Blog bookstore updated…

This is a job I’ve been meaning to tackle for some time now, but I had so many other projects going on that I kept putting it off. But today I buckled down and forced myself to make an update to the blog bookstore. In addition to adding a few books from my catalog that I’d somehow missed on release, I’ve added cover thumbnails for all the books and brief descriptions to let you know what they’re about before clicking the link to Gumroad.

With that major project done, hopefully tomorrow I can get back to writing. I’m this close to finishing a new WIP called The Dragon of Divinity, and I’m also close to writing the last of two new Sex Doll novellas, which I’ll be adding to the original book and uploading at an updated edition. Then I’m going to try and write the last Zombie Era novella, and those three books following Susan’s story after she and Kate left G will be combined into a single volume.

Even before I wrap up these projects, I already have enough books in the queue to schedule new releases into 2015. I’ll be wrapping up a couple series, and putting out some new standalone stories as well. If anything, it should keep me busy.

Book review: Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler is an author I’ve been meaning to read for some time now, but didn’t know quite where to begin with her work. Then I saw a retweet expressing displeasure with Fledgling, and as has become a habit for me, I decided to make it my first effort. (How do you get me to bump a book up in my TBR list? Complain that you hate it. I’ll come running to see what all the fuss is about far faster than I would if you told me to read it because you loved it. Yeah, I know, I’m weird like that.)

There was only one complication in that the Kindle edition I wanted wasn’t available yet. I paid for the preorder, and the book was delivered to my phone at the end of March. (Isn’t technology grand?) I still had to clear out my other current reads, but as soon as that was done, I began the book curious to see what had displeased the other reader.

Well, I found it, and this is the first caveat I must warn other readers about. The main character, first called Renee, and then by her true name Shori, is a child despite being fifty-three years old. She is a child by the standards of her people, the Ina, who humans would call vampires, and she has severe amnesia after almost being killed at the start of the story. To my mind, this makes her even more of a child. Almost as soon as the story starts, Shori finds a human named Wright, and she feeds from him. Her venom compels him to follow her orders, and soon after traveling with him to his home, they have sex. Continue reading

Standing out in an outstanding crowd

It’s been a while that I let myself coast without trying very hard on promotions or writing anything here aside from reviews. It’s not that I don’t have things I want to talk to y’all about, but more that I wasn’t sure how to say anything without coming off as a grumbling fogey or an unappreciated jeenyus.

Through the last two years, I’ve often felt encouraged by seeing reviewers and readers asking for more diversity in their fiction, and I took this as encouragement to keep writing to put out more options instead of focusing on any one genre or market. At the same time, I felt that I needed a message more developed than “I’m different” to stand out from the crowded markets.

The thing is, I’d really rather not resort to dissing the work of others or being jealous of their success. In my own way, I’ve tried as a reader to support everyone from the big name authors down to the first-time indies just dipping their toes in the writing pool. When it comes to social media, when someone asks me for reading recommendations, I will first offer up a list of other authors I enjoy before asking if it’s all right to suggest something from my catalog. It’s strange, but even after years of being so deeply invested in this global writing competition, I still feel awkward actually trying to compete.

Maybe it’s all those years of abuse that keeps a voice alive in me, constantly insisting “I’m not really good enough to compete with these people.” Maybe it’s empathy knowing how hard it is to make even one sale that prevents me from saying “My book is better than X-book.” Maybe some of it is respect for the other authors, even those I don’t like or find their work repugnant to my own tastes. Continue reading

Changing promotional tactics

Lately, I haven’t had nearly as many sales through Twitter as I was making last spring, and at times, I thought that was a side effect of my reduced promotion efforts combined with my lack of new releases. But as of last month, I put out a new book, and I put out another this month, with another planned for May. I returned to putting out one ad per hour, and I got a decent number of retweets. Despite having good exposure, I still wasn’t finding nearly the level of success I’d had last year.

One of the people I follow on Twitter has been emailing me about making changes to my Amazon tags and blurbs to get better visibility, but even making some changes like he suggested, it doesn’t seem to help pull me up into a high enough ranking to break through the competition. In talking over my promotional strategies with him, I’ve come to realize one possible cause for my diminishing gains on Twitter: I’ve lost my credibility and my connections to my followers.

