Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens

Kate Walden DirectsKate Walden Directs by Julie Mata

Night of the Zombie Chickens is supposed to be Kate Walden’s breakout film. But her supporting actresses-her mother’s prize organic hens-are high maintenance, to say the least. Thank goodness Kate’s best friend Alyssa is the star. She’s great at screaming and even better at killing zombies in creative ways.

But when Alyssa turns into a real-life soulless zombie and ditches Kate for the most popular girl in seventh grade, Kate suddenly finds herself both friendless and starless. Now, thanks to Alyssa’s new crowd, Kate is the butt of every joke at school and consigned to the loser table at lunch.

If movies have taught Kate anything, it’s that the good guy can always win-with the right script. And her fellow social outcasts may be the key to her own happy ending. Kate hatches the perfect revenge plot against her former best friend, but even though her screenplay is foolproof, Kate soon realizes that nothing-in filmmaking or in life-ever goes exactly as planned. Especially when there are diabolical hens out to get you.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Juli Mata has a clear understanding of what it is like to be a pre-teen and the pressures that kids feel when trying to establish their place in the social order. This book is fun to read, silly at times, but also has a lot of truth in it.

Throughout this story, I felt sorry for Kate for the situations she found herself in, even when she wasn’t being very nice. She is a character that it is easy to feel sympathy for. I thought the author did a brilliant job of making her background seem realistic and colourful and the secondary characters were equally as well drawn.

For the younger kids who read this, there may be a couple of more adult themes they don’t understand yet, but nothing extreme that they shouldn’t be reading.

Between the zombie chickens and the Kate-caused mayhem, there is never a dull moment in this book. There are some valuable lessons here and I think even parents would have fun reading this with their child.

Overall, this one was a winner earning four out of five stars.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

Derek’s Good Relations by Mac Black

Derek’s Good Relations by Mac Black
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Derek is back and in just as much trouble (if not more) than usual. Once again Mac Black has taken his readers on a journey into the mind of the unlikely hero/protagonist Derek and his mad family.

I liked this book even more than the last one. After the last book, where Derek made some great and important discoveries about himself and his family, this book continued on giving us information to fill in the gaps and get a better understanding of his position.

With goofy characters from previous books and new drama for Derek, this book is full of giggles and unbelievable situations that the author manages to make believable.

One of my favourite things about this series is the Scottish Dialogue Mac Black includes, and this book is no exception. Derek and his family keep me entertained and always looking forward to their next grand adventure.

I also appreciated that Derek had more than a small taste of success in this book (much deserved) but that things didn’t go exactly as one would expect for a guy who has already been through so much.

The writing is easy to read and interesting, so turning pages is no problem. It is always a mystery to see what will happen to poor Derek next.

When you read these books, you get a sense of the author’s personality. The funny things that happen between Derek and his wife prove that Mac Black is right in his author bio at the end of the book–he has been married a long time. I love that he can reflect his own experiences in his books.

I would happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys comic relief and series about families and strong bonds.

The question remains…what can he possibly get himself into next, that Derek?

This review is based on a print copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Should You Make a New Edition?

Helpful thoughts from Chris. He is the publishing guru:)

chrismcmullen

Updated

Republishing Your Book

You’re faced with an important decision when you revise your book:

  • Should you create a new edition of the same book?
  • Or should you simply update the current edition?

Revisions are easy to make in the modern publishing world. With print-on-demand paperbacks and with e-books, there is no need to produce a new batch of hundreds of books.

You could simply upload new files to replace the old ones in the existing book. Or you could create a new book with a different edition number.

Each has its own benefits and disadvantages.

Keeping the Same Edition

In this case, you simply upload revised files to your existing book.

Possible pros:

  • Your book won’t have to rebuild customer-also-bought associations at Amazon.
  • If your book has good visibility in search results at Amazon, you won’t have to rebuild this.
  • If your book has a good sales history, you…

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An Interview with author Stacey R. Campbell and an awesome giveaway

16488672 How would you like to win your very own signed ARC copy and matching bookmark of “Whisper”by Stacey R. Campbell? All you gotta do is tweet, facebook or reblog this interview to be entered into the giveaway. A winner will be chosen on Sunday, the 23rd of February. Don’t miss your chance!

*US residents only please

Tell us a little about you and your writing career.

I was told at a very young age I would never be a writer.
I have a learning disability called dyslexia and process things differently then other people do.
Reading was very difficult for me and at first I couldn’t do it. Now you’ll never find me without a book.
Writing was hard too, letters didn’t seem to make sense.
Thirty-five years after I was told I could never write, I took our three daughters to lunch and a street reporter approached us. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He asked for an article he was writing for our local newspaper.
Our eldest daughter Blakely, who was seven at the time, said “A princess.” Our middle daughter Leigh, age six, answered “A teacher.” Our youngest, Halle age four, blurted out “A monster.”
When the microphone turned to me I declined to answer.
When we went home that afternoon I realized, how can I tell our children they could be whatever they wanted to be if I didn’t do the same.
The next day I started writing.

