The hosts of our party have some mean bad guys hiding among their pages! Today, some of our authors open their books and let their monsters take a peek outside.Click on over to the Awesome Indies, read the descriptions and vote for the monster you think is the creepiest.
Watch out! There’s demons, ghouls, ghosts and other nasties on the Awesome Indies and they’re escaping their books on Halloween to host a party for all the gentle souls from the less frightening stories. The spread is amazing, a smorgasbord of genres, over 40 books on sale at 99c from the 30th of October to the 1st November, plus a fun quiz, a meet the monster day and a goody-bag of give-aways.
The party starts today with a fun quiz! Click over to the Awesome Indies blog to find out what you didn’t know about Halloween….
The Awesome Indies take the risk out of buying indie. They list only books that meet the same standard as mainstream fiction, so all you have to do it choose what you think you’ll like.
This week allonymbooks author Evie Woolmore reviews a YA contemporary fantasy.
YA fantasy is such a rapidly expanding genre, that it can be difficult to create a story that stands out amid the usual themes of growing up, emotions, relationships and new responsibilities, even though fantasy gives an author enormous potential to create a really original context for exploring these ideas. For Her Unwelcome Inheritance, the first volume in the Fayborn series, Wootton has borrowed some very old, well-known foundations for his fantasy world in the characters many of us know from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and re-imagined them for us, immortal and brought bang up to date.
Petra Goodfellow is a descendant of a former advisor to Oberon, the Fairy King, but she is now at the heart of a power struggle as Oberon seeks to restore power to his kingdom. Petra’s mother has done her best to protect her daughter from the impact of her bloodline, but the past is catching up with Petra now, as James Oberon seeks to track her down by any means possible. But Petra wants to get on with her life, she doesn’t want to take on the responsibilities of her past and her ancestors. She just wants to enjoy her first year at college and make new friends, and no matter often she sees glimpses of the fairy world, she is determined that they just don’t exist. As a YA character, she is going to be unruly and refuse to make the journey the genre demands of her.
Wootton has spared no expense imaginatively in constructing and peopling his fairy world, and both the environment and the characters are richly and engagingly drawn. Petra herself is a strong and sparky character, a typical teenager with an un-self-conscious voice which Wootton writes well. Sometimes a third person narrator can seem too knowing for a YA character, but Petra’s internal thoughts are believable and unforced. That narrator is kept busy too, leaping about between the different factions of the fairies in exile: Oberon and his loyal supporters and family, including the utterly devious Wormsworth, the fast fading Fairy Queen and her devoted Cat, Petra, her godfather Tod, and also an unusual character, a Professor Jack Wootton, an expert in all matters fairy. Like the fourth wall in cinema, it takes a certain amount of authorial nerve to blur the boundaries the writer establishes between fact and fiction, narrator and characters, reader and writer, and – without giving anything away – Professor Wootton’s part in the story is not a Hitchockian cliché or a moment of vanity.
For this reviewer, the book’s authentic and beautifully researched world is perhaps the source of its weakness: there are so many characters, so much fairy lore, that it can be hard for the casual reader or one who reads in short bursts to keep up with what is going on. A glossary and a family tree would not go amiss in the appendix, just to help the easily confused, though for those who like a complex genealogy and lore, the book will be a comfortable and enjoyable place to lose a few hours. It also suffers slightly from ‘first in the series’ syndrome: there is a huge amount of exposition, and there are lots of storylines and narrative threads to be set in motion, and so in action terms the book is pretty slow to get going and results in quite a cliffhanger, which some readers may find frustrating. Fortunately for them, Wootton is just about to release the second in the series, The Eighth Square.
To find out more about Evie Woolmore and her novels, visit her page. Evie is a reviewer for Awesome Indies, and you can find out more about her reviewing activities and read her other reviews of indie published books.
As we re-open the review list for indie authored books this week, allonymbooks author Evie Woolmore reflects on what she has learned so far about indie publishing from reviewing.
As a rule, I enjoy reading book reviews. I scan the pages of the main British newspapers two or three times a week, looking not only for the formal recommendations but also the reader-recommended novels. I read those little cards on the shelves in Waterstones written by their staff, and I read other book reviewers’ blogs. I even read The Economist‘s arts section to see which book they have allowed to rise to the top of the pile. If they are reviewing a fiction book, it’s usually interesting (if not good).
But do I ever read the books that are recommended by others?
That’s an obvious reason for reading a review, to get a recommendation. But let me give you the other reason I read reviews. Because they tell you so much about the reviewer too. Continue reading
A couple of weeks have passed since this year’s London Book Fair, time enough to process the experience and reflect on its significance to indie publishers. It was the first LBF since the establishment of allonymbooks, and judging from the number of people I met there, it was the first Fair many indie authors had attended. It was also, judging from the paucity of space allocated to the Author Lounge, the first time the Fair’s organisers had begun even to think properly about the impact that indie publishing is going to have on the larger publishing world. Nonetheless it was an interesting experience, not least for the opportunity to hear other indie authors speak, share experiences with peers, and see what organisations and services are out there to support the indie author/publisher.
