Saturday, March 9, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 10

Scott D. Parker

Blogging can be very tempting.

Two Blogs?

I have two blogs: my original one via blogspot and my author one. My initial thought back in 2015 when I started the author blog was to ditch the blogspot and focus only on the author one. Later, I realized there were some benefits to having two blogs so I converted the blogspot one to be strictly for my western pen name. Now, I've come around to maintaining both blogs with more or less identical content.

Overkill? Most likely, but I prefer to reach as many folks as possible. Plus, the blogspot site has all my blogs since 2008, and that's worth something. Another factor is that the blogspot one might come across less like an author site than the actual author one. In fact, I'm thinking about rebranding the blogspot site with something more personal. That way, I'll be able to just write about stuff that the Author Self might not. Not sure. Still pondering.

Oh, and commenting on blogspot is much easier.

So, for the time being, they're still going to be identical. You can read my posts however you want.

Blog Writing 

Let's face it: we writers enjoy not only the act of writing and creating but also the joy of interaction. With fiction writing, there is always the inevitable lag. We sit in front of our computer's and write the story. No matter how much excitement this part of the process generates, it often dissipates waiting for the story to reach readers.

Not so with blog writing. With our various blogging platforms and the social media to spread the the link around, we can get eyes on our posts within minutes of putting in that final period. Throw in comments and we can have all but immediate feedback.

It's intoxicating. But also detrimental. The time spent crafting a blog post is time not spent writing. And if you are in a boat similar to mine--day job with not quite two hours available per day for fiction writing--writing time is very precious. Once gone, it never comes back.

Which is why I instituted a new personal policy when it comes to writing a blog post: a 15-minute segment is all I'll devote to a blog post at any one time. Often, if I have some thoughts on a subject, I know I can concisely get my thoughts on pixel in that time. It'll probably come in around 500 words. Long enough for a blog post.

In this manner, I'll maintain not only constant blog posts--for all those algorithms--but also keep more time ready for actual fiction writing.

These weekly Indie Author posts are longer than normal...but I also work on them throughout the week and not in one giant session.

Writing Anywhere at Anytime

Can you? Can you write anywhere at anytime?

Thankfully, I always have been able to do this. Good thing, too.

On Monday, I took my boy to Main Event so he could have some team-building time with his co-workers. We left at 7:15 pm and stayed until 9:40 or so. I brought my Chromebook, my Kindle, and a steno pad. I intended to work. With bowling, pools, an arcade, and a booming soundtrack right above my head...well, it wasn't exactly quiet.

Nothing at all like my 4:30 am writing time in my house when I'm truly the only one awake.

What did I do? Finished reading FARADAY: THE IRON HORSE by James Reasoner. Finished writing the book review I posted this past Wednesday. Finished the then latest chapter on the new Ben Wade, PI, short story/novella. All with all of that distraction.

When we left, my boy asked if I was able to get work done. When I listed my accomplishments, even he seemed impressed.

Being able to write anywhere at anytime is a good tool to have in one's toolbox.

What I'm Reading/Finished

Speaking of THE IRON HORSE, have you read my review of this fantastic book by the prolific storyteller James Reasoner? I really enjoyed the tale.

My book club met this past Tuesday. We discussed Jeff VanderMeer's BORNE. While the book was clearly competently written, it was not for me.

For some reason, I've had a hankering to read some classic franchise novels. Forty years ago next month, Brian Daley's HAN SOLO AT STARS' END was published. It's the book I selected for the book club. In addition to that, I'm reading an old Star Trek novel by Barbara Hambly, ISHMAEL.

My current audiobook is APOLLO 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger. As we gear up to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 this July, I looked up Apollo 9 and 10. We are currently in the 50-year-old window of Apollo 9 (3-13 March 1969). Apollo 10 starts in May.

Oh, and I likely watched--and loved--"Captain Marvel" last night...but here, in real time, I haven't seen it yet. :-)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sing Out Louise

By Derek Farrell

In Brook Street Mayfair in London there are two houses at numbers twenty-three and twenty-five. They’re big flat Georgian fronted brick buildings, and on each of them there’s a blue plaque.

The plaques – for those who aren’t familiar with the idea – are placed on buildings by English Heritage to identify places where important people once lived or worked or stayed, and the two plaques here commemorate the fact that number twenty-five, George Frederic Handel lived and worked while next door to him (though, admittedly, some years later) Jimi Hendrix made music, got wasted, and became a rock Icon.

