Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Review: Once Second After by William A. Forstchen

I learned about William Forstchen's novel One Second After while listening to the Neal Boortz Radio Show, and the discussion about EMPs (Electro Magnetic Pulse) on which the story’s plot is based caught my interest.

An EMP is a burst of energy that is a byproduct of a nuclear detonation high up in the atmosphere. It will wreck the vast majority of unshielded electronic devices, from a microwave oven and transistor radio to the computerized systems in the modern car and those that monitor and control a nation’s power grid.

The main focus of the story is the aftermath of a surprise attack from container ship-launched ICBMs whose nuclear warheads detonate above the USA.

One Second After chronicles the life and death struggles a local community and its individual citizens face as transportation, communication and emergency services come to a sudden, unexpected halt. It is a realistic scenario that doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Consider hospitals and nursing homes suddenly losing power. What happens to the patients? What about aircraft aloft whose electronic controls are instantly fried? How will crops get harvested, let alone transported to where the starving populations are? And those questions manage to only scratch the surface.

Consistent with the grim but truthful results of such an attack, there’s no immediate knowledge of what happened and no government emergency personnel and supplies to the rescue. Is it everybody for himself? How will individuals, families and communities face up to this crisis?

I know—a lot of questions, but Forstchen’s novel addresses those I put forth and more through his novel’s multiple, simultaneous EMP detonation scenario. And I don’t want to give away any answers that might lessen the enjoyment of your read. I personally had trouble putting it down.

One Second After is classified as a science fiction novel, but in actuality the threat is quite real. It could happen and we, especially in the West, are vulnerable.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Overall Submission Record: September 2009

As indicted in a previous post where I discussed statistics with respect to Total Words Published, I indicated keeping track of certain statistics is useful, at least to me.

I should note, keeping statistics on submissions is different than tracking submissions. Once an author begins sending out works, especially multiple stories, novels, articles, and poems (among other pieces), keeping track of markets, dates and acceptances is important. But that's a topic for a future post. What is important with respect to this post is that I draw my statistics from my submission tracking file.

The table's contents is pretty straight forward except for Other. That includes situations where for example, a market closed while a piece was under consideration or I withdrew a piece for consideration.

I've been writing with an eye toward publication for about ten years, so many writers have far more submissions. In addition, my early efforts focused on novels which take longer to write and also have longer response times from markets. After my first novel I began writing articles, and before finishing my second novel, I began writing short stories, so the number of times I've submitted a piece (Submission Total) has been climbing faster. It may once again slow down as I will be focusing less on short fiction and more on novel writing since Flank Hawk has been accepted for publication.

Really, the Overall Submission Record is simply a snapshot in a moment in time. The totals changes every time I submit a new piece or resubmit a rejected piece or a piece is accepted. If I broke the statistics down further, my best success (submission to acceptance rate) would by far be for articles, so that kind of skews the table a bit. But the Overall Submission Record helps me track successes and struggles. It motivates me while keeping me humble.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: Hocus Focus by Stephen Hines

Author Stephen Hines is one of the most creative and interesting authors I’ve run across. He infuses his experiences and perspective on life into his writing, providing an authentic voice that resonates with young adults who sometimes struggle to fit in—an audience often missed or overlooked.

Tween and teen readers will be drawn into Hocus Focus, a story that follows Lenny (a skate-boarding punk rock fan) as he struggles to find his way in a new school in a new town. Snobs, detentions, a band competition, friendships, a girl of interest all mixed with Lenny's troubled past and his effort to find his place.

The added twist is the contact lenses Lenny gets from the creepy local eye doctor, causing him to see weird images of teachers and classmates. Without giving too much away, it's what drives Lenny to understand who he truly is, vaulting him towards becoming the confident young man he never thought he could be—all this as time is running out to literally save his girlfriend, Pauline.Hocus Focus is a fun, unique read that shouldn't be missed.

Be sure to check out the book trailer: Book Trailor for Hocus Focus.
Hocus Focus is available in print at selected book stores as well as by special order, and through Kindle. See the author's website for details.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Flank Hawk Update: Final Proof Turned In

I managed to complete the revision/proofing process two days ahead of deadline. Sent the manuscript file to Gryphonwood Press' managing editor a few hours back--two days ahead of deadline.

The artist (Christine Griffin) is nearly finished as well. I think the cover art she's creating for Flank Hawk is top notch.

Things appear to be falling into place!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review: The Last Human War by D.S. Sault

The Last Human War
By D.S. Sault
American Writers Publishing Company (August 2008)

The Last Human War by D.S. Sault was a good science fiction story that kept me reading. In the universe that Sault created humanity is on the verge of extinction, although those humans known to remain are under strict control of an alien race. And the worlds and societies Sault created aren’t cheap rip-offs or a mirror image of some other author’s, or movie’s, or television show’s universe.

The plot moves along at a decent pace. I found it dragging only once (during a long escape section—I don’t want to give away too much of the plot), but even in that I found bits of things that interested me. While not every character had great depth, the ones that mattered did. Even with the aliens, I could see where they were coming from, despite the fact it wasn’t from a human perspective or based on a human culture.

D.S Sault provided plenty of action and I appreciated the space combat and tactics, both at the fleet and ship to ship level.

Beyond that, Sault’s novel held my interest because although sometimes I guessed where things were going, other times I was surprised—yeah, it made sense, I just didn’t see it coming.

There are some minor typos and occasional formatting concerns that I suspect will be corrected in the second printing, but that is the English teacher coming out in me.

To help you gauge what my tastes in SF are, I’ve also read and enjoyed John Ringo, Harry Turtledove, and Roger Zelazny. I don’t think you have to be a hardcore SF fan to enjoy The Last Human War. If you like Stargate SG1 or Star Trek or even Babylon 5, it might be up your literary alley.