Sunday, July 3, 2011

Will someone please tell me I write better than this? (and 13,319)

So the writing wasn't going as smoothly last night as I wanted.  I'm at one of those points where I need to insert some backstory narrative and I hate just doing a bland info-dump even though it can be fixed on a rewrite.  Before today is over, I'll probably do the info-dump and move on, but it's still a struggle and a nuisance.

I had to take a break from it, so I went surfing, which means browsing through the Kindle offerings on Amazon. This in itself is a frustration, because Amazon limits one's browsing capacity to 100 pages or 1200 titles, sorted either by best-selling, high-to-low or low-to-high price, review ratings, or date of issue.   I decided to try the low-to-high price sort on historical romances for the Kindle, and that was a waste.

Here's what I got --
Lots of Austen reprints, in a variety of languages.
Lots of Bronte reprints, in a variety of languages.
Just about everything by Sir Walter Scott
Lots of stuff by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
War and Peace in a variety of languages.
Anna Karenina in a variety of languages.
A lot of Zane Grey, Thomas Hardy, George McDonald and George Meredith, some Rafael Sabatini.
A lot of "classic" erotica
A lot of Ellora's Cave reprints
Four full pages (47 entries) of  Don Quixote in installments
Short stories (some of which were identified as such and some not)

And a few historical romances.

The problem was that I was kind of looking for stuff published in the $1.99 - $3.99 range, but I never got any of that.  I didn't want the agency-priced $7.99 and up stuff either.  I wanted the stuff I'd have seen on the shelf in a bookstore -- the mass-market paperback historical romances.  Not the cheap reprints of classics, not 19th century erotica, not Tolstoy in German.  I can't look the stuff up by author because I don't know who most of the authors are these days, and anyway I might want to try someone new that I've never heard of.  Nope, sorry, Amazon won't let you do that.

So that frustrated me and put me in a bad mood.  I should not even look at sneak previews of books when I'm in that kind of mood, especially self-published books, but I downloaded several free samples anyway in the hope that maybe at least one of them would prove worthwhile.

None did.

Now, I wrote a few days ago that I wasn't going to do reviews here, and I'm not.  I will not identify the books, nor will I quote from them.  I just want to know, does anyone consider this worth putting out money for?

#1  Opening scene has the heroine "looking at herself own face in the mirror". . . . . . . . .

#2  Opening scene has hero being threatened with bodily harm by the heroine for a full page as she details exactly what horrors she's going to visit upon his person, and he does. . . . nothing. . . . except to compare the tilt of the heroine's hairdo to the Leaning Tower of Piza[sic]. . . . .

#3  Opening scene actually isn't too bad, if you can get past the immediate flashback in the first paragraph and a whole lot of head-hopping (which normally doesn't bother me).  But then comes page after page after page without a paragraph indent, British titles used willynilly and wrong. . . . . . . . .really wrong. . . . .

#4  Opening scene has more incorrectly used British titles, a huge and very clumsy backstory info-dump that goes on for pages and pages and pages of narrative.  The writing isn't bad, but where's the story?  Where's the action?  Where's the dialogue that could have given the backstory scenes at least a little bit of life?

#5  The last one turned out not to be self-published at all, though it had one of the worst and most amateurish covers I have ever seen in my life.  Though I've considered some of the covers on my own books to be horrible in terms of their ability to generate sales, none were even close to as tacky, cheesy, just plain shitty as this one.  Yet the front matter of the sample indicated that this was a product of an established e-publisher and proudly (??) listed the editors' names (there were two of them) and the artist's name.  But I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, so I began reading the very very brief (four pages) sample.  Ugh and double ugh.  More info-dump.  More illogic.  More crummy writing.

Please, someone, tell me this is halfway decent?

      "Marshal, we got some trouble brewing," a breathless Todd Newcomb announced as he stumbled through the open doorway. "There's a medicine show wagon up at the north end of town."
      Todd had run the entire distance to the marshal's office, a sure indication he considered the matter of some importance. A man of his age and weight didn't run that far without good cause.
     "They got a pretty good crowd gathered, too," he added ominously.
     Sloan McDonough took his feet off his desk and unfolded his long lanky form from the wooden chair. He reached for the hat hung on a peg behind him, then, when the hat was securely seated on his head, he adjusted the familiar but never comfortable weight of the gun at his hip.
     "Thanks for letting me know, Todd. I'll take a look right away."
     "I knew they was up to no good the minute they pulled into town," the marshal's visitor continued. "Folks here work hard; it ain't right that some phony doctor comes in and — "
     "I said I'll take care of it."
     Though spoken softly, Sloan's words carried the weight of authority. Todd Newcomb nodded his acquiescence.
     As he followed Todd to the door, Sloan involuntarily gave up a sigh of resignation. He had been looking forward to a quiet evening now that the day was almost over. Instead he would likely have to escort some sniveling confidence man ten miles out onto the prairie and order the man not to set up shop in Coker's Grove again. It had happened often enough before.

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