Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Orphan's Tale, by Pam Jenoff - A BIG Winner!

I have now basically read 3 novels about circuses in recent years:  Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, and, now, The Orphan's Tale.  This one is clearly the best, IMHO.  My Goodreads friend and fellow blogger, Melissa ( recommended it.  And she is responsible for recommending to me Sarah Jio, Karma Brown, among others.  Plus, between the time Melissa strongly suggested TOT and the time I started reading it, I saw it crop up on a bunch of other blogsites, all with very high ratings.

And now, As the French would say, Le blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby.  She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep...  When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her.  And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid.  At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond.  But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another - or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

I really liked this book a whole lot.  Do you remember the beginning of Water for Elephants when Jacob is speaking as an old man?  Well that happens here too.  In the Prologue, the protagonist is 89 years old.  The entire rest of the book takes place in 1944, until the Epilogue.  When I finished the book, I did something that I can't remember doing before - I reread the Prologue.  It obviously made an impression on me.

In TOT, I realized, once again, that I really like stories that take place during WWII; especially when I learn something that I didn't know (as you might imagine, this happens pretty regularly!).  In this case, I learned about circuses in Europe (here, specifically Germany).  And about how some circuses actually hid Jews from the Germans.  As much as I liked The Nightingale, Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Grey, and even All the Light We Cannot See, The Orphan's Tale gets the edge.  In fact, I'm thinking a 3.75/4.  But I might have to create the 1st 3.875/4.  I know that seems kind of ridiculous, but I do have a 3.625/4.  So, why not?  Let's do it.

I definitely ran the gamut of emotions in this one.  But besides the tears (some of them major), raised eyebrows, intakes of breath, chills, OMGs, and jaw drops, I also felt some major tension in certain spots.  This is not the kind of tension that you feel in a murder/espionage mystery, where the detective/undercover officer/CIA agent is chasing down the bad guy.  It's more tension that is actually worry.  You will know what I mean after you finish the book.

And speaking of finishing the book, make sure you read both the Author's Note and A Conversation with Pam Jenoff.  They will give you some very valuable insights into this period of time along with Pam's influences in writing the book.  How often do I tell you to do that?  Not often.  In this case, it's really important.

Make sure you get this one into your TBR pile.  And put it near the top.  I know you will be happy you did.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Inside Scoop on Copyediting from an Expert

Have you ever wondered what a copy editor does?  And do you know the difference between copyediting, content editing, and proofreading? If yes, great.  If no, or not sure, then you're in luck.  Leslie Hoffman has taken the time to educate us.  Here is an interview with Leslie:

1. How did you decide to become a copy editor, and are you local to the Bay Area?
The truth is that I never made a conscious decision to work as a copy editor. Copyediting chose me. As a member of Saratoga High School’s first graduating class of 1962, English and Typing were my favorite classes.

2. How long have you been a copy editor?
In 1961, Sherman Miller, Owner-Publisher, hired me to type The Saratoga News. That’s right; I “typed” the weekly newspaper on an IBM Executive, while simultaneously proofreading the copy, prior to the text being typeset for printing.

3. What training did you need to be ready for working as a copy editor?
I worked as an executive assistant for several years prior to earning a degree in civil engineering technology, with a minor in technical writing. Living in Sonoma County at the time inspired me to follow through with my desire to write something more creative than business letters and technical reports, so I joined a local writing group. During the late ’90s, PenHouseInk solicited submissions and published annual anthologies. This was my first experience working closely with authors. I’d finally discovered my niche. Then in 2003, I moved to Las Vegas to live near my grandchildren where I joined the Henderson Writers’ Group. One night after our critique session, a few of the members suggested that I begin working as a proofreader and copy editor. The thought of getting paid for what I loved doing inspired a next-day order of business cards.

4. How do you promote yourself, and do you copyedit for anybody besides authors?
I’m fortunate in that the Henderson Writers were a captive group of authors. At the time, there were few freelance editors in Las Vegas and even fewer who edited fiction. Most of my new clients continue to be Southern Nevada referrals, but I’ve worked for two members of the South Bay Writers. And yes, I continue to edit letters and documents for businesses and non-profit groups.

5. Do you copy edit both fiction and nonfiction?
I work with fiction and nonfiction. The editing of fiction, however, I consider a continuous learning process. Grammatical rules [and my personal opinions] aside, guidelines for the writing of fiction are often subjective, as “style” is unique to the author.

6. Can you give us the names of some of the authors you have copyedited for?
I’d be proud to share all of my authors with your readers, but the following are a few recent publications authored by return clients:

Tamburlaine (2017), a novel by Gregory A. Kompes
The Middle Man (2015), a novel by Gregory A. Kompes, Winner: 2016 San
          Francisco Book Festival - Gay Fiction  
Alabama Blue (2016), a memoir by Toni Pacini
Beware of Memories (2016), a novel by Darlien C. Breeze
Mission in Berlin, JJ Bennett: Junior Spy (2016), YA novel by Alba Arango
Writer’s Bloc V-VII, Las Vegas Valley Author’s Showcase (2014-16)
Caesura 2015, The Journal of Poetry Center San Jose—Co-Editor
Flying Without A Net (2012 & 2016), a memoir by Vital Germaine
7. What's the difference between proofreading, copyediting, and content editing?
Authors who seek traditional publishing need to meet the editing standards of their chosen publisher or literary agent and adhere to their submission guidelines. The editing process is equally important when self-publishing. A published book will only be as clean as the skill level of its editor/proofreader and the author’s ability or willingness to accept and correctly transfer those edits onto the formatted manuscript prior to printing.

Before hiring an editor, decide which type of edit you require—content, copy/line, or proof. These can be separate people or combined, but few can do all three skills well, especially not simultaneously.

Substantive/Content Development: For fiction or nonfiction, but especially for novels, this type of editor is consulted first. A substantive editor critiques your writing with emphasis on content, style, technique, organization, and presentation of the complete text.

Copy/Line: Consult this editor next to do a line-by-line proof. A copy editor looks for typos, misspellings, punctuation and grammatical errors, clarity, flow, and consistency of text. If extensive rewrites are necessary, repeat this process prior to submission.

Proofread: Prior to final printing, a proofreader reviews the galley for typos, misspellings, and punctuation, grammatical, and semantic errors.

Once an editor is selected, a Standard Editorial Agreement (contract) is advisable for both client and editor that specifies editorial tasks, deadline(s), method of payment, and any special requests.

“An editor neither selects nor impels. An editor can only suggest; the story belongs to the writer.”   ~ Author Unknown

Leslie E. Hoffman, Copy Editor

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Another Successful RBC Meeting

This past Wednesday night, we had our March RBC meeting.  Terry Shames, author of a series featuring a 60s-something retired sheriff from a small town in Texas, came to talk about book 1 - A Killing at Cotton Hill.  Here is the report I sent to the RBC members:

So let me begin a recap of Wednesday night by telling you that 16 RBC members read and rated the book.  And the average score was 3.675.  That is outrageously high.  Everybody liked it.  In fact, Terry brought a number of other books in the series that sold like proverbial hotcakes.  And on top of all that, she was super interesting.  She answered our questions and added a few on-point anecdotes for emphasis.  It was a very enjoyable evening.

Just a couple of notes from Terry:
1.  Sophie Littlefield (who once came to Village House of Books) and Sheldon Siegel (who is coming to the RBC at Recycle Books in October) were both huge inspirations for Terry when she was starting out.
2.  Terry said the average number of books that authors write before getting anything published is 8-9.  For Terry it was a mere 6.
3.  Terry also said that her grandfather was her inspiration for the chief protagonist, and that her son was the inspiration for the prequel, which just came out a couple of months ago.

Here are a couple of pics from the meeting:

Next Meeting:  We actually have 2 meetings in April.  Katie Hafner, author of the memoir Mother Daughter Me, was supposed to come late last year but had to cancel.  She is now rescheduled for Wednesday, April 26.  And our regularly scheduled April author, Susan Sherman, author of If You Are There, will be coming on Thursday, April 20.  This is a very exciting month!

