Tag Archive for reviews

New Winter Kill Now Available

The new edition of Winter Kill is now available in trade paperback on Amazon. If you’re into crime and/or horror, I think you’ll dig it.

New cover! Oooh, ahhhh.

New cover! Oooh, ahhhh.

This edition of the book has a new format, a new cover, and an excerpt from the sequel, Lie with the Dead, which is due out in early March. In fact, I’m told my contributor copies will be landing at my doorstep any day now.

If you’re new to my work or my The Pack series, Winter Kill is the first book and this is the ideal jumping-on point. If you’re a digital reader, stay tuned next week for more information on this new Kindle edition of Winter Kill.

New readers can also get a taste of the series by reading the first The Pack short story, “Bravo Four”, for only 99 cents on Amazon, or by checking out the short comic “Big Bad Wolves” on Indie Pulp. “Bravo Four” takes place several decades prior to Winter Kill and is set during the Vietnam War. “Big Bad Wolves”, meanwhile, leads into the events of Winter Kill.

And on that note, expect news on the next The Pack short story in the coming weeks.

The only downside to the new edition is we have a new ISBN, and thus a new product page on Amazon. As a result, our reviews aren’t listed on the new page. If you’ve read and enjoyed Winter Kill, I’d greatly appreciate it if you posted a review on the new product page.

Here’s a taste of previous reviews:

These people have taste.

These people have taste.

Respect.

Respect.

In the end, it’s the same great book, it just has a new face and some bonus material. I hope you’ll check it out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Deadliest Ad

The remastered and relaunched version of my debut novel, Deadliest of the Species, has been out a few weeks now. Response has been good, but things have been quiet on the review front.

My publisher worked up a new ad, and it should be making the rounds soon:

She's back, and she's waiting for you

She’s back, and she’s waiting for you

Check it out on Kindle, Nook, or Smashwords (with more to come, including trade paperback). I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and I hope the rest of you find it worth the wait, too.

Already have Deadliest? Great! Thank you very much. If you enjoyed it, be sure to read the extended preview for Winter Kill at the end, or peruse my other work in the side column on my home page. Some of it is even free!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Reviews Are Not a Form of Protest

My man Shawn has his Goodreads and Twitter accounts tied together, and this popped up today:

The man generally has good taste in books (I know this because he reads my stuff), and I dig that title, so I popped over to Amazon to learn a little more about the book. $12.99? Hmm. But we’ll get to that in a minute. I scrolled down and eyeballed the reviews. It had a fair amount of four- and five-star reviews, but also a couple each of one-, two-, and three-star reviews. I normally discount one-star reviews because they tend to focus on a specific, personal beef, but I decided to check them out anyway.

I was right, they’re useless. What’s more, they were offensive. Check it:

Amazon 1-star review 1

Amazon 1-star review 2

I tend to agree $12.99 is expensive for an e-book. At that price point, I, too, will be holding off on my purchase until either my to-read pile shrinks or I have a little extra spending cash. However, a review is not the place to air these beefs. A review should be about the book, not about your irritation with the publisher.

Would you beat up a Walmart cashier over his company’s pricing policies? No? Then why do it to the author? I’m sure Tim Powers has zero input in the pricing of his books. Why damage his reputation or turn away possible sales over it? It’s especially stupid for the first guy who claims to love Powers’ work.

Really, Mr “Publishing pro?” Your love is not worth an extra three bucks?

Writers survive on one thing: sales. Without reader support, they won’t see another book contract.

If anyone out there has a beef with a publisher’s pricing policies, I suggest they bitch at the publisher instead. It’s easy in this case because HarperCollins is on both Facebook and Twitter. Asinine one-star reviews are easy for an editor to ignore. On the other hand, if you start a campaign to get a whole lot of people telling HarperCollins directly that their pricing sucks, maybe the right people start to pay attention.

You didn’t like a book? That’s cool. Ding it as you wish. But at least read the book and make it an honest review, not just an angry missive to the publisher.

Don’t be a douche.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Armor Up

I wasn’t happy with my photos from the latest East Peoria Throwdown last weekend, so Friday night after my workout I turned my camera back upon myself to shoot a quick self portrait to coincide with a blog post I’ve been noodling.

Armor Up

Armor up!

Behind me, you can get a glimpse of my weight lifting routine. I’m on a four-day split now, working Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I just finished my first week of the new routine and I think this is the one I’ll stick with for the next month or so.

Muscle is the best way to protect the body from injury. In sparring—or street fighting, for that matter—a good layer of muscle can prevent injury from kicks and punches. Take a fall, strong muscle and bone reinforced by resistance training provide protection. I’ve also read a few stories about body builders who survived nasty car accidents thanks to the thick slabs of muscle shielding their organs, and their subsequent recoveries have gone much faster and smoother thanks to their workout habits.

