Archive | February 2013

Kainan – The Deragan Sword Prophecy by Rosemary Lynch (Book Review)

On the morning of his twenty-first birthday, Kainan is enjoying the quiet serenity of the forest around the village. His reverie is broken as he is greeted to the sight of his village burning and its inhabitants savagely butchered. He is captured by Gorzars, savage creatures who hold his mother hostage. Kainan is commanded to retrieve the Ardor Crystal from a place he never heard of. But retrieving the Ardor Crystal isn’t the end of Kainan’s tribulations.

Kainan by Rosemary Lynch

One of the things that I love most about this book is the opening. I love how the author starts the story in media res. She does a great job of drawing the reader into the story.

In true old fashioned fantasy form, the good guys are good and the bad guys are evil. The reader has no problems cheering on the good guys and wishing the defeat of the bad guys.

Though the dialogue seems a little forced or cutesy at times, Lynch has created great interplay between her characters. The story that the author has created is, at its core, original and unique.

Unfortunately Lynch tries to accomplish too much. Rather than focusing on a handful of fantasy staples and working on making them unique and memorable, the author numbs the reader with almost everyone one of them in existence. I almost feel as if this book could have been broken into two parts.

This story is littered with formatting and grammatical errors which take away from its readability. All in all I really did enjoy reading this book and would love to give it a better rating but the above issues make this a 3 star read. With a story edit and a copy edit, this could be a 5 star book.

The Bookworm gives it 3 out of 5 stars.

Did you like this review?  Check out our previous reviews of The Northern Star and Dragon Fate. Follow us on twitter @ErinEymard and Google+.

Games Workshop Super Bully

MCA Hogarth’s Spots the Space Marine

So I’m a little late on getting on this story but it is still a story that needs to be told (at least in my opinion).   On December 13, 2012 author M.C.A Hogarth received an email from Amazon explaining to her that Games Workshop accused her of infringement due to her use of the phrase ‘space marine’ in the title of her book.  Amazon explained that due to the GW complaint, they stopped selling Spot the Space Marine.

Being a GW customer in the past, I did a double take.  Were they seriously trying this?  And if they were seriously being jerks about this, why not go after the StarCraft franchise for use of ‘space marine’?  When I was complaining about the situation to my husband, his words were “When I hear space marine, I think of Starship Troopers.”  So obviously Hogarth isn’t the first person to use the term ‘space marine’.

In fact according to Wikipedia, the earliest us of the term ‘space marine’ was by Bob Olsen in his short story “Captain Brink of the Space Marines”.  The Wikipedia article on ‘space marine’ even highlights the recent trademark controversy.

I guess my main concern is that Games Workshop went after the little guy here.  They didn’t go after the heavy hitters.  Instead they decided to imitate the NFL and throw their weight and lawyers around at someone who could never afford to compete legally against these bullying tactics.

I encourage everyone to visit MCA Hogarth’s website/blog to show your support for the independent author.

Also don’t forget to check out our contest, follow us on twitter, and GooglePlus!

Author Interview – Mike Gullickson

Greetings, fellow bibliophiles!  Today I have the pleasure of introducing you all to Mike Gullickson, author of The Northern Star:  The Beginning.  You can read the Bookworm’s review of The Northern Star: The Beginning by clicking here.

Bookworm:  “Thank you for agreeing to do this interview!  First, Tell us about what inspired the story?Mike Gullickson_Headshot (1)

Mike Gullickson:  A lot of my novels start with images that pop in my head. I wish I could draw. My mom insists I can, but she’s referencing dinosaurs from 4th grade and that’s when I peaked.

For The Northern Star, I distinctly remember when it came into existence. It occurred about ten years ago while I was listening to Radiohead’s “I Might Be Wrong.” There’s a line in the song:

There is no future left at all/That I know

(I checked. It’s actually “There is no future left at all/That I think,” but it’s too late to go back, I heard “that I know” for the last decade.)

And that line haunted me with imagery that became The Northern Star. The story changed significantly since those first images, but that’s how it began. An inconsequential fact: I first wrote The Northern Star as a screenplay. It was horrible.

Other external inspirations that shaped me are Stephen King (like many authors, On Writing is my bible), Guillermo Del Toro, and Terminator 2, because as a kid, I wanted to be one.

Bookworm:  “So you are a RadioHead fan?  What are some of your favorite songs?  Any other music inspire your writing?

Mike Gullickson: It’s funny. Just by volume of listening, I’d be considered a huge radio fan (I’m 100% certain I’ve listened to “I Might Be Wrong,” more than anyone else in the world. I wrote the first two novels of The Northern Star with it looped), but it’s become almost a workman-like relationship. For whatever reason, Amnesiac and Kid A (two Radiohead albums) transport me to the place I need to go in order to write this stuff. It’s almost Pavlovian.

If you want to know what songs are “The Northern Star,” they are:

You and Whose Army? (Radiohead, Amnesiac)

The entire song reminds me of the latter half of the series when most of the characters, especially the bionics, are nearly unrecognizable from where they came. You forget so easy, is a line in it that still gives me chills.

I Might Be Wrong (Radiohead, Amnesiac)

Previously discussed. The catalyst that started the whole series. I don’t think the novels would exist without this song, which is kind of weird.

The National Anthem (Radiohead, Kid A)

This is the song I play before I start writing anything to do with the series. Jeez, I’m starting to sound weird, but if you meet me, I’m super normal. No matter what city I’m in, people always ask me for directions. That’s how normal I am.

How to Disappear Completely (Radiohead, Kid A)

A song of intense loss and tragedy, which this series has in spades (Lyric: In a little while . . . I’ll be gone). So many of the characters lose themselves in this story, and some of them know that to make right, their sacrifice will be even greater. One of the characters is a sociopath, and I think, as the story progresses, he may be the most tragic of them all. I’m listening to it right now, and I can feel a swell of emotion for them.

I can’t think of any other music that’s inspired my writing, but I do listen to AC/DC a ton.

Bookworm:  “Who was your favorite character you’ve ever written? Why?

Mike Gullickson: This is a great question because my gut reaction surprised me. Intellectually, it would be John Raimey (the character that ties the entire series together), but emotionally it’s Jeremiah Sabot, Cynthia Revo’s bodyguard/lover.

He’s loyal to Cynthia without being weak. And while most people in that situation (she’s the smartest, wealthiest, and most powerful person in the world) would wilt and lose their identity, he’s etched out clear boundaries. In her expertise, she’s the boss. But in his (war) he gives her no quarter. In one situation, he doesn’t even let her speak. Of all the characters, he knows exactly who he is and what he must do, and there’s something admirable about that. And his love for Cynthia is absolute.

Incidentally, Sabot is my wife’s favorite character, too.

Bookworm:  “I love how the characters of Evan and Xan play off each other even though they never meet.  I’m sure most readers would characterize Evan as a “villain” character but would be a little troubled by where to place Xan.  We certainly can’t characterize him as a hero.  Would you characterize him as an anti-hero?

Mike Gullickson: One of the editors, Justin, asked the same thing, “ugh, is Xan bad?”  No.  He isn’t.  He’s looking out for his country, and their interests aren’t our own.  I don’t like ‘good’ and ‘bad.’  I think it’s boring and simplistic and not true to life.  I’m not the first to say it, but bad people don’t think they’re bad.  It doesn’t mean their not, just that there’s an impetus for their actions.

 I have a soft spot for Xan.  Subterfuge takes on a whole new meaning when powerful Sleepers (cyberspace hackers) can read a person’s mind and even sway their predilections.  It makes spying look like patty cake, and he is aware that his kind (in the book, I call them ‘shadow men’) are a detriment.  He surprised me a bit.

 The difference between Xan and Dr. Lindo rests in their motives.  Dr. Lindo wants power.  His end game is for him alone.  Xan desires a sane world.  It’s like divergent evolution.  Their end goals are similar, but their reason for getting there is completely different.

 Aside from Sabot, I think most of the characters are anti-heroes.  You can’t help but be flawed in their circumstances. 

Bookworm:  “Who are some of your favorite authors?

Mike Gullickson:  Stephen King is a huge influence.  Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle (Inferno, Lucifer’s Hammer, Mote Series), Joe Halderman (Forever War), Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box). 

My guilty pleasure is John Sandford’s Prey/Virgil Flowers Series.”

Bookworm:  “Tell us about your upcoming book.

Mike Gullickson:  “The Northern Star: Civil War takes place ten years after The Beginning.  While the world governments have calmed, they are increasingly wary of MindCorp’s jurisdiction over them, as their citizens reside almost completely on-line, turning national borders into lines on a map. 

