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Outstanding New Reads–One Available Now, One Next Week!

I keep trying to blog and Life, that sneaky wench, keeps throwing monkey wrenches, spanners, and assorted roadblocks in the works.

Be that as it may, I have a couple of announcements that need to be made. The first is that Kai Wilson-Viola’s book, “Glass Block,” will be released next week. I am very excited about this book and have been for a long time. I’ve read bits and pieces and earlier drafts of this futuristic, sci-fi, noir thriller-detective novel, and I know if you pick it up when it’s available, you’ll love it – assuming, of course, that you like that kind of genre. When it’s released, I’ll post links.

Now, for an announcement I can post a link with! Alexandria Publishing Group has a new category of books for your reading pleasure. Breaktime Bites. These are shorter works, ranging from short stories to novellas, just right for the train or subway ride to work, or lunch break, or maybe for the few minutes that your three-year-old takes a nap. The first of these is out today. Take a look. They’re inexpensive, quick reads. You might want to bookmark this link because there will be more releases.

Breaktime Bites

Alexandria Publishing Group Writers have FREE books for you!

Several writers from the Alexandria Publishing Group will have books for free over the weekend of September 14-16.

Among those are:

The Coming Storm by Valerie Douglas

Elon of Aerilann, Elven advisor to the High King of Men, helped negotiate the treaty between Elves, Dwarves and men. He suddenly finds that fragile truce threatened from without by an unknown enemy and from within by old hatreds and prejudice. With the aid of his true-friend Colath, the wizard Jareth and the Elven archer Jalila, he goes in search of the source of the threat.

Ailith, the Heir to Riverford, fights her own silent battle. Her father has changed, but her quest to discover what changed him puts her life and very soul in danger and leaves her only one direction in which to turn. Elon.To preserve the alliance, though, Elon will have to choose between his honor, his duty, and everything for which he fought.

(Click the title or the image to visit for the book.)


Magnus Opum by Jonathan Gould

A story about a little person in a very big world.

Magnus Mandalora never thought he would leave the safe confines of the small homely village of Lower Kertoob. He certainly never expected to end up in the middle of a long-running war between the saintly Cherines and the beastly Glurgs. But when circumstance places him in such a dubious position, he finds himself on a rollicking adventure where nothing is quite as it seems. Magnus Opum is an epic fantasy that’s slightly skewed – Tolkien with a twist.

(Click the title or the image to visit for the book.)

The Shadowbearer by Terry Simpson

Knight Commander Stefan Dorn, leader of the Unvanquished, has known only war, death and, victory. All in the name of his loyalty to King Nerian the Lightbearer, a man he idolized. Until now. Everything he thought he knew about the King, his people, and his world is coming to an end. At a time when there should be peace, he’s once again called to war. Torn between shocking changes at home, his family, loyalty to his men and his King, Stefan wishes only to enjoy life away from the battlefield. But with the new campaign comes a rabid, unforgiving enemy and a potential cataclysm. Follow him as he fights to save his family, his people, his honor, and his birthright from the grips of the shade. Can he save them all? If not, which will he choose, which will he lose? The Shadowbearer is a rousing and engaging prequel to Etchings of Power and a worthy addition to the Aegis of the Gods series.

(Click the title or the image to visit for the book.)

Cataclysm by Stephen H. King

Crystal isn’t sure what to think when she learns that she’s married to and has children by Mars, the God of War. She knows that she’s not giving him up to his ex-wife, the Goddess of Love, without a fight. Venus has other plans, though, and the goddess and the mortal woman square off.

At the same time, Crystal has to deal with Sorscha, the shape-shifting thrakkon who has fought by the side of Mars as a silver dragon, and served him as a beautiful woman, for longer than Crystal can imagine. The thrakkon calls her husband Master, but can Crystal trust her?

Join the rapid action and occasional humor as Crystal follows her husband to Olympus, the dive bar for the gods, as well as through a destroyed Bay Area, looking for survivors of the cataclysm as well as clues on how to defeat a goddess.

(Click the title or the image to visit for the book.)

Alexandria Publishing Group

There’s a new face in the publishing neighbourhood, Alexandria Publishing Group. It’s a collective or collaboration among several independent (or indie) writers, editors, cover artists, and formatters — all dedicated to publishing the very best books possible. We work in several genres, too, ranging from fantasy (historical fantasy to dark to epic), romance, literary, suspense, action, horror, satire. It’s probably easier to state what we don’t include — and that would be badly-written, unedited, sloppy, or wince-worthy.

In short, if you see the all-seeing eye of the Alexandria Publishing Group logo on a book, you are assured of a quality book. Now does this mean you are going to love every book with that logo? Possibly . . . but maybe not. After all, look at the genres covered. A romance reader might or might not be interested in a horror novel and vice-versa.  At least, this will give you the same sort of starting point, I think, that other sorts of brand names can give you.

As part of the APG launch, we have giveaways! Prizes! Yay! Free eBooks. Free formatting– which, if you’re a writer, is a huge prize. A free 30-page edit of your work. Amazon gift cards. Free webhosting. And more. Go here and enter.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Indie writers, I love ‘em, but sometimes . . .

I love indie (also known as self-published) writers. I really do. My Kindle (which I also love) is chock-full of outstanding indie fiction, indie memoir, and indie writing advice. I am in several indie writing communities.

