Sumo-Sized Praise for THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER

As I have previously mentioned on this blog, and as anyone who has ever attempted creative writing can attest to, writing a novel is not a one-shot-and-your-done process. You often have to write something, come back to it and realize you have no business thinking you can write, trying again, coming back and realizing you still have no business thinking you can write, taking your work to your spouse who confirms that you have no business thinking you can write, and so on and so forth until after five, six or twenty attempts later, you finally have a decent draft you can present to peers for a critique. When you finally get to that point, it can be very nerve wracking because you have arrived at a place where you realize you can’t do much better. You think to yourself, “Either I have talent or I don’t, because I cannot look at this story one more time without setting it on fire and then finding a dark corner to hopefully drink myself into oblivion.”

Okay, maybe that’s a tad dramatic, but it’s not far off. (By the way, your spouse will likely be more than happy to join you in setting it fire if she hasn’t done so already without your knowledge.)

So for me, after I had been through this gauntlet of hell, there was one logical choice when it came down to seeking a “peer review” from a fellow author.  I put peer review in quotes because my experience up until then was hacking my way through one unpublished novel while she, on the other hand, had published four. It’s kind of like calling your local karaoke star and George Strait peers. Anyway, the person who seemed the most logical was fellow Gila Valley author, Jennifer Griffith.

Jennifer, as mentioned, has published four novels. Her latest, BIG IN JAPAN, a story about a 300 pound man who finds himself unexpectedly caught up in the world of sumo wrestling, has even reached as high as #9 on the Amazon sales list for sports novels. And she knows a thing or two about critiquing manuscripts. Thankfully, she agreed to take a look at mine.

It turned out I couldn’t have been more fortunate. She provided a great perspective and gave me very sound advice that led to an overall strengthening of my story. She was also very supportive during the process of submitting my manuscript to agents and publishers. I owe her a great deal.

Anyway, when THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER got picked up by Cedar Fort Publishing, instead of saying thank you, I instead asked her for another favor. I asked if she would be willing to provide an endorsement. Once again, she was gracious and willing.

So first of all, let me say how much I appreciate Jennifer Griffith’s help and support through this entire process. And second of all, let me express how grateful I am for the following words that are extremely kind. Thanks, Jen. Her endorsement now follows:

Todd Landry would be the slightly cynical, charming everyman – if his life weren’t tinged by the tragedy of the death of his wife. Marci died too soon, leaving him with three kids and no idea what to do next, how to deal or how to progress.

He’s been putting on a good face for his children, but his parents and siblings know everything’s not okay and have insisted he get some counseling. To appease them, he’s been going faithfully to Dr. Schenk, a detached psychiatrist who’s ready to drop Todd as a patient because he refuses to speak in therapy sessions week after week. The doc issues an ultimatum: Todd must write or be dropped as a client. Todd knows the only thing keeping his family off his back is that he meets with Dr. Schenk, so he (extremely) reluctantly agrees. And he starts writing a blog.

What ensues in Ryan Rapier’s debut novel The Reluctant Blogger, is the unfolding of a life. It’s a life rich with history, emotion, and characters so true to life you’ll swear you’ve met them in church or are related to them yourself. Todd’s obstacles and efforts toward healing are fraught with emotional and social danger, and with frequent hilarious predicaments, all told through Todd Landry’s dry wit and his incisive descriptions of the friends and family that populate his world.

Rapier has an uncanny ability to take the reader from laughter to wrenching emotion in a matter of paragraphs. The whole page-turning journey is a wonderful roller coaster ride with characters the reader is invested in from page one—all the way to the highly satisfying ending. – Jennifer Griffith, Author of BIG IN JAPAN

BIG IN JAPAN is available in select bookstores and on-line at amazon.com. You can also visit her blog at www.authorjennifergriffith.com or you can like her Facebook author page as well at facebook.com/jennifergriffithauthor.

