Saturday, March 24, 2012

Barnes & Nobles recommends The Taker for Fifty Shades of Grey readers

I'll be blunt: I wouldn't mind if readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotica novel that's causing a sensation all over the literary world, took a look at The Taker. Not that my novel is erotica. But it does have something of the dynamic that women are drawn to in Fifty Shades. From what I've heard, women are as drawn to the novel for its male lead, Christian Grey, as they are to the sex. And a couple readers told me that they saw similarities between Christian Grey and Adair, the villain in The Taker--which is what got me and the team surrounding the Taker Trilogy thinking about comparisons.

And apparently it's not just us: the fine folks at Barnes and Noble's blogs have brought it up, too. Melanie Murray, the moderator for the romance forum, had this to say: "I've been inundated with "books for people who loved Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades Trilogy #1) " Some have looked promising, some have seemed less than that. But the one that has really caught me up is Alma Katsu's The Taker..."
We also got a nice mention in the Barnes and Nobles' romance blog, Heart-to-Heart, in a post on "If you like Fifty Shades of Grey...".

I know, I know...some of you are sick and tired of hearing about this book. But it is a bonafide phenomena, and that says something about the state of reading in America. I spoke to booksellers today, and they told me that people were buying five or six copies at a time for their friends who were too embarrassed to be seen buying the book in their neighborhood store. Women want to read it. When was the last time you saw anyone buy five or six copies of one book? Let me tell you, it doesn't happen often. It is tough to sell books today. As one bookseller said to me, it's hard enough to get someone to buy one copy of a really popular book.

So Fifty Shades is good for the book industry. Hats off to E.L. James and for what she's doing both for women readers and, hopefully, her fellow women writers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Busting Out All Over

With The Taker about to come out in paperback on March 27th, there's are a lot of blogs hosting giveaways. I thought I'd post a round-up of where you can enter to win a copy.

First, some book bloggers who helped get the word out when The Taker was published in hardcover last September are giving away special swag packs (bookmarks, post-it notes, a pen, a proof of the cover and a spoofy wine label for The Reckoning) along with the paperback. The contest is up and running on these blogs:

Hippies, Beauty and Books, Oh My! (contest ends March 20th)
Tethered Mommy
Kimberly Brock
A Novel Review
Just Another New Blog
Asian Cocoa's Secret Garden
Totally Bookalicious
Seduced By a Book
Book Flame Review (contest closed)

And these blogs will be running a contest later this month:

Jenn's Bookshelves
Luxury Reading
Great Thoughts
Taking It One Book at a Time
Just Another Story
You've Gotta Read This
Books, Bones Buffy
Book and Movie Dimension

In addition, my publisher is teaming up with a number of blogs to giveaway a copy of the book, too (no swag, sadly). These are the ones I know far. They all feature the more steamy excerpt form The Taker which you can read right here.

My Bookish Ways
Reading Between the Wines
Peace Love Books

My thanks to all these book bloggers for helping a debut novelist. Please help return the favor by visiting their sites. It's one big circle of love (of story).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

By now, you've heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the soft erotica novel that's making the mainstream media sit up and take notice. I haven't read it (yet) but say good for the author. Why? 

Those of you who have read The Taker already know there is a dark sexual thread that runs through the book. It is a novel about a character who goes from girl to woman, after all, and sexual awakening can be expected to be part of that journey. In this case, the heroine's awakening comes at the hands of a incredibly self-assured--some might say arrogant--man of the world, Adair, who is as adventurous in bed as he is domineering. 

When I wrote the Taker, I suspected the sexual story line would resonate with some readers. What I didn't expect is the conservatism that permeates our culture in the US. Most reviewers, and that includes book bloggers, don't seem to want to be seen endorsing a book that has characters whose sexual relationships are less than chaste. Shock at the sexual content of The Taker was a minor thread running through the reviews, but it was there nonetheless. 

I didn't expect the public at large feels this way, but in an age of such political conservatism, I suspected we've learned to hold our tongues and keep our preferences to ourselves. That's why I'm so happy to see Fifty Shades' success. It's evidence that we're really not a nation of prudes after all. 

In The Taker, one of the heroine's lessons is that she has to leave her Puritan home town, get away from all those prying eyes quick to judge, in order to discover who she really is as a woman. I hope that's a lesson all women are keen to take. 


Addendum: I'm up at the Huffington Post with an extended post on the same subject.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Writing Life: Proof Pages

This morning I'm going over the second pass pages of The RECKONING. I thought my editorial involvement with this book was over, and there's a certain mental relief that comes with that, for a writer. But the pages came back a few days ago.

Let me digress a moment to talk about the publishing process, at least the one I'm familiar with as I'm sure it's a little different at every publishing house. After the writer and editor agree on a final version of the manuscript, it gets sent to the typesetters. The next time the writer sees the book is when the typeset pages come back, and you get an opportunity to go through them and make sure you're happy with them. The idea here isn't just to catch typos but to make any changes to the story that you deem necessary. These pages go back to the publisher and the changes typed in, and then you get the first pass pages.

At this point, you should really only be looking for typos and minor changes. But it's also your last chance to make substantive changes, though I get the impression that it's slightly bad form to make too many changes. Not one to worry about appearances, I went ahead and made substantive changes.

Which is why I've received the second pass pages.

As I mentioned, I'd convinced myself that the book was put to bed and I could now direct all my attention to writing book three, so getting the pages required a mental adjustment. Not that I'm displeased to see the book, but proofing 350 pages is a big job. It's a little like having your college graduate show up at your doorstep unexpectedly, looking for you to cook his favorite meals and do his laundry. It has its benefits, too, and I'm seeing little things to carry over in The Descent, little references and whatnot that will enrich the trilogy.

But I can't help thinking about the book I had to step away from, fussing and mewling like an infant, needing all my attention to help it grow.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Love and Magic: Bell, Book and Candle

I’ve started bringing pages from the book I’m working on, The Descent, to my critique group and the presence of a couple witches (in the book, not the group) prompted someone to mention the movie Bell, Book and Candle.

If you like all things magical, but especially witches, this is a movie you shouldn’t miss. It’s probably available on Netflix or some place similar and I’d bet more than one library has a copy on DVD. It’s the story of a young woman who happens to be a witch who decides to steal the fiancee of her old nemesis in college. But then she falls in love with the fiancée and loses her witchly powers and well, you can probably guess the rest.

Besides having a stellar cast—Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Agnes Morehead, and Jimmy Stewart as the love interest, if you can believe it—it has great ambiance. This coven of witches live in New York City, you see, and the brother (Lemmon) likes to go to jazz clubs. (It was made in 1958, when beatniks were still a curiosity to middle Americans.) I swear the movie must’ve been the inspiration for the television series ‘Bewitched’ because the premise is the same, right down to the fiancée/husband being in advertising (or maybe everyone was in advertising in America in the late 1950s/early 1960s) and having Agnes Morehead in the cast.

The movie definitely had some magic all its own, though, for all its campiness and predictability on the romance front. Otherwise, how do you explain its staying power in the minds of so many women who grew up then? Two women in the group had even named their first cat Pyewacket, after the Siamese in the movie. After being reminded of Bell, Book and Candle, I realized that I undoubtedly drew from the movie in shaping my view of how the world of the magical should work. Which is why I’m mentioning it here in this post. Go watch it.