Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Archive for September, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale – Quick Review

Posted by Caitie F on September 25, 2009

This is a very brief review of the book The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

I give it a +++++. If you have not yet gotten to this book, drop what you are reading and go get The Thirteenth Tale. The writing is some of the best I have read. If you have read gothic novels, you will notice that she has managed to take elements from the greats and work them into her own unique and enchanting style. I liked everything about this book.

I am not doing a full review because this book has been reviewed and reviewed. Go check out My Friend Amy’s Review and she links to several fantastic reviews of this book!

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The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – Review

Posted by Caitie F on September 21, 2009

Title: The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Random House/Doubleday
Year Published: 2009
Rating ++

This review will contain mild spoilers (but it doesn’t give away any plot points)

Dan Brown’s latest book has come out and sold a lot of copies and I went out and got mine. I read annoyingly fast, so I finished it in four or five hours total (I would love to know what reading level this is supposed to be, Harry Potters book 4-7 all took longer than this). It made me decide that I don’t need to read any more Dan Brown books.

I loved Angels & Demons, I thought it was a great story and had some great controversies that really made me think. I thought Da Vinci Code was okay. I thought Deception Point was somewhere in between the two Langdon books, and this one would go below that.

His books are incredibly formulaic. This one contains someone Langdon knows getting into trouble, him working with a woman to solve the mystery and save the other person, a security officer with authority that Langdon does not trust, and a bad guy who hurts himself and does it all for a higher power. Do any of those sound familiar? Also, his watch is referenced several times, he gets trapped or has to travel through many small spaces, and at one point, it looks like he is dead! There are even more similarities including God vs science, what religion is, and many more.

Please Dan Brown, think of something new! These books all seem to be the same!

I was looking forward to this book quite a lot for one reason – the setting. Washington DC is one of my favorite cities and I was looking forward to knowing a lot about the locations that were in the book (plus, Langdon traveling from Harvard to DC made a lot of sense). In that, I was not disappointed. I learned more about two famous DC landmarks and when they traveled on The Metro, I knew exactly where they were at all times.

I also am interested in Freemasons. I knew someone in college that was one (only the 5th or 6th level) and while he couldn’t tell us most things, what he told me about his beliefs was very interesting, so I was excited that they would be a central part of this story. That also was not a disappointment. I did learn quite a bit about the beliefs.

Those two things could not save the book. Dan Brown just needs to write better (and his editors need to do more). If a better writer had written this book, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. If you liked his first Langdon books, you may be disappointed because it is so similar, which really, in the end, was my main disappointment. I think Robert Langdon has a lot of potential as an interesting character to build a series on, but there needs to be more differences.

Don’t necessarily take my word for it. Go form an opinion of your own!

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a comment with a link to where it is and I will link it here!

For a much different review, check out She is Too Fond of Books

For a funny, but spoiler-filled review check out The Book Lady’s Blog

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The Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

Posted by Caitie F on September 18, 2009

Title: The Wolves of the Calla
Author: Stephen King
Paperback: 736 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year Published: 2003
Rating: +++++

Stephen King delivered another masterpiece with this book.

I just finished the fifth book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and of the first five, it was my favorite. That is a big statement because I loved four out of those five. I don’t want to give a summary of this one like I usually would because it would ruin parts of the first four, and that is no fun. I will talk about some of the great aspects of this book.

The first is the characters. Each character in this gigantic novel, from Roland, our dinh, to little singleton Aaron has a purpose. There are not flat characters or spare characters that are just there to add more people to the crowd. They have distinct personalities and motivations for everything they do. Our band of four main characters have some of the toughest decisions they have had in the series. Should Jake tell Roland what he has seen? Do they all tell Susannah about the demon inside of her? Can Susannah fight Mia and be able to help her ka-tet? The reader gets to see how each character makes their decision and why, which might be part of the reason readers get attached to these characters.

The setting makes one think of an old-fashioned Western movie. There are farmers and ranchers, there is a decision to be made and the town is split in two, and there are four strangers and a bumbler who come waltzing in to save the day. But there are also robots that warn of the wolves coming, yet always seems to be laughing at the humans. There is an old man who knows what The Wolves truly are and has told no one. There is a priest whose story seems awfully familiar and comes from the same place as Jake and Eddie…but more on that later. It seems like it could become cliche, but it never comes close.

I don’t want to really give much away because some of the discoveries that characters make are what make the book. I will touch on the priest, Father Callahan, who escaped to this world after being bit by a vampire and running for years from Jerusalem’s Lot…known to Stephen King readers as Salem’s Lot. Near the end of The Wolves of the Calla the character finds this book and starts to read it. At one point he says “but I am a real person!”, he is reading his story and is flabbergasted. How is his story in this novel, this piece of fiction?  I won’t get too detailed in my analysis of what this may mean because I know it is an important theme of the next two books (where Stephen King becomes a character), but I will pose this question. What is a character in a book really? We have all read books where the characters seem like friends of ours and what happens to them impacts us emotionally. Can you imagine how this would be for an author, the one who breathed life into these characters? I look forward to reading the next two books and going deeper into this issue with all of you!

