Monthly Archives: August 2015

An Exercise In Sensory Imagery

(Life took a wild turn this weekend past and left me exhausted so I’m reblogging this post from my home blog. – Jesi)

An Exercise in Sensory Imagery

The story I’m currently writing is taking an emotional toll. It’s a hard write because it’s fairly personal, and with the research I’m still continuing to do for it, even though it’s just a short story, I’m really having a rough go with the subject. I have to often take breaks so I don’t drown in the emotional current of the piece. I’ve also begun to prepare myself before I begin by doing some practice writing exercises. In fact, I’ve gone back to basics. So, how about a writing lesson today?

It’s a simple one: all you have to do is sit down and write a paragraph using sound imagery. Think of a noisy place and describe it. You might find yourself using alliteration (same letter or sounds at the beginning of adjacent or connected words) and onomatopoeia (words that sound like what they are-e.g., sizzle, crash).

Don’t worry; this is just for fun. No grades or criticisms. Just free write for twenty minutes.

Here is my practice piece:

It is three in the afternoon on a sweltering summer day. Somewhere, in an air-conditioned house, a dishwasher hums and sloshes its contents into cleanliness while an industrious little bird chirps and splashes in the birdbath outside the kitchen window. A delivery truck rumbles by on its way to some unknown destination. It seems like such a peaceful day, with the sun shining and all relatively quiet in the suburbs. Then a door slams. CRASH! Baby elephants galumph down the stairs, pictures rattling on the walls in the wake of the beasties, and immediate cries of “MOM, can I play Minecraft?”, “MOM, can I have some cookies?”, “MOM, he hit me!” resound through a house in what can only be described as the equivalent of a grenade exploding. Soon, too soon, pips and pops, bashes, slashes, and angry riotous conversation issues from the family room. From somewhere nearby a sigh of resignation escapes a throat but it is barely audible among the cacophony. A woman sits at a table, pens and paper and other writing implements scattered around, and marvels for the umpteenth time at the genius of Mother Nature’s survival instincts, which causes a mother to strongly attach to her young.

 

What can you write using sound imagery? Feel free to share in the comments.

x Jesi

Amazon Author Page – by Cedar Sanderson

(Today I’m reblogging a post by my friend Cedar Sanderson over at Mad Genius Club. She has some very good advice for all writers.)

Author page front end

It’s come to my attention that some of you… *looks over her glasses at the desks in front of her* are neglecting a powerful and easy marketing tool. I’m talking about the Amazon Author Page.

Listen up, class, because this is so simple, and it can really help.

Imagine you are a reader who has just learned about a new author. They tried a book, and they want more. This is what we all aspire to. But when they search Amazon for the author’s name, they find very little information, out of order books, no clue as to the rest of the series…

Let’s make it easy for them and collect all the information in one place, shall we? In the process, we may be able to take a casual reader and draw them closer to becoming a fan, someone who will interact with an author and pass the word on to others about that author. Again, let’s make that easy on them. The less clicks, the better. In addition, you see the yellow follow button on that image of my page? When readers click that, Amazon notifies them as soon as I release a new book. It’s like a mailing list, without all the work and time and cost.

Sure, you may have a website, or a blog, or both. Facebook fan page, even. But the Author Page on Amazon has a huge advantage. All the stuff you have for sale is right there. And it’s sortable by publication date, etc. Also, if you don’t have a website, this can be a great place to send people who want to learn more about you (and buy your books). If you’ll recall a while back I mentioned using QR codes on promotional material like bookmarks and business cards, this is one place I send the QR code to, the Amazon Author Page.

You can set yours up from the back end, at the Author Central. If you weren’t already aware of that, you should familiarize yourself with it. There are important tools here, like rank tracking, sales graphs, and all your reviews in one place. Today I’m going to talk about the basics, though.

