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review 2018-06-25 00:00
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

After being out of commission for more than a week due to my back, I am glad to finally get to post some reviews. Today is the first day since the 14th that I have been able to sit in a chair and what a relief it is! The upside of not being able to do much is that I got 5 books finished, so I guess there is good in everything. : )

 

I thought Eleanor Oliphant.... was an unusual but also a great book! I adored 30-something Eleanor, with her social awkwardness and saying whatever came to mind (totally unaware that people didn't voice those opinions). I felt sad for her too-- that she had such a painful childhood, her incredible loneliness, and her status as a social pariah. At the beginning of the book, when all Eleanor's social difficulties started to reveal themselves, I initially thought that maybe she had Asperger's Syndrome or some form of autism, but as the book progressed, the reason for her lack of social skills and stunted emotional and cultural development became apparent, and I even more empathetic. 

When she develops a crush on the lead singer of a band that she has never met, just seen briefly in concert (her first crush ever), she becomes obsessed and believes that it is destiny and they are meant to meet, fall in love and marry, and thus make her over-bearing and incredibly cruel mother happy. She eventually has a reality check, and Raymond (her IT co-worker) comes to the rescue. I adored this heart-warming book featuring the unique character of Miss Oliphant and how she chooses to become the victor and no longer the victim.

 

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text 2018-06-06 15:46
The Fatness wins a second award!
The Fatness - Mark A. Rayner

NEW YORK, NY – On June 3rd, New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons announced The Fatness won in the humor category of the annual IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDAs). The announcement was made at BookExpo America (BEA), a major publishing trade show.

 

This is the second literary award the satirical novel has garnered! The Fatness won a silver International Book Publishing Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin award for humor in April this year.

 

“The books that won the IRDAs this year are not just great indie books; they are great books, period. We hope that our efforts via the IRDAs ensure that they receive attention from the people who matter most. Potential readers,” said Amy Edelman, founder of IndieReader.

IRDA winner

 

Judges for the awards included notable publishers, agents, publicists and bloggers. The Fatness received the following verdict from IndieReader’s reviewers: “The Fatness is a story of socialism gone wrong, set amid a plausible backdrop with witty characters who will steal your heart and snag your cheeseburger, if you’re not careful.”

 

I’d like to thank the professionals who helped me put the book together. The incredible talents of my editor, Cal Chayce of Wording.ca, the fabulous cover design of Taryn Dufault and the exact proofing of Pauline Nolet all contributed to the book’s success. And don’t forget all my beta readers, friends and family who also helped me shape The Fatness into something approaching good shape. You can read about them in the acknowledgements of the novel.

 

And of course, you should get yourself a copy! You can buy it here.

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text 2018-05-07 16:00
It's a major award!
The Fatness - Mark A. Rayner

Actually, it's pretty cool. The Fatness won a Silver in the humor category of the 30th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™

 

These awards aren’t well-known generally, but they’re quite prestigious and valuable indicators of quality. The Independent Book Publishing Association (IBPA) has more than 3,000 members, and is the largest publishing trade association in the U.S. This year’s contest had 1,500 entries.

 

Full story here, including my thanks to everyone who worked on the book. Buy the book at Amazon!

 

IBPA award

 

 

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text 2018-03-25 08:27
Book Awards - To compete or not to compete?

To compete or not to compete?

 

Does entering writing competitions achieve anything other than deplete your bank account and inflate others?

 

Maybe - for the few who win, place or show.

 

Last year I researched contests, this year I'm entering them.

 

Why?

 

My writing career is going nowhere and doing the same things and expecting different results is a definition of insanity, right? So to delay that diagnosis last year I sent East Van Saturday Night - five short stories and a novella to maybe a dozen traditional Canadian publishers hoping they could take some of that grant money they get from the federal government and publish my book. Indie authors get no respect, and in most cases don't deserve any, but traditionally published authors get it whether they deserve it or not.

