Month: October 2014

Prizeworthy : Literary Fiction Awards

Here we are in the middle of literary awards season. The Nobel, the Booker, the Pulitzer, and here in Canada the Giller, the Governor General’s Awards and many more. (Just in time for Christmas.)

Why are there so many of these awards? And why are most of them for so-called “literary” fiction? There are a few awards for genre fiction, such as the Nebula Award for science fiction and the Golden Dagger Award for crime fiction, but they don’t have the profile of the literary prizes.

I think the answer has to do with a fundamental difference between literary fiction and genre fiction. Genre fiction is self-serve. Everyone knows what to expect from a book labelled “mystery” or “romance” or “science fiction,” but literary fiction is random. It can be about anything or nothing. It’s idiosyncratic and nuanced, full of symbols and allusions, and often ends ambiguously. A degree in creative writing may be useful for reading as well as writing it. Lit-fic is popular among book clubs whose discussions use words like Zeitgeist and oeuvre.

However intimidating, literary fiction has the allure (for some) of the Higher Arts. One cannot swim in this rarefied sea unaided. Readers need expert guidance in the pathless country of lit-fic. Newspapers and mainstream magazines such as Time or Maclean’s used to have book sections, but they are becoming scarce.  More and more, the critics’ seal of approval takes the form of the literary award. Once the annual crop of awards is out, those who wish to be known as “well-read” know exactly which books to buy and read (or at least skim). A recent clever development is the announcement of long-lists and shortlists in the run-up to an award, so the benefits of the awards may be spread among more authors (and their publishers).

But what about self-published literary fiction? Most successful indie authors write and publish genre fiction. Is being “literary” the kiss of death to a self-published book? In the world of indie authors, there are no high-profile awards, backed by financial institutions and bestowed by panels of Eminent Writers. No one is telling the reading public, “This is the indie book everyone should read,” condemning to eternal obscurity many an artfully-written work expressing the anomie of a disaffected protagonist in an indifferent world.

 

4 activities to avoid as a newly published indie author

Yes, I’ve done all five of those things. Good to know I’m not alone. And I have every intention to start on my next book, any day now.

Suffolk Scribblings

11.07.15-ast_ft_decision-signs-421913814_582_387 Congratulations, you’ve made it. You’ve uploaded your ebook and cover, entered a sales blurb and selected your product categories. You’ve decided on a price, agreed to the terms & conditions and finally, with no small amount of trepidation, pressed publish. Within a few hours an email arrived to confirm your book is live. You are now a published author. The next thing to do, of course, is let everybody know. So you spend a few hours promoting your launch on your social media of choice, phoning friends and family, sending emails and mentioning it to everybody you meet. This is great. Enjoy the moment. But then what? What should you do next? Well here are five things I recommend you don’t do.

Constantly check your sales stats

While the sensible advice is to write the book you want to read, in reality most of us write books we hope others will read. When you publish your…

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Meet Guest Author Audrey Driscoll

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Audrey Aug 31 2014

I guess I always knew I would end up writing a book. As a child I loved reading books, and realize now that I was interested in how stories were constructed as well as how they turned out. I dimly recall working out scenes and bits of dialogue in my head, before I ever had any intention of writing anything down. I made my friends act out little dramas based on my favourite book at the time – Kipling’s Jungle Book. In high school I wrote my first “novel” – some sort of ancient Egyptian adventure inspired by the novels of Joan Grant, who claimed that they were records of her past lives.

This habit of seizing on works by other people and making them my own was responsible for my “real” novels. As a years-long fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I was curious about his story “Herbert West, Reanimator,”…

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Acceptance and Anxiety: garden blogs vs. writers’ blogs

I’m both a gardener and a writer. My blog posts are split between these two interests, which may not be the best idea for finding a readership, but it means I can usually come up with something to post about.

The blogs I follow are similarly divided, although there are more on writing than gardening. Going through the daily accumulation of posts in my reader, I’ve noticed something interesting. Garden blogs are way more relaxed than writers’ blogs. Even when reporting winter losses or projects that didn’t work out, gardeners display acceptance. They celebrate what is, even while aspiring toward new challenges (getting blue poppies to stay alive and bloom again, for example).

Writers’ blogs, on the other hand, seethe with frantic anxiety, always concerned with the right way to do this and the wrong way to do that. How to get motivated. The right way to start a novel. Ten words you should never use. Why you must hire a professional editor. The best ways to market, make sales and self-promote. Stern admonitions that Writing is a Business. There’s so much at stake for writers! They’re running as hard as they can, looking behind at the competition snapping at their heels. I see so many pleas for honest reviews and for advice on using social media. So many shoals of blue links to books, websites and blogs. Look! Buy! Read! Review!

Just writing that paragraph has made me a bit weary and discouraged. If writing is such a creative joy (and I know it is), it’s sad that bringing the fruits of one’s efforts to the attention of those who might appreciate them should be such a painful struggle. If no one buys your books, you’re a failure.

Gardening can be a struggle too, but usually it’s a physical one — moving yards of soil or compost, chopping roots, spending hours doubled over pulling up weeds, getting dirty, hot and sweaty. The rewards of these efforts, though, are immediate and unequivocal. But there’s another difference, a more subtle one: gardeners live in the hand of Nature, which is eternal. There’s always another year, another plant, another reason to hope.

September 26, 2014

MetalMonth – author feature: Audrey Driscoll

Thanks to The Opening Sentence for featuring the Herbert West Series as part of Metal Month!

The Opening Sentence

As the weekend arrives I thought I’d feature an author whose work might be of interest to readers who listen to hard rock and visitors to Metal Month. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s reanimator, Herbert West, author Audrey Driscoll has created a series of books which reimagine the exploits of West. I’ll let the author explain.

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In 1922, Howard Phillips Lovecraft wrote a series of 6 stories called “Herbert West, Reanimator” for a magazine called Home Brew. Herbert is a medical student and, later, a physician who pursues secret research into corpse reanimation – creating zombies, in other words. Nothing good can come of this, you would think, and you would be right.

I thought Herbert was interesting. HPL described him as slight, blond and bespectacled. My imagination supplied elegant, neat-handed and witty. I wanted to know more about this guy and his friend, the unnamed narrator. Since H.P. Lovecraft was…

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