Thursday, October 23, 2008


ARTEMIS FOWL and the TIME PARADOX by Eoin Colfer is the sixth novel in the wildly popular Fowl series and we see Artemis facing one of his more dangerous enemies so far...himself.

Well, at least that is what one hopes when reading the story, but ultimately I was more glad to see the return of Opal Koboi! The novel as always is well written (though I notice the well published authors seem to delve into "telling" and "passive voice" as if it were stylish). Nevertheless the story is chock full of action and engaging. All the old characters, in fact, seem to be in this one, including a cameo by long dead Julius Root.
I would have been 100% pleased by the story were it not for the fact that little ARty isn't quite the nemesis he is played up to be. Not to say he isn't problematic for older fact older Artemis seems a bit dim in comparison on many occasions--not his usual self at all. Perhaps raging hormones have finally quelled the superior intellect?
At any rate, Opal Koboi, arrives mid-way through to steal the villianous spotlight from an otherwise mundane young artemis. Opal Koboi, has to be the best villian I've personally seen in the series and "The OPal Deception" is by far my favorite novel in the series. She comes through here as well, never a bit less brilliant or maniacal as ever! Thankfully!!
All in all, I highly recommend the novel, it is Artemis Fowl after all, and if nothing else but to see Artemis face his greatest nemesis of all. NO, not himself...Opal Koboi, you ninny! :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Back in Action?

LIMITED RETURN FOR THE MOMENT...yep, it's been awhile, but podlings may return in the future to do more pod book reviews. For the moment, I'll bring some reviews of novels I've been interested in recently and we'll see how the time frame all works out.

I'll be brining reviews on the new Artemis Fowl novel and Jeremy Robinson's new mass market edition of "Antarktos Rising" as well as a post on the new VARIANCE PUBLISHING which has taken over the old BREAKNECK BOOKS.

STay Tuned!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007



I've enjoyed the opportunity and hopefully have helped some people along the way. But life is life and some wonderful new opportunities with my own writing career, along with other new opportunities have come along and it has become necessary to do some pruning. My schedule will not allow for much more on my plate, so this will be my last post under PODLINGS.

If you've sent a pdf for review, and I didn't get to you, then I would suggest another member or two of the De Facto Review Ring. I appreciate the growing interest and the POD CRITIC for spear heading the new initiative for POD authors. It needs to continue and I'm sure it will. Remember, keep your standards high and you might just find yourself as the next is attainable!


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


The Bathys by Jonathan Ward is typical sci-fi fare with the human race battling an alien race they seemingly have nothing in common with and neither race realizes their actual commonalities...."Enemy Mine," anyone?

The year is 2493, and the human Confederation is at war. The Bathys, an utterly alien species with whom no communication is possible, have risen from their watery homes and attacked the scattered worlds of humanity, destroying everything in their path. The fighting is bitter, and the Confederation is losing. Caught up in the conflict are two people who could not be more different. One is a soldier, dedicated to the defence of the Confederation. The other is a civilian, completely opposed to the war. The wildly different paths they take bring them together as both enemies and unlikely allies. As battle rages all around them, they struggle to uncover the shocking truth behind the war with the Bathys and, perhaps, to do something to stop it.

When a novel receives only two stars from me, this means I probably encountered so many problems that the decent storyline was unable to keep me reading to the end.

To Mr. Ward's credit, he is a very descriptive writer and as far as the story itself is concerned, there is a great deal of action and he throws the reader into the mix very quickly. But this is where compliments end because The Bathys has a number of problems working against it including:
  • Editing problems: Paragraph indents are almost non-existent and there are continual grammar problems throughout the novel.
  • Perspective jumps: Chapter 1 begins in first person -- Chapter 2 goes to omniscient -- Chapter 3 is back to first person -- and Chapter 4 jumps back to omniscient p.o.v. This gets very frustrating after awhile and the story simply wasn't engaging enough to keep me going any further.
  • The cover is black and white and lacks interest and any tangible connection to the story. My first impression, unfortunately, was Asteroid or something unmentionable.

The Bathys may not be unique in story, but the main problem was execution. There are many unoriginal takes on sci-fi that still manage to be entertaining, but these numerous problems make the effort to continue reading seem wasted.

Monday, May 07, 2007



Well, that may be a bit on the dramatic side, but you get the drift. We've still got a few to get through and as we wind our way through we'll update you on submissions opening again.

Remember, your friendly neighborhood Spiderman, er POD BOOK REVIEWER doesn't do this for a living and things can stack up in our personal lives which prevent warp speed reading and, please be patient on the submission thing.


Thursday, May 03, 2007


This is intended as a quick-reference chart of the blogs in The De Facto POD Review Ring. The current eight members are listed in the chart in Date Established Order. Most, but not all, of the members have responded to an e-mail request to enter the data they would like to see stated for their blog site in the chart. The data for the remaining members has been taken directly from the blogs. Please refer to the genre codes at the bottom of the chart. The information is current as of May 1, 2007. Hopefully, this chart will live a long and happy life at various locations on the web, and we can periodically update the information. Thank you to all who are participating in this project.

Name: POD People -
Blurb: A Review & Commentary Site Devoted to Self-Published BooksFounded: January 10, 2006Submissions: E-book Submissions Closed & Paper Submissions Open as of 4/30/07
Submission Format(s): Electronic versions preferred - paper copies accepted
Author Interviews: Rarely, and only upon request
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: All
Genres Accepted: All
Preferred Genres: Any
Notes: A small team of (currently 12) reviewers run by two writers who are not self-published, but are enthusiastic about quality poetry and prose in any format. We host both a blog and a fixed website. News, promotions and commentary relating to self-POD may be submitted to the blog and will be posted at our discretion.

