Thursday, January 14, 2010

Times, They Are A Changin’

I’ve been reading some of the hubbub surrounding e-books. Change can indeed be scary for some. I think it’s interesting to see the world of books evolve though. The whole subject got me thinking about e-readers (Kindle and the like).

Do you think that e-readers and the availability of e-books could boost readership in young adults? I know how boys in particular love their electronic devices. Okay maybe the younger crowd, as a whole like the latest gizmos. I’m thinking maybe teen boys would be more likely to read if they could do it on something that felt similar to a gaming device. There’s the wonderful benefit of having over one thousand books in your hand. No one knows what titles you’re reading. The dictionary feature is awesome where kids are concerned; it’s as simple as moving the cursor to the word and the definition displays at the bottom. The Kindle will even read to you, if you choose. With the titles being cheaper, you can afford to buy more.

In short, I think it’s the wave of things to come, like it or not. I think there are definite benefits and they should be realized. I know the e-books are cheaper than printed books. However, they are probably cheaper to produce as well. As authors, we hope for heightened sales of e-books, and I think that’s a possibility in this techno-advanced world of ours.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Balance, Timing and Other Elusive Things

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life thus far, it’s that the majority of it comes down to timing. I’ve also found that balance is an important factor. Both of these pieces of information, I never would have paid attention to when I was younger. Similar to the adage that ‘time goes fast’. You never truly understand these things until you’ve journeyed a little farther down life’s path.

Of all things, I find balance to be the most precarious. How to give enough energy to those things that truly need it, and to throw a mental roadblock in front of those that can wait. I love writing and enjoy spending my time doing it. It is my thing that belongs to me, what I do for my “me” time. I would write everyday if I could squeeze in time to do so. However, like everyone else, I have other issues requiring my attention, and it’s not always realistic for me to write every day. I work full-time, single and only parent to an amazing teenager, I have family ties and the list sometimes never seems to end. I’ve learned to accept my timing and manage my own balancing act. I think I have it down pretty well at this point. Please ignore the laundry and the gargantuan dust bunnies.

I’ve learned that each of our journeys as writers, is drastically different from one another’s. If I don’t write every day, it doesn’t make me any less a writer or any better a parent. If I wrote every day for eight hours per day, I’m not sure it would make me a better writer; I think I would simply produce work at a faster pace. I believe whatever vehicle we use on our journey is fine, as long as we keep chugging along. Now if I could just work on my powers of persuasion.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pirates, Princesses and Cowboys, Oh My!

Remember when you were a kid and you would choose what you wanted to be? Sometimes it was a non-job type thing, such as a pirate or princess, which I guess, arguably, people do. I don’t know that I really consider them jobs though. Maybe you were more of a realist and chose something like doctor, architect, or writer.
I decided to poll some friends of mine and see what it is they dreamed of being when they were much younger. It was an added benefit to see how much everyone loved reminiscing about their childhood plans. I received some great answers.
Among them were actress, jockey, Wonder Woman, professional football player, veterinarian, architect, marine biologist, and my all-time favorite, stage-coach driver. My own interests were an artist or writer. Out of all the people in my informal poll, there is one person who has done the thing he most wanted to do as a kid. Even me, I’m neither a professional writer nor artist, when it comes down to it.
It’s a little tough to wield the lasso of truth into adulthood, I understand. I know our visions change, mature and grow as we do. But in some ways isn’t it wonderful to capture that pure joy and intent that you have as a child. Some of the people do things related to their dreams of long ago. For instance, they work with animals, they scuba dive in their spare time, and they write novels, blogs, etc. However, I can say that I know a real live cowboy who’s living out a boy’s dream.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Direct to Publisher vs. Agent Represented

Over the holidays, I conducted a little experiment. I bought two middle-grade novels. Book number one is fairly popular and was sent directly to a publisher. Book number two is also popular, but the author is represented by an agent; one of my top choice agents. The second was published by a big house, I will say that. I wanted to see if there were many noticeable differences between them.

I like both books a great deal. They both pulled me in immediately and kept me reading at a steady pace. I was glad I read both of them. However, I did find some definite differences.

Book one contained tons of adverbs. Not just a few, they were littered throughout the entire novel. There was also extreme use of the word “had”. I counted nine on one page. Okay, I was really paying attention and I specifically chose that page as my example because of its extreme “had” usage. It was overly used though. There was also some echoing here and there. The book had it’s strengths, to be sure. It had bold images and a storyline that I absolutely loved.

Book number two was very professionally written. I couldn’t find herds of “hads” or an abundance of adverbs. It was polished. It too was a great story. The character development was superb. The imagery was good. It didn’t have a storyline that I loved though. I liked it, I just didn't like it-like it.

In conclusion, I loved the story in book one. In some ways, I lost a little respect for the author though. In book two, I could appreciate a well-crafted story. I liked the characters, liked the story, but didn’t fall in love with it. So there were differences and some of them even surprised me.

Poetry: Words in the Night

Words in the Night

Late at night while trying to sleep
The wind-chimes making their soft tinkling music
I feel the words surrounding me
They beg to be committed to paper
Stories reach out to me
Grab at me like greedy hands
Introspective grow I as the night goes on
At last I take pen in hand
Knowing I will know no solace
Until the whole of the gluttonous
Words are scrawled on paper
Only then shall I know any rest

Poetry: Tangerine Laundry

My first villanelle. A tricky style to write.

Tangerine Laundry

I wish all my clothes were tangerine
Watching them tumbling in the washer this time
reminds me of peaches and cream.
Floating around as if in a dream.
Intermingling with the soapsuds, so sublime
I wish all my clothes were tangerine.
I wonder what it all might mean.
Orange makes my skin look flawless and fine.
Reminds me of peaches and cream.
I suppose it would look peculiar, I mean
to see only orange clothes all the time.
I wish all my clothes were tangerine.
It might cause a controversy or make a scene.
Maybe up the social ladder I could climb.
Reminds me of peaches and cream.
I sit in a laundromat stuck on this theme,
feverently trying to make this rhyme.
I wish all my clothes were tangerine,
Reminds me of peaches and cream

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