Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why I started writing

I was doing something today that got me thinking about when and why I started writing.  I needed to supply an answer to that question for someone who was reading (and possibly reviewing) my novel.  Sitting there, all I could think was, "Well, gee, I can't remember when I didn't do it!"

So I started asking my frieditors when they noticed I was writing; one of them surprised me that she knew I did it in high school.  Lectures were often the low point of my day, but I was always diligently writing something at the back of the class...notes or not, no one was the wiser.  I personally know that this behavior had gone on long before high school; I still have notebooks from middle and elementary school with drawings and short stories throughout.  However, she made an interesting point: I started writing to escape boring classes, and later, homework.  Then, I realized that the stories could help me vacation (however briefly) from all kinds of reality, and it was all downhill from there.

This got me thinking about how people talk about the figurative "starving artist;" if others like me are writing because they lack something in their life.  It could be anything, from interest in the person at the front of the room to companionship or even material wealth.  The want for something drives the need to write, out of passion or boredom.

So then, what becomes of it when the "starvation" ends?

I suppose the writing would end, although I don't think "starvation" ever does end for some writers.  You write, and then you publish, and if you're like me, more homework comes along...but this time, it's in the form of editing, promotion, and more editing.

Writing to escape homework, leads to more homework...what cruel irony is this?  ;)


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Complete Set

Well, here it is!  The final book in the Waldgrave series is nearly available in paperback.  I will probably be making some minor adjustments to the cover before it goes on sale, but having the proof in my hands was a big moment for me.

This is it.  The series now sits together on shelf in my house.

It's the first book series I ever shared on a quasi-grand scale with family and friends (okay...I shared the book, or sections of it, with four close friends initially).  When I started publishing, I let a few more people in, and then I told my grandmother; she lives across the street from me, and we've shared some great books and movies over the years--I knew it would be wrong to publish something without telling her.

And when I told her, she asked me, "How long have your parents  known?"

Then, I had to sheepishly admit that I hadn't told anyone else in my family.  I don't know if I was afraid of them actually reading the books, or if it was just one of those introvert moments where you don't want to brag on your accomplishment because you don't want the attention.  

And my grandmother looked at me, very seriously, and told me that this was the kind of thing parents wanted to know; they would stick it to the fridge with a magnet if they could.  

So I went home (back across the street, as it were) and I composed an overly long and dramatic email, coming out of the Author Closet to my parents.  And as they are my parents, they weren't surprised; they pretty much already knew this was going to happen some day.  I kindly asked them to only share on a need-to-know basis, and my mom asked me to get a copy of my book for her and for her to send to her mother.  (Incidentally, I think I got the "secretly write a book series and don't tell anyone" gene from her; she decided to honor my request by sending Arrival of the Traveler to her mother without sending a note attached.  My grandmother was also not surprised.)  

I went on to tell my siblings; I still have extended family I haven't told.  I figure I'll tell them if the book ever becomes wildly successful, but until then, it's been a fun personal project.  :)

As I sat there this afternoon, compulsively taking pictures of my almost completed first series as a writer, I couldn't help but think of when I first sat down to write these books.  It was years ago in a studio apartment I had during my undergraduate years, sitting on a blue couch my mom had found at a garage sale, probably watching whatever was on one of the two non-static channels I got on my television.  Probably eating a microwave burrito and avoiding the essay I needed to write for my Japanese Lit class.  

It's been quite a journey.  Thank you all for joining me.  

Onward to the next great adventure,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Secrets of the Guardian, Paperback Cover

It's taken me a few shots to get this one right, but here it is so far.  Hopefully it will be available by the end of the month!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Importance of Being Recommended

Recently, I've spent some time contemplating the importance of book reviews.  In the traditional sense, new authors know they need reviews in the online storefronts to give their works a reference point of credibility to readers.  I have read articles about how having a few "bad apples" in the bunch (i.e., negative reviews from readers who didn't click with your book) lend credibility to the reviews themselves.

However, these aren't the reasons I have been thinking about reviews.  What I have been thinking about is the reason why reviews count for so much.  The truth is that books don't just need storefront star ratings and composed reviews; they need your spoken reviews, too.  The spoken reviews--your recommendations to your friends and family--are what existed before ebooks and online reviews.  I believe that the personal nature of reading for pleasure means that the people who know you best, and who you know best, carry more weight where a book recommendation is concerned.

This may not always be true.  Sometimes, you like reading a certain type of book, and for reasons of personal privacy, maybe you don't talk about it a lot.  I have a very close friend who is a fan of romance novels, and some bordering on erotica.  (Due to the awkward factor, you can bet she doesn't go around talking about her latest read with just anyone, even though many people enjoy these types of novels.)  I happen to enjoy reading some O'Reilly technology books, but I don't generally talk about this with my reader friends because the subject rarely comes up; by the same token, many of my techie programmer friends may not be interested in my latest find in paranormal romance.  I can talk science fiction with my dad, and young adult with my grandmother, and popular fiction with my mom, but crossover doesn't always happen.

...And this reason, the protection of your personal privacy, is where online reviews can shine.  You may not have someone you can tell about that great book you just read, but certainly anyone else shopping this genre would love to hear your thoughts.  You can go on and on about how hot the male lead is from the privacy of your own home, and there's nothing embarrassing about it--there are probably many other readers out there who feel the same way, and no one you know ever has to know it was you.  

This brings me to an interesting point about reviews, though, and that's the fact that people hardly ever review books they read (book bloggers and review bloggers excepted, of course!).  I have friends who have read my books, loved them, and never posted even an anonymous review online.  Why?  Most of them just don't make a habit of doing it for any book.  They feel they need to set aside some time to do it right, and never get around to it.  (And I have to do what right?  To say, "I give this book 3 stars; the plot was awesome and I will be getting the next book, but it didn't live up to the hype and I was distracted by weird word choices"?  It's a review--not a novel, lol!)  

Of the books they had reviewed, most of them they had either loved, hated, or been disappointed by.  It took a strong emotional response--five stars or one--to get the "sit down and share" reaction, and the "good", "okay", and "okay, but not my thing" were left to oblivion.

For all of these reasons, I would like to ask anyone who has read my book to please review it.  If you are bold, or have friends who share common taste, tell them what you thought.  If you are especially outgoing or confident, post it to the social network of your choice!  If you are shy, or don't know anyone directly who reads the same kind of stuff, go online and post what you thought at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or wherever you got my book from.  

If not for my book (which I heartily recommend that you read and review!), do it for another book that you haven't reviewed yet.  I promise you, somewhere, you're making the author very happy by doing so.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paperback Edition, Oh My!

I woke up today to the unpleasant memory that I had made a promise to my grandmother (one of my biggest fans) that I would have the paperback of Secrets of the Guardian out by the end of May.  That means I need to jump on it and have the book formatted and ready to go in the next two weeks, likely, and that means that I will need to drop my other project for a while.

Tonight, I have my niece's birthday, and tomorrow, my sister's graduation.

Other demands are adding up, and I'm no longer sure if Redemption will be ready by the end of June; I may be shifting the timeline on that one to "sometime this summer."  It's looking like it's a long book...unless I decide to split in, in which case it's 2 books.  Either way, I want it to be ready when I put it out for everyone to read.  If it turns out to be a shorter first volume, at least the second book will be available sooner because I will have already edited it.  :)