Review: Seven-Point Star – A Solid Early Work Despite Some Missteps

Woof! This has been a long time coming. And for that, I owe G.S. Taylor an apology. This review was due a while ago, but with the bronchitis knocking everything back, getting this review out and onto the screen has taken far, far longer than expected. But better late than never, and now at last you, my readers, finally have a chance to take a look at my thoughts on Seven-Point Star, Taylor’s first novel.

So let’s get one thing out of the way first: Seven-Point Star is a fairly solid appearance from a new author, with plenty of strong points to it. If you’re looking for the short, 100% blind, spoiler-free review, that’s it. Seven is a fairly strong first work that, especially at the price, is worth picking up and reading through, especially if you’re the kind of reader that admires the particular strengths it does put on display … or if you just enjoy quick alternate history/fantasy reads.

What are those strengths, you might ask? Well, for the spoiler-free summary, here you go—I found the protagonist to be strongly written, mostly in her perspective and unstable teenage vantage point, and the world itself—what we’re given anyway—is almost like a Sci-Fi-Crystal Fantasy fairy tale in the way it comes across. Both these elements stay pretty solid through the course of Seven-Point Star, and if you’re looking for something that delivers those, well, Seven-Point Star will satisfy your thirst … though you will notice weaknesses that run counter to those strengths. In my personal opinion, however, the strengths are just enough to make up for the weaknesses and carry the title on above average. So you’re still going to get a decent read provided you appreciate the strengths for what they are.

Right, with the short, spoiler-free summary out of the way, let’s get a bit more loose with how much this review gives away—without giving away too much, but I will have to reveal a few general concepts as we dive into the book. Hit the jump for spoiler-town!

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Where Amazon Can Improve for Authors and Readers

Well this post has been a long time in coming.

No, seriously. We’re currently on Topic List IX, right? This post was a considered topic back on topic list VIII. Or maybe it was VII. I only started keeping track of carry-over topics with list number IX.

Point being, this one’s had a while to stew. It wasn’t a proper topic for Being a Better Writer, which meant that it needed to get it’s own posting on a day that wasn’t Monday, and so … well, after a few months of looking for time, here we are.

So, to the task at hand, then: Where Amazon can improve. I’ll warn you now, if you’re one of those readers that bears a solid dislike, or a powerful grudge against Amazon for some reason, this probably isn’t going to be the post for you. Likewise if you’re one of those convinced that the rise of Amazon will be the downfall of all that is holy about books and the publishing industry. See, while no company is perfect, from my perspective Amazon’s entrance into the publishing industry, along with its associated push in favor of ebooks and a more open publishing sphere, is a good one. Not perfect, but good.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, and that’s where today’s post comes in. See, I’ve been published on Amazon for several years now, and while I do like their service … it’s not perfect. No, far from it. There’s actually quite a bit of room for improvement, quite a few flaws that really could be fixed up to make Amazon’s publishing—and specifically, their Kindle service—not only more appealing, but easier and simpler to use. And I worry that since Amazon has entered a position of dominance as far as indie publishing goes, they’re simply going to do what they have been doing—which is rest on their laurels—rather than really looking to improve their service on both ends. Because as a platform that I sell my products on, I want my readers to have the very best experience. And if Amazon doesn’t improve, well, that leaves it open for someone else to sneak in offering services and advantages that, quite honestly, Amazon should have added years ago.

Right, enough beating around the bush. To put it plainly and simply, Amazon has stagnated. The only reason that they’re still on top is that no one else has come along offering anything better in large enough quantities to entice Amazon’s authors and clientele away. But the truth is, it’s only a matter of time until that does happen. Anyone who’s used Amazon’s Kindle service has undoubtedly looked at it and thought “You know, this would be so much better if …” and inevitably, the someone who thinks that is going to be in a position to do something about it and create something better. At which point a lot of authors might jump ship to the newer, better service.

