My Writing/Editing/Publishing Book Collection Pt. 2

Here's the follow-up post to the previous one. This time, I talk about my collection of writing/editing/publishing books that weren't purchased for school but out of my own interest. Enjoy!

1. On Writing by Stephen King

I have not read this one yet, but it looks promising. I'm not a fan of King's writing; that is, I've never read any of his novels. However, he is very popular and that must mean his writing tips are probably helpful. That was my logic when purchasing the book, but now as I skim through it I am realizing it's more of Stephen King's biography. There's snippets about his brother, his marriage, his past jobs, etc. If you're interested in King or getting inside such a great writer's head, I'd recommend this one. 

2. Writing: Grammar, Usage, and Style by Jean Eggenschwiler, Emily Dotson Biggs, CliffsNotes

This one is great for consulting basic grammar. If you're unsure about spelling or comma placement, it's helpful to read this one. Or if you're like me and havw never been able to figure out how to use a semi-colon properly or memorize the definitions of basic literary terms like adverb, I'd recommend this one. However, you could just as easily Google the very same things in this book and come up with results just as helpful. 

3. The Copyeditor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn

This one is super helpful. The title is self-explanatory and the content lives up to its name. I haven't gone through the whole thing yet but I hope to one day. 

4. Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

This book is awesome for understanding today's publishing industry and gives great pointers for self-publishing. See my previous posts on this book!

5. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory by J.A. Cuddon

Super dense but super useful, especially if you're taking an AP English course that requires knowledge of literary terms. 

6. Great Jobs for English Majors by Julie DeGalan & Stephen Lambert

I have this one 3/5 stars on Goodreads. Here's my review:

This isn't what i was expecting. Luckily, I ordered it online for cheap so i didn't mind. I wish it would've talked more about the job positions and such, since it IS entitled "Great Jobs…". All the self identification stuff was really cliche and unnecessary. I also could have done without the resume writing stuff, but i'll admit that it was somehow helpful. For someone like me, a high school senior that's exploring major and career options for college, this book wasn't the most helpful. Others might be of a different opinion though.

 

 

My Writing/Editing/Publishing Book Collection

Hey guys, so as I've (very, very slowly) been unpacking my stuff from college and putting it away, I came across my little collection of publishing/editing/writing books and thought I'd share them with you. Honestly, I have not had much use for most of them just yet but hopefully they will come in handy in future endeavors. Maybe this post will help some of you out who have been thinking about purchasing any of these. Enjoy!

I'll start out with books I own solely because of school, and do another follow-up post about books I've purchased on my own. 

1. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

This book was required reading for my high school AP Literature class senior year. It was definitely one of the more interesting things we had to read that year. As I flip through it while I'm typing this, I stop at the passages I highlighed and skim over a few of the sections. I remember thinking this book was pretty helpful; the author talks about irony, metaphors, symbolism, politics, sex, food, biblical references, and even vampires. He helps you identify what certain elements or passages of a story might mean or might be alluding to. For example, he says dinner scenes or scenes including food are never just simply about eating; they always signify something much more important taking place. Personally, I think this book is great not just for reading and interpreting passages, but also for helping develop your writing skills. And if you're in high school like I was and are preparing for AP exams and English tests, this might be helpful as well; as a very unreligious person that is expected to recognzie biblical references in a poem or story, this book came in handy for me and might for you too. 

I rated this book a 3/5 stars on Goodreads. 

Here's the review I wrote for it on the site:

Had to read this for my AP Lit class, and, I'll admit, I merely skimmed it after the first couple of chapters or so. The author would ramble on and on about examples from works of literature that I have never heard of.. therefore, I got bored pretty quickly. Granted, they did back up his claims.. but I didn't need so MANY backups. One would have sufficed. Some of the topics discussed in this book were pretty helpful though. Most of it seemed really obvious, except that I needed the way that Foster worded it in order for me to comprehend it. It was a quick read that, I'm hoping, will help me to understand and possibly even enjoy (doubtful) the classics that I am regrettably forced to read in school. Sigh.

2. Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen

This one was required for my introductory college writing course. There is probably some useful information in this book – if you feel like digging through every page, that is. It's very wordy and oftentimes ends up being a lot of things you already know. If you have trouble with anaylsis, which I admittedly do, it might be worth it to pick this one up.

3. The DK Handbook by Anne Francis Wysocki and Dennis A. Lynch

This is another one I had to read for that introductory writing course and I have much the same opinion on it. I would not say this was a "handbook," and by that I mean I could definitely live without having to consult it. A lot of the content was self-explanatory and thus boring, and the authors sometimes made claims about writing that I did not agree with. Bottom line: if your teacher makes you buy this, do it. Otherwise, don't bother picking this one up.

