ICE free until Wednesday

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My debut novella ICE will be free until Wednesday, January 18. Most reviewers agree that it is worth a read.

Download our free copy today to find out:

  1. What is The Minter and why do the people of Minterville hold it so dear?
  2. Which trusted and beloved community member is hiding a dark and deadly secret?
  3. Where are the women who are disappearing from different parts of town being taken?
  4. What will happen if the town doesn’t band together and act in time?
  5. How, in the aftermath of these dreadful events, will another tragedy that had befallen Minterville be resolved?

Here is a sample excerpt:

We passed the Old Recreation Center, which fell into disuse when the New Recreational Center opened. i remember swimming in the Old Rec’s Center large, pristine swimming pool as a kid. After five years of abandonment, the Old Rec Center had the creepy feel that many rundown buildings have. 

With a touch of alarm, I noticed that the door the to Old Rec Center was open. Who was going in there? Certainly no one was using it to work out….

At that moment, I remembered Mom’s comment about Natalia de los Santos, and felt a renewed and intensified sense of unease. I considered saying something to Uncle Andy, but given his mood that morning, I decided to wait until later.

To this day, I wonder how many lives could have been saved if i had said something to Uncle Andy at that moment. 

Please consider downloading your free copy of ICE today. I truly believe you will enjoy it.

Much love and happy Monday,

Jessica

ICE is free July 7-11

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I am humbled and amazed by how well my first novella has been received. With 70+ reviews between Amazon and Goodreads, it has been a great joy to know that most readers have enjoyed ICE. Is it perfect? No, but the vast majority of readers have said that they enjoyed the small-town feel, the suspense, and the sense of community.

ICE tells the story of one fateful November morning when the the fictional town of Minterville, Georgia, is brutalized by vicious thugs. Twenty women are kidnapped and set in a death trap that can quite literally be described as cold. Time is ticking away as the rest of the town scrambles to come up with a viable rescue plan.

Here are what some reviewers have said about ICE:

“This book is a crazy (in a good way) mixture of supernatural, thriller, and mystery.” Emily Woodmansee, who gave it 4 stars.

“The twist this story takes left me caring more about ICE and it’s characters than any book I read recently.” Barbara Chioffi, who gave it 5 stars.

“This was an enjoyable read and the story was good…This being a great beginning to a writing career, there are some things that I personally feel could have made this story far better.” Tom Fallwell, who rated it 3.5 stars.

“A fast paced entertainment that sets the scene frot an uncertain future.” Mmcqu2005, who rated it 5 stars.

“Very interesting storyline…unique writing style.” Amanshay, who rated it 4 stars.

“The plot was excellent, the descriptive a done in a way that made the author’s research excellent.” Amazon Pygmy Reviews, who rated it 5 stars.

“This had an excellent plot that kept m reading to the end but it could have been so much more…[the author] is talented and I would read more…just need more development.” Loki, who rated it three stars.

ICE is also the precursor to my upcoming C.I.N. Dystopian trilogy. If you are interested, check it out free until the 11th. Thank you for your support of indie authors.

https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Jessica-Wren-ebook/product-reviews/B00O1CCAU6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_hist_2?ie=UTF8&sortBy=recent&formatType=current_format&filterByStar=two_star&pageNumber=1

Interview with Kirsten Campbell

(*This interview was conducted via a blog tour coordinator*)

While in the midst of reading Blood Master by Kirsten Campbell, a few themes and issues piqued my interest. I decided to ask the author directly about them. Here is the interview:

Interview Questions/

Kirsten Campbell-Author of Blood Master – Book 1 of The G.O.D.s Series

 

  1. When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

 

I was nine years old when I wrote my first story/poem and my teacher put it up in the hall for all to see. Ms. Laport started me on my quest to become a writer.

 

  1. What drew you to the dystopian genre?

 

I love thinking about the future and all the possibilities therein, especially after some type of great disaster has enveloped our world and almost destroyed mankind. I love to believe that mankind will carry on and go forward with new abilities and go further with a positive agenda.

 

  1. Can you describe your writing process?

 

Yes, I believe I can.

I write for hours, write until I am finished and then I go back and look at the whole story. I make sure that the ending matches the beginning in some way and that there is growth with each of the characters. I then go through the manuscript and add color, smells, shapes, tastes, and all types of sensory stimuli that I can think of. After that, I give it a once over for grammar and then give it to my beta readers. I have 3 men and 3 women. Every one of them give me feedback and then I answer any and all questions that they ask and deal with suggestions. I then go through it with a fine tooth comb and give to my editor, who then kills me. LOL… 

No, she doesn’t kill me. She deals with things in my manuscript and cleans things up for me.