VHoB:  Village House of Books in Los Gatos closed its doors this past Tuesday, March 21.  If there is any hopeful news, it's that they are looking for another location.  Let's all hope they find one.  None of us want to see any independent bookstore going out of business.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez by Sheldon Siegel - Book 8

I find it harder and harder to stick with series.  As I meet more and more local authors, I am willing to give up some of the series I have been reading through the years.  BUT NOT MIKE AND ROSIE! Sheldon Siegel's legal murder mystery series has been one of my favorites for a very long time.  So when Sheldon finally came out with #8, I was all over that puppy.  And Felony Murder Rule didn't disappoint.

Like most series, the plot is not very important.  Each book has Mike and Rosie defending somebody who is involved in a murder.  So you not only get a crime to solve.  But you also get courtroom drama.  Having myself gone through an unsuccessful law school career (you don't want to know!), I'm always fascinated by what goes on in court.  And since Sheldon is a lawyer, the courtroom action rings true.

One of my favorite parts of all the books in this series is the humor.  I have read 2 other series that combine the legal murder mystery drama with humor - Brian Haig's Sean Drummond and David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter.  Sheldon's Mike and Rosie are part of that triumvirate.  I appreciate an author who can make you laugh without taking away from the drama of the story.  Sheldon has now done it 8 times (plus 1 David Gold detective mystery that takes place in Chicago).

There's a lot of stuff that I like about this book, along with the entire series.  Let me briefly (yeah, right) list some:

1.  I feel like I know the family - especially Mike, Rosie, Pete, and Grace. We get introduced to some and reintroduced to others in this book. Welcome to the clan Rolanda, Big John, Melinda, and Thomas.
2.  Although this book will appeal to anybody living anywhere, I still enjoy the local references.  Having lived my entire life in the Bay Area, it's fun to read about places that I know so well.
3.  I am a big fan of legalspeak.  And there's plenty of it.  But it actually enhances the story.  It's never too detailed to detract.
4.  I've already mentioned the humor.  Mike's asides crack me up.
5.  Sheldon makes some really cool comparisons that you definitely don't see every day.  Here are a couple:
-The first thing you learn as a baby prosecutor is that you always point at the defendant.  It's sort
of like throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.
-He'd worked his way up the criminal ladder in the Tenderloin on an expedited basis - sort of like
the kids who get their MBAs in a year and a half by going to summer school - except the 
curriculum is different.

And then there are the ubiquitous personal connections.  I know, I know.  Just indulge me.

1.  Mike's brother went to Cal.  So did I.  And I think we were there around the same time (yes, I know that his brother is a fictional character...or is he?)
2.  Mike and Rosie now work for the San Francisco County Public Defender's Office.  One of my sons-in-law works for the Public Defender's Office too (not SF County).
3.  There is a situation in which a video taken by a random passerby affects a lawsuit.  My PD son-in-law was involved in a very famous case a few years ago that happened because of a video from a random observer.  You have to admit that this is more interesting than most of my personals, right?

This book has no faults (okay, Sheldon does refer to the 101 freeway as "the 101" one time.  I mean, that is a Southern California nomenclature. But we will forgive him...this once).  It's fun and interesting.  And I strongly recommend that you start with book 1, Special Circumstances. It won't take you long to get to #8.

P.S.  Sheldon is our RBC author for October.  He will be coming to Recycle Books on Sunday, October 22.  Get it on your calendar!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

GREEN APPLE BOOKS - The Interview - Part 2

Last night, you saw a whole mess of pictures of Green Apple Books' 2 locations.  Tonight, you get to read how Pete Mulvihill came to own GAB and a few insights into how they operate their stores.  P.S.  If you haven't been to Green Apple Books yet, make a point of getting there.  Tie it in to dinner in the City, like I did.  You will be REALLY happy you got there. Without further palaver from yours (un)truly, heeeeeeeeerrrrrrr's Pete:

1.      How did you end up owning Green Apple Books?
I started as a temp in 1993 right after college.  I worked for the bookkeeper in the office for a few months, then the receiving department.  I went to grad school part-time, never imagining that bookselling would be my career.  But after a few years, the original owner approached me and another employee about buying the store.  We added a third partner, negotiated an owner-financed buyout, and gradually acquired the store. 

