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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: The Time Machine


Note: The Time Machine has been out for so long and is a proven classic, so I figure if you are reading this review you aren't interested in whether you should read it or not so much as my personal take on it, because if you want to know if you should read it or not, the answer is probably, "Sure. It's a classic." It might even be required for school or something.

Because of that, I have no real bones about spoiling things and will be talking about major plot points and conclusions and all that good stuff.

If you've been on the fence about reading it, the story is now public domain, and you can get free digital downloads of it from legitimate sources (for instance from Amazon here.). Or it's probably in your local library. The version I read was a discarded paperback from my library's used book shelf. It is a short book. It's a classic scifi and the "conceits" of it are worth exploring.

The Time Machine


So, that said ... here is my review. 


For skill, imagination, etc, this would probably be a 4 or a 5 star book, but it gets a personal preference rating of 3.

First off, the beginning section of this is really dry. It takes a long time to get to the actual time traveling considering how short of story it is. I put it down several times to read other things ... I got through the first few chapters a few pages at a time over a course of months.

Probably some of the drive to read it was destroyed because I'd had the major plot points told to me by Gary Sinise (not personally. I wish Gary Sinise and I sat around and talked classic scifi, but sigh, that is not to be. There's a part where his character in a movie gives a break down of it. Ransom, I think. It's been a while, but I have a weird affinity for Gary Sinise even when he's playing the bad guy. I know. It's odd.).

Honestly, I can't remember the last time someone wrote a character who was so unlikeable to me that I read the whole book looking forward to him getting himself into a fix which would force him to learn some humility.

SPOILER ALERT

That doesn't really happen ... yeah, there's some lip service to "oh how mistaken I was..." but the guy doesn't change much and the most satisfaction you get is that no one believes him, but he doesn't seem to care because really he only cares about himself and his intellectual pursuits. If you think yourself the superior specimen, the acknowledgement of others isn't needed.

You can sum up this plot as "guy goes forward in time, make assumptions that get him in trouble, thinks of a "brilliant" plan to fix things, drags along a helpless being who trusts him fully, doesn't do much to protect her, gets her killed (presumably? He doesn't definitely see her corpse, but it's a conclusion he makes), escapes because he makes mistakes which actually work out for him, gets away, feels sad about it, but continues to travel in time with some wistful thoughts about the girl he got killed.

That said, there is amazing artistry and imagination that puts together a world that makes logical sense while still being fantastic.

Also, H. G. Wells really liked the word "incontinently."

Download the eBook free or purchase the Paperback via Amazon

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Brian Wilkerson

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
A crash of thunder! A puff of smoke! Our next author appears! It's Brian Wilkerson!


Author bio:

“I grew up playing Final Fantasy and watching Power Rangers. Then one day I sat down to watch a programing block called "Toonami" and my life was never the same. This is not hyperbole. It exposed me to Anime and later inspired me to write my first fanfic. This led to publishing my fanfiction on internet archives. One night I thought, "I'll write my own story from scratch. I'll be a published author." The next day I began the first chapter of what would become my debut novel, "A Mage's Power". In addition to novel writing, I've been practicing Tae Known Do since I was five and earned a first degree black belt in 2004. I started learning t'ai chi ch'uan in 2016. I also have bachelor degrees in English Literature and World History with a focus on the Classical Mediterranean.”

The Interview!

If you had a store, what would you sell? Books, energy drinks and cheerios. My targeted customer should be obvious.
Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks. Constantly focus and write faster!!
Did you bring me anything? A jar of mixed nuts with sea salt.
Vs movies seem to be all the rage. If you had to put one together, what on screen match up would you like to see? Ralph and Vanellope (Wreck it Ralph) vs Kenpachi Zaraki and Yachiru Kusajishi (Bleach), but it has to be in a racing game.
Write me some Vogon Poetry (for those not in the know, Vogon poetry is so awful you’ll want to rip your ears off and eat them. It’s considered a method of torture in many corners of the galaxy. So give us your worst). Blithly, blithly barg, Toni Tuni, targ, Twist the sound and mangle the cranberry Luki, looki, larg, Wiki, wonki, warg, Skip the apples and smash the stationary.
Can you simply walk into Mordor? If I had more than 10,000 men, then I would give it a try.
Favorite flavor (of what? EVERYTHING!)? Chocolate and peanut butter
What method do you suggest for dealing with dragons? It depends on the kind of dragon. You can't expect me to fight a European dragon with the same tools as an Asian dragon. There are many breeds and all of them have their unique methods of killing and being killed. Fighting Smaug is different from fighting Shinron. For the former you need keen eyes to spot a weak spot in his scales and a sharp weapon to pierce it and for the later it is recommended to use ki blasts and be as powerful as Demon King Piccolo.
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it? The question "Where does all my time go?" and the answer would be "doing a mixture of planned and random things".

