Friday, 27 May 2011

Guardian Book Blogs Mention!

Hi Bloggers,

I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was mentioned on the Guardian Books Blog as one of "The leading lights" in South African genre fiction. For the full post check out the link:

Thanks goes to Lauren Beukes for bringing the SA scene to international attention. And to Sarah Lotz, Louis Greenberg, Sally Partridge, Joan De La Haye, Lood Du Plessis, Jani Grey and Dave-Brendon De Burgh for being amazing friends and influences.

In other news. The Book Depository is running a 10% off sale this month. So you can get an extra 10% off my books. They have free delivery worldwide. Including to South Africa. All you have do is put May11 into the checkout coupon code box.

The Red Stone $11 with 10% off . Go to this link: The Red Stone
Zoolin Vale and the Chalice of Ringtar $11 with 10% off: Go to this link: Zoolin Vale and the Chalice of Ringtar

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Ten Book Reading Challenge: Update 2

Hi All,

Here's another update. I'm currently about 341 pages into all the books. Some of them I've read a little bit more so I can finish them and include them in this post. Will be including my entries from the previous posts to give you a better idea of what I think of the books. I've been a little short on some of the updates on the books I haven't finished yet, and want to leave my final thoughts until they're finished too.

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey:

Page 21: I'm enjoying this book so far. It's about renegade angel bounty hunter who likes to say the word "Ass" a LOT. I like Richard's take on vampires and his kick ass writing style, but can't help but feel there is something lacking. Hopefully the next 21 pages will fix that.

Page 190: I'm still on the fence about this book. As much as I like the story line, the narrative can get a little annoying from time to time. A lot of outlandish metaphors that don't really work. Although some of them do work and are quite funny. If the last 21 pages are anything to go by the 2nd half will be a lot more interesting than the first half.

Page 341: And I was right. The action has really picked up and I've grown accustom to the writing style. Might even be enjoying it.

The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt

Page 21: The royal family seems to be imprisoned in some sort of breeding program. There are clockwork machines that are more advanced than humans, and a prison full of criminally insane guarded by a vetren warden and a new recruit. A lot of threads to follow. Haven't really got a good feel of the book yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be pretty epic.

Page 190: I was right about it being epic. Hunt has really weaved a fine tale here. Not only do the characters feel real in their actions, but they all have their distinctive voices and characteristics. Not an easy thing to pull off. Now that the story has progressed nicely. We have a large mysterious force approaching the Kingdom of the Jackals, and their only way of stopping it is a crazy scheme imparted by a ex-slave to construct a massive instrument to strike their enemy at its heart. As with any good book it's going to go down to the wire.

Page 341: The more I read this book the more I'm entranced. And the twists and turns in the books have been truly suprising. It will be a book that will stick in my memory for a long time to come.

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

Page 21: As the sub-title says this is about the history of human kind. Why it has developed in the way it has. The book has raised some interesting questions so far and I look forward finding out more.

Page 190: Diamond has done a remarkable job putting this book together. It must have been a huge undertaking, and so far he has been painting a grand picture of how the human race has evolved into what we are today. And some of the stuff is really surprising. Like some fruits that were poisonous to us that through trial and error we were able to make harmless to us. Currently the book explaining why some animals were domesticated and others not. Did you know Egyptians used Cheetahs as hunting animals?

Page 341: The book is now focusing on how human populations evolved from tribes to states, and in why it happened in some places and others not. In some cases not much difference at all can make the difference from a people staying stuck in the stone age and another developing modern techonolgy.

Extras by Scott Westerfield

Page 21: A YA novel set in a future where your face rank is just about the most important thing there is. The higher your rank the more important you are. The story is about girl with a measly rank of 451,369 and how she tries to get in with the in crowd. With the popularity of Facebook. It doesn't seem that far fetched. The book has a lot of energy and definitely one of my favourites of the 10 so far

Page 190: This book has been an enjoyable and light read so far. I think a perfect example of what a YA book should be. It has a main character you know is making some unwise choices, but you know if you were that age you would most probably do the same. And tons of adventure to keep you turning those pages. If I had been reading this book on its own I would have been finished in a day or so.

Page 341: Aya's quest for fame has really turned her life up side down and made her face truths about herself she didn't even know about. Nearing the end of the book. The pace has really picked up and each 21 page jumps feels like a mad dash.

Perseus Spur by Julian May (The Rampart Worlds Book One)

Page 21: I've had this trilogy of books for a long time and been looking forward to reading them for quite a while. The first book hasn't disappointed so far. A down on his luck ex-government official who was targeted for exposing corruption has fled to a far out of reach distant world. After washing away his sorrows and almost drinking himself to death he was helped back on his feet with some assitence from his sister. All goes well until a suspicious character shows up on one of his charter trips to the local reefs. And his suspicions are heightened when he returns home to find out his house had been eat by a giant sea toad...

