The Quarterly Review(s) – Winter 2016

If you asked me ten minutes ago how the past three months had gone, you probably would have gotten a ragged sigh and a request for more coffee before I said anything more. But, let’s look at the numbers.

  • Writing: I’ve written 35,000+ words since January 1. It should be more. I’m angry at myself that it’s not. But THINK ABOUT THAT. I’ve written 35k words. That’s really not that shabby. And that includes a 7k day, a 5k day, and four 2k days. Really. I shouldn’t complain.
  • Editing: My freelance job-in-progress has been great. More than 130,000 words edited for this outdoor memoir and it returns from the copyeditor on Monday. Also, I’m this month’s voice of @EFAFreelancers on Twitter. Come chat about problem projects tomorrow at 3pm EST via #EFAChat.
  • Reading: Eight books read (more on that in a minute) and a whole list to enjoy.

In fact, all this reading has been so refreshing and rewarding that I’m really going to boost my book-chatter a bunch. Plus, I think it will help me as a writer and editor to really hone in on what I’m getting from each book, and since I have this blog, I might as well tell you.

And here’s my format:

  • Intro: 50 words (or less!); no spoilers
  • Writing Brain: ?/5 stars; what craft points really shine (or don’t) and what other writers can learn from the read.
  • Editing Brain: ?/5 stars; lessons to be learned for an editor from the book, including things that can be applied across genres, things that made my editor brain shudder, etc.
  • Reader Brain: ?/5 stars; my gut and visceral two-cents
  • Et Cetera: Other things, if it’s worth including them.

My goal will be to keep everything under 500 words. If I really need to expand something because I think it’s worth it, I’ll write a separate post.

So here’s a freebee because I want to give it a shot:

Heirloom by Eleanora Brownleigh
(Historical Romance; Zebra, 1983)

1.3/5 Stars

Interior decorator Thea heads to Mexico to spy for President T. Roosevelt. She can handle herself just fine, but society expects that she’ll need a man. Will her hero be her sham of a husband? A brooding military beau? What is she really getting into?

Writer Brain: 1/5 stars. So this is what too much exposition does to a story! I keep looking for the dialogue, and when I found it I was unimpressed. There was no tension beneath the paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of exposition. Take-away:

Editor Brain: 1/5 stars. Oh the back and forth! The story is told from two perspectives, which I had no idea to expect until I got to the second one. And Thea’s story had just started to get interesting! Nowadays, I’d expect those stories to be woven together chapter by chapter, rather than getting part 1, jumping back five or ten years for part 2, and then coming back to mix the perspectives for the rest of the book. It was like starting all over again from the beginning. Take-away: chronology can be the difference between someone continuing to read your book and putting it down because you give them a very convenient out.

Reader Brain: 2/5 stars. I mean: I finished it. All 687 pages. If you like dress porn (read: lengthy descriptions of fashionable dress) or similar effusive detail about high-end interior design, then this might be your romance novel. But I just wasn’t thrilled with the romance itself, and the other two parts of my brain were screaming in pain the whole time, so it was–at best–a 2/5. Take-away: my reader brain really might be the sum of my writer brain and my editor brain if you don’t give me anything else to enjoy. Take-away: I’m just not likely to recommend it to you.

Et cetera: I found this on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books; I’m sad that I didn’t like it as much as its devoted fans seem to. Also, I really love the author’s name.

And that’s a wrap. Expect more reviews as I finish writing them (seven more in the queue already!) and a look back at how things are going every few months or so!