New policy

Here’s the deal.  I’ve been trying to politely reply to incorrect submissions.  People using the last resort email without reading the guidelines have been getting summarily and unceremoniously deleted, but others have used the submission form for non-fiction, or they’ve submitted their query via the contact us page, one person even recently read the submission guidelines and somehow got the impression it was pick-mix and skipped straight to the last resort option and even admitted as much in the email.  Until today the ones not just sending us any and sundry email on the last resort address have been getting polite replies directing them to the submission guidelines and form.

No more.

The forms explain themselves.  The submission guidelines, while possibly able to stand being phrased more business like and stuffy (something I’d rather slit my own wrists than attempt to do to the poor defenseless English language), are pretty straight forward and clear.  If you can’t read them, it is now our policy to assume that this also means you cannot write and that we will not be able to finish your book; literacy, after all, ought to be a prerequisite for being a writer.

I’m sorry, but it’s going too far and getting to be too much.  There have been days where over half of the submissions were incorrect and it took the better part of an hour to reply to all of them before adding the people who did as they were asked to our backlog!  That’s time that might have seen the start and finish of someone’s short story.  It’s certainly the amount of time it took me to read our first comic submission!

When you waste our time you waste other authors’ time.  So no more.  When you can follow the guidelines we’ll consider your book.  Until then you’re refiled to the bin without a glance or a tear shed.

Yes, this post is rude.  Believe me — there are hundreds of bad submissions behind it.  Patience and politeness have been exhausted and have left the building.

Penny Palabras – Episode 05: A Gun in Act One

Penny Palabras 005The charactarisation deepens, the plot twists, and your mind will blow.

James B. Willard and Patrick K. Beavers do not disappoint.

We’ve yet another instalment of Penny Palabras, and this one gives us a deeper glimpse of Penny, a better understanding of her family and past, and then we get a classic comic book plot twist to blow the mind and make this already delightfully surreal read even more so.

We meet Penny’s father, we learn just who the librarian is/was.  And Penny’s already completely bizarre life gets just a bit weirder.

Now, I will say, Penny is given a bit of a dysfunctional family and the tone of this episode is possibly, due to that, a bit darker than most of the books before.  It fits wonderfully with the overall dark tone and look of the series.

So far the story continues to be something recommendable even to those who don’t normally like the dark, paranormal, psych-thriller sort of story.

Staying open, but slowing down

I’ll get the submission guidelines updated to reflect this within the next couple of days, but here’s the thing:  Backlog will be updated once a week sometime between Saturday and Tuesday, due to various life things that could interfere with even that the new “did aliens eat it?” is going to be if two whole weekends go by without anything showing up.

The site is staying open for the foreseeable future, but the way Amazon‘s review policies are changing lately I may close down simply because it won’t be worth the bother; this site isn’t where the meat of the promotion for your books comes from and never will be — how many people actually pay attention to review blogs?!  The meat of this site’s benefits to people are the Amazon and Goodreads reviews, and the former probably twice as much as the latter.  There may come a day when our reviews are being pulled from Amazon or being rejected out of hand and when that day comes the site will close.  I shan’t delete it, but the forms will go away and the backlog will remain as it was.

IndieFic closing?

There is a distinct possibility I will eventually close down the site.

It won’t be tomorrow, it won’t be next week.  It may not be ever — it’s up to others.

I started this in hopes that it might become something more like a community.  I knew, primarily, that the traffic to this site would be authors seeking reviews.  I expected some, even many, would come here go straight to the request for a review and move on.  I did not expect that to be virtually the exclusive traffic flow.

Few people ever look at the backlog, certainly no one follows the links from it; few people ever look at the reviews — there’re some who come here directly to the submission guidelines and then to the submission form.

I am giving until January.  If by then I have absolutely no one else reviewing regularly then I will take down the submission forms.  I will leave the site up — no reason to delete the reviews and backlog so that will last as long as WordPress feels inclined to host it.

This is far too much for one person who has his own writing and editing to do, a full time job on top of that, as well as a family to spend time with to do alone.  I’ve greatly enjoyed seeing all the books out there, but this is more stress than it’s worth and the lack of any traffic anywhere but the submissions page is, frankly, depressing.

I’m feeling better so I’ll be getting back to my to-read list and some reviews should be showing up shortly and I will continue to contact authors for another title to read until New Years … or the site might live on, if other will come forward and not just offer a review, but actually follow through.

Long hiatus

I had to go in for emergency surgery.

I’m out now, but on narcotics for pain. I cannot concentrate to read or post.

Those whose titles I have I shall read if/when lucidity allows and post a review when/if I can make anything like sense.

Recovery can be as long as another month. Titles will trickle onto the backlog as capacity to comprehend a computer allows or at the leisure of my pair of assistant admins. Of course others are involved so the site could technically go uninterrupted, but the others all have been conspicuously absent for good reasons related to their own time pressures and those don’t change just because I’m ill … hell, one is my wife!  She’s also impacted and will have even less time for this than she already does!

Penny Palabras – Episode 04: Disappearing Acts

Penny Palabras coverThree words:  Shit gets real.

Not the most clever assessment, nor the most original, but it really fits this.

James B. Willard and Patrick K. Beavers continue to impress and amaze.

The plot thickens, someone we’ve come to appreciate over the series so far will leave us, and the 24-page format continues to be milked for all it’s worth.

As ever, the issue ends on a cliffhanger that leaves you — even if only for a moment — contemplating just how much you need that immortal soul thing you have laying around and if the authors would accept it in exchange for the rest of the story, or at least as a down payment on what comes next.

