She’s also not a team player and she has bad listening skills.
I’d blogged about it before and, it appears to have happened again. Another broadside at book bloggers. This time it comes from the Los Angeles Review of Books and before you click the link, a warning: it’s nasty, mean-spirited hatchet job or what I like to refer as “a drive-by smear”.
There’s a hell of a lot of disgusting stuff said about book bloggers in William Giraldi’s review of Bill Henderson’s Rotten Reviews Redux: A Literary Companion, but what I find ironic is, gasp, the piece is a blog post. A really. Really. Long. Blog post.
At any rate, I needn’t go into the details of what kinds of things are said about bloggers, instead; I’m wondering if authors like Henderson have been living in a cave for the past fifteen years. Blogs started appearing in the late 1990’s and book blogs were among the first. Here we are at the end of 2012 and people are just starting to notice?
Look, I don’t know why 2012 seems to be the year the literary establishment decided it would be a good idea to start slamming bloggers for the quality of their literary criticism, but it’s started and I don’t expect it to end any time soon. I have a couple of theories why literary critics have chosen to attack bloggers and chief among them is social networking. There is a massive social component to book blogging with tools that one can add to their blog to connect with readers and other bloggers to the monstrously successful web presence that is Goodreads. The entire point of Goodreads is to socialize with books being the central focus.
And guess what? At a period of time when publishing itself is undergoing a massive transformation the likes of which haven’t been seen since the printing press was invented, I guess it makes sense for the old school literary establishment to rail against change. Change is scary. Change is unpredictable. And change in publishing is necessary – I think everyone I know who works for a publisher or who might be an agent recognizes that need for change.
But … why single out bloggers? See, that’s what I’m not getting here. Given that book stores are closing all over the place as the market shifts from brick and mortar stores to buying online, why in the world would anyone wish to snipe at the very people who have the capacity to drive sales of books? Giraldi writes,
“our present climate of criticism — a climate in which the Net has spawned a cacophony of gabble impersonating literary comment, palaver and vulgate enough to warp you.”
So it’s the quality of the commentary from bloggers that’s being questioned? Because someone who loves books had the audacity to create a book blog and review something they are passionate about?
Again, um, wow.
I need bloggers to review my books and spread the word because I have no other means by which to do so. I write urban fantasy – Canadian urban fantasy. I’ve tried like mad to get Canadian newspapers to review my books and do you know how many have appeared in print? None. Not one. (I have a file on a flash drive with more than forty emails I sent to newspapers offering a copy of one of my books in exchange for an honest review and do you know how many emailed back? Zero.)
Whereas my novel POLTERGEEKS has received 97 reviews on Goodreads – a site whose membership is somewhere around ten million. I need people to hear about my books and for that I need bloggers, it’s as simple as that.
As for the quality of literary criticism, the last time I looked there weren’t any programs in the Faculty of Fine Arts at my local university that offered course in literary criticism. I’ve often wondered how one becomes a literary critic in the same way I’ve wondered how one becomes a restaurant critic. And by the way, at least the restaurant critics aren’t railing against the emergence of restaurant review blogs and review sites.
Alas, I fear we’re going to be exposed to more vitriol as the old guard fades away, and that’s what Giraldi’s piece is – a last faint flicker before the dust settles on critique from an age when the term “social media” hadn’t yet been conceived.
Hang in there bloggers and … you know, don’t take it personally. They don’t get it – but you do.
Yes, I know some Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry books made my list and I know I’m an author for Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry books. I just happened to get a chance to read a bunch of my publisher’s books this year so there you have it.
At any rate, here are my faves for the year.
I reviewed this book a few months ago and I said it was one of the best books of the year. It still is. I loved Holm’s first book DEAD HARVEST, but there was something special about this one. We get to see more into Sam Thornton’s dark past. (He’s Kadrey’s Sandman Slim, but, you know … he’s not a dick. He’s a good guy.)
