Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Kim Dong Wha

Graphic novels (manwha in Korean) are long stories told like comics. This author is known for sweet sunjung genre for girls. Today’s review is of a trilogy, The Color of Earth, The Color of Water, and The Color of Heaven.

The Color of Earth is a seminal work turning manhwa in a new direction. Description of agrarian Korean life is pre-industrial in time, probably 19th century. The author uses flowers and rain as symbols throughout this story of a widow and her young daughter. In this story the child is becoming aware of differences in the world and people. Kim Dong Hwa shows true mastery of poetry, use of space, shading, and linework. It delicately touches upon gender differences, but may offer offense to some.

The Color of Water offers a growing story like a flower budding open. Gently we see the daughter’s interest in human sexuality grow as she moves toward womanhood. Three girls in the story are at different levels. The younger two envy their engaged friend until they learn the groom is nine years old. Raising him will be her life. She must care for his parents and any grandmothers. She will be expected to train all her sister-in-laws to be good wives and homemakers. Neither friend wants a life like hers.

The second book seemed more insightful using more metaphors, trees, flowers, butterflies, and streams to convey her budding sexuality. As with all teenagers, there are moments of embarrassment. Her first period, first wet dream, and first experience in self gratification are in this volume. (Sorry to offend)

The Color of Heaven does a wonderful job conveying the close bond forged between mother and daughter. There is a LOT of waiting on the return of the men. The bridal clothes are beautiful even in black and white. The drawings in this third book are more detailed and offer better contrast to the panels.

Notice: The marriage is consummated in this book. Symbolism is used in graphic books and understood by graphic book readers to substitute for more detailed drawings. In this work, readers view the young couple above the waist as you see an undressed mannequin in a store window. The author used black out where swimming trunks cover in an action scene.

Overall, this series will stand up well over time and could foster dialogue between mothers and daughters.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Discernment, or lack thereof

I took an online class on how to revise a manuscript. The course creator is enthusiastic and very learned. I was getting a lot out of the course until I got to one lesson.

There were worksheets. I love a course with worksheets. I printed them out, put them in a binder and read on. At this point in the course, the instructor told us to go page by page through the manuscript and mark scenes that ‘didn’t work’. The worksheets had very intensive information on how to go back and correct deficiencies that were identified.

At this point in the class, I crashed and burned.

The reason I rely on critique partners is that I really can’t tell when one of my scenes is ‘not working’. I can’t read my own stuff and say, “hey, this isn’t quite right, you know what would make it better? Pirates!” I don’t have that. When I write the scene, I see it in my head play out like a movie. But movies need editors. Someone else cuts out the scenes that ‘don’t work’.

I do not have the discernment to make the identification by myself. Maybe years from now, when I’ve written a bunch of books, I can look back and say, “back in the old days, I couldn’t TELL when something was wrong!” Then I’ll tip my frosty adult beverage and laugh. But for now, I need to learn some discernment. I need to be able to look at my own work and ask myself some tough questions.

I’m just not sure what those questions are, or how to ask them. I’ll let you know if I work it out.

–Sandee Wagner

E-PUBLISHING 101

A few blogs ago, Sister Slut Marilyn kindly listed me as Team Jackie.  Thank you, my mentor.  Actually, that’s how I’m seeing myself lately.  I have always loved writing.  I HAVEN’T always wanted to be professionally published.  Why?  As immodest as this may sound, I never doubted that I could sell.  My fear was of succeeding!  Sound crazy?  Let me explain.

Even though I hadn’t officially “studied” the business back in my younger days, I heard enough from published SF writers to hear about deadlines, editors from hell,  shilling the books, etc.  In fact, I had one author say that the minute he sold that first book, the pressure was on to get that next one to his editor.

The main reason I submitted my first manuscript is I couldn’t stand the thought that no one but my family and my CPs would ever read it.  Sure enough, once I sold that first on, My new editor (the old one orphaned me) wanted another book that “visited old themes”.  What the hell did that mean!!?  For the next 10 years, all I heard from friends, family, acquaintances was “Have you sold another book?”  How embarrassing to admit I didn’t even have the danged thing in first draft yet.

Oh, I can brag that I’ve sold everything I ever submitted.  Shoot, I can even crow that I removed a project from a publisher because they sat on it for four years.  But still, a lot of my joy in writing vanished.  Then this past year, eReaders took off with a bang and , suddenly,  everyone and their Aunt Minnie can be a “published author.”

Most wannabes are going to dash out a front cover, slap a price on it, and throw it up on Amazon.  But the savvy writer is going to do more.  They’re going to learn to become not only a writer, but a CEO of their own brand.  Already, published authors are banding together to learn, explore, and experiment in this new publishing.  They’re demanding their backlists, those old titles that haven’t been in print for years and publishing them into new life with new readers.

Some are even publishing new material…books refused by their agents or publishers, new genres no one would let them try before, and even niche books that may not find that big an audience.  One of the best things about this new world is that once the book is up in a digital form, it will NEVER be out of print…in pertuity!  But it won’t be slapdash. 

Backlists are being updated and refined.  Those editors and copyeditors who were laid off during the downsizing of the NY publishers?  They’re now freelancing.  New covers are needed and this is generating a free-lance cover art business.  Formatting can be learned, but for those who don’t want to face the challenge, there are computer geeks vying for the business. 

Eventually, all authors will be Team Author.  They will write the book. but on their team will be their favorite editor, copyeditor, cover artist, and formatter.  They’ll probably also have an agent to deal with foreign sales or Hollywood, both of which can be tricky to navigate.  And a publicist; some one to set up Internet ads, blog tours, trailers, etc.  And each will be listed, just as the directors, producers, and cameramen are listed on movies.  And to the top authors will go the top team.  You may start with a D-list group on your team, but if you work hard, stay persistent, and believe in yourself, you’ll find yourself with an A-Team.

