Good Book Friday – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hungry for a good book?  Read the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Hungry for a good book? Read the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

This is an exciting Friday for me because I get to recommend a good book to you. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a rare gem in the young adult market because it can be appreciated by any fan of science fiction/fantasy, no matter the age of the reader. It is the story of a young girl who is thrust into a vicious, televised game of survival that pits her against a cast of other kids from around the country that once was the United States. The only way to win this game is to outlive the other contestants by any means necessary. The premise is a fresh take on the Richard Bachman book, The Running Man. Or if you prefer, think ancient Rome’s gladiators set in a horrific reality show every Roman is forced to watch. Suzanne Collins deserves the success Stephanie Meyer is experiencing with Twilight. Meyer’s series is good, but it leaves the young male reader out of the equation. It’s a romance novel that has cute vampires. Collins’ Hunger Games is told with a lot of grit and blood and guts. There’s a romance element to it, but not enough to turn us boys off. Beyond creating some really intriguing action scenes, Collins is a master in creating compelling characters you care about. I found myself with a lump in my throat a couple of times, and trying to man up while I held back a tear or two. Bravo Suzanne Collins. Hunger Games gets five out of five stars from me.

On a personal note, this book came at an interesting time for me. I’m writing a book from the point-of-view of a 15-year-old girl, and this story helped me get over something I was struggling with. I spent a lot of time trying to make my character sound like a teenage girl which was a mistake. This book taught me that it was more important to find the characters unique voice and stop force feeding stereotypes on her. Thank you Suzanne Collins. Once again, if you want to be a good writer, read a good book.

UPDATE: Just got word that Book 2 of the Hunger Games series is done and set for release on September 8, 2009.  The title is Catching Fire. Here’s a link to a Publisher’s Weekly (has image of new cover)

Who Does the Vampire Genre Best?

I just wanted to test out the new WordPress feature, PollDaddy. Since you all seem to love Vampires and various other creatures of the night, let’s find out which you like best. There are no right or wrong answers, and you will win no prices. All you get is the satisfaction that you have made your opinion known to my bloggerhood.

Defending Stephanie Meyer

Give a Girl a Break!

Give a Girl a Break!

Apparently a large number of Stephanie Meyer fans are not happy about her latest installment in the Twilight series. They are so incensed that they are returning the books in droves. Whether it’s small droves or big droves remains to be seen. But the fact is there are unhappy campers in the Twilight world. And their plight and decided mode of protest bring up a couple of interesting points.

1. Does the author have more of an obligation to the characters he or she creates or the readers that purchase his or her book(s)? Meyer did what she felt as the creator of the series was best for the story. Most readers agreed with her it seems until the 4th book. Are fans more than interested spectators? Do they have a right to demand that an author write the book as they see fit? This is where the world of art and commerce collide. Sometimes the artist isn’t always going to do the popular thing. Does that make him or her wrong? I have to side with Stephanie Meyer on this one. She is at the helm. It’s her book that she publishes through Little, Brown. Together, they made the decision this was the way to go with the story.

2. When is a book returnable? I’m all for returning a product that is defective. But what constitutes a defective book? Does bad writing and a bad story really qualify as being defective? If you read a book from beginning to end, hasn’t the product fulfilled its purpose? Does not enjoying a book really allow the customer to return the book with a clear conscience? I’ve eaten in restaurants in which I didn’t enjoy the meal, but I’ve never refused to pay the bill because I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m an author with books on the market, but I’m kind of bothered by this trend. It doesn’t seem appropriate to me to read a book and then return it. It’s like buying an expensive shirt, wearing it out on the town and then returning it the next day because of buyer’s remorse. Not a fan.

I’m may be totally off base here. Tell me I’m crazy. What do you think? You can visit this discussion group on Amazon to see what all the disgruntled Twilight fans are saying: Unhappy with Breaking Dawn? Don’t burn it–RETURN it!

