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Old 05-19-2019, 09:43 AM
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If you can't take critisism, don't go requesting reviews


So this guy requests a review for his self-published horror novel from an fairly large, but hobbyist, movie and book review site. The reviewer thinks the book is shit, puts this in the nicest terms possible, but the site founder still gives the author the courtesy of sending him an email saying the review is probably not what he hoped for, but "don't be discouraged, keep writing, people have different likes and dislikes and you don't have to read the review if you don't want to".

He goes absolutely ballistic in an essay length email about how they shouldn't publish the review if it is bad and how he's a genius and the book is perfect, which the site then publishes in full, since their submission policy includes "If you're an asshole, we will publish your emails to us".

This is not a review of Hell's Shadows

You can "look into" the book on Amazon by the way, and if anything the reviewer was being kind. It's atrocious in so many ways.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:00 AM
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I've been following this slow-motion trainwreck, but this is the first time I've looked at the Look Inside (it wasn't available on my phone for whatever reason).

Holy purple prose, Batman! O.o

This guy definitely isn't doing the vast percentage of respectable self-published authors any favors...
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:11 AM
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Amazon lists a paperback version available for $899.99. So I'm going to pass.

I'm curious. It was published in 2012. Why is the kerfuffle happening now?
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:13 AM
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Not sure, but it looks like the book was submitted to the SciFi and Scary site for a review recently. The Goodreads review was posted in late April of this year. No idea why they waited that long to submit it.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:14 AM
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Amazon lists a paperback version available for $899.99. So I'm going to pass.

I'm curious. It was published in 2012. Why is the kerfuffle happening now?
Now is when he decided to start a fight with a review site.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:17 AM
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Here are the first three sentences of the novel:

Quote:
The scene was overpowering. A choking sight of a decomposing house being swallowed by gnarled trees and rampant undergrowth. And that was only one of Gil Turner's depressing memories of the awful day he and Robin first set eyes upon an old home ravaged by time that, from all accounts as they were to learn, never had any good days.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:27 AM
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Here are the first three sentences of the novel:
ooooooooooo!, that's a long walk, and I'm not entirely sure where we've ended up.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:34 AM
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This guy definitely isn't doing the vast percentage of respectable self-published authors any favors...
There are GOOD self-published authors? I mean, even I'm not egotistical enough to try.

Last edited by dropzone; 05-19-2019 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:38 AM
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I liked the part where he bragged about how his books (written by Dean KLEIN) were shelved right next to Stephen KING's books, and thought that indicated that the store's staff regarded his book very highly.

I just read two whole pages of Hell's Shadows. Holy cow. It may not be the worst prose I've ever read, but offhand I can't recall anything worse. Too bad the paperback is $900 on Amazon.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:47 AM
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There are GOOD self-published authors? I mean, even I'm not egotistical enough to try.
Yes. There are lots of good self-published authors. And there are lots of successful self-published authors. Whether the two intersect is up to each individual reader, but both exist.

(I'm a decently successful self-published author - to the point where I do it as a full-time job. I would never presume to tell anyone whether I'm any good, though. Once again, that's up to the readers.)
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:51 AM
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Here are the first three sentences of the novel:
More:

Quote:
Quickly and with great urgency but also incredulous to find himself, out of a clear blue sky, to be abruptly worried for the very life of his wife, Gil lifted Robin from the seat to place her on the ground just beyond the shoulder of the road.
That sentence should be taken out and shot...
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:55 AM
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That sentence should be taken out and shot...
Is the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest still going on?
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:58 AM
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I liked the part where he bragged about how his books (written by Dean KLEIN) were shelved right next to Stephen KING's books, and thought that indicated that the store's staff regarded his book very highly.
All my future plays will be published under my new nom de plume, William Shekespeare.

