Tag Archives: book reviews

BQB’s Book is Climbing the Charts!

Check it out, 3.5 readers:

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I’m #14 in the Top 100 Books in the Free Writing Skills Reference Category.

Can we drive this higher?  Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts is going to be free all weekend.  Why not grab a free copy, give it a badass review, and work on some of the prompts and share your results with your blog audience?

Tell your friends, social media followers, etc.

I’m not getting any younger people.  I know.  I read your blogs.  You’re all like “Oh la dee da I’m in the writing game for the artistic wonder of it all” and I’d like to say that in it for that but, you know, also…fame and fortune.  And parties in Malibu mansions filled with scantily clad women…parties that aren’t going to happen unless you download your free copy today.

3.5 READERS:  Oh, that’s awesome BQB.  We love you so much and we’re going to thank you for all the free entertainment you’ve provided for us over the years by downloading your book for free.

Thank you 3.5 readers.  I love you too.  Download my book for free here.


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BQB’s Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts Coming Soon!

Bookshelf Q battlers for Amazon

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal, BQB here.

I don’t have an exact date yet but the finishing touches are being put on the epic book, Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts.

Can you feel the excitement in the air?  I can.  And I think it’s actual excitement and not just bad gas.

I’m thinking early June.  I’m not in a rush but assuming all goes well, I don’t see why it would have to be later than June.

So…it’s going to happen.  Huzzah!

It’ll be out on Amazon and you know, 3.5 readers, I don’t ask you for much but I’d love it if you could buy a copy and help fund my lifelong dream of buying a mansion in Malibu and filling the giant attached pool with beautiful women with loose morals.

Wait!  Did I say I wanted to buy a mansion and fill a pool with women with loose morals?  That was clearly a typo.  Silly me.  I meant to say I want to achieve my lifelong dream of being a writer and spread my love of the written word with the masses.

OK.  It’s a little bit about filling a mansion pool with loose women.

Fine.  I’ll be honest.  It’s 5% spreading my love of the written word and 95% filling a Malibu mansion pool with women with loose morals.

At any rate, that pool isn’t going to be filled with women overnight.  The way I figure it, there’s 3.5 of you, so the way I figure it, if I charge $2.99 per book, and if all 3.5 of you buy one, then I have a cool $10.47 coming my way.

Huzzah!  Sunday night special at the Sizzler here I come!  Or maybe just an order of mozzarella sticks and a diet coke with free refills at Applebee’s.

Wait.  Jeff Bezos gets a cut to fund his army of delivery drones that will eventually be used to conquer the world?

Fine.  Cut out the cheese sticks.  It’s just a diet coke for me but hey, free refills!  Nice.  Gotta have dreams, 3.5.  Gotta dream big.  It’s important.

3.5 READERS: But BQB, we’re broke!  We can’t afford $2.99 for your fabulous book!  We just think you should entertain us forever for nothing!

I understand, 3.5.  The economy has sucked boku butt since 2008 and is only now just starting to show signs of coming back around.  But you’ve been forced to scrimp and save and pinch your pennies.  Maybe you lost your dough in the stock market.  Maybe you lost the job.  Maybe you lost your dream and now you’re cleaning bus station toilets.

I get it.  $2.99 doesn’t grow on trees, even if it is for an awesome book by one of the greatest and most humble writers of all time.

That’s fine.  Here’s some shit that you, my 3.5 readers, can do to help me, BQB, achieve my dream of spending 5% of my time spreading my love of the written word to the masses and 95% of my time in a Malibu pool filled with women of ill repute.

You know what?  Let’s make it a top five list:

#1 – Tweet a link to my book.  Or, share a link to my book on Facebook or your preferred time wasting social media site.

#2 – Write a blog post about my book.  Want to write a review?  I could spare a free copy.  I’ll just have to fill my pool with less morally challenged women.  Or better yet, it is a book full of writing prompts.  Take the challenge and write a little something based on one of my prompts and post it, making sure you tell everyone where you got this fabulous prompt.

#3 –  Tell a friend about my book.

#4 – I shouldn’t assume you have a friend.  Lord knows I don’t have any.  Make a friend, then tell that friend about my book.  It will be a good excuse for you to make a friend.

