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High on a Mountain: Tommie Lyn

July 28, 2011 5 comments

As a boy, Ailean MacLachlainn dreamed of living an adventurous life and longed to be a celebrated warrior of his clan. Until a shy smile and a glance from Mùirne’s blue eyes turned his head and escalated his rivalry with Latharn into enmity and open conflict.

When Ailean became a man, his boyhood dreams faded. Until Bonnie Prince Charlie came to reclaim his father’s throne. The Jacobite loyalties of Ailean’s clan chief involved the MacLachlainns in the uprising and set Ailean on a course toward a destiny of which he could never have dreamed.

What happens when a man’s dreams turn to dust? And when a man loses everything, does he have what it takes to go on?

High on a Mountain is the stirring tale of one man’s remarkable journey through life; a story of adventure and love…of faith, loss and redemption.

About the Author
Tommie Lyn resides in the beautiful Florida panhandle with her husband of 48 years (who was her high school sweetheart). She spends part of each day engrossed in the lives of the characters who people her novels.

Visit her on the ‘net: http://tommielyn.com

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There’s a lot of action and emotion in High on a Mountain, which is usually a good thing; and I found only minor problems with punctuation and grammar which, compared to most of the books I review here, were inconsequential.

Where the book really failed for me was in the writer’s style. Ms Lyn is rather fond of extraneous detail; she has a tendency to list her characters’ actions instead of showing her readers the action is unfolding. There’s a tendency to hammer plot points home by telling the reader what is happening two or three times: and there are a few very clunky transitions from one point-of-view to another which made the text quite difficult to follow at times.

What really put me off this book, though, was the stereotypical Hollywood treatment that the author gave to the Highlands and its people; and the lack of freshness present in the storyline and in the writer’s style. This book has a dull and dated flavour, I’m afraid, from its tin-of-shortbread tartan cover to its two-feuding-men-both-fall-for-the-same-girl storyline. It’s a valiant attempt but despite the relatively clean text, it didn’t work for me. I read thirty-four out of its three hundred and seventy-nine pages and doubt that any editor worth her fee would be able to bring this up to a good enough standard.

Dark Muse: Broken Sword

June 16, 2011 7 comments

He chose love, finding passion in verse…

She chose him, and bent his passion…

***

the  Dark Muse will come to find there’s more to mortal love than words…

Within a quill’s ink, the story of Jason will bleed muses and myths, romance, seduction, and betrayal.

*

Jason, a miller from 18th Century Carolina, seeks to escape a loveless marriage while on an Atlantic voyage to Italy, aboard a ship whose captain hides a pirate past. As he watches his wedding ring disappear beneath the waves, he’s chosen to alter his path. Within his yearning to find true love, is a hidden passion for rhyme and verse. Taking strength from his words, he builds relationships with others onboard who share his passionate nature, including a supernatural muse who shapes and his words and ideas, and ultimately, the truths he finds within himself.

*

When his poetry becomes more than a connection between himself and his emotions, Jason finds the opportunity for love that he seeks. But another has already claimed him. Exotic and erotic, the Dark Muse clings to his senses, forming the kiss on his lips.

Immortal, Leanan Sidhe is a Queen of the Fae, and daughter of the Sea Gods. As Jason holds a hand out to the love he’s been seeking, at lust crashes like Atlantic waves on the rock of his soul, his experiences with both will be defined

In terms of betrayal…

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One of the reasons for publishing our work is that we want it to find readers; and we want those readers to enjoy our writing, and to get something back from it which adds value to their lives. Unfortunately there is little chance of that happening with Dark Muse.

The book contains the usual sprinkling of misplaced commas, and a good few problems with other punctuation marks too. Those problems could be fixed by a competent copy editor: but the biggest problem with this book would still remain.

The text is quite remarkably over-written. There’s far too much description; the language is so unnecessarily complex that I often found myself struggling to understand the writer’s intentions; and I found several sentences which made no sense at all due, I suspect, to the writer not quite understanding some of the words he chose to use, or perhaps using them because he liked their sound and rhythm and didn’t actually care what they meant.

