you think about writing any book. It takes years to become a prolific writer but in order to do that you have to study the craft.

What advice would you give to writers working together as a team?

To write to the best of your ability and try to get along.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

For Andrew it’s been Robert Heinlein, for me it’s always been Dianna Gabaldon for many reasons.

I guess it hasn’t happened in a while, but how did you deal with rejection letters?

We took them with a grain of salt and chalked them up as a good tool. I never accept them on a personal level. If the book isn’t right for one publisher it will work for another…you just move on.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A good working computer, and reference books on how to write.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

Our research is done online. We don’t do anything off the wall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Interview with John Rice

John Rice is just a great, engaging guy.  His prose is definitely influenced by his poetic sensibilities.  Check out his interesting and worthwhile blog,, and get to know him.  I’ll be posting a review of Every Night is a Holiday for Death in the next day or two.

Do you write full time or part time, and how do you manage it?

I try to write 2000 or more words a day, and since I’m retired time is not a problem.

You’ve got a blog, Quill and Blood.  What can your readers find there?

Readers of my blog will find original poems, stories, articles on current events and excerpts from stories I’m working on.

You write prose and poetry.  What do you enjoy more and why?

Tough question, I’ve attempted writing verse for a long time, and for the most part it is easier than writing fiction, because there are fewer rules but I suppose because it is more of a challenge, I enjoy fiction better, but not by much, because each genre has its own challenges and rewards. At the end of the day it really boils down to the mood I’m in.

Is it hard to switch between the two?  Do you find your prose getting overly poetic or the reverse?

No it isn’t difficult to switch between the two. Several years ago I filled out a test for a writing program, and my answer from them was, you must want to be a poet. When I first started writing prose I would put in at least one poem, now I only do if the story lends itself to the concept.

You started writing professionally later than most.  What kind of perspective does that give you?  How does that affect your writing?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but for most of my adult life I thought that I wasn’t able to write, plus, working  forty hours a week, and raising a family didn’t leave much time to learn. Even after I retired I didn’t try to write fiction, that didn’t start until the winter of 2007. My first attempt was writing two plays. That was followed by a few short stories for one of my sister’s great grandchildren. Then I plunged into my first YA novel, “Keeper of the Sword,” which took two months to complete. I think it made ad some urgency to get published

Tell us about your latest book.

I have a couple of books that I started, both young adult fantasy novels, the first one is Fire, it is the first of a trilogy, the other two will be Air and Water, the second one is Dragon Breath.

What prompted you to write it?

I suppose the success of Harry Potter

Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

I have been concentrating on a book of short stories, titled Forever More, I am almost finished the last of the stories for the book, and I have been spending a great deal of time promoting, or trying to promote my blog and Ebook.

Tell us about the hardest challenge you had to overcome in writing?

The greatest challenge has been learning the proper use of English grammar and punctuation.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Read and write, if you pay attention to what you are reading, you can learn a great deal about writing. Join a writing group. Take a course in writing. Learn how to use five new words every-day, vocabulary is one of the biggest guns you will ever have in your writing toolbox.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your

The top writer on my favorite list is Tolkien. It has been ever since I read Lord of the Rings. Hemmingway is also close to the top, along with Dickens, Steinbeck, and a host of others too long to mention. One book that has influenced me more than any other is the Bible.

What’s the one thing you want a reader to know about you?

That I believe all gifts, all talents come from God and it is up to us to find out which ones he has given us, then work hard, and pray to develop them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Very Independent Indie Author--Guest Post from Poppet

I want to thank Poppet for putting together a post for me on what it means to be an indie author.  I have found Poppet to be engaging and interesting, and always controversial.  I reviewed Seithe (Pravus) as one of my first reviews here.  You can agree or disagree with Poppet, but you'll never wonder how she feels about an issue.

Thank you W J for having me as a guest author on your blog.  You've asked me to write about being an Indie author, but I'm going to use this opportunity to also introduce your readers to my work.

In brief, I was raised in an oppressive and violent environment. And everything wrong in my world, everything I feared, everything that made me cry, came with a label attached. That label was called the Bible. It was misused in my home, to such a degree that when my parents divorced, I vowed to never set foot in a church again.

What I could never know was that my childhood would awake in me a deep desire to get to the bottom of this thing we call religion. To the point where it's taken up the bulk of my life. I have spent my life doing research.

