The Expedition by Chris Babu

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 “They say you don’t shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.”

 THE EXPEDITION

By CHRIS BABU

A generation after most of humanity was destroyed by the deadly superbug Aeru, a micro society rises from the ruins of what was formerly known as Manhattan. This miniature civilization of survivors is known as New America, a place where every citizen is supposedly considered equal. Yet, zones segregated by thick walls according to job and status suggest otherwise. Just two weeks prior, in order to earn a higher quality of life for their families, several young high school graduates signed up as pledges for the infamous Initiation test. Those who survived barely have the opportunity to enjoy their success.

In book two of the Initiation series, THE EXPEDITION (Permuted Press, ISBN: 978-1682618356, Hardcover, January 2019), author Chris Babu returns to New America where Drayden, Catrice, Charlie, and Sidney are targeted by their despot ruler, The Premiere, for another death-defying mission. They were promised a better life for their families, and after risking everything to get it, they now learn that there is just one more thing they need to do—save the world from its looming demise.

In THE EXPEDITION, the four pledges join forces with the elite security team, the Guardians, to leave the uncontaminated safety of New America.  They must venture beyond the walls into the unknown to find deep-cycle windmill batteries and search for signs of life. Without these batteries, all power in New America will cease and its citizens will die. In addition, Drayden harbors a personal agenda—finidng his mother, who was brutally exiled to live outside the city’s walls.

 Although Premiere Holst assured them that the Guardians would serve and protect them, the relationship between the two groups is contentious. Add to this the obvious hurdles of battling desperate post-Confluence creatures and deranged survivors, and the potential of contracting Aeru, and the journey seems like it is doomed to fail.

With a degree in Mathematics from M.I.T., Babu draws upon his knowledge to create increasingly difficult quandaries the pledges must solve to reach their goal.  Like Rick Riordan who imparted his love of mythology to middle-grade readers in the Percy Jackson series, Babu wants to encourage kids to find the fun in math and problem solving.

In a battle of brains versus brawn among ruins of the Aeru ravaged jungle beyond New America’s walls, Drayden, Catrice, Charlie, and Sidney face the most puzzling challenge of all time—how to survive.  A perfect triad of math, science, and harrowing adventure, THE EXPEDITION will have the heart and mind racing, cheering for a new generation of teenage heroes.

About the Author

Chris Babu is a self-proclaimed science and math nerd who grew up playing soccer and the violin in North Haven, CT.  He was a bond trader on Wall Street for nineteen years, and his first novel, The Initiation, was published in 2018.  He lives on the east end of Long Island with his wife, daughter, and 130-pound Great Dane, Buddy.

 

The Exile by Gregory Erich Phillips

“Everything was dark.  Though her eyes could see little, her other senses became acute, telling her she wasn’t dreaming. Terror reached down into the pit of her stomach as her worst fear was revealed by the sound of whirring jets and the sensation of changing air pressure—she was on an airplane…was she really being deported? Even after everything that led up to this, it was unbelievable.”

THE EXILE

A novel by

 Gregory Erich Phillips

As a pre-teen, Leila made a risky escape from an evil man and a life of poverty in Colombia.  Today, a full-grown woman with a seemingly perfect life and successful career, Leila is well on her way to having it all.  But buried secrets have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt us, and in Gregory Erich Phillips’s new novel THE EXILE (Koehler Books; April 6, 2019; Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-6339376-5-9; $18.95) events steadily mount to a fever-pitch when Leila and others are forced to face extreme challenges to avoid losing everything they love.

It is the mid-2000s and Leila is working for one of the top mortgage brokers in Phoenix, Arizona.  Her manager, Samantha, applauds Leila’s hard work while at the same time taking every opportunity to remind Leila of her Hispanic immigrant status.  Leila’s perfect life begins to unravel, precipitated by the mortgage crisis of 2008 and an ill-timed romance with Samantha’s son, Ashford. Seeing Leila with her son brings all Samantha’s latent racism to the surface, and she lays down an ultimatum with disastrous consequences.

THE EXILE is a captivating story about love, family, home and the courage it takes to protect them. It is a timely novel that sheds light on the challenges faced by Hispanic immigrants living in the United States. Phillips, whose first award-winning novel Love of Finished Years depicted the complicated life of a German immigrant woman in New York during World War I, is adept at presenting events, whether current or historical, on an emotional level through his strong characters.  In THE EXILE he also draws on research and professional experience to express the realities of an abrupt deportation and the fallout for well-meaning people in the mortgage business.

A prolific writer with another novel already underway, Phillips is quickly establishing himself as an author to watch.  THE EXILE has already won first-place for mainstream fiction in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest and is well on its way to being on must-read lists in 2019.

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Book Giveaways!

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We are currently giving away a copy of Neal Rabin’s adventurous novel (perfect for summer reading) 23 DEGREES SOUTH: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether… ending on May 16th, 2018 at 12:00AM EST. The winner will be contacted by email, so make sure to check your inbox in case it was you!

“Enjoy with your favorite cocktail!…23 DEGREES SOUTH will capture all readers with its story of two young friends on different paths who intersect within an action packed story.”
– Chanticleer Reviews, 5/5 Stars

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Case Studies 3: Accepting the Audience that Wants Your Book and Reaping the Benefits

You have an MFA in Creative Writing from a respected program/university.  You have been carefully crafting your story and verbiage to create the best literary debut you can. Now for promotion and the audience that comes with it—Paris Review?  The New Yorker? Tin House? New York Times Book Review? Not likely.

