flattr this!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael F. Stewart about his Kickstarter and I wanted to let you know that with a little over two days to go he’s kicked the crap out of his goal!! It’s at almost $1500. Thanks to everyone that backed it. Can’t wait to read the new book.

Haven’t pledged and only back those Kickstarters that will succeed? Go send him some coin – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/michaelfstewart/assured-destruction-with-zombies.

flattr this!

I’ve enjoyed Ed’s writing ever since I listened to New World Order. I’m not ordinarily into political thrillers, but I dig these. Today I want to bring the thriller novel “Alive From America,” book two in the Terrorist Chronicles series to your attention. Then we’ll get into the questions.

Forget bin Laden and Sadaam. Forget the Taliban and al Qaida. The real battle against terrorism is in the shadows, fought in places you’d never expect. The most dangerous terrorist in the world is the one you’ve never heard of.

FBI agent James Robb has learned that all too well. After evading capture in the mountains of upstate New York, the terrorist known to the government as The Warrior has disappeared. Then a series of attacks rocks the nation, attacks not on symbols or the government, but on the basic activities of American life. Politicians scramble for positioning, the media looks for an angle, and ordinary Americans just try to protect their own.

The only solution is to catch the Warrior. But every potential ally has an agenda, and Robb has no idea who to trust. His worst fear is that when the time comes to finally pull the trigger, he will be aiming at a familiar face.

1) I’ve read some of what you’ve written and enjoyed it. One of the keys to writing a good thriller is to keep the tension ratcheting up. How do you accomplish that as a writer?

There are a lot of ways to keep tension building, and in fact most genres have tension. Like most thriller authors,
we use several different methods of creating tension. These include:
-High stakes. As the story proceeds, the reader needs to feel like the characters are engaged in something which could have a significant impact. Some thrillers, such as psychological thrillers, make this impact very personal. In our thrillers, we’re focused more on the general. In New World Orders and 2012, the protagonists were attempting to stop the antagonists from bringing about the end of the world.
-Uncertainty. This is where mysteries have significant overlap with thrillers. In a mystery the uncertainly about the clues and the perpetrator(s) is the defining characteristic of the genre. In a thriller, the uncertainty is specifically used to ratchet up the tension. Will the fireman be able to save the baby in the burning building? Many of our books specifically use the concept of “long odds.” to keep the uncertainty high. If all the world’s governments are conspiring to do something, what hope could any one protagonist have to stop them?
-Uniquely positioned protagonist. No one except the protagonist is able or willing to do what needs to be done to stop the destruction from happening. The tension is higher if the reader knows that the characters jumping off the page are the only hope.
-Conspiracy and blending fact/fiction. Our thrillers have a lot of conspiracies in them. A conspiracy done right adds to both the uncertainty and the long odds. Adding events or ideas the reader knows about outside of the story – for example the Kennedy assassination – makes the reader identify more with the story and wonder how the reality will tie into the fiction.
-Kill off important characters. Most standard thrillers don’t actually do this, but horror thrillers do. In our books, we want the reader NEVER gets comfortable with the idea that a character is sure to survive. It is a difficult balance, and we don’t usually kill of the main character. But it keeps the reader guessing.
-How the story unfolds. Bringing about the end of the world and preventing a terrorist strike are both common themes. Uncertainty exists in every book. A book could have all of the elements we just mentioned and not be a good story. The glue that all binds it together is HOW the author uses these devices. This is where the talent of the individual author comes out. Robert Ludlum, the father of the modern conspiracy thriller, did it with a sledgehammer. His characters are constantly reacting with exaggerated drama. And it works. We take somewhat the opposite approach. While the actual events may happen quickly or be violent, we try to keep the language we use to describe them and the vehemence of the internal dialogue of the characters relatively subdued. The contrast, when done right, can cause the reader to feel tension at a deeper level than the “in your face” approach.

2) You deal with some very real life situations in your stories. Do you draw inspiration from what’s happening in the world now, or do you try and stay away from that? Why?

Absolutely we draw inspiration from what’s happening in the world now. Climate Change, Terrorism, etc. Current events interest us and they interest readers. We particularly like drawing on conspiracy theories, either directly or by implication. However, one thing we do not try to do is send a message through our stories. We’re not trying to state political opinions or change minds. If messages come through – and of course they do – they are a side effect of the story, not something done with intention. We believe that a good story takes care of itself in that regard.

