Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Davene Le Grange, Sci-Fi Fantasy/ Poetry

Hi, I am Davene Le Grange, a Sci-fi Fantasy Author and Poet. I am currently working on a multi-genre 1,200 poems project. The first book in my twelve-book poetry series (inspired by cyberpunk and steampunk) includes almost every punk genre.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My poem “Once Upon A Butterfly” was published in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I wrote to publish novels. My husband and the film “Arrival” directed by Denis Villeneuve inspired me to start writing. I wrote “Éatheria: Logbook 1” and the overview for a series of seven dark sci-fi fantasy books, which I hope to complete and publish after some more world-building, rewriting, and editing. 

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I typically reach out to friends and family first (recently via my newsletter) to request spreading the word, I will then go onto social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to promote my works (as well as the works of my fellow authors involved in anthologies), and also update my author website.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I did, following the recommendations of fellow authors on social media, try promotional sites, but quickly learnt that there is a lot of controversy on which sites are scams, cons, and that even the generally accepted sites are also sometimes called into question. I am grateful to have come across ALLi which investigates which sites to watch out for, because experience has taught me that even if you think you’re doing everything correct and doing your utmost to adhere to Amazon’s terms, reviews can still be called into question.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I have learnt that reviews don’t accurately portray the quality of a book. If what I’ve seen fellow authors share online to be true then a high number of reviews or five-star ratings can stem from large online writer groups, some authors having the ability to spend more on marketing, or sadly when readers are attacked by authors for leaving an honest rating that is below three stars. I myself would rather not rate or even read a book if I feel the quality falls below 3 stars. Follower counters also don’t equate to sales, and I don’t believe that reviews equate to actual success. True success will always be the genuine friends and connections a person makes, and there are no short cuts in the forming of strong bonds between an author and their fellow authors and readers.

About Your Work

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:     As a versatile person, I am still working on my author brand, but overall, I root for diversity, and would like to leave a lasting message of love, peace, and hope. I’m still discovering who I am as a person, and again rarely confine myself to any one particular label as I don’t like to limit myself. I am full of ideas all the time, my biggest challenge is keeping focused, but as I am still experimenting with finding my true passion project, I’m just enjoying living and discovering.

How many works have you published?

Author:      I have had five works published so far.  I have three short stories in three different anthologies: Broadcast 2220 in Arc City Stories (Todd Cinani as Lead Writer), The Spherical Realms and Penumbra and Luster in The Theater of Nok-Mondu, and The Undercover Goth in Neon Digital Darkness (James L. Graetz as Lead Writer). I also have my poem Once Upon A Butterfly published in Away With Words: Inspirations from Europe (Edited by Claire Tupholme), and have a self-published poetry book The Cyber Punk: Ready-2-Play?

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      Other than my focus on colorful imagery and diverse world-building, a common element I have noticed in my writing is a main character that questions if their actions are truly good. I personally find it very important to constantly question if I’m on the correct path and to challenge myself to see a situation from other perspectives.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      Cautionary tales for what people build as well as inspiration to build a better world for future generations. My stories are by nature experimental, and I’m happy if they inspire at least one person to push forward with a new idea to create something good and beautiful for our world to enjoy.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I would love to give recommendations but again what works for one author might not for another, and with the current climate I’d simply suggest adhering to the terms, rules, and laws as best you can but realize that you’re going to make mistakes and have disagreements. Do the best you can, learn as much as you can, and spread kindness rather than judgment. Not every author you meet has the knowledge and access to the same education as you do. If you see someone struggling offer advice and a helping hand or walk away rather than threaten, resort to group mobs, and cancelling people. Not everyone thinks, feels, and believes the same, and if free speech is to truly be free then our levels of patience, tolerance, and understanding need to reflect our acceptance of another’s right to speak freely. There are boundaries and limits of course, but that’s what the mute and block buttons are for. Opinion and fact are not the same, and people are complex and dynamic. Compassion is essential in the writing field.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      Most of my ideas stem from thoughts and inspirations I had since I was a kid, and I simply attach new experiences and concepts to them. For this reason, I don’t struggle as much with writer’s block as much as I do with organizing my thoughts and ideas coherently. I typically write an overview to keep organized, and then write without editing until I have a first draft. Next, I edit over and over again until my work is the best quality I can produce. If I’m still willing to re-read and edit my work for the fifth, hundredth, or umpteenth time, then I know it’s a good enough story to publish because I’m still interested in reading the same story. My quickest turn around for a first draft is a week for 30 poems and a month for a 100K word novel, but a polished draft can take a month or years depending on the story.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      My toughest struggle continues to be discerning between good and bad advice for fellow authors, especially newbie and indie authors. It is a struggle to sift between what a writer needs to do, should do, and should never do. Even giving advice as an author can be tough because what works for me might not work for someone else. Writing much like life involves a constant learning process. If I may share one tip it is to be kind to yourself and others. As perfect as you want everything, and as much as you want everything to go as you envision, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. If you can make it through the writing process, through every obstacle and challenge, and if you can handle criticism with maturity and grace then you will grow stronger as a writer and as a person. No matter what, you and your story are worth being heard.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      Absolutely. I have experienced thrilling moments that made me love every day, and I have had moments that made me want to quit writing and never read another book again in my life. I have experienced the same extreme emotions while writing as well where every emotion pours out of me on every page. Therapeutic as that can be, I do suggest allowing time to go through each emotion. Allow yourself as a budding writer to process every step of the writing to marketing process.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      Even though there are times I wish certain things had taken a different route I don’t know that I would change anything because I’ve learnt so much. I believe you meet who you meet and you go through what you do for a reason, and it can all work to help one improve and grow as a person. No route will ever be perfect, and no decision made (good or bad) will ever be without consequence. Nothing can change the past, but working on improving the present, hopefully will mean a better tomorrow.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      I believe one of the biggest myths is that you can write and publish a book and make tons of money from it. Most authors barely cover the costs invested in publishing, especially as an Indie. Also, another myth is that popular authors are the best authors around. Some of the (depending on your definition of success) most successful and greatest authors (as people and writers) are the yet-to-be-discovered gems. I recommend taking a chance on authors with intriguing book covers, good blurbs, and interesting sample reads rather than focusing on book reviews, popularity, and ratings.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I will listen to Heavy Metal when writing a battle scene, Alternative Rock and mostly Evanescence when writing a sad emotional scene. Synth or Melancholic Post-Rock for city landscape world-building, and Starset, Svrcina, and Sleeping At Last if my world-building involves distant planets and galaxies. Music, especially during the editing process, transports me to the correct mindset I need to fully immerse in the moment and emotions I hope to capture.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I started writing in 2016 after suffering severe nerve damage. The most comfortable place for me to write at that time was sitting on a bed, which I do not recommend for posture or the neck.  Thank God, I made a full recovery last year, and now write at the dining table or on the couch when our (my husband and my) adopted rescue pup Ava sleeps curled up between my legs. Once a dog falls asleep it’s an unspoken rule that moving is out of the question. I’m able to write a lot until Ava wakes up. I don’t mind that she interrupts my writing, watching her heal and grow is worth every second, and she fills our home with so much love. I wouldn’t trade my precious time with my husband and her, not even for a writer’s award or movie deal. For me true success is the love and joy shared with others, and there’s no greater blessing from God than the love and support of my Hubs and our pup. Everything else is an extra added bonus.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: William Joseph Hill, Sci-fi/Action

