Archive | October, 2015

Innovative Publishing Co ‘Book In A Box’ Enables Everyone to be an Author

26 Oct

The publishing business is fraught with dysfunction, and the old way of doing business is being disrupted on all sides. Now, published author and infamous “bad boy” Tucker Max (most notably, the author & producer of “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” book & movie) has founded Book in a Box – a company that helps people author & publish their own books. Most effective in the context of non-fiction, the company is an efficient pathway for those who have wisdom to share, specific goals for their book (e.g., increase visibility, become a thought leader, drive business, etc.) and about $15k to spend on the process.

What I have seen from my experience with the publishing business as a whole, and authors specifically, is that most fail to answer the most basic questions: who will read this book and what value will it provide to them? Both the creation of the book and the marketing that should go along with that are based on these fundamentals.

Following their own advice, the founders have published ‘The Book in a Box Method’ giving aspiring authors the complete process. You can do this on your own, but if that seems overwhelming, you can work with BIAB, their writers and editors, designers and marketers, and get a book published. The book is available for free download from their site (Amazon sells the Kindle version for $2.99).

Putting a pin in whatever feelings you may have about Tucker Max based on his previous books & persona, this process – whether done directly or via their company – is a very clear, step by step way to accomplish the often insurmountable task of facing a blank page and pushing through to write a book. As the BIAB Method says “nothing is good until its finished.”

The thinking behind the process, book and the company is smart and relevant. The writing itself is clear (they followed their own advice) and is useful not only to those thinking of taking this path, but also for anyone looking for overall writing (and content creation of any type) advice. Recommended.


The Undays of Aralias Lyons: Steampunk, Time Travel, Magical Creatures

24 Oct

There is A LOT going on in this first novel from author K.L. Horvath. When the book opens, you are dropped into this Victorian steampunk world, with characters that can time travel, and the creatures that are after them. I kept feeling like I’d missed the first two books that would have set this up – but this is the first book in the series. There are multiple characters and creatures and rules of time travel – worthy of Harry Potter several books in!
Overall, I’d rate this a 3.5 star book – really interesting concepts but some issues with the pacing. At times the dialog goes on and on, while the action sequences whiz by – a function, perhaps, of a first novel. If this were adapted to a film script, the first job of the screenwriter would be to figure out how to streamline all the moving parts.
Definitely worth reading but be prepared for a bit of bumpy-ness. Excited by the author’s imagination, and eager to see what comes next.

Children of the Comet: science fiction from Donald Moffitt

24 Oct

Children of the Comet weaves together the story of the people that fled a dying Earth via hyper speed ships, and those that developed a primitive society based in the trees that were planted in comets…so, yeah, there is a LOT going on. I found the primitive society and the imaginative ways in which they adapted to life on a space comet tree more compelling than the more technical and political machinations of those on the ship. Not as much character development, and pretty detailed explanations of space travel, time lapses etc made for more dry reading. The “third act” when the two cultures come together doesn’t have much tension or resolution, and we’ve lost focus on which characters to care about. Generally interesting but a big of a slog. Interesting for fans of the author or hard core science fiction fans.


Thriller mystery ‘Mrs. John Doe’ hurls a housewife into intrigue

24 Oct

Fun take on a spy novel where the wife of a spy gets pulled into the business, using her wits to stay ahead of the bad guys and find her husband. I enjoyed having a modern “normal” woman as the protagonist, and found it relatable as she uses common sense to figure out how to maneuver in a strange world. Plenty of action and interesting characters make for a good read.

Cozy Mystery in Salem: Look Both Ways

24 Oct

A friendly cozy mystery featuring a modern day reluctant “witch” who can see things in shiny objects. Nicely plotted, engaging and warm characters, this third book in a series works perfectly for those who like their mysteries without blood, gore or suspense. The cat character is a hoot. Fun series and worth the read.

The Thief Taker becomes The Fire Catcher in London’s Great Fire

24 Oct

I quite liked this book – this is a relatively unexplored time in history and the character of Charlie Tuesday is very engaging. Interesting plot, great descriptions, quickly paced plot = fun read! This is the second book in a series and now I’m going to hunt down the first book and catch up. Would be a nice fit for YA readers looking for historical action. Well done!!

Ashley Bell: latest thriller from Dean Koontz

24 Oct

I found this book to be intriguing until – SPOILER ALERT – it becomes clear that everything that is happening to Bibi is in her own mind. Once I knew that she was “writing” her fantasy in her mind, as she lay in a coma, then it lost all suspense. The threat became irrelevant, the ticking clock made no sense, and the whole notion that she has the power to make her imaginary thoughts real is left unexplored until the very end.
Clearly, Dean Koontz is a great writer but this didn’t work for me.

Circle of Evil Series – Kylie Brant

2 Oct

Readers who are familiar with Ms. Brant’s romance writing will discover she “has a dark side” with this trilogy. While there is a romantic relationship between profiler Sophia and investigator Cam, the action in the books is driven by three criminals working together. I read the books one after another, which seems like the best way to do it, as the crimes and criminals are all connected. It would be frustrating to only read one, or to read them out of order.
The books work as procedurals – we see the cops digging into the details of the investigation – and the psychological aspects are intriguing, as revealed both by Sophia’s thinking and narrative from the POV of the criminals.
I felt like the first book was the most suspenseful, but that could be because once I was into the second, I understood that the main characters would prevail regardless of the circumstances. Then, it became more about seeing the events unfold from the unique perspective of the different criminal minds.
I would recommend – especially if you are able to read them sequentially.




First Lady of Byzantium – Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint

2 Oct

David Potter’s biography of the Empress Theodora brings to life a powerful woman previously much maligned by the writer Procopius. Theodora, famously an actress and concubine, married the emperor Justinian, and had a profound effect on the politics and laws of early Byzantium.
The author fleshes out the history of the era and allows us to see Theodora in a more modern, feminist light.
It is a wonder that people don’t know the story of Theodora in the way that we all “know” the story of Cleopatra – hopefully, books like this one help new generations see that strong & powerful women have had an impact on history.


Steampunk, Airships and Etheric Energy: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

2 Oct

A rollicking steampunk yarn replete with quirky characters kicks off this new series by Jim Butcher. As I was reading, I could see this playing on the big screen, albeit with the feel of an old time serial. Swashbuckling airship captains, talking cats, bold women, enormous bugs, crystal powered flight and so much more. As the first book in a series, this book sets up the world, the conflict and the main characters, and left me eager to read the next…
The “naval” battles in the sky are quite well done. I initially started skimming through those sections but then quickly realized that I could follow along and understand the action.
Fun, fast read. Good YA action for both boys & girls, with several strong female characters.