A KickStarter Campaign to Fund the Self-Publication of my Short Story Anthology, “Human.”


For the past two years, I have been writing and compiling an anthology of short stories, quotes, and nonfiction interludes in a collection named, “Human.”  At this juncture, I now have enough material to finish my anthology, but now I need backers.  I have decided to self-publish this go-around, because I wanted to get people involved–I want external support to make this a successful project, and with the popularity of KickStarter rising I decided that it would be a good idea to use it to finance the self-publication of “Human.”

I am trying to raise $3,800 to pay for the publishing, marketing, and editing services of Amazon’s CreateSpace, the rewards that the backers will receive, and the fees that KickStarter and AmazonPayments will deduct on a successful campaign.  I want this to be a success; a first of many.

Check out my KickStarter campaign page by clicking the KickStarter logo below and please donate what you can.  $8 will nab you an electronic copy of the anthology and $20 will get you a signed paper back with the rewards only climbing from there.  However, feel free to donate even just a dollar, or at the very least spread the word.  Share this post on your blog or your Facebook/Twitter account–I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope you will give this project a chance.  I look forward to reading your name in the ‘Thank You’ section of the short story anthology, “Human.”

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“Barsoom” Covers by d’Achille


Barsoom!

I have finally gotten around to reading the “Barsoom Series” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and just like watching the “Star Wars” films or reading Tolkien I have been transported into another realm…and have become mildly obsessed.  Thus far, I’ve finished the first novel, “Princess of Mars,” and I have just cracked into its sequel, “Gods of Mars.”  I will mostly likely have a review up in a short while, but until then check out these original covers for Burroughs highly regarded series by d’Achille–they’re absolutely spectacular:

Barsoom

Review: Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver


Carte Blanche (James Bond)Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since Ian Fleming’s death in 1964 numerous writers have taken up the task of penning James Bond novels in an effort to keep the Fleming and Bond legacy alive and well. Some of these authors have had lengthy runs that have allowed them to frame out their version of the titular character with years of careful growth, however, others have had only a mere moment to make their mark on the famous character. Suffice it to say, some of these authors have been more successful than others, because of their respective opportunities.

In particular, I enjoyed John Gardner’s James Bond series, which primarily spanned the 1980’s, as well as Raymond Benson’s more-American take on the most-British of spies.
Recently, the popular fiction author, Jeffrey Deaver, was plucked from the ranks to write the latest 007 novel and on the whole I think he does the series justice. He does not take any chances, but he does hold true to the character and the universe which I think will appease fans but in the end deny them poignancy and relevance.

Deaver begins by taking Bond and bumping him into the twenty-first Century. By doing this, Deaver effectively alters the rules and the environment to create a new stomping ground for Bond to partake in, and because of this drastic change small facets of Bond’s backstory were changed but nothing that compromises the character. Besides these few details Deaver doesn’t really change anything else about the James Bond universe. He stays fairly grounded in the lore, and merely uses the revised setting to make a contemporary tale. As far as research is concerned it probably relieved some potential stress for Deaver as well. All things considering, it is an intelligent decision.

Interestingly enough the plot takes places over the course of a single week. It is quick and seamless. Each scene transitions smoothly to the next and it rarely has slow points because of its rapidity. Also, like most (if not all) James Bond plots, it trots the globe. The introduction takes place in Serbia and finally ends in Sudan with stops in Dubai and of course the United Kingdom.

The first several chapters follow James Bond as he thwarts an Irish hit man from derailing a train and polluting the Danube. This seemingly secluded incident then traces back to the villainous Severan Hydt and a much deeper plot that Bond must unravel before the death toll mounts. Hydt has an affinity for death. He enjoys it so much that he photographs it in order to get off on it privately. Severan is truly a villainous character that fits in to Bond’s wheelhouse of world dominators to a ‘T.’

The plot takes countless twists and turns and introduces various faces; some are familiar, while others are fresh takes on espionage archetypes. In the end and in traditional Jeffrey Deaver fashion, the conclusion is not so neatly sewn up as it may seem. There are numerous twists in the last fifty pages or so, but all-in-all, the good guys win the day and Bond has something left to ponder.

Carte Blanche” is not the best James Bond book ever written, nor is it the worst. It fires on all necessary cylinders to function accordingly, but it does not go above and beyond. It doesn’t push the boundaries, and unfortunately I think it will be easily forgettable a couple years down the line. With this in mind “Carte Blanche” receives three-and-a-half stars out of five.