How does one build up that armor? Hard work. Pick up heavy things, put them down, repeat. In that same sense, I got to thinking about the work to build up one’s armor for writing and other creative outlets.

If a writer is going to expose his talent to the world, be it for self-indulgence or profit, he’s going to need to build up a different layer of armor. The writer needs to shield himself from the sting of rejection and bad reviews. These things are always disappointing, even for the pros, but they are a part of the business and must be accepted.

Get idea onto the page, send it out into the world, repeat. When a writer receives a scathing review or rejection letter, he must learn to shrug it off and move on to the next project. Keep going. Work to improve his craft and find his audience. That what does not kill us makes us stronger, right? This is very true in writing.

There are two signs a writer’s armor is weak: he either throws up his hands and quits or he argues with the editor or reviewer in question. The first, I think, speaks for itself. If the writer just can’t handle rejection, especially as the rejections continue to pile up, then they need to find a new line of work.

The second sign is a little trickier. I’ve seen writers engage in arguments with reviewers on message boards, in blog comments, and even via Amazon reviews. I’ve been shown emails from writers who try to justify their work to an editor who has just rejected them, ranging from pleas for a second chance to outright scorn and abuse. This is a mistake. At best, it makes the writer look like a whiner, and at worst it makes them look like a prima donna asshole. In no case have I seen it do the writer do a bit of good.

Yes, there are times a reviewer or editor may miss something. There are times they will be wrong. Maybe they skimmed passages, maybe they skipped chapters. Maybe they just didn’t have their coffee that day, or maybe you screwed up your synopsis. Shit happens. Move on.

If a writer has one one-star review and a half-dozen four- and five-star reviews, this is not the end of the world. If a writer has twelve one-star reviews and one or two five-star reviews, then it’s time to understand that everyone’s entitled to a flop. They can’t all be gold. Once again, shit happens. Move on.

Creative media are very subjective. Sure, an editor or reviewer may make an objective analysis and say “This is very well written. This writer knows how to string a sentence together and grasps basic grammar.” However, unless the work also trips the part of their brain that leads to a subjective comment like “Wow, this book is awesome!” an editor is not going to publish the book and the reviewer is not going to give it a positive review.

Example: Stephen King is a craftsman. The man can write. That’s objective. Consider, though, how many people either love him and say he’s one of the best storytellers to walk the Earth or hate him and say he’s just a hack who got lucky. That’s subjective. The same can be said of Heinlein, Poe, Hemingway, Laymon, Barker, Hammett, Doyle, or any other writer I can name from any genre.

If someone at Stephen King’s level is not going to please everybody, then you sure as hell aren’t going to, either.

Get idea onto the page, send it out into the world, repeat. This is the job. Armor up.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Reviews Do Not Make a Bestseller

I had a conversation with a writer who was mystified that her book was not selling despite good reader reviews. I agreed that it was frustrating, but reviews do not automatically equate to sales.

“That doesn’t make sense,” she said. “If people like the book, that should mean they’re buying it.”

No, reviews — at least, on sites like Amazon — mean they already bought the book. Reviews, while nice to have, are not marketing. They’re not even word of mouth. They may help someone make a decision to buy the book, but they are not what draws readers to the book. Unless they’re already on the page, they will probably never see the review.

Take some of the reviews for the The Pack: Winter Kill trade paperback for example. This makes for a good blurb:

Mike Oliveri’s THE PACK: WINTER KILL hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. There’s enough tough guy attitude and swagger in these to satisfy even the most hard boiled of thriller readers, and horror readers looking for something new will be well pleased, too. And don’t let any preconceived notions of what a werewolf story might be derail you, Oliveri has upped the ante and this is a whole new game. WINTER KILL keeps you on your toes and turning pages, and that’s a hell of a good thing.

If you’ll allow me to brag a bit, that’s pretty damn cool, and it’s one of 17 five-star reviews. Does it mean I should be selling the hell out of my book? Not necessarily. If I didn’t just post it here, most of you would never have seen it. Even if we grabbed some of it for advertising copy, you’d only see a sentence or two, and even then might only pay attention if it had a recognizable writer’s name or publication attached to it.

It’s more of the same for the Kindle edition:

THE PACK: WINTER KILL grabbed me from the beginning and I literally could not put this one down. Oliveri’s writing is tight and fast-paced, hurling the reader along to the climatic ending. He masterfully blends crime and suspense with the supernatural. This is the first book in an on-going series, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next one.

One of four five-star reviews, yet we’re not burning up the Kindle bestseller list. Why? Because people aren’t looking for reviews, they’re looking for books and then maybe reading the reviews. It would be nice to get Publishers Weekly to review the book, but even then only a small percentage of all the readers out there are even going to read that.

