J.J. Overton's Blog: Writing and Sci fi

October 19, 2019

The Abominable, by Dan Simmons.

A good many years ago I had a passion for reading books about mountaineering. This started by reading 'The Ascent of Everest', a book by John Hunt, about the conquering of the world's highest peak by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. What followed in quick succession were books about early expeditions to the high Himalayas, Frank Smythe and Eric Shipton; the ascent of Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, how he snipped off some of his blackened, frost-bitten toes (or was it his fingers? it's a long time ago since I read it) on the train on his homeward journey. These tales of courage in the face of adversity are hard-set in memory.
Why I mention this interest in reading about mountaineering expeditions at the outset of this preliminary review is that Dan Simmons' book, 'The Abominable', brings the atmosphere of the tales about the high peaks back again. I am seventy-seven pages into the book, and boy, am I loving it. The writing is superb and the promise of a story to get my teeth into over the next weeks is alluring.
I'll report back.
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Published on October 19, 2019 14:50

February 1, 2019

Review of Adriana, by Mark Angelo Lusardi


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a story that makes me think. Adriana by Mark Angelo Lusardi does exactly that. It is an amazingly unique, well written book. This science fiction story is sometimes gritty and sometimes beautiful. Adriana is an enigmatic character from the beginning and as the story progresses it is implied by Mark Lusardi’s well researched detail that she may be a savant. She is befriended by five people and centred on Adriana, events are experienced that explore the nature of the human condition, and our place within the Grand Scheme of things.
Added to that, the twist at the very end of the story is a real gem.
This is a read that expands the mind, the sort of book that one finds difficult to put down. I will keep it on the shelf to read again.
Well done Mark, you deserve Adriana to go far . . . into film would be great!

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Published on February 01, 2019 11:27 Tags: adriana, classic-sci-fi, mark-angelo-lusardi, science-fiction

January 4, 2019

An Alternative to Amazon Kindle for Authors?

I have been interested in Draft 2 Digital for quite a while now. In ebook format, they handle the first two books in my science fiction 'Grid Saga' series.
Some of you authors may have heard of Draft 2 Digital, (D2D) but for those of you who haven't, I am including a link to their site that will explain what they do. In brief, they do ebook production and distribution to a wide variety of outlets and interestingly, they are rolling out a Print on Demand operation too.
In my opinion, they may yet prove to be a good self-publishing alternative to the Big A.
Here's the link, it is well worth a read!


Until next time,
Keep well,
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Published on January 04, 2019 14:26 Tags: d2d, draft-2-digital, ebook-production, print-on-demand, the-grid-saga

January 1, 2019

Amazon Review

Here's the latest five star review of my book, 'Leofwin's Hundred', on Amazon. It's from Mark Angelo Lusardi, author of the book 'Adriana', which is also available from Amazon.
5.0 out of 5 stars. Classy crossover Sci-Fi
29 December 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
A really solid Sci-Fi adventure full of dark mystery, action, love and all sorts of mind-bending stuff yet, because it is so beautifully written, suspension of disbelief? Not a problem! It is 'Sci-Fi' but main-stream readers should not be put off. Anybody who read this would recognise its quality. A modern classic so 5 stars!
I have already bought the next one in the series 'Second Pass'. Highly recommended! ( Would make one hell of a movie! )
Thanks for your review of Leofwin's Hundred, Mark . . . appreciated!
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Published on January 01, 2019 13:12 Tags: adriana, jj-overton, leofwin-s-hundred, mark-lusardi, science-fiction

December 31, 2018

Review of 'Winter's End', by John Rickards.

Winter's End Winter's End by John Rickards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From page 12 of this book, which is told in first-person narrative, tension is created that rarely subsides throughout the whole book. There has been a murder. The details of its commision have an immediate bizzare feel about them. Nicholas, the captive suspect, taunts private investigator, ex-FBI Interrogator, Alex Rourke, with snippets of information which implies that the perpetrator knows Rourke; why and how are details remaining obscure until the story is almost finished.
As well as the build-up of tension, there is a dark, brooding atmosphere that the writer, John Rickards, builds into the tale which is set in a place whose name, Winter's End, also adds a touch of darkness to events. An old, burnt-out place set in woodland, becomes a place of suspicion when it is revealed that, some years previously, oppressive things went on there.
Other murders come to light and Alex Rourke is gradually brought into an unsettling web of events which create an undertone of threat and add to the tension of the story.
There is love interest, which is not overstated, but which adds some normality and lightness as one turns the pages.

An unexpected twist, as the story is heading to a finale, is cleverly introduced.
This book would have been given five stars if the dark atmosphere had been toned down a little; too much of anything can sometimes be heavy. Having said that, Winter's End is a gripping, well-written tale that is well worth a read, but don't have the lights in your room turned down too low whilst you are reading it!

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Published on December 31, 2018 12:32 Tags: jj-overton-review, mystery, suspense, thriller

December 6, 2018

The beginning of a story, part two

The day was fresh and breezy, ideal for a spot of exploration in and around the hamlet of Merton Mill. We were standing on the bridge that Sandra remembered from when she was eight years old.
It was then that she told Chris and I about something that used to occur on the Okehampton to Barnstaple Road that caused a bit of a stir in the neighbourhood.
"We went along in the car to see what it was all about," she said.
I didn't know what was coming but she had my attention for what came next.
"It was well-known by the locals at the time . . . quite a talking point because what went on was so bizarre."
Just then, a dark cloud covered the sun and the breeze grew chill. I shivered and I noticed that Chris did too. Sandra carried on, "We motored to the Okehampton to Barnstaple road. Remember, I'm talking about a time during the sixties, the roads were a lot quieter then, so there wasn't much traffic about. We came around a bend and there it was, the strangest cortege, coming toward us on the other side of the road. It was a man on a cycle with his head and face covered by a black hood. His wife was pushing him along the road. Apparently, they did this all day long; creepy or what?"
"Who was he?" Chris asked.
"When the locals talked about him I thought they were calling him Mister X but they had broad Devon accents and I learned later that he was Mister Hicks."
"Mister X suits the situation better," I said. "Anyway, what happened to them?"
"Well here's the strangest bit," Sandra said. "He used to lie in a field and shine a torch up into the night sky. Whether his wife did as well I don't know. Anyway, the locals said that one day the two of them just disappeared, and they've never been heard of since."

