Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free Book Friday Winner

The winner is Donna, congrats. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

iUniverse Discount

All iUniverse books are discounted by 30% with the promo code SPRING, Until may 3rd.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Picking The Nits, or ...

I can't see the forest through my denouement ... do I need a machete?

Welcome again to the nits column; here is the mainstream book commentary for the week.
  • The autobiographical essays, interspersed with poetry and meditations, overcomes a haphazard construction and a measure of obscurity through the author’s intuitive control of tone.
  • Although some of [...] denouements are weak, and others overwritten, her prose is mostly tight and her characters well-crafted.
  • The prose and ideas are outstanding; only a handful of poorly thought-out endings [...] keep this anthology from the top tier.
  • [...] spare style may lack universal appeal, but [...]

This week I am seeing mostly construction issues: haphazard and obscure; weak denouements, some overwritten; and poorly thought out endings, but I do also see a heavy focus on the prose with intuitive control of tone, the prose is tight and outstanding, and only one negative in that the style was spare, which is really subjective. I happen to like a spare style. Annie Proulx' style is said to be spare. I read Brokeback Mountain, which is really a novella. At fifty or so pages, it is quite spare. She doesn't bog you down with scenery or atmosphere simply because the focus is on the love story, sad as it may be. Spare can be quite fulfilling as long as it is emotionally rich in texture. Brokeback was certainly that. I hadn't cried at a book in quite a while.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Friday, April 24, 2009

Super Free Book Friday

A few POD milestones have been passed in recent months. The POD People blog is celebrating:

* Our second anniversary (last December)
* Over 100 reviews, and
* 500 posts

To celebrate we are giving away not one book, but three. Based on choices by myself, Cheryl and Chris this giveaway includes:

* Gold Star Wife by L.K. Campbell
* Subsurdity: Vignettes from Jasper Lane by Eric Arvin, and
* Luggage by Kroeger: a True Crime Memoir by Gary Taylor

The prize also includes three paperchase metallic bookmarks, a lined journal, a highlighter set and book light.

To be entered please comment here with an email address and a one word to one sentence answer to this question: What is the most important feature of a good book review?

(Contest closes Sunday Midnight)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shakespeare is still Alive ...

If only we'd notice.
From the Guardian 4/23/2009

Chris, you might be interested in this...since you are a windy city guy.

this, Boris: "Now, therefore, I, Richard M Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, do hereby proclaim Shakespeare's birthday, April 23, 2009, to be TALK LIKE SHAKESPEARE DAY in the city of Chicago, and encourage the citizens to screw their courage to the sticking place and celebrate Shakespeare by vocal acclamation of his words."

I really liked this article. I am a huge Shakespeare fan who proudly lugs around her leather doorstop of his complete works. Yes, that's a beach read for me. I am out an' proud when I say I absolutely love classical literature. I love its complexity, its page-long sentences, and its formal diction. It's pure poetry to me, and I, personally, feel the loss of it in much of today's modern writing. We are told to keep it simple, action packed, write in scenes, and keep the characters talking. But I think there is something to be said for good story telling. I do like spare when it comes to the objective descriptive stuff, but I do favour my prose a bit on the full and flowery side, and I like my plot lines and character motivations to err on the side of subtlety. I like intrigue, not just in the story, but in the language as well. So I definitely agree with the final paragraph of the Guardian Article today:

While Shakespeare is second nature to us, we have also, in our dumbed-down, all-art-must-be-accessible-to-all times, distanced ourselves from the genius of Shakespeare. I despair – I really do despair – when confronted by sites such as, where "difficult" Shakespeare is "translated" into modern English. Shakespeare is modern English, you blinking idiots! And you should sweat over Shakespeare's work, even if you struggle to comprehend as you cry at the beauty and power of the language. Ask yourself, do we deserve to produce a 21st-century Shakespeare – or a poet who could even surpass Shakespeare's influence on our language – while we live in a world of nosweatshakespeares?

Thoughts on The Craft -- cannegardner

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.” -- Thomas Gray

This quote made me think of this review blog and the many others who selflessly take on self-published books, not to mention the reason I became a reviewer in the first place. Recently, there has been some debate as to the value of Indie review blogs and the service we provide. Metaphor aside, maybe that is the inherent purpose: To stop and take notice, to allow a flower to blush, to know that its sweetness wasn’t wasted.

At least that’s how I feel about it. Sometimes, even the weeds can be lovely.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

REVIEW: The End of Winter

Title: The End of Winter
Author: Terry Savage
Genre: Science Fiction
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-59858-866-6
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

I requested Terry Savage’s book The End of Winter based on him being mentioned on a blog. He very generously sent me a copy, and I think this will be his first review.

The End of Winter is set in the year 2808 AD. Mankind has developed faster-than-light travel, and become the dominant military and political power in an area at least 100 light years across. As the novel opens, Commander Curt Jackson of the Earth Space Force (ESF) is leading a battle involving several hundred 2-man ships. The battle is not going that well for the ESF, or at least for Commander Jackson, as his ship is shot up and his gunner is dead. Then an unidentified and very large ship arrives and turns the tide for Earth, although both the unidentified ship and Jackson’s vessel end up crash-landing on a convenient planet.