 

Most didn't even bother to reply, a few sent generic rejections and one, Thistledown Press, actually wrote a letter saying "while your writing is fresh, visceral and intuitively captures the rawness of youth and the dark energy of East Van, we do not have an audience presently to support such work."

 

Nice, but no cigar.

 

This year I'm thinking some recognition from a notable contest might generate some interest among readers and publishers. At the very least I could use the phrase "award winning" or "shortlisted" to stimulate my webpage and social media sites.

 

I began by submitting The Death You Choose, a story about a senior who realizes he has dementia and decides to take his own life rather than be relegated to the living dead, to Writer's Digests' Short Short Story contest in January.

 

The fee was $30 and the submission was an online so no additional costs were incurred.

I can't find out who won, but obviously it wasn't me, however, the fee might have been worth the exercise in editing a story about four times too long down to the required 1500 words.

 

Next I entered The Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction sponsored by Prism, a literary publication put out by The Creative Writing Program of the University of British Columbia.

 

I was ambivalent about this submission because I feel there's an inherent bias in favour of submissions from fellow academics, and that's not me. I mean how would it look if someone without a degree in Creative Writing won a contest sponsored by a Creative Writing Department?

 

However, they kept extending the deadline which I interpreted as they were light on submissions, which means my work might have a better chance. Publication in literary magazines can fast track a career. I know it's hard to believe, but in Canada it's true.

So I sent in East Van Saturday Night and the Paper Shack, two short stories from the anthology that traditional publishers have all but given up on.

 

Why two? The entry fee for one was $35, and only an additional five bucks for a second one. Again, an online submission so no additional costs.

 

Results are pending.

 

I chose my novel Abandoned Dreams to submit to the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards in the category of literary fiction. Here's where it starts to get expensive and that question about sanity begins to arise again.

 

Submission fee is $99.00 CA plus you have to send a paperback so add $20 for the cost of the book and shipping.

 

The submission process was the same for The National Indie Excellence Awards to which I submitted a paperback edition of Mad Maggie.

 

By the middle of April I plan to submit Forest to The Book Pipeline Competition which seeks material for film or television adaptation. They want approximately the first 5,000 words and full synopsis (1-3 pages). I think a good movie about Sasquatches is long overdue, don't you?

 

And once I finish this blog I'm going to submit The Big Picture to the 2018 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest to get their early bird discount of $89 USD. I'm entering this competition primarily because I like that "all entrants receive a mini-critique which will provide ratings on five key literary areas: appearance, plot, development, formatting and marketability."

 

If you lose, at least they tell you why?

 

As the year progresses I might even enter more contests - until I run out of money, or go back on my meds.

 

Want to preview the books I've entered? Go to my Amazon Author Page at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Readers' Favorite Annual Book Award Contest

https://readersfavorite.com/annual-book-award-contest.htm

 

The 5th Annual Book Pipeline Competition

https://bookpipeline.com/

 

 

Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs

 

30

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text 2018-03-20 17:25
Just starting ...
Too Like the Lightning - Ada Palmer

After a really long hiatus, publisher TOR (Macmillan publishing group) just reinstated* their monthly free ebook club (join by adding your email, no charge, will all be Science Fiction or Fantasy genre ebooks).

 

There's a booklikes bookclub at http://booklikes.com/book-clubs/88/tor-monthly-free-ebook-science-fiction-and-fantasy if anyone cares to join in he read.  Club hasn't seen much activity because almost as soon as booklikes club started TOR tabled the program for a while.

 

Not actually sure about the book.  New to me author.  Book description makes it sound like could be a juicy, immersive read for me withh lots of politics, worldbuilding and religion -- or else too bogged down in politics and religion if done wrong.

 

*ETA or not just reinstated.  See Familiar Diversions comment, thye got a February one I missed.  My apologies to the booklikes bookclub for missing it.  I'll update club shelves when I found out what the February book was.

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