One final note, you may not know this, but I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so when there was a weapon called a Sneetch that was manufactured by Harry Potter, it made me smile!

So go read all The Dark Tower books! When you read them, try to get the editions that have the great illustrations in them.  The first one is a little hard to get through at first, but push yourself, because, so far, it is worth it!

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The Lost Symbol

Posted by Caitie F on September 17, 2009

I have not had a chance to go pick up The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown’s newest novel, but I am going to go get it this weekend. I will do a review of it once I am done, but right now I am not concerned with content, I am more concerned with what this book means for publishing.

It has now been reported it sold one million copies in one day. the most for an adult book in years. As My Friend Amy tweeted “Dan Brown sold a million copies of book in a day. If a million people tuned into a TV episode it would be failure.” That is an interesting comment on books and reading in our culture, but watching a TV show doesn’t cost anything; it doesn’t require for you to even leave your home, so I don’t know if the comparison can even be made.

I would like to know how many people have reserved the book in libraries across the country. I requested a copy at my library two weeks ago and I am number 177, I have a friend that requested it two days ago in another system and she is 279.  It could be that one million more people have it on hold at their libraries.

There are many in publishing who think that Dan Brown’s books are not “good”. They make a lot of money, but the quality is not the best. Sometimes, these people refer to themselves as book snobs. I read three of his books and enjoyed them all. He does a great job of grabbing the reader’s interest; he does short chapters, which makes it more accessible to busy people; and he discusses issues that become topics to discuss, which keeps it in the news and sells even more. Many people also don’t like James Patterson’s books, especially since he now “co-writes” them, but they sell extremely well.

I think this book snobbery should tone down a little. Remember that last great book you found that wasn’t a bestseller, but you thought it was terrific? If it was published by Random House, you partially have Dan Brown to thank for that book. Those top 10% of books that are on the best sellers list, that aren’t always the best books, is what pays for almost everything else. If Oprah picks a book for her book club, the publisher knows it will be able to do more books the next year, or push up the budget of some books that they love, but they didn’t know if they could market it as much as they wanted to.

Amy’s quote from earlier ended with the tag #peoplepleasereadmore, which I agree with completely. If you are a parent, make sure you kids catch you reading for fun (and of course read to/with them), If your significant other doesn’t read much and you do, find something they would love and read it at the same time. Try genres and books that you normally wouldn’t pick up because someone said it was a great read. When you buy a book, read it once, and are done with it, don’t just let it sit on your shelf. If you know you won’t read it again, find a hospital or a charity to donate it to so that other people who don’t have access to books can have the opportunity to read.

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Book Questions from Book Bloggers Appreciation Week

Posted by Caitie F on September 16, 2009

I am not officially part of the Book Bloggers Appreciation Week, but I think this is a fun survery, so I thought I would do it!

Today’s writing prompt is to answer some questions about reading — but with as few words as possible.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

Usually I don’t, if I do it is pretzels…or whatever I am eating for lunch!

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I would never mark up a book as I read, it horrifies me, especially when people have done it in a library book!

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

It depends. Right now, I am reading three books and one is laying open one is dog-eared, and one has a bookmark!

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Both! I read more fiction, but I like both!

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Hard copy, I am not a fan of audio books.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

I usually read to the end of a chapter, but I can put it down at any point if I am tired, something comes up, ect.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

No, I usually can figure it out in context, if not I will check later.

What are you currently reading?

Wolves of Calla by Stephen King
Ruminations on twentysomething Life by Aaron Karo
Emma by Jane Austen

What is the last book you bought?

The Other Queen by Phillippa Gregory

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

As shown before, multiple!

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

Not really, I like reading in bed and out in the sun.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

No preference

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

I tell everyone to try all of the John Green books.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

It’s complicated!

Check out more events and/or blogs at BBAW

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First Review – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Posted by Caitie F on September 14, 2009

Book: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Author: Agatha Christie
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (September 1, 2006)
Year Published: 1926
Rating: +++++ (Go and read this now!)

I can see why she is known as one of the greatest mystery writers of all time. I thought I knew who the murderer was several time…and I was wrong every time and never saw it coming! Sometimes, when you are reading a mystery and you never saw it coming, there are holes in the explanation and you think the author stretched it a little…not the case with this book! It all made perfect sense, but it would have been almost impossible for the reader to figure it out.

Not only is the mystery fantastic, but the characters are round and complex, every character has a distinct personality and are a crucial part of the plot.

The writing is superb. There was enough description that you could picture everything in your head, from the scene of the crime to the characters, to the classic London town. It was witty and clever.

It was one of the best books I have read in a while and look forward to reading more of her books!

If you like mysteries and have not yet read this book, you should go get it today!

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Kanye West strikes again.

Posted by Caitie F on September 14, 2009

So by now it seems that the entire world knows that Kanye West was a huge jerk last night and ruined Taylor Swift’s big moment. Why am I writing about it in a publishing blog? Because we shouldn’t be surprised that he has no respect for anyone or anything, including books.