Name: Leo Stableford -
Blurb: One Monkey, One Typewriter, Infinite Deadlines - POD reviews for all interested parties
Founded: January 14, 2006
Submissions: Open for Submissions as of 4/27/07
Submission Format(s): Paper copies preferred; e-books accepted
Author Interviews: No
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: All
Genres Accepted: Generic Fiction
Preferred Genres: FA HO SF TH YA
Notes: Long-time reviewer rated 4.6/5 by peers at Francis Ford Coppola's online workshop from over 130 reviews given

Name: iUniverse Book Reviews -
Blurb: Legitimate Reviews for Deserving iUniverse Authors and Their Readers
Founded: July 12, 2006
Submissions: Open for Submissions as of 5/1/07
Submission Format(s): Actual paper copy of the published iU book required
Author Interviews: Yes
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: All
Genres Accepted: All genres welcome
Preferred Genres: Cheaters need not apply (See posted Submission Guidelines.)
Notes: Experienced iUniverse author offers tons of personal service.

Blurb: Hoping to Help Aspiring Authors with Honest Book Reviews
Founded: August 16, 2006
Submissions: Open for Submissions as of 4/27/07
Submission Format(s): PDF and paper
Author Interviews: Yes - Also offers Podcasts
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: All
Genres Accepted: Self Published & Small to Large Press Novels
Preferred Genres: AA CH FA SF TH YA
Notes: Small-press published author with several novels written

Name: None May Say -
Blurb: Personal Outlay Developed Reviews
Founded: November 23, 2006
Submissions: Open for Submissions as of 4/27/07
Submission Format(s): Various
Author Interviews: No
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: All
Genres Accepted: All POD media, including music and other art forms
Preferred Genres: Feature reviews of free online booksNotes: Reviews of music not on corporate labels

Blurb: "To boldly go..." - Self Published Book Reviews
Founded: November 25, 2006
Submissions: Open for Submissions as of 4/27/07
Submission Format(s): Digital formats preferred
Author Interviews: No
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: All
Genres Accepted: MF MY SF TH - E-mail synopsis for other genres
Preferred Genres: A taste for dark, edgy, unusual stuff
Notes: No nonfiction, literary, or poetry accepted

Blurb: Where I dissect the books of aspiring writers and publishers who employ print-on-demand technology
Founded: January 30, 2007
Submissions: Closed to Submissions as of 4/15/07
Submission Format(s): Digital file required (PDF preferred; MS Word/RTF accepted)
Author Interviews: Yes, but solely by reviewer's choice
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes, for authors and micro-presses
Publication Dates Accepted: All - Will apprise of any changes
Preferred Genres: None - Film, Television, & Speculative Fiction subgenres considered
Notes: Experienced book editor fosters and promotes all aspects of quality work: writing, editing, and production.

Name: The PODler -
Blurb: Reviews of POD Published Fiction
Founded: April 6, 2007
Submissions: Open for Submissions as of 4/27/07
Submission Format(s): PDF & TXT files
Author Interviews: Yes
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: AllGenres Accepted: ES FA HI MY SF SU TH
Preferred Genres: Any of the above
Notes: Home of the International Print on Demand Book Award

Genre Codes: AA - Action Adventure BI - Biography CE - Collected EssaysCH - Children ES - Espionage FA - Fantasy HI - Historical HO - HorrorLI - Literary ME - Memoir MF - Military Fiction MY - Mystery NF - NonfictionRO - Romance SF - SciFi SU - Suspense TH - Thriller YA - Young Adult

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


ANCESTOR by Scott Sigler is a high tech horror story about geneticists who unleash man's evolutionary forefather while attempting to produce donor organ animals for human transplant purposes.

This book has been published by small press, Dragon Moon Publishing and they've done a very nice job with the book production...great cover, interior, editing and so forth.

The prose is straightfoward, lacking any eloquence, but since this is a thriller, it delivers the goods. The language is explicit and the violence abundant, so be warned. Ancestor falls short of the HOT! designation only because it lacks the originality of the other stories I've given that award to. This could easily have been another terrific Crichton novel, but doesn't present anything really fresh plot-wise. However, Mr. Sigler has done and excellent job of keeping the tension high and the pacing quick.

One of the more interesting elements about this novel is that it first appeared in a purely podcast form and Sigler has used those legions of fans to propel the novel upon its release to the status of bestseller status, even hitting no.1 on several category lists! Very impressive indeed. Rumor has it that Mr. Sigler may have also been able to secure a major label deal out of those efforts as well...very cool.

Monday, April 30, 2007


It might be time consuming, but the fact of the matter is that much of the success you may find in the publishing industry comes from who you know, being in the right place at the right time and so forth.

Let's be honest. We all know that many very interesting stories are going to be passed up by the industry giants, simply because they do not appear marketable. Whether or not you and your book are marketable is beside the must appear to be marketable and part of that profile is the contacts you have made. "Who would endorse your book, etc..."

