Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Bitter President

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False Flag cover

The power grid is still down with no signs of near term recovery. Martial Law enforcement is heavy handed against those not loyal to the President. Civil unrest, murders over resources, people dying of starvation and lack of water, and minimal health care are the norm.

Bobby Akart delivers again with the fourth book of The Boston Brahmin series, False Flag. He puts together an intriguing mix of survival and strange bedfellows. This novel picks up immediately where book three ended. I appreciate Akart providing a brief summary of the story from the first three books. That, and the list of characters helped refresh my memory and allowed me to dive right into this one.

We get an in-depth look at the inner workings of the Citizen Corps Region I Governor’s office, and how it conflicts with The Boston Brahmin. The President throws out a false flag with regard to the responsibility for the grid collapse when he speaks to the nation and the world. The Loyal Nine find more pieces to the puzzle and start connecting them together.

Akart does a great job of bringing history in without it being overwhelming. The characters are interesting and add flavor with their diverse personalities. The end caught me completely off guard which does not happen often. The only weakness I found in this book was a smattering of passive voice and adverbs which detracted from the action in the story.

I recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Too Depressing

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E Cover1

I almost didn’t write a review as this book is one of the worst written that I’ve ever read. It is depressing and the protagonist spends most of her time crying or in a state of despair. It is boring. How many times can Eden go against Matt and he still forgive her? Wash, rinse, and repeat. It is a slow read and I thought I’d never finish it. There are so many unanswered questions that I could write a book of them.

Wrath’s first book in the E series, E, is set in a crumbling dystopia. The story is from Eden’s point of view. The idea of waking up after having your former life erased from your memory and starting over has great potential. Unfortunately, this novel failed and it is regrettable.

The writing style was poor. The editing non-existent. Way too many adverbs and passive voice which added to the lack of action. If I could give it zero stars, I would. 1 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Author L. Bachman

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March 26, 2016

CTC – Welcome! Today I am pleased to present an interview with L. Bachman, author of Painted Mayham, Maxwell Demon, and Human Ouija.

Theyre not clowning around          Maxwell demon cover          Human Ouija Cover

So, let’s get to it! What do you think makes a good story?

LB – Depth. Whether it’s a character’s depth, emotional depth, or a world’s depth. One of the best and biggest responses so far that I’ve gotten from readers and reviewers is the depth in emotion within the stories I’ve written. I take this as a high compliment because that is after all how I can connect to a reader, through the emotions. For me, depth is what makes a good story. I like pulling a reader in, wrapping them in a blanket, and taking them on a journey.

CTC – What does your family think of your writing?

LB – Overall, they are supportive. I’m surprised by this to say the least. I’ve had them buy my books, give me their reviews of the things I do, and I appreciate that they don’t just ask for free things, but support in a way that helps support the indie community, a way that’s supportive of the creative arts.

CTC – Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

LB – I usually start with asking myself a question, like what if or I wonder, from there I give myself some time to think it out further. If I don’t understand something fully or get curious about a possibility I will do some research to flush out my knowledge and ideas better, this usually helps me understand what I’m doing better. I also try and approach as a reader, since I am one, and while I work I ask myself, ‘Does this make sense?’ If it doesn’t, I will push myself to understand more or work it out until it makes sense to at least me.

CTC – When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

LB – I was reading one of my favorite books and realized that I could probably do ‘it’ too. I didn’t know if I was very good, but I wanted to at least try.

CTC – How long does it take you to write a book?

LB – It really boils down to things happening that may cause delays. Every story/book is different. With Human Ouija, the recent short I released, I came up with the idea for it in 2015, but every time I attempted to write I would run into an invisible wall in my progress and would stop. I decided to put it on my infamous back burner for projects and in January 2016, it was like lightning struck me and I finished it within a week then flushed it out, got it edited. With The Blasphemer Series: Maxwell Demon, I wrote it in a month and before I could release it I became ill and its original spring release date was postponed. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I’d even get it out because of how things had begun to fall, but in August 2015, I got it released. I wrote it’s follow-up Harvest within a month and half, but it’s still in the marathon run that is indie publishing process, it’s being edited and I gave it a rough estimation of what I hope to get it released, August 2015. The short that will appear in Painted Mayhem in March 2016, I wrote it within a couple weeks, the one I have in And the World Will Burn anthology took a few weeks as well, but short stories work out faster if I let the story come to me instead of trying to force a story out.

