Take A Little Trip

Those who enjoy fiction crave escapism, and this is foremost in my mind when I write. I strive to take the reader into another world with action, intrigue, humour, and, in the case of my latest release, a little summertime heat in the midst of winter.

You see, fiction is also an author’s way to escape, and as snow pellets hit my window it took me about three seconds to set The Letterhead Affair in the Florida Keys. There might be sub-zero temperatures outside, but in my mind I feel the heat of the sun and the wetness of condensation on a crystal tumbler. I hear waves lapping on a nearby shore, the cry of gulls overhead, and the whine of a bullet as it zings past my ear. Oh crap! Listen, I’ve got to go but if you want to continue this diversion you can pick up my new short thriller as an e-book for less than a dollar at most major online retailers. The links are below – just keep your head down.

Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Letterhead-Affair-Glenn-Muller-ebo…/…/
Kobo:
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/the-letterhead-affair

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BTW; this story is also featured in the Amazing Adventures Anthology mentioned in the previous post.

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Countdown To Launch

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Finally; I can stop being a tease and deliver the goods as promised. Well, almost. The release date for the much anticipated short story anthology, Amazing Adventures has now been set for September 16th, 2014. This enticing collection of twelve tales from thirteen authors will be available as an ebook from major online retailers and as a paperback. Purchasing information will be revealed on the launch date.

Meanwhile, in the order they will appear in the book, here are the stories and their contributors:

The Letterhead Affair – Glenn Muller
They Say Heaven Is Paved With Gold – Thomas D. Taylor
Mettle On Mettle – Jordanna East
All The Sleepy Dancers Gone – Elyse Bruce
Pound Of Flesh – Stanley J. Thornton
Fallen – Allison M. Cosgrove
Intruder – Jack and Cindi Williams Barnier
The Bust – Quintus J. Hooper
The Manor – William Storke
Cry For Help – Juliet B. Madison
Follow The White Stripes Jorge Avalos
The Horseman – Joel Mark Harris

If you like a story, be sure to look up the author(s) for their other works. And, if you like the book, a review would be most appreciated. Copies of Elyse Bruce’s artwork will also be available in various forms.

An Amazing Cover Reveal

I would like to say that the Amazing Adventures anthology just ‘happened’, because that is how it seems when I think of how everything fell into place. Of course, I’m looking purely from my perspective, a narrow view when you consider there are twelve other authors involved in this project. But, hey, this way I won’t bore you with too many details – so here’s my version of what exactly ‘happened’.

Late last Summer I met Joel Mark Harris on a Facebook forum where we were both busy plugging our books. His blog seemed to have way more followers than mine so I said, “Hey Joel, how’d you like to do a guest blog swap?” Well, he fell for it and the next thing I know I’ve got this award-winning screenwriter, journalist, filmmaker doing the week’s post on Uncorked Ink while I went for a bike ride or something.

A few weeks later, Joel messages me about contributing to a short story anthology he wanted to put together. He said that he would do all of the heavy lifting, and all he required of me was a short story. As if I needed convincing he also mentioned that I would get an equal share of any royalties. Royalties – one of my favourite, though seldom heard, words. So I wrote a story and sent it to Joel.

To give the authors a platform for communication, Joel set up a Facebook page. Since we already had a couple of things in common, writing and the anthology, we contributors very quickly became friends. Although our project leader had some trouble finding an illustrator for the stories, one of the authors, Elyse Bruce, whose creative talents extend to music and art volunteered her services. We each sent Elyse an outline of what we wanted for our stories and, where I would have a problem making simple stickmen, she came up with wonderfully accurate renderings.

Which brings me to the point of this oversimplified tale – Elyse’s final depiction for the anthology – The Cover. The theme of the book is one of ripping yarns in the pulp-fiction style. Not knowing what the other authors were writing, it soon became clear how closely we had stuck to this thread by the number and variety of firearms Elyse ended up reproducing. Not surprisingly, the cover also features a Saturday Night Special along with items that hint of protagonists and antagonists that are on the move – whether they want to be or not. Anyway, enough of the set-up – are you ready? Here it is!

