Social Lives a Last Minute Gift

Published by Wendy Walker
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 at 3:53 pm under Uncategorized

Yeah. Social Lives was just listed as a last minute gift on the Recessionista!

Hope everyone has a great holiday.

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New Review

Published by Wendy Walker
Friday, November 20th, 2009 at 3:57 pm under Uncategorized

If you are interested in a review of Social Lives, I think this one is awesome. But that’s just me :)

Working Girl Reviews

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Disturbing Things I’m Learning from My Book Tour

Published by Wendy Walker
Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 4:21 pm under Uncategorized

My new novel, Social Lives, covers a variety of issues affecting super-affluent communities. I’ve written about them in my blog and elsewhere, but I have to report some disturbing new information I’ve been learning from my book tour on the issue of teenage sexuality. As a writer, this has been fascinating. But as a mother, it is nothing short of horrific. I am issuing a warning before I share these things – there is no way to avoid being a bit graphic. Just last night, I scared off a couple at a nearby table when I was telling a friend over dinner. Oops. Whatever. Get over it. This is the reality our children are facing and we have to start looking it square in the face.

So here goes. I’m going to write about blow jobs and anal sex.

From the group discussions I have been having about Social Lives and the issues that impact its characters, the following picture of teenage life has emerged. It seems that teenage girls believe the following: To have power in life, they must have power over men. To have power over men, they must have power of their penises. To have power over their penises, they can perform blow jobs. And if that doesn’t work, they can avoid the messy issues of virginity and condoms by having anal sex. Some girls are even going so far as to accept money for sex acts because this makes them feel even more “powerful.” (Read on about the book Toxic Wealth where this was reported.)

This mentality has led to some pretty deviant behavior. Take rainbow parties. Imagine your daughter invites some friends over to”hang out” in your finished basement. You leave them be, assuming they’re watching MTV or YouTube videos and gossiping about school. Now imagine coming downstairs to see if they want cookies and finding them boy-girl-boy-girl in a circle, with each girl bent over to the right, sucking on the penis of the boy next to her. Their backs are arched like “rainbows.” Isn’t that cute?

The reality seems to be that blow jobs are as common as making out used to be for old timers like me. Girls see nothing wrong with it, and boys – who are constantly let off the hook with the “boys will be boys” philosophy – are happy recipients. Add to this the fact that most of us parents hold knowledge about STD’s that is twenty years outdated, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Oral sex is rarely performed with a condom. Most STD’s can be spread orally – HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, herpes and HPV to name a few. HPV, in turn, is now proving to be a precursor to throat and lung cancer the same way it is to cervical cancer. Think about that. Girls are handing out blow jobs like candy at Halloween, exposing themselves to incurable diseases that could lead to things like lung cancer! 

Ugh. It makes me crazy to think this is all going on and so few parents are aware of it. Or worse, they don’t see the harm and are relieved their daughters are remaining “virgins.” What good will her prolonged “virginity” do if she gets anal HPV and dies of anal cancer in her late forties? Suddenly, the picture isn’t quite so nice.

At every book reading or book club meeting, there is someone who tells me something I hadn’t heard before. One woman I met, a local psychologist named Orla Cashman, co-wrote a book called Toxic Wealth that delves into many of the social dynamics that are perpetuating these problems. It was very enlightening.

And maybe what disturbs me the most is this. How is it possible that young women in this day and age  are connecting their vision of power in this world with wrapping their mouths around a penis? These are the wealthiest girls in the world. The most educated and well-positioned. They are smart, but can’t seem to figure out that if they marry a man who is rendered vulnerable by a blow job, they are going to be in a boatload of trouble when – years down the road – some young intern moves into the cubicle outside his office. Every time a mother tells me how teenagers think today, I find myself thinking really

When I wrote Caitlin Barlow’s character in Social Lives, I had no idea that I was only at the tip of the ice burg. In fact, I often thought about toning down the brutality of the culture she finds herself in. I’m glad I didn’t. 

