Horror, My Books, Writing

A Book Not for the Faint of Heart

Well, my latest novel, Forever, launched today. It’s available for sale on Kindle and the softcover should also be available in the next day or two. This launch is a bit low-key for me because I think I may not have been clear about the book’s genre in previous posts. So far, the reviews on Amazon and private comments from a couple of readers have fallen into two extremes. I may have written my first love it or hate it book.

Forever_postOne reviewer called it “very twisted” and took offense at the “graphic” sexuality and “profanity.” So, yeah, be forewarned—Forever is not like my other novels! It’s not women’s fiction, it’s not romantic comedy, it’s horror. It’s a book not for the faint of heart.

But at its heart, Forever is the story of a marriage tested by extreme circumstances. It’s the story of a husband and father, a good man, blindsided by a demonic entity. It’s the story of an ill-fated couple from a past century reincarnated in the present. I think it’s a great story, but then … I’m a Stephen King fan.

Sound like your cup of tea? Then start reading now on your Kindle or free Kindle app. I know, like most of us, you have a to-be-read list a mile long, so I’ll appreciate your devoting a few hours’ time to Forever. And if you do read it, please support me by leaving an honest review on Amazon.

Thank you!

Linda

Book Reviews, Opinion, Writing

Why give 4 stars to a book when the climax disappointed me?

I read Stephen King’s latest novel, Revival, this month. I didn’t look at reader reviews until after I finished the book. But I’d seen some quotes from professional reviewers who called it terrifying, scary, or horrifying. But then, King’s publisher wouldn’t choose to quote any reviewer who said otherwise, would they?

revival

When I checked the reviews at Amazon and Goodreads, I saw the majority of them had rated the book with four or five stars, but a considerable number, especially on Goodreads, had given only one star. Many of the low-raters cited the “ending” as their reason for dissing the book. It was clear from the comments they were not talking about the actual end of the book, which is an epilogue, but the climax of the story, which I also found disappointing, yet I gave Revival four stars.

Why give 4 stars to a book when the climax disappointed me? Simple answer: the fault is not Mr. King’s. Though the climax failed to terrify me as illustrious reviews promised, I was captivated by 399 of the 403 pages in this book.  I even correctly anticipated Jacobs’ final “healing.” On those remaining 4 pages, Mr. King described what horrifies him and, obviously, many other readers. But his vision didn’t horrify everyone, and some of those not scared rated this book with 1 star.

I’m an author, and I know it’s impossible to write a book that pleases everyone. If I were to write a horror novel that ended with a peek behind that “hidden door,” I would describe a far different scene—what horrifies me. Some readers would shiver in terror with me; others would shake their heads or maybe laugh. King’s vision didn’t horrify me, but because of the solid writing, the skilled storytelling in 99% of the book, I rated it with four stars.

Have you read Revival? How did/would you rate it?

Linda

Author, Voice, Writing

Author, author, speak to me!

I cried last night … twice. Reading the final chapters of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, did me in. The story was just that real to me. Throughout the book I experienced love and heartbreak, beauty and horror, fear and exultation because Hosseini is an excellent writer. And yet, not everyone agrees with me.

Engrossed reader.Have you ever experienced the shock of looking at the reviews of a book you loved and seeing that some readers hated it? Although more than 350,000 readers rated Hosseini’s book four or five stars at Goodreads, a shocking number gave it only one. Considering that the background of this novel is war-torn Afghanistan, I suppose some of those low ratings could be politically motivated. But what about the others?

I’ve loved all three of Hosseini’s novels. That’s not because I love reading stories set in Afghanistan or stories about the effects of war on people’s lives. So why is he one of my favorite authors? Why is Anne Tyler? Or Stephen King? Or Maeve Binchy?

Voice. It’s the author’s voice.

Often I open a novel that either a professional reviewer or a friend has assured me I’ll love, and I simply can’t read it. It’s not the subject, not the setting, not the quality of the writing that fails to excite me—it’s the author’s voice. That voice is not one I’m attuned to, which is neither my fault nor the author’s. And certainly, that alone is no cause for me to say it’s a terrible book.

