Title: The Uncanny Valley – Tales from a Lost Town Author: Gregory Miller Illustrator: John York Published: January6th 2014 by West Arcadia Press (first published May 27th 2011) ASIN: B00HQW3AHA http://authorgregorymiller.wordpress.com/ Pages: 141 Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Short Stories, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror
Welcome to the Uncanny Valley where a public broadcasting affiliate requested their listeners to submit essays about a ‘specific historical, ritualistic, or personal event’ that described the culture of their own hometown. What results is a horrifying collection of 33 eerie tales told by the residents of Uncanny Valley just as they were sent in to the contest. Some of these tales were just plain creepy and a couple were delightful and humorous in a ghoulish way. What remains to be seen is whether the town actually existed…
I loved the brevity of the stories and the fact that they were told in the words of the actual residents from all ages and occupations. Each story takes you on a personal journey of events that are spine-chilling and mind boggling. I loved reading this collection of adult ghost stories, which was the sort we would tell around a campfire when we were children.
My favorite story was “Mrs. Karswell’s Garden,” which was the tale of a supernatural garden that gave refuge to a brother and sister from a family that abused them physically and mentally. It was a poignant tale about transitioning into an adult.
I found this book on my usual search for free Kindle books on Amazon and was blown away by the writing and storytelling. If you are a fan of Ray Bradbury you will love the way the stories build off of one another bringing you to an unexpected end. Gregory Miller is adept at building suspense and drawing you along on a masterful journey of which you will never forget. I had some strange dreams for awhile after reading this book.
I do want to mention the illustrator, John York, whose drawings helped to illustrate the peculiar happenings in the book. Even with my Kindle paperwhite I was able to discern the terror and dread depicted on the faces of many of the town’s people. The drawings added a sinister flair and increased my enjoyment in the stories.
While reading,I was reminded how fragile life truly is and how there is magic present in our lives if we choose to look hard enough. There is a humanistic quality to each of these stories ranging from accounts of bullying, vengeance, a haunting, murder, and even vampires. The Uncanny Valley asks you to deal with your fears by taking the well-known in your life and molding it into something to be feared. Disturbing and creepy, you will love this book!
RATINGS Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 3.8
Buy it at:Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback:$6.99 US Kindle:$.99 US
Yes, I got mail. And no, it wasn’t fan mail. I don’t actually get any of that these days. Ever since they did away with the Scottish American version of Menudo my mail has been a bit skimpy of the fan sort.
But I do have something pretty good for all you author types, Scottish American or not.
Authors Publish is a site you can go to and subscribe to for FREE. Don’t you just love how I cap that word? Just click here to go there. But you might want to know why to bother. Well each week they review a publisher and give you all the details. They try to help us find the good ones. Well since it’s the end of the year, guess what kind of list they came out with?
You guessed right if you said . . .
The Nine Best Manuscript Publishers in 2014
That link up there will take you to the list and you can check things out, including their reviews. And guess what? “All of these publishers are open to pitch or manuscript submissions from authors without an agent or previous publishing experience.“
Now remember this is just of the ones they reviewed for the year, not of every single publisher out there. Just keep that in mind. But good luck. You never know when one might fit you.
This is the second novel I read by author Jordi Díez after really enjoying Virgin of the Sun. The plots are quite different and in many ways The Pendulum of God is a much more complicated story. Although the main action takes place in the here and now (well, a few years back), there are segments of the story that happen in the early Christian era, others in the Middle Ages (XIII Century), in the XVIII Century and even during WWII. And the settings also take us from Barcelona to Paris, Romania, Switzerland, San Sebastián, Israel and many other places in between.
There is intrigue, conspiracy theories, the search for a secret document that two enemy sides have been after for centuries, goodies that are not always as good as they seem to be, baddies who are sometimes worse than anybody would give them credit for, secret identities, crimes, miracles, games of cat and mouse, follow the clues, historical facts and flights of fancy, love and betrayal…The Pendulum of God is a great adventure, that quickens its pace the further the plot advances and you’ll find difficult to stop reading.
I also found connections with Virgin of the Sun because the main character, Cécil, experiments a profound change during his journey. From the rationality and adherence to facts that are part and parcel of his job as an auditor, he sees his cynical stance challenged by communities and beliefs whose life style and assumptions are completely outside of his comfort zone. Many extraordinary things happen in this book, but the evolution of its protagonist is, in many ways, the most extraordinary of all.
If you enjoy following clues, mysteries and adventures, you’ll enjoy this book. If you like to explore historical eras and facts from the past, you’ll find much to occupy your mind. If you’ve always wondered how far you would go to change your life, this book might make you think again.
