Author Archives: Scott Dyson

“Review” of SILICON SLUMMIN’ – AND JUST GETTING BY by Steven M. Moore

For those of you who don’t know, Steven M. Moore is an “indie” SF/Thriller author who writes in several series (though he’s more or less tying them all together, ala Isaac Asimov and all of his various novels).  His latest series features a “Dangerous Miss” (I don’t know the Spanish off the top of my head), Maria Jose Melendez, also known as Mary Jo.  Trouble has seemed to find Mary Jo since she left the navy.  She seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But really, she was never exactly in the wrong place at the wrong time — circumstances conspired to put her in those positions, whether by coincidence or by design.  Everything comes from the events of the first book, where Mary Jo has to travel the globe trying to stay one step ahead of numerous government agencies while trying to avenge the death of her sister and brother-in-law.  Now there are those who want to find out what she knows and won’t allow anyone to get in between their goals.

As usual, Mary Jo ends up in a job that seems to suit her, but ends up drawing trouble to her.  She has Russian assassins on her tail, as well as some sort of Feds and…surprise!  A stalker!  And not just a stalker…a serial killer psychopathic stalker.

Moore’s plot is a tightly woven affair which features well drawn characters who grow throughout the book and become stronger and better people due to their interaction with our heroine.   The book keeps the right amount of pacing and suspense and even crosses into a bit of my realm, serial killer/horror.  (But not too much…nothing really graphic here.)  There’s even a tinge of romance as Mary Jo and her PI/bodyguard Mario hit it off and a few sparks fly.

In my mind, this book surpassed the first of the Mary Jo Melendez books (titled MUDDLIN’ THROUGH).  I read it pretty much straight through.  One of Moore’s better offerings, and that’s saying quite a lot, what with the Castilblanco/Chen series and the MIDAS BOMB and SOLDIERS OF GOD.

You can check it out on Amazon here:  SILICON SLUMMIN’ (And Just Gettin’ By)

*****

Michael Jasper’s THE WANNOSHAY CYCLE

[I read this book a number of years ago and wrote this review immediately after reading it.  I recently came across a short story by Michael Jasper titled “Drinker,” which is set in the Wannoshay universe.  The short story was different — set on the Wannoshay homeworld, entirely populated by the aliens.  I didn’t think it was as successful, though it was beautifully written.  It didn’t grab me like this novel did.  But revisiting that universe made me think about how much I liked the novel, and I remembered that I reviewed it on Journalscape back then.  So here is that review, from February 18, 2008, with some edits and deletions (like a reference to what I was reading next…):]

I started reading THE WANNOSHAY CYCLE by Michael Jasper on Wednesday or Thursday of last week, finished it on Friday night, and went back to reread a few chapters over the weekend.I don’t know how many here have read it, but for what it’s worth, I thought this was one of the best “alien” type SF novels I’ve ever read. I won’t talk about the plot here; if anyone wants to know more about it, check it out on Amazon and read the description.

I will say, though, that the depiction of aliens is up there with Niven’s Ringworld aliens, in my opinion. It is superior to those, in some ways. I felt like I *knew* these creatures better than I ever knew the Puppeteer or the other alien from RINGWORLD. I could visualize them much better than I could the alien beings in Asimov’s THE GODS THEMSELVES, and the aliens in Robert Sawyer’s CALCULATING GOD were less well described, I thought.

Jasper’s vision of the near future, an Earth where things like You Tube and blogging have been extrapolated to one possible logical conclusion, where the government’s response to terrorism has become a way of life in itself, sort of, where designer drugs evolve into Blur, was both familiar but yet clearly IN the future. I thought it was very well imagined and described.

Michael Jasper writes beautifully, also. Nary a clunky sentence to pull one out of the story to be found. Characters are fully realized; you “know” them very quickly, including the aliens to the degree that any alien can be understood. One of the nice things about the story is that the author does not try to explain every last thing about these creatures; leaving me to believe that there are some things about the aliens that just are outside of human experience.