Which is not to say we’re not aware of the messages. When we write about terrorists attacking soft targets and show how the politicians and the population react, we’re obviously making observations which could be construed as political. But our sole purpose is to tell a good story.

Our answer is has strayed from your original question a bit. To bring it back and summarize, using real life situations can make the reader feel more like a stakeholder in the story, and that is always a good thing.

3) What are the unique difficulties in writing fiction that relies to a degree on current events and real world problems?

Heh, that is an interesting one. One difficulty is that the story may become dated. The original version of Alive From New York was written before Osama bin Laden was killed. Without giving away plot points, let’s just say that a little bit of tweaking of the story needed to occur once he was. That’s one of the beauties of self-publishing, as we were able to get revisions published within a couple weeks. These weren’t really fundamental plot changes, and actually the changes wound up improving the story.

Another difficulty is in making things plausible. If we’re making something up out of whole cloth, we have a lot more freedom than if we’re incorporating real events. If it is known that a real world character was in a certain place on a certain date, we can’t put that character somewhere else on that date in our book unless we come up with an explanation for why the official record might be wrong. We’ll have a book coming out later this spring which we can’t reveal quite yet, and that book has quite a few historical references which we had to check and adjust so they couldn’t be immediately disproven. Improbable is fine, but completely impossible is not when it comes to real people and events.

These are non-trivial difficulties, but they are more than balanced by how much we enjoy the stories which are a blend of fact and fiction. And basically our stories are fiction, with the real references only used as milestones and jumping off points for the fiction. Plus, including George H.W. Bush gave us the opportunity to do an impression of him in the podiobook recording.

I want to thank Ed for answering these questions. You can find out more at http://www.edwardgtalbot.com

BIO:
Edward G. Talbot is the pen name for a collaboration of two American authors:

Ed Parrot lives in Massachusetts and has long been fascinated with turning ideas into written words. Jason Derrig lives in Maine and likes to tell stories, especially about conspiracies. The two authors have collaborated to create a brand of thriller that keeps the stakes high while not taking itself too seriously. Works include:

Killer Ride (coming in 2014)
Alive From America
2012: The Fifth World
Alive From New York
New World Orders
A Funny Pair of Shorts
A Horrifying Pair of Shorts

Callsign: Rook (with Jeremy Robinson)

flattr this!

I read both of Mike Stewart’s Assured Destruction e-books towards the end of last year and thoroughly enjoyed them. You can read the reviews of Assured Destruction and Script Kiddie for my detailed thoughts on them, but suffice to say words like “excellent” and “well written” apply. When he told me he was doing a Kickstarter for the third book, I was excited. So, like I do, I wanted to find out more. I’ve asked him three questions and I hope you enjoy the answers.

1) Being a geek, I’m a big fan of cyberpunk and stories involving tech. I’m not too sensitive to mistakes, depending on the story, but in a story like these getting the details right is very important. So far as I can tell you have done a very good job in the first two. Do you geek for a living and are thus able to avoid those pitfalls, is there a lot of research involved, or is it a bit of both?

If I could do life over, I’d be a coder. Why? Because it’s the closest you can get to being a real wizard. In what other field can the lines you write come alive on the screen, or in a robot’s actions? In what other field can you attack another system with programs/spells or protect yourself by putting up a firewall? Technology is moving into the realm of fantasy. That’s why I’m into it. So, do I geek for a living? No. I do however geekout. :)

I also have a deep interest in new media literacy and that includes new media risk (content, conduct, and contact). Kids need to understand the distributability and permanence of content. And they need to learn about how awesome technology is (let’s especially get more girls coding!). I’ve read hundreds of whitepapers on these issues and even presented to senate committee on the issues and opportunity of new media. With Jan I wanted to present a balanced view of those risks and opportunities.

2) One of the things I enjoyed about the first two novels is how “real” Jan’s life is. In addition to her mom’s health issues and the troubles of growing up in this wonderful modern age, she’s got her own unique problems. You don’t whitewash the world for the sake of a YA label. What limitations (if any) do you put on your works in this genre to keep it age appropriate and why did you opt to go as gritty as you did?

Sex and swearing. That’s about all I’ll keep out. Kids are reading far up in terms of age group. Oh, I also won’t write about kids committing suicide. There are studies that suggest suicide rates increase if kids read about their peers committing suicide.

All my writing is a little dark; I’m not sure I could keep that out of it, but Jan’s sense of humor helps me lighten the tone a bit (I hope—book three is intense).