I will follow the author with interest and hope there will be more novels soon.
Because Christmas day is one of the few days when Indie writers can’t think up good enough excuses to stay hunched over hot computers in their garrets, and the time of year when they totally invest themselves in the overconsumption of mince pies while staring resentfully at their abductors, and probably drink too much eggnog trying not to think about their abandoned work in progress, I’ll keep this Thursday’s post very short with a couple of tips for those nontechie scribblers amongst us.
1. Create a clickable link to go into your eBook. Type the text as you want it to appear in your manuscript – the name of another book for instance. Highlight that text and right click on it. Select Hyperlink and paste the URL address into the box and save.
2. If you find it painful creating HTML for clickable links on your blog posts, go to Ecalpemos and you can generate them there.
3. Instead of inserting all the HTML code yourself, if you want to create a post complete with pictures, links, and text to send out for a blog tour, click on your Text tab in a new blog post, create the post there and then copy and paste it onto a Word document. Double check before sending it out by copying the text from your Word doc, pasting it into a new post, and checking in your preview window to make sure all is as it should be.
4. Remember that all HTML posts must be done in your Text tab, and not the Visual one.
Donna thought there was something wrong with her. That she was suffering from a mental illness that has caused her husband to despise her, distance himself from her, and cheat on her. She blames herself for the desolate, miserable thing that is her marriage and her life. Then she comes across a book that will change everything for her, and reading it, she discovers that there’s nothing wrong with her mind at all, but that there is something very wrong with her husband instead. Marco, she realises, is a malignant narcissist. A text book case. He has a real and documented mental disorder, and that he’s been controlling, manipulating, and abusing her for decades. The sudden full knowledge of all that he’s purposely done to her enrages her. Not sure how to leave after thirty years of what she finally knows has been intentional mental and emotional abuse from him, and believing that she has nowhere to turn, being so physically isolated, she bides her time.
Then she meets and befriends a group of unusual people who share her passion for gardening, and so begins her journey to escape. She joins her new friends in their project to assist elderly people in old age homes care for their small gardens, as well as secretly supplying those suffering from painful and terminal illnesses with medicinal herb and plant remedies, including illegal plants such as cannabis. As weeks go by, she delves into her memories, relearns what it is to be respected, liked, and loved again, and slowly she formulates a plan to safely leave her dangerous husband. But unbeknownst to Donna, Marco is in serious trouble, and has desperate plans of his own, and absolutely no regard for her safety.
** This is a work of fiction, but malignant narcissists really do exist, and it is a recognised mental illness. Unfortunately, many people never realise that they are involved with a narcissist, because their actions are so demonically bad as to be unimaginable and unbelievable, and so they spend their lives in misery, depression, fear, and isolation. If only by the accidental reading of a fictional story, I hope that this book will help even one person, unknowingly suffering narcissistic abuse, to realise that they don’t have to, and that it’s never too late to start over, be happy, be fulfilled, to love and care for yourself, and be truly loved and respected by others.
Jo Robinson very recently returned to her homeland, South Africa, after having lived in rural Zimbabwe for eighteen years. Her obsessive affection for the African continent, most humans, and all creatures feathered and furred are what inspire her writing. She is the author of African Me & Satellite TV, the science-fiction/fantasy series Shadow People, and a couple of short stories, which will be free to download from Amazon from 26 to 30 December,Fly Birdie and The Visitation.
To win eBook copies of Shadow People and African Me & Satellite TV, send Jo a message from THIS page.
Title: The Dystopian Nation of City-State: An Anthology: Origin, Corruption, and Rebellion
Author: Courtney James, Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills
Published: 20th Nov 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction, YA (12 to 18)
I must confess this is not my usual kind of book, and I read it as it were by mistake. I have a long list of books to read, organised (?) according to how pressing the reviews are (I review for a digital magazine, also in Netgalley, and for a literary blog apart from sharing in my own blog and in a variety of places) and I got confused. When I realised this was not the next book on my list, I’d read around 70% of it so I couldn’t see much point in switching over. And I was gripped by the story/stories of this strange futuristic universe.
This is an episodic book, a collection of scenes and snippets, that can result a bit jarring when reading, but the whole picture of this dystopian future that is created through the variety of accounts and scenes becomes an almost coherent (and pretty scary) whole.
Not being a big sci-fi reader, I didn’t particularly miss the technological detail (although I think good aficionados might have something to say about buildings 200 storeys high. I loved the idea of an Olympus space-floating island where only the elite could live. I can imagine the technological challenge) whilst I happily connected with some of the darkest aspects of the story, like the strange cult that requires human sacrifices, the extremes of social prejudice and classification (that reminded me of Huxley’s A Brave New World) and the extremely corrupt politics.
