Pre-Valentines teaser: 7 romances for you

Share

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away. Romance is everywhere this time of year, including  with your favorite BestSelling authors. Seven members have put their romance stories on special prices this season, so you can still enjoy a great read and have enough money left for flowers, wine and chocolate.

Back Side of a Blue Moon

Romantic mystery by Caleb Pirtle III

What happens when a man with a checkered past comes face to face with a woman whose past is as mysterious as his? “A riveting tale.”

Get it on sale.

Becoming

YA romantic fantasy by Raine Thomas

On her 18th birthday, Amber Hopkins learns why she has power surges.

“Phenomenal!”

Get it on sale.

 

The Crazy Girl’s Handbook

Romantic comedy by DelSheree Gladden

Longest. Weekend. Ever. Embarrassment for Greenly Kendrick turns into mortification, a head wound, and being patch up by her amused knight in shining armor.

“Just perfect!”

Get it on sale.

Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

Historical romantic fantasy by Samreen Ahsan

Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles. A new job awakens dark powers and binds her to a romance spanning the centuries.

“A heartwarming read that will make you realize that true love holds no bounds.”

Get it on sale.

One Shade of Red

Sizzling-hot romantic spoof by Scott Bury

University student Damien takes on a new summer business, and a romance that may be too much for him to handle.

“Funny, deep and sexy.”

Get it on sale.

The Poppy Fields

Military romance by D.G. Torrens

Emily struggles to come to terms with her tragic loss. James, a military physiotherapist, avoids love at all costs. When they meet, their lives are changed forever…

“An emotional rollercoaster.”

Get it on sale.

A Case of Sour Grapes

Romantic crime thriller by Gae-Lynn Woods

Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes and beautiful handbags must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of a missing polygamist to keep his multiple duped wives alive.

“A delightful caper of whodunit.”

Get it on sale.

Share

Thursday teaser #excerpt: Wildfire

Share

By Scott Bury

This week’s excerpt is a special one: it’s from a yet-to-be released book, the first in a new mystery series. Titled Wildfire, its author plans to release it as an e-book on Amazon on March 20, to be followed quickly by releases on other platforms and in paperback.

This excerpt is from Chapter 1.

Chapter 1: An Open Door

From a distance, the winery looked like a simple barn, but when she got close she could see it was a modern building, painted to match the yellow and orange of the mansion-restaurant. Set into the ersatz stucco front wall was a wide barn door made of solid dark wood. In its center, a human-size door gaped open. When Tara walked close enough, she could feel conditioned, cool air flowing out.

She leaned in and knocked on the open door. No one said anything. She could hear the hum of some kind of machinery. Smooth concrete floors and light grey ducts and pipes gleamed under halogen lights on the high ceiling. To the left, windows in sheetrock walls showed offices, where a man with dark hair sat, writing with a pencil.

Tara took another deep breath of cool air, stepped up to the office’s interior door and knocked on its frame. The dark-haired man looked up quickly, hazel eyes wide, then relaxing. She could now see a shaggy dog curled up on the floor near his feet.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

His voice was deep and smooth, his tone fast but courteous. Tinged with sadness? Stop imagining things, Tara. You haven’t even met him yet.

“Mr. DaSilva?” She stepped farther into the office, hand extended. The dog stood up, looking at her. The tail wagged tentatively. Its head was just below the level of the desktop, its light brown fur curly. It had a square nose and the fur at the blunt end of it looked to Tara like a moustache.

“I’m Tara Rezeck.”

The dark-haired man stood to shake Tara’s hand. He was tall and slim. The sleeves of his open-necked dress shirt were rolled up over his elbows, showing ropey forearms. His hand was rough, his grip firm. On the left hand was a large gold ring with a dark stone. “Rezeck? Oh, yes. Sophia called about you.” He indicated a guest chair in front of his desk and sat again. “So you’re looking for a job?”

The dog’s mouth opened slightly and its tailed wagged freely now.

Tara already had a crisp new copy of her résumé out of her briefcase. He took it and leaned back in his chair.

She waited, trying not to look around the office like some kind of thief casing the place. It wasn’t much to look at, just the working office of a company that made wine. Messy stacks of paper and notebooks took up most of DaSilva’s desk, and on an extension at right angles to the main part sat a large office telephone and a laptop computer. The screen saver was a picture of a vineyard.

