Crane. Wife: A Cyberpunk Tale and Tybalt Perdition by John Cordial

I don’t usually like writing book reviews. Not because I can’t think of anything to say, or the book wasn’t good. It’s simply because my memory isn’t trained for them. It’s very rare for me to find a book whose characters stay in my memory for longer than a day or so after reading. When I do, I tend to buy them, put them on my bookshelf, and reread them forever and ever after, amen.

I read quickly – a skill I trained at school, when I would get through three or four books in a day. Editing; I’ve had to slow down, learn to savour the words, plot and characters. When I read a book to review it, I tend to revert back to school days, reading quickly to avoid picking up edits that have the potential to throw me out of the story. I also have to make sure I have the time to review them immediately after reading them, because otherwise the details are lost to the black abyss that is my memory bank.

These books were different. John very kindly sent me review copies* of his two novellas, after I raved incessantly about his writing style based on the snippets he posted on his Twitter account and this Musae Mosaic interview. From the moment I started reading, I knew that reviewing them would be difficult.

I picked up on the missed edits. I thought, “I should mention that to him,” and then the story sucked me right back in and it didn’t matter that there were a few errors. Nothing mattered but the story, the characters and reaching the end.

Here’s why:

Crane.Wife

Crane. Wife: A Cyberpunk Tale

A wounded hero and his dreamer.

In 2187 the US is a dusty, fractured mirror. The California Federation lives on the remains of the old world.

Since Kadence’s injury, his wife is all he needs and Amias treasures her wounded soldier. For the young couple, what little they have is precious, but desires make them reach higher. He dreams of a proper wedding ring, and providing all she’d ever want. She dreams of cybernetic wings and soaring the endless blue.

Hunger and risk can take a vicious toll. When a gamble ends in a hard goodbye, the unthinkable becomes daily life and those left behind must either rise and fly.
Or linger in the wreckage.

I don’t have much experience reading in the cyberpunk genre. From my brief forays into it, it tends to be a bit dark, nitty gritty and dystopian. Crane. Wife fits those descriptions. It’s also beautiful, written in a style that pulls you in and refuses to let go. Amias is a strong; though tortured, woman, and the relationships she has with Kadence; her husband, and Opie; a disfigured soldier, are real and powerful.

I’m trying really hard not to give spoilers away because part of the magic that drew me in, was how the author weaves the story in such a way that when it ends, you know you should have seen that coming, but somehow you didn’t.

There are aspects of the story that have untapped potential – but these were based more on my personal curiosity about the history of the world the story is set in, and the characters that live in it, rather than the story needing more depth. It has plenty of depth, and played with my emotions as though I was a violin in the hands of a maestro.

The poignant ending of Crane. Wife had me in tears, deeply satisfied with the way the story ended, and hopeful of more to come, as I believe there will be sequels!

Tybalt Perdition

Tybalt Perdition

In another world, a ship sinks above an ancient reef. Beneath the icy waves, among scores of drowning sailors, she was born.

Caldyr Prayers is a mostly normal fairy, but a not-so-normal detective, especially for Stockton, California. She’s looking to make a name for herself and build a real life; a proper legacy as the World’s foremost fairy private eye. She’s just gotta get off the ground with her wings tied behind her back (to keep her fairyhood secret from the humans.) All she needs is a chance…

And in walks Reynardine Slybold—the Dread Fox. God, trickster, seducer, petty thief, and chaos in a lurid suit. But he just might have a legitimate case for Caldyr. He’s giving up his divinity and needs her to find a solution to his oldest feud. If she can solve the Fox’s problems, and keep them alive, the fairy could make a few much needed bucks… maybe even a name for herself.

This novella is everything I love about contemporary fantasy mixed with a good old detective story. The main character is a badass fairy detective; strong and independent and slightly cynical as all good detectives generally are. Offsetting Caldyr is Reynardine the Fox – a smart-talking Myth who became a god, and now wants to be mortal again.

The worlds they move between, from modern-day America, to Lumin and Elledgya, are beautifully woven into the action, which involves a lot of quick-thinking, fast talking and brilliant story-telling.

It’s not often I find a fantasy novella that develops its characters as wonderfully as John has in this book. Throw in a mix of different pantheons and mythologies, a love story that spans centuries, and characters who aren’t perfect but are better for it, and the Glass Fate series is one that I will be following for as long as the author keeps writing them.