William Joseph Hill,  Sci-fi/action author of CYBER FIGHTER, adapted from his original feature film screenplay

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I actually began writing stories in second grade, writing my own sci-fi stories inspired by my favorite TV show Space: 1999.  Most of my elementary school stories dealt with Commander Koenig from the show piloting the Eagle 1 to other planets.  Then Star Wars came out, and that got me dreaming about becoming a filmmaker.  When my family moved to Hawaii, I started writing and creating my own movies once I got into high school.  At the same time, I began training in martial arts.  My high school adventures that I wrote were very much “ninja epics”.  In fact, I actually made a ninja movie between junior and senior years.  I knew I wanted to have a career in Hollywood, so when I went to college, I took a lot of writing courses which helped me develop my craft.  Once I made the move to Hollywood, I started acting in film and TV professionally, while also writing on the side.  I was hired to write a few screenplays and started writing my own specs, including CYBER FIGHTER which began as a feature script before I turned that into the novel.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      I started adapting my screenplay to novel form in 2018.  I finished it and first published on Amazon in November 2019.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:   The process from writing first draft to publishing took about a year and a half.  Most of the work was done in rewrites and editing.  Of course, since I was adapting the novel from my feature screenplay, getting that first draft out wasn’t too hard, as the story structure and characters were all there.  

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      You always learn from past experience.  Right now (along with pre-production on a short film version of CYBER FIGHTER) I’m working on mapping out Book 2 in the CYBER FIGHTER series.  I expect that once that’s written and editing completed, going live with publication will be much quicker than my first book.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’d say more of a hybrid.  Though I began by self-publishing, I’m always open to having a traditional publisher come on board.  My main goal with publishing CYBER FIGHTER is to reach a fan base that will want to see the feature film. 

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I begin with what motivates me; what I like.  I love sci-fi and action movies, everything from Star Wars to Star Trek, to classic written sci-fi from H.G. Wells, Issac Azimov, Ray Bradbury, among others.  I grew up loving martial arts and action movies too.  Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are major influences in my action sequences.  I also like humor in the Monty Python vein, and works like Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Folks who enjoy those kinds of works are who I’m targeting with CYBER FIGHTER.   

What is your publishing process?

Author:    After writing my draft in a Word Document (or Google Docs), I will import it into Kindle Create, where I can format the book for both Kindle and paperback/hardcover.    

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I’ve been exclusively using Amazon as I found it to be the easiest platform to self-publish.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I have many writer friends here in Hollywood and often get feedback from them.  I also hired an editor, Christina Gray on CYBER FIGHTER who did a great job with corrections, edits and feedback as well.  It really pays off to hire an editor if you can.  You need a second set of eyes looking at your manuscript in order to find things that you will definitely miss, no matter how many times you comb over it.

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Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      I mainly use this program called StoryOrigin, which helps authors build mailing lists, get reviews and help with direct marketing by swapping newsletter mentions and promos with other authors.  I send out a monthly newsletter on the 30th of each month to share my recent news, or blog post articles that I write.  I also include other authors’ books in these, and they share my content as well.  It’s really helped me build my mailing list.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      For my next book, I plan on having beta readers do advance reviews for me, and I will also be doing pre-launch promotion via social media and such.  Now that I’ve built up a bit of a following, I can reach out to them first with my new works.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:    I’ve gotten reviews through StoryOrigin, and also by hiring a publicist.   I’ve been working with Charles Barrett of The Barrett Company, and it’s really helped get CYBER FIGHTER out there. 

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Along with StoryOrigin and my publicist, I do periodic social media postings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  These generally help promote my film projects as well as my book.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Persistence is probably the best thing you can do.  Be willing to try different things and never give up.  Keep going till you find something that works, but don’t spend lots of money in the process.  Start with marketing you can do yourself and gradually bring on publicists when you can afford it. 

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Being able to make your living 100 percent from writing.  If you can sell enough books to pay your bills, and also land other writing gigs, I think that is the dream for most authors. 

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I am mainly an actor and screenwriter, but have delved into writing fiction novels and short stories. 

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I love writing sci-fi and action/military.  I grew up as a Navy Brat in Hawaii, so the military is a big part of my heritage and I like to incorporate it into many of my stories.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      I’m the action-comedy guy.  It began from my actor branding and is the most popular thing I do.  I get lots of positive feedback from it and it just comes naturally to me, most likely from what I cultivated growing up in Hawaii and making my own kung-fu/ninja/sci-fi movies.

