Thursday, December 30, 2010

The End of 2010

We find ourselves at the end of yet another year. Or on the threshold of a new year. I guess the way you view it depends on whether you’re a glass half full or a glass half empty person. It seems the older I get the more I find myself saying, “Where did that year go?” This year is no exception; seems like it just got started and now it’s over.

2010 was a pretty good year for me. Definitely much better than 2009. From the standpoint of my book obsession it was a stellar year. My book collection grew by leaps and bounds. I met one of my favorite authors, Brian Keene. I was able to get to know another of my favorite authors, Scott Nicholson. I found something I seem to be pretty good at and enjoy doing. I read 80 books, by far the most in a year for me. I was able to get this blog moving some and review a number of books I enjoyed. I met a number of new and interesting people and discovered some talented authors. I purchased a Kindle and moved to reading mostly e-books.

All in all, it was a great year for me in regards to my love for books. And the great part is that 2011 seems even more promising. I’ll be doing book reviews for The Bag and The Crow. I’ll be expanding my proofing service. I hope to read many more books this new year and to grow this blog. I’m not going to make a bunch of resolutions because I tend to set lofty goals and I’m tough on myself; but I do have some cautiously-optimistic goals for this upcoming year.

Below you’ll find some of my opinions of books I read this past year. Feel free to disagree; you know what they say about opinions. :) I look forward to getting to know more of you in this upcoming year and can’t wait to share my reading experience with you.

Top 5 Books Released in 2010
     1. Disintegration by Scott Nicholson
     2. Dweller by Jeff Strand
     3. Nightjack by Tom Piccirilli
     4. Brain Cheese Buffet by Edward Lee
     5. A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene


Top 10 Books I Read in 2010
     1. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
     2. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
     3. Terminal by Brian Keene
     4. The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay
     5. First Blood by David Morrell
     6. The Dead Letters by Tom Piccirilli
     7. Disintegration by Scott Nicholson
     8. The Jigsaw Man by Gord Rollo
     9. Identity Crisis by Debbi Mack
     10. Kill Whitey by Brian Keene


Favorite Authors I “Discovered” in 2010
     Gord Rollo, Paul Tremblay, Debbi Mack, Bentley Little, Jeff Strand, Tom Piccirilli


Author I Most Look Forward to Reading in 2011
     William Meikle

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

LEAST WANTED by Debbi Mack


Least Wanted by Debbi Mack is the follow-up to her debut novel, Identity Crisis. In Identity Crisis, we were introduced to lawyer Sam McRae. Spunky and sharp, McRae is a character who is “real”; she makes decisions that a real person would when placed in situations in which the answers are not always black and white. In this follow-up, McRae is back at it and we are given the opportunity to learn more about this refreshing, original character.

In Least Wanted, Sam McRae is approached by a single mother seeking representation for her daughter, Tina, who was involved in a purse snatching that turned into an assault on an elderly woman. Tina is a good girl who hasn’t been in much trouble before. At the same time, McRae is working on the case of a man accused of embezzlement. Both cases seem fairly straightforward, but soon things take a turn for the worse and McRae finds herself in the middle of embezzlement, cover-up, sex tapes and murder. Is she in over her head this time? She has previously tangled with the Mob, but these two cases push her to her limit, as she once again faces dire circumstances.

I really enjoyed reading Least Wanted. The writing is solid throughout and the story is interesting. While Identity Crisis is my favorite of the two McRae books so far, Least Wanted is a very good book that gives us a deeper look at who McRae is and some insight into her past. As with her first book, author Debbi Mack explores pertinent—and difficult—issues. I applaud her for that and hope she continues to do so in her future fiction. As I stated in my review of Identity Crisis, if you’re a fan of J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series, this one is for you.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From me and my family to yours, merry Christmas! We hope you have a happy and safe holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WHAT THEY HEAR IN THE DARK by Gary McMahon



I’d never read anything written by Gary McMahon; in fact, I hadn’t heard of him before I saw this chapbook. However, the cover blurb by Tim Lebbon immediately grabbed my attention since I’m familiar with his work. I can’t really say that I had much in the way of expectations going into this one, but I did hope for a decent read.

Rob and Becky are renovating an old house. Not a home, but a house. Though they live under the same roof, Rob and Becky are worlds apart. Since the loss of their son they seem to have gone their separate ways. During the renovations, they discover a hidden room—the Quiet Room. The room is aptly named, as there is no sound in the room—none at all. But there are other things in there. Things that may bring Rob and Becky back together...or to the brink of madness.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing this diminutive book. Weighing in at only 22 pages, it makes for a quick read. It was a good read—not necessarily a fun one—because the author does a tremendous job at capturing the overwhelming sense of loss and despair of Rob and Becky. I recommend What They Hear in the Dark if you want to be introduced to McMahon’s polished, atmospheric writing. Just be careful if you’re reading it on a dreary day, because that’s exactly the mood in this one.

This is the debut chapbook from Spectral Press, whose mission is to “be devoted to presenting single-story chapbooks, in the ghostly/supernatural vein, in a high-quality but very classic format. Each will be in strictly limited quantities of 100 only, signed and numbered by the author.” Based on this initial release, it looks like there are good things to come from them.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Those I Missed

While reviewing my reads from this past year to make my various end-of-the-year lists, I realized there are a number of authors I've been meaning to read but for some reason I haven't taken the chance to yet. Here are some off the top of my head:

1. Simon Wood
2. Joe R. Lansdale
3. David Niall Wilson
4. Dan Simmons
5. Clive Barker
6. Lee Child
7. Guy N. Smith
8. J.F. Gonzalez
9. Jon F. Merz
10. Vicki Tyley
11. Christa Polkinhorn
12. Steve Alten

And I'm sure there are many, many more that I've forgotten. I'm encouraged about my reading during this upcoming year as there a number of very talented authors I'll get to read for the first time. And there's nothing like reading an author for the first time and "discovering" a new favorite.

Who are some authors that you plan to read for the first time in the new year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

MOSTLY HUMAN by Lockley, Meikle, Nicholson, and Savile


I’ve previously stated that I’m a little wary of collaborations because you never know how writers’ styles will mesh. And I was referring to collaborations between two authors. Throw two more authors into the mix and my wariness level exponentially increases. Such was the case with Mostly Human by Steve Lockley, William Meikle, Scott Nicholson, and Steven Savile. I was intrigued by the premise of the story but was also wary about the number of authors, especially since I hadn’t read anything written by three of them (Lockley, Meikle, and Savile). However, I was curious how a collaboration between four authors in four different countries would work out.

To what extremes will loss drive a person? For Jack Spicer, the answer is not pretty. The small-town detective finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. After losing the love of his life to a brutal killer ten years earlier, Spicer has been in a downward spiral. Depending on alcohol to get through each day, Spicer has become a mere shadow of who he once was and the laughingstock of his department. When a body that has been savagely murdered turns up, Spicer is more than reminded of what happened to his love years before. He must summon the man he once was to track down the killer before more blood spills. What he finds is no normal human—just mostly human.

