For a limited time, get Pale Winter Sun on sale. Just dropped the price of both Kindle and Paperback. Also, fyi, if you buy the paperback, you can get the ebook for only a buck!
I’d like to post a review I received a while back and then discuss it for a moment.
(Reprinted with permission)
Pale Winter Sun
Intriguing, unique, distinctive
Mick Collins’ book Pale Winter Sun synopsis from Good reads:
Isolation in the cold of winter. That’s all Mark Jensen has as he fights to survive.
Living in the small Mormon community of Grason, Idaho, Mark and his best
friend Trevor have no one but themselves. Both are shunned from their families
for simply trying to live open and honestly as homosexual. Cold and queer, the
boys make do with what little they can, counting on no one but themselves in
the stark Idaho countryside.
Mark’s struggles increase when he becomes afraid of confiding in his last
friend. The growing realization that he is bisexual confuses and conflicts him.
It leaves him feeling more alone than ever. Friendships are redefined and
stretched to the limit as the two young men scratch by and they ask
themselves; can they survive each other?
It is very rare to read a book that strays from the normal plotline. Collins’ book
was definitely different from what I normally read, but it was a breath of fresh
air. The daily struggles the characters face places ideas in a new perspective.
People in similar situations as the characters share the same feelings and
conflicts. To be able to experience that through the characters was intriguing.
For the most part, people do not realize the struggle that comes for being a
homosexual. Collins’ was able to show the internal conflict not only between
the character relationships, but also the individual themselves. The atmosphere
of the book (winter, cold, isolation) compares with the feelings of the two main
characters. They are considered queer, people are cold toward them, and they
feel isolated from their community. The storyline was unique and it made it
stand out. Mark was a strong character in the book. He stayed true to himself
and it stood out throughout the book.
The reason it did not get 5 stars was due to the writing itself. The writing style
was not as refined as some other books, but there is emotion and the message
is clear. If the writing style was more fine-tuned, then the book would have
been even more captivating.
Emma Hall (The Kindle Book Review)
The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an
independent, fair, and honest review. We are not associated with the
author or Amazon.
Ms. Hall wasn’t able to post this to Amazon because it someone from the Kindle Book Review already posted one, apparently. Amazon (wisely) won’t let me post it under my own name, so I am posting it here. Which does kinda suck, because I lost a few reviews when I uploaded a new edition a couple months ago.
(Updated – the review has been posted to Amazon. Thanks to G.W. Wright for showing me what to do)
Sales haven’t been great, especially since the new edition came out, and that is partially my fault. I haven’t been pushing it much, mainly due to work and trying to get over this damned cold. But then again, sales for books, especially self pubs, are down anyway. I have already put in some time to find new and exciting ways to get the word out, but that takes time and money. I am stock piling both so I can do it right. That includes a push to get the book into libraries and local stores in Allentown. I’ll keep you fine folks posted on that as developments happen.
Back to the review:
This review is indicative of a common thread I have come across with Pale Winter Sun. The message, the story, and the characters are engaging and on point. The narrative isn’t typical to the genre and the overall feel of the story is of isolation. Mark and Trevor’s struggle are not trivialized, and Mark’s journey especially, is clear.
This is what I wanted. I wanted the points to be clear, non-cliched, and the story to be interesting. I feel that is mission accomplished. Go me!
The other common thread is that the writing lacks. I had hoped that getting it edited again would relieve that particular problem. And while it was much needed and certainly helped immensely, it didn’t solve it completely. And if you know writers, a ship full of compliments can sink with one tiny raft of critisism. We writers are an emotionally unstable and touchy lot. So yeah, the last bit kinda bummed me out. I try not to stay down long, or dwell on the negative, despite my proclivity to so exactly that. Hell, if a lifetime of battling depression has taught me one thing it is DON’T FEED THE BEAST.
I stood back and looked at this review, and other feedback I’ve received, and put it into perspective. When I wrote PWS, it was message driven. I had a point to make, dammit, and I was going to make it. Well that’s great, but in doing so, I let my writing of said message suffer. Another thing I realized; I have only published two books and a few short stories. Night Shall Overtake was picked up by the first publisher I sent it to. To be honest, I didn’t really expect it to get published in the first place. Really, I decided to test the field with it while trying to hammer out another project. While amazing and awesome, it also spoiled me. Thankful as I am, I’m sure there would have been lessons to learn had I needed to work at getting it published more than I did. PWS being self published, I think those lack of lessons hurt in terms of the strength of how it is written.
