Self Help Book – Success and Life Organization

Just bought this book on amazon the other day:  The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.  It was coauthored by Jack Canfield, the New York Times best selling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, so if anyone is qualified to give advice on success, it’s him.

I’m still waiting for it to arrive, but I just discovered that a large portion of this book is available online through google books (cool).  Now I don’t have to wait to start reading it.

You can read a review of The Success Principles at The Brunei Times.  Here is an excerpt from that review:

“The success principles recommended by Jack Canfield are simple, back-to-basic common sense tips but yet, sometimes the simplest things in life are always the ones that we tend to disregard…”

I was attracted to this book because it looks like it offers both psychological insights into what holds us back from being as productive as we can and achieving our goals, as well as a practical system for getting organized, including what to do with all those little scraps of paper on your desk and unfinished projects around your home.  (You should see my desk and my house — I seriously need this book!)

Canfield has also coauthored a book geared toward teenagers called The Success Principle for Teens.  If I feel the book helps me after I read it, I will probably buy this version for my nephews.

Angels of Destruction, a Book by Keith Donohue

Author, Keith Donohue, sent me an email to let me know his new book, Angels of Destruction, is out (thanks, Keith!).  You might remember that name from a previous post I did about his book, The Stolen Child.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this author, you can read his blog, called Pluck’s Bicycle.  If you’d like to know more about Angels of Destruction, check out this book review at The Washington Post, from which the following excerpt was taken. 

“Sean Fallon, a boy bereft by his father’s abandonment, befriends the peculiar new student in his third-grade class…But Sean soon witnesses strange manifestations of Norah’s distinctly unchildlike talents: She folds origami cranes, then makes them fly; she blows smoke rings that would make Gandalf envious. More disturbingly, one night Sean glances into her mouth and sees a galaxy of stars.”

L8r G8r — A Novel Using Internet-speak

The quest to feature one 2007 novel for each letter of the alphabet continues.  L8r G8r (as in “Later Gator”) by Lauren Myracle represents the letter “L,” and it looks really freakin’ cool.  It is the third in a series of young adult novels (although there’s no reason the book can’t be enjoyed by old adults, too, like me).  The first book in the series was TTYL (Talk To You Later) and the second was TTFN (TaTa For Now). 

The novel is done in a style where it is built out of instant messages.  I want to read it not only for the story, but to see how the author brings this style to life.  Plus, being an internet addict, the whole concept appeals to me.

Fantastic Fiction offers this description of this unique novel:

The winsome threesome say “l8r” to high school in this sequel to the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestsellers ttyl and ttfn

Through their instant messages, three inseparable friends have shared the ups and downs of high school. They’ve survived a flirtatious teacher, a witchy classmate, a pot-smoking smoocher, a Care Bear-toting stalker, and much, much more. Now it’s their senior year, and Angela, Zoe, and Maddie–otherwise know as the winsome threesome–are feeling invincible. Too bad Jana, the Queen Bee who made their sophomore year a nightmare, is on the warpath again.

The Oops Wrong Cookie blog says:

Don’t let the unusual format turn you off from a touching, well-written story. Yes, even though you may cringe at the thought of reading all lowercase typing, 3 different fonts (including blue type), and abbreviations like “cu”, “ur”, “plz” and “g2g”, it’s such a fun story. Honestly, there isn’t much IM language in here as I thought there would be. It’s really a novel in dialogue. Just think of it that way and give it a try.

You can view the author’s website at laurenmyracle.com or read her blog here.

Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel

Sex, sex, and more sex.  That’s what it sounds like this book consists of.  It’s not due out until December 26th, but you can pre-order it at amazon.  It’s called Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel, and it’s by bestseller Walter Mosley

Tom Callahan at bookreporter.com had this to say about the novel:

“Well, anybody who dismisses Killing Johnny Fry as pornography or salacious misses not only the point of the book but deprives themselves of the pleasure of reading one of America’s greatest writers. Yes, there is some frank, really frank, sex in this book, but it is not an erotic novel by any means. Mosley coined the term “sexistential noir” to describe this work. It is a good description because the book is not about sex.Consider the first sentence: “I decided to kill Johnny Fry on a Wednesday, but it was a week before that I was given the reason.” That tells us right away that those expecting cheap thrills will be disappointed; Mosley plunges us right into the midnight world of noir.”

Here is some information on the author from Bloomsbury USA

“Walter Mosley is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America today. He is the author of more than 25 critically acclaimed books, including the major bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. His work has been translated into 21 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times magazine and the Nation, among other publications. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy, and the PEN American Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.”

You can visit the author’s website here.

