About Me

My photo
Carving The Light https://www.createspace.com/3439520 Also available at Amazon.com. Merchandise can be found at: http://www.cafepress.ca/CarvingTheLight

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ABNA Second Round Reviews!!!

Okay! As expected, I did not make the cut in this round, but my reviews were posted much faster than anticipated, so that's good! My whole reason for entering the contest this year was to try and make it to this round, and get some feedback from the Amazon Vine Reviewers who worked so hard over the past few weeks to judge this crazy round. And now, for your reading enjoyment, here they both are!  You can find 'em after the jump.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

Strongest aspect would be in setting up those tricky family dynamics between the three sisters, but it's all buried under too much awkwardly-incorporated back-story

What aspect needs the most work?

The expository passages are way too long and there's not nearly enough forward-looking story development, especially for a sampling. The last line really says it all--"...but without actually going anywhere." There's insufficient plot momentum to make me want to read on. Just a lot of restating the same background history.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

It's awkwardly constructed with overlong passages of family "history" that should have been more effectively woven into the plotting. Especially since this is a short sample of what's in store, much more should have taken place in the present, rather than back-story. We need to see it, rather than be told it, to keep us sufficiently hooked.

 ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

Kudos to the author for tackling a touchy subject matter head-on. The struggle that most gay people go through in coming out to family members is a real and challenging one, and I applaud him/her for acknowledging this fact.

What aspect needs the most work?

The author, while not a bad writer, needs to refine his/her style. There is repetition in parts (the word "elusive" pops up twice on the first page) and odd choices of words (Sarah says she will "siphon" a snack or two from the kitchen).

And run-on sentences abound. Some examples:

- "Emily, now forty-three, had never married, though Sam sometimes felt as though Emily had used the reason of having to raise her youngest sister as an excuse to not ever get back out in the world and live her own life."

- "She'd landed at her current school on a whim, wanting to try her hand at journalism, but had quickly changed to creative writing when she'd discovered that it was a positive outlet for her to vent and purge anything she wanted or needed to, and have it actually graded favourably by her professors, rather than feeding on other people's angst ... other people's stories ... and garnering a lukewarm reception, at best."

Some simplification would be welcome, although the author should be commended for not overburdening his/her prose with complicated ideas and/or convoluted metaphors. Using the word "awesome," however, to my mind reduces the prose to Valley-speak instead of well-considered creative writing. It's certainly colloquial, and might be right for how Sam thinks, but Sam is not writing in the first person.

I'm also a little confused by the dog story. Emily gets herself and her sisters a dog to brighten their spirits, but waits until their parents have been dead...11 years? By that time Julie is 26 and Emily 30. And yet the author describes how the "girls" go out to buy a new puppy. Unless I'm reading something incorrectly, this is absurd.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

As good as the writing is, for the most part, this is, essentially, a soap opera. Everyone has a secret, they're all, in their own way damaged and lost. Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller have achieved great success in the genre, and this author may in time. It's just not my choice of reading material. And as much as I applaud the author for tackling the gay subject matter, I wish Sam weren't such a wimp. Presumably the book will follow her journey to becoming a stronger, prouder lesbian, but I'm not sure I like her well enough to come along for the ride. And the other two women are also stuck in some sort of alternate universe in which they've never grown up. (Emily even refers to Samantha as "Sammie-Sam," a baby name if ever there were one.) This may provide the author with dramatic situations to work out, but it made me want to shake these annoying women and shout, "Just grow up, for goodness sake!"

So - yeah. Easy to see why I only made it past the pitch round! lol

I do feel bad that they had to struggle so hard to find anything positive in the excerpt. Hopefully the other 39 they each had to read weren't as tough! I'd been aiming for the Meh pile, but unfortunately I ended up being among the Migraines and, if my reviewers are reading this, I really do apologize. Thank you SO MUCH for all the time and effort you put into judging this contest, while still managing to have lives! It really is appreciated.

I also feel kind of bad that there isn't really any way to salvage CTL. In the hands of a better writer, maybe. But not in mine. We'll see if I can do any better writing for kids! ;)

In the end, I got so much out of this whole experience. I made a whack of amazing new friends (some of whom made it through, so I'll be asking you to go vote for them in the Quarter Finals when the time comes), I learned a lot about the process, and even more about myself.

Some things have been rattling around in the back of my mind for years, too; questions I was never sure how to ask. Some of them have been answered now, I think. The biggest one is that I am fairly certain now that Sam really was the problem the entire time. Sarah just put up with her longer than most.

I'm not sure now if I am going to query this, though. On the one hand, it would be good to practice with something that doesn't matter. But on the other, that seems like a giant waste of time.

We'll see. For now, I have magnet sets to cut! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment