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Author of the Allies and Enemies series.

Tag: ebook

Audiobook Review: Salvaged

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

From the Publisher: A woman on the run. A captain adrift in space. One of them is infected with an alien parasite. In this dark science fiction thriller, a young woman must confront her past so the human race will have a future.

Set in a future where human travel amid the stars is common, Salvaged is a mash-up Alien and The Expanse.

The main character, Rosalyn Devar, is a bit of a mess, by her own admission. She’s left behind a career as a bioengineer and a wealthy, influential family to be a space janitor that cleans up the aftermath of ill-fated research expeditions (i.e. the remains for former ship crews). But she can’t outrun her demons.

Called out for drinking on the job, she talks her way into a second chance by agreeing to salvage the Brigantine, a research vessel that’s “gone dark.” Devar arrives to find that reports of the Brigantine crew’s death are very much exaggerated.

The crew has been infected with an alien lifeform (nicknamed “Foxfire”) that’s smarter than your average microbe. This is where the comparison to The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, comes into play. Like Corey’s protomolecule, Foxfire seeks to consume the humanity of its hosts and join them like a hive mind.

Stranded on the diseased ship, Devar’s near-constant fear of contamination by Foxfire is unnerving. As her mysterious back story unfolds, it seems Devar was fated to encounter the tragic crew of the Brigantine.

Written in the third person and alternating from the perspectives of the main characters, the plot unfolds to reveal the circumstances that sealed the Brigantine’s fate and set Devar on her self-destructive course. Some bright spots of wry humor and a fledging awkward romantic attraction between Devar and the Brigatine’s, Captain Edison Aries, defer some of the bleakness. Unlike other infected crew members, the Aries has managed to fight the organism’s influence and keep his humanity, so far.

The narration by Emily Woo Zeller is excellent. She seamlessly moves between the different characters. If you’re a fan of science fiction horror and space opera, I highly recommend, Salvaged by Madeleine Roux. I’ll be sure to look for more from Roux in the future.

  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Release date: 10-15-19
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Available from Amazon, Audible, iTunes.

Don’t Blow Your Blurb

blurbYou’ve done all the heavy lifting (as in writing an 80,000 word novel). You’ve polished the prose, checked all your commas, formatted the ebook and even your roommate’s cat loves the cover art. For all intents and purposes, your ebook is ready to go.

But wait! You’ve got to write your book’s description for the Amazon listing. For some hellish reason, you’re expected to summarize your blood, sweat and tears into a concise, compelling paragraph that will convince would-be readers to buy your book. It’s your sales pitch. It’s all come down to this. This is the reader’s introduction to your work of art and it’s all up to this tiny little paragraph (or two). It’s probably the most important thing you’re going to write when it comes to your book. It hardly seems fair, does it?

How do you squeeze your book into a synopsis that sings? (Bear in mind, I’m speaking with writing book blurbs or short synopsis for fiction books.)

Here’s a handy formula to help make that blurb:

  1. Start with the situation. Describe it simply.
  2. Throw in a “but” (or a “however” or an “until”) Basically anything that implies that things are going along swimmingly until something throws a wrench into the works. This something creates a crisis or a crunch point.
  3. Introduce a means that offers hope to overcome the crisis. This should be an enticement to the reader.
  4. Consider the tone of the story. Is it meant to be humor? Horror? Dark dystopia? This is your chance to that flavor.

Here’s an example of a very familiar story:

The tyrannical Galactic Empire, under the command of the bloodthirsty Darth Vader, captures the beautiful and brave Princess Leia, leader of the Rebel Alliance. Thrust into the path of destiny, wide-eyed farm boy, Luke Skywalker joins forces with an enigmatic Jedi Knight to rescue the princess with the help of Han Solo, a dashing starship captain. Can the unlikely trio save the princess, rebellion and the galaxy from the Empire?

The irrepressible and talented Rachel Aaron (Bach) wrote the following post about constructing a worthwhile blurb. You should check it out here. (http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.com/search?q=blurbs)

So, fellow indie authors, how do you tackle this daunting task? Do you have a method to this?

Readers, how does the book description affect your decision to buy an ebook? I’d love to hear from you.

