Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PIG by Sarah Beth Martin (sbr martin)


About the Book:

Enough is enough! What does it take for a troubled woman to finally let go? SBR Martin's second novel, "Pig," answers this question by bringing dark topics to light in an unnerving, yet inspiring, story of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss.

- - - -

Her name is Lily, but she's gone by different names over the years - Lilith, Mom, Flower, and Pig, to name but a few.

She's sitting alone on a couch in the corner of a crowded funeral home, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper in her right hand. She's avoiding contact with those around her, keeping to herself, because she holds more than that scrap of paper - she holds a lot of secrets, including one she's keeping from herself.

In the other room, which she dare not enter, a man lies in a closed casket. That man is her husband. Only she knows how he got there, and only the telling of her story can tell his.

As Lily guards her secrets on the couch in the corner, the familiar faces of funeral home patrons stir a lifetime of memories, a collection of past events brought to pass before her eyes.

How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily's past to answer the present questions. But don't expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren't meant to have happy endings.

About the Author:

Sarah Beth (Rem) Martin, penname sbr martin, was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to live and work as a writer, journalist, and mother.
Martin is an alumna of The Ellis School, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Her writing has received recognition through awards, invitation to the New York Conference on College Composition and Communication, and citations in scholastic works and legal texts. Her journalism experience includes projects with AOL's Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

Described as "a psychological and thoughtful novel of suspense" by Midwest Book Review, Martin's first novel, "in wake of water," was published in Oct. 2011. Less than a year later, her second work, "pig," hit the market after being honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Guest Post by Sarah Martin

Juggling Genres in the Modern Market

I had a little extra cash in my pocket the other day, so I stopped at a used bookstore to search for a few titles I’ve been meaning to read for some time. First on my list was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig.

Tiny wire basket in hand, I waltzed over to the Psychology section, where I found everything but Zen. So I moved on to Metaphysics, where my crisis was not resolved. I turned to the Self-Help section. No help there! The plot continued to thicken in the Fiction/Literature aisles.
As a last resort, I decided to look in the Eastern Studies section. Lo and Behold, there sat a tattered copy of Pirsig’s acclaimed work! I’d found it at last. The hunt was over, and I was relieved.

Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and shake my head in a gesture caught somewhere between disbelief and defeat. I’ve never read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but even I knew that it was no more about “Zen” than it was about “Motorcycle Maintenance.” 
Obviously, a quick-handed agent of the bibliopole had improperly shelved the book based on a cursory glimpse of the title alone.

Next on my list was “Son of a Witch,” Gregory Maguire’s follow-up to his novel-made-musical, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” I scanned the Fiction/Literature section of the store, since, without question, Maguire’s work has already risen to more than pulp status.

Not surprised to not find it there, I eyed the Paperback Fiction section, in case someone didn’t hold Maguire in as high esteem as did I. Greggy-boy wasn’t there; nor was he in the Witchcraft section, where I thought the same quick-handed agent might have mistakenly filed him away.
I eventually found “Son of a Witch” in the Mythology/Folklore section, along with the other books in Maguire’s “Wicked” series. Mythology/Folklore? Really?!?

I’d had enough. I was mentally exhausted by the entire ordeal. I ended my search in the physical world, deciding to purchase what books I had in hand and search for the others online.
Driving home from the bookstore, I was fuming mad. Was there something wrong with that God-forsaken, over-glorified bookrack? Worse yet, was there something wrong with me? Had they put certain books in the wrong sections, or had I looked in the wrong sections for certain books? Was this laziness or miseducation on what categorizes what?

And this wasn’t the first time I’d contemplated the complexities of classification. I’d thought over them only a couple months earlier—not as a reader of books, but as the writer of my most recent release, “pig.”

"Pig" is the story of Lily, a woman holding on to too much pain and too many secrets, including a big secret she's keeping from herself. The entire novel takes place at her husband's funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal.

The narrative comes from Lily's memories, as stirred by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons. Domestic abuse, graphic sex, and devastating loss are but a few of the past events reawakened by Lily's reflections—as are love, mothering, and redemption.

“Pig” taunts its reader with psychological suspense, leaving him turning e-page after e-page to find out how Lily’s husband got in that box, what she’s holding in her hand, and, ultimately, what it takes for a troubled woman to finally let go. Stepping into Lily's past to answer the present questions, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster ride of plot twists and narrative turns where he is shaken, unsettled, and reminded that some stories just aren't meant to have happy endings.

So… what kind of book does this sound like to you? Of course, I hope you’ll say it sounds like a good book, but we both know that’s not what I mean. What I’m asking is: How would you classify this book into an existing genre?

Our friends at the used bookseller would, I assume, have an easy time with this one. Unless they tossed it into the Agriculture section because the title is “pig,” they’d likely place it in the Fiction New Releases portion of the store when it first came out, maybe amidst the Paperback Fiction collection if it had a soft spine.

I’d love for it to be shelved in the Fiction/Literature stacks, as it definitely is Fiction and I can only hope that it is one day regarded as true Literature.

But the mere placement of my book on a physical shelf was not the issue I faced some months ago, and not just because my book is currently available exclusively in digital format. The issue I faced was tossing it alongside other reads on a digital shelf. I wondered: Into which of the dozens of existing genres should I classify my work?

My question was only further confounded by certain facts: (1) any business-minded person knows that cross-categorizing a product increases its exposure, in turn, optimizing sales; and, (2) Amazon gives you the option of listing your book in as many as three different categories.

Three! One would think it would be easier to place a work into three categories than to place it into one. But it’s not.

Amazon’s Literature & Fiction tab seemed to be an obvious choice for my novel, though that one choice burdened me to make other choices. On the site, there are 20 subgenres listed under the Literature & Fiction genre, some of which continue to splinter off into sub-subgenres and the suchlike.

The Mystery, Thriller & Suspense tab may seem unintimidating at first, as it has only four second-tier subgenres. But don’t be fooled—those four spider-web out, out, and out some more.

Between these two top-level genres, there were quite a few subcategories into which I could have placed “pig,” and a couple more above them that would’ve worked too. But there was, and is, no one, two, or three that fit my title to a T.

Psychological Thriller. Suspense. Tales of Intrigue. These are subgenres that also describe the thoughts that raced through my head when listing my book.

There’s a little Romance in “pig,” some Gay & Lesbian themes, perhaps a little Erotica in the right light. The protagonist is a female who suffers and finds salvation in her own way—this is the stuff of Women’s Fiction, no?

The boozing, violence, and crime could cast it as an Urban Life yarn, while the matters of marriage and motherhood could make it a Family Saga. It ain’t what the Greeks would consider a Tragedy, though it’s pretty damn tragic at times—maybe Drama would be a good match?

It’s set in Pittsburgh, PA, and there are references to Las Vegas. I could label it United States, right? I can’t call it British, since the English accent of a main character is faked, which is kinda funny if you think about it. Is this enough to make it a Humor tome?

I’m sure you get my point by now. Even for we who create what is read, the task of genre selection is an arduous one, made even more daunting by the fact that where we place our books determines who sees, reads, and embraces them.

I understand that Amazon’s genre breakdown is designed to make the shopping experience easier for consumers, but the leveling structure is somewhat complex and makes it easiest only for the reader who already has a very clear picture of what she wants to find.

To make matters worse, we must remember that Amazon, albeit the biggest commercial vendor in the universe, is not the only site or system out there that categorizes writers’ works. Shifts and changes in the literary world are creating new genres and subgenres at an alarming pace, resulting in a mass market with no uniform system of classifying the written word.

Not that a uniform system would help all that much anyway, considering the quick hands of the bookstore employee mentioned above, and, considering the fact that I may think my book is an apple while my reader very much considers it an orange.

Ah yes, the readers! How could I market my book to catch the most readers and/or get the most reviews? I don’t want anyone inadvertently being repelled by, or even attracted to, my writing because it was mislabeled along an already blurred line.

If I list this book as Erotica, would conservatives give it a cold shoulder? Would I lose male readers if I tag it Women’s Fiction? Are folks blistering on the Bible Belt gonna run for the hills if I brand it Gay & Lesbian?

This reviewer reads only Romance, and that fellow won’t look at anything but Genre Fiction. Ms. So-and-So likes Dystopia, whatever that is. A famous Harvard professor has a one-palate taste for “Contemporary Fiction,” but isn’t anything that’s written today “contemporary” by definition? Whom, if any, of these reviewers should I query? And what should I put in, or leave out of, my pitch?

Should I even care about any of this jazz?

Well, if I want my book to sell, I’m gonna have to. There’s no other way, really. I have to call it something, even if there was never any something I intended it to be called.

When I sit down to write, I have only one goal: to write a good book. My style of writing is marked by the fusion of traditional, as well as new, genres. Without following any recipe(s), I take a little of this and a little of that to create an unforgettable read. I don’t avoid things like adult content for fear of rejection. I don’t add a character or plot element just to make my work qualify as A, B, or C.

So, as I write with no particular genre in mind, it’s not too big a shock that a particular genre is hard for me to find. Nonetheless, juggling genres has become a personal pet peeve. For very practical reasons, I still find myself second-guessing the genres I eventually selected and asking my self, “What the Hell Did I Just Write?”

Think you can answer that one? Take a gander at “pig” and let me know what you think.

“Pig” is available for purchase on Amazon at

For a daily slice of “pig,” visit

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at and likeable on Facebook at

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—

 I will be reviewing PIG at a later date. Be sure to follow my blog to be updated on future reviews and giveaways!

PIG can be purchased on Amazon. It is available in ebook here:

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