The Last Book I Wasn’t Crazy For But Read Anyway

Welcome to the fourth week of March, everyone. Finally, spring is upon us! I have been ‘snow done’ for a while now; I was definitely done with polar cold before it started, but temps in my area are supposed to hover just above or below freezing all week 😦  ). Give me the dog days of summer anytime over the chilly weather.

Nabby 03-2015 My pretty li’l Mauer McNabb always keeps me company when I’m working in the kitchen.  

Last time, I was inspired to write by suspense/thriller author Carrie Rubin, who was inspired by the ever-awesome Kristen Lamb. The discussion: Should an author publish book reviews?

In my previous post, I referred to a story I had just finished. Because I prefer to keep my ‘thoughts’ on books positive—I don’t refer to them as ‘reviews’ anymore. My ideas and/or issues are pretty subjective, thus making them MHO. One is welcome to take what s/he likes and leave the rest. 😉

Back to MHO on my most recent read. The author’s declared mainstay occupation is NOT writing, but another creative outlet, in which she is reportedly well-established. The story is inspired and built around her ‘day job.’ It pubbed traditionally by a Big-Five publisher in 2010. As an ‘author,’ my snarky side keeps asking, “Why?”

Not sure if the external plot (a.k.a., the ‘story’) or the characters kept me holding on, but something did.

The writing? Eh. Obviously, GCP thought more of it than I did.

I thought about emailing the author my issues. I’ve done so before re: other books—always as gently and kindly as I know how. I’ve never received a response from any author whenever I went there—most recently from someone who offered a book in exchange for a review. I really tried, but I couldn’t finish the book. I wrote the author’s rep and stated my reasons why—exactly what the rep asked me to do if I ran into ‘problems’ that would impact my review. Not even a ‘thank you.’

I realized most authors are not interested in my take on what their book(s) should be.

Guess what? That. Is. Okay. Saves me a lot of time writing emails loaded with editing notes and constructive criticism no one asked for in the first place. 😉

Back to Book-on-the-‘Hot Spot’:

What I liked:

(1) High-energy and fast-paced. With the exception of a back-story/flashback dump (or two), the plot held my interest and moved forward at a decent pace.

(2) Likable, interesting, well-flawed, relatable and highly human characters.

What turned me off to the point I WON’T write a ‘review’:

(1)  The author used a plethora of foreign-language words and didn’t italicize any of them. A minor issue, true, but ‘dems da rules,” right? IDK, it just turned me off, especially for a trad-pubbed, Big-Five novel.

(2) The author’s loose use of point of view (POV). Head-hopping, POVs assigned to whomever was reacting to the goings-on in a given scene, rather than sticking to the three lead characters. At times the author waxed omniscient. (That’s pretty much the exact opposite of deep POV, which I happen to love. The awesome Virginia Kantra has some great articles on POV at her website. Check them out—just scroll down the page.)

(2) The author infused a contemporary story with her love of movies. She referenced them in EACH character’s point of view (POV). Why is that an issue? I’m a product of the era of those movies, and I’m thinking the author is too. Her characters were far too young to think of themselves relative to the comparisons she used. Also would every one of them think in terms of movies? Far as I’ve learned, POV is supposed to distinguish one character’s voice from another.

(3) The author used the movie references repeatedly, typically as one “like” simile after another. Either I got more sensitive to it or she added more and more of them as the story progressed. Not only did it get old and gimmicky and sounded like “telling”, it got to the point where the similes felt random and not connected to the story. (NCIS’s “Tony DiNozzo,”—played by Michael Weatherly who looks the part of a classic movie star—is a movie buff. Tony is rarely sans a ready movie reference, but it always connects to his character AND the episode’s plot.)

(4) Lastly, I think I started paying less attention towards the end of the book, but I believe the author started introducing quotes, characters and themes at the “finale.” Forgive my snobbish attitude, but I’ve learned (via Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering) that adding new information after the second plot point and/or climax is a bit of a no-no.

