Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tides by Anne Azel

Publisher:    Bedazzled Ink

It’s unfortunate when a book that has a basically good story is ruined by poor production methods.  With all of the editing programs and qualified editors that are available, there is no excuse for a book that has multiple errors.  The problem diminishes as the book progresses, but the first few chapters are full of mistakes, including misspelled words and words that are missing from the sentences.

Jackie Cunningham is a former TV and press journalist who has reached that point in her life where she can live her life exactly like she wants to.  She’s in her 70s and dying, so she says what she thinks without compromising or worrying about who she upsets.  Before she dies, Jackie has a few things to take care of.  She wants to make sure that her niece Paula, Paula’s partner and their child are set up comfortably in the home that Jackie owns on the coast of Newfoundland.  She’s also willing to take care of the rest of the family if they’ll just leave her alone.

The story is told in alternating scenes from Jackie’s early life and the present.  Because of the time in which the book is set, Jackie is not out as a lesbian most of her life, but that didn’t keep her from having a full and healthy sexual life; however, her real partners were the adventures she had and the adrenaline rush she got from them.  She avoids her real partner to dash around the world after stories.  This creates another problem with the book in that it reads like a listing of famous historical events in the twentieth century.  Instead of developing any of the experiences completely to show Jackie’s character, it’s almost like listening to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” where incidents are spewed forth so quickly, most of them aren’t heard, much less understood.  It seems that Azel is creating a record of the century rather than trying to tell a story.

Few of the characters are very interesting, though the end of Jackie’s life is fun.  As the family circles like vultures, she derives great pleasure from setting up an oceanographic institute for Paula and showing her obvious favor for Paula’s family.  It’s also clear that she is somewhat jealous of the freedom that Paula feels in today’s world.  The reader will easily imagine Jackie wondering what her life would have been like if the attitudes towards homosexuals had been different.

Tides could have been a much better book with a little more time and a great deal more detail to how it was published.  As it is, it comes off as OK, not terribly offensive, but not outstanding either.  Azel has certainly done better in the past.

The publisher is aware of the problem with some of the books and has promised to replace any of them that are flawed if the reader contacts the company.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chris Anne Wolfe's work

I was contacted by the person who is trying to have Chris Anne Wolfe's stories reissued and I asked her to send me something that I could share with you.  If you like fantasy stories and haven't read Wolfe's work, you should give it a try.  Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago, but she left some terrific stories behind.
The Lost Works of Chris Anne Wolfe
Two Amazons of Aggar Books and Others Discovered
by Beloved Lesbian/Feminist Author

Port Orchard, Washington
September 2013

After more than ten years of being sealed safely away, the nearly 7,000 pages of “lost writings” by lesbian/feminist author Chris Anne Wolfe (Shadows of Aggar, Roses & Thorns, et al) are being organized, transcribed, and prepared for publication by a small team of passionate volunteers.

“Fans would write or call and ask when the next Aggar book would be released. For the longest time, we had no idea what to tell them,” explains Jennifer DiMarco, one of three staff of Amazons Unite, a not-for-profit formed exclusively to publish Wolfe’s books. “The fans didn’t even know there are actually two more Aggar books plus a dozen other novels.”

Amazons Unite has already made huge progress, publishing new editions of Annabel & I, Roses & Thorns, and even Shadows of Aggar and Fires of Aggar. The first two Aggar books feature full-color interior illustrations by Skye Montague, who came to know Wolfe’s work through Amazons Unite. “There’s an entirely new generation of lesbian readers waiting to discover Chris Anne Wolfe and her Amazons and Shadows,” Skye offers. “Getting all her books into the hands of readers is our ultimate goal.”

Since Wolfe’s books tend to be lengthy (Shadows of Aggar is over 100,000 words), Amazons Unite is keeping costs down by releasing editions exclusively as ebooks for the Kindle and iOS through Rebecca Fitzgerald, the third volunteer at Amazons Unite, says, “We’re not pricing any of the editions higher than $4.99. We want everyone to be able to enjoy these adventures.”

Fans new and old are encouraged to help crowd-fund the endeavor and learn more about the “lost writings” online and at Facebook.

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Find more information at

Friday, October 4, 2013

Goodreads is being abused

This is a post that Layce Gardner put on Facebook about some idiots on Goodreads.  I know a lot of people look at reviews there, so you might want to know what is going on.  Karin Kallmaker says she's had a similar problem.

