Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Immortal Symphony: Overture by SL Armstrong and K Piet

Title: Immortal Symphony: Season One: Overture
Authors: S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet
Cover Artist: Nathie Block
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Genre: Paranormal, Serial
Length: 39 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you're wrong. The real story didn't end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn't ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian's is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet... and not all of them want to stay dead.

Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he'd stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn't come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

Episode 1: A Meeting of Fate
Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator from America, finds himself in London chasing down a supposedly haunted artifact. While there, he meets a man who calls himself Dorian Gray, who may not match the description from that famous story, but certainly has the attitude. And the seduction. And because ghost hunting isn't exactly a lucrative venture, Dorian's invitation into his world of opulence, decadence, and wealth may just prove too tempting for Gabriel to resist!

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Serials are a sore point with me: they can be done right, or they can be done wrong. Generally the difference is presentation and disclosure. Storm Moon Press understands that, and they are labeling their new serials so that there is no question in anyone’s mind. Each installment can be purchased separately and clearly identified, or one can purchase the bundle and collect each section as it appears, plus additional materials that can’t be obtained any other way. They are up front about it, and for that I applaud them. It isn’t clear from the site how many sections to expect, but judging from this first, it would take at least 5 to make a novel length piece. Per private communication with the publisher, this one is the 'Radio Drama' format, where each episode (aka short story) must be read in sequence for the plot to make sense, and each episode ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger or substantial shift in the plot. They have other formats explained in that link.

And I’m fine with that. I’ve been warned, and I’ve also been given a nice hefty chunk of story, priced sensibly by the chunk. The bundle price suggests there are substantial goodies included. So bring it on!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dragon Touched by JB McDonald

Title: Dragon Touched
Author: JB McDonald
Cover Artist: BS Clay
Publisher: Torquere
Genre: fantasy
Length: 63 pages/17,500 words
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Being called a demon and given suspicious looks has become old hat for Ashe, depressing as it is. But a mob attack leaves him shaken, aware of the danger he's in every time he walks out of the palace. With no purpose, no friends, and a culture that hates him, Ashe is barely putting one foot in front of the other. He wants to go home.

Katsu wants to go home, too, but first he has to fulfill his duties. The problem is that every time he finishes one thing, something else needs his attention. If Ashe will just be patient, Katsu will figure it out. But Ashe is running out of patience, and the boys are learning that sometimes, love isn't enough. Katsu knows the solution is there, if he can just find it... before everything falls apart.

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I’m invested enough in this undisclosed serial to keep reading, but that may not last. Again, we don’t have a complete plot arc—it feels like we left off at an inciting incident last time. (For a more complete discussion of three act structure, look here.) Here the stakes get higher, but resolution? What resolution?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A picture is worth...


Poker face, hmmm. I think his mouth might just give him away. Have a story, 100 to 1000 words, for him, send it on. Directions here.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guest Blogger Angela Benedetti on Serials

Please welcome Angela Benedetti, who has graciously allowed me to repost her well reasoned discussion of serial fiction, originally on her blog, Angie's Desk. This was timely for me because I have serial fiction in my review queue, some offered well, some offered poorly.

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Can we talk about serials for a minute?

I know serialization is supposed to be the hot new way of sucking extra money out of readers. (Oops, was I not supposed to say that out loud?) But you know, most readers can actually do the, like, second grade math required to figure out how much the whole story cost them. If your short novel is coming out in five two-dollar parts, or your normal sized novel is coming out in ten two-dollar parts, a lot of people are going to do the above-mentioned math and figure out that you're ripping them off. 'Cause seriously, ten bucks for a short novel in electronic form is ludicrous. So is twenty bucks for a regular sized e-novel. If this is how you price your "serial," then you (either the writer or the publisher, whoever came up with the scheme in any given case) has absolutely no moral ground to stand on when readers start complaining, in print, on their blogs or on Goodreads or wherever else. Because that? [points up] That's a major rip-off.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cover Up by K.C. Burn

cover up kc burnTitle: Cover Up
Author: K.C. Burn
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Genre: contemporary, police
Length: 236 pages


Detective Ivan Bekker has hit rock bottom. Not only is he recovering from a bad breakup with a cheating boyfriend, he’s also involved in a drug bust gone bad. Ivan had to kill a man, and his friend was shot and is now fighting for his life. Though Ivan is under investigation for his part in the shooting, his boss sends him on an off-the-books undercover operation to close the case. The timing is critical—this could be their chance to plug a leak in the department.

Off-balance and without backup, Ivan finds himself playing a recent divorcĂ© and becoming Parker Wakefield’s roommate. He finds it hard to believe that sweet Parker could possibly be a criminal, much less have ties to a Russian mafia drug-trafficking operation, and Ivan lets down his guard. His affection is unprofessional, but Parker is irresistible.

When Ivan comes across clear evidence of Parker’s criminal involvement, he has to choose: protect their relationship, regardless of the consequences, or save his career and arrest the man he loves.
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I turfed this book at the 15% mark, and wasn’t planning to come back to it. Objecting to the absolute lunacy of the setup on Ivan’s behalf, I didn’t think I could bring myself to read an entire novel that worked with that sort of logic. Curiosity got the better of me, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A picture is worth...

Happy Valentine's Day to all, and may everyone be able to rejoice in their love.