What happened was, I started retweeting books for other authors because I wanted to get their help promoting my stuff. But this added exposure isn’t helping, and if anything, tweeting for others has diluted my stream to the point that my own ads are being completely lost in the shuffle. Continue reading

Back on the air!

Well it took me a while to get this domain business sorted out, but at long last, I’ve got back control of my address, and now regular posting can resume. Now don’t worry about missing anything because I copied and pasted all the posts from my mirror blog to get the site up to date. I’m just glad I never gave up on the mirror blog, or there wouldn’t have been any place to keep people updated on why the site went down.

You’ll get no complaints from me about this episode. My current host DreamHost couldn’t do anything to help, and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone at Infinity Cloud in the days leading up to the expiration of my domain. I did get a different contact email from Public Domain Registry after the site went down, but the person I emailed didn’t have the financial credentials to renew the domain, nor were they able to transfer my domain to a new partner. It was one of those perfect storms where no one could do anything until after some time had passed. But at last, Public Domain moved my account over to another registrar, and I paid the fees to renew the domain before it was permanently deleted. So now everything is all patched up, and I can resume my normal schedule of reviews, rambles, and rants.

I want to point out that if you haven’t been to my mirror blog, you’ve missed out on two new book releases; my nerdy three-way erotic romance Third Wheel Romance Blues and the first book in the Alice the Wolf series Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. As I just had to spend $80 to get the site back up, I could really use some sales to help recover that chunk taken out of my bank account. If neither of these books appeal to you, please keep in mind that I’ve got over 40 titles on Amazon and Kobo for you to choose from. I’m also releasing the third book in the Tobe White series, Adventures In Trolling, next month. So take a look at my catalog and see if you can find something to interest you. The sooner I can recover those funds, the sooner I can get a PS4 and start doing some next-gen reviews. Really, I’m just trying to keep y’all informed, is all. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

Thank you for your patience during my down time, and I’ll have some new book reviews up for you soon.

Trans minor to be sent to adult male prison…

This is going to be a very short post. This morning someone I follow on Twitter brought this story to my attention. The minor is so young, the law prevents anyone from mentioning her name, but the state of Connecticut is going to place them in a male prison, misgendering them and exposing them to even more abuse from violent inmates. The story says this teen was the victim of childhood abuse, and that they’ve been in custody for half their life. They must have PTSD already, and the proposed solution is even more violence against them.

I can’t say much else about this. I want to. I want to yell and scream. I want to storm someone’s office and demand that this mistake is corrected. I want to whip people into a frenzy and convince them to do something to stop this kind of thing from ever happening again.

But I’m just a broken little nobody on the other side of the planet from where this is happening. Even if I were closer, why would anybody listen to me? I have no money, no political power, no leverage to make this better. I feel tiny, helpless, and powerless. I can’t think about this without feeling sucked back to my own useless struggles against a system that offered neither compassion nor justice. All I can do is bring this to your attention and then sit back and shake.

God, where is the humanity in humans?

Book update: Rot by Michele Lee

While browsing the blog Wag the Fox, I ran across an entry for Rot by Michele Lee in a new Kindle edition. This is good because as far as I’d known the book had gone out of print, and I’d had to give up on recommending it to readers. I even emailed my ebook copy to someone because I wanted them to read it. (I deleted my copy because I respect copyright, and because I still have an original print copy.)

Michele and I no longer talk (no use rehashing old shit, so I won’t), but this is one book I’ve reread multiple times and still tear up at the ending. Briefly summing up, Rot is a unique take on zombies because it involves the undead being reanimated by way of magic. These zombies are aware, but still quite prone to violence and munching on raw flesh. Most are kept in a retirement home of sorts, but the people running the home are doing some rather unsavory things with the undead whose families can no longer afford the rent. It’s a story that makes every zombie’s suffering personal and easy to empathize with, and even years after first reading the book, it sticks with me as one of the best zombie stories I’ve ever read, if not the best. (I waffle on whether I love Rot or John A. Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead more, but both are fantastic and worth your time.)

