Book Review: The Silent Tempest by Michael G. Manning

Book Review: The Silent Tempest by Michael G. Manning
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Cover and portraits of Michael G. Manning were taken from Amazon or his website for review purposes under Fair Use Doctrine.

Character:  I stand behind my previous assessment regarding Manning’s ability here. The characters in this story are all deep, and their motivations are heartbreakingly sympathetic. I found his relationships here so powerful. This book is truly about a father who would do any horrible thing if it meant extending the lives of his children. I worded that very carefully, and I stand by that clause. This book did a fantastic job of helping the reader spiral downward with Tyrion rather than contemptibly watch him plummet.

5215279Worldbuilding:  One downside to reading this trilogy out of order was a plot twist regarding one of the races in the book. I think those who choose to read it in order (though I’d still stand behind how I read it) will get a bigger thrill out of some of the revelations in this book. The plot weaving in this series is wonderful, and the world just feels like a place one could visit (if he truly hated himself).

Dialogue:  The dialogue in this book is solid.  One of the characters we’ve only seen glimpses of in the first book gets a larger role, and her character brings a certain wit and light to the story that brightens the tale. To have such a huge cast and still give them each a unique voice is no small feat.

Description: I honestly felt like I was there in almost every scene in the book. Weather I was trapped or fighting for my life, Manning has a cinematic voice that makes the reader feel like they’re quietly observing this tragic, dark tale.

Overall: This whole series is one of the best I’ve read in 2017. This particular book was a brilliant second act with equal parts tragedy and triumph. It’s dark, but touching. It’s exciting, but tragic. Those who love dark fantasy should check out all of Manning’s work.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Cover Art: The Approaching 2nd Edition and Segments of Bob Drifter

Cover Art: The Approaching 2nd Edition and Segments of Bob Drifter

I’ve been so excited to show you all these images. But first! A bit of back story!

A long time ago, in a desert far, far away…

A pair of friends met at a young age. One was named Matthew, the other Collin. Their friendship flourished over comic books (X-Force in particular). As they grew closer, they shared their dreams. One wanted to be a writer; the other wanted to be an artist.

Time passed, and they were separated, but they never forgot each other. Collin grew up to be an amazing artist for video games, and he even published a few comic books. When Matthew realized he was going to publish, he knew who he wanted to do his cover art.

A brief message over Social Media, and the friends were thick as thieves creating the work they’d dreamed of creating since they were kids. They’d stayed in touch, so when Matthew decided he wanted to re-release his first novel, he returned the the artist he’d first talked about working with so long ago…

Ok, seriously, that’s just about how it went. That said, I reached out to Collin because I believe in consistency. I knew I was going to re-release Bob in a few ways. The first would be the second edition of the complete novel. I also knew I was going to release each part (Bob is composed of three very distinct parts) to allow people to read smaller chunks with less immediate financial obligation. Collin was so gracious. You see, he’s getting ready to get married, and he somehow squirreled enough time between wedding plans and home renovation projects to create these new covers for the electronic segments of Bob’s little journey.

I’m proud to present them to you. (NOTE: These images are intellectual property of M.L.S. Weech. Any reuse or distribution of these images without his consent is in violation of his rights.)

AnUnusualOccupation
Cover for An Unusual Occupation. Art by Collin Fogel.

The first part (for those who haven’t already read the book) is titled An Unusual Occupation. This is a bit of an homage to a popular book that inspired this one. I’m honored to say some have compared the two books quite favorably. This moment, like the image for the complete edition’s cover, is subtle but important. It’s a moment of choice for Bob. Collin did a great job of showing that conflict.

 

BobsGreatestMistake
The cover art for Bob’s Greatest Mistake. Cover art by Collin Fogel.

 

Isn’t this one awesome?! Collin busted his tail on here trying to recreate this scene, which is the climactic end to the second part of the book. I especially love the blacksoul leaping from Grimm’s cloak.

SomethingAlwaysRemains
The Cover for Something Always Remains. Cover art by Collin Fogel.

I really struggled between a few scenes here. But I felt that the final conflict between Bob and Grimm was just too good to pass up. This final showdown had a ton of buildup, so I felt it was right that this encounter be how the last chapter is presented. The detail here is awesome, and the sense of motion is perfect.