Because of this, there is a trend in my books. (A strange trend to be sure.) You could even call them parables. Sharing with my readers what I have spent my life researching. Seithe for example is a book which shows you the glory of humanity. What is it that makes us so very special? Seithe is a Vampyre, but not the kind you're thinking of when you hear the word vampire. Instead the entire tale is about what it is that's so very special about being human, and why it's coveted by other 'beings'. My Heresy series is labelled Heresy, because it draws heavily on texts not accepted by the church. However my latest offering Erra, addresses these issues head on, in the author's note at the back of the book.

Because I am controversial, being an Indie author suits me. I have no one telling me what I may or may not do in my work. I can release as many books as I can write in a year (in the last year I have released a total of 14 books), basically I have no restrictions. And because I grew up surrounded with unreasonable restrictions, enforced with fear and violence, you can pretty much bet your hat that I don't work well as an adult, inside a restrictive system.

I like to be free. Free to follow my heart, and share my life's work with my readers in engaging stories which flirt with a whole mountain of truth. Truth of course is subjective to where your comfort zone is, and how far you're willing to challenge your own beliefs. Heresy, when I wrote it, it destroyed everything I believed, and I think it broke me out of a mental prison. However I was still conditioned with fear, and I cried for days, shaking with fear, thinking about how what I was reading and revealing (and writing) was wrong.

Such is conditioning, and that's how powerful it is, especially if you were conditioned from birth to expect severe repercussions for challenging authority. Especially the authority of a book. It seems so fitting then, that I do this in the same form. With a book. And now that I have read the book which terrorized my life, and found in it some of the truth, I am using my own power to make my readers aware of the bits glossed over.

Make no mistake, I'm not a preacher, and I really don't like the idea of forcing your opinion on others. All I do with my books, is offer another perspective to my readers. What they do with that perspective is completely their own choice.

And because I know that some of my work will press buttons, I am unafraid of lashback and scathing reviews. This is something every author must face (Indie or otherwise). And it's something all authors must embrace. Criticism is an exercise of free will. Not everyone is going to like your work. And that's okay. If we all liked the same things, life would be very boring indeed, and take out night would be predictable.

We are all unique, and I embrace that. I love knowing I'm one of a kind. And so are you. Which means no two books should ever be the same. When we create anything, it should be from the heart, and with the best intentions. Do your best when you create a novel, and then let it go. What the world does with that book isn't your problem. Your only role is to sit down, and write a new book, from the heart, to the best of your ability.

Hence, Indie fits me, it sits really well with me, and I have to say I am thrilled to be an author during this era of revolution in the literary world.

If any of your readers would like to sample my work, they will find three of my books offered for free on Smashwords. (Heresy, Blindsided, and Fey's Adventures). These books are also free at Barnes & Noble, but not on Amazon (I apologise, but I don't control Amazon's pricing that way. I asked them to make it free, and they said they reserve that right).

Here below is a teaser from my latest supernatural romance, titled Erra, which is a tale about a love triangle.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Review of Vampires Revealed by Rebeka Harrington

Vampire novels are everywhere.  My evil twin, Jerry Wright, wrote one with Barb Jones.  Go to a bookstore and there about half a million of them everywhere.  There are bad vampires, good vampires, gross vampires, sparkly vampires--you name it. Okay, let's face facts, vampire books have kind of become the disco music of literature.  It's a guilty pleasure we sing along with when nobody is looking and make fun of when people pay attention. goes...Hello, I'm WJ, and I'm a vampaholic.
Seriously, though, why are we sick of vampires?  The answers easy--they've become the sparkly stuff of young adult fiction and nearly completely lost their edge.  However, Almost everyone who hates the proliferation of vampire novels would still agree that Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles) is a great book.  Why?  Her vampires aren't monstrous, and the Twillight weaklings wouldn't have ever been developed without that great book.  I'm not convinced we need fewer vampire novels.  I think we need more for adults.

The author of today's book agrees.  Take a look at her guest post from yesterday, Vampires: Done to Death?   Rebeka Harrington's new book Vampires Revealed does a fine job with that. It's a well-put together novel that doesn't focus on the sparkly if you're a twelve year old you're going to faint concept of vampires.  Still, the three-thousand year old vampire character of Bektamun has plenty of personality above and beyond the fact that she sucks blood.  Harrington takes on origin myths, day to day life, and basic questions that tend to be unanswered (or worse, assumed based on other literature) in vampire fiction today.

