Tag Archives: indies

The LL Book Review & Updates

Just an update that may be of especial interest to the small press, self or independently published authors that I review or who are seeking reviews, I will now also be working with the staff at The LL Book Review group. This means that besides my usual auto feeds to Twitter and Facebook (and wherever else those notices filter down to), as well as my manual uploads to Goodreads and Amazon, reviews may also be posted at LL Book Review.

For those interested in being reviewed directly with their group, please visit their “Pick Me!” page, which allows the author to publicly post a review request and if accepted, check the status of their submission. I thought this was a novel idea which helps the author better understand how to compose a request and what information should be included.

Here’s a link to a great article on their site that can help all authors, whatever your experience level “12 Words Every Writer Should Know and Use”: Creativity, Storytelling, Listen, Surrender, Criticism, Time, Patience, Read, Rejection, Loneliness, Character and Fun.

In any case, The LL Book Review is another reviewing source that isn’t afraid of indie authors and their work, nor looks down on the self-published as unworthy. Believe me, I find some of your work infinitely worthy.

Other updates: Flying With Red Haircrow is again open to review requests. Please read through our Seekers of Review and About Me page to see if you’d like to submit. We are accepting on a case-by-case, limited basis at this time.

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Interview & Review of Natasha Troop’s “Lakebridge: Spring”

Review: Clean, clear, crisp writing about dark magic and sinister scenes that gave me shivers both of pleasure at the sheer skill of the writing and the unpredictable nature of the story itself. Evident from the very start, the author’s plotting and pace was perfect, with visual descriptions that were never overwhelming or heavily wrought. They suited the story’s sense of the macabre on its build to a chilling climax and a resolution that paves the way for the next entry in the Lakebridge Cycle.

Characterization was particularly a high point for me as well. There were a number of different characters interacting over the course of the novel, but each added a unique “flavor” to the narrative. Gil, the main character, was very believable for me, empathetic and distinct. The length of some of the paragraphs was the sole issue I had with Lakebridge: Spring, and unhesitatingly I look forward to the other books in the series. Absolutely thrilled to have been able to review such an outstanding novel.

Description: Vermont, picturesque and lovely, attracts visitors from across the country in search for the perfect picture, the perfect fall foliage or perhaps a taste of maple syrup. Stansbury is best known for the odd covered bridge that spans Stansbury Lake and goes nowhere, connecting no roads and serving no known purpose. The locals call it the Lakebridge. Very few know of its mysterious origins and fewer care to know more.

Those visiting the town perhaps take a few snapshots and leave, their curiosity quelled by an uneasy feeling that they shouldn’t think on it anymore. The tourists will eventually leave Stansbury, but its residents strangely linger, seemingly held captive by a force they barely recognize. They also do not think about the town’s mysterious artifact much except in passing, all but Gil, his father, Ben, and a few others. They know of the bridge’s dark history and understand that it is responsible for every horror that ever befell the people of Stansbury: the people who fear the bridge but will not speak of it.

The bridge makes people do things – bad things – so that it can continue to love and care for them all. Some have tried to destroy the bridge, but as long as the bridge is fed with the lives of the innocents of Stansbury it will go on – loving the people of Stansbury. Lakebridge: Spring is the first of a four book cycle revolving around Stansbury and the Lakebridge.

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback, 260 pages
Published April 25th 2011 by CreateSpace
ISBN 1461122503
ISBN13: 9781461122500
Source: Author

Interview with Natasha Troop

I am pleased to present an interview with Natasha Troop, a transwoman and fellow author.  For more information about her works, please follow the links to her sites:

The site for the Lakebridge Cycle: www.lakebridgecycle.com and Natasha Troop’s blog about being trans virginiastonic.blogspot.com.





What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?


I write across genres, actually. I think if you stick yourself in a particular genre, you limit the scope of your work. I’ve always appreciated authors who escape the confines of bookstore sections and just write their stories as they need to be. I write what I do because an idea takes me and gets under my skin to the point that I have no choice but to get it out.


What do you like to do when you’re not writing?


I love directing plays (which I get to do as part of my teaching), playing with my children, reading and spending quiet evenings with my spouse.


What books are currently on your nightstand?


I just finished Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, which is a brilliant novel. I’m also working my way through Ulysses and a copy of Drood by Dan Simmons is there as well.


Do you remember the first novel you read?