I can’t honestly express how happy I am with these covers. The manuscript is with Sara, my wonderful and overworked editor. I’m hoping to have it back from her by late August. Then it’s up to me to format and get it turned in ASAP. I’d like to get this done by November. That feels like an ambitious but achievable goal.  I’ll keep you all updated on that progress.

Please offer your opinions of these below. I’d like to know what those who’ve read the book think. I’m absolutely in love with these covers, and I hope you all love them too.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month

Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month

Hello everyone,

The June Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. It was honestly a fairly disappointing month in terms of votes. We only had 2,652 votes, which is the lowest total we’ve had since the very beginning (when we only had a few days to vote). I have some concerns, and I’d be immensely grateful if any viewers could provide me some honest feedback. Was one week not enough time? Should I simply extend the number of days the bracket runs? Should I keep the “vote once” tournament we’ve used the last few months, or should I go back to the “round-by-round” format we had a while back? I want this to be as fun and easy as possible, but I need your help to make that happen.

Now, 2,600 votes is still a lot. Those voters who came by did so for three books in particular, but only one cover could win.

The June Book Cover of the Month is…

 

For Steam and Country by Jon del Arroz! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Steam and Country took the lead late on the last day and pulled away. This was one of those contests where the match was decided in the #FinalFour. It was either going to be The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson or Steam and Country. Argon by E.L. Patrick made it to the finals, but it couldn’t muster any actual bracket wins in comparison to the other two books. (More on that in a moment.)  The finals came down to Steam and Argon, but Steam won a total of 28 brackets.

Steam received 205 total votes, which was seven more total votes than The Girl and 99 more than Argon.

June_Cover_CollageLRI usually have the runner up get a spot in the next month’s bracket. I just can’t, in good conscience, place Argon in July’s bracket when The Girl had more votes and more bracket wins.  If this were a 30-day month, I wouldn’t have a problem because I’d have two open spots, but July has 31 days, and I have to try my best to allow the book that the voters most liked get a slot. As this wasn’t a “round-by-round” tournament, I can’t honestly tell which voters would prefer in a head to head. I can only go by the number of votes and brackets each cover won. I’m very dedicated to making this a fun, fair competition, so I have to make these calls with as much integrity and data as I can. So I offer my congratulations to The Girl Who Could See, as that book will have another chance to move on in the July bracket.

That said. Arroz is the winner this month, so let’s look at his book.

Amazon blurb.

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

Her father’s been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira’s day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.

For Steam and Country is the first book in the Adventures of Baron Von Monocle series by top-10 Amazon best selling space opera author, Jon Del Arroz.

“Witty, charming and downright thrilling!  Del Arroz nails the feel of good old fashioned Steampunkery with wit, aplomb and of course… panache.” – Nick Cole, author of the Dragon Award winner, CTRL ALT Revolt

“FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY is a rousing girl-powered fantasy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed airship adventure!” – Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch

(END BLURB)

As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, Howard’s cover, Deyo’s coverJones’s CoverHubert’s Cover, and MacNiven’s cover, and they are also on my TBR. (I just finished reading Deyo’s cover.)

18221611_10207749242842260_3867576595174516287_nHere’s Arroz’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.

The artist for that beautiful cover is Shawn King, whom I contacted to see if he’d like to do an interview about his victory.

The July bracket is still under development. Conventions and honestly a string of not-very-good covers made it harder to fill this bracket than normal. But it’ll still be ready to go by Aug. 1.

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 Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: The Mountains Rise by Michael G. Manning

Book Review: The Mountains Rise by Michael G. Manning

Character:  Manning has proven to be a master character developer. Seeing Daniel’s journey begin was a rewarding experience for me. I expected to learn more about Daniel, but the trilogy truly was about all of the characters we meet in this saga. Not all of these characters are good, but they’re all well thought out. Their motivations and limitations are clear. Tyrion was always a heartbreaking character, reading this book brought exactly the sort of clarity I hoped for.

