Long Road to Mars

Mars has beckoned us since ancient times. The red orb traveling across the sky, stoking imaginations around the world. Then came the telescope and sightings of shifting dark areas and “canals.” Armadas of robots would reveal a desolate world, once wet and dynamic, laid waste by some cosmic catastrophe. Yet it was writers that kept us looking to the Red Planet.

From the epic John Carter adventures, to The Martian Chronicles, to the more recent The Martian, there has been a steady stream of visions of Mars. Now comes J.C.L. Faltot‘s The Road to Mars.

Decades from now, Mars has been colonized, but war came between the planets. Earth was left in a ruined state and its people blame Mars. Darion and his daughter Olivia travel through the ruined cities, looking for a way to leave. He believes life on Mars is better, like Earth once was. But there is more.

The Darklight is destroying Earth. Shadows lurk in the darkness. What is the Solfire? And do those who lived before the Pulse, know the truths of both worlds?

The Road to Mars, part one of a trilogy, begins differently than most Mars novels. Here we are in a dystopian landscape, and a father and daughter fight to survive, somewhat reminiscent of The Road. Elements of Light versus Darkness lurking in the background and simmering under the surface, remind me of Chris Walley‘s The Lamb Among the Stars series. Combined, these create a fresh new story of survival, choice and destiny.

Road is a compelling journey with well-realized characters, who don’t all end up quite as one would expect. All this before anyone reaches Mars, so you will be anticipating book two and what lies among the red sands.


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Indie Film Fest 3

Last time I posted about films, I profiled some end of the world pics. Before that, a grab bag of everything from sci-fi to true stories.

This time I want to point you to Midnight Special, a story about a very special kid about to learn his destiny. This is from the director from the equally subtle Take Shelter, a new take on the end of the world.  Okay, 10 Cloverfield Lane is really not indie, but this sorta sequel to Cloverfield is small-scale and smart enough to deserve the title.

And then this:


Yes, I know, an X-Men Universe film is not low-budget nor indie, but after being burned-out on superhero films, this looks like one to change my mind.

Sometimes, less is more.

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I wrote a few weeks ago on the ease of revising/updating your Kindle book. After uploading a set of minor corrections and changes recently, I was surprised to learn that updates are not automatically pushed out to owners of the ebooks. Every other app or program on devices get auto updates, but Amazon doesn’t send updates unless the author requests them, and if the updates are significant in nature. They say they are working on this – even though it appears it already can be done – and in the process are missing out on an opportunity.

While I still prefer paper books myself, ebooks do allow more of an interactive experience between readers and authors. It’s not just about making fixes, but updating author info, new book releases, etc., not only get to the readers who want to know, but create more sales for Amazon (and, obviously, the author).

This is all an ultimately a minor point for writers, but it came up during what is planned to be the last update to my book. Why the last? Because I have to get going on book 2:


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AtS: Hitting the Shelves

First, on-the-shelf, bookstore sighting of Among the Shadows:

This was at indie bookseller, Leana’s Books. I thought I had something else in the picture, but I guess not: J. C. L. Faltot‘s new The Road to Mars is just visible at the extreme right.

To the first of many booksellers!

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In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…

That little rhyme was once taught to all kids. Now, the name Columbus isn’t uttered much, and people just know the mail isn’t delivered today, the banks are closed, and they might have they day off.

However, for a historical perspective on the man who rediscovered America, check out my post from last year.

And, perhaps, we can look forward to the day that mankind rediscovers its spirit of exploration.

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“Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated”

With the growth of e-books, the demise of Borders and the shrinking of Barnes & Noble, some thought the bookstore was on its way out. Personally, I disagreed with that sentiment: Anything that skyrockets so fast (e-books) can only come down, the big chains had over-saturated with too many (and too big) stores, and no matter how good on-line shopping becomes, one can still peruse far more books, faster, in person. Sure, I like the best of both worlds, and considering Amazon is opening brick and mortar stores, they get it too.

Lev Grossman wrote “The Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated” in the June 30th issue of Time on the growth of independent bookstores and their sales, at the same time big chains continue to contract. He mentions this revival of indies is in part due to “…new technology [that] makes things like accounting and inventory management easier for small stores. The growth of social media makes it easier to promote events. The demise of the Borders chain in 2011 had the effect, in some markets, of taking competitive pressure off indies.”

Another major part of this growth, I think, is that book buyers have always supported bookstores and the market has never shrunk quite as much as claimed. Borders didn’t simply fail because no one was buying books, they failed more from a poor business model. Barnes & Noble should survive — and I hope they do — if they continue to return to their roots. In other words, they need to be their neighborhood bookstore, not seen as just a big chain.

Authors aren’t overly concerned on how you read their book, on paper or on a screen, but we may have now reached a balance in the market of options. However, Grossman says it best when it comes to the old-school way:

… the paper book – a piece of information technology that has, after all, been tested and honed over the past 2,000 years – has declined to give way that easily.

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A Time to Rise

Nadine Brandes‘ third book in her dystopian Out of Time series, A Time to Rise is only days from release. If you haven’t been following the tale of Parvin Blackwater, read my reviews of book 1 and book 2. Sorry to see the series conclude, but can’t wait to see how it does end. Available for pre-order now.

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Outsourcing: Marketing Part 2

Aidan J. Reid wrote a few weeks ago about his experiment with “3rd Party” marketing efforts. Marketing is not something many authors like to do — or have time for — but they have to engage in this anyway. As with anything, you can pay someone else to do some of it, and there is a whole cottage industry out there more than happy to help.

In my experiment, I went to Fiverr where anyone can offer on-line services of any type, typically starting at $5. So, of course, I started looking up book promotion offers. Continue reading

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Only $2.99?


Among the Shadows for Kindle now on sale for $2.99!
Among the Shadows is heading out on the show circuit, so I thought I’d throw a little special out there…plus a teaser for Volume 2 is coming soon.


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Fly to the Green Star

Man is dissatisfied with his life. The never-ending, ever-repeating, events of daily life threaten to kill him with boredom

Then he finds himself on another world, in one peril after another. And nearly always, he encounters a woman that was meant for him and he must fight for her by conquering unimaginable dangers.

This is the classic foundation of the stories perfected by Edgar Rice Burroughs in lost worlds, hidden jungles and on faraway planets. He managed to keep each creation fresh and exciting, as did Otis Adelbert Kline who followed in his footsteps. Another is the underrated Lin Carter, who’s creation of Thongor we have already reviewed. Now, travel to a distant world in the Green Star series.

Here a crippled man finds a way to send his soul to a faraway world. There he enters the dead Chong the Mighty, and later Karn the Hunter, taking his place in this tropical world where the races live in towering forests. Soon he encounters Niamh the Fair, a princess, who he quickly falls in love with. However, and this is no surprise, before he can forever be her mate, five books full of death-at-every-turn adventure must be overcome.

Why have such stories, so often derisively called “pulp,” endured for decades? They all have the underlying theme of being fed-up with conformity, the status quo and what society has decided life should be like. Sure, they are often told from the perspectives of men, but the women they meet are not fragile flowers.

The desire to be better, to find one’s purpose, is a call that never goes quiet. These are tales of earthlings finding and doing what their own world won’t allow. As I have written before:

Read to be entertained. Read to get lost. Read to be inspired.


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