Category Archives: publishing

Wanting what’s forbidden

I am so looking forward to reading Forbidden, the purported first book in a trilogy, written by Tosca Lee and Ted Dekker.

What I know, in short:
• Being published by Hachette.
• Pub date: Fall 2011
• Dekker has said it will rival the scope and impact of his Circle Series.
• Dekker’s lively Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/teddekker.
Lee‘s on Twitter, @ToscaLee.

From the press release:

“In Forbidden, a novel the authors describe as “a thriller for tomorrow,” the world as we know it is almost unrecognizable. Four hundred eighty years have passed since civilization’s brush with extinction. Now, perfect order reigns and humanity’s greatest threats have all been silenced under the rule of a totalitarian government. There is no disease, no malice, no hate, no war. There is only peace until the day one man discovers the truth: Every single soul walking the earth is actually dead and the human heart has been stripped of all that makes it human. Now only he is alive and has the knowledge that can once again awaken humanity.”

Ahh, it sounds so good!!!!!! I can’t wait to read this! I can’t force myself to believe it’s more than a year until this is available!

What are you looking forward to?

P.S. You like my word play in the post title?

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Christian books

I have a love-hate relationship with Christian fiction.

I read tons of Christian fiction when I was growing up, but I also read tons of general fiction, from both the children’s and general collections at my local library. I grew up, as it were, on Janette Oke and the like — this is what was available. But even as a tween I grew tired of these books.

For many years I abstained from reading Christian fiction, because most of it (that I picked up, anyway) fit this mold of overwrought, very predictable, very safe, very *very*. Everything tied up with a bow. Everything concluded. No mystery, no room for wonder or doubt.

I still go to Christian fiction when I want a safe read.

In the past couple years, though, my frustration with what is Christian fiction has only grown. Sure, I’ve found a few authors I respect and whose works I want to devour. River Jordan springs to mind, and I’ve only read one of her books!

One more example of greatness: Wounded: A Love Story by Claudia Mair Burney.

But what I’ve more largely found is that the books I want to find, to read — that I’ll love — are really hard to find. I want books that deal with faith, but books in which nothing is a foregone conclusion. Books that challenge me, books that expand my world rather than shrink it. The only place I’ve reliably found these books, so far, is the Image Journal list. Which is why I’ve made it my aim to read all the books on the list. And in most cases, I hope to read much more broadly of each author listed. But this list only contains books published in the 1900s. Many of the authors listed therein are dead, not writing new books. So where do I go to consistently find books like this being published now?

Christian fiction *could* be the place for these books. Right now it’s not, though. And maybe it shouldn’t be. But that’s a discussion for another day.

For now, though, I guess I’ll keep on ‘kissing a lot of frogs …’ to find the great books.

NOTE: I was inspired to get these thoughts down, and published, by My Friend Amy’s post Christian Fiction: What Is Going On? It’s excellent. You should read it. It’s probably more useful, more productive, than this one.

Only Milo by Barry Smith

only miloOnly Milo by Barry Smith (Inkwater Press, September 1, 2009), 272 pages

Milo is an aspiring author with rejected manuscripts piling up in his closet. When he’s given the opportunity to ghost write, he can’t turn it down. But then he gets nervous, and jealous, and things just generally don’t turn out as he wanted them to. So what does he do?

This is a spoof of a book. Think Office Space (the movie). Except instead of making fun of the cubicle farm aka corporate office, Only Milo is making fun of writing and publishing. Like all spoofs, it’s very over the top. Enough so that it’s borderline offensive, if the subject matter is something you care about.

But I didn’t find Only Milo truly offensive; more like absurd. Ludicrous. The main character’s motivations and reasoning are never logical — and this is a problem for me.

Still, it’s a very quick read — it took me well under 2 hours from cover to cover. And at several points (mostly early on) I was laughing out loud.

The writing itself had me smiling, too.

Barry Smith is a professor at Emporia State University.

Other reviews:
Devourer of Books
I’m Booking It
Write Meg
The Charmed Bracelet

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

Genre-ing: Risk and reward

I both love and hate genre labeling. On the one hand, genres can help us find books we want to read and avoid books we definitely don’t want to read. But they can also keep us from discovering books we’d love, too. On some level, I chafe against genre labels — perhaps in part because I’ve grown to love so many books that defy a singular genre label. I really do like books that cross genres.

And then there are the times when these genre labels are slapped on a book in error.

I’ve been baffled by the genres applied to two books so far this year, and in both cases it impacted my enjoyment of the read. More on that in a second.

My Friend Amy posted about a similar book marketing tactic, “recommended for fans of …” a day or two ago.

