August 29, 2015

Book review: The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack

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After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light—two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.

Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena’s plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.

These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena’s home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself “the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.” A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.

But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever… and perhaps their world as well.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

August 22, 2015

End of Summer 99 Cent Sale!

Summer is almost over, so let's celebrate it with a big sale! During the next week, you can download my e-books for 99 cents or less on Amazon. Don't delay. Get your e-books before the sale ends on August 30!

99 CENTS (novels):

George and the
Galactic Games
In the Hands of
New Eden
Keep Your
Enemies Close

FREE (short story):

99 CENTS (novellas and short stories):
Protect Search Transmissions A House in
the Woods

August 8, 2015

The Brothers (The Breeders 4)

I'm happy to announce the release of the fourth book of the Breeders series, The Brothers. I love the series so far, and I gave every book a 5-star (out of 5) rating. The Breeders was one of my favorite reads of 2013. You can also read my reviews of The Believers and The Benders.

“They tell me it’s for the good of humanity. That I’m saving our way of life with my body. They lie.”

Book Four in the award-winning, best-selling Breeders series.

Riley has survived madmen, deranged doctors, and false prophets. Her next task is uniting her family, which has been ripped apart by Nessa Vandewater, the Breeders’ enforcer. Her boyfriend Clay and brother Ethan are still missing. Only she can find them.

But on her way, Riley is stung by a scorpion. To ease her suffering, Auntie Bell shares the story of Riley’s mother, Janine, and how she escaped the Breeders.

Nearly twenty years in the past, Janine, an obedient Breeders girl, is nearing her seventeenth birthday, and the clock is ticking. She has two months to become pregnant, or she’ll be put out, sold into slavery ... or worse. When her doctor informs her she’s infertile, she’s devastated. But some doctors lie, and one in particular seems to want Janine for his own ...

You can purchase The Brothers from Amazon here.

August 1, 2015

Titles are hard

Believe it or not, coming up with the title of a story is one of the more difficult parts of the writing process for me. The point was driven home again recently when I finished writing a short story for an anthology that will be published later this year (more news on this exciting development as we near the launch date).

Like other authors, I have a working title in my head as I'm writing a story. In the case of the aforementioned short story, the working title was the wildly clever "Short Story for Anthology." Yes, my creativity astounds me too. The working title is just a name that I use to refer to the story because I have to call it something.

There are times when I think the working title will become the real title, as was the case with Beyond New Eden, whose working title was Adams and Eves. Eventually, I decided to change the name because Michael Grant released Eve and Adam a few months before my book became available, and some people had compared my prior novel to a Michael Grant book in the same genre. I didn't want to appear to be a Michael Grant copycat. (I'm not. And I read Eve and Adam. And it's nothing like Beyond New Eden.)

One-word titles tend to come easier to me. Gifted was the working title for the novel that now bears the same name. The same applies to Transmissions, although, truth be told, I really wanted to name that story something else but couldn't come up with a better title. The one-word name for my short story, "Drive," was more difficult to come up with, but once I did, the names for the next two installments in the series, "Protect" and "Search", came easily. I even know what the name of the fourth story in the series will be called, even though I haven't started writing it yet.

In addition to the recently finished short story, I'm working on a novel with an AI element to it. For most of the first draft, I called it The AI Novel. I have a better name for it now, and we'll see whether that sticks when I eventually publish the book.

July 25, 2015

Book review: [sic] by Scott Kelly

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Six teens are devoted to a game with one rule: If a player gets tagged, they must change their life within the next fifteen minutes. The better the player, the bigger the change. One might give their car away, or punch the school bully. Another might change identities or sacrifice their virginity. Anything to keep evolving, to avoid fitting into a label or caring about the junk they own. But their quest for enlightenment has taken a rotten final turn - one of the players has murdered the game's creator, the teen prophet (cult leader?) David Bloom.

Our narrator is being framed for the crime; can he clear his name and discover which of his lifelong friends is the murderer before he takes the fall?

[sic] is a gritty teen murder mystery that delves into the psychology of enlightenment among the criminally dysfunctional. It is a winner of WEBook's Page2Fame award and a cult classic among its thousands of teen fans on Wattpad, some of whom have actually applied Kelly's fictional game to their own lives.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

July 11, 2015

Farewell, Fortune Cookies

Yesterday, I unpublished With Five You Get Fortune Cookies*, a collection of short stories that I released early on in my career. Never read it or even heard of it? Don't worry, you're not the only one. It was my worst seller. In the three years since its release, the number of people who bought the book can be counted on two hands.

If you're reading this post, and you're now wondering what With Five You Get Fortune Cookies contained, don't worry. I've posted the first story from the collection, "Fortune Cookies", to Wattpad. In the coming weeks, I'll add the other stories in the collection.

* Yes, the title is a play on the 1968 film, With Six You Get Eggroll. There were five stories in my collection, and the first one was titled "Fortune Cookies." Get it?

July 4, 2015

The freedom of not having fans

Happy Independence Day to those of you in the U.S. or those who celebrate the holiday abroad! For everyone else, happy July 4, 2015, which should be celebrated because it's a weekend!

The holiday kind of snuck up on me because if I had planned things out beforehand, I would've come up with a blog post that ties into Independence Day. So now I'm left scrambling for a topic that's somewhat related. Fortunately (for me, not necessarily for you), I was already planning to blog about freedom in writing. The kind of freedom that many other authors don't have but I do. I'm talking about the freedom to write what you want to because you have very few or no fans.

Specifically, the freedoms that I currently enjoy include:
  1. The freedom to publish on my schedule. I try to write as often as I can. I'm pretty good about it on the weekends, but during the week, there are often days when I'm so exhausted from the day job and family commitments that my brain can't come up with any good words. Instead of stressing myself out, I choose not to write on those days. It does mean that it takes me months to finish a novel, but no one is clamoring for the next book. Having no fans means having no one to disappoint when your next novel won't come out until 2016.
  2. The freedom to write in the genre of my choice. So far, my stories have primarily fallen in the category of young adult speculative fiction. It happens to be my favorite genre to read, but I also enjoy thrillers, and I've been considering writing one soon. Some authors may feel restricted because their name is tied to one genre, and they don't want to confuse their fans by releasing books in another genre. (I've heard this more in the context of traditional publishers than indie authors.) When you have no fans, no one cares which genre you write in. Publishing books across genres may, in fact, be beneficial because you never know where you'll eventually find success. Maybe it'll be my thriller that takes off.
  3. The freedom not to write the next book in a series. My novels so far have all been standalone. I like writing them because I haven't had any brilliant ideas for a series. Fortunately, with no fans, there's no one asking me when book 2 is coming out. I can continue to write standalone novels or switch to writing a series if the inspiration strikes me. Or, if I'm in the middle of a series, I can choose to put it aside to work on something else because no one is waiting for the next book.
By no means am I suggesting that it's bad to have fans. However, if you're an unknown author like me, take heart in knowing that it's not all doom and gloom. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, use it on your BBQ chicken this 4th of July.