Posts tagged with "The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off" :: Page 2
Life was going just fine for Mattie when on her meter-maid route she discovers that a demon is following her. This is bad news, since the FBI considers demon masters potential terrorists. She’s desperate to find someone to get rid of the stinky little guy when…another one seems to attach itself to her. That’s impossible, isn’t it?
Mattie feels like she messes up everything: she gets put on probation from her job, hurts herself and totals the moped she uses on her rounds, misses her demon-banishing appointments, and now has to babysit her niece for a few days while her brother Lance is out of town. Friend Karen takes her out for lunch and helps Mattie get some much-needed perspective–and a potential date from the hunky waiter. But then Mattie discovers that Lance is up to his old gambling problems again, more demons start following her around, and she learns that the FBI wants to talk to her.
DESTINY BLUES by Sharon Joss is one of the books from Mark Lawrence’s Blog-Off given to EBR. LARCOUT (EBR Review), which I finished before this book, is a better novel overall, so alas DESTINY won’t make it to the next round here at EBR, but I wanted to point out that despite its failings, this book was fun to read and it’s easy to see this author’s potential.
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Vadrigyn is a demi-god. Kind of. I’m not really clear on that, but I am clear on one thing: she can kick your butt.
Being raised by a brutal (inhuman Morsam) father and an insane (human witch from the Jeweled Nation) mother in a harsh environment has made her stronger than the usual human. It helps that fire courses through her veins instead of blood, she’s physically stronger, and venomous parasites inhabit her body and instantly kill anyone who touches her.
But what differentiates Vadrigyn from the other Morsam is that she tries to perform the will of the gods and avoids killing indiscriminately–in an attempt to secure her freedom from the Morsam lifestyle. As a result the gods have decided to test her in the Jeweled Nation where she will undergo her Trial of Identity, and in the process learn about her magic and challenge her innate need for death and destruction.
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The End: Self-Pubbed Blog-Off
Well here we are. The end. It’s finally come. Oddly enough, I don’t mean this in a bad way. When I asked my fellow reviewers here at EBR if they wanted to participate in this contest, they said yes… but were worried. I shared that concern. Would we be able to get through a single novel? Would we be happy picking a winner? Would any of the novels be good? Adequate, even?
In our original slush pile of 26 novels, we finished exactly two. THE THIEF WHO PULLED ON TROUBLE’S BRAIDS and SAND AND BLOOD. We ended up sending THIEF on to the final round with a score of 7/10. Very respectable.
City of Burning Shadows
For those of you who have been following the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Mark Lawrence has been running for the last six months, you’ll know that we’re into the final round where, theoretically, the ten best novels of the approximately 275 that were submitted are now in our hands. For those of you who weren’t aware of this… you now are. The reading process has moved along smashingly well for me. In fact, significantly better than it should be. As of this moment, I’ve placed my completion mark on all of the stories I’ve been given thus far and only completely finished reading two of them: the one that we submitted to the pool from the first round, THE THIEF WHO PULLED ON TROUBLE’S BRAIDS (EBR Review), and this one. Unlike any of the other stories in the finalists’ pool, this one immediately grabbed me, immediately impressed me, and immediately impressed upon me that it was going to be a brilliant read.
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EBR’s Self-Published Blog-off Finalist
The time has finally come for us to make a decision. Firstly though, I thought I’d mention how we decided what to pick:
1) We selected the two novels that we felt best represented the spirit of the contest.
2) Each member of the EBR Team read both books, then told the others which one they had picked and why.
3) The book with the most votes became our finalist.
Seems simple, right? It wasn’t. See, this task wasn’t just about grabbing two books off a bookshelf and saying which was better. The largest reason for this was that neither of these books have had professional edits, and so we ended up having to tackle the problem by saying, “Well, if it HAD been given those edits, the novel would probably have turned out like THIS.”
We talked about writing ability, originality, pacing, foreshadowing, characters… it was all very long-winded (totally my fault), but I think we covered all of the good stuff. Anywho, we’ll have a post later on that gets into the nuts and bolts of our opinions on self-pubbed stuff now that this section of the contest is over.Read the rest of this post »
Self-Published Blog-Off Update
All right. People have been wondering where we are in the process so far. While we haven’t picked our Finalist yet, we are very close. This will be a quick summary of who we have eliminated so far. We aren’t going to get into specifics on each book, because it seems bad form to to lay it out publicly why we didn’t care for your book. I think we’ve been pretty clear about the main issues we’ve had in our posts on PoV, Beginnings, Internet Presence, and First Impressions.
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Blog-off Entry Commentary: Point of View
Point of view (PoV) is how a story is narrated, usually through the eyes of a main character. If writers are doing PoV right, it shouldn’t even be noticeable, it fades into the background. But when it’s done wrong, it’s a slap in the face. First-time authors don’t give PoV the attention it deserves. They treat it like the short kid when picking basketball teams during P.E. because there are better athletes of storytelling: setting, character, and plot. But we need the short kid to have a full team, and ignoring PoV is like not having a full team. Viewpoint is important because it affects how the story is told and the connections readers feel with the characters.
Let’s define a few terms:
- First-person–Uses “I” to tell the story. Not used as often as third-person because it isn’t as flexible, but when done right is fun to read (prevalent in thrillers, YA, Urban Fantasy, and the ramblings of narcissists).
- Second-person–Uses “you” to tell the story (Choose Your Own Adventure, RPG adventure primers, technical manuals, and lectures from your parents).
- Third-person–Refers to “he” and “she” to tell the story. Most commonly used viewpoint in SF&F (as well as Vulcan mind melds). Styles include “limited” (one head per scene) and “omniscient” (sees and knows everything within a story).
- Alternating viewpoint–When you just have to be in everybody’s business. Switches viewpoints between characters within a story — i.e., first-person for one character, third-person limited for others… seen most recently in RESIDUE (EBR Review)! First-person PoV alternating viewpoints appear in books narrated via letters, such as DRACULA (EBR Review).
Blog-off Entry Commentary: Internet Presence
Like all of the other reviewers here at EBR, I have a day job. It’s not one that I tout all that much as it’s a fall-back job that I kind of transitioned into after not being able to find a job in my field (rocket science). I’m a web programmer. So, I kind of feel obligated to say a thing or two about this relatively important part of the self-published author’s job.
My thoughts on the topic can be boiled down to something that is pretty simple (TL;DR):
Have an internet presence.
Ask yourself a question: what’s the first thing you do when you find a new author that you like? I don’t know about you, but I don’t pass go, I don’t collect $200, I go directly to Mr. Google. In that search, I look for a website, a blog, a Facebook page – something that will give me three distinct things:
- A listing of more stories by the author and possibly access to them
- Some kind of idea that they’re an active author
- A timeline looking forward to their writing activities/goals/publications
There are also a couple of things that turn me off rather quickly when I find them:
- No internet presence at all for the author
- An author-oriented site that is several months, or even several years, old
As a fledgling, self-published author what is the one thing that you want to do for someone that has very recently read one of your stories and absolutely LOVED it? You want to keep them coming back. Why is that? Because they are willing to exchange their hard-earned dollars for some more of your particular brand of story magic. And even though you love crafting stories, and having others join in the goodness of those things you create, let’s face it: a guy’s gotta eat, yeah?
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Blog-off Entry Commentary: On Beginnings
Beginnings. Always been a heavy topic of discussion here at EBR. A good beginning can make a book awesome. A bad beginning can absolutely ruin a novel. Think about it. How many novels have you put down because the opening was horrendous? We’re talking about books you pick off the shelves at your local bookstore. At EBR, we’ll admit to triple digits. You?
With the The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off, the importance of beginnings has become a major focus for us. Many of the authors who submitted their novels have questions. Why isn’t my book selling? Why am I getting poor reviews? What can I do to improve it? Etc, etc. A huge part of the issues these self-pubbed authors are facing stems directly from the writing, but even mediocre writing can be dealt with if the story is good and the hook is set. There are so many published examples of this that it’s ridiculous.
Let’s talk about general stuff to avoid though:
- Slow pacing
- Starting too early in the story
- Description heavy
- History of the cosmos
- Describing your map
- Mysterious babies
- Forwards used to tell the readers that if you don’t like the book, it’s YOUR fault
Okay, maybe some of those were not so general. Still, that is by no means a comprehensive list. Nor does it mean you can’t do any of those things. The better writer you are, the more you can get away with. Current fantasy novelists prove this all the time. But let’s get into the details of some of the things we saw, and why they didn’t work.
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Blog-off Entry Commentary: First Impressions
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a tired, old saying that should be put to rest in regards to actual books. It’s a fine sentiment when applied to people but taken literally it’s damaging to the practice of publishing. Call me superficial but I believe it’s only natural to judge a book by its cover. I also believe you should factor in title and plot synopsis (if you get that far). Browsing the aisles of a book store or scrolling through Amazon there are countless titles vying for attention. Great covers get lost in the midst of this sensory overload, it’s true, but bad covers are even more likely to be skimmed over. If your book reaches out to someone through all the clutter it better catch their eye for all the right reasons.
Self-published books carry a stigma for many reasons; but before a critic can even dismiss them for horrible grammar, typos, thin plots, thinner characters, wonky POV, or any number of errors the critic first has to first be enticed to even pick up and open the book. It’s all about first impressions and this is one area where self-published authors have a notoriously hard time. I get requests in my inbox to read and review self-published books frequently.Read the rest of this post »