Today, we'd like to welcome a new blogster joining us here on BtO, the very talented writer and editor, Barbara Sissel with whom I've had the pleasure of critiquing for many years. A wickedly-smart reader and writer, she's been my go-to beta reader since before I first published, and I can tell you, I never consider a manuscript ready until she's given it her seal of approval. Or made me rewrite the danged thing until it measured up.
She's also the person, or one of them, I credit for my editors' (mistaken) belief that I write manuscripts that come in so clean they squeak.
BtO: Hi, Barbara, and welcome to Boxing the Octopus. First off, can you tell us a little about how you came to be so wise in the ways of the word?
A. Thank you, Colleen. The critique partner street runs both ways! As for my love of reading and language, my mother was definitely my major source of inspiration. A writer herself, she was the one who challenged me to read widely, who would say the proper understanding of a word in all its variations of color and mood was achieved only after you could define it in three different ways. From elementary school on, building sentences and then small stories from my vocabulary words was my absolute favorite activity. I always had my hand in the air.
BtO: What are your favorite types of books to write, read, and review? (Okay, technically, that's three questions, but you didn't really think I'd play fair, did you?)
A. I tend to love to read, write and review "thinky" books, books that pose a moral dilemma where something terrible happens to ordinary people and they are compelled to endure a "dark night" experience. I don't mind if a book doesn't end so happily with all the characters walking off into the sunset, but I like it much better if there is love and forgiveness at the end.
BtO: I find you such a perceptive reader, I've always loved sharing book recommendations with you and can't wait to hear about old and new titles you're loving? What's your philosophy going to be when reviewing books for the blog?
A. In the course of life I tend to go with the old adage, if you can't say anything nice ... etc. etc. If I feel the time I spend reading a book is wasted, I certainly don't want to then spend more time writing about that. Reading is so subjective in any case. Not everyone is going to love the same book, thank heaven! But if I read a book and something of its flavor lingers, if I come away with the gift of new insight, say, or if I'm reminded of some life-affirming treasure, I'm going to want to review that book, to share whatever jewels I've picked up, with others.
BtO: Anything else you'd like to share?
A.I'm delighted to be included with such a wonderful panel of contributors to BtO and looking forward to sharing my love of reading and writing with others. Thanks ever so much for the privilege.
Thanks for joining us, Barbara, and welcome to the group! We're delighted to have you here.
Starred Review of Lock In at Booklist - It’s up at the magazine’s Web site now (albeit behind a paywall), so I can acknowledge it here: Lock In has received its third starred review, this time fr...
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