Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why Men Opt Out of the (Women’s) Fiction World

Fewer and fewer men read fiction.  They compose only about 20% of the fiction market according to surveys. Some lay this off to genetics, suggesting that the way men’s minds work discourages them from entering into another’s experience the way fiction demands.

“Boys and men are, in general, more convergent and linear in their thinking; this would naturally draw them towards non-fiction,” wrote author Darragh McManus, pondering the question.

Others, like Jason Pinter, suggest that the overwhelmingly female publishing industry simply overlooks books that appeal to men because they fall outside the female experience.  In other words, men now suffer the same fate women suffered at the hands of a male-dominated publishing industry for so many years—and payback’s a bitch.

Others suggest that boys are discouraged from reading at a young age by children’s books that fail to engage them.  Give them the proper material, the story goes, and young boys will engage with reading.  They point to the fact that young males were principal consumers of the Harry Potter books as proof.  “More boys than girls have read the Harry Potter novels,” according to U.S. publisher, Scholastic. “What’s more, Harry Potter made more of an impact on boys' reading habits. Sixty-one percent agreed with the statement ‘I didn't read books for fun before reading Harry Potter,’ compared with 41 percent of girls.”

I always balked at these rationales because I read fiction all the time.  However, thinking on it, I had to admit that I avoid modern fiction like the plague.  I have tried the popular plot-thick page-turners and the feel-good tearjerkers and the occasional cause celebre with a literary reputation.  So many have left me so cold, that I simply won’t shell out the cash for a paperback or e-book version, much less a hardcover. 

Trying to assess what I found lacking in most of the current novels I attempt, I find their utter reliance on the world around them (and me) supremely dull.  So many work so hard to place characters in a world I will recognize.  Too many work hard to create characters with which I (or their prime demographic audience) will ‘identify,’ and recognize as someone they could be, or someone they know. 

It then made sense that men would ask why they should read something “made up” about this world when there was plenty of factual reading material on that subject.  I have never approached fiction to re-visit “this world.”  I’m already here.  Instead, I want an alternative—a vision of this world exhaled through the writers’ and characters’ hearts, minds and eyes.  Exhaled with the distinction of the smell of an individual’s breath.  Fitzgerald’s Long Island in The Great Gatsby is his own creation, no kitchen sink recreation.  Fitzgerald’s people and prose warp this place into something utterly unique. 

Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles is his distinctive projection of that city. You don’t pick up Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me with the idea of identifying with the protagonist.  You don’t grab Faulkner to meet the boys next door or titter with recognition of your kith and kin.  You don’t visit Patricia Highsmith to look in a mirror.  You pick them up to enter worlds as fantastical in their way as Harry Potter’s.  I read fiction to meet characters I otherwise would not.  I read fiction for the larger than life—not a retread of this one.  I want to watch and think with characters who are nothing like me, who dare what I never would, who experience in ways that I cannot. 

In an article titled, “Why Women Read More Than Men,” NPR quoted Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain suggesting a biological reason why women read more fiction than men:


The research is still in its early stages, but some studies have found that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men. That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.

What horseshit. Reading, and reading fiction, require no such thing.  They require that you understand and grow intrigued by characters and situations.  You need not imagine yourself as them or believe that they behave as you would.

Perhaps more men stopped reading fiction when fiction stopped presenting unique worlds, and settled for presenting this one so that readers could better “identify.”  Maybe we’re too megalomaniacal to “identify” with that.  We want words recreated, not rehashed. 

“Shall I project a world,” asks Oedipa Maas in Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.”  Somewhere along the line, in tandem with the female domination of the publishing industry and fiction readership, the ideal of doing so fell from vogue.  Instead, writers rely on identification with this one.  Male readers seem have checked out.

+++++++++++

Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels.  His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, (http://bit.ly/ZyqSuN) is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.
BOOK LINKS
In the company of Educated Men




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Book Review: LIVE TO EAT: MEALS EVERYONE CAN MAKE by Adam Pittaway-Hay

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  • Print Length: 60 pages
  • Publisher: Live To Eat Cookbooks (November 28, 2014)

About The Book:
Making good, fresh meals or snacks takes no time at all and is very easy, but most importantly it is very enjoyable! In this book you will find fast and healthy entrees, main meals and desserts that you can prepare in 30 to 60 minutes. Combined with my nutritious ‘hero’ ingredients you will be creating marvellous meals that can be prepared and enjoyed at anytime, on any day of the week.

