Author Interview – And The Wolf Shall Dwell by Joni Dee

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and the wolf shall dwell

Joni Dee aka J. Dital

1. Tell us all a little about And the Wolf Shall Dwell

John is a regular Joe working in the City of London. A chance meeting and the death of a man on his way to work, which he witnesses, thrusts him into a world of espionage, politics and Jihadi terrorism. It is essentially a spy thriller, but not a Bond wannabe: the implications are far more political, and it can pass as a political thriller as the scheme traces back all the way up to the corridors of Westminster. No more spoilers!

You can get the first six chapters on my website, it’s still in pre-edit mode, so people – please be gentle http://www.jondbooks.com/download-pdf/

2. Where did you get the idea for the book?

I wrote on my introduction to the book on Inkshares that the idea for this novel came to me while I was walking into Liverpool Street station in London on a very early, cold and dark morning, on my way to work. That was not a cliché. I had written numerous drafts of other ideas and ended up throwing them all to the recycling bin…Then the idea had hit me on that dreary morning. I initially thought what if some guy was chased and ended up bumping into me – would I do something or just freeze on the spot? I rushed to write down the scene the very same evening.

3. Why did you decide to use Inkshares – a crowdfunded publishing site?
I came across JF Dubeau’s book “The Life Engineered” which I reviewed for NetGalley and I distinctly remember I was on the tube on the way to work when I finished it and saw the Inkshares logo and patrons pages (funny but everything seems to happen to me in the mornings, whereas I’m not a morning person at all!). As a result I started exploring Inkshares and decided to upload an Idea. A guy called Vincent Lim liked it, and wrote on my draft page “let’s do this mate!” – You can still see this comment on my page at the very start.

This gave me the kick in the rear-end that I needed and I revived the “three years plus working project” and uploaded chapter one… The rest is, well soon will be history!

4. Why do you write?

I love it. I see brilliant authors like Graham Greene, le Carré, (Roger) Zelazny to match your genre here and I envy them, envy their gift to leave me in a pool of emotions. When as a boy I read Frank Herbert’s Dune, I faked illness to stay home in order to finish it. I’d like to be able to get people to read something of mine and react the same way, I guess to make them feel things they may not have otherwise felt. For me, when I smile to a book, even a small smirk, I think – this has done something here just by playing on my strings. I want to be able to do that too…

5. What are your plans for the future with your writing?
There’s an old saying in Yiddish and Hebrew: Man makes plans and god laughs. If this becomes a best seller and I can go and make a career out of this, I’d be over the moon. If this stays a side profession, and I manage to get this book to as many people as possible and maybe even write a second one, I’ll be content as well. I am taking this one step at the time – let’s get this crowdfunded first!.

6. What’s your favorite line from the book?

Two faves:
First, as anyone who read the preview can see, I am obsessed with the sun, which we don’t see enough of here in London, and I refer to her as a female.
“The sun washed over the Kremlin building. Her rays jumped off the armored vehicles, emphasizing the spectrum festival that was St. Basil’s Cathedral and its proximate buildings.”

“You said it Murray: the Iron Curtain is indeed singing its swan song. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Both from chapters not yet published anywhere, the latter is an allusion from King James’ Bible, Isaiah 11:6.

7. Why should readers help support your book?

Well… That’s a curve ball… It’s good, it’s refreshing, and it offers a fresh take on the spy thrillers genre with an anti-hero protagonist who could easily have been you or me. I think the imagery will kick them right into the heart of the City of London and will make them forget about their own life and problems while they read. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?

Plus I’m a great guy!

Check out And The Wolf Shall Dwell on Inkshares

Book Review – The Running of the Tyrannosaurs

ROTT Overall review:4.95 Stars (4.95 / 5)

Far in the future, on a distant space station, young girls are chosen, trained, emotionally shaped and genetically modified for one purpose and one purpose only: to run and race tyrannosaurs, who have been brought back from extinction.  This is done for one reason – ENTERTAINMENT, on a galactic scale.

I listened to this novella of Stant Litore’s on Audible on a road trip.  First off, I want to say that I was very impressed with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which of course is legendary now.  But, Hunger Games cannot hold a candle to the depth and richness of both story and character in The Running of the Tyrannosaurs.

While this novella is a good read at a superficial level, I found it more rewarding for its allegorical nature, which addresses our society’s fixation on the pursuit of beauty and attention at all costs.

The story line was fresh and new and wonderfully portrayed.  Characterization was beyond excellent, with inner conflicts written with a subtle and deft hand.  I can’t really comment on the readability, since I listened to an audiobook, but I am assuming it is very good – his other book I am reading now (The Zombie Bible) is near perfect.  As far as writing craft goes – Litore is a master.  The cover art is beautiful and  accurately portrays the premise of the book.  For the worldbuilding, I had a hard time getting my head around the venue of the race, but I plan on listening to the book again and I think that will help.

Just so everyone knows – one day Stant Litore will be an author that is taught in literature classes, because his writing is as meaningful and significant as Vonnegut, Huxley, Orwell and Clarke.  Litore is also what I consider to be a “writer’s writer” and worth studying for form and content by anyone who is interested in writing fiction.

Very, very well done.  If I can ever be even half the writer Litore is, I will be content.

Story Line:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Characterization:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Readability:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Writing Craft:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Cover Art:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Worldbuilding:4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)

The Trope of the Love Triangle and Literacy

literacy rateThe other day one of my Inkshares pals (Evan Graham, author of Tantalus Depths)  posted a vlog on his Inkshares page titled “Writing Women as a Dude and Not Sucking at It.”  In the vlog he talked a little about the book Twilight and the ‘paper thin’ character of the female protagonist.  By all literary standards, the Twilight Saga was a complete and utter train wreck (I won’t even BEGIN to expand on the sexism perspective) but what can’t be denied is its extreme popularity.  In my opinion, the whole Twilight phenomena was one of those cases of lightning strikes, which happens to about .01% of authors (they just happen to be in the right place at the right time and they become international best sellers – it has little to do with the literary quality of their work), and the trope of 1 girl+2 dangerous boys in a love triangle.  This trope holds ENDLESS APPEAL to certain readers. (Another example with this trope – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is really a pretty good work of fiction IMHO).

But, I digress, I have a different take on this particular trope, and is has to do with where I live (East Tennessee).

Sadly, I live in a place where functional illiteracy is as high as 20-30%.  Many people I know have a hard time reading a basic set of instructions – i.e. how to operate a blender, or mix ingredients for a recipe or instructions on how to fill out a form – and I mean a BASIC form, not an IRS form, which are designed for maximum confusion of course.  They can’t even write down a phone number – they need help with it.

So, as far as books go, ANYTHING that will get people reading I support, even if it is ‘bad fiction’ (or bad non-fiction as the case may be).

Without an ability to comprehend the written word, any real ability for critical thinking just goes out the window and people become dependent on being TOLD what to think (and aren’t we seeing the fallout from that RIGHT NOW during this presidential campaign!)

In the mid 90s, I lived in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and at that time, a Washington Post reporter, Leon Dash, wrote a serial piece called Rosa Lee’s Story that completely changed my entire concept of both poverty and illiteracy. Mr. Dash won won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for this work.

I highly recommend anyone who is interested in the true impact of poverty and illiteracy read this series.  It will stun you.

More information on the impact of illiteracy overall.  https://proliteracy.org/Resources/Adult-Literacy-Facts

 

 

Author Interview – “Squids In” by Matthew Poat on Inkshares

Squids_In_Cover_01_RedoTell us all a little about Squids In

Squids In is a feel good, adult oriented story about a stoner called Toby and this octopus which gets stolen from a military animal testing lab by activists and dumped into Toby’s pool. It turns out that the octopus is a demon at playing video-games and so Toby creates an online account for the creature to play on and they take part in an assortment of player versus player death matches for cash prizes, with Toby amassing quite a fortune and becoming an online gaming celebrity. This all comes back to bite him however when Hendrix  (the octopus) gets stolen from him AND the military animal testing lab pull him in for intense interrogation over the animal lab break in. The last portion of the book revolves around Toby’s search to get Hendrix back. It’s very much written in a “Pineapple Express” style so if you like that kind of thing, this is definitely the book for you.

Where did you get the idea for the book? Real life experiences (LOL)?

My seven month old son was given a “Hank” cuddly orange octopus, one of the sea creatures that appears in the upcoming Disney film “Finding Dory”. When the topic for the Nerdist June writing competition was announced on Inkshares as being video-game related, I just sat on my sofa looking around for inspiration and Hank caught my eye. It was as simple as that.child_squidWhy did you decide to use Inkshares – a crowdfunded publishing site?

I was first brought to Inkshares via an article that appeared on the Geek and Sundry website, when they announced they were running a competition for hard sci-fi novels. Now, I don’t write hard sci-fi and rarely read anything that fits in that genre but I followed the link anyway and discovered this wonderful community of writers who were helping each other to achieve their goals, offered support and motivation. I think that was something I needed in order to get on and write and probably the reason I stuck around. There are some truly great people on Inkshares.

Why do you write?

I write purely as a form of distraction. My work and home life are very hectic and stressful. As a creative person, I am constantly in need of things that fire up that side of my brain and keep me balanced and sane, otherwise who knows what sort of person I will become. I would love to become a full time writer, but my writing skills need to develop in order for this to happen. The more I write, the better I write. It really is as simple as that.

What are your plans for the future with your writing?