Beginning writers are frequently given advice in the form of dictums. “Stories should start ‘in medias res’ (in the middle of things)” or “avoid infodumps.” Savage took both of those dictums to heart, but in my view too much so. This makes for a confusing narrative.

For example, the unidentified ship is a warship of an ancient galactic empire which collapsed 12,000 years ago after an invasion from another galaxy. However, it takes us nearly half the book to find this out. Now, if the book was structurally a mystery that would make sense, but Jackson, our lead character, apparently already knows most of this. Since he knows and (correctly) acts on knowledge that the reader doesn’t have, it makes for a confusing book. A simple internal dialog along the lines of “that strange ship can’t possibly be an Ancient Imperial” followed by a brief summary of the legends and rumors would do wonders for clarity.

Regarding the space battle and the dead gunner, both events seem important, but quickly fade. Jackson is fighting “renegades,” and apparently they are a problem, able to outnumber the ESF by 10 to 1, but after the first chapter we never see or hear of them again. Perhaps they are affiliated with some of the other bad guys in the book, but if so the connection is never drawn.

Beginning writers (and not-so-beginning ones like Yours Truly) sometimes fall into the trap of “telling instead of showing.” Now, detailing every trivial step of a fictional character’s life is overkill. Saying, for example, “Joe went out to buy a newspaper,” can be perfectly acceptable, unless the act of getting the paper is critical to the story.

In The End of Winter, there is a critical battle between the Ancient ship and a pirate vessel armed with an unusual weapon capable of destroying a warship with a single shot. Yet, instead of showing us the fear of the crew, outlining the tactics uses of their weapons, we get lines like “[the pilot] put on a show the like none of them had ever seen before.” Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence.

The End of Winter has potential to be a good book. As written, it reads more like an outline for a multi-book series than as a novel.


Announcement from LULU

A friend of mine passed this along to me yesterday. He was not happy. I understand the improving quality bit and all that, but for customers who run small micro-presses through Lulu, this is a huge headache, and my understanding is that if you do not update your covers, your books won't be printed and sold. Any Lulus out there want to clarify? Since I am not a Lulu anymore, I have limited information here.

Edited to add: It also looks like Lulu is getting away from the DIY and into the subsidiary/vanity press market. I suppose they wanted to see some of that money as well. Makes me wonder what kind of staff they might be hiring for these services, and I hope it's better than their rather flimsy customer service. See here for more info.


We’re Improving Our Pocket Trim Size Books
Important Information Regarding Your Project

Dear Lulu Creator,
We are contacting you because you have published a book in our Pocket trim size (4.25" x 6.875") and created a one-piece cover for it. In the next few weeks, we will be improving this trim size by increasing the paper stock from 50# white stock to 60# white stock. This change will improve the quality of the books, but it will also affect the spine width since a thicker paper ultimately means a thicker spine.

On April 28, 2009, we will be switching to the new paper, and so you will need to create a new cover for the book. The new formula for calculating the spine width will be the number of pages in your book divided by 444. Please make any necessary alterations to your spine width to accommodate the new formula, and upload the new cover on April 28th.
We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing

Thank you for using Lulu!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Picking the Nits, or ...

Help, my characters have tripped over my plot-holes, and they can't get up.

And here are the mainstream critical nits of the week, enjoy.

  • [...] story is woefully unoriginal. This disposable diversion’s good for a few laughs, but not much more.
  • [...] is undeniably in control of her material, and even if some pieces feel too stylistically mannered, she uses fiction to elucidating effect.
  • Though it can get bogged down in detailed descriptions [...], the narrative’s realistic, understated tone makes a nice fit [...], but a dissonant subplot [...] becomes increasingly preposterous over the course of the novel.

This week, again, we see a focus on plotting and storyline in the negative: unoriginal, disposable, dissonant subplot, but on the positive side, we can see writing style is also addressed: in control, realistic understated tone, and elucidating effect. Lastly, one comment on the backdrop mentions the reader felt bogged down in detailed descriptions. Me, I tend to err on the side of spare when it comes to description. Like salt, too much can ruin the taste, too little doesn't bring out the other flavours in the dish. I know, it's a crap analogy, but what can you do, it works.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Monday, April 20, 2009

REVIEW: Trampled Underfoot by Shauna Skye

Title: Trampled Underfoot
Author: Shauna Skye
Genre: Poetry
Price: $13.01
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu
Reviewed By: Emily Veinglory

I have always had a weakness for vampire poetry, so I thought I would give Shauna Skye’s poetry and lyric collection “Trampled Underfoot” a go. I was, for the most part, underwhelmed.

