I’ve got some great new ARCs – first up this week, Tiger Shrimp Tango by Tim Dorsey:
Determined to save a damsel in distress, the Sunshine State’s favorite serial killer and encyclopedia of Florida lore Serge Storms dances a tango of death and mayhem in this funny and dementedly entertaining crime caper from Tim Dorsey, author of the New York Times bestseller The Riptide, Ultra-Glide
Thanks to the Internet, America has become a playground for ruthless scam artists out to make an easy buck. And where do these models of entrepreneurship hail from? Why, the Sunshine State of course!
No one loves Florida more, or can keep it safe from invasive criminal species better than self-appointed Sunshine Sheriff Serge Storms. When a particular scam leads to the death of a few innocents and a young woman’s disappearance, Serge and his perpetually self-bent sidekick Coleman-aided by his new pal, latter-day noir private eye Mahoney-load up the car for a riotous road trip to do right. Packed with seafood, mayhem, blood, Coleman’s deep thoughts, Floridian lore, and more, Tiger Shrimp Tango is a hilarious treat from the incomparable Tim Dorsey.
Due to my background in Equity-eligible shows and a little movie work, I was keen to learn about auditioning from a casting director’s point of view. So often, performers are left in the dark about those tips for success that go beyond mere etiquette. Could Jen Rudin provide the resources to ace your next audition? As a former casting director for Disney, Ms. Rudin does not disappoint. Her sense of mentorship is displayed through an invitation to share her life on both sides of the casting table. To supplement her experiences, working actors provide testimonials and anecdotes throughout the book.
Confessions of a Casting Director: Help Actors Land Any Role with Secrets from Inside the Audition Room is information dense, but easy to read. The book is an excellent primer or refresher for anyone wanting to get into the business. Essential information on auditions and etiquette are helpful enough that even a veteran performer could obtain a few new tips. Rudin’s commentary spans Broadway to film, pilot season to voice-overs. Notably, there’s also an entire chapter on how to be a good stage mother. Rudin’s advice doesn’t stop with getting your foot in the door. She provides information on living conditions to look for in New York and LA along with having good work habits on the job. Bonus materials throughout include a section on headshots and resumes, “Dos and Don’ts” by industry, and useful websites. Web resources are also correlated in a separate appendix.
The one problem I had with the text was that the anecdotes often seemed to turn into testimonials for Rudin. I felt like this interfered with her warm, honest tone and hinted at shilling. I would love to see a portion of them added to her casting website to enjoy in an appropriate context.
Overall, Confessions of a Casting Director would be an excellent choice for any actor’s library. With paper and eBook versions available, you can review Rudin’s recommendations from your phone while waiting for your audition slot. Her advice also applies to vocalists, Broadway babies, and classical singers. If you want a glimpse into the real world of movies and TV, this is a superb starting point.
My copy of Confessions of a Casting Director was an advanced reader copy, provided free of charge.
~Christine Linial (from Austinista.net)
A friend alerted me to this one, which was a 99-cent Kindle deal. Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition: A Tor.Com Original has some great stuff!
We are thrilled to announce the 2013 edition of Some of the Best from Tor.com, an anthology of twenty-one of our favorite stories, selected from the sixty-plus stories we published this year. This anthology is available world-wide through all major ebook retailers.
These stories were acquired and edited for Tor.com by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Ellen Datlow, Ann VanderMeer, Liz Gorinsky, George R. R. Martin, Noa Wheeler, Melissa Frain, and Claire Eddy. Each story is accompanied by an original illustration.
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist
I do a fair amount of writing and I agree so strongly with this. Writing something smooth and easy to read? Not as easy as it looks.