3) You’re doing a Kickstarter for the release of the third book in the series. Have you crowd-funded before and what challenges are you facing with this campaign?

This is my first campaign, but I’ve released an app before and there are similarities in terms of trying to generate interest. That’s the big challenge; how do you get eyeballs to the campaign and once there, how do you convince them to make a pledge?

Some articles I’ve read have suggested that the keys are scarcity (i.e. be the first to get, or get one of a hundred XYZ), social proof (show people that others think your project has merit), and authority (why you? why am I the one to create this project).

But then it’s the same challenge with releasing a book too, isn’t it? You have to write the best hook you can, develop a brand around yourself, and spread the word.

In this case, I didn’t feel I had a choice. There’s a Kickstarter campaign IN the book, how could I not have one in real life?

Really appreciate the chance to post on your blog, Scott, and for your staunch support. :)

It’s a pleasure finding and supporting new writers. So, go to his kickstarter page and pledge whatever you can!

flattr this!

So happy to reveal the results of the giveaway! Thanks to everyone who participated. I understand that DEL will be available later this month. If you didn’t win please support Tee and Pip by preordering!

One signed copy each of Phoenix Rising, The Janus Affair, and Dawn’s Early Light - Renn Shearin

One signed copy of Dawn’s Early Light  -  Melissa Hayden

One signed copy of Dawn’s Early Light  -  Nutty Nuchtchas

One ebook copy of Dawn’s Early Light - Katie Nevill

One ebook copy of Dawn’s Early Light - Stephanie Wheeler

One ebook copy of Dawn’s Early Light - Tiago Rosado

flattr this!

I’ve had the pleasure of reading the first book in Matt Wallace’s Slinger series and I’ll be reviewing that later this week. Until then, I wanted to share three questions that I asked him. (This may become a new thing “Three Questions With Xxxx”. If you enjoy these let me know.)

The book is available here. He’s using his expertise as a combat trainer, pro-wrestler, and sharp writer to weave an action packed narrative.

Meet Nico. He’s currently falling 30,000 feet above the city of Hanoi to his death while the entire world watches.

And they can’t wait to see him hit the ground.

Welcome to Sling City, an arena in space where Judokas, sumo wrestlers, football stars, and stick fighters compete in the global combat sport of the future. Sling City is more than a stadium, it’s an entire microcosmic world filled with its own cultures, traditions, wars, and secrets. Some of those secrets are about to get out, and while all eyes watch the action-packed struggle of The Games take place, the men and women who compete in those games will have to unravel a disturbing mystery that’s cropped up at the heart of the home where they live, work, play… and die.

SLINGERS is the beginning of an exciting new five-part ebook series from the author of THE FAILED CITIES and SUNDAE.

1) There are book series, tv shows, and a ton of other serialized fiction out there. Some of them are obviously tightly plotted beginning to end. Others are clearly “pantsed”. Of the books that you have scheduled to release for this series, are they all already written/edited?

Oh, hell no. I had most of the first and second parts written when I decided to do the series, but beyond that I knew I’d write and evolve the story as this thing went along. It’s the same way I did THE FAILED CITIES years back, and I hadn’t attempted anything like it since then.

2) I love serialized fiction. If its well done then no matter whether it’s a week, a month, or even a year or more in the case of some movies, I don’t mind waiting. What made you decide to release these books as multiple parts and how do you are you planning to “keep” your audience in between releases? (Also if you have a release schedule beyond the next one coming out on April 2nd)

I started reading about “product funneling” last year. It’s a model that’s been very successful in the video game industry, but no one is really doing it with books yet (I stress “yet”). I’m trying to build each book so it leads the reader/consumer directly to the next one. Scott Pond and I design ads and previews for the next installment that go into each book. Between releases I use my social media and any podcast, website, or blog I can get on to pump the audience. The main hope is that the audience builds as the series builds.

After April I’ll be dropping a new book each month ’til June, when the series concludes.

3) Clearly you’ve drawn on your experience as a wrestler and martial arts trainer for this book. There’s a large part of this that’s science fiction. What sort of research did you do for the science fiction end of this piece?

I’m playing it fast and loose with wormhole theory in this one, but I’m comfortable with that. A lot of the science is just an extrapolation of technology we’re using today in drones and combat sports. The stuff I’m not as well-read on I intentionally choose to be vague about, which I prefer anyway. I’m trying to convey the experience of the characters, not the technology they use.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

flattr this!