Add to that a lot of typesetting problems, a tiny font, and that cover image and you can probably understand why I read so little of this book: just three out of six hundred and eighteen pages. I strongly urge this writer to consider paring back his writing, and to aim for a much sparser style, if he wants to build himself a readership.

Few Are Chosen: M T McGuire

April 21, 2011 5 comments

Few are Chosen

The Pan of Hamgee isn’t paranoid. There must be some people in K’Barth who aren’t out to get him; it’s just that, right now, he’s not sure where they are. His family are dead, his existence is treason and he does the only thing he can to survive — getaway driving.

As if being on the run isn’t bad enough, when he finds a magic thimble and decides to keep it, he unwittingly sets himself on a collision course with Lord Vernon, K’Barth’s despot ruler.

Unwillingly, The Pan is forced to make choices and stand up for his beliefs — beliefs he never knew he had until they were challenged. But, faced with a stark moral dilemma will his new found integrity stick? Can he stop running?

Reader comments

“Funny and completely original, I loved it.” Joe, aged 13

“I am your number one fan.” Emily, aged 30 something

Many of the books I’ve reviewed here could have done with a good hard edit, and Few are Chosen is no exception. Where it differs from most of those other books however is that (based on the pages I read) it is most in need of a copy edit rather than a full-blown structural one. I found numerous punctuation problems, a couple of tautologies, some odd sentence constructions and some pretty naff typesetting choices which made the text much harder to read than it should have been.

However, I also found an engaging main character (even though his humour was a little forced at times), a fast-paced opening and a better-than-usual setup. If the author were to improve on the few weaknesses I found, reduce his reliance on exposition, and cut back on his use of adjectives and dialogue tags his book would be significantly improved.

I read four pages out of this book’s two hundred and forty-five, but despite that low page-count I might well return to it again.

After September: Mark D Ransom

February 10, 2011 4 comments

Mark David Ransom—comes from a long line of craftsmen. His Italian immigrant great-grandfather worked on the world famous Brooklyn Bridge. His German/Irish father practiced his trade at the 1964 World’s Fair and on the State Capital in Albany, NY. He spent many years himself restoring masonry buildings in the five boroughs, including the Brooklyn Museum and the Empire State Building. The son of a slate roof and a bookkeeper, and educated by the public school system of New York City, Mark’s chosen crafts have been making song and theater. He has done poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe and readings at Reckless in Hell’s Kitchen. He is a member the White Horse Theatre Company where he played the title role of Half in a workshop production of the original play. A lifelong resident of New York City, he is a poet, an actor, and a singer/songwriter. As a building inspector and civil servant, living in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Mark witnessed the events of September 11, 2001, from a unique perspective, one that provided him with the inspiration for this, his first volume of published poetry. In his official capacity as an inspector, he documents the physical damage of city buildings. As a poet, he investigates the emotional and psychological topography of a new era in emerging from the old. His chronicle in verse, dedicated to the city of his birth, is written with words of healing, admiration, respect, and love.

First off, I applaud Mr. Ransom’s courage in publishing After September: it’s an intensely personal account of a very traumatic time and in exposing the emotion and horror of those days he has also exposed his own vulnerabilities. This is not to be done lightly: his courage is apparent, in his words and his decision to self publish them, and I admire him for it.

Sadly, I cannot admire this book. The poetry in it is confusing, clichéd and overwritten, and often contradicts itself within a line or two. As a result Mr. Ransom’s meaning is often obscured or completely misdirected. Which is a shame because lurking below these problems there is real potential.

Mr. Ransom has a good eye for poetic detail, and for those moments which represent our times. He has a natural inclination towards sparsity and has a lyrical tone which is lacking entirely from the work of most aspiring poets.

If I were Mr. Ransom, then, how would I proceed? I’d read the greats. I’d read anthologies of prize-winning poetry, I’d read books of poetry from the classics to the avant-garde and I’d read them all repeatedly until I breathed them. And then I’d look to my own work and make sure that not a single word was wasted, and that my meaning was always clear and strong.

So: a disappointing effort from a writer with potential, who is going to have to get really tough with himself in order to improve as a poet. I read nineteen pages out of seventy-five, and really hope that he improves.