The Game (A Novella)

The Game is a children’s novella of fantasy with the story set in Ireland.  It’s also the book I’m highlighting for the letter “G” in my alphabetical listing featuring novels released in 2007.  (Which I’d better hurry and finish before 2007 is gone!)  Scifi Dimensions recently reviewed this book:

“Living on the outskirts of contemporary London, Hayley is a normal if timid girl, browbeaten by her grandmother but nurtured in spirit by her grandfather…

It doesn’t take long for Hayley to seriously put out grandma, and to be shunted off to never-before-met cousins in Ireland.  But what’s meant as punishment turns out as liberation as Hayley, an orphaned only child, is caught up in the embrace of her numerous aunts and cousins, who induct her into The Game, a scavenger hunt across the mythosphere…

The Game is perfect for young adult readers and all fans of high fantasy.  Jones’ knack for showing young people facing extraordinary challenge in magical worlds is on full display here.  Alternate worlds are always nearby in the works of Diana Wynne Jones.  It’s where you get to by going in the direction of the corner of your eye.” 

Read the entire review here.  Or you can read a biography of the author at Harper Collins Children’s Books, which begins:

“Diana Wynne Jones was born in August 1934 in London, where she had a chaotic and unsettled childhood against the background of World War II. The family moved around a lot, finally settling in rural Essex. As children, Diana and her two sisters were deprived of a good, steady supply of books by a father, ‘who could beat Scrooge in a meanness contest’. So, armed with a vivid imagination and an insatiable quest for good books to read, she decided that she would have to write them herself.  She was extremely dyslexic, so when she told her parents she wanted to be a writer, they just laughed.

Diana Wynne Jones is also the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, which was adapated into an anime movie.

Kelley Armstrong — Thanks and Index

A big thank you to Kelley Armstrong for guestblogging.  I like to include a list of each guest writer’s posts so that people can have one page to link to as a handy reference, so see the following list.  Kelley is interested in what you have to say, too, so if you haven’t commented on any of her posts yet, take a few moments to answer some of the interesting questions she has asked.  Do so before November 29th, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize.  

You can also pick up one of this prolific bestselling author’s many books on amazon.com.

Is That a Cliff I See Yawning Before Me?

Cliffhanger endings. Like ’em or loathe ’em?

For me…both. It depends on the medium. In serialized fiction, they’re good. In TV shows, they’re fine. Book and movies? Not so much. I suppose that’s because, with the other two formats, I expect cliffhangers and I know my resolution is coming soon and I won’t shell out a lot of cash to get it (as I mentioned in my last blog, I’m cheap)

When a movie ends in a cliffhanger (Pirates OTC 2 anyone?), I get annoyed. Sure, I was planning on seeing #3, but I don’t like feeling pushed into it.

Same thing with books. My classic example? A series I enjoyed until a book ended with the heroine finally picking a romantic choice…and we wouldn’t find out who until the next book. I was pissed. Had the next one been paperback, I would have bought it, but it was still hardcover, so I felt I was being pushed into buying the more expensive format…and I hate reading hardcover. Never read another book in the series. Yeah, it was a small thing, but I’m cranky and I’m stubborn.

Now, as I launch a young adult trilogy next year, the first book ends in what I suspect some will call a cliffhanger. I’d call it a hook. I’m probably splitting hairs, but when I give writing workshops, I talk about ending chapters with “hooks” to keep the reader turning the pages. To me, a cliffhanger is having the character pick a romantic interest…and making the reader wait a book to find out who it is. A hook is ending the book at a point where the protagonist is obviously in deep sh*t (it’s YA, I can’t swear), but she’s not hanging from a cliff, about to drop at any second.

I have agonized over this ending. It’s a trilogy with an overarching plot, so there was no “resolution” possible yet.

Originally, I did end it with a true cliffhanger. Everything goes to sh*t…curtain drops. Ouch. I knew I could never do that to readers. So I added a chapter, answering some questions and getting the protagonist into a temporarily safe place–a cave on the cliffside, if you will.

I know I’ll catch flak. And I may piss some readers off–which I hate to do. If it was me reading the book, I think I’d be okay with it but, yeah, I might feel a little manipulated into buying the next book to get all my questions answered.

So, toss in your ten cents. How do you feel about cliffhangers? About hooks? Is there a difference?

If an author clearly states this book one of a trilogy, do you expect an open ending and unanswered questions? Or do you want a temporary wrap up?

Kelley Armstrong is the NYT bestselling author of the urban fantasy series, The Otherworld. For info on her novels or to read sample chapters, check out her website at www.KelleyArmstrong.com.

Once Free, Forever Free?

Yesterday I referred to a NYT essay by Stephen King on short fiction. Today, I’m cribbing from the Wall Street Journal, specifically a piece by Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) .

