Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Audiobook Coming Soon

Killer in the Retroscape is being made into an audiobook, with expected release on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in October or early November.

That means I’ve been listening to new chapters from my producer every couple of days. And since the first few chapters deal with a pandemic in 2035 (albeit one that comes from a parasite hosted in cats), it’s been a bit like listening to my life. Check out this five minute clip:

Click Here for Sample

The pandemic in the book is only a precursor of things to come and hopefully, life stops following the plot soon, because … well, it is a dystopian tale, after all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Book Review: Consumed by Justin Alcala

Suspense Drives this Historical Fantasy of Nosferatu and Necromancers

You have to wake up from this ridiculous dream world of yours. There’s no nosferatu, necromancers, or missions from God. It’s just two crazed foreigners, a dead girl, and a pair of dim-witted detectives involved in a set of bizarre circumstances.” So said Nathan Brannick, protagonist of Consumed to one of those “crazed foreigners” about three-fourths of the way through the book. And it highlights one of the main reasons I really enjoyed the story. There are so many twists, so many paths I thought I was on but wasn’t, that for much of the story I was no more confident of my interpretation of events than Nathan was of his reality. I really enjoyed the suspense.

Underlying this tension is an intricate web of crosses and double-crosses among the forces of evil. A master tasks a slave with retrieving a source of power, but the slave decides to use that power against the master. The slave, in turn, takes an apprentice, who then plots to use that same power toward his/her own ends. And so on. It’s a fabric of evil, slowly unraveling violently as the plot advances. And then, there is the question of whether Nathan’s observations can be believed at all or are they just the product of the opium he turned to after his wife died? Perhaps his partner is the better source of fact? Can we believe the foreign witch-hunters who are apparently driven by the vision of an obsessive father? And finally, the unease is supported by a skillful mixing of history (e.g., Vlad the Impaler), folklore (e.g., Spring-heeled Jack), and fiction (everything else). It’s difficult to tell in which world you’re standing.

There are, however, a few issues that may reduce the effect of the book for any particular reader. For one, there are a number of errors in word usage and grammar. Most are minor, such as the misuse of then/than, but others may produce a bit of confusion, “… maybe he’ll at least confirm who that nutter, Mr. Feld, was why we found sitting outside the pub door.” More significantly, the story is told from the perspective of at least four different people, but these shifts come without warning. I was sometimes a couple of pages into a chapter before I figured out whose thoughts I was reading. Perhaps the author did that intentionally, but for my taste, the technique is more confusing than suspenseful.

While the shifts in point-of-view are somewhat disruptive, overall, Consumed is an exceptional read, filled with well-told, often-violent scenes of the unmasking of evil in Victorian London.

See on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jRKB2b

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Mystery and Thriller Giveaway


The techno-thrillers that I write are part SciFi and part thriller. So, after a couple of months of science fiction giveaways, it was time for some mysteries and thrillers.

This time, you can choose from twenty-eight works from short stories to complete novels. They are all free, although you will subscribing to the author’s newsletter. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.


Happy reading.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Book Review: Syndrome by Ryan Krol

Myth-Chasing Scientists Unravel the Mystery Surrounding a Secret Lab

Syndrome is the debut novel of college-film-major turned writer, Ryan Krol. I mention the author’s educational background because even before reading his bio, I noticed a “movie feel” to the book. Perhaps it was the location and time period—small-town Nevada in the late 1950s. Perhaps it was the events of the early chapters—three curious boys investigating a meteorite crash site on land that was closed to the public. Perhaps it was the existence of a secret, underground research facility nearby funded by an eccentric billionaire. It was easy to imagine these elements coming together in a movie about life from outer space, unauthorized research in the secret lab, and a team of scientists turned myth-chasers to figure it all out. But as it turns out, this drama unfolds across pages rather than on the silver screen. Overall, this mix of plot elements and how they play out are both classic and quite entertaining.

Krol’s film background, however, may have influenced more than plot and setting. For example, he spends considerable time describing how people look and what they are wearing. “So on this Friday morning, Jim and Elizabeth were doing their regular routine in t-shirts, jeans, and boots. Jim had on his jacket. Elizabeth had her shoulder-length brunette hair in a ponytail.” Of course, writers try to paint a scene with descriptions of appearance but the regularity of these updates when they do little to further the plot was unusual. As a new writer, there were also a few glitches in craft. For one, the editing process was cut short and as a result, there are quite a few minor errors in grammar or spelling, e.g., “He seemed to knew something.” For another, characters are introduced with a full accounting of their background rather than covering the relevant aspects of their history as part of the story.

While the issues above were somewhat distracting, it was the unusual shifts in points of view that caused me more pause. The book is written as third-person omniscient—we should know the thoughts of every character. But often, we jump between the thoughts of two, three, or more characters in a single paragraph including what they didn’t yet realize (i.e., the lack of a thought). And sometimes, it seems the point of view is what we, as readers, should be thinking. For example, after one character (Hill) makes a phone call, we have this: “To Hill, it was a matter of life and death. And who was he talking to?” Obviously, Hill would know who he called, so this seems to be what we should be asking ourselves.

Overall, Syndrome is an engaging tale filled with many classic plot elements from sci-fi film and literature. That aspect of the novel is fun and produced (for me anyway) feelings of nostalgia. Some breakdowns in craft, however, reduce its overall effect.

See on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3aMc9Tc

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Save on a Copy of Mind in the Clouds

“… a crazy wild ride through modern day technology with a little advanced AI thrown in to create an action thriller par excellence.” 

Pick up your copy of Mind in the Clouds while it is only 99 cents, now through August 17.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Book Review: How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones by Terry Sprouse

 An Interesting Historical Self-Help Book

If there was a genre called historical self-help, How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones would be in it. I don’t mean a self-help book written long ago, like how to trim the wicks of your coal oil lamps. Rather, I mean one written today but based on an historical figure—in this case, Abraham Lincoln. Terry Sprouse has compiled numerous quotes and examples of how Lincoln dealt with the pressures of the long road to the US Presidency and his tenure during the Civil War by using storytelling as his means to influence foes and win friends. In Lincoln’s words, “Stories are the shortest path between strangers and friends.” But Sprouse takes it a step further, showing how you may be able to learn from Lincoln to achieve your (probably more modest) goals in life.

I had heard (as I expect many have) that Lincoln had a self-deprecating wit, often directed at his homely appearance—“I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I would be wearing this one?” But Sprouse took my appreciation of Lincoln’s gift for wit and storytelling much further. Lincoln made a practice of learning stories and putting himself in them using his own gestures, facial expressions, and voices. He often added a touch of wit or a moral, as appropriate, and he could tell his stories, again and again, seemingly enjoying them immensely each time. That’s an enviable skill.

Storytelling to win friends and influence people may not be the path for success for everyone, but if you’re so inclined, How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones will give you a leg up on your journey. And if not, it’s still a fascinating read to see how one of the greatest US presidents used this ability to accomplish all that he did.

See on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ktsdOd

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)