Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Blood Zero Sky by J. Gabriel Gates

Unprofitables are banished to work camps to pay off their credit. Other tie-men and women look on apathetically. "Fair is fair. Everyone knows you shouldn't use more credit than you are worth to the Company. "They turn their attention to the next repackaged but highly coveted N-Corp product on the market, creatively advertised on the imager screens that adorn virtually every available flat surface. All the while, their mandatory cross-implants and wrist-worn "ICs" keep them focused on the endless cycle of work and consumption to which they are enslaved.

May Fields the CEO's daughter would like to believe she is above all that. Head of N-Corp's marketing team, the young woman who has almost everything anyone could want spends her days dreaming up ingenious ways to make workers buy more of what they already have and don't need. Even before May discovers that the Company is headed for its first loss in thirty years, she is feeling the stirrings of dissatisfaction with the system that has given her everything she's ever wanted . . . except the freedom to be herself.

When she is kidnapped by a member of the Protectorate a secret order dating back to the American Revolution May is suddenly faced with the frightening truth of what the Company's greed has done to our most basic human rights. Will she embrace who she is and join the battle to restore America's democratic freedom, or put her blinders back on and return to her safe and passionless life?

More prediction than fiction, "Blood Zero Sky "is a riveting, nonstop, and suspenseful gaze into the looking glass, destined to rise with the zeitgeist of our times to become the anthem of a generation.

Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Source: Thanks to the author, Mr. Gates, for providing me with a review copy!

I hate to admit that I was a bit turned off by the cover of this book, but on the flip side I'm pleased to say that Blood Zero Sky is amazing. Period.  I'm sure I won't be the only one to compare it to George Orwell's 1984 because it shares a lot of those same themes of totalitarianism, psychological control through filtering information and propaganda and an overall sense of helplessness at the all-consuming reach of, in this book, The Company.

What is awesome about this book is that no matter how many comparisons can be made to 1984 it stands completely on its own merit.  The cautionary tale it tells is all the more frightening because the technology we have today isn't far off from that used in the book. And it's not too big a stretch to picture a large powerful entity sneaking its way into monopolizing every industry in the country. It's totally believable.

And I haven't even mentioned the characters yet :) May Fields is the MC, but she's not your typical girl.  The CEO of The Company is her dad, and she's living the high life compared to a lot of people.  She's got everything she could want, but she still feels as if something is missing in her life. May is a strong female character and the fact that she's gay isn't what defines her, nor is it what the book is about.  She does have to hide the fact that she's a lesbian because that doesn't line up with The Company's religious policies. The whole Company controlled religion was another factor that added to the feeling of power un-checked when it comes to how the people live their lives.

I thought this was a great book for a variety of reasons. It definitely makes you think and speaks to a lot of things that are currently going on in our world today. It's also just a plain good read!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Immigration and Adaptation by Haskell G. Edwards, D. Min.

Immigration and Adaptation Book Summary
Adaptation is a must. But how does one go about doing this? It takes great planning, finances, and courage to leave one's homeland; but then finding support and comfort or anything of familiarity in a new land presents a whole new set of challenges. The stress is overwhelming. How do you gain the happiness and success you dreamed of attaining in the new land?

Immigration and Adaptation is here to help you navigate through these challenges. With the information herein, immigrants coming to North America will be prepared to identify and resolve social, family, and personal challenges with confidence. Mr. Edwards' vast professional experience with diverse immigrant families, as well as his own personal journey and genuinely encouraging approach, not only help immigrant families adapt to new surroundings, but grow stronger together in their journey.

This book includes:
- A family wellness test
- Step-by-step guidelines
- Real-life examples
- Inspirational stories
- Family, parenting, and spousal exercises
- Illustrations
- Single-parenting advice

Immigration and Adaptation also includes tips on: building self-confidence, resolving conflicts, tuning communication skills, networking and building social supports, budgeting, parenting, enhancing spousal relationships, helping teenagers adjust, communicating effectively, and more.

Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Genre: Self-help, Advice
Publisher: Langdon Street Press

To find out more about this book you can visit these websites:


About the Author:
Haskell G. Edwards, D. Min. has vast professional experience for more than forty years as pastor, administrator, family therapist, and director of a family therapy center. His extensive experience gained from working with immigrant families in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic setting, as well as his own personal journey and genuinely encouraging approach, positions him not only to help immigrant families adapt to new surroundings, but grow stronger together in their journey.

He has successfully held immigrant seminars, workshops, and lectures throughout North America. Now a retired pastor, he continues to help immigrant families of a wide cultural heritage transition into their new homeland.

You can visit the Author's website here.