Do I sound resentful b/c this writer got a big opportunity from a big-name publisher? I suppose I do, but considering I haven’t submitted anything in several years makes me think that’s not the case. (I like the indie idea better anyway.) IDK, but all the things that turned me off make me wonder why a Big-Five pubbed novel wasn’t held to a much higher standard. Just sayin’.

Have I become a reading snob? Maybe, but I’m older. My attention span and tolerance ain’t what they were eleven years ago, when I started on my writer’s journey. I’ve read a lot—I still read quite a bit. I am also more educated and experienced in writing and editing, which kills my tolerance for this kind of stuff that much more.  Sad that a really good—but not necessarily established—indie writer might not get the chance the author/celebrity of nameless book got.

So what’s my point in these long-winded pages? Maybe sharing what makes me crazy in a book can help someone else refine their skills on their authors’ journeys. Maybe I just felt like complaining about the book without bashing the author and making her or myself look bad. IDK—what say you?

Enjoy the week!

Joanna

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Conundrum: Should Authors Wear the ‘Reviewer’ Hat? (Part 1)

And should they do so at their author blogs?

Welcome, friends! Warmer temperatures are hinting at spring–Yay!–and we’ve sprung our clocks forward. (I’ll get over the loss of an hour’s sleep. More sun and light, please!)

So the other day fellow author and online friend Carrie Rubin referenced a blog post by social media guru Kristen Lamb. The question: should authors write reviews for books they’ve read and/or publish them on their blogs?

Of course, both articles got me thinking, enough to get into one of my long-winded comments. (The kind that has blog-post-of-my-own potential—all as I happened to be trudging through a book whose characters caught my interest, but had me tangling big-time with issues relative to the prose.)

As per Carrie Rubin’s post: “One of the things (Kristen Lamb) recommends is never writing a bad book review. In fact, Kristen suggests writers should not publish book reviews on their blogs at all: ‘“Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’ My opinion is we can’t do both.”’

Carrie tends to agree and ponders the notion that an author writing reviews could be a conflict of interest. She also supplied valid arguments for both sides of doing so—more so for NOT writing a bad review—with support noted for the benefit and/or need for reviews by indie authors.

I don’t disagree with Kristen Lamb on “Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’” At the risk of sounding full of myself (which I pray I am not), and as a reader—a.k.a., consumer-of-books—AND writer/author, I hope I bring an expanded (?) set of skills to the ‘review’ table.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll get into those a little later this week. What are your thoughts so far?

Have a great day,

Joanna

Linking Up and a Blog-Reveal Too

Hi everyone! Hope you enjoyed the weekend and the NFL championship games. All due credit and congratulations to the Seahawks, for pulling off the improbable, but what a heartbreaker for those of us rooting for the Packers. 😦

Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! Yay!

The reveal: I’ve been working at developing speaker workshops for the past year or so, the mainstay of which will be parenting-related. To go with it, I started a new blog/website, where I will be posting all future parenting posts (among other related topics). Promise I won’t turn down any of the love or support any of you care to show by following it and/or sharing about it. (Just sayin’! 😉 )

Linking up: Figured I’d take the opportunity to hook y’all up with some of my most loyal supporters. Check their blogs out. Bet you’ll find something you like!

Carrie Rubin: The Write Transition–today she’s got a list of books you might be interested in reading. She also blogs on many different topics, typically infusing each with her unique style of humor.

At How the Cookie Crumbles, Tess is currently taking us on a virtual trip to China via a series of posts based on her current trip. She’s also awesome at 100-word shorts.

Young adult fiction author Stacey Wilk offers her take on parenting, growing up Italian and other topics.

Accent the positive and be inspired at Lewar’s blog–my latest find.

Have a wonderful day!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

The Darndest Things…

that patients say!

Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate. I realize I’m a bit behind my typical posting schedule, but am blessed with this rainy day to catch up. Seems appropo, too, as I am feeling a tad under the weather. (Go figure: Younger Son, who at times appears to have inspired the refrain lyric to Magic’s hit song RUDE apologized–sincerely–for infecting me with his cold.)

Give credit where credit is due: Thanks to author, fellow blogger and online friend Carrie Rubin for inspiring today’s post. 🙂 Her next-to-last write-up cited some real-life, colorful moments from her alter-ego’s medical moments. She got me thinking about a few of mine.

teddy-242876_1280

License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQFree for commercial use / No attribution required.

Y’all know I’m an occupational therapist by day. These days, I work strictly with elementary-aged children in a school setting. Some of the situations I’ve come across—and a lot of what the kids say—could double up as fodder for post after post. I’ll spare you though, and stick to two short interchanges from my days back when I worked with the adult crowd in an inpatient rehab setting. (I’m sure my back has no problem with it, but sometimes I miss my grown ups.)

One of my first patients was a very quiet gentleman I’ll refer to as George. (Not his real name.) George’s leg had been amputated below the knee. He was also visually impaired, most likely from the long-term effects of diabetes.

I’m not sure if it was his nature or his situation that kept our verbal exchanges very simple. He usually appeared reserved, somber and/or sad, so I’d try to bring a little humor into our half-hour. No matter what I said, though, George’s responses were typically single word utterances.

One afternoon, George and I were doing our PM session exercises and/or activities. True to form, he answered my chatter with his uni-word responses. “Yep”  and “Nope” made up most of the conversation at his end.

“You know, George, that’s some vocabulary you have there.”

Bet he was wishing I’d zip it or subject some other poor soul to my yap. Serious as all get-out he strung together this—probably his first full sentence since his admission.“I don’t waste words.”

Now there was an answer. “I guess not,” was my best rejoinder.

The session continued—even more quietly than before—and I started thinking about what George said. I went from giggling at how seriously he said it to outright laughing, harder and harder the more his words played in my head.

He asked me what was so funny, and even seemed a bit miffed. I must have said something back, because he wound up laughing too.

That moment changed the dynamic of all our subsequent sessions. I’d cover his eyes whenever the transporters brought him. He’d say my name every time, always with a smile and a laugh. That carried over even when they brought him to our prosthetic clinic as an outpatient.

teddy-242851_1280

License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ. Free for commercial use / No attribution required.

The most off-beat comment/compliment I received on duty came from a British man in his late 60s or early 70s. He had sustained a stroke that impacted the left side of his body. (Note: As a form of head trauma a stroke can often leave the patient with lessened inhibitions. Something tells me this man might have been a touch disinhibited all along.)

Anyway, this lovely gentleman and I were doing the therapy thing in the rehab gym. Propped against a wall nearby was a woman’s full above-the-knee prosthetic leg—not to be confused with the temporary pylon amputees use when they’re first learning to walk.

Having been blessed with legs that serve function far more than aesthetics, I commented on how shapely the female prosthetic was.

Without a second’s hesitation, my patient answered in his charming accent. “I’m sure your leg is far more lovely, especially with a high heel on it.”

Aside: I suppose this particular man’s charms were far reaching. I learned the lady for whom the leg was made wound up in a romantic alliance with my patient. So how is that for a happy ending?

Your turn! Please take a moment and share a workplace story or two of yours—or any other memorable moment that still makes you smile.

Stay tuned. Next week I’ll share about the absolute worst—and only time—I lost my cool and decorum with a patient. (Good thing the only person within earshot was a coworker and good friend.)

As always, thank you for your time, likes and comments—always greatly appreciated!

Have a great week,

Joanna

 

 

 

 

And You Worried About THE FLU?!

Promised my great online friend and blog supporter Carrie Rubin I’d put to words my thoughts on her fast-paced and very-well written debut, The Seneca Scourge. Time (or lack of it) has gotten in the way of having done so before (but at least those powerless hours sans internet after Superstorm Sandy served me long enough to get this write-up back in motion and into the blogosphere–about flippin’ time too).