I hope parents will keep talking about this issue because it is not going away. And if my novel helped spark a few of these discussions among glasses of wine at Tuesday night book group, then I am deeply gratified. 

To learn more about these issues, please visit Planned Parenthood.org.

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Fellow “Power Mom” Diane Helbig

Published by Wendy Walker
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 at 11:15 pm under Uncategorized

Okay, here is a shameless plug for one of my very talented Power Moms Contributors!

Diane Helbig is very knowledgeable and she has now put her secrets into an awesome book about building a small business. Having just spoken to a large group of women entrepreneurs about these topics, I am posting it here with hope that it reaches other women struggling to find their way in this tough economy.

 bookcover3d-web

Here is her press release!

“This economy is taking a toll on small business owners across the country. Yet amazingly, the number of new business start-ups and franchise ownership remains strong. With limited job options and an unprecedented string of downsizings and layoffs, displaced workers are choosing self-employment in an effort to take charge of their career. With nowhere else to turn, small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs simply cannot afford to fail.

In a new book by certified professional business and leadership development coach Diane Helbig, small business owners learn how to effectively sell their product or service to ensure they will succeed in any economy. In her book, Lemonade Stand Simple: Accelerate Your Small Business Growth, Helbig teaches small business owners, franchisees or anyone considering starting up a business how to avoid the pitfalls so many business owners make.

“People pour their heart, soul and life savings into their business. Then they struggle, or fail, because they simply do not understand the sales process. They don’t sell effectively, and therefore don’t succeed. It’s really hard to watch and completely unnecessary,” says Helbig, whose career experience includes successfully educating and guiding individuals and teams to excel by applying one’s strengths to create a personal sales style.

Fear is the worst enemy as a business owner. Fear plays with your head, it chips away at your confidence and paralyzes you with self-doubt, states Anita Campbell in the Foreword to Lemonade Stand Simple.

“To be successful, you have to overcome fear and all the baggage it saddles you with. This is the kind of book I wish I’d had early on when I started my business. Because it’s really about overcoming fear,” said Campbell, editor of Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them.

A good number of small business owners have a misconception about what sales is and are mystified by the varied aspects of sales—networking, marketing and what you do in front of a client.

They either have it wrong or are terrified of the whole idea of selling or marketing their product or service. Sales isn’t hard or scary, and you don’t have to do it somebody else’s way, Helbig says.

Think back to your own lemonade stand days and the simple pleasure of selling refreshing drinks to family, friends and neighbors. You were certain of your product and you knew your client base, Helbig reminds us. You didn’t get bogged down in the process, and you weren’t afraid to be yourself. You knew what you were selling and who you wanted to do business with.

“The message in the book is that simple,” Helbig explains. “Lemonade Stand Simple provides the clarity that business owners need to be more successful without trying so hard. It breaks down common scenarios, step by step, into techniques just about anyone can employ.

Lemonade Stand Simple resonates with business and sales professionals as well, who praise Helbig for her straightforward, back-to-basics method to selling.

“Diane provides the reader with a no nonsense approach to the sales process that is based in common sense. This book is essential for every small business owner who has to sell and provides a workable sales plan that gets results simply by reading these pages,” said nationally-read author Hal Becker, one of the top sales speakers and consultants in the country.

The book works because Helbig understands those salespeople and small business owners who think they need to fit their sales strategy into a methodology that is not authentic. She’s here to remind us that we’ve all known how to sell since we were about five years old. It’s simple—lemonade stand simple.” 

About the Author

Diane Helbig is the founder of Seize This Day Coaching, a professional development coaching firm that helps businesses and organizations operate more constructively and profitably. She is widely published in the online sales community, with an article featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms: 101 Stories Celebrating the Power of Choice for Stay at Home and Work from Home Moms.