Both of these labeling tactics (applying genre(s) to a book and saying if you like this [fill in famous author/book here], you’ll love this book!) are done on many levels of the book industry. An agent may use this to entice a publishing house to bite, a publisher may put it on a book cover, bookstores shelve and market this way often, and we book bloggers sometimes do these things too. I understand that these tools can be helpful, and in some cases are essential to our mutual communication about books.

Genre labels can also be detrimental, though.

Take the two books I mentioned above, Best Intentions by Emily Listfield and Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth.

Best Intentions was marketed as the author’s first foray into the mystery/suspense genre — a website was created about the murder mystery. Elsewhere I saw it described as a blending of women’s fiction and mystery. Now, while it did have some aspects of a mystery, it certainly should not be shelved in the mystery section. This is women’s fiction with just a pinch of mystery.

Land of Marvels was labeled as a thriller and historical fiction. So many people gave up on this one because they were led to believe the book was a thriller — and then the pacing was very, very slow for the first three-quarters-plus of the book.

If these books had been correctly labeled, I’d have enjoyed one much more than I did, and perhaps I wouldn’t have disliked the other as much as I did, either, simply because I would have realized going in that it was an entirely new genre for me.

My new labels for these books:
Best Intentions is a work of women’s fiction, with just a hint of mystery.
Land of Marvels is a work of historical fiction with relational drama and oil intrigue.

I’ll reiterate: Labeling isn’t all bad; without it, we’d have trouble finding the books we want to read. But lazy labeling is bad, harmful to the book’s success even.

What erroneous genre labels have you seen?

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

scoop-waughScoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938), 336 pages

Scoop follows William Boot, minor nature column writer, as he’s sent by the Daily Beast in London to cover an impending war in a fictionalized East African country (now Ethiopia).

It’s written in short mini-chapters, sometimes less than a page long.

At the beginning, the pacing (and the content, at least to a certain degree) reminded me of Gilmore Girls. At about the 100-page mark, I was reminded of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (in writing style and content); this was the more enduring comparison. Obviously, I’ve got this wrong; Waugh wrote before either of these things I’m comparing this to was created. Either way, this is definitely satire, of journalism. Written in a deadpan style.

I laughed and laughed. I smiled often while reading this book.

I posted a quote from this book last week.

This is my first Waugh. It won’t be my last. (Brideshead Revisited is on deck, although I’ve heard Brideshead is very different than Scoop.)

Waugh grew up as the son of an editor and publisher. He worked as a journalist for some time.

More about Waugh and his writing:
The Evelyn Waugh Society.
A guided tour of Waugh’s works.

Other reviews:
Reading Matters

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.


Don’t forget about my giveaway!

Comics and publishing

Today’s Non Sequitur:
non-sequitur-042009

Today’s Pearls Before Swine:
pearlsbfswine-042009
(Click to enlarge)

First, I was struck that two comics, on the same day, both making the same point: Newspapers are dumb (perhaps book publishers, too) to give away their content for free.

Second, that point (aside from not being funny, either time) is such an old, worn out, answer!

Some well-known facts:

  1. Information, especially news, needs to be on the internet; that’s where people look. (Newspaper readership is down, down, down.)
  2. People don’t like paying for internet content; that model doesn’t work.
  3. Resisting or just ignoring change doesn’t make things stay the same.

Instead of rehashing statements older than yesterday’s news, read this forward-thinking look at the publishing revolution for some hope of a positive solution. (I offered some brief commentary on the piece last month.)

Today’s publishing revolution

    “Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning visions of popular walled gardens and enthusiastic micropayment adoption, visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors.”

Agreed. Having worked in the newspaper industry, I’ve seen this, first hand.

That’s just one small tidbit of an in-depth look at the current revolution impacting journalism (and all of publishing, really). Among other things, Clay Shirky talks about the revolution of the printing press.

Here’s another peek:

    “Print media does much of society’s heavy journalistic lifting, from flooding the zone — covering every angle of a huge story — to the daily grind of attending the City Council meeting, just in case. This coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers, because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to district attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers. The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model. So who covers all that news if some significant fraction of the currently employed newspaper people lose their jobs?”

Yes.

But really, just go read the whole piece.

Thoughts?

Via @publishingtalk.

Abe.uk’s Top 10 funniest books

AbeBooks asked its UK customers what books make them laugh, and based on those responses compiled this list:

Top 10 Funniest Books According to AbeBooks.co.uk Customers
1. Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (1933)
2. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
4. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (1889)
5. Wilt by Tom Sharpe (1976)
6. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
7. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
8. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse (1938)
9. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (1996)
10. Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan (1971)

From this site, which also contains some analysis of the list — not to mention comments from said customers.

From the list, I’ve read only Hitchhiker’s Guide in its entirety; I’ve read part of Catch-22 (and intend to finish someday). I’ve had Wodehouse on my to-read list for quite awhile.