Last edited by TriPolar; 05-19-2019 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 05-19-2019, 11:00 AM
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Anyone feel this whole thing might be manufactured to make that book go viral?
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Old 05-19-2019, 11:02 AM
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Anyone feel this whole thing might be manufactured to make that book go viral?
Wouldn't that only work if the book were available for purchase, though? He pulled it when this whole thing blew up.
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Old 05-19-2019, 11:23 AM
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Wouldn't that only work if the book were available for purchase, though? He pulled it when this whole thing blew up.
Ah, I missed that part. There goes that theory then, it's just a crazy person.
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Old 05-19-2019, 11:25 AM
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Ah, I missed that part. There goes that theory then, it's just a crazy person.
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Old 05-19-2019, 12:25 PM
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Yes. There are lots of good self-published authors. And there are lots of successful self-published authors. Whether the two intersect is up to each individual reader, but both exist.
Yes, I was unfair. The recent self-published bestsellers range from The Martian to Fifth Shades of Gray .

Quote:
(I'm a decently successful self-published author - to the point where I do it as a full-time job. I would never presume to tell anyone whether I'm any good, though. Once again, that's up to the readers.)
The bolded part points to your quality.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:23 PM
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I heard about this about a week ago.

It's quite clear the reason why his prose is so bad is his arrogance. He falls in love with his own prose and sees no reason to think about making it better.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:34 PM
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I heard about this about a week ago.

It's quite clear the reason why his prose is so bad is his arrogance. He falls in love with his own prose and sees no reason to think about making it better.
I worked in college as a writing tutor, and most students came to me with passable prose and humility, and it was a delight to work with them to polish and improve their work.

But I remember clearly the guy who came to me with something nearly unintelligible--one sentence was something like, "Through the air of the nestled permutations of spring I was to receive harmoniously the meanderings which were birdlike in composition," only I'm trying really hard to make it as overwrought and stupid as his sentence was and failing. He meant to say, "I heard a bird sing."

But when I told him that his sentences were hard to understand, he sneered and explained to me that it was his poetic style.

Nothing I did persuaded him that his writing was awful, and he left in disgust.

I wonder if he went on to write horror novels.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:43 PM
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All my future plays will be published under my new nom de plume, William Shekespeare.
Cool! Your books will be right next to mine then, I'm publishing under Billy Shakes-Pear.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:52 PM
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Yes, I was unfair. The recent self-published bestsellers range from The Martian to Fifth Shades of Gray .
When Fifty Shades of Gray got published big time I looked it up on Goodreads and found it very interesting how practically every rating was two stars or five. Now Fifty Shades, terrible though it may be, is so much better than this, but unfortunately it only has one review before this viral kerfuffle, a five star review from 2013. The same applies to his other books. A smattering of five or four star reviews.
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Old 05-19-2019, 01:55 PM
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It's quite clear the reason why his prose is so bad is his arrogance. He falls in love with his own prose and sees no reason to think about making it better.
Yeah, people hate that, all right.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:09 PM
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There are GOOD self-published authors? I mean, even I'm not egotistical enough to try.
Do you mean "good" in a literary sense or in a "financially successful" sense?

There are two authors on the Dope who are self-published (I think - at least they started that way) who I enjoy and I even wrote some positive reviews for one of them.

The Wool/Dust/Shift series was self-published to start.

I believe Fifity Shades of Gray started as a fanfic, even lower than self-published, and went on to financial success and becoming a movie.

The Martian started as a podcast - not sure if that counts - then was published in print form and later turned into a movie starring Matt Damon. If it does count, it counts both ways.

In other words - yes, it's possible to have good, self-published authors. They are, however, extremely rare.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:12 PM
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It’s always a swift move to claim that your writing is so clever and nuanced that it clearly went way over the head of the reviewer.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:21 PM
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I believe Fifity Shades of Gray started as a fanfic, even lower than self-published, and went on to financial success and becoming a movie.
Twilight fanfic, which is even lower than regular fanfic.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:39 PM
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I've never had the hubris to submit any of my writing.

I had the impression most publishing companies typically demand a lot of rewrites or they completely reject it?

