Fresh writing from a debut author
I was recently contacted by Authoramp, asking me if I would review a new title from my good friends at Wilde City Press. I’ve met the owner, Ethan Day, at GRL in Chicago last year, and I’ve found Ethan to be the sort of person I trust. Therefore, to read and review a new book from his publishing house would certainly prove to be an interesting read. I was not disappointed.
The debut novel from A. C. Burch, The HomePort Journals, is a novel that eludes me in terms of genre:
There are elements of paranormality, there’s a dash of eroticism, there’s romance, there’s mystery, even a faint hint of thriller, there’s plenty of epic saga, excitement, woven together by exquisite descriptions of locations and characters that literally sprang to life before my inner eye.
I have to apologize if I didn’t know that Provincetown was a real place when I picked up the book, there is a drawn map at the beginning, and I wasn’t sure if it was aimed at making it easier to picture an imaginary place or just serve those among us geographically challenged. Turns out that Provincetown is the equivalent to Europe’s Sitges, a very real place on the Eastern Massachusetts seaboard. Sorry for my ignorance, and thank goodness for Google and maps! The reason why I googled the name of the town was because our main protagonist, Marcus, or Marc as he prefers to go by, drove all night from New York to Provincetown. Why, that you can read for yourself. It made me curious as to where the story plays out. I often do that, do get a better feel for a book.
A.C. Burch, Author of The HomePort Journals
When you start to read a new story, it usually takes you a while before you’re drawn into it, you need information about the place to get a decent picture. The HomePort Journals is no different, yet as we’re immediately thrown off the deep end and straight into action, with Marc chasing groceries on a rainy main street, the start stretch is shorter than usual. I was hooked, particularly when he returns to his hot chocolate and finds it gone, drunk by the lady he tried to help. It was such an odd thing to do, that I got curious to learn more about her.
I’m not the sort of reviewer who writes a synopsis or a summary. Why not? I want you to read the book! And with The HomePort Journals, I really want you to read the book. The characters, as quirky as they may be, are adorable and easy to fall for, the story is captivating, and it keeps going and going. Yet there are no real down times, which isn’t bad for a novel of almost 100,000 words. You’ll meet the most adorable of “little old ladies”, gender queer Helena Handbasket along with other flesh and bone characters you won’t necessarily find in Suburbia, but who fit Provincetown like a glove.
Were there things I didn’t like? Yes, I think that is something that we’ll all find in almost every book we read. This novel is no different. I’m not Mr. Burch’s editor, but had I been, I probably would’ve suggested that he dump the one sex scene in the book. I’m not a prude, and there is an argument for the scene to be described. However, I found the scene too graphic in contrast with the tone and feel of the rest of the book, which, as romantic as it is (both in a 19th century Emily Brontë sense and in a Valentine’s Day sort of way), doesn’t really need this sort of scene.
What “bothered” me more was the ending. I’m all for a happy ending, but a very close friend of mine, and one of my own editors, once warned me of ending books with a neatly tied bow. I certainly think that the protagonists deserve their happy ending, no doubt about it, and my own writing thrives on them. However, if “above and beyond” has any meaning, Mr. Burch certainly did go above and beyond in making sure to create a fairy tale ending. I would’ve preferred it to be toned down just a notch. It would not have diminished the overall impression of a great novel, quite the contrary.
Hans M Hirschi, author & writer
I found great pleasure in reading “The HomePort Journals”, this family saga, paranormal detective romance novel, which will put the American Sitges, Provincetown, on the gay map for good. Despite my small misgivings, I give it a whooping 4.5 stars, which we all know rounds up to 5! I for one look forward to reading more from Mr. Burch.
If you’d like to see some images from Provincetown, MA, visit the author’s website. I think you should wait until AFTER you read the novel, because reality just never really beats our imagination, and at least my Provincetown is way better than the real deal…
The Homeport Journals by A.C. Burch from Wilde City Press will be released on March 18th. I received an advanced copy for my review.
