29 July 2013

Guest Post: Why Author Evan Ramspott Created the Book Label "Better Hero Army" as a Pen Name by Evan Ramspott

Yesterday I reviewed Evan Ramspott's five-star zombie feast Plagued. Eagle eyed readers might have noticed that instead of Evan's name on the front cover, the author is given as the label "Better Hero Army". Today Evan joins us in a guest post to explain why he has chosen not to use his name. - Tome Keeper

In February, I had an idea for a series of short zombie books, eNovellas of about 100 pages each. They would all be quick reads, enjoyable, well written, and at a consumer-friendly price point. In essence, I wanted to bring back dime-store pocket-novels in a modern format.

In early July, the first of these eNovellas hit the market on Amazon as an e-book for the Kindle reader platform. The cover, illustrating a beautiful young woman with hazy eyes, prominently shows the name of the book, Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment, and underneath the title a by-line that reads, Better Hero Army. There’s no mention of me except in the copyright notice page.

Something to understand about me is that I am not technically a zombie fiction writer. Far from it, actually. My debut novel that I hope to have published in 2014 is a historic fiction story that is written for a literary and mainstream audience. My second novel, currently being written, is a mainstream fiction story. Following that, I plan to release a modern pop-culture piece. The zombie world would eat a literary writer like me alive, and the literary world, well, let’s just say they don’t pick zombie book writers first when it comes to any lifetime achievement awards.

Yet I love zombie thrillers. I love science-fiction, fantasy, and adventure. Writing a zombie thriller is as fun for me as it is to read one. It shouldn’t preclude me from writing literary fiction either, but it’s a cruel world, and if one of my literary readers were to indulge in Plagued, I have doubts that they would return for my next mainstream book.

That’s why I started a label instead of publishing under my own name. That and to build a brand name that people could trust, controlled by me, with a single-minded goal of entertaining. The publishing industry would lead you to believe that there is a formula to successful literature, that by creating the appropriate story arc and following guidelines of characterization and dialogue you will appeal to the broadest spectrum of readers. Well, this is the zombie apocalypse we’re talking about here. Rules and stuff like that left when the grey skinned walking dead with their blue-green swirls of smoke wafting out of bullet-hole wounds in their chests started knocking on the door. They’re moaning for relief. They’re hungry for something with a little more meat on its bones than the formula that turned them in the first place.

Hopefully my Better Hero Army label will deliver.

Do you think that mainstream audience would reject a writer of zombie-fiction? Do you think that all authors should use a range of names when publishing in different genres? Add your comments below.

28 July 2013

Review: Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment by Better Hero Army

Set years after a zombie outbreak has swept through the USA, Plagued follows Tom Jefferson, a privileged young man who lives in one of the safe districts of the new America. In this new world, de-venomed zombies are used as slaves and sold in large trading posts. Tom and his older brother are sent out to one of these posts to check the slave records in an attempt to find his sister Larissa, who was turned during one of the initial outbreaks. Here he finds a half-bread captive zombie, Penelope, who he thinks might know where his sister is. When zombies swarm the trading post Tom escapes into the wilderness with Penelope and a band of zombie hunters and visitors, and may have just gotten the chance he needs to find Larissa, but can he survive long enough?

I was extremely impressed with this first offering from Better Hero Army. Unlike some of the more formulaic offerings that fill the shelves of bookshops under ‘Zombie Fiction’, Plagued takes a very different path, although this is not immediately obvious from the summary. Better Hero Army takes some common plot elements, for example a survivor searching for a loved one and turns it on its head. I can’t say more or I’ll ruin the ending. The novella felt more like a snippet from a much longer novel but at the same time didn’t leave the reader wanting. I would however love both a sequel and a prequel.

The book throughout is well crafted, I could not fault the characters or the writing. If anything my complaint is that the book ended so soon! The background to the story is effortlessly woven into the story, which means there are no whole chapters devoted to back story to slow the pace down. The relationships between Penelope and Peske, and Penelope and Tom, are sympathetically written, although simple.

Overall an impressive novella, with an intelligent and unique take on the zombie world, which should be ranked up there with the works of Recht and Brooks in the Zombie genre. A must read for zombiephiles, and a rare example of the genre which should appeal to a much wider audience from thriller fans to romance readers.