 

  1. Do you do a lot of research in preparation for writing?

My god, I do a lot of research. I research and when I think I’ve got things just right, I do even more research. I write first, and then research everything medical, physical, mental, and even research certain scientific theories and thermal dynamics because even though I write Urban Paranormal fantasy there must be plausibility in the mix. Only then can things remain sustainable in a fantastic world. Also, I travel for my research. I went to Atlanta, GA and measured out certain areas of Underground Atlanta and measured the areas around the GA. Freight Depot. I reimagined how the area would look if earthquakes hit and even checked out the underground for large pillars that would hold things together if an earthquake hit. I drove around and around Highway 285 to find the perfect area for the fortress and I went into the city, off Peachtree Street, and found the Guild Main Office. I had to actually see where I was putting my characters and how they would move through certain situations in buildings and the underground.

 

 

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

I draw inspiration from just about anything. Sometimes it’s a song that makes me think of something Griffin might do or say. Sometimes it’s a smell that affects me and I figure it would affect Griffin or Tassta a certain way. I also draw on things that I have gone through and/ or things that are going on in the news or even real life situations.

  1. Blood Master explores the topic of selecting people with certain genetic characteristics (in this case, albinism) for scientific experimentation, yet seems to offer no stance on the ethics surrounding this. What are your thoughts, and were you inspired by any specific historical event in which involuntary experimentation occurred?

 

Well, I was very particular when I chose albinos. I considered all races, all ethnic people and I looked for a common genetic trait that popped up sporadically, yet one that was also what I considered interesting and unusual. After that, I thought about the past, and remembered all the times in school that I was shown different labs that would in fact use albino mice for experimentation. I also thought long and hard about the mystique surrounding albinos and how some people, even now, look at them with significant relevance and consider them either too outside the norm or very exotic. I myself believe that albinos are beautiful and unusual and I do know that in fact, in some cultures they have been revered and even sought out as magical beings. In Africa, the albino population is hunted and many have been mutilated as people seek to acquire an arm or leg for magical remedies with hope for a cure from AIDS or a host of other maladies. Of course, Blood Master takes this premise a step further, but it is fantasy, and there are things going on behind the scenes that cannot be explained until the next few books in the series.

 

  1. It seems that in the far future, especially in times of a crisis, gender would be irrelevant if a person was qualified to do a specific job. Although Penn’s intentions are good, he doesn’t want Tassta as a Guardian just because she’s a female, even at one point saying her task was to have babies. Some readers may read this as gender discrimination. Do you have anything to say in Penn’s defense on this matter?

 

There isn’t gender discrimination, at least not to me. It’s more like-there’s a lack of people, especially viable, healthy females. Remember, the first line in the blurb on the back of the book is, “The Great War, the Clover Virus and the Death Plague have killed off two-thirds of the human population.” Hey, that’s a lot of people. It affects people to go through that much death. It affects people in ways most will never understand and even though things have gotten a bit better with time, there are still preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be. And yes, there are chauvinists in the future. LOL.

Also, let’s not forget the fact that Tassta is pretty young in the first book. She is seventeen and yes, she turns eighteen, but she has been coddled and spoiled most of her life and has had it easy at the fortress. Also, since there are much less people, that means much less women of childbearing age. Turns out most need the females for lots of different jobs that are available at the fortress and they are also needed for conception. (BTW, it is mentioned by Waylene in the Underground that the Brotherhood is dying out, Penn and Tassta are the youngest.)

 

And yes, Penn is a caveman, but he’s a lovable caveman. Tassta is Penn’s twin sister and she is the youngest. He knows she has a lot of duties at the fortress and he doesn’t want to see her overextend herself. She’s already a library assistant, a Medical Assistant and she helps with the children in the fortress and also practices Martial Arts and her Blade Maneuvers. Now she wants to become a Guardian and he just wants his sister to have an easy life, or at least what he considers an easy life. LOL. He comes across as harsh, but he does have her best interest at heart. He just doesn’t know how to verbalize what he feels and it comes across as being behind the times.

 

  1. Your protagonist, Griffin, is the sole survivor of a particularly nasty epidemic. In our lifetime, we’ve seen Ebola, AIDS, deadly strains of influenza, and other lethal viruses that seems to have spread unchecked and had a mortality rate of nearly 100%. What, in your opinion, should the world do to prepare for the possibility of a new, as-of-now undiscovered pandemic?

 

I believe we need to take the possibility of a deadly pandemic more seriously and be more resourceful with what we have already discovered. There is proof of all kinds of medicinal herbs and spices that can actually cure certain types of cancer and push our lifespans way past the 70 – 80’s mark, which are now considered the norm. People in general could be a whole lot healthier if the preconceived thread of life wasn’t to drink and drug away our teen years and our twenties, with hope that once we hit thirty, we could somehow turn the clock back, suck all the poison out of the millions of cells that have been so rudely taken advantage of.

 

Now, as far as the possibility of a pandemic hitting with global ramifications that could possibly kill millions? You must remember that there is a preconceived notion that there is

a 1 to 5 percent chance that there will be someone who is immune to the pandemic, or at least a belief that said disease won’t kill that 1 to 5 percent. The government needs to step in and take the blood from those people in particular, the survivors, and create an antivirus from their blood. It can be done, quite effectively, if we get the resources and step in quickly.

