Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Cover!

Kydona has a new cover, courtesy of Sam Carr at his website. I'll let this guy's talent speak for itself:


Feel free to download at will.

Friday, April 26, 2013

New review from O43

Liz Ellor has given Kydona 4.5 stars! Check out the full review at her blog, O43--and subscribe to her blog while you're at it!

O43 Review

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DMQZ: My review


Sometimes a story relies heavily on its characters to make the story compelling. Other stories draw the reader in with an elaborate, believable setting. DMQZ is the latter. Sci-Fi fans, you'll want to pick up this cheap, easy read. It's worth your time.

DMQZ follows Jacob Hale, a police officer who's lived most of his existence in quarantined Manhattan. The United States and the world have been ravaged by the dormouse fever, a deadly virus that spreads by skin-to-skin contact and kills most within 24 hours. A few islands of American government still hold out in quarantined zones such as Manhattan and Orlando, largely succeeding in maintaining a semblance of pre-apocalyptic life.

Hale is content with his role in society: a specialized operative of the Military Civilian Police, a militarized police force whose most important duty remains keeping the dormouse virus out of Manhattan. But when a strangely-alluring masked woman, a terrorist, gets the better of him during a bank heist, Hale's career begins to fall apart--and with it, his satisfaction with the world around him. He launches his own investigation to discover the truth. Who was the woman? What were her motives? What connection does she have to the world outside the quarantine--and the virus-resistant people who eke out an existence there?

These questions, and others, tore at me as I read DMQZ. And what a read. This book has single-handedly restored my faith in indie authors. Quinn Fleming has built a surprisingly convincing setting around this world-ending pandemic. In Manhattan and the surrounding quarantined boroughs, people subsist off of algae-based food flavored to mimic pre-apocalyptic food. Their commute is entirely by foot, though the authorities have preserved the fast-lane, slow-lane system to prevent congestion. Of course when they arrive at their destinations, they invariably have to contend with long stair climbs thanks to the absence of working elevators. The first three floors of every building are walled off in case of a virus outbreak. And the east-facing side of the island is fully militarized to prevent dormouse-carrying ʽresisters' from crossing the quarantine.

The lead characters aren't endearing, but certainly interesting enough to be attractive. Hale is an honest military type, an orphan with a boatload of bad memories, and though many of his recollections come off dry, they summed up to a convincing personality. His love interest, Leda, is a very strong female--utterly self-sufficient, economical, intelligent, and of course, beautiful. Despite her cool, detached demeanor, I found her unattainability alluring. Really, these two leads reminded me of Winston and Julia from 1984, at least superficially. As for the other characters: here's where one of my sole gripes is. I didn't really care either way for them.

But that's no problem, because I wasn't reading this book for them. I wanted the plot and setting. The conspiracy-laced plotline and Hale and Leda's burgeoning romance kept me intrigued. You can see places where Quinn is setting up for a sequel. There are purposeful gaps in the characters' stories. There are areas of backstory that Quinn could have explored, but didn't. And the ending itself--it's not a cliff hanger, but awfully close. And I want more.

To me, this was the kind of novel that I had to read fast, just because I wanted to know what happened next. It's a page-turner, that's for sure. If you like sci-fi, mystery, dystopian or just a good old-fashioned conspiracy, you'll enjoy DMQZ.

Monday, April 22, 2013

War Stories

The first indication that someone is trying to kill you is the bang. The sound of an ordnance detonation is difficult to describe. Imagine the rolling of thunder compressed into the space of a split second. It's sudden, piercing--and before you're even consciously aware that someone has just attempted to end your life, your body has already reacted.

You tense up, freeze. Your heart either skips a beat or gives a hard throb; it's difficult to tell which. Your eyes snap wide open on instinct. Thanks to repetitive drills, you find your gaze drawn to your weapon, then the nearest hardened shelter. Then you start moving. Because the next rocket might already be incoming.

The closest I've been to getting killed was a week into January. It was Monday--pasta night at the DFAC (the chow hall). I scanned my ID at the entrance, stepped inside, washed my hands, and grabbed my recycled cardboard tray. Standing behind the chow line was an Afghan cafeteria worker dressed all in white. We nodded at each other, and I reached out with my tray. Just as the words,
Spaghetti please," were forming on my lips, there came a terrific bang somewhere outside.

If there was any question that we had just been hit by Indirect Fire (IDF), the explosion was immediately followed by this indefinable noise--I'd call it a combination of a whoosh and a snap. That's the signature of a 107mm rocket: the detonation, followed by the report of its transit.

The Afghan server's eyes went round. Without hesitation, he and his local coworkers began hurrying for the exit and the concrete shelter bunker outside. This, while us Americans were sitting or standing around looking at each other as if to say, Seriously? This again?" I legitimately considered reaching over the counter and spooning the spaghetti onto the tray myself.