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Speaking at Women TIES

Published by Wendy Walker
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 2:51 pm under Uncategorized

In just over a week on October 15th, I will be addressing 200 women at the Women TIES retreat in Skaneateles, NY. Women TIES. I have to admit right here and now that I am more than a little daunted at the thought of giving advice to so many women forging new careers! In fact, when the founder of Women TIES, Tracy Higginbotham, asked me to speak, I was not entirely sure what I could offer. My career as a writer and editor still feels new, and if the winding road it’s taken thus far is any indication, I hardly have a road map for its future. Probably not the best advertisement for those of you who are considering attending. But that is the truth, and staying as close to the truth as possible is one of the guiding forces in my career and life.

Soon after I accepted this incredible responsibility, Tracy asked me to send her my thoughts on what I would talk about. I sat in my makeshift study after dropping my kids at school and stared at a blank screen. Not an unusual occurrence for a writer, but still… at the time, I was awaiting the publication of my second novel, Social Lives, and putting together my next two Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I had just been in a little skirmish over the novel’s cover and was feeling as though all power over my career and my work had been lost. It appeared there was a great divide between how I saw my work and how my publisher wanted to present it to the world, and this left me consumed with doubt over my judgment, my perspective, and the body of knowledge I thought I had accumulated over the past several years from authors, editors and agents.

So what could I possibly say to other women facing the vast open territory of their own entrepreneurial ventures? Be afraid because this is the unknown? Listen to everyone but yourself because you’ve never done this before? Ignore your instincts because you might be wrong? As well as that surely would have gone over with women who had made time and traveled to the retreat, I was suddenly struck with another approach.

As I began to think about this winding road I’ve been on, the greatest obstacle by far can be summed up in two words: overcoming doubt. When I quit my job as a lawyer to take care of my first baby, it was there. Doubt. Something in my life was not complete but I knew I wanted to be home to raise my kids. When I decided to start writing with the distant dream of becoming an author, there it was again. Doubt. How could I become a writer with no formal training? How could I even think I would get published one day when everyone told me it was close to impossible? When I spent two years collecting rejection letters from agents, and then editors, it was there. Doubt. I had spent every precious free second away from my kids chasing this dream. Was it all for nothing? Had I wasted this time?

More years and a second novel later, I got a publishing deal. But that was not the end of this road. From jacket covers to PR to book events, there were decisions to make and doubt followed me through each of them. Good reviews, bad reviews, packed book stores, empty rooms ….  conflicting advice from authors, agents, editors and friends. Another novel to write, each page a chance to be brilliant. Or not. Filling blank pages, wondering if anyone would get the things I placed upon them…

I was not an overnight success. Every inch of progress has been fought for with thought and hard work and sometimes luck. It has been two steps forward, one step back – and other times one step forward and two steps back. I have not accomplished all that I dreamed of ten years ago, and I often have trouble thinking of myself as successful as a result. Still, when I stop and think about it, what I do have is not so bad –  two published novels, a film deal in the works, a new novel that’s incredibly fun to write, and a great editing gig with Chicken Soup for the Soul. Every day I get to do what I love – write, edit, connect with other authors and people from all walks of life. I get to think and create, and structure my day in a way that allows me to be there for my kids whenever and wherever they need me. Maybe this is success in and of itself.

So what will you learn by coming to Skaneateles, NY next week? When I think back on the journey that got me to this place, the little twists and turns in the road, I can remember with great clarity the doubt that existed and the methods I used to overcome it. I can recall every mistake I made from inexperience or misplaced trust, and what I learned from having made it. And I have gleaned some insights on how to balance rational caution and irrational fear when facing life as an entrepreneur.

Regardless of the field of work you have chosen, there exist some basic hurdles that we all have to face and it is my hope that hearing my story will help you do just that. See you in Skaneateles!

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Twilight Producer Packaging Film Deal for Social Lives!

Published by Wendy Walker
Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 6:34 pm under Uncategorized

This is not at all how I envisioned things would go down if (big IF) I ever got a film deal together. I was sitting in the hallway of a Holiday Express in my pajamas. My three boys, who were wired from sundaes at Friendly’s, were torturing my 24-year-old brother inside the room by wrestling on the bed. Every now and again a loud thump was heard as one of them got tossed to the ground. Then came the shrieks of fear as retaliation ensued. My brother, who serves as my “manny” and is more of a big brother to my kids, could be heard yelling, begging, pleading and bribing. “Guys! Your mom has an important call! Maybe the most important call of her life!” And because young children have such a finely tuned sense of consideration for others, this worked like a charm.

