Month: September 2014

Book Review: Mind Storm, by K. M. Ruiz

I went into this book knowing only that it involved mutants and it was K. M. Ruiz’s debut. I don’t know if I’m unlike most readers, but I didn’t give a thought to the quotes on the cover. While I can appreciate the endorsements, I don’t want to be influenced by another’s reading experience. I want to go into any book I read with a clean slate and let the author make or break my reading experience with their characters, world, and words. And I think that’s where a lot of readers get hung up, on the X-Men meets Blade Runner comparison. You see it time and time again in the reviews. Folks complain because Mind Storm wasn’t anything like X-Men. Don’t get hung up on the quotes, folks. Give this author a chance to spin her tale. You won’t be disappointed.

Mind Storm

And now a word from the publisher:

The first in an exciting new sci-fi series that’s being described as Blade Runner meets X-Men

Two hundred and fifty years after the world was nearly wiped out by nuclear war, what’s left of society fights over the scraps of the Earth as the rich and powerful plan to ascend in secret to another planet. But the deadly new breed of humanity that the rulers have enslaved to protect their interests are about to change everything.

K.M. Ruiz’s Mind Storm is the rip-roaring tale of Threnody Corwin, a “psion” with the ability to channel electricity like lightning through anything she touches. As a solider-slave for the human government, Threnody is recruited by an unknown enemy: the scion of Earth’s most powerful (and supposedly human) family, the Serca Syndicate. But Lucas Serca is far from human and he intends to make Threnody and her fellow psions meet their destiny, no matter how many people he has to kill to do it.

Mind Storm is the first of two books chronicling the fight for survival by the psions and other “gene-trash” humans, before they’re killed by the racist world government, or left to die on a crumbling Earth.

War is hell. So is what comes after…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was something different, a bit of freshness that the Sci-Fi genre needs from time to time. For that alone I applaud K. M. Ruiz. But we’d be doing her book a disservice if we only classify it as Sci-Fi. Mind Storm is something of a genre mash up, at least in my opinion it is. Take a Sci-Fi setting, fill it with the action and intrigue you’d find in a Thriller, and add to that the multiple POV system often utilized in the Fantasy genre, and you’ve got the recipe for what makes Mind Storm a memorable read.

What stands out to me most is the world in which these psions live. Set a couple hundred years in the future, they either serve the government or are branded a renegade and hunted down. Even though the psions have mutated and developed powers over various elements like fire or electricity, telekinesis or telepathy (to name a few), they don’t have much to live for. They are often taken by the government at a very early age and programmed to serve obediently, or die. Most of their lives are spent knowing a few mistakes can lead to a push of a button and their subsequent deaths. I found this to be very believable in a world where the remnants of the human race are clinging to life years after nuclear war has ravaged the planet. The psions are like the government’s dogs. They go and do what they’re told to do and are thrown away when they’re not needed anymore. Got some dirty work? Send in the psions!

Much of this book is told through multiple POVs, which a story of this magnitude needs. It gives readers a more complete picture, and vision, of a society that is just barely hanging on. Plus we get to see each side of the equation. There really aren’t any clear cut good, or bad, guys here. Various shades of grey rule the day with these characters left to choose what they believe is the best course of action. I quite liked that. When the chips are down and everything is going to hell, each character had to look deep within themselves and find their motivation. Sometimes their motivations gelled with other characters. Sometimes they didn’t.

K. M. Ruiz has the makings of a master storyteller. Hers is a voice I want to hear more from in this, or any genre. And if she ever needs a critique partner, or someone to bounce ideas off of, I’m more than available. Just throwing that out there. 😉

I did have a few minor gripes. There were times when action sequences felt stymied by unnecessary narrative, where the author was trying to explain things instead of letting the action unfold. It took me away from what should have been meaningful action, and plot points. A few of the characters read the same way too, meaning if their names weren’t different you wouldn’t know you were reading about two different characters. Nothing major. I would have like to see a little more death too. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see if I get my wish in the sequel. Fingers crossed!

All-in-all, I applaud K. M. Ruiz’s debut. She managed to inject new life in a genre that often needs it. I would describe Mind Storm as a stylish, sophisticated, and gritty read, one you don’t want to miss. How’s that for an endorsement? I’m giving K. M. Ruiz’s, Mind Storm, four out of five stars. I will definitely buy the second book and be on the lookout for whatever she has planned next. It isn’t often you find a debut as polished and intelligent as this. Readers of all walks will find something to love with this book. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy. Then you can rave about K. M. Ruiz too!

You can learn more about K. M. Ruiz by following this link to her official website: http://www.kmruiz.com/

Follow K. M. Ruiz on twitter here: https://twitter.com/KM_Ruiz

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Cover Reveal: The Dark Carnival Horror Anthology

About a year ago the fine folks over at Pen & Muse wanted to do something to showcase their love of Halloween and all things creepy. A short story collection featuring authors from various genres, called The Dark Carnival, was born soon after. In it you’ll find everything from YA to classic horror, trust me when I say there is something for everyone in this anthology. Fast forward a year and The Dark Carnival is set to be an absolutely free e-anthology. That’s right, I said absolutely free!

What do you say we take a look at the cover?

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Drumroll please!

Ta-da!

Dark-Carnival-PM-Horror-Anthology

BLURB: In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It’s The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise anyone can leave…alive.