Raimey is sent to the Congo to confront a warlord who is raiding valuable mineral mines that MindCorp needs to maintain and grow the network.  Tank Minors (infantry-based bionics) have been in service for three years.  Mike Glass is the first of that kind, and by the Civil War he is the most advanced.  Always cold, he has found someone that he connects to, and even for him, loves. 

Dr. Lindo, now the Secretary of Defense, manipulates the world’s leaders for his final plan.  The corrupt he blackmails, the righteous he threatens what they hold dear.  MIME CPU’s whisper his will in cyberspace.  “The Twins” – two advanced Tank Majors – enact his will on earth.  And only Cynthia Revo stands in his way. 

I thought it’d be an easier re-write than The Beginning.  I was wrong.  But if I can pull it off, I think this will be an excellent addition to The Northern Star series.  The last book, The End, is gonzo.

Bookworm:  “James Bond or Ethan Hunt?

Mike Gullickson:  “Bond, even though I think Bourne would take him.”

Bookworm:  “What is your favorite scene that you have written?

Mike Gullickson:  It’s a pretty ghastly scene in Civil War.  In a memory about a war in Israel, Raimey recalls a young military recruit vomiting while he power washes the dead out of Raimey’s fists and gears.  Gross, but I love it!

Bookworm:  “If you could take one book on a desert island, what book would it be?

Mike Gullickson:  “The Stand.  It’s long and every time I read it, I’m entertained. “

Bookworm: “Do you have any advice to other authors who wish to self-publish?”

Mike Gullickson:  “That’s a tough one.  I’m so new to the game.  I think a lot of authors (myself included) view self-publishing/traditional publishing and lit agent/no agent as the same thing, when really that isn’t the case.  They’re distinctly separate conversations.  

I self-published because I had a bad experience with an agent a few years ago and I was tired of waiting for someone to ‘like’ me.  Having said that, as an author, it’s easy to get bitter about the process, but with a little empathy, you can see what a daunting task lit agents have in front of them.  A music agent can know in ten minutes if they want to sign a band.  For a lit agent, one novel may take them days. 

So even though I had a bad experience, I think even if you self-publish, a good agent could be a valuable asset.  To have an advocate who can access tastemakers (critics, movie studios, international publishers) is a huge advantage to help you rise above the noise floor. 

I’m not as convinced about traditional publishing, at least domestically.  I think most people buy on-line now and with KDP, Createspace, Smashwords – and distribution channels like Amazon and Barnes & Noble – readers can snap up your book, it’s just getting them to know about it. 

It’s an incredibly tough challenge, and the quality of your work is no guarantee of success.  Word of mouth is probably the most important thing (that’s how I buy most of my books) and that’s pixie dust, like a video gone viral.  Or the success of “Gundam Style.” 

Oh, and I think ‘platform’ is a stupid concept for fiction.  It’s made up, people!  Whether your a PhD in robotics or a janitor with a great imagination, it shouldn’t make a damn bit of difference.  Either the story works or it doesn’t.”

Bookworm:  ”Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  I can’t wait to read the next book.”

 You can visit Mike Gullickson’s website by clicking here.   You can read my review of The Northern Star: The Beginning here. If you like what you read here, be sure to follow us on twitter @ErinEymard and Google Plus.  The Bookworm is also giving a copy of Stephen King On Writing to one lucky follower of the blog/twitter/Google plus.  More information can be found on our Google Plus page and in this blog post.

 

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The Liebster Blog Award: Shameless Self-Promotion

So Tracie McBride over at the Exquisite Corpse blog nominated me for The Liebster Blog Award.

liebster2So the rules of this “award” are as follows:

  1. You must post the picture of the award on your site (done!)
  2. You must post provide 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you (see below!)
  3. Nominate some more people to answer the same questions (see below!)

Eleven (11) Random Facts in No Specific Order

  1. I have watched every season of “Survivor” since it first aired over ten years ago.
  2. My left elbow is double-jointed.
  3. I am one of eleven grandchildren.
  4. My son is named after my father and grandfather.
  5. I love every show that Josh Whedon has done.
  6. I would give almost anything to meet Stevie Nicks.
  7. I’ve been a gamer since the ninth grade and still game at least monthly with two of my friends from ninth grade.
  8. I am procrastinating writing the novel that is stuck in my head.
  9. If I had to eat only one snack for the rest of my life, it would be Nutter Butter Creme Patties
  10. I cook a pretty awesome chicken gumbo.
  11. I used to be pretty athletic at one point in my life.

