out of the ashes

Sunday, April 21, 2013

E.L. James

E.L.James' books have sold, what? gazillions? Word of mouth. Media hype. Tons of reviews.

I haven't read any of them. Maybe someday I will, just to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I did read the "Look Inside" feature at Amazonbooks for the first book. I wasn't all that put off. It wasn't Tolstoy, probably not even Sparks, but trust me, I've read WAY worse writing.

She has sold lots of copies of the trilogy. I think that fact sparked many reviews by "Top Ranked" reviewers. I didn't see any of them that were the least kind. That's okay. I didn't write them. But it got me thinking. Some of the reviews at other sites have lambasted James' writing. I can't honestly jump on the bandwagon one way or another. Not until I read them...or at least the first one. I have a sneaking suspicion that lying between the lines of these reviews are the unspoken thoughts of the reviewers, some of whom are probably writers themselves. Banging their heads against the walls trying to figure out how achieve even a tiny bit of her success. Like me.

I see the success of James' books, and honestly, I'm a little jealous. Actually, a lot. If the plot, the narrative, and characters are as bad as some say they are (who am I to argue with the literati?), why aren't my books doing magnificently? I mean, I write better. I think I do at least. Which boils down to: It's easier to get in with the detractors and sling mud. "Yes, it's all so juvenile and crap!" How would I know? Note to self: Buy the first book of the series and read it.

As writers I assume we all read reviews of our books. I do. I wonder what Ms. James thinks/feels like after being punched in the eye so many times with reviews of Fifty Shades? Was she proud of what she'd written like the rest of us are with our efforts? Deep down? Did the reviews maybe bring a tear to her eye--deep down--or did she/does she laugh all the way to the bank?

"Well, it's a shame that there are SO MANY great books to read that have substance..." True. If anything, the success of her books speaks to (A Marketing. (B the tastes of modern readers. My tastes run a little differently than erotica, but it seems as though many, many readers like the stuff.

Honestly (maybe I'm wrong), I must believe she did the best she knew how to do when she wrote those books. Or was she watching TV and it hit her: Sex sells.

She's "Big". I'm not. Congratulations to her for her success.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Die Don't Die

I have a confession to make. I didn't just happen upon this author's first effort (that I'm aware of). A good writing friend recommended it to me.

My first impression when I went to C. Lindsay Newell Young's book page at Amazon was A) she forgot a comma in the title. Smiling there. B) Oh no, another "Tragedy has struck, and here's how I coped with it." I then opened the Look Inside feature and began reading. I was hooked. Chrissie's narrative voice was exceptional. Voice equals hook in this instance. I downloaded a copy intending to read it...oh, maybe next month or this summer when I finish reading all the other books by unknowns that I've promised to read.

A few nights ago I opened it on my iPad while lying under the covers, late. Within a chapter I was totally knocked out. Not only because of the almost self-deprecating stance of the narrator, but by the beautiful images in word that she so effortlessly plucked out of the air. A memoir is still, after all, a story, and all good stories, in my humble opinion, are packed with beautiful and unique images that give the work breadth and depth.

Not only that, but the flashbacks to early life in Southern California, in a household that is to say the least weird (daily enemas were a child's best friend; green soup was a staple) were fall-out-of-my-chair hilarious.

I won't give away the ending, but let me say it left me breathless, kind of the same way I felt after reading The Glass Castle.

There are questions in my mind about this fabulous book: Will it ever get noticed by the big wide world of modern readers? We all want that for our own work, but how loudly can you scream in a sea of screamers? In some small way can my review and my shouting make a difference? Should it, could it stand beside Walls' classic?

I hope it does get noticed. I will continue to shout about it. I think it should.

I don't know this author. Never met her at the various online groups I'm a member of. All I know about her is what she wrote in the ebook. She's a novice, I assume--this being her first effort. That fact alone should have the book littered with mistakes. As memoirs go, it should be soporific. It isn't. It is modern in writing style and incredibly well done.

Some agent somewhere will hopefully stumble upon it, read it, and then contact C. Lindsay Newell Young. I wish this author the best. Her writing deserves it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday, April 7 Next

I haven't written any poetry for a while. But...

You Descend

You descend the marble steps
Like water in a miracle of storms,
Thoughts of deeper currents
On the shores of my imaginings.

The length of you a celestial highway
Swum through like light in disarray
that closely scrutinized
Is the order of a universe yet unseen.

The breadth of you a rushing course,
majestically pure,
delimiting boundaries of pale Carrara,
scythed by the body of you,
the aqua goddess.

Rush upon me, then.

Overtake my bleached shores
Of sun-scorched arrogance.
I am the god who stands naked
Before worshippers murmuring despise.

You are the grace of cool destruction.
The realm of my isolation
Weakens in this instant.
Balustrades of haughtiness fall.

Deserts that I am flee.
Humility kisses false grandeur
And swirls in eddies at my feet,
Washing away the towers of my insolence.

You descend the marble steps,
Like water over dried stones.
Unimagined depths of longing
That find the narrow channel to my heart.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

The Southern Belle and the NY City Cub Reporter

Over at The Writer's Pen one of our premiere authors and editors posted this. I think it's a fantastic tribute to our promising youth, especially young Angely Mercado. She's a talented story teller, college student, and already has a byline! Here's a portion of the post by Laura Avery Brown :)

Some of you might have visited my review site before but I wanted to make sure you all knew that I have a new addition to the 'reviews' I do!  

Friday, April 5, 2013


I figured I'd better delete that last post. No sense pissin' off the entire industry.