Comparables: Where Does Your Book Fit In?

Not too long ago dgkayewriter  posted on her noteworthy blog a link to the app (I Write Like) which, when you paste a paragraph of your writing, the app compares you to famous writers by analyzing your word choice and writing style.

That amusing exercise got me thinking of comparables. Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction, self-publishing or going the tradition route, comparables (comps) help the reader and book seller know where your book fits in. Knowing your comps will help you know where your niche is in the marketplace.

Where would your book be placed in a book store or library and within that category whose books would you compare yours to?

Michael Dellert, an award winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 18 years posted an interesting article on comparables.

What makes YOUR book stand out?

Publishers and agents generally want to see “comparables”: other fiction books on the market today that have an audience comparable to yours, that have themes, settings, and characters comparable to yours, that have a market niche comparable to yours, and then they want to know what sets your book apart from those.

Editor Rachelle Gardner in a post titled Know Your Competition adresses the question of comps:

Search for possible competitive or comparable books using a variety of means; don’t limit yourself to one particular search term or one method. Go deeper than the titles to make sure you’re not missing anything. Search on various websites besides Amazon. If you’re writing a Christian book, use Christianbook.com.

And in another article on comps Rachel Gardener offers this advice:

Ask yourself, “Who are my readers? What are they reading right now?” Those are your comparable books.

Keep this line in mind:
“People who enjoy the following books are likely to enjoy my book.”

You can use that line in a proposal, then follow it with the comparable books, and for each one, a brief explanation of why your book would appeal to those same readers. This approach frees you from trying to decipher what an agent is looking for, and instead, use those comps to identify your audience.

It’s tricky finding comparables. For example, in my crime novel Warning Signs the protagonist finds herself in a relationship with a serial killer. The detective investigating the serial killer’s crimes has a romance going with a suspect. Taking those two important elements of the novel do I compare my novel with those which have serial killers in them or do I compare it to stories about romance? Warning Signs also deals with mental illness so should I compare the novel with other novels dealing with mental illness? Or do I compare it to a noir novel?

Here are some comps I found for Warning Signs. People who enjoyed these books are likely to enjoy Warning Signs.

The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner (What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?).

The Last Victim by Karen Robards ( Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes).

A Good Marriage by Stephen King (a wife who discovers that her husband is a serial killer). Incidentally, when I took the I Write like Who the result was Stephen King.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thomson (a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer).

The Lies He Told Me by Sylvie Greyson (a police detective falls in love with his main suspect).

The Fix by Sharon Leder (Living with a Heroin Addicted Parent).

 

Warning Signs is now available in paperback as well as e-book.

Ana Linden: Frames

Ana Linden Frames

 

I’ve always liked Ana Linden’s books. She’s very good at getting inside her characters’ heads.

Frames consists of four short character driven stories. These are not ordinary characters and through their flaws Ana Linden gives us insight into relationships and human nature.

The subjects of her stories range from the damaged educational system, the cruelty of abuse, loneliness, losers and guilt.

Sometimes you just need to feel a bad day for what it is. Unpleasant. Unexplicable. Normal.

In the opening story, Choices, two strangers meet on a plane. One is planning a vacation while the other has been hired to follow her. It is a fresh twist to the “strangers on a train” theme, filled with its high dosage of suspense and an intriguing love story in a noir atmosphere.
The second story, titled Frames, is about two retired teachers, married to each other and disillusioned with the educational system and marriage. As the story progresses each character individually and separately finds meaning in his/her life and a closer connection to each other. It is a story filled with empathy, kindness and hope. Life is not all doom and gloom. There are treasures to be recognized.
Drive, the third story in the collection presents the sad, long term effects of abuse and the power of guilt. In this story, Ana Linden makes us see child abuse from the opposite angle where it is the mother who is the abuser and the father who silently stands by. The secret the son shares with his father is both touching and sad and as the young boy becomes adult we see how his abuse affects his relationships with women until he meets a woman who is worse battered than himself.

Read a sample of Drive here.