Plagued is available from Amazon UK for £2.03 and Amazon US for $3.02. 

[A review copy was provided by the author]

27 July 2013

Free e-book: Bitch Hollywood by Robert Bryndza and Jan Bryndza

From today until the 29th July, the authors of Bitch Hollywood are giving away their book FREE on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. The book, which is a celebrity comedy, has been given an 4-star average rating on Amazon since its release last summer. More information on the book and the authors can be found here.

To download your copy please pick the relevant Amazon site:

Note: As will all freebies advertised on this site, please check the price on the Amazon site before purchasing. Information has been given by the author and I take no responsibly for inaccuracies. 

24 July 2013

Free e-book: The Unburied Dead by Douglas Lindsay

Get your hands on the new detective novel picking up lots of five star reviews on Amazon. The first book in Douglas Lindsay's new Thomas Hutton detective series, The Unburied Dead is currently available on Amazon free of charge.

Douglas Lindsay is no stranger to the writing game, he is the author behind the successful Barney Thomson serial killer series, the first book of which is also free to download on Kindle here.

There is already a second installment to the new Thomas Hutton series on the way, so this is a perfect opportunity to get yourself up to speed and to discover a new series over the summer.

The following summary is from GoodReads:

"A psychopath walks the streets of Glasgow, selecting his first victim. He sees his ex-girlfriend everywhere, and he will have her back.

When a woman is savagely murdered, her body stabbed over a hundred times, the police know from the nature of the crime that the killer will strike again. DCI Bloonsbury, the once-feted detective, is put in charge of the investigation, but as the killer begins to hit much closer to home and an old police conspiracy starts to unravel, Bloonsbury slides further into morose alcoholic depression.

In the middle of it all is Detective Sergeant Thomas Hutton, juggling divorce, deception, alcohol, murdered colleagues, and Dylan. He could use a break but the dead will not rest and the past will not be buried until he can catch the latest serial killer to haunt the streets of his city"

Choose the right site to download your copy now:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Note: Always check the price listed on Amazon before purchasing. The price here was correct at the time of being posted but may change without notice. 

22 July 2013

News: New Ken McClure book out September 5th

Whilst browsing Amazon earlier, I was very pleased to see that the next installment of the Dr. Steven Dunbar series by Ken McClure is due for release in September. The Secret (#10 in the series) will come out on September 5th. It is currently listed on Amazon as a hardback but publisher Birlinn does say it will be available as an e-book; fingers crossed that it will be a simultaneous release.

21 July 2013

Review: Badwater by Toni Dwiggins

Badwater follows a team of forensic geologists (think CSI with rocks) as they race against time to stop a catastrophic release of nuclear waste in unspoiled Death Valley. The premise of the book fascinated me from the start, although, to my shame, I could not see how rocks could be that interesting. I was however pleasantly surprised.

The book has a trilling start, a road crash site in the middle of the desert with a murdered driver and a missing barrel of nuclear waste. The thrills continue throughout the book, which has a good pace, and whist the reader is aware of the culprit from the start due to his narrative in one of the first chapters, the reader is kept guessing as to who else can be trusted, which keeps things interesting. The forensic geology is well integrated into the plot, and is not just brushed to the side as can happen in these types of ‘CSI’ books; and I found both the geology and the nuclear science very accurate and interesting. I had a good chuckle at some of the more sciencey jokes in the book too – such as the analogy of the three types of radiation as the Three Little Pigs. There are numerous references to different places in Death Valley in the book – and the inclusion of a map at the start is a nice touch and makes it easier to picture the places when they are mentioned.

The only slight source of irritation for me was the, at times, heavy use of colloquial spelling such as “Shore Thang” which tended to jar me out my flow of reading. I can understand the author trying to get across the local accent, but I felt in this case it wasn't needed and was inconsistently used. There were also a few grammatical issues (such as mixed used of the first and third person) but these did not affect my enjoyment of the book.

Overall a quick, but very enjoyable read which should appeal to any fan of science based thrillers. I will be looking forward to reading the second book in the series – Volcano Watch. Badwater was awarded the 2012 Best Indie Whodunnit award from Wired.com.
Badwater is available as an e-book for £2.36 from Amazon, and is also available in dead-tree and audio-book formats

[Review copy provided by the author] 
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