Category Archives: review

Great Review for The Juliet; New FB Page; Big Week Ahead

Hi all–the old MacBook Pro up and died, so I went out and got one of those lovely new MacBooks–rose gold, 2 pounder. It came with an educator’s discount plus a pair of Beats headphones for free, so I’m having fun.

Jen Michalski posted a fantastic review of The Juliet up at her lit zine, JMWW. I love this bit:

Scott is at her best when she opens the doors of the institution and lets her crazies sprint out of the gate. No one is spared: semi-incestuous adult male twins (who in Scott’s late Victorian era are the equivalent of Steampunk bronys), 1970s rock star groupies, desert meth lab kingpins, turn-of-the century Gold Rush enthusiasts, Avon decanter collectors, and every half-screwed mayonnaise jar of schemer in between.

Jen’s own novel, The Tide King, was a big influence on The Juliet, so to see her kind words is very rewarding.

My Facebook Author page seems to be humming along, with more the 100 likes already. I was skeptical about an Author page separate from my personal page, but so far it has been super fun. I already over-do FB, so it’s nice to have another place to post stupid pics like this one:

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That’s BooBooKitty. She’s horrible. She’s sitting on my new pink office chair (goes with the new laptop).

Finally, another heads up about the blog tour which launches TOMORROW. I’m so excited. I think this is the schedule:

Lovely Bookshelf http://www.lovelybookshelf.com 7/11/2016
Lectito http://lectito.me/ 7/12/2016
A Literary Vacation https://aliteraryvacation.blogspot.com/ 7/12/2016
Rainbow of Books https://rainbowofbooks.wordpress.com 7/13/2016
Alternating Current http://alt-current.blogspot.com/ 7/13/2016
Historical Fiction Excerpts http://historicalfictionexcerpts.blogspot.com/ 7/14/2016
The Book Wheel http://www.thebookwheelblog.com/ 7/14/2016
Grab the Lapels https://grabthelapels.com/ 7/15/2016
History from a Woman’s Perspective http://www.historywomanperspective.com/ 7/15/2016

Cheers! Have a peaceful Sunday–

LES

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Wild Ride! Yesterday’s Giveaway, Ghost Town Fun, and a SWEET Review

Not sure there’s a better word for it, but Yeehaw. Yesterday was the Kindle giveaway for The Juliet, and it was a huge success, especially as the book grabbed the #1 spot in Historical Fiction >Mystery, Thriller & Suspense and did not let go for quite a while. It hit #240 in overall ebooks, and today it’s climbing steady at $5.99. As I write this, paying customers have sent The Juliet to #150 in Historical Fiction >Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, and we cracked the 20k barrier in overall ranking, which my publisher says puts the book in the top .6% of all ebooks. Full disclosure: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH THAT INFORMATION, LOL.

So obviously, the free day was effective, but only because of the support of Pandamoon’s Promotion Team and my lovely friends, who social-mediaed the hell out the book. Special Thank You to Panda Sister, Penni Jones, who posted a terrific review of The Juliet that gives a great sense of the book’s twists and turns.  Also thanks to the Rude Pundit, who in comparing me to a “Stoner Dickens,” may have introduced me to a whole new audience of potty-mouthed ranters of the highest quality.

Finally, this neat little article showed up in my FB feed today. It’s about Rhyolite, Nevada, the ghost town that was the inspiration for The Juliet’s fictional ghost town of Centenary.

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Blurbs, Blurrgh

Last week was Spring break, but I was doing anything but relaxing. We finished the last round of edits on The Juliet mid-week, and I was panicking about the blurbs that hadn’t come in. See, everything was on track for there to be physical books delivered in time for the Northern Virginia launch at One More Page Books on March 25, but no one told our chief book wrangler that I had a DC launch schedule for two days earlier at Upshur St. Books (yes, both shops are ones that the President has visited on his annual holiday shopping tour). To make that deadline we had to send off the book files at least a day earlier than planned, and by 6:30pm Thursday night I was frantically refreshing my email, hoping that my blurbers would come through.

