Friday, September 26, 2014
For All Authors in Need of a Laugh
Two weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a writers' conference. Lots of laughter, lots of stories, lots of prayer and wonderful inspiration and hope for the novel I'm working on. I'm hoping to share more about this novel, War of Loyalties, in the months to come. But today, I'd like to share a book review of a title that I heard about at the conference.
This book is for you writers. Especially you fiction writers. It will give you a glimpse into the life of a fictional author, and a breath of fresh air if you're starting down the hair-raising process of querying agents.
It's called Mr. Nary: The Story of How Grady Thoms Got Published, by Roo Carmichael. Told entirely through email narrative, this book is a piece of brilliance.
Grady Thoms is inspired by Bill Carmichael's novel, The Missionary, and wants to write a book just like it. So he emails Bill, who happens to be a publisher, and pitches his novel idea to him. Mr. Nary is the book's working title.
Private investigator Chuck Nary is asked to investigate the mysterious kidnapping of a couple on a cruise ship docked in Bolivia. Chuck agrees and flies to Bolivia, only to find out that Bolivia is a landlocked country and he's been set up. Grady tells Bill there will be excitement in all forms, including llama chases, poison, drug dealers, and a mute orphan.
Bill tries again and again to get rid of the guy, but Grady keeps emailing, and in desperation Bill turns him over to his young female assistant, Mair. Grady mixes a hilarious combination of novel writing, formatting questions, research gaffes, and dating advice into their correspondence.
It's sure to engage any author. And it's a splendid little piece of inspiration.
Actually, though this book is fiction, it started out in reality. Roo Carmichael (I'm assuming his first name isn't Roo) emailed fake emails to his father, Bill, as a practical joke, pretending to be an enthusiastic unpublished author with a wacky suspense novel in the works. Though it isn't conventional that editors help unpublished authors complete their first draft, Roo persisted under the fake name of Grady Thoms, and his dad, though he had a pretty shrewd idea it was his son, played along. The end result is a charming little satire on writing that I read all in one day. You will laugh; you will nod in agreement--and I think you'll take heart. If your writing isn't as bad as Grady Thom's, you have a pretty decent chance at publication. And even if it is, there's still a chance.
Seriously, he's incredibly naive. Soybeans, he finds, are a major cash crop in Bolivia, so Grady assures Mair he'll work that into his novel. He gets most of his writing advice from his redneck cousins, Chet and Jesse, and has an up-and-down relationship with Jenny, the morbid poet who lives in his apartment building. Trying to make a living on the side selling camping equipment, Grady dreams of the day that his book will be more successful than Bill's The Missionary, and has a happy ignorance of such concepts as 'editing' 'payment' and 'first draft'.
Mr. Nary, like most comedies, does contain some objectionable content. I've chosen to feature the book because it's so mild compared to others I've read that I think it's worth wading through; but you are forewarned. Since this book is in email format, I wrote down the subject lines of the emails with swearing and/or some mild sexual innuendo.
January--discussion of nude scene in two emails with subject line "Nude Scene". Needless to say, Grady Thoms was advised not to put it in. I just skipped this part.
"Curse Words"--lists curse words. Enough said. One email.
"Writer's Group Recap"--hapless Grady brings his book to an erotic science fiction writers' critique group. Mild inappropriate content. One email.
April--"A Drink with Jenny"--one inappropriate comment about ladies' wear. One email.
May--"THE Battle" and "THE Battle Conclusion"--three emails. Reference to Victoria's El Secreto, and etc.
Also, there are a couple of mild swear words scattered throughout this book, but barring the "Swear Words" email, maybe only three or four. It really takes longer to tell about these things than it does to skip over them.
You can check out the sample excerpt on Amazon. I read this book through the Kindle Unlimited program, and though I'll have to give it back when my free trial is over, it's a great way to sample new books.
Take heart, authors. There's a whole team of experts out there ready to help us get our books to the store shelves. And if you're in the throes of wrestling through editing, maybe check out this book for a laugh along the way? :) Let me know how you like it; I'd love to discuss it with you.