Friday, May 29, 2009

Got Platform, Will Publish...

I recently attended a writers meeting where the topic was creating a platform. For those that don't know, a writer's platform consists of his or her credentials as a writer and connection to the community. Basically, it answers the publisher's question, "And just why am I supposed to invest money in you, outside of actual ability?"

Lis Wiehl has platform. According to the book jacket of Face of Betrayal, "Lis Wiehl is a Harvard Law School graduate and former federal prosecutor. A widely popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel, Wiehl appears regularly on The O'Reilly Factor and was co-host with Bill O'Reilly on the widely-syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, for the past seven years."

Oh, yeah. Platform out the wazoo. She had to have order to get this book published.

No, it's not horrible. It's...competent. Average. Mediocre.

The writing isn't bad, but it lacks a unique "voice"--which is something publishers always say they are looking for. Apparently, being famous means you don't really need that. Also, the characters were pretty much cookie-cutter, and the ending could be seen a mile away. There was an attempt to hit on some controversial issues--abortion, spouse abuse, teen sex. I say "attempt" because it was very surface. Too many topics, so the attention to each was spread thin. And, specifically, as a writer for teens, I'd say this book sent the message that teen sex is fine as long as it's not with a man your father's age. NOT the best of messages.

I shouldn't be so harsh with Lis, though, should I? I mean, she wrote the book with April Henry, who is apparently a published mystery writer. So, it's just as much April Henry as it is Lis Wiehl. Not according to the cover though--Wiehl's name is in large print--equal in size to the title of the book, while April's is rather small. (Ever noticed that the more popular an author gets, the larger their name becomes on the cover? A newbie writer will have the title in big letters and their name much smaller in comparison, but the big authors have their names in HUGE print. I suppose the title is just a technicality at that point.)

I really do like supporting first-time authors, as I did in my last review for Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. But, I also insist on giving credit where credit is due. Maybe the issue is that I've still got that last book lingering in my brain and I'm mentally comparing the two as I read. Thirteen had me sucked in, unable to put the book down. I got to know the characters, and found myself invested in their story. It was ONE topic that was addressed, and addressed it was, in depth, and realistically.

But, in Face of Betrayal, I found myself fighting the urge to skim through. Honestly, the only reason I didn't just stop reading it is that I'm signed up as a review blogger for Thomas Nelson, and part of the agreement is that I am to read the book in its entirety.

But, there is nothing in the agreement that says I have to love the book or give it a rave review.

Thank goodness.

There are probably loads of people who are going to love this book and think I'm just a jealous aspiring writer. That's fine. I know what kind of book I like. Complex, deep characters, something that is going to make me want to read the book again and again. This book was none of those things for me.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I like complex deep characters too. I found myself really enjoying 13 Reasons Why also. It was a good read.
I'm writing a Realistic Fiction novel too and I'm also an aspiring author. I'm trying to build up my characters & give them that "voice".

Kat Heckenbach said...

I think it's awesome that you are putting emphasis on your characterization. To me, that is what makes a book a keeper. You can read a book with great action, but once you find out the ending, there is no reason to read it again. But, if the characters become important to you, you will want to go back and visit them again and again.

With this book, I wanted to skip to the end just to make sure I had figured it out right, and move on. I didn't care one bit about the characters. They were so flat.

Good luck on your writing, Candy!

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Jason Elam (kicker for the Denver Bronco's) "co-authored" a CBA novel.

I once considered putting an ad in the paper: "Wanted: a celebrity to co-author a completed novel. One stipulation. My name has to be the same size." :)

Bekah said...

Great blog, Kat! I love reading all your reviews!
You don't mind that I'm following, do you?
Thanks a lot for the comment.
I, too, strive to give my characters "voice".


Kat Heckenbach said...

Bekah, are you kidding? Of course I want you to follow :).

I'm glad you like my reviews. I've got some interesting looking books in my "to read" pile, so hopefully I'll post some more good ones soon.

Janet Ramsdell Rockey said...

You've appeased my guilty conscience. I, too, am trudging through a Thomas Nelson book. The others I've read for them were great. This one is a disappointment, and I wondered how to express that without trashing the author. He has feelings, too.