On the wall beside DaSilva, over the laptop computer, a large whiteboard hung, covered with a multi-colored chart and acronyms that Tara could not begin to interpret. Behind him was a large window that looked out into the winery. Beyond high tanks, Tara thought she could see people moving around.

A window on the other side looked outside, where trucks were parked on a wide, dusty yard. Behind that was a thick hedge, a fence, and beyond that the vineyards, on south-facing slopes bathed in sunlight.

“You have a law degree?” DaSilva was staring at her, eyebrows high and mouth slightly open.

Tara nodded. “From the Vermont Law School. I graduated cum laude last spring.”

“Then what are you doing here? Why aren’t you applying for jobs with law firms in Vermont?”

Like it? Leave a Comment to be entered in a draw for a free e-copy.

About Wildfire

Single mom Tara Rezeck moves to California after graduating from law school, in pursuit of a lifelong dream. Unable to find a position in a Bay-area law firm, she takes a job in the kitchen of a prestigious winery-restaurant in Sonoma County.

When wildfires ravage wine country, a burned body raises questions that the police are too overwhelmed to investigate. It’s up to Tara to discover her own skills as an investigator and rebuild her confidence.

Wildfire will publish on March 22, 2018.

About the author

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury can’t stay in one genre.

His first published book was The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, followed in 2013 with a “50 Shades” spoof, One Shade of Red, in 2013. Then came the first volume in his Eastern Front trilogy, Army of Worn Soles, a memoir telling the story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in the Second World War.

He has also written four mysteries in the Lei Crime Kindle World (based on characters and settings created by bestselling Toby Neal), two action thrillers in the Sydney Rye Kindle World (based on Emily Kimelman’s bestselling series) and a thriller in the JET Kindle World (based on Russell Blake’s Jet series.)

Visit Scott’s:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

Share

Monday Musings: Scott Bury’s year ahead

Share

As a follower of this blog, you have a lot of great reading to look forward to!

BestSelling Reads members released 48 new titles in 2017, alone. For a group of 17, that’s a prodigious amount that spans the gamut from romance to thriller to fantasy.

And I know our members are well on the way to publishing another 15 to 20 new titles in 2018—more great reading for our fans.

Over the next few weeks, BestSelling Reads member authors will reveal their publishing and literary plans for 2018. Today, it’s my turn.

A new mystery series

In 2017, I published three book, including the fourth installment of my my #LeiCrimeKW Hawaii Crime series featuring FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm, Echoes. Based on the very favorable response to those books, I have decided to start a whole new, stand-alone mystery series. This one features a young private investigator named Tara Rezeck (which means “risk”), a single mom and law-school graduate. The first book, Wildfire, is set in California wine country during the wildfires that devastated Sonoma and Napa counties.

  

A boxed set

Last year, I published the concluding novel of the Eastern Front trilogy, the true story of a Canadian-born citizen drafted into the Soviet Red Army during World War II. This year, I will release all three books together as a single boxed set.

I am also making all three volumes, Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War, available on all book e-tailers in addition to Amazon.

Historical fantasy

Finally, I will return to the series that started my career in fiction. I am hard at work on the second volume in the Dark Age trilogy. That began in 2012 with my historial magical realist novel, The Bones of the Earth, which was very well received by critics, reviewers and readers.

The sequel, also Book 2 in the series, will be called The Triumph of the Sky—and for anyone who knows my plot twists, you’ll agree that you won’t be able to predict where this one is going.

All in all, I think that’s a pretty ambitious plan for the next twelve months. Keep following this blog for updates.

Giveaway

I’ll give away a free signed copy of The Bones of the Earth to anyone who can answer this question:

What year is The Bones of the Earth set in?

About the author

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury can’t stay in one genre.

His first published book was The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, followed in 2013 with a “50 Shades” spoof, One Shade of Red, in 2013. Then came the first volume in his Eastern Front trilogy, Army of Worn Soles, a memoir telling the story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in the Second World War.

He has also written four mysteries in the Lei Crime Kindle World (based on characters and settings created by bestselling Toby Neal), two action thrillers in the Sydney Rye Kindle World (based on Emily Kimelman’s bestselling series) and a thriller in the JET Kindle World (based on Russell Blake’s Jet series.)

{“item”:{“showCaptionTitle”:true,”showCaptionDescription”:true},”lazy”:true,”src”:”data-src-fg”,”srcset”:”data-srcset-fg”}

Visit Scott’s:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

Share

What to give the fantasy reader on your list? A BestSelling Read!

