My book Download is now available on Amazon published under the name K.D. Schultz. It’s a thriller set against the financial meltdown of 2008. A geeky National Security Agency analyst uncovers a band of murderous computer hackers and finds himself next on their hit list.
Monthly Archives: November 2014
I just reviewed the final galley of Truth-Teller Revenge. It looked great with only two small changes. Hurrah. Revenge is still on track for a January release.
Every author should strive to put out an excellent product. That requires an excellent plot and interesting characters. That’s the fun part. A quality book also requires meticulous editing, but poring over a manuscript line by line isn’t fun. I’ve gone half cross-eyed editing since June.
I’ve made a resolution to write cleaner, more typo free books. I’ve seen others in my critique group do it. I’m thinking of you, Laura Henson. One aid I recently learned of is the editing ‘option’ menu under ‘file’ in Word 2010. That will help eliminate some errors.
Unfortunately, some things don’t come easy to me. Word order is a bit of a problem. I blame it all on my dear mother. Inverted word order was natural to her, and sounds natural to me. She in turn blamed it on the Amish neighbors of the family farm in Painesville, Ohio. It just means I have to work a little harder.
Anathem by Neal Stephenson is a difficult book to review and at times to read. It’s a thousand page book. There’s a lot to love in it, but other parts fell flat for me. Here’s my take on it without any major SPOILERS.
The protagonist Erasmus, an avout, lives a monk-like existence in a scientific monastery on a world that is Earth-like, but it isn’t Earth. There is minimal contact between the avout in their monasteries and the secular world. What made it a slog is that the reader must negotiate a plethora of strange English-sounding words. Most these words have a meaning similar to something in English, but it takes a while to figure out just what. Nonetheless, the book intrigued me enough that I kept reading.
Stephenson likes his science. Anathem has more pages devoted to science and mathematics than any sci fi book I’ve read. For me, the many problems in logic and scientific descriptions weren’t necessary for the story and often slowed it down. I’m scientifically oriented, but I found myself skimming over portions.
The narrative picks up in the middle of the book. An alien ship is orbiting the planet. The avout and the seculars join together to deal with this possible threat. As a result, Erasmus finds himself on a quest through the secular world, which he is largely ill equipped to deal with. This middle part of the novel was my favorite.
The last third, which could have been a page-turner, became another slog. The alien ship is evidently from one or more parallel worlds or existences. Page upon page was devoted to discussing this. Enough! Someone studying the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanical may find this fascinating. I found it tedious and skimmed over large sections. For me Anathem has too much science. I need character, plot, and a gripping narrative.
Ironically, despite Anathem’s strong rooting in science, I found several unrealistic aspects of the novel, which pulled me from my suspension of disbelief. Most of these revolved around the unrealistic roles of Erasmus and his young colleagues in the last third of the book.
Young Cary, Krin, and Oliver in my Truth-Teller books have an impact on the world around them, but they do it in a credible way. Twenty-one year old Luther in Truth-Teller Revenge does assume leadership of the Jacombers, but he does it in his small, religiously charged community.
For being a logically oriented novel, Anathem has other disconnects. I don’t want to give out SPOILERS, but, among other issues, I don’t think the method of signaling the alien ship would have worked.
Anathem seems written for the YA scientific geek. I’m glad I read it, but I think less science and a more realistic plot would have made it a better novel.
Check out this Seattle Weekly article about Amazon.
It includes interviews with Seattle area authors Robert Dugoni, Megan Chance, and Greg Bear about the challenges of getting published. All three are very hard working and determined authors. I’ve heard Robert and Megan speak many times at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Summer Conference. Greg Bear was the keynote speaker at the same conference a few years ago.
A few takeaways and thoughts:
* Wow, the book industry has totally changed in the seven years since the Kindle came out in 2007. It will change even more in the years ahead, but not in a predictable way. As Greg Bear points out, what is publishable in the e-book format is different from what was possible in the traditional world.
* Amazon’s transformation of the book business has been pretty hit and miss, and has been marked by several failures along the way.
* Amazon Publishing may be shunned by bookstores, but it has a huge advantage in e-books where Amazon is putting its marketing focus behind its own authors. This is making it more difficult on self-published authors and indie presses, like my publisher, Champagne.
* Even if you get a traditional book contract, it’s hard to get the next one.
* E-books have created more opportunities for writers than the traditional publishing business, but it still isn’t easy to establish a readership.
I don’t normally read the Seattle Weekly. I found out about this article from my daily e-mail from PW Daily, which is a free Publishers Weekly e-newsletter. I recommend all serious writers to subscribe to this newsletter so they can better understand the publishing business.