indieBRAG Blog

Interrupting a Great Story

When I think about why I love to read, I think about getting so lost in the story that I can't hear the teakettle whistling or even feel the need to reach for a cookie. Perhaps the story has the kind of dialogue that lets me see the characters in full animation sparking words and phrases back and forth like a tennis match. Sometimes the author is such a wordsmith that the village comes to life with stores, sidewalks, children, and a mountain behind and I just know that I've been there. If the writer is exquisite, the words flow like poetry, oozing out like oil paints to wrap my soul in time and place. When the story captures me, it flows and I am carried away to other places, other times, and it is brilliant. I don't like to have a great story interrupted, especially by the author themselves. Unfortunately, the best writers can be ruined by bad formatting or poor editing. Recently I read an e-book that was written by a true wordsmith, a writer that pushed the story along with the best dialogue and turned a phrase with pure poetry, a story-tellers dream. The grammar was perfect, but the dialogue was set up with odd punctuation marks that forced me to remember when a character was talking and who it was. The other problem was the writer's love affair with historic authenticity, to the point that there were footnotes at the bottom of each page. If I had been reading a paper book, I could have stayed with the flow of the story, but the e-book formatted on my Kindle in such a way that the footnotes usually ended up in the middle of the page and often in the middle of a sentence, so my eyes would have to jump over the footnote to continue with the thought. Good story floats imagination and poor grammar or distracting format can build a dam in the middle of the strongest river. - Bethany

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Proper use of the Adjective

The reason why I became a book reviewer was not only because my love for reading but because of my concerns for this age of immediate publication and the quality of the books that are being written and published. I fear that this will lower the reading standards of our future generations. I feel as a reader and a parent that we must filter out these poorly written books and find the gems! They're out there but we must stumble over many to find them. One of the concerns I have is I'm seeing more and more stories that contain adjectives in front of almost every single noun. I find that it hurts the integrity of the story and distracts the reader. If the adjective helps the quality of the word, then fine. In my opinion a strong writer knows when to use the "perfect" adjective. Another issue I have with adjectives is the use of what I call, "cliche" adjectives. I find them useless and again it lowers the quality of the noun and story. I hope that writers take what I say with a grain of salt, really consider my input as a reader and put it to good use. Steph Stephanie Moore Hopkins Author of Layered Pages Co-Founder of Ladies & Literature Book Reviewer for Historical Novel Society (on-line) Interviewer Business email address

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Rebel Puritan – Jo Ann Butler

  Author Interview: Jo Ann Butler I would like to introduce Author Jo Ann Butler, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Thank you Jo Ann for your time. I would like to first ask you about your reading interests. What was the last truly great book you've read? I just finished "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" by Jon Meacham, which will be published in November. I'm reviewing books for the Historical Novel Society, and one of the perks is seeing advance review copies. Meacham's book is a thorough look at Jefferson's life public and private life, and it is super! What book are you currently reading? I'm enjoying an advance copy of "The Plum Tree," Ellen Marie Wiseman's debut Holocaust story, and Daniel Defoe's 1722 "Journal of the Plague Year," about the bubonic plague epidemic which decimated London in 1665. I read "Plague Year" when I was researching "Rebel Puritan," since Herodias Long survives an outbreak of plague. It's also a great way to put the period's language into my head as I prepare to publish "The Reputed Wife," my "Rebel Puritan" sequel. Where is your favorite reading spot in your home? Reading in bed…

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Words for every writer!

  Word so true to every writer- "What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can't make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant - and the success will naturally follow... If you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come. And, I truly believe, that the reason I've been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money. Would you do your job and not be paid for it? I would do this job, and take on a second job just to make ends meet if nobody paid me. That's how you know you are doing the right thing."

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Sea Witch – Helen Hollick

Author Interview: Helen Hollick I would like to introduce Author Helen Hollick, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Helen, I would like to begin by asking you about your reading interests. What was the last truly great book you've read? The last book I read from cover to cover without much of a pause was Elizabeth Chadwick's Lady of the English. I was fascinated because, although I know a little about the war between Stephen and Matilda, I had absolutely no idea that Adeliza, widow of Henry I had even existed. It was a great thrill to read a beautifully written novel, and learn some accurate history at the same time. Have you ever read a book and afterward wish you'd never read it? Yes. I used to plod on, hoping that something would get better, but I now rarely continue reading books that have not grabbed my interest by page 50 – my sight isn't so good and I have too big a "to be read" pile to waste time reading something that has not enticed me into the story. What is also disappointing is to read a good, exciting, novel only to find the end…

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Booker Prize shortlist turns its back on ‘readability’

