It is pretty hard to review this book without spoilers, and quite honestly you’ll want to read the spoilers so you won’t waste your time. This short story is about an assassin who is hired to kill his own mother in the past. He does so, he ceases to exist. End of story.
Don’t worry, I didn’t ruin anything for you.
This was so predictable as to be confusing. How could such a popular author churn out such a generic waste of space as this story? Baldacci offers no unique take on this well worn trope, he doesn’t give us an interesting character to follow, his story has massive plot holes, and he doesn’t even offer money back…. Okay, I did get this from the library, but I still feel he owes me money.
The positive reviews I have read for this story appear to be from long time fans. This is my third underwhelming outing with Baldacci. There won’t be a fourth outing.
NB: I do apologise for posting a negative review. Normally I avoid mentioning the books I haven’t enjoyed. I’m making an exception with this review because this story reeks of a big name author and their publisher putting out any old dross they feel like.
A while ago I had my short story, Hard Wood, accepted into the second Pulse Pounding Tales compilation by Matt Hilton. I’ve held off on making this announcement until the submissions were officially closed. For those unfamiliar with volume one of Pulse Pounding Tales, buy it now. You’ll thank me later. Volume 2 is due out later this month.
The first edition included short stories from many renowned and upcoming thriller authors, including: Matt Hilton (duh!), Zoë Sharp, Stephen Leather, Adrian Magson and Steven Savile. If the previous edition and my submission (Hey! I’m allowed to think I’m awesome) are anything to go by, this second installment should be just as awesome. For more on whose stories you will get to read, see here.
Hard Wood is about Steve: disabled in the war in outer Desert-stan, he now makes sure containers at a shipping yard aren’t lonely at night. Steve stumbles across some heavily armed smugglers and decides that he is the only one who can stop them escaping before the police can arrive. Pity that Steve is not heavily armed and is missing a leg. For a little background to the underlying topic of the short, read this little non-fiction synopsis about illegal logging.
I’d like to thank Matt for the opportunity to publish my story with him. I’d also like to congratulate my fellow authors who I will be sharing pages in the compilation with.
Here’s the final line-up to ACTION: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 2 everyone:
Introduction by Matt Hilton
Dirk Ramm: Unsheathed by Matt Hilton
Sins of Omission by Ian Graham
See Saw by James Oliver Hilton
Uninvited Guests by Rod Glenn
The Missionary by Paul D Brazill Hard Wood by Tyson Adams
Black Tuesday by Alex Shaw
.50 Contingency Plan by Jochem Vandersteen
Cold Redemption By Les Morris
Kokoro by Andrew Scorah
Get Cutter! By James Hopwood
Jardine Rides Again by Ian McAdam
Jack Be Nimble by Gavin Hunt
Exit Wound by Steve Christie
As Heroes Fall By Frank Sonderborg
Goofy Brings The House Down by Richard Godwin
Grand Central: Terminal by Terrence P. McCauley
The Fixer by Dean Breckenridge
Soup Sandwich by Christopher L. Irvin
Pasnuta Means Arena of Death! by Richard Prosch
Mududa’s Revenge by Graham Smith
97 Ways To Die In Istanbul by Paul Grzegorzek
It’s Noir or Never by Absolutely*Kate
Push by Kevin Michaels
You Only Die Once by Rhesa Sealy
Man About Town by Alan Griffiths
Hanoi Heat by Iain Purdie
Hammertime by Asher Wismer
When The Devil Catches Up by Lee Hughes
Another year has come and gone for my local writers’ festival. Once again I joined my fellow reading nerds and aspiring authors to descend upon the grounds of UWA. This year there were 30,000 of us who felt the need to spend three days of lovely weather discussing books.
This year I spent a lot of the three day in writing workshops and less time at discussion/interview sessions. There is always room for improvement in writing, so what better way than sitting down with an expert and two dozen peers to discuss and practice. I’d like to thank the various experts who all had some interesting insights and tips: Susan Midalia (short stories – literary focus), Belinda Castles (finding your voice and turning that story into reality), LA Larkin (thriller writing, great tips and she is also running a longer course with the Sydney Writers Centre) and Parker Bilal (crime writing, developing the characters and structure).
This isn’t to say that I didn’t get the chance to see any talks. The discussion of Antarctica was fascinating and puts it on the list of places I’d like to visit before climate change has its wicked way with it. The discussion with Major General John Cantwell and former WA premier Geoff Gallop about why it is necessary to help remove the stigma around mental illness was fantastic. John managed to pretend he wasn’t suffering PTSD for 20 years, which is just amazing considering some of the the ramifications it was having on him. Another great session was with David Petrarca, Sue Masters and James Bradley discussing how TV storytelling now rivals cinema and literature. It is quite clear that subscription TV and services like Netflix are changing the game for production of TV, which is why we are seeing great writing, great acting and decent budgets to give us programming I actually want to watch. James Bradley made a very poiniant comment: we have to stop ragging on Master Chef and other boring and mindless TV shows, their popularity allows decent TV to be funded. Finally, on Sunday I was introduced to two new (for me) authors in the panel discussion on thrillers with Andrew Croome, LA Larkin and Steve Worland. I’m looking forward to reading Andrew and Steve’s books, and of course Louisa’s new novel Thirst.
But, now the festival is over for another year. This picture sums up the take home message for me from this year’s Perth Writers’ Festival:
That’s right. I decided that there was no better way to learn how to publish my novellas than to practice with two of my short stories. I’m now prepared for the task of crossing the threshold into “professional author” territory, letting my creations escape the confines of my head and harddrive. I’ve priced both short stories at the Amazon standard $0.99, which is about what I think short stories should go for – novellas $2.99, novels somewhere between $7 and $10.
So if you would like to read some short stories, may I suggest you download mine from Amazon. Running the Cross is “A test of mind and body, running the cross is the ultimate test. A dozen rail lines, thousands of tonnes of freight trains travelling at high speed, a race across the tracks to prove yourself. Will you survive?” Rum and Roses “The police don’t like ‘Skinny’ McAfree, but they do like him for the disappearance and possible murder of his next door neighbour.”
Yes, I have now experienced the bitter pill that is publishing. I’m not that fussed, as the short story wasn’t in the publisher’s hands long enough for them to have actually read it. Having submitted scientific papers to journals, I know that rejections are often just due to having had enough submissions already. Time to resubmit!