But WIERD PODLINGS GUY, who should I be networking with and how. There are a number of people and ways to meet them. Contact this may seem taboo to some, but authors are people just like you are and they enjoy hearing from fans. I know of authors who have successfully queried authors for a review and ended up getting their endorsement or even a referral to an agent or publisher. Now, I don't, by any means suggest that you should begin to stalk authors for endorsements. You might contact them through blog post comments or a letter or email. You might find yourself with them on a blog tour for your work or at a writer's conference. The point is, make contacts with authors of every caliber (who can tell who will become a star in the future...your long time POD author perhaps?) Make contacts with agents if you have the opportunity, probably through another author or at a writers conference. Just remember, in an industry as competitive as this one, it's many times who you know, just as much or more as it is how good your book is!

Friday, April 27, 2007

ANTI-CHRIST: A Satirical End of Days by MATTHEW MOSES

Anti-Christ: A Satirical End of Days by Matthew Moses, with horribly mad theology and enough twisted vulgarity to go around, comes off as exactly that: Anti Christ.

I agreed to review this book despite its premise, having told the author at the outset that my personal beliefs would probably cause me to hate it. Mr. Moses still wanted the, to echo Damon Wayans twisted "Men on Films" character: HATED IT!

Let me elaborate a little. It is the content of this novel, which is very offensive and disturbing, which brought me to that conclusion. However, let me say that, Mr. Moses is actually a gifted writer. His prose is delivered with a natural flare and were it not for the content, I would read this author without hesitation. The book is well edited--hardly a grammatical error to be found. I hated the cover only because it doesn't appear to be a book cover at all. The format is not correct for a book cover and it's merely plain text; uninteresting to behold. Somehow, the main character, also named Matthew, remined me of one of those Jackass guys from Johnny Knoxville's troop, except he doesn't intend for all of the horrible things to happen to him.

I give this writer one star--only for the fact that I can clearly see, he has talent--for the book, nothing. Let me reiterate: were this writer to sink his teeth into something less offensive, I would read him in a heartbeat.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


The Truth, It Lies, by Eoin Hennigan is a 1950's murder mystery revolving around the mysterious death of a sordid movie star whose career comes crashing down in the wake of McCarthyism.

"A lawyer on the brink of ruin, a paranoid director, a dead movie star, and a picture no one will ever see… It is 1952 and show business lawyer Robert L Harvey is on the brink of financial ruin. TheHollywood witch-hunt is putting him out of business. That is, until, he receives a call from movie director, and constant paranoid, Michael Bloom. The big shot has misplaced the film reels of his latest project, the star of which has recently died. Harvey thinks it's a job for the police but the director is adamant he doesn't want his employer, Mayor Studios, to know their investment is lost. Desperate for the money Harvey agrees, but when he delves into a side of the movie industry he's never seen before his priorities have to change…"

Let's just say, "I have issues with the way this book has been written..." The Truth, It Lies has an interesting enough premise, but it has many functional problems on delivery. To begin with, the book is plagued by missing words and other grammatical errors. I could not overlook it, but I'm definitely willing to cut an author some slack when the story and delivery are top notch. The story is decent, but didn't keep me wondering when I was going to get back to reading it. The delivery is the real problem with this book for me and the numerous problems ultimately killed it. FOR EXAMPLE:

  • There is a continuity problem at the outset: Chapter One begins with the investigation into this movie star's death by police (in the present). Chapter two zooms back in time several weeks and not by way of a character's memory or a flashback or any other anchor point--It simply starts us over again "several weeks ago?" When we hit Chapter 3, we are again in present time with the main character, Robert Harvey, who is a down and out lawyer to the stars...this carries me to two more big problems.
  • The Narration of this story begins in omnicient narrator point-of-view, Chapter two, despite the "Back to the Future" timeshift, is also given in this same point-of-view. When we come to Chapter 3 and take up with the lawyer, Robert Harvey, everything changes to first person point-of-view?? huh? Which brings me to another problem...
  • When we get to this first person point-of-view switch in the 3rd chapter, the majority of prose is all inside this character's, I mean conversations with everyone around him are all given to us second hand through this character's thoughts rather than delivered as dialogue! The character gives us information from the conversation he is presently having (without any dialogue) and then that's it?! It would be much easier and more interesting to just give us the dialogue even in first person. Delon City, which I recently reviewed, is all first person, but we have all of the, what's the problem? An entire plot hinging phone conversation is bypassed this way, along with conversations with the police and so forth...which brings me to another big problem I have with this story.
  • The book is delivered in the style of a 50's private detective story like Mike Hammer or better yet, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." However, instead of a Private Dick doing the investigation, we have a hollywood lawyer. Why? Well, the lawyer actually asks that question of his nervous client to this response: "Private detectives are not discreet enough," to which the lawyer character agrees. The only thing is, that is exactly the nature of a private detective; to be discreet in their investigation. The first time out to investigate, he is caught by security--very discreet, huh?

All these problems make for a very difficult read. I give him kudos on a nice cover, but that's about all the good I could come up with. There is a story here, but it has not been delivered in a cohesive way and ultimately left me unsatisfied.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Well...wicked only in the gnarly, bodacious, good sense of the word. We've decided, (we--yeah, just me, one guy referring to myself as we), to add a new element to the world of POD BOOK reviewing by highlighting a growing segment of innovative online marketing, known as PODCASTING.

Essentially, PODCASTING (for a book) is the serialization of a novel into audio episodes and making these episodes available in MP3 downloadable format for curious fans to subscribe to--usually on a weekly basis. Now, that is the quick and dirty explanation and the actual creation of a podcast appears a bit more daunting. However, thousands of podcasts are out on the internet, hosted at sites like and,, it can't be too difficult for the average internet savvy person to learn the skills necessary to utilize this medium.

