Your next newsletter will arrive on January 28th, early Saturday morning, and it’s going to be a slightly larger one than usual but you’re free to skip to the parts that interest you. It will include some announcements, a summary on how my publishing plans have unfolded over the past so many months, and some reader freebies!
Alex James Novels is a partner member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI), and a vetted service provider for authors according to ALLI’s service watchdog desk. Joining ALLI has meant I can list my editing/proofreading business in its annual partner service directory, updated quarterly, and it opens up avenues for advertising in its magazines. I can set discounts on their website for author members alongside a range of publishing service providers – some freelance.
The great thing is that you can join as both a partner member and an author member, if necessary, which means I can take advantage of both memberships. I haven’t, as yet, made much use of my author membership. Have you thought about joining a membership organisation such as the Alliance of Independent Authors? If you have, what benefits has joining brought you?
I found Recursion at my library’s audiobook website. I thought the premise was interesting and that I’d give it a try. I listened to about half of it as an audiobook and I must say I loved Barry’s deep voice. Barry is a character in the book who lost his daughter, and separated from his wife. He works as an NYC cop, sometimes investigating ‘False Memory Syndrome’ (FMS). FMS started to be portrayed as something on the sidelines in the story but which Barry is soon forced to investigate head on. Helena is the other main character who came across as someone dedicated to scientific research, helping to build a chair (interesting …) to help her mum’s Alzheimers, yet she’s perhaps someone so buried in her work she doesn’t know what’s to come, and neither does the reader.
It was intriguing having both storylines side by side, and it was difficult deciding between them both. Sometimes I wanted Barry’s to continue and sometimes Helena’s, and so it was with minor criticism that the point of view switched too often.
I don’t want to say too much about what you can expect from Recursion since that will ruin it, but you’re looking at reading a story that is more than you first make it out to be – it’s more than something about to be investigated. As far as my 2022 reads go, it must be up there with my favourites for the impact it had on me and the way it gets your mind working in new ways.
Feeling isolated while building your author brand? You’re not alone! But the good news is that there are tons of awesome authors out there doing the same thing. That’s why I’m excited to invite you to an author meet ‘n’ greet on Zoom. Join from anywhere in the world and mingle with other authors in small breakout rooms. Choose from two different dates: Jan 16th at 8pm Eastern or Jan 23rd at 1:30pm Eastern, or attend both! I hope to see you there!
Explaining Humans draws parallels between the author’s conditions/diagnoses, such as autism and ADHD, and the author’s interest in science, in order to devise coping strategies for the real world, including better thinking patterns where relationships are concerned at the micro and macro level. Sometimes it was like reading a sociology or philosophy book, though I found the content to be interesting, relevant, and individualistic, which I liked.
I’d often think ‘Oh, that’s interesting’, ‘just like me or someone I know’, or something similar. One of the best parts, I felt, was the author’s sense of humour hanging onto the end of sentences. Explaining Humans had been what I was looking for where autism was concerned, and I took great pleasure reading the author’s past experiences and then growth beyond these.
I struggled to understand many of the science-based strategies and how they could be made relevant. In this way, the book was less helpful than I had hoped. It was something that I had fun reading in the present, with curiosity, but it’s not something that will stick with me beyond that.
If you’re looking for an autism/ADHD book, or a ‘lighter’ read for science enthusiasts, you can’t go wrong giving Explaining Humans a try. It may inspire you in different ways.
Sell Books With Collabs author giveaway: four winners and $947 value to spend on publishing services
What are your 2023 goals? There’s a chance you don’t know them all yet. And, remember, there’s no pressure to come up with New Year’s resolutions or ones that will be too big a step to accomplish. I’m going to remind myself of this as I step into the New Year. One thing I do know that I’ll be doing in January 2023 is that I’ll be a contributor of Sell Books With Collabs, a collaboration event for authors and author services to come together to help each other with promotion.
There’s a giveaway, and a few live meet and greets, before the event itself, which is on Jan 24th–Jan 27th. I’ll be providing more details in upcoming posts. If you’re an author interested in learning more, or if you know an author who may be, please take a read of the link below. More details shall follow, both through my newsletter and social media.
Note: spellings of characters and/or objects may be incorrect because audiobook was read.