Status Update
By Layce Gardner
I've kept pretty quiet about this, but I think people should know what is wrong with Goodreads. I was the victim of a gang of people who targeted me and my books in a game they play. I don't know if you call them trolls or what... This group of people (at least 50 of them that I can tell) pick on an author and their books. This is a contest they have. They shelve the author's books on shelves they have named "I would rather vomit than read this book" or "I would rather cut off my testes" or "I would rather eat shit than read this book." I'm serious. They have shelved all my books onto these shelves. Their object is to incite me so I say something, then they will converge on me and "destroy my career." This is their exact words. I left Goodreads without saying anything. Goodreads has recently been taking away these shelves. This incited the bullies (and yes, I call them 'bullies.' I have seen the posts where they say they want to destroy my career and wouldn't it be funny if I kill myself.) and now they have left one-star reviews on my books. They are not satisfied with the shelves any longer. As of now, I saw over twenty one-star rating on my book "Tats" left by these bullies in the last month or so. I couldn't bear to look at my other books and see if its happening to them too. Also, a person emailed me and said she heard at some Amazon site that these bullies left one-stars for me on Amazon as retaliation for what Goodreads has done. I don't know that there is anything we can do except be aware that these people exist. I hate to say it, but there are days when I think these bullies may have won their game. Of course I'm not going to kill myself. But they may have succeeded in destroying my career. I'm wondering if I'm the only lesfic author who has been targeted...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rainbow eBooks is closing

This is from an article that Andi Marquette tagged on Facebook.  I thought some of you might find it interesting.  This is the web address for it

Rainbow eBooks Shuts Down – Back Up Your eBooks

September 16th, 2013 by · 1 Comment · ebookstore news

RainbowEbooksLogo1[1]Here’s a reminder that the ebooks you buy aren’t actually yours.
Rainbow eBooks, an indie ebookstore focused on the niche LGBTQ market, is shutting down. They sent out an email today announcing that they will stop selling ebooks at the end of the month, and that the servers will be turned off at the end of the year.
If you bought ebooks from this ebookstore you should probably make sure you have downloaded a copy of your purchases. And just to be safe, you should probably also remove the DRM. This is the same advice I gave when Books on Board abruptly closed its doors in April, and it is just as valid today as it was them.
The only way you can really own the content you buy is if you remove the DRM and other restrictions that are placed on it. You can’t have ownership without control, and you don’t actually control a DRMed ebook.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

No Corpse Is an Island by Gato Timberlake

Publisher:       Blue Feather Books

Elizabeth Taylor (yes, that’s the name) knows she’s not that good at being a private detective.  As she says at the end of the book, she’d rather be known as the most stylish and best looking PI than the cleverest.  This could explain why the story falls flat.

Taylor is hired to find the research papers of Stan McCormick, her roommate’s dead fiancĂ©.  The circumstances of McCormick’s death are suspicious, which makes the case more interesting for Taylor.  Her investigation takes her to Grafton Island and the college where McCormick did his research.  The island, which sits in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, is caught in a war between the original settlers, mostly fishermen, and the new arrivals who are interested in developing the waterfront property.  The characters there are as peculiar as the ones Taylor meets at the college.  When Taylor falls for one of the island women, she decides she has to prove who the killer is so that it won’t interfere with her love life.

No Corpse Is an Island is a light weight mystery.  The story is alright, but it never develops the suspense or tension that most readers expect for this type of book.  The detective seems more interested in a possible girlfriend than she is in the case.  Timberlake moves along telling the story, but there aren’t any great confrontations or frightening threats.  Taylor does receive some messages, but even those don’t seem to carry much weight.  Most of the book is spent presenting a rather long list of potential killers and why they might be the killers, but they’re very run of the mill.  There is a little twist at the end when the killer is revealed, but the story just doesn’t have any kick to it.

The best part of this book is the description it gives of the bay islands and the lifestyle that exists on them.  The Chesapeake Bay islands have been settled since the earliest days of the American colonies and have developed a very unique existence.  Timberlake certainly captured that well.  The reader can feel the ocean breezes and smell the salt, as well as appreciate the characters who live there.  That alone makes the book enjoyable.

Someone looking for a book to spend some time with will find No Corpse Is an Island acceptable and it’s very informative about life around the bay.  Mystery lovers will probably find a lot lacking however.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Karin Kallmaker on good manners by authors

Karin Kallmaker posted this on her blog today and I think it deals with an important subject.  At any rate, it's coming from a major author who also happens to be the Editorial Director at Bella Books.  I think that makes her worth listening to.
Lacking in Graciousness and Generosity, Part 2

Creative people rest in a unique position in society. Until very recently, with the explosion of "independent" artists, we have been expected to create art for the sake of art. We haven't been expected to be business people and I have been, at times, made to feel less "artistic" for being concerned about getting paid for my work. Talk to any musician about how it feels at the end of the gig to have to hunt down the organizer to ask for the check and go through the standard "it's here somewhere, can we mail it?" routine.

Everyone around us is allowed to worry about their bottom line, but not the artist herself. I wrote a lengthy rant on this subject when a bookselling gateway wanted me to basically work for free while he made money off my efforts and then chided me for lacking in generosity when I refused.

