Book Review: “Good As Gone” by Amy Gentry

Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter. 

51r-+GWWHmLGood As Gone showed up under “New and Notable” in my Kindle Prime Reading, and I downloaded it since I occasionally branch out into other genres to mix things up. I don’t normally read suspense thrillers, but I enjoyed this one all the way through, despite a few flaws.

The story is well written, and moves between the protagonist, Anna Whitaker, and a few other characters. This is broken up between chapters, so it doesn’t get confusing, although toward the end of the story there is a lot of jumping around and “perspective shifts” which I won’t go into more detail on since it borders on spoilers. Suffice to say, I had to re-read a few pages to make sure I knew what was going on.

Gentry’s writing is solid, and she crafts a dark, believable tale that should satisfy fans of the genre and anyone looking for a gritty suspense story. It’s a quick read with very little filler, and only lagged briefly in a few spots. It was also refreshing that this appears to be a standalone novel, since so many thrillers are huge series.

What I Liked:

  • Strong story pacing, excellent characterization
  • Interesting perspective shifts
  • Complete story arc. No cliffhangers

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Perspective shifts became confusing at some points late in the story
  • A key subplot dragged a bit midway through
  • This piece of the publisher blurb that I initially spared you from. “Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.” Makes me speculate they pressured the author into that title due to its similarity
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50 Followers!

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Just a quick note.

This afternoon WordPress notified me that this blog has reached 50 followers. I am super excited about that.

When I started this blog a few months ago, I didn’t even know WordPress COULD have followers, let alone people who would actually read the stuff I put on here, and comment + share it to others.

THANK YOU to all my readers and followers!

In celebration of this milestone, I found the most ostentatious public domain balloon art I could. It kind of reminds me of those Lisa Frank stickers from the 1990’s. What with the butterfly and all…

Submitting to Literary Journals

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I’ve begun submitting work to literary journals.

As part of my exploration of the “hybrid author” model, and at the behest of my friend and co-conspirator Jeff Conolly , I’m sending off short stories and flash fiction to a number of literary magazines.

This is something I hadn’t considered, based on my own biases. The last time I submitted anything to a journal, it was the late 1990’s (yes, I’m dating myself here), and it was a painstaking process of stuffing envelopes and licking stamps. That was followed by months of waiting to receive a rejection form letter in the mail. Sounds great, right? You can see why I compartmentalized these things into the darkest recesses of my mind.

Enter: The Internet.

Literary journals are WAY different than I remember them. First, there are so many more around due to the advent of electronic publishing and “the web”. Second, it’s far easier to submit your work via email or the free site Submittable (which many of them use).

I have to admit I feel silly for not looking into this sooner. I should have known better than to assume they hadn’t evolved in twenty some odd years. Now my plan is to continue submitting shorter works in between writing my current full length novel(s).

Have you ever submitted work to a literary journal or magazine? I hope so, and I hope it was accepted! Let me know down in the comments. I’m interested to hear other writers experiences with them.

Self Publish, Traditional, or Hybrid?

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A question for all my fellow writers out there.

When the time comes to unleash your completed works into the world, how do you do it?

Are you taking the DIY route of self-publishing, with its steep learning curve and up-front costs? Or are you walking that traditional publishing road, fraught with long wait times and piles of rejection letters?

I ask because I’ve been reading articles like this one at Writer’s Digest about “hybrid publishing”. Most writers I speak with choose one path or the other, but it would seem the hybrid model has some advantages from both.

I’ve begun the process of submitting work to journals and other outlets (short stories, flash fiction) while continuing to write larger pieces that will either be self-published or queried. It seems like the stigma of being “one or the other” is slowly fading away, and I’m interested to see if one strategy pans out better than the other.

Does anyone else use a “hybrid model” for publishing their work? Do you take different publication routes for your individual projects, or try to stick solely to one strategy that works for you?

 

Author Influences

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Someone asked me who my writing influences were yesterday, and they were surprised by my answer.

If I had to list my Top 3, they’d be “in order of appearance”

  • Harlan Ellison
  • Lloyd Kaufman (of Troma Entertainment)
  • Zora Neal Hurston

Harlan is a master of dark and twisted writing. If you’re in the mood to feel gross and awful, go read I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. It delivers what it promises.

Lloyd is responsible for helping to create films like The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ‘Em High. His movies with their over-the-top stories, violence, and social satire irreparably inspired/damaged me during my youth.

Zora is the curveball. She’s always the one who makes people say “Wait, who?”If you went to a public high school you’re probably familiar with Their Eyes Were Watching God. It’s her most celebrated work, but there is more to her story than just one novel.  Author, notorious liar, political critic, and alleged voodoo initiate. She was heavily criticized by many for creating unapologetic writing. As a writer and a human being, she was fascinating.

