As a big fan of the TV series, Castle, I was curious to read one of Richard Castle’s books. So, after much thought, I bought a copy of Frozen Heat. First let me say that there was much to like about this book. The plot was interesting. There were many twists and turns, a few surprises, and a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. Castle’s writing style is a little off-beat, yet entertaining. As a novelist myself, I often have a more discriminating and critical eye than the typical reader—especially when it comes to technical issues. Here are my gripes.
First off, the book is about 30 or 40 pages longer than it needs to be. I think there are passages that do not serve to propel the plot forward and they seem like fillers. There are also way too many characters. It seems that a new name pops up on every other page, and I found it often difficult trying to figure out who was who. Almost all of the dialogue is without attributes identifying the speaker. For the most part, it wasn’t difficult to figure out. However, many times I had to backtrack to be sure I knew who was talking. Lastly, this may sound petty, but in several scenes, the narrative is written through the eyes of multiple characters. One point-of-view per scene is the Golden Rule.
Overall, it’s a pretty good book and worth a read.
Well, after waiting 46 days for Thomas and Mercer, a division of Amazon Publishing, to evaluate Hypocrisy, my fourth novel, feeling as if I was awaiting the results of a biopsy, my editor sent me a very tepid and impersonal, five sentence e-mail informing me that they’re not interested in publishing it. When you consider that Amazon published my first three novels and that over the years I have cultivated great professional and personal relationships with many key players on staff at Amazon, it seemed rather cold and insulting for them to kick me to the curb with not so much as a phone call or believable explanation. My editor justified their decision by simply saying that they already had a few mystery/thrillers that take place in New Your City, and that my book would not “compliment” their current list. Really?
First of all, how many novels, TV thriller series, cop shows, lawyer shows and a gazillion other avenues of entertainment take place in NYC? Clearly, Amazon’s rationale doesn’t make sense. Yes, Hypocrisy takes place in NYC, but it’s a medical thriller about a conspiracy to suppress a cure for cancer and the storyline is imaginative and original. I would have much more respect for Amazon if they simply told me that the book is total crap and it’s utterly sophomoric. I can respect honesty—no matter how painful. But I have zero tolerance for B.S.
So, after a great deal of soul-searching, I have decided to self-publish Hypocrisy. It can be a risky business, but my prior books have done pretty well, particularly They Never Die Quietly and Resuscitation. So, my hope is that Hypocrisy can hitch a ride on the success of my first three books.
Stay tuned for more updates.
About three weeks ago I submitted a copy of my 4th novel to my editor at Amazon Publishing for her evaluation. In the past—long before Amazon Publishing evolved from a small operation with 10 employees and 5 authors to a Mega Publisher working with over 200 authors—I’d submit a manuscript and was reviewing a publishing contract the next day. Not any longer. They now ask you to wait 30 days for them to decide whether or not they want to publish your book. I guess this is called progress, but not from my point of view.
Although Amazon’s attitude, marketing strategies, and author relations policies far surpass those of the “Big Six” publishers in New York City, the intimacy that once existed between publisher and author is no longer a business model. In the early days, on any given day I could pick up the telephone, call my editor, or author relations manager, even the head honcho, and actually speak to them on the telephone. In this new age, I must cherish the phone numbers already in my contact list because Amazon now has a policy that prohibits any employee from revealing another employees phone number.
My editor promised a yah or nay by November 4th, which is rapidly approaching. What puzzles me and concerns me is the fact that to date, I’ve heard absolutely nothing from her. I wasn’t expecting her to hold my hand or give me daily progress reports. But I did expect that at some point during the 30-day evaluation she might at least touch base and give me a brief overview of her thoughts thus far. Maybe, considering the number of submissions she has to evaluate, my manuscript is sitting on the corner of her desk collecting dust. Maybe she’s so busy and overloaded with manuscripts that she’s either going to give it a quick read this weekend or extend the November 4th deadline. Whatever the case, I’ve chewed my fingernails down to the bone.
To preserve what little sanity I have left, I’m over 20,000 words into book #5. I think it has a thought provoking title: A Piece of You. Can you guess what it’s about?
For those of you who believe I left the galaxy, I’m letting you know that I am actually still occupying space on planet Earth. Since the day I created my web site/blog, time and time again I’d vanish and then apologize for my absence. As a novelist, I know that it’s essential for me to stay visible and to attract as many readers as possible to my web site. And the only way to accomplish that goal is to post regularly.
I haven’t updated my blog since June 2! That’s inexcusable! It’s also damaging to my writing career. Readers have lots of choices and if a writer doesn’t remain visible, his or her loyal followers will jump ship and a promising career can come to a screeching halt. So, here I go again; promising not to vanish for weeks and months, to update my blog regularly even if I only write two sentences. Keep me honest if I go back on my word. In fact, feel free to browbeat me. Enough said.
