The Fountain Has been Shortlisted

Evil Alter Ego Press is pleased to announce, Suzy Vadori’s debut Young Adult Novel, The Fountain, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Prix Aurora Award. A short blurb about the book: Ava Marshall, dr…

Source: The Fountain Has been Shortlisted

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Timelines in Star Trek

I have many thoughts about the various timelines in Star Trek. Really, if you know me, I have many thoughts about Star Trek in general but let’s stick to the topic at hand.

There is a lot to be said for the new timeline that was created by J. J. Abrams. It is a fresh new look at Star Trek that allows new actors to play the parts of our beloved characters. And that can be a really good thing. Not only that, but the new, young actors, and fresh stories allows a new younger generation of viewers to enjoy Star Trek without having to watch the hundreds and hundreds of hours of shows, and 10 previous movies, just know what is going on.

Having said that, I think one of the problems with this new timeline and the new movies, thus far, is that they live in a universe where great things have happened. In another timeline. For other people. With other histories. So while there are a lot things that are similar and there probably is a rich history behind it. We don’t really know what it is.

In a very similar way to the sets in TOS (The Original Series) the new movies feel like a movie set. Everything looks great, it looks all futuristic and fancy, so fancy that it hurts your eyes to look at it. But you know that if you look behind that rock, If you lift up that PADD, or open that door, what you are going to find is an empty parking lot, a painted cereal box, or the outside of the set. TOS_2x10_MirrorMirror0002-Trekpulse[1]

While when we watched TOS, we were willing to forgive the sets and props, these new stories feel artificial. Yes, I have seen the articles that say, if you are going to complain about the new movies, go watch TOS and then come back. And I hear that. I understand what they are saying. I really do. There were many episodes of TOS / TNG / DS9 / Voyager and Enterprise that were very rough. That is true of pretty much any series. I want to make it clear that I am not saying that the new movies were terrible, or that they should not be watched, or even that they were not really Star Trek. (I have other comments about their of story telling choices but that is another discussion) What I am saying is simply this. Right now they feel hollow.

USS_Enterprise-B_in_drydock

USS_Enterprise-C

Enterprise_NX-01

They feel hollow because, while there are in the Star Trek universe, they also aren’t in Star Trek Universe, and because of that, they don’t have all the history built through the previous series. The fans who have spent the time watching all the original timeline series and movies are expecting that fullness, that history and it isn’t there. Right now, that makes them feel hollow.

There is hope for the future. The new Star Trek series is supposed to be set in this, new timeline, and that should help with some of the hollowness. The hope is, just like every successive Star Trek series and movie looked and felt more put together, more full and ultimately more like a full universe, that as this new series and the new movie come out, they will add the the richness of this new time line. That once that have started to fill in this new timeline with new stories, we won’t all be looking for the timeline restoration device. AT least not as much any more.

images from Trekcore.com and Memory Alpha

The REAL Reason I Failed to Properly Edit my First Novel – Guest Post

Today please welcome Carrie Bailey AKA PeevishPenman, to talk about her experiences in publishing her first novel. She an author and fellow Star Trek fan so she will fit right in here.

The REAL Reason I Failed to Properly Edit my First Novel

Eron_Smashwords_CoverI’m going to share my experience publishing my first novel without hiring an editor, but first, a confession. Star Trek. I love it.

I bet in the Star Trek universe computers proofread novels in less than five minutes and since they don’t use money anymore, people write for the sake of art, entertainment and self-expression alone. It’s a world where I would love to be an author. I remember watching how, in the later series, major characters became journalists and holonovel writers. They didn’t consider indie versus traditional publishing. They just wrote. Gave it to the right person. And then dealt with the legal or emotional aspects of being successful career writers.

Maybe I was watching too much Netflix when I finished my first science fiction novel, but I jumped to warp speed to get it published, blasting through the final stages of its development. At the time, I thought I had good reasons.

