Monday, December 31, 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Monday, December 24, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
|Buy it here.|
Nestled between these to anchoring stories, we have an assortment and some with a mystery bent. Though I liked A Basketball, A Storm Drain, and a Choo-Choo Train by Sue Owen, it seemed odd to savor the holidays with a serial killer. Another strong mystery story with a Twilight Zone twist at the end was The Jade Elephant by Libby Fischer.
Eleanor's Christmas Surprise by Tania Tirraoro gives us a story with a sharp reversal at the end. I felt that if the author would have dug a bit deeper, this story could have commanded space and dollars at some of the better print magazines. The bugaboo I had with it is why give away the story with the title--drop 'Surprise' from the title--and don't tip your hand. Rounding out the selections were stories that will satisfy most readers. The collection rates a "4".
|Buy it here!|
Monday, December 3, 2012
|Doctor's rendition of the |
infection he saw.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
The proliferation of holiday stories is like clockwork, and maybe I'll join in some day after the trend has weened, and I'm once again in the dust of the marketing strategy like a salesman for public pay phones. I don't have a holiday story again. I tried to write one, and maybe still will, but I haven't a clue when I'll find the time, and the story I started morphed into something where everyone dies and zombies make presents of brains to each other, each zombie hoping for Einstein's brain, still locked away somewhere. The stories of holiday mirth, redemption, and, sometimes, murderous Santas, are selling on Amazon and elsewhere for $.99 to $5.99 (seriously now!) and are from six (you kidding me) to sixty pages.
|Blatant Plug For My Book (quadruple|
hubba-hubba for the prairie dog)
Great stocking stuffer...really.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I never understood why the "best of" lists come out in late December or early the following year. What people really want to know is: "What were the best books for the past twelve months so I know what to order over Thanksgiving when the real buying season begins." Well, here you go.
|Best I Read in 2012|
Secondly, I've only been given one of these books by the author. In fact, most of these books have been blindly picked from various sources to the surprise and delight (and sometimes consternation) of the authors. I will admit to downloading some "free" books.
Thirdly, I've blogged my rating methodology. I've climbed on Amazon to the 11,082 ranked reviewer. I'm still not entirely sure what that means, but it feels good. My wife was unimpressed until I pointed out that there are more than 12,000,000 ranked reviewers on Amazon. So, I must be writing reviews that people like to read. And, I try to keep my reviews honest--no gimme "5" ratings. And not every book with a "5" is a perfect book. Get over yourselves. There are no perfect books, just books that someone thinks are at the top of their class. And when I do review, I take into account the genre in which the book resides. It would be foolish of me to downgrade a YA book because it lacked the intensity of a King novel. And I don't only read mysteries.
Fourthly, I've met my goal of a book per week although some have not been self-published, which was the other half of the goal, and yes, a few were short story collections. There were not 52 reviews. I struggled mightily with several books that were such a mess that I didn't bother to finish or review them. In hindsight, maybe I should have slapped a "1" or "2" on the book, but you know, sometimes you just have to be ready to read that particular book. For example, I love the movies. I have now seen all but two movies in the AFI100, but yet it took me over thirty years before I saw "The Godfather" trilogy even though I knew intuitively they were great movies. Go figure.
So, in no particular order, the "5" rated, best of the best books for 2012 are:
* Red, Green, or Murder (Posadas County #10) by Steven F. Havill - unmasking murder.
* The Might T by Everett Powers - sometimes even bad guys have a real point to make.
* Just Like That by Les Edgerton - gritty, tough, and real.
* Child of my Heart by Shelia Rudesill - heartbreaking and uplifting.
* Little Mountain by Bob Sanchez - classic internal and external struggle for justice.
The best book I read this year: Little Mountain. Other fine books from 2012 to consider:
* Storm Surge (a Jonie Waters mystery) by Tamara Ward - stay out of the water.
* Bigfoot Hunters by Rick Gualtieri - stay out of the woods.
* Murder Deja Vu by Polly Iyer - stay out of the way.
* Wind Over Troubled Waters - Book One by Edith Parzefall and Francene Stanley - stay out of trouble.
What did I learn? Most self-published "stories" are as good as those stories championed by agents and published by publishers; however, self-published books were rarely as polished in production value, as well edited (though overall quality is down), nor as tight plot-wise as those put out by major publishers. Self-published authors, in general, are still too impatient and too self-reliant (Rick raises his hand) with getting their books out there, and there are still some self-published authors that don't want to hear that message. Being a self-published author, I DO understand the frustration with that message. Several "3" rated books just needed to be beaten like a dirty rug a few more times to truly shine. I'm only beginning to understand the time lag necessary between writing, editing, revising, and publishing. I have no idea what the timeline is to becoming independently wealthy from writing.