I have been a fan of serialized fiction my whole life, everything from comic books to the old school radio serials (no I’m not that old, but I had some on tape… You know, cassette tapes? Sheesh, maybe I am old.). The idea of getting to that cliffhanger only to have to wait until next week or next month was both insanely frustrating and incredibly cool. The last few years have seen something of a resurgence, with podcasts and e-books making it easier for people to produce this sort of content. I’ve got three great examples that I’d like to share with you and then I’d like to give you a chance to win some neat things!!

Skinner Co., consisting of JRD Skinner, Jessica May, and Opoponax, have put out 365 episodes of incredible pulp fiction with over ten different interweaving plot lines. They’ve also done nearly a hundred episodes talking about their passions and giving other people a platform to share theirs. A better example of the old school style infused with new blood and a huge heart you’d be hard pressed to find.

You can find their particular brand of madness at http://flashpulp.com/ and I want you to walk… No, run over and subscribe. I’ll wait. And if you’re a junkie like me you’ll kick them a buck or two.

The next bit of serial goodness has been mentioned on this here blog before. The 33 is a… well let me let Hutch tell you:

Standing between us and certain extinction is an unlikely league of saviors: THE 33 — thirty-three men and women blessed with unusual abilities, and even stranger personalities.

John Swords III leads the misfit crew. It ain’t easy. His lieutenants Bliss and Knack want to either kiss or kill each other. Other operatives are defiant, dysfunctional or downright deranged. The enemy is relentless and organized, poised to jumpstart the apocalypse. And Mr. Ins, The 33′s mysterious benefactor, exerts his absolute will over the group, pursuing an agenda all his own.

But one thing is certain — The 33 aren’t good guys. They leave damnation and salvation to the experts. Their mission: Maintain the status quo. Ensure the survival of the human race. Hold the line.

Part A-Team, part X-Files (with a dash of Hellboy and Global Frequency added for apocalyptic spice), The 33 is a high-stakes genre mash of action, sci-fi and supernatural thriller.

Once a month he’ll be putting out an e-book and an audio book sharing this adventure. You can find it at The33.net

Finally, we come to Matt “F’n” Wallace. He’s just released a new e-book called Slingers. You can get it here. He’s using his expertise as a combat trainer, pro-wrestler, and sharp writer to weave an action packed narrative.

Meet Nico. He’s currently falling 30,000 feet above the city of Hanoi to his death while the entire world watches.

And they can’t wait to see him hit the ground.

Welcome to Sling City, an arena in space where Judokas, sumo wrestlers, football stars, and stick fighters compete in the global combat sport of the future. Sling City is more than a stadium, it’s an entire microcosmic world filled with its own cultures, traditions, wars, and secrets. Some of those secrets are about to get out, and while all eyes watch the action-packed struggle of The Games take place, the men and women who compete in those games will have to unravel a disturbing mystery that’s cropped up at the heart of the home where they live, work, play… and die.

SLINGERS is the beginning of an exciting new five-part ebook series from the author of THE FAILED CITIES and SUNDAE.

The first part will set you back a whopping $.99 and each subsequent part (longer than this intro) will be $2.99 or $1.99 if you get it straight from him.

None of these things are expensive and they all go to supporting some awesome indies. But I understand if you’re reluctant. You may not know these guys from Adam’s house cat. So here’s what I’m gonna do. For the next week you’ll have opportunities to put your name into the hate and win either the first episode of Pramantha (the audio/e-book bundle) or the first e-book in the Slingers series. That’s my gift to you. To do it, all you have to do are things like tweet about this, review some independently produced work, and tell me what your favorite serials are. That’s serials with an s. Here are the details. Now go forth and spread the word!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

flattr this!

Fans of the blog will know that I’ve long been a fan of Jake Bible. In the spirit of full disclosure, I also count myself as his friend. So let’s get on with the review.

There is something in the deep. Something large. Something hungry. Something prehistoric.
And Team Grendel must find it, fight it, and kill it.
Kinsey Thorne, the first female US Navy SEAL candidate has hit rock bottom. Having washed out of the Navy, she turned to every drink and drug she could get her hands on. Until her father and cousins, all ex-Navy SEALS themselves, offer her a way back into the life: as part of a private, elite combat Team being put together to find and hunt down an impossible monster in the Indian Ocean. Kinsey has a second chance, but can she live through it?

I love, love, love giant sharks. The thing I love even more than that are stories that put a rag tag bunch against nearly unbeatable odds. This book is a bit light on the first, but it hits the second nail on the head. There are giant sea critters, make no mistake, but most of that action takes place later in the book. The focus is largely on the interpersonal relationships and some epic military action. I was a little disappointed that the book, billed as a “Deep Sea Thriller” with a picture of a giant shark on the front, didn’t give the beasts more page time.

With that gripe out of the way, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. There’s a lot of humor of the dark variety on display, as any of Jake’s readers will be hoping for. There’s also some excellent character development. Kinsey, the character mentioned in the blurb, undergoes a very realistic transformation. I enjoyed watching that and getting to know the other members of Team Grendel, the pirate killing, hunters of giant sharks. (If a book that features pirate killing, giant shark hunters doesn’t make you put this on your list, this isn’t the book for you probably.)

The pace moves rapidly. Much of the first half of the book is set up, but it’s entertaining set up. You need to meet these people and get to know them and it’s as much fun as the rest. For all of the fun, this is a gritty book, filled to the gunwales with gore, coarse language, and extreme amounts of gunfire. If that appeals to you then check it out!

I give this book four dorsal fins out of five.

Jake’s Site
Jake’s Twitter
Amazon Kindle Link

flattr this!

I had the pleasure of reviewing The 33 by JC Hutchins recently. I quite enjoyed it, but had a couple of questions for Hutch. He was king enough to answer them.

What made you decide to release The 33 as a serialized audio/e-book, rather than doing it all at once?

I wish I had a satisfying, entrepreneurially-sound answer for you! Honestly, The 33’s release model is the way it is because that’s how I’ve always envisioned it. Since 2008, I’ve wanted to create something that plucked some of the most interesting storytelling models from episodic TV and serialized comic books, and mash them together: a combination of standalone “monster of the week” stories and cliffhanger-driven multi-episode adventures. The 33’s 12-episode “TV season” approach provided a good umbrella to unify these stories, and gave me the flexibility to weave in a mythology and meta-arc — a bigger picture narrative — that can conceivably span several seasons of The 33, and numerous spinoffs.

Also, I can’t release the episodes all at once because they haven’t all been written yet! This was deliberate, for a few reasons … but these reasons ultimately hail back to TV and comics.

Firstly, as adventures of The 33 are released month to month, I’ll be able to watch the online conversation about them ebb and flow. I’ll get a sense of my audience’s expectations, what it likes (and doesn’t), fan-favorite characters, that sort of thing. That information will help inform the world of The 33 and its characters. I couldn’t make those diagnoses and directional changes if a full season of The 33 had already been written.

Secondly, the model embraces a bit of unpredictability and “controlled chaos” for my creative process. If I’m fascinated by an emerging social trend or technology that I’ve read about, I can immediately get to work on a standalone The 33 story, using it as inspiration. That flexibility is very cool, and impossible with traditional prose fiction models. While I have no ambition to craft a “ripped from the headlines” series ala Law & Order, there’s something to be said for timeliness and cultural relevance, especially when the release schedule is designed to permit it.

Thirdly, the month-to-month writing and release of The 33 gives me a chance to watch sales figures, and adjust my own expectations. If it becomes obvious to everyone, especially me, that the series is an entrepreneurial failure and no one’s buying the episodes, then — speaking plainly — there’s little reason to invest the effort in writing and promoting it. TV, comic books and novel series face this scenario all the time, especially in their formative days. If the series doesn’t get traction in the marketplace and the revenue generated doesn’t justify the expense incurred to create it, more episodes won’t be “ordered” by “the network.”

Now, to be clear: I’m nowhere near making that decision right now, and won’t be for many months. If the sales of The 33’s first episode are any indication, the series is in great shape, and will thrive for months to come. I’m committed to pursuing my passion for this series, and will write as many The 33 stories as the audience is willing to meaningfully support.

What are the unique challenges that you face in writing something like this as opposed to a novel?

The most intriguing challenge so far has been being thoughtful about how and when to reveal certain secrets of The 33’s mythology, world and characters. In some respects, I’m playing a longer game now than I ever was, writing a standalone novel. I need characters who don’t just have problems — they’ve got BIG problems. Heck, their problems have problems! This approach ensures a long-term (and heaven willing, multi-season) road of growth for my characters.

