On book serials and writing

What really is the reasoning behind using multiple books to tell a single story?

I have read the first books of I don’t know how many book serials (and I’m using serial here instead of series, I’ll explain in a minute) and quite frankly, I don’t see why the author thought it a good idea to break the story into multiple books.

I like complete, fully told stories between the covers of the books I read. Those stories are fine if they are part of a larger book universe and make up just one piece of the time line but for goodness sakes, let them be stand alone stories in and of themselves, please.  For example, the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris; The Dresden Files books by James Butcher; Anne Rice’s vampire books ( while not considered a “series” takes the same characters, and the world they live in through a series of books and places in time),  the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, etc. – all great series, yet each book is a complete story unto itself. You can read one, enjoy it and either move on, or not.

This leaving me in the middle of a plot sort of pisses me off. I don’t want to have to spend more money on books 2, 3, or Heaven help us, 4, 5, and 6 until I get to, “The End” of the ONE plot you started off with. Give me a fresh idea with the same characters, okay…I’m good. But seriously, do we need a whole book leading up to the fight, another book about the fight, a third about the aftermath, and a fourth just in case you needed the whole shebang told from the loser’s perspective? Argh.

Personal preference has been stated. Now, back to your regularly scheduled day. Hope you’re having a good one.

Love you,

Dana

Smashwords versus Amazon

Just a quick aside – I was all set to announce that the e-version of Aphrodite’s Twin was FINALLY ready for sale. It was to be a quiet, low key book release don’t’cha know, but alas, best laid plans and all that as I review (for the first time) what the full book looks like downloaded from Smashwords.

Um. Yeah. After having followed their formatting instructions to the letter, I find I have a download that is a hot mess formatting wise. The bookmarks don’t take you exactly where they should and there are no clear cut page breaks. A hot mess.  On the other hand, all the books I formatted to upload to Amazon look just fine.  Mind you, Amazon is Kindle and Kindle only in terms of their directions for formatting. Smashwords incorporates a step called the “Meta Grinder” which takes your formatted book and does some electronic handwavium to produce a file that’s supposed to work on any digital format. Apparently, that’s any digital format except Kindle. All of my previous books that I have available on Amazon look beautiful on my Kindle. The one book I preview from Samshwords? Not so much.

So, does this mean the others are equally as craptastic when downloaded from Smashwords? If so, that would explain why sales have been, well…craptastic on Smashwords as well. I could just cry.

So, while I had hoped Smashwords would be the way to go, it looks as if Amazon will be the best bet if I want to sell a professional looking digital book. Ho hum.

If anyone has had any experience with Smashwords, would you please put a comment below and tell me how things worked out with your books – either those you sold or purchased? I’m really curious now if maybe I’m just missing a critical step in the formatting process, or if Amazon is just the better platform for ebooks.  Meanwhile, I’ve got to format the book now and upload it to Amazon. sigh…

Did  I mention how I feel about formatting?

But since it’s up there…Aphrodite’s Twin is now available at Smashwords!  :-). As incentive to get folks to download it, I’m going to make it .99 for the rest of February. If you buy it, in return for your feedback on the formatting (and to say thank you), I’ll work a really good deal on the paperback and or the Amazon version (as in huge discount on one, or a free copy of the other).

Aphrodites Twin Book Cover 2

Thanks! And um, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Embraceable – A Quick Chat with August McLaughlin

Valentine’s Day. You’re told that much like Christmas, the best way to show your love is to shower your special someone with gifts and attention. That’s all well and good, but when was the last time you were told to do that for yourself? Women especially are taught how to show others love, but there’s a definite lack of encouragement when it comes to learning how and showing ourselves some much needed TLC.

Thankfully, there’s a movement afoot; one that’s teaching women how to embrace and love all aspects of their beings. It is my pleasure to introduce one of the forerunners in the movement, Ms. August McLaughlin,

…the award-winning, nationally recognized health and sexuality writer and host and creator of Girl Boner®. Her work appears in DAME Magazine, the Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and more. Kirkus Reviews called her first novel, In Her Shadow, “an engaging story with an inventive structure and an intriguing focus on body-image issues.” Her latest book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality, is a celebration of women’s sensuality. Each week on Girl Boner® Radio, she interviews relationship experts, celebs and more, exploring women’s lives and sexuality “like no one else.” Known for melding personal passion, artistry and activism, August uses her skills as a public speaker and journalist to inspire women to embrace their bodies and selves, making way for fuller, more authentic lives.