#5 – Pray for high book sales.  I hate to bother God because he’s got a back log of prayers, many of which are more important than my book sales, but you know, if you don’t get in the cue somewhere then you never get served.   Drop a prayer, mark it low priority and the man upstairs will get to it eventually.

In conclusion, 3.5 readers, I know you all have lives but you know, we all have to prioritize.  Are your jobs and livelihoods and family commitments and so forth more important than helping me promote my love of the written word but more importantly, helping me sell books so I can raise the funds necessary to fill a Malibu pool with morally bankrupt women?

I think not.

In seriousness, thank you for all you do, 3.5.  I’ll let you know when the book is up.

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Book Review – “Plan B” – Jonathan Tropper (2000)

I am just spoiling my 3.5 readers silly with book reviews all over the place lately.

Tropper's Plan B earns a place on my shelf.

Tropper’s Plan B earns a spot on my shelf.

Plan B is humorist Jonathan Tropper’s novel, released in 2000, about a group of friends who experience the harsh realities that come with the territory of turning thirty years old.

In fact.  “Thirty.  Shit.”  is a common refrain throughout the work.

Before I start my review, I’d like to offer the following comparison between Bookshelf Q. Battler of ten years ago and BQB of today:


BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER 10 YEARS AGO – Wow.  I must find a way to win her heart.  I will go out of my way to please her and spend my days thinking of ways to make her happy.  All I have is hers.  I will work to turn myself into a man who deserves such a spectacular creature.

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER TODAY – Oh Jesus H. Christ she looks like a whole helluvalot of work.  Probably needy and demanding.  Probably will expect me to bend over backwards for her.  Probably wants all my money.  I’ll have to compete with every other jackass that wants her. Come on, sure she’s pretty but it’s not like rainbows shoot out of her butt or anything. God, I’m too exhausted for all that hullabaloo.  NEXT!


BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER 10 YEARS AGO – I’m going to run twenty miles and stay up all night!

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER TODAY – I ate an expired yogurt.  Should I go to the emergency room?


BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER 10 YEARS AGO – I’ve worked so hard!  All my dreams will come true now!

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER TODAY – My dream for today is to come home, watch Netflix, eat a taco, and fall asleep in a barcalounger.  All who interfere with my dream will suffer my wrath.

The great transfer from youth to adulthood is the crux of Tropper’s novel.

As a big humor fan, I’m not sure how it took me so long to read one of Tropper’s books.  He writes with a witty style, yet still manages to jam in enough seriousness to keep a plot moving.  The sign of a good author is that after reading one of his books, you want to read his other works, and that’s how Tropper left me feeling here.

In life, you start with Plan A.  You’re young.  You look at the world through rose colored glasses.  You truly believe anything is possible, that if you work hard enough, the world will give you a fair shake.  Ask a young person what they’re going to do when they grow up, and they will often tell you with great determination that they’re going to be an actor, musician, athlete, or insert other celebrated occupation here.

Then time passes.  The world knocks you around.  You experience your first breakup.  You suffer career setbacks.  You don’t get that plum job you wanted.  You find yourself feeling lucky to have any job at all.  Time keeps moving.  You suddenly realize that time is limited and there isn’t enough left to get yourself to where you always dreamed of being.

You end up having to go for, as Tropper puts it, “Plan B.”  You try to forgive yourself for not achieving the life you always wanted.  You learn to live life as best as you can with what you have left.

The story focuses around a group of now grown up college friends – Jack, Chuck, Lindsey, Allison, and Ben, the narrator.  They’re all adjusting to life after turning thirty years old.  They’re all finding that life isn’t what they thought it would be when they were young.

Ben thought he’d be a famous novelist by thirty.  Instead, he has a low level, cubicle dwelling magazine job.  Worse, he’s getting divorced from his wife, Sarah.  He’s hung up on his old girlfriend, Lindsey, who suffers from commitment-phobia.  She goes from job to job and man to man, never committing to any kind of stability for fear she’ll be stuck in the same ole, same ole forever.

Chuck is a successful doctor, but as a former fat kid who dieted his way skinny, he’s forever stuck in a rut of chasing after women, assumably out of a fear that he has to scoop up as many as he can before his latest body issue, a receding hair line, leaves him bald and unattractive.

Allison has spent her life yearning for Jack, the most successful of the bunch.  He’s a millionaire movie star but the twist?  Fame and fortune have turned out to be all they’re cracked up to be.  He suffers from a severe cocaine addiction that’s drawing paparazzi attention and threatening his health.