This is up there with the best SF I’ve read in a couple of years. And seriously, I’m not just kissing up because Michael Jasper journals here, and might (or might not) read this. If anyone reading this likes SF, you can confidently give this book a go.

*****

James Scott Bell’s Ty Buchanan Trilogy

After reading a blog entry on  The Kill Zone by James Scott Bell titled “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?” , where he detailed the impetus for a particular novel of his called TRY DYING, I decided that it sounded interesting enough to try it out for $2.99.  The bit on the blog entry described how he read a news story…well, let me excerpt the bit from the entry:

Back when newspapers existed, I would read either the L.A. Times or the L.A. Daily News, and one legal newspaper, the L.A. Daily Journal. I’d scan for interesting stories or legal issues, and clip them and throw them into a box. Every now and then I’d go through that box, seeing if the ideas still interested me.

One item kept vying for my attention. It was a tragic story about an L.A. man who shot his young wife to death, then drove to a freeway overpass, got out, shot himself, and fell 100 feet to the freeway below. He crushed a Toyota, killing the driver. How bizarre is that?

So one day I wrote this up as an opening scene. When I got to the part about the woman being killed, I made up a character: Jacqueline Dwyer, a twenty-seven-year old elementary school teacher.

From there Bell imagined some things about the incident and came up with a story about a young lawyer in a high-powered LA law firm who was engaged to marry Jacqueline Dwyer.  She was his soul mate, and her death crushes him.  When someone shows up at the funeral trying to get money out of him in exchange for information about her death, Ty Buchanan (the attorney) learns that Jacqueline may have survived the impact of the body of the suicide victim hitting her car.  And then she was killed — murdered, in fact, and this guy who has shown up at the funeral witnessed it.

I sped through the first book, which introduced me to a priest named Father Bob, who has been accused falsely of molesting a young boy and has been reassigned to a Benedictine monastery called St. Monica’s, and a pretty young nun who lives there as well named Sister Mary Veritas.  What followed was a tense mystery, with two parallel mysteries — the first pertaining to the case that Ty is working on at his firm, related to suppressed memories and false accusations of sexual abuse used as weapons in divorce cases (Father Bob comes to Ty to give him background on his own case in order to help the falsely accused man), and the second is Ty’s own investigation into his fiancee’s death.

After speeding through that first book I immediately downloaded the second book (TRY DARKNESS) and I sped through that one almost as quickly.  In this one, Ty is now practicing law out of a coffee shop and he is introduced to a woman and her young daughter by Father Bob.  The woman is being forced out of the residential hotel she lives in with her daughter and onto the street.  The play is that if someone is not a resident for over a certain time period, the hotel can be considered a commercial hotel rather than a residential hotel and there are tax advantages or something like that.  So the owners/management shuffle the residents out after so many days, and then they can return after a couple weeks.  Seems the woman doesn’t want to go.  She can pay the rent and wants Ty to force them to let her stay.

Then she ends up dead.

So now Ty has a murder mystery to deal with.  Not to mention whatever’s going on at St. Monica’s, where Ty is living and finding himself increasingly attracted to Sister Mary Veritas, the classic example of setting up an unattainable target.  The sparks that fly between the two of them as they interact are worth the price of admission.  But it’s still the mystery at the heart of this book that makes it another great read, and another hard-to-put-down story.  I reached the end and wanted more.

So I got more.  I downloaded the third book, TRY FEAR, and plowed ahead into Ty’s story, and Sister Mary’s story too.  In this story, Ty starts off by getting a guy off for a DUI on a technicality.  His DA opponent, Kimberly Pincus, is upset that she got beaten on something that seemed so cut-and-dried, especially when the guy had a blood alcohol reading of .18 — in other words, he was very drunk, and he was driving.  The DA is not just a woman, she’s a young, very attractive woman, and she sets her sights on Ty, who is just now getting over his fiancee’s death.  He’s ready for a relationship, maybe.  And maybe Kimberly is the right woman.