Self-publishers side-step that process to their detriment. It must be hard finding reviewers that provide reliable critiques for rewrites.
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Old 05-19-2019, 02:55 PM
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All my future plays will be published under my new nom de plume, William Shekespeare.
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Cool! Your books will be right next to mine then, I'm publishing under Billy Shakes-Pear.
If either of you decide to write erotica, I've got dibs on Big Billy Quivering-rod
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:19 PM
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The most jaw-dropping part was when he got only a four-star review and browbeat the magazine to give him five.
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Old 05-19-2019, 03:32 PM
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I don't believe he's some random arrogant guy. He's either a good troll pretending to be a bad author (that's what I suspect), or mentally very disturbed.
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Old 05-19-2019, 04:17 PM
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Certainly not a troll. The book existed, was online, and was reviewed in online magazines. He makes it clear when he got the four-star review that someone else was reviewing it.

It's also a pretty complicated way to troll.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:09 PM
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The notion that you should only review something if you're going to say it's good is asinine. It negates the whole point of reviews.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:22 PM
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Any person who shows anything the "I made it myself" category, had better be prepared to accept any response they get.

As we used to say in P.R., if you want to make sure the story says exactly what you want it to say, buy an ad.

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Old 05-19-2019, 05:24 PM
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That sentence should be taken out and shot...
Don't worry. It will die from self-asphyxiation.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:25 PM
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Want to bet this guy never participated in a critique group? Or if he did, they are all buried in his lawn?
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:32 PM
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I've never had the hubris to submit any of my writing.
I have. You need a thick skin to do it, there's a lot of rejection - and I say that as someone who has actually been published. Acceptance once is no guarantee of further acceptance down the line.

Quote:
I had the impression most publishing companies typically demand a lot of rewrites or they completely reject it?
My experience is they mostly just reject it. Most of them are at least polite about it, something along the lines of "Thanks for the submission but it does not meet our needs at this time."

Quote:
Self-publishers side-step that process to their detriment. It must be hard finding reviewers that provide reliable critiques for rewrites.
These days there are on-line communities/groups that will help you with editing, rewrites, and constructive criticism IF you are adult enough, and ego-secure enough, to deal with it.

Those who throw spoiled-brat tantrums tend to be just as rejected as their poor writing.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:47 PM
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I had the impression most publishing companies typically demand a lot of rewrites or they completely reject it?.
No. A book publisher will make suggestions after they buy your book, and most of them are things you realize will definitely improve the book. You aren't even required to accept them, but it's best to be able to articulate why, at least. It'll only be a couple of chapters at most. Usually, you just turn in the changes and they take them.

You are always part of the editing process.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:57 PM
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Checking the reviewers on Amazon who gave him 5 stars shows several whose profiles make me think ‘astroturfing’ is involved. In particular ‘Angel Love’ submitted about 70 or 80 reviews on one day (I stopped counting at 40), all 5 star. All the book reviews ‘Angel’ wrote were mostly the same, ‘enjoyed the book with all the twists and turns’.

I wonder what that job pays?
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Old 05-19-2019, 06:07 PM
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Checking the reviewers on Amazon who gave him 5 stars shows several whose profiles make me think ‘astroturfing’ is involved. In particular ‘Angel Love’ submitted about 70 or 80 reviews on one day (I stopped counting at 40), all 5 star. All the book reviews ‘Angel’ wrote were mostly the same, ‘enjoyed the book with all the twists and turns’.

I wonder what that job pays?
Free books.

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Old 05-19-2019, 06:55 PM
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Quoth RealityChuck:

It's quite clear the reason why his prose is so bad is his arrogance. He falls in love with his own prose and sees no reason to think about making it better.
No, that'd explain why he's publishing the first draft, but it still doesn't account for why the first draft is so bad. And with how complicated those sentences are, I'd actually suspect the reverse: That he started simpler, and then went back with a thesaurus to embellish everything.
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Old 05-19-2019, 07:12 PM
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No, that'd explain why he's publishing the first draft, but it still doesn't account for why the first draft is so bad. And with how complicated those sentences are, I'd actually suspect the reverse: That he started simpler, and then went back with a thesaurus to embellish everything.
Yeah--if you can write clear prose, writing sentences that godawful is really hard.

