Friday, April 24, 2009

Worship at the Temple of Reading

I come from a family of readers.  When my sister and I were little, the treat of visiting our grandma was the promise of being read to.  She had such an expressive and soothing voice, and no matter how many times we'd heard it, she read Howdy Doody's Animal Friends (I know, OLD book) as much as we wanted her to.  That book, a Little Golden Book, was so impressed upon us, that my sister went so far as to spend a little chunk of change on a copy she found on Ebay. This same grandma also made sure that we had a library card at all times.  She's 98 years old, and she still reads like a fiend.

But, like I said, I come from a family of readers.  My aunt has stacks of books around her house and the dream room she'd like built on to her house is her own library.  My mom reads just as much.  Growing up, she always had a book sitting on the end table beside her chair.  And even though I'd been raised on books, by around middle school I'd lost the desire to read altogether. 

I'd like to attribute it to hormones or my age or the fact that 'cool' kids didn't read, but that's not true.  I just fell out of love with reading.  I faked my way through book reports, watched movie adaptations... anything to get out of actually reading.  The one - and only - book that I read cover to cover in high school was Dean Koontz's Lightning.  Good Book.  

Then my life changed.  BANG!  Let me digress and say that I met my husband when we were in high school.  He graduated and joined the Navy.  But, we were still together and I got pregnant. Oooh, scandalous.  Well, it happened.  My daughter was born just before my Junior year.  I took a year off of school to be with her, but finished my last two years in one year and managed to graduate with my class.

During that year off, I fell back in love with reading.  I was kind of in a social limbo; my friends couldn't relate, older mothers couldn't relate.  I was on my own.  But I had books.  I read, and read, and read and read some more.  And that renewed love of reading sparked my love of writing.  Even now if I'm not pounding away at my keyboard, I've got my nose buried in a book. And as my children could attest, the one item they are never denied no matter what, is a book. 

Reading is so central to my life that my husband almost won't watch any movies with me that have been adapted from books I've read.  I gripe and complain and whine the whole time.  The book is better!  No Hollywood sparkle can create on the screen what your mind can paint. Writers painstakingly construct an alternate world so vivid that you can't help but loose yourself in the pages.  We laugh, we cry, we love and hate.  We root for the underdog and curse the villain.  When we come to the last page, we grieve that the story is over.  

Maybe someday my kids will worship at the temple of reading like I do, driving their spouses and kids just a little crazy. ;)  And I can only hope that my writing will someday do justice to all of the writers that have meant so much to me.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Resistance is Futile

Thanks to QueryTracker, I have yet again succumbed to the collective and joined another social networking site. Yes, I'm talking about the phenomenon that is Twitter (  

The blog post at is a great one.  It features an interview with Steve Weber who wrote Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors.  Its really a great interview.  He sings the praises of networking sites and I am quickly turning in to a believer.

And what do I have to say about Twitter, now that I've bit the bullet and joined?  Cooool. Twitter, where have you been all my life?!?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

People Pleasing

I am a people pleaser.  Period.  If I can't make all of the people happy all of the time, I go insane and usually go to extremes to fix what I probably couldn't do anything about anyway.  If someone doesn't like me, or something I did, I stew over it for hours.  Even if I don't know the person and even if I don't really like the person.  As a writer, I feel that this personality flaw makes an already uphill climb that much steeper.

I have the first four chapters of my novel posted on a web site for writers and readers who take a look at your work, offer critiques, and if they like it, place it on a virtual bookshelf.  All of this earns you a points standing that's supposed to get you the chance to receive an editorial review, but I've yet to see the benefit pay off for more than a couple of people out of literally thousands.

When I first posted the chapters a few months ago, I got some pretty harsh criticism.  Double ouch!  But-- I took the advice to heart and learned a lot.  I made several revisions and cuts making the end product MUCH BETTER. Since then, most of my critiques have been fairly sugar coated, giving me a needed self-esteem boost and something to smile about.

