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.

Commune Book Two – Progress Update #editing #writing #goodgodletitbeover

slamFirst editing pass is complete on the manuscript.  I’m not sick of the story just yet, which is good, but I soon will be after a few more passes.  Time to send her out to some beta readers now.  Unfortunately, there are few enough of those in my little circle that can read and critique a book in a timely manner – not due to lack of interest, of course.  None of these people actually get paid; they just do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  The thing about being a grownup is that your life is busy as hell.  I’m grateful to the folks who are willing to lend a hand.  To those of my friends lacking the time: I totally get it.  Just buy a copy when it comes out and we’ll call it even 😛

Commune Book Two Progress #apocalypse #amwriting

Well, I crossed the 110K word mark today.  Judging how much there is left in the story to cover for this entry, I’m guessing the final count will be somewhere around 130 to 140K, which is alright with me.  The good news is that I think I can still have it finished by August, but that’s probably only the first draft.  It’ll need to go through a few edits and such.

I didn’t have much of a target length for this book so much as I knew what the plot needed to be and what I wanted to cover.  I’m not sure if I’m surprised or not at the scope of this story.  I knew there were going to be several more people in it, that I’d have to deal a bit more with group dynamics, and that there would need to be some world building due to the fact that we’re now over a half-year into the post apocalypse and the world needs to be getting harder to live in as resources get consumed.

The biggest challenge by far has been keeping myself limited to telling the story in first person from POV characters.  It’s hard because as the writer, I’m aware of everything that’s going on in this world that I’d like to be sharing with you, the reader, and yet I can’t because the perspectives of my characters can’t see much further than the little valley they’ve carved out for themselves.  It’s important that I keep it up at least until the end of this book, though.  The idea that perspective of the narrator shades the story is a big part of what I’m trying to convey in these stories; giving up 1st person would obliterate that intent.

Should you be interested, you can find the first book in the series at this link.  Get yourself up to speed; these stories aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Vacations and Book Research #amwriting #postapocalypse #books #fiction

I’ve been on vacation out on Catalina Island for the last week and a half, so I’ve been pretty quiet with the whole on-line thing.  I’ve read this is a big no-no in terms of social media connectivity – you basically have to keep quacking out into the great big empty if you want to keep people engaged.  There is such a thing as decompression, though, dammit.

It’s been good being disconnected.  It’s kind of like when I wrote my first book.  I wasn’t trying to sell anything or engage with anyone.  I was just trying to bang out a good story.  This little media disconnect has taken me back to that early kind of momentum.  This has been good for the second entry in the Commune series; the book currently stands at 91K words with a lot more stuff to cover before it’s done.  I’m still projecting a finish around August (I’d love to have it all done by the time the Audio book for Book One is released), but who the hell knows at this point?  The story has already taken enough unexpected turns that I’m giving up on predicting anything.  I can say with certainty that book two is available well before the end of this year.  As far as the audio for book two?  Eh.  R. C. Bray is a busy dude.  He’ll get to it when schedule permits, I’m sure.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to post links to some of the articles and information I dug up while doing research for these books.  There’s a broad array of stuff to cover and still quite a bit more to go.  Never thought I’d know as much as I do about burning poop…

In addition to the below links, I am indebted to a collection of friends who have served in the Military over the years and who have been gracious enough to consider and answer my questions regarding their lives and experiences.  These people include H. S. Brandt (USMC), James R. Clark (US Army), and Brett Nelson (USMC).  All of these folks will get a mention in the coming book; they have been instrumental in this whole process.

Marine/Military Life
http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/01/04/were-getting-out-of-the-marines-because-we-wanted-to-be-part-of-an-elite-force-2/
https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/lingo/b
https://undertheradar.military.com/2015/05/37-been-there-done-that-nicknames-for-military-gear/
http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-98713.html

Weaponry
https://www.botach.com/pws-mk1-mod2-long-stroke-piston-rifle-5-56mm-18-bbl/
https://tacmedaustralia.com.au/graphic-grisly-effects-high-velocity-gunshot-wound-leg/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.56%C3%9745mm_NATO#Improvements
https://deserttech.com/product_overview.php?product_id=2&load=product_overview
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_HK416

Logistics
http://www.alu.army.mil/alog/issues/SepOct01/MS673.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classes_of_supply
http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/dealing-with-human-waste-and-hygiene/
https://dmna.ny.gov/foodservice/docs/Field_Sanitation_Team_Certification_Course/Instructor_Manual/L006LP_Waste_Disposal_LP.pdf