Share

It’s getting to crunch time in the gift-buying season. What can you get the fantasy reader on your shopping list? A BestSelling Read, of course. And this it the perfect place to find great fantasy reads.

Samreen Ahsan

Samreen Ahsan’s award-winning A Prayer series is a romantic fantasy based on Islamic themes. Her new series, starting with Once Upon a [Stolen] Time, combines fantasy, science-fiction and time travel in a powerful love story that spans centuries.

Frederick Lee Brooke

The Drone Wars trilogy is a fast-paced, thrilling and chilling science-fiction series that peeks a few very short years into the future civil war that tears the United States apart.

 

Scott Bury

The Bones of the Earth breaks the mould of fantasy. Set in the real sixth-century Byzantine Empire, it tells the story of a young Sklavene named Javor who needs to find out how a dagger and amulet he inherited from his great-grandfather is connected to deep forces bent on erasing humanity from the face of the earth.

DelSheree Gladden

The Something Wicked This Way Comes series tells the story of young godlings finding their way in a world that doesn’t believe in them—and facing forces that want to destroy them,.

Her Twin Souls trilogy evokes Native American mythology in a reader-favorite series.

In the Aerling series, beings who are not ghosts depend on Olivia to guide them to their destiny.

DelSheree goes to the world of actual ghosts in her Ghost Host series, where poor Echo Simmons needs to learn what to do with the ghosts that haunt her YouTube channel.

Her Destroyer series tells the story of Libby, who’s person capable of destroying the world—so it’s no big surprise when she ends up with a Guardian blade at her throat.

Toby Neal

On the island of Lanai, teens from very different worlds must find a way to survive when all technology is destroyed, aided by a mysterious `aumakua dragon that may or may not be imaginary.

 

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas has crafted several fantasy series. Each book in the Daughters of Saraquel series focuses on one sister who has to learn what it means to Become, and how to live on the Estilorian Plane.

The Firstborn trilogy traces the story of the descendants of Saraqael as they embark upon their own thrilling adventures and race against time to save the Estilorian plane…battling for love along the way

The Ascendant series are New Adult novels intended for audiences over 17 years. It tells how secret lovers Kyr and Ty must save the planet of Alametria, even while its inhabitants are trying to kill them.

Subscribe to get this blog by email to keep on top of all the best new fantasies, mysteries, romances and thrillers that the avid readers on your gift-giving list will love.

 

Share

What to get the mystery lover on your gift list? A BestSelling mystery or two!

Share

The 25th is coming up fast, but you can give the gift the mystery reader will love. Just choose any of the titles from our bestselling mystery /thriller authors.

Eden Baylee stepped into the mystery genre with her psychological suspense bestseller, Stranger at Sunset. She took her taut, un-put-downable style into three mysteries in the Lei Crime Kindle World (based on the bestselling Lei Crime series by Toby Neal), featuring therapist Laney Lee and ex-SEAL Max Scott.

Claude Bouchard‘s Vigilante series has been a hit with readers since the first book, Vigilante. There are now 13 in the bestselling series, with the latest, Make it Happen.

Fred Brook‘s Doing Max Vinyl is a gripping and very funny book, and the first appearance of the bestselling Annie Ogden.

Scott Bury has written four mysteries in the Hawaii-based Lei Crime Kindle World, all featuring FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm and some of the readers’ favorite characters from Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series, like Pono Kaihale and Ken Yamada.

Seb Kirby hit the bestseller shelves with his James Blake trilogy, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More. His latest mystery is the psychological suspense revenge tale, Sugar for Sugar.

Toby Neal has two crime fiction series that are both bestsellers: The Lei Crime series, with 12 titles; and the related Paradise Crime series, now at five titles. The latest, Wired Dawn, came out just last week!

Renée Pawlish‘s Reed Ferguson Mystery series takes the noir thrillers of the past into the 21st century in tense, funny and compelling stories. Her Dewey Webb Mystery series goes back to the 1940s with darker, hardboiled detective mysteries.

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than 70 books, including four noir series in the Ambrose Lincoln series, set during the Second World War: Secrets of the DeadConspiracy of Lies, Night Side of DarkSecrets and Conspiracy and Place of Skulls. 