The character is cool.  I haven't before read a novel from a female vampire's point of view.  Harrington has created an interesting character that avoids nearly all of the junk that's put vampire fiction out of fashion over the last few years.  I'm looking forward to more in the series.  Oh--quick point here.  It's not only better than the childish YA stuff out there, but this novel is definitely NOT FOR KIDS.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Vampires: Done to Death? Guest Post by Rebeka Harrington

Rebeka Harrington started her writing career working for the local newspaper as a teenager. She stepped away from writing for a while but always remained creative.  She’s a true eclectic, with wide and varied tastes that usually end up in her writing.  I was fortunate enough to get her to put together a guest post for us.  She particularly enjoys writing about vampires, and her new novel Vampires Revealed is an interesting and unique take.  (I know you’re thinking “What interesting and unique takes are left?  Trust me on this one.  I’ll be posting a review in due time.)
Rebeka is charming, beautiful, and a real writing talent.  I’m happy to say this guest post isn’t all you’ll hear from her.  We have an interview that will be up soon as well.  And without further ado…here’s my first guest post.  Enjoy

Vampires: Done to Death?
by Rebekah Harrington

Ever since Anne Rice reignited interest in vampires there has been a steady and ever-increasing procession of vampire related fiction hitting bookstores. Some might say vampires have been ‘done to death’ (pun intended). So why, in a world dominated by a virtual excess of vampire fiction , would any author choose to add to the existing overabundance?

Well I certainly can’t speak for other authors, but for me writing about vampires was much like Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin…it was a happy accident.

Like many other small business owners in the current economic climate, I found my business suffering a major downturn. While this has made life difficult, I discovered without the demands of my business, I had more free time on my hands. What to do with this free time?

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with vampires, mostly because I am also fascinated with history. To me vampires represent ‘living’ history. They can also be dangerous, brutal, sexy, good, evil and can scrutinise humanity in a way other fictional characters cannot.

As a self-confessed vampire fan I’ve consumed my fair share of vampire fiction over the years, through books and movies. As much I’ve enjoyed this consumption, everything I have ever read or watched had one thing in common - they left me with questions.

I had now stumbled on what I could do with my free time (my ‘happy accident’); I would set about compiling a list of all my unanswered vampire questions and research the answers. And that is exactly what I did!

Who was the first vampire? How did that happen?

How does a blood-drinking body differ from that of a human body?

Do they have a system of government, laws?

What do they really think of humans? Are humans only food?

After drinking so much blood, do they ever need to use a toilet?

Where did the myth start and why?

That is just a small sample from my very long list of questions.

When I started researching, trying to find some answers, I discovered many people before me had asked similar questions and not found satisfaction. It seemed no matter how much time and effort I spent on my quest for information, I was doomed. Since the answers to my questions apparently didn’t exist, I decided it would be fun to try and answer them myself.

It had been many years since I had done any serious writing, but found it was like riding a bike and it all came flooding back to me. Formerly I had written regularly for a local newspaper. The writing might have come easy, but the answers still escaped me.

Then I had a breakthrough, I discovered the origins of vampires and how it was possible for vampires to exist at all. This breakthrough led me to my main character, Bektamun. She is 3000 years old, has lived through and seen it all. With her help I was able to document the entire history of vampires; their lives, laws and lifestyles. Together, Bektamun and I had written ‘Vampires Revealed’.

Falling back on my experience of writing for newspaper the initial version was somewhat brief, but I gave it to a friend to read anyway. She devoured it and vehemently demanded MORE!

From the humble beginnings of wanting only to answer my own questions, Vampires Revealed has evolved into a comprehensive and unique piece of work. It is best described as an autobiographical, mocumentary expose, written from the perspective of a 3000 year old vampire.

“Leave behind your preconceived ideas, forget the horror stories and disregard everything you think you know about vampires.  Never before have humans had and an opportunity such as this.  To know the unadulterated truth, for every question you may have ever had about vampires to be answered.”

I now find myself completely drawn in to the world shown to me by Bektamun and look forward to exploring it with my future works. Writing Vampires Revealed has given me enormous pleasure, I sincerely hope you gain as much pleasure from reading it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Review of Into the Dark, Desolate Night by John Darling

Does it make me some kind of a crazy guy that I love detective fiction more than any other kind, despite the fact that I write almost exclusively about academic subjects and (when I can) literary fiction?  Let me tell you something.    I love them all, the big-brained Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe types out there; the hard hitting Sam Spades, the sweet and innocent Miss Marples--I could go on and on. There's nothing quite as good as a story with a broken or semi-broken detective peering into the darkest reaches of humanity to get to the truth.  I just read a great Ed Mcbain pulp novel and tore through a John MacDonald the other day.  I love them.  Have I mentioned that?

I love detective Anderson, too.  John Darling has created a great character with plenty of flaws and plenty of smarts.  I love the detective cliche's that make the stories brilliant when they're used right or stupid when they're used poorly.  In Darling's case, it's all done right.  Of course Anderson hates partners.  Of course Anderson is more interested in justice dispensed by gun barrels than by judges.  God!  The pulp in these stories is so thick it makes the thickest, richest orange juice seem thin as hell.