The language was very simple and I thought the book could have benefited from another pair of eyes on the proofreading, editing stage, but the typos did not become distracting. It was an easy read although some people might appreciate more detail regarding descriptions of the layers of the world and the new technology. Considering the book is listed as for ages between 12 and 18 it probably pitches at the right level.
I’m not sure if there are plans for carrying on writing the series, but I felt with a bit more work connecting the episodes, there is very good material and fascinating ideas to get imaginations fired up. And as happens with the best dystopias, it makes one think about our world today.
It might be too fractured for some readers, but if you approach it with an open mind and are interested in dystopias and exploring possible future scenarios, there’s much to enjoy in this book.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 3.5/5 Recommended: 3.5/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: e-book Paperback: Kindle: $2.06
There are a few articles that I’ve put out since LWI was created that I want to share with those of you that might be new to the site. Since it’s the end of the year I thought I would list them here so if one looked interesting then you could go and check it out.
This one didn’t get a lot of views but it should have. One thing Authors need to know is that when a potential buyer is looking for a book, the description is the third thing they see. You need the title and book cover as the first two and then the description to actually MAKE the sale. This is for fiction and Non-Fiction.
This is one of the more popular articles I came up with. Everyone that reviews books has a method, or should. This is one way. Ultimately, be honest and informative to the reader and the author. Just don’t tell the story to the reader.
This is a strange one perhaps but useful. It has made it impossible for me to get in touch with Authors I want to interview. Now I go through a lot to try to find a way to contact an author, more so than let’s say an agent might who happens upon someone as they are just looking around. And a reader will not try as hard as I do to find you either.
I’ll start off by saying, Mike Phelps is a friend of mine since I interviewed him. You can’t help it. But that doesn’t mean this review will be anything but honest. If I couldn’t give an honest review on the site I created then I would not do the review.
David Janssen wasn’t just a Star. He was human like the rest of us. He had the same problems but at times magnified with different circumstances but the Exact. Same. Problems. It’s just that his problems were free game for the world to see. Just think, you frown in a picture next to your wife or girlfriend and the next thing you know the world hears there is trouble in paradise. You and your girl find out there is a problem in your life months before there is one. Self fulling perhaps? Who knows?
In David Janssen-Our Conversations Volume One-The Early Years: 1965-1972 we discover just how human David Janssen was. The original Fugitive before Harrison Ford knew what a Wookie was and the reason the movie Ford was in was ever even made. But we also discover how super human he was. His long time non-Hollywood friend Michael Phelps gives us an inside look at just how David Janssen handled some of the toughest moments of his life, including his divorce from his first wife, Ellie Janssen. If you don’t know about that particular part of Janssen’s life, you’ll find out why I call Janssen super human.
David Janssen’s success with The Fugitive series and his problems following its success and its ending while still at the top of the ratings are discussed along with relationship problems with Ellie Janssen, Rosemary Forsyth and the woman he missed out on, as well as his love for the children the women brought into his life.
I like that we see David’s side of things, even these many years after Ellie Janssen’s biography David Janssen-My Fugitive told a decidedly different story about her time with David. A biography in which Michael Phelps was involved with but has clearly stated was Ellie’s story, not his. He typed as she dictated with his filling in blanks one moment while dodging flying glass objects another.
Michael Phelps’ back ground as a police officer prior to meeting David Janssen and then in security and as an investigator comes through in his approach to sharing his memories. As a historian I enjoyed the straightforward way the conversations were presented with small snippets of Michael Phelps’ own life interlaced to give a good passage of time and some parallels of the two friends’ lives that I’m not even sure Phelps realizes. This wasn’t just about a man sitting around waiting for his famous friend to call. Mike had his own life and David was interested in that life. Mike cared about David Janssen just as you care about your best friend. The long distance friendship Janssen and Phelps shared proved to me what kind of man Janssen was more than the words spoken revealed. And Mike’s concern for David throughout is obvious. That’s Mike. That’s Mike then, and that’s Mike now.
I enjoyed discovering David Janssen’s opinions about John Wayne, which I could see as being true. The discussions between Phelps and Janssen about Jack Webb of Dragnet fame who was the creator and executive producer of O’Hara: U.S. Treasury, a one season Janssen series. The people David found to be true friends were at times surprising to me. As you read through the conversations David also reveals more about himself than I think Michael Phelps realizes. In a way I think Mike was living a life that David Janssen wanted, but never realized it was what he wanted. David never actually recognized that was part of the thing that made his friendship with Michael Phelps work.
