CD Malcom

REVIEW: Wool Part 1 by Hugh Howey 4 Moons

Wool Part 1

I have to admit, I picked up this book without knowing anything about Hugh Howey, or the hype surrounding this series. I guess I was living in my own personal indie book Silo, sheltered from the realities of the outside world (e.g. the intense fanfare Wool has received since its release in 2011). Now that I’ve finally mustered up the courage to put on my cleaning suit and go outside, I can say that I am in LOVE with the world Howey created.

When it comes to creating a really detailed and believable dystopian universe, the author usually has to force the reader through some fairly thick description and a lengthy setup before being able to really dig into the characters and the story. Wool (Silo #1A) is extraordinary in this respect, because Howey manages to set up the universe, characters, and execute a plot in an incredibly short amount of time (it took me only a few hours to read it). For those of you who are impatient for action and a story line, this is the series for you. Howey’s writing is simple and transparent, yet somehow creates an incredibly rich world right from the very beginning.

Now for some SPOILERS….

READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK

 

I love this book because Howey tricked me. He messed with my mind and he made me go a little bit looney like Sheriff Holston did over the three years since his wife’s death. By the time he was in the airlock, about to go out for a little bit of scrubbing and a lot a bit of truth, Holston and I were both fully convinced that something wonderful existed outside of the silo. Our expectations were of course confirmed once he stepped outside, but a few pages later, Howey took it all away. I almost wonder if he was laughing at his future readers as he wrote the final chapter. I got duped and I absolutely love it.

The only critique I need to mention, an issue that is far too common in dystopian stories, is how unrealistically orderly people are in complying to the Silo’s strict laws. Sure, people do occasionally break the rules and are sent out for a cleaning, and the records indicate that there have been some rebellions throughout history, but humans are just not that organized. I’m not convinced that some punk teenager, or even an adult in fit of rage, would not make the mistake of saying they want to go outside, no matter what the consequences may be.

After finishing the book, I am left with nothing but an intense curiosity to know more about what does, and does not, exist beyond the screens of the Silo. Are there other Silos? What happened to the outside world so long ago? I must know the answer to these questions.

Luckily the next book is only $0.99.

 

CD MalcomC.D. Malcom is an avid reader of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Mystery/Thriller novels. She also holds a master’s degree in Anthropology and is a freelance writer and editor.

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Interview With Author And Filmmaker, Greg Sisco

When you wrote Thicker Than Water and created your characters, did you envision it as a series of books from the start?

Not at all. The catalyst for Blood Brothers was in May of 2006. I was working as an extra on a movie set with a friend. We were both dressed as gumshoes, wearing trench coats with our hair slicked back, and he caught our reflection in a car window and said, “Dude, we look like vampires.” And over the course of the next three or four hours, we dreamed up the main characters, their relationship, the title, and I just fell in love with the idea.

Initially it was going to be a movie, a ten-minute short film. But I never have any idea what I’m dealing with on a project until I start writing. They usually end up bigger than I’m expecting, and this one was like that to the point of absurdity. The plan went from a ten-minute short film to a full-length film, to three full-length films, to a gigantic tome of a novel, and finally to four shorter novels, two of which are finally done. By the time I published the first one in October of 2011 I’d already been working on the damn thing for over five years. I’m hoping I can hit the finish line before a decade is up.

Can you tell me who your ideal reader is?

I don’t know if you’re supposed to say this, but I don’t really like to think about the reader. In general, I love books. And individually, there are a lot of books I like, but to find one I can really fall in love with, that’s a rare thing. So when I start thinking, “Jesus, there sure aren’t many vampire books I can get behind. Someone needs to do one where…” you know, whatever. I’ll have that thought and then I’ll think, “Hey, wait! I’m someone!”

So it all comes from trying to create the books that I’m looking for and can’t find. And the only way I know of to do that is to make the ideal reader me. Some fourteen-year-old girl in Michigan who loves punk rock and just broke up with her first boyfriend, how the hell should I know what she wants in a vampire novel? But I know exactly what the fuck I want! That’s one thing I know better than anyone else on the planet.

Of course, at the same time, I’m the ONLY person who I know 100% for certain will NOT buy a copy of my book. But almost everything that I love, all of my favorite movies and books and albums, there are a lot of other people who love them too. I’m not usually the only schmuck cheerleading something. So my theory is if I do right by Greg, there seem to be some other Gregs out there.

That said, in the interest of marketing, I’d have to say that my ideal reader is whoever is reading this right now.

When did you decide that you were a writer?

Oh, come on. You don’t DECIDE to be a writer. You just start having thoughts about it and gradually realize you always were. And then you have to come out to your parents: “Mom, Dad… I’m a writer.” You’ve got to hope they don’t start crying, or that they don’t go, “Maybe you just haven’t found the right middle management job yet,” or, “You know, my friend down the street has a daughter who’s starting an accounting firm…”

Anyway, I don’t remember exactly what the first story I wrote was, but I know it was in second grade. We had to write stories every week in class and for the first two or three weeks I tried to tell stories of things that had happened to me in real life, but I was seven years old so obviously I had zero goddamn life experience. I complained to the teacher that I couldn’t think of any more stories and she said, “Make one up.” Somehow that had just never occurred to me. It was like there’d been a gas leak in my head my whole life and someone finally flipped the starter switch.

I already loved stories already by then. Movies, books, whatever. But it was just a moment of “THIS is where books come from? Somebody just makes up whatever shit he wants and writes it down? And I can do it too?! Why isn’t everyone doing this?” I think I’ve had at least one major project I was working on every day since then. Most of them up to about age 20 sucked, obviously, but it’s just been there. Every day when I’m walking around there are stories being developed in my head. I don’t think I could stop if I tried.

What is your favorite word and why?

There’s a French phrase: l’esprit de l’escalier. Literally, “staircase wit.” It’s basically a word for a comeback that you don’t think of until it’s too late. When you lose an argument and you walk away feeling like an idiot and then an hour later you’re eating lunch and you go, “Goddamnit! That’s what I should’ve said!” That’s l’esprit de l’escalier. I love it because my mind works really slowly and practically my entirely life has been composed of thinking of clever things to say about shit that happened twenty minutes ago. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I write.

Almost every writer puts a piece of themselves in their book. What part of you is in Blood Brothers?

There’s a fair amount of me in their philosophies toward life. A big challenge in that series was to try to take an objective look at human life, and that’s done through characters who have been around for a millennium and who have to kill people constantly in order to live so they’re emotionally detached. So to say that their view of humanity is similar to mine sounds really fucked up, but… I mean, in some ways. They view life as this incredible gift but at the same time they feel like, looking around at humanity, almost nobody’s really worthy of it. People just waste it. They’re born into the world, they get a few decades to spend however they want, and they just end up pissing it away working jobs they don’t like, living in cities they want to leave, surrounding themselves with people they don’t get along with. And Loki sees comedy in that while Tyr maybe sees a little more tragedy and even some hope in the form of Eva, but I think I see all of the above. So there’s a bit of me in them. I haven’t drank a pretty girl’s blood yet, but I’m not ruling it out.

What writer influenced you the most?

George Carlin is the guy who comes to mind who really made me fall in love with words. Not just the way he’d put them together for a really showy piece like “Modern Man” or “Advertising Lullaby” but the way he’d break them down and analyze them, or he’d make observations about the words we use in everyday speech and the hidden meanings in them, or the redundancies or oxymorons that were present. I just couldn’t get enough of that stuff.

He also had this attitude I loved. I saw an interview where he said something along the lines of, “I decided to root against species and that freed me up as a comedy writer.” I thought that was fascinating. To be able to place yourself in opposition to mankind and use that stance as a force for humor. I don’t know if I’d say I root against our species, necessarily — I hold contradictory beliefs where I’m really cynical but still optimistic and I get by pretty happily with one foot in each world — but I think there’s a little of that Carlin nihilism in my writing sometimes.

What is your best advice for a reader that is considering a career in writing?

The rewards you think you’re going to get — fame, wealth, recognition, whatever — you’re not going to get them. You can’t make it about those. The reward you’re going to get is the book itself, so make it one you can be proud of. Do. Not. Pull. Punches.

