Book Review – Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1)Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Review – Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson is a YA fantasy novel about a boy called Alcatraz, given up by his parents at an early age, only to be shifted from one home to the next because of his talent for breaking things. But there is more to this boy than meets the eye and the librarians’ know it.

The Bad Stuff: I’m sorry, but I have to say it. This book was riddled with typos, missing letters, word double ups, etc… and could do with a thorough edit. But honestly, I can’t say anything else bad against this book.

The Good Stuff: I really enjoyed this book. No I mean it, I really enjoyed this book. Even with all the typos. They just didn’t bother me because I was enjoying it so much. It is witty and fun from the very beginning. It even has some good tips for budding writers as Alcatraz tells his story through a first person POV – And the most surprising thing of all, is that I hate first person POV. The way Sanderson handled this was pure style.

Overall this book is creative, well-paced, light hearted and fun. If you are looking for something a little quirky that will make you smile, I strongly recommend it. I’m giving this one a gadget breaking 5 out of 5 golden bookmarks.

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Allan Walsh writes Fantasy and Horror. If you’re looking for something new to read in these genres, why not check out his books here.

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Book Review – The Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a NovelThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel by Thomas F. Monteleone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Review – The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone
The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone runs through the basics of what it takes to write a novel, including writing techniques, marketing and publishing tips and much more.

The Bad Stuff: Firstly, let me say that the version I read was the 2004 edition and there is a revised version of this book that was produced in 2010. So, it is no surprize that some of the content seemed dated to me. I have not seen the 2010 edition, so I am not sure if the issues I found have been updated at all. I would suggest they have, as the problems were really around genre, publishing and marketing section of the book and these areas have changed dramatically since 2004. However, I’d still suggest that a lot more has changed since 2010 and it is probably due for another revision.

The Good Stuff: This book is full of good advice on writing and will open the eyes of the naïve novice coming in thinking it will be an easy way to make a fast buck. The techniques and advice given on writing and managing your time still apply today.

Overall this book is for the beginner. It may provide some new tips to the intermediate writer, but the value of the information within will diminish with the more experience you have. Isn’t that the case with all non-fiction though? This book is well worth the money if you are just starting out and because of this, I’m giving it a flourishing 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks.

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Allan Walsh writes Fantasy and Horror. If you’re looking for something new to read in these genres, why not check out his books here.

Book Review – Blood Rage by Allan Walsh

Blood Rage (#3)Blood Rage by Allan Walsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Review – Blood Rage by Allan Walsh (Author Review)

Blood Rage by Allan Walsh is a fantasy novel about a thief, Conall O’Lorcan, who begrudgingly takes on a job that seems too good to be true. It is… and everything starts to go wrong. His world spirals into chaos as a power hungry Baron plots to take over the realm. With so much more than just his reputation at stake, Conall is determined to set things right.

The Bad Stuff: Blood Rage was the first story I ever wrote. Some parts of this novel were very easy for me; action scenes conjured themselves up in my mind and just seemed to flow onto the paper. But other parts I struggled with. Tough parts I did not want to write and spent hours slogging through, trying to piece the scenes together. As I was new to writing, the result was terrible, but blinded by ignorance, I thought it was fantastic! Fortunately, when I was researching how to publish, I took on advice to get my work critiqued and have it professionally edited. I joined a writers’ group and spent the next year reworking the story, then sent it to an editor I met through the group. These were some of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The crux of it is that I did not plan this novel when I wrote it, I did not consider the story arc or the character arcs, writing styles, etc… these things came after in the re-writing. Therefore you may find this story a little rough around the edges.

The Good Stuff: I have mentioned above that I spent a long while gaining critiques and rewriting Blood Rage. Then after my editor went through it, I rewrote it some more. In the end this has become one of those stories where, as the author, there are some parts I’ll read and think ‘did I really write that?’ It blows me away when I get that feeling from my own writing and makes me feel like I am doing what I should be doing – not for me, but for my readers. I’m not saying that I’m the next Joe Abercombie or Brandon Sanderson, I’m saying that sometimes I surprise myself. I just hope I can surprise my readers in the same way and give you stories you really enjoy. Blood Rage has action and tension, an array of creatures – some not commonly seen in the fantasy genre, and others that are more familiar. It has underlying Celtic and pagan themes that I think give the story an originality of its own. And it turned out better than I could have expected, I hope you too enjoy ‘Blood Rage’.

Overall this fantasy is fast paced and action packed. I may be a little biased, but I like this story and it gets a solid blood rushing 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks from me.

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Allan Walsh writes Fantasy and Horror. If you’re looking for something new to read in these genres, why not check out his books here.