Mostly Human was an enjoyable, fun read. The writing flowed seamlessly throughout the entire book and it made for fast reading. I really enjoyed the story itself and the writers did a great job describing the gloom, both inside Spicer and that which physically surrounded him. I would gladly read similar collaborations in the future. There are some typos throughout the Kindle edition, but nothing that is a major distraction from the story. It’s definitely a good buy, priced at only $0.99 right now.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's in a Name?

What’s in a name? Quite a bit, I believe. Usually, a name is the first thing you learn about a person. Legends and belief systems believe that if you’re able to name something, you have power over that thing.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I recently changed my user name to @bookhound78. One of my reasons for the change is that I felt my previous user name, @Dark_Intruder, was too constraining. I actually adopted it from a Rob Zombie song, and it was geared more towards my love for the horror genre. But as my reading increases I’m branching out into many other genres. Plus, it sounded like I was some stalker who was going to come into your house in the middle of the night.

I also believe my goals for this blog are tied in with my user name, since you are known in the cyber world by your user name. Obviously, I love to read. But I don’t want to just be a book review site. Yes, I enjoy doing them and sharing what I’ve read with others, and I’ll continue to write reviews. I also have an unnatural love for all things horror, but I don’t want to be “locked” into one genre. And finally, I want to focus on offering proofing services in the upcoming year, so a name that’s a little more all-encompassing would be helpful.

So after much thought I’ve decided to use bookhound78. I feel it captures my love for books while not pigeonholing me into one genre or one “type” of blog. I apologize for any confusion and I promise I won’t be changing again any time in the foreseeable future. Be on the lookout for a possible change in the address and title of this blog as I “realign” to better fit my goals.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

GRAVEROBBERS WANTED (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY) by Jeff Strand


Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand was another book high on my “Wanted” list that I finally got around to picking up cheap for Kindle (I believe for only $2.39). And like a few other books I’ve read recently, I had heard a lot of good things about it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book, but based on the title and what little I knew about Jeff Strand’s writing style I figured it would be a fun read.

In this first book of the Mayhem series, we are introduced to Andrew Mayhem—devoted husband, loving father, wannabe private eye, and all-around magnet for trouble. If there was ever a poster boy for the slogan “Sh*t Happens,” Andrew is it. In this story, we find Andrew short on money, without a steady job, and owing money for a recent car accident. Enter the beautiful woman with an offer for Andrew and his friend, Roger, they simply cannot refuse. How much trouble can they really get into by digging up a fresh grave? Turns out A LOT. What follows is a wild ride in which the stakes steadily rise.

Strand’s prose is snappy and reads quickly, and his dialogue flows naturally. I don’t normally care much for my comedy and action/horror mixed, but Strand expertly blends them to create a hilarious thrill ride that will keep you turning the pages. Strand’s writing is unique and not quite like anyone else’s I’ve read. The Kindle edition is nicely formatted and there are a very few minor errors/typos. Be forewarned: if you read this book you will want to get the others in the series (Single White Psychopath Seeks Same and Casket For Sale (Only Used Once)).

This was one of the most fun reads I’ve had this past year and I’ll be jumping on the other two books in the series soon. I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy action/horror books. And while there is plenty that is funny in this book, it’s not for the faint-hearted, as the book does get darker throughout and deals with subjects that may be too disturbing for some readers.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the Winners Are...

Thank you to everyone who participated in my "A Very Scary Christmas" giveaway. Welcome to my new blog followers; I hope you enjoy my posts. I appreciate all the comments here and all of the re-tweets on Twitter. Y'all rock. And without further ado, here are the winners:

Second-place winner of The Regulators by Stephen King:

sharon54220



Winner of the first-place prize pack of five books:

SavageMouse


Sorry I don't have pictures from the drawing; for some reason I can't get them from my phone to my computer. My son drew the name of the first-place winner and my daughter drew the name for second place. Winners, please contact me at darkintruder(at)live(dot)com with your mailing address. You have three days to claim your prize.

Again, thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway. Look for new giveaways after the first of the year. Hope you have a very scary Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kindle Gift Ideas

Do you know someone who owns a Kindle and want to get them some gift books? Have you received a Kindle or think you might get one from Santa? Well, here are a few book ideas for yourself or that special someone. Just click on the image to go to the purchase page; click on the title to go to my review of the book.

The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri. Priced at an affordable $4.99 for the holiday season, this one is a must-read for anyone wanting a story full of action and suspense told at break-neck speed. After the holidays, the price is set to return to $9.99 (at least that was the insinuation when the special price was announced for the holidays).


Identity Crisis by Debbi Mack. This is Mack’s debut novel and she demonstrates her talent in it. It would make a good gift for those interested in crime and hardboiled stories. Priced at a low $0.99, this one is a steal. The sequel, Least Wanted, is slated for release in January.


Nightjack by Tom Piccirilli. For those who love crime and dark fantasy, this story would be a great gift. Reminiscent of Piccirilli’s A Choir of Ill Children, this story lacks none of his trademark raw, emotional style of writing. This original-to-digital book is a must-read for any Piccirilli fan.


Disintegration by Scott Nicholson. Written during a low point of Nicholson’s life, this book is an emotion-packed ride into the depths and depravity of humanity. Showcasing Nicholson’s versatility as a writer, this one will keep you turning the pages. Snag it while it’s still priced at a super-low $0.99.


Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand. I don’t normally care for my comedy and action/horror mixed, but Strand expertly blends them to create a hilarious thrill ride that will keep you turning the pages. Strand’s writing is unique and not quite like anyone else’s I’ve read. Priced at an affordable $2.39, this one is well worth it, especially if you’ve never experienced Strand’s writing.


Dead Earth: The Green Dawn by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks. Normally, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to collaborations. I worry that styles will clash or the story will be disjointed. But there was no such thing in The Green Dawn. The writing flows wonderfully and the story moves at breakneck speed. This one is the first book in an ongoing series.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm not at home right now, but if you would...

If you get a chance, stop by and check out my guest post at Misty Baker's (Kindle Obsessed) blog today. It's my review of Jeff Strand's Graverobber's Wanted (No Experience Necessary). I'll post it over here in a few days, but in the mean time go check out her awesome site.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Very Scary Christmas

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? I know for me it’s some good, old-fashioned, spine-tingling horror. I mean, what can be more frightening than the holidays? Fighting the crowds to buy some over-priced gift for someone who may or may not like it. An overweight guy in a red suit that knows everything you’re doing, whether you’re being naughty or nice. For goodness’ sake, he knows when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake. I don’t know, but if you ask me, this guy sounds a bit like a Peeping Tom. And let’s not even get started about all the “fun” that is had traveling during the holidays.

