Book Review #1 “To Drown in Sand” by: B.C. Laybolt

In an effort to support regional authors, I’m going to start reviewing books written by Atlantic Canadian authors.

There will be two conditions though:

  1. They will be “genre fiction”.
  2. I will have the authors permission to post the review. I realize that I don’t need it, but I wish to maintain respectful ties with each of these talented authors.

Book Review #1 “To Drown in Sand Book One Lunen Regiment Trilogy” by: B.C. Laybolt.

I would like to start off by saying that if you enjoy good quality military sci-fi actions scenes, then this story is for you. It felt like an homage to several Warhammer 40K Imperial Guard novels that I love, while at the same time bringing something fresh and new to the reader.

There is an amazing amount of detail to the characters and setting of the story, you really felt like you were slugging through the sand, or dead bodies… 😉 The attention to detail with wounds, hand-to-hand fighting, “fog of war”, and several other factors shows how much effort went into researching this novel. I now know what it must feel like to wipe brains off of my face after a mortar explodes!

The only reason why I didn’t feel comfortable giving it 5 stars, is that I felt a bit lost in the first third of the novel. In my opinion, it really could have used a bit more “setting the scene” and world-building for the reader. I have no doubt that there are reams of backstory and history in files someplace at the authors home, I just feel the reader could have made use of them.

As stated on the cover, this story is the first in a trilogy and it reads as such. The reader is left finishing the first book with a clear ending, but the author also managed to make you wanting more, as important information about the protagonists past is revealed at the end.

My biggest suggestion is that book two open with a “big picture” overview and short summary of what happened, and to whom in book one.

My review: 4 out of 5 stars


Is “Cable” an anchor to my writing?

In the process doing renovations to new house and slowly moving possessions from old one, I found it necessary to cancel my internet and cable at the old house to save a few bucks. That meant when I got home from work, I had nothing to entertain myself with. Even my T.V. and laptop were already at the new place and a person can only play so much Candy Crush on their phone before their mind turns to jelly (pun intended).

I have no lack of books to read, and this has given me a chance to do some catching up in that department, but I also noticed an unintended side-effect of no cable TV, my imagination bloomed.

After a very intense dream (I almost never remember my dreams), I started working on a project that continues to stay with me more than a week after the dream. Now when I get home from my day job, and deal with the long-suffering cat (just ask him!), I sit myself down at the kitchen table (only chairs left in the old place) and scribble out a page or two of my story.

My dream has quickly turned into full-fledged novel idea with even a minor cliff-hanger allowing for a sequel.

Is it coincidence that the best novel idea I’ve ever had, came to me after cutting out cable? Maybe so, but I challenge you to give it a try,  give yourself a 5 day challenge of no TV, Netflix, DVD’s, etc… and see if your subconscious opens the floodgates within you. It could be that a great idea is just waiting to break out if we allow our brains to create, rather than having it force-feed another’s work.

Oh, and for those of you interested, I didn’t have cable installed at new house, Fibre-Op yes, because I’m not a Neanderthal 😉


Genesis of a writing area…

Hey kids,

Sorry for the lack of contact lately, but there is quite a bit going on in my world at the moment, sadly none of it involves writing.

Well, that’s not 100% true.

The fiance and I took possession of our new  (to us) home on the 15th, though neither of our homes has sold yet, hooray for 3 mortgages!! The process of moving will take a while as we’re making some flooring changes in 3 rooms and modifications to the master bedroom.

Though through intense negotiations, I was able to slip in a clause into the “cohabitation agreement” (page 27, paragraph 3, subsection K) which will allow me to have a dedicated writing area.

It will be a little corner in our downstairs den, my back will be to the fireplace and I’ll be away from a lot of the noise from the playground across the street.

I hope to make the move soon and get it set up, I’m eager to put pencil to paper.

“I can write at work?”

Well… maybe not in the way that you’re used too, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

My “real life” job is as a boiler and refrigeration operator for a government facility, and in the summer things can be pretty slow, which means general maintenance jobs are a part of my day.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy mopping mechanical room floors, but it does allow my mind to wander and that’s an important tool.

