Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's makes an author?

I recently downloaded an ebook I thought sounded interesting. The story indeed is interesting, but the errors, stilted dialogue, and predictable events leave me cringing at times. And the whole of it got me thinking. I would love the tale if the author had studied the craft of writing enough to construct good dialogue and had someone edit it, even just a little.

Writers can get published in today's world so easily, the ebook rush, the ease for someone to become their own publisher. That does not mean that all self-published folks are hack jobs, though.

I've studied writing since the early 1990s, spent my every waking moment juggling kids and one lesson book or another. I worked with instructors and then editors and if they had a suggestion or complaint, I studied until I understood what they were saying. I studied it until I knew it all inside and out. I even got bites from publishers and worked with more editors. But the changes they wanted in the characters and story lines, I just couldn't do. My books are not about the blood and gore (they have it, but I don't focus on it), they are about the characters and their hopes and dreams. I didn't want to turn the stories into every other book out there. Since I had the opportunity to learn publishing, I went out on my own. 

So are my books worth less than those published by Random House or Penguin? Some would still say yes, for certain. I say read one of my latest books before you make a judgment.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I haven't always loved books. I remember being read bedtime stories and the ones I wanted to hear over and over again. But there were quite a few years when I was younger that books weren't an every day thing, they were a luxury. My first chapter book that I can remember came from a flea market. I probably still have it here somewhere in one of the two totes that store everything I have from my childhood. It was a mystery, an old one with Trixie Belden as the main character. Every time we visited the flea market or anywhere that had books, I would look for more. From there I was hooked.

I had a beautiful childhood, lots of extended family, an aunt I considered my big sister, cousins galore. But on the day to day basis of a work week during the summer, I was basically on my own, having to occupy myself. Not hard when I spent those days on my grandparents' farm. I dug clay out of the dam my grandfather had built and shaped it into all kinds of animals. Birds were the easiest. I fished a lot. Got really good at playing pool by myself. And when I discovered books, I spent a lot of time on the porch swing going on adventures with other kids my age. My reading and comprehension improved quickly and my wild and crazy imagination found a purpose. It wasn't long before I started dreaming up adventures for my own characters.

Books still save me from the harshness of reality sometimes. They've rescued me many times over the years, both reading and writing them. It's an escape I think too few people use. Life can get downright nasty at times. It can't be ignored. Unpleasant things need to be taken care of and dealt with. It's refreshing, though, to open the cover of a book and leave life behind for a half hour or so a day. And sometimes what can be learned inside those covers can help you get a good perspective on a bad situation in life. Books aren't only for vacations where everything is great. Take refuge in them sometimes even when things aren't.