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Black Sun Reviews Officially Closed

September 3, 2012

It is with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to discontinue Black Sun Reviews. In truth, I have been putting it off for sometime. Unfortunately, I find myself unable to put it off any further. I apologieze for any inconvenience this may cause.

I would also like to take this oppurtunity to thank all the authors who took a chance on me, to those who sought out my services, and especially to all of the readers who enjoyed reading my reviews. Thank you. I have learned so much from all of you.

All previous reviews will remain on site for the benefit of the authors and readers they were written for.

Anyone interested in my work, may feel free to follow along with my progress on Raining Ink.  (In which case, I thank you for the continued interest.)

Sincerely,

Soleil Noir

How To Publish Your Book Without Having A Panic Attack by J Bennett

July 10, 2012

Today I’m very happy to host a guest post by the lovely (and terribly funny) J Bennett, author of Falling: Girl With Broken Wings! Please give her a warm welcome as she talks about coping with the sheer bloody panic of publishing!

Thank you to Soleil for hosting me and for supporting so many talented authors.

*** So I had this book, Falling – Girl With Broken Wings. Not someone else’s book. My book. Which I wrote. With words.

I liked it. My sister eventually admitted that she liked it. My writing group, critique partners, and my friends liked it.

I thought I had something. A book that could make me the one thing I’ve wanted to be since I was a little girl – an author.

And I was in luck. It’s easier than ever to publish a novel. Gone are the days when an author must go courting fickle literary agents then win the divine approval and marketing muscle of a major publisher. All I had to do was format my book correctly, pay a graphic artist to design a nice cover and then upload it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for free. In less than a day, I could launch my book out into the world.

One problem though – and this was a biggie. I was scared out of my gourd.

See, my novel was completely and utterly awesome when it was just mine, tucked safely away in my blue laptop named Torgo (yes, Torgo the laptop, don’t judge).

My narrator, Maya, is quirky, over-dramatic, and not exactly human anymore. This new development might be really cool for her if her enhanced senses, extraordinary strength and agility, and aura-reading skills weren’t fueled by a need to drain the energy from living creatures – humans, in particular.

So, there’s that going on, and then there’s her two half-brothers, Tarren and Gabe. Tarren means well, he really does, it’s just that he thinks Maya is a threat to humanity and that killing her is an unfortunate necessity. Gabe is the best. He actually kinda sorta thinks that he’s a superhero, but he’s actually just a big nerd. Sure, he hunts and kills angels, but he also watches Battlestar Galactica and has a huge, overwhelming crush on the neighbor’s beautiful housekeeper.

I haven’t mentioned the angels yet, have I? Well, Maya’s a partial angel. These aren’t the good kind of angels with halos and harps and transportation via cloud. They’re genetically-enhanced human beings who have the whole energy-sucking issue going on.

So, that’s the basic setup for Falling. Sorry if that was a bit much – info dump we call it in writing – but the point is that I liked it, and it was my baby, and I wasn’t about to send my baby into the world to

get judged and slapped with two stars on Amazon. Even when my sister helpfully assured me that the majority of people in the world would completely and utterly ignore my book, it didn’t help soothe my fear.

So I was stuck being a coward. My book was destined to spend an eternity locked in Torgo’s dungeon. But then a strange thing happened. I found a little bravery.

Eventually, I realized that if I ever truly wanted to be an author, I’d just have to jump off the cliff and take the landing no matter how hard it was. Did I think this book was good? Yes. Was it worthy of being read? Yes. Then why was I letting fear hold me back from being who and what I wanted to be?

The truth is, I did have a little itsy bitsy panic attack when I published the book, but that’s beside the point. I did it anyway. What I learned from this publishing adventure is that there’s no way to defeat the fear of failure or the nagging worry that your book isn’t really as good as you think it is. Courage is acknowledging the fear in the passenger seat but hitting the gas anyway.

If you’re an aspiring writer, and you believe you’ve written something truly great, I hope you’ll believe in it enough to publish (after doing lots of rounds of edits and critiques, of course)! If you’re not a writer, then you’ve probably got your own metaphorical baby that you’ve always dreamed of launching into the world. Launch that baby (assuming this is not, in fact, an actual physical baby). No regrets!

