My ten-year old got a Kindle for Christmas. I might be a tad jealous since I don’t even have one, but I guess Santa was feeling generous and understood just how much that kid loves to read. And encouraging reading? Well, it IS something I try to do.
One of my favorite things about the Kindle is watching how he chooses to spend his Amazon giftcards. At first, there were a couple of recently released books he was dying for (ones that were the latest in a series he’d been reading). The choices were easy. But with all the book suggestions from Amazon based on his buying history, he realized really fast that there were plenty of other books that cost a lot less than the $10 ones he’d been buying.
The kid’s good at math, so he figured out that he could get MORE books if he got the books in the $0.99 to $2.99 range. Unless it’s a deal, I found that this range usually means self-published. I know plenty of talented self-published authors who work really hard to make their books awesome, so I had no problem with this. But I tried to go through the reviews before buying, to vet his choices. Because let’s be honest . . . there’s self-published and then there’s self-published. Those who do it right, and those who . . . don’t.
There was one book in particular where I found quite a few less-than-complimentary reviews about the quality of the writing: ‘the characters are very one-dimensional’; ‘the plot meanders completely from where it started in the beginning’; ‘the story is very derivative’ . . . Big enough issues that were brought up in enough reviews that I strongly discouraged him from getting it. That said, I let him make the final choice (since, you know, it WAS his money).
Of course he got it. “It sounds really good, Mom!” And wouldn’t you know it, by the time he finished the book (later that day, I believe), he was RAVING about the thing. “This is my second-favorite book, ever!” And the kid reads A LOT of books.
This experience really made me stop. I’ve thought a lot about this. I mean, why do we kill ourselves to make our prose shine, when in the end, our younger readers haven’t yet learned to discern the difference between excellent and mediocre writing anyway? My son liked this book because it involved dragons (his favorite subject), it had lots of action, and it reminded him of other books he loved.
Isn’t that enough to strive for?
I have to conclude that it’s not. When I consider the power of a book–a well-written book–how can I settle for anything less than my best? And it’s not just about getting it right for the reader. The writing/revising of a book is a transcendent experience that I believe makes me better as a person. I learn to find empathy for the vilest of villains. I learn to consider ideas from all different points of view. I learn what’s important to me, and I solidify my beliefs as I spend hours and hours with my characters and their views.
I can’t help but think of J.K. Rowling. She wrote for middle grade readers, and she captured them with a fun and adventurous book. But her prose was so excellent, the ideas she tackled so relatable, that she didn’t only capture middle graders. She captured the world and caused a revolution in the world of books.
Yes, her story is rare, but isn’t that what we all strive for? To write something that leaves people (including ourselves) thinking well beyond the actual reading of it? How can we possibly hope for that if we don’t give it our all?
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
Since I actively joined the blogosphere, way back forever
ago, I’ve gotten to know a lot of other writers. One of the things I love
learning is where they draw their inspiration from.
So I’ve known Kimberly Afe for a while via her blog, and I’m thrilled to be a part of her Blog Tour for The Headhunters Race which was released Jan. 3! She’s all over the blogosphere this week, and having a fabulous giveaway with a chance to win her ebook PLUS a $25 Amazon gift card and other cool prizes. Totally awesome! So if you haven’t heard of it, here’s the blurb:
So I brainstormed this story with my son over a dinner of spicy spaghetti a couple of nights after the idea came to me. We worked out the entire novel: the characters and their motivations, the world, and the details of the race as I frantically wrote it all down. My husband and daughter also helped me brainstorm items that I needed worked out. I then spent a little while playing around with Avene’s voice and then wrote like crazy. I finished in December of 2011. I actually started having critique partners read it in November of 2011 and began querying agents in January of 2012 after more revising. I also entered it into a few popular contests around the blogosphere in early 2012. Then I took a very long break due to life circumstances with hubby’s heart and moving. Early this year I got back into writing. I’d been thinking about self publishing for quite awhile so when querying a few more agents and a handful of publishers didn’t work out, I decided to go for it, and now, 2 1/2 years later, the book is out there! Wahoo!
