Friday, 24 April 2009
One financial blog is predicting that Borders, the #2 bookstore chain in the U.S., will not survive the recession and will poop out on us in a year or so. It’s in financial trouble because it can’t keep up with the online bookstore Amazon and with sales of e-books.
My town doesn’t have a Borders, so this wouldn’t affect me much. But I have a lot of friends who will cry, because they love Borders. And I know there are a lot of other people out there who usually buy from Amazon but want Borders around so they can browse on occasion and actually touch and feel the books.
To these last people I say, GO INTO BORDERS AND BUY SOMETHING!
Perhaps this would be a shoring up of a business that’s doomed to fail. We are all headed to nothing but e-books and online shopping anyway. I don’t think so. I think the contingent of people who heart the physical bookstore experience and prefer print books is still very large. What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is the power they hold as consumers. Borders is going to succeed if you buy books from those stores. It is going to go bankrupt if you do not. The same is true of every cool art festival in your community, every interesting ethnic restaurant, every rock band...and every author. If you want to keep the art festival coming back year after year, if you want to eat at the restaurant and hear the rock band, if you want your favorite author to come out with a new book next year, you have to put your money where your mouth is. We all wish the artistic pursuits were art for art’s sake, but they are not. They are money-making endeavors, and if they don’t make money, they will end.
Now, the purpose of this post is not to convince all of you to rush out and buy my books so I can fund my vacation to Hawaii. If I were you and I had a choice between buying a new copy of Going Too Far and borrowing it from a friend, I would probably borrow it and save the $11 for something else. I personally make good use of my public library. I break down and buy books when the library doesn’t have them, or when I know they will be keepers I’ll want to read over and over, or when they are by my favorite authors whom I want to succeed.
But this is the key difference between me and many consumers of the arts. Because I am a writer, I understand all too well that my purchase and the purchases of readers like me will absolutely make or break the career of other new authors. If their books sell well within the first month after they’re released, their publishers will pay them to write a second book. (Yes, I said the first MONTH! There’s no waiting around to see what happens.) If their books do not fly off the shelves in the first month, their publishers will not want another book. If this happens, the author is even worse off than she was before she was published at all. She no longer has a publisher. She may be dropped by her literary agent also. She has a bad reputation as someone whose books don’t sell. If she is not completely discouraged, never to write again, she will probably need to start over in a new genre, with a new pseudonym.
The other side of this equation is that when you pay for a book that you know you’re not going to like, just so you can make fun of it, or when you pay to see a movie because you’ve heard how bad it is, you are simply ensuring that the author will churn and out more and more bad books forever, and all of them will be made into movies. Especially when the author has been successful, she earns more money per book, so buying a hardback by her is like driving up to her house and handing her a ten.
Further, the successful books crowd out the ones that aren’t so successful. You would think that in this age, with a burgeoning world population and a bookstore on every corner, that our selection of books would become broader. In fact, more and more shelf space is being given to fewer authors, with none left for newbies. This is not entirely the fault of the short-sighted bookstore. When you hear a lot about a book in advertisements in magazines and TV, when you see fifty copies of it in the store and think therefore it must be the book of the century...the publisher has actually paid for those ads and that space in the bookstore. In short, the publisher has purchased its place on the bestseller lists. And they do this for books that are similar to books that sold well last year. That’s why, whenever one book sells billions of copies, you start to see so many copycats. It’s not that we authors are uncreative. That’s what the publishers ask for, because that’s what you buy.
It’s all business.
Enter the independent book blog. It’s run by some random chick who loves books, is reading a lot anyway, and might as well publish her comments for the world to see. It has so much more power than you think. It’s a reader-to-reader word-of-mouth recommendation times a hundred because anyone in the world can access it, and it may be the one enterprise that can counter the juggernaut of Big Business. YOU can start a book blog. YOU can influence other readers’ decisions. YOU can go to Borders, browse the bottom shelf, and discover your new favorite book by an author you’ve never heard of. YOU can be this author’s hero, ensuring her long career by blogging about her book.
But first, you have to buy it.
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A big thank you to the glorious Jenn Echols for shining under the Author Spotlight this week. I think we can all agree that she made some fantastic points in her guest blog. I, for one, could not deal with reading a book without having the turn the page. I feel rather empowered at the moment, what about you?
