January 2015 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: January 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

Escape

Book Review: Escape by Lisa Williamson

It’s Book Review Wednesday, the day of the week where I get to share with you a book given to me to read. This week, we’re taking things into outer space with this space opera…

 

Escape

All Caro wants is to dance and to be with Adam but Masters Cyrus and Marshall have other plans for her. Dark plans that will change the fate of the universe. Can she escape those plans or will she be fed to the Demon’s Well? In a universe filled with alien races and advanced technology, humanity brought with it the ills of war, slavery and piracy.

Escape

Escape is the first of the League of Stars novels

 

My Review: 4 Stars

The book starts out a bit weak at first, with very little information on what’s going on in the first chapter. It takes a few pages to get into the story, but once you do, you’ll find you’re as hooked as I was.

The story is absolutely intriguing, and the scenario and setting are quite brilliant. It’s a story with all the right sci-fi elements, a touch of fantasy, and a bit more romance than I might have enjoyed. There were a few too many sex scenes in my opinion, but that’s just me.

There were a few more typos than I would have liked, and it definitely looks like it could have used a professional editor to fix things up–both in terms of proofreading and development. A lot of information is crammed into the story, and it could have been spread out over a few books. There is a bit of awkward phrasing sprinkled in, and the action scenes are VERY weak. The cover is also a bit iffy…

The emotions, however, are very strong, and it’s clear that the author’s strengths lie in her characters rather than her description. If the book was given the proper attention by a team of editors and proofreaders, I have no doubt it could become a best-seller.  It got 5 stars for the story, but only 3 stars for the writing.

The ending felt a bit disappointing–too neat and tidy for the real world. It is clearly meant to set up Book 2, but I feel it could have been a bit stronger and with more climax.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Caro ran down the corridor ahead of the Sweepers. Throwing a look back at each bend in the way, she managed to stay just out of their view. Dodging between the shoppers, under the long scraps of material that heralded what each tiny, hole in the wall shop specialized in, she moved from one tiny space to another with all the agility of a child.

The Sweepers were once more rounding up the young and masterless and it was clear they needed new females, females to breed up new warriors and to slave for the Masters. Caro refused to follow in her sister dancers footsteps, refused to be made a slave again. She needed to get off this station, onto a ship headed to a free world.

A few more twists and turns down tunnels that echoed with the mix of languages that made up the natives of the station. Cries of warning and of complaint mixed with the patios of commerce. She leapt high over a cart that had spilled in the middle of her path, briefly amazing those watching as she seemed to fly.

She flashed a tight grin and waved as she landed, a quick pirouette that she could not stop herself from doing. She rolled her eyes at her action and dashed off once more.  A few more twisting turns and she came to the concourse.

Slowing, she eeled her way into the crowd. Her size helped her blend into the crowd but she stood out for her ethnicity. Where most of those who lived and worked on this station were small with black hair and blacker eyes, she had a different shape to her face, her eyes large and round compared to the almond shape of those bred to this station.

She was dressed in her silks, a bright flash of color among a sea of black tunics and pants. A cardinal that stood out surrounded as she was by crows. She had to find Adam. Only with him did she feel safe from the Sweepers.

 

***

 

Inside Shankman’s Rest a voice swelled and captured the attention of those passing by. Full and masculine, it pulled people in and stirred things deep inside hearts that were locked down. He sang of sex and love and other things that the Masters had done their best to stamp out if not outright outlawed.

The listeners paired off and, in smoky corners, broke the laws of the Masters, by touching and caressing those not approved. His song was wild and rhythmic, full of power and need. The audience that wasn’t pairing off was surrounding the stage where the tall, dark-haired man sang. Dressed in black leather and blue silk, he mesmerized and teased. Both men and women looked at him like he was fresh meat and they were starving.

His song soared as he made love to the audience, giving them a light to their dark days and release. His eyes jumped from person to person, seeming to stroke them and tease them, but in reality searching for one face in the crowd, just one person. He hid his worry and poured more power into his words.

