Among the myriad other tasks on my plate; writing a chapter in a collaborative novel, finishing up some short stories, and keeping my day-to-day life from running headlong into a brick wall, I have been reading some books by friends.
First off, Tracy Leung's Branche Olive: Fleur de Lis
Tracy is a friend of a friend. She's good friends with one of my good friends, who recently introduced us via Facebook.
So, I read Branche Olive. Imagine if you will, what Ernest Hemmingway would have written if he'd put it into his mind to write an erotic romance. That's Fleur de Lis. The sentences are concise and sparse on detail, and yet each paragraph is vivid and evocative.
The characters more read like Great Gatsby to me, wounded and vulnerable, prone to making terrible decisions in the name of love...
My biggest problem with the book was my tendency to want to shove things in boxes; the story didn't have quite enough steamy details to count as an erotic novel, but waaaay too much sex for a straight-up romance; there are multiple relationships in play here, including a gay romance. There were many tragedies - abortions, miscarriages, deaths, broken relationships, screwed up family life - so it might count as lit-fic, except that all the people who had sex mostly enjoyed it, so, you know... maybe not. I spent quite a while reading it trying to decide what genre Ms. Leung was going for. I never did really come to a conclusion about that.
I admit to spending some time, while reading it, to quoting bits and pieces of it to a friend of mine while chatting online.
The constantly shifting time-line - there were a lot of flashbacks - confused me a bit, and I had to read a little more carefully than I tend to want to. I read really quickly, but sometimes I don't absorb everything, so if the plot is at all complex, I sometimes miss subtle clues.
I give it 3.5 stars.
Next we have Seductress: Erotic Tales of Immortal Desire
I confess, I haven't read all of this one yet, so I'm not going to rate it, but I'm letting you all know that it's out there, and that I'll be reading it shortly. My friend and editor and co-writer and everything else she is to me, Elizabeth Brooks, has a short contained in this collection, Succubus, Inc.
And, finally, The Dark Hunger; A Paranormal Erotic Compendium
Another friend of mine, Robert M. West, has a story in here, Princess Illia. I've known Rob for a long time, back when I used to lecture him about the importance of writing well, all the time. He wrote the most god-awful un-punctuated, bad grammar, sentence fragmented emails it's ever been my displeasure to try to maul my way through to comprehension with. Excepting maybe my mother's emails.
Obviously, a writer doesn't have to be 100% grammatically correct all the time! There are rules in grammar and for business writing that don't necessarily need to be followed in order to write a good story. In fact, frequently those rules can and should be broken. But before you break the rules, you ought to know what they are. And be breaking them deliberately.
We used to argue about this, a lot. It's an email, it doesn't need to be perfect. Well, no, but when I have no idea what you're talking about, you're not communicating, and therefore the purpose of your email has failed. Also, I believe - firmly - that bad habits are... well, habit forming. Writing poorly in emails and correspondence and blogging can lead to sloppy habits in writing stories and therefore you should have some compassion for your poor editor who has to take your jumble of dialogue and make it into a workable piece.
[and yes, my editor has been known to write DIE EVIL DASH in the margins of my stories! I know. Also.... ellipses do not... make... your... story... more... dramatic... just... more... annoying. And yet... see what I mean about bad habits?]
In any case, I'm delighted that Rob's done so well for himself. I don't know if I was ever any help to him, mind you, or if I just annoyed the crap out of him.