“Carte Blanche” is not as in depth as a John le Carré or Joseph Kanon’s novels, but it gets the job done. It is a quick read, and the characters (whether new or not) seem familiar to the reader. Deaver pays homage to Fleming, while simultaneously holding true to his own form.

(SOURCE: Review: Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver)

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“The Third Gate” by Lincoln Child


The Third GateThe Third Gate by Lincoln Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lincoln Child is a favorite writer of mine, and I have spent nearly a decade of reading well-constructed and thought out novels by this talented artist. When I first read his collaborative novels, “Riptide” and “Cabinet of Curiosities,” it was a truly magical experience that I can still recount vividly.

Over the years, Lincoln Child and his writing partner, Douglas Preston, have written a series of joint novels dubbed the ‘Pendergast Novels,’ as well each crafting several solo novels on their own accord. Generally speaking, Douglas Preston’s plots focus more heavily upon history and archaeology, while Child’s endeavors can be best described as ‘Technological Thrillers.’ Together they seamlessly blend these two wonderful genres to create a unique and riveting experience that indubitably leaves the reader imploring for more.

“The Third Gate” is Lincoln Child’s fifth solo novel, and is essentially a self-contained tale with no immediate sequels or prequels. So, if you want to dive into something that is a not precursor to a long-running series then this would be a perfect novel to read on cool summer’s eve.

Child takes the age-old mummy curse paradigm and re-imagines it for contemporary audiences by wrapping up present day technologies, a bit of the paranormal, and a splash of mummy’s curse for flavor. The resulting cocktail follows Jeremy Logan, an Enigmalogist, as he begins his employment for the mysterious, but highly successful explorer, Porter Stone. Along with a group of qualified technicians, scientists, archaeologists, and historians, they travel to an area found in South Sedan ominously titled, the Sudd. The Sudd is not a fictitious place, and (unbeknownst to me at the time) is the largest swamp in the world; it continues to grow in size every year due to its proximity to the White Nile. The core of Child’s plot focuses upon the final resting place of Narmer, the first king of unified Egypt. Stone has managed to locate his tomb by piecing together scraps of information scattered across the globe, but unfortunately it resides in one of the world’s most inhospitable corners, the Sudd. Towards the beginning of the tomb’s excavation a tablet is discovered depicting a particularly nasty mummy’s curse. At first glance, nothing is thought of it, but as mysterious circumstances start presenting themselves Stone is forced to bring someone onboard with an expertise in the odd, hence the inclusion of Jeremy Logan.

The premise grips you the moment you begin the novel, and throws you into the deep end with surprising results. The introductory chapter is phenomenally written; it is one the best beginnings that I have ever encountered in mainstream fiction. It is poignant and emotionally gripping, which immediately invests the reader in the characters and subsequently the plot.

However, the rest of the novel falls short until at glimmer presents itself at the very end. This is terribly disappointing considering the stellar introduction. Most the interesting plot points are divulged to Logan as he is being recruited to work on site for the famed archaeologist, Porter Stone, but once he arrives at their base of operations (deep within the Sudd) the narrative begins to lag. A bulk of the novel is spent following Logan as he aimlessly wanders about asking questions to anyone who will care to listen. Most of his questions go unanswered and it is not till the end of the book that it begins to pick up the pace once again.

Sadly, many of the characters are flat and shallow, and the few that are more rounded are not fleshed out properly leaving more loose ends then necessary. Much of Logan’s back-story is egregiously hinted at but never divulged in detail to the reader. It seems interesting and as if it would pertain to the plot, but by the end all but a few scraps of information are provided. Stone is one of the few characters (besides the protagonist) that has more than a flat edge about him; he plays the classic successful entrepreneur to a ‘T,’ and provides much of the driving force to the overall project, and thus the plot. Many of the other characters have interesting qualities, but they tend to be conflicting or underdeveloped.

The ending adequately wraps up the core narrative, but feels very rushed and sudden. It feels like 50-or-so pages are missing from the novel, and I that I was in fact reading a poorly abridged version. The lingering notions sprinkled in the closing paragraphs that are supposed to leave the reader feeling profoundly affected seem instead to come out of left field, ultimately undercutting the entire rhythm of the novel.