 

Also, here’s my rant on aging:

People as a whole should be more aware of all the changes that their bodies go through with every decade they live. Certain chemical changes occur in a person’s body with each decade of life that they live, and these things need to be taught to teens and then to adults, and to society as a whole, so people are not caught off guard when things start changing inside and outside of their bodies. Aging is not a mistake, it’s a natural biological occurrence. Our bodies suck in pollution and dirt, exhaust fumes and toxic gases, chemicals additives and colorants and yet we think our bodies are not going to change? That’s ridiculous, and this silly preoccupation with looking young even though your insides are falling apart is preposterous and it’s making people desperately go under the knife. Why not eat properly from the beginning and deal with aging from the inside out, and grow old gracefully. Each generation could eventually grow stronger and when a new deadly pandemic emerges, our bodies will be able to deal with it, hopefully.

9. love for the city of Atlanta is evident in Blood Master. What is your connection to Atlanta?

I moved to Atlanta when I turned 16 and lived there for twenty-one years. I met my husband there and had my children there. I love Atlanta and hope to retire there. I now have lots of family that live there. I go to family reunions every year in Atlanta, GA.

  1. Your character development in Blood Master is superb. What advice do you have for other writers on how to properly develop characters?

Thank you so much! I worked on and with my characters for many years. I believe that when writing a character, you must first see your characters and then hear their voices. I also make a chart that tells me their height, weight, hair color, eye color, birthdate and zodiac sign, favorite color, food and different abilities. I then write what’s interesting about the character, pet peeves, goals and I write down all their positive and negative attributes. Yes, even innocent people with goodness in their hearts have bad thoughts once in a while and they have melt downs and failings. We are all human and yes, we must make our characters as human as possible.

Presenting a Special Guest-Kirsten Campbell

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Recently, I met, via Author Promo Co-op, a wonderful lady, Mrs. Kirsten Campbell. Kirsten is a resident of New York but there is a special place in her heart for Georgia. She is a wife, mother of four, and a grandmother, and also volunteers for various causes. A full biography can be found on her Amazon Author Page.  A genuinely kindhearted and caring person, it was my sincerest pleasure to make her acquaintance.

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Kirsten is the author of a thrilling young-adult dystopian novel called Blood Master. Blood Master is Book 1 of The G.O.D series. Siblings Tassta and Penn, raised in the confines of the protective Brotherhood Fortress,  are on a raid in downtown Atlanta, now in ruins after a devastating earthquake. They meet Griffin Storm, an albino man, which is surprising to them because they have been told that all albinos died during the Death Plague. Tassta, the seventeen-year-old niece of the Brotherhood Fortress’s leader, is anxious to become the Brotherhood’s first female guardian, but she cannot deny her intense attraction to Griffin. As for Griffin, although he is equally attracted to Tassta, he feels it is his obligation to protect and provide for the children who are sheltered in Underground Atlanta, and is torn between staying at the Brotherhood Fortress with Tassta and Penn, or returning to Underground Atlanta to fulfill his duties. Blood Master will make you laugh, make you cry, keep you on the edge of your seat with lots of twists and turns, and, most importantly, keep you rooting for Tassta and Griffin.

To learn more about this wonderful, talented lady, please visit her website. Please stay tuned, because soon I am going to post an interview with Mrs. Campbell and with Griffin Storm.

Celebrating 50 Reviews of “Ice”

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A little less than a year after publication, today “Ice” got its 50th review on Amazon (there are more reviews if you count the ones on Goodreads). I am beyond humbled that my debut novel is been, for the most part, well-received. Most reviewers agree that although “Ice’ has its faults (which mostly boil down to first-time-writer mistakes), that the story overall is good.

Because a lot of reviewers told me that some of the ideas presented in “Ice” need further development, I am now planning a quick rewrite to make some adjustments-and to make it match the planned Minterville series. (I will never again attempt a first-person thriller novel, especially with multiple narrators.) The Minterville series will eventually contain eight novels (with Ice being Book 5), with the last two being crossover novels with my Cadiz Beach series.

