Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on becoming a writer

Neil Gaiman

Gaiman offers these tips on his Tumblr post.  “Write the thoughts down.  If they are going to be stories, try to tell the stories you would like to read.  Finish the things you start to write.”

If you don’t agree with this, he has some other imaginative ideas to help you here.

This is worth a read, if only to show you how creative this guy can be.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No ABNA Contest this Year!

This is really a bummer and very disappointing news.  Nothing will last forever, as they say.  I guess after six years, Amazon’s decided to try something new this year.  I don’t expect this new venture to be as popular, but time will tell.

Amazon introduced Kindle Scout back in September 2014.  This year any contest will be in collaboration with this new addition to Amazon.  This is a limited program as there are only three genres accepted for submission at this time and no one living outside the US can participate.  Perhaps Amazon is trying this out as a pilot program.  I’m hoping they may revamp the ABNA and bring it back, as it was the most extensive free writing contest out there.

Another difference between ABNA and Kindle Scout is that there will not be a long drawn out process starting with a well written pitch to advance authors to the next round where actual excerpts would be read.  You might have a killer book, but if you weren’t a master at the pitch you were given the boot out of the contest and your work never read.  In a way this wasn’t exactly fair, but it was how they wanted to run the contest after the first couple of years of its existence.

In my opinion, Kindle Scout is unfair in another way.  There are no pitches to get you booted this time, but if you don’t have superb marketing skills you’ll be out, perhaps leaving a good book on the table.  Of course, the upside to this is that you can self-publish it after your thirty days are up.

With Kindle Scout, manuscripts are submitted and then it’s up to the writer to garner votes for their submission anyway they can get them.  I think, in many cases; this will result in the book never being read at all.  In the end, the book with the most votes will win the publishing contract.  In my mind, this is almost worse than the way the ABNA contest was run.

But you have to look at things from Amazon’s point of view.  The ABNA contest lasted six months and it was probably a lot of work to coordinate through each round.  Big advances were awarded to the winners and perhaps the books never lived up to Amazon’s expectations.

With Kindle Scout, the advances are very small in comparison.  This contest is also an ongoing thing, so nothing to look forward to like the ABNA in magnitude and dynamics.  Writers can submit their work for consideration anytime throughout the year.  Another difference is that all books submitted have to be polished, professionally edited, have a cover, and be ready to publish.

So much has changed.  What I’ll miss is the camaraderie all the ABNA entrants shared.  Everyone was willing to help others polish their pitches and give advice on writing questions.  The contestants became like a family group.  This was a wonderful thing.  Everyone had fun while they waited for the next round to be announced and they also learned something at the same time.  You can’t beat that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review for Endangered by CJ Box

This is a mystery with a western flair.  
4 stars

It took me a few pages to get into this novel, but after that it was quite interesting.  I read few books using the west as a setting.

The main character is Joe Pickett, a game warden and family man in Wyoming.  The story starts out with Mr. Pickett finding a field full of dead sage grouse, an endangered species.  There’s a snow storm coming and he doesn’t have time to go back there and collect the evidence of who committed the crime because he gets called away.

The call is for a girl found beaten in a ditch.  She ends up being one of his daughters, the one who ran off with a rodeo cowboy he doesn’t like.  Immediately Joe suspects the cowboy, Dallas Cates, of the crime.  But supposedly he’s laid up in bed from injuries he sustained at the Houston rodeo.

His daughter, April, spends much of the book in the hospital while Joe chases down leads and investigates the crime along with trying to catch the poachers of the sage grouse.  It seemed as if he became obsessed over finding out who beat up his daughter, leaving no stone unturned, and finding the poachers of the sage grouse taking second place.  This is because Joe is a kind, ordinary guy who loves his family deeply.  Whoever beat his daughter and left her for dead would pay the price, if he had his say about it.

Joe Pickett’s investigation leads him to a crazy family living outside of town.  They are criminals that don’t think anything about taking the law into their own hands.  These characters are interesting, to say the least.  I really liked these creeps and could picture all the action taking place around them.  Nice description, well done.

Nate Romanowski makes a brief appearance.  He’s a falconer and a good friend of Joe’s, which seems strange because Nate often works outside the law.  Joe takes his job as game warden seriously.  He believes in upholding the law.  I’d like to find out more about this character, Nate, so I may search his other books to see which ones he plays a bigger role in.  I wasn’t aware this book was part of a series because it reads like a stand-alone novel.

There’s a lot going on in this book and the author keeps you guessing who the bad guy may be through some twists and turns in the story.

Over all, this was a worthwhile read.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Working hard on my book

There’s nothing new to report here because I’m writing, writing, writing.  So today I’m posting some nice quotes.