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Hans M Hirschi
Not even H.G. Wells’ time machine could transport you so beautifully into another world like A.C. Burch
A long time ago, I was offered a book to review, the debut novel by A.C. Burch, The HomePort Journals, published by my friends over at Wilde City Press. I was amazed by the beauty of the writing, and I recall saying that I’d love to read more from A.C. Well, the other day, he approached me and asked if I was interested in reading his latest oeuvre, A Book of Revelations, a collection of eight short stories. Given that I just released my own ditto (which A.C. also graciously agreed to review), I was more than curious to see how someone I barely know, someone who has a very different background than I, would tackle the subject of short stories. And even though I got to read this gem for free, and he mine, I stand by my views. You should know that by now! 🙂
Here’s the cover of A.C. Burch’s latest oeuvre: A Book of Revelations, and the lady on the cover is so very revealing for more than one of the strong characters in this book.
A.C.’s stories are longer than mine, some almost novella length, but boy are they worth reading. Sometimes I wonder where authors get their inspiration from, what it is that makes them come up with such exquisite, delicious stories. Some moved me more than others, and I’d like to call out a couple, who really had my imagination run amok, and my mind do double flips backwards in order to wrap what little mind I have to around the content and the message they convey.
The first story is Curtain Call, and boy did that pull a number on me. I can’t really talk much about it without giving away the twist, which resembles the sort of sixth sense ending. Read that story, it’s going to undo you. It sure did work a number on me, and still does.
The second number is Götterdämmerung, a story where I think we get a glimpse of the author himself, a trained professional musician, and the story about an orchestra and its maestro. It’s sublime, and as someone who really loves the opera and classical music, this oeuvre was totally down my alley.
My favorite though, and I think that has to do with my story, Alex, in Shorts, is called Last Chance, and it’s about a murder investigation. The detective reminded me a bit about the detective in The Slasher, but naturally, he’s very different, but boy, that story? Wow!
Now, A Book of Revelations is a very different book compared to my own, and I love it for it. A.C has a way with words, I already found that to be the case in The Home Port Journals. There, it all plays out in Provincetown. In this book, we move leisurely between there, Florida and the cities of New York and Boston in between. I’ve been thinking how to put into words what it is that makes A.C.’s books so special, without sounding like a prick. Several of the stories, and the Home Port Journals, play out in what I can only describe as “high society”, for lack of a better term. The members of that society are often a bit older, some have money, some very old money, others have not. There are lush gatherings, soirées, dinners, dances and concerts, large ones and small recitals. What A.C. conjures up is a world to which I do not belong, never have nor had a desire to. The mere mention of “can you do a black tie in an hour?” would have me run the other way, not because of the timing, I love an impromptu soirée (who doesn’t?), but I hate black tie.
A.C. Burch, Author of The HomePort Journals and – now – A Book of Revelations
Instead I get to enjoy it all from the safe distance of the book’s pages. And not only that, the writing is as beautiful as the gatherings they depict, and A.C. is an exquisite painter of settings, locales. I know from my own writing just how difficult it is to paint a scene, and I often choose to forgo lengthy descriptions, simply because I can’t, and rather than boring readers with my inept attempts, I go for the action. Here you read about cleavage in so many colors you think you’re looking at a Renoir, and you get to observe the abyss of human emotion as if you’re staring at Munch’s “Skriet” or one of Dalí’s limp watches. Let me say this as plainly as I can: very few authors I’ve ever read are capable of such beauty with words, no matter whether the scene he describes is a house being burned to the ground by homophobes or a lonely funeral at one of those awful funeral homes. A.C. transports you right into that spot.
Now one can always try to wonder why we write the books we write, and I’ve been known to do that. And I have, on occasion, done that reading this book. However, A Book of Revelations is not getting any better if I knew if and where A.C. the person was, nor why he’s drawn to write some of the strongest and quirkiest female characters in the history of literature. No matter why or how, I’m very grateful for every chance he gets to paint another one of those stories, and I’ll make sure to hang at the door knob, wanting to read it!
A Book of Revelations is published by A.C. Burch’s own imprint Homeport Press and from Amazon, of course. Each story in the book is illustrated by Madeline Sorel.
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Have a wonderful week. I’m going on vacation, which also includes a cruise, so I may – or may not – be able to blog. Please forgive me.
I got a phone call today from a school who wants me to come by and talk about the career opportunities for authors after studying “creative writing”…
Hmm, I was stunned. I thought all kids want to become stars and rich and famous?
|August Strindberg, Sweden’s Shakespeare or
Goethe, was a pig of a man in just about
every conceivable way.
