Friday, October 29, 2010

Always Have a Disclaimer - Just in Case

I have two primary rules of life.
Number one: Why stand when you can sit, why sit when you can lie down, and why be awake when you can be asleep?
Number Two:  Begin every project with a disclaimer.  Just in case.
My usual disclaimer is “It’s not my fault, and I’m standing by that until the evidence against me is incontrovertible, indisputable, and irrefutable.  And then, it’s still not my fault.”
The disclaimer stands for this missive.  It is possible, even probable that I will miss someone when assembling this list.  Hey – I’m an old guy and easily confused, in which case, “it’s not my fault!”
Several years back, I discovered my first self-published book.  I was a member of a large online writers group, and one of the members posted a message offering a free pre-publication edition of a book he had written, and only asked for a review in return.  That’s writer talk for ‘editing help’ and ‘publicity’.
That first book was All the Guys are Bad Guys by Ned Lord, published by Sneakaboard Press.  ISBN 0-9774767-0-7.  It’s available at Amazon.  It was actually a pretty good read.  Ned has gone on to write several more books, all of which are available at Amazon or Sneakaboard.
My whole point in this is that self-published is not necessarily synonymous with badly written.  In fact my personal experience is that more often than not these writers and their novels are every bit as good, and sometimes even better than the authors and books published by the big publishing houses.  Not always, but often.  And let’s face it, even some of the best known writers (Stephen King) sometimes run out of gas and just coast.  The Cell was The Stand recycled without the walking dude and the religious overtones.  And it wasn’t as compelling a story or a read.  That didn’t keep it from being published.  Sir Stephen could write Vogon Poetry and get published on the strength of his name and record alone irrespective of the quality of the read.
That’s not even my point.  My point, and I’ve said it numerous time before, is that the best writers not necessarily named King, Rowling, Meyers, Patterson, Rice, Creighton or Stein, and the best books do not necessarily come from the big publishing houses.
This is the place where the disclaimer comes into play.  I’m pretty sure I’ll miss someone.  It’s not intentional.
That said, here are some of he best writers and books I’ve read in the last five years, and you won’t recognize most of them because Random House hasn’t discovered them.  They come from all over the country, and with only one exception which I will identify in the list below (*), they are all good reads.  The single exception was so badly researched, conceived, written and designed I gave it ½ star out of ten, and considered that a gift.
All the Guys Are Good Guys – Ned Lord
My Brother’s Keeper Trilogy – Lorriann Russell
A Wager of Blood – Jesse Coffey
The Rock and Roll Murders series - Patricia Morrison
You and I are Intertwined – Joe Dyson
Jewels – Lakisha Spletzer
The Secrets of Havenridge – Chris Coad Taylor
Deviations: Covenant – Elissa Malcohn
The Eighth Deadly Sin – John Richardson
Hanger Flying – Joe D’Amario
The Odyssey of an Armenian Revolutionary Couple – Vahak D. Sarkis
The Fundamentals of Islam* - Dr. David N. Smeltz
Angel in the Shadows – Lisa Grace
The Golden Oak – Cynthia Hardin
Deer Lake – Kaitlyn Rushe
Motherless Child – Sarah Gordon Weathersby
Uncharted – Angela Elwell Hunt
The Prodigal Planet – Ed Maurer
Night of the Living Trekkies – Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
The Purging of Monica Campbell – Dorothy Joan Riley
The Bad Girl – Maya Reynolds (erotica)
Shadow of the Arch – Ken Dye
Echoes of a Woman’s Soul – Dianna Doles Petry (poetry)
I’ve read and reviewed every book on that list.  If you exclude the book on Islam, my average review grade is 4 stars out of five.  None of them is less than a 3 of 5, and there are a few that are 5 of 5, and I consider myself a hard reviewer.  I did not include my own work (Sometimes I Can Hear Voices (poetry), Alice’s Goldfinch (poetry) and The Adventures of the Magnificent Seven) because frankly, I’m hardly an objective voice where they’re concerned, am I?
In the interest of time, I’ll just say one came to me in hardcover, five as e-books, and the rest in paperback.  You can Google the title or author to find most of them, and most are available at Amazon.com or LuLu.com.  Some of them (Deviations: Covenant) are free in e-book format, one of them (Uncharted) has been published by a recognized imprint, and I downloaded one in e-book format (Night of the Living Trekkies) from my local library.  I believe in these people.  They fit the profile: a good story well told.
If you are looking for a good read, and want to help a ‘starving writer’, find and buy some of these books.  You won’t be disappointed.  Except with the book on Islam – avoid that like the plague.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a more deceptive, pretentious, self-aggrandizing poorly written book that made it to press, even if self-published.
By the way – if you’ve hung in this far to learn which is my personal ‘pick of the litter’, hands down its Lorrieann Russel (who also designed her own covers as well as those for Wager of Blood and Adventures of the Magnificent Seven) and her  Brother’s Keeper Trilogy.  The series is in the same league as Dianna Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
If I’ve missed someone, my apologies, and remember my disclaimer:  It’s not My Fault.
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