You shouldn’t even consider a career in writing unless you love writing. And if you love writing and you want to continue to love writing, you have to be sure you’re writing for yourself. A lot of ‘aspiring writers’ are full of fears. “Critics wouldn’t like the book I really want to write.” “This sub-genre isn’t very popular anymore.” “What would my friends and family think?” You have to set all that aside. The critics, your friends, your family, they can all go fuck themselves. This isn’t about them. It’s about writing the truest version possible of the book that’s demanding you write it. You can’t go halfway on this.

When you take the project that you can’t stop thinking about and you sit it on the back burner and say “Maybe when I’m more established or I’m more confident or when I’m this or that,” you’re doing it wrong. That easier-to-write second-choice book or that watered-down version of what’s in your heart it will be a slog to write and it will suck when it’s done because you didn’t listen to the writer inside you and write the thing it told you to write. But if you do listen to that voice, if you write the book you want to write instead of the book you think the world wants you to write, not only will you enjoy it more, but because you enjoy it more it will be easier to get it done and you’ll write a better book.

And remember: that’s the reward. Set it on your shelf and smile at it. When it doesn’t make you rich and famous, at least you’ll know you wrote the best goddamn book you could.

You can connect with Greg on his blog. GregSisco.com

Ready to try Greg Sisco’s Series? Both books are free on Smashwords.

Download them HERE.
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Broken Realms

Interview With Fantasy Author D. W. Moneypenny

Broken RealmsConnie Brentford: Can you tell me who your ideal reader is for the Chronicles of Mara Lantern series?

D. W. Moneypenny:  To be honest with you, I didn’t have a particular kind of reader in mind when I wrote Broken Realms. Now, since the book has been completed and has gone through the editing and packaging process, I’ve gotten a lot of opinions about who the “ideal” reader for the book would be. When I was completing the first draft, I started reading a YA fantasy book by Mark Frost called The Paladin Prophecy. That was the first time that it occurred to me that Broken Realms might be a Young Adult book, but I didn’t dwell on it.

A couple of months later, I got the edits back from the developmental editor (Gary Smailes at Bubblecow.net, an absolute genius).One of the first things he mentioned was it struck him as a Young Adult novel and that I should consider making Mara a couple of years younger. I didn’t have a problem with doing that, so I did. Other than that, I didn’t try to “youngify” the book or try to patronize younger readers by writing down to them in any way.

Since the book has been published, I’m not getting the impression that it is gathering an exclusively or even primarily Young Adult readership, whatever that might be.

I guess the short answer would be anyone who enjoys contemporary fantasy would be the ideal reader.

CB: When you wrote the first book and created the character Mara Lantern did you envision it as a series of books from the start?

DWM: Yes, the plan was to produce a series. The combination of alternate realities and the “system of magic” that make up Mara Lantern’s world could not be reasonably recounted in a single book. The plan for now is to write seven full-length books.

BOOK 1 Broken Realms

CB: What are the major themes in your novel?

DWM: Hmmm. The major theme is acceptance, letting go of skepticism. We have to embrace reality in order to deal with it, even if that reality doesn’t match our expectations. Too nebulous? Mara might say, metaphysical.

CB: Do you read other genres or do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write?

DWM: I’ve never been a genre-specific reader. I read everything from Edgar Rice Burroughs to John Grisham and Dean Koontz. I generally don’t read in the genre in which I’m writing at the moment, so while I’m working on the Mara Lantern series, I’ll most likely read something other than fantasy, unless something compelling pops up.

CB: What would you say was your best day as a writer?

DWM: I was a newspaper reporter and editor for about 15 years, but I think I would be hard pressed to pick a single day from that particular part of my life. In terms of this chapter of my life (writing fiction), it has barely gotten started, but so far I would have to say it was the day that I got my first feedback from my editor. He sent a written report with feedback along with the edits. The specificity of the feedback in terms of how I might go about improving the concepts and the world I was creating in Broken Realms was absolutely wonderful. I never expected to get that level of feedback and it boosted my enthusiasm for the project a great deal at a time that I needed the encouragement.

