Lindsay Buroker – Hunted (2011) | Book Review

Lindsay Buroker - Hunted Flash Gold ChroniclesHunted, the second entry in self-publishing superstar Lindsay Buroker‘s Flash Gold Chronicles, is a steampunk adventure novel that picks up right where Flash Gold left off. Although Flash Gold was enjoyable, it was ultimately forgettable. Hunted improves on every aspect of the original, including stronger character development, even better prose, and dialogue that is vastly improved.

The heroes of the story are the same as the first; Kali McAllister is still trying to avoid being killed for the recipe to her father’s invention of flash gold, an energy source used for fantastical machinery. Her partner in crime is a grizzled mercenary slash bodyguard called Cedar, although that isn’t his real name. They are both well-developed characters with real, nuanced personalities that lend a surprisingly realistic feel to a clearly science fiction piece.

In Hunted, Kali is being stalked by a mysterious villain who apparently has a serious bone to pick. Meanwhile, she is invited to a mine by her ex-fiancee, a jackass named Sebastian. Without spoiling the actual plot of the novella, there is a lot of action and Kali and Cedar end up facing off with a villain that feels straight out of a Silver Age comic book—in a good way.

With strong female characters being so hard to come by in science fiction, the series as a whole is a big breath of fresh air. Kali is an instantly likable heroine, with great depth of character considering the brevity of the first two novellas and the extraordinarily high amount of action in each. Hunted is definitely worthwhile reading, and shows how talented Lindsay Buroker really is.

Rating: 4.5 stars (of 5)

Hunted is available for less than two dollars on Amazon and Smashwords. Be sure to check out her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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M.H. Mead, authors of the Detroit Next series | Interview

M.H. Mead Author Photo

Margaret Yang & Harry R. Campion: M.H. Mead

M.H. Mead is the name of Michigan-based writing team Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion. Margaret is a full-time writer and parent, and Harry writes in addition to teaching. Taking the Highway is their third collaborative novel, all of which are set in the same alternate future Detroit. Margaret also keeps up a blog about the writing process and books about writing called Writing Slices.

Android Dreamer: For those who haven’t read your novels yet, what’s the general idea behind the Detroit Next universe?

M.H. Mead: The Caline Conspiracy, Fate’s Mirror, and Taking the Highway are crime novels set in near-future Detroit. Our imagined Detroit is finally prosperous, but some strange political and economic compromises have been made to get there. The heroes are a PI, a hacker and cop. The books are fast-paced and don’t rely on high-tech jargon or far-out worlds to make the plot. Our fans tell us we write “science fiction for people who like thrillers.”

AD: How do you divide the writing duties between the two of you? How does the process differ from writing fiction alone?

MH: We live about an hour apart, so we have to plan our writing time or it won’t happen. We start by brainstorming together in marathon sessions where we throw ideas at each other—nothing is too crazy to think about. These sessions lead to a rough outline we would never show to another living soul. We get together again and make a more detailed outline. We each write part of the first draft, then come together again for editing. We do a ton of re-writing, both individually and together, so the whole thing sounds like one story told with one voice.

AD: Who are your biggest literary influences? Were there any in particular that affected choices you made in writing any of your novels?

MH: Well, of course, the sun rises and sets on Larry Niven. We’re inspired by Niven’s attention to social change. It’s fun to write about technology and new toys, but the real fun is marking the ways people react to the technology. It isn’t always in ways you’d expect. We also learned a lot from the novels of Bruce Sterling and George Alec Effinger. We love how their future worlds shine a spotlight on the world we live in today.

AD: Which character in your novels are you the most proud of?

MH: Morris Payne, the super-hacker from Fate’s Mirror. He’s a triumph of contradictions: a criminal you root for, a hermit who must interact with people, a nerd in the role of hero.

AD: How much does your personal experience influence the way your characters progress and the way the stories unfold?

MH: Every single one of our heroes is caught between two worlds–whether it’s work/family, job-for-pay/job-you-love, or in the case of Morris Payne, hiding/living. As parents with careers in addition to writing, we are constantly pulled in two (or three) directions. So that’s one way our characters are like us. Their circumstances might be different, but the emotions are the same. Maybe that’s why our readers like our heroes. Everyone can relate to that feeling.

AD: Are you happy with the results of self-publishing? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently based on what you’ve learned in publishing your three novels?

MH: We like it a lot. It’s fun to have the final say over content, jacket copy, cover, and price. The community of other indie authors is extremely supportive and helpful. For example, Lindsay Buroker was one of our first twitter friends and she introduced us to our cover artist. We learned so much from those who came before us that we were able to avoid most of the pitfalls of DIY publishing–so far, at least.  After all, there are always new mistakes to make.

AD: Do you have any plans for another entry in the series, or will Taking the Highway be it?

MH: There are things in our world still pestering us. If something clamors for enough attention, we’ll listen to it. If the idea is good enough to sustain the standards we’ve set for ourselves, we’ll write it.

AD: Is there anything in particular you’d like readers to take away from your novels?

MH: The general tone is cautious optimism. Although a lot of people have given up on Detroit, we think it still holds promise. We believe that Detroit and the people of Michigan will make some tough choices and adapt to the world. There will be some choices that make life even more difficult. Our books deal with those, too. But overall, our books are meant to be good reads. We’re here to entertain the readers for a few hours with some murder and mayhem in near-future Detroit. If we can do that, we consider our books a success.

Taking the Highway, the latest entry in the Detroit Next series, is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. You can follow Margaret on Twitter at @Margaret_Yang, read about M.H. Mead’s literary exploits at their website, and like them on Facebook.