AA Cover smallHaving now read all of the stories, if escapism through fiction is your thing, you’ll find a lot to like within the pages of Amazing Adventures. Within the next couple of weeks it will become available in e-book and a paperback format. In the next post, I’ll let you know the exact date of release, and provide more information on the contributors and their stories. If you are on Twitter, you can pick up the tweets via #amazingadventures

Ciao for now!

In A Small Town

Marc A. DiGiacomo was a police officer who was raised to the rank of detective when his small town in New York state experienced a dramatic rise in serious crime. While he saw, first-hand, a side of life that most of us hope never to experience, he realized that such cases were an excellent basis for a series of novels. His first book, In A Small Town, won the best thriller award in the Orangeberry Hall of Fame then went on to become an Amazon Best Seller.

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To find out more about Marc and his novels you can follow this link:

Marc A. DiGiacomo’s webpage

but first, spend a few minutes to read Marc’s guest post on where he found the inspiration to start writing.

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What inspired me to write In A Small Town by Marc A. DiGiacomo

I always believed I had a book somewhere within my warped brain. It’s one thing to have that feeling about yourself but to actually write that book is a story within itself. How do you motivate one’s self to follow through on a conceptualized idea? For me, it was my three small children, though only my oldest will remember the late night/early morning calls from the police department notifying me of the latest crime to occur within our boundaries. With bright, wide-open eyes, he would watch his father leave fully believing I would return as soon as I could. Truth be told; it was very difficult to leave him but I had a job, a responsibility to others, that I was sworn to uphold.

When I retired from the police department, after a string of back injuries and surgery, I needed to set a new course for myself. My back injury makes it difficult for me sometimes but it was just another challenge I needed to overcome. What started off as a memoir of a small town cop’s career quickly grew legs and became an organized crime thriller. I had a very unique police career working for such a small town; I wanted to emphasize to others that even though I worked for a small town, big crime still happens and needs to be solved.

The encouragement I received from my oldest son was all that I needed. His face upon seeing In A Small Town, is a priceless memory I will never forget. He’s only eleven, and will not be reading any of my books for quite some time, but his praise and reassurances have motivated me to write more. So, I write for my kids, and one day, when they read my books, they will always know a little piece of their father is alive and well within those pages.

I can relate to your desire to translate experience into story form, Marc. My own thriller started from a similar need, and now I see it as a permanent tribute to a certain period in my life – well,  except for the firebombings and the sex with the sociopathic killer; I might have made those up.

Thanks for your post, Marc, and all the best with your novels!

Glenn Muller is the author of Torque

An Interesting Event

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Chris Dupe about a new author event. Chris is the owner of Pickwick Books, a store in Waterdown, Ontario, where I had done a signing last December. Waterdown was having its inaugural art and music festival, and since Pickwick Books was located right on the street of the happening Chris thought it would be a great idea to host an author’s tent.

The festival website said that 20,000 visitors were expected so the odds were good that some of them would be book readers/buyers. I sent in my fee for a table and, in reply, Chris also revealed that we’d be right in the heart of the action which sounded good. In fact, we’d be right beside the main stage! Pardon? That rang bells in my head right away. I’ve been to enough music festivals to know what happens on the main stage, and it isn’t conducive to chatting with people about your book.

Oh well, in for a penny-in for a pound, it might not be that bad. I parked in a plaza a couple of blocks from the event and made my way past the booths, the bouncy castle, and the food vendors until I got to the store. When I inquired where the authors were located, I was taken back onto the street and into a side alley where a large, but somewhat flimsy blue tarp shelter had been set-up. I had walked right past without even noticing it. Not a good sign.

For the morning, I would be sharing the space with four lovely women whose genres were children’s books, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction. With my thriller in the mix we had a good range to offer. To draw attention to the tent, Chris set out a large sign on the curb, and they were also handing out flyers both in the store and from the booth on the street where they were selling used books. That didn’t seem to help much so I took a bunch of my book cards and walked up the main thoroughfare handing them out and imploring people to visit “the lonely authors beside the bookstore.”