Disclaimer: I am not a formal book reviewer. I am a common reader and freely posted my thoughts on this book because I wanted to and can. I was not paid by anyone in any way for doing so.

Not quite sure how I originally happened on The Write Transition (Carrie’s website/blog) but I am so glad I did! This self-described introvert has the most offbeat sense of humor and ties that gift seamlessly into almost every article she posts. She’s been Freshly Pressed  by WordPress and very humbly offered a related post in which she shared her thoughts on how she’s been FP’d a second time—by her readers and supporters. Check it out if you can: I was very inspired!

For those of you unfamiliar with Freshly Pressed: it’s the tremendous honor of having one’s blog post showcased on the WordPress website landing page. (Try to imagine the multitude of blog posts that go up daily in the WordPress world and you’ll get how amazing it is to have one’s post among a revered ten, where one’s post is as visible as it can get!) And Carrie is one of the nicest people I know to get it.

Okay, this post was supposed to be about thoughts on The Seneca Scourge, right? Just to lend this newbie author more credibility, she is a pediatrician by trade and has also worked as a public health advocate. The rest of her bio is easily viewable at her website. (Not that it doesn’t have merit to share here, but I’m trying to get to the book already!)

seneca-scourge-1-3    Carrie Rubin

Here’s the back cover copy:

Dr. Sydney McKnight, a young physician battling the deadliest influenza pandemic of all time, joins forces with Dr. Casper Jones, an odd new research virologist whose arrival coincides with the virus’s advent, and whose presence raises more questions than answers.

As scientists around the world search for an explanation for the virus’s high mortality rate, Sydney’s distrust of Casper grows, especially after she discovers him injecting an unidentified substance into her patient. Despite a heavy patient load, rebuttals from her boss, and an increasingly strained relationship with her boyfriend, Sydney is determined to learn the truth.

But what she finds will plunge her into danger and change her life forever…

Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Editor: Dave Field
Cover Artist: Harris Channing

 I’ve always been fascinated by medical ‘stuff.’ (At four I wanted to be a nurse and wound up an occupational therapist.) Medical drama has caught my interest since I was a little girl, starting with MedicalCenter, back in the day. (Yes, I seriously just dated myself, lol, but what can I say? The very handsome Chad Everett starred. ;)) I followed ER for 13 of its 14-year run. Private Practice grabbed me last year. Stands to reason I planned on enjoying Carrie Rubin’s debut just because the story is set against a hospital background. And just for fun she threw in a little sci-fi on the side to keep the mix from being well—typical, I guess might be a good word.

Sydney, the lead character, is a bit self-consumed and finds it hard to connect with others. She notices herself becoming more and more intrigued and suspicious of Casper, enough to start taking a closer look at what he’s doing while an influenza pandemic not-so-insidiously starts claiming the lives of an entire community.

The writing is fast-paced. Descriptions are fresh and show authentic medical knowledge. The sci-fi embellishment is positively brilliant! (Loved Casper’s BB—you’ll have to read to find out exactly what that is ;)) Sydney’s POV is deep and highly relatable, her self-centeredness captured through sarcasm and subtle, just-dry-enough awesome humor. The author’s voice comes through naturally, mostly through dialogue (internal and external) with nary a hint of intrusion. Exchanges between Sydney and the cast of characters become increasingly poignant—yet never melodramatic—as Sydney’s character journey unfolds and progresses, taking the reader to a bit of an offbeat ending, but one that definitely works with this story.

Enjoy the read! I know I’m looking forward to whatever this author has in store for her readers next! And if you’re itching to pick up The Seneca Scourge right now, here are some links to do so:

For Nook;

For Kindle (choice of digital or print)

Direct from the publisher!

Contact Carrie via her website (just scroll down the page a bit); follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook!

Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe and happy weekend and New Year,

Joanna