You can visit John Cordial at his website for more about the author, his books, and best of all: snippets of his writing!

*I’ll be purchasing copies of his books as soon as I can, because even though he sent me the review copies, I believe in supporting writers who are trying to make a career out of their hard work.

I need someone to fan-girl with, so if you’ve read either of these stories, get in touch! If you haven’t –get them here – and then get in touch!  

Editing Tips Tuesday – NaNoWriMo is upon us, pack that editor away! TTT Post

Most of the time, editing is an essential aspect of writing. I often reiterate how important it is to develop a habit of editing your own work before expecting others to read it.

However, with NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow (I can cue the panic now, right?), it’s equally important to stop editing so that you can focus on writing.

Today, I’m linking up with The Broke and Bookish for their Top Ten Tuesday Hallowe’en Special with ten tips that will put the fear of the writer into your inner editor!

Ten Tips to Frighten Your Inner Editor Away for NaNoWriMo

  1. Acknowledge that your draft can give ghouls nightmares. It needn’t be perfect, it needn’t be pretty. You just need to write it.
  2. Turn your screen to darkness. What you can’t see, may make your editor run screaming in horror, but it will stop you going back to edit. There are several apps that will allow you to do this. (See below list.)
  3. Make ghosts out of each day’s writing. Start each day with a blank document, or the very last line of the previous day’s words. You’ll stop editing what’s already written, and jump straight into writing.
  4. If your editor is shrieking in terror at a word or sentence, highlight/mark it in some way so you can edit it later.
  5. Turn your sentences to slow, rambling zombies. For this month you’re allowed to ramble pointlessly – while your editor hides in a corner whimpering.
  6. Remind yourself that your editor is a vampire – it sucks the creative life force out of your writer. Garlic won’t help, but hiding the red pens and delete button might.
  7. Join in the sprints. Learning to run away with your words will give you the tools you need to escape your vampiric editor.
  8. Stock up on apocalyptic survival supplies. If you have everything at hand while you write, you won’t need to scavenge for food, giving your editor time to sneak up on you.
  9. Rest often enough that you are confident in your ability to keep up the flow of words. When you’re tired, you can’t stop the editor taking control, and it wants to suck your words, not your blood.
  10. When all of the above fails, lock yourself in a room with nothing but pens and paper and write as if your life depends on it. With vampiric editors, ghoulish first drafts, and shuffling zombie sentences, it just might.

The following apps will help with writing in the dark:

BlindWrite – Set your topic, your timer and start writing. Once your time is up, the writing reappears, and you can copy it to a word document.

Earnest – Like BlindWrite, an online writing app, that basically disables backspace, highlight, delete, and turns your editor into a gibbering idiot.

ilys – A paid app that costs $11 monthly, it shows only the last letter you typed and only for a split second at a time. You get 3000 words for a trial run.

Write or Die – Can be used online, or you can purchase and download the app to use offline. Use typewriter mode to disable editing. Also really useful for those word sprint training sessions.

NaNoWriMo kicks off tomorrow! Are you ready?*

*This is a trick question, because how is anyone ever ready for the insanity that is 50 000 words in a month?!

Share your tips for NaNoWriMo in the comments! Do you edit? Do you escape the vampires? How do you feel about Hallowe’en? It’s a recent development in South Africa, but it seems to be catching on. 

 

 

 

#FindJoziFlash17 is well underway and I need to make a decision!

We’re on day four of the #FindJoziFlash17 treasure hunt, and the anticipation is building!

Most of my time is being spent on final edits and making sure everything is progressing smoothly. We still don’t have a release date for the actual anthology (cue panic!) but it won’t be long now.

So here is the decision I need to make, lovely treasure hunters:

It occurred to me that sometimes, when treasure hunters are hunting treasures, they are offered assistance by some benign mentor along the way. In my capacity as self-appointed benign mentor*, I would like you to help me decide whether or not to offer this assistance during the hunt.

Kindly pause in your quest, and take a moment to vote below:

Survey Monkey Poll

Voting will close at midnight, GMT+2 on the 27th October 2017.

*Because no one else wanted the job.

Editing Tips Tuesday – Self-Editing (what is it, and why do I need it?)

What is self-editing you ask?