When you first login to Author Central, you get a homepage with tips and news articles. You want to click on the Author Page tab at the top, and start filling in the blanks. I’m going to tackle the biography in a minute, so we’ll start with the blog section. If you don’t have a regular blog, this can also be your author website. If you do twitter, then you can add that, although there seems to be some uncertainty about the display of the twitter feed on Amazon at the moment.

author page

 

Two important things are the photo, and the bio. I know that most authors hate both of these. Unfortunately, I’m going to tell you that you need both. No, you can’t get away with a cute pet photo unless you only write books about cute animals. Ideally, you will have a professional headshot to put in here. At the very least, a good, crisp, amateur shot will do. Don’t use a grainy cell phone image. Don’t use an old photo that was taken 20 years ago – we can tell. That shirt hasn’t been in style since at least the 80s. (yes, I am thinking of a real example). If you cannot stomach having your face in public, or have reasons that make it unwise, as an alternative you could use art from a book cover or series you write. Not a book cover itself, that’s limiting. But a piece of professional level (not a child’s drawing, unless, again, you are writing children’s books) art would work.

The biography. I suspect all of us dread these. Where to start? How much is too much? How much is too little? I didn’t write mine. I have other versions I did write, but my First Reader wrote mine (and in return, I wrote his) and if you have a partner or friend who is skilled with words, this can be a reasonable compromise. You don’t feel self-conscious about puffing yourself up, and you have something to put out there. How long? Well, as long as it needs to be. You don’t need to include a lot of personal information, but some makes you seem more human to your readers. I recommend injecting a touch of humor into the bio, if you can manage it, or if you must, make it over-the-top funny. You’ll have better reactions to a warmth of personality showing through than to dry facts.

I have three bios I cut and paste as needed – the long one written for me, a shorter version I wrote which is about 200 words long, and a very short 50 word version I originally created for a convention guide and keep as it’s handy. If you’re totally stuck, ask in the comments, and myself, or someone will help out with it.

The bio is just as important as the blurb of a book. Only here, you are the product. You’re selling yourself (hike that skirt up and show a little leg, if you dare…) and you shouldn’t sell yourself short. You are uniquely you, with the voice to back it up, and with some work, that will shine through in the bio.

Finally, make sure that all your books are properly connected to you by clicking on the Books tab. Also, make sure that your series are marked clearly in KDP because Amazon will helpfully link them on their sales listings if they are. Do not, for goodness sakes, list yourself as an editor on your own book if you are the author. Unless your book has multiple illustrations inside, don’t list your cover artist as the illustrator (you can, and should, accredit them in the front matter of your book, instead). Don’t list your editor as an editor in the KDP listings unless it’s a collection of some kind and they were instrumental in pulling the stories together. Ahem… this soap box just appeared under me… *steps down*

Go forth, children, and having learned your lesson, implement it. I want to see links in the comments!

I’m Still Reading

As I noted in yesterday’s post, real life has been a bitch the last week or so. Because of that, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. This has been reading for pleasure, to escape the problems that have been beating me over the head. So, John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series has been burning up my Kindle and I’ve been loving his take on the zombie apocalypse. I’ll continue the reviews and thoughts on those book over the next few days.

Today’s post is sort of the brainchild of a conversation I had yesterday with some friends who love reading and good stories as much as I do. I know, I know. Folks have different definitions of what “good” means. For me, it is a story that entertains me. Especially at times like this, I want a story that will transport me to a different time and place. I want characters I can care about and a plot that intrigues me. It doesn’t have to make me think deep thoughts but, if it does, that’s fine — as long as it entertains. Without that entertainment factor, I’m not going to keep reading.

And that brings me to another series of books that I’ve loved and have re-read I don’t know how many times. That series is David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. I’ll admit, the series is getting a bit long in the tooth and I’m not as big of a fan of the books Weber has co-authors on. But that’s just me. I still will buy the mainstream books in hard cover, something I very rarely do for any author these days.

On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington) is the first book in the Honor Harrington series. It was also my first exposure to Honor. Honor is like many of us, and it doesn’t matter whether we are male or female. She is confident as an officer but, as a person, she is riddled with insecurities. I identified and understood a lot of what made Honor tick, especially early into the series. She felt herself the ugly duckling because she was tall and gangly and, in her own words, had a face like a horse (paraphrasing). That wasn’t what the world saw. But it was what she saw when she looked in her mirror. She saw the adolescent Honor, not the grown woman. Extremely shy, the victim of an attempted sexual assault when she was younger, she had baggage that carried baggage.

In other words, she was human and I liked that about her.

I’ve seen the complaints that Honor is nothing but a male character with breasts. Why? Because she is a star ship captain and she is a whiz at tactics and she manages to win almost every battle.

