Friday, January 02, 2009

Black Dragon Codex by R D Henham

Black Dragon Codex by R D Henham is one of the myriad Dragonlance books and I should admit up front that I have read none of the books in the seemingly endless series of books that bear the Dragonlance logo. So why this one? Because the main character’s name is Satia. She’s a thief and a liar and when the book starts she’s about to become a black dragon’s dinner. Lucky for her, she is saved from that inevitable fate by a lot of coincidences and in the end her skills as a liar and a thief win the day and saves the lives of those who matter. That’s right. This young adult novel actually has, aside from the highly predictable plot and poorly written content, the audacity to have not one redeeming quality. Well, except for the perfect name of the main character. I guess that redeems it. And I like the cover art. That’s nice. Of course, I’ll keep the book because I don’t come along many things bearing my name but really . . . with wonderful young adult fantasy literature out there like Harry Potter and the Dark Matter books, why anyone would waste their child’s time letting them read this book is beyond me. Oh and there’s another wonderful example of crappy editing throughout. How bad is it this time? There is actually a section where whole paragraphs are repeated before picking up where the story left off. Maybe the publishers do that because they think their young readers don’t have the necessary attention span to notice they are reading the same paragraph more than once. I guess I should’ve just taken the book and shoved it on a shelf and enjoyed the fact that it existed without spoiling it by reading it. Oh well. Too late now. Definitely not one I would ever recommend to anyone.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Where's Your Wow? by Robyn Spizman and Rick Frishman

Where’s Your Wow? 16 Ways to Make Your Competitors Wish They Were You! By Robyn Spizman and Rick Frishman is a small book full of inspirational examples from various parts of the business world. With stories from entrepreneurs to authors to business moguls, each chapter is overflowing with the sort of cheerleading enthusiasm one would expect to find judging from the title.

What it doesn’t contain is evidence of a good proofreader. Here are some examples:

Today, Facebook is has the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites with over 34 million active members worldwide. (79)

He and cofounder wife Enid, who shared this dream, grew the ranch by word of month, offering low-calorie gourmet food, more luxury, and a world-class staff of professionals and leading experts in lifestyle medicine. (110)

When something or someone is outstanding, tempts our taste buds, evokes an emotion, or peeks our curiosity, we talk about it. (131)

That last one is my favorite because it should be piques and yet I see so many people write peeks as if our curiosity were peering out at the world trying to find someone who knows how to spell.

I don’t expect any writer to catch every mistake. Hell, I just had someone point out that I’d used it’s instead of its and I know I know the difference between the two but mistakes happen. That’s why publishers hire people to read manuscripts and catch these mistakes before they reach publication.

I honestly don’t know what to think. This book wasn’t as long as most books and still managed to have more than the usual errors. But usual seems to be the exception now and my standards are probably going to start lowering at the rate these poorly proofread books are being published.

It’s a shame. I like Robyn Spizman and I really wanted to like this book. I didn’t hate it. I just can’t help knowing that I’d have liked the book more if it hadn’t come off as something the publishers just threw out to make a buck and hoped the readers would be too careless to care about the quality of the product. And that’s what is so ironic because there are whole sections in the book about how it’s important to produce something that not only shows your personal WOW but makes others say WOW in response.

So for a book that’s all about the WOW, why did the publisher print what is merely a MEH?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Journey from the Center to the Page by Jeff Davis

Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing by Jeff Davis didn’t have me too excited. I thought it was just another of those opportunities to merge two ideas—in this case yoga and writing—into an excuse for publication. After all, get enough writers who also practice yoga and maybe you’d have enough readers to justify the publication. Yes, my expectations were pretty low. So I was pleasantly surprised when I started the book and soon found myself charmed by the lessons that Davis shares. I don’t know why I was surprised. When I think back on the books on writing which have excited me most they have almost always had a spiritual quality infusing the practical. And after the first section, this book becomes very practical as Davis explains how the compassion and discipline of yoga can be reflected in how an author creates characters or revises writing. This is not, however, intensive yogic teaching nor is it a fluffy approach to yoga. When Davis describes in detail why certain asanas can help the writing practice, from approaching the writing with the same attention to your intention as you do your yoga practice, he draws on decades of experience, both as a yogi and as a teacher. He is, after all, a writing coach and leads workshops, so he shares how he has used what he describes in the book not only in his own writing but in helping others and their creativity. This book is a keeper and ranks as high up in my estimation as Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.