Book Review – Smile

TITLE: Smile
AUTHOR: Luis Sanchez
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 2014

On my little book date, I discovered a wonderful series of books called 33 1/3, the name of course coming from the size of a record, which was cool because they’re a series of music books.
The first one I found was Smile, which dealt with the Beach Boys, a band I grew up with. I wasn’t familiar with Smile as a piece of work, at least by name, which isn’t saying much because I never know titles of things. So, you know, I was excited to find this.

Except here is the thing. The little book reads a lot like a badly organized college paper (And this from a guy with a PhD in Musicology), and by a guy who totally misses the point.
The first thing the book talks about is a SNL (Saturday Night Live) promo skit where Brian Wilson is chased by the surfing police and sent out in the water on a surf board which he hardly manages to use, at one point using the board backwards even. Cue rant by Sanchez about how the skit misses who the Beach Boys are, yadda yadda, whatever.
Except that you can watch the skit on YouTube, and if you watch it, it’s clearly satire, it’s meant to be cheezy as heck, and Sanchez would still miss the point if it was the broad side of a barn.

Then, the book flops around back and forth about how fat Brian Wilson is and a few other things, but it never really talks about SMILE whatsoever, and by the time I got halfway through the book, I didn’t really know what the point of all this was, and, even worse for a book… I didn’t care.

So, the book had promise, but Sanchez clearly didn’t.
Two out of five pages.

Advertisements

Writer Wednesday – Jacqueline Sheehan

New York Times Bestselling Author Jaqueline Sheehan has been in print for almost a decade now, and has several novels to her credit.  This is her story…

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Jacqueline Sheehan

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a New York Times Bestselling author of fiction She is also a psychologist. She is a New Englander through and through, but spent twenty years living in Oregon, California, and New Mexico doing a variety of things, including house painting, photography, freelance journalism, clerking in a health food store, and directing a traveling troupe of high school puppeteers.

Her novels include, The Comet’s Tale a novel about Sojourner Truth, Lost & Found, Now & Then, and Picture This. She has published travel articles, short stories, and numerous essays and radio pieces. In 2005, she edited the anthology, Women Writing in Prison.

Jacqueline has been awarded residencies at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland and Jentel Arts Colony in Wyoming. She teaches workshops at Grub Street in Boston and Writers in Progress in Florence, Massachusetts. She has offered international writing retreats in Jamaica, Guatemala, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
See above.

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m taking a sharp departure and writing a book that is loosely based on a massacre that took place in Guatemala, 1990 in a Mayan village.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I lived in a small town in CT where we had a one-room library. The rules were strict and if you were in the library, you were either sitting at table reading or searching for a book. Also, a wonderful memory is having chicken pox (that part wasn’t so wonderful) and my mother bringing me a mountain of books from the library. One of the books was The Incredible Journey and I loved it. I hadn’t realized until this moment how much that book probably influenced my writing. In both Lost & Found and Picture This, there are several chapter from the point of view of a dog.

What are your three favorite books?
To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee. I read it every few years. It is nearly perfect.
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. She writes about the lustiness of nature so beautifully.
In the Woods, by Tana French. She’s an Irish writer who excels in dark psychological mysteries.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
If I’m reading more than one book at a time, it means that I’m not fully captivated by the writing. Right now I’m reading a memoir, Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, by Brian Leaf. Very funny and humble.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
I pray that the cat won’t knead his claws into my legs.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
There aren’t many books that I re-read, but when I do it is like visiting a good friend.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
It depends entirely on who is recommending it. But the chances of choosing a book with a personal recommendation are usually much higher.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I do it all the time.

What do you look for in a good book?
I want to be fully immersed in the story, inside the skin of the characters.

Why do you write?
This will sound trite, but I write to more fully understand and experience the world.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’m also a psychologist, but if I hadn’t been either a writer or a therapist, I probably would have studied frogs and insects. I was fascinated by them.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My childhood.
My current relationships.
The news.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
It has taught me that my most intimate and painful experiences are universal.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My writing friends completely understand the grinding level of work is required.
My civilian friends seem to think I’m on a pro-longed vacation. I’ve given up trying to change their minds.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I don’t know what the stereotypes are, which means I might be one.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Writers can talk about writing too much, rather than just writing. And new writers complain bitterly about the publishing industry before they even get a contract. I think it is part of the image that newbies might have of writers to complain about publishers. My experience with publishers has been quite good.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I can be overly accommodating. I might need to stiffen up a bit.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
When Lost & Found is optioned for film again, I’d like to be the psychological consultant on the film.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I answer every single email that I get from readers. And I love doing readings. Meeting readers is still a thrill for me. I am grateful to them and I’m interested in what they have to say.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
That I hitchhiked across the country once. What an idiot!

Anything else we should know?
I could eat Mexican food every day of the week.

Writer Wednesday – Kathryn Sullivan

I first met Kathryn at a convention a couple years ago, intrigued by her “Chicks Dig Time Lords” antho.  Since then we’ve run into each other in several places here and there, most recently inside the covers of Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells.  This is her.

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Kathryn Sullivan. Hi!

