The Biggest Roadblock Along the Road to Publication

IMAG0609I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing process these past few days. As I sifted through some older writing files and reread some of my stories that had been published in literary magazines, I was reminded of that time when publication was only a dream—a dream that felt so very far away.
Yet a dream I was sure would come true…
…possibly….
…maybe….
…hopefully…..
…one day

PRETTY PLEASE!

Over time, as the rejections mounted, as the dream began to look a little fuzzy, I came to a realization about my writing, something that writers don’t often want to admit:

The biggest road block, the thing that was keeping me from being a published author was me.

Yup, that’s right, little ole me.

While there were things I was more than willing to work on—my writing being one of those things—something else was preventing me from being published. I was inadvertently placing road blocks in the way, not because I didn’t want to be published (Lordy, but I wanted it) but because, on some level, I was afraid of it. Fear is the one thing that has the power to hold us back, to keep us from realizing our dreams, and no matter how badly we might want something, we’ll allow that very same fear to put obstacles in our way and keep our dreams from coming true.

I think of these fear-based obstacles as roadblocks because they do just that—they block our path and prevent us from continuing our journey toward publication. When the obstacles show up along the road we can either let these roadblocks stop us or we can figure a way to get past them. And in order to do that it’s important to recognize these roadblocks when we come up against them.

Here are a few of the road blocks I’ve encountered in the past, ones that I unknowingly placed in my path.

1.Procrastination: Believe me when I say I can procrastinate with the best of them. I’ve had plenty of practice, too. There is always something else to do. That something else might very well be important, like spending time with my family or friends, or it could be something as insignificant as watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. If you want to be published you need to make writing one of your priorities. REPEAT WITH ME. “If I want to be published I need to make writing one of my priorities.” You may not be able to write each and every day, but you need to make an effort even on those days when you don’t feel as though you have a literary bone in your body. Even ten or fifteen minutes of writing are better than no minutes. Remember, if you can’t publish what never gets written. No one’s going to publish blank pages. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

2. Believing that you are not worthy of publication: This is a biggie. Too many of us struggle with this. While there are a few writers out there who have unrealistic goals, like signing a million-dollar book contract prior to publication when their writing needs much more work to make it publishable, many more writers struggle with the belief that their writing will never be quite good enough for publication. I’m here to tell you, in order to succeed in writing you have to believe that you are worthy of success. REPEAT WITH ME : “In order to succeed in writing I have to believe that I am worthy of success.” If you’re inner dialogue is constantly telling you something different, you need to give yourself a good talking to. Nothing good is ever accomplished beneath a cloak of negativity. Believe you are worthy because you are. Why wouldn’t you be?

3.Not owning it: If you’re a writer, admit it. Don’t gush over the fact, stammer and stumble to get the words out, own up to it. When I say, own it, I don’t mean for you to shout it from the rooftops because that would just annoy the heck out of everyone, I mean accept once and for all that you are a writer. Forget all that once-I’m-published-I’ll-be-a-writer nonsense. Every published writer was once an unpublished writer. They didn’t become a writer the moment their words were printed, they were writers before that. REPEAT WITH ME: “Every published writer was once an unpublished writer.” Did you think all writers were born with publishing credits? No sir, not a one. They worked at their writing until it was good enough for publication. But here’s a little truth, sometimes even publication isn’t enough to make you feel like a writer. I know, sounds silly. Certainly to be published is to be a writer, right? Yet I can tell you that I had several stories published before I finally, finally admitted that I was a writer. So do yourself a favour and admit it before publication, that way it won’t come as such a shock when you’re holding that first published story in your hands.

4. Saying you’re a writer but not really feeling it: Feeling that you’re a writer means much more than simply saying the words, “I’m a writer.” Anyone can do that, writer or non-writer. Don’t get me wrong, while it’s good to say the words, important even, it means very little if we simply do not feel it. REPEAT WITH ME: Feeling that I’m a writer is more important than just saying it. The day I actually felt like a writer, really and truly felt like one, was the day something momentous happened in my writing life. More and more of my stories were accepted for publication but, more importantly, the rejections that came afterward stopped stinging. I came to understand that rejection wasn’t necessarily a commentary of my work, but simply a story that didn’t catch the attention of the right editor on the right day. Finally, I stopped taking those rejections so personally.

While some of these may or may not be roadblocks you’ll encounter along the way, I feel as though we often underestimate our own self-worth. And when we’re not at a particular place in life when we want to be, we often end up beating ourselves up because of it. Maybe we even decide that it’s just too hard, that we’ll never get there. But we all take our own time getting places–that’s all part of life. Some stories take longer than others to polish. It’s always important to have someone in your corner. Isn’t it only fitting for you to be that someone?

What are some of the roadblocks you’ve encountered along the road to publication

Everyday Success

Have you ever wallowed in your own success or, rather, lack of? We’ve all attempted things in the past only to be disappointed when the outcome we received failed to take the form we hoped for. We’ve all felt like a failure at some time or other. But the truth is many of us don’t even recognize what success is. Success, we reason, has to be some grand, spectacular thing we’ve accomplished in order for it to count. But life is made up of many smaller successes, successes we encounter every day and shrug off because they seem too small, too insignificant. (I haven’t saved a life, or brought about world peace, I haven’t climbed any mountains–you know how it goes.)

If only we’d change the way we think.

Success doesn’t need to be some grandiose thing–the making of a million dollars or the purchase of a seaside home worth millions. Success can be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning—maybe not for you or me, but for some people I’m sure it is.

Today, I challenged myself to write down 100 of my successes. FYI I’m reading, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I figured if it was good enough for Jack Canfield, it was good enough for me. I mean, even if you’ve never read a single “Chicken Soup” book, you’ve got to admire this man for what he has accomplished. So when Jack suggests making a list, I make a list. What can it hurt?

So with pen and paper in hand I set out, wondering if I even had 100 successes to write down. 100 is a lot, I mean a LOT. I started out with the important ones—the birth of my children, thirty-six years of marriage, the publication of two books and my many other writing accomplishments. I quickly wrote down the award my first book was short-listed for. I whizzed through all these things with plenty of steam to spare.

But then it got a little more challenging. Hey, I’m not all that interesting. I haven’t done that many things. At least that’s what I thought! I dug back into my childhood and added things like learning to swim, to print, to read, and to write—all very important accomplishments. I’ve never won any big awards but I got my drivers license at twenty-five even though (and many of my friends can confirm this) I don’t really like driving. I taught Sunday school—bet you didn’t know that. I was even a 4-H leader at one time. I added friends to the list because to have friends is to have success, and I’ve got some pretty awesome friends. (Please take a bow if you’re one of them reading this now!) I listed the fact that after six years I’m still blogging and hey, I even have some followers, some of you even check out my posts when I publish them! I added learning how to can vegetables the year I was married. And even learning to play the recorder in grade five (shivers to this day.) I was a choir member in elementary and wrote and presented several speeches to the Home and School Association even though my heart was pounding in my ears. I wrote my first play at ten and bribed persuaded my friends into act in it with promises of fame and fortune. (Okay, so the promised fame and fortune part never happened. Who knew what fame and fortune was back in the fifth grade anyway?)

The more things I thought about the more successful I felt
which I suppose is the point of the whole exercise. I’m only half-way through the list but I’m confident I’ll reach 100 before the evening is out. I’ll be on top of the world!

No matter what your definition of success it, the one thing we can all agree upon is that success is always a positive thing. And if you think you haven’t been very successful in life maybe you need to rethink you definition of success. Maybe we could all benefit by taking a step back and deciding just what success looks like. Does it mean you have to lower your standards? I don’t think so. We can still set goals, in fact there’s nothing wrong in that, but we should still take time to acknowledge all those everyday successes that come our way while we’re waiting for that goal we’ve set to become a reality.

