What I hope to bring home from BEA 2012…

As far as I’m concerned, part of the fun of BEA is the planning and the anticipation. And the planning I’ve doing! I’ve been pouring over the PW “Galleys to Grab” article, Barbara Hoffert’s “Galley and Signing Guide,” as well as the BEA website and the mobile app. So much potential for enjoyment here! I can’t believe I’ve only got two days before the train leaves the station!

So, this is my obsessive-compulsive personality’s spreadsheet of the “must do” events at BEA this year (it doesn’t include Blogger Con, but that’s a different creature altogether).  I’m wearing three hats this year: as a representative of the press, a representative of the HNS, and for my personal blog. I will be prowling the academic presses and military-political-focused publishers for work contacts, the mainstream presses for historical novels, and although this event is geared around the mainstream publishing world, there are always some small presses and independent authors at BEA, so I intend to seek them out for this blog. I’ll review enticing mainstream HF here as well.

I’m hoping to return with knowledge of how to make this blog better, more contacts and book sources, and updates on the latest trends in paper and e-book publishing. Of course, I will share what I learn here, and I will make sure to post photos and updates from the convention.

I am currently reading Julie K. Rose’s lovely work, Oleanna, which will accompany me on the train; hopefully I can finish it and write the HNS review on the ride home. Then I will begin book two of Sam Baty’s WW2 thriller series, Darkness into Light.

Thank you again for all of the review requests–I intend to catch up on correspondence over the weekend.

Mandatory reading for those considering self-publishing

Helen Hollick alerted me to these fantastic pieces that, in my opinion,  should be required reading for any author who considers self-publishing (or subsidy-publishing).

The first is a blog piece in which a self-published author comes around to accepting that (1) publishing your own book is a lengthy process that entails professional help (in the form of a good editor); (2) it can’t be done quickly or thoughtlessly; and (3) attention to detail–grammar, punctuation, and design, for example–is the quality that differentiates a good SP book from an excellent one, one that looks as if it came from a mainstream publishing house.  http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/27/could-your-self-published-book-pass-this-test/#comment-8202

The second is the blog where Catherine Howard’s self-published book was reviewed. The reviewer has stringent criteria, and I completely agree with her. If an author won’t put the time and effort into producing a professional, error-free publication, why should a reviewer put the time and effort into reviewing it? “Jane Smith” is a brutally honest reviewer, which I admire, for she doesn’t sugarcoat any shortcomings. These are her criteria:

I’m an editor, and I expect published books to be well-written and polished. I’m going to count all the spelling, punctuation and grammar errors I find and when I reach fifteen I’m going to stop reading. Clunky writing will count against you. I’ll read no more than five pages of boring prose before I give up. And I’ll tell the world how many pages I read for every book I review here.


Now that I’ve been alerted to these valuable resources, I am considering changing my reviewing criteria as well.

Tiniest library in the world

I stumbled upon this little gem during my web wanderings earlier this week. How creative, and inspiring–wish I’d thought of this!  I’m gratified, once again,  to see evidence that reading PAPER (not virtual) books is still alive in kicking in the world. (photos and text courtesy of offbeatearth.com)

“As both books and classic red phone booths are becoming a thing of the past, a village in Somerset, England has merged the two rare commodities.

“The bright red old phone booth was purchased for just 1 pound and remodeled as the smallest library in the world. Residents line up to swap their already read books for new ones left by other patrons. Over 100 books and a variety of movies and music CDs are available at this tiny library.”

The Time Traveler’s Wife (from 12/4/2007)

December 4, 2007

Our book club pick for November was this novel by Audrey Niffeneger, and it made for a very lively discussion. We may not have “fallen in love” with the story itself or any particular character, but we thought it was an imaginative and complex novel.

I became too emotionally involved in feeling Henry’s pain and fear during my reading. Perhaps this speaks to the author’s ability to pull the reader in and connect, but I have trouble separating myself from fictional characters sometimes–my own boundary issue, I guess.  However, the view of time travel as being something dangerous and frightening rather than being a positive experience was a surprise to me. Isn’t time travel supposed to be a miraculous cure-all for present troubles? <note the hint of sarcasm here> A quote I’ve often heard, “Your mind is a dangerous place, don’t go in there alone” could have been Henry’s mantra. When he traveled, he could take nothing with him, and I mean NOTHING- not clothes, not food, not the basic means for survival. He was completely and utterly vulnerable. He couldn’t chose where or when he went or who he met there. A pervasive, underlying sense of  melancholy and  doom permeated this novel.

The premise–that Henry has a genetic disorder that causes random time travel and that he represents an evolution of the human species- seemed plausible to me. Some reviewers didn’t think this premise was necessary and that it even detracted from the story. I have to respectfully disagree. I think the premise is the thread that weaved the the story together and culminated in mear-believable science fiction. I can think of ways that we “time travel” in our heads, for example, when we see, smell, touch, or taste something that reminds us of our past. The sense leads us back to a specific time and place, a specific memory. When we have an anxiety or panic attack or feel overwhelming fear–these  emotions are generated by past traumas and take us out of the present moment.

Henry’s travels WERE  life threatening. If he had time traveled for no apparent reason, I don’t think I could have continued through to the final page of the book.

I can’t say that I “enjoyed” this book because I felt overpowered by the bleakness that permeated the story, but it was an eye-opening reading experience and a definite conversation starter, and I would recommend it for book clubs.