Monday, May 25, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: RISE OF THE MACHINES, Human Authors in a Digital World, by Kristen Lamb

If you only read ONE book this year on establishing a digital presence, an online image, THIS is the book to read.

Of course, you have to do more than read it -- you need to apply it. Lamb gives lots of homework, but she explains why, she explains how, and she gives lots of examples.

The most important thing is to establish a presence, an image, so people know you, like you, make positive associations with your name, so they consider you a FRIEND. Someone they want to get to know through your books. So they don't think you're only there to sell them something.

You need to be real, more than just an author with a book to sell. Become someone who makes readers feel like they're real to you, that you are there, online, interacting with them, present and listening and feeling and caring.

Tall order to fill. Lamb helps you understand why, what to do, and sometimes more important, what NOT to do -- for example, automatic messages. You know how irritating robo-callers are, on the telephone? Yeah, a lot worse in the online communities. You'll get a reputation in no time ... but not the reputation you want!

Read the book. Apply it. Repeat as often as necessary.

Thanks to Michelle Huey, who led an incredible workshop at the Writing for Success conference this year, and recommended the book for those of us attending.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: HYBRID by Brian O'Grady

Don't everybody have a heart attack -- those of you who are still checking in, anyway -- TWO book reports in a row? A sign life's frantic pace is easing up enough to actually let me READ often enough to do a book report each week. Let's see how long it lasts!

HYBRID was another Free Book Friday find on Nook. This is science fiction/fantasy mixed with suspense and action/adventure, with a hook taken from current headlines.

Essentially, a terrorist group has an insidious, long-range plan to devastate the US by spreading a horrific disease worse than Ebola. However .... two people have already survived early outbreaks and have been changed. Mutants, super-heroes, super-villains, it all depends on where you stand during the battle that ensues. Amanda is our heroine -- she has been living off the grid ever since she got away from government officials who consider her a threat to the health and future of the country. She has ... powers. Let's leave it at that. Then there's Karl, who is working with the terrorists, but has his own crazy-man vision of what the world will be like. He doesn't want to wipe out just the US, but most of the human race.

It's a race against time to find the terrorist plants waiting to release the disease, find Karl, find Amanda, convince the authorities to work together and not hunt down the wrong people, and then educate and train the people who are starting to change, to take sides in the coming battle. And then, there's the question of what to do with the people who survive infection. It's a strange new world coming. Will there be more books in this story line? There's already one called "Amanda's Story," a prequel. Check the author's list and see.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: THE GUARDIANS, Book 1: THE GIRL, by Lola StVil

Okay, this was a free Nook book. I downloaded it because it looked interesting, because I'm trying to write some more YA/NA type fantasy books. And free is always good, right?

Let me say right off that this author is brave and creative and has a hugely detailed world. Brave because she's writing in present tense, and that is NOT easy. I avoid it. I counsel people I edit to avoid it, because consistency of voice is crucial and it's too easy to slip out of present into past tense. Most present tense books are first person, so there's the problem of showing scenes and plot developments when the POV character isn't around.

That said ... StVil has created a whole new cosmology or theology or whatever you want to call it. There are angels, but they're not the kind I was brought up with in Sunday school. The main character, Emmy, is surrounded by the Guardians, angels charged with finding an item in a massive scavenger hunt/game of keepaway with the forces of evil. These angels are teens who died in terrible, heart-rending ways, and they are caught between heaven and hell -- only they aren't called heaven and hell, and ... it's complicated.

My personal tastes, my theology, got in the way of wholeheartedly jumping in and enjoying the story. I kept saying in my head, "Uh, no, angels don't do that," etc., etc. If you can get past that problem, you'll probably enjoy this cleverly thought out and executed series of books. Especially since on the last page of the first book, one of the Guardians violates a rule and it seems the entire world has just ... stopped.