Last year's head judge, Dame Stella Rimington, was pilloried for saying she prized books that "people would read and enjoy". Her fellow judge, the former Labour MP Chris Mullin, added that he liked a novel to "zip along". The chairman of the 2012 judging panel, Sir Peter Stothard, has loftier ideals. "I felt very, very strongly that I wanted to avoid that thing where people say, 'Wow, I loved it, it's terrific'," he said of the judging process. "I'm afraid quite a lot of what counts for criticism these days is of that sort: how many stars did it get? Did I have a good time? Would my children like it? It is opinion masquerading as literary criticism," said Sir Peter, who is editor of the Times Literary Supplement.  To read full article: Our Thoughts: Let me first state the obvious - we are not in competition with the Booker Prize! We also do not wish to suggest that what they do is invalid. The Booker Prize means that the winners will become best sellers and yet are often not very "readable". Although we only work with self-published books, we have developed a system just the opposite of what this esteemed group of critics aspire to. Self- published books are often looked down upon as unworthy of traditional publication which we have proven, I believe, to not always be the case. We have readers located around the globe who read books for us and give us one determination –is this a book you would recommend to your best friend? When all the readers have provide their decision, we honor the book with our B.R.A.G.Medallion only if it has received a unanimous "Yes". In this way we are finding books that "readers" feel are worth your time and money. After all, most of us read to be amused, thrilled, titillated and, yes, educated. We hope to encourage readers who want to find a great book to visit our website and support books that are good but probably will not reach the glorified heights that one with the title of Booker Prize Winner will inevitably reach. www.bragmedallion.com

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Charlotte – Karen Aminadra

Author Interview: Karen Aminadra I would like to introduce Author Karen Aminadra, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Karen, what book had the greatest impact on you that you have read? What book made you want to write? I don't think that any one single book made me want to write. I've always been a storyteller and loved to write as a child. As a child, I loved a couple of books in particular; When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr and The Amazing Mr Blunden by Antonia Barber. Both of them are historical and they blew me away, I've read them over and over again, and still love them today. Of the books you've written, which is your favorite? Well, Charlotte is my first book that was published, so it's my baby, but Relative Deceit was the first book I actually started writing about 10 years ago. So, my answer is that both Charlotte and Relative Deceit are my favourite. What book is on your night stand? Now I am reading El Rey by Ginger Myrick. I don't have a lot of time to read, at the moment unfortunately. I have too much…

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Writing As Your Legacy

  There are seven billion human beings on earth as I write these words; a mind-boggling number that is difficult to grasp. One way to look at it is that if Bill Gates, the richest man in America, were to distribute his enormous fortune equally to every person in the world, we would each only get $9.42. Hardly worth the effort, so relax Mr. Gates we won't push for income redistribution. Out of that teeming mass of seven billion people very few of us will ever be rich or powerful or famous. Most of us will be born, live, and die without ever having made any impact upon the world whatsoever. An exception, perhaps, are those of us who have been blessed with children, thereby helping to perpetuate the human race―a critical if not noteworthy accomplishment. Lest you become overwhelmed by the futility of our shared existence, take heart. There is something you can do to help ensure that your footprints are etched into the bedrock of history, rather than blown away on the sands of time: namely, write a book. Yes, you. Conventional wisdom says that 80% of us feel we have a book inside us. But unless you take the time to commit it to paper, or even better, to an electronic file, your name will soon be forgotten after you're gone. The same holds true even for those of you who have children. If don't believe me, ask yourself this question: what are the names of your great grandparents? My case rests. So stop making excuses; stop procrastinating. Find the time to write that book bouncing around inside your brain. There has never been a better time to do this. The relatively new and rapidly expanding world of self-publishing has given you the opportunity. Seize it! Once you have written it, have it professionally edited, and then release it to the world. Even if it is not a best-seller, it will live on long after you have shuffled off this mortal coil―and someday, somewhere, someone will read it and know that you were here. Robert                                                                                                                                          indieBRAG

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The Black Banner – Helen Hart

  Author Interview: Helen Hart I would like to introduce Author Helen Hart, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Helen, I'm delighted to be interviewing you. Thank you! I would like to begin by asking you questions about your reading interests. What are you currently reading? Thank you for having me on Layered Pages, Stephanie. It's a genuine pleasure to be here. Reading is a real passion for me and I can so easily lose myself in a book. I have a fairly 'magpie' approach to the books I choose - if I like the look of it, I'll read it! I return regularly to historical fiction (Bernard Cornwell does this so well) and historical romance (I'm a big fan of Sergeanne Golon's 'Angelique' series which was so popular in the 60s and 70s). Interestingly, until recently I would have said I don't read a lot of fantasy novels but I've been completely swept away by the world created by George RR Martin and his 'Song of Ice and Fire' series (which TV viewers will know from HBO's 'Game of Thrones'). What do you plan on reading next? I'm working my way through George RR…

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Ashford – Melanie Rose Huff

Author Interview: Melanie Rose Huff I would like to introduce Author Melanie Rose Huff, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Thank you Melanie for the pleasure of this interview. I would like to ask you questions about your interests in reading. What was the last truly great book you have read? I would have to say The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. Beautifully written and meaningful. What were your favorite books as a child? Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Jolly Postman, The Phantom Tollbooth... I also loved fairy tales and pretty much anything with Arthur Rackham illustrations. What is on your night stand? Lamp, Kleenex box, clock, lip balm, several books, tonic water, a sweatshirt, and, of course, a notebook and pen. It's kind of a mess. What do you plan to read next? I just ordered my copy of Victoria Dunn's Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies. Zombie books are generally pretty low on my reading list, but I've been following Victoria's blog, Handmade by Mother, for over a year now, and I'm a huge fan of her writing style and snarky sense of humor. What's your favorite literary genre and why?…

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