Tag Archives: critical review

EVEN GREAT AUTHORS GET DECKED


Dave, an acquaintance, shared an article with me that made me giggle. It seems even authors that time and academia have deemed “classic” or “noteworthy” get creamed by critics from time to time. In the universe of literature, no one is exempt from a scathing rebuke.

Feeling glum because someone dissed your work? Read this. You’ll feel better. You may still have to re-write, but you will feel as if you are in good company.

The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History

[Editor’s note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we’re revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published June 19, 2011.] Sigh. Authors just don’t insult each other like they used to. Sure, Martin Amis raised some eyebrows when he claimed he would need brain damage to write children’s books, and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan made waves when she disparaged the work that someone had plagiarized, but those kinds of accidental, lukewarm zingers are nothing when compared to the sick burns of yore. It stands to reason, of course, that writers would be able to come up with some of the best insults around, given their natural affinity for a certain turn of phrase and all. And it also makes sense that the people they would choose to unleash their verbal battle-axes upon would be each other, since watching someone doing the same thing you’re doing — only badly — is one of the most frustrating feelings we know. So we forgive our dear authors for their spite. Plus, their insults are just so fun to read. Click through for our countdown of the thirty harshest author-on-author burns in history, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments!

For the complete article, go here:

http://flavorwire.com/188138/the-30-harshest-author-on-author-insults-in-history/view-all

New Author Education from Lauren Carr


Lauren Carr, top-selling mystery author, has a new book in the works: Authors in Bathrobes. It is a down-to-earth tutorial for the new author. It will be  available before Christmas on Amazon.

I want to share an excerpt from her book that describes where I am in the publishing process. It is an educational eye-opener for the new author who has a publication-ready manuscript and wants to know what comes next.

ARC: Advanced Review Copy

When you traditionally publish, approximately three to four months before a book is released, the publisher will send out advanced copies of books to publications, reviewers, or even celebrities. Authors will sometimes offer ARC’s as giveaways or prizes for fans.

The purpose of this advanced release of the book is two-fold:

The reviewers are able to read the book and provide reviews, which will come out at the same time as the release. This is how big-named books by major authors have hundreds of reviews posted, sometimes even before the book is released. Big publishers will send out hundreds (sometimes thousands) of ARC’s, also called Uncorrected Proofs, to get the publicity ball rolling. The reviewers know that they are reading a proof, so they are forgiving of typos and errors.

Meanwhile, the author is reviewing the book for any last-minute errors he or she may catch.

Because I am a new author and do not have a staff of editors to do the work of editing for me, I am s-l-o-w about getting my changes made. I grossly underestimated the time it would take to proof and correct my book manuscript.

Lauren’s book will help you avoid lots of mistakes that beginners make. Watch for it. It is coming soon!

 

Hair Flying Over Hagerstown


This weekend is my time to read the critiques of the Beta readers.  If you hear weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth or if you see hair flying over the rooftops of Hagerstown, you will know that I have become a mad woman as I try to figure out how to get the last re-write done in time for publication this month. A September release may not be possible. Yet, I will give it my best effort.

Good thing I got that head shot taken before I pulled all my hair out. Not to mention the dark circles under my eyes from pulling all-nighters trying to meet deadlines. I don’t bounce back like I used to. It may take me a month to look human again.

I better make sure someone is doing a buddy check on me to make sure I haven’t passed out from dehydration or sleep deprivation. Face flat on the floor, tongue hanging out,  random wisps of mad-scientist hair still clinging to my now-bald pate–isn’t that a scary sight?? Yeah, I’m glad I got that photo taken!

Marketing My Novel, Step 2


I hadn’t anticipated writing about this topic under marketing my novel. On reflection, I think it is where it belongs. It is about making mistakes and learning from them BEFORE the book goes on sale. I said I would share my mistakes, so you can avoid making the same ones. Here goes.

Today I had a discussion with one of my editors. He is a perfectionist, which is why I like him reading my stuff. He kicks my ass when I make mistakes. He makes me a better writer.

The conversation today went something like this:

“I have a couple of thoughts about the manuscript. First, I want to tell you it is difficult to keep track of the story when you send me only a chapter at a time. ”

“The re-write process is taking longer than I anticipated. I feel less guilty if I give you something.”

“Oh, you are re-writing before it gets to me?”

Oh-oh, I think. This sounds ominous.

“Yes, that’s why you aren’t finding a lot of mistakes. You aren’t returning pages to me with many marks. I’ve already edited the chapter during the re-write.”

“Like I said, it’s a long time between chapters, so I am having trouble retaining the story line between edits. I read so much in between your chapters. I want to mention a suggestion to you. I have to think about it in my own writing.  It’s how a writer introduces backstory. The chapter I just read has a lot of backstory. I can’t remember what happened in your earlier chapters.”

More discussion follows on the skill of integrating backstory into the actual plot.

“Yes, I understand what you are saying. I just read an article about Sue Grafton. The article described her mastery of mixing backstory directly into the storytelling. I will make a point to read one of her novels solely to study that technique, so I can improve my skill. I know of a different writer who warns authors who use “data dump” to tell the backstory that they are boring their readers. So I understand what you are telling me; I need to be careful about loads of background weighing down the pace of the story.”