Anyone with a story of 100-1000 words (Honest, I like drabbles!) send it on. Directions here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sharing Tomorrow by Michael Barnette

newyearsipTitle: Sharing Tomorrow
Author: Michael Barnette
Cover Artist: n/a
Publisher: Torquere

Genre: paranormal
Length: 17 pages

Fae-born Kyle has been alone for decades; everyone he once knew is gone. The need to be around others, even humans, has grown so great he can no longer remain alone. Then he enters a bar and he someone who seems to know what he is, a man named Anluan.

But Anluan is more than a man and on the cusp of New Year's they discover they don't have to be alone anymore as the magic of faerie weaves a spell around them to bring them a very Happy New Year indeed.

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This is a sweet little short, only 17 pages, but it was a pleasant read. Kyle, whose fae-name can only be said by others of his kind, is driven by loneliness to enter a pub. He has magic enough to disguise himself from the humans who don’t believe in him any more, but not quite enough familiarity with the human world to keep the bartender, Anluan, from being able to pick him out as non-human. Can’t really blame him when the last time he came ashore to mingle was back when gaslights were common.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It can be right and still be oh so wrong



I have a spelling checker.
It came with my pea sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye kin knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished inn it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

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I'm getting a little tired of crap proofreading, to the point where it may take me a while to read things from certain publishers again.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tumbling Blindly by Sue Brown

TumblingblindlyTitle: Tumbling Blindly
Author: Sue Brown
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Publisher: Total E-Bound

Genre: Contemporary
Length: 63 pages

Book one in The Arches Series

Dumped by his partner, Matt isn’t looking for love. Once he meets Gabe at the gym, he finds a friend as well as a lover.

After he is dumped by Milo, his long-term partner, Matt retreats to his bed, only to be scared out of his wits by two policemen breaking into his house, checking to see if he is still alive after being alerted by a nosy neighbour.

The last thing he expects is to meet one of the policemen a few months later at his local gym. Gabe makes it obvious that he is attracted to Matt, but Matt is still getting over his break-up. To his surprise, Gabe isn’t deterred by Matt’s reluctance, and promises to be friends until Matt is ready for more.

Then Matt’s world is turned upside down by Milo’s return, begging a bed for one night. One night turns into a week and Milo doesn’t move off the sofa. Although Matt still has feelings for Milo, he realises he also has feelings for Gabe, who is more than a friend, and waits patiently to be a lover.

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There’s not much to spoil after that blurb, so I guess I can speak freely. The story turned out to be more fun than I feared after a slightly off-putting beginning.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Thousand Word Sequel by Eden Winters


There he was again! Dirk’s heart skipped a beat. In this light, at a certain angle, the man sitting by the window looked just like… Nah, it couldn’t be. Dirk had seen the telegram with his own eyes, “Lost, presumed dead.” None of the “presumed dead” ever came home. Ever. He lowered his gaze to his drink, watching light play over the amber liquid. For years now he’d come here, simply to visit old memories—with all his former mates long gone. What a pathetic thing he’d become after the war.

Still, eying the stranger was like a visit from an old friend. He raised his glass in silent toast to the man gazing out at the darkened street. Ten years, it’d been. Ten long, lonely years. From time to time Dirk found a willing bedmate to spend the night, a week, a month, and, in one case, two years. They always left again. And Dirk always found it hard to care. His heart had died long ago, with a fighter pilot over war-torn London.

Monday, February 4, 2013

After the BBQ by Matthew Lang

afterthebbqTitle: After the BBQ
Author: Matthew Lang
Cover Artist: Deanna Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 9000 words



Trent Gaudeen was going to spend Australia Day alone--on principle, of course. When an invitation comes out of the blue to attend his ex's holiday barbeque, he goes along despite himself. Will he open a can of worms or find the perfect match to his American pumpkin pie?
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I like stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Here the beginning starts out with the promise of paranormal that doesn’t mesh up with the contemporary middle, which in turn doesn’t support the happy ever after ending. This could have made a lot more sense.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Football and 1000 words

This is the first time I've ever chosen my Superbowl team based on human rights, but Brendon Ayanbadejo is my favorite football player ever now (sorry, John Elway, but not very, even you haven't done anything quite this awesome). The 49ers' recent hoof in mouth incidents would make me root for anyone else playing against them, but I will yell extra hard for the Ravens.

Go Ravens! Go Ravens! Go Ravens!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Cost of Secrets by Cassandra Gold



Title: The Cost of Secrets
Author: Cassandra Gold
Cover Artist: Kalen O’Donnell
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 121 pages (PDF)/Word count: 35,457


Police officer Dan Fallon knows the streets, but he's a rookie at romance, and still very much in the closet. He thinks sexy fitness instructor Isaac is way out of his league, until a dangerous situation breaks the ice between them.

Isaac Weiss has spent years trying to get his life back together after a series of terrible mistakes. The last thing he should be doing is trying to have a relationship with a cop, especially with his past. Too bad he's unable to resist sweet, shy Dan.

It's not long though, before the secrets both men are keeping rise to the surface and threaten to destroy the fragile connection they've forged with one another. Can Dan and Isaac find acceptance or will the cost of secrets be too high?

Review

The blurb sure looked good. Given that the stated theme is secrets, one expects that total honesty will be hard to achieve, but the problems in this story go far beyond difficulties in communication. Between the treatment of some serious life issues and stylistic clunkers, I would have DNF’d this story at the 20% mark had I not been reading for review.