I’m Keeping it to Myself

Pray for me people, quite possibly I’ve angered the Facebook Gods. I know, I know, this is serious business. I mean Facebook, right?

Secret messages have been turning up in my inbox— friends who have updated their status, uploaded photos, invited me to “like” pages. It’s a conspiracy of sorts, a cleverly devised plan to lure me back. I’ve been ignoring them all, closing my eyes and shutting it all out. Delete…delete…delete… I’ve been sending these Facebook messages into oblivion.

These days, I’m taking a bit of a Facation— a little break from Facebook if you will— because I sometimes find it a bit intruding. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook (kind of) and keeping up with my family and friends, but it’s far too easy to pop on for what you think will be a few minutes but ends up being much more. When that nosy factor kicks in I sometimes can’t help myself!

I was going to mention in a status update my intention to take a bit of a break but kept putting it off. I thought I’d let others know that I’d probably still update my author page but  they shouldn’t use Facebook as a way to contact me if something needed a timely reply. I thought it would be the polite thing to do, but I didn’t get around to it and so I didn’t start my intended break. Hey, I can procrastinate with the best of them!  But sometimes procrastination gives us time to reflect, a time to rethink our intentions. And low and behold, a few days ago someone’s status update had to do with this very same subject. Cool, right? Hmmm, maybe not.

To paraphrase the status it was something along this line: If you’re going to take a break from Facebook just do it. Don’t bother announcing it because no one really cares.

Oops! For a second I thought they had read my mind! But no, it was just my social media insecurities getting the best of me. Needless to say I didn’t bother to mention my intended break. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if people really do feel this way or if this was just one person’s opinion. I have often read status updates, especially from other authors, letting us know they were taking a break but I didn’t find it upsetting in the least. I actually thought it was a smart idea, not only the break but letting others know.

One of my beefs about Facebook lately, has been the sponsored ads that keep coming up into my news feed from people and companies I’ve never heard of.  Also the fact that some people really show a lack of caring. I don’t particularly like to read negative status updates. But they’re there. Disgruntled people with gripes galore. While I do understand that people are sometimes frustrated by life, and the behaviour of others, I don’t feel as though Facebook is the right forum to discuss that frustration. However, it’s their prerogative. Luckily, I have no one on my friends list who are downright belligerent. I might be forced to eliminate them from my list if that were the case. And no one likes to be eliminated. Anyway, I’m planning to make myself scarce from FB for the next little while, not being dramatic or anything, but I’d really like to spend more time blogging. Oh yeah, and writing. I am a writer, right? Two books and about forty + short stories says I am so who am I to argue? At least not today. Maybe I’ll keep that argument for another day!

Do you take breaks from social media from time to time? Do you agree with my FB friend that you should keep your intended break to yourself and simply disappear? Do you think it’s a matter of courtesy to let your friends and followers know that you’re not simply ignoring them?

It’s an Illusion

I recently read “An Illusion of Trust,” by Linda Cassidy Lewis. Check out her site HERE.I won the ebook in a promotional contest Linda had when her book first came out. I was thrilled! I’d read her first book, “The Brevity of Roses,” and wondered what had happened to some of the characters. FYI— “An Illusion of Trust” is the sequel.

ait_welcome_14When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life in a California coastal town. Now, with a sexy, adoring, wealthy husband, one beautiful baby and another on the way, Renee dares to believe happily ever after could be her future. But doors don’t always stay locked. As the stress of living in Jalal’s high-society world increases, the traumas of Renee’s past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures. Is it Renee’s imagination or is Jalal keeping a secret that will end their marriage and rip her children from her life? And could it involve Diane, the woman who reminds Renee too much of Jalal’s beloved first wife?

Here are a few quotes from the book that I wanted to share, words that kind of left a lasting impression. There were others but these two seems rather poignant.

“On the worst nights, with exhaustion picking at the seams of sanity, I imagine myself erased from the picture.”

 “It’s time to accept marriage for what it really is—just two imperfect human beings trying to find a little happiness together.”

