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Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

A Review of Coercion

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 26, 2016

CoercionCoercion by Tim Tigner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coercion is a very good spy/thriller set in 1990 during the Gorbachev/Perestroika Russian years. “Knyaz” is a super secret organization within the KGB that wants to gain control by ridding the country of Gorbachev and giving Russia its own version of Perestroika. With Vasily Karpov, a KGB General, as its primary leader (and his son, Victor, as another), Knyaz gains control over those who can help them attain their goal. They infiltrate American industry to gain advantages over it and surpass it in international economic competition. After all, this is where the new wars are being fought.

And this is where the Knyaz secret weapon comes in – the Peitho Pill. When injected into someone’s body (typically, the buttocks), the Peitho Pill is harmless by itself, but it can be remotely triggered, causing it to release its poison and instantly kill the target. People can live for years with this time-bomb implanted, leaving their loved ones living under total control of Knyaz. They know that if they do not do as they are told, their loved one will die. Corporate sabotage and industrial espionage are the standard for the relatives of those implanted with the Peitho Pill. It’s all about complete control and it’s disconcerting for everyone. It’s truly one of the more original and evil weapons I’ve come across in all of my years of reading thriller novels.

Alex and Frank Ferris are brothers, actually twins. Alex, the book’s protagonist, is a former US intelligence “agent” (aka spook) and Green Beret. Frank is a genius-level scientist who is working on a specific airplane engine that keeps being sabotaged. When Frank apparently commits suicide, Alex starts investigating his brother’s death. It doesn’t seem quite “right,” somehow. His investigations take him on a trip around the world to Siberia where he becomes very quickly acquainted with the Peitho Pill and Knyaz. Also, while in the US, we meet Karpov’s son, Victor, a man we quickly learn to love to hate. Turns out Alex has known Victor for a long while, but under an assumed American name. Victor is definitely not what and who he appears to be. But then, few are in this novel.

Most of the action takes place in Siberia and, let me tell you, the action is hot, even though the weather might be cold! Alex may have BEEN a Green Beret, but he apparently hasn’t lost his skills and his Knyaz “friends” have badly underestimated him. Alex will come face to face with Karpov, but Alex has an ace up his sleeve, and it’s a big one.

Some complaints though. First of all, I found the book slightly confusing at first and a little hard to get into. It took me awhile to just get into the book. However, after I basically forced myself to read through the first several chapters, it picked up and at that point, I couldn’t put the book down. It was that good. It was fast paced, was full of intrigue and tension, and had a lot of action. Another complaint, however, is that Alex seems to benefit from a lot of, well, good luck, excluding his torture scene by Karpov. He’s saved in the plane, he kills the Knyaz assassin pretty handily, he meets the one woman in town who is connected to Frank’s death and is also connected to Karpov, whom Alex ultimately is looking for. He gets into the right places pretty easily. Things seem to come to him so easily. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re an ex-spook, I don’t know. It just seemed really convenient and just a little contrived. However, the story was so good, I was willing to overlook all of these perceived flaws.

Coercion is a very good spy/thriller. I enjoyed it very much. What’s keeping it from being a five star book? Well, I guess it’s the aforementioned too many coincidences that tend to distract from rather than enhance the story. Also, the beginning of the novel could have been improved upon. Better editing, suggesting a fresher rewrite of the first few chapters, perhaps? Alex is a really good character. I kept thinking Jason Bourne. Not Bond, Bourne. I liked him. I’d like to read more books with him, but at the same time, I’m not sure making a series featuring him is a great idea. Too many authors are creating series’ these days featuring great characters and are having to make up impossible scenarios that don’t seem remotely realistic. I don’t want to see that happen to this character (not that this seemed realistic). All in all, four strong stars and definitely recommended.

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Last Issue of RRR

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 20, 2016

It’s the first day of spring and that means the Spring 2016 issue of Ray’s Road Review has been published. Please feel free to drop by and read some fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Additionally, we’re going on indefinite hiatus, which makes us a bit sad. My severely poor health makes it no longer possible for me to hold down my poetry editor duties and Gretchen and Chris are going to pursue their own things for the time being. At some point in the future, we hope to come back and start back up, but that’s probably a ways down the road. I feel proud to have been a part of something that has become such an excellent literary journal and I’d like to thank Chris for giving me the opportunity and Gretchen for being a big part of it.

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New Ray’s Road Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 23, 2015

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the Fall 2015 issue of Ray’s Road Review. It has plenty of new fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography. Feel free to check it out at http://raysroadreview.com.

Since I’m the poetry editor, I may as well plug the poets. They are Ruth Z. Deming, Ernest Williamson, R.T. Castleberry, Ross Knapp, Michael H. Brownstein, and Lowell Jaeger. There’s also a book review. It’s a pretty good group of poets representing wide styles of poetry with a variety of subjects. If you enjoy contemporary poetry, check it out.