Do you see why this would appeal to me?  I can write at my own speed.  I don’t have to worry about an editor tapping her foot, waiting for the proposal.  I don’t have to sweat out a deadline.  I get more control over cover art and how much money I can make.  It is truly MY book, from start to finish.

For those of you who would like to learn more details about this new venture, I recommend Julie Ortolon’s blog at: www.julieortolon.com  She has recently released a book titled THE EBOOK REVOLUTION: SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR AUTHORS.  $2.99 on Kindle and you can download the Kindle app for your laptop or PC…and it’s free!

Missing

WS Meg will be back next week with something pithy or wise. Today she’s frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps she’ll see a mermaid today!

Quit Changing Things!

Okay, Word Press has changed things…again.  I can’t see the end of my sentences on this dashboard, so if I don’t make sense, I’m sorry.  But that seems to be the theme this week with the Internet.

Once upon a time, writing was a solitary thing.  Oh, occasionally an author would go to a book signing or conference. But since the development of the World Wide Web, social networking is the new norm for promoting your book.  Facebook, Twitter, blogging…they’re all tools for selling your books.

For the younger author, the one who grew up in a world were the computer has ALWAYS been the center of technology, this is no problem.  But for us oldsters…?  Well, let’s just say this past week has been challenging. 

You know me. I’ve long been a fan of learning new things.  When electronic publishing came along, I was right there with my second and third book.  Even when FB and blogging became the new promotion tool, I dipped my toe in.  I’m the first to admit I tiptoed into them, but, hey, I’m there now, aren’t I?

The problem is that with the computer world, everything changes so quickly.  I can live with that.  But does everything have to change the same week???  Just sayin’

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Bond, Bond and Shaffer and Barrows

Baby, Drive South
Stephanie Bond

♥ ♥ ♥

Ten years ago a tornado leveled Sweetness, Georgia. Three native sons decide to rebuild the town, using grants for a Green Town development. They return to the abandoned town, fighting the kudzu, and build a new road, bunkhouse, and mess hall. The rebuilding schedule requires at least fifty men onsite. Men leave on weekends or go AWOL.

The Armstrong brothers need women to anchor the men to the jobsite. Kendall, middle brother, places an advertisement in a recession-ravaged northern town where his true love lives.

The characters move the story nicely for a pleasant light read while provoking interest in the North meets South mix of romance between youngest son, Porter, and Dr. Nikki Salinger. Nikki is not well accepted by the workers and decides to go back North. She is delayed at every turn so the couple can work toward happily ever after.

The next book in the series is Baby, Come Home.

Baby, Come Home
Stephanie Bond

♥ ♥ ♥

The second book in the series revisits Kendall’s old love, the woman he left behind twelve years ago when he entered the Air Force. Amy Bradshaw, now a civil engineer, returns for sentimental reasons: to redesign a romantic bridge in Sweetness.

The pair ooze chemistry. If their world could just stay between the sheets, the reader knows they would never part. But in daylight their problems grow. It is unlikely they will work through their differences to reach true understanding.

When Kendall joined the Air Force, Amy wanted to join his adventure. He expected her to wait patiently at home until he had his fun. They share a failure to communicate.

The characters grow more interesting in this book. The third book, Baby, Don’t Go, comes out in November.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The book title comes from an after-curfew encounter between the islanders and the Gestapo. The islanders, coming from a rare feast of roasted pig, get cornered. Elizabeth explains they have just ended a rousing literary discussion and are on their way to their homes. Elizabeth is a young woman with a small daughter, Kit. She and all the island inhabitants display that uniquely British quality of getting on during tough times.

After the Second World War, an islander writes Juliet Ashton to ask help in locating books by a particular author. She has finished her own book. Her publisher encourages her to get along with a second book. Her fiancé wants marriage.

Soon she is corresponding with most the islanders. Her publisher encourages her to travel to Guernsey Island and write her book.

This wonderful story emerges. Elizabeth, a bright and brave young mother finds love. Unlike Yanks, the story does not end quite the way our writers would end with happily ever after (HEA).

Readers, this is a hard book for most to put down.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Inspiration

When you write romance, you can find inspiration all around you. Go to a nice restaurant, or the mall. There will be couples holding hands, trading soulful glances. The mating dance will be played out for you in any number of iterations.

Where does the romantic suspense writer find her inspiration? The news headlines? If you troll the internet and look at the news services, you can find all kinds of real life stories that would allow a writer to fantasize and start a ‘what if?’ scenario.

I like science fiction. I write futuristic romance. You want to know where I find my inspiration and story ideas? TED Talks. The idea behind TED is a fascinating study. A bunch of people got together and invited great minds to present their findings in 18 minutes or less. It’s grown since then, but it’s still short discussions by people in all kinds of fields talking about their research, their findings, their studies.

It’s science and technology in small bites that are easy to assimilate.

It’s cutting edge science from the chick that’s powering batteries with viruses. It’s high tech discussions about how algorithms are shaping our lives. Even innovation by the children’s book author who has created a kid’s book for the iPad where the parents change every time you shake it. Mike Rowe discusses what he learned from filming ‘Dirty Jobs’.

So when I need inspiration, I look at TED. I peruse the latest studies by scientists unraveling the genome of the Neanderthals. I see the chaos theorist talk about gaming. I watch the biologists cautioning everyone about contagion and travel in today’s world. I watch the MIT researcher who’s working on self assembling and repairing buildings.

There’s a wealth of science story ideas there on TED. I can make it into fiction, but it’s reality for someone. When I need inspiration, I know where to go.

–Sandee Wagner