Book Reviews XIV

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall

I honestly believe every indie author needs this book on their shelf.

I’ve made no secret on several different platforms my creative problems of late. The reasons for this struggle are numerous, but at least through Consistent Creative Content, I now have a road map for getting back on the proverbial horse. At the height of my writing powers, I was publishing two novels a year and averaging a blog post a week — and it’s no coincidence that numbers, meager though they were, were much better than they are now.

Lee Hall’s brief how-to not only offers a road map; it’s also inspiration (for things I can do going forward) and validation (that, in some ways, I was on the right track when I was at my best and most productive). I also appreciate that Hall didn’t just tell us how to promote our work — he also offered concrete examples of promotions he had run, and the results therein.

I still have a long creative road ahead (and patience is not one of my virtues), but Hall’s Consistent Creative Content is another example of a book I needed, right when I needed it. This is the sort of book I wish had existed when I first published Bounty back in 2015, but I’m glad to have it now.

Indie authors of any stripe — whether they’ve never published before or they have a backlog dozens of books deep — would do well to have a copy of this book. There really is something in here for everybody, and if 2022 winds up being my creative resurgence, this book will be a big reason why.

Rating: *****

Consistent Creative Content is available in paperback and Kindle.

The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu by Tom Lin

A book I bought solely based on the blurb, The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu wound up being a much more languid, slower-paced read than I expected — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Make no mistake: this book is every bit as violent as promised. It is brutal, frank, and visceral, yet Tom Lin’s prose reads like that of a more practiced author, not someone who’s graced our bookshelves for the first time. His style has a cadence and a flow to it, almost like he’s dancing with the words on the page.

That rhythm pairs nicely with the blood. It’s even better when things slow down.

As brutal as Thousand Crimes is– a brutality reflecting an America not only then, but an America now in a lot of ways — this book is also ponderous. Almost philosophical at times. As is sometimes the case, though, the protagonist is the least interesting character of the whole lot, and much of the fun comes not in Ming making progress in his mission, but the way the characters in orbit interact — if not with him, then with each other.

There’s also the matter of an abrupt ending — so abrupt, it almost feels like it snuck up on the author, too. It’s an ending with finality, if not a satisfactory one, and for a book that truly felt like a journey, the proverbial brakes screeching was slightly disorienting.

Still, Lin has penned a magnificent debut. A deft, beautifully written tale of love, loss, hate, betrayal, and blood. Lots and lots of blood.

Rating: ****

The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and Kindle.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig’s latest, The Book of Accidents, is a horror novel. As such, it is equal parts disturbing, unnerving, and, to some degree, terrifying.

It is also surprisingly touching.

I will admit to some ignorance when it comes to the horror genre – whether in print or on screen, it’s not a genre I’m familiar with or interested in – but Wendig is one of those authors whose work I’ll support regardless, so I was eager to get my hands on The Book of Accidents. And what I found was a lot of heart – much more than I expected – beyond the mind trips and the blood and the general aura of “what the ever-loving f***?!”

Because if there’s one thing Wendig is particularly good at, it’s the “what the ever-loving f***?!” Whether it’s this book or Wanderers (to date, his best work) or the Miriam Black novels or even, to an extent, Damn Fine Story, Wendig makes a habit of having you asking yourself WTF, even as you continue to flip the pages.

Pacing is this book’s biggest sin, but only occasionally, though I admit that’s a by-product of me being emotionally invested in certain characters more than others. Wendig’s command of the written word is as strong as ever, and he takes great pains in making sure you care about who you’re supposed to care about – otherwise, none of the scary stuff would matter.

If you like the genre, this is probably already on your shelf. If it’s not, it really should be.

Even if it ends up being too disturbing to pick up again.

Rating: ****

The Book of Accidents is available in hardcover, audiobook, and Kindle.