My ultimate short-term goal is to finish in the top 3 in the Nerdist video-game contest with Squids In, which would guarantee publication. If the book does not finish that high, I’m not sure if I really want to limp on to Quill. That’s something I need to figure out in a few weeks’ time depending on how things go. I would love to publish the book properly however just so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy some of the artwork my illustrator Eugene Karasz from DeviantArt has done for it.

Why should readers help support your book?

My story is pretty different to everything else in the Nerdist video-game competition and because of this, Squids In is kind of the underdog of the top ten (along with the excellent Mothering: The Game by Regina McMenomy.) The other entries at the sharp end are there for a multitude of reasons of course, they are great ideas and books (shout out to “Destiny Imperfect” by Peter Ryan) but I like a good injection of comedy in the things I read and Squids In has ink loads of that.

Squids In on Inkshares

 

Writer Income: Big 5 Publishing Authors vs. Indie Authors – from Author Earnings

comparing-50k-trad-vs-100k-indies-768x443I was reviewing this exhaustive report from Author Earnings and found these statistics to be extremely interesting – indeed, the publishing industry has been turned on its head:

“…As of May 5, 2016, only 3 Big Five authors who debuted in the past 5 years are currently making a seven figure run rate from their Amazon sales — print, audio, and ebook combined. On the other hand, 14 indies who debuted in the same time period are right now doing the same.

But what about those “invisible” authors earning $100,000+ per year…?
The ones we keep anecdotally hearing about (and hearing from), who don’t show up on any Amazon category best seller lists?

Well, we found them. They were hiding in plain sight, in our million-title May data set.

Turns out there were 43 of them lurking unseen in the dark spaces between Amazon’s bestseller lists, including one author invisibly earning more than $250,000 a year. Unsurprisingly, 30 of the 43 invisible six-figure earners — including the top earner — were self-published indie authors. Most were writing in the Romance Fiction genres, but there was also an indie author of editor’s-choice Cozy Mystery Fiction, and even more surprising, a traditional-award-winning indie writer of Literary Fiction. We happen to think that’s pretty cool.

When we lowered the author earnings bar to $50,000 a year, we found 142 invisible authors that were earning that much or more on Amazon.com, without any of their titles appearing on any category best-seller lists. 105 of those 142 were self-published indies.

We live in exciting times. Today it’s possible to be a full-time professional author, quietly earning $50,000+ a year — even six figures a year — without ever sending a query letter to anyone. On Amazon alone, the data shows over a thousand indie authors earning a full-time living right now with their self-published titles.

The only gatekeepers that matter now are readers….”

 

AND IT IS ABOUT TIME……The thought of never, ever sending a query letter again – what bliss!

Complete report can be viewed here:  http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/

 

Book Review – The Life Engineered

life engineered Overall review:3 Stars (3 / 5)

The Life Engineered, by J.F. Dubeau is a story revolving around the trials and tribulations of a group of sentient robots, called Capeks.  The Capeks live in space, and their prime mission is to rebuild a destroyed Milky Way Galaxy.  Capeks have been created by humans just for this purpose.  But, when creatures are sentient, of course they develop their own ideas about things!

This book is a winner of the Sword and Laser Collection contest run on the Inkshares publishing site early last year.

I so wanted to like this book. I mean, sentient robots who get to live in space in a utopian society, not bound by nuisances like absolute zero, lack of gravity, no atmosphere, solar radiation etc.  What’s not to like? I read the first page, completely ready to be pleased.

But, about halfway through, I just had to put it aside.

I spent quite a bit of time in analysis on what it was I didn’t like about it, and my final conclusion it was just for too much to cover in one book.

There are basically three completely different settings, two of which need some real worldbuilding finesse to make them believable.  There are dozens of characters, and none of them are given the depth that is required to make them interesting and make the reader CARE about them.

The story line itself was muddled and the first three chapters were so diverse in settings and poorly transitioned, I had trouble piecing the threads of connection together, even half way through the book.  As I said before, the characterization was superficial, there were some nuances brought out in the protagonist at various points, which I thought were worthy of more expansion.  And there was a real bright and charming moment with one of the robot constructs that I enjoyed thoroughly.

And, as I said before the worldbuilding left a lot to be desired, in all three settings.  As far as craft, I think the talent is there, certainly the imagination is.  But, more work needs to be done to improve these skills.

Copy and line editing was excellent, I didn’t find any errors to stumble over.

The cover art was well done, rendered well on a computer and reflected the plot of the book very nicely.

And just as a side note, I think that this entire concept would have worked VERY well in a Weir/Howey model – i.e. short stories serialized over a period of time to give the author time to build a readership, develop a complex “storyverse,” and create real depth in the characters.  And those types of exercises always give an author the chance for improvements in crafting.

Story Line:2 Stars (2 / 5)
Characterization:2 Stars (2 / 5)
Readability:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Writing Craft:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Cover Art:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Worldbuilding:2 Stars (2 / 5)

 

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