For the writer waiting for that first piece to be published, maybe success is the writing of a publishable short story, poem, novel or article. Maybe it’s making a commitment to creating a blog and writing regular blog posts. Or maybe it’s taking the time to write a letter to someone you know would appreciate a hand-written note. We won’t all sell thousands of copies of our books, we won’t all win awards, we won’t all retire from the royalties we earn, and we won’t all be published in book form—but we can still be successful.

So if you’re not feeling very successful at the moment I’d suggest you start making a list of your own, and I challenge you NOT to feel successful by the time you reach 100.

Ready…set…go!

Reflection

The sudden passing of a friend in February kind of threw me for a loop. For a few days I withdrew into my thoughts to contemplate the things I would miss with this friend no longer here, and to honour the memories I had of her. Whenever we lose someone in our life it causes us to reflect upon so many things—the frailty of life being one of them, our own mortality as well as the mortality of those closest to us, the things we haven’t yet accomplished that we’d like to, the relationships we forge and so, so much more.

When we get to a certain age, we begin to understand that life doesn’t always make sense. Good things happen, bad things happen, and we have no idea why. We can become angry and bitter over the things we deem senseless in this world and yet delight when good things happen that also don’t make sense. (If that makes sense!)

I’m not sure that life is supposed to make sense. If it did make sense all the time, I think we’d lose a little of the wonder and the magic that exists in the world. And without the wonder and the magic what would that do to our hopes and dreams and wishes? Without magic I’m almost certain all those things wouldn’t exist. Why would we ever wish for something or allow our hopes to propel us into some crazy new direction, why would set our dreams on anything other than the reality we now have if there wasn’t some force out there capable of making our hopes, dreams and wishes come true? Wouldn’t we simply go through our days and wait for life to happen? How drab, how utterly mundane and ordinary, how sad.

Truthfully, I’m glad to live in a world that doesn’t always make sense, where strange, out of the ordinary things sometimes happen, where people overcome insurmountable odds, a world that fills us with delight and yes, sometimes, sorrow. My friend once sent me a link to a site about fairy homes. There are those who might say that a site like that doesn’t make any sense, and maybe it doesn’t, but so what?

If I was looking for things to always make sense I might have said a long time ago there’s no sense in trying to get published. I might have said it’s too hard to a thing to accomplish. I might have looked at the stats from some of the literary magazines I submitted to (we receive over 1200 submissions a year and publish 5%) and said the odds are not in my favour. I might have said, I have no one to show me the way. I might have counted the rejections (I had a few file folders filled) and said it isn’t meant to be. I might have said I’ve never once taken a writing course. I might have said I don’t know one single solitary writer in the entire world. But I didn’t say those things. I kept doing what I was doing even though there were times that it didn’t make sense to be doing it. (Seriously, some of my friends worried about the postage I was spending and if it was actually “paying off”) I kept wishing and hoping and dreaming…and writing.

And for those people who think life makes perfect sense, that if we dig deep enough we’ll find out exactly why things happen, I feel a little sad. I might be a Pollyanna, I might set my sights on things that seem an impossibility, but I’d rather live in a world of magic and wonder than a world that just is.

R.I.P my friend–the next time I find a fairy house in the woods I’ll think of you.

Do you believe in magic and wonder or in a world that always makes sense?
(Please drop in next time when author Heather Wright will be a guest on my blog. Heather will be telling us about her new book : Writing Fiction: A Guide for Preteens.”

PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen

Today, it is pleasure to welcome author Syr Ruus to my blog. As both a traditionally and self-published author, Syr has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on this with us.

37816_135253859838486_2745956_nSyr Ruus was born in Tallinn, Estonia during the Second World War. As a small child, she escaped with her mother to Germany and
subsequently immigrated to the United States. She has an MA in English and MS in Education and taught in the English Department of Illinois State University. She has lived in Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia since 1970, formerly working as an elementary school teacher while raising her three children and currently devoting herself full-time to writing. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals and in 2009 her novel “Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart” was published by Newfoundland’s Breakwater Press.

PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen

I have always loved books. I became a reader at three. More than thirty years later, I became a writer. Why did it take so long, you might ask? Perhaps because English is my second language, or maybe I felt that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. Once I started, however, I never stopped.

Publishing, of course, is another matter. People say it’s extremely hard to find a publisher these days with things being as they are. I know from personal experience that it has always been hard. It’s even difficult to find places to send a manuscript. Only small publishers accept unsolicited queries. If anyone does offer to take a closer look, it takes many months, even years, before a decision is reached. Often you hear nothing at all.

Not that this is altogether bad. It gives a writer a chance to reflect. After the first flush of enthusiasm, one can make some meaningful revisions. Sometimes, along with a rejection, there is feedback. I have read in a manual for writers that when you finish a novel, it should sit in a drawer for at least two years before you begin working on it again. A bit extreme, maybe. Yet often it sits that long in a slush pile on some junior editor’s desk. There does come a time, however, when a work is definitely ready. Finished. Done. Only a few final perks and tweaks could make it any better. Or perhaps not. Still no one has offered to publish it.

The wonderful news is that it has become more acceptable than ever to do it yourself. Even the Writers’ Union of Canada has recently voted to accept self-published writers.

321214_269317809765423_1682562519_nI was lucky. A smattering of my short stories appeared in Journals and anthologies. After my novel Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart received first prize in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia annual competition, it was published by Breakwater Press in 2009. This gave me a much needed boost and sufficient confidence to actually begin referring to myself as an author.

But what of the two books I had written earlier? In 1999, Devil’s Hump was being seriously considered by a well-regarded publisher before being rejected. A few years ago, a new editor at the same company found the same novel (revised edition) “transporting, enchanting, strange, unsentimental, vivid,” but not fitting in with “what we’re trying to do with the fiction list at present.”

“I do think you should be able to find a publisher for this,” she added.

So, like The Little Red Hen, I did it myself. Devil’s Hump was published in 2013 by etc. Press, Halifax, N.S.10569081_810453168985215_2058664649597654044_n

The first novel I ever wrote also received an award from WFNS. In 1994, Edgar was the winner in the juvenile novel category. After some years, I decided to incorporate the original story which concerned a pet crow within an adult novel about the family which raised it. As such it was shortlisted for the Ken Klonsky Novella Award, yet despite positive comments from various publishers, no one was prepared to take it on. Just a few months ago, The Little Red Hen did it again. The Story of Gar was published in December, 2014.

Each of our voices is important to our collective humanity. Those that have spoken to me in the books I have read over the years have enriched me beyond measure. Our writing preserves a personal vision of a world which is constantly changing. The characters we have created with such loving care deserve a chance to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps come to life in someone else’s mind also. It’s every writer’s dream to be published, but you can’t wait around forever. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

It’s exciting to prepare one’s work for print: to choose the paper, to select the font, to format the pages, to decide on a cover, to be in full control from beginning to end.
This includes promotion, of course, which these days is increasingly left up to the author, but which publishers certainly facilitate. Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart is available in bookstores all over the world (as I see when I Google myself). It was also reviewed in 10247462_880235172007014_1772275323027241970_nvarious newspapers and was submitted to contests which I cannot access as a self-published author. Since both of my independently published novels have a regional content (as does In Pleasantry, a collection of connected short stories, which I plan to publish next), shops in the area are willing to take a few copies on consignment. The books are printed in limited editions; the cost goes down as the number goes up. Being a diffident self-promoter, I am mainly depending on word-of-mouth for any future sales, and with luck, I may get back what I spent.

But as writers, we know that we don’t do it for the money—we do it for love.

Thanks so much, Syr, for sharing your thoughts and your wisdom. I hope that In Pleasantries will find the same success as your other novels. I am looking forward to reading your next literary offering.

