Tuesday, November 14, 2006

E-book Challenge Read/Critiques

Way back when I issued the E-book challenge, I promised to randomly select 20 of the entries, read them, and offer the author a private critique. I apologize for my delay in keeping that promise, but I wanted to see how many e-books were submitted, if I could rearrange the schedule, and do a little better than 20.

Turns out I can, so I'm going to read and offer private critiques on all of the E-books in the challenge.

I should be able to read my way through the entire list by mid- to late-December (I'll draw one e-book at random from the list at a time until I read and crit them all.) Also, I will not be reading any other type of fiction until I finish this project, so you guys are now my TBR stack.

As for the type of critique I'll send along, it will be basically the same thing that I get from my own editors: any technical errors I find, what I liked, what didn't work for me, and any suggestions or ideas I have that I think might improve the story. Keep in mind that any critique is an opinion, nothing more, not to be chiseled in stone etc.

I'll be e-mailing my critiques to the e-book authors' e-mail addresses that were used to send me the challenge entries. If that information has changed, do let me know by sending a note to PBWChallenge@aol.com. Also, if for whatever reason you'd rather not have a critique from me, just let me know -- I'll still read it, but I'll keep my opinions to myself.

Congratulations, and thanks again to all the challengers.


  1. Now I regret even more that I didn't manage to finish anything in time because those dang plotbunnies come a novels nowadays.

  2. Anonymous5:24 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Anonymous6:48 AM

    (SPAM comment deleted)

    Gabriele, I'm planning to hold another e-book challenge in 2007 so this won't be the only time.

  4. Anonymous6:51 AM

    your generosity amazes me! Congrats to all the lucky critique-ees.


  5. Lots of reading in that TBR pile! I've been working my way through the list.

  6. Oh, man, I just had a squee moment when I read you'd do them all (I'm so ashamed).

    I'm trying to be professional here; hell, I've resisted most of the challenge work until I'm done with Nano, and you're not helping. (Okay, okay, I confess, I've peeked and enjoyed, but don't tell anyone. I'm supposed to be working).

    And I've got to say it, S., you're becoming a national treasure with your support and encouragement.

    Just to make you feel better after all that sweet squee-ing: bash away! Oops, er, critique away, I mean.

    Hmm... I might have to fear my e-mail for a while... until I wrestle the insecurity into submission, that is.

  7. Jaye, I hear you.

    Note to self: Stockpile a big box of chocolate, lots of cake and cookies and chips for a pity party when I get my letter.

    I must be a masochist, but...Thanks so much PBW!

  8. Oh, wow, what a wonderful extremely generous investment of your time! Thank you so much!!

  9. Wow...

    That's very kind of you and I really appriciate it.

    Today was a good day to get some good news. Thanks.

  10. Your generosity is inspiring, Sheila. Thank you. :)

  11. Anonymous7:59 AM

    Stun and awe first thing in the morning could easily replace coffee, I think.

    You are beyond generous to do this - thank you! *-*

  12. Wow. I was really hoping I'd be one of the lucky 20, and here you are extending that to all of us. I can't tell you how much it is appreciated.

    I would also welcome comments from others who may have taken the time to read my story, (I'll leave this open, as I'm sure I speak for most of us). I have either posted here or on the sites of the authors if comments were encouraged. But for you to offer critique on all fifty of them, well, I can't tell you how much your generousity is appreciated. Thanks!

  13. Wow! Thank you very much!

  14. I, too, am amazed by your generosity.

    But that's one of the reasons this blog is one of my daily reads: your generosity of spirit is abundantly evident.

  15. Anonymous9:32 AM

    I'm left shaking my head in admiration and awe...but not surprise. It's so like you to want to do 100% (or more), and that's one of the reasons we love you so much. =)

    I didn't enter the challenge since I have no website or blog, but thank you for giving of yourself so, well, selflessly. =P A private critique from you is an amazing gift. God Bless you!

  16. Anonymous9:46 AM

    *joins in the SQEEE-fest! This is great! Thanks so much...

  17. Anonymous9:51 AM

    Hey PBW,
    This doesn't really have much to do with the topic, but I didn't know where else to ask.

    On another website you used to have you had a free ebook story called something like "Night of the Chameleon". I was wondering if you still had that and if you could add it to the free ebooks you already have given out because it was my favorite. Thanks.


  18. Wow, that is a generous thing to do. I didn't enter but just had to say I am happy for all those who did : )

  19. I didn't enter the challenge for a number of life-got-in-the-way reasons, but I wanted to comment on your generosity. I read your blog regularly and, as I've said before, if I'm ever fortunate enough to become published, you are my role model for giving back to the community.

    Thank you for all you do.


  20. Uh, I'll pass on the critique, though I appreciate the offer. It's enough having my published stuff critiqued, let alone free stuff. *g* (note my self-deprecating assumption that you'll hate it).

  21. Anonymous10:56 AM

    You are sweet beyond words! This is incredibly generous of you. Thanks so much!

  22. Anonymous10:57 AM

    PBW, that is AWESOME! Like Gabriele, I only wish I could've entered. But you're right, there IS next year. *grin* I'm working diligently on my story and plan to start writing around the holidays (most likely right after). Woot.

  23. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Oh, now I'm so jealous. Family obligations kept me from finishing, but I did try. In fact, this short is now going novel. That's not a bad thing in my opinion. But I'll be ready next time.

    I know you're a very busy woman and your generosity in doing this is terrific. Later, after all is said and done, I'd be interested in what the authors felt were the most helpful comments you made, what 'ah-ha' moments they had while reading your critiques. Only what they care to share, of course, and in generalities, nothing personal the author would feel uncomfortable about. I know I'd benefit from the discussion.

    Thanks. I've worked my way through the whole list! Impressive.