 

About the Author:

Lisa Williamson is a writer of odd cross genre fictional stories. With dozens of short stories, novellas and novels her fantastic worlds span the genres of fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, erotica and horror.

Her first publication was in the beginning of the Ebook movement with a short story and poetry collection from the 1990s. Writing in themes of self discovery, she mixes myths and legends from various cultures with a mystical bent. No matter that genre there will be a touch of romance, a sprinkle of nontraditional religions and a dash of enlightenment. He stories strive to let the reader open their mind to the wonder of the world around and within us.

Born and raised in Nashua, New Hampshire, she is currently living with her husband and daughter in Ontario, Canada. The change from one country to another has inspired her writing of both fantastical fiction and poetry.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Escape-League-Stars-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00O30BD8Q/

Visit her website: http://themadwitersden.weebly.com/

Tweet at/to her: @suteko

Or get to know her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Williamson/362048140532220

HeartofDesire ebookcover yeo

Book Review: Heart of Desire by Kate Robinson

Bonus Book Review Saturday is up, and it’s time for a bit of romance–mixed in with plenty of sci-fi and weirdness, of course!

 

Heart of Desire

You heard nothing happened on December 21, 2012, right?

Not exactly.

Here’s where the cosmic shift began:

Tess Vaughn’s deepest desire is to give up romance and live a quiet life in rural Arizona. But when the former investigative journalist jogs into the arms of married presidential candidate Senator Harris Cantrell Henry, she finds trouble galore. Tess finds herself pregnant when she calls an end to the trysts. Her daughter Mikka’s paternity and precocious talents are secrets she knows she must keep.

On 11.11.2011, the hyped pre-2012 window of positive opportunity, President Henry announces his intention to engage the United States in the international fight against global warming. But his deepest desire to provide full disclosure of his contact with extraterrestrials remains an uneasy secret. When President Henry disappears, Tess’s fears for Mikka’s safety mount.

HeartofDesire ebookcover yeo

My Review: 4.5 Stars

While not a romance reader AT ALL, I found myself enjoying this book immensely. It wasn’t for the romance side of things, but it was for the complexity of the story.

The author seems to have a VERY firm grasp on politics, and has created characters that are surprisingly easy to relate to. From the main characters (Tess and President Henry) to the supporting characters (Paul, the Updikes, etc.), all of the people in this book seem like down-to-earth, realistic characters. No cardboard cutout characters here!

The writing is very strong for the most part, though there are a few spots where it weakens a bit. If Dan Brown, Danielle Steele, and John Grisham wrote a book together, this would be it.

The science fiction side of the book is actually surprisingly realistic, and very little of it sounds “made up”. It seems to be a very well-researched book, with a lot of different layers.

Half-way through the book, the president seems to suddenly change personalities, a switch I found a bit jarring. There is a lot of religion in the book (Christianity, New Age, and more), which I found a bit off-putting considering how important religion was in this sci-fi book. The ending is a bit trippy for my tastes, but overall the book was pretty darn good!

 

Here’s a Taste:

Huge, bulging black eyes floated toward President Harris Cantrell Henry and hovered inches from his face. He swiveled his neck to look away. Somehow those eyes rotated his aching head back from the blank wall and locked onto his eyes with magnetic ferocity.

Henry made another conscious effort to glance away. Beads of sweat sprouted from his forehead and cheekbones, but his gaze snapped right back to those terrible eyes.

You won’t remember this.

A chill shot through his spine. Someone was talking to him inside his own friggin’ head again. Those damned shape-shifting lizard reviewers who’d visited him some months before on Air Force One?

You will not remember anything.

The hair on the back of his neck pricked up. His second experience with telepathy, and it still jolted the shit out of him.

Like hell, he thought. I remember those lizards and I’m damn well gonna remember you.

Henry’s guts turned watery when he tried to focus through the haze. He could barely make out a single form bent over him, a narrow, gray face and exceptionally large almond-shaped black eyes. A peculiar iridescent glow emanated from them at particular angles, like large insect eyes caught in the sun.