It is impossible to do justice to the scale of the Fair, although anyone who has visited Earls Court Exhibition Centre before will have a sense of the sheer size of the place. Rows upon rows of exhibitors, from single one chair-tables and simple stands to entire blocks and half-blocks given over to publishing conglomerates. There is an unbelievable intensity about the event, not least in the atmosphere of perpetual drive-to-sell that infuses it, epitomised by the constant scurrying of Continue reading
One of the themes of Evie Woolmore’s novel Equilibrium is the breaking down of boundaries, particularly social ones. In the novel, whose Edwardian setting reflects the very great tension between the public and the private, not only does Martha masquerade publicly in very few clothes as an inviting spirit from the other world, but the spirits themselves abandon appropriate privacies to speak their secrets directly. More than one character ‘says something they shouldn’t’ and the blurring of upstairs and downstairs, the movement of protagonists between front of house and back and between class environments fragments the natural order, and the proper codes of behaviour.
In an era of social media, we are constantly examining and questioning what those codes are, and in a climate of free speech and the ubiquitous mobile phone, the concept of privacy seems increasingly fragile. We know the details of countless strangers’ private lives, we could see the Duchess of Cambridge’s baby bump if we chose, and we can watch Oscar Pistorius cry in court. But the column this week is going to discuss three instances of how fragmentation of definitions of ‘appropriate behaviour’ has impacted indie publishing.
Twitter is constantly under scrutiny for the role it plays in freedom of speech, but an aspect of it which has become Continue reading
The advent of ebooks and print on demand technology have revolutionised publishing. For the first time ever, it is relatively cheap and easy for anyone to publish a book. That is wonderful news for the authors with excellent stories who just missed out on getting a publishing deal. Such authors can now take their books directly to their readers, and if they have a professional attitude, get the help they need and follow the exact same steps as those taken by a traditional publishing house, their book can be as good as anything put out by a mainstream publisher.
In that scenario the reader gains access to many great books that they would never otherwise see, sometimes for no other Continue reading
In this week’s blog, Evie Woolmore discusses her decision to join Awesome Indies as a reviewer.
In the last blog of 2012, it was noted that I had exchanged one of my books, Equilibrium, for review with Tahlia Newland, author of Lethal Inheritance. It was an interesting experience, knowing that I was going to get a thoughtful review from someone who genuinely cared about providing an opinion – not unlike the editorial experiences I have had as an author, and that I have provided in my other professional lives. The blog suggested that the exchange aspect was not part of the rules of the new game, particularly not for the other reviewer. But it got me thinking.
What if – in this raw, still evolving world of indie publishing – I could consciously participate not in making rules as such, but in establishing a community of indie writers who – rather than waiting for print publishing reviewers to review our work – collectively contribute to establishing a strong, credible review culture of our own work that promotes quality.
Admittedly, there are some who will think that getting indie writers to review other indie writers is like asking British newspapers to regulate themselves. Pointless, and unlikely to contribute to a raising of standards. But that is to make a few assumptions that I think we can challenge.
1. Indie writers will always scratch each other’s backs, giving flattering reviews in exchange for flattering reviews. Yes, some people operate on that basis. Let’s not lie about it, let’s not pretend it isn’t true. Follow me, I’ll follow you; praise my book, I’ll praise yours. Even print-published writers have been going to extraordinary lengths to promote Continue reading
As part of our quest to promote allonymbooks‘ novels to a wider readership, and as part of engaging in The Guardian’s quest to find independently published books for review, this week’s blog surveys some of the organisations and websites which offer a quality review process. Definitions of quality in the review are naturally dependent on the quality of the reviewer as much as the book, and a review generally says as much about the person reviewing as it does the subject of the review. But in this context, a quality review process is independent, generates a review of reasonable length and depth, and has no requirement for payment in exchange. Like independent publishing itself, the review process is a work in progress, but here are some suggestions of good places to find reviews of independently published books. Rather than cover ground already covered for alternative and science fiction by Dan Holloway in his Guardian blog, here are some sites which focus on other genres.
The HNS has been in existence for around 15 years, having been set up initially in the hope of reviving interest in what was perceived at the time as a declining historical genre. The Society publishes a printed review magazine, The Historical Novels Review, and its website includes all its more recent print and online reviews, including an Indie section, which is expressly for ‘electronically-published, subsidy-published or self-published historical novels’ where ‘historical’ refers to a setting that is at least 50 years in the past. Reviews of indie books are made on the basis of selection by a dedicated editorial staff and their reviewers are drawn from their membership, of authors and readers of historical fiction. Submitting an indie book for review is very straightforward – fill out a form of information about the book, and await a response from the editorial team who will contact you if they want to review your book. The reviews Continue reading