Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blog Tour: Nicki J Markus' Time Keepers

Hi! I'm entering the blog tour arena by helping spread the word about Nicki J Markus' new urban fantasy Time Keepers. Nicki helps keep other indie publishers in the public eye. Her style is crisp, and her approach is fun.

In the not so distant future, Supernaturals have announced their presence to the world. But now a secret government agency is rounding them up, hoping to use them for its own purposes.

With Supernaturals going missing every day, Nick has been careful to guard his own secret, never giving anyone reason to notice him. That is until Ellie comes careering into his train carriage.

Instantly drawn to her, he tries to help. But soon both their secrets are revealed and they find themselves on the run in a desperate bid to escape from the mysterious Time Keepers, whose net is closing in around them.


Say No To Fur!!
The poster caught his eye as he stood on the muggy, station platform waiting for the southbound Jubilee Line tube.
Nick frowned, tilting his head slightly and staring at it. The hologram of a wolf's head hovered in the centre, the trademark tinges of reds and greens, which even modern technology could not erase completely from the image, were just visible behind its charcoal grey fur. It rippled there in seeming innocence, a benign look in its yellow eyes as it watched the passers-by.
In some ways it seemed inconspicuous, lost as it was amidst the neon graffiti tags that covered every free inch of wall space, and yet it drew the eye somehow, creating a sense of disquiet that made everyone give it a wide berth as they walked past.
Then a woman stepped a little too close.
The wolf's head leapt out from the poster, eyes bloodshot and jaws open wide, revealing glistening pointed teeth that dripped with saliva and snapped viciously at her. The woman shrieked and jumped back in fright, dropping her handbag as the wolf retreated, reverting once more to its former pose.
Nick bent down and retrieved the worn leather bag, holding it out to her. He could hear the heavy pounding of her heart within her chest, and he waited patiently while she took a moment to compose herself. Finally her watery grey eyes focused on him, and she reached out a gnarled and wrinkled hand to reclaim her possessions.
"Thank you, young man." She carefully eased the handles of the bag back over her emaciated arm, the additional weight making her hunch her shoulders as she supported one arm with the other. "It shouldn't be allowed."
"No, the tube station really isn't the place for posters like that," he agreed with her readily, casting a wary glance at the wall where the wolf still hovered, looking peaceable once more.
"No, not the poster, young man; I mean these Werewolves—and the Vampires too. As if there isn't already enough wrong in the world without such evil creatures roaming around free. The sooner the Government stamps them out the better." The woman turned away and waddled off farther down the platform.

Author Bio

Nicki JMarkus was born in England in 1982, but she now lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages. She has completed a BA (hons) English with French from the University of Greenwich, London and a PGDip in Translation from the University of the West of England, Bristol. She is currently studying for diplomas in Editing and Publishing.

Nicki J Markus launched her writing career in 2010 and her fiction work has been accepted for e-book publication by both Wicked Nights Publishing and Silver Publishing.

In her spare time, Nicki J Markus also enjoys many other creative pursuits including music, theatre, photography, sketching and web-design. She also has a keen interest in history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling and travel.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

My face on the web/Social networking workflow

So, I'm all over the web, because like any of my tribe (Gen-X Overthinkers, of the subtribe Shlubby Ink Stained Atheist Fanboy), I am a technophile and something of a collector. I like pages that track my interests, and expose me to other people's.

In addition, I am in the process of starting the "self promotion" part of my shoe string self publishing hobby. I would appreciate the help of a few clicks if you have a Facebook or Amazon account. Also, I may use the info in a Indie Pub !Science! article.

Note, I'm not asking people to buy books. My attitude is that if you're on my Facebook feed already, I'm happy to give you a copy in epub or mobi format (which will work on Kindles) for free. Email or PM me. I am interested to see if this kind of social networking convinces other people to buy books from an unestablished, unrepresented author, however.

This is the link to my Amazon author page. I have heard a rumor, possibly false, that these get bumped up in the ranks if there are more author "likes".  It's easier than writing a review, if you've read any of my books and enjoyed it at all.


This is the link to my Facebook Author page. Once 30 people "like" this page, I can view traffic stats. :-/. I believe I might start pushing all my "every week should end in awesome" type links through this page. I believe.


I am on Twitter. I blort things on here, sometimes.


I am on Good Reads. We can compare book collections, and I will be notified when you review books.


I am on Pinterest, because I love weird art. This is where I collect tattoo flash, pictures of monsters, and food pr0n.


I am including my blog address because I know this link will show in my Facebook feed. You can RSS it. Lolololololo!


I used to publish on Smashwords, and may do so again because it distributes to so many publishing platforms. You can like this author profile, but I think you need a Smashwords account, which is of marginal use to people not interested in Indie Pr0n. But if you're there already....


Because I like to add value, here's a couple of workflow tips for fellow Indie writer wannabees:

You can update Facebook automatically from any blog or tweet, meaning each update to your blog or twitter feed is a twofer.

In Twitter I do all my short, texty, "pith and vinegar" posts. To connect Twitter and Facebook, go to Settings, then Profile, then your Facebook settings.