Same goes for the weird “day to day” world seen in the series. The 33 is set in a present-day America where science and sorcery coexist — where the world is threatened by ruthless criminals, malicious technologies, hostile supernatural beings, giant killer robots, you name it. I’ve developed a few “rules” for The 33’s world; these are creative cornerstones that permit even the most outlandish technologies and mythologies to exist, all together. But those explanations need not be dumped into The 33’s first episode. An episodic approach empowers me to shift that worldbuilding to future adventures, if needed. It allows me to tease some of the mythologies and tech — and heroes and villains — of The 33 and pay off those teases later. This requires some creative restraint, which is definitely a challenge for me!

Finally, there’s a much larger meta-mythology powering universe of The 33, and a superthreat looming over it that defies imagination — or at least, the imaginations of the characters occupying that universe. If the series is successful enough to support multiple seasons (and even multiple prequels, or spinoff series), that narrative “marrow” will slowly be revealed. I’m being very judicious in my approach with that. I want to weave hints of this meta-mythology into the DNA of The 33, and glance upon them occasionally in ongoing episodes … but make them “hide in plain sight,” if that makes sense.

If this is a success do you think you’ll make it available as a paper book?

That’s a great question, and my answer hinges greatly on the definition of “success” — a definition I haven’t yet settled on, and one that will likely shift in the weeks and months ahead. A paper-based product is probably a ways off, though if the sales of The 33 radically exceed my expectations — and if there’s vocal demand for a paper-based product — I’ll certainly consider it!

The “need to know” about The 33’s unconventional storytelling model: The 33 is J.C. Hutchins’ latest fiction project, released as monthly ebooks and digital audiobooks. The 33 isn’t a novel — it’s a short story series with recurring characters, told over TV season-like arcs. The 33: Season 1 is currently planned for a 12-episode release.

More information about The 33 is available at http://The33.net.

Bio: J.C. Hutchins crafts award-winning transmedia narratives, screenplays and novels for companies such as 20th Century Fox, A&E, Cinemax, Discovery, FOX, Infiniti, Macmillan Publishers and Harebrained Schemes. He has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR’s Weekend Edition, ABC Radio and the BBC.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

flattr this!

I’ve long been a fan of JC Hutchins’ work. For those not in the know, his book trilogy 7th Son was a fan favorite in the early days of podcast fiction. Since then, JC has built a career in freelance writing and transmedia story telling. He’s been talking about a project called The 33 for years and he’s finally decided to release it in a serial audio and e-book format.

This is not a podcast. JC is charging for it and I’m not reviewing the full run, since it’s not complete yet. But I believe in this project, and I want to let you know if it’s lived up the the standard that he’s set.

Synopsis: The 33 is J.C. Hutchins’ latest fiction project, released as monthly ebooks and digital audiobooks. The 33′s adventures are told in multi-part and one-shot short stories. Season 1 will contain 12 episodes.

Your safe First World existence isn’t safe at all. Our planet is a war zone, besieged by secret attacks from ruthless criminals, malicious technologies and hostile supernatural beings.

Standing between us and certain extinction is an unlikely league of saviors: THE 33 — thirty-three men and women blessed with unusual abilities, and even stranger personalities.

John Swords III leads the misfit crew. It ain’t easy. His lieutenants Bliss and Knack want to either kiss or kill each other. Other operatives are defiant, dysfunctional or downright deranged. The enemy is relentless and organized, poised to jumpstart the apocalypse. And Mr. Ins, The 33′s mysterious benefactor, exerts his absolute will over the group, pursuing an agenda all his own.

But one thing is certain — The 33 aren’t good guys. They leave damnation and salvation to the experts. Their mission: Maintain the status quo. Ensure the survival of the human race. Hold the line.

Part A-Team, part X-Files (with a dash of Hellboy and Global Frequency added for apocalyptic spice), The 33 is a high-stakes genre mash of action, sci-fi and supernatural thriller.

Production: The production on this is straight forward. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles here, but the sound quality is good.

Grade: B+

Cast:  JC is a quality narrator and brings a unique voice to each character that he portrays. This dramatic reading displays those talents.

Grade: A

Story: This story opens with a bang (six bangs actually). Much like 7th Son, he sets the hooks into his readers right out of the blocks and never slows down. The characters are memorable and all bring the typical Hutch flavor to the party. He does an excellent job of establishing the universe he’s playing in, one fairly analogous to ours, and avoids pesky exposition that would slow the plot. Even where he has to do a little bit of it, he manages to do so in a way that kept me riveted. As I said, this isn’t a finished story yet, so it leaves you hanging at the end.