Big frigging deal. She also is female enough, no human enough, to have weaknesses. She hurts, deeply, when the people under her command are injured or killed. She has a temper that resembles a star going nova, something I can certainly identify with. She has her blind spots and her weaknesses. Heck, anyone who doesn’t drink coffee is far from perfect.  😉

One of my favorite scenes in any of the Honor books is the one where she has finally screwed up the courage to go on a date. This is a very big deal for her because she has never quite dealt with the emotional scars left by the attempted rape. Add in her mental picture of herself and the very firm conviction that she is the ugly duckling and it is all her best friend, Michelle Henke, can do to convince her to not only go on the date but to do something as arcane and foreign to Honor as wear makeup. The scene where Mike helps her with hair and makeup is both humorous and, to a degree, heartbreaking. For those of us who have ever been insecure in our personal lives, this scene can really hit home.

But the best part of the series? To me, it is seeing Honor grow as a person and as an officer. Slowly, she begins to open herself to others outside of her family and Mike Henke. She suffers loss and comes damned close to flushing her career down the space toilet as a result. She is a woman — and an officer — who feels things very deeply and who holds a very strict code of conduct. When she breaks that code, or comes close to it, she suffers. As a friend, she is someone you would trust at your back, no matter what. As an enemy, well, you don’t want her as an enemy.

In my mind, watching the development of Honor over the course of the series has been a lot of fun. Her growth as a person and an officer is one of the reasons I’ve continued to follow the mainline series even if some of the shiny has worn off the plots. It is also an example of how you an put a message — in this case, belief in yourself and being flexible enough to learn and grow, as well as a number of others — into your fiction without beating your reader over the head with it. I highly recommend the Honor Harrington series, especially the early books where you can see Honor turning into the confident officer and woman she is in the later books.

(Cross-posted from Nocturnal-Lives)

The Color Purple. Or Red Or Blue Or…

MAN CAVE

I’m building a man cave. A writing cave, really. But I’m a man, so it qualifies as a man cave, too. It’s a third garage in our new home, right now, but we only have two cars so now it’s mine to do with as I wish. I’m looking forward to finishing it ‘cause right now I’m on the couch balancing my laptop on my knees and I’m not getting much done. I know a good writer should be able to write anywhere. Well, I must not be a good writer.

I tried working at the kitchen table but that was no good either. The atmosphere just wasn’t right, and those kitchen chairs were killing my back after sitting there for too long. And I find that if I sit on the couch and get too comfortable I start dozing off. This one’s too hard and this one’s too soft. I feel like Goldilocks. So, I’m going to set myself up with something just right.

Besides a good seat for my cave, what I also need to pick is a good color. Color has a definite psychological impact and triggers certain responses in us. So, for my writing cave I need a good writing color. A hue that gets the imagination going and keeps your mind sharp.

We used some red in our dining room. Looks good. It’s the color of passion and very stimulating. That’s why, of course, it’s been the traditional color of bordellos. But no, I can’t see myself sitting and writing in a red room. Unless I start writing erotic novels. They do sell well, though. Hmmm…I remember that I was thinking of using the pen name of Hugh B. Hornee and trying it.

Oh, forget it, never mind that!

Anyway, my daughter loves purple. Leonardo Da Vinci said that purple increases the mind’s meditative abilities. It supposedly also has mystical powers and even generates healing. I’m sorry, though, sweetheart (and Leo), I need to write and not meditate. And nothing hurts at the moment, I’m happy to say.

Forget green. The original owners of this house had painted much of the interior of the place a dark version of that particular color. At night I could almost hear the sounds of jungle animals and the distant thumping of native drums. Green was out of the question.

There’s yellow. I actually started painting the room yellow. A pale yellow. It’s supposed to be a high energy color and stimulates the mental process. But I stopped. I didn’t feel my energy process being stimulated. All I felt was that the room was looking ugly as hell!

So, blue. I’m going with blue. A very nice and relaxing blue. A calming blue. The color of lakes and the color of the sky. I feel like writing just thinking about it.

