Monday, July 25, 2011

How to read the warnings of tragedies like Norway's

A 1,500-page manifesto? Definitely a sign of madness.

Let’s face it, anyone who can write 1,500 pages on any subject has a compulsion of some sort. While freedom of expression is necessary to the overall freedom and democracy that we in the West enjoy, and that everyone deserves, I would like to suggest that anyone who writes more than a thousand pages about any single subject should receive a publicly funded psychological assessment.

Maybe there would be nothing to the work more dangerous than another Harry Potter sequel. But maybe that kind of screening would have found someone like Anders Behring Breivik before he started his killing spree.

I’m not advocating thought police or censorship, not by any measure. However, his “manifesto” was, according to the reports I’ve read, posted on the Internet. All that would be necessary in my suggested scenario would be something that flags the volume of content, not the actual content, itself. I have not read it, so I will not make a comment on the content.

But 1,500 pages is, as I said, obviously indicative of obsession. Flagging something that long and, in a caring, non-judgemental way, assessing the author, might solve problems before they become tragedies.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Next book review: Night Runner

I thought I'd post this review of a book by an author who lives in my city. He's Max Turner, a high school teacher turned writer. I found his first book when I asked my local bookstore for local writers.

I have posted this review on Goodreads and Shelfari—I'm trying hard to get on top of this social media stuff, but there's so much!

Overall, I liked the book. It's a good, easy read, just right for younger readers. But I'll let the computer do my repeating myself for me:

Night Runner (Night Runner, #1)Night Runner by Max  Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story added something new to the vampire genre: a vampire who does not know he is one. Zack Thompson is a teenage boy who has been living in a mental ward for years and wakes only at night, and eats only special strawberry smoothies. He's happy and has a friend who works around his schedule to visit him.
Everything changes when a strange man crashes a motorcycle into the mental hospital's lobby, and soon after that, Zack's long-lost uncle arrives.
There are lots of plot twists, but no plot holes. The pacing is fast, the style clean and the characters believable——except perhaps for Uncle Max. He's a bit of a stock character.
I recommend this story for middle-school and high school readers.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 08, 2011

You should read this book review

When it comes to social networking, I far prefer LinkedIn to Facebook. I find LinkedIn's interface far more intuitive—actually, whenever I try to use Facebook or add something to my own page, I feel like I'm lost and blindfolded, trying to find my way around by feel.

Amanda Rooker's review of a novel by Richard Sanders shows the intersection and mutual reinforcement of LinkedIn and the e-book phenomenon. She describes how she found out about the book not through Amazon or any book promotion vehicle, but through other links that she found interesting on LinkedIn.

On its own merits, Amanda's review is one of the best book reviews I have ever read. Without revealing much of the plot, I really got an understanding of her reaction to the story. I am also intrigued enough to actually buy the book.

And that says a lot about how the e-book publishing phenomenon is working. Read it over. And Amanda, if you're reading this, please add to your blog with more reviews!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Getting closer to publishing

I've been receiving some excellent feedback from professional writers, editors and publishers who have looked at my manuscript, The Bones of the Earth. It's very encouraging.

I thought that my book was good, but it's heartening to hear that comment from others.

I have to admit, I did get discouraged earlier this year when I sent sample chapters to agents and publishers. I got turned down flat—not an uncommon experience for new authors. (Although I have been published many times over the last two decades, as a journalist, though, not an author of fiction.)

 But it seemed that publishers and agents turned down the manuscript without even looking at it. Maybe I undersold it, or mis-sold it, or just failed in the description. And the book is not like others on the shelves today. Maybe the concept is just too difficult for most publishers today.

I actually had one publisher balk at the names of the characters—he just did not like the sound of them! The names are all historical, by the way. People had those names, and today, there are still people with names like "Hrech" and "Vorona."

All that to say, I'm getting closer to just biting the bullet and publishing this book as an independent writer. Watch this space for updates.