I was fortunate enough to meet Richard Montanari, author of The Echo Man a few years ago at a book club meeting. What a great event! Not only did we get to read a great book that month (The Rosary Girls) we got to talk with the author about it! I am really looking forward to this new one:
It is fall in Philadelphia and the mutilated body of a man is found in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the city. The victim has been viciously tortured to death. It’s the work of a sadistic mind in free fall. When homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano investigate, they soon realise that their crime scene is linked to the past. Eight years ago, another body was found in the same place, in the same position, killed in the same manner. That case was never closed. Apart from their killer’s unusual calling cards, the crime scene photos – past and present – are identical. As another brutalised body appears, then another, it becomes horrifyingly clear that someone is recreating unsolved murders from Philadelphia’s past in the most sinister of ways. And the killer is closer than they think…
I hope you tweeted your special travel photo in the Paris Letters photo contest. If you haven’t, you’ve still got time and to inspire you, today we’ve got Christine’s review of Paris Letters:
Ah, Paris. While memoirist Janice MacLeod is a seasoned traveler, she’s still enchanted by The City of Light. Paris Letters is her love affair documented through pen and paint. Janice falls in love with freedom, herself, and gains romantic love as a result. This book takes you on her journey.
It’s not all love affairs and macarons, which is one reason I relished the memoir. You’re not given a sanitized version of events under the guise of Janice magically having “good luck.” Instead, you accompany her on a journey of sacrifice and self discovery. In this pilgrimage, Janice successfully learns how to save $100 per day for a full year ($36,000). This process changed her major relationships and fostered her rediscovery of painting. (A list of 100 strategies to save $100 per day is listed in an appendix. It’s an incredible read.)
I also enjoyed the parallels between Janice’s maturing artist’s life and love life. In the initial weeks of her sojourn, she’s scared to use her Canadian French to even say hello to the man she admires (Christophe). By the end, she’s found a way to support herself creatively in a city of art. She discovers a passion for watercolor letters in tandem with her growing love for Christophe (her eventual husband). By overcoming her fears in one realm, she builds mastery in both.
Overall, Paris Letters is filled with joy, art, and personal growth. The watercolor letters are excellent, but can take extra time to load in the eBook edition. It’s worth being patient as an exquisite, jewel-like glimpse into Parisian daily life is the result. In short, a delight. Some readers might be discouraged by the memoir’s broad scope. In defense, the writing is intimate, yet focused throughout. If you find yourself intrigued after reading this short review, you won’t be able to put the book down.
My copy of Paris Letters was an advanced reader copy, provided free of charge.
~Christine Linial (from Austinista.net)
Okay, time to let the authors do the work…today I’ve got a guest post from Rudy Mazzocchi, entrepreneur and author of Storytelling: The Indispensable Art of Entrepreneurism. Mazzocchi established a career buying, building and selling multi-million dollar companies, and he has taken that experience and applied it to his fiction. In Storytelling, Mazzocchi “takes you on a journey which reveals how the development, progressive modification and adaptation of your story is the golden thread and foundational core management practice which ties together all the others.” Today, he’s talking about why he writes. Check this out:
By Rudy A. Mazzocchi
It’s not my nature to be cynical, but does it really matter that I published two novels and a non-fiction business book? I mean… really? Does the world need a couple more thrillers and yet another book about being an entrepreneur? Am I any better off having spent the last three years of my life researching, writing, editing, pushing and promoting these three books? Is the world a better place now that I’ve told my stories to the couple of thousand readers who picked up these books? I don’t think so. So why do we do it?
It’s actually amazing how the human brain continually needs to consume data. Data for the sake of knowledge, for entertainment, and even for self-gratification. The overweight husband sitting on the couch might feed that need by watching Monday Night Football… fascinated by not only the action, but by the flurry of statistics flashed on the screen that helps supplement the story of the game. Meanwhile, his wife might be off on an adjacent lounge chair, absorbing the massive amount of insignificant data provided by her People Magazine. We all have that innate need for mental stimulation.
Now let’s apply this to writers and readers. As a published author, I satisfy my needs by obtaining and processing new data and constructing it such a way as to create a unique set of characters and stories that may be appealing to someone seeking data to stimulate their own mind. It’s a way for us both (the writer and the reader) to detach from the reality of our daily lives. It’s not only a biological need, but one that applies the basic elements of economics. I produce a product, and someone buys it. This has been the essence of our human society since the beginning of time.
However, am I really making an impact in anyone’s life by writing a book? I suppose some folks out there might take away something of value from my stories, but let’s face it… once they’re finished, they’ll simply find another compelling book to read… one that may have a different impact on them that eradicates any morsel of data that may have been temporarily attained from my writings. So… who really cares?