I have to be honest. It took me many months to settle down and read this book, but that had nothing to do with the writing or the story. In fact, I’ve been feeling down right crummy about not settling down to read it before now. One of the worst things an author encounters is waiting for someone to read our books, wondering what their thoughts are on the story we’ve pour our heart and soul into. Often times, when we hear nothing from a reader, we tend to take that as something negative. Authors are kind of fragile that way. Only those who write can truly understand that. There always seems to be that tiny place within us that allows doubt to wiggle through from time to time. We tend to forget that people have other things going on in their lives besides reading our books. Who knew?

Since I don’t own an ereader the book was downloaded to my laptop—-the laptop I do all my writing on. This created a real problem for me since I use my laptop for writing not reading and it was very difficult to take laptop time to read.

I do quite a bit of reading in the car since we live far out of town. In that way I like the convenience of books. Not only that I sometimes walk while reading in order to get a little activity into my day, and I’ve been known to use the treadmill while reading as well. In others words, I rarely sit down and read since I also sit to write. Can’t spend my days with my derrière plunked down on a chair. That’s just not good.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable reading from a screen as apposed to books. Could be I just don’t like the change. Or could be a Kobo or Kindle would be more to my liking. I’m just not sure. For me, it feels as though these reading gadgets are simply an illusion, finding their way into our lives the way all technology does. They still aren’t books and never will be. I can’t deny I like reading from a book, holding it, feeling its weight in my hands, physically turning the pages, marking the pages with bookmarks, closing the cover when I reach the end, looking through the stacks in the bookstore. If we ever come to a place where printed books no longer exist I’ll be more than a little sad. I hope this never happens.

Thank you, Linda, and I apologize for taking so long to read your lovely book.

What do you prefer printed books or ereaders? Have you ever read a book from your computer and if so how did you find the experience?

Let the Edits Begin

Seems as though the things we often expect to happen a certain way end up going off in a totally different direction altogether. Life is funny that way. This month I thought I’d have time to devote to my new writing project, but low and behold I received an email from my editor at Nimbus Publishing. It is time to start editing my new YA novel, “To Fly With a Broken Wing.”  Yippee!!

“If you could have the edits done by January that would be great,” she said.

“No problem,” I replied.

No problem! Oh right, there’s this thing called Christmas coming up this month. I forgot all about Christmas mere seconds before I fired off the email. *gulp*

Okay it’s really not THAT bad. My editor is understanding and did add that if I needed more time it was fine, just to let her know. And truthfully, edits seem a bit overwhelming at first until you actually start addressing each comment and suggestion as you go. Personally, I’m just happy to be working on it and gearing up for the book’s release next fall. The exciting part is, the book is making progress. Edits have begun and, Christmas or not, I’ll get the work done. Authors are funny that way.

But it hasn’t been all work. I’ve been balancing things out as I go. A little shopping, a little gift wrapping, a lot of editing, a little decorating. If I play my cards right I’ll even get to watch an episode of “Grimm” this evening.

DSC02991A big thrill this week was meeting up with Donna Morrisey at a book signing. Donna’s new book is “The Deception of Livvy Higgs.” If you remember, I mentioned in an earlier post that she was on my list of authors to meet. Little did I know at the time our meeting would happen so soon. Yes, life certainly does throw in a surprise or two. This month has been busy with lots of authors doing book signings and I’m heading out again for one tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll either post about it on Facebook or my blog.

I’ve also had a disappointment this week. I’d been planning for months to get high speed Internet service, but it just wasn’t to be. I know this is difficult for many of you to understand, but here in rural Nova Scotia we don’t necessarily have the option for High Speed and that sucks. One company put up towers and many people can receive a wireless signal, but I happen to live in an area where too many trees are blocking that signal. I’ve got to say, dial-up makes life very challenging, and many times I have problems with pages loading, especially those blogs that have lots of photos posted on them. Then again, it can sometimes be impossible to comment when it does load. But I’m dealing with this challenge the best way I can. Some things are out of my control. I sometimes think the thought of something better makes us less tolerant for what we have. So perhaps now, I’ll accept what is and feel grateful to have Internet service at all.