***

Falling is J Bennett’s debut novel and the first book in the Girl With Broken Wings series. It is currently available as an ebook for $2.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Learn more and read a free sample at www.GirlWithBrokenWings.com. J Bennett is a professional copywriter and copyeditor. She also writes the blog www.ShyWriter.com. Her Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/girlwithbrokenwingsfalling.

Thank *you* for allowing me to host you, J Bennett!  

Wonderful person that she is, she’s offering one lucky reader the oppurtunity to win a copy of Falling in any e-book fomat of their choosing. Just leave a comment telling me how you’d evade or cope with Bennett’s Angels, or just toss you name in the hat! I’ll draw one name at random and post the results on July 17th, 2012. Contest ends officially on July 16th at midnight. 

Falling: Girl With Broken Wings Book 1 by J Bennett

July 9, 2012

The intellectual challenge of college and the warm embrace of a serious boyfriend have given Maya the wings she needs to break away from her bookish and shy reserve. Her world comes crashing down when a stranger with glowing hands kills her boyfriend and injects her with a DNA-altering serum.

After being rescued by two young men claiming to be her brothers, Maya begins to transform.  Her senses sharpen. Her body becomes strong and agile. Most disturbingly, she develops the ability to visually see the emotions of those around her as colorful auras.

Beautiful Auras….Tempting Auras.

One brother wants to save her. The other wants to kill her before she becomes too strong.

Struggling to control the murderous appetite that fuels her new abilities, Maya must find a way to accept her altered condition and learn to trust her brothers as she joins them in their battle against those who chose the change and the evil it entails.

The ones who mockingly call themselves…Angels.

Full Disclosure: This book was not purchased. Thanks to the author, J Bennett, for sending a review copy!

Quirky, and fun with a dash of heart-wrenching family drama, Falling is the first book in the Girl With Broken Wings series and debut novel of author J Bennett.  Book one introudces Maya’s world which, for the most part, unknowingly harbors technologically advanced humans called “Angels” that suck the enegy from any energy-carrying host. Humans, naturally, are the prefered source. What with our complex emotions and concentrated bursts of energy on any given thing. Maya has remained blissfully unaware of the dangers in her world, thanks to College and boyfriends and the effects of “Living a Normal Life”.

That is, until that “Normal Life” gets shattered one horrible night when a stranger confronts her, kills her boyfriend, and proceeds to infect her with the Angel Serum. All the while claiming they’re related. Luckily for Maya, he’s not the only one that can make that claim, and she finds her true guardian angels in the form of two boys who say they’re her brothers.

Maya’s POV can be hard to adjust to as it sometimes resemble’s writing under ‘stream of conciousness’. There’s also a chapter devoted to Gabe and Tarren’s (Maya’s brothers) POVs but this happens once and never again. Which is kind of a shame because Gabe is hysterical, and seeing Tarren’s POV contradict with his brothers proved very enlightening in regards to how their dynamic works.

Once safe, Maya has to deal with the fall out of her tansformation, the life and loves she’s left behind, as well as trying to cope with life on the run with brothers she doesn’t know. Tarren doesn’t trust her as far as he can spit. Meanwhile Gabe is almost too accepting…and protective of her and the last shred of humanity clinging to her DNA for dear life.  Maya has to prove she’s tough enough to handle the Angel-hunting lifestyle while also proving she’s still human enough to ignore her Angelic urges…and not to kill them in their sleep.

This is especially appealing to me because it’s not often I come across YA novels featuring a Female POV where the conflicts between the male and female characters didn’t in some way involve romance or sexual tension.  I’m not so much criticizing romance as a plot device, it’s just refeshing to see conflicts between men and women that go beyond romantic and sexual urges. Once in awhile, it’s nice to see expamples of friendships or even (and in the case of Falling) family relationships building between men and women.

Overall, Falling is a good debut to a series filled with fun and interesting chaacters who I look foward to learning more about in future Girl With Broken Wings novels.