And I’m struck, every time I pass the place, by the juxtaposition; by the idea of the ghosts of the two men – Handel and Hendrix - artistic geniuses in their own right, hanging out together, of Handel and Hendrix bickering “Call that music? It’s a noise. Nothing more!” “Cat, chill the fuck down. And shorten the pieces. Aint nobody got time for all that Baroque nonsense.”

I’ve got a book out at the moment. It’s called Death of an Angel, and it’s the fourth book in my series featuring Danny Bird, an average Londoner who – through events way too convoluted to detail in this post – has ended up running the world’s grimiest gay bar, working for a local gangster, sleeping with a closeted gay copper, and solving murders as a sideline.

And I like the idea of Hendrix and Handel hanging out together because I’m fairly sure that Handel would have thought Hendrix was a fraud, a charlatan making noise and trying to pass it off as music, and that thought – the idea that George Frederic Handel’s opinion would have been wrong – comforts me greatly every time Carrie’s mother kicks in.

You know Carrie’s mother, right? Piper Laurie in the movie of the Stephen King book? Maureen McGovern in the original Broadway cast of the musical (oh yeah, there was a musical. Written by the same people who wrote “Fame (I’m gonna live forever)”. It was in the eighties, and a lot of things were different then. Like, we thought Ollie North was the most treasonous any US Politico would ever get. Happy times.)

Anyways, Carrie’s mother: There she is, her voice wheedling and sneering. “They’re all gonna laugh at you,” she says. “They’re all gonna see through you this time.” And every time I’m terrified. What if she’s right? What if I’m fooling myself? What if my books are shit, and my talent is for self delusion not literature?

What if the fact I’m not on the shelf at Waterstones or Barnes & Noble means I’m a failure at this thing? What if the fact that my friends have TV Deals and glittering launches makes them better than me? What if, in fact, they are all laughing at me?

My books languished in a drawer for years cos I was so afraid of this derision that I’d become convinced that nobody would ever read let alone publish them. It took, to be honest, one of those staring into the abyss moments for that to change.

My mother was dying. And I couldn’t stop it. Me, who had always been a fixer, a creator, a make-do-and-mender. And this was going to happen no matter what I did, no matter how desperately I tried to avoid it.

And – well, not to put too fine a point on it – I had a bit of a breakdown. Not a Carrie White level breakdown, but a crisis. Of faith in living. Of Belief that there would ever be Joy again. Of self: If I couldn’t fix this, then what was the point of me?

So I ended up in therapy (I highly recommend it, by the way, if for nothing more than as a way of getting someone’s undivided attention for forty-five minutes at a stretch whilst getting to talk all about YOU) where my therapist noticed how I lit up when I talked about my books, and asked why I wasn’t more actively pursuing publication.

And finally, after a lifetime, Carrie’s Mom spoke her truth.

And I – with my therapist’s help – told her to go fuck herself.

And so I sent out my book about a gay private eye that nobody would ever publish, and an agent sent it back saying it was too gay, too arch, too camp, and too ‘not one thing not another’ to ever get interest from mainstream houses.

But a rocking new indie press loved it, and loved it enough to want to publish it (that’s a whole ‘nother post).

And straight away, Carrie’s Mom popped back up:

Not good enough for a mainstream publisher. Ergo, not a proper writer.

Can’t get into shops ‘cos it’s an Amazon exclusive. Ergo, not a proper author.

Just someone playing at the fringe.

But I’m four books in now, and each one’s selling better than the one before. The one that that agent judged unsellable? Just paid for my next vacation.

On publication day last week, people were messaging me demanding to know why the new book wasn’t on Amazon by Lunchtime (Bezos clearly too busy with his cameraphone), and readers were sending me screenshots of their purchases in Mexico and Athens and New York City. And bloggers and authors – people whose work I love and whose taste I respect – said lovely things about Death of An Angel. And my readers devoured the book.

That agent was right. To an extent. The Danny Bird books are gay, arch, camp, and not for everyone.

But the people who they are for – the people who buy them in countries on the other side of the world, or who buy them around the corner from where I live, who read them on the LIRR as they head into the city, or on the Tube as they commute to work, who send me Tweets with casting suggestions for the inevitable TV Series <casts eyes to heaven> - those people love them.

