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Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Bath Abbey Fan VaultingSometimes, the word “interesting” isn’t enough.

This weekend past, as well as being sad, stressful, productive, lazy, and maddening, was also interesting.

It was the 31st anniversary of my wedding. It was the yahrzeit of the death of my wife’s mother. It was a weekend of plans, and of disrupted plans. It was a weekend with three reservations to the same restaurant, each one made and canceled in daily succession. It was a weekend of editing, rereading and rewriting my latest short story (“The Book of Solomon”), proofing it, polishing it, and then sending it off to a paying market.

It was also the weekend when I got an email from the Senior Librarian in Sumner, WA, asking if I’d be interested in participating in a panel, this October.

Yeah, “interesting” doesn’t really cover it.

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Over on Facebook, a reader mentioned a scene in FC:1 that she really liked. I like to investigate this sort of specific feedback–the good and the bad–to see what worked and what didn’t work for my readers.

I remembered the scene she mentioned in general, but not in detail. The main reason I wanted to investigate, though, was that her description of it as dialogue-free was not my recollection; I remembered it as being chatty to the extreme, as two swoony teenaged girls prattled on about how divine it was going to be to see Sarah Bernhardt on stage. (For those of you out of the 19th-century loop, Sarah Bernhardt was the Lady Gaga of her day.)

So, I pulled down my copy of The Year the Cloud Fell and tried to figure out what this reader had meant when she referred to the scene’s “shared communication and not a scrap of dialogue.

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In retrospect, yesterday’s post was a bad idea and very out of character. I had misgivings and hesitated before posting, but I ascribed those feelings to being “brave” and maybe even a bit “edgy” with my choice of topic.

Nope. Instead, it came across as a petulant, whinge-filled pity-fest served with a big side of “Buy my book and tell me it’s grand.”

Ew…and therefore…my apologies. That was not what I wanted to say, and that is not what I want this blog to be about.

Here’s what I want to say, instead. (more…)

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I’m biased. There. I said it.

I’m biased, in that I like the books I’ve written. I can’t help it. Frankly, I wouldn’t be able to get through the writing part of being a novelist without liking the books I write. Writing a book I didn’t like? Not gonna happen.

So, I’m biased, and that’s unfortunate, because it makes it impossible for me to understand why Unraveling Time didn’t sell.

And I want to know.

Seriously. I want to have an honest, open conversation about why this book didn’t sell. (more…)

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Kurt R.A. Giambastiani

I’m always curious, when readers leave comments about my books, as to which of my novels is their favorite and why.

The answers are always varied. Sometimes it’s the subject matter, the period, or the setting. For others, it’s the characters who populate the pages. Occasionally, it’s just je ne sais quoi, that certain “something” that resonates with a particular reader.

Recently, though, the question was turned around; someone asked me what my favorite was. (more…)

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You all know I’m a Browncoat and a fan of “Castle,” as well. I may have also mentioned that one of my guilty pleasures is reading the “Richard Castle Mysteries,” the series of novels ghost written under the Richard Castle nom de plume.

I’m generally not a fan of mystery novels. I find them too formulaic and (frankly) unbelievable. I admit, I went through a Nero Wolfe phase in my youth, scarfing up every dog-eared Rex Stout paperback I could find, but I recovered. These days, the only ones I can read are police procedurals because, let’s face it, who’s more likely to come into contact with murders and murderers time after time: an old pensioner from Sussex, or a homicide detective?

I’ve read all the Nikki Heat books, and am reading Deadly Heat now. Part of my enjoyment of these books is the conceit; I’m reading a book “written” by a fictional character, a book that is mentioned in the TV series, and which often debuts on bookshelves on the same night it debuts on the television show. The book mimics action played out during the previous season in the TV show, as if it were really the product of this fictional character’s fictional life. And built within the book are characters and references to events that appear in the television show. It’s a wonderful gimmick that I really enjoy. Now, throw in a handful of “self-awareness” references, such as acknowledgments that thank not only characters from the show, but also (by first name only) actors who portray those characters. And then, to top it off, toss in a handful of really “meta”  references, pointing back to “Firefly” and other works the actors have done outside the “Castle” world.

In all, it’s layers upon layers, fiction upon fiction, all with a wink and a nod to the real world and real life. (more…)

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiQuestion:

When is a “debut author” not a debut author?

I recently saw an ad for a new book by a “debut author.” Amazon was flogging this book hard, and the publisher had placed adverts in the trades and bought ad space on websites and magazines. Much buzz was being generated about this “debut novel” from a brand-new author.

Thing is…I’m acquainted with this “debut author.” I’ve met her a couple of times, at signings and readings. Signings for her books. Readings of her books. This author is a very nice person and a very good author–I’ve read her work and enjoyed it very much–but she is not a “debut author.” She’s just branching out, writing under a pseudonym.

Pseudonyms are a common practice in writing, and there are many legitimate reasons for using them.

  • An author doesn’t want to be directly identified. A pseudonym creates a buffer between the author and the reading public.
  • An author has failed with his own name, and his track record makes him the literary equivalent of “box office poison.” A pseudonym provides a fresh start with a clean slate.
  • An author has succeeded with her own name, in a specific genre, and her name is now associated with that genre; but now she’s branching out, writing in a different genre. A pseudonym allows her to “rebrand” herself, and write in multiple genres without confusing (and possibly alienating) her faithful readers. I mean, if the latest Stephen King book was filled with epic poetry, some readers might be pissed off (at least in theory).

But it is not the pseudonym that bothers me; not at all. It’s the publisher’s use of the “debut author” label. Yes, this is done all the time; yes, it’s a common marketing practice. There’s nothing illegal about it, certainly, but still, it bothers me. First, it is vaguely insulting. I mean, are readers so dumb that they can’t figure out that Stephen King’s latest (hypothetical) book, titled Odes to Mothers: A collection of epic poetry in the Gothic style, is probably not his usual fare?

It is also unethical, dishonest, and disingenuous. This isn’t a “new voice” in the literary world. In all likelihood, this author’s style is going to be similar to past works, regardless of genre or what name is on the cover.

And more importantly, what does this do to all the other, real debut authors? Does this cheapen their work in comparison? Does this harm their debut? Will people miss their book, in all the noise about this other “debut?” Will buyers think less of the title because the publisher hasn’t put the same kind of oomph behind it?

This is just publishing at its most cutthroat, at its most businesslike. It’s a marketing tactic, designed to maximize ROI, nothing more. It isn’t that the buying public is getting a lesser quality work; on the contrary, these ersatz “debuts” arguably provide something of higher quality than legitimate debuts, so the public is not cheated. But a person can be duped and not be cheated.

Why do we accept dishonesty, if the outcome is not harmful?

k

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