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Saturday, June 27, 2015

THE SUBJECTIVE NATURE OF BOOK REVIEWS

Every story is appreciated from a different point of view, such as age range, life experience, and frame of mind. A novel you read in high school or college might appeal to you in a different way today. You may enjoy a story set in Florence more if you are anticipating a trip to Italy. A book having a subplot about alcoholism will carry a stronger message for someone with personal experience in that area. For these reasons, one person’s opinion of a novel will not necessarily mesh with that of another. 

Book reviews are subjective. They reflect the honest opinion of the reader composing the review. The opinion itself, therefore, cannot be considered invalid because someone disagrees with the review. 

With that thought in mind, I welcome your comments on the books I review.

The genre I most enjoy reading is Mystery, along with its many sub-genres, including: Hard-boiled, Traditional Cozy, Suspense, Thriller, and Police Procedural. Over the years, subgenres of these subgenres have sprung up. Within the Traditional Cozy, there are now Food Cozies and Cat Cozies; thrillers include Medical Thrillers and Psychological Thrillers. I describe my own novels as yet another sub-genre:
 
      “Soft-boiled mysteries can be murder!”
 
 
The mystery genre takes up a large portion of my book shelf. Figuratively speaking, that is, as my E-book collection now far outnumbers my paperback and hardcover collection.
 
Beginning Saturday, August 15, 2015, my book reviews will include a mix of genres, representing classical, contemporary, traditional, self-published, fiction and non-fiction works.
 
Please plan to join me on the lanai.

 
 
 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I DON'T WISH I WERE PERFECT


Perfections isn’t a goal of mine. But it seems plenty of other people wish this of me, or at least that I wasn’t so imperfect! 

That got me thinking about perfection and the need to strive for the impossible (my opinion on achieving it.) Is it necessary to have such a goal? 

Is a goal of perfection detrimental to a person’s mental health? 

A case in point is the manuscript of a novel. The cover of a book is of major importance. The credibility of plot and depths of characters, and a steady rise in tension are required to hold a reader’s interest. Misspelled or misused words, poor punctuation, and sloppy formatting are all distractions. 

But why would it gnaw at a reader to find a typo sprinkled here or there? Enough to make them stop reading? To write a scathing review? 

Why would anyone have such a strong reaction to a small blemish?

Because we want perfection for ourselves. And we expect that perfection from others. And those who expect perfection from others should know others expect the same from them. How would you react to water-logged pasta at an Italian restaurant; smudged polish on one freshly manicured fingernail; scuff marks on a Manola spiked heel; no galley margin in the first chapter of your brand new John Sandford novel; a grease spot on the foyer carpet of a Tiffany & Co. store; or dropped stitching on your Victoria’s Secret pink thong Valentine’s present? 

Perfection may be overrated. But if my manuscript has flaws that readers can’t overlook to enjoy the story, then lack of perfection becomes a big problem for me. I can deal with less than al dente pasta if the sauce is magnific; a scuff on a Manola if it is on the inside of a spiked heel (maybe), or a missed galley margin on page 214 of a new novel. But smudged nail polish on French tips, grease spots at the entrance to Harry Winston, and dropped stitching . . . well, just about anywhere on Trousseau lingerie wouldn’t make the cut. 

Yesterday, I read a WIP memoir that appealed to me for several significant reasons.
That appeal carried me through the unpolished manuscript beyond any misspelled,
misused, or missing words, because the story had me hooked from start to finish. 

The lesson I learned? When it comes to appeal, if I miss the mark in one area, it becomes imperative that I shoot for the bulls-eye in another. Striking a perfect balance, not perfection, is my goal. 

I do, however, still aim for the red center . . .  every time.
 
 

Monday, June 15, 2015

THE MYSTERY OF "PAYING IT FORWARD"



 
There should be no mystery in the concept of “Paying It Forward”! 

When someone gives us a leg-up, helping us in our writing careers, it only makes sense to pay forward the favor or compliment. As favors come full-circle, everyone benefits with plenty of satisfaction and success for everyone. 
           

The Makiki Community Library in Honolulu generously allows our Sisters in Crime/Hawaii group to hold monthly meetings at the library. As a way to show support for the library’s generosity, many of the SinC/HI members are also members of the library and donate their published books to the library for the public to enjoy. 

Sisters in Crime, Inc., the national organization, "Pays It Forward" with its “We Love Libraries” contest. They present winning libraries around the country with grants to purchase books for their library. With encouragement from SinC/Hawaii, Makiki Library entered the contest and became a lucky winner, a satisfying example of how “Paying It Forward” came full circle.
 
           
"Paying It Forward" can be as easy as offering a heartfelt “mahalo” or “thank you” to someone who offers advice or a compliment. Recently, I received all the chocolate candy I could eat in two hours (during a Sisters in Crime/Hawaii meeting!) after performing the simple task of showing interest in a fellow writer’s WIP.
             

Hawai'i-based Mystery Author Toby Neal recently demonstrated “Paying It Forward” when Amazon contacted her about participating in their new program. As the author of the Lei Crime series, she is one of only a select group of authors asked to launch a Kindle World. https://kindleworlds.amazon.com/ 


To Pay-It-Forward, Toby invited some of her author friends to share in the world of Hawaiian Islands Detective Lei Texeira by contributing stories for publication to her Lei Crime Series Kindle World. Not everyone was prepared to accept her generous offer at this time, but it was a privilege to be asked and to know the offer still stands. 

Toby describes Kindle Worlds on her web page as: “a wonderful new place on the Amazon site where any writer can develop stories within an established World of known characters.” You can visit Toby at her web site here: http://tobyneal.net/
             

I will be posting “Pay It Forward” stories here on the first and third Monday of each month beginning in September. If you want to share one of your own stories, please contact me at my email address.