Checking Out My Books? Here’s a Tip.

Picture by wackystuff

Picture by wackystuff

Hello Readers,

I have previously blogged to let you know my books are available in my local libraries, but I was recently reviewing the distribution channels for my books, and I realized that I have not yet told you they are available on Overdrive. Why am I telling you this now? Because Overdrive is a service used by many libraries for e-books and audio books. It means that if your local library uses Overdrive, my books will be listed on their catalogue. And more importantly, if they do not currently have a copy in stock, you can recommend that they go ahead and order one in. Once they receive a stock copy of a book it becomes available for library members to check out.

So, if you get your books from your local library and want to (literally) check out my books, why not jump online and see if they have them in stock. If they do not, I’d suggest recommending that they order a copy and put it on hold for you when they receive it. If they like your recommendation, they will order a copy in (this usually only takes a couple of weeks). Once it arrives you’ll be notified via email and you can log in to check it out.

That’s my tip on checking out my books from your local library. On that note, I’d just like to say that our libraries do a great service for the community and can do with all the support they can get. So if you do not currently make use of their facilities, why not give them a go.

A Year in Review(s) – Thanks to my Readers.

Hello Readers,

After doing my wrap up of what I achieved in 2017, I got to thinking more about my year in review. This sparked an idea. Why don’t I do a post on “a year in reviews” and thank my readers for taking the time to not only read my books, but for posting a much appreciated review. Here’s what I came up with, some snippets from the reviews that have been posted over 2017 and a personal thank you from myself. I hope you enjoy the read.

Comments on The Crimson Guild (Blood Rage Series) – Fantasy Novella:

“A wonderful bit of escapism and fun to this little read.”
– William B

Thank you to William B, Amazon customer, for your wonderful review.

The banter between characters was a highlight of this story; they are quick witted and hot headed street urchins.”
–  Melanie Hill

Thank you Melanie Hill, Goodreads member and fellow author, for your kind review.

“I really enjoyed this book. Great characters and an interesting storyline”
–  John

Thank you John, Amazon customer, for reading and reviewing my book.

“Wow! I didn’t really know what to expect from this book but it turned out to be an absolute delight to read.”
–  Rachael

Thank you Rachael, Goodreads member, for your lovely comments.

“I hadn’t really been in the mood for fantasy lately, until I read this.”
–  Michelle

Thank you Michelle, Goodreads member, for your kind review.

Comments on Blood Rage (Blood Rage Series) – Fantasy Novel:

“The introduction of new characters was done in such a way that you thought you already knew them.”
– William B

Thank you William B, Amazon customer, for going on to read the next book in the Blood Rage Series and sharing your kind thoughts.

“Been a while since I’ve read a good fantasy book and this hit the spot.”
– Aaron C

Thank you Aaron C, Amazon customer, for reading my story and leaving a review.

“Enjoyed this book. Loved the characters of Conall and Erin. Good setting.”
–  Ashleigh

Thank you Ashleigh, I’m so glad you enjoyed the read.

Comments on Easy Prey – A Short Horror Story:

“The characters were interesting especially Judd. It felt like he was the creepy one.” 
–  Talitha Gelah

Thanks Talitha Gelah, Amazon customer, for taking a chance on my writing and leaving a review.

“This was an interesting read!”
– Michelle

Thanks Michelle, Goodreads member, for your review.

“Thank you for the good story. I gave it 4 stars. I am hoping for a more extended version of this. It was interesting you know.”
– T.G.

Thank you T.G, Goodreads member, I really appreciate your review.

Comments on Darkness In Shadows – A Short Sci-Fi/Horror:

“Short, but plenty to slake your appetite.”
– Kirstie

Thank you Kirstie, Goodreads member and fellow author, for taking the time to read and review my short story.

Comments on Low Life – A Short Horror:

“… this story had a good creep factor to it,”
– Joyce

Thank you Joyce, Goodreads member, for reading and reviewing my short story.

Once again, thank you all, your reviews help me as an author. They provide ‘social proof’ to other readers, proof that may just persuade someone else to pick up one of my books and give me a go. Without readers, writing just wouldn’t be as much fun. You give authors like me a reason to keep writing! I look forward to writing more stories for you all through 2018.

Allan Walsh writes Fantasy and Horror. If you’re looking for something new to read in these genres, why not check out his books here.

Is it Time to Try Something New?