So in celebration of all the horror that occurs during this season, I’ve decided to have “A Very Scary Christmas” giveaway here at my blog. I’m not the most creative person when it comes to these contests and giveaways—plus I’m pretty busy during this time of year—so I’m going to make entering this contest a breeze. There are three possible ways for you to enter:

1. Leave a comment on my blog. You can comment on any post here, new or old. It doesn’t have to be anything insightful or profound, just leave a comment. You receive one entry for leaving a comment; feel free to comment as much as you want, but you only get one entry even if you leave 50 comments.

2. Become a follower of my blog. If you click on the little “Follow” button to the right and become a follower of my blog, you receive an entry for the contest. All current followers are automatically entered.

3. Re-tweet one of my tweets on Twitter about this contest. Again, feel free to re-tweet me 50 times, but you only get one entry for the giveaway.

You may get up to three entries for the drawing if you do each of the above things. The contest will be open for one week and will end on Tuesday, December 14th at 12:00 p.m. EST. At that time, all entries will be tallied and a drawing will be held, with my kids drawing names of the winners.

So, you may be asking, what are we drawing for? There will be a first and second place price, which I think you’ll like:

First place: Winner will receive five—yes, five—physical books. And these aren’t just any books; these are books by some of the most talented horror writers out there today: Vampyrrhic by Simon Clark, A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene, Snow by Ronald Malfi, The Killing Kind by Bryan Smith, and Joyride by Jack Ketchum.


Second place: The second-place winner will receive a physical copy of The Regulators by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman).

All books are brand new and have not been read. Due to shipping costs, this contest is limited to U.S. addresses only. ***Winners will be announced here and via Twitter. You will have three days to claim your prize before another winner is selected.***

Good luck and have a horrible…er…I mean, wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

IDENTITY CRISIS by Debbi Mack


I love it when I discover a new author by happenstance. Debbi Mack is one of these happy discoveries. I came across her name following Scott Nicholson’s blog tour. I read a little about her and her books and decided to check out her first novel, Identity Crisis, on my Kindle.

Sam McRae is a Maryland defense lawyer. When unexpected visitors from the FBI and local police department pay her a visit in regards to one of her clients, the groundwork is laid for a thrilling story of action, intrigue, suspense, and mystery. Turns out McRae’s client is MIA—and finding her will be an adventure in and of itself. Finding the truth is much more difficult than McRae expected and as she uncovers the facts, the truth seems less and less clear. Is her client guilty? Has she been set up?

Identity Crisis is a refreshing and enjoyable read, with the spotlight on a relevant topic in this age when information is so easily accessible. Mack’s writing is crisp and she keeps the story flowing well. I never felt bogged down or like I just needed to get through any part of this book. She mixes in just the right amount of action and intrigue to keep the reader interested and guessing. It was also great to have a lead character who is a “real” human—one with flaws, who sometimes does questionable things to discover the truth she is seeking. And while this story’s main character is a lawyer, the reader will not be overwhelmed with legalese.

I gladly recommend this book to folks who enjoy mystery/action types of books. If you like J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series, this is a perfect book for you. The sequel, Least Wanted, is due out in January.

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Tis the Season


I can't believe it's actually December now. I'm still trying to figure out where November went. Well, to get into the mood of the Christmas season, I'm going to give away more free stuff. I'm lucky enough to have 10 copies of Scott Nicholson's e-book, The Red Church, for the Kindle to give away this week. I'm going to keep it simple and all you have to do is leave a comment below with your e-mail address. That's it. Don't have to say anything else. For the first ten who leave their contact information, I'll gift you a copy of Scott's most well-known book on Friday, December 3rd, between 1 and 2 P.M.

You don't have to own a Kindle to be able to read the book; you can get the Kindle app for your computer or for a multitude of devices. Click here to get one of the free Kindle apps.

If you want to enter for a chance to win a physical copy of two of Scott's books, The Red Church (autographed) and Thank You for the Flowers, leave a comment to this post.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Sad Day

I’m a bit sad. One of my daily routines ends today: my daily dose of getting to know the full Scotty. As many of you know, today marks the end of Scott Nicholson’s 90-day Blog Tour. This tour has become as much a part of my daily routine as having my morning coffee. So I’m a little sad to see it come to an end. But, alas, there is that saying, “All good things must come to an end.”

Was Scott’s blog tour a success? I think so. At least it was for me. I got the chance to visit and connect with many blogs and bloggers that I probably never would have otherwise. I was able to find out all kinds of cool and interesting things about one of my favorite authors. And probably the thing I am most excited about, I was introduced to a number of talented indie writers and some awesome books. My TBR pile grew by leaps and bounds.

My most memorable moment from the tour happened pretty early on, when I found out that Scott actually gave away some of his teeth as a promotional stunt for one of his books. I remember thinking, My god, what kind of person does that! That’s probably one of the wildest things I’ve heard someone do to try and attract (repel?) readers.

So in honor of Scott’s successful completion of 90 days of blogging craziness, I’m going to give away two of Scott’s real (paper :P) books, The Red Church (autographed) and Thank You for the Flowers, to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post stating your favorite Scott moment from the tour. If you didn’t follow the tour, feel free to enter anyway. Just leave some sort of comment, like your favorite food, favorite color, sleeping habits, etc. I’d love for you to have the chance to experience Scott’s work. You have until 11:59 P.M. Friday, December 3rd to enter. At that time, I’ll randomly pick a winner. I'll announce the winner on my blog, but make sure you leave some way for me to contact you. Unfortunately for my international visitors, I can only ship books to U.S. locations. But please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, November 29, 2010

THE PACK: WINTER KILL by Mike Oliveri



I’d wanted to get a copy of Mike Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill since last year. At first, it was released in paperback and for one reason or another I didn’t get around to purchasing it. Then it came out for the Kindle, but it was priced at $9.99 and I decided to hold off on getting it. However, when Evileye Books marked it down to $4.99 for the holiday season, I snatched a copy for my Kindle. I had high expectations for this book based on the buzz I had read about it, and I was not disappointed.

Set in the remote wilderness of Minnesota, The Pack: Winter Kill starts out with a weapons deal gone wrong. After things go south, Rod and his crew are stuck in the middle of nowhere and are forced to blend in with the locals. They stumble upon a lodge caught up with Bigfoot fever and decide to stay until they can get things back in order. However, when the FBI arrives, things get tenuous. Determined to finish the deal, Rod pushes forward despite the heat from the authorities—and other things.

The Pack: Winter Kill grabbed me from the beginning and I literally could not put this one down. Oliveri’s writing is tight and fast-paced, hurling the reader along to the climatic ending. He masterfully blends crime and suspense with the supernatural. This is the first book in an on-going series, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next one. There are a few typos throughout the Kindle edition, but they are minor and don’t distract from the story.