Just after keying “the end,” metaphorically speaking, I asked around on Twitter for beta readers and emailed 8 copies to the 4 women and 4 men who responded. I made the cover while I waited. Then, when I got feedback on the cover, I waited some more for the beta readers. By the end of the month, five of the beta readers sent me their feedback, which was both positive and encouraging. So, I did a quick pass over the manuscript to correct the spelling and started formatting the ebook.

Bracing myself mentally to cope with possibility of humiliating failure, I uploaded it to Smashwords and Amazon within a week. It’s true. I spent five years creating the world for the novel and its characters and their cultures. Pages of notes outline their histories, their laws and their traditions. Why did I not invest in an editor?

1381895I have excuses. My older sister had always proofread my work, but we had falling out some months before I finished my book and part of me didn’t want anyone else to take on that role in the writing process. And I couldn’t do it myself. And I couldn’t afford to pay someone else. And no one would really mind, right?

Readers mind bad proofreading, even beta readers.

Two of the beta readers came to me after I published the book afraid I might end our friendship when I heard what they had to say. I’d given them copies with no edits and explained so at the time, but for them, the spelling errors had been so distracting, they couldn’t get very far. While the final copy of the book has less of those issues, I’ve had other people comment to me that it felt like reading an excellent draft.

The most common reviews are a similar combination of delight and disappointment. They loved the book. They want to read more in the series, but they want to know why didn’t I take the time to get it edited properly when everything else was done so well. After some time and a lot of consideration, I know the real answer.

I wanted something to blame if readers didn’t like it.

Print_CoverI’m often mystified by writers who publish their books with poor cover art, but in my own way, I am guilty of sabotaging myself in much the same way as someone who slaps text on grainy photo of a distant sunset. Of course, as an artist, I found it easy to make a passable cover for my own book. So, I’m not in that camp of sad writers. But, I’ve never been a perfectionist and spelling, specifically, is one of my weaknesses. I’m in that camp. Also, I like to start sentences with conjunctions just to rebel against our arbitrary conventions. But, there is a HUGE difference between consistent style choices and errors in the text.

In not collaborating with a second and more professional set of eyes, I produced a good novel with some faults that detract from the reader’s enjoyment. And I did it, because I wanted to safeguard myself from the harsh criticism that professionals endure. I didn’t want to look too professional. I wanted to look amateur so that more of my shortcomings might be overlooked. People can be very generous with amateurs in a way they won’t be with professionals. I was a being a coward.

Although in the world of Star Trek, writers can follow a straight line from inspiration to finished product, real writers confront less glamorous, more personal barriers to being successful. I believe at some point during our development every writer will engage in some random self-sabotaging behavior and make pitiful excuses for doing so that only they will believe.

And when we find ourselves in that position and recognize the problem for what it is, we need the courage to seek help or advice. We need beta readers. We need editors. We need cover artists. We need people who can do print and digital formatting well. Some of us may dabble in a little of everything, but most of us will have to collaborate with other people, because they have skills we lack. Even when money is an issue, we can still usually find someone willing to trade a service we do better for a service they do better.

Readers always deserve the best possible experience we can offer them as writers without exception and without excuses.

Carrie Bailey @PeevishPenman is the author of The Ishim Underground, a New Zealand post-apocalyptic adventure. She is an active coffee drinker and conversationalist who enjoys painting, staging one woman invasions of random countries and writing her author bio in third person.

Scouts of the Apocalypse: Zombie Plague – A Review

Scouts of the Apocalypse: Zombie PlagueScouts of the Apocalypse: Zombie Plague by Michell Plested
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zombie here, Zombies there, zombies everywhere, and not a scout in sight. Having read this book, that I think would be the scariest thing I could think of.

This part, high adventure, the part campfire story, part traditional zombie story kept turning pages long into the night, and looking over my shoulder the whole time. I kept promising myself I would put it down at the end of “this” only to find myself reading on and on.

Follow Scouter Mike and his troop of scouts and they return from their practice survival training only to find themselves in a world gone mad where their training might be the only thing that keeps them alive.