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I write young adult fantasy and science fiction. I’ve been writing since I was young and had several short stories published before a publisher decided to take a chance on my books. I’m also owned by a large cockatoo.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
THE CRYSTAL THRONE and TALKING TO TREES are my young adult fantasy books with wizards, elves and talking horses. AGENTS AND ADEPTS is a collection of my short stories – some fantasy, some science fiction – and the talking horses snuck in there as well. I have a short story in CLOCKWORK SPELLS AND MAGICAL BELLS with elves and dwarves, and my children’s picture book, MICHAEL AND THE ELF, was just released by a different publisher.

I’m a big Doctor Who fan and I have a short story in a Doctor Who anthology by Big Finish, an essay in the Hugo-winning CHICKS DIG TIME LORDS and a review in OUTSIDE IN. More information can be found at my website: http://kathrynsullivan.com

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’ve been working on two projects. The first is a YA science fiction book set on a colony planet, and the second is a continuation of my galactic agents series from three short stories in AGENTS AND ADEPTS.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My family were big readers. There was a bookcase full of books in the bedroom my sister and I shared and my parents expected us to read if we got up early on Saturday. There were shelves of books in our basement – my brother’s collection of Hardy Boys, my sisters’ collection of Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton and others, my mother’s set of the Oz books and my father’s big collection of science fiction and fantasy. I remember my mother reading the Oz books to my younger sister and I.

I also have fond memories of my public library, which when I was very small was inside the fire station.

What are your three favorite books?
Only three? My three favorite books from my past, the ones which influenced me, are Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS, James Schmitz’s AGENT OF VEGA, and James White’s HOSPITAL STATION. Favorite ones I like to revisit are Janet Kagan’s MIRABILE and Diana Wynne Jones’ HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Usually three. Right now I just finished IRON HEARTED VIOLET by Kelly Barnhill, on my Kindle I’m reading THE CROW GOD’S GIRL by Patrice Sarath, and the book beside my bed is WORLDSOUL by Liz Williams.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Lose all track of time.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
And the answer depends on what mood I’m in. When I was in my teens and twenties I would re-read THE LORD OF THE RINGS once a year. Now I might go on a Janet Kagan binge and re-read all her stories. Or I’ll look at the stack of new books waiting-to-be-read and instead re-read all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles series or Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden universe. Or Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series. Or…

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Eventually. I’ve got a big stack of books in the to-be-read pile. But it depends on who is doing the recommending and if their taste is similar to mine. I don’t pay any attention to NYT bestsellers.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very. I’m usually on panels about new YA books and I’m the one who will bring a list. And I let my local public library know if I’ve found a new author or book they should get.

What do you look for in a good book?
Characters that catch my interest, good world-building and an engaging plot.

Why do you write?
I started writing when I was 14 because the science fiction and fantasy of that time had very few female main characters. I wanted more stories with characters I could identify with. I continue to write because I keep coming up with characters and stories that demand to be told. When characters start stomping around in your head demanding that you tell their stories, believe me, you tell their stories.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I just retired last year from the job I loved as an academic librarian. I wanted to be a librarian in the moon colony, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From everything around me. Newspaper or magazine articles might trigger a story idea. I look at the Astronomy Picture of the Day site (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html ) every morning and check a couple of anthropology news sites as those have also been good story triggers. Sometimes just an interesting picture will do it.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I need deadlines.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
Two of my sisters have been freelance artists, so I know they understand how much work it is. I’m sure some of my friends and co-workers probably thought I was very antisocial because I always seemed to be busy when they wanted to do things. But now I have friends who understand there are times when I’m busy and times when I need a break.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I keep hearing that all writers are rich and that they make a lot of money when a book is published. I’d like it to be true, but, sadly, it’s not.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Patience, persistence, and knowing when you need editing. Self-publishing has become so easy for some that they take no time to make their work the best they can before rushing into print. Some don’t even try sending their work out to publishers. Others try the big traditional presses but not the smaller presses or e-publishers. There are a number of good small presses and e-publishers who are looking for authors.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Oh, lots. I sent my first book out when I was fourteen – taught myself how to type, looked up the markets – but neglected to see what the standard manuscript format at the time was. Single-spaced, typed on both sides of the paper – I’m not surprised that one was rejected as quickly as it was.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
There’s been a few audio and media projects I would have liked to have been involved with. I would have loved to have written a Doctor Who book but I couldn’t think of a book-length idea.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KathrynSullivan.author) and a webpage (http://kathrynsullivan.com) . I also go to several science fiction conventions and young writers conferences during the year. I enjoy talking with fans; they re-energize me to get back to my next story.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m not sure what they’d be surprised by. Maybe that my cockatoo plays catch. She has a great pitching beak and the signal when she wants to play is often her toy landing on the laptop keyboard. Though that’s mentioned on my Facebook page. That along with being a Doctor Who fan, I’m also a big MacGyver and Stargate SG-1 fan. Though recently I’ve been watching more Phineas & Ferb, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, The Legend of Korra and Transformers Prime. It’s probably no surprise that I’m looking forward to THE HOBBIT.

Anything else we should know?
For those who are interested, I have a list of conventions that I’ll be attending on my webpage (http://kathrynsullivan.com/appearances ).

Thank you!

 

%d bloggers like this: