BOOK REPORT: Book News for the Week of May 27th

Possible Under Heaven Movie
Bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay is pleased to announce a development agreement between Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and her management company Mosaic Productions and the author for a possible movie adaptation of his bestselling book, Under Heaven, with Ziyi to star and produce.

20 Famous Rejection Letters
Pay witness to twenty famous rejection letters from bestselling and well-known authors like Ayn Rand, Frank Herbert, Edgar Allan Poe, Tim Burton and many more.

10 Fantasy Novels by Female Authors
Kirkus Reviews presents a list of ten fantasy novels written by female authors that everyone should read, inspired by the recent release of N. K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon.

Your Dream Bookstore
Google Play has a released a unique app called BookAnd where you can create your own virtual bookstore with your favorite books.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]

GUEST POST with Kathryn Jones: “Cheap-skate Marketing for the Self-Published Writer”

Folks might consider me a cheap-skate. Heck, I use coupons, pay cash for almost everything, and frequently peruse the dollar store for inexpensive gifts. When it comes to marketing as a self-published writer? Well, I’ve just got to save a few bucks.

Used to be I didn’t want people to know where I shopped (thrift stores) or how I got so many freebies in the mail (I just signed up online) but there came a day that I didn’t even care if my neighbors knew how I was furnishing my home (from garage sales and furniture sales).

It didn’t matter because I was getting a lot more for less and having some fun doing it.

Saving money takes skill, but it also takes having the knowledge of where to look in the first place. Allow me to get you started. If you’ve just finished your self-published book, or you are almost finished (many writers begin marketing at least six months before their book is in print) then you’ll want to listen up to the next few tips.

  1. Get some postcards made up with your book cover on one side and a synopsis and your contact information on the other. Even before your book comes out in print you should be talking about it and doling out the cards. I keep a stack in my purse and hand them to people I meet (instead of the standard business card). I leave postcards at restaurants. Hand them over when I’m at a social networking group. Give them out whenever someone asks about my book. Postcards really help, especially if you’re of the shy nature. (I’m not, but many writers are. Postcards are pretty cheap, too).
  2. Get some online reviews. Yes, this takes effort, but it shouldn’t cost you. If an online reviewer asks you for money, don’t accept the trade. There are plenty of reviewers that will do it for free, and others that will do it for free if you send them a copy of your book (or gift them an Amazon e-copy). Reviews are not only posted on the reviewer’s site, but often, they distribute the review to sites like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.
  3. Get some courage. Okay, you may feel like you’re a pretty good writer, but a speaker? Yes, speaking at a writers group, or a book group, or at a conference takes guts (and they may not even pay you) but this is a fine opportunity to hone your skills as a speaker and to talk about and sell your book. Don’t let this opportunity fly by you because you’re scared.
  4. Get some blogs written. Like this one. Not everyone is going to say yes to your idea, but many blog owners will, and this gives you another chance to share something about what you know and get the word out there that you’re a writer. (All of the blogs I’ve written for have allowed me to put a bio in at the end of my article).
  5. Get some interviews. Most of those I’ve gotten so far are blog interviews. What happens is you answer some questions that the blog owner has and send your answers back along with your photo and book cover. That’s it. They post your interview online. Don’t forget to try radio interviews. I have two set up for the next two months. All this takes is a short note to the blog owner telling him/her about your book. If he/she decides to interview you, you may be sent a list of questions that he/she will be asking beforehand. On the specified day, you call in and the radio blogger interviews you either live or through a recording that is edited and placed on his/her site later.
  6. Get some contests happening. People LOVE contests! And many blog owners offer contests to get the word out about your book. Sure, you’ll need to send the winner your book, but what better way to get someone talking about your book from across the country?
  7. Get some people reading the first chapter of your book. Some sites offer placement of all or part of your first chapter with links to purchase the book. Take advantage of this opportunity to promote your book for free!
  8. Give away an e-copy on Amazon. Map out some specific days you’d like to give away your book for free. I’ve already offered two different days for people to get my book free. The first giveaway was just after my book’s release. The second giveaway I used tax day. We all hate tax day, so why not offer something soothing to read?