So, knowing there’s a Kindle reissue for this book, I’m happy to once again recommend it to everyone, not just fans of zombie stories. It’s reasonably priced, a good short read with a gut punch of an ending. So please, do check it out and add it to your to-be-read pile. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Book review: I Can Transform You by Maurice Broaddus

I Can Transform You is made up of two stories, with the first bearing the same name as the book. I Can Transform You starts out very much like a long familiar trope of a loose cannon PI brought in to consult on a case involving the murder of his former partner. The trappings of a dystopian sci-fi world do little to change this formula during the journey through a well worn path. A suspect is found with an orgy of evidence to implicate them, and the brass are happy to close the case there. But of course there’s something else going on, with people in the upper echelons of society pulling the strings to frame a two-bit felon and offer up a neat tidy package for the evening news.

In maybe 75% of the story, you could find the same idea present in any hard-boiled detective story, and the future setting with its trappings of bioengineering and cybernetic officers might be seen as superfluous. But it’s in the final quarter that all those little crumb-clues begin adding up to a bigger conspiracy and lead to an explanation for the changes in the world. Then the pieces of world-building become more important in explaining the stakes of this one seemingly open and closed case.

Mac Peterson’s washed out PI is balanced by the tight-laced and cybernetically enhanced Ade Walters, and both play a verbal tug of war teasing out bits of character development from each other. Mac’s a rebel without a cause who’s too afraid of himself to ever let anyone get close to him. He numbs his insecurities with drugs, alcohol, or sex; whatever’s available to take the edge off. On the other hand, Ade is a man well aware of his past and his pains associated with it, and he chooses work as his addiction. The law is his refuge from a dysfunctional family, but his loyalties are put to the test by this case in particular. Continue reading

Book review: Crooked Fang by Carrie Clevenger

Crooked Fang has been on my list of books to pick up for a while, but I was reluctant to read it because I know the author, Carrie Clevenger, on Twitter, and we’ve talked for a few years now. At one point, while I was live-tweeting a book I hated, she’d even joked, “Don’t read any of my books, please.” But I’ve got a thing for vampires, and so eventually, I knew I’d have to read this. I just had to hope it didn’t suck.

Thankfully, it did not. In fact, it’s one of the better vampire books I’ve read in a while, and it’s every bit as good as Let the Right One In. Xan Marcelles is a relatively young vampire, one who had previously worked as an assassin for his sire. His job was killing the vampires who risked exposure to the humans, but after burning out on killing, he moved to Pinecliffe Colorado and made up a quiet new life for himself at a bar called Pale Rider. He plays bass in his band, Crooked Fang, and as the story opens, his bandmates are pushing for something more than playing as a house band for a podunk bar.

Xan’s problems are all over the place. He’s confronted by a vampire hunter, and the bar is burned down by an unknown enemy. While he’s still trying to deal with those problems, he’s contacted by the sister of a girlfriend he left back when he was alive, Silvia, who has news that Heather was killed in an what the police are calling an animal attack. This sends Xan back to a home he hasn’t known in well over twenty years, posing as his own son to assist Silvia in finding out what really happened to Heather. Continue reading

Book excerpt: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 7 of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore:

I take Brandon to the living room to watch Cartoon Network, and then I go to the kitchen to wash the dishes. Somewhere in the middle of putting the rinsed dishes in the dishwasher, I start to feel hot and anxious for no reason. The feeling of my skin splitting comes back, and I break out in a sweat. My teeth grind audibly, and I feel the need to curl my hands into fists.

When the puzzle pieces snap together, I sling my head around, finding the calendar pinned to the wall. My vision is so sharp, I don’t need to cross the room to see the little black circle beside the date. It’s a full moon tonight, and my wolf is calling me. It’s why I was extra irritable, and why I snapped under the same stress that I’d been handling for months without blowing up.

Four years, I’d been warned this was coming. Four years, I’ve dreaded it and prayed I would be alone when it hit. But no, here’s my first bout with lunar madness, and I’ve got a kid I barely know, no parents to watch over us, and no way to get away.

I grit my teeth harder, and a growl rumbles in my throat. I’m so hot I have to pant, and my skin feels like I’m soaking up sunlight in the middle of summer.

Spinning away from the dishwasher, I grab the door leading to the side yard and fling it open too hard. I can’t think straight, and I need to cool down. Off comes my sweatshirt followed by my T-shirt, and I’m down to my bra, thinking to lose it too. I’m dripping sweat, and my breath comes in shaking gasps. The wind is blowing, but it doesn’t feel cold to me. It’s a hot wind on my burning body, doing nothing to quench my parched throat. Continue reading