Reminder: Book Sale!

Don’t forget, Pithea on Kindle is currently discounted to $2.99, more than half off its normal price of $7.49. This price will be good through this weekend, so get your discounted copy while you can! And along with that, my novelette The Triangle is free today and tomorrow! See below for links and a little more information.

Hopefully these books can provide a little distraction from your isolation.

Pithea cover, Kindle

Pithea is the first book in a series of speculative, futuristic fiction. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.

1
The Triangle is a stand-alone novelette of Christian fiction. Check it out on Goodreads, and go here to get your free copy!

As many who will read this already know, authors, especially self-published or indie authors, need reviews to allow more readers to find their books. If you take advantage of either, or both, of the deals on my books, please make sure to leave me a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or preferably, both!
*Both of these books are also available through Kindle Unlimited.

Self-Publishing Spotlight: Hope Is a Dangerous Place

Do you like…

  • …small towns with dark secrets?
  • …mysteries about missing people from 75 years ago?
  • …teenage sleuths?
  • …stories where the setting is as much a character as the people?
  • …seeing revival?
  • …tornadoes?

If you answered yes to 1 or more of these questions, consider checking out Hope is a Dangerous Place.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Award-winning author Jim Baton believes revival is coming to America. This is what it might look like–

Seventy-five years ago, fifteen-year-old Hope McCormick disappeared. To remember her, the newly incorporated town was named “Hope.” When high school friends Kelsey and Harmonie begin looking into this unsolved mystery, they discover that someone will do anything to make sure the town’s secrets never come to light. Which neighbors are allies, and which face masks a violent enemy? And what will it take for their struggling town to fulfill its original destiny of hope?

About Jim Baton: Jim Baton (pen name) has spent the last 20 years living in the Muslim world, where he’s been involved in a variety of peace and reconciliation activities including interfaith dialogue, training elementary through university students in peace principles, and bringing Christians and Muslims together to pray.

Jim also speaks internationally on the peacemaking themes he’s presenting through the thrillers he writes. These books contain a depth of understanding regarding the roots of the Christian and Muslim conflict, how to bring healing to Abraham’s broken family, how to combat terrorism with non-violence and love, and how to become a true peacemaker.

Hope Is a Dangerous Place was self-published by Jim Baton in February of 2020. It’s available on Kindle, where the price has been discounted for the month of April, and as a paperback. You can read reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. Or see my review here.

Book Review: The Treasure Map

The Treasure Map
by Tyler Scott Hess

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Christian fantasy

Treasure

When a bad report card leads to Jack spending Christmas vacation cleaning out the attic, the last thing he expected to find was a map and letters that magically whisked him away to another place and time. Suddenly he’s seeing events through the eyes of Niko, a young man who lives in a time when the Faithful are persecuted and even publicly executed in an annual celebration. Niko miraculously escapes this execution and then joins a group of rebels who are determined to expose the evils of the State.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this novella and found that I quite enjoyed it. By the time Jack had visited the other world twice, I was hooked and really wanted to know what would happen. I can’t say the characters were all that engaging, but to be honest, I didn’t really notice while I was reading it. It was a quick, enjoyable read.

By comparison, the “real world” became a bit dull and monotonous. Jack’s plight to clean out the attic was only made slightly more interesting by his inventiveness as he tried to get through it more quickly. But even that didn’t bother me too much, so it must have been less dull than reading about cleaning an attic sounds like it would be. I think the shorter length of the story might have helped with that.

On the other hand, the story in the other world became a bit rushed and muddled in the last quarter or so, so I think in that area, more pages would have helped. It lost a bit of its excitement for me because of this. And the ending was a little confusing.

I’ll just say a few things about the style and editing, which I don’t generally let affect my rating with a self-published book. I’m not saying that there is no burden of responsibility here, but it’s harder for self-published authors. There were some grammar issues, but for me, this area really came down to narration and tense. The first chapter reads like standard fiction–3rd person, past tense, seemingly limited to Jack. Then at the end, it becomes more omniscient, conversational. This crops up again one other place, but I think it would have been better if it had been more consistent. And in the other world, the writing is 1st person and present tense. But at some point in the second half of the book, I began to notice areas where it slipped into past tense. All of these things, and some of what I mentioned above, tell me that the book could have used a bit more editing.

