Monday, December 25, 2023

Week #52 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #52 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, 1957

On Christmas Eve, the Grinch, a cranky, solitary creature, works to “stop Christmas from coming” by stealing Christmas gifts, food,  and decorations from the homes of the nearby town of Whoville. The story criticizes the commercialization of Christmas.!

The original Grinch TV special from 1966, Grinch voiced by Boris Karloff

Jim Carrey as the Grinch in 2000, directed by Ron Howard

Best Christmas movies of all time

What's your favorite Christmas story? Tell us in the comments!

Curious about what we're doing in 2024 on Mondays? Come back next week to find out!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Happy Holidays from O'Abby


I just wanted to wish you all the very best for the holiday season.  O'Abby has loved answering all your questions this year and I look forward to continuing to do so in the New Year.

For the next couple of weeks I will be on vacation, so there will be no O'Abby column until after 8 January while I relax, soak up the sun (O'Abby lives in the Southern Hemisphere so it's summer here) and read books is this beautiful spot.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Week #51 – The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #51 – The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1902

In London, Dr. James Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes to assist with the legend of a curse that has run in the Baskerville family for generations. Sir Hugo Baskerville kidnapped a farmer's daughter. When she escaped, Hugo made a deal with the devil and pursued her. Hugo's friends found the girl dead of fear and Hugo killed by a demonic hound, which has haunted Dartmoor ever since and caused the death of many Baskerville heirs.

You can read it here

It was made into several movies, the most famous one in 1939

The complete works of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The “hound” is a mixed breed, part mastiff and part bloodhound. The dog's jaws are covered in phosphorus so they appear to glow.


Baskerville is a font style

Baskerville is a dog muzzle

Sherlock Holmes fan page

Have you read any Sherlock Holmes original stories? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Dear O'Abby: What's going on?

 Dear O'Abby,

I saw some stuff online earlier this week about an author who was in trouble for something she'd done on Goodreads?  I never caught the author's name or got the full story about what they did wrong, so I'm wondering what that was all about.  

Do you know?

Kind regards,


Dear Curious,

Yes, there was a big blow up on social media earlier in the week when it was discovered that an author had set up a bunch of fake Goodreads accounts and used them to boost her own book.  But even worse, she used these accounts to also trash other people's books, authors she saw as her competition.

Don't do this.

I know there are a lot of books out there and only a finite number of readers, but being dishonest and actively sabotaging other authors is not the way to get seen. Other authors are not the enemy.  Other authors are your community and for the most part, they've got your back.  I've found that the writing community is very welcoming, extremely generous with their time, and very willing to share the things they've learned along the way.

Don't repay this by stabbing the people who helped you in the back.

This particular author has apologised, but to me it feels too late.  She only did it after she got caught.  And after she set up another fake account to try and blame the whole mess on an "acquaintance".  And sure, more people know her name now, but I don't think that's going to help her book or her writing career.

Writing isn't a competition and there isn't a winner.  I know it sometimes feels that way, especially with publishing houses often doing little to no publicity and leaving all the work of getting readers' attention to the author.  But this isn't the kind of attention you want.  Make sure people are talking about you and your book because it's a great story, well written, not because of your appalling online behaviour.

So that's what happened.  Make sure you learn from her mistake.

X O'Abby


Monday, December 11, 2023

Week #50 – Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #50 – Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, 1726

Gulliver's Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships is a satire, a parody of the popular travel novel. It mocks English customs and the politics of the day. Gulliver has four adventures, (1) he travels to Lilliput where the inhabitants are only 6” tall, (2) he travels to Brobdingnag where the inhabitants are giants, (3) he travels to Laputa where the inhabitants have great learning but no practical application, and (4) he travels to the land of the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent horses who are more rational and communal than the humanoid race called Yahoos.

You can read it here

It was made into a movie in 1939

And in 1977

And a TV mini-series in 1996

And another movie in 2010 with Jack Black

Other stories featuring small people are The Borrowers, Horton Hears a Who, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Other stories featuring giants are David and Goliath, Jack and the Beanstalk, Harry Poter, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Have you read Gulliver's Travels or any other book with small people or giants? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Dear O'Abby: Does this contract clause sound okay to you?

 Dear O'Abby,

A small press has accepted my novel for publication!  I was over the moon to finally be on my way with the writing career I've dreamed about since I was a little kid. But then the contract arrived and now I'm not so sure.

Most of the contract looks pretty standard and nothing stood out to me as being a red flag.  Until I reached the termination clause and found that should I wish to terminate my contract with the publisher, they will charge me a termination fee.  Plus, they will charge me for any editing, cover design, formatting and marketing they have done to date.  And any other "title-related costs".

Is this standard in publishing contracts?  Or is it something I should be wary of and run as far as I can from this publisher?  I'm obviously not planning to terminate my contract early, but you never know what might happen in the future...

Kind regards,

Future Uncertain

Dear Future Uncertain,

A termination fee is not always a red flag.  Sure, it's hard on an author who wants out of their contract, but if a publisher does a good job publishing a book and invests time, money and effort into editing, design and marketing, they probably do have a right to try and make some of that cost back if an author decides to walk before the book has earned back the cost of producing it.

Where termination clauses cause issues, is when publishers use them as a tool to punish authors, or to hold them in house even when they are unhappy with the way the publisher has handled their book(s).  And to me, that very vague "title-related costs" does sound somewhat ominous.  Unless a publisher can outline exactly what costs you will you will be liable for, I'd be uncomfortable.

Ideally a publisher will work with an author if they are unhappy and try to resolve any issues without invoking a termination clause.  Generally speaking, if the contract period is for a reasonable length of time, a clause stating an author can terminate after a certain period is more fair in that it gives the author a way out, yet also gives the publisher time to earn back some of the money they spent on producing the book.  Do check that part of the contract too - a life-of-copyright contract with no clause to terminate once sales drop below a certain level is also a big red flag.

I'm not a lawyer or an expert in publishing contract language, so I would suggest getting someone with real experience in this area to look over the contract if you're worried.  I know it will cost you some money, but potentially less than if you get caught in a bad contract you may want to get out of later.

And for some more information, here's an article I found about publishing contracts and clauses to look out for.  Please check to make sure your contract doesn't have any of these clauses as well. 

Best of luck!  I really hope this isn't a bad contract and that your publishing dreams will come true.

X O'Abby

Monday, December 4, 2023

Week #49 – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #49 – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, 1899

Sailor Charles Marlow, captain of a river steamboat for a Belgian ivory trade company, journeys up the Congo River to meet Kurtz, an ivory trader. Marlow encounters inefficiency and brutality in the Company’s stations. The native Africans have been forced into the Company’s service and exploited.

You can read it here

Here's a fun animated summary

The movie Apocalypse Now was influenced by this book, with the setting moved to during the Vietnam War

The book would be considered racist if written today

There are two countries in Africa called “Congo”, separated by the Congo River. They are called the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the east side and the Republic of the Congo on the west side.

What's the difference between them?

DR Congo is the second-poorest nation in the world, after Haiti

Have you read Heart of Darkness? What did you think of it?