Being the pragmatist that I am, I had to think about what I was going to do about all this. PWS will probably not go though a third edition any time soon. I’ve too many other projects on the burner right now. And honestly, I haven’t the heart to rip it apart one more time. (and maybe I’m just a little bit lazy, too) If my writing lacks a little, but the story still holds up, I’ll take it and go with that for now. I still think it’s a book that can help kids, and parents, dealing with gender, identity, sexuality, and all the components that make up a family.
If PWS is staying put, then where am I employing these learned lessons? The future of course, or really, the present. Current projects are under severe scrutiny and retooling. I am still trying to find my voice and become a better writer. A task that will never end, most likely. If I focused too much on story, and not enough on style, then I will work hard to get my style down. Hopping genres probably didn’t help the issue either. My next novel, A Geography of Purgatory(working title), is back to the dark and gritty and I think it’s the perfect chance to really find myself as the writer I can be. As someone who takes such things seriously, I owe it to myself. I also feel that I owe it to anyone who decides to take a chance on one of my books. There is a godawful amount to stuff to read out there, if they do pick up something of mine, I want to make damned sure it’s worth their time.
In case you are wondering: I have no time lines on Geography as it’s still out to the beta readers, but I’ll keep you posted. Going to try the standard publisher route again, then if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll self pub. At least that’s the current plan.
tl;dr – Writer gets a good review, then whines about it. In the end he learns a very important lesson.
Remember kids: Stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and mistakes are good as long as you learn something from it.
So, in case you were wondering, we made it safe and sound in Allentown. We’ve been here a week so far and right now the snow is flurrying outside my window. After almost a decade in Austin Texas, it’s nice to see snow laden trees and white along the horizon again. Of course the first time I have to drive on icy and snowy roads my opinion will change and I will rue the snow as the chilly hell it is. I miss being north.
I’ve never been in the northeast, being the westerner that I am, but so far so good. Row homes, walking to the market instead of driving, and weather that doesn’t change 20 degrees up or down in an hour is my jam, son. Yes I’ve already gotten a parking ticket because I’m still trying to figure out the parking situation on my block, but that’s neither here nor there. Once we get acclimated and the job situation settled in, I can see myself getting plenty of inspiration for upcoming writing projects. I have some stuff on the burner, but I think Pennsylvania has some new things to show me that I can use. Like old houses, abandon factories, wooded areas, and Bucks County. ( I hear it’s creepy as hell and M Night Shamalamadingdong films all his movies there. Should be something dark and inspirational there, right?)
And before you ask, yes we drove the entire way. A Penske truck with a car hauler on the ass end, all the way from Austin to Allentown, and with two cats and a dog. About 30 hours of road time, give or take. Mel and I saw a lot of pretty country side and it didn’t drag on nearly as bad as I thought it would. I did learn a few things though. 1) Getting out of Texas take about 3/4 the total time of driving anywhere. The state never ends. Ever. I’m still not totally convinced we actually have left the Texas border yet. 2) Louisiana needs to do something with thier friggen roads. I actually stopped off the side of the road in Shreveport to make sure I didn’t have a flat tire. That bad. 3) While Birmingham might be a nice place full of nice people, none of them were on the road that same time we were as we drove through. The flyovers reminded me of that show ‘Life After People’ when they showed overpasses a couple decades after people had gone. Not encouraging at 65mph and on the top level.
AND THEN THERE WAS CHATTANOOGA…. Nothing against the town itself, mind you. A pretty drive leading up to and out of it. The problem we had turned out to be the blinding driving monsoon-like deluge that happened once we hit city limits. I literally LITERALLY could see nothing but the tail lights ahead of me. So here we are 65mph, speeding over the top teir of flyovers, and completely blinded by the rain. The tail lights of the idiot pulling the little U-Haul trailer in front of me and the white line of the road to my right were the only thing that kept us from dying a horrible wet death. This is not hyperbole. I could neither stop nor pull off the road. These were not straight roads, nor flat. The Penske corporation will have to replace the steering wheel to get the imprint of my death grip removed from the truck.
As we drove out of town, we crested one of the big hills as the rain finally died down to a trickle. Quietly we stopped a gas station just off the highway. In the spirit of levity, I said, “Well, that sucked.” I have third degree burns on the side of my face from the look I received from Melody. Then we laughed like idiots, that ‘how the hell did we not just die’ shock induced laughter. I’m pretty sure people in Tennessee thought we escaped from some sort of facility. After that, the road wasn’t too bad. Got a chilly two hour nap in Virginia before the home stretch.