Not. More screaming, then laughter. Thuds. A woman from the room across the hall popped out and gave me an evil stare which was met with the wave of my hand and a desperate, frantic look.

Meanwhile, the scrappy little device pressed to my ear (that a few years back passed as a cell phone) was on low battery, and was so kindly reminding me of this with a very loud beep every thirty seconds. Having soaked the battery several times in snow, rain and the kitchen sink, it was holding up admirably and I had no one but myself to blame for not embracing technology and getting a proper BlackBerry. In my defense, I wasn’t expecting such an important call.

And this call was important. Probably one of the most important calls of my career. It was a conference with my manager John Lavitt, and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill Entertainment – THE PRODUCER OF TWILIGHT.

In my wildest dreams of the distant past, such a discussion about making one of my novels into a movie with the hottest Hollywood producing team  (professionally speaking of course) would be done in a posh LA office. I would be wearing a sharp business suit, heels I could just barely walk in, hair blown dry for once, and a small entourage of loyal representatives. Surely if there was movie interest in one of my books, I would be a big time author in need of such things.

But I am not. I am a relatively new author working day in and day out to build a following and progress as a writer. And so, there I was, in that hallway in my pajamas, phone dying, chaos mounting, discussing the movie deal for Social Lives with Wyck and John. In spite of my surroundings, I remember the conversation well and I have carried it with me through every bump in the road my novel and I have encountered.

Social Lives is, at its core, a book about the extraordinary circumstances that can lead a person to do unspeakable things. It’s about social structures that suck people in, define them, and spit them out changed and sometimes damaged. It is a study of social culture and human nature and how sexuality still plays a leading role in the lives of women, from the early teen years through adulthood. My manager, John, has always gotten this about the book. But as any writer can tell you, having someone outside of your camp confirm that you have indeed done your job well, is the ultimate reward. So, when Wyck Godfrey told me that he loved my novel, that he thought it would make a fantastic dramatic film and provide solid emotional roles for women actors, I was blown away.

My cell phone and I both survived that call. My children managed not to hurt each other and my brother – well he’s young. He’ll bounce back. Wyck, his partner Marty Bowen, and their company are working to put the pieces together even as they are producing the Twilight sequels at breakneck speed. Of course, I haven’t told them yet that half the Walker clan plan to be extras in the big party scene and that my sister Jenn will not rest until she meets Robert Pattinson. But I suppose that can wait until the next call!

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Social Lives Issue #2: Hooking Up

Published by Wendy Walker
Saturday, August 29th, 2009 at 4:27 pm under Uncategorized

In my last blog, I wrote about the “recession lit” angle of my new novel, Social Lives, which is coming out Tuesday. The issue of what a woman does when she has spent her prime years working for her family, only to have her husband leave them in ruin, is fascinating and drives the suspense of the book. But a second issue underpinning the story involves 14 year-old Caitlin Barlow and her new friends, who engage is the epidemic of their generation – the “Friends with Benefits” or “Hooking Up” phenomenon.

Here is how that works. A group of friends hang out – at school, after school, at parties. Boys and girls all within a circle of friends. Randomly and without any intention or promise of emotional intimacy, they hook up, which mostly involves the girls performing sexual favors for the boys. I have heard professionals discuss this issue with great concern, as it appears this generation is losing the ability to form meaningful emotional relationships that become the foundation for physical intimacy. Instead, the physical intimacy is completely detached and given no greater significance than, say, having a conversation or going to a movie. 

For those of you as ancient as I, remember those teen years? Remember being at a party and secretly liking a guy who was there? If he talked to you, or kissed you, there was an expectation of dating and a hope of a relationship. If he went in a corner and made out with your best friend, you went home with a bruised or broken heart, regrouped and started over. And if things got far enough for clothes to start hitting the floor, there was always the possibility of a one-night stand, but also the hope of something more.

