Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gate Walker, a Paranormal Romance, Twisting Time


I've neglected this book, my first YA in the paranormal vein, but it has always shown me sales, albeit small ones, every month without fail. It seems harsh for me to let it languish and fall into the cracks of obscurity. I think the story excels on a few levels, in that I explain time travel in great detail, instead of glossing over it. It has an undercurrent of Roman mythology, and I have to say that the character, "Wax Man" , is the most horrific, disgusting and vile antagonist I've ever crafted. I think he makes Freddy Kruger look like a candy striper in comparison. Gate Walker held sixth place for highest ranking publisher's novel, in a field of over 200 books, and for a period of six months.

Gate Walker is listed on Amazon for the blowout price of $.99. 

Here is a five-star review from Aurora that surprised and delighted me:

Gate Walker by Chris Stevenson
Publisher: Lyrical Press, Incorporated
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Rating: 5 suns
Reviewed by Orchid

Don’t drink and drive, especially when traveling the space-time continuum highway.

Avalon Labrador is convicted and sentenced to die for her husband's murder. In a twist of fate, before the sentence can be carried out, an odd priest informs her that she is being given a second chance to right the wrongs of the past. Avalon must die, but before she does, she must also give birth to a part of herself.

Avy Labrador doesn't know what to make of the odd twists life has thrown her way since she turned eighteen. All she knows is that something isn't right and it has to do with the death of her mother and her husband many years ago. As if an odd priest, powers she never knew she had, and a brand new magician boyfriend aren't enough to turn her life upside down, she finds her own life in danger as she tries to solve a crime that happened more than three decades ago and prevent a new one from occurring.

Will Avy accept her fate and learn to become a Gate-Walker in order to clear her mother's name and find the real killer?

An eighteenth birthday should be celebrated, but Avy's party comes to an abrupt end when her Uncle Drake arrives home. First he tells her friends to leave, then he tells Avy she should strike out into the world on her own. He provides her with a large cheque and a letter from her real mother.

Avy is the biological daughter of Avalon who was married to Drake's brother. Avalon was sentenced to death for her husband's murder. Many years and appeals later the execution had to be delayed when it was found Avalon was pregnant. Avy's mother died giving birth to her and no one knew who her father was. Drake and his wife adopted the baby, Avy.

She finds a job with Sebastian, a magician. She enjoys the work and also feels an attraction for Sebastian. The letter convinces Avy of her mother's innocence. Avy is determined to clear her mother's name - but how?

Father Janus, an acquaintance of Sebastian, tells Avy she is a Gate Walker and can travel through time and space. He instructs her to use this ability to find the real murderer and stop more evil happening. Avy's response is total disbelief - then Janus walks through a wall and doubt creeps into her mind.

With the help of Sebastian and Chubby, a prison guard who knew and adored her mother, Avy sets out to learn how to use her new skills and prove her mother's innocence. They also have to keep one step ahead of the mysterious individual who is following their every step.

Gate Walker is a captivating book. Mystery, magic and the paranormal blend together in a perfect mix. The story holds the imagination and although Avy's abilities would not be believed in the world as we know it, between the covers of Gate Walker they seem very natural.

Avy acts much older than her eighteen years, but at times her youth shows through. She uncovers a lot of information about the people who were around at the time of the murder. In the process she also discovers information about her uncle which refers to his illegal activities in the present time.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to fantasy enthusiasts who also like romance. Romance readers would find this story very much to their liking as the paranormal abilities add excitement and intrigue. Young Adults of sixteen years an over would also find this to their liking. Definitely a book I would read again and again - I keep coming back when I really enjoy a book. Well done Chris Stevenson, have you written any more books like this? If so I'd love to read them.

 Gate Walker

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fifty Shades of Wuss Up?

This new breakout book by EL James, just acquired by Random House, has gone through a plethora of reactions from readers and writers alike. You can say it has drawn Good, Bad and Ugly comments and feelings from anyone who has been touched by it, or rather, clobbered over the head by it.

The Good:

Fifty Shades originated from a fan fiction site, and was more or less written as kind of a Twilight knockoff, with eventually, the character names and settings, changed to reflect an original work. In this capacity, it has worked very well, first drawing huge numbers of fan fic readers, who read only installment chapters. These teasers work great to hook the curious, and started a word-of-mouth campaign that snowballed into what it has become today. Three books were eventually written, following the relationship and sexual exploits of the main characters, Anastasia and Christian. Large offset print runs and a movie deal have resulted. The author has reached a milestone of fame and fortune. Not bad for an writing career.  It's currently # 1 on Amazon in all formats.