August McLaughlin
Bio

August has stopped by the Nowata Press Publishing and Consulting blog to promote her latest book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality and to talk about why self-love and acceptance is so important in women’s lives.

embraceable

Nowata: I’m so excited to have you on the blog. I’ve followed you for a while now and I’ve had several questions I’ve wanted to ask. I’m even more curious now after having enjoyed reading Embraceable… What struck me the most when it comes to the stories I hear or read that concern women and their self-esteem, is how the majority of the stories all start with some form of abuse. Why do you think that is?

August: It’s a mind-boggling atrocity, and mighty complex. I’ve heard people—including some experts—say that men sexually assault women “because they can,” or that there’s a biological component. I have more faith in humanity than that, and see far more influences that have little to do with science and everything to do with what we learn.

Women continue to be objectified and disrespected in countless ways. Sexuality is stigmatized, with most kids learning virtually nothing about it, outside of a single, misleading class or two. Harmful myths, such as “boys will be boys,” carry on. And there’s still stigma around being victimized. All of this contributes to rape culture.

Nowata: Speaking of men and rape culture, do you think a lot of men’s issues can be associated with them being raised to be as disconnected from their true sexual selves like women are?

August: I think men struggle as well, but often in different ways, because of societal messaging. There’s still this idea that men should be “macho,” and sexual in particular types of often unrealistic ways. They’re taught that they should be all about the physical, versus cultivating or honoring their need for emotional intimacy—which is a beautiful strength, not a weakness.

Nowata: I know there are plenty of women who would benefit from the knowledge found in the stories the contributors tell, but I’m wondering if men wouldn’t find the stories enlightening and maybe open the door for the changing of their minds as well. Do you think your book would work well as a conversation starter for couples?

August: I’d love for folks to use it to start conversations! If anyone reads the book and relates to a particular struggle or desire, especially one they’ve had difficulty addressing, they can share the story with their partner — or a therapist or trusted friend.

Nowata: How would you recommend someone start the sharing process?

August: A simple, “Hey, you’ve got to read this story. It really struck me,” can go a long way.

Nowata: I know sexuality plays a big part in how women are shamed or guilt-ed into feeling negatively about themselves. It seems that almost all of the women in your book began their journey’s to self-acceptance through learning how to bring themselves to joy through masturbation. For me, masturbation, while providing a release of sorts, didn’t equate to showing myself love and acceptance. For other women like me, what would you say are some of the best ways women can show themselves physical love, outside of masturbation?

August: I love this question! Rather than shame our bodies, we can nurture them. We can seek and give hugs, aim for sufficient nightly sleep, take warm baths, go hiking and take time to breathe. I personally love to take my time applying lotion. Simply slowing down to pay attention to self-TLC can be really powerful.

Nowata: I’d love to do a more extensive Q&A – there are so many more questions I have for you, but I know you’ve got to make it to the next stop on the blog tour. Before you go, last question – what does the rest of 2016 look like for Girl Boner? Do you have any special events, book signings, tours, speaking engagements, coming up?

August: I’m still finalizing my speaking schedule (and other fun surprises! :)), but anyone interested can stay informed through my homepage and blog. A new Girl Boner® Radio episode releases every Wednesday, which you can be sure to receive by subscribing on iTunes. This year, I’m really striving to reach more people and do more good.

Well, I’m more than happy to help you reach folks with your wonderful message and much needed information on women’s sexuality and self-acceptance. I agree that it is high time for women to embrace all of what makes us wonderful, worthy, amazing human beings.

Thank you dear reader for joining us today. Get your copy of Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.com.

You can find August McLaughlin on WordPress and Facebook.   And don’t forget, you can listen in to her show Girl Boner Radio via iTunes.