Priced at an affordable $4.99 for the holiday season, this one is a must-read for anyone wanting a story full of action and suspense told at break-neck speed.

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just want to wish everyone a happy Turkey Day. Remember to cherish the moments you have with the ones you love.

Please stop by here over the next week or two, as I have some new posts coming and maybe a giveaway or two planned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

FUNGUS OF THE HEART by Jeremy C. Shipp



A number of months ago Jeremy C. Shipp requested reviewers for his new short story collection, Fungus of the Heart. I had looked at a number of Shipp’s books before but had not had the opportunity to read one. So naturally I jumped at the chance to read this collection.

Fungus of the Heart is an intriguing collection of stories. It’s hard to classify the collection with one category. It has elements of fantasy, the bizarre, horror, crime, and drama. Some of the stories reminded me of fairy tales. There is a wide array of characters throughout: zombie bears, gnomes, clowns, boys in boxes, vampires, and ghosts, to name a few. It’s clear that some of the stories speak to current issues, such as the “moral machine” that exists.

From a personal standpoint, I was disappointed with this collection. It didn’t have much to do with Shipp’s writing ability; it is clear that Shipp is a very talented writer and has a knack for using words sparingly to efficiently tell stories. I was disappointed more with the content. The biggest issue was I simply didn’t care much for the types of stories in the collection. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy and fairy tales. And while I do enjoy some bizzaro writing, the bizarre in this collection is of a different breed than what I like. Also, at times when I was reading a story I would have a feeling of déjà vu, like I had already read it earlier in the collection. The only story that really stuck with me was the first one in the collection, “The Sun Never Rises in the Big City.”

I’m having a hard time separating my personal preferences from the quality of the work itself with this one. Clearly, Shipp is a talented writer. And I’m pretty sure I’ll read more of his work in the future. So if you’re interested in the fantastic and strange, I would recommend you check this one out. If you’re not, you may want to pass on it.

3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bear With Me

Hello, everyone! Just wanted to stop by and let you know that I haven't forgotten about my blog here. I've got a few topics I want to cover and some reviews to post over the next couple of weeks, but first I need to focus on a proofing project that is grossly overdue. And unfortunately, my work hours have increased, along with the number of family functions (mainly birthdays). I assume I'll probably be pretty erratic here throughout the holidays with increased work and travel. But please bear with me. :)

Thanks!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DEAD EARTH: THE GREEN DAWN by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks


Zombies. I’m not going to lie; I have a soft spot in my heart for these munchers of the flesh. Ever since I read Joe McKinney’s Dead City a year and a half ago, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with the walking dead. However, in recent months, I haven’t read any books about zombies. In reality, recently I’ve read very little that is pure horror, which is my first love. So when I picked up Dead Earth: The Green Dawn by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks, I was a little bit excited because it sounded like something that would be right up my alley. And boy, I was not disappointed in the least.


When I started reading The Green Dawn, it felt like I was slipping into familiar surroundings where I knew I’d be at home. The story focuses on one individual, Deputy Jubal Slate. He’s responsible, alone, for the safety of the small town of Serenity, New Mexico, after many folks have taken ill with a strange virus. Those affected include his mother, the sheriff, and his fellow deputies. But Jubal is not overly concerned, as Serenity is normally a quiet little town that can pretty much take care of itself. However, as the day moves along, Jubal becomes more and more concerned because rumors of tragedy in Nevada begin to spread.


When a mysterious car blazes into town and drops off an extremely ill stranger, things move from the realm of uncertainty to the realm of dire circumstances. To put it kindly, all hell breaks loose in the town of Serenity. And Jubal Slate, the lone remaining vestige of law and order, has to fight for the survival of the town and those he loves.


Normally, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to collaborations. I worry that styles will clash or the story will be disjointed. But there was no such thing in The Green Dawn. The writing flows wonderfully and the story moves at breakneck speed. There is a nice little twist as to the cause of the chaos, and the book leaves you wanting more.


I honestly haven't had this much fun reading a book in a good while. If you want a fast, exciting read then The Green Dawn is for you. This book is the first in a larger series, so don’t expect to get all the answers at the end of it. And beware if you’re squeamish; there is violence, blood, and guts in this book.


5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

HUDSON HOUSE by J.T. Warren


Hudson House by J.T. Warren has the distinction of being the first book I bought when my new Kindle arrived. Based on other reviews, I looked forward to reading this book, hoping for a creepy, interesting story. I was pleased to find that I wasn’t disappointed.

Three young friends enter a forbidden—some would say forsaken—house that has long stood watching over an otherwise quiet neighborhood. This seemingly benign act sets into motion events that will affect the rest of these boys’ lives. Death and tragedy follow and one of the young men, Eric, struggles to find answers and to ultimately put a stop to Hudson House’s reign of terror in his life. However, the deeper Eric digs for the answers he seeks, the more he discovers about his own past. And he doesn’t like what he finds. Can he find the determination and strength to stand up to Hudson House and whatever dwells inside its walls?

Warren is a talented writer and can weave an interesting story. There are some creepy situations throughout this book, and one in particular will probably stick with me for a long time (I won’t give it away, but let’s just say I won’t be carrying around a plastic baggie in my pocket). The story flowed fairly well, with a bit of a lull in the middle of the book. But the last 25% of the book made up for it, as I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. I’ll definitely read other works by Warren as I come across them.

4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to everyone out there! Hope you have a great day/night and that you stay safe. And please remember, don't feed the zombies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October Blues

October has always been my favorite month. I can remember as a child waiting for the calendar to flip from September to October. That signaled when it was okay for me to start decorating my front yard with graves, ghouls, and headless bodies. Yeah, I’ve always had a fascination with the macabre and dark things. As I grew older and reached high school and college age, my “traditions” changed from decorating the yard to having multiple horror-movie marathons throughout the month of October. But, still, it was like some switch went on inside me when the calendar flipped from September to October.

But in the last few years, that excitement I’ve had for the month of October has waned. Sure, I still enjoy the weather (for the most part) and the changing of the leaves, but I don’t seem to have any “traditions” that I hold on to anymore. And it feels as if I’ve missed the entire month of October this year. This bums me out.

I have two young children and I really want to instill in them the excitement I once had for this month. I’m not talking about a love for gory zombies and rotting arms sticking out of the ground—although, I’d happily take that. I’m talking about enjoying a time of year when it’s okay, and even encouraged, to allow your imagination to run wild. A time of year when we can find beauty in death and decay.

