Monthly Archives: May 2006

Currently Reading…

A Dirty Job A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore.

It’s difficult to classify Christopher Moore’s novels. From monstrous lizards that exude pheromones to lovesick vampires to a Kung Fu learning Jesus, he’s given us some pretty incongruous situations. As silly as they sound, they work. When you read Moore’s novels, you smile all the way to the end –even when the situation is poignant– and you laugh out loud more than once.

With A Dirty Job, Moore doesn’t disappoint. The story starts with a death and ends with a death, but that’s as it should be since the entire book is about Death with a capital D. Charlie Asher, a typical Beta Male and proprietor of a junk shop discovers that, upon the birth of his daughter and the death of his wife, he has become one of the Death Merchants –those responsible to pick up people’s soul vessels before they die so they can pass them on to their new rightful owners.

But Charlie has competition for those souls. The Lord of the Underworld, assisted by the Morrigan (otherwise known as the sewer harpies) needs those soul vessels to return Above and rule the world. Here follows a series of whacky, incredibly funny battles between the forces of (mostly) good and evil. Add to the mix an ex-cop with fused vertebrae who thinks everyone is a serial killer, a goth obsessed teenage girl who thought she should have been Death, fourteen inch fashionably dressed golems made out of stuffed squirrels, and two hellhounds to guard Charlie’s daughter, and you have a typical Moore recipe for the absurd.

A Dirty Job is, in my opinion, the best Moore book to date. He writes with skill and imagination, and he obviously loves his weird characters, which results in a wonderful, engaging reading experience.

If you’re in the mood for a fantastic romp through the absurb, A Dirty Job is for you. Or any other Moore book, for that matter.

Did you like this? Share it:

21 Full Grown Elephants

If you’ve ever had the illusion that it’s easy to get published, here is a dose of reality:

(Fountain Hills, AZ – May 15, 2006) The year 2005 saw 172,000 new books released in the United States, according to Bowker, the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information. The number of new titles dropped about 10% from the record high of 195,000 in 2004, but 172,000 titles is still quite a few books. If the books were shelved side by side one would need two and three quarter miles of shelving.

If the books were stacked one atop the other, they would reach almost nine times higher than the world’s tallest building, the Taipei 101, which measures 1,671 feet. To transport one copy of each title, the vehicle would have to be capable of hauling 86 tons or 21 full grown elephants. Laying the books down in a straight line would require a little over 16 miles of railroad tracks.

If a copy of each title was purchased at retail, the total expenditure would be enough to send one student to Harvard for 70 years. However, it would have only been enough to cover less than 20% of the cost of the most expensive diamond ever sold (A 100.10-carat, pear-shaped, “D” flawless diamond sold for $16,548,750, at Sotheby’s, Switzerland, on May 17, 1995.)

If each author received a $5000 advance, the total would nearly approach $1 billion. And most interestingly of all, if one author wrote all these books, consecutively, he or she, would have had to start writing during the time of Neanderthal Man, nearly 100,000 years ago.

How difficult is it to get a book published by a commercial publisher? Well the odds are better gambling in Las Vegas. In their book, “The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories from Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them,” the authors surveyed over 60 literary agents. On the average these agents agreed to represent accepted only a little more than 2 in 1000 of the authors who contacted them.

It has been estimated that 25 million people in the United States consider themselves writers and only 5% have been published anywhere. Ready for another dose of reality? Only 1% of manuscripts submitted to publishing houses are accepted for publication. If 99% of all manuscripts submitted are rejected, by any standard, a writer whose book has been published has achieved a major milestone. However you look at it, 172,000 is a lot of new titles and a lot of happy authors.

(c) 2006 Brian Hill and Dee Power

About the Authors: Brian Hill and Dee Power were inspired by their own publishing experiences to research and write “The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them,” 2005, Dearborn Trade. They can be reached through their website.

Did you like this? Share it:

It’s so easy to write

As I struggle with the third rewrite of my new manuscript, Entropy –it’s really rough going– I remembered an entry in my old blog that described my frustrations with all the very bad writers who get published. I’m republishing it here:

Ink Slinger again, but this time his website. Paul Guyot has an interesting take on why people think it’s easy to write:

“There are two reasons, actually. The first is what I call the Summer Vacation syndrome. Every person has, at one time, had to write something. In elementary school it was the “How I spent my summer vacation” essay. In high school it was the “Analysis of manuscript,” formerly known as a book report. In college it was the “Thesis.”

I hadn’t thought about it in that particular way, but it struck me as quite true. Everyone in school had to write some kind of essay or story, and were graded on it. If you got an A, doesn’t that mean that you’re good? That it’s easy to write?

To paraphrase Lawrence Block, many writers want to have been published. They want the hardcover with their names on it in Chapters, or Barnes and Noble, or on amazon. That is the accomplishment. Never mind having to spend time perfecting the craft. I’m not talking about spelling and grammar, although both are necessary basics. I’m talking about mastering character motivation, structure, description, style, tone, setting, conflict, action, suspense.

Plot? Sure, that’s important, too, but these days there are too many good stories badly written. Case in point, The Da Vinci Code, which has been on the best seller lists (but we know about these, now, don’t we?) for months and is a badly written book.

This seems to reinforce the idea that it’s okay not to know how to write well, as long as the story is sensational enough. And of course, if you’re a celebrity, then even the story itself doesn’t count. They’re selling their names, not the content of the book.

Doesn’t matter. I’ll continue to try to perfect my craft because, even though I’m not a literary writer and never will be, it’s important to me to give my readers the best experience possible. I want them to say, at the end of the book, that words flowed so well they couldn’t put it down.

Did you like this? Share it: