August 26, 2012

What next?

It's been two weeks since In the Hands of Children first became available for sale. What have I been doing since then? Kicking back and basking in my accomplishment? I wish!

First, I've been doing some marketing and promotion for the book. I suck at marketing and freely admit to it. So far, the extent of my marketing efforts have been to email my friends and relatives, post about the book in this blog and on Facebook and Twitter, and sending queries to some book bloggers asking if they want to review In the Hands of Children. I know this isn't enough because to date, I can count the number of sales on my fingers. :-(

I've also been working on the idea for my next novel. Whenever I come up with an idea, I jot it down in a notebook. After In the Hands of Children was published, I went through the notebook to figure out what I wanted to write next. Some ideas were no longer interesting to me, and others didn't have enough substance to become a novel. (I will likely turn the latter into short stories in the future.) In the end, two ideas stood out. I spent a few days outlining each one. In the process, one came forward as the story I want to write next. I now need to flesh out the outline and figure out the answers to some plot problems that I ran into.

I have hopes that my next novel will be better than anything I've written so far. The story has the potential, and with two novels under my belt, I should be a better writer now than before I started my first book. We'll see, and as always, I plan to keep you updated on my progress with novel #3.

August 21, 2012

In the Hands of Children print version

One thing I learned from publishing my first novel, George and the Galactic Games, was that I should make my books available in print version. I got lots of messages from friends and relatives who didn't want to buy George and the Galactic Games in e-book format because they didn't have a e-reader or they didn't like to read books electronically. After looking around, I wound up using Createspace to publish a print version of the book.

With In the Hands of Children, I prepared a print version along with an electronic version and submitted them at the same time. Due to the rate at which the different platforms process manuscript submissions, the Kindle version hit Amazon first. However, I'm happy to announce that print versions of In the Hands of Children are now available on Amazon and Createspace!


August 18, 2012

Book review: The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Buy from Amazon
Buy from B&N

It’s the year 2140 and Anna shouldn’t be alive. Nor should any of the children she lives with at Grange Hall. The facility is full of kids like her, kids whose parents chose to recklessly abuse Mother Nature and have children despite a law forbidding them from doing so as long as they took longevity drugs. To pay back her parents’ debt to Mother Nature, Anna will have to work for the rest of her life. But then Peter appears at the hall, and he tells a very different story about the world outside of the Grange. Peter begs Anna to escape Grange Hall, and to claim a life for herself outside its bleak walls. But even if they get out, they still have to make their way to London, to Anna’s parents, and to an underground movement that’s determined to bring back children and rid the world of longevity drugs.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

I looked forward to reading this book. I noticed it on my list of Goodreads recommendations a few weeks ago but hadn't gotten around to reading it until recently. From the description, it sounded like the kind of YA dystopian book that I'd really enjoy.

In many ways, The Declaration didn't disappoint. Several contemporary themes were woven into this story: depletion of natural resources, global warming, class warfare, and immigration to name some of the obvious ones. But underlying all of the political rhetoric was the idea of parents' love for their children, and the love of children in general. Throw in the often-used YA call for freedom of choice, and you have everything a good YA dystopian novel needs.

The main problem I have with The Declaration is its length. I can't decide if it's too short or too long. I know that sounds paradoxical, but the plot of the story is pretty simple. Not a lot goes on in the roughly 300 pages of text that make up the novel. That was a problem, because it definitely felt long at times. On the other hand, if the book contained more scenes and more action, I could see it easily being over 400 pages and forming an epic story.

I do recommend The Declaration to lovers of YA dystopian novels. It doesn't make my top five, but it is one that I wouldn't mind reading again.

August 12, 2012

In the Hands of Children

My second novel, In the Hands of Children, has been published!
It's currently available on Amazon and Smashwords in e-book format. Other retailers will be added in the near future, as well as a printed version.

Here's the description of the book:

The H5N1 virus was the deadliest disease in the history of mankind. Not only did it spread rapidly, reaching every corner of the globe, but it also resulted in an inconceivable 100% mortality rate among adults. Within a month, almost every human being became a victim of the virus.

All that remains of humanity is a handful of "immune" children. Except that they aren't truly immune. The virus lurks in their bodies, ready to strike when they reach maturity.

Kyle, Hannah, and Amy are three immune kids who find themselves thrust into a lonely world after losing the people they have known and loved. No longer able to rely on the company, wisdom, and experience of adults, they must survive in the harsh post-pandemic world with only a handful of other immune children. But the trio soon learn that dying from H5N1 isn't the only thing they have to worry about.

August 8, 2012

Title and cover reveal

Things have progressed quickly with my second novel in the last month, and I'm happy to say that I'm in the process of putting the finishing touches on it. I plan to submit it to the various publishing platforms this week, and hopefully it will be available for purchase on at least one retailer's site this weekend!

In the meantime, here's a sneak peak at the cover of my new book, titled In the Hands of Children.

Someone on Fiverr created the image for me. I hope you like it, and I hope you'll like the book when it comes out!

August 6, 2012

Characters making stupid decisions

I recently finished a book that was very well written and could have rated 4 or 5 stars if not for the fact that the story hinged on the stupid decisions made by the main character. The character made one major bad decision early on in the book, and I kept waiting for her to fix it, but whenever an opportunity came up, she decided not to and just made things worse. In the end, her decisions damaged her life and the lives of those who love her. What was the point? Why did the author write a character like that? My opinion is that her decisions are what drove the plot, and without those decisions, there wouldn't be much of a plot.

As an author, I've read that a good story is one where you put your characters in extraordinary situations and see how they respond. A good example of this is The Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen started out as just another citizen of Panem, but she winds up being heroic because of the Hunger Games. Her decisions in the face of her circumstances make sense, from the beginning (*spoiler alert*) when she sacrifices herself for Prim to enter the Games until the end when she threatens to defy the Capitol. The way that the author created a believable but admirable character is one reason why I love The Hunger Games so much.

On the other hand, some writers try to tell a story by putting their characters in situations and having them behave in inexplicable ways. Consider horror movies where a victim who knows about the potential dangers of his/her surroundings decides to wander off alone in the dark anyway so that the killer/monster can butcher him/her. If they were smart and stayed away from the haunted house, dark alley, or creepy campsite in the first place, then we wouldn't have a story, but at least the characters' actions would make sense. Instead, we don't sympathize with their fate.

Maybe some readers enjoy it when characters make stupid decisions, but I don't. I want to read about characters who are praiseworthy. I want to root for them, like I did for Katniss, not hope that they get killed by the bad guy in the end.

August 2, 2012

Zombies update

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my love of zombie books. Since then, I've read two other zombie stories, one that's a short story and the other a full length novel. The short story, Deadlocked by A.R. Wise, was great. I'd give it 5 stars out of 5. The zombie novel, on the other hand, was a disappointment. I won't mention the name of the book, but I'm glad I didn't have to pay for it (I picked it up when it was free on Amazon). Despite its high ratings, I found the story to be aimless and not very well written. On top of that, there were numerous formatting errors in the book. Paragraphs would be indented incorrectly some of the time, and a whole portion of the book was in bold type. That really threw me off.

The morale of the story is... not all zombie books are awesome. I expected that, but I didn't think I would find an instance of a bad zombie book so quickly. I've got another one on my to-be-read list and I'll still look for more. One book isn't going to spoil my appetite for the living dead.