Review: The Laughing Corpse

Posted September 19th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

The Laughing Corpse
The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although the “gore score” was a little higher than I’m usually comfortable with, I did really enjoy the audiobook version of this book. It took me through a day of housecleaning (which is one of the reasons I finished it so quickly). I liked Anita Blake’s character, although she’s occasionally a bit *too* sassy. However, she’s a strong and charismatic heroine and one with interesting abilities, and just flawed enough to be human. The plot is fast-paced and engrossing, with lots of thrills, chills, and action, and the book is populated with many interesting characters. Recommended for anyone who likes urban fantasy.



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Interview with D. Emery Bunn

Posted September 19th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

Today on the blog I’m starting what I hope will be an interesting series of interviews with other authors. First up is D. Emery Bunn. Emery is an author, editor, and engineer, though his pile of interests keeps on getting larger. He got his start in writing thanks to National Novel Writing Month, and is an avid supporter of free culture, the power of writing, and the creative arts. Darkness Concealed is his first novel, but he will be working on the sequel and a cyberpunk short story collection. He lives at his home in Clovis, New Mexico.

Darkness_Concealed_cover-(1500x940)Sherry: Hi Emery! Your dark fantasy novel, Darkness Concealed, releases soon. Can you tell us, first, a little about the book and what it’s about?

D. Emery Bunn: Darkness Concealed is a dark fantasy/mystery, with elements of horror, both psychological and physical, sprinkled throughout. It’s a story that feels dark, yet remains a hopeful vibe. And I could quote the synopsis, but what’s the fun in that?

The world suffers an apocalypse that it calls the Darkening. Well-named considering that the dawn doesn’t come, and the moon and stars bail out, too. In their place is a numberless horde of monsters, each of them more than happy to murder everyone they find, and tear civilization to shreds. Few survive the Darkening, but every other day for 149 years is peaceful and safe.

Nobody knows why the Darkening happens, and people have long since given up trying to find out when four strangers end up bound to each other by chance events. The strangers aim for the impossible: answering that “why”, no matter what it takes. And what it takes is more than they thought they’d ever be willing to give.

Sherry: It certainly sounds intriguing! Now, most writers–as readers–have a lot a influences over time. Who were three of your favorite authors when you were younger? What about now?

Emery: I started on “older” books at a fairly young age. I read Lord of the Rings, Dune, and the Foundation Trilogy at age 13. And in a lot of ways, J. R. R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Isaac Asimov are some of the greatest influences. Tolkien for his world-building, Herbert for his philosophical depth, and Asimov for his ability to make everything relate to everything else.

More recently, I’ve also been entranced by the door-stopping work of Neal Stephenson. I’ve read three of his works, including the titanic Baroque Cycle, and still I want to read more. I love how he can go off on a seemingly random tangent, and still take you with him, coming back to the plot at another time that works for him and me. I don’t have anywhere near the confidence to do such a strategy, but it is intriguing.

Sherry: Although writing is usually a solitary craft, most of us have a “support system” of family, friends, and writing groups or colleagues. Who are your biggest supporters?

Emery: I have supporters everywhere. As crazy as it sounds, the people at my work are mind-blown that I’m writing and releasing a book. Every single one says they want to read it.

I’ve also got a large (and growing) support network on Twitter. The vast majority of my publicity push for Darkness Concealed was drawn by asking the people I knew best on Twitter if they’d be willing to help me out. I love interacting with everyone, and offering my own support in one form or another in return.

Finally, my family is supportive, though from a distance. I live on the other side of the country from them, so I don’t draw on them to help me keep writing as much as I would otherwise.

Sherry: That’s wonderful! So let’s talk about the publishing side of things for a moment. Writers have a lot of options today–what made you decide to go the “indie” route? What did you do to prepare yourself to jump into the process of indie publishing?

Emery: I have a very unique view on copyright: I loathe it. I decided early on that anything I ever release will be available, full text, as a free PDF the same day on my site. And that decision limits me to exactly one option: go indie and release it myself.

