The Boogle: Recommended

August 29, 2009

POD Book Reviews and More recommends the Boogle in their review ring. Yeah we are…

Name: The Boogle
Blurb: Reviewing books for authors who are proud to be independent.
Founded: 5/23/09
Submissions: Open for submissions as of 5/23/09 & recommended
Submission Format(s): Print Copies Only
Author Interviews: Upon Request
Articles of Helpful Information for Authors: Yes
Publication Dates Accepted: Recent, with forthcoming titles preferred
Genres Accepted: All

Preferred Genres: Fiction
As an independent author who understands the challenges of marketing without the help of a gigantic publishing apparatus, Mark McGinty has dedicated time to help promote self-published and independent authors by reviewing their books and linking their websites.

Check out their full list here.

Where Da Boogle Been?

August 25, 2009

Hey gang. Yeah, I know. Not a lot of new material on the Boog these past few days. I’ve been working diligently to finish up my almost-final draft of The Cigar Maker. After 6 years in the making, the book is complete and only needs a proof read and one last pass to check for continuity and to trim the fat.

Really leaning towards the self-publishing route with this one, but I’m going to hit a few agents and publishers just to see what happens. I don’t plan to exert too much energy on that though – I’d rather save my strength for writing and promotion rather than use it up sending queries and reading rejection letters.

The book has already received a great blurb!! Check it out!

From the mountains of 19th century Cuba, where bandits and revolutionaries fought to overthrow Spanish dominance, to the floor of the cigar factories in Ybor City, Florida, where labor leaders sought to defend Cuban workers from exploitation by Spanish business owners, The Cigar Maker delivers a riveting, little-known chapter in the history of Latino-Americans in the US southeast.

Salvador Ortiz, a young man orphaned by violence in his homeland of Cuba, joins a group of bandits as a “torch and machete” man, terrorizing a Spanish plantation owner by kidnapping his daughter, but grows into a husband, a father, a community leader, and a man of honor and dignity in this novel of labor movements and corruption in turn-of-the-century Florida.

Dianne K. Salerni

Author of We Hear the Dead, Sourcebooks, April 2010

Thank, Dianne for the encouraging words!! With time (and money) on my side, The Cigar Maker should be in stores sometime next summer. I might start posting some excerpts or two here in the coming weeks for all who are interested.

Ok, enough about me (even though this is, ahem, MY blog)…I know some of you are waiting for some reviews. Yep. I’m working on it. Right now I’m about 1/4 into John Haley’s Legendary Sidekick in 4-D! and I’m working on a review of Big Funny. But don’t excited – the mom-in-law’s dropping by this weekend and next weekend is the Great Minnesota Get Together – the Minnesota State Fair…chesse curds, pronto pups, meats on sticks, midway games, margarita-beer, more cheese curds….mmmm….I’ll have more freetime in September. Until then, keep sending your books – I’m enjoying the great variety of books y’all are sending.  Keep it up!

And don’t forget to check out my first novel, Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy – currently on sale at amazon!

Check out Big Funny: Celebrating the Newspaper Comic Strip

August 20, 2009

The International Cartoonist Conspiracy, Big Time Attic, and Altered Esthetics gallery in Minneapolis have collaborated to produce an oversized newspaper comics section – like they used to do in the old days.

It’s really cool!!


You can check out the gallery exhibit at Altered Esthetics if you live in the Twin Cities, or you can read more about it, or buy it online here.

More, including a review, coming soon…


The Rock Star’s Homecoming

August 9, 2009


Linda Gould

iUniverse, 2009

260 pages, Fiction

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Some have described the college campus as a microcosm of American pop culture. The values of a typical college student often mirror—and sometimes predate—the narcissistic and shallow values of society at large. Star athletes are revered as gods, and beauty queens are worshiped and elevated, only to be torn down by the same people who exalted them in the first place. Men and women struggle to connect, form relationships, marry or break up. Surrounding all the fame and romance are the masses, watching from the sidelines and often fighting for the front row, to root for their heroes and cheer the fall of their adversaries.

