books, writing

A New Chapter

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I signed the contract.

My book, “Sara When She Chooses,” will be published.

The process begins and I’m a sponge eager to absorb every step, because this! this! is what I’ve been hoping, dreaming, working toward.

It’s a strange sensation; a combination panic and anticipation. I really want to work. My literary energy is foaming and fomenting. At the same time, I want the luxury of staring at each step and memorizing it, wallowing in it. I’ve had years of rejections and have learned to appreciate them as sometimes inspirational, sometimes instructional, but mostly as proof to myself that I don’t give up. I’m proud of my incessant head-banging on publishers’ doors.

One of the most important lessons I learned was that sometimes the work is rejected because it’s not done. Revisit. Revise. Don’t be afraid to cut and abandon. You created this thing. It lives inside you. Nothing you do to it on paper will destroy the source from which it came.

You’ve got more in you.

In my own journey, I’ve been asked to submit a brief bio and photo…(visions arise of the nod to the writer contained on the back flap of most dust covers, or the last page of most paperbacks).

I’ve been asked to think about what I’d like to see in the way of cover art. This engendered an internet foray, shamelessly pirating images to try and convey my ideas to the publisher’s illustrator.

I realize I’m about words, but not pictures.

Then came the marketing questionnaire. A weighty list of queries delving into hitherto unexplored areas. What bookstores and radio and TV stations are in my locale? What questions would a reading group enjoy exploring in relation to my book? How would I describe my work to someone interested in buying it?

I realize I’m about words, but not salesmanship.

I begin to realize how much I need the expertise embodied in the publishers, Bedazzled Ink and its subsidiaries.

For a moment, my brain…shifts. This is real.

My life is in the hands of my publishers and then, if all goes well, in the minds of my readers.

It’s a feeling unlike any other. I won’t be the same person at the end of this process. I’m kind of scared.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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books, writing

Oh, Simile, Dear Simile…

blogsimile1Consider the simile.

The simile can be a thing of beauty. It can strike a respondent chord in its audience, both illuminating and inspiring. Used to effect, the simile is like a grace note, adding a touch of richness and life to the overall musical score.

I’m a big fan of the simile, so it cuts me to the quick when I find it wantonly abused. This doesn’t happen often, because most writers have an innate simile-sense. They can test and taste and savor and know when they’ve hit the proper target; when the chemistry is compatible; when the simile zings and flies.

But some writers feel obligated to overreach the simile’s simple purpose. They imagine themselves dazzling the reader with hitherto unperceived comparisons that melt away boundaries and elevate communication to a newer, higher art.

More power to them, because, usually, they fail. They become so entranced with their own words and labored imagery that they force the simile into place with all the finesse of a jackhammer. Such was the case in a book I only today finished reading. The author was working in a decidedly Gothic arena, but was flitting between two disparate timelines. It was ambitious; not totally successful, but palatable. Or would have been except for her slavish inability to write more than a few sentences without feeling the need to bolster her efforts with a simile.

An awful, inappropriate, misguided simile.

For instance: “Momma [was] buried beneath the soil like a broken butter dish.”

Eh? Am I the only one who hasn’t embraced the practice of consigning ruined crockery to the ground? Who takes a broken plate or bent fork out to the back yard and digs it a grave?

Strike one.

And then, at the apex of a particularly emotional scene wherein the heroine realizes her family secret: “…the disparate parts are coming together like bits of a space station locking soundlessly in airless black…”

What the…? Remember, this is a tale written in a very Gothic atmosphere. The space-age imagery was so jarring, it became comedic for me. Instead of aligning myself with the heroine and participating in her turmoil, I was laughing at the writer’s strained effort.

Strike two.

And finally: “…the past dropped over her like a lobster pot…”

That did it. My chuckle became a guffaw. I suppose I could have googled ‘lobster pot’ and tried to discern where this simile was meant to take me, but by then…

…Strike three.

I considered the book a lost cause.

In retrospect, it reminded me of Brechtian theatre where actors suddenly address the audience, make eye contact and explain, the purpose being to snap everyone out of being passive observers and jolt them into a different level of thought and participation. But this wasn’t live theatre. It was a book; a book rife with similes that grasped and labored and went off-track with tedious, and then comic regularity.

So, please, let’s all try to respect the simile. Don’t force it. It’s a marvelous tool that should strike a respondent chord…not one’s funny bone. At least, not in most instances.

And now, I move onward…like a dog scooting its rear across a newly waxed floor…

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books, Just bitchin'

Literary Candy

blogtaste1Inclement weather is a bookworm’s friend.

