Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beneath the Willows: Excellent Short Horror Story

Beneath the WillowBeneath the Willow by Gemma Farrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gemma Farrow's undead offering is a short, well-written story about the triumph of hope over reality. Thomas wants life back as it was before his beloved girlfriend, Keziah, was attacked. And now, in dreams, a strange figure describes for Keziah certain actions that Thomas must take on her behalf. Devotion wars with truth. Will she again be the girl he loved or something quite different, quite frightening?

Farrow's pacing and sharp focus kept me turning the pages. Characters were, for the most part, well drawn. Give this short story a shot.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jury Doody at Smashwords

Smashwords now hosts Jury Doody. Scroll down the page past my interview with myself and observer the pretty purchase icon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Comedy-Mystery Banana Bamboozle

 Cassidy Dunne is out to solve a mystery. The only problem is the disorganized personality of Cassidy Dunne. Did her niece survive a fire? Can she save her best friend from ruin? Is there enough candy to sugar-rush her past life's bumpy spots? Find out more in this comedy-mystery by author Becky Clark with help from Ted Hardwick.

Ted and I did improv together back in the day and the guy's a blast. Give Banana Bamboozle a peek and treat yourself to a fun read.

Morongo Makes Losing Fun

If you live in Southern California and must drop a few bucks—and that's all we had to drop—then I recommend Morongo. Past Banning on Interstate 10, the place shoots up from the desert floor like a leftover set from Gattaca. Located between the snowy peaks of Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio, the casino sports a nice view west of the windmill farm. Yeah, they had slots and table games and video roulette, but they possessed something else I hadn't encountered in a good long while: customer service. Even the ladies cleaning up the rooms smiled and said 'good morning.' The staff was so friendly, I wondered if it weren't some kind of set-up.

Here's how far behind the gaming curve I was: last time I visited a casino, slot machines still accepted coins. Nowadays you feed your money in, lose for awhile, then  press Cash Out,  and—if there's any left—get a paper slip listing the amount. Then you insert that slip into another machine—a lucky machine—and play down what's left. The strong willed march that slip to an ATM-like machine that pays real money. Farewell to the clang-clang-clang of coins hitting a steel tray. Very 21st Century.

Anyway, my wife and I had a blast. No family reunions. No place to be. And great WiFi so we could sit in the same room, on the same bed, and surf the Web.  In addition, there was an In-And-Out Burger within a block of the place. Thus our needs were met on multiple fronts.

Now I've got animated assignments and a book to upload to Smashwords. But getting away for the first time in years was fantastic. So refreshing was the experience, that we returned home and forgot to be resentful of our noisy neighbors.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Fetterman Massacre

The Fetterman MassacreThe Fetterman Massacre by Dee Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating description of the U.S. Army's 1866 construction of Ft. Phil Kearny and the subsequent massacre of a detachment that left no survivors. Based on Army records and firsthand accounts, the narrative builds to an ambush by two thousand Sioux of Captain William Fetterman and his 80 cavalry and infantry.

While hardened veterans of the Civil War, Fetterman and most of his officers had no experience fighting Sioux and Arapaho, but plenty of confidence in their own martial abilities. At the same time, Fetterman's commanding officer had no Civil War combat experience, thus was held in low-esteem by several subordinates, including Fetterman.

Events surrounding the ambush bookend this history, but much of the tale involves traveling across the prairie from Nebraska to the site of the fort in Wyoming Territory. Soldiers had been encouraged to bring their wives and these women kept diaries. Author Dee Brown expertly weaves their observations into the story, providing a valuable peek into the beauty and harshness of life on the frontier almost one-hundred and fifty years ago.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Smashwords Formatting, Free eBook Giveaway, and Book Reviews

Writing on all fronts languishes. In animation, new studio leadership and extensive paperwork respectively stall assignments. In eBook town, my Little Book of Big Enlightenment has improved with rewrites, but grown longer. Rebuilding it to conform to Smashwords is a drag. Minor tech-like things always compel me to Web surf. But I'll finish up this week.