  1. Blizzard-recounts James Minter’s service in World War II, his heroic action that earned him The Minter as a reward, and his return home to found the horse-breeding hacienda that eventually became the city of Minterville
  2. Snow-Thirty-five years after the founding Minterville, the town is inhabited exclusively by the “Mints”-until 1980, when a stranger arrives in town, down on his luck and looking for a job. Although Jim is mistrustful, the stranger proves to be hard-working and resourceful-and has fallen in love with Jim’s homely daughter. Jim, whose stepson died of a heroin overdose, has his suspicions that the stranger may be involved with criminal activity, but he cannot prove it and is terrified for his only daughter’s safety.
  3. Frost-exactly ten years later in 1990, another stranger, a beautiful but somewhat disagreeable woman, appears out of nowhere. Jim, out of pity, offers her a job and she proves to be an extremely talented gardener. But when she starts receiving visits from shady characters, Jim is forced to choose between protecting the young woman who has married into the Minterville clan and sending her away (to a possible demise) to protect his believed community.
  4. Chills-The year is 1993, and and series of disasters have befallen Minterville. Jim, now close to death, warns the townspeople that the disasters are indicative of an eventual disaster that will threaten the survival of the community. Tom seconds Jim’s prediction and is elected mayor. And when a baby girl goes missing, the Mints are on edge, wondering who is stalking their town.
  5. Ice-By 2011, life in Minterville for the most part returns to normal. However, in November, The Minter stops functioning, a sure-fire signal that evil is present in the town. When a terrible crime occurs, the Mints are devastated to find out that one of their own may be responsible for the crime.
  6. Shivers-Five years after the so-called Minterville massacre, rumors of a second attack are circulating. Feeling responsible for the damage inflicted on the town, one person sets out to rid the world of the threat that had been plaguing Minterville for years.
  7. Freeze- Cadiz beach-based writer Jenelle Greene travels to Minterville to write a book about the 2011 killings, with her son Isaac and her second cousin Brielle in tow. She soon forms a bond with the only living survivor of the Minterville Massacre.It is no secret that Jenelle is the granddaughter of the infamous late Irish mobster Connor Cahill, but comparing notes, Jenelle and her new friends wonder if there may be a connection between Connor and the “Ice Queen” who tortured Minterville for so long.Things get more complicated when Isaac falls in love with a Mint and decides to stay ,and Brielle, a Consummate, soon picks up that there is something supernatural about the town. Fearful that The Minter will be exposed (and paranoid about another attack), the Mints do all they can to expel the now-unwanted outsiders.
  8. Winter- The younger generation of Mints are now marrying outside the community, and Jim’s granddaughter, fearing that The Minter will eventually die out, tells her own grandson what he needs to do to make sure it goes on. Meanwhile, a stranger arrives in town, claiming he has been hearing the word “Minterville” in his head his whole life and finally located the only city by that name in America. Digging into his past, the Mints discover that the youth was born in prison to one of the women responsible for the Minterville Massacre. But who is his Mint father? More importantly, why would he betray his town for lust, and did he further endanger Minterville? Kendra swallows her pride and calls Brielle, who may have answers that will send shock waves-but eventually bring peace-to the two towns.

In the next few days I will write a post describing the Cadiz Beach series. I got a little side-tracked, but I want to thank every single person who took the time to read and review Ice. I am learned something from every single review-good and bad-that I can apply towards futures projects and hopefully give readers an even better reading experience.

Money for Twenty (a Parody)

It has always been a dream of mine to be the female Weird Al Yankovich. Parody-writing is a lot of fun. Here is a parody of the song “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits that summarizes my novel Ice. Enjoy!

Money for Twenty

(I want my, I want my lost money…I want my, I want my lost money…I want my, I want my lost money…I want my, I want my lost money)

Now look at them weirdos

What the hell’re they doing?

They act like they got some kind of ESP

But it ain’t working, that’s the way we’ll do it,

Money for twenty, or we’ll let them freeze.

Now that old building, that is where we’ll do it

Let me tell ya, that cop is dumb

Maybe then we’ll take his daughter with the others

We need to get a hold of the rich one.

(Chorus):

We got to hurry up and get this plan moving

Cuz we got spaces for twenty

We got to get back Manuela’s millions

We got to get back to Miami…

Old Man Watson is the mayor of this hellhole

Yeah, buddy, he’s been hiding here

Old Man Watson thought he was gonna outsmart us

Old Watson’s daughter, she’s a billionaire.

(Chorus)

Get ’em in there! Now!

(Chorus)

Look at that, look there…

She should’ve known to stop all that yellin’

She should’ve known to shut her mouth

Now look at that blood spot that happened when we crushed her skull in, yeah

Against the pool side

Now what’s in here? What’s that? Why are my eyes stinging?

There’s something in the air and now it’s hard to breathe

Ah, this ain’t working. I’m done with this shit, screw it.

Money for twenty, or we let them freeze.

(Chorus)

Listen here, now. This ain’t working. This ain’t how to do it. They took too long and we let them freeze.

This ain’t working. This ain’t how to do it.

Money for twenty or we let them freeze

(Money for twenty, we let them freeze….)

(I want my, I want my, I want my lost money…)

This ain’t working!

Serials and Collections-My New Approach (Part 1)

Those of you who follow my blog and my Facebook group know full-well the frustrations I have experienced while trying to write Glass. Trying to get this plot to go right was like trying to straighten my hair on a humid Georgia day: no matter what special treatments I apply, no matter what “settings” I used,no matter how many times I go over it section by section, it.just.wasn’t.going.to.sit.right. And it was frustrating as hell, because I had characters who, in my mind, were awesome and whose story needed to be told. So, I finally decided to do the same thing to Glass that I do to my hair: cut it so it’s manageable and doesn’t become a huge, tangled mess.

