August 2015 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: August 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

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Book Review: Kragan by Denny Hausker

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday–a sign that I managed to fit a bit of extra reading time into my busy schedule! Today, we’re going hardcore high fantasy with a classic tale of “good” vs. “evil”…

 

Kragan

Prince Damon competed with his younger brother Prince Tabor to be crown prince, but Tabor bested him in the final contest. Thereafter, Damon feels his life has no meaning until stunning Beth rides into his life fleeing the great trauma of her life. Fate is not done with Damon who is forced to overcome self-pity to become the person he was meant to be.

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Their world is threatened with destruction as the vast barbarian horde, the Argore, suddenly invade the lowlands from their mountain realm. Damon, shackled with doubts, strives to become that better man, trying to win the love of Beth, but her disdain and personal focus on revenge thwart him time after time. Is it him she rejects? Does her heart belong to another?

 

My Review: 3.5 Stars

I wanted to give this book a good review, as it looked like a fascinating read.

Let’s start with the good:

Loved the world! Solid world building, and the author knows how to convey a decent sense of the surroundings, background, setting, etc.

Good characters. Perhaps a bit TOO flawed in some cases, but they were well-written. Could have used a bit more fleshing out, though.

Now for the bad:

Grammar and writing iffy. A lot of writing that seemed very “beginner”. Simple mistakes like passive sentences, poor punctuation, and a LOT of “telling”.

Conversations and descriptions jerky. The dialogue either came off as too crisp or “perfect” for it to be the way real people speak, or else it was a bit stilted or jerky.

A lack of realism. A few examples include: 1) the women becoming “perfectly curved” through their hard training, rather than solid and blocky; 2) battle scenes are unrealistic–how many people pause in the middle of a fight for the “champions” to duel; 3) battles didn’t really take a toll on the heroes, only the villains; 4) the bad guys assault a city, but without the use of siege weapons; 5) the heroes become masters with swords in a matter of six months to a year.

I feel like the book would have been better divided into two, with more time spent developing the characters and more focus on making the action scenes really pack a punch. The battle scenes could have been dramatic and intense, but instead, many of them came across like a battle scene from a history book.

 

About the Author

Dennis K. Hausker is retired since 2003 from the insurance industry. He started publishing books post-retirement writing mostly epic fantasy. There are double digit books on the market currently including anthologies as a contributing author. His wife, a retired teacher, is called a ‘warm and fuzzy’ for children she taught. Born to be a teacher, she was exceptional in her job. Both are graduates of the Michigan State University, love to travel, and possibly have passed through your hometown, wherever that might be.

Denny is a sports fanatic for MSU teams and goes to every bowl game. Denny is also a part-time financial consultant. He loves to write unique stories with flawed characters, difficult plot twists, shocking turns of events, and a plethora of emotions, shaking the reader like rag dolls. If you’re not exhausted traveling this road, it will be surprising.

Find his book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kragan-Dennis-K-Hausker-ebook/dp/B00KCBRDRU

Connect with him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dennis.hausker

 

The Simple Complexity of Writing–Or is it the Complex Simplicity?

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah said, “When we are able to do something so easily, we regard such thing as simplicity; but simplicity is complexity. Within the things which are simple lay the things which are complex and within the things which are complex, lay the things which are simple.”

That got me thinking about writing…

Writing is, at its core, a pretty simple concept, right? You just string words together, and voila!

But there’s more to just stringing words together. You have to choose the right words, put them together in the right order, and add on the proper modifiers to ensure that you communicate clearly.

Once you learn how to do that, you know how to make sentences and paragraphs. But writing is more than just putting together paragraphs and sentences. They all have to be leading somewhere, saying something, or communicating a message. So you have to come up with a story to tell. Simple, right?

But telling a story isn’t enough! You have to find the right flow, pacing, rhythm, and balance between narrative and dialogue. No story will be complete without those elements, which suddenly makes the simple complex again.

Once you learn how to find the right pacing and flow, you still have to make sure that the story has the proper elements: tension, antagonists and protagonists, developed characters, a plot to keep your readers engaged and more. It becomes more and more complex the broader you get, and yet it’s simpler at the same time.