Random blogging chick, Persnickety Snark out.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
Nominations are now open until the end of April.
Best Interviewer: That blogger who asks authors all the tough questions.
Best Reviewer: Whose reviews are almost better than the books?
Best Newcomer: A new, fabulous YA book blogger (Six months blogging or less).
The Golden Book Blog Award: This award is for the long-time blogger who deserves recognition for their commitment to making a star blog. The blogs that inspired you to start book blogging, the pioneers of YA book blog land. They know who they are.
Rules: You can nominate for one category, or you can nominate for all four. You cannot nominate more than four times, and you can’t nominate yourself. You can nominate someone who has already been nominated, though.
Nominate in comments section or email Steph.
Echols' The Ex Games will be in stores from October 6 and sounds like a cracking (snerk) read.
Going Too Far has the same feisty and humorous tone of your other books but the characters and situations are darker. Was this deliberate?
It started out as one of those other books, a romantic comedy. But it went dark on me, and rather than calling it back from the dark side, I decided to let it be what it wanted to be.
In my opinion, you are one of the best dialogue writers in YA.
That is really sweet of you.
How do you approach writing character interplay, making it snap, crackle and pop?
I have to say, there are lots of aspects of writing that are very difficult for me, but I never even think about dialogue. In fact, when I was revising my first novel, Major Crush, my editor asked me if I had been a screenwriter because the book was so dialogue-heavy. I had to go back and add description between the lines of dialogue so it wouldn’t read like a play.
Meg's reasoning for some of her bad choices is interesting and left me blind sighted. Where did that idea originate from?
When I’m not writing, I work as a copyeditor for medical journals, and some of the people I’ve read about have stuck with me. When you’ve been a patient, it’s not enough for doctors to heal your body--your mind must heal as well.
Who would you like to be trapped in a police car with?
My husband. I have not been trapped in a police car with him, but he did teach me to drive a stick-shift in his Mustang when we were 17.
Which YA author stirs up envy when you read their work?
I read Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore and thought, “This chick is smarter than me.” I’m really looking forward to her novel The Splendor Falls, which is set in Alabama like Going Too Far.
The Ex-Games is released in October (YAY), what are you working on at the moment?
I am waiting to see if the editor of The Ex Games wants to buy the new book I proposed. And I’m reading. And I’m painting the living room. Actually I’m about to go crazy because I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, which is extremely unusual for me.
Is John based on anyone ... and can I have his number?
Sorry! LOL! You are not the first person to ask, which makes me very happy, because it means I’ve done my job. :)
Thank you so much Jenn!
Jenn's website can be found at http://www.jennifer-echols.com/
Her blog here - http://jenniferechols.livejournal.com/
The comics thing is relatively new and has taken a back seat to the obsessive YA reading. But when I saw this today, my geeky heart was all aflutter.
But my man, Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) is looking supremely mutant-y as well, even on public transport.
I have been waiting on tenterhooks for this interview to be aired and available for podcast. Last week, Australian radio station ABC conducted an interview with The Forest of Hands and Teeth author, Carrie Ryan.
You can go to ABC radio here.
To read Carrie's thoughts on the interview, click here.
In this interview you can hear:
- a discussion of her sources of inspiration
- a reading from The Forest of Hands and Teeth
- a discussion of the establishment of a romance within a zombie world
- how Carrie feels about winning over readers with zombie prejudice
- Carrie lists which author's work freak her out
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Sixteen-year-old Cass McKenna would take the company of the dead over the living any day. Unlike her high school classmates, the dead don't lie or judge, and they're way less scary than Danielle, the best-bud-turned-backstabber who kicked Cass to the bottom of the social ladder in seventh grade. Since then, Cass has styled herself as an avenger. Using the secrets her ghostly friends stumble across, she exposes her fellow students' deceits and knocks the poseurs down a peg.
When Tim Reed, the student council V.P., asks Cass to chat with his recently-deceased mom, her instinct is to laugh in his face. But Tim's part of Danielle's crowd. He can give Cass dirt the dead don't know. Intent on revenge, Cass offers to trade her spirit-detecting skills for his information. She isn't counting on chasing a ghost who would rather hide than speak to her, dealing with the retaliation of an angry student, or discovering that Tim's actually an okay guy. As Tim sinks into a suicidal depression, Cass has to choose: run back to the safety of the dead, or risk everything to stop Tim from becoming a ghost himself.