Twitter Author handle: BWNovelist

Friday, October 13, 2017

Clean Fantasy Book Funnel Promo


Do you like to read fantasy but aren't so fond of explicit material and constant f-bombs? Check out our awesome selection of free titles!

Click HERE to browse and download

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to Own Your Social Media & Have Fun Doing It

How to Own Your Social Media -- and have fun doing it!


For the average person, social media is "fun," or at the very least a time-waster. Something they do in their leisure time, while waiting in lines, on coffee breaks, instead of talking to the person across from them at the restaurant ... (you know who you are). 
For a lot of authors, though (and I'm sure other creative/self-employed folks), social media swiftly becomes work as they feel they have to post so their followers know they are there, are aware of their new releases ... a lot of authors absolutely loathe this part of modern marketing. They feel it comes across as bragging. They worry they aren't interesting enough. Keeping up with so many social media platforms can swiftly become confusing and overwhelming. It's not longer play. It's work.

So what do you do about it if you are burned out author who knows they need to interact with their readers on social media but absolutely can't stand doing another post?


STOP THE MADNESS!


Social media should be fun! It should be the thing you do to chill out/relax/decompress. That's what every sane (read "non-author") person does with it (well, except for the ones who go online to argue about politics, I guess ... and the drama queens ... and ... never mind, I stand by it, SANE people go on social media for fun.).

So if maintaining your author social media has become a grind, but you still feel obligated to keep up a regular posting schedule, what can you do?


Here are some easy things you can do to provide easy content that readers will love and which you might even enjoy posting.


Disclaimer: not everything on this list will fit every author or author platform. However, I have tried to provide a wide variety of adaptable options, so I have a hard time believing none of this will work. Don't feel you have to do all of it, and none of this is a "you must follow these ten easy steps." It's a flexible format which you should adapt to your personal taste and the tastes of your readers.

That said: let's begin.


Trick One: Make Mine Music!

Now I know a few talented authors who take this to a creative extreme: composing music related to their work, going "live" on Facebook playing instruments, posting youtube videos of them singing ... but even if you aren't gifted musically, if you are a consumer of music, you can use this to connect to your readers.
1. Create playlists for books. If you listen to music while you write, you may already have these set up. Share them!
2. If a song inspires you or something in your story, share it with an explanation!
3. Do your favorite characters have favorite songs? Share that. 


Trick Two: Arts and Crafts


Similarly to music, some authors will have an edge up on this. If you paint, crochet, knit, sculpt, do paper cutting ... anything artsy, readers will love this, as long as it is related in theme or content to your books. So yeah, if you are a romance author with cute books with loving couples and long romantic walks on the beach but you also really like to draw skeletons and monsters in your spare time, not a great mix ... but if you are a romance author who likes to draw beach scenes, flowers, candle light dinners ... or a horror writer who can draw skeletons ... you've got an in. 

I crochet things. One of my characters has a pet fox, so I crocheted a fox. My readers loved it. A lot of them entered a giveaway to win it. Yay, fox!


But again, if you aren't a creator of art, you may be a consumer of art. 

Etsy is a great place to browse for creative content that fits your brand. When you find something you like on Etsy (let's say a beautiful custom wedding ring, a ceramic dragon, a period cosplay gown), save an image to your computer and copy paste the link. I suggest uploading the image to social media and then including the link in the body of the text (because sometimes the platform won't pull the image reliably from the link, and you want that "eye candy.") but do make sure to link back and give proper credit. The creators like this because you might get them potential sales ... your readers like this because you're showing them something cool.

I often do this with my #DailyDragon feature on my Facebook page. I go crazy favoriting all the dragon stuff for sale on Etsy and will sometimes have posts scheduled weeks in advance because I don't want to bury my followers in a landslide of dragon jewelry, dragon paintings, dragon toys, dragon statues (you get the idea...) ... 

Related to this is ...


Trick Three: Shopping!


A lot of us love online shopping, and while I personally like to support small business owners on Etsy, sometimes there is something so cool for sale on one of the big sites that is just perfect for my brand. So if I see something on Amazon I like that I think my readers will like or that relates in some way to my book, I share it. If I am walking around a store and I notice something on a shelf that works for my brand, I snap a pic and up it goes on Instagram. 

I know a LOT of people who use online shopping to blow off steam. Kill two birds with one stone, and share the experience with your readers. 


Trick Four: Follow Other Content Creators


If you see a Facebook page that reliably shares original artwork/photography in an ethical way (try to hang out for a while and make sure they aren't stealing things and claiming the work of others as their own), follow them and share things from their pages. Most of the time, they put it on Facebook publicly hoping it will go viral, so as long as you are sharing from their page (with a link back and proper credit), they'll like that, and it's easy content for you. 