The book opens with a woman’s body being discovered. She’s clearly plummeted from a nearby tower block, but the age old question remains: Did she fall, or was she pushed?

And as my publication day buzz was still pounding those endorphins through my veins, someone sent me a link to the 2019 announcement in the UK of a prize that will be awarded “to the author of a novel in the thriller genre in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.” I’m not linking to them or naming them, because frankly Carrie’s mother gets enough publicity without me adding to the chorus.

Please don’t get me wrong: There’s a lot of bad writing out there. A lot. Like, a metric shit ton of it. And sadly there’s a lot of torture porn too. But something like this – something which (firstly) uses the term “Thriller” to encompass all crime / genre writing, and thus stinks of 1950s prurience (like the lower orders only read for the ‘thrills’); and which seeks, in a misguided attempt at removing from the library that bad writing, to proscribe how authors and their readers see and reflect the world around them; and which, in its wording, suggests not only that even women’s expression of their own lived experiences should be censured but that in some way the beating, stalking, sexually exploiting, raping or murdering of men is fair enough – is Carrie’s Mom in an award form.

It's George Frederic Handel sitting on a panel telling us that what we have made is not music; it’s noise.

And you know what? Maybe it is. Maybe it is just noise.

Maybe there’s a place in the world for Baroque and Jazz and Rock and Pop and Punk, for Opera and for Showtunes.

And yes, when it comes down to it, maybe all of it is noise. Maybe all of it is just these apes that learned to walk upright howling at the moon like it makes any difference.

But you know what? It’s our noise; and these are our songs.

And the next time Carrie White’s mom pops up, we should remember that, then put her right back in her box.

Because without our songs, there is only silence.

Derek Farrell is the author of Death of an Angel and three other Danny Bird Mysteries.

The books have been described as "Like the Thin Man meets Will & Grace," like MC Beaton on MDMA," and - by no less an expert than Eric Idle - as "Quite Fun."

Farrell is married and lives with his husband in West Sussex.

They have no goats chickens, children or pets, but they do have every Kylie Minogue record ever made.
--> -->

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Writing in a Vacuum and Other Stories

So the Oscars happened. I haven't seen Green Book so I'm not going to comment too much on the Academy's choice of it as the best picture of 2018, but they don't exactly have a great track record. (I was disappointed in Green Book upon announcement, because it uses the name of Victor Hugo Green's book for black people to travel safely--in the north as well as south--in '60s America without telling his story, which deserves its own movie.) What I will talk about is the argument that you should judge the art, not the artist, and the desire to somehow write in a vacuum. The artist will always be judged. Period. I'm not going to argue whether it is wrong or right, or whether you should or not. It is a simple fact. The only way to not be judged is to remain anonymous or in obscurity until your death, and then they'll judge your bones. It's what people do.

The writer who has come closest to anonymity and fame  of late is Elena Ferrante, author of the Neapolitan Quartet beginning with My Brilliant Friend. And I may have missed her being outed; I recall there was some scandal about her "real identity" and I didn't read it, because I don't want to know who she "really" is. I read My Brilliant Friend and enjoyed it, but I haven't read the rest of the books yet. They are intense, and I will finish them sometime. I should probably jump on it before someone reveals her identity to me.

I can be stubborn about reading classics and beloved books. I finally got around to reading William Faulkner, which I somehow avoided despite taking AP English in high school and completing an English degree with honors at Rutgers University, so I get around to these things eventually. I had read Faulkner's Knight's Gambit stories and found them mediocre, but Sanctuary was quite good. Joyce Carol Oates nudhzed me into reading it, and I think she's disappointed that I didn't crow about it. It's a great book, sure. Disturbing, and sort of the flip-side to To Kill a Mockingbird, with Horace Benbow sitting in for Atticus Finch, and being much more human. It begins in media res and you have to piece it together, and while I enjoyed his portrayal of hypocritical small-town mores, his structure made it a bit of a chore. Faulkner called it a potboiler after the critical response. 1930's America wasn't ready for a dose of ugly reality. It's still shocking today.

I read a good post by writer Joseph D'Agnese about the power of Sleep. He's not the first to talk about the benefits of sleeping on a plot problem or other writing block, but he's talked to sleep doctors, and The goal of sleep is to organize your thoughts and consolidate learning. Americans are chronically under-rested, so this says a lot. Get your sleep in. When you have a problem, sleep on it. Use a sleep app to measure how much sleep you are getting, if necessary. I had a big sleep debt from sleep apnea, and I am still very sensitive to lack of sleep. I get cranky, unfocused, gloomy. I watch for it, and I go to bed super-early when I see it happening, to head it off. You'll be surprised how a few good nights' sleep will improve your outlook. Try it.