Well, it could mean one of two things:

  1. Editing your own writing.
  2. Editing yourself.

In this instance, I want to discuss the second meaning.

Here’s the thing. We’re busy hosting a treasure hunt across social media to market the upcoming release of Jozi Flash 2017. It’s a big deal for me, because I’m the publisher and editor of the anthology. I’m also a contributing author. Along with nine other extremely talented authors and one amazing artist, we’ve created a collection of flash fiction stories across eight genres and we’re going to be offering it as a FREE download.

In deciding how to market it, I had to consider the following:

  • What image do I want to give of Chasing Dreams Publishing?
  • What image do I want the contributing authors to give of themselves and their writing?
  • How do I ensure that in giving access to their individual social media sites, they maintain the high standard that I expect of myself (and therefore of others) on their sites?

The last was a major concern for me, because I am a perfectionist. I like everything to be pretty and neat and professional to a degree. But here’s the thing – that’s me. It’s not necessarily any of the other authors. And while I could potentially request that the authors edit themselves for the sake of fitting into the mould, that wouldn’t really be fair.

Which got me to thinking about how many authors, artists and other professionals who use social media intentionally hide aspects of their personalities in order to be more professional. It made me wonder how many people are forced to sign contracts that require editing aspects of themselves out of their social media.

I get it, I really do. There are levels of professionalism that need to be maintained when you’re trying to build a solid business as an author/blogger/artist/etc. The fact remains though, that these professionals are also, in most cases, individuals. Real people with real lives and their social media should be their responsibility to manage.

Which is why, when the Jozi Flash contributors and I had the discussion about branding themselves as authors, I didn’t ask them to censor themselves. I didn’t ask them to pretend to be people they’re not. I just asked that they be sure that the image they portray on their media, is one that they’re comfortable with.

So today, for self-editing, I’m going to give you some tips on what to do, and what not to do when you’re marketing yourself as a professional on social media.

Tips for self-editing on social media:

  • Be yourself. Authentic and genuine. No one else can be who you are, so don’t try to be someone else.
  • Be positive. Negative comments about yourself or others tends to leave others with a negative perception of you. This includes running yourself or your work down for any reason. It’s not a pretty picture. Don’t do it.
  • Be respectful. Not everyone is going to agree with or like you, but the great thing about social media is, they don’t have to follow you, and you don’t have to respond to them. There are unfollow and unsubscribe buttons for a reason!
  • Be proud of yourself. I cannot stress this one enough! As creators, we tend to be cursed with insecurities and doubts about our work. We put it out there on social media, hoping for validation from complete strangers. It may never come. The only one who can truly validate your work, is you. So be proud of what you do.
  • Be open to growth and learning. Criticism, even when it’s constructive, can hurt a lot, but it’s an invaluable tool to improving your craft, and even yourself. If it hurts, it’s because there’s an aspect of truth in it, and that’s an opportunity to improve.
  • Be grateful. For opportunities, for people, for life. Gratitude inspires gratitude in others, and generally leads to all-round happiness.
  • Be opinionated. Opinions matter. They lead to critical thinking, which leads to discernment which is next on the list.
  • Be discerning. Ask yourself whether it’s necessary to post something, and if you’re following the above pointers by doing so. If you are, then hit that share button. If you’re not, perhaps you may want to reconsider why you want to share it.

At the end of the day, when social media is properly utilised, it becomes a super-power for individuals all around the world. It’s your responsibility to decide whether you’re going to be a hero or a villain. If you lean towards the latter, at least make sure that your villainy isn’t just a troll in a cape.

Are you a hero or villain? Do you ever edit out stuff you would like to say because it may not be professional? And finally, have you seen our #FindJoziFlash17 treasure hunt?* The second clue is up on Justin’s Twitter!**

*This is unabashed promotion of the hunt, I know. I would apologise, but I don’t feel guilty at all. I’m excited for this event! Share it across EVERYWHERE!

**Better go grab that clue! There’s a $20 Amazon Gift Card for the winner!

 

 

 

 

Monday Writing Prompt makes way for #FindJoziFlash 17

So it’s finally, FINALLY, here!

To celebrate the cover reveal of Jozi Flash 2017, the amazing authors and artist have come together to host a treasure hunt across their social media!

Not only is this about giving the creators some exposure as authors, it’s also about making the reveal as exciting and fun for you, the readers, as it is for us.