On a more productive note, it might interest you to know (I hope) that I just finished Hypocrisy, novel #4. I’ll be submitting it to Amazon Publishing in a day or so. Although they published my first three novels, there is no guarantee that they will publish my latest work. Each book has to stand on its own merits. I’m hopeful, of course, that my editor will fall in love with this book, but I’ll be biting my fingernails until I get the “verdict.”
Just in case you’re interested, Hypocrisy is a medical mystery/thriller about cancer research. It’s a compelling story that will make you ask lots of questions about our healthcare system and the politics of cancer treatments. I’ll let you know whether or not Amazon agrees to publish this book. Stay tuned for updates.
We’ve all heard the cliché, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, lunch may not be free, but if you want a FREE Kindle copy of I Do Solemnly Swear, my latest novel, just be one of the first 25 to request it. Simply go to: firstname.lastname@example.org and write, “Please send my FREE copy of IDSS.” That’s it. No tricks. No hidden agenda. No calls at three a.m. trying to sell you a time share in Bosnia.
So what are you waiting for?
PLEASE NOTE: This FREE offer is available only as an electronic download to a Kindle device. It is NOT available for the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, or as a physical copy. Also note that it is only valid for the first 25 people who request it.
Considering the number of gun-related deaths in the United States (3,300 since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut,) why would anyone with a grain of reason oppose comprehensive background checks?
The strongest argument for opposing any changes whatsoever to the 2nd Amendment comes from the NRA, gun manufacturers, and conservative politicians, who proclaim that the U.S. Constitution is an infallible document and should be preserved at all costs. Hogwash! No one wants to take away the right to bear arms. But those driven by common sense want to see some reasonable legislation that will help keep guns out of the wrong hands. I’ve heard all the clichés: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” “If a criminal wants a gun, he’ll find a way to get one.”
A black market does exist for guns, particularly assault weapons. But do you think for one minute that every criminal has access to these illegal weapons? So if background checks prevent just one would-be-gun-related death, then it would be the right choice to require that all gun buyers pass a background check. That one person could be your husband, daughter, or sister.
Also remember that the 2nd Amendment was written over 200 years ago. Times have changed. Society has changed. Technology has changed. When the 2nd Amendment was written, the only guns available were single-shot flintlocks. That’s a far cry from an automatic assault weapon with a 30 round magazine.
So, why would anyone oppose background checks? First, politicians who represent red states know that the majority of voters in their state are hard-core, pistol-packing cowboys. Any politician from a red state that backs any change whatsoever to the 2nd Amendment better update their résumés. But even more than politics is the stronger issue: money. Background checks will result in fewer gun sales. Fewer gun sales result in less profit. Need I say more?
So basically, we have powerful and influential lobbyists from gun and ammunition manufacturers, not to mention the NRA, who care more about the bottom line than human life. You may have a hard time admitting it to yourself. But how many times in history has the all-mighty dollar trumped reason, morals, and logic? Let’s just hope that Congress has enough integrity to do the right thing.
Sometimes life comes at you from all angles. The last few months have been a challenge both professionally and personally. I haven’t really felt well for a long time. Muscle aches. Lightheadedness. Overall, just feeling crappy. My doctors tell me there’s nothing wrong with me, but I know my body and something’s going on.
Trying to get an appointment with my primary care doctor is like trying to get an audience with the Pope. Whenever I try to make an appointment, his assistant puts me through the third degree. Most of the time, my doctor prefers to diagnose over the telephone, a practice that really solidifies my confidence in him. Yes, I know. The obvious is for me to find another doctor. But no matter who refers you, no matter how many reviews you read on Yelp and Angie’s list, you never really know if you’re going to connect with a doctor until you’re ill and it’s his-her job to figure out why.
I think the thing that annoys me most is the fact that doctors (yes, I’m generalizing), are great at determining what’s NOT wrong with you, but very poor at figuring out what IS wrong. Enough said.
Moving on, I finished Hypocrisy, book #4 a few weeks ago and sent it off to my agent for her evaluation. The good news: She loved the story concept. The bad news: She feels it needs some work before we submit it to my publisher. As you might imagine, after spending eight months banging away on the computer keyboard, working nearly every day, it was and is disheartening to hear that the book needs more work. I do find solace in the fact that nearly every author—including the heavy hitters—goes through this.
Instead of immediately tackling a rewrite, I thought it would be wise to walk away from the book for a while and start something fresh, hoping a new project would jumpstart my creative juices. Well, I’m about 9,000 words into book #5, titled, A Piece of You (yes, let your imagination run wild), and although I have the beginning and end pretty much figured out, the middle is posing a real challenge. Such is the life of an author. Sometimes this author-business makes a traditional 9 to 5 job quite appealing. Then again . . .