The inventive thing about utilizing a podcast over other forms, is that, as an author, you can present your work in a completely new realm. People who might not be interested in downloading your sample chapters to read for 30 minutes on a computer screen, would probably have no reservations about downloading your 30 minute podcast to their MP3 player to listen to on the way to work. Hmmm...and this new book medium has other advantages as well. For instance, those exciting parts in the story can be spruced up with music, various voices or just the excited tone of your voice in the reading. And the fact of the matter is that it requires less work on the part of the "listener" than it does on the "reader."

CHION, a recently reviewed favorite has, for example, an MP3 download of the first 20 minutes of the book. The author, Darryl Sloan, did a wonderful job and it immediately had me hooked to the story and wanting to read the book...just remember, you still need a great book!

Another author coming under review here at PODLINGS, Scott Sigler, has no less than 3 fully podcasted novels under his belt and just recently took his legions of adoring podcast fans over to to storm the rankings and end up an bestseller in two different categories!

That says much for the possibilities for poor ole POD authors, since this is essentially a free way to advertise your book, but remember that these examples had great stories and high quality audio going their way as well. I would imagine that, just as in the POD book realm, there is in the PODCAST realm a proliferation of horrible, low quality garbage which doesn't even deserve to be heard at all. Some authors appear to be providing all of their novel in serial form, while others prefer to give enough to hook the reader and send them back to the print form of the novel for the rest. The choice is yours as the author.

What we would like to do at PODLINGS is to provide a dedicated page for POD and small press authors to feature links to your first episode--IF AND ONLY IF, the book is quality and the audio is quality. I have no desire to provide a place for sludge to collect...therefore, you send the links to your first episode and if I like the story and the quality of the episode itself, I will create a post for it and include a snippet review for you with links back to wherever you want readers to come and find the rest of the episodes or print book. The PODCAST CORNER link will appear in my sidebar and this will be the permanent link to this page. If your print novel gets a good review and you have an audio file like CHION does then we'll link the book review to your PODCAST episode post, the same way we link author interviews. So, consider your options and if you like, then submit your first episode file *complete with book cover file* and links. Your podcast episode MUST BE FROM A BOOK AVAILABLE IN PRINT FORM or available in print in the near future!

Monday, April 23, 2007


Forge of the Gods, by Eric Fogle is a well written and enjoyable fantasy in which the very fabric of the spiritual realm appears to be collapsing. Heaven's inhabitants and its many minor gods are sending forth their own champions, demi-gods, dragons and mortals alike, to quest for the source of the disturbance--either to nurture it for their own power or to destroy it utterly.

I'm asking myself, "What is it that is so attractive and engaging about this story, Forge of the Gods?" The story is not a thriller and not really what I might consider action packed, although alot is going on. No, I think it is the richness of Mr. Fogle's narrative that is so appealing here! I don't by any means say this in a bad way--Mr. Fogle is not rushing himself through this story. He carefully and lovingly crafts a world and characters that feel fully developed and interesting to follow. The prose itself flows like good poetry and the conflict is multilayered and intriguing.

"Cosmic power swirled around the olthari as he moved through a pocket of nonexistence, the space in which inter-planar travel was possible. In a fraction of a second he stepped through a thin film of divinity and into the new world. The sickening feeling of winking out of existence then back wracked his body. He tried to look around but was blinded by white tracers
that blurred his vision. When his vision finally cleared, he was greeted with a horrific sight: this
place was not a mortal probability. In a dark recess of his mind, Thurm realized that this world must be directly connected to the Divine Plane. He felt godly power exuding from everything. Though he tried to rationalize it, nothing could ever describe such an abomination of life; dark swirls of chaos tore at a shattered sky, giving off a deep purplish hue. His immortal eyes viewed a world devoid of any ordered thing; misshapen trees dotted the desolate landscape, doing their best to eke out an existence. Aside from this mockery, the scorched land was free of anything that even roughly resembled life. The sight of true chaos made his skin crawl. Here the equation of the universe did not apply, time did not flow in mortal years, and balance was not achieved. By looking at the mottled husks of the trees, he knew that the equation was trying to right itself; however, only a travesty of creation prevailed. A distant sound caught his attention. Thurm gripped the shaft of his giant hammer as the wind blew the faint scream past him. The full power of the place came rushing upon him, intensifying his soul-bond with Elissandera. He was sure that she was located less than five miles to the east. It might be too late to save this world, but he knew she still lived . . . at least for the moment. He cleared his mind and set out with resolve, shaking off his uneasiness. He told himself that he needed to be steady. His goal was in sight; he was here to find Elissandera and save her if he could or release her into eternity if he couldn’t. He had decided long ago that if she needed to die, then he did, too—that if this was his fate, he would face the thing that had eluded him for so long. His resolve demanded that he die trying; for her he could not turn back. Another faint scream swept across the desolate wasteland. Thurm’s hair rose. He felt Elissandera’s soul-bond call out to him; this place seemed to magnify the essence of his people. For a moment he thought that he wasn’t alone, an oddly satisfying feeling. An impossible thought tore through his defenses could this be a parallel plane of existence to that of the divine? A pocket plane for one of the gods, he thought sourly. If that was true then hehad been summoned here for a reason, and whatever resided in this place would be unassailable by his powers. He could not win. It is a fitting punishment that the same gods who created my race will also be the ones to end our existence, he thought sadly. It was likely that if this was a divine pocket, then there was a god toying with him, which was why his quest had lingered on so long. I shall die proud, he thought, standing straight and tall. If one of the gods has summoned me here to end my life, then I will fight to the end. Thurm shook his head and banished such thoughts; he was thinking too far ahead. Whatever he faced was beyond his limited comprehension. His mind had been used against him, reminding him of old times and things long forgotten. He rubbed his perfect features and again set off toward the sound. As Thurm prepared to take a step, his vision blurred and his skin started to crawl. The feeling was followed by a distortion of his physical features, which made him stumble forward in disorientation. He was about to succumb and fall to the ground when something called out and beckoned him, blinking him out of existence and back. The summons nearly made him retch as he came crashing through the portal and staggered to the ground. “So the destroyer has finally come!” boomed a sinister voice, its mocking tone filled with unpredictability and evil. The olthari shook away the sparkling lights of his instantaneous transportation from his vision and looked around. It took him a moment to get his bearings, but he was sure that he was standing in front of a circular structure with random spires of ebony jutting up into the sky. Furthermore, he was greeted by an angel leaning against one of the columns, its features twisted into a perfect mask of chaos. It took Thurm only a moment to realize his mistake. It had been so long . . . such a distant memory of what had been . . . that he could not have fathomed what stood before him."