#WriterWednesday: Confessions of a Geriatric Prom Queen by Lila Lee Silvern

The theme of this book is hitting a touch close to home as I too ease on toward a rather decent age milestone. I will certainly be looking to read this one soon!

Thanks to the #FeedArtNetwork (a.k.a. Dangerous Lee) for the post.

 

Source: #WriterWednesday: Confessions of a Geriatric Prom Queen by Lila Lee Silvern

5 Years Ago Today I Self-Published My First Book!

For real – download it. It is amazing. I didn’t think you could make condoms and other safe sex practices anything but utilitarian. I was wrong. :-). You will not look at the mechanics of putting on a condom the same 😉 after this.

Dangerous Lee

Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt DownClick to read the media kit!

March 15, 2010 was a very exciting day for me. After more than a lifetime of dreaming and a year of writing, editing, photo shoots and all around hard work I self-published my first book, Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down.

At the time I was working professionally in HIV prevention and HIV/AIDS awareness was a passion of mine so publishing a book of erotic fiction with an emphasis on HIV education was right up my alley.

Two years prior I was published inZane’s Succulent Chocolate Flava 2so it would also seem that erotica was right up my alley!

Truth is, erotica is really not my genre of choice. Sure, I’m good at it. Damn good if I may toot my own horn, but I had no intention of releasing book after book of erotic fiction. Many of the short…

View original post 249 more words

Don’t Sleep on the Indie Authors – An Unscolicited Review of Bronze City by K.S. Bowers

I would imagine quite a few readers out there are skittish when it comes to buying a book by a virtually unknown, self- or indie-published author. I admit, I’m reluctant myself. I am more willing to do it if I’ve had a chance to interact with or read other work by the author – blogs, FB writers groups and occasionally GoodReads have all been excellent avenues by which I’ve gotten to know indie authors who like me, are scrambling to make a name for themselves in the world of published work.bronze

I got to know K.S  through a few social media channels. We talked books, publishing, and eventually we got around to personal lives and such. In that, I found a somewhat kindred spirit and someone I came to admire.  So of course, when I saw that Bronze City, KS’s latest release had hit the shelves (Amazon and Smashwords) it was a matter of making sure I had a few extra dollars in the budget because I knew I was going to buy this book.

I hadn’t read either of their  other published works so this was my first experience with their fiction writing.  O.M.G. From first swipe into chapter one on my Kindle, I couldn’t stop reading. Bronze City sprinkles a classical, well told suspense novel with just enough ghost story to make this a thrilling read. I don’t want to give too much away, so let’s just say NYPD detective Clay Reynolds’ investigation of a serial child killer leads him on a journey of major self-discovery.  I wish I was better at writing summaries or blurbs as I know this little paragraph isn’t doing the book any justice.

The writing is solid – KS knows how to craft a story.  I found myself tensed in some sections, wanting to hurry through the reading to find out what was going to happen. The POV allowed me to get into the action so much so, that I found myself jumping at shadows, lol. The ‘horror’ aspect (and there is horror when one is talking about a serial killer – more so I think when that killer hunts children) provided chills without being unnecessarily gory.  Think Paranormal Activity versus any movie Rob Zombie has made, lol.  There are moments when my skin crawled, when if it had been a movie I might have closed my eyes, but at no point did I have to stop reading in order to settle my stomach because the descriptions were dripping with blood and guts.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first few books in the Anita Blake series by Laurell Hamilton. Like those early Blake stories, Bronze City has a perfect balance between the crime solving and the supernatural.

I’m happy to know this is book one of a proposed series as I’m so looking forward to seeing what happens with Clay going forward.

5stars

Wait – I’ve read how many books in the last few weeks?