Immigration and Adaptation is available for purchase on:

Amazon ($16.95)

Barnes & Noble ($16.95)


Ebook ($8.99)


And now for the GIVEAWAY!

You can win an ebook copy of Immigration and Adaptation!

I'm having trouble getting Rafflecopter working so we'll do this old-school.
All you have to do is leave you name and e-mail address in the comments.

Giveaway will run from August 14th - 20th
Winner will be chosen using Random.org

Thanks to Tribute books and the Author for allowing me to host this giveaway :)

Good luck, everyone!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Post by Tracey Sinclair: Why Do We Love Bad Boys?

Why Do We Love Bad Boys?

There’s something about a bad boy…
From Stefan Salvatore to Eric Northman, what is it about those bad boys that sets our pulses racing? We might crave the happy ever after with the nice guy, but we all want to dabble in the dark side – who didn’t find Spike more fun than Angel, after all, with his peroxide hair, the leather coat and the sexy British snark? It was enough to make you overlook the terrible accent. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon – you just have to look at a book like Wuthering Heights, where Cathy’s safe marriage never makes up for the wild passion of her tortured, tempestuous relationship with the brooding and borderline-demonic Heathcliff. We even like our good guys with a hint of darkness – Angel going Angelus, Stefan turning Ripper; even Sam Winchester got sexier once he started guzzling demon blood.
Partly, of course, this is because the devil gets all the best lines: the good guys are often left with little but po-faced sincerity.  Undying love is all well and good, but sometimes a girl likes a laugh: and all too often writers seem to think that being a hero means being serious all the time. You only get to be sarcastic if you’re a loveable rogue, Han Solo-style , and then it’s proof of your roguishness. You could argue, of course, that there’s the world of difference between that ‘loveable rogue’ type – think Han Solo, Mal Reynolds or Dean Winchester and the genuine bad boy so prevalent in vampire fiction (let’s not forget, both Eric and Spike are stone cold killers, and Damon has not only casually killed a lot of women, he has also compelled plenty to have sex with him – which is basically rape). But deep down, the fantasy is the same: that under that rough exterior beats a heart of gold, and all they need to change them is the love of the right woman. That woman being, of course, us.
You can argue it’s a pernicious ideology – how many women have stayed in awful or abusive relationships because they think ‘he’ll change!”? Certainly it’s a terrible, terrible way to live. But who said fantasies have to be politically correct? If that were the case, nobody alive would have bought 50 Shades. The very point of a fantasy is that it allows you to explore your own limits, to vicariously indulge in behaviours that in life are beyond the pale: personally, I’m a woman who only travels first class on trains and stays in hotels with cable TV and great room service: I’d last about 5 minutes ‘roughing it’. Does that stop me fantasizing about Dean Winchester sweeping me off into the horizon in the Impala to live a life on the road? Hell, no.
Because the bad guys appeal to our own wild side – we might live by the rules, but who doesn’t dream about behaving as badly as we want to, damn society and the consequences? Bad boys don’t live by anyone’s rules but their own: often, we want them simply because we want to be them, to have that freedom ourselves. “Don’t do anything stupid,” Elena tells Damon, in The Vampires Diaries, and he replies, “But stupid is more fun.” And sometimes you can’t argue with that.
[You might wonder how I approached this when I wrote the love triangle in my own book, Dark Dates: how to avoid the boring hero? Simple: I made them both bad boys. Problem solved – and a LOT more fun to write….]

Tracey, thanks so much for this awesome post! You definitely know your bad boys!
About the Author:
Tracey Sinclair is a writer and editor. Her novel and collection of short stories (Doll and No Love Is This, respectively) have been published by independent publisher Kennedy & Boyd,and her new paranormal romance, Dark Dates, is now available.

Her work has appeared in magazines as diverse as Sky, Printer’s Devil, Yours and Woman’s Weekly, as well as having been performed on the radio . Her first play, Bystanders, was premiered as part of the New Writing Season at Baron’s Court Theatre earlier this year. She also a regular contributor to online theatre magazine Exeunt (www.exeuntmagazine.com) and writes the Fangirl Unleashed column for www.unleashthefanboy.com

Her blog http://bodyofageekgoddess.blogspot.com was shortlisted for this year’s Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.
Her newest novel Dark Dates is available for purchase on Amazon.
(Click here for my review of Dark Dates)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Author Interview with Tony Rauch

About the Author: Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published. The first two are more adult related, though young adults may enjoy them depending on their understanding of the themes -  “I’m right here” (spout press) and “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press). The third story collection is geared to Young Adults - “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press).  An additional Young Adult title is forthcoming in the next few weeks – “As I floated in the jar.” Samples can be found at –

Rauch has been interviewed by the Prague Post, the Oxford Univ student paper in England, Rain Taxi, has been reviewed by the MIT paper, Rain Taxi, and the Savanna College of Art and Design paper, among many others.