“In my novel, chapter one starts the story. Chapter two goes to backstory. In chapter three, I go right back to the story line.”

“Are you telling me I’ve used too much backstory?”

“I am saying ‘maybe’ because I can’t remember the detail of your earlier chapters. I know this chapter had a lot of backstory.”

There are two lessons here for you and your work.

First, think about how you tell backstory. Don’t bury your reader in it. I’ll have to look at my manuscript, once all the editing is complete, for how I have handled the history of the characters. I may have to re-order chapters to avoid too much in one night’s reading. My nightmare would be having to re-write the story to fix the problem.

Second, give your editor the entire manuscript–or at least a big chunk of it–at once, not a chapter at a time as I did. It handicaps the person who is trying to help you improve your work. My editor reads so much other material between my chapters that he can’t recall the flow or detail of my work. He’s limited to remarking on each chapter as a stand-alone piece.

I was planning to finish another chapter this weekend to hand over to the editor. I will hold it now until I have several chapters ready to be edited. At least that way he will be better able to critique the flow of my story, whether I have loose ends dangling, and the like. The upside to handing over the whole thing is I get a better editorial commentary on the novel. The downside is there may be many more editorial notes about corrections I need to make.

But, wait, that’s an upside, too.

George Johnson and a Baseball Tale


Congratulations, George!

George Johnson is a member of Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe, the writers group to which I belong. He recently released his first novel Acre. I’ve excerpted part of a review from HuntingtonNews.Net. Let’s read it and see what WE can learn to improve our own writing:

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Acre’: A Fable About a Baseball Player Who Seems Too Good to be True

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 – 18:10Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
 BOOK REVIEW: 'Acre': A Fable About a Baseball Player Who Seems Too Good to be True

George Johnson’s “Acre” (Acorn Book Services, trade paperback/available as a Kindle eBook, 288 pages, $15.00, available from Amazon.com, Powell’s books, Barnes and Noble and other online book sources) is about a baseball player who seems too good to be true, playing in a time when $35,000 a year was a good salary.

Growing up in Delaney, Utah in the 1940s and early 1950s, Acre Thomas Tulley knows he’s destined to play major league baseball, specifically for the Kansas City Royals. But since this is a fantasy — it has to be! — It’s an alternate universe Kansas City Royals. I didn’t think the Royals were around in the 1950s, when a $35,000 yearly salary was considered excellent. I turned to the trusty Google and Wikipedia — two wonders that didn’t exist when Acre was practicing hitting in the batting cage his father built for him — and learned that the K.C. Royals were a 1969 expansion team in the American League, along with the Seattle Pilots.

But since this is fiction, just let the words flow and enjoy this tale of a remarkable young man, who, after he joins the team on a year-to-year basis, decides he’s going to play for ten years, then marry Willa, his sweetheart, and attend Utah University. Does Acre Tulley keep to his plan, despite the Gold Gloves, the All-Star Game appearances as a second baseman, the adulation, and the money? Management at the Royals wishes Tulley would play forever: He’s a seat filler and fan favorite and a .400-plus hitter.

I’m not going to give away the plot points, other than to say to know Acre is to love him. He devotes time to visit terminally ill young people in hospitals, including an admirer named Homer Dweed (get used to weird names, the book is full of them!), a cancer patient at Children’s Hospital. Acre Tulley is paying for Homer’s treatment in an arrangement that Homer’s single mom doesn’t know about. Did I say he’s too good to be true! The scenes where Acre and Willa visit Homer are guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes.

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll love this book, especially as the All-Star Game nears. If you’re not, you’re in luck because Johnson provides a glossary of terms. . .

Acre. . . may remind you of Bernard Malamud’s 1952 baseball novel (and the excellent Barry Levinson film version) “The Natural.”

About the Author
George Johnson is a retired elementary school teacher from Prince George’s County, Maryland. He thought about “Acre” for two years before he finally put it in writing. Then it took him three years, off and on, to complete it and put it in print. Being a late starter, George completed his second book of fiction called Timber. Acre and Timber are brother and sister. Timber took him two years to complete. At the present time he is putting together a collection of short stories he has compiled over the years. George lives in Hagerstown, Maryland with Sharon, his wife of fifty-four years.

Notice the criticisms:

First, the reviewer says George’s character Acre is too good to be true. I was privy to criticism George received from Acorn Book Services before the book was published.  The publisher made the same observation. The author chose to keep Acre as he is. That is the writer’s prerogative. That choice did not escape notice by the reviewer.

Second, the reviewer catches factual errors in George’s novel. The baseball team George writes about did not exist in the year George sets his story. Oopsie! The lesson for authors–check your facts. Do your research. Or get caught, as George did, with your pants down.

These lessons aside, the reviewer liked the characters and the story. That’s a tremendous achievement for an author’s first novel. George deserves a pat on the back. May I be as fortunate when my first novel hits the critic’s desk.