 What inspired you to write your first novel?

Hush, is not the first novel I have written, but it is my first published work. I am a true believer in “when first you do not succeed, try, try again.” With writing, as other things, the more you do it, the better you get.

My first novel took three years to write, Hush took six months.

The idea for Hush came to me one night at the dinner table.
Our middle daughter Leigh asked where her red hair came from.
“Queen Elizabeth,” my husband said.
Our daughter Blakely, twelve at the time, immediately clued into her father’s reference to the British Royal Family and asked, “Does that mean I could be a princess?”
“Only if several hundred people died first,” I laughed.
“But what if that happened? What if there was some sort of big family reunion and everyone else died?”
Years later when Blakely left for boarding school, I started Hush as a way to stay in touch with her. I would write a couple of chapters and email them to her, and then she would tell me what she thought. It was a great way to still be part of her life without actually being there.

Have you found being a published author to be much different than you expected it to be?

Yes. I had no idea how hard it was to be a published author.
You pour yourself onto the page and then go through rounds of rewrites that can last up to a year before you ever get to print.
Then, even when a reputable house publishes you, you have to market your book. I didn’t realize how much non- writing work being published required.
I remember thinking, “Yay, my book is published. Now I can go back to my desk and get back to writing the next novel.”- Nope.

Can you offer a brief description of what your books are about, including genre and age group?

Hush, book one in the Lakeview Academy Series, is the story of an unknown princess who is discovered by an undercover student journalist and hunted down by terrorists on the campus of her elite boarding school.

Whisper, book two in the Lakeview Academy Series, tells the story of enemies who come together to solve a hundred year old mystery after finding a haunted journal that hints at a lost school treasure.

I wrote both books for our eldest daughters, Blakely and Leigh. In each book I used their name for the lead character and let them pick out whom they want their leading man to resemble. If you go to my Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/srcampbellwrite, you can see the results.

Because our daughters go to a highly competitive school I thought it would be fun to write something for them to read when they weren’t neck deep in class work. Basically a quick, fun, simple, page turner.
I also noticed a huge gap in the YA market for books that weren’t too young or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, too sexually explicit.
Fortunately they are finally beginning to split up the Young Adult genre (technically ages twelve and up) into two different groupings putting the more sexually charged books under the new category of, New Adult.
That being said, I write my Lakeview Books for the thirteen to seventeen year old with hopes of entertaining people of all ages.

If you could meet any famous author that ever lived, who would it be and why?

Off the top of my head I would have to say JK Rowling. I know it’s not very original, but she believed in herself and her story when no one else did which is very hard to do. Plus in my opinion, she has one of the most amazing imaginations out there.

When can we expect your next book and can you tell us anything about your WIP?

Book 3 in the Lakeview Series, Scream, has an estimated release of spring 2015 and stars our youngest daughter Halle. I’ve stepped away from the paranormal and the book time span is over a few months instead of a full school year. It will be the last book in the series set on the Lakeview campus.
A teaser, in the form of the first three chapters, will in the back of Whisper when it comes out on March 15th.
I am happy to announce that there will be a book four, Silence.
Silence, estimated release spring 2016, will be set in Europe and brings back several characters from the first book in the series, Hush.

In addition to the Lakeview books, I have a middle grade pirate yarn called ARRGH, coming out this September and a picture book, Sock Monster, being released shortly after in October.

Where can we find you and your books?

You can find my books in book stores everywhere, if they aren’t on the shelf just ask the clerk to order it.
They are also available online at Amazon, Barns and Noble and through iBook.
If your school, or book club wants to do a Skype event, you can order books directly through my publisher, Kari Hock at Green Darner Press.

What is the best piece of advice you have received about writing?

The best piece of advice I ever received was from my husband who told me to go for it. He’s been my best friend for the last twenty-five years, not a day goes by when I’m not thankful I actually listened to him that day.

Final thoughts

My final thoughts return to reading.
I truly believe that one must be a good reader before they can be a good writer.
For kids and adults, like myself, who struggle, I want to say that there is no such thing as a bad reader.
Explore different genres.
There really is something out there for everyone.
Don’t be worried if you are a slow reader or don’t understand certain things, just have fun.

For more information or if you just have a question, visit my website www.staceyrcampbell.com, come visit me on Facebook -authorstaceyrcampbell, or find me on twitter @staceyrcampbell

Antisocial Media : A thought process

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many people the average person “knows” in the digital age. This post is not really so much an opinion as it is a question posed to everyone who makes use of social media, be that blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or the various other platforms out there. Do you think that we are more social or less social than we used to be thanks to technology?