Honorable mentions also include:

  • Stephen King (a master of horror)
  • Kurt Vonnegut (a, maybe THE?, master of satire)
  • Rob Zombie (hit or miss, but always with great aesthetic)

I find myself influenced by a variety of media. Books, movies, video games, and music all inform my writing and story telling in different ways.

Do you have author influences that are unexpected or others find surprising, and do you find other art & media besides books having an influence on your writing?

Let me know down in the comments. I’d love to hear about them!

Book Giveaway

 

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Hey everyone,

I was browsing my local used bookstore yesterday (I feel lucky to have one so close to where I live) and had an idea for a contest.

I want to do a book giveaway, but I’m not going to try to schill and give you anything I’ve written. Rather, I’m going to select a book from my own collection that I loved, and pay it forward to someone.

Much like the books at the used store, they have a history, which you can become a part of.

UPDATE:

Congratulations to Tony on winning the copy of Neuromancer. You’ve been contacted to have it shipped!

Giveaway Details

  • Sign up for my mailing list
  • I’ll choose a book that I own to pass onto someone on my mailing list
  • At the end of the month, someone will be chosen at random to receive the book. I’ll reach out to you privately through email (hence being on the list) and ship it to you in the mail. (US subscribers only at this point. Apologies to my international readers.)
  • BONUS: As long as you remain subscribed, you’re automatically in the running for future book giveaways. I plan to keep doing this as long as there is interest.

I feel like this will be a fun way to connect with you, and might help you discover some books you might not otherwise have read.

Plus, everyone loves getting packages in the mail! They are so much better than bills or junk fliers.

March 2017 Book

Neuromancer by William Gibson

A seminal work of cyberpunk by one of the masters of speculative fiction. William Gibson, like many other SF authors, was nearly prophetic in his prediction of how humans would utilize technology in the future.

I bought this particular book when I was in college for a course, but I had already read it. I loved the cover artwork enough to re-purchase it.

Sign up and you could be the proud owner of this science fiction masterpiece!

REBLOG’s and SHARE’s are totally appreciated if you know someone who would be interested!

 

 

Creating A Writing Space

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I recently discovered the Write Now podcast hosted by Sarah Werner. It’s inspiring and the host’s positivity is infectious, so this is my suggestion to check it out if you need something to listen to during your commute or workout.

As I was cherrypicking old episodes, I found this one about “Creating A Space For Writing”, and it struck a chord. I realized that I’ve been without a true place dedicated to writing & creating for almost a decade now. I aim to fix that.

If you’re anything like me, being a “writer” is constantly under siege by work, family, and social commitments that burglarize precious hours from the day. I mean, is it too much to ask that real life pauses so we can sit around writing our next novel?

Anyway, this means we have to write when we can, and where ever we can. For me, it’s on my laptop during lunch breaks, or scratching ideas in an old notebook while lying in bed at dawn. I rarely have the opportunity to sit down and collect my thoughts in a place dedicated to my craft. Even as I write this, I’m sitting on my couch with my laptop.

I now realize part of the problem is that I haven’t created a comfortable place to actually GO to write.

So my goal is to convert my “office” (junk room) into a study/writing space. I’m slightly, mildly, handy enough to be dangerous at DIY projects, so I’m going to fix up the room over the next year or two (I’m being realistic) to ensure I have a dedicated area to write. I feel like the investment of making a comfortable space will also help me to keep a more regular writing schedule.

This started yesterday with de-cluttering (I owned a LOT of empty cardboard boxes), and beginning to save for something I’ve always wanted; a writing desk. I have an old desktop computer with Scrivener, but it’s sitting atop a cheap “computer workstation” I’ve had for the past 15 years. I’m surprised the thing held up as well as it did, considering how many times I’ve moved.

Kudos to you, Staples.

Does anyone out there have their own dedicated writing space? Is it a home office, break room at work, or a specific table at your local coffee shop? I’m curious how many other writers feel that need for a dedicated place to create, and whether it helps their productivity and creativity.

Maybe you’re just existing like me right now, and using any old place to scratch words down when you have the free time?

 

 

Your First Draft Stinks

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It’s a nasty title, but it grabbed your attention!

I was discussing first drafts with a colleague yesterday; bemoaning them. This led to me wasting time on the internet lurking around writing subReddits. The copious internet lurking led to this blog post, since I’ve wanted to write about first drafts for a while now.

I’ve come to the extremely general conclusion that there are two types of writers. The ones who HATE their first drafts, and the ones who LOVE them.

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