    Karen, the lurker

  24. Anonymous12:55 PM

    That's incredibly generous of you, Lynn. ;-)

  25. First of all - thank you for your generous offer! That is quite amazing!
    And second - I've been reading the stories, and you are in for quite a treat!
    I have been having a great time!!

  26. Thank you for this. You're so generous. This makes up for my sweater exploding in the washer this morning.

  27. Em, I've heard about sweaters shrinking in the washer, but exploding? How did you manage that?

    Ok, and now I better decide what NiP to use for Sheila's 2007 challenge. Maybe I should put up a poll. *grin*

  28. Thank you so much, PBW, for both encouraging and aiding us in exploring new ways to reach our audience and now for critiquing us, as well. You are Amazing Incarnate!

  29. Who Hoo! I can't wait!

  30. Anonymous8:32 PM

    Keep going.


    I Owe One to Robert Eggleton
    By Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

    Earlier this year I was contacted by a first-time novelist asking if I would review his forthcoming e-book. If people knew how many requests of this kind editors get, they would understand that out of self-preservation we sometimes . . . well, I ignored it.

    Robert tried again. There was something in the tone of his e-mail. Clearly this mattered to him. So I said yes, I’d take a look, though I didn’t think we could review Rarity From the Hollow. This is all fogged somewhat in memory: in the months since then our magazine moved its office, I was hospitalized for a cat bite (yes, they’re dangerous!), we’ve published several issues, read hundreds of manuscripts, I went to Africa, etc., etc. But as I recall, Robert sent me the first chapter, which begins with two impoverished schoolgirls (from the Hollow of the title) studying together and spelling the word for an adult sex toy. It was quirky, profane, disturbing. I said I’d look at the book, not entirely sure what I could do to help.

    He sent me the whole thing. I read portions of the book, which is subtitled “A Lacy Dawn Adventure,” after the girl protagonist, Lacy Dawn. I liked Lacy, who lives in a world of poverty, classmates with precocious sexual knowledge and/or experience, unemployed men, worn-down women and cruelty so casual that it’s more knee-jerk than intentional. Maybe I was just too bothered by the content, but at a certain point I knew I just couldn’t do anything. Time was nonexistent.

    So I deleted the book.

    Robert contacted me again, and I got soft. You see, there was something about the whole project in general. Robert is a social worker who has spent at least a portion of his career working with child-abuse victims in Appalachia. The book was partly about that, and mostly very strange. In the Hollow, Lacy takes up with an android named DotCom, from “out of state,” which really means out of this world. Under DotCom’s wing, she decides that she will “save” her family. Little does she know she will end up saving the universe. Robert was donating the proceeds from sales to help child-abuse victims.

    Robert is not a kid; he’s maybe my age, maybe older. This wasn’t about youthful ambition, vanity and reputation. It was about some kind of personal calling. I believe in those. I also believe in people who are driven to get their writing out there to an audience, through whatever venue. The e-book idea intrigued me. The earnestness of the appeal got to me. Send the book again, I said. He did. It’s still on my hard drive. (I suppose I should delete it, since I haven’t paid for it.)

    Robert kept after me. If I liked it, could I write a blurb? Yeah, of course. I was fund-raising for my African trip (a Habitat build), teaching, editing, raising three kids. But who isn’t busy? We set our own priorities. I put Robert and his book lower than some other things, which really wasn’t fair because I said I would do something, and I didn’t.

    And it has bothered me. Here’s another thing people don’t know about editors. They sometimes have consciences about books/stories/poems/whatever that they’ve allowed to get lost or neglected in the shuffle of what amounts to thousands of pages.

    So I’m belatedly giving Rarity From the Hollow a plug. Among its strengths are an ultra-convincing depiction of the lives, especially the inner lives, of the Appalachian protagonists. The grim details of their existence are delivered with such flat understatement that at times they almost become comic. And just when you think enough is enough, this world is just too ugly, Lacy’s father (who is being “fixed” with DotCom’s help) gets a job and Lacy, her mother and her dog take off for a trip to the mall “out of state” with Lacy’s android friend, now her “fiancĂ©” (though as Lacy’s mother points out, he doesn’t have any private parts, not even “a bump.”) In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.

    Rarity is published by FatCat Press, which has other e-books for sale as well. You can find it at www.fatcatpress.com. The blurb on the website says in part:

    Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her mom, her Vietnam Vet dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's very skilled at laying fiber-optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend, DotCom, has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. DotCom has been sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp: he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save Earth, and they must get a boatload of shopping done at the mall along the way. Saving Earth is important, but shopping – well, priorities are priorities.

    Yes, priorities are. I should have had mine in order. Robert Eggleton’s book deserves your attention. Check it out.

  31. Yayy! Totally cool, Lynn! So bring on the ax and start chopping mine away. *wg* Just kidding... I can't wait to read your critique.

  32. Thank you. Your generosity is becoming legendary. It's also a clear example of why people who are busy stay busy. And people who aren't just say they're too busy to help.

    The critique you've described sounds right on -- if someone can't use it to improve their work, they need more help than you could ever provide.

  33. Wow! It was a great treat to just be able to be linked on your site, but this is beyond generous! Thank you!

  34. Wow! How generous of you, PBW. I just wanted to say thank you in advance for your wonderful support.

  35. Anonymous4:23 PM

    Woo, i promise I'll be in on the next one.

    Now, I have a darkyn book, and Afterburn, and it's storming buckets ( we're being hit with a winter storm, 100 mph winds, and flooding up on the sidewalks,) so I think I'll go curl up and read.

    Afterburn here's got some serious shelf and table space going.

  36. Anonymous1:33 AM

    Thank you.

  37. That's so generous of you. Alas, I noticed a few typos on mine that got through. Thank you.


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