Exposed and unedited

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just finished editing 540 pages of the most uninteresting drivel ever written by man. That was the eighteenth book I have edited since I took on this freelance work late September of the past year. I’ve received fiction books, self-help, and just plain nonsense. Some books, like the last, were monstrous in length; others are no longer than an anti-drug use pamphlet. A few of them require no more than minor tweaks: the proper placement of punctuation marks and a slight adjustment in verb tenses. Most of them actually involve the thankless task of ghost writing. While I am obviously someone who loves books, none of these are ones I would voluntarily pick up at a bookstore, let alone shell out some cash for. The only reason I’m writing about them is that while sending off the last one just now, I realized just how true to form I am at everything in my life.

I start off each book with much reluctance, knowing the only reason I’m going to open it is because I am paid to do so. I listlessly peck at every correction, every few seconds checking the number of pages I have completed and convince myself that the end of this torture is in sight. I mentally debate with the author every senseless point and ignorant mistake he has made (eg. What the hell? Whose rule says you have to put a comma there? WTF? Why is your character doing that?), until I get to the point of sheer apathy. And then, at the last few hours before deadline, I am suddenly seized with the drive to maniacally finish this book and ship it off and out of my life. I hunch in front of my laptop, my fingers seemingly permanently curved over the keys, my back complaining about the 4-hour marathon I’m doing.

But always, as soon as that send button is clicked, I feel at a loss. Something that has consumed my waking hours for the last five days or so is suddenly finished, and now I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ll be checking and rechecking my inbox, hoping against hope that a new book has been sent my way, realizing that only when I am doing something, even a task I absolutely dislike, does my life feel like it serves some purpose.


That’s a crime

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am not really into trying out new authors unless I trust the person who recommended him or her to me. At a moment of weakness and boredom, however, I came upon this book and was glad I took the time to open it. I’ve not researched Jillian Hoffman, so I don’t really know much about her, only that this particular book was an enjoyable read. I’m a big fan of CSI, Bones and Criminal Minds so the plot was nothing new to me. The thing that made this book difficult to put down was the kind of emotion Hoffman puts into her characters. They’re not the canned criminal and victim stereotypes but are real people caught in unusual circumstances. I’m not out to hoard all of Hoffman’s books yet but I would definitely pick her up again when given the chance.

Once upon a time, there was such a thing as happily ever after

March 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is old-school romance at its best. Girl meets boy and they hate each other but they find themselves married for the sake of a kingdom. Love, hate, betrayal and a happy ending like no other is what you will find in A Kingdom of Dreams. This, after Paradise, is my favorite novel from Judith McNaught. I love how the innocence of Jennifer Merrick chips away at the hard-hewn exterior of Royce Westmoreland and finally lands her right smack in the middle of his life and heart. In anybody else’s hands this would have been one of those bodice-ripper novels where, since everyone knows they just have to end up together, all the details that make up the story would have been mere background. But with Judith McNaught, no story is a story unless it’s made up of an engaging cast of characters you fall in love with even as you sit enthralled at how on earth the main characters could ever get together with everything against this possibility. This was one of those books I started to read right before bedtime and ended up almost missing school for. So I suggest you devote an entire weekend to reading this one. Make sure you’ve got the tissues and chocolates within arm’s reach when you do.

That scheming momma!

March 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

This book was my introduction to Susan Elizabeth Philips. Every member of the unShelved has her own quirks and abilities. For one of us, it’s this knack for discovering authors all of us would enjoy reading. Which, incidentally, saves us a lot of money as one book can be passed around amongst all of us. But, as usual, I digress. This book is quite unconventional for a romance. Just take the main characters, for instance. A 34-year-old physics professor and a star quarterback. The physics professor decides the only way she could have a baby is to find a suitable candidate as a sperm donor. Enter our star quarterback, only they have to do this the hard way and the physics professor pretends to be a hooker for a night and gets her baby the old-fashioned way. And so begins their love story, in a roundabout way. You might be wondering just how they could proceed with such a huge deception opening up a chasm between them, but that is the magic of Susan Elizabeth Philips. She would put together the most unlikely of pairs, put them in seemingly implausible situations and still leave you, the reader, feverishly turning the pages, laughing the entire time, to find out how they all live happily ever after. You may never land yourself the unknowing prince charming described between these pages, but this book will make you wonder as you savor every word of it.

Judith, My Love

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

I can’t believe it’s been more than two decades since I read this book and discovered what love could be like, in Utopia, according to Judith McNaught. Whitney should have sounded like a ninny, what with her attempts to catch the attention of a bemused Paul. Going as far as suffering some time abroad to polish her social skills and come back as a real lady Paul could fall for. Her impoverished father lays waste to her plans, marrying her off to a Duke. I know, I know – drivel. But Judith McNaught has the amazing ability to turn the most unlikely of characters into a charming heroine you could so easily relate to. And while the chances of your meeting a Duke might be close to nil, you just can’t help but dream that one day one would find you and fall so deeply in love that he would accept you, torn stockings and all, to whisk you away to his castle while the sun lazily sets in the horizon.

Singletons of the world, unite!

March 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Reasonably attractive, highly intelligent and gainfully employed. So why are we still single? I’m taking Bridget Jones’s angle and saying: Because men are idiots. They never recognize the good stuff right under their nose becuase they’re either too busy making sure their insecurities are not showing or picking up their jaw where it dropped on the floor when that busty blonde walked past. There are all kinds of women out there and sometimes you wonder, how come she’s married and I’m not? But then you see the comedy of errors that is relationships and you think, I dodged the bullet. So here’s to all the singletons out there. We’re not always happy about our weight and most of our Friday nights are spent at home alone, snuggled under the covers with a good book. You might as well have a funny woman you can relate to for company.

What dreams may come

March 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve always been fascinated by mythologies of the world. They reflect the psyche that made us who we are today. And when good writers such as Neil Gaiman and Sherrilyn Kenyon are able to use the reader’s knowledge of mythology to weave a completely new story, you’re assured of quite a few hours of riveted reading. When I was in high school, my sister used to bring borrowed Sandman graphic novels home but I never read through them since in my intellectually snobbish days I just thought of them as “comics”. It was only when I started working for a publishing company and a colleague lent me her copy of American Gods that I discovered the appeal of Neil Gaiman. For a few hours, he draws you into a world so unlike your own that you find yourself both repulsed and fascinated by it. These are worlds you like to visit and explore but are glad you can leave after putting the book down. He’s the kind of writer I want to sit down with and talk shop over a cup of coffee. I’d love to get the chance to pick his brain, literally, and wade through it’s dark, twisted mess. And who wouldn’t? This is a guy after all whose book is prefaced by someone who says people become writers for the opportunity to become god makers.

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