When you're not sleeping, you can go to events like Noir at the Bar Hoboken. Jason Pinter, publisher of Polis Books, gathered a great bunch of writers at Mulligan's pub in Hoboken, in stumbling distance of the PATH train. The bar is an ungentrified old school pub that gave him the back room, and it was packed Sunday night. Readers included Jen Conley, Kellye Garrett, Ed Aymar, John Vercher, and Jim Fusilli. It was a great night, and I hope he does it again soon. Club soda and lime is free, and five bucks for curry fries? I might move in! The Guinness is poured well and at seven bucks ain't too bad. It's around the corner from Little City Books, a nice shop that does keep a strong mystery section, and they sold books at the event. It was a good time, and I hope to see you there for the next one. John Vercher, whose book Three Fifths comes out from Polis Books this year, read from a work in progress about a beat-up fighter who finds a body in his trunk and doesn't remember how it got there. Can't wait to read the rest of that one!
Speaking of Jen Conley, her YA novel Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry is wonderful. If you read her story of the same name in Protectors, she has expanded it into a great little book. She brought me back to my childhood with this gripping debut. Danny Zelko battles with his mother's abusive boyfriend amidst the helplessness, confusion, and tumultuous friendships of his formative thirteenth summer. Sometimes harrowing, often funny, this is a great and necessary read for anyone who wants to understand what it's like for boys in that liminal stage, when faced with the challenge of a bad role model. It's available for pre-order from Down & Out Books.
This year, the real stunner of a book will be The Border, by Don Winslow. Following his breakout crime novel The Power of the Dog and the epic sequel The Cartel, this finale creates an American drug war trilogy to challenge the L.A. Quartet. Arturo Keller is now head of the DEA and has a chance to enact real change, but as a man of vindictive obsession, he wants to take out the money men who keep the cartel alive by allowing them to launder their cash to fund real estate around the world. He retains the epic sprawl of the second novel but tightens the narrative so the story burns at a feverish clip, like we are bingeing a NetFlix series. And as always, he is unafraid to stare into the abyss of our own making, asking why Americans need more painkillers than the rest of the world. Drugs come across our borders because we want them.

Coming from a family that's no stranger to the drug war--one cousin lost, others saved after what felt like endless stumbles back into hell--I thanked Don Winslow for his sympathetic portrait of addicts, migrant children fleeing the gangs our money created, police who destroy their souls working undercover, and their superiors who have to make impossible decisions. He spares no one: the Italian mob, street gangs, the cartel, the bankers and lawyers and politicians who protect their money, and the system itself, which generates billions in jobs to run in circles chasing drugs when we know how it gets here and why. It doesn't get smuggled up a mule's behind in the desert by migrants looking for a better life, it rolls in on tractor trailers, one every 15 seconds. When I worked at the shipping terminal, one of our vendors built gamma ray scanners that were supposed to quickly scan those trucks for bodies and contraband as they rolled through the border crossings. Sometimes they work, if a bribe isn't involved.
The ARC of The Border is 711 pages and I read it in under a week, in hundred-page marathon sessions, forcing myself to put the book down. Winslow is in full mastery of his voice here, and conjures fully-fleshed characters from the earth like planted dragon's teeth. I won't forget Jacqui, Nico, Detective Cirello, Marisol, Belinda "the Fosfora" and many more. Coming from the "red wedding" of dread that was The Cartel, I was pleasantly surprised to find closely guarded hope in this novel, as Keller walks face first into withering fire to save everything he fights for. I can't say enough about this one. It had the chance to stumble into parody or lose its head. I enjoyed The Force, but wasn't satisfied by its conclusion. The Border earns its ending with plenty to spare.

