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Topics - Michael_J_Sullivan

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26
Writers' Cafe / Could use some help on covers.
« on: February 27, 2013, 01:39:55 am »
Hey all...I have a book that I'm planning on self-publishing called "Hollow World" it's cross-genre an has elements of science fiction, mystery, thriller and even a little romance mixed in for good measure. It's the story of an ordinary man who travels to the future where mankind now lives underground. Here is the current back of the book copy:

Ellis Rogers is running out of time, but what  does that matter to a man with his own time machine.
A Detroit factory worker who’d always played it safe and done the right thing is rewarded with unemployment, a loveless marriage, and a terminal illness. Now with nothing to lose, he’s willing to take an insane gamble. It’s in his garage. He’s worked on it for months. All he has to do is press the red button, but he can only go forward with no control over how far. If it works he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. If he’s lucky, if he survives, he could find more than a cure for his illness, he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began.

Could you please weigh in on which one you like better A - dark with character or B - featuring the landscape





27
Hey all, this weekend my publisher passed on my new book Hollow World. Not because it wasn't well written, but because at this time they'll only buy science fiction if it is space opera.  Rather than putting it in a drawer, I'm going to go hybrid and return to self-publishing with it.  In the past, I did my self-publishing "on the cheap" (did the cover design myself, no structural editing, really low cost freelance copy editing), but this time I want to produce something EXACTLY like New York does.  So I've
  • Hired the artist that did my French Covers
  • Hiring Betsy Mitchell (Editor-in-chief at Del Rey for over a decade for the content editing
  • Hiring the same copy editors/proof readers that edit my Orbit books

This is going to be pretty expensive (by indie standards - I did in the past) so I want to do a kick-starter for this.  I want to prove my publishers wrong - that this book can and will find an audience.

So...I'm trying to absorb best practices for he kick-starter - any advice would be greatly appreciated.

28
I posted this out on the Book Corner section of the site, as the intended audience is readers, but also wanted to repost here as I know many of the people on this list are active in this forum.  

Ranting Dragon (a fantasy and science fiction site like this one) asked me to put together a kind of a guide to indie authors.

It was hard narrowing the field down to 20, and I'll leave it to the article for the details on why I picked who I did but here is the list:

  • Amanda Hocking
  • Hugh Howey
  • David Dalglish
  • Anthony Ryan
  • J.R. Rain
  • B.V. Larson
  • Michael G. Manning
  • H.P. Mallory
  • Vaughn Heppner
  • M.R. Mathias
  • Heather Killough-Walden
  • Joseph Lallo
  • Aaron Pogue
  • Lindsay Buroker
  • Michael R. Hicks
  • Daniel Arenson
  • K.C. May
  • Carolyn McCray
  • Lawrence P. White
  • Thomas DePrima

29
Ranting Dragon (a fantasy and science fiction site) asked me to put together a kind of a guide to indie authors. Why did they choose me?  Well I self-published my Riyria Revelation's series and it made io9's Most Successful Self-published Sci-fi and Fantasy Author List, and then I later sold the series to Orbit, (fantasy Imprint of big-six publisher Hachette Book Group). Because I had my start in the indie community I've been watching it with interest and both myself and Ranting Dragon wanted to shine a spotlight on some high quality authors that may not be well known.

It was hard narrowing the field down to 20, and I'll leave it to the article for the details on why I picked who I did but here is the list:

  • Amanda Hocking
  • Hugh Howey
  • David Dalglish
  • Anthony Ryan
  • J.R. Rain
  • B.V. Larson
  • Michael G. Manning
  • H.P. Mallory
  • Vaughn Heppner
  • M.R. Mathias
  • Heather Killough-Walden
  • Joseph Lallo
  • Aaron Pogue
  • Lindsay Buroker
  • Michael R. Hicks
  • Daniel Arenson
  • K.C. May
  • Carolyn McCray
  • Lawrence P. White
  • Thomas DePrima

30
Writers' Cafe / Looking for writers for a survey.
« on: June 07, 2012, 02:20:39 pm »
I'm sure some of you here are familiar with the Taleist Survey (heck a good number probably participated). I didn't like that it is "self-publishing only" particularly because of many authors becoming hybrid.  So....I've put together a little survey of my own and need participants. My goal is to get a better picture about the CURRENT publishing landscape, as well as what paths writers are pursuing.

The survey is designed so that you can skip sections that don't apply to you (for instance if you are not yet published). As a way of saying things, I'll provide my analysis AND raw data to all those who participate (minus any identifying information – such as email address).

I thank you in advance for helping myself, and other authors, get a better handle on what to expect in regards to publishing in 2012.


31
The Book Corner / The Road...is it just me?
« on: August 23, 2011, 07:57:48 am »
Okay, so don't hate me but I'm not a fan of Comac McCarthy's The Road.  I know a ton of people LOVE this book, and its been on Oprah and won the Pulitzer but seriously - to me it seems like he wrote it as a joke to see if just his name could make this popular.  I'm going to post my opinions on it here.  I know it will probably give a fair amount of flax but I just feel strongly about it. So here goes....

Cormac’s McCarthy’s The Road, I can honestly say, is the worst book I have ever read. I am stunned to find such a critical following for a novel that is so clearly bad that I have yet to meet a flesh and blood person who does not hate it, or cannot, even after the most mild inquires, explain its appeal beyond the latent thought that they “ought” to like it. To do otherwise would mark them as uncultured and ignorant. Modern art had Duchamp's toilet, and now literature has its own case of the emperor’s new clothes in, The Road.