Share

Monday musings: On Cyber Monday, books and writing

Share

It’s Cyber Monday, the day when we’re all supposed to head to the online shops and buy electronics. Now, don’t worry—I’m not here to complain about the over-commercializations of the holiday. Not this time, anyway.

But this day every year is a good place to mark the evolution of our market economy. To observe just how much has changed in our shopping and buying habits.

It seems that the growth of digital e-books at the expense of paper has slowed. Maybe we’re reaching some kind of equilibrium.  We’ve learned the relative strengths and weaknesses of each, and are allowing both formats their space.

It also seems fitting that on Cyber Monday, two major Canadian newspaper chains are closing dozens of community newspaper. The owners say that in many communities, declining advertising revenue means the community newspaper business model is no longer viable.

Why not? The easy.analysis is to blame the eruption of online news and entertainment.

It’s an easy analysis, but it’s simplistic.

As many sides as a diamond

There are many sides to this shift. The newspaper industry has been decimated by the public shift online. Hundreds, if not thousands of journalists have lost what on time seemed a great career. Not to mention all the thousands of other Jo’s at a newspaper.

On another side, some journalists have made the shift online, themselves.And for readers, there is a vast  range of choice in new online sources for news and entertainment, and it”s so easy to find the information you want.

On a third side, there’s also a proliferation of “fake news” sources. I don’t know whether the proportion of deliberately false information online is greater than it ever was for print, but there sure is a lot of it, and people sure pay attention.

And on yet another side, there is the tracking by tech and social media companies of everything that we look at, read or buy.

Somebody’s making money. Who do you think it is?

Community newspapers are closing because there just is not enough money in the business. I know from personal experience how much cheaper online advertising is than for print—partly because of lower production costs, but mostly because of the different, per-click model, but mostly because when online advertising began,  no one knew what they were doing.

But someone is making money online. I’ll let you work that out for yourself.

Trying to stay optimistic

For avid book readers, this is a great day. So many of the authors I know are doing some kind of Black Friday or Cyber Monday launches, promotions,sales and announcements. And most e-book prices are a fraction of the cost of paper books.

Yes, there are a lot of really bad books out there. Because it’s so much easier and cheaper to produce an e-book, it’s also easier to find not only bad writing, but books produced by those who obviously have no clue to to format a book, or what punctuation is for. You can usually tell these by the amateurish covers, but not always.

Still, readers have a lot more choice. Which means it’s up to you to make good choices.

Good luck, and happy holidays.

 

 

Share

Thursday teaser: The Wife Line

Share

By Scott Bury

“Drink more wine,” a woman in a white micro-dress said to the nervous blond. “Try to relax.” She also spoke Czech, and had short red hair. Irina was glad she had not opted to dye her own hair. She touched the glass of wine in her hand to her lips, barely tasting it. Thin and sour. She tried to remember the last time she had eaten. Pavel was generous with pills and bad wine, but not so much with food. 

“Pavel said this would be a high-class party. We’re supposed to meet men who could be our husbands,” said the blond. 

Little fool, Irina thought. She took another tiny sip of wine. Stay sober tonight, she reminded herself. “I don’t think these men will be interested in wives,” she said in Ukrainian.  

“The husband option ended last week,” said the redhead, in Czech. “You had one month to become a mail-order bride. Tonight, men are going to select from us to be mistresses.” 

The blond girl’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open. “You had better smarten up and catch one of the men who are coming here tonight,” the redhead continued. “Because if you don’t, the next step is porn.” 

Irina stepped between them. “Stop it,” she said, voice flat. “You’re upsetting her more.” 

“Do you think lying will help her?” the redhead retorted in flawless Ukrainian. “It’s time she faced reality.”

Pavel came in then, short but powerful looking. His hair had been cut to stubble over his scalp, making him look even more dangerous than before. He carried two open bottles of his awful wine and started refilling glasses. “Speak English, ladies!” he boomed. “You are in England now.” He stopped in front of the redhead and refilled her glass. “Why are you not drinking? This is a party,” he said to Irina.” He turned to fill the blond’s glass. She was on the edge of tears. “If you cry I will break your arm.”

The blond girl impressed Irina by sniffling only once, turning her mouth into something like a smile and then drinking half her wine without coughing. Pavel turned to the redhead. “Make trouble again and I will kill you.” 

He left the room and as the door swung shut, Irina heard him booming a greeting. His guests had begun to arrive. 

The blond stepped closer to Irina. “Is she right?” she said in English.  