Grade: A+

Verdict: In case it’s not obvious, this is a stellar piece of work. It feels a little odd reviewing an unfinished product, but much like a TV show, Hutch has made it clear that if there’s not an audience for this then it won’t continue. I really, really want this to succeed. As much as I agree with the tagline “The World Needs The 33″, I will say even more loudly that the world needs more fiction by JC Hutchins. I personally want to know what happens next. So I highly recommend that you check this out. For purely selfish reasons.

As I mentioned, this is a product you’re going to have to put down some money on. How much? The e-book for this first part is $1.99 from the major e-book retailers. The audio is available only from Hutch’s site for $2.99. You can get both of them for $3.99 or if you sign up for his newsletter there might still be a discount available. This series is in four parts and that means you’ll pay about $8 for the book or $12 for the audio. I personally think that’s worth it, provided that the quality stays at this level. I have no doubt that will be the case.

Grade: A

Buy direct from JC’s site.
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

flattr this!

Aeons ago, I put out a call for guest posts on how your faith might influence your fiction. Author Nobilis Reed was kind enough to submit a post and then life intervened. In addition to NaNoWriMo I had some site issues. Anyway, with apologies I submit his post. If you’re interested in writing one up, please contact me!

If the Divine and I had a Facebook relationship, it would be defined as “It’s Complicated.”

Let’s start with my definition of faith: “Faith is the belief in something that cannot be proven by reason.” Pretty much everyone has faith in something, even hardcore rationalists.* My unprovable assertion is “There is at least one influence in existence that transcends human understanding.” It’s unprovable, because in order to prove it, you would have find this influence and understand it, and by doing so you would disqualify it from the assertion. As a result, my relationship with this entity cannot be anything but complicated.

When you’re dealing with an entity that transcends human understanding, the only way to think about it is with as-if constructs and metaphors. When it’s raining outside, and I step out the door and find that the storm has suddenly abated to a mere sprinkle, which then returns to a steady downpour once I’m inside the car, I raise my eyes skyward and say, “Thank you.” When that happens, do I believe that there is a deity which listens to my prayer in the same way a parent listens to a child? No, but it’s a useful as-if construct to describe the situation. When I describe the experiences of a friend of mine, who was rescued from a (pre cell phone) flat tire stranding by a muscular redheaded guy in a convertible sports car, and now describes Ares as her personal deity, do I believe that she met an actual god that day? No, but it’s a useful as-if construct to describe the situation.

Any deity you encounter in the real world, whether it’s the Christian God, or Allah, or Jehovah, or Zeus, or any of the dozens of other names for the divine or the infernal, what you’re talking about is an as-if construct created by people to describe that great unknowable entity beyond human understanding. We put a face on it, usually a human face, to make the relationship possible.

My personal spirituality doesn’t play a role in most of my books, but there is an exception in the Orgone Chronicles series. The cultures of these novels is entirely spacefaring; they don’t live on planets at all, but instead have space stations and starships scattered over the galaxy. To them, the great unknown is immediate and pervasive, always there just past the outer bulkhead; it’s space, hard vacuum, the void, the hungry nothingness outside the airlock. Different cultures see it slightly differently, of course; the Stationers see it as a cthonic ending, a sort of real-world hell, representing suffering and death. Scouts and Pirates see it as a veil of ignorance, that must be pierced to discover the unknown. They swear with the word “vack,” short for “vacuum,” and the worst punishment that can be inflicted is to expel a criminal out into the void without an airsuit.

In general, though, I think my worldview allows me to more easily empathize with people who have different constructs than I do. I have a work-in-progress sitting on my hard drive (one of many, I’m afraid) set in a future America where cultural divisions have led people to segregate themselves into ideological enclaves where any ideas challenging the local dogma are severely restricted. One of the enclaves featured in that story is an Evangelical Christian community, and I believe my worldview allows me to write them more authentically, because I can more easily get into their heads and avoid excessive caricature.

* If you count yourself a hardcore rationalist and you find this statement offensive, consider your opinion on the following assertion: “There exists no element of human experience that can never be explained by science.” And then consider the difficulty of proving that something does not exist.

Nobilis can be found at Nobilis Erotica and on Twitter @Nobilis