The last story Trespasser is also about abuse and once again here we have the woman abusing her boyfriend – both need each other in their twisted ways. Ana Linden presents a very in depth description of both characters and their inner workings, the abuser making the argument why they are not right for each other while the abused seems unable to let go. This is a good story for anyone interested in the dynamics between a dysfunctional couple and why someone stays in an abusive relationship.

Linden’s writing is not ordinary. She is unafraid to show the rawness of human nature in a unique literary voice. She is an artist using words as her medium. It is reflective writing.  The stories in Frames are the kind that you want to savor and allow the beauty of the writing sink in. There is no sermonizing in these stories and we understand what is not being said. This makes for quite satisfying reading.

 

 

Sincere Condolences

I have known one person who died from the Covid-19 virus. Her name was Doris and she was 86. I regularly visited her with my dog, Bau, through the Caring Paws Animal Therapy Association.

Bau and Doris had a special bond. As a patient who suffered from Alzheimer, Doris had lost much of her ability to verbally communicate. However, with Bau she tended to speak more and became joyful. Her sad mood lifted and Bau was always excited to see her. This is what animal therapy can do.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Millions of people have died from this virus and millions more have had their  souls and hearts ripped apart because of loved ones suddenly gone.

When my mother died I wrote Don’t Bring me Flowers, an essay which is in the Mourning Has Broken collection. In the weeks which followed my sister’s death, an urge to write an essay about her also emerged . It was at page eighty that I realized the essay had flown off on its own and that I’d given myself this mission: for one year I would write about mourning as I went about my life collecting memories as  myriads of emotions assailed me.

Through it all, I explored the meaning of life and the changes of my own beliefs, taking me through a journey of sorrow, guilt, regret, joy and hope.

 

Composite-Cover

Available as e-book and as paperback

With sincere condolences to all those who have lost a loved one through Covid-19 or otherwise. May your memories of your loved one comfort you.

 

Golf Traps

Sand trap

On Wednesday, it was Canada Day and I went golfing with my brother. Some Canadian Geese decided to show up to mark the occasion and add to the sand and water traps. Dreadful obstacles.

The geese seemed to have more confidence that I did about airing my shot over them. They were perfectly oblivious to my presence.

I, on the otherhand, had little confidence. I picked up my ball and called it a good Canada Day.

Happy 4th of July to all my American blogger friends

 

 

Bau: I Need A Haircut

 

Haircut

This is my Covid-19 Hairdo. It’s a mess, I know, and I can hardly see. I’m just grateful for my exceptional sense of smell!

A dog’s sense of smell is its most powerful sense…It is so sensitive that [dogs can] detect the equivalent of a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

You can read more about my amazing sense of smell HERE.

My India: Juhu Beach

The photos in this post were taken in Juhu Beach, an upscale neighbourhood of Mumbai.  Juhu beach is also a preferred destination among filmmakers for the shooting of a lot of Bollywood films and therefore home to many Bollywood celebrities.

The area surrounding the Juhu beach is home to the houses of some of the most popular Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Ashit Lathia, Anu Malik, Mahesh Bhatt, Alia Bhatt, Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Dharmendra, Bobby Deol, Sunny Deol, Hrithik Roshan, Anupam Kher, Shakti Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, and Varun Dhawan among a lot of others. It’s the same reason why Juhu is often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Bollywood.

In: Times of India. 

Not knowing any of these film celebrities, I was content to sit in the lobby of the hotel, either sipping tea or a beer and reading The Times of India and The Mumbai Mirror.

I was so exhausted from the stimulation of India that all I wished to do was absorb where I was. The only roaming around I did was in the area where I was staying.

Off Tara Road in Juhu Beach

market

A typical alleyway

Juno beach

Entrance to a Jain community

Jains community

According to Wikipedia :

  • Jainism is perhaps one of the most ancient religious traditions of not just India but the world.
  • Jainism is the only religion wherein all followers, both monks and practicing lay persons of all sects and traditions, are required to be vegetarian.
  • Jains have been an important presence in Indian culture, contributing to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, sciences, and the politics of Mahatma Gandhi, which led to Indian independence.
  • Mahatma Gandhi took many walks at Juhu Beach.

