Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Isolation by Denise R. Stephenson


Publisher: Mill City Press (April 15, 2014)Category: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Political Thriller, Medical ThrillerISBN: 13: 978-1-62652-760-7Tour Dates: June 15-July 30, 2014Available in: Print and ebook, 383 Pages

Isolation depicts a bleak but recognizable future in which the fear of contagion reaches a fever pitch as a bacterial epidemic catapults the US into an apocalyptic crisis.
Touch is outlawed. Mothers like Maggie bind their infants' hands, terrified they might slip fingers into mouths. Gary, a Sterilizer, uses robots to scour the infected, avoiding all contact with human flesh. Trevor, the Chief Enforcer, watches, eager to report any and all infractions.
One inadvertent touch will change all of their lives.

My review:  

As a novel Isolation would be a good read for someone who likes to put down a book and come back later.  If you are a reader that prefers those types of novels this would be well received as new stories always started up.  The issue I had for myself was that it seemed like about ten different short stories that were all left so open ended that when I was wanting closure it was not there.  I would get involved in the very detailed world and characters, and the next chapter would skip 10 years ahead with a small side note at what had happened with a new ban or something or that sort.  As a reader who loves to get immersed in the book I read and who loves not wanting to put a book down, I found this a bit confusing so I would need that break to fully grasp what happened or I felt as though I missed something.

 However, the topic itself is very entertaining and likely could be our future.  It left me feeling very anxious of the apocalyptic reality this book seemed to portray as coming while using real situations on today's news like GMOs and hand sanitizers everywhere.   Although a scary topic, it is one that appears as if it can be our reality, sooner than later.

I do recommend getting a copy for yourself as the topic of the book is interesting and appears as well researched!

About the Author: Denise R. Stephenson 


a Rafflecopter giveaway Views expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in anyway. I was supplied a book for review purposes and not financially compensated in anyway.  

Getting to know the Author of Isolation: Denise R. Stephenson

How to Make Your Characters Believable

It’s all about the little things. Like a pat of butter. You know the kind. The tiny gold-
wrapped pat of butter you get in any mid-range restaurant in America. It's a single 
serving, or maybe a single ounce of butter. Sometimes it smooshes as you open it, 
liquefied butter oozing out. Other times it's cold and hard and smooshes your bread 

But when it's perfect, when the foil-lined paper pulls back easily and a third of the
pat slices cleanly away from the rest and then spreads smoothly onto the slice of
baguette, I delight in that butter. The delight is not only the sweet, salty, richness,
but also the apportionment. It's not that I'm attentive to having only one serving.
Rarely is it that. Rather, I like taking a little at a time and knowing there's more. It's
something I've done since childhood. It's not an OCD thing. I don't have to do it. But
there's some weird pleasure I derive from eating a favored food in small bits.

Now that I've revealed more than I ever should have about my inner workings, let
me point out that the smallest of details are key to believable characters. It's not that
they must teeter on the edge of pathology, though the intriguing ones sometimes
do, especially the antagonists. No, it's that the attention to human detail is crucial to
creating characters that aren't cardboard cutouts serving a plot.

It's possible to observe such detail in ourselves or in others. In private or in public.
It's possible to do this with intention, collecting tidbits of lives lived to place in

For me, it's been an accumulation. I've been observing as long as I can remember.
And evidently, remember I do. I've never kept these observations in a notebook. I
haven't catalogued them or arranged which ones go together. Yet when I'm writing,
I find that each character appears not just in actions, but in the delight of a pat of
butter, or the delicate balance of a favored long-stemmed wine glass, or even in a
preference to buy double-washed, bagged baby spinach.

As I wrote Isolation, characters appeared to me. No, that’s not it, I didn’t see them.
Rather, I imagined something done and then followed the one who done it. One of
the earliest examples was a character who had just become vegetarian. He wanted
the ingredients for a salad, most of which he found in the organic section of a co-
op. But when he went to select the spinach, it had large leaves which folded back
on themselves clutching dirt within dark green pockets. He wasn’t willing to wash,
rewash, and chop such leaves. He knew he wouldn’t be able to make that into a habit
after long days at work. So he went for the baby spinach in a bag, certain of its safety
since it was double-washed.

A detail drawn from my research was that the washing of pre-packaged vegetables
can introduce E. Coli contamination. But the details of how this man would purchase
and prepare his salad was filled with the details of human observation.

You won’t find this character in Isolation. He made it to the next-to-final draft with
his name changed and his story reduced. Then he was cut from the line-up, his
story too much like that of another, and less compelling in its slowness. He was a
believable character, maybe too much so, his life too droll for the speed needed to
keep readers reading.

So, there are believable characters and interesting ones. The characters we want in
good fiction must be both.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Getting to Know the Author of The Infinity Program

If you have not had a chance yet be sure to check out the review for The Infinity Program that is on the blog today!   I thought it would be great to learn a bit more about the author himself, Richard H. Hardy.  Check out his guest post today about selling his first novel!

Selling a First Novel

My first published novel was not really my first novel. Over the years I had made about a dozen
attempts but something always seemed to go wrong. I would write a hundred pages or so and
then just run out of steam. I would lose enthusiasm or would find that I had painted myself into
a corner. Or I would get near that perilous mid-point and be stymied when I saw the possible
directions of the story branch out into infinity.

Finally, back in the 1990s, I completed a novel. Since I was working full time in the IT field,
I used vacation time and holidays as I struggled to produce a masterpiece. I was determined to
create that mythical beast, “The Great American Novel”.

When I finished it, I soon realized that I had not written a great novel. In fact, it wasn’t even a
good novel. While the prose was adequate, the characters were not. The main POV character
was a passive victim of a storyline that was nothing more than a collection of incidents. I had
pursued the great white whale but had ended up with a white elephant.

But the failed novel helped me move forward. I had finally written an entire novel, all 300
pages. I had learned the hard way that the principle POV character must drive the story and that
a collection of incidents is not the same thing as a story. But most important of all I learned that
an unrealistic goal—writing “The Great American Novel”—was nothing but a millstone.

Despite all I learned with my first full novel, I still hit a couple of speed bumps on my second.
Once again I experienced a crisis at the middle of it. I was overwhelmed by the possibilities
in front of me, all the different paths that could be followed. But then I had an epiphany— the
middle of a novel is not so much about new plot twists; it’s about the development of what has
already been set in motion. Once I had that realization, I began to make progress again.

After finishing The Infinity Program, I thought the hard work was done. But I quickly learned
that writing a book was the easy part. Finding a publisher was what was really difficult. I wrote
countless query letters to mainstream publishers and agents in the U.S. and Canada. Much to my
dismay, I could not find anyone who would even look at it. After six months of this, I became
completely discouraged. I’m ashamed to say that I let the manuscript languish for nearly a year.

When I finally decided to market the book again, I concentrated on small, independent
publishers. I started off with queries to three different independents. I struck out with two of
them, but Camel Press, in Seattle Washington, expressed interest and asked to see my book in its
entirety. On 09/11/12 the book was accepted for publication by them. It was my own personal
9/11, but a joyous one.

My advice to anyone trying to publish a book is simple: Never give up!
Find out more about the author or buy your own copy here!