Recent updates

Word Vagabond has been very busy these past few months. In addition to adding a second editor to the roster, we’ve been making strides to update our social media (did you guys know we have a tumblr? We do! Come get geeky with us), and are even looking into revamping our home page for improved navigation and a sleeker style that we believe everyone will approve of.

However, not all of these changes are so easily seen. For those who have booked our services in the recent weeks, you may have noticed an additional payment option as well the newly implemented late fee.

We understand that many of our clients don’t live in the same areas or the same time zones as we do (Suzanne in Massachusetts, and Alexis in Virginia). But all the same, we have to get your manuscripts to our inboxes in a timely manner in order to keep on our schedule, so you can stay on yours. The fee is very minimal, a mere $10, which only needs to be paid if a manuscript is submitted past noon on Eastern Standard Time the day your editing services are scheduled to begin. This insures that work gets done on time for both clients and staff alike.

In the past few months, Alexis and I have been utilizing a new method of payment which we greatly prefer, called Squarecash. Squarecash works a lot like Paypal, but without the fees or the downtime to deposit. This handy little app allows users to send money to anyone else on the app with an account via an instantaneous deposit. That means no waiting the usual 3-5 days for money to deposit into a bank account, and no fees being taken out during transfers. As always, you can continue to pay us through Paypal if you’re more comfortable, but we highly recommend Squarecash, both for our business and simply your own personal use. Instead of taking cash out to give your friend money for gas or pay them back for concert tickets, you could simply input their phone number or screen name into the app, and the money deposits instantly with the pleasant little sound of change dropping on a table.

The best part about new additions to Word Vagabond is more time spent helping writers like you succeed. As part of recent changes to the website, you can now anticipate weekly blog posts starting this weekend. Topics to look forward to include the benefits of beta reads, getting into Camp Nanowrimo, as well as a summer writing series that will teach you how to write your best sex scenes yet.

Review: A Lovely, Indecent Departure by Steven Lee Gilbert

51LNWMb7gDLReview by Manda Disley

Anna Miller is a mother who is desperate to be with her young son, Oliver, and keep him safe. Unfortunately, her abusive ex-husband has primary custody of him and does everything he can to keep them apart. The court system has failed her, and on one of her days with Oliver she decides to take drastic measures – they flee the country to live in Italy, where Anna is from. A Lovely, Indecent Departure tells the sequence of events that follows this decision.

The book is written in third person and switches with each chapter between three characters: Anna, her ex-husband Evan, and Monroe, the town sheriff. Gilbert’s writing has a lot of promise; his sentences flow together easily and the overall writing style stays consistent through the book. One of the first things the reader will notice, however, is that the dialogue lacks any quotation marks. If this is a stylistic choice that the author has made, it’s not a very good one. There is a reason we use quotation marks to denote dialogue. Without it the book reads like endless prose, and endless prose can get quite tiresome. The lack of quotation marks also makes it difficult at times to tell what is and isn’t dialogue, while also making whatever is being said seem unimportant. Quotation marks are a type of punctuation, and punctuation tells us how significant something is – without it, the dialogue falls flat.

Another issue with the book is its wordiness. While some readers might enjoy the extra descriptions, this book has a lot of extraneous details that just aren’t important to the storyline. You could argue that these details add to mood of the book, but mostly they just take away from the actual plot.

The story itself is interesting, though; a great exploration into the tragic privates lives of this family. The characters are complex and read like real people. Although Anna technically kidnapped her son, seeing the situation through her eyes gives us the chance to recognize that she only did it out of love. We’re also get to be inside of Evan’s head, and it becomes very clear, very quickly that he is not the kind of man you would want to leave your child with. It’s hard for the reader to fault Anna for what she did, despite breaking the law.

Overall, the book could have used some work, including the addition of quotation marks, but it’s not a bad piece of fiction. Gilbert’s writing has a lot of potential and he writes characters very well. It will be interesting to see what he writes in the future.

Title: A Lovely, Indecent Departure

Author: Steven Lee Gilbert

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publication: Steven Lee Gilbert (March 23, 2012)

Price: $2.99 (e-book, all formats), $9.13 (paperback )

Author’s Website: http://stevenleegilbert.com/

Review: Lexi Goes on Vacation to the Outer Banks by Janice Wills Kingsbury

Lexi Goes on VacationReview by Éowyn Arendt

“Ms. Janice and Mr. Rob have vacationed in the seashore town of Duck in North Carolina for 10 years. Duck is a friendly place with sandy beaches where children and dogs romp to their hearts content. This year Lexi, a new addition to their dog family, will come too. But the vacation will be like no other and as the sun sets on the beach it promises to be a long night, one the family will never forget!” –Amazon.com

If you like dogs, I recommend this book.  I like that it got a little scary in the middle and then everything was okay.

