Monday, May 16, 2016

On Strong Female Characters, Race-Neutral Heroes, and Myriad Personalities - Guest Post by Dan O'Brien.


When I started writing Sixth Prime, I decided early on to do something very deliberate: I would make half the main characters female; I would make sure the personalities better reflected the myriad of the human experience; and I would describe characters without using skin color or any physical identifiers.
You might be wondering: what exactly is the point of that?

Women represent half the population

I would be remiss if I ignored the statistics right in front of me. 82% of readers are female, so why wouldn't you include female characters when so many readers are women. I don't mean the traditional roles of queens and romantic interests; I'm talking about adventurers and villains, scientists and soldiers, and everything in between. The goal should be to tell the best possible story. I waited until I had outlined everything, and then randomly assigned characters as men and women (this includes romantic relationships as well, so buckle your seatbelts).

Personality guides behavior and decision-making.

I went to graduate school for psychology, and as such I've always had a fascination with why people do what they do. This, naturally, translated into thinking about how I could smuggle personality psychology into a narrative. The Prime saga, beginning with Sixth Prime, is an attempt to do just that. I wanted readers to feel like they were represented by one of the characters in such a way that the decisions and consequences felt more real to them.

The reader should decide how the characters look.  


I know it's a long shot, but maybe (just maybe) the Prime Saga becomes a movie or limited series. I bring this up because nothing is worse than people arguing how characters should look or the kinds of actors or actresses who should play them. Really, even if an adaptation is not in order, I love the idea of people coming to their own conclusions about how a character should look based on their choices, personality, and behavior. I want the characters to be defined by how they make readers feel; I want a reader to be able to see themselves in the character and as the character.
Here is the working teaser:
2.3.5.7.11.13.
A war brews as a galaxy struggles to maintain a peace treaty signed in haste. The Commonwealth boasts sprawling cities built upon slums. The Sovereignty has placed the yoke of industry upon its citizens. Sixteen men and women are connected in a way they cannot yet understand. A murder of a prominent artist begins a chain of events that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe.
Only thirteen will remain.
In the end, there can be only one Prime.
Are you a Prime?
Interested yet? I sure hope so. If you are, then how about a brief excerpt? Check it out at: http://authordanobrien.com/2016/03/05/preview-of-sixth-prime/
Perhaps you want to pre-order the Kindle version for only $2.99? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENLPOVG

Monday, May 9, 2016

Recent Grads: Nine Books That Can Help to Tackle the World Ahead of You - Guest post by Jason Phillips.


Reading is an important skill and a valuable way to spend your spare time; this is true no matter whether you are a child or a pensioner. Reading will broaden your vocabulary, improve your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure, your knowledge of a subject and they are also an excellent way to improve your cognitive skills and your ability to think outside the box. The following nine books are essential reads for any recent grad; they will help you to prepare for life in the real world.

1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Frazen’s “Freedom” is a witty novel that confronts issues of friendship or love. The book deals with a love triangle which first starts at college and leaves the protagonist with just one option, friendship or love. Everyone should consider the implications of this decision and how they would react 















2. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“This Side of Paradise” is a book that deals with an issue that affects every recent graduate - life after college and during college. Faced with the task of having to reassess yourself, your beliefs and even your goals, it is easy to become disillusioned. The book will help recent grads find the right path forward.















3. 1984 by George Orwell

“1984” is the kind of book that every youngster should read at least once in their life. It was written decades ago, when 1984 was still in the future. Its picture of the future is surprisingly accurate and raises a serious issue for all recent grads. Will you become a part of the system or will you retain your individuality and choose your own path?















4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dpstoyevsky

This famous story tells the tale of a student who kills an elderly pawnbroker and his attempts to rationalize his actions. As you read you will start to question the moral laws imposed on society and their real place in the world. Not everything is as it seems.















5. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“A Brave New World” takes a look at a future utopia where everyone is happy.  The cost of this happiness is individuality.  It raises an important question, is it possible to be happy whilst being the same as everyone else?  As a recent grad you have unlimited potential, are you prepared to follow your own path and fight the system?












6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Imagine a future where, no matter what you do, you are doomed to be lonely. Love may be everywhere but it is fatal. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” will remind you of the importance of family and true friends.













7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous Great Gatsby deals with the epic highs of life and the disillusionment that comes when it all falls apart. Sometimes you have to know your limits and what you can still achieve. The past is gone and cannot be changed; only the present and the future matter.














8. Lolita by Vladamir Nobokov

“Lolita” tell us the story of a young man’s encounter with a nymphet, and the forbidden love that he simply cannot resist. As the story develops and decisions are made you will gain an understanding and a compassion for his actions. Sometimes in modern society, sacrifice and forgiveness are looked at as weaknesses; in fact they are a forgotten yet vital trait.












9. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom’s Cabin” has received equal amounts of praise and criticism, but it is an important part of the history of many colleges in the United States. It deals with a difficult part of American history and how the values and principles of this great nation arose; and how they have changed.














By Jason Phillips and LoveReading.co.uk!



Monday, May 2, 2016

Excerpt from The Last Girl by Joe Hart!

BEFORE . . .

 “As of today we don’t have any solid factual data or numbers to speak of concerning the phenomena. We are working tirelessly with the World Health Organization as well as the Attorney General’s office. Everyone can rest assured that we will issue a statement soon, and in the meantime we’re doing everything we can to identify the cause.” —Cameron West, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, January 2017

"I think what most people are missing is the fact that this isn’t a localized event. This is global, and it happened overnight. To my knowledge no one—not a scientist, not a government official, and not a single news source—has come up with a satisfying explanation for what’s happening.” 
—Ramona Chandler, independent journalist for The Underground, May 2017

 “The National Obstetric Alliance that was formed early last year has made significant progress in determining the cause of the so-called ‘drought of female births.’ I can honestly say that we are on the verge of understanding the origin of this occurrence, and we implore the American people as well as citizens throughout the world to remain calm and strong in the face of this unprecedented challenge. An answer is very near.” 
—Benson Andrews, 45th President of the United States of America, February 2018

NT: In your opinion, what truly caused the uprising in Harrisburg?
FW: (draws on cigarette) Limits.

NT: Limits?

FW: Yeah, limits. Everyone has theirs, you know? When the induction into NOA’s research program went from voluntary to mandatory, that’s what did it. It pushed people past their limits. This is America, for God’s sake, the land of the free. But suddenly we’re being told that all women who’ve given birth to baby girls in the last five years have to report to one of NOA’s reception complexes, or else? (shakes his head) No way. No way were people going to put up with that. Listen, I’ve heard stories of armed raiding groups taking entire families from their beds at night. here is a woman in New York who said her eight-month-old daughter was taken from her crib and that a government official contacted her the next morning warning her not to take action. And then of course there was the Divinity cult that Senator Jesperson was associated with in Texas that was exterminating newborn boys in its membership. They thought that this was all God’s work, and if they kept killing male infants the females would start being born again. I mean, this doesn’t sound like the United States at all, at least not the one that I’m familiar with.

NT: There hasn’t been a female birthrate report released in over six months now. The last one put the percentage at one in one hundred thousand. Would you say that’s correct?

FW: (laughs) Are you kidding? One in a hundred thousand? Try one in ten million. That’s the last statistic I saw before resigning, and by all accounts it was getting worse. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new data shows one in a hundred million. When the masses start to realize what’s happening, there’s going to be war.

NT: You predict there will be more uprisings like in Pennsylvania?

FW: Slaughter. Call it what it was. A slaughter of American citizens by their government. And yes, this is only the beginning.
—Excerpt from NewsTime interview with Foster White, former Undersecretary to the Attorney General’s office, ten days before his disappearance, June 2018

“The rebellion’s a tide, just like whatever the hell happened to the baby girls. You can’t stop it.” 
—Anonymous rebel soldier, November 2018

No women
No babies
No hope
—Graffiti on the Washington Monument, December 2018

About The Last Girl
A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.

About the Author
Joe Hart was born and raised in northern Minnesota. Having dedicated himself to writing horror and thriller fiction since the tender age of nine, he is now the author of eight novels that include The River Is DarkLineage, and EverFallThe Last Girl is the first installment in the highly anticipated Dominion Trilogy and once again showcases Hart’s knack for creating breathtaking futuristic thrillers.

When not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, exploring the great outdoors, and watching movies with his family. For more information on his upcoming novels and access to his blog, visit www.joehartbooks.com.




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Old Flames / Right to Life


Title/Author: Old Flames and Right To Life by Jack Ketchum.

Genre: Dark Fiction.

Publisher: Leisure Books.

Source: Purchased.

Synopsis:If you are familiar with Jack Ketchum you probably understand that you will find a dark, gritty, harsh and many times bloody story.The novellas Old Flames and Right to Life is no different.  


Old Flames starts with Dora, a woman who, disappointed with every relationship she's ever been in, looks up her college boyfriend.  Even though he is married with two children, she schemes to insinuate herself into his life.  This story may have gone into another direction if the ex boyfriend had made different choices, but then we would not have been allowed to see the downward spiral of this reunion and Dora herself.   Tragic and heartbreaking, Old Flames shows how a manipulative and delusional person can destroy not just a family, but her own life as well.

Right to Life was dark and twisted in a different way.  More of a Criminal Minds than the above Law and Order.   Okay maybe a lot worse than any Criminal Minds episode I've ever seen.  Looking at the cover to this novella basically shows you the premise.  Sara Foster finds out she is pregnant and is kidnapped right outside of an abortion clinic.  Her two kidnappers have an agenda and a twisted way to keep her in line and obedient.  The relationship between her and her two kidnappers twist and change as she struggles to hold on to her life and her sanity.  This story is pretty brutal, so why did I keep reading it?  I wanted to see if Sara survives and escapes.  I wanted to find out if the kidnappers turn on each other.  I simply wanted to see how it ended.  (Warning: This story is very graphic.)