BTW – I haven’t read Breaking Dawn so I’m not passing judgment on Ms. Meyer’s writing. I’m merely passing along what I’ve read in various articles and discussion groups.

Publishers Want A Book A Year From Their Authors – Authors Want Publishers To Get Bent

Okay, so the headline overstates it just a bit, but according to an article in The Boston Globe some top tier authors are complaining because their publishers are pressuring them to crank out a book every year.  Authors feel like they’re thrown into an assembly-line situation where they’re relying more on a formulaic writing style instead of creativity.  Publishers know that authors who put out a book a year sell more books than authors who don’t.  If you want proof of this, look up Stephanie Meyer on Amazon. As I’m writing this, she has four books in the top twenty just because they recently started pre-selling her newest book set to be released in August of this year.  This announcement sparked increased sales in her three previous books.       

This is easy for me to say as an independent author, but I would agree to a book a year in a New York minute.  I’m basically doing that now.  I published a book in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and I’ll probably even have a second release this year. Now, I don’t have the same kind of editorial review that mainstream authors have, but I’ve had a small taste of it in the past, and I actually found the deadlines conducive to being more creative.  I’ve always found that the more direction and restrictions I’m given the more creative I am. 

Truth be known, I’m a little annoyed with the attitude expressed by authors like Patricia Cornwell.  She actually said “It’s no problem, as long as you don’t have a life.”  The rest of the world calls it having a job. Everyone sacrifices for their careers.  Granted, I truly don’t know what kind of stress and strain she’s under, but I can’t imagine it’s more than your average cop on the street or doctor in the emergency room.  I worked retail at one point in my life, and during that time I missed spending time with my family on major holidays. 

I think what this article really proves is that no matter what job you have you’re going to bitch and moan about it.  You don’t become a published author by accident.  You work at it.  You dream about it.  You pray for it.  I’m sure most the authors quoted in the article wouldn’t hesitate to sign a book a year contract with a publisher if they had never been published before. 

Working this from the self-publishing angle, I agree with the publishers on this one.  I sell more copies of each book because I have multiple books on the virtual shelves.  It’s incredibly hard to sell books in today’s market.  There were over 400,000 books published in this country alone last year.  It’s a business that is not for the faint of heart.  If a book a year helps you sell books, do it.  But then again, you have to take my opinion with a grain of salt because I don’t have a publishing contract.  I’m speaking on this particular topic from the outside looking in.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to give you an insider’s view in the very near future. 

In Los Angeles – BEA Here I Come

Arrived in Los Angeles.  Had a relatively painless trip, but I witnessed three things that terrified and mystified me.

1.     I stopped at FedEx this morning on the way to the airport and watched in amazement while a UPS driver walked in the building and delivered a package to someone who works at FedEx.  I think this is one of the signs of the apocalypse. 

2.     I almost walked off the plane in Charleston this morning when an International soccer team boarded.  My history of International soccer teams and air travel is sketchy, but I’m under the impression they crash in the mountains a lot and eat each other.  My one saving grace is there aren’t any mountains between Charleston and Atlanta. 

3.     Some guy on the flight from Atlanta to LA stole my seat.  When I pointed out that ‘B’ (my seat) was the aisle seat, he said “No it isn’t.”  I showed him the diagram and he was unfazed.  When I said “Yeah,  I really think the aisle is ‘B’” he wasn’t moved.  I was stunned and shocked at the lengths to which he denied reality.  I sat next to the window and had a very awkward 4 ½ hour flight.   All I could think was we were going to crash and everyone was going to think I was that jerkhole because he was sitting in 30’B’ – MY SEAT! 

On a less frightening note, I finished my rewrites and my new outline.  Finished until I get more editorial suggestions back that is. 

BTW – I forogt to bring a book so I picked up Twilight by Stephanie Meyer in the airport.  Vampire romance is not my thing, but I am enjoying it so far.