Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Star of Justice" Contest Winner

As Voldemort said to the pitiful remains of his death eaters upon his bodily return:

"I confess myself....disappointed."

You see, I'd set up this whole contest in such  a way that I hoped it would attract more entrants. I asked for single trivia questions with answers--fun for you (or so I thought), less work for me when I do my next speaking gig ;P. I sweetened the pot by adding more books to the prize if the number of entrants grew--fifty entrants meant two books, seventy five meant three, a hundred meant four. With the number of nerds I associate with, and those nerds passing along the opportunity to other nerds, I figured I'd be buried under an avalanche of trivia and be giving away all four books.

Not so.

Twenty entries. With a whole month of opportunity. And two were actually posted as comments on Facebook, which is not how I'd asked for the entries to be submitted, but I let it slide since I had so few to keep track of.

So, yes. Disappointed.

But the entrants who participated did so with enthusiasm! 

And unlike Voldemort, I appreciate my faithful minions :). 

FIRST....Let's get to it. The winner of Star of Justice, whose name was drawn from a bucket by my daughter (aka Beastie 2), is....

~~~~ SHAE!~~~~

Congrats, Shae--I'll be emailing you for your mailing address. And just because I want all those people who didn't enter to kick themselves nice and hard, I'm including Aquasynthesis as well.

Oh...wait...feeling a bit of Voldemortishness coming on... 

Old Voldy plays favorites, eh? And he likes rule-breakers...

Therefore, I'm giving the biggest rule-breaker award to RUTH for completely ignoring my rules, knowing darn well she'd only be getting one entry, and sending me like fifteen different questions. So, Ruth, I'll be emailing you and you can pick one of the other books-either Finding Angel or Odd Little Miracles.

And the almost rule-breaker award goes to CINDY K. She asked about sending more questions--oh a couple of times--but refrained. Therefore, Cindy, for your incredible self-control despite total geekishness, you can either take the book not chosen by Ruth, or I probably have another copy of Aquasynthesis if you'd rather have that.

There my little death ea--I mean, entrants. Your reward.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Keep Your Eye on the Goal?

I've already mentioned the guest post I did at Speculative Faith last Friday. It involves paradox. Oddly, my  entire life lately has felt paradoxical. I was even thinking of writing a post listing all the different things that feel that way. But today, one thing stood out really strongly.

In my church small group, we're doing a Rick Warren study that talks about the phases we go through when pursuing our dreams. First, we must have a dream and confirm it's Gods will for us. Then we must decide to pursue it. Then there is usually some sort of delay--we don't just go straight to the goal. Following and/or along with the delay is difficultly. Then, we often feel like we've hit a dead-end. But once we plow through that, the dream is delivered.

This morning my pastor spoke on dreams and goals. He used the movie UP as an example. In the movie, Carl and his wife have a dream to live atop Paradise Falls. But life takes them on some twists and turns, and after years of marriage, his wife passes away--and they had never followed through on that dream. Carl decides he must get their house to Paradise Falls. Of course, his plans hit a snag when little Russel ends up going along for the ride.

My pastor chose to show the clip where Carl finally gets his house on the top of the falls, and realizes it's not what he thought it would be--that really it was the adventure of getting there that was important, but he'd had his eyes so firmly on the goal he'd missed out on living after his wife died.

NO, this is not one of those "the goal is really the journey" posts. Sometimes I hate those. It often feels like justification for not reaching your goal. Like as long as you work hard and smell the roses along the way, who cares if you never actually accomplish what you set out to do. I have a very hard time with that.

I don't think that is the message of UP at all--or the message my pastor was sending.

Sometimes, our goal is really the first step in a longer journey to a farther goal. Carl had to get to those falls before he could let go of the stuff he'd been holding onto for so long--the stuff that was weighing him down and keeping him from the whole new set of adventures he was meant to have.

But another thing that I got from this morning's message was the idea that if we can let go of that baggage--that if we are at least willing to do so--we can reach our goals faster.

I wonder so often why I focus so strongly on writing. I have had many other interests and career goals that I never followed through on, and it has never bothered me. I thought from the time I was a kid until I was a good year or so into college that I wanted to be an artist. I started off in college with the intent of teaching art. But I found myself dropping that dream and switching my major to biology. I got my degree, but never went on to grad school and never pursued a job in the science field.