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Talking Dead liked my Tweet!!!

I would like to thank everyone who made this moment possible!

 liked your Tweet
7m:
"I don't take chances...anymore."


Addendum:  Is this real?  Have they liked two of my tweets?

  and  liked your Tweet
2m
I also LOVE when Denise Huth is on



Monday, February 8, 2016

Guest Post by Spencer John - Power Grid Failure and Natural Disasters Are All Too Real in The 5th Wave


The 5th Wave explores what might happen in a world of massive power outages, natural disasters and invasion. Although there is a general taste for post-apocalyptic novels and movies, The 5th Wave sets itself apart based on its perspective. It follows the Old Testament plague storyline of a population being attacked again and again by various deluges - a power grid failure, avian flu, a massive tsunami and even extraterrestrial body snatchers. In some fashion, we have experienced all of these things in our actual lives, and this is what makes The 5th Wave so poignant. 

As aliens make their presence on Earth know through these “waves” of attack, the story follows 16 year old Cassie (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) on a race to rescue her younger brother (Zackary Arthur) from an alien-run training camp. In the first wave, all electronics completely stopped working. The movie was perhaps ahead of its time in showing how dependent everyone had become on technology. Humanity was completely defenseless against the attacks - communication was shut down and no one knew what to do without their machines.

In the second wave, steel beams fall on the major fault lines around the world, followed by tsunamis that wiped out about a quarter of the population around the world. The true horror of this part of the movie occurs as people think back to the earthquakes that so easily destroy even the most powerful and sturdy of human creations. The third wave attacked the population on the cellular level. An avian flu overtook the world in the same way that Ebola did and the current Zika virus is. Although Ebola did not have near the same effect that the avian flu had in the movie, the fear and panic was undoubtedly similar.

 Finally, in the fourth wave, the aliens came down and began to physically possess human bodies. Once humanity had been weakened to the point of no defense, the aliens felt no fear in coming down and initiating a frontal attack. The possession turned humanity on itself as a civil war of sorts began between family members and friends.

 While not that great of a movie overall, the really interesting thing about The 5th Wave is the realistic energy threats it presents - these things could happen in real life! The power grid failure in the first wave of attack calls attention to the power outages that have happened around the world as well as the vulnerability of the American power grid. According to Direct Energy, the US power grid is using over ten percent more power than it was a decade ago, and experiencing more than 210 blackout minutes per year. Huge blackouts in Pakistan and North Holland showcased just how dependent humanity has become on its electric grids, and it’s scary to think that humanity was weakened so much by the power outages that no one was prepared for the plagues that came after!

Not only are blackouts a constant worry and inconvenience, but hacking and EMP attacks have been concerns of the government for years,  especially now that our dependency on machines has skyrocketed. The entire power grid could be dismantled by an electromagnetic pulse from a high altitude nuclear bomb, terrorist hackers could easily disable the grid due to lack of upgrades and safety regulations and let’s not forget how susceptible it is to major forces of weather. But not only does The 5th Wave touch on technological failure, climate change is brought front and center through natural disasters with catastrophic results.

Although The 5th Wave presents a compelling and exciting take on a dystopia, fans of the novel source material were slightly disappointed in it’s adaptation. The movie had less detail than the source material; however, the visuals and stellar performances from a talented cast definitely added a level of immersion that the book simply could not have. While an overall entertaining storyline and watch overall, if we really take the message of The 5th Wave seriously, we all have some serious changes to make in our lives to avoid an attack of our own!


Spencer John is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Midnight Crossings - Audio

Title/Author: Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris.

Read by: Susan Bennett.

Genre: Supernatural.

Publisher:  Recorded Books.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth...~Goodreads.com.

Midnyte Musings:  This is not a book I expected to enjoy as much as I did.  It had a lot of characters that were not fully developed,  a lot of point of views and a lot of the events felt forced.  However, I followed it closely and enjoyed it immensely.

The characters were quirky and different enough to differentiate between each other.  The book starts out with one of the characters moving to the small town of Midnight and discovering that a small town holds big secrets.  I thought the story would follow him mainly, but it was really about several different characters.  The main theme in this installment is the murder of Aubrey.   

I don't feel anyone was placed in the story that did not have a role.  It also contained a lot of serious issues yet did it in a manner that was easy to follow; murder, militarism, racism.  For a tiny town, a lot happens and Midnight seems like an interesting place to live.

One of my favorite parts about this book was Fiji Cavanaugh's cat, Mr. Snuggly.  I'm not going to say any more, but even if you hate everything else in the book, Mr. Snuggly makes up for it.

Narration:  I have to admit, that I can't guarantee I would have liked the book as much if I had read it instead of listened to it.  Susan Bennett did a good job trying to differentiate between the characters and she moved the story along.  Again, my favorite part - the voice of Mr. Snuggly.

A fun, light read.  You could probably finish this one very fast.


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