The Alien Diaries by Glenn J. Devlin – Review

A fantastic original tale that merges science fiction and history…

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The unique premise unfolds gradually in a way that compliments the story using a style of clear and descriptive writing. The Alien Diaries opens in a way that keeps the reader intrigued and guessing what this book is really about.

The two main plot lines; one set in modern day and the other delivered via diary entries from the 1700’s give the book a time travel feel in which I found myself completely immersed throughout. The diary entries are brought to life in the first person perspective as if the characters from the other plot are reading them with the reader and their side of the story is written in the third person. I am highlighting this specifically because I found this to be very well done and it isn’t easy to make different perspectives fit but this worked perfectly for the book’s entirety especially the mysterious elements of the story which eventually gives the reader answers.

Colin and Maddie serve as great main characters whom both have depth and a wonderful amount of chemistry together as the story unfolds even if what they have been through historically was unfortunate. Because of this I found myself rooting for both of them as well as sometimes even laughing at their antics. The pair really do go through a journey in this book.

Overall The Alien Diaries is an immersive and gripping original tale that nods to some important history as well as taking the reader on a journey through time. I even found there to be some great references to writing and reading in general all of which tells me the author has spent a great amount of time and effort constructing a story that everyone will find enjoyable.

5 Stars 

 

Weekly Ramble #23

I’m still coming down. And god damn I am proud of what we did over the weekend. For the first time in the 76 year history of Iver Heath Drama Club we put on our own written pantomime show.

This journey hasn’t been easy (and there’s still another weekend of shows to go), they never are and the reward is like nothing I have ever felt before. Writing plays is something I transitioned into from performing, every show I was cast in, I took that as an opportunity to fuel my learning. Eventually that turned into the unique ability to be able to tell my own stories and the open welcoming environment of Iver Heath Drama Club has fostered and nurtured my writing to heights I could never imagine.

I take a look around and ask myself how the fu** did we get here? How did this whole deal become this big. The answer, like all big answers is relatively simple. Without intentionally being deep, the answer much like everything good we ever do or create comes from within.

And I say this now as advice to anyone looking to succeed in not only writing, but in life and work. All you have to do is show up on time and work hard. Get there and roll up your sleeves. If the environment you’re in is decent and so are the people, eventually they will reward you for showing up and doing a shift. And quite possibly they might even love you for it. Everything else will follow, we all learn in our own way.

I view story telling as just a sequence of ideas put together in a neat orderly fashion. The more time you spend tidying up those ideas in that mind of yours, the better the stories will get along with those ideas. Above all I create because I enjoy it, making something gives me the greatest sense of fulfillment in life and this time around I am not alone. We put together a show as a team, and for the first time, writing hasn’t been a solitary lone affair, its been so much more and so I can live with being high on that for a while…

Weekly Ramble #22

Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you cannot create. We only learn in this world by creating, and we can only create by learning; these two forces foster each other and above all they give everyone in this world purpose. 

I have learned that to create is to feel and be free. To be free in this world is to live and to feel makes this whole deal real. Nothing sets me free more than writing and creating worlds. Find what sets you free, pursue it, get addicted to it, believe in it and shout about it. Some day soon if you try and keep trying, you’ll find a small group of wonderful like minded folks who may do the shouting for you, reward them, befriend them, be kind to them. Give back what has been given to you and be humble. Remember those who’ve helped and those who haven’t, don’t carry grudges; laugh at such things.

Buy that second hand guitar and teach yourself to play, you might suck to begin with; but you’ve gotta start somewhere and learn. Find others who suck and befriend them. Learn to play and figure this stuff out together. Put a band together and start to jam; get that first gig but keep playing no matter how crap the reviews are, eventually you’ll learn and eventually you’ll get good. You could even be the next Cobain or Grohl because they never gave up creating. They always had it inside them and so do you.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you cannot create.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood of the Sixth By K. R. Rowe – a review

A slow burning tale that twists into the deep shadowy darkness of the unexpected…

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There’s a lot going on under the surface of this story which sits within the realms of gritty urban horror, mystery and witchcraft. Blood of the Sixth has a complex interwoven plot which is delivered in a way that makes it an easy to follow read; something I imagine the author has worked tremendously hard to achieve. The whole layout of the book from short sharp chapter length, to characters all the way to general story has been well thought out.

Like all good books Blood of the Sixth is about a lot of different things which are all linked by the main story. The concept of something lurking in the shadows is exploited well and gives the book a psychological edge; there were some instances it really got into my head but in a good way.  The main character ‘Allie’ is an on the surface quirky soul with a lot more going on in her head and beneath the surface much like the whole story.

For some parts of my reading experience I genuinely laughed and others I found to be quite harrowing (again in a good way) as there were some real graphic violent portions all of which fitted well for the genres. The use of description in some instances has been painstakingly constructed and again the hard work by K. R. Rowe is obvious to see.

Overall this story is a journey that slowly twists throughout and culminates into a great ending. In the latter stages I found myself unable to put the book down.