Since the beginning of October, I’ve read four books. Not novellas or short stories, but four, full on novel length works of fiction. To say my eyes are little tired would be an understatement.  All of this reading though has sparked all kinds of things in the writer portion of my brain. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood inspired me regarding script writing, so it managed to show a little light at the end of the script tunnel I’ve been staring down since 2010 when my now novel, Breaking Point, began life as the first episode of a television series I was thinking about.  I went with the novelization because it was familiar territory and I needed an idea for NaNo.  Since finishing it, I’ve gone back to seeing it as a television series but couldn’t figure out why during the initial script writing, things were going so far away from the novel.  Well, now, since my Divine revelation (see what I did there?), I can see why script writers deviate from the source material the way they do.  Certain things that work in a novel just do not translate to film.  I can almost forgive some of the more horrible film adaptations of Stephen King’s work, now.  Almost.  (*gives side eye to Stanley Kubric*)

Anyway, I’m catching up the Hollows series, by Kim Harrison.  I don’t remember when or how I became interested. I do remember being drawn to that first paperback because I recognized that the title was a play on the title of a Clint Eastwood movie as has each one since then. Very clever, I thought. Figured I’d take the plunge so I bought that first one. It was easy from there to get wrapped up in the life of Rachel Morgan, a crime investigating witch.  I found the books to be well written; the plots fun and action packed.  You never were quite sure just how crazy Rachel’s life was going to be while on the case, but you knew crazy would definitely be in attendance. I’m up to book nine and…well, sigh.  I’m afraid I’m losing interest much like I did with the Anita Blake series (Laurell K. Hamilton; she’s up to book 21 in that series, I’ve read all but the 21st, including the novellas.  No wonder much of the thrill is gone).  It seems Rachel hasn’t learned a thing from her past behaviors.  She’s still letting pride get in the way; she’s still carrying around this heavy guilt which, in my opinion is more the result of her not embracing who she is at her core.  And good grief, can she stop with the lust / hate thing she has going on with…

Sorry, don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who might be interested in reading them.  Bottom line for me as both a reader and a writer – when is it time for a character to evolve? Or is it against the series code book to have your character grow up a bit? Anita Blake went through some major transformations over the course of the 20 plus book series, not all of them for the best in terms of character development, if you ask me, but she at least got over herself and began to embrace who she’d become. My issue with those books is that they follow a predictable pattern and what drew me to the series in the first place is gone.  Completely.  Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say, if you enjoy soft monster porn, you’ll enjoy the Blake novels. *ahem*  Back to character development.  I read the entire Sookie Stackhouse – Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I loved her books so much I almost choked when I saw what HBO had done to them. I know, I know, True Blood was a fan favorite from jump, and perhaps I’m too much of a purist, but even now, with my expanded view on adaptations (see the first paragraph of this lengthy post 😉 ), I still cannot fathom what possessed the writers to take a character who would have balked at using profanity to having her yell, “Shut the fuck up” at her beloved Grandmother’s funeral!!  We won’t even get into the sex scenes.  smh.  I gladly shared the books with my then 16-year-old daughter, but there was no way in hell after watching the first episode that I was going to sit with her and watch True Blood. In fact, I refused to watch it myself after that. I was that disappointed.

Whew. I wandered there didn’t I?  Back to what I was talking about. In the Sookie Stackhouse books, she too went through some changes but she grew with them, still keeping the basic traits that endeared me to her (such as her morals and sense of decorum) despite the madness going on around her. She got her hands dirty when necessary, but didn’t obsesses over what it all meant.  She adapted. And because of this, I never got bored with the story.  And then there’s Harry Dresden of Jim Butcher’s, The Dresden Files series. O.M.G.  I LOVE this series despite the fact that Harry keeps getting into the same types of scrapes in each book. The situations don’t change much, but he does seem to at least make different mistakes each time around.  I’ll be reading book number fifteen as soon as I’m done with the Hollows marathon (3 books in a row to be up to date).   I’m looking forward to it for sure.

Having never written a series before (although I do have a 3 book idea sitting on my hard drive), I don’t know how difficult it is to keep the writing fresh, the characters interesting, and the plots exciting book, after book, after book. And with the Anita Blake series, we’re talking 20 plus books over the span of as many years. I would imagine that churning out a book a year, an author would be looking for some short cuts for sure. I hate though that it looks as if Ms. Hamilton’s creativity is maybe being stifled by such a tight production schedule.  She hardly has time between tomes to sleep let alone allow an idea to gestate and turn into something unique, while still keeping the elements that drew her fans to her in the first place. Oh well. I’ll continue to read them as they come out because, well…I’m nosey. I want to see how it all turns out :-).