A quick note on blurbs—the jury is still out as to whether they have any effect on selling your book, but their appearance certainly lends an air of legitimacy to your art. Asking for and collecting them is sort of terrifying and embarrassing—Please read my book and say you love it in public? Writing them isn’t so bad, but I spend too much time crafting those one or two sentences that will permanently adorn a book’s cover, like a tattoo. I can’t imagine how I’d react if someone asked for a blurb turnaround time of only a week. Which is what I did.

So at 7:00pm Thursday night, Art Taylor was commencing a panel at the Burke Centre library, where he would lead a discussion about literary and genre fiction publishing experiences. The panel included me, Tara Laskowski, and Steve Weddle. Just as Art was doing the introductions, I received a blurb—a really fab one—and I frantically copied and pasted it into a message to the publisher, typing on my iPad, which I held under the table, which wasn’t all that clandestine seeing as there was no skirting. Everyone in the audience could see what I was doing, and the only one who couldn’t was Art. Sorry, Art.

From there we all had a great session, but I don’t think we talked lit vs. genre as much as Art had planned. The audience–bigger than I had expected—was mostly writers with significant experience, including several members of the local Sisters in Crime chapter, so we mainly talked about our different paths to publishing. Art has been successful in selling his short stories to commercial crime magazines, Steve Weddle works with an agent, and Tara and I are having truly positive experiences working directly with our publishers.

Once I got home, the next amazing blurb arrived, and by morning the final blurb. They are all so wonderful, and were produced so quickly, I can’t help but feel that I’ve got some serious karma to work off. So once all the blurbs were sent off and the information is updated on my various pages, there isn’t much more for me to do for The Juliet until the book actually comes out.

Which is NEXT WEEK. And if you can’t wait until then you can order a print copy directly from CreateSpace, NOW.

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Yaroos! Reviews Death Wishing: 5 Stars

Completely out of the blue, reviewer Joe Taylor from Yaroos! Books For Young Adults began tweeting his admiration for Death Wishing, and today he’s posted his review, awarding it Five Stars. I should ask him how my book fits into the Yaroos! world (it is tagged “Adult literature” in the site), but in the mean time I’ll just enjoy the praise.

For those readers who venture out with a book in public be warned: This book is laughing-out-loud-to-the-point-of-embarrassment, funny.–Joe Taylor

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Jason Zapata’s Review of Death Wishing

I believe I met Mr. Zapata at Scranton PA’s Pages & Places Book festival in October 2011 where I conducted a brief discussion session about fiction writing and publishing. If he’s the gent I’m thinking of, we had a lively post-session discussion about his interests in history, fantasy, and science fiction, and in particular, the concept behind Death Wishing. I’ve always been particularly interested in the opinions of genre enthusiasts. I mean, they’ve seen it all.

Well, on New Year’s Day, Mr. Z’s review of Death Wishing went live on his blog. Starts out comparing it to a Coen Brothers film and ends by comparing me to Palahniuk. Can’t ask for better way to start off the year. I am inspired.

 

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Press 53 Annual Anthologies

Note–I had been assigned the Press 53 2011 Open Award Anthology to review for a friend’s site, but then when the friend and his partner placed very highly in the 2011 and 2012 Awards, things got, er, weird. So I’m posting my quickie review here, if only to shed some light on what may be the hardest working indie outfit in lit biz:

As we move through the final quarter of 2012, I notice a lot of great writers announcing their book acceptances from North Carolina’s prolific Press 53. Not only that, the award ceremony for the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards was held recently—with our own Art Taylor taking top honors in the Flash Fiction category. All of which reminded me to return to my unintentionally neglected copy of the 2011 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, a collection of the previous year’s winners and runners up in Poetry, Flash Fiction, Short-short Story, Short Story, Creative Nonfiction, and Novella.

We are in a moment where we’ve come to expect a literary collection to demonstrate a theme or at least a palpable editorial vision, so it seems especially risky to produce an eclectic volume like the 2011 Anthology, or any in the Press 53 Award series. Each category is judged by its own rock star, like Stefanie Freele, Chris Offut, and Sherrie Flick, and there is no theme or reason other than some desire for excellence. That sort of thing can’t work anymore, can it?