I’m going to make sure that next year we slow down just a little bit so when can enjoy this enchanting season. Sure, maybe the kids will decide they want to decorate the yard with unicorns and fairies. But that’s okay. As long as they’re excited and their imagination is flying free, I’m fine with it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For Sale, For Sale, e-Reader For Sale

I've come to the conclusion that I don't need two e-readers. I know, I know, I had said that I was not going to do copyediting on my Kindle, but it's turned out to be much easier than I expected and it's become too much effort to bounce back and forth between e-readers. So after some consideration, I'm putting my Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-600) on the market. This reader is less than three months old and is in practically new condition. No damage at all to the unit. Included with the e-reader: leather cover, USB cable, A/C adapter, and padded slip-cover. Also included, original boxes and documentation for the e-reader and cover.

Asking price is $80 (includes shipping in the continental U.S.). Preferred payment method is PayPal. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or with your best offer.


***UPDATE***
Thank you to everyone for their interest. My Sony Reader is now sold and on its way to a new home!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DISINTEGRATION by Scott Nicholson


Scott Nicholson has a reputation of being a horror author. But if you've read Scott's recent works, you will know that he is more than just a horror author. I honestly believe Scott's thrillers are just as good, if not better, than his horror titles. And his latest release, Disintegration, simply solidifies my opinion, as I believe this is one of his best books yet.

Jacob is no stranger to pain and loss. It has happened in his past, and tragedy is about to strike again. Nicholson explores the depths to which one may fall when nearly everything is taken from him/her. Throw in a shady family history and the pressure to succeed and live up to a father's high standards, and you have a recipe for personal disaster.

This book is an emotional roller coaster and explores the downfall of a man who once seemed to have everything. Nicholson holds nothing back and it's obvious he poured himself into this work. Reminiscent of Tom Piccirilli's emotional style of writing, this book demonstrates that Nicholson is one of the most versatile authors out there. Lacking none of Nicholson's powerful prose, this is a must-read for any Nicholson fan, as well as anyone who wants an emotion-grabbing, powerful read.

The official launch date for this book is November 1st, but it is currently available for download at Amazon.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Advice I'm Not Qualified to Give

I love this new digital age. I get to read some awesome books I would have otherwise probably never had a chance to read. Discover new talented authors. Don’t have to worry if my local bookstore has a copy of a new book I want. Maybe even save a little money, at least in the long run.

I’m also excited for authors. Now, more get to find an audience for their work, without having to fight just to get shelf space at the big bookstores. They get to have more control over the direction of their work, rather than be at the mercy of a publishing company. Authors get to interact with their readers via social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. And they don’t have to embark on grueling publicity tours to drum up sales; instead, they can do crazy things like Scott Nicholson’s 90 Day Blog Tour.

However, I would offer one small caveat to self-publishing authors: make sure you take the time to put out a quality product. Don’t be in such a hurry to get your book out there in front of readers that you skip basic steps in the “publishing” process.

You may be thinking, who does this guy think he is? What gives him any right to say anything to me about the publishing process? And you’d be correct; I don’t have any special qualifications that allow me to dish out advice to others about the publishing process.

But I am a reader; a consumer, if you will. I pay money to buy a product, and I hope that some care and concern were put into the creation of that product. And I am not talking about the story itself, or even the writing style. I know that what may appeal to others may not appeal to me, or vice versa.

However, there is one thing that I think should be fairly standard across the board. Typos, spelling errors, and consistency are things that should be addressed before a book is published. There is nothing that turns me off from a book faster than to find a bunch of errors, especially in just the first few pages.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect every error and inconsistency to be fixed before a book is published. That’s unrealistic, and there probably wouldn’t be very many books that would see the light of day if that was expected. However, in this new indie period, while I applaud the empowerment of the author, there is one major thing that most publishers offered the author that’s not there now: copyediting.

There are some simple things authors can do to help address this issue: have Beta readers read your book before publishing, get a copy editor or two look over your work, or get honest relatives or friends to read your book. But the key is having other people review your work. I’ve had the honor to copyedit some books in recent months, and based on my experience, it’s extremely difficult to spot all the errors in your own work. When you read over your own work, you tend to read over some errors because you know what you are trying to say in your own head. Heck, I’ll probably be fixing typos and errors in this blog post all week.

But if you take that little bit of extra time to get feedback about your work, I’ll pretty much guarantee that it will help you sell more books, whether it’s digital or print books. This is an exciting time for authors and readers alike. It would do everyone well to not get caught up in the excitement and rush to get books out there in front of readers, but instead take a little extra time, a couple of weeks or month, and make sure high-quality books are being published, at least from a technical standpoint.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Amazon's Leather Cover with Built-in Light

I’ve had my Kindle for a week now, and I’m still loving it every bit as much as the first day I received it, if not more. I haven’t come across anything that’s given me pause or concern with it. I had vowed to myself to not use it for copyediting, but that went out the window a couple of days later. But it’s actually pretty easy to use for copyediting; much easier than I anticipated. However, I think I’m going to try to keep using it for copyediting to a minimum, using it instead for pleasure reading. In my mind, I need that type of delineation.

I want to take a moment to discuss the cover I bought for my Kindle. I know this might not interest many folks, but I spent a good amount of time researching my options because the covers are pretty pricey. I went with the leather cover with built-in light from Amazon. It sells for $59.99, and before I spent that amount of money on a cover, I wanted to dig up as much information about it as I could.

The cover is very sturdy and offers great protection to the Kindle. The inside of the cover is a felt-type material that is gentle on the screen of the Kindle and is nice to hold while you read. One of biggest pluses of this cover is that it is a fold-around, allowing the reader to hold the Kindle with one hand while reading. Without this capability, this cover would lose much of its appeal. There is also an elastic band on the outside of the cover to ensure the cover remains closed at all times, which is nice because it offers added protection to the Kindle.

The really sweet perk of this cover is the built-in light that comes with it. No batteries are needed since the Kindle itself powers the light. This is nice because one of the problems I always seemed to run into was batteries dying in my reading light, especially when I travel. Now I don’t have to worry about that. The light is very bright and directed to fall across the screen. I have no “blind” or “dark” spots at all, as the entire screen is well lit. The upper-right corner, where the light is fixed to the cover, is a bit brighter than the rest of the screen. The battery drain is not excessive; in fact, it’s much less than I expected, and I use the light thirty minutes to an hour each night.

The only gripe I have with this cover—if it can even be called a gripe—is that the light is a bit difficult to pull out from the cover. But this is getting easier the more I use it, so it is—or was—a minor inconvenience. Another concern I had before getting this cover was the weight it would add to the Kindle, but it’s not bad. The weight roughly doubled when the cover was attached, but I can still comfortably hold the Kindle with one hand. I will gladly take the extra weight for the added protection this cover offers.