Ms Skye is primarily a musician (although also a writer, photographer, voice talent, second life aficionado and probably a bunch of other stuff). However her primary interest in music might explain why most of this work does not stand well as simple poetry. There is a tendency to reach for the obvious rhyme and familiar imagery (birds, butterflies, the sea) that might not have been an issue if set to music. There is also the occasion obvious rhyme passed by, like: my reality’s thought to be falsity. (Fallacy, surely?)

The formatting was also a little erratic with various font sizes and a typo or too (unless “Hell englarges” has a deeper meaning that I am misinterpreting).

Nevertheless there were some wry or well observed sections such as in “Open mic” where Ms Skye writes: this week a 90 pound girl / sings a cappella out of tune / but she has friends / and they applaud / their goddess. It was just that in the end this collection felt more like a cappella for the writer’s associates rather than a wider audience.

Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, April 17, 2009

Review -- Finding The Moon in Sugar

Title: Finding the Moon in Sugar
Author: Gint Aras
Genre: Literature/Contemporary
Price: $10.17
Publisher: Infinity
ISBN: 978-0741450937
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Blurb: In this tragicomedy, Gint Aras’ hapless and marijuana-dazed narrator, Andrew Nowak, is seduced by a bombshell internet bride. The mysterious and wealthy Audra soon consumes the twenty year-old boy’s imagination, a welcome distraction from his needy mother and sister. Wild and hilarious adventures await Andy in Lithuania when he sells his possessions to follow Audra abroad. But he soon finds himself trapped penniless in her world of illness, regret and sex. Stumbling backwards into a romance he never sees coming, Andy must deal with Audra’s narcissism and grapple to understand her, a struggle that just might destroy him.

Andy, Andy, Andy ... yes, Andy is hapless, but the story is far from the “Gen Y” delusional drug addled male lit we are seeing so much of these days. This story is deeply textured, sentimental, tragic, and hilarious.

Andrew Nowak is an all-American reject: undereducated, a bit of a slacker, the product of a dysfunctional family, and self-proclaimed dirtbag. Andy isn’t even good at being a drug dealer. In his own words: He can’t even sell shit people want.

As our story begins, Andy is waiting in a local laundromat for a client when a very aggressive woman approaches him. This woman turns out to be the Lithuanian internet bride of said client. She promptly offers Andy one thousand dollars to service her -- orally. A hot woman, sex, and a thousand dollars, needless to say, Andy goes home with her. As the story progresses, we get an insider view into Andy’s lost and lonely heart and soul. Andy definitely has the Toa of Pooh. While Andy might be clumsy and accident prone, he is very much self-aware and very aware of the world around him. His simple-mindedness is that of innocence not arrogant stupidity, and that makes Andy very, very charming, much like the stray dog he befriends when he reaches Lithuania. Yes, Andy sells everything, buys a plane ticket, and chases Audra, the Lithuanian Internet Bride, to her homeland. At this point, the story veers off into the predictable stranger in a strange land plot device. We have a lot of wandering aimlessly; we have the wizard of Oz cast of characters, including Toto; and we have dive bars, discothèques, and drug parties, but in reality, this story isn’t about the cliché plotline. It’s really a study in desperation and co-dependence. Audra is mentally ill, and as it manifests itself, we don’t get a medical diagnosis or a laundry list of symptoms, we get to feel its effects very deeply through Andy. His simplistic, colourful, and almost childlike view of the world allows the emotion to stay raw and uncluttered. There are no justifications -- no analysis -- just Andy’s honesty. When Andy finds a picture Audra had drawn in his private journal, I got the chills. Actually, the book was full of insightful thrills, chills, a little romance, and enough twists and turns to keep the story entertaining from the first page to the last, which, by the way, is one of the most poignant parts to the story -- almost an Aesop’s Fable ending, if you will.

I got out my notebook to write down thoughts I was havin’ […]. Cauze I would think sometimes if I forget then maybe something didn’t happen. If you can’t remember clean how stuff happens, what’s the point of it happening?

Audra put love, a real important word where you can’t throw it around like wet pants, especially if you’re an English teacher and they make you study all the most hardcore words they got.

Inside some stairs was a huge Jesus, like three feet tall hanging on a cross. The statue got its legs rubbed for maybe two hundred years, so them feet didn’t even have no toes, all of them totally worn off.

Some of the stuff she (Audra) wanted is only supposed to be on the internet, like with a blindfold or straps.

That one real heavy suitcase […] was full of notebooks. Audra wrote English a lot. She drew real good, like professional, though lots of them drawings were perverted stuff or painful things...somebody cuttin’ a girl’s eye with a razor.

I brung my notebook and took it out of my backpack. And in there I seen a big surprise. Audra drew a picture. It was a girl peekin’ around a corner…only one eye and cheek and half a mouth was showin’. That girl looked kinda sneaky, like she was runnin’ away from somebody chasin’ her, though also she looked real curious. Underneath the picture Audra wrote, If you want to leave just tell me. I’ll get by on my own. I got this crazy buzz all over my body, totally like I got haunted. She let me know she read the whole notebook cause she underlined stuff I wrote on each page […]. Holy crap, it made me feel real ashamed. But also I got paranoid like somebody’s watchin’ me…someone spyin’ on me with binoculars.