The group grows concerned about their friend and when an intervention fails, they take the unconventional route of kidnapping him, transporting him to Allison’s parents’ vacation home, and holding him prisoner until the cocaine is out of his system.  Along the way, Jack goes through withdrawals and eventually escapes and disappears, causing the world to suspect the friends of foul play.  It then becomes a goofy romp as the group searches for Jack and maintains their innocence.

Yeah, on the surface cocaine and kidnapping do not sound like the ingredients of a humorous story, but the talented Tropper can make anything funny.

Some of the references may be dated.  Others manage to stand the test of time.  Maybe Tropper could write a sequel, Plan C, about how the characters find life as a bunch of fifty year olds.  By then, they’ll probably yearn for the days when they were thirty.

STATUS:  Shelf worthy.

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Book Review – A Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (1951)

Hey 3.5 Readers,


Buncha phonies.

Alien Jones is taking a Sunday off so I, your humble blog host, Bookshelf Q. Battler can provide you some commentary and analysis on the controversial classic novel, The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

Yes, once in awhile an honest to god book review happens here on the Bookshelf Battle Blog.

I’ve heard about this book my entire life, but only about how controversial it is, how it was banned and considered subversive when it first came out.

I never knew what it was about, but given all the negative hype, I assumed it must be something awful that would turn me into a crazed wacko hippy or something.

So when I finally cracked it open, I was surprised to find it’s just about a kid wandering around New York City in a dazed and confused manner.

Even more surprising?  It is equal parts sad and hilarious.

The protagonist?  One Holden Caulfield, a highly opinionated wayward youth whose soul is a bottomless pit of complaints.  From his friends at school to random people he meets, from Hollywood to New York City, everyone, is, to Holden “a phony.”

It took me a moment to get used to 1951 speak.  If this novel is a barometer of culture during the middle of the last century, then apparently youngsters of the time said some pretty bizarre things.

How to Speak Like Holden Caulfield

  • Phonies – Everyone’s a phony.  Hey you!  Yeah you, the only one reading this review!  You’re a phony!
  • And All – Pretty much thrown in at the end of every other sentence.  “So then I went to the park and all and there were some people there and all and I sat on a bench and all…”
  • Madman – Used to describe anything out of the ordinary.  “Those marbles bounced around like madmen.”
  • Goddamn – I don’t know if kids in 1951 said “goddamn” a lot or if Salinger didn’t think he could get away with dropping more than a few F-bombs without being kicked out of the country or something.
  • Really Was – In case you don’t believe him, Holden reminds you that he, she, or it (whatever or whomever he is discussing) “really was” whatever it is he’s saying they were.
  • Put them All Together – “So I went to the bar and all and the waiter was a real goddamn phony.  He really was.  He handed me a gin and tonic and I drank it like a mad man.  I really did and all.”

Continue reading

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Woo hoo!  An honest to God book review on bookshelfbattle.com!  It’s about time!

Threeps are now walking around on my bookshelf.  They can hold their own in the never-ending battle.

Threeps are now walking around on my bookshelf. They can hold their own in the never-ending battle.

Without a doubt, John Scalzi’s Lock-In was the best book I read in 2014.  Unfortunately I waited until March of 2015 to review it, but better late than never.

If you’re planning to read it yourself, you might want to click off of this review.  I’ll try my best to avoid them, but some spoilers may emerge.

First off, the premise is unique and original.  In the near future, a virus ravages the world and inflicts one percent of the population with Haden’s Syndrome.  This condition causes people to “lock-in” to their bodies.  Their minds work, they understand what’s happening around them, but they can’t speak or move.  Their minds are trapped in paralyzed bodies.

These individuals come to be known as “Hadens.”  Technology grows and expands to help them.  A virtual community is created allowing them to communicate with one another in a simulated world.  Meanwhile, Hadens also have the ability to control robots known as “threeps” (aptly named as an homage to C-3P0).

Hadens stay at home and send threeps out into the world on their behalf.    The technology is so advanced that Hadens are able to hold down jobs with the assistance of their threeps.

Add to the mix integrators – humans whose minds can be “shared” with a Haden, thus giving the Haden the experience of what it feels like to have a functional human body.