Why would anyone want to become secluded, poor, antisocial? (Oh, today’s images are some of my favorite Nordic authors from way back when, when there were a handful of publishers and you could actually make a decent living off your writing)
Because, after all, that’s what we authors are… perceived to be!
Well, the easy answer to “why” we become authors is this: WE CAN’T HELP IT!
When I look back at my life, I’ve always been writing, letters, journals, little stories, blogs, and later, as an adult, poetry, and non-fictional books for work.
When the opportunity presented itself (I’ve written about this before), I couldn’t help it and sat down to write my first ‘novel’. Does that make me an author?
|Knut Hamsun, Nobel Laureate from Norway,
one of my favorite authors, was a nazi and
most unpleasant man in many ways…
Well, according to our all-knowing online encyclopedia “Wikipedia”, yes. However, to become a member of e.g. the Swedish writer’s union, you “need to have published at least two works of a certain quality”, three criteria of which at least one is fishy.
To get published used to be difficult, then, as more people got type-writers and later PCs it got a lot more difficult. Finally, it became nearly impossible. Today, anyone can do it.
The reason is similar to that of music: the Internet.
Today, with self-publishing, many aspiring authors can publish and sell their works online, as e-books or paperback, using many of the services that are available, from country to country, or globally. That has of course had a tremendous impact on the publishing sector, and many smaller publishing houses have disappeared, and the larger ones focus on fewer and financially lucrative authors.
So why would anyone in their right mind want to become an author?
|Selma Lagerlöf, first woman to win the
Literature Nobel Prize, was a dyke &
forgot to mention the region of “Halland”
in a school book she was commissioned
to write. I lover her work!
That is of course the 64,000 dollar question, and the answer is: because we can’t help it!
All of the authors I know do have day jobs. This will tell you two things: a) I don’t know any famous people or b) you can’t live off of writing. Both are of course true. I really don’t know anyone who writes novels full time (not personally anyway)
When I first published my novel “Jonathan’s Hope” it reached the top 800,000 of the Amazon charts, because many friends and family members rushed to buy it when it came out. After a couple of weeks and after all friends had been served, I suddenly had 1,500,000+ books ahead of me. I was devastated. There are literally millions and millions of books on sale and no one sells more variety than Amazon. The competition is fierce and even if your book isn’t competing with cook books or home decorating books, there are guaranteed to be sold at least a few hundred books similar to yours.
Which of course moves focus to a different field: Sales & Marketing, something no author contemplates as we type those first lines of our next masterpiece (I certainly didn’t) and instead of writing that next masterpiece we spend weeks and months writing blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts, we record film trailers for our books, we do PR work, book signings and book tours, readings and just about anything else we can think of to sell a 10 € book or two.
|Henrik Ibsen, the man about whom I wrote my
thesis, costing me at least 10 years of my life, but
who put out some of the best plays ever!
I recently signed up a PR agency to test a new approach to selling my books. Low and behold, I have to sell 1,300 books just to recoup the money invested into that PR campaign…
Someone recently asked me when I’d write my next novel. One answer could be “when inspiration strikes”, the other one, more likely one, would be “once I’ve given up on turning the last one into a best-seller…”
So why again, do we become authors? Well, the complex answer is because we’re stupid and we can’t help it!
My advice to the students I’ll be speaking to? If you already know you can’t help but becoming an author, make sure to study the trades needed to be successful, i.e. Marketing, Sales & PR.
Screw ‘creative writing’, because they won’t teach you anything talented authors don’t already have pulsing through their veins!!!
And I wish you good luck in your endeavor!
This past week has been filled with news about Julian Assange and his asylum request to Ecuador. Gone are the days when the Wikileaks co-founder was in the headlines as a star for the leaked secrets from various world nations and the dirt they have under their fingernails.
|Julian Assange in London
Personally I support Wikileaks, I support that our governments shouldn’t keep any secrets from their citizens. I feel that an open society is the best way to keep a democracy healthy. Some things must unfortunately be secret, but those things are largely to do with our personal integrity, like health journals, people’s dealigns with social services etc.
That was then. Sadly, on a tour promoting Wikileaks in Sweden, Assange’s dick allegedly got hungry and got him into trouble. Assange left the country, the girls later filed charges and the rest is history.