A real thing is like blood in your mouth. Like you die and everything goes away with some blood down your face. You can taste that blood in your mouth, Drew.

Yes, the narrative is written in dialect. Andy is undereducated and his language skills are lacking. That, mixed with the slanguage, made me dizzy. I had to forcefully put away the formal grammar-girl in me in order to read this story. I don’t normally like dialect, but I am not opposed to it if done properly. Hell, I read Trainspotting and Naked Lunch, and in this case, Mr. Aras kept true to his character, which is all I ask for: authenticity. However, I didn’t like being called “dude” every five minutes; that got stale quickly. As far as the aesthetics, the cover art and title are spot on, beautifully done. I giggled a bit at the title because I know a few grandmas who did the same thing with their sugar bowls. The interior layout is above average: I noticed only one minor formatting issue, one most people won’t notice at all, and my only pet peeve about the writing itself, and this is minor, was with the reference dropping. We can assume that this book is going to appeal mainly to twenty and thirty something men of the male angst Gen X and Y variety. Yes, they would probably get the references, but I feel that reference dropping limits readership and also dates a story. Not to mention that if the reader doesn’t “get” the reference, they instantly disconnect. That is not a good thing. When a reader disconnects, you’ve lost them. This book isn’t, in my opinion, an intense social satire like American Psycho, which spoke to a very specific time period in American Cultural History. No, this is not that sort of book. This is also not one of those: Hey dude, I went here and did that, smoked this and fucked that ... and then I did it all again. No, it’s definitely not that sort of story, either. Thank goodness. This book is more of a psychological character study, a philosophical issue story if you will, and stripping away the irrelevant references would allow for a broader appeal that could span many generations and cultures.

Overall, I loved it. The story flows smoothly, the plotline is flawless, and the imagery is restrained and innocent in its beauty. The prose is tactile and at times even poetic. The main characters are painfully tragic, and so we can laugh, cry, be horrified and be mortally wounded all at the same time. Shakespeare would be proud. This goes in my top picks for the year so far. This is definitely my kind of literature. Those who like tragic black comedy will adore this book. Those who want psychological realism and those who want to look a little deeper into the psyche of deviant and damaged characters will love its masterful subtlety. Bravo! I can’t wait to read more from this author.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


November 7th, 2009
The first Self-Publishing Book Expo will be held in New York City on Saturday, November 7. This may become an annual event. Out of Business?

Further to Cheryl's post about Lulu taking over the domain I looked up the url on the Better Business Bureau. And it seems the original is out of business? (a.k.a. International Library of Poetry,,, International Society of Poets, National Library of Poetry, Poets Workshop, Watermark Press, Watermark Media Group, Inc) was a boil on the face of self-publishing second only to Publish America. So I thought it worth pausing to mark their passing and let out a sigh of relief.

See also:

The Pod-dy Train -- New Kid on the block ...

Thanks to Floyd over at Podbram and Shannon over at the Lulu Book review for posting a heads up to the newest Self-Pub review blog The Pod-dy Train.

As Floyd mentions in his post, we know very little about the blogger at this point, but, that's no reason not to welcome them aboard and wish them the best. Floyd also mentioned that the blog reviews other Pod Blogs as well. I found the review of Podpeeps to be rather amusing ... and insightful. The blogger has been doing her/his research and following the blogs.

I do have to add that, No, I don't have a British accent, sad to say, but I don't hide the fact that I am an obsessive anglophile. I do have a library though, with a wing-back chair, and all my characters have British or Irish accents, so that has to count for something, right?

Thanks from the Peeps for the very positive, albeit comical, review. Welcome aboard, hope you got a nice shiny suit of armour.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Lulu takes over Launches Lulu Poetry, Introduces Contest
By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 4/14/2009 1:29:00 PM

Self-publishing site Lulu has launched a Poetry site,, where users can connect with other poets and digitally publish their own verse at no cost. The site resembles in that it is targeted toward writers who want to connect with their peers and have access to resources to receive reviews and feedback on their work. Unlike, features a “reward and recognition component” through poetry contests with daily ($25), monthly ($250) and yearly ($5,000) prizes awarded. The Lulu poetry community will select the winners.

At (Lulu bought the domain from a previous owner and overhauled it), poets can create, meet other poets and share their work. Widgets and other resources offer glossaries and techniques, as well as a reference list of words that rhyme, and every day the staff selects a “Poem of the Day.” A spokesperson said Lulu will add new features over the next few months.

See also:
This is Why Self-Publishing isn’t Taken Seriously

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Picking the Nits or Do my characters spit toothpicks at each other when they talk?