Lost in Juarez: Douglas Lindsay

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

From the creator of the cult Barney Thomson crime series, comes a darker, more sinister novel.

The government is watching.

4 million names on the DNA database and counting; CCTV cameras on every street corner; telephone records available to any agency which requests them; restrictions on movements around Westminster; ID cards and the most all encompassing surveillance operations ever conducted. All in the name of freedom.

When his latest book is shelved due to government interference, Lake Weston—international bestselling, Bob Dylan-addicted children’s author—decides that it is time to stand up for personal rights. He writes and anonymously publishes a scathing polemic, the Animal Farm of its day, about a government which seeks to restrict civil liberties in the name of freedom. The book quickly achieves notoriety. The media is animatedly curious about the author; the government, however, already knows.

As the security services close in, Weston find his name dragged through the gutter press. Suddenly he must run for his life, not knowing who he can trust and with nothing in his pocket except a few pounds and an iPod loaded with 1256 Bob Dylan tracks.

About the books of Douglas Lindsay:

“Gleefully macabre… hugely enjoyable black burlesque.” The Scotsman

“Pitch black comedy spun from the finest writing. Fantastic plot, unforgettable scenes and plenty of twisted belly laughs.” New Woman

“Lindsay’s burlesque thrills offer no sex, no drugs, no desperation to be cool. Just straightforward adult story: fantastic plot, classic timing and gleeful delight in the grotesque.” What’s On

“Extremely well-written, highly amusing and completely unpredictable in its outrageous plot twists and turns.” The List

I really wanted to enjoy Lost in Juarez: it has a good jacket design, and the book feels balanced in my hands thanks to its professional production values (although I would have preferred a matt laminate on the cover—those glossy finishes always feel a bit too low-end to me). Despite the rather clumsy back cover copy the quotes which accompanied it really got my hopes up, and its premise appealed to me: so I started work on this book with some enthusiasm.

I was very disappointed.

The first hurdle I had to overcome was the book’s poor internal layout. The paragraphs are indented by only a single space, making reading difficult and tiring; and the font used throughout the book is just a trifle small. The problem with the font size is just a personal preference (amazingly, I seem to be getting older and find such close type wearing to read for long), so I didn’t include it in my tally of problems, but such typesetting issues have to be considered by self-publishers: they directly affect the readability of the book, and are likely to make potential readers turn away from this book without really knowing why they’re doing so. If you want to sell as many copies as you can it’s important to put as few barriers between the reader and the text as possible, and by making it even a tiny bit difficult to read the text, you’re shooting your book in its metaphorical foot.

Sadly, though, I felt that this book had more troubling issues than the size of its typeface. The author’s style is staccato and repetitious: he frequently uses sentence fragments and seems to be aiming for a hard-edged tone which at times morphs into pastiche. There were several confusing passages; a few lines which made no sense at all; a scattering of odd punctuation choices including an ellipsis of magnificent proportions; and a post-coital scene which was so full of adolescent self-importance that I found myself cringing as I read it.

I stopped reading after that sex scene, so read just sixteen pages out of two hundred and twelve. It’s a shame, as further on in the book the writer gets into his stride more, and the text does improve: but that’s too late if he wants to grab browsing readers who will usually begin at the book’s first page.

I’ve skim-read this book to the end and am convinced that with a better editor this book could have been significantly improved, and would probably have earned a recommendation from me. In its current state, however, I found it a clumsy and uncomfortable read on several levels. Nevertheless, there is something about it that I liked and I hope to see more from Mr Lindsay in the future.

Where Spirits Live: Omri Navot

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

When a new boy moves into the neighbourhood, everyone thinks he’s as strange as can be. But not Angela. She finds herself drawn to this mysterious boy, and with his help discovers that there’s more to her world than she ever imagined. Together, they journey to mystical realms where they learn secrets about themselves and each other. A touching book about youth, spirit, and friendship, Where Spirits Live is bound to enchant you with its mystery and magic.

I did try to find a cover image to use here, but without any luck: perhaps the author could add one to his own blog. Just a thought.

The simplistic tone of this book and its young main character made me wonder at first if it was intended for a younger audience: but its focus on spirituality makes that unlikely and so I’m still not quite sure where this book would be shelved and what its target market is.

