Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: "Henry 38" and Day Zero by Olsen Jay Nelson

Henry 38 is a very intelligent speculative fiction spoken mainly through a managerial perspective; where the reader is taken through a history of a very possible future from the ‘high up’ perspective similar to that of a history book; except with a more personal and entertaining feel. It revolves around Henry Clay, a businessman in the mid-21st century, who takes the weight of the world on his shoulders and rises to power as a key figure in human history; though one who acts in the shadows to work for his dream of a utopia for humanity. The future is bleak, the middle class having become extinct in the earlier part of the century, with islands of civilization for the ‘have been’s and a sea of chaos for the ‘have not’s. This is a short story of nearly 16,000 words with a chilling end, and well worth the read for anyone interested in the direction our future is currently progressing into.

Day Zero is a full-length novel of 66,000 words set in the same time span of Henry 38, with a lighter managerial aspect and a stronger focus on the lead character, Ikaros Jonez. Ikaros establishes a massive company in his time and generates the many breakthroughs needed for Henry’s future. A true revolutionary, he runs into trouble on a few occasions in his efforts to improve life for everyone while furthering his own agenda. Day Zero takes a much closer look at the quality of life in the mid-21st century and some of the terrible things to be expected should we continue down the path we are taking in the present.

Both books are very intelligent reads and spoken from an academic standpoint. These books are highly informative, chilling, and motivating for those of us who care to see the future change, and I am eager to read more in this series. Though not for light reading, I would recommend these books to anyone active in positive change for the future, and to whoever asks what can be done to avoid a dystopian future; also to get a few good ideas as to what should be done to avoid it.

I would like to emphasize the difference between sci-fi and speculative fiction. Olsen Jay Nelson's work is speculative fiction, written with as much rationality as can be applied to work pertaining to the future, whereas science fiction has a sad tendency to ditch actual science altogether (a significant source of irritation for me). Unlike your typical sci-fi, a lot of thought and work goes into creating speculative fiction in order for it to be as realistic as possible; I find both stories to be frighteningly realistic.

Day Zero: http://www.amazon.com/Day-Zero-New-World-ebook/dp/B007TW8H2K/ref=la_B006FR8LW6_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1342659524&sr=1-3

Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: "How I Make a Living in Writing" by Scott Morgan

In Scott Morgan’s book, How I Make a Living in Writing, one will find a plethora of great advice from a true entrepreneurial spirit. Scott’s writing is down-to-earth, often times funny, and he speaks to all of us who take our chosen professions as self-employed writing professionals very seriously.

He explains the difference between being a writer versus just being an author. He engages in writing books, such as this one, but does not stop there. As a writer he engages himself in everything to do with writing, including editing, to make a living doing what he loves most: working with writing in all its diversity. For many authors this book is particularly helpful in laying out a variety of options for business marketing, both in the digital world and the physical world.

I feel that the tactics and techniques he covers are applicable to more than just writing, but to any hobby/profession with a product; especially digital products. Whereas his ‘product’ involves both books and writing/editing services, he is particularly well-versed in the many ways to find your market and business associates and explains which avenues are worth the investment of your time. He also explains that even free time is valuable for making connections, emphasizing that we don't always have to make money with our time for it to be invaluable.

He does not sugar-coat the position of an entrepreneur, but instead blasts the reader with a well-written (and somewhat alluring) warning that being independent of hourly rates and paychecks is very hard work. I loved the simplicity and effectiveness in stating that being a writer is your job, and you have to work it as your job to get anywhere with it.

He frequently details the methods of making connections in all places and what you can expect not only from those you wish to connect to, but also from yourself. His writing speaks to those of us, like myself, who aren’t exactly socially adept and have difficulty connecting with others; be it out of fear, social awkwardness, or both. He reminds us all that to make this system work we must take it very seriously while enjoying the job itself; you can’t put only half effort in and expect to receive a double effort's pay, that’s for sure.

He details what you can expect to make, and how much you can expect to work; but what is most important is that he actually gives you the ‘how’ of working, unlike so many entrepreneurs who give you the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ but never the actual techniques to work this great system!

In short, I would strongly advise this small, easy to read and understand 22,000 word book to any author looking to work for themselves, and I would especially recommend it to entrepreneurs looking to leave the workforce for good. Even if you aren’t going into writing, the techniques he has used are transferable across any entrepreneurial endeavor and apply to many different fields. I myself have learned a lot from this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to work for themselves, because it is well worth the investment!