How many works have you published?

Author:      So far, I’ve published CYBER FIGHTER the novel, and a comic book adaptation as well, which is based on my short film script concept for the main book.  I have also performed and produced the audio book for CYBER FIGHTER too.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      CYBER FIGHTER is the story of a clumsy temp Brian Baldwin who takes a job at defense contractor Kirkman Enterprises, where he volunteers to test their latest software program on himself by getting black belt fighting skills downloaded directly to his brain via a Virtual Reality immersive experience, turning him into a human weapon.

When Brian discovers that the eccentric main programmer Humbert Cloogey has sold him off to the Army for induction, he makes his escape, assisted by his only ally Dr. Kate Rand,  a neuroscientist who works for the company, but who has some secrets herself.

Simultaneously as Brian is undergoing the experiment, a Triad crime boss and part-time cloning engineer Lau Xiaoming, operating out of North Korea, hacks into the U.S. server hosting the software, planting a Trojan program into Brian’s brain that holds the secret to “Project Starfish”, his plan for world domination.

Brian finds himself pursued by not only the U.S. Army, and FBI, but also by Xiaoming and his minions, all looking to grab him for their own exploits.

The core of my story is Brian’s journey, going from a middle-aged man who gave up on his dreams, to suddenly finding himself empowered with skills he never thought he’d ever achieve.  Almost overnight he acquires an almost superhero status.  But he discovers that he apparently hasn’t achieved any more control over his life than before.  In fact, his life seems pretty much out of control now.

My message to the readers is to not just keep dreaming, but also be prepared for when you do achieve those dreams.  Because there will be forces out there looking to use you for their own means.  This story is also a satire on the U.S.’s military industrial complex and how it’s run almost like a corporate entity – completely profit driven.  I’m also sending up popular action movie tropes in a fun, comic-book way.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      My common elements include action sequences and humor. A lot of my humor comes from growing up in Hawaii.  Martial arts are a big part of local culture, and that’s where I began my own training.  I also like to incorporate some references to my upbringing by giving a character a name from Hawaii Pidgin English.  For example, in a screenplay I was hired to write years ago, I named one of the villains Hanabata, which is a Hawaii term for the snot that comes out of your nose.  It’s an inside joke to fellow Kama’ainas (a Hawaiian term for residents).  Hawaii and its culture are such a big part of who I am today, even though I was born on the mainland.  Whenever I can infuse a bit of it into my writing or film projects, it helps to personalize them.

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What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      My main goal was to just build an audience for CYBER FIGHTER, an audience to anticipate the feature film.  But I’ve enjoyed writing a novel so much that I plan on writing the next two books in the trilogy, even before any of them are made into a film.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:      I have a YouTube channel, Four Scorpio Productions (http://youtube.com/fourscorpio).  I put a lot of CYBER FIGHTER content there, as well as our web series That Darn Girlfriend, which I’ve created with my lovely and talented actress wife Pamela Hill.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      I’m hoping that my readers have fun reading the story and have a few good laughs, along with being thrilled by the action sequences I have in the story.   I’d also like them to think about the scientific possibilities that the story explores.  As we spend more and more of our lives online, the idea that you could learn skills via Virtual Reality is becoming less science fiction and closer to actuality.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Marketing!  There’s just so much out there to learn how to get my book to reach a wider audience.  The challenge is finding where your readers like to hang out online, and how to reach out to them organically without trying to hard-sell them.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      I really enjoy writing.  The process of creating characters and exciting adventures has always been fun.  It’s the most creative part of the process; I can focus on the artistic expression rather than the business part of publishing.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I follow Dave Chesson, the Kindlepreneur, both on his YouTube channel and his website.  He’s got a lot of great content to help you self-publish, especially his free AMS Ads course

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      The closest book that I read similar to my story is Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.  It deals with virtual reality and 80s pop-culture references too, elements that are also in CYBER FIGHTER.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:   I’ve always loved science fiction.  One of my favorite novels is H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine; it’s where I first fell in love with the time travel theme, even before Back to the Future came out.    I also loved reading Asimov’s short stories, and Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I tend to be more plot oriented, but I often find that I will hit writer’s block when I focus too much on the plot.  That’s when I’ll switch gears and become more of a pantser, writing a passage or two as a character, giving their inner thoughts.  When I write by the seat of my pants, it tends to go a lot quicker, for some reason.  Probably because it’s a stream-of-consciousness method.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      I use StoryOrigin to network with other authors, mainly with my newsletter swaps.  I also use Facebook, more so with my acting contacts, but also a few writers there as well.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      It really depends.  Some days I crank out a lot, others I can’t do more than a paragraph.  So, it would probably average out to a “sprinting turtle”.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Self-doubt.  That fear that you have that no one will be interested in your work.  The inner critic that tries to sabotage you from accomplishing your aims.  I have to consciously keep plugging away and not let those doubts take over.  If you go step by step, you will become an author.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      Along with those self-doubts, it can be frustrating when you face the fact that you are trying to get your work out there amidst all of the noise competing for attention.  It can be easy to get discouraged.  Just keep plugging away, and you will get your first book done.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      While writing your book, learn as much as you can about self-publishing.  In many ways, it’s the best way to get your work out there.  I recommend Dave Chesson’s Kindlepreneur website and YouTube channel; it was a big help to me.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:     I would have definitely had my editor go over my manuscript before I had imported it and edited with Kindle Create.  Since she didn’t have that software, I had to give her a PDF to work from, which was more difficult as she couldn’t add notes directly in the document file.  That probably would have streamlined the publishing process.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I am indeed driven and self-advocating, but I have to give a large amount of credit to my wife Pamela who is really good with PR and she will often encourage me to take new steps with promotion.  She was the one who found me my publicist and gave me the encouragement to reach out to them. 