Trick Five: Hashtag Games


Twitter can be a particularly confusing one because of the strict character limit and the quick fire nature. Things slip down the feed in an eye blink and more notifications pile down to take their place. 
Maybe you want to get started, but don't know what to do.
Hashtag games provide an easy way to "play along" and get notice from other people following the hashtag. Bethany A. Jennings at The Simmering Mind runs one called "WIPJoy" (Work In Progress Joys) devoted to sharing about what you're writing. 


#1lineWed encourages you to share a line from your book on a given theme on Wednesday.
#ThemeThursday asks you to recommend books based on a theme assigned every Thursday. 
#1randomques is a Friday prompt which asks a funny or thought provoking question you can answer on behalf of your characters.
There are probably thousands of these games going on at any given time on Twitter. If you hang out with Twitter active writers, you'll probably find some (#AuthorConfessions is one a lot of my writer buddies do). Pick one that seems like fun and just take a moment every day to reply, then check the hashtag and see who else is playing and what they are saying. 


Trick Six: Book Reviews


This is a tricky one, but if the social media you are having a hard time nurturing is a blog, then this can work for a few easy posts (assuming you are a reader as well as a writer) and can be a way to "give back" to other writers as well. 
If you are already in the habit of leaving reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, consider sticking them on your blog or social media as well. 
If you are into brevity, post a short review of the book on Twitter. A friend and fellow writer K. M. Carroll recently did a fun feature called "23 Books Reviewed in a Minute or Less." Most of her one minute reviews would fit into a tweet. 

Some potential pitfalls: while I've talked about why I don't think leaving a negative review generally is a 'no no', you probably don't want to get a reputation as one of "those" reviewers in writer circles. It can seem kind of snarky if you are talking down other writers, and it can lead to inevitable comparisons between your work and theirs, fair or not. 

So you may choose to focus on positive reviews, books you did like and think are a good fit for your readership, sort of a "if you liked my books, you might also like ..." 


This can also sharpen your "also bought" section on your Amazon page which can help you reach the right readers. 

On a related note: I recently found out that if you are reading on the Kindle Ap, you can highlight and share quotes directly to social media. So if you're reading a book and want to share snippets on twitter or Facebook, it's really easy. 


Trick Seven: Research and Inspiration


This one also falls into "you might be doing this anyway, so you might as well share it." Do you collect images that inspire you? Pictures of actors/models who you use as references for your characters' appearance? 

Do you research anything interesting for your work? 

That's all great stuff to share, whether about something you are currently working on or something you are about to release. 

So those are seven easy things to do to get some social media buzz going ... none of them involve bragging. Most can be incorporated into your leisure time. 

There are a LOT of other things you can do. I might make another post on it someday, but these are some of my favorite.

What about you? What sort of things do you like to share on social media? What kind of things do you like to see on pages you follow? 


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Jeremy Rodden

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
The Bat-Mobile zoooooooooooms into the post. The door opens and in a cloud of fog, our next author emerges. Who is beneath the cowl? It's JEREMY RODDEN!

Jeremy Rodden

Author Biography
Jeremy Rodden considers himself a dad first and an author second. He is the author of the middle grade/young adult Toonopolis series of books that take place in his cartoon universe. He also edited, contributed to, and published The Myth of Mr. Mom, a non-fiction series of essays by stay-at-home dads. He can be found at his author/review blog (www.toonopolis.com) or on Twitter @toonopolis.


What's in the box? What box? How should I know!? You're the one standing there with an imaginary box! My general response to this question is Brad Pitt's wife's head, but that would be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen the movie Seven. Let's just go with a more modern pop culture reference and say it's a Mr. Meeseeks. Look at me!
You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them? Time stopping. As a stay-at-home dad and a writer, that would be the best thing for me to have. Stop time. Clean house. Stop time. Write more. Stop time... take a nap? OMG. Can I please have these powers so I can take a nap?
I know exercise is good for me, but it is not entertaining. What methods do you suggest for making workouts more fun? Fun? Do it with a friend. My biggest successes in exercising were when I had a workout partner. I've gotta get back to exercising since my youngest is over 2 years old now.
What is your ideal writing space? A controlled environment with no noises that I'm not creating. Ideally, this is in my office with music playing (I listen to a lot of instrumental stuff when I write). Current playlist includes a heavy dose of Lindsey Stirling (hip-hop violinist) and Nightwish (Finnish symphonic metal). Of course, this also requires my children be either sleeping or away somewhere, which is the hardest part. I can't do the "write in Starbucks" deal, but I have written on my laptop at children's birthday parties or on my iPhone in the car line waiting for my children to get out of school. Whatever works!
You can time travel in an oddly specific way that only allows you to visit other authors. Where do you go and what do you do? Man, that's tough. I would fear being disappointed by meeting my heroes like Lewis Carroll or Douglas Adams. They may not be nearly as cool as their works (especially the former, who was a mathematician). I'd probably try to find a way to hang out with Neil Gaiman. Maybe join him on his travels across the United States while he was researching and writing American Gods. That would be a fun party.
Give yourself a totally new look, as dramatic as you want. What is it? I've already done that and I'm happy with the results. Several years ago I was out of shape and put on a bunch of "stay at home parent" weight. I began working out and changed my body (look more like a former football player than a former English teacher now). In March, I began shaving my head for the first time and the response to shaved head/full beard has been overwhelmingly positive. I'm happy with how I look now (minus the aforementioned need to get back to working out since my youngest was born).
Tree House or Cave? And why? Tree house. I've always loved climbing trees. I used to sit in trees and read when I was in college (until campus security yelled at me). I prefer the freedom and vision of being high up in a tree to the closed in darkness of a cave.
Nic Cage: Mad man or misunderstood genius? Why not both?
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it? Would you like to take a nap? Yes. Yes I would.

