Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Right Words + Right Time = Total Fantasy

Girlfriends, girlfriends, girlfriends! So nice to be back from maternity leave... but, um, yeah, twins, so I'm going to have to keep this fairly short.

Back in 2004, I wrote a perfect one-act. It was for a 24 hour play festival--one of those fun events where you recruit a bunch of actors, a few directors, and a few writers. The writers or given 12 hours to  pen a 10-minute play. The director is given an hour to read it. Then s/he spends the next 11 hours rehearsing the heck out of it, and all the plays are presented to a boozed up crowd of theater goers at the 24-hour mark. 

The opening scene of EVERYWOMAN.
The results, as you might have guessed, vary. But in this case, somehow the stars aligned and in just a few hours, I wrote, EVERYWOMAN, the only work that I've ever been completely satisfied with on the first draft. It went on to net me all sorts of raves, and both a co-production and a full production of my one-acts. I've never even made more than tiny typo and grammar changes to the work. It simply flowed out of me, a perfect little one-act filled with big ideas.

I doubt that will ever happen again. And a lot of becoming someone who makes her living off of writing has been accepting that and more importantly, learning from it.

Writing, I've found over the years, is a never-ending climb, a seeking of heights that you will most likely never reach. And the truth is that you will rarely have the right words at the right time. 

It would be awesome if you did, but really, what will make you a better writer is how you respond to not having the right words at the right time. Learning to write anyway when you're super-unmotivated, or when your creative brain feels like a bog--that's the real pick axe and rope, and exactly what you need to climb the never-ending mountain. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Right Words at the Right Time

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This cycle's theme at GBC is in the title of this post. For my entry, I'm going to focus on the right words I said, because I'm lazy and it's easy.

Any time I get asked in an interview to give advice to other writers, I always say the same thing. First, I say that you must read, read, read everything you can get your hands on, because you can't be a good writer if you're not a great reader. And then I say to always remember:

The only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

I've said it countless times. It's one of the truest things I know.

Sometimes I'll hear from writers who will say those words spoke to them. The most memorable instance was at a writing conference. A woman came up to me and said she'd been writing book after book, trying to get published for 20 years. Let me say that again: 20 years. "In my darkest hours, I'd remember what you said and, somehow, I'd keep going. And now my book is going to be published by a New York publishing company."

In a career with many great joys - and many agonies! - that stands as one of my proudest moments.

And the thing is: those words are true. Most writing careers are peppered with other people saying some version of "no." Agents reject you, or maybe you get an agent but they drop you; publishers reject your book, or you sell one book but can't seem to sell another - there are myriad ways others say "No." But no one can tell you: No, you can't do this anymore; you have to stop trying; you have to stop writing. People can say, "You can't play with me," but no one else can say you can't play. Only you can do that.

So, you want to write? Then write. Maybe people will say no to you. Maybe they'll say no for 20 years. But no matter what anyone else says, if you want to write, then just keep writing. Because it's true today and it'll be true tomorrow, because it's always been true:

The only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

I'm sure my GBC sisters will be reluctant to post their own "right words" in the comments - they'll likely want to save those for their own posting days! - but feel free to do so if you'd like or tell me about anything else good and inspiring, even share good news if you have it.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of 32 books. Her most recent pet project is THE DISRESPECTFUL INTERVIEWER: THIRTEEN INTERVIEWS WITH AUTHORS. Check her out at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her on Twitter at @LaurenBaratzL


Friday, April 26, 2013

Growing Your Writing

by Barbara Claypole White

Gardening, like writing, is not for wimps. Spring gardening in North Carolina, where I live, may seem to be all dogwood blossoms and wild wisteria, but it also marks the beginning of the annual war on disease, pestilence, and drought.

And yet gardening has taught me some valuable lessons:

Deer damage isn’t permanent
When deer treat your garden as an all-night buffet, the destruction is mortifying but mostly harmless. Even mauled plants grow back. And bad reviews may drive you to gin, but you will live to write another day.

Prune to fit
I never understand why people complain when a shrub outgrows its space. The pruning shears are you friend. Use without mercy. Although, with writing, you can keep the cuttings if it makes you feel better.

Gardening buddies rock
Like writing, gardening is a solitary endeavor, but road trips to nurseries are more fun with a carload of devoted gardeners. Being an author takes a village, and a huge part of that village consists of other writers. Support them and they will support you. And commiserate about the deer damage / one-star reviews.

The mulch pile will get spread
Spreading mulch is a backbreaking, time-consuming, soul-destroying chore best done before June brings unbearable heat. But you don’t have to spread the mulch pile all at once. Ten yards of mulch arrived two weeks before my line edits, and that pile stares at me every day. But when I’ve fried from fighting with track changes, I take an hour off to spread mulch. And I come back to my desk feeling a little more in control of my mulch pile. (And I know it will be gone by June. Or maybe July.)
There are no shortcuts
I have rocky clay and an infestation of voles. (Unlike deer damage, vole damage is fatal. Little bastards eat the roots.) Planting is a slow job. I have to dig out the stones, work the soil, add compost, line each hole with permatill, and add mulch. Gardening, like writing, is bloody hard work, but the payoff comes when you get it right…

Plants grow In unexpected places
My main flowerbed is spilling beyond its bounds. Plants self-seed in the gravel, and a chocolate vine has leapt from its trellis to push up through the planks of the deck and wind around the railing. My promotional life as an author has been equally organic. I’ve made connections, followed my gut, and planted seeds. Some of those have grown in ways I could never have imagined.

Natural-looking gardens take work
You can spend an entire Sunday afternoon tying up one clematis, and no one notices. But as you systematically work through the bed--pruning, staking, weeding, and transplanting, something magical happens, and one day even the UPS guys says, “Wow. Your garden looks great ma'am. All lush and overgrown.”

Gardens can thrive on neglect
I started my main bed a few years before The Unfinished Garden, and it’s still a work in progress. But in the months before and after my book launch, I ignored it. By October, the garden had never looked better. I had huge, ongoing promotional plans for TUG, which I abandoned to tend and fall in love with novel two. Is TUG dead? No, and I’m still fielding requests from book clubs and receiving lovely letters from readers. 

Even in severe drought, plants survive
Gardening can be heartbreaking. Severe drought and watering restrictions can ruin years of hard work and make you feel it’s all so pointless. Some plants, however, shut down not to die, but to survive. Leave them alone and they’ll come back when they’re ready. Writing often needs to percolate. Time and distance can be a blessing.

Gardening is about adapting
Yes, you can have a grand plan for an award-winning garden, but so much of gardening is beyond your control. A true gardener is a master of resilience. A true gardener never gives up, never surrenders. A true gardener knows that despite the plague of white fly, despite the fifth day of 100 degrees, despite the large tree limb that flattened the mature hydrangea, there is no quitting. I garden, therefore I am. Sound familiar?

Barbara Claypole White is the author of 
The Unfinished Garden,* a love story about grief, OCD, and dirt (Harlequin MIRA 2012) 

*Finalist in the 2013 New England Readers Choice Bean Pot Award 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Do You Need Talent? (And Novel Giveaway).

By Karin Gillespie

I’ve always wanted to play the mandolin… but I have a tin ear.

I’ve wanted to tango… but I have two left feet.
I’ve always wanted to write poetry… but my eighth-grade English teacher said my poems stink.

Have you ever denied yourself an activity because you didn’t think you had the talent?

That’s a mistake; it turns out that if you have the desire, talent isn’t necessary.

That’s right. If there’s an activity you really, really want to do, go ahead and give it a whirl.

Follow that up with a heap of practice, and one day you might be a world-class performer.

Talent, it turns out, is the least important thing. Some people wonder if it’s even necessary at all to a person’s success. 

What about Mozart? 

Geoff Colvin, author of “Talented Is Overrated” makes a great case that Mozart’s genius was due to effort.

Did you know his father was a famous composer? That he started training Mozart at the age of three? That his early compositions weren’t written in Mozart’s own hand? That dad always “corrected” his son’s work, and quit composing around the same time Mozart started?

In fact, Mozart didn’t write his first masterpiece until he was twenty-one. 

Precocious yes, but you might be a kick-butt composer too if you had eighteen years of heavy-duty dad training.

Tiger Woods had a similar background and a very similar dad.
According to Colvin, it’s practice, not talent, that makes perfect. However it takes a specific type of practice to be perfect, which he talks about at length in his book.

Definitely worth a read.

So what’s stopping you?
Not a lack of talent for sure.

Go forth and be… a competitive hotdog eater, a belly dancer, a competitive bowler or the next Joyce Carol Oates.

Desire and practice is all you need. 

On another note, I have a novel to give away:  The House at the End of Hope Street.

Here's the description:

A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.

If you're interested in wining the novel, leave a comment with an email address. I'll email the winner after midnight Saturday.