Or maybe not.

Because at the same time, Sister Mary Veritas, the basketball-playing, elbow-throwing nun who is helping out by acting as Ty’s investigator, begins receiving threatening emails. A cyber-stalker, making threats and insults to the pretty young nun.  When Mary is shot while she and Ty are trying to visit a witness, Ty blames himself — the bullet must have been meant for him and Mary’s involvement is just too risky for the nun.

This may have been the best story of the three — it really grabbed me and spun me around with its twists and turns — twists worthy of a Harlan Coben novel.  I loved the continued sparks between Sister Mary and Ty, and the repercussions for Mary, both in terms of physical risks (like being shot) and punishment from the abbess of St. Monica’s.  So many questions:  Is Kimberly the right woman for Ty?  Is being a nun the right choice for Sister Mary?  And what’s this cyber-stalking all about?  Is it connected to a case, or is it a random nut, or is something in her past coming back to haunt her?

TRY FEAR has a great conclusion to every question I may have had, and while I would be happy to read more about these characters, the story feels complete (as Bell indicates at the end of the third book).  It can end here and I’ll be okay with it.

James Scott Bell has many books on the craft of writing, and I think perhaps I should try a few of them, see if anything he has to say about specific parts of craft that clicks with me.

A very enjoyable trio of reads.  I will be reading more fiction by Bell as well in the future.  I like his style and he creates great characters who come to life in his stories, if these three books are any indication.

*****

A couple of good reads…

So, I haven’t been writing much lately — I got about an hour in at the computer yesterday and just couldn’t seem to get any momentum on any of the tales that I have going.  Probably wrote less than 200 words.  Instead, I’ve been getting a bit of reading done.

I have about four books going, and two of them grabbed me and held on — both of them ebooks by Tim Pratt.  The first was the eighth entry in his Marla Mason series (he mentions that he’s now written as many (or more) self-published books in the series as he had written for a publisher), titled LADY OF MISRULE.  The second was a $0.99 novel called HEIRS OF GRACE, which was originally published as a Kindle Serial.

I’ve been a Marla Mason fan since I read the first one many years ago, and while I enjoyed this one, where Marla et al battle a seemingly-undefeatable extra-dimensional monster, it felt a little scattershot (is that a word?) compared to some of the others.  Less focused.  More “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” in plot.  Which is not to say it was bad — it was a pretty fun, pretty fast read.  Lots of imaginative stuff there.  Maybe a little too much.  Still, I’m looking forward to the next installment for further adventures of Marla Mason.

The second, HEIRS OF GRACE, impressed me.  I went into the read with almost no expectations, and the book grabbed me from the first page.  This one features recent art school graduate Rebekah Lull, who has inherited from her biological father a fair sized sum of money and a house in North (?) Carolina.   And what she finds out is that she isn’t exactly all human — her father is a sorcerer at the least and maybe a whole lot more.  And she has some biological siblings — not all human either.

There’s a lawyer named Trey who she finds herself attracted to and it appears that the attraction is quite mutual, but there’s a bit of a conflict seeing as how he’s her lawyer.

Oh, and the house is magic.

This was a really inventive story with lots of cool characters and plenty of peril for our main character as she fights against her siblings and contends with the risks that her inheritance poses to her.  Not to mention complications with the relationship with Trey…  I had a hard time putting this book down.  It was also a fun and fast read, and was unlike much of what I’ve read before.

Tim Pratt is a very gifted writer of fantasy and SF, and both of these were well worth my time.

Now, I’ll just hope that I get some inspiration to actually write something.

*****

Review of ILIUM and OLYMPOS by Dan Simmons

Once upon a time there was a vibrant and eclectic field of genre fiction known as science fiction.  Here the giants played: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith, PK Dick, and many, many others.  But alas, over time the field dwindled.  Oh, there were some new voices, writers like David Brin, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear, Orson Scott Card, Robert Sawyer, and James Hogan turned out many interesting stories in the field.  And now, the field is experiencing something of a rebound as self-publishers skip the Big 5’s filters and publish the stories they want to tell without being told that “it can’t sell.”