This irregular column will be more poke and jab than an actual column. I got the idea from the “Wooden Dialog” article posted here a while back where mainstream published books received negative commentary within a review. Personally, I think the negatives help more than the positives. I don’t need a pat on the back, even though praise is nice every once and while: What I need, as an artist, is constructive criticism. We here at the peeps have always attempted to provide fair and balanced reviews. So, each week I plan on dredging up some less than stellar commentary from mainstream published book reviews. I will not mention the books because I don’t want this to digress into a finger pointing exercise or a snark fest: Critical commentary is serious business, and I am hoping we can all take something away from the exercise. I am a reviewer, but first and foremost, I am also a writer. When I am doing research, for my own writing or for this site, I make time to read reviews. A lot can be gleaned from them and subsequently incorporated into our thought process as we give our own work the critical eye. Please keep in mind that while the commentary is directly quoted from Publishers Weekly, some of it is subjective reviewer opinion. After all, a critic is a reader too.

So without further ado:
[...] keeps the pace moving quickly through this brief romp of a humorous
fantasy novel, and stuffs each page with one-liners and danger. Those looking
for depth of character and intricate plotting, however, should steer
[...] readers looking for a complex mystery will chafe at the slow pace and
last-minute revelations.
[...] The simplistic storytelling and psychology don’t do the predictable
narrative any favors.
[...]Some of the exposition is slightly clunky...

Each week, as we read more such commentary, my hope is that patterns will start to emerge and that those patterns will alter the way we view our own stories -- for the betterment of our art, that is. Now I am not saying that we should write for the critics, because we shouldn't, we should write for ourselves, but that doesn't mean we can't look upon our work from an analytical and critical point of view. In these comments, I see a focus on plotting and on narrative technique. If we break it down, I see: depth of character, intricit plotting, and complex mystery as touch points, and then on the negative, I see: slow pace, simplistic storytelling, predictable narrative, and clunky exposition. When we read a review in this manner, we get an insider view of what a reader is looking for in a story and what is bothersome. It's like having a decoder ring, wouldn't you say?

Monday, April 13, 2009


From PRWeb, April 6, 2009

Conference for self-published authors and publishers premieres July 18, 2009

San Francisco, California (PRWEB) April 6, 2009

InStock, a one-day conference for authors interested in self-published books, is premiering July 18, 2009 in San Francisco. The InStock Conference will feature panels on various topics of interest to book self-publishers, with a focus on marketing and the business of self-publishing.

Speakers will include successful authors and self-publishers, independent publishers, and representatives from the traditional arm of the book industry. The panels and conversations will include information on marketing self-published books, finding an audience, publicity outreach and tactics, product pricing, print-on-demand options and more. Announced speakers include Cary Tennis, Cary Tennis Books and; Deborrah Cooper,; Amy Kaneko, VP, Sales & New Business Development, Weldon Owen Publishing; Ian Shimkoviak, Senior Designer, theBookDesigners; Christin Evans, owner, The Booksmith and others. Please see the website for full details.

Panels will include "Do Judge A Book By Its Cover" which looks at the importance of design in book marketing; "Picked Up" which discusses the pros and cons of having your self-published book picked up by a larger publisher; and "Beyond The Sale" which discusses branding yourself as an author and income streams beyond book sales. In addition, there will be conversations with self-published authors who have successfully connected with their audiences.
The early bird rate of $195 is available through April 15th. For further information about the conference schedule, sponsorship opportunities, or to register, please go to the website

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Digitizers ...

From Teleread: Bring the eBooks Home
The Digitizers: Hadrien Gardeur—Feedbooks cofounder, ePub advocate and Stanza ally
By Kat Meyer March 28, 2009

Moderator’s note on Hadrien Gardeur: Years ago I urged Project Gutenberg to come up with a truly slick program to download, manage and display Gutenberg books. "A book tuner," I called the idea with radio in mind. Hadrien at Feedbooks had similar dreams and acted on them.


I took a walk on over to Feedbooks site and found it to be very simple and yet very user friendly. One can self-publish their own work or publish Public Domain works. Their uploading/editing platform seems pretty error-proof and their claim is that it produces a better quality ebook than say Kindle DTP platform.

From their Terms of Use: (hereinafter also referred to as “The Website”) is a free book hosting website which enables users, after registering and opening an account, to download, store, share and comment on the electronic books proposed for reading. The books are available in different languages The books are free from copyrights as they fall in the public domain. The users have the possibility to upload electronic books. Before they are posted on the Website, FeedBooks will determine whether the publication of the said book is authorized.

Intellectual Property Rights
FeedBooks being registered in France, the content of the Website is subject to the French legislation on copyrights and other intellectual property rights. However, the electronic books offered for reading are free from copyrights as, in accordance with the legislation of France, the said books fall in the public domain.

The help section is pretty comprehensive, specifically the Self-publishing faq/guide.

