April 2015 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: April 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

Writing Has Taught Me Money Management

This may sound like a bit of a leap, but it’s ABSOLUTELY not!

I started my career as a freelance writer while working as a teacher. I had classes in the early morning, mid-afternoon, and late in the evening, with plenty of time between. Rather than wasting it traveling home for a nap or watching TV, I filled that time with writing.

Before a year had passed, I was supporting my family on the income I earned writing for a living. I was able to quit teaching and focus on writing, but that brought a whole new set of problems.

Being a freelancer means that you have to handle ALL of your own expenses. There’s no health insurance, no paid holidays, and no savings account. You have to manage your own money, a task that has been no end of stress since Day 1.

But thanks to the fact that I have to handle my money wisely, I have managed to put aside a pretty hefty amount of savings. I’ve taken vacations, visited my family, and even taken days off in the middle of the work week. I take my family out to eat and I live a good life.

And it’s all thanks to the fact that I write as a freelancer.

When I started writing novels, the challenge got a bit harder. Not only did I have to make the money I needed to continue living, but I had to invest a bit into my book–covers, editing, formatting, etc. So now I REALLY had to be careful with the money I spent, as I needed to have enough to spend on my book at the right time.

It’s done me a TON of good, and I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that I have to be cautious in what I buy and how I spend my money. I don’t throw it around like many others that I know, but since I’ve started writing, I’ve never run out of money. Sure, things have gotten tight and I don’t get as many days off as I’d like. But it’s a trade-off that I am willing to make every day!

The Odds are Totally Stacked Against You

Yesterday I came across a post on Kristen Lamb’s Blog that said something that hit me pretty hard. I’ll let her say it in her own words:

“Statistically, only 5% of the population is capable of sustained change. This means of ALL the people who want to run marathons, 5% will. Of ALL the people who join a martial arts class, only 5% will ever reach black belt. Of ALL the people who have a dream of being a career author, only about 5% will ever reach that goal and maintain it.

It’s been said that as much as 75% of the literate population would love to one day write a book. Out of hundreds of millions of possible authors, how many do you think actually take the idea seriously?

5%

And of the tens of millions left over, how many sit down and write and finish a first draft?

5%

Of the millions remaining, how many actually read craft books, get critique and keep revising that first draft until they have a polished draft?

5%

Of those who finish that first novel then realize they have a train wreck and not a novel, how many suck it up and start over to write a better book that’s more likely to engage with readers?

5%

Of those who finally write a decent book, how many take time to also build a brand and platform? How many learn to blog effectively in ways that reach and cultivate readers?

5%

How many get in the regular habit of writing, researching and revising? They don’t just stop with the one book and keep on writing more books?

5%

Of those who publish the first book and don’t instantly become zillionaires, how many keep writing and improving?

5%

This profession is really hard. Toss a few hundred million people with a dream into one large funnel and most will not shake out at the end. Yet, if we look at the individual pieces of becoming “successful” it is astonishing how much we control.”

Take a look at that, do the math, and you’ll realize just how FEW people actually succeed in our line of work (authors)–but also in any line of work.

To become a successful author, the odds are completely stacked against you. Add all of those 5%’s of 5%’s together, and you end up with 0.00000000078% of people actually succeeding in the industry of being an author. Pretty staggering odds, right?

What’s the takeaway of all this? Simple: if you’re going to be one of that 5% that succeeds, it’s going to take every shred of willpower, determination, and grit you’ve got.

There are millions of other people struggling to be in that same 5% of success, and many of them are going to succeed because they are luckier, harder working, and better than you.

If you are going to make it into that niche of “success”, you’re going to have to give it everything you’ve got–and then some!

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Book Review: The Transcendent by Nathan K. Battles

It’s Book Review Wednesday, my favorite day of the week! Today’s book review is a unique combination of video games, mythology, and sci-fi!

 

The Transcendent

Osiris had quite the reputation in the gaming community but was somewhat of a social square. But when he discovers a portal to a virtual reality that is more real than meets the eye his entire world is turned upside down and he learns he can do anything…even disappear.

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The nation has eradicated most human rights and life is not as fun as it used to be…to some. To other’s…they are free to have all the fun, take all the risks, and live life on the edge-as long as they have the money to back it up.  After plunging headfirst into a world he didn’t quite understand, Osiris finds himself in the middle of a war between The Government and a vigilante group called The Realm Walkers.  He discovers that things are not always what they seem to be, even himself.