The protagonist is Chris Shane – a Haden FBI agent whose threeps take a beating from the bad guys throughout the novel.  With the help of his partner, Leslie Vann, a former integrator, Shane is tasked with solving a murder case that intersects with the politics and intrigue behind the Haden world.

I am a big Scalzi fan.  I enjoy his ability to blend subtle humor into serious science fiction.  The premise makes for some interesting scenes.  For example, at one point, Shane uses his threep to foil an assassin trying to kill Shane’s defenseless body.

The book also gives rise to a discussion of virtual worlds and technology assisted realities.  Could tech ever grow to the point where the paralyzed are able to experience the world virtually?  What would be the ramifications?

I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

STATUS:  Shelf worthy.

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Your Favorite Vampire Books

I just picked up a copy of Seth Grahame-Smith’s The Last American Vampire.  I’ll review it as soon as I read it, and I know, will actually stun everyone by posting a book review on my book blog.

But while we’re waiting for that, what are your favorite vampire books?

Is the vampire genre too saturated, or is there still room for a new, unique twist?

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What Do You Want to See Happen on Game of Thrones This Season?

Word of Warning – come Springtime, this blog is going to Stark up the place.  I pay the Iron Price, but I always pay my debts, Winter is Coming, and so is Game of Thrones.

As I recall from last year, there are a lot of GOT Nerds in the book blogosphere.  So I hope to get these posts rockin’ with lively discussions – what is that wacky imp going to do next?  Who is George RR going to bump off next?

And where the heck is Lady Stoneheart?

Is it too early to start talking Game of Thrones?  Yeah, probably.  But what the hell.

What do you want to see happen on Game of Thrones this season?

Hypotheticals only.  No spoilers.  I haven’t read the books, so I’m only as far as the series.  That is probably a sad admission for a book nerd, but so be it.

And if you have no predictions or comments as to what you hope will happen, then just feel free to discuss anything going on in Westeros.  Or its neighbors.

Valar Morghulis.  Wait till April?  This a man cannot do.

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Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report

He’s self-publishing superstar Hugh Howey, whose Wool books about people living in underground silos have taken off like wildfire.  He published a report awhile ago (and alas, I’m playing catchup here) claiming, among other things, that books released from the Big Five Publishers tend to be priced higher and yet be reviewed more negatively than average:

Note the shortest bar in one graph correlates to the tallest in the other. Is it possible that price impacts a book’s rating? Think about two meals you might have: one is a steak dinner for $10; the other is a steak dinner that costs four times as much. An average experience from both meals could result in a 4-star for the $10 steak but a 1-star for the $40 steak. That’s because overall customer satisfaction is a ratio between value received and amount spent. As someone who reads both self-published and traditionally published works, I can tell you that it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the two. Most readers don’t know and don’t care how the books they read are published. They just know if they liked the story and how much they paid. If they’re paying twice as much for traditionally published books, which experience will they rate higher? The one with better bang for the buck.

         – Hugh Howey, “The 7 K Report”, AuthorEarnings.com 

Read Hugh Howey’s Report Here

What say you, reader?  Personally, I think he might be on to something.  For a ten buck steak, I won’t be too annoyed if there’s a lot of fat and gristle.  For a forty buck steak, that had better be the most succulently juicy and tender, mouth watering, flavorful to die for steak I have ever tasted, or gosh darn it, someone’s going to get an ear full out of me!

Now, I tend to criticize everything, even when it is information I want to be accurate, such as Howey’s report.  It’s just my cynical mind at play.  Give me two differing points of view, and I can tell you in great detail how both sides are wrong and right at the same time.  It’s a gift.  Or a curse.  I haven’t decided yet.

My gut reaction says, – “Well, everyone knows the James Patterson (Or Insert Favorite Big Publishing Author Here) Steakhouse because it is hustling and bustling every night. Therefore, more people are in and out of that steakhouse, and therefore, just by the sheer volume of business that steakhouse does, that steakhouse is more likely to get more negative reviews just through the sheer law of averages that if more people are eating your steak, then the number of people who don’t like it will be on the rise.  Meanwhile, the nice folks at “Indie Author Hole in the Wall Steakhouse,” may have a very have a very tasty and reasonably priced steak, but the steakhouse is in a back alley, off the beaten path, and there’s very little walk-in traffic since it is not near a busy street.  Ergo, fewer people eating there=fewer people to say they didn’t like the steak.”