The story continues to be a bit dark, spooky, and heavily dosed with WTF (a good WTF, but WTF nonetheless).  It’s not for everyone.  If you’re an Archie’s fan, borrow a copy from a friend first or something to be sure you want to drop your $3, but otherwise I feel it’s very much worth the read.

Half-Off Ragnarok

46150_originalSeanan McGuire has another InCrypted novel out as of a few days ago.

Half-Off Rangarok leaves off of Verity’s adventures for a spell and visits her brother, Alex, in Ohio.

Frankly this book was great and not so great, but it still gets an Awesome! for one fact:  it is well written, the characters are good, etc.  It just was as fun for me as the ones about Verity have been.  Alex, frankly, isn’t as interesting a person, he doesn’t interact with the Aeslin Mice enough, and I miss Istas.

That said, I found the writing superb, and Shelby was a pretty interesting person.  We learn about a few more interesting cryptids, etc.

Honestly, if you’re like me, and characters have a lot to do with your enjoyment of a story you may want to snag the sample off Amazon, iBooks, or whichever before you lay your $7.99 on the table; just to be sure this one will be enjoyable enough, or if you’ll want to look out for a chance to grab it on sale, second-hand, etc.  Frankly, it’s worth getting and with 5 books contracted and 10 planned it’ll probably be worthwhile to read it.

If you just like a well told story, characters be damned, grab it.

If you like characters who are well done, but nothing particular about any given character strikes your fancy except that they’re well done, grab it.

Penny Palabras Episodes 2 & 3

Penny Palabras Episode 02 - The Devil's Weight - James B. Willard

James B Willard continues to wow with his Penny Palabras story.  And Patrick K Beavers’ artwork is still phenomenal.

In these two episodes the plot continues to unfold.  The Straw man is getting more agressive, more dangerous; Penny’s nightmares are getting worse.

Truly these stories are without a doubt wonderfully suspenseful and end in beautiful cliffhangers that leave you feeling like a crack addict wanting next month’s episode to arrive so you can get your next fix.

Penny Palabras 003


To be perfectly honest, I’ve yet to get my head wrapped around just what in Hell is going on, but I believe this to be a very good thing — in a suspense/thriller/horror themed story you want to be feeling like “WTF?!  My brain is leaking out of my ears!  What’s going on!?”  I mean, isn’t that the major appeal of H P Lovecraft’s works?

Worth a read, worth a buy.  Even if you’re not a big fan of horror/thriller type stories, you might give this one a go.  If you don’t like them because of nightmares issues, you might give it a miss, though; the writer does too good a job for the easily sleepless.

Penny Palabras – Episode 1

Penny Palabras 001James B Willard has given me the opportunity to take a look at the first issue of his Penny Palabras story — available through Amazon (just click the cover, as usual) — and I must say, it’s very interesting.

Now, I will admit, it’s hard to decide what to say about a single issue of a larger story.  I don’t have the whole plot, after all.  But each issue does have a job:  it has to establish some stage of the larger plot; in this case, it needs to introduce everything.

This does very well.

Let’s start with the fun stuff in graphic media:  the art!  Patrick K Beavers does a wonderful job.  The comic is in greyscale, and this was a great stroke, I think, in maintaining the somewhat … let’s use creepy, creepy’s a good word, tone of the overall story.  The lines are crisp — despite the monochromatic scenery, you can distinguish features; this puts this lightyears ahead of some of the offerings I’ve seen from DC or Marvel at times.

The story itself, an introduction to, well, as the blurb says:

Penny Palabras, 17, has experienced the paranormal for years. She knows that things aren’t always what they seem. Now, she’s tormented by a malevolent entity called the Straw Man. As she searches for ways to banish him from her life, she’s haunted by more than ghosts. Her nightmares won’t let her sleep, her friends and family can’t understand, and the Straw Man is getting more powerful every day.

The setting, the characters, the story, all leave you wanting more — leave you needing that second issue.  In this it does its job well.  I’m not personally a fan of the issue-by-issue story arc format usually called “writing for the trades” and will lean more quickly toward the old-school episodic issues with occassional multi-issue stories, or just a good ol’ graphic novel.  But, that’s me, and the comic universe right now is this.  So who am I to judge?

If you’re looking for something light-hearted and silly, I’d say stay clear of this.  But if you want a good bit of paranormal thriller, with some suspence thrown in … or maybe that’s the other way around … whichever, you should certainly give this a read.  Hell, it’s worth the $2.99 sticker price just for the artwork!

An observation about publicists

As this is an indie reviews blog, I think it is within my responsibility to point out a trend to my fellow broke, struggling authors out there:  Publicists, probably aren’t worth what you’re paying them.

[horror]Whatever do you mean!?[end horror]

I mean out of all the improper submissions to this review site a good 90% of them are made by publicists.  Publicists tend to do things like give me anything and sundry for the title of the book, except the title of the book.  They submit non-fiction or self-help to this fiction only review blog … the list goes on.  Really, if they can screw up the book submission in some way, they’ve done it.  Authors & publishers?  Some, but not hardly as often nor as badly.

So, just from a reviewer’s stand point, you’re really wasting your time and money on most of the publicists that I’ve come across.

Does  this mean publicists are bad?

NO!  Gods, no.  Just like with publishers and agents, some are brilliant (or at least competent) and others are an utter waste of carbon – they tend to resemble humans in this regard.  The key is in carefully research your publicist, ask questions of them before you hire them, then keep an eye on them.  Ask for progress reports, and otherwise check up on them to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.  Remember:  they’re your employee, but unlike the agents and publishers (unless you took a scam artist one of those) where if you don’t make money, they don’t either, a publicist gets paid no matter what.