5215279Worldbuilding:  I already knew the world building to this series was great. What I appreciate (and what has me reading the Mageborn series) is for all the dots to connect. This book eases the reader into the magic and species of the realm with patience. What I look for in world building is what I need to know as I need to know it.  This book does that wonderfully (as does the series). I think the character and the overall world building (perhaps the plotting) are what make this series so easy to read through.

Dialogue:  I’m neutral about the dialogue in this book with one exception. While I don’t think the dialogue here was “snappy” or “quick,” it was powerful. There is an element here that requires note. There is a content warning with this book (and the series). Something happens in the beginning that might test some readers or even have some readers turn away. It’s honestly an issue I’m very sensitive about. That said, Manning treated that situation with respect, showing the impact this despicable act can have on not just the ones involved, but by all the ones those people care about. The dialogue and reactions of the character in this issue were done with sympathy. I despise books that use real-world terrible issues just to get a shock out of the audience. Manning didn’t do this. It was an integral part to Daniel’s development and being. You’ll have to read the book to find out more on what “act” I’m speaking of.

Description: Manning’s strength in description is in the sense of touch. A lot of times through this book I could almost feel (sometimes unfortunately so) what was happening to the characters. He’s decent in the other areas of description, but fans of books that make you feel like the characters will like this aspect of the book.

Overall: Manning delivers a world that is both dark and amazing. His story is built on such sadness, tragedy, and betrayal, one can’t help but want to see what happens. It’s heartbreaking to see how things go and to think of how they could have gone if only…

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The June Book Cover of the Month Begins!

The June Book Cover of the Month Begins!

June’s bracket has 30 new covers and the top two runners up from last month, The Lost Travencal by C.M. Jobe and The Other One by Amanda Jay are also back for their deserved second attempt at winning.

Last month, we went with a single tournament in which voters could vote through all the rounds at one time. Since it broke the record for most overall votes, I’m giving it another shot. I still feel it was taking a lot of energy though, so this month’s bracket will only be one week long. To make it work, I need your help. 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.

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Image taken from Pixabay.

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.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

It Was Indeed an Awesome Con!

It Was Indeed an Awesome Con!
Me Panel AwesomeCon 2017
This is me speaking at my panel on the pitfalls of self publishing. Photo by Peggy Trujillo.

I’ve had a few days to rest (at least a little), and I think I’ll be back to work in another day or two. It won’t be long at all before my next event, which is Shore Leave. I’ve just learned bout some more opportunities coming my way, so stay tuned for that. With that said, I wanted to give you all a bit more insight as to how AwesomeCon went.

First off, some special thanks.  The first must be my helpers. They get the chance to attend the event and have some fun, but they have to help me sell books and give me periodic breaks. Events like this take a ton out of me as it is, and I wouldn’t be able to do them without help, so I’d like to offer special thanks to Peggy Trujillo and Keith Simmons.   They made it so I could step away when I wanted. They made it so I could attend my panel (more on that later), and they made it possible for me to check a few items off the bucket list (yes, more on that later, too).  A note about Keith, turns out, his cosplay costume was well liked by the AwesomeCon folks. He made their list of favorite costumes.

Next I’d like to thank Andrew Hiller.  He actually joined me at my table this year. Teaming up with him gave me another person to talk to. I’ve read A Halo of Mushrooms, and A Climbing Stock is on my TBR. It was a pleasure working with him, and I want to make sure I say thanks for sending some traffic my way and keeping me company.

EACopen_AwesomeCon 2017
E.A. Copen speaks about self publishing during the first day of AwesomeCon 2017. Photo by Peggy Trujillo. 

Last, but in no way the least, is the new group of friends I made during my panel. I didn’t have anyone to be on my panel with me, and I truly wanted those in attendance to get the most out of the experience. So I approached a group near my table and asked if they’d care to join me.  They call themselves the Awethors, which is a clever name if I do say so myself.  They were a super group of people to meet.  Jeffery Cook, D.R. Perry, and E.A. Copen were fantastic additions to the panel, and they made it a huge success.  I had several people come up to me and tell me they loved it. I owe that success to them.  Thank you all for joining me.