Lynda's Review:



I'm always thrilled when I have a new cookbook to drool over and something new to try for dinner. I look for recipes that are Healthy, Quick, and Easy. So, of course, LIVE TO EAT: Meals Everyone Can Make, caught my interest right away.

There are so many unique elements to discover and use in this cookbook. The 'hero' ingredients are intriguing recipe factors that I'm going to experiment with more. And if you've never heard of VerJuice, here is your chance to unearth this treasure. I haven't used this yet, but it's now on my shopping list.

True to it's claim, the Prawn Linguine was quick, easy, and very tasty. Both my husband and I love seafood, so it's not a surprise that the first recipe I would try would include prawns (or in Northeast Texas - plain old shrimp). I even embellished Adam's recipe and added a little grated Parmesan cheese to the top when serving. Yum, is a good description.

The recipes in this cookbook are a compilation of different flavors and cultural pizzazz! A great selection to give as a gift or add to your treasured cookbook shelf.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: CAPTAIN NO BEARD AND THE AURORA BOREALIS by Carole P. Roman

Print Length: 22 pages
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About The Book:
Captain No Beard and his crew of loyal pirates heave anchor for another adventure, this time in the icy waters of the Arctic.

Captain No Beard's steering a course due north, sailing by the light of the North Star. Everyone on the crew wonders what the captain's up to, especially as he gets embarrassed when they ask.

When the captain finally admits his plan, the crew discovers he plans to steal the Aurora Borealis, the beautiful northern lights that brighten the arctic sky. They're all shocked. They may be pirates, but even they know stealing is bad. Besides, how can anyone steal the lights from the sky?

Breeze's Review:
Another wonderful addition to this series of books. My daughter was so excited to receive another Captain No Beard story for us to share together. This story is helping to teach kids a valuable lesson in stealing/taking things that don't belong to you. As always the pirate lingo adds so much life to these stories and has become one of our favorite things about these books. This story ended with teaching children that they can use their imagination and create new places and adventures. This series is one of my daughter's favorites and are great reads for boys and girls alike.





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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: WATER WATER WATER by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

  • Print Length: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Two Lions (June 10, 2014)
  • Buy Now

About The Book:
Walter, a warthog, sees water everywhere: in the bathtub, from the garden hose, from the sky as rain. He writes down everything he notices about water in a special blue notebook. And then he shares what he learns with his friend Willa. As Walter and Willa do some science experiments, they find out cool things about water: water evaporates, ice floats, water can bring a dying plant back to life, and more. Tag along with Walter and Willa in this fun introduction to one of Earth’s most important resources. Simple experiments you can do at home and a page full of fascinating facts about water are included.

Breeze's Review:
I really enjoyed sharing this book with my daughters. Children sometimes have a short attention span when it comes to reading educational material to them so I was grateful that this book was both informative and fun. I loved how in the story Walter the warthog was not only curious about water but also extremely thorough in his research of it. He writes down what he learns about water, he did some fun experiments about water and he shared what he learned with his friends. My daughter was excited to try these same experiments on her own and I loved that she felt engaged! The illustrations are very unique and added another layer of creativity to this book. This is a great read! 



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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Author Interview - IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS - Melinda Dozier

My guest today is Author Melinda Dozier. She's a lady of many talents. Melinda, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to do an interview here at Between The Pages.

It’s a pleasure to be here. I often get shy about answer questions about myself. I’m just a normal gal living life to the fullest. I hope you have a moment to check out my books ̶ especially my newest release, Time Out, Valentine. http://goo.gl/CfyH8g

(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Where would I live? 
One of the best things about being a writer is the ability to be anywhere to do it. I’ve lived in Guatemala for almost twenty years. Though I’m immersed in a whole other language, I get lost in books ̶ especially my writing. I have yet written about Guatemala, but look forward to doing so.

(Lynda) OH! I think that would be a wonderful location for a book. I hope you get to do that some day soon.

(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I speak a different language, dialect, or local slang?
Yo tengo la suerte de hablar español. No puedo hablar muy bien, pero es suficiente a decir que necesito.

But what’s best, here is my background. I was born in Cajun Louisiana. I grew up in New Mexico where Spanish is the second language. However, I studied French for seven years. Then I moved to Guatemala where I raise my children to be bilingual – Spanish and English. So, you could say Language is very important to me.

(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I have any critters that keep me company while writing? 
The only other “girl” in our household is our beautiful Bella ̶ we call her “Bellita.” She is my gorgeous German Shephard who is always by my side.
(Lynda asks)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, If I took a drive in the area I live, what might I see? 
Guatemala is an absolutely amazing country with sights like no other. There are twenty-two volcanoes and they are my favorite view. Here is a picture of Volcan de Pacaya which is a daily view. It is still active and shoots fire every now and then.
(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I consider writing a job, a vocation, a hobby, or a passion?
Writing is a passion. I cannot imagine life without it. Turning that passion into a profession is my next step.

