Book review – for readers and writers – no.130: Morgen Bailey reviews Open Door Invitation by Dee Carney

Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Open Door Invitation by Dee Carney

Dee Carney ODISynopsis: Every single woman knows at least a few basic safety rules. First, don’t talk the strangers. Second, don’t invite strangers into your home. Sometimes, however, a lonely woman gets comfortable and after darkness falls, lets those rules slide. But with the darkness, if one believes in such things, might come creatures of the night. Throw an open door invitation into the mix, and anything can happen… This short story is approximately 3900 words. Now includes bonus content from Hunger Aroused by Dee Carney.

This short story is available via http://www.amazon.com/Open-Door-Invitation-ebook/dp/B007JP85IS and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Open-Door-Invitation-ebook/dp/B007JP85IS etc.

Review

The writing is very ‘purple’ throughout this short story. For those of you who have never heard of the phrase ‘purple prose’, Wikipedia explains thus: ‘In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, zombie nouns, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.’ I just say that it’s writing that tries too hard.

Some of the lines that grated with me included, ‘His voice with rich, deep and reminded me of a truffle I once tried on a dare.’ And that was on page one!

There were however some phrases that I liked including, ‘a strangled squeak a tired couch might make if someone dared bounce on it’.

I guessed the ending about halfway through but it may not be obvious to everyone, especially those who enjoy this style of writing and are concentrating on the plot rather than the writing.

My other problem with this story is that I didn’t care what happened to the main character. She doesn’t come across as very intelligent, although she admits that she is naive.

When I got to the end of the story, I felt as if I had been reading a chapter from Fifty Shades of Grey, although I have only read 64 pages of the second of the trilogy, and really shouldn’t have stuck with it that long.

Therefore, anyone liking that series would probably like this short story, but it wasn’t for me (can you tell?).

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service, and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

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If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

Author Spotlight no.129 – Elizabeth Cage

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and twenty-ninth, is of Elizabeth Cage.

Elizabeth Cage is a writer, speaker and fundraiser. Her stories, poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Scarlet, Desire, Forum, For Women, In the Buff, The Hotspot, and the International Journal of Erotica, as well as The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 (Cleis) and her fiction regularly appears in the fiction anthologies and e-books from Xcite.  Her collection, Kissing Velvet, was published in 2003 by Chimera.  She also does guest blogs, author talks, interviews, events and workshops.

And now from the author herself:

Talking Dirty

I write what some people call erotica.  I don’t label it myself.  I can’t think of a label because whenever I do, it involves someone else’s value judgement, which in turn relates to how we perceive language.  I write other stuff too.  I’ve been a published writer for 35 years, but started writing erotica around 1999.  I kind of stumbled into it, but that’s another story.

I’m one of those people who uses swear words in everyday life so it’s the norm for me. When folk debate the difference between erotica and porn, what are referred to as sexual swear words often seem to find a way into the argument. Does the language we use define the genre?  Is it that simple?  Do euphemisms make it erotica and swear words mean it’s porn?  Does it actually matter?

When we write for publishers, some editorial briefs are very specific about what kind of language they want (or don’t want).  Since I naturally tend to use certain expressions when I write about sex, it can be an interesting challenge for me to write an erotic story without using particular nouns.  Language can be as subjective as any other art form and provoke a range of emotional reactions. The most exciting thing about it is choosing and arranging  words to create imaginary landscapes.

I’ve always been fascinated by language, the fact that some words are banned, or frowned upon, yet it is the context they are used in, surely, that can create disharmony?  And who decides which words are good or bad?  How do you define a swear word?  Like the rest of language, they change and evolve.

From a writer’s viewpoint, erotica is a particular challenge with regard to finding new and different ways of describing sex, and even if the sheer variety and scope of the   encounters our characters experience is as infinite as the imagination, the actual craft of describing this without becoming hackneyed and repetitive is quite a feat.  When I re-read some of my work, I find that I have sometimes over-used certain  phrases to the detriment, perhaps, of the reader experience.

One of the great joys of being a writer is exploring language, playing with words and pushing boundaries.  I never set out to offend.  In the end it is about being true to oneself, writing with authenticity and integrity and hoping that we give pleasure in the process.  Whatever kind of language that entails.

You can find more about Elizabeth and her writing via… http://elizabeth-cage.blogspot.co.uk and http://www.elizabethcage.com.

And now a taster of her books…

Second Helpings: Surely everyone deserves a second chance? Three sexy stories. Quirky, romantic erotica with a twist. Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Crimson Kisses: An exploration of the darker side of love… Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Love Bites: Passionate encounters in unexpected places. Three sensual, quirky, erotic tales. Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

    

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The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with historical novelist Jenny Barden – the five hundred and twenty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.