In my book, Assange should be heard, his story being as important as the one of the girls that accuse him. A fair trial should be conducted to get to the bottom of this story.
What I don’t understand is why the prosecutor in charge (she’s already been to London to testify in court to get him extradited to Sweden) can’t talk to him in London. I’m sure she has an iPhone to take photos and record his testimony. If not, I’m sure the Ecuadorians or Scotland Yard do..
For some reason, Assange is scared like hell to come to Sweden. Believe it or not, he’s been in “jail” in England longer than he probably would have, had he actually committed the crime and had been sentenced for it in Sweden. The minimum sentence for rape is one year, good behavior gets you out after 6 months! Besides, the likelihood of being sentenced for the alleged crime is minimal at best, so unless he has the stupidest lawyers on the face of the planet, which I doubt he has, Assange isn’t scared of coming to Sweden to face those two women and the sexual assault charge. No, he’s afraid that Sweden might answer to an extradition call to the USA, where he, like Bradley Manning, would face the death penalty for releasing all theses “juicy” documents to the world. The US never particularly enjoy being caught with heir pants down and several prominent senators and other less prominent law makers and politicians have already repeatedly called for a nose to be strung from a tree with Assange’s name on, trial or no trial inconsequential…
|Arvfurstepalatset, Sweden’s Foreign ministry, once home to the pretender to Sweden’s Throne. Some claim our present foreign minister pretends he is…
This is where it becomes interesting. The UK is well known as the American lapdog in Europe, doing whatever the US demand. So why is Assange still in London? The question has to be asked. Why wouldn’t England extradite him? Is it because the US legal system doesn’t care at all (after all, senators and others may want him dead, but luckily there are still people in charge who DO care about the law…) Why is Assange more worried about Sweden extraditing him to the US?
I’ve been in touch with our foreign ministry on Twitter when they feigned their indignation over the Ecuadorian lecture on human rights (it IS a questionable sender…), because Sweden has in the past, after 9/11, worked closely and secretly with the Americans and there are traces of CIA flights through Sweden towards Guantanamo, and the CIA did help Sweden to extradite two Egyptian refugees to Egypt where they weren’t killed (although Egypt does know the death penalty), but severely tortured. It took the current government several years to get them back… All well documented by e.g. the European parliament.
Carl Bildt’s staff gave me the following explanation why they couldn’t guarantee Ecuador that Assange would indeed NOT be sent to the US: “Swedish Law does not allow for the possibility for advance notice if an extradition will take place or not.” The answer infuriated me because although (probably) legally correct, which government has ever cared about the law when push comes to shove? The extradition of the two Egyptians to torture wasn’t legal either, yet it was done… In the end, I’m sure they could’ve made it legal and Carl Bildt has since been quoted for saying “we don’t extradite to countries with death penalties” Put that in writing! (your processors said the same thing and still sent people to Egypt!)
So here we have the following ingredients:
- Assange’s dick suffering from megalomania, believing every pussy wants him any day, even unprotected
- A Swedish prosecutor that isn’t capable of conducting an interview over the phone or in person in London.
- A potential threat of extradition to the US from Sweden, but oddly not from the UK
- A latino hothead with a dislike of free speech in his own country and the US, given a chance to play the human rights hero
- Do the Yanks actually give a rat’s ass about Assange?
- What does Julian know about Swedish extraditions to the US that the rest of us don’t?
- Did his dick really perform a couple of unlawful entries to the degree that he knows he’s in more serious trouble than he admits?
|Bradley Manning, the real victim in this mess. He may
pay with his life for giving us a glimpse into the dirty
underbelly that is diplomacy…
From my point of view, the best solution would be the following:
- Put Assange on a plane to Sydney
- Conduct the trial on his charges according to Swedish law in Sydney, and – if found guilty – have him sentenced there. If he is innocent, he shouldn’t be safer from a US extradition than in his own home country…
We will probably never find out why Julian Assange is so scared of coming to Sweden that he’d rather spend two years incarcerated in various places in England. If I read the law correctly, he would be punishable at the MOST for four years, which means he would be out after maximum 2 years…
In November, the two years are up and I wonder why he is so scared of returning to Sweden?