After college I took a couple of odd and unrelated jobs--I worked at a veterinary office and then at a Montessori school. Finally, I ended up at Sylvan Learning Center tutoring upper level math and reading. I thought I'd found my niche. I loved teaching teens, I loved teaching math. I never felt loss at not using my art skills or science education. And then I got pregnant with my son, quit to be a stay at home mom, and decided to homeschool. No regrets about leaving Sylvan at all.

I still don't regret not pursuing art as a career. Nor do I pine over not getting that PhD I promised myself. But I can't seem to let go of the idea of being a writer, of being an author, of having my books in bookstores, on people's physical shelves at home or their ereader shelves, of having people love my stories. I've never been so passionate about a goal before. And I don't know why.

Writing is the most difficult, the most frustrating, the most emotional journey I've been on. Nothing about it has been what I've expected. Publication has not come at all like I thought it would, and marketing and book sales is something that makes me want to scream at times, cry at others, and overall indulge in far too much chocolate.

And after this morning I am wondering if the reason I am feeling so frustrated by this particular endeavor is that I can't imagine letting it go. I feel like Carl, eyes set on Paradise Falls, dragging a house full of stuff behind me--everything I've attached to the idea of authorship. I wonder if maybe I need to at least be willing to let go of the idea of being an author, of saying maybe that's not the goal God has in mind for me. Am I missing out on the next big adventure because my sights are set too firmly on that one step?

Carl did get to Paradise Falls. It's not like he was made to turn back. But if he'd dumped all the junk from his house in the first place, he'd have flown there faster, seen sooner it was time for another adventure, something even bigger and better.

I simply can't help but wonder: Am I slowing down my own flight by holding too tightly to it? Or am I just flying in the wrong direction altogether?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Telling by Mike Duran

I was gonna wait and write this next week, but it's rainy today, and I can use some procrastination material. Yes, I will work on my own stuff today, I promise, but in a little while :P.

The first thing I want to say is that any time I read something by an author I "know" in any capacity, I worry that it makes me biased. On one hand, maybe my liking that person will make me like their writing more than I would had a stranger wrote the same thing. On the other hand, I can find myself being too critical of writers I know.

But I feel absolutely certain that this book stood on its own in my mind.

The Telling is the story of Zeph Walker, who was given the gift of prophecy from God as a child, but a tragedy turned his heart from it and he renounced both God and his gift and chose a life of solitude in the small town of Endurance, CA.

Tamra and her grandmother, Annie, are brought into his life, though--or maybe it's that he's dragged into theirs--when strange things start happening at Annie's nursing home. People are changing, and it turns out there is a very sinister reason. Zeph, of course, is the key to stopping it all.

I was SO impressed by Mike Duran's characterization in this book. Quite the cast of characters, and all of them fully formed. I totally connected with them throughout the book, especially Zeph. And the side character of Little Weaver is just plain cool :).

The setting was vivid, and the plot well-paced. There were a very few, nit-picky things I found, but nothing worth pointing out in a review because it is likely things others won't even notice, and they were very isolated. Not speed bumps in the reading--more like a handful of stray pebbles on the road.

Also, unlike The Resurrection, which reminded me of Frank Peretti's work, The Telling didn't really remind me of any other author. It felt like Mike had come into his own voice more completely.

Anyway, overall I have to say I'd be tempted to go back and knock The Resurrection down to a 3-star (from the 4-star I gave it) and Winterland down to a 4-star so I can clearly show how much better I liked The Telling by comparison. Great job. Loved it :).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yep, Another One

Another post of just links:

My last two posts have been about reviewing books, and I've continued with some thoughts on The Cheesecake Thickens this week. Take a moment to pop over there. Hopefully this is the last of my obsessing on this issue. Well, for now :P.

And go check out my interview on Proof, See the Evidence. It posted a couple of days ago, but Google Alerts, being what it is, didn't let me know until today. It always tells me right off when I post something, though. How handy is that? (rolls eyes)

And, lastly...the contest for my giveaway of Star of Justice by Robynn Tolbert is still going on. One more week to enter. All it takes is emailing me a trivia question and answer. It can be about any fantasy or sci-fi book or movie. Come now, folks, I can really use some more entries! And you can really use this book! Go HERE for all the details.

Git goin'.

