Many thanks to the wonderful readers who left FIVE-STAR REVIEWS on the first three Fire-Rider stories at Amazon! You rock!!
Welp, Twitter is already paying off, in a charming way. Check out this lovely blog at WordPress, by a writer presenting herself as Rosie Amber. Unfortunately, WordPress (which has become almost as obnoxious this way as Blogger) wouldn’t let me sign in under the email address it had glommed, because it’s associated with one of the many sites I’ve established there in the past and whose password I no longer remember or have a record of.
So, SO glad to have migrated the stray provinces of the Blog Empire off WordPress.
Anyway, love that rose image, and also like the idea of reviews + author interviews. Definitely “following” this Tweeter, and bookmarking her site under “Marketing.”
Thot I was gunna die after several hours of wrestling with Amazon/Goodreads Authors this afternoon. Maybe there’s hope for alternatives to the Amazon megalith.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A client writing about his life as an expat in Mongolia directed me to Weatherford’s book. It’s an entertaining and amazing read: few Americans, I expect, know Genghis (Chinggis) as anything more than a blood-thirsty conqueror. But that’s only a tiny fraction of the story. In fact, he built a vast empire that was surprisingly tolerant of religious diversity and of women, united a wide range of Asian peoples, enhanced trade throughout Asia and Europe, built a highly efficient military organization and communication system, and left behind a dynasty that would continue the expansion of the Mongol Empire.
Weatherford’s account is a highly readable popular history that asserts the European Renaissance might not have happened without the Mongol expansion and spread of technologies such as printing, gunpowder, the blast furnace, and paper money (among others). Historian Timothy May takes issue with this claim and also points out a number of errors in fact, raising a red flag about the book’s accuracy. Yet, taken with that grain of salt, the book remains an engaging work and an eye-opening story.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This old standard has been on my bookshelves for many a year — since I was in graduate school, when we studied by gaslight. Recently I had occasion to reread it, when I was trying to advise a client about a novel he’s writing in (he hopes) high literary style.
The Art of Fiction is, as you might guess from the emphasis on the word “art,” for those who aspire to write literary fiction. In my opinion, despite Gardner’s protestations to the contrary, much of the book’s instruction can apply to genre fiction, too — good writing is good writing, no matter what the height of the brow.
Echoing his earlier collection of literary criticism, On Moral Fiction, Gardner reiterates the idea that fiction should seek to elucidate universal human values. He urges the importance of skill in building smooth and effective sentences; understanding of aesthetic theory as it applies to fiction writing; and mastery of plot, style, rhetoric, description, mood, characterization, and genre. Some of us may need to slink past Gardner’s frank advocacy of elitism, but despite that potential annoyance, the book is packed with valuable advice for anyone who wants to write prose that rises above the level of casual blogging. On this most recent reading, I found much in it to pass along to my aspiring novelist.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I came across Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl in my son’s bookcase while I was dogsitting and borrowed it because I couldn’t put it down. Not only is it engagingly written, it’s weirdly fascinating. In a chaotic world wrought by global warming, genetically modified humans known as New People are used as slaves. One of them, the “wind-up girl” Emiko, finds herself abandoned in Thailand, in danger of summary execution, and forced to humiliate herself in a sex club to survive. Having heard of a New People refuge in the north of Thailand, Emiko determines to flee there. Amid schemes for regime change, machinations of an alternative power entrepreneur, plague, and gangsters (among others), the plot grows increasingly complex. It’s a bleak, bizarre and strangely convincing world that draws you in and doesn’t let go.
If you enjoy dystopic science fiction set in the near future, this is a good choice.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I’ve never been nuts about this book. Some years ago I bought a copy. Recently, a colleague raved about it and so, having tossed out the first one, I bought a second copy.
It seems to me that about 80% of the suggestions in here are self-evident.
* Write a decent book, one with some qualities that appeal to readers.
* Use the last page of your book to urge readers to visit your website.
* Register a domain name for a series as soon as you think of it; don’t wait till someone else claims it.
* Create a presence on sites like Goodreads.
There are some good ideas here, but you have to plow through so much that is commonplace, obvious, or self-serving that you’re probably better off to learn the good stuff on your own, by trial and error.
If you’re a total newbie to marketing and publishing, buy this book. If you’ve been around the block even once, save your pennies.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A mid-career lawyer is recalled (by forces, as it develops, that transcend family obligations) to the small town where her father is dying of Alzheimer’s; she takes on a job in the local prosecutor’s office. About a half-dozen pages into the story, the plot thickens!
This is a highly entertaining fantasy story, featuring a protagonist who is a grown woman, rather than a brash young thing. As Meaghan, her family, and her friends are drawn into the bizarreness that dominates the little town, the reader is drawn in, too. Soon you’re wondering if your favorite characters are going to survive in one piece, and if so, how!
The writing is witty, lively, and engaging. A perfect novel for travel, for the bedside, or for a rainy afternoon.
Victoria Hay, Ph.D.
Slave Labor: The New Story of American Higher Education
Plain & Simple Press: An imprint of The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I own a copyediting service that does technical and scholarly editorial consulting for businesses, professional practices, academics, and nonprofits. While online “dictionaries” are OK for checking spellings and trying to figure out if some author really meant what she or he put on the page, the job requires some heavy lifting that only a hard-copy dictionary can provide.
My favorite old hardback plumb wore out (plus it was getting a bit out of date!), and so I was reduced to having to buy a new paper-and-cardboard dictionary.
This task, as it develops, is no longer a straightforward matter. In the dictionary market, as in others, the bad chases out the good. Few decent dictionaries — and by that I mean ones with comprehensive definitions and etymologies (yes, sometimes I DO need to know where a word came from) — are still in print. After much thrashing around and studying reviews, I concluded that Oxford’s is among the best of the survivors.
And content-wise, it is indeed very good. My main cavil is its format: at 8.5 x 11 inches, it’s clumsy and heavy. It needs a deep bookshelf to fit into — can’t put it on just any shelf. And you practically spavin your back hauling it out and dragging it over to your desk. Really. Why can’t we have a nice, normal-sized Merriam-Webster with adequate content?
Oh well. Overall it’s an excellent reference work. Consider finding it a permanent home on top of your desk, whence it will never have to migrate. 😉