In the end, I would happily recommend this high-quality cover to those who are serious about protecting their Kindle and want the convenience of always having a light available for reading. Especially if you do a lot of reading at night and/or in bed. It is pricey, but when you figure the cover itself goes for $34.99, $25 for a good quality reading light specifically designed for the Kindle is not outrageous. I saw separate clip-on lights for the Kindle selling for $19.99 and $24.99. If you want protection for your Kindle but are not concerned about the light, Amazon offers the same cover without the light for $34.99. Both cover options come in a variety of colors, so you should be able to find one you like.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this cover has completed my Kindle experience. I can read anywhere, anytime. And I have the protection for my Kindle that I’ve been looking for. Not to mention, it is a very nice looking cover.

For another review of this cover, check out this review.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Little Kindle Gushing

If you're a die-hard paper book, a.k.a. "real" book, lover, then you might not enjoy this post much. So you may want to stop reading right now.

I had gone back and forth for more than six months about which e-reader to purchase. I had narrowed it down to two in particular, the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. A couple of months ago I got a great deal on a Sony Reader Touch, so I went with that one. And I was pleased with it at the time. And then some events happened recently, and I ended up purchasing an Amazon Kindle.

To say that I was "blown away" when I opened up the packaging and turned on my new Kindle would be an understatment. And today Misty Baker, a.k.a. KindleObsessed, reminded me via Twitter: "Now you are going to have to write an article about your kindle since you were praising your Sony eReader." So here is my obligatory post to renounce any allegiance I may have had to my Sony Reader.

Now I'm not going to toss my Sony Reader into the garbage or donate it to Goodwill, but it will pretty much be relegated to copyediting duties. I don't really see me using it for pleasure reading any longer. Heck, I'm having a difficult time seeing my paper books being used for pleasure reading in the near future.

Every concern I had about the Amazon Kindle has been shattered in the last 24 hours. I literally felt bowled over when I pulled it out of its packaging and turned it on. The e-ink is absolutely amazing. I don't know how they did it, but it is actually easier to read than paper books. Yes, it is much more eye-friendly to me. And anywhere you can read a paper book, you can read the Kindle. Direct sunlight? No problem. Low light? Got it covered.

And Amazon knows what they are doing from a marketing standpoint. It is super-easy to search the Kindle Store and to buy books. And I get them delivered directly to my Kindle in less than 60 seconds. I push a button to buy a book, and bang!, it's there in a minute. May I remind you that I live out in the sticks, in a very rural part of North Carolina. I can sit on my back porch and get books in a very short time. My wife will probably be writing to the folks at Amazon condemning them and wishing them very painful deaths.

I could go on and on about everything I love about my new Kindle. About how I'm going to be reading tons of great indie authors. About how I'll probably increase my reading output. About how I'm going to save a lot of space in our house. But I'll keep it simple. You know how some folks talk about love at first sight? Well, for me, all it took was one look.

The Amazon Kindle is superior to the Sony Reader Touch in every aspect, in my opinion. Other than the Sony has a touch-screen, which is good at times, but can be a hinderance too. Amazon has put out a tremendous product and has streamlined the shopping/delivery process for getting content to the Kindle. I've been intrigued by e-books since I began looking into them a year or so ago, but now I'm totally sold on them, and I'm sold on the Kindle. It's no competition in my book; I wholeheartedly recommend the Kindle as THE e-reader if you're thinking of getting one. And even if you're not thinking of getting one, you should.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brian James Freeman's THE PAINTED DARKNESS

I was lucky enough to snag an early review copy of Brian James Freeman’s The Painted Darkness through LibraryThing. I’ve never read anything by Mr. Freeman, but I had heard a buzz about this book and looked forward to digging into it.

The book is not intimidating, the advance review copy weighing in at a mere 173 pages. And Freeman’s writing is very smooth and the story immediately intrigued me. I’m a fairly slow reader, but I made quick work of this enjoyable tale.

Henry is an artist. He paints, not for enjoyment, but more from compulsion. He has had an active and vivid imagination from early childhood. However, Henry’s painting has become a problem in his marriage. But even during this turmoil, Henry must paint. Problem is, right at this moment, he can’t. But eventually, Henry must paint against the darkness.

Throughout the book, Freeman alternates between the present time and the time when the Henry the artist was “born.” I’m usually not a fan of this approach to storytelling, but Freeman makes it work. By the time I finished the book, I had the distinct impression that I had just read a Stephen King work. And I mean that as a compliment to Mr. Freeman.

I’d recommend this atmospheric novel for a good, quick read. Mr. Freeman definitely has a knack for telling an interesting story. He doesn’t get bogged down in unneeded information or mundane details. This is a creepy story that will keep you turning the page to find out what happens.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happenings

I've got a few things going on right now, so unfortunately my blog is what gets neglected. But never fear, I have a few topics I want to explore in the upcoming weeks. For right now, here's a quick update of what's happening:

1. I'm almost finished proofing a novel. This is one reason I'm a bit behind, albeit because of my self-imposed "deadline." I traveled over the weekend and really didn't get anything done with this, so I'm in catch-up mode right now.

2. Just started reading my review copy of Brian James Freeman's The Painted Darkness. So be expecting a review of it sometime in the next week. So far, it's a really good little book.

3. There will be another giveaway this week. I'm still deciding on which book I'll giveaway, but rest assured, it will be another easy contest. Just stay tuned.

4. I've got my next copy-edit project lined up.

5. I still plan on trying to update the look and feel of this blog. I just need to find a little "extra" (yeah, I know, real funny) time and a halfway reliable internet connection. Hopefully, by next week I'll be able to work on it.

That's about it for now. Please be patient while I adjust to my new work schedule and try to work out some sort of a "regular" (again, I know, real funny) routine.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scott Nicholson's SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD

At last, here is my promised review of Scott Nicholson's Speed Dating with the Dead:

Scott Nicholson's Speed Dating with the Dead will always have a special place in my heart. It has the distinction of being the first e-book I ever read using an e-reader, thus igniting a growing passion for e-books in my heart.

If you have followed me for any amount of time, you will know that Mr. Nicholson is one of my favorite authors. I haven't read anything by him that I haven't enjoyed on some level. That said, I must admit that I didn't know what to expect from this book based on the title. It evoked images of a bunch of 40-somethings jumping from table to table in a hotel lobby trying to meet a future companion. And in my mind they were all zombies. Go figure. I probably read more zombie books than is healthy.

Set in Mr. Nicholson's familiar Appalachian mountains, Speed Dating with the Dead is about a paranormal conference at an old hotel. There is a wide array of characters attending this conference, including your die-hard ghost hunters, clairvoyants, groupies, and skeptics. Probably not much different than real life. As the conference goes on, strange things begin to happen. Before long, Mr. Nicholson has you moving at break-neck speed as an ancient, malignant force makes its presence known at the conference.