You move through the book at a good pace waiting for that next communication with David Janssen to find out what was going on in all facets of his life. Parts of conversations at times were just like any other friendship in the world in that things were repeated just like you would to your own friend; Greetings, inside jokes and endearments. You find yourself saying the same things with the nuggets of information mixed in. That was part of the editing agreement Michael Phelps had, don’t touch the conversations. Just think, “Hi, Dave.” “How did you know it was me,” Mike said with a laugh through the phone. “I would kill anyone else calling me at 3 AM.” (my paraphrasing of dialogue) That’s Michael Phelps.
As for the writing itself? Chapters are short so you commit to very small amounts of time reading and you know if you start another chapter it won’t be much to jump into as you are about to head out the door or go to bed. David Janssen did have a use of language at times that one might would expect from someone in the middle of situations he found himself in, but that adds to the authenticity of the book. I recommend reading this over the course of days as opposed to in one or two sittings. The reasons being there is a lot of information and the repetitive nature of parts of conversations between friends might lead ones eyes to skip forward. If you do, you might miss little moments that are very telling.
Michael Phelps gives the warts and all. Sure, Janssen was his friend but he gives it all to us. We get to make our own opinions.
If you are wanting a book to learn about the behind the scenes world of Hollywood, how actors had to play the game, how they had to worry about things we never need to and learn about a TV Icon Legend, about how a TV series really is made, then this is the book for you. Gift it if you want to.
Overall, this is a recommendation for any fan of old school real acting TV and Movie legends. This isn’t a name dropping sensationalist book, though names are mentioned. What you get is David Janssen, period.
If I had money to spend as an author what would I do?
First I would make sure I was looking at the right bank account.
Then one thing I would spend money on is a . . .
Book Cover Artist
Sure, I think I could actually make my own book cover. I’m pretty creative, have a good eye. But a really great book cover takes time. That time is time I could be using writing or promoting my books or someone else’s books. I can give a book cover artist my basic idea and they will perform their magic and tweak until everything is just right. Of course I have the book cover artist for you. Even if I had a lot of money, I wouldn’t spend it carelessly. CHRIS GRAHAM has great rates on book covers and I KNOW he works with an author to get the cover just right. Not a stock cover but a one of a kind cover. How do I know this? He’s done covers for our very own Jo Robinson. Check his rates here.Can’t afford a Book Cover artist, even at Chris’ prices, check out Jo’s article on how to create your own book covers here.
Next, I’m a History guy. I used to teach and now I write. History, not English. That means I need help in proofing and editing. There is nothing worse than writing a great book and having it rejected because your grammar, punctuation and all of that just plain out stinks. Yeah, stinks. Give in and accept it. We all need help and I don’t care who you are. Fresh eyes are always better than your own. You will read a paragraph 100 times and read what it is supposed to say. I will read it once and find two words missing that when just annoy a publisher or agent because they expect you to put forth your best and most professional work. So who do I have for you? WENDY JANES, author and everything else I’ve mentioned. She has good rates from others I have heard but not so low you worry. Remember, you get what you pay for and I TRUST Wendy. Click here to get her rates. And she has testimonials here including those from highly reviewed books.
The first two people I know. I’ve interviewed them and they are great people. I trust them. Now here comes someone I haven’t met but hope to soon.
Yes, you need an editor. that person that will tell you like it is. They might make you cry as they point out that your favorite line in the book just doesn’t work and serves no purpose. Yeah, I’ve been there. I interviewed an author recently, read the unedited version of that person’s book and then part of the edited version. We all need editors. Just saying. A great one is the one that edited the book I read. Her name is NORMA BUDDEN. She’s also an author. I think it always helps for an Editor to be an Author as well. They get us. They understand how difficult it is for us. And they want it to be a success just as bad as we do. You can find Norma by clicking here.
Well those are the three things I would spend money on at the moment. Sure there are other things out there as well, but for now these are three things I would want to begin my career on the right foot.
I have only read 5 of the many on that list, I’d better get cracking… If you wish, listen to the TED Talks of these talented people. They seem interesting and might just inspire… I for one plan to catch up on my viewing… thus speaketh the nerd 🙂
OR you can browse these Lists for ‘recommendations’:
I know that everyone says that we should pay for cover artists and editors, and if we can afford it, I really think that we should. However, that probably makes us hybrid authors – who knows? So, in the spirit of the Absolute Indie, slaving away in a garret with a shortage of funds, we should know how to make a decent cover ourselves. Most people have either an iPhone or an Android these days. These phones take amazing pictures, and have all sorts of features from sepia effects to zoom and macro capabilities. No, no. Come out from under the desk my technophobic scribblers. It’s not that hard, and even pics taken with really old dinosaur phones can be manipulated into really cool covers. Let me show you the basics.