The premise of this book sounds a little a movie called The Frighteners that I absolutely adore. It's not really all that similar except for the protagonist using their ability to speak to ghosts to con others. Here's to hoping that it will be released here shortly after it's US debut!
Jenn's been kind enough (whilst mocking my Australian spelling) to allow me hit her with the PSnark Reader's Snapshot. Take it away....
Which book is memorable from your teen years?
The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin. I happened upon it in a used bookstore. It’s a YA fantasy allegory, not a genre I would normally enjoy, but the gorgeous writing on the first page hooked me. It’s a great story and sooooo unexpectedly sexy. I think I have gone through three copies.
Describe your high school English teacher in three words...
Calm little firecracker.
She was this tiny woman who somehow had enormous control over even the wildest ninth grade boys in the room. She made us keep creative journals in which we could write diary entries, poems, or short stories. That got me in the habit of writing every day.
Your book of the moment?
I’m reading When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, and Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell, the author of Rambo. I am not kidding. But he gets very upset when you call his novel Rambo. It’s actually called First Blood.
What do you use to mark your page when reading?
I have a collection of bookmarks my son has made me at school. If not one of those, the library receipt. If not that, I am one of those horrible people who fold down pages! I am sorry.
Favourite place to read?
On my screened porch, which is on the second story and surrounded by trees, so it’s like being in a treehouse.
Favourite book store?
It closed! Oxford Bookstore in Atlanta was one of those stores crammed to the brim with books and art and weird trinkets. You could probably buy any book there--it was just a matter of finding it. It was definitely a store for the browser. My mom would take me there and we’d spend hours there every time we went to Atlanta.
Character you wish you had created?
Poor Quentin from The Sound and the Fury. But if I had created him, he would have lived happily ever after.
Bonus Question - Best Mariah Carey song?
“Touch My Body” from the Going Too Far soundtrack, of course! (You can find the whole soundtrack here: http://jennifer-echols.com/goingtoofarchapter.html.)
My review for Going Too Far can be found here. Jenn will be back tomorrow with an interview that covers getting John After's digits!
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
For sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, the out-of-control dream comes true when her dad enrolls her at Red Rock, a bogus treatment center that claims to cure rebellious teen girls. At Red Rock, Brit is forced into therapy and her only hope of getting her life back is in the hands of an underqualified staff of counselors, a hardass Sheriff and a cruel shrink. Brit’s dad thinks Red Rock can save her, but from what? Brit thinks that the place is doing her more harm than good.
No girl could survive at Red Rock alone—but at a treatment center where you get privileges for ratting on your peers, it’s hard to know who to trust. For Brit, everything changes when she meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie, four girls who keep her from going over the edge. Together, they’ll hang on to their sanity and their sisterhood while trying to keep their Red-Rock reality from becoming a full-on nightmare.
Review - Having read two Gayle Forman titles now I can attest to them being a very quick read. Whether this is attributed to being awesome or being shorter than some YA novels or being extremely well paced or a combination of the three, I don't know. Having loved If I Stay so much I was a little scared to read Sisters in Sanity, how could it compare?
I shouldn't have worried.
Forman has again demonstrated her wonderful skills in characterisation, crafting a group of girls that are as different as night and day. Each girl is clearly depicted without ever being cliched or contrived. They are strong, flawed and generous with one another which results in the relationship that unites them in the toughest of circumstances. I loved seeing a group of teen girls accept one another without judgement, supporting one another. They aren't cookie cutter perfect, they wouldn't be in Red Rock if they were. Yet the events of the book depend on the reader's conviction that these five are united. There's no doubting that with the fantastically honest, revealing and sometimes humorous interplay between them. It's easy to find yourself involved deeply in their plight.
Brit, V, Bebe, Cassie, and Martha have found themselves in this hell hole as a result of being deemed challenging, promiscuous, bi-curious and overweight. All have been diagnosed as ODD (Oppositionist Defiance Disorder) by an unqualified hack, a diagnosis that could encompass all teenagers with ease. Even more shocking is that the events of these books have been inspired by real life circumstances, teens being kidnapped and placed in the confines of radical boot camps or behaviour modification centres.