For me, if I can allow my body to go into autopilot, my mind can disengage from the real world for a while and skip down the narrow hallways of my mind. This is a perfect time for me to explore a world in which I have a story placed, maybe that town I mention in a previous story now features in a new one. Perhaps an idea that had been flitting around like a bird finally sits still long enough for me to get a good look at it and “capture” it.

I used to beat myself up for being too tired to write in the evenings after a long physical day, but now I realize that “wool gathering” can also be an important part of the process and lays the groundwork for when I do have the time to put pencil to paper.

Writing can be with us throughout our day, we just need to “find” it.

Post ECCE review.

Last weekend I took part in ECCE (East Coast Comic Expo) as a vendor, and every year I do so, I learn something new.

Now the majority of my focus (and display table) was devoted to my used bookstore, I do believe a lot of the things I do as a shop owner can easily translate to authors peddling their wares. Below are some of the things that work for me:

  • Dress for the occasion. Since ECCE is devoted to the geek/nerd culture, I made sure I wore some of my finest nerdy t-shirts, as did most of the attendants.
  • Stand. It’s been my experience that if you’re sitting behind your table, not everyone feels comfortable approaching you, probably some unconscious social trigger. If you’re on the same line of sight, we as humans seem more comfortable.
  • Engage the public. Clearly, not everyone will be a customer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t greet everyone who stops to look, or ask how they’re enjoying the event. Heck, I even usually ask what “treasures” they have found, and they’re keen to show you. While we live in this modern age of devices and social media, we still survive by our “rep”, word of mouth can make or break you.
  • “Take away”. Give everyone who takes the time to pause at your display something to take away with them. It could be something material, such as your business card or a piece of candy from the “free candy” bowl (btw, best $6 you’ll spend), or it could be something personal, a kind word or a smile to someone who complements  your set-up.

Each year, I build upon my set-up, try to make it a little more professional than the last, and luckily that has translated into decent sales.

Now to shift focus and get back to writing!

Engen Books represented at the East Coast Comic Expo!

Each convention is a learning experience that I’m able to add too next time. Luckily, the crowds at ECCE were warm and welcoming.

Engen Books

Hello Engen-eers and Foote Soldiers! If you live in the Moncton New Brunswick area, you should stop by the Crossman Community Centre at 99 Wynwood Dr this weekend, May 19-21, and meet one of Engen Books’ up-and-coming authors, Peter J. Foote, who will be appearing with the FictionFirst Bookstore alongside comics legends such as Fred Van Lente (Deadpool), Cary Nord (Daredevil), Daniel Way (Ghost Rider), and our old friendly neighbor from Hal-Con Nick Bradshaw (Wolverine and the X-Men, Spidey).

View original post 363 more words

“You mean I have to do something?”

I’m sure every author starts off thinking that writing that book, novella, or short story will be the hard part, I know I did, sadly I was wrong.

What I’ve learnt, is that everything after “The End” can be a struggle as well, and not always an enjoyable one. I write because I enjoy it, I like sharing a part of myself with the reader, conveying that hard learned life lesson. The written word is my preferred method, because verbally I come across as an idiot!

I don’t like the “selling yourself” part of the process, but that needs to change.

This weekend is the East Coast Comic Expo and my used bookstore Fictionfirst Used Books will once again be having a vendors table at the event. Selling my used books isn’t much of a chore for me, since most of the people who are looking at them are fans of the genre, and are therefore upstanding citizens and are of above average intelligence.

The issue is that I’ll also be selling my works…

This year I will be selling copies of the two anthologies in which I have short stories published Sci-fi from the Rock and  Fantasy from the Rock. Last year I dragged along a couple of copies of SftR and put then on the end of my vendors table and basically ignored them. I sold one copy, and that’s only because the guy hounded me!

This year, that will be changing.

While the majority of my table WILL be focused upon my bookstore, I am creating a special display for the two anthologies. I made an Author Bio sheet, have stands to showcase the two volumes, and even a “free candy” bowl as a icebreaker.

Do I hope to sell a couple of books? Sure I do, but I also hope to connect with other nerds and geeks and become comfortable selling myself, rather than a product.