This rant is a little closer to home. I may come off like a self-satisfied "I've got mine now you get yours" bee-yotch but bad manners are bad manners. Rachel Spangler wrote a marvelously wise blog about the soft sell that has spurred my thinking, and I want to credit her for that, but my mention of her does not imply that she agrees with anything I'm saying.

I was once a first-time writer. That was twenty-mumble years ago. Back then, had I gone to an event at a bookstore and walked up to the table where the featured writer was sitting, placed my book on that table, announced to the crowd that I was there, then sat down alongside and refused to move, it would have been career suicide. The pond was very small, and my talent was not so exceptional that I could rise above being a known monumental jackass. I'd have never seen the inside of a women's bookstore again and my publisher would have heard about it--my contract would have been in jeopardy. In addition to a 7 a.m. lecture about my jackassery, Barbara Grier would have told me that such behavior did not sell books

Of course, I hear you say, no one would do such a thing. It's the height of rudeness. Who crashes someone else's space like that? Yet--and we have reached the point of this blog--all over the Internet authors have set up their own spaces, the Facebook walls, their blogs, their wherevers. These spaces are carefully crafted to represent the books and they took the author's time and money to create.

And I don't know an author who hasn't had another author post BUY MY BOOK links on their space. Cover art, links to buy, promotional copy, the works. This happens to me at least once a week.

It's rude. Just as rude as crashing a reading would be. I don't care if you're new and I don't care if you can't get anyone to notice your book and I don't care if someone said you should do it and I don't care if you see other people doing it who claim it works, they're lying to excuse the fact that they're being rude.

It pisses people off. It pisses readers off. It does not sell books. It makes you look desperate. It also makes you look like a liar, to wit, "I need to hijack Karin Kallmaker's name because my books are best sellers!" Right.

Unfortunately, in today's world there are few reprisals for being rude. I wish I could send you a 7 a.m. phone call from Barbara Grier. Alas. All I can do is delete your post, take time away from my maxed out schedule to diplomatically ask you to stop, deal with your emotional angst when you respond that you never meant to bother me, or I eventually block you and risk, of course, being thought lacking in graciousness and generosity for not wanting you to plaster your poster over mine when I bought the space, big meanie that I am. This is what the other authors I know do as well. But we don't forget your name and you may never know that's why you're not asked to play reindeer games down the road. The pond is not as small as it used to be but word still spreads.

Kindness and courtesy still matter. They will always matter. If you can't practice them for their own sake consider this: Readers notice

Above Reproach by Lynn Ames

Publisher:                   Phoenix Rising Press

Above Reproach is book two in the Mission Classified series by Lynn Ames.  It’s another action/suspense story that reintroduces the reader to Vaughn Elliott, one of the major characters in the first book Beyond Instinct.

Sedona Ramos works for a government agency and sees satellite images from Iraq that she wasn’t meant to see.  A nuclear facility that she helped to deactivate years before is showing activity again.  Sedona immediately becomes the target of a group that goes high in the US government and that wants to stop her from revealing what she’s seen, but she’s able to reach the president first.  That leads to Sedona making contact with retired agent Vaughn Elliott and a hand-picked team of super agents.  They are tasked by the president to go to Iraq to find out what is going on and are hunted by killers the whole way.  Sedona has a secret power though that will guide and protect them along the way.

For people who have read many of Lynn Ames’ books, this one is difficult to evaluate.  It’s certainly far better than her first books, but it doesn’t show the promise or ability of her recent work, especially Beyond Instinct.  The dialogue isn’t very good between the characters and there’s never really a feeling of suspense in the story.  The “bad guys” are supposed to be super-secret plotters who have tremendous resources available to them, but they are extremely inept at stopping the agents from achieving their goal.  Vaughn and her group have little real trouble confusing and evading their opponents and getting into Iraq.  The way they deal with the facility is probably meant to show their level of training, but it doesn’t create the suspense that a reader would expect.  The rate that a relationship develops between Sedona and Vaughn doesn’t match with the feelings they each express about past relationships, so their situation doesn’t feel “real.”  The story might have been stronger if the relationship had been left out.  Finally, there is a supernatural aspect to the story that, for those who don’t believe in that type of thing, can be very trying and contributes to the disjointed feeling of the book.

Above Reproach is not a poorly written book.  For someone who is looking for a quick read that is fairly entertaining, it will do fine.  For anyone who has read Ames’ recent books, it doesn’t quite come up to the ability she has shown recently; therefore, the book may be somewhat disappointing.  For fans of suspense novels, this one is tepid and there are others that demonstrate the genre better.    Those who are Ames fans and follow her work will read and enjoy this.  Those who are genre fans may want to find something else.