None of that detracted enough from the book for me to not enjoy it overall, though. It was a real adventure and a cautionary tale. My guess is that the “Faithful” are meant to be Christians, but to be honest, the Christianity in the book is incredibly light. You could almost insert any real or fictional religion. And one more thing–before Jack even went to the other world for the first time, I noticed a couple of references to Calvin & Hobbes, in that Jack’s little brother’s name was Calvin, and there was a girl Jack’s age named Susie that was only really in the story to be the Susie Derkins of this book. I made a note to watch out for any hint of a tiger, to verify that it wasn’t a coincidence, and then it turned out there was a character later named Hobbes! (I thought it was great, by the way.) I would recommend this for fans of Christian fantasy & adventure books.

Find out more about The Treasure Map

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Weekly Writing Update: March 5

I was a lot more productive this week than I had been the few weeks before. I finished the draft of “Outcast” (book #2) that I was working on and even managed to get the scenes all sorted into chapters and ordered how I think they will work the best. Except for one chapter that I don’t know for sure if it’ll stay where it’s at or get moved 2 chapters later.

All of this I got done by Thursday, though, and then proceeded to spend Friday & Saturday nights ignoring the next step. Now I need to start reading at the beginning of the book, fixing up scenes, adding description and emotion, and adding transitions between scenes, since some have been written as if in a bubble, and many of them have been moved around.

I will plan to start fresh with that today, but my husband is hoping to play a board game that I anticipate taking…all day. So who knows if I’ll get to start on it today. Tomorrow for sure though!

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is currently discounted on Amazon.

Book Review: Hope Is a Dangerous Place

Finished Reading: Hope Is a Dangerous Place
Hope Trilogy #1
by Jim Baton

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Christian mystery, suspense

Hope

A recent transplant to the small town of Hope, Colorado, high schooler Kelsey already knows that there are certain families who hold a lot of power in town. When a journalism assignment leads her, her best friend, and the class loner to dig into the origins of the town, they find an unsolved mystery. A teenager disappeared 75 years in the past, and when the town was incorporated not long later, it was named as a memorial to her. What Kelsey discovers is that all of the towns oldest and most powerful families were potentially involved in that mystery. And someone doesn’t want the past dug up.

The prologue drew me in from the beginning, making me wonder how the premise could tie in with what was set up there. Though I found the characters a little weak, I was intrigued and wanting to know more about the mystery. And then I hit the wall at the end.

The mystery of Hope’s disappearance was a slow burn, but was interesting enough to drive the story up to a point. From almost the first point that Kelsey and Harmonie began to look into the disappearance, they were targeted in increasingly dangerous incidents. It certainly seemed like something really bad happened all those years ago.

Kelsey, unfortunately, does not make a very interesting main character. She’s all over the place in regards to Christianity. She seems to be a believer, and even has some insight for her pastor father who goes through some rough times. Yet she’s also belligerent and doesn’t seem to care about the language she uses. She also doesn’t seem like a high schooler in a lot of ways. Other characters aren’t much better–many of the male characters are chauvinistic to the point that I had to keep reminding myself this was set in 2020, not the 1990s or earlier. I think some of this might be because this book is clearly setting up the fictional town for a revival, and showing why it needs it, but it’s still strange to me.

I don’t want to seem like it’s all negative, though. Though Kelsey is the main character, there are several large side characters that I felt were stronger.

As for the wall I mentioned…the book ended right as a huge puzzle piece was going to be revealed. I felt incredibly let down, and at first thought maybe the book was just missing a few pages. Originally, I thought the story goal was not resolved at all, which is a huge no-no. Even in a series, trilogy, etc., each individual book often has its own internal story goal. I thought that goal was something that I won’t state to avoid spoilers. But I did wonder after I’d had some time away from the book if the story goal was actually something else that was resolved, albeit in a somewhat anti-climactic way. However, if that’s the case, I think it could have been written in a way to make the unresolved plot not seem like it was just about to be resolved, only for the book to end. The upside, though, is that if does leave the reader wanting more.

I know many don’t like books with such cliffhangers, but for some, just knowing it will end that way in advance can help a lot. So you’ve now been warned. At this point, it’s difficult for me to recommend the book without knowing the outcome of the trilogy. I’ll be interested to find out how the story continues when the next book comes out, and I’ll be steeling myself for another major cliffhanger.