Don’t get me wrong, reviews are wonderful and flattering and cool. I appreciate every single one of them.

But reviews do not make a bestseller. Think of how many people crap on Twilight, and then think about how many zeroes are on the checks Stephenie Meyer cashes.

Writers and publishers need to to build buzz first, get readers to the page. That’s where reviews take over.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

An Interview & Assorted Updates

Things have been going well for The Pack: Winter Kill so far. Things have been quiet on the review front in the last few weeks after a strong start, but we’re still waiting to hear from a few publications we sent copies to. Judging by the almost daily fluctuations in our Amazon sales rank, sales have been at least steady if not building momentum. I’d like to thank those of you who have been spreading the word, too; please keep it up!

Meanwhile, I recently did an interview with Comics Bulletin, which you can read right here. The interview includes a few pages from Big Bad Wolves, the short comic that will be appearing at Evileye Books soon. It was a fun interview to do, and I think you’ll enjoy it. The BBW art is by Mike Henderson, by the way. Browse his blog, he’s got some good eye candy over there.

My next scheduled interview is an Internet radio interview with The Parafactor on May 20th. They’re a live, paranormal call-in show, and lately they’ve been interviewing horror writers like Brian Keene. I’m looking forward to this one, and keep an eye here for more details because you should be able to call in and ask questions.

We’re still looking for an artist for the first The Pack OGN, Chimaera, so I encourage artists to send portfolios or samples to Evileye Books. Yes, they pay. Promptly.

Prelim work on the follow-up to The Pack: Winter Kill is still moving along. I’m moving into Spring Break this week and I hope to have everything finalized by then and to complete the actual writing soon. We’re aiming for fall for this one, but that’s going to depend upon me turning in the manuscript in a timely manner.

Right now I’m punching in the edits for a short story called “The Malice Engine”. Wish me luck, as I will be submitting it to an anthology before I crash out tonight. This story has sold once and I’ve been paid for it, and though the book it was to appear in never saw print, maybe the story still has some magic left in it.

Busy busy busy. As always, I’m looking to up my game and I’m getting a few things lined up. More news soon.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Blurbs

The Pack: Winter Kill has been available for a few months now, and I’m thrilled that people have been enjoying it. As of today, the trade paperback edition has earned fifteen 5-star reviews and one 4-star review, including a 5-star review from one of Amazon’s top 50 reviewers.

Here are some of the things folks have had to say about The Pack: Winter Kill outside of Amazon reviews:

The Pack: Winter Kill is short, snappy, and about as sweet as a chewed stogie, combining elements of pulp horror, hard-boiled detective, noir, and cinematically fast-moving action.” — LJ Moore, San Francisco’s City Secrets

“Gunfire, claws, and teeth all erupt in one wild melee of mayhem.” — Sheila Merritt, Hellnotes

The Pack: Winter Kill is a page turner with fast action, succinct dialogue and short chapters. Mike Oliveri races you through the book and you clamber to turn the pages fast enough.” – Ron Earl Phillips, 52 Books

Winter Kill is an action film made word. Sticky blood. Smart violence. Real characters. This is the kind of book I like to read.” – Weston Ochse, author of Empire of Salt

This is the kind of thing that gets me excited to write the next book. If you’ve been thinking about buying The Pack: Winter Kill, pull the trigger! You won’t be disappointed.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Big Week for The Pack

There’s a lot going on this week for my new book, The Pack: Winter Kill.

First up, the first reviews have been rolling in to Amazon (both the paperback and the Kindle edition), and so far they’ve been very positive. The noir-horror hybrid seems to be a big hit, and people have been happy with the pacing and action. So far, so good. I just hope magazine and newspaper reviewers are as generous.

In an attempt to encourage even more reviews, the publisher, Evileye Books, launched a review contest. If you’ve read the book, drop by and tell the world (or at least Amazon shoppers) what you think and you may just win a signed, limited edition hardcover edition of The Pack: Winter Kill. You’ve only got ’til Friday to enter, so get crackin’!

On Friday I’ll be catching a flight out to California to meet my friends (and authors) Brian Keene and J.F. Gonzalez, and on Saturday you can catch us at 2pm at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA. The following day, we’ll be heading up north Borderlands Books in San Francisco to sign at 3pm. I’ll be doing a lot of flying a s a result, but I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends and meeting some new readers. (It’ll also be nice to trade in the snow and cold for some warmer weather.) There’s a full schedule on my Appearances page.

These are exciting times, and with a little effort, I should be able to keep up the momentum.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Virus Interview

My German-language publisher, Otherworld Verlag, sent me scans of my appearance in Virus magazine. It’s a PDF file you can check out right here. The first two pages are the interview itself (you’ll have to understand German to read it), followed by a page with an Otherworld ad featuring Das Tödliche Geschlecht (aka Deadliest of the Species) and the magazine’s front cover.