Though this book is a tradition zombie tale with all that that entails, it is still BSA / venture scout age appropriate. It is definitely something that will be sharing with my scouting age kids.

While I am not normally a fan of zombie / scary stories, Mr. Plested’s easy narrative style won me over and helped me along until I was so hooked I could not put it down.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with any scouting experience, as well as any one who loves a good scary campfire story.

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Dimensional Abscesses Giveaway Contest

Abscess2

If you have been living under a rock, like have for the last month, you might have missed that Michell Plested and I have released a new book. Dimensional Abscesses is a collection of short stories about places you don’t want to go. The stories range from time travel, to other planets, to hell and back, and of course down on the farm.

I am very excited about this book. Not only is it really a great book, but Michell and I have worked very hard on it, and it is the first book that we are releasing in our new imprint, Evil Alter Ego Press. For these reasons and many more, I want to get it into as many people’s hands as possible. So without further delay…

I am giving away 5 Ebook copies of Dimensional Abscesses: Portals to Places You Don’t Want To Go.

What do you have to win?

Simple. Leave a comment below before June 5th, with a place (real or fictional) you would not want to go and I will pick my 5 favorites.

And of course sharing the contest with your friends will make it more fun. So please, Tweet, Post and Plus it to your heart’s desire.

Dimensional Abscesses

I am very excited to share the cover of our new anthology.

This has turned out pretty darn well.

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Thank you to Jeff Minkevics for the wonderful cover.

Great Britain at War – A Review

11150498[1]If you have been reading this blog for some time you know I am a real sucker for history. I really get into it, when I start learning about a time period I find myself sucking up as much knowledge from as many sources as I can. So when I finished Dan Carlin’s latest episode on World War I I was itching to get more.

I found my self at podiobooks.com and stumbled on Great Britain at War. This is a straight read of this book, which in itself is a collection of articles written by Jeffery Farnol. The narrator did a great job getting into the feeling of the articles, and the articles themselves are incredibly powerful and eye opening as the cover the time leading up to the war to nearly at the end. This would be a great resource for first hand material for teaching about this very difficult time in history.

I recommend this book, which you can get here for free on kindle or the podacast version of it which you can get here for free from podiobooks.com

I never really thought of podiobooks as a place to look for history, books and they don’t have a huge selection, but what they do have, I will certainly be checking out in the future.

Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective – A Review

Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy's PerspectiveShooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective by Philip Carroll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Philip Carroll Does it again. In Shooting Stars he takes a genre that I don’t normally like or even read, and made me really enjoy this story. And now on with the review.

Being a teenager is hard, really hard. Add to that, moving to a new school, and joining a sports team. Jocks and Cliques that you don’t have a chance of understanding unless you have lived in a place all your life. And don’t get me started on the girls. Chuck has all of these problems and more when he moves to his new school from Washington State. He discovers that not only does he have to deal with all the normal problems of moving to a new school but he has accidentally stepped into the middle of a battle ground on a higher plain.

When his new girl friend Kelsey, turns out to be more than he excepted he finds him self in the middle of a battle that nothing he has ever experienced can prepare him for. He will need everything he has and more if he hopes to get out of this one live.

Part of me wonders if I like this book so much because I was Chuck growing up. I moved to a new school in high school, joined the Cross Country team, did well, and met the girl of my dreams only to have her turn out to be so much more than I thought she was. My girl friend (and now wife) didn’t end up having magical powers or anything but still she was special. But I think that it is more that Chuck’s story is one that a lot of teen aged guys can relate to.

In Shooting Stars : A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective Mr. Carroll gives us an engaging story. More than that, he gives us real characters who you can relate to. They have hopes and dreams, and he drags you down, some times kicking and screaming, into their lives. At one point I found myself yelling at the book, “Oh no Chuck that is such a bad idea!” I really cared about these people, and when the book ended I was really sad that I could not continue to be friends with them.