The beach is also famous for many Mahatma Gandhi walks as a protest during independence struggle.

There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.

 

Juhu Beach

This is the end of My India posts.

Thank you for sharing your precious time with me.

 

 

 

 

Why I Wear A Mask

why I wear a mask

In a few weeks I will turn 70, which places me in a vulnerable age group for being infected with the Covid-19 virus. Also, I have a blood disorder.
A recent Bloomberg article listed blood clots as a symptom of Covid-19.

Blood — fever and inflammation may disrupt blood vessels, rendering blood cells more prone to clumping while interfering with the body’s ability to dissolve clots. That may trigger a clotting cascade that can lead to blood-vessel blockages in tissues and organs throughout the body. Life-threatening clots in the arteries of the lung, known as pulmonary emboli, may occur even after symptoms of the infection have resolved. Damaged blood vessels may become leaky and prone to bleeding. In children, inflammation of veins and arteries triggered by excessive immune activation may cause an illness similar to Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory disorder.
Masks are not meant to protect you – the person wearing it – but to protect others you may come in contact with. Since this virus can be asymptomatic, I consider wearing a mask a sign of respect and civic duty.
Do masks keep the virus from leaking out of one’s mouth? Not completely. If you are wearing a mask your particles can still reach me but there are less of them. Dr. Yuen Kwok-Yung, a microbiologist doctor at Hong Kong University, conducted an empirical research study which showed that the rate of transmission through respiratory droplets or airborne particles dropped by 75% by using masks (May, 2020).

What a mask does is that it decreases the momentum of the virus in the air. If I come in contact with someone wearing a mask the virus in the air decreases by 50%. That’s pretty significant.  And if everybody wore masks (because we now know that the virus can be asymptomatic) the chances of the virus in the air decreases by 80%.
Check out Dr. Yuen Kwok-Yung’s study on this video.

There are some who advocate not wearing a mask, nor confinement, nor social distancing so that we all can get the disease and therefore, we all can be immune to it. This approach presumes that everyone is healthy and no one has underlying health problems. One of my niece’s grandson has Kawasaki disease and in the past was hospitalized because of it. What would happen to him if he got the Covid-19? What would happen to me? Would I get only a little cold? What would happen to all those with heart conditions?
Another issue with this “lets all get the disease” is the capacity of our hospitals to be able to handle when everybody gets sick at the same time, thus spiking up the curve. Already as of May 22, 2020 , Medscape’s Corona Virus Resource Center lists healthcare workers who have already died from this virus. This list includes more than 1000 names from 64 countries. The youngest is 20, the eldest 99.
Go ahead, have a look at this list. These are real people. Someone’s mother, child, father, husband, wife, best friend.

Do we really need to overburden the health care system by overloading it? Flattening the curve is the main reason for these measures- which wearing a mask is one of them.
Of course, wearing a mask is not a full proof protection. You still have to use other precautions such as good hand hygiene, not touching your face and keeping social distancing.

I live on a beautiful and spacious island by the St Laurence seaway and when I go out to walk my dog, I don’t wear a mask and make sure to get fresh air into my lungs. Nor do I wear a mask when I am alone in my car driving.
But I do wear a mask when I go to the grocery store, the drugstore or even when picking up my coffee at Starbuck’s and any other place where there are people around. The person serving me wears a mask to protect me. It is only common curtesy, I feel, for me to also protect her or him.
I realize that there are those who will disagree with me and think that wearing a mask is a joke. If I got infected with this disease because you did not believe in wearing a mask I would not be laughing.


Finally, some people may find that wearing a mask is unattractive. My friend, Lomer, made me a few, including the one I’m wearing on this post. It has two layers of cotton separated by mesh. I like wearing it because it’s pretty and hides my wrinkles! 😊

My India: Varanasi

Let me begin by apologizing for not responding sooner to all your warm and encouraging comments on my India series.  For some inexplicable reason, WordPress did not show your comments. Then, I discovered that all your comments were pending! Sorry.