 

My Review: 3 Stars

I started this book with an open mind, and I found that the story itself was actually quite intriguing. This gamer gets pulled into a sort of real-life game, and he is given “missions” by a “narrator” just like in a real video game. I could tell that the author had spent plenty of time on video games.

But beyond the intriguing premise, there wasn’t much else going for the book. It’s written in a very amateur style, and the number of grammatical and punctuation errors is too high for my taste.

I found the story to be a bit incoherent. It kind of jumps from plot thread to plot thread without any real cohesion or connection, making it hard for me to understand what’s going on. It was definitely a first-time book, but without the guiding hand of an editor or proofreader to catch mistakes and plot holes.

 

Here’s a Taste:

The phone began screeching as the man yelled into the phone and he pulled it away from his ear to keep his eardrum from being blown out. “Didn’t I say shut up! Just be quiet and wait!” After passing a few stops, Osiris felt the drunken man stand up behind him and the bell rang, letting the bus driver know that someone was trying get off. As the bus rolled to a stop, the man stumbled to the front and got off. The man on the other end of the phone continued talking as the bus began to pull off. “Walk to the very back of the bus, there’s a brown, paper bag there. Inside the bag is a Satysphere Portable. It’s a bit beat up but it still works. I want you to get it and load up your copy of Gaia. I know you have it with you.”  Osiris looked around at everyone on the bus and stood to his feet, walking to the back of the bus. He sat down and sure enough, there was the brown, paper bag under the seat just like the man on the phone told him.
He reached into it and pulled out the portable, opening the back cover as he raised one eyebrow. “I don’t think my game will fit into this.”
The man sighed calling Osiris an idiot again. “Just pull the cord and get off the bus, walk down the closest alley. They’re coming for you.” After that, the man hung up and Osiris quickly stood to his feet, pulling the cord. The bus rolled to a stop and he hopped off, walking as fast as he could. He bumped into random people on the sidewalk as he kept looking back over his shoulder, trying to spot anyone that might be following him. When he didn’t see anything suspicious, he stopped for a few seconds to look around and saw an alley to the right. He sped up, made a sharp right into the alley, and began slowing down as he entered the shadows, walking through the unlit path.
It was dark, too dark.
After getting halfway down the alley, he stopped when he heard a noise behind him. His heart began to race as he took another step and heard shuffling behind him, someone was following him. He leaned forward to run but a hand reached out and tightly gripped his shoulder, so tight that it sent a sharp pain down his arm to the tips of his fingers. The hand spun him around and he fell on his back, looking up as he raised his torso off the ground to try to scoot away from the figure standing above him that was reaching into its coat. It pulled out what looked like a gun, pointing it down at him as he covered his face with his arms in a useless attempt to try to shield himself from the gunshot. While his field of vision was obstructed, he heard a struggle and the gun clattered to the concrete. He took his arms down from his face, and opened his eyes to try to see what was going on, when a bright flash filled the alley and everything went black.

 

About the Author:

Nathan K. Battles is a blooming author, born February 14, 1989. After discovering his natural talent at a young age, he began working on his first novel. After finishing his first novel, he began developing “The Transcendent” as he waited to see the final print of his first novel. After feeling dissatisfied with the final print of the first novel, he halted production of the book, and continued to work on “The Transcendent” because he wanted to see how it would end. He also likes to draw, fish, play pool, and play poker. He is currently learning Spanish and japanese, and hopes to one day, travel around the world site seeing with his family. He has two children, one girl and one boy. He is currently working on the second novel in The Transcendent Series, “The Transcendent: Project Titan”.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Transcendent-Nathan-K-Battles/dp/1312007869/

Connect with him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KB.50plus

Tweet at him: https://www.twitter.com/NathanKBattles

Writing Has Taught Me to Be Wrong

I hate being wrong! I’m the kind of guy who loves to give unsolicited advice, offer words of wisdom, and be the smartest one in the room.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and I am grateful for the fact that I have learned to be wrong. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s vital if you want to be the best you can be–not just as a writer, but as a human being.

When I first started writing, I knew I had a great story. In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent is an epic adventure spanning an awesome continent with great characters. Boy, was I in for a surprise when I was told (by many people) that my story wasn’t as great as I had thought. Why not? No character growth, lack of development of the world, etc.

Blow to the gut, right?

So, being a man’s man, I sucked it up and took the comments to heart. When I wrote The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I tried to correct those errors, and I have continued to make improvements to my writing. As a result, I believe that the story that will soon be published is going to be a MUCH better creature.