Occasionally a writer transcends genre, finds that he or she is able to write in more than one style, tell more than one type of tale, with power and passion.  I believe that writer, in this time period, is DAN SIMMONS.

Dan Simmons has written a lot of excellent fiction, crossing genres with works such as CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT and CARRION COMFORT in the horror genre, HARDCASE and DARWIN’S BLADE in the mystery genre, and THE CROOK FACTORY, a spy thriller starring Ernest Hemingway.  But some of his most ambitious fiction has been done in the science/speculative fiction field.  He wrote the excellent four book series featuring HYPERION, THE FALL OF HYPERION, ENDYMION and THE RISE OF ENDYMION.  And now, he works again in the SF field with  his latest two volume tale, ILIUM and OLYMPOS.

ILIUM, as the title suggests, starts off as a story based on the Trojan War and Homer’s ILIAD.  The familiar heroes of that saga, Achilles and Hector, Agamemnon, Paris, Ajax, King Priam, and of course, Odysseus, are present as they fight the war according to Homer’s ILIAD.  There is a notable exception, however.  Thomas Hockenberry, Ph.D., a classical literature professor from Indiana University, is on hand to watch events unfold.  Hockenberry has been “reanimated” to report the unfolding events to his Muse, and in turn to all of the Greek gods.  Yes, the gods themselves are on hand, in person, to watch these battles be fought, and to interfere anywhere they might.  Hockenberry’s job is to report to the gods if the battle deviates from the history he knows so well.  He isn’t alone – the gods have other resurrected “scholics” to also report on the war.  Hockenberry is the senior scholic present;  the gods do not have any compunction against eliminating scholics as they see fit, and most end up being destroyed when they anger the gods in any way shape or form.   Somehow Hockenberry has so far escaped their wrath.

Hockenberry, however, has another secret.  He’s been ordered by Aphrodite to spy on and ultimately kill Athena.  And since he knows that it will be his demise either way he acts in this situation, he looks for a way to change the course of the war.  And finds it.

Two other threads of story are progressing at the same time.  First, the sentient machines of the Jovian moons, known as “moravecs”, have detected unusual quantum activity on the planet Mars, which has been “terraformed” in less than 200 years, a feat that should be impossible.  The moravecs decide to send a delegation to investigate.  With this group go Mahnmet, a deep sea explorer moravec who is also very interested in Shakespeare’s works, especially currently the Sonnets, and Orphu, a huge crab-like moravec who is interested in the works of Proust.

The second thread is of a group of old style humans living on the surface of Earth.  They live an idyllic existence, free of stress and worry.  But they are limited in their lifespan to 100 years, at which time they “fax” up to the ring cities circling the planet at the equator and around the poles and join the “post humans”, the next step of human evolution.  But for 100 years, they live a very nice life, protected by strange creatures called the “voynix” and taken care of by robotic “servitors”.  Every 20 years they fax up to the firmary to get a sort of tune-up to rejuvenate them before faxing back to their Earth.

The story threads seem to be independent of one another until the moravec delegation is attacked, and their ship basically destroyed, when they reach Mars, by a very tall humanoid on what appears to be a chariot.  Greek god?  Olympos?  Aha.  Things are more related than they seem.

In OLYMPOS, we find out more about who these gods are, how they terraformed Mars in just 150 years, and what the source of the excessive quantum activity is on Mars.  We also meet zeks, also referred to as little green men, chlorophyll-based beings on Mars who have no mouths or ears and who communicate by physical touch.  Our friend Hockenberry has succeeded in changing the course of the war, thanks in part to the timely arrival of the moravecs who seem to always be there to save him.  The heroes of Troy and Greece have declared war on the gods themselves, and have taken the battle to Mt. Olympos through a rip in space-time called a “brane hole”.  Back on Earth, the power has been shut down and the humans, so used to being taken care of, have to act to save their lives, as the mysterious voynix have taken to hunting them down.  And one of them, Harman, has been shanghaied into a voyage where the answers become clearer.