Well, about a week ago when I finally decided that the plot as I had planned it was never going to work (shortly after the rift less than two week ago with a beta-reader and when my husband, upon reading that chapter, told me “I hate to break it to you, Sting (that’s Patrick’s nickname for me), but I have to agree with the beta-reader, at least on that part of it. I can’t understand a single bit of what you’re talking about here.”), I finally decided on a different technique. it was kind of an emergency technique. I was fresh out of ideas, and with summer break coming up, I didn’t want to waste valuable writing time. So I decided that while waiting for Glass to somehow blossom in my mind, I would extract what was originally a minor subplot within Glass, tell the full story behind it, and write it as type of a pre-novel. The concept was easy enough, it was certainly better than doing nothing, and I would still get to use some of the characters I had become so attached to.

Do you all remember those Golden Corral commercials, where the chef with wings smacks the customer with a frying pan and the customer says “Golden Corral!’ (or something like that). That’s what it felt like for me when it occurred to me that since the plot for Glass spanned from 1979 to present day, involved many different subplots (some of which I had to cut out but can now bring back!), and was basically just too much for one narrator to tell, I could write a collection revolving around these two families, the McPhersons and the Hawthornes. This has the added benefit that I can develop the backstories a little more (instead of them being just an afterthought in a bigger novel), develop the characters to my complete satisfaction, and, most importantly, tell the story I want to tell without bogging down one novel. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? The first person who can logically explain this will receive a check for a million dollars from me (postdated to be cashed in the year 33,000).

I began to write the plot outline for this pre-novel (that I’m going to call Earth) and it took me less than a day to map out the plot. I send it to my beta-readers who “approved” it, so now I’m getting started. It’s a crime thriller with a twist of romance. When a young couple is arrested for the murder of the girl’s abusive father, defense attorney Vinny McPherson (the same guy that those of y’all who read the prologue already met) finds himself amazed at the lengths these two will go through for each other. In the process of preparing the defense for the couple, he solves another decades-old crime that took place in his own family. Here are the other books in my planned “McPherson/Hawthorne” series.

2. Fire-As a child, Jeremy (the kid who was called Gerald in the original sequel), watched his mother burn to death in a house fire. Although his mother’s rapist has been identified when his lawyer grandfather was working on another case (and his paternity established), he still has to prove that his mother’s rapist was also her murderer. What Jeremy doesn’t know is that this person was acting on behalf of a much more powerful person-and that Jeremy is still a target. Vinny must reconcile with an old adversary in order to help take down a man who has terrorized both families for years.

3. Water-Vinny becomes the defense attorney for his sister Sandy, a powerful politician, who is accused of murdering her husband by drowning him in the bath tub. During the course of the investigation, it is discovered that Sandy’s late husband may have been involved in some racist assaults. Jeremy, following in his grandfather’s footsteps after taking down one of the world’s most powerful men, takes on his first case by filing a class-action suit on behalf of the assault victims.

4. Wind- When Rev. Charles Greene, one of The Brander’s most famous victims, is shot to death in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, the city of Jacksonville breaks out in riots. Jenelle (who will be Gerald/Jeremy’s cousin instead of his daughter, and is the sister and sister-in-law, respectively, of Valerie and Jeff), along with her family, have to fight for survival during the especially nasty riots, which are complicating an evacuation of Jacksonville when deadly Hurricane Alberto approaches. Vinny and Jeremy, now working as partners, defend Jenelle when she is framed for the fatal shooting-and once again find themselves at odds with a powerful person with an axe to grind.

See I was trying to tell ALL THIS in ONE NOVEL! No wonder I couldn’t iron it out! Granted, I had to make some changes to the plot (specifically, Gerald/Jeremy will no longer be a death-row inmate. I’d become too attached to him anyways and really wanted to make him a more powerful character. Secondly, I had to change some of the family relationships. I don’t want to wait twenty years to tell Jenelle’s story. My favorite change: Vinny lives! He is the character I like the most, and I now get to make it so he’s still alive at the end of the series :).

I am also planning a Minterville series, using some of the same characters from Ice. More about that in my next post. Take care!

Plot Holes?

Have you ever read The Hunger Games? If so, consider this: why would Panem, a nation that seems to purposefully keep its populace living in concentration-camp-like conditions, provide what appears to be a marvelous education (complete with extracurricular activities and music lessons)to its youth? Notice the question word: why?

Within a suspiciously short time, I got nearly identical reviews on Ice that asked why was the pool never drained? Why did the drug lord wait so long to act? Why would a person with no history of violence act out such a complex plan of revenge?

I’m not complaining. I’ll take any reviews I can get. I also respect all readers right to their opinions and I think asking why is healthy. But it did get me thinking: where do we draw the line between plot holes and taking fictional liberties?