Release Alert: Zeus, Inc by Robin Burks

Robin Burks, a talented writer for a handful of websites including DVICE.com, FanGirlConfessions.com, and RantGaming.com has released her first novel through her own publishing company Bad Karma Studios as of July 28th. The novel, which is primarily futuristic science fiction, has received some very positive reviews so far. The synopsis:

50 years ago, Zeus, Inc., and its CEO, the mysterious Joseph Brentwood, saved the world from a major energy crisis by discovering a new unlimited energy resource. Now, in 2069, Mr. Brentwood has gone missing and private eye Alex Grosjean has been hired to find him by his daughter (and Alex’s best friend), Aleisha.Black-outs begin to occur all over the world and somehow Alex believes it’s tied to Mr. Brentwood’s disappearance. Her search leads her through her own murky past and into the fantastical depths of Hell itself, where she discovers that Mr. Brentwood is not who or what he seems to be.With the help of an otherworldly man named Pip, Alex must save both Mr. Brentwood and the world. But will she be able to face her own guilty past in order to do it?

The novel is available through Amazon as well as Smashwords. Priced at only $2.99, take a look at the sample and help support Ms. Burks if it grabs you.

If you yourself or a self-published writer you know are releasing a book soon or doing a signing, tweet at us @androiddreamer with a link to the information and we may post about it here.

Signing Alert: Gary A. Ballard, writer of the Bridge Chronicles

Gary A. Ballard, the self-published writer behind the novels that make up the Bridge Chronicles, will be doing a book signing on August 21st at  G. Chastaine Flynt Memorial Library in Flowood, Missouri. This is his first public signing, and he will be autographing previously purchased copies of his works as well as having some for sale. He will also be doing a talk about the development of his characters. Ballard’s novels are fun, fast-paced cyberpunk adventures with good characters; definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

All three of the novels of the series are available on Amazon, including a collection of all three books in ebook form. For more information about Gary A. Ballard and his work, see his website: Tales from the Bridge Chronicles.

If you yourself or a self-published writer you know are releasing a book soon or doing a signing, tweet at us @androiddreamer with a link to the information and we may post about it here.

Indie SF/F Names to Know: Lindsay Buroker

Financial success in the world of independently published science fiction and fantasy is an illusive beast. In order to even approach a supplemental income from being a writer without the help of one of the bigger publishers you need a lot more than pure talent. Aside from being a really special writer, it also requires a writer to be quite prolific, even more so than a traditionally published author, and it almost definitely requires high social media intelligence. You essentially have to be the writer, agent, marketer, and social media manager all at once, while still finding time to actually sit down and churn out that novel or two a year.

Lindsay Buroker is one of the writers on the scene that anyone who has an interest in indie sci-fi has heard of and probably read. She is the writer behind such glowingly reviewed works as the steampunk adventure Flash Gold (reviewed on Android Dreamer earlier this month) and The Emperor’s Edge (review coming here in July), both of which are the first entries in similarly named series that have really high ratings on websites like Goodreads and Amazon, and have managed to sell really well for being self-published.  Although, according to her website, she isn’t making as much as when she was doing a day job, she is making a livable wage by being a writer completely on her own terms.

Publishing two or more novels a year is a really amazing clip that most novelists would be terrified to even attempt; so much goes into outlining and developing a novel, followed by probably many rewrites, that unless you’re already doing it for a living it is just about impossible to find time to do it. Buroker has managed to pull it off and established that independent publishing can be a way to fulfilling ones own literary dreams without having to jump through anyone else’s hoops. A lot more can be read about Lindsay’s trip to literary self-sufficiency at her website, www.lindsayburoker.com.

Review: Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker

Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker
Self-published, 2011

Rating: B-

In a steampunky alternate history of the Yukon, a young woman named Kali McAllister enters into a steam-powered sled race with an intention of winning a sizable cash prize so that she can get away from a life in an appropriately boring-sounding town of Moose Hollow. Almost immediately, however, her plans are shaken up by the fact that mecenaries, bounty hunters, and general ne’er-do-wells are trying to hunt her down for the secret to an alchemical breakthrough discoverd by her father called flash gold that is apparently worth her head.

Lindsay Buroker is one of the success stories to come out of the self-publishing revolution. With just about a dozen novels under her belt now, almost all of which have very good to excellent reviews, she is one of the talented few that has managed to make a livable income from writing without going through traditional publishing means. She is essentially living proof that if you are talented and good at marketing, you can make a living off of writing without having to get lucky enough to have a publisher actually say yes. Although she is not the only one to achieve this, it is a rare breed of writer that pulls it off.

Flash Gold is not an amazing novella by any stretch, but has a lot going for it in terms of pure entertainment. The action starts almost immediately, and it basically never relents. It has the pulpy escapist feel that so many readers look for from time to time, and its brevity makes it an easy read. Although the basic plot is sort of simplistic, it redeems itself because the main character is so likable. Being that this is the first book in a series, Buroker has laid a strong foundation with Kali, a fiercely independent and plainly kickass chick who has surprising depth considering the length of the work.

There are times in the novella where the dialogue is a little iffy, but the prose is consistently strong. When action and movement of story are the focus, it is good to be strong but utilitarian in writing style, and Buroker manages to do that here. Never was her prose a distraction from the novel, and that is more than can be said for an enormous majority of self-published science fiction and fantasy writers. While I wouldn’t say that Flash Gold is indispensible reading, it is an entirely enjoyable novella that will appeal to steampunk readers and general fans of action-driven sci-fi and fantasy.