I was thrilled to see they gave me two full pages. From the look of the magazine, they’re the German equivalent of Fangoria and Rue Morgue. It’s hard to beat press like that!

The publisher also tells me reviews have been good and sales are keeping pace with the market. Some of the reviewers seem to expect some hidden message or think I have a problem with women, but they all agree the book is well written. I can’t ask for more, really.

We’re both hoping for an upswing in sales as the holdiays roll in, and while I’m glad reviewers are talking about the book, I’m looking forward to hearing from new fans.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Yet Another JHMD! Review

Just a brief break from my vacation to bring you another review of Jack Haringa Must Die!, the benefit anthology for the Shirley Jackson Awards. Just order it already. It rocks.

As for the vacation itself, it’s been going very well! MySpace users may want to jump over to my home page for the highlights as broadcast via CrackBerry moblogging and Twitter. I’m sure I’ll have some cool pics up before long, too.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Blair Witch Monster

If I had known the entire movie was going to be shot through a hand-held camera like Blair Witch Project, I might have held off on seeing Cloverfield until it hit cable rather than plunking down nine bucks at the theater.

The plot is simple: five twenty-something New Yorkers are trying to rescue a friend in Manhattan in the midst of a giant monster’s rampage through the city. They happen to be carrying a camera, and it is through this camera that the entire flick is shot. The plot isn’t terrible, and the characters are a lot more interesting than the Blair Witch characters, but the first-person business gets real old, real quick for me. If you hated Blair Witch, you will probably be just as frustrated with Cloverfield.

At this point, if you haven’t seen the flick and you want to avoid spoilers, then stop reading. Maybe you can check out some great artwork instead.

I completely understand what JJ Abrams and director Matt Reeves were trying to accomplish with the way the flick is told and shot, so anyone wanting to defend the flick by telling me “you don’t get it, Mike!” can just save the keystrokes. My beef with these flicks is the way they go out of their way to make the film look poorly shot. For example, during an action sequence, the last thing I want to see is long segments of running feet or spinning kaleidoscopes of blurry light.

Why couldn’t the flick be shot by embedded journalists? Why not an experienced camera man and a quick-thinking reporter interviewing refugees and soldiers they encounter rather than a pinhead amateur? This was made particularly obvious when the characters go into an electronics store and the guy with the camera points it at a television and we get to watch the news with him for a few moments. Instead of making a big-budget Blair Witch, why not cobbling together disparate news sources and amateur video to tell the larger tale?

Then, of course, the flick would be about the monster, not the love story between the leader of the group and his girlfriend trapped in a fallen building on the other side of the city. Again, compelling characters, and there are some great touches such as when Mom calls the main character. However, if I’m going to a monster movie, I’d like to see more than just two seconds at a time of said monster. They try to make up for this with a shot at the end, but it’s so obviously CGI and cheesy that I felt like I was watching Disney’s Dinosaur rather than a monster movie.

If you hate loose ends, especially the loose ends Abrams leaves us with on Lost, you’ll have another reason to hate Cloverfield. It makes sense not to share the monster’s origin in the movie because the characters have neither the time nor the resources to figure this out (determined folks can pick up clues at the Slusho website and by following its links), but it’s the rest of the things that go unresolved that bother me.

First, one character gets on a chopper and is whisked away. Did they make it or not? Is there any reason they couldn’t be telling us the story? Or that this character couldn’t be used in a sort of epilogue as they’re debriefed by the military?

Second, another character is dragged away by the military and quarantined. We get a spray of blood and the camera’s gone. What happened? Did something come out of this character, like a chestburster from Alien? Did some pustule explode? Did the doctor cut the character open in emergency surgery?

Last and most disconcerting is we don’t even know what becomes of the monster itself. We see it shrugging off gunfire, rockets, missiles, tank rounds, and even carpet bombing. How are we supposed to know if the grand finale finished it off? I’m okay with open endings in general, but you’ve got to give me some indication that there was a resolution. It was for this reason alone that most of the folks in our theater walked out grumbling. One person yelled “That’s it?” when the credits rolled, and someone an aisle or two ahead of me leaned over to a friend and said “What a ripoff.” Several of us stayed through the credits, hoping there would be some teaser or alternate ending or something a the end, but no joy.

Again, yes, I understand the monster is not the point of the movie, and we do get resolution with the main chracters. Unfortunately I expected a lot more from the flick, so it just isn’t for me. I suspect it’s going to be a case of love or hate for most viewers.

If you can live with all that, by all means, get thee to the theater. Despite some hokey moments, I was fine with the plot and characters. If you want a monster movie and hate all the loose ends, save your money.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.