I had a great day today. A class of my BMCSC students graduated (that’s always fun to see)! Then I came home to get ready for Animorecon, and while I’m setting up, I see The Journals of Bob Drifter got a 5-star review on Goodreads! Now that’s just about an amazing day! You can read that very kind review here.
That review comes with great timing since both e-versions of Bob and Caught are only 99 cents during the convention. So if you haven’t had a chance to pick up either of my books, this is a great opportunity!
I’ll be at the convention pretty much all weekend, so I might be a bit it or miss with the blog and social media. I’ll try to post pics of what I’m up to and all the great cosplay I see. I’m excited to start my tour, and I hope it goes well for me. I’d be very happy to see any of you there. If you can’t make it, this sale I’m having is just my way to try and make sure everyone can save on my work.
Spolier Free Summary: Singularby Zack Hubertis a YA novel about a teenage boy who has to stop an artificial intelligence from downloading the minds of humanity into a computer. What’s the catch? Milo Bell is nowhere near a normal teenager. With the help of his AI friend and loyal AI dog, he faces an army of avatars and a computer program determined to end humanity as we know it to save humanity. This was my April Book Cover of the Month winner. If you want to see an interview from the artist, just click here.
Character: I have to be honest. YA usually relies on its main character, and Milo didn’t connect with me. The premise for the story was awesome, and the plot points were interesting, but I think Hubert missed an opportunity with Milo’s circumstances. I expect a degree of convenience in YA books; it’s simply unavoidable, but while Milo faces conflict, I don’t know how much he grows as a result of those struggles. He changes, but that’s not the same as growth. I might be being unfair here as the story I thought this could have been wasn’t the story it turned out to be, but, as a reader, I feel I have that right. Now, if readers can learn Milo’s secret, and not have an issue with some of his actions, then they’ll wonder what my ever-loving problem was. I think that’s the test for readers. When they learn Milo’s secret, can they accept how he reacts to it? I couldn’t.
Another note on character. This book oddly switched points of view. It wouldn’t have been hard to understand if it was consistent, but somewhere around the halfway point, we get these new characters. The reasoning made sense. Readers needed to know how the rest of humanity was responding. I just wanted those characters to have a role through the whole book.
Exposition: This was solid. It was there, but not overly frustrating. Hubert did a nice job letting the reader watch the story unfold rather than explain what was happening and why.
World building: This was probably the strength for Hubert. It was an interesting near-futuristic world with an obvious amount of research into AI and how it would function. People who enjoy speculative fiction like this might enjoy this book for this reason.
Dialogue: This didn’t really do much for me. It felt more like a back door to exposition rather than interaction of characters. Books do this. They do this a lot, so it’s not a crime in itself. I just think it happened too much in this particular book. We even get exposition in the form of digital messages from a character. I think it was too much, but if anyone throws Obi Wan at me, I couldn’t really argue with them. (Am I the only one who realizes his only function in any of the original movies is to explain stuff?)
Description: This was solid. Again, Hubert had a crystal clear view of this world, its technology, and how the events would affect those locations. He gave me what I needed to see and let my imagination do the rest.
Overall: This was a fascinating plot idea. It feels like classic speculative scifi. The characters aren’t the most believable, and some things feel too convenient, but it’s an entertaining read for younger readers.
Just a few moments ago, I finished the developmental draft of Repressed, my Novella featuring Kaitlyn from Caught. If you’re curious, a developmental draft is when Sara (my editor) makes her comments and I apply them during revision. This is more about plot wholes and character, structure, and arc. I’m proud to say Sara was pretty happy with this one. She did give me some insight about procedural things and the workings of a teenage girl’s mind. This draft felt like it went quickly for me, but I’m still proud of how the story turned out.
Now I need opinions of those who read the genre, so I’m calling out for Beta Readers. What I look for from Beta Readers are responses to surveys I send them. This is really me measuring the progression of character, description, dialogue, exposition, and world building. If that looks familiar, it’s because it’s how I review books. They can feel free to add whatever they want, but I’m most invested in what they think of those aspects of the book. I also need Betas to tell me how they like the story. So, if you’re a fan of YA paranormal dramas, I’d appreciate it if you took the time to read the story and tell me what you think. Here’s a summary:
My name is Kaitlyn, and I have superpowers. No really, I’m an empath. About three years ago, I met some people, and well all have powers now. The five of us who survived the day we met, not all of us made it, live together. The thing is, they think that because I’m a teenager, I’m not ready to help them save the world.