A book is a story, and a story is made up of tiny elements. The “simple” story has many complex layers and moving parts, but all of those parts are made up of simple letters, words, and sentences. Kind of a weird thing to consider!

Writing a book is similar to constructing a machine. The machine is made up of smaller parts, each of which are made up of smaller and smaller parts. The smaller you get, the “simpler” the parts, but the more vital it is that each part is exactly the right size, shape, and in its proper place.

That’s some Inception-level stuff right there!

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Book Review: In Pocket by Martyn V. Halm

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and boy do I have a treat for you! Today’s book is a brilliant look into the life of a pickpocket in the modern world…

 

In Pocket

Nomadic pickpocket Wolfgang gets blackmailed into teaching his craft to the mysterious Lilith, a young woman with no aptitude whatsoever to become a pickpocket. Wolf figures the easiest way is to go with the flow and instruct Lilith in the art of emptying other people’s pockets, but even he could never foresee the dreadful consequences…

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My Review: 5 Stars

Yes, that’s right, I’m giving this a 5-star review!

First of all, I loved the fact that it’s about a pickpocket. I’ll read anything with a criminal as the protagonist, so that hooked me right off the bat.

The author gets into a lot of details about Amsterdam (the city that serves as the setting for the story), and it helps to fix an image of the world around you into your mind. He gives plenty of details to help you understand what life in Amsterdam for his character is like, but without giving info dumps or going into too many random details.

The characters were all surprisingly well-written for such a short story! They were layered, developed, complex, and intriguing, even the ones that only appeared in a few scenes.

The plot itself was quite brilliant, I must admit. Despite the character’s cynicism and wariness, he ends up being played incredibly cleverly by the Lilith character. It’s a beautiful example of just how easily men can be manipulated by women.

Throughout the book, the author uses flash-forward scenes to describe the end of the book, letting you know over and over that the character got “played”. And yet, you have no idea how he gets played right up until the moment that it happens. There is nothing to give away the ending, which I found incredibly clever and well-written. All in all, it’s worth the 5 stars, and it’s a book I will gladly recommend to anyone!

 

Here’s a Taste:

Around nine-thirty, I entered Small Talk, a luncheonette at the corner of Van

Baerlestraat and Willemsparkweg, ordered an espresso and went upstairs to the first floor.

Lilith followed me inside and added a cappuccino to my order. She sat down across

from me, took a brush from her shoulder bag and brushed back her damp hair. After dabbing

her face with a tissue, she unbuttoned her jeans jacket. Her nipples jabbed the damp fabric of

her T-shirt. She shivered and gave me a reproachful look which I ignored. It wasn’t my

problem if she didn’t know how to dress for this fickle weather.

“So how many did you take?”

I sipped my espresso. “You didn’t count them?”

“Seven?”

“You’re guessing,” I said. “I told you to observe indirectly, not to let your attention

wander.”

Lilith leaned forward, her damp breast touching my jacket. “Could we drop the

hostilities?”

I looked into her pleading eyes. “You think I’m being hostile? You blackmail me into

instructing you while you have absolutely no aptitude whatsoever for my profession. I’m

wasting time I don’t have on this farce, so–considering the circumstances–I think I’m

downright congenial.”

“Listen, I’m sorry if I came on like a bitch, but I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t desperate.

Have you never been desperate?”

“Never.”

“Lucky you.” Lilith slouched in her chair, her gaze on the tabletop. “I never had any

luck.”

“Spare me your life story. Save it for someone who actually gives a shit.”

I could see she wanted to punch me, but her desire to stay in my good graces

apparently got the better of her. She rested her chin in her hands and studied me. “How about

yours?”

“My life story?” I snorted. “Nothing to tell.”

“Nothing?” She looked up, tilted her head. “I find that hard to believe.”

I shrugged.

“Why don’t you tell me how you become a pickpocket?”

“How?” I smirked. “I became a pickpocket by sticking my hand in other people’s

pockets.”

“You don’t want to tell me?”