But beyond that, I love what independent represents, and what it enables. You can market yourself, your books, and your style of writing in any way you want. You can aim for whatever goals make sense to you. Myself, I’m not really worried about making enough to replace my day job (which I do like a good deal), but a little bit of extra money a month would be awesome.

And in no way does my goal limit any one else’s. Going indie can mean anything that you want it to, and I love that.

Sherry: And you’re in this for the long haul. I understand Darkness Concealed is the first book in a series…do you have a schedule in mind for the subsequent books to come out?

Emery: I can’t speak for the third book, but the sequel I’m tentatively planning to have out around July 2015. The first draft will be my NaNoWriMo 2014 project in November, the second draft will be January/February, third draft April/May, final editing late June.

IMG_20131213_205925375Sherry: We’ll be NaNoWriMo pals, then. ;) What else are you working on? Any other current projects?

Emery: During October I want to finish the second draft (and maybe third, we’ll see) of a novella called Nikolay. It’s set in my cyberpunk dystopia/utopia setting Normalization. Everyone is required to be mentally and physically “normal”, and the technology exists to make it happen in both directions (dampening, or enhancing). In return, life is very, very easy-going.

Some people don’t like that, and deliberately break the law by disabling their cybernetic dampening and installing enhancements instead. They live a shadow life, but they get to reach whatever potential they can manage without getting caught and shipped to the asteroid belt. Nikolay is one such person.

Sherry: Sounds like you’re a project-juggler like me. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? What’s your best piece of writing advice for new writers?

Emery: Write a story you want to read. I did that, and no matter what feedback Darkness Concealed receives I will be happy with it. I’m mentally immune to the inevitable 1-star reviews.

For new writers, this is a long, hard road that there is no shortcut on. It might feel like a slog at points, but trust me when I say that the journey is just as fun as the result.

Sherry: Thanks, Emery! D. Emery Bunn’s novel Darkness Concealed releases on September 23rd, 2014. You can find out much more about the novel, Emery, and publication updates at his website, http://www.demerybunn.com. You can also catch up with him on Twitter @demerybunn.

Have a new project you’d like to talk about here? Let me know through the contact page!

The Murder Prophet Release

Posted September 16th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

MP-cover-FINAL-webIt’s out!

The Murder Prophet released yesterday, and is available for instant download from Amazon.

It already has a five-star review from one of the winners of the Rafflecopter giveaway I ran a while back, which was pretty exciting to see!

There’s also still a giveaway running over on Goodreads if you’d rather try your luck there before plunking down your $3 for the ebook. ;)

Review: The Brutal Telling

Posted September 13th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

The Brutal Telling
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reminder: Two stars at Goodreads means “it was ok,” and that’s what I mean by it. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I was very disappointed in this book, after enjoying others in the series so much. Very long, and an extremely disappointing ending that overshadows everything else that the book did right (great writing, characters I enjoy, a complex and interesting plot). I expected a revelation right up until the very end, and the fact that it didn’t come–well, let’s just say the book could have had basically the same ending at about the halfway point. And I still would have been mad about it. :(



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The Murder Prophet Goodreads Giveaway

Posted September 12th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

MP-cover-FINAL-webThe Goodreads Giveaway for print copies of The Murder Prophet is running now! Over 200 people have already entered, so you should get your name in there, too! :)

Find the giveaway here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23006511-the-murder-prophet

The ebook goes on sale this coming Monday, the 15th, and the print version will follow in October.

Murder Prophet release date

Posted September 4th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

MP-cover-FINAL-webIt’s a date! The Murder Prophet will release in ebook formats on September 15th, and the print version shouldn’t be too far behind. The ebook is already available for pre-order at Amazon and Amazon.ca. I’m excited!

In the meantime, you can get a head start by reading the first chapter for free right here.

As if that’s not enough news, I’m also participating in the Masquerade Crew’s September Cover Wars (Part 2 post). If you have 30 seconds to spare, please click over and cast your vote (you can do it daily, and it really helps me spread the word about the book).

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need
Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I don’t aspire to be a screenwriter, I found that this book offered great insights into storytelling in general. There’s much here that I think could be applied to the writing of a novel, or even a short story. I was particularly interested in finding out more about the story “beats” Snyder is known for, and the explanations were very revealing.

