Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Writing Frustrations and Reviews of My Novel, Bringing Abundance Back

I submitted my novel, for the fee of $50.00 (money wasted) to an "organization" that reviews books and gives them a stamp of approval.  I will not name it, for fear of retaliation.  They rejected it; I share the two reviews that were the basis of the rejection.
The comments were largely about punctuation, the title, the cover, and indenting paragraphs.  I teach punctuation for a living, so I find that people are usually wrong when they comment on punctuation.  But I do need to see if these proofreading errors are right.  I had several people read it, one with a doctorate and others with master's, in English, but I know errors get through.  

 I understand why writers get frustrated with pink slips and rejections.  There are countless tales of how great writers with classic books were rejected multiple times.  You can't expect everyone to like your work, and in today's social media environment, everyone is a critic. 

On the other hand, I can't give my books away, much less sell them, yet I have this compulsion, dare I say a calling, to keep writing.   Artists deal with persons note understanding what is really going on in a piece of art work.  These reviewers did.

I also decided to try to use Amazon's advertising services for $1.00 a day for a month.  It is making my work more visible (or so they tell me) but hasn't sold a book.  So as of June 7 I give up on spending money to market my writing.  I think maybe I've broken even, but as a friend says, this writing gig is an expensive hobby.

The Reviews:
I liked the story – it has a ring of authenticity. And I liked the characters – all well-drawn. The formatting is what lets it down. Double spaces between sentences; hard returns within paragraphs; -- rather than –; occasional misplaced quote or dialogue marks; one chapter break missed ( ...I should have told you a long time ago...” Being told to get the recipes down...) Some small proofing errors.  In a few places I had to read sentences several times in order to grasp the meaning. I’m still not sure about – She remembered reading “A Rose for Emily” in a college English class and having a nightmare in which she opened grandpa’s room and found A Christmas Carol, looked like the home place, what Zadie called it because of its age and its provenance. The festival just plain got started too Friday or Saturday night. (this is valid.  I looked up my manuscript.  I think something got deleted in translation. Need to fix.)
Enjoyed the book. Reminded me of being a child and visiting my granny in small town Oklahoma. It took awhile to get into the book but one I did I wanted to finish it.
Any criticisms I have regarding this book are based solely on my own feelings about this type of story. I thought it was well written, and had a good plot and characters. I know a lot of readers that would really enjoy this book.
Title: I don't think the title reflects the story in that the narrative doesn't include how the biscuit festival "brought Abundance back." Plot: I'm not sure of the story's plot. Virginia makes a pitch to the city council for an annual biscuit festival. They approve it. She orchestrates it. There is no plot per se. But there is back story that includes somewhat of a plot in that Virginia discovers that her mother didn't really disappear when she was a child, but died in a car accident, and the woman (of a different race) who helped raise her was really her aunt. Copy editing: Missing commas in compound sentences. Commas where they don't belong. Many instances of 'telling' rather than 'showing.' Extraneous words in sentences. Internal thoughts shouldn't be in quotes. Missing quotation marks. Hyphens missing in hyphenated words (please.  Hyphens are going out of style). Content editing: Approximately half the book was in present time, and the other half in back story. The half that was in present time--Virginia organizing the biscuit festival--was nothing more than a chronology of the steps required to organize such an event and didn't include requisite elements of a novel. In my opinion, the back story about Virginia's family heritage was far more interesting and should have been the main story line. Formatting: It's not typical to add a blank line in between paragraphs when the paragraphs are first-line indented. Several premature line endings.


Obviously, I have strong feelings about these.  The statement that there is no plot overlooks all the obstacles and ups and downs that the festival takes, some of them funny, and how she responds to them. But it is woven into the other plot about her family, tightly, so I am not sure what that person means. 

I think the problem is that I put it in the category of literary fiction and should have put it in a different category and would have gotten different readers.  I don't know who these readers are, anyway.  My readers all were educated with credentials.  

This is the last time I pay money to enter anything or get a critique.   

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