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER will arrive in bookstores and mailboxes August 13, 2013. It is currently available for pre-order at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ, or on-line at Amazon.com by clicking here. If you aren’t currently liking Ryan Rapier’s author page on facebook, please do so for no other reason than we are a self-absorbed society that judges ourselves by how many people are our “friends” or “like” us…and I’m no different. The page can be found www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor

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Parting Shots: Part Three of a Conversation with Author, Jennifer Griffith

Two weeks ago, I posted the first portion of an on-going conversation between myself and Jennifer Griffith, author of BIG IN JAPAN, and one of the few people I entrusted my early manuscript to of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER.  Part one of our conversation can be found here, while part two can be found here. Below is the third and final part of our conversation.

After asking about her novel, I took the opportunity to finish our conversation by asking Jennifer the following question:

RR:  “Now, I’m curious, what were some of your initial reactions when you started reading THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER? I’m tempted to clarify the question further, but I think I would prefer the answer I will get if I leave it fairly open.”

JG: “When I first started reading it, the very first chapter, I thought, man, this guy can write. It was a breath of fresh air for me. As we got a little farther into the story, I thought Todd, your main character, was a sad case, and I worried that the story might end up being sadder than the kind of stories I usually read (although I do like a good Nicholas Sparks novel from time to time). But about five pages in, I started to recognize (and get!) the sense of humor that pervades the novel. From that moment on, I was in it for the whole ride.

 
One thing that I love about this book is how quickly (like, by page three) I cared about the characters in the book. From chapter one, I wanted to see this man triumph, I ached for his tragedy, I longed for his relief. It is the test of a true writer whether he/she can get the reader to care about a character, and I definitely connected with Todd from the start. And what a good, good journey you took him (and thereby, us, as readers) on!
 
As I read it, I was discussing it with our friend Aimee. She and I kept saying how this story will appeal to women since they love all the talkiness of this style of writing and the relationships that are the core of the story, but it will appeal to men as well because of the real man that Todd is. It’s got broad appeal. I am sure it will find a good readership. I’d recommend it to any of my reading friends. (Almost. There are some who only like Wimpy Kid books.)
 
I need to add one more thing, my other impression of the novel is that it is a story that is very timely. It touches on issues that members of the church deal with all the time and that have in the past been avoided in public discourse. Recently, these issues have been discussed more openly, and I think this book is hitting the shelves at just the exact moment, and I see it helping a lot of people come to grips with realities they never thought they’d have to face in their family relationships. I see it as a healing book.
 
And here’s my final question to you: Where do you expect to see THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER received the best? By that I mean, who do you think is the book’s best audience? (And for the record, I do see it having broad, broad appeal.)”
RR: “I think my strength lies with women over 50 who were avid watchers of DALLAS and THE LOVE BOAT in the late 70s/early 80s. I mean if someone liked JR Ewing back in the day, this is definitely the book for them.
Seriously,I have to admit I don’t know. I think that is one of the problems a person can run into when they just sit down and start writing without knowing their genre, their target audience or even where the story is going to end up. It may end up being the book you wanted to write, but when it comes to the business/marketing side of publishing, things can get tricky.
I think Generation Xers, male or female, will relate best to the story because that’s my generation and I write like an Xer. If you buy into stereotypes, my book would probably attract females more than males, but the men who have read it have made comments like, “I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up reading the dust jacket, but it ended up being much different than I thought it would be, in a good way.”
So again, I don’t know. I think most anybody who gives it a chance will enjoy it. I’m sure there are exceptions, but that will always be the case. My hope is simply that whoever picks it up finds themselves invested in Todd Landry and the people who surround him. And when it’s over, each reader is a little sad, because they feel as if they have to say goodbye to new friends. If I accomplish that, I will have succeeded.”
I would like to thank Jennifer Griffith for her time and willingness to take part in this exercise. For me, it has been a lot of fun to learn about her motivations and experiences in writing BIG IN JAPAN, and I have also enjoyed getting a chance to reflect on my experiences writing THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. If anyone reading this has any questions for either Jennifer or myself (not that I expect any), please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post or on the Facebook link that likely brought you here.
BIG IN JAPAN, from Jolly Fish Press is available at most bookstores and is available on-line at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. 
THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives in August, 2013. For more information on its release, go to facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor and click “like” for updates and additional postings. Ryan can also be followed on Twitter at @RyanRapier.