I loved this book.  Maybe I'm an easy target.  Who knows?  Still, the stories are great and the characters, if standard and typical for the genre, are wonderful.  I love the resolutions to the mysteries involved.  Even if they're straight out of the genre handbook, they're great.  Look at this exchange from the story "Sucker Punch."

“You killed her for candy?” replied a shocked Owens.
“Oh, candy, cakes, cookies, fudge, and all. All the good stuff in life,” she said, her voice starting to take on a sing-song crazy edge again, “I don‟t know what that silly woman had against it, I just love it all to pieces myself.”

Who comes up with that kind of cool stuff?  John Darling does.  Pick up the book.  It's ten great stories and three hundred and fifty pages of pure detective fun.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Interview with John Darling

I had an opportunity to get to know John Darling a bit.  Read what he has to say, and I think you'll like him.

Do you write full time or part time, and how do you manage it?

I write part-time.  Most of the time I write in the early morning when the world is quiet and my mind is fresh from a brief night’s sleep (I rarely sleep more than 5 hours).

I understand we can thank tattoos for your latest book.  Tell us about it.

I had never written a mystery before, since romance was my strong suit, but one night I was sitting in a bar talking to a friend of mine who worked there when a lady sat down next to me.  Her clothing left very little to the imagination, so when she asked me if I wanted to see her “tats”, I almost said that I could already see them.  But before I could do that, I realized that she did not say the word I thought she said, so I said “Okay”, not knowing what to expect.  She then went into an explanation of each of her many tattoos, which got a chuckle from my friend since the lady was a regular flake in the bar.  After an hour, I thought, what if I was someone who hated tattoos?  What would I do?  And that is how the first Detective Anderson mystery, entitled Tat, came to be. Since then I have written 9 more stories which I assembled into a book.

Was it difficult to write in the mystery genre?

I found it quite easy even though I had never written one before Tat.  I was more amazed when the first magazine I sent it to wanted to buy it.  The editor said he loved every aspect of Tat.  It was the editor that gave me the idea to write more stories about Detective Anderson.  Since I decided to turn the stories into a book, I had to, reluctantly, withdraw my submission to the magazine.  Pulp Empire is a great place to send work if you write in this genre.

Tell us about your character Detective Anderson.  Is there any of you in him?  Someone else, maybe?

I am Anderson.  I guess I always have been since I have always been one who could figure out what happened or how to do things.  My strongest suit is solving problems and every crime is a problem until you find out whodunit.

You chose a collection of short stories rather than a novel.  Why?

I have never attempted a novel.  Short fiction is what I do best.  The third story in my book, Into the Dark Desolate Night, is called Images and at over 13,000 words, it is the longest story I have ever written.  My excuse is that I can’t keep a thought in my head long enough to write a novel.

Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

I have labeled my book, Into the Dark Desolate Night, as Volume 1 of The Detective Anderson Mysteries so look for more from him.  I am working on his next case now called The Talking Dead

What inspired you to be a writer?

I have always been a great story teller.  People have told me that they like to listen to me tell a tale because I often act out the characters I am talking about—real or imagined—so one thing just lead to another.

Tell us about the hardest challenge you had to overcome in writing?

I started writing before computers arrived on the scene and at the time I started, I was such a poor typist, that I almost gave up the craft.  Then along came word processing which saved me!

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write what you feel, not just necessarily what you know.  Anything can be researched on the Internet nowadays.  Also, base your characters on real people that you know, it makes it easier to bring them to life.  In two of my stories that are back to back in my book, I base the older character on a late friend of mine (who died at the ripe old age of 102).  I even used his middle and last name for the character names.  In Tat, victim #7 is based on a female bartender that works in the place where this all started.  She wasn’t crazy about being dead in the story, but she was happy that I included her.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

Kurt Vonnegut.  He is as weird as I am and I blame him for my screwed up personality, especially his seminal book, The Sirens of Titan, which taught me that we are all just puppets to a superior being—whomever you think that is.    John Grisham, is my favorite living author even though he won’t answer my emails. 

How did you deal with rejection letters?

I read them, then toss them, and move on.  They are just part of the game.  The bestselling novel and #1 movie in the country is The Help.  That was rejected countless times until someone saw the marketability of it.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

I learned Cockney.  In my book, Woman in Black, (which is another collection of short stories available on the title character travelled through time to deal with a pesky alien named Jack the Ripper.  So she would fit in with the criminal elements she would be dealing with, she had to learn Cockney, which means I had to learn it.