So, hopefully, I’ll soon be sitting in a perfectly comfortable chair (but not so comfortable that it makes me fall asleep) surrounded by calming blue walls and typing away at my next epic. I anticipate getting a lot of writing done in my blue man cave. I’d better, or my wife is going to want to know why we wasted so much money on that damn room!

Back to School

Today in Texas was that day, both dreaded and anticipated by many a parent: Back to School. I am a mother of three elementary kids so I made the mad scramble to get them all to school on time and (mostly) awake. As I watched them all head off to their classrooms, I remembered the excitement I always had for first day back at school when I was growing up.  Sometimes I miss being in a classroom. Fortunately though I don’t have to miss learning, because you never stop learning.

As adults we don’t always have that structured learning, but it isn’t hard to seek out new ways to learn. For a writer like myself there are certainly classes available both online and in person. Jesi “schooled us” a little for free in yesterday’s post (compared with the “James Patterson Master Class Weiting Course”).

What is great about being as a writer though, is that I am not required to take a certain number of classes before I can write. While I love being in a classroom, writing can be learned in lots of ways. I enjoy reading books about improving my writing craft. I like to read my fellow writers talk about their craft in this and other blogs. I like seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter. I find it is easy enough to find ways to learn, even without the benefit of a traditional classroom.

There is still a part of me that wants to sit in the front of the class (yes, I was that girl) with my sharpened pencils, my new spiral notebook and a perfect pink eraser. Instead I will be content with the many opportunities I have to be “back to school” myself – without the fear of being sent to detention.

What about you? Do Back to Schools days make you nostalgic? Are they just annoying and fill your Facebook feed with all the first day pictures? What do you do to keep learning? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Thabks for reading & have a great week!

~CJS

Habits of “Successful” Writers, or the Secrets That Sell a MasterClass

Firstly, I have NOT taken James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing. Please take note of that.

Secondly, I know people who have paid Mr. Patterson for his time and videos.

Thirdly, I am about to tell you what Mr. Patterson (and other successful authors) knows about being a “successful” writer.

Are you ready?

It’s all about developing good writing habits.

There. That’s it. That’s what you are paying Mr. Patterson to learn. Yeah, $75-$100 just to learn that. I’m not saying he isn’t worth listening to, or that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In fact, the consensus of what I’ve heard and read about his MasterClass is that most people think they got their money’s worth. He talks about storytelling, not specifically writing. He discusses characters and dialogue and outlining and action/suspense. He believes in hard work and discipline. But not necessarly style. You aren’t setting out to write a classic novel, just one that sells. Obviously, Mr. Patterson, whose name is everywhere on the bookshelves, knows how to sell a book.

But you have to remember, James Patterson started out like any other writer. He had to develop certain traits. So, what are these traits? Google “habits of successful writers” and you get a long list of sites telling you what makes a successful writer. Guess what the first one (almost always) is?

  1. Write! Write daily.

As if you didn’t already know this one. But it’s the most highly effective trait to cultivate. Write write write. Even if it’s just for a few minutes every day. This is the one you MUST be strict with yourself about. Writing every day makes you a better writer. It is the difference between being a good writer or a great one. Even if you aren’t James Patterson Successful, writing every day is essential to your own personal success.

2. Read.

Read often. Read in the genre you are going to be writing in. This, too, is essential. You learn the tropes of your chosen genre. Examine the sentences, the dialogue, the character development. Pay attention to the opening sentences and how well the story holds your interest. You can learn more from reading than you can by paying someone to tell you the same information you are already absorbing from a story. Read good writers. Read great writers. Read bad writers. You will learn what to use and what to avoid.

3. Keep some kind of writing material handy.

You never know when an idea is going to strike. The most handy tool today is your mobile phone. If you own a smart phone, you have in your hand the most readily available notetaker/organizer/idea keeper. There are apps for everything. Download a voice recorder app and speak your ideas into an easily downloadable file and transfer them to your computer via Dragon software which automatically translates your voice into the written word. If you are old school, carry a pen and paper around. But keep it with you. Those ideas can happen out of the blue.

4. Join a community writing group.

I can’t tell you how great a circle of other writers is at keeping you inspired, encouraged, supported. Writing may be a solitary experience but you aren’t alone. There are so many other aspiring successful writers out there and being a part of this group is a huge boost for your esteem and well-being. They are a wealth of information as well. Got a problem with one of your scenes? Someone can help. Having trouble writing dialogue? Someone in your group probably writes great dialogue. Find them and make friends. Plus, other writers “get” it. They understand, and will often enable your crazy.