I loved this story as it unfolded.  Simmons has a vision of the future that is actually quite beautiful and quite frightening at the same time.  The technology that he envisions, and the story that he tells, does not depend on traveling faster than light.  It uses the theories and speculations of today’s physicists and scientists and extrapolates forward to a future where some of the theoretical possibilities of quantum physics become useful realities, and even the Star Trek transporter technology becomes doable.

And who would have thought about using the Trojan War in a work of science fiction?  THE ILIAD was written as a sort of accurate history, poetic as it may be, and the idea that perhaps the “gods” are actually present and their magic is actually very advanced science ala Clarke’s rule is a neat premise for a novel.  I would have been happy with just that.

But the rest of the story weaves in nicely and finally it starts to become evident just how these divergent plot lines are going to converge.  If it wasn’t almost 700 pages long, I’d probably read it again right now.  I almost certainly will revisit the tale some day.

If you enjoy speculative fiction, this is a winner, albeit a long one.

*****

(I wrote this review several years ago, before self-publishing became a real option — I had to add in the part about the rebirth of the field of SF…)

*****

Labels in fiction…

I was reading one of my favorite blogs, The Passive Voice, when I happened across an article by Ursula K. LeGuin (yes, the famous SF author of such classics as The Dispossessed) titled “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

It discusses an author who wrote a book about post-Arthurian England, where everyone has lost their memories because of a sleeping dragon whose breath causes forgetfulness.  I haven’t read the book, but it sort of sounds like “fantasy” to me.  The author is not happy with that label, however.  Ms. LeGuin says that it appears the author takes the label as an insult, and Ms. LeGuin says that she finds his attitude about the label as an insult, as well.

My blog article isn’t about the mislabeling of books, or eschewing certain labels because they represent a literary ghetto or whatever.  I’m thinking more about labels themselves.  Are they a good thing?  Why do so many authors seem to despise any attempt to categorize their stories?  To fit them onto some overly broad (or overly narrow) shelf where there are other books that might be “like” them?

I can’t say I understand it completely.  I realize that everyone feels that their story is something unique.  Something personal.  Something that has meaning beyond the story.  Something that educates or informs beyond the devices used to convey that meaning.  And I admit that sometimes (not always) I have a bit of an agenda in writing a certain story; I’m trying to explore something I see in society in some manner through the characters in my story.  I may be trying to make a bit of a statement about how I see something in the world through the way my story unfolds.  Sometimes I do that.  But I never do it at the expense of the story I’m telling, at least in my view.

Mostly I just want to tell a good story.  Whether a reader is going to enjoy it, I don’t know.  I hope they do.  Some people have enjoyed my stories (at least they said they did) in the past.  But I have to admit that my main goal is to tell a story that keeps my readers (assuming I have any) interested until I finish.  Sort of like sitting around a campfire, except with more (and more interesting) words.

So as a writer, I don’t mind being labeled.  I like my stories; I find them interesting enough to think that others might enjoy them as well.  But I’m not thinking that they’re some sort of high art; that in a hundred years they’ll be placed on pedestals in the Book Museum or whatever.  So go right ahead and label them.  If I could label them myself, I would.  I actually do label them, in fact, by fitting them into categories on Amazon.  Am I labeling them correctly?  I don’t know.  I’m not real good at giving my own work a label.

As a reader, I appreciate labels.  I like recommendations, and labels, to me, seem to be the heart of recommendations.  “If you like ‘x’, you will probably like ‘y’.”    That statement, to me, is labeling two stories as appealing to the same group of readers, readers who like z’ types of stories.  So I like it when someone tells me that something is post-apocalyptic or dystopian science fiction, because I have a certain expectation for those labels.  If someone says something is fantasy, I might steer away from it, because I am not a big fantasy reader (Eddings, Tolkein and Donaldson excepted).  But if someone says something is ‘urban fantasy’, I might check it out because I associate that label with Jim Butcher, Laura Resnick and Tim Pratt (among others).  If something is labeled ‘serial killer horror,’ I might give it a look because I’ve enjoyed stories by Thomas Harris and by William Malmborg and Jeffrey Deaver (three very different examples of authors with stories about serial killers).

