June 20, 2015

Book review: Love Songs by Jamie Campbell

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Sixteen year old Kaley Thorne is invisible. Or she may as well be anyway. All her emotions, thoughts, and dramas go into her secret songbook. Music is her passion, her escape, and her hidden talent. Her songbook is her diary, singing everything she is too shy to speak.

When the most popular guy in school actually sees her and invites her on a date, the experiences she has to write about skyrocket. First love, first kiss, and first heartbreak, everything is funnelled into her songs.

For this songwriter, life is nothing but fodder for her music. As she rides the rollercoaster of her teens, the shy and invisible girl must find her inner diva. Only when she can find her voice, can she finally speak.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

June 13, 2015

Execution over idea (or, I thought it would get easier by now)

There's a notion in the tech startup world that execution is more important than ideas. I happen to agree with that because anyone can have an idea, but what separates the successful companies from the unsuccessful ones often lie in their ability to execute on the idea. Can the engineers build the product in a timely manner? Can the salespeople sell the product? Can the operations group fulfill delivery of the product once customers buy it?

The same notion holds true with writing. Story ideas are a dime a dozen. I have a notebook of story ideas to prove it. I'm sure you have lots of great ideas too, as do many people who've never written a book. But obviously, not every idea turns into a book, or most of the people in the world would be authors.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1jK8Wjg

This point was driven home to me lately because, for the past few months, I've been working on the first draft of my sixth novel. You'd think that by now, writing a novel would have gotten easier for me. Not so! This might have been the most difficult first draft that I've ever written. The story idea seemed awesome when I first set out to write it (and I still like the premise very much), but the idea introduced a restriction that I wasn't aware of in the beginning. I won't reveal what that restriction is because it would spoil the story, but it's caused me a ton of headaches during the course of writing the manuscript.

I'm confident that I'll eventually whip this story into shape, but the experience just reminds me that a great idea does not equal a great book without the execution and hard work to back it up. Stories don't write themselves, no matter how many novels you've already written!

June 6, 2015

When the show is better than the book - Game of Thrones

In January, I wrote a post with some examples of when a book isn't better than the movie. At the time, I couldn't think of any cases where I disliked the book but really liked the screen adaptation. There is one now.

I know I'm late to watching Games of Thrones. Part of the reason I haven't seen the show before now is that I don't watch much TV and I don't get HBO, so the chances of my catching anything on that channel is virtually nonexistent. Even when episodes became available on Netflix, I resisted the urge to watch it despite all of the good reviews I heard because I didn't like the books. I thought the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, was average at best. Then I read the second book, A Clash of Kings, and it took me a long time to painfully wade through it. I couldn't understand why so many readers loved the series, so it made me wary of the TV show as well.

It turns out that I needn't have worried. The screen adaptation of George R.R. Martin's series is vastly more enjoyable than his books. Something about the books made me view the story as a one-dimensional never-ending soap opera, but once I saw the world of Westeros on the screen, it came alive for me. Characters who I didn't care for in the book were suddenly more interesting. Plot lines that were confusing or boring became intriguing.

I'm still only on season 1 of the TV series, but I'm enjoying it so much that I plan to continue. As for the books, there's a chance that I'll go back and re-read the series from the beginning now that I have a more favorable picture in my mind. Maybe this time, I'll make it past book two.

May 30, 2015

Book review: Lake Ephemeral by Anya Allyn

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Six children without memories of their early years can never leave the valley that gave them life.

Seven manors surround Lake Ephemeral, and their residents are hiding terrifying secrets. Seraphin Ferón was first brought to the valley of Lake Ephemeral as an eleven-year-old orphan, to meet a mother she'd never known she had. But before Seraphin arrives, her mother falls ill with a mysterious illness and is kept locked away in the attic.

After Seraphin arrives, she discovers that the vast estate is plagued by an exotic, massive species of carnivorous plant—named the Coffin Flower, capable of consuming humans.

No one can answer Seraphin the riddle of why the residents stay at Lake Ephemeral year after year or why no one ever leaves. She decides, at all costs, to find her way into the attic and finally meet her mother. In the events that follow, Seraphin will be propelled into a horrifying new existence.

Teen science fiction for all ages. A group of scientists, a hidden valley, mystery, carnivorous plants, genetic experiments and thrilling adventure. Contains love and romance scenes that might not be suitable for ages under 14.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

May 16, 2015

Transmissions release announcement

I'm pleased to announce the release of my latest book, Transmissions! This is a novella that is a little different from the usual science fiction/fantasy stories that I write. Since I first heard of numbers stations from watching Lost, I've been fascinated by these strange transmissions, and what better way was there to feed my curiosity than to research the heck out of the topic for a story? I hope you enjoy reading Transmission as much as I enjoyed writing it!

You can purchase Transmissions for just 99 cents from:

Using an old radio that he inherited from his grandfather, Charlie picks up unusual transmissions on a shortwave frequency. Every morning and every evening, a woman’s deep, monotonous voice recites a series of seemingly random numbers. The numbers change every day, and Charlie can’t figure out what they mean.

Enlisting the help of his best friend, Jenny, Charlie tries to unravel the mystery behind the messages. However, the more that he and Jenny dig into the significance of the transmissions, the more that Charlie realizes he has a bigger problem on his hands. 

May 9, 2015

99 cent sale!

Call me crazy (you wouldn't be the first), but this week, ALL of my books will be on sale for 99 cents or free on Amazon! That's right, every single book that I've ever published, even my most recent novels, will be discounted down to less than a dollar. Now is as good a time as any to try one of my books. The sale ends on May 16, so don't delay!

99 CENTS (novels):

FREE (short story):

99 CENTS (short stories):

FREE (short story anthologies):

May 2, 2015

Standing up

About two months ago, I switched to using a standing desk at my day job. I had read about the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. It's bad for your neck, shoulder, and back. It poses health risks that can shorten your life. On and on. Having spent my whole life sitting, first in school and then in the workplace, I wanted to make a change. After all, I'm not getting any younger.

My first week with a standing desk took some getting used to. Part of it was logistical because I was still trying to figure out how to get to everything on my desk that I need. My feet or knees would also get sore from standing all day. Eventually, I resolved both issues. When I start to get tired from standing, I take a walk to get a drink or to use the restroom. I'm often forced to walk anyway to go to a meeting (where I wind up sitting for half an hour or an hour anyway). Yes, exercising can make you less tired. Something about stretching your muscles and loosening your joints, I'm sure.

Two months in, I really like standing while I'm working. Not only is it supposed to be better for my health, but it's supposed to help me think. I've also lost a couple of pounds that I can attribute to standing! If you haven't tried it before, spend a few minutes each day standing up while working. You don't need a fancy standing desk. When I'm at home, I stand up with my laptop on the kitchen counter or some other surface that's at a good height. Once you start standing, you'll wonder why you've been sitting for all these years.