Books, Books, Books

Snapple Real Fact #912: Meteorologists claim they’re right 85% of the time.

(Am I the only one who has a hard time believing this? The crazy weather this week has me seriously doubting the accuracy of this stat. Maybe I too can claim to be right 85% of the time!)
Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter with friends and family!  I had the opportunity to sneak away for a few days of much needed R&R with the Atlanta family and have been doing a lot of editing and reading (both of which have kept me from blogging). I’ve reached what I’ll call the ‘final’ version of my manuscript, but find myself with many questions (or maybe it’s really just self-doubt). Is my story good enough? Are the characters well developed? Should I make another pass at it? I guess the reality is that I may never know for sure since opinion is subjective and it’s difficult to really pinpoint what makes one book a success over another.
However, I’m really lucky to have a couple of very vocal beta readers for whom I’m grateful (although sometimes I secretly wish they were a little harder on my work). It’s difficult not to read professionally published books and compare. Every now and then I come across a passage that I wish I’d written. You know the kind. The ones with amazing imagery that yank you head over heels into the story. Or the ones that leave you depressed. Not because the story line is sad but because they’re over.
I’ve also been reading a lot of independent books lately which are self-published. It’s been both inspiring and eye opening. First and foremost, I commend each of the authors who’ve had the courage to self-publish, making their work available to the masses when traditional publishing houses have opted to pass. Not only do I find the stories refreshing, the price points are right ($0.99-$2.99).
Never read an indie author? You should. They’re everywhere. There are a lot of good stories out there that I would have otherwise missed. They’re easier to find than you might think (check out my links). Indie books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, you-name-it. Yeah, there’s some crap, but that’s where the reviews come in handy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the organization and depth of some of the books.
In fact, I just read Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, a paranormal romance, by H.P. Mallory. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the most discerning reader, but I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. Good plot, fluid story line, no WTF moments. All in all, a good read. Yes, it’s light and fluffy, but I wouldn’t expect anything different from PNR.
I found the book on GoodReads.com. If you’re an avid reader, I highly recommend checking out the website. Frankly, I wish I’d found it sooner. It’s a great place to find new authors, new releases, and to just generally talk books. I’m a little shy about chatting on-line, but love having the ability to get reviews for books from trusted sources. Especially books I’d never find on the shelves of the evil-empire (or other big box stores) in the face of diminishing bookstores.
Read anything good lately? Leave a message below. I’m always looking for new series and authors!
Last, but not least, I want to thank everyone for the editor recommendations. I appreciate the help and will likely be pursuing a few of these options in the coming weeks.
J.J. Bonds

Calling All Editors

Snapple Real Fact #830: The average human dream lasts only 2 to 3 seconds.
(Found under the lid of my Snapple Papaya Mango Tea – Inspired by India and The Amazing Race)
Let’s hope my dream lasts a little longer than average!
So what’s the deal with the Snapple Real Fact? I drink a lot of tea. I mean a lot. I’m not that picky either: sweetened, unsweetened, peach, black with lemon, raspberry, white blueberry, infused with pomegranate, Long Island. You name it, I probably drink it. Lately I’ve been on a Snapple bender so I thought it would be fun (and maybe even educational) to start each post with that days Snapple Real Fact.
Now back to business. I put the finishing touches on my manuscript today and am ready to move into the next stage of production: editing. Turns out, editors don’t come cheap. My first quote came in at $1,700. Yikes! I knew it was going to be pricey, but I wasn’t quite prepared for that number. (Good thing I was at happy hour when that one came in. It helped take the sting off a little bit!)
My dilemma is twofold:
1.       Should I invest that kind of money in an editor at this point?
2.       How do I know I’m getting my money’s worth?
I believe in my work. It’s good and would definitely be classified as commercial. I’ve gone through the manuscript three times to scrub it for grammatical and syntax errors and all that good stuff. Unfortunately, I’m also a realist who’s at least marginally self-aware. I’m comma happy. What I need most is a grammar guru.
I’m confident I could find cheaper editors, but how do I know if they’re really any good until it’s too late? They’ve all got piles of testimonials on their websites, but frankly most of them don’t instill a lot of confidence in me.
Here’s the deal… I’d love to be able to go cheaper, but I’m sure it’s a case of ‘you get what you pay for’. I’m going to keep searching for the time being.  If you know anyone who’s got an English background or experience with copy editing (and who might be looking for some freelance work), feel free to drop me a line.

J.J. Bonds

Thirty Sucks

That’s what my friends and coworkers told me. So did the lollipop, the mints, the mug and the banner that were so lovingly showered upon me. Good times, right? I was optimistic though. Thirty was going to be life changing. I was sure of it. I was sorry to see my twenties go (I figured I could kiss goodbye the days of getting carded at the door and dancing on the tables), but I was going to go gracefully into real adulthood.
Why not? Thirty is the new twenty after all. And the things that came along with my 30th birthday: completion of my MBA (Woo-Hoo! No more term papers!), a new job with a leading international retailer (dream job?), and a New Year’s Eve wedding shared with all my favorite people (PARTY!).
Sounds good, huh? Idyllic even. I know, I know. Probably I shouldn’t complain. But here’s the thing: It all sounds really great, but I was never happy. Ever. The pressure, the politics, the never ending stream of work that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. These are the things that sucked the life from me on a daily basis.
“Life’s too short to be doing something you hate.” A direct quote from a co-worker of mine. Naturally, I was skeptical. Easy to make such a bold statement when you’re sitting on an entry level salary and don’t have a mortgage and a pile of student loans. So I didn’t think this Millennial view of the world applied to me. Hell, I’m Gen X all the way. Besides, I’m head to toe practical. Always have been. (See paragraph two if you’re not sure: safe degree, steady job, minimal risk.)
The people I was really jealous of? My own friends.  (Yes, I am appropriately embarrassed to admit this little tidbit, but nobody’s perfect, right?) In this age of social media, I was being bombarded daily with a stream of updates from friends who were staying home to raise kids and pursue the things they really enjoyed: cooking, photography, sports, volunteerism. What could I talk about? Excelling at a job I hate? No thanks. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m envious, but I applaud them for choosing to be happy and for doing what they love. I just didn’t have the courage to take that kind of leap myself.
Not until recently anyway. Why the sudden change of heart? My father was diagnosed with Stage Four Adenocarcinoma lung cancer. (My dad’s a fighter and I am confident he’ll beat it. He’s attacking his treatment just like he attacks life. I should be so lucky to have his courage. ) It’s cliché, but his diagnosis was a wakeup call. I want to do something I love. (Who doesn’t?) And I’m going for it.
So that’s what this blog is about: chasing the dream.
I invite you to follow my journey and share this link with anyone you think might also enjoy the ride.

JJ Bonds