(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also read a lot, if so, how do I fit that into my schedule and why is it important to me?
Reading is a part of who I am. In fact, I’m more of a reader than a writer. I read every night before I go to sleep and if I had the choice, I’d wake up reading.


(Lynda) Reading is also a passion of mine. Sometimes it's hard to strike a balance between it and writing. But reading seems to fill up the reservoir that writing depletes.

(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have a website or blog? If so, where can they be found? Do I offer promo features for other writers on my blog?
Website: www.melindadozier.com

Blog: http://melindadozier.blogspot.com

I always welcome other writer’s at my blog. Feel free to contact me.


(Lynda asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, When did I first consider myself a writer, and was there a special moment connected to this realization?
When I signed my first contract in 2012, I felt like a “real” writer, though I now know it’s all in your mind. If you write, you are a writer!

(Lynda) Amen to that!

Thanks so much for taking your time to read all about me. I love to hear from other readers and writers. Follow me on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/melindadozier or Facebook: www.facebook.com/melindadoz 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN TURKEY - RUSSIA by Carole P. Roman


If you were me and lived in Turkey 
by Carole P. Roman

Breeze's Review:
This series of books helps teach children about different places and cultures around the world. This one focuses on Turkey. You will find out where Turkey is on a map, you will also learn what your name might be if you were a boy or girl that lived there. It also teaches you about the places you might visit and the things your might eat. I also love that the back of the book has a Pronunciation page which is so helpful and also fun. The illustrations help give you an idea of how things look in Turkey. My daughter has learned so much from this series of books and I highly recommend them.



If you were me and lived in Russia 
by Carole P. Roman


Breeze's Review:
Another great addition to this series. I've often wondered how I could educate my children about various parts of the world and these books were exactly what I was looking for. My daughters can learn about the places they might visit, the food they might eat, the things they might see and about the games they might play if they lived in different places around the globe. This story about Russia in particular is filled with so much information and we had fun using the Pronunciation page to learn the right way to pronounce some of the words. Enjoyed it! 



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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review - LADY EMMA IN HER LAND OF WONDER by Martha M. Harrison

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CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

About The Book:
Lady Emma is a young girl whose adventures lead her to missteps and mistakes. She tumbles and jumbles and falls out of her boat. She falls under a bridge and under a witch's spell. She faces dragons and ogres. As her father guides her gently through life and she finds a prince, she ultimately learns that she must fix-up her own mix-ups before she can find her dreams.

Breeze's Review:
This book was an enjoyable read for me and my three daughters. It is the story of a girl named Emma who sometimes comes across difficult circumstances in life and at first she relies on the help of her father and then later her Prince. However, as the story continues she comes to understand that she's strong and independent and can get through some tough times by relying on herself more. As a mother, one of my main goals in raising my girls is to make sure that they have enough faith in themselves to be independent, I appreciate how this book helped to teach that important lesson. The writing and illustrations were both creative and fun! This would make a great gift for any young girl in your family.




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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

RELEASE DAY! Stormee Waters by Lynda J. Coker

RELEASE DAY!

About The Book:
Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters Stormee Waters and a backwash 
of trouble...

Stormee Waters knows about hard times. Needing to care for her aging grandmother and teenage brother, she moves to Houston, Texas and takes a writing job for a popular magazine. Her first assignment is to interview a successful business man for a series of articles entitled, Make My Man Texas-Sized. Her target, Dirk Savage, appears to have the right criteria. He's adventurous with the air of a conqueror. Admired by his peers and coveted by beauty queens and debutantes, he's just the type of man that Stormee needs to make her first article sizzle and sell. But can she handle the heat when she catches his attention?

Dirk Savage is used to acquiring what he wants, except in the illusive quest for the one woman who can fill his heart. The shock of discovering her in the naive young woman assigned to interview him sets his jaded emotions on high alert. Can he convince her that his pursuit is genuine?

Find it at your favorite online book site or at 
The Wild Rose Press
Amazon

ENTER THE SUPER GIVEAWAY EXPLOSION!


EXCERPT:

Josh pointed his finger at their host and squinted his
eyes. “My sister and I don’t need anything else. After
we reach Chicago, you go your way, and we’ll go ours.”