But we are here now and I’m ready to get down to business. This is a new chapter and a new adventure and I’m ready to embrace it. By the throat if I have to.
Remember kids; stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and now for a real Philly Cheesesteak.
Pale Winter Sun is now the book is should have always been. A 2nd edition is up and ready. Many thanks to all those who helped in the process, including Apache and JD, and all those who beta read at the beginning. I want to especially thank A.M. Leibowitz for the stellar professional proofread and suggestions she made to strengthen this story.
Nothing major was changed in terms of story, but I did tighten up the mechanics and a few points I really should have cross-referenced better before publishing. That’s the nice thing about self-pub I guess, when someone points out something you screwed up, you can go back and fix it. I am nothing if not receptive to suggestions and can pack my ego away enough to admit that I done f#^%ed up and fix it.
The plus side (one of many) is that there is already some chatter about this new edition and talk of it taking up residence on some library shelves. This is something important to me, so I want to get this on as many library shelves as possible. (I won’t go on about why I think this story is important, etc, etc; because I’m sure you’re sick of me bringing them up)
Let’s keep up the momentum and get this book EVERYWHERE!!
Shameless plugs and links:
For editing work I highly suggest A.M. Leibowitz – www.amleibowitz.com
PWS paperback – www.createspace.com/6477222
Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and support your local word slinger.
We did it!! Well, to be fair, YOU did it. Pale Winter Sun needed a tune up and the Gofundme I set up to pay for a 2nd edition met it’s goal. This book means a lot to me, and even in it’s busted-ass edition, it is still touching people. I’ve already sent it to an amazing editor who I know will get it right. A shiny new edition will be available soon, most likely in February or March.
That being said, expect another flurry of pandering and begging of people to buy books. This time I’m doing it right. I want to thank everybody who not only donated to the cause, but those who also shared my posts and kept the conversation going about it. Maybe those shares didn’t equal into dollars every time, but it still means a lot to me.
Thank you again, and expect a new and improved PWS soon!
Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and it’s never too late to start all over again.
Well, we made it. Another trip around the sun and we are still here. Go us! We tentatively step into 2017, cautious in our expectations. And why shouldn’t we be; 2016 was a sphincter of a year. Yes, we lost a lot of our heroes, but we also saw a huge rise in racism, violence, LGBT+phobia, and a sham of an election. Every year has as much potential to be great as it does to suck, but so far the deck seems stacked against us. All I can say about it is that we need to take action where action needs taken and we need to watch out for each other. All of us. Even the assholes.
I don’t do resolutions, but I don’t go into anything without some sort of game plan. 2017 will be a year of changes and I am ready to embrace whatever changes come my way.
I am ready to write more.
I am ready to market more.
I am ready to play more music.
I am ready to explore new locales (both external and internal)
I am ready to take better care of myself.
I am ready to do more to make the world a better place.
I learned a lot during the last year. Not only about the world, but myself and my craft. I am seeing more of what I need to concentrate on, especially on the post production part. I need to work on my prose, round out my characters, etc etc. I also need to play waaay more bass than I have been. Maybe make some new music while I’m at it.
For the upcoming year, I can only wish for the best, prepare for the worst, and hope that we all get through it okay.
Happy New Year.
Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and Auld Lang Syne.
P.S. – I still need help with Pale Winter Sun. It needs a new edition and that takes money. Every donation over $5 gets you little something for your donation.
I have set up a GoFundMe for Pale Winter Sun. Turns out that it went to press a little too early and it needs a few changes made and a some extra proofreading done to it. Our upcoming move to Pennsylvania next year is seriously impeding my $$ situation so I am asking for help. PWS is a story of youth thrown out into a bleak winter. These non-straight youth must survive on their own and survive each other. Targeted for queer and bi youth, I have even listed resources in the back for those who need help.
I think this book is important and I REALLY REALLY want to get it right. So please, if you can, donate what you can so it can be all it is supposed to be. I have set up an incentive program, of course. For donations of $5, $15, $25, $50 there are copies of digital and physical available. Once the book is in it’s 2nd edition, it’s the least I can do for those who help.
Thank you so much and happy holidays.
