RIPPLE IN THE SEA

Horrified over her mother’s treason,
desperate to redeem her family’s honor,
a Japanese-American girl infiltrates a
World War II Japanese prisoner-of-war camp
to free victims of medical experiments.

That’s the plan, anyway . . . .

“This novel was filled with drama, action,
and well-researched information
that made this an intense yet entertaining read.
Very impressive.”

Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews

This is a story I had to write, thanks to my father’s experiences in the Pacific Theater during World War II, after which he suffered from PTSD. It’s been 75 years since the end of that war, and in all that time very little has been published regarding civilian life in wartime Japan (Historical Notes at the end list a few examples; they tend to be at least somewhat autobiographical). A more wide-ranging accounting of this era, in a fictional format that could appeal to readers, appeared worthwhile. Part I of this novel sets the stage for it, balancing the things done to Japan with the things Japan had done earlier in the war (which are also addressed in many other works).

To those who feel offended that a person of a given ethnicity should write from the perspective of another, I apologize. “Own voices” may be optimal, but it would seem wrong to suppress a story simply because no one from the relevant culture has chosen to tell it. (As you might expect, at this point few are still alive who experienced the culture of wartime Japan, so I am fortunate to have found one to help as a beta-reader.)

In a similar vein, diversity of characters is desirable in novels, yet options in this case were quite restricted. Even the gender of the protagonist was dictated by the fact a boy would have been swallowed up into the Japanese war machine.

In addition to readers interested in the history of the era, it is my hope that teachers might find this an acceptable way to present details of the period in a manner that intrigues students.

Released 15 August 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of fighting. Available from any bookstore via Ingram Spark.

ISBN-13: 978-0-997299-3-5-9

Perils With Book Reviews

Many writers consider professional reviews can help sales, by providing one with quotes to be included on an opening page. Several companies provide such, and I recently received a 5-star rating from Readers Favorites Book Reviews (yay!). However, these reviews vary in cost by the company, and they’re all subjective, so you never know what you’re getting.

The company that bills itself as the most well known and prestigious is Kirkus. Their reviews are also quite expensive. This would not be a problem if they consistently provided professional reviews, but it turns out there’s no guarantee of that. The review one receives could be no more than the gut reaction of a single person, just like one could receive from a random reader on Amazon. I’ll describe what I mean.

The same book the Readers Favorites reviewer liked got totally panned by a Kirkus reviewer. This could be fine, it’s all subjective. You can’t please everyone. However, the opinions reflected a bias that was hard to understand.

This historical novel (Ripple in the Sea, to be released August 15, 2020) is the story of a Japanese-American girl who infiltrates a World War II Japanese prisoner-of-war camp to free victims of medical experiments. (That’s the plan, anyway.) It was inspired by my father’s experiences in the Pacific Theater during the war, after which he suffered from PTSD. It’s been 75 years since the end of that war, and in all that time very little has been published regarding civilian life in wartime Japan, so addressing that subject seemed worthwhile.

As stated in notes at the end of the manuscript, this obviously required much research, and many beta readers to avoid inaccuracies or racial issues that weren’t reflective of the era. Racism and brutality reigned on both sides of the conflict, and I needed to balance them. I was even lucky enough to locate a Japanese-American beta-reader, born in Tokyo in 1938 and with memories of the end of the war, to verify acceptability.

Despite this, the Kirkus reviewer reacted to things they considered racially questionable or exploitative (no other readers saw such prurient aspects). The Kirkus reviewer even criticized the work for not “offer(ing) any groundbreaking insights into the dire situation that many Japanese Americans faced during World War II.” This, despite the fact the action takes place on the other side of the Pacific and the situation in the U.S. was unknown to the book’s characters, not to mention this issue being irrelevant to the story being told. In other words, the reviewer was not reacting to the story being presented, but instead criticizing the story for not being the one they wanted to read.

The reviewer even called the novel “tone-deaf,” an inappropriately disparaging remark that is quite out of line in a professional review.

On June 3, 2020, I sent a list of ten concerns to Kirkus, describing issues I had with their product. Kirkus replied the same day saying their response would take 9-12 business days, since “This process involves communicating with the Indie editors, reviewing your complaints, examining your book, and communicating with the reviewer.” In fact, multiple emails documented delays on their part, and I didn’t receive a response until July 20th, 47 days later.

The Kirkus response was brief to the point of being a back-of-the-hand they could have sent long before. Essentially, all they said was “This is subjective and directly related to the reviewer’s opinion.” They repeated the phrase over and over. They even used it as an excuse for the reviewer’s complaint that the story didn’t cover the situation back in the U.S., which was not only irrelevant to the story but which has already been addressed in other works.

Perhaps Kirkus management is loathe to make changes to any comments, however egregious, out of fear it would open the floodgates to others identifying problems and wanting corrections. Granted, refusing to make changes is consistent with their boiler-plate “customer agreement,” but that doesn’t make it a good business practice in all situations.