I finished my espresso. “See? You can be perceptive, with a little effort.”

“Are you going to be like this all day?”

“What did you expect? That I’d ‘revel’ in teaching you my ‘craft’?”

“I’m sorry if I’m a nuisance.”

“You’re not sorry. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. I’m not an idiot.”

“I mean it.”

“No, you don’t. If you were truly sorry, you’d get up and get out of my life.”

“I can’t. I need this. I need you.”

I shook my head. “I was just the sucker who made a mistake in your vicinity. Now I

have to pay for it.”

I got up and she followed me to the counter, where she paid for both our coffees. I

didn’t thank her, but led the way to the nearest tram stop. The rain turned into a steady drizzle

and I noticed she was still shivering in her thin jacket.

She rubbed her arms. “Where will we go now?”

“Albert Cuyp. You bruise easily?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Why do you ask?”

“Just answer the question.”

“If I’m knocked about I’ll bruise, but I don’t plan on getting caught.”

I shot her a scornful look. “Never heard of ‘collision theft’?”

“You want me to bump into someone and pick his pocket?”

“You bump into the mark. Extracting wallets is my department.”

“Oh. Okay, no problem.”

I scowled. “We’ll see.”

 

About the Author:

Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam, with his wife Maaike, two children, two cats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention. Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work. Martyn is a stickler for verisimilitude in fiction, even if that requires learning new skills, and luckily he has more aptitude than Lilith.

While Wolf’s story is fictional, many locations in In Pocket are real. When Martyn wrote the first draft of this story, his third story apartment in the Kraijenhoffstraat looked out over the wasteland on the Cruquiuskade where Wolf parks his van, but this site is now an environmentally friendly upscale neighbourhood and park.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011LW05BO

Read Martyn’s thoughts on his website: https://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25919334-in-pocket

Writing Has Taught Me to Think Ahead

Note: This is not me “tooting my own horn”–I’m just sharing what I’ve learned!

When I launched my first book–In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten ContinentI had one goal in mind: get that first book out there, no matter what!

When I received the final formatted copy of the book from my editor, I believe I waited all of 30 minutes before uploading the file to Amazon for publishing. A few days later, I had my first book launch. Hooray! Excitement all around!

How did the book launch go? Not as good as I had hoped. I rushed that book launch, with hardly any time to prepare for the release.

With Blade of the Destroyer, I learned that I need to think ahead and be prepared. Back in November 2014, when I finished the book and had it professionally edited, I could have launched right away. But because of what I learned from the earlier book launch, I set a much later goal: March 2015.

In that 4 month interim, I:

  • Reached out to people for reviews
  • Contacted sites for guest posts
  • Tried to expand my network and make new friends

By January 2015, I had roughly 200 people willing to help me launch my book in some way.

Fast forward to July 2015. The book got picked up by a publisher, thus delaying the launch. But when I got that final proof/ARC to send out, I was ready to roll! I had that long list of people willing to help, a tentative plan for the book launch, and pretty much everything I needed to do a “big” launch.

How is my launch looking?

  • I have about 60 author interviews/guest posts/book reviews being posted as part of a blog tout running between August 18th and September 25th. I’ve currently written about 35 of them.
  • I have roughly 100 to 150 people reading the book and preparing to post (hopefully awesome) reviews before, on, or around the launch date of August 21st.
  • I have a countdown going on social media letting people know how many days are left until the book is released (we’re currently at 18).
  • I have a list of fellow authors (20 to 30) who will either offer a book as a giveaway, or who will participate in my book launch.

Will this make my launch a success? I guess we’re going to find out in a few weeks. But I believe that because I didn’t rush into things but I took the time to think ahead and prepare, I’ll have a much higher chance for success than I had during my first book launch. I may not become a best-seller overnight, but I will definitely reach a wider audience, establish myself more firmly as an author, and continue to build that platform that will one day help me achieve the level of “success” I’m shooting for.

Let this be a lesson to everyone: Don’t do things IMMEDIATELY, but take time to think ahead and plan. It may not guarantee success, but it will help you be ready just in case success finds you!

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