 

Self-Published Book Critique

So while I'm sitting here trying to block out my roommate and her family (she's moving out today) and the rap music she's blasting, I was thinking a bit about Let's Get Digital. I wanted to look up some self-published books, check out the cover art, and see how successful they are compared to trade published books. I went with YA titles just because I'm more familiar with them and therefore a better judge.

I searched through Goodreads and found this book called Awaken Me by Emily Gossett. It's the first in a series (the rest aren't out yet).

Cover Art: Alright, so it's not bad. It definitely screams 'YA' and 'teenage girl'. It's a decent photoshop job. I liked it until I read the summary and realized the cover doesn't really tell readers anything about the book itself. It's just the typical eyeball you'd see on a DeviantArt creation or Meyer's The Host

Summary: I'm not so sure about this part. The summary provided on Goodreads is extremely wordy and has several grammatical errors. If that's any indicator of how the actual content is edited, then I definitely would not be able to get past the first page. It's only 211 pages, but the summary talks about so many different aspects of the plot that I can only wonder how Gossett managed to include everything – and do it well. There's a fiance, a murder, another guy, supernatural elements, something called 'the Rogues', strangers, a man who owns the narrator Aimee, Greece, deceit, and power. Interesting. I do like how the narrator is 23-years-old. Books about people in their early 20s aren't very common, and I'm not sure why!

Rates: An average of 4.9 stars

Format: It's available (according to Goodreads) in hardcover and ebook.

Reviews: On Goodreads many of the reviews are very positive, so I can only assume that the summary doesn't do the story justice. Even so, I couldn't help but notice that many of the reviewers had multiple grammar mistakes themselves. 

My thoughts: Having not read the book myself it's hard to judge it fully and fairly. With that said, it seems like the author either consulted a professional cover art designer or is really skilled at it herself – both options are something that Gaughran talked about in Let's Get Digital. However, it would appear that Gossett opted not to pay for a professional editing job. It actually seems like she didn't even edit it herself, but based on her website (which I also checked out) she is not exactly the most grammatically inclined person. I won't say that my grammar is perfect because I know it is not – not at all – but hers could definitely use some work. Overall, based on the positive reviews and ratings on Goodreads and the pretty cover, I'd say that Gossett was successful at her self-publishing venture. My only suggestion to her is to get an editor next time.

 

Let’s Get Digital Chaps. 1-10

Ok so even though I am thoroughly enjoying this book by David Gaughran, it's also extrememly daunting and even a little bit scary. I think the author's intention was to encourage self-publishers and give them hope and freedom, but for people like me and employees of big publishing houses…well, his words are actually quite discouraging. 

For what it's worth, I do appreciate some of the things Gaughran talks about in the first couple of chapters because it's safe to say that I've been enlightened. I might have known a little of what's going on here and there, but the extent to which the online world is taking over print publishing is news to me. And bad news at that.

The first chapter outlines some of the problems currently facing the publishing industry, one of them being that they work with just-in-case production. I actually learned a little bit about this in one of my geography classes. It's in contrast to just-in-time production. But if booksellers are having a lot of returns on books because they order too many copies, maybe they should try to get a better system of anticipation down. If the copies start selling, then order more. No need to order a ton before you know how it will sell. 

He also mentioned e-books, a lot. Personally, I'm not a fan. I don't own an e-reader or a tablet. I don't read stories electronically, apart from fanfiction which I no longer read either. I much prefer holding a book in my hands. Kindles and Nooks can break, become outdated, etc., but print books will last a really, really long time. They'll collect dust, but that's okay. However, Gaughran really pushes authors interested in self-publishing to do so via online resources and publish their work as an e-book. He said overall they'd earn more money, have control over the process every step of the way, and have the opportunity of fame/success. He also said that some authors publish certain pieces in print, and others as e-book. They don't just have to remain steadfast to one venue, which I thought was interesting. 

While I was researching Lauren DeStefano after finishing Sever, I discovered that she too has an e-book version of Wither, under the different title of Seeds of Wither, that comes with perks such as extra or deleted content. The rest of her novels are published in print. 

Gaughran says that large publishing houses are afraid of the transition to e-books because they've seen what has happened to the music industry because of the internet. They fear piracy. One technique they've developed of combatting this is later release dates for e-books so that the novels don't get pirated and wrongfully distributed before their release date. This doesn't really make sense to me, because if they were really worried about this, they wouldn't send ARCs (advanced reader copies) out to so many clients. These people could easily scan and upload the books to the internet or share them with their friends before the actual release date. 