Our protagonist, Brit, is struggling with her mother's desertion, her father's remarriage to the Stepmonster and a burgeoning interest in being a guitarist. She doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't fornicate but with her pink streaked hair, tattoos and piercings, she is deemed to be anti-social. From the first chapter I felt this character's pain and I was with her every step of the way in her attempts to withhold from the staff, remember Jed, cope with her father's cowardice and fight to retain the essence of herself.
This is a moving tale of sisterhood, trust, hope and self-belief. Forman has a talent in balancing a story, never allowing it to become overwhelmingly dire while embracing the humour in the most unlikely of situations. There is also the through line of music, like If I Stay, Brit is a musician with a love interest that plays in a band. Songwriting and her new friends become Brit's salvation in a situation that sees no end.
It's no secret that I have a huge literary crush on Gayle Forman. Sisters in Sanity is written in the same style that grabbed many of us in her sophomoric effort, If I Stay. With Sisters in Sanity coming out today in paperback I would highly recommend that you buy yourself a copy.
Format: Hardcover, 290 pages
Origin: USA_ _ _
"I've Got Your Back" mp3 of song Brit writes in the book
Which sister are you? Survey (I'm Martha, if you are interested)
Gayle's article for Seventeen that inspired this novel
Bernard Beckett - Jolt
Text Publishing - 6 April, 2009
"I should tell what little I know about how I came to be here. I remember the five days up in the bush after the earthquake, but they are part of the Doctor's story and I will write this separately to keep this in order." Pg.9
Monday, 20 April 2009
Summary - This is my first non-fiction book review on Persnickety Snark and as such I have chosen not to allot a grading. Though I have used many in research as both a student and a teacher, I haven't explored them enough in a critical manner.
As the teacher of a class full of kids that are fascinated with the actions of real life crims, I can see this being a popular book. As a non-fiction read for the YA set, it's set out remarkably well to assist with navigation. It's broken down into manageable pieces that make it easy to read over a length of time. Louise Prout has contributed illustrations of the infamous Aussies that have perpetrated a multitude of interesting crimes.
As someone who took great pleasure in reading about the exploits of Jack the Ripper, this would have rocked my socks as a kid. It's written in an easy to read style that's matter of fact, giving details but not being overly gruesome. There's also a sense of humour present that is fitting and lightens what could be quite extreme subject matter.
Bursztynski tackles crimes from cannibalism, identify theft and planned executions. There are some doozies too - Pyjama Girl, who's head was preserved in formaldehyde as evidence and the arm that was coughed up by an aquarium shark. Something I really liked is there's an even distribution of male and females covered within the book's pages.
Much of Australia's criminal history is covered from the first seafarers, to convicts, bushrangers through to present day. It's an impressive collection of interesting tales backed with research. I loved that a recommendation list was provided at the conclusion of the book. Inevitably there are kids that want to read more and as a teacher/librarian, Bursztynski has the background to suggest other quality resources.
Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
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Sue Bursztynski Official Website
Sue Bursztynski's blog
It's 1956 and four kids are hanging out on the beach. Little do they know that a killer has begun to stalk them, one by one. Now, on the same golden sands nearly 40 years later, Ashley, Ross, Lucy and Kip are enjoying the same beach. Until history starts to repeat itself.
I would have been in year four, I think. I can remember there being some sort of weird plot twist that I didn't see coming. But I also remember this as my favourite RL Stine book - why? It's the only title I can remember, I think it scared me a little and it came out before Goosebumps became bigger than Susan Boyle. I remember very little so it shall be interesting to see how it reads seventeen years later.
Beach House Commentary:
- My first wince was over the description of a character with " dramatic brown eyes". How do eyes become dramatic, do they have tantrums and storm out of their eye sockets? Beginning to regret this. Apparently Maria's dramatic eyes match her dramatic looks, sigh.
- Page six and I can remember what happens in the book. (I can't remember my left from my right but I can remember the plot of a Stine book 17 years on?)
- A rotisserie chicken has more character development than these characters. Would it kill the man to use 'strange' instead of 'weird' in every description of Buddy.
- LOL Comparison made between studly guy and Matt Dillion. That really doesn't fly anymore, mentally swapping Matt for Zefron. OMG Vanilla Ice comparison made, someone stop him already!