So onto the nitty gritty details. The rules are posted below, but they are also in the downloadable Jozi Flash ’17 Info Pack. This pack is super-important because it contains all the info you need to solve the clues about where each piece of the cover will be hidden.

We want this to be interactive and entertaining, so when you find a clue on one of the sites, please like it, or leave a comment or follow the author/artist. It’s not compulsory, but it makes our day! 🙂

Also, just in case you don’t adore treasure hunts and wonder why you should bother participating – the winner of the hunt will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card. Which you can spend. On books. Or, you know… anything on Amazon. And that’s pretty cool. 😉

The RULES

  1. Download the #FindJoziFlash17 Info Pack from https://chasingdreamspublishing.wordpress.com
  2. Print page 4 of the Info Pack in order to save details about the hunt.
  3. Read through the pack to get to know the authors and artist (participants), and find their social media links.
  4. One clue will be posted each day starting from the 23rd October 2017 and running until the 2nd November 2017.
  5. The clues will lead to one of the participants’ social media sites and will be posted at random times.
  6. Make a note of who posted each clue on the relevant days and which social media site they used.
  7. Once the cover is revealed on the 2nd November 2017, return to this post and leave a comment listing the order in which the clues appeared.
  8. The competition will be open until midnight GMT+2 on the 3rd November 2017.
  9. The winner will be randomly selected from the correct entries and announced by the 5th November 2017
  10. Friends and family members of the participants are illegible for entry.
  11. The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have a week to claim their prize.
  12. The prize is a $20 Amazon Gift Card and is not exchangeable for cash.
  13. The draw is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

FIRST CLUE: This author shares an initial with Jim Butcher, one of his greatest writing influences. His favourite social media site is Twitter. He will post the second clue there tomorrow, Tuesday 24th October 2017.

Good luck!

Ablaze in Mirth – Matthew Thompson

I was recently given the opportunity to beta read Ablaze in Mirth by Matthew Thompson. A short story, Ablaze in Mirth is a gripping action tale of a vampire enslaved to humans, determined to save himself and his family by any means necessary.

I loved the return to “traditional” vampires, vulnerable to sunlight – a vulnerability which leads to an age-old struggle of life and death in a battlefield created for human entertainment.

The author weaves a tight-paced tale of action balanced by softer emotions that serve no purpose in the struggle to survive.

Ablaze in Mirth is available as a free download on Smashwords.

Ablaze In Mirth

“The humans cheered and booed and bet on us blood suckers. And they enjoyed it too, watching us burn every year in the Nile Valley during the summer solstice, the sun beating down on us, incinerating us like bugs beneath a magnifying glass.”

Once a year, the Ablaze Games attracts thousands of spectators from around the world for a two-week tournament, wherein the winner attains his or her freedom.

Matias Carlos Bassi is one of this year’s contenders, risking his life to gain a better one. And it’s not only in the arenas he must strive to survive; the underground Ablaze Complex leaves its competitors to circulate amongst themselves, including assassins. All of which is televised for the human populace, the current rulers of the world.

Seven arenas separate Matias from becoming the 189th victor. It will mean keeping out of the deathlight, and to kill his fellow kind. But he’s hungrier than ever, and willing to do whatever it takes to remove the shackles from himself and his loved ones.

About the Author

Bio Pic

Matthew Thompson was born in England in 1983, and is the creator of Domino Galaxy, a book series set in an afterworld. He has previously worked in the video games industry as a game and level designer.

You can view his website here: http://dominogalaxy.crevado.com/

Poetry Wednesday – A Jozi Flash 2017 Haiku

A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem consisting of three lines. The first and last lines are made up of five syllables each, the middle line of seven. Apparently, a haiku rarely rhymes which means it’s a poetry form I can actually work with! Hallelujah!

And here is a haiku to prove it:*

Jozi Flash Twenty

Seventeen is due out soon

Working on edits

 

*It’s also the reason this post is so short and why I’m going to be screaming at everyone to stay tuned because, oh my gosh! I’m so excited to reveal the cover in a couple of weeks – but first you have to solve a treasure hunt across all the authors’ social media and I usually hate social media but this is going to be FUN!**

**I’m an editor – I’m allowed run on sentences when I’m this excited.***

***That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.