To learn more about Syr, check out her WFNS page here. And her Facebook page. Her books are available locally at Coles in Bridgewater, The RiverHouse  and Lahave Bakery or by contacting the author directly: syr@eastlink.ca

Welcoming 2015 With Some Writerly Intentions

I love the start of a brand new year. I’m sure I say that every year around about this time, but it’s SO true. A brand new year is so full of possibilities, like a blank page just waiting to be written on or a field of unblemished snow where not a single soul has tread. Guided only by my imagination at this time of the year I feel as though anything is possible. It’s like starting all over again and there’s something most exciting about beginnings, especially for a writer.

I don’t make resolutions but I do like making a list of intentions, things I intend to accomplish, hopefully in the upcoming year, but if not, somewhere farther off into the future. For me, that feels doable without too much pressure, yet allows me to have some goal in mind at the end of it all. And I don’t fill my list up with far-fetched notions, dreaming only big dreams. While big dreams are wonderful, life is also made of up a lot of little dreams that in hindsight can prove to be just as important as the big ones. Aimlessly wandering through life can have its drawbacks. Applying just the right amount of pressure never hurts. At least that’s my philosophy!

So what are some of the things on my list? Below are a few of the writerly ones.

1.I intend to finish the novel I’m presently working on and start sending out submissions for it. There’s nothing more exciting that having several submissions out in publishing land awaiting a rejection or an acceptance, and nothing sweeter that having an editor email and tell you they want to publish your work. I recently had a short story published in Transition, a magazine put out by the Saskatchewan Mental Health Association. While it’s presently in hard copy it will be available on line and I’ll share the link on my blog when it’s available.
2.I intend to pen more short stories in the future. I’ve had several ideas come to me while working on this last novel and I’ve jotted things down just to make sure I wouldn’t forget. I’ve said before I miss my short stories so I need to remedy that.
3.I intend to say yes to writerly opportunities as they arise. Just recently I was offered the opportunity to read for a group in January. I’m excited about this and hopefully more opportunities will arise!
4.I intend to continue supporting other local authors. This has always been important to me. Nothing makes me happier than to help out a fellow author. I obviously can’t buy every book from every local author but, as I mentioned in my post here, there are plenty of ways to support our author friends.
5.I intend to continue blogging. Notice that I’m not vowing to blog every day or even every week, just that I will continue in some shape or form. I know there are some who say we should choose a schedule and stick to it, but that’s not realistic for me. It makes more sense for me to spend more of my time writing fiction than blogging. I’ve met some great people through blogging and made connections I otherwise would not have made so of course I plan to keep blogging.

So there you have a few of my writerly intentions for 2015. Perhaps it will inspire you to come up with a list of intentions yourself. I’m excited for all that 2015 will bring both on the writing front and on a personal note. The sky’s the limit!

Anyone want to share one of their intentions, writing or otherwise?

Coping with the Darkness

The darkness these days makes me feel like staying close to home especially in the evenings. I want to sit by a fire and drink hot chocolate, curl up with a good book (we always say a good book as if we’d ever want to read a horrible one) maybe sit with the characters of the novel I’m writing and ask them a few questions, make them explain the who, what, when , where and why. Dream. I want to dream and imagine and pull the darkness in close like a warm fuzzy blanket. I want to feel the comfort of these dark nights knowing that I am safe and warm.

In about a month the days will begin to lengthen. Right now it seems a long ways off. This time of the year is my busiest and I struggle to find the time to do all the things I’d like to do.  Its just the way things are and there’s not much point in complaining.

These past few days I have barely found time to write and that makes me feel even more rushed for time.  Writing slows me down, helps me settle into a world of my own making with characters I’ve created that seem far too real for me to say I made them up. I sometimes wonder  about the people and places a writer creates.  How much of it is imagined and how much resides in a small corner of our beings? How much of it is really real? I mean, really REAL. I know, this all makes me sound weird, but aren’t writers supposed to be a little weird?