What does the word social really mean? You can find plenty of definitions for it in the dictionary and plenty of different forms. The one we will use here comes from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary. so•cial /adjective:

2. Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. <An active social life>

I have met some of my very best friends (and Julian, sweet Englishman that he is) through blogging. I know these people now as “real people” who are much more than just a face on a website. I have spoken with many of them, met with some of them, sent gifts and cards back and forth and come to rely on our friendship. Still, for as many people as I interact with outside the social media outlets, there are thousands that I am “friends” with that I likely wouldn’t know if they sat beside me on a train for a 12 hour trip. I guess what I am trying to say, is that even though I am grateful for the people I have met over the internet, I feel a certain loss when it comes to my good English manners. When I log onto Facebook, I am in my pajamas. I would never answer the door that way if I invited you to come to tea. Here are some other things:

Differences between social media and social gatherings in the real world:

I  shut off my phone, tablet or computer when I get sick of you.

I don’t make any effort to be pretty when texting you.

I don’t serve you any food or have to clean up after you.

My dogs don’t go mad and bark when you visit on my computer.

I can pretend not to be  home that day and you don’t see me peeking out the drapes.

My children don’t have to behave in the background.

Your children didn’t just break something I value.

My pot belly is not showing and I can shove further peanut butter cups into my mouth without judgment.

So what is the problem? This all sounds great!

I find that I am more consciously nervous in social situations where I cannot hide behind my computer.  Does this happen to you too? I have never been comfortable in entire rooms full of people, be they strangers or not, sadly, it is part of my job to do this, thankfully infrequently. Still, I wonder if social media is partially to blame for my lack of outgoing personality now that I have grown so used to the comfort of plug and play friendships.

Also, I feel a loss at not welcoming guests with a specially prepared treat that is their favourite thing, or just seeing the smile and sharing the laughter that goes along with a face-to-not-Facebook visit.

I would love opinions here, if anyone would like to give one.

Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett

Shoreline Drive (Sanctuary Island, #2)Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett

Dr. Ben Faulkner is a veterinarian on warm, welcoming Sanctuary Island, a tiny refuge for wild horses tucked off the Atlantic coast. Though he’s dedicated his life to healing animals and rescuing the ones no one wants, Ben is nursing deep wounds of his own. After tragedy tore his family apart, he gave up his dreams of finding happiness long ago…until Merry Preston arrives on the island. Vivacious, friendly, and instantly loveable, Merry is everything Ben is not. She’s also nine months pregnant and attempting to carve out a new life for herself and her unborn child.

Though Ben tries to keep his distance, when a raging storm cuts them off from the mainland, he’s forced to help bring her new baby into the world. It’s a harrowing experience that leaves him with one great certainty: I want these two to be my family. Seeing his opportunity, he makes a dramatic proposal to the young mother: a marriage of convenience. If Merry marries him, he’ll draw up a contract naming her son as his heir and promising to provide for them both. But as they’ll learn, love is more than a business proposition…and it’ll take all the magic hidden in Sanctuary Island to turn Ben’s proposal into something real and lasting.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shoreline Drive is the kind of novel that keeps you engaged from start to finish. When you first meet the characters, you know that they are warm and ready to embrace the reader and invite you into their lives.

From the beginning I was whisked away by this author’s writing style. Her words flow easily into the mind and allow you to fall into the story without hangups or missteps. I liked the descriptions she used of the island and of the horses, as well as the detail she put into the creation of her characters. The setting was beautiful and at certain points in the novel, I felt like I was right there with the characters.

This was my first book by Lily Everett, but I would be happy to return to this series and learn more about the lives of the characters. It was somewhat reminiscent to me of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series in the regard that the families are all interconnected and one event creates another within the small town atmosphere.

I would have to say that Ben was my favourite character out of them all.He is the perfect lead for a contemporary romance, strong when he needs to be, silent and observant and the kind of man that you want to capture the heart of the female lead. I didn’t love Sam, but perhaps that will change in future books.

Overall this was a very pleasant read and one I am happy that I didn’t miss.

Scott Fivelson’s DIAL L FOR LATCH-KEY and NEAR MYTH: THE OSKAR KNIGHT STORY

Check out this great blog and the post here about author/screenwriter Scott Fivelson.

Backlots

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A few days ago I was approached by the multi-talented Scott Fivelson, who brought to my attention two quite interesting works that he thought, accurately, would be of interest to readers of Backlots. The first, a satirical one-act play entitled Dial L for Latch-Key, fits squarely in with Backlots’ very popular Hitchcock Halloween blogathon, and the second deals with classic film in a unique way that I know my readers would find interesting. So thanks to Scott for bringing these things to my attention so that I may inform you, the reader!