Oddly enough, I also thought I was reading a Douglas Preston book for the first hundred pages before realizing that Lincoln Child was attempting to write historical fiction, instead of his usual techno savvy novels. It is like Lincoln Child tried to copy his writing partner’s style, which resulted in a sloppy, mediocre novel that falls flat compared to his prior work. Child’s solo works include sentient computers, evil amusement parks, and alien weapon deposits, so to suddenly shift gears and write a historical thriller seems counterintuitive to his style.

I rate “The Third Gate” three-and-a-half stars out of five. Lincoln Child is far better than his latest work, and I would highly recommend reading “Utopia” and/or “Terminal Freeze” before cracking into the “The Third Gate.”

(Source: Review: The Third Gate by Lincoln Child)

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“The Wizard and the Glass” by Stephen King


Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Last month, Stephen King released an eighth Dark Tower novel by the name of “The Wind Through the Keyhole.” I took this as a personal challenge, and began fervently trying to finish King’s “Wizard and the Glass,” because “The Wind Through the Keyhole” nestles firmly between the fourth and fifth Dark Tower novels.

For the past eight years I have attempted to read “The Wizard and the Glass” to little to no avail. I love Stephen King and I love his work. I remember reading the “Gunslinger” for the first time and being riveted and quickly marked as a bibliophile. I knew after reading it cover-to-cover (in the span of a couple hours) that I would forever read, and that literature would always be a close friend. However, even though the “Gunslinger” is rightfully King’s magnum opus, “The Wizard and the Glass” (which resides in the same series) woefully deviates from Roland’s tale to tell even older tale.

It starts slow and for me “The Wizard and the Glass” was hard to concentrate on because I was being constantly reminded of the much more interesting story that lay in the immediate background. However, I finally finished it and the tale was masterful as always. About halfway through the novel the sidetracked story begins to get interesting in its own right, but like all great King story it ends in sadness and to quote my own thoughts on “11/22/63”:

“Damn it Stephen King! You’re so brilliant, but I hate you!”

The novel wraps up by diving into Roland’s psyche, syncing a great Wizard of Oz reference to Stephen King’s famous novel “The Stand,” and shoring up some loose plot points divulged in the prior three novels.

“The Wizard and the Glass” is a good novel in its own right, but definitely not my favorite of King’s work or the best of the Dark Tower saga. Ironically enough, I am desperately looking forward to cracking into his newest foray into the land Oz though, so stayed tuned for my review on King’s “A Wind Through the Keyhole.”

View all my reviews

“The Race” by Clive Cussler


The RaceThe Race by Clive Cussler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clive Cussler is most known for his action-adventure novels, especially those starring his reoccurring character, Dirk Pitt. However, several years back Cussler released his first Isaac Bell novel titled, “The Chase.” Isaac Bell is the lead private detective in the fictional Van Dorn Detective Agency. He is quick-witted, brave, intuitive, tall, blonde-hair, a crack shot, and everything else Ian Fleming would of thought while constructing James Bond.

The Isaac Bell novels take place in the late 19th/early 20th centuries and are always centered on a particularly cunning villain that Isaac Bell has to tangle with throughout the tale. The narrative usually flips back and forth between the two leads, and even though the antagonist essentially embodies evil Cussler manages to round them out making them quite interesting to read about. And, truth be told, Isaac does not always get the better of the villains, which in the end makes for a great read.

In “The Race” Cussler focus on the birth of the airplane. In a story that pans the continent during the height of a newspaper endorsed monoplane/biplane race Isaac Bell must protect the race’s underdog from her murderous brute of a husband, Harry Frost, while simultaneously trying to figure out who is behind the sabotage of the other participants planes.

The book is a fun romp through early 20th century America, while focusing on the classic ‘whodunit’ recipe. The atmosphere can be described as whimsical and thus creates a quick, enjoyable read. I don’t know of too many fictional pre-WWI novels and because this era interests me so greatly I am pleased that Cussler has filled in the void, some what, and produced a fun novel that will interest just about anyone who likes solid action-adventure novels.

View all my reviews

The Deepness in Jenga


Life is a jumble.  Sometimes everything stacks up nice and neat, but all it takes is one slight maneuver and the Jenga Tower just comes tumbling on down.  The part of the puzzle that is different for all of us is the quickness in which we build the tower, how high we build it, and how we rebuild it after it has collapsed.  I could probably expound on the aforementioned metaphor and say that each color represents a facet of our personality and that the flaws that cause the collapse of the tower are the ones that makes us stronger in the rebuilding of our beacon; however that level of detail is in a mindset and post of its own, so I’ll segue from ideological digression to something more grounded.