If only all of us could learn to be wrong, we’d be much better for it.

In doing book reviews, I find myself in the position of critic for books and authors. I like to share my thoughts and opinions, including offering some advice on how I feel the authors could have improved their work.

Well, one author in the last few months REFUSED to be wrong. They insisted time and again that they had written their book that way on purpose, and nothing I said swayed their belief in their utter rightness.

Shame, because their story had a lot of potential, but the writing style kind of sucked. If they had taken the small (hopefully not too patronizing) advice I shared, they could have improved their writing in the future.

Be willing to be wrong, folks. You only ever learn and grow when you can accept that you are a fallible human being who f***s up every now and again!

 

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Book Review: Cherry Blossom Ball by Erika Jayne

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday and we’re headed into a world of fairies, werewolves, vampire Hunters, and who knows what else?

 

The Cherry Blossom Ball

Vampyre Hunter Dayamanti Karrieá and Half-Fae Freya Mackenzie have one thing in common – neither of them fit in in the supernatural world. As the annual Cherry Blossom Ball approaches, each of them receives an invite that fills them with dread. All guests from the supernatural educational system–nicknamed the House of Alternatives–have been chosen by the highest power, and once they accept the black and gold envelope, they have no choice but to attend. The reluctant women arrive at the ball and find it just as they imagined, until a murder is committed.

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Shock ripples through the ball, as Dayamanti and Freya are surprised by the Supernatural Councils apparent lack of interest in the crime, they become determined to find out who committed the murder and if will they strike again. One thing you can be certain of–this year, it will be murder on the dance floor.

 

My Review: 3 Stars

I loved the opening of the book! It felt like Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist, just with fairies instead of chalk wizards and a female protagonist. But within a few pages, I was to be disappointed.

The number of mistakes and typos was far too high for my preferences. I understand a few are to be expected, but there was a lot of missing punctuation, grammar mistakes, VERY obvious repetitions, and typos all around. I’d guess that it didn’t undergo the tender ministrations of a professional editor before being published, or at least that’s how it looks.

The story itself was a bit flat and two-dimensional. There was no real growth, no serious emotional investment in the characters. Why are we supposed to root for Dayamanti and Freya? The author gave me no reason to like them, and there was no depth to the characters. When there was a major death in the book–something that should have been very dramatic and full of feeling–I felt nothing.

Overall, the story had a lot of potential, but it was lacking in that depth of character and plot that could have made it excellent.

 

Here’s a Taste:

 

“Then we shall begin.” Standing with my legs slightly apart, I stare at Professor Roe as he continues.

“The whole point of the examination Ms Karrieá is not necessarily to win but to use all the skills that you have been taught in this class. To potentially put yourself in an advantageous position over your opponent, in this case me. You have no weapons other that your body.”

“Right, can we just get this over with?” My voice flat, as I bend my head from left to right.

Professor Roe quickly throws a punch towards my face; easily I knock aside, while using my right elbow to connect with his cheek. There is a satisfying thud; pulling his right arm towards my waist, I spin on my heels and make sure my left elbow makes contact with the nape of his neck.

Finally with a solid kick to the back of his knees, Professor Roe lands face first on to the floor.

I have to resist the urge to cheer and shout, I am the only student to get the Professor onto the floor in this mid-term.

Taking a step back, I start to roll my shoulders.

Probably should have warmed up before the exam.

Professor Roe pushes himself onto his knees and with a stern and focused look states in a strong clear voice states.

“Again”

“Fine” I groan.

I decide this time not to wait for Professor Roe to make the first move, in several quick steps I cross the space between us and my fist makes contact with his cheek, as follow through by forcing his nose into my knee, he grabs my legs and flips me onto my back.

I can’t breathe.

My chest hurts.

I have to move!

I need to move, I am sitting duck here.

“Come on Day! Move your ass.” Glancing behind Professor Roe, I look into the black eyes of Trey.

A smile forms on my face as I bide my time.

I just need Professor Roe to come a fraction closer.

He is now within striking distance, I use all my force and kick him hard in the chest, and Professor Roe stumbles backwards.

Springing to my feet I manage to brace myself before he tries several times to hit me in the face.

I block a left punch, right punch, an upper cut.

Without warning, he uses his foot to sweep me off balance, my arms start flailing in hopes to stop from falling and Professor Roe uses that moment to plant his fist directly into my nose.

Shit!