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      By creating a schedule and sticking to it best I can.  But I try not to beat myself up about coming up short.  Writing is a process; if you can’t enjoy the journey, then you should try and do something else.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      If I have writer’s block, I’ll try to focus on the world-building aspect of the story I’m working on.  Maybe write up a backstory or bio on my characters; often that will help jump-start ideas for my plot.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      I knew nothing about ISBN numbers, how you get them from Bowker, what they are, and how Amazon has their own ASIN numbers that you can use instead.  I did a lot of research about them so that I could understand them better.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      They actually really enjoyed my book a lot.  Even those who really weren’t into the martial arts genre; it was a nice surprise.  I’ve had some family and friends tell me that they’ve re-read CYBER FIGHTER multiple times.  That really means a lot to me.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      Oh, the biggest myth about writers and authors would probably be how they’re all introverted hermits.  That misconception comes from just a part of the process where you have to be a bit of a hermit when you’re writing, but the rest of your day is spent just like anyone else.  We like physical activity – I continue my martial arts and fitness training five days a week.  So that keeps me balanced.

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Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I love listening to movie or video game soundtracks as I write.  I try to listen to something that gives me the feeling of the genre I’m writing in.  So it can vary from an orchestral soundtrack to a more electronica sound.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:     In CYBER FIGHTER I had one of my characters, the bombastic Buzz Kirkman, CEO of Kirkman Enterprises use one of my dad’s (who was a Navy Captain) favorite sayings:  “No doubt about that in my military mind.”    I also have a reference to the old G.I. Joe cartoons from the 80s:  “Know I know…and knowing is half the battle.”

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I can write anywhere I can bring my laptop, though usually at my kitchen table.  But I’ve also written while acting in film/TV projects, from the green room or my trailer in between filming my scenes.  There’s a lot of downtime for an actor, and that’s a great way to get lots of writing done.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:     I’m reading Rising Wind by Dick Couch.  He’s a former Navy SEAL and this story takes place partially on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor where I grew up in Hawaii.  In fact, the author was stationed on Ford Island at the same time I was living there.  So, it’s really cool to read a book with real locations that I actually know!

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      I’m more about pop culture tropes; I’ll often put those into my writing as a fun “easter egg” reference.  Like the G.I. Joe catchphrase, or the classic Kung Fu movie tropes I infused into CYBER FIGHTER.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:  The more I infuse my upbringing into my work, the more original it becomes.  I consider my growing up in Hawaii not only the most influential time in my life, but also what separates me from other creative artists out here in Hollywood.        

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:    I think what director Bong-Joon Ho said when he won the Oscar for Best Director: “The most personal is the most creative”.  That is so true; it’s what makes each author unique.    

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:   A great cup of coffee, especially when I start in the morning.  Later on in the day I love to munch on pretzels and drink flavored seltzer water.  

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:   I’m a solo act when it comes to writing novels.  But my wife Pamela and I both write the episodes for our sitcom web series That Darn Girlfriend. That show is an homage to classic 1960s/70s sitcoms.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:    This goes back to when I was studying acting.  An acting coach once told me that the parts of myself that I wanted to hide were actually the most compelling and interesting parts of me, and what would make me relatable to an audience.  To embrace vulnerability and be willing to share that is what makes your work unique and interesting.

Author Website:     http://williamjosephhill.com and http://fourscorpio.com (production company website)

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CYBER FIGHTER the novel on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081SJRMJ1

The comic book adaptation: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZL6X6W6

My YouTube channel for Four Scorpio Productions:  http://youtube.com/fourscorpio

SFF FLEET

Character Post: Sgt. Jameson Bennett on the “Universal Protectors” & Futuristic Earth

I had so much fun writing this from the perspective of one of my main characters, Sgt. Jameson Bennett. The thirdbook of the Infinite Spark series is primarily about his character, but this post starts back before the first novel, Stellar Fusion. I hope you enjoy it!

See the original post here: Character Guest Post: Sergeant Jameson Bennett of E.L. Strife’s STELLAR FUSION

Welcome to Earth, 2901, where all humans, no matter of demographics, are equally valued members of society. The Three Hundred Year War, World War Five, nearly destroyed civilization. We crawled from the rubble and toxic land, leaving behind our prejudices, concerned only with survival.

Earth’s continents are no longer divided into countries, only topographical zones. There are no governments or kingdoms ruled by the few. Every vote is equal, every voice heard. There is peace.

But peace has a price.

The Three Hundred Year War created many orphans like those on my team, including myself. It continues to do so as people are exposed to the toxins in our natural resources. We have relocated most of our villages and are rebuilding our cities. But farms need clean acreage we struggle to find. The average lifespan fell in the early years after the war but continues to improve as we find better ways to manage what limited land remains.

Us orphans are taken in as children and trained to be shepherds of Earth’s single force of law: the Universal Protectors. UP is an organization that formed in the ashes of war. It is our duty to protect the people of this healing planet. The instigators of the war do not wish it to end. Their rebel forces, known as the Kronos Clan, must be stopped.

UP protects what is most precious: the life-spark—the beat of a heart.

Our system of discipline is simple. An individual will be punished in a manner relating to how they harm others. If an individual darkens an innocent’s spark—kills another person—then they are executed.

Few escape our Human Cataloging system. Every human is registered at birth and receives a tracking device that relays the location and basic functions of the owner. As expected, some do not agree with the H.Co. procedures, preferring freedom instead of safety and order.

It is human nature to want love, acceptance, and comfort. For some, power is their driving force, like Krage, the leader of Kronos. He’s as bloodthirsty as they come, using women and children as body shields when confronted by us. He likes his crews to poison their bullets. We’ve lost a lot of good soldiers to him.

Shepherds are forbidden from emotion, high levels of adrenaline, friendship. Our Command does not permit us to mate or have families. My comrades are the family I can’t talk about.
The jobs we do require our minds to be focused and unbiased. Command puts us on serum as children. It stunts our ability to feel, keeping us neutral in our opinions and strong in our fight.