The last several weeks have been filled with craziness.  My girlfriend’s parents recently moved out of state leaving her feeling slightly uneasy.  All of her family now either resides in Idaho, or on the Westside of Washington State.  In their move, we helped whenever we had a chance to, and at the end of the day we ended up adopting one of their dogs to ease their move.  His name is Cody (aka Kodiak) and he is an incredibly well behaved and cute Chihuahua.  The sad part to the whole affair is that when he was a pup someone decided that negligence and abuse was the way to proceed, so unfortunately his back legs are horribly skewed because both of them were broken after being caught in a mesh kennel and then left to mend improperly.  The same individuals who left his legs shattered and misshapen, also felt it was necessary to solely feed him human food, which subsequently rotted out all of his front teeth leaving him with only his more sturdy back ones to do the munching.  When he pants he looks like a little old man, but even throughout all of the torment he is a well-adjusted, sweet, and handsome son-of-a-gun.  As I’m writing this, he is tightly wound into a little ball softly snoring away.  I’ve already become incredibly partial to him and hopefully with some diet and exercise his little chub will slowly dissipate and his legs can begin to heal.

Along with the adoption of the Chihuahua, I have been fervently writing as Celeste and I gear up for the Spokane Comic-Con.   I was fortunate enough to be able to cover the Vertigo relaunch and restructure last month, which led to quite a swell in viewership.  The Avengers vs. X-Men, which is the big Marvel summer event, just released last week and looks to be a promising 12-part arc that will pit the mightiest of the Marvel Universe in an epic slugfest.  And, at the moment, I am working on a review of Scott Snyder’s “Gates of Gotham” miniseries that premiered last year, before the DC’s new 52, as a kind of prologue to a series of articles that I will be composing about Snyder’s new Bat Family crossover story arc dubbed “The Court of Owls.”  Snyder is a superb writer and continues to push the boundaries of storytelling in both of his critically acclaimed Batman and Swamp Thing runs, so if you get a chance grab a Snyder graphic novel or comic—you won’t be disappointed.

As for the novel, “Jack and the Lilac Butcher,” I’ve kept up by fleshing out scenes here and there, and I am hopeful that the first act of the novel will be wrapped up in a couple of weeks.  It’s been a blast to write and it seems as if inspiration abounds, but I suppose once you are in love with something, whether it be a person, an idea, or a character, it is difficult not to be inspired.  In all likelihood I will post several chapters of the novel back-to-back here on WordPress, at the Writer’s Café, and at Wattpad.  I have been meaning to become more involved in Wattpad.  It seems like a great community of writers and readers that definitely deserves more of my time.

Just the other evening I finally wrapped up Clive Cussler’s “The Race” after slowly slogging through its whimsical pages.  My haste was deeply lessened with work and various sidetracks, but I was eventually able to finish the novel.  I greatly enjoyed it.  It was a fantastic period piece set in the early part of the twentieth century, specifically focusing on the early days of aviation, and the fictional Van Dorn Detective Agency’s various Pinkerton-like exploits.  I have now moved on to finally finishing King’s “Wizard in the Glass,” so that I can dive into his newest Dark Tower novel, “The Wind in the Keyhole,” which releases later this month.  Even though I have not finished the Dark Tower saga I am greatly intrigued by the fact that King has returned to his masterpiece after all this time with a fill-in novel.  Hopefully, this will give me the necessary push to finish the series that I have so longed to read, but never ‘found’ the time to enjoy.  With a stack of books at my bedside I have found that Goodreads has been an excellent site to virtually house all of my reads and want-to-reads, while simultaneously engaging in literary discussions.  If anyone is interested, or already as an account, send me a follow and I’ll make sure to follow back.  I always love to see what others are reading.  There is always a hidden gem in someone’s library.

Well, I am off to dive into the endless sea of pop culture that I ‘oh-so’ love.  A latte, a cozy Chihuahua, some Queen on vinyl, and a bought of writing are in order for this blogger.  A hat off to everyone, and hopefully the sun is shining wherever you are.

Cheers,

Anthony Schultz

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