An open letter to Kurt Schwoppe…

I rarely respond to these.  Most of the time, I don’t care and sometimes, they’re good for a laugh.  But Kurt is a guy who likes the books and thinks I was forced into stretching out #3, so I want to address that.  Here’s his review from Audible:

Love This Series – But Book 3 is a Waste of Time

Publishers are forcing authors with a successful first book to push their storylines out to four or more books versus the standard trilogy. The result is often unsatisfying, go no place, books like this one. Literally nothing of substance happened in this book – NOTHING! The first half was spent simply licking the wounds from all the action at the end of the 2nd Book. The second half was spent setting the stage for the 4th Book. Gayou is an outstanding writer and the amazing ability of R.C. Bray goes without saying, but frankly everything that happened in this book could of been condensed into one or two chapters in a true final book. So I hate to be critical because I have enjoyed this series and like where the storyline is going; but publishers need to quit forcing authors to S T R E T C H things way out when they don’t have the depth of content to make a meaningful book.

So, my recommendation is to pay your dues, buy the book, and try to stay awake for 18 hours. That way we can all hopefully enjoy an amazing forth book. We are counting on you Josh!!!

Dear Kurt,

Thanks for your consideration in reading this series and you concern on the matter.  No, I wasn’t forced to stretch the series into four books by a publisher.  I wrote the 3rd book to be as long as was needed for specific reasons.  I get you feel as though nothing of substance happened in the book.  This is because you have read it passively.  If you can stand it, you might go back and take another pass.

I have buried within this book all of the answers and keys to Jake’s past.  There were two goals: get the reader up to speed on Clay’s group and get the reader up to speed on Jake.

But I’m not going to just give you Jake outright.  I’ll never give you 4.  I’ll only ever give you 2 + 2.  That’s the kind of writer I am.  I don’t want to just give you a story.  I want to build a story with you.  I want you to be part of the process.  Because I cannot sit in the room with you and tell the story, this is the best way to do it.  I give you 2 + 2, and you must find 4.  4 is hidden in the story that happens off the page.

I hope you see this, Kurt.  You’re not one of the guys who simply said, “Blech, this book is garbage!”  You just missed the trick.  I think if you know that a trick is there, you won’t feel as though this book is a loss.  I hope you see this, and that this works for you.  And if you see this, come over to the Super Duper Funtime Shitbus group on Facebook.  There are so many cool people over there theorizing about this stuff all the time.

And if you’re not Kurt, but you’re seeing this, I hope this explains a few things.  Come over to the Facebook group anyway, and say “hi”.

Josh

What a great way to celebrate the release of my third book! Thank you, Dusty!

http://www.dustysharp.com/book-review-commune-3-by-joshua-gayou/

As this is the third book in Joshua Gayou’s Commune Series, I thought I’d take a look back at my reviews of the first two installments. Of the first book I said it was an “excellent first book by a new author.” By the second book, I had dropped the “by a new author” caveat and said that it was simply remarkable. And now, with Commune Book 3, I can faithfully say it is extraordinary. And I’ll add that I believe it is on par with some of the best writers I’ve read, and easily surpasses just about anything else I’ve ever read in the post-apacolyptic genre.

That was a long-winded way of saying C3 is the best one so far. In this one, Mr. Gayou shakes things up a bit with a shift in perspective, switching to third-person narrative versus the multiple-POV first person format of the first two books. It’s immediately evident why he has done so. The story world has expanded, to include narrative threads from people and groups beyond the titular commune. But the change in format also gives Gayou the opportunity to fully stretch his wings as a storyteller. And the result is…well, as I said, nothing short of extraordinary. In addition to the commune members we already know, we’re introduced to a host of new characters (and wow, what characters they are!). With the third-person perspective, the author is no longer stuck inside the head of the POV character. This allows him to paint a picture of every scene that is crisp, vivid, and memorable. And the characters are brought to life in technicolor. Now we, the reader, get to see their own narrow perspectives (or their unreliable memories of events, as the previous books were fashioned as re-tellings by each character), and see every side of each conversation, including a drone’s-eye-view of the POV character, his/her behavior, mannerisms and appearance. And Gayou seems to have an inexhaustible supply of character material to draw on, as the depth and detail of these varied personalities is astonishing. And my god are these characters entertaining! From heart-wrenching moments that leave you on the brink of tears, to hilariously disgusting antics that will leave your sides splitting. These are some of the most memorable characters I’ve read.

One gets the sense that Mr. Gayou isn’t simply showing off. He has a rare talent in sketching these people, but there seems to be a profound reason for this, which we can feel ratcheting up tighter and tigher as the story progresses. Everything is coming to a head at some point. And Mr. Gayou is setting us all up for a fall. He’s doing a masterful job of investing us in these people (both the good guys and bad, I might add), so that the stakes are ever higher when the proverbial feces finally hits the fan.