Mr Carroll does not glorify the demonic forces that are vampires but instead exposes their true ugly nature, and the forces required to do battle with them. This to me was a huge deal, and for a teen aged romance involving vampires it was a breath of fresh air.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Philip Carroll for some time, I follow him on social media and I consider him a friend. I was given a Beta copy of an early version of this book and an advanced readers copy (ARC) of the book and enjoyed both immensely. While I probably would not have picked up this book normally because as I said I don’t normally read this genre, Philip has opened my eyes. If you have any doubt, I am going to buy copies for each of my teen aged boys so that they can read it.

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Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age – A Review

Flypaper Boy: Coming of AgeFlypaper Boy: Coming of Age by Philip Carroll

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Flypaper Boy thinks his super power is lame. I mean really, what can a superhero do when his super power is sticking to things until someone comes along with some nail polish remover to free him. That is until he is kidnapped by bad guys and is forced to become a super villain. What is a good guy to do, when he has to use his powers for the forces of evil?

Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age follows Jimmy Wheeler AKA Flypaper Boy on his first real adventure. This is a superhero book. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am really not that much of a super hero fan, but this book caught my attention and held it.

High school can be hard enough if you are different, harder still if you have to move to a new school. Through it all FlyPaper boy manages to keep his cool, remember his mission and stay true to his moral code.

Let’s be honest here, Jim Wheeler is a teenaged boy, and he is surrounded by teenaged girls. He is going to notice them. He is going have feelings for some of them. But all the while he manages keep a lid on his hormones and and stick to his moral code, not only for being a hero, but also for being a human. That is one of my favorite parts of the book. Multiple times he is presented with opportunities where he could have taken advantage of the situation, and yet he never does.

This book is not so much about being a super hero, probably why I liked it despite my normal aversion to comic book superheroes, and much more about being a kid in a tough situation, trying to find his way through who happens to have super powers.

Mr. Carroll did a wonderful job, grabbing my attention and keeping it. His characters have depth, they have flaws, and they have to live life the best way they know how. I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to sharing it with my kids.

A Note for parents: If you are looking for a good book to start the school year with, this is a good one. It is certainly safe for middle grade readers though probably older ones will appreciate it more. If they are still in the eeew boys / girls are yucky stage they might want to wait another year or two. And the book is aimed more at boys than girls, though I think girls will like it too.

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Mik Murdock: The Power Within – A Review

Mik Murdoch The Power WithinMik Murdoch The Power Within by Michell Plested
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The in interest of full disclosure Michell Plested is a good friend of mine and a co-edit on a couple of projects we have worked on together, and I was given my Advanced Readers Copy in return for a fair and honest review. Though I would have gladly paid full price for the book having read the first one.

Warning there are mild spoilers of both book one and book two but nothing you can get over.
In this second book in the series Mik Murdoch Boy Super Hero continues in his efforts to protect his fair town of Cranberry Flats, but with his Super Hero Librarian Friend moved to the city and him left with only the hope of a super power to come, what is a boy to do? Well he could eat the berry given to him by the guardian, but who knows what will come of that. When troubles at school, his friends leaving town, and something weird going on with his health, his parents decide that a summer at the lake might just be the right thing for them all. When he bumps into his idol and gets a chance of a life time, the summer just gets more and more complicated.

If you read the first, book or even if you didn’t you will enjoy this book. While I loved the first book, this one is head and shoulders above it, Michell Plested has really grown as a writer and a story teller. Even though he is a year older now, Mik still relies on his parents and turns to them in times of trouble, far from the norm of most absent or brainless parents found in most YA novels.

While his super powers and what he discovers at the lake are a bit out there Mik himself is truly down to Earth. He has every day concerns, his Dog Krypto, his dad who has to keep going back into town for work, and his mom who is a bit lonely out at the lake, not to mention some pesky creatures who keep messing with them, and girl near his own age in the cabin down the beach.

This book is a quick read, but just long enough to make it truly enjoyable, and just short enough to leave you wanting more.

I am still reading it to my kids (one chapter a night) and they are always asking for more.

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