None of that seems to exist anymore. From teen years into early twenties, men and women hook up without expectation, but with an on-going, caring friendship. If they are in need of some physical attention, they start texting around to see who’s free. The “friends with benefits” of the teen years become the “fuck buddies” of the twenties. And no one seems to know how to navigate away from this when feelings develop beyond casual sexual desire.

So what’s wrong with this? Is this just a natural progression of the social networking that younger generations have grown up with? Is Twittering and Facebooking creating a different social culture in which hooking up is the natural extension? And is this all healthy, in spite of how foreign it may seem to me and my generation? I actually have a strong opinion about this. NO!

First and foremost, let’s go back to the fact that most of the teenage hooking up is girls performing sex acts on boys. The unreciprocated blow job. It shocked me to learn that one of the most prevalent STD’s among teenage girls is now gonorrhea of the throat. Yes, that’s right. Of the throat. From a feminist perspective, and as the mother of three boys, I find this to be a glaring hole in any argument made which suggests this is healthy. Moral issues aside, boys are getting sex and girls are giving sex. That inequity alone is enough of a red flag that something is not right here.

But now let’s talk about morality, and the social consequences of this behavior. To assume that sex and emotional intimacy can be so completely extricated is absurd. Yes, there is sex for sex. And yes, there are happy one-night stands and prostitution and on and on. But we are not talking about that. We are talking about friends who know each other, see each other, respect each other. To pretend that a young girl walks away from a hallway blow job feeling nothing for the boy, either disgust or longing, is to belie the very existence of our humanity. I don’t care what anyone says or writes. In that room of teenagers, every boy secretly wants the attention of one girl more than the others, and every girl secretly wants to catch the eye of one boy over the others. Whether they admit it or not, act on it or not, this is the reality of attraction. So when that girl goes into a bedroom with a different guy, or vice versa, there are feelings of disappointment and jealousy and hurt. And, OMG – there they are! Real emotions. So why is such effort being made to deny them?

Caitlin Barlow is wealthy and privileged and beautiful. Yet, until now, she has not been popular. Suddenly, she is offered a place among the elite at her school and she takes it, even though it means participating in activities that make her profoundly uncomfortable. She does a sexual favor for one of the boys in their circle, and she finds herself obsessed with him. His hands on her body, his mouth on her mouth – all of these feelings are woven into what she believes to be love. And yet, at every turn, she must endure his casual indifference to her and his availability to receive favors from other girls. It tortures her, and making him see her, and feel for her what she feels for him, becomes her life’s only purpose. And drives her to the brink of disaster.

For Caitlin, and indeed for all of us, to feel the heat of passion and see the longing in the eyes of a lover – and then to have it disappear within seconds – is dehumanizing. If that kind of intensity isn’t real, then nothing can be. And without a sense of reality in the world, we are left with a sense of chaos.

Cailtin’s journey through this experience is disturbing and moving, and at its core, deeply human. I hope readers will relate to her and find her story compelling and thought provoking.

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The New York Times and Social Lives!

Published by Wendy Walker
Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 3:15 pm under Uncategorized

The New York Times just published an article on the trend of women writers to integrate the recent economic downturn into their plots. I was thrilled to be one of the writers discussed in that article NYT/Social Lives, and it occurred to me that my readers might enjoy some thoughts on this and the other social issues that are shaking up my characters’ lives in my new novel, Social Lives.

So here we go. First, check out my new video trailer for the book. It says a lot about the topic.

I started writing Social Lives almost two years ago, well before anyone could even foresee what might transpire from the multi-layered mortgage derivatives that had proliferated within Wall Street hedge funds. Having just covered the issue of women “opting out” of paying careers in my first book, Four Wives, I wanted to find a new angle to explore. The characters in Four Wives are each facing a personal, internal crisis resulting from the choice they have made to be suburban housewives. It seemed appropriate to see what might happen when the consequences of that choice became more tangible and urgent.