One final note: As I touched on above, there is a decent amount of language in this book, at least for a Christian book. I know Christian authors often have to decide which way to go in this regard–I’ve had this internal debate myself. But the amount used in this book doesn’t seem like there was any uncertainty on the author’s part, and the fact that the apparently Christian main character swore quite a bit really puts me off.

Find out more about Hope Is a Dangerous Place

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Weekly Writing Update: March 4

If last week was a slump, this week was downright dreary. It’s not that I’ve been in the wrong frame of mind to work on writing (well, there has been some of that, but not entirely), but there is just so much distraction. I have done some further work on “Outcast” (book #2) though. I’ve only added about 1500 words to the draft, but as I mentioned last week, most of what I have left is revision, rather than addition, anyway. I’ve made it through most of the rest of the scenes that need fixed up, with only 4 more scenes to work on for this draft. I certainly hope to get them done this week, but with the state of things right now, won’t be too surprised if I don’t.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is currently discounted on Amazon.

Book Sale!

Social distancing, businesses closing down, etc., isn’t affecting me as much as it is others. I already work from home, homeschool, and am an introvert. Though I will admit that being told I can’t go out and do things makes me want to all the more. But still not much. But for those who are already going stir-crazy, or just for those who happily find themselves with more time to read than normal, I’m offering discounts on digital versions of both of my published books. My full-length novel Pithea will be more than half off for the next 2 weeks, and my novelette The Triangle is free now through Monday! See below for links and a little more information.

Pithea cover, Kindle

Pithea is the first book in a series of speculative, futuristic fiction. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.

1
The Triangle is a stand-alone novelette of Christian fiction. Check it out on Goodreads, and go here to get your free copy!

As many who will read this already know, authors, especially self-published or indie authors, need reviews to allow more readers to find their books. If you take advantage of either, or both, of the deals on my books, please make sure to leave me a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or preferably, both!
*Both of these books are also available through Kindle Unlimited.

Weekly Writing Update: March 3

I went through a bit of a slump this week while working on “Outcast,” (book #2). At first it was simply due to an early morning because of work, but then everything start hitting the fan at once over the last few days because of COVID-19, so it’s been difficult to focus.

I made up for the rest of the week with a lot of progress today. The word count is now up to 70k, which is awesome! It also means I only added 2500 words this last week…oh well. I did some revision in there too. I have 3 more scenes to fix up and 1 new one to write, so I won’t be adding much more at this point. But I wonder if my main beta reader right now will say there’s a lot more she’d like to see. Problem with that would be that I don’t think there’s anywhere to put more of the story arc I’ve been adding without taking away from the main arc. But I’ll worry about that if it happens.

I’m anxious to get through this stage of the revision, so I can look at all of these new scenes at a glance, amongst the existing scenes, and figure out how on earth to order them. Then the real revision can begin, and I’m really hoping it won’t be a long, exhausting process like it was with book #1 (Pithea).

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: March 2

I was pretty productive this week, adding a total of 5676 new words to “Outcast,” (book #2), as well as doing a little revision to make some freewriting from the past fit into the book.

When I started working on this step, I was hoping to add at least 10,000 more words to this book, if not 15,000. At current count, I’ve added 12,750!! I have a few more scenes to write or adapt, so I think I may just hit or pass 15k, which will bring the book up to a total word count of 70k. This is so much more acceptable to me as a follow-up to a book with 105k words. And early feedback says the scenes are generally good additions, too, not just filler. So far, I’ve been filling in a gap of time that the couple of people who’ve read the book have wished to see more of.

After I finish writing new scenes, I’ll go back and fix up the new stuff based on that early feedback, and then I’ll have to lay out the scenes and find a new flow for them. Then there will be further revision stages after that, but my biggest concern about this book was that I wouldn’t be able to adequately expand it to a higher word count. Now my biggest concern is how long it will take to get through the revision and be ready to publish it.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: March 1

I wrote more new scenes for “Outcast,” (book #2) this week, a total of 3945 words. I took a couple of nights completely off, due to early mornings for work, but overall, I’m really glad with the progress I made.

I’ve been trying out a way to stay focused for the writing, using tricks I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo. I’ll write for 10 minutes without stopping and without over-thinking my words, and then take a break, which usually means reading a book for 10 minutes. If I don’t write in sprints, the words I can get written in 10 minutes would take at least 30, most likely more, because I’d be stopping too often to edit as I go, or to look something up that I’m just certain needs to be looked up RIGHT NOW. The progress is much smoother this way.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).