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Showing posts from February, 2016

Book review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I like books with clever premises that actually deliver. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is one. It asks the question of what if you’re not the chosen one, but just a normal person living your ordinary life next to them. It has two stories in one: a Buffy-style high school urban fantasy of special people who battle vampires and gods trying to take over the world, and a coming of age story of a group of ordinary high school students who battle more personal problems that are every bit as devastating in their own way.

The first story is told in a summary at the beginning of every chapter and is referred to only fleetingly in the actual story. The main focus of the book is on Mike, the first person narrator, and his family and friends who are preparing for graduation – provided that the gods don’t blow up the school before that. They are aware of the odd things happening around them and can’t escape from getting involved in them too, but surviving an apocalypse isn’t quite a…

Who owns ideas anyway?

Earlier this week authors around the world where bemused for learning that Sherrilyn Kenyon, the author of Dark-Hunter series, has sued Cassandra Clare, of The Mortal Instruments fame, for copyright infringement, basically for using an idea she regards as uniquely her own. Their fans obviously took sides, but authors seemed to hold the opinion that she doesn’t have a case. No one owns ideas.
We’ve all been there. We’ve written a book, thinking we’ve created a unique piece of literature unparalleled to anything else, only to realise that someone has beaten us to it. And they’ve probably done it better too. We’re gobsmacked, unable to fathom how our brilliant idea could have occurred to another person and on another side of the world even.
The answer may be simple. There are only a limited number of stories that we’ve duplicated and varied over millennia. Maybe there are only four stories, like Paul Coelho maintains, or a couple of thousand, but “the same elements used in much the same…

Authors and social media

When new (or experienced) authors look for advice on how to make social media work for them, they find two conflicting opinions: You need to have a solid social media presence in order to sell books, but also that social media doesn’t sell books. Both are true. The gist of all the advice is this: You need to be social on social media in order for it to work for you. It’s not always easy to engage people on various platforms, but some are easier than others. People often comment on blog posts or posts on Facebook, but those seldom lead to conversations that build the kinds of social relationships that would advance the author’s sales. This is mainly because the person commenting is a ’visitor’ on the author’s space; they are not ’equal’ there. Also, people having the conversation are seldom present at the same time. Moreover, it’s difficult to engage more people in one conversation, so they die quickly.



So far, Twitter has been good at making social media social. The immediacy of Twitt…

Age-inappropriate reading?

I had a good visit to the library today. I found three books that I actually want to read, not mere fillers I borrow because I don’t want to return home empty handed. They all come from the new arrivals’ shelf – always a delight when I can snatch something up first. My haul is The Rest of Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, Angel of Storms by Trudy Canavan, and Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier. What they have in common is that they’re fantasy of one kind or another – and that they’re all meant for young or young adult readers.

Having chosen, once again, exclusively from the youth department, I was inspired to revisit an old post that I wrote as a reaction to an article that appeared in Slate in 2014. The writer, Ruth Graham, was of opinion (probably still is?) that adults “should feel embarrassed” when what they’re reading is written for children. Not because the books are bad – she discards the obviously bad books and concentrates on those with literary merit. She objects to them be…