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That brought some traffic our way, but after an hour of watching people stream past on the street we decided to take more affirmative action and moved our tables from beneath the tent in the alley, and plunked them right on the sidewalk. Now we were right in the heart of the action. And within minutes, it started to rain. Luckily, it was just a sprinkle and after we hastily covered our displays the sunshine returned. Since pop-up showers were in the forecast I decided to hit a nearby store for some plastic cling-wrap to protect our books.

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Curbside, we started to get more attention and the occasional book sale, and being at one end of the festival there was a constant stream of newcomers to hand cards and bookmarks to. Things were just starting to look up when the entertainment program began. It had been awhile since I’d last listened to some live bands, and we had great seats for that, but we were there to sell books and the music made it very difficult to communicate.

After lunch we were joined by four more authors to bring our number to nine. The street was busy and the sun continued to shine but dark clouds loomed. About 2pm, there was a significant rain burst and I quickly tossed everything into a box and stuck it under my table. When I turned around to take shelter under the tent I found it to be full of folks from the street. I couldn’t resist the irony, and had one of the authors hold our placard in front of them while I took a picture. The rain stopped as quickly as it had started, and as everyone ventured from under the tarp, I said, “Thank you all for visiting the Authors Tent!”

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We dried off the tables and set out our wares but more clouds threatened. I was able to make one more sale before the skies opened up again, and this time we just carried the tables back under the tarp and started to pack up. Although one author with a delightful little children’s book called How Blanky Found Me made about a dozen sales, the rest of us had found the day to be a tough slog with limited returns. My total was three street sales, one store sale, two trades, and an e-book through KOBO that registered later that evening.

Hopefully, the cards I distributed will generate a few more e-book sales so I can at least break even on the day’s costs. If not, I’ll consider the intangibles like the new friendships, leads, and contacts I made as fair value. I also got to listen to some good bands, and all things considered I actually had a lot of fun.

Glenn Muller is the author of Torque

http://home.primus.ca/~gmuller/torque.htm

Steve Vernon Uncorked

I always enjoy having authors visit Uncorked Ink, especially if they are fellow Canadians. Hailing from Nova Scotia this week’s guest is Steve Vernon, a prolific writer with a wide range of titles in his portfolio like: Devil Tree; Flash Virus; Sudden Death Overtime (hockey and vampires, of course); and Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp.

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UI: Welcome Steve. Could you start by telling us about the place you call home?

SV: I’ve lived here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for almost forty years and I still love the place. The winters are getting a little old though – and I sometimes fantasize about someday retiring to a desert community in New Mexico – somewhere where snow is mostly mythical.

UI: You have several books on the market, which we’ll touch on shortly, but what other writing do you do?

SV: I am one of those weird dogs who does nothing but write. I am better at writing than most folks are at conversing. Some folks even think of me as anti-social but that just isn’t so – I am mostly slow at gathering my thoughts and wrapping words around my communicative impulses.

UI: Which was your first book to be published, and when did that happen?

SV: Wow – that was some time ago – maybe ten years ago when I released a little novella called Long Horn, Big Shaggy – A Tale Of Wild West Terror And Reanimated Buffalo. It was a story that I had been kicking around ever since I read a Stephen King chapter that hypothesized what might happen if he ever sat down to write a Louis Lamoure western.

UI: Do you have a third party publisher or look after this task yourself?

SV: That’s kind of complicated. I have had many publishers – primarily my local regional press Nimbus who have released seven of my books – including four ghost story collections, one true historical murder collection, one young adult novel and one children’s picture book.

Some of my earlier releases came from the small press – folks like Delirium, Cemetery Dance, Bad Moon Books, and Nocturne Press.

Back a few years ago I hooked up with Crossroad Press who helped me to release some of my earliest e-books – but these days I prefer to release my e-books independently. I enjoy the freedom and the accessibility that being my own publisher gives me. I am still working on making it pay off for me but I am confident that within a year or two the sales will begin to accumulate.