You can purchase Falling at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords!

Interview with Grant Palmquist + Giveaway

June 23, 2012

Grant Palmquist lives and works in Houston, TX. He holds a BA from the University of Houston. His writing has been featured in Chizine and Underground Voices.

1. Hi Grant! Thank you so much for agreeing to let me pick your brain. I’m kinda afraid to ask, but where did you get the idea for A Song After Dark?

Initially, the idea for A Song After Dark was more along the lines of a character study of a drug-dealing high-school student . . . but then it turned into what it is now. The idea morphed after I started writing it, and I began to ask myself questions, like: 1) Why were most of the popular people in high school such assholes? 2) What if a really nerdy guy, who dreamed of popularity, were taken under the wing of one of these popular people? 3) What if this popular guy turned out to be a charming, intelligent sociopath?

2. All good questions! And good questions are the best tool a writer can have. How long have you been writing for? What were some of the first things you wrote?

I’ve been writing off and on since I was fourteen or so. I’m thirty-two now. It started out as aborted attempts at novels and screenplays. I think my first try at writing was something about a sacred stone that gave whomever found it great powers, followed by some kind of crime screenplay. Oh! And in eighth grade I wrote a story about a man who walked into a town with a shotgun and wiped everyone out. My teacher gave it a D and said it was like a bad Stephen King story.

3. Who inspires you?

Ryu Murakami, Jack Ketchum, Haruki Murakami, Craig Clevenger, Cormac McCarthy, Leo Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, Wilco . . . the list goes on.

4. I’m delighted not to know some of those names, now I have something to look up! What’s your “process” like? Are you a pantster or plotter or a bit of both?

Definitely a pantser. I only have a vague idea of the what if? situation and run with it. I can’t do an outline to save my life. I don’t see the whole story at once, just a little at a time, so that’s how I have to work. It keeps it fun and surprises me. However, I do write character notes and sketches to refer back to while I’m writing.

5. A Song After Dark was decidedly Horror, Permanent Winter felt more Dark Fantasy. Do you intend to explore other genres as a writer, if so, which ones?

Yes. My next novel is a mix of horror and dark fantasy. It should be out in September. I’d also like to write action, mystery, crime, science fiction, and literary novels and stories. A little bit of everything!

6. Is there something you absolutely couldn’t write?

Yes, anything regarding pedophilia.

7. Do you pursue other creative endeavors besides writing?

I used to write poetry from time to time, but not so much anymore. So no . . . but I’d eventually like to paint and draw, among other things.

8. Do you have favorite words? Most of mine tend to be censored on Television and the others make me question my sanity.

There aren’t any words I could single out and call my favorites. I’d say whatever the best words are to create a clear picture in the reader’s mind without overloading him/her with detail – depth in simplicity.

9. I agree. Some of my favorite writers have turned brevity into an art. If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?

The Workaholic. I feel like I should always be working on something or I’m wasting my time. I get up at 3:30 AM just to have time to write. It can be brutal at times, but it’s most definitely worth it.

 10. Now that’s dedication! Do you have a WIP on the backburner or any ideas for future books you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Yes. The dark fantasy/horror novel referenced above is called Dirge. Without going into too much detail, I’ll say it’s about a man who thinks he has it all, only to lose it and fall into another realm ruled by a Satan-like figure. The world is full of cannibals and killers and freaks. I’m also always writing short stories – have four or five on the backburner right now – and have given some thought to writing a novella before writing my next novel.

Being the generous man that he is, Mr. Palmquist has offered to give away one of his novels to one lucky commenter! Here’s what to do, go read my reviews for A Song After Dark and Permanent Winter, then come back to this post and tell me which of the two you’re dying to read. I’ll draw one name from the magic hat, and the owner of that name will be awarded the title they selected. Contest ends June 30th, 2012.

Permanent Winter by Grant Palmquist

June 22, 2012

Freezing rain and sleet shroud the city of Nepenthe in a chilly mystery . . . Reports of mutilated bodies washing up on the beaches terrorize the community . . . A cold-blooded, ruthless vampire couple is on the loose, killing and feeding for sport and sexual pleasure . . .