I am the only one who resists. 

Command doesn’t know that my body requires a higher dose. Rio, the serum’s creator, is my Instructor and guiding shepherd. He keeps secrets for me so I may do what must be done. I am Command’s most effective guard. I am also the oldest recruit on record, signing on at seventeen.

My father was a member of the Shepherds United, the predecessor to UP. He died when I was young. My mother and little brother passed soon after in a house fire—a fire I ran through, chasing their cries for an hour without acquiring a single burn.

At eight, I knew I was different.

Not all of Earth is as wonderful as our impartial system makes it seem. I knew the locals would still find me different, so I ran, let them think I was dead like my family. Years, I was homeless. I begged, stole, fought in knock-pits, and lied to survive. All of my team grew up in similarly rough situations.

Sergeant Steven Cutter is our most calm and controlled team member. He entered the program at just five years old.

I know some of you have heard of mysterious occurrences around the planet: fire-eaters, rock-crawlers, people whose skin has taken on metallic or other inhuman tints, those who learn dozens of languages in a short time, and the increasing incidents of clairvoyance and rumored telepathy. I assure you, Universal Protectors are looking into these things. My Command has expressed their current belief is that they are mutations caused by the toxins in our resources. I disagree, but it is not my place to speak on that matter. I’m a Team Leader, not a member of Command.

We’re more concerned with the massive structure which appeared in Earth’s orbit only moments ago.  I’m receiving word it has unleashed hundreds of smaller vessels—and pillars like sky-scrapers that are landing on the planet.

They’re burrowing into the surface!

The ships are capturing people!

We have to return to base and gear up! Thank you all for attending! I recommend you hurry home, get comfy, and pick up a copy of Stellar Fusion to find out more about our new world and the threat unfolding in our galaxy.

Josie, rack up! I need you and Panton on the transport guns. Tanner and Cutter, find us a route back that avoids these alien vessels. We can’t draw attention to ourselves until Command approves us to engage!

Control has requested all available forces on Home Station. Stick to the shadows! Cloak the ship! We have minutes to pack before we punch out of Ocean Base Thirty-three. Let’s move!

Title: STELLAR FUSION
Author: E.L. Strife
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 330
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy
 

This isn’t the first invasion. This time, they’re taking everything… and everyone.

Earth, still patching itself together from the 300 Years War, is severely unprepared and outnumbered when the invasion hits. Their only hope is a small team of soldiers on a suicide mission to infiltrate the mothership and relay critical defense information home.

The last survivor of the first encounter can’t explain why she knows what she does. Sergeant Nakio Atana is the Universal Protectors’ elite assassin and holds within a spark of unimaginable power. But a daring escape from an enemy ship knocked the first fifteen years of her life into darkness, leaving her with only inexplicable apathy and technical knowledge beyond Earth’s evolution.

What she is can change their future.

Sergeant Bennett must guard her with his life.

Together, Atana and Bennett lead the team in hopes her knowledge, and his crew’s skills, will render them a soft spot in the alien armor. What they find when they reach the mothership is entirely unexpected. The truth they uncover will challenge the code they live by and their concepts of the power within.

PRAISE:
“Stellar Fusion is the work of a new aspiring writer with a penchant for exploring possibilities of future life for humankind. Good versus evil, loyalty, truth, integrity, and the power of strength, love, and hope are all masterfully interwoven into this inaugural novel by E.L. Strife. With the age-old theme of making the world a better place, Strife casts her characters in the spotlight as they embrace survival on the planet. Stellar Fusion offers readers an opportunity to look to the future and reflect on what is most important to ensure the happiness, success, and survival of the human race.”
-Amazon Customer

“Great book. Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fast-paced sci-fi action with moments that slow to profoundly grab your heart and draw you into the characters’ lives. Looking forward to reading book 2 when it’s released.”
-Amazon Customer

Order Your Copy

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2PfzdP

Book Reviews

Book Review: Edge of the Flame by James Aichinger

Book Review: Edge of the Flame by James Aichinger

4 Stars

“…A tense, intricately woven story challenging the ideas of freedom and fate.”

I love books that start off in media res. Edge of the Flame drops you right down into a source of trauma for our main character, Adanis. There are lots of great action sequences. Edge of the Flame features: cyber hacking, spaceships, magical powers, holographic weapons, mind games, mysterious yet justified villains, insane twists, and a main character who experiences a fate-altering transformation by the end. Tension builds and fades in dramatic crescendos while continuously building up to the last pages.

Aichinger does wonders in his descriptions with relatable similes and metaphors to explain new concepts to his readers. His first book tackles many intense concepts of psychological theory, primarily fear, but also the intricate—and often deliberated—concepts of reality, connection to the universe, and how humans are linked to other life forms.

It features some creative magical powers and traditional ones and delves into the development of them—everything from pyrotelekinesis to gravity manipulation. There are characters with controlled telepathy reminiscent of the dark force from Star Wars. I enjoyed the way magic’s expenditure is explained—how it is a limited force that must be regenerated, much akin to health. There are always stakes and obstacles and reminders of mortality.

There’s a steady amount of information on the species and historical battles without being too concentrated or lacking in description. Edge of the Flame includes tons of backstabbing alliances, personal agendas, and physical/mental/political battles for power, to the point where you can’t figure out what’s going to happen next. Aichinger then tops off the delightful madness by throwing in several mysterious conversations between the antagonist and others which adds a nice element of tension to the enigma of Adanis’s situation.

Edge of the Flame quickly becomes a tense, intricately woven story challenging the ideas of freedom and fate. At the end is an unpredictably sharp turn but leaves the reader with a balance of resolution and questions, calling us on to the second book.

It is definitely a unique read. There aren’t any chapters, more like phases/scenes of the story. Aichinger narrates from multiple character perspectives, which adds an element reminiscent of the big screen, but at times (for me) was distracting because some scenes are short-lived.