I won’t spoil any of the plot for you (surely you’ve already read C1 and C2 if you’re considering reading Commune 3). I’ll just say that C3 is a riveting continuation of the story line, expands the cast and , stress-tests a few of the characters (both old and new), and gives more background on some of the more mysterious cast members.

Commune 3 is extraordinary. If I could give it 6 stars, I would.

Had to share this review…

The reviews are really starting to pile up for Commune Book One on Audible, overwhelmingly positive, making me overwhelmingly grateful.  I’d like to share them all but I feel like it would become quickly tiresome for any folks stopping by this blog, who I flatter myself might be interested in my thoughts on storytelling rather than me just sharing the words of others praising my work.  It’s a fine line you walk, teetering between being proud or being…”that guy”.

But I couldn’t help but share this one from Natalie at Book Lovers Life.  What a fantastic way to wake up in the morning!

“Amazing characters!!”

When the world is hit with a CME bigger than the Carrington Event, things quickly go to hell, but humanity perseveres and they try to survive. Just as things are starting to come together, a sickness spreads and kills even more of the survivours. Now we are following a group of people who are intent on trying to make things work.

This book surprised me a lot!! While it follows the basic rule of a post apocalyptic book, it isn’t the plot that makes this shine, it’s the characters and it’s the way the story is told! It’s told to us as a story, the narrator is recording how the Commune came to be but we also see the same story told through multiple characters POV. Now, that can sometimes be awful but it works here, and works well!!

This focuses on 4 people. Jake, Billy, Amanda and her daughter, Lizzy. How the four came together is something you will have to read the book to find out, because I don’t want to spoil it! But it’s a heartbreaking journey for some of them. I loved how they came together, and I think the author does a fantastic job with it. But it doesn’t just stop with them meeting, nope, the journey continues as a group and is captivating and addicting!! I absolutely devoured it.

Every single character is well written and developed, which is rare in a debut book. There is depth to these characters that really captured my attention. Amanda and Lizzy have a hard journey, but they come out stronger. Billy is a great character and a real father figure. Jake is mysterious and I really can’t wait to find out more about him. He is a fantastic character!! I also liked the fact that there isn’t a love story here! While there’s potential, I’m glad the author didn’t feel the need to create one, especially after what Amanda endured.

In all, this is a story of survival when nothing is available anymore. The author really makes you realise how things can change in the blink of an eye! He puts a lot into the world building, but even more into the character development and what he has created was a memorable read, and I can not wait for the next one!!!

R.C Bray… let’s all bow down to the awesomeness that is R.C Bray! His range of tones and voices is impressive and he really knows how to tell a story!! A good story teller can draw you into the book and make you forget everything else, well this is what Bray does. He drew me in and made the story effortless to listen to. It played in my head like a movie and I loved it!! He is a narrator I could listen to every day and feel like I was listening to different people. Amazing performance!!

I was voluntarily provided this audiobook for free from the author, narrator, or publisher. This in no way affected nor influenced my thoughts.

Review: No Time To Bleed by Dusty Sharp #bookreview #thriller

Every so often, a new writer breaks out onto the scene that causes you to wonder: where the hell has this guy been, anyway?  Dusty Sharp appears to be one of these.

He’s recently published a new novella, No Time To Bleed, as a prelude to a series of books featuring protagonist Austin Conrad, a salty old vet turned biker, who must navigate his way through a barrage of gunfire and unfortunate events, some of which were arguably self-inflicted.

Overview

This is a quick little read, both due to the length of the story as well as the fact that this is really a page-turning action shoot-em-up.  Not a lot of information is given outside of the fact that Conrad is done with his biker gang, The Rattlers, and simply wants to walk away from it all.  One gets the impression that this particular gang is a lot less of the weekend-rider, full time lawyer and dentist types and more of the blood-oath, we’ll shoot your ass if you cross us variety.  As the reader, your first clue is that they’re into some very serious shit, Conrad is on the run, and they’re coming after his ass.

And that’s about all the setup this story needs, really.  Conrad is a man who has strayed far enough away from his moral center that he’s decided enough is a enough.  He simply won’t be a party to it any more, consequences be damned.  He has one goal in this story: don’t get dead.

Review: 4/5 Stars

I can’t say where future installments will go, but for this particular novella, I would classify it as popcorn action.  The premise is simple, the characters and their motivations are clear; all the reader really needs to do is buckle up, pull his hat down tight, and hold on.  If you are an action buff; if you enjoy fast-paced action, you’ll read this in a single sitting.

I had a lot of fun with this one.  As someone who tends to look for the deeper meaning in much of his reading, it is good (decadently so) to put such mental gymnastics on hold and just enjoy a good old-fashioned shooter.  Dusty has the genre nailed in this entry.  A portion of this story is clearly a love-letter to the very best of 80’s action  films, right down to the campy one-liners.  The writer also demonstrates a deep knowledge of and abiding affection for the the Mohave desert and the historic back-road highways that stitch across it.  The setting in this story is as much a character as the bikers tearing up the landscape.

