Something to Love
Pines by Blake Crouch
Platform: Â Paperback (Amazon)
Small town with a secret! As you probably know, this is one of my favorite sub-genres, and Crouch does a wonderful job with it here.
Non-spoilery synopsis: A Secret Service agent gets in a car accident while in Wayward Pines, Idaho. Bad things ensue.
Spoilery synopsis: Watch the trailer below. This book is being madeÂ into a star-studded TV show and it will air onÂ Fox this fall. It looks beautiful, but the trailer gives away A LOT of the book. You have been warned.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Platform: Digital (Oyster)
I love memoirs that focus on a particular time period or subject rather than jamming a full lifetime into one book. This one is all about Steve Martin’s experiences as a stand up comedian. It tracks his journey from a young man learning the performance ropes at Disneyland all the way through his decision to walk away from stand up forever. Martin is a great writer and this book has a lot to say about art, comedy, and the evolution of a performer.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Platform: Digital (Humble Bundle)
It’s the 1880s. The Civil War is still a thing that is happening. Seattle is a wasteland contaminated by a strange gas that kills people and then brings them back as zombies. The gas can also be used to make a popular (and valuable) drug, so airship pirates frequent the nearly abandoned city to harvest the gas.
So, you know, the usual.
Priest strikesÂ a wonderful balance of action, big ideas, and small character moments. This book is only six or so years old, but it is already considered by many to be a sci-fi classic. It’s steam punk at its finest.
Also, Priest is a fellow Eastern Tennessean. Â Represent!
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Platform: Digital (Oyster)
Annie and BusterÂ Fang kids had weird childhoods. Their parents were performance artists, and they often involved their children in their strange public spectacles. Which is to say that Annie and Buster spent their time creating bizarre scenes at shopping malls. Now the kids are grown up and their relationships with Mom and Dad are rocky at best. But the performance art may not be over yet.
This is book is so strange and wonderful. It’s hard not to use the word quirky, though I will try. It has a bit of a Wes Anderson vibe, which I consider to be a good thing. It’sÂ one of the best books I’ve read this year. Go check it out. (Please and thank you).
In a strange coincidence. Kevin Wilson is ALSO a fellow Eastern Tennessean. Go southern literature!
Fiction Unboxed Â is a project from Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright (hosts of the Self-Publishing Podcast and authors of ‘Write, Publish, Repeat’ and a load of novels). They are pulling back the curtain and broadcasting their story meetings, posting their raw, unedited drafts, and letting the world in on their process as they write a novel in thirty days.
To view all the content, you need to pay, but you can get the rundown on what they are doing each day for free at www.fictionunboxed.com.
I subscribed, partly because I was curious about their process and partly as a way of saying thanks for all the free content on the podcast. I also truly enjoy their novels, and I was interested to see one come together from scratch.
While I was happy to pay the cost to subscribe in order to support the project, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We are five days in and, so far, it has been utterly fascinating.
Here are a few observations thus far:
- It’s pretty inspiring how authentic and real the guys are in revealing their process. Case in point: on day two, the story timeline Sean brought to the table wasn’t working for the other guys. After the meeting stalled, they agreed to take some time to clear their heads, rethink the ideas, and reconvene later. The second story meeting of the day was much more productive. I love that we got to see that, warts and all.
- The way they collaborate is different than I expected. I think Johnny pointed it out of day three, but in their story meetings they rarely change each other’s ideas. It is more about building on each other’s ideas.
- It really makes me want to collaborate with another author at some point. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a few great creative collaborations in my life (Six-String Bliss, Real Dad Fitness, etc). When I was in my early twenties, two friends and I started a production company called Plethora Films. Those were fun, crazy times, but my favorite memories are the story meetings. Sitting in a room with Jonathan and Greg for hours discussing story. Those were some of the most creatively fulfilling times of my life.Watching Sean, Dave, and Johnny has brought those memories back in a powerful way.
So, someday I intend to collaborate on some fiction. I’ve even got a pretty neat idea for a unique method of collaboration (I think). There are some things I want to do before I get to that, but it’ll happen eventually.
I read a great group of books in May, so let’s get started.
The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig is the author ofÂ Blackbird,Â Mockingbird, and even some non-bird-titled books. He writes novels with style, personality, and memorable characters.
When I learned he had written a series of writing books, I knew I had to check them out.
Most writing books give you the feeling of sitting down by the fire with a master storyteller as he or she carefully and elegantly explains the secrets of his or her trade. This is not that. [Read more…] about May Book Reviews
My buddy ‘Skinny’ Jim Rotramel and his band the Number 9 Blacktops are currently in Buffalo Trace Bourbon’s online Battle of the Bands. They are in a tight race for first place, and they need your help!
All you need to do is click here, create a quick profile, and vote ‘five shots’ for the Number 9 Blacktops. You can vote once every 24 hours, so why not do it right now?
If you love good rock n roll, I know you’ll enjoy the Number 9 Blacktops! Give them your vote, and then check out their stuff at SkinnyJimRocks.com.