As a writer, I’d love it if my readers could label my fiction.  So far, all of it is short.  But as I’ve said, I have a couple more things ready to go.  If I can finish up my editing work and get some covers done, I have two or three that could be released before the summer.  Would you like to label them?  I’d call all three horror thrillers, and two of them have very human criminals who create the horror.  The third is a bit more supernatural.

In any case, I don’t think labels say anything about a work beyond offering a sort of classification system which is useful to readers, especially power readers who plow through and love certain types of stories.  They don’t say anything about the depth of the story, the quality of the storytelling or the technical skill of the author, but they do provide a handle for readers looking for new authors to discover.  As discovery tools how can they hurt?  Labels may be the only thing that writers today have in their bag to help them get discovered, since most of us (99.9% or more) do not have access to those front tables at a bookstore.

*****

New Marla Mason book!

I went to check out the blog of author Tim Pratt, who writes the Marla Mason series.  And happily, there was a new Marla Mason title out — LADY OF MISRULE is the name.

So I bought it.  Haven’t started it yet.  Currently I’m reading MURDER OF A NEEDLED KNITTER, a cozy mystery by Denise Swanson.  (More on her in a minute).  I’m also reading RED SURF by Tracy Sharp.  (More on her as well in a minute.)

I have always enjoyed Pratt’s urban fantasy series featuring a sorceress who kicks butt (usually literally).  She’s changed a lot over the course of the series, and I’ve lost count on which book this one is.  But the reason I thought I’d make a blog post on the series and on Tim Pratt is because I wanted to talk about the way I found him in the first place.

There’s a blog service called Journalscape — they offer free blogs to their users.  It’s a different interface than what you find here at WordPress.  In a lot of ways I like it.  There is no scrolling; instead, you go to an archive if you want to see old posts by the blogger.  Titles really mattered, if you wanted an audience.

Tim Pratt maintained a blog there at Journalscape called Tropism.  He doesn’t blog there anymore, but back in the day he and a few other authors (Laura Lippman, Keith Snyder, S.J. Rozan, Michael Jasper, Eric Mayer, Mark Terry, to name a few) had their blogs at the site.  (Only Rozan and Mayer still blog there, Rozan pretty regularly and Mayer off and on…)  I found his work through his blog there.  His Marla Mason novels were being published through a Big 5 publisher, and I found them in Barnes and Noble.  Four novels were published in the series by whoever it was.

When Pratt’s series was dropped, he decided to self-publish the next book in the series.  BONE SHOP was the first book he self-published, and it was also one of the first books I bought (for $4.99, if I recall correctly) for my old Kindle.  Pratt usually runs a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to “pay” for the writing of the books now.  He has enough fans that he is able to raise enough money to cover the “advance” that would have been paid by his publisher.  Then he writes the book when it funds, and writes it to his own Kickstarter-imposed deadline.  (I may have some of the specifics wrong here, but the gist of his system is correct, I think.)  I have not contributed to the Kickstarter campaigns.  But I’ve bought all of the Marla Mason books, and a couple of other books as well.  I’ve found his writing to be very entertaining.

I was happy to buy this latest at $4.99 for my Kindle, and I look forward to reading it.

*****

So, on to Denise Swanson.  Ms. Swanson writes cozy mysteries featuring school psychologist Skye Dennison as her sleuth.  Skye’s been getting involved in murder cases for seventeen books now, and in this latest, she is newly married to the police chief of Scumble River and on her honeymoon cruise.