5. Nurture your inner schizophrenic.

I LOVED this one when I read it on one site. The person who wrote it was talking about how as a writer you have to be two people with your writing: a dancer and an ax murderer. The dancer agonizes over how interesting the story is while worrying about grammatical errors, etc. The ax murderer brings a cold eye to the finished work.But I translated it into being more than that. You have to embrace your crazy, neurotic side. So what if you have conversations with imaginary people in your head? You’re a writer, you’re allowed to be eccentric. Just make sure you write everything down. And that person who just cut in front of you or is too perky in the mornings? Let your inner Dexter take care of them in your story. You could use a psychotic character in your story, right? Just, you know, don’t actually REALLY act like a homocidal maniac.

6. Develop a thick skin.

You are going to receive criticism. You are going to fail at something. Not everyone is going to like your writing. Let it go and move on, gracefully. Don’t let the trolls get to you because a troll’s job is to discourage you and keep you from succeeding. And just remember what happens to trolls…

“The big billy goat  flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade, and after that he went up to the hillside. There the billy goats got so fat they were scarcely able to walk home again. And if the fat hasn’t fallen off them, why, they’re still fat; and so,

Snip, snap, snout.
This tale’s told out.”

Will these habits make you successful? Obviously, not as successful as James Patterson who also had help along the way from knowing how to sell himself and having a good agent and taking advantage of his advertising knowledge.

They WILL make you a better writer and that’s half the battle.

And guess what? I just told you all that for free.

Jesi

P.S. Add any other tips and habits in the comments. 🙂

 

When the voices go silent

Thursday, Joe wrote about listening to the voices. But what do you do when the characters who have been talking to you go silent? You know they’re there. You can see them standing in the back of your head, snarky smiles on their imaginary faces, shaking their heads and refusing to tell you what comes next in your novel or short story. You try banging their heads against the metaphorical wall but they simply smile and, in their best David Copperfield voice, say, “Thank you, sir. May I have some more?”

Or maybe it is their Kevin Bacon imitation from Animal House?

Either way, they are snarky and stubborn and most definitely not talking to you and you have a story to finish. So what do you do?

Every author has a different way of dealing with this particular problem. Some go for long walks or hike up the sides of mountains. Some start working on another story, knowing that the characters in question will get jealous and start talking, usually very loudly. Others read or clean house or go shopping. Me? I find some chore around the house that lets me bang a hammer and wield a saw, dig holes or haul heavy bags of something or other.

In each instance, the activity is such that you aren’t thinking about your work. Sometimes you aren’t thinking about anything except the task at hand — especially if using sharp implements. What each of these activities have in common is that they let the story percolate in the back of your where the problems with the story can work themselves out without you stressing over it.

Yes, problems.

That’s usually why a story comes to a grinding halt when you’re writing it. Those problems can be real — your plot took a left turn and you’ve written yourself into a corner — or something almost every writer experiences as some point in time. You’ve reached that point in the story where it is no longer “exciting” to write. Some of us struggle with the middle of a story. Others balk when it comes to the ending. Whatever the reason, you have to push through, but sometimes that means stepping back for a few hours or days and letting the problem work itself out in your head.

But, this is where you have to take control again. You don’t just leave it there indefinitely. It is very easy to do just that when you are at the point in the book where you usually balk (for me, the middle). It is even easier to do when you suddenly realize that what you’ve been writing doesn’t feel like what you’ve written before. This usually happens when your craft has taken a leap forward. It is scary because the comfortable feel your writing once had is gone. It will come back. But you have to recognize what’s happened and run with it. (This is where a good Alpha reader comes in handy. Someone you trust to tell you if you are going wrong somewhere along the way. They see your work more clearly than you do.)

Anyway, I’ve rambled on. The short version is sometimes the voices go silent. It’s up to you to figure out why and to poke and prod at them until they start talking again.

So, what do you do when the voices no longer talk to you?

Customer Disservice

Customer Service 2

 

Last week, I wrote about the art of twisting words for advertising. This week, I want to write about the art of language in customer service or, in many cases, the lack there of.