So, for a clearer answer, it varies.

CTC – What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

LB – Busy. I work best under pressure, which may sound odd, but it works for me. Too much free time or leeway and I’ll become lazy on a project, unless lightening hits me. When I start writing, I will write for hours and hours with minimal breaks. Breaks can be anything from a few minutes to up to two hours before I’ll close a document out for the day. Often times, when I’m writing I cannot stop and work on another writing project. I’ll become too muddled or my writings will start crossing over language or phrasing-wise, and that is not good for what I’m doing so it’s best for me to focus on one thing at a time.

CTC – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

LB – I like reading, sometimes I get stressed out and play games, but mostly spend time with my family and friends to break all that up.

CTC – What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

LB – As an Indie, it was the entire business side of things that we have to deal with, but beyond that was not to be so hard on myself. I’ve never hidden how I’ve gotten close to finishing a project, within a chapter even, and just throw half of it away and start fresh. I’ve learned that this makes many cringe, but that is me, that is me being too hard on myself, but the end result is something I’m happy with and readers seem to like as well.

CTC – How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

LB – I’ve written several things, but published to date two, a short story and the first book of my series The Blasphemer Series. I don’t really have a favorite book/story I’ve written, but I do have favorite characters. I absolutely love GoodWitch Sophia, she is in Maxwell Demon and will re-appear in Harvest, the second book in the series. I’ve also fallen hard for my Dire Werewolf, who appears in Harvest, named Ghost. I also really like Billy, but I cannot say much about him because he’s part of a top-secret project I’m doing with Kindra Sowder of Burning Willow Press.

CTC – Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

LB – Write what you love and the readers will find you, I’ve heard a few authors say this, but it was my favorite author Anne Rice that said something similar that really struck me. I felt a weight lift off me hearing her wisdom, I knew then that if I loved something enough a reader would see it, appreciate it, and my quality of the work will shine through.

CTC – You can find L. Bachman’s books here:
http://smile.amazon.com/L.-Bachman/e/B00MMCPCZW/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

And, you can follow her here:

http://lbachman.wix.com/lbachman

https://www.facebook.com/writerbachman/?fref=ts

 

Lynn Bachman photo     Human Ouija is part of a branch out project of The Blasphemer Series. It’s a collection of stories giving voice to characters mentioned in The Blasphemer Series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be so smart

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Rite of Rejection Cover

Rebecca Collins is looking forward to Acceptance ceremony and celebration ball. This rite of passage for all sixteen year old citizens divides them into two categories. They will either marry and become productive members of society, or spend their lives in the Permanent Isolation Territory (PIT) for deviants and criminals.  When the Machine rejects Rebecca sending her forever into the PIT, she discovers that being smart or different threatens the Cardinal and his rule over the country.

Negovetich’s first book in the Acceptance series, Rite of Rejection, is a young adult dystopian tale. It contains a megalomaniac ruler wanting unquestioning subjects and the gratuitous love triangle as seen in many books of this type. Other than Rebecca, the characters are not well developed. Rebecca is not a strong protagonist and spends most of her time in the background being indecisive and needy. The book is written with an overabundance of passive voice and use of adverbs.

While it is not the worst book I have ever read, it needs a lot of work to become a better book. It is a fast read for most adults due to the seventh grade writing style. There is also a repetitive use of certain phrases, sometimes within a few paragraphs of one another. The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying. 2 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Once a Spy, Always a Spy

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The Colonels Mistake Cover

Former CIA station chief, Mark Sava, is living the good life with his girlfriend in Baku, Azerbaijan. Sava comes out of retirement when officials arrest his protégé for a crime she did not commit, and someone murders the entire CIA staff in Baku. Once he is knee deep in the mystery, it is hard to tell who are friends and who are enemies.

Maryland’s first book in A Mark Sava Spy Novel series, The Colonel’s Mistake, is an action-packed, spy thriller. Strong characters get caught up in a deadly intelligence game of global espionage. The story takes you from Paris to Dubai with other exotic stops between, all described in vivid details.