Now, what are you waiting for? Buy, read, and eat turkey.
Monday, November 19, 2012
I was just reminded that it's Monday. What, were all you sleeping? How come no one told me it was Monday. I thought it was weird when my wife left early this morning. I began to think that maybe she was giving platelets or had a recorder gig or maybe her choir was singing somewhere or she was playing games with her parents in the assisted living center or maybe she went shopping for turkey or Christmas-related bargains (I've learned not to ask to many questions at this time of the year.).
Sydney didn't tell me. Everyday is the same to him unless it's different by means that he just doesn't understand.
Oh, well. Hope you had a respite from all the usual nonsense I spout here. BIG, BIG news coming soon.
Write on! Write o!! Brothers and sisters, amen. Write on!!!
Posted by Rick Bylina at 5:06 PM
Friday, November 16, 2012
|Me. I am the People Whisperer!|
Next week...exciting news. I can tell. He keeps me up until 2 in the morning working on something. If I could read, I'd tell you about it.
I am, Sydney!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
It's Monday. It's morning. This is your wake-up call. Since most times this blog is about writing, the craft, inspiration, stories, events, failures, or successes, I'm going to try and inspire you with the movement of dirt.
Well, not just any dirt, North Carolina dirt, which if y'all are from here, you might recognize it as most parts clay, heavy, wet gray clay or the heavier and denser than a neutron star, red clay. The road I live on is a private road, apart from the much larger part of our exurbia development. Each of my four neighbors and I own this road, which means we have to maintain it along with the beautification alongside it so it doesn't look like the setting for a horror movie like "Last House Down the Lane" or a backwoods thriller such as Deliverance. In all we do a good job of the 1/3rd of a mile long black-top road that ends at Randy's house.
But, I've had a pile of dirt alongside my road frontage. I paid a six-pack of beer for it to a tired driver who had just wanted to dump his last load of the day from the deforestation project known as the next housing development about four miles away. When I waved the common late Friday afternoon currency, he delivered. The pile sat. Oh, I'd take a wheel barrel full of dirt once in a while, separate the rocks out, and spread the dirt at the edge of the blacktop to keep it from caving in the low spots. But it was long, slow, hard work. At the rate I worked through the pile, Sasha Obama would be looking for her second term as President, and I would probably have forgotten why I was moving the dirt in the first place.
The pile loomed as a constant reminder of things undone, like a good story that needs a strong revision that you just can't seem to get enthused about. Water pooled in front of the pile, which had become a dam in the deep V ditch alongside the road. Thousands of frogs played all summer long in the rich water (clay has a lot of minerals), a black snake enjoyed them thoroughly until a broad-tailed hawk enjoyed the snake. All kinds of water plants nestled along the shoreline of the fifteen-foot long, six-foot wide impromptu pond. I even saw two small fish in the pond one day unclear how they arrived there. I was even considering leaving the bottom portion of the pile as a dam and make the pond a permanent feature, but my sister-in-law, who does not live in our development and was aghast that I'd let the pile sit for 18 months, threatened to call our Homeowners' Association and complain.
I turned to my sister-in-law, "I am the Homeowners Association Board."
It's a small association. I duly noted her complaint then ignored it.
Still, when Randy offered to help me move the pile with his baby backhoe and scoop, I took him up on his offer.
So yesterday, Sunday, we moved the pile. At some point in the four hour long process, all the other neighbors stopped by to watch the progress, catch up on each other's news, suggest ways to break up the bigger clumps of red clay, including dynamite. I thought a block party was going to break out.
The pile was moved, the pond drained, sister-in-law overjoyed, and wife relieved that the second-longest item on the to-do list was vaporized. Neighbors seemed happy that the black-top is now supported better. But this morning I was a bit sad to see the pile gone. The dirt had accidentally created an environment that made frogs, snakes, fish, and hawks thrive. Now, it's just another ditch on the side of the road like thousands of other ditches, wishing they could be more.
I guess I just miss my dirt.
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Now, don't tell me you can't think about something in your life about which to write. Time to write.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
- - - The original review - - -
Monday, October 29, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Posted by Rick Bylina at 9:25 AM
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
I'm honored to be chosen to be part of this blog hop, and I'd like to thank Wendy Laharnar for tagging me to participate. This gives us all a change to view new releases from authors we admire as well as introduce us to some works in progress.
