Thursday, March 18, 2010

Be Right Back

My blogs have been lacking in the last couple weeks. I haven't done much work on formatting an ebook version of Black Earth: End of the Innocence. I haven't really even bothered with updating my website to the new theme I have on the back burner. All my time, it seems, has been siphoned by one thing: writing.

I am so close right now to finishing up my current draft of Black Earth: The Broken Daisy, the second book in my series, that I've put all other projects on the sidelines temporarily. I finished my preliminary draft at 140,000 words. It's climbed to 170,000 now during this current revision. This thing is a beast compared to everything else I have ever written and it's going to take all of my effort to get it done. Once it is, I can return to the land of the living, blogging my little heart out about writing processes and self-publishing, toiling with ebook formatting, and freshening up the website.

See you all on the other side.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Odd Thomas - (Book Review)

Lately I have been trying to read work from authors I have either not read from yet or haven’t read from in a while. Odd Thomas is actually the first book I have read of Dean Koontz’s and I’ll admit, this book made me a fan of his practically overnight.

Odd Thomas is the story of a young man, Odd Thomas, who can see dead people. Some come to him and request him to help them pass from this world to the next and some just can’t let go, like Elvis who befriends Odd and rides with him around town. But there’s more than just the dead walking around Pico Mundo, the California town where Odd resides and works as a short-order cook at the Pico Mundo Grille. There are creatures called bodachs (a name that Odd chooses to call them by) that resemble black mass silhouettes whose presence usually foretells of some impending chaos or disaster.

The book opens with Odd being called to bring to justice a man who raped and murdered a young girl. After that, Odd goes to his job at the Pico Mundo Grille and notices bodachs hanging around a man with a creepy smiling disorder. Following the man brings Odd into a tumultuous supernatural storm that forever changes his life and the lives of those close to him.

The book is written from Odd’s point of view in first person narrative and is told as a memoir of sorts of Odd’s adventures during a span of a couple of days. There is humor in the book and yet it has a dark, moody sort of feel to it that really lends itself to the atmosphere surrounding the dead and possibly dying that Odd encounters. I loved Odd’s inner thoughts and his dialogue. Both were very well written and I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

Odd Thomas is a rich story made richer with the character of Stormy Llewellyn, Odd’s love interest. According to a fortune that was given to them both by a gypsy mummy at a carnival, they are destined to be together forever. She is the perfect counterbalance to Odd’s unpredictable and somewhat questionable behavior and lends some sunshine to the bits of gloominess that surround Odd’s destined career.

I think this book can act as a wonderful catalyst to stir up questions about religion and the afterlife. There is brief mention of reincarnation and the majority of the book hinges on the belief that the dead have the choice whether to move on from our life to the afterlife. The book doesn’t shove any of these beliefs down your throat, simply presents them as character traits and leaves the subjects open for discussion or deeper thought.

After reading this book, which I did at the referral of my brother, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are at least three others that were written with Odd Thomas: Forever Odd, Brother Odd and Odd Hours. These will indeed be read and reviewed as well. Odd Thomas was a pleasant surprise to read in the midst of the heavy Stephen King novels I am venturing through: Wizard and Glass and The Stand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wizard and Glass - The Dark Tower 4 (Book Review)

When I first picked up this installment in Stephen King’s wildly popular Dark Tower series, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had read a few brief reviews on it and was dismayed to find that a decent number of people found this book completely pointless to the series as a whole. Some said the book could be skipped altogether if not for some key elements of plot that take place in the beginning and in the end of it. The main reason for this is because the book is essentially a giant flashback, a telling of Roland of Gilead’s days of youth and how he came to his decision to pursue the Dark Tower.

As Roland and his current group of friends, or ka-tet, spend the night on an abandoned turnpike in Kansas, he tells them the story of his one and only love, Susan Delgado, of his old enemies, the Big Coffin Hunters, and his escapades in Mejis, the barony that he and his friends were sent away to in an attempt to keep them out of trouble after Roland witnessed his mother being seduced by Roland’s arch nemesis, Marten the sorcerer. The tale fills in much of Roland’s past from the time he is announced a true gunslinger to the point where he decides to pursue the Dark Tower over everything else.

This story is as much a romance as it is an adventure. As much a horror as it is a character driven masterpiece. I have never become so absorbed in a novel as I did when reading Wizard and Glass. In the three books leading up to Wizard and Glass, I got to know Roland of Gilead – a little – but I knew there was more to Roland’s past than what was being revealed. His one true love, Susan Delgado, for example is mentioned in the tales leading up to Wizard and Glass, but nothing could have prepared me for the fate that actually encompassed her character.

And that is the strong point of King’s masterpiece – character. Personally, I love character driven stories over plot driven stories. This is both. Roland’s character comes off the page in vibrant colors. His bright blue bombardier eyes stare out at you in every page that is turned and you know that tragedy will befall him but you hold onto a strand of hope that perhaps things really will work out for him in some small way. I found myself skipping ahead to different chapters to catch of glimpse of what was going to happen because the book had me on pins and needles with the tension it delivered. I wanted to know if Roland would best the Big Coffin Hunters, if he would solve the mystery of the Drop and the Wizard’s Glass, if he and his friends would manage to thwart The Good Man’s sinister plans. Most importantly I wanted to know what was to happen to Susan Delgado. She was a character that I easily fell in love with and it was difficult to put the book down at times unless I knew she was in a safe spot out of harms way.

King is a master of his craft. There is no doubt about that. The only complaint I think I have of Wizard and Glass is that some of the earlier flashback scenes are a bit slow and I found I had to trudge through them to get to the meat and potatoes of the book. I felt the book could have been cut a little bit shorter than it was, but at the same time these scenes are few.

I highly recommend Wizard and Glass to anyone that has read the first three books of the Dark Tower series. As much as it is a flashback, I would suggest readers pick up the first three books to acquaint themselves with the main characters that are presented before and after the flashback, and so readers will understand why Roland and his group are riding a demonic train in the beginning of the novel, one they are struggling to tell riddles to in order to be let off the cursed thing.

The book in all its strangeness, in all its romance, in all its horror and science fiction/fantasy, is on my list of all time favorites, as is the Dark Tower series as a whole. After reading the first three books about a year ago, this one only renewed my desire to read the complete series and any of King’s other works which tie into it, which are surprising and many.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wrapping Up A Month Of Book Signings

Well, last weekend I did the last of four Bookmans book signings that took place across February. This one was in Phoenix and I ended up selling 5 books in the two hours I was there.

Yvette, the event coordinator, was more than helpful and even gave me, my brother and my wife all a $5 store credit for coming and doing the signing. She even asked to get a picture with me...

There wasn't anything too strange that occurred. I actually had a lot of positive responses from people when I described my book and handed them an excerpt. Whether or not those turn into future sales remains to be seen, but I was happy just to get my name and my story out there.

All in all, I ended up selling 24 books at the four signings. I don't think that's too shabby. It is awesome to think that all 24 of those books went to complete strangers new to my work. At each signing I made sure to leave a free copy with the event coordinator. This was to thank them for helping me set up the signing (because in all honesty, I really couldn't have done it without them) and also in hopes that they would possibly read the book and then maybe pass it along through the store for the other employees to read.