* * *
When Kaitlyn decides to protect a new girl from bullies, she gets a taste for using her abilities and secret training like the heroes of the comics that she loves to read. But as she starts to do more, she learns her powers don’t work exactly the way she thought they did. Things get even worse when she learns that hero work isn’t as easy as the comics make it seem. When hatred and ignorance come to a boil, Kaitlyn has to decide what it really means to be a hero, and her decision puts the lives of three other classmates at risk.
I’d appreciate it if Betas could commit to getting their comments back to me by Feb. 12. Email me if you’re interested. This will be the last draft where I look for issues and development. Essentially, it’s this next draft (what I call the Beta Draft) and the Proofreading Draft. Then, It’ll go onto the release calendar for early (I’m hoping for January) 2019.
What’s next for me? Well, I owe T.W. Iain one more pass on his story for The Power of Words anthology, and I also have to apply the feedback Alpha Readers gave me for that. So I hope to do both before Beta Readers get feedback on Repressed back to me.
There’s a lot of news fixing to come down the pipe. I’m going to be busy! First up, I have Animorecon! I’ll be there selling and signing books, and it’d be great to see you all there. However, I meant what I said about lots of news coming. Stay tuned, and, as always…
It was a great year filled with a lot of great covers, great authors, and some amazing books. Thanks to this idea, I got to read my favorite book of the year. I got to make some amazing connections, but this is really all about the covers.
We had 5,317 votes for this bracket. That’s actually fantastic given we had one less round. In the monthly brackets, we start with 32, and that ads 16 more votes per voter. These numbers mean we had at least 1,329 unique voters, and that’s awesome if you ask me. The winner of this contest can say more than 1,000 people looked at all 16 covers, and thought his or hers was best. (I have to TRY and keep some drama don’t I?)
There were three different leaders at different points of the contest. It was a close fight between the last two (came within ten voters, which would be one percent for those math people out there). However, I’m proud to say we have an undisputed champion.
Let’s look at the stats! Phil brook beat his other competitors by more than 40 votes in each round. Night Stalker by R.L. Weeks gave him a bit of a run for his money in the Elite Eight early on, but then he pulled away. The Door Keeper by Steen Jones also gave him a good fight up till about three days ago. It looked like The Girl Who Could See would be the only one to best him in the finals, but then he snatched the lead and didn’t let it go! He only won that championship round by ten votes, but those ten voters came in a very timely manner.
He received 542 total votes. He came into the tournament ranked fifth. He started out chasing Loveless by Marissa Howard, but then managed to climb his way to the top.
That means the Weech goes to Philbrook’s cover designer, which means he not only owes us a jig (I’m not kidding this time Chris, your fans deserve it!), but I also need him to tell me who that designer is so I can engrave The Weech and send it over to him.
I hope you all had fun this year. I really am pleased with how things turned out, but I’m hopeful this continues to grow. I hope the authors and artists who were involved spread the word so other authors and artists can get exposure. That’s the whole point of this tournament.
That said. There’s another post on my blog that just came up. The December Book Cover of the Month is up and running as we speak. I won’t be pestering people nearly as much. You all came out by the hundreds (literally), and I think it’s only fair to step it back a bit for the December and January Book Cover of the Month brackets. But it was fun this year, and I’ll do it again next year. We’ll see how things go after that. If it catches on, I’ll keep it going.
I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.
I’m typing this in advance because it’s the holidays, and I want to stay on top of things as we have a bunch going on. I want to thank you all (assuming the Book Cover of the Year went even half as well as I think it will) for your participation in that bracket, and I hop you have a bit more left. I promise, once we get through the January bracket, things will slow down to their normal pace.
December’s bracket has 32 new books. I started fresh and picked all 32 covers, but this month’s runner up will get the final slot in the January bracket.
You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.
As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.
If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.
Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.
A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.
I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.
It’s a new year, and before I kick of my 2018 tour, I wanted to share my top three reads of 2017 with you all. Goodreads says I’ve read 39 books in 2017. I didn’t quite hit my goal of triple last year (that would have been 42), but I’m still pretty happy with the rate at which I’m reading. This list was made without regard to publisher, format, or author.
How I did it: This time, I knew I’d be doing this list, so I kept track of books I liked and mentally compared one to the other. Without further delay, here’s my list.