Ten Interview Questions for “The Next Big Thing” are as follows:
On October 31st, my dear friends will be answering the questions about their fabulous novels. so for a treat, hop over and visit them...or, you can go visit them right now.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
I'm watching cable television and the new Amazon Book Show on channel 832.3, showcasing new books every five minutes. Simple format: a 30-second snippet from the author, another thirty seconds with the host reading the back-of-book blurb followed by a one-minute excerpt from the book read by either a gravelly-voiced man or a sickly-sweet sounding woman. Finally, there is a two minute Midwest Book Review or Kirkus talking head, and then it's back to the host for a few seconds before the "word from our sponsor." There is a running ticker across the bottom the screen showing the last five books reviewed, and below it, the top five books for the past 24 hour and their sales. Below it, the Amazon Book Show Facebook page displays for everyone to go to and see all the reviewed books.
"Secrets" comes on as the featured book, but the author is some guy by the name of Sy Sakes.
"Damn, the other writers were right. The title is too common." I pound the arm of the couch. Startled, Sydney, my 20-y-o cockatiel, nips at me.
Sy says, "I wrote this during NANOWRIMO last year as my first novel." He looks at the camera with derision. "It was so easy, I didn't bother to edit it." He sighs as if he is bored. "It is the greatest book ever written." He yawns.
I scoff at his claim then laugh at his arrogance. Sydney cackles along with me. The host reads the back-of-book-blurb.
"Damn, that blurb is almost identical to mine. Don, Edith, and Peter were right. Mine was too generic. Just like this guy's blurb. Can I stomach to do it again?"
The book cover comes up onto the screen. I gasp. The gravelly-voiced man speaks:
Gravelly Voice applauds this reading then salutes the author. I fall out of my chair in shock. Sydney attacks the television. "That's my book!" I scream
The reviewer comes on. "What can I say? This IS the greatest book ever written."
The host reappears. "Wow. It must be good. That is the shortest review we've ever had. And now a word from our sponsor."
I watch in horror. Some guy names Sy Sakes has stolen my novel and put it up on the Amazon Book Show claiming he wrote it. I'm freaking! The sales counter is going nuts. I never knew this show existed until now and was so popular. I'd only installed cable a week ago. In three minutes, over 100,000 orders have come in for the book. The counter is flipping over faster than the date clock on Rod Taylor's time machine in the classic movie "The Time Machine".
I dash to the computer in the office and go to the Facebook page. I can't get on. Too many people accessing it. I hear from the other room the host come back on the television.
"Due to the excitement over this book, we are rerunning the last segment again."
Obscenities fly out of my mouth like prayers from the Pope on Easter Sunday. Sydney squawks and runs for cover. I get on the site. The online tote board shows over 400,000 orders at $5.99 for the e-book and $21.99 for the paperback. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God." I've heard about these book thieves before, but never thought it would happen to me. Somehow, somewhere, he got my book. One of my first readers, I'm thinking, must have been hacked. It can't be me. I'm too cautious.
Finally, I find the number for the Amazon Book Show (ABS). I call. "Do to the high volume of traffic for orders for "Secrets," there is a four hour delay to reach an operator." I don't hang up. I wait while I think what else I can do.
After an hour of online searching and digging and hacking, while still on hold for the ABS, I find Sy Sakes. There's a picture. It's him. The bastard only lives an hour away. Keeping the call to ABS alive on my cell phone, I hop into my car and drive to Lizard Lick, North Carolina. I find his house and rush up to the door.
"Sy answer the door," I shout.
I shoot that dirty egg-sucking dog down dead.
"Welcome to Amazon Book Services, how can I service you," is the last thing I remember from Friday night.
I'm out on bail now. It's eleven at night on Sunday. Over 24,001,046 books sold in 48 hours before they halted sales. Amazon efficiency has exported the money to an off-shore account already...$84 million. Sy's wife claimed no knowledge on Saturday at my hearing, but today, Sunday, she fled on a late afternoon flight to Belize according to the cops. Her attorney vows to continue the fight for the rights to the book. My lawyer says, despite all my drafts, reviews, critiques, and copies, it will be hard for me to prove the book is mine with Sy dead. "Hard to cross-examine a dead man."
Amazon bans me from their site forever. Barnes and Noble follows suit.
Lawyer says, "Should have changed the title when you were told to do so."
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