Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adventure Mantra 2011

Soon it will be 2011, an entire decade from the maelstrom of 9/11. The creator of facebook has been crowned man of the year. Email is rendered uncool, as it's all about texting, apps and iPads. The economy is creaking uphill, and the book industry is in a chaotic swirl. As Vampire lit is trending out, Aronofsky's luminous film, Black Swan cements the trending in of magic realism, and the subsequent blending of horror and magical realism. Conan's back, and his holiday set has been designed by a freaky New Agey guy living in the California desert and sporting a beard and a shalwar kameez.
Life in the good ole US of A. Weirdness, color and adventure.

Which brings me to thinking about dreams and wishes for 2011. I'm not really interested in New Year's resolutions, as they tend to be dropped after a couple of weeks. I'm thinking more along the lines of an overarching dream.

Adventure! Go places that fire up your imagination and inspire your writing. For me, that's traveling to places less familiar to Americans. For me, it was India, Russia, and now China. In 2011 it may be Istanbul. Take a notebook and fill it with sketches, ramblings, observations.

Pamper yourself between stints of hard work. Go for that massage, that spa visit, a day hike, a leisurely bike ride with friends.

Make a new writer friend. Have lunch, dinner, or a cuppa joe. Establish a pen-pal back and forth. Exchange ideas!

Subscribe to a foreign online paper. The Shanghai Daily? The Guardian? Expand your tight circle of where you get your info.

Make a gratitude list of all of your accomplishments of 2010. Don't fall into the trap of thinking about what you didn't accomplish. For a warning on this, check out Kelly Hashway's great post on Finding Balance:

Above all, don't take yourself so darn seriously! Have fun with what you do.

Seek adventure, take calculated risks, and more adventure! That's my mantra of 2011.
What's yours?

I'll think of you all fondly when I'm standing on the Great Wall of China, and freezing my ___ off as the Mongolian wind roars over the mountains. Cheerio!

Monday, December 20, 2010

book giveaway!

Today was our very first snow here in Boston. I find writing in the winter particularly satisfying, because I don't have that feeling that I should be doing something else. Are you kidding me? It's freezing out there! Why not stay home in my cozy socks and sip tea? As long as I get some work done, of course.

And work is exactly what I have ahead of me. If the draft in my bag at the moment is any indication, there are global revisions on the horizon. This is enough to give me a writerly crisis, but as it is a holiday-ish time of year, I'm trying not to stress about it. Too much. Where will the doubt and worry get me? Nowhere. Just wound up like a peppermint twist by the time I actually sit down and work on my new draft.

As a distraction from my current writing woes, I've got a book giveaway to share with you! To enter, follow my blog at it's new home: I'm giving away Lauren Strasnick's new novel, Her and Me and You; The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan; Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle; and, of course, signed copies of The King's Rose and The Blood Confession. I plan to send the books out next week, after the holiday rush. Please check it out.
I'll be sure to blog again soon about my revising (rewriting) adventures. Until then: deep breaths. Cozy socks. Lots of tea.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Demise of the mega-bookstore?

Barnes and Noble and Borders are both reporting troubling numbers. B&N seems to be holding on just barely, but Borders is closing yet more stores. I was talking to another writer friend of mine, and we had some interesting thoughts about why this might be happening, beyond the looming bugaboo of e-books.

I've always thought it strange that, even though young adult books are the fastest growing and most lucrative genre going right now, Barnes and Noble stores dedicate comparatively little space to this genre. Fiction for adults takes up easily more than three times the room, even though YA novels sell like hot cakes, and not just to the target audience. Lots of adults read YA too. Seems as though B&N isn't quite keeping up with the trends in the marketplace. What's more, they stock a very limited selection of YA novels, dedicating huge amounts of shelf space to best selling writers and very little to the well-reviewed midlisters. So a voracious reader might easily exhaust the selection at the local B&N and instead resort to ordering books online, or going to the library, where there is a wider selection of quality writing.

My friend also had a very interesting thought. She feels that the larger stores neglect regional needs. There are plenty of writers, like her and me, who are very well known in their own geographic region because we tend to do events near our homes to cut on travel costs. Word gets around about local novelists, and people go to their local bookstores looking for their books. But try to find one of our books at the local B&N or Borders and you can't. So all the benefit of the publicity we do regionally is lost on the megastores, and the slack is taken up by independent bookstores (and more power to them) as well as online sales. 

Ask any ten readers about the threat of e-books to the printed tome, and the majority will tell you they are too attached to the sensory experience of holding a book. The smell of printer's ink, the feel of the rough paper under our fingertips --they're part of the pleasure of reading. Perhaps these megastores should stop looking at the scary boogie man outside their doors, staring through their windows with digital eyes, and instead focus inwardly on improving how they go about peddling that ancient technological innovation: The good old book.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thrilling Holiday Gifts for your Author Friends

The holidays are fast approaching and you need to find those perfect gifts, including ones for your writer friends! Susan Kaye Quinn’s fun post on her Ink Spells blog about holiday presents for writers got me inspired to research and think up more great gifts.

You could buy your special author friend a party dress made entirely out of paper—specifically, out of phone books, designed by the awesome Jolis Paon. What a cool way to recycle! How about a gift certificate to a day spa for a massage, focusing on your writer buddy’s troubled neck. Or what about a tropical cruise? Neal Schusterman, the YA thriller author swears by cruises, and says that’s where he writes his best novels! Does your friend like jewelry? What about custom jewelry for writers? Tickets to hear your friend’s favorite author speak will, no doubt, be appreciated. A chocolate keyboard? Or simply some random keys? If your beta reader has a philanthropic streak, you could donate money to his or her favorite scholarship fund., for instance, funds Freedom to Write and prison writing programs. Or you could donate to an scholarship fund, such as the work in progress grant for a needy author. A gift certificate to your friend’s fave indie bookstore is always a sure bet. Does your friend like to entertain as well as write? Then how about a great authors coaster set? Cups that say “Be careful or you'll end up in my novel” are always conversations starters. Finally, for the fanciful cook or writer of historical fiction, you could always gift a digital Medieval cookbook, with recipes from 1390, some from Richard II’s own kitchen!

What is your dream present? Any other great ideas to add to the list? Feel free to list as many as you want! And don’t get too distracted by putting up the tree and making sprinkle cookies to keep on writing!