Fireflies & Laserbeams

Pimping a book: Gabriel’s Return

Wednesday October 12, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

Do you like Science Fiction?  If you do, you will love the new series by Steve Umstead.  I read a review comparing Evan Gabriel with Snake Plissken and it is on the mark.  Think Snake Plissken on Mars, subtract the cheese, add a dollop of interstellar intrigue and pulse rifles and you have the world of Commander Evan Gabriel. This is a new thing for me, I’ve only done a few book reviews in my time, but when I heard that Steve was releasing his second book and looking for a little help generating some interest I jumped in with both feet.  Hope you don't mind if I wax eloquently on his new release.  No fancy bells or whistles here, just old-fashioned word of mouth. I met Steve on twitter about a year ago and he was still working on his first release, Gabriel’s Redemption, and I immediately liked him.  When his book was published I bought it knowing full-well that it was self-published and wanted to throw him a bone, but it was extremely well-crafted, WITHOUT a lot of the pitfalls you hear about in the DIY format.  But that wasn’t all, the story moved fast and even though the protagonist is a grim man, it captured my attention from the word go.  I absolutely love his “Neuretics”, they are one of the cooler concepts I’ve read in quite a while.  Frankly, I'd love to steal this concept for my novel.  His near future world is extremely believable and his projected technology works like a charm.  Neuretics are a form of integrated brain-slash-nervous system-slash-secure internet-slash-radio tech that thoroughly rocks my world!  In Gabriel’s Return we find Commander Evan Gabriel in a happier place, and with a love interest.  I have to say the new life suits him well, even if he’s not entirely comfortable with it.  The second book is so often a letdown, but in this case it is an upgrade to the original.  Steve is getting better as a writer and it shows.   This Clancyesque story line takes us across the galaxy, but the stakes are more personal and more meaningful, ultimately creating a much more satisfying story.  I honestly can’t wait for the third book! There is a great deal of discussion on the interwebs about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and I for one haven’t decided which way I’m going to go, but Mr. Umstead is showing us how it’s done on the self-publishing side.  These books do not have typos or grammatical issues or discontinuities.  He has done his research and obviously has a very good editor.  I think Steve could go traditional with this series and I haven’t asked him why he didn’t, but I can tell you he is pumping them out very quickly now -- all three in this trilogy within the same calendar year.  I’m guessing that has something to do with it.  
The first two books are out now, the first available in soft cover or eBook, and the second only available on eBook currently with the 3rd novel in the trilogy coming out before Christmas!  He is shooting for a 1 December release. I’m not going to go into detail on the plot, there are plenty of reviews on Amazon if you care to read them, in fact you can read the first three chapters for free here.  Stop by #pubwrite on twitter and say hello to the mayor, Steve Umstead himself.  I put my money where my mouth is, and it was well-spent. Well done, sir!

Read More

"What’s it about?"

Saturday September 24, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

I don't know about you, but when people find out I'm writing a book, they get very excited and ask me what it's about.  I have a real problem here.  I actually get a little embarrassed by this question, as if being a science fiction writer is akin to being a junkie or a male prostitute or something equally vile.  I don't know why.  I love science fiction!  I mean I rarely read anything else, I love almost all the genres of SciFi equally.  I also like the vampire genre a great deal.  There is some really great stuff out there, and some really crappy stuff too.  I'm hopeful that mine's not falling in the latter camp. My WIP doesn't fall into an easily definable category.  It's not a vampire story that has roots in the Dracula type vampire, at least not completely.  It has elements of the traditional vampire, but mine are called Nemesi and they started from an alien virus.  See? ... science fiction.   The evolution of the story was organic, and even though the story arc is fairly linear, there are a lot of elements of different SciFi genre, as well as an entire story arc centered around a young woman, adding in more complexity.  I can't think of another story that is actually "like" mine, so it's hard to tell someone something like, "It's like Stephen King and Anne Rice mixed together with a dose of Rod Serling."  (Although that might be very close...j/k) So it normally goes something like this:  "That's so cool that you're writing a book, what's it about?" "It's science fiction..."   Then it goes one of two ways.  I measure their reaction.  If it's an encouraging smile, then I try to explain a little bit more: "It's about an Air Force pilot that gets turned into a vampire and it's a long time into the future..."  Something along those lines.  Sometimes they ask more, but usually they just nod and say, "That sounds cool, I want a signed copy."  Like somehow I will have a truckload of them to give away for free.  Of course I'd be very excited to sell them a signed copy, at cost for crying out loud, don't look at me like that! or They give me a clown smile, clowns are scary.  You know, a demented grin, like they are patronizing me.  Actually they are patronizing me. So it ends awkwardly, and we part company. I really need to figure out how to answer this question with confidence and clarity.   Anyone else having this problem or is it just me? Clear Ether!

Read More