Longer posts come from my blog, and I use the Facebook App RSS Graffiti to pull them from my blog directly into my Facebook page. Search for RSS Graffiti in facebook and then allow it access to your Facebook page. After that, it will show up under Apps in your newsfeed. When you open RSS Graffiti, you need to create a Publishing Plan, enter a URL that should be imported to Facebook, and target the appropriate Facebook page (for instance, your personal or Author Facebook page).

If you have social networking workflow tips that you'd like to share, let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

11 PM Book Review: 2312

2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson, is perhaps the loveliest science fiction novel ever written and an excellent beginning sf novel for people interested in literary fiction. Set three hundred years from now, humans have colonized the solar system from the asteroids inside the orbit of mercury to the moons of Neptune, and travel the solar system in hollowed out asteroids. In this milieu, Swan and Wahram, each over a hundred years old, meet after the death of Swan's grandmother Alex. When Swan's home city is destroyed by sabotage, she becomes involved in an investigation  of artificial intelligences started by Alex and Wahram

Despite the thriller-esque overtones of the overarching plot, KSR spins the story out in a leisurely but compelling series of vignettes that involve social justice and ecological repair on an earth ravaged by global warming, meditations on the nature of gender, a love story between Swan and Wahram, two entirely mismatched paramours, and snippets of Rumi. Kim Stanley Robinson's stories have a way of acknowledging the ripe stink of human history, but the nature of his stories assume that the future is bright and the structure of his novels minimalizes the inherant conflicts and maximizes the value of human beings searching for meaning all while presenting you matter of factly with wonders: magical environments created through the application of technology.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Forbidden Planet Readalikes: A short bibliography I wrote to supplement a movie program at Portage District Library

Widely believed to be lifted from the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare, the movie Forbidden Planet is about a genius whose powers get the better of him. The plot involves unexpected mysteries found exploring distant planets, and "things man was not meant to know" in the form of "monsters of the id."

Here are some other science fiction books that deal with mysteries on new planets:

The Engines of God: Jack McDevittMcDevitt. Terraforming threatens critical research on the enigmatic alien ruins on Quraqua and its moon, which include a bizarre false city dubbed Oz.

Foreigner: CJ Cherryh. A human starship, lost in space, discovers another race. Overconfident, they are defeated in a war and must live on a reservation.

The Outback Stars: Sandra MacDonald. The crew of a space ship discovers strange thing about the alien faster than light travel system that they use.

Rendezvous with Rama: Arthur C. Clarke. When a 31 mile long alien starship enters Earth's solar system, a group of human explorers intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries.

Ringworld: Larry Niven. Louis Gridley Wu travels beyond the edges of space known to humans, and joins an alien's expedition to a world constructed like a continuous ring around it's sun. Nobody knows who or what created this gigantic planet, but they seem to have been aware of us!

The Sparrow: Mary Doria Russell. Human exploration of a distant world results in the lone survivor being brutally enslaved.

Speaker for the Dead: Orson Scott Card. An indirect sequel to Ender's Game, the alien life on a human colony world turns out to be unlike anything seen before.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld Series): Philip Jose Famer. All of humanity is resurrected on the banks of a river. Mark Twain, Richard Burton, and Alice in Wonderland decide to find out what's up with that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

11 PM Book Review: Hide me Among the Graves

In London, 1845 ­ a 14 year old Christina Rossetti, who will become a well known poet, accidentally awakens the vampire-ghost of her uncle. This will set in motion three decades of struggle as Christina, her brother Gabrielle, a hapless veterinarian and a reformed lady of the night are haunted and stalked by the two great vampires of London. The vampires inspire the Rossettis to create great poetry, but jealously kill anybody their poet "family" might love more than the vampires.

Tim Powers writes fantasies that use historical characters and settings which he painstakingly researches, creating an absorbing secret-history feel. In addition, his vampires are an interesting take on the genre: hugely powerful, elemental horrors limited only by the character of their compulsions and neurosis, they aren¹t characters so much as supernatural traps that the Rossettis and their allies must puzzle their way out of.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

11 PM Book Review: Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules

Marriage Confidential, by Pamela Haag, is a very interesting quasi-sociological read with a highly journalistic feel. The author's general focus is on contrasting the "romantic" marriage culture of previous generations with the "post-romantic" culture of Xers and millennials. I think this loosely translates into a "culture of passionate marriage" vs. a "culture of pragmatic marriage." Haag seems to believe that post-romantic marriage ideals are a result of the sexual, childbearing, and financial support "roles" of marriage being becoming unnecessary and replaced with a charismatic Christian ideal of "sticking out" a marriage for reasons like "the kids," and that this holds true even for secular people. She points out that trends like childfree marriage may be largely due to the dourness of the charismatic influenced "marriage movement" which makes child raising sound histrionically important to the exclusion of adult needs.

"Children today occupy the center of a marriage with fewer if any rivals because marriage has been pruned of it's other imperatives." p 114

"The family values movement may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. It sets such strict child-first standards that type A parents… might understandably decide to stay childfree." p 115

The author combines current data on marriage trends with interviews of friends, acquaintances, and correspondence from personals websites. She includes several shallow but non-judgmental chapters about non-monogamous marriage trends. Most of her interviews are with people whose marriages have failed, so Marriage Confidential seems biased against successful marriages. However, this is a breezy read about a serious topic. I think this is a good look at why people feel bad about "serviceable" marriages. It would be excellent for young or new couples, as a mindful inoculation against extremist ideals in marriage.