Rauch’s short stories are imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal, fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. The underlying themes relate to fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, story starters for young adults and reluctant readers, etc.


Interview with Tony Rauch:

*I am personally a fan of short fiction, but I know some people haven't ventured into this realm much. What do you think is so appealing about short stories?

 I suppose every person has different feelings about this, and it is subjective, but for me the appeals are many, including -
- brevity - they don’t overload you with needless, overly bloated background info.
- experimentation – they can stretch the limits of fiction in form and subject matter.
- succinctness – they get to the point and can wrap things up quickly and neatly.
- volume – being able to experience a variety of adventures in a short period of time.

 *A short piece of fiction really puts the pressure on to deliver a full experience in a condensed package. Do you think it's harder to write short stories as opposed to those that are full novel length?

 Not for me, no. For me I think longer pieces would be harder – to keep that momentum and energy going, the pacing. I’m more of a sprinter, not a marathoner. With shorts, readers can fill in a lot of the details themselves if you paint with broad strokes. The minds eye of the reader can fill things in and flesh things out. I see shorts as being like dreams – sometimes you have to draw some of your own conclusions. In that regard some ambiguity is nice as leaving things out will get a reader thinking on their own about motivations or reasons for things.

 To me novels often have very contrived, soap opera twists and turns, whereas shorts usually focus on one single feeling or event. So that is easier for me to connect with – just focusing on a few things as opposed to trying to not be ‘all over the place’ with things.

 *Pure imagination is evident in all of your stories. Do you know where a story is going to take you when you get that first initial idea or are you kind of surprised yourself?

Sometimes. I try to get the endings first, then work backwards. But sometimes I get a flash of an idea, just a scene or snippet of dialog that I have to build a story around.

Sometimes I surprise myself in that I think a story is going one way and it sometimes ends up being something different – I may find that it works better a totally different way. But that’s part of the surprise and adventure of it - that point of discovery. But that’s what’s nice about short work – you can copy and paste and save, thus you can work on different variants of a story or theme.

Usually I try to have the entire story worked out in my mind or as an outline before bothering to type it up. If I can’t get something to work as fragments of notes, or if I can’t get excited about a vague idea, then it’s probably not worth my time to try to work out further.

Sometimes I’ll look at something months after it’s ‘finished’ and I’ll add some things to it to jazz it up more – an odd little detail here or there to punch up the weirdness and add more detail and depth. So re-visiting work after a long period of time seems to help me get out of the way of myself when bogged down in the initial writing process.

*I am going to assume that your brain is full of ideas and story inspirations considering how many short stories you currently have in Eyeballs Growing All Over Me...Again. How do you decide which ones to write first? Is it based on what you are most excited to write at that point? Or do you make a list and stick to it?

What I’m most excited about. And what is needed. When doing a story collection you need variety. The pieces can’t all be the same. So you need long, medium, short, and a few very short (flash) pieces. Then you need some dialog ones, some first person narratives, description ones, internal monologue ones, and hopefully a second or third person perspective one, etc. You also need some simple, straight forward pieces and a few more elaborate, complicated stories. You need a variety of forms and story types.

So in laying things out, often times good or interesting stories get bumped because they’re redundant to something else in the collection. To me it’s about balance and not being redundant. Then it’s about creating a rhythm to the manuscript as far as order of stories go.

So far coming up with ideas has not been a challenge for me, but that may change at some point. I’m sure eventually I’ll start to repeat myself, though I do already revisit some of the same themes as often I end up thinking of a different takes on them.

I usually have a lot of story notes and outlines saved up and I work on those, filling in the blanks. General ideas are easy, but getting them to work out as stories is the hard part. But the initial ideas seem to come pretty naturally for me.

*I love hearing where writers get there work done. Where can you most often be found writing? And what time of day do you find you are at your most creative?

Location = on my couch in my living room typing on my laptop on a TV stand. But a lot of my ideas just pop into my head throughout the day, so I guess a part of my brain is writing all day long.

Time = late at night. After 9pm. Friday or Saturday night after 11pm is best for me – everything is done (dishes, laundry, dog walked, lawn mowed, calls, emails, etc.) and no one is calling me. So that is the perfect time as my mind is free and clear then. The night feels like a blank slate, waiting to be filled.

