Just in Passing

Written Sunday, in a state of profound boredom, so drop a shakerful of salt on it.

Browsing through Amazon’s best seller lists is always fun when there are more important things I should be doing.

“It’s the Annual Ambassadorial Ball in Glause, and Lady Isabella Farrah, the daughter of New Civet’s Ambassador, is feeling pleasantly scintillated. “ Described as “an inventive and funny mystery,” but I suspect the author didn’t intend readers to be amused by her unfortunate vocabulary choice.

Battlefield scenes are necessarily gross in the aftermath, but there’s no need to give the reader an additional reason to cringe. In this case, two additional reasons. “He knew what lay around him. Meat was meat – whether dead or undead. He hopped down from its perch onto a headless corpse, poking his beak into the cold yellow flesh where the head once rested. Slithers of meat were pulled away from the ragged stump…”

I downloaded a freebie from J.A. Konrath yesterday, out of curiosity, since thrillers aren’t really my thing. Konrath is a successful, popular writer, with a blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, that I used to find moderately interesting and useful. Lately, it focuses on his various publishing projects, so that’s dropped off my reading list.

Of The List: a Thriller, there isn’t much I can say. I quit reading about halfway through. I had anticipated learning something about setting up and maintaining suspense in a novel, but there wasn’t any. For a thriller, it was surprisingly flat and bland, with enough examples of awkward writing to make me wonder if this was another example of why some authors are so popular. They don’t really write very well, but they apparently are able to come up with stories that keep a certain class of readers coming back for more.

Book titles fascinate me. Sometimes I’ll read a blurb just because the title was catchy, or weird, or WTF? Happily Ever Now: The cover illustration clearly says this is a romance, and the title might have been reaching for a clever version of Happy for Now, or Happy Ever After.

365 Days of Clean Eating probably has something to do with not eating junk food or those horrible carbs, but it kind of made me wonder if it’s meant to accompany all those clean romances that are cluttering up what’s supposed to be the historical fiction category.

Stuck up Suit is by the authors of Cocky Bastard, so the authors obviously have a clever thing going. Do the books follow through? They’re romances, so I’ll never know.

Free historical fiction is littered with mail order bride titles, some of which proclaim themselves to be clean, and some even claim historical settings. This is one of the categories where actual titles just aren’t that important. “Mail Order Bride: CLEAN Western Historical Romance” is apparently enough to suck in the readers. Well, the title is on the cover, you say. Often enough, the title isn’t even legible. Maybe it’s the photo that tells readers whether they’ve already read and tossed it. I can’t imagine the authors who resort to extreme keyword stuffing ever producing anything actually worth reading.

I scour the free bestsellers almost every day because, yes, I’m cheap. The freebies offset the cost of the books that I do buy, and I buy a lot. Also, many brand-new authors put out their first books as freebies, so you never know when you’re going to stumble over something that makes you impatient for the writer’s next book. Alas, sometimes there isn’t a next book, and the author simply disappears off the face of the earth. And sometimes the next book isn’t that great.

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6 thoughts on “Just in Passing

  1. Did you read Derek Haines’s post on why he’s giving up indie publishing after putting out 17 books. He reckons it was great in the early days; then the romance/crime-mystery writers got on board and everything went to the dogs as they swamped everybody else. Frankly, if I had 17 books out there, I’d happily quit, too. .

    1. Send me a link? I can’t find anything on his website. I run into his stuff once in a while, but that’s all. Whatever he has to say about it, I think he’s wrong.

    2. Okay, found it on his Amazon page. Sounds pretty sour grapes, to me. I looked at one of his books years ago. I wasn’t impressed. Does he really think a book on the collapse of capitalism by an obscure writer is going to compete?

      1. Only got to finding the link this morning – but you got there, anyway. Re your comment: But if you’re ever going to have some kind of profile/following, you’d guess it’d be after 17 books … I think he might be making a valid point. Btw, it was romance/fantasy he was referring to, not romance/crime-mystery, sorry.

        1. I think I’d have to ask what his goal was in writing, and whether it was realistic. And whether he wrote the kind of books that can develop a fan base. It would be interesting to look at all of them and see what kind of pattern they make, or if there is one, and what kind of readers they’d attract. If I had loads of time.

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