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Submission Guidelines

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 26, 2015

Why don’t so many people read or adhere to magazine submission guidelines? This is the eternal mystery for me. As a magazine poetry editor, I have published a set of submission guidelines that I expect people to follow when submitting. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. When you’re a writer submitting to a magazine, presumably you’re putting yourself and your work out there as a professional to be taken seriously, not as a schmuck. You don’t submit whatever you want however you want. Every publication has guidelines. One of the first things you learn when writing and beginning publishing is to read and follow guidelines. It’s just common sense. One of the easiest ways to make sure your work doesn’t get read is to not go by the guidelines. One of the easiest ways to make sure your work does get read is to follow the guidelines. Simple.

Editors set up guidelines to streamline things and make their jobs a little easier. They get deluged with submissions. Sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. If everyone submitting can stick to the same format, it really helps. But if people are submitting all sorts of ways, it can really throw you off. It also helps to level the playing field. If everyone follows the same guidelines, presumably there won’t be anyone getting preferential treatment. That’s not always the case, but it helps.

My guidelines are a little strict, but certainly not as bad as many magazines I’ve submitted to over the years. More lenient than many even. And my response time is better than average. One of the things that has mystified me, however, is how many poetry submissions our nonfiction editor gets. I mean, what the hell? Why? Our fiction editor never gets any. I, as the poetry editor, get a ton. But our nonfiction editor gets quite a few and forwards them to me. And you know what? They ALWAYS suck! Always. They’re horrible. It’s like sixth grade poetry. And they obviously haven’t read the guidelines, which state to email the poetry submissions to the poetry editor, giving my email address. So, they’re not to be taken seriously, since they don’t take their own submission seriously. And I’ve taken to trashing them. I used to read over them and consider them. And respond. But at the beginning of the year, I grew tired of the idiocy and posted a post on the website telling people this practice will no longer be tolerated and any poetry submission sent to the wrong editor will simply be deleted unread. And still they come in. Dolts! What the hell are they thinking? Who emails poetry submissions to nonfiction editors? I would never think of doing that. That’s just damned stupid. In fact, when I was heavily submitting, I tried hard to find out the name of the poetry editor and mailed my submission to him or her by name. The pros who send me submissions read over our masthead on the website and often do that to me. You can tell who the pros are by their submissions. There’s a reason why they have the good credits. They write better poems and they follow submission guidelines. Simple.

If any of my readers can shed some light on why anyone would submit their poetry submissions to the nonfiction editor, I’d love to hear it. Thanks.

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New RRR Out!

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 21, 2015

Since it’s the first day of summer, I’d like to announce the publication of the Summer 2015 issue of Ray’s Road Review. Please read and enjoy.

Since I’m the poetry editor, I’d like to highlight the poets. They include Susan C. Waters, Bill Abbott, Ivan Jenson, Grant Mason, Mitchell Grabois, Michelle Askin, and Erren Kelly. Additionally, there are two books reviews for books by Frederick Pollack and Dimitris Lyacos. I hope you like it all.

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New Ray’s Road Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 20, 2015

It’s spring and that means the Spring 2015 issue of Ray’s Road Review has been published today. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography. Check it out! http://raysroadreview.com

Of course, since I’m the poetry editor, I have to acknowledge the poets in this issue. They include Lyn Lifshin, Robert Joe Stout, Terry Savoie, Alan Catlin, Richard Fein, and Colin Dodds. Good stuff. Good poets. Check them out.

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New Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 21, 2014

Since today is the first day of winter, I’d like to announce the publication of the Winter 2015 issue of Ray’s Road Review. Read, enjoy. I hope you like it.

Since I’m the poetry editor, I may as well promote the poets. There are some really great poets in the new issue of Rays Road Review. They are Simon Perchik, Bruce McRae, Lyn Lifshin, Michael Mark, William Miller, and Rich Ives. Really good poetry. Check it out.

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New Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 23, 2014

I’d like to announce the publication of the Fall 2014 issue of Ray’s Road Review, featuring a lot of great new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This issue also marks the passing of the nonfiction and photography editing baton from Kelley Clink to Gretchen VanOstrand. Many thanks to both women.

Since I edit the poetry, I may as well plug the poets in this issue. They are Carolyn Ogburn, BZ Niditch, Ruth Z. Deming, Marcella Benton, Tamer Mostafa, and Erren Kelly. I hope you enjoy their work.

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New Issue of Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 23, 2014

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the Summer 2014 edition of Ray’s Road Review. We have some excellent fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography. Please read and enjoy. (However, please don’t submit any poetry right now, because I’m swamped with submissions.)

The poets we feature in this issue are Charlie O’Hay, Scott Laudati, Jona McNerney, Len Krisak, and R.T. Castleberry. The Fall issue is full and we’re reading for the Winter 2015 issue now. The submissions keep coming in. I hope you like this issue.

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New Issue of RRR Out!

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 20, 2014

Spring is finally here and that means the Spring 2014 issue of Ray’s Road Review has been published. Check it out at raysroadreview.com. Read and submit. We especially need nonfiction.

Among the poets published, we have Doug Draime, D.A. Spruzen, Erren Kelly, Thomas Piekarski, David Cravens, and the always great Lyn Lifshin. Feel free to leave comments on their pages.

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EDIT: I have no idea why the links for RRR aren’t working on my site, but I apologize. Just google Ray’s Road Review and it should find it. I have the site up on another browser right now! Weird.

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