Reader's Den is Hibernating

Reader's Den is currently in hibernation. Since I now only write book reviews for publications and other review websites, I will no longer be updating this site. However, there are 45+ reviews here and some great guest posts/interviews, so I'll keep this site alive for as long as I can just to keep the content online. Thanks for visiting! If you want to know what I'm currently up to, you can find me at my personal blog or at Editorial Assistance.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest Post: David Alderman and Self Publishing - Part 2

I first decided to self-publish because I didn’t want others telling me what to do. Yes, I know that sounds childish, but let’s all be honest. If you were to draw a picture on a piece of paper, would you want someone looking over your shoulder, telling you how it should be drawn? I’m not talking about someone teaching you how to draw – that’s different – I’m saying someone is looking over your shoulder telling you exactly what the building should look like, what your character should be wearing in the picture, what the sky should hold. They tell you what your vision of the picture should be. But at that point, it’s not really your vision, is it? It’s someone else’s vision that they’ve pressed upon you.

My vision is one that probably wouldn’t go over well with traditional publishers. Take my latest series, Black Earth, for instance. A tale about the end of the world, of an alien race invading Earth while a reluctant group of heroes are pulled into a destiny they didn’t ask for. The series falls into the science fiction and fantasy genre, but it is so much more than that. Some of my characters are of the Christian faith, but my books aren’t ‘Christian Fiction’. They are gritty, they contain scenes of horror and emotional turmoil. One of my characters is raped in the first chapter of the first book. To traditional publishers, I doubt they would see a benefit to having such a religious tone in my story. And going the route of Christian publishers is out of the question. My work is too much…outside of the box…for them.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave my vision? Do I abandon my characters in a desk drawer, in a little red file folder, for the rest of their lives? Do I leave them to be destroyed by this alien race without lifting my pen to help them out? I think not. I breathe life into those characters, I pour myself into them, and out they come to deliver a performance to rival all others.

Now, I’m not saying that traditional publishing isn’t a fit for some writers out there. There are definitely some pluses to going the traditional route. You have an entire company, one that (hopefully) has much experience in the book industry, backing you and your vision. You have countless talented people working to get your vision out into the world, to share your story with millions of readers who are just waiting to find their next favorite author. Not to mention you have a well-known name backing you and your book(s).

Years ago, self-publishing had a horrible stigma. Many readers – and well-established authors – thought those who published their own books were incompetent. They figured if a story didn’t get sifted through traditional publishing’s quality control strainer, then it was subpar, insufficient and unworthy of being read by the mass public. Nowadays, that stigma is lifting, if just a little. Anyone can publish their own books thanks to companies like Createspace – - or Lulu – E-readers have made it possible to post your material in the matter of a day or two and reach potential millions with your story.

I am by no means implying that self-publishing is a casual stroll through the park. It’s tough taking on the responsibility of every aspect involved with publishing a book. That’s why traditional publishing works for some. But for others, for those adventurous enough to want to take the leap, those with an entrepreneurial spirit, self-publishing is a lifestyle.

At the end of the day when someone is holding one of my books in their hands, the knowledge that I put that book together gives me great pride. The vision, the encapsulated dream in their grip is 100% mine. Unadulterated. A story told the way a story wanted to be told. That’s worth the work I put into creating it. That’s worth the self-publishing journey.

For those of you interested in following my journey through the currents of self-publishing, you can check out my blog at I have two novels in my Black Earth series, Black Earth: End of the Innocence and Black Earth: The Broken Daisy, both available in paperback and e-book for almost every e-reader. Check them out at This summer I will be releasing the Expired Reality series, a young adult novel series that focuses on those earlier stories that came to me when I was in sixth grade. You can check out my website for updates on these books and to sign up for my free email newsletter which will keep you up to date on my projects, my journey, and my thoughts on writing and self-publishing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Remains by Vincent Zandri

The Remains
*Giveaway Bonus*

If you enjoy the review below and would like to win The Remains, all you have to do is follow these two simple steps:

 1.) Comment on this review by June 15th.

2.) Add your e-mail address at the end of the comment. Your name will be randomly selected and Vincent Zandri will send you a print copy himself!


When Rebecca Underhill was thirteen and her twin sister Molly was still alive, they ventured into a forest their parents warned them against and explored a creepy, old house they thought could become their 'home away from home.' Turns out it was already claimed...and not by a particularly sane man either. Thirty years later, Rebecca is a painter and art instructor living a pretty lonely life with her ex-husband. No one knows about the terrible things that happened those three hours. She still wrestles with the memories, though - even moreso this year.

There's the mystery text messages and phone calls, for one. But nothing alarms her more than Franny's specialized paintings just for her.

Franny's art is top-of-the notch beautiful and phenomenal. It's expected, what with his title of gifted, autistic  art savant. His coming to Rebecca's art center is more a matter of comfort than anything else, since he certainly doesn't need artistic assistance. For the first time, Franny paints a picture specifically for Rebecca, and it's more than a gift. There's a word in there - Listen - that only she and Franny can see. Not her ex-husband. Not her best friend. Just Rebecca and Franny.

As the days go on, there's more paintings, more mystery texts and phone calls, more questionable moments where Rebecca feels as though she's being watched and followed.

Maybe what happened all those years ago isn't as over as she thought.

I remember my first impression of the prologue and the first chapter. I felt a sense of confusion, dread, and excitement for what was ahead. Vincent Zandri's writing is eloquent, easy-flowing, confident and mature. His sentences are as carefully chosen as his words, and I love how realistic his characters are. The story's foundation is steadied by pacing and build-up - the type that makes you ask questions from the get-go.

I wanted to know exactly how a man getting out of jail, a letter to a long gone sister, and a woman who runs an art center connected. Zandri did me the favor of quickly making that clear, yet maintaining mystery in various parts throughout. A lot of the story is step-by-step build up, so don't expect constant action. However, be prepared for a fun, scary ride when it all comes together. 
Vincent Zandri on a train from Austria to Venice

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