The story gets you hooked from the beginning and does not let go. And, while it is the first in the series, it does not leave you hanging at the end. I look forward to other books. 4 out of 5 stars.

Secret Lives

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The Expats cover

Kate and Dexter Moore have the chance to start over and live the good life in Luxembourg as expats with Dexter’s job as a computer security specialist. Kate sees this as an opportunity to leave her job as a CIA operative behind. But, Kate and Dexter know nothing about the true nature of each other’s work. That is until Kate’s training causes her to question Dexter’s employment.

Pavone’s first novel, The Expats, is a New York Times bestseller, an Edgar Award winner, and an Anthony Award winner. It is easy to see why with the believable dialogue, plot twists, and genuine intrigue set forth within the story. This book is a fast read even with the complex story telling which mixes the past with the present.

The backdrop is beautifully described as the couple travels throughout Europe. The suspense along with the layers of deception keep the story interesting. The complicated characters are well developed. It is a good spy thriller. 5 out of 5 stars.

Long-Term Post Pandemic Survival

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The Jakarta Pandemic cover

Alex Fletcher and his family have been prepping for years. But, even they are not wholly prepared for the devastation that a new strain of influenza wreaks upon the world. This story focuses on the microcosm of a small neighborhood in Maine during the pandemic.

Konkoly’s first book in The Perseid Collapse Series, The Jakarta Pandemic, delivers a heart-wrenching tale of survival. It draws you in with real world situations and keeps you there with a solid plot and believable characters. You feel the struggles of the Fletchers and their friends as they try to stay alive and defend their neighborhood. Konkoly writes in such a way that you either love, hate or tolerate the characters.

This study in human interaction in the face of a long-term crisis is eye opening. It is not a prepper’s manual or a zombie book (thank goodness!). He addresses how quick drastic events change people. If nothing else, it should make you think about how you would deal with a most probable scenario. 5 out of 5 stars.

The new Tom Clancy

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Black Flag Cover

Wow! I thought all was lost when Mr. Clancy passed and there would be no more Ryanverse books. But, Mr. Konkoly’s writing is as good if not better.

This book grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The protagonist, David Petrovich, is a psychopathic assassin, which makes it hard for the reader to like him. He is trying to retire from the covert, special forces team he’s been a member of and leave his past behind. But, Sanderson blackmails him into completing one final mission.

Konkoly’s first book in the The Black Flagged Series, Black Flagged Alpha, is a well written black ops novel. There are many bad guys and no good guy. This fast paced, action thriller is filled with twists and the characters are believable. There is plenty of espionage and government agency overlap. And, as with many trilogies written today, there is a cliff hanger ending.

Even with all the characters, many with foreign names, and the technical detail, I highly recommend this book. 5 out of 5 stars.

Author Vincent Robert Annunziato

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March 19, 2016

CTC – Welcome! Today I am pleased to present an interview with Vincent Robert Annunziato, author of 33 Degrees and Status The Game.

33 Decgrees Cover          Status The Game cover

Thank you so much, Vincent, for taking time to answer some questions for my readers today. So, let’s get started.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

VRA – Definitely after I graduated college. The closest before that was in high school when I published a poem in the school magazine. To be honest it was kind of dark. I studied communications in college with a concentration on television sciences. I really fell in love with the dramatic arts at that time and wanted mainly to direct TV and film. When I stepped out of school (Hofstra U.) I moved to Los Angeles from New York to go for the big time. It was there that I cultivated a love for screenwriting with the impetus of wanting to be a Director. It has been a dream of mine to write a book since I was around 25.

CTC – How long does it take you to write a book?

VRA – On average about 7 months, but lately due to my normal profession it has been taking a little longer.

CTC – What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

VRA – My normal workday is 0630 to 5pm and I have a commute surrounding that. I find time at least two times a week and whatever I have left I dedicate to weekends.