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Thoughts on Book Reviews: Turning the Scope Around

I had an interesting online conversation the other night with a writer friend of mine. Not someone I know deeply well, but have chatted with a several times and he's someone I respect as a writer. He'd just read Finding Angel, and has rated it "3 stars." He sent me an email to give me a heads-up before posting the full review, since it's not going to be a glowing, raving one. I appreciated it, and asked for some personal feedback.

While I didn't take the rating personally in the first place, our conversation made me feel even more okay about it. He made comments like "steady, solid prose." The main downside was that the action didn't start soon enough for him. 

I found myself saying, "I'd rather hear that I can sling a sentence but the story was too slow for someone's taste than hear that my prose is clunky."

It was a gut reaction. Before that moment, I had no idea I felt that way.  

And then he went on to give an example of a book he also gave 3 stars to for similar reasons as mine. Mrs. Perigrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I nearly laughed out loud. I LOVED that book. 

THIS is where explanations make all the difference in the world. I could have seen his three star rating and been hurt. But because he backed it up with reasoning--honest reasoning--I am totally fine with it. It put me in a class with a book I'm honored to be compared to--regardless of star rating. I can see because of his comments and the comparison to Mrs. Perigrine's that this is something I'd consider a taste issue.

You see, I happen to like books that take their time to build a character and a world before starting the heavy action. I also like subtlety. Little hints and clues of things to come that don't necessarily smack the reader in the face. 

I read a blog post very recently about Madeline L'Engle. It had to do with her religious beliefs, but the blogger commented that he was in the middle of reading A Wrinkle in Time. He said that thus far he is finding the book "boring." 

Boring? That was *the* book that spawned my love for fantasy and sci-fi novels. I picked it up today and read the first few pages and my heart did flip-flops. I love, love, love A Wrinkle in Time. One thing I love about it is that it doesn't just slam you into action. It starts with Meg sitting in the attic while it's storming outside. She's just thinking about her life, letting us get to know her.

BTW--I have thrice had my writing compared to Madeline L'Engle's and nearly had my head soar right off my body! Logically, if we follow this through, that means the blogger I mentioned would likely find *my* book boring. But knowing he feels the same about a book I adore makes that perfectly okay.

Anyway, my writer friend has yet to publish his review, but I do have one three-star on Amazon so far. I'm going to share it with you, and give you my take on it.

I really enjoyed this book. The story was creative and imaginative. I loved the characters throughout, especially Angel, Gregor and Sir Benjamin. The writing was a bit disjointed at times. I would have liked a bit more of a fluid feel through the text, but I was pleasantly surprised with the complexity. It was far more then I expected.
I certainly was wrapped up in the storyline, curious to turn the next page and see what awaited me. I could have done without the small interludes between the scientist and Dawric. I didn't think they added much in the ways of story or suspense level.
I think this is a great Middle Grade Fiction read. It is simplistic enough that a child could follow it and not inappropriate in content. Teens and Young Adults may be interested as well, but might find it to be too choppy for their taste. A fun story and worthy read.
There are two main complaints in there:

The reader found the writing disjointed/choppy/not fluid enough--which to me are all essentially the same thing, and refer to the style of writing. They didn't say my dialog was stiff and unnatural or my sentences were clunky. They're not saying my writing is bad, just not the style they prefer.

The reader also didn't dig the villain interludes. I knew from the beginning those would be a point of either love or hate for many readers, falling into the category along with prologues--extraneous info that some readers feel passionately against (a reason I kept those bits very, very short). I can also take it to mean the the story stood strongly on its own without the interludes, which is a good thing.

Anyway, in this review, the positives seem to far outweigh the negatives. I see words like: enjoyed, creative, imaginative, loved, pleasantly surprised, complexity, more than I expected, wrapped up in the storyline, curious to turn the next page, fun story, worthy read.

If that's a three-star review, I say bring 'em on!

"Oh, really?" you say. "You want three-star reviews?"

Well, of course I'd rather have higher ratings. But I'm looking at it this way. The three-star reviews I've had so far have had such positives in them I find it hard to be upset. So far, I know of four people who have said they'd rate Finding Angel 3-stars:

The two I've shown above.

Another is a reviewer who ended up asking me so many questions about Finding Angel we became friends. That, to me is a positive. Not just that I got a new friend out of the situation, but despite the story not wowing her, she continued contemplating it.

And the fourth person is a good friend, who has not posted a review but discussed her rating with me personally. I'm going to respect her privacy and not give any details, but I will say this--I respect what she had to say to me, I didn't take any of it personally because I know she has very particular taste, and I know that on some level the story *did* hit home with her and I am happy in that knowledge.