The writing is mostly competent although I noticed a couple of peculiar paragraphs which had little to do with the text which surrounded them, and which would have been much better cut; there were a few sentences which were so poorly constructed that although I could work out what I think the author intended to say, the actual meaning of his words was nonsensical; and a pivotal scene in which the main character’s parents have the first of many fights comes as a complete surprise as until that point they’ve been portrayed as happy and settled.

Despite these quibbles the pages turned at a decent pace and I suspect that a good editor could turn this text into something much cleaner and sharper and ultimately more rewarding. My main concern for this book, though, focuses on bigger things. Its plot feels far too familiar; I found nothing new or exciting here, and feel no compulsion to read on; I am not convinced by either of the two main characters (the boy seems more than a little creepy); and I’m particularly uncomfortable with the boy’s suggestion that if the girl ignores her parents fighting it will all just go away.

A valiant effort, then, and a book not entirely without merit: but it is too deeply flawed for me to recommend it, I’m afraid, even though I read forty-one pages out of one hundred and fifty-one.

Songs From The Other Side Of The Wall: Dan Holloway

May 20, 2010 3 comments

The day the Berlin Wall came down, Jennifer returned to England, leaving her week-old daughter, Szandi, to grow up on a Hungarian vineyard with 300 years of history. Now 18, Szandi is part of Budapest’s cosmopolitan art scene, sharing a flat and a bohemian lifestyle with her lover and fellow sculptress, Yang. She has finally found a place in the world. Then a letter arrives that threatens everything, and forces her to choose once and for all: between the past and the present; between East and West; between her family and her lover.

Quirky, contemporary, and ultra-cool; sensuous, seductive, and heartbreaking: Songs from the Other Side of the Wall is a coming of age story that inhabits anti-capitalists chatrooms and ancient wine cellars, seedy bars and dreaming spires; and takes us on a remarkable journey across Europe and cyberspace in the company of rock stars and dropouts, diaries that appear from nowhere, a telepathic fashion mogul, and the talking statue of a bull.

I found a few things to criticise in the production of this book: its cover image is far too low-resolution to work well; its front-matter and end-matter are jumbled and unfocused and so fail to do their jobs properly; but the typesetting of the main text is elegant and spacious and very readable, which immediately set it apart from most of the books I have looked at for this blog. Some of the characters used in the italic fonts were overly heavy and so distracting, and really should be corrected; but that’s a tiny thing which I hope will be resolved in subsequent editions of this book.

And now onto the really important stuff.

Dan Holloway writes with a wistful, writerly tone which he handles with great skill. However, he hasn’t edited this book rigorously enough and so at times his writing is overly complex or descriptive (or both), which drags down his pacing. He risks losing his readers’ attention because of this which would be a shame: but it could be easily fixed if he could force himself to be a more ruthless editor. I would also like to see more variation in tone: while wistful is good it can get rather wearying if it’s not lightened occasionally with joy or laughter of some kind, and I wonder if this is something that Dan might find more difficult to fix.

Please don’t think that I’m dismissing Songs From The Other Side Of The Wall: I’m not. Despite my criticisms I think that this is a lovely book written in that rare thing: beautiful, lyrical prose. Dan Holloway is a writer of talent and great potential who we should hear more from. I read it all and recommend it.

The Chronicles Of Bobby Isaacs: Stuck In The Friend Zone: LG Putzer

May 13, 2010 1 comment

When eleven-year-old, band geek, Bobby Isaacs falls in like with his best friend, Jenna Richards, he uncovers a secret about Chris Kruger, the school bully. In a plot to impress Jenna, Bobby enters a spelling bee, hoping to come in first place. Desperation drives him to do something that gets Chris Kruger’s attention. After the two fight, Bobby discovers Chris’s terrible secret, but not before Chris destroys Bobby’s most prized possession.

Stuck in the Friend Zone is a story about two of the most fundamental yet important universal concepts Forgiveness and Understanding.

I’ve received quite a few books like this one lately: books with an engaging tone, from writers who are competent and who show potential: but they are all let down by careless errors which should have been caught at the copy-editing stage.

