When I was a kid in Europe, I remember bookstores were almost luxury destinations. I would walk into one and feel overwhelmed and awed, and I’d touch the volumes with utmost reverence. Books were expensive. All of them, except for a handful of children’s books and pocket atlases, were hardbound with gorgeous covers that were as much works of art as the words held within. They were also a universe unto themselves. Getting an autograph, or even running into an author of any kind was almost unheard of. Seeing one made into a movie was a Very Big Deal.
My great uncle would collect books just to show them off on his shelves. His brother, my grandfather, on the other hand, would borrow them from him to read, because he loved the written word, but couldn’t afford to buy the books he wanted. My mom had entire shelves filled with series by her favorites, all black spines with white text, and a clear number on the bottom indicating its order in the series. She never touched them after they were read, except to wipe dust off the tops.
In the last two weeks or so, I seem to have gone into one of my philosophical moods. I was reading a book in a genre I used to devour back when I read two or three books a week. I don’t do it anymore, but back then, I would dive into a specific genre and read every book an author has ever released in it. Then I’d go to related books, and repeat the process with another author in that same genre. It was total immersion in a particular subject matter, and for the longest time I lived and breathed it.
That changed when my me-time shrank considerably and I refocused my energies into writing instead. I’d still read here and there, but nowhere near as much as before, and definitely not one single genre. When my reading pattern changed, I noticed a distinct change in my general mindset as well.
Has that ever happened to you? You read a brilliant fantasy adventure and suddenly you swagger down the street like you have an elven sword strapped to your side and everyone is a potential enemy. Your back is just a little straighter, your thoughts just a little braver. For a while, as you bask in the book afterglow, you’re a total magickal badass.
I’ve realized recently that this happens to me a lot.
You have seen me post on this blog about the ups and downs of being a published author. I’ve shared some excellent free and low cost resources, talked about my journey to get published, even described my foray into advertising. This is a follow-up post about the last.
The thing about any passionate endeavor, be it art, travel, culinary wonders, or business endeavors, is that in order to stay on top of your game, you have to keep improving. Keep learning, trying new things, seeking out new information, tips, tricks, inspiration, whathaveyou. I’m one of those people whose curiosity tends to rule their lives. Sometimes it’s useful, other times it distracts me from more important things I should be doing (where I would argue that this is one of the most important things I could do).
When my Facebook ad campaign failed, I wanted to know why. What follows is a long post, breaking down the psychology of (someone else’s) advertising.
Anyone else get paranoid when they’re editing (or self-editing) a manuscript and there are almost no corrections on a page? I am working my way through Blood Hunt, going on 16 chapters now, and so far all I’ve been fixing are contractions and a word choice here or there. I won’t lie, it had me worried until I remembered I’d already done a hard edit of this part when I hit the halfway point. Still, it somehow doesn’t seem right to leave a page without red ink.
Last week was my four-year anniversary as a published novelist. I want to thank everyone again for coming to hang out with me at the chat party. If you haven’t received your winnings yet, you will very soon. 😉 Four years can seem very long at times, but then you look at the big picture, and it’s really just a drop in the bucket. It’s not all flowers and rainbows, either. More like a crazy roller coaster ride with a schizophrenic at the controls. You learn a lot along the way. I mean, you read all the advice online of what to do and what to avoid, but even when you think, “Pfft, that’s common sense,” it’s very different when it actually happens to you.
But this isn’t about lessons. It’s about the experience itself, and what every author out there has felt (or should feel) at one point or another.
Ask a hundred different people what makes a great story, and you’ll get a hundred different answers. That’s because no two people read alike. For that matter, no two authors write exactly alike. And many of us don’t exactly see eye to eye. But odds are, if you ask enough of the right “Why?” questions, the answer to what makes a great story boils down to the balance between three things: Plot, Characters, and Delivery. Now, I’m not saying this as a writer. I’m saying it as a reader. And as a reader, I have a few opinions on this matter.