Adams used some of his past blog entries for a new book, which meant they had to be removed from the web. For that, he caught flak from readers, some of whom retaliated by giving the book bad Amazon reviews. As he said, “For readers of my non-Dilbert books, I inadvertently set the market value for my work at zero. Oops.”

Why does this interest me? Because next year I have an anthology coming out…of work I originally posted online for free. Let me explain…

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned I did annual online novellas. Freebies. The #1 ongoing question I get asked is: when will these be available in a real book? I’ve always said they’re meant to be free, but I’ve admitted to hoping that someday I can publish them as a charitable endeavour.

My chance came this summer. Long story short, my agent was approached and, ultimately, the collection went to my regular publishers. We negotiated to keep most of the short stories, my latest novella and a graphic-novella-in-progress online. The older stuff (4 novellas & 2 stories) is being edited, and put into a single volume. My advance and any royalties I earn will go to World Literacy.

This seemed a good way to balance the demand for a “real book” version with my unwillingness to profit from these “freebies.” But am I totally comfortable with it? No. And I wouldn’t have been any more comfortable turning down the offer.

I would have liked to keep the stories online. I understand why the publisher won’t allow that (and it was what I expected). I suppose if I bought a book and discovered the same stories were currently free online, I’d be miffed. And I don’t even like to read online. I just wouldn’t like the feeling I’d been “ripped off” (yes, I’m cheap)

So, is Adams right? Does putting work (fiction or nonfiction) free on the web set the market value at zero? What would you say if you bought a book of stories, only to discover they’d once been free online? Or that they were still free online?

Kelley Armstrong is the NYT bestselling author of the urban fantasy series, The Otherworld. For info on her novels or to read sample chapters, check out her website at www.KelleyArmstrong.com

Is Bigger Really Better?

Hello! I’m Kelley Armstrong, and I’ll be your guest blogger for the next three days 🙂 For more on me, check out the signature below my post…

I was answering questions for an interview last week, and one was about short stories. I said I started with short stories, and love the opportunity to do shorter fiction (novellas or short stories).

In September, Stephen King wrote an essay in the NYT Book Review on short fiction “What Ails the Short Story” For those who like short stories, it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know . . . or suspect. The patient is sick, and not likely to recover any time soon.

One might think that the decline of short fiction seems odd in a world obsessed by time. Shouldn’t a book of twenty short stories be ideal? You can read one and put the book aside for later, without losing the story line as you would in a novel.

I think that’s too simplistic a view. Yes, we’re strapped for time. But entertainment seems to be the one arena where shorter isn’t always better. We’re happy to plunk ourselves in a movie theatre chair for three hours. We’re fine with six hundred page novels.

As an author, you’ll get more complaints if your book is short, and I don’t think that’s all about bang for your buck. A novel or a movie sweeps us away to another world and, if it’s a good one, we don’t want to leave it too quickly. We want to linger and savour.

Some ideas just aren’t novel length, so I love the flexibility of switching to novellas and short stories. I used to do an annual online fiction offering, primarily novellas, in e-serial form. One year I switched to a short story a month (which, let me tell you, is much tougher than a twelve chapter novella!)

The general consensus, though, was that while readers appreciated seeing dramatizations of backstory, they really preferred novellas. And, if they had their way, I’d make those into full-length novels.

When I ask why people don’t read short fiction, the most common answer is: “It’s too short. I get involved in the story and I want more.” Many will say that short fiction doesn’t emotionally engage them the way novels do.

Short stories are often more concerned with ideas than emotion, plot over character. Is the answer there, then? Do we crave emotional satisfaction over intellectual stimulation? Or, again, is that too simplistic?

Having said how much I love to read and write short stories, I have a horrible confession to make. I don’t read nearly as many short stories as I do novels, and it’s not for lack of material. Intellectually, I enjoy them. A well-written short story can move and stimulate me in ways novels don’t. But when I curl up, tired, at the end of the day, I want to lose myself in a story I’ve been enjoying for a while. I want a novel.

What about you? Do you read short stories? Novellas? Why or why not?

Kelley Armstrong is the NYT bestselling author of the urban fantasy series, The Otherworld. For info on her novels or to read sample chapters, check out her website at www.KelleyArmstrong.com.

Bestseller Kelley Armstrong Rescheduled

Okay, Kelley Armstrong, bestselling author of the Women of the Otherworld novels, will be guestblogging on November 12 through 14 (Monday through Wednesday) here at A Bunch of Wordz.  We have worked out the email snafu that prevented her from guestblogging in October, so she is all set to go now.

It’s pretty cool that she has taken time out of her schedule to write for my tiny, little blog, so I feel fortunate to have her here.  Don’t forget to check back in on those dates.