I would like to note that throughout the process from June 3 on, the person at Kirkus who handled my emails and passed my concerns to the appropriate parties was courteous and professional at all times. I just wish the company’s response to my comments could be better.

I conclude that the Kirkus training and management oversight is deficient. All reviews are subjective, and all writers get panned from time to time regardless of how much other readers may love a story. Nevertheless, the highest-priced reviews in the industry should be geared toward evaluating the quality of the story being told without injecting personal politics or pointlessly insulting remarks. Just my opinion, of course. Note also that Kirkus includes a muzzling clause in the customer agreement, telling writers they can’t say a thing about the review unless they agree to have Kirkus publish it. For those who don’t want to air a bad review, this is a way to silence complaints. I’ve therefore had to authorize publication of the review to make my case here. I hope other writers are willing to speak out, so that one day the review process at Kirkus (and perhaps elsewhere) can be improved. In the meantime, if you’re going to pay for a review, be advised.

RIPPLE IN THE SEA reviewed

Just got a 5-star review of the draft manuscript for my YA-historical, “Ripple in the Sea,” from ReadersFavorite.com. Wow. Always so cool to find a happy reader! (It was reviewed in the “fiction-historical-event/era” category, since they don’t have “YA-historical.”) Here’s what they said:

Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

Ripple in the Sea by Charley Pearson is the story of Kristy Hara, a Japanese-American girl who is trying to redeem her family name, only to find that it is far too dangerous and hard for a young girl like her. Kristy has never enjoyed living with her family. While her father is a meek man, her mother is one to look out for. However, when she finds out that her mother has betrayed her country, young Kristy is determined to clear her family name. So, she plans to get inside the Japanese prisoner of war camps and try to save as many people as she can. She wants to save them from the horrors of torture but little did she know that she was about to step into a place where nothing would be in her control. She has no idea who she can trust, who is loyal to whom and what is it that she can actually do. But now she is in the middle of it and there is no turning back.

I thought this would be a somewhat modern rendition of Mulan, but it was so much better. I enjoyed the flow of the story and the narrative, even though it was written in the first-person narrative. The author kept a slow steady pace, ensuring that the characters had time and page space to bloom and enough pages for the story to become alive in front of me. The first-person narrative brought me up close and personal with Kristy. I could feel her tension and experience her hardships. She was a naïve girl in the beginning, but towards the end, she was a mature person who understood the consequences and made intelligent decisions. This novel was filled with drama, action and well-researched information that made this an intense yet entertaining read. Very impressive.

Killer Nashville Writers Conference

I’ll be attending the Killer Nashville conference starting August 22, 2019. These are always fun. Great panel discussions on many topics. My medical thriller SCOURGE is in the running for a Silver Falchion award, and people can now vote in the Readers’ Choice awards category. Feel free! (You might have to hit control-F, or the equivalent for Apple, and search for Charley or Pearson or Scourge to find me and vote.) Maybe I’ll see you there?

Site Hacked – again

Hi, all. Sorry for the problems accessing my site the past few weeks. The server company got hacked, and weird things happened for a while. Like, you’re just now seeing the post for April Fool’s Day. Ah, well, they seem to have things working now, in part because I changed the background theme. You like? There are plenty more options to choose from, so maybe I should switch around until we find one we like.

Cya! – Charley

April Fool’s Day

This one isn’t a joke. It’s serious. This book will rot your brain cells. (OK, not really, but it could make you choke on your coffee. More than once.) And it won an award for best anthology at the 2017 Killer Nashville writers conference, so it may be worth your time if you’re even a trace bit Pythonesque. Try a free Kindle sample, maybe. Or send it to your worst enemy. (heh, heh)


SCOURGE now available as self-pub

Alas, the SCOURGE publisher has folded. Too many books, not enough income, apparently. So now this medical thriller is self-published. Available from your local bookstore via Ingram Spark (ISBN 978-0997299328) or from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997299320 (links there for either paperback or Kindle).

Or — Click my name at the Amazon site to see a link to the humor anthology, “The Marianated Nottingham and Other Abuses of the Language.” Because it’s about time someone told the Sheriff of Nottingham’s side of the story — i.e., the truth about Robin Hood. (heh, heh)

Enjoy!

SCOURGE publisher folding

Sad news for the writing community. On December 5, 2018, Fiery Seas Publishing announced their closure. Authors (including me) will have their material become self-published vice commercially. Alas, another potential market has been lost.
 
Off to work on formatting for re-release of e-book and (finally) release of paperback. Coming soon.
Reviews previously posted, like on Amazon . . . well, not sure what will happen to them. Depends on whether the account transfers to me, or I have to re-release via new account. We’ll see. Meanwhile, reviews posted elsewhere, like on the San Francisco Review of Books, should be fine.
Busy, busy!