Customers, too, because what you’re about to look at is not just a collection of what improvements Amazon needs to make for authors. No, customers need improvements as well … and Amazon isn’t delivering them. Again, they’re resting on their laurels, content for the time being to simply do little or nothing to improve their service. And that needs to change.

So, let’s talk about customer improvements first to Amazon’s Kindle and Self-Publishing services. What needs to be improved that’s fallen drastically by the wayside?

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Colony Picks Up Another Favorable Review!

Just a quick heads up, readers, before I dive off into today’s Being a Better Writer post, but Colony has picked up another favorable review. This time from a book reviewer over on Space Battles who goes by the name of Forum Viking! No relation to this viking, in case you were curious. The book was recommended to him by one of his readers on the site, and when I found out about it, I offered a review copy

In any case, Colony ended up collecting a quite favorable review. In particular, it was praised for the way it subverts many of the conventional trappings of its genre, Forum Viking noting how many books that create “similar” cyberpunkish settings tend to follow the examples and tropes set by the larger titles of the genre, while Colony instead places itself in a very different direction, which helps it feel fresh and unique (which is good, because I never set out to write a cyberpunk, lol, I think it just sort stumbled into that territory). They were also impressed by the depth and work put into Pisces (the world that most of the story takes place on), particularly with regards to the tech, culture, and world of the setting, though noting that the story does this without falling into the trap of technobabble. They also liked the action, the characters, and … Well, yeah. They liked the book. In the end, they ended up giving Colony a solid B, which given their review history is a solid grade indeed.

You can check out the review for yourself here if your interested to see what else Forum Viking had to say, and, of course, I recommend picking up a copy of Colony for your very own right afterwards.

Now, time to work on that BaBW post and Jungle 

Being a Better Writer: Micro-Blast #4

Welcome back, readers, to yet again another Monday Being a Better Writer post that has obviously been relegated to Tuesday. Someday I’ll make enough money from my writing to be able to give up my part-time job, but right now … if they want me on Mondays, they unfortunately have me.

So, this week we’re doing another Micro-Blast! New? Wondering what a “Micro-Blast” is an what it has to do with writing? Thoughts already jumped to something non-writing related already, like those tiny fruit snacks with juice in them?

Okay, maybe I’m just hungry. Anyway, a Micro-Blast is something that usually happens as I near the end of another topic list. This being a real, physical list that I keep on my desk and consult each week to select a topic for the upcoming post. The topics on this list are collected from a variety of sources, usually anything that makes me think “Hey, that would be a good BaBW topic,” but also from readers that write in with questions and requests.

Anyway, these topics can often vary in the amount of effort needed to address them. Sometimes it’s simply a topic where I’d be better suited saying my piece and pointing readers elsewhere, other times it’s just a quick answer that isn’t really deserving of a full break-down on it’s own, but at least merits a paragraph or two, and sometimes it’s just a topic I haven’t done much thought about, and therefore needs more research before I can weigh in one way or another. And then, of course, there are the topics that don’t have any of those issues, and I can write a full post on.

But at the end of a list, what results is often a small collection of leftover topics, a hdgepodge of tiny summaries that, for whatever reason, never got posts on their own.

Micro-Blast BaBW posts are the answer to these small collections of topics. A way to “finish off” each topic list by rapid-fire tackling each remaining issue with a small posting of its own.

So, this said, it’s time to finish off, once and for all, Topic List 8 so that next week, I can start anew with Topic List 9! Which also means you can expect a post later this week asking for suggestions for the list. I’ve got a bundle of my own from the recent LTUE conference, but as always, reader suggestions are a welcome way to add topics.

Anyway, enough rambling! Let’s clear this list!

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Some Colony Review Excerpts

Colony continues to do well, so I thought I’d share with you guys some highlights from the various reviews it’s been collecting!

—An action packed sci-fi adventure filled with excellent, detailed world-building, Colony is a treat for any lover of sci-fi.

