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:
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:
Perhaps you want to pre-order the Kindle version for only $2.99?

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!

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

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