We learn more about his dark bargain and the reasons why he is beholden to the guys downstairs. There’s demons addicted to skim – a bloody brilliant plot device that I wish I’d thought up. It’s one part road story, one part buddy movie and 100% entertaining throughout. If you haven’t read it, go out and buy it today. I haven’t cared this much about a protagonist since the first time I read a Harry Dresden novel.
I read this one wayyyyy back in January and I loved it. Yep, it’s chick-lit and yep, I’m a dude. Big deal. (I’m a dude who writes bad romance so I read chick lit. Whatever.)
What worked for me is the fact that this story is about a Canadianized East-Indian girl looking for love in big city Toronto. There’s a clash of cultures, sister-sister angst, an arranged marriage the protagonist is dead set against and a year-long voyage of self discovery that is funny as hell. It’s cleanly written, has larger than life characters and for all intents and purposes, should have a movie deal. Yo Hollywood – go buy the rights to this book. Trust me!
She is the most electrifying new character in dark fantasy today. Period. End of story. She is a train wreck. She is visceral. She is relentless. She is damaged goods. You get skin-on-skin contact with Miriam and she sees your death. It might be five minutes from now or five decades from now – you just never really know … but Miriam knows.
Chuck Wendig knows how to write. He’s been talking about writing for years over at his blog – Terrible Minds. It was a tossup between the first in the series, Blackbirds, and this one but in book two we see Miriam taking the whole idea of testing fate to insane levels. I am going to make a prediction – if there is no movie deal yet, there will be. Read this book.
Carrying on with the theme of damaged goods, Broken is heart wrenching take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – but with a teen romance twist.
I read it as part of my ongoing attempts to write better romance, because the author is a bud of mine and because I was quite prepared to offer a blurb. There were a number of recurring themes throughout the book. Perhaps the most significant theme is that of loss – the concept of loss simply bleeds through the pages as you follow Em and Alex amid some seriously dark stuff going on in the background.
Hauntingly written with a plot that can choke up a cranky old fart like me, Broken is a must read for those who are tired of the same old teen paranormal romance stuff that’s been done to death.
I love Keren’s books. I read When I was Joe, the first in this series last year and it made my Top 5 list. Almost True is a continuation of Ty’s story – in book one, he had the misfortune of witnessing a murder and had to go into witness protection along with his mum. New name, new school, new life and someone on your tail. In book two, there’s the continuing threat to Ty and some secrets about the people Ty is hiding with that can be summed up with one word F-A-M-I-L-Y.
Keren does a remarkable job of making Ty sound masculine. No easy task when the author is the opposite gender – my protagonist in Poltergeeks is a girl – I had to make her sound genuine and that was hard work. It’s a fast-moving novel and in many ways, it’s kind of ground breaking as a series. There’s a culture of violence among many teen males and Keren explores this with poignancy and authenticity. It’s gritty, it’s got high drama and is a bit of a thrill ride. Don’t miss it!
I thought I might post the occasional deleted scene from POLTERGEEKS, and here’s the first one. It’s a scene where Julie is about to call out the spirit of Matthew Hopkins for the epic battle to come and where she comes to realize that she is very much in love with her best friend Marcus. As I’ve long lamented, I basically suck at writing romance and scenes like this were the hardest part of the revision process. The good news is I had excellent advice from my agent, her former assistant (now full blow agent) Ella Kahn and of course, the keen eye for detail and authenticity that is my editor Amanda Rutter. The scene below was replaced with a very poignant email to Julie in which Marcus takes the biggest risk of his life because Julie is the center of his universe and he might wind up being rejected. So, here’s the deleted scene … enjoy!
I shut the water off and stepped out of the shower to dry myself. I should have been terrified about what I was about to do, but the attacks on me and those I loved fueled a simmering anger and a desire to strike back.
I think Marcus liked it too, actually.