His rude reply startled Stormee. She shook her
opened hands at him and barely uttered his name
through her gritted teeth. “Josh!”

“What?” he said, grabbing both armrests. “It’s the
truth so why not say it?”

“Please show some manners.”

“Why? This is about hooking up, and if you weren’t
so dense, you’d know what’s on his mind. Most guys get
girls with the price of a movie ticket. Rich ones do the
same thing with a jet ride.”

Josh bent toward Dirk, puffing out his chest. “How
about it, Savage? I bet this kind of thing works every
time with clueless girls like my sister. You got the guts
to be honest?”

The confrontational fire in Josh’s eyes scared
Stormee. She couldn’t breathe as Dirk copied Josh’s
movements and leaned toward her brother. He glared at
his youthful antagonist in merciless silence.

Josh returned the piercing glare for longer than
Stormee believed possible before lowering his gaze and
slouching back in his seat.

“In the future”—Dirk paused and leaned back in his
chair—“if you have something to say to me, don’t insult
the woman I’m with to get it said. In addition, you’d do
well to remember I never allow any man a second
chance to disrespect me.”


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Friday, January 9, 2015

IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS - Featuring Author Arlene Culiner

Let me introduce my guest today. This is Arlene Culiner. Arlene and I have recently met through the cyber world.  But as I prepared this author spotlight, she stole my heart with her joyous smile, Paris residence, linguistic abilities, and travel log. I know all my reader are going to enjoy getting to know her better through this interview. 



Arlene, are you ready to get started?

First, Lynda, giving authors a chance to present themselves is a lovely generous thing to do. Thank you very much for this opportunity. Nonetheless, I’m not entirely comfortable writing about myself: it feels so self-indulgent, somehow… but here we go. I write in several different genres: I’ve written a social critical mystery, a creative non-fiction history of 19th century Romanian immigration. At the moment, I’m working, quite intensely, on another creative non-fiction work: the biography of a totally forgotten 19th century Eastern European poet — and four days ago, I returned from Ukraine and Romania where I was snuffling around for “atmosphere”. And, yes, I also write contemporary romances, perhaps as a delightful counterweight of sorts; I have two coming out with The Wild Rose Press, and both have older heroes and heroines.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Where would I live?
From April to November, you’d live in an ancient former café/inn in a tiny village in the Mayenne region in the west of France. From December until April, you’d be in Meudon, just above Paris, and looking down onto the Eiffel Tower. You’d be speaking French all the time (never English) but you’d also have several other European languages under your belt because the research you do requires that, and because you’ve been itinerant for most of your life.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would my writing space look like?

When living in the country, your writing space would be a vast wonderful room with stone walls that are three feet thick — your former inn is over 500 years old — and your artwork hangs everywhere (you’ve been a social critical artist for the last thirty years). There would also be two rescue dogs and two rescue cats hanging around. 







However, in the city for the winter months, your writing space is quite limited. You’ve taken over a windowless closet, moved everything into that, and you actually manage to work amidst the utter chaos. Of course, both the cats and the rather large dogs think it’s the perfect nest, and insist on squeezing into this teensy space too.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?
You’d be a musician. You’d play the oboe, the English horn and the oboe d’amore in an (amateur) symphony orchestra in the country, in two chamber music groups. You’ll just have joined another orchestra in Paris too, one that plays early baroque music, and you’d be awed by instruments there — ones long vanished from the music scene: cornets à bouquin, serpents, wooden baroque flutes, the viola da gambe. And you’d dream of buying an oboe da caccia.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write for myself or my readers?
You’d write for yourself because writing is a creative explosion for you. You need to do it. You need the sheer heady excitement of doing it. You have things to say, ideas you want to share… and that means you also write for your readers. You are dialoguing with them through your books, you are exchanging ideas with them, you are sharing what you know, what you’re learning. 

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would my writing lean more toward stimulating imagination and thought, or taking-one's-breath-away and pulling heartstrings?

Without wanting to sound too preachy about this, stimulating thought is your primary motivation. You don’t go to movies, you know no star’s names, you’ve never had a television: frankly, life is just too short for pre-chewed, second-hand living. You want to get people interested in the real world around them, in history, and even your romances have intelligent heroes and heroines who think, discuss, laugh at themselves and are stimulating — definitely not consumers who need designer labels to give them character. And because they are caring people and independent thinkers, your readers can believe in them, laugh with them and even fall in love with them.

Read more about Arlene and her work:

www.wildrosepublishing.com  
www.j-arleneculiner.com   
j-arleneculiner.over-blog.com 
www.jill-culiner.com

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