When it comes to marketing, you really don’t need to spend a royal mint to get people interested in your book. All you really need is a bit of creativity and some never-ending perseverance, yes, even when you’re shaking in your boots.

Kathryn has been a published writer since 1987.  She has published various newspaper stories, magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults.  She is the author of: “A River of Stones,” a young adult fiction novel dealing with divorce published in 2002, and “Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones,” a Christian novel published in January of 2012. Her newest creation, a “Conquering your Goliaths—Guidebook,” was published in February of 2012.

Kathryn graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Mass Communication and a minor in Creative Writing. Her studies included work in creative writing, public relations and journalism. Recently, she has opened the doors to Idea Creations Press, a publishing services company that caters to writers and their writing, publishing and marketing needs.

For more information, visit A River of Stones.

“Lucky Bastard” by S. G. Browne (Gallery Books, 2012)

Lucky Bastard
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The bestselling author of Breathers and Fate returns with another entertaining and funny book that is well keeping in the style of one S. G. Browne.  Readers who have come to enjoy Browne’s particular style, humor, and characters will be delighted in this latest offering with Lucky Bastard.

Nick Monday is not your usual private detective, by any means.  He’s what you’d call a luck poacher.  Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  Since he was a young child, he knew he’d inherited the “family gift,” and then went on to make a business out of it, as so many luck poachers do.  All he has to do is shake the lucky (and soon to be less than lucky) person’s hand and the luck is magically transferred into him.  He’s not sure exactly how it works, it just does.  The person isn’t necessarily unlucky from them on, he or she is simply no longer lucky.  As to how Mr. Monday can tell whether a person is lucky, it’s sort of like sensing someone’s midichlorian count and the strength of their force, like an aura in a way.  There are several gradations of good luck, from some good fortune on up to easily picking those winning lottery numbers.  And just as there is good luck out there, there’s also bad luck, but Nick does his best to stay from that.

Except bad luck seems to keep finding him wherever he goes.  He lives in San Francisco, after having to leave another state for some shady business, but soon finds himself getting on a number of people’s bad sides, including the supposed daughter of the mayor of the city, Tuesday Knight, who offers him $100,000 to get back her father’s stolen luck. (Yes, Nick was the one to steal the luck originally; and no, it’s pretty much a one way thing when you take someone’s luck.)  He also finds himself mixed up and seriously pissing off a Chinese mafia kingpin.

Lucky Bastard is over the top and fast-paced, taking you all over the wonderful city of San Francisco, but Browne does a great job of suspending the reader’s disbelief, creating a character that isn’t perfect by any means – in fact he gets quite annoying – but remains true to the writing and the character, keeping readers hooked to the very last page.

Originally written on March 13, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Lucky Bastard from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Fated  Breathers

BookBanter Column: “The Only Zombie Books You Ever Need to Read” on Forces of Geek

If you’re a reader and a fan of the horror genre, then chances are you’ve read a zombie book of some sort; maybe more than one.  In case you haven’t noticed, this living dead sub-genre simply won’t go away, as more and more zombie books are being churned out, to the point where most horror authors have now tried their writing hands at bringing an unlikely character back from the dead.  In an earlier Book Banter Column I discussed the short history of the zombie genre, which you can read here.

The big problem I find with most zombie books is that that’s all the story is really about: zombies attacking humanity and how humanity fights back, kills them for good, and ends up winning.  End of story.  This is fine as a story premise, except that it’s been done so many times, not just in books, but in movies, comic books, as well as various other forms of media.  For me the unique zombie story is one that has an interesting, captivating story in a world where there are zombies.

Enter Mira Grant.

Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire.  Seven years ago she came up with an idea for a zombie book that was a small idea that became a big one, then a trilogy.    The first book, Feed, was released in 2010 and was nominated for a Hugo Award.  The second book, Deadline, was released in 2011 and received just as much support and good press as its predecessor.  The final book in the trilogy, Blackout, was released just this week and has already been getting lots of coverage and hurrahs from fans.

