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Joseph R. Sims: Skeletons

Discussion in 'Fiction Books' started by Occlith, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. Occlith

    Occlith Well-Known Member

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    * SPOILER WARNING * (there may be spoilers in this thread)


    Skeletons
    is a novel by Joseph R. Sims. The story is told by Kale Helmer, who enrolls in college in part to get away from his family, especially his physically abusive father.
    Kale misses his best friend Cassie and is a loner at college until he meets with Alexis. She picks up a vibe that he may be homosexual, an aspect of his life he isn't sure about, himself. They spend a lot of time partying and trying out the latest high when Alexis introduces him to a friend with a sixteen year old brother, Jordan.
    A kiss between the two young men leads to more but fear of homophobic reactions and Kale's increasing drug use brings a possible relationship to a halt.

    Meanwhile, Kale deals with the friends he left behind and the family that he sporadically interacts with; a mother he loves, a father he hates, two brothers he wants to be closer to, and an extended family that uses family gatherings as hunting grounds to prey verbally and psychologically on whoever the weakest and most vulnerable may be at the moment.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    I would have liked to have read more about the relationship between the brothers. Instead of Kale telling the reader about the abuse his brothers endured, perhaps there could have been a scene where the brothers share personal horror stories with each other that strengthened their bond and would have tied into the events near the end of the novel.

    There have been many self-published authors posting their excerpts on this forum and it is not uncommon for their writings to contain errors in punctuation and grammar. Unfortunately that is also the case for Skeletons. The errors are not as glaring as most but it is noticeable. There are also omissions that may be editing or publishing related. Clich├ęs and unnecessary adjectives make an occasional appearance on the pages.

    In some chapters, events may be described in detail; other chapters may be a few paragraphs in length and are used to update the life of the narrator before the following chapter. I believe Kale doesn't mention his major until near the end of the book. This didn't bother me but for those who like to know everything about the main character, things like that could be exasperating.

    I liked Skeletons; even with flaws it's a fairly good self-published book from a first time novelist.
    ~
     
  2. skeletons

    skeletons New Member

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    Response

    Thank you so much for taking the time to review my novel. I completely agree with you about the punctuation and grammatical errors. Unfortunately, the company I published my book through did not help in these matters, charging outrageous fees to fix things after the manuscript had already been sent. Living on a fixed budget, I had to choose what I could afford to fix. I wouldn't recommend iUniverse or AuthorHouse for that matter but I suppose that is a topic for a different forum. I was the only editor for the book and thankfully editing was my minor in college but of course, it could've used a pair of new eyes to glance it over.

    Thank you for the feedback, as a self-published author, I wasn't expecting perfection with my first novel but I'm pleased with how it turned out. This first one was more about the journey of understanding publishing while also getting a story I was proud of out there. I doubt my next attempt will include the self-publishing route but we'll see.
     
  3. Occlith

    Occlith Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome, skeletons.

    I have some questions regarding your writing. I have heard that first novels tend to be biographical or semi-biographical. Was that the case for this novel?
    How long did it take to write? What was the process? Are you currently working on a new book?
     
  4. skeletons

    skeletons New Member

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    In response to your questions. Yes, the places and people are based on people I know. The story however is mostly fictional (thankfully!). This novel took a few years to come up with. I've been a writer for a good portion of my life but usually just short stories and poetry. I took a memoir class last semester for fun with Noelle Oxenhandler, who is a wonderful author and she helped me fine tune a few things. She wasn't able to go over the entire story with me since she was on a book tour but I'm looking forward to working with her again.

    I am working on another novel, entirely fictional this time. It's primarily in the planning stages, however, I do have about three chapters together. I am also looking into starting a memoir but I'm also in a teaching credential program so it's going to take a while. Also, I'd like to try and go through the traditional publishing channels in the future as self-publishing isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
     
  5. Occlith

    Occlith Well-Known Member

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    Which writers, classic or contemporary, influenced you in your decision to write and do you feel that they also influenced your writing style?
     
  6. skeletons

    skeletons New Member

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    Honestly, I think other writers are always an influence. When I was younger, it was all about copying R.L. Stine.

    I can't think of anyone that influenced the writing style/story for Skeletons other than the people in my life.

    However, Paul Monette is an excellent author who I always look at for inspiration. Alice Sebold is also a wonderful narrator.
     

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