Most people in their 40s or older, I’m sure would agree that customer service has devolved over the years. With the invention of recorded messages, holds, phone menus and transfers, the customer is no longer treated with respect or, for that matter, as a human being.

On the phone, we are routinely bounce around and expected to be patient during the process because, we are “a valued customer.” Even in person, we are asked to be understanding as we are bumped from department to department and instructed, like children, to wait patiently before we are allowed to give them our money.

But, what gets me is that we, as customers, accept the abuse and are looked upon as deviants and an annoyance should we dare to complain. The customer service people always have a way of explaining how we, the customer, are wrong and how we need to be more tolerant, especially when they are understaffed – which always seems to be the case these days. I love, for instance, how company phone recordings state that they are “experiencing unusually high call volume” every time I happen to phone in.

Just this week, I walked into a storefront of a large phone company to ask about starting service with them. For at least 10 minutes, I tried to get a representative to answer my questions. But, even though they have been busy, they directed me to someone else. Once I got to the right person and started waiting until he finished with the person before me, the representative did not even glance at me to acknowledge that I was in the right place or that he would be right with me. So, I stepped away to ask another representative who wasn’t busy. Anyway, they ended up skipping over me and were annoyed that I was not standing in the right place, to begin with. The fact that I threatened to leave could not have mattered less to them, so I did. I mean, how dare I not know or follow (their) company procedures, right?

What makes it worse, however and as I get back to my point, is how language is perverted into an Orwellian-type of double talk to place blame on the customer. With a few surviving exceptions, the customer is usually blamed for their service issues.

In fact, just to wrap things up for this posting, I used to work in a customer service phone center for a major airline from 1989 to 2004. At the beginning of my tenure, we were trained to do all possible to help each caller and that the customer was always right. During just those 15 years, the direction from management had changed to “get the caller off your line as quickly as possible to take the next call.”

 

Listen To The Voices

WRITERS BLOCK

Oh yes, they can be mean, those voices. They’ll lead you down the primrose path and then, suddenly, they’re gone. Like a tribe of helpful desert nomads who have agreed to take you across the Sahara. You wake up one morning and they’ve abandoned you to the vast, endless, sea of sand. You find yourself alone. They didn’t even bother to leave you a compass.

They come back, though. At least, they have for me. But I’m aware of the fact that there have been those extreme cases where they didn’t return for years. I can imagine that would be a bit of a problem if your writing is paying the mortgage.

But, most of the time they just leave for a while. Question is; do they really leave or do we stop listening to them? I think, sometimes, what happens is that we stop paying attention to them and head down our own path. As if we know better than the voices. They were doing fine but somewhere along the way we decided that the voices were wrong. The voices hate that.

I wrote a story, a while back, that involved a character going to a gypsy camp to steal a potion that his friend desperately needed. The friend could not go because he knew the gypsy witch who had the potion and he knew that she would not give it to him. They had a history, you see. It was going great and the words were just flowing out of me. I was really in the zone on that one. I got to the point in the story where he was about to get the potion and I decided that the story needed some action. “No,” the voices insisted. “It’s not that kind of story.” I told them they were wrong. I decided that he was going to snatch the vile from the sorceress and there would be a thrilling chase through the woods on horseback with whips slashing and guns blasting. But, no matter how I tried, it wasn’t working. I just could not get it to where I wanted it. I stopped writing and paced up and down, complaining to my wife that the voices weren’t talking to me. It was their fault, of course. She told me to let it go for a while.

“Forget it for tonight,” she said in her infinite wisdom. And I did. We watched a movie and I went to bed.

The next day I went back to it. I was ready to listen to the voices, again. “Okay,” I sheepishly said.  “What do you want me to do?”

It was simple. The sorceress would just give him the vile. She’s a witch. She knows why he’s there. And for whom. “How did you plan to get it?” she asks him. “Grab it and run? Your throat would have been cut before you even left my wagon!” And, laughing, she simply hands it to him! It was perfect. I also realized that the action scene would have taken a lot away from the surprise ending. Yes, the voices had been right.

That hasn’t been the only time I’ve tried to ignore them, I must admit. There have been others, and yes, it always went badly. Always I returned to the original direction. I’m getting better at listening to them, though.