Of the fifteen issues I found in THE Chronicles of Bobby Isaacs: Stuck in the Friend Zone, all but three concerned basic copyediting issues (double hyphens used for some of the dashes; some random and rather odd capitalisations; several extraneous commas, etc). Two of the remaining three focused on some clunky exposition; and the final point was that while I understand that all children are different I don’t believe that a boy with Bobby’s background would be showing such an interest in girls while still only eleven years old.

I can see that he might be vaguely aware of girls; but I don’t believe that awareness would have developed as far as it seems to have done in this book. If the passages concerning Bobby’s feelings for Jenna had been written in a more “something is happening here but I don’t quite get it” tone I might have believed it more but as it is written, I just didn’t.

So: I would advise Lena Putzer to pay a lot more attention to copy-editing her work in future; to be more alert to the dangers that exposition poses to her pacing and tone; and to see if she could make this major part of her storyline—Bobby Isaacs’ feelings towards Jenna—a little more believable. Because if she resolves these issues then she could have a fabulous book on her hands: her writing is lively and funny and gave me a real sense that I was acquainted with the characters, and that I understood their world. It’s a shame she failed on the basics having done so well with the more difficult stuff: I read seven pages out of a total of two hundred and forty-one.

First Wolf: Carol Anne Carr

April 29, 2010 1 comment

It was Toland’s twelfth year of life when his father hurled the wolf’s head at the mighty Eorl Uhtred, bringing his childhood to a violent end. These were dangerous times, with people driven from their settlements, tribal wars, and bands of robbers on the roads, but Toland must keep his solemn promise to save the Lindisfarne Gospels from the Vikings, protect his family, and find his father. With his faithful hound Bodo, he sets off on his quest through Anglo-Saxon Northumbria and his many adventures lead him to the mysterious hermit on Inner Farne, the mystery of the stolen jewels, a blood debt, and a terrible discovery at the White Church…

I had high hopes for First Wolf: it has an above-average front cover (although the author’s name is in the wrong font, the wrong colour, and wrong position); and although the back cover copy is flawed (it contains a tense-change, is a little confusing, and at times reads a bit like a shopping list) it could be brought up to standard without too much trouble. The book’s premise appealed to me too, with its echoes of Alan Garner and its roots in a particularly spectacular part of our landscape and history. But, as is often the case with self-published books, the text is in need of a strong edit, and that’s what lets this book down in the end.

In my view, it suffers from a surplus of commas. I realise that not everyone will agree with me on this point: but I prefer text to be as clear and clean as possible and including commas when they’re not strictly needed makes this impossible. Before you all shout me down here, bear in mind that my preference for clarity-without-commas hasn’t developed simply because I dislike the look of them on the page: it’s because their overuse often hides a fundamental problem with the text which they adorn.

Too often, commas are used to prop up an inadequate sentence structure, or to try to improve a syntax which is forced and lacking in fluency: and that’s what has happened here. A good editor would have helped the writer correct all those errors and let the fast-paced story shine: as it is, the story’s excitement is dulled by the writer’s slightly confusing writing, her oddly over-formal tone, and her frequently illogical statements. Which is a shame, as with a proper edit this book could have been much improved. I read seven pages out of one hundred and fifty-five, and despite their flaws rather enjoyed them.

Lines of Neutrality: SB Jung

January 21, 2010 3 comments

FICTION/THRILLERS

Lines of Neutrality is a window into the lives of two modern-day assassins—Raven Yin and Christian Delacroix. Unbeknownst to either of them, they are both hired to kill the same mark and coincidentally choose the exact same night and time to strike. This begins a chain of events that brings Raven and Christian together to fight a war far larger and more complex than either of them could have imagined. It is a war being waged against secret societies whose agendas are more enigmatic than their rumoured existence.

Their personalities and methods are fundamentally different, yet each of them discovers more about themselves by studying the other. Despite secret societies, internal betrayal, stolen memories and personal battles, Raven and Christian defy the odds to show that the Society of Assassins is nobody’s pawn.

S. B. Jung has been an English teacher since 2002. She has been writing plays, poems, and novels since 1997; Lines of Neutrality is her first published work. Her husband Matthew and son Aiden have been her strength, encouragement, and inspiration as she continues to write and create more worlds for readers to enter and enjoy.