What sets this novel apart from all others in its genre of ill-conception, is the totality of its failure. There is nothing good that can be said of it. Some virtue can be found in every book, as in the old adage—“…but she has a nice personality.” The Road breaks this rule, and soundly. From the plot and characters to the writing style and even the cover design, the book is abysmally uninspired and a black hole of skill.

Much has been made of the writing quality. Alan Cheuse, of the Chicago Tribune, and book commentator for NPR calls it “…his huge gift for language.” Let’s look at that for a moment. It is universally accepted that the first few sentences of any novel are the most crucial—the words which a writer labors over the most to get them just right. Here are the first two sentences of The Road:

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before.”

I once presented these two sentences to an amateur writer’s forum and asked their opinion. Several members politely replied that the sentences were badly in need of work. Not only were they not grammatically correct, but they were awkward, confusing, used several unnecessary words and had all the rhythm and pacing of a dog with four broken legs. Nights dark beyond darkness, has got to rank up there with, it was a dark and stormy night. This is not at all an isolated example. It is merely the beginning—literally. Other laudable narrative sentences include: “The Hour.” “Of a sudden he seemed to wilt even further.” “A lake down there.”

Lest you think I am selectively picking the worst, here is the passage Mr. Cheuse used in his own review as an example of genius: “tottering in that cold autistic dark with his arms outheld for balance while the vestibular calculations in his skull cranked out their reckonings. An old chronicle. To seek out the upright. No fall but preceded by a declination. He took great marching steps into the nothingness, counting them against his return.” What McCormac is describing here is that it is dark and the man can’t see where he is going. The author is clearly a master of communication.

Let’s also pause to consider his brilliance of dialog, and his mastery of the monosyllable conversation that make the screenplay dialog of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger on par with Shakespeare. Nearly every conversation has the word “Okay,” which appears so often I began to think it was a pun, like a ventriloquist routine. One might conclude McCarthy is attempting to reflect a realistic vernacular into his work, except that the conversations are so stilted and robotic, as to lack even the faintest aroma of realism. There is no slang, no halted speech, no rambling. It is Dragnet.

First dialog in the book:
I ask you something? Yes. Of course. Are we going to die? Sometime. Not now. And we’re still going south. Yes. So we’ll be warm. Yes. Okay. Okay what? Nothing. Just okay. Go to sleep. Okay.

You’ll note that I did not use quotes in the above excerpt. That is because neither does McCarthy. There are no quotes anywhere in the book, nor are there any tags designating the speaker, which manages to successfully make determining who is speaking quite a dilemma at times. Moreover, McCarthy never provides names to his characters this forces him to use the pronoun “he” frequently which very often leaves the reader bewildered as to whether he is referring to the father or the boy.

McCarthy doesn’t stop with quotes. He rarely uses commas or apostrophes. It doesn’t appear as if he is against contractions as he uses the non-word, “dont” quite frequently. Nor is he making the statement that he can write a whole book without punctuation as he does, on rare occasions, use a comma or an apostrophe, (as you can see from the dialog segment I listed above,) as if he is going senile and merely forgot. As the lack of most of the necessary punctuation’s only result is to make it harder to read, I can only conclude that McCarthy, or his editor are the most lazy people I’ve ever heard of—although I am certain no credible editor ever saw this book. If they had I am certain we would have heard about the suicide in the papers.

One might overlook the shortcomings of writing skill if the novel’s foundation was an excellent story. Sadly, this is not the case. Not that it lacks an excellent plot—it lacks a plot. Often times writers anguish over distilling the plot of a novel into a few sentences that might fit on the back of a book cover. It is often impossible to clearly convey all that a book is in such a short span. The Road does not suffer this. Instead I would imagine that if it were possible to put this book in a microwave and evaporate all the extraneous words all you would have left is one sentence: A boy and his father travel south in a post-apocalyptic United States, then the father dies. I wonder if the blurb writer for the, The Road, realized he was also providing a spoiler for the novel so comprehensive, no one need read the book.

What the book lacks in plot it clearly makes up for in even less characterization. The father and the boy—that is about as much characterization as you will get. McCarthy doesn’t even provide names from which readers might glean some associative characteristics. We know the boy is afraid, because he says so approximately every four pages, always with the same robotic level of emotional intensity, backing it up with his many reasons, regrets and concerns as in the passage: I am scared. Likewise, the father is equally a pot bubbling over with emotional angst and frustration so vividly expressed in his response: I know. I’m sorry.

We might as well burn all our copies of Grapes of Wrath now that we have this tour de force.

As amazing as it is, with only an eggshell of plot, McCarthy manages to run afoul of logic. The boy and his father come across shelters packed with food and water, and yet the father insists they move on. Why? Because they must keep moving so as to avoid encountering others. Clearly staying in one place is the best plan to avoid meeting others, hermit do it all the time. Yes, other people might wander into you, but you double that equation if you too are roaming. The only argument for pressing on with the journey is to find others.

I am certain I am being too kind here, but given that this is a Pulitzer Prize winning, Oprah Pick, National Bestseller, I don’t want to ruffle too many feathers. Of course, Duchamp's toilet (Fountain) was once voted "the most influential modern artwork of all time".

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Introductions & Welcomes / Another Greeting from Virginia
« on: August 03, 2011, 03:03:44 am »
It's funny I came here to post, as I just joined, and found one of my crit partners also recently joined - Wave Libby.  My wife has been a long time participant here so I need to join the party.

33
Writers' Cafe / Joining the party...
« on: August 03, 2011, 02:50:14 am »
Hello all...my wife has been a pretty active member of this forum, so you may no me through her. She has said such good things about this area that I thought I would crawl out of my little writer's cave and socialize a bit.

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