If he’d been prone to religious fervor, he’d think he’d gazed into the eyes of God or the Devil. He stared into them again, suspecting what he’d heard was true, that ET abductees described those big black eyes as goggles or covers that protected vulnerable eyes. Still, they glowed hypnotically with life and purpose.

Henry’s heart almost burst from his chest when he tried to move again, pushing against the sticky sensation, like swimming upstream in molasses. Sleep paralysis? He’d awakened thinking he’d fallen asleep in the back seat of a limo, nested in soft leather, cozy and womb-like, but found himself strapped to this narrow, metal platform suspended at the edge of a drab, semicircular room.

Henry closed his eyes and tried to recall the sequence of events that brought him here. He remembered striding down a White House hallway, his mind churning out mental “to-dos” for his afternoon meetings.

The creature somehow forced his eyes open and recaptured his gaze, making him irresistibly sleepy again. He felt like a goofy cartoon character with eyelids propped open by sticks. All he could see for the next few minutes was a play of light and shadows caused by the twitch of his eyelids. When he finally managed to raise one eyelid to half-mast, figures swam above him as if he were peering through thick, frosted glass.

He found that if didn’t try to force his will on the situation, his surroundings came into clearer focus. At least he didn’t hurt, well, everything except his neck and head hurt, but he’d had chronic headaches for months. As he thought this, his entire body throbbed subtly with a massage-like undulation and he began to feel pretty good.

A pale hand with four spidery digits rose beside an oversized head positioned near Henry’s feet. The creature held a short wand of metal or shiny plastic with a globular end on top. Henry squinted at the variety of shimmery colors moving like northern lights inside the globe, but everything else still looked swimmy. Watching the changing flow of light soothed him. He began to like his placid, motionless position—how long had it been since he vegged out in comfort like this?

The creature continued to channel superfluous telepathic commands. Superfluous, because Henry found he involuntarily responded to the wand’s glow. The simultaneous telepathic commands made by the creature seemed unnecessary. Perhaps it thought humans felt more comfortable when addressed in their native tongue. It sounded contrived and mechanical, more like a computerized voice than anything real.

Without warning, the little bastard jerked him right out of his reverie. Holograms somehow appeared in the small space between the table he reclined on and the one nearby. Various three-dimensional scenes began to unfold in front of him. Assaulted by images of a dying Earth, the creature seemed to be accusing him of destroying the fragile planet through his complicity as a world leader. He puzzled over that for a moment, realizing he’d been told not to interfere with climate change.

He tried to shout, to stop the devilish picture show, but the creature just cocked its head as though showing deep interest. He wondered if the being projected this perception, because it had little facial musculature capable of expressing emotion and seemed to convey its curiosity telepathically.

The creature proceeded to turn up the emotional heat and observed his agony like a scientist observing wildlife. Worse, he thought, like a scat researcher probing an animal dropping.

The holographic images took on a personal note. He watched his wife and children starving, wasting to skin and bones until disease finally took them. Healthy friends and acquaintances dissolved like wraiths, ravaged by exotic diseases. Millions of people burned alive, screaming to ash in huge fires spewing across continents. He tried to close his eyes, to block his mind, rationalizing the visions as a test of his compassionate reaction to a possible future reality. His gut surged, knowing this path probable if greed and technology continued to outpace spiritual awareness. Suddenly he felt enraged by the creature’s manipulation and grieved by the solemn truth. Anger gave him the impetus to flex the muscles of his neck. His head wobbled from side to side.

The creature cocked his head in interest again. You are uncomfortable?

Henry tried his damndest to keep his mind blank. Hell yes, he sputtered, glaring up at those eyes with murder in his heart.

 

About the Author:

Kate Robinson began writing bad poetry in Des Moines, Iowa and continued to hone her writing chops in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Wales, and Kenya, which serves her well as chief wordwhacker at Starstone Lit Services near Los Angeles. She is most interested in the appearance of the extraordinary in ordinary daily life and tries always to dance with paradox and absurdity.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Desire-11-11-11-Kate-Robinson/dp/1500402281

Or Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/154178.Kate_Robinson

Kate likes to hang out on her two blogs: http://katerwriter.tripod.com, http://jellyfishday.blogspot.com

You can connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heartofdesire11.11.11Redux

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/katerwriter

Writing Has Taught Me Perseverance

It’s amazing how much hard work goes into putting out a brand new book!