But then I catch myself and note that in fact, Howey’s report does claim to be taking statistics from bestsellers.  In other words, when he’s comparing Indie Authors to Big Publishers, he’s looking at Indies who have had some success, i.e., Indie Steakhouse Owners who have managed to put up a big neon sign on their back alley steak house that says, “COME ON IN, THE STEAK IS FINE!”

I don’t know.  I’m not a numbers person.  I’m just giving you my take on Howey’s report.  I could be wrong.  I could be right.  I don’t even know what I think about it so I don’t even know what I’m trying to say.

But personally, as a prospective self-publisher, I hope he’s right.

Unless the Big Five sign me up, in which case, I hope he’s wrong.

See that fence?  I’m playing both sides!

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Accents, Other Languages – When Your Characters Aren’t Native English Speakers

You go to the movies.  The setting?  Ancient Greece.  Yet, for some odd reason, none of the characters are speaking Ancient Greek.  They’re dressed like Ancient Greeks – togas and sandals all around.  The sets look Greek enough – plenty of stone pillars to spare.

So why are all these characters speaking English?  Whenever I watch a movie like this with a group of people, there’s always one goober who feels the need to be the smartest person in the room and say, “Oh, I didn’t know Ancient Greeks spoke English!!!”

Well, here’s the problem.  Do you speak Ancient Greek?  No?  Good.  Because neither do I, neither does the American audience the film is intended for, and neither do the actors or the people who made the film.  Nothing against the Ancient Greek language, but if I only have limited free time, I don’t really want to go to a movie where I have no idea what the people are saying.

Therefore, Hollywood basically does a little wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more, say no more trick.  (Bonus points if you know where that line is from).  The Hollywood suits behind the movie are basically saying, “Hey Audience, we made this movie Greek enough – we speak English, you speak English – so these Greek people are going to speak English so you can actually understand what’s happening in the movie.  Yes, they’re speaking English, but we count on you, the audience, to be smart enough to understand that the characters are Greek).

OK, time to make a point.  In my writing, sometimes a character will come in.  It could be a he or a she, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s say it is a he.  Maybe he’s from Russia.  Maybe he’s from Ireland.  Maybe he’s from Australia.  Heck, maybe he’s just an Italian guy from the Jersey Shore who says, “Fahgeddaboudit” a lot.

As authors, how do you account for this?  How do you get the point across to your readers that a character speaks differently from standard American English?  Maybe he’s an English speaker but has an Irish brogue.  Or, maybe he’s a Spaniard who doesn’t speak English at all, but since I don’t speak Spanish, and my audience, for the most part, doesn’t read Spanish, the Spaniard will have to miraculously speak English?

Should an author try to mimic a particular accent?  I have seen that in books.  Personally, I don’t agree with the practice.  I’ll tell you why after the following example.

Let’s carry on with our friends, Ann and John, who first appeared on my blog in  The Mystery of the Bay Area Strangler.  Let’s call this next installment: Bay Area Strangler 2:  Electric Boogaloo:

After skillfully solving the Bay Area Strangler Case, Ann and John decided to rekindle their long lost romance.

“I want to rekindle our long lost romance, Ann,”  John said.  “Let’s go to Mexico for a nice, long vacation.”

And so they went to Cancun, but alas, as soon as they stepped off the plane, they were greeted by Manuel Sanchez, Chief of the Cancun Police Department.

“Hola, Ann y John,”  Manuel said.  “I was hopeeng to catch you fine dee-tect-teeves before you left the aeropuerto.  There is a creemenal on the lose in Cancun and he’s been strangleeng a lot of senors y senoritas.  Can you be of any asseestance por favor?”

OK, so before you take off your shoe and throw it at me, in the hopes that it will pass through your monitor and come out of mine to wack me in the face, remember, before the above example, I did say that I don’t agree with this practice.  I suppose when authors try to mimic a character’s accent, they’re trying to add an air of realism but I don’t like it for a number of reasons: a) it’s difficult to read.  Who wants to wade through all the misspelled words to figure out what is being said  and b) I feel like it’s practically a hate crime, I mean, holy crap, the Chief, a duly designated Mexican law man, pretty much ends up sounding like Speedy Gonzalez.