He recently wrote a book entitled Thank You and You’re Welcome that offers his “optimistic philosophy on life” (Link) Even though he has written a book and wants people to buy his book he has said “I am a proud non-reader of books.” And his mother was an English professor.

So here is a guy who has no respect for books, yet goes out and writes one, and while talking about it, says that books are a waste. I hope that no one has gone out and bought his book. I don’t know who would want a book of philosophy from someone who thinks it is acceptable to humiliate a teenage girl, but I also don’t know why someone would go out and buy a book by someone who says that reading is pointless.

He devalues education and literacy, two things that the people who listen to his music (especially children) cannot live without. He seems proud to have dropped out of college and that isn’t a message anyone needs to hear. I know some people like his music and will say things like “he never asked to be a role model” but as someone who is in the public eye, he needs to realize that he is one, whether he likes it or not. There are probably some kids who will look at what he said and think ‘If Kanye doesn’t read, then I don’t have to’. I just hope there are parents and teachers and positive role models to counteract the effect this thinking can have on a society.

Let’s hope that his rudeness towards Taylor Swift will remind everyone that he is nothing but someone starving for attention.

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Short Stories magazines…do publishers use them?

Posted by Caitie F on September 11, 2009

My husband just got his second short story accepted for publication in a new short story magazine called Emerald Tales

This magazine offers a prompt and writers do a short story that fits that prompt and the editor chooses 10-15 stories to publish. The prompts are creative. The first was “Follow the Butterflies”, the seconds was “Masks”, and the third is “Solstice”. These themes get stories of all different genres. It is available as an e-zine or you can get a hard copy mailed to you (but don’t expect a glossy magazine, it is brand new and this is one woman doing it). It is $5 an issue.
Why start a magazine like this now? Sure, there are still short story magazines you can get in the stores, but do they sell very well? Who is buying them? Who is buying this one?

Not to say I am against these magazine, I actually think they are a great way to give writers a creative outlet and there are plenty of people who love short stories. That brings me to my main question – how are they used in the world of publishing? Does anyone in publishing read them for work? If not, they should,

If I was an agent or new editor trying to find something new to show my boss I had potential and drive, I would pick up a few of these magazines, read some of the stories and pick a few that I thought were the best stories based on quality of writing, ability to keep attention, and how much I enjoyed the story and I would see if I could contact the author to find out if they were working on any longer projects…or if they might be interested in working on something. Who knows, maybe this is not legal, but I think it would be an I think it would be a great way to go out and get great talent.

They may send a manuscript and it may not have the sizzle that the short story did…or maybe you will get the next James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, or even J. K. Rowling because you looked beyond what you are getting in the mail or what agents are giving you. Could this work? I don’t know, but I will let you know once I get that job..

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Posted by Caitie F on September 8, 2009

My name is Catherine Flum and I am going to write about publishing. There are so many aspects of publishing and I plan on covering most of them – including stock market values of certain companies, where companies are headed, and what is new and innovative.

I recently graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Publishing Studies. Hofstra is the only university with an undergraduate program in publishing, and the program is amazing. I took classes in theory, book promotion, production, editing, and children’s literature. All of my professor’s are (or have been) in the industry including the former president and C.E.O. of McGraw-Hill, Dr. Alexander Burke, who founded the program, the head of Digital Media at Simon & Schuster, Susan Fleming-Holland, and three professionals who freelance their work in production, editing college textbooks, and editing children’s books.

In this program I wrote complete marketing reports which included the author questionnaire, the tip (or fact) sheet, the marketing plan, the catalogue page, the pitch letter, and the press release all for a title that I came up with. I also had to develop a book idea for a non-fiction book and developed that from concept to design plan and even had to make a profit-loss statement for it. I edited using but substantive editing and copy-editing for non-fiction and fiction selections, wrote tactful author letters, and performed a few Scan Reports and Reader’s Reports. I was the editor-in-chief of a semester long project where we took a fiction anthology from manuscript form and deleted selections; wrote an editorial plan, design plan, and publicity/marketing plan; we implemented these plans; and did a digital chapter of one of the sections. Through the process I was responsible for making the schedule and running the weekly meeting, making sure everyone was on task, and helping with any problems that occurred while individuals were doing their jobs.

I was a Digital Media Intern at Hachette Book Group USA for a summer. At Hachette, I converted backlist titles into eBook format, which resulted in 184 titles being released in eBook format in November. I also created ISBN’s for those 184 titles and learned their system so I would be able to do them efficiently. In addition to that, I created monthly newsletter for accounts to advertise new titles and chose books to discount. I proofed around 150 EBooks for errors in the text and pricing. I updated the prices of all EBooks to reflect a change in policy, then checked with accounts to make sure the changes were implemented. I got some sales analysis experience when I tracked eBook sales and prepared an analysis to demonstrate the profitability of these titles.I also attended weekly department meetings to learn more about the digital aspects of publishing.

In addition to sharing publishing news and innovations, I will also be doing book reviews. If you have a book you would like me to review, please reply or send me a message.

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