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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 HAS COME AND GONE…

…or will be in the next few hours or so and it is funny how time flies—a peregrine falcon would’ve been impressed. Was it not a few days ago I was making this year’s first blogentry (and the only one of three)? As a matter of fact, this has been the most eventful year of my life and the longest, which is such a paradox. If there’s one thing I learned this year, it’s the inevitability of change. It will come whether one will like it or not and one can never be prepared for it, change.
Like I was for the majority of affairs I found myself in beginning from January. That first month I entered a supposedly yearlong national service following a brief month of mobilization in another state’s boot camp—the longest journey I ever made on the road, all fourteen hours of it—on the tail end of last year. I stayed in that state—it was in the east—for the better part of ten months, undergoing, assimilating and accommodating, but not necessarily understanding, another culture, set of values, delicacies, religion and weather. And I came out of it a transformed person, but not very. I met new faces and new characters with personalities I sincerely envy and every one of them left an imprint on me. I’m glad to have met the fellows I did in that time.
In my first blog entry of the year, I presented my, erm, resolutionsin a 12-stanzaed poem. As at the time of putting this down, I took a pause here to consider if I fulfilled the intents I selected.
<<Gulps tea…>>
I feared I hadn’t satisfied these declarations, at first. Then when I began looking at it in another angle, I realized I had done as I had said, due to a flaw: I hadn’t set, erm, parameters, or arguments, in the language of programmers. From a publishing standpoint, I didn’t do very much, or as much as I would’ve wanted, except had some stories accepted and published on several online reading platforms and published my first collection of short tales on Smashwords, Mungojerrie. I also had one of my short stories, Disconnection, accepted for an anthology, Deathmongers. But my resolution wasn’t publishing as many books as possible; it was “to ensure that I never ceased my commitment on a book.” I fulfilled that one, by Jove. This year I finished the first draft of a novel I started very early in the year and I intend to have it rewritten, rewritten, edited and published at the right time next year, fate willing. Since I completed that draft, I started another epic fantasy novel, already 50000 words strong at the time of editing this entry.
On my other intents, I did take on responsibilities that gave me the privilege “To render help to all I could” owing to my station in the east. But that’s it about resolutions.
<<Sips tea…>>
I cannot say for certain that ePublishing made giant strides this year compared to previous years except maybe the growth in status of Scribd and Oyster—I mean, Scribd even has its app on Playstore now—and the 40th anniversary of Graywolf Press (hearty congratulations to the press’s Pulitzer prize winner and nominations). With the good also came the bad. Though I’ve never tested the waters of Amazon, there wasn’t much to be pleased with in respect to their exclusivity offers such as Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select, according to many of the writers I know who use the platform to publish their eBooks, and CEOs of other publishing platforms. And now I hear of some All-You-Can-Eat books doodah. Amazon and their chicaneries. Apparently, ripping off authors by not ripping them off seems an ok thing to do. And it’s a pity; self-published authors have invested a lot already on their services—and I’m not even considering the financial point of view—to simply opt out.
This year was a good year for anthologies, for me. I had the privilege of reading a shelf-ful of collections and anthologies, though not necessarily published in the course of the year. Not to forget I got published in one, my first time. Thanks to Martin H. Greenberg, Kevin J. Anderson, Lou Anders, Kevin Bufton, John Joseph Adams, Robert Friedrich and others, I had a rich miscellany of miscellanies to keep me entertained throughout my service in the east. I also read some really good and inspiring novels by talented authors. Special kudos goes to Peter David, Jim Butcher, Chelsea Campbell, Greg Rucka, Steve Hockensmith and Graeme Reynolds. Reynolds’ High Moor was the last book I read this year, a genuine and inventive literature about werewolves. And yes, of course there are these books I ranked as the best I read this year. Peter David really rocked my year and I cannot decide which I loved best between his two novels, Artful and Q-Squared (the latter, partnered by his Vendetta—I read this one last year—has birthed in me a love for Star Trek literature and I will be nurturing that love earnestly in 2015). These two are the best novels I read this year by far. Joseph Mallozzi’s Downfall in Lou Anders’s Masked anthology (a miscellany of superhero/supervillain tales) was the best novella, and maybe the best I’ve read in a long, long time. J.G. Faherty’s The Great Zombie Invasion of 1979 in Kevin J. Anderson’s Blood Lite III was my best short story of the year (Ray Zacek’s The Sister’s in Robert Friedrich’s Deathmongers holds an honorable mention) and the best flash piece is Disconnection by yours truly, also in Deathmongers (but to be fair, I didn’t get to read too many flash pieces this year).




On the 12th of November, lander Philae of the Rosetta space probe made the first ever soft landing on a comet, a groundbreaking achievement in the field of spacefaring, and technology, generally; and amidst several other accomplishments as Microscale 3-d printing, brain mapping and ultraprivate smartphones, whatever that is, it’s safe to admit technology has come a long way since sending man to the moon and back safely with a 74kb computer. And it’s great to see ePublishing hasn’t been left out. Thanks to those fellows at Google and Apple, their updates in their mobile operating systems has permitted smoother, cleaner, faster performances of applications so that eReaders and the likes are prospering on even the smallest handheld devices, giving bookworms who can’t readily afford devices like the Kindle fire to own an ok substitute, especially in developing and third-world countries. Like someone said sometime ago on the comment section of a blog I visited, eBooks don’t just have competition within itself but also with alternative forms of entertainments and those includes movies, TV shows, video games, to mention a few, and the quality of these other entertainment options have improved significantly this year; it will only get geometrically better. So it’s only fair ePublishing is carried along.
All in all, this year has been an eventful, memorable one. I can only hope it is bettered by the coming one. Wishing all my readers and friends a Happy New Year in advance. Thank you for the memories of this one, the laughs, the arguments, the periods of indifference between. You all rock in so many ways. And to chip in my new year resolution early, `cause I don’t know when next I’ll post, it’s simple and I’ve set the foundations for it this year and it has something to do with building up a shelf, a shelf for a single series about individuals who have adventures in the extreme complexities of space.
Before I go, what movie made your year and which one are you looking forward to this coming one? Mine was Guardians of the Galaxy, and now I’m so immersed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s no surprise which movie I’ll be anticipating. ;-D