5 Stars 

 

5 Reasons why you should read Darke Blood

I’ve come to believe that anyone can write a book. I mean that in the singular sense. Most of us have enough inside us to create one book’s worth of content and tell a story worth reading. Although having one book out there is indeed a phenomenal achievement a real writer only finds themselves after that first journey. What I’m saying is indeed subjective and from experience but I truly believe that I became a writer only after I managed to finish drafting Darke Blood and so here are five reasons why you should check out my story of true darkness… 

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1: This was the most difficult project I’ve ever drafted… and arguably the most ‘book like’ book I have out there… it’s probably the most rewarding too…

I almost sent ‘DB’ into the recycling bin around a third of the way into drafting. It made me angry that I just couldn’t get the book to work or fit with any type of story. My writing style isn’t to have much of a particular plan, in fact for this book I had 3 or 4 ideas and no real idea for a finish. Without boring you all to death with vague details let’s just say I persevered and found myself as a writer, pulled everything together during an angry session at the gym one day and created a story I am damn proud of.

The real truth is; and this is further to my point above, I gave myself 4 ideas and then said ‘let’s go write a book’. Being able to write a story on the spot with just a handful of concepts is the definition of a real writer. They will find a way to link everything together via characters, plot and setting no matter what.

Most of my books read like a film, but ‘DB’ reads in a more stationary manner making it deeper and immersive and overall more book like.

2: Yes it’s a vampire story, but that’s just a side genre…

Creatures of the night have been done and done again we all know that and I knew that going in. But Vampires have never been seen in the way I delivered them (sophisticated and logical, no offence or slander towards others though) and as much as people think they have been done; there’s still a huge array of vamp stories out there. This story is Vampires grown up. Above all DB is about identity and finding yourself even if you can only see pure darkness eventually you can find your own light to shine a way.

During the difficult draft I decided the world of Darke Blood was in fact linked to another world created in my debut novel, which brings us to numero 3…

3: Darke Blood is set in the same universe as Open Evening!

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I had a great deal of fun building bridges between Open Evening and Darke Blood. Without dropping a bunch of spoilers I will say it just makes sense for these stories to be in the same ‘time’ and world. If you have read ‘OE’ and if you are looking closely you’ll see a few hints towards the ‘DB’ universe. This becomes a little more obvious in ‘DB’ and those who know the two universes will collide eventually.

4: The characters

Quite simply Darke Blood is a character driven novel, for much of the writing I let them lead the charge and you’ll find arguably the greatest cast I have ever assembled on the page. One of the biggest motivators to write this novel for me personally was to tribute Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a subtle sense as well as carving my own path. Those who are one with the Whedon will know his work is driven and centered by diverse three dimensional characters and Darke Blood tributes that. There is a character for everyone waiting in Darke Blood

5: There’s going to be a sequel!

I have already drafted the sequel to DB and at the far end of this year I shall delve into the editing phase. In terms of release date, we’re looking at 2020. ‘Darke Awakening’ will see the world of Open Evening and Cemetery House collide with Darke Blood in the ultimate culmination and cross over.

Bonus Reason 6:

Turns out cross overs are hard and long (that’s not a porno honest…) so ‘Darke Awakening’ is part 1 of 2 Darke Blood sequels. ‘Darke Apocalypse’ will close the story and crown the ‘Darke Trilogy’ along with carry on the story of Open Evening and Cemetery House. This will be later as opposed to sooner so you have got all the time in the world to read Open Evening, Darke Blood and Cemetery House.

Bonus Bonus Reason 7:

Okay I’m pushing it now and I don’t want to go hard sell but Darke Blood is relatively undiscovered. The truth is it needs a bunch more reviews and reads before I will even think about launching the sequel. My big plan and aspiration this year is to get DB read and reviewed more. You could be responsible for the success of what is a deeply immersive character driven story. Anybody who does wish to read it, I will happily send an e-copy for free in exchange for a review so get in contact for more info…

Or you can just wait until this friday when it will be free to download for one day only celebrating 3 years since release!

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A letter to Netflix

Dear Netflix,

I write this with hope it reaches someone who can at least entertain my thoughts and ideas for just one moment. Thoughts and ideas is my craft and the industry I represent is made up of them. I’m talking about authors and specifically in my case independently published authors. An indie author is an unpublished writer who never gave up and found their own path towards publication. They never let main stream rejection stop their dreams being achieved and they put their life and soul into their passion; telling stories. This also applies to ‘traditionally published’ authors and there is no deviation between indie and traditional in terms of hard work, passion and quality of work.

Most authors all share the same struggle of telling the world their work exists. The ways I have seen fellow wordsmiths spread the word is indeed creative, insightful and inspirational. But the distribution of our product is only as good as the ‘distributor’ and by that I frankly refer to the one mainstream book distributor who claims to be in everything from ‘A to Z’.

This is no way an attempt to bash or slander such a large scale business, what they have done in recent times to literally provide anyone with content the opportunity to publish is truly wonderful; this also includes me, but a market dominated by one solitary force results in just a single winner; the business. They get to write the rules and by that I mean they take high percentages of small scale authors royalties and overall treat everyone like a number; again not a bash, just an observation and hence comes an opportunity.