Eleven (11) Questions I Must Answer

  1. Before now, had you ever heard of the Liebster Award? Nope.
  2. Before now, had you ever heard of me? Yep.  I love the Exquisite Corpse.
  3. How long have you been blogging? Since December of 2012.
  4. What is the primary purpose of your blog? Book reviews on books by independent authors (mostly).  Musing on writing and the publishing industry.
  5. Where do your blogging ideas come from? The books I read, twitter, the internet.
  6. Do you blog according to a schedule or is it more random? I try for twice a week (sometimes more!)
  7. If you have a day job, what is it? If not, just say something interesting. I’m an administrative assistant too two (2) marketing managers for a large marine company.
  8. Which search engine is set as default on your browser? Chrome.  Is this a trick question?
  9. Did you have to check your browser before answering #8? Nope.
  10. What is the title of the last book you read? The Northern Star: The Beginning  by Mike Gullickson.  I’m currently reading Kanian by Rosemary Lynch.
  11. Have you ever met a famous person? Not really.

My chosen recipients are:

  1. Impressions of a Princess
  2. Word Blurb
  3. A Life Among the Pages
  4. The Letter Vy
  5. Ella Quinn – Author

Ellipsis Tirade

el·lip·sisnoun \i-ˈlip-səs, e-\

  1. a : the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete;  b : a sudden leap from one topic to another
  2. : marks or a mark (as …) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause

The above definition is taken from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Since I’ve began to read indie author works, I’ve noticed that writers seem to be in love with these three little dots.  So much so that they misuse them all the time.  At first, I thought it was just one book or author but after ten plus books where 75% of them misuse the ellipsis, I feel the need to step in. 

The main use of an ellipsis is to shorten a quotation or to show a trailing off in speech.  Here is an example of each.  For the quotation, let’s take a simple quote from Cicero:

Original – “A friend is, as it were, a second self.”

Ellipsisfied – “A friend is . . . a second self.”

Notice that is replaces an unnecessary portion of the quote.  The addition of the ellipsis does not change the meaning of the quote.  Now let’s use it to show a trailing off in speech or thought in dialogue.

“Fiddlesticks!  Where did I leave those darn . . . ?”

But what about using an ellipsis to build tension?  Even though it seems to be a widely used (and accepted) practice to use the ellipsis this way, I cannot find any book/site on writing styles that states that it should be used this way.  But I’m not going to fight against the stream here.  Language and grammar are ever changing creatures.

I tend to agree with the Writing Forward Blog which states:

“We can also use an ellipsis to indicate a pause or unfinished thought. At the end of a sentence, an ellipsis represents trailing off into silence.Using an ellipsis to represent a pause can get a writer into trouble.

We tend to pause a lot in speech. Pauses give us a moment to collect our thoughts or add emphasis to what we’re saying. But in writing, a page peppered with ellipses wreaks havoc on the eyes.The same applies to unfinished thoughts.

A lazy writer might use ellipses to indicate, “and so on,” or “et cetera.” In text messaging and social media, many people use ellipses where they believe the reader will implicitly understand what would be stated next. In professional-grade writing, we finish our thoughts, so ellipses used for this purpose should be rare.

However, when we are writing dialogue, an ellipsis can come in handy, especially if we want to show a character’s speech trailing off. Keep in mind, though, that ellipses, like exclamation points, should be used with caution and only when truly needed for emphasis. As a general rule, don’t use it unless you must.”

PLEASE, AUTHORS!  I BEG OF YOU!  When writing your novels, use ellipses sparingly! Also remember that ending a chapter in an ellipsis is redundant.  The tension builder is already there.  A well written story already has me thinking “Oh!  I so need to read the next chapter to find out what happens to [insert character here]!”.

Here are three great resources for using ellipses:

  1. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  2. Capital Community College’s Grammar Page (with handy drop down menu)
  3. Writing Forward’s Ellipsis Page

/endrant

If you like what you read here, be sure to follow us on twitter @ErinEymard and Google Plus.  Also check out how you can win a copy of Stephen King On Writing!

Around the Web #4 – Plights of the Indie Author

Sometimes being an independent author is a lonely road.  Even with great communities out there (like the ones on Twitter and G+), authors can struggle with that feeling of hopelessness that sometimes strikes us after a rejection letter or when faced with the daunting task of editing or the baby screamed and demanded your attention refusing to let you write (just saying) or the many other obstacles that prevent authors from being successful. 

But in truth the indie author isn’t alone.  Here are three wonderful articles! One designed to help you sell your book.  One to share in your lament of a rejection letter.  One ring to rule them all….oh wait…..sorry.  And one about getting over The PAGE.

The Creative Penn

The Creative Penn

WHY WON’T MY BOOK SELL?

How many indie authors out there have wanted to just pull their hair out because their book (which of course is awesome, if you just ask them) isn’t flying off the digital shelf (are there digital shelves? do shelves only exist in reality? is it a spoon thing?)?

Joanna Penn over at the Creative Penn offers a handy checklist to help you out.  And let’s face it…we can all use a little help XD.

What I love about this list is it is pretty much like calling tech support for your computer except you don’t feel 100% stupid afterward (Is it plugged into the wall?  Is it plugged into the computer?  Is the power on? Are you a complete moron?).  Of course that is probably because you can read this in your jammies and never really admit to how many of these things you do wrong.

One of her most sage pieces of advice has to deal with writing more books.

More books = a bigger shelf space = more sales.

I guess this means that digital shelves really do exist.

The Creative Penn explains:

The more books you have available, the more virtual shelf space you have,
the easier it is for people to discover you.
Plus if a reader finds one they like, they may buy them all so you make more per customer.”

Needless to say, you should check out here article by clicking here.

The Woe of Rejection:failed

Oh the horrors of rejection letters!  Buzz Malone on his blog gives the readers a funny and hopeful post about rejection letters. Did you know that Gone with the Wind was rejected thirty-eight (38) times before it was finally published? 

38 FREAKING TIMES a publisher said “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

I wonder if someone lost their job after it became a bestseller?  Buzz Malone‘s blog post reminds us that even the Greats had to start out somewhere.  Give it a read!

Quote by Neil Gaiman

The PAGE:

Those of you who are regular visitors to the page will recognize the name Leigh Evans.  Leigh is fantasy writer who’s first book Trouble with Fate was released in December of 2012.  

She has also appeared in issue #1 and issue #2 of Around the Web on this site.  Though she is definitely not an indie author, her post rings true to all authors.  She’s been dipping her toes deeper and deeper into the blogosphere and her post on The PAGE truly hits home with anyone who has tried to write anything of length or note.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of Around the Web! Don’t forget about our giveaway of a copy of Stephen King On Writing!  As always, follow us on twitter  and now on GooglePlus!

 

 

CONTEST – Win a copy of Stephen King On Writing – Details Below

WIN THIS BOOK!

WIN THIS BOOK!

Welcome to The Bookworm’s Fancy’s very first contest!  

In an effort to get the word out about the Bookworm’s Fancy’s different facets, the Bookworm is giving away a copy of Stephen King On Writing.  

Each follower of the blog, twitter, and Google plus page will automatically get an entry.  If you follow on all three, you get three automatic entries.

Each retweet, share, +1 will get them another entry.  On March 1st, I will use a random number generator to pick the winner and mail them a hard copy of Stephen King On Writing!  So help me out and spread the word! 

Since you are here, check out some of my other posts like an interview, book review, or Around the Web!

Author Interview – Robert Evert

The Bookworm is excited to interview Robert Evert.  Robert’s first novel Riddle in Stone went on pre-order on February 2, 2013.  You may remember from Around the Web #2 that I first met Robert through the wonderful communities on Google Plus.  He was kinds enough give me an interview.

Author of  Riddle in Stone

Author of Riddle in Stone

Bookworm:  “Before we start, let me say that I just adore your blog.  In fact, I picked up Stephen King’s On Writing after reading your post.  I like that you are very frank with your readers.”

Robert Evert:  “Thanks, Erin!  To tell you the truth, I don’t like the idea of “blogging.”  One, it takes time from my other writing. And two, I’m not sure it really helps “promote” books.  But I’ve met some wonderful people like yourself so I’m glad I’ve done it.  Also, I can’t imagine why anybody would read my ramblings.  But I’m glad a few of you have!