Page 190: This is turning out to be one tangled web of a story, but that's one of the reasons why I'm enjoying it. Not that it's hard to figure out what is going on, but there are plenty of layers and there's bound to be some surprises as the story progresses. Now that Helmut has been drawn into his past life he has to do his best to figure out who is trying to tear his family and family business apart. And what makes it interesting is he's not pulling any punches and is not afraid to do what needs to be done.

Page 336: (Completed): Some will most probably disagree, but I think this is Sc-Fi adventure at its best. A serious plot line, but a load of fun at the same time. I loved the finale of the story. And look forward to reading the next in the series.

Ruler of the Realm by Herbie Brennan (Book 3 of the Faerie Wars Series)

Page 21: Got this set of books for Christmas a few years back. Been enjoying them immensely ever since. In my honest opinion one of the best/if not the best real world/fairy world crossover books ever. Being YA novels Herbie Brennan has spared none of the gory details and tries to gross you out at almost every turn. And being books full of magic/strange creatures he has done a fine job of keeping it realistic. Being the third book it is hard to say much with out spoilers. So I will say it is on par with the rest of the books and bound to make me want to read more

Page 190: Maybe the first two books were too good, but this book doesn't seemed to have grabbed my attention as much as the first two did. Although it's still great to see what the characters are up to and how they're adapting to their new roles. Still a lot of book to go so plenty of time for things to improve. That being said it's still a great book and well worth reading.

Page 341: Things have turned for the better. The story has picked up again and it has captured my attention again. The characters of the book are facing their biggest challenge yet, and it will be interesting to see how it will pan out!

Bone Gods by Caitlin Kittredge

Page 21: Won this book with Kill the Dead through Twitter the end of last year. From the cover it seems like a Twilight clone, but I will tell you now it is far better than the Twilight series could ever hope to be. I could spend all day bashing Twilight, but we both have better things to do, and a lot of people like the books and I can't blame them for that. Plus I haven't read the books so I had better shut up :P. Back to the book. There has been a strange occult murder and Pete (Petunia) has been called into help investigate. What I like the book so far is the dark sense of humour and the noir feel to it. Like Richard, Caitlin has a favourite word and that word is "Shite". I don't know how much time Caitlin has spent in the UK, but she does a pretty good job of reproducing the accents and mannerisms.

Page 190: Maybe I'm just not used to reading books with overly strong female characters, but the main character Pete is just a little too sure of herself. Like if she was a man she would be a cross between Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. Not that she's particularly tough and can take on a room full of bad guys, but that she's always right and everyone else is wrong. And everyone is either a dick, asshole... and so on so forth. And the swearing. It's a bit over the top and the words become useless. I think they should be used like weapons and only used when needed. The story itself is pretty good. And I can feel the story picking up pace. I think it will be quite enjoyable overall.

Page 352: (Completed): The last bit of the novel really made up for the rest of it. It was stark, dark and barren. I really got a feel of the world. Overall I think Caitlin did a remarkable job, and you wouldn't go wrong reading this book. Especially if you're an urban fanasy/paranormal romance fan.

Mussolini's Island by John Follian

Page 21: This is the first Military History novel I've read. The writing style is very straight forward, but still does a very good job of putting me in the heads of the people involved.

Page 190: Definitely one of my favourites of the 10. I haven't read much WWII fiction before but this story has really brought to life what it meant to be on the front lines. And it may seem like soldiers are just drones in movies etc but they're real people too and most of them wouldn't want to be a part of it if they had a choice. And by some of the scenes it really shows you that truth is stranger than fiction and a hell of a lot scarier.

Page 350 (completed): After readin this book you really get a good feel of horrible war really is, and what people had to go through to survive. If they were lucky enough to do so. I think everyone should have to read books like this to convince them that war is never a solution. History lessons at school just don't give you the same indepth book feel like this book does. Overall a very well researched book and recommended to war buffs and regular readers too. Especially regular readers.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

Page 21: One of the masterpieces of the fantasy genre. Oddly, I'm finding it hard to get into the book. Maybe it's the writing style. I found I had to re-read quite a few paragraphs to actually figure out what was going on, but I'm sure with time I will get used to it and pick up a good rhythm. I'm guessing at page 42, just when I have to switch over to the next book.

Page 190: The more I read this book the more I love it. Reminds me of Jack Vance's writing style. Realistic and has twists and turns you wouldn't expect in a run of a mill story. And I can see why this series is seen as one of the masterpieces. And not just genre fiction, I think it should be right there with the best of the best of so called literature.

Page 303 (Completed): After reading the entire book I stand by what I say, and I think genre fans and none genre fans should all read this collection of books at least once. Now onto to the 2nd book!

