Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Giveaway Featuring our Mechanical Friends


It's been a long journey getting us to iRobot Roombas and self-driving cars ... and one could argue, a journey of a lot more than 100 years. For example, mechanical automata were constructed in China in the 10th century BC.

But most sci-fi writers, me included, are less interested in the last 100 years than the next 25, 50, or more. And if you share this fascination, this Story Origin collection provides some free novels and samples that you can try.

My freebie? Killer in the Retroscape, which features some very capable machine intelligences in a dystopian tale. But don't worry, it's not just another evil machine that tires of humans and takes over the world. If only it was that simple.

Check them all out here:  https://storyoriginapp.com/to/LHtA6pA

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Freebies and Frights

If you think the only way to improve on a free book is a horror freebie, then this giveaway is for you!

Go ahead, get a few stories. Sleep is over-rated away.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Book Review: The Retreat by Gordon Ballantyne

Preppers Stand Against Invasion When International Creditors Demand Repayment

If you know what a “prepper” is, then you’re a step ahead of me when I started this book. Basically, it’s someone who believes a catastrophe is looming and makes active preparations for it. The approaching disaster in this book? The United States has failed to balance trade for far too long and our international creditors have called our debt due. America capitulates and China takes over on the West Coast, the Russians on the East, and the population is left in virtual slavery to work off what the country owes. Not everyone is OK with this arrangement, of course, not the least of whom are the protagonists of this tale—Mitch, the enigmatic head of the Olympus Capital hedge fund, and Melanie, logistical guru, mathematical genius, and later, his wife. Together, they provide the financial wizardry that is used to build a prepper community, the Retreat, in the forests of Idaho to battle the Chinese.

Overall, the writing is good, and in particular, the characters are well-developed. Each has their own voice, so even without attribution, you can usually tell who is speaking. You’ll never mistake Angus’ harrumphing, for example. But for my taste, the author is too fond of clichés, e.g., “… would you rather ask for permission or beg for forgiveness? If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull.” And there is a tendency to run-on sentences, including some that take up half a page. An additional edit would have helped.

But the real limitations to the book are twofold. First, I found the basic premise difficult to accept. Would no one be suspicious if all of our creditors demanded repayment at the same moment? Would Americans stand by and let foreign militaries on US soil? Would a president just hand over all authority because of debt? Could he? I found it necessary to “suspend disbelief” to get into the story. But second, even after I did that, the plot lacked tension. Consistently, the reader is told that Mitch and Melanie are smarter than any of their adversaries and the prepper community knows more about survival and battle tactics than the Chinese, more than the US Army. It never felt like the Retreat was in any danger. True, there were losses later in the book, but those were the result of massive bombardments where “… they were bound to get lucky on a few shots.” Basically, hero and villain were significantly mismatched and plot tension and suspense suffered as a result.

Overall, the story was an interesting portrayal of the prepper philosophy of survival and freedom. But even if you can accept the basic premise of the invasion, the tension of conflict between equal opposing forces was missing.

See on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3BalQb1

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Horror * Mystery * Thriller Audiobooks

I didn't set out to write horror when I wrote Of Half a Mind. But many reviewers and readers said that was exactly what it was - "a new take on psychological horror" as the Booklife Prize reviewer put it. And the way Denver C. Risley narrates the audiobook, even I get goosebumps!

So, if you can't beat them, I've added it to a very (VERY) short, Story Origin collection of the free Horror, Mystery, Thriller audiobooks. All you have to do is consider leaving a review.


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

All Genre Giveaway

I'm a mystery/techno-thriller writeror as I think of it, a techno-mystery writerbut I also enjoy reading more widely than that. I figure some of you do too. So, check out this all-genre giveaway with more than fifty (yes, that's 50) participating authors!

My contribution to this Story Origin collection is Killer in the Retroscape: A Near-Future Mystery. So, if you haven't picked up a copy of it yet, here's your chance to get it FREE!