See you next year.
<<Drinks tea as browser loads published page…>>
***

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

eBook Reviews: Deeply Twisted By Chantal Noordeloos

I love collections. Why? Because, not only do I get a miscellany of riveting ideas commingled into one big, rich volume, they also provide insights, descriptions, situations, and an array of diverse characters within separate plots based on theming subjects. And what does it for me is that the  stories obey the titled theme. Throughout the course of this year, I’ve had the opportunity of reading fantastic collections by fantastic writers (I even had a story published in one earlier this year) so when presented with a review copy of yet another collection, this one, I jumped at it. And it didn’t disappoint.
Contained in this volume is a compilation of brilliantly developed ideas, each one unique in itself and in its genre. The writer, with the solemnity of her efficient words, took me on a bumpy, intriguing ride through the long dark route of the material and immaterial divisions of horror, junctioned by depraved serial killers, zombies, otherworldly monstrosities, witchery and truly sick endeavors unexpected of the conception of the most seemingly innocent of minds. Verily, it’s a tome of twisted stories. From a bog that vomits soggy specters to a conference of murderers to a startling tower clock whose interval timing unleashes hideous, ravenous creatures to misunderstood witchcraft, this compendium holds something for every fan of dark fiction.
It helps that Chantal’s description, her scene-to-word representation is totally vivid and unrestrained, uninhibited. She lays it down as it is; stomaching it is up to you. If it’s rape or child molestation, it is, with all its morbid description; all of the gory stuff are clearly depicted in its terrible, repulsive glory. It left me wondering sometimes whether she didn’t go over the top, whether she didn’t enjoy writing the despicable stuff a little bit too much.
As a whole, the book is a proud representation of the theme. I went in seeking what it told me I would get and I finished satiated. You get your time’s, and more than your money’s, worth if you’re seeking spine-tingling, blood-curdling enjoyment.
The individual stories are mostly well-detailed, expressed, with reader-friendly grammar. The pace, however, was slow at times, moderate other times; but, for me, it was all well and good. I would’ve reviewed each story based on their individual level of twistedness but I’m lazy, plus there’s this hindering constraint of word count. But if I want to go by this, then fifteen stories certainly made well above the cut, with no fewer than nine of them being terrific and perfect in their plotting (I have especial love for The Widow, WHEN THE BELL TOLLS, Victims of Evolution, Jade and Your Familiar Smile). Five others however left me desiring more from them, falling short of my expectation. Not that they weren’t good stories. In fact they were, but in the setting of the collection, they weren’t “twisted” enough, or didn’t have sufficient meat for sumptuous consumption (I specifically disliked When The Heavens Cried Gold (this one I believe did the originality of this splendid collection a tiny measure of disservice) and Hungering Depths).
Great, eye-catching cover too, but I’m one who tends to look beyond covers.
So, if you’re considering owning a copy, here’s my advice: Stop considering. Order one now. Let Chantal pick at your brain and tell you, in hoary whispers, the deep, dark secrets of a perverted mind!
I’ve rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Here's the link on Amazon

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION



Here's a little slice of what this year will be like! Welcome, Twenty-fourteen.

“Happy New Year! Happy New Year!”
The grown-ups jumped; the young ones danced
In high spirits, warm and sincere.
And couples kissed when they were chanced
Everyone in a good, fine cheer.

My folks and I were not left out;
We hugged and sang with pure delight,
Then spread and made merry about
Under the moon, fair, full and bright.
Love, joy and fun diffused throughout.

We were at church. Where else was best
To share the moment with our friends?
While we rejoiced, fireworks blessed
THE sky with sparks with funfair ends.
And I observed very impressed.

But much later I was concerned
With issues pressing, thoughts crucial:
Last year’s ending, I had discerned
That though I’d done a lot useful,
I could have done more. This I learned.

Of course I’d left some pleasing marks
Helping friends and fellow writers;
My works had garnered swell remarks
From readers, sites, and songwriters,
My star ratings were full of sparks.

But on my desk were forsook drafts
Of stories I had started well
But left floating like renounced rafts.
Don’t ask me why. I was cruel.
’Twas a pity, they were fine crafts.

In addition, I was slothful,
Would wake at ten and sleep at ten.
Tell you the truth, I was awful.
I’d pick my pen but now and then
And scribble something distasteful.

But even then I did some good
And wrote so well I was pardoned.
But when I gave my thoughts some food,
I realized, and was hardened
To start working the way I should.

So I resolved to endeavor
In all projects I undertook,
And to ensure that I never
Ceased my commitment on a book.
The decision was quite clever.

But more to that, I elected
To render help to all I could,
So that none was left neglected.
I resolved to make sure I stood
On these intents I selected.

Satisfied then with all my plots,
I returned to my merriments.
The sky was filled with sparkling dots
And people watched in fond segments.
(The lovely sight filled me with watts).

Digesting the activities,
Relishing the experience,
Enjoying the festivities,
The feeling was delirious,
Right for my sensitivities.