Anyway, despite Christmas and the edits for my novel, I’m hoping to be around Blogland a bit more this winter. I have a lot to catch up on.

Has life given you any unexpected surprises lately?

I won! I won!

Okay, let me calm down for a second so  I can share my exciting news with you.

Who’s the winner of the Booker Award? That would be moi, thank you.

Admit it, for  a split  second you thought,  Hmm, does  Laura  actually mean the prestigious Booker Prize, that  International writing award any author would give their first born up to win? …Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you know what I mean.  Did you see the little note below the prize that says “For those who refuse to live in the real world.” Ummm, that would be moi as well.  But listen, an author has a right to dream and dream big, right?  In the meantime I’m most  happy with my Booker Award  and the knowledge that my first born  didn’t  have to  make any sacrifices  for my  writing  career. (I’m a good mom, aren’t I?)

I was given this award by Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda series of books for children 8-12.  Check  out her  blog and you’ll  learn all about her and this great series. Darlene’s one of the nicest bloggers/authors/people I’ve met  on line. And to think we might never have crossed paths had it not been for the Country Roads anthology we were both contributors to.

Accepting this award means I’ll list five of my favourite books. Now this won’t be my five all time favourite since I couldn’t possible narrow it down to five, and I’m  also going to use this opportunity to give some shout outs to a few local books –so here I go:

Kit’s  Law  by Donna Morrissey.  This was Donna’s debut  novel and it’s a terrific read. I especially like the fact that Donna lives in my home province of Nova Scotia. I haven’t  yet met Donna but she’s on my list  of  author’s  too meet.  I came close  this fall  as she was  scheduled to come to The Inside Story  for a book signing, but had to cancel. Still hoping she makes it there. Would love to meet her.

The Birth House by Ami McKay. You know how every now and again we read a book and think, this is a book I would have liked to have written just because it seems to really speak to you in a special way?  Well, the Birth House is one of those books for me.  Ami is a fellow Nova Scotian as well. Her book was a #1 Canadian bestseller.

The Case  Against Owen Williams by Allan Donaldson.  Allan in a fellow Maritimer and lives in New Brunswick. I thought this novel well written and made me sympathetic toward a character  whom I might otherwise been indifferent to.

My next two are children’s books, and books that would also appeal to many adults as well.

Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer. Hadley grew up in the Annapolis Valley and even went to the same high school as me which I think is rather neat in itself. I met Hadley at a book signing some years back and she sent me some notes of encouragement at one time. A very supportive writer.

The Year Mrs. Montague Cried by Susan White. Susan is a writer from New Brunswick. I totally enjoyed this book and the fact that Susan drew on her own experience of losing her son made it so very authentic.

So there you have five books that I can’t really call my favourite, but local books I really enjoyed. I’m not going to pass this award on, but if you`d like to leave a list in the comment section of five, or four, or three….books you really enjoyed please feel free to do so.

Happy Reading!

Oak Island Revenge

Today we were city bound. A bit of a birthday celebration for our son, and to attend the book launch for Oak Island Revenge. The book was written by author, Cynthia D’Entremont, and is a mystery set on, you guess it, Oak Island. For anyone reading this who hasn’t heard of Oak Island it’s a tiny island quite literally a hop, skip and a jump off  mainland Nova Scotia. There’s reported to be pirate treasure buried there. People have been digging for this treasure for hundreds of years.

Cynthia was introduced to the crowd by children’s book editor, Penelope Jackson. For any hopeful writers out there submitting to Nimbus this is the lady you need to impress.

The launch was held at Indigospirit, Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. Here’s Cynthia reading from her book. Well, actually she was working up to the reading. She shines in front of an audience.

One never knows who they’ll run into at a launch. Here are three more authors, Daphne Greer (left) JoAnn Yhard(centre) and Lisa Harrington (right.)They belong to the same writing group as Cynthia.