 2.    How long have you owned Green Apple Books?
We took over running the store day-to-day in about 2000.

3.    How many events do you host in a year?
The flagship store on Clement only does about a dozen events a year in-store.  Space is limited.  But our Sunset store, Green Apple Books on the Park, does about 75-100 events each year.

4.    Do you have a social media  and/or event coordinator?
I suppose i"m the social media coordinator, but we have different folks working on different platforms.  And we do have an events coordinator for each store, though those folks also do other things, from running the register to publicity.

5.    How do you pick your authors for the store?
For Clement, we mostly only do local authors.  At Books on the Park, we skew towards literature in translation, small presses, promising debuts writers, and books we just plain love. 

6.    Do you work through publishers, publicists, editors, et al?
We do; we go to NYC each year to meet publishing people who hold the keys. 

7.    Do you have book clubs, kids’ activities, YA groups, etc.?
Not regularly.  

8.    Are you a Bay Area native?
No.  I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.  But I moved here right after college, married an SF native, and have two kids who are natives!

9.    Did you grow up a bibliophile?
Yep, though I didn't think of myself that way.  Reading was just part of every night, part of discovering the world beyond my suburb. We were library kids. 

10.  How many stores do you have?   
Two, for now.  Want to buy one?

Monday, March 20, 2017

GREEN APPLE BOOKS - Pictures - Part 1 (stay tuned for an interview - part 2)

I had the pleasure of visiting Green Apple Books in San Francisco this past Saturday night.  It was my 1st visit to their store (plus I stopped in at location #2).  And I came away extremely impressed.  So I've got a whole bunch of pictures to share with you.  Part 2 will be an interview with the store's owner, Pete Mulvihill.  Enjoy!

Flagship store - 506 Clement Street:

Satellite store - 1231 9th Avenue:

When I popped into #2, there was an author event going on.  Very cool.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quick Hitters - Part Deux

Here is the 2nd part of the Quick Hitters (yeah, I didn't know either that there was going to be a Part Deux):

1.  You know how I'm always referring to my TBR (to be read) pile?  Well, I finally decided to really take a look at what's sitting there.  Here are the different categories of books comprising my TBR pile as of today:

local authors - 11
authors asking me to read their books - 2
recommendations from friends - 4
recommendations from fellow bloggers - 3
recommendations from my Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Book Club - 1
recommendations from RBC members - 2
upcoming Los Gatos Library Tuesday Night Book Club - 1
gift from Recycle Books employee - 1
recommendation from Joni's workmate - 1
authors I like to read - 1
and my favorite category:
I have no idea who recommended it - 1

There are, of course, a number of crossovers.  But I tried to pick the most dominant category.  And, lest you think that the 28 are all I've got, there are another couple dozen in the back of my car!  They have not yet made their way upstairs to my bookshelf.  However, I am counseling them not to give up hope.  Some of these others could be headed down. And then...who know's who/what will replace them?

2.  Tomorrow, Sunday, the 19th, Linda Gunther will be selling and signing her books at Recycle.  I will be there, too, doing my usual recommending.  If you're at the Campbell Farmers Market, stop by.

3.  Our next RBC meeting is this coming Wednesday night, the 22nd. Terry Shames will be there answering questions about book 1 of her Samuel Craddock series.  It's called A Killing at Cotton Hill.  And she will also have the other books in the series available for buying and signing.

4.  I am 93 pages into Sheldon Siegel's latest Mike and Rosie legal thriller.  #8 is called Felony Murder Rule and is Sheldon's usual top notch, engaging writing.  Plus, he is our RBC author for October.  He will be at Recycle on Sunday, the 22nd, at 4:00.  If you haven't read any books in this series, you should start.  They're enormous fun with a lot of humor.  Book 1 is Special Circumstances.  And our assigned book for the book club meeting is #2, Incriminating Evidence.  Once you start, you won't be able to stop.

5.  Finally, our book this month for the Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Night Book Club is Selection Day, by Aravind Adiga.  He is the Man Booker Prize winner for The White Tiger.  Even though I was worried about getting through a book written by an award-winning author(!), I figured that I could gut out 285 pages.  Uh, nope.  I got to 130 and said Buh-Bye. I'd rather miss the meeting than read all 285 pages.

I do not plan on Quick Hitters, Part Trois...but you never know.