Linda Gould’s The Rock Star’s Homecoming is a cynical but accurate story of a group of scheming and vulnerable college girls awaiting the return of their college’s homegrown rock band. As this politically charged campus anticipates a concert by the successful rock band the Sunburst, we enter a petty world of mistrust, gossip and cynicism where it’s normal to spend 75 minutes trashing your “friend.” I wish the world wasn’t like this, but it is. While it is hard to avoid the gossip and lust for fame that fuels our culture, at times The Rock Star’s Homecoming goes too far in its pettiness:  it’s hard to imagine a football team failing to protect their star player during the homecoming game simply because they are jealous of his fame and future stardom.

The tone is confrontational and filled with hostility, and the characters clearly never learned the lessons of “Revenge of the Nerds” or “Can’t Buy Me Love…” that it doesn’t matter who you’re friends with, or to which social circle you belong. All that matters is that we’re in this together. Gould throws all platitudes aside and creates a world where everyone is out for themselves. This makes it hard to root for anyone, except for Imogene, a seemingly innocent student who is focused on writing her thesis on rock and folk music, using the Sunburst as her study.

Sunburst must be the most disorganized band ever and it’s a wonder how they ever got together in the first place. The end concert is chaotic. Their clumsy starts and stops are speckled with intermittent rambling by the band’s front man, who insults his audience and invokes an image of Jim Morrison’s drunken and buffoonish antics.

The story is short on character development simply because there are too many of them. There are even several characters that do not deserve a name and are referred to as “nondescripts.” They serve as a chorus, the voice of the people, which makes sense given the book’s commentary on pop culture (in a world of Academy Awards parties and celebrity gossip mags, aren’t we all nondescripts?). But at times these nameless girls are used to express dialogue when no other major character is there to say what needs to be said – and if that’s the case, why say it at all?

It’s an interesting campus story and Gould is a fine writer. There were many surprises, especially in the second half, and I was constantly wondering what would happen next. What does it say about our culture when a book with such petty squabbles made me nod and shake my head, knowing that Gould’s story of narcissism and mistrust was accurate and true to life? It made me wonder if we really are that bad…

Strengths: well-written prose, unpredictable story, filled with conflict, commentary on pop culture

Opportunities: characters crowd each other out and are hard to root for

Will appeal to: chicklit readers, college students

The Rock Star’s Homecoming is available on amazon.

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, August 2009

The Three Stages of Book Publishing

August 5, 2009

All you project managers out there who are trying to determine how to best manage the immense pipeline, and multitude of tasks needed to successfully present your book to the outside world, try breaking your project into three steps:

  • Writing Your Book
  • Publishing Your Book
  • Marketing Your Book

And you do these in order, correct? First you spend years writing your book, then you move into the publishing phase and once you have a finished product in hand, you hit the bricks. Right? Not really. Before discussing how all three phases can (and should) be done simultaneously – at least during the initial phases of your project – let’s define each of the phases listed above…

Writing Your Book

For some of us this is the most reward part of the process. This is when that brilliant idea for a book is born and you rush to the nearest napkin or scrap of paper to jot everything down before it dissolves into the air, never to be considered again. Then you pull out your notebook and expand on that initial idea. You come up with your characters, maybe a few lines of dialogue, your beginning, middle and end.

You’ll do some research and make sure you know everything you need to know about your topic. Maybe you attend a writing class to brush up on your dialogue skills, or to bounce your structure off another helpful writer. You think about your story while you’re driving, or sitting on the bus, or lying in bed at night. 

Then there’s that part where you sit at your computer, typewriter or notepad and start banging out chapters like there’s no tomorrow. You work your way through writer’s block, tell yourself that your story is crap and then find ways to convince yourself that it’s great. You read what you wrote, cross out that part, add something here, make a note in the margin over there. You have people read your work, and in turn, you read everything you can get your hands on and come up with new ideas. Keep those creative juices flowing.

Finally you make it to the last page and type that final sentence that allows you to sit back in your chair, clasp your hands behind your head as you smile and triumphantly declare, “I’m finished!”

Then someone reads your books – and I mean they really read it. They call out how many times you used the word “and” in your opening paragraph. They underline phrases that don’t make sense, or call out problems with continuity “He was fifteen on page 9 but three pages later he’s seventeen…how is that possible if all this is happening on the same Saturday afternoon?” Once you receive that thorough edit, you realize that you’re not done, and go back to your computer, typewriter or notepad, crack your knuckles and get back to business. Finally, three months later, you clasp your hands behind your head, and triumphantly declare, “I’m finished!…Again!”

Hopefully this time, you mean it.

Publishing Your Book

If you self-published then you had a different experience from those who went through a traditional publisher but there are many similarities. Maybe you submitted your work to agents, publishers or contests, maybe you didn’t. You definitely used a professional editor who was (hopefully) even more thorough than your original circle of readers. In some cases they may have suggested major changes – or even wanted you to change the book’s title! Then the designers showed you the cover, which you either loved or hated. Or maybe you designed your own cover (please do not do this without the proper credentials). For my first book, Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy,  I was lucky enough to chose from 4 different covers. I hope I picked the best one! 







Then you got a look at the interior design – the font, the chapter headings, the dingbats. You added a summary to the back, an author bio, perhaps a picture. Then there were acknowledgements, pricing and a dedication.  It was typeset and then you received a galley proof. You probably had another pass to look for typos or make any last minute changes. At this point you either sent your galleys to reviewers or sent it directly to print.


A few weeks later they called you up, or a box arrived on your doorstep with your most prized possession – copies of your brand new book! The fruit of your efforts was finally in the flesh.  Some of you were happy with this. Others took it a step further…

Marketing Your Book

Did this start the day you received the final, printed version of your book? Let’s hope not. This is something that should start at Day One. I’m still writing “The Cigar Maker” and I have barely started the publishing process but I’m marketing the book as we speak. Watch:

The Cigar Maker: the story of a Cuban rebel who escapes to Tampa in 1898 and finds himself leading a violent labor dispute that threatens to rip apart the city’s underworld. Based on true events…Coming soon…

See how easy that was? It doesn’t take much. Just a few emails, a blog post, some sell sheets sent to bookstores or any place where you think your book will sell. Join a writer’s group, be a presence on the Internet, join discussion groups and network! Do a radio tour, a book signing tour, a blog tour, and pay visits to your former elementary school, high school and college. And get reviews – lots and lots of reviews!!

Which brings me to you…

What have you done to market your book and when did you start? Post your comments – let us know!

More on the subject of covers…

August 3, 2009

I’m a big fan of movies that were made from books, including comic books, short stories and novellas. In fact, probably around half the books I’ve read were either made from a movie, or became a movie eventually. Some of my favorite book-movie-conversions include Fight Club, The Godfather Parts I and II, The Hunt for Red October, Misery, Election, (Rita Hayworth and) The Shawshank Redemption, Silence of the Lambs, Ghost World and Lord of the Rings. There are countless others that don’t come to mind right away – I’m sure that if I looked through my bookshelf I’d find several additions to this list of favorites.

Here’s what bugs me: movie studios and publishers will take a perfectly good book and ruin it. You might be thinking that they butcher the story for the sake of a Hollywood audience – this happens all the time. And when it does, remember that it’s hard to ruin the actual book. The book lives on; it’s just the movie that sucks.

No, what bugs me is when they take a perfectly good cover and replace it with some stupid movie poster. Check out these before and after shots:

Exhibit A: the solemn and determined mug of Ben Affleck warning you to spend $14.95 on the book and an additional $9 at the movie theater (and watch his really crappy adaptation of the Jack Ryan thriller), or face nuclear holocaust.






To quote one of my old friends: “The only reason I won’t read The Sum of All Fears is because I can’t stand to have Ben Affleck looking at me every time I’m about to pick it up.”

Exhibit B: just when you thought this sci-fi cover couldn’t get any hokier, the book saw its silliness undone when they slapped John Travolta’s Psychlo face on the cover and adapted the book into one of the worst movies of all time (for additional commentary see my article on the 10 Best Worst Movies Ever).






Exhibit C: this one actually isn’t so bad. Pacino was a pretty good Lefty, and Depp was spot on as the conflicted but dedicated FBI agent. But the actors’ names are biggest than the author’s. That ain’t cool.






Exhibit D: it’s almost required to do this for James Bond. I can’t complain too much about this, since these movies succeed in resurrecting the books (and this outdated cover is badly in need of a makeover).






For additional information here is a list of books that became movies.