I have written on numerous occasions about the bizarre social structure that I am a product of and that still surrounds me out here in the wealthy burbs. (See my article Opt Out Universe). It may seem controversial to say this, but as long as there is a free market economy and outrageously high paying jobs a mere train ride away, nothing is going to change. Those jobs are 24/7 and anyone who thinks they can be wrestled into becoming “family friendly” needs to take a basic economics class. There will always be someone willing to work longer and harder. Smart only gets you so far. What that leaves is a complete void on the home front, which is filled by wives who care for children, husbands and houses. There are some exceptions of course – the two income households, the Wall Street woman and Mr. Mom – but they are rare.

So what becomes of a woman who has spent seventeen years as the wife of a Wall Street banker who is about to lose everything? This is a woman who is highly skilled. She can manage a staff. She can decorate with impeccable taste. She can host a party like a professional. And she is mother, doctor, shrink and social worker to her numerous children – the next elite generation. She has worked hard, studied her surroundings and was and is invaluable to the success of her husband. And yet, after all those years, she has no marketable skills – no value in the world unless she is attached to a man as his wife.

Enter Jacqueline Halstead. After discovering that her husband is being investigated for a Bernie Madoff type scheme in his hedge fund, she begins to realize the extent of ruin her life, and the lives of her children, sister, and sister’s children, will be in if her suspicions are right. Lacking any formal education or career experience, Jacks has nothing to fall back on except the thing she knows best. Being someone’s wife.

What happens to Jacks in Social Lives, and how she comes to see the life she’s created, are fiction. But a quick perusal of today’s headlines underscores the very real consequences for women whose husbands fail to live up to their end of the implicit bargain. Without any legal recourse, these women, and their children, are not only left with little money, they are left without the resources that working women acquire throughout these vital years.

What is strange for me is that I am not a diehard advocate of women choosing work over raising children. Being a stay home mom was my life for over a decade, and even though I have a law degree to fall back on, the salary I could earn in this economy and after not practicing for so many years would hardly pay for the childcare I would need to cover my absence from the home.

So where does this leave us? What do all of these books, including Social Lives, say about our culture? Are they advocates for change? Condemnations of how we value the work women do in the home? Or simply entertaining exposes on the plight of the wealthy, who – by many accounts – created this situation to begin with? Hmmm.

For me, it’s really none of the above. I don’t believe we can truly alter the division of labor in the wealthy suburbs. Nor do I see gender roles changing that much either. Instead, I wrote Jacks’ story in Social Lives because it posed a fascinating dilemma for a compelling character, and by following Jacks through her journey, maybe we can all learn more about ourselves – and the people we find ourselves wondering about in the world.

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Book Blogger Interview With This That and the Other Thing

Published by Wendy Walker
Saturday, August 1st, 2009 at 5:17 pm under Uncategorized

RAnn writes a book blog for This That and the Other Thing at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com/

Here is my interview with RAnn!

Q: How did you become a book review blogger?

A:  I’ve been blogging since 2005, but always had trouble thinking of topics about which to write.  I started discovering book blogs and eventually I decided I could do that too.  I started just reviewing library books or books I acquired through Bookmooch.  Then, in 2008 I surfed onto a blog that was part of the FIRST alliance, a group of bloggers who review Christian literature.  That was my introduction to the concept of books in return for blog posts.  As a part of that group, I started reading book blogs more regularly and discovering more sources for review books.

Q: How do you decide what books to review?

A:  Basically, I review everything I read.  I’ve joined several blog tour groups, several publicists have me on their mailing lists, and I even go to the bookstore periodically.  I  keep my Bookmooch account active.  I also review for Thomas Nelson, The Catholic Company and Tiber River.  As books are offered for review, if the summary or teaser sent out appeals to me, I order the book.  Once I establish a relationship with a publicist, I keep an eye on his/her website to see if there is anything there I’d like to read, and if so, I volunteer my services.   That’s how I discovered your books, Four Wives and Power Moms. 

Q: What is the demographic of your readership, and do you choose books that are marketed towards them?