When I first sat down to write my first story, I had no idea the long, arduous process I would end up going through. By spending time writing, I’m definitely learning the hard lesson of persevering no matter how hard it is to keep plugging away.

Everyone loves their book when it’s in the rough draft phase. You’ve got the general idea of the book, you’ve outlined enough of the story to write the thing, and you’re putting your ideas down on paper. The story just flows up from the depths of your soul, and it is creation at its purest. Genuine bliss!

But once it’s done, that’s where the hard work comes in.

First draft, polishing the thing so that it’s as well-written as you can possibly make it. The pace of writing slows to a crawl because you’re agonizing over every word, trying to get it just right. The first draft is probably one of the hardest parts of the book, at least for me!

Then comes the second draft, after the beta readers have got their hooks into the book and told you “Boy, this bit sucks!” I basically had to rewrite 30% of The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer thanks to comments from my beta readers. That second draft was NOT easy, and it took a lot of work to get it finally write.

Of course, after that comes the arduous process of reading over every word myself and finding anything that stands out as odd or poorly worded. Once I finish reading the book and marking it all to hell with my red pen, it’s time to make those changes and try to fix the wording as best I can. Definitely not an easy task.

Finally, there’s the comments from the editors that need to be incorporated. This can take another few weeks/months, and by the time your book is actually ready to be published, you’re incredibly proud of the masterpiece you’ve put out until—god damn it, there’s a typo!

Writing (proper, professional writing, not just throwing books up on Amazon willy-nilly) is an arduous process that demands perseverance. Thankfully, all of the work is paying off, for the book is being picked up by a publisher. That won’t make writing Books 2 through all the rest any easier, but it proves that the perseverance is worth it.

The Secret of Change

Socrates said it right:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Every New Year brings with it a good deal of change. I’m struggling with some changes I need to make in my life, primarily in my approach to my writing. 2014 was a pretty epic year for me, and 2015 looks like it’s going to be even more awesome–if only I can make those necessary changes.

I hate people who post vague statements (in a sort of attention-seeking manner), so I’m going to let you in on some of the changes I need to make in 2015:

I need to focus on my marketing/outreach efforts, not just writing. I love to write, but I HATE marketing. It’s so challenging for me to dedicate my one hour of writing time to promoting myself and my books, when all I want to do is write. But if I want to have any sort of success as a writer, I have to focus on marketing as well.

I need to get out of my “bubble of creation”. It’s hard to sit and write when there is noise or activity going on around me, when things need to get done, or when the kids are acting up. I tend to retreat into my little “bubble”, which makes it hard for the missus. I need to change that a bit, and not be so focused on my own wants (writing, in this case) that I fail to be a good parental/marital unit.

I need to work on my writing skills. I’m trying to change the way I write, improving both my writing skills and my approach to story-telling. I’ve written a few posts in the past about what I’m learning, but it’s darn hard to change the way I write. But it’s necessary to change in order to be a better writer.

These are some of the changes I NEED to make in 2015, but boy are they hard!

Yet that Socrates quote helped me realize what I need to do to change. It’s not about eliminating old bad habits completely, but it’s about building new good habits.

If I was to eradicate all of my bad habits BEFORE I started building the new ones, I doubt I’d ever get around to those new habits. This is a huge weight off my back, as now I realize I just need to work on forming new habits and they will automatically replace my old bad habits.

That doesn’t make it any less of a challenge or any less work, but it does make it easier for me to swallow. Instead of being overwhelmed by the thought of all the changes I’ll need to make in 2015, I can build those good habits one day at a time without worrying about my old habit.

Phew, 2015 may not be such a tough year after all!

Pure Control Cover

Book Review: Pure Control by Clint Brill

It’s Book Review Wednesday, the day I get to share with you the great books I’ve read.

