I’m a fan of Goodreads – even before the website came out I was toying with a similar idea – not so much for the social networking aspect of it – but more as a way to record the books I’d read. Previously I’d done such things by the use of spreadsheets, but obviously a website and app that you can access everywhere and has a database of published books makes that take a lot easier.
Why record what you’ve read?
For me it’s because I’d forget what I’ve read otherwise and be doomed to start reading or even buy something that I’d already read before. I tend to read quite a few books from the library, so a quick glance at a bookshelf doesn’t always solve the problem.
Also I think its good to be able to rate titles – for instance if you’ve read a book by one author and did or didn’t like it then the next time you’re tempted by another book of their’s you can see what you thought of their previous stuff.
I tend not to write long reviews though – usually just a simple rating suffices for me. I’m more likely to leave a brief note for myself on Goodreads if I really hated a book and why so I can remember to steer clear in the future.
Which brings me onto short stories. If you read a short story collection or anthology, or even an issue of a short story magazine, there’s no way on Goodreads or similar sites of recording what you think about individual short stories. You can only rate the whole book. You could then write a detailed review of each story, but that’s quite laborious and also wouldn’t enable you to search your reading history by author or story title to see if you’ve read a story before and what you thought of it. Given that short stories can pop up in different anthologies I think it would be very useful to do so.
What’s to be done?
I think for short stories there needs to be some way to have short story level meta-data so you could actually tag a short story once you’ve read it and provide a simple rating or a review if you want to. Ideally this should be linked to your ereader software if you read ebooks – then you can just rate a story as you read a collection and update your database that way. I’m sure Amazon must be thinking of linking Goodreads in that way at a book level – how about at the short story level?
What do others think? Do you come across this problem as well?
I’m really excited to tell you about a new short story that I have just published as an eBook on Kindle.
The Dragon of Borvoli is all about a young boy who’s the only inhabitant of his village to fight the ‘dragon’ that has been terrorising his village. The story is set in a Dark Ages world – probably something similar to Cornwall – St Michael’s Mount certainly features for instance, but the setting isn’t very specific. What I was going for was more the atmosphere of the Dark Ages where belief in monsters – think Beowulf – was still strong.
Here’s the blurb for the book:
It takes a lot of bravery to fight a dragon. So imagine how brave the nine year old Boult is when he takes his father’s sword and enters the barrow near his home where tales say the dragon lives—the dragon that has been terrorising their village.
Yet not all is as it seems in this atmospheric historical fantasy short story. Boult meets Gustinus, a Christian priest, who promises to help him in his quest to slay the dragon. But Boult discovers that men can be worse monsters than creatures of legend.
Its currently available for just £0.99/$0.99 or 0.99 Euros from Amazon:
To be honest I thought that the inscription of swords was just something that happened in fantasy books and role-playing games – but it seems not! Most inscriptions were invocations to God to help out the person bearing the sword.
But a certain sword that is currently part of a 1215 Magna Carta exhibit at the British Library has got all the experts stumped, as no-one knows what the following means:
I must say that I certainly don’t – the signs of the cross that top and tail the inscription are standard for medieval spells as well, so maybe its a magical inscription – and perhaps that’s why it is so hard to decipher?
Just when you might think that the funding crisis in the NHS was a thoroughly modern problem, it seems that hospitals in the Middle Ages struggled too! A dig at a medieval lepers hospital near Winchester shows that funding could run dry and mean the withdrawal of services too, just like services in the NHS are being cut back at the moment due to budgets not keeping step with demand.
In the case of the hospital of St Mary Magdalen near Winchester though it seems that the problem of leprosy was going away so the money dried up:
But by 1334 bailouts were being paid to keep the hospital going, perhaps because leprosy was declining as a problem. By the 16th century it was operating more as an almshouse and looks to have avoided closure in the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII that saw the end of establishments such as Hyde Abbey in Winchester and Netley Abbey near Southampton.
If you didn’t have leprosy then the options were limited – and of course most lepers hospitals were really intended to keep those afflicted away from the rest of the population rather than treat them.
Great value you must agree – 10,000 words of Roger Sotil and Jake Savage mystery and adventure for the bargain price of $0.99 and £0.99.
Currently the story is just available as an eBook via Amazon – I have plans to post to other online retailers in the future and will also produce a printed version as well – but for now I hope you enjoy the Kindle version. If you love other stories featuring Roger and Jake – Hell has its Demons, Chivalry, The King of Britain’s Head – I’m sure you’ll love this one.
Death on the Lips is a Sotil and Savage Mystery—a novella length story set in an England of the Fourteenth Century where magic works and demons are real.
The Countess of Suffolk lies dead in her own bedchamber. Her body has been horribly mutilated. Clearly a case of a demon attack according to her chamberlain. The alchemist she retained has fled the house—and surely he must be to blame? But when Jake finds a pot of lip paint and a tally stick other possibilities emerge. It’s another case for Roger Sotil and Jake Savage, Inquisitors of Sorcery to the court of Richard II. And as usual things are not as they appear.
Roger Sotil and Jake Savage also appear in a novel length story: Hell has its Demons—an exciting medieval fantasy thriller.
Death on the Lips is currently available exclusively as an eBook at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazon online bookstores around the world.
I read this book recently – its a classic account of the beginning of the First World War. Here’s my brief review:
The unbelievable and bizarre story of how the First World War began – how the best laid plans of both sides failed and ended up in the attritional warfare of the Western Front. What comes across most is the influence of the character of the leaders on events – the egotism of the Kaiser, the panic of Sir John French and the stoic calm of Joffre, who would stop for a leisurely lunch on the way to brief his generals, the very model of sangfroid – and would never admit his errors.
And also the official blurb about the book:
Historian & Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people & events that led up to WWI. With attention to fascinating detail, & an intense knowledge of her subject & its characters, she reveals just how the war started, why, & why it could have been stopped but wasn’t. A classic historical survey of a time & a people we all need to know more about, THE GUNS OF AUGUST will not be forgotten.
At long last I have a new story out – seems like ages! Hopefully won’t be too long until the next one though – so stay tuned for more!
This one is something different for me – a short story set in the First World War – something I haven’t written about before, but I would like to again. Smithers will fly again!
Lieutenant John Smith was not a gentleman in the opinion of the pilots of 32 Squadron. He hadn’t attended public school and he was dashedly bad at cricket. To top that his own Captain, Thomas Albright-Parker, looked forward to the day when Smith’s flying career would be ended by the Hun.
But Lieutenant Smith, or “Smithers”, was going to prove his doubters wrong when his Flight went on patrol that day.
Smithers Hits a Six is an anti-Biggles story for the modern reader. This is the tale of an officer not from a working class background and without the natural talented of Biggles. Like many real pilots he survives more on luck than judgement in the dangerous skies of the Western Front.
I’m nearly ready to launch the first of a series of short mysteries featuring Roger Sotil and Jake Savage – the heroes of Hell has its Demons.
The story is called Death on the Lips and comes in at a hefty 10,000 words – so quite long for a short story.
The action take place after the events of Hell has its Demons, when Roger and Jake have settled down to a life of paranormal investigation in the City of London.
Here’s the draft of the blurb:
The Countess of Suffolk lies dead in her own bedchamber. Her body has been horribly mutilated. Clearly a case of a demon attack according to her chamberlain. The alchemist she retained has fled the house—and surely he must be to blame? But when Jake finds a pot of lip paint and a tally stick other possibilities emerge. It’s another case for Roger Sotil and Jake Savage, Sorcerous Investigators to the court of Richard II. And as usual things are not as they appear.
Just to let you know what is coming up soon from me. I’ve been working on a lot of things recently, including researching and planning novels. Currently I am focused on writing short stories for publication in paying short fiction markets – so the likes of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Asimov’s etc. We’ll see how that goes – it’s a hard market to break, but I have a feeling that I’m getting closer – I had some good personal feedback on one of my stories recently from a leading editor, so I am hoping that with some persistence I can write something that’s good enough for one of these publications.
So that means I’m not writing a lot currently that will be self-published. But I do have two stories that don’t really fit for these markets, so these will be coming out soon.
One is a Biggles-like story set in WW1 – but with a slightly more serious central character. So a setting that is quite a departure for me.
Alt Hist returns with the seventh issue of the popular magazine of historical fiction and alternate history. This is the biggest issue of Alt Hist so far and this time we have seven wonderful short stories for you—including two parts of the popular Battalion 202 series and stories from Alt Hist favourites Priya Sharma and Andrew Knighton. If you like historical fiction, then you are sure to love this issue of Alt Hist.
Alt Hist Issue 7 features the following stories:
“The Vivisectionist’s Daughter” by Jason Kahn
“Cold Flesh” by Andrew Knighton
“The Independence Day” by Pavel Nikiforovitch
“Heff in Dearborn” by Michael Fertik
“Battalion 202: The Sheep and the Goats” by Jonathan Doering