So the complete trilogy has been released, and it honestly feels more like one long book, making it the perfect time to check this series out and give it a read.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]

“Blackout” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2012)

Blackout
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The conclusion to the action-packed and riveting Newflesh trilogy, Blackout, does what Feed did in exploding out of the gate with great writing, strong characters, and a story you couldn’t stop reading; as well as what Deadline continued with in ratcheting up the tension and delving out shocking plot twists to keep readers demanding more.  The most important thing about this book is that it remains true to its characters in every way so that if the reader has been paying attention from the first line of the first book, they shouldn’t be too surprised, and yet it’s still satisfying and rewarding to see the events you hoped might happen on the page before you, as well as some great shockers you might not have seen coming.

Spoiler warning: if you haven’t read Feed or Deadline and you don’t want to get spoiled, you should stop reading now.

We last left George apparently somehow alive and well, living the life of a clone in a CDC lab.  She slowly puts things together as time passes, but for every answer there are fifty more questions.  Also is she really Georgia Mason?  She doesn’t have the reservoir condition anymore; she’s a lot thinner that George ever was; and her hair is annoyingly long and bleaching with every shower.  Then she finds out she might have an ally or two on the inside, but she isn’t sure if she can trust them.

Meanwhile, as Shaun continues to talk to Georgia in his head and act all kinds of crazy, he keeps the gang of After the End Times on the move.  After spending some time with Dr. Abbey in her secret lab, as she takes copious daily amounts of his virus-immune blood, he thinks about where the trail is leading next, where he can get more answers, and find out just what this whole conspiracy is all about.  It will involve possibly going on a rescue mission to Florida, which has been designated a zombie-ridden loss for the country; meeting with his parents who he hates, to ask for help; and tracking down the best I.D. counterfeiter in the business to start their new lives.

Mira Grant skillfully switches between the George and Shaun storylines with each chapter, making the characters appear as distinct and complex as they were in the first two books, as she slowly but seamlessly brings them together, building the tension and thrill.  The reader knows the step-siblings are going to meet up again at some point, but will Shaun be able keep his sanity or will he just be pushed over the edge?  Then there’s the question of which clone of Georgia Mason will be there to greet him?

Blackout is the perfect, satiating finish to the trilogy, making the three-book series feel like one long, epic story.  No reader will be disappointed, with a worthwhile ending that will leave him or her sad that the wonderful journey is now over . . . but just like when the end of Harry Potter was reached, or the final page of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, how many of us turned back to the first book and started reading that first page once again.  Having reread the first two books, this trilogy will be one I will continue to reread constantly throughout my lifetime.

Originally written on May 22, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Blackout from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Feed  Deadline

“Blackout” Out Today!

It’s been three years of great writing from Mira Grant, with Feed in 2010, Deadline in 2011, and now in 2012 with the release today of the final book in the trilogy, Blackout.  For those of you who’ve been reading along, you’ll be no doubt zombie-hungry to start reading this last installment, and for anyone who hasn’t tried these fantastic books yet, they’re some of my all time favorites.  Below are my reviews to the first two books, as well as interview links.

Feed  Deadline

MIRA GRANT #1     MIRA GRANT #2

Book News: Book Report for the Week of May 20th on Forces of Geek

Writer’s Cramp with Lisa Scottoline
In this fascinating article from the New York Times, readers hear from bestselling mystery author Lisa Scottline, on why she is now writing more to finish more books and bring them out sooner, thanks to the advent of the ebook revolution.

The Next Step for Ereaders
2012 will be remembered as the next step in ereader evolution, as this year is turning out to be all about making the backlit ereader.  While the iPad has it’s own lighting, common ereaders like the Kindle, Nook or Kobo do not and so are not usable in the dark.  This year both Kindle and Nook will be coming out with backlit ereaders, with the other ereader companies likely to follow.

More on Class Action Suit over Ebook Pricing
Seventeen states have now joined the class action law suit over ebook pricing, saying that “Apple and five of the six major U.S. publishers conspired to create the agency model for e-books and thereby fix prices.”

The App for Lazy Book Buyers
You know how when your browsing in a bookstore and all those books have the titles on the spines sideways, and you have to tilt your head and adjust your body to read them?  Well, there’s an Apple app now to help you take care of that, called ShelfLook.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]

What’s the Big Deal About China Mieville? In my Opinion, Nothing!