#SFWAPro

Writing with ADD: the Pomodoro Technique

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Writing with ADD: the Pomodoro Technique

Like many folks, it wasn’t until adulthood that I was diagnosed as an adult with ADD. With this discovery, a great many mysteries about my childhood (especially high school) were suddenly resolved. It explained my ability to “hyperfocus” on certain projects, becoming completely absorbed to the point of obsession while my attention would drift about erratically when it came to day-to-day events.

To this end, I believe it’s why it took me nearly 10 years to finish my first book. It’s why I can recall verbatim all the dialogue from movies or TV shows (that I like) after one viewing, or recite an article I read while in sixth grade about a tribe on Borneo. (They eat a soup made from soaking bird’s nests.) Those things landed in my “hyperfocus” window. (Not always exceptionally useful information, I admit.)

By the time I’d learned about my ADD, I’d already had a lot of “work arounds” for life in general. I used lists and “rituals” for daily living to make constant distraction easier to combat.

This past month while recovering from a workplace-related injury, I had a lot of time on my hands to write. However, I wasn’t getting it done. I’d write a few paragraphs and then disappear down some rabbit hole, only to re-emerge hours later wondering where the day went.

I discovered a method to help me train my focus on writing called the Pomodoro Technique. I first saw it referenced in one of the many, many ebooks I’ve purchased about increasing writing speed. I can write quickly—that’s not the problem. My problem was actual “butt in the chair” time. It’s SO easy for me to leave my desk to get a coffee only to end up wandering around my home as I ping from distraction to distraction.

Honestly, I was not avoiding the act of writing. I’d was dying to sit down and tell a story, but my brain (or rather my attention span) had a vastly different agenda.

The Pomodoro Technique is pretty easy. The name just sounds fancy (and possibly expensive). As it turns out—it’s Italian for “tomato”. This is because the person that thought it up had a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato and was Italian. Go figure.

It works like this: (*disclaimer: this is my version of how it works)

  1. Set your timer for 20 minutes (For me, it’s 23 minutes. That’s about as far as I can park my attention.)
  2. For those 20(ish) minutes, you sit in your chair and write.
  3. The timer goes off and you get a 5 to 7-minute That’s when you go grab a coffee, do sit ups or chase the dogs around the kitchen table.
  4. When the break is up, you do another 20-minute interval of writing.
  5. Rinse. Repeat.
  6. At the end of four of these 20-minute sessions, you can schedule a larger break (like 10 to 20 minutes).

The goal of this method is to train yourself to be productive in a shorter span of time and is meant to promote “mental agility” through frequent breaks.

How did it work for me? Pretty well, for the most part. I had some two and three thousand word days there. The result was the final draft in the third book in my Allies and Enemies series. I felt that I had better focus because I could tell myself that whatever distracting thought that bubbled up in the middle of my writing stent (How many seasons of Supernatural have there been anyway? Is house paint flammable? Did I order more contact lenses?) could wait until break time. It was exhausting because I did it for four days straight, which I might not repeat unless I’m under a tight deadline.

Even if you don’t have an actual diagnosis of ADD, the technique might be helpful if you’re trying to make the most of the writing time that you have. I used a customizable app called “30/30” that I found in the Apple store [here]. It’s pretty nifty. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the Pomodoro Technique [here].

(And, in case you’re wondering, I used the technique to finish this blog entry.)

#SFWAPro

Allies and Enemies: Fallen on the Ballot for the Dragon Con Awards!


imageThis year marks the debut of the Dragon Con Awards and my book, Allies and Enemies: Fallen made the ballot in the “Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel” category. (Weird combo, I know. But so awesome!)

What the heck is a Dragon Con you ask? Based in Atlanta, GA and traditionally taking place over the Labor Day holiday, it is the largest fan-run multi-genre conventions in the nation. Think: San Diego ComiCon of the southeastern US.

The list has really fabulous talent on it, and like they say at the Oscars, “It’s an honor to just be nominated.”

Want to show your support for my book and a few others? It’s not too late to register and vote for me. Click the link here to find out how. (No, you don’t need to be a Dragon Con attendee or even know what Dragon Con is to vote.)

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