Please keep in mind, this is a free-share site. -- cannegardner

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review -- Filigree and Shadow

Title: Filigree and Shadow
Author: Mick Rooney
Genre: Fiction
Price: $14.01 Amazon Download $7.86 Lulu
Publisher: Lulu UK
ISBN: 978-1409247296
Point of Sale:
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Filigree and Shadow is narrative poetry in chaos. At times, the cadence is choppy and didactic. At times, it’s repetitive, with shifting tenses that obliterate all time and space. Written in the “stream of consciousness” style, there is nothing to hold onto here but the shadow. The narrative voices are evocative of a dissociative fugue, and the distance is unfathomable. The writing is spare, the imagery equally so -- subtle, introspective -- and the blending of themes is quite seamless. For those who love abstract work bordering on the surreal, then this is a fine example: allusion mixes with and obscures the obviousness of reality here.

This book is more of a collection of musings than conventional stories -- the musings of ethereal souls who have cast themselves into the darkness so that they may make the journey to the light whilst missing nothing of its nuances along the way, ugly or beautiful. I did like this book, very very much. It’s a nice change of pace to be able to immerse yourself in experimental literature; although, I felt that the writing could use a bit of tightening up, a little selective editing and cutting. I felt the prose lacked a sense of urgency -- desperation -- and the deliberate repetitiveness in some cases was too repetitive. I didn’t get the influx of heart-wrenching drama that I normally like to see in this sort of work: The filigree was a little overpowering at the expense of the shadow. I was told of the pain, the sadness, the isolation, many times over, but I felt it wasn’t actualised as well as it could have been. Less Fact and more Allusion would have helped, for me, personally. I wanted more along the lines of the opening paragraph in Children on the Hill. “You were wearing torn and dirty clothes. No sign of your shoes.” Now that says it all without actually saying it. It allows us to feel the futility of death in the bare feet.

The sea swallowed me without a trace of mercy. Deep
into a world of dreams. Real dreams of sail and stillness.
Real dreams of uncharted worlds and words.
The very dreams which have pulled at the heart of
me, age upon age. Deep into those worlds and words
were bare thoughts emerge. For so long, they have
rested there; hidden away without being born, without
a glint of light, without mercy. These real dreams
have finally found the light. Born with stillness into
this world. You lived, you died. Your body was
washed up on the beach by the sea. You were wearing
torn and dirty clothes. No sign of your shoes. The
eyes, open, but empty. These dreams have haunted
me a thousand times before, in another world, in so
many other words.

Everyone will take away something a little different from each piece. For example, the first story, Arcadia, to me, had the feel of a creation story, the cataclysmic shifting of matter at the expense of space and time ... the creation of, not only a world, but the creation of the never-ending sphere of cosmic wonder that imbues a world with its majesty. A story such as that could only be told through the eyes of a creator: angel, divine mother, sister to the fates ... maid, mother, crone ... one and many. The other stories share similar thematic elements, as they should, because they are all beautifully and poignantly interconnected, though you won’t realise how until the end. Think The Silmarillian written as a cryptic meandering canto. This is definitely a spiritual think-piece: The reader will need to be fully engaged to appreciate it.

Literature of this sort is always an adventurous endeavour into the realm of allusion and not an easy endeavour to take on, so I have to give Mr. Rooney kudos for making a valiant effort here, especially with the very strategic use of the second-person narrative -- a constantly shifting second-person narrative, no less. Bravo! The editorial issues are noticeable -- a few structural issues, a few word missteps and typographical faux pas -- but not at all overly distracting. The interior formatting and presentation could also be a bit better. Other than that, I have little complaint. With a sharper focus on the allusion, I think this could be a masterpiece. Conceptually, it already is, and so I gave a higher score based on that. In order to rate the work, I had to compare it to something akin to its spirit and that would be the brilliant, uniquely genius “Maldoror” by Isadore Ducasse, writing as Lautreamont. Filigree and Shadow didn’t quite deliver the edginess, the Byzantine language, and the raw emotion I typically yearn for with this kind of work, but that’s just me. There are a few moments: A Time, That Time was my favourite, but alas, I need a bit more intensity, a little less dreamy romanticism, perhaps. The pages here are a veritable smorgasbord of misty mountains, mazy grottos, and ice-packed rivers in the midst of a spring thaw, metaphorically speaking, and though I love a good metaphor, I felt thrust into a bout of scenery overload. Even so, as a self-proclaimed curator and lifelong appreciator of experimental fiction, I am grateful for this, and it is definitely a promising start. With anticipation, I look forward to more from this Author. Maybe a slightly more scratching and clawing version of this. I tend to prefer my shadows a lot stronger willed and a bit dirtier in tint and texture. However, those who like a lot of filigree will like this.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

More Info on the Sale of Trafford ...

From Quinn & Quire
More details on Trafford Publishing sale
April 9, 2009 6:31 PM By Scott MacDonald

Earlier this week, Q&Q Omni reported on the sale of the Victoria-based self-publishing firm Trafford Publishing to its U.S. competitor, the Indiana-based Author Solutions. Since then, details have arisen that shed new light on the sale. Author Solutions has purchased Trafford’s author contracts and intellectual property, including the Trafford name and trademark.