Cover design by C. Elizabeth Vescio, who also contributed a story. You can learn more about this multi-talented author and artist by following this link: http://www.thewastedseries.com/

Brought to you by The Muses–Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian–of Pen & Muse Press. Find out more about their author services and all things writing by following this link: http://penandmuse.com/

What authors can you expect to find in The Dark Carnival?

I’m glad you asked. There are really too many to cover individually, but I’ll give you a few. How about Julie Hutchings, author of RUNNING HOME and RUNNING AWAY, from Books of the Dead Press? Maybe you’re more into the dark and depraved, someone like Mark Matthews, author of ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN from Books of the Dead Press, as well as MILK BLOOD and other terrifying tales. You’ll also find stories by Kristen Strassel, Kat Daemon, Claire C. Riley, Mari Wells, and many, many more. Oh, and don’t forget about me. You’ll find my story, NOTHING BUT NET, in The Dark Carnival as well.

Please add The Dark Carnival on Goodreads by following this link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20495362-the-dark-carnival?ac=1

Expect to see and experience more as the release date approaches. Here’s a small tease to whet your appetite, courtesy of Meghan Schuler

Dark-Carnival-T3

A Few Thoughts About Writing After Signing A Contract

I’ve been away quite a bit lately. I know. If I had more time, or could clone myself, I would post more. The truth of the matter is I’m hella busy. With life. With deadlines. With creating new material. The list goes on and on.

It’s been about a week since I “finished” my second book. I say “finished” because my agent is reading it as well as a few trusted readers who will provide feedback, and then I’ll go through it a final time before sending it to my publisher.

Which brings me to a few things that have drastically changed since I signed with my agent and publisher. Keep in mind these are only my experiences. No two authors experience the same things.

Hurry up and wait. I think I was a little more prepared for this than other first time authors since I spent a few years in the military. People will want certain things by certain times. After that, you wait. A lot. Then you wait some more. It’s the way things go. If you plan on going the traditional route when it comes to publishing, you better get used to waiting.

A loss of freedom. Before I signed with my agent and publisher, I could write what I wanted, when I wanted. Even though I still have a say in which projects I pursue, I have to discuss things with my agent. I’m in the same boat when it comes to my three book deal. I have to write those books first, whether I want to or not. I’ve been very fortunate because my agent gives me complete freedom when it comes to my short fiction. Whenever I get the itch to write something different, I can take a week and pen a short story.

Play nice. When you sign with a publisher, you’ve got to play nice with the other kids in the sandbox. This will be easier/more difficult for some. I don’t have a problem mingling with other authors, but certain things like joining chat groups don’t really appeal to me. I’m a bit more guarded when it comes to letting other people in than most folks because of my upbringing. I know, I’m an odd creature, but aren’t we all? We all have our quirks. Feeling like you have to do something can make it seem even less appealing.

There are times when the things mentioned above have stymied my creative flow. The trick for me has been finding a way to tune out the outside world and concentrate on the task at hand. I’m an author now. Authors write. It sounds so simple. There have been times when I didn’t want to edit, or write, or be sociable on social media…but I have to. It’s part of my of responsibilities now.

Another part of being an author is prioritizing what you do with your time. It may mean not going to see that big summer blockbuster, or DVRing your favorite show and binge watching a whole season when you can, or not playing that shiny new video game all your friends are enjoying. Reading has also taken a backseat to my writing. These past few months I’ve read one book. I simply didn’t have time. My TBR list has grown and grown.

With that being said, being an author also means reading a review that calls out your story as one a reader loved. It also means gaining new fans, readers who can’t wait to see what you release next. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. And that’s why I write, to give folks a little escape from their everyday lives. Knowing I’ve done that makes everything worth while.

So what can you do now to prepare for the change publication brings?

Create quality fiction. Tell great stories. This, again, sounds so simple. Learn and understand what writing techniques work best for you. Find a few writers with similar interests and form a lasting critique partnership. Having even a few writers you can talk to behind the scenes can provide a great boost on days when you want to take your ball and go home. Nothing beats quality writing.

Be yourself. I’m a firm believer that the writers who will do anything in order to be published will eventually get exposed. Don’t be that person. You know the one who sucks up to anyone they think will further their goals. The know-it-alls. The writers who sign with an agent and suddenly know everything about publishing. We all know a few of those folks. A meaningful career as an author should span a good portion of our lives. The relationships we forge along the way, be it with publishers, editors, fans, or other authors, should also be meaningful. Nobody likes a phony.

Be patient. I know, I’ve covered this before but it’s important. Too often up and coming writers want to sign with an agent, or they want that publishing contract so bad, they tend to want to rush the process. You can’t. It will happen when it happens. Trust that your writing skills will get you where you want to go.

Write, write, write! Don’t be satisfied with having one or two finished projects. Keep writing. Create outlines of all you ideas. Start another book. When you sign with an agent, and/or publisher, they’ll want to know what’s next. It’s better to have at least an idea rather than hope something comes to you on the fly. Oh, and never stop improving!

There you have it. Keep in mind those are only some of my observations, and I’m no expert. I’m sure other authors will have other tips and advice. I’d love to hear more in the comments below. Remember, anyone can give advice. It’s up to the person receiving it to discern what makes sense and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to do what’s best for you. Talk to you next time!