Reviews

You don’t care what I think. I respect that. But I’m telling you anyway.

Sushi-Burritos Taste Amazing!

You’ve never heard of them? Well allow me to introduce you to them.

I just had one of these last month, while I was out with my sister at one of our new favourite restaurants, Samurai. So I can tell you it’s definitely available outside of California and New York.

Also, they’re right. It’s helladelicious. One of the best things I ever put in my mouth.

Here’s a pic of the one I ate, which I tweeted. And some other stuff we had that day.

Embedded image permalink

Embedded image permalink

Ummm…those shrimp were tasty. And in the background, that’s a watermelon Smirnoff. Had no idea it came in that flavour. Definitely an improvement over the acidic original flavours.

And now I’m hungry.

Off to eat!

Stay thirsty (and hungry!) my friends ūüėČ

An Awesome Story I Just Had To Share

So Myke Cole posted this.

And it was so unusual to see a writer of that caliber make a plea like that, I had to go read the story immediately. Took me half a day, going in and out of tasks, and I’m so glad I did.

It’s amazing. Really, really good.

I have to agree with Mike. We need this person to write more. We need to let them know the impact they’ve made.

So please, help him out. Share the tweet he’s sent out on Twitter and spread the word about this story.

I went in blind, and was able to really appreciate it that way, so I won’t spoil it with details, but I have to say if this guy’s work was on a shelf, he’d have a buyer in me.

Go read it here. Then follow the links to the other parts. You won’t regret it. If you have problems linking to Part 2, just right-click on the link and choose to open it in a new tab.

Wow. Just…Wow.

Omg reaction gifs

LEX TALIONIS Has Won An IPPY Award!

I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, ever since my last day at the BOCAS Lit Fest actually, and I still can hardly believe it myself.

But the proof is right here.

LEX TALIONIS, my debut novel, was just awarded the Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook by the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It’s the¬†first award for my book, and the first time I’ve won a prize in a writing competition since I was a teenager.

How do I feel about this, you ask?

Hmmm…let me see…

Dance party hard reaction gifs

Dance party hard reaction gifs

Nailed it amazed excited reaction gifs

Nailed it amazed excited reaction gifs

Any more questions?

No?

Then excuse me because I have alcohol to drink.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

You Haven’t Seen Snowpiercer Yet? Say It Ain’t So!

Because that movie rocks. It literally rocks. When did you last see a movie that uses horror to highlight social injustice in an entertaining and thoughtful way?

South Korean and Australian cinema, particularly the thrillers and horrors, have become my new favourite source for good movies. When I saw the trailer for Snowpiercer I knew I was going to see it. I even posted it on here as one of my must-see trailers. But the movie itself turned out to be far better than I expected. It was one of the best I saw last year. I reminded me of some of the other great South Korean movies I’ve seen, like ‘The Host’, and those I plan to see, like ‘Mother’.

I started thinking about the movie again today because I came upon¬†this article which mentions the scientific concept used to such great effect in Snowpiercer. It nicely breaks down the premise and it’s possible effects. Which is damn scary, frankly. Especially since China is doing this already.

Was also explaining 3D printing to my Dad on the way to work this morning. He was fascinated by it, and totally got how much the method would strengthen certain constructs, like spaceship parts.

Some days I’m just struck by how much future-world we’re living in. Mostly, it’s not the one we expected. But I think that’s because growing up alongside technology makes it seem much more mundane than it really is. I love that about life, actually. In my writing, I like trying to capture how tech is just no big deal to the world now, while at the same time being pretty amazing. I mean, think about trying to explain the stuff we use today to someone born 100 years ago. Insane, right? In one hundred years, the advances we’ve made have been¬†incredible in some areas. Sadly, once you step out of the arena of technology, we still have a lot of stuff to work on. Right, Emma Watson?

But yeah, this is a strange and wonderful future we live in. Hope we make the right choices so we can advance together¬†from here. Some days, I’m not sure we will. Other days, I think it will all work itself out somehow.

Either way, I think we’re all in for a¬†wild¬†ride.

And much like the residents of Snowpiercer, we’d better make sure we’re on a train we can all live with.

Greg Byrne Got One Hell of a Publishers Weekly Review For His Debut Novel Nine Planets!

Greg’s a wonderful old friend from Australia and we met on the OWW¬†years ago where we supported each other as we crept toward our goal of being decent writers some day and shared our love of all things cricket.

Greg wrote this amazing, emotional, dystopic yet¬†almost urban fantasy book called ‘Nine Planets’ that really didn’t fit any labels and defied conventions to tell a universal story. It took my publisher, Dragonwell Publishing¬†to see the story for what it was. Something special.

So today we are all very proud, excited and over the moon to see that Publishers Weekly agreed with us.

Congratulations, Greg!!

Nine Planets - Click Image to Close

Interview about LEX TALIONIS with Cheryl Morgan on Salon Futura

I have a new interview up on Salon Futura!

Originally done for Ujima Radio of Bristol, UK, I chat with the wonderful Cheryl Morgan about myself, writing, growing up in the Caribbean and of course, my book, LEX TALIONIS.

You can listen to the interview here.

And yes, it was loads of fun.

Rad reaction gifs

LEX TALIONIS is Top Twenty in Holland on the American Book Center’s Staff Recommendation List!

Just realised I’m No. 16 on the list of 43 staff recommended scifi and fantasy books at The American Book Centre in Holland!

They carry over 7 million books, so I think being top twenty is something worth celebrating.

I also think it matters a lot when bookstore staff likes you. Those are the guys who really love books and readers and their support means a lot to me.

I sure hope people use the lists. They have some good books on there. I’m in great company!

What Everyone Who Loves Books Needs to Know

This is your writer speaking.

And what indie writer Ninie Hammon has to say is what EVERY writer–famous our not–would love to say if they weren’t worried about coming off as pushy, demanding, ungrateful or off-putting.

In today’s world, your open and vocal support has become something we cannot do without.

Once upon a time, a writer could just leave it up to the Fates whether their book caught on or not after the usual period of publisher hype. Now, there IS no hype–particularly for indie authors like myself–without the help of readers who like our work. If those readers don’t talk about us on Facebook, add us on Goodreads, review us on Amazon or rave about us on Twitter, we will most likely go nowhere very fast.

I didn’t realise just how much things had changed until my publisher recently informed me that without more reviews on Amazon, I could not ‘unlock’ better promotional support from Amazon itself.

Most people indie or self-publishing now don’t even realise the game changed last¬†year, six months ago, even last month.

Think you’ll get traction by joining Goodreads? Maybe. If you give away a lot of books you might get a few reviews back, and thank your luck stars for those. Now let’s just hope they liked it.

Twitter freak who can charm anyone in 140 characters? Guess what? There are more writers following those writing/reading/publishing accounts on Twitter than readers. Yup. You’re mostly likely trying to sell your book to someone else who’s trying to sell you their book too. And in any case, are you really more charming than Neil Gaiman or Chuck Wendig? ‘Cause they’re¬†your real competition.

Great blog you worked on for years? See Chuck Wendig’s site. Then go cry in a corner. Oh, and don’t be surprised if your blog followers are interested in…you know, your blog. People don’t usually follow other people just to buy stuff from them. In other words, be grateful if your followers love you enough to give your book a read. Be over the moon if they review it. A blog isn’t a marketing tool to readers and just talking about your stuff is no guarantee anyone will buy it.

Think you can join Wattpad and get more attention that way? Traditional authors are already way ahead of you. If you weren’t there already, building up a loyal fan base and adding friends and getting down with the community, prepare to roll up your sleeves before you see any real results. And if you do adult scifi like I do, then you run into the wall of YA love that puts every paranormal, urban fantasy or contemporary YA a la John Greene way ahead of you in the queue. Don’t expect millions of readers no matter how good you are. Do expect to compete for attention with long established writers like Cory Doctrow.

Facebook master? Good for you. I hope you have a lot of friends. Because whatever that number is, divide it by 1000 and that’s how many will actually share your writing updates or requests for reviews. And the writers groups are usually about supporting and critiquing and not cool with promotion, so you make a nuisance of yourself and end up getting kicked out if you try the hard sell. And if you do join a group that’s cool with promotion–you’ve most likely just entered the same game that Twitter has going.