***Side note***

Big thank you to Ms. Charlaine Harris who wrapped up the Sookie Stackhouse series before things had a chance to get stale.

Here are the titles to date in each of the series I mentioned.  Lists courtesy of Wikipedia :-).

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher the_dresden_files

No. Title Paperback Release Date Paperback ISBN
1 Storm Front 2000 April 1 0-4514-5781-1
2 Fool Moon 2001 January 1 0-4514-5812-5
3 Grave Peril 2001 September 1 0-4514-5844-3
4 Summer Knight 2002 September 3 0-4514-5892-3
5 Death Masks 2003 August 5 0-4514-5940-7
6 Blood Rites 2004 August 2 0-4514-5987-3
7 Dead Beat 2006 May 2 0-4514-6091-X
8 Proven Guilty 2007 February 6 0-4514-6103-7
9 White Night 2008 February 5 0-4514-6155-X
10 Small Favor 2009 May 3 0-4514-6200-9
11 Turn Coat 2010 March 3 0-4514-6281-5
12 Changes 2011 March 11 0-4514-6347-1
13 Ghost Story 2012 August 7 0-4514-6407-1
14 Cold Days 2013 September 3 0-4514-1912-5
15 Skin Game TBA

 

 

 

 

Anita-sexy-Blake-SeriesAnita Blake, Vampire Hunter by Laurell K. Hamilton

  1. Guilty Pleasures (1993) ISBN 0-515-13449-X
  2. The Laughing Corpse (1994) ISBN 0-425-19200-8
  3. Circus of the Damned (1995) ISBN 0-515-13448-1
  4. The Lunatic Cafe (1996) ISBN 0-425-20137-6
  5. Bloody Bones (1996) ISBN 0-425-20567-3
  6. The Killing Dance (1997) ISBN 0-425-20906-7
  7. Burnt Offerings (1998) ISBN 0-515-13447-3
  8. Blue Moon (1998) ISBN 0-515-13445-7
  9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000) ISBN 0-515-13450-3
  10. Narcissus in Chains (2001) ISBN 5-558-61270-3
  11. Cerulean Sins (2003) ISBN 0-515-13681-6
  12. Incubus Dreams (2004) ISBN 0-515-13975-0
  13. Micah (2006) ISBN 0-515-14087-2 (novella)
  14. Danse Macabre (2006) ISBN 0-425-20797-8
  15. The Harlequin (2007) ISBN 978-0-425-21724-5
  16. Blood Noir (2008) ISBN 978-0-425-22219-5
  17. Skin Trade (2009) ISBN 978-0-425-22772-5
  18. Flirt (February 2010) ISBN 978-0-425-23567-6 (novella)
  19. Bullet (June 2010) ISBN 978-0-425-23433-4
  20. Hit List (June 2011) ISBN 978-0-425-24113-4
  21. Beauty (May 2012) ISBN 978-1-101-57930-5 (novella)
  22. Kiss the Dead (June 2012) ISBN 978-0-425-24754-9
  23. Affliction (July 2013) ISBN 978-0-425-25570-4
  24. Dancing (September 2013) ISBN 978-0-698-15643-2 (novella)
  25. Shutdown” (short story; unofficially and temporarily released October 2013, not yet formally published)[14]
  26. Jason (December 2, 2014) ISBN 978-0-515-15607-2 (novella)
  27. Dead Ice (July 2015)

 

sookieThe Southern Vampire / Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

  1. Dead Until Dark (May 2001)
  2. Living Dead in Dallas (March 2002)
  3. Club Dead (May 2003)
  4. Dead to the World (May 2004)
  5. Dead as a Doornail (May 2005)
  6. Definitely Dead (May 2006)
  7. All Together Dead (May 2007)
  8. From Dead to Worse (May 2008)
  9. Dead and Gone (May 2009)
  10. Dead in the Family (May 2010)
  11. Dead Reckoning (May 2011)
  12. Deadlocked (May 2012)
  13. Dead Ever After (May 2013)
  14. After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse; (October 29, 2013)

 