In a recent missive to Trafford shareholders, Reid explained that he was forced to sell the publishing business because it had been experiencing “significant losses” over the past two years. “The self-publishing business was bleeding money and our ability to staunch the flow was severely hampered by a lack of working capital,” he wrote. “The print business was profitable but not enough to offset the losses in self-publishing…. Early this year, it became clear to Trafford that it was time to make some hard choices.”
Well now, makes you wonder, doesn't it, especially with all the media hype of late stating how self-publishing is doing so well. Maybe Trafford just had a bad business model, or maybe not. -- cannegardner

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thoughts on The Craft -- cannegardner

Nothing in a book reader’s world turns them off more than shoddy presentation. Most readers can spot a self-published book as soon as they open the cover, if not at the cover, which is a shame, since book layout is not that difficult to understand. Therefore, my thoughts this week will stray towards the academic. This week we will look at the various parts of a book and how they are laid out and properly paginated. This seems to be an area of great difficulty for the self-published author. Now, I have spent over 10 years working with manuscript formatting from training manuals to business reports to books. You don’t have to have a degree in manuscript studies; you just have to know the parts and where to put them. So today, we shall talk about parts and pagination, beginning with what comes right after we open the cover...

  • Flyleaf: The blank leaf or leaves following the front free endpaper.
    Then comes the Front matter
  • The Frontispiece, which faces the title page and is on the back of the flyleaf, usually containing very elaborate artwork -- optional
  • The Title page -- If using two title pages, this one should only contain the title and should always be on an odd page.
  • The Copyright page: typically verso of the title page: shows copyright owner/date, credits, edition/printing, cataloguing details, etc.
  • Table of contents -- optional -- always an odd page
  • List of figures -- optional
  • List of tables -- optional
  • Dedication -- always an odd page
  • Acknowledgments -- optional, and sometimes this is moved to the Back matter -- always an odd page.
  • Foreword -- optional -- starts on an odd page
  • Preface -- optional -- starts on an odd page
  • Introduction -- optional -- starts on an odd page

Starting with the foreword, the pages should be numbered sequentially using Roman Numerals and will begin count from the flyleaf. Yes, from the flyleaf.

  • After the front matter we can add an additional Flyleaf and subsequent Frontispiece,
  • We then add the Second Title Page with Author and Publisher Information. If the book has parts, this might be the title page for first part by itself or in addition to the secondary title page.
  • Then comes the Body: the text or contents, the pages often collected or folded into signatures; the pages are usually numbered sequentially, and often divided into chapters.

Most often, you will hear that the first page of the first chapter should be regarded as Page 1, whether it is numbered or not and should always start on an odd page. Well, that is not accurate and a bit misleading. Page numbering for the Body of a book varies book to book and house to house. Most houses have a standard format that they use. In leafing through many of the hundreds of books I own, not to mention the myriad of library books I have read -- thousands probably in my 43 years -- I have found quite a wide variation. Some houses count sequentially from the flyleaf, using roman numerals for the foreword, preface, and introduction and then return to standard numbering for the body. Some houses count sequentially from the flyleaf, using roman numerals for the foreword, preface, and introduction but then begin counting anew in standard format just after the Introduction, almost as if the front matter was an entirely seperate book. This new count will include all new frontispieces, blank pages, and title pages subsequently numbering the first page of the first chapter anywhere from page 3 to 5 or beyond, depending on how much additional material there was in between the front matter and the main body of text. Lastly, some houses don’t count any of the front matter and define the first page of the first chapter as page 1 regardless of what came before it. Whatever method you choose, the first page of the first chapter should always start on an odd page.

Then we have the Back matter
The back matter generally returns to Roman numerals and follows the body text sequentially. Back matter includes:

  • Appendix
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Colophon
  • Flyleaf: The blank leaf or leaves (if any) preceding the back free endpaper.

Now, not every page in a book is physically numbered: Flyleaves, Tables of Contents, Chapter starts, Frontispieces, pages with artwork and standalone quotes or poetry should be devoid of a header, footer, and page numbers, except where a footnote notation might be needed. I won’t get into the geometry of page construction and interior page layout this week, since modern technology makes it much easier than it used to be ... and we can talk white space and fonts the next time.

Whatever style of pagination you choose for your book, you should stay consistent throughout and take the utmost care that you do not accidentally miss a step and throw your pagination out of sequence. Every page must be accounted for, regardless of how you choose to do it. And make sure your book has all the necessary parts. Make your book look like a book. If you don’t know what a book looks like, maybe you should get assistance with the interior layout.

For a basic fiction book, novel format, I generally like this layout. It’s simple, and you can’t go wrong. You can number sequentially from the Flyleaf or start your pagination on the Chapter 1 start. Either way is perfectly acceptable.

  • Flyleaf
  • Title Page with only the title and Copyright Page on the back
  • Dedication with a blank back
  • Second Title page with Author and Publisher Logo with a blank back
  • Chapter 1 Start -- Odd page
  • Body
  • Acknowledgements -- Odd page blank back
  • Flyleaf

Good Luck and happy formatting. Cheryl Anne Gardner

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

From April 6, 2009
Full Press Release can be found here.