Giving your manuscript away for free on NetGalley and LibraryThing so you can get more reviews and buzz? Even if you book is amazing, the number of reviews is usually quite low because EVERYONE is doing the same thing, and overwhelming the good-hearted readers on those sites. While we’re at it, sending off requests to people who joined sites and offered honest reviews in return for free books no longer works either. They’re even more overwhelmed than the NetGalley guys.

What about paying to get reviews from sites like Kirkus or sending your book to Publishers’ Weekly? Standard practice. For everyone. Kirkus reviews do nothing for most people in terms of sales. And even if Publishers’ Weekly likes you, that doesn’t reach readers as much as it reaches the industry. ¬†Readers see those tags on the backs of every book they pick up–and their eyes go right over it.

So spend a little and pay to get on a email list like BookBub then, right? Nope. BookBub has so many people banging on their doors, they’ve become very select and more traditionally published books are on their lists than indie books now because traditional publishers usually have the Goodreads and Amazon ratings needed to meet their high standards and they have the cash to take the big deals too. Indie books generally get on if they have hundreds of good ratings–and they’re offering the book for free. Which sort of defeats every purpose except maybe hoping to get a review back. But since these lists operate to give readers cheap new books, not authors new reviews, a review is a possible and hoped for by-product, not a guarantee.

Well, the great God Amazon will be your saviour.

Wrong. Amazon is in business to make money. And if you’re not part of their imprints, you are a distant second. So those ‘recommended’ listings you see, those ‘people who bought X also bought Y’ ratings, even your place in the rankings after sales–they can all be paid for by traditional publishers. Indie and self-publishers can’t depend on that. And remember how you could just put out a good book with a nice cover, get a bunch of high ratings, climb the charts and reap the extra attention all the way to Hugh Howey¬†sized success?

No longer.

Amazon changes their formulas regularly just to make sure they can’t be gamed again like they were in the past by those guys who sell review packages. It’s a constant battle between unethical authors, shady review providers and Amazon that has led to draconian measures like not letting authors review for other authors, and even deleting reviews from close family, usually the only guaranteed reviews authors can count on. Thanks a lot, RJ Ellory and friends.

I could go on and on. As a recently published author, I can tell you I’ve tried just about everything in terms of marketing and promotion. Some things worked okay, some things not at all. Nothing has been a sure-fire winner. And the advice other authors and sites give about how to market is already outdated or has been taken by every other author out there competing with me, so by the time I try to follow it, the paradigm has changed and it’s no longer effective.

Only one thing hasn’t changed. The power of the reader and word of mouth.

If you love a book, if you think it was good, if you enjoyed something recently, then help a writer out. Talk about it. Leave reviews if you can. Follow a blog. A twitter feed. A Goodreads account. Tell your friends. Pass the book on. Say a few words on Amazon or Goodreads. Whatever little you do, it multiples for that writer a thousand-fold and it will be appreciated so much you won’t even understand.

Readers, your casual mention is the difference between us being able to write the next novel, and having to give up so we can work another job. We authors understand that like us, you have busy lives with your own concerns. We don’t expect reviews or social media campaigns. We know it’s not even realistic for most people. But just walking into a Barnes and Noble and asking for a book can make a difference. Passing your copy on to a friend makes a difference. Dropping a rating on Goodreads makes a difference.

On behalf of Ninie and other authors out there, I want to say thank you to all those who have done these things and more for their favourite authors. You are helping deserving writers keep their heads above water in a world inundated with books, good and bad. And what I want to leave you with is the idea that if you want to see more work from someone you read recently, consider lending a helping hand in some way.

Because it’s a new world and the rules are different every day and the only thing that hasn’t changed is that readers and writers both want more good stories out there.

The Leftovers–Or, How Do I Mourne Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

Because make no mistake, there’s a lot of mourning and weirdness going on here, and precious little else.

I watched the second episode of the new HBO series The Leftovers last night, because very rarely do I give up on a series with any hint of spec fic about it without giving it at least two episodes. Also, HBO is a major source of my joy right now, and they could pretty much pitch me any show and I’d skip the trailers and tune in.