A:  Judging by my followers, I’d say mostly  women.  Quite a few are Catholic; others tend to be Christian of one sort or another.  I don’t really choose books marketed toward my audience; rather, I think I attract a certain audience because of the books I choose. 

Q: Do you ever do reviews to intentionally expose your readers to books they might not otherwise pick up on their own?

A:  No.

Q: How much does cover design and title influence your decision about doing a review?

A:  An interesting cover design or title may influence me to pick up a book at the bookstore or library.  However, at this time, much of my reading material comes from publicists or blog tour groups, and the cover is not part of the message sent to me asking if I want to review the book.  The title may pique my interest, but mainly what I read is the blurb from the publicist asking if I want to review a book. 

Q: When reading a book for a review, do you read as you would strictly for your own pleasure or are you keeping an eye out for certain components?

A:  My goal in writing a review is to give my readers a summary of the book and to let them know if they are likely to like it.  Given that goal, I’d say that I read review books as I do any other pleasure reading (because book blogging is a hobby, not a job). 

Q: What is more important to you, quality of writing or the actual story?

A:  In general, as far as quality of writing, I put books in three categories:  awful, average and extraordinary.  The overwhelming majority of books put out by traditional publishing houses are in the “average” category; which to me means I don’t notice the writing quality.  I base my opinion about whether I like the book on the actual story.  The writing in a very small number of books is extraordinary.  There is something about the way the author uses words that just hits me somehow.  When that happens, you can be sure it will be mentioned in my review.  So far, when the writing has appealed to me, the book has; though in one case, because of the way the story ended, I moved a book from the five star category to three stars.  As far as awful writing, think self-published.  While I’ve read a few well-written self-published books, generally speaking, it doesn’t take long to figure out why mainstream publishers didn’t pick up these books. 

Q: Do you compare your reviews of a given book to those of your peers? If so, do you find your views are generally similar or dissimilar?

A:  When I participate in a blog tour, I generally try to read some of the postings about the book.  In general, I’d say book bloggers tend to be positive about books, probably because, as unpaid reviewers, we don’t HAVE to read anything; and if we really don’t like it, we just don’t finish the book or write about it.  That being said, there have been times where I wrote a less than stellar review of a book and found that other reviewers felt the same way. 

Q: Do you think the consolidation of the publishing industry has been positive or negative for the quality and diversity of books that make it to the market?

A:  I don’t know enough about this to intelligently answer the question. 

Q: Do you think e-books are going to make printed books obsolete like CD’s have become in the wake of the ipod revolution?

A:  Well, you never want to say “never”, but I think the Kindle and its ilk will have to become a lot cheaper before they give books a run for their money.  It is one thing to take a $10.00 book to the beach—if it gets sandy or wet or whatever, then I’m out $10.00.  If my Kindle gets wet or sandy, then I’m out a lot more.  It looks too big to tuck in my purse.  As far as the “books” themselves, I guess part of it is a price point thing.  Many readers buy relatively few books, especially new books.  We use the library, swap with friends or use book swapping services.  If there was some way the software could allow you to rent a book for a given length of time for a relatively small cost, that could be a win/win for authors/publishers and readers.  I’m sure that the sophisticated used book market that has developed in the internet has hurt you; yet as a reader I cannot spend the full price of the average book for the number of books I read.  If I could rent them for $2-3 each and the software involved insured that I didn’t share them with my friends and the production and distribution costs were low for you, then we’d both win.  So, to answer your question, yes, I guess I do think it is possible, but not with the current hardware and pricing scheme.

Q: What is the best reward for you from blogging about books?

A:  The books of course!  I’ll also admit to enjoying the idea of having an audience  read what I write. 

Q: What are your three favorite books?

A:  Honestly, I don’t have any.  I’ve always loved to read, and at times in my life have gone through what many people would consider a huge number of books.  I’m on a reading kick right now, and in the first six months of this year, I read and blogged about 125 books (though I think about ten of them were children’s books).  That being said, books are temporary visitors in my life.

 

Thanks RAnn!

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