But, I have to tell you that every time someone raises – usually under a flag of neutrality, but sometimes with his freak flag flying and daring you to tell him that some rule actually matters – *takes a breath* Where was I? Oh, yes. Sorry. Whenever someone raises the subject of rules and do we really have to follow them, I just want to reach right through the internet and knock some sense into people.

I could end this now. YES, rules matter. They are there for a reason. DO NOT break them until you are quite sure you completely understand them. Grammar rules. Punctuation rules. Sentence structure rules. Point of View rules. Plotting rules. Sure, most of these can be bent and some can be broken if you’ve got good enough a reason. But if you go breaking them without knowing right down to your bones what you’re doing, you will write a mess.

Point of View is one of those tricky little beasts. I’m not going to write a whole book about point of view. There are are excellent books on that subject. Here are two just off the top of my head:

The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley

Write Great Fiction – Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

You can find others.

Let me just say now that skipping around merrily from one character to another giving the reader the thoughts of each of them all in the same scene on the same page will eventually wear out our patience. And, no, just because Johnny is kissing Sally at the same time Sally is kissing Johnny we still don’t need to be inside both their minds at the same time.

One last thing. NO! George R.R. Martin is not breaking the rules of POV characters when he uses ONE, count ‘em ONE, POV voice for each separate chapter of his epic Song of Fire and Ice books. Because, ladies and gentlemen, that is the rule: One POV per chapter. It’s been further sliced to one POV per scene but classically and traditionally One POV Per Chapter is totally correct.

Why in the name of all that’s writerly would someone use Martin as an example of someone who is breaking the rules?

My own preference – not always adhered to – is to write in first person. Yes, it’s limiting. I like that. I like showing the reader only what the narrator sees and hears and knows. Because, guess what, the narrator can be wrong. She can trust the wrong person. She can misinterpret what she sees. And she takes the reader right along with her. Then I write third-person chapters (NOT just paragraphs and not usually scenes, usually whole chapters) that take place away from the first-person narrator, showing events of which she has no knowledge.  After all, Joan Hess and Elisabeth Peters use this technique all the time. Not that I’m in their league, you understand. It’s just an effective technique.

I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again.

Indie writers have got to be BETTER than traditionally published writers. We have to write cleaner, fresher, prose; we have to make fewer typographical errors; we have to create stronger plots and more lifelike characters. We have to be twice as good to be thought half as good.

As long as we settle for almost as good – heck, as long as we settle for the faint praise of “just as good” – we are doomed to live on the edges, kicked to the curb, and ignored.

To E-book or Not to E-book?

I love books. I love paperback books. I love hardcover books. And I love e-books. I adore my Kindle. Each one has advantages. Each one has disadvantages.

Physical, dead-tree books use, well, dead trees and that’s a resource that can be expensive. Publishers are also using considerably less rag in their paper these days and that’s why even those $29.95 hardcover books look ratty and yellow after only a few years. Some of those hardcover books are (hello, Stephen King’s “Under the Dome,” I am talking to you) so physically enormous, so heavy, so unwieldy that a disabled person such as, say, myself has quite a bit of difficulty dealing with it. I finally gave up on “Under the Dome,” in fact, and gave it to a stronger-armed friend. Thankfully, she gave me the book in a Kindle version. Win/win.

Likewise, I love George R.R. Martin’s books about Westeros, the ones HBO has made into an excellent series, “The Game of Thrones.” Also giant books, even in paperback format. I bought them for the Kindle. I doubt I could have handled them in any other format.

Another pro-e-book argument: If you are sick and it’s 4 AM and you want something new to read, well, if you are a devotee of the physical-book-only, you’re stuck. If you’ve got a Kindle and an internet connection, however, you’re good to go. You can find, buy, and download something new in minutes. Heck, if you’re lucky, you might even land on a free book. Win/win/win.

Do I really need to mention that I can walk around with 3,500 or so (theoretically at least) books in this one little device? My Kindle makes packing for a trip enormously simpler. And lighter. I used to have to pack an entire small (okay, medium) suitcase with books. Now I take the Kindle. I can carry thousands (again, theoretically) in my shoulder bag. Wow. What a concept!

From the perspective of the author, too, there are advantages. Upload your e-book and then discover (ack!) a glaring, horrible spelling error. Go in, find the file, fix it. If, on the other hand, your book is a print book, well, you’re up That Infamous Creek till the next printing (if there is one) when changes can be made.

Ah, but making notes in the margins is ever so much easier with actual, physical, paper books. There is a note-making function on the Kindle, but it’s awkward for me. I don’t use it. Maybe other people find it usable, but I don’t. And this is my blog and my opinion.

Also if you’re trying to refresh your memory on, say, page 450 about something that happened somewhere around page 100, it’s so much easier with paper pages. You can fan through them and look for something familiar, a word, an event. Something. It’s much more difficult with an e-reader. Not impossible, but more difficult. Yes, there’s a search function on the Kindle (the only e-reader with which I’m familiar, honestly), but if the only words of the passage you’re trying to find are common ones, you’ll come up with 700 locations and that’s just not terribly useful.

Is the e-reader going to be the Death of the “Real” Book? Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. I do know that over the weekend I bought three hardcover books from a bargain shelf at a bookstore, two new hardcover books from Amazon, and four e-books. Am I a typical reader? Probably not. There are people who don’t buy that many books in a year. And that, my friends, is a rant for another day.

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