I hung up my towel on the back of the door and ran a comb through my damp hair. Marcus had stood by me, God love him, just like he said he would. It made sense for me to ask that he go home and wait to hear from me, but I knew that would fall on deaf ears. He’d already had a near-death experience tonight and it only acted to reinforce his resolve to be there for me, even when I was being a high maintenance you-know-what.
I decided that my feelings for Marcus had only grown stronger since the attack on my Mom and maybe it was the danger and the possibility of both of us getting killed, who knows? In the past, there was no way in the world that Marcus would hold my hand or put his arm around me out of his own accord. (Okay, his screaming like a girl when the Volatilis allowed me to defy gravity was kind of lame.)
Within minutes I was back down in the lab when I noticed my laptop was still open. I walked over and was about to shut it down when I saw the flickering image of the end of the YouTube video showing the attack on those poor dogs. I clicked on the browser icon and up popped four windows from my task bar. I clicked on the first two and saw that Marcus had been posting to his blogs again, but I didn’t recognize the third one.
I squinted at the header. “Passive Ramblings of a Smitten Soul?”
That didn’t sound like Marcus at all, so I read the latest blog posting simply entitled “So Damned Close.” What I read took my breath away:
She can spot the faintest traces of goodness in people and despite everything she’s been through, she’s keeping it together and I’m blown away by that. I want very much to see all the faint and wispy shadows that hide in dark places as she does but she shields me from the blackness and I’m at a loss for how best to tell her that I want so much to explore all those inexplicable anomalies alongside her. I held her hand, though – for me, that’s pretty huge. Her skin felt like warm velvet against my fingertips and I could have sworn that she squeezed my hand back. Did she?
I’d like to think this means she feels the same way as I feel about her – I mean it has to, right?
God! I have to stir up the courage to tell her how I feel and I came really close to doing it yesterday. Maybe my dorky moves left her speechless but I told her she was beautiful. She is so incredibly beautiful to me and I just wish she knew how I feel when … I don’t know… like when her red hair catches the afternoon sunlight that beams through the windows during Social Studies, you know? (As a side, I’m pretty sure her DNA has provided her with the right kind of genetic code that allows her hair to actually collect sunlight better than any Catadioptic Monoblock. Okay… that was really dorky sounding.)
Oh man … I am totally going to look like an imbecile of apocalyptic proportions if I open up to her, but I know that I have to do it. Anyway, there was a moment when I thought I might finally kiss her but it didn’t work out. Gastric issues … sigh. It was cute, though.
I’m going to ask her out, this much I know. I need to ask her out … soon.
I gulped for air.
It was a secret blog.
Though it was written anonymously, the posting was a pretty accurate depiction of our ‘almost’ moment yesterday, before my stupid stomach decided to step in and ruin everything.
I scanned the right column and saw the blog archive dated back a full three years. Holy crap! The guy I’d known since grade school had been writing daily devotionals that were honest expressions of pure joy he felt whenever he was near me. I could feel my throat tighten as I scrolled down and read other blog postings with headlines like “Planetarium Laser Beethoven Show” and “Stale Nachos, Flat Cola and Loud Robotic Explosions”. I felt my eyes well up with tears as I read a posting about how he’d been counting his heart rate whenever he was near me and there was a full month’s worth of readings!
My heart quickened as he described how he would sometimes walk past my house when I was away on vacation with my mom because even though I wasn’t home, the mere fact that he could look up at my bedroom window and know that I slept there helped him deal with the fact that he missed me terribly.
Marcus actually missed me.
I allowed myself a long and very heart-wrenching sigh. I held my hand over the keyboard and bit my lip hard because I wanted to put something in the comment section to tell him (anonymously) that I felt the same way he felt. I was just about to do it, too, but I had to stop myself. I didn’t want Marcus to think I’d been snooping on him.
I decided that when all this was over, I’d tell Marcus that I’d read his blog. I’d throw my arms around him and let him know how he touched my heart and that I felt the same way about him too.
All I had to do was to survive the night and save my mother’s life.