Friday, December 23, 2011

New Story Published :: "The Truth About Mother" in Arcane

ArcaneMy latest story, “The Truth About Mother,” has just been published in the anthology Arcane, edited by Nathan Shumate, now available at Amazon. "The Truth About Mother” is a horror/ hardboiled mystery/ political satire story. This is not currenly a lucrative sub-genre, but thankfully Nathan Shumate has eclectic tastes. Arcane includes 30 stories, mostly horror and dark fantasy by such excellent, up-and-coming authors as Gemma Files and Milo James Fowler. For more details, see my author blog.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fantastic Reviews Battle of the Books

battle booksAnnouncing the FANTASTIC REVIEWS BATTLE OF THE BOOKS!!!

We are trying something new (and hopefully fun) for 2012. All of the review copies we receive at Fantastic Reviews will be placed into 16-book brackets, and we will have a March Madness-style playoff. The winner of each bracket will be reviewed at Fantastic Reviews, and our favorite of all the winners will be the Fantastic Reviews Battle of the Books Champion.

Click here if you're curious why we decided to host a tournament of books.

Click here for all the details of how this Battle of the Books will work.

WHY a Fantastic Reviews Battle of the Books?

1. GUILT. We receive an awful lot of review copies of books, more than we could possibly review, and we have been reviewing fewer books recently. This is because I (Aaron, FR's primary reviewer) have had work and family conspire to reduce my free time, and I've been devoting more of the free time I have to my own writing (which also means most of my reading lately has been short fiction, as I try to teach myself how to write short stories). We are well aware that the publishers sending us these books are on tight budgets, and we feel we either need to stop accepting review copies or find some way to help publicize the books we receive even if we're not going to review most of them. Many bloggers do "books received" posts for this purpose, but the Battle of the Books seemed like a more interesting and unusual way to promote all these books and their authors.

2. NEW AUTHORS. At Fantastic Reviews, we love to publicize talented new authors. We've been able to do that recently as to short fiction with our Story Recommendations of the Week, but we haven't been doing as much to spread the word about novels by new writers. The Battle of the Books will prompt us to discuss new writers whose books come to us, and will give them at least a fighting chance at being reviewed.

3. POSITIVE REVIEWS. Having some of my own stories published this past year has taken away my enthusiasm for writing scathing (or even lukewarm) reviews, for two reasons. First, I've been learning just how difficult this writing thing is. Second, I worry that readers may take any negative comments to mean I think I could have done better. Through the Battle of the Books, I'll end up mostly reviewing books I really enjoyed, while the negative responses will be limited merely to a paragraph on why a book's opening pages didn't grab me.

4. LEARNING EXERCISE. I've focused my writing on short fiction so far, but in the present market, novels are where it's at. If I'm going to stick with writing, before long I need to work at novel length. A strong opening is crucial for selling a novel and for attracting readers. So reading the openings of many different books should be a useful exercise.

5. SOMETHING DIFFERENT. It just seemed like fun.

Fantastic Reviews Battle of the Books :: The Rules


Every 16 review copies we get will be placed in a bracket.

For the first round, the Fantastic Reviews judge (usually me, Aaron Hughes, but sometimes Amy Peterson) will read the opening 25 pages of both books. The winner will be the book I most want to continue reading (not necessarily the better book -- how would I even know that after only 25 pages?). The winners advance to the second round.

For the second round, I will read through page 50. The winners advance to the semifinals.

For the semifinals, I will read through page 100.

For the finals, I will read through page 200.

The winner of each bracket will be read completely and reviewed at Fantastic Reviews.


Brackets.We will name four "seeded" books that we're especially looking forward to, with each seeded book placed in a different quarter of the bracket. (So you are welcome to send us your self-published book, just know there's a good chance you'll be playing the role of Prairie View A&M to Catherynne Valente's Kentucky.)

Right to Add Books. We reserve the right to add into the tournament "wild cards," i.e., books that we picked up on our own that we feel inclined to add to the mix. Even if we don't enter them into the tournament, we reserve the right to review other books in addition to the tournament winners, including tournament non-winners -- so if we love both finalists in a bracket, we may review them both.

Right to Decline Books. While our intention is to include all the review copies we receive, we reserve the right to exclude particular books. This is a science fiction, fantasy, and horror site, so if you send us something outside those areas, we may deem it unsuitable for our audience. Also, if we get swamped by self-published books, we may decide to choose the ones that look most interesting, rather than entering them all.

Format. Any printed copies of books sent to us for review are automatically entered. Audio copies sent on CDs are also eligible. Electronic copies are not automatically eligible. We have the right to add e-books as wild cards, but mostly we won't, because (i) the two people who run this site are book collectors who love books as physical objects, and (ii) the biggest reason we're doing this is guilt over all the resources publishers have been putting into printing and shipping us review copies that we've been ignoring; e-books sent to us carry no such guilt burden.

Collections & Anthologies. Single-author collections are eligible. With collections, we will not read from page 1, but will skip first to any previously unpublished stories. Anthologies are not eligible for the tournament; however, we still welcome anthologies, and original stories in them remain eligible for Aaron's Story Recommendation of the Week.

Page Counts. We will count the pages we read from the first page of the story, ignoring blurbs, introductions, dedications, quotes, etc. So if Chapter One begins on page 11, for the first round we will read through page 35 -- and if a chapter ends on page 37, we will probably finish that chapter.

Tournament Dates. Brackets will be dated by the copyright date of the books. If we receive an advance copy of a book previously published in a limited edition, which we never saw, we can pretend the previous edition never happened. Also, we reserve the right to fudge the dates.

Judges' Discretion. All judges' rulings are final. This competition is built around inherently subjective criteria. You are welcome to post on the blog why you disagree with a judge's ruling. But there is no right of appeal.

Submissions. Feel free to send review copies for the tournament to:

Amy Peterson
Fantastic Reviews
P.O. Box 5415
Englewood, CO 80155

If a street address is needed (such as for UPS or FedEx)

6855 S. Dayton St. #5415
Englewood, CO 80112