Pleasantly surprised by the five-day Jury Doody giveaway. Three additional five-star reviews and a total of 1, 096 downloads. Since the promotion ended last Saturday, I've sold four more copies. These aren't astounding numbers by any stretch, but small pieces in a larger mosaic that takes form over time.

Book and Kindle reading has accelerated lately. Four new books in  horror,  sci-fi,  literature and history are read and crying out for review.

I'd rather be writing, but formatting and social promotion won't take care of themselves. I've tried. Give them space and they still won't conform. Such is the way of things. As Hyman Roth said, "This is the business we have chosen."

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Review: Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans

The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for EuropeThe Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe by Andrew Wheatcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable narrative on the clash between the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires in 1683. A high-water mark for Ottoman conquest in Europe, the Turks were forced back by a Hapsburg counterattack and compelled to surrender Hungary.

Most fascinating for me was the tactical differences between the two armies and the effect of the printing press on Western military development. Turks were hand-to-hand masters who surged forward in a mob, while Hapsburg forces maneuvered in mass thanks to drills codified and disseminated in manuals. Thus Western generals kept more control over their forces once a battle commenced.

The book seemed uneven, with great behind the scenes research on both sides up to the climax at Vienna. Afterwards, the focus shifted to the Hapsburg reconquest of Central Europe, reconciliation between two second-class empires, and, the final irony, alliance against the allies in World War I. All covered very rapidly.

That said, Wheatcroft's book is accessible to students of the era and novices such as myself. A worthwhile competent history.

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eBook Daily Promotes Jury Doody

Well-read folk at eBook Daily gave Jury Doody a shout-out on their main page. Scroll down to Memoirs and Biographies.

On this last day of my free give away, Jury Doody still holds the #1 spot in Humorous Essays:
And #2 in True Crime.

I'm at 916 copies downloaded and feeling pretty confident that I'll crack 1k and pick up a few more reviews. And a pleasant Saturday to you! 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Jury Doody@Amazon, Still #1 Humorous Essays

What will I talk about today? Oh, well, there's always my eBook,  Jury Doody. Since Tuesday morning, I've held the #1 spot in free Humorous Essays and now stand at #2 in True Crime. With one day to go, I've been pleased with the outcome. Almost 550 copies have been downloaded, resulting in three more positive reviews. I only wish I had another book uploaded. Otherwise, can't—and won't—complain.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Free eBook Still #1 at Amazon, Adds 'True Crime' Category

A day later and still trending up, Jury Doody cracks the top 1,000 in free eBook giveaways. As of this morning, add #1 in 'True Crime' to #1 in 'Humorous Essay.' Few people buy what I write, but a great many enjoy reading my work free. Some leave positive reviews. I've found a niche!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Free eBook Hits #1 on Amazon

As of 1:57 Pacific Time, Jury Doody was:

Free eBook Nears Top of Amazon Rankings

Did I say #3?
That was so last-hour of me.
 I meant #2. 
Amazon Best Sellers
Our most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly.

Best Sellers in Humor Essays

Jury Doody
Kindle Edition

Free eBook Climbs to #3

Like a phoenix, Jury Doody rises to the third spot on Amazon's list of free humorous essays. A fun little work about on odd domestic violence trial in Los Angeles, it's captured the public's imagination provided there's no cost. Not to slight to those who purchased a copy, but I found myself in a use-it-or-lose-it situation with Kindle Direct Publishing.

 KDP requires your book be exclusive to Amazon for ninety days. But one of the perks is a five day window in which you may offer your ebook free of charge. This pays off  best when you have other books available. I had hoped to have another title up before the giveaway, but "The Little Book" is not so little anymore. As I'm not renewing with Kindle Direct, and the free days don't rollover, I had to go "free" before Saturday.

So grab a copy today. Or, if matters are pressing, by Saturday. Learn more about a case involving spousal abuse, cell phone abuse, and strange glottal wailing. Only in LA.