Like all things Nicholson, I wasn't disappointed by this offering. I would actually say this book was a little bit edgier than some of his mass-market paper backs, which I liked. Mr. Nicholson weaves a wonderful story with a diverse cast of interesting characters. The book is paced very well, with the last half of the book flying by. Even with all the action, the book stays focused on the story and moving it along. And as with all of Mr. Nicholson's books, this one is atmospheric, making you feel like you're attending the conference with the other guests.

You won't be disappointed by this book. Even if you aren't into the whole ghost-hunting scene, there is plenty in here for you to enjoy. Mr. Nicholson is a story-driven author, and words in his hands turn into a very enjoyable story.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Digital, Not Paper, Please

As we drove away from Books-A-Million for the last time, I turned to my wife and said, "I don't know how many more paper books I'll be buying in the future." My wife and I had a good chuckle at my comment and I didn't give it much more thought for the rest of that day. But in the following days, I reflected on that comment and began to wonder just how true it was.

There are pros and cons for both sides of the argument about digital versus paper. But I'm going to look at this from a purely selfish standpoint right now. I'm not looking at what I can collect, even though I have a collector's heart. I'm not thinking about how impressive my book collection appears, even though I love it when people visit my home and say, "Wow! That's a lot of books." And I'm not going to focus on being able to pass something down to my children, although I want my kids to enjoy the wonderful books I've discovered (I still can do this electronically, I guess).

I'm looking at the pure economics of this. I don't see why I should pay $7.99, $9.99, $12.99, or $15.99 for a physical copy of a book, when I can by the e-book version for anywhere from $2.99 to $5.99. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm interested in the story. That's it. Not collecting, not displaying, and not passing on. I just want to read the story. And you might say, "Wait, you have to buy the e-reader first." Yes, I do. But I can pay around $150 for an e-reader or I can spend an extra $300 or more on buying the paper versions. (This is based on an average $3 in savings per e-book for 100 e-books. I've seen some only $1.00 cheaper and I've seen some $10 cheaper.)

So from a purely selfish standpoint, I think I will say, "Digital, not paper, please." Now don't get me wrong, I'll still probably stop by the used bookstore from time to time, and if a paper copy of a new book is cheaper than the e-book, I'll buy it. But for me, right now, it just doesn't make economic sense to choose paper.

Just a quick note about my first "real" book giveaway. If I get 100 followers on Twitter, I'll randomly pick one of my followers and send them a new copy of Jeff Strand's Dweller. See? I told you it would be simple for you to have a chance to win a "real" book. And if you haven't read this one, you're in for a treat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Real" Book Goodness

I just got home from the wake, er, closing sale of Books-A-Million in Raleigh, NC. Bought all kinds of goodies for cheap. It was a little weird pulling away from the store and knowing it would be the last time that I did that. I wasn't sad, really, but I did feel kind of strange. I'm excited about my new-found love for e-books, but I will miss the days that I lounged around in the cafe of BAM spending time reading, drinking coffee and lattes, and surfing the web. Hopefully, there will be some indie places that pop-up around here to serve as a social gathering place for people to share their love and passion for literature.

But something good will come from all this for you. Yes, I said you. I picked up a bunch of books that I'm going to share with you in the upcoming days and weeks, through contests and giveaways. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do yet, but it'll be easy and fairly effortless for you. Just make sure you stayed tuned for your chance to win stuff from authors such as Keene, Ketchum, Smith, Nicholson, Follett, Rand, and others!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Digital Experience, So Far

I've got a few ideas for blog topics rattling around my head, but first I want to update this blog's design. And to do that, I need to figure out how to make the changes I want to the design. And that may take a while, because my internet service out here in the sticks is spotty, at best. So, I'm going to save those topics for a later time.

In the meantime, I'll give you a quick update of how my digital experience is faring so far. In case you didn't know, I bought an e-reader a little over a month ago. I purchased a Sony Reader Touch because I got it for fairly cheap. I had been waffling for a number of months between the Sony and Amazon's Kindle. The deal I got on the Sony, and its accompanying accessories, sealed the deal for me. At least, it did at the time.

My biggest gripe with the Kindle was that you could only read Kindle files on it. I guess I'm still a bit wary about that. But, in just the last month, it seems the Kindle train has been gaining speed, and it isn't any longer a matter of "if" the Kindle wins out, it's a matter of "when." There's a number of factors that make me believe this, but that's for another post. Needless to say, you would think I'd be ticked about buying a Sony. But I'm not.

Sure, my Sony has its quirks, but for the price I got it at and the content that's available for it, I'm pretty happy. Some of the file types don't do so great on it, and the one I'm most disappointed about is .pdf. They look fine when you load them, but most of the time the font size is too small to read. And when I zoom in, things get really strange. Indents and line breaks disappear, and the text becomes jumbled together. So now, I avoid .pdf files like the plague. I prefer using .epub, .lrf, and .doc files.

Yes, I did say .doc files. The Sony converts the .doc file to a compatible format when it's downloaded to the reader. And honestly, .doc files have performed the best on the reader. Which is a good thing for me, because the manuscripts I've been copyediting have been .doc files.

And the reason I most enjoy my Sony e-reader is the touch screen. It took me a little while to get used to using it for notes, but now I LOVE using the touch screen. It's made working on copyediting projects much easier, because I don't like reading on a regular computer screen for too long. The reader is easy on the eyes and taking notes is a breeze with the touch screen.

I know I'll end up with a Kindle at some point. Probably in the not-too-distant future. And my wife has decided she wants one too. In the meantime, I've downloaded the Kindle for PC and use it to open the few .mobi files I have. Plus, it gives us a chance to try out the Kindle interface for free.

But I'm not disappointed in the least about my investment in my Sony Reader Touch. It's proved to be a useful tool so far, and as long as it holds up, it should continue to be useful in the future. But unless you plan on doing a lot of note-taking or reading of MS Word documents on your reader, I'd recommend the Kindle to everyone. Eventually, it will win the e-reader "war," just like Blu-Ray beat out HD DVD's.

One thing I'm sure of, though, is that I'm sold on e-books. I didn't know what it would be like reading books on an electronic device, but it's become an absolute pleasure to me. I actually prefer to read my books in e-book format now. There is none of the eye strain that you get from computer screens. Heck, I don't notice any additional eye strain when I read on my e-reader.

I didn't think it would happen so quick, but it has. I'm a born-again e-book believer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Creation

Figured I'd go ahead and blog this morning before I get too tired and the kids get up and I remember I need to wash the dishes. I had some ideas yesterday that I wanted to blog about but didn't get around to it, and then I thought about these ideas throughout the night at work. But for some reason, as I'm sitting down to write this post, I'm having a difficult time expressing my thoughts in words. Who knows, maybe I've been working third shift for too long and it's catching up to me. Please bear with me as I try to hash it all out.