Plot holes are a lack of continuity within a story, either in a novel or between series. Here is an example from one of my favorite writers, Mrs. Isabel Allende. In Daughter of Fortune, one of the characters, Pauline del Valle, was pregnant with her fourth child towards the end of the novel. In its sequel, A Portrait in Sepia, thirty years later Pauline only has three children and it specifically states that she had been pregnant three times. What happened to the fourth child? A plot hole can also occur when a writer slacks off and creates a situation that is completely unbelievable; that is, something that cannot be explained at all. Even though they may not be continuity errors, they smack of lazy writing. To use The Hunger Games again, Cato and Clove, who are both consistently portrayed as ruthless killers who never leave a victim breathing, let not one but two victims get away. Cato gives Peeta a leg wound and then walks away, after he is shown to let his temper cloud his judgment.  Clove (who is literally a back-stabbing bitch) wastes a lot of time taunting Katniss, which led to her own demise. Of course, Mrs. Collins wanted to show that Katniss and Peeta had close encounters with the Careers and lived through it, but my thought was that in these two cases, she took the easy way out. One could argue that cato wanted Peeta to suffer a slow death, but this just does not match the characterization that Collins gives him. And another thing: Thresh lets Katniss live because he feels he “owes” her after the compassion she showed Rue. In the arena, there is no “owing.” You either kill or be killed. Now once again, one could argue that for Thresh, it didn’t matter. Whether he let Katniss live or not, he was eventually going to have to go head-to head with Cato. But Katniss’ explanation that “if he won, he would have to face a district that broke its rules to thank me” doesn’t make sense because Thresh had no way of knowing about the bread gift. Once again, I think Collins could have handled this in a more plausible manner.

(Note: my purpose of this post is not to trash Mrs. Collins or The Hunger Games. I loved the book and devoured the entire series in two days. I’m just using it as an example because nowadays, I only read indie authors-due to time constraints-and The Hunger Games is the only mainstream novel I have read lately. I never, under any circumstances, criticize an indie author in this blog). Moving forward:

Fictional Liberties are “boosts” that an author uses to move the plot along. In the cases in Ice I have given above, these boosts were essential to the plot: if the pool had been drained, there would be no plot, at least not as I described it. As to the other two things, I explained those in the book, so either the reader wasn’t paying attention or deliberately ignored them. Once again, I will use The Hunger Games to clarify the difference between a plot hole and a fictional liberty. There are many examples I can give since the novel is chock-full of wild coincidences. The best way to tell them apart is if you have to ask why? As in: why would President Snow, who was apparently completely aware that Katniss routinely violated the law every Sunday by hunting in the woods, be so hesitant to punish her? In fact, Snow missed a great opportunity to hold her up as an example that even victors aren’t immune from the law. Because without Katniss, the story would be over. Period. She is necessary to the plot.  And why exactly is Katniss’ trick wit the berries an act of rebellion, when in 74 years, people have certainly pulled more desperate stunts to survive the arena. And speaking of this: why did Haymitch’s so-called act of rebellion result in the murder of his family but Katniss’ act did not? The answer to that may seem simple-Prim was Snow’s only leverage to force Katniss into prostitution in the Capitol-but why am I getting the impression that Finnick (and possibly Cashmere) were the only victors who actually served as prostitutes. And it says that clients paid Snow for the pleasure of a one-night stand with Finnick, so why would they owe him anything at all, least of all potentially seditious Capitol secrets?

So are you ready for Jessica’s ever-wise recommendations for both readers and writers? (Disclaimer: my opinion only. Not professional advice)

To writers: it is your story and you are free to write it how you choose. Fictional liberties (kept within the bounds of some believability) are fine. In fact, attempting to explain every single little thing will bog down your story. This is why it is called fiction. By definition, fiction is a product of writers’ imagination and not based on fact.

To readers: You are free to rate a work however you see fit; that is absolutely your right. However, if you are overthinking things, you are probably putting more effort into a review than is required for a work of fiction. I would say that if you hated a work, just get it off your chest and say you hated it (although for the life of me, I can’t figure out why a reader would even finish a book that he/she hated so much). I would much rather a reader tell me “I hate this story, I can’t get into it, and I can’t finish it” than to expect me to explain away anything that might deviate from reality a tad or is not written how they would have written it. I mean it. You have the right to tell me you simply hate my story, with no explanation. You are under no obligation to look for a reason to hate it (although I definitely still welcome and appreciate constructive criticism). I have more respect for a reviewer who simply tells me they didn’t like the story than one who tries to impose his or her version of MY story on me.

To answer the question as to why the pool never got drained? Because no one ever thought, “You know, this pool might be used against us one day in an elaborate revenge plan aimed at our beloved mayor. Let’s buy an expensive pump and get this sucker drained right this second.” Anyone who has read Ice knows that the Mints, spoiled into complacency by their peaceful existence, don’t have the same sense of urgency that most normal people have. For this same reason, they don’t bother to prepare for emergencies (like forest fires or errant gunmen).

