Monthly Archives: January 2017

No author is an island …

Some very sound advice from Susan Toy, a great supporter of Indie authors.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

I finished reading a book on marketing that, while good, worthwhile, and filled with lots of ideas and information (much of which I already use) to get your book out there and selling, it fell short, in my estimation.

Yes, it discussed the importance of building a fan base and giving fans what they want, and it also suggested one way of developing your career as being to call on others more experienced in your field and essentially “use” them and their influence to get ahead (something I didn’t particularly agree with).

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But where the book fell short was in not once mentioning the importance of “promoting the writing and books of other authors” or in working with other authors to create a community in which all can thrive. Authors who read and follow the advice in this book will come out looking like lone wolves grasping after sales alone…

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Review Wednesday – The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey

img_1971If anyone had told me that one of my first reads of 2017 would be a Zombie novel I would have said, ‘Nah! You’ve got to be joking!’

So how come?

The truth is I went into this book having read one two-line review and the blurb. I was just looking for something ‘different’ and that is exactly what I got.

It starts with Melanie, a young girl, in her cell. She is strapped into a wheelchair every day and taken to her class for lessons by Miss Justineu. We don’t know why she is being held but the routine is clearly draconian. Then we discover Melanie and the other children have a once -a-week shower and are fed on bowls of maggots. Something is very wrong.

What follows is a story with a lot of very human qualities. Not only is Miss Justineu very concerned for the wellbeing of her charges, especially Melanie, but Melanie cares deeply for her. Questions of ‘the future’ begin to arise; after all the children are research subjects and some of the children seem to be taken away and never come back. Then the ‘base’ is attacked and a small group including Melanie and Miss Justineu are thrust out into a nightmare world of Hungries and Junkers.

I loved that this book was not just a scenario of Us against Them. The little group fighting for survival have problems within their ranks as well as without but the relationships and moral dilemmas seemed real.

The author does a great job of describing the cause and progression of the ‘outbreak’ and whilst the ending was probably the only one that could have worked I loved that there was no cop-out at the end of a very original story and that the conclusion was as it should be.

 

Review Wednesday – The Girl Before by J P Delaney

img_1970It’s always great to read an intriguing premise, one that tells you that you have to read this book and that was how I felt when I first read the blurb for The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney.

A perfect house built by an architect who will accept nothing short of perfection, or at least his version of it. The house is available to rent but not just to anyone with the cash ( and this house is a bargain), applicants must fill in a lengthy questionnaire and be approved personally by the owner/designer Edward Monkford. And it doesn’t stop there, rules (over 200 of them) must be adhered to; no clutter, no pets, no children, very few possessions. The list goes on.

This concept sets up the initial intrigue of the story. Why would anyone agree to live under such rigid conditions? But then, Edward is an unusual and intriguing man and Jane, the latest applicant has fallen under his spell as well as that of the beautiful, minimalist house.

The story is told from two points of view and in two time-frames. As Jane moves into One Folgate Street and learns more about Edward, whose wife and son tragically died, she also begins to learn something about a former tenant, Emma. So the action Goes back and forth and we see the house with Emma and boyfriend Simon in occupancy and with Jane.

As jane delves deeper into Emma’s life (and death) it becomes apparent that there are a lot of parallels between the two women. What really happened to Emma and, Jane wonders increasingly, was Edward responsible?

The story is complex. Both women have relationships with the Ice-cold Edward, both have suffered some trauma in their past. At some point I felt that the author introduced too many angles and that maybe the creepiness of the perfect house and it’s strange owner were in danger of becoming swamped by a whole gamut of other findings and revelations that made it hard to like any of the characters.

However, the book is certainly a page turner. The narrative flows easily and the short, sharp changes in viewpoint made it a fast and satisfying read. I would usually say that I love a convoluted plot with many twists and turns but, in this case, just for once, maybe a little less would have been more, just as with the house that features so prominently in the story.

Edit, Edit or Edit?

A very clear and useful breakdown of editing in all its forms – thanks to WriteYourFirstNovel

Writing your first novel-Things you should know

Well that is true, but it’s only one type of editing, and there are three different types listed in the article. The article also noted that a novel length manuscript needed to go through all three types before it was submission ready.

Developmental Edit – better known as the content editing, story editing, structural editing or substantive editing. This edit looks at the big picture of your novel and focuses on

  • character arcs/development
  • pacing
  • story structure
  • pot holes or inconsistencies
  • strong beginning, middle and end
  • plausibility/believability
  • clear transitions
  • point of view
  • showing vs. telling
  • dialogue

Copy Edit – copy editing is the one most of us think of when we hear editor. He comes on…

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Wednesday Review – Cast Iron by Peter May

img_1969*Many thanks go to Quercus books and Netgalley for an advanced review copy of this book*

The ‘Cast Iron’ of the title refers to the term often used for an alibi when it is deemed to be beyond question. But can an alibi ever be considered so, until the case is solved?

Enzo Macleaod, forensic expert, has been involved in a bet to unravel the details of a series of cold cases that have thus far baffled investigators. The sixth case is the mystery of what happened to young Lucie Martin, who goes missing from her home one evening, her remains discovered some years later, after a long, hot summer, in the bottom of a dried up lake. The modus operandi indicates the work of a killer already behind bars but he denies involvement.

In the course of the investigation to try to identify Lucie’s killer, Enzo soon realises that there is more than one person who would prefer that  the truth never come out. His life is in danger and his family are at risk.

In the past couple of years I have read and reviewed several books by Peter May. I thought I knew his style but found this book, set in France, a little different and, to be honest, a little difficult, at first. Enzo’s complex family life had probably developed over the previous books and so, coming new to the series I found myself backtracking at first to keep the threads of his convoluted relationships clear in my mind. However, the story is a good one, well worth the effort and the investigation a solid standalone that requires no previous knowledge.

For me at least, endings are so often a bit of a let-down even after a very enjoyable rest-of-the-book, so I would also say bravo to Peter May for bringing the elements together in an ending that did not rely on sheer luck or a happy coincidence or a massive and unbelievable hunch. The twist that brings the main characters together in the crucial scene did not disappoint and left a very satisfying aftertaste to an enjoyable read.