Also, if I extrapolate (which is a highly inaccurate process, but all I've got here), taking into account all the reviews I know of posted online and the comments made to me by readers that were never posted as reviews (sorry, you'll have to take my word on this), for every three-star review I get I'll be getting several four- and five-star reviews. As long as the weight leans toward the top of the scale I can be happy, because you really can't write a book that pleases everyone. (Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has 198 three-star reviews on Amazon right now. But the others outweigh them by so much.)

My point in all this is to follow up an what I was talking about in my last post about star ratings. Different elements mean different things to different readers. When I first look and see two stars knocked off a rating of my book, I think, "Holy cow! What did I do?" But for them a star isn't necessarily made of the same stuff as it is for me. Not that it answers the question to life, the universe and everything, but I find that interesting.

Thanks for indulging my inner musings as I turn the microscope on the ratings given my own book.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How Much Does a Star Weigh? (Dissecting a Book Review)

I have read and participated in discussions on what seems like dozens of blog posts about book reviewing. They've tackled topics like giving undeserved positive reviews, always giving reasons for your star ratings, whether you should review books by people you know, and a multitude of other issues.

What I haven't seen is a discussion on how star ratings are derived. In other words, what particular elements do you mark down for, and by how much? How much "weight" do different elements carry?

Plot, character, and world-building are the three foundation blocks of a novel, in my opinion. But other chunks that take up a lot of weight are dialog and pacing. Voice is a very important one to me. And then there are things like sentence structure, description, and word use. All of those elements are in some ways tied inextricably to each other, but they can still be looked at separately.

I'm going to attempt to assess my own method by looking at some of the reviews I've left on Amazon.

I've never given a book a one-star. I think if a book is that bad, well, frankly I'm not going to make myself read the thing. I likely won't get past the first few pages. And how does one justifiably write a book review of only a page or two?

There are times, however, I can get a decent way into a book--much farther than the first pages--but still give up. The reasons? Some books with strong voices have lost me because I didn't buy the story premise or the plot. Some had a great premise and plot, but the voice drove me nuts. Some had characters that were so inconsistent I couldn't keep reading. If any element, regardless of which one, was enough to make me stop partway through, the book got a two-star.

Three-star reviews tend to come from being able to get completely through a book, but finding some particular element distracting. I may find myself having to stop because I'm getting annoyed by the voice or idiosyncrasies in the plot. But there is something else--maybe a character or a situation in the story--that I'm curious enough about to draw me back to the book.

Four-star books keep me reading, but have slight speed-bumps here and there. It's a book that when I reach the end, I'm very glad I read it. The big elements are strong and the writing is tight. The voice may not have knocked my socks off, but it was pleasant enough. However, it may not be a book I hold on to with intention of ever reading again.

Five-star books are those that I'd totally read again. All the big elements are there and well-done. The voice is compelling, and the writing clean. I've become completely absorbed by the story and when the book is out of my hand I'm itching to get back to it. There are different levels of this, btw. I have marked books five-star that I still wouldn't rank up there with Harry Potter or The Name of the Wind. They're not epic-omigod-you-must-read-this-or-die, but they touched me. The Muse by Fred Warren is a good example. I picked it up on a day when I was feeling particularly foul. Depressed and grumpy and pretty much sick of the world. But when I closed the book, which I read in just a few hours, I hugged it to my chest and smiled.

Hmmm.....has this actually helped? I'm not sure. I think I can pinpoint certain things that seem to matter more to me than others. Such as, I can tolerate a less than stellar plot if the characters and voice are compelling enough. I've read books with voices so strong I've thought, "This book could be about a trip to Walmart and I'd read it," because I love the character and/or prose so much.

But if the writing isn't fluid and I'm constantly tripping over the prose, the most incredible plotting in the world won't matter. Connections to the characters are lost because the voice is too dry or the wording prohibits the reader from getting into the character's head and really experiencing things. The potentially coolest-ever story world falls flat because I feel like I'm trying to look through a dirty window to see it.

And there is the problem of subjectivity. For example, I've seen books slammed solely because they are written in first person present tense. The reviewer finds that to always be like a dirty window, yet I happen to love that pov choice IF it is done well. There are things that are wholly personal taste.

