First started by Madison Woods, here is the reader-feedback Pitch pecking series, “Vote for it”. Every week, we give out blog over to a 25-word elevator pitch sent in by authors. Readers of our blog have the opportunity to vote for whether the 25-word blurb makes them curious or not about the book. Would they buy it?
“Authors, what we’re measuring is reader interpretation. What does someone think of your book when they read your short blurb? Does it make them want to buy it or at least read further? Editors and publishers may look at these blurbs differently, but ultimately, they’re readers too.” (Madison Woods)
So what happens now? Read the pitch/blurb below and then vote if you think you’d be interested enough buy the book. Though the voting is anonymous, leave a comment and help the author get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t! Continue reading
Canaries and Canary Friends!
Come vote for theCanaryReview at Goodreads and support our flock of fluffy yellow birds.
We are up for the Young Adult category in the Independant Book Blogger Awards. If you are a fan and enjoy our blog, please vote for us.
And we’d love to show you how much we appreciate your support. After you vote, shoot us an email at email@example.com. We’ll send you a canary doodle, a first-page review (if you’re an author), a bird-themed limerick, or something else that’s full of fun, feathery awesome. (And if you’ve already voted, have no fear–I have your emails on hand!)
Dear Paranormal Fiction (and you too, Urban Fantasy),
There is a place and time for your heroine to volley smart-ass remarks. There is a place and time for your hero to be an insufferable bastard. Everywhere else, please make your characters act like human beings (even if they aren’t).
View our other grumbles here.
Incidentally, both the best and the worst books I’ve read were courtesy of the same professor. One was an unassigned, personal recommendation, and the other required for class. One of these books I’ve read so many times in the intervening three years that I’ve inadvertently memorized the first chapter. The other I will never, ever forgive my dear professor for implanting in my memory.
Best: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Once again, I return to my original Lolita, with its ailing spine, peeling cover, and well-thumbed through pages. It’s the 50th Anniversary Vintage Edition, with fleshy pink lips gracing a cover that I know Nabokov would abhor. The précis, which I am fairly sure Nabokov would decry as a clumsy, cliché, and cursory sketch of his most complex novel, reads:
Awe and exhilaration – along with heartbreak and mordant wit – abound in Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Most of all, it is a meditation on love – love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
When I learned that half my task was to write about my best read, it took less than a millisecond for Lolita to burst to the forefront of my prefrontal cortex. It was instantaneous, reflexive. I’m not even sure it came from my memory, but rather my spine. However, it took only another half a second for me to say to myself, “No, Whitney, you cannot write about Lolita. I forbid it.” Continue reading
When 11-year-old Kahlo Smith saw that the rules of NPR’s Three Minute Fiction contest excluded minors, she had two options. One, and the one of least resistance, was to let out a deep breath of disappointment and close the browser. Instead, she sent the contest organizers a letter to them know about her interest, ask why they had the 18-and-over-only rule, and tell them about her 600-word story.
Today, All Things Considered featured her question and her short piece of fiction on their program. The age rule stays, but Smith will be receiving an autographed copy of Luis Alberto Urrea’s most recent historic novel, Queen of America, and some NPR-related items for her story. You can read her entry and the full story at the NPR article, Minor Details: Three-Minute Fiction’s Age Rules.
For every thousands of young (and adult) writers who look at the rules (or at the impenetrable design of a publisher site, or the distracted and busy life of an agent), there are one or two individuals who will be willing to put themselves out there and write that letter or ask that question. And in the end, that will set them apart.
So this Saint Patrick’s Day, make the resolution to make your own luck.
Every Tuesday we’ll spotlight a current television show–and the books that you just might like if you watch it. Here are this week’s reading suggestions based on one of my favorites:
I saw the second season premier a week before it hits USA Network Friday, and what can I say, the show just keeps getting better. The quirky, witty female lead, complicated family and relationship drama, a pseudo-detective element, and fast pacing has me hooked. Kate Reed quit her job as a lawyer to become a mediator a the San Francisco law firm her late father started. Now she’s fighting the system (and her stepmother) one mediation at a time.
When it comes to books, Fairly Legal speaks to the part of me that wants to be entertained, particularly when reading to unwind into the wee hours of the morning.
Here are some of my favorite drama rom-com novels with strong female leads: Continue reading
Seeing my swashbuckling self now, you wouldn’t believe it, but I was a huge scaredy-pants when I was a fledgling. My friends read the Goosebumps series; I couldn’t read the summary on the backs without glancing nervously behind me, sure that something was creeping up on me. Most of the year, I stuck to stories free from ghosts, monsters, and unhappy endings.
Every October, though, when the librarians put out the Halloween displays, everything changed. I was drawn to the collections of scary stories–and always ended up checking one out. I could handle most of what I read, but there was invariably that one story that scared the daylights out of me, reducing me to a sweating, whimpering mess when it came time to climb the dark stairs to my room.
One year, it was the story of the Wendigo, a wind spirit that made people run until their feet caught fire. In it, a trail guide returned to camp swaddled in a blanket. When the others, angered by his silence, pulled the blanket away, all that was left underneath was a pile of ash.
One year, it was a story of a demon scarecrow that killed the farmers one by one and laid their skins on the roof to dry in the sun (I still say that story had no business in a book for kids).
My mother tried to discourage me sometimes. Several years of early-November nightmares were enough to convince her that the scary books should stay on the shelf.
“Are you sure about that one?” she’d say in the check-out line, staring at the skull on the cover. But I would not be denied. Continue reading
As a general rule, we at tCR do not review author requests for short stories. We are wing-deep in novels and rarely have time to spare to read even the shortest of one-shots. So it was pure serendipity that Tracy Marchini’s review request for The Engine Driver came through at the height of my work-place boredom. I clicked on the attached PDF before I’d even read the blurb. And I must say that I’m quite happy I did—partially because the blurb needs a little Pitch Slapped lovin’, but mostly because it was an absolutely delightful story.
The story follows Brig, a depressed teenager in a world where any negative emotions are attenuated by an internal playlist of music meant to adjust mood. When her best friend is selected to be a Musician, someone who can actually craft music, Brig sees an opportunity to finally hear a song that she wants to listen to—rather than one that has been carefully selected to attenuate her constantly sad existence.
That explanation actually makes the plot sound about 800% more emo than the story actually was. The characters were engaging even while wading through the subplot of wanting to hear a love song played when standing near a boy. The fact that a 6,000 word story has a flipping subplot should be an indication that Marchini has a knack for story-telling. The Engine Driver had nice subtleties to it, enough to gloss over a couple of places where the narrative stumbled.
Since this is just a Small Chirp and not a review, there’s no official Canary rating, but an unofficial rating would put it solidly in a four happy canaries territory. I hope this is the first of many forays that Marchini takes into Brig’s life. I would happily read an entire novel set in the music-controlled world she lives in.
Read More Indie:
Part of the Best and Worst Series
— in which theothercanary talks about her best and worst reads —
Often, new writers seem to think world-building only applies to science fiction and fantasy books. It’s assumed that if one is writing a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 2011, the world is already built–everyone knows what’s there, who’s there and how the world around them works, so what’s left to explain? But that way of thinking is fatally flawed. It leads to a story-world full of cliched characters and the unshakeable feeling that something is missing.
The solution: Build your world from scratch! But be careful. As this best and worst shows, t is not always easy to find the balance between just-enough and oh-my-god-another-page-full-of-descriptions-about-hills. Continue reading