The book's URL will be put up once it has been published. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I've Been Up To

The past few weeks I've been editing a client's books. The three books are by Lorena Angell and are as follows:

A Diamond In My Pocket

Scars of Defiance

The Dictator's Daughter

All three were definite page-turners and I look forward to the sequel for Diamond. As of this moment, Scars of Defiance is available for free download. The Dictator's Daughter and A Diamond In My Pocket are only $0.99 for the full download, and the author intends to keep them that way.

If you would like a good sample of my work then download Scars of Defiance for free here

You can buy The Dictator's Daughter here

Also, A Diamond In My Pocket can be bought here

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I am not a professional, but I am not unskilled...

Throughout the years of my life I have become increasingly aware of typos and poor English in many areas. I could understand when a foreigner couldn't speak right, or when the grade school children wrote their 'R's backwards; but when I got into high school and found that my peers still couldn't read fluently (the extent of their reading skills was the ability to sound out letters; poorly) or spell anything I began a very long and annoying path of constant aggravation for the illiteracy of the people around me. Though my handwriting is far worse than theirs, I can spell almost every word in the vernacular of American English.

It came to my attention that I am a grammar nazi during the fall of 2009. I had just graduated high school and began college studying for business and psychology. While reading the fascinating aspects of psychology I noticed a typo in the textbook. It was an obvious typo as the letter the word was spelled wrong with was adjacent to the letter it should have been on the keyboard; what aggravated me was that the typo wasn't a word in the English language, and whatever idiot was typing up the book likely didn't see the spell-check underline their mistake.

This irritation caused me to start noticing typos everywhere I went. On restaurant menus, job applications, teachers' whiteboards, legal documents, and even in professionally edited books! I couldn't stop noticing them. Every typo, every violation of English grammar (that I knew of), stood out like a turd in a sugar bowl. It more than bothers me to see a typo, run-on sentence, or lack of capitalization; it creates a burning irritation in my eyes and hands. It's the kind of sensation that could only occur from some kind of psychosomatic disorder. I've always figured myself to have a mild case of OCD; especially for typos. Every time I find one in a professionally edited book I have to find the nearest pencil/pen/marker/white-out and fix it before I can move on! I count myself fortunate to not understand every rule in the English language or else I wouldn't be able to leave the house.

Of course, I am by no means a professional at what I do. I don't have a fancy PHD in English Composition; I barely have any credentials to my name. However, I prefer to look at things from a different perspective. You can hire a PHD in art to paint a portrait for thousands of dollars; or you can hire an artistically gifted youngster to paint the same thing. Granted, the youngster knows nothing of art in the scientific context, but their natural talent to copy what they see onto canvas makes them almost as good as the PHD; and they aren't going to rip you off on the price of their work (while they're first starting out). I also liken the same analogy to musical artists. Some of the artists I really don't like actually have degrees in music; but most of the artists I do like haven't ever had a single instrument lesson in their lives!

My ultimate point, when reduced to its simplest terms, is that my work is a 'suitable' replacement for a professional editor. Professional editors are notorious for charging around $2000 to edit your book; and if your book is simply too crappy to survive on the market then that is $2000 well wasted! And yet all that you're paying for is their 4-6 extra years of studying the English language. Had we paid attention throughout our 13 years in public schools we honestly wouldn't need that big fancy degree to be a professional editor (we've spent more time studying English than a student spends earning a PHD); in fact, the mere notion of a degree in your own native language seems rather pointless. Of course, it's prudent for an aspiring scientist like myself to learn the proper way to write professional reports; but is any of that really prudent when editing a fun work of fiction? I think not.

So, with that in mind, is being an obsessive grammar nazi my only skill? Most certainly not! I am a natural problem solver. The only problem I can't solve is how to begin and end a story or song. However, I've found that if there's a basic idea for something I can spin it into something infinitely amazing. I am currently co-authoring a friend's book and am personally responsible for the majority of the lore; but the plots all came from her. So, to that extent, anything I read I can improve on similarly. I'm good at spotting errors in other things as well, such as others' social situations and plot-lines; though you only need to worry about the plot-lines. I can spot holes with decent efficiency and am very good at figuring out ways to fix them.

So, in conclusion, you don't need someone who will overcharge you with knowledge that barely applies to your work; you need someone who will make your work understandable in order to avoid the bad reviews. Hiring an English professor to edit your fictional story is like dropping a nuke to eliminate a gopher infestation! It's total overkill. All you need is to have an uneducated grammar nazi like myself look over your work before you submit it to the general public (which can't use proper English anyways). See the advantage of using an amateur editor for your indie book?