Whether you are published by a traditional publisher with a lot of muscle, a small independent press, or your own book production venture, no one can count on that kind of coverage for literary novels.  For one thing, there just aren’t enough venues anymore.  The other problem is that there are too many books and too little time, and frankly, if you are not published by Knopf or Simon & Schuster, you just won’t command the kind of attention you need to get into one of those classic publications.

Whatever you do, don’t stop writing and don’t give up hope for promotion!  We need great writing and great books, and while you can’t market a work of serious fiction as a chick lit novel, you can consider what other audiences might be interested in your story.

Recently we worked with an author and a novel.  It was definitely a literary book, but it also had different attributes that gave it potential in some niche audiences that were actually bigger than the more esoteric fiction readers that serious writers like to reach. The author had supported herself in non-traditional ways while working on her writing and had achieved a position as a teacher and founder of a charity that promotes writing for children in underdeveloped countries. She definitely had the credentials of a writer.

Since we specialize in promoting fiction across multiple genres and niches, we maximized our focus to include media that covered fiction, literary fiction, romance, christian fiction, debut novelists, philanthropy, and New York City settings.  We approached bloggers, websites, print, radio, and when warranted, television.

We were pretty happy with the coverage from the general fiction audiences and the publisher secured a review in the top trade, but what really paid off was a review on USAToday.com from a reviewer interested in the romance/womens fiction angle.  This review was not only a good one, but it did a couple of things that benefitted the author in a number of ways.  First of all when it ran there was a spike in sales on Amazon.com.  We were able to use the review and its national print-to-online paper status to secure additional media including a local television station in one of her home markets.  Was she happy about the review?  Well, at first not so enthusiastic because she was concerned that she would be “pigeon holed” as a romance writer.  I say “who cares?” as long as you sell books at this stage of the game.

Now I am also a branding strategist, so I do know that is important to avoid being classified as something that isn’t appropriate for you or your career.  However, one review for a debut novel isn’t going to determine your path.  It is a milestone that needs to be appreciated for what it is and to be used in as many positive ways as possible.

One of the best things she got from the deal? She was able to get a Bookbub promotion on the first try.  If any of you have tried to secure a slot on this infamous discounted book marketing site, you may have tried two or three times and perhaps did not even get accepted in the end.  One of their requirements is that they have legitimate reviews or news coverage of a book, whether traditionally or self-published and USAToday.com definitely can help put you over the top in terms of qualifying.

Her promotion ran, and her Amazon rank went from five figures to the lower threes, somewhere around 300, which is a major leap in ranking.  Sales activity like this will increase her audience; garner more Amazon/Goodreads reviews and ratings; generate additional full price sales; and will help along with the press coverage when she wants to bring out her next book and is searching for a publisher.

A couple of lessons here: Try to find every possible way to promote your fiction even if it doesn’t lead you to the coveted New York Times review.  When you do get a big nod that isn’t exactly what you wanted, revel in it, celebrate, do the ten second dance of joy, take a breath…and get back to work.

Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

SharpObjectsGF“I just think some women aren’t made to be mothers. And some women aren’t made to be daughters.”

-Sharp Objects

There are a fair share of books that use a narcissistic mother character, where the daughter feels misunderstood and unloved by her egotistical mother. Usually when I read books with this sort of mother-daughter relationship I don’t feel much sympathy for the female protagonist because it feels like I just read a book with the same exact relationship except the characters had different names. For instance, the last book I read with a bad mother-daughter relationship was Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. And even though the alcoholic, youth-obsessed mother had her adult daughter kidnapped, I couldn’t feel sorry for either character because I’ve become immune to this dynamic in books.

Gillian Flynn’s book Sharp Objects is an exception. Flynn writes the narcissistic, insane, manipulative mother so well that every time Camille, the protagonist, has any sort of reaction with her mother I not only get nervous for her, but with her. Her disassociation with her mother, Adora, dips and weaves through the entire book, with a sick, twisted ending that you’re expecting, but also sincerely hoping won’t happen. When you finish Sharp Objects you will shudder, and never look at milk or doll houses the same way again.

Camille Preaker hasn’t been home to Wind Gap, Missouri, in eight years, having set up a new life after spending time in a psych hospital for her cutting issues. Instead of cutting lines, though, Camille was cutting words into her skin, the scars of which were still etched into her body: “Richard let out a burp of a laugh, a shocked croak. Unworthy flared up my leg.”  Her sister Marian had died in her teens, something Camille-and the rest of her family-never got over.

Never wanting to set foot in the town she left behind, Camille reluctantly heads back to Wind Gap when her employer, the Chicago Daily Post, hears a rumor about a murder mystery involving two strangled and and deliberately “de-toothed” 13-year-old girls occurring in the same year.  If the paper gets the story, its sales will boom.

While in Wind Gap Camille realizes not much has changed-her mother is still a nervous, self-absorbed woman who has always had everything she wanted delivered on a silver platter. And Camille’s half-sister Amma is the most popular girl in school–a beautiful 13-year-old girl who Camille notices is developing-or already has- psychopathic tendencies: “’Sometimes if you let people do things to you, you’re really doing it to them,’ Amma said, pulling another Blow Pop from her pocket. Cherry. ‘Know what I mean? If someone wants to do fucked-up things to you, and you let them, you’re making them more fucked up. Then you have the control.’” There’s only one thing, however, that the arrogant Amma can’t control: she’ll never live up to her dead sister Marian or the two dead girls, and her overwhelming jealousy makes Amma an even creepier character.

Sharp Objects is a dysfunctional, sickening thriller that engulfs you in its first sentence. I’ll definitely be picking up Flynn’s novels Gone Girl and Dark Places in the near future, and you should be reading Sharp Objects.