Now, there are times, of course, when we can’t hear the voices because we have too many other things on our mind. Real life has a habit of interfering with our writing. That can’t be helped.

But sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck in the middle of the desert with no oasis in sight, only endless sand dunes. Most likely its because you tried to tell the nomads which way to go. They hate that.

6 Things Every Booklover Knows

Since Jesi wrote yesterday’s post on how you have to write to be a writer, and my writing life hasn’t been at it’s strongest these last few weeks, I chose to make today’s post about another vital component in the life of a writer. Yep, you guessed from the title, it’s reading.

Stephen King has one of my favorite quotes on the interconnectedness of being a good writer and being a committed reader.

Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.

– Stephen King

Of course I was a booklover long before I became a writer. I loved books for as long as I can remember. I can remember wanting to run away and live in a museum when I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in elementary school. I can remember my favorite part of the day when my fifth grade teacher would sit and read to us from Shel Silverstein’s collections of poems. I can remember sitting in my sophomore English class, reading silently with all the others, but forgetting where I was as I cried reading the end of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. I remember the all the joys of discovering new favorite authors and series along the way and the accompanying thrill of falling into new worlds and lives of interesting characters.

So what does every true booklover know about themselves and the greatness that is being a bibliophile?

1) There is NO SUCH THING as too many books.

Any true booklover knows that it’s impossible to have too many books. Our TBR list (to be read list) is always overflowing. Our bookshelves are always crammed full and double stacked. Our storage spaces frequently have more books that couldn’t fit on the bookshelves. Our friends don’t like to help us move because we are “book people” – thus we have many boxes that are super heavy. We download books on our kindles. We carry books around with us when we go to the doctor or the mechanic or the Sunday morning breakfast place that always has a wait. We ask our friends for book recommendations. We get books for our birthday or Christmas presents because our friend’s know we will love them. We love to spend time at the bookstore looking for something new, even when we have a hundred other books we still have yet to read. We can just never have too many books. 🙂

2) Just one more chapter almost NEVER means just one more chapter.

We stay up way too late, way too often because we just have to see what happens next. We tell ourselves just one more chapter, but we know this is a lie. We read one more chapter and then we know we need another and another and when the writer is really good we have to finish it all. Being swept away, as King says, is one of the joys of reading because even if we can’t literally escape our lives, we can disappear into another life whenever we want to pick up a good book.

3) Emotional trauma at the end of a good book or series is REAL.

When we find a good book or series, we have the inevitable conflict where we both want to finish it, but also really don’t want to finish it. We can’t wait to find a new favorite book or series but then when it is over, we wish we could find it again for the first time. We are reluctant to leave a world or a character so much so that we frequently have to return, sometimes again and again, but still the sadness of no new material like it can be heartbreaking.

4) The book is ALWAYS better.

We booklovers know that the book is always better than a movie or TV adaptation. We know it is hard to let go of the sheer volume of detail in the books, the ideas we have about those details, and the attachment we have to all the details. A movie cuts a major character. Unforgiveable. A TV show takes the series in a whole different direction that the books have taken you. Not unexpected but frequently disappointing. However faithful the movie/TV/whatever is to the books, the books are always better.

5) A good book can come in ALL shapes and sizes and formats.

Booklovers know that it doesn’t really matter if the book is traditionally printed, independently printed, electronically printed, 1000 pages, 5o pages, paperback, trade paperback, hard cover or coffee table sized, we love them all. Sure we may have our preference, maybe we even hold strong opinions about which are better than the other, but we book lovers will always come together on that big thing we can all agree upon, a lifelong love of books.

6) A good book CAN change your life.

We booklovers know the power that books have had in our lives. We have seen the impact books have had on those around us. We find truth in books that we may not be able to find in other places. We seek comfort in the books we read. We laugh, we cry, we get angry, and we get scared. We get new information, we get new ideas, and we get inspiration from the pages of good books. We find others who share the same love. We find places we want to explore, foods we would like to taste, and things we’d like try. We learn about ourselves and others. And sometimes we find a book has changed our life.

Are you a booklover? Any of these sound like you? Is there something I’ve left off the list? Please tell me about it in the comments. Thanks for reading and have a good week!

~CJS