If I were actually writing this novel, here’s how I’d write the above paragraph:

After skillfully  solving the Bay Area Strangler Case, Ann and John decided to rekindle their long lost romance.

“I want to rekindle our long lost romance, Ann,” John said. “Let’s go to Mexico for a nice, long vacation.”

And so they went to Cancun, but alas, as soon as they stepped off the plane, they were greeted by Manuel Sanchez, Chief of the Cancun Police Department.

“Hello, Ann and John,”  Manuel said.  “I was hoping to catch you fine detectives before you left the airport.  There is a criminal on the lose in Cancun and he has been strangling many of our citizens.  Can you provide us with assistance, please?”

And there you have it.  I’ve presented the reader with three characters.  Ann and John are Americans who speak English.  The third character, Chief Manuel Sanchez, is a Mexican citizen.  I leave it up to the reader.  Maybe Manuel studied in America and became a bilingual Spanish/English speaker.  Or, maybe, and most likely, I just made Manuel speak English, because, hey dummies, you don’t read Spanish, so please just go along with it.

Suppose I want to convey the fact that a character speaks English, but with a heavy accent.  Let’s go back to Ann and John.  Remember, this is an example that I don’t agree with:

“Great,”  Ann said.  “Just great.  We try to get away on a nice vacation and we can’t have five minutes before someone gets strangled.”

“I know,”  John said.  “And you were just starting to forgive me for sleeping with your sister behind your back on multiple occasions, including your birthday, our anniversary, and most major Federally recognized holidays.”

“Even Arbor Day?”  Ann asked.

“Twice on Arbor Day!”  John replied.

Shamus Rooney, who left his home in Dublin years ago to open up the restaurant that Ann and John were eating at, strolled over and introduced himself with his typical Irish brogue.

“Faith and Begorrah!”  Shamus said.  “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!  Lad and Lassie, me ears were burnin’ when I heard ye mention a strangler on the loose!  Why, it sounds like the modus operandi of me old IRA buddy Connor Houlihan, who moved here long ago.  To the best of me recollection, that lad was quite a strangler back in his day, and I’d bet me bag o’ gold that he’s down here strangling again!”

I mean, seriously?  I’m expected to keep this nonsense up for an entire novel?  I’m going to expect a reader to sift through that crap?  I have to make the man sound like he’s Lucky the Lucky Charms Leprechaun just to get across the point that he’s Irish?

Here is how I’d prefer to write such a scene:

“Great,” Ann said. “Just great. We try to get away on a nice vacation and we can’t have five minutes before someone gets strangled.”

“I know,” John said. “And you were just starting to forgive me for sleeping with your sister behind your back on multiple occasions, including your birthday, our anniversary, and most major Federally recognized holidays.”

“Even Arbor Day?” Ann asked.

“Twice on Arbor Day!” John replied.

Shamus Rooney, who left his home in Dublin years ago to open up the restaurant that Ann and John were eating at, strolled over and introduced himself with his typical Irish brogue.

“Hello and good morning!”  Shamus said.  “Sir and Madam, my ears were burning when I heard you mention that a strangler is on the loose.  Why, it sounds just like the modus operandi of my old IRA friend, Connor Houlihan.  He moved here long ago.  To the best of my recollection, that lad was quite a strangler back in his day, and I would bet that he’s here in Cancun and strangling again!”

So, what’s different?  First, you’ll notice I left this part in:

Shamus Rooney, who left his home in Dublin years ago to open up the restaurant that Ann and John were eating at, strolled over and introduced himself with his typical Irish brogue.

Right there, I’ve told the readers that Shamus speaks in an Irish brogue.  I’ve relayed the information to the readers that Shamus has an Irish accent.  Isn’t that enough?  I would submit that is enough.  I suppose authors can have different opinions, but me, personally, I feel after I have stated to the reader that Shamus has an Irish accent, I can, from thereon, have Shamus speak with perfect English, and leave it up to the reader to imagine Shamus saying these words with an Irish accent.  I do not have to offend the Irish people by making Shamus talk like a leprechaun throughout the entire novel.

Let’s try another example:

“We’ll need to pack some heat if we’re going to take down the Cancun strangler, who may or may not be Connor Houlihan, friend of the man who owns the restaurant we ate nachos at last night,”  Ann said.

“Indeed we will,”  John said.  “By the way, your sister and I used to pack heat all the time.”

