Jan 30, 2012

Review: Space Crazy by K. Rowe

“Story is more than plot, that it's the journey that matters, not how fast you arrive at your destination.” - George R.R. Martin

As I read this line a few days ago in Martin's “Not a blog,” I kept thinking about the latest story I read from K. Rowe, “Space Crazy.

I enjoyed the short book, but to a point. There was something nagging at me for much of the book and even after I was done. After I read that line from Martin, it hit me. Space Crazy made it seem I was watching someone's life rather than living it and feeling what the main character, Dar, was going through in different stages of his life.

There were so many different life events readers witnessed with his character. The book spanned about 10 years of his life. But only once was I ever really pulled into Dar's feelings. Even through death, leaving home for the first time and gaining the trust and friendship of people he cared about, Rowe didn't dig deep enough.

Jan 29, 2012

Amanda Hocking didn't go with Amazon, highest bidder

FutureBook caught up with Amanda Hocking recently and talked about going from a self-publishing platform to a traditional publishing house.

Hocking has become a poster child for many indie authors, selling 1.5 million self-published eBooks. Although she has been successful in that realm, Hocking wanted to see her books in a traditional bookstore. She wanted to be in print.

Hocking felt St. Martins Press was the best outlet for that – but it was not the highest bidder for her work.
"Amazon actually was [the highest bidder] but I did not necessarily think they could get the books into the stores," Hocking told FutureBook. "I knew they could do good promotions for e-books, but what I really wanted was a publisher who could get the paperbacks into stores, and I didn't think they quite had the influence."
One of the more interesting notes in the Hocking article was the different between freelance editors and those working in a publishing house.
"There were things I didn't feel confident about doing before my editor got involved," she says. The freelance editors she'd employed previously had been "more cautious" in their approach, she adds.
Amanda Hocking on Amazonand Smashwords

Jan 27, 2012

Book Review: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

I feel cheated. I spent an entire night reading Explosive Eighteen and at 6 a.m. when I finally put the proverbial book down, I simply shook my head.

All the elements were there for - FINALLY - a fantastic Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich, but instead of digging deeply into the characters that many have fallen in love with, we were still left with so much surface nonsense. I wonder if the characters actually feel anything.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh, but there was no introspection. You would think after a woman has had her life flash before her eyes about a dozen times, she would at least get some clarity in her life.

The book starts with Stephanie on the way back from Hawaii. I actually found the opening of the book to be a strange start because nothing really happens. She's on a plane. She's drunk and annoyed. But we find out something did happen and leads to the crazy run around Stephanie has to deal inevitably deal with.

O.K. Fine. No big deal. That moves the action portion along.

But how many people are out there actually reading these books to see how Stephanie gets through another bungled mess and how she screws up in trying to capture skips?

Jan 25, 2012

Review: The Soul Garden by Cege Smith

There is a story in there, I promise.

Even though I wasn't sure, I kept telling myself that and felt compelled to finish reading the short story, The Soul Garden by Cege Smith.

My hope was founded, once I got past the back story and extra words that it took to get there. The first part has too much information, at times going between memories, which created the opposite effect of I believe Smith was aiming.

There was too much story to create tension. As readers open the book they met are with about five pages worth of back story and a little bit of action. No dialogue.

There has to be good a balance of all of them and I believe a good editor would have been able to help Smith cut out the unnecessary parts to get to her story quicker and with much better pacing.

The Soul Garden takes place in a society where people follow the rules of the governing body, The Office of Souls. Humans are born without souls and because of the limited number of souls, babies have to wait until their Chosen Day to get one.

The books builds up to Soul Implantation Day 3675, which is where all the craziness starts.

Jan 23, 2012

Author Allen Schatz talks about marketing for self-publishers

A little less than a year ago, Allen Schatz published his first book on Smashwords.

Going the self-publishing route didn't come easy to him. He had an agent and when that didn't work out, Schatz took advantage of the growing industry.

Since then he's become his own PR agent as well.

In this Q&A, I talk to Schatz about marketing himself while trying to maintain his writing lifestyle and not letting his "real" job get in the way.

Read the interview after the jump:

Jan 19, 2012

Report: Amazon facing plagiarism problems

Amazon is facing a problem with self-publishers in the erotica section. There are also problems with plagiarism on the site, according to a report by Fast Company.

Fast Company spoke to one person who has dealt with these issues, but wanted to remain anonymous because of her writings. She wants to keep that separate from her public life.

However, the findings in the article are interesting. It's definitely worth checking out. There seems to be too much of this going on according to the findings in the article.

This is a topic that is especially important with SOPA trying to gain traction in congress – although under the current form, it probably will never pass.

“Legislation has been proposed that would give content holders more leverage in dealing with etailers: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). It would award copyright holders wide-ranging powers to run websites that host infringing material off the Internet without needing to acquire a court order. If it becomes law credit card companies could be forced to suspend financial transactions, search engines required to de-link ecommerce sites, and DNS providers made to hobble access. It's the kind of law, well-intentioned as it might be, that could have serious negative repercussions, opponents say. No wonder Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo! have reportedly been considering a coordinated protest against it in the form of a blackout day.”

Jan 15, 2012

Putting the crows to sleep

I finally finished “A Feast for Crows.” I stayed up until 4 a.m. to ensure I got it done. I couldn't go any longer without finishing. The only problem is I need to know what happens next. However, I'm going to wait on reading the fifth books in George R.R. Martin's series to get back into reading/reviewing. Also, I want to talk a little more about the self-published world as it exploded in 2011.