Indeed! It was The Hobbit. I read it when I was 7 years old.


This especially interesting to me, as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was one of my first major reading endeavors as a child.



What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?


It depends on the time of year. But ideally, I write midday for a few hours. I try to set realistic goals, such as writing at least 2000 words a day when I’m on task. If I can stay focused, this is not difficult for me.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


Simple. Write something every day. Even if it’s a blog or a journal. Keep the words flowing. The easiest way to get blocked is to stop writing. It’s always easier to do nothing, so make yourself write something. Make it as important to your day as eating or drinking.


Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing?  Would you be willing to share it?


I have. I was actually working on the next book in my cycle and I had envisioned a character a certain way. But when I started writing him, he took me in an entirely different direction and I was kind of stunned by it because it was so perfect for what I am doing with the books and that when I was outlining the book and the characters, it hadn’t occurred to me was surprising because of how wonderfully it fit.


Thanks for sharing that. It actually made me have shivers of excitement, because that’s such a special moment. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.



What story haven’t you written yet but would like to?  Is there anything holding you back from writing it?


I have two ideas that I have been playing with for some time. One is about the building of a pyramid and the other is about a robot. I love both pyramids and robots for some odd reason and I think it would be a lot of fun to write about either…or both. But not at the same time because the pyramid story would be kind of ruined if the robot was in it and vice versa. I could put one in the other, but not as a central focus. The only thing holding me back from writing them is that I am currently more enthusiastic about the Lakebridge Cycle and want to see it through before I move onto something else.


Do you outline your books or just start writing?


I outline the skeleton of the story as well as write out my character arcs. Once I have that down, I write the novel around it. But the outline is essential because it allows me to keep the story moving towards a goal and it allows me to know when to break a chapter.


If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?  What is your favorite cover of all your paperbacks?


It’s pretty incredible. I cried a little bit when I got the proof for Lakebridge: Spring because it was the culmination of a lot of years of work and there it was, like this magic thing that I had dreamt of and made real. It made me feel like a real girl. I love the cover on Lakebridge. I described it to my friends and they were amazing in how they designed it almost exactly as I described it. There’s a depth to the fog that I adore.



Your Characters



Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?


My characters are drawn from my imagination and then I give them traits from either myself or other people I know. But mostly, I create them from whole cloth and breathe life into them. Once that happens, they tend to take on a life of their own and I let them guide me through the novel as much as my outline does. Occasionally, a character will surprise me and I’ll have to make major adjustments to fit what has come out in the writing. It’s important to remain flexible and open to accommodating what comes out in the writing.


Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?


Nope! I just name them and don’t sweat it. I know people who work hard making their names symbolic or whatnot. I just try not to repeat names and make sure they sound natural for who they are and where they come from.



Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?


I actually have a vampire screenplay I developed with Lions Gate Films a few years back that would make a great movie. Joshua Jackson and Sam Rockwell would be perfect for the leads.



What is your favorite restaurant you can’t do without?


Los Dos Molinos. Seriously, it’s the best Mexican food on the planet. Their carnitas platter is to die for. It’s the only thing that makes Phoenix livable, knowing I can have this near perfect plate of food every once and a while.




Name one website you visit every single day.


www.woobiescookies.com The best cookies in the world. And I’d even say that if I didn’t make them.


What’s the last movie you saw in theaters?


I took my kids to see Cars 2. All I can say was they loved it. And, really, that’s all that matters when you take kids to the movies.


If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?


The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. It’s a complex, gorgeous and emotionally beautiful piece of music. There is no other complete collection of songs that makes me feel as this does. It’s music that washes over you and through you.


What’s the last album you bought?


Ready For This by Tim Minchin. He’s amazing. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s this brilliant Australian satirist and pianist. My spouse an I saw him live a week or so ago and there were times we just watched his hands as he played the piano. I am always awed by people who do what they do at the genius level. When I see it, I get a little jealous, but more than anything, I appreciate what they do and that there are few people who can do it as well.


Who is the sexiest person on TV currently (sitcom, drama, reality show, game show, etc)?


Joshua Jackson. Something about his everything makes me a little weak in the knees.



What is your favorite curse word?


Fuckmare. I invented it actually. As in, “This traffic is a fuckmare.”


Who was the hottest teacher you ever had?


Mrs. Branzei, my 8th grade science teacher. She made science sexy. I remember she met us at a movie theatre to see 2010 and my friends and I were just a little bit jealous of her husband.