Presenting a Special Guest-Ian Williams

Ian Williams’ Transitory was book of the month for January. This was the first month of this club, and the response and enthusiasm was tremendous.

Ian Williams is a science fiction writer from the United Kingdom. Transitory, which is about a businessman who travels to a distant planet and finds out that he is the target of a hitman, is Williams’ first novel. He recently released a second novel called The Sentient Collector, which is first in a dystopian trilogy.

To check out Transitory: http://www.amazon.com/Transitory-Ian-Williams-ebook/dp/B00LACOVU2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423431456&sr=8-1&keywords=transitory

Here are what some reviewers have said about Transitory:

1. “The author, Ian Williams, took me to a fantastically different location without the normal dreary travel time evident in some science fiction books. His characterisations were brilliant. They made me care about Nate, the main character, and also the others who were helping him get to the truth.”

2. “This book is unlike anything I have read before. I found it refreshing and new. I read it pretty quickly because I had a really hard time putting it down. There were no slow dragging spots and it kept a nice steady pace.”

3. “…this book made it quite easy for me to picture the new world in my mind. There wasn’t an overabundance either which usually makes my eyes glaze over.”

4. “…I do believe that it will be a great read for those who like descriptive sci-fi.”

5. “I fell in love with Nate’s sassy mouth and cunning humor. His reactions to unusual and bizarre situations were often what mine would be, along with his coping mechanism of snarky remarks. It was nearly as much of a treat to be inside his head as inside this alien sci-fi environment.”

I was wondering what the story behind Transitory and what made Williams decide to write it. Here is an interview:

1: Was the writing based on something personal such as a war or love experience or was it all fiction?

Answer 
Transitory was all fiction unfortunately. I’d love to say that parts of it were based on personal experiences, but they weren’t. Of course how characters interact and how people talk will have been influenced by people I see everyday.

2: Is there going to be a follow up book to explore the budding romance, the punishments and how Nate deals with all of it?

Answer 
I haven’t ruled out a sequel. In time I may decide to return and take the story further. But for that to happen it would have to move beyond Nate and the others. To me it seems that L’Armin is the character who has the most interesting past and the potential to go much further than Transitory could. I would love to explore this story, with Nate and the others involved too of course.

3. How long did it take to write Transitory?

Answer
It took me around a year to write. This being my first book meant I spent longer than I would today. My aim these days is to have the first draft of a new book finished in roughly four months, followed by another two months of rewrites and editing.

4. What drew you to the science fiction genre?

Answer
I’ve always loved science fiction, mainly for the way it can tell multiple stories in one. I grew up watching TV shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation (I also loved Quantum Leap and Stargate) and they always managed to do this in an enjoyable way.

Transitory was written as if it were a single episode of a TV show. This meant it was always supposed to be quite compact and yet explore large subjects at the same time. Science fiction is a genre that I natural lean towards because of this. I don’t feel that I could write the stories I want to in any other genre.

5. In Transitory, you explore the theme of corporate dominance and exploitation. What are your thoughts on this?

Answer
I don’t believe all corporations are inherently evil, but I do believe that they can sometimes act in such a way, particularly when it comes to natural resources. The corporate mentality is to put a price on anything and everything, even human life. They will find profit in any way they can and that sometimes means bending rules – or breaking them entirely. What is right is often less defined when there is money to be made.

This was the reason behind the theme of exploitation in Transitory. Nate’s company travel the galaxy in search of raw materials locked up inside asteroids. To them it is a routine job. But they have no idea what an alien species would make of such an act, more importantly I suspect they simply wouldn’t care. Like Fracking beneath people’s homes, it is done with only one concern: profit.

Nate, on the other hand, just hasn’t really thought about it before. L’Armin’s views on space mining would have been the first time anyone had ever really questioned him on the morality of such an industry. I’d like to think he would have changed his ways because of this.

6. Do you believe that in the future, space travel will be routine?

Answer
I do think this will happen, and sometime within the next thirty years. Only recently a private firm was given the go ahead to transport equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. When this is being done on a regular basis it will open up space to others too. I think this will then slowly filter down to the rest of the population.

As for travelling the galaxy, like in Transitory, I think that will take much longer. For that to happen we will need many advancements in space technology first. But with ambitious plans to land humans on Mars and even an asteroid only decades away, things are still certainly looking good for space travel.

7. Do you believe there is life on other planets? If so, do you think they are friendly, peaceful beings?

Answer
I do believe there is life on other planets. The general scientific consensus is that the chances of life existing elsewhere in the universe is overwhelmingly possible, if not likely. Take the findings from the Kepler Space Telescope for example. It has detected and confirmed the presence of over a thousand Exoplanets and is investigating many more; all this since 2009. Scientists are finding more and more each year.

