the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘writing

Friends, I’m so thrilled to be hosting author Julie Czerneda today, I can’t even.  I know ya’ll remember when I went absolutely nuts over her Species Imperative trilogy (biology FTW!), when I wrote an accidentally spoilery review of the most recent Clan Chronicles novel This Gulf of Time and Stars, and how much fun we had with hosting her for an AMA.  Her newest Clan Chronicles novel, The Gate to Futures Past doesn’t hit bookstore shelves until September, but today is the big cover art release party!  I’ll be posting throughout the day with more artwork and more inside scoop, but in the meantime, let’s here from the author herself about how she keeps track of this generation and galaxy spanning epic. . .

Author Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

Author Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

scroll artwork

Holding Nothing Back

a guest post by
Julie Czerneda

 

 

 

The room could be in any seedy backwater motel. Inside, however, is an open suitcase, its contents strewn over the unmade bed: three hats; four cell phones in their original packaging; a small hatchet, its blade edged in what looks like rust. Oh, and a lab coat, scrunched into a ball.

By the bed is a night stand; on it are pieces of what had been the hotel phone.

Protruding from the bathroom are a pair of dirty boots, toes up. It’s only then you realize they contain feet.

Two things just happened. You guessed what you’re reading: a murder mystery, with clues being presented. And, perhaps without even being aware, you began a story of your own, a plausible scenario based on this room.

And those feet.

Now comes the test. What’s next? If your scenario fits the rest of what you read, for this is a book, it’s gratifying—so long as you didn’t see everything coming. In that case, you’re bored silly and probably won’t finish reading. On the other hand, if there’s an abrupt departure from what you expected, well, that could be fun. After all, who doesn’t like a startling revelation to tingle the imagination and make you read faster and faster—

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2014-11-15 09.03.57Inside Outer Space:  Science Fiction Professionals Look at Their Craft, edited by Sharon Jarvis

published in 1985

where i got it: friend gave it to me

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My friends know I’m drawn towards the obscure, and they also know I really like the “behind the scenes” of everything. A friend found the perfect gift for me: an obscure book of essays by spec fic professionals, published in 1985. What value is there in a book of essays from 30 years ago? More than you’d think.  Editor Sharon Jarvis curated a short list that included her friends and a few authors she’d been referred to.  She assigned people to write on a topic such as humor, or war, or fandom, or small presses, told them approximately how many pages she wanted, and left them to it.  The resulting essays from luminaries like C.J. Cherryh, Marion Zimmer Bradley, George Alec Effinger, Parke Godwin, Ron Goulart and others are more like having a casual conversation with someone, or listening in on an unscripted panel discussion, rather than reading a manicured essay. They are completely casual, with the authors being completely comfortable calling out people they disagree with (most notably, Harlan Ellison, who everyone wants to pick on).

 

I picked this book up completely on a lark, I needed something read while waiting for something else to happen. Something I could put down at any moment, something with short little bursts of information seemed perfect. Well, the first essay was addictive and hilarious, so I kept reading, long after the stuff that I was waiting for had happened.   So why was a book of essays from 1985 so intriguing? Because it felt like a time capsule.  And of course I was intrigued to see what had changed in 30 years, and what really hadn’t. Some conversations we are still having, and some we *should* still be having.

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Book Blogger Hop

Here from the Hop? Welcome! This blog is primarily scifi and fantasy, with some magic realism, graphic novels, and other fun stuff thrown in. Have a look around, check out the review index, it’s all good.

TGIFriday! the end of a workweek means it’s time to sit back, relax, and blog hop friday! Today’s question is When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

hmmmm. . . a little bit of both. I’ll usually take notes while I’m writing, about foreshadowing, prose style, characters or events that really catch my eye, the story under the story, etc. My family knows when a book is getting the full treatment when I’m got a few peices of paper covered in notes folded up and tucked into the back of the book. Once I’ve finished the book, I’ll let everything percolate in my brain for a day or two, then pull out my notes, and get cracking!

A problem does come up when a book is so engrossing that I don’t take a single note.

how about you? What is your method of attack?

or at least sort of.

I review about half the books I read. Some books I pick up knowing I’m going to write a review, and other books I just pick up on a lark, and some books that I pick up on a lark I decide halfway through that I should write a review.

Once I’ve decided “I’m going to review this book!” I’ll grab a piece of paper and tuck it into the back of the book. As I’m reading, I’ll write down my thoughts, things I like, things I don’t like, predictions, questions, etc. When I’m done with the book, I’ve usually got plenty of notes to get me started on writing the review.

But I’m coming across a problem: the less impressed I am with a book, the more notes I tend to take. The corollary being the more I enjoy a book, the less notes I take. Then I go to write a review of a book that knocked my socks off, and I’ve got one sentence of thoughts. When a book is mediocre, or you notice a glaring error or issue, it’s easy to pull yourself out of the narrative and write something down. A truly excellent book will seduce you, and not only can’t you pull yourself away to write something down, but you know anything you write would just sully the story’s beauty.

This is not helpful. Especially not right now. I’ve recently finished two excellent books that I am desperately trying to write reviews of (and have hardly any notes), and one mediocre book that I’m half way through and already have a whole page of notes. I feel like I have no starting point for these two magnificent books. I’d read them again, with the intent of writing stuff down. . . but I’m impatient. I want to get the reviewed started and done, and get on to reading more.

must work on reviews this weekend. this may require more coffee.

Is my method of writing reviews similar to yours? completely different?

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.