We have an excuse to stay indoors, pull the ‘Welcome’ mat in after us, and immerse ourselves in the printed word to an extent that would make us feel guilty on a bright, sunny day. I began my annual literary hibernation over the nice, long, stormy Thanksgiving weekend.

I was looking for a holiday read. You know… the kind of thing that will be a mild diversion and can be consumed with ease, or, alternatively, be abandoned without remorse at holiday’s end. The kind of book called ‘fluff’ or ‘inconsequential’ or ‘brain-candy.’

I also wanted something more, shall we say…meaty.

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I selected two novels. One was authored by a Pulitzer Prize winner. The other was a joint effort by two women whose steady day-jobs are in the fashion industry. You can probably guess which was ‘fluff’ and which was ‘meaty.’

But the read was totally unexpected.

I opened the Pulitzer’s offering to be greeted by a two-page family tree. Dozens of names, some of which were only mentioned in passing throughout the course of the long, long story. I had to bookmark this reference tool and return to it every few pages, working out the relationships of characters that drifted in and out.

It was well-written. It was richly written. The gamut of characters and dialogue and situations and eras was beautifully done. Yet I felt unsatisfied at the end. It required effort to read, but for me the finely detailed portraits didn’t go anywhere. It was masterful, but it didn’t touch me.

It was a Rembrandt painting hanging behind velvet ropes. I could appreciate it, but, having looked my fill, I moved on.

Then there was the brain-candy book.

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I couldn’t put it down.

It accompanied me everywhere so I could devour a few pages at every opportunity: stop lights…lines at the post office…lines at the store…waiting rooms…

It contained grammatical errors. It was completely predictable. It’s characters were thinly-drawn. But it was riveting, because it left enough blank spaces for me to fill in myself and realize I knew these people!! Everyone knows these people! And I know these situations!! Everyone does!!

It was thoroughly enjoyable and when I finished it, I was sad there wasn’t a sequel. I also wondered how many agents would choose the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s work over the crowd-pleasing fluff, if they didn’t know the author’s background and the impressive accolades she’d won with previous work.

It’s a puzzle. It’s also a statement about art.

I’m grateful that Rembrandts exist and are available, but a cartoon can speak volumes, too.

So, hats-off to the majority of writers who will never pen the Great American Novel. But their less-exalted work will touch our souls.

And sometimes you just gotta have candy.

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books

Fae Anthology Cover Reveal

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Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. Fae is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies and modern midwifing; from the Old World to present day Indianapolis.

Enjoy the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale tinged with urban fantasy, and horror with a fae twist.

Follow the link…step into the fairy ring, if you dare…for a chance to win a copy of Fae.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/92441-fae

Edited by Rhonda Parrish

Release date: July 22, 2014 (ebook and paperback)

 

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books

A is for Apocalypse Cover Reveal

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How do you think the world will end? Worth worrying about?

I’ve long said that worry is the misuse of imagination. Here’s what proves me wrong: a collection of stories that turns dread into art, springing from the imaginations of 26 talented writers.

These select writers are being assigned letters of the alphabet, then given complete artistic freedom within a chosen theme. We begin at the beginning…a very good place to start…

 A is for Apocalypse

 A is for Apocalypse contains twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war–the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what others have to say:

“In A is for Apocalypse, the world ends in both fire and ice–and by asteroid, flood, virus, symphony, immortality, the hands of our vampire overlords, and crowdfunding. A stellar group of authors explores over two dozen of the bangs and whispers that might someday take us all out. Often bleak, sometimes hopeful, always thoughtful, if A is for Apocalypse is as prescient as it is entertaining, we’re in for quite a ride.” – Amanda C. Davis, author of The Lair of the Twelve Princesses

“Editor Rhonda Parrish gives us apocalyptic fiction at its finest. There’s not a whimper to be heard amongst these twenty-six End of the World stories. A wonderful collection.” -Deborah Walker, Nature Futures author.

Intrigued? Then get on the mailing list below for info as the launch, the apocalypse, approaches.

Win a free copy! Go to editor Rhonda Parrish’s blog and enter to win an ARC copy of A is for Apocalypse!

A is for Apocalypse
Edited by Rhonda Parrish
Poise and Pen Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0993699016
ISBN-10: 0993699014
Cover Designed by Jonathan Parrish

Links:

Editor: http://www.rhondaparrish.com
A is for Apocalypse on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21944844-a-is-for-apocalypse
A is for Apocalypse Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/TzDN9

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