The Hollows CollageThe Hollows series by Kim Harrison

  1. Dead Witch Walking (April 2004, ISBN 0-06-057296-5)
  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (January 2005, ISBN 0-06-057297-3)
  3. Every Which Way But Dead (June 28, 2005, ISBN 0-06-057299-X)
  4. A Fistful of Charms (June 27, 2006, ISBN 0-06-078819-4)
  5. For a Few Demons More (March 20, 2007, ISBN 0-06-078838-0)
  6. The Outlaw Demon Wails (Where Demons Dare in the UK) (February 26, 2008, ISBN 978-0-06-078870-4)
  7. White Witch, Black Curse (February 24, 2009, ISBN 978-0-06-113801-0)
  8. Black Magic Sanction (February 23, 2010, ISBN 0-06-113803-7)
  9. Pale Demon (February 22, 2011, ISBN 0-06-113806-1)
  10. A Perfect Blood (February 21, 2012, ISBN 0-06-195789-5)
  11. Ever After (January 22, 2013, ISBN 0-06-195791-7)[9]
  12. The Undead Pool (February 25, 2014, ISBN 0-06-195793-2)[10]
  13. The Witch with No Name (September 9, 2014, ISBN 9780061957956)[11]

Book Review – The Case of the Empty Killer by John C. Scott

51HAY8mNYmL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-45,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_It’s not often I read something that leaves me with my mouth hanging open in frank surprise at the end.  I’ve seen a couple of movies that managed to drop my jaw at their incredible, “I didn’t see that coming” moments but rarely have I had a book trigger that same response.  The Case of the Empty Killer  by John C. Scott, left me with my jaw flapping in the breeze and I’m happy to recommend that you read it in hopes it prompts the same response in you.  I hate to be so vague but I don’t want to spoil not one riveting minute of reading I think you’re going to have by giving anything away.  I will tell you this, there’s a manhunt that takes place in the sewer tunnels under the city.  There were sections of those scenes where my claustrophobia was triggered – they were that intensely written.

While you’re at it, I highly recommend you go and read a couple other books from the Nineteen Galaxies collection – first and foremost, the tale that started it all, The Legend of Adam 1113122122Caine.  Um, can you say hot, hunky British Marine?  Yes, well, I sure can and I say it every time I talk about this book.  Adam Caine is my first ever lit crush. He’s also who I consider to be the sun around which the Nineteen Galaxies revolve :-).  A bit over the top huh? Sorry.  *ahem*  The book is superb; a wonderful introduction to the character.  The other book I’d recommend is Recon One-Five.  It reads like a blockbuster action movie. There were points where I had to put it down in order to catch my breath :-).

There’s also  Ghosts of Earth.  This is an epic sized book and I have to admit, it’s slow going.  Still no less well written, it’s just taking me a longer time to read it. :-). I’d still recommend it and I’m not quite half way through.  What I like most about all of the work I’ve read so far is that, even though each story is a part of a whole lexicon, each book I’ve read stands firmly in its own light.  It’s a series, but not a series if you get my meaning. You don’t have to read them in any particular order, though I would suggest you make The Legend of Adam Caine your first read.

Bottom line, if you’re into science fiction, amazing battle scenes, characters that, human or alien, are well-developed and written in such a way that they seem real, then you’ll enjoy John’s work.  His is the first and only science fiction I’ve read that keeps me engaged, doesn’t bog my reading experience down with such high level science-y stuff that I spend more time Googling than I do reading.  You can find John on Facebook, and here on WordPress.

 

 

Book Review – Les Miserables, Part Deux

The ending.  Okay, so I was right there with all the human condition exploration; doing what’s right even when it means you may be, oh, I dunno…arrested and thrown in the galleys.  But good googly, the heart wrenching last words; the barely making it to the death-bed with nothing but forgiveness and love.  Have to admit, for me, that’s where I skipped a few passages. I’m definitely one of those folks who does not want my action / adventure to include a sappy, near tragic, type love deal show up at the climax. Would have much rather Monsieur Hugo have wrapped that up, then ended with an explosion or two during the rebellion.  Sue me, I’m just not a romantic type when it comes to my entertainment.  Despite having spent the last couple of hours while writing this review watching “chick-flicks”  – lol

It’s a long book but I recommend it. Especially if you’re a writer. There is so much to learn: vocabulary, pacing, how to make a description of a single character last a full les-mischapter ;-).  Seriously, while these might not be things you think about while you’re tossing together your latest work of art, particularly now that modern writing is so, well…not nearly as lavish or heavy on the prose.  Doesn’t matter.  I urge writers of fiction to read at least one literary classic in their genre. There’s rarely a better way to learn the craft than to see how the greats did it back in the day.