How are you coping with the shorter days? Do you mind the diminished daylight hours?

A Disease, a Wedding and an Anthology

I have a disease. It may be incurable. Some of you know this already and some of you have suspected it for some time, but have remained silent. Please don’t pity me. I really don’t like pity. The disease I have keeps me awake at night, keeps my mind buzzing, makes me wonder just what the future holds in store for me. Some say this disease is caused by the bite from a rare bug, one that can bite you quite early in life or later on. It doesn’t discriminate. For some, it’s a lifetime struggle. The bug I’m talking about, of course, is the writing bug. No surprises there!

Yeah, I’ve been writing. A lot. Writing and editing and revising and writing some more. Writing takes up a great deal of my time, and when I’m not writing I’m often thinking about the story I’m writing. It is a disease, really it is. One that I may never recover from. One I hope they never come up with a cure for.

But that’s not all that’s been going on with me these days. More than writing I’ve been living and working and taking some family time. Family time comes before writing time. No contest. I have two precious grandbabies now who need snuggles and kisses and hugs, so many hugs. And I have a wedding to plan. Yes, wedding.

After being widowed for 26 years, my Mum is getting married next weekend. I couldn’t be happier. The family couldn’t be happier. To be honest, this is something none of us ever expected, least of all my mother. But the world is a mysterious place. Sometimes life throws things our way, and even when we fight against them we end up realizing that resistance is futile. I’m a bit older now than Mum was when she found herself all alone. It wasn’t easy. Many of you know that on top of all that she’s visually impaired. Luckily, she has five kids. And now a soon to be second husband.

“Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.” Love this quote by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and it reminds me of my Mum’s story. I have Gary Doi to thank for making me aware of the quote. He’s the editor of the new anthology I’m a part of, along with 25 other people, titled, “Fly Like an Eagle.” It’ll be for sale on Amazon within the next few weeks. The proceeds will go to SORCO, a rescue rehab and release facility, in the Okanagan Region of British Columbia, for raptors such as eagles, hawks and owls. I feel honoured to be a part of this project, a project that gives back.

So, for now that’s what’s up with me. Oh, and not to mention a forty hour regular work week, can’t forget that. I’ve been missing my blogger friends and looking forward to getting caught up with what you all are doing.

Anything new in your corner of the web?

My It-Doesn’t-Matter Attitude

Lately, I’ve been taking an “it-doesn’t-matter” kind of attitude when it comes to writing. On the surface that sounds like a bad thing, but let me explain.

It used to be I fretted over how much writing I was accomplishing in the run of a day, a week, a month, a year. I looked around and saw many of my author friends churning out novels at an amazing rate. Why can’t I be more discipline, I wondered? Why can’t I just whiz through a first draft, revise and edit, wrap it all up neatly in a few short months? Truthfully, that’s kind of the way things went with Bitter, Sweet. Smooth as silk. I like to say it took three months to write, and that it practically wrote itself. I know that my first novel, so near and dear to my heart, was a novel just waiting to be put to paper. It was so much a part of me that all I had to do was write the story that was in front of me.

But not all stories are the same. Some take a lot of digging around to get to the bottom of. Digging equals time and lots of it. Time equals, well, time. Something we all complain we don’t have enough of these days.

Writers are often under enormous pressure to produce quality writing– and fast. Pressure, I might add, that is most often self-imposed. We can feel that invisible monkey on our back. We compare our accomplishments to that of our writing friends. And many times we are merciless. We are our own worst critics. But, of course, that can be said for most of us in general. We just aren’t nice enough to ourselves. We should be. We need to be. If we can’t treat ourselves with love and respect how can be possible treat others that way?