Take the example sentence, which I'm going to try to dissect here:

"Quickly and with great urgency but also incredulous to find himself, out of a clear blue sky, to be abruptly worried for the very life of his wife, Gil lifted Robin from the seat to place her on the ground just beyond the shoulder of the road. "

Quick rewrite:

Quote:
Gil lifted Robin out of her seat and set her down on the side of the road.
The word "lifted," in the original sentence, is modified with two adverbs (well, an adverb and an adverbial phrase): "Quickly" and "with great urgency." Each adverb is separated from the verb by more than two dozen words. The adverbs mean basically the same thing here.

"Gil" is modified by the adjective "incredulous." This adjective is connected to the adverbs with the conjunction "but," which should only be used to connect similar parts of speech.

"Incredulous" is modified by the adverbial phrase "to find himself."

"To find himself" is modified by two adverbial phrases: "Out of a clear blue sky" and "to be worried."

"To be worried" is modified by two adverbs: "abruptly" and "for the life of his wife."

"Abruptly" and "out of a clear blue sky" have essentially the same meaning.

"Life" is modified by the adverb "very."

And that's just up through the first verb in the main clause of the sentence. It doesn't get into how "to place" is used to modify "lifted" or how nested adverbial phrases are used to modify "to place."

As I count, the sentence only contains one actual grammatical error--the use of "but" to link an adjective to a couple of adverbs--but it has so many nested adverbial phrases that it's nearly impossible to read straight through without confusion.

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 05-19-2019 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 05-19-2019, 07:46 PM
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No, that'd explain why he's publishing the first draft, but it still doesn't account for why the first draft is so bad. And with how complicated those sentences are, I'd actually suspect the reverse: That he started simpler, and then went back with a thesaurus to embellish everything.
Lawrence Block is by far the wittiest man I met during 20 years editing crime and mystery novels.

I attended a panel at a mystery conference years ago where an audience member stood up and demanded to know how the panelists constructed their novels. Four of them went on and on about creating outlines, filling in detail, beginning the draft, and then the relentless re-writing.

Larry came in at the end with “I never write an outline....I write the first draft really fast....and then I publish it.”
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  #43  
Old 05-20-2019, 09:36 AM
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I've never had the hubris to submit any of my writing.

I had the impression most publishing companies typically demand a lot of rewrites or they completely reject it?

Self-publishers side-step that process to their detriment. It must be hard finding reviewers that provide reliable critiques for rewrites.
I'm thinking you're not familiar with modern-day self publishing. That's cool--a lot of people aren't. But the days of "I write something, slap a cover on it, throw it out on Amazon and rake in the bucks" are long gone. Sure, people still write that way--there's nothing stopping them from doing it--but those folks don't make more than a few bucks selling their books to family and friends.

Nowadays, the self-published authors who take their work seriously differ very little from traditionally published authors. They pay professional editors to go through their books (some of them even pay different types of editors: copy, developmental, and proofreaders, but that's rarer--most use one editor and maybe some ARC readers or beta readers to catch typos). They pay professional cover designers to make their covers (with an eye toward what's selling in their particular genre). They spend a lot of money on marketing via Facebook, Amazon Ads, BookBub, and other sources. I can say with complete confidence that there are many self-published books out there that have every bit the quality level and engaging stories as the stuff put out by the publishing houses.

Self publishing isn't the last resort of the incompetent writer anymore. Many of us choose to self-pub, both because we want to retain control over our process and our release cycle, and because we want to keep a significantly larger chunk of our royalties.

Are there self-published literary masterpieces? I don't know. I haven't personally seen any, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. But I'm aware of (as in, I've either met them in person, taken one of their courses, or in once case had dinner with) at least seven self-published authors, in the fantasy/sci-fi, thriller, and romance genres, who bring in over a million dollars a year with their work.