“I hate you,”  Ann said.  “I want to marry you just so I can divorce you again.”

Ann and John walked down the street, when a man in a trench coat with a Russian accent said, “Psst, Americans, vhat you vant?  You vant guns?  You vant AK-47?  You vant Uzi?  Vhat you vant?  You tell Sergei vhat you vant and I get it for you.  Anythink you vant.  Anythink at all.”

Seriously, at this point, Sergei might as well say, “As long as you don’t work for pesky moose and squirrel!”  Here’s how I would write it:

“We’ll need to pack some heat if we’re going to take down the Cancun strangler, who may or may not be Connor Houlihan, friend of the man who owns the restaurant we ate nachos at last night,” Ann said.

“Indeed we will,” John said. “By the way, your sister and I used to pack heat all the time.”

“I hate you,” Ann said. “I want to marry you just so I can divorce you again.”

Ann and John were walking down the street, when a man in a trench coat with a Russian accent said, “Psst, Americans!  What do you want?  You want guns?  You want an AK-47?  You want an Uzi?  What do you want?  My name is Sergei.  You tell me what you want and I will get it for you.  Anything you want.  Anything at all.”

Again, I suppose this is a point where authors could have a difference of opinion.  And again, I feel that once I mention to the reader that Sergei has a Russian accent, my work is done when it comes to portraying that accent.  I’m not going to offend the Russians by making a character that sounds like Boris Badenov.  I’m not going to ask my readers to wade through poorly written English just to make the point that Sergei is Russian.  The readers know what a Russian sounds like.  They can imagine Sergei speaking the words I write for him with a Russian accent.

Am I right?  Am I wrong?  Authors, how do you handle characters who don’t speak English or who have accents in your writing?

P.S. – Shamus was the strangler.  He sent Ann and John after Connor to throw them off his trail.  Connor had become a priest at a Cancun church, and aided Ann and John in setting a trap for Shamus.  Chief Sanchez was overjoyed and nominated Ann and John for Mexican Medals of Honor.  John quickly pawned his and ran away to El Salvador with Ann’s attractive cousin.  Ann vowed revenge, which she will get in Bay Area Strangler III – The Quest for More Profits for the Author.

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Thoughts for the New Year

This year has been a building year – all about learning how to blog.  2015 I hope will be the year to where I’ll be more productive and turn out some quality work product.

Thoughts for 2015 include:

1)  Committing to at least 1 book review a month because, you know, this is a book blog, or so I keep hearing.

2)  Starting more discussions about writing for writers and those pesky situations we always find ourselves in.

3)  I’d love to interview some Indie Authors, for the selfish reason of picking their brains on self-publishing success, but also for the non-selfish reason of paying it forward and building cosmic karma (which, if you stand on your head, cross your eyes, and think about it really hard, is selfish!)

4)  Interview some other book bloggers about their favorite books, book blogging, and other booktastic issues of a booktabulous nature.

5)  Bring more organization to the site, set up some pages at the top of the site to funnel my posts into for easier access.

6)  I am starting to think maybe less is more and I’m hoping to have a standing appointment with you all on Sundays, using them to make at least one post a week.  More if inspiration strikes.

7)  The past few months I’ve really gotten into self-publishing – listening to podcasts, doing research, etc.  I do have a goal of getting a longstanding idea I’ve had written by the end of 2015, submitting to traditional agents and if no luck, self-publishing by the end of 2016.  So hard to think about things 2 years in advance but I suppose that is the name of the game.  Anyone with advice, tips, tricks, etc on that always feel free to share!

8)  I’d be interested in what social media platforms and/or other ways in which you have found success in promoting your blogs.  Thus far, the most success I’ve had is with Twitter (shameless plug if I can just get 80 followers by the end of Christmas Eve I will have reached my goal of 2000 followers by Christmas!)

I’m on Tumblr and Facebook, but unless I’m doing it wrong, I just don’t see them as being very useful.

YOUR THOUGHTS – If you have any thoughts on how I can make this site better, please feel free to share them!  Compliments are always welcome, but harsh and brutal criticism is actually preferred.  I have thick alligator-like skin so please have at it and rip me a new one!  If you’ve been thinking, “Look, Bookshelf Battler, you insufferable doofus, it makes me go crazy when you do X, Y, or Z” now is the time to share!   Criticism is how we grow, change, and get better!

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