Monday, June 25, 2007

Publishers Weekly

Check this out from Publishers Weekly, posted today on Amazon!

FASHIONABLY LATE
Nadine Dajani. Forge, $14.95 paper (400p) ISBN 9780765317421

Plucky, 20-something, Lebanese-Canadian Aline Hallaby has a promising career at one of Montreal's "Big Four" accounting firms; a marriage proposal from her nice (if unexciting) boyfriend; and a closet filled with Cavalli, Chloe, and Christian Louboutin. When she fails her final professional certification exam, the once-dutiful Arab girl plunges headlong into a quarter-life crisis, fleeing to Cuba for a week of heady rebellion (mojitos, men, participation in a beauty pageant) with her two closest friends. There, Ali is forced to decide if she will continue to live according to the expectations of her traditional Muslim parents, or chase her own dreams. The question of how Ali should live is a provocative one, and Dajani's wit, warmth and insight shine through in turning over its nuances, but there are few surprises to be found in how Ali answers it. (June)




How much fun are reviews? I've been lucky so far that nothing too damaging has come my way, but I'm also pretty pleased with myself that I'm managing to take the criticism in stride when it does come. So PW doesn't think the ending is enough of a surprise? Well, I'm more into endings that make sense given the context of the story, that give insight and show growth, as opposed to wild plot shenanigans. In a romance you know the hero and heroine will get together, and in a mystery you know the killer will be found out, in a women's fic you know the status quo who no longer be tenable and something about the protag will change: it's the 'how' that keeps you reading. And the characterization. This is what comes more naturally to me, the characterization in my novels.

But, I'm an advocate of doing the most with your strengths and also working hard on your weaknesses. With that in mind, I started doing the exercises in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass, and I have to tell you guys, it's a fabulous little tome. Light on actual wording (so you're not tempted to just read and not think about your own writing), it's heavy on giving you practical exercises you can use to test your WIP. Though it might be cumbersome to do 100% of them, it's a great tool to help you with aspects of your writing you struggle with. And it gave me plenty of insight into my current plot.

7 comments:

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

I've heard amazing things about that workbook and am glad to see a real life case of it helping you!

I posted about FL today on my blog, check it out :)

Paris said...

i love your endings as i've told you before. don't change them!! :)

and don't worry about the reviews, ever. you know how some people like to hear themselves speak...? well editorialists like to hear themselves editorialize. (shamefully, i admit) there's always something in that text though that might attract a reader, no matter the review.

take Star (yes, by pam anderson) (can't believe i am admitting to purchasing her book in the next sentence)...i bought it cause i liked the blurb in the back. seemed catchy as much as the reviews on it stank. it was a quick read that a colleague also had the guilty pleasure of reading.

no one can say anything merits the review it gets. in the end it's sooooo personal. people will love your book based on what it promises and delivers within even the first few chapters.

Kiki said...

I think it's a pretty sweet review. Bah, unexpectedness is one of those things that I'm very wary of in reviews. If they tell me the book ends with a twist, I'll be looking around for it the whole time (and usually, I'll be disappointed by it).
I don't mind seeing the ending coming, as long as I agree with it and find it satisfying...

Oooh, and I *love* Maass' book and workbook. He gave a full-day workshop at the first-ever RWA conference I attended, and he's incredible. Now I just have to follow his advice...

Nadine Dajani said...

I saw the post today Dona - thanks!!! It was a blast to write too - Quebec is really a gold mine of bizarre (though oddly well-meaning) language laws for a writer with a sense of irony.

Nadine Dajani said...

You know what Paris - I also laughed at the idea of Pammie writing a book but the regular Amazon reviewers - not the professional ones with an agenda or a chip on their shoulder - gave it some very surprising thumbs up. I remember this because I was thinking of picking it up myself...

Nadine Dajani said...

Hey Kiki - nice to meet you!

After reading that workbook, I was positivley green with envy of people of actually get to attend a Donald Maass lecture - I'll be watching out for conferences that have him as a guest speaker in the future. I've read a TON of writing craft books, but this one was very targeted. I'd been looking for a good chapter on subplots for eons, but the ones I found just sort of skimmed the topic. This one explains the difference btw a subplot and a plot layer (turns out I was actually writing plot layers...) and how to do each well.

And the thing about the FL ending is that even *I* wasn't sure how it would end as I was writing it! There were some plot layers (I learn fast, he he) I did of course plan out in advance, b/c really, it couldn't be any other way and still be satisfying. Still, in the question on love however, I'm pretty sure you won't guess the ending until the last chapter : )

Maureen McGowan said...

Terrific review, Nadine! Congratulatons!