The only reason this story didn’t get five stars from me is that I wanted to know more about the protagonist than was offered.  I felt as though I was just getting to know who the guy was, with some very well written character background that aptly accomplished the two-fold task of getting you to care about the character as well as informing that character’s mental and emotional makeup in the present time.  But just as I felt I was really getting into the psychology of the guy, all of that stopped, the guns came out, and shit got real.  I felt as though I hit a stutter step and found myself preferring that this had been a novel rather than a novella.

This, I believe, is more of a personal preference than it is a failing on the writer’s part.  He’s clearly putting this story out as a teaser and, I assume, will be delving into a lot of these character aspects in future entries.  I get that you typically get less in a novella but for me, it just seems backwards.  I personally would have preferred a full length novel, maybe two, with a novella dropped after.  The challenge Sharp has set for himself now is that this short entry is going to get a lot of readers hungry for more; I’ll hope he’s able to put out more at a pace that keeps the interest up.

 

One of the best reviews I’ve ever gotten Commune B2 #communeseries #postapocalypse #dystopia

Originally posted on dustysharp.com:

Commune: Book 2 is a remarkable read, and even manages to improve on the solid first book in the series. And that’s a tall order, as that one came charging out of the gates as a fresh, thoughtful take on the post-apaclyptic theme by rookie author Joshua Gayou. With his sophomore effort, Gayou ratchets up the storyline by digging us deeper into the personalities of several of the main characters, while continuing to advance the overall narrative of the “history” of this fictional community of survivors.

Book 2 primarily expands the story of another of the commune’s main characters, who was briefly introduced in the epilogue to the first book. Gibs is a former Marine, and we meet him and his hapless band of misfits as they struggle to survive amid the ruined cities of Colorado. There are several tense, violent, defining moments where hope seems all but lost, but under Gibs’ will and perseverence they manage to press on. Eventually they make their way to the Jackson, Wyoming, and are taken in by the original settlers of the commune (whose establishment was the subject of the first book). Here, the narrative switches from run-and-gun survival against other groups of more ill intent, and settles into a procedural of planning and working toward their long term survival in a more secure, permanent place. There are some interesting solutions to the problems of housing, food, security, and yes even waste disposal. Gayou has thought of everything.

This is where Book 2 continues with the satisfying breadth of theme and subject matter that was initiated in the first installment. Yes, we get plenty of action, plenty of Road Warrior style confrontations with the bad guys. But mixing in a healthy dose of real-world problems, and the clever solutions to them, helps with the immersion into the story. It lends a level of believability that is absent in the more cartoonish, all-gore-and-grim examples in the genre. And, gratefully for this reader, it also infuses an underlying sense of hope to the story. Yes, disasters happen, the group is fraught with setbacks, but ultimately we can see that they’re laying down the groundwork for long term success. We’re rooting for them.

Which isn’t to say the violence and action take a back seat. The story climaxes in an epic road-borne battle that rivals any I’ve read in the genre. This is the set piece that Gibs’ entire story arc has laid the groundwork for. His colorful personality is matched by his battle-toughness, as he leads his ragtag group of scavengers against an overwhelming force of bad guys. Here is the red meat for hard core fans of the genre.

But Gayou’s talent is in weaving the id and the ego. It’s not all just gunfire and explosions. He’s put some real thought into many of the more basic questions of a post-apaclyptic world, and handled those subjects with skill. The aforementioned survival needs, and their solutions, are a case in point. But Gayou throws subjects into the mix that you’d never even think of, then forces his characters to figure out a solution. One such episode features a member of their own group, who goes off the rails in a way that I’ve never seen addressed in a story of this genre. Several themes come together in that one small corner of the story, such as the subject matter itself, the idea that the monsters a group of survivors must face can come from within as well as without, and also the moral struggle to figure out a just solution.

Commune: Book 2, ultimately becomes more than just a post-apocalyptic narrative. It studies themes that break the norms of the genre, and therefore would be a satisfying read for even those who don’t usually read such books. We see deep character studies, watch them grow and develop, some for the good and some not so. Gayou stress-tests them in a wide variety of situations to see what they do. And its fun to watch.

Disclaimer: I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy by the author at no cost. I was only asked for initial feedback, though there was no requirement to post an official review in exchange for the ARC. However, I enjoyed the book so much that I gladly purchased it anyhow, and am proud to offer my thoughts in this review as a verified customer of the book.

Radio Interview 8/25 @SEvanTownsend @audbks #book #interview

Speculative Fiction CantinaJust a quick reminder that famed audio book narrator R. C. Bray and yours truly will be appearing on the Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast on August 25th at 3 PM, West Coast time, with author and host S. Evan Townsend to discuss my novel Commune Book One.  Bray will also perform a live reading from the novel.

You can view the full event details over at the Facebook page, here!

Learn more about the Speculative Fiction Cantina at this link!

Get a copy of the book here!