The pace moves at a steady constant with enough happening to keep the reader engaged and following along happily, but Forge of the Gods is not trying to be the next "thrill ride." This title comes to us from one of the newer POD micropresses on the scene, Breakneck Books. It has a very nice cover going for it and excellent interior design. There are, however, a number of grammatical errors within the book. These all revolve around extra or missing words that were somehow missed by their editor. The publisher was even surprised to find this when I mentioned it to them...this takes me back to our previous post. A final read by a fresh pair of eyeballs before the editor submits that final PDF file would do wonders for finding these mistakes.

Forge of the Gods is very enjoyable and highly recommended. Mr. Fogle has a fine literary voice and superior writing skills. However, the abundance of errors which remain in the book (darn those pesky grammar-gremlins!) keeps this title held to four stars on our scale. Now, if you enjoy fantasy greats like Tolkien and so forth then you probably will find this title very enjoyable despite the editing mistakes, because the story is still there and solid as a multi-layered spiritual plain on a chaotic convergence with a unilateral mortal plane!

Friday, April 20, 2007


THE SCRUTINY OF A GOOD EDITOR would do many books a world of good these days. Within the POD market, there is the tendency to have a few friends, at most, take a look at your manuscript and then send it along to Lightning Source for printing and distribution through the INGRAM network to and others.

However, what we as POD reviewers are finding and what the book buyer is finding, once they begin turning pages, is a host of sore thumbs which pop up to interrupt the flow of the story. Proper editing is extremely important friends! And there are many problems that are found...some of which you might find popping up when you go from one format to another. Let me give you some examples of the kind of mistakes I see:

    Let me start with a problem which recently happened to me when posting my last interview: I cut and pasted an interview excerpt from an email into a post and without realizing it, the transfer caused some of the words to become fused together. Needless to say, the author caught it when they went to see their new interview and I'm glad they did...RULE #1: "Extra eyes can catch many things!"

    I've recently been given a PDF where the editor was a professional editor and yet somehow the errors from the old PDF have come into the new PDF. The publisher was shocked to find this was the case, but evidently this can advice is RULE#2: "Proof the final edit with a new pair of eyes. Even the pros can make mistakes!" And may I also add RULE #3: "Reading your final edit ALOUD can catch things your eyes will pass over. Remember, you read with your eyes much faster than you can read with your mouth. So, you are forced to slow down and verbalize what you are seeing. You'd be surprised how many things will appear when you use this technique. "But, Podlingmaster, I have to rush my book to print so I can get my share of POD reviews and grab my .000005% of the book market!" I know, I know...but patience, little grasshopper.

    Exaggerated margins or too much space between paragraphs. Now this one, it would seem to me, would be a simple matter for the author to gauge at the onset. Just looking at books in bookstores you will see the way that books are generally formatted. Yet, on a number of occassions, I've received novels that had double spaces between nearly every sentence. This creates alot of blank space on a page and looks completely unprofessional. Remember, when you format for the pdf and printing that you need to put everything into single space with generally four spaces between P.O.V. changes. And watch those margins folks. Don't try to exaggerate them to give your short story more pages to make the book appear thicker.

    Indentations which either have way too many spaces or not enough. Generally, you want about five letter spaces for a paragraph indentation. Now, I'm not being dogmatic...go check the grammar manual collecting dust in your closet for the hard points, but what I see many times is up to ten spaces in a paragraph indent or as little as one space...which by the way almost looks like you can't tell where a new paragraph begins.

    Watch out for the common (it's/its--there/their--then/than) stuff as well. And of course there are the missing words or extra words that crop up in a manuscript. Once again RULE #1 prevails here: "Extra eyes can catch many things!"

How heartbreaking it must be, to realize that you've got a great story that everyone enjoys, a great looking cover, but it's been edited or proofread inadequately and makes it to the reviewer or reader in this condition...because we sure will mention it, huh? Now, I realize that even the big dogs in New York have errors that creep into their books, but that should be no excuse to the struggling POD author or small press who must fight for every crumb of recognition they can get. In that sort of situation, we must all be that much more diligent to raise our standards, "be patient with going to press," and place the best product we can into the willing consumer's hands.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


CHION by Darryl Sloan is a short but exhilarating quest for survival by two teenagers who find themselves "stuck" in a winter horror-land, when the new snowfall halts society to a standstill in Ireland and begins to take lives.