Edge of the Flame is dialogue-heavy and full of formalities and explanations, which helps with understanding all of the wars and other past events. The story takes a bit of time to build speed, but when it kicks off, it doesn’t stop.

There are lots of characters in a wide variety of personalities and species from humans to lizard-like Hadraaks and feline sorts. My personal favorite was the robot, Op-Tech, because I’m a sucker for the comedian character and for adorable robots. Edge of the flame is a lot to read, but very rewarding in the end. I look forward to reading book 2 when it’s out!

Amazon:

$2.99 US eBook: Edge of the Flame

£1.99 UK eBook: Edge of the Flame

Website: https://www.edgeoftheflame.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamesAichinger

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Shattered Glass by Skip Schmidt

Five Stars

On Amazon

An extraordinary blend of historical and science fiction…

Schmidt’s work delves into past and present day Germany with vivid descriptions and deeply woven political plots. Shattered Glass is full of unexpected twists and suspense that will keep you turning every page. Anyone that enjoys time travel and mysteries, will find this entertaining.

A dive into the Einstein-Rosen bridge theory, Shattered Glass introduces us to two time frames, 1938 Nazi-Germany and the year 2013. We follow Lieutenant Eugen Scheele in the past as he tries to uncover the truth about Captain Kreider’s disappearance, whilst his great-nephew, Inspector Willi Scheele, must ascertain the appearance of Kreider in near present day.

Shattered Glass is a trip back inside the world of Nazi-Germany and the struggle of all who suffered from and were opposed to their reign. The stakes are high with lives hanging on Eugen’s and Willi’s next moves. But anything can happen in war.

Schmidt spares no detail. It is a thrilling ride with murder investigations, dark humor, sex, and constant edge-of-your-seat political tension.

You won’t expect what happens at the end.

Schmidt’s written voice can be enjoyed by the average reader and appreciated by those who like a more… perspicacious approach. Shattered Glass is not a fast or disposable read. It is something you want to sit down and absorb. The characters are genuine—their actions unpredictable and their emotions and relationships as organic as any in real life.

I recommend this work to those who are fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

Looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Amazon

Goodreads

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Teleporter By Lee Hall

Book Review: The Teleporter By Lee Hall (4 Stars)

A humorously crass story of a drunkard turned superhero.

Hall has created a realistic world in which corporations hold the power and the common man has little control over his own life, until fate elects a portion and hands it over in the form of teleportation karma. The transformation of our main character, Kurt, is depicted with a perfect amount of stumbles, physical and emotional, and leaves us rooting for him as he finds his new place in society.

The voice isn’t hindered by formalities; it is free and true to character and, yes, littered with curses. But it fits so perfectly with Kurt’s sarcastic/apathetic personality that it is hard to be bothered by it.

The story picks up quickly and doesn’t linger too long in any one scene. Hall has done a great job at keeping a smooth pace and throwing in just enough detail to encourage us to continue reading without bogging us down. If you’re not used to reading an Irish accent, give it a chapter or two.

The Teleporter was a fun ride that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys shorter scifi stories involving average-joe superheros, technology, and characters that simultaneously banter and care.

Summary (Spoiler Alert!):

The beginning might throw you for a loop because it sounds a lot like the author is breaking the fourth wall. That’s how genuine the voice of our main character, Kurt, is. And he is a complete drunk, a jerk, and is funny as hell. With a love life and a job that are both dead-ends, Kurt relies on booze and his imagination for entertainment. But like all superheroes, Kurt has an endearing quality. Beneath all the swears and drink, he has a conscience and doesn’t truly want anyone to get hurt. He just doesn’t know anything different.

Kurt works for a company called Liqui-tech as essentially their social media marketer/outreach guy. During a planned media event, Kurt runs into his next-door neighbor, Casey. As a journalist, she’s a skeptic and can’t believe their company’s teleportation project doesn’t produce any toxic waste. When Kurt is assigned media coverage for that specific project, Casey’s words get to him. He finds himself soon doing his own recon and, inevitably, succumbing to a vat of the liquid… and scrambling out of the opposite tank.

After sleeping for several days, Kurt awakens to discover he can teleport around his house just by thinking about the refrigerator etc. Learning to teleport and keep his clothes on is a trick he has to learn the hard way. And, ironically, his beloved alcohol is his kryptonite. This made the character’s struggle much more complicated. He can no longer rely on his usual “out” and must learn to cope with his new life on his own. In his jubilee over becoming a superhero, he goes out and makes a big deal about being a superhero in front of a bar full of people. But his efforts in protecting a girl—who’d had her drink spiked—prove he is worthy of said powers.

Teaming up with Casey across the hall, they return to Liqui-tech to search for evidence they can use to hold Mr. Williams, the owner, accountable for. His family owns most of the town, and they disrespect most of the people they come into contact with. Casey and Kurt are caught and put through their own interrogation. Kurt is beaten and thrown out, which brings him new perspective on the divide between upper and lower classes. Emotional over the matter, Kurt returns to his favorite bar and basically tells everyone the teleporter thing was a stunt and they should all go home instead of spending the night out drinking. As mentioned before, Kurt has a heart, though sometimes it can seem buried.

On a walk, Kurt meets two old men, one of which he defends from Mr. William’s entitled brat-of-a-son and takes quite a beating for it. The other who offers Kurt some wisdom on the matter of his skill set. Feeling empowered again, Kurt records a video threat to Mr. Williams and begins practicing his teleporting skills for means of hand-to-hand combat.

A group of his closest companions gather around him demanding it is time for some action because Casey has been taken. They end up infiltrating Liqui-tech with literally no plan. Finding Casey is the next experiment and that Mr. Williams as created teleportation biotech for himself, the crew is thrown into a frenzied series of attacks and defenses ultimately ending in the testing facility. There, Casey is subjected to the teleportation tanks plus a car battery. When she emerges again from the muck as Kurt holds her, she is shot twice… and uncovers her own ability. She’s bulletproof.