Today, we’re going to talk a bit of science fiction…

 

Pure Control

A strange room is unearthed during the building of an amusement park. With the room’s bizarre but inoperative knobs and gadgets, the amusement park developer believes it will make a great attraction for little kids. Unfortunately for the first group to enjoy the attraction, the room turns out to be something they never expected. The need to work together is vital, but the situation brings out the worst in the people involved. Giancarlo tries desperately to lead, but he’s frequently thwarted by Quinn. While the adults fight for control, the power rests with the children.

Pure Control Cover

My Review: 3.5 Stars

I’m not a huge science fiction fan, but I was willing to approach this book with an open mind. The first chapter had my interest (I love a mysterious extraterrestrial object as much as the next guy), but from the moment the rest of the characters were introduced, my interest waned a bit.

For starters, there is A LOT of head-hopping (randomly changing POV without a break in the story). There is a lot of story going on, but there is no real sense of the character. There is almost no inner dialogue going on, nothing to show us what the characters are thinking or feeling beyond their facial expressions and words. For this reason, it’s hard for us to care about the characters, because we can never see through their eyes.

The wording also tended to push me out of the POV just as I was getting into the character’s frame of mind. That random switching of POV really made it hard to read, and it made it even harder to connect to the characters.

There was one scene where a character is alone in the dark, and that was the only time that I actually felt like I was in the character’s head. The rest of the time there is very little “sense of place”, and there was nothing to engage my senses.

Also, the characters are UBER-aggressive. While having one or two aggressive characters is understandable, it was like the entire book was one bad word away from having everyone knife each other. I almost expected there to be some alien mind-control causing all the aggression and anger, but it was just the characters. Not realistic at all, and this is coming from me–a fairly aggressive person by nature. Just too much testosterone.

That being said, the story’s twists and turns definitely surprised me, and I found it intriguing. I kept wanting the characters to explore more of the ship to see if they would find alien life, or if they were alone. The ending may have disappointed me, but the buildup to that point was pretty good.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Tori rubbed her shaking hands together. When she tried to speak she felt a hitch in her throat and she coughed slightly. She glanced at the others. “Nothing in this room is supposed to work,” she announced. “The lights and sounds are for show.”

Quinn shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. You’re lying.”

“I’m not,” Tori replied, a tear forming in the corner of her eye.

“Bullshit,” Quinn snapped. “If it’s all just for show why did that door close? Someone touched something and the door closed on us. That doesn’t sound like just a show to me.”

Tori shook her head and wiped a tear from her cheek. She winced with pain as she moved her injured wrist and tried to make it comfortable again. The hint of movement caused her to glance up in time to witness Quinn reaching down and grabbing her by the hair. She screamed as he yanked her to her feet and pushed her against the wall.

“Enough lies, bitch,” Quinn shouted, his face inches from hers. “Tell us how to open that fucking door!”

“Relax, Quinn,” Giancarlo told him. “There’s no need for that. and watch your language.”

Quinn glanced at him then stared at Tori. “Answer me!”

“I can’t,” she cried. “I don’t know how to open the door. It shouldn’t have closed to begin with.”

“Quinn!”

“What?” Quinn snapped, releasing Tori and letting her slip to the floor as he turned to see Giancarlo standing a couple of feet away.

“No more violence,” Giancarlo said. “Hurting people isn’t going to get us out of here. We have to stay calm.” Without waiting for a response, he knelt next to Tori and helped her sit up. “How do we open the door?”

Tori shook her head and looked at Quinn. “I already told you. I have no idea how to open the door. It was open when they found it.”

“What are you talking about?” Quinn asked, taking a step closer to Tori. She huddled against the wall and raised her knees to her chest. “What do you mean the door was open when they found it? Who found it?”

Tori hid her face in her knees and her shoulders bounced as she sobbed quietly. Giancarlo reached out and squeezed her shoulder. “Tori,” he said, using the softest voice he could manage, “what aren’t you telling us? Where did this room come from?”