I’m going to be using one of my favourite programmes for this because it’s very easy to use. So if you’re a total newbie at cover creation without any software already installed on your computer, the first step is to download Paint.net – it’s totally free. Once you’ve installed and opened it, you will see this screen.
Click on the Layers tab (fifth from the left in the top ribbon). Select Import From File and upload your background image. You can find something in the public domain to use or pay for one from sites like Shutterstock or Dreamstime, but MAKE SURE that it is free to use for commercial purposes. Or you could take your own background photos or scans – I’m using a photo of a piece of fancy paper here.
Now go back to the Layers tab and click Import From File again to start working on your next cover element. I’m using an ancient photo from my computer taken with an ancient cellphone.
Stretch it out to the size you want it to be, and move it to where you’d like it to grace your cover. Go to your tools box in the top left corner, and select the square in the top left corner of it.
Drag your cursor over parts of the image background that you want to delete, and then hit the scissors icon in the top ribbon. Do this as many times as necessary to remove large patches of unwanted background.
Now select the Eraser in your toolbox (sixth down on the right) and play around with it – use the Brush Width in the ribbon above for thick sections to erase or thin fiddly bits of background. Take your time and use the Undo button (left facing arrow in the top ribbon) to go back as many steps as you like. Go back to your toolbox and select the triangle icon in the top right corner, move the image around or turn it until you’re happy with it.
If you’re happy with your image the way it is then you can begin to add text. Or you can add another layer as before. In the Layers box in the bottom right corner, select the icon on the far right to adjust your current layer’s opacity, which will make it as see through as you like. For now I’m going to pretend that this cover is just awesome, and add some text. First go to your Layers tab, and select Add New Layer. Then select Text in your toolbox. Choose your font and font size, and click on the font colour you want in the Colour box in the bottom left corner. Click on your cover where you want your text to begin and go for it.
When you’re happy with your cover, click Save As and select Save as Type JPEG (Underneath the image title) and there you have your cover. Check on the requirements of the various online booksellers as far as size requirements are, and go back to Paint.net and resize in a flash.
I’m not even going to pretend that this particular cover could ever be used (it REALLY couldn’t be – in fact it’s a perfect example of the hastily created covers that give Indies a bad name), because a good cover is going to take longer to make than the time it took me to write this post, but I want to share the very basics of making your own cover easily. If you play around with this programme you’ll learn much, much more, so there’s no reason not to make a really attractive cover of your own if you’re short of cash, or simply if you fancy doing it yourself.
Title: Jasper Penzey International Boy Detective: The Ruby Brooch of Atlantis Author: Monica LaSarre monicalasarre.com Format: Hardcover Price: $13.01 File Size: 5430 KB Print Length: 144 pages Genre: Detective, Adventure, Middle Grades, Fantasy Simultaneous Device usage: Unlimited Publisher: Chalfant Eckert Publishing Published: 21 Oct 2014 Language: English ASIN: B00OR2NFXG ISBN-10: 1633081206 ISBN-13: 978-1633081208 Text-to-Speech: Enabled X-Ray: Not Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Sold by:AmazonBarnes&Noble
Nine year old Jasper’s life changes unexpectedly when his father announces the two of them are moving to Greece because of his work. With a mysterious gift and message left for him on his windowsill Jasper begins an adventure in a new country that takes him in search of the secret to finding the Lost City of Atlantis. Does Atlantis exist? How can he find it? And who is trying to stop him?
With a 10 year old, intelligent and inquisitive son of my own I was looking forward to reading this book. The book is aimed at Middle Grade readers and I can see that through some of the word usage and the thinking processes used by Jasper. Very well done. Very much Recommended on that front. Some of he words will push a young reader just enough to make it a challenge but not take away from the enjoyment.
Being a debut novel I was surprised by the great imagery the book provided. LaSarre really does an amazing job of making you feel like you are in the various environments of the book ranging from Louisiana to Greece. Very good descriptions but not at all over done. Just the right touch.
The characters in the book are mostly believable with only a couple of actions that caused me to pause as to how and why but nothing to take away from the book. The story itself is very easy to follow and the flow is good until right near the end where a few things became slightly confusing because of the action taking place but ultimately it all came together.
For a young reader this would be a great book. It gives just enough to make for an interesting read without being loaded down with a lot of unneeded mythological or archaeological details you would find in an older reader book. My son is the next one to read it. He’s been waiting for it.
Ratings Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall Enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 3.7/5