How many drinks does it take before you get drunk?


That really depends on the drink, now doesn’t it? I mean, one yard of beer will get me as drunk as, let’s say, two or three vodka tonics. But I rarely drink to the point of being drunk. A glass of cabernet sauvignon is usually all I ever have these days. It’s a nice way to unwind after the business of the day.


Thank you again for such a wonderful interview, Natasha. You made me laugh out loud at some points, and it was just delightful reading your responses.

Best of luck in all your endeavors!

Originally posted at the Swedish online magazine, Queer Magazine Online.



Filed under Horror, Interviews, Reviews, Speculative

Reviews Upcoming This Week & The Rest of July

Just a quick update on reviews that will be posted this week, and then others throughout the month of July. Also, for those writers who’ve submitted a request within the last days (a week or so), I’ll be sending out responses also within this timeframe.

For those seeking a review, don’t forget to put “review request” within the subject as this automatically filters your email into a special folder, and take a little time to read our guidelines to see if your work will be appropriate for this site. I’ve updated a couple of issues that developed regarding religious based material, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. My comments on the topic can be read on a review post here on the site. If you’ll see, the reason why I don’t accept it isn’t because I don’t necessarily find it of interest.

Reviews coming this week:

KGB In High Heels by Valentina Maltseva

A Kiss Before You Leave Me by James Hulbert

Lakebridge Spring by Natasha Troop

She’s My Dad by Iolanthe Woulff

Tower of Parlen Min by Matt Xell

Raven’s Kiss by Toni Lo Tempio

In the next two weeks:

Vallar by Cindy Bourgne

The Red Gate by Richard Sutton

That Which is Human by Bruce C. Davis

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves by Tara Wooply

Reboot by Carl Rauscher

World Trade Center Writers by John Blandly

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The Special Beauty of Indie Writers

Sometimes it’s a spur of the moment chance you take. At others, after careful contemplation, you summon up the courage to let someone else read your writing. Often the reader is a close friend, a relative perhaps, or in a wider example, a professional acquaintance such as a work or schoolmate.

For many, it takes special initiative to prepare their work to the best of their ability and submit to a publisher. The wait for a reply, whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’, can be agonizing…if you receive one at all. The latter may apply if you’ve neglected to format exactly to their specifications or missed some other guideline. But whatever the case, making the final edits and sending them off by email or post, is an accomplishment in itself, of which anyone could be proud.

I once had an acquaintance tell me, “Wow, I’ve never met a writer before!” And I replied, “You’ve probably met a lot of them, but just didn’t know. They were shopkeepers, or nursery workers or any other job out there, but they also wrote and probably keep it to themselves quietly creating their masterpiece.”

The whole process of having submitted to a publisher then awaiting reply can disturb your sleep, distract your mind during the day, and generally leave you on edge, but if you receive an expression of interest or intention, the taste of success can be sweet indeed. Feelings of validation, accomplishment and triumph are only a few of the emotions you might experience.

You’re given the date for your book release, and be assured the publishers wish it to succeed for they’ll get paid just like you do. Multiple announcements to online groups, magazines and the like, besides those in printed form will be launched forth, so a base number of interested buyers will be available who’ll give you a chance even if you’re new or not yet “a name.”

Taking the independent or self-published route, however, takes a unique and special courage that too often goes unacknowledged or is misunderstood as to reason behind the choice. You still have those who very mistakenly call self-pub or indie publishing “vanity publishing” and negative stereotypes persist towards indie authors, though this area of the writing industry has grown in positive leap and bounds and quality is increasing exponentially.

Even more so than with a traditional publisher, going the “indie route” takes extra effort on the writer’s part if they are going to succeed, and by that, I mean even selling just one copy. It is your drive, your personality and the strength of your hard work that can directly affect not just your sales but your “name”, how you’re viewed by others.

A special sub-category of this particular discussion is sending your work out for review, because that’s directly asking for someone’s opinion on your work, for good or for ill. We all know reviews can be very subjective based on the individual who is reading.

Publishing your own work or being accepted by a traditional publisher is a presentation of your writing to others, not easy but not exactly hard either. Requesting reviews is a different ballpark in my opinion, often needing an extra bolstering up of that courage I mentioned before.

