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

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.

Abscess2

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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Mother Nature’s Final Exam

Mother Nature’s Final Exam Mother Nature Cover

A new short story from me.

Death, the ultimate of headmasters, has a test for Mother Nature. If she passes she will finally get that finally piece to her project, but if she fails it could mean the end to all life in the system.

Nature stood, her arms to her sides, on the edge of the eternal field high above creation and waited. This was the third time in a month she had been called here and she was getting pretty darn tired of it. It was not like she had all the time in the world. She really did have things to do, papers to write, undergrad tests to grade and articles that her colleagues were begging her to read and get back to them about. It seemed unfair that she had to keep coming out here.

Pick up a copy of it today:
Smashwords Amazon KOBO

If you send me the receipt from this book I will send you a code to get one of my other stories for Free.

The Sinner’s Guide To Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher – A Review

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family PlanningThe Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Sinners Guide to Natural Family Planning By Simcha Fisher.

This book came highly recommended, so when one more person recommended it to me, I decided that it was time to get a copy. Well actually two copies, since the deal right now is if you buy the hard copy you get the kindle version for free. That worked out really well since my wife prefers hard copy and I prefer e-copy.

I should start this review by saying my wife and I have been practicing NFP for more than 14 years, and we have been teaching it for just over 13 years. So while I was excited about reading this book, we have some experience in helping people who have questions about the why’s and the where’s and the hows of NFP. We have heard many of the complaints, promises and hype about it. We have lived a lot of the pains and joys of it as well. And in the last few years we have gotten rather tired and probably jaded by all of the sunshine and unicorns side that you see most of the time.

This book, is not one of those sunshine and rainbows, puppies and kittens. Well maybe it is because, as anyone who has ever had a puppy or a kitten will tell you, that while they are super cute and there are some great benefits to having one, they can also be a pain. Ruined floors and furniture, torn up shoes, walks in the middle of the night that and unexpected puddle that gets your socks wet right after you turn the lights off.

So on with the review. This books starts with a disclaimer. This book will not teach you NFP. It will not tell you about all the different methods, it will not even tout one version of NFP over all the others. It won’t tell you about the dangers of using artificial birth control. So if that is what you are looking for, this is not the book for you.

After the disclaimer, the first few chapters are about the realities of living with NFP. Why you might choose it, and some of the common arguments. And I enjoyed reading about them. Even though I knew it was the case already it was good to hear that other people struggle with using NFP as well. The chapters on why, biologically speaking, the struggle can be so darn hard was especially nice to see.

For a long time my wife and I called ourselves the NFP dropouts. After reading this book, the title no longer seems all that appropriate. While my wife says she already kind of knew this, believe it or not, outside of class, guys really don’t talk about these things. So it was nice to see that there are other couples out there that are just as much “dropouts” as we are.

I have only given this book three stars. And all three stars are for the first half to two thirds of this book. the last third of the book deals with, well, it deals with sex. Ok NFP is about sex. Not entirely, a good portion of what NFP is about is learning to listen to and interpret your wife’s body, in order to help prevent or to achieve a pregnancy. But that is just a start. NFP is about respect and love and intimacy that extends way beyond the bedroom.

While I suppose it was good information to get out there, and as one of the reviewers pointed out, that normally you would only find this kind of information in a very intimate conversation with a close friend, some times it would be good to keep more of that information to those close intimate conversations.

I am a prude. I will admit it. But, I am a prude who is willing to talk about just about anything in a one on one conversation. We have had couples ask us some of the questions that were handled in the last third of this book. So it is not that the subjects are “off limits” or something. The problem I had with this section of the book, was that it was no longer a close personal intimate conversation. If I had not been laying on the bed right next to my wife, I would have been really uncomfortable reading this. After all, if I were talking about this kind of stuff, I would have her there with me, so if I were reading it I would need to be sitting right next to her, even with that, I was glad she finished the book before me so that she knew what it was that I was reading. To say it made me uncomfortable would be an understatement. While I know there are those that would disagree with me, I feel that some conversations are best left to intimate situations when both the husband and wife are involved. So while I appreciate the effort Mrs. Fisher made in getting this information out, I kind of wish she hadn’t. As it stands by the time I was finished with this section of the book, I was soured on the whole thing, and really had to try hard to put my feelings aside to write anything positive about the book at all.

My last comment on this book is this. Who am I to say one person’s writing style is better or worse than another. So I want to make it clear that, that is not what I am saying. I know that Simcha has a very personal and rather informal style of writing. I do like her style for most of the things that she writes, but some things require a more formal style. I think if some of the subjects that I found uncomfortable were written with a less irreverent and a more formal style they would have been easier to deal with.

If you are struggling with NFP and feel like you are all alone out there, and if all you are hearing from the people around you is the puppies and rainbows side of it, this is likely a great book for you. If you have been using NFP for long enough that you know that it is a struggle and that there are other people out there like you, this book might be just more of what you already know. At best it will be an affirmation, at worse it will make you uncomfortable if your not reading it with your spouse.

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Since you know what I think about it, and you know my wife read it as well, here is her review.

Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master’s Choice – A Review

Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master's Choice (Short Story)Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master’s Choice by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this short look into the background of a character that I thought was long gone. While the story does not tie directly into the rest of the Shannara line, it does help you to understand who the Weapon’s Master really is, and why he is willing to do some of the things that he does. Not all of them mind you, but some of them.

Great job Mr. Brooks. I would love to see more stories like this one on some of the other characters.

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