- "I've always wanted a house with wings" must stop laughing.
- Ashley is lusting after a guy that scares her. See there was a precursor to Twilight! And Buddy's wearing blood on his shirt. It's still wet, he uses the old 'cutting myself making a sandwich' excuse. Yep, that'll fool them every time in 1956.
- Okay let me get this straight - Buddy has blood on him, Stuart is found dead in the immediate vicinity of Buddy's house, Stuart humiliated Buddy and no one thinks he's even a suspect? People in 1956 are stupid.
- "Boogie boards can't spring leaks, you dork", apparently plots can though!
- "In his shy way, he's coming onto me." Excuse me while I hurl.
- They went to a Chevy Chase movie tee hee.
- Okay I am sorry, but even a murderous teenager time travelling from present to 1956 would know who Elvis Presley is.
- "No one lives here, everyone dies here" whahahahaha. OMG this is dumb.
- Maria's back as the crazy housekeeper, Mary complete with scars and wild eyes. She's getting her revenge. She even knows all the techno mumbo jumbo about the house. It's a way station, built on a time warp. Well I guess we know what the Lost writers read when they were younger.
If a sixteen year old with a tendency to be serious, loses his brother when exploring house, he will most likely come across a house that's built on a time warp allowing himself to travel back to 1956. Once there he will get depantsed (yes, depantsed) which will trigger a murderous rampage of teens in 1956.
Moral to this story, don't depants people.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Gayle Forman tallking about how music influences her writing
For more Gayle awesomeness (including how much she loves us all) check out Khy's post about Gayle's reading and Q&A in LA this past week. Jordyn also attended and will be posting in the future about the Q&A session.
I have two Australian titles this week and both are by debut writers.
Brown Skin Blue - Belinda Jeffrey
June 01, UQP
My mum's skin is white, my skin is brown and I have a blue birthmark.
Two secrets rule my life.
One is something I need to know and the other is something I need to forget.
They won't let me go.
Some people say you can't death roll with a beast that has survived a million years and live to tell the story.
Or can you?
Loathing Lola - William Kostakis
Fifteen-year-old Courtney Marlow didn't exactly think it through. She thought the offer to have her life broadcast on national television was the perfect solution to her family's financial troubles.
She was wrong.
Mackenzie Dahl, the show's producer, promised to show Australia a real teenager. Courtney was going to be a positive role model, someone on television without a boob job and an eating disorder.
But as events in her life are deviously manipulated to create drama, Courtney begins to realise that 'ordinary' does not translate to 'entertaining'.
Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame via a little bit of Courtney – especially her conniving friend Katie, and her stepmother, Lola. But Courtney is not the pliant teenager everyone seems to think she is...
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Skinned - Robin Wasserman
June 01, Simon & Schuster
Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular. Until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life. Forced to the fringes of society, Lia joins others like her. But they are looked at as freaks. They are hated...and feared. They are everything but human, and according to most people, this is the ultimate crime - for which they must pay the ultimate price.
Envy - Anna Godbersen
May 04, Penguin
In high society nothing is more dangerous than a scandal. Two months have passed since the esteemed Holland family's shocking fall from grace and those watching the impetuous Miss Diana Holland are beginning to whisper again.
Further uptown, notorious cad Henry Schoonmaker and his new bride are the city's most celebrated couple. But the glittering diamond she wears hasn't yet brought her all she desires.
Manhattan's most envied residents appear to have everything: wealth, beauty, happiness.
But in a city ruled by reputation, sometimes the most practised smiles hide the most scandalous secrets . . .
Split by a Kiss - Luisa Plaja
Online, Random House UK
It's the story of a British girl who goes to live in the USA for a year and faces some big challenges and choices, mostly to do with snogging a certain ultra-hot boy. After the kiss, she splits into two girls and goes down two paths at the same time. On one path she is in with the coolest of the cool, and on the other she... isn't. Does either route lead to happiness? And how will she ever be herself again?
I would like to also say that IMM for me has been a great source of discovering authors I would have otherwise not known or read. If it weren't for IMM, I wouldn't have read the amazing Jenn Echols! A travesty indeeed. Let's treat IMM in the way in which it deserves, as a means to shine the spotlight on author's works.
**Note - The release dates mentioned are all Australia specific.
This idea was the concept of Alea and Kristi.