Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reviews and Spoilers...

As a first time author, I am thrilled to get reviewed at all (hey! they noticed me!), and I'm even more thrilled about the fact that the reviews have been good!!!  Blood and Groom has been reviewed ten times (that I know of) by various print media (including the Globe & Mail, Quill & Quire, London Free Press, Hamilton Spectator, etc.), and by various online magazines and blogs (Reviewing the Evidence, Bookgasm, etc.)

So what do I have to complain about?  Well...

One or two of the reviews (not on sources listed above) have kind of given away significant clues or spoilers.  Even though the reviews in these instances have been positive, I wonder if a potential reader may be turned off because they've learned too much about whodunit and won't have the sense of suspense one longs for in a mystery.

I have never written a review of a mystery novel.  As I think about it, yes, I imagine that it would be a challenge to write an informative review without giving away key plot points.

For those of you who have written mystery reviews, how do you balance writing an objective and interesting critique without saying too much?

For those of you who read book reviews, has a review ever turned you off by saying too much?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Recent Reads: Ladies Under Choke Rye

Ladies And Gentlemen The Bible! -  by Jonathan Goldstein
 My take on it:  Hilarious, though a tad tedious towards the end.  

Under The Volcano: A Novel - by Malcolm Lowry  
My take on it:  Hard work and heavy duty, but brilliantly written and evocative. 

 Choke - by Chuck Palahniuk   
My take on it: OMG - I loved it!  Fast & funny; I wolfed it down! 


Rabbit at Rest - by John Updike   
My take on it:  I love Harry Angstrom.  I've read the whole Rabbit series.   Loved all of them, old friends, neighbours, family.  I know these people.  

The Catcher in the Rye - by JD Salinger
This is a fantastic book and I really enjoyed re-reading it.   Worth another look if you only read it in high school.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wirting and Confidents and Grammer

I may come off as slightly cranky with this post, but I must comment on something I have seen a lot of lately, especially in Cyber Land.

Poor grammar and spelling. 

Spelling poorly (at least in the writings I've noticed recently) is usually the result of lazily depending on spellcheck.  Spellcheck corrects the wrong word for you, so words like inconvenience become incontinence!  Other frequent occurences include confusion between:
  • accept/except
  • advise/advice
  • effect/affect
  • your/you're
  • there/their/they're
  • ... and so on...

The crimes against grammar usually include:
  • run on sentences
  • apostrophe plurals (argghhhh!!!)
  • vague pronoun references
  • misplaced modifiers
  • verb conjugations (especially irregular past participals and perfect tenses)
  • semi-colons and colons used incorrectly (argghhhh!!!)
Studying grammar is about as much fun as watching paint dry, but it's a must!

When I first started creative writing, I had been teaching grammar and composition for so long, I felt confident in my ability to at least write clearly and correctly.  In some ways, that was half the battle right there. 

I realize that online communications are often informal, and are often done on the fly.  Plus, I must confess I've had my share of typos and grammar goofs, but things are rarely perfect.

However, if you want to get published, and maybe someday quit your day job to be a full time writer, it's a good idea to develop good habits and use them 99% of the time. 

I think the point is that you must know what the rules are before you decide when and where to break them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Be Your Own Best Customer!

I actually felt like kind of a dork for this... even though it's basically good...

The last week and a half has been exceptionally busy, with life, work and book events.  Three of the book events I had on the coming schedule (for Monday, Wednesday & Thursday nights), were non-retail venues, i.e. not at bookstores.  On Friday and Saturday before this, I was at the Bloody Words Convention, and on Sunday I did a signing at a Chapters store. 

On Saturday the book vendor at Bloody Words sold out of my book Blood and Groom.  I had a few copies at home, so I rushed back to get them, and Don Longmuir sold all my extra copies as well. 

The book sold out - good right?!?  Yes indeed.  Except...

I can order my own book from the publisher and get a discount, but it takes a few says to get them (even though the distributor's warehouse is here in Toronto, it's wayyyyy the hell on the outskirts of the city).  And just as a rule, I always like to have a few copies of my book on hand.

I realized on Sunday morning that - Oh Crap! - even if I ordered books first thing Monday morning, I wouldn't actually receive them in time for my events on Monday,  Wednesday, and Thursday evenings.

So, on Sunday, while I was doing the bookstore signing, I bought a bunch of copies of my own book!!!  I wonder what the bookstore staff thought of this ("Hey, she's buying her own book just to boost sales... what a loser!")

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Books and Food and Clubs and Wine!

Last night I did a book 'gig' that was quite a bit different from the bookstores and libraries I've been doing over the last while.

I met  Margaret - an avid bookworm - when I was doing a store event several weeks ago.  She told me she's part of a book club, and asked if I'd be interested in being a guest some time.  Of course I said yes, and the 'some time' was last night.

What a fun evening,  and I'm so lucky to have been invited!

The soiree was potluck dinner at Margaret's home. The girls each brought a yummy a dish to share, plus there was plenty of vino... All the right ingredients for a great evening!

So, while sipping a glass of bold red wine, and eating enough delicious food to feed an army (homemade mac n' cheese, grilled asparagus, spinach and brie salad, mango crepes, etc.) , we had a great  talk about Blood and Groom, and about writing and publishing in general.

It felt so good to interact with people like this - so different from the brief encounters at retail outlets, or from the more formal and one-directional library gigs.  These women were wonderful!  They had all read the book, and had specific questions about it (which means they actually really did read it, and I certainly learned from them (male/female?!)).

It's also cool that this book club is in Toronto, which is where Blood and Groom is set.  So, I gave the girls the background gossip on the real places mentioned in the book (and on real places that I've thinly disguised).   Sasha's office really was my office long ago, and I know they all recognized the real "Chadwick's" and the real "Crystal Cove Spa"! 

We also had a great talk on how I named and developed characters (hee hee hee, especially villains), how I started - and finished - writing the novel, and what the whole first time novelist experience has been like. 

It was a fantastic evening, filled with great food, interesting and intelligent people, and I am so glad they invited me to join them!

Thanks Margaret!