—I’m gonna have to redefine ‘BFG.’ In the book, it means ‘Big Freaken Gun.’ But I’m looking at it as ‘Brilliant Freaken Genius’ …

—Totally worth it!

—Max Florschutz is now in my “read everything this guy writes” category.

—I loved the characters and world-building, and was glued to my Kindle pretty much all weekend.

—This book is right up there with Ender’s Game as an original futuristic universe filled with world building, fully fledged characters, and an underlying plot that will leave you guessing until the final act.

—The first part of the book reads like Michael Crichton at his early techno best … The MIDDLE of the book, with the combat scenes, reminds me more of Tom Clancy … go for ‘Red Storm Rising’ or ‘The Hunt for Red October.’

—It’s futuristic—and maybe a bit cyberpunk—enough to appeal to the “what if” in most of us, yet still grounded in enough actual science to still be a believable tangent of future human development.

—An enjoyable Gibson-esq cyberpunk story that feels like it belongs in the annuls of Shadowrun.

—It is my PROUD opinion that ‘Colony’ deserves to be a smash hit. Highly endorse.

Seriously, it’s an amazing feeling to see something do so well. And to those of you who have read it already, just so you know, Colony is an eligible title for the 2017 Dragon Award nominations! Just something to keep in mind when you start wondering on what the best Sci-Fi book you’ve read recently was.

Anyway, I need to be back at work on Jungle! It’s coming along nicely, so expect more hints and tidbits to drop soon!

Colony is a Hit, Guys!

Well, it’s been three weeks, and in that time, Colony has continued to be an absolute hit. At this point, it’s no stretch to call it my most successful title yet. since its release, it’s sold on average two copies per day!

And it keeps selling!

And that’s just sales. Colony is on Kindle Unlimited, and I’m also seeing a number of reads there. How many? Enough that I’m seeing an average of 720 pages read per day. One day hit almost 3,000 pages read.

Yeah, this blows Unusual Events out of the water. As it does One Drink and Dead Silver. None of them are even coming close to this level of success.

Of course, sales mean nothing if the readers aren’t happy, but thankfully I can report that this is not the case. So far, Colony is sitting at a glorious 4.8 Star rating on Amazon, and solid 5 Star rating on Goodreads, and with some pretty glowing reviews to match.

Colony is making a mark on Sci-Fi. A small one in the larger scheme of things, but with clear space to grow.

But there’s only one direction for Colony to go from here. And that’s UP! Which leaves us with only one final question:

Have you read Colony yet?

 

Being a Better Reader: Leaving a Good Review

I’m going to file this one under Being a Better Writer, but as most of you can tell from the title, I consider it more in line with the act of being a good reader than a writer. Though I suppose as a reviewer, you’re going to leave a written review … but by the terminology of what I usually refer to when I say “writing” it is a little different.

Nevertheless, this topic has been one that’s been requested of me not just before, but on multiple occasions, so it’s about time that I got to it on the list of future topics (which, yes, is an actual list that sits on my desk, I’m up to note-paper #8 now). Plus, this topic has the added bonus of coming at a fortunes time: Right on the heels of the release of Colony! Which, having been out for exactly ten days starting today, is just moving into the realm where many of you who acquired it first thing have recently finished it and are now wondering what to do with yourselves now that it’s done. Well, let this post be your not-so-subtle guide.

So, leaving a review. Scratch that, leaving a good review.

We’ll tackle the basics first: What’s the point of leaving a review? Why do so many authors (myself included) stress them as often as possible? Why do so many institutions? Crud, turn to the back of any Kindle ebook, and the last “page” of every book, no matter where it came from, is a reminder page that invites the reader to, now that they’ve finished said book, tweet about it, share it, or leave a review for it on Amazon.com.

Now, the cynical among you might think “Well of course they want you to leave a review on Amazon. After all, they own the site.”

Sure. That’s entirely true. But at the same time, by admitting such, you’re also admitting that there must be a reason to it. Amazon wouldn’t bother doing it if there wasn’t a net gain for them in the process, would they?

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