Kurt’s former supervisor (before being fired from Liqui-tech), Marcus, ends up being a member of the FBI and has recorded everything. William’s is taken away, and Marcus therein becomes the mentor/guide to Kurt and Casey.

Personal Thoughts:

This book was hilarious, though I’m not usually a laugh-out-loud type. I’m more of the chuckle type. The emotional range didn’t include major moments of anger (which I think would’ve completed the spectrum), but this made for an easier, laid-back type of read.

It was entertaining to find a book about a realistic man that had something supernatural happen to him. We all want to feel like there is this possibility, this hope, that some miracle will pull us out of the muck of everyday life, and we’ll be able to finally change the world. All too often superheroes are from rich families or royalty or gods. Kurt is an unlikely option in our stereotypical world. But here, we get to see him in action. Hope and humor thrive together in The Teleporter.

The Teleporter on Amazon

Goodreads

https://leehallwriter.com/

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Asrian Skies By Anne Wheeler

Book Review:

Asrian Skies By Anne Wheeler (4 stars)

(Shadows of War Book 1)

If you like clean, character-driven, female protagonist Sci-Fi, you will enjoy this!

Wheeler has done an amazing job throwing in twists and betrayals like no other. She is a master of interrogation sessions and politics. A perfect blend of easy-to-read sentences with somewhat advanced language makes this a comfortable read. Her scene-setting and world-building are fantastic and mixed into the storyline in ideally sized chunks. Her characters stand out as quite unique from one another.

The action and suspense are well-proportioned to keep the pages turning. There is something magical about the way Wheeler weaves interpersonal details into the main character’s storyline. Some components are predictable, others are wildly not, which makes for an ideal mind game for the reader.

Readers that prefer clean books, both spiritual and not, would like this.  A character-driven story, Asrian Skies delves into the life of Avery Rendron in the beginning and doesn’t slow down until the major action begins about half-way through. Though mild skirmishes dot the initial first half and propel our reading, the midpoint is a major inflection, and the action takes off. While there is mild violence, there is no cursing and no intimacy. Respect and honor are underlying themes which Wheeler has filtered in through her character’s actions and dialogue.

Summary: (Spoiler Alert)

Avery Rendron is a lieutenant for the Commonwealth on Ventana and a princess on her home planet of Asria. After a space-flight training mission goes awry, Rendron finds herself being summoned home and her status as an officer revoked. Her uncle has fled to an enemy planet, and her brother is a deserter. Rendron doesn’t want the life of a royal either: its expectations, rules, or the emphasis on faith.

Returning home does provide an opportunity to see her former love-interest, Merritt Parker. But his job as senior aid to General Teruel, and his connection to the military, take priority—though not in his heart.

An invasion by the enemy, the Haederans, catches Asria off guard. Asria prefers its isolation despite its allegiance to the Commonwealth. Their technology is advanced, yet they cannot understand how the Haederan ships evaded their scanners.

Governor Perrin and his Haederan army take control of Asria like they have many planets, but with mildly less aggression. They attempt to manipulate Rendron into working with them so as to make her people willingly surrender to Haederan rule. But Rendron is too stubborn.

Rendron finds herself working in the shadows for Hadley and Feye, two off-worlders seeming to want to help. Because they are skilled in military maneuvers beyond her grasp, she accepts her role and begins recon to gain any information she can to assist the few rebels in finding a weakness in the Haederan forces.

Escaping with the information she uncovers is a tricky skill Rendron repeatedly fails to acquire until the Haederans grow weary of her disobedience and lock her away.

Beaten and torn inside, Rendron begins to find her faith again. Hadley infiltrates the Haederan guards and manages to steal Rendron in a Nightflier, and they head out on their quest to find a data chip she sent out with her most trusted personal guard just before being imprisoned. But betrayal soon catches up with her, and Rendron ends up walking right back into enemy-occupied territory.

The Haederans have acquired the chip and, with no other use for her, put her on a transport to a ship in orbit. Destined for Haedera, Rendron grows restless for an escape and steals a Haederan fighter. In a daring move, she flies out of the mothership and fakes out the fighters that follow. Bolting out into space, she loses consciousness and blacks out.

Rendron is picked up by a Commonwealth scout ship, the only one close enough to help though not big enough to fight the Haederan fleet beyond. She explains what she’s learned, but they already know everything. Yet having a Haederan ship with a functioning stealth cloak is the key turning point, providing a functioning example of how the Haederans have evaded their scanners and therefore a way to gain equality on the battlefield.

As our main character comes to be the last remaining member of the royal family, she assumes the duties of Queen of Asria. She will no longer fly as an officer and knows this as her duty. Taking charge of the hand she is dealt, Rendron decides she must return home, to Asria.

We are left with the notion that Rendron has put aside her personal dreams so she may do what is best for her people. She no longer wishes to avoid Asria, but return to it, despite its Haederan occupation and rule. Rendron now fights for something greater than herself.

Personal Thoughts:

Hadley was by far my favorite character. He’s an intense, hard man, with (I think) a secret soft side to him. His actions and expressions stand out the most in my mind. He felt the most real of the characters to me because he was steady in his convictions and duty.

I tend to be an impatient reader, more concerned with fast-moving works with lots of tech, weapons, and action. But I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was a nice change of pace and allowed me to slow down and take in the scenery.

Something that stuck out to me was when Rendron thinks about how often she brags of her mother’s gardens while proceeding to pick all of the petals off of a flower—in effect, killing it. In retrospect, I see that moment now as foreshadowing (because her mother dies), but at the time I felt confused. How could Rendron love her mother while destroying something her mother worked hard to grow? Either way, it seems like an interesting symbolic reference at the end. These are the details that made me stop and really think about the story. If a book can make us pause and play with the characters in our own minds, I call that a good read!