Oh sure, once in a while a book comes along that everyone believes they need to read. Books ranging from Harry Potter to Fifty Shades of Grey will always somehow be picked up by the press and marketed aggressively, regardless of the quality of their content, while other spectacular literary works go undetected by the masses. So who cares how much heart, sweat and anguish might go into getting your novel published? Is it really worth it?
Well, for this author, it is worth every single stroke of the key board. Yes, it not only satisfies my needs to obtain, process and construct, but it provides great gratification of accomplishing a task. That couch-potato may obtain short-term gratification of watching his team play on Monday night, but what did he accomplish? Burning up another lost evening? The consumption of another thousand calories he really didn’t need? How about the reader who just finished another reading the trilogy of Fifty Shades of Grey? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, those readers have also accomplished a task. Completing the journey that any book or story provides is a true accomplishment.
Although my novels have won a few literary awards, and several readers have sent me their copies for signature, the only one who truly cares about this published accomplishment is me! Writers need to write for themselves, just as readers need to read a particular genre of personal interest. I can only hope that promotional efforts result in a greater awareness, and some sort of brand recognition, sufficiently to reach as many readers as possible so this writer, and you as the reader, can accomplish a shared journey together.
Rudy and his books:
You can learn more about both my fiction and non-fiction books here on my website: http://www.rudymazzocchi.com and my blog site:http://rudymazzocchi.
In addition, I periodically post on my Author Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/
And finally, for all the business folks out there, I’m also constantly expanding my network on LinkedIN: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/
Check back later this week for a review of Paris Letters by Janice McLeod – in the meantime, check out this contest – you could win a one-of-a-kind painting based on your special travel photo! Check this out:
Sometimes, I read a book and I think, “this would make a great movie!” Sometimes, I don’t want to see the movie, because I know that film and CGI will never match the story in my head. In the case of Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, I’m not sure I want to see the movie, because I don’t think Hollywood will get it right.
Labor Day is not a love story – at least, it didn’t read that way to me. It’s a story about a boy, barely a teenager with a lot more on his plate than any kid should have to handle. One long, hot holiday weekend, everything in his life is going to change, for better or worse, and it all depends on Henry.
You’ve seen the movie ads by now, and I hope to heaven that if an escaped convict ever shows up at my door, he looks like Josh Brolin. Frank has escaped from prison, where he was held for a particularly brutal crime, and everyone is looking for him. But at the end of the country road where Henry lives with his mother, Adele, there is a drama playing out quietly, behind lace curtains, that has nothing to do with the violence in Frank’s life.
Frank is a quiet man, a man who can bake a peach pie, a man who can teach an uncoordinated boy to throw a baseball. You can’t imagine him as an inmate, accused of murder, staging his escape. He is polite to Adele and Henry, making sure that they cannot be held responsible if he is found. Henry is drawn to him, lacking a real father figure in his life, but the attraction between Adele and Frank is powerful and immediate. They are two people who can’t leave the house – Adele held captive by her fears and her broken heart, Frank both captor and captive – and, as the ads say, they make a world for themselves within its walls.
Henry has no idea how to process all of this. He has a desperate loyalty to his mother – he knows that she’s not right, that she doesn’t react like other mothers and they don’t live like other families – and she depends on him. This is a side of her that he has never seen, and like any child who sees his parent drawn to another adult, he is afraid of being left out, left behind. As the temperature rises and the weekend draws to a close, he will have a choice to make and that choice will change the lives of everyone he loves. The story is really about Henry and what goes on in the mind of a thirteen year old boy who is watching his mother fall in love.
I really, really enjoyed this book – devoured it on one flight and a late evening in my hotel – but it may have spoiled the movie for me. I’ve read that Maynard had a lot of input into the film, but as much as I was touched by the blossoming love between these two damaged people, I don’t want to see it turned into a typical Hollywood love story. This is Henry’s story, and I hope he’s able to tell it.
My advice? Read the book. Then decide about the movie.
My copy of Labor Day was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.