December 20, 2014

99 Cent Holiday Sale

The Christmas holiday season is my favorite time of year, and to celebrate it, I'm letting all of you readers buy my books for 99 cents or less on Amazon! That's right. Every one of my books will be on sale for 99 cents or free on Amazon from now until the new year!

99 CENTS (novels):

George and the
Galactic Games
In the Hands of
New Eden

Keep Your
Enemies Close

FREE (short story):

FREE (short story anthologies):
Through a
Tangled Wood
Celestial Stories on the Go

Happy holidays!

December 13, 2014

The Benders and an interview with Katie French

I read the first book of Katie French's The Breeders series in early 2013 and it became one of my favorites of the year. Then I read book 2 in January of 2014 and loved it as well. I'm excited to announce that the third book in the series, The Benders, is now available on Amazon! Katie has also graciously agreed to participate in an interview that you can find below.

The third book in the award-winning, best-selling dystopian series.

They’ve escaped the Breeders.

They’ve broken out of the Citadel.

Now, after all they’ve been through, Riley, Clay, and Ethan know one thing for sure: nothing tastes sweeter than freedom. And no one can rest easy with Auntie Bell in bondage. The group journeys home to rescue her and liberate Clay’s town from the cruel Warden. But when an ally betrays them, they must face the very enemy they’ve been trying to avoid.

Captured and separated, Riley is sold to a slave-owner who uses human beings for sport, while Clay and Ethan become the latest in a series of lab rats to be poked and prodded. As a slave, Riley conceals her identity to survive among the other benders, but it’s only a matter of time before a dangerous job takes her life. Clay and Ethan find themselves a war zone between a madwoman and marauders. And the odds don’t look good. 

You can buy a copy of The Benders on Amazon.

December 6, 2014

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

I finally participated in NaNoWriMo this year! It was quite an experience trying to write at least 50,000 words over the course of 30 days. To my amazement, I actually reached the 50K word count goal! However, it wasn't pretty, but NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality, right? So what did I learn from the experience?

It IS possible to write 50,000 words in a month.
I may have been selling myself short, but I honestly didn't plan on reaching the goal. Initially, I intended to just give it my best shot, and if I wrote 25,000 words by the end of November, that would have been twice as many words as I normally wrote in a month. Yet, as each day went by and I managed to stay close to the 1,667 words/day pace, it drove me to keep going at it. In the end, I wrote 50,043 words! The resulting manuscript wasn't pretty, but I proved to myself that I was capable of reaching that level of output if necessary.

I can't stop editing while I write.
I've often heard authors write quick first drafts because they don't filter their words. I've never been able to do that. Even with a first draft, I'll sit there and think of the best way to write a sentence or to craft a scene. With NaNoWriMo, I got better at just letting myself write. I had no choice because I didn't have time to edit as I wrote. The end result, however, was a manuscript that left me feeling very uneasy due to the quality of the first draft. I plan to go back to my edit-as-I-write style of first drafts as soon as I start penning my next book.

My NaNoWriMo manuscript sucks.
This is a natural outcome of having to write whatever comes to mind in order to reach the word count goal. Everything after the second week was pretty horrible and I knew it as I was writing it. I'm going to dread going back through and revising this manuscript. My guess is that I'll be spending the next several weeks, if not months, doing so.

Some preparation beforehand helps.
I went into NaNoWriMo having already done some research on the topic I was writing about. I also wrote an outline of the story's plot. This really helped because I didn't have to spend extra time asking myself "What comes next?" whenever I sat down to write.

I like writing a first draft with pen and paper better than on a computer.
With every novel I've written, the first draft was done with paper and pen. Then, I typed the whole manuscript into the computer, revising it along the way. With NaNoWriMo, I didn't have time to write and then type it again, so I wrote the first draft in MS Word. I prefer my old method because I find it easier to change things around on paper by drawing arrows, crossing things out, and writing in the margins. I can do the latter online as well, but it's just not the same to me. Also, it's more painful to carry my laptop everywhere than it is to carry a spiral notebook.

I'm glad it's over.
I had a great experience with NaNoWriMo. I was able to try new things that I hadn't before. However, I'm glad that it's over, and I can go back to how I wrote before. After all, one of the reasons why I chose the indie publishing route is that there aren't any external deadlines to meet. I can write at the pace I choose to. Will I participate in NaNoWriMo again? There's a fifty-fifty chance that I will. I like stretching myself occasionally to see what I can do. But I'm looking forward to eleven more months without the pressure to write 50,000 words a month.

November 29, 2014

Series finales and rankings

So many YA series that I've been following came to an end this year. Some were published last year, but I didn't read the final book until this year. Others released their last installments in 2014. It was a great year of series finales for me, but at the same time, I'm a little sad to say farewell to some of my favorites.

Without further ado, these are the series I finished in 2014, ranked by how much I enjoyed the overall series.

1. Series: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Books: Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, Flesh & Bone, Fire & Ash
I started reading the Rot & Ruin series in 2012, and the first three books all made yearly my top 10 lists. These are my favorite zombie books of all time and one of my favorite series ever.

2. Series: Razorland by Ann Aguirre
Books: Enclave, Outpost, Horde
This series kept getting better with every book. I liked Enclave, but I loved Outpost. It came in at #3 on my list of favorite reads of 2013. And guess what, Horde was even better!

3. Series: Newsflesh by Mira Grant
Books: Feed, Deadline, Blackout
How is it that my favorite series are all zombie-related? Who knows? It certainly wasn't intentional because I'm not that much of a zombie fan. Feed and Deadline both made my top 10 favorite reads lists in the years that I read them.

4. Series: Legend by Marie Lu
Books: Legend, Prodigy, Champion
Legend was my favorite book read in 2013. Then I read Prodigy and Champion in the first half of 2014, which is fairly quick for me in getting through a series. While I like Marie Lu's writing, the trilogy lost its way a little in book 2, but it ended on a strong note. Overall, a very satisfying series.

5. Series: Dust Lands by Moira Young
Books: Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart, Raging Star
I loved Blood Red Road, and it was my second most favorite read of 2012. The writing style of this series takes a little getting used to, but once I did, I was hooked. I think it's that style that lends a level of gritty emotion to this series that isn't often found in other YA books.

6. Series: Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Books: Unwind, UnWholly, UnSouled, Undivided
I loved the first book of the series. The concept was original and scary, and the story was gripping. UnWholly and UnSouled didn't measure up to Unwind (I partly blame the introduction of the dreaded love triangle for this), but the series ended with another great book in Undivided.

7. Series: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Books: Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, Into the Still Blue
Under the Never Sky was my #4 favorite read of 2012. The other two books in the series didn't quite live up to the first, but this was still a very good series overall.

8. Series: Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
Books: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising
The first two books in this trilogy were good, but the conclusion was great! It's one of the best series finale books I've read.

9. Series: Partials Sequence by Dan Wells
Books: Partials, Fragments, Ruins
Unlike the Grisha series, I enjoyed the first two books in the Partials Sequence, but the third book fell flat. The plot lines split into too many groups for me to easily follow, and the characters all started to annoy me to the point where I didn't care which side won or if they both died out. Not a good sign, and it made the ending a non-event for me.

10. Series: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Books: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant
Believe it or not, despite all of the hype over the Divergent movie and books this year, I never got into this series like many others did. Divergent was pretty good, but Insurgent suffered the sophomore slump, and Allegiant was somewhere in between the two. Also, count me among the readers who didn't like the ending. So much of what happened in this series didn't make sense and didn't need to happen the way it did, which is one of my biggest problems with it.

11. Series: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Books: Article 5, Breaking Point, Three
This was a series that was decent but never progressed beyond that. It had a very typical YA dystopian story line, and in some ways, that hurt it as the writing didn't wow me and it didn't offer anything original that wasn't already found in other books of the same genre. If I had to compare it to something, I'd label it as a poor man's Legend.

Although I don't anticipate next year to be as eventful, there's one series conclusion that I'm very much looking forward to... and dreading at the same time because I don't want to say good-bye.

Series: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Books: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter (to be released Feb 2015)
The Lunar Chronicles has become one of my all-time favorite series. The first three books have all been fantastic. Even as new characters are introduced, Marissa Meyer has done a wonderful job of keeping me engaged. I can't wait for Winter in 2015!

November 22, 2014

Reading Outside the Box recap

In January, I set out to read a book for each square in the Reading Outside the Box challenge. Surprisingly, with a month to spare, I managed to finish it!

This was a fun challenge to undertake. I read some categories that I usually never read, like Romance, where I was pleasantly surprised by the book I chose, Star Struck by Jamie Campbell. Of the 25 books I read as part of the challenge, I rated 6 of them as 5-stars, 13 as 4-stars, and 6 as 3-stars.

My three favorites (in order of date read) were:
(Yes, two of the three are indie books!)

As promised, I also posted a review for each book that I read. Here are the links to each review. The number in parenthesis was my rating.

November 15, 2014

Book review: Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George

Buy from Amazon
Buy from B&N

On ship-tracking websites, the waters are black with dots. Each dot is a ship; each ship is laden with boxes; each box is laden with goods. In postindustrial economies, we no longer produce but buy. We buy, so we must ship. Without shipping there would be no clothes, food, paper, or fuel. Without all those dots, the world would not work.

Freight shipping has been no less revolutionary than the printing press or the Internet, yet it is all but invisible. Away from public scrutiny, shipping revels in suspect practices, dubious operators, and a shady system of “flags of convenience.” Infesting our waters, poisoning our air, and a prime culprit of acoustic pollution, shipping is environmentally indefensible. And then there are the pirates.

Rose George, acclaimed chronicler of what we would rather ignore, sails from Rotterdam to Suez to Singapore on ships the length of football fields and the height of Niagara Falls; she patrols the Indian Ocean with an anti-piracy task force; she joins seafaring chaplains, and investigates the harm that ships inflict on endangered whales.

Sharply informative and entertaining, Ninety Percent of Everything reveals the workings and perils of an unseen world that holds the key to our economy, our environment, and our very civilization.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

November 11, 2014

Happy birthday to George and the Galactic Games

It's hard to believe that three years ago, I published my first novel, George and the Galactic Games. At the time, I had only written short stories and didn't know if I could write a full-length novel. It turns out that I can because, after George and the Galactic Games, I wrote four more!

To celebrate the book's third book birthday, I've discounted the price to 99 cents! I don't know yet how long I'll keep it at that price, so get it while it's on sale.

Buy it from Amazon
Buy it from Smashwords