I’ve loved this series from the start, in no small part because it is set in a fictional town very near my own town.  In fact, my town is the “big” town that everyone from her town goes to whenever they want to see a flick or eat out.  She names places in our city that I’ve eaten at.  She describes things that I used to do when I was in high school.  She’s even dedicated one of the books to a local dentist who is her dentist and who I know fairly well.  And another book was dedicated to the guys in a local cover band called Plastic Santa (now defunct) and I played with two of those guys in the previous incarnation of Plastic Santa (called Night School) and with another of them in a band I was in right after high school.  (I recognized the drummer of Plastic Santa as the main character’s brother in the books — I guess he’s related to Ms. Swanson in some way.)

The setting of these books has become a main character for me, and I always look forward to reading her descriptions of our area, and finding common experiences.  It may be one reason that this latest book is taking me a while to read — it isn’t set in Scumble River; instead it’s set on a luxury liner on an ocean cruise.  That “important character” (to me) isn’t a part of this latest book.

*****

And last, I mentioned Tracy Sharp and her latest book, RED SURF.  I’ve been slowly working my way through her Leah Ryan books, and this is the latest, I believe.  I found her in a unique way as well.  I found her through Joe Konrath’s blog.  She did a guest post back in the days when he was doing the fund-raising for Alzheimer’s research, I believe, and then she ended up writing a collaboration with Joe called JACKED UP!  It was pretty short, but it was fun.  I liked the character of Leah.  She was wild and irreverent and sexy.  So I decided to try REPO CHICK BLUES, and I found that I really liked that one as well.

Her others in the series haven’t held up quite as well as those two.  They’re still good, and I still like to read about Leah and her partner Jackson and their adventures, but it’s a good thing I started with the Konrath collaboration because if I had started with anything besides REPO CHICK BLUES, I probably wouldn’t have gone on.

Discoverability, thy name is Joe Konrath…

*****

My second free promotion results…

So my promotion ended yesterday.  It ended with a slight uptick on the downloaded copies of my two short story trios but it still was unimpressive.  Thank you to everyone who DID download the stories.  Hope you find something you like.  Even more, I hope you’ll maybe try something else I’ve written.  DIE 6 has some pretty good stories in it….I think…

So how did it compare to my first giveaway, where I promoted my titles SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE?  Well, that time I gave away 144 copies of the two titles.  The first of them did better.  I don’t think it’s surprising.  The cover for SOLE OCCUPANT was done by a professional, while the cover for DEAD OR ALIVE was done by…well, by me.

This time I gave away 71 copies in total.  Forty nine copies of JACK’O’LANTERN and 32 copies of THE GATEWAY were given away (by zombies…no, not really…by me).  Half the number of copies, though almost as many copies of JACK’O’LANTERN were given away as of DEAD OR ALIVE.  Anyway, why so few this time?  I have a few theories.

First, I did not have the opportunity to tag my giveaway with another giveaway.  In that case it was QUANTUM ZOO, with the giveaway promoted by all twelve authors (to some degree) and D.J. Gelner shared my status update, where I plugged both my own stories’ free status as well as that of QUANTUM ZOO.  This time, no shares from any authors.  (One offered but didn’t follow through, far as I could tell.)  I did have two friends share it with their own friends, and there is not much overlap between our groups of friends.  Anyway, when D.J. shared it on FB, my post views approached 300.  This time my post views were around 150 (maybe a bit more).  Half the page views, half the downloads.  Plus, people who were downloading QZ might have theoretically searched out works by the other authors in the collection and found a couple of mine on promotion, and grabbed them that way.  I’ll never know.

Second, these two covers are probably my worst covers.  I did them myself, and they were the first and second covers I ever did.  I’ll probably try to redo them sometime when I have the time.  But I don’t want to spend any actual money on them.  At $0.99 per download (which means $0.35 to me) it just does not make sense to spend the money on them.