For those interested in the marketing side of things, this is the spot you should be interested in. Jeffery wrote a book called, “Working the Table, An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.” I can’t wait to dig into that. I brought around 300 business cards, 75 bookmarks and a ton of QR-Code cards I’d made a while back. I should have brought more of the bookmarks and business cards. I ran out of those on the first day, and I think they were effective. All told, I sold about 10 more books than I’ve ever sold. Caught finally gained some traction, and I’m hoping readers start posting reviews soon. I’m also nearly sold out of soft-cover editions of The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’m proud of the fact that I sold enough product to make up the table, gas, new books (sorry, TBR pile), and parking. By any standard, that’s a success. I’ll admit I didn’t reach my super goal, but I’d still call that weekend a success.

Me AwesomeCon 2017I think my favorite part of the event was having people approach me and tell me how much they liked my work. I posted about that earlier, but I can’t say enough what it means to me for people to show their appreciation.  A lot of those conversations gave me some much needed motivation to stay true to my dream and keep at it. It’s amazing to think anyone would take time out of their day to stop by and just say they liked my books. Thank you!

A note on the value of reviews: I had a large number of people who spoke to me about my book. They took a night to think on it and then came back. A lot of them said my reviews on Goodreads  made a convincing argument to try my books. I’d like to thank those who reviewed my books. I’d be ever so grateful to anyone else who’s read my work to do the same. They really do matter. If you hated them or loved them, there is no such thing as a bad review in my eyes.

Me and my signed comic
This puppy is going on the wall in my office (if I ever unpack). 

The convention wasn’t 100 percent business. Last year, I made it a point to meet Summer Glau.  This year I had a chance to meet someone who was fundamental to my dream to become a writer. If I’m being honest, Stan Lee was far too busy to do much more than sign a comic, but this Uncanny X-Men #101 is right up there with my signed copy of The White Dragon. I honestly only need one more autograph to have my own personal Rushmore of authors (ok, look, Tolstoy would be on that list, but I don’t think that’s in the cards). I didn’t pay for the photo or any of the events, but having that signature on my favorite comic ever is really special, and I’m glad I got the chance to do that.

 

It feels weird. This post is under 1,000 words, but I feel like I only scratched the surface. I wish I could talk about every conversation and every cool thing I saw, but there’s just too many. All I can do is say it really was a great time, and I can’t wait for next year!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The Con of Awesome! What I’m up to this weekend!

The Con of Awesome! What I’m up to this weekend!

13260113_808371919307583_171282834181363032_nHappy AwesomeCon everyone! So this convention has a special place in my heart. They were the first large con to contact me and invite me to their event. I’ve had a panel there every year (like last year) since I became published, and I have one this year as well.  I always look forward to this convention, and I’m excited about what I have going on this year.

First, I’ll have a partner in crime.  Fellow author Andrew Hiller will be with me at the booth, he’s joined forces with me. I read A Halo of Mushrooms, and posted my review here.  It’ll be nice to have someone to sit with and talk about writing with all day.  Andrew and I will be at table P19.

caught-front-coverNext, I’d like to announce a few sales. To celebrate this event, Caught will be on sale for 99 cents from now until the 19th. If you were waiting on a deal, this is your chance. Outside of the electronic universe, the hard cover for The Journals of Bob Drifter will be reduced to $30. The soft cover will be down to $20.  Caught will be it’s regular price of $9.99, but if you haven’t had a chance to grab any autographs from me, I’m bundling the books.  You can buy Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter together for a total of $25 (with a soft cover of Bob, $35 for the hard cover and Caught). I wanted to re-release Bob before this, but it’s my own fault for giving my editor two books to edit at the same time (I’m selfish really). So reducing the price to Bob is the least I can do for those readers who want to try out my work.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be hosting a panel (actually it’ll be more of a Q & A).  It’s about the Pitfalls of Unwary Self Publishers. That’s scheduled for 5:30 June 16 in room 154.  I hope to see you all there!

AwesomeCon runs from June 16-18.  Doors open at noon Friday and close for another year at 5 p.m. Sunday.

I think that’s about it. I’m looking forward to a great weekend, and I hope to see you all there!

Thanks of reading,

Matt