Back to the Oscars. Instead of decrying the Academy's choices--it's funny how Americans keep getting shocked by how conservative voters can be--I'd rather talk briefly about the movies I did like.
So instead of 88 lines about 44 women, I give you 30 lines about 15 movies. (Remember that song? It's a rather brilliant one-hit wonder by The Nails)

The Wife stars Glenn Close, the real Nobel winner
   She's sick of pretending, and guts her hubs for dinner.
In Leave No Trace Ben Foster is a vet living rough,
   His daughter is sick of woods life, and gives him some tough love.
If Beale Street Could Talk, it would break your heart.
   This old story's sadly fresh as ever, the film a work of art.
You Were Never Really Here, improves upon the novella.
    Lynne Ramsay gives the girl some agency, and she saves Joaquin-fella.
Roma packs a lot of history into its gorgeous frame,
    Cuaron breaks Mexican taboo and gives indio Yalitza Aparicio well-deserved fame.
Sorry to Bother You is too weird to get an Oscar but see it anyway.
   It spoofs office work and Amazon and will make you laugh and neigh.
BlacKKKlansman by Spike Lee tells the story of a black cop who
   Busted up a klavern, and spied on civil rights activists too.
Annihilation is the Space Odyssey of this millennium,
   It will stun you with fractal visuals and make you wonder who's the alien.
First Reformed with Ethan Hawke has a lot to say of men
   Who get obsessed with religion, and let others martyr them.
Black Panther was a blast, Wakanda bright and new
   It made me give a damn about heroes in underoos.
The Favourite is brilliant, vulgar, and full of dastardly deceits.
   The royal court is vicious both in the sheets and in the streets.
Blindspotting was overlooked, a daring tale of Oakland movers
    If gentrifiers don't get them killed, they might live to drive for uber.
Mandy you will love or hate, a living heavy metal album cover.
   Nicholas Cage chews the scenery to avenge his murdered lover.
Bird Box was better than A Quiet Place, its monsters won't get old,
  If you scare easy, you might want to watch through a blindfold.

(I have no rhythm and I don't care.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Bouchercon Anthology

I got an email the other day from Rick Ollerman, crime novelist, critic, and editor of Down & Out: The Magazine.  He wrote to me about the short story anthology he's involved in this year for Bouchercon.  For some reason, he sounded a little desperate. He asked me to help him get the word out about it, and though I doubt I'll be submitting a story to the anthology (too much else to do at the moment), I said sure to his request, why not.  

For those interested, here are the details, as Rick put them to me in his email:


I need stories for this year's anthology:
 Attention Writers and Attendees of the 50th Anniversary Bouchercon, 2019:
YES, there will be an anthology this year! And yes, you can submit a story for consideration as long as you’re a registered conference attendee! Here’s all you need to know:
  – One of Bouchercon 50’s goals is to make the largest charitable contribution in the history of the conference. All proceeds from the sale of the books will go toward that effort! LIFT, Literary Instruction For Texas, works to enhance and strengthen communities by teaching adults to read. And Bouchercon gets to help in that mission this year!
   – For a theme, think no further than the conference slogan: Denim, Diamonds, and Death!
   –  Original stories are vastly preferred. Absolutely no reprints, please.
   – Stories should be less than five thousand words. 
   –  The book itself will once again be published by the fine folks at Down & Out Books.
   –  The deadline for all stories will be June 1st.
 If you think you’ve got the story for the anthology, not just a story, please send it to We’ll have the book for sale in the book room with some signings and hopefully we’ll be able to make a meaningful contribution to LIFT as well as showcase some of the amazing talent in the Bouchercon writing community.
So let’s go, people. Bring it on!
Rick Ollerman
Editor, Down & Out: The Magazine

Monday, March 4, 2019

Stoker Nominated COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias

Monday Morning Review
COYOTE SONGS published by Broken River Books.
By Gabino Iglesias

ZERO SAINTS is the first full length novel by Gabino Iglesias. It is a chilling, heart-stopping read. It's unique and philosophical. It elevates the reader and at the same time it was emotionally exhausting. I felt as though I needed a break after reading. Needless to say, I impatiently waited for Gabino's latest book.

COYOTE SONGS is more than a novel. It’s an education. It is a touching, terrifying portrait of life on the border and in the barrio.

Fearless author Gabino Iglesias uses his words as a knife, cutting open and separating the delicate flesh of the American dream, exposing the bloody insides. COYOTE SONGS features connected, though separate, stories showing the harsh, often violent, immigrant experience and heartbreakingly portrays the fragile, imperiled cultural character of the individuals we meet.

Gabino is able to paint the violence and brutality with strokes of touching prose and poetry, making the undeniable sadness easier to swallow. His delicate way with words helps the reader to fully digest the tales. 