Congratulations Kimberly! I’m really excited for you and wish all the best for you and your book. The rest of you, go forth and enter below. The last day to enter is Friday, January 10th!
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy Kwanza! Happy Wassail (for you Princess Sofia fans)! Or whatever you might celebrate this season. Hope it’s a good one and that you make lots of happy memories. 🙂
See you next year!
Visiting the William Jewell campus for a Christmas concert, I came across this:
I’d seen pictures of ones in New York City, and was thrilled to see the idea had caught on here in a small Midwest town. If I’d had a book on hand, I’d have totally done an exchange. Still it was fun riffling through the offerings: Suzanne Collins, Janet Evanovich, Maria Schriver, John Grisham, and tons of authors I’d never heard of.
So I recorded this video of my 4 y.o.:
She was very proud of it. But when I showed it to her brothers, 7 y.o. burst out laughing. “Oh! That is so embarrassing for her!”
I worried that she would get all self-conscious, but she was like a duck. The comment slid off her back as she grinned at her video on the computer screen, pride glowing from her.
And it was a flash of inspiration for me. There will always be someone out there ready to criticize. Ready to tell us we are silly (or worse) for doing what we did. For trying to write a book. For daring to think it might be good. For trying to get it published. For having published a book on that subject. Whatever.
But we have to be like my Girlie. We have to love our own work so much that it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Let those criticisms slide off our back and move forward.* We need to be confident in ourselves.
Because guess what? When 4 y.o. asked to watch it again, 7 y.o. caught the bug. “So do I get to make one, too?”
What have you done when someone hit you with a criticism-bomb?
*To be clear, I’m not talking about critique partner or beta-reader comments that were requested. I’m talking about those un-requested, hurtful, put-downs that we can all do without.
As it turns out, NaNoWriMo was very educational. I learned
all kinds of things, which I’m
forcing on sharing with you:
Psst, I’m not really here because I’m hard at work for NaNoWriMo (totally rocking it, btw), BUT I had agreed to do a guest post over at Ink and Angst forever ago, so I’m over there talking about 10,000 hours.
Also, if you haven’t commented on the Blog Tour post for Connie Arnold’s Count 1, 2, 3 With Me, go and do it to be entered into a drawing for three great prizes! 🙂
Hope ya’ll are having a great November!
So yes, I’m really still on break, hard at work on NaNoWriMo (so far so good!), but I had the opportunity to be part of Connie Arnold’s Blog Tour for the release of her latest picture book, Count 1,2,3 With Me. This tour is Also for her new inspiration book, Peaceful Moments of Love and Light. Connie is such a sweet, kind, and supportive author, so I was thrilled to be asked and couldn’t turn it down.
I had the chance to read Connie’s book, which counts from one to ten, painting scenes from the life of a child. It has a fun rhyming text, with bright, vivid images which can easily be counted by children learning to count. As a parent, I love that the text is short, without feeling skimpy. Counting the objects together would easily add length if you were looking to spend more time on a book, but I love finding quick, fun reads that I can read to my kids at night (especially when it is past bedtime–more than likely mine!).
Also, Readers can comment on this post, or on the posts of other stops in the blog tour, to receive entries in a drawing for three prizes:
This is the pumpkin I carved with my family. I am definitely a traditionalist.
So my good friend Susanna Leonard Hill holds these wonderful children’s story-writing contests on her awesome blog (if you haven’t visited, you should) and I never enter. So I mean to rectify that. Here are the rules:
Write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spooky, black cat, and cackle. (black cat can count as 1 word and title not included). So here is my entry:
So wow. Getting it down to 100 words was a fete-and-a-half!
Finally, I wanted to let you know that I will not be around for the month of November. For the first time EVER, I will be doing NaNoWriMo. I’m a touch nervous, but I’ve outlined until I can outline no more, and I’m excited by the idea, so here’s to hoping it all goes well!
For those of you who have done it before, I’d love any hints or suggestions! Otherwise, I will see you on the other side. 🙂