CHION has to be one of the most unique thrillers I've ever read. I mean, how many thrillers will there be that rehash, dinosaurs, sharks, killer viruses, aliens or rampaging beasts? Well, never fear, because Mr. Sloan has made a monster out of pristine white snow, of all things and this story will grab you and hold you just as fast as the fluffy flakes themselves!

The cover is professional in quality and notice that it has everything to do with what the story is actually about. It draws you in, curiously wondering why the snow is blood tinged. The title of the book makes me curious...what in the world is CHION and what does it have to do with snow? You see everything is meant to draw you in and get you reading? Now, a good book is more than its cover and when we delve beneath the surface we find an engaging and unique situation. Snow has fallen, but this snow is unlike anything we've ever seen before. Anyone or anything which comes into contact with even a single flake is held fast in an iron grip. And be it clothing or skin, you'll be giving it up before the snow releases you. So we have an isolated doomsday scenario with people struggling to survive and our heroes have the unique vantage point of lovestruck teenagers who must figure out a way to survive among hordes of people, even their own teachers, who are willing to do anything they can to remain alive.

The interior is pure quality. I have nothing bad to say about this book at all. On every level, it delivers right up to the end. Whether or not that is a happy ending, I'll leave you to discover. I won't bother to put up any textual snippets because I'd recommend you do something a little different this time. You see, Mr. Sloan has given us a very professionally done podcast file that you can download and listen to and this is exactly why I'm reviewing this book now. I'm in the middle of another good book, but with the MP3 file listened to and a mere 145 pages, part of which is covered in the audiofile, I couldn't help but want to find out what happens. This podcasting thing is something very few authors are making use of at the moment, but having experienced it from the listeners perspective, let me just say, "I like it, I love it, I want more of it."

This novel may be short, but it's well worth what little effort you have to make. It scores big on every level of quality for production and with an engaging well voiced narrative. And let me say again...visit the website and get the podcast file first (see Darryl's sidebar for the link)'s free and it will have you wanting the rest, which is also available for a lower than amazon price at Mr. Sloan's site. Now, how can you beat that?!

Monday, April 16, 2007


JEREMY ROBINSON is not only one of our favorite authors here at PODLINGS, but he is also the cover artist for all of Breakneck Books titles. There are about ten different covers for you to view and all of them are his work. On Mr. Robinson's personal site (click his name above) or on our "Artist list" in the sidebar, you can find several nice pricing packages for cover work and interior design. Bonus! Mr. Robinson also does book trailers for Breakneck Books and maybe you could persuade him to do one for you. Money still talks, as they say.

LAURA DIEHL is also an illustrator of high quality and great imagination. Her work has been featured on several book covers I know of...three of which I reviewed unfavorably because of the writing--NOT the covers. In fact the covers were initially why I invited the author to submit at all. Anyway, here are just a few choice gems from a vast gallery located on her site, check them out.

Friday, April 13, 2007


NICK GREENWOOD is another very talented graphic artist which does book covers. His work is featured on a number of books by Windriver publishing including Collinsfort Village by Joe Ekaitas.

Pricing information can be had by contacting Mr. Greenwood directly and there is a vast gallery of his work in just about every genre located on the site. Mr. Greenwood has a very detailed style and quite an imagination. His artwork has been featured in a number publications, all of which may be researched at his site.

Self published authors and Small presses definitely need the kind of resources we're trying to point them take a stroll over to the Nick Greenwood website and see for yourself the difference some intriguing artwork could make for your next project.
"You may also notice that PODLING'S editorial posts have a unique picture chosen for each one. The idea is to find something engaging that connects with the content. This my dear authors is what cover design is all keep an eye peeled to see how they match up. I always search through photo files very carefully for the one that feels right."


Well, it was bound to happen, I suppose.... An author did not like the criticism leveled at their work and complained--also asking that the review be removed. Well...I'll just post my response to this author without naming them.
"I'm sorry you take offense to criticisms about your writing--in fact I did read the premise for your series and as I said, I don't believe there's any problem with the premise at all...sounds quite good. The problems lay with what was mentioned in the review...these are problems you will find any honest reviewer will make note of. When you compare, for example, the interior design of your book with other books in the market, even POD books you will find a big difference as noted in the review. When you compare your execution of the narrative with other books on the market, you will find big differences there as well...all these are noted in the review.

I'm sorry you feel stabbed in the back? I never promise anyone a glowing review, only an honest for the invitation to was an invitation, not a promise of a glowing review. You could just have easily read the reviews on my site before submitting and decided that you weren't willing to take a chance on having an honest review of your work on the PODLINGS site. No one forced you to submit your was an invitation based on the interesting premise of your fantasy trilogy and based on another review seen by another author on squiddo.

By inviting you to submit, I in no way whatsoever promised a glowing review of your work and therefore could not have "stabbed you in the back." To have given you something your work doesn't yet merit would be dishonest and that is exactly what authors do NOT need from POD BOOK reviewers.

This is a brutal industry and as a small press published author myself, I can sympathize with your situation. However, I've paid for plenty of copies of my own work to send to reviewers and I've taken the review given with the understanding that it was there honest opinion of my many cases I agreed with their criticisms and seek to improve myself as a writer based on those criticisms. It is sad to see you don't feel this way, however my intent to provide constructive criticism for POD authors remains the same. Blowing sunshine in the faces of authors who need to improve their work in order to stand a real chance of success in our brutal book market is a far worse crime than an honest but critical review that is meant to raise the standards we publish by."