Somewhere between Alfred Hitchcock and Monty Python lies the new one-act play by Scott Fivelson, Dial L for Latch-Key, a satire evoking both the suspense of an Alfred Hitchcock film and the humor of an eccentric British comedy. Rife with cultural references that will thrill devoted fans of Hitchcock (and Fivelson even throws in some Monty…

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The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

The Path of Daggers (Wheel of Time)The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The Path of Daggers” is the 8th book in the highly regarded “Wheel of time series” by Robert Jordan. I heard a lot about this book before I decided to read it, and I have to say, after actually reading it, I agree with both camps.

The book itself is lovely. The cover is great, (Trade paperback edition released Nov. 2013) and it is a beautiful book to hold and enjoy. (I tend to forget how wonderful real pages can be now that I read digital copies so often.)

Just when you think there cannot be any further possibilities for a cliffhanger that goes unresolved, Robert Jordan surprises us again. I will warn those of you who were hoping for a resolution to the cliffhanger at the end of book seven…you won’t get much resolution and there are even more unresolved events born in this book. Thankfully, since this book was originally published the next few books are also available, so you won’t have to wait forever for that resolution to come.

There is a lot going on between these covers :)Yet, nothing really happens. I know that is a stark contradiction, but it is true. This book is mostly set up for the next few books.

The writing is good, but there is a lot of dialogue and character thought to wade through. This is definitely not the book you want to choose as an introduction to this series, although if you have been following from the beginning, the way Jordan handled this will not be much of a surprise.

If you are a devoted fan of Rand, you may want to prepare yourself for the image destruction in this novel. Whilst the previous stories were setting him up for this change in personality, this one really displays what has taken hold of him. Personally, I was happy to see the author continue on with his initial unspoken promise that people would change, events would unfold and nothing would be the same as it was in the first book.

I do have to say, the female characters in this book are brutal and merciless. I was actually a little surprised that the males in the book are painted as being less hostile and more even tempered than the females.

Overall, this was a good addition to the series and ties together the previous books and the next books in the series fluidly. I was impressed that the characters did not behave exactly as I would have expected–nice to know there are still surprises to be had in such a long series.

I think if you are a devoted Jordan fan, you will want to add this to your collection, although it is not the most exciting book in the series in the way of action scenes.

This review is based on a print copy from Goodreads Firstreads. All opinions are my own.

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The Arnifour Affair by Gregory Harris

The Arnifour Affair (Colin Pendragon Mysteries, #1)The Arnifour Affair by Gregory Harris

Set against the fog-shrouded backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, Gregory Harris’s new historical mystery series introduces tenacious sleuth Colin Pendragon, and a case that illuminates the darkness lurking in the heart of one of England’s most noble families.

When a carriage bearing the Arnifour family crest–a vulture devouring a slaughtered lamb–arrives at the Kensington home of Colin Pendragon, it is an ominous beginning to a perplexing new case. Lady Arnifour’s husband has been beaten to death and her niece, Elsbeth, left in a coma. Is the motive passion, revenge, or something even more sinister? Police suspicions have fallen on the groundskeeper and his son, yet the Earl’s widow is convinced of their innocence.

Even as Colin and his partner Ethan Pruitt delve into the muddy history of the Arnifour family, a young street urchin begs their help in finding his missing sister. Ethan, regrettably familiar with London’s underbelly, urges caution, yet Colin’s interest is piqued. And in a search that wends from the squalid opium dens of the East End to the salons of Embassy Row, the truth about these seemingly disparate cases will prove disquieting, dangerous, and profoundly unexpected. .

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Arnifour Affair is a fairly interesting mystery novel set in Victorian London. Whislt I immediately thought of Sherlock and Holmes, the author did a good job of making his characters have their own personalities.

The main mystery, for me at least, felt a little lacking as I thought it was a bit too obvious and had been done before in other books, but the side mystery kept me interested and turning pages. I liked the dynamic created between the two main characters. They had a unique relationship and worked well side-by-side.

I was definitely a little irked by the repeated usage of certain words in this book and by repeated gestures, but not enough that I wished to stop reading.

The plot wasn’t bad and the story kept pace pretty well. The dialogue was mostly well written and kept me engaged with the happenings in the story. I quite enjoyed some of quips in this novel and found a lot of the passages quote-worthy. Intelligent and well-spoken characters make me happy.

I would have liked to have seen more of a background history on the main characters, particularly on Colin, so we could see how he got to where he was when we first met him in this book.

Overall this was a good start to a new series that promises to satisfy a desire for mystery.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

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