Irina stepped back and drank her own wine, suppressing a shudder. She wished Pavel had given her some pills instead. “It’s time to grow up, sweetie. Smile and be nice, and maybe you’ll get a man who isn’t too bad.”  

Pavel threw the door open again and shouted “Come in, ladies!” 

Twenty thin, beautiful young women in cheap but revealing party dresses filed from the hallway into the party room filled with middle-aged, fat and bald men in expensive suits. Every one of them had a drink in his hand. They cheered and ogled the women. At each corner of the room was one of Pavel’s men: young, muscular and grim, wearing cheap suits that did a poor job of concealing their guns.

Irina went in last. When she reached the doorway, she heard a low voice beside her say, in American-accented English, “Don’t you want to get out of this?” 

She turned, shocked. The door to the front room closed and in front of her stood a tall young man. There was no way he was one of Pavel’s “gentlemen”—he was far too young, and he wore tattered, cheap blue jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a cat on it. His blond hair hung past his shoulders as if he had not brushed it in a week and yellow stubble softened his hard jawline. 

She just looked for a few moments, wondering where he had come from. “Where else would I go?” 

“Back home,” said the blond man.

Irina snorted through her nose. “Back to what? Lousy job, good-for-nothing boyfriend, drunk parents, little apartment? Besides, Pavel would find me and kill me.”

“Not if all of you get out of here.” He looked at the door. “We don’t have much time. You’re the smartest one here. When the fire starts, get the girls out. Hide. There are empty buildings used by squatters two blocks west of here.” He pressed a piece of paper into her hand. “Memorize this phone number. It’s a government agency that helps trafficked women. Tell them Van sent you. Be ready to leave in five minutes.”

“What will happen in five minutes?”

“The security alarms will go off and all the doors will unlock because of a gas leak and fire.” 

“How will that happen?”

“I’ll make it happen.”

The door swung open again. “There you are!” Pavel shouted in Russian. She turned toward the mysterious blond man, but where he had stood was only empty space.

About The Wife Line

Human traffickers are selling young women from eastern Europe as sex slaves and killing them when they become inconvenient. Sydney Rye’s job is only to protect her client, until a mysterious, aggravating and irresistible young crusader pulls her and Blue on a far more dangerous path: taking down the whole slaving ring.

If you like Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye series featuring a strong female character, her canine best friend, Blue, tons of action and a dash of sex, you won’t be able to put The Wife Line down.

Start following Sydney, Blue and Van across the seamiest part of Europe right now.

About the author

Scott Bury can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has written in the Lei Crime (Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying, Echoes), Jet (Jet: Stealth) and Sydney Rye (The Wife Line, The Three-Way) Kindle Worlds.

His latest work is the Eastern Front trilogy: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

Get to know Scott from his:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

 

Share

In praise of the cliché

Share

Source: Commons Wikimedia

Writers are always teaching me, whether they know it or not. I’ve been editing and beta-reading manuscripts for a number of people this summer, and their words make me re-evaluate some ideas I held firmly for some time. And I keep coming to the same dilemma: at what point does trimming text and adhering to the current stylistic conventions begin to trample legitimate expressions of writing style?

Every writer has heard of Elmore’ Leonard’s “Ten Rules for Good Writing.” You can Google them easily enough.

Elmore Leonard

And it seems to me that the “rules” thrown around by those who claim to be publishing professionals and insiders are often contradictory. For instance, real professional authors don’t use adverbs much, if at all. I once heard an author in a radio interview claim proudly (there’s another adverb, damnit!) that he only had three or four adverbs in his whole book.

Then there’s the dilemma over dialog. “Never use a word other than ‘said’ to describe dialog,” advised Mr. Leonard. Also, never modify “said” with an adverb.

Meanwhile, I read some time ago that a large number of grade-school teachers across the US encouraged their pupils never to use “said” in their compositions. They could use “exclaimed,” “asked,” “replied,” “retorted” or anything else that made sense, but not “said.”

In providing a beta-read for a good friend’s new manuscript, I couldn’t bring myself to follow either rule. Now, there were times that I thought “said” was the right word, and I suggested that to my best-selling friend. But sometimes, as a writer, you want to describe how someone spoke. So you need either a stronger verb—which breaks Mr. Leonard’s Rule #3, or you need to describe with an adverb, which breaks rule number 4, or longer description, which breaks rule number 9 (“Don’t go into great detail describing places and things”).