SB Jung is a writer with real promise and Lines of Neutrality: Book One of the Assassin Chronicles has an interesting premise. Her text is lovely and clean, her grammar is pretty much spot-on, and I found that the pages of this book turned with a very pleasing swiftness: but despite all that, only read as far as page seventeen.

The problems I found were, for the most part, small and easy to correct: for example, the appendix is the first thing I found after the dedication page but the information it provides is confusing when presented here—it would have been much better placed at the back of the book; the cover design is unprofessional, and not terribly attractive; and the text on that front cover is blurry, slightly out of focus, and is in a font which really isn’t clear enough. The copy on the back cover needs attention too: it’s a little confused, a little cliched, and in places doesn’t quite make sense.

Moving on to the main text, then, I found a few quibbles which a decent edit would almost certainly resolve: there were some contradictions and lapses of logic which caused me to pause and rethink, and so spoilt the flow as I read. But the biggest problem that I had was that while this text is far more fluent and absorbing than most of the books I’ve reviewed here, it is still quite clearly the work of a novice writer—a talented and potentially very capable one, but still a novice.

I’d like to see what Ms Jung’s writing becomes when she’s written, and read, a great deal more. I have the feeling she could turn out to be competent and productive, and that in the years to come she might well produce books which are far superior to this good-but-flawed beginner’s effort.

Until The Deep Water Stills: Michael Robert Dyet

December 3, 2009 2 comments

For Katherine Orr the words “I love you” are not enough. Only a demonstrative expression of her husband Jayce’s love can rescue their relationship. But Jayce’s personal demons prevent him from giving her this even though he knows that she is all that stands between him and a descent into chaos.

Simultaneously, Bryan struggles to repair the breach of love in his life caused by the death of his daughter. But his wife Jayce’s sister, grows ever more distant. Charismatic social activist Faith, who longs for love but fears she will lose herself in it, unwittingly becomes the catalyst for change in the lives of all four characters.

The paths of these four converge toward a tragic event as each struggles to decipher the intricacies of love lost and love found. Each discovers in their own way that love is the living core of human existence and that how we love defines who we are.

Visit http://www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog after each chapter for another dimension of this internet-enhanced novel.

Michael Dyet holds an Honours B.A., summa cum laude, in Creative Writing from York University. His professional writing experience spans journalism to marketing copywriting. Until the Deep Water Stills, his debut novel, weaves together memorable characters with a tightening web of external events. It ranges from lyrical to provocative in its style and from introspective to universal in its message.

Michael Dyet, the author of Until the Deep Water Stills, has an impressive list of qualifications and experience which I hoped would be reflected in his writing: he has a BA in creative writing, and has experience in journalism and copywriting. And he’s tied this novel to a website to add a further level of meaning to his text, which has the potential to be interesting.

The problem is that when I read a book I don’t want to have to keep referring back to the internet to get the full story. I want a book to be self-contained and complete: its own little world, into which I can disappear. Clicking about on the internet will drag me out of that world: it’s a distraction, and one which I found only detracted from my experience of this book.

And what an experience it was… the book is horribly over-written. Here is its first paragraph:

Shattering glass rescued Katherine from her dream. Aftershocks mingled in her half-awake brain with the elusive church bells now retracted seven years into the past. Jayce’s arm had knocked a water glass of the night table as he shifted in bed. How strangely prophetic, she thought, that he should fall into complicity with her dream. He did not hear the crash just as he did not hear the bells in her dream.

This sort of overwriting is neither literary nor clever: it’s just overdone (and bear in mind here that literary fiction is my genre-of-choice: I am not unaware of its conventions or standards). Dyet’s writing is far too complicated, and he often favours that complication over clarity and meaning. The text is thick with clever-sounding phrases, many of which make little sense; and I found a lot of clichés buried in his overdone language.

The back-cover copy is predictably weak; the punctuation clean enough, although I did pick up a few problems with it as I read. But overall, this book fails because it is so very badly over-written. I read just three of its three hundred and ten pages, but it felt more like fifteen.

