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Monday, June 1, 2020

SPFBO 2020 Introduction Post

FBC will have a pleasure to participate in the SPFBO for the sixth time. This time we'll have four judges involved in choosing our SPFBO champion. We'll happy to have an excellent guest blogger - Adam Weller - joining us this year. Here’s a bit of information on all of us:

David Stewart: David was living as a mild-mannered librarian when one day he stumbled into a radioactive vat full of books and video games and was instantly transformed into Nerd Man. His powers include not being qualified (or interested) in having anything to do with the realities of life, and so he spends his time reading and writing and gaming, with occasional breaks for work and family. D.C. named his daughter Coraline, proof that he has very little respect for normal society and is completely immersed in fantasy. His favorite authors include Grandfather Tolkien, Uncle Steve (Erikson), and that weird cousin with the crazy hair, Neil. He also loves trees and bears.

David Stewart can be found over here on Goodreads.

About Lukasz: Lukasz Przywoski is an avid fiction reader from Poland. Apart from being keen on reading and inhabiting imaginary worlds, his biggest passion is the science of movement and movement in multiple forms. Life without sport and books wouldn't be worth living.

While fantasy is his favorite genre, he tends to read pretty broadly and is always eager to try new things. Favorite authors: Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher, Mark Lawrence, Craig Schaefer, Seth Skorkowsky, Matt Suddain and many others.. He's also active on r/fantasy as barb4ry1.

Łukasz can be found over here on Goodreads.

About Adam Weller: About Adam Weller: Born and raised New Jersey strong and currently residing outside Philadelphia, Adam has had an unwavering passion for reading his entire life. With the help of his favorite toy, Speak'n'Spell, he started reading at age two and hasn't stopped reading ever since. He enjoys fantasy and science fiction, 20th century noir, historical fiction, and satire. 

Favorite writers include Mark Lawrence, Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson, Devin Madson, Robert Jackson Bennett, David Sedaris, Tina Fey, Josiah Bancroft, and Richard Nell. 

While not reading, you can find Adam doing a poor impression of working out at the gym, telling Dad jokes to his daughters, or glued to the nearest New Jersey Devils hockey game. Often at the same time. 

Follow his reading progress through his Goodreads page

About Mihir Wanchoo: Born and raised in Mumbai, India. Mihir is an avid book collector and longtime reader of fantasy, thrillers and Indian mythology with additional interests in historical fiction and urban fantasy.

Favorite writers include John Connolly, David Gemmell, Rachel Aaron, Rob J. Hayes, Mark Lawrence, Craig Schaefer, Richard Nell, James Clemens and a few others.

With additional interests in cricket and football (the actual kind). Mihir lives in the Pacific North West and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books. Mihir can be contacted directly at Goodreads HERE.

As always Mark Lawrence has our eternal gratitude for commitment towards running this contest and being the patron saint for self-published authors everywhereAll ten judges have had their lots allotted to them and these are the titles (and FBC team members reading them) from which the FBC finalist will most likely arise:

Book TitleAuthorJudge
BladesorrowD.T. KaneDavid
Spit and SongTravis M. RiddleDavid
The Wound of WordsDeborah MakariosDavid
Stray MagicJenny SchwartzDavid
ShoreseekerBrandon M. LindsayDavid
The Reluctant Witch: Year One (Santa Cruz Witch Academy #1)Kristen S. WalkerDavid
Aspiring, Part 1 of the Siblings' TaleAstrid VJDavid
Currents of ChangeDarian SMithLukasz
A Locket of No Particular SignificanceFlorien St. JohnLukasz
The Hidden KingEG RadcliffLukasz
Graveyard GodsJoseph DanielLukasz
Cycle of BladesChristopher KeeneLukasz
OasisBharat KrishnanLukasz
The Dragons TeethJA ClemementLukasz
Another Dead InternJoel SpriggsLukasz
Feast of the MotherMiranda HornfleurMihir
Lasera ~ Book One of The Mer ArchivesDanielle PedersonMihir
The Assassin's GiftClaire BostonMihir
A Voice That ThundersCully MackMihir
PradyutitaGeetha KrishnanMihir
Wings of FateSkyeMihir
The Combat CodesAlexander DarwinMihir
TimberwolfDominic AlderSwiff
Worth of LuckKA AshcombSwiff
Death of the Invisible FinancierRD HendersonSwiff
The Alchemy DirgeEyan HowseSwiff
The Blood Stone: Curse of the Drakku Book OneJason NugentSwiff
Bloodline: RiseJonathan HakanssonSwiff
I, ExileDavid M. SamuelsSwiff
A Dark Inheritance (Hollow Fate Book 1)Todd HerzemanSwiff

Our approach

We've divided our titles into four batches. Each one of us will try to pick a semi-finalist (or two) from their mini-batch. We will discuss the entries and read titles from each person’s lot. We hope to finish with 4-5 semi-finalists. Each judge will read all semi-finalists and we'll pick our finalist based on the following criteria: story/plot, characterization, world-building, writing style. Having four team members involved in reading each semi-finalist will counter any bias we may have.

We will try to post our thoughts on each book but that might not always be possible. We will ideally go through batches of 7-8 books and announce a semi-finalist each time. However, that might not always be possible as we might not like any book in a particular batch.

All of these semi-finalists will be getting proper reviews and we will be offering each author an interview to go along with the review. Authors, please understand the main reason why we are not able to offer reviews to all of our 30 books as FBC is a passion project outside of our professional and personal lives.

We strive to make sure that our reviews reflect how we feel about the books that we read and enjoy. Please don’t feel slighted if your book isn’t selected. It doesn’t mean that it was a crappy book but simply that it didn’t match our tastes and hence it wasn’t put forward. The books that we love might not always be the ones that you like and vice versa. Keep in mind that we will do our best to select the book that we feel is the best of our lot (irrespective of the sub-genre it inhabits within fantasy) .

From the last couple of times, I’ve also learnt that we aren’t the quickest in terms of finishing through our lot so authors please feel to email us at fantasybookcriticblog(at)gmail (dot)com or message us on Facebook or Twitter asking for updates or any other queries. I promise we are very friendly and will do our best to reply back promptly. If you just want to say hello or have other ideas, we welcome them too :)

Our initial impressions

We're thrilled to discover new books and titles! That said, we would like to share a few thoughts.
Covers matter. They sell your books. Try to make them as visually appealing as possible. Cover art is expensive, true, but it's worth looking for artists building their portfolio or using professional book templates when money is the issue. We had a few books in our batch that definitely needed some help in their cover art game. We want readers to notice your books and having tacky cover art is a simple way to ensure that potential readers move on without even opening your book.
Having your book’s metadata in the proper places is a boon. SPFBO's biggest strength lies in giving a free spotlight to books. Making sure that you don’t deprive yourself of this by not listing your book on GR or listing it with an old cover or no metadata. This can confuse potential readers & again makes them lose interest

Cover contest 

We are also posting our top 3 covers among all the wonderful ones in our group. For determining the top 3, we rated all our books with a max score of 40 (10 from each judge) and it’s our great pleasure to present our top 3:

) Spit and Song by Travis M. Riddle - Art by Amir Zand, design and formatting by BookDesignTemplates
2) Graveyard Gods by Joseph Daniel & Beyan Anderson - no data
3) The Blood Stone by Jason J. Nugent - Cover art by MiblArt. Book Design by BookDesignTemplates.

NOTE: SPFBO graphics courtesy of Justine Bergman.


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