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


is the work of one called Dark Muse (Jerry). As you can see, Jerry is quite the talented graphic artist and has some of the best prices for this sort of work I've ever seen. Considering the quality of these illustrations, I'd say Irish Eyes Creations is a bargain! Cover work for the downtrodden self publisher is hard to come by in quality. Generally we end up settling for the bottom of the barrel, but here we have an extremely good alternative. Jerry doesn't specifically list book covers among his list of projects on the site, but having communicated with the artist, Jerry has indicated that book covers are included in the pricing. And for that, you will just have to go to this simple but eloquent site and see for will be surprised!

Monday, April 09, 2007


Delon City: Book Two of the Oz Chronicles by R.W. Ridley turns up the heat on the young hero we got to know in book one of the Oz Chronicles, The Takers.

Young Oz Griffin has awoke, seemingly in the future, to find himself an adult in the office of a criminal psychologist. Oz has apparently murdered two people dear to him on the basis of the delusions he's been having. Oz believes he is still fourteen years old and has just defeated the Takers by killing their queen, only to see the more terrifying Delons take over in their place. Nothing is as it seems for Oz and he realizes he can trust noone, but hypnosis allows him to go back to his perceived past to take on the Delons and hopefully solve the mystery of 'when' he really is.

Whereas The Takers was a fairly straight forward monster-fest, and a good one to boot, Delon City is a multilayered masterpiece that takes us on a journey into what may be real or simply the machinations of a lunatic. By the end of the book, but by no means the end of the story, we have several clues to help us understand what the true reality is. And Mr. Ridley uses these clues deftly to hook the reader for book three.

Still, along the way in Delon City we find a more organized and brutal enemy in the purple, dead-eyed Delons. Oz is up against something far more sinister than ravenous beasts like the Takers, who make their own appearance in this installment. The Delons haven't simply removed every human on Earth, they've begun to assimilate them, turning them into Delons! A caste system of sorts is in play upon the Earth now, with some remaining human cows for Delon food, others as mutated outcasts called 'halfers' and the Delons themselves. Mr. Ridley is a master storyteller and continues to deliver thrills and chills abundantly as he describes a darker dimension the world has been plunged into; complete with even more twisted baddies than ever before.

  • "After nightfall, I crawled out of my window and silently guided Chubby through the yard into our neighbor's, the Drucker's, backyard. There was a time that they would have immediately stormed out of their house and ran to my mother and father, demanding that my parents punish me for trespassing on their perfect lawn of Bermuda grass. Instead, Mr. Drucker, a round little man with thinning blonde hair and thick black rimmed glasses, smiled a phony smile from his living room window as I passed. Mrs. Drucker, purple complexion, grayish hair mixed with spider legs, eyes not quite dead, stood beside him holding a live mouse by the tail. Dinner."

Mr. Ridley has the ability to build the tension in a scene to a fever-pitch, like a guitar string wound to the point of breaking at any moment.

  • "I stopped. It was a trap. My mind knew it. But is was Gordy's sister. If there was the smallest chance she could be helped, then I had to help her. I walked back up the stairs as if I were climbing the final peak on Everest. Every step was carefully calculated, and every prayer I had ever heard in my life came spewing out of my mouth uncontrollably. I stood in the upstairs hallway, eyes focused on the room above the garage. I flipped the light switch, but nothing came on. "No lights. No eyelids. No lights. No eyelids." The voice screeched throughout the house. I moved down the hallway as silently as I could, but still she heard me. She counted each step I took. "Three steps closer. Four steps closer. Here he comes. here he comes!" -- "Allie," I said. -- "He calls me Allie!" Her voice was shrill with excitement. -- "Allie Flynn." -- "Ten steps closer. Eleven steps closer. Twelve steps and at the door. He's at the door! He's at the door!" -- "Allie," I said. "Your not making this easy. I want to help you." -- "Help me, Oz Griffin. Please, help me." -- I turned the knob and let the door open slowly on its own. The room was a guest bedroom. The mattress from the bed was stacked against the window to keep out the light. 'No lights. No eyelids.' she had said. In the darkest corner of the room, directly opposite the door, I saw a silhouette of a little girl. She stood motionless. She was taller than I remember. -- "We're so hungry, Oz Griffin." -- I forced myself to move forward. The hammer was raised, cocked back, and ready to crash down on her head at any time. "Take it easy, Allie. I'm here to help." Two thirds of the way to Allie, I realized it wasn't her at all. It was a coat rack. I stood in the middle of the room, completely vulnerable. I scanned the room in every direction. My heart went from a nervous flutter to a brutal pounding. "Allie?" -- "We're so hungry." -- The voice came from above me. I jerked my head up. There, crawling on the ceiling like an insect, was Gordy's little sister. Her skinless body was fire red with patches of black. She wore a lipless grin."

Delon City is darker than its predecessor and honestly would get a PG-13 rating for intense imagery and mild language. However it never ceases to pull the reader relentlessly through its short 210 pages. The book has been well designed inside and out and if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Ridley has done all of the cover work on both books himself. I was curious about Delon City's cover, but once you get into the story details it seems the perfect choice. There are maybe ten grammatical errors in the entire novel; mostly words in place of the correct word or a few missing words. Honestly this suspenseful young adult horror story had me saying "who cares?" it's so good. This is one of those stories that perplexes me; how it didn't get published with a large publisher. My only true regret with Delon City is that it left me hanging hungrily on the last words, wishing Book Three was already available!

