Altered by A D Croucher – Quick, awesome read

New recommendation time. This time, it’s Altered, the first in what I hope is a series by A. D. Croucher.

I’m tired, so I’ll just link out to my review on Amazon, but I shall add a bit beyond that I really dig this piece.

From an independent novelist’s point of view, I enjoyed it more than just because of the prose. I also liked that it’s basically a novella that doesn’t have to fit into the traditional 250-350 page format. I bet this piece is about 20-25,000 words, shorter than a normal book by one third. Still, it feels complete, and better than that, it feels complex.

Most of the characters in this story grow and mature, or at least change, and the Altered title describes both the emotional world of the characters and the scientific mechanism that drives the plot. It all comes together like peanut butter and chocolate.

If you want a good young-adult urban science-fiction story, treat yourself to this.

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On book ratings…

Curious thing. As a newly self-published author, I’ve picked up an inclination to go poking around other independent author’s pages, kick the tires, see what people say about them. Many of them are more established than I am and have a few works out, some even have made a minor name for themselves. Others are about where I am.


The curious thing I’ve noticed is the first few reviews tend to be good ones despite the quality of the book, which I think, speaks well of people’s politeness and might also have to do with general reading habits. I think folks who might write a negative review of a book are unlikely to buy it in the first place, because of content sampling and categories. For me, the categories I avoid most are romance novels and non-fiction. 

(Side commentary: Non-fiction my $#@. There’s more truth in most fiction novels than in the non-fiction I’ve read. Non-fiction. So much wisdom in that compound word and its consistent use by book vendors. You’ll notice we as a society agree we won’t call that type of work ‘fact.’ So we have to call it what it’s not. It’s not completely made up, so we say ‘non-fiction.’)

Imagine if I was forced to read through items in my ‘I know I’ll hate it’ pile. I would be tossing single stars around like mosquitoes in a Minnesota summer. With today’s tech, I can easily delete after two chapters any book that doesn’t float my boat. Will I rate a book like that? Probably not. I haven’t read it all the way through, and that doesn’t feel right, rating something I haven’t fully experienced. I think other people feel like this too. Thus the good reviews for the first dozen or so reviewers. They liked it enough to read it through. Simple.

Then a book becomes popular. The ones that hit the tipping point and have a sudden popularity boost will start getting read based on advice or the recommendations of those first few reviewers, or combinations of those things.

Then you get what I call the ‘Twilight’ or ’50 Shades of Gray’ phenomenon. People glom onto a book of the year and everyone reads it. The ratings drop to reality, because you have people who otherwise would dislike the book (I read the first Twilight novel, despite my better judgement, for example) start to read it despite their preconceived notions. Chances are they should have stuck with their preconceived notions.

In a way, I wonder why on earth anyone would continue to read a book they think is bad after a few chapters, and they start to realize they don’t like the style or characters. Maybe they’re just gluttons for punishment, or the author totally drops the ball in the last half of the book? Possible. Still, I do wonder.


Wendig’s Mockingbird – vulgar and delicious

I’m continuing my search for great independent and under-known authors and I’ve found a bright gem in Mockingbird, a phenomenal novel by Chuck Wendig. The main character must have soaked in the vulgar marinade overnight before Wendig put her out on the barbie for this one, because she’s the nastiest woman I’ve ever heard. Strange, how a character can take on a life. Even if in the real world, Miriam would be the most profoundly difficult person to even stand next to in line at the supermarket, but in this story, her life exudes from her every word and thought, and she welcomes us readers with open (and sometimes bloody) arms.

Mr. Wendig – well done. You entertained me with a thrilling story, a proud female lead, and gave me a few new creative curses to add to my favorites list. If anyone out there wants an unusual modern fantasy story and have a strong stomach and a penchant for foul language (and who doesn’t, secretly, in the back of their head) then you should enjoy Mockingbird.

Demigod Conception coming to print

Good news! I’m prepping my book, Demigod Conception, for print-on-demand. Paper’s a bit expensive, but it would make some really cool holiday gifts. I plan to have it ready to go by Sunday.

Amazon’s print-on-demand solution is remarkably easy to use. Hopefully it’s as quality a product as their online tool and their sales service suggests. So far, so good.

If you can’t wait and want to buy it now, it’s available on amazon.com Kindle.

Gandalay Marketing

Finished my first marketing-themed short story today. They say you should write what you know, but frankly, writing about marketing seemed to be a quick way to bore audiences. That is, until today!

My hero’s a 10-year-old who teams up with a marketing executive and a computerized store marketing system to… Well, it’s a short story, so I can’t give away the good part, can I? Still, I dig the concept. It’s sci-fi horror, but it’s also suitable for young-adult audiences, I think. Benign language, minimal bloodshed. When I clean it up, I think I’ll shop it around a bit.

Maybe someday I’ll overcome my fear of clowns enough to write a story with clowns in. Clowns on tall structures. Acrophobia and Coulrophobia blending in a frenzy of falling wigs and oversized shoes.

Willies. Clowns give me the willies.

(Oh, and check out this cool phobia list.)

Recommended read – Wool by Hugh Howey

I think I’m going to take some space in my blog to recognize some of the better books that I’ve run across. Authors who work hard and deliver quality make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

My first recognition is for Hugh Howey, who needs to have even wider readership than he already does. His magnificent Wool series turned me back onto reading science fiction after a long and hard time trying to find someone who actually had a compelling SF angle and a strong interpersonal story with likeable characters and enough action to keep me interested. So, here’s to you, Hugh; keep up the great work.

Wool Omnibus – Highly recommended.

Harlen Bayha's blog of bloggable bloginess