Monthly Archives: January 2017

Searching for Stardust

A group of retrieval experts are contracted by a rich woman to retrieve the body of her daughter, who has been thrown from the airlock of a space-cruiser by her father. The team decides to go private in order to help this woman get the closure that the sentencing and execution of her husband will not bring her.

 

It’s possible to read the first chapter in Books -> Searching for Stardust -> Read the First Chapter

How to write a rejection letter

When I think about rejection the usual feelings bubble up. As an author I don’t like reading rejection letters; honestly they are something that brings a sort of ‘the world is falling around my ears and my heart is shattering into a million pieces’ kind of feeling. But how to write one? I love (or hate) the classic words;

“your project is not a good fit for our list at this time”

Or even;

“I didn’t quite feel the connection to your work that I think would be needed”

These are beautifully phrased ways of saying “your work is not good enough”. I’m a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory (both the Chuck Lorre TV show and the theory of the birth of the universe). The TV show has a large number of somewhat offensive stereotypes, it has fake laughter that when removed leaves long and awkward pauses and sometimes the jokes are more sexist than funny but whenever I get one of these dispiriting emails or letters, I think of a particular scene. In it, Amy Farah Fowler is trying to find a way to tell Bert (a large, lumbering but pleasant geologist) that she is not interested because she has a boyfriend. Raj and Howard offer their advice on exactly how they would like to be let down. My heart goes out to Raj’s response to this query;

“I’d like her to sit me down, look me in the eye and say, I was wrong. I love you.”

That is what every author wants to hear. We want the editor we sent a hesitant and frankly self-selling email with a couple of chapters attached to reply back with a warm and fuzzy paragraph telling us that they want us and our creative spirits, and they want to give us a lot of money for the privilege.

People say that Harry Potter received loads of rejections. So did Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. They all made their authors an awful lot of money despite not being terribly complicated or deep. Sure, Harry Potter tackled a lot of issues in a  very accessible way despite its young audience, but accessible is really the key word. None of those three are the work of Charles Dickens (and author that, although he churned out a lot of ‘classics’, I’m not a huge fan of), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most authors wouldn’t be too proud to admit that they would love to be able to make money off of their creative works. Vincent Van Gogh didn’t make a lot of money while he was alive form his paintings, but they became very valuable after he died and everyone realised how good it was. I can bet no author wants that to be their legacy. It’s nice to think my work might be valuable in a long time, but I’d also like to think it could be a source of income for me now.

 

Who’s with me?

 

The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs

 

Having just finished my Bachelor’s degree at the end of 2016 I was looking forward to being able to maybe move into a world where I didn’t have homework for the first time since 2000. That isn’t going to happen in the long term (I will need at least two more degrees to achieve anything in my field) but for this year I am having 12 months of homework-free time. When it came to shopping for Christmas I wondered into a book store and saw an entire stand of  Kathy Reichs’ new book; The Bone Collection. Honestly, I haven’t been a huge fan from the start of her work –  despite my love of Bones – but when it came time for my relatives to give the traditional “What do you want for Christmas darling?”, this year I actually had the answer. I don’t usually read blurbs but when I saw the new book in the store I picked it up and flipped it over. I don’t know what made me do it but a single line caught my eye.

In ‘First Bones’, a prequel to Reichs’ very first novel, ‘Deja Dead’, she at last reveals how Tempe became a forensic anthropologist…

That line held me for a second longer than I would usually peruse a blurb and that made me decide I wanted the book. I wanted to buy it but I was conscious that my father is prone to chastising me for buying things close to Christmas and birthdays because it eliminates options for him to buy me things. So that was how I answered the pesky question of what I wanted. And then the book, well written and interesting and intense, took me about 18 hours to read.

The first of the four stories is called Bones in her Pocket. It is a neat story; simple writing but I appreciate the first person POV. I loved the twist at the end and the depth Kathy managed to convey in her characters without having too many words to fling around. I also appreciated the dialogue, and how each character managed to embrace their own way of speaking without making the words too difficult to understand. Overall this first short story was fantastic and it really sucked me in. It was definitely a story that made sure I finished the book in less than a day.

Next comes Swamp Bones. I really liked the injection of another forensic professional; I liked the typical danger faced by Tempe and the fact that both her knowledge and inter-personal skills were tested. Like the first story, little facts were scattered throughout the story and I liked the little nuggets of information.

Bones on Ice was a fantastic story. I loved the intrigue; there was something almost Matthew Reilly about it (not that I particularly love him as a writer, but I like some of his old stuff). The conspiracy and the concept of the illusion of wealth and power… It was a fascinating story and I would have liked to see it in a movie or something.

Finally, the story I wanted this book for; First Bones. I mentioned before, and in previous posts, that I graduated recently. Without revealing too much, essentially I have a degree in science and my major is Biological Anthropology and one of my minors is Forensic Anthropology. I was an avid watcher of Bones and I knew what I wanted to do with my life was identify unidentifiable bodies. This was my end-point until one of my lecturers mentioned that in the whole of Australia, a country with a population of over 20’000’000 people, there are (or were) only 2 professional full time Forensic Anthropologists. Only 2. This somewhat blew my endpoint out of the water. The reason for this of course is that Australia has a much lower homicide rate that other places, such as the USA, and fewer unidentifiable bodies too. That’s why the last story in this collection sung to me so loudly; it’s about Tempe getting her start. Because she doesn’t always want to be where she ends up. For some reason, I just really like that fact that it came upon her by chance – possibly because unless chance gives it to me I’m not going to get to where I want to be.

So, in short, I loved this book. I think I might go back and reread her other books too, because maybe I just didn’t judge them right at the time.