Not to mention, it is a fun read. The action, the intrigue, the touching human stories, all of it may be found within the over 800 pages of this written masterpiece.  If you read it, have read it, drop a comment below – let me know what you thought.  Oh, and for part one of this review, click here.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Book Review (Part One) – Les Miserables

*I do not own the rights to this image*
*I do not own the rights to this image*

Um, wow.  This is the first “classic” I’ve voluntarily read, ever. My Goodreads “read” shelf is chock full of other classic titles but believe me, had it not been for the English Lit classes I’ve taken over the years, most of those would have never caught my attention, let alone been read to the last page.

I decided to read Les Miserables after having been swept away by the musical.  I was late in seeing it and even still, ended up watching the movie version instead of being fortunate enough to have seen it on Broadway.  I’d heard wonderful things about it as a play, even met several of the actors in a traveling production when it stopped in Denver for a run. I was working the parking garage booth at the garage of the apartment complex in which many of the actors had been staying.

Anyway, after falling in love with the movie, I decided to tackle an English translation of the novel.  I started reading it September of last year.  It’s taken me almost a year to finish it for a number of reasons, first and foremost being that when it comes to descriptions, Monsieur Hugo did not skimp on the verbiage.  The book isn’t broken down into what I’d consider chapters, but it does follow some sort of segmentation formatting. What you end up with is a “chapter” dedicated to a description of a woman.  Yes, one woman.  An entire chapter to discuss how fair of skin, how fashionably dressed and how flirtatious yet chaste she was in personality. Then there are the French history lessons in which great detail is written about various rebellions, coups and such that occurred in France (click here for a well written article regarding the time frame in which Les Miserables is set.) Toss in another few chapters where Hugo’s thoughts regarding class, politics, crime, morality, etc. are eloquently (yet long winded-ly) expressed and you have one LONG love story.  Okay, it’s not just a love story, per se, but love factors a great deal in the real tale buried in the many lectures.

Speaking of lectures, I wanted to point out a couple of passages I highlighted – despite this novel having been written in 1862, these following sections I’m going to quote seemed to be speaking directly to our current political and economic situations today. Check this out:

First problem: To produce wealth.  Second problem: To share it.  The first problem contains the question of work. The second contains the question of salary. In the first problem the employment of forces is in question. In the second, the distribution of employment. From the proper employment of forces results public power. From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness. By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood. From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity. Social prosperity means the man happy, the citizen free, the nation great. England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor. It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides. It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one. Solve only the first of the two problems; you will be Venice, you will be England.  YOu will have, like Venice, an artificial power, or like England, a material power; you will be the wicked rich man. You will die by an act of violence, as Venice died, or by bankruptcy, as England will fall. And the world will allow to die and fall all that is merely selfishness, all that does not represent for the human race either a virtue or an idea.

It is well understood here, that by the words Venice, England, we designate not the peoples, but social structures; the oligarchies superposed on nations, and not the nations themselves. The nations always have our respect and our sympathy. Venice, as a people, will live again; England, the aristocracy, will fall, but England, the nation, is immortal.  That said, we continue.

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to  call yourself France.

 

Whew!  In case it wasn’t obvious, what I read in this passage was a solid description of what ails our current society and how we might be able to turn things around. I wished fervently as soon as I read this passage that more people would read this and there’d be some push, some rebellion to rise up and demand that these ideals be made into action steps immediately.  This would be a platform I’d gladly support – if I thought the person campaigning on it wasn’t full of @#$% and just saying what I wanted to hear.  Ho hum.

( Back with part two tomorrow. All this excellent writing – I do so love the way 19th century writers wrote – has inspired me to work on my new novel.)