I'm not the only one that disagrees with publishing houses on this, because authors such as Neil Gaiman have voiced their opinons as well. To him, as Gaughran says, piracy is just "people lending books" and "free advertising." I totally agree with this. What about libraries?? People take home books to read and bring them back without ever paying for them (unless of course they bring it back late and have to pay the fee…). I know for me, if I read a book I really like from the library, I'll want to go out and purchase my own copy of it to have in my collection. This is the same process with e-books. 

Some other things he talked about were editors, royalties, and agents, all of which opened up my eyes a little. There is still so much I have to learn! One of his chapters, though, is titled "Print is Doomed." Um, no that is not okay! And now you might understand why I'd find this book to be frightening. I love print. A world without print is like some crazy, alternate version of Fahrenheit 451, and that is not cool at all either. 

To be continued…

Book Review: Sever by Lauren Destafano

In conclusion to Lauren Destafano's Chemical Garden trilogy, Sever wraps up the story of Rhine and her family and friends. See my review of the book on Goodreads

** spoiler alert ** I remember falling in love with the first book in this series and wanting more of it right away. I love the premise: an experiment to make the "perfect" human race, people devoid of illness…who doesn't wish for a world without cancer? but then the experiment goes wrong, and now every generation after the first die at age 20 if they're a female and age 25 if they're a male. It's so interesting to me. I love some YA with medical type things infused. 


I won't say that I fell in love with Sever, because that would be a lie. But I did definitely enjoy it. 


In this one we learn all of the secrets, the motives, the backstory, and a small glimpse into the future, as any final book of a series should. We find out some interesting things about Rhine & Rowan's parents that make you question their upbringing. I wasn't expecting to find out that the twins were just an experiment of their parents', not intended to be anything more, but I think it was a good plot twist. 


Another thing that DeStefano did that I liked was how she added another facet to Vaugn's personality. She made him see more human, and him and Rhine were finally able to get along and understand each other on some level. It was a nice to see another side of him other than his monstrous nature. In the end though, he got the fate he deserved. 


I appreciate DeStefano's attempt at a happy ending that isn't too happy. They found a cure, Vsughn is dead, Gabriel is alive, and Cecily will survive. However, she killed off Linden, which is sad and I'm not quite sure why she did that. His death was completely avoidable and definitely came as a shock to me. 


Overall, I really enjoyed this series. I loved the concept and the messages. I would recommend this to anyone who reads YA.

I am happy with the series and how the plot progressed. It's not your typical YA, fluff story, nor is it your typical dystopian read. It was a combination of both that DeStefano executed well. I'd have to say that Wither was my favorite of the three, although all have their perks. The covers are all beautiful as well. 


I would like to say, however, that the author isn't my favorite. This opinion is not based on her writing – because, as I've just mentioned, I love the Chemical Garden trilogy – but on her personality. I started following her on Twitter and her tweets are always complaints and rude comments. Not what I expected from her!

Book to Movie Adaptation Review

The Host by Stephenie Meyer vs. The Host film directed by Andrew Niccol 

 VS. 

So tonight I went and saw The Host directed by Andrew Niccol. I was really looking forward to seeing this movie because I've read Meyer's novel a couple of times and really enjoyed it. Granted, I hadn't read it in a few years so my recollection of it was a little cloudy. Overall though I'd say it was a decent book to movie adaptation and the film itself as a stand-alone was pretty good as well. Sometimes I find that if you didn't read the book, you might be very confused watching the movie. I didn't feel that way with this one though!

 

The beginning of the movie was very, very slow and dare I say boring? It was just a lot of Saoirse Ronan (you may know her from The Lovely Bones, another book to movie adaptationstanding still and staring blankly off into the distance as she talks to the voice inside of her head, aka Melanie. This is how it is in the book as well, but it is much more compelling and interesting to read it than to watch it on the big screen.  Regardless, the movie eventually picked up a little as more characters were introduced and the plot began to thicken. Even though many of the characters lacked development, most of the actors did a great job. Jared (played by Max Irons), Ian (played by Jake Abel), and Jamie (played by Chandler Canterbury) especially did well. They were also pretty cute too. 

 

The one complaint I did have is that there was no final action sequence. No major fight scene. No climax. No excitement at the end. No cliffhanger. Nothing. It was kind of disappointing…. I'm all for happy endings, but this was just way too happy. I don't remember the book well enough to say if there was something in there at the end that the producers left out, but happy endings are typical of Meyer's writing. 

 

All in all, the movie remained fairly true to the book. Alas, the book was better. The book is always better.