When I was writing my first novel a friend asked me if I had a lot of sex in it. "Sex sells you know." I just laughed and didn't answer her. Yes, I know sex sells - magazines, books, movies, and many other things. But did I want my book to sell because it catered to prurient interests? No. I'm not a prude and not opposed to a story having some sex in it, as long as it is germane to the story line and not overly graphic. But I hoped my book would sell because if was a good story, well written.Why did I title this "Curious"? Because a few days ago my daily newspaper had a large banner covering the front section with the word "Curious" written across it. When opened there were two full page ads for the movie "Fifty Shades of Grey." I haven't read the book or seen the movie and don't intend to do either. Therefore I can't honestly critique the book or the movie. However, many book reviews by critics as well as friends of mine whose opinions I respect, have all mentioned the poor quality of the writing and the story line. So what propelled the book to such great success? The sex, of course. The author has made a great amount of money, as well as the book sellers, and movie producers. I read today that the movie opened with an extremely high gross, surpassing other movies on their opening day. So everyone's happy. Is anyone proud?
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Theodore Decker has already been abandoned by his father. When his beloved mother dies in a museum explosion, Theodore manages to escape unharmed, carrying a painting that his mother had admired. He keeps it hidden, afraid the authorities will find it and arrest him. Theodore is taken in by the wealthy parents of a schoolmate who are kind to him but he never feels like part of the family. When his father suddenly appears, with his girlfriend, Theodore is taken to live with him in Las Vegas. His father's occupation is shady and Theodore suspects illegal. Left alone most of the time, he makes the acquaintance of Boris, a street-smart Russian boy who introduces Theodore to the world of drugs and dishonesty. When Theodore's father is killed in an auto accident, he makes his way back to New York and moves in with an antique dealer, whose partner was killed in the museum explosion that killed Theodore's mother. Boris and Theodore reconnect when they are adults and enter a world of intrigue, unhappy love affairs, and more drugs. The painting figures prominently in the progression of this story, which is well written, but I think a bit over-rated. The ending is somewhat philosophical and left me dissatisfied. Does the painting get returned to the museum? Does Theodore get arrested for having a stolen painting? You'll have to read it to find out.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015
If you've published a book, then you're involved in promoting it. Like it or not, unless you're a BIG name author, if you want your books to sell, you must spend more time than you'd like marketing them. How you do it depends on the type of book you write, your identified audience, and many other factors that depend on your own willingness to pursue. I write mystery novels, set in southern California, with stories that unfold through the probation system where I worked. I include familiar local places throughout my books. My primary audience is those who live in my area and are mystery fans. One of the ways I acquaint people with my books is to ask those I meet in various local places if they read fiction. If they say "yes" then I offer them a flyer which provides brief information about my books, my background, and how the books can be obtained. This has led to not only sales, but to meeting many interesting people who have invited me to speak to their book clubs or other social groups. Recently I met Lorna at a local restaurant. She was having lunch with a friend and my husband and I were seated nearby on the restaurant patio. She graciously accepted the flyer my husband offered and subsequently bought my books. Lorna is an aspiring writer who recently moved to southern California. I invited her to attend our branch chapter of the California Writers Club, which she did, and our friendship is beginning to bloom. Lorna has faced some personal challenges in the last few years and moving to southern California is part of a fresh start for her. She has started a blog and I was so impressed with it that I wanted to share it with you. It is not only personal but uplifting. I hope that you will take the time to read it as we all go through difficult times and her encouraging words could benefit anyone. You can visit Lorna's posts at: www.ajourneytotheotherside.wordpress.com