I Love the 80s by Megan Crane

A while back, while procrastinating, I ended up watching a bunch of 80s videos on YouTube.

It was so much fun. I still know all the words to “Club Tropicana” and “Wham! Rap.” I still get chills when “Save A Prayer” starts playing. How could you not? I wallowed in my long-dormant crushes on singers like Simon LeBon, Sting (circa Dream of the Blue Turtles), and George Michael (well, who knew he was on the Other Team?  I sure didn’t.)

Remember "Save A Prayer?" Is there a better song?  I'd argue there really isn't...

And I thought, what if one of them had died way back in the day, at the height of their glory? And what if one of the teenage girls who were So In Love With Them They Owned The Six Foot Poster and All the B-Sides grew up still loving them that much? And what if one fine night, that obsessed fan girl (now, say, in her 30s) found herself transported through time to New York in 1987 and got to meet this man of her dreams–who only she knew was destined to die horribly in just over a month?  How would she save him–could she save him–from his fate?

So, obviously, I had to write that book.  

I Love the 80s is the first romance I ever wrote, and I'd love it even if it didn't involve a little bit of time travel and an impassioned defense of Bananarama's "Cruel Summer."  And it’s finally available as an e-book in the US!

Live in the now, they say, but for Jenna Jenkins, the now sucks. 

Her fiancĂ© dumped her, and she's lacking the drive that might lead to a promotion at the eighties-themed cable station where she works. The only thing keeping her sane is her obsession with a brooding rock star, and an era, that died twenty-odd years ago. 

But then lightning strikes—literally—and sends her back to the year and the man she’s loved her entire life. 

Jenna has no choice but to take action to save Tommy Seer, lead singer of The Wild Boys, from the tragic accident that only she knows will claim his life. But the real Tommy Seer is very different from the one who's spent all this time starring in her favorite fantasies. As Jenna falls deeper into Tommy’s world--under his spell all over again, only this time without the schoolgirl crush--she realizes that his death was no accident. 

Can she find a killer, prevent a murder, and save the man she loves without everyone thinking she’s crazy? And who thought shoulder pads were a good idea, anyway?

I hope you will.

Megan Crane is the author of about thirty novels, none of which have soundtracks as awesome as the one she compiled for I Love the 80s.  Because nothing beats the music she grew up with and loved passionately when she was twelve years old, and nothing ever will.  She also teaches writing in places like UCLA Extension's Writers' Program. You can find out more about her at www.megancrane.com or www.caitlincrews.com.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My secret time management weapon

by Maria Geraci

Recently, I was interviewed by Nurseweek magazine for an upcoming article. The theme of the article? How I juggle my two careers. Like most published authors, I have a second job, or as I like to put it, the job that actually pays the bills. My income as an author is just too shaky at this point to quit my day job (or in my case, my night job). You see, for almost 28 years I've worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse. A job that I still to this day love, and will probably continue in some capacity until the day I retire.

Is it difficult working two jobs? You bet. But it's also incredibly rewarding. Eleven years ago I began writing because there was a creative void in my life. Today, that void is filled, and while there are times I find myself daydreaming of owning a house on the beach and writing full time, I've also discovered that the nursing part of my life makes me a more complete person. Writing is a solitary profession. Nursing, on the other hand, is an intimate profession. You engage with others at a time in their lives when emotions are high. Nursing helps me fill what I like to call my "creative well". No man (or woman) is an island. And neither is any writer. In order to write well, we have to be active participants in life.

So...how do I work 2 jobs and stay sane? Some days it's not easy and a lot of days I simply have to admit to myself that I can't do everything I'd like. But to quote someone (not sure who, but they knew what they were talking about) you always find time to do the things you really want. Over the years I've found a simple management tool that's allowed me keep all my juggling balls in the air and I don't have to go far to find it because it's in my kitchen. Yep, you probably guessed it. It's my kitchen timer.

The first time I thought about using a timer to help me write was while reading cleaning tips from The Fly Lady, who has all kinds of theories about how much you can do in 15 minutes. While 15 minutes might not seem like a long time, it's long enough to spot clean your kitchen, or in my case, write 3 sentences. And for me, 3 sentences is the magic formula that gets my brain flowing and puts me into my story. Three sentences here and three sentences there, and soon, I have a scene. Most days, if I'm off from work, I try to write in 1 hour increments, using my timer as an absolute. As in, I will absolutely not get off my arse until my timer goes off. One hour is my max concentration time. After that, my fingers tend to wander towards the computer keys that will take me to Facebook or email, but I figure I can do anything for an hour.

How about you? Any secret
 time management tips you'd like to share?

Maria Geraci was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised on Florida’s Space Coast. Her love of books started with the classic, Little Women (a book she read so often growing up, she could probably quote). She writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was released last August by Berkley, Penguin, USA. You can connect with Maria by visiting her website, www.mariageraci.com

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Fling Confessional by Melissa Clark

I have always had a love affair with the library and I am so grateful to live near the beautiful Santa Monica Library, where I spend lots of time reading, writing, researching, and planning.  

Recently, the library extended it's services to e-readers, so I can download a book to my iPad with a click of a button, all from the comforts of home. This is where, in early March, my fling behavior began. 

Product DetailsWhile browsing e-books from my couch I came across "The End of Normal" by Stephanie Madoff Mack - the daughter-in-law of Bernie Madoff. The summary offered drama, intrigue, opulence and death. What was I going to do? Ignore it? 

I read the entire memoir in a matter of hours and the best part? No one had to know!

I fished around for some more free books of that nature and found "What Remains" by Carole Radziwill about her marriage to Kennedy cousin Anthony Radziwill. It had drama, intrigue, opulence and death. What was I going to do? Ignore it? 

This lead me down a Kennedy reading path, including but not limited to "Fairy Tale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio", "Come to the Edge" by Christina Haag, and "Once Upon a Secret" by Mimi Alford, all about the various John Kennedy's. 

Product DetailsProduct DetailsLike a true addict, I combed the library for more memoirs and found "Both of Us" by Ryan O'Neal, chronicling his life with Farrah Fawcett, and then "My Journey with Farrah" by Alana Stewart about their search for alternative cures for Farrah's cancer, and how could I NOT read "A Paper Life" by Tatum O'Neal to hear her take on her father? 

Product DetailsBy now it should be clear that I am a true memoir slut. But before you judge too harshly, please know that I have "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace on my nightstand and am halfway through it, and I am a literature professor when I'm not writing, and I'm always espousing the necessities of reading good novels. I swear.
Oh, but these books with their drama, intrigue, opulence and death, make for some damn good reading. And there you have it. My Spring Fling Confessional. I know you have your own book confessions. Won't you share in the comments section, if only to make a girl feel less alone?

Melissa Clark is the author of "Swimming Upstream, Slowly" and "Imperfect", (on Kindle-sale for 2.99 this week) and has an essay in the new anthology "The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage". She teaches writing and literature at Otis College of Art and Design. Visit her at Connections Clark.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Spring Fling is Hollywood Hit

by Maggie Marr

I love spring.  It is one of my favorite seasons.  To me spring represents a fresh start on everything.  I feel energized in spring and want to move forward on all fronts.  I tend to have big dreams in the spring with regards to all that I wish to accomplish for the entire year.

This spring, as far as my writing is concerned, I've had one item on my mind.  One thing I must complete.  One task that must be finished.  One manuscript that must get done.

Hollywood Hit.

This is the first time I've shown the cover for Hollywood Hit. The reveal, combined with my love for the story energizes and excites me!  I can't wait for readers to share the third installment of the Hollywood Girls Club Series.

Scheduled to release Summer 2013, I've spent all of winter and spring bringing this baby along.  Hollywood Hit is the third book in the Hollywood Girls Club Series.  I want to satisfy fans of the series and put a brand new spin on the world that I love.

Enter Nikki Solange--niece to mega-star Celeste 'Cici' Solange.  Nikki's voice has been loud in my ear ever since I decided there was another Hollywood Girls Club story to tell.  Nikki is brash and bold and a bit of a pain in the ass, much like her famous Aunt Cici, but I love her.  I've spent the winter and spring trying to get Nikki's story just right.  And I'm close.  Oh-so-very-close.  And I better be, because summer is nearly here.

Leave a comment about your Spring Fling.  What has you energized this spring?  One commentor, as selected by random.org will win an ebook copy of Hollywood Hit!

Maggie Marr is an attorney and author.  A former motion picture literary agent she now divides her time between writing, practicing law, and producing films.  She is the author of Hollywood Girls Club, Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club, Can't Buy Me Love, and Courting Trouble.  The latest book in the Hollywood Girls Club Series, Hollywood Hit publishes summer 2013.  Maggie lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Cover design for Hollywood Hit by Kim Killion.      

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Processing Spring: "How's the writing going?"

I'm glad you asked.

Five months ago, I chucked 100 pages of my latest novel into the recycle bin.  The “garbage” would sound better and is a far more accurate description of how I felt, but I'm an environmentalist.  Although I had yet to chuck the rest of it, the remaining 200 pages have since been hurled or dismantled and reconfigured.  It sounds more like a puzzle than a novel, and at times it felt more like one too.  The hard part, as with most everything I write, was putting it into a reader-friendly order.  Not jumping, or flying all over the place, as I'm prone to do.  Thank God for good editors.

The book, currently called Reason to Believe, is now warm and green—spring-like, coated with pollen and purpose.

I’m in awe of how writing is like peeling an onion.  The deeper I go, layer after layer, one slivery luminescent skin after another, I uncover the wettest, most glorious pungency and truth.  The story remains the same, from first draft to last, but nearly every word changes.

Part of me wants to keep this bizarre unraveling to myself, to hold it close, and let the wonder soak into the bone, but then a girl in Zumba this morning said, “How’s the writing going?”

I looked at her in amazement.  How does she know?  Am I beaming?  Do I look like a new mother?  Because that's how I feel.

“What do you mean?” I asked.  At first, I'm defensive.

“Well, it’s spring and everything.  Does that make the writing better?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I’m glad that you asked because I just finished rewriting my latest novel, and I’m really excited about it.  And later today, I’m going to send it on to my agent, and then it will go to my editor.  And man oh man, but I am happy!  You see, no matter what happens from here on out, I feel really good today.  And yesterday, and the day before, but not going all the way back to last Friday when I was pondering specific rewrites.  But that’s okay because Friday is nearly a week ago.  The point is: I did it, you see, and I wasn’t sure if I could.  I wrote this book.  And for some time, I didn’t know if I had it in me, but I did.  These wonderful winged birds, who are characters in my book, came through me like angels and sometimes like demons.  They flitted across the page like fairies and I had to cater to them.  And love them, but never pin them in place.  It was a difficult balancing act.  Thank you so much for noticing my glow, the fact that I birthed something new.  Thank you so much for asking because I guess I was really dying to tell someone.” 

Michele Young-Stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.  Her next two novels are under contract with Simon and Schuster.

Michele is a proud wife and mother, newbie kayaker and Zumba junkie. Check out what's happening on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Nest collage by Michele.  Little Wendy Savannah Bird Girl painting by Karen Kearney, Photograph of Michele by Loretta Sanders.  Photograph on the right by Francesca Woodman.    

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When Bad Reviews Happen

... to Good Books

By Ellen Meister

When I decided to resurrect America's most notorious yet beloved wit as a character in a novel, I knew I'd inspire the wrath of some book reviewers. We are, after all, proprietary about our literary heroes. They are our own special treasures, held close to our hearts and jealously guarded. So when a writer comes along and mines that trove for material, there will be blood.

Still, FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER was published to some outstanding trade reviews, garnering raves from Publishers Weekly, BookReporter, Library Journal and BookList. Even Kirkus Reviews put it at the top of the list for the week's best books.

So I was lulled into letting down my guard just when the assault finally came from a couple of newspapers, and it felt like I was being sliced, diced, eviscerated, burned, bitten and left to die. Next time, I'll remember to dress in Kevlar.

In the meantime, it helps to know that I'm not alone--that even the most revered literary works have had their share of detractors. So for all my fellow authors who have felt the sting of bad reviews, I offer the following anti-venom: actual Amazon one-star reviews of literary greats. See if you can guess which books they're about before clicking on the reveal. *

EDITED TO ADD: Apparently this game is harder than I thought, so I'm supplying the list of titles to choose from:


*For the sake of this game, names and titles have been redacted. Spelling and grammatical errors have been left as is.

Great American Novel - You Are Not!
How this is an American classic, I will never know. The book is short and barely has any character development. You don't route for anyone nor really care about finding about anybody's back story - including [redacted] himself. The book does do an ok job of portraying that "rich, post-World War I, 1920s era apathy generation" but the problem with portraying apathy is that your readers are going to be apathetic. There is one part of the book that has some "action" in it but it's so shoe horned in for the sole purpose of rapping up the story that it's almost unbelievable. For those that poo-poo Twilight for "stalker" type mentality of Edward, you have the same behavior in [redacted]  as well. I was very underwhelmed and feel sorry for the countless public school students who had to suffer through this book. The one positive thing I can say is that it wasn't as boring as "Wuthering Heights". Final Grade - F
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

Keeping up with the ...
I hated this book! It is like a Victorian Keeping up the Kardashians. How superficial can you get? I realize that in that era the only hope for a woman was to marry well. Why promote that idea as a romantic one in our present day lives is just stupid. I see nothing romantic in the book whatsoever. The snobbery is almost unbearable. This is one of those situations where you read hoping it will get better, it never did. What a waste of my time.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

Umm...you must be kidding. Mindless nonsense. This is the story of several, self absorbed drukards stumbling their way through a short season of life together; they are self indulged, lazy and broke. The book finally comes to a ridiculously predictable ending. Yes, of course there is symbolism throughout, but do not waste your time.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

This book is a classic judging by the reviews. I had never heard of it and was probably better off. [Redacted]  is a horrible character, obsessed by his penis. I have never found toilet humour particularly funny and so you must judge my opinion in that light. if you have heard of Ross O'Kelly Carroll then this is the jewish equivalent. Ross is the cliche Dublin 4, Alex the New Jersey jew. Sitting on his physchiatrist couch bemoaning his parents. His mother threatened him with the knife if he won't eat. He spends his teen and adult years either masturbating anywhere and anytime or with the fair Protestant college girls or his dumb but sexually insatiable model. [Redacted]  is condesending and obsessed, unlikeable in a Woody Allen style obsession with self and sex. The novel is dated as no doubt it was titillatingly scandalous of its time but frankly it is boring. The long rambling rant eventually grates. This book would be better as a novella, the theme and characters are interesting to start with but the problem is that it becomes repetitious and boring. It wanders back and forward from childhood to love affair, from Monkey the model to Pumpkin or Pilgrim the debutantes. [Redacted]  repeats himself and becomes gratingly tedious. I suffered to the end, only so I could justify my rant, and gained nothing from it. Judging by the number of positive reviews here I am perhaps missing the point. For me who also hates Woody Allen films this is toilet humour at its worst. If you like the images of a teenage boy humping raw liver, his sisters used underwear and just about anything else while his mother hammers on the bathroom door demanding to see his stool then read on.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

How On Earth Did This Book Win The Pulitzer?
I just finished reading this novel and I am mystified by all of the acclaim it has received. Far from being an accurate depiction of small-town life, it is a dull, mind-numbing work populated by repulsive characters who resemble redneck cartoons more than flesh and blood human beings. Many times I wanted to fling the book across the room out of frustration with its snail-like pacing and terminally unhappy characters.

If you're looking for a realistic portrait of life in rural Maine, try anything by Cathie Pelletier - particularly her Mattagash trilogy. These books offer everything - humor, heart, emotion - that [redacted] fails to deliver.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

This book is filled with evocative prose that evokes tedious, boring, mundane, desperately unfulfilled life in 50's suburbia. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to read it.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

An American classic????
I waited 52 years to read this book. I should have waited 52 more. A real snoozefest. I don't see what all the fuss is about.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

Babble of an Idiot
I made a bona fide attempt to read this book. After the first few pages, it became apparent to me that the novel was not a piece of literature but rather babble of a mentally retarded person. In the style of the book, I could describe it as "some goddamn crap about some guy or something." One beneficial consequence of reading a few pages of this "work" is that, after that, nearly any book would seem like a masterpiece of literature.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

Target Practice
Heyyyy I had to read this book for school and it was the worst thing I ever read. A worthless good for nothing piece of junk! Actually it is good for something. I took this book with me to rifle practice and i shot at this instead of the target. I got busted but hey it was worth it. Mail me if you want a picture of my shooting.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

Boring story, miserable characters
I don't know why all the great reviews. I found the story dull, about miserable characters I cared nothing about, in a depressing setting.
The writing was too heavy on uninteresting detail and I could not even get halfway through the book.
Each chapter begins with a new character introduction, which for me is frustrating - just when you get to know one character, you are
jumped to a new one with little or no tie in to the previous introductions. I'm sure eventually they tie together, but I was halfway
through and saw no reason to go on.
Not my type of story, I guess. If you like a story about depressed (and depressing) people living in a small town in Maine, this one is
for you.
Can you guess which book this reviewer hates? Click here for answer.

How many did you get right? For a chance to win an autographed copy of FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, post your score below. I promise not to judge you. 
Ellen Meister lives on Long Island and is the author of four novels, including FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER (Putnam 2013) and THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam 2011). She is an editor and writing coach, and teaches creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education. For more information visit ellenmeister.com.