Last edited by Infovore; 05-20-2019 at 09:37 AM.
  #44  
Old 05-20-2019, 10:26 AM
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Anyone feel this whole thing might be manufactured to make that book go viral?
Like ebola?
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:45 PM
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This is performance art, isn't it?
I mean, and I use the word 'literally' here very conscious of it's actual meaning, most people could literally not write that badly if they tried: Any one of those sentences would be finalists and likely winners in the Bulwer Lytton contest.

Please tell me these sentences weren't written by someone trying to write well. Seriously, please tell me that. The thought that someone really thinks these are good is unnerving. No, more than unnerving. It calls into question everything I know about honest effort and craft and humanity itself. The sentences are a glimpse into a normally-unseen abyss of horror; one that I have until now been ignorant of. But now I can't escape the knowledge that it exists, that under our normal, sane, everyday lives of nouns and verbs that mostly agree, lurks .. that thing, that twisted affront to reason, goodness and hope. For God's sake, tell me this is all a joke. Please.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:02 PM
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This is performance art, isn't it?
I mean, and I use the word 'literally' here very conscious of it's actual meaning, most people could literally not write that badly if they tried: Any one of those sentences would be finalists and likely winners in the Bulwer Lytton contest.
I don't think Klein was trying to write that bad. Sometimes you just can't improve on the talent you were born with.

Has anyone seen samples of any of his other "books"?
  #47  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naita View Post
Here are the first three sentences of the novel:
It was a dark and stormy night........
  #48  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Clark View Post
I don't think Klein was trying to write that bad. Sometimes you just can't improve on the talent you were born with.

Has anyone seen samples of any of his other "books"?
He's got another Kindle book up (actually three of them, but they're Parts 1 through 3 of the same story), and the biggest part of the Look Inside is a bunch of giant stars. Seriously, they're huge. The writing style, once we actually get to it, looks about the same.

Edit: Part Three is seven hundred pages. Here's the blurb:

Quote:
Part three of The Amulet is the mountainous dessert of the story. If you've read the first two parts of The Amulet and think you have it figured out, you haven't. Probably not even close. You are about to taste a dessert of a flavor with which no reader is familiar. Of course, much in part three will delight you, but other pages will grip you while still others will shock you. And the conclusion? Well, that rivals or exceeds the ending of the classic film that inspired this novel - Raiders of the Lost Ark. So fasten your seat belt. This part is quite a ride. Near the end of The Amulet, you'll be passing through Level 5 rapids.
Please note that part three contains approximately 40% more pages than parts one and two combined.

Last edited by Infovore; 05-20-2019 at 04:17 PM.
  #49  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:37 PM
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This is the opening paragraph of The Amulecross A Christian Thriller Part One Relic:


Quote:
It was already hot. And it was only morning. So it went. For twelve hours each day, every day, a seething self-luminous giant angrily asserted itself over this bleak desert terrain as it-had for millions of years past...branding it with its fierce light and blistering heat before returning twelve hours later to brand it again. Clouds that tried to challenge the searing authority of this cosmic power could offer no more than fleeting cover against a relentless solar assault that long ago had desiccated this part of the world. The scarcity of anything green on the ground testified to the strength and radiance of this monstrous inferno. It alone was responsible for the sere nature of the soil. Only the pale limestone cliffs, barren plateaus, craggy rock formations and the hardiest plants that sparsely dotted the vast expanse of desert wilderness were oblivious to the brutal effects of such inimical luminosity and temperature. This was the scathing land upon which Ali lived with his father, mother and two brothers.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 05-20-2019 at 04:38 PM.
  #50  
Old 05-20-2019, 04:46 PM
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In "Editorial Reviews" "From the Author", he asks that nobody buy used copies of his books or books by anyone else:


Quote:
One more thing! On my Kindle page you will note offers from third-party vendors for new or used copies of my book(s) they claim are available from them. New copies are ONLY available from Amazon. It is also not at all clear how these outfits could even obtain a used copy my works. Therefore, please do not patronize these companies for my or any author's work as whatever copies they profess to have may be defective and are certainly older copies that do not embody the latest refinements to the story. Thank you.
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