Penny Palabras – Episode 05: A Gun in Act One

Penny Palabras 005The charactarisation deepens, the plot twists, and your mind will blow.

James B. Willard and Patrick K. Beavers do not disappoint.

We’ve yet another instalment of Penny Palabras, and this one gives us a deeper glimpse of Penny, a better understanding of her family and past, and then we get a classic comic book plot twist to blow the mind and make this already delightfully surreal read even more so.

We meet Penny’s father, we learn just who the librarian is/was.  And Penny’s already completely bizarre life gets just a bit weirder.

Now, I will say, Penny is given a bit of a dysfunctional family and the tone of this episode is possibly, due to that, a bit darker than most of the books before.  It fits wonderfully with the overall dark tone and look of the series.

So far the story continues to be something recommendable even to those who don’t normally like the dark, paranormal, psych-thriller sort of story.

An observation about publicists

As this is an indie reviews blog, I think it is within my responsibility to point out a trend to my fellow broke, struggling authors out there:  Publicists, probably aren’t worth what you’re paying them.

[horror]Whatever do you mean!?[end horror]

I mean out of all the improper submissions to this review site a good 90% of them are made by publicists.  Publicists tend to do things like give me anything and sundry for the title of the book, except the title of the book.  They submit non-fiction or self-help to this fiction only review blog … the list goes on.  Really, if they can screw up the book submission in some way, they’ve done it.  Authors & publishers?  Some, but not hardly as often nor as badly.

So, just from a reviewer’s stand point, you’re really wasting your time and money on most of the publicists that I’ve come across.

Does  this mean publicists are bad?

NO!  Gods, no.  Just like with publishers and agents, some are brilliant (or at least competent) and others are an utter waste of carbon – they tend to resemble humans in this regard.  The key is in carefully research your publicist, ask questions of them before you hire them, then keep an eye on them.  Ask for progress reports, and otherwise check up on them to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.  Remember:  they’re your employee, but unlike the agents and publishers (unless you took a scam artist one of those) where if you don’t make money, they don’t either, a publicist gets paid no matter what.

It was bound to happen

In the submission guidelines there is listed an email address. Leading up to this address is a careful explanation of the situation in which one is expected to use that address and the manner in which to use it. This circumstance and method are the only uses of this address. Using this address serves no purpose except being a backup method of landing on the backlog at exacly the same expected turn around time.

With this detail is a note. This note is now bolded, italicised, and underlined, in fact. The note explicitly states use of the address in any manner or circumstance save the one described will lead to immediate deletion of the message without opening it.

Naturally one assumes that authors, agents, and publishers would be a literate crowd. It would be rather a serious handicap to their profession if we weren’t.

Sadly, my day job puts me in regular contact with people whose profession ought to require knowing their own arses from holes in the ground who, in fact, could not manage this with illustrated instructions. Thus I suspected (even with the warning, or perhaps especially with it) that someone would, sooner or later, get that far and fire up an email without first engaging their brains.

Today it happened.

To the hapless author of said email. You know who you are even if we do not – as promised the message was unceremoniously discarded – so if you would like to try your message again using the correct submission form we would be glad to hear from you.

The rules are not there to be difficult. Our submission form is not complex and we’re quite loose about it; believe me, some folks could use a lesson in what short & sweet means … Or book description (really, the autobiography with the summary isn’t necessary, we’re reviewers not journalists) and a few books have come across without links and such … still we dutifully post them and dutifully consider them for the next book to read. The rules are there so that things can go quickly. The form keeps the data tidy and eliminates searching or things like the author name or book title when posting to the backlog, quickly finding the book on your site or retailer so we can create the appropriate links, etc. the forms and rules help us help you.

Bypassing them gets you nowhere except possibly mocked. Please don’t think it clever to play those kinds of games. You waste far more of your own time – it takes less than a second to mark a message for deletion.

‘Till the Last Petal Falls

be4056_5c2cdfb6bcf6c44c18738eb5aadf267d.jpg_srz_221_316_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzThe first thing about this novel by Ms Elizabeth Rose is — it’s very pretty.  The cover is quite eye catching, the picture gives you some hit at that, but if you’re holding the book in your hand … well, it’s visually gorgeous.

But I’m not here to review the cover.

This story is a twist on the very old tale, Beauty and the Beast, which is in turn a retelling of an even older tale.

Before I get started, a warning:  the editing could have been better.  Some mistakes that not only wouldn’t have happened with just one more good proofread by someone, but also some sentences that could have stood better attention from the editor.  There’re also some layout and punctuation issues (like I’m one to criticise orthography, given how I type — but these are off the cuff blog posts, not a book that’s gone through editorial review).  Mostly, though, it’s not very detracting and is quite ignorable, but for the pedants out there, beware.  Inconsistent use of either a double dash or an em-dash, a missing paragraph break here or there, and so forth.

Now, on to the main course here.

This story was not my personal cup of tea.  I’m a fan of fairytales.  I love a fractured fairytale as much as the next guy, in the old Sherman & Mr Peabody cartoons from Rocky & Bullwinkle or in the form of things such as The Unhandsome Prince.  This wasn’t a broken fairytale — it didn’t say there was no happily ever after, or anything of the sort, more like a twisted, dark fairytale and the ending leaves you to decide if it was happy or not.  But, and this is important, I read it; I finished it, and I genuinely looked forward to turning the page — the author did a fine job.

Honestly, if you’re a fan of the new trend to twist fairytales, buy this book.  If not, you might want to pass this one up.

As an author it’s often difficult to read anything and not go:  “oh, she should have done thus”; or to say, “I would have had …”.  It is, really.  Still, all told, the narrative worked, the voice and tone of it carried through.  The character that act out of character are called on it within the context of the story.  My only real beef was I felt the ending wasn’t a very firm one — it left open a lot of why and what if and what next and so on.  Now, it’s not a weak ending, nor a “oh, I should stop the story now” ending like some authors (especially those writing to contract are guilty of due to word count limits), no.  It’s a fine ending, just — once again, not my cuppa.  I’m more a “wrap it all up; if you don’t, make sure you plan to come back to the world and characters sometime” sort of person.

I’m giving this one an awesome.  The writing is good.  I looked into Mockingbird Lane Press and they provide an editor, so layout and editing glitches aren’t the author’s fault, and besides that — only two or three made a sentence incomprehensible, the rest the right or missing word was obvious.  The story was both recognisable — even some cute hints at Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which I thought was cute — and unique; all too often these attempts are retelling the story are a copy and paste of the original work with a few things edited, or the setting updated.  This, on the other hand, pure original story with the old tale as a template, very nice.

Speaking with the author, the ebook version isn’t out yet but is coming.  She’s aware of the layout and typos issues (was before I commented on them, many kudos points for that — no book makes it to the shelf perfect, but as small press or self-pub authors we can do far more about it!) and is trying to straighten them out before releasing the ebook.

For those fond of dead trees, you can get a link to various places to buy from this page here. (or, as always, by clicking the book cover)

Where did we go?!

Sorry for the disappearance and the less than perfect reviews of just book series instead of books.  Been a pretty hectic few months.

I’m reading ‘Til the Last Petal Falls right now.  About halfway through, so that post shouldn’t be much longer, few days if I can get more than a few minutes at a time to read and then type.

To tide things over until then I’m going to rank a lovely story I’m rather fond of.