The dogs are very well drawn! Lexi’s expressions told me what he was feeling, and he looked very nice and cuddly. The parents looked a lot younger than they sounded in the writing, though. There could maybe be more dog stuff in the car or on top when they’re driving to their vacation. I love how the illustrator added shadows to the pictures!

I like that there are real photos in the back of the book to show that it was a real story. I also like that they show how the family of dogs has grown! (The Chihuahua is my favorite.)

This was a really good book and I would love to read more about Lexi’s adventures or about the other dogs.

Title: Lexi Goes on Vacation to the Outer Banks

Author: Janice Wills Kingsbury

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publication: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, October 21, 2014

Price: $3.99 (Kindle), $10.79 (paperback)

Author’s Website: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11222356.Janice_Wills_Kingsbury/blog

Review: Overcast by Ryan O’Riordan

Review by Manda Disley

OvercastWhen Rebecca Conner loses her brother, presumed dead, in a surfing accident, her family moves back to their hometown and they must learn how to continue their life. Rebecca copes by creating an elaborate made-up world inside her head where her brother is still alive and they are working together to take down a well-known crime lord. Her world is filled with guns, high tech devices, and secrets. She maintains her fantasy world for three years, and that’s when things begin to change—the people she’s been conjuring up in her head are starting to appear in real life.

The premise of this book sounds more interesting than it actually is. For the first few pages, things are okay, but it quickly goes downhill after that. The story is told in third person through Rebecca’s head, but her character is flat and so are all the characters surrounding her. Teenage girls are certainly hard to write, especially if you’ve never been one, but Rebecca reads like a stereotypical background character on a television show geared towards teenage boys. She has no defining characteristics and little to no believable emotions. As a reader you feel no connection to her and are not given any reason to care about her or her story.

On top of this, the writing is not great. The grammar was a nightmare to navigate, so if you are the kind of person who is picky about that kind of thing, steer clear. The descriptions of things were also very messy; they were either too vague or made no sense. Rebecca seems to jump to a lot of strange conclusions about things with no evidence to support them, which is frustrating to read. The setting was also unclear. We know that Rebecca’s family moves back to Matlock after the accident, but it wasn’t until I was halfway done with the book that I realized it was set in England. That is a major writing flaw.

When it comes down to it, this book could have used a lot more help in the editing process. The plot is interesting but incredibly weak, and the writing needs a lot of work. You kind of get the sense that the author may not actually read that much, which is disappointing as reading is one of the best ways to learn to write. There is a second book to go with this one; I will not be reading it.

Title: Overcast

Author: Ryan O’Riordan

Genre: YA Adventure/Mystery

Publication: Hook Books, November 11, 2011

Price: $0.99 (Kindle)

Author’s Website: http://ryanoriordan.com/

REVIEW: Funeral with a View by Matt Schiariti

funeral with a view“Thirty-two-year-old Richard Franchitti didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met free-spirited Catherine and started a brand new life. A devoted father and husband, Richard fought to keep his family together when it would have been easier to walk away.

Tragedy left him with unfinished business.

Now a disembodied spirit, Richard relives his most important days. From the beginnings of unconditional love, to the joy of his daughter’s birth, and all of the difficult times in between, each treasured moment brings him closer to answering the question: ‘Why am I still here?’

He was born Richard Franchitti, but his friends call him Ricky. Welcome to his funeral.” –Amazon.com

As I read the opening scene of Funeral with a View, I braced myself for a depressing read. After all, it’s hard to expect a happy ending when the main character starts off the book by dying. But Matt Schiariti’s second full-length novel surprised me by being both less gloomy and more heart-wrenching than I expected.

Ricky and Cat are ordinary people, and their story is an ordinary one, with a few twists. What makes it extraordinary is the way it’s told. Ricky is the narrator of his own story, from beyond the grave—or, to be more accurate, slightly above it. The chapters switch between scenes of Ricky observing his own viewing and graveside service and extended flashbacks of the years before his untimely death-by-beer-truck. Schiariti ties each flashback into the current events in such a way that the story flows smoothly: past and present each inform the other, adding emotional depth to the story as a whole.

Another distinguishing feature of the narrative is Ricky’s voice. Even when he’s observing the events taking place rather than participating in them, it’s impossible to mistake him for some nondescript voice-over; his individuality comes through in unique speech patterns, expressions, and metaphors that both fit the character and enrich our view of him.

By the end of the book I was invested, engrossed, and, as Schiariti no doubt intended, a bit wrecked. The story did manage to end on a slightly uplifting, even hopeful note, which somehow made it all the more gutting. In the hands of another author, this tale might have fallen tragically flat—in Schiariti’s, it’s one that I’ll no doubt pick up again the next time I need a cathartic cry.

Title: Funeral with a View
Author: Matt Schiariti
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: $3.99 (Kindle)
Author’s Website: http://mattschiariti.blogspot.com/