UI: Your preferred genre appears to be horror with regional (Canadian Maritimes) locations. Which one would you recommend a reader start with?

SV: That is kind of complicated as well.

I don’t really have a preferred genre, these days – however, if you wanted to read some of my ghost stories I would recommend picking up an e-copy of Haunted Harbours – Ghost Stories From Old Nova Scotia, and going from there.

If you wanted to read some of my horror work you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Tatterdemon – one of the nastiest novels of scarecrow horror that you have ever read. Think about Salem’s Lot – only with scarecrow demons instead of vampires – and you are somewhere near the mark. You might also want to take a look at Sudden Death Overtime – a chilling little novella of vampires and hockey – and if you think that those two concepts do not go together you just might want to think again.

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Lastly I would definitely have to recommend picking up a copy of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden To The Ark – which signals a brand new direction for my writing. I am attempting to retell the stories of the Old Testament in the voice of an old school old fart storyteller – namely, Uncle Bob.

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If some folks think that is somewhat sacrilegious of me, just remember, God invented giggling.

UI: Is there a book in your catalogue that you are particularly proud, or fond, of?

SV: Any of those last four mentioned would definitely fit the bill.

UI: Tell us about your writing process, Steve. Do you have a favourite place and time of day (or night)?

SV: I am a morning man. I like to get up before the birds have slipped out of their pajamas and I do my best to climb right into a manuscript and not look up until the sun peeks in.

UI: Do you have a favourite horror movie?

SV: Golly, I have got a few. Say Reanimator. Say Silver Bullet. Say Monster Squad. Say Dog Soldiers. Say Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein. Say Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.

Say them all together fast in one quick breath and you might be somewhere close to hitting on my favorite.

UI: What are you reading currently?

SV: Not enough, I am afraid.

UI: I know what you mean. There are so many great titles, both old and new, it’s hard to find the time! Well, it’s been great getting to know more about you, Steve. Below are some links where readers can “follow” you or find out more about your books.

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Steve’s Blog – YOURS IN STORYTELLING

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Pinterest

Steve on Facebook

Steve’s Amazon Page

Steve’s Kobo Page

An Independent Woman

My friend and fellow author, Sarah Butland, has an independent spirit that has served her well. In this edition of Uncorked Ink, she expounds on why she chose to forge her own path, particularly when it came to writing and publishing.

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Independence Has Its Perks by Sarah Butland

Many people have asked why I didn’t submit my work to a mainstream publisher, and the simple answer is I was too impatient. Hearing tons of stories about authors waiting months and years to hear back, I wanted my story out there, to help people as quickly as it could.

Some of you may know that my children’s book, Sending You Sammy, is what started a career that has gone from delightful children’s fiction to my most recent fantasy short story Blood Day. To go through the process of being accepted and approved by a publisher was a task I didn’t have the patience for.

Instead, I feel I should write first for me and second for the readers.

Having the support of fellow emerging or already successful authors, who read for enjoyment and to support other authors, is all the value I need.

Yes, it’s certainly a struggle to tell the world (through media and otherwise) of my books but it’s a fun (though exhausting) exercise. It also teaches me to rely on myself and not sacrifice my own story and goals for the sake of a big name.

Through this journey I’ve gained the support of so many amazing people and have discovered so many outstanding books and new favourite authors.

This journey goes beyond books

Independence is more about yourself than you know. Outside of the writing career, being able to discover who you are without the pressure of meeting the expectations of others is what life is all about.

Take my 4 year old son, for example. He plays more sports than I ever had interest in and loves to simply play for fun. Yes, he dreams of being drafted to a major league team but for now he takes pure pride in playing driveway hockey with his grandfather, and curling with tennis balls.

We need to all take a moment away from the fame and fortune to really appreciate that life is what we make it, and we are who we are because that is who we want to be.