And yes, every writer should read Stephen King’s “On Writing.”  Also, Sol Stein’s “Stein on Writing.” Both are wonderful books. I didn’t realize how bad of a writer I was until I read them. I honestly can say that I wouldn’t have gotten my manuscript published without their help.”

Bookworm:  “Speaking of which how’s the blogging coming?”

Robert Evert: “Ha! You tell me!  I don’t know.  I mean, I try to write something every week.  I want to chronicle my journey as an aspiring writer.  Hopefully I can say something that will help somebody out there.  Had I had a writing mentor years ago, I would have gotten published so much sooner.  My blog is just a way that I can try to help others learn what I learned the hard way.”

Bookworm:  “So, tell me a little about your upcoming book?

Robert Evert:  “Riddle in Stone is about this guy named Edmund. He is fat, stutters, and deeply in love with a beautiful woman, who doesn’t know he exists.

One day he realizes that his life stinks. Every morning he gets up, does the same thing that he did the day before, and then goes to bed alone. He’s bored and wants something – anything – to give his life meaning. So he decides to become a famous adventure, like all of the heroes in his beloved books.  But he quickly realizes that being a hero isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

It’s an “epic fantasy.” However, it really isn’t about magic and goblins and sword fights, although all of which are in the book.  It’s about trying to find out who you are. There’s a mystery and a sweet romance. But there’s also a “bro-mance” where Edmund and another guy are thrown together out of necessity. They become friends and help each other find happiness.

Hopefully it’ll strike a chord with somebody out there.”

Bookworm:  “Who/What inspired the story?”

Robert Evert: Boy, this is a difficult question to answer! You see, originally, I didn’t set out to write a book. I was just trying to practice writing, dialogue in particular. Every day, I sat down and spent at least fifteen minutes writing short scenes with this character—“Edmund.”

I had no idea who he was or what he wanted out of life. I was just trying to practice creating scenes and, bit by bit, this story simply unfolded in front of me. I wrote about four hundred pages and sent it to an agent, who said she loved it. And here we are!

Looking back, I have to say that Edmund is very much like me, though I didn’t plan it that way. He’s not good-looking. He’s not strong or talented. He’s not a hero. But he tries very hard to be a good person, although things don’t always work out the way he plans them.”

Bookworm:  “I love the cover.  Who came up with the concept?  Who designed it?”

Robert Evert:  Thanks!  The wonderful art staff at Diversion Books did that for me. I was a bit nervous seeing the cover for the first time.  I was worried that it was going to stink.  But they really did a nice job.

As far as the concept, that was a lot of give and take between me and the art staff. Most fantasy covers have big burly manly men holding buxom women who are falling out of thin clothing.  Or maybe there’s a grim roguish fellow with a sword. 

But none of that works for my story.  Edmund isn’t the typical hero. He’s short, fat, and balding.  He has a good heart, but it’s hard to see that in a picture. So I suggested showing him from behind.  Hopefully it’ll attract a few readers out there.”

Bookworm:  “Favorite superhero power?”

Robert Evert:  “Most of the time, I’d love to be invisible…which is horrible for a writer. Nowadays, you have to be “out there” talking to people and marketing your book.  I’m just not very good at such things.

If I had my choice, I would like the ability to truly understand people.  People really puzzle me.  I’m never too sure why they do the things they do or say the things they say. They’re a complete mystery to me.  I wish I could just see and understand them for who they are.”

Bookworm:  “Who’s your favorite literary Terry?”

Robert Evert:  Well, Terry Pratchett comes to mind.  I love the humor.  But Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind are brilliant as well.”

Bookworm:  “What authors inspire you?”

Robert Evert:  “Beverly Cleary was the first.  I loved “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” as a kid.  Then Tolkien changed my life.  I didn’t know the joy of reading and writing until I read the Lord of the Rings.  But there are a ton of wonderful authors out there.  Nearly every book I pick up inspires me in some way.”

Bookworm:  “On your blog, you often say “First drafts suck.”  I’m sure every writer feels that pain.  Who helps you edit your drafts?”

Robert Evert:  “I have a writing friend, Christine DeSmet, who edited the first book. She’s a fellow author and an incredible person.  A bit brutal at times. But I think writers need to hear, “This stinks!” Once in awhile.  Sometimes we don’t see the flaws in our own writing.  Outside editors who are blunt are a big help!”

Bookworm: “How did you go about getting published?

Robert Evert:  “Ah! That’s a book in and of itself! 