CTC – What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

VRA – I talk to my characters. Especially if I am stumped, frustrated or surprised. When I wrote my first book, “Status The Game” I walked out of my office shaking my head and mumbling. Of course my wife sees this and asks if everything is okay. I respond, “Dammit! El just made a decision I didn’t expect.” She of course thought I lost my mind. I had spent 4 weeks building to this one scene and the character totally did the opposite of what I expected. Of course it made for good reading. Figure if I am surprised, then the audience is too.

CTC – Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

VRA – I don’t know actually. Sometimes they just come to me spontaneously. I keep a list of my ideas and usually put in about 1500 words when I begin. I will keep it there until I decide on a story. I won’t stop until I finish.

CTC – When did you write your first book and how old were you?

VRA – Ugh! I was 48 when I published it and 47 when I started writing.

CTC – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

VRA – I love Bassett Hounds (we have one called Annabelle), spending time with my family, fishing, boating and if I really have time… building terrariums.

CTC – What does your family think of your writing?

VRA – They love my stories. Even my wife who does not like the genre I normally write in has been very impressed. My youngest son is the one who is most intrigued. He’s eleven and is enamored with the writing. I write for my kids mainly.

CTC – What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

VRA – The fact that I enjoyed writing so much and how much I had matured since I wrote in my twenties. I gave up writing to start a family even though I wanted very much to make it in the film industry.

CTC – How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

VRA – I have written two books and am close to finishing my third. I don’t have a favorite. I love “Status” because it is a very unique concept and I played with things you don’t normally see in books today. I love “33” because of the pace and it is written in first person. I love that you can get so intimate with a character. There are also concepts in there that have not been done before.

CTC – Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

VRA – I believe in developing the craft. Focus on the basics. Good solid characterization that includes arcs and recognizable dialogue. Too many writers don’t take the time to distinguish the voice of a character and it falls flat.

Make sure your plots and subplots are well mapped out. Your pacing will develop once you have the story nicely tied together. I highly recommend white boarding so you can see the whole picture.

And don’t be afraid to take risks. Find something that sets you apart. This one aspect will help you find the art form in writing. One of the problems we have in publishing is that the market is over saturated. The only thing that can possibly separate you from the pack is a well-crafted story with some artistic intent.

CTC – Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

VRA – I am very new and am still learning the marketing aspects of this business. I would say that I do hear occasionally on Facebook from people who have read my stuff. I love it when somebody decides to reach out. A lot of times I am asked for advice on writing.

CTC – Do you like to create books for adults?

VRA – I will write just about anything and chose the YA books because of my kids. I have some standalone ideas that I want to write for adults in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre.

CTC – What do you think makes a good story?

VRA – Good stories are well crafted stories that have all of the basics accounted for. Stories that are visual, contain some form of conflict really appeal to me. Conflict doesn’t have to be overt, it can be subtle. Lastly, I like depth. Many layers of it. I want my subconscious to be fed as well as my conscious and I like to feel the emotion of my characters.

CTC – As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 

VRA – President, cowboy, policeman, fireman, doctor, veterinarian. Should I keep going? 🙂

CTC – Is there anything else that you would like for the audience to know?

VRA – I am just very thankful to have been able to be published at this point in my life. It has been a dream of mine for over 25 years. I think my books have a very visual appeal, especially since I spent so much time trying to make it as a screenwriter early in my life. I have tried to develop a hard-hitting style that will make you feel like you are there with the characters. Kind of like you are watching a movie.

Thank you so much! And hope to catch you all reading my books. LOL

CTC – You can find Vincent’s book here:

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VXACR1Q?keywords=33%20degrees&qid=1458410860&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

http://smile.amazon.com/Status-Game-Vincent-Robert-Annunziato-ebook/dp/B00IP2BK18/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And, you can follow him here:

http://smile.amazon.com/Vincent-Robert-Annunziato/e/B00IX4RWI8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

https://www.facebook.com/VincentRAnnunziato

http://www.statusthegame.com/

https://twitter.com/VRAnnunziato

vincentannuziato@statusthegame.com

http://vincent-robert-annunziato.com/

Vincent Annunziato photo     Bob Brooks is down on his luck. He ekes out a living as a substitute teacher and grabs odd jobs to make ends meet. Life goes from bad to worse until Bob reads about a new internet game called Status.