Sunday, February 16, 2014

Slushy slogs and diamonds on the ground

Just so you know, I’ve been getting corrupted at Chuck Wendig’s blog. After I read him, I cuss a lot more, and let slip weird and personal bits of information that may not be strictly true. While I don’t really believe his story about the garter snake and the serving spoon, my little ditty about the socket set and the VCR might possibly be true. Or not. Well.

Lately he’s been going off on the self-pubbed volcano of crap. I can sort of see it. His plea for self-pubbers to take some pride, get some edits, make a nice cover, write a blurb that entices, really is in a lot of people’s best interests to listen to. Of course the comments that followed were kind of harsh. Like, I won’t read indie ‘cause it’s all kinds of crap.

I’m not too worried about it on our end of the genre spectrum here. I read indie books. Jordan Castillo Price self-pubs. Josh Lanyon does too now. Never heard anyone complain about their quality. They’re pros, they work their publishing like a business, they do the right things to create a lovely chunk of entertainment. And a lot of other folks I read do it too. Because there are some great pieces out there that didn’t go through an imprint, from authors who take pride.

Of course, I see some of the volcano spew too. Some from authors who should know better. From writers I really did think knew the difference between its and it’s, or that sentences need punctuation on the ends. Be glad I don’t name those names, they make me talk like Chuck Wendig and then I say things like fucking fuckbasket.

Some indie writers have asked me to read their work, and I have. Some I plan to read again. Some I probably shouldn’t have said yes to. Some I’ve declined. Some indies I’ve bought. I buy a lot of books from a lot of authors.

Some I’ve opened the file on and thought oh no, there went my remaining sanity, and closed it again. If you don’t believe that a good cover and a good blurb matter, yes, they do. If, against my better judgment, I look past an eyesearing cover (which in mm is relative, I know) and a blurb of stones and errors, the story tends to match. I try to weed these out early. They aren’t all indie, either, which is another fucking fuckbasket.

One problem I do see as being more of an mm indie issue is that a complete story arc may or may not be in there. If the book is clearly One Big Book divided for manageability, and does have some completed plot arc as part of the bigger situation, that’s cool. But if the books are short and really should be all three together for a plot arc, that sets me off. I stopped reading fanfiction because I got so tired of a neat set up that got abandoned before the plot really started, and a lot of “Book 1”s seem like more of the same, only with money.

Chuck Wendig didn’t really address that volcanoes make diamonds too. There are some spectacular indie things out there. And they aren’t too hard to find. Here’s three of my favorites, some I’ve reviewed, some coming soon.

What's right about this? All three books are clearly marked as going together, they have a great story, lovely covers, pretty formatting, and just in general show how it's done right.

This Digital Box Set contains all three volumes of the Impulse trilogy: Inertia, Acceleration and Velocity.


Quiet, grounded Detroit handyman Derrick Chance isn’t looking for a relationship. After spending his twenties recovering from a series of tragic losses, he’s content with his insular existence and not interested in risking the possibility of another.

Stylish accountant Gavin Hayes has every reason to avoid entanglements, too. Fresh out of an abusive relationship with a world-class manipulator, he questions whether he’s ever going to be fit for another partner. At the very least, it will be months before he knows just how big an issue his future health will be if he tries again.

But when a series of home repairs unexpectedly turns into an extravagant game of flirtation, they discover that the last thing they thought they wanted is the one thing they can’t live without. As the autumn months pass and they wait for the final verdict on Gavin’s health, the two wounded men learn to open up, to let someone into their lives, and to trust again. But when Gavin’s dangerous ex re-enters the picture, will their new and fragile bond withstand the final test? 

Find at Amazon. I reviewed each book separately. Might as well get the set, you'll start and want to finish right away.

What's done right?  A complete plot arc, it stands alone, even if it's better in order, the tale is fast paced and gripping, we CARE about these two guys and besides, Lucky's the  funniest pain in the ass ever. Also I want to lick the cover. Review to follow.

 Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law.

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper.

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case.

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?
 Find at Amazon
What's done right: a hotdamn of a standalone story, where the stakes are higher than just getting shoved out of the closet, a great setting, and a paperback copy that looks as good as anything on my shelf. Review to follow.

Pro cyclist Luca Biondi lives for the race. For the star of Team Antano-Clark, victory lies within his grasp—if he can outdistance 200 other hopefuls, avoid suspicion from race officials, and keep his lieutenant more friend than foe. Luca also has secrets, and eyes for amateur cyclist and journalist Christopher Nye.

Christopher understands Luca’s need to keep their relationship under wraps, but chafes at hiding in the shadows of his lover’s career. He’s ready to cheer Luca’s victories, but he knows too well how triumph can turn to tears. While Christopher’s heart sees Luca the man, his inner journalist—and his editor—sees the cycling world’s biggest scoop.

From the jagged curves of the Colorado Rockies to the viciously steep Belgian hills, Luca can ride out any bumps—except rumors about his loyalty.

A few words in the wrong ear could crash everything. With miles between them, hints of scandal, and Luca’s fierce need to guard his reputation, a journalist might have to let go of the biggest story of his career or risk forcing his lover to abandon the race. Christopher and Luca face a path more treacherous than any road to the summit in the Italian Alps.  Find at Amazon

Notice I didn't say anything about the editing. That's because nothing sticks out, these three (5?) books are all coherent and proofread to a fare thee well.  So there, Chuck Wendig.

If this is indie, I like it.

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