For some years now, a certain author by the name of China Mieville has been revered as the best thing to come into the world of science fiction and fantasy since the likes of Isaac Asimov or Robert Jordan, seeing him as the pinnacle of what is cutting edge and brilliantly written, to the point where he can do nothing wrong, and every book he publishes is an instant success and wins plenty of awards.

I’ve tried Mieville twice, with The City and the City which I started and soon became bored with after giving it a good fifty pages; and with The Kraken, which I struggled all the way through and was disappointed by the end.  Mieville just comes off as too full of himself, with his prose that often feels purple and overdone to the point of annoyance.  My wife has read and tried Perdido Street Station and Un Lun Dun, and we seem to agree with the same feelings about this author.  He also seems to be ripping of Neil Gaiman a little too much, who does what he does with skill and a resulting enjoyment, while the result with Mieville is something pushed too far.

I was delighted to recently discover that there are some other people who feel similar with regards to China Mieville: the guys at Penny Arcade.  They recently did a comic about it, as well as an insightful and well-written post about it.

And after reading the summary for Railsea, I know I’ll be passing on it.  Really, talking moles?

“The Death Cure” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2011)

Death Cure
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In the final book of the Maze Runner trilogy, James Dashner brings readers once again to a whole new part of his world, this time a look into an actual city outside of WICKED, where readers finally get to see if what they’ve been told so far is at all true and how harsh this Flare virus really is.  Just as with Maze Runner and Scorch Trials, Dashner continues to delve out one surprise and plot twist after another, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat with sheer excitement.

Thomas is now on the outside with the Gladers that are still alive, having been told by WICKED that the trials are over and the time for lies is no longer; now it’s time to see if all this work was worth it.  But he’s sick of waiting around for something that might or might not happen, and will the help of some others, they flee the WICKED confines for a slice of the real, Flare-ridden world.  It is a harsh place of haves and have nots, where society is crucially divided by those who are infected or not.  Then there are those, like Thomas, who are immune and are hated by some, revered by others.  But as the Gladers memories are given back to them, Thomas starts to remember a lot more than WICKED expected, and knows what he was involved in, which horrifies him, as he finally comprehends what WICKED is truly about.  As things come to a climax and Thomas realizes now what he must do, he must make the ultimate decision.

For the first three quarters of The Death Cure, the surprise and action is going at full steam, and as it approaches the end, things wind down a little and the finale arrives and is revealed.  It seems a little anticlimactic, after this lengthy build-up of three books that may leave some readers wondering: “Wait, why did they go through all this again?”  Nevertheless, for other readers it will feel satisfying and complete.

Originally written on April 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Death Cure from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Scorch Trials” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Scorch Trials
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In the sequel to the interesting Maze Runner, James Dashner takes readers to a whole new level of his dystopian world, where they get to see what’s going on beyond the “maze,” and what state the world is really in.  The Scorch Trials continues to do what its predecessor did so well: build up moments to big surprises, and continue to do this throughout the book so that the reader has no idea what’s going to happen next.

At the end of the last book, it was revealed that the whole “maze thing” was a grand experiment to find out who of these children would be the possible savior of the human race.  Now everyone thinks the work is done and they can finally go back to having a normal sense of life, especially Thomas; also they might finally find out about their families and their past.  But this doesn’t happen, as the group soon finds themselves left alone once more, and this time they are challenged to travel a great distance in a specific amount of time.  They are running both against the clock and against the other “girl group,” where whoever wins will be allowed to survive and live.  They must now travel across this scorched land, which has been blighted over time by sun flares, while the virus known as the Flare has ravaged the population.  There are also these zombie-like people known as Cranks, at a stage of infection far along with the virus, who present a formidable obstacle to the group.  Now Thomas will have to use what he has learned in the maze, as well as the knowledge he already has to get them all through this alive, somehow.

The Scorch Trials does what a good sequel should do, in ratcheting up the tension and the fear, as readers don’t know who is going to make it to the end, and who will be left dead in the dirt.  It’s a harsh world, and this is supposedly all being done to find the perfect human being who will save them all, at least according to WICKED.  Dashner continues to deliver plot twists and cliffhangers that will have readers gripping the pages to the very end and then anxiously awaiting the conclusion in The Death Cure.

Originally written on April 23, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Scorch Trials from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.