Specifically looking at the e-book market in a broad sense, there is no particular large scale competitor who can provide writers and readers with an alternative. Healthy competition in any market will always have an outcome that benefits the customer and the future of e-books is just waiting for the opportunity for it’s market to be opened with genuine competitors.

E-books will only ever go so far with a sole distributor but what if there was another on the same scale? What if someone else stepped in to the market with large scale aspirations who also gave authors and creators not a better opportunity but an alternative opportunity? That is indeed why I have written this letter because e-books are such a fantastic opportunity for a content provider as large as Netflix. This idea is indeed in its conceptual infancy and there is a bunch to think about, but in essence would ‘streaming’ or ‘lending’ e-books be that much of a difficult feat? Sure you’ll probably have to buy a bunch of extra servers but there are hundreds if not thousands of authors who would be more than willing to give out their work for the world to read and at the same time the market will be fairer for everyone involved.

Netflix lending e-books is a future I think we can all agree would be an awesome thing. I can even imagine Netflix original books becoming Netflix original series or films. And whilst Netflix is truly a red hot business right now it would be taking a huge step for producing way more content with e-books.

I look forward to hearing what you think about this concept.

Yours faithfully

Lee Hall

Indie Author, Netflix customer since ’12 and ideasmith.

 

For anyone reading what do you think? All industry thrives upon healthy competition in the market, and if you agree with this concept we need to get this in front of the right eyes. Please share, comment and tweet so we can prove that words and ideas can change the world for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undertown: A novella by K.Noel Moore – Review

“Something happened tonight, I don’t know what. Something that ripped the veil between the Chicago of the living and the Chicago of the dead…” 

Undertown is a clever fusing of history and horror intertwined with real events set around the historic crime wave/prohibition era of 1930’s America. I found myself reading this novella in one sitting within a few enjoyable hours. undertown

The story centers around main character Billy Foster jumping from his present to past in a clear and well paced style. As Billy’s coming of age tale unfolds towards a life of crime influenced by his older ‘brother’ George it slowly moves and twists into a ghostly direction that is unique for the genre.

In the present day of Billy’s story we see him along with homeless companion Sam as they both struggle in the fringes of the crime society beneath the streets of Chicago. There are subtle hints that suggests an unspoken romance between the pair; something I thought added an extra dimension to their friendship giving this retro story a modern feel and relevance whilst not being over done.

There are plenty of references and terms used in the narrative which are authentic to the historic era with a handy reference/definition section placed at the end of the book (something I felt was a nice touch and shows the author has put in a large amount of care, research and thought into).

Overall Undertown is a perfectly paced, easily readable and well written history novella with just the right amount of chills and atmosphere to make it stand out.

5 Stars 

 

Altaica (The Chronicles of Altaica) By Tracy M Joyce – Review

Fantasy world building that reads like historic fiction…

‘Altaica’ is a book set in a world of clan’s, troops, magic, bows, swords and a plethora of diverse characters. Although I did struggle to get into it initially , I enjoyed this debut novel which has been put together with an imaginative and intricate level of detail. altaica

The writing style has a feel of historic fiction meets fantasy; giving it a unique voice comparable to Wilbur Smith meeting essences of a modern day Tolkien. There were some instances I forgot that this was in fact based in fictional places as I became immersed into the story. I particularly enjoyed the diverse range of characters with their unique names which the writer has clearly put in a lot of thought and time to create along with the world they live in.

Overall ‘Altaica’ is an epic journey and delivers in gradually immersing readers effectively to escapism; something which all authors no matter the genre strife to achieve. This type of book and the way it is written makes it very accessible for those unfamiliar with the fantasy genre along with satisfying those who frequently visit worlds such as this one created by Tracy M Joyce. You could even say this book steps out the barriers of genre that it would usually be defined by and carves its own path making for a unique, fun and enjoyable read.

Four Stars 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #21

There goes another decade, well nearly. Time flies when you’re writing books I guess and this year just sort of crept up from the shadows. The past few weeks have all kinda merged but things are trying to settle down…

Lets talk goals for 2019; because A new year feels like a fresh start, this is my year and it may even be the crowning piece of one hell of a decade.

  • I’m handwriting the first draft for my next book, a paranormal romance in the form of a diary. Yes I said romance, my whole deal in writing is to nail as many genres as I possibly can. If you can tell a story, genres are just the variable. We’re looking at a festive season 2019 release and I may fully self publish this one, I will still need an epic cover though!
  • Book Code named ‘Project X43’… or the real title ‘Jack Thorn’ – ‘In the future there will be robots… and this book is my writing destiny’. This year I’m finishing the rebooted draft and I’m going to find an agent and get it published (yep easier said than done). Those who have followed me from the start will recognize the ‘Thorn’ name and yes this book is massively linked to it.

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  • Darke Blood Sequel: ‘Darke Awakening’ has already been drafted and for those who have been keeping up this one serves as not only a sequel to ‘DB’ but it’s the continuation of Open Evening and Cemetery House. This year I will hopefully edit and set a release date for the Awakening. It will probably see the ‘light’ in 2020.

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So that’s all of my writing goals for 2019, let me just take this opportunity to say, keep it real, be safe and may the force be with you!