Probably Leonard’s most famous rule is “Never use the words ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose.’” Usually, it’s good advice. If something happens suddenly, then you can usually find a stronger verb to describe it.

He came in suddenly. He burst into the room. And you never need to write “it burst suddenly.” A burst is a sudden thing.

But sometimes, “suddenly” is the right word. Here’s an example from my first book, The Bones of the Earth:

[Photius’] staff was glowing white, and [Javor] suddenly understood it had been the source of the white flashes.

I suppose I could have written it differently, but this phrase most efficiently conveys the meaning to the reader—that the character understood a cause-and-effect relationship in an instant, after a period when he did not. I could have written “the glowing stick made him realize in an instant….” But that would have taken more words.

Rules of writing, shmules of writing

Image: Flickr Creative Commons

In my own writing, I try to avoid clichés (like the plague, right). For a new client, I explained that removing or replacing clichés was part of my standard level of service, and she stopped me immediately (damn, another adverb). Clichés are part of her style. They’re part of the way she speaks and she wants her little expressions in her written work, too.

That made me think about clichés, and alter my opinion. Really, they’re a form of jargon. Words can have more than one meaning, and any phrase, sentence or longer writing works on several levels. It conveys the literal message, as well as memories and associations. That’s how advertising works—by associating a word, a message or an image, or a combination of them, with positive feelings. “Buy this stuff and you’ll be happy.”

We can think of clichés as our modern social jargon. Jargon does more than convey a specific meaning within a narrow group: it identifies the speaker or writer as someone in the know, part of the club. Current slang and clichés serve the same purpose. They tell the audience that the user is up to date, part of the in crowd. Using last year’s slang is also dangerous—it tells the audience you’re out of date.

In fact, using a cliché well may be the most efficient way to achieve your communications goal: to get a particular reaction from your audience.

And the way people use quotation marks in writing, or air quotes when the say a well-used phrase, is akin to a bibliographic entry. Quotation marks essentially mean that the words they contain are not the writer’s original work, but someone else’s. The writer or speaker who uses them is giving credit, or at least, admitting they’re using another person’s expression.

Maybe there is room in the professional, credible publishing world for description, for using clichés and words other than “said.” If we all follow the same style conventions, isn’t all writing going to seem the same? Isn’t diversity what we want?

Have I blown my credibility out of the water by daring to support that pariah of the writing world, the cliché? By arguing against Elmore Leonard?

“That’s just the way I roll,” I thought suddenly.

Share

Monday Musings: How many typos are acceptable?

Share

Wikimedia Commons

How important is the quality of editing to a reader?

My first job following university was as a “production editor,” basically a copy editor, for textbook publisher Prentice-Hall. On my first day, my new boss, Richard Hemingway—I’m not kidding—was showing me the ropes, explaining the steps I was expected to follow in quality control of books.

At some point during my orientation, I said something like “So I guess our goal is to produce the perfect book.”

Hemingway laughed. “I don’t think there has ever been such a thing as a perfect book.”

The value of errors

These many years later, I have to agree with him. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that did not have at least a couple of errors. Usually these are minor typos, the misplacement of an apostrophe or omission of a comma. And yes, even in professionally edited books from commercial publishers.

Ironically, many people collect first editions of old books, which they can identify by the errors that the publishers correct in subsequent editions.

I think there are more errors today in commercially published books than there were 30 years ago. I can’t say for sure, but I have this feeling.

One of the criticisms of independently of self-published books is that they do not meet professional standards for editorial quality. That is, there are too many mistakes—not just typos, but grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors. Continuity and logic mistakes. Low quality covers, and so on.

I have read a number of independently or self-published books that indeed were rife with errors that a professional editor should have caught.

But I have also read many excellent books from independent authors who published their own books. Great stories, believable characters, original writing, beautiful covers.

And I have read some books from major commercial publishers that also have a number of simple mistakes. And books that are just plain terrible, filled with bad writing, illogical plots, one-dimensional characters and clichés.

The commercial publishers have no monopoly on quality.

What is the problem with typos?

As a writer and an editor, the first rule I follow in publishing is this: you cannot effectively proofread your own writing.

It’s so easy to make mistakes. Your fingers hit the wrong key, or Auto-correct gives you “ethylene” when you wanted to type “Ethel.”