Connect with the Author:




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Steampunk and Dragons? Yes, please!

Join me at the party tonight

Lawless


The salvation of humans and dragons lies within a convicted murderer.

Dragonshifter Kesia Ironfire has one goal—to redeem her past by serving the cruel dragon Pinnacle as a soldier in the dragon-human war.

Then a rogue mission to spy on a new airship explodes into sickening green smoke. The same mysterious green smoke that was present the night of Kesia’s crime. When her dragon overlords deny any involvement, she and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker try to investigate--and are sentenced to death.

Still searching for answers, Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper has been furloughed after the destruction of his airship. Eager to discover what--and who--blew up his vessel, he agrees to help Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be his betrothed so Shance can escape an arranged marriage. If only she knew what ‘betrothed’ and ‘arranged marriage’ meant.

But human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets surface as Kesia delves deeper--secrets that challenge the facts of her crime and undermine the war itself.

A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of snark and quirky romance.




Full disclosure: 

I'm kind of entwined with this book/author. 
I'm guest hosting at the Facebook party tonight (click HERE), she has a short story in the Hall of Heroes anthology, which I administrate, and my book  Coiled  is through the same press as Lawless


However ... it has dragons and Steampunk which are things I like. I like the things. Therefore, I am telling you about the things. 

A post shared by H.L. Burke (@burkesdragons) on



This book is a lot like if you combined my Dragon and the Scholar series with my Nyssa Glass series with my Spellsmith and Carver series, so if you like any or all of those, you'll love Lawless.

But don't take my word for it. Click HERE and download a sample from Amazon.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Random Interview Saturday! Jane Lebak

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
Our next author shows up carrying fairy wings and a set of oven mitts. Hopefully we'll find out why soon ... it's JANE LEBAK!

Jane Lebak

Author Biography


Jane Lebak writes books and knits socks. The socks go on your feet and the books go into your head.



The Interview

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A chuckton.
 
You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?
 I can already read minds in real life, so I think I need telekinesis so I can a) become Phoenix and b) answer the phone without getting off the couch.
 
I know exercise is good for me, but it is not entertaining. What methods do you suggest for making workouts more fun?
Buy a set of wings on sale after Halloween and wear them over your running gear. Whenever you pass someone on the street, hand them a push pin from a small sack you have tied to your waist. "I am the Push Pin Fairy," you can say, "here to remind you that life is a corkboard." Also fun: finding new neighborhoods to run in after the police stop by to have a chat. 
 
Your life is being made into a movie. Who plays you? Who plays your love interest? (or who plays your arch-enemy?)
 I don't watch enough to really know anything about anyone. Karen Gillan could play me. I don't have an arch-enemy in real life, so we'll have to invent a really awesome one instead. How about Ultron? Sometimes I feel like we're all battling Ultron. 
 
Did you bring me anything?
I found this awesome recipe for cooking a turkey on the engine block of your car while you're driving to your great-aunt's in Pensacola for Thanksgiving. I'll toss you the car keys and you can go get it for me, okay? Bring oven mitts. 

Vs movies seem to be all the rage. If you had to put one together, what on screen match up would you like to see?
Guardians of the Galaxy versus Doctor Who, but only for the one-liners delivered at blazing speeds. Can you imagine the Doctor trading jabs with Rocket? And I know the TARDIS would get along fabulously with Groot. 

If you had to write only in one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Every single crayon of the thousands in this house is shattered except for the colors no one wants, so probably mauve. The teal one is about a centimeter long and is broken on a bias, otherwise I'd choose that. 

What film era do you feel best represents your day to day life? 
I think the 70s Disaster Films work best with my life. You know: Poseidon Adventure, Airport, Towering Inferno, Horror At 37,000 Feet. That era. Lots of drama, a cast of familiar faces, low-budget, and not much you can remember afterward.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Q: Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
A: Yes.


Connect with the Author