Haunting visions torment Joshua, a young man who believes his purpose is to find out who or what is behind these gruesome murders. His life will be forever changed by the Permanent Winter he encounters.

This novel contains depictions of graphic violence and sexual situations. Recommended for readers 17 and up.

Full Disclosure: Thanks to Grant Palmquist for sending a review copy.

Permanent Winter is a look into the seedy underbelly of Nepenthe, a city not yet aware that it is plagued with Vampires.  In the backdrop, Skye and Blane wreck havoc, trolling for blood and sex and whatever feels good, but Skye’s beginning to feel like she want more to life than eternal youth and power. Joshua, a local, has long suspected that God has an important task just for him. He can feel it in his bones but can’t figure out where to start, that is, until the murders roll in. Meanwhile his father, Hank, deals with the fallout of his estranged marriage to Joshua’s mother. Hank hates himself for it, but he feels lonely…and loneliness leads him to seek out the pleasures of a warm body at new club in town.  And finds himself getting a lifestyle change that’s more than he bargained for.

I thought this was an interesting look into the Vampire mythos. Make no mistake, Palmquist’s Vampires are the stuff of legends and nightmares. They are unapologetic monsters, which is actually a refreshing change of pace for me.

While some of the dialogue made me flash back to A Song After Dark Permanent Winter is a very entertaining follow up in Palmquist’s budding career. And well-worth checking out if you’re a fan of Dark Fantasy and Vampires of the non-glittery-and-or-love-interest-fodder variety.

Permanent Winter can be purchased at Amazon and Smashwords.

And the Winners for my MERGE Blog Tour Giveaways are…

June 21, 2012

Cathi Payne (@WA_side)

aldelei89

Na S.

Please e-mail me at bahamianlily (at) gmail (dot) com with your preferred e-mails, which 1889 Labs book you’d like to recieve and in what format, and I’ll make sure Anna and the 1889 Labs team get it to you.

MERGE Blog Tour: “Guest” Post + Giveaway!

June 14, 2012

Planning for Disasters

Pip pip, tally ho! My name is AM Harte, and I am British! Care for a cuppa tea?

Okay, I have to admit something: I’m not really Anna. Anna is cavorting around New York City at the moment, trying to find the secret alley that inspired Kit’s Vampire General series. I even drew her a map so she could find it easily. Though it’s a map of Houston. But whatever. Same continent, same diff, I always say.

So why am I pretending to be Anna right now? I will tell you why: Anna was meant to have a guest post today, and she put the guest post into a Dropbox folder, and she sent me a link to the Dropbox folder, and then she left for NYC. And I, being the wise one I am, mistakenly deleted the email, thereby losing said guest post for all time.

If this sounds unfortunate, just wait until she gets back from NYC and has access to her cockney ninjas again.

As punishment for my crimes, I have been instructed to write a guest post in her place, and to make it “intelligent, informative, and fun.” I am not familiar with those first two words, but I excel at the third! So let’s have at it! Today’s topic is PLANNING FOR DISASTERS.

Now, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to organize a good disaster, if you take the time to do it right. There are many good self-help books to get you started, but my general rule of thumb is to make sure you set out to do something fantastically more complicated than you have the capacity to accomplish without the aid of heavy narcotics or space aliens. Or space aliens on heavy narcotics. They always drop the probes. So funny.

Let’s hypothetically say our project is to create a sprawling series of short stories written by four different authors, culminating in a complex finale, and wrapped up in an ambitious blog tour with an iPad as its prize. Now that is an extremely silly idea, and I congratulate you for thinking it up. Very original. But the problem is, it’s just too doable. Nobody will look at that and say: “Crikey! They must be mad!” Unless they’re Australian. In which case they’re saying it while you’re asleep, so it doesn’t matter so much.

Anyway, the important part here is to add drama to the mix. The easiest way to add drama is to set a deadline so insane, there is no way it can possibly be met. For instance: rather than, say, scheduling your complex series to happen six months down the road, why not be silly and pick dates two months in the future? Two months is so little time, only a fool would think anything meaningful could be accomplished.