Last night, my bubble was burst.  The writer that critiqued me offered not much more than a couple of sentences that amounted to:  'Your first chapter is boring and you're never going to hook a reader.'  Well, being that I'm a moody, broody writer with a lot of angst, I snapped into depression mode faster than you can say Anne Rice.  I have a full submission of my MS out right now so you can imagine how I began to panic and second-guess myself.  Even the positive feedback that I'd received wasn't doing anything for me.  Those people who loved my first chapter had to have been lying.  Maybe they didn't even actually read it?  Maybe they just wanted me to give a reciprocal read?  Argh!  I suck!

After my personal pity party (that thankfully no one was home to see) rational thoughts began to resurface.  One, the reviewer was not my target audience. Two, I HAVE had a lot of positive feedback and there's no reason to believe that a perfect stranger would have any reason to lie. Three, YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE!

There are going to be people that don't like my writing.  That's a fact.  But there are going to be people who love it.  That's a fact.  And as for my submission, well it could go either way, but I'm not going to second guess myself.  I may rack up another rejection, I may get feedback with a request to revise and resubmit.  Or... I may get an offer for representation.  

And even though I'd love to be liked by everyone, I know that I won't be.  And to my people pleasing mind, that may be hard to swallow, but I can't get down every time someone gives me less than shining feedback.  I'll just dust off my ego and smile.  You might not like me, but that's okay.  I like my writing and there are others out there that like it too.  And that's enough.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Out With the Old

Thanks to my friend Elana Johnson, I have overcome yet another obstacle in the cyber world. A new layout seemed appropriate since I'm jumping into the internet waters head first with my Facebook, MySpace, Rallystorm, Blogger, and QueryTracker memberships.  And now, thanks to much media buzz, I may have to succumb to peer pressure and join Twitter as well.  (I'm not even going mention critique groups.)  Yikes, when am I ever going to have time to write with all of these little side projects?

Branding is hard work!  The wonderful writers at the QT Blog planted this idea of branding in my head and because of that I've made some great friends and learned more than I thought possible, just from a little networking.  So, let me know what you think of the new layout. I'll probably have just enough time to get used to it before I tackle the Mt. Everest that is: The Website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's like... American Idol

I've noticed lately that whenever I watch American Idol (call me a nerd if you want) that I'm a lot more nervous for the contestants than I used to be. Weird. Every squeak, every flat or sharp note makes me cringe in horror and when the nervous looking contestant lowers the mic and awaits the judges critiques with their big soft puppy dog eyes... I feel like I'm going to throw up.

Why?  Because I finally identify with them!  Every query is an audition and every rejection letter a crushing blow to my ego.  Am I like the girl on the audition show who howls her rendition of "I Will Always Love You" only to be told she sings like a hound dog?  And even worse, am I that same contestant that says into the camera, "I can sing!  My family says I sound just like Whitney Houston!"

I actually touched on this one night when I turned to my husband and said, "I feel like an American Idol contestant."  He gave me a really strange look and without a word turned back to the TV.  Okay, maybe he couldn't relate, but I'm sure that all of my comrades in arms (or pens as it were) can.

As the season moved past the audition rounds and further on into the actual competition my spirits boosted as I made another connection.  I've had a few requests for submissions, so isn't that the equivalent of making it to 'The Big Stage'?  In my mind, it kind of does.  My query letter is my audition and if an agent wants to see more, it means I've advanced to the next round of the competition.  Granted, I don't have the yellow piece of paper to show for it, but I do have a to-the-point e-mail asking for more.  And when I receive a rejection stating that 'the narrative just didn't speak to me', isn't it like Paula saying 'the song choice just wasn't great this week.'?

So, I pick a new song (query) polish up my vocals (manuscript) and set out for the next week and my next opportunity to blow the judges away.  American Idol will never be 'just a talent show' to me EVER again.