Here’s the deal. Awhile back it came to me that it doesn’t matter when that story is finished or even how many I eventually end up writing in my lifetime. I’ll do what feels comfortable for me. If a story comes at a fast rate, so be it. I’ll burn the midnight oil if I have to in order to get it down, but if it comes at a leisurely pace, a bit here and a bit there, that’s okay too. I’m not going to twist myself into knots trying to keep up with someone else. It just doesn’t make sense. Besides, we can only ask of ourselves what we are capable and willing to give. So that’s what I’m doing this summer. I’m working on my next novel, enjoying the process. When will I finally write “The End” ? I haven’t a clue. But what I do know is it will be done when it is done and not before. So,while an it-doesn’t-matter attitude might not be for everyone it certainly takes a lot of pressure off this writer. Does my writing matter to me? Absolutely. Not only that I intend to enjoy every moment of it.

* Next Wednesday, August 20th, I’ll be interviewing,( yes interviewing!) award winning author, Marsha Skrypuch on my blog! You’ll find out about her band-spanking new book, her writing ,and the circumstances surrounding some death threats and hate mail she received. Her story is an amazing one. I hope you’ll drop by and leave a question or comment for Marsha.

The Author Behind That Book You Hate

As young reader I can’t recall ever reading a book and thinking it was horrible. I was much more accepting, much more willing to read a book with open eyes, not critically looking and examining what I believed to be faults in the story or the writing. I just read for the love of reading. I accepted the story for what it was. But then, that’s the beauty of youth, the way we keep our minds and hearts open, and simply allow stories to entertain us without judgment or malice. Weren’t we just the cutest things back then?

Today, it doesn’t seem to be that way. People are reading and reviewing and rating (they have every right to of course) but a part of me can’t help but wonder what happened to plain old reading for enjoyment. Why does everything have to be rated and what it the purpose behind these ratings? Some argue that it helps them decide if they want to read a book, but with so many varying opinions how could you possibly decide if a book is beautifully written or not and worth your time? If twenty people rave on about a book, there are bound to be some who absolutely hate it. Guaranteed.

Having your work out there to be scrutinized by others isn’t the easiest thing in the world, people. Ask any author. But it’s part of the territory, like it or lump it. We write the best story we can and, God willing, we might be able to share it with others. But there’s always going to be someone who won’t care about the work you put into it or what it means to the author to be able to express themselves with the written word. I’m not sure there is any other craft out there that comes under fire the way writing does. People can get nasty. I’ve seen it, myself, in the reviews of some of my favourite books and I wonder what would cause another person to write such nastiness. I’m all for honest reviews. If someone didn’t like a book they didn’t like it.

Behind every book, good or bad, there is a person. Someone who put their heart and soul into the story they want to tell. Hopefully, people will one day read it. And when/if they do, they’ll form opinions. They’ll either like it or they won’t. One thing I know for sure is, we won’t like every book we read, no more than everyone will like the book we write. It’s a fact of life. But being an author, I try to be as objective as I can and while I won’t like every book I read, I certainly respect the writer for creating it. Many, many hours goes into the writing of a book. We write and then we rewrite. Then rewrite some more. It’s a craft worthy of respect.

Honestly, I never used to think about the author behind the book until I became an author myself. I never wondered who they were or what kind of life they had. I only ever thought of them as an author, as if writing was their entire life. Of course, today, an author bio is on the back of books and we can get a small glimpse of who that person behind the book is. But that doesn’t tell a complete story. No bio I’ve read has ever told me that an author is trustworthy, honest or loyal. Or that they’re warm or caring and have a heart as big as the outdoors. I’ve not read a bio that told me how the author worked at perfecting his/her craft, working through the pain of rejection to produce something they truly believe in. Nor would you read in an author bio that someone’s nasty review was so hurtful that the author never wrote that second or third book because they stopped after number one. Nope, you won’t find any of those things in a bio. Although I’m not sure many people would even be interested in any of that and I’m sorry for sounding a little bit cynical at the moment

So while I don’t expect you all to love every book you read maybe you might stop for a moment and consider the author behind that book you either loved or hated.

 

Have you ever given any thought to the author behind the book you loved or  hate? Do you consider the idea that the reviews you write might be read by the author? Would you care?

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?

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