Friday, April 06, 2007


When an Angel Falls, by Stephanie Jarrett is an exciting fantasy based in the realm beyond our natural sight.

Laura is a semi-mortal; an Angel who lives in a mortal body in order to assist other spirits during their mortal trials while on Earth. When she is sought out by mortals who know her indentity, her past transgressions and their repercussions explode upon a spiritual world immersed in the turmoil of war.
Despite the fact this title was published with a bad homemade cover and proofreaders for editing, the story really saves the book. This is one of those sad cases where a gifted storyteller has published with a subsidy publisher (iuniverse) without the funds necessary to get the best product possible.

Jarrett begins in a subtle manner, escalating steadily into a full blown Angelic war. The protagonist and the conflict are multilayered and interesting to follow. Jarrett uses suspense techniques well, giving carefully placed hints at the ends of the chapters to pull the reader on to new revelations in the story. This Angel has a dark past and the path to her redemption is paved through a gauntlet of fellow spirits whose trust is next to impossible to reclaim after all she has done to abuse her power.
Jarrett deftly takes the reader below the surface to watch Laura's inner struggle with obtaining forgiveness from others as well as herself.
  • Example: "Laura stared at the paper and saw before her something that she would never have, a clean slate. Each white umblemished parchment that Scott produced would soon be filled with her darkest secrets. Far from erasing anything from her past, her deeds would be forever recorded in the books of history for all to see. These writings would serve as a testament of her wickedness, her imperfection, and her unworthiness. The pen could narrate strengths to cancel evidence of weakness in character, and record reparations to absolve guilt, but with a few strokes, her shame would become immortalized."

  • "Prior to Laura speaking out during Beacon assignments, it was a world that he (Michael) thought he understood well. Yet so much had gone so wrong in such a short amount of time, and he sensed that it was going to get much worse. he tried to imagine when it was that he lost his focus. At some point in time, his own will became more important than the will of God. The war was no longer fought to defend an ideology that embraced The Lord; it was now fought with indifference to Him. The battles were personal. It was revenge."

When an Angel Falls is an engaging story of redemption, but isn't a place to find accurate theology. Jarrett's realm of spirits bares little resemblance to the Bible. But she has created a fantasy realm all her own and has taken the time to flesh it out; spiritual technologies and all. This book could definitely use a facelift--a little nip and tuck to the editing and the cover that would make it as interesting as the story contained within, but taking the time to look beneath the cover will reward you with a richly told story from a writer we hope to read more from.


Well, visitors are up and submissions are up in the wake of POD-DY MOUTHS demise by her own hand. And we've got no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. Heck, this is fun!
Submissions will not be closing anytime soon...I only mention that because my friend POD CRITIC is closing down submissions when the IRS does.
We've got more book reviews coming soon and a few interviews are on the docket with some of our favorite authors. Who knows, you and your book might be the next one we ask. We are ever on the search for well done novels and great stories. If you find your book doesn't receive a great review, then by all means take it constructively. This is the manner in which all reviews on our site are meant to be received. We want you the author to become better at your craft, not discouraged.
Writing a novel is a tremendous undertaking which requires patience, talent and endurance. To become a great writer takes these elements and more...a bit of being in the right place at the right time never hurt anyone in this industry!
So, do the best you possibly can. Invest time and any necessary expense to produce the best book you can; particularly I'm addressing self publishers and small press editor/owners. You must give you or your contracted authors the best possible chances for success. It's a jungle out, welcome to the jungle!

Friday, March 30, 2007


As we attempt to push the poor P.O.D. authors and small presses to raise their standards, it becomes necessary to deal pointedly with an issue that has plagued many a recently reviewed book here at PODLINGS...
Ugly, unprofessional covers can do more for killing the scraps of attention your book might get in an online market than just about anything else.
Why? Because it is the first and potentially last thing people will see of your book. Do you think you can't judge a book by its cover? Consumers do it everyday and all to often that judgment is accurate. So, we'd like to site some examples along with comments about what makes them good or bad to give you, the self publishing author or small press owner, some food for thought when obtaining your next book cover design--you know...when you get around to fiddling with the photoshop software you bought to produce your own modern art masterpiece, despite the fact you haven't even read the instruction manual.
Below are some small press to self published covers along with their strengths and/or weaknesses...are you taking notes?

This cover from Velluminous Press in the U.K. may appear simple, but notice that there is actually quite a bit of detail. The background is sort of like an old worn parchment and that big detailed eye, with lids formed from the background material, instantly captures your attention. These elements combined with the odd title, give you no idea about the story within, but you just can't help but be curious about it.

This cover from Breakneck Books Publishing has alot going on: A forboding castle set with appropriate shadowing when compared to the dusky sky above, an armored hand weilding a vortex of power, and the dark knight on the back. Notice how the cover text is all positioned correctly and the different text styles all compliment one another. Everything says, "Professional." If you're thinking, yeah they paid big bucks for that cover. You'll be surprised to know that the owner of Breakneck designed these covers personally, albeit not without some artistic background.

Now, see if you can spot the small press from the self published efforts!!

If you were paying attention, then you should have noticed a great deal more depth and character to those self published or small press covers which have put forth considerable effort to accomplish one goal: "Become indistinguishable from books on bookstore shelves!" This is but one of the few key hurdles you face as POD authors to being taken more seriously by the mainstream publishing industry.