Also when I’m on the bus or walking my dog, doing dishes, cleaning, or at the supermarket are good times to think about things and work things out as I have to be at those places or do those things anyway and it’s usually quiet, so why not get something else done too at the same time. That way I avoid wasting time with writer’s block in staring at a blank screen and getting worried about wasting precious time, because I’ve already thought about and worked some things out ahead of time.

So hopefully later in the day I have some ideas worked out, packed away, and ready to unravel.

*Do you think you will ever be able to write a story for all of your ideas? Or do they seem endless?

Hopefully the ideas are different, or different takes on them, and that no single story could encapsulate all my ideas or themes.

I believe I will run out of good ideas eventually and start to repeat the same themes, though every writer I suppose revisits themes as those are the issues they are most concerned about so they’ll probably want to devote a lot of thought and time to them.

*Who are some of your writing inspirations?

Anyone interesting, imaginative, and concise. Anyone who makes you think.
Mostly I like short stories as they get to the point quickly.
I like strange or absurd adventures that are well crafted and have a meaning to them, and sci fi as it offers ideas –

Older writers:
Donald Barthelme, J.D. Salinger, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Charles Bukowski, Franz Kafka, Leonard Michaels (murderers), Jayne Anne Phillips, Robert Coover, Samuel Beckett, Antoine de Saint Exupery (the little prince), Dr. Seuss (cool illustrations), Roald Dahl, Steve Martin (cruel shoes), W.P. Kinsella (the alligator report), Jim Heynen (the man who kept cigars in his cap), Don Delillo.

Contemporary writers:
Barry Yourgrau, Mark Leyner, Adrienne Clasky (from the floodlands), Lydia Davis (Samuel Johnson is indignant), Etgar Keret, Stacey Richter, George Singleton, James Tate (Return to the city of white donkeys), Thom Jones, Italo Calvino, Stephen-Paul Martin, Will Self, Denis Johnson (Jesus’ son), David Gilbert (I shot the hairdresser), David Sedaris, Paul Di Filippo.

Bizarro authors:
D. Harlan Wilson, Andersen Prunty, Carlton Mellick.

Science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s:
Rod Serling, L. Sprague De Camp, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Aurthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ursula K. Le Guin, etc.

So that’s a lot of influences I guess.

*What type of books do you most enjoying reading at the moment?

Biographies because truth is stranger than fiction.
As for fiction, I would recommend James Tate’s “Return to the city of white donkeys”. That book is all short prose-poems that act as little short stories.

But art and music also really inspires me. I guess art and music gets my mind thinking.

*What was your last book about?

A short story collection. Here is the blurb for that one -

"eyeballs growing all over me . . . again" is a 140 page short story collection of imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. These fables will make great story starters for young adults and reluctant readers. Some of the pieces are absurdist or surreal adventures that hearken back to imaginative absurdism, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1950s.
With themes of longing, discovery, secrets, escape, eeriness, surprises, and strange happenings in everyday life, readers will delight in these brief but wondrous adventures -

-  a man comes home to discover a Bigfoot-like creature watching his TV.
-  a giant robot pays a visit to a couple.
-  the new kid at school has some unusual toys to share.
-  an inventor creates an attractive robot in order to meet women.
-  a girl becomes so ill she has her head replaced with a goat head.
-  someone wakes to discover little eyes growing all over his body.
-  small, hairy creatures come looking to retrieve an object they had misplaced.
-  a boy finds an unusual pair of sunglasses in a field.

These short stories will give a reluctant reader a sense of accomplishment after reading.

*What is your next book about? When will it be out?

Another short story collection. I don’t know when EHP will release it, but soon – in the next few weeks/months I’m told. Here’s the blurb for that one -

 as i floated in the jar “ is a short story collection of imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. These fables will make great story starters for young adults and reluctant readers. Some of the pieces are absurdist or surreal adventures that hearken back to imaginative absurdism, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1950s.
With themes of longing, discovery, secrets, escape, eeriness, surprises, and strange happenings in everyday life, readers will delight in these brief but wondrous adventures –

-  a lonely girl finds a small spaceship in the woods.
-  a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.
-  a farmer invents gadgets to fight off infiltrators leaking in from another dimension.
-  a jar falls from a passing wagon, spilling a strange liquid that turns a mud puddle into something else.
-  a gang travels into the past to escape a regression plague that slowly turns people back into primates.
-  strange creatures abduct a man and try to sell him to a different set of strange creatures.
-  a man gets a verbally abusive amorphous blob as a roommate.

These and other adventures await the adventurous reader


Tony, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and answer some questions!


You can find out more about Tony's newest book "eyeballs growing all over me...again" on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

You can find out more about Tony Rauch and his books on his Blog.