There are times when what we love, hate, or are indifferent about is hard to nail down, too. We just "feel" like it's a three-star or five-star. It's simply the taste left in our mouth when we close the cover. Nothing in particular stood out as poorly done, but we're underwhelmed. Nothing was outrageously original, but we "couldn't put it down."

Sometimes I wish star ratings could be done away with. I've found myself reading and reviewing books for  which I can describe my dislikes in detail--yet I know as I write the review those same things are going to strongly appeal to another type of reader. I don't like techie-focused "hard" sci-fi. The details bog me down and I find my eyes rolling back in my head. But what if it's the most well-written hard sci-fi book out there? I actually wouldn't know that! So my review says the book goes into excruciating detail--without that star rating the potential reader can interpret that in light of their own likes and dislikes.

What I'm coming to realize is that stars have different weights for different readers/reviewers. What makes a four-star for one makes a three-star or a five-star for someone else. And reviewers put varying degrees of emphasis on different elements. In other words, what kills a book for me may not bother you a bit, and vice versa.

And here's something kind of out in left field: What if it's something that is editing-related? Not talking about self-pubbed books here, in which the author has taken control of all aspects. I mean traditionally published books, where an editor is assigned to (or chosen by) an author but doesn't really do their job? Should the rating reflect that, as most readers relate the story solely to the author and don't think about behind-the-scenes?

Reviewing used to feel so much easier before I started letting my mind run down these trails!

So, tell me: How much does a star weigh for you? What elements are most important to you, and therefore heavy enough to knock stars off your ratings?

(PS--I never, ever let cover art influence my review of a book. I've found cover art and content can be drastically disconnected from each other. Some of my favorite books ever have covers I hate. Just sayin'.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: Daughter of Light by Morgan Busse

Daughter of Light is the story of Rowen, a girl who was left on the doorstep of her adoptive home when she was a baby. When she reaches adulthood, right after her adoptive father's death, a strange thing happens. A white mark appears on her palm. With it comes power that frightens Rowen and ends in her banishment. She has nowhere to go, and takes her only option: a position as personal guard to a princess in the White City, where she is forced to use her powers and risk discovery when war is waged on her new home.

I will start with the positives:

Morgan has strong building blocks. Good plotting, pacing, world-building, and characterization are all there. The story is told from four points of view: Rowen, Captain Lore (Rowen's commanding officer), Nierne the scribe, and Caleb the assassin. They are interspersed at good intervals and lead the story's pacing well. Description is aplenty, giving a solid picture of every place and person. I felt a connection to the main characters, particularly Caleb. It's traditional fantasy, so there is a certain formality to the dialog, but it's not overdone and works quite well.

I felt the world-building was the best of the book's elements. The landscape and cities, political relationships, races of people...all very rich and complex. I noticed several hat-tips to Lord of the Rings. And I particularly loved the quirks of the Alarian race, such as the eye color that reflects the changes in the sea. Very cool :).

I love that this story is not focused on the budding romance between Rowen and Lore. It is there, and relevant to the well thought-out plot (yay!), but it doesn't overtake the real story!

I also loved that there is plenty of dark material in the book, all handled quite well. One particular scene stood out to me in which Rowen sees into the mind of a rapist--she gives the *perfect* amount of information, showing the atrocity without giving gory details. It wasn't sanitized at all, but it wasn't gratuitous either.

The faith elements are well-woven into the story, and again are relevant (yay!) rather than contrived. Overt, but not preachy. Well-balanced.

But now, the negatives...

Morgan obviously has skill, but it is spattered with an accumulation of  "weasel" words and "filter" words that I found distracting and distanced me from the pov--something that should have been caught during the line-edit. (On that note, as I've found in all the MLP books I've read, there were quite a few typos.)

I also personally would have liked to see longer sentences, which would have given the prose more fluidity and eliminated some redundancy. Redundancy showed up in another form, but I hope Morgan sees the compliment in this statement: she states the obvious, "telling" the reader things when she has just done a perfectly good job of "showing" that very thing. Trust your skills, Morgan! If you show us, you don't need to tell us :).

In all honesty, readers who are not writers will likely not notice most, or possibly any, of the things I just pointed out as negatives. But they made my editor hand itch the whole way through.

Despite my nitpicking, I foresee reading the next book in the series. And I have no doubt Morgan will quickly build a fan base with this fantasy tale that is likely to capture readers who might otherwise not read the genre.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Editing is Like...