I've had a desire to write a book since I was in college. That was about 14 years ago. Now this desire didn't come from some grand epiphany I had. Rather, it grew over the years to a point that last year I started writing short stories. I tried to establish a routine for my writing, but alas, I came up with a million different excuses as to why I couldn't write for that day. I'm tired. The kids kept me busy. I've got too much to do around the house. This movie looks really good. And on and on my excuses went. If any of you need an excuse, let me know and I'll let you have one of mine.

Needless to say, I began to get very frustrated and reached the point that I just stopped writing. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened. After a while, I figured I just didn't have the fire inside me to follow through with it. My frustration level grew.

At the time I started writing, my reading increased. After all, I'd read advice from numerous authors saying a good writer reads a lot. In the past, I maybe read five to ten books a year. Last year I read 46 books. This year I've read 58 books, so far. Reading became my passion (or obsession, if you ask my wife). I now almost always have a book within arm's reach of me. And the thing is, I'm a fairly slow reader. Sure, I've improved some over the last couple of years, but it still takes me a while to get through a book. So that number of books I've read indicates a significant amount of time invested on my part. It seems that I'd found my passion, my fire inside. Right?

Well, not exactly. I still had some discontent inside me, a feeling of being unfulfilled somehow. I wanted to do more than just read a book. I wanted to be a part of creating one. The creation of something is important to me. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling all over. But with my passion for consuming books and my lack of drive for writing them, it didn't seem creating would be in my future. So I resigned myself to being a consumer.

Then one day I came across a blog post by one* of my favorite authors. He was looking for some pre-readers to give some of his books a whirl before he releases them, to help get the bugs out. I jumped on this opportunity because, come on, I would get to read books by a great author before others do. What was not to like? So I sent him an email and he promptly sent me a book he was going to release shortly. He ended his email response by saying, "Be tough."

Be tough? Really? Did he really know what he was telling me? He probably should've talked to my wife before he typed that command to me. See, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm my own worst critic. I could probably be described as anal at times. Did he really want me to be tough? Did I have it in me to point out errors in this author's work? After all, he is one of my favorites and I didn't want him hating me. Seemed I had a dilemma.

I didn't know know exactly how I would handle this dilemma, so I did what I do best. I read. As I read, I found a typo here; a misspelling there; a minor inconsistency over yonder. My dilemma became a little tougher. But after a little thinking, I decided to shoot the author an email with the things I found. Besides, he asked for it. After clicking the send button, I anxiously awaited his response. Figured it'd be something along the lines of "Get a life, dude."

But he didn't say that. Instead, he thanked me and said he'd take a look at the suggestions I'd sent him. That wasn't so bad. So as I continued reading, I sent him any other suggestions I had. I guessed that he would tire quickly of me. But one of his emails said something along the lines of "Hey, you're pretty good at this." Hmm. I know he meant it as one, but I didn't know if that was a compliment or not. The ability to find flaws in something is not normally an endearing quality. Most folks can't stand people like that. Heck, I can't stand people like that.

However, the little hamster in my head jumped on its wheel and started running. I'm pretty good at this. I'm helping a person I esteem to make his creation better. Hey, wait a minute. Creation. Create. Hmm.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm creating anything for this author. But I am helping him with his creation, to make it better. I liked that and it gave me a sense of fulfillment. The author mentioned copyediting and told me that with a little practice I might be able to do something with it. Hmm.

Well, I've taken his advice and I am getting some practice. I've proofed three books so far and am working on my fourth. And the crazy thing is, I'm enjoying the heck out of this. Don't know what that says about me, that I enjoy finding flaws. But I don't see it that way; I see it as helping someone make their creation better.

I still would like to try my hand at writing a book one day. One day, just not today. And I don't know how things will work out with copyediting. Who knows, I may tire of being nit-picky after the fifth book I proof. But I don't think so. It seems I'm onto something here. It definitely has kindled something inside me. Time shall tell.

If you've made it this far, I thank you for putting up with my rambling, incoherent thoughts. I know I probably wouldn't have made it this far. I would have probably thought, what is wrong with this guy? He needs to get a life! But this post has been quite helpful to me, so that makes it worthwhile in my mind. And that's all that counts. Right?

*I didn't name the author because I haven't asked his permission to talk about our correspondence.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The First Domino Falls

I planned on having a relaxing day today, to work on some copyediting projects and spend some time reading. So I decided to go to Borders and hang out in the cafe and work there. I went just after lunchtime, and I was able to find a $30 A/C adapter for my Sony Reader for just $7.50. Needless to say, I was a happy camper and settled down in the cafe to get some work done.

Later in the afternoon, my stomach started grumbling, telling me it was ready for some food. The first inkling of a headache had started, so I figured it was time to grab a bite to eat. After I hit McDonalds, I had an urge to stop at Books-A-Million (BAM) in Raleigh because I hadn't been by in a while. When I pulled up, I found the store windows decorated with bright yellow signs proclaiming "50% off already marked price." I thought, well, that's one heck of a Labor day sale. Glad I stopped today!

After browsing the store for a bit, I reasoned that there was no way everything is 50% off. I stopped a sales clerk that was passing by and asked her if everything was on sale. She assured me that it was, and immediately my mind started calculating ways to "free" up some money so I could score some books. I went after ones that I knew would be cheaper to buy in paper form than ebook form. After all, now that I have and e-reader, I'm all about saving as much money as possible.

I lugged my armful of books to the checkout counter and grinned as the sales clerk rang up my goodies. I asked how long the sale was going to last, sure it was just a one day deal. The clerk looked at me stone-faced and said, "Till the 18th, when we close." I thought I had misheard, so I asked again. Nope, I hadn't misheard. The only Books-A-Million in Raleigh, NC, is closing on September 18th.

At first, I was shocked by this news. BAM was my preferred bookstore to go to until about six months ago. I've always had a BAM near me to go to. Soon, my faithful standby will be gone. Needless to say, I scrambled and grabbed another armful of books to buy.

But after I got a coffee and settled down in the cafe, I thought about the whole situation some more. The shock began to wear off after a little while and I came to realize that stuff Scott Nicholson and J. A. Konrath have been talking about is finally coming to fruition. Heck, I had even told my wife when I bought my Sony Reader that I thought traditional bookstores would start closing down in a couple of years. I guess, if anything, the thing that shocks me most about BAM closing is how soon it's occurring, not the fact that it's happening.

I won't be surprised to see other chains start doing the same thing around here. We have three Barnes & Nobles and two Borders here in Raleigh. I think it's just a matter of when, not if, for them. The nostalgic part of me is going to miss them. Especially BAM, since it was always my "go-to" store. But another part of me is excited. And not just because I scored some cheap books today. This is an exciting and turbulent time we are in, and I can't wait to see what changes are coming. I suggest you hold on tight. The winds of change are blowing strong.

Speaking of winds blowing, I'll leave you with a quote, or maybe more of a paraphrase, from the comedian Ron White: "It's not that the wind is blowing, it's what the wind is blowing."