The style is conversational and casual, but there’s a lot of information contained within. The author uses many examples from well-known movies to illustrate his points (which made me want to go and watch the movies, in many cases!).

As a writer, I think it’s always good to find new ways of thinking about stories and storytelling, and understanding what we’re trying to do when we tell a story. This book has certainly made me think about storytelling from a different and valuable perspective. Highly recommended for writers of all stripes.



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Review: At Grave’s End

Posted August 28th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

At Grave's End
At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I jumped into this series with this book (I believe it’s the third) I quite enjoyed it and had no trouble getting up to speed with the story or characters. It offers a twist on the usual vampire/urban fantasy tales in that the main character is a half-vampire, which makes her quite interesting.

The pace is quick and the writing is very good for the most part. The audiobook is excellently narrated by Tavia Gilbert, who does a great job with voices and inflections for the various characters.

I got a little weary of the sex around the middle of the book–not that it’s badly-written, just that there was too much of it for my personal taste, and in my opinion, it slowed the story down.

I do know some friends who would probably love this series, so I’ll be recommending it to them, and I may pick up more myself in the future.



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Excerpt – The Murder Prophet

Posted August 25th, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

MP-cover-FINAL-webIf you missed out on last week’s ARC giveaway or didn’t win, I have a consolation prize for you today. The first chapter of The Murder Prophet is live at my website so you can get a taste of the book.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a quirky story, a mashup of urban fantasy (not the sort with vampires, werewolves, or faerie folk) and mystery, flavoured with romance and humour. If you enjoy things like Janet Evanovich’s Lizzy & Diesel books, or Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond books, or Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series, I think (without comparing myself to these authors!) there’s a good chance you’ll like The Murder Prophet.

Anyway, Chapter One is here, so check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Five Obstacles Self-Publishers MUST Overcome – Part 5

Posted August 22nd, 2014 by Sherry Ramsey

typewriterOne more hard truth, fellow self-publishers, and then I’ll stop haranguing you.

Obstacle #5 – You, the Author

This might sound harsh, but all the other obstacles we talked about really stem from one source—the author. Here’s what a lot of authors miss:

Self-publishing does not mean that you can, must, or should do it all yourself.

I think that’s what trips us up. You may be passionate about doing things your way, sticking it to the “gatekeepers,” or just sharing your story with the world. But don’t lose sight of the fact that publishers do not do everything themselves, either. They use editors. They use cover artists. They use book designers. They use marketers. They use people who are trained in these skills, and like it or not, your book is competing with those books for readers’ money and attention.

Yes, it’s possible to do all those things yourself, and do them all well. Maybe you can. But don’t expect to. Don’t assume you can. Instead, assume you have to educate yourself. You have to learn how to do these things, all of these things, well. And you have to accept that sometimes your best effort will not be enough, and you’re going to need help.

Let’s face it, as writers, we all have to have a touch of ego. We want to tell our stories. We want others to listen. We admit, by the mere fact of writing, that we believe we have something to say. But that ego can be our downfall. It tells us we can make a good book cover—or one that’s “good enough”–with no training or experience at all. It tells us that our writing is pretty darn good without any expensive and time-consuming editing. It tells us that if only we shout and shout and shout about our book enough, make our work “discoverable” enough, people will listen and feel compelled to read it, because it’s just that good.

That ego lies. Don’t trust it. View everything it says with suspicion. Assume you can’t do all those things yourself, and educate yourself if you’re determined to try. There’s a much better chance then that I’ll buy your book, and not put it down after the first five pages. And that other readers will follow suit.

The best news in all of this is that it’s not too late. Even if you’ve made one or more of these blunders, thrown these obstacles up in front of your potential readers, you can fix it. You can upload a new cover for an ebook. You can rewrite and change your blurb. You can upload an edited version of your story. You can start promoting more (or less!) or more effectively. You can decide to educate yourself or get help in the areas where your skills are lacking. If you’re in this for the long game, it’s never too late to improve.

Good luck!