The other day I posted this on Facebook:

 "Editing is like untangling a slinky." 

It made me wonder...what are others' takes on the editing process. So I did a Google search.

A lot of authors have editing analogy posts. Click on the author names to see the original posts. Remember, though, I know nothing about these people--they just came up in my search. This is neither advertisement nor endorsement--just me including their names to give credit for the quotes, and including the links for you curious people so you don't annoy me by griping that you can't go read them.

Editing is like:

A toothbrush. "Just like your teeth, your novel needs diligent cleansing. You may not catch every mistake, but you’ll stop them from multiplying into infections and cavities." (A.M. Harte)

A winter storm. "It’s a journey into winter, where hell can/and does freeze over.  Where chilling winds sweep across the landscape of your novel and leave some parts bare. Where a writer can get lost in the mounting drifts of plot and character and setting, and lose sight of home." (Cat Woods)

Eating an elephant. "You tackle it one bite at a time." (Maria Zannini)

Car repair. "If I'm going to fix something, I might as well do a complete job of it." (Nancy Kelley)

Moving. "...all the big stuff is done. You can see the end. But between you and the end is all this little stuff. And...dealing with the little stuff takes SEVENTEEN TIMES LONGER than the rest of the move." (Miriam Forster)

Piano practice. "You have to take it a few measures at a time, zone in on the trouble spots, and really learn the music phrase by phrase, before you can smooth it out as a finished piece." (Taryn Tyler)

Mulching. (Okay, I'm not posting a quote from this one--it made no sense to me, at least not how it's mulching specifically.) (Rebecca Belliston)

Making the perfect pizza. "You don’t want to overdo it or underdo it, or you’ll end up with an indigestible product. Plus, everybody’s got an opinion on how much is enough." (S.L. Hoffman)

Frolicking in a field of needles. (Hm, this post never actually says HOW it's like that, but hey, I can't say I disagree.) (No name on the blog--why am I not surprised?)

Alright, this isn't from a blog, it's a Tweet, but I think it is my favorite of the bunch: 
"Editing is like trying to spot the differences between two pictures when you only have one of them."

I guess I'll end on that note. 

What do you think editing is like?

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Small Press Squeeze-out?

This is just a quick post (rant?) today, about something that popped into my head. I have not researched this or looked into anyone else's take on the matter. I'm just blurting it out, and I'll likely go back later and see if there is anything out there to back up my thoughts.

What occurred to me? Small presses seem to be getting squeezed out by the big presses on one side and the mass of self-pubbers on the other side. This may seem a weird conclusion to come to, but bear with me.

We're in a time when publishing is available to pretty much anyone. For almost nothing, and sometimes absolutely nothing, any individual can "publish" a novel, in print and/or ebook, through a multitude of self-publishing venues, like CreateSpace. The vast majority of what is self-pubbed is complete crap. You don't need to research or even read any to know that. Any time there is open opportunity like that, you'll end up with mostly crap. Just watch the initial auditions for American Idol to see for yourself.

But a few self-publishers have wowed the world. Amanda Hocking and Colleen Houck are both paranormal YA romance authors who got their start with self-pubbed ebooks and then were snatched up by agents and bigger publishers because they sold so many books on their own. And this week I learned of an author named Hugh Howey, who self-pubbed a book that seems to be taking the literary world by storm. We all remember The Shack, too, but that was before the mass availability of free/nearly-free self-pubbing.

Those authors have made the world take notice. Enough notice that the other 99.99% of (mostly crappy) self-pubbed books get forgotten in the fog of admiration. We writers stand in awe of the idea of being the next big publishing rebel--and readers, most of whom don't know squat about the publishing industry, look at us and say, "Well, just do what they did."

On the other hand, there are the Big Six publishers, whom most aspiring authors strive to be accepted by. We want that big advance, the marketing budget, the prime spot on the shelves at the major bookstores.

Stuck in the middle of those two: small presses.

I'm going to end this post rather abruptly--and since I'm telling you about it, you need to forgive me. But even if you find it irritating, just think about what I'm saying here:

People see the Big Six as "legitimate" publishing. People are wowed by the guts and glory of the self-pubbed best-sellers. But they seem to see small press authors as the ones who didn't "qualify" for a Big Six house, but don't have the balls to hack it on our own.

Am I the only one to whom this has occurred? Am I seeing it all wrong?