As an indie or self-published writer, whatever term you use, sometimes it can feel like you have not just your own doubts working against you, but the industry itself and even other writers, not to mention readers and reviewers. We all have read of the publishers and agents who seem to look down on indie work as if it is not as good as “traditionals” or even worthy of their attention; that being a self-published writer is something to somehow be ashamed of.

But, why other writers and readers?

Just a couple of the reasons: some “traditional” writers also look down on indie writers, making the assumption the indies just “couldn’t get a deal” or their work wasn’t of a high enough level. Some believe indies took the “easy” way out, scorning the “proper” channels in order to just get “something” out there on the market.

Sure, there are writers like that. Some don’t take the proper time to make sure their work is formatted or edited properly for a variety of devices or print. Some obvious errors go uncorrected or are overlooked even in stories of good quality. These are some of the complaints readers who do take a chance with indies often cite. Many review groups or individuals do not accept self-pubs or indie at all and definitively state it in their guidelines, reflecting readership in general. They don’t even give indies a chance in the first place.

So we’ve other writers, “old” aspects of the publishing industry, readers and reviewers against us, which can occasionally seem overwhelming. Who of us writers have joined a writing website, guild or group and received a welcome, yet after we speak of our work and that it’s indie…suddenly no one has much interest? I can’t say it has happened to me often, as I do have work formerly published through traditional channels and books published under my own brand, Flying With Red Haircrow, but I have felt the condescending vibe that it’s not “real” or to be taken seriously if it’s been self-published. Very certainly in certain genres this seems to be a widespread belief.

What I’ve found so refreshing about interaction between myself and other self-published or indie writers is the enthusiasm and lack of pretension. I haven’t felt the intensity of competition, the attempts or need to “one-up” someone else, put someone in their supposed place as a “newbie” or less seasoned writer, or the keeping of exclusive circles of the “elite.”

As indies, we’re all on a level playing field as it were, and it is more often recognized or expressed as such. Many indies out there, if they can help another writer, they do so without hesitation. Of course, there are some friends or acquaintances you may get to know better, but the favoritism apparent among traditionals I’ve observed, is far less.

Although I still respect the hard work “traditionals” put into aspects of their craft, once I went indie, it’s really hard to go back to the strictures and attitudes and boundaries of traditional publishers who have their schedules to keep and preferences on what they believe readers want to read.

I’ve been privileged to get to know some of the histories and heartfelt expressions of the indie authors I’ve reviewed here at Flying With Red Haircrow. Working on a novel for decades with the feeling it’s not comparable to published works, or that they lack the credentials or reputation to get it in print, but finally taking the steps to publish it themselves. The outright fear and anxiety they felt submitting their book for review, and the ones who were cognizant some parts of their writing could use improvement but eager and willing to try their very best to make it so. To me, indie authors/publishers and their supporters are beautiful things. And that’s exactly why I included these words on my seekers of review/interview page:

“I respect the courage it takes to allow someone to read your dreams and imaginings because in many ways it can reflect your ideals and inner self, some aspect which might not ordinarily be presented to the world.”

Indie and self-published writers, keep your spirits up! Your courage is to be admired. You’re not only putting your heart, your work out there to be accepted, liked or disliked in critique, you are presenting yourself solely as captain of your own fate, to rise or fall by your own means, by merit of your own skill. That can be intimidating, but also exhilarating to plan and execute the literary journey of your dreams.

There are more and more out there, but a few sites that support indie authors/publishers: Step by Step Self-Publishing, Smashwords, Indie Book Collective and The Indie Spotlight. Take advantage of those who appreciate, advertise and improve your presence and work.

Addendum 5 June–

From Mark Coker’s Smashwords Blog even more encouragement and enthusiasm for indie writers and this special revolution, Three Year Retrospective, and a Look Ahead:

I founded Smashwords with the firm conviction there’s a vast human potential trapped inside the minds and fingertips of unpublished writers. I thought if we could provide the enabling tools to help writers unleash their potential upon the world – to be judged by readers – that great things could happen.

Today, great things are happening. Indie authors are inching up the best-seller lists, and their success inspires the next wave to go indie. Yet commercial success and the promise or potential thereof is not the primary driver for the indie revolution. Writers write for reasons different than publishers publish.

More writers will write, more will publish, and more will bypass publishers to connect directly to readers.”

Simply amazing!

Be part of the revolution!


Filed under Writers and Writing