#3 Flash Point by C.L. Schneider: You can find my review for that book here. I had this book ranked as high as second place for a while. I’m a fan of mystery in fantasy. I’m a huge fan of the Dresden Files, and (as I said in the review), this book did a lot to fill the gap left by no Dresden. This was the first book in a series, so I’m looking forward to more, though I may wait for the series to end, as I like binge reading a series. My heart can only handle so much waiting.
#2 Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson: Before you call me out. Yes, it just so happens that numbers two and three from this year are the same as numbers two and three from last year in terms of the authors. It’s not intentional. I just like who I like. I’m honestly surprised this book didn’t take the top spot, but I have some explanations for that I’m saving for a future blog post. Oathbringer was a fantastic edition to the Stormlight Archive. My review for it is here. This book is packed with fan rewards and easter eggs that have me more excited than ever about the Cosmere.
#1 Betrayer’s Bane by Michael G. Manning: You can find my review for this book here. This book was my first ever Book Cover of the Month winner. It’s currently in the Book Cover of the Year Bracket. I read the book and was simply awestruck. It’s so powerful and tragic. That book caused me to leap at every book Manning wrote. I simply can’t post all the reviews for it. Here’s the review for The Final Redemption, which will have most of the other books linked to it. The rest in the series are good, and I’m enjoying the follow-on books, but this book grabbed me by every emotion I have and didn’t let go.
So that’s my top three. What are yours? Why? Do you have a review you can link it to? I’d love to reblog it for you.
Spoiler Free Summary: Oathbringer is the third book in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. My review for Book One is here. My review for Book Two is here. Dalinar Kholin has reached Urithiru. The Voidbringers have returned. However, Roshar isn’t united. While Odium’s forces gather, Dalinar must strive to find a way to get the nations to work together. But as he works toward his goal, his past begins to haunt him all over again. Kaladin returns home to face his past and learns the Voidbringers aren’t what he thought they were, in fact, they’re not what anyone thought they were. Shallan’s secrets mount against her, but the only way for her to progress is to continue to face them. Each role she takes fractures her mind again, and she must take control before she faces the challenges before her.
NOTE: If you follow my Goodreads account, you’ll notice I have this marked as “currently reading.” That’s my second read through (I won’t review it again so soon). I tend to reread books like this right away to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
Character: If this book was JUST about Dalinar’s arc, it would be the best book I’ve read in 2017. His story is simply amazing! It’s such a great blend of tragedy and heroics that I can’t really name a rival for it in all my memory. Shallan is improved. Her arc with a certain reoccurring character is as inspiring as it is charming. I must admit a certain grudge with Kaladin’s arc. I think I’ll talk about this more in a different post (no spoilers there either). Something happens with him, and I believe it had to happen for a few reasons. But this plot point felt rushed and then explained. It was very UN-Sanderson. This explanation was done via flashback, and it felt to me like Sanderson saying, “You see, he would struggle with something like this.” I think it’s a fairly significant knock, but even with this issue, I feel like Oathbringer is an amazing book. Keep an eye out for more on this subject, but I don’t want to dwell on the issue because it didn’t hurt the book beyond reason.
Exposition: As I mentioned above, we get a little of this, and that’s not common for Sanderson. However, there’s only that one slowdown as Sanderson patches up things in order to move the plot going. Other than that, this is his usual stuff. The book is HUGE, but it didn’t take very long at all to read it (I’m thinking 12-24 hours). The pages fly past, especially when you get closer to the end. When that happens, make sure you’re well rested and don’t have to use the restroom; you won’t want to put the book down for anything.
World building: Like every one of his books (especially those in a series), Sanderson takes you somewhere new, and then ties that location to the plot. This is no different. A large portion of the book happens in a place I think a great many readers have wanted to visit.
Dialogue: This is still what he’s great at, so I wasn’t surprised that it was done well in this case.
Description: A few of the more critical plot points rely on the description here. It gives the book a lot of life while also letting Sanderson show off his world. I’d recommend you keep your eyes wide open for all of this book, you don’t know what you might miss.
Overall: I want to celebrate a bit. My brother and I had a theory heading into this book. It’s one of those, “Wouldn’t it be cool if!” theories. We also had a list of who we think might turn out bad. We were thrilled that the cool thing happened, and the “bad” thing we expected, well, as usual with Sanderson, it wasn’t how we thought it’d go. Sanderson is the master of rewarding readers. He has so many fan pleasers in this book. I couldn’t even keep track. I’d recommend this book JUST for the last part! The book as a whole is just like one giant bonus.