The voices of the writers I prefer don’t all sound the same. I study them, copying whole pages by hand trying to understand what makes them sing for me. Word choice, syntax, tone, rhythm, etc. are all elements of writing style, but I think writers can have similar styles and yet the voice is different. There’s something more that defines voice. It’s an element lying below all the rest. Something that breathes life into the words. Something, I think, that can’t be learned.

Naturally, I wonder about my own writer’s voice. It’s still trying to struggle out of its chrysalis. I hope it’s on its way to being pure and honest and alive. Because then, someday, readers will count my voice among their favorites.

Linda

Author, Books, Fiction

What does this say about me?

Three weeks ago, the lovely author Darlene Foster tagged me to receive The Booker Award. The rules of this award say I’m to list five of my favorite books and then pass the award on to five other people. At first I read that as my five favorite books, which seemed an impossible job, but then I saw that little word “of”. I can do that.

Since then, I’ve paused at my book shelves many times trying to make choices. My reading tastes have changed many times through the years, and I don’t own a copy of every book I’ve read, so it’s possible I’m forgetting books I would have chosen. I found myself looking at some books and realizing I didn’t remember reading them at all, though I know I did. I considered choosing books to impress the literati, but I hate snobbery. So here are five OF my favorite books—and even more, five writers I admire.

For many years, I read everything Stephen King wrote, except the Dark Tower Series. I’ve read some of his novels more than once, but The Stand is my favorite. I’ve read it four times, including the uncut version.

When I read the description of this book, chosen for my discussion group, I doubted I would care much for it. War stories? Nah. Silly me. Tim O’Brien’s writing amazed me, and The Things They Carried has been on my best books list ever since.

I’ve read all of Anne Tyler’s books, even the one she wrote for children, and I’ve read many more than once. The first time I read Breathing Lessons, the main character annoyed me. But she also haunted me. So I read it again, and then I realized that I’d been annoyed by her because she was a bit like me. 🙂

For many years, I also read Maeve Binchy’s novels. I drifted away a time or two and then came back and caught up. Now, she’s gone, and I feel I should catch up again. I believe Circle of Friends was the first of her books I read. I became an instant fan of her talent for drawing the reader into her rich fictional world.

I’m a late-comer to Sherman Alexie’s work. I’d heard the name for many years, but I knew him only for his screenplay for Smoke Signals. I can’t remember how I ended up with a copy of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, but it sat in my to-read list for some time before I got around to reading it. Boy, was I sorry it took me so long. Alexie’s writing is magical. The voice in this book is one of the purest examples I’ve read. I’m now reading Blasphemy, his latest collection of short stories, and so far each one has blown me away.

I guess that’s an eclectic group of five, but that probably tells you something about me. Now I’m supposed to choose five people to pass the award to, but I rarely do that because often those I pick don’t care to play along. So if you’d like to share five of your favorite books on your blog, take the award and say I chose you. Or share on this page in the comments. I’d like to see your choices.

Books, Fiction, Life, Novel, Reading, Real Life, Writing

The problem with writing …

Are you a writer? Are you a reader? Do you divide your time equally between the two? When I started writing with the goal of publication, my reading time declined—particularly my fiction reading. And my non-fiction reading changed to consist almost exclusively of how-to write books.

During my years of devouring novels, I often thought how wonderful it would be to write my own. It never occurred to me that the authors of those books might not have much time to read. Although, apparently some writers manage to write and read at a pace I envy. Stephen King says, “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, mostly fiction.”

The year I was ten, I read 72 books for the Summer Reading Program. As an adult, that would have been my usual yearly average—before I began writing every day. In 2009, I  started keeping track of books read. That year, I read 24 books, 17 of which were fiction. I read 18 books in 2010, and 14 of them were fiction. I may have forgotten to include a few, but still those are pathetic totals. My to-be-read stack keeps growing (some added are yours), but it doesn’t appear I’ll do any better this year. Unless I change something.

You tell me: How many books do you average reading a year? Do you schedule your reading time?

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