Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My first e-book review: Anabar's Run by Will Grainger

Anabar’s Run by Will Grainger

This is my first review of an e-book. I was guided to it by the author, whom I met on LinkedIn. That points to the need for independent writers to promote their work.

I liked Anabar’s Run: it has a simple, very clear style well suited to younger readers, particularly boys. It evokes the style of grade-school readers: simple words, mostly short sentences and a straightforwardness that paints vivid pictures.

This rite-of-passage story is a metaphor for the journey every boy has to make into manhood. That in itself is refreshing—the majority of new commercial fiction seems to be aimed solely at preteen girls. Is the publishing industry now so sexist that it believes young men do not read?

What I liked:
Anabar’s Run opens like a fairy tale, with a description of Anabar’s home: a beautiful, fertile valley, isolated and therefore protected from the rest of the world. It’s simultaneously familiar and foreign—character names like Tom and Ralph make it seem homey, while the fantasy element is brought in with names like Pompor and the names of the two countries on whose border the valley is set: Semdela and Ricamerath. The time is pre-industrial: weapons are swords and knives, travel is done on horse.

Anabar is sixteen, on the brink of manhood, an orphan raised by his two neighbours, the pompous Pompor and the simple Tom. These two are deftly drawn. With little description, the author has created believable characters.

Anabar begins to explore beyond the boundaries of his world, but on his first foray outside the valley, he meets two dangerous men and barely escapes—again, something that every man can identify with. He returns home with a few injuries, but the outside world in the form of a mysterious scout named Omalof has noticed him. Omalof follows Anabar home and presents him an opportunity: become a Scout like him. However, it will require tough training and several tests.

The plot proceeds quickly with increasingly difficult challenges. Anabar meets more people and enters a town for the first him in his life. His reactions and inner dialogue are very clear and believable, and he shows himself to be an admirable person.

It’s really only half a story. The author explains that he wrote a long novel and decided to break it at a logical point into two shortish novels. This makes each book seem less daunting, but it feels like there should be more. Yes, it’s smart for a writer to make the reader want the sequel, but it feels a little like I’ve been short-changed.

The only other problem is that it needs a good, independent copy-edit and proofread. There are a number of typos, missing words and punctuation—nothing that interferes with reading the story, but it does show that every writer needs an editor. (On May 25, author Will Grainger posted on his blog that he is correcting the novel as much as he can.)

So, I’m giving this story 4 out of 5, and I’m going to read the sequel, Anabar Rises.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping up with the Web

I’ve been exploring the world of e-book publishing sites, and while there is a lot of interesting information, one question keeps coming to me: where do these people find the time to write?

There are people who participate regularly in online authors’ forums and discussions on networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. They also write blogs, and update their own Facebook, Twitter and Web pages. They also review books and interview the authors.

Apparently, if you want to be a successful writer, self-published or published by a major company, you need to do all this to promote awareness and sales of your work.

At the same time, they manage to write and publish their work. So, where do they find the time for all this?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An interesting word: Fuliginous

Yesterday, a client used a word that I had never seen before—and that does not happen often: “fuliginous.”

She was using the word to describe a successful conference, as in “a raging success.”

To be fair, English was not the author’s first language, although she speaks fluently. And it was a challenging assignment: she was trying to write a wrap-up press release for an even that hasn’t happened, yet. As a Scouting leader, I cannot fault her for trying to be prepared.

In case your dictionary is beyond your fingertips right now, the Canadian Oxford defines “fuliginous” as “sooty, dusky,” derived from the Latin word for soot, “fuligo.”

How did the client get from “raging” to “sooty”? It turns out she was using an online translation tool. She wanted to describe something as “a raging success,” and the software gave her “fuliginous.”

There’s really no automating the editor, is there?