And no matter how many people read a manuscript before it’s published, somehow there are mistakes that slip through to the published edition, and then a reader will point it out.

Look through any commercially published book you like: how many have zero typos? But did they detract from your enjoyment of the story?

That’s the point: it’s the story that readers want: believable, relatable characters, an engaging plot, evocative description that brings you into the story.

Errors can give the reader the wrong idea—for example, when the author decides to change a character’s name midway through writing the book, but misses the change at a key point in the story. Or when Auto-correct gives you “turnip” instead of “tourniquet.”

Wikimedia Commons

At some point, a large number of minor errors becomes frustrating. It shows that the author did not care enough about the reader’s experience to follow the process necessary to produce a good book: have it edited by a professional editor, proofread by a professional proofreader. Submit it to beta readers and reviewers, and make the effort to correct the errors.

And have a professional cover.

It costs money and it takes time, but as all our parents and grandparents told us, there are no short cuts when it comes to doing something well.

Where is the dividing line?

But where is that point? Nothing is perfect, not even books.

How many errors can you tolerate before a book frustrates you? How many typos can you tolerate? What is the writing mistake that will turn you off a book?

What’s the worst mistake you ever found in a book?

Leave a comment.

 

Share

Monday musings: Chandler had it easy

Share

By Scott Bury

This post is re-blogged from Scott Bury’s blog of February 15, 2016.

I’ve been re-reading Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels in a probably vain attempt to capture the mood and inspiration to write my own crime fiction, and when I compare Chandler’s prose to 21st-century mystery, thriller and crime fiction, it seems that Chandler’s challenge was less than today’s writers’—or at least, very different.

The Big Sleep was Chandler’s first full-length novel, and the first to feature the tough, cool and sarcastic private eye, Philip Marlowe. The book became a bestseller quickly, and I think part of the appeal was the titillation factor: Marlowe finds the daughter of his client drugged, sitting nude in front of a camera. In 1939, drugs and pornography were very racy stuff, stuff not talked about in polite society. So racy, in fact that in the movie version made in 1946, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, that the Carmen character was wearing a “Chinese dress.” There was no mention of pornography, and the homosexual relationship of two minor characters was completely left out.

In a time when people make their own sex videos and publish them on social media, naked pictures are no grounds for blackmail. Today, it’s almost impossible to shock or titillate an audience merely by hinting at a character’s homosexuality.

Shockers sell books

No, this is not a Nicholas Sparks “white people almost kissing” theme. This is as steamy as Hollywood got in 1946.

New writers who reach bestseller status often do so with a taboo subject. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo launched Steen Larson into international fame with its depiction of Nazis in modern society, child sexual abuse and a main character with Aspergers Syndrome. To Kill a Mockingbird wrote honestly about racism in the American South. The Virgin Suicides’ eponymous theme was something that no one wanted to talk about in the early 1990s. All these books were the first novels published by their respective authors.

The problem with shock as a literary device is it only works the first time. Writers of popular fiction have to keep upping the ante. Occasionally, I toy with the idea of writing a noir detective novel for the 21st century. Which means I would have to trawl the seedy underside of a big city and bring to light the dirtiest laundry of wealthy society, and the desperation of those clinging to the edge of their economic class.

But for shock value, it’s hard today to expose sins worse than what we read in the news: sexual abuse of children by clergy; self-proclaimed moral guardians having sex with strangers in public washrooms; institutional racism and sexism; wars being fought over made-up crimes. And of course, the biggest and most damaging sin of all: the manipulation of the economy to impoverish a once thriving middle class by transferring their wealth into fewer and fewer pockets.

How to shock?

I could probably dream up some horrible new crimes, something to surely shock or perhaps titillate an audience. Beyond the potential damage to my own psyche, I hesitate to inspire some twisted reader to emulate my fictional horrors.

And that brings up another question: should I write to shock? I write to tell stories, to present characters reacting to situations, not to horrify my readers.

Which means today’s noir writers are spending more psychic time in deeper, dirtier dungeons than ever before, writing about more damaging sins.

Raymond Chandler. Image courtesy Venture Galleries

Does the noir mystery translate to the 21stcentury? Sure. Plenty of writers have published these dark, moody mysteries with flawed characters who succumb to all sorts of temptations since 2000. But it seems to me that the crimes are grislier, the suckers more depressed, the gangsters more bloodthirsty and the femmes even more fatal.

I was right. Chandler had it easy.

Share