Your probability of disaster just shot up a good 25%. Good for you! You’re almost there!

Now, a core element to any good disaster is procrastination. You’ve got two months, sure, but what if you actually used those 60 days to prepare? Why, that almost eliminates all your disasterly planning, and the exercise will have been for naught. A quick and easy way to counter this is to neglect to do any work on the project for at least thirty days, instead focusing on watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy on slow-motion-reverse, so you are chronologically prepared for the release of The Hobbit. It’s only a waste of time if you unplug your ears and listen to reason.

Fine, good, so now you’ve got upwards of 70,000 words to write and corral in the space of 30 days, though you have to factor in editing and proofreading, which takes you down to 15 days, and then of course there’s plotting and character development, so maybe more like 10 days, and then weekends and bank holidays, so… yes, you’ve got about four and a half days to write.

Now is a good time to break your right hand in a coffee-grinding accident.

All four of the authors need to do this, I should say. If one of them doesn’t have a coffee grinder, you will have to special-order it, so make sure you schedule that in far in advance. You can’t take chances when you’re trying to be late.

Here’s the awful part: you somehow manage to pull off a miracle without the aid of heavy narcotics, space aliens or Australians, and get the stories done on time, and start releasing everything as scheduled. You have your writers do guest posts and interviews for excellent sites like Black Sun Reviews, and suddenly, you realize your ultimate goal of having an absolutely catastrophic disaster may be slipping through your fingers.

Nobody wants to get to this point, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. But there’s a way to get things back on track: leave your most cherished guest post in a Dropbox folder that nobody can access while you’re cavorting around New York, knowing full well that with a bit of technical wizardry, it might be recoverable… but instead of attempting said wizardry, write to a sleep-deprived maniac and tell him to fill in for you, using the words “intelligent, informative, and fun.”

That is the quickest way to create a disaster, guv.

MCM is the creator of the animated series RollBots. He also writes books, such as The Vector, The Pig and the Box, and Typhoon. When not doing such things, he is coding sites like this one. He is also insane.

This was possibly the most delightful hijacking I’ll ever witness. Thanks to MCM for valiantly stepping in for Anna in her time of…out-of-town-computer-related-SNAFU-ness.

Head on over to 1889 Labs to purchase the latest MERGE story, then come back and tell me how you would avoid disasters the likes MCM has described, or evade cockney ninjas, or aliens…or Australians. Personally, I’d rather not avoid the Australians. Particularly if they look like Chris Hemsworth. I’m just not keen on traveling to the land of EVERYTHING WANTS TO KILL YOU for the sake of “not avoiding” them…or you could just toss your name into the hat. I’ll draw one name, and the winner will be awarded any 1889 Labs book of their choosing. Giveaway ends Friday, June 20th, 2012 at Midnight EST.

Don’t forget there are other prizes to be won (Recap below!) by commenting here and on all the other wonderful sponsor’s posts, subscribing to the MERGE mailinglist, pointing fellow book junkies towards 1889 Labs’ facebook page, and tweeting with the hashtag #merge1889.

First place: brand new iPad + ecopy of entire MERGE anthology
Second place: ecopy of entire MERGE anthology + $10 amazon/iTunes voucher
Third place: ecopy of 4 MERGE stories of choice  + $10 amazon/iTunes voucher

Winners will be announced on June 20th, which is 1889 Labs’ 6th birthday. On the same day we will release the full MERGE anthology.

Readers can enter to win by:
– Subscribing to merge mailing list =5 entries
– Like 1889 labs Facebook page = 2 entries
– Tweet using #merge1889 = 1 entry, once per day
– Comment on a blog tour stop = 1 entry.  – The MERGE Press Release

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the MERGE 25K Challenge! 1889 Labs is graciously offering readers the opportunity to download a copy of Yvonne Reid’s LONG WAY DOWN for free! And get this, if they reach 25000 downloads before June 18th, one lucky download-er will have the opportunity to name a character in Reid’s upcoming release, ASCENSION: AWAKENINGS.