Photo by Renaud Camus

Photo by Renaud Camus

Hello Readers,

Cor blimey! That’s right, you heard me correctly, I said cor-bloody-blimey. My reading world has been turned upside down. I am currently reading a book written in a first person point of view (POV). What on earth is happening? Anyone in my writing group will tell you, I don’t read first person and I don’t write first person. I do not like this POV, I have never liked this POV and I didn’t think I ever would like this POV. Yet here I am reading a book in… you guessed it, first person POV. And I am loving it! You know that saying, “if you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right author.” Well this must be a case of I had never found the right ‘first person’ author.

So what am I reading? I hear you asking. That is another conundrum. It’s a YA book called Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson – a book I would never have picked up to read if I had not enjoyed his Mistborn series so much. So, I think it is fair to say it is time for me to re-evaluate and consider what I might have been missing out on all these years. I may even try to write a story in a first person POV. Who knows what wonderful emotions it may stir, what creativity it may bring out. Not me, because I have never tried it. Is it time for me to give it a go? It just might be.

2017… That’s a Wrap!

Picture by Sebastien Wiertz.

Picture by Sebastien Wiertz

Hello Readers,

Well it looks like every man and his dog are doing a wrap up of 2017, so I thought I would jump on the band-wagon. This is the bit where I have to reflect on what I have achieved over the last 12 months. With a memory like mine that is a tough call, but thankfully I have the help of social media to fall back on. So, this is what 2017 looked like for me:

  1. I just scraped in on my Goodreads reading challenge of 26 books for the year, and when I say I just scraped in… I mean I finished book 26 on New Years Eve. Phew! I admit, I took a few shortcuts when I fell behind, reading a few volumes of Tite Kubo’s manga sensation “Bleach”. I even re-read a couple of my own short stories, which was a good exercise, because I still enjoyed the read and can see that I have improved my writing (at least in my opinion). If I did audiobooks, I would have ‘read’ some of these too, But I don’t do audio books, they just don’t work for me.
  2. I published 5 books in 2017. My Blood Rage series in the fantasy genre, which consists of a short story, a novella and a novel. The others 2  were short stories – Easy Prey and Making Magic, one of which I would classify as horror, the other is more fantasy with horror elements and a little humour.
  3. I managed to get some of my books into bookshops and work out that this isn’t very economically viable when you they take 35 to 40% of the RRP (that’s the RRP, not the profit) to put them on the shelf. So I won’t be actively pursuing this as a sales channel until I can get a reasonable print cost (noting price generally comes down the more units you buy, but until I know I can sell the units, I’m not keen on large orders).
  4. I also got ‘The Crimson Guild’ and ‘Blood Rage’ into some libraries, so if you are in the Logan city area and want to try them out, visit your local library and you can loan them.
  5. I have written a book on how to self-publish, but I’m not sure if I will release it or not. I finished it a few months ago now, but the playing field is constantly changing and it may need to tweaked if I decide to release it.
  6. I have spent hour after hour researching writing and marketing techniques.
  7. I put some of these new skills into practice and commenced running a few ads on FB and Amazon.
  8. I have tried to maintain a constant blog across the year, but did slack off a little at times to focus on writing/editing so I could get some more work out.

I’m sure there is more I could add to this list, but I can’t think of it right now and I have covered the main items from my FB timeline now. Looking back, I am quite happy with what I have achieved over the year.

On a personal level, I have been very lucky to have an amazing woman who not only supports me with my writing, but spoils me on special occasions. I’m not easy to buy presents for, so she tends to get me ‘experiences’. This year I have learnt how to drift a Lotus Elise around a skid pan, which was an awesome and exhilarating activity. I have flown a light aircraft over Brisbane, yes… I actually piloted the plane for a 30 minute flight. Now that was quite scary for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to holiday in Japan during the Cherry Blossom season and I’ve managed to get back to the UK and catch up with family and friends (only my 2nd time back in 20 years). As this only happens once in a blue moon, we made the most of it. We took the train through the Channel tunnel to Paris (crossed that one off my bucket list) and drank Belgium beer in Belgium. I really don’t think I would have half of these things without my great woman’s drive and motivation.

What’s lined up for 2018?

Well, on a personal note, I already have a ride in a Centurion tank and a “learn-to-fly-a-helicopter” flight lined up. We won’t be doing much travelling this year though. We’ll need to knuckle down and save for the next trip.

Writing wise I plan to continue to learn as much as possible about writing. I am starting to plot a bit more these days, so I’ll see if that makes much difference with my writing this year. I have a few unfinished titles I’ve been working on over the last year or so and I’d really like to finalise some of these for publishing them this year. I tend to jump between projects while I work though, which slows the progress on individual stories, but sees me finish a few closely together. I’d love to get a few more short stories and another novella or novel out this year, so I look forward to looking back at the end of 2018 and seeing if I met this goal.