I have to admit, the trailers for The Leftovers confused rather than intrigued me, but I thought, hey give it a chance. After the pilot, I was one big, ‘Hmmmm…’ But a few seconds before episode two started last night, I think my sister called it.

‘This,’ she said (to paraphrase), ‘is pretentious crap that’s headed nowhere by the end of the season. Lost all over again.’

I fear she is right.

I know, I know, lots of people loved Lost. So did I, for about 5 and a half seasons. Then I realised that not only did they clearly have no plan for how to tie things up while explaining all the mysteries, they were starting to make characters do¬†strange¬†things like¬†hook-up in bear cages because viewers really wanted the couple to do it, and it’s hard to find a place to be alone on a tiny island.

I’ll admit my flaws. I’m a plot and story girl, through and through. I love me some characters, but not without a good story. Sure, I was in love with the characters on Lost in the beginning. But when logic, story and plot were sacrificed on the alter of ‘we really like these people so we’re just going to dissect every bit of their lives until no one cares anymore and we ride off into the sun’, I jumped ship.

I think I’m going to have to jump ship on Leftovers early too. It’s not because it’s not pretty–it’s beautifully shot. It’s not because it’s badly directed–Peter Berg is one of my favourite directors and he does a great job with the first episode in particular. It’s not because the acting sucks–everyone does a bang-up job with what they’re given.

It’s because this is a story that hooks you with a central mystery and a bunch of questions and yet again, the creators are sending signals they may or may not provide answers to any of it. Now, for the record, I think Lost probably taught everyone the way to go down in history is to NOT chicken out on your own story. I do believe The Leftovers will actually address the reason for their missing people. But for once, the promise of story is not enough to hook me.

Because the characters are a real drag. I mean, a real, real drag.

There is not a single person in The Leftovers that I like, care to empathize with, or relate to. Everyone is depressed or fucked in the head or¬†going through the motions, or all three. Everyone. Why would I spend an hour with any of these people if they’re not properly restrained in a padded room?

Well, except those very nice boys who let depressed, fucked in the head schoolgirls take over their car so they can tail a depressed Mom who lost her kid in the Departure. Those boys are nice. They even buried a dead dog they had nothing to do with.

Don’t ask.

My question¬†is, when did it become okay to assume that we need all the characters to react the exact same way to stimulus because we’ve, you know, got a THEME! (capital letters, exclamation point)? And the reaction, in this case, is to unload buckets of crazy all over the place. It’s not that I don’t get that an event like 2% of the world’s population going missing would not ¬†have a seriously depressing effect on those left behind. But not one single person appears to be just really freaking glad to still have their family. Or their friends. Basically people are like, ‘Oh wait. You’re still here too. Great. Don’t really care about that, but let’s go do something together. I guess.’

Which reminds me–what exactly is the major trauma that the police chief’s family suffered for mom, dad, son and daughter to have been so completely fractured? Seems to me they were the lucky ones, but maybe the real issues just haven’t been brought up yet.

I guess what I’m saying is that for a show that purports to be putting a lens to loss and grief, it has paid precious little attention to the other side of the coin. Humanity coming together in the face unimaginable tragedy. Just throw your thoughts back to the events of 9/11 and how many people helped each other and showed kindness to each other in the aftermath. I find it hard to believe that three years later, everyone in town–EVERYONE–is still stuck in the first 4 stages of the 7 stages of grief.

That’s some determination. We. Are. Very. Focused. On. Our. Psychological. Study.

Anyways, my hope is that the writers take pity on us soon and show us something about these people that doesn’t make us either roll our eyes (Could you at least *pretend* to be sane for your day job?), or look away in disgust, (Oh look, the creepy guys who likes to hug away the pain and sleep with only Asian girls is kissing a dead man), or just plain make me want to slap the silly out of them (Really, teenage girl, does your father not have enough to deal with? Must we be every teen from ‘The Breakfast Club’ all at once?).

Me? I think there’s way too much good stuff on TV right now to stick with something that is at once so well done, so boring and so in love with being unlovable. If you guys decide it’s a good show, drop by and let me know and I’ll Netflix it at the end of the season.

Now, where did I put my new episode of The Musketeers?…