Best of luck, Cyndy, with your new book. I can hardly wait to dive in and start reading.


I’m a SCAIPER

What, you’ve never heard of a SCAIPER?

That’s SCAIPER as in CANSCAIPER.

If you’re from Canada and you write for kids you have likely heard of this organization.

Let’s keep this simple.

CANSCAIP is a National Arts Service Organization dedicated to the celebration and promotion of Canadian children’s authors, illustrators and performers and their work.

You don’t have to be a published author to join. You can become a “friend” and still keep up with all the news. It’s also a great way to find out more about your favourite Canadian children’s author, illustrator or performer.

Here’s the link to the CANSCAIP site. If you click into members you can find my page. And if you don’t, well then, you won’t find it. Told you it was simple.

Today, I received word that the CANSCAIP site had added a list of the member’s book trailers. Many of you have already seen the trailer for Bitter, Sweet. My daughter and I put it together, about a year and a half ago on one of my visits, shortly after Miss Charlotte was born.

If you’re familiar with Dalhousie, the pictures we used  in the trailer are all from the area. Kind of “cool and neat” as Miss Charlotte likes to say. And yes, that’s an actual shot of the Dalhousie Road where the story is set. Now, I personally don’t live on the section of road that is unpaved, but yes, part of the road today is still dirt just like back in the 1940′s. Unfortunately, the deserted house featured in the video was torn down last summer. It had been empty for some years and I suppose there was no one to keep up repairs. Oh, and the little guy holding up the trout is my husband at about seven or eight. The joke in our family is that hubby loves to see videos of himself so it only seemed fitting that he’d make an appearance.

 If you’re interested in checking out some of the other trailers slip on over and have a gander. You’ll find mine there as well. This link will take you directly to page. Here. In the next while, I’m going to check these trailers out to get some “cool and neat” ideas for my next book trailer.

*Keep in mind if you’re on dial-up, as I know many of my friends from the area are, it’ll take awhile for these YouTube videos to upload. Be patient.

Oh and while you’re here, might I say, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. May your day be filled with sunshine, roses and chocolate. If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t buy into the whole notion of Valentine’s Day have some chocolate anyway. Even the most mundane day can be improved with chocolate. Oh here, I’ll give you the chocolate myself.  Enjoy.

Goodreads or not Goodreads?

So I’ve been looking around on the Goodreads site lately, and finding it quite interesting. Apparently, I had signed up for an author page about a year and a half ago but that was as far as it went. What did I know?

I’ve since added a little info about myself and a profile picture and will keep working at it over the next little while. I know, I’m slow, but I sometimes have to be eased into these things. It’s all pretty new to me and I’m still figuring it all out.

I began adding the books I’ve read in 2012 but not planning, at this point, to list the books I’ve read in the past. I’d never remember them all. I also haven’t been rating the books I’ve read and haven’t yet decided if I will. This is part of the reason why I resisted this for so long. The thought of rating books, especially from the authors I know, feels a bit weird. I also have to admit to not fully understanding the rating system or if we simply come up with our own. My reading tastes are varied to say the least. How would one use the same rating system for a non-fiction book as a work of fiction? I’m sure most people who rate books have a system that works well for them.  Maybe I’ll discover something that feels right over time.

Now, I’m not going to say that I’ll never rate any books or write any reviews because I have learned over the years that “never” is a finite word, and nothing in life seems finite least of all our opinions and tastes. Perhaps I will one day rate a book or write a review if I read a book that simply blows me away. Honestly, that doesn’t happen often. On the other end of the scale, I rarely find books that I despise. I’m an easy reader to please. So long as I’m reading something I’m content.