New Website Helps Frustrated Book Authors Land a Book Publishing Contract for a Six-Figure Advance A group of local book authors has donated their time and wisdom to launch (, a new website to help aspiring authors land a book publishing contract for a six-figure advance.

Bethune, SC (PRWEB) April 6, 2009 -- A group of local book authors has donated their time and wisdom to launch, a new website to help aspiring authors write a book proposal and land a book publishing contract for a six-figure advance.

The book publishing industry holds a closely-guarded secret to getting published by a major book publisher -- the secret is writing a persuasive book proposal. Writing a successful book proposal allows book authors to earn a five or six-figure advance before they even start writing their manuscripts.

Many aspiring authors have never heard about a book proposal or how to use one to land a book publishing contract. Instead, these aspiring authors spend several months writing their books, and then grow old shopping their entire manuscripts around to busy book publishers and literary agents. It's no wonder why many aspiring authors become frustrated and give up. This way does not work today.
  • Why write a book proposal first?
  • How to generate ideas to write your book proposal
  • How to write your book's blurb for your book proposal
  • How to write your book proposal query letter.
  • Hot Topics in Book Writing
  • How to Get a Literary Agent
  • Sit Down and Write that Bestselling Novel
  • Copyright Protection for Book Authors
  • Even if you decide to self-publish or write a book as an e-book or a mobile digital book, you should know how to write a book proposal.

I love this site. It's completely Free -- because it has a lot of corporate sponsors, along with one of my personal favorites WhiteSmoke, which is one of the better editing software packages out there. (I know, I own it.) Now, the Book Proposal site layout is cartoonish to add a bit of levity, and along with a ton of freebies, it includes a list of the most the important things an author needs to "friggin" learn. Stop by and check it out. I have not muddled through the site contents yet for evaluation, so I have no opinion on content accuracy. Comments are welcome. -- cannegardner

Monday, April 06, 2009

CNN Discovers POD

So, I see that CNN has discovered Print-On-Demand. Of course, CNN has not really discovered anything new - some of us have known about self-publishing for years.

As far as the CNN article goes, it's pretty standard stuff: they have one writer who sold 300 books (above-average for the self-pubbed), one who got a major book deal, and several quotes from gleeful self-pub outfits. I do note that they stuck with reputable POD houses like Lulu and Author Solutions / iUniverse.

What they left out was critical. 80% of books are sold in brick-and-mortar book stores, and POD books can't get into book stores. Why? They are not returnable. Every book in a book store can be returned to the publisher for full credit, no questions asked.

At any rate, the CNN article was an interesting take from the mainstream media on the self-published / POD world.

New Review Site: Dawson Vosburg

The POD (Print On-Demand) Journal of Dawson Vosburg

New site Hosts 1.8 Million Author Web Pages

From Publishers Weekly, 3/25/2009 1:17:00 PM

A new Web site that features 1.8 million author Web pages has been launched by Filedby, Inc., a new company founded by former Ingram executive Peter Clifton and industry analyst Mike Shatzkin. host Web pages that provides a brief biography and a list of works for all American and Canadian authors. Users can login and write reviews or make comments about authors. Authors, or their publishers, can update or link to the page.

Clifton noted that filedby was intentionally designed to highlight authors rather than books. “It helps make authors discoverable,” Clifton said. In addition to the social networking aspects of the site, there are links enabling users to buy the book. Filedby will host the site for free, but will charge a fee for authors or publishers who want to add more options such as media postings, event listings and online press kits. Clifton believes that with publishers looking to cut costs, filedby provides an inexpensive way to give authors a Web presence.

We all know that web presence is extremely important for any author. I don't advocate wild spending sprees for the purchase of a dot com: in most cases your Internet service provider can give you ample space for free. This site is also free to authors who have published a book and have a valid ISBN, so it's worth a look. I thought the pages were nice, simple, easy to look at, and for additional fees, of course, authors can add other services to their page. -- cannegardner

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Author Solutions Buys Trafford

From Business News:
In its second acquisition so far this year, print-on-demand publisher Author Solutions Inc. said it has acquired the assets of Trafford Publishing, a Canadian self-publisher, for an undisclosed sum.
Wow ... I feel like I am back working in banking. -- cannegardner

Friday, April 03, 2009

Avoid Getting Lost in the Pile

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Three authors have secured publishing deals after being discovered on internet ‘slush pile’ Authonomy. GILES NEWINGTON asks if this is the future for aspiring writers
‘BEAT THE SLUSH” – that’s the slogan, or the promise, of website, aimed at writers whose unsolicited manuscripts would otherwise sit unwelcomed and unread for many months before, usually, getting the most cursory of glances from junior publishing house staff.
Set up last year by editors at HarperCollins as a means of democratising the publishing process (or of using the reading public to do their talent-spotting for them), the venture now appears to have borne fruit, with the announcement of five-figure publishing deals for three authors discovered on the online slush pile."

Read Full Article here, and take it for what you will.