Find it on Amazon

Goodreads

Anne Wheeler’s Website

If you like this book, Unbroken Fire is book 2 in the Shadows of War series. Find it on Amazon here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Imprint By Nicholas Adams

Imprint By Nicholas Adams (5 stars)

If you liked Ex Machina, you will like this.

Overview: (spoiler alert)

Imprint follows Malcolm as he tries to find a solution for a debilitating and life-threatening side-effect of the synthetic organs he designed. His wife is the last remaining test subject in a world that destroyed itself thinking “The Scald” was a plague. The Scald is the term for the burns which appear sometime after a synthetic organ transplant has occurred. Good intentions aren’t always enough.

Limited to a bed of gel to support her fragile, disintegrating body, Malcom’s wife, Cynthiana, can no longer participate in daily activities. After being given a week to find a cure for his fatal mistake, at the Warden’s threat of execution, Malcolm attempts to build Cynthiana a new body through which she can wirelessly transmit conscious action and, in a manner, live again.

But the created anthropomorphic being begins to act of its own accord while Cynthiana isn’t conscious. Malcolm studies his wife’s neural activity, attempting to find a connection between the waking sessions and odd behaviors of “Synthia.” It isn’t until he and Synthia are alone that he uncovers the imprinting of personality, interests, behaviors, etc of his wife within the constructed AI. What Synthia does after is unexpected and unpredictable.

This is an easy, short read (novella). I had no trouble following the storyline. I enjoyed the addition of the Canadian French in Malcolm’s wife’s dialogue. Learning a little something while reading for pleasure is a great two-for-one deal. Speaking of pleasure, there are a few steamy scenes, though nothing described in raw detail—a perfect mix.

Definitely cyberpunk/biopunk dystopian fiction. The world in which the story takes place is limited to Malcolm’s residence, specifically his lab, focusing on details of his biomechanical creations. Synthia’s new body is described in wonderful detail, including how she perceives the environment, and him.

Malcolm loves his wife dearly. She is a delight: still actively engaged despite her failing body, reading romances, always attentive to what’s going on when she’s awake. I would fully expect, in any other situation, for her to moan and cry and hate everything because of her state. She strikes me as the strongest of the characters.

The ending, the imprint, is a surprise that couldn’t make more sense. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but I won’t give it away. It evoked some strong feels for Malcolm. Anyone that’s had a spouse with a mysterious illness can probably relate. Their bond is obvious, his dedication to her unmovable. I have missed reading about characters with morals, respect, and true love. …And a future hanging wide-open before me.

 

Personal thoughts:

Only two things mildly bothered me: glazing over the week Malcolm originally had to find a solution or face execution with the mention of three weeks later he’s working on the synth body, and the fact Cythiana’s neural expertise didn’t come into play. I expected the Synthia to start working on a project of her own because of that detail in Cythiana’s opening credits. Maybe she’ll find a solution to download her actual consciousness into the body?! Yes? Please? And then the twist… Ha! Proves just how much I should not let my mind do this while reading. And honestly, the ending was a good one, true to life. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Find it on Amazon

Goodreads

Nicholas Adams Website: http://www.nicholasadamswrites.com/

 

 

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Deep Cosmos

Book Review: Deep Cosmos by Project Kyle
Available on Amazon November 10, 2018

Deep Cosmos follows two main characters, Sophia and Nerd, as they struggle to escape the grasp of Dr. Crimson, Experiment 1, and the lasting effects of the inhumane experiments conducted at Cosmic 5. Nerd has a secret past, buried in betrayal, something Sophia has in common with him. Nerd isn’t who he says he is, nor is his character. Sophia battles with her trust of him after he rescues her from the potential bloody fate Dr. Crimson has in mind for her. And this event breaks the rules of Deep Cosmos, the organization fighting for good, the organization Nerd is a part of.

Kyle does a fantastic job of weaving in almost unnoticeable details that, as the story unfolds, start popping back into mind. There is twist after twist and lots of action. It starts off “in media res” style then carrying you through the backstory. About a third of the way through, you will find the tension picks up with the addition of new characters and stakes, and it doesn’t let up until the very end! Deception is a key part of the villains strengths, making the story unpredictable.

Nerd’s “odd” behavior in relation to other characters is explained further into story. There is a moment where we are given the truth about his unique abilities that makes his character that much more endearing. He has always set himself apart from others, self-isolating in his behavior, until Sophia. But, in true “do no harm” fashion, Nerd is the ultimate doctor, and the hero, in more ways than just this story. His character sets an example as an individual with Asperger’s, who is a kick-butt intellectual, hilarious, caring, and proves he is worth more than what others judge him capable of.

I absolutely love the little details like the Owl Eyes going off randomly, which makes for a brief and comedic ‘oops’ moment. The hallucinations make everyone seem crazy at first, but they tie everything together further in. I really liked this lead-in because of the subtlety.

There were only a few things that left me a tad disconnected from the overall wonderful book. The beginning, while starting with action, fell into a bit of a slump with the “dead space” between major scenes. Sophia is a V. T. C. warrior but came across rather weak until later in the book. And the literary components were sometimes more of a “tell” than a “show.” I didn’t always feel the connection or get inside Nerd or Sophia’s heads to truly feel the rawness of their emotion. But, I must say, there are still several fantastic moments where we really connect emotionally (especially during character secret reveals).

It is a great, clean story. No cursing or gore. It is acceptable for teens and up. It does have a lot of suspense and will make you wonder who’s associated with who and especially who Experiment 1 really is beneath the mask. Nerd’s character changes the most, and rightly so. It was great to see him come out of his shell and learn how to connect with others, even if it was at such a great cost. He shows us how to resist urges, control ourselves, and make better choices.

**** 4 Stars

You can find author Project Kyle here:

Personal website

Twitter: DeepCosmosbook

Amazon