File Under Fiction: Martin Locock

November 26, 2009 7 comments

File Under Fiction is a debut collection of short stories by Martin Locock.

In Change and Decay, an archivist’s visit to a crumbling gentry estate reveals a history of sharp practice and opportunism belying the elegant exterior, and he becomes embroiled in their current intrigues.

Exchange Mechanism is a science fiction story exploring what would happen if we could see inside other people’s minds.

Candle on the Table follows a frustrated solicitor’s obsession with a perfect family, unaware that it conceals dark secrets.

The world of a maverick PR man and the Toronto Mafia collide in The Gift of the Gab.

In The Time Zone Rule, two colleagues are sent at short notice to Morocco; they find the romance of the situation irresistible, but one night’s folly changes their lives for ever.

All the stories explore moral issues within a framework of spare narration and realistic characterisation, overlain by sardonic humour and elegance of expression. They have been described as “funny, accurate and deeply cynical.”

Martin Locock is an author and poet who works as a project manager at the National library of Wales. Previously he had worked in commercial archaeology, publishing extensively on a range of obscure topics. He was born in 1962 and has lived near Swansea since 1991. He is married with three children. He writes a blog, A Few Words (http://locock.blogspot.com).

I have a small emotional attachment to this book: its author lives in the same Welsh town where my grandfather was born and foolishly this gave me hope that the book would be good. Sadly, I was disappointed.

I did appreciate the errata which the author provided which read, “Corrections. A battle of wills between author and a subversive spellcheck program has led to the replacement of some words with ‘emoraliz’.” Sadly the errata is not quite extensive enough: both ‘emoraliz’ and ‘emoralized’ make appearances, accompanied by those little empty squares which appear in various computer programs when a special character is saved in a format which the program doesn’t support: a good edit would easily have found this problem; its appearance implies problems with the person who typeset the book rather than a rampaging spellchecker; and as this book was printed via Lulu (which is exclusively POD) there was almost certainly no print run of defective books: the author felt that these books were good enough to go out with this error in place. And on that point, I strongly disagree.

The punctuation was erratic, particularly the use of dashes (hyphens are often used where dashes are required, with odd and inconsistent spacing around them); a couple of punctuation marks escaped from the quote-marks which should have enclosed them; and there were a good few surplus commas scattered throughout the text.

The writing provided me with the biggest disappointment: it was flat and dull and unengaging and no more than the barest attempt was made to catalogue the events presented. The characters had no life; the events were dull; there was no depth to the work, and no texture, apart from a couple of places where the author’s voice, and opinions, intruded. And there, too, was a problem: I couldn’t agree with the opinions he voiced, and they were presented in jargon-cluttered language which made them difficult to decipher.

On top of all of that there were issues with the grammar too. I read just nine out of a total of 187 printed pages and hope that this writer polishes his work much more thoroughly before he considers publishing anything else.

(This book doesn’t appear to be listed on Amazon so I’m unable to include a cover image or a link to its sale page.)

Romancing the Claddagh: Ruby Dominguez

October 15, 2009 13 comments

Fiction Romance/Mystery Horror/Drama

The breathtaking mystery of the Irish Claddagh unraveled!

On a fire singed wall not so far away from the tragedy, a collage of photographs shaped the heartbreaking desperation of a city in search of missing love ones. A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of hundreds of Irish CLADDAGH rings uncovered from the collapsed World Trade Center at Ground Zero. The legend of the CLADDAGH’S origin entwines with romance of love tales, perilous adventures, mystery and royalty. A distinctively unique, timeless and honoured treasure of Irish heritage that is no stranger to love, tragedy and triumph. FOR IT WAS ONCE UPON A TIME, a sigil painted on an exclusive white sale of the Fisher King Ship marked with a crown, a pair of hands clasping the escutcheon of Nassau, evident of the crest of the royal house to which Liam, the King of CLADDAGH belongs, was recreated into a great spherical gold brooch to adorn the velvet lavender cloak of his future queen: Rowena, a descendant of ancient Ireland’s fiery crimson-haired goddess Macha, who wreaked a terrible powerful curse upon the northern kings of Ireland’s bloodline. An Irish phenomenon: its famous adage of “Let Love, Loyalty and Friendship Reign,” still eloquently resonates to this day.