Tori rocked back and forth as her shoulders shook. She glanced at Giancarlo. She wiped her face with her uninjured hand and took a deep breath. “Two years ago, when they were building the park, the construction crew found this place. It was sticking out of the side of the slope. The door was open. Nothing in here worked, no matter what they tried. They decided to make it into an attraction.”

“She’s lying,” Quinn said.

Giancarlo looked at him and shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’ve done enough questioning in my time as a cop. I think she’s telling the truth. At least, she believes what she’s saying.”

“That’s it then,” Quinn declared. “We’re screwed.”

 

About the Author:

Author C. Lloyd Brill lives in California with his girlfriend and ten cats. When not writing he enjoys reading and cross-stitching as well as hiking and star-gazing. As a former Marine, he supports, and will donate a percentage of all proceeds to, the Wounded Warrior Project. He also contributes to anthologies that benefit other worthy charities.

You can find the book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1h4fIPz

As well as on Barnes and Noble: bit.ly/1l5z3DO

Talk to him via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/C-Lloyd-Brill-Author/274230026061204

Or send him a Tweet: @CLloydBrill

 

 

Writing Has Taught Me…Patience

I’ve been doing the “Writing Mistakes” series for a good long while now, so I think I’ve covered most of the basic mistakes writers make. It’s time for a brand new series, this one titled “Writing Has Taught Me…”

Pretty self-explanatory, right?

This week, I want to share how writing has taught me patience.

Patience has NEVER been my strong suit. I’m the kind of guy who makes up his mind in a few seconds, and I like to get things done NOW! If it takes too much time, I hate doing it and will look for a faster way to do things.

With writing, speed is one of your worst enemies! Not only will it cause you to get sloppy in your writing, but you’ll make mistakes that can ruin your story.

There are many things about writing that has taught me patience:

Struggling to find the right word. There is always that one sentence that you just can’t figure out, whether it’s how to use the right syntax, how to avoid the use of passives, or how to say what you really want to say. Last week, I spent 30 minutes on TWO paragraphs, trying to make them say as much as possible with as few words as possible. It takes a lot of patience to keep looking for that perfect word until you find it, when all you want to do is move on to the fun parts of the book.

Re-drafting and making edits for the fifth time. I HATE EDITING! I’m sure most writers do. Sadly, it’s part of the life of a writer. Editors and beta readers mark up your book, forcing you to go over, and over, and over it again. By the time my books even see an editor, they’ve been through about 5 revisions. That takes A LOT of patience!

Waiting for beta readers. This is by no means a complaint about my beta readers, but it’s just a part of life. Every one of them is busy, and the fact that they’re gracious enough to invest their time into reading my work is something I cannot thank them enough for. But it’s still hard for me to sit and wait for them to finish reading so I can get back to work on my “baby”.

Publishing with enough time to set up a proper launch. I finished writing The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer in late November, and the launch isn’t going to happen until May or June (publisher willing). That takes A LOT of patience, just waiting on the edge of my seat until the date that my finished product is released. In waiting, however, I’ve had time to set up a big launch, which will in turn increase the success of my book when it finally is released. Here’s hoping my patience will pay off!

Doing the book right. Who doesn’t want to write a single draft and simply release the finished product? Every writer dreams of having their books go straight from their (proverbial) pen to the bookshelves, but that’s NOT how it works. To do a book right takes long hours of correcting, editing, formatting, and more. Hurrying it up to get the finished product faster would result in a poorly done product, so it’s important for us writers to be patient.

Getting feedback. I have posted passages of my WIP and had people give me feedback a week later, when I had already moved on. It was kind of annoying to have to go back and re-edit the portion I had thought was finished, but when I looked at it again, it looked much better post-feedback/correction.

Sitting and just writing. I write for a living (30 to 40 hours a week), so you can imagine how difficult it is to write as a hobby as well. It takes a lot of patience to sit back down at my computer and write after a long day of sitting at my computer and writing.

Has writing taught you patience? Leave a comment below with ways that you’ve learned a bit of patience through your efforts to write…

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