This is not to say that waiting for the big publisher, or a major league team, isn’t the right thing to do. Just be sure that every decision you make is the right one for you, and not for the pockets of others.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Butland
www.SarahButland.com

PS: As a thank you to all of my supporters, I hope you’ll download my award winning short story Blood Day for free from now until March 30,, 2014 on Kindle. Why free? It’s not about the money for me, it’s about increasing the love of literacy.

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Enjoy.

The Future of Book Buying

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Over the last couple of years there’s been a growing buzz about the changing landscape of the book publishing business. It has mainly centered around the self-published demographic that has taken a huge chunk of business from the literary gatekeepers who, until recently, determined what you read and how much you paid for it.

 While print books still sell more copies than their digital versions (e-books), the trend is quickly shifting as e-reader sales numbers continue to grow exponentially. This plays right into the hands of those who publish independently since all one needs to set up a global distribution system, with major retailers, is a computer and an Internet connection.

However, the Empire is not about to let these upstarts crash their party without a fight. In the coming year they will be offering many of their e-book titles, including those by popular authors, at greatly reduced prices to compete with the indies who generally offer their novels for the average price of $5.99.

Currently, the giants of the e-book retail business are Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Barnes& Noble, and they all offer their own brand of e-reader. If those corporations should happen to look over their shoulder, they might see another type of player sneaking up behind them. The new kid on the block for 2014 will be the subscription service.

Ever since Netflix hit the television market, cable companies have been scrambling to maintain their viewership, with some of them rolling out plans to offer their own subscription service. The new book subscription services are going to have the same effect and, with the populace now comfortable with the Netflix model, folks will soon buy into the low monthly cost ($4.95-$9.99) of unlimited book downloads from third-party suppliers with extensive catalogues. The main advantage for the reader is that if you don’t like a book you can just download another, or another, until you find one you like at no extra cost. The price of the book is no longer an issue so you can read as many first chapters as your heart desires.

 Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, has recently signed agreements with Scribd and Oyster, two of the largest book subscription services, to make his company’s catalogue of over 200,000 independently published books available to download. Another new player that is about to make a splash is Inkbok which has pledged to donate 10% of their subscriptions a charitable donation.

 Whether this new trend will diversify the wealth more evenly among authors remains to be seen, but with readers given the opportunity to try out newcomers for virtually free it should at least level the playing field a bit for those struggling for exposure.

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 Glenn Muller is the author of Torque, a thriller that is available through the mentioned subscription services. If you found this article informative and decide to subscribe to a service, please take Torque for a test drive.

It’s About Time Travel

This week, Uncorked Ink is happy to host Susan Finlay as a guest blogger.  We’ve known each other forever, in Internet years, which is why her post on time travel is so fitting. Take it away, Susan!

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Thanks for inviting me to write about time travel on your blog, Glenn

I recently met with a local author to discuss writing and publishing. Somehow the conversation turned to the subject of which genres sell the best. We both agreed that sci-fi and fantasy readers seemed more receptive to books by new authors. When I told him I am working on a time travel story called Cobblestone, he said, “If I had to resort to writing time travel to sell books, I would quit writing.” That hurt a little. But it wasn’t a surprise. I’ve heard that kind of comment before. I went on to explain that I was writing Cobblestone not to capture a new audience, but because I actually like time travel stories.

     Back in 1991 while browsing the romance section of an Oklahoma City bookstore, another shopper recommended the book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a new author at the time. I read the book blurb on the back cover and looked at the woman. “Time travel?” I said. She assured me that I wouldn’t be disappointed. She said it was the best book she’d read in years. I bought it. Since then, Diana Gabaldon has published six more books in the series and is about to release the next one. Outlander is being made into a television series (coming in 2014) for the Starz network. I love the books. Obviously I’m not the only one. And it’s not the only successful time travel book or series.

     In 1999 Author Michael Crichton published Timeline. That book was made into a movie. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has Harry, Ron, and Hermione time travel. Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Stargate SG1 television series and movies also have time travel scenes/storylines. My favorite is the Star Trek movie The Voyage Home that takes the original crew back in time to California so they can save the whale species. The Time Tunnel was also a popular television series in the early sixties. Another one of my favorite movie series is the Back to the Future trilogy. Who doesn’t like Marty McFly and Doc?