I’ve been trying to get published ever since I was in fifth grade. I tried and tried and tried, but never got anywhere.  Then I started studying the craft of writing.  If you want to get published, you have to study writing just like you would for any career. Once I realized that, getting published became very easy.”

Bookworm:  “Any advice to unpublished writers?”

Robert Evert:  “I have a TON of suggestions for unpublished writers. Things that I wish people would have told me when I first started out.  Here’s one tip you might not have heard before—read new authors. Of course, being a new author, that probably sounds a bit self-serving. But follow my logic for a minute. 

If you pick up a book by Stephen King or Tolkien or Rowlings or the latest big seller, I think we have a tendency of saying to ourselves, “Since they’re selling so many books, this must be good! I need to write like them!” It’s difficult for unpublished writers to read popular authors objectively. If we see something we don’t like, I think we often say, “Oh, it must just be me. I must not see what everybody else does. I must not get it.” And that’s a bad mindset. 

Unpublished writers need to study writing. We can’t do that if we think other people have all the answers.

However, if you read books by people you’ve never heard of before, you’re free to think whatever you like. You can say, “Holy cow! This is really unique! I love how the author does x.” And you’re free to say, “Holy crap! This sucks! How the hell did this get published?”

Read new writers.  E-mail them. Ask them questions. Talk to them about the craft of writing. Stephen King and J.K. Rowlings probably won’t respond to “fan mail.” But a new writer certainly will!  I mean, I would LOVE for somebody to take the time to e-mail me and say something nice about my work!  That’s a hint, by the way.”

Bookworm:  ”Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  And good luck on the pre-order of Riddle in Stone.”  

 You can visit Robert Evert’s blog by clicking here.  You can pre-order Riddle in Stone by clicking here.  If you like what you read here, be sure to follow us on twitter @ErinEymard and Google Plus.  The Bookworm is also giving a copy of Stephen King On Writing to one lucky follower of the blog/twitter/Google plus.  More information can be found on our Google Plus page!

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The Northern Star: The Beginning by Mike Gullickson (Book Review)

So here is my first ever review for The New Polder Review blog!  The site is a group of reviewers dedicating their reviews to small press and self-published books worth reading.  You should definitely check them out!  And now ON TO THE REVIEW!

The Northern Star:  The Beginning by Mike Gullickson

The year is 2058. The great oil shortage that we have been warned about since the 1970s has finally come to pass, causing the Great Migration, where people began moving from the suburbs and back into the cities. Enter Cynthia Revo who successfully frees the mind from its physical prison. People now live more in cyberspace than in reality. But it is much more than that. Cyberspace is now the new reality. It has become necessary for almost every aspect of society. The economies of countries depend on it. But no one suspects the evil that lurks around the next cyber corner.

The Northern Star: The Beginning

At first glance, I was prepared to dislike this book. I feared it was going to be a preachy environmental tale hidden behind a story that was part pre-Matrix, part Mechwarrior, and part Ender’s Game. I was delightfully surprised. I was treated to an old school science-fiction romp.

The characters are complex creations that grow and evolve throughout the story which, at its core, is a morality tale. Would you do bad things for the right reasons? When does the greater good trump personal freedom? Not even the villain is truly beyond redemption, though such redemption does not come in this book.

My one complaint is the addition of what, in my opinion, is an unnecessary section at the beginning of the book. It expounds on the background of a character that isn’t a factor in the rest of the story. What we learn about him has already been covered by other characters in the story. In fact, he’s probably the one non-complex character in the whole story. Oddly enough, the narrator for this part dies at the end of the chapter so even he doesn’t have any value.

Nor is the setting for this chapter important. It takes place in the jungles of Venezuela, but Venezuela is never mentioned anywhere else in the book. And the placement, early in the book, is all wrong and disrupts the flow. It breaks with how the rest of the book is laid out.

The book wraps up nicely with lots of action and suspense, setting up for the sequel brilliantly. I am looking forward to the next book which I’m sure will explore the question of at what point do we stop being human. At least, I hope it does.

The Bookworm gives this book 4 out of five stars.

You can visit Mike Gullickson’s website and see the other books in the Northern Star series as well as other works!

Did you like this review?  Check out our previous reviews of Goddess-Born and Dragon Fate. Follow us on twitter @ErinEymard.  Also feel free to check out a categorical list of our previous posts.