If you then take into consideration that estimates put the number of stars in The Milky Way alone as somewhere in the region of 300 billion, then it becomes clear that there is indeed a high probability of some of those being orbited by planets containing life. Whether that life is intelligent is a different matter. 

I hope that somewhere there are other intelligent beings searching for signs of another form of life, and that they are friendly – although if we were ever to meet them I wouldn’t be so sure that they would consider us friendly and peaceful as a race.

8. What is your personal favorite part of Transitory?

Answer
My favourite part of Transitory is Nate’s memory of the mining convention he attended (Chapter 9).This was fun to write as I was doing everything I could to show that Nate isn’t particularly good at his job. He fluffs his lines when reading out his speech, he fails to answer questions and generally deals with it in a very unprofessional way. It was one of the points in the story that showed how Nate copes under pressure – or doesn’t in this case.

Nate’s character was intended to be arrogant, some have even said unlikeable, at the beginning. He comes across as selfish and often quite rude too. I did this to show how Nate’s character changes over time throughout the story. By the end of the book I wanted the reader to have warmed to him and even to start to like him. When he is forced into a corner and left with a moral choice, he will always do the right thing, despite what his corporate brain tells him to do.

Chapter 9 is also where an important plot twist is revealed to the reader. I enjoyed writing this part a lot.

9. You currently have a dystopian trilogy in the works (the first of the series has recently been released. do you care to tell us a little about that?

Answer
With The Sentient Collector I wanted to try and tell the story that comes after the world’s first Artificial Intelligence is created. In book 1 the AI has already existed for 7 years and things have started to unravel.

The story follows 3 characters as they each become embroiled in an ever deepening plot. Graham Denehey works for the company which created the AI, Phoenix is an outsider working for the wrong man, whereas Kristof is the man brought in to prevent a crisis. What brings the story together is one man known only as The Sentient Collector. Finding this unknown figure is the key to preventing a terrible event.

Transitory was always intended to be a short story or novella. The Sentient Collector, on the other hand, was planned as a full book followed by another 2 books. The Trilogy is already written in my head, I just need to put finger to keyboard and finish it.

10. Are there any other thoughts you wish to share?

Answer
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jessica Wren for making Transitory Book of the Month for January. To have my first ever book featured in a book club is a true honour and one I will always be grateful for.

I would also like to take this moment to thank everyone who bought, read and reviewed Transitory. Hearing what you all thought of it has been a real joy.

If you are a fan of Ian Williams, of science fiction, or just want to show you support to a promising new author, I strongly encourage you to join the Ian Williams Fan Club. There are three ways to join:

1. On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/154950-ian-williams-fan-club
2. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1568863896693454/
3. On Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/communities/107572608043988627238

If you would like to join Jessica and Jen's Book of the Month Club, it is loads of fun and a great way to meet new friends and help promote rising indie authors:

1. On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/153603-jessica-s-book-of-the-month
2. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Jessicasbotm/
3. On Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/communities/114857677243125019375

Regards, 
Jessica Wren

A very nice review of Ice. Thanks to Ms. Janis Cramlett

http://authorsandangels.blogspot.com/2015/01/review-ice-by-jessica-wren.html

Review

Writing is like fishing. You toss out your line (i.e. your book) hopping to hook a fish(i.e. a reader). They say as well that if you don’t hook your reader within the first few lines then it’s over. That person will probably not continue reading your book. Well luckily Mrs. Wren is a great fisherman for she hooks you within the first few lines with her tantalizing use of words. She writes with a mystery that begs you to read more to find out the meaning behind her setting of words.

Jessica Wren’s book “Ice” takes you on a dramatic, jolting ride. There is a mystery brewing in the small town of Minterville, Georgia. First two mysterious families have moved into the small town of Minterville, which has also brought on an eerie physical gloom of clouds that hang over the town. The clouds just hang there like a cover of gloom giving no rain. Next the Minter stopped. The Minter is this little secret mental communication board some of the towns folks have in Minterville. The big problem with it stopping is that it only stops when there is an evil presence around.

If that is not of enough worry for the residents of Minterville, the women of Minterville start disappearing…

Jessica Wren then takes the floor out from under you as the story takes a shockingly, wicked turn. To remind you this book is title “ICE

 ” there is a reason for that. I enjoyed how the Mrs. Wren weaved the title of her book into the story itself. There is a reason this book is entitled “ICE”. It is not pretty either.

Written in parts, with different narratives by certain towns folks of Minterville was an interesting narrative choice. It worked too. It gave the book a feel of finding an old town newspaper, or town history book. This worked with the overall tone of the story too.

Overall I enjoyed “ICE”. The book was not what I thought it would be. Jessica Wren sets up a nice cozy setting then all of a sudden it takes an enthralling unexpected turn that does not disappoint you.

There were a lot of characters and people being related to this person and that in the book. It kind of confused me a bit, but that is just me. Genealogy confuses me sometime with your brother being your uncles monkey or something like that. In the end good read. This innocently titled book will shock you.

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