Early Riser is a story that can trap your heart, especially if you listened to the audiobook as I did. It’s about new winter consul Charlie Worthing and his growing awareness of the political and survival realities of the winter, particularly Sector 12, in an alternative future Wales that read like a dystopian science fiction novel.
It’s not easy to pinpoint a single element that makes it so special. I loved the dialogue, accents, and narration that brought the personalities to life. Others’ judgemental view of Charlie Worthing was extremely humorous as he’s seen as a schoolboy in a grown-up job. What comes to my mind are his memories of him biting off someone’s ear who criticised his uneven face. The plot was fascinating, about dreams that drive people crazy in Sector 12 at a time when the ‘campaign for real sleep’ are seen, officially, as people whose dreaming has caused them to lose their mind in a world where the product Morphonox is used to suppress dreams to aid winter hibernation and stop ‘nightwalkers’.
There is a lot to take in, and the first several chapters may have your mind reeling with all the new terms and characters before you step into the story properly, which starts with the death of Logan who Charlie is blamed for because he was a novice and didn’t know what he was doing. The plot speaks for much of the science fiction terms. Campaign for real sleep is a political faction, dreamers are outcasts ‘hooked’ on the thought of dreaming to experience a better reality than the harsh winter, and nightwalkers have presumably lost their identities and roam about hoping to indulge in cannibalism. Hibertech is a suspicious corporation that redeploys these nightwalkers into employment, driving golf carts it seems.
When Charlie starts having his own dreams he knows he’s in trouble. Early Riser is one of my favourite science fiction stories of all time. It has streaks of originality in a fascinating and humorous plot where you can’t help but love the characters and the world. Extremely recommended!
Sleepwalkers by Felix Fife is a strongly relatable book, using masks to describe the way people in our world interact, motivated by deals, the latest technologies, and algorithms, while missing out on all the real right beside them, ignoring proper meals just to get ahead in the game without realising the world may be crumbling around them. Masks themselves were aptly used as an idea in Sleepwalkers: masking behaviour online to deny culpability in real life by engaging in virtual reality. People don’t need to act like their true selves because they can be anyone they want, giving them a façade, distorting perceptions of what’s real.
I became attached to the characters in Sleepwalkers and the rhythm of life in what-isn’t-exactly-an-everyday-bar in a quasi-futuristic setting where visitors come in with masks all the time, only talking about masks, and Kyro the bartender and chef isn’t interested, fighting a one-man cause against the world. Slowly, the worldbuilding, environment, and bigger picture unravels without being overwhelming – an error many debut science fiction novelists make.
I was interested where the author was taking Sleepwalkers. It went in revolutions, from the centre, building greater description and complexity with each new chapter, as if the author was unearthing the story. There was something subtle at play. I knew I wanted something drastic to happen to Kyro’s life, for the sake of reader enjoyment, and I wanted to know, when it did happen, whether this was going to be subtle or terrible.
I was confused about the terraces at first but, eventually, I was able to picture them; more description may have helped. Life’s rhythm is nice in the bar, however, sometimes it was repetitive, with Kyro fending off peer pressure about the masks, cooking a meal with Ayla’s help, experiencing the wolf maskers. I’d have preferred more POV action or a bumpier or faster pace in more scenes.
The dialogue was stiff, monotone. It worked for Kyro who was just doing his job and didn’t care any more about what others thought, but maybe didn’t work as well for his dialogue with everyone else. In long scenes, I was almost praying for a scene break.
Sleepwalkers had an intriguing premise, and was more than just an action-oriented page turner. From the blurb and the beginning more than just a sci-fi is promised. Did it deliver? Situations escalated. There were setbacks, and character growth. Worldbuilding expanded during the story’s course. The beginning captures reader interest, and it improves from there. What Sleepwalkers did deliver was a low-profile environment, a world in miniature, a bar that was a window into the world and its circumstances and struggles. And it delivered a rigid character, Kyro, who had to learn loosen up. It didn’t build momentum, and there wasn’t great synergy between the characters’ dialogue or sub characters. There was an innocent love interest going on between Kyro and his new chef Ayla, and this was interesting because it involved maskless Kyro and tested courage that we’d have expected him to already possess.
Sleepwalkers had a careful writing style, which was relatable and gave grounds for building the story and characters. But … read the last chapter and you’ll see immediately that author Felix Fife can do even better!