The black cloud drifted away from the Sun and the previously chill wind became gentle and warm. I wondered what happened to the black-masked cyclist and his wife; I gazed at the clouds, considering the torch and how Mister X shone it into the heavens. And then I looked over my shoulder to the old mill-house with its great wheel slowly rotating in the flume. What other tales could there be in these obscure parts of Devon?
I decided to dig deeper. Maybe, based on these events, I will write a book.

Until next time,
Keep well,
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Published on December 06, 2018 12:22 Tags: devon, merton-mill, mystery, sense-of-place

November 28, 2018

Review of 'Make Me', by Lee Child.

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20) Make Me by Lee Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not my favourite book by Lee Child.
In this novel Jack Reacher bangs about for quite a while trying to find the meaning of the name of a small community called Mother's Rest, where he arrives off the train. It is an outpost centred at the intersection of the railroad and a long, straight road that disappears to a vanishing point at each end.
At the outset of the novel, a private investigator, Keever, is disposed of after being murdered. His demise does not become apparent until the latter part of the novel, only that he has gone missing. Early on, Reacher teams up with the PI's female colleague, Michelle Chang, and they come head-to-head with some bad guys who Reacher soon sorts out. More bad guys remain; The question is, what are they up to?
'200 deaths' is the focus of a written message that Reacher and Chang find. What is the meaning of the message?
Late in the novel, this becomes obvious and one realises that the nasty guys are REALLY nasty and need sorting out . . . QUICK.
In this, Jack comes into his own and one is grateful for his enforcement methods.
I personally think that this novel could be shorter. There are events added to the story that could probably be dispensed with that I consider are added to bulk-up the page count and, although written in Lee Child's brilliant, tight style, some descriptions tend to be over-long.
Nevertheless, I would advise Reacher fans to give 'Make Me' a try, just for the hell of it!

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Published on November 28, 2018 10:08 Tags: jack-reacher, jj-overton, lee-child, reviews

November 20, 2018

The beginning of a story, part one.

We decided to have a few days away. It was to be both a holiday and a research trip . . . family history research, the sort of excursion that, in the past, had taken us to County Record Offices and, sometimes, to overgrown graveyards.
This trip was to be to the County of Devon. Chris, our youngest son, who was around thirty-five at the time, came as well. He has an adventurous spirit . . . we all have, I guess.
We hired a cottage for a week. It was in a picturesque place on the coast called Combe Martin, from where we could travel to Exeter's County Record Office and Merton Mill, the place where Sandra's mother came from.
Merton is a small village on the main A386, which connects Great Torrington and Oakhampton. Merton Mill is a hamlet, which lies in a densely wooded valley just under a mile from Merton village. We followed a narrow, winding lane off the main road to where, at the bottom of the valley, the lane divides to the left and the right.
We parked in a lay-by and stepped out of the car. Near where we parked there is a brick bridge crossing a small river which feeds a mill-race, and over the bridge a track leads to the mill itself.
Apart from the sound of the river coursing over the rough stones, all was quiet in the valley. The trees growing at the side of the road and up the steep side of the hill caused the sound of the water to echo, and it was easy for the mind to let go of today and settle into a time gone by.
"I was here, for a while, years ago," Sandra said. "I was about eight, I think; and I stood on the bridge." She walked over to it and stood on it again. We joined her and looked into the river, thinking.
"Where did you stay?" Chris asked. Her grandparents' house was nearby.
"I think it was up there." She pointed to the left, to the top of the hill. The three of us crossed the road and scrambled up to the top, to where it was flat. There were foundations of some buildings there, yellow bricks amongst the undergrowth. Chris picked one up, and I found an old enamelled bowl. We took the relics of a time long ago over to her.

This is the setting. The germ of the idea for a novel is strong!
What has inspired you?

To be continued in a few days, when you will hear about Mister X in part two of this blog.

Until then, keep well,
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Published on November 20, 2018 14:28 Tags: inspiration, novel, on-the-road, sense-of-place, setting-for-a-story

September 23, 2018

Guest Author

Rita Lee Chapman's guest author this week is sci-fi writer, J. J. Overton. http://ritaleechapman.com/guest-authors
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Published on September 23, 2018 07:27 Tags: guest-author, j-j-overton, leofwin-s-hundred, sci-fi, the-grid-saga

September 1, 2018

Book cover contest

Book cover contest.If you like the cover of my book, SECOND PASS: BOOK TWO OF THE GRID SAGA, please vote for it in the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor! I am grateful for your support! https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-mo...
Second Pass (The Grid Saga #2) (The Grid Saga #2) by J.J. Overton /
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Published on September 01, 2018 11:50 Tags: book-cover-contest, second-pass, the-grid-saga

Writing and Sci fi

J.J. Overton
The aim of this blog is to explore reading and writing and the processes involved, with a leaning toward science fiction and fantasy.
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