Review: That Scoundrel, Emile DuBois by Lucinda Elliot

Lucinda Elliot describes her novel as a “cod gothic,” a seriocomic parody of a venerable genre that often satirizes itself. The book is a delightful read, with an intriguing story, lively sometimes-outrageous characters, and well-placed touches of humour. An outstanding feature of this amusing vampire tale is the delicious contrast between the staid nobility of settled aristocrats intent upon keeping up appearances and the scandalous behaviour of an arch scoundrel (himself of noble blood) named Emile Dubois.

That Scoundrel, Emil DuBois

A sophisticated and sensual blend of humour, horror, and romance.

Complicating matters is a regal country house full of bloodthirsty half-vampires, one of whom, Goronwy Kenrick, schemes to harness “thought forms” so he can travel through time. Throughout the tale, serious trouble with vampires alternates with episodes of good-natured fun or even all out farce. Especially droll are the scenes where the vampire elite angrily holler down corridors and stairwells at reluctant servants (who often distantly shout back).

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Review: The Quickening by Mari Biella

The Quickening is above all a novel of mood. It has a pleasing quality of intriguing familiarity that brings other writers and their works to mind while at the same time setting out its own unique ambiance. As an old-fashioned atmospheric ghost story, the author’s style suggests that of a young Wilkie Collins or a less-ornate Edgar Allan Poe. The feel and theme of the story inevitably bring to mind Henry James’ classic, “The Turn of the Screw.” The isolated house and flat marshy landscape of the setting remind one of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland, although Biella’s story is pure horror without the science-fiction elements introduced to such tales by Hodgson. The intelligent cosy conversations between Fairweather and the local medic, Doctor Devonald, echo similar talks between those in charge in the upper-class adventure novels of John Buchan. The creepy spiritualist, Mrs. Marchant, with her dramatic séance (one of the novel’s most powerful scenes) recalls the supernatural thrillers of Charles Williams. In short, The Quickening rests comfortably among the works of some of the English language’s most entertaining writers.

The Quickening Cover

If you enjoy period ghost stories that generate a sustained atmosphere or mood, The Quickening is a feast.

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Review: Hidden Boundaries by C.S. McClellan

With its homosexual relationships and dominant slavery theme, this powerful well-written novel seems a challenging read for those of us who are in the mainstream. Yet George Orwell’s 1984 hardly slots into the norm and we have no trouble reading about Winston Smith’s brutal torments at the hands of the virtual slave-state known as Big Brother. Most Goodreads members who have read Hidden Boundaries classify the novel as M/M (male on male) Romance, but that trivializes a work that may best be described as homosexual literature. The question remains as to whether we really need to make a literary sub-category based on sexual orientation.

Hidden Boundaries - cover

If you relish a thought-provoking read that will open your eyes to aspects of life you may not be familiar with, Hidden Boundaries is highly recommended.

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In the Comic Footsteps of Douglas Adams

The Garden Wall - cover

A good comic science fiction novel by a university student. Available for free at the time of this writing, and an entertaining read.

The Garden Wall is Lichfield Dean’s first full-length novel. Reminiscent of works by Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, the humorous science fiction tale is entertaining enough to be a decent read. A young female university student named simply Eradani is probably the main character. I say “probably” because the book opens with scenes featuring a number of characters and it takes a fair bit of reading before the young woman emerges as the most likely prospect for the job. This approach seems popular with indie writers. One wonders whether this is a deliberate ploy or today’s young authors suffer from a chronic inability to focus. Perhaps the idea is to demonstrate a new kind of “inclusive” storytelling. The influence of film, with its numerous short sequences and shifting viewpoints, may also be a factor here. In any case, the lack of a consistent viewpoint character gives the book a rambling incoherent feel that detracts from what could have been a much stronger tale.

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Ebook Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors

State of Confusion with capital buildings and overlaid by "state of confusion."

Confusion abounds when deciding the best price for ebooks. (Image: public domain.)

Please note that material such as this is time sensitive and may vary somewhat from one genre to another. I offer what is here as a framework for your own research and thinking. Do your homework.

Many fairy tales surround pricing for indie ebooks. Looking over the first four pages of the Smashwords bestseller list for full length science fiction, I see only one title for sale at the often-recommended price of $1.99 – everything else is higher, most of it much higher. I have been studying the price issue for months and have concluded the following:

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Do Indie Writers Need a Pen Name?

Mark Twain

Mark Twain is probably the most famous pen name. A special nom de plume can make you stand out, but there are other pros and cons. (Image: public domain.)

Some indie writers operate under a carefully chosen pen name. Is there an advantage to this? Does it increase the author’s ability to sell his or her works? When I set out to become an indie, I thought the strategy had some merit. Subsequently, I had cause to reconsider.

About two months after I decided to become an indie author, I discovered that I would not have, as I confidently expected, exclusive use of my somewhat unusual surname in the fantasy genre. I finally thought to search Smashwords for “Cotterill” and found that one Rachel Cotterill (in the UK) has two fantasy novels already listed on the site. The “Cottrell” spelling of our name is common, but “Cotterill” is much rarer so this seemed a bit of bad luck. It is not that I begrudge Rachel Cotterill the use of the name, naturally, but I had the idea that a unique surname would give me an advantage in making sales. After all, a search that brings up only your books must be better than one that brings up a whole list of books by people with the same name; right?

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