It’s a shame, really.  I’ve had really good feedback on some of the stories.  Annetta Ribken once said of JACK’O’LANTERN (seen in a less edited form on the Friendly Fiction forum on Journalscape) that she could totally see it in a YA Halloween themed collection.  J. Michael Major listed AMERICA’S PASTIME (part of THE GATEWAY trio) as one of his favorites of the 14 DARK WINDOWS collection.  THE MOMENT also received good comments when I posted it on a blog a few years back.  And SARAH’S PUPPY won a contest on The Book and Candle Pub several years ago.  I think they’re decent stories.

Here’s Annetta’s quote (about JACK’O’LANTERN):

I can so see this in a YA Halloween anthology.
Cute and interesting premise. nicely done!

Author Eric Mayer (of the John the Lord Chamberlain mysteries) said this about THE MOMENT:

I enjoyed the story. From what I recall of eighth grade it seems true to life. Although I only wish I could’ve been bright enough to ever come up with a ruse like that. I’m surprised you could concoct this from six words not of your own choosing. Out of curiosity, do you recall what the words were?

I couldn’t, by the way.  I remembered “pirate” and “tommy gun” and “black cat” once I read it and looked for them.

And J. Michael Major’s Amazon review of 14 DARK WINDOWS:

It’s always fun to discover a new, talented author, and Scott Dyson is my latest find. The fourteen creepy tales here range from wistful and romantic (“The Moment” and “Ghost of Love”) to the horrific (“Hot Spot” and “The House at the Bend in the Road”). My personal favorites are “The Only Solution” and “America’s Pastime,” but all are wonderfully written and there is something here for everyone — just don’t read these hair-raising stories when you are alone at night! I look forward to reading more by Dyson. Buy a copy today and tell your friends about this exciting new author!

So there you have it. The results of the giveaway.

I had been debating whether to put ODD MAN OUT on promotion next month.  It’s my best cover, and I like both stories.  But I don’t know if it’s worth it.  Maybe I’ll just schedule it for a two day giveaway or something like that.

Better get something new written and published.  And soon.

Take care!  Thanks if you downloaded them.  Heck, thanks if you’re reading my blog!

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Free Promotion is here!

Started today, January 29th.  For five days only, ending February 2nd (Monday).

Two of my titles are free for Kindle on Amazon via KDP promotion.

Here are the links:

The Gateway Coverand

Jackolantern Cover

Please download them, read them, if you like them, consider leaving a review.  There are SIX (!!!) short stories contained in the two titles.  See the previous post for a description, or check out the Amazon book page for that same description.  They’re more or less flash fiction pieces.  The longest clocks in at something around 1800 words, if I recall correctly.

Thanks for grabbing them!

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Another KDP Select promo coming up…

I’m running a promotion on two of my titles, THE GATEWAY (with AMERICA’S PASTIME and HOT SPOT) and JACK’O’LANTERN (with THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY).  They will be free starting on Thursday January 29 for five days.  The promo ends on Monday, February 2.

The Gateway CoverAn imaginative boy discovers that the gateway for all evil has been opened, and his neighbor has been possessed! The fate of the whole world, or at least his neighborhood, is in his hands now. He must act to destroy the Gateway.

A 1500 word short tale of horror.

(Also found in the collection 14 Dark Windows.)

Contains two bonus stories:
America’s Pastime – a 1300 word short horror story, &
Hot Spot – a 700 word short horror story (dedicated to Dale Vincent Schwitalla)

Jackolantern CoverAs four young wanna-be Halloween vandals terrorize the far side of their neighborhood by smashing pumpkins, they encounter a jack’o’lantern that is by far the biggest and ugliest pumpkin they’ve seen this night. But this pumpkin is more than it appears.

A mild horror short story of about 1300 words.

*Also contains TWO bonus stories (NEITHER IS HORROR):
THE MOMENT (about 1500 words) and                                                                                                    SARAH’S PUPPY (about 1000 words)
And a short author’s note.

(These titles can also be found in the collection 14 Dark Windows.)

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Please feel free to download them, starting Thursday January 29.  Thank you!

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