He is a shapeshifter, fluidly fluctuating between Spanish and English in this killer tale and playing with a host of genres. Horror. Crime. Noir. Bizzaro. He flexes his mastery over a multitude of narratives and remains genuine and unapologetic throughout.

In COYOTE SONGS we meet…

  • Pedrito a young boy raised by his hardworking father, whose only hope is to find a better life for his son. But, Pedrito witnesses a tragedy that will tear his life to pieces and set him on a strange and dangerous course.

  • The Mother, a young woman heavy with child missing her husband and knowing he has met a violent end. As the baby grows inside her so does the fear.

  • Alma, a smart and angry young woman living in Texas, believes she'll see success as an artist, until she faces the realization that she's little more than a puppet for the rich and entitled whites. 

  • The soulful coyote runs the hopeful across the border because he sees it as his mission. We do not learn his name, but we only need understand his job - he is the coyote. He is the loyal and brutal servant of La Virgencita, and he is saving the children by helping them flee into America, the land of opportunity.

  • There is the spirit of Inmaculada, a mother waiting in the dry and dying desert, searching for revenge.

Each character presents a different story, a different understanding. Each character opens your eyes just a little more.

There is so much to appreciate and discover in Gabino’s latest release, COYOTE SONGS. It will move you. This book will make you angry and sad. COYOTE SONGS is a deep dive into the reality of life along the border. Gabino Iglesias leads us through a crime story, horror and science-fiction. All the words and emotions converging and making for a highly impactful tale.

Gabino, a man who writes as if he’s trying to save the world, uses beautiful words to tell an ugly story and, like me, you will never look at the world around you the same way. I hope you read this novel and let it get under your skin. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Review: The New Book Every Writer Needs

I am a word geek. A well-turned phrase makes my heart sing. But so does a well-placed comma. And the two hyphens I just used, for that matter.
My husband knows this about me (and loves me anyway), so he knew the perfect thing to get me for Valentine’s Day this year. Dreyer’s English. It’s a new book by Benjamin Dreyer, the copy chief of Random House Publishers. And it dives (splashingly, gleefully) into the minutiae of word choice, punctuation, abbreviations and grammar.
Right now, I’ll bet half of you are running to order it, and the other half of you are running for the hills while screaming in horror. Bear with me.
Dreyer is funny and witty throughout the book and doesn’t take grammatical rules too seriously. “. . . just because I think something is good and proper and nifty you don’t necessarily have to.”
He shrugs off time-worn gospel like never starting a sentence with “and” or “but,” never ending it with a preposition and never splitting an infinitive. Most novelists ignore these anyway, but it’s nice to have someone of Dreyer’s expertise agree with us. Those rules are nonsense, he says, even though if you violate them “. . .  you’ll have a certain percentage of the reading and online commenting populace up your fundament to tell you you’re subliterate. Go ahead and break them away. It’s fun, and I’ll back you up.”
The whole thing is written in this same playful voice, and has some of the most entertaining footnotes I’ve ever read. Here’s one that enlivens the entry telling you that straitjacket is one word:
“The title of the 1964 Joan Crawford axe-murderess thriller—which you really ought to see, it’s the damnedest thing—is Strait-Jacket. (The generally preferred American spelling is “ax.” But I’d much rather be an axe-murderess than an ax-murderess. You?)”
We disagree on a few things. He likes the series comma (It’s also called the Oxford comma and is the one that comes after the second-to-last item in a list. If I agreed with him, there’d be one after “abbreviations” in the sentence above. As you can see, I don’t. It’s the journalist in me; an Oxford comma is a waste of a space in a newspaper column.)
I do agree with him on many items (please, please don’t use an apostrophe when you just need to make a name into a plural). And I even learned a few things, including several new words. My favorite is “crotchet.” Like crotchety, but a noun. I’d never heard it before. Now I use it all the time.
Many of the things he covers are easily transferable from fiction to non-fiction and journalism. But since his expertise is copyediting novels, he does have a few things to say that are specific to our little corner of the writing world. Consistency is a big one. Your characters should have the same eye color all the way through the book. I know I’ve been saved by copy editors many times on this front. And I’m still grateful.
A reference of fundamental guidelines is a good thing for everyone to have. But, as Dreyer rightly points out, the English language is also always changing, and you should roll with it and have a little fun, too. This book is a great way to do that.