 As I looked at some of the book ratings I found it interesting to see that some popular books might garner one or two stars from various people yet others gave that same book five, the top amount. Now I know that we all have specific tastes in books. I get that. Still, it makes me wonder how there can be such a wide variation. I also found the reviews interesting and people’s reasons for the rating they gave a particular book especially if the book was given only one or two stars. Some reasons seemed quite insignificant so I’m feeling that there must have been other factors at play, maybe a simply “I just didn’t like this book,” but then the reader feels an obligation to give their reasons for such a low rating. Hey, who knows what goes through a reader’s mind? I’ve always been of the opinion that if I really like a book, I’m willing to overlook a few little things along the way. If I’m looking to be picky, I can usually find something. I’m sure most readers are the same. Which brings me to the question: are there any perfect books out there? I suppose that, again, depends upon the reader.

Are you a Goodreads member? Do you find it difficult to rate books? Are you influenced  at all if you know a particular author? What rating system do you use? Have you even given a book a two or even a one star rating?

That’s Me—Writer Groupie!

My name is Laura Best and I am a writer groupie.

I never knew this before, but apparently there IS a word for what’s ailing me( if you call it ailing) —- “writer groupie.” And doesn’t that sound totally lame? I mean anything with the word groupie attached to it. Makes you sound so…so… I don’t know…desperate.

I discovered this tidbit over at Fitch Happens. Sheree wrote that even though she’s a writer, she’s a reader first. She spoke about how precious her signed copies of books are. She openly admitted to sniffing the ink on the page. She was not ashamed.

Let me be straight about this: I have NEVER sniffed ink.(Not that I believe that ink sniffing is wrong , mind you, or even beneath me. If you’re an ink-sniffer that’s perfectly fine by me.) I’m not even sure that ink gives off an odor, not from your regular run-of-the-mill ballpoint at any rate, but who am I to argue?

The truth is, the thought never crossed my mind….. I’m just not a sniffer by nature unless it’s something that is sniffable– flowers, skin products, perfume, spices—you get my drift. My daughter is a sniffer. Whenever she opens a gift she smells it regardless of what it is. Got it from her grandmother on her father’s side. It’s a family joke or, quite possibly, a tradition. We sit around and watch each Christmas, and yes, she does it every time. Does this mean we’re strange?

Nope. I’m definitely not an ink sniffer….Yet now the thought is there, isn’t it? I do have signed books, you know.

I could deny the word— writer groupie, and yet I think the signs are there…..I show up at book signing, have my picture snapped with various authors all in hopes of creating this scrapbook for Miss Charlotte. I love meeting other authors and chatting with them. I flock to where authors are hanging out. AND I have photos to go along with my signed books from: Syr Ruus, Jan Coates, JoAnn Yhard, Helene Boudreau, Margaret Atwood, Budge Wilson, Steve Vernon, Jill MacLean, Sheree Fitch, Star Dobson, … I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting at the moment of writing this, and there will be more in the future.

I remember when I was off signing copies of my novel. A few people came prepared to get photos so I guess I’m not the only one. It was actually kind of cool to think that someone wanted their photo snapped with me. I mean me, really. I wonder at this moment how Margaret Atwood feels, she’s probably in more scrapbooks and photo albums than any other Canadian writer.

Still, there are worse things in life I suspect. I won’t bother naming them at the moment.. I’ll just curl up on the sofa with my photos and books and resists the urge to sniff ink.

Be honest, are you a writer groupie? Do you have signed copies of books from authors that you would never part with? Have you ever sniffed the ink on a page?

How Much Is Too Much?

With social media these days authors can easily make themselves visible to the public in ways never dreamed of in the past. As fans we can seek out our favourite authors, follow them on twitter, read their blogs, visit their websites, friend them on facebook.

But is there a point where an author can make themselves too visible?

Recently a friend of mine commented that she was so tired of seeing a particular author on facebook that she considered hiding her from her news feeds. Don’t ask me why but her statement sent me into a giggling fit, maybe because I’ve often wondered the same thing about myself. Do people get tired of seeing my updates on facebook? Do they cringe when they see that little gavatar of mine pop up into their line of vision? When I publish a new blog post on facebook do they moan and groan, and want to stick their head in a sock? Do they hide me from their news feeds? Or do they simply ignore me and go happily on their way ‘cause let’s face it I’m just not all that fascinating? ;)

As with anything in life we have to find a balance. Deciding what that balance will be isn’t as easy as it might sound. Finding the perfect balance, the one that will make everyone happy is impossible. Just as we cannot satisfy all the readers of our books, neither can we all agree on how much social networking is enough.