Ruby Dominguez, creatively inscribes a link between fantasy and reality, life and eternity, love and constancy; capturing the essence of her vision. She also penned, THE PERUKE MAKER -The Salem Witch Hunt Curse. Both are Fiction Romance/Mystery/or/Drama/Tragedy Screenplays of a CURSE TRILOGY. The Peruke Maker was professionally reviewed by LEJEN Literary Consultants and attained a Good Script Coverage/Analysis. “Visually compelling, provocative, suspenseful, memorable, smooth pace with excellent twists and turns. By LEE LEVINSON

Ruby Dominguez is a brave woman: she is only the second person to have sent me more than one book to review. Her first book, The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunt Curse, had little to recommend it; and Romancing the Claddagh: The Curse of Macha, her second, is probably even worse.

I shan’t comment in detail about the back cover copy which is quoted in full above: it stands for itself. It’s jumbled, confusing, and tells me nothing about the book which would encourage me to buy it. The jacket design is a disaster: it’s strangely off-putting, and I wonder if that the girl in the image really is old enough to pose naked (and assuming she is, why does she look quite so sweaty?). I’d have preferred a more legible font for the title, too.

The book gets no better inside. It begins with a prologue which is just as confusing as the back cover copy:

Prologue

Guardedly, I listened to the echoes of my heart, yet fervently chased it down the deep recessions of a dark sacred chamber, where unspoken intimate emotions of agony and ecstasy come to surface.

Like a goldsmith, I creatively hammer down a precious link between fantasy and reality, life and eternity, love and constancy.

Herein pressed between the pages is the essence of my vision.

That’s on page i; then on the next page we have a single paragraph (which is repeated in full a few pages later, in a different context) with the title Time Period, which reads:

A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of HUNDREDS of Irish CLADDAGH RINGS recovered from the collapsed World Trade Center, at ground Zero.

Is this part of the setup information or has the screenplay begun? Despite it reading like a scene description, I have to assume that it is part of the setup, because the pages which follow contain character lists and locations. Page numbering then begins again, and we have a montage set before us which includes the following quotes:

An unforgettable stark landscape of inferno, pandemonium and death is broadcasted on TELEVISION and RADIOS across a horrified nation and to the shocked world.

ASH-MOLTEN ROADS are creased with GRIEF-STRICKEN FACES, engulfed with sorrowful CRIES of the CLADDAGH ring as a frame of reference to help find and identify love ones.

On this page alone I found fourteen mistakes. I already had more than enough to base this review upon, but something compelled me to read on. The screenplay continues to page five; then on page six we have this:

V

Time Period

CLADDAGH VILLAGE 17TH CENTURY

Fishermen leave the safety of the stony shores, love of family and comfort of home to set out to sea to make a living, in spite of the danger of abduction by seafaring pirates and treacherous weather.

Hence, to live in Claddagh is to be a fisherman, or starve.

Or to be abducted by treacherous weather, perhaps.

Some of you might notice that the conclusion there does not follow on from the paragraph which precedes it; so this is a fallacious argument. It’s not part of the action of the screenplay so what’s it doing here? And why is it followed by a list of characters and locations? We have five more pages of such setup before the screenplay begins again.

I’ll admit: I’ve read on through this, to try to make sense of it: but I failed. It’s jumbled, confusing, and at times cringingly badly written. All of the segments I’ve read show a sentimental affection for a non-existent, stereotypical, Hollywood kind of Irish; and what little I’ve read of the historical sections are very ill-informed. In addition, stage directions are used to fill in the plot’s back story and background: it’s bad enough encountering information dumps on the page, but how is this information meant to be conveyed to the audience if this play is ever performed?

I’m very concerned that the Lejen Literary Consultancy has told Ms Dominguez that this book shows promise, because in its current form, it isn’t good at all. Based on its judgement of this book, I strongly urge all writers to avoid the Lejen Literary Consultancy and if you’re still not convinced, read this thread at Absolute Write. I read four pages out of a possible 130 and if I’d observed my “fifteen strikes and you’re out” rule strictly I would have not read even that far.

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