Remember kids; stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Fall is here and as most people start to get snuggled in for the winter, it’s just getting busier for me. Pale Winter Sun hit with a splash and I just want to keep it going. I have gotten a lot of feedback on it and most of it is not only good, but that this book could be a big help to people. That’s all I wanted for it; to help people. So I ask, if you have read it, please write a review and recommend it to others.
One of the reason’s I’m not able to hunker down for the cold weather is that we are moving next spring. Not just across town either. We are getting up and out of Austin and heading north to the wilds of Pennsylvania. Austin will always have a huge place in my heart, but its time to move on. The city is changing and I’m not crazy about the direction it’s going, not to mentioned there are getting to me way too many people. So come spring: Keystone State, here we come! I’m very excited about the change of scene and interested to see how it will effect my writing.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TIME:
I’m sure some of you have noticed that I haven’t done a Headphone Bleed show in awhile. Astute listeners will know that I had some sort of new development in the works. Unfortunately, it looks like that isn’t going to happen like we thought. It’s just as well, with my increased focus on writing and the impending move coming, I’m not sure I would have to time for it.
The show has always been a labor of love for me, these last few years, but it is time to give it a rest. As of right now, there will be no new Headphone Bleed episodes in the foreseeable future. It pains me to write that, but it is the truth. It’s time put it to bed. My love for music and bad jokes hasn’t subsided, but I have to refocus. Now, that’s not to say that it’s gone forever. I’d like to start it, or some version of it, back up at some point. There are rumors that live365 might start back up, and if nothing else, I could bring the station back. Either way, we will see.
The Facebook and Twitter accounts will still be active as promotional entities. I still want new and interesting bands to expose to the world. My website szheadphonebleed.com will be up until I have to pay for web hosting again. Fanboytv.com still has old shows up for the time being also. Please continue to visit and enjoy.
More updates as they happen.
Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and dance like no one is watching.
This week is Bi Week. It’s a week where bisexuals try and remind people what the ‘B’ in LGBT means and raise awareness to tear down some stigmas. I suppose it seems fitting that Pale Winter Sun came out just a few weeks before, especially since one of the characters is coming terms with his bisexuality. It can be a tricky thing to do, coming to terms with who we are. More so when we are young and not to the standards of the status quo. One of the biggest concerns with bisexual youth is violence, depression, and abandonment. But it is far from exclusive to just bi youth. Teenagers in general have staggeringly high statistics in these areas. LGBT+ youth doubly so.
I wrote PWS because of this. To be honest the idea fills me such sadness and anger. Our youth deserve better, as do we all. I also wrote PWS because of an amazing young woman that I am blessed to have in my life. I just wanted to do my part, using what meager abilities that I have, to make the world a little bit better for her. To show her that things are dark but there is hope. That life can kick you around, but strength and resilience can pull you through. I can only hope that others see it similarly as well.
My friend, and Bi-activist extraordinaire, Lynnette Mcfadzen suggested adding resources to the book. I couldn’t put them in fast enough. A story is one thing, even with a good message. But sometimes people need help, a hand to hold, and there are a lot of people and organizations out there to do that. The list I added is far from comprehensive but for those who might need it, it’s a start. I’m going to add the list here as well. I may do my part for the bi community, but in the broader view, I don’t give a shit about your sexuality, religion, race, gender, shoe size, or preference of toothpaste. We’re all in this together and we need to start working as one if we’re going to do anything worth a damn. I believe that with all my heart. If we can’t foster that in our youth, then when else to we start?
So hats off to my other bisexual peoples on this Bi Week and any other week. I hope we can soon come to a time when such things are needless and archaic. That for once and forever we finally stop squabbling over stupid shit and concentrate on more important issues. (Like buying books from starving authors or buy them a beer once in awhile. Things like that)
Resources for LGBT+ youth and beyond.
It’s a rough world for everyone. More so for those who don’t fit in gender and orientational norms. I’ve listed a few resources if you feel alone and need some help. While this list is geared toward youth in need, parents and adults who would like to some understanding can also check out these as well. If you are in crisis or in trouble, always try to reach out. If you feel there is no one to reach out to, keep the below in mind. Just know: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE TO REACH OUT TO!
LGBT+ Youth Resources
The BiCast.org – (podcasting for the bisexual+ communtiy)
Asexuality.org – (Asexual Visibility and Education Network)
Interactoadovates.org – (Intersex youth)
Suicide / Crisis
Text anonymous crisis counselor 741741
Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and let’s be safe out there.