Friday, 20 May 2011

My attempt at an Audio Book sample

A couple of weeks ago I got the idea to record an audio sample of The Red Stone. Was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Have had pretty good reactions so far, if you have a chance, give it a listen and let me know what you think :)

Part A

Part B

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Guest Blog: Interview with Mr Motivator Fred Felton

I recently connected with Fred Felton via Twitter. And soon discovered he's very talented and friendly guy. Fred suggested we do a crossover interview and I thought it was an excellent idea!

Here we go:

Fred is based in Umhlanga and does everything from acting to being a life coach.

1. From reading your Twitter bio it seems like you hardly have time to
breathe! How do you keep a top of everything?

Ryan Seacrest is my hero ha ha ha. No but seriously if you take a look at his bio he seems to do more than anyone on the planet and he even wants to do more.
I find that time management helps. I tend to work late long hours but hey I love it. I like to suck the marrow out of life and no surprise that Dead Poets Society is one of my favourite movies. Sometimes I can't do everything I want to do but I always try to do the most important things that matter.

2. Which career do you enjoy the most?

Ouch that's like asking a writer which is his favourite book he wrote. I guess writing, voice over / acting and motivational talks would be my top. However I love
doing social media marketing as well. It's wonderful taking on a character and pretending to be someone else and creating a character. Writing takes you to places you never knew existed in your mind so that's also so much fun.

3. Do you have any tips for people wanting to break into voice acting?

First I would suggest you watch some of the best actors with great voices, Richard Burton comes to mind, John Malkovich, Marius Weyers are just some of them.
Then take yourself off to a good university or technikon and get a degree or diploma in drama or acting. You will get some good training in voice and acting and the trick is to keep practicing your voice daily. It's rumoured the great actor John Gielgud practiced his voice daily. Practice it in the car or whenever you have free time. Record a good demo and send it everywhere from radio staions to tv stations and even good agents. The website can also help you. These days with social networking sites you can use twitter, facebook, linkedin and youtube to get your brand out there and market it all the time.

4. Being a voice over artist, I'm sure you have a voice that can melt
a lady's heart?

Ah Craig, I have them lining up ha ha. I might have a good voice but this voice takes practice and if you stop practicing you will find that your good voice disappears very quickly. It's a profession and you have to be very professional about it.

5. What kind of books do you like to read?

I'm addicted to all books by Stephen King. I consider his Dark Tower series one of the best. W Somerset Maugham has also written some wonderful Short Story volumes.
Then there are some excellent philosophical books by Ayn Rand like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

6. Describe a typical weekend:

I like to take some time off from the rat race and disappear into new coffee shops or places like Essenwood Market or Westwood Mall or many of the other wonderful places in the Durban area. Valley of 1000 hills is also fantastic as is the North Coast, places like Ballito.

7. Tell us more about the books you have up on Amazon? Are they
available locally?

100 Motivational Tips is a motivational book for people to get them motivated each day and keep them motivated throughout the year.
100 Motivational Tips for Small Business has been specially designed for small business owners to keep them going and keep their business going.
It also helps inspire them to new idea's for their business.
100 Acting Tips has been specially designed for actors and students of voice and acting. It features tips to keep them going and is full of acting tips and exercises.
It features an introduction by legendary acting coach James P. Parker.

My books are exclusively available as an e-book however my new book might be published in the old format. Ha ha that sounds funny.

A link to my books on Amazon is available here:

8. I see you do motivational speaking too. Any tips for people like
myself who find it hard to speak in front of crowds?

I've watched a great many motivational speakers and all it is really is having something interesting to say. Make sure you are not boring.
I suggest you watch many of the TED talks which are available online and you will see some fascinating speakers.
Make sure you keep your listeners interested in what you have to say.
Have notes if you need them. Be relaxed and practice your voice just before you do the talk. The day before do a rehearsal and you will find when you do the talk it will be much easier for you. It always helps to take a deep breath before you begin. Remember those people have paid to come and hear you so they want to hear what you have to say so make the speech enjoyable. Practice, practice, practice even if you do it in front of a mirror. Maybe even rope in some friends to hear you speak and listen to what they have to say. You learn a lot.

9. Are you working on any new and exciting projects?
Funny you should ask, yes I am. At the moment I am busy with a new book which is a mixture of poetry, short stories and photography. Look out for it soon.
I've always wanted to do a mix of these formats and finally I can put it together. I am also launching a online magazine which is also fun.

10.Lastly, if you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
Egypt. I have always wanted to see the pyramids and the sphinx in real life and see what they are like. Egypt always fascinates me and I would love to explore it.

If you want to keep up with Fred's activities like I do here are a few links you can check out:

Fred's Amazon Link

Fred's Twitter Profile

Fred's Blog

Falcon's Cove Gift Shop

Book Covers:

100 Motivational Tips For Small Business

100 Motivational Tips

100 Acting Tips

And if you want to check out my interview on Fred's Blog you can go here :)