Monday, July 23, 2012

The Cover is Ready!

Just got the finalized cover art for Ghosts of Babylon from the publisher.
The novel should go live next month!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oldies But Goodies

The e-book revolution has been a very, very good thing. The old gate keepers have been put aside. As a result readers and authors are enjoying unprecedented access to each other. If you're reading this, you are probably one of the growing numbers who buy their books almost exclusively online.

But there are some great older books that have been excluded in this digital tsunami. Team Yankee and A Canticle for Leibowitz are two such books. Both are classics in their genres and outstanding reads.

Team Yankee1. Team Yankee, Harold Coyle (1987): From – “A realistic depiction of World War III combat follows Captain Sean Bannion and the tank soldiers of Team Yankee as they battle the Russian invasion force, from Hill 214 in West Germany to the ultimate cease-fire.”
     Harold Coyle's first novel. The definitive novel of the great war that almost was. I read this as a young tank platoon leader and was blown away (no pun intended). The realism, grit, and heart of this novel showcase the timeless challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs of soldiers from any era.

A Canticle for Leibowitz2. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr. (1960): From – “In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.”
     I first read this Hugo Award winning classic as high school senior. It was required reading for English class. This groundbreaking novel turned ne on to a genre that I enjoy to this day.

Do you have any old favourites that missed the digital boat? If so, share these lost treasures with the rest of us!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


This is a little off our usual topics, but who can resist the Cookie Monster spoofing 'Call Me Maybe'

Great Article from a Fellow GWOT Veteran

This article is by Joe Kassabian. He's a writer, soldier, and artist. It deals with the difficulties of going from a war zone to the home front.

Check it out and send Joe a comment!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Publishing: An Industry Turned on Its Head

The publishing industry is in a state of upheaval. Duh. An hour’s worth of internet research can tell you that. The Net is packed with blogs chronicling the shifting sands of the industry. We can only be certain that nothing is certain.
Here’s a snapshot of the current situation as I see it. Traditional publishers are under incredible budgetary pressure. The number of titles they produce each year has dropped dramatically. This means each one has to earn more money. A book that loses money hurts more than it did a few years ago. Publishers can’t afford to take risks anymore. They need guaranteed sales. Luckily for them, there are two categories of books that can provide this.
The first are Non-fiction titles by widely known authors. Hence the glut of displays at your local book store touting titles ‘written’ by celebrities and reality show stars (Snooki wrote a book? I didn’t even know that chick could read!). Everybody knows their names and faces. The cover usually hints at the promise of inside gossip or something along those lines. These books have a short shelf life and probably won’t see many printings, but publishers can accurately predict how many they’ll sell.
The second group is made up of fiction written by the publishers’ stables of established authors. A publisher knows it will sell X thousand copies of anything with Stephen King’s name on it. The same goes for most established authors. They are known quantities and, as such, pose little to no risk for the publisher.
The big losers in this scenario are new fiction authors. It’s harder than ever for them to break into the ranks of the published. No one is willing to take a chance on them. This seemingly insurmountable obstacle to getting published coincided with another phenomena: e-books.
Since its introduction in 2007, the Amazon Kindle has been gobbling up market share faster than Pac Man after a power pellet. E-readers gave people the ability to shop for and buy books from the couch, bed, coffee shop…even from the bookstore for those with a penchant for irony.
As if that wasn’t enough, authors could now upload their own unpublished works for free and achieve instant access to a worldwide readership. The big publishers laughed. They were the gatekeepers, after all. Nobody would dare read an author without their approval. Well, people did read the books of these self-published Indie upstarts. They read a lot of them. The publishers were unmoved. To prove their superiority and protect print sales, they boldly offered e-book editions for the same price (higher price in some cases) as their print editions. They’re still doing this by the way.
Indie authors, on the other hand, are producing books of equal quality and production value to those of traditional publishers. And most are selling their novels for $2.99 or less. True, these indie titles are a mixed bag, but the market has done a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff so far. I’ve linked the blogs of several of the more successful indie authors on the left of my blog. Most have self-published best sellers. A few actually share their sales info. I’d lose control of my bodily functions over a fraction of their numbers.
Is this the end of traditional publishing? Maybe not.
A funny thing is happening more and more. These super successful indie authors are signing fat book deals with big publishers. Amanda Hocking, Tracey Garvis Graves, and E.L. James are just a few.
It makes good business sense for the publishers. These ‘new’ authors are a known quantity. They already have a following. The brand is established. And most of all, they have proven they can sell lots of books. Could it be that successful self-publishing (once stigmatized as the last resort of the truly desperate and untalented) is becoming the new gateway to traditional publishers? If you already sold 300,000 books on your own while earning 70% royalties, would you even want to sign with a publisher?
Who knows. The industry is changing so fast, it’s hard for any of us to know where it is, let alone where it’s going. But there are great opportunities for those aspiring authors willing to take a literary leap of faith. I don’t know how long this window will last, so if anyone is thinking of jump in. The only thing I have to say is, “Start writing!”

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: A Storm of Swords

Don't worry. No spoilers here.
     I just finished reading A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. The book is the third in his A Song of Fire and Ice series made popular by the HBO series 'A Game of Thrones.'
     This book picks up where the second season (which was based on book two, Clash of Kings) left off. I'd read the first two books and loved them, so naturally I was eager to start the third. I was soon disappointed by the slow going and almost gave up. As I said, the pace was frustratingly slow (much like the first 100 pages of A Game of Thrones), but I stuck with it because I'd already committed so much time to the series. Well, I'm glad I did.
     After a few hundred pages, the story went from zero to sixty faster than funny car on nitrous oxide. Every other chapter, I was saying things to myself like, "No way!" and "I don't believe it!"
     This is when the reader is reminded why this series is so popular. Martin breaks all the rules when it finally hits the fan. If you've read many books or watched a lot of movies, you can usually see a plot twist coming a mile away. Not here. This book took me completely by surprise not once, but several times. And I enjoyed every minute of it. I promised no spoilers and will stay true to my word, but I will say that this book is like the other two in this: No one is safe.
     What a great read! As soon as I finished the book, I immediately gave it to my wife to start. She's seen the first two seasons of A Game of Thrones, but hasn't read the books. Luckily, she should be okay since the show stayed very true to the literature aside from a few side details.
     In case you can't tell, I highly recommend this book.

I give it four and half swords  * * * * 1/2. It would have been five, but having to slog through several hundred pages of boredom to get to the good stuff had to be addressed. If you take that out, it would be one of the best books I've ever read. Maybe it is anyway.

     PS: I'm a little wary about starting the next book, A Feast for Crows. The reviews for it are less than stellar and most have the same complaint: Too slow and boring. The most recent book 'A Dance with Dragons' has received similar critiques.
    Being a slow reader, (it took me weeks...okay read A Storm of Swords) I don't know if I want to invest as much time in the next books. I may just find a synopsis of them on the net to stay up to speed and wait for The Winds of Winter.