There is a loud crack and my eyes instantly start to water.

Pain radiates across my cheek and to the corner of my eye.

Wrapping my hand around his neck, I pull his head towards my raised knee and wait for the crack.

It’s loud and I can’t help but smile.

With a smooth and practised movement I sweep his legs out from beneath him and Professor Roe lands unceremoniously with a loud thud on the floor.

 

 

About the Author:

Erika Jayne (1986) was born in Bristol UK and moved to Wiltshire when she was still young.
An avid reader from a young age, it was this love of reading that led Erika Jayne to start writing her own novels.

Erika Jayne’s debut novel – Cherry Blossom Ball – is already sparking intrigue and a steady following around the globe.

Cherry Blossom Ball is the first novel in the House of Alternatives – which is being called a mesmerzing and haunting book series full of fantasy and mystery.

Find the Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cherry-Blossom-Ball-House-Alternatives/dp/1291950516/

Read her thoughts on her website: http://erikajayne2015.wix.com/erikajayneauthor

Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erikajayneauthor

Tweet at her: Twitter

Why Depth Matters in Fiction

I’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of books lately. A lot of them have had fascinating stories, but it feels like there’s something missing. I’ve realized what it is: the books are lacking in depth.

When I wrote In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent, my entire focus was on making the story as awesome as I could. I wrote about the coolest characters doing the coolest things in the coolest places. But the book fell flat. It was a great read, but it wasn’t the sort of book that people would recommend to their friends. Why not? It had no depth.

Depth is what draws us to a book or story. It’s definitely a subconscious thing, but our minds are always searching for some sort of connection to the characters we are reading. When our mind finds that connection, we tend to identify more and more with the characters in the book.

Twilight is one of the most popular series in the last decade, but the writing is nowhere near up to par. So why is it so popular? If you look at its target audience (young girls), you’ll understand why. A young girl is “coming of age” and discovering herself, just like they are.  She goes through all the emotional turmoil that young girls experience, and so they subconsciously identify with the main character–even though they have no werewolves or vampires fighting over them.

Harry Potter, one of the best-selling books in history, is another coming of age novel, but why does it appeal to adults and children around the world? The emotions and turmoil in the Harry Potter novels appeals to a much broader audience. It’s not just a young man finding his identity, but it’s so much more.

Character depth is absolutely the most important thing in fiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about a detective, an abused girl, or a fairy princess unicorn-riding goblin hunter–they all need to have depth.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your story is; if your character has nothing to them, nothing to make you identify with them and their struggles, your story is going to fall flat. I’ve read stories of epic battles and wizards and dragons that made me yawn, and I’ve read stories about boring people and their boring life but I couldn’t put the book down.

It’s all about giving your readers something to identify with. THAT is the only way that you are going to interest them in what you have to say!

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Book Review: Fatal Greed by John W. Mefford

It’s Book Review Wednesday! Today’s review gets out of the world of fantasy and comes back to the real world for a great detective novel…

 

Fatal Greed

Greed knows no boundaries.

A corporate takeover bleeds its way into a private company in North Texas. Behind the scenes, deadly deals erupt from the greed-filled hearts of a select few powerful enough to make them happen.

What’s an employee to do?

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For one unassuming man the thought of layoffs, of losing his own job to a bunch of arrogant assholes, feels like a kick to the jewels.

Until the day Michael Doyle’s life changes forever.

Perverse alliances. An affair of the heart. A gruesome murder. A spiraling string of events thrusts Michael into a life-or-death fight to save a tortured soul and hunt down a brutal killer…one who lurks closer than he ever imagined.

 

 

My Review: 4 Stars

Written/Reviewed by Samuel Denberg

Michael Doyle is mid level management in a small financial company. His life begins to fall apart when the top brass announces they have sold out to an international conglomerate. Michael is sure he, and many of his friends will lose their jobs. His depression is cut short when he discovers the dismembered body of a coworker. Shocked out of his depression, he finds purpose investigating this gruesome murder. His trail leads to corrupt cops, blackmail, a cowed city government and more.

I found this book to be an interesting read. Far from the normal detective novel. Michael has no training and isn’t interested in fighting crime, or solving mysteries. He’s an average guy who has been pushed too far and is asking “why”. The plot was well thought out and I didn’t find any plot holes, or unrealistic escapes, or incredible insights into “who done it”. All in all a well written book and worth reading.