Now, on to Varanasi, which was the most fascinating of all the places I visited in India.

Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world, is situated along the sacred Gange River. It is here that the Hindus come to bathe in the holy water and to cleanse their sins.

Varanasi Gange

As one approaches the river, the streets are lined for blocks with men and women amidst roaming cows, motorbikes, cars, rickshaws, pilgrims and tourists. I cannot imagine how social distancing can ever occur here. People are crammed as they are, practically on top of each other. It is extreme chaos. And, yet, amidst all of this there is an intense spiritual mood as they make they their way to the banks of the river for the evening Aarti. Aarti is a Hindu spiritual fire ritual performed by Brahmin disciples to honor the holy river, Gods and deities.

Every evening, seven Brahmin disciples, using lamps, incense and chants face the river as they worship the goddess, Mother Gange.

aarti

Further down the river is where cremations take place. There can be as many as a hundred cremations a day. Mourners line up for their turn to dip the body shrouded in cloths and on stretchers into the Gange. The principle griever, dressed in white,   registers the body and picks up the wood necessary for the cremation. This dipping of the deceased in the Gange and then purified by fire and throwing the ashes into the river is meant to liberate the body from the cycle of life and death and thus move on to a higher plane of being.

Varanasi burials

Sunset on the Holy Ganges

Varanassi moon

What would India be without its sacred cow

sacred cow

Cows are considered sacred by Hindus in India. They were the favorite animal of Lord Krishna, and they serve as a symbol of wealth, strength, and abundance.

 

My India: Agra

The car ride from Rishikesh to Agra took us through some of the poorest parts of India. It was about a ten hour drive going through one village after another which looked pretty much the same.

towards agra

And then there was the magnificent Taj Mahal- one of the Wonders of the World – a Mughal architecture which combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian styles of buildings.

This ivory-white marble mausoleum was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to her fourteenth child. It was built by the Shah after Mumtaz’ death in 1651 as an expression of eternal love for his favorite queen.

taj

When the Shah met Mumtaz Mahal it was love at first sight. The name Taj, meaning “crown” is of Hindi and Sanskrit origin. Mahal, meaning “love” is of Japanese origin. Thus, one can say that The Taj Mahal is the crowning symbol of love.

 

 

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My India: Rishikesh

Leaving South India and landing in the north is like being in a different country. While Southern India is much like a touristy-vacation spot, North India is what I have always imagined India to be and more, and why, as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to travel here.

Rishikesh

The first stop was Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world. There is a yoga studio almost every block offering different styles of practice. Although many offer teacher training courses and retreats most welcome drop in classes.

Yoga rishikesh

Rishikesh is along the Holy Ganges River at the bottom of the Great Himalayas mountain chain.

Hymalas with snow

The water in the Ganges here is sparkling clear. Certainly not at all like what I had heard and read about the Ganges.

Gange

It was here in Rishikesh that I had the fortunate experience of staying at the Yoga Nikitan Ashram (a stark room with only a cold shower, no heat – in February the temperature was still cold- a bed without sheets and a blanket under which I slept with my jacket on). The ashtanga yoga classes (based on Patanjali yoga philosophy), given by swamis or gurus (I’m not sure), were some of the toughest I’ve had, but also some of the most satisfying and spiritually nourishing.

While I was here Jivasu, the founder of the Naturality Movement was giving a workshop on A Natural Path of Awakening.

If you follow others, you will miss yourself.   

Although I was not registered for the Naturality workshop and was leaving Rishikesh the day after Dr. Jivasu had arrived I was privileged to be able to attend his opening session and only wished that I could have stayed for the entire workshop.

jivasu-pradeep-kumar

 

Naturality is a process of accepting life in its totality, which encompasses fear and stillness, sorrow and joy, turmoil and peace. It is an effort to know one’s own nature and the nature of the external world, two sides of the same reality, rather than following a system or a teacher.

 

 

“The most beautiful book to read is the book of our life”
– Jivasu