     Some time travel stories are considered science fiction and some are considered fantasy. As far as I can tell, it depends on how much science is used in the story. Some famous science fiction authors have written time travel books—H.G. Wells, The Time Machine; Dan Simmons, Hyperion; and Connie Willis, Doomsday Book to name a few. Many romance novels use time travel, too, usually with little or no science—books by Lynn Kurland, Jude Deveraux, Karen Marie Moning, Richard Matheson, etc. One of the most famous is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It was made into a movie, too. A Google search of ‘time travel romance’ produced a link to a list of 425 books.

     Okay, time travel stories may not win literary awards, and certainly some people think they’re silly or not worthy of their time, but it’s pretty obvious they have fans. One of the reasons I like time travel is because it can allow the author to create the ultimate ‘fish out of water’ story. In Cobblestone, two men, two women, and a child from our time are accidentally transported to 18th century Bavaria. Some of them speak German and some don’t, and how they cope with the situations can mean the difference between life and death.

     The other thing I like about time travel stories is exploring the differences in society. How would you react if you saw the way your ancestors lived? Certainly some things are much better now—cleaner, easier, etc.—but don’t you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of television commercials, political fighting, etc.? Don’t you sometimes long for the simpler and slower lifestyle of eras past? Time travel allows the reader to compare different eras.. A scene in Cobblestone has an American character, Max, lying on the ground in 1784 and looking up at the sky. He realizes how still it is—no airplanes or jet streams. It reminds him of the days that followed the 911 attacks in the U.S. when all flights were cancelled for several days.

     I still have work to do on Cobblestone and I expect to publish it in late 2014 or early 2015. It may not win awards, or be made into a movie or television series, but if it entertains readers then I will be happy.

     Susan Finlay is the author the new Outlander mystery novels. The first in the series, In The Shadows can be found here:

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Amazon

Space Games – A Review

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Reality TV is digital consumerism with the dubious claim of real life entertainment. For those who can’t, won’t, or just don’t know how to break away from a mundane existence, this socially acceptable voyeurism provides a safe dose of danger and excitement. While it may not be addictive it still seems that, like a drug, each dose must become stronger if it is to sustain the thrill.

Such potent programming has become the norm in the year 2034 when producer Sheldon Zimmer decides to stage the ultimate battle of the sexes, in outer space. While he makes some pretense at staying within safety guidelines, Zimmer doesn’t want to just push the envelope, he aims to rip right through it and does so with as little regard for the contestants as would an emperor at a coliseum.

 Space Games, by Dean Lombardo, takes a satirical swipe at society’s craving to see it’s soul stripped bare, and scores a direct hit with its portrayal of viewers who subscribe to Internet feeds for the most personal of details. The moral anchor of the story is Morty, Zimmer’s assistant, and Morty’s attempts to keep the show from getting out of hand make it apparent that he is the closest thing Zimmer has to a conscience. The contestants, hulking Joe O’Donnell and spitfire Robin Miller, crank out the venom from the start and with only an aging astronaut for a chaperone their clashes soon become bloody and vindictive. While some may feel that Lombardo goes over the top with these scenes, I’m fairly certain that fans of pro-wrestling or mixed martial arts cage fights will eat them up.

Lombardo’s writing style is clean. His descriptions and dialogue sweep easily past the eye making Space Games a fairly quick read. The science is inventive in places and accurate enough, and the characters stay true to form throughout the story. For those who like sci-fi pulp fiction from the fifties and sixties, where men are macho and women are wild, this will almost feel like a nostalgic read about a future we can all see coming. As a page-turner that keeps you guessing who the ultimate winner will be, and at what cost, Space Games comes highly recommended.

Space Games is available in a number of e-book formats and is also in paperback.

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Space-Games-ebook/dp/B00DJIEUPG/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1375371455&sr=8-1&keywords=Dean+Lombardo

Kobo

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/space-games-1