Friday, April 3, 2009

Care for a Sandwich? The ABNA Reviews are in

They came in last night. I had nearly given up on seeing them. The crack about the egg-salad sandwich threw me for a loop. That was all I saw yesterday.

Then today I was able to pass this by a friend and now it all makes sense. They liked my writing, my characters, my story was good -- it just lacked the right hook.

Well -- yeah, I knew that. Silly me. I've spent the last month working on the first chapter, and ripped 6 pages out of it, and put in a good hook that should work for just about everyone.

ABNA Expert Reviewer I
'"Let's Do Lunch" is a small diner owned and run by Lindsey Bennett and her family. Fresh produce is grown on the family farm of fifteen prime acres and brought in each day for preparation. Old-timers and regulars are the bulk of her business and the lunch rush keeps Lindsey and the family busy, but profitable.

Amusing, teasing banter and detailed descriptions of the hybrid farm/restaurant help make this writing charming and appropriate for the subject. Each of the small, tightly-knit cast has their contribution such as the waitress Heather threatening a Big Mac for a teasingly mocking customer, Rose's hope that her grandson will stay in school and avoid drugs and gangs, and mother Eleanor whose demeanor is "as if she found life an amusing challenge."

Lindsey is hiring a new cook and a handsome applicant meets her for the interview. Brandon Pendleton, an army veteran and an experienced cook, has a brilliant smile and neither he nor Lindsey are very good at hiding their mutual attraction. Is this the beginning of a relationship or are Brandon's quick words and matching demeanor a sign of danger? What is Lindsey inviting into the safety of her steady security? Only the reader suspects.

"Let's Do Lunch" is attractively written. The homespun quality of the characters serve the writing well and the description is detailed -- perhaps too much so. Other than the introduction of Pendleton, there is little left to wonder; the direction the author might take the novel could be any. In fact the opening is so generic as to be of interest to organic gardeners and restaurateurs; I wished at least for more biting repartee or other text I might sink my teeth into. "Let's Do Lunch" is about as pleasant and innocuous as an egg salad sandwich.'

ABNA Expert Reviewer II

'The sample seems like a fine beginning to a straight-up romance. I can't imagine what the conflict in the story will be, though, aside from romantic entanglements. That makes it a little hard to judge the originality.

The conversations and dialog seem very well written. There are a couple of sentences where I thought it might have read better with more contractions to seem more natural, but overall the voices are good. Unfortunately, there are several spelling errors and grammatical mistakes that detract from my enjoyment. It's just easier to read an error-free story - you don't get pulled out of the plot and back to reality if the writing is pristine.

Some of the narrative seems just a little mundane, maybe including things step-by-step that bog the story down and could have been left out. I'd have to have more of a plot summary before deciding if I'd want to finish this. As it starts, the hook just isn't there to make me want to know more.'


Ink said...

Those aren't bad reviews, really. Writing solid, but maybe need more of a hook... That's encouraging, really. It means your writing is up to snuff, and it's particular things that need working on. It's easy to fix particular things, while poor writing... that's a much longer haul.

Beginnings, to me, are always the toughest. I usually do ten times more work on beginnings than anything else. And the first "beginning" I choose is often not the one I end up using. But you have to start somewhere on that first draft. And afterward you get to whip out the scalpel!

Though, I will admit, the sandwich comment was kind of a funny one. And I don't like egg salad. Maybe you could make it into a nice Turkey sandwich? :)


Ink said...

Oh, and just thinking about Authonomy makes my head hurt. Are you enjoying the process? Or at least finding it helpful?

Ms Kitty said...

Yeah, once I got past the sandwich crack, I realized that I did very well. I couldn't have missed the cut by much.

That first chapter - well, it's back to the drawing board for another pass. Taire has been helpful, as has a guy from Scotland who's an excellent writer.

Authonomy has been really interesting. The book has gone from 153 to 14 on the romance chart, in two weeks.

I've had to read and comment on a few books that I didn't care for, but I've read some gems that just need some work too.

The politics of the place is daunting. However, the people commenting and reviewing now are people high up on the charts that I've never seen on the forums. So there must be a 'silent majority' who have discovered the book somehow.

Thus far it's been very positive, but a big time drain. I'm at the point where I'm backing off enough to get my chores done.