The next book on the list is “Game 7:Dead Ball” by Allen Schatz. It's the first of three books in the Marshall Connors Series. The books follow a Major League Baseball umpire as he's engulfed in murders and mysteries.

I learned about Schatz's books through Twitter. When I first started following him, he probably had around 1,500 followers. In a short time, he's has more than 10,000.

While he spends his time writing, he also does a lot when it comes to promoting his books. That's one of the pitfalls of self-publishing, you're also a self-marketer.

We'll have an interview with Schatz later this week to see what he has learned about the process.  

Jan 9, 2012

An interview with writer Jessica Quiroli

If you missed the review for Jessica Quiroli's first published fiction piece, check it out here. You'll see that I enjoyed the 24-page (according to my Nook) short story about a female minor league baseball reporter.

We wondered if the main character of The Beat was modeled after Quiroli and, in part, it was. But she also used other women from the sports world to add different characteristics to Lauren Day.

We got a moment with Quiroli to ask her more questions about the book and the process. You can find her short story on Smashwords. Also if you have any other question for Quiroli, email WordsbySooz@gmail.com or leave them in the comments.

Q. Where did you get the inspiration to write the book?

A. It started with a desire to write a screenplay about a young female reporter and base it in 1979, just after the decision that allowed women equal access to the clubhouse. I toyed around with that for a long time, but it remained unwritten.

Then as the years went on and I gained more experience, and with the emergence of new media, I thought, why not set this today in baseball? There's so much going on, so many changes. Then I decided to base it in the minors.

The other part of the idea was thinking about the morality of journalism. If we learn something, is it all fair game? I'm sure I was inspired by my own experiences and feelings being in the business, but that came through as I began writing.

Jan 6, 2012

Review: The Beat: A Baseball Short Story

The Beat

Do you ever have a moment when reading a story and the plot makes you pause?

That's what happened when reading “The Beat: A Baseball Short Story” written by Jessica Quiroli.

Initially, I didn't know where the story was headed. Was it going to be about about a pitcher and the excitement/nervousness of his upcoming Major League debut? Or how a female reporter has to cope with being in a male-dominated environment?

These are the two main characters introduced in the beginning of the story, but while the story is centralized around the female journalist, the decisions by the baseball player move the book forward.

The story seemed to be more about how we never really know people even when cameras and photographers are all around them. When reporters throw out questions, they never really ask the right ones.

I won't give away the twist because getting to the surprise is part of the fun.

Jan 5, 2012

Should eBook editing be allowed post-game?

A Forbes piece written yesterday has raised some interesting points regarding editing of eBooks. We're not talking about the process before an eBook gets published, but editing after it's on the market.

The article brings up a point that eBooks can be changed within days if the author wanted.

As a reporter who started in print and worked her way onto the web, the idea of making changes didn't start out easy. A mistake required a correction to run next day in the paper. Mulling over sentences not really allowed much either because of strict deadlines.

But now if something comes to me hours after the article is already handed in or there is mistake that needs to be changed, it can happen within minutes. Not saying changes always happen, but in essence, they could.

Jan 4, 2012

Almost there - just one more thing to do

George R.R. Martin writes long.

There's nothing wrong with that, especially when it works well in his fantasy novels. My only issue is that I am currently reading the fourth book and want to finish it before I start anything new.

I think I don't have much more to go. I got the book in a four-pack bundle for my ereader, so apparently I only have a 100 or so more pages to go before I am done.

One of the toughest things about ereaders is actually gauging how much of a book is left. While the actual page count is there, sometimes there are extra pages at the end of books that aren't part of the story. Can't just flip to the back on this one.

However, once I am done, which will hopefully be in the next day or so, the first eBook I plan to read is The Beat” A Baseball Short Story.” We'll start off easy – just 8,840 words.

That should take me less time than it's taken to read “A Feast for Crows.”

I've scoured Smashwords to find new books. If anyone has anything to recommend, let me know. I would love to hear it.

Jan 1, 2012

Welcome to Words by Sooz

For the last 18 months, I haven’t been able to stop reading everything I could on self-publishing with eBooks, writers and the sites that promote them. It has become such a unique industry full of strengths and benefits to writers and readers.

In 2012, I vowed to become a bigger support of eBooks, specifically by self-publishers. I intend to read more self-published items – but not forgetting to pick up some of my favorite mainstream writers – and I’m going to use this blog to give reviews and highlight some of my favorite self-publishers.

I will give tips I learn along the way and general thoughts – sometimes about sports, other times about life, but mostly about books.

But it’s not enough to simply pump out novels or short stories for people to read. Self-publishing comes with its unique issues that sometimes are ignored or writers simply don’t have the tools to handle.

I don’t want to read a story and click on four stars because I’m proud of the work someone has done. Finishing a story is accomplishment, but we should work together on ensuring the pieces are of high quality.

Being a journalist for more than a decade has taught me the keys to self-editing, and we’re not just talking about grammar and proper spelling. You learn how to find what is missing, if passages need to be moved to have a better effect, structure and pacing.

These are all important.

And if writers don’t know how to do it, I want to help.

Self-publishing is a fun and exciting venture. It takes a lot of bravery for someone to put their writing out there, especially when you have put your heart and soul into a piece. It’s almost as though someone is reading you, digging deep into the depths of what has made you into the person and writer you are. You left it all out there for them.

I’ve edited articles, novels, blogs, even greeting cards. If you’re interested in my services, shoot me an email.

In the meantime, let’s read some books and get to know each other better.