The interesting thing about my friend’s comment the other evening was, although we are mutual friends of this same author, this author’s presence on facebook and twitter has never annoyed me. I enjoy seeing what this particular author is up to. So there you go. A perfect example.. I did say perfect, didn’t I?

What I take notice of more often are those people whom we never hear boo from until they have a book about to be released then they’re all over the place promoting and wanting us to support their work. I come from a small Nova Scotia community where we like to support people we know. I’m more willing to spend my money buying books from author’s whom I feel I know. Getting to *know* an author through social media takes time, and a certain amount of interaction on the author’s part. Putting posts and updates out there and then disappearing might not be enough. What I do know is that getting to know an author through social networking has certainly prompted me to buy books in the past so I guess it works. Most of us like to support those we know and like.

Perhaps I’m more of a social butterfly, but I do like interacting with my facebook friends. And nothing tickles me down to my toes more than getting to know people through facebook, twitter, and my blog. I’ve met some pretty nice folks these past few years. Now, I know all this social interacting is time consuming, and we can’t spend all of our waking hours getting to know people. Well, we easily could, but other important areas of our lives would certainly suffer like our family, our jobs, our writing life. And let’s not forget, in order to call ourselves writers we do actually have to write. In a perfect world we could stretch a day out for a long as we needed to get everything done, but we already agreed that perfection is a very subjective thing.

So I’m wondering how the rest of your feel.

Do you have people on your facebook and twitter who make themselves too visible? Or do you think it’s every author’s right to promote their books in whatever way they see fit and the rest of us need to accept it and get on with it? And have you found a balance when it comes to your own social networking time?

Author Appreciation : Spread Some Love

Have you hugged an author lately?

Seems to me there’s a lot of love and appreciation directed at authors. Lots of reviews and interviews going on these days over the Internet. Love is bulging from every corner of cyberspace— the blogging community, Facebook and twitter. Feels pretty darn good, not only to receive the love, but also to help spread some of it, too.

So you don’t have a blog or a twitter account?

Not all of us do or ever will. Does this mean you have to sit in the sidelines and let everyone else spread the love? I don’t think so.

If you’re not on twitter or Facebook, if you’re too shy to drop a comment on an author’s site for the whole world to read, there’s still a way to help spread your love and appreciation.

When was the last time you googled an author whose book you’ve just read? Did you check to see if they have a site? Most of us do.

If you’ve come to an author’s site you’ve no doubt noticed that most of us provide an email or contact me tab. If you were aware of this did you take a few moments to fire off an email to say you enjoyed their book?

I recently received an email from another author who’d just read my book. Pretty cool since I’d googled her a few years back and sent her an email right after reading her book. And you know what? She remembered that email! Authors have excellent memories when it comes to those sorts of things.

Is your email important?

Of course it is. We all want to feel appreciated no matter who we are. The thing about writers is this, many people will read our book, they’ll enjoy it, they’ll become totally immersed in the stories we create, but we never hear from them. They are our silent partners. They travel this journey with our characters, they watch them face adversity, silently cheering for them, or cursing their very existence.

So, I challenge all you readers out there. The next time you read a really good book take a moment to google the author, find their site, look for a contact tab or email address, write a note of appreciation (it doesn’t need to be long) and hit send. It may not seem like a big thing to you and you might think that your name is quickly forgotten, but believe me it isn’t. You’re little note will find a soft spot in our hearts. On those days when we’re feeling very unappreciated, when we decide we’ve spent too many hours working on a WIP that, in the end, turned out to be nothing more than monkey crap in disguise, we can search through our email folder, find your saved email and feel the love all over again.

What do you say, are you up to the challenge? You are? Great, let the googling begin!!

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