 

About the Author:

A veteran of the corporate wars, former journalist, and true studier of human and social behavior, best-selling author John W. Mefford has been writing novels since he first entered the work force twenty-five years ago, although he never put words on paper until late 2009.

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John writes novels full of intrigue, suspense, and thrills, but they also evoke an emotional connection with the characters.

When he’s not writing, he chases three kids around, slaves away in the yard, reads, takes in as many sports as time allows, watches all sorts of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and societies across the land.

John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three opinionated kids, and a feisty fat cat who rules the world.

Find the book on Amazon

Find him on his website: http://www.johnwmefford.com/

Connect with him via Facebook

Tweet at him: Twitter

 

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Book Review: The Dream Walker by Michelle Murray

It’s Book Review Wednesday! Today, we’re going to look at a simplistic book of magic, portals, and heroes…

 

The Dream Walker

Once upon Mystica, there were six wizards, there light and three dark. One day, one o the dark wizards Midnight says a spell to trap the fellow wizards. His spell goes astray, and he is trapped also. Now, all of the wizards are trapped in stones. One curious boy finds one of these stones and releases Midnight on Mystica. Midnight now has his chance to have Mystica all to himself. He gathers an army and prepares for war.

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Miranda dreams of Mystica. She travels there to find the one wizard that can stop Midnight. Lightning. Follow Miranda as she discovers her powers. Travel through Mystica, the Plains, the Ice Caves, The Forest of the Lost, and the Dragon’s Lair. Can Miranda find and release Lightning and save Mystica?

 

My Review: 3 Stars

I wanted to like this book, but I have to say that it was a bit too simplistic for my tastes.

The writing is average-quality at best, with a lot of typos, spelling and grammar mistakes, and no real flow. There is no tension, no suspense, and hardly any real depth to the book. It’s the kind of story that you’d expect to find in a VERY SMALL children’s book. It is written for children, but I’ve come to expect more from children’s books–look at the Redwall series, the Harry Potter novels, the Percy Jackson books, etc. Kids are smart enough to read writing of good quality, and this just didn’t meet the standard.

This story lacked any real depth. Kids need to be more than just entertained, but they need to be brought along on the journey of someone who is sharing the life they are leading. All of the best children’s books teach lessons subtly, but this book is little more than an interesting story.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Midnight wanted more power. He wanted to defeat the wizards of the white robes for once and all, and claim Mystica for himself.  He was deterred from outright killing the other wizards for if the wizards died, so did the land of Mystica. Mystic and the magic of the wizards were connected in an odd way Mortimer could not figure out.  It was no use ruling a dying land.  He had to find another way to defeat the other meddling wizards.

Midnight searched and searched the entire land of Mystica for a way to defeat the other wizards.  He searched far and wide.  At last, he search paid off.  In an abandoned city, in an abandoned temple he found what he was looking for. Ironically, the temple once worshipped the Goddess of the Sun.  Hidden in the darkest corner of this temple, he found a faded spell book.

The spell book was worn and tore out at places. It was musty and full of mildew. Yet, Midnight could make out one spell. This spell was all he needed.

The spell trapped people’s souls in stones. Midnight quickly went to work. He gathered all the ingredients. He studied the spell over and over again. Finally, he was ready. Mystica would be his!

Midnight traveled to the top of the highest mountain in Mystica to recite the spell. As he recited his carefully studied spell, something went wrong. Some say he angered the Goddess of the Sun by using a spell book from her temple. Some say, he had read the faded spell book wrong. Whatever the cause, the spell went array.

The whole sky went dark. All of Mystica shook. Tremors could be felt throughout the land. When the sky cleared, and the tremors stopped, six stones lay atop of a pile were Mortimer had been standing.  Instead of trapping the other wizard’s souls, the spell trapped them all, including Midnight, into stones.

 

About the Author:

Michelle is a married working mother of two fine young men (her children). She lives in Wisconsin. When not writing, she enjoys reading especially science fiction/fantasy and classics.
Her favorite authors include Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Margaret Weiss, and Colleen Houck.
She also enjoys doing painting and crafts, and spending time with her family. She enjoys going for walks, and swimming. She has been known to jump in Lake Michigan with no life jacket!

She has been writing since high school. Michelle took a break from writing to concentrate on raising her children.

She has an app on her IPad that gives her a word of the day and poem of the day.

Find the book on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Walker-Land-Mystica-ebook/dp/B00MU828DW/

Connect with her via Facebook: www.facebook.com/dreamwalkerseries

Tweet at her: twitter @murray_mlmurray

 

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