The word is that it has given a certain amount of legitimacy to the erotica market, drawing huge numbers of readers who were curious, familiar with, or actively engaged in the Dom/Sub genre and lifestyle. It defines a certain sect of society who have such sexual fantasies, and the arrival of the trilogy has filled those forbidden or controversial emotions and wants. The numbers indicate that the buying public is composed primarily of women, with about 65 percent of them being females in the 20 to 30 something age range. It can always be said that on the plus side, this book might re-ignite some tepid or worn-out sexual relationships amongst partners or married couples.  That's a decided plus.

More readers, no matter what the subject matter, is great for the industry. The publisher will benefit enormously and no doubt invest in other titles by offering contracts, after having made a huge chunk of change from this phenomenon. If this was a first-read for people who did not or have not read a great deal, it can only spur these readers on to investigate other similar titles or other unrelated books. Anything that can prompt someone to scroll or turn a page cannot be considered a bad thing at all. It's a win-win.

The Bad:

I haven't read the series or even a single book. I have read over 120 reviews and dozens of articles and forum comments. I did read the first free chapter. This book is horrendously crafted as far as grammar, even marginal proofreading, cliches, familiar tropes and structure problems. I cringed after the first paragraphs, where a mirror is used to describe a character's facial features. That's something that we are taught as writers is a big no-no. But the problems keep stacking up, and it would take a professional editor to categorize and list all of its faults. It's just a mess, inferior to the original Twilight, which had its own problems. There is the overwhelming opinion that it has no plot at all--no real conflict/s to support a worthwhile, believable goal. Although the sex starts off well and entices, it generally goes downhill from there and shows nothing new or progressive. It repeats over and over again, as well as the repetitive descriptive passages, emotions and over-the-top physical reactions.  

It seems we're living in a reading age where quality of craftsmanship is second or even third to titillation and raunchy fantasy. Either the readers forgive the lackluster writing ability, are ignoring it completely, or they can't tell the difference between good and bad prose. And that's sad. Straight up, this book would have never made it beyond the fan fic stage if not for its word-of-mouth popularity. Are we now down to an accepted third-grade reading level? Are future generations of new readers going to seek out this type of prose and stick to it, with no intent to up their quality reading level? That's bleak.

How many knockoffs can we expect to see from this knockoff? Are writers, or even people thinking about splashing ink for the first time, going to try their hand at this type of genre and story? Will Fifty Shades be a green light to start a whole new trend, and will it spur fan fic writers to clog the submission boxes of all in sundry in the publishing business? Will this type of writing and story eventually need or draw a literary awards or peer merit? If so, put a knife through my heart and trash my computer. Now. I couldn't bear it.

The Ugly

There's a big fuss about how the author portrayed the lifestyle of the dominant-submissive relationship. Some readers are outright condemning it, proclaiming that it is far off the mark--while others excuse it, or actually believe the explanations and definitions, which could possibly damage a healthy relationship. Personally, and for reasons that I wouldn't like to explain, I'm cringing when I see another book/s show and explore such mentally abusive and inhumane treatment of women. It greatly disturbs me that any woman would subject herself to a relationship that hinges solely upon the wishes of an arrogant, misguided, psychologically damaged male lead. The feminist revolution has just lost decades of advancement and equality for the female populace. "No weak female leads", say the big editors, or "No damsels in distress." they hearken. Yet what we have here are gals that have smothered their own hopes and dreams of constructing and pursuing a meaningful life, and latched onto uber alpha males, who seem destined to make all their lifestyle decisions and choices.

Goodbye strong girls and women. You're nothing without having a man to run your life entirely in every aspect and degree. I blame Twilight for planting this seed in the first place. We might be headed for a heck of a lot more it.



 Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars (Engage Science Fiction) (Illustrated)

Editorial Reviews


"Planet Janitor does deliver an interstellar romp that hearkens to the best of Robert Heinlein or Philip José Farmer... A rollicking plot-driven adventure... The dangers are intimidating, the wonders evocative and the thread that ties it all together is always just a little more tangled than it seems." --The Canadian Science Fiction Review, December 13, 2010

"An intriguing and exciting cross between Aliens and 10,000 Years B.C. - Stevenson shows us a future filled with proof that we should listen to Stephen Hawking's warnings about alien life forms and what they want to do to us." --Gini Koch, author of `Touched by an Alien' & `Alien Tango', December 1, 2010

"Stevenson's book considers the possibility of an elite industry of environmental cleanup specialists who take on all sorts of bizarre environmental jobs... Clearly, this is a timely topic that hits home in the wake of the Gulf oil spill." --SF-Fandom, September 21, 2010

From the Publisher

A great deal of care went into the quality of this book, with case laminate library binding, wrap around cover art, and 26 illustrations.