Looks like it can. Even without editorial consensus on the matter, the selections in the 2011 Press 53 Award Anthology are delightful. And curiously, they are united by the priority of image and immediacy. Here’s a quick sample of opening lines:

 Carson stood outside the barn and stared down at the dead dog.

                                                –from “Laid to Rest” by Ray Morrison

Stark, white-washed wood,

tin roofs; brick chimney-boxes

set squarely between two rooms.

                                                –from “Slaves’ Cabins” by Karen M. Peluso

The French Lieutenant and I are riding beside one another in a rattletrap, 30 year old, Soviet-made cargo helicopter.

                                    –from “The French Lieutennant’s iPod” by Ron Capps

Grady bears the black bullwhip coiled in one hand.

                                    –from “Wands” by Alexander Lumans

 How does he know, this man with the shovel? How does he know that this is the spot?

                                                –from “A Spot of Certain Darkness” by Kathleene Donahoo

Not that these are rude starts, but they are far from polite, and that’s a wonderful thing. The reader is located at once, after which comes the absorptive, emotional experience. It’s true, there isn’t much experiment going on in these pages, but there is a good amount of play, and an even greater amount of passion. You might even say that 2011 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology is unfashionably reader-oriented. Well then, good for Press 53, good for the prizewinners and runners up, and good for us.

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Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons

October is usually Tara Laskowski Month, partly because her birthday falls on Halloween, a time of year everyone seems up for a lot of partying, probably to build up strength for the family time at the end of the year. Tara is the senior editor over at Smokelong Quarterly, and she and I work at the same university. This year, there’s extra Tara attention because her first book, the hilarious and wicked Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons has been released by Matter Press. Full of biting little mock essays about coping with one’s own dark weaknesses, Manners is a satire of self-help books, and you are going to love it. The delightful cover art is by Brandon Wicks. A book release party will be held at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA, Saturday October 27 at 5pm. OMP is a great store that also sells chocolate and wine. Come on out!

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Death Wishing Reviewed in The Ampersand Review

Maybe Death Wishing will turn out to be the little novel that could. The book tour season was energetic, followed by a sleepy summer of putting together a collection of short stories, and now I am really pleased to see that my novel, which came out last October, is still on some reader’s minds. Here’s an excerpt from a new review by Joseph Clifford  from The Ampersand Review that takes a tough look at the novel’s post-Katrina context:

Katrina made us look at American life differently, and not just in terms of FEMA (here lampooned by the T-shirt Victor wears: Find Every Mexican Available).  However undesirable, catastrophe presents the opportunity to evolve.  This is certainly what happens with Victor, who comes to realize that his love for Pebbles betrays selfishness; the higher calling demands altruism and guidance.

Reviews and other kinds of press coverage, at this late stage in the life of a novel, are wonderful. But I’m also really surprised and pleased by the folks who are coming up to me and saying things like, “We were talking about your book at dinner last night,” or “I read it during the heatwave,” or “I miss Victor.” This was what I was going for, but never expected to happen.

“Bad Traffic,” by Matt Rowan & “Women of God,” by Tawnysha Greene

cover image from  Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)

 

I want to draw your attention to two very short stories that popped up on Monday. The first is Mat Rowan’s “Bad Traffic,” which was my Smokelong Weekly pick. When the next Smokelong Quarterly issue appears, the story will be accompanied by my interview with Matt. The second story I want to point you to is Tawnysha Greene’s “Women of God,” appearing in A-Minor. This story comes from her dissertation, and mark my words, the publisher who picks up the full collection will be a lucky little lizard indeed.

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Death Wishing Reviewed in The Collagist

So thrilled to see a review of Death Wishing in The Collagist this month by Marshall Yarbrough. Yarbrough says wonderful things like, “Scott pulls off wonders with her novel’s twisted scenarios. They are funhouse mirrors, warped enough to hold our attention but not so distorted that we don’t fail to recognize ourselves.” He also writes about the relationship between the extraordinary and the ordinary is a major theme of the novel, and that’s quite true, but it got me to thinking how that theme asserted itself organically while I was writing. Does anyone plan these things?

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