Then the sirens started going off. The urgency of the sound alarmed me--which of course is what it's designed for. Dropping the empty tray, securing my M16, I rushed out into the Afghan dusk. I crossed the street at a near-sprint and hurried into my unit's Tactical Operations Center (TOC), which is a hardened building all but immune to rocket strikes.

Just as I'd shut the door behind me, there was a tremendous explosion outside. It was so close that I felt the concussion through the steel door. The realization hit me then: the second rocket had struck right where I'd just been running. I was safe in the TOC, but I trembled knowing how close I'd come. If I'd left the DFAC five seconds later, I could have been injured or perhaps killed.

Sometimes the insurgents will attack during the night. Every time, without fail, I'll snap awake five minutes beforehand. An Afghan helicopter was recently destroyed by a lucky rocket strike not a hundred yards from the place where I work. On the tarmac just fifty yards from my office, another 107 hit during my shift but failed to explode. Instead, it bounced right off the asphalt and punched through a fence, then through both sides of a shipping container. There's a gouge in the blacktop as long as a forearm. In another part of the base, a round hit a fence right beside the road I run on every day. By strange coincidence, I'd randomly decided not to go for a run on that particular day.

I don't believe in God. But sometimes you can't help but feel that someone is watching out for you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A new foray into cover art

After much thought, I've made the tough decision to commission some new cover art for my novel.

Why the change? Because I've come to the realization that my current cover doesn't look like something you'd see on a bookstore shelf. Readers are fickle creatures. Check that; human beings are fickle creatures. Something as shallow as cover art will absolutely affect the sales of your book. If people see the thumbnail and aren't tempted to click, they'll keep on scrolling and that's another buyer gone.

I've heard this time and time again. It's sunk in; I understand the lesson. But when I first saw the current cover art, I think I had blinders on. I know I could never pull off art even approaching the quality of this cover. I was impressed, rightfully so. But my opinion on the matter doesn't count. The potential reader's does.

Up until now, I haven't spent a cent on publishing my book. I realize now that this needs to change. So I browsed DeviantArt, found a professional artist willing to take on the job, and gave him $300. Total cost of the project will be just over twice that.

This is an experiment, if an expensive one. Until this cover is finished, I'm putting a freeze on marketing Kydona. Then, once the new cover is uploaded, I'll start up again--with a vengeance. If I start seeing my book added to more shelves, I'll know I've succeeded.

I expect to see a finished product in 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned, and wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

LibraryThing

Say one thing of publishing your own novel; say it's a ton of work. I just wanted to let friends and fellow authors know of a new opportunity to expand your reading audience:

LibraryThing.

Affectionately abbreviated LT by its readers--an acronym I'm well familiar with here in Afghanistan, LT being my rank and nickname--LibraryThing resembles what Goodreads probably was in its infancy. Its membership is comparatively small, and a fair number of them seem to be actual readers rather than writers. If I had to guess, I'd say the reader-author ratio is about 50:50. The number of topics and groups are low as well. In short, your voice has a better chance of being heard on LT than on GR.

Another very nifty tool: their Member Giveaway program. LT posts a running list of author giveaways. All you do is fill out a form with your book's information, and the listing is posted for up to a month. During this time, readers will sign up to review the book for free. At the end of this month, from what I currently understand, you're sent a list of readers, and it's up to you to send them their free copies.

Using this system, I've added 8 future reviews to my growing list--in less than 12 hours. Will this taper off? Who knows.

But one thing I know for sure: in those same 12 hours, only one person on GR has responded to my Read 4 Review request.
So what are you waiting for, fellow authors? Jump on LibraryThing, create an account, link your book to your author profile, and get your book some acclaim!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Just a new cover

It's come to my attention that the cover is way too dark and doesn't show up well in thumbnails. Therefore I've updated it. Hopefully this does the trick!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Good news; update on book 2; and a little bonus!

Great strides in the past couple of days! On Smashwords, Kydona is up to 142 downloads, with 2 five-star reviews! One of these reviewers even added me to her favorite author's list. This may seem small, but it's just so nice to get some validation for something I've poured so much heart and effort into.

Thank you to everyone who's downloaded and read my book so far. I truly appreciate every single download.

Editing of book 2 proceeds apace. My illustrator, Krystal Leach, is about to start work on the cover. Like the cover of book 1, it's guaranteed to draw the eye! I've also hit on a name, helpfully approved by my fiance:

Kydona: From Ashes

The book is fully written and close to final draft stage. I expect to have it up within 2 months.

In an attempt to hold you over, here's a large version of the cover. Feel free to share it, use it as your wallpaper, whatever!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kydona: Book 1 now available for download on Amazon and Smashwords!

Hello and thank you for visiting my blog! If you've made it here, you undoubtedly already know: my debut novel, Kydona, is now available for download!

Free copies on Smashwords!
$0.99 on Amazon!

I do hope you'll support me in my lifelong goal of becoming a reputable author. Please continue to read, review, and talk about Kydona!