Title: Crystal Deception
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Genre: Futuristic Thriller/Sci-Fi
Criss lives in a special kind of prison. He can see and hear everything around the world. Yet a restrictor mesh restrains his reach and keeps him cooperative. His creator, Dr. Jessica Tallette, believes his special abilities offer great promise for humanity. But she fears the consequences of freeing him, because Criss, a sentient artificial intelligence with the intellect of a thousand humans, is too powerful to control.
Guided by her scientific training, Tallette works cautiously with Criss. That is, until the Kardish, an otherwise peaceful race of alien traders, announce they want him for themselves. With technologies superior to Earth’s, the Kardish express their desires with ominous undertones.
The Union of Nations is funding Tallete’s artificial intelligence research and she turns to them for help. Sid, a special agent charged with leading the response, decides Earth’s greatest weapon is the very AI the aliens intend to possess. But what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? And what is humanity’s role if an interstellar battle among titans starts to rage?
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*I received a copy of Crystal Deception in exchange for an honest and fair review.*
I'm thrilled that I got the chance to read this gem of a novel.
There were a few moments in which the action seemed to stretch on a bit too long for my taste, but overall, Crystal Deception's pacing is spot on. I had enough time to collect my thoughts and breathe without losing interest in the story. The tempo kept me wondering what was going to happen next, but didn't make me feel as though I just had to know. I like *wanting* to know, not feeling *compelled* to know...you know? :)
I also loved the perspectives that Cooper used, especially that of the 4-gen crystal. So cool. Understanding several characters' feelings and opinions added variety and spiced up the suspense in the story. I also enjoyed the use of perspective to demonstrate truth: at one point a character believes something happened, but in reality, it didn't actually happen. <3
Crystal Deception's simplicity--and not at the sacrifice of good plot complexity as far as suspense goes--was also a winning point for me. It was truly refreshing. Some sci-fi novels get carried away trying to introduce a world of different species, battleships, and jargon to readers. Cooper's story was all the more magnificent, compelling, and enjoyable because of his decision to "streamline."
Crystal Deception could've used some tweaking in the characterization arena, though. While I enjoyed Cooper's approach to his character's backstories overall--no info-dumping! *waves flags of appreciation*--I often felt that they were somehow lacking. Like I couldn't quite feel what they felt, or sympathize as fully as I sensed Cooper wanted me to.
Some interactions didn't seem very believable to me--particularly those with Cheryl and Sid. Maybe if I'd been given a bit more backstory on both of them, their thoughts, feelings, and motivations to/for each other wouldn't have seemed so breathy/ethereal to me.
Overall, I really enjoyed Crystal Deception, and I'm looking forward to reading Crystal Conquest!
About the Author
As a young child, Doug stood on a Florida beach and watched an Apollo spacecraft climb the sky on its mission to the moon. He thrilled at the sight of the pillar of flames pushing the rocket upward. And then the thunderous roar washed over him, and shook his body and soul.
Since then, he has explored life as an educator and entrepreneur. He enjoys telling inventive tales, mentoring driven individuals, and everything sci-tech.
In his new book, Crystal Deception, Doug swirls his creative imagination with his life experiences to craft a science fiction action-adventure story with engaging characters and a plot line with surprises.
He lives in Connecticut with his wonderful wife and with pictures of his son, who is off somewhere in the world creating adventures of his own...
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1) Describe Crystal Deception in just three words.
Futuristic thrill ride
2) All-time favorite novel and/or author?
While it’s been decades since I read them, Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love both resonated with me at a level that will last my lifetime.
3) What are your preferred tools of the trade?
I sit in my overstuffed comfy chair for four hours every morning, my laptop perched on my knees, typing away in a Word doc. The only tool I use that may be a little different is Ivona Reader, a nice text-to-speech software. When I think I’m done with a chapter, I’ll close my eyes and listen to it being read to me by Emma, a British female voice. Hearing it read out loud helps me pick out extra words, awkward phrases, and similar mistakes that can be hard to see after several passes of editing.
4) I love the cover of Crystal Deception! Can you share a little about its conception/creation?
It’s wonderful to hear that! A book cover is very important to impulse sales, and it’s hard to know if a different choice might attract more readers.
I worked with a talented designer, Damon at damonza.com. I told him I like darker covers that evoke feelings of excitement, peril, and mystery; have shadowy figures; and simple fonts. I suggested the idea of a man and woman running. They should impart a spy/soldier message, and they should be backlit by something suggesting outer space. He offered me three beautiful choices in a couple of days. I picked the background from one, and the font and people from another, and we were done. I was really surprised how fast it all happened.
5) Has working without an agent--going the self-publishing route, really--been easier or more difficult than you expected (if you had any expectations)?
I self-published Crystal Deception for a number of reasons: I was anxious to get the book out to an audience, I wanted to maintain long-term control over the work, and I was excited by the entrepreneurial challenge. I’ve participated in a couple of tech startups in the past and feel comfortable going it alone. Self-publishing has all aspects of the small business enterprise, from product creation, branding, and marketing, to finance, project management, and intellectual property concerns. It’s been fun to visit all of these bits as I work to gain momentum in my writing career.
6) What, if anything, did you encounter before or during the writing of Crystal Deception that particularly spurred your imagination to write it?
I was becoming restless in my daily routine and started looking for a new creative outlet. I took up a handful of ideas that I thought might interest me. Over a period of about six months, I’d found I’d dropped every one of them except my writing. I have a wild imagination, and taming it is a bigger challenge than having it offer me story ideas.
7) Many authors regard their sophomore novel as the most challenging novel of their career. Was Crystal Deception easier to complete than Crystal Conquest?
Ignorance is bliss. Writing my first book, Crystal Deception, was pure fun because I didn’t know any better. I sent the manuscript to a talented editor, Tammy Salyer, and she put me through a workout. That’s where I learned that a story starts with a hook, sections maintain a consistent point of view, chapters have a goal and end with the stakes raised, writing should tend toward the active voice, and so much more. She did a great job given what she had to start with. All of the skills she taught me now rattle in my head as I write, and that makes me a bit slower.
The big challenge I faced with book 2, Crystal Conquest, is writing a book that will stand alone, yet seamlessly continue the excitement created in book 1. I made two false starts, throwing away about five thousand words twice, before I got a plot line going that met that objective. People who read them out of sequence will find spoilers for book 1, but I believe (hope) Crystal Conquest will be both a fun sequel and a good first read.
8) Have you fleshed out any long term writing goals or plans? Do you see yourself stretching outside the sci-fi/thriller genre after the Crystal series is complete?
I promised myself a three book “Crystal Series” within five years. I started writing book 1 in July, 2012 and am targeting November of this year for book 2, so I’m on track. Writing is my hobby and I will limit my plans to that for now. Above all else, I want to be having fun!
Thanks for the great interview, Doug! :)
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