CB:  When did you decide that you were a writer?

DWM: On some level, I think I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I knew I wanted to go into journalism since before I was in high school, and even back then I talked about writing a book. For me, it has always been there, so there wasn’t a specific moment in time I can point to.

CB:  Almost every writer puts a piece of themselves in their book. What part of you is in your book?

DWM: If you read skepticism or sarcasm in something I write, that’s me. There’s some of that in the book, particularly in Mara’s character.

CB:  What is one thing that people may not know about you?

DWM: It’s not the writing part of creating fiction I enjoy the most, it’s the imagination part – sitting around dreaming this stuff up. That’s what I like the most, taking a situation or a character and twisting it, just a little, to make it something you can’t wait to tell someone about.

Broken Realms (The Chronicles of Mara Lantern, Book 1) is available on Amazon.

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Interview With Author Karly Kirkpatrick

Karly Kirkpatrick and I have been social media friends for several years. After being impressed with her humor and several other things she discussed, I bought some of her books. I fell in love with her Bloody Little Secrets series. Her teen heroine, Vicki Hernandez, is a funny, quirky, authentic teenager. In the first few […]

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Interview With Thriller Author Martha Carr

I’m impressed with author, Martha Carr. I’m impressed with the quality of her writing and her reasons for creating the Wallis Jones series of books which includes, THE LIST and the newly released follow-up book, THE KEEPER. Besides being a political thriller author, she writes a nationally syndicated column on politics, is a cancer survivor, […]

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Want to travel the world as a writer? Meet Author Teresa Roberts

Teresa Roberts is an author I admire. I can’t remember where on the internet we met,  but as a traveler and a writer, I found her to be not only a kindred spirit but a person who lives an examined life.  There’s a lot to admire about the writer’s life she has created and to […]

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March To A Bestseller

If you’re a writer like I am, you read a lot a of blogs related to the craft of writing and you buy books on craft, publishing and book marketing. A bunch of us have banded together and on the last day of February we will lower our Writing, Publishing, Book Marketing and Entrepreneurship books […]

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Pattaya, Thailand

A Fabulous Year And A New One To Come

This year went fast! I didn’t really take stock until Facebook sent me the link to my 2013 Year In Review. Thank goodness Facebook tracks where I’m going and what I’m doing because I don’t. In the interest of explaining this writer’s life, I’d like to share some of the highlights of the year with […]

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My Best Advice For Authors In The Coming Year

Make Your Own Rules You can change your mind anytime, about anything. You don’t have to do the same things in 2014 that you did in 2013. Take stock of what worked, what didn’t and clear the table. Give yourself permission to write a different book, in a different genre. Just try it! If you’re […]

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Social Media Is Not Always About You

Social Media is an important part of your author platform. It’s where you get to be engaging beyond what you write in your books. Social media is about sharing content and building relationships and if the only content you’re sharing is your own, you’re missing out on two huge opportunities. When you share the great […]

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What Pen Name Should You Choose?

One of the questions I get asked a lot from new writers is whether they should have a pen name. Usually, they’ve already decided they want one, they just want to know more about the process of picking a name. Here are some tips for name picking and a few things to consider if you […]

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If You Are An Aspiring Author You Have Positioned Yourself For Success

In the last few years, the self-publishing and marketing process has changed drastically. Many techniques authors used to publish and market books two years ago, are no longer done. Self-published authors can assume what they’re doing right now to make a living and sell books will no longer be applicable two years from now. As […]

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Keep Your Cover Off The ‘Bad Ebook Cover’ Pinterest Board

I don’t think there is any good argument for a cheesy cover and as an author myself, it’s pretty easy to spot the self-made covers by authors with no design skills. Indie covers are much better than they used to be, but readers are more savvy too and bad covers make them pre-judge the writing […]

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Learn Book Marketing From